When Billion’s album, SPF Dirty, hit my desk it instantly caught my eye. How could it not? The cover is a gorgeous bikini-clad woman at a beach. No head, though, just the body. Being a big fan of flat stomachs I popped the album in. Turns out, the listening experience is just as good as the visual one, as Billion is nice on the mic. That’s why this week I caught up with him to find out more about his work, the change he’d like to see in hip-hop, and why he’d consider interrupting one of Clint Eastwood’s award acceptance speeches.
Hip Hop duo Reflection Eternal, composed of Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek, are teaming up with producer Statik Selektah for an official Reflection Eternal mixtape. Slated to drop on New Year’s Eve, the project will include new songs from the album as well as unreleased material and classic tracks.
Reflection Eternal is also preparing for the release of their second studio album, Revolutions Per Minute. The first two singles off the unreleased album are "Back Again" which includes a video, and "Just Begun" featuring J. Electronica, J. Cole and Mos Def. The project was originally slated to be completed and released before the close of 2008.
The 2000 release of Train Of Thought, Reflection Eternal's first project, had two hit singles ranked in the top five of Billboard U.S. Rap charts. "Move Somethin" peaked at number one and "The Blast" peaked at number two spot.
Revolutions Per Minute is expected to drop in February 2010.
Former Hot Boy B.G. has announced that he will be leaving T.I.'s Grand Hustle Records, according to HipHopWired.com.
The news comes on the heels of the rapper's latest release, Too Hood 2 Be Hollywood. "I'm gonna be a free agent," explained the rapper in an interview. "I'm gonna sit down with the people that closest to me like my manager and lawyers and see what's the best route to do. [Grand Hustle,] no, all that's over with. [T.I.] was the executive producer of the project with me when it was on Atlantic. After the situation with him and the Hip Hop Awards, they kind of froze up on me, kept pushing the album back. This was pre-recession. Once I felt like they were playing with me, I stopped calling, got back doing what I was doing, creating another opportunity."
Amidst speculation that he might reunite with Cash Money Records alongside Lil Wayne and Birdman, B.G. only said, "If the numbers right, if it makes sense."
Figured I put enough work into this video to make it relatively professional in appearance to warrant plugging beyond the typical message board format. As such, please find the truncated version of my initial forum post (edited for brevity and removal of first person accounting), humbly submitted to you in the event you see fit to run it. As I am not up on whether videos can be embedded in notifications, I figured to just leave the link. I was thinking a title along the lines of "Sankofa releases stop-motion video." As such, here's the release:
After a drawn out battle with minute rice and approximately 1100 images shot with his digital camera, Sankofa buckled down at the computer and spent the second half of his life editing this video. The backing track, "tic tac toe", is an Adrien75-produced song from Music with Friends 5, an EP you can download for free at http://www.obeseamerica.com
1. Roddy Rod - Donny's Carol 2. IV - Shift 3. Pharcyde - Y? (Jay Dee Rmx Instro) 4. Prickly Pear - Don't Say Goodnight 5. K-Def - For Da Family 6. DJ Devastate - Some Nights 7. Kev Brown - Snowfall (Happy Holidays) 8. DJ Honda - Travellin' Man (Instro) 9. Pete Rock - Standard 10. Big Pun - I'm Not A Player (Instro) 11. Zion I - Inner Light (Instro) 12. Insightful - Reset 13. DJ Shadow - Midnight in a Perfect World 14. Roddy Rod - Cold Outside (Christmas Time)
Released by: SUBSONiQ Release/catalogue number: Episode #11 Release date: Dec 22, 2009
Rec-League’s Grip Grand is a rapper and producer from SF/LA, California, whose work has been featured in publications from XLR8R to XXL. He appeared on URB Magazine’s prestigious Next 100 list in 2005, and the East Bay Express named him Best Rapper in their 2007 Best Of…issue. His most recent album, Brokelore (Look Records, 2008)—featuring appearances by Percee P and AG (DITC)—was spotlighted by XXL’s Chairman’s Choice, Okayplayer’s Blogarhythms, and other well-known resources for high-quality hip-hop. The press has compared him to everyone from Andre to Kanye, from the mighty Mos Def to the metal-faced Doom, and his vocals have been sampled by Madlib. From punchlines to poetry, battle raps to ballads, Grip Grand covers the map. They don’t call him Mr. Versatility for nothing.
T.I. isn't home yet, but the rapper appears to be on the road to freedom as he TI to serve out the remainder of his sentence, his attorney told MTV News. Tip was serving a year-long sentence for felony weapons charges at a low-security federal prison in Forest City, Arkansas.
A report from XXL magazine on Tuesday morning first indicated that that rapper had been released. Steve Sadow, a lawyer who represented T.I. in the case, confirmed the information to MTV News, but as of press time, he wasn't sure if his client had arrived at the halfway house.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the rapper will be serving out the remainder of his sentence at Dismas Charities Atlanta West in Georgia. A spokesperson for Dismas could not be reached at press time.
"If his full-term release date is in March, it's not uncommon for an individual to be released to a halfway house to serve out the last portion of their federal sentence," Bureau of Prisons spokesperson Edmond Ross explained. "There are a number of factors that need to be considered: if the person is not a danger to the community, the current offense, the individual's prior criminal history, the availability of programs and space availability."
According to a representative for the agency who spoke with MTV news on Tuesday, however, prison records indicated that T.I. was still in custody at Forest City. A rep for the rapper's label had no comment on the matter, but multiple sources close to the rapper's camp suggested that he was in fact released to the home on Tuesday.
T.I. was originally sentenced in April of this year to serve 366 days in prison following an October 2007 arrest for illegally attempting to purchase firearms. He began his prison stint in May, after serving over 1000 hours of community service as a part of a plea deal he struck with prosecutors to avoid a lengthy jail sentence. When he is released from the halfway home, he will have to complete 500 more hours of community service and serve out the rest of his home confinement, which could be upwards of 20 to 60 days.
If you saw ads on television last night saying Young Money was only $9.98 at Target, I've got news for you - the Super Target I went to in Omaha was not honoring that offer. Fortunately Best Buy is offering the album for $9.99, so it's not that much different. We'll have a review of "We Are Young Money" up later today. Also for those who saw Lil Wayne's "Rebirth" in weekly advertisers for Best Buy or Wal*Mart, or pictures of happy Wayne fans with the album in hand online, neither store is honoring the advertised date and is explaining to everyone who asks that it was a mistake and the album is not available. Some online retailers are now listing a new release date of December 30th or 31st. We'll keep you informed if that changes.
Not many applications for the iPhone or iPod Touch are geared directly towards a hip-hop audience, but Delicious Vinyl Records aims to break from the norm with a low-cost app set to some classic rap they call Delicious Vinyl DJ. Coming in at an affordable $2.99, the price is certainly nice, but can the game live up to the hype? The press release makes this bold claim:
"Delicious Vinyl DJ puts anyone with an iPhone inside the DJ booth and behind the decks cutting and scratching across the greatest golden era hip-hop tracks ever! Don’t just play along with the song, bust a move out of the living room and work that cut! Get the party started anywhere! Match multi-colored notes as they flow down the screen; trigger scratches on two turntables with a thumb twist or tap a button on the mixer in time with the music to score points. Just like a real DJ, increased accuracy determines how fresh and tight the mix will sound and gets you more points! Delicious Vinyl DJ delivers the party to wherever you are – no peripherals or add-ons necessary!"
Let's put that to the test. DV was kind enough to send me a promo download code to review this app, so just in time for the holidays I'm gonna let you know whether or not it's worth burning a bit of that iTunes gift card you got as a stocking stuffer. The logo after installation is closeup of vinyl on a turntable, so there can be no doubt you're clicking on something for those who love to DJ. The game launches with a remix of Tone Loc's "Wild Thing" with an unnamed wax spinner cutting up the phrase "let's do it" over and over. After about 30 seconds - silence. I suppose most people will have followed the instructions to "tap to start" by that point but as a reviewer I wouldn't have minded if they let that opening music loop.
Speaking of "tap to start" the game is not SUPER responsive when you "do it" - you may mistakenly believe your device has frozen. Wait 15-20 seconds and eventually you'll see a logo for Young MC's "Bust a Move" superimposed over a turntable with three choices - play, buy song, or visit site. Obviously I'll push PLAY. The game offers three more choices - easy, medium, or hard. Since I've never busted this move before, let's go with easy to start. A voice says "let's get scratchin" and a loading notice pops up. Load times in just about every area of this game are a negative, but given we're working with compressed memory on a portable device that's to be expected.
The meat and bones of Delicious Vinyl DJ is a familiar "Guitar Hero road," which you travel forward on while the song plays in the background. In the bottom half of the screen you've got a wheel of steel on either side and some sound effect buttons in the middle. Periodically you'll come to points in the game to bust a funky scratch, signaled by an arrow telling you to backspin or move ahead, and occasionally one to juggle the beat back and forth. If you hit the right move at the right time, you score points, and if you hit enough right moves in a row you get a bonus multiplier. Yup, this is Guitar Hero for turntable junkies. Of course with games like DJ Hero you get a full sized controller to spin on, and though nobody's sent me a promo for that one (probably because it costs $99.99, not $2.99) I suspect it's a lot easier to control. If you've DJ'd for real you have to untrain your instinct to move the entire record with your hand and scratch with one finger, not to mention the touch screen doesn't always respond when you think it should. If you have "fat fingers" forget about it - this is definitely a game for the nimble.
Getting the timing of Delicious Vinyl DJdown is a bear, but once you do it's a lot more fun for only $3 than most of the apps I've seen for sale (like I really want to feed koi fish, c'mon). Best of all the selection of songs is pretty deep for a small price - Young MC's "Bust a Move," Tone Loc's "Funky Cold Medina," a hard rock remix of "Wild Thing," Pharcyde's "Passin' Me By," Masta Ace's "Born to Roll," Mr. Vegas' "Put it Up" and an Eminem remix of "Slaughtahouse." At a buck each you'd spend $4 more getting these songs individually from the iTunes store, and here you actually get to interact with the tracks. If you're a Guitar Hero or DJ Hero fan I suspect you'll appreciate the effort DV made with this app. If you're not into beat or rhythm video games, or you are but prefer a full-sized controller, it's not for you. At such a low price point I have to think this game will have more converts than detractors. If you own an iPhone, go out there and bust a move.
* Design: 6.5 out of 10 * Replay: 7.5 out of 10 * Overall: 7 out of 10
"There are only a few producers out there in rap who can get away with putting their name on an album and be a bigger star than anyone rapping on their tracks. There are even fewer who can crossover from hardcore hip-hop heads to become a mainstream household name. There's only ONE who has scored chart-topping hits for Bubba Sparxxx, Justin Timberlake and Missy Elliott while still managing to get away with freestyling on their songs"
Blee :: The Black Lion Chronicles Chapter 2: Respect Your Legacy :: Cross Seas Entertainment as reviewed by Emanuel Wallace
"The press release included with this album addressed my initial question of "Who the hell is Blee?" As it turns out, Blee is actually an acronym for Black Lion of Eternal Excellence. The name was bestowed upon him by his father and it has stuck with him. He's lived in a few places that range from the Caribbean to Canada to the UK, and as a result, Blee's music is a mixture of Caribbean swagger, the passion of the American hustle, and a slight touch of the British die-hard attitude...or at least that's what the press kit says."
Chokeules :: Hypergraphia :: Dehsloot Productions/Backburner Recordings as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"Ladle Rat Rotten Hoot? Dehs loot eht, n the tool shed. Confuzzled? No probalo. Like Chokules I'm playing games with the printed word. Hypergraphia can be writing sentences that can be read as palindromes, or converting words into phonetic similars, such as Ladle Rat Rotten Hoot sounding like "Little Red Riding Hood" with an accent if you read it out loud. It also doesn't have to be anything of these things - it can simply be an obsession with writing. Chokeules claims to suffer from this syndrome on this full length LP, but it's far from a debut musically. Perform Chokules has, Aceyalone with, Lootpack with, the Dude Devin with, the Sensei El with, Canada and stages United States on. This album shows Chokeules is experienced in hip-hop and ready to play word games with the listeners worldwide on a 14 song CD."
"Still, like 25th Hour, the work is first and foremost about the struggles of its protagonist. KM discusses himself with a well-rounded honesty nearly without parallel. On "Give Out, Give In," over a lonely, minimalist jazz-beat, the MC finds a remarkable middle ground between emo and uplifting in an authentic and vulnerable discussion of his "ten year bout" with depression. Concededly, our b-boy speaks well of himself a great deal, but instead of engaging in bland self-aggrandizement, he portrays himself as an adult who has been battling with himself for years and is finally winning. Lines like "I feel reborn like a Christian basking in holy water/I feel reformed like a prisoner free holding his daughter," speak to a genuine and gradually developed self-esteem, not an over-compensating machismo."
"For over ten years, the Kottonmouth Kings have been ignored by most mainstream media outlets while continuing to release album after album. In the process, their fan base has continued to flourish and grow, much like the pot and mushrooms they openly indulging in. A common belief is that marijuana usage expands the mind and allows for more creativity. With the Kings, I'll take that as the truth due to the fact that it has been quite a while since the Kings released an album that didn't have at least twenty tracks on it. Just a year after the release of "The Green Album", the Kings return with the fourth installment of their popular "Hidden Stash" compilations. This particular joint (pun intended) consists of forty tracks, split between two discs, and features guest appearances from the likes of Tech N9ne, X-Clan and Potluck."
"Having first been introduced to Atherton almost a year ago to the date of this review, I was pleasantly surprised to learn of his new group The Leathers. While Ath is certainly dope enough to hold down any project on the solo tip, collaboration is definitely where it's at in 2009, so I can't fault him linking up with a like-minded artist named PBRAIN to drop a group album. Their self-titled debut is described as an EP, but at ten songs long it's a little more than what I usually think of as an extended play - yet simultaneously a little less than what I think of as a long player. Perhaps that just goes to show how outdated these terms are as vinyl holdovers in a largely digital age, even though neither this reviewer nor either of the artists on it would knock the value of wax to hip-hop."
"Let it be said that Nomak's "Calm" was a fine choice to represent for the Japanese hip-hop sound. Unfortunately I can't give you much in the way of biographical info about this producer - he's got a MySpace page with no bio and a personal website with a bio painted in kanji that I can't even cut and paste to translate. My apologies to the artist and/or his fans. So instead of telling you what I can't, here's what I can say about Nomak - "Calm" is a very fitting name for this beautiful album. If you can picture yourself at a hanami (cherry blossom) festival, enjoying the tranquil beauty of nature and taking in the mono no aware of it all (the ephemeral and transcendent nature of life) all while listening to shakuhachi set to a smooth hip-hop beat, then you've got the very essence of Nomak down before even listening to "Calm.""
"The 2-1-3's own "Top Dogg" of hip-hop is virtually synonymous with hip-hop at this point. He's fought the law AND won, he's got more platinum on his walls than Paul Wall has in his mouth and he's loved everywhere from the East coast to the Dirty South. At this point Snoop Dogg has only one enemy who can disrupt his career - himself. His iconic status and name recognition could carry even a mediocre album to the kind of sales most artists dream about, so if Calvin Broadus just said "fuck it" and phoned it in with no enthusiasm he'd still win anyway. Artists who reach that level have to carefully check themselves to make sure they're peaking creatively and still staying relevant to their loyal audience who has been down since day one."
"Steve 'Flash' Juon made a pretty convincing argument for Aussie hip-hop while reviewing Illy, and I've reviewed a handful of Aussie hip hop albums myself, so I won't spend too much time defending the genre. From the few acts I've encountered on Obese Records, namely Drapht, I know that they specialize in more positive, conscious hip hop. Thundamentals fit that category. Comprised of DJ Morgs, Tommy Fiasko, Jeswon, and Tuka, the group's eponymous EP was named "Best EP of the 2008" by Ozhiphopa.com. After listening to their debut LP, "Sleeping On Your Style," it's not hard to see what people got excited about."