Azealia Banks is an unsigned 20 year Harlem born rapper whose debut song “212” is ridiculously good. Right now you can’t buy it anywhere but its a huge club hit and Pitchfork named it one of the 10 best songs of the year. Three days ago I had never heard of her. Since that time, I’ve listened to this song about 15 times and can’t get enough. Others think so as well. Mumford and Son’s keyboardist Ben Lovitt called the rapper’s single ‘mind-blowing’.
Flavorpill’s Judy Berman had this to say about her:
Azealia Banks is its future. In a year that brought us the confounding viral success of Kreayshawn, we’re clearly hungry for women in hip-hop. But Harlem’s own Banks, who topped NME‘s 2011 Cool List and had been an under-the-radar critical favorite for a few months before that, is far more likely to sustain the momentum for long enough to release a great album. Mark our words: 2012 will be the year of the smart, funny woman emcee.
I wholeheartedly agree is female rappers are going to put out more songs like “212.” Please note, there are some choice words in it, so if you happen to have any kids or prudes around, you might want to listen using your headphones. Happy Friday – enjoy.
The “13 Chambers” album was finally released and I’m making my way through the tracks now. Rolling Stone has a good review of all of the songs which lists which Fugazi and Wu-Tang Clan songs are sampled.
For instance, the song that I like the most right now is “Another Chessboxin’ Argument” because it uses lyrics from what might be my favorite Wu-Tang Clan song, Da Mystery of Chessboxin.” To me, “Homicide is illegal and death is the penalty” is one of the best lines in any song ever. Rolling Stone says,
RZA snares run into a chopped-up “The Argument,” the title track from Fugazi’s final album. Wu’s three iconic verses from “Da Mysteries of Chessboxin'” sound still more panicked under the mellow riff. MacKaye takes the chorus: “Here comes the argument/Folderol” is not a bad description of some of Wu’s knottier verses. Bonus punchline: MacKaye’s lilting “Here’s what’s striking me” into Meth’s demand: “Hey, you, get off my cloud!”
List to “Another Chessboxin’ Argument” below or check out all the “13 Chambers” tunes on Soundcloud.
Before I start to focus my posts solely on the long term negative ramifications of the current duopoly that is running this country, I want to at least acknowledge one of the things that makes happy – namely good music.
As William Congreve wrote in “The Mourning Bride,” music has charms to soothe the savage beast. One of the types of music I love is the mashup genre, though only when a mashup is done right. The Judgment Night soundtrack.The Chef Aid album.The Grey Album. Girl Talk’s Night RipperFeed the Animals (the latest I didn’t love his latest one so much). All of these I would consider great mashups.
Now, I want to add the rap-collective Doomtree’s “Wugazi” project to the mix. They have put out a single called “Sleep Rules Everything Around me” which is a mashup of the Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.” and Fugazi’s “I’m So Tired.” It was released online yesterday and it already has had almost 24,000 plays. On July 13, Wugazi’s album “13 Chambers” is expected to drop – the title itself is a mashup of the Wu’s seminal “Enter the 36 Chambers” and Fugazi’s “13 Songs” album titles. Based on the way that “Sleep Rules Everything Around Me” sounds, I believe it will be as Johan van der Smut, aka Goldmember put it, “tight like a tiger!”
Check out the song below (if it doesn’t play, don’t blame me, blame Steve Jobs because you are probably on some sort of Apple machine): Sleep Rules Everything Around Me by WUGAZI
Nobody usually likes to wait but today the adage “good things comes to those who wait” is an apt one for me. While awaiting my lunch order’s completion, I grabbed the latest issue of the Village Voice and in skimming through it, I learned about Blakroc, a collaboration between The Black Keys and 11 rappers (such as the RZA, Raekwon, Mos Def, Q-Tip, etc) who were gathered together by Damon Dash.
The Black Keys play music that sounds “old.” By that I mean that I thought they were a late 60’s / early 70’s band that I somehow did not know when I first listened to their tunes a few years back. The last time I made a mistake like that was when I heard Lenny Kravitz for the first time. While I haven’t gone to a Black Keys show yet, I would definitely say I’m a fan.
I’ve just spent the past 30 odd minutes on the Blakroc site listening to and watching various smokey recording (and other) sessions and boy oh boy would I have loved to have been present while these tunes were being crafted. I love the idea of cross discipline collaboration and it was amazing to see classic Midwest bluesy rock mixing with strong New York styled (Wu-Tang inflected in particular) rhymes.
The Village Voice article about Blakroc mentions “Judgment Night” as an example of a Rock / Rap crossover which made me think both of that soundtrack and movie, something I haven’t done in a long time. I believe that this crossover example will be more critically and commercially successful. It’s probably not going to ascend to the Aerosmith / Run DMC “Walk this Way” level but who knows.
My favorite part of the VV article is when Dan Auerbach, the singer/guitarist of The Black Keys, compares watching Raekwon record to “watching Bob Dylan – just someone who has such a command of their art form.” Raekwon himself says that the Blakroc project “is like brilliant acid.”
The album drops officially on Black Friday (aka the day after T-Day or 11/27) and I can’t wait to listen to all 11 of the tracks. I’m betting that the album is going to make me a huge fan of some rapper I haven’t heard of before and as new music is always good music, I’m excited for that possibility as well.
I have been addicted to Rick Ross’s “Lay Back” for over a week now – I just cannot stop listening to it – and I’ve posted it for you here to listen to yourself – you tell me I’m out there or if its a bangin’ track::
Best line by far: “Number 1 at whatever, I get buddles of cheddar, ditch that black cloud, you deserve wonderful weather.”
The walking dichotomy of Rick Ross, a pseudo-gangster, maybe real gangster, and his feud with Fiddy has sent him to the top of the charts and made him stand out from the rest of the rap landscape. I usually only skim the surface of what is going on in the rap world, paying attention to the most famous / popular (unless you happen to be affiliated with the Wu-Tang Clan) and Rick Ross has done that here by elevating himself to a level that even I am paying attention. Not bad for a media savvy former corrections officer. Too bad for his persona though that Freeway Ricky Ross, his inspiration, has denounced him for his law ties.
One of my favorite aspects of his site is that his album drop countdown clock is totally off by one month on his MySpace page– the album has been released yet it says that is coming out over two weeks from now:
I read an article titled The Mining of Hip-Hop’s Golden Age a few weeks back which gave me a good list of meta-rap groups like the Cool Kids, Pacific Division, the Knux, Kidz in the Hall and Plastic Little to discover. For the past month, I’ve been checking them all out and in the process I’ve once again been amazed at how easy it is to use the Net to hear (maybe not “own” but hear) new music.
If you’ve never heard the term meta-rap, these types of groups “make music that is a commentary on what came before it. In hip-hop, which can be ruthlessly forward-looking, this is a novel development, and it has made for compelling and diverse music.”
One song that has been stuck in my head for the last month is Cappuccino by “The Knux.” I dig it and I hope you do too. Happy Friday – enjoy!
Mr. “I’ve got a permanent beef with MTV” Kayne West is super hot and winning his album selling contest against 50 Cent because he took the beat from Daft Punk’s Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger and created a monster hit called “Stronger.” This song is my current favorite hip-hop tune by very wide margin. If you haven’t heard it yet, you are living in a cave.
For instance, it’s so popular that 30 Seconds to Mars covered “Stronger” in a really decent way on BBC Radio 1’s Jo Whiley show. You have to listen to some other music from the program but its worth it. You can skip ahead – the song is played about 25 minutes into the program.
Aside from the awesome opening of “Let’s get lost tonight – You can be my black Kate Moss tonight,” the start of the chorus is what I truly love about the song. The lyrics are, “N-now th-th-that that don’t kill me – Can only make me stronger” which paraphrases an ultra famous Nietzsche quote – “Whatever does not kill me makes me stronger” – which also happened to be my high school year book quote.
The idea that as long as you are alive, you can rise above and get past whatever life throws at you has been a guiding principal in my life. It has helped me get over and get past a lot of bad shit over the years. Not only are the words powerful on their own, but with the added bumping bass and catchy Kayne lyrics, I see listening to this song as the aural equivalent of slamming down two freshly brewed cups of espresso.
Bill Simmons, also known as the Sports Guy, often writes very funny columns about how sports and life intersect. for ESPN. Some are just too wonky (in a sports sense) for me and the fact that he is from New England and therefore loves the Red Sox and the Patriots rankles me to no end. So, I read his column now and again but not religiously like some sports nuts I know.
That being said, his recent column titled Hip Hop Woodstock in Vegas about the recent NBA All-star game in Vegas was not only long but laugh out loud funny. I’m sitting in the Hard Rock Casino right now still laughing as I think about what he said and how its so true. Enjoy.
I awoke this morning to find a nice little shout out to me about my current favorite rap group Blackalicious on Blah Blah Blog. Here is the first sentence of the post:
“Maybe I am old and out of the loop, but I just discovered the genius of Blackalicious, and it took a Jewish guy from Long Island to introduce me.”
My street cred has probably now increased at least 25% due to how I’ve helped spread the word about Blackalicious’s delicious rhymes and deft beats. I can go on and on about how amazing this group is but really Chris’s post says it all, plus, he provides an opportunity to download Alphabet Aerobics, the songs that first made me love the group, as well as Chemical Calisthenics, which actually makes physics sound gansta. As Chris put it, they are “like Kool Mo Dee with a master’s degree.”