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"that made him smile, though his eyes said, 'pray for me.'
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September 2, 2014 at 6:57pm
4 notes

ramonvillalobos said: Do you mess with Eric B and Rakim at all? I find it hard to listen to their full albums because I have a hard time listening to 5 minute Eric B tracks. It always sounds to me like he's overcompensating on songs without Rakim imo

Yeah, I think they’re good together, but I tend to take them on a song-by-song basis. I’ll rarely vibe to Paid in Full just because, but if Don’t Sweat The Technique is on in the car nobody’s allowed to say or do anything until it’s over.

I like Rakim a whole lot, Eric B less so. I sorta wish Rakim’s solo album (the Aftermath solo album) had materialized, because Rakim Allah over Dre’s hottest ghost-produced Scott Storch beats? Son.

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eddiemonotone said: Thoughts on Aesop Rock, if any?

I’ll tell you two thoughts:

I like him so much that I made the instrumental version of None Shall Pass my alarm when that album came out, and within two years I was basically completely unable to listen to that song, because it gave me the jitters. It’s better now, but there’s still a spark there. Same is true of Atmosphere’s Good Times (Sick Pimpin’).

I’ve only been to two concerts as an adult: Aes Riggedy Rock, Mr Lif, and C-Rayz Walz on the Bazooka Tooth tour, and Icona Pop on whatever tour they were on late last year. I’m still not sure if concerts are my bag, but I liked both.

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samriedel said: Do you have the energy to opine about Nicki Minaj? How successful do you think her Sir Mixalot subversion was?

The song’s lowkey mediocre but not wack. She gets to show off her flows but it’s in service of sorta half-baked raps. I like the idea, not the execution.

Luckily the video is hard af. It’s the perfect video for that song, which isn’t an indictment of the video or song’s quality. It’s just the perfect pairing, and ending with Drake reaching out for a handful and getting dissed is the most CrazySexyCool thing Nicki has done thus far.

I have a friend who likes Minaj and we both like her for different reasons. I like the raw skulduggery-type spitting she gets down to, while she likes the more anthemic records. We basically split custody. It’s real cool that Nicki can sit in that position. I feel like a lot of other, lesser rappers couldn’t.

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franzferdinand2 said: Do you prefer Nia or Blazing Arrow?

Blazing Arrow. It was my first Blackalicious record and it’s got not just Chemical Calisthenics on it, but a great vocal sample title drop, First in Flight, and Release.

I must’ve come to Blackalicious via Saul Williams, in hindsight. I’ve been a fan of his for a minute, it’s mostly Frost/Keats/Williams as far as poetry goes for me, and hearing that he was on a song with Zach de la Rocha laid me out. His verse is still harder than a Spanish test. This kills me to this day:

"I can think of nothing heavier than an airplane
I can think of no greater conglomerate of steel and metal
I can think of nothing less likely to fly
There are no wings more weighted
I too have felt a heaviness
The stare of man guessing at my being”

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jonhparrishthefirst said: Are you big into the current battle rap scene? What style do you prefer? The KOD-type "obscure anime reference" nerd rap or the URL "my gun is so big it shoots other guns" gangster rap?

Ah man, I keep trying to find an entrypoint. I used to like battles a lot, and rap beef can be a ton of fun, but I have a hard time sitting down to watch an hours’ worth of battle raps. I did try to check that one where Joe Budden got chewed up but I think it was PPV so I just lived vicariously through Twitter.

I think I’d lean toward the gangster battles over nerd raps. Nerd stuff is cool, but the best rappers know how to make a room full of folks go “OOOOOOOOH” and “I could hit your hard drive with a spirit bomb, your raps ain’t worth saving/Or playing, or saying, but yo…I’m just saiyan” doesn’t really move the needle for me. The best is that middle of the road thing, like when rappers secretly show off how dorky they are in the middle of some thug thizzo by pulling off wild formal tricks and unlikely rhyme patterns. I like them lyrical, but not lyrical miracle lyrical.

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Mos Def - Champion Requiem

"If you see or hear goodness from me, then that goodness is from the Creator. You should be thankful to The Creator for all of that, ‘cause I’m not the architect of that. I’m only the…the recipient. If you see weakness or shortcoming in me, it’s from my own weakness or shortcoming, and I ask The Creator and the people to forgive me for that.

Thank you, Brooklyn.
Thank you, world.”

29 notes
Reblogged from seanwitzke

'The Hateful Eight' 101: A Look at the Films, Characters, and Ideas That Might Shape the New Quentin Tarantino Western →


I wrote about the new Tarantino trailer / script leak and a handful of westerns for Grantland. This was a super fun. Check it out.

August 29, 2014 at 9:36pm
6 notes

bensears said: How did you feel about Nas' Life Is Good?

It’s the best he’s been since Hip-Hop Is Dead. Untitled was super dope that summer it came out but it hasn’t aged well at all. But, Nasty? I’d pay ten bucks for Nasty. It puts me in mind of Nas’s verse on Wu-Tang’s “Let My Niggas Live” in subject matter, but he’s got a fast-paced and engaged flow so the song’s just pure spitting for three minutes. It’s the rappity rappest thing he’s done in ages, and when he first said “I’m just having fun, I ain’t even begun to black” I’m not even lying when I say that I immediately started the song over so I could hear it again, but not too soon. The song’s great and the chorus is a sample + ad-libs, a technique I like a whole lot. It’s the Nas I like a lot.

But Nas is Nas, and Daughters is what Nas always does. It’s not even the worst song on the album, but it’s that kind of well-meaning smart dumb thing Nas does all the time, a real swing anna miss. I get it, I totally see why this song is what it is, but I wish he had thought it through a couple more times and maybe left out the part about how much thugs respect him in a song theoretically about raising his daughter.

Accident Murderers with Rick Ross is incredible, the ultimate gambit from Ross. Can The Fake Gangster believably show up on a song hating on fake thugs? Like…yes, this is rap music, this song is dope just based on that concept alone, even though both dudes do exceedingly generic verses in their expected styles. Nas x Scarface had a similarly terrible hook (I’m glad “wet” as a synonym for murder got retired) but was way iller on both sides. This sounds like I like it ironically, but I don’t. I like it, but I like it for stupid reasons. It’s just aight.

The Don is pretty okay. Stay sounds fantastic, fantastic sample. Mostly, Life is Good is just mediocre with a couple highs. As far as somewhat creepy break-up albums go, Robin Thicke’s joint was way more john blaze than Life is Good.

I just read up on Kelis’s album since I haven’t heard it yet (Beats Music is solving that as we speak) but according to wikipedia she dedicated songs to how much she loves her kids and made a modern take on funky older sounds overall so it’s clear who was the brains of the operation

actually now that I’ve thought about it, it’s probably exactly as good as untitled, I just like them for vastly different reasons

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falseprophecy said: So in other genres of pop music, covering other artists' music is common practice. Cover bands are/were commonplace bar entertainment. I don't see it as much in rap music. Does the culture of sampling make it redundant?

To be honest…I don’t “get” covers. I like a few, like Al Green doing the Beatles, but I never think, “I need to hear a cover of this!” I did buy that album of John Legend covers the Roots were on, though. Honestly, I keep getting surprised by covers and maybe that’s why I don’t get it. I was listening to Puss’n’Boots, the secret country band that Norah Jones is in with three other ladies, and super into it, and it turns out 7 of the 12 tracks were covers so I guess I’m a fan of country songwriting now I guess. I was before, in the abstract, but now it’s like “where do you even find Neil Young mp3s” and a lot of sighing.

But really, I feel like the rap version of cover songs is a little better than regular cover songs. Why remake some other dude’s song when you can make it…better?

For instance, this is Bobby Shmurda’s Hot Nigga. This beat is bananas and so basic at the same time. Shmurda shows up mostly off confidence alone. He sounds kinda Un Kasa in terms of quality, or maybe even Hell Rell good, verging on a Dipset Anthem-era Juelz Santana. (I hope you know the Dipset scale!) But Shmurda’s got the dance and he’s first on the beat and I fux with it.

This is Cory Gunz’s version. Gunner’s rap royalty because his dad’s Peter Gunz and he’s technically on Lil Wayne’s label, so he’s no nobody. He’s talented, too. He would’ve snatched 6 Foot 7 Foot right out from under Wayne if not for “real Gs move in silence like lasagna,” coming with a verse like Beanie Sigel showing out on Adrenaline. But Cory didn’t show up. The video is way hotter than his verse and the video is just regular old hood verite. It’s mad generic.

But here’s Vado and Riq Bubz. Only the first dude matters for the purposes of this argument though, and that’s Vado. He’s like the epitome of his type of rapper, like an exceptional unexceptional dude. Not cool enough to cross over like a Jay-Z, but still lyrical enough to be mad listenable. I like Vado a lot, his Slime Flu tapes are good, and he shows up here. Good verse, he fits the song well, and the video is a new twist on basically the same thing Cory did. I think it’s mostly that Vado puts his personality front and center, with a bunch of ad-libs and jokes in his verse. Maybe it’s the swagger.

I guess jacking for beats is just a cover in reverse order, the music remaining the same while the words change, but I’m super into this. (At one point I had a couple dozen versions of “A Milli,” and now I don’t listen to “A Milli” ever.) I don’t think sampling killed the cover, though. Most samples aren’t used in a cover-y way, outside of egregious examples like Diddy in the ’90s or whoever. I honestly can’t think of a reason why they aren’t more common in rap. I’ve never really thought about it. This probably didn’t answer your question but now you have a lot of homework!

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neveraskmetohail said: Do you have any particular favourite repeatedly used sample? Like a Funky Worm or a Mystic Brew? May as well ask if you also have any favourite constantly riffed on lyrics too...

I love “You out there? Louder!” It’s in everything. The abundance makes it feel real comfortable and familiar. It’s from a live version of Mountain’s Long Red, which, in hindsight, has also been sampled in a bunch of stuff. I didn’t even realize some of these had the same origin as Louder!. I just flicked through the first three pages of samples and recognized 85% of the songs.

"Yeah hoe" from all the Three-6-Mafia stuff sounds like the south to me, basically, even though I’m not even from Memphis. Even Big KRIT used it in Mt Olympus. Just something about it…as soon as it drops, it’s like, Oh, I’m on familiar ground, I’m about to hear somebody with a twang snap. There’s a sample Lil Jon used to use, the lady saying “yeah” or “yep?” Same feeling off that one.

As far as actual music goes…I’m not actually sure. (I’m listening to this to jog my memory.) I like Nautilus or whatever, I always get a kick out of recognizing that in songs, especially now that I’ve actually heard Nautilus. That’s probably easy mode though. Good interview with Bob James here.

I think I get more excited when people flip songs I know well, like Chance the Rapper flipping Slum Village’s Fall N Love. I was mortified when J Cole did it with a classic Kast and Tribe song on the same album though. Good songs but he bit off more than he can chew. The horns from TROY are huge for me, but don’t feel that common.

I still get excited every time I recognize a sample, though. I love it. I’ve learned so much from wikipedia and Whosampled. Like…Joni Mitchell? Holy crap??

I have favorite lyrics too, but that’s a longer conversation. Fab opening each Soul Tape with the same two bars is iller than most rappers get in a career. Pharoahe Monch recycles lyrics a lot, always twisting them into new contexts. “Threw a rock and I ran” echoes throughout his discography, and even “my dick rules everything around me” from The Ass gets remixed on his new album into something wild positive. I like that stuff.

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willsee90 said: "Let My" to "I Can't Go To Sleep" on The W… Best song transition in rap or just dope?

This is an incredible question. First, Let My has what’s possibly my favorite intro in rap ever, something I’ve thought about a crazy amount of time. I keep meaning to watch the movie it’s from just in case si es mi destino morir en la calle como un perro, jajajaja. And yeah, that transition is bugged out. The W was a really well put-together album, it’s just a few of the songs were pretty wack. Braver than it was smart. But these two songs next to each other, and the rewind in I Can’t Go To Sleep, good grief. It kills me.

But I think my favorite transition is on Purple Haze, previously written in 2001. “Santana’s Next…” on Intro is the perfect outro for anything. I’m not even kidding. You can butt any song up against Intro and it’s a smooth handoff. Cam gets you primed for anything to show up, like an opening comic, and then bam, you’re in another world. Even just “Santana’s next…” as a sample would be dope, but the transition from Intro, which is like laid back Cam but super swaggery like opening credits, to More Gangsta Music with an ultra hype Juelz AY AY AY Santana and Cam kicking color flows? AND THEN there’s a skit that introduces the album? On track three?! Who does that?! It’s not even a question. Dipset.

I like the intro to Get Rich or Die Trying a lot, too. It’s another universal intro. You could put that in front of Norah Jones’s Miriam.

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chdr said: How do you rank Kanye's albums?

Hmmm… Late Registration just barely over My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy over College Dropout equals Graduation over Yeezus over maybe three tracks on 808s. I’ll never listen to Watch the Throne (unless an instrumental drops) or everything after the first half of the verse of Robocop on 808s again because life is too short for wack albums.

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calebtheraconteur said: Favorite female rap artists?

TLC is tops, I think, though they aren’t solo artists. CrazySexyCool is exactly what the title claims, a genuinely Great album, five mics easy. 108 mics even.

Past that…I’ve liked Jean Grae a long time and it’s great to see her diversifying her work. She’s super clever and smart, and has been since she was What What on that High & Mighty song about masturbation. Her delivery of “Oh, oh well, I wouldn’t y’all thinking I’m a sadomasochist” has stuck with me since I was a teen. It’s so…funny kinda undersells it. It’s good acting in a song full of goofy lines. She over-pronounces sa-do-ma-so-chist, too. Like…she kinda got at Kool Keith on that one. And Keith is full-on Keithed out, talking cruising around town naked bumping James Brown.

Trina is probably next after Jean Greasy. You know how part of why the Clipse were so tight was that they were above basically everything? Scorn rap? That’s Trina. Look Back At Me is wild explicit, but with good humor? Like her nose is kinda in the air and she can’t believe you’re even standing there, but sure, let’s see where this goes. (Good Killer Mike feature, too, but that R Kelly line is a lil “ayoooo” even if the pause after s genius) People are jonesing for Nicki sonning these punk dude rappers with sex raps—Trina’s been doing that for ages. She’s not lyrical in the sense that Grae is, but she’s a good writer. You can tell she’d chew you up in the dozens too.

Missy Elliott is on about the same level as Trina. I ain’t much of a dancer, but dance numbers are no joke. It’s what the game’s been missing, no juelz santana. I’m stoked for her comeback. She’s a beast.

I like Gangsta Boo a whole lot. Her album with La Chat, WITCH? Hoooo whee. Buss It reinterprets the chorus from Project Pat’s Y’all Niggaz Ain’t No Killaz, Y’all Niggaz Some Hoez so I was bound to love it anyway. Come to think of it, La Chat was on the intro to that one. Her feature on OutKast’s I’ll Call Before I Come was straight, too.

I was a big Foxy Brown fan as a kid, and Lauryn Hill obviously. Bahamadia was always dope but I don’t think I ever picked up her album. I like Rah Digga a whole lot. I always feel like i’m forgetting someone when I do favorites. Angel Haze is pretty good but I fear she may end up being Canibus II in the end. Or maybe whatever you get if you merge Canibus and Papoose’s careers. Remy Martin was always reliable. Lady Luck was dope.

You can probably tell what era of rap I grew up on by the people I mention, huh?

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n8atkinson said: Ok, so who did that song "Do the Stevie?" I thought it was KMD, but I can't find it on line...

I haven’t even heard of that one and KMD is before my time so…I got nothing but like to think it was Harlem Heat during the height of their powers

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constellation-funk said: do you have any thoughts on Gucci Mane, the guy himself or his music?

As a person? Ehhhh, but Free Gucci I guess since he got locked up recently, but we’re probably safer with dude in jail. I wouldn’t want him to kick anybody else out of moving cars or anything.

As a rapper, I like Gucci, but I make sure to only take Gucci in in small doses. A couple weeks with Trap God, a couple months off. Past a certain point he stops being enjoyable, like I hit my limit of what he does. Got the same problem with Ross. I can listen to Waka all day though.