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Showing posts from December, 2013

Life OST 2013 Day 26: m-flo - No Way ft. Kiko Mizuhara

It's sad to say, but I had almost forgotten m-flo released an album earlier this year. Entitled "NEVEN", it's the second album m-flo has released (in as many years) since their return following the end of their m-flo loves project. They still make good music sometimes, but the vast majority of it goes a little overboard with the electronica/dubstep-type feel, and I can't get into it.

Still, NEVEN had a couple of really good tracks that were worth keeping on my mp3 player. This is one of them:


Featuring one of my favorite verses from new-school VERBAL against a beat that's sure to piss all your neighbors off if you play it at the proper volume, No Way is (in my eyes) one of the saving graces of NEVEN.  And who knows--m-flo changes up their style almost every five years, maybe their "fourth incarnation" will work better for me.

Life OST 2013 Day 24 - D-Pryde - Dannie Riel

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I'm suffering from repeats, but I don't care.  This song is fucking FIRE and this is probably the best I've heard Russel lyrically in a long time, his rapid-fire delivery matching the high energy of the beat perfectly.  Plus a video featuring the lovely Dannie Riel herself along with the hilarious guys from 4Ya'llEnt (also from Canada), I couldn't not include this track.

Life OST 2013: Day 23 - Dumbfoundead - Fck It feat. Breezy Lovejoy, Nina Kasuya, MURS

It's not from 2013, but yeah.  This is where I'm at right now.  Like I said, PARKER has been on a ridiculous killing spree in terms of producing music lately.  In fact I would be surprised if we didn't see another project from him in 2014.  At any rate, Fck It came from Dumbfoundead's Take the Stares album from November 2012.  Featuring a laid-back beat with beautiful vocals from Nina Kasuya and two great guest verses from Breezy Lovejoy and MURS, Fck It features each rapper reflecting on the cost of success and what's left if you don't choose to use your talents to the fullest.

Something to think about.



Battle Rap Saturdays: Head Ice vs. Daylyt

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Battle of the Bay 6 was a fucking monster in terms of matches.  I haven't actually disliked a battle from it yet.  It's not quite Grizzlemania 2 but it's definitely the event of the year and if BOTB is known for being amazing this new one didn't let us down.

Now as far as this match goes...it's your classic "set two opposites in the ring, see what happens" deal.  Daylyt is known for being a weird guy, with gimmicks in pretty much every battle, he's even exceptional at battling with some crazy (if a bit eccentric) wordplay and lyricism.  Head Ice, on the other hand, is just...cool as fuck.  He has that "boss" attitude, and while his wordplay may not be out of this world, it's decent enough and backed by pure comedy in his lines.

It's just a one-rounder, so its hard to call.  One rounds are easier for the battler in a couple ways: for one it's much less likely they can mess up their rounds because they don't have to waste time…

Life ST 2013 Day 21: PARKER - Clear

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Two songs from the same artist, I know--but let's face it: Jonathan Park a.k.a. Dumbfoundead a.k.a. PARKER has had a REALLY good year.   In fact, that's one of the things I admire the most about the guy--his work ethic is rock solid.  He's consistent both with music releases (this mixtape actually follows an album release by about four months) as well as music videos, like this incredibly creative one here:

Life ST 2013 Day 20: Childish Gambino - Telegraph Ave. (Oakland)

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Because the Internet wasn't what anyone expected, if I had to guess.  Personally I think Gambino got so caught up in the instrumentals of his album that he forgot to rap for most of the album.  Even this song is roughly 70/30 singing, but it gets a major pass because the instrumentals don't overwhelm the vocals and sonically it's just amazing to listen to.   When I think about it it's even more heartbreaking than LES; at least that relationship was mostly meaningless.  

I'm posting this from the future (future...future....) so I can't honestly say if this is my favorite song off the album yet--I know I like BTI but as far as what REALLY sticks out there's nothing as overpowering as Heartbeat or LES just yet.  I DO know this probably hit closer to what he intended for the album for me than most of the rest of the album.

Life ST 2013 Day 19: Jhene Aiko feat. Childish Gambino - Bed Peace

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Simple lyrics, but backed by a beautiful voice and a lovely melody.  Oh, and an amazing verse from Gambino.  What's not to like?

Life ST 2013 Day 17: Pharrell - Happy

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For a guy who hasn't released a solo album since like 2006, Pharrell has been a near phenomenon this year.  People keep talking about refusing to be put in a box and yet here's Pharrell doing music with Two Chainz, The Weeknd, Robin Thicke and Daft Punk like it's just an everyday thing.  Here he is dropping a solo track--there's not much depth, but it's a well-produced, fun, poppy track.  Sometimes you need that instead of relentless srsness in music.

There's a 24 hour version of this...somewhere...but man, I just don't have that kind of patience.

Life ST 2013 Day 16: The Weeknd - Wanderlust

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This song...really should've been a single.  Channeling Michael Jackson but with lyrics that are so very Weeknd, Wanderlust is one of those songs that's incredibly catchy and fun to listen to...until you notice the lyrics are about something incredibly fucked up, like it being better to forsake empty promises of love for temporary carnal pleasures.  Yeah.  Still a great song though, especially this Pharell remix.


Life ST 2013 Day 15: Crystal Kay - My Heart Beat

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After dropping one of my favorite albums of 2012 in VIVID, my wife (lol) Crystal Kay dropped this amazingly infectious dance track My Heart Beat at the beginning of the year.  I was hoping it was a lead-in to a new album later this year but obviously since we're in December and I haven't been raving about it that never happened.

Oh well.  I still have this track, and the hope that Dum Ditty Dumb isn't a portent of things to come from my favorite J-Urban songstress.

Life ST 2013 Day 14: Daft Punk - Get Lucky

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This was one of the most popular albums to release this year, and while I've never been a big Daft Punk fan, I gave Random Access Memories a shot and was pleasantly surprised.  To be honest instrumental music isn't really my thing, but the voiced tracks all found pretty powerful replay value in my mp3 player (read: Blackberry).   And yes, there's a reason why this thing is so popular--it's really well done.  This song goes on for how long on the album?  Seven minutes?  I bet more often than not you let it ride until the next track.   It's that addicting.

Life ST 2013 Day 13: Hoodie Allen - Cake Boy

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It's a contest between this and No Interruption as to which song of this guy's I like the most right now, but this is one that actually came out this year.  Also, one of the coldest baselines I ever heard.* 

I discovered Hoodie Allen when I bummed a ride home off a friend a couple months back.  Another of these new cats who inexplicably have better production and better beats than so-called "veterans", Hoodie Allen is on his way to being a master at his craft with a surprising ability to vary his flow but still ride the beat perfectly.

* ...And yes, the drop-dead gorgeous women REALLY helped.

Life ST 2013 Day 12: Miguel feat. Kendrick Lamar - How Many Drinks Remix

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Since we hit the "urban contemporary" era, there really haven't been that many people in the R&B lane who are really willing to actually sing.  Miguel is one of those few, and between him and Kendrick Lamar they managed to create one of the few R&B classics of the year.  I admit the song took awhile to grow on me, but now that it has I honestly can't stop playing it.

Life ST 2013 Day 11: Chris Brown - Fine China

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So, Chris Brown is a morally reprehensible human being, on a good day.  That's established.  He's also kind of an idiot, or at least that's usually where I put you if you get a tattoo of stuff on your face.   However: He didn't write thesong, and he didn't produce the song. He just sang the song, and you could have gotten any of a dozen other R&B niggas to do the same job, in that case.

That said: The song is catchy as fuck.  This much is undeniable.  So allow me to apologize for this being on the list by giving you some kick-ass dance choreography instead of his corny ass video.


Life ST 2013 Day 10: PARKER - Angeles

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I still don't have the full story on why Dumbfoundead changed his name to PARKER, but let's just go with it.   This song came out of a project a lot of L.A. rappers did with guitar player and producer Jose Rios called To Live and Grow in L.A., it's out now at Jose Rios' Bandcamp page so pick up a copy--it's only $10 and features music from a ton of other talented emcees.

Now as for this song: Just...damn.  While ruminating about the lovely ladies in the City of Angels, PARKER reminds us that regardless of name-changes he's still got the best flow in the game, absolutely obliterating this laid-back Jose Rios base guitar beat.

Life ST 2013 Day 9: Big KRIT - King Without a Crown

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The argument has been made that I don't care for trap beats, or Southern music, but this couldn't be further from the truth. The only thing I don't like are people who can't rap.   Observe what can be done with a "hood" beat when the person on the mic is actually, y'know...good.



Big KRIT is one of those guys who could probably be a lot bigger than he is with a larger presence on YouTube.  As it stands the dude is still incredible.

Bottom of the Pile: December 4th, 2013

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Iron Man 19


Nnngh.  I am quickly being won over by Gillen's new Iron Man arc, "Iron Metropolitan".  Though the last issue's end scene was a little eye-raising with regards to the whole "Mandarin Corps" idea, it really feels like Gillen has finally laid all the ground work with the standalone issues and the first arc, and now he's finally telling the stories he wants to tell with Tony Stark.   What I love the most about Gillen's run so far is two-fold: First, it's not a complete 180 from Matt Fraction's amazing Iron Man run, but instead a progression in terms of both story as well as character.  Second, the array of new ideas and characters being utilized.  Iron Man should always be a book that plays with the highest level of bleeding edge technology, and as we look at Tony rebuild an entire city from the ground up, I think that's what we're getting.
Of course, when you have a character like Iron Man, where everything is about the be…

Life ST 2013 Day 8: Sara Bareilles - Brave

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One thing 2013 managed to surprise me with after the amazing year in music 2012 had was just how many quality projects came out.  Sara Bareilles' The Blessed Unrest was a project that actually slipped under my radar for several months until random brain associations reminded me that I hadn't heard from her in a while.  Lo and behold, she had dropped a project in July (I was two months late as it was September), with this gem of a single.

Brave is one of those songs that's almost a little too saccharine and positive, but there's an earnestness to the lyrics, a catchiness to the music itself, and as always Sara sings her fucking heart out and the combination of these three factors make a dynamite track, and a fairly good album too.






Life ST 2013 Day 7: Chance the Rapper - Juice

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It honestly took me a really long time to become a fan of Chance the Rapper.  When Acid Rap first dropped early in the year, I tried it but wasn't especially impressed.  This can largely be attributed to the mindset I was in, and when I tried his work again during the summer, I started to notice what everyone else already saw: dude's got a fucking insane flow that's this weird mix of lazy and hyper all at the same time, and always manages to perfectly fit whatever beat he's on.   See the above for proof.


Life ST 2013 Day 6: Big Sean ft. Kendrick Lamar, Jay Electronica - Control

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You knew this would be on here.   What would've been a fairly decent song even without that verse (Big Sean and Jay Electronica were actually good, after all) became a galvanizing anthem, a call to stop all the bullshit that we've let filter into rap & hip-hop.  Something that created a genuine rap holiday...at least if you're into all that shit.  

As to whether or not that happened?  We'll find out next year.  No matter what a ton of mostly irrelevant rappers will tell you, Kendrick wasn't trying to inspire a series of diss tracks where people hopped on "Control" to talk about how Kendrick was a sell out or wears dresses or whatever the fuck.  It was supposed to give rappers a swift kick in the ass and tell them to cut the bullshit and start making good records again.   And that's something that'll take longer than the couple of months this song has been out.

VGX 2013 Expectations & Predictions

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As with most awards shows, Spike's Video Game Awards have become known for another factor much more than the awards: game reveals.  With that, and the consistent dip in ratings in mind, Spike has been inspired to attempt to cater to the core gaming audience more, so it's undergone several changes: it will be streamed online first on pretty much every device you can think of, it's now three hours long, and will be centered around trailers for new games along with early gameplay looks for games we already know about.  (Also probably commercial free but I haven't confirmed that yet.)

In any case, with the VGX less than two days away, I thought I'd go over a few expectations I'm excited for, along with some "reasonable" predictions based on some educated guesses I'm making.

Expectations


The Witcher 3
One of the first games created that got gamers excited for the "power of next-gen", The Witcher 3 was announced in early February of this year. …

Life ST 2013 Day 5: D-Pryde - Faded

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The li'l homie D-Pryde stay pushing forward, as this sounds incredibly different from Flagship.  But what I'm most impressed by is how consistent his production is.  Whoever he has working for him is sick, as even when D-Pryde's lyrics aren't the best the music gets the song where it needs to be.  Fortunately on this song both come together to create a track with a fairly typical message (the way life changes on the road to success) but an eminently playable one nonetheless.

Battle Rap Wednesdays: Charron vs. Arsonal

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My body just realized I was done with school so I was in a coma most of the day.  That's why this is so late.  In any case--usually I don't post Arsonal battles.  The guy rambles on forever without any actual punches so it's hard to listen to him.  The presence of Charron seems to have gotten him a little more focused though.

...For all the good that it did him.  This was a great battle, minus Charron's silly shit in the third round trying to rep Grape Street.  Fortunately its in the third round and near the end so 95% of the battle is fairly enjoyable.  I'm calling it as a Charron 2-1, because between getting the bandana took and just overall not being as funny as Arsonal's third, there's no way this is a 3-0. 

That said, this battle has revealed just how deluded a ton of battle rap fans are.  So many people are refusing to give Charron this battle, even calling it an automatic bodybag for Arsonal.  I seriously hope Ars doesn't believe any of that non…

Life ST 2013 Day 4: John Legend - Save the Night

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"I'm not a one man band...I wanna sing a duet...you and me would sound much better..."

John Legend is one of those dudes who's immensely talented, and yet still somehow hit or miss with me.  But not on this song; Legend's vocals worked together with some absolutely superb production (that piano and bass line are insane) to create a truly catchy, mature R&B song in this era of auto-tuned club-focused dance records.

Life ST 2013 Day 3: Schoolboy Q - Collard Greens

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TDE members Schoolboy Q and Kendrick Lamar teamed up to make one of my favorite tracks of the year.  I want Oxymoron to be the album that tops GKMC once and for all...but I'm worried because I think a lot of them NY rappers just might kill themselves if another West Coast cat came through and killed the game for another year.  That would be...well, hilarious, but also sad.

Anyway, this song is the shit purely off the chorus, nevermind the fact that Kendrick spits an amazing verse that's half-Spanish and Schoolboy Q drops two hot verses on his own.  I can only imagine the reason this isn't the next "Swimming Pools" is because alcohol is still better to promote in most radio sponsors' eyes than marijuana.  Whatever.

Life ST 2013 Day 2: Rittz - Like I Am

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Does this video make sense?  Nope.  Is the song still dope?  Si.  Signed to Tech-9's Strange Music label, I wouldn't have known jack-squat about Rittz if it hadn't been for The Smoking Section, and that would've been sad because dude is amazing.  Rittz is a rapper that provides premium class whip music, but with his ridiculous flow and perfect delivery, there's a ton of replay value to his songs.

His album The Life and Times of Jonny Valiant dropped in April.  Go pick it up on Amazon.  16 tracks of the purest kind of hip-hop.

Life ST 2013 Day 1: Loaded Lux - Krazy Arthur

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Doing this project again, since the last time I did it I had really enjoyed picking out the songs and deciding what to use from which artist.   The only thing I'm doing different this year is that I'm only picking songs from 2013.  Despite some missteps this year, there's been a bevy of artists releasing some of the best music I've ever heard, so it'd be a disservice to include music from years prior, especially when so many people are making claims that "music is dead".



So let's start out with a song from battle rap veteran, Loaded Lux.  One of the early singles used to promote his mixtape, "You Gon' Get This Work", Krazy Arthur is a solid song with an upbeat tempo that perfectly fits lyrics Lux is spitting on here.

Surprisingly, Loaded Lux is another battle rapper who breaks out of the box of being a shitty songwriter, with his mixtape being a largely solid effort from a rapper who, until his battle with Calicoe, I had never heard of.…