Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Schoolboy Q's new album Oxymoron was released today and from what I've heard, it is fantastic! To get into the spirit, I've put together this very special Schoolboy Q playlist that doesn't include anything from his new album! Enjoy!
Thursday, February 20, 2014
I first became aware of Schoolboy Q back in 2012 when he popped up on a few mixtapes that had been blowing up my iPod that summer. The rapper was a standout on his features on ASAP Rocky’s Live.Love.ASAP and Childish Gambino’s Royalty (prior to these mixtapes, I had apparently also heard him on Kendrick Lamar’s Section.80, but didn’t make the connection). Like half of the artists I have covered on this blog to date, I really enjoyed what I heard when Q performed his verses on another artist’s record, but for whatever reason simply never got around to checking out his solo work. This deficit in my music library changed this past fall when I watched a Kendrick Lamar concert on iTunes where Schoolboy Q served as the opening act. I promptly purchased Habits & Contradictions, Q’s sophomore effort, and the record earned regular rotation in the car. It was a loud and fun album that was perfect accompaniment on drives to and from work and earned me quite a few strange looks from my wife when I routinely found myself singing lyrics (pretty sure “if I fucked her once, then I could fuck her twice” was a bit disarming the first few times I randomly exclaimed this around the house). Honestly though, I didn’t really think too much about Schoolboy Q beyond the fact that I found Habits to be fun. That was it…just fun music. Nothing revelatory or transcendent. Sure, he could spit like a motherfucker, but I just wanted his music to bang and I didn’t want to think too hard about it. Then I decided to give his first record, Setbacks, a listen for this blog and a funny thing happened: suddenly Schoolboy Q’s music was revelatory, transcendent, and I had to think hard about it.
Friday, February 14, 2014
Forget the flowers, chocolates, teddy bears, diamonds—I Need a Beat has you covered, yo. I put together this romantic mix that is 100%* guaranteed to get you all the sweet, sweet loving you could ask for this Valentine’s Day. So turn down the lights, turn up your boom box, pull off your pants, and get ready to get turned on**.
*Except where prohibited by law.
**This applies even if you are alone.
*Except where prohibited by law.
**This applies even if you are alone.
Monday, February 10, 2014
One of my resolutions when I started this blog was to remain open-minded about the albums that I set out to cover—I try to go into the record without the expectation that I will or will not like it. For the most part, I have selected records that I have had a genuine interest in experiencing and have ended up enjoying immensely, but I understand that this positive experience may not always be the case. Inevitably, I knew that I would stumble upon a record that I had heard fantastic things about, but for whatever reason I simply did not find enjoyable in the least. When the idea for the recurring feature about Grammy winning records occurred to me, I accepted the fact that the likelihood of listening to records that did not appeal to me was a big part of the territory. It has always been my understanding that the Grammy Awards is based on album sales, radio/MTV play, the results of executive circle jerks, etc. and not on the, y’know, actual merit of the work; so in that regard, I have never picked up an album simply based on the recommendation of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Please don’t get me wrong though, I am certainly not the type that avoids music simply because it is popular—I am quite fond of Eminem’s latest record, for example—but I have also found that there is zero correlation between the popularity of an artist and the quality of that artist’s output.
Friday, February 7, 2014
As I mentioned in my previous post, the Lady of Rage has become one of my favorite rappers. In the course of writing about Necessary Roughness, I also listened to as many of her features on other artists' records as I could find. The below playlist is not in the least all-encompassing, but is a fun mix of songs that Rage appears on. In the very least, you should listen to "Unfucwitable." There is so much good packed into those three and a half minutes—from Premier's incredible turntablism to Rage's dense lyricism. This song manages to encapsulate just about everything that I find appealing about hip-hop. Enjoy!
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Sometimes it feels like hip-hop is a sausage party. When the G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time to you non-rap nerds) conversation comes up, it is inevitably dominated by male artists. Rappers, producers, heads of labels - these populations are largely made up of dudes. In preparation for this post, I asked a friend of mine to name me five female MCs off the top of his head and he was able to do so with ease. I then asked him to name five female MCs that he actually listened to and he was stumped. Not to single my pal out here—when I posed the second question to myself, I couldn’t come up with five female rappers that I listen to either and I listen to a lot of rap with a wide variety of styles. This is not to say that my friend or I have anything against women rappers; personally, I greatly appreciate a talented woman MC and always find it a treat when say, Jean Grae pops up on my iTunes. This fascination with my own personal lack of exposure to female rappers came to a head last week as I was listening to Tha Dogg Pound (and consequently The Chronic and Doggystyle) and I realized that my favorite songs—quite possibly my favorite verses—were contributed by the Lady of Rage. I decided to listen to her first and sadly only album, Necessary Roughness, and I’m especially happy that I did. It now ranks among my favorite hip-hop albums and Lady of Rage is now one of my favorite rappers.
Thursday, January 30, 2014
The LSPD officers were only performing their duty when they initiated their pursuit after I splattered the camera-toting tourist across the pavement in front of the famous Oriental Theater. I was only following my own SOP when I dropped the grenade out of the window at a particularly traffic-infested intersection on Vinewood Boulevard. As I pulled a tricky right turn to head into the canyons, taking out a hydrant and another few pedestrians, several explosions rocked the streets behind me and those sirens that had once been too close for comfort were now silenced. My Bravado Buffalo recovered from its skid and twisted through the cramped, windy streets of the canyon; just as I was about to breathe easy, a few more cruisers appeared around a curve and had me trapped as I collided with a wall. I desperately reversed and tried to squeeze through the patrol cars as bullets riddled my vehicle and whizzed past my head. Just as I was about to admit defeat, West Coast Classics returned from a news break and funky, bass-heavy beats blasted over the gunfire asking me “what would you do if you could fuck with me and my crew?” Suddenly reinvigorated, I began shooting at the police with my - uh, grenade. That rested comfortably on the Los Santos street with the cops and me snug in its kill radius. Dammit.
Thursday, January 23, 2014
I wouldn’t say that I had made a conscious effort to avoid the musical output of LL Cool J, but I had certainly never made an effort to seek any of it out. Like many people in my age group, I was always well aware of his singles but none of those songs that I heard on MTV in my youth really attracted my attention the way that other rap music did in the 90s. I was much more interested in seeing Snoop, Dre, or anything remotely gangsta and foreign to my experience as a kid than I was in hearing some cheesy rap song about love (let me amend that - I am still more interested in gangsta rap than I am in love rap). When “Doin’ It” came out, I would have much rather listened to anything else at all but as a fifteen year old kid, I still watched the video because, uh well, dancing women. There was nothing I saw of LL Cool J’s output outside of “Mama Said Knock You Out” that drew me toward him. His growing focus at this time on acting certainly didn’t attract me either.
I pretty much forgot about LL Cool J, the rapper, for years until stumbling upon the track “Rock the Bells” randomly. After realigning my neck and calming my nerves, I allowed myself the possibility that maybe he wasn’t so bad. At this point, I was aware of his importance in the early development of hip-hop and I had decided to check out his early work. Then “Accidental Racist” happened (the rapper’s squirm-inducingly terrible collaboration with country singer Brad Paisley) and any goodwill LL Cool J had earned from me was obliterated. Let us take a moment to contemplate the lyric “RIP Robert E Lee but I gotta thank Abraham Lincoln for freeing me, nah mean.”