April 2014

Amongst The Myriad: Dan Charnas – The Big Payback

Dan Charnas- The Big Payback (The History of the Business of Hip-Hop)

This bible sized book is literally a chronological tale of the growth and evolution of Hip-Hop from conception to full fledged global cultural tidal wave. With a topic this vast a book this big will always to tell to much and not enough at the same exact time simply due to its length. The grand detail and overall story arc covers so much and at the same time may leave the reader wanting more or wonder why in such great detail their favorite obscure artist was overlooked or skimmed past. This is a great book for any true fan of the culture; it may be too much for someone who is just learning about the rich history of Hip-Hop. If the reader doesn’t know who the Beastie Boys are then the detailed story of their discovery and signing to famed Def Jam label may seem like excess. Perhaps the origins of the Wu-Tang Clan may not appeal to fans born in the mid 90’s and raised on “old school” acts like G-Unit (something new comer Chief Keef actually said before about G-Unit). Stories of Ed Lover and the earlier days of Yo MTV Raps and Hip-Hop’s commercial break through to mainstream American television may almost seem like fiction to a younger audience. The entire book is broken up into albums, side A and B included for authentic vinyl heads, and runs all the way up to the present Kanye West days. For those who want to get a better grasp of how Hip-Hop got to become the global force that it is today I definitely recommend this book.

Run The Jewels ‘Run The Jewels’ Album Review

Killer Mike and El-P follow their critically acclaimed collaborative effort “R.A.P. Music” in a slightly different way. This time around El-P picks up the mic as Killer Mike’s tag-team partner in rhyme along with handling production. Together they make up the group Run The Jewels and bring Hip Hop back to it’s hardcore beginnings with this menacing free album. Filled with dark humor, hardcore rhymes, dangerous beats and intelligent insight ‘Run The Jewels’ is an album which fully makes use of all the ten tracks. Keeping it short and impactful, Killer Mike and El-P eliminate any unnecessary filler. The only two guest appearances are from southern legend Big Boi on “Banana Clipper” and Long Island legend Prince Paul on the hilarious “Twin Hype Back”. This album is more than just hardcore rhyme after hardcore rhyme on the tracks “Sea Legs” and “A Christmas Fucking Miracle” El-P and Mike both bare it all, and speak on their personal internal struggles as well as universal struggles and odds we all collectively face. “Job Well Done” has both MCs blacking out and El-P delivering one of the best verses on the album with a detailed account of the world going haywire over the release of this new project. “Never Come Down” is more than just a drug binge turned into a song, Killer Mike spits arguably another one of the albums best verses, flawlessly mixing strip clubs, ancient Egyptian tales, molly, and the rare “Black Madonna”.

Rating 8.3/10

Kanye West ‘Yeezus’ Album Review

‘Yeezus’ finds Kanye West taking his art to it’s highest level. Stripping down and going completely left field Kanye shows he is completely fearless as an artist not only sonically and through presentation but also content wise with this latest album. As far as presentation goes ‘Yeezus’ went completely anti. From ‘cover art’ to leading single Kanye took an entirely new approach, something very few artists do, especially artists of his caliber and stature in music. To have arguably the biggest pop star on the planet go completely anti-pop is a giant risk, but Kanye for the most part manages to pull it off and make it seem natural. Combining his frustrations with the fashion world and his realization of the true power balance of the world Kanye unleashed his most fearless song to date with “New Slaves” not only is there depth lyrically but artistically he turned this lead off single into a brilliant performance art piece that only someone with the artistic credibility and power of a Kanye West could do. Using this song as a sort of chess move against corporations and corporate greed “New Slaves” is definitely one of West’s ‘genius’ moments. While going entirely left field West still manages to hook the listener in with catch phrases, chorus and devilishly hypnotic beats. The controversially titled “I Am a God” has one of the most memorable and possibly silliest lines of West’s career in “hurry up with my damn croissants!” A song stating that anyone can turn themselves into a “God” and everyone the masses elevate to this almost God-like status is no different than them. This album is definitely any album that must be listened to multiple times before truly appreciating it’s artistic value. Even the features of the album come in in non-conventional ways, Chief Keef appears just for a few bars on a hook to the industrial rock sounding “Hold My Liquor” Frank Ocean appears at the end of “New Slaves” on a section that could be considered an entirely different song. Kanye even brings back Uncle Charlie on the finale “Bound 2” which sonically is the closest to vintage Ye’ on the album.

Rating 8.9/10

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