With the recent release of Nas’ new album “Nasir” and JayZ and Beyonce’s (The Carters) “Everything Is Love” we go look back to a time when these 2 (Jay & Nas) legendary MC’s weren’t on the best terms. For all alternative Hip Hop fans the beef wasn’t as exciting as hearing prolific super producer Madlib remix the 2 for his enigmatic mix series “Mind Fusion”. Check out this #ThrowbackThursday gem below:
5. Jay-z 4:44
4:44 sits as the most honest Hip-Hop record this year. Jay Z opens up about infidelity, speaks on the importance of financial independence, challenges race relations in every segment of the social ladder. All uniquely done over the first one-producer album of his career, masterfully crafting songs over No-ID sample chopped beats in an era of 808s, library snares, synths and vocal mumbles.
4. Xxxtentacion- 17
Possibly the most original Hip-Hop album to be released in years controversial rapper xxxtentacion releases the indie-alt-rock-boom-bap depressive catharsis classic. A purging of deep emotions from an artist troubled by inner and outer demons all released in top speed fashion clocking under 25min in it’s entirety. Production is as unique as it is top notch, lyrically X sings and flows over tracks expressing his pain in efforts to reach some sort of solace.
3. Run The Jewels- Run The Jewels 3
Hip-Hop heavy weights EL-P and Killer Mike have found their sweet spot with hardcore duo Run The Jewels. Both virtuosos in their own right the third installment of their releases is just as raw as their previous LPs. A beautiful mix of angst, humor, anarchy, disorder and hope. RTJ3, technically released at the very end of 2016, but officially released in physical form in January 2017, is obviously not confided to the current soundscape. Anachronistic in sound, but instead of missing a golden era Mike and EL sound decades ahead of present day Hip-Hop.
2. Steve Lacy- Steve Lacy’s Demo
Production prodigy and musical mastermind Steve Lacy, the 19 year old Grammy award winning iPhone music producer, steps out as a solo artist. Not only producing for Kendrick, Goldlink, and other major artists with tracks crafted solely on his iPhone, this The Internet guitarist is ready to step into the spotlight. Steve Lacy’s Demo is a genre bending soul, indie-rock, funk classic. At such a young age Steve Lacy sounds like a combination of soul heavy weights and indie rockers well before his time.
1. NERD- No_One Ever Really Dies
A deconstruction of sound and formula ‘No_One Ever Really Dies’ is a chaotic spiritual masterpiece. The ‘Dangerous’ (Michael Jackson) of this Funk-Punk-Soul-Rock band plays simultaneously as an evolution and devolution of the beloved melodic chords and signature sound of musics reigning super producer team. Political and spiritual themes all sprinkled in with pure genius throughout a project that blends almost every genre the Neptunes and NERD ever touched into a sound almost completely unheard. Both minimalist and maximalist NERD manage to pull together polar opposite seamlessly, ‘Rollinem 7’s’ has a distinct groove and rhythm but once deconstructed it is only 808s percussion and sampled screams as a musical bed for the MCs to flow. A far off evolution from ‘Fly Or Die’ but just as potent and genius in a time submersed in simplicity.
Hip-Hop is coming of age with every release, a genre rooted in youth culture ironically has it’s first iconic worldwide star in one of it’s elders. JAY Z who most fittingly grew up side by side with the genre, born just a few years before Kool Herc threw his first party, has become Hip-Hop’s Mick Jagger or Paul McCartney. A wide reaching figure that fans of other genres, whether fond of the culture or not, know by name simply off his fame. Even more ironic JAY Z has solidified his status in a culture based on counter-culture impulses and anti-establishment angst by paradoxically, and perfectly, playing the game of capitalism and simultaneously pandering to the pavement, concrete, and streets that are naturally the home of Hip-Hop’s true residents- the people. In this pseudo-politically correct climate most would jump at the chance to criticize such an artist, contradicting oneself is the one thing the masses can attack viciously with a clear conscience today. To the contrary JAY Z brilliantly unveils a unique perspective on a system that benefits tremendously on entire communities being ignorant to the rules of society. On ‘4:44’ JAY touches on capitalism, generational wealth, Hip-Hop culture’s generational civil war, legacy and most honestly his marital infidelities.
In a time where Snapchat, Instagram Live, and Periscope make celebrities personal lives more public than their public lives, cultural heavy weights like Kanye, JAY-Z, Beyonce and others scarcely use these apps. ‘4:44’, the title track, is a lift of the curtain, strategically piggy-backing off the ‘Lemonade’ narrative JAY bares it all in one of the most honest tracks of his career. Self-loathing, regret, and depression are not emotions we are used to affiliating with the gods of this genre, the revelation of JAY’s flaws make him, to most people’s disbelief, appear actually human. ‘Kill JAY Z’ continues this trend, JAY gives the listener a glimpse into the turmoil in his life, a genius’ mind sporadically dealing with his many multi-dimensional dilemmas. If his thoughts of ‘letting the baddest girl in the world get away’ aren’t weighing heavy enough on his mind then the apparent mutiny of his one time mentee, and present day musical icon, Kanye West add on to equate to a mesmerizing mental load. One of the underlying themes in their disagreement that may be effecting their relationship is Hov’s financial philosophy ‘what’s better than one billionaire? -Two. Specially when they’re the same hue as you’, Kanye stepping away from his Tidal deal may have cut deeper than the words he spoke while floating above fans several months prior.
‘The Story Of OJ’ finds JAY Z trying to lead his people out of the darkness, leaving a more thorough ‘blueprint’ than he ever has before. ‘Oh these people is gonna kill me! .. cause the more I reveal me the more they afraid of the real me.” The cost of truth is heavy and at the top of the game JAY no longer needs to equivocate, his view point is clear, so clear musical god Prince sat with him ‘eye to eye’ and they left in agreement. The track ‘Legacy’ plays as a farewell and doubles as the final bullet point on his financial philosophy not just his musical memory. JAY makes it clear that leaving behind wealth to his family and inevitably his people is the true mark of success.