Posted by Grubeats on January 14, 2013
Grubeats; fashionably tardy as always. I can’t promise I’ve saved the best for last, but hopefully this eclectic mix of tracks tickle’s at least party of your fancy. I’d enjoy hearing from you in the comments section if you have opinions on any of these songs!
12.) Skizzy Mars – Sirens
This young star didn’t sound my radar until late spring of ’12. I had heard the name and few scattered verses, but overlooked the true talent Skizzy Mars was bringing to the table until I first heard “Sirens”. With sounds similar to a young Cudi, Skizzy himself only recently graduated high school and has only begun to lie the brick and mortar for long, prosperous career.
11.) Skrillex & Damian Marley – Make It Bun Dem
As you probably know, I’m not a die heard EDM head like many writers and followers of this site. No kandi for this kid. I do however, enjoy just about anything Skrillex lays his hands on. Couple the addictive production with Damian Marley’s rasta raps and you have pure gold. If and when hip-hop and EDM cross paths, this is the type of execution I expect. [Watch video HERE]
Continue reading for Top 10!
Posted by jeffwbaird on September 23, 2012
In 2006 when Nas claimed, quite controversially, that “hip-hop is dead,” he was on to something. One of hip-hop’s purest lyricists, Nas grew to fame in the early ‘90s through his poetic rapping and political subject matter—qualities that had become largely extinct from popularized hip-hop in the early 2000s. Hip-hop grew to prominence as the voice of disadvantaged America, but had become dominated by label executives; tastemakers prioritizing simplistic lyricism and rhyme schemes (along with incorporating the catchy choruses of pop music), and simultaneously degrading the quality of an art form.
Over the past decade, I have watched hip-hop become increasingly saturated, as pop culture continues to endorse formulaic hip-hop, typically including repetitious and easily accessible hooks, and raps using simple A-B rhyme schemes that delve lightly into a number of prescribed topics, such as the desire for fame, women, braggadocio, and partying. This sub-genre of “party rap” became widely popular in college environments, and seemed to promise any student with an aptitude for parties and a junior-high vocabulary the opportunity to earn a remunerative career as a rapper.
Through the surplus of undergraduates-turned-rappers, a new sub-genre, often coined “college rap,” began inundating blogs and steadily saturating the industry. These upstarts idolized the popular artists of the time, basing their craft off the lackluster wordplay and superficiality that dominated college radio playlists. When Asher Roth’s single “I Love College” rose to prominence in 2009, this movement hit the limelight, and suddenly students stopped studying law and medicine to follow their newfound dreams of being the next Mac Miller or Sammy Adams.
What is highly underestimated, however, is the amount of skill required to be an emcee of Nas’ caliber. If you take the time to listen to his first album Illmatic, Eminem’s Infinite, The Roots’ Phrenology, or any number of ‘90s or early 2000s records, the sophistication of the lyricism, content, and rhyme schemes is staggering. Becoming a prominent emcee used to require being sufficiently educated on the English language, as rappers constructed multisyllabic rhymes infused with alliteration, internal rhyme, and other complex literary elements. Just listen to Kinetics in his recently featured song, “Chris Nolan,” where he raps, “I spit sinister symbolism that’s killing all these silly simile single syllable singing simpletons.” Eminem has said in interviews that he used to study the dictionary as a child. If you listen to “Lose Yourself” closely, you can note that there is not a single word in the song that doesn’t rhyme with another. The reason it’s problematic to equate him to Asher Roth (besides the fact that it’s just rooted in race), is because Em rose to fame because of his pure lyrical power, and Asher made it off of artificiality.
The “change in leadership” that Nas referred to in interviews surrounding “Hip-Hop is Dead” highlighted that as the preferences of record companies have shifted, the music has changed with it. Political, socially conscious hip-hop is no longer seen as profitable, and thus labels won’t promote it. The biggest controversy surrounding this power battle occurred in 2008, when Atlantic Records shelved Lupe Fiasco’s third album for almost a year because of his defiance when asked to make a “radio-ready” single. Unfortunately, our Lupes are few and far between, and the majority of my favorite emcees are a far cry now from the substance-driven music they initially created. It doesn’t take long in the industry to understand what type of music is advantageous for one’s career, and it seems all but a few choose money over message. In this sense, rapping has become quite like corporate law; individuals work exceptionally hard to excel at a practice they believe in only to abandon their values in pursuit of a more lucrative opportunity.
I have always loved hip-hop, and that passion will always persist. But I want to live in a world where I don’t have to search for underground rappers to convince a friend that all hip-hop isn’t violent, misogynistic, and devoid of content. The reason that it became such a red flag for white, suburban kids to listen to hip-hop is that our mainstream culture assumed we were only listening to the 2 Chainz and Chief Keef’s of the world. No wonder they didn’t understand. Most critics of hip-hop have never heard It Was Written, Midnight Marauders, or Like Water for Chocolate. They haven’t paid attention to Macklemore on the new XXL Freshman List. Instead, they have seen Machine Gun Kelly and Roscoe Dash.
I’m not asking for you to agree, or to all of a sudden change your preference, but I’m asking us to be conscious of what we consume and what type of hip-hop we’re promoting when we share it. Our choices ultimately get reflected in who’s in the magazines, who’s on the radio, and even who’s getting a record deal. I’m always careful to promote new artists who have something special to share (see Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore, Blue Scholars, Logic, Kinetics, Dylan Owen, Accent—just to name a few), and I’ll continue to do so. But many of hip-hop’s forefathers are on their way out, and it’s up to us to make sure the right artists of this new generation end up on top.
Posted by Grubeats on May 21, 2012
Outside Mario Kart 64 and the occasional game of Wii ping pong, I’m not much of a gamer. I do however know that gamers love music. What better way to get you amped up for the release of Ghost Recon: Future Soldier video game which hits stores at midnight than a new track from Compton’s finest young gun. So while you’re waiting in line tonight with your Taco Bell party pack and 6 pack of Monster, let this one run through your headphones. For those of you non-gamers, still give this a listen cause we all know new K. Dot is nothing less than spectacular.
Posted by Grubeats on April 19, 2012
Although Vevo prematurely released this video back on April 3 when Generation X hit digital shelves, the video was quickly pulled and saved for a release earlier this week. As most of you probably know by now, The Dean’s List recently delivered one of the top hip-hop albums of 2012 in “Generation X”, a comprehensive journey of life. Beginning with birth, Sonny, Mik, & Mendoza share their story thus far with a track for each step of the journey. ”Take Shape” focuses on the point where recognition sets in and their careers begin to come to fruition. Sonny laces up with his Hendrix looking wig as FTS Creative shoots some trippy visuals for this light party anthem. My question to you is, who has the best costume?
Purchase on iTunes: The Dean’s List – Take Shape
Posted by Grubeats on April 3, 2012
Just over a year ago, The Dean’s List took the blogosphere by storm with the release of their highly successful and career defining mixtape, The Drive-In. Prior to that release, the Boston trio consisting of Sonny Shotz, DJ Mendoza, and Mik Beats had released a haphazard mixtape, Undeclared, on iTunes with hopes of collecting some coin for their 100% in-house work. If you ask them, they will likely all agree this wasn’t the right move, but luckily they recovered control of the wheel and drove-in to their self dubbed genre, “It’s The Dean’s List”. With infusions of hip-hop, pop, electro, classic sampling, an offering of unconventional bar and song lengths, placed them in a lane of their own.
While The Drive-In instilled the mentality of “F it I’m young” into the ears of its listeners, Generation X takes you on a journey through the come up The Dean’s List have experienced thus far. I have not listened to the project in full yet, but I did just contribute to its rise to the #1 spot on the iTunes charts. From what I have heard of the project, I will say Mik and Mendoza have taken their production to the next level once again, offering up an organic blend of all different genre’s while Sonny continues to deliver first string lyrics that are far deeper than the rap. For anyone who appreciates up and coming art, invest the $11.99 in this album and I can guarantee you will not be disappointed. If you’re still skeptic, go ahead and download The Drive-In for free and listen from start to finish.
Above, is the video for “Youth” featuring Sid Sriram (ironically Mik’s roommate from freshman year), shot and directed by Elan Alexenberg of FTS Creative, one of the best at his craft. This video depicts the message behind the song to a T, stuck in between being a kid and fame.
Special shout out to the whole Dean’s List roster along with Dani Ummel (the bodacious vocals behind “No Sleep” off The Drive-In), who makes 5 appearances on this album.
Purchase Album on iTunes: The Dean’s List – Generation X
Posted by Grubeats on March 22, 2012
There are rapper’s and then there are students of the game. Azad Right is an honor roll student. This new track is conceptual view of Azad’s musical influences that have shaped him into the artist he is today. As you’ll hear in the song, his idols and influencers range from all genre’s of music, but Az pulls aspects of each genre and generation which have become the building blocks of his personality as an artist. There’s no question Azad has an old school sound. Very aphoristic yet authentic in his delivery. In order to have success and be respected, it’s critical you recognize the ones that paved the way. Open up your mind to Azad Right (even if he is a Lakers fan).
DOWNLOAD: Azad Right – Old School
Posted by Grubeats on March 22, 2012
It doesn’t get much better than a Kendrick Lamar feature these days. Yeah, Game can still make a solid track, but K. Dot slaughters this this hook and the acapella at the end is unparalleled. Personally, this is my favorite record off Game’s album, R.E.D., which shaped up to be a respectable project despite the years of continued delay it kept receiving. There is a quote at the end of the video by Game, describing in a nutshell what the video represents and how he has overcome hardships like no other to make it to where he is today.
“Los Angeles, CA – Though sometimes colorful, there are two colors that stand out the most…Those colors being red and blue. When mixed together, these two colors cast a dark shadow over everything under the sun. Most are still fighting to see the light.” – Game
Purchase on iTunes: Game – The City ft. Kendrick Lamar