FREE MP3 DL: “An Adventure To Pepperland Through Rhyme & Space”

If you read the title and know what Pepperland refers to, then you know it most likely has to do with The Beatles, and it does. Now you look at the graphic and are saying “but wait, I see Ol’ Dirty Bastard here. What’s going on?” In this case, it’s a remix project where Beatles samples were used to create new instrumentals for hip-hop songs. Look at all of the people who are on it, it’s insane. Here’s the track listing:
Part 1
Hello Hello – Edan
Mr Mustard – Big Daddy Kane
Second To None – Rakim
Taxman – The Notorius B.I.G.
Gentle Thief – Nas
Where I’m From – Large Professor
Country Grammar – Talib Kweli & Bun B
Parlay – J-Live
Twist – Salt-N-Pepper
Birthday Dedication – Busta Rhymes
Open Mic Session pt. 1 – Masta Ace, Percee P, Lord Finesse, Frankie Cutlass, Easy Mo Bee & KRS-One
Number Nine – YZ
Self Titled – Heltah Skeltah
Bang Bang – MOP
Pepper – Kool G Rap
Bring Your Friends – Public Enemy
Interlude / Bridge – MC Shan
Last Forever – Artifacts
For The Children – Freddie Foxxx
Ringo’s Big Beat Theme – Spoonie Gee
Hold Poppa’s Large Hand – Ultramagnetic MC’s
Open Mic Session pt. 2 – Kool G Rap, Big Daddy Kane & Rakim
The End – Run DMC & Afrika Bambaataa
Circles – Wu-Tang Clan
Brooklyn Walrus – Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Buckshot , Masta Ace & Special Ed
Part 2
Secrets – Slick Rick
Beneath The Diamond Sky – The Genius/GZA
Within Tomorrow – Busta Rhymes
The Beginning – Sunz Of Man
Gentle Drama – The RZA & Rugged Monk
Becausizm – KRS-One & Channel Live
Mary Jane – Tha Alkaholiks
Bong Water – Viktor Vaughn
Hold On
Love In Summertime – Ghostface Killah & Beyonce
And I Lover Her Crazy – Jay-Z & Beyonce
Ruffneck Soldier – MC Lyte
Hey! – Beastie Boys
Get Back To The City – Large Professor
Hard To Leave Home – Nas
The Flyest – AZ
And Who? – Heiroglyphics
Lonely Thoughts – The Notorious B.I.G.
Can You Dig It? – Gravediggaz
How To Smile – 2Pac & Scarface
A Day In New York – AZ, Raekwon & Ghostface Killah

Stream it in full above or if you just want to download it and carry it with you on your travels, head to

REVIEW: Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience (2 of 2)”

 photo JT2020Two_cover_zpse29f502f.jpg Time seemed to go by fairly fast between the moment the first 20/20 Experience dropped and the second one made itself known. The first volume in this new Justin Timberlake musical saga ran a little over an hour, so to have an extra hour of music seemed awesome, gratifying, and insane. With the first volume, I felt Timberlake had created the perfect definition of an album, a risk in 2013 when most pop fans aren’t flocking to albums as people used to. People have continued to bash Timberlake for whatever reason: being white, being a country boy, and being someone he isn’t so he decided to challenge the naysayers. For The 20/20 Experience (2 of 2) (RCA) he decided to embrace what the naysayers are saying about him and to throw it back at everyone.

I liked the first Experience a lot so as I started listening to the second installment, I thought a few things. At first, I didn’t think these songs were that good, at first. Obviously, by calling the albums a 20/20 Experience, he wants us to get a full vision of what he’s trying to create but I wondered “is this just too many extras? Are these just songs that should’ve been left to be bonus or non-LP tracks?” The one thing that was immediate: Timbaland. His style is great and you know it is his sound that is being heard, and that made up for what I was feeling with the first two tracks. What changed things was the third track, one that featured Drake called “Cabaret”. I’m not what you’d call a Drake fan but I’ll listen, and his performance here is fairly decent. The pairing here works, and that was the moment the album got better and more interesting. While Jay-Z makes an appearance on the Experience with “Murder”, his references to John Lennon and Yoko Ono seemed half-assed and misinformed, and I felt that in a world where anyone and everyone can do a search on Google, he is someone who came off as clueless as J. Lo in the claim that Ono had what it had taken to break-up The Beatles. Incorrect, Mr. Carter, put on a dunce cap for that.

There are three noticeable things on this album that stood out from the rest of the material. “Drink You Away” has a very strong country feel with gospel roots, but it could also be a blues song. To me, it seems that if Timberlake senses his style of soul/pop could lose a following, he could always move over to the country side. It wouldn’t be a problem, and maybe people remember that photo of him with Britney Spears where they both showed off their denim duds. He most likely grow up with a good share of country too and this could easily become a song he performs next year as part of a collaboration with a country artist at next year’s Grammy award ceremonies. Or do a country remix with Lady Antebellum or Little Big Town. I can see it, and he should do it. The other thing is the rock feel of “Only When I Walk Away”, which for some reminded me of Janet Jackson when she did “Black Cat” and how people felt it was a stretch, a challenge, and a risk. One might argue that that can be said for Timberlake, which will lead others to say “well he’s white, he doesn’t have to worry about risk” but still, rock isn’t familiar to most even though he once played bass with the Flaming Lips for a television performance. Why shouldn’t any artist be able to play around with genres and have fun? By the time the album gets to this point, the mood of the album had gone beyond fun.

The third thing I noticed happens in the last third, where lyrically he starts to get more aggressive and swears a bit, as if he’s trying to show a hip-hop edge or by being a rock’n’roll bad boy, but I wondered if it was truly necessary. Timberlake can be whatever he wants in his music, and yet I have always felt he had been reserved and pushed himself to an established limit and never went past it. I’m old enough to full understand what those vulgarities mean, I do not need a parental advisory but I don’t think the songs really needed them, as the attitude he wants to establish is already there. Fortunately, this feeling isn’t something that happens throughout but maybe for Timberlake, this is very much a part of the Experience that he wants to share, that full vision that allows listeners to understand where he is coming from, even if some of those elements are unnecessary.

In comparison, the second Experience is good but not as good as the first. As a whole, both Experiences are masterful and are this generation’s Use Your Illusion, displaying an artist who is willing to share his heart and soul to everyone, and to see how far he can and is willing to go. At the same time, some of the songs here can be considered seeds for where he could find himself next. He doesn’t have to kowtow to anyone, and I feel Timberlake could make any type of music at this point and be a success, and I’m sure he is confident in knowing this. Anything he does could be considered a risk, and yet he is a risk taker doing the tasks by his own rules, within his own limitations, which are probably non-existent. A lot of music today is marked with designer labels, but it’s nice to hear a major label artist pulling off the kind of things today that were once part of the norm in the music industry years ago, while still understanding the standards that once were. To be limitless while holding to the limits shows incredible restraint, and one wonders what would happen if he really let himself go. Maybe that is his full vision, The 20/20 Experience in its grandest form. If we allow ourselves to fully see, imagine what would happen if we allowed ourselves to fully listen.

SOME STUFFS: Jay Z starts in new short film by Just Blaze & Baauer

Just Blaze and DJ Baauer have a new track called “Higher”, and it features none other than Jay-Z. Directed by Nabil, it is being promoted as a short film but in truth is a music video shot in the Kerala region of India. This is how the press release reads, this is how they want me to promote it, and thus you want to see the madness, because Jay Z is in it, right? RIGHT?!?

“Higher” has its own website, you may now go to for more fun with the song.

SOME STUFFS: District 78 remixes new Jay Z album in its entirety

 photo District78_cover_zps4e0c6934.jpg
Jay-Z (who recently removed the hyphen from his name and would like to be viewed as being Jay Z) created a buzz with the digital release of his new album, but someone had something else in mind with that music. District 78 decided to do a remix of Magna Carta… Holy Grail from start to finish and title it Magna Carta 78. What makes this interesting is how it was created:
The remix album is available for sale using Legitmix’s innovative technology, which seamlessly recreates District 78’s remixes on your computer using your iTunes copies of the Jay Z tracks.

Listen and hear the end results.

REVIEW: Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience

Justin Timberlake photo JT2020_cover_zpsaa01d6a8.jpg Like many, I’m someone who looked forward to hearing what Justin Timberlake would be doing with his third album. It has been almost seven years since his last release, during a period in the music industry where if you don’t have new music every three months, you’re considered a has-been. Arguably, Timberlake has the luxuries of not having to bow down to the industry at all, but there comes a time when the demand is great, be it from the public or your own. Timberlake has always been someone, at least from interviews, who loves music. He had wondered why MTV doesn’t cater to more music at a time when they have become everything but music, to no avail. With the release of “Suit & Tie” as a first single, the reception from it was enough to reveal what everyone had already known: don’t call it a comeback, he’s been here for years.

The 20/20 Experience (RCA) is a unique album for a number of reasons. It is very much a pop album, but its roots are very much in soul and that soulful touch is never distant from these songs. It is also a reflection of the soul music and albums that once were dominant in the 1970’s. The album consists of 10 songs, what used to be considered the ideal album length, but can you release a 10-song album in 2013? If you’re Timberlake, you can. If fans felt his FutureSex/LoveSounds had songs that were too lengthy, you may want to watch out for these tracks, as seven of the songs are over seven minutes in length. That might not be the path most artists are taking today, but I’m glad Timberlake feels confident enough to go at it with these lengths, and it works very well. The Wikipedia entry for the album has Timberlake quoted as saying “If Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin can do 10-minute songs and Queen can do 10-minute songs then why can’t we? We’ll figure out the radio edits later.” As someone who enjoys it when an artist explores music and themselves with a long song, this is truly ear candy.

What exactly is The 20/20 Experience? Perhaps for Timberlake, it’s a collection of songs that brings together his full vision of what good music can sound like. With Timbaland handling all of the production on this, it was already a guaranteed hit from the start although there are some fans and critics who may not have been pleased with some of Timbaland’s productions in recent years. His sound here is a mixture of what he did successfully with Magoo, Missy Elliott, and Timbaland in the late 90’s, the best of what he had done with Timberlake before, but also a few new things for this new album. It’s not reliant on sampling other people’s work, although samples do exist. A good amount of the sounds are played by him and his musicians, including what may sound like samples but are not. I found myself listening to this tracks and wondering what a 34-year old Aaliyah would have sounded like if she was alive today, whether as her own tracks or doing back-up for Timberlake. What also made these productions work is not just the sound for each song, but as one cohesive piece of work. It’s solid from start to finish, and it flows beautifully.

As for Timberlake, I’ll keep track of what people are saying on Twitter and Facebook considering who he is trying to copy these days, everyone from Robin Thicke to Mayer Hawthorne. It’s as of Timberlake wasn’t doing this since “Like I Love You” or “Cry Me A River”, if not during his time with *N-SYNC. That sweet falsetto voice is one of Timberlake’s trademarks, and he’s a champ at it throughout this album. In a track like “That Girl”, it almost sounds like he’s trying to carry himself with a Prince vibe, complete with lowered background vocals that is straight out of Prince’s multi-track playbook. Part of it also seems to be a reflection of Timberlake’s Memphis roots, if the nice Stax vibe is any indication, although I also sensed a bit of Staples Singers in the vocals too. “Let The Groove Get In” has a nice Brazilian influence too, but I also sensed that there might be an Earth, Wind & Fire groove involved as well, which might make sense if who he’s trying to cite in the song is Maurice White, who was born in Memphis. In the second half of the song, the track seems to go into a transformation (similar to a DJ segueway) between Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Runnin” and Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough”, as if he’s exploring the beauty of that period in music between 1977 and 1979. The album version of his latest hit, “Mirrors”, is eight minutes in length and while the first half shows how well his talents travel in the pop world, I love how the song seems to dig a bit deeper in it second half, with background vocals that shows hints of Missy Elliott. The album beautifully ends with “Blue Ocean Floor”, where he gets poetic and talks about a love that he hopes and wishes will be eternal:

If my red eyes won’t see you anymore
and I can’t hear you through the white noise
just send your heartbeat out there to the blue ocean floor
where they find us no more.

It uses the ocean as a metaphor for a mystical and mystical place for romance and companionship, as a final resting place for an everlasting love. Earlier in the album he’s comparing parts of her body to a snack (“Strawberry Bubblegum”), as well as his own (“I’ll be your blueberry lollipop”). It gets very sensual at times but it’s quite playful in its execution. Also playful is the musical games he and Timbaland play sometimes, this is very much an album that was mutually and organically created. What I found great was the play in “Tunnel Vision”, where Tim will say “I got that”, followed by Timberlake singing “tunnel vision for you”, only to lead to someone saying “I know you lyin'”, as if they’re just shooting the shit with each other but understanding exactly what they’re doing. They compliment each other quite well, and it’s the small minutiae in Timbaland’s productions that Timberlake seems to help spotlight and magnify with great results. By the conclusion of the album, the sensual and romantic tones get serious before it ends where the song itself sounds like it’s sinking underwater. Listeners may find themselves wanting to get lost with Timberlake down on the blue ocean floor.

The 20/20 Experience works on so many levels, not only as a solid pop album, but as a soul album, one that is heavily influenced by the music he has listened to over the years. One can listen to it as “two sides”, in the old way where the songs are divided evenly, in this case the first five songs being Side 1, the last five being Side 2. What I also loved is how in-depth these songs are, and the fact that I’m able to listen to two halves of a song, or hear a song with different movements within. It goes back to those classic albums by Pink Floyd, Yes, or King Crimson from the 1970’s where you were at one with the artist because you put faith in their journey and experiences expressed. Too much music these days will go through the same style and tone for four to five minutes, but Timberlake is taking these tracks on for six to eight minutes. Just as one may get used to a certain style or feeling, he and Timbaland will switch the song into something else and take you up a few notches. It sounds like Timberlake is traveling and taking the listener around the world with him, so that you can “see” what he sees, hears, and feels. In the album’s second half, the music comes off like he’s returning home, if a sense of home can be sensed through the vocal and musical stylings, and the fantastic production. In other words, Timberlake may be a world traveler to most, but home is where the heart is, and his heart seems to be in a very good place, metaphorically and realistically. If radio edits are a concern, that’s fine, for it would be easy for someone to create edits for potential singles. I feel the strength of these songs would allow Timberlake to get away with having a 7-minute hit, which is unheard of in 2013 but not impossible. The 20/20 Experience is a well-crafted album that a lot of artists will have to fully examine in order to discover and rediscover what great music is about, and can be about. This is a fantastic representation of an artist showing a few people “a good thing”.

VIDEO: Jay-Z & Kanye West’s “Otis”
MTV recently did an article on this video and asked “what does it mean?” This, coming from a network that used to be questioned for all kinds of nonsense images for fun, now making a massive profit from running bullshit on their network, trying to ask about something actually creative? You’re a laugh, MTV: a real laugh. Go take a bubble baff, and I do mean bath.

This is “Otis”, one of the more talked-about songs online in the last few weeks, now see the visual component. It was directed by Spike Jonze, and it’s a nice one.

REVIEW: Saigon’s “The Greatest Story Never Told”

Photobucket There was a time when a good rap album was based on quality “rap” and some damn good production, but somewhere down the line, it changed to where it was based on a publicist’s marketing efforts. The Greatest Story Never Told sounds like an album that would’ve been perfec if it was released in the mid to late 90’s, with the kind of integrity and freshness coming from someone who has a love for the music, and with confidence says “damn, I got a really good voice to do the job”.

The Greatest Story Never Told (Suburban Noize) features a number of guests that a lot of younger artists wish they had the luxury of knowing, including Q-Tip, Swizz Beatz, Bun B, Faith Evans, and a young cat ripping shit who goes by the name of (check this out) Jay-Z. Ha ha! But in the music’s essence is Saigon, who sounds like he’s ready to bust out on everyone with the kind of lyrics and music that make you want to say yeah, cheer, cry, and just go “damn, now this is what hip-hop should feel like”. It would be nice if this music became an inspiration for a generation, and if you don’t believe me, hear it for yourself. A quality hip-hop album that today’s revolutionaries should hear so they can hear what they’re not doing.

REVIEW: Kanye West’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”

Photobucket Let me tell you what My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Roc-A-Fella) is not. It is not another pop album from Kanye West, in that it doesn’t cater to generic pop music standards. With that said, pop music at its best has never been generic, but the artist who chooses not to take risks with what they are given, be it a song, the music, or their own talents. Hip-hop and pop music: we like to think that they should never be bed mates, but hip-hop has been one of the more popular forms of mainstream music for decades. That means longer than a few years, shorter than a century. It’s as if there’s still a fear that hip-hop will be bigger than life, when the music itself is meant to make you feel that way, or as if life didn’t matter and all is good and great in the world. A lot of artists who choose to call themselves hip-hop create music with fear, with hesitation, and that’s why there’s that non-existent community of naysayers called haters. Despite everything you know, understand, and/or believe about Kanye West as a persona, it’s not his music. At his best, West is someone who takes risks, is willing to try new or previously-at-rest techniques and present them in a fashion that makes him look and sound bigger than thou, and that’s cool. It benefits him as an artist, producer, and entertainer. Put the jazz hands in your pockets, that’s not what I mean. What exactly is My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. It’s his fifth album with a five-word album title. It’s a metaphor for his music, his outlook in his career, the ultimate glory in what any artist wants from his fans. He’s living his fantasy, he’s bathing in the glory, and most of all, we’re all in it for the ride.

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is an accumulation of everything West has experienced in his life following the release of an album that has fans as it has enemies, 808’s & Heartbreak. It was an album that had him singing and creating pop songs, by someone who really doesn’t have a singing voice. Was he trying to say that hip-hop broke his heart, as so many have tried to do but failed? After the grief he went through following the passing of his mother, and some of the peaks and valleys of his music and life in the media, he shut everyone out and create a unique tale that became his mock fantasy, told in album form. It’s an album made to be listened to as an album, which may seem old and outdated by the general populace, but for West it is always about the show. He is a showman, and without the show, he is nothing. Albums are meant to be experienced as a sonic show, a sound play, something that jazz artists and classical composers understood for years. As music became profitable as popular music, the emphasis was on one song, as it was believed one song could change your life. The album was not a big deal in the pop realm until the late 1960’s, when rock’n’roll would take cues from jazz and classical and explore the idea of making unique worlds in 40 minutes or less. Other genres would follow. Hip-hop has always been about the power of that one banging song, but hip-hop at its best was when hip-hop became a generation’s CNN and “the new rock’n’roll”. As hip-hop became more mainstream and found its audience growing, it lost touch with the idea of long-distance and exploring and chose to have a stay-cation in the clubs. Meanwhile,those who chose to explore found themselves with small packs of associates who were willing to go on the trip.

In the last year, West has talked about this album being a return to a time when hip-hop meant the world to all of us. Some bloggers said it was the return of the boom bap in 2010, the idea that almost every new single, album, and artist coming out was celebrated for good and bad, not for how many jail terms they had or who was the mother of their child. The first cue of what this album could be like was the release of “Power”, a song co-produced with Symbolyc One. S1, as he is known, has a great style of production that dips back to the glory days of sample-based production, and I became a deeper fan when he produced a track for Portland rapper Braille called “It’s Nineteen”. I’ve been a fan of Braille for awhile, and while I am not religious by any means, I always got into the positivity he shared in his music. So here’s a track where he’s talking about understanding the limits of life, but why not go one higher? S1 pulled a much-used beat and placed it in the track, and along with vocalist Ragen Fykes, they both said “in my meditation I saw a manifestation of elevation.” I was sold: Braille’s positive lyrics mixed in with an incredibly funky track from S1, mixed in with beautiful vocal accents from Fykes, and I wanted to hear more. He did other tracks, but then it became known that he was collaborating with Kanye West. WHAT? How did that happen? Then the song leaked, and that King Crimson sample did it for me. As someone who has sampled King Crimson in my own works but failed to be heard, it was great to hear someone pull this off, use a progressive rock classic and make it work within the context of what West was doing, what West has become for some people. Was he describing himself as the schizoid man, or are we as crazy as he wants us to be, and he’s laughing at us? The lyrics have West getting into a very dark place, and then wishes for a beautiful death. Was this him talking about a suicide, or is he thinking in metaphors of pleasure? The term “instant death” is an old school phrase for “orgasm”, something Eddie Harris and Beastie Boys knew all too well when they used it. If it’s meant to say that life could begin and end in an instant like the feeling of orgasm, then West was going to see his death, his career, as something that comes and goes like a shooting star. Was he describing himself as the shooting star, or was he shooting something else across the universe? One version of the song surfaced, and then other versions would have added lines, so it seemed even as fans became aware he was about to release new music, he was changing and evolving his song in real time. Then the title of the album became known, which was also changed slightly in the last minute. The album cover was revealed, said to have been banned but may have been nothing more than attention grabber to get people to talk. I felt the cover may have been one of a number of images meant to represent the music. Very few in hip-hop have ever explored the idea of alternate/multiple covers, the exception being The Roots for their 1999 album Things Fall Apart. It is something that has been done in rock’n’roll by everyone from Led Zeppelin to The Police, and now it seems with a King Crimson sample and Cold Grits break as the key, and an album title as the red carpet, it was now time to walk into the castle and kingdom that is Kanye, Willy Wonka style.

  • Lyrically, West is at the top of his game, but he has always had the gift of gab with a swagger that he enjoys playing out publicly, but always works best (IMHO) in his music. Despite how bold he gets with completely smart ass lyrics and fearless messages and slogans, there’s a vulnerability that is nice to hear in a genre that often thinks too much about the size of its own dick. “Dark Fantasy” exploits this to its fullest potential, hints of the old and the new West both musically and vocally. In the opening track, he says even when things were down and out for him, he just zoned out to some video games and planned out the next mission:

    me drown sorrows in that Diablo
    me found bravery in my bravado
    DJ’s need to listen to the models
    You ain’t got no fuckin’ Yeezy in your Serato?

    It sounds like he’s building, but simplifies in a way that is so humble, it might be overlooked when he says all he is is “just a Chitown nigga with a nice flow” (not “a Nas flow” as other websites have translated it as.). For a brief moment, he pops his own bubble and plants his feet back to Earth, and that’s when that vulnerability comes in. Critics and fans were too quick to say that his last album was nothing but weak-hearted “emo rap”, as if showing your emotion was a sign of being a fake, fraud, or a weak, not worthy of creating rap music. Yet saying he is nothing more than a man from Chicago who loves to rap, I dare you to find someone with his popularity drop his guard and say “yes, this is me.” Now that you know who he is (a re-affirmation of the popular hip-hop idiom “you know what I’m sayin’?”, he’s hoping you have your seatbelt on, because it’s a ride unlike any other you have experienced in a hip-hop setting.

  • One can argue that West is at his best when he’s talking about himself., that used to be what shaped a rapper and what made fans honor him with calling him an MC. West has no problem in turning the spotlight and mirror on himself, as if he was Morris Day and Jerome Benton in the same person. Has West always been masturbatory? At times it’s very much like mixophilia, and if West is his own mixologist, then he is the seller and supplier of his own dope. With a song like “Gorgeous”, non-fans will go “oh no, this guy is saying he’s gorgeous now, like a boxer?” and maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. In the song, he says everyone deserves to live well and feel good, but he has seen enough people who have not had that good. Then he busts out a lyrical star and throws it hard with the line “I treat the cash the way government treats AIDS/I won’t be satisfied till all my niggas get it… get it?” Ouch, and yes, it’s meant to hurt. Like an earworm, that one will be hard to remove.
  • “Power” could be a flashback to what KRS-One said when in “My Philosophy”, he rapped “teachers teach and do the world good/kings just rule and most are never understood”. In this case, who is the king? West played with the guy with the artwork for the single, West’s head separated from his body, sword in his head, left there to bleed. If the sky is said to be the limit, the sky will always be there but “the powers that be” seem to prefer to see a black man with his head off than for him to see his dreams come true, or to even hope for dreams. The KRS-One references continue when, in the 4th line, West says “I guess every superhero need his theme music”. Now he’s the Jack of Spades, not the king, because “no one man should have all that power”, not even West himself, even though he trips off of what people thinks he has. One of the more effective moments in the song is when he says
    “I got the power, making life so excited”, and when the words “so excited” is echoed, it sounds like the word “suicide” repeating itself, leading to him saying “Now it’sll be a beautiful death”, complimented with Dwele singing “I’m jumpin’ out the window, I’m letting everything go”. West then says, in closing, “you got the power to let the power go?” Interpret that as you will.

  • The guests on “Monster” are impressive: Rick Ro$$, Jay-Z, and Bon Iver, and together they help describe a beast that is the unseen force tearing the world apart. The word “monster” is said to be a way to place a name for a beast that is actually man, but it is impossible for we as humans to see someone being so evil. That goes back to West asking about if one man can have so much power, because often times the most powerful people in the world are the ugliest beasts out there. However, it is the verse from Nicki Minaj that steals this song and makes it her own, with different accents and speed manipulations:

    Pull up in a monster automobile gangsta
    with a bad bitch that came from Sri Lanka
    Yeah I’m in a Tonka, color of Willy Wonka
    You can be the king, but watch the queen conquer
    Okay, first things first, I’ll eat your brains
    Then I’mma start rockin’ gold teeth and fangs
    Cause that’s what a motherfuckin monster do
    Hair dressed up from Milan as the monster ‘do
    Monster Guiseppe heel as the monster shoe
    Young Money is the roster and the monster crew
    And I’m all up in the bank with a funny face
    And if I am fake, I ain’t notice ’cause my money ain’t

    Then she validates the kill she just committed by placing the lyrical knife deeper into the body. If you have yet to become a believer of the words and wisdom of Nicki Minaj, her verse here will change your mind.

  • The entire album is like that, playing with listener emotions and perceptions, going back to a time when fans loved to rewind their tapes because a verse or line was so damn good, you had to go back and do it again. It is as impressive as anything he’s ever done times ten, because while he is very much confident of his success and how he got to this point in his life, he likes to play with the idea of what the public thinks of him. It’s “having your cake and eat it too” set to music, but he also explores himself from an outside perspective, opening the wounds and revealing his flaws. He’s human, and yet if there’s a steady stream of consciousness on the album, it’s exploring the exploitation of superstars and those with power, the evil that heroes do, and why some get praised for all the wrong reasons. Throughout the album you’ll also hear casual references to other musical heroes who are no longer with us, including Marvin Gaye, Rick James (the added sample used in his Saturday Night Live performance of “Runaway” are now in the final album mix), and Michael Jackson (a few that are obvious, one not so much). In some way, West is saying “if no one is going to take the role of today’s musical hero, I’ll be willing to take that role”, which is very hip-hop of him, thank you. He says that on an album that features the man who helped start his career, Jay-Z, and yet even though it’s being said as a means of wordplay, you have to give him credit for being true to himself, more than anything.
  • What I also found interesting about his album is how he executed his ideas, with songs that go over the four and five minute lengths. If the use of progressive rock and obscure samples is a throw back to people like Pete Rock, DJ Premier, and Prince Paul, then the expansion of these songs also have to be considered a factor. Prog rock samples are nothing new in hip-hop, go back to 3rd Bass, Gold Money, Organized Konfusion, Powerrule, Mobb Deep… hell, go to “Oochie Wally”. While prog rock samples have always been hot for untapped beats and baselines, only a select few have taken the prog rock aesthetic into their hip-hop. DJ Shadow is an example of someone who has done it very well with his anthemic 4-part track “What Does Your Soul Look Like”, but that was 16 years ago and probably overlooked by those who don’t view Shadow as hip-hop (and if not, study your lessons and come back to me next week). West adds elements to these songs that might feel drawn-out and overdone to some, but the same fans who may feel this are probably the ones who will follow his very move and promotional tactic. West, at least for this album, wants people to hear what can be done if you go beyond hip-hop’s self-made and conservative boundaries and create music that may one day be compared to the works of Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis.
  • That doesn’t mean My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is the perfect album, but it comes damn close. There are moments throughout where the expectations are better than the reality, and perhaps should have been edited out of a song or the album would’ve been better without the track. Throughout the year, various mixes and versions of songs have circulated online, a few of which (for me at least) work better than the mixes that are on here. Some songs that aren’t on the album may have worked better in place of a few. Fortunately, if you are a completist, you can hunt down different variations of the album and listen the way you feel fit. Perhaps in a few years (or maybe next May), West may feel a need to release a box set featuring all of the songs recorded for this album, all demos, all multi-tracks, all isolated vocals, everything so that fans can create their own Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (okay, maybe that’s “my” fantasy). For now, West shows that his fantasies aren’t much different from anyone else’s, dark or otherwise (interpret that as you wish). But these are his fantasies, some of which have come true. Sometimes the fantasy is better than the reality, but West doesn’t mind catering to the fetishes he wants to explore in order to find out.

  • SOME STUFFS: MC Hammer creates dis video for Jay-Z

    Upon waking up on this, the first day of November 2010, I head to Twitter and a number of people in my timeline are talking about the new video by MC Hammer. Now, if you are to cater to what people say about artists who are “past their shelf life”, then MC has been irrelevant for over 15 years. He has become reality show fodder but yet you cannot deny that he was the man partly responsible for moving rap music into something deserving of “rock star” status, and not just something that was good for basements. Say what you want about his music, but some of it was damn good, the guy can entertain, and he knew how to promote himself.

    But then comes this new video that comes from nowhere. It’s a song called “Better Run Run”, and it disses Jay-Z for something that the public accuses himself of being: Satanic. You know, there was a time when rappers kept it real by blasting someone for something you actually saw or heard. But blasting someone for an accusation, then going in the video to show how top dog you are, and then committing yourself as a holy man to baptize him for his sins… Hammer, I’m sorry but you’re not hurting Jay-Z, you’re hurting yourself.

    In the video, he is shown in a business meeting with what I assume is supposed to represent “his people”, those involved in making sure his career is in check. But look at the people in the conference room: is this really a true representation of Hammer, or is he trying to say that this is what hip-hop has become, a bunch of P.E. teachers who bought a laptop at Best Buy and said “we know what’s best for you” Then to make things interesting, Hammer is not just MC Hammer, oh no, there was a time when being an MC meant you were on the top of your game. However, Hammer dropped the MC from his name for awhile because he felt MC was too old school, too tired. That coincided with the demise of his musical career, he revived the MC but it was too late. In 2010, he is King Hammer.

    Now, I’m not into validating one’s status in any fictitious hip-hop monarchy, I like who I like and I respect who they are and what they may have been. L.L. Cool J of today is certainly not the kid on American Bandstand doing “I Can’t Live Without My Radio”, or the guy who was so bad he could suck on his own dick on his Walking Like A Panther album, but for many years he reigned supreme, just as Hammer once did. But Hammer, I know you still feel you are too legit to quit, but this video and song was unnecessary. Are you unhappy because you feel, as a Christian man, that Jay-Z is walking down the path, holding hands with the devil? Hammer, were you not the man who signed a contract with Capitol Records, a contract that like all others, is a way for your music to be exploited by a company so that you can prosper and make money? Hammer, were you not the same man who wore leopard skin bikini briefs, did your pumps and a bump in a video with you outside strutting yourself in your decadent ways, displaying what you had earned with your music being exploited so you could achieve that status? Hammer, were you not only the same man who may have done a few bad financial transactions so that you were forced to file bankruptcy? Did you blame that on the devil too? What do people think about Hammer?

    Let’s be honest, we all love it when artists talk trash, it makes our unfilled days worth it. Well not really, but the last time someone was serious about dissing MC Hammer was twenty years ago, back when guys like MC Serch and Prime Minister Pete Nice had a legion of fans who liked them not because of skin tone (although that was a factor), but because they had skills that were true to the NYC traditions of hip-hop. Those guys were blasting “that silver spoon having, buckshot acne showin, L.A. weak-ass sellout
    Non-legitimate, tip-dogging, Jethro pseudo intellectual, Dust-smoking, pretty boy playright posing, Folks wigging, whining annoying Def Jam reject devil, White bread no money havin slum village people clonin’ step children!”,

    As I’m watching this video of Hammer being chased in a forest by a devil, I wanted Siouxsie Sioux of Siouxsie & The Banshees to run out and tell him how spellbound he could be if he understood that Jay-Z’s alleged evil aways are nothing more than lures that he uses to solidify his longevity, perhaps a tip Hammer himself should take to heart. Nonetheless, keep running Hammer. You might find the devil you’re running from is yourself. Spellbound, indeed.