Monday, December 22, 2008

Atmosphere- If I Was Santa Claus

Nothing like a little Atmosphere to get you in the Christmas spirit! This song was one of the first I heard from Slug and still to this day is one of my favorites.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Q & A With Equipto

I'm really excited to present to the readers a quality Bay Area rapper's answers and opinions on a wide range of things including politics, Europe, and music (of course). So enjoy this "Q & A" with Equipto.

So with the whole election deal still being fresh, what's your take on Obama?
growin up,,i never thought i wuld c the day we would have a black president..cus thats how we wer raised i guess..its funny,,cus i wusnt a super "go obama" type of dude during the election..dont git me wrong,,i voted 4 him,,but i jus wusnt that gung-ho about it..but,,the nite he won,,i was watchn him walk out ther on that stage & i shed a tear or 2..i culdnt help it if i tried,,jus sumthin that hit me rit then & ther..i no thers a catch 2it tho..i dont think they wuld let a black man up in the white house unless they had sumthin up ther sleeves...but,,im happy 4now..i jus hope he dus sumthin!!

What comes more naturally to you musically; making beats, writing or rapping and which one do you enjoy most?
well,,i dont make beats like that..i mite find a sample & take it 2 1 of my boys 2 flip or wut jus not a technical/computer type of guy..i wuld have 2 say rappin in the booth comes easiest 2me..the writting process is more of a journey & experimental...cus after i write it,,i no how i wanna spit it & how i want it 2 sound..its a trial & error process..

How do you feel about the whole "hyphy" movement? It seems to have lost some of it's steam. Do you think it's ever gonna come back?
i love that the bay got our own thang nationally or wutnot..the world knows the bay is hyphy & thats dope,,,but they need 2 no that we got more 2 offer than jus goin dumb or stupid..the bay is diverse & we need 2b respected for for it commin back,,its a lifestyle out here for alot of these i dont think its goin anywer as far as culture & their outlook on life..but its a part of history now,,so itll eventually evolve & move on 2 sumthin else..

With the economy the way it is and the whole internet craze of music being downloaded illegally, does this force you to find other ways of providing for yourself and others outside of music?
honestly,,i think cd's will only b around for a couple more years,,if that..people jus download shit & miss the fun of reading the credits,,shout outs & pictures of the artist..i think beein frum the city (frisco) gives u an upperhand on survival out here..alot of my friends are hustlers & pretty much got ther hand in everythang ther is 2 git,,we find a way if the music dont pay...but see,,i du music cus i love it,,it aint my hustle like that..i dont put my all in2 beein succesful wit this music,,but thats jus me...i dont wanna lose the joy i git frum making music so i try 2 keep things fresh & innocent,,in a way..

I know you probably get this all the time but what's it like working with Andre Nickatina? How has he effected you and your music?
dre's a cool dude..we knew of eachother b4 the music..i wus on haight st & he wus in the fillmore..he took me 2 a few in stores & shows around 2000 & that helped me expand my fanbase & expose myself 2 a broader audience...frum ther i jus did my thang & kept pushin..

If you could go on tour with 3 other artists who would they be and why?
i would like 2 tour wit any of the living legends,,any of the hieroglyphics & mayb planet asia or sumthin..thers alota fokes i like,,but im mentioning groups or artist that i think wuld help me git a bigger fanbase & that r on the same kina vibe im on or wut not..i like 2 have fun wen im on the road..

Growing up as a kid what were some of your dreams and aspirations?
its funny cus i dont remember sayn thangs like,,"i wana b this wen i git older"!..i been writtn raps since i wus like 10 yrs old man..did the grafitit thang,,alil breakdancin,,all a product of this hip hop dad wus a jazz promoter & dj,,so i wus a lil kid goin 2 jazz shows,,beein backstage,,goin 2 radio stations 4 interviews,,checknem in to hotels,,..the whole music on the road i guess u culd say this is wut i wanted 2 du since i wus a kid..

I heard somewhere that you're into the whole Europe scene? What about Europe draws you into it? Also are you familiar with Europe's hip hop scene?
i think anywer but the usa is a great place for hip hop..thats jus my opinion cus i like the innosence they have towards the music..of course they started late or wut not,,but thats part of the beauty...i think as hip hop artist we have a responsibility 2 show,,teach & express wer we come frum & wut the music is all beein half japanese,,i felt exactly that way wen i went 2 japan..i seen cats thinkn that all hip hop wus is snoop dogg & eminem..its fine,,but that aint all hip hop is about..bottom line iz,,in order 2 git 2 wer we wanna,,we gota no wer it came frum..

To this day, what is something that you still desire? P.S. I read somewhere that Santa Claus checks my blog so I'll make sure to put in a good word for you.
man..thers alota things that still bring a smile 2 my face..but honestly,,thers no feelin like hearin a brand new dope ass beat that aint nobody heard but u...beein in the studio blowin trees writtin wutever comes to u @ the time..that "feelin free" process of makin music..thers no comparison..thers a certain vibe & feelin i git wen i hear songs i love,,,& i jus wanna give that feelin back 2 music lovers..peace..

Make sure to check out Equipto's myspace page!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Blu & Exile- First Things First

I came across Blu & Exile sometime last year and instantly was drawn to their sound. "First Things First" was the first song I heard off their album "Below The Heavens". The album as a whole is definitely refreshing compared to the music we're adapt to hearing on the radio now a days.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Soulcrate Music: Cardboard Cut Outs No.1

In case you haven't yet heard of Soulcrate Music they consist of 2 MC's, Dirt Dee and A Def, along with their dj, DJ Absolute. Hailing from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Soulcrate proves that music has no boundaries and does not discriminate. I did a Grieves interview back in August and got a lot of good feedback and praise for it, including props from none other than Soulcrate. At the time I figured they were just another "dime a dozen band" wanting an interview. 2 months later at the Grieves, Mac Lethal and Soulcrate concert I realized that they're far from my initial thoughts of them. The connection from their music to my ear drums was instantly made. Their live show was amazing! That says a lot because providing a solid live show can be challenging at times for certain bands. Their 9 song EP "Cardboard Cut Outs No.1" provides great music that you can listen to any time. Which for me is key. I have a lot of music I just listen to when I'm in certain moods but "Cardboard Cut Outs No.1" is far from being flat and one-note. The first song of the album "Cardboard Intro" helps set up and build the momentum for the rest of the album with a soulful-esque instrumental. The second song "Border Line, Sort Of Live" is what will get you hooked on these guys! With the line "Border line, sort of live, get together organize", it's definitely the most catchy hook on the album. The 3rd song "Rap Music From The Middle Of Nowhere" helps you see where these guys are coming from and establishes an understanding with them and their surroundings. The 5th track "Save A Horse Kill A Cowboy" featuring Mac Lethal, shows off these guys' sense of humor. Mac Lethal shows that they're humble and willing to make fun of themselves with the line "The bottom like a Sioux Falls music fan that didn't see Soulcrate record until they opened up for 311". The 7th track "Novocaine Rain" is definitely my favorite song. When I first heard the song I thought it sounded eerily familiar and then I realized it was produced by Grieves. I heard the beat a few months back on Grieves' Myspace page and I'm glad Soulcrate chose to use it because it fits the lyrics perfectly. This album will definitely be a welcome surprise, especially if you like underground hip hop. You can check Soulcrate out on their myspace page or their website and be sure to pick up a copy of "Cardboard Cut Outs No.1"!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Grieves- I Ate Your Soul Live

So I went to the Grieves, Mac Lethal and Soulcrate show last night at the Catalyst. They all put on such good performances. Soulcrate really surprised me with their sound. I have an interview with them in the coming weeks so be sure to check back for that! Definitely check them out for sure! Anyways here's a video of my hommie Grieves and Dirt Dee doing the song "I Ate Your Soul".

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Nice & Smooth- Sometimes I Rhyme Slow

I've had a few interviewees flake out on me recently so here's another video for you readers to bridge the gap in between my posts. Hopefully I'll have some more interviews for you shortly. A little background info on Nice & Smooth in case you're a novice hip hop listener and haven't heard of these guys before: The group consists of Greg Nice and Smooth B. In 1989 they both appeared on the song "Pimpin' Ain't easy" by Big Daddy Kane. Smooth B also wrote songs for Bobby Brown's debut album "King Of Stage". This song, "Sometimes I Rhyme Slow" by Nice & Smooth is one of my all time favorites. The songs beat samples Tracy Chapman's song "Fast Car". Nice & Smooth definitely does Tracy's song justice. The only problem I have is with the video. I understand what their intentions were with the video but I think it kind of distracts from the song. Anyways, beautiful beat, top notch lyrics and perfect flow.

Sometimes I Rhyme Slow - Nice & Smooth

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Genelec & Memphis Reigns- Chicken Soup

I love all forms of hip hop. From MC Hammer, to Tupac, to Slug and from hip hop with an added pop to intelligent and meaningful rhymes. Genelec & Memphis Reigns being more intelligent and meaningful. I discovered this duo (that hails from my hometown, Santa Cruz, Cali) about a year ago and have loved them since. Unfortunately their not around anymore! "Chicken Soup" being the first song I heard of theirs and to this day is still my favorite. So give it a listen and be sure to check out their CD "Scorpion Circles".

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Grieves: 88 Keys And Counting

It's been a while since I've anticipated a CD release like this one and Grieves' sophomore effort "88 Keys And Counting" does not disappoint. This time around Grieves teams up with producer Budo and by the sound of it I think it was a good decision. Recorded in Laporte, Colorado at one of the best studios on this side of the globe. At first listen you can definitely tell that this young man has already matured in his musical prowess. From his delivery to his voice Grieves just seems to be one step closer (to stardom, not the Linkin Park song)! 88 Keys And Counting is 100% more well rounded as a whole. With a few instrumental tracks (Life In The Hive, The March and Exiting The Hive) that you can vibe to when you feel like sitting back and relaxing. With a lullaby esque beat on the song "Kings" (an instant favorite of mine), Grieves sings " You don't need to fight my off, I'm well on my way. Gonna leave these cobblestones and matchsticks in the back of my brain". Grieves manages the beat so well on this song with pauses and breaks that help build up the song perfectly. You're guaranteed to hit the replay button over and over on your mp3 player. One of the reason's why Grieves succeeds in being such a good MC is that he's very easy to relate to and he does a good job on making that a possibility. "Life In The Hive" (one of the instrumental tracks I mentioned before) is all in all amazing. A song that you wanna put on when you're having a bad day, so you can really feel what you're feeling. I don't normally like instrumental tracks but this one is going to get it's fair share of play time in my pocket. On the track "Identity Cards" featuring Luckyiam, wait what? Luckyiam?! Two of my favorite dudes on the same track, I already knew this song was gonna be good without even hearing it. Grieves spits the line "I don't know what hyphy means dude and neither do my friends" and "But I do like drinkin' and shoppin' on the internet and tryin' to get Lucky to jump me into the Living Legends". Luckyiam rips up the track with his classic flow, "A good 16 is what I'm known for but a great 19 is my thing on tour, I lead her up on my bus, best believe I score, lucky lust, lucky bus, Lucky he's a whore". From the beat to the lyrics on the song "Lockdown" Grieves manages to produce a different kind of sound than what you'd expect of him. A female voice steps in and delivers a line, "Break me out of here, I'm freezing" and adds a harmonizing and chilling hum in the background. On track 15 (the second to last track) the song "Cloud Man", Grieves "steps out of the box" even more so than on the track "Lockdown". He sings his way through the beat rather than rapping over it. Lucky for him he's got a great sounding voice either way! Grieves told me that this is one of the songs he's "more proud of" and I can see why. The track adds versatility to him as a rapper, singer, song writer and beat master!
Also be sure to check out the bonus song (provided on a drop card) "The Black Clover Posse Cut" aka "Clover Boys", featuring Mac Lethal & Soulcrate. "Hey, Hey, Hey!" (words I've been finding myself saying in random situations throughout the day). Overall this CD is a great piece of art. It's the type of CD that not only grows on you but consumes you! I'm definitely excited to hear the CD evolve in my ears through time. 88 Keys And Counting coming to ear drums near you November 12th (I'm dubbing this as perfect "winter" music). Be sure to check out my man Grieves on his myspace page where you can also pre-order the new CD "88 Keys And Counting".

Monday, October 27, 2008

Interview With Akin From CYNE

The long awaited and much anticipated interview with Akin from CYNE is finally here!

What was it like working with Nujabes?
working with nujabes was cool, he sent us the beat, cise already had a concept for the track and i just ran with it.

Can you elaborate on your verse in the song "Feather"?

when i wrote the verse for feather i was just pondering on the different irony's in life ya know. so i was thinking about really letting go of all fears an restraints and just doing you. "trying to be dali when i write" i love dali's paintings and surrealism in general so through that in there. somewhere online someone fucked up my verse completely, i guess i should start posting my lyrics.

Rumor has it that you live in France. How's the transition from Florida to France going?
france is cool and paris has always been a great place of inspiration for me. the winter can be harsh but then again i'm from the sunshine state so ya know i'm a bit spoiled. but all in all Paris is awesome.

I myself am I big fan of French rap. For those who don't know too much about the French rap game, got any suggestions for artists to listen too?
to be honest with you i haven't really checked any thing out to deep but there are a bunch of dope underground artist like Tchad Unpoe and Kerjo that i've collaborated with.

How do you feel your music has grown throughout the years?
i think i've grown since CYNE's debut record so naturally my music is gonna grow as well. i like to think the music is a direct reflection of me so i hope to keep evolving.

CYNE stands for, "Cultivating Your New Experience". Can you explain this and how you guys came up with the name?
our homie al (norman beats) came up with the acronym. we already had cyne. really it's just kinda a play on words, we are trying to say that signs are a universal language that people respect ya know like stop signs and things. so basically we're trying to make music in that vein, stuff that you might or might not dig but you gotta respect where we're coming from.

Your new album "Pretty Dark Things" has been long awaited. What have you been doing in your time off? Also what does this title mean to you and what can listeners expect from this cd?
well we took our time to make PDT. i'm proud of the record and i think it's a real time sensitive album with everything that's going on in world right now. i hope folks check it out and get what they wanna get from it, but above all it's honest and real talk from some cool dudes.

I read that you guys have a song about the philosophy of Rousseau. For those who might not know, in which song do you mention this and what's your take on this subject?

well rousseau is a french philosopher that interests me cuz he writes on themes with man and nature, or man and society and every involving that. i find those specific themes interesting and inspiring as well. the track is called "rousseau" thanks homie.

Be sure to check out CYNE & Akin on their myspace pages.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Wax's Freestyle For Vibe

With an interview coming up with Wax and EOM, I thought it would be appropriate to introduce Wax to those of you who don't know what he's all about. This is a freestyle verse that Wax submitted for the Vibe contest. This dude definitely has talent and with the success of his YouTube videos he'll be heard from for years to come. I mean, who doesn't like a guy who raps in a parked car with his seatbelt on?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Hip Hop In The 90s

When I think about hip-hop culture in the 90s (early 90s mostly) I think about harmless lyrics wrapped in beats that you can't help but tap your foot to. Songs about wanting (or even wishing) to be taller, finally reaching the point of fame and success but only having more problems because of it, and songs about not being a player anymore. When remixes were as good or even better than the original. Of course you still had the East vs. West, Tupac vs. Biggie. But that type of mentality and rivalry has and will always be around in hip hop. This was a time when Puff Daddy was the "Tiger Woods" even before Tiger Woods. A time when you had computer animated cats singing alongside of Paula Abdul in her music videos (by the way, Opposites Attract is def one of my all time favorite music videos). Why aren't there anymore movies like "Friday", or "Who wants to be a menace in south central while drinking your juice in the hood" (greatest movie title ever!)? Movies that entertained and made a point at the same time. TV shows during this period achieved this as well. With shows like, "The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air" and "Martin" (Damn Gina!). I remember being so influenced by "Kriss Kross" that me and my two buddies danced around on stage with our clothes backwards to their song "Jump" at an after school talent show. Hip hop back then wasn't about lollipops and half dollars. It was about the love of music and expressing yourself through it in a positive way. I was right there, tuning in, when R. Kelly introduced Ronald Isley's character of "Mr. Biggs" to the world in his music video "Down Low". A time when getting your "booty on the floor" (Coolio's song "1,2,3,4") seemed so innocent. Speaking of Coolio, who could forget his song "Gangsta's Paradise" from the movie "Dangerous Minds" starring Michelle Pfeiffer, who plays a naive but inspirational school teacher. This is why I love mostly everything about the early 90's. I was young, impressionable and wanting to get out of school so I could go home, turn on MTV and watch MC Hammer's music video "2 legit 2 quit". Who doesn't like parachute pants? Here's a short list of songs that made the biggest impression on me at that time:
"I Wish" by Skee-Lo, "Hip Hop Horray" by Naughty By Nature, "Crossroads" by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, "I Got 5 On It" by Luniz, and "California Party" by Tupac
Honorable mentions include: "Ready Or Not" by The Fugees, "93 'Till Infinity" by the Souls Of Mischief, and Montell Jordan's "This Is How We Do It".

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Xzibit- Paparazzi

Now I know you're probably thinking that Xzibit isn't exactly underground and he definitely isn't. This is just a reminder that "mainstream" rap wasn't always about "money and the fame", as Xzibit points out in this song "Paparazzi" (something I'm sure Mr. X to the Z still had).

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Hieroglyphics Concert

Not much to say here. The concert was amazing. From the opening acts, Blue Scholars and Musab, to the main course, Hiero, the show produced a lot of good music and a lot of fun. So here's a video I recorded live from the Catalyst, "93 'Til Infinity". One of the all time classic rap songs.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Atmosphere Concert

Normally when you anticipate something so much you're destined to get let down. Not in this case! I bought my tickets about 2 months ago and have been awaiting this day ever since and by far this was the best concert I've ever seen! So check out this video I took from the show, "God Loves Ugly". Also check out other Atmosphere videos I took from the show on my Youtube account:

Monday, September 22, 2008

Q & A With Tonedeff

If your vocab is as minuscule as mine, here are some definitions to help you out as you read this post.

Poignant (poi-gnant): being to the point. Function: adjective

Catharsis (ca-thar-sis): a release of emotional tension, as after an overwhelming experience, that restores or refreshes the spirit. Function: noun

With having that helpful tool which some of you may need, I feel confident starting the interview portion of this post.

I read somewhere that you can spit 13.5 syllables per second.
Were you born with this gift?
iCON the Mic King told me that it was weird that I didn't speak spanish (although being Cuban/Colombian), because how easily words seemed to roll off my tongue. I dunno, I guess it just kinda comes naturally to me. Hopefully, it sticks around, so that I can do cool "Grandpa" tricks at my future retirement home.

The track you did with KRS-One "Clear 'Em Out" is rumored to be directed at Nelly. Anything you want to add to this assumption?
I think that assumption was pretty much answered in full the day it came out - hence the huge amount of media coverage and the record war that song started. (For those of you who missed it - google it).

I didn't realize we were making a diss record at the time, and I'm not 100% sure KRS did either...but had I know, I actually woulda wrote something far more poignant to the situation.

What has working with CunninLynguists done for your career and vise versa?
Well, they're my favorite rap group to begin with, and I believe both of them (Deacon & Kno) are incredibly talented musicians. We're all on the same QN5 team, so we help eachother out however we can - whether it's shopping beats, setting up tours, designing covers, trading verses, etc.

Granted, they have 4 amazing albums and 2 mixtapes out, and they have a much larger fanbase than I it's definitely a blessing to be able to appear with them on songs and tag along with them on the road. Those dudes are like family to me.

What's your take on skit songs and what do you think it adds/subtracts to or from the cd as a whole?

I think when Skits work...they work. And when they don't - it's instant skip material. Muffuckas been doing skits since De La Soul is dead...and like anything in Hip Hop, it got kinda outta hand for a while. But I think it's settled into the Hip Hop landscape enough that people kind of expect them to see other sides of their favorite artists besides what's being presented on the songs.

Like, I didn't have any skits on Archetype, cause I didn't believe they fit on the record, but Extended Famm's "Happy Fuck You Songs" had a bunch...and I STILL crack up from the skits on that record. Good comedy is as timeless as good music, so if you can find the're good to go and I don't see a problem with it.

You passed up on some deals with a handful of major record companies to pursue a college degree. How did you come to that decision?
Basically, I was 16/17 years old and I could already feel the machine trying to change me. Not to mention, I was supposed to be working with an ex-manager who I didn't see eye to eye with regarding my career. They basically wanted to turn me into The Fresh Prince Part 2 and have other people produce my music. I only make music because I get to MAKE the music I rhyme over - so this was pretty much the deal killer for me.

Industry people have never known what to do with me, cause I'm Latino and rap in English and I don't really make music that people in Junior High get into. Since I was able to realize this early on, I pretty much could give a fuck about what anyone expects from me or wants me to do. I'm a musician first and foremost and I go wherever the Muse takes me. So, at the end of the day, I figured a college degree in design would suit my future better than gambling it on rap. I'm glad I did too...cause there's about 50 people that can live off rap alone in the states...and I'm certainly not one of em.

In your opinion who do you think are the top 5 producers of all time?

Well, 'Producer' for me isn't just someone who "makes beats". Also, I try to take in all the music I can, from all different genres. I generally respect folks who can flip musical styles and develop the sound of multiple artists differently, so that the artist's record is the best recorded version of that particular artist possible.

So, with that said, all time, all genres, no order - Sir George Martin, Dr. Dre, Jon Brion, Quincy Jones, Rick Rubin...with an honorable mention to Timbaland. 6th Man!

At the age of 16 you were on the Arsenio Hall show and ended up winning the grand prize of the shows national talent search. Can you describe this experience?
I go into the whole thing in depth on the song "morethanthis" from Underscore. Without paraphrasing it too much...I think the most valuable thing that I gained from that whole experience was seeing how the people around me reacted to a little exposure. People really lose their fucking minds and weird shit happens. I really don't like what fame does to people - even at that limited scale. I didn't change at all that's definitely good piece of mind for me.

Can you explain your verse on the CunninLynguists track "Love 'Aint"? Were you going through any particular heartbreak at the time or was this verse based purely on past experiences?
That verse definitely came out of a rough patch in a relationship. Those are very REAL words and experiences in there. I think the verse is pretty self-explanatory as a whole, but do know that I wrote it as catharsis.

Also on CunninLynguists track "The Gates" you talk about interracial relationships and racism. How have these things affected you?
Well, "The Gates" is a fictitional story about a fictitional character who has a conversation with St. Peter at the gates of heaven. Interracial relationships in his story were a complicated thing that this character manifested his uncertainty and lack of strength of in very evil ways.

As a Latino, I've definitely had my share of fucked up experiences dealing with ignorant folks who can't tolerate seeing me with a white woman, etc. It's just the world we live in today. It sucks...but I live NYC, so those attitudes aren't as prevalent as they might be in other parts of the world.

out Tonedeff on his myspace and his QN5 blog!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Living Legends Concert

At this point I've realized that I'm being consumed by this blog! Not so much as in putting in a whole lot of time and effort, because I should definitely have done more of both by now, but yesterday at the show I found myself taking pictures and videos for the sole intention of being able to put them up on this blog. I guess I probably would have done so anyways, but I'm definitely excited to be able to share this with the readers of my blog (hopefully I'm not the only one)! So here's a video of "Purple Kush" and some pictures that I took from the show at the Catalyst.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Pacific Division: Paper Video

Killing time, waiting for some interview questions to be answered by a couple of awesome underground rappers. Ssssh, it's a secret! So check out this video by Pac Div. One of my favorite songs of theirs. They even use the word "tofu" in this song and being from a health conscious family I can definitely appreciate that.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Army of the Pharaohs: Ritual of Battle

Formed by Jedi Mind Tricks' Vinni Paz, Army of the Pharaohs, aka AOTP, is an underground super group. Ritual Of Battle is the second album released by AOTP. This 16 song album is not one to put on if you're trying to sit back and relax. On the second verse of the song "Black Christmas", Doap Nixon starts off with the line "I made a promise that I never get high, I 'aint scared of death, I'm scared to live wantin' to die." This line is guaranteed to give you the chills. Doap Nixon finishes the verse by saying "We all 'bout to put this game in a frenzy, and the chain's slight frost like the air in a Benzy." Demoz raps on the chilling chorus "I can feel a breeze through the leaves when D's passin' me by, you can breathe you can bleed but please wrap me a nine, on black Christmas, I need a Gun with bullets on black Christmas, black Christmas." Demoz also spits on the fourth verse with lines like "I once heard the art of war is don't start a war, so I don't think you wanna ride like a carnivore, I mean carnivore excuse my French I'm on the floor, the bruisin' wet got me feelin' like I took a Hallucinet, blue is bent, L-Y who the truest yet, blew the inf, brain fragments flyin' through the fence, stupid is as stupid does, I 'aint stupid cuz, I rap like a motha fuckin' animal my blueish blood." Overall this song is a must hear for the simple fact of the lyrical content. The beat is a little slow in my opinion but check out a guy by the name of Thomax out of Norway who does a remix with a different beat to this song. The song "Gun Ballad" produced by Ill Bill, comes hard with the same intense lyrics but with a better constructed beat. In the song's second verse Demoz shoots a line over to Nas perhaps by saying "If hip hop is dead, call me ghost in the flesh, I'm close to the best." Vinnie Paz ends the third verse with the line "This ain't the type of place you can survive God, God don't live inside me, I live inside God." By far the track "Seven" has to be my favorite. Laced with lines and verses that, when you first hear them, you have to rewind to make sure you heard right. The song goes on over 6 minutes and is probably the best 6 minute song I've ever heard! Flawless the whole way through. If I was to highlight all the interesting and witty lines in this song I'd be better off just posting the lyrics to the whole song. But I will point out some of my favorites. On the track's fourth verse, Reef The Lost Cauze, hits you with the thought, "did he just say that?", with the line, "There's hell to pay, but the devil don't take checks, I tried to send a message to God, his phone don't take text." For the track's fifth verse steps in Doap Nixon, who's line makes me laugh every time, "Hand to hand till your hands ache, I drunk so much syrup dawg I stop eatin' pancakes." Demoz controls the track's sixth verse with the line that in my opinion says he could care less about doing anything or saying goodbye to anyone for the last time, " Nigga, if I had 24 hours to live, fuck 24 hours, gimme 24 seconds, Vin I'm drivin off a bridge." Celph Titled goes to work on the seventh verse with ill lines like, "I'm Jesus in the flesh so this is mutha fuckin' Christian rap, y'all just Christmas wrap, must be the secret Santa, my reindeer aim near, pierce you with the antlers" and also this eerie line "And a year before your kid's 10th birthday came, you didn't have to wait for candles on the cake to see the nine flame." Possibly AOTP's finest work! I'll end this review with the final song and its first verse, which pretty much sums up underground rap vs. mainstream rap, rap when it first started and rap nowadays. Doap Nixon starts the song off with the line, "The first time I heard rap I was so gased, 'cause back then, you could make an album with no cash, cut now a days everybody is so cool, you got niggas dropping out of school to learn pro tools." Although a bit violent with their lyrics at times, overall this is a must get cd for any hip-hop head and any JMT fan.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Black Lung: Bad News EP

When Black Lung emailed me asking for an interview, I was figuring he was just another wannabe myspace rapper. But upon my first listen I realized that at the very least the dude's got potential. While listening to his unreleased EP "Bad News" I couldn't tell if his sound was either not my style or maybe it was the sound of that prized golden cd that takes a while to really get into. Black Lung starts off the song "Swear To God" by saying "put your hands on your eyes, if you feel you might die, in the next couple seconds". At first listen I chuckled at that line but it's kinda growing on me. For an eighteen your old young man he has a pretty mature sounding voice and deep lines like "I get high before school and don't believe in god. And I'll never give a f!*% if I don't see my mom." After listening to his EP I asked Black Lung a few questions:

For all those hip hop heads out there, why should they buy your album?

Man, I'm just some dude that grew up listening to Master P. I'm not trying to be some ''underground rapper'' on some typical hip-hop bullshit. If you don't buy the album, come see me live. Then you'll buy the album.

If people could listen to only one song of yours what would it be?
A lot of people like "Beautiful Crazy". Bitches will like add me on myspace and I will go to their profile and be like ''hahaha she's got beautiful crazy on her shit". But dudes should listen to "Swear to God' or "X's & O's"......for real

Your first full length album, "Fishtail LP" was produced by Mac Lethal. How was it working with him?
He's a real cool dude. At the time i was like 16, so it was a real big deal to me. I've been a fan for a real long time. It was cool to be able work with some dude that i ride around in my whip listening to...

What should people expect from you in the future?
Lots of shows, mix tapes, and albums. Right now I'm working on some shit with my boy JSN. It's called "Dimes up", and the mix tape is about 75% done. But besides all the rap shit, I have some other shit in mind. That's why i'm doing this college shit..I'm out to get this paper..

You can check out Black Lung on his myspace page and can expect the EP to drop any day now.

Grieves: Irreversible

His 18-song debut "Irreversible" blends together nicely with songs like "Unedible," which has a laid back and smooth beat to go with lyrics that call out help! "He Won't Answer," a song about life's struggles and not being accepted back home, showcases Grieves emotional lyrics with lines such as "daddy was a rolling stone, momma never gave two shits about a broken home." One of the faster songs beat-wise is "I Ate Your Soul," (featuring P Smoov) but Grieves still manages to provide dark and eerie images as you lay back and enjoy. A lady sings the track's catch-line: "I Ate Your Soul" and Grieves responds with the catchy line of "And I'll eat you up, go hide before I eat too much."

Grieves shows off his sense of humor on a skit track where he mistakingly calls a guy Susanne and insists that the the guy looked like a girl from across the bar. One song, however: "Capitol Hill Girls" struggles to find it's place on the album with a techno-ish beat and a somewhat out-of-place British accent. By far the best song on the album and the song that got me hooked on Grieves is "Scar Gardens." With gripping lyrics such as, "I shoulda' never even showed you what it's like inside the world I keep a lock on, purple hearted scar gardens harvesting my thought songs and "this is not a love song, I'm working out my problems, the love song is what caused 'em and now I'm stuck and trying to solve them." Also be sure to check out "Rebecca" and "The Room We Hide In".

Overall, this MC, who hails out of Seattle, provides an intelligent and fresh new sound that is easy on the ears. Definitely check out this cd!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Q & A With Luckyiam From The Living Legends

When I asked the Living Legends if they'd be available for an interview they replied, "Who do you want to interview?" Now this question struck me by surprise. I'm usually the one asking tough questions. Who should I interview? I mean 9 members and they're all very talented. So I listened to some songs searching for an answer. I started with "Never Fallin", being it's my favorite song of theirs. I've had one of Lucky's quotes from that song on my myspace page for days. I guess their question wasn't as tough as I initially thought and my decision was made.

What's your take on todays mainstream rap world?

Ummm, it is what it is. Some good (Kanye, Jay, Outkast, T.I., NaS) then there's a lot crap. It's not that different than the indie scene, the rappers just get shot more.

Being in a group with 9 members, how often do ego's clash and how does it affect your performances/tour experiences and even cd's?
We don't have ego's so we never clash. (Hahaaa!!) It makes performances fun & unpredictable and sometimes unbearable. Tour stories turn into seedy novels or fight club and the quality of everyone's individual cd's is effected by a healthy sense of competition.

Would you rather succeed independently or within the group? Do you think other members would feel the same way?
I was the last one in Legends to pursue my solo career. Personally I'd rather rap in a group and be a standout member on a team due to the merit of my style & skill. The concept of being a solo artist is very narcissistic in my opinion. To me, rappers and solo singers come off like they're on some "Me, me, me, me" look & listen to me shit!"

I think I stand alone on this point, everyone else in my crew has proved where they are at with this topic, meaning everyone has solo careers. It's every man for himself around here, that's the way that we work. I aint mad though, get yours. I guess it would suck though if I wasn't a decent solo artist.

It seems that all rappers like collecting shoes and cars. Do you have any interesting collections that aren't so obvious?
I collect babies. I have one on every continent and every race combination. They are custom made/limited edition.

My favorite verse of all time, hands down, is the verse you do on the song "never fallin". Can you explain that verse and what it means to you?
WHOA! Exaggeration! Are you serious? Thank you. That verse was about me and how I'm a scum bag womanizer/liar and it was written in Maui where we recorded that album "Classic". I had a secret love child and my girl @ the time didn't know shit. It was eating me up inside.. I left clues about the situation in various songs. So on "Never Falling" I further told on myself in a emo-ish metaphorical way "learning forces me to search, exsume all my skeletons a room full of demons with a angel as a prisoner, she's tortured for the visitors, listeners read between the lines and stay inquisitive to dissect these sentences". Which was basically saying I was too chicken shit to come clean but I spill my guts constantly in songs. She came to visit me on the island and she's chillen in a house where we are listening to mixes of songs with all these hidden messages in them. Inner demons on the loose flying in and out of ears. Nuff said, if you listen to my raps and look a little deeper you can catch all my fuck up's and triumphs. The poor angel I was going out with was just a prisoner of my madness.

Due to scheduling conflicts, how often if ever are you guys all in the same room working on a song? Has anyone written a verse or a line that got vetoed by the rest of the group?
hahaaaa..I like your questions they are very un-lame. Well, earlier this year we all got together in the studio and wrote songs for the Gathering..but other than that we are only ever in the same place at the same time if we are playing a gig.

And a couple of guys have gotten they're verses vetoed or removed from a song completely .

(I never have) But during the "Gathering" sessions The Grouch got mad @ me for making a cocaine reference on a song called "Where u @?"and a huge argument broke out while I was laying my was mayhem. It's all love though, we are family and families feud sometimes.

You guys ever consider adding or subtracting members? Besides all the rumors, I am available!
hahaaaaa... There was a time when I wanted Pep Love or Fatlip in the crew. As for subtracting..I think Legends is blood in/blood out. You gotta get jumped out.

For the 95% of people who will never get a chance to perform on stage, can you describe what it's like? What kind of emotions do you go through?
it's magical..I've had a handful or more of life altering moments in the live arena. Connecting with the supporters or earning new fans is euphoric. Bringing people to tears performing "Memory Loss" for example, it makes me remember what's important in life and my pursuit of art.

What are some of the pros and cons of being in such a big group?
this question is a variation of a previous one. I take back my un-lame comment!
Pros: variety of styles
Cons: touring is F'n expensive for 8 plus doots.
Pros: we have strength in numbers

Cons: we are only as strong as our weakest link

Pros: we can kill a live show and fill the entire stage up

Cons: all the single guys want the same ol pussy.

What's your favorite random place to eat at when your on tour?
Cracker muthafuckin Barrel bitch! Excuse me, I meant Cracker Barrel. I Love that place. I love the old style gift shop, the rocking chairs out front, the green beans and mash potatoes, the little puzzles they have for you at the tables while you wait for the food, the sweet tea and the overt racism.. God Bless America dammit.

In most interviews someone will ask about any crazy tour stories. What about any crazy stories outside of touring?
I was in Vegas a few weeks ago for my homies Bday. We had a dope ass suite on the 51st floor of the Wynn. The NBA was in town, it was the last pre-Olympic basketball game, they whooped Canada's ass & there was a big boxing match going on as well..

So due to these events there were soooo many fine women in town for the weekend. You could walk around the casinos dragging your jaw in amazement. Anywho..I ran buck fucking wild Thursday - Saturday then I burnt out. This caused me to punk out and stay in Saturday night and watch adultswim or jackoff to hotel porn. (*Order the porn you want to see..finish yourself off..then call the front desk and say the movie isn't working right & they clear your room of the charge*Ssssshhh)

After I was fast asleep my homie comes back up to the suite drunk as hell @ like 4am and he's like come on lets go out doot. So I did. Nuthing major, We went downstairs to B-bar @ the Wynn..5 minutes later my boy met a Cuban Cougar..raaaaawr. She had a thick ass Cuban accent, nice boob job..She was pretty cool for a 45 year old "possible" hooker @ 4am. She reminded me of Charro. It turned out she wasn't a hooker so they kept talking. He wanted to get her upstairs to our suite but she said she was waiting for her friend and then she proceeded to do the usual "girl thing" co-signing for her friend, building her up..telling us that her friend was beautiful & blah..blah..freakin blah...We didn't belive her and it was 5am so it wasn't really gonna matter anyways. Time passed, I fucking cracked and drunk-looked at my ex's myspace page like a dumbass so I felt like a piece of heartbroken drunken shit..

Time passed & the Cougar's friend finally made it to the bar, it was pushin 6am But she was HOT as fuck! OmFgN! Ok, besides the fact that it was 6am & she was a stripper (weird) & she had a 8 month old baby @ home. She looked like she never went through the pregnancy part of new motherhood. We took them upstairs and wasted a good hour of our lives talking to them about every fucking thing on earth, battling bad translations and exhaustion,drunkeness and other elements. Finally someone in the room got smart & decided to get it cracking, so next thing ya know titty's started coming out all over the room and the mood changed quickly. To make this long-winded story a little bit shorter.
I woke up soaked in breast milk with the sweet taste of the nectar of life in my mouth, I can't say anymore, I've said way too much, fuckin crazy doot.

There you have it. Another interview in the books! Somehow I've managed to pull off interviewing some of the coolest and most talented rappers out there so far. I am definitely lucky! Make sure to check out Luckyiam and the Living Legends on their myspace pages.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ask Grieves

For my second interview I have a young MC that goes by the name of Grieves. Albeit new to the underground rap scene Grieves has already made quite an impression on a lot of people, including one of his good buddies, Mac Lethal. I asked Grieves if he'd be down to be interviewed and he responded, "As long as you ask me sweet off the wall questions. I'm tired of the run of the mill hip hop questions". He also added "ask me fun stuff", so somewhere throughout this interview I hope I've achieved a balance between fun and professional.

Any other skills besides rockin' the mic and provoking the ladies on stage?

hell yes! despite my toothpick appearance..i love food. so i've developed quite the skills in culinary yum yums over the years. that and i worked in kitchens for my whole life....
other than that... i'm pretty accurate with a javelin, i can hold my breath for like a minute and 30 seconds, i can out run murder dice.

The first time I heard you my initial thought was that you had an atmosphere esque style. How do you feel about that comparison?
no.. i've never been to space.. i heard the russians used to send monkeys up there...

You say on your myspace page that you like "missing punches". Explain.
i got drunk, the hippie talked shit, i missed the punch, we all laughed, he may have been an alien... may have...

If you could choose a character from the movie Office Space, who would you say fits you best?

i'm not old enough to see r rated movies... but if i had to guess.. i'd say i'd be simba.

Having lived in Seattle, what do you think about the Sonics moving to Oklahoma City?
who gives a shit?

I heard through your myspace page that you're moving to San Diego. Why the change of scenery?
i'm going down there to spend some time saving beached manatee's.. that and i like the sun.. and.. my roommates in seattle smell like smoked meat and moth balls.

Blonde's or brunettes?

both at the same time...

Scar Gardens is my favorite song of yours and I'm guessing it's about an ex. Does she know the songs about her?

oh she knows...

Ren or Stimpy?

did you know whales can grow to be a 100 years old?

What's your favorite cartoon from the 90's?

barbra walters

Ever been so drunk that it made performing hard (referring to performing on stage)?

every single fucking time...

If you were a male stripper, what would your stage name be?

david copafeel

What's your take on the DH and astro turf?

if there's grass on the field play ball.

What's your biggest personality flaw?

i get nervous when people watch me eat..

Out of all the things you own, whats your most prized possession?

my Michael jordan rookie card.. covered in syrup.. i'm serious.

You just recently were on tour, what's the best story you took home with you?

cinco de mayo.. i did a shot for every song on stage.. blacked out.. got in a fight with a lesbian crip who kept calling me fag... and almost got arrested at the airport for stealing the wheel chair and doing wheelies in it.

Your first name is Ben, your rap name is Grieves, being from the Bay Area I remember a guy who's name was Ben Grieve that played for the Oakland A's. I'm guessing thats where the name Grieves came from. Why Ben Grieve?

because everything that isn't can't be! and everything that is can't not be!
i don't watch baseball.

After the interview was over me and Grieves exchanged a couple more emails and maybe one too many "I love yous". We promised each other that we'd hang out when he's touring through Salt Lake City. Grieves added, "nothin says fun like 3.2 beer and flat chested emo chicks!... just kidding", the only problem is, I don't live in Salt Lake and I'm pretty sure Grieves knows this. The jokes don't stop with this guy and I'm sure it'll be one of the many reason we'll all be talking about Grieves for days to come. Also be sure to check out Grieves on his myspace page and buy his new cd "88 Keys and Counting" when it comes out November 12th.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Q & A With Atmosphere's Own... Slug

As I sat down in front of my computer before my interview with Slug, a thought occurred to me, have I climaxed in my bloggin career too early (climaxing too early, a phrase a young man in his 20's like me never wants to hear). I mean having Slug as my first interviewee is a pretty big accomplishment and one that I'm quite proud of. As I started to think of questions to ask one of the best writers/storytellers in my opinion, a song by Slug's side project, Felt, starts to play on my mp3 player -- "20 Answers", one of my favorite songs by Felt. I on the other hand, have compiled a list of 16 questions for Mr. Sean Daley and to my surprise he was willing to answer them all! Enjoy!

Who's an artist from any time period that you think more people should be listening to?

-x clan, willie
nelson, mc shan, and the mountain goats.

How do you feel your music has evolved since first starting out?
-like most rappers, i started by emulating my heroes. now i feel as if we've managed to somewhat carve out our own lane on this highway. granted it's a skinny lane where we all drive slow and look at the scenery.

After you're done recording, done making music, whats next? Anything else left to accomplish?
-i have no clue. looking for that answer myself.

Whats the most memorable moment you have of being on tour?

-too many to list. a few worth mentioning: meeting and having lunch with rick rubin. stealing a baseball cap from jack osbourne. going to portugal, iceland, alaska, new zealand, south korea. having a wisdom tooth pulled a few hours before a show, too many more to list.

Any plans on another felt colab?
-yes indeed, but i can't tell you who is producing it, nor who it is dedicated to. those are still secrets.

Has any song that you perform on stage made you so emotional that you cried?
-it's not cool to cry in rap. so, yes. it was hard performing the song "yesterday" for the first time. almost didn't finnish the third verse. and i've only performed "the river" once due to it choking me up.

If you had a choice of one of each; movie, song, cd, tv show, what would they be and why?

-purple rain, purple rain, purple rain, the wire.
i love prince. and i love the wire. sorry that my answers suck.

Where's the most interesting place you've written a song?

-on a plane, i wrote a song called "woman with the tattooed hands," about the woman sitting next to me. i didn't know her, but she kept staring at me like she hated me. so i started to write the song next to her, hoping that she would look down and notice. she didn't.

Can you pin point the moment in your life when you knew you wanted to make music?

-not really. i was pretty young, and i saw how much the cooler older people loved musicians. i wanted to feel that validation.

What are your fondest musical memories?

-too many to mention. as of now, i would suggest that the year 2007 is my fondest musical memory. the amount of time that anthony and i spent making the lemons album as well as all of the seasonal sad clowns was the best time of my career.

Have you ever had any outrageous mishaps on stage?

-ha. yeah, but most were due to my raging drunk days.
i don't drink as much anymore.

How do you balance your music career with other obligations such as family,friends, partner?

-i don't balance them, i mix them together.

What aspect of making music excites you the most at this point of your career? and what aspects of music make you the most discouraged?

-at this point, i love every part of this game. i used to hate doing press, and running the pr cycles. but as of late, i've learned how to enjoy all of it.

In what ways does your home town of Minneapolis affect the music you create?

-i think being surrounded by so many other diy artists has kept us focused. we've never really seen the hollywood side of this game.
i think the cold weather has kept us productive, there is not much else to do in the winter but create.

How has Ant helped you grow as an artist?

-ant taught me how to focus. priceless.

You played nirvana at the show in san francisco.... who's your favorite rock band?

-hmm. favorite? i dunno. too many to name. current favorite - tv on the radio. classic favorite - jimi hendrix. all time favorite - prince

As I thanked Slug for his time he left me with these words, "
keep up the progression and productivity. stay busy and safe".

Check out Atmosphere at his myspace page or on his label's website.

The Things We Think And Do Not Say

What's that? Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire already used this headline for his mission statement? Oh well.... For me, it's been the things I love that I do not act upon. Such as music. It's without a doubt my passion! No matter what I'm doing music is constantly running around in my head. So lately I've been trying to find my niche in music and maybe, just maybe, the wonderful world of blogs is exactly what I've been searching for, an escape from the grueling 9 to 5 into the countless possibilities music has to offer.