Monday, May 24, 2010

Nas & Damien Marley "Distant Relatives"

Artists, rappers especially, like to talk about collaborations and this in turn makes us fans excited to hear the music from those sessions. Often they don't ever come to fruition. When Nas & Damien Marley started talking about doing an album together I greeted it with great suspicion. Yeah right. But in did happen. Distant Relatives is in stores now and Nasir Jones is touring with Damien Marley.

Last night the show stopped in Seattle. I haven't listened to Nneka yet but with all the good things I've heard and the bit of the set I did catch last night I think her album is about to be searched out. She seemed to mix a lot of different styles into her set, demonstating quite a powerful and unique voice. I'm curious what the music sounds like on her album, as she was backed by a few live instruments but not a full band.

Once she was done the show got boring with no DJ rocking tunes between sets. I found myself outside ignoring the sold out crowd and trying to catch a plane or two. Then with no fanfare Nas was on stage rocking classics. The crowd instantly erupted, spitting words from Illmatic tracks, hands to the sky, heads nodding. The first time I saw Nas I had the same feeling, you gotta see this man.

His presence on stage may be unrivaled. He enjoys himself, smiling and rocking, entertaining the crowd. KRS may spell out E-M-C-E-E but Nas is a true master of ceremonies. Thankfully the sound man at the Sodo Showbox was earning his buck and things sounded terrific. While it's rare that a band can capture an artists beats via their instruments, especially when those beats were not made with a band in mind, Jr. Gong's band handled theirs quite well delivering terrific renditions of a few classics. Green Lantern was on the 1's and 2's and I'm pretty sure he dropped a few beats into the mix as well. Can't complain about that.

Upon Marley's entrance the rastas in the place went understandably ape shit and clouds began to rise. I'm not particularly familiar with his music, mildly familiar with that of his fathers but I enjoy much of his contributions to the Distant Relatives project. His vocal intotation is often not that dissimilar from an emcee's flow. I'm not sure if this singing style of rapping is common in his solo music but it works well here and he keeps pace with Nas. Of course he does drop into singing as well and it's good.

Reggae is a style I'm only just now begining to really dig into. Much of it doesn't capture me, while a few things in the genre enrapture my ears. I appriciate good singing and Damien posses a good voice. Lyrically they are both trying to educate and express themselves. Nas has always been one to discuss knowledge and at least portrays the idea that he is well read. Marley's spirtuality and ideas about the world feel much more organic and obviously come from a place much different than that of most of the world.

The theme behind the album is of a unified world. We are all related, we are all Distant Relatives in some crazy interconnected way. Musically these connections are explored beautifully throughout the album. Damien and his brother Stephen are responsible for the sonic tapestries here, pulling from their own traditions, the Hip Hop production mind frame and inspired sounds from the homeland of Africa. Music is deep and always moving. The tunes here are full and lively. The use of live instrumentation gives the album life and allows for Nas and Damien to more fully push the message of empowerment.

Live this provides the oppurtunity for a band to really dig into the music and give the audience the best, hip shaking jams possible. Of course the slow tunes are performed as well, but the crowd rioted best when the album opener dropped. "As We Enter" samples Mulatu Astatke and features a great synth line that fuels you to mash out. Horns blow and the party continues.

Throughout the show the keyboard player was getting fully down and was obviously adding his own personal touches to the tunes. This sense of freedom is something rarely seen in bands backing Hip Hop artists. Perhaps it is because they don't typically. If I had seen Marly in the past I would have a better idea of how they operate, I can't imagine that they don't improvise and play with the music at any given show. Improvisation is another great musical form that has been lost in rap, going so far that today you can't even believe when someone claims they just spit a freestyle.

The music on the album and the music they performed last night is great. The classic status some reviewers have bestowed is a bit much. At times the music is tired. Sometimes it sounds like they are trying to hard, "My Generation" with Joss Stone and Lil Wayne is cool enough but sounds like the result of checks being cut, not an organic, inspired group of artists who really believe their generation is the hope of the future. If you missed the show, don't allow it to happen if they make it back again. In the mean time check out the album and enjoy something strikingly original.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Wiz Khalifa "Kush & Orange Juice" (2009)

It's finally time. Kush & Orange Juice. It's been out here, cats are listening to it. Wiz performed practically the entire tape this past weekend. The show left a bad taste in my mouth, but that isn't anything new when it comes to acts I dig on. The crowd was eating it up and the venue was packed out. Can't be mad at all of that. Still curious about what all the hype is for? Download this tape and spark something up, the picture will get clearer the hazier the room is.

If I've come to one conclusion in my time reviewing all his projects it's that while he probably can get deep, it's not in his repetroie at the moment. This also coincides with my feeling that Wiz is an artist to watch. I see a vision behind what he is doing and am incredibly excited to see where he takes it. He has a lot of potential and as he grows I think his music will too.

We aren't their yet though. He is still a 22 year old kid having fun, enjoying life and the perks of his career choice. Rollin doobies, drinking champagne, stealing your ladies and flying around the world to rock shows or record raps. Pretty good life. This is the world you will be privy to while listening to Kush & OJ. If you are in the mood to celebrate life, have a good time, and get highed up this is the perfect soundtrack.

Beatwise things are a little more mellow. A few tracks have a heavy west coast, summertime kicking it vibe even seeing Wiz channel his inner Quik on the flows. The electronic influence in his beats from the past is almost entirely absent, replaced by soulful and funky samples.

What made me a fan of this kid (aside from our avid inhilation of greenery) was his flow. I've mentioned it throughout these reviews but it's inescapable, it's his best skill and he utilzies it to the fullest. None of the lyrics here capture any depth to life, if you need some substance stay away.

He has played around with sing song type flows before, here he dedicates whole songs to it. "Up" is all about getting high and with it's drumless beat and spacey synths in effect it really does come across like you floating on cloud in audio form. I've heard many laugh when this song comes on, it's pretty silly but I can't stop playing it.

The same goes for this tape in general. I took a break from all things Wiz after the show, but I knew this needed to get up. If you have ever enjoyed Wiz or wondered what all the hype was for this is what you should get. It's good, prior to Saturday I would of said it was great. Bad shows and high expectations will do that to your favorite music. Keep one rolled while playing this.

Download Kush & Orange Juice here.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Wiz Khalifa "Deal Or No Deal" (2009)

After independently releasing his debut album at 19 and moving ten thousand units Wiz must of thought his path was written. Signed to Warner Bros., Rolling Stone write up's and a chart climbing single were all in his grasp - he didn't let it make him slow down. Instead he kept hustling, pushing forward and gaining fans the old fashioned way: touring. Consistently dropping quality music for free probably hasn't hurt either.

2009 was busy for Wiz and this had to have been what it was all going towards. In late November he released his sophomore album Deal Or No Deal, suprisingly to little fanfare it seemed. My initial disappointment in it was largly to the fact that many of the songs here are pulled from his old mixtapes. Having just finished working my way through his entire discography this was still noticable, however today I'm feeling more forgiving and it is nice to hear the tracks without tags, rewinds or some other typical mixtape nonsense.

The music found here is pretty typical Wiz. It's almost entirely missing much of the "sound" that made Star Power and Flight School the successes they were, but also might explain why B.A.R. was a decidedly more mainstream and straightforward affair. Almost none of these songs feature the sing song vocal stylings he had been experimenting with, he has some mediocre singers on the hooks instead.

Producution is handled by his team, Sledgren & Johnny Juliano who seem to be holding back a little bit here, or perhaps these are all old tracks that Rostrum and Wiz decided they just needed to drop and move on. A few other cats turn in some beats, and few come close to what he has worked with recently. Whatever the story is, these are obviously old and that makes the desire to replay this disc low for me.

The problem Wiz is going to have to tackle at some point is picking what lane he wants to ride in. He seems to be trying to please everyone by trying his hand at all styles. He is a talented dude and pulls off much of what he puts his mind too, but for a sophomore release in the year that he certainly proved himself it's a bit of a disappointment.

I'll never talk bad about about Wiz and Currensy together however and the inclusion of "Friendly" here was a great call and is such a fun song you can't help but turn up. This is the overall problem with Deal Or No Deal, just when you want to write it off as old tracks that sound tired one of those old cuts brings a smile to your face reminding you why you dig Wiz.

I've posted a grip of material here over the last 9 days, Wiz has been generous enough to give away a lot of music in his career. No download link for this one, if you are really hard up I'm sure it won't be too hard for you to find.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wiz Khalifa "Burn After Rolling" (2009)

I had some false impressions of Burn After Rolling that had me hating on a tape that is actually quite good, certainly a worthy follow up to the excellent Flight School he had dropped several months prior to this. In '09 he also released his record with Currensy and his full length dropped a few weeks after B.A.R. - it serves as a great representation of Wiz and certainly was a great marketing tool for Deal or No Deal.

All this work and he doesn't even begin to sound tired. Here he rocks over a lot of jacked beats. "Say U Will" brought it out of people last year and Wiz was one of many who dropped some deeply introspective lines over Kanye's masterpiece. He rocks over "Mafia Music" and "Best I Ever Had" as well - I certainly could be missing some others, I'm not sure of the origin of many of these tunes.

Regardless of where they came from, Wiz owns them all. He is simultaneously at his funniest and most serious throughout the tape. While more of it is his typical playful self, he is demonstrating some diversification which is nice to hear. He seems to be tired of haters as he address those who think he hasn't earned his spot multiple times. Of course the ladies are always a topic of discussion for Wiz; that probably won't ever change.

He raps about taking other dude's women on the aptly named "Take Yo Bitch," tells tales of good times with "On The Pill" and for his reworking of Drake's hit turns in "Ode to Naked Pop Stars" paying tribute to the rash of ladies who decided to let flicks of themselves leak online.

While Star Power overdid the auto-tune and Flight School utilized it startalingly well via small doses, here its only around for one track, the self depricating "If I Were A Lame" is awesome (thanks to it's over the top nature) and calls close attention to more than a few people's probelm in this Hip Hop shit.

Burn After Rolling is definetly more of a mixtape than the last few projects he has released which makes the annoying drops and occasional rewind that much more intolerable. Wiz you give us damn near full length free albums - why you gotta have a DJ talk all over your jams? Despite this minor annoyance
this is another great offering from the young kid who builds everyday all day with no sign of slowing down.

Download Burn After Rolling here.

Re-Post: Curren$y & Wiz Khalifa "How Fly" (2009)

I already spoke on this joint back towards the end of last summer after marinating on it for far to long. It was a great time and if you haven't listened to these two together you need too.

Read my review here and get watch out for that Burn After Rolling review coming later today.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

April Heatrocks: The Lost and Late Edition

My favorite feature of iTunes has to be the play count and top 25 most played lists. I love being able to see what is getting the most plays from me. With my computer crashing and the subsequent reloads I found myself loosing the valuable information that makes up my play count and helps determine what you all are blessed in these here posts I like to call the heatrocks. A few of the songs from last month were so ingrained in my ears i couldn't forget them, others just jumped out as I scrolled. Just 11 bangers this time around due to technical difficulty but you'll enjoy them!

J Rocc, Daedelus, Ras G & Nobody all participated in a little project with Dublab outta LA entitled Secondhand Sureshots and it is one of the dopest documentaries about diggin I've ever seen. They all went out with 5 bucks and picked up 5 records from thrift shops in LA. Took them home and made tunes out of them, dublab pressed em on to dubplates (and subsequent full 12" vinyl) and had each artist go drop them back into the original bins. DOPE. This tune is J Rocc's concoction flipping some Barbara striesand. So beautiful.

Rick Ross has become perhaps the biggest joke in all of Hip Hop but he consistently picks some of the best beats and has the ability to just body a track. Don't know who his homie C-Ride is but his tape The Arab Store gave me a little enjoyment. This track "Str8 Outta Carol City" is on some grabbing at it's namesakes stature with the energy and excitement they let loose. I dig it. What you think?

I will never forget deciding to buy Bonobo's last album on CD because it came with the instrumentals, forever being pissed as the record is so beautiful I can only imagine what it would really sound like if played correctly. Oh well, live and learn. His latest album Black sands seems to be gaining a lot of momentum and hype and this selection "Kiara" reminds me slightly of the Starkey album along with some of the best moments of Joker's brand of dubstep. It's an airy party tune.

Flying Lotus has let loose his latest onto the massive that is planet Earth. Although Cosmogramma may very well be communicating with other dimensions too, us earthlings should be glad to have this project. It's beauty is unmatched and very well may not be. Here on "Do The Astral Plane" we experience a house track done FlyLo style. It's hot and should have every DJ itching to give it some burn. Rock this track, rock this album, rock anything FlyLo, Brainfeeder or Low End puts out - the hot streak isn't cooling, they are on some shit in LA right now.

Keeping the beat heads satisfied is never easy, in 2010 it seems everyone wants to do it though and as long as the albums come are as hot as the assortment of bangers we have seen drop already this year we would be fools not to embrace this ever evolving sub genre. Free The Robots delivered a project that has been standing out more and more with every listen. I'm constantly hearing a track off it, wondering what it is and being more impressed by the record Ctrl Alt Delete upon discovering yet another track worth repeat listens. The cut that had me at the moment was this "Turkish Voodoo."

Philly is not a town I think of when considering electronic music hot spots. Starky has changed this for me in one fell swoop with his album Ear Drums And Black Holes proving that dubstep and Hip Hop are lost cousins that can be contored together into something special. The album has a number of beautiful instrumental moments (opener "OK Luv" was close to taking the selection here's place) along with a few vocal performances. The best of which is here. "Numb" with P-Money on the bars delivering a great message about music's power to heal and save. I love this song and captures the pain music can absorb.

10.4 Rog dropped this little gem for us while we were running a remix contest "ExtraHellaDope" from them SOTA boys. Rog laced it pretty right, with a narly bass line and his quirky synths that are rapidly becoming a trademark of this young beatmaker. Yet another demonstration that 10.4 needs to work with everyone in the town. Seattle beats to make your head nod.

Murs and 9th Wonder have teamed up yet again and I once again don't know where to stand. I've had such a roller coaster ride with both parties music at this point I kinda just feel like I want to throw my hands up - it doesn't matter this much. In reality my questioning the music is silly, Sweet Lord was one of the best records I'd heard when it dropped and the fact that they did it for free? Who does that today of the same stature as these two? For this lastest offering it feels like they finally got to Murs coast as the music is much more riding type shit. Kurupt makes two appearences and kills both with ease. He needs to make a record with 9th now. Murs does what he does, can't really say he stands out.

I'm in the middle of reviwing these Wiz discs and it's been a great ear opening experience. He has traversed many styles of rap in his years making tunes. Today he is at his most haziest and most distant from rap. Here on "Up" he is in effect singin, albeit quite poorly. Yet it works. Probably more for us stoners than anyone else but we all know what he is getting at as he chats "we go Up, up, up, up (repeatedly)." No we ain't coming down with ya Wiz. Just keep us flying - no one is audio dope like the Khalifa man.

I'm slowing breaking into the final Little Brother, and While Soderberg paint's a great picture that we all should embrace I'm feeling a little like what the older heads must of felt when Tribe or EPMD split: heart break. It's bittersweet. I wasn't mad at 9th's departure/removal but I'm not sure about the prospect of never hearing an album of Tay and Pooh raps together. I'm sure we will get cuts here and there but it won't be the same. Such a shame. At least they gave us one more jawn that is filled with gems we shouldn't overlook. Here is the first cut that got me, shouts to Tay with that line "rap's no country for old men." It's the truth yet I think you had the skills to change the face of Rap. Fuck you probably already have. Time will show us the birth you gave to this music. Thanks for the time on the mic.

Download the heatrocks here!

Wiz Khalifa "Flight School" (2009)

It's only proper to have something rolled up when listening to Flight School, front to back the best project Wiz Khalifa has dropped in his career. Kush and Orange Juice is hot, I'll get to it, but this is his shining moment in my ears. Having listened to Star Power finally it makes perfect sense as a follow up, capitolizing on every dope aspect of that tape and simeltaneously dismissing all the weak ideas that were probably dead before he really tried them. What you get is an awesome project I've already declared as one of the best - I can always give my thoughts on a tremendous record though.

The production here is awesome. He grabs a few beats, Santogold's "Starstruck" and a Pharcyde classic which he nimbly rides perfectly. His flow is on full demonstration here and he never disappoints. It's an awesome listening experience as he selects such a diverse array of backdrops to rip it's just fun to hear him always execute with ease.

He doesn't spit anything mind blowing, but it's always clever, often bragadocious and always cocky. Sometimes he drops into a slightly more introspective mood and it's usually to good results. On "Material" he is completely honest about what he is after, he wants his name known and he is chasing success.
"They say we too material but money make the world go round."
It's hard to say that my consumption of herbal greenery has nothing to do with my liking for Wiz Khalifa. He has never hidden his affinty for the chronic but it has been a steady growth of how much he dedicates to the topic. Here it's pretty prevalent but still see moments when it's forgotten. Of course the trade mark weed song is here, this time straight jacking an old reggae tune and spitting over it after letting the old guy sing for some time.

He dedicates maybe a little too much energy to shouting out clothing companies and designer labels but that was hot for a moment and he certainly has no fear at jumping onto trends. He is savy enough to roll it into his own image, not looking like a joke but like someone who has been riding for street wear from the begining. Perhaps he has, it wasn't really prevalent in the tapes I've reviewed up to now.

Kev The Hustler is here and while at first I wasn't feeling it, it's grown on me. The beat knocks and they concoct some very creative lines referencing money and how much of it they have - silly in the end but done well. Success! And when backed with a song as inspiring as "Never Ever" you can't be made. The kid works hard and has paid more dues than many of these cats gracing covers today, his shine will come and burn longer due to it.

Flight School is great. I can't encourage you to listen to it enough. The beats are all stellar and will make you want to move. The introspective moments are heavy and entirley to the point about struggles everyone enjoys. The cocky confidence swagger is only enboldend thanks to this realism. Roll a pack of sweets up and listen to Wiz.

Download Flight School here.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wiz Khalifa "Star Power" (2008)

In between Prince of the City Vol. 2 and Star Power Khalifa's weed consumption had to have gone up. The references are far more on par with what we have come to expect and the sound is that spacely party and chill vibe he has used his in house team of beatmakers to mold into their thing. Here we still see moments of that block talking young kid whose first project welcomed you to Pistolvania.

Most of these projects have utilized a quick intro and it remains the same here which just means the music starts that much sooner. Kicks off proper with a Johnny Juilano feature "I'm a Star" that is a filled with an awesome hook taylor made for clubs. Wiz spends the time telling you just how star lived his life is. Truth or fiction, it doesn't really matter he owns the image and paints it to be pretty fun.

Of course it can't all be fun and parties. The guests keep coming through which add another element to this tapes walking of a line between where Wiz came from and where he was going. Kev The Hustler, Boaz & Young Ro join him for the remix to "Be Easy" featuring the same, mashing, heavy synth, dirty banger of a beat but with all these cats going in and handleing theirs. Wiz gives us a new verse that is full of that bragadocious swagger I'm sure Warner Bros. was convinced they could capitolize on.

The Star Power tracklist is interspersed with "freestyles" over commerical beats. If these are real, straight up freestyles that is pretty awesome. We will probably never have a way to know and it's unfortunate that the state of the game today means that we question what someone means with the use of that word. In the end though, each of them ("Low Ridin", "Everytime", Dope Boys" & "Where The Cash At") show us that he is a fully capable emcee, ready to perform at the level of his peers. Fuck a freshman 10 cover in 2009, Wiz was the chosen one and hasn't ever lost sight of his vision.

This tape is fun and shows much of the potential we are seeing come to fruiton today. Perhaps I've been sayin this throughout my reviews of all these projects. It's an amazing feat to me in this industry today. Few people grasp the concept of building an artist. It was how the music industry operated for years. I'm enjoying his back catolog as an oppurtunity to see into the mind of an artist I thoroughly enjoy. It shows me who he was and who he really is more fully. And I constantly hear hints as to what he makes today. All of this contributes to my listening of his tunes.

Listening to Star Power I can't help but spark up. It's the first tape I've reviewed in this series that has given me that desire. As I said, his weed consumption has increased here. And his ear for beats demonstrates it. So many of these tracks just feel like they are covered in this haze, not the dustyness of so much boom bap production but the cloudy haze that comes from blunt after blunt after blunt to the dome. This is some new age stoner music for the masses.

Download Star Power here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Wiz Khalifa "Prince of the City Vol. 2" (2007)

Upon first listening to Prince of the City Vol. 2 I was scratching my head. It wasn't that it sounded terrible but it didn't really seem like the Wiz I had been listening to. Perhaps this contributed to why I was delayed in running it yesterday like the plan has been. Sometimes delays happen and Mothers Day was no joke in the resturant biz! Cash money in my pocket makes things all better though.

So what's good with this second mixtape of '07 from the Khalifa man? It's head and shoulders above Prince of the City Vol. 1 for a multitude reasons. He is finally coming into his own. Don't get me wrong, the projects before this one were definetly instrumental in his sound, but here on Vol. 2 you will hear what it is you know Wiz for.

The tape starts quick with a vocal clip from the movie The Wiz before the celebratory anthem "Got Damn Love It" about how much he loves life. It's up beat and fun as are many of the beats to be found on this disc, done by much of his in house team I'm assuming. They too are coming into their own as producers incorporating more electronic and dance sounds into the tunes, giving them a more friendly feel that would certainly translate to broader pop appeal.

Where the previous tape with Green Lantern felt like something a major would organize to "help" their new signee, Prince of the City Vol. 2 feels like something Wiz did on his own out in the 'Burgh just trying to please his fans. His trademark weed song is great here, simple and to the point. He smokes that good weed and rolls it up in blunts (yeah he wasn't talking all that shit forever) - if this is what you do you are gonna vibe with Wiz.

The biggest change on this tape compared to the previous ones is his lyrical abilities. While his album, rightly so, was filled with solid bars and his awesome flow his mixtapes have often been a little lazy and not to complex overall. Here he finally demonstrates that he can spit a hot 16 with the best of, and does it on multiple tracks. It's still generally the same content but proves that his signing was due to more than just some hype.

Prince of the City was probably the start of his mainstream exposure and his introduction to many people. It's a great one. My homie in OR has said this is his favorite Wiz tape, I'm not convinced it's topping flight school - still got a couple days til we dive into that one proper. It does continue to show me that Wiz is no one trick pony and that anyone who hates needs to peep the history.

Download Prince of the City Vol. 2.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

TML Radio 5.1.10 w/ Grynch

Last week Grynch came through to the radio show and chopped it up with us about an assortment of topics. We played some cuts as well so download this return podcast with vigor and stay tuned for the next one, it will be coming as I'm in the studio as I post this.

Download TML Radio w/ Grynch.

Wiz Khalifa "Grow Season" (2007)

For how hard I've been riding for Wiz, I'm suprised by myself having not delved deeper into his back catolog sooner. Shouts out to my Oregonian brother Sunn E.D. for hipping a kid! We've made it to 2007 and Wiz third project, Grow Season.

At this point he was signed to Warner Bros. and the major label hands are all over this project. You have a big name DJ (Green Lantern) and industry beats rocked over (Common's "Go", Snoop's "Vato" to name a couple) along with annoying drops and rewinds. No matter how you feel about these things this tape is still worth some listens and is far superior to his first offering, Prince of the City Vol. 1, yet leaves something to be desired after Show & Prove.

The weed references have been upped here, telling clubs flat out he doesn't care about the rules he will smoke when he wants on the anthem "Lifted." "Talk To Me" has a great auto tuned hook and it's probably a jacked commercial beat but I'm not hip to what it might be. Wiz sounds great on the bubbly synths and fully utilzes his smooth flow to spit about how he scoops the ladies. While it's certainly in rhyme/rap form here, somthing about him on this track clearly shows the start to where he is with the sing song form today.

Throughout this project Wiz never sounds bad, he owns these beats like they were purchased for him. Yet his trademark sound isn't present and you can't help but wish for just one or two in house productions. He and Kev the Hustler turn "Feds Taking Pictures" into "Fans Takin Pictures" to some hilarious results. This along with the other two Kev features go a long way to cementing their chemistry and make you wonder where his tape is?

Listening to this years removed and without any kind of credits makes knowing much difficult but I don't think Green Lantern contributed any beats here, making me scratch my head. The title track flipping "Go" into "Grow" is an awesome rework of the orignal and stands out as a defining track about Wiz career. Some may think he hasn't grown or isn't due to the weed raps he spits, but he is 22 - let's see where he takes us.

Grow Season is cool for documentation purposes and there are a few tracks every Wiz fan should have but overall I think this was a rushed tape scraped together by the label to captiolize on their latest investment. As usual with the majors they fucked it up and dropped the ball. Their loss, Wiz is independent and doing it his way just fine these days.

Download Grow Season.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Wiz Khalifa "Show & Prove" (2006)

If Prince of the City sounded like the first offical mixtape from Wiz Khalifa, Show & Prove is obviously his debut album and demonstrates exactly what it is that has kept him on the tips of cats tongues nation wide since. Show & Prove is a great album all the way through with a wide range of beat styles present and the content Wiz spits is far more thought provoking than much of what was present on Kush & Orange Juice.

The street edge present on his first mixtape is still here but it has lost some of its bite. He has grown into a comfortable story teller and is more inclined to address the negatives to a life surrouded by questionable actions. He still shouts out packing pistols at times and references bagging up product, rarely without a resolution that makes you feel as though he is looking for a moral to the things he has seen.

Woman and sex are the second and third most discussed topics on Kush & OJ, here he dedicates a few songs to the ladies. "Keep The Conversation" sees him and Boaz riding over an awesome piano driven beat that features a vocal sample for the hook stating "Tell the girl a comical lie to keep the conversation alive" - their verses go hand in hand with this concept and while I can't say I would follow the advice if you think your game can match that of Wiz by all means give it a shot. I think it's more of that bragadoccio swagger rappers like their fans to eat up.

After a smooth intro where he spits a few bars to warm you up, the album jumps into "Pittsburgh Sound" his home town anthem that I'm certain gets crowds silly anytime it comes on in the 'Burgh. His ear for beats has always been one of his best assests and on this, his debut album, he was as critical as always. Some, such as "Bout Mine", feel a little boring given a simplistic synth effect and far from knocking drums. But even here Wiz is great at selecting (or perhaps editing) tracks that change and elaborate on themselves as the seconds tick past.

Johnny Juliano holds down a number of these tracks and it shows why his name is still a constant on the Khalifa mans albums to this day. I don't want to hate on the tracks as they are head nod worthy and display Wiz varried flows and cadences, but the album did drop in 2006 and you certainly feel it. It's hard to believe that beat making has gone through that much of a shift in four short years but few artists, Wiz included, are fucking with the 90s style boom bap today.

Sounds and styles evolve, as do people. Wiz says on this album he felt at fourteen he had something to say. Rapping is something he has had his sights on for some time. He speaks about money often. Maybe he comes from it (his parents are both in the military) maybe rap is really making him cash. Either way his confidence in life is carried through in his rhymes and makes him a potent emcee.

No where here will you find the sing song flow Wiz has been playing with as of late, here it's just beats and rhymes. Some say that Wiz isn't hip hop, or isn't following in the foot steps of legends properly. Like Jay said, if you want old shit buy old albums. Wiz and Rostrum Records moved 10,000 copies of this jawn all on their own. It's been out and succeded. Growth and diversification was the only natural move forward.

Download Show & Prove.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Wiz Khalifa "Prince of the City Vol. 1: Welcome to Pistolvania" (2005)

Wiz Khalifa has been a quite storm brewing for years. After parting ways with Warner Bros. after years on deck but never seeing anything come to fruition he has been working harder then ever to keep his fans satisfied with material to burn to.

As the date of his arrival in Seattle approaches I've wanted to shed some light on who this young kid is and what he has been doing. At 18 he dropped Prince of The City Vol. 1: Welcome to Pistolvania. A typical mixtape affair, devoid of pretty much anything that would make it stand out from any tape you could find on canal street back in the day.

That is not to say you shouldn't listen to this. If you like Wiz it's a great demonstration of how far he has come and how well he has developed his strengths. While on his latest offering Kush & Orange Juice he doesn't fully show it (due to a lot of more sung vocals, not coming weak), he can ride a beat with the best of em. Sounding good on a track goes a long way to making you listenable repeatedly.

His ear for beats is great! He rocks a few industry ones with ease and has his in house team hold down the rest I'm assuming. Everything here is pretty straight forward boom bap, east coast style bangers for Wiz to get hard on. It's not the Wiz we know today and it's still nothing to deep to digest but he also tempers some of the tough talk with some real moments acknowledgeing his inexperience in certain realms.

Ultimately it sounds as though he is playing Nas, telling stories from those around him. Pittsburgh isn't on the map as a Hip Hop hot bed but wiz has been carring the city on his shoulders since this first tape. I don't know much about the city of steel but I doubt that life is always easy, like any urban area in America drugs and crime run the streets.

Any young artist is going to have to deal with his own maturation in front of the audience he is trying to train. Wiz seems to have handled it just fine advancing from tired street tales to the modern day rap stoner icon. Certainly not the most significant achievement, it is hard to deny the accessibility and genuine fun captured by his tunes today. He has changed dramatically. He has built on his strengths and kept the right people around him from the start.

Download Prince of The City Vol. 1: Welcome to Pistolvania.

Live from the Depths... A TML update

Just when I was getting into the swing of things and running this blog how things are meant to be run, I up and disappear. To my readers, apologies. Life has been a roller coster ride since last October upon my return to Seattle. Thankfully things are shapping up well and by the time the rain stops and we enter Summer proper I hope to have a permanent address and a work schedule closer to full time.

Be that as it may - I'm still couch surfing, playing what clothes can I dig out of my trunk each morning so as to not look like a total bum. I've scored a second job in Magnolia working on the water at the nicest resturant I've ever been a part of and until June 13th I will still be whoring myself to the benefactor of my diploma. Alumi status = coffee making... SMH.

What does this mean for you? The incredibly unproductive last month might just extend for a bit longer. Windows 7 is now installed on MC and my internet is working once again, expect to see drops here and there but until I'm 24 I probably won't be on it as you have come to expect. Just a heads up and I hope you can hold out for me.

A lot of music has dropped lately, if you haven't been looking for it then scroll through the rest of this post and grab what you think might be hot - some of these tapes may get some more serious thoughts, we shall see where the mind takes me. Cosmogramma is out and needs to be bought by all. Wiz is coming to town in 10 days and if you are in Seattle the only rain clouds you will be seeing for the duration will be blunt smoke.

I've never been huge on Jeezy. But as he has aged he has matured into a semi serious southern (t)Rapper that has found a great balance between typical D Boy talk and using his knowledge to analyze the downfalls of the street life like only one who lived it, knows it can. His ear for beats is as keen as always and with it being a Don Cannon affair you know some of these tracks are his. Drops are still present, couldn't learn his lesson from the Currensy tape... Cop it. (Link courtesy of Ear Milk)

Haven't had time to play this even one time through but it's the professor emeritus of this Hip Hop shit. It's a safe bet if Face hadn't done what he did Jeezy, and almost every other Southern rapper you idolize, wouldn't be out here doing what they are. If you know you are already getting it, if you don't what are waiting for? This is history right here! Download the first mixtape from Scarface. (Link courtesy of Def Sounds)

Damn I'm sluffing on my listening these days! Working 12 hours daily will do that I suppose. If only I could get the smooth jazz out of the system at work and slide this in. Ha! I do suppose if one rapper could infiltrate the fine dinning experience it would be Theophilus London. Still one of my fav shows of last year and the first I hit while living in PDX last summer, the 10K Hamburger Tour with A-Trak upped Mr. L's profile significantly and got him in the lab with those he needed. I have no doubts that this tape is gonna be a beautiful journey in sounds and styles, continuing to demonstrate his knack for flipping rap in ways no one has ever expected. If you didn't read it in the past, peep my interview with the man who I ran into strolling the streets of Bridgetown last July and download his tape, I Want You. (Link Courtesy of the Smoking Section)

I'm not a Pac Div rider. They have many. I'm posting this due to that hype and the fact that my lack of support for them is more due to my own ignorance than anything wack they have released. Last years Church League Champions had people (my room mate included) going nuts and screaming they had next. Swiff D put out a solid beat disc since then that I've heard more of than anything with vocals. To be honest Champions never interested me, but from the jump this looks exciting. The cover is clean and subtlety brings to mind a certain debut from a legend. Plus their is a song called "Don't Forget The Swishers" and anyone who knows me knows I don't forget those. So maybe we are both in for a surprise or maybe I'll finally throw my hands up lost as to why these three are popping. I think it will all make sense after I myself download the tape, you should too. (Link Courtesy of Ill Roots)