rap blog

CyHi The Prynce - "Forever" and "To Be Real" freestyles



Depending on who you ask, CyHi The Prynce is either the most underrated or under-performing of Kanye’s friends. Much like King Chip, the “reservoir for metaphors” is a somewhat capable MC who has an equal amount of fans and detractors. CyHi remains album-less after four years of GOOD Music purgatory and even a co-sign from the Illustrious Beyhive has it’s limits. To keep busy while pondering why Teyana Taylor came off the bench first, the 30 year old released two freestyles last week.

As a sucker for prominent retro samples, “Forever” and “To Be Real”
sound golden to yours sincerely. “Forever” is a pledge of allegiance to the grind over a repurposed hook from matching outfit era Jodeci and chopped Keith Sweat sample. CyHi’s dense collection of bars is secondary to the throwback tunes, but the frustrated vibe from ‘Ye’s rumoured ghostwriter is hard to miss.



"To Be Real" hit 45k plays in 24 hours and the rework of Cheryl Lynn’s 70s disco hit is another production win even she commended. CyHi often trades in back to back simple metaphors e.g “treat rappers like trampolines. I just bounce on ‘em.” This is the specific technique that divides listeners into opposing camps, you either think the quick-wit works well with the bubbly beat or it makes you cringe. No matter what side you fall on, the beats are enough to overlook CyHi’s wordplay. As a fan of both, I happen to agree with the eloquent commenter who stated “anyone who doesn’t like these can head-butt a knife.” If the man who insists on misspelling prince and using elementary rhymes keeps his production team close, Kanye might just let him put some numbers on the board.

Wu Tang Interview - U God

U-God-w.jpg

By Jimmy Ness and originally written for Passionweiss.

Lamont Jody Hawkins is better known by his rap alias U-God, but it’s the “Four Bar Killer” nickname that has defined his career. Wu Tang’s mastermind RZA treated each member of the iconic group like a chess piece and used their individual strengths in a specific way while recording their early work. Unfortunately for U-God, this meant that his gruff voice was used sparingly and he often had to make the most of spitting a quick four bars before it was someone else’s turn.

Hawkins, who never had a fully produced RZA solo album like several other members, has often expressed his bitterness at being delegated to being a pawn in the Wu strategy. He left the group in 2004, recorded this documentary, and attempted to sue RZA for $170,000.

However, childhood friends often fight like brothers and the members have reconnected. U-God rejoined Wu Tang shortly after leaving and his 2009 solo LP “Dopium” was well received. Hawkins also released the new album, The Keynote Speaker on July 23, while Wu Tang is embarking on a 20th Anniversary tour during the next few months. 

Despite his reputation for a bad temper and history of being unspoken during interviews, U-God was relatively guarded over the phone and he gave many one-word answers. However, we did chat about his introduction to rap, being around Ol’ Dirty Bastard, stepping away from the “Four Bar Killer” title and of course the new Wu Tang album.

When you first got started you were beatboxing for Cappadonna?

Yeah that’s true. I’m a superb beatboxer. Superior beatbox specialist heh heh. I still do it every now and then.

Who is Scotty Wotty? He’s on some of your most recent solo work and Ghostface famously mentions him on “Nutmeg.”

Well, Scotty Wotty was like my mentor in rhyming. He knew me since I was a baby, he was the first dude in the hood who was really nice, who was close to us and could really rhyme. I came and got him back, came and found him and dug him up and put him out there. But you know, he’s still got it.

You also knew Raekwon since you were children and your parents were friends?

Yeah, his mother and my mother lived in the same building in Brooklyn, East New York. We all migrated over to Staten Island at about the same time.

Is it true you were playing with a loaded gun and nearly shot him when you were kids?

(laughs) I can’t believe you said that man. Yeah, yeah little kid stuff. Wow, I can’t believe ya’ll are still talking about that.

Your uncle helped introduce you to rap?

He used to go to Harlem World and bring me back little tapes of the battles that were going on back at the stage when I was a little kid, and you know, kind of got me into hip-hop.

You went to jail for almost three years around the time that 36 Chambers was being recorded, but before that you put yourself through college for a few years off drug money?

That’s right. I studied Business Management.

Was there a point during Wu Tang’s earlier years, where you suddenly thought “wow we’ve got something special?”

Yeah you know, in the beginning when we all started doing it. It wasn’t when we blew up. I already knew what my brothers were capable of doing before we became Wu Tang. I had a pre-determined, pre-meditated situation where I already knew. It was like a business.

There’s an interesting quote from you where you said “I can talk about Wu Tang, but don’t let me hear anyone else talk about them. That’s my family.”

Exactly (laughs) no comment on that.

ODB remains one of the most unique characters that has ever existed in hip-hop. What was it like being around him?

Well you know that’s family man. He might be Wu and ODB, and wild and stuff, but to me that’s my brother man. It ain’t nothing. It’s like Meth, that’s my family too but people be going crazy when the see the dude, and I be like tsk maaaan that’s my fam. It’s like he’s special, but he’s not that special like ya’ll would see him. But I love my brothers man.

Looking back on your career, do you have anyone who you are proudest to have worked with?

I’ve worked with a lot of different people… umm Rick Rubin, a lot of different people. We met so many good people, it’s hard to even say. You know what I mean? Well, Issac Hayes. He’s a good guy man, quiet, keeps to himself. People are human beings you know. People are just regular man.

You’ve been known for having quite a wild temper, do you think you’ve calmed with age?

Yeah, yeah man. I’m not the only one that’s like that. Don’t make it sound like I’m the only bad guy. I wasn’t the only bad guy, stop making it seem like I’m the only one that’s crazy like that (laughs). I wasn’t the only one.

Your writing style has changed over time. At first your style was quite straight forward, then around the time of Wu Tang Forever your style was a bit more abstract, a bit more slanged out. And now it’s gone back to being how it was originally. Were you making these changes on purpose?

Yes, yes I do change my style up because I can’t stay the same, plus my attitude changes with my style. My process is kinda crazy man. I go through a lot because I sit still, I meditate. I don’t know, I use the lower levels of my brain. It’s just different.

You’ve spoken a lot about how you feel you are quite underrated, do you feel like now is your time to shine? Dopium was well received, and now you’re coming out with Keynote Speaker?

We’ll I can’t tell which way things are going to go or what they are going to lead to, but when I came up with “Keynote Speaker” that’s exactly what I was saying because I’ve basically come to the forefront, to step to the podium and talk to you. So you know, whatever happens happens. People like good music – they gravitate toward it. They do – they do, they don’t – they don’t, but this record right here is my Illmatic. So this is what I’m doing right now. I’m not the four bar killer anymore. I used to be, but that’s not what I’m about no more.

Tell us about the track “Black Shampoo” off Wu Tang Forever, it’s definitely a unique song.

People tease me about that record, I get mixed reviews. I get laughed at. 

A little bit of all of the above, but how do you feel about the track?

It definitely shows a different side of U-God. You switched your style up quite a bit on there. 

Okay…

Of course I have to ask about the new Wu Tang stuff, do you feel like you guys can make a full comeback with a solid record?

Well, we gon’ try baby. We gon’ give it our all.

What about the production? Because not everyone was happy with the way that 8 Diagrams turned out.

Well we going to figure it out when we cross that bridge, you know what I mean? Hopefully it will come out good and we can be happy with it.

Dj Khaled - No New Friends ft. Drake, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross and Future




By Jimmy Ness and originally written for Passionweiss

DJ Khaled should worry about new ideas, instead of new friends. He needs a crew that brings creative criticism to the studio rather than codeine. The “DJ” has used the same technique to make music for seven records- cram a bunch of relevant artists on a track with a “cinematic hook” and let the power of their popularity sell the record. Khaled’s first release Listennn…the album had an intro with over 24 guest features in less than two minutes. Who really needed to hear a song featuring Pitbull, Nas and Bone Thugs N Harmony performing together?

Seven years later, Khaled bin Abdul Khaled still hasn’t learnt his lesson. “No New Friends” sounds like a b-side to “Bitches Love Me,” and was probably made during the same session. Drake sings the melodramatic hook over traditional understated production from BFFs “Boi-1da” and Noah “40” Shebib. He mentions “Bitches Love Me” specifically during his bland raps and tries to drop a hot line by saying “If I had a baby momma she would probably be richer than a lot of you.” This line falls flat because a) It’s not very good and b) Drizzy would never just have a “baby momma.” I bet five Birdman handrubs he would be shopping for maternity underwear in the blink of an eye.

Rozay comes along secondly and grunts a tepid verse, which only women’s rights groups will bother paying attention to. Weezy also appears to drop a few throwaway verses and the cycle of mediocrity is complete. Just in case there wasn’t enough star power, an unaccredited Future pops up during the last few seconds of the track. If Khaled is so concerned with keeping old friends, he should have thrown T-Pain a scrap and let him sing the Gucci astronaut’s part. It’s not as if this song could get any less memorable.

Four of the most popular current artists, and still not a single reason to replay this track? Blame Khaled. The true reason he has “No new friends” is because he’s always shouting WETHEBEST and no one likes a braggart, especially if their claims are blatantly untrue. If all of Khaled’s music is a movie like he claims, this is definitely the Baby Geniuses 2 of rap.


I'm travelling again!

tulum photograph


Greetings. In case you didn't know/care I'm currently in Mexico dodging organ harvesters before heading to America, Iceland and London. I'm falling asleep on the beach and forgetting what day it is, but give me until late March and this website will be updated as per normal. If you want to pay me big dollars to write about music for you, I'll be checking my emails with a naive sense of hope. Peace and congratulations for surviving 2012.

The PotW Staff Remembers Their First Favorite Album


Music listeners are essentially dopamine addicts. The chemicals are secreted every time we hear a song we love.  We all remember the CD that changed us from casual listeners into audio fiends. Maybe we enjoyed the smooth grooves of a boyband or decided Sisqo had some street cred, but there’s nothing quite like discovering that life-changing album. Even if it was Creed’s greatest hits. Allow us to wax nostalgic for a second.



My introduction to music had an uncertain beginning. As an eight year old, I went through the painful process of being forced to return several albums by god-fearing parents. Targets included: Coolio for explicit language/bad hair, The Bloodhound Gang for poo jokes and boy band All-4-One, of “I Swear” fame, for sweetly harmonizing sex metaphors.

Months after letting Bryan Adams and a Christian rap tape gather dust, I sat watching Space Jam in a small theater. During the scene when a young Michael Jordan dunks, my eyes watered as I pictured myself also soaring through the air. I was blissfully unaware of a future in which I would a) still be white and b) only grow to the height of Big Sean. However, as soon as I could convince my family I wasn’t about to turn into Satan, the Space Jam soundtrack was in my uncoordinated little hands.

It was a crash course in rap and R&B, featuring everyone from Jay-Z to D’Angelo, to disappearing acts like Changing Faces and my former musical brethren All-4-One. Before his underage rendezvous gained interest, R Kelly sung his anthem “I Believe I Can Fly,” Coolio gave inspirational life advice which he clearly didn’t follow on “The Winner,” and Biz Markie met the Spin Doctors on “That’s The Way I Like It.” There was also a mysterious artist called “feat”or “ft,” who seemed incredibly prolific and appeared on almost every song. I distinctly remember telling people they were my favorite artist, until I discovered months later that “ft” was actually short for featuring.

“Hit Em High” was the album’s posse cut and undoubtedly my personal favorite. Somehow it managed to sound hardcore despite featuring no swear words, a feat even that the mighty Lil Romeo was unable to achieve. I listened to the soundtrack almost every day and could rap the lyrics word for word. My perception of music was forever altered and although my basketball career tanked, my obsession with everything audio had begun. It wasn’t until years later that my musical taste regressed to Limp Bizkit and Kid Rock. Oh the follies of youth.

 


Juicy J ft Lil Wayne - Bands Make Her Dance (Remix)



By Jimmy Ness and originally published at Passionweiss

2 Chainz, Drake, Future, Juicy J. Mike Will’s stellar production has steadily been tricking me into liking rappers I think I shouldn’t. My inner rap snob dies a little each time Juicy J’s strip club anthem knocks my ears, but this song’s just too good to ignore. Will’s first single from Est in 1989 Pt. 2 flicks between atmospheric keys and hand claps making it both ominous and thrilling.  (The rest is probably a little NSFW)

The “Bands Make Her Dance” remix is unchanged from the original except for a throwaway Lil Wayne verse. Luckily almost anyone would sound good over this cinematic beat (not Kreyashawn though, never that). Weezy uses the hilariously stupid name “Steven Spielnigga,” switches his flow slightly and thankfully doesn’t sing … much. “I make it rain on ya like a windowpane,” is a very lame metaphor though, and mentioning that stupid “Cashin Out” song should be illegal. Post-jail Wayne only receives a 3/5 grade and participation award for this rhyme.

Jordan Houston is still the star of the show and his chant raps work extremely well. The rap elder continues his strange comeback streak with a reworked a line from Blue Dream & Lean : “You say no to ratchet pussy, Juicy J can’t!” It’s particularly magical when he says “these chicks clapping and they ain’t using hands,” just as Mike Will’s slapping beat kicks in. Juicy also states that it’s not a strip club if there are no vaginas on display, which is hard to disagree with. This track should earn Juicy J a second Academy Award and Mike Will a free lap dance from Gangsta Boo.



Waka Flocka Flame - Rooster in my 'Rari


Waka Flocka Flame - Rooster in my 'Rari

By Jimmy Ness

Originally published at Passionweiss

This bangs so hard even the snarky elitists want to rip their cardigans off and smash stuff. Flocka shout raps to the roosters/chickenheads who sit in his Ferrari and try to sample the Flockaveli fortune. His opening acapella line sets things off nicely- “Pay for what girl? You better pay for this dick!” Fozzie Bear is too busy for gold diggers when there’s stacks to throw, other groupies to sample and Xannies to chew. 

You already know what this sounds like: booming trap beats and basic yell-along lyrics. But that’s not a bad thing. No one wants to hear political Flocka raps unless they’re about getting crunk with Obama and breaking windows in the White House.


“Rooster in my ‘Rari” doesn’t push any musical boundaries, but it’s a nice fiesta from technical wordplay and aggressive social commentary. Especially if you’ve been bumping Killer Mike and EL-P’s albums this month like the rest of us. Flocka’s music is stupidly fun and if you ignore any Trey Songz collaborations, Triple F Life might be the soundtrack for summer rioting and two day hangovers. Waka still does gutter shit better than any of those Chicago high-schoolers.

Deniro Farrar Interview

Deniro Farrar Interview

Deniro Farrar is covered in tattoos and rhymes over trance samples, but is the opposite of a third rate Flo Rida. . His second album Destiny Altered, is death, politics and sex over gloomy atmospheric electronics. Farrar witnessed tough times while living in two Charlotte housing projects and left High School before finishing ninth grade. He refuses the “conscious rapper” label and sits in the same contradictory class as Freddie Gibbs and Schoolboy Q, both promoting and condemning aspects of his imperfect life.

The 23 year old only started rhyming in 2010, but he’s one of the chosen few blessed with a natural talent that many of his peers lack. Farrar spoke to me from a sweaty hotel lobby in Atlanta while on a small two week tour. He was high as hell and we talked for nearly an hour about everything from his mother’s previous crack addiction to J Cole’s mediocre album. Farrar answered with brutal honesty and became more outspoken with time. The conversation wasn’t all serious though. We laughed about Deniro’s plans to sleep with Kreyashawn, he rapped a verse about Kendrick Lamar, and after the interview said he only uses Skype to watch Turkish women undress.

Deniro Farrar - Play No Games


By Jimmy Ness

Smashed buildings, muddy water and sledgehammers. “Play No Games” is rugged imagery on a gritty and grey specrum. Deniro Farrar locks eyes with the viewer and rhymes about poverty. It’s an overused subject, but he speaks without a trace of pretentious bravado or corny consciousness.

No witty punchlines, no preachiness, no swag. Just compelling rhymes. Farrar wears a weathered sports cap and dirty boots as he raps about alcohol addiction and death. “Sick and tired of funerals and going to these wakes. Killing off each other, while they laugh in our face.” His raps are straightforward and his intentions are clear: he simply wants to tell his story.

Halifax producer Ryan Hemsworth’s thumping minimal beat is something you’d expect The Weekend to wail hipster drug tales over. Yet it somehow works for Farrar’s precise delivery. A haunting How To Dress Well sample repeats itself and the song reeks of hopelessness. As “Play No Games” ends, Deniro throws his hands in the air and walks away, having experienced the track’s despair personally in Charlotte’s housing projects. It’s struggle rap at its finest.

DJ Carnage Interview


Originally published at Passionweiss
DJ Carnage is a young producer who doesn’t care about old school rap values. He’ll make authentic gutter music for grill wearers and annoy them next week with poppy dubstep. Sneaking on the internet radar after producing Kreyashawn’s collaboration with Theophilus London “Shrimp Pt.2”, his uniquely rhythmic bass obviously stood out and he’s continued to carve a creative sound, whether working with the A$AP crew or remixing Beyonce.The DC native is also a charismatic rapper who smiles in all of his music videos and swears too much during interviews. We talked on a fuzzy phone line about working with the A$AP Rocky, smelling manure in Maryland and his varied production style.

By Jimmy Ness

What have you been doing at Coachella?
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Man, I’ve been out here on the Borgore tour. You know, I’ve been on the bus with Document One and Borgore and we have been doing shows and shows and shows. One of the stops on Borgore’s tour is Coachella. We’ve been watching other shows too, it’s pretty cool. I watched Rehab yesterday. I also watched Feed me, Madeon, Afrojack and we watched Swedish House, oh and The Black Keys.
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I read on Twitter, you said Kendrick Lamar sounded a bit like DMX?
Kendrick ….uh yeah when he was rapping he was very grungy, I don’t know. I can’t do real hiphop music, like I can’t listen to it. It has to be fast or obnoxiously stupid or something. I don’t know, I just can’t sit there and listen to someone try to be lyrical. You know, I just can’t do it.

Tell us a little about yourself?

I’m from Maryland, DC. Umm I’m 21 and ah you know, fuckin’ living in LA now because there’s more shit to do than in Maryland. I was out in the country. There were too many fuckin’ cows, waking up every day with the smell of manure and shit. So that’s just how it is, I’m living in LA now. Fucking young ass just turned 21 in January.
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How did you start making music?
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My mom and my step-dad bought me a Studio Bible and it was when I was living in the country. I had nothing to do so I just fucked around on my computer and tried to do something with my life. I just started making beats and long after that I got good, and I moved to LA. Your production style is very diverse.
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How would you describe your sound?
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Honestly, I don’t know. My influences are weird. One day I want to make some trap ass gutter shit and listen to Gucci. Then the next day I want to make some Progressive House like Swedish House Mafia, or some random day I just want to make some motherfucking grungy ass dubstep or
something. My managers hate it too because I have to make some hiphop shit and I’m just not in the mood , I just wanna make some dance shit. Or one day I have to make some dance shit and I just want to make some weird-ass bass shit. I don’t know. It’s whatever the fuck I feel like, I need to change my work ethic but that’s how it is.

What is Trap-Step?
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Trap-step is a mixture of trap music, you know the snares and 808s. You know the entrance of a trap song then right before the verse is about to come on you drop some nasty sick ass tune. It’s like the best of both worlds. You get to hear some grungy ass shit that makes you want to grit your face and as soon as the drop comes on, you want to slap the shit out of the person next to you.
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A few years ago you flew to Hawaii and watched Kanye make a beat for My Dark Twisted Fantasy?
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Yeah it was my boy Lino who told me to go out there. I went out with him and he was like ‘yo lets chill with them.’ We went out there kicking it in Hawaii. Lino, this guy I’ve been working with for hella long, he’s a great rapper. We went there and watched them make beats for like an hour. It was weird, quick and fast but they made a lot. [Kanye] He was really nice. He was really passionate about everything.
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How do you and Kreyashawn know each other?
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I’ve known her because she used to fuck with the crew. Everybody from the Bay I used to fuck with. So we were just friends and shit cause we would Tweet, and Skype each other and talk on UStream. She fucked with Lil B and I fucked with Lil B. One day we were like yo let’s make a freestyle and shit, and from there we did “Shrimp”.
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What do you think about the hate she receives?

She’s a really cool and talented girl. I think people say the hype is leaving because she hasn’t dropped new music. But I’m quite excited to hear her album though.
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You also linked up with Theophilus London through Twitter and made the beat for “Big Spender” with A$AP Rocky?
Yeah we did, because of Kreyashawn.

I sent Theo the “Big Spender” beat around August or something, a long time ago. He went crazy over it. We finished it in Australia and I was like “when are we going to release it?” Then around January, this year, A$AP Rocky jumped on it. They didn’t finish it though so that’s why it took so long. Then we had to wait a couple of months to get the sample cleared, so that’s how it happened.

I met A$AP at South by Southwest but I think I’m going to meet A$AP today again at his show, him
and A$AP Ant.
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One of my favorite tracks you’ve produced is “Tell ya” with A$AP Ant and Bodega Bams. How did that come about?
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It’s really grimy. I usually don’t make music like that and it was one of those things where I randomly felt like making music like that. It was weird. I just felt like making some grimy ass shit. My boy Bodega I’ve known him for years and years, he’s my big brother, and he’s an incredible rapper. Whenever I make some grungy hiphop shit I always sent it to him cause you know, he does that New York type shit. He did it and then gave it to A$AP Ant. I didn’t know that then. He hopped on it and I heard it and it was sick as shit. Then they shot the video, everyone from A$AP heard it and they fucking pushed that shit. So that’s how Told Ya came about. I love the tune.
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Are you doing anything with the A$AP crew in the near future?

Yams hit me up and said that they wanted some tracks for the A$AP Mobb album so we talked about it and shit. You’re going to hear some new Carnage and A$AP soon. Some massive tunes.
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You also rap, is that something you do just for fun?

When I rap, yeah it’s for the fun. It’s really like I have nothing to do that day and I’m not inspired to make any beats. So I rap on some shit and people like it, so why not make more you know. A lot of people tell me they like the videos and all that because it’s really fun, like a really fun energy. And that’s how I want it to be, I want it to be like, it’s like whatever you know. But not in the whatever sense that people don’t take me seriously. I’ll tell you a secret. It’s kind of cool that I don’t take my rapping seriously because at the end of it, I know that my beats and my production is something serious. I like to fuck with people’s heads. So they hear my rapping and THEN hear my beats….. and they are like “fuck is he actually a genius?”
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What do you want to achieve from your career?
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I want to be known as a legend. I want people to see me and be like “this guy is like remarkable.” I want to be on the Daft Punk, Timberland or Dr Dre level. I want to be known, you know. That’s my goal in life, to be one of those people that when I walk in front of other people there is a whole mob everywhere, like wow! Like they are in awe. That’s what drives me. Every single time I go to a show I’m pissed off because I haven’t reached that level yet, so it makes me work harder.



A$AP Ant and Bodega Bamz - Told Ya (Produced By DJ Carnage)


By Jimmy Ness

Bring the menacing shit. Razor blades in larynx, Bodega Bamz snarls all over “Told Ya” and treats apocalyptic Baltimore like a crack Disneyland. What Bamz lacks in technical street slang, he makes up for with threatening conviction. His diamonds are black and blue cause he bruised them. Straight out of Spanish Harlem, Bamz proves New York rappers adding winter grime to Southern beats hasn’t lost its charm.

A$AP Ant goes next and dismisses your assumption Rocky and Ferg were the only ones in the crew worth watching. Employing a double-time flow, he decimates DJ Carnage’s post-regional bass thump and as a screwed sample of Three-Six Mafia’s “Playa Haters” lurks in the background. The legend of Juicy J grows bigger.

Look out for Carnage too. His growing catalogue of excellent beats includes electronic, hip-hop and everything between. He also raps with an engaging sense of humor and doesn’t take this music shit seriously. Catch him making indie girls feel awkward in the “Loaded” video with Theophilus London. If you weren’t surfing the trill-wave, you might opt to buy a board. And for the record, Ant and SchoolBoy Q need to collaborate on a bucket hat appreciation track immediately.

Tree - Sunday School review


By Jimmy Ness

Despite blessing himself with one of the most un-googleable names imaginable, the sample-warping Chicago producer/rapper Tree is intriguing. He sounds like an injured donkey but also boasts a deep singing voice. His bizarre drawl is singular but bears a resemblance to Danny Brown, Z-Ro, and Pastor Troy. He flips soul records like a traditionalist, but he sounds little like a traditionalist. He’s not the most eloquent rapper, but he’s relatable, charismatic and a great producer. His new mixtape is a lot better than the alternate Sunday school where you inevitably fell asleep or were invited to nerdy prayer parties.

The album initially takes a while to process because it’s hard to take Tree’s break-neck voice in large doses. But “Die” is an immediate stand out. The chorus “Lord, don‘t let me die, man’ hits anyone who has clung to religious notions when life is going downhill. This struggle with religion defines much of the album’, particularly on “All” and “Chuch” where Tree questions whether he is a good person despite being a piff-puffin’, lady lovin’ sinner. Later in the mixtape, his lyrics invoke personal moments including loneliness, fighting with his brother, and being poor. It’s compelling, but unfortunately, there’s not a lot of it. Luckily, his charm carries the rote gangsterisms that it often falls back on.


Tree isn’t a perfect rapper. His vocab is simple and some of his rhymes are little more than struggle rap without the narrative. He also follows in the hefty footsteps of Rick Ross circa “Hustlin,” by rhyming the same word with itself about five times. But like ODB before him, there’s something unique about Tree that makes the clumsiness enjoyable. ‘Talkin’ Naples, Naples, Italy and Caicos, my homies riding horses,’ is my favorite line from the album and a ridiculous attempt at bravado. Every time I hear it, I can’t help but imagine a 90′s Snoop Dogg riding a galloping white stallion while eating a croissant.

Tree doesn’t have to rap fast or super-technical to be interesting. He’s simply a fun listen and judging by his thoughtful demeanor during interviews his unique sound was definitely a planned decision. “Couple of niggaz don’t like my shit, but a couple of these niggaz don’t write my shit,” his raspy voice proclaims on “Doo Doo” before launching into more simple memorable rhymes. The line works as a mission statement: you might not like Tree’s style, but it’s original and difficult to emulate.

Sunday School is self-produced and Tree’s beat-making game is sharp. He chops vocals in a different way than most soul samplers: often just looping one or two hypnotic words which relate to the song’s theme. Instead of drowning us with overplayed Amy Winehouse or Aretha Franklin samples, he uses just a smidgen of their voice to much greater effect than every boring snap-backer jumping on an Adele chorus. Tree also knows how to compliment his voice with odd tempos and sudden beat changes which make you listen more closely. GLC’s feature on “Texas Tea” is a memorable example simply because of how the music changes with his performance.

Tree might be struggling to explain away his sins, but I’m pleased he found stolen equipment to practice his divinity skills on. If you need further convincing on MC perennial woody plant, listen for the nice production and appreciate the rest later. Don’t be fooled by first impressions, King Louie and Chief Keef aren’t the only Chicago rappers worth checking for.

Tickle fights: Drake Versus Common

The supposed “beef” between Common and Drake is hip-hop’s funniest rivalry since Ray J told Fabolous he would hire a bigger man to “stick him in the booty.”

Weeks before the release of his new album The Dreamer/The Believer, cardigan wearing Common humorously claimed he was hip-hop on his latest single Sweet.

The 39 year old vet, known for his modelling work with The Gap, used non-ironic lines including: “You never wanna go against me, you know that man. You too soft for that.”



Despite hurting Drake's feelings and starting the rivalry as marketing for his new album, the 2011 Common is definitely not the same person who infamously shocked Ice Cube with his 1996 diss “The Bitch In Yoo.”

No, this is a different era. This is the Queen Latifah squeezing, knitted scarf and corduroys Common.



Former teen actor Drake, real name Aubrey Graham, has also become synonymous with being soft. Thanks to his emotional rapping style and this photo, and this one, this one, and this one…. oh and this one.

However, the problem isn't if they make terrible songs or even that they are soft. Because who really cares?

It’s the absolute lack of believability that one could actually harm the other. Any anger between the two will result in nothing more than a prolonged tickle fight.

Drake carried on the ridiculousness by releasing his indirect response to Common this week on the new Rick Ross mixtape Rich Forever.

Make you sure you look at his tough guy expression and have a laugh. Is anyone out there taking these guys seriously? Give me a break.


Update: Lovable Lonnie responded and it's as sad as expected. It actually sounds like Common just wanted to be featured on the track with Drake so he made his own remix. 

Who knows if we will see pillow vs marshmallow round 2 or if these two will hug it out already.