Thursday, March 31, 2011

Blue Scholars: Coffee and Snow? Absolutely.

Now, as a fan of anything coffee-related and someone who loves winter, I felt it was only natural for me to share these two tracks by the Blue Scholars. These guys, as I've mentioned in a previous post, are from Seattle, WA, and truly know what intelligent rhyming is all about. MC Geo is flawless on the mic and DJ Sabzi has some incredibly intricate beats and hooks for his partner in rhyme to flow over.

Dope hoodie, Geo!!!!
To my ear, these guys remind me of Common Market (which is an obvious connection as Sabzi produces for that group), Atmosphere, Boom Bap Project, Visionaries and even Gangstarr.

So, kick back, relax and let the Blue Scholars entertain you. In my mind, the Blue Scholars are some of the best young artists out there.

"Coffee and Snow"

"Coffee and Snow 2"

A Grab Bag of Talib Kweli Joints

Born in Brooklyn, NY, in 1974, Talib Kweli Greene has become known as a bit of a jack-of-all-trades within the hip-hop community. Perhaps best known for his team-effort album with Mos Def -- the two rap superstars combined in 1998 to make "Blackstar" -- Kweli has established himself as a serious music staple both a solo artist and a collaborator.
Kweli means "truth" in Swahili

In my mind, Kweli is by far the most innovative lyricist alive in the game today. I might even go as far as to say that his intricate, rhymes, metaphors and phraseology are near impossible to top. Then again, I'm a sucker for rap that's actually intelligent and doesn't effuse misogyny, drug abuse and spinning "22s."

Kweli is also know for his collaborations with Cincinnati-based DJ "Hi-Tek" --the duo joined forces to become Reflection Eternal and has cranked out two full studio albums over the years, as well as a smattering of singles. 

Reflection Eternal is best known, by far, for "The Blast"

Anyone who calls themselves a rap/hip-hop pundit knows just how talented Kweli truly is. (Few people know that Kweli was one of Kanye West's biggest influences while he was coming up through the music industry).

So, without further ado, check out some awesome tracks of this infamous "BKMC."

"History" feat. Mos Def

"Strangers" by Reflection Eternal

"Respiriation" by Blackstar

Blaqstarr - War Of Roses ft. Talib Kweli by BlaqstarrMusic

P.S. Whatever happened to the "Talib Kweli" movie? Seriously.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Charles Hamilton: A New York Young Gun

Though he was born in Cleveland, OH, Charles Hamilton grew up in Harlem, New York. Thanks to his mother, as well as a Fredrick Douglass Academy recording studio in West Harlem, Hamilton was exposed to music at an early age. He gravitated to the keyboard among other instruments. In 2009, XXL magazine named him as part of the "Freshman Class of '09", along with Wale, B.o.B. and Asher Roth.

Hamilton apparently has a thing for Brooklyn girls
Hamilton reminds me of a mix of artists: his hooks are similar to Chiddy Bang, flow is comparable to the likes of J. Cole but is definitely as nasally as hip-hop industry mainstay Talib Kweli. Additionally, his personal website (the hyperlink two lines above) includes downloads to more of his singles.

Here is a page of download links to lots of his tracks:

Also, some of my favorite tracks of his are embedded below. Get your Brooklyn on!

Also, follow him on twitter at @charleshamilton.

Australian Hip-Hop's Finest: "Bliss n Eso"

The Aussie hip-hop group Bliss n Eso, comprised of MC Bliss (Jonathan Notley), MC Eso (Max MacKinnon) and DJ Izm (Tarik Ejjamai), first started rapping together during high school and have been inseparable ever since. The trio, however, quickly moved on to bigger and better things as they've become a mainstay in the Aussie hip-hop and rap scene. In 2000 the three released their first official tracks in the form of an EP called The Arrival, under the name 'Bliss N Esoterikizm'. Since then, Bliss n Eso have exploded on an international level. 

From left to right: MC Eso, DJ Izm and MC Bliss

Bliss n Eso knows how to get down and have fun. But, some of their songs pack a political punch too. So, I decided to separate the their tracks below into both sections accordingly.

I hope you enjoy some prime hip-hop from down under!

"Down by the River"

"Blazin' & Coppin' it Sweet"

"Addicted (Running on Air)"


"The Sea is Rising"

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Artist Profile: The Knux

An alternative rock/rap duo from Lousiana, brothers Kentrell and Alvin Lindsey teamed up in 2003 to become "The Knux." It's hard to categorize them musicially, and it's clear the Lindsey brothers enjoy it that way. They're first album "Remind Me in Three Days..." is what The Knux (which stands for knuckle heads) are best known for.

The Knux have dug out a niche in the rap-rock realm
So, in hopes of spreading the good word about some of Louisiana's finest, I've come up with a list of some of their best/most-known tracks. Enjoy!

(This was featured on the show Entourage)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Who is the "Childish Gambino?"

While most people know him from either the NBC comedy "Community" or his stand-up routinue, multi-talented Donald Glover has some true skills on the mic. His flow is creative, insensitive and all-around extremely impressive. Under the stage name "Childish Gambino," Glover released a small EP titled "Freaks and Geeks" recently.

On off off the stage, Glover definitely gets his freak on 

You can download the entire EP here from the cutting-edge "PMA" blog (aka Pretty Much Amazing). These are the same people who provided a lot of the indie/electro rap community with Chiddy Bang.

Here's the most well known song, and perhaps the most catchy, on the EP:

Count me a fan!

Monday, March 14, 2011

It's A Sunshiny Day

After spending a few days in the unseasonably warm weather, I was inspired to honor the fantastically toasty weather. Here is my tribute: a compilation of some of my favorite rap tracks that involve the word "Sunshine."
Starting off with an Atmosphere classic, I decided to move to on of Lupe's finest sonatas and then some of Def's best work. Finally, I tossed in an under-the-radar hit from Anthony Hamilton, Scarface and Miri Ben-Ari and bookended the set list with another Atmosphere track off of "Lucy Ford: The Atmosphere EPs."

Miri Ben-Ari's "Sunshine to the Rain" is the true gem in this list

Hope you enjoy this sunny little congregation.

"Sunshine" by Atmosphere

"Sunshine" by Lupe Fiasco

"Sunshine" by Mos Def

"Sunshine to the Rain" by Miri Ben-Ari feat. Anthony Hamilton and Scarface

"Nothing But Sunshine" by Atmosphere

B.o.B. Off the Grid Tracks

Unless you've been living in a cave, you've heard a track or two Atlanta hip-hop staple B.o.B.  Born in Winston-Salem as Bobby Ray Simmons, he's become a music main-stay. Yet, I've frankly gotten sick of his prime-time tracks like "Don't Let Me Fall," "Magic," and "Nothin' on You." Don't even get me started on him and airplanes!

So many people assume B.o.B has sold out. Either way, he's still extremely talented.
Nonetheless, I'm still a fan of the ATL's new hip-hop prince. Here's so skilled and his flow is incredibly natural. If you've lost all hope in his lyricism, check out these lesser-known tracks of his. Enjoy!

"Beast Mode"

"No Where Land"

"Change Gon' Come" feat. Charles Hamilton & Asher Roth

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Vampire Weekend Hip-Hop Covers

Rambling through youtube recently I stumbled across a great remixed version of Vampire Weekend's, "The Kids Don't Stand A Chance" from their eponymous album. This got me thinking: There are some fantastic rap covers of Vampire Weekend tracks.

Here are some of my favorites:

1. "Cudderisback" by Kid Cudi -sample taken from "Ottoman"

2. "Kids" by B.o.B. -a take off on "The Kids Don't Stand a Chance"

3. "Dirt Off Your Punk" -mashup of Jay-Z and Vampire Weekend's hit "A-Punk"

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Atmosphere's "The Family Sign"

Active in the underground hip-hop community since 1993, Slug and Ant are at it again. They'll be releasing their new album "The Family Sign" on April 12th. The Minnesota-based duo also released a double EP "To All My Friends, Blood Makes the Blade Holy" last year in September. (Download link).

Slug sure does like his citrus

After dropping the first single off the album, "Just for Show," Atmosphere has me begging for more. April 12 cannot come soon enough.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Grouch: A "Living Legend"

As a founding father of the California-based "Living Legends," The Grouch (Corey Scoffern) has found success in his own right as an independent MC and producer. MURS, Eligh, Scarub, Bicasso, Aesop (of Aesop Rock), Luckyiam.PSC and Sunspot Jonz make up the Living Legends. And, while the Living Legends have gone fairly dormant recently (since their start in 1996), The Grouch has been as active as ever. He even has a new album coming out on Mar. 22 called "Heroes in the Healing of the Nation"

Zion I teams up on The Grouch's new album
Check out some of my favorite tracks of his!

(FYI, there are currently some free downloads available on his website).


"Simple Man"

"All In" ft. Pigeon John

Band of Horses' Hook: Hip-Hop Style

After sitting down and listening to three entirely separate songs, I realized they all had the same basic melody/hook. I understand artists sample each others beats on a frequent basis. What impressed me most was the variety with which the same beat could be applied to distinctly different songs.

Here's the breakdown:

1."Comin' Up" by The Grouch and Eligh ft. Mistah Fab
2. "The Prayer" by Kid Cudi 
3. "The Funeral" by Band of Horses

Anyway, enjoy this cross/genre sampling.

Now, how do those songs compare to this?

See the difference? (It's pretty obvious).