Monday, October 30, 2006

Jakin' For Beats

[HIPPO's Note: It's good to back where the weather is a little warmer. Really enjoyed my Chicago trip and will post on it once Ezarchive gets up in running again (You all should really download the songs we have already posted since once Ezarchive is back up, you'll no longer have access to the old posts). Another change, we lost our good buddy MUTTPOP B.'s to work. I guess things are getting crazy for him and he'll have to stop with the posts for awhile. Hopefully he'll continue to drop by just to check it out, leave some comments and maybe post. We'll miss his "Emcee 101's". In the meantime, here's a youtube post, until we can hear the music again.]

Found some interesting clips on youtube related to production. Hope you enjoy!

{One of the masters breakin' it down for us. Pat Benatar never sounded so fresh.}

{Natasha Ramos "In The Midnight Hour"...don't know if it ever saw the light of day.}

{Just pick any record...MAD SKILLZ!}

{My favorite part of Fade To Black. Gotta love how they playfully challenge each other. You can see the mutual respect there. And best way to loose weight? See yourself on the big screen grooving with a banana peel in your hand. Ask Timbo.}

{This should settle the whole “bitin’ controversy”}


Monday, October 16, 2006

agent orange

Hip Hop is dead. It’s been said by many, and to an extent, I think it’s true. Nas himself made the call on his forthcoming album, and if you don’t think hip hop is at least on life support then you probably also think that the return of Nas, Hova, and Diddy will revive the genre. Whatever.

While I agree that hip hop is barely hanging on, there’s still a decent number of emcees out there that have stayed true to the genre and have kept it alive. Among them is Pharoahe Monch, former member of the venerated Organized Konfusion, and an emcee’s emcee. To me, Pharoahe stands out with lyrics that are consistently substantive and reach a level that few can touch. Lyrics about partying, bangin’, and women (which is about 90% of hip hop) are all cool, but really, it’s a little played out, done didded and old. Pharoahe’s lyrics, on the other hand, are reflective and socially conscious with a delivery and voice that is absolutely unmistakable. Best of all, Monch’s beats come hard and gritty, knocking you upside the head like the soundtrack to a revolution. Here's a taste of "Agent Orange":

[Hook 1]
Please lord forgive me for my sins
My life is all I have to give
Please lord forgive me for my sins
My life is all I have to give
Damn you that lost the will to live

[Verse 1]
Pissed on the motherfucking White House lawn
I threw a rock, then I ran
Cause I couldn't stand anymore within the grip of the man
Y'all wanna ask me who's sane
These biological gasses are eating my brain
Its a political grab bag to rape mother earth
Thirty seconds after they bagged dad for what he's worth
Thousands will die now so millions can smile later
This ain't the Rockford Files nigga
They stockpile data for satellites
Where you discuss who's style is greater
In this killing pool you playing it cool like Kyle Jada
When ya'll ready to rock like Led Zep and Al Qaeda
With weapons of mass destruction an hour later
What's your identity today?
You on some John F. Kennedy or Timothy McVeigh?
This Henessy done left me with a remedy to spray
For my identity your life is the penalty to pay

With an album slated for release this November, maybe hip hop’s future isn’t so bleak.

[MP3] Pharoahe Monch :: Agent Orange
(To me, this song is the epitome of Pharoahe Monch: thoughtful, militant, die-for-the-cause type lyrics over a bangin’ beat.)

[MP3] Pharoahe Monch :: Let’s Go
(Another anthem to a revolution, I love how he can pull songs like this off without coming off as preachy, kind of like an East Coast version of The Coup)

[MP3] Pharoahe Monch :: The Light
(Pharoahe takes a breather from the anthems on this one, showing his versatility with a hip hop love song. Not only that, but how many other emcees would say “She's off the hook, I would dress her decently.” What?! Decency in hip hop??!!?! Must’ve been a typo.)

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Friday, October 13, 2006

GETDOWNNN Love Dilla (& Diddy?)

[HIPPO’S NOTE: I’ll be off to Chi-Town for a little bit of business and a lot of R&R. So I won’t be putting up any posts for about a week. Any of y’all out there who know where the spots are for clubbin’, records, and eats please help me out.]

Good week for the Exclusive Heads, especially if you like dope hip-hop producers. First Hi-tek’s Hi-Teknology 2 (checkout my post, An Old Flame… if you haven’t yet). Today it’s the late, great J. Dilla’s Jay Love Japan & Diddy’s (he was a producer before he became the artist/fashion designer/Broadway actor/business mogul/Proactiv spokesperson ) Press Play.
First up is, as we should, Jay Love Japan. If you’ve ever been to the record stores in Japan, you understand why Jay Love Japan. I know its already out in Japan, but hey, there hasn’t even been a release date set for it here yet. It’s Jay’s parting shot, the last of the last. And it ain’t table scraps. Makes me sad, but I won’t dwell on it here (checkout Soulquarian: The Love Tribute). It’s unfortunate that it’s so short and sweet, but we do with what we have.

Fortunately (or also unfortunately), we do have Puffy’s, Sean Comb’s, P. Diddy’s, Puff Daddy’s, Diddy’s, whatever the hell you want to call him, new album Press Play (if you dare!) set to be released on 10/17. For me, it’s alright, nothing crazy, but alright. I’ve included the tracks below that I could stand and that don’t sound so obviously ghostwritten. If you're wondering why Diddy’s on GETDOWNNN - we need the traffic and really, some of it isn’t that bad. It could be worse, he could be giving us breast milk from a Cambodian immigrant (see above).

[MP3] J. Dilla feat. Ta’Raach & DJ Exile :: Say It!
[MP3] J. Dilla feat. J’Davey :: Red Light
[MP3] J. Dilla feat. Blu & Jontel :: Sun In My Face
[MP3] J-Rocc :: Thank You Jay Dee (A Tribute Mix)

[MP3] Diddy feat. Big Boi, Ciara & Scar :: Wanna Move
[MP3] Diddy feat. Keri :: After Love
[MP3] Diddy feat. Jamie Foxx :: Partners For Life

Dilla’s site

Diddy’s site

Double D.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

An Old Flame: Hi-Teknology 2 (The Chip)

[HIPPO's UPDATE: Thanks goes out to Alternakids for their post on Hi-tek's earlier work as Mood. I do remember "Karma" on TV back in the day, but didn't know it was Hi-Tek (gotta love the Nina Simone source too). Love the "Secrets Of Sand" & "Industry Lies" tracks! Thanks again for edumacatin' me.]

Wow, it’s been a minute. Close your eyes and think back a little (Ok, open them so you can read the rest of this first). There was a time when Rawkus Records was ready to take over the mainstream music scene and owned the underground hip-hop scene. Their artists included: Company Flow (El-P who later went on to start the next powerhouse underground record label, Def Jux), Black Star (we all know what great careers Mos Def and Talib Kweli would go on to have…still keeping my fingers crossed for the next Black Star album), hip-hop legends Pharoahe Monch and Kool G. Rap, and producers Hi-Tek and Evil Dee (of Beatminerz fame). And with financial backing from the Murdoch family (of News Corp. wealth), the sky was truly the limit. But like many things with such a great upside (Michael “Sugar” Ray Richardson or Demetrius “Hook” Mitchell come to mind if you’re bball fans), sometimes things don’t work out. Sure enough, Rawkus is no longer the powerhouse it once was. I mean I remember when there was time when I was getting “tired” of Rawkus cause they put out so much dope sh*t. Raw, fresh, soulful hip-hop that made me remember why I fell in love with this culture in the first place. This was at least 3-5 years ago. How I long for those days now.

This story of great initial potential followed by what many consider a sour turn could also be applied to Hi-Tek’s short career. He was one of the architect’s of the Rawkus sound and was lauded by many and rightfully so with production credits with a string of instant hip-hop classics like “2000 Seasons”, “1-9-9-9”, “Next Universe”, “The Blast”, “The Sun God” and my personal favorite “Fortified Live”. People were calling him the next DJ Premier, Large Professor, Pete Rock and you could see where his style was a killer combination of them all. Then the Rawkus ship sank. And it seemed as other artists were able to make a smooth transition to other labels or even starting their own in El-P’s case, Hi-Tek was somehow left to fend for himself. I mean I was even getting tired of the whole Rawkus thing. I began to notice Hi-Tek’s name for production credits on things like 50 Cent’s The Massacre or some songs with Eminem, D-12, and Snoop Dogg. Now some might call this “selling out”, but it seems like it paid off (in more than one way…hey we all got kids to feed and bills to pay), as Hi-Tek sort stepped out of his comfort zone and was able to learn some things that he applied on his soon to be released Hi-Teknology 2 (The Chip) hitting the shelves 10/17.

As this new album will show, Hi-Tek was able to find a better balance between his more established sounds from the past with something that maybe some of the younger kids will be more down for or the radio might play. He even goes Kanye on us by putting together some unusual MC combinations with appearances by Game, Jadakiss, and even the strange pairing of Q-tip with Kurupt (that strangely works out, see below). At the very least I wasn’t as bored with this album as its predecessor, Hi-Teknology. Something worth picking up, but for you Exclusive Heads, here are some of my favorites:

[MP3] Hi-Tek featuring Dion, Q-Tip and Kurupt :: Keep it Moving
{I never thought I'd see a track with Tip & Kurupt together.}

[MP3] Hi-Tek featuring The Wille Cottrell Band, Ghostface, & Pretty Ugly :: Josephine

[MP3] Hi-Tek featuring Dion, Bun B., Devin the Dude, and Pretty Ugly :: So Tired
{This song right here gives you both, that “old school” Rawkus feeling with some new twists (check that guitar at the end).}

HI-TEK link

I need 'The Blast' like Hi-Tek got, so I grab the mic and make your heads bop.
(Phonte of Little Brother on “Speed”)


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Get you barf bag ready...i'm in a reflective mood.

While I realize that once again, this post is a few weeks late, I want to put up some songs that to me, fit the end of summer. Depending on where you live, you may have one, two, three, or four seasons. Here in Los Angeles, I would say you only have two; summer and winter (even though it’s hard to call winter that when it’s 75 degrees out). I really consider fall the end of summer rather than it’s own distinct season since it’s usually still warm enough to wear your flip flops and shorts without getting cold.

For me, the close of summer recalls the end of a more lighthearted and blissful time of year. While I associate picnics, outdoor concerts, and days at the local mall with summer, fall is a time where I tend to stay inside, mellow out (even more than I already do), read books, and think more about my life (eep).

There’s a weird, sometimes surreal, feeling in LA during the winter, as if for 6 months, the city is not quite itself without its crowded beaches, the smell of backyard barbecues, and endless sunshine. As winter creeps up, the hum of the city dies down ever so slightly, the mornings become crisp and dewy, and there’s a sense of finality to things once again. Summer flings are over, seemingly endless school vacations come to a close, leaves turn a fiery red before they fall, and that carefree feeling slowly fades. Despite this, I always appreciate the approach of winter because I know that summer wouldn’t quite be summer without a fall and a winter, just like life can never be fully appreciated without the occasional reminder of our own mortality.

So before I puke at how sentimentalized I’ve made the close of a season, here’s a few songs that will be tiding me over until the next endless summer.

[MP3] Beck :: Dark Star
[MP3] Iron & Wine :: Naked as We Came
[MP3] Red House Painters :: Have You Forgotten
[MP3] Nina Simone :: Black is the Color of my True Love’s Hair (Jaffa Remix)
[MP3] Duke Ellington :: Unknown

(off the Piano Solos Album, anyone know the track name?)

ps. Oh No! Oh My!’s “The Backseat” could just be the perfect end of summer song, but I already put it up on a previous post. Poo.

Game On! (What Happened to the Music in Video Games?)

It’s Sunday and you know what that means…time for MISTA HIPPO to get up on his musical soapbox and preach. I just got back from babysitting my little cousin and it was fun to play video games for 6 hours straight. This boy plays video games so much that he should be one of those video game testers (he’s logged so many hours that if he was training to fly, he’d be a 9 year old pilot by now). Needless to say, he kicked my a$$ most of the time (if he’s reading this, it’s cause I let you punk!). Anyways, he’s got an Xbox 360 so we were getting our NBA 2K7 on and since I was down by 10 points or more most of the time, I began to notice the dope music. It was really shocking. I got a chance to do a little research later and realized that the whole “soundtrack” is produced by Dan the Automator (I should really be doing a post on him alone). And the MC’s they had flowin’ over his beats, was no joke either. An incredible lineup that includes Rhymefest, Heiroglyphics, Aceyalone, E-40, Ghostface, Lupe Fiasco, Dilated Peoples, Mos Def, Charli 2na, Zion I and a remix of A Tribe Called Quest’s “Lyrics To Go”. I think that team right there could give The Dream Team (without The Bag Boy) a run for their money. This is the Dream Team of video game soundtracks. I remember when I used to have to put my favorite CD or tape into my boombox and put my sports video games on mute to play. Another game that we played was Flow: Urban Dance Uprising which is like the hip-hop version of Dance Dance Revolution. It was actually quite a workout. Great tunes as well, made me forget what an idiot I must have looked like jumping up & down like Riverdance next to this little kid. So above is the music video for the Hiero track “Don’t Hate the Player” from 2K7 and below is a track from Flow.

[MP3] Mophono :: Sunpower
{On the screen I was supposed to be breakin’ to this. Great song, but whatever happened to the Jimmy Castor Bunch?}

Ghostface & A.G. of DITC :: 2K007
{Ghostface just killed it in '06. Can't wait for 'o7...hopefully, more Automator beats like this}

A Tribe Called Quest :: Lyrics To Go (Automator Remix)
{It takes cajones to take a classic and remake it. Usually a mistake of arrogance...not this time}

If you really want to know what type of gamer I am, all I’m gonna say is King of Fighters (on PS) and Jordan vs. Bird (on PC). Anytime, anywhere…BRING IT!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

REmixed Nutz Chapter 1: Soul Brother & Primo

So here’s the deal, Banner and I were debating the other day what we thought were the greatest remixes of all time. The debate lasted a few hours. We even covered some of our favorite covers of songs. Three hours later, we came to the conclusion that this would be a good topic for GETDOWNNN posts (and since I like putting up remixes anyways, it’ll help me out). So at least once a month be on the look out for the REmixed Nutz posts dedicated to our favorite remixes and covers (maybe even some dope mash-ups that really flip the script).

Now we may have had quite a few differences in opinion as we were talking, but as our lists got to the cream of the crop, the very top top, there was no doubting that a majority of our choices had something in commons…Pete Rock and DJ Premier. I mean how can we even talk kick these posts off right without first starting at the foundation. These mother fathers changed the remix game forever. So Chapter 1 is dedicated to them, rightfully so.

Now let’s start with the Soul Brother himself, Pete Rock. This man didn’t put his soulful, jazzy touch onto just any songs, he liked to redo classics and make them all his own. Gave it a refresher and made it fresher. Classic originals like House of Pain’s “Jump Around”, Public Enemy’s “Shut ‘Em Down”, or even touching up his own classic, Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s “T.R.O.Y.” (see my post “Senior Citizens” if you haven’t heard this yet). I mean everybody knows the original versions of these songs, they are considered pillars in hip-hop history. I guess Pete Rock likes a challenge. But for this post, I decided to go with a more rare and in my opinion, less appreciated remix of one of the most famous hip-hop anthems of all time (see below).

Now with DJ Premier on the other hand, he also put his unique, but rawer/hardcore street, sound onto a few in his heyday as well, even though he may have not taken on classics like the Soul Brother did, Primo made you forget that there was an original song that he flipped. Good enough I guess. Prime example, Fat Joe’s “The Sh*t Is Real”. Does anybody even remember how the original goes? Shoot, even Fat Joe used Primo’s version of the song for his video. The man may be fat, but he ain’t stupid. But for this post I wanted to show Primo flexing on a more sensitive side. Adding his urban sound to R&B tracks…sometimes its good to be rough (see below).

One thing these guys both have in common, they like to remix great producers work. Case in point: Muggs, the Beatnuts, the Bomb Squad, etc. If you haven’t heard some of the remixes I mentioned above, email me and I’ll send ‘em your way.

[MP3] Naughty by Nature :: Hip Hop Hooray (Pete Rock Remix)
{This remix needs to get its due. Long overdue.}

[MP3] Craig David featuring Mos Def :: 7 Days (Primo)
{Do you even remember hearing the original? Me neither. The mighty Mos adds his flavor as well.}

[MP3] Janet Jackson :: All for You (Top Heavy Remix)
{Ok so you probably have heard the original to this, but I just wanted to see which one you like better. If you don’t pick Primo’s version, then you probably need a Nut Bra (see video clip above).}

Protect your nuggets.

Monday, October 02, 2006

So Sick (& Bored)

Sittin’ here in my bed with a fever that feels like 220, sh*ts that flow better than an old Freestyle Fellowship album…you get the picture, I’m sick. That’s the last time I try to be healthy and order the chicken sandwich at Johnny’s Pastrami! So what else is there to do, besides throw up all over myself...look up weird stuff on youtube of course. As I was doing this, along with the dizziness and random thoughts, it occurred to me, what ever happened to poppin’? You know pop lockin’. When I was a kid, I used to love to see the show What’s Happening just to see Fred Berry (aka Rerun) movin’ and a groovin’ – RIP to one of the baddest members of the innovative L.A. Lockers. I haven’t seen any dope poppin’ (if you consider what Usher does the real deal, then please stop reading this) in a minute. So here’s some of the best that I found on youtube:

{One of the most innovative and creative pop lockers of his day, struttin’ his stuff on Sesame St.}

{I sure many of you have seen this, but Dave from Santa Ana is one bad ass mofo. Checkout Kollaboration every year in LA’s Koreatown.}

{Again, I’m sure many of you have seen this, but this ish still makes me laugh like 4 months since I first saw it. Now if I could only get my hands on a full version of Maarveran – like I said, I’m sick, so I got a lot of time on my hands.}

{Watching old Simpsons episodes when I’m sick is like drinking chicken noodle soup to me.}

Somebody put me out of my misery already, before I start posting Ne-Yo videos!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

"I'll tell y'all fools it's hella cool how ladies from Cali talk"

MF Doom is the emcee every backpacker has wet dreams about. I may be crossing the line here, but really, he has it all; a golden era pedigree, member of KMD, production skills, a beef with the industry, bootleg-looking videos, and a raw, unorthodox flow. I mean, how many emcees can get away with wearing a metal comic-book mask at all his public appearances and still command respect? And while I realize that the worth of an emcee comes down to mic skills, you really have to love his story. From losing his brother in a tragic car accident, being dissed by his own label, losing almost everything he had (literally), re-incarnating as the mysterious MF Doom, and rebuilding his rep from the ground up with a vengeance, you have to give Doom his due. In a time when I’ve nearly lost hope in hip hop, Metal Face is one of those few artists who remind me of the genre’s continued potential to mature, evolve, and keep heads nodding.

[MP3] MF Doom :: Doomsday
(This is what sparked me on Doom. Ok, the hook is a bit cheesy, but the warm, almost propulsive beat with Doom’s choppy flow is a head nodder through and through.)

[MP3] KMD :: Peachfuzz
(A classic from his KMD days as Zev Love X, this is one of my life’s theme songs.)

[MP3] MF Doom :: I Wonder (feat. Hassan Chop)
(Ok, I know this isn’t Doom, but it’s off his King Geedorah album. Part confessional, part meditation on life, it’s rare to come across hip hop songs with so much depth. To get the full effect, follow along with the lyrics. And those strings??? Ooh. Nutter butter.)

ps. Ok one last reason to love Doom: a food-themed album!?!? Yes yes y’all.

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