Tuesday, December 6, 2011

This place still exists? So be it.

Okay so I finished school a few weeks ago and lately have found myself completely lost with what to do with my time. Then amongst my daily routine of wasting hours on the computer I rediscovered this blog, my blog, that I haven't used in a solid year or so. Seeing as it should be a good way to kill some time I'm going to try and start blogging again, hopefully someone somewhere will read it.

Okay so, the first thing on my mind is the new The Roots album 'Undun'. For those who don't know The Roots, it is a rap group made up of about 8 members, but only two that are worth mentioning. There is Black Thought, who is the main rapper, and ?uestlove, which is for some reason pronounced Questlove, who plays the drums. The Roots have been making music since the 90s and still maintain an extremely high quality of music enjoyed by rap fanatics and haters alike. I thoroughly enjoyed their 2010 album 'How I Got Over' and was excited when I heard of their new album. 'Undun' is a concept album, it follows the life of a semi-fictional character who goes by the name of Redford Stephens. In his story he is forced to decide between making something of himself or living a fast and dangerous life. All of this is in an urban or hood environment.

Track #1: Dun
The album begins with a track simply titled Dun. The song is only a little over a minute long and has no lyrics. It begins with a high pitch noise, which is followed by some ambient sounds and a soft building keyboard line.

Track #2: Sleep
This is the first real song of the album, and although it is only 2 minutes long, it is still a great way to begin the album. The song begins with the well sung chorus that captures the eerie individual mood that only The Roots can create. Black Thought only raps one verse, but he doesn't disappoint and gives some good lyricism mixed with some good flow. The lyrics of the chorus give the perfect impression of this song, with the lyrics being "I've lost a lot of sleep to dreams"

Track #3: Make My
Make My was the first leak off this album, and was the first reason why I was so excited for this album. It's a lot less eerie than the first two tracks and it really has a more feel-good mood to it. This song also features Big K.R.I.T and Dice Raw. I had never heard of Dice Raw before this song, and I can only assume that he sings the chorus as there are only two verses, one done by Big K.R.I.T and the other done by Black Thought. Big K.R.I.T does an exceedingly impressive task of maintaining with the high standard set by Black Thought, and Black Thought per usual delivers an excellent verse.

Track #4: One Time
This would definitely have to be one of my favourite songs off the album. It has a simple but efficient piano riff that is accompanied by a basic drum. The chorus is distorted and makes it a relaxing song and makes the song less serious and more happy. Black Thought again dominates his two verses, with the topic of the song being about how he is never lucky, and if he was lucky it was only one time. This song features Dice Raw again, who I really enjoy on the chorus, and also features a rapper named Phonte, who isn't bad, but compared to Black Thoughts two great verses just doesn't cut it for me.

Track #5: Kool On
This would be the first song on the album that doesn't have the relaxed mood adapted by its predecessors, and perhaps that is the reason why I find it one of the weaker tracks on the album. I do enjoy the song, but I just enjoy some of the other songs far more, even so to the extent that I am willing to skip this track from time to time to reach the other tracks quicker. It features another few rappers who don't stand out as good or bad and just carry the song along smoothly enough. Black Thought does well again, but he has an extremely short verse. Overall is still a fairly nice song.

Track #6: The OtherSide
Another amazing track. It has a really cool piano riff and some suitable drums that seem to work perfectly with the song. Black Thought really comes hard on this track with a lot of emotion in his voice when he raps about the darker sides of the hood. Regardless of the black content of the lyrics this song somehow has a really uplifting and inspirational feel to it, especially so with an organ accompanying the powerful chorus. The lyrics of the chorus also explain the mood of the song extremely well "We're all on a journey, down the hall of memories, don't worry bout what you ain't got, leave with a little bit of dignity"

Track #7: Stomp
I really enjoy this song as it is produced by Just Blaze and has more of a hard feel to it. It has another nice piano riff, but unlike all the other songs on this album it has a guitar riff, and a very hard drum riff. On this song it seems as if Black Thought couldn't fully get into the groove and because of this his verse sounds slightly awkward. He only does one verse and the second verse is done by a decent rapper named Greg Porn, who matches the beat better but doesn't have the same powerful lyrical content and Black Thought. This is another short song, clocking the total time at just under 2 and a half minutes.

Track #8: Lighthouse
Lighthouse has Greg Porn on the chorus again, which I believe works extremely well. The song is about living the dangerous life, using the ocean and a lighthouse in the metaphor. The ocean is meant to be life, in which you can dive in the deep end and live a dangerous life or lead an ordinary safer life. The chorus goes on to say that there's no one in the lighthouse, and that no one cares if you drown face down in the ocean. This is saying that in life it may feel like there's people looking out for you, but really you need to look out for yourself and no one cares if you live or die. I thoroughly enjoy this song as it doesn't really have a sad or happy mood to it and doesn't go too long but still doesn't feel you left underwhelmed.

Track #9: I Remember
For me this song has a sad mood to it. It begins with some relaxing music, and continues to be relaxing when the piano stops and the slow drums kick in. The song is about remembering times, good and bad, from the past, and how the past has such a strong effect on the present. The song more focuses on the bad times, and how we remember those the strongest. But still there are little things that never leave us, in this song he raps about how vividly he remembers the track that his train took and the music he used to listen to while riding it. The only problem with this song is that it feels a bit short even though it's a good 3 minutes long. Also a very strong track and one of my favourites off the album.

Track #10: Tip the Scale
This was another leak from the album, and I enjoyed this more than Make My as it has more of a eerie feeling to it. This song is about suicide and saying that he is contemplating suicide on the flip of a coin. The song also says how some people live well, some people live in hell, but at the end of the day we're all just trying to get by on a personal level. The chorus says this with the lyrics "I live life tryin' ta' tip the scales, my way". It has a sad sort of feel to it as it has fairly dark lyrics. The chorus is fairly repetitive and catchy and although it is long for a chorus and plays several times it doesn't feel overused. Another great song and the last song with lyrics on the album.

Track #11: Redford
The rest of the tracks from here to the end of the album are instrumental tracks. This song is only piano, it's fairly simple but soothing and calm. It goes for almost 2 minutes and feels like it goes for the perfect amount of time.

Track #12: Possibility
Possibility is another piano track, more upbeat with a more uplifting feel to it. It also incorporates some soothing violin to make the song both relaxing and uplifting. This song matches the mood of the album perfectly and is an enjoyable way to follow on from the previous song. It is a bit short and I feel as if it could've been extended longer as it is under a minute long. But still a nice addition to the album.

Track #13: Will to Power
This song is extremely intense and insane full of mad drumming and fast piano. It goes for just over a minute and is just an explosion of music. It's a nice change from the mellow pace of the previous songs, but also seems fairly out of place on a rap album.

Track #14: Finality
Finality is the final track of the album. Majority of the song consists of light powerful violin, but the final note is that of a dark heavy piano chord. The song is about a minute and a half long and is a fine way to end the album. I still think that the album would've benefited from another couple of songs, but even at the tender 40 minutes that the album is it is extremely enjoyable and easily lives up to my high expectations of The Roots.

Overall this album is both excellent to relax to and excellent to listen to with great intensity, as it combines a strong story laced with metaphors and symbolism over relaxing beats with calm soothing choruses. I'd give this album a 8.5/10. It would've scored higher if it had a few more songs with lyrics and were a bit longer, also sometimes i felt like Black Thought didn't do enough verses on a couple of songs, but all in all, a great quality album that I would recommend to anyone and everyone.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

360 Vs Greeley - Australian Rap Battle

That is a link to a very fun and talent filled Rap Battle between two up and coming Australian Rappers.

I personally love 360, after I got 'What you see is what you get', I was hooked. He is funny, clever, witty and at times extremely personal.

Before this battle I had never even heard of Greeley, so just a heads up, I am most definitely biased to like 360 more.

Round 1:
360 was funnier, his punch lines were so much better, and he hit so much harder.
Greeley talked about Pez too much, he had some funny lines, but most of the time he was just going too fast and wasn't controlling his flow well.

Round 2:
360 had heaps of jokes about Greeley's cheeks, I didn't think that was such a good idea, but 360 had some amazing lines and I think he pulled it off, still not his best idea.
Greeley again with the Pez jokes, and all this weird stuff about a bent dick. Kind of funny in a weird way, but he didn't really have any surprisingly good lines or anything. The Pez jokes are getting kind of old, how many times can you say that they are homosexual?

Round 3:
360 had a mad strong start, I liked all the stalker stuff, and the references to Facebook. You can tell after his verse Greeley had to regain himself because of how hard he was hitting and the cleverness of his verse, and how his verse is just re-enforcing all the stalker stuff and about calling him by his name Matt.
Greeley was doing more stuff about 360 living with his Mother, a good topic, should effect 360 pretty well. A clever idea, I'm just glad he stopped talking about Pez.

Greeley won in the end, I do understand that it was, overall, a close battle. But personally I think 360 should have won this battle. 360's flow was so much better, he was much easier to understand and his lines were far funnier and more clever. Greeley did have the lyrics on 360 though, lyrics wise he deserved to win. But really a Rap Battle is to win over the crowd, and 360 definitely had far more laughs and I think a lot of the crowd would have expected him to win, although it was a close battle.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Favorite Quotes

I was thinking of something to blog about, and not much new has happened in the Rap world. I'm waiting for Talib Kweli's album Gutter Rainbow, which will be released on the 25th of January. There has been word of Eminem starring in a few movies, one is called Southpaw, about a left handed boxer I assume, the other is called Random Acts of Violence, some rubbish about a war between the FBI and the mafia. I enjoyed Eminem in The Wash, but then again in that he was playing a madman who is trying to kill the boss of a car washing company. Everyone knows Eminem's acting career from the obvious 8 Mile. I think he only did so well in that movie for two reasons: 1. Because he was, in my personal opinion, on top of the music industry at that time, after releasing The Marshall Mathers LP, which I will remind everyone is the fastest selling album by a solo male of all time, he could do anything he wanted and everyone would love him. 2. It was pretty much the story of his life, the common misconception is that it IS based on his early years as a rapper, but it's not. But the similarities are uncanny and it was obvious Eminem easily got into the character of himself before fame and fortune, which is why he delivered such a compelling and enjoyable display of acting. 

But anyways I actually made this blog to share a few of my favorite quotes. I find that usually some of the best quotes are in song lyrics, because it usually isn't supposed to be taken and examined, but that is specifically why it is more interesting. A typical quote someone will say in the simplest and boring form, for example, No Pain No Gain*, but most of my favorite quotes are the ones which raise questions or the ones which state something inspiring and, in a sense, outside of the box. For exampleImperfection is inherited, therefore we all sin, but fighting the war of sin is the greatest war of all because we all die in the end no matter how hard we fight**.
* - Citing everyone
** - Citing Tupac Shakur

The first quote is probably my favorite quote of all time. It's a Talib Kweli line from the song K.O.S (Knowledge of Self). Talib raps, At exactly which point do you start to realize, that life without knowledge is death in disguise. I completely agree with this line. I find it to be a fairly philosophical line, because it is somewhat saying that the meaning to life is knowledge. 

My next quote is one of a French Philosopher by the name of Henri Bergson. He said, Think like a man of action, and act like a man of thought. I find this quote clever and somewhat quirky because of its simplicity, but also how it is flawless. It's one of those things like Expecting the unexpected*, that we all know we should do it, but it's against our nature. Most people will usually act like a man of action and think like a man who thinks.
* - Citing Sun Tsu from The Art of War

This quote I find funny, clever and almost arrogant at the same time. It's an Eminem quote, he says, Unless you want to f--- me, why do you care what I look like? This quote is funny because it almost makes sense, it seems so logical and fair, but at the same time it's kind of arrogant and stupid. It's almost like saying "Either you love me or you hate me, and I don't care either way". Still a fun quote though!

That's just a few of my favorite quotes, hope you enjoyed them!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

First Post

It's currently 12:34 AM and I am listening to Kindness For Weakness by Dilated People featuring Talib Kweli. I would highly recommend this song for any Rap fanatics out there like myself, I originally got this song because I am obsessed with Talib Kweli, but I found myself thoroughly enjoying the Dilated People verses almost as much as the Kweli verse. With lines like "I might smile but I ain't no joke", you know they knew this song was going to be enjoyable. Mind you the Talib Kweli verse does not disappoint at all! With his verse beginning with "You never fit up in my shoes so don't try em' on, I always tear it up, I'm about as calm as a quiet storm" you know this is yet another lyrically insane Kweli verse. Another good line he raps is "Don't make the mistake of trying to play me, unless you're a DJ". A high quality song with a catchy chorus.

The next song that comes on when I play shuffle on my Recently Added list on Windows Media Player is Ya'll Stay Up by the Youngblood Brass Band featuring Talib Kweli. This song has a mellow instrumental with some typical rap style drums but with a really chilled brass band playing various long held notes over it, while Kweli raps. Talib before rapping doesn't really rap the chorus, more just says "Every second of, every minute of, every hour of, every day of my life I stay plugged and away from fake thugs, celebrate make love, ya'll stay up". This is a mad mellow track that you can just zone out to, but it still has that conscious rap coming from Talib so you can always get a good philosophical idea out of this song!

It's late so that's all from me now, I'll do a few other posts when ever I have an idea or feel like it, or if some new stuff comes out!