Thursday, July 29, 2010

Village Voice goes in on Rick Ross

Jadakiss once wondered why rappers lie in 85 percent of their rhymes, and here's the answer: because they don't have the audacity of Rick Ross, who lies in 95 percent of his. Last year, the Florida don, who'd built his entire persona on his status as a criminal kingpin, was outed as a former corrections officer. For most gangsta rappers, this would be career-crippling, but Ross shook everything off—jeers from the Internet peanut gallery, 50 Cent's bullying, his own limitations—and released Deeper Than Rap, easily one of 2009's best rap records. He began rapping more cleanly than ever before, forgoing his previously favored Hall-of-Bosses punch-in echo chamber that made it feel like five fat guys were yelling at you simultaneously. His writing, too, turned startlingly vivid, and the production was incredible—late-'90s grandiosity taken to even greater heights, like the Lord of the Rings trilogy score repurposed for Ricky's Vice City home. It was like watching the portly kid in gym class suddenly high-step his way flawlessly through a field of tires.

So now Ross is enjoying a weird, wonderful renaissance: Once the very face of undeserved commercial-rap entitlement, he's now almost an underdog. Not commercially—Deeper went to No. 1, just like 2006's Port of Miami and 2008's Trilla before it—but critically, especially among the inner circle of rap-nerd gatekeepers. Recently, Pete Rosenberg, the earnest, affable spokesperson for all-consuming late-'90s New York rap fixation, told a roomful of like-minded followers—during a public sit-down interview with Diddy at 92Y Tribeca—that, in terms of consistency and commitment to craft, Ross was the best rapper working right now. Diddy had to quickly step in to calm the quietly seething masses.

The ridiculously extravagant and extravagantly ridiculous new Teflon Don is certain to only rile folks up further; in its sound, scope, ambition, and arm's-length relationship to reality, it's essentially Deeper Than Rap 2: Even Deeperer. The production is only more towering; Ross evidently decided the beats on Deeper weren't over-the-top enough, so for "Maybach Music III," the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League furnish him with a full orchestra to rap over, and after verses from T.I. and Jadakiss (plus a hook from Erykah Badu), Ross enters to darkening strings and a key change heralding his arrival. "Cigar, please," he barks, over a hilarious and awe-inspiring cascade of strings, flutes, xylophone, and Weather Report jazz-funk guitars that recall nothing so much as the scene in James Bond's You Only Live Twice when the volcano opens up to reveal the villain's secret lair.

This is the Ricky Rozay aesthetic—lifestyle music for escaping the state police via speedboat—and Teflon Don is even more utterly devoted than its predecessor, which was perhaps saddled with a couple more "ladies' tracks" than was strictly necessary. Those are gone now. All that's left are 11 unadulterated dispatches from BossWorld, an imaginary kingdom that only grows more vivid the more Ross visits it. If the cold-water shock of hearing Ross rap nimbly has worn off somewhat, he more than compensates with the new lunatic conviction in his voice: "Quarter-milli for the motherfucker!" he spits on "Tears of Joy" (referring to the cost of his watch), and you can almost hear his gut convulsing. On "Free Mason," he raps feverishly about ancient symbols, codes, and pyramids over a tangled bed of bluesy organs and a howling John Legend in the background: "I understand the codes these hackers can't crack," he concludes. Indeed. Ross the Boss has grasped the key to success: He used to simply refute reality, but now he transcends it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dame Dash....

peep the article on Dame. Always one of my favorite guys in the music industry.n a recent muggy evening, veteran Houston rapper Bun B performed in the basement of a luxe Tribeca gallery. It was a dark, crude space, packed to the gills, as if a Bushwick loft party had burrowed up through Manhattan topsoil.

Empty Budweiser cans collected in corners, smoke clogged the air, and condensation gave the walls the slick glisten of a slug's belly. "This is the hottest place in the world," Bun marveled, a sheen of sweat reflecting off his bald head. His live backing band eased into the opening bars of "International Players Anthem," and the crowd voiced approval. Among that congregation was Damon Dash, grinning, giving out hugs, and chortling with laughter, back in the thick of things.

Dash's new gallery, DD172 (his initials and the Duane Street address), is a different world from the dank catacombs beneath. The hardwood timbers are spotless; the white walls of the ground-level exhibition area soar upward into the airy office space where he now works. Six years have passed since the splintering of Roc-a-Fella Records, the hip-hop label Dash and Jay-Z built into a sprawling entertainment empire. Jay long ago ascended to a rarefied plateau of celebrity where the absurd is normal: He fraternizes with Russian billionaires, taunts Noel Gallagher at Glastonbury, and makes sweet love to Beyoncé on a mattress stuffed with unicorn hair. Dame has not been so fortunate: One by one, his flotilla of business ventures—in music, fashion, sports promotion, publishing, and film—have sunk. Following a much-publicized fall-out with his former cohort, his reputation as a cagey entrepreneur was tarnished, his fortune stripped clean, his marriage to fashion designer Rachel Roy torn asunder. And he is happier than ever before.

Morning sunlight spills into Dash's office, the man himself splayed across a furry white couch beneath a large, feathered Ojibwa dreamcatcher. He wears a fuchsia T-shirt with diagonal yellow stripes, jeans, and tortoise-rimmed glasses that, when coupled with the flecks of gray in his beard, give him a "rad dad" look. He shares the space with a pair of women in their early 20s who have ascended, in the manner of a metastasizing start-up, from assistants to heads of divisions. The woman who presides over the music wing is also a singer; the one running the magazine America Nu, Dash explains, "loves taking photos and doing artistic things." He says he prefers working with women because they're harder to yell at.

In a few hours, the compound will pulse with creative energy: Such up-and-coming rappers as Curren$y and Stalley will record in the music studios, while a video production team called Creative Control works from editing bays. Enjoying the morning's relative calm, Dash wanders from his office into a wider area where a few people quietly tap away at laptops. "I'm not surrounded by posters of guns and Scarface here," he notes. There's no sign of Tony Montana, true, but the gallery walls are covered with stylized portraits of marked militants wielding Kalashnikovs. This is the evolution of Dame Dash.

Born and raised in Harlem, Dame seemed to have hustling in his bloodstream. His mother sold clothing out of their apartment. His cousin, Darien Dash, was the first African-American to take a dot-com public. Actress Stacey Dash is a cousin. Discipline problems kept Damon bouncing around private schools like Isaac Newton and South Kent on scholarship, but he eventually earned his GED, and began promoting parties and managing musicians in the early '90s. "He was an undeniable ball of energy," says Clark Kent, the Brooklyn DJ and producer who worked with Dame at Atlantic Records and first introduced him to Jay-Z in 1994. "I saw that he had a relentless approach to having his way. He approached everything with an independent spirit that makes people either get down or lay down."

Roc-a-Fella became a record label that same year, a partnership between Jay, Dash, and Kareem that quickly led to a pressing and distribution deal with Priority Records; after achieving critical acclaim and moderate commercial success with Jay-Z's 1996 full-length debut, Reasonable Doubt, the Roc-a-Fella trio retained their independence and signed a co-venture deal with Def Jam for a reported $1.5 million in expansion capital the following year. "It wasn't like it was built to be this record label," says Kent. "Everything they did was like homeboys. The premise was to make one album, but it was too good and too easy."

Money started pouring in when Jay-Z's third album, 1998's Vol. 2 . . . Hard Knock Life, sprinted to the top of the charts and sold five million copies domestically. The LP's club-friendly combination of dexterous lyrics and sparse, spacey beats made Jay a star, and his reflected glow was enough to help Memphis Bleek's Coming of Age (1999) and Beanie Sigel's The Truth (2000) become gold-certified debuts. Roc-a-Fella was further legitimized as more than just a one-man show with subsequent signings: At full strength, the roster also included Kanye West, Cam'ron, Juelz Santana, State Property, M.O.P., and, strangely, Samantha Ronson. Other labels were crossing the Mason-Dixon Line in search of fresh talent, but Roc remained an obelisk of street-oriented East Coast lyricism and soulful-yet-punchy production in the face of the rising Southern tide.


Kid Sister "Big N Bad" from Mr Goldbar on Vimeo.

Tabi Bonney "Nuthin but a HERO"

One of our fav's... DC's OWN Tabi Bonney has another one... Check it out!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


August will be the INDY music month on Mindless Souls! All Kinds of goodies on the way for u bitch's!

The NEW age of Punchlines

A few weeks ago, Drake made comments about a certain style of rhyming that he has become known for in his recent rise to superstardom. You know. The Simile’s Younger Cousin flow. The Not Quite a Full Punchline flow. The Let’s Pause Instead of Saying “Like” flow.

Drizzy said he felt that it was overused on the whole and, moreover, that certain rappers had no business using it, cause they weren’t doing it the right way. “A bunch of rappers started doing it and using the most terrible references in the world,” he said. No argument here; there’s definitely been some questionable uses.

But much like Drake, I feel like this specific kind of rhyming can, in some cases, foster some of the most creative rhymes, but in others encourage lazy and weak ones. Plus, they seem a bit easier to concoct than you’re typically well thought out punchline. A few months back, #fakedrake lines was a hashtag that was picking up some steam on Twitter. Jay Smooth over at ill/nildoctrine compiled some of what people were saying and talked a little about the use of the style, offering some criticisms. My personal favorite of the Twitter lines was, “I stay with a quarter in my system, payphone.”

I then made up a few with my friends, and I though they weren’t all that bad.

“I ride around all day with a Mac and cheese, Annie’s”
“I’m telling stories that are timeless, Brothers Grimm”
“Hit me and you won’t like what happens next, funny bone”
“None of these rappers can touch me, Shomer Negiah” (Look it up).

I think these lines are halfway decent, and I definitely don’t rap, nor do I attempt or pretend to. As a general rule, I like my rappers to be more skilled at their craft than I am. With this flow, sometimes they don’t need to be. That’s where I take issue with it. I like it often times. But others, it leaves me wanting more.

In that same quote, Drake said that the best way it had been used was in “Forever.” Not quite. “Forever” is a great song. After being beaten to death with it for a while there, I hadn’t heard it for a long time until I listened this morning. And that joint is sick. But it’s not the best use. However, Drake does mention the song that best used it in his quote, he just doesn’t say or realize that it was the best use.

The best use was, by Drizzy’s and most other’s accounts, also the first. On “Supa Dupa,” from his mixtape UKNOWBIGSEAN, Big Sean gives birth to and murders the style in a matter of three minutes. Instead of just dropping isolated lines, Sean does cartwheels and backflips, often connecting one line/semi-simile to the next, all while sprinkling in some double-entendres. To me, despite it’s use in numerous songs in the time since, the verses on “Supa Dupa” remain the best example of the style being all it can be. Army. A few excerpts:

“When they see me on my high horse, polo
See what I’m wearin’, I know those
Hoes’ll want the same thing, homo, Elton, Jojo”


“The story of my life is to get glory off the mics (Mikes), Quincy”

In this songs, the rhymes flow seamlessly from one line to the next, like it’s a perfectly dreamed stream of consciousness.

Now, in “Maybach Music 2,” Kanye used the style once, when he said, “So all the shit you talkin’ dead, coffin.” Maybe Kanye actually fathered it. Deeper Than Rap, the album that track appeared on, came out on April 21 of last year. UKNOWBIGSEAN came out five days earlier, on April 16. It’s likely the G.O.O.D. music mates heard one another doing it, played around with it, and talked about it together.

Whether or not he’s the father of it, which it seems he is, Big Sean certainly bodies the flow. But not everyone does.

What do you guys think of this rhyme style? Does it need to go? Is it a lyrical revolution? Or does the answer lie somewhere in the middle? Stuffing.—Adam Fleischer

Pusha T to GOOD MUSIC?

will there be another name added to the fold? The Clipse's Pusha T is putting out his first solo mixtape, The Fear of God, that day as well, raising speculation that he's doing it as part of the Louis Vuitton Don's roster.

"That's just a good day," Pusha told MTV News on Wednesday night in New York at an EA Sports event to promote the game "Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit."

"A great day for music, but it's a 'good' day," he said, slyly repeating the word. "I mean, you know. I been to Hawaii. Hawaii is a nice place. Good music is made down there, ya know. So, yeah, I was there. I can't say too much about that. I think everybody's gonna be in for a big surprise. A very big surprise."

Hawaii, of course, has been the primary location where Kanye has been making albums for the past several months with his roster of artists. When Pusha was asked straight up if he is signing with West, he answered with a grin, "Who's to say, man? But the Pusha T solo album is definitely coming out."

His LP won't be out until February at the earliest. Right now, the focus is on The Fear of God. The VA native is recording both projects simultaneously however.

"I just feel like, you know, everybody's waiting on it," Pusha said about going solo. "I think it's time to expand the Re-Up Gang brand. The only way to do that is expand the music. Make the music more diverse. They been seeing the Clipse for a little while. We got our own different perspectives. Myself and Malice. It's good. It's good for us to do this and show the world just how our minds work."

Asked to explain why the mixtape is called The Fear of God, he replied, "I feel like a lot of MCs are scared of it. A lot of MCs are scared of a solo project from an MC such as myself. I believe that. I was writing and I felt like, 'Woooo. I'm gonna invoke the fear of God in these people.' "

Push already put out two freestyles in the last few days, "Dearly Beloved" and "Bidding War."

"If you haven't heard it, it's called 'Bidding War,' " he explained of the latter, where he raps over the beat of Jay Electronica's "The Ghost of Christopher Wallace." "Just a day. A day in the studio. It's a lot going on in my mind right now. The music is flowing, the rhymes is flowing, and you're gonna keep hearing from me. I'm feeling like a rapper right now. ... I haven't felt like that in a long time in my career. I'm feeling like that. That's where I am. Let's go play."