Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Joy

What a gem this song truly is. Where should I begin my acclaim? I guess it's only appropriate to start where the song begins: a glowing, slowed down Curtis Mayfield sample ("The Makings of You" - Also a beautiful tune) whose warmth permeates the song and makes up the essence of Pete Rock's production in this track. It's complemented by soulful background vocals, vibrant harmonies, courtesy of Charlie Wilson.

Now we get into the meat and potatoes of the song, where Kanye goes in. What makes Kanye's verses so interesting on this track is that he returns to his older flows (think Freshman Adjustment) and juxtaposes them with lyrics whose style and context is entirely current and at most only glances at the past. Kanye reflects upon his motivations, aspirations, and confusions. He projects his image and contemplates it simultaneously, displaying his ever increasing self-awareness and control. This guy is smart, and so are his verses.

After yet another nostalgia-filled hook, Jay-Z engages the listener with his crisp flow, clever rhymes and intricate storytelling. Paired with Pete Rock's classic production, Jay-Z puts in a Blueprint-worthy performance, abundant with tales of ghetto childhood in all of its mischief and adventure. Kid Cudi takes over with a soothing rhythmic conclusion, a rather brief denouement that ties the tune together nicely.

"The Joy" is a modern day hip-hop artifact, a reminder of its roots and a reassurance of their importance in contemporary hip-hop music. It's comfort food for the hip-hop head who cringes at the current trends. It's the "sugar" and "honeysuckle," the life and soul of hip-hop, revealing itself to assure the skeptic that hip-hop is indeed alive and well.

"The Joy"

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Apollo Kids

Check out Ghostface Killah's new album, Apollo Kids. It's nice to hear a return to the original Wu-Tang sound. Punchy lyrics and grimy sample use throughout.

Most Notable Track: "Ghetto"
Support the Artist: Apollo Kids - Ghostface Killah

Christmas (Whistler, British Columbia)

Merry Christmas everyone.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Death of a Pop Star

I downloaded Death of a Pop Star today and after my 3rd full listen-through, I must say 9th Wonder and David Banner have come from nowhere with a great closer to a fantastic year in hip-hop. An interesting (if unlikely) duo, 9th Wonder and David Banner synthesize their talents to create a unique and powerful album.

9th comes through with some production that jumps all over the modern hip-hop spectrum. At some points he sounds like 88-Keys (à la The Death of Adam) and at others, Pete Rock (check "Stutter"). It's a mélange of production styles that really highlights the versatility of 9th Wonder as a producer. Of course, he still returns to the crisp flavor you might know from his work with Little Brother (see "Be With You" and "Silly") and a lot of his tracks are heavily sample-based. It makes for a colorful and organic listening experience that keeps you captivated from track one.

As for David Banner, I must say I was pleasantly surprised at his performance. I originally listened to the album only to hear some fresh 9th Wonder tracks, and was pretty skeptical at first of David Banner. I mean the last song I heard by David Banner was "Get Like Me (Stuntin is a Habit)", with Chris Brown, and while the song was a fun radio hit for a little bit, it held little appeal for me. It hardly brought back memories of The Minstrel Show. Yet, this album flipped my perspective quite a bit. David Banner fills the album with creative flow, compelling lyrics as well as a tone that is confessional, cathartic even. It's no 808's & Heartbreak, but David Banner does indeed drive the listener's emotions from start to finish. The album's overall message emphasizes the deterioration of contemporary hip-hop as an art form, and David Banner drops it on us with virtuosity.

Death of a Pop Star leaves me wanting something more from the duo. Let's see how this album grows on me.

Most Notable Track: "Stutter"
Support the Artist: Death of a Pop Star - David Banner & 9th Wonder

Good Morning!