From ‘Cole: Week Four Opens Doors

So, this week I thought about taking you out of your comfort zone, but I’d rather do a little throwback to one of my favorite albums.

Everyone knows Pharrell (and for good reason) but very few know that Clipse (and The Neptunes) are much more than just a jump-off for Pharrell’s career. I have such a penchant for “Hell Hath No Fury,” but instead of making you listen to the album, I’ll focus on these two tracks:

This week’s query: Explain the significance of the titles.
That’s it! Should be easy enough for ya.

Also: I chose the second track because I imagine Mr. Me Too would be fun to watch when high.
^^

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From Sky: Week Four – Time to get Delusional

Before we delve into the darkness I want to give you another Lil B track that I remembered. It’s one of his rare features. I think you’ll enjoy it!

Now.

I am warning you. This week is going to be dark… and by dark I mean, fucking dark.

On November 1st, this artist dropped his first mixtape. There was no hype, no anticipation, because nobody knew it was coming out. Think Beyonce’s new album. With some solid features, including Earl Sweatshirt and Mac Miller, the self titled album was critically acclaimed and a favorite of many on r/hhh. This week I am doing two songs… but wait, they’re both under three minutes and follow each other on the tape. I fell like these two tracks are hand’s down this artist’s best. Remember, it’s dark as fuck. Next week will be happier–guaranteed!

My question to you is: what is your favorite fucked up line? As normal, feel free to do a little write up. I know the last few have been quite long, but this is in no way a standard so don’t feel pressured to write so much if you don’t feel like it.

Enjoy. I’ll be waiting on the other side.

From ‘Cole: A Response to Week Three’s Response

In regards to everything you wrote:
Yes!

I completely agree about your reading of the two characters, it’s so fascinating to see both sides of the drug game in the same song. It’s even more fascinating that it really does read like a personal narrative– we can only guess at Kendrick’s true-to-life history, as well as Pusha T’s. Seeing the way slanging has affected both parties is both soul-crushing and intensely real. But I disagree that Pusha’s verse is better than K. Dot’s, so get your gloves out.

Kendrick Lamar & Pusha T

The one thing you didn’t touch on that I wanted to was the idea that as rappers they are still dealing. They’re just dealing in a different kind of addiction– the love of the verse.
I think by making this sort of song, Kendrick’s reinforcing himself as King. It’s all very meta. He’s trying to say (at least, I think) he (like Coke) will destroy you so much, tear you apart in his verse, leave your life obliterated with nowhere to go, nowhere to turn,
but at the end of it
you’ll be asking for the next hit.
I think that’s the strength of Kendrick’s metaphor right there– is that he’s pulling a sort of crack = my raps equivalence without even having to explicitly say so.
I mean, that’s power right there. To be able to say my raps are as good as cocaine,
without even saying it.

I think King Kendrick wins this one.

From ‘Cole: Week Three Response

1. Based
Is when you dont care what people think
its a way of life
Doing what you want
how u want
wearing what u want

-Urban Dictionary, entry I.

“You know it’s real when you are who you think you are.”

-Drake, “Pound Cake”

So, I’ve yet to listen to 05 Fuck Em, but I think I can write this week’s entry without the knowledge of what he’s doing today because everything he’s written so far has spoken to what he’ll be doing his entire life.

Lil B is an interesting artist because I don’t think I can judge him by merit alone. His skills are admittedly alright. I don’t think his verses hold a candle to King Kendrick, and I don’t think he’d hold up live as well as, say, Em. But there’s definitely something here that makes me want to watch him in an interview, read his book, figure out his philosophy. Maybe it’s that he has organically introduced such a positive movement into what is a very negative medium– I mean, our last few weeks have been about rappers who came from the streets, who are into the murder/hoes/coke game, without any empathy or remorse, who put up a macho front because hip hop demands it from them.

But the Based God isn’t about that. He’s more interested in being his most genuine self (which, as you know, I’m always down with). The most positive, real self is the most fulfilled. It’s almost zen, in a way– don’t let anyone’s ideas or opinions change you, let them wash over you so that there’s no residue of the world, just the most real, positive you.

As such, Lil B fills a niche that is at the very opposite end of the spectrum as OFWGKTA, which I think is both fascinating and confusing considering you (and I, and many) can appreciate both sides. Well, I shouldn’t say opposite. They’re both really doing the same thing: being the most geniune, most real, most intense form of themselves. It just happens that Odd Future focuses on the gritty real, and Lil B focuses on the uplifting, sublime real.

But beyond that, I can’t help but speak of OFWGKTA when I think of Lil B, because they are so worthy of comparison. See, while Odd Future is trying to isolate the listener, push them into a veritable cell block of sound, taking them hostage to a mood, an emotion, a pit, Based God is trying to reach as many people as possible.

He does this by making his music as accessible as he can.
That’s his power, I think. He’s made SO many tracks
in SO many styles
with SO many samples, references, mythos, he can’t help but reach somebody with each of those tracks.

As uncomplex his diction is, as simplistic his rhymes, I find that it’s a very Hemingway* thing he’s doing–

“He thinks I don’t know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.”*

The Based God is trying to reach the Based audience, which to him, is everyone. And if you’re trying to reach everyone, you’re not going to use the ten-dollar rhymes, you’re not going to use the obscure references that nobody gets, you’re going to make them the straight line between two points– the easiest route to take. I think that’s why his version of simple is genius.

And that’s why I think it’s an apt comparison between OFWGKTA. Because while Odd Future has the most dissonant sound, the one that tries to resist you in listening, Lil B has this way of drawing you in for (dareIsayit) salvation. He’s trying to change you for the positive, but in the least committal way– after all, he’s done so many different things that he makes it seem like change is the norm. He’ll never stay the same–only true to himself in that moment.

(Man there’s a lot of Wordsworth/Emerson Literary Romanticism/Self-Reliance in this, but overall I think the movement is entirely original for Hip Hop).

From Sky: Week Three Response

I want to start off by saying that I am flattered that you have taken my influence to heart and have discovered some amazing tracks.

Separated by only four upvotes, Nosetalgia ranks as number two on r/hhh favorite tracks of the year with Pusha’s verse ranked two and K.dot’s ranked four on verse of the year, it’s easy to see that this is easily the best track of the year. That’s right, I’ll take Nosetalgia over 1 Train any day. I’ve listened to this track dozens of times and absolutely love every lyric. I actually agree with r/hhh and think that Pusha’s verse is better than K.dot’s. Fight me.

The two craft an amazing portrait of crack use in the hood, Pusha from the point of view of a crack dealer and Kendrick from the view of a kid surrounded by the devastation the drug can bring to family life. There’s a few things I want to talk about when it comes to this track, the first shall come in the form of a humorous story, the second will touch of my favorite lines and the third I’ll pull a ‘Cole and get deep and far out on this shit.

1.
We both know that I am a terrible speller. This is not my fault, it’s genetic–or at least that’s what my eighth grade teacher Mrs. Dirks told me. I went to search for some lyrics last night for this track and could not come up with ANY search results. I typed ‘nostalgia’ in and got nothing. The spelling looked weird when I first saw it posted. Then it hit me. I’m not as bad of a speller as I thought, instead Pusha and dot are making a pun with the spelling, nose, relating to of course the crack. I like this, yeah it’s subtle and probably a little easy, but I think it’s clever.

2.
You’re right about the “if he dies he dies” lines. Absolute chills. There are two more lines however, that I feel deliver just as much, if not more chill/cringe effect. The first is a Pusha line the follows ‘if he dies he dies’. “we don’t drink away the pain / When a nigga die we add a link to the chain / Inscribe a nigga name in your flesh”. “Inscribe a nigga name in your flesh”?!? Shit, son. That idea that the shit you’re selling can kill the motherfuckers who use it, and that you’ll be left with that person’s death on your conscience, is truly a painstaking, heart-wrenching line. The second is from King Kendrick: “Broke his nails misusing his pinky to treat his nose”. The way Kendrick delivers the line is almost haunting. I cringe every time I hear it. The imagery here is brilliantly frank. Like nails on a chalkboard.

3.
Now, let’s get deep for a second and reach a little. Even with the nose pun in the title, the tracks name is Nostalgia, “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.” I find it interesting that in this definition it actually says, ” typically for a period or place with happy personal associations”. Both stories that are told respectively in Nosetalgia are far from happy. You could look at it and say that both rappers have overcome these relative hardships and have become better people. I think this is well illustrated in the video when Push and dot embrace and clasp hands after Kendrick spit “every verse is a brick / your son dope nigga”. However I think there’s a deeper message about hip hop embedded in here.

Let’s look at the sample. “You better change what comes out your speaker / Dee-dee-dee dah-dee dah-dee dee-dee dah-dee day-ah” come from Boogie Down Productions’ track ‘The Bridge is Over’. Here: go back and have a listen:

Okay, now, Criminal Minded came out in 1987, the year I and Kendrick was born. “I was born in ’87 / my grandaddy a legend”. Having listened to ‘The Bridge is Over’ I find it to be, especially production-wise, very primitive when it comes to hip hop. The beat, starting from one simple loop and progressing into something KRS-One can rap over. There was something that really stood out to me in this track, or rather I should say, didn’t stand out me, and that was the lack of violence and drugs. Both violence and drugs have almost become a staple in hip hop today. Even Yung Lean, a 16 year old, white, Swedish, post-Lil B rapper, spits about violence and drugs.

(That’s a discussion for later). These subject matters don’t exist in ‘The Bridge is Over’. Rather KRS-One raps about his crew. Not a drug slingin’ crew, but a hip hop collective–BDP. The song is also a diss of the Juice Crew, but KRS-One never talks about going to shoot and kill the opposing crew. Instead KRS-One makes jabs at Marley Marl, saying he out of touch, and at his DJ, DJ Shan, making jabs at his Puma sneaks. There is no violence. There is no crack. Now, I’m not saying BDP didn’t rap about this stuff from time to time. Granted the album is called ‘Criminal Minded’, and ‘9mm Goes Bang’ in the same album is quite the opposite when it comes to touching on violence and drugs. In fact the opening line to that track is: “Me knew a crack dealer by the name of Pete / Had to buck him down with my 9 millimeter”.

To my point.

With Kanye and Nottz using this sample and Pusha and Kendrick making it such a violent and drug infested track makes one reexamine the usage of the word nostalgia. In his infamous ‘Control’ verse, Kendrick names off a gaggle of contemporary rappers who need to step their game up. By stepping their game up, or as Kendrick refers to it not hearing one more noun or verb from those niggas, Kendrick could be referring to the fact that it’s easy to rap about guns and violence, but telling stories and making metaphors out of this subject matter is for “the best MCs”. The nostalgia in this track refers to an age in hip hop where depth reigned, where you didn’t shoot another MC but rather battled him with words in the street or the studio.

Deeper we go.

Ironically, Scot Sterling (aka Scot La Rock), one of the founding members of Boogie Down Productions died in August 1987 at age 25 of a gunshot wound. ‘Criminal Minded’ dropped in March. Scot La Rock was really the first rapper to die via shooting. Leaving ‘The Bridge is Over’ as one of the last pieces from the era of the birth of hip hop to try and use words in a way that is mighty-er than the sword. The two men charged with Scot La Rock’s murder were both acquitted. As Chris Rock joked, put a mixtape in your victim’s pocket and the murder will never be solved.

Scott La Rock

The nostalgia in this track is the yearning for a time before drugs took over the streets and ruined hundreds of thousands of inner city lives. A time before “when [there was] tension in the air nines [came] with extensions”. A time before rappers were shot and killed. The two are reminiscing, of course about an unobtainable time. Never again will inner cities be the same. Never again will words trample guns in gang arguments. Never again will rappers ever feel safe. But they must inform. Rapper today use their words and their flow to illustrate the hardships of the inner city. Of course this doesn’t apply to all rappers, but it does apply to the majority. Kendrick ends his verse with the line, “Now the same shit that y’all was smoking is my profession.” Remember? “I don’t smoke crack / motherfucker I sell it!”. His last line is simply, “Let’s get it,” let’s tell our stories, let’s share our pain, and hopefully, someday, people will learn the pain caused by drugs and violence and stop. Stop and save their families. Stop and save their children. Stop and save themselves.

-S

From ‘Cole: Week Three – Week Trois

I just wanted to bask in the glory that is this track, this week

I know you’ve probably already heard it, and if you haven’t, you’re welcome.
There are so many artists that I know of because of your influence, and I have no shortage of gratitude. But this stands out as one of my faves.

Pusha T just about stands at K.Dot’s level in this, I feel. Just curious to see what you thought!
^^

From Sky: Week Three – An Introduction to the BasedGod

Well the time has come. You finally get to meet the BasedGod.

45+ mixtapes. Over 1,500 tracks as over July 2010. 155 MySpace profiles just to post all his tracks. Lil B is truly unique. He was XXL Freshman class the same year as Kendrick Lamar, though the two could not be more different. Game referred to him as ‘the wackest rapper alive’, Joey Bada$$ and him had beef. At the same time he has amassed 800,000+ twitter followers, even more fans, and created a movement. He is not a good lyricist. Hell, he’s barely a lyricist. But there is something about him.

While you can listen to one or two Kendrick tracks and understand his background in such depth, Lil B is the opposite. To fully understand the guy you need to listen to hundreds of his tracks. I know you’re not going to do that. Maybe you will. Maybe the BasedGod will touch you the way he’s touched so many. I tried so hard to search for a good introduction to Lil B, and finally found one. Although he started rapping in 2006 with Bay Area group The Pack, this track comes from his third mixtape of 2012: God’s Father.

Now, Lil B can be all over the map. Here are three other Lil B tracks for reference. The first one is the second track from God’s Father. The next is from my favorite Lil B album: Rain in England, the next is arguably his most popular track. Oh, one more, the last track proves that Lil B can rap. Shit, one more… his deepest track. okokokokok that’s all for now.

(check out the views on this one!) (VIDEO) RARE BASED! WOW!

I guess this first week is kind of a test of the waters. I am interested in your overall opinion on Lil B. Granted I realize this is a difficult task having only listened to six of his tracks. Most people, when they give an artist a listen for the first time, they listen to one or two tracks and decided whether or not they like them. You do that silly 15 seconds thing. Here you have six tracks. What I want to know is, do you feel it? Do you get the appeal?

For a little help, here is a great blog with an introduction to the BasedGod.

Complete Guide to Understand Lil B

TYBG!

From ‘Cole: A Response to Week Two’s Response

SO glad you liked it dude. One of the classics.
If you want to continue your Pac education, this was a close second:

You might remember a remake of Hail Mary a while back, it was AWESOME (Dre, Eminem, etc. if I remember), but still, nothing like the original.

And, if you’ve not heard much Common, this is a more blatant example of an uncertain metaphor:

(I think he ruins it by saying H.E.R.= Hip Hop, but it’s really debatable.)

From Sky: A Response to Week Two’s Response

So glad that you liked Bronsilino! Dude is awesome. His music and his persona are both something I really relate with. Why? Who knows. Maybe it’s that he’s a 300+ pound chef who loves weed and rap. But again, who knows. Here are some other tracks from him. The first one was many people’s video of the year (yes that’s a RiFF RAFF cameo), the following two are both songs I debated on choosing for this week, and the last one is just a personal favorite. I feel you’ll enjoy the production on all of them!

I really like your ideas on the production of Party Supplies. I feel he’s a truly great producer and always look forward to new stuff from him. Oh, and Nicole? You do not HAVE to talk specifically about the rapper. Talk about whatever it is you want to talk about. Really. I enjoy reading your ideas, be it on the production or the lyricism, what ever. It’s all good in the hood.

For me, Pepe Lopez, the second track on that list above is my favorite. Great sampling of Tequila on that one. You might have also noticed him on Chance’s ‘NaNa’, which was also dope.

I have two in mind for next week. Also, I have debated some darker tracks, so if I do decided to present those you’ll have a choice as to whether or not you’re in the mood. There are tracks and artists I want to introduce you to that I honestly don’t think you’ll like, so have no fear about straight up telling me so. I think we’re passed the bs. One thing I love about r/HHH is that it has introduced me to such a wide spectrum of hip hop. Some of it is great, other is shit, and others are beyond simple enjoyment (think the movie Requiem For A Dream, nobody enjoyed that film).

Anyhow, until next week.

The BasedGod loves you and hopes your family is well.

-S

From ‘Cole: Week Two Response

I KNOW I’m supposed to talk about Action Bronson. And believe me, there’s lots to say about the “white man excelling at a white sport” but…I just HAVE to make most of this week about Party Supplies.

Party Supplies

The sampling on this track is BRILLIANT. Ugh. The choices were best because a) the 80’s were just long enough ago that the samples can seem fresh and new to a host of listeners, although some kids may have a sense of John Mellencamp from Jessica Simpson when she used that sample from “Jack and Diane.”

(Not NEARLY as successfully, I might add.) And b) the frequency of the sample changes creates a sense of constant movement and change which is, of course, such a huge part of our zeitgeist.

Very few things stay the same. I think that’s what Party Supplies is trying to say in this track–things seem like they change all the time. But the use of 80’s samples makes a point of the opposite– the same things come back time after time. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The sample choices were interesting to me…I did some research to see if there was anything in common with them. “Jack & Diane” was Mellencamp’s most celebrated single, and was a hit in 1982, “Sussudio” and “Another Day in Paradise” were both Phil Collins, and were released in 1985 and 89, respectively. There’s seriously nothing that they have in common other than that they are all number one 80s singles.

I think that doesn’t take away from the song. I think that’s beautifully post-post-modern. Sometimes the only thing that things have in common is the time they are in– that, and that they are unrelated.
But I also think since they’re all number ones makes Action Bronson seem like even more of a badass because he has an amalgam of #1’s so he can become #1.

On to the rap.
The thing that stuck out to me most was when Action pauses and lets Phil Collins take over the track–so brilliant. It’s almost interactive in a sense– he’s not just letting the beat and the melody stay in the background, but brings it to the foreground and blends it with his rhyme, which I’ve only heard once before, done by K Dot. And you KNOW that comparison is a good thing.

Bronson

Bronson himself is fun, his flow is steady, but I feel like his lyrics could use more substance. But I know that the track isn’t necessarily about the message. In fact, the medium is the message.

Good choice Sky. See you next week!