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Flee Lord featuring Eto and Billy V - Mac in the Engine

I took the words home and thought them through. I even wrote a book report on it. But it's safe to say that I've reached a point in my life that, barring a Book of Job level change in fortune, I'm unlikely to become a victim of the war going on outside that no man is safe from. And yet, even in my advanced age fully settled into the suburbs, there are still times when hearing some dude rap through the various ways he is going to commit acts of violence in a heavy New York accent hits my ears in a way that nothing else can.

There are only so many times I can listen to Infamous in a day, though, so hearing that Prodigy's one-time mentee Flee Lord had put out a tribute to him ("In the Name of Prodigy") featuring beats from Havoc was about as good a Christmas gift as I could have asked for. It's got features from Raekwon, Busta, Prodigy's daughter, and a handful of other rappers that should be familiar to anyone who is still keeping up with that ol' NY sound. It's a quick ten tracks, all of them are easy listening, and well worth your time if you at all a fan of Mobb Deep. You can check out the full thing on Spotify.

And while I'm still in a NY State of Mind today, here's an older clip from one of Flee Lord's affiliates Eto:

Lil Eto and V Done - Live Today
12/27/2020 7:30:00 pm posted by Fresh | Comment on this Post

The Mecca - Nas, Dave East, Styles P, Remy Ma, Ghostface, Radha Blank

So maybe this is due to the fact that I am just not checking for hip hop blogs these days (no shots, y'all are great, it's just that the five minutes during the day that I get between work and preventing a one year old child from deliberately concussing himself are spent reclaiming the remnants of my sanity), but I completely missed one of the best rap-related movies of recent memory and I'm surprised I haven't heard more about it. Hell, the fact that the soundtrack includes a song with Ghost, Nas and Styles P on it would have been enough to bring down Wordpress' servers back in the day. And while I'm sure that someone can point me to dozens of articles about Radha Blank's The Forty Year Old Version, my only exposure to it prior to sitting down and watching it was the Netflix blurb that didn't really do the movie justice.

If Netflix had described The Forty Year Old Version as a movie about a Brooklynite from the "Golden Age" generation trying to start a music career, they'd have gotten my view from day one. That likely would have turned off some of its targeted audience, but hey, you gotta make some sacrifices to catch my attention. Rather than try to write some sort of review of the movie, I'll just throw up the trailer to it:

The Forty Year Old Version - Trailer
12/19/2020 7:30:00 pm posted by Fresh | Comment on this Post

Culture Shock 2020 Trailer

Throughout the pandemic, hip hop has really been leading the way in finding new ways to deliver music to its fans. Almost from day one of the quarantine, D Nice turned IG Live into a respectable online venue for djs and Verzuz battles survived a few early technical difficulties to solidify itself as a platform that I'd imagine will be used well after COVID becomes a thing of the past. One area that hip hop has lagged behind other genres, though, is in delivering an actual concert. Prior to Culture Shock, which I'm going to get to in a minute, I had seen several EDM-style online music festivals and concerts, but hadn't seen anything that featured any form of hip hop.

All of that gets us to the point of this post, which is to promote the fact that my day one homie Chachi has organized an online music festival that is taking place next Monday, 12/21/2020 @ 7PM EST on Youtube. The driving force behind this concert is to raise money for his hometown, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and to do so he gathered a bunch of artists from the state to perform. Headlining the show is Flawless Real Talk, who you likely have seen before as one of the finalists from Netflix's Rhythm + Flow.

To quote the online magazine Motif, who put together a nice writeup on Culture Shock, "Performances will be live recorded sessions with acts such as Flawless Real Talk, Nova One, Joe Bruce, Temperamento, Brooxana, Jabubu, Kelce, Shokanti and Storm Ford. Culture Shock also will include interviews with the artists. Culture Shock has a wide selection of artists and genres every year, and this year it is expected to include an eclectic mix of sounds from Latin hip-hop to rap to '60s vintage rock to singer-songwriter to silky soul and R&B."

For all the details on Culture Shock, check out their facebook page.

To donate money to the cause, please consider contributing to their gofundme page.

And most importantly, please subscribe to and tune in to the Culture Shock youtube page Monday at 7pm!

Finally, to get you all in the mood for Culture Shock, below is my all time favorite song from Chachi. I'd imagine you'll hear a song or two like this on Monday:

Cachi - Sabim
12/17/2020 7:30:00 pm posted by Fresh | Comment on this Post

Nation GVNG - Boat Shoes

Give me ten more beats like this one from Chillon Davis, some more verses like the opening bars from PR The Great, and a summer release date, and I'll give you the closest approximation of a Rick Ross album you're likely to get from an independent label. Boat Shoes is the first single off of Insubordinate Records' new release Nation GVNG, a collaborative effort from PR, Jihad Scorsese, Griff, and Bigspitgame.

If you're looking for some last minute holiday gifts with a side benefit of supporting deserving musicians, go cop something from their online store. At a minimum, you'll be impressed with the branded bags they ship their stuff in.

Here's one more track off of the Nation GVNG album, this one produced by the homie Griff:

12/12/2020 7:30:00 pm posted by Fresh | Comment on this Post

Ed Sheeran - Bibia Be Ye Ye

Hey, have any of you heard of this guy Ed Sheeran? As unavoidable as he's been to anyone with a functioning radio over the past decade, I really hadn't paid him much mind until my recent foray into parenthood. Sheeran's vast catalog of slow tempo'd wedding jams has been a life saver over the past year, capable of calming even the most unruly of infants. In fact, if my dear old nana had access to these songs back in the day I may have been spared exposure to whiskey until a more advanced age. In any event, thanks to a near constant rotation of Ed's greatest hits in the nursery it is no exaggeration to say I can identify virtually any of his songs in less than five notes (and were I not happily married, I can only imagine how well that boast would play as an opening line with the ladies).

In an ongoing effort to share more details about my personal life to better facilitate further identity fraud, and to better understand where I'm heading with this post, my kid is half Ghanaian. I've made it a point to slowly expose him to as much of Ghanaian culture as I'm capable of, given the difficulties of both the quarantine and the demographics of the northeast (though you may be interested to know there is a decent sized Ghanaian community in and around Yale University). So given that, I was pleasantly surprised to discover the unlikely union of Sheeran and Ghanaian music. Apparently during a visit to Africa he became a big fan of the country - to the point of getting a tattoo of the country's flag - and put out two surprisingly competent takes on Ghanaian pop music.

There is always a danger of praising an outsider's take on African music without taking the time to consider the historic complications involved in such appropropriation, but my kid just woke up again so it's time to load up the playlist and get back into daycare mode. So we'll save that analysis for another day. Mah krow.

Fuse ODG and Ed Sheeran - Boa Me
11/22/2020 7:30:00 pm posted by Fresh | Comment on this Post

Curly Castro and Griff - Dreadlocks Falling

I've long daydreamed of winning the lottery (oh word, you have too?) and using some portion of the winnings to bring all of the independent artists that have been featured on this site over the years into one big budget project Roc La Familia style. We'd get some great production, put out songs that make subtle and overt references to 90's hip hop, the merch would be on point, and we'd of course have some crazy videos if we could figure out how to film something in the age of COVID. Turns out while I've been planning this in my head, Griff has actually been executing on all of those things in the real world alongside Alex Ludovico, Jihad Scorcese, Curly Castro, and a bunch of other artists. It's really cool to see not only how well it's coming together, but how polished the finished product(s) have been.

You need some new music in your life, so go check out their extensive catalog on Bandcamp, watch a couple of these videos they just put out, and maybe cop a pair of stitched Joggers.

Griff x Scorcese - Ode to Camp Lo
11/11/2020 7:30:00 pm posted by Fresh | Comment on this Post

Far be it from me to pass judgment on those who have been tricked by a con-man into believing he can be used to further their personal causes. Nor can I expect someone who has built an entire empire on trolling his audience to act any differently in 2020. And many of the artists I grew up with are now reaching an age where they're susceptible to wild conspiracies, so maybe I need to give them a pass. And I really don't want to beat a dead horse, so I'll leave it alone.

But I do want to take a minute to say Bambu is a real one, and his new album Sharpest Tool In The Shed is a must listen on the eve of election day. Go grab a copy, it might help drown out the sound of all the pickup trucks driving around helplessly tomorrow.
11/2/2020 7:30:00 pm posted by Fresh | Comment on this Post

Kidz Bop - Truth Hurts

"Damn," you remark to no one in particular, your voice muffled by the strip of cloth fabric that's become as much a fixture on your face over the past eight months as the perpetual stubble you long since gave up on shaving once you stopped going into the office.

You continue, this time directing your words towards the device in your hand that has now fully eliminated any need for interaction with other humans in this age of social distancing, "This dude hasn't written anything in over a year, and now he's posting two days in a row? He must have something really important to say."

Thoughts of the past year's social unrest, long-overdue protests against injustice, 1984-grade gas-lighting from the elected officials you were raised to trust, and a viral pandemic that has been as bad as any reality that Matt Damon could have predicted, race through your mind as your focus returns to the screen. "Maybe he's going to address the generational-defining election coming up in just a few days?"


"Give his take on how music creation and consumption has changed as a result of the quarantine?"


"Maybe he'll share his thoughts on how the latest Supreme Court appointee's approach to law could one day cause the existing standards of obscenity to be re-evaluated and how that might have an impact on hip hop."

Nah, son. A younger version of me would be writing page after page with my thoughts on all of that, and I reserve the right to come back to this site before Election Day and do just that, but today I just wanted to share a video. This video has elicited something very rare for me lately as I've attempted to juggle working from home with the duties of raising a baby without the guardrails of daycare and protecting some level of my own sanity: genuine laughter. Seeing how earnestly this blonde girl raps, "I'm 100% that girl" in place of Lizzo's original "That bitch" line makes me smile every single time I watch it. It's great. Take a minute to watch it.

Then go back and watch the original Lizzo video which I continue to argue to this day is one of the best rap songs of the past decade.

(And one last thought. Can anyone confirm that is Open Mike Eagle in Lizzo's video?)

10/28/2020 7:30:00 am posted by Fresh | Comment on this Post

As a way of intro'ing this post, I was going to make a really tortured metaphor equating 90's hip hop heads slash gatekeepers to a cargo cult performing intricate rituals involving Polo sweaters, Jansport backpacks, and long-dormant blogs in the hopes of conjuring up the second coming of Illmatic from the clouds. That metaphor was hitting a little too close to home, and required far too much research to understand what a cargo cult even is, so scratch that. The point I'm getting to is that this album that we're going to talk about in the next paragraph really speaks to me.

What you need to know: Cargo Cults is a collaboration from the homie Zilla Rocca and former Def Jux emcee Alaska. They recently ("recently" being a term of relativity, but given it's been over a year since I've posted then anything since January counts as recent) dropped an album, Nihilist Millenial. The album's filled with the kind of heaviness - heavy in regards to both Alaska's rhymes and Zilla's sample-laden beats - that fits the world's current mood quite nicely. Techno-paranoia, hints of ludditism, cynicism, fatigue; it's all represented in here, but delivered with a level of emceeing skill and laid over some great beats that make for an incredible listen regardless of what mood 2020 has put you in.

The song at the top of the post, U/X, is the standout track but give the entire album a listen over here: Cargo Cults - Nihilist Millenial
10/26/2020 7:30:09 am posted by Fresh | Comment on this Post

(Image: Dream Team: A Stokely Hathaway Joint)

You may not have been waiting for an independent hip hop album that was inspired by professional wrestling. You might not even be able to conceive what an album like that would sound like. But I'm here to tell you that Griff and Scorsese Shells' new project "Dream Team: A Stokely Hathaway Joint," a project that was originally motivated by Scorsese's connection to WWE Manager Stokely Hathaway aka Court Moore and features an appearance from Vic Spencer, is going to exceed your expectations, whatever they may be.

You don't really need me to tell you how I feel about this song we're featuring off of the project, "Rob Peter, Pay Paul (Heyman)" (a reference to wrestling promoter Paul E. Dangerously). Griff's been down with this site for over a decade, and I'd post a recording of him banging a couple of rocks together on the strength of the gratitude I have for that. But even if that weren't the case I'm a sucker for any beat that samples obscure D Block remixes of Obie Trice songs and, as I've said before, Griff's production is consistently exceptional. His Dream Team partner Scorsese Shells comes correct, and gets a nice vocal assist from Sauce Heist. Rather than read several more sentences on why this song is good, just hit play on it and read through the transcript of an impromptu interview we did over instagram:

Scorsese, on his choice for the Big Daddy Kane-inspired album cover:
"I had always loved that picture and I wanted to use that aesthetic that Kane represented during his era - unlimited cool, refinement, but supremely gangsta. Plus, I fucking love Kane as a rapper! That said, I wanted to make it really minimalist and turn that ideal into a target - hence why he is red and the chains are visible."

Griff, on the time that one of his songs was licensed by MTV's the Real World:
"We did not have a direct connection at MTV, but my business partner at the time had a connection at a third party company that does MTV's music placement. So after the album was finished we had sent that to him and highlighted that song in particular as one that would be a good fit for anytime in reality TV that there was a fight or an argument or whatever, which in reality TV is pretty much all the time.

We landed a few more sync deals off of that record, but that was the major one. I learned a lot about sync placements through that, because that song was classified as featured music as opposed to background music which paid out at a higher rate. It was awesome though because we recouped the entire album off of that one sync. Which was great because we spent way too much on that album anyways!

Griff on how he hooked up with Scorsese for this project:
"I connected with Scorsese when he was putting together producers to remix tracks for his last album, A World Only Gods Know. Zilla Rocca actually connected us. I did the remix of the title track for that album and then shortly after he had heard some of my beats on Instagram and I sent him one of them. [H]e laid something down on it that I thought was super dope at which point he told me the whole concept for the album and we started putting tracks together really with the intent of doing an EP, but it morphed into a full length album."

Even more from Griff on his approach to being a working producer in 2019:
"I don't really do Type beats and try to sell stuff on like Beatstars or go really hard on Soundcloud or whatever. Mainly just because I don't have the time. I have four kids and I still work a full time job outside of music, so I really have to make sure that whatever I'm working on musically is stuff that I'm really passionate about.

I do occasionally dabble with other styles of hip hop besides what you hear on the collaborations with Alex Ludovico [which you should really check out if you haven't already] and on the Dream Team stuff. So I do have a pretty decent size catalog of "keyboard beats" that I will eventually get into doing something with. There's a lot of electronic inspired stuff that I guess I would describe as a heavy Missy Elliot/Timbaland influence mixed with modern-day trap.

So maybe at some point in the future I'll pop up on Beatstars or one of those websites with an alias and start better financing my boom bap style stuff by doing contemporary bullshit. And I use the term bullshit loosely because I do enjoy a lot of that stuff and it's fun to make as well. With so many sub-genres of rap I don't ever want to pigeonhole myself into just doing one style.

And finally, since they're putting this project out under the name "Dream Team," I had to ask Griff who his favorite member of the original Dream Team was:

"Growing up in the Chicagoland area it would be sacrilege to say anything other than Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. But I will always have a special place in my heart for David Robinson. The first replica NBA jersey I ever bought was that number 50 Spurs, and I still have it in my collection."

To hear the rest of Dream Team: A Stokely Hathaway Joint, check out their soundcloud page.

For more from Griff, here's his Instagram page.

And for more from Scorsese, head ver to his IG page.
4/23/2019 7:30:09 am posted by Fresh | Comment on this Post