Month: December 2014

Is Hip Hop Dead?

Is Hip Hop Dead?

Nah, hip hop ain’t dead. At least not in the way you think. If you’ve ever thought that hip hop is dead, scope this.

Nas - Hip Hop is Dead


Hip Hop is thriving

Hip Hop is doing great. Competition has never been better and rappers are pushing each other to higher and higher heights. Not to mention that beefs are settled and shots are fired within the studio rather than in the streets. This is good because rappers careers won’t get cut short on some dumb shit then.

On top of that, rappers do not need to be on a record label to get their shit out there, as Chance the Rapper and others have built their audience and their discographies purely through mixtapes. Since more and more music is available for free (legally, I mean), people can then spend their money supporting artists on your by buying tickets and merch instead of buying albums and staying home.


Hip Hop is dying

Hip Hop is dying though too. It’s pretty much unrecognizable compared to what it was in the 1980s, and boom bap is dying out. It ain’t just hip hop though, pretty much all genre’s lines are being blurred. Short term this is cool because then music sounds different then what we’ve heard before.

Hip Hop Ain't Dead

Photo: pbs.org

Long term, it’s not as dope. I mean we don’t want all music to start sounding the same, because we already have a genre like that. It’s called radio pop. While I don’t necessarily need to a return to straight boom bap, I’d still want hip hop to not sound like every other genre. It seems like all genres, but especially hip hop, are dying out. For hip hop it’s because the standards are getting lowered, so that literally any beat with rap over it is getting called hip hop.


It’ll be interesting to see where it all goes.

I don’t really think that hip hop is gonna totally die out, as in I don’t think hip hop’s gonna start sounding exactly like everything else. I also don’t think that it’s gonna sound much like what it started as in New York like, 15 years from now. It’ll probably be somewhere in between, so follow along at Spit Talking to keep up with the developments.


If you think hip hop is definitely gonna die out in the next few decades, or if you think it’s gonna take everything over, let me know in the comments!

It’ll be mad interesting to see where it goes. Anything could happen. Here at Spit Talking we’ll keep you posted on everything.


Spit Talking

Get to Sleep Faster

Not all hip hop gets you hype.

But you wouldn’t necessarily know it from listening to the radio. There’s mad chill shit too, obviously. These are some tracks/projects that will help you get to sleep faster.

Kanye Sleeping

Photo: reddit.com


Respiration – Black Star

You could go with a few songs off of Mos Def and Talib Kweli are Black Star, including Brown Skin Lady or Children’s Story (for a different take on the bedtime story), but Respiration is the main one for me. Even though Mos is talking “so much on my mind I just can’t recline”, this shit will help you get to sleep with a mad chill beat and the laid back delivery (even with Talib’s mile-a-minute flow.)

iTunes: Respiration - Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star


Donnie Trumpet – Donnie Trumpet

Donnie Trumpet - Donnie Trumpet

The self-titled EP from part of Kids These Days includes Vic Mensa on nearly every track, and also Chance the Rapper on the first one (Zion.) The overall sound is mad chill and the trumpet gives a much more layered and specifically trippy sound than most hip hop can dream of having. This project is perfect for falling asleep, waking up or just spending a lazy sunday to.

Download Donnie Trumpet free on djbooth


Pyramids – Frank Ocean

Again, Frank Ocean isn’t exactly hip hop but I don’t really care, he came up through Odd Future and I’ma write about him. This track has one of the best mid-song transitions of all time, and it’ll keep you grooving but it won’t keep you awake. Frank Ocean’s got that silky smooth voice and the vibe’s on point for this one.

iTunes: Pyramids - Channel ORANGE


Under the Influence – Domo Genesis

Domo Genesis - Under the Influence

Anyone who knows me knows I love Domo Genesis, and it probably isn’t a surprise to anyone that a rapper who loves bud is good to fall asleep to. Domo’s verses are sleepily dope, and they definitely aren’t simple, but the beats are real chill. Shine and Benediction are the ones you want to start with here.

Download Under the Influence Free on Datpiff


So next time you’re trynna put on some hip hop that won’t keep you up but will actually help you get to sleep faster, try some of the above shit.

It’s all dope, I promise. I guess another thing you could always do is put on some Macklemore or something because that shit is BORING and you will be snoozing before you can say “Kendrick was robbed.” And if you got something you’ve been falling asleep to for a while now, let me know!


Spit Talking

Best Rap Beats: All Time (Pt. 1)

Lyrics are obviously important in hip hop, but so is the beat.

And if you’re trynna freestyle, all you care about is the dope beat. There have been a lot of beats throughout the years, but these are some of the best to freestyle to. These are the best rap beats (all time.)

Scope part 2 here.

Scope part 3 here.

Making Beats

Photo: Ruffrydersindy.com


The Recipe – Kendrick Lamar

This beat is personally my favorite to freestyle to. The tempo is pretty much perfect, and Kendrick and Dre show this by switching up the speed they rap at. If you’re spitting off the top of your head to this, you can start slow and then switch into double time once you start going. There’s a one-hour instrumental version of this on youtube and it’s pretty much crucial to any cypher.


Mathematics – Mos Def

I mean this beat hits so fucking hard, I don’t gotta tell you why it’s dope, but I will. It’s just a bit syncopated so it gives you time to breathe, and a bit like The Recipe it also allows for switching up the flow pretty often. And if you have no idea what to start rapping about, you can follow what Mos does and do the numerical thing.


Domo Genesis

Photo: blkdmnds.com


Shine – Domo Genesis

This one is a slow one, but sometimes you gotta slow it down. This shit just sounds like a lazy day and that’s a good time to freestyle so check this out for your next cypher. You can spit some shit that’s a bit more clever instead of just trying to keep up with the beat.


Devil in a New Dress – Kanye West

This is another one where you’re slowing it down, but damn do I love this beat. A classic example of that old Kanye shit (even though this isn’t old Kanye) where he grabs a soul sample and just rides with that shit. Proof that this is one of the best hip hop beats of all time is that Rick Ross has a verse on the track and absolutely kills it. I mean Rick Ross usually does way better featuring than on his own tracks, but still this one hits hard.


This concludes part 1 of the best rap beats of all time.

These are some of the best hip hop beats to freestyle to of all time, but be on the lookout for more coming soon. This is by no means all of them, and this is just a start, so I know I didn’t hit all of them. If you got some better ones though hit me with them in the comments!

Also scope part 2 here.

Scope part 3 here.


Spit Talking

Classic Hip Hop Comeback

Classic hip hop is making a comeback on the radio dial

According to the New York Times, two radio stations (one in Philly, one in Houston) have seen big listener increases after switching to classic hip hop. This is mad dope, because we need more real hip hop playing on the radio. But what does this mean?

Public Enemy - It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back


Hip Hop heads are getting older

First of all, this just straight up tells me that hip hop heads (and the classic rappers themselves of course) are getting older. Just like people who grew up listening to classic rock don’t care about new rock, people who grew up listening to classic hip hop don’t care about new hip hop. So when a radio station pops up playing the old good shit, they flock to it because a large part of the hip hop audience just wants that classic shit.


Folks want good hip hop

Another thing this tells me is that people are sick of the hip hop they’re hearing on the radio, and want to go back to the stuff they know is good. Since people think new hip hop is trash, they don’t necessarily just want to listen to a hip hop station, but they specifically want good shit. Since they remember that classic hip hop was the good stuff, they only want to listen to classic hip hop rather than taking a chance.


People think the shit on the radio is all hip hop now

This is the biggest problem, I think. It’s annoying how many times I’ve heard that hip hop is trash now, or that all hip hop is materialistic, or that hip hop needs to go back to how it used to be. I mean I love the classic shit, and I think a lot of radio hip hop is garbage, but that doesn’t mean anything. Just because someone is lazy and doesn’t look for other hip hop doesn’t mean that hip hop is bad now.

Big K.R.I.T.

Photo: thissongslaps.com

If you want good hip hop, there’s a ton of it coming out right now. Some of it is coming from the underground and some of it is coming from bigger rappers, but it’s out there (a lot of the stuff I talk about here, for example.) The radio has never played the best music in any genre, and hip hop is no different. A lot of it is materialistic and doesn’t have a message, but even more hip hop right now is not materialistic and does have a message (K.R.I.T., Kendrick, Cole, just to name a few.) Nostalgia only remembers the good stuff, and I’m sure if you traveled back in time to the time of classic hip hop you’d see that there was always dumb, bad shit.


So what do we do?

Well first of all, any time someone complains about how all hip hop is supposedly bad nowadays, point them to some good hip hop (or just to this website!) This is the easiest thing. If you really care about hip hop it’ll take a little bit more. Either hop on a radio station and get yourself a show where you play good hip hop (both classic and modern, maybe), or start writing your own shit to directly influence the quality of hip hop out there. Like Mos Def said, if we doin’ alright hip hop’s gon be doin’ alright. If we smoked out hip hop gonna be smoked out. We are hip hop.


Overall though, it’s mad dope that the classic stuff is making waves (literally) on the radio. What would you like to see played on the radio?

Let me know, and take on the responsibility to make hip hop better yourself.


Spit Talking

King Los: Rapper Extraordinaire

King Los: Rapper, Freestyler, Genius

One of the best tests for a rapper is how well they can freestyle. Freestyling is one of the foundations of hip hop, as you don’t even need a pencil or paper to write anything down, all you need is a beat and a quick wit. The best freestyler in the game right now is King Los, and it ain’t even that close.

King Los

Photo: worldstarhiphop.com


Dude’s got bars

It’s one thing to be comfortable enough to be able to spit off the top of your head, it’s another thing to do it well, it’s another thing to do it well for a decent amount of time, and it’s a whole other level to be able to spit consistently well off the top of your head for a good amount of time. This is why King Los is the shit. Dude will not only spit for like 10 straight minutes, but he’ll do so while continually spitting dope lines and sometimes he even starts going super hard after rapping for like 8 minutes.


Scope these videos for proof

Sway in the morning, 5 fingers of death

L.A. Leakers


King Los

Photo: kboing.com.br


If you’ve ever freestyled, your jaw has probably dropped by now

Dude just keeps going, right? Sway has seen a million rappers try to freestyle in front of him, and it’s obvious he’s mad impressed by King Los. It would already be dope if all he did was freestyle, but dude’s also got recorded stuff.


If you wanna support dope hip hop, support King Los

He’s got a single on iTunes right now, he’ll have an album coming out soon you should be on the lookout for, and he’ll always keep coming out with dope freestyles. Los is definitely the King, he ain’t never lied about that. If you’ve watched one of the videos above, you’ll agree.


Think someone else has got hotter bars?

I mean, I watch a lot of freestyle videos, and I’ve never come across anyone as dope as King Los. Well, I guess I should say anyone who is alive. The only person who comes to mind is Big L, and I would love to see that freestyle battle. Besides Big L though, if you think anyone can even hold a candle to King Los, I would love to see a video of it, so let me know in the comments.


Spit Talking

Comics about Hip Hop: Hip Hop Family Tree

If you’re like me, you’ve always looked for comics about hip hop.

The search is over. The dopest comic about rap is Hip Hop Family Tree. Ed Piskor tells an entertaining and accurate story about the rise of hip hop from the streets of New York to taking over the country. Not to mention it looks damn good the whole time.

Russell Simmons HHFT

Photo: @edpiskor on Twitter


This is essential reading for both die hard hip hop fans and for folks trying to get into hip hop.

If (like me), you always get people asking you about hip hop, how it started and where it’s going. This is the first place I point them, because Hip Hop Family Tree is as informative as it is entertaining. And this shit doesn’t leave you wondering about anything because it starts where hip hop did, in the 1970s. If someone knows nothing about hip hop, this would be a hell of a manual to start understanding it. If someone’s been listening to hip hop their whole lives, this comic is like a celebration of the best genre out there.


Hip Hop Family Tree Vol. 1 (1970s – 1981)

This is where you wanna start. This will walk you through how hip hop sprouted up in New York from Jamaican and other influences, and the very first few rap tracks that hit the radio, like Rapper’s Delight. Some people think that Rapper’s Delight and The Message were the complete beginning of hip hop, but this shows how it built up to that. Piskor’s art and storytelling hook you from the beginning, and I’m sure you’ll pick up the next one right when you finish this one.

Hip Hop Family Tree Book 1: 1970s-1981 (Hip Hop Family Tree)


Hip Hop Family Tree Vol. 2 (1981 – 1983)

Continuing where the last one left off, this one gets into some of the songs and groups that made hip hop absolutely blow up. Hip Hop had started to make it to the radio from the streets, and people were starting to take notice. Volume 2 walks through Run DMC, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five (of course including The Message.) This volume covers hip hop as it’s starting to get big nationwide.

Hip Hop Family Tree Book 2: 1981-1983 (Vol. 2) (Hip Hop Family Tree)


Run DMC Hip Hop Family Tree

Photo: @edpiskor on Twitter


Hip Hop Family Tree Box Set, Vol. 1 & 2 (1970s – 1983)

If you wanna get a nice box set covering both the beginning of hip hop in New York and the beginning of its nationwide radio takeover. Shoot, even if you already got the first two, grab this one as a gift or as a coffee table piece. If someone really wants to get into hip hop and its history, this is where you should point them. It’s pretty much an illustrated encyclopedia of hip hop, so no library is really complete without it.

Hip Hop Family Tree 1975-1983 Gift Box Set


Hip Hop Family Tree Vol. 3 (1983-1984)

Ok so this one isn’t out yet, but once you’ve read the first 2 you’re gonna be twiddling your thumbs waiting for this one to come out (like I have been for a while now.) This one will continue tracing hip hop’s rise from starting out on the radio to becoming the most popular genre in the country. Pre-order it so you don’t have to constantly check if it’s come out yet. Also follow Ed Piskor on twitter (@EdPiskor) to see sneak peeks of the drawings going into future volumes.

Hip Hop Family Tree Book 3: 1983-1984 (Vol. 3) (Hip Hop Family Tree)


Pick one of these (or all of these) up today, and I promise you will not regret it.

I happened to read another one of Piskor’s books (Wizzywig, which is also excellent) and then I saw he wrote these too and I was mad excited to see if these comics had finally done hip hop justice. They do not at all disappoint. Hip Hop Family Tree is the shit for any hip hop head, anyone trying to get into hip hop, Iggy Azalea (AKA Ms. I know nothing about hip hop history), or anyone in between.


Spit Talking

The Man with the Iron Fists

In case you weren’t sure whether or not RZA is a genius, watch The Man with the Iron Fists.

Yeah it came out in 2012 but that doesn’t mean it’s not a triumphant moment for hip hop. This is one of hip hop’s legends, the great RZA, living out a dream of making a kung fu movie. If you’re a fan of the Wu, you will want to buy this movie.

The Man With the Iron Fists

Digital: The Man With the Iron Fists

DVD: The Man with the Iron Fists - Unrated Extended Edition (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + UltraViolet)


This is pretty much RZA’s dream

If you’ve ever listened to a Wu-Tang album, you know that the one thing they love more than anything else is old Kung-Fu B movies. They clearly grew up watching them, and one can only assume their true calling was these movies, with hip hop just being a side gig they were decent at. RZA produced all those albums with the kung fu movie samples as skits, so it’s safe to assume he spent his adolescense watching these movies and shooting some in his head.

But that doesn’t mean he rushed it

When he scored Kill Bill for Quentin Tarantino, RZA saw his chance and started studying film under Tarantino. After years of this, he began writing The Man with the Iron Fists, and then started shopping it around (with the help of Tarantino who the movie was “presented by”.) RZA had been waiting all his life to do this, and he wasn’t about to do a sloppy job.

The Man with the Iron Fists

This movie is literally all RZA

He wrote it, directed it, starred in it, narrated it and of course did the music. The movie undeniably has RZA (and Wu-Tang’s) footprint on it, and it is the ultimate gift for hip hop fans. There is nothing more satifsying than watching a dude get curbstomped while Shame on a Nigga is playing, or hearing someone shout out the tiger style. It’s a hell of a postmodern movie, as an homage to old Kung-Fu B movies. I saw it in theatres kind of late on so there were about 10 people in there, and we were all just laughing our asses off.

But it’s not just comedy, or even mostly

The movie is mad funny at some parts (including Russell Crowe and some beads), but the action is excellent, as is the story of loyalty and family intertwined throughout the great action scenes. It isn’t the best movie I’ve ever seen, and there are flaws, but it accomplishes everything RZA wants it to, which is impressive for a rookie director/screenwriter.


So if you want great kung-fu action mixed with a little comedy and a Wu-Tang backing soundtrack:

Scope The Man with the Iron Fists. You’ll probably be laughing your ass off from the beginning with the intro music. Folks who aren’t fans of the Wu but are fans of kung fu movies will think this is funny and pretty dope, but fans of the Wu will love this. You should really scope this if you consider yourself a hip hop head or if you’ve ever liked any of the RZA’s work (musical, written or otherwise.)

Digital: The Man With the Iron Fists

DVD: The Man with the Iron Fists - Unrated Extended Edition (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + UltraViolet)


Spit Talking

Your Favorite Rapper’s Favorite Albums

Music’s gotta come from somewhere, and hip hop didn’t come out of nowhere.

This is what dudes in the golden age grew up listening to. I’m serious, Biggie’s Ready to Die starts with the sounds of his birth layered over Superfly (before going onto some other artists, including LL Cool J and Snoop.) These are your favorite rapper’s favorite albums.


Superfly – Curtis Mayfield

Curtis Mayfield - SuperflyThe soundtrack for the film of the same name, Superfly is absolutely incredible. It’s only 9 songs long, but there isn’t a second wasted. From the fun tracks to the dark ones to the celebratory ones, it’s a hell of an album. Curtis Mayfield’s swag paved the way for many many rappers.

The album’s pacing also laid the foundation for many rap albums, how it doesn’t linearly progress from slow/sad to fast/happy, but keeping you on your toes from song to song.


What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye - What's Going OnTo get his concept album about a returning Vietnam vet released, Marvin Gaye had to fight Berry Gordy (the head of motown), who thought it was trash and not nearly commercial enough for the radio. Gaye refused to record any more music for Motown until this was released.

Written and produced by the man himself, What’s Going On (the lead track) was eventually released behind Gordy’s back and became an absolute hit, leading to the release of the whole album. Like all Motown stuff, The Funk Brothers played on the album, but this was the first time they were actually credited on release. I gotta think Marvin had something to do with that.

Anyways, I promise you that any rapper of a certain age grew up listening to this 1971 album, and at the end of Q.U.E.E.N., Janelle Monáe underscores that, rapping “I’m tired of Marvin askin’ me what’s going on.”


Purple Rain – Prince

Prince - Purple Rain

Prince hoped Purple Rain would make him a superstar, and it absolutely did. Prince was mad versatile, and in some albums (like Prince) played every single instrument. Anyways, Purple Rain was also a movie soundtrack, showing that hip hop is intertwined with storytelling.

Not that Prince is a rapper, but a hell of a lot of his listeners became rappers. Like Curtis Mayfield, the swag and versatility is undeniable and served many rappers well. Prince wasn’t afraid to come off as arrogant one song and vulnerable the next, and neither are the great rappers.


Any albums I missed? Let me know!

These are just 3 of many, but they are the ones I think are the most infuential and timely for rappers’ childhoods. Also, they are some of my personal favorites.


Spit Talking

In Defense of Kanye

People love talking shit about Kanye. This piece is in defense of Kanye West.

I’ve heard way too much Kanye slander to not do anything about it.

Everyone loves Kanye.

Photo: funnyjunk.com


First of all, Kanye is one of the most awarded artists of all time

Dude has 21 Grammys. 21! By far the most of anyone his age, most people who have more than him are conductors or composers (or Stevie Wonder.) Jay-Z has 19, but he’s also 8 years older than Kanye. Sure, the Grammys are kind of bullshit (shoutout to Macklemore), and they definitely don’t respect hip hop or black culture in general, but honestly that just makes it more impressive that even they recognize Kanye’s greatness.

Kanye in the kitchen.

Photo: portalpopline.com.br

He could have stayed a producer, but he kept striving for greatness

Kanye was first successful as a producer, laying it down for Jay-Z (in The Blueprint), Ludacris, Cam’ron, Janet Jackson and Alicia Keys. He’d always written and wanted to rap, but early on he was only successful as a producer, with his signature style of sampling old soul vocals. He could have just stayed doing this and making money, but Kanye wanted more. Record label executives loved his production but didn’t want to hear any of his rap. Kanye didn’t care, and kept dreaming and eventually released The College Dropout. The rest is history, some yet to be written.

Once he became a successful rapper, he kept switching up his style

Dude could have just kept releasing the same album over and over (with success), but Kanye don’t roll like that. College Dropout, Late Registration and Graduation weren’t all super similar, but he just became a totally new artist with 808s and Heartbreak, absolutely blowing up autotune. Then he kind of came back to his roots with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, going back to rap but ramping up the production too. Then Yeezus came, and was all about the production, kind of bringing it all back, full circle. Kanye makes music for himself, and he doesn’t care what will be popular. Kanye is a tastemaker, and he sets trends rather than following him, and this has made him bigger than he ever could have been if he never tried to grow.

Kanye Graduation

Kanye always keeps it real

People always say they wish the old Kanye would come back, that he would rap about what he used to rap about. But that wouldn’t be keeping it real, because that just isn’t where Kanye is in his life anymore. How could he go back to rapping about being self-conscious and such now that he’s one of the best-selling artists of all time and married to Kim Kardashian? That wouldn’t be keeping it real, that would be fronting. So instead Kanye raps about his success, clothing lines and bigger societal issues rather than personal ones. That’s the life Kanye has now, so him rapping about that shit is keeping it real.


All in all, Kanye is the king and he can call himself a genius, a god or whatever he wants. He’s earned it. If you disagree, come at me in the comments!

If you wanna see some inspirational quotes from Kanye, scope.


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