Month: March 2015

Happy Birthday, DJ Premier!

It’s DJ Premier’s birthday.

The legend’s a year away from 50 today, so let’s celebrate one of the greatest producers in hip hop history. He’s been around for 49 years now, and he’s been making hits for 25 of those years. A lot of classic sounds from the golden age of hip hop and beyond have been put together by DJ Premier, and he’s worked with a lot of the dopest rappers out there. Let’s talk about a few of my favorite tracks he did.


Nas – NY State of Mind, Memory Lane (Sittin’ in da Park), Represent

DJ Premier and Nas

Photo: premierwuzhere.com

The second track (and the first real track) on Illmatic is NY State of Mind, which is one of the best tracks on the album, one of the best tracks by Nas, and really just one of the greatest of all time. It sets the tone for the rest of the album, with a pretty simple beat holding it down for Nas to spit long verses with the hooks pretty much just being the track titles repeated. Premier is one of the best of all time because of his ability to keep it simple and hold it down without overshadowing the rapper.

He proves this a few more times on Illmatic with Memory Lane (Sittin’ in da Park) and Represent. Whether it’s a light playground sound or one with a harder edge, Premier laid it down for Nas to kill it. Premier pretty much exemplifies minimalist hip hop with his contributions to the album, and these 3 tracks help define Illmatic’s sound, yet they’re all unique.

Biggie – Ten Crack Commandments
Mos Def – Mathematics

These 2 tracks came out a few years after Illmatic, but show Premier was better than ever almost 10 years into his career. I group them together because they’re the best number-based rap tracks of all time, and Premier did as much as Biggie and Mos did to make them classics. These are both grittier beats than anything he did on Illmatic, but again he did just enough to set the tone for the rappers to kill it.

Talib Kweli, Mos Def, DJ Premier

Photo: blackvibes.com

This is the mark of a great hip hop producer, when their beats are as big a part of a dope track as the rap is but they’re okay laying low from the spotlight. Premier is one of the biggest names in hip hop production, and a lot of that has to do with how many rappers have made classic tracks working with him. I’m telling you, he knows how to set a rapper up with a dope, simple beat. In fact, let’s see some of the rappers that DJ Premier has worked with more than once (because a list of everyone he’s worked with would take way too long):

  • KRS-One
  • Nas
  • Biggie
  • Jay-Z
  • Rakim
  • Big L

Solid list, right?

These are just a few of the rappers he’s done more than one track with, remember. That’s about a decade of hip hop sounds right there, and you can see pretty clearly that DJ Premier helped shape the golden age of hip hop. He’s still going strong too, and he’s more recently done a few tracks with Joey Bada$$. Dude just doesn’t get tired of making classics.


Anyways, happy birthday, Premier.

I just thought we should give one of the legends his due on his birthday. Remember, he ain’t even 50 and he’s been making classics for 25 years already. Hip hop is a better place because of Premier.


Spit Talking

To Pimp A Butterfly Now On CD

The dopest album, now on CD.

Unless you’ve actually been living under a rock, you know by now that Kendrick dropped To Pimp A Butterfly just a little earlier than expected. If you have been living under a rock, now would be a very good time to check out Spit Talking’s review of Kendrick’s mad dope album. So anyways, the album is now available on CD, and if you don’t feel like dropping $15 on some mp3s (even though the album’s straight up worth it, trust me), why not drop $14 on a CD?

Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly

Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly


The album

This album is straight fire, and it’s probably one of the dopest albums you’ve heard in a while. If you haven’t heard it yet, well then it’s one of the dopest albums you’ve never heard. It earned Spit Talking’s first ever 5/5 (and we don’t plan on giving many more of those out), so you know it’s good. Shit’s innovative from the beginning to the end, but never makes a misstep. It jumps between a lot of genres, and most of the time pulls more from Jazz than it does from Hip Hop. In the review, I say that To Pimp A Butterfly is Kendrick Lamar’s Bitches Brew, so you gotta at very least check out the sound.

The reception

So Kendrick’s album is getting mostly great reviews (aside from the vocal minority on twitter calling it garbo) and is selling damn well. It was number 1 on the iTunes charts before it had even dropped, but it didn’t quite hit platinum in like 3 days, as some folks on twitter thought it might. It also didn’t match If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late’s half a million mark either, so Drake beat Kendrick there. I personally think this is ridiculous, and I think only some of it had to do with Drake dropping his album out of nowhere. Kendrick’s was kind of an expected surprise, and people knew it was coming and had already heard some of the tracks, so I guess those folks that are scared of change didn’t wanna go for Kendrick’s album.


So yeah, buy the CD.

Anyways, if you don’t have the mp3s yet or you do have the mp3s but you want that shit for the car or to give out as gifts, cop the To Pimp A Butterfly CD. It’s only 14 bucks on Amazon, which is actually a dollar less than it is on iTunes and you get to show off your taste with the album artwork in your house. Support Kendrick and dope hip hop.

Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly


Spit Talking

Russell Simmons and the Hip Hop Musical

Hip Hop is coming to the world of musicals!

According to Variety, in a few years we can expect to see a musical about hip hop in New York. Maybe white people will start liking hip hop now (I mean BESIDES Eminem and Macklemore.) Russell Simmons is developing a hip hop musical called The Scenario, and bringing in some big guns to help make it happen. Let’s see what big Russ (aka DA GAWD who brought us Def Jam) has got for us.


The team

Russell Simmons

Photo: ellentv.com

So Russell Simmons is the man behind this all, but he’s not gonna do it alone. He’s bringing in the producer of Rock of Ages, which ran on Broadway for more than 5 years and was pretty much what The Scenario will try to do, except with rock (obviously) instead of hip hop. He’s also bringing in Dan Charnas (who wrote “The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop”) to write the story. This team alone is great, because right there we got folks who know all about hip hop and also folks who know about musicals, so this is gonna be a dope production.

What is it though?

So it’s gonna be a musical about the Golden Age of hip hop, the mid ’80s to the mid ’90s. That right there makes me wanna see this shit. A musical that runs from the time of LL Cool J and Run-DMC to the glory days of Nas and Biggie? Sign me the fuck up. Shit, it’s ridiculous that no one’s done something like this yet, considering how much mad dope music came out of those years.

When’s this shit dropping?

Broadway

Photo: twitter.com

So they’re trynna get it in New York in late 2016, and they’re not necessarily trying for Broadway or anything. It doesn’t matter, because hip hop almost feels like it belongs off-Broadway anyways, because of what it represents and where it came from. It would be dope to see the greatest genre out there to get its props on the big stages of Broadway, though, so regardless of which theatre it’s at you can expect me in New York around late 2016. The most important part is it’ll be in New York, where hip hop was born and where it flourished.


Hip Hop’s doing good.

First Baz Luhrmann’s trynna get hip hop on Netflix, and now we can expect a stage musical. It makes sense, cause I mean hip hop is music and storytelling, and that’s what musicals are so it’s a perfect combination, really. After The Scenario finishes its run, they could even turn right around and make The Scenario 2 about the mid ’90s to the mid ’00s (or even just the mid ’90s to 2000.) Basically, I’m holding out until we can get a musical that involves Mos Def (hopefully playing himself.)


Spit Talking

Earl Sweatshirt’s New Album Dropping Soon

I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside

On March 23rd, get ready for I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside: An Album By Earl Sweatshirt. You can preorder it not on iTunes for just 10 bucks, which comes out to a dollar per track. Since it’s Earl we’re talking about here, it should be mad dope considering how well he handled the almost impossible transition from 15-year old rap prodigy to Samoa to the very solid Doris.


Making fun of Kendrick’s release?

Earl Sweatshirt Venting on TwitterSo this all came up on iTunes like 2 days ago, so a week before its release (which was the day To Pimp A Butterfly was supposed to be released, so that’s lucky for Earl.) First of all, remember when Kendrick’s album came out there was the rollercoaster of it being available then not available then available on iTunes, not to mention that Interscope started trending on twitter cause folks thought someone was gonna get fired there. Then Kendrick calmed it all down, but anyways, looks like Earl got an idea from the whole situation.

When the album title, artwork and tracklist (not to mention release date) popped up on iTunes, along with one of the track’s videos (Grief) being released, Earl started going off on twitter. First he yelled at Sony Music Global (his label) for fucking up the rollout then generally kept cussing because he was frustrated. Folks were confused and thought maybe he wanted it to be a surprise album, but overall most people thought it was just a joke and he was playing off the botched Kendrick release.

Legitimately mad?

It doesn’t look now like he’s joking, though. Yesterday he talked about how he actually wanted the rollout to go on twitter. These are Earl’s words straight from twitter (@earlxsweat):

if I had conttrolled the damn roll out y’all woulda got the video 1st so you could’ve just focused on that instead of the hype of an album

y’all would just be getting details about the album now, except you wouldn’t know the track list or the features, cause all that…

…is unnecessary at this point.

Earl Sweatshirt - I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go OutsideBut, shit happens and we do have all the details, so we might as well talk about them. I’m personally mad excited for Earl’s second real album, and from what I’ve heard (the one track we’ve heard so far from the album, Grief) Earl’s still just as smart and clever with mad neat rhymes, but he sounds even a bit older than he did on Doris. Anyways, let’s check out the tracklist we know’s gonna come with Earl’s album:

  • Huey
  • Mantra
  • Faucet
  • Grief
  • Off Top
  • Grown Ups (feat. Dash)
  • AM//Radio (feat. Wiki)
  • Inside
  • DNA (feat. Na’kel)
  • Wool (feat. Vince Staples)

Anyways, if you preorder now for $10 you get Grief and then of course the rest of the album on Monday. I’m excited for this shit, especially since it ends with a Vince Staples feat. Ever since epaR, Vince Staples and Earl have shown that they’re a mad dope duet.


Get hyped.

This shit comes out next Monday, and it’s nice for Earl that his release won’t be overshadowed by Kendrick’s (incredible) album. Preorder it and get that shit right when it arrives. If you wanna wait for it to come out, check back here at Spit Talking for the review once it’s drops.

I Don't Like S**t, I Don't Go Outside: An Album by Earl Sweatshirt - Earl Sweatshirt


Spit Talking

Charges Dismissed Against Tiny Doo

Justice has prevailed.

NBC 7 San Diego is reporting that a judge has dismissed the charges against Tiny Doo, a 33-year old rapper. He was being brought up on gang conspiracy charges, pretty much solely with his lyrics as evidence. This is not only a win for Tiny Doo, but a win for rappers and free speech everywhere.


The charges

Tiny Doo

Photo: independent.co.uk

So along with 14 codefendants all supposedly linked to the Lincoln Park gang in San Diego, Tiny Doo was being charged in connection with 9 shootings between 2013 and 2014. Only problem is that all this connection was based on was Tiny Doo’s rap, and the prosecutors claimed he not only encouraged people to commit crime with his lyrics, but the he also benefited from his gang’s streed cred from the shootings. They essential claimed that with his hip hop, Tiny Doo was promoting violence and helped cause the shootings.

There wasn’t any evidence actually connecting him to the shootings though! Now, they apparently did have evidence connecting him with some of the gang members who did the shooting, and they also say he was supposedly around the area of some of the shootings. They claimed that this was enough to show he was a gang member, and under a a California law that passed 15 years ago, you can charge gang members for crimes that other gang members committed.

Garbage charges

Prosecutors gotta prove that they benefited from the crimes in some way though, which is why they added that he benefited from his gang’s supposed increased street cred. So, pretty much, prosecutors were trynna say that Tiny Doo was a member of the Lincoln Park gang, that his music promotes crime and inspired the shootings, and that the shootings increased Lincoln Park gang’s street cred so Tiny Doo benefited from the shootings. You see the problem here?

Tiny Doo - No SafetyThe main thing they tried to pin this all on Tiny Doo for was his music. He was facing life in prison for hip hop! This was a free-speech issue, and rappers everywhere might have had to worry about this shit along with everything else they gotta deal with. Luckily, a judge dismissed the charges against Tiny Doo so fans of hip hop and the first amendment can rest easy. If you want, you can check out his 2014 mixtape No Safety here.


Tiny Doo’s alright.

After the charges were dismissed he thanked Talib Kweli on twitter for his support (and Kweli immediately responded of course.) He also claimed that this would not change how he approaches hip hop from now on (good) and that he would soon be writing about what the courtroom was like (dope.) We at Spit Talking look forward to that shit and we’re glad hip hop won’t be further demonized by folks/the media.


Spit Talking

Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly Review

To Pimp A Butterfly has dropped.

It was supposed to be March 23rd, but Kendrick decided to drop it 20 years and a day after Tupac dropped Me Against The World, and he tweeted that so folks wouldn’t be completely confused (but they still were.) I’m mad hyped that this shit is now on my phone a good bit over a week before I thought it would. Anyways, let’s see what one of the most highly anticipated hip hop albums (of all time, really) has for us. This is Spit Talking’s To Pimp A Butterfly review. I think the reaction to this is gonna be similar to Yeezus’s: it’ll be split at first, then after a year’s passed everyone will recognize the genius.

Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly

To Pimp A Butterfly is Kendrick’s Bitches Brew.

To Pimp a Butterfly - Kendrick Lamar


This album is literally nothing short of incredible, with Kendrick pushing the limit on what rappers should rap over and how they should rap. It took 2 and a half years, but the wait was worth it cause he crafted a masterpiece. This is Kendrick’s best album, yes, better than good kid, m.A.A.d. city. The individual tracks may not be as good for driving around or something (although some stretches, like King Kunta to Institutionalized to These Walls, are better than anything on gkmc in my opinion), but overall the sound is so innovative for hip hop that it’s no contest. Then the interview with Pac and the cocoon/walls/ghetto/institution metaphor and the interwoven poetry throughout takes this shit to mindblowing levels. Some folks might not like it cause it’s unexpected, but ths shit is a certified classic. There’s a lot of great music, and a lot of social and individual commentary. This shit is so dense that you could probably listen to it for a year and still not get it all, but I tried to break it down for y’all as best I could.

For its fearlessness, innovation, commentary on the state of both hip hop and the world, and its ability to sound old school and brand new at the same time, I give To Pimp A Butterfly a:

 

5/5

 


Wesley’s Theory

The album starts with Wesley’s Theory, a smooth-sounding intro featuring George Clinton and Thundercat. Before long, the funk drops in and it hits you that this is To Pimp A Butterfly. Kendrick sings a little in the background about his first girlfriend before breaking out into some rap. It sounds like the intro to a 70’s talk show or something, in the best way possible. Then the beat drops out and Dre comes in with some knowledge before Kendrick drops some himself. In less than 5 minutes, Kendrick establishes that this is gonna be a funky but versatile album, dropping some hot bars along the way.

Then For Free? (Interlude) keeps the genre experimentation going with some jazz before Kendrick starts rapping about how this dick ain’t free, and he’s really rapping over some shit folks just don’t rap over. It’s a pressure-filled chaotic interlude that’s probably the best I’ve ever heard on a rap album. This is followed by King Kunta.

Yams

Kendrick's Pac TweetsKing Kunta is a mad funky track that’s all about the yams. It’s one of Kendrick’s best tracks yet, and you should get this album just to hear this track if nothing else. It’s an excellent showcase of Kendrick’s performance ability and jumps between a few genres in less than 4 minutes. This is indicative of To Pimp A Butterfly — all (good) hip hop takes from funk and jazz, but you’ve never heard it like this. Kendrick did everything he could to make a groundbreaking rap album, and he did.

Institutionalized

Then we get Institutionalized, which starts out with a slow melody and Kendrick rapping high-pitched, almost Quasimodo-like. Institutionalized features Bilal, Anna Wise and Snoop Dogg, and definitely chills out the album, even though Kendrick’s spitting mad real shit about being institutionalized in the ghetto and not being able to quit it. This is some revolutionary shit, even before the track goes “master take the chains off me” and switches into some down-tempo jazzy hip hop. This is Kendrick doing Mos Def, and absolutely killing it. He’s trying to make his mark on hip hop, music and society with his shit.

These Walls starts with the line that ends King Kunta, “I remember you was conflicted, misusing your influence”, and features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat. The slow snaps lead into a groovy, driving beat that’s mad optimistic. I (and some other people) were wrong thinking this whole album would be dark and edgy, cause These Walls is definitely some shit you can step to. Maybe Kendrick took his mom’s advice from good kid, m.A.A.d. city. This track has a similar message to Institutionalized, but keeps a brighter outlook. The lyrics still aren’t sunny, but damn the music makes you smile. It also isn’t afraid to slip into a few different genres for a bit every now and then, going into spoken word over smooth jazz to end the track, and again we get the line from King Kunta and Institutionalized, but a little more of the speech this time.

u

Miles Davis - Bitches BrewThen we get u, which we can assume is some sort of partner to i. All of a sudden it sounds like you’re listening to Miles Davis, with Kendrick repeating “loving you is complicated.” Miles Davis stretched jazz to its limits, and Kendrick’s trynna do that now for hip hop. Eventually he gets to rapping on the beat, but he kind of slips on there cause it sounds chaotic and atonal, but there’s a method to the madness. Again, this is more spoken word than rap, but really Kendrick’s already made it hard to draw a line on To Pimp A Butterfly. The track switches up to what sounds like some classic Marsalis trumpet and Kendrick spitting in a way I’ve literally never heard before, taking on the voice of an alcoholic on the streets and keeping shit mad real.

The 7th track on To Pimp A Butterfly is Alright, which continues the trumpet/spoken word combo, at least before it smooths out and starts popping. Even though he’s rapping and killing it, it’s clear that Kendrick didn’t want this to be just another hip hop album, and he’s trying to cram years of genre development into one album. It’s still hip hop, but literally the only reason to say that is because Kendrick’s rapping, again, fairly optimistically. If good kid, m.A.A.d. city was a portrayal of how dark it is where Kendrick came from, To Pimp A Butterfly is about how dark it was over a celebration of how bright it was and what could be. Then we get part of the speech again before the track ends.

Lucy

Another Interlude (For Sale?) breaks up the album with the 8th track. Again, it’s some smooth jazz with some light piano dancing around it, but Kendrick doesn’t use interludes to take a break. They’re a soapbox for him to come in with some spoken word and maybe even sing a little. Talking about Lucy (not the TV show though), Kendrick sounds more like Section 80 than good kid, m.A.A.d. city, but I think it’s more advanced (musically) than anything he (or any rapper, really) has done yet. We get the speech again, for the first time with some music behind it (transcribed a little below.)

Then we got Momma, the 9th track. It comes in sounding like some Frank Ocean shit off nostalgia/ultra, in a real good way. Then Kendrick comes in with some rap about his coming up and current place. The rap in this is a lot more abstract than good kid, m.A.A.d. city, and I’ll probably drop an article after this review digging into the lyrics a little more, cause they’re a lot denser. Anyways, the track ends with some more Miles Davis-paced jazz for Kendrick to rap over for a second before it fades out.

Hood Politics

Kendrick Lamar Dukes Up

Photo: highsnobiety.com

For the 10th track of To Pimp A Butterfly, Kendrick gives us Hood Politics. I was looking forward to this shit for the name alone, and it comes in with some real slow funky shit sounding like some more blaxploitation nods after King Kunta. Kendrick talks shit from the first line about how he’s A1 and you boo-boo. He gets serious, talking about how he doesn’t care about politics in rap, cause there’s realer shit going on like death that trumps politics. From discussing condoms to Obama to gangbanging at 14 to ruling the West Coast along with Snoop (who’s already been on the album by this point), Kendrick succeeds in making you think while keeping up with this shit. Then we get the speech again:

I remember you was conflicted, misusing your influence/

Sometimes I did the same. Abusing my power full of resentment/

Resentment that turned into a deep depression/

I found myself screaming in the hotel room/

I didn’t wanna self-destruct/

The evils of Lucy was all around me/

So I went running for answers/

Until I came home/

But that didn’t stop survivor’s guilt/

Going back and forth trying to convince myself the stripes I earned/

Or maybe how A1 my foundation was/

But while my loved ones was fighting a continuous war back in the city/

I was entering a new one.//

Once the speech has ended (with some more this time), we get maybe the best beat yet for How Much A Dollar Cost, which features James Fauntleroy and Ronald Isley. Shit, the beat almost sounds like something RZA and Radiohead would come up with. How Much A Dollar Cost is about what the title implies, and also about the pressure of a stare. It’s definitely a highlight on this album, but really the whole album flows so well that it’s hard to say that even. The track ends with a little soul, and anyone who isn’t sold on To Pimp A Butterfly’s different sound should be convinced by this point.

The land of landmines

Kendrick Lamar and Talib Kweli

Photo: talibkweli.com

The 12th track is Complexion (A Zulu Love) which has got Rapsody featured on it. Complexion is a little smoother and a little more low-key than the last track, which is good cause it gives you time to take it all in. That doesn’t mean it’s shallow though, from the Willie Lynch reference to the general theme of complexion in the track. Rapsody keeps the social commentary going, and all of a sudden this shit sounds like it’s Mos Def and Talib Kweli doing Thieves in the Night. Aside from West Coast, jazz and funk influences, Kendrick seemed to listen to a lot of Black Star before making To Pimp A Butterfly. He finished the track by keeping it real and calling Compton “the land of the landmines.”

The Blacker The Berry

Then we got The Blacker The Berry as the 13th track, which we’ve all heard by now. It’s a mad racial track referencing all the cop shootings, gang relations, Kendrick’s own past and hypocrisy. This is an incredible track, and is one of the standouts on the album. It’s representative of the album for how good it is, but the sound is more old Kendrick and less funk/jazz than the rest of the album really is. Luckily it’s fucking incredible.

Kendrick then takes us to You Ain’t Gotta Lie (Momma Said) for the 3rd-to-last track on the album. It takes the album back to a smooth but funky sound, showing that The Blacker The Berry is an outlier and doesn’t mark a shift in the album or anything. It’s really a summer love song that shows Kendrick can groove as well as anyone and that he can really rap over anything about anything and sound like the best doing it. This track is about confidence and honesty, and it’s sweet.

i (new and improved!)

Then we get i as the second-to-last track, but not like we heard it a few months ago. It has a little intro which doesn’t sound like it’s about to kick into i’s groove, but then it totally makes sense. The track has switched up a bit, with some different vocals and a little more energy in general. With the slight changes and the rest of the album, i makes a lot more sense from Kendrick all of a sudden. This is a much different track than u, which could represent Kendrick’s personal development considering this is near the end. He drowns out his dope rap near the end a little more, letting it leak into conversation before Kendrick kills the music. Then he talks about how many black people we’ve lost in just the last year, calling out judges (the album cover makes sense) in the process. Considering the low volume, it’s Kendrick trynna put out a message but knowing it’s gonna get drowned out by other shit, so he goes into some mad powerful spoken word, talking about how “N-E-G-U-S” means royalty and black emperors. Think on that.

Mortal Man

Nelson Mandela

Photo: forbes.com

Mortal Man finishes off the album with 12 minutes (much like Sing About Me/Dying of Thirst off GKMC and as the last track like J Cole’s Note to Self.) Mortal Man comes in sounding like 808s and Heartbreak in a complete departure from the rest of the album, before being brought back in with some bass, piano and horns and all of a sudden it sounds like some old West Coast rap shit. He starts by shouting out the ghost of Mandela, and asking “when shit hits the fan, is you still a fan?”, which is funny cause this whole album is kind of a test of Kendrick’s fans. Some really won’t like it, even though he’s bringing the whole genre forward. Mortal Man’s got some similar themes to Sing About Me/Dying of Thirst, with Kendrick wondering what would happen if he died soon.

Then Kendrick goes from rapper loyalty to relationship loyalty, as the horns start doing more and more work in the background. Then he goes back to talking about his anger against judges before saying that’s not like Nelson. Kendrick’s venting on this track but always brings it back by reminding himself what Mandela would do. He runs down a few decades of fallen heroes, from Huey Newton to Michael Jackson, before the beat dies down and he goes back into his spoken word again. This time there’s a lot more to it though, with Kendrick pleading black gang members to respect each other for their blackness, not their gang color.  Then he ends his not really a poem, and continues to interview Tupac.

Pac

Tupac - Me Against The WorldAt this point my mind was blown, realizing that this was not an album but an interview with Tupac, Kendrick’s mentor through music even if he couldn’t be alive to do it the conventional way. Kendrick really thinks he’s taking up Tupac’s torch (not just the West Coast crown), and he talks with Tupac about blackness in America while some background music casually flows. Then he calls himself an offspring of Tupac’s legacy and tells him about all the turmoil then asks about the future. In response, Tupac predicts revolution and Kendrick predicts that music is the only thing that can save us before they talk about how they ain’t even really rapping, just telling stories. Kendrick ends the track and his album with the story of a caterpillar who is less appreciated than the butterfly, so the caterpillar starts pimping the butterfly in the mad city. From the cocoon, the caterpillar is instititutionalized but has time to think, and once its wings emerge it can shine light on situations the caterpillar never considered, ending the eternal struggle.

Kendrick ends the album with “what’s your perspective on that? Pac? Pac? Pac?”


Wow.

Even before the Tupac shit ties it all together, this is a monumental moment for hip hop with all the different beats and genres being used. Then the story of the caterpillar and the cocoon gives you a whole new perspective on Kendrick’s life and of course the album, forcing you to listen to it again. I played it again instantly after finishing it and noticed the album starts with the cocoon, showing just how fucking much is packed into this album. It’s a lot more subtle than good kid, m.A.A.d. city, because it’s about way more than just Kendrick. I’m not sure when I’m gonna start listening to other music again, but it doesn’t matter cause this album has everything. Hip Hop will never be the same.

To Pimp a Butterfly - Kendrick Lamar


Spit Talking

RapKey: The iPhone’s Hip Hop Keyboard

Lemme tell y’all about RapKey.

Remember the Drizzy keyboard app where you could text folks Drake lyrics from your iPhone? Well, if you’ve read my writeup of the Drizzy app you know that I’ve been waiting for an app that can text other rappers’ lyrics too. Well, even though it’s not brand new it’s new to me, so let me tell y’all about Rapkey, which is like the Drizzy app but with more lyrics. Not to mention it’s totally free, as it should be.

RapKey - Ativ Patel


The appRapKey Categories

Once you’ve parted with that zero dollars and downloaded/installed the app, go to your phone’s settings, then general, then keyboard, then add the RapKey keyboard. Once you have it as a keyboard you’re ready to start texting folks your favorite lyrics, from “Walking round always mad reputation” to the classics like “Straight out the fucking dungeons of rap.” Unfortunately, the lyrics aren’t broken up by rapper (which would be nice) but instead they’re broken up into mood, kind of like the Drizzy app. By choosing with the emojis, you can pick (from left to right) between the following types of lyrics:

  • Where are you?
  • What are you doing?
  • Talking with Bae
  • La la la I can’t hear you
  • Let me be great
  • Numbers on the board
  • and a Delete button, which is nice so you don’t have to switch out to a different keyboard for that.

Dreams

RapKey in ActionNow, don’t get me wrong, I’m real happy this app exists, but it’s not perfect. I wish that there were sections split up by rapper, because I’ma need pretty much all of Illmatic and Liquid Swords up in my texts so I’m holding out for Nas and GZA keyboard apps. I’m also gonna need some trademark noises that rappers make on my keyboard, like the obvious ones from Kanye, Birdman and Rick Ross, to name a few. If I’m not able to throw a Lil Jon “WHAT?” in there, it ain’t perfect yet. Anyways, this is what we got for now, and it’s easy to navigate and has a solid selection of lyrics, but really needs some more.


It’s free though

Since it’s free and you don’t gotta pay anything, we can look past all those shortcomings. The Drizzy app is dope, but it’s not quite versatile enough. I name RapKey the new world champion iPhone keyboard, but that’s just until an app that separates by rapper and has a huge library of lyrics come along. Until then, go with the completely free RapKey and start texting everybody you know some rap lyrics.

RapKey - Ativ Patel


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Kendrick’s King Kunta Has Come.

King Kunta is here.

This is the 3rd song that we’ve heard from Kendrick that we know is gonna be on To Pimp A Butterfly. This is the one Pharrell was talking about a few months ago, so expectations are high. With the release of the album approaching in less than 10 days now, let’s see if King Kunta holds it down. My opinion is that it definitely does hold it down. Listen to it here.


The sound

Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A ButterflyThe track starts with a simple beat that only has a few funky elements. Kendrick’s flow at the very beginning is pretty much the exact same flow as he uses in i near the end where the track switches it up, and it’s definitely high energy. King Kunta is supposed to be Kendrick as Kunta Kinte in a Blaxploitation movie, and Kendrick is mad, starting the track with “I got a bone to pick!” Kendrick’s mad but not stressed — talking about how folks are trynna cut his legs off cause he’s running the game and got the whole world talking. Kendrick doesn’t miss a beat while he sounds like he’s strutting down the street (which will probably be the track’s video, if it has one.)

The yams

When the rest of the beat leaks in, it stays slow and funky but hits another level, and it sounds like Kendrick’s been rapping for that beat the whole time. This shit really sounds like Kendrick was trynna make a hip hop track like Parliament Funkadelic would have made, and it sounds like it came out sometime in the ’80s, definitely not 2015. Anyways, Kendrick talks a lot about the yams. You might ask, “what’s the yams?” But it’s ok because so does the hook. Kendrick answers the yams are the powers that be… what brought it out of Richard Pryor and manipulated Bill Clinton with desires.

Kendrick Lamar

Photo: highsnobiety.com

The beat then drops out and barely backs up Kendrick with anything before it comes in and he shouts out Smooth Criminal. Then with a gunshot, you’re promised that the funk will soon be within you, and by the end it definitely is with Kendrick ducking out for a guitar solo and pure funk. Then, in one last reference to the yams, Kendrick ends the track with “I remember you was conflicted. Misusing your influence.” Shit’s deep, whether he’s talking to himself or celebrities in general. Once the track’s over you’re gonna start it again right away, trust me. That beat gets in your head.


What you think?

I think this is the best track so far that we know is gonna be on To Pimp A Butterfly, and I love The Blacker The Berry but I gotta go with King Kunta. It’s not only the dopest track that’ll be on Kendrick’s album, this is one of the dopest/funkiest rap tracks I’ve heard in a while. This track also tells us that Kendrick’s album is for sure gonna be unapologetically black, but that it’ll also be about fame and some other things, not just blackness. This track really makes me wish the rest of the album would just drop already, but I got it preordered so I’ma have it the second it comes. If you wanna preorder for yourself or check out the tracklist/other thoughts I have on To Pimp A Butterfly, scope.


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Surprise Freddie Gibbs EP – Pronto

Gangsta Gibbs dropped an EP

The EP is called Pronto, and it’s only got 3 tracks.  The album cover has a Gibbs of a different color for each track on the EP. Freddie Gibbs dropped it for the fans who are waiting for his next album after the mad dope work he and Madlib did on Piñata. Shit’s only 3 bucks so you know I had to buy it to let y’all know how it is. I never expect anything less than dope from Freddie Gibbs, and this EP delivers. The beats are pretty varied but mostly keep it chill, while Freddie Gibbs shows off how versatile he is with his flexible flow. For less than $5 this is a nice EP for when you’re just trynna kick it.

Freddie Gibbs - Pronto

Get ready for the best 12 minutes of your day.


Pronto

The EP starts with the titular track, a slow spacey vibe and Gibbs asking “what you trippin on?” The beat comes in hard, and Gibbs start spitting some shit about how dope but also real he and his life are. His flow is a little different than that typical flow where he’s real neat and doesn’t leave any vowel unrhymed. I love that flow, but it’s dope to hear him switch it up and kill it in the process. From the first track, he confirms that his delivery is maybe the dopest in the game. This is the hypest track on the EP, but because of the spacey vibe it stays pretty chill.

White Range

Freddie Gibbs smoking

Photo: mtvhive.com

White Range starts with that dark back alley vibe, but then it smooths out a bit into some jazzier shit. It sets the chill tone for Gibbs to lay that smoking track down while his incense burns. If all stoner rap was this dope, the world would be a better place, cause Gangsta Gibbs is just on a higher level than most of these weed rappers. He switches between boastful to introspective on this track, but the beat keeps it on some sleepy shit the whole time. This is the dopest track on Pronto, and if you’re like me you’ll probably be listening to it a lot for a bit.

Diamonds (feat. Dana Williams)

The last track on the EP (remember, it’s only 3 tracks) keeps it slow, which means this shit is for when you’re cooling and not trynna get hype or anything, even while Gibbs talks about how he’s grinding for them diamonds or packing for them soldiers. Then he speeds up a bit while the beat stays slow before he drops back down to the clouds. This is pretty representative of the whole EP: the beats stay mad chill (besides the first track, which still lays pretty low) while Gibbs alternates between cooling and going hard. Pronto just tells us what we already knew– that he’s one of the best rappers in the game at any speed. Dana Williams closes the EP with some nice backing vocals, bringing some soul into the track.


Pronto is dope.

The surprise EP from Freddie Gibbs definitely delivers, and fans should be happy. In fact, the only thing that’s really disappointing about this is how short it is, but I don’t hold that against Gibbs or anything, I just wish there were more tracks. I seriously listened to this shit like 3 times in a row cause it’s so short but so dope. It definitely makes me wish his album would come out now, and it’s a smart way for Freddie Gibbs to make sure folks don’t forget about him cause he’s undeniably dope. If you got $3, might as well throw it to one of the hottest rappers doing it.

Pronto - EP - Freddie Gibbs


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Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly

To Pimp A Butterfly

Looks like Kendrick’s next album not only has artwork, but it has a name now too. To Pimp A Butterfly will be the name of Kendrick’s album, and Kendrick revealed it as part of a larger Instagram caption to his album cover. If you’ve read/seen To Kill A Mockingbird, you get the reference:

“Don’t all dogs go to heaven? Don’t Gangsta’s boogie? Do owl shit stank? Lions, Tigers & Bears. But TO PIMP A BUTTERFLY. It’s the American dream nigga….” – lil Homie.

Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly

So now that we know I was totally wrong about whether the album would have artwork and a name, let’s talk about To Pimp A Butterfly.


i

So, much like the name and artwork, it looks like I was wrong about i too. According to Rolling Stone, i will be on the album after all and it’ll be paired with a track called u, so I guess that makes sense. i’s track time still doesn’t match any of the track times (for the still-unnamed tracks on the album) on iTunes, but maybe a few seconds will be added at the end or something to make it flow better with the album.

I still don’t think i is Kendrick’s best track, but it is a dope track so I’m fine with it being on the album if it is after all. If both i and The Blacker The Berry are on the album, that just means it’ll be a mad diverse album with a few different sounds and feels. Considering it’s got a solid 16 tracks on it, there will be a lot of time for Kendrick to explore some different musical styles and messages, and I can’t wait to see what he’s put together.

Kendrick Lamar

Photo: rap-up.com

The rest

The Blacker The Berry still gives us the best insight into the album, I think. The cover (a bunch of black boys and men mean mugging, holding money and bottles standing over a dead judge in front of the White House) is nothing short of radical, and I think this album will be unapologetically black. In fact, that’s exactly what Pharrell said about King Kunta, which is one of the tracks that’s gonna be on To Pimp A Butterfly.

Also, remember the untitled performance from The Colbert Report? I assume that won’t be on the album, but it might tell us something about the general direction Kendrick is going. That performance was racially charged in the vein of The Blacker The Berry, and I think that’s the vibe we can expect to come from To Pimp A Butterfly. Not just that Kendrick will talk about race and recent racial events in it, but also that he’ll bring his own unique perspective as a black man from Compton who calls himself a hypocrite.

Kendrick Lamar

Photo: i-d.vice.com

UPDATE: Tracklist

Well folks, looks like we’ve got a tracklist #NoFeatures.

  1. Wesley’s Theory
  2. For Free? (Interlude)
  3. King Kunta 4
  4. Institutionalized
  5. These Walls
  6. u
  7. Alright
  8. For Sale? (Interlude)
  9. Momma
  10. Hood Politics
  11. How Much A Dollar Cost
  12. Complexion
  13. The Blacker The Berry
  14. You Ain’t Gotta Lie (Momma Said)
  15. i
  16. Mortal Man

I’m mad hyped just from that tracklist. It sounds like he’s gonna go at a lot of cultural issues (Institutionalized, Hood Politics) harder than he ever has. And if it’s really no features, we can expect Kendrick to go damn hard. This also confirms that i will be on the album, so I guess it’s just a matter of waiting until we hear u to see where he’s going with this.


Time to wait

Well, now that you got a name and artwork what are you waiting for? Gon and preorder this shit, especially considering it’ll be 16 tracks for $15, that shit’s old iTunes pricing right there and you really can’t pass it up. If you somehow decide you don’t want the album before it drops you can cancel your preorder, so there’s no commitment. But if you want The Blacker The Berry right now and to wake up on March 23rd with a shiny new Kendrick album downloaded to your phone, go ahead and preorder To Pimp A Butterfly on iTunes.

To Pimp a Butterfly - Kendrick Lamar


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