Sunday, May 12, 2013

Digging for Gold: Some Good Music that I've Stumbled Upon

1) Lou & Maze Rockwell

2) Vtov-"Amongst the Stars"
3) K9-"Rawthentizm"
4) Akala-"Fire in the Booth"

5) Phryme Element ft. Lou-"Just Keep Doing You"

That's Funny: Great Youtube Comedians that You Should Check Out

Here are some great Youtube channels that you can go to if you need a laugh.

WARNING: Viewer Discretion is advised.

1) xlNowhereManlx (

2) BI00dBlitz (

3) LilDthecomic aka D Explains it all (

4) Dormtainment (

5) Ricky Shucks aka iBeShucks (

6) TimothyDeLaGhetto2 (

7) Magic of Rahat (

8) Gabriel Iglesias aka Hot & Fluffy Comedy (

9) Tre Melvin aka This is a Commentary (

10) Spoken Reasons (

Not Your Typical B.S.: 15 Examples of Rap Albums that Break the Usual Stereotypes

As you already know, Hip-Hop music is no stranger to controversy. It's been heavily criticized and defended for years. It has been accused of not being 'real' music, due to the fact that a lot of rappers don't play instruments. Along with that, it has been stereotyped as being an ignorant, misogynistic, violent, and negative form of Black Music. Well, I certainly can say that some of it is like that. What I can also say is the fact that people don't look at the big picture when they criticize it. They refuse to acknowledge (or are simply ignorant to) the fact that not every rapper is about those things. With that being said, I would like to shed some light on some albums that aren't considered when bringing up criticism about Hip-Hop music.

1) Q-Tip: The Renaissance (2008)


If you're a fan of A Tribe Called Quest, you should be familiar with who The Abstract is. After ATCQ disbanded in 1998, Q-Tip embarked on a solo career starting with his solo debut Amplified in 1999. Due to clashing perspectives between he and his record label, his next album, Kamaal/The Abstract was shelved for seven years until it was released in 2009. Meanwhile, Q-Tip began working on his next album in hopes of avoiding the same result. The Renaissance was released on December 4, 2008 (the same day that Barrack Obama was elected president) to nearly universal acclaim, even nabbing a Grammy nomination in the process. With Q-Tip's creative production and light-hearted ('Gettin' Up', 'Life is Better') yet serious ('You', 'We Fight/We Love') lyrics, he managed to craft a timeless album in a day and age where most rap albums are 10% 'hot' singles and 90% filler; where you are rated as 'good' based on how many people kiss up to you in your 15 minutes of fame. This is an album that you can definitely play over and over again without getting tired of it. Highly recommended for newcomers to rap, whether out of curiosity or misunderstood hatred.   

2) Lupe Fiasco: Food & Liquor (2006)


Similar to Q-Tip, Lupe Fiasco managed to burst onto the mainstream scene in 2006 with a rare gem in Food & Liquor. Even more rare is the fact that it came from someone so young  (24 at the time of the album's release) when everyone was too busy being caught up the Crunk phase. With layered, symphony-infused production, Lupe managed to capitalize on it, touching on the topics of inner-city black struggle ('Just May Be Ok', 'Hurt Me Soul', 'Daydreamin'), pop culture conformity ('The Instrumental'), a brief relationship with a girl ('Sunshine') and fatherhood cowardice ('He Say She Say'). He also manages to show off his braggadocio side ('I Gotcha') and his superb storytelling ('Kick, Push', 'The Cool', Kick, Push II). With this album, Lupe Fiasco shows that he doesn't have to dumb himself down in order to turn some heads.

3) Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth: The Main Ingredient (1994)


It's no surprise that Hip-Hop music is stereotyped as thinking of woman as nothing but sex toys. With songs like this and this, I'm not surprised to see people roll their eyes whenever rap music is brought up. Enter Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth. They are no stranger to popularity, endorsing Sprite commercials and making arguably the greatest rap song ever. Already gaining respect with their first two albums, Pete and C.L. released their magnum opus as a duo with The Main Ingredient in 1994. Pete Rock makes heads nod with his soulful East Coast style production, while C.L. Smooth kicks rhymes about searching for romance ('Seaching'), being a ladies man ('Caramel City', 'Take You There', 'I Got a Love') and just the simple pleasure of rapping ('In the House', 'Get on the Mic'). With his original flow and delivery, C.L. Smooth manages to be female friendly while still getting respect from Hip-Hop heads. Unfortunately, this would be last album released before the duo split in 1995. Pick this album up if you need some refreshing, laid back Hip-Hop music.

4) The Roots: Things Fall Apart (1999)


Along with having the illusion of all rap being full of nonsense lyrics, a lot of people would not even consider Rap music, well, music. One reason being because 'they don't play their own instruments'. How much would you like to bet that they've never heard of The Roots? With Black Thought and Dice Raw handling most of the vocals and ?estlove and the rest of the crew playing the instruments, The Roots thoroughly shined in their fourth studio album. Black Thought effortlessly flows over the instrumentation with his rugged yet earnest voice and sophisticated lyrics. He spends  a lot of time just bragging and kicking amazing rhymes ('The Next Movement', 'Adrenaline!', 'Double Trouble', 'Without a Doubt'), but also professes the groups' love for Hip-Hop with Common ('Act Too (Love of My Life)') and the ills of being in a loving yet distrustful relationship ('You Got Me'). It even features a poem at the end of the album ('Return to Innocence Lost'). If you know someone who needs a bit of insight on unconventional rap music, this is the album that you should suggest.

5) Mos Def: Black On Both Sides (1999)


When not acting in Dexter or for the movie 16 Blocks, Mos Def is known for his signature form of entertainment, which is MC'ing. After generating buzz from a guest appearance on De La Soul's album fourth album Stakes is High, Mos Def teamed up with Talib Kweli to make the Underground classic Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Blackstar in 1998. From there, he proceeded to craft his magnum opus, Black on Both Sides, which was released on October 12, 1999. From beginning to end, Mos Def lets his multiple talents and intelligent social commentary shine. Whether it's shrugging off the threat of the greedy mentality of world governments ('Fear Not of Man'), rhyming about corporations who pollute water just to purify and resell it for profit ('New World Water'), giving out warnings to overly flashy dudes in the 'hood ('Got'), addressing the issue of racism ('Mr. Nigga'), connecting statistics with race ('Mathematics'), or even simply expressing his love for Hip-Hop ('Love'), Mos Def manages to create a beautifully crafted work of musical art. Along with that, Mos Def does a pretty good job at singing on this record ('Umi Says', 'Climb'). This is highly recommended to anyone who is tired of the rampant gangsta acts in Hip-Hop music or to anyone who has misinformed criticism.

6) Rakim: The 18th Letter (1997)


After the legendary duo Eric B. & Rakim split in 1992, Rakim went on a five year hiatus from music. In 1997, Rakim released his solo debut album, The 18th Letter. In the album, Rakim speaks on his hiatus from Hip-Hop music in five different skits. This may be of a nuisance to some, but it is not really something that drags the album down. On this LP, Rakim shakes off the dust from his holdout and does what he is known for doing: effortlessly flowing over rugged production with multi-syllable internal rhymes. This is most apparent on tracks such as 'The 18th Letter: Always & Forever', 'When I'm Flowin'','It's Been a Long Time',    
'Guess Who's Back', and 'The Saga Begins'. There are two things that should be noted about Rakim. One, because he has absolutely outstanding lyrical skill, he has a tendency to avoid profanity (that's why this album, along with pretty much his entire discography with Eric B., doesn't have a 'parental advisory' sticker). Two, he, like Q-Tip, C.L. Smooth, and Black Thought, can be female friendly without having to dumb down. This is the most obvious on the two tracks 'Stay Awhile' and 'Show Me Love'. He also manages to drop some knowledge about the origins of humanity with the track 'The Mystery: Who is God?'. All in all, The 18th Letter exemplifies Rakim's skills on the mic and shows why he is truly considered the G.O.A.T.

7) Del the Funky Homosapien: Deltron 3030 (2000)


After Del the Funky Homosapien released I Wish my Brother George Was Here and helped Hieroglyphics establish an "alternative" West Coast Rap scene with the album Third Eye Vision, he collaborated with Dan the Automator and released Deltron 3030 in 2000. The album takes place in a dystopia in the year 3030. With Del's sophisticated rhyme schemes and Dan the Automator's futuristic production, the two manage to create a wonderfully weird, creative, outer space-type record. Seriously, this sounds like it could be the Rap soundtrack for NASA. The grand examples off of this album include 'Deltron 3030', 'Positive Contact', 'Virus', 'Upgrade (A Brymar College Course)', 'Mastermind', 'Madness', 'Time Keeps on Slipping', and 'Turbulence'. If you like Star Trek, Star Wars, Prometheus, or any other story of space odysseys and don't mind that concept being applied to music, check this out, pronto.    

(Fun facts: Del the Funky Homosapien is Ice Cube's cousin. He is also a close associate of the musical artists named Gorillaz.)

8) Lauryn Hill: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)


Coming into 1998, Lauryn Hill had already left a great impression with the second and final Fugees album The Score. With the widespread praise from that album having past, she began work on her debut solo release. There was already a large amount of hype being built into this record. And when she released The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in 1998, man, did she deliver. From beginning to end, L Boogie goes all out with her talent. Whether it be rapping ('Final Hour', 'Lost Ones'), soulful ballads ('Ex Factor', 'To Zion), or anything in between ('Everything is Everything', 'Forgive them Father', 'Doo Wop (That Thing)', 'Superstar'), Lauryn proves that not only can she hold it down with the best of the best in both R&B and Rap, but that she can also make arguably one of the greatest musical albums at the same time. You don't even have to like Rap to love this album. But, if you do hold antipathy for Hip-Hop music (or if you're looking for classic Rap music), you should buy this album.
9) Aquemini (1998)


Similar to The Roots, Outkast breaks the notion that Rap music cannot be musically creative. This is most evident on their third album Aquemini. In this album, Andre 3000 and Big Boi put their heads together and execute one of the most successfully experimental Rap albums ever. The album kicks off with a smooth intro made by session guitarist Donny Mathis ('Hold On, Be Strong') before quickly getting into the meat of the album. In Aquemini, Outkast goes back to their musical roots and address various issues on morality, whether it be negative criticism about them changing up their style ('Return of the G'), the dangers of selling drugs ('Slump'), the cons of modern technological advancement ('Synthesizer'), or dealing with potential issue of musical irrelevance ('Aquemini'). Outkast further goes into this with songs such as 'Da Art of Storytelling (Part 1)', 'Da Art of Storytelling (Part 2)', and 'Liberation'. With all of that going on, they still manage to squeeze in party songs ('Rosa Parks', 'Skew it on the Bar-B') and odes to their southern style of Hip-Hop music ('West Savannah', 'SpottieOttieDopalicious'). If you like music that is unapologetically creative, you should pick this album up and give it a try.       

10) Queen Latifah: All Hail the Queen (1989)


Females seem like they can't get a break in Hip-Hop music. If you look at almost any popular music video nowadays, it seems like females are just background decorations. It wasn't like that with Queen Latifah, the prime example being this album. Queen Latifah kicks off the albums with a fast-paced intro ('Dance With Me') before really getting into her lyrical prowess ('Mama Gave Birth to the Children','Latifah's Law', 'Wrath  of My Madness','The Pros'). She also raps over a House-style beat ('Come into my House') and doesn't hesitate to team up with Monie Love to make an ode to femininity, ('Ladies First') especially Black women. This is a great album that you should check out if you want to see a female dominate the microphone.  

11) Blackstar: Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Blackstar (1998)


Who says that Rap can't be both good and intelligent? Mos Def & Talib Kweli don't think so. While they were still early in the underground circuit, Mos Def and Talib Kweli got together to form the duo known as Blackstar. In 1998, the two released an album named Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Blackstar. This album is filled to brim with the two rapping about their philosophies, their take on morality, and Afrocentric knowledge. This is most evident on the tracks 'Astronomy (8th Light)', 'Definition', 'RE:DEFinition', 'K.O.S. (Determination)', 'Respiration', and 'Thieves in the Night'. The two also express their frustration about the materialistic and capricious mindset of some people involved in Hip-Hop music ('Children's Story', 'Hater Players'). Like Rakim, C.L. Smooth, and Q-Tip, they can make female-friendly songs without making their music watered down ('Brown Skin Lady'). This record is definitely worth a try, especially if you are someone (like me) who wants to increase their IQ through music.

12) The Pharcyde: Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde (1992)


Just like Del's album Deltron 3030, The Pharcyde managed to leave an undeniable impact on both the West Coast and overall Rap scene with their 1992 group debut, Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde. On this LP, The Pharcyde decided to take a different direction from the Gangsta Rap acts on the West Coast (Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, N.W.A., Eazy E, Snoop Dogg, etc.) and craft a mostly silly, carefree record. The biggest examples of this are on the tracks 'Oh Sh**', '4 Better of 4 Worse', 'Officer' 'Soul Flower (Remix)', 'Ya Mama', and 'I'm that Type of Nigga'. Besides their sense of humor, they also fret about tales of masturbation, murder in self-defense ('On the DL'), and lost love/hopeless crushes ('Passin' Me By', 'Otha Fish'). If you aren't hip to any Gangsta/Hardcore Rap acts, or if you love classic Rap, I highly recommend this album.

(Fun facts: this is Kanye West's favorite album. Megan fox is also a fan. Along with that, Passin' Me By was featured in NBA 2k9 and 'Officer' was featured in the Freedom Writer's soundtrack.) 

13) Arrested Development: 3 Years, 5 Months, and 2 Days in the Life of.... (1992)


While everyone was jumping on the Gangsta Rap bandwagon in the early '90's, Arrested Development decided to stay true to themselves and their musical style. And everyone seemed to love for it. In 1992, amiss the rise of West Coast dominance, Arrested Development released 3 Years, 5 Months, and 2 Days, in the Life of... This album features light-hearted, Afrocentric vibes coupled with Speech's harshly true yet positive lyricism. The rest of the crew does a great job of putting that extra touch of soul on the music. Songs that do the best job at this are 'Tennessee', 'Mr. Wendal', and 'People Everyday' If you want music that takes a drastically different direction from the usual, pick this up and press play.

14) Common: Be (2005)


While recovering from the commercial and critical flop Electric Circus, Common regrouped himself and teamed up with Kanye West and J Dilla afterwards to start work on his next album, Be. You can really tell that Common took his time on this album. When the first song comes on ('Be'), it sets the tone for the album. Common does what he does best: lyrically portray the Black experience in America, whether it be describing the urban pride in hanging out on the street corner ('The Corner'), getting intimate with a freaky woman ('Go!'), staying faithful in a relationship ('Faithful'), the trouble that Black men have with expressing love ('Love Is...'), or just everyday people ('Real People'). He also throws in a story about a backstabbing female in court ('Testify'), a song where he frets about people who exploit Rap music ('Chi-City'), and a track about both Blacks in the ghetto who've had their dreams crushed due to unfortunate circumstances and a bunch of kids announcing their future plans in like followed by an inspirational message. If you aren't already a fan of Common, get this album to get a taste of  his legacy.        

15) The Pharcyde: Labcabincalifornia (1995)


After The Pharcyde turned heads with Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde, they changed up their style and matured to release Labcabincalifornia in 1995. The album starts off with a surreal yet bass-heavy intro ('Bullsh**') in which The Pharcyde uses as a "warm-up" track. They then proceed into the next song, which they use as an anthem to their music and their unity ('Pharcyde'). In this record, they touch on various topics regarding their new-found fame and adult life, which include problems with groupies ('Groupie Therapy'), an ode to struggle and comeuppance ('Runnin''), romance ('She Said'), retaining quality in their music ('Something that Means Something'), questions about the detours that people take in life ('Y?'), deceased family members ('Moment in Time'), hustling ('The Hustle'), and their concerns about the direction that society is going ('Devil Music','The E.N.D.). The only two missteps come in the tracks 'Splattitorium' and 'Little D'. Overall, this is one of the most underrated Rap albums ever. This would be the last time all four Pharcyde members did an album together. Fatlip was kicked out because of drug issues and SlimKid3 left right before the release of their third album Plain Rap in 2000. If you would like a break from the stereotypical Rap norms, or if you just like good music in the form of Rap, check this out. 

(Fun fact: 'Runnin'' was featured on the 8 Mile soundtrack and has been sampled by Mya and Wiz Khalifa.)

In conclusion, this is only a taste of the creativity in Rap. Other examples include pretty much anything from A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, or Public Enemy. Hopefully people will give these records a chance and listen to them.