Jhene Aiko – Bed Peace ft. Childish Gambino

jhene aiko

 

The attractive songstress of most recently “Beware” fame, dropped a catchy song featuring Childish Gambino.  “Bed Peace” is going to be on her upcoming Sail Out EP.

Aiko has been around for quite some time, originally lending vocals to B2K tracks.  A solo album originally scheduled for 2007 was never put out due to label issues, leaving all the music under wraps.  Her re-emergence began when “July”, which Drake was also on, made its way to the internet.  Sailing Out was a good listen, her mixtape that came out around the same time.  The soft and melodic voice she uses is a perfect fit for a pop star mold.  Comparisons could be made to other current pop artists, such as Ciara.

Here’s to hoping Sail Out is a classic.

-Ronzo

 

 

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Sunday G-Funk #4: Ice Cube – Death Certificate

Ice Cube - Death Certificate

 

This album right here is a classic.  Few albums represent West Coast Gangster Rap as well as this collection of tracks did.  Not even Cube’s other classic album, AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted represented quite like this one.  

It was because of how real he made it sound.  The violent ideas strung throughout the songs are commonplace these days, with many Hip-Hop artists leaning on gangster influences to make catchy music.  But back in this time, it made an impact.  The raw stories of street life, such as the drug dealing tale on “A Bird In the Hand” was too frightening for many mainstream music fans.  So naturally, Death Certificate became controversial, very similar to what happened to his debut album.

What it lacks in single power, the album makes up for in creativity and cohesiveness.  While violent and controversial at times, Cube’s writing is also meant to teach and inspire.  His method involves showing the bad to teach about the positive.  As he explains himself during the intro, the album is split into two sides: the Death, and the Life.

Ice Cube must have been inspired to change the Hip-Hop game, and himself at the same time.  I mention personal change because of his actions in his past N.W.A. days, a time full of angst and motivation to prove the law, or anyone else telling him what to do, wrong.  That attitude carries into AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted, all the way until Death Certificate.  What could have been the major difference is Ice Cube’s involvement in the game growing rapidly, including his appearance on (the heavily Hip-Hop influenced) Boyz N’ Da Hood.  A view from the other side of the screen, as well as an increase in age and maturity gave him a different perspective.  

nwa

 

Whatever it was, it worked.  Death Certificate went Platinum the same year it dropped, and also years later received accolades as being one of the best Hip-Hop albums of all time from countless sources.  MTV, The Source, About.com, and Vibe are all included.

Wait, You Mean Ice Cube the Family Movie Actor, Right?

Yes it is true.  Ice Cube has come a very long way since 1991.  He spends most of his time picking up movie roles and being a family man.  But hey, the man is an OG.  Nobody can rap forever, you have to start doing something else at some point.  The irony is still quite goofy, though.

-Ronzo

J. Cole – Crooked Smile (The Making Of)

J-Cole

 

“Crooked Smile” isn’t one of my favorites off of Born Sinner, but that’s okay.  It’s catchy as hell, and it’s only one part of a superb album.  Plus, the meaning behind it is meant to be positive; It would be unfair to say it doesn’t serve a purpose.  The radio hit relates to many people throughout the U.S., and the whole world in general.

In this short video, Jermaine explains the details behind what inspired the tune.  Whether it was random inspiration (meeting a girl he’d never seen, who eventually inspired the hook melody), or his own desire to succeed, you can tell he put everything into the lyrics he wrote.

LIFE & RHYMES: J. Cole – “Crooked Smile”

-Ronzo

Monday Grooves (Back and kickin)

groooovin

 

Welcome to another edition of Monday Grooves, ladies and gentlemen.  Quite a lot has happened since my previous Monday Grooves post. New albums, cooked beef (Drake and Kendrick), and even a wildly entertaining Kanye interview.

Now that just scratches the surface, though.  The Hip-Hop world is alive and kicking, with all sorts of up-and-coming artists making waves.  Now, this does mean there’s a whole lot of songs for me to choose from to put on here today.  However, no matter what I pick, here are three tracks that are guaranteed to keep your week groovy.

 

Dom Kennedy – If It Don’t Make Money (feat. Skeme)

Get Home Safely had high expectations, especially around these parts.  The album is pure dope and features everything we love about the smooth rapper from the West Coast.  Props Dom, it’s been hard to live up to expectations for an album this year.

“If it Don’t Make Money” is one of my favorites off the project, with swag levels to the max.  The hustle is very apparent within the bars of this track, as Skeme and Dom both represent hard work and dedication.  On a side note, it’s nice to finally hear something big from Skeme, who for some reason has been very reclusive lately.  The West Coast is on the rise, and it’s certainly not gonna stop any time soon.

 

Problem ft. Bad Lucc – Like Whaaat

Usually I get tired of a heavily played radio track very quickly.  It gets old after I hear it for the 5th or 6th time that day.  This is the reason I’ve always used a CD player in my car, listening to endless amounts of rap mixes.  Unfortunately, circumstances lately have led to my CD player to break, forcing me to use the radio.

This song has been one of my favorites that I’ve heard on the air, and I’m still not tired of it.  The hook is infectious, the beat reps the Bay Area, and you just can’t help but root for Problem as he makes his way up the West Coast food chain.  It was good to see both him and Bad Lucc in the BET Hip-Hop Awards Cypher, and I’m sure we’ll see plenty more of him.

 

The Diplomats – Dipset Anthem

You knew I had to throw in the old school favorite.  The Diplomats formed their own sound back during the Roc-A-Fella hayday, and the best way I can explain it would be referring to it as “Ghetto Extravagance”.  Cam’ron, Juelz Santana, and the rest of the crew found clever ways to display Gangster attitudes with humor mixed in.  I’m pretty sure if Cam’ron wasn’t a rapper he’d be a stand-up comedian.

Anyways, Diplomatic Immunity is a gem and should be added to any serious Hip-Hop fan’s collection.

-Ronzo

Sunday G-Funk #5: Kurupt – Tha Streetz Iz a Mutha

kurupt_-_tha_streetz_iz_a_mutha-front

 

I’ve got a bevvy of updates for you this week, so stay tuned! I know it’s been awhile since I did Sunday G-Funk, but here I am finally back at it.  Apologies, been quite busy lately.

The top 5 is reserved especially for the best G-Funk West Coast abums history has brought us. Tha Streetz Iz a Mutha fits perfectly into that category, as Kurupt’s first critically revered solo release.  His previous release, Kuruption! reached gold status but failed to meet the lofty expectations certainly brought on by his past success as a feature artist on classic Death Row records.  Streetz reached gold status as well, but once again failed to meet sales expectations.  Losing distribution from A&M Records due to corporate mergers contributed heavily to the sales problem.

But hey, sales aren’t everything right? Because the abum is incredible regardless.  Kurupt’s lyricism throughout stays intelligent and creative while still giving off the laid-back West Coast Gangsta vibe.  Who can forget that “Xxplosive” verse from Chronic 2001?  This talent was rare among Death Row, as the majority of the roster featured Hip-Hop artists who were more suited for groovy Gangster Rap with no requirement for complex lyricism.  My favorite track, “Streetz Iz a Mutha” (which I previously mentioned in a Monday Grooves post) is quite a great jewel on this album and features exactly the kind of hardcore complex lyricism I’m talking about.

One of the biggest questions when Kurupt went solo, as is the biggest question with many group artists who go solo, is if they can succeed off their own musical ability.  There’s not exactly an abundant number of artists throughout history who did this, especially in Hip-Hop music, so I can imagine expectations were lofty and the sky was the limit.

While there’s no question Kurupt sounds the best when he’s over a Daz Dillinger beat, the most talented lyricists, in the end, need to prove their versatility over different styles of production.  Some may hate it, some may love it, but spectators of all sorts definitely respect a talented musician.  Soopafly, Bink!, Dr. Dre, and Organized Noize all provided sound for the project, producing many dope beats along the way

Sticking with his roots, Tha Streetz Iz a Mutha features not one, not two, but six Daz beats.  Even with 18 tracks on a project, that is still quite a large number from one producer.  After the collapse of Death Row and the murder of 2Pac, the heavy involvement between the two artists was surely encouraging to Dogg Pound fans everywhere.

“Trylogy”, “Ya Can’t Trust Nobody”, and the posse cut featuring Snoop Dogg, and Daz Dillinger (among others) “Represent Dat G.C.” are other classic cuts off the album.  

One last thing to mention is Kurupt’s love for calling out whack rappers in the industry and starting beef with them.  Starting from his foray into the East Coast – West Coast rivalry with Tha Dogg Pound’s “New York, New York”, Kurupt was designed for battle.  Streetz is no exception, as the final track “Calling Out Names” sends shots to the frequently disliked Ja Rule, and DMX.  Poor Ja Rule, I’ll never understand why he inspires so much hatred.

-Ronzo

Back at It

Dopamine Knights

Finally the moment you guys have all been waiting for, the release of Sunday Meds 2.  Here is the first song, “Back at It”, returning the Knights right back to where we left off.

As usual, we’ll be releasing new music every week right in time for all of your debauchery and wild weekend activities.  The fun is only just beginning! Check out “Back at It” right here:

P.S.- Artwork coming very soon!

-Ronzo