A Whole Lot of TDE in 2014

top dawg

With the year TDE is expected to have, all members of the label should have plenty of time to golf and do other rich people activities.

The leader of TDE, Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith has turned the hip-hop world on its ear with all of the high profile news he’s been releasing since the beginning of the year.  Plus, with Oxymoron (Schoolboy Q’s debut, projected to be number one on the charts by March 5th) officially out now, this is sure looking to be TDE’s year.

First, this news came to end 2013.  It’s a bold claim, sure, but completely reasonable especially because of new signees Isaiah Rashad and SZA.

To start 2014 off, Rashad dropped his Cilvia Demo project.  It’s a surprisingly thorough album, with a deep tale of his upbringing.  The brash young rapper plays between an aggressive style and a soulful one, without having his lyrics suffer.  Not to mention, his style is perfect for the “elegant” (just my own description) banger beats provided to him.

I like this guy’s swagger, and he’s got a knack for making catchy hooks that have a little bounce to them.  It’s kind of like when you know that something just feels right. Nothing but promise on the horizon.

Here’s where it gets really good…

Now, about Oxymoron. It was good.  Really good.  The type of TDE brilliance you would expect.  Through all of the different things that happened to have the album delayed, I can say now that it was well worth the wait.

“Man of the Year” and “Studio” are fantastic tracks ready to jam out with, while “Hoover Street” and “Perscription/Oxymoron” give introspective looks to the trials and tribulations of Groovy Q’s turbulent history.  Even tracks like “Break the Bank”, which admittedly I wasn’t too keen on before the album, fits nicely into the atmosphere as a whole.

Black Hippy is full of talented lyricists, each with their own flavor.  It has been dope to see the musical evolution of all of them, continuing to impress with each new release.

But wait…there’s gotta be something else….

Just when you thought that everything was going according to plan, as you sit there satisfied with that new Isaiah Rashad and Schoolboy Q, the fantastic news keeps coming.

Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith and co-president of TDE Dave Free reveal in this latest Billboard interview that not only is a Kendrick album dropping in September, there’s also a Black Hippy album coming!

WHAT

Not to downplay Kendrick’s upcoming release, that’s great news in itself.  But this Black Hippy project news was not expected.  Not after Ab-Soul spent so much time denying that there would be one.

Not after it seemed solo releases were the main focus.

Not after there has been almost no mention of this until now.

After all this time, one of the “collaborations supposed to happen” albums is finally getting created.  “What better time than now?” has to be the thought at the TDE headquarters, as the crew is at the top of the Hip-Hop game.

Now if only some of these other supposed collaborations previously talked about would drop already (looking at you J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar).

Soooo, what can we expect then?

Expectations are high for this album, to say the least.  “Say Wassup” is still one of my favorite songs released in the past 5 years, and I have every reason to believe that the group debut album will be right along those lines.

It really comes down to how they approach it. Official Black Hippy tracks, with each member adding a verse, has been a dream for Hip-Hop heads for quite some time, so those will be in high demand.  Each artist has evolved a whole lot, and it will be interesting to see how their new styles match up.  It’s safe to say that the sound of this upcoming project will be quite different than the days of “Zip That, Chop That”.

This should be good.

I’m excited for it, and I hope you are too.  This is gonna be a good year in Hip-Hop, and TDE is leading the way.

-Ronzo

*******

UPDATE: HitsDailyDouble now has proof of Schoolboy Q’s number one album, as Oxymoron has sold 138,000 copies in its first week.  You guessed it, that’s a number one album on the Billboard 200 charts.  Congratulations Q!

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Mykestro – Set Precedent (LA Mix) ft. Kendrick Lamar

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Boy, do I love straight rap tracks.  Nothing but bars, please.  The catchy hooks, deep subject matter, and delivery is definitely important, but it’s almost always refreshing to hear an MC just plain go in.  Not to mention, when you get a Kendrick Lamar feature, you better make sure you get those bars up.  After all, you don’t want to get “Controlled”

This description of Mykestro is pretty accurate:

His name is Mykestro, and his rhymes come together -something like a superglued jenga set.

That’s right in the description of the song here on Soundcloud, and the proof is in the pudding.  Over a funky beat produced by Georgia Anne Muldrow, perfect for that bounce, both MCs trade dope verses.  This one’s perfect if you’re into lyricism as much as I am.

Be sure to check out the Set Precedent EP.

-Ronzo

 

 

Quick Update 8/20/13

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While the Hip-Hop world for the past week have been marveling at the lyricism of Kendrick Lamar, there are many great tracks dropping left and right, especially within the past couple days.

Kendrick isn’t the only one making noise in the Black Hippy crew; Schoolboy Q is building hype for his upcoming album Oxymoron.  He’s even considering this upcoming project to be some of the best music he’s made so far.

Wiz Khalifa is making music again after a brief but unusual hiatus from the rap game.  This partially because of his recent wedding with Amber Rose, who actually just posted quite an interesting video.  

Check out the latest from Wiz, with smoked out raps over a classic Sledgren beat in preparation for his Blacc Hollywood project.

A new Curren$y track with Harry Fraud just surfaced recently, “Audio Dope 4”.  The combination which is quickly becoming a match made in heaven, are back at it again.  The two have very similar laid-back styles, and certainly know how to bring the correct vibe to any smoker’s circle.

Check out audio here: Big Sean ft. Nas & Kid Cudi

And of course, the man who made the song that’s been on everyone’s mind, is back again with another song boasting impressive features.  Hall of Fame has really been up and down in it’s preview, but we’ll see what it has to offer soon enough.

-Ronzo

The Best Kendrick Response Tracks (So Far)

Control

As expected, the responses have already poured in from a handful of artists.  While none of the responses have been from the artists mentioned (besides interview responses from Wale and Meek Mill), we still have some pretty good music from recognizable artists.

Some names have been thrown into the foray in order to be placed among the list of contenders for the King of New York title.  Joell Ortiz, Astro, and Cassidy have all submitted tracks for the running, and a lot more is to be expected.

Others, such as Lupe Fiasco, now have a chance to do their own critiques of the rap game in song form.  The floodgates have been open for anyone to speak their mind, and now is as good of a chance as ever.

Some of the artists mentioned may take the high road and not respond, whether it’s because of a busy schedule or just simply because they don’t see the need to.  Big K.R.I.T. actually took the shout out as an opportunity for advertisement, a chance for fans who may not have heard his music before to now listen.  Probably an indication of him not making a direct response track.

We’ll have to wait and see if we hear from more artists, or if the whole thing is over.  Personally, I would love to see  J. Cole, A$AP Rocky, or Meek Mill respond.  My guess is that we’ll hear from at least one of them.

Well anyways, here’s my favorite response tracks as of today:

Astro – KONY

One of the newcomers to the New York hip-hop scene, as well as a rapper I’ve been keeping an eye on for awhile now, was one of the first to respond to “Control”.  Astro has been impressing rap heads with his groovy and effortless flow.  Coming here with a more direct shot at Kendrick, he really puts together a nice response track.  Clever lines such as “Saying that you king of the state? That’s time wasted/You kicked harder lines on Miguel collaborations” really help him get his point across.  Hey, why not compete for the title? The championship is up for grabs at this point.

Joell Ortiz – Outta Control

Joell Ortiz is another name in the running for King of New York, and also one of the better lyricists out there that didn’t get mentioned in Kendrick’s verse.  Yaowa really goes in on this one, aiming for Kendrick, the industry, and whack rappers all at one time.  Being very eager to respond and claim KONY, Joell was actually the first one with a response.

During the verse, he mentions the fact that neither him or his crew Slaughterhouse were on the list.  He actually says Kendrick paid him respects in person at one point, reasoning that maybe that’s why he left their names out of the verse.

Either way, Joell Ortiz really gave a great performance, and it’s arguably the best response so far.  However, the only detractor is that he did it over the original “Control” instrumental.  Enough to dethrone Kendrick, though? Not so much.

(This is why we need the big name guys to step up)

LOS – Control (Freestyle)

LOS, a lesser-known, newer MC signed to Bad Boy Records, sent a firing squad armed with lyrical bazookas at Kendrick Lamar.  While no direct shots are taken, LOS really took advantage of the spotlight and came with his best lyrical performance.  The flow switch-up and and vocabulary is definitely enough for the young rapper to gain a couple new fans in the process.

-Ronzo

Big Sean – Control (HOF) ft. Kendrick Lamar, and Jay Electronica

Kendrick Lamar

By now, I’m sure all of you have heard.  One of the most important moments for the change of the current state of Hip-Hop happened on Monday night, and all of it came from one Kendrick Lamar verse.  What’s even more surprising, is it was on a song where he was featured. 

Not only does he namedrop some of the biggest artists in the industry, telling them to step their game up, he also proclaims himself the “King of New York”.  Quite a big proclamation from a Compton MC.  Not to mention the fact that that title is a touchy subject among New York MCs, dating all the way back to the beginnings of the genreThe last true king in many Hip-Hop fanatic’s head is Notorious B.I.G.. Other MC’s who could stake a claim include Nas and Jay-Z, but those two are a bit more unofficial.  However, the thing is Kendrick specifically mentions he is in the same ranks as those guys.  This is a call to the new artists.  The ones that are hungry for the top spot.

This kind of action is perfect for the mundane state of things in the current Hip-Hop industry.  Kendrick’s perspective should be viewed as more of a competitive challenge rather than a diss track, though many artists will probably think of it as personal.  Especially the New York ones.  However, it is perfectly explained here that although he wants to take your fans, lyrically destroy you on every track, and then laugh about it, all names mentioned are family to him. He just wants to make it into competition.  As they call it in sports, Kendrick is showing his “killer instinct”, and he wants everyone to respond with the same fire.

One may argue that this verse is getting this much attention because of K. Dot’s level of stardom.  I believe that only someone of his lyrical ability would be able to make a point as powerful as he did.  It’s truly phenomenal for any musical genre to have a truly gifted artist leading the way for it’s future.

Big Sean may be the man of the moment in perspective, though, as he was the one who let this all happen.  In an interview held on Tuesday, Sean mentions that he heard K. Dot’s verse after writing and recording his own.  No contact between the two MC’s about the verse was made until after Sean had heard it, putting him in a very uncomfortable situation.  After hearing something so monumental to the current state of the Hip-Hop industry, and having his own verse and name bodied in the process, there would seemingly be a lot of pressure on Big Sean to change his original verse and do something  similar to what Kendrick did.  The thing is, he didn’t.  He handled it with class, releasing it to show how much of a true Hip-Hop head he is.  He knew how important this all was for the grand scheme of things. 

Also, to be completely honest, he really put out a fantastic verse himself.

For the third and final verse, Jay Electronica impresses as well.  In fact, it’s one of the best verses I’ve heard from him in quite some time. Too bad coming right after Kendrick on this song is a perfect recipe for disaster.  I don’t think anyone would knowingly choose to come after that.

“A month or two ago, Big Sean asked me to be on this record with him for his album. He had a demo hook on it at the time. I did my verse and sent it back – See more at: http://news.revolt.tv/jay-electronica-speaks-on-control-verse/#sthash.tKBSinp7.dpuf

 

“A month or two ago, Big Sean asked me to be on this record with him for his album. He had a demo hook on it at the time.  I did my verse and sent it back…I found out a couple days before it was released that Kendrick had put a verse on it”

He said this in an interview with Revolt TV, mentioning how great he thinks the track is and speaking on how he thinks it will further influence the rap game.

“I like the song and the stir it’s causing…It’s good for rap music”

I believe that this verse will stand the test of time, as a landmark that changed Hip-Hop for the good.  Enough messing around, it’s time to step into the arena.  For we all know how many response tracks are surely coming our way.

-Ronzo

Tech N9ne – Fragile ft. Kendrick Lamar, MAYDAY, and Kendall Morgan

Something Else

Only two weeks are left until Tech N9ne’s latest project, Something Else, and this single is sure to make anyone excited for the upcoming release.  Singing starts the track off, but it is then taken over by a battle of the dueling double to triple time flows of Kendrick Lamar and Tech N9ne.  This is impressive, and these two should collaborate far more often.

-Ronzo

Tuesday Grooves

Sorry for the slightly late update, my friends. Mondays for me are quite busy these days.

Like it or not, Ronzo’s Word is back with another three grooves for you to vibe out to this week.

Kendrick Lamar – Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst

It’s been almost a year since Good Kid m.A.A.d City dropped, yet you still hear its singles all over the radio station (I heard “Swimming Pools (Drank)” last summer, and it still remains one of the top songs on the radio). Not only that, but if you’ve been around for the past year, Kendrick is everywhere. His guest verses are sprinkled everywhere, he’s been invited for guest appearances on television shows, and he seems to be performing at almost every music award show (If you saw the BET Awards recently, it seemed like Kendrick was out there every 20 minutes).

Can’t hate the man for blowing up though, K. Dot has been and always will be an incredibly deep lyricist. “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst” is no exception, involving some of the most meaningful lyrics on the entire album.

Each verse takes you deep inside the life of Kendrick Lamar. The first verse summarizes the main plot of the entire album, showing the raw emotion from a man stuck in a dangerous cycle. The fact that Kendrick saw his good friend’s brother killed right in front of him is incredibly shocking. Enough material to write an entire song about, even. Somehow, he finds a way to fit it into one meaningful verse, fulfilling the wishes of his deceased friend.

The second verse focuses on the mindset of a “girl damaged by the system”. Taking place over a phone call, the girl accuses Kendrick of damaging the name of her sister, the subject matter of a song from Section.80. He uses an incredible technique at the end of the verse;
He fades the vocals out, as if he was beginning to ignore her.

The rest of the song focuses on inner reflection, playing with the idea of accepting death. This leads to the second half of the track, “I’m Dying of Thirst”. The theme of holy water, and starting a new non-violent life is the focus of this part, stressing that they’re “tired of running”.

J. Cole – She Knows

On an album as good as Born Sinner, its hard to pick just one track that stands out from the rest. I believe that “She Knows” is a strong consideration for the choice, combining Cole’s melodic style with the deep emotion heard throughout the album. Girls seem to be one of J. Cole’s favorite topics to rap about, usually the basis for many of his radio hits. This track is different, however. Even though the subject matter is similar, the mood is much darker, focusing on the struggles of a relationship while being a star rapper.

Even though the track stays a bit dark throughout the whole thing, its still very radio-friendly. I wouldn’t be surprised if this song made it to the singles charts within the next couple months. That is what’s so great about it. J. Cole managed to fuse raw emotion and subject matter with pop sensibility. That is a win in all regards.

Mac Miller – Matches ft. Ab-Soul

All of these albums from June 18th (https://ronzopleaj.wordpress.com/2013/06/21/june-18th-the-conclusion/) have stayed in constant rotation, and for absolutely good reason. Watching Movies With the Sound Off was the album of the three most fit for party environments, besides the few tracks based around self-reflection and deep thought. Standing out from the rest, for me, was the track “Matches ft. Ab-Soul“. Mac Miller’s growing relationship with TDE is definitely turning out for the best. His nonsensical style works perfectly with the complexity of Ab-Soul’s rhyme schemes. The track isn’t exactly about much other than drinking, smoking, and general debauchery, but that’s all you need for a party song.

Featuring one of the best beats on the entire album, Mac and Soul go toe-to-toe lyrically, with each one outdoing the other in different ways. I hope to hear much more from these two together in the future, as well as other collaborations between Mac Miller and the rest of the TDE camp.

*“Geez ft. Schoolboy Q” is another dope collaboration between the two camps worth checking out

-Ronzo