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Posts tagged "Hip Hop"

Another Regeneration Cycle: RNDM by Mega Ran

Another Regeneration Cycle: RNDM by Mega Ran

My favorite scene in Doctor Who is when the Eleventh Doctor, facing regeneration into the Twelfth Doctor, tells his grieving companion (Clara),

We all change, when you think about it. We’re all different people all through our lives. And that’s okay, that’s good, you’ve got to keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be.

Like the Doctor, rapper Raheem Jarbo has shifted identities in public. He started his career with The Call, an astonishing indie rap album, under the name Random, but he shifted his focus to what he terms “chip-hop” in his the concept albums Mega Ran…

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Finding Faith: Top Ten Albums of 2015

Finding Faith: Top Ten Albums of 2015

It’s that time of the year again, time for another top ten albums list. The more of these I write, the more I realize how futile it is to attempt to pick ten albums to represent the year in music. This year the task was made even harder by the launch of Impossible to Say, Blake Collier’s and my music podcast. Thanks to the podcast, I listened to probably twice the amount of new music I listened to last year, which made winnowing down this year’s list an arduous task. So, without further ado, here are the albums that have…

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“The Dopest Innovation Since the Slicing of Bread”: Question Bedtime by MC Frontalot and the Development of Nerdcore Hip-Hop

“The Dopest Innovation Since the Slicing of Bread”: Question Bedtime by MC Frontalot and the Development of Nerdcore Hip-Hop

Picture the Viper Room, an iconic, purposefully run-down concert venue on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, filled with the fans from the current show, a rap group I didn’t recognize. The fans of the band on stage are in front, and they’re a pretty diverse mix of Los Angelinos who are all dressed for a hip-hop concert. Hanging around the back, near the walls, looking at their phones, talking to one another, wearing ironic t-shirts referencing inscrutable internet memes and coding jokes,  are the fans waiting to see Random aka Megaran and the headliner, MC Frontalot—the father of nerdcore…

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New Music: Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly

New Music: Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly

Inside the liner notes of Kendrick Lamar’s new album, To Pimp A Butterfly, is a picture of Lamar (shown above) sitting in a room with assorted dollar bills scattered around him on the floor.  Pictures like this are a common and maybe tired rap trope, typically appearing in magazine spreads and liner notes, rife with allegories of success and the spoils of excess that come with it.  Lamar’s picture strikes a different chord though.  He sits solitary on a crate in sweatpants with untied Reebok sneakers and a bottle of liquor in one hand, his tranquil eyes looking right at…

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Music for a Turbulent World: Top Ten Albums of the Year

Music for a Turbulent World: Top Ten Albums of the Year

2014, like many of the past few years, found me going through a number of transitions: moving to a new state, making new friends, starting at a new school, etc. As usual, music kept me company on long car rides and helped me persist through the emotional up and downs of starting over again. Alongside these transitions, a number of people in my life had loved ones, young and old, pass away this year, a strong reminder that death, sin, and sadness are yet to be vanquished. Finally, on a national level, the inner turmoil of America bubbled up again…

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New Music: Propaganda's Crimson Cord

New Music: Propaganda’s Crimson Cord

Welcome to Blake (B.I.C) and Carl’s review/conversation about Propaganda’s newest release, Crimson Cord. We exchanged some emails over the course of a few weeks and arrived at a few conclusions about the album, but also dug deeper in questions of hip-hop and Christianity and how the two intersect.

Carl: So, what do you think about Crimson Cord overall?

B.I.C.: I think this album is more consistent than Excellent, Propaganda’s last release. It feels like it has a bigger story to tell throughout its run time. Excellent was, in my opinion, a more striking album overall, but it suffered from inconsistency and…

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Dilla’s Donuts:  The Ticks and Pops of the Hip Hop God

Dilla’s Donuts: The Ticks and Pops of the Hip Hop God

Another track from Joey Shook.

Earlier this week, Long Island hip hop veterans De La Soul announced they would be releasing a new mixtape called Smell The D.A.I.S.Y. as a continuation of their 25th anniversary celebration– this coming only weeks after they released their entire catalog for free download (!) on their website.  Most notable about this announcement though was that the entire mixtape would use beats produced by the late Detroit hip hop producer J Dilla.

Each year around this time, a number of articles and mixtapes surface on the internet to pay tribute to J Dilla’s legacy (this year’s most…

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A Slightly Belated List of the Best Music of 2013

A Slightly Belated List of the Best Music of 2013

I apologize for the lateness of this “year-end” music list. Hey, good music never goes out of style, right?

At the end of every year, I find myself scrambling in an effort to listen to every “important” album that came out during the year just in case I missed the “best” album of the year. Of course, as my self-aware quotation marks indicate in the previous sentence, matters of importance and quality are largely subjective, leaving the music critic (if I dare call myself a music critic) in a precarious position. Do I dare include an album that garnered mediocre reviews…

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Ain't Nuthin' But Frontin': Best Hip-Hop of 2013

Ain’t Nuthin’ But Frontin’: Best Hip-Hop of 2013

My good friend, Jeff, and I are on the eve of a six-year project–all the brainchild of Jeff, but with my full participation. Most hip-hop heads place the golden era of the genre between 1988 or 89 to 1994. So we are celebrating 1989-1994 hip-hop by listening to and reviewing every album that came out during those years in real time. In other words, the album(s) that came out in the first week of January 1989 will be listened to and reviewed on the first week of January 2014 and so on. We will be listening to everything from genre-defining…

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“We Rap About What We See, Meaning Reality”: The Prophetic Voice of Hip-Hop

“We Rap About What We See, Meaning Reality”: The Prophetic Voice of Hip-Hop

“A theologian of the cross says what a thing is. In modern parlance: a theologian of the cross calls a spade a spade. One who ‘looks on all things through suffering and the cross’ is constrained to speak the truth…it will see precisely that the cross and the resurrection itself is the only answer to that problem, not erasure or neglect.” – Gerhard O. Forde

I admit: I am frontin’ when I talk hip-hop. I was raised on 90s country and Neil Diamond. I didn’t hear my first sample until high school when a friend of mine popped N.W.A.’s Straight Outta…

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New Music: Jay Z's Magna Carta Holy Grail

New Music: Jay Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail

After Kanye West and Jay Z’s 2011 collaboration Watch the Throne, I was very excited to see what was next for Kanye and Jay Z, as Watch the Throne was the best thing Jay Z had done since The Black Album. About a month ago, Kanye released Yeezus (I covered some of the album’s religious elements on my blog: Part 1 and Part 2) to critical acclaim, and right around that time Jay Z announced his newest album, Magna Carta Holy Grail. Since its release, Magna Carta Holy Grail has received some mixed reviews, which I suspect has something to do with…

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The Guilty Heart of a Ghetto Dependent: Justice for the Sake of Peace

The Guilty Heart of a Ghetto Dependent: Justice for the Sake of Peace

This one comes to us from none other than Jonathan Adams:

“Just before Christmas 2010, a 36-year-old black man, Trevell Coleman, walks into a police station in Harlem and tells the cops that something’s been troubling him. He was involved in a shooting many years ago, sixteen or seventeen years ago, and has information they might want to hear. At first the cops take his name and number, tell him to go home, we’ll look into it, but that was a long time ago. They never call.

He goes back into the station a few weeks later. It is really eating…

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