Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The 25 Best Songs Of 2009

What a year.  I spent a lot of time agonizing over this list, and after two days I've arrived at one with many faults, but one that I'm relatively happy with.  The diversity of rap in 2009 creates many problems for developing a comprehensive list like this.  How does one properly compare and determine the rank of a Mos Def song and a Juiceman song, when they're such different beasts?  For this reason, my personal enjoyment of a song played as large a role as my critical examination of it in determining a rank.  Gucci Mane alone could have a top 25 list this year, but an artist was only allowed to appear once on this list outside of features.  Choosing a single Gucci song to be representative of his entire output in 2009 was extremely difficult.  The song I ended up choosing I found to exemplify the characteristic sound that Gucci and Zaytoven established.  It's also interesting to note that almost half of the top ten this year originated on mixtapes or free albums.


1. “Do You Know” -DJ Quik & Kurupt
2. “Better Believe It” -Lil Boosie Ft. Young Jeezy and Webbie
3. “Doing Just Fine” -Z-Ro
4. “Purse Come First” -UGK Ft. Big Gipp
5. “Popular Demand (Popeyes)” -Clipse Ft. Cam'ron
6. “Womb 2 The Tomb” -Freddie Gibbs Ft. Pill
7. “Feel The...” -G-Side Ft. 6 Tre G
8. “Trap Goin' Ham” -Pill
9. “Shine Blockas” -Big Boi Ft. Gucci Mane
10. “Weird” -Gucci Mane
11. “Cold Outside” -Raekwon Ft. Ghostface
12. “Hussle In The House” -Nipsey Hussle
13. “Gazzillion Ear” -DOOM
14. “Diamonds & Maybachs Pt. 2” -Triple C's
15. “City Lights” -Method Man and Redman Ft. Bun B
16. “Exhibit C” -Jay Electronica
17. “Life In Marvelous Times” -Mos Def
18. “I Got This (Don't Worry)” -Young Jeezy
19. “Make The Trap Say Aye” -OJ Da Juiceman Ft. Gucci Mane
20. “In The Night/While You Slept (I Crept)” -J Dilla
21. “D.O.A.” -Jay-Z
22. “Georgiavania” -Willie Isz
23. “Pop The Trunk” -Yelawolf
24. “On Dat Other Shit” -Playboy Tre
25. “O Let's Do It” -Waka Flocka

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Til the Casket Drops

The third album from the Clipse, Til the Casket Drops is also their worst. Of course, this isn't necessarily a significant comment on the quality of the album, given the critical acclaim for their previous two. The truth is, Til the Casket Drops is by and large a great album, and from any other group it would be considered a substantial success. But for fans of the Thornton brothers, it's hard not to notice that a little something is missing from this newest effort. It may simply be that a series of album delays, and almost half of the album being released as singles dampened the impact upon arrival, but certainly a bit of the edge is gone.

Hell Hath No Fury was such a dramatic and innovative departure from the contemporary hip-hop landscape, that to attempt a recreation on the third go would have been a commercially poor decision, and more importantly an artistic mistake. So it's no surprise when the Clipse add a new dimension to the identities they've created. Right from the start, the Clipse set a new paradigm with the reflective opening “Freedom,” produced by Sean C & LV. The song signals a departure even down to the production lineup, and it's an excellent opener. Whereas Hell Hath No Fury was a brilliantly detached portrayal of the coke game, their newest is far more self-aware, with references to music criticism, the state of hip-hop, personal shortcomings, and most significantly a little bit of guilt begins to creep in. Pusha T's first verse on the album captures this new dimension perfectly.



The next song finds the Clipse in familiar territory with the exuberant arrogance of “Popular Demand (Popeyes).” It's a good transition, but even here the stylistic changes are still present. The song was the last single released prior to the album hitting store shelves, and remains one of the best. Aside from the mediocre, but enjoyable “I'm Good” and “Eyes on Me,” the singles slipped easily into the Clipse canon and are highlights of the album. In truth, everything sounds good to great until the Kanye-influenced trifecta of soft edge mediocrity consisting of “Eyes on Me,” “Counseling,” and “Champion.” They're not bad songs, they just are not up to par with the rest of the album's content. Luckily the album picks up in dramatic fashion with the DJ Khalil produced “Footsteps.” Driven by a moody organ vamp and hard rock drums, the song is the best on the album, and one of the best of the duo's career.



The decision to go with production outside of The Neptunes for the first time seems to have been a good choice. Sean C & LV and DJ Khalil make good contributions, and in fact produce some of the best songs on the album. I would love to see the Clipse work more with Khalil in the future. That being said, The Neptunes were also behind some great tracks even though they produced the lesser ones as well. Ultimately, the album falls flat when it reaches for commercial appeal. It is an understandable move given their history of label troubles, and sale numbers not matching their proven excellence. It's too bad college kids don't buy albums. But as first-week sales reports come in today, it's clear that Til the Casket Drops didn't do it for them either. Perhaps the brothers just aren't meant for the pop market. They're at their best as too-clever D-boys; unashamed rap villains that are hard not to love. If sales drop precipitously next week they may lose their home at Columbia, but I wouldn't be surprised to see them picked up by L.A. Reid and Def Jam. Til the Casket Drops is a good album worth purchasing, but they are capable of much better.


7.5/10

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hello, December

I'm foregoing the usual posting today to take a look ahead.  December will be a busy month, with a lot of positive changes hopefully being made.  I'll be trying to attract more regular readers and growing my viewer base, as well as expanding the content a little bit and developing new regular columns.  I also might put a little work into redesigning the page, but we'll see how that works out.

Being the end of the year and the end of the decade as well, there is going to be a slew of best-of lists that will be interesting and probably infuriating too.  I'll join in a little with my top 25 albums of the year, and what I believe to be the single best hip-hop album of the decade.  Hopefully I will avoid the sort of righteous indignation that arose when Passion of the Weiss unveiled their album listings.  I will also attempt to start doing some more in-depth articles regarding history and culture.  All of this will manifest over the next few months, but a lot will start happening around the middle of December.

The Labels Tryin To Kill Me



Freddie Gibbs returns with a new mixtape referencing the classic Master P cover art.  The 81-track mixtape is a collection of Gibbs' best work, including freestyles and seven new songs, all mixed and kept moving at a rapid pace by DJ Skee.  I haven't even gotten through a quarter of it yet, but it's great as expected.  This tape really just puts Gibbs out there, showing his versatility and his work ethic, as well as his extremely technical rapping skills.  It's a middle finger to labels, a thanks to fans, and a compelling introduction for new listeners.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Yelawolf

I'm generally not one for rock/rap hybrids.  The only group that ever did well with this combination was Rage Against the Machine, and perhaps one could include some songs by Red Hot Chili Peppers in that same category.  I was raised on rock & roll and I enjoy listening to it from time to time.  But please, keep rock separate from my rap.  It's not one of those Reese's peanut-butter cup situations.  "You got rock in my rap" is said with some Pusha T type of disgust: "Yiiiuuck."  That's why I initially approached Yelawolf's music with trepidation after hearing it described as "rock-influenced."  I was already late to the party, but I decided to give his music some time to grow on me.  When Maurice Garland posted "Pop the Trunk" almost two week ago, I pushed play on a whim.  I had just seen some pretty good live footage of Yelawolf and I was willing to give the guy another shot (I had heard one song before that didn't really stick with me).  I wasn't entirely sure how I felt about the song, but it became clear that he was an exceptionally talented rapper.  Just days later I heard him kill his featured verse on "Who's Hood?" from G-Side's Huntsville International Project.  I decided it was finally time to download his last mixtape, Stereo.  This is the one that got him the rock/rap reputation, with every song being based around classic rock samples.  It took about three or four listens, but I really like it now, and Yelawolf has definitely improved in the meantime.  It is clear that he has been influenced by Big Boi far more than Lynyrd Skynyrd.



For many, Yelawolf's music will be an acquired taste and some just won't like it.  It is different than a lot of what you're hearing, and while that held me back at first, it's ultimately what makes his music so interesting.  The authenticity is also incredibly refreshing, and he's got good people behind him with cosigns from the likes of Killer Mike and Slim Thug, and one of the nicest band websites I've seen (still in development).  I'm looking forward to hearing his upcoming Trunk Muzik mixtape, and I think there are good things in his future.

"Dirt Road"
"Pop The Trunk"

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Week 12 Update

Last week I had a 13-3 record, which I'm pretty happy with.  This will be a shorter post than usual since it's been a long day traveling.  I'm just going to list the games and give my predictions without any extra discussion.  Have a good Thanksgiving.  I'll be watching football most of the day:


Green Bay @ Detroit
Oakland @ Dallas
New York Giants @ Denver
Tampa Bay @ Atlanta
Miami @ Buffalo
Washington @ Philadelphia
Seattle @ St. Louis
Carolina @ New York Jets
Cleveland @ Cincinnati
Indianapolis @ Houston
Kansas City @ San Diego
Jacksonville @ San Francisco
Chicago @ Minnesota
Arizona @ Tennessee
Pittsburgh @ Baltimore
New England @ New Orleans

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Trap Tuesday: Waka Flocka

The name itself speaks volumes of nothing, like a lot of his music.  But just like the music, the name is strangely enjoyable.  There's something of a visceral connection to the music that Waka Flocka creates.  There is nothing deeply interesting about it, but it is able to incite an energy something along the lines of heavy metal, and I think the two are quite similar.  Although more attention is still paid to lyrics than in most heavy metal songs.  A member of Gucci Mane's 1017 Brick Squad, Flocka takes cues from Radric Davis in content but has established a very different style.



As his name has become more prominent, owing recently to the video for "O Let's do it," many have begun to question the merits of the music he makes.  I think it is a valid conversation to have.  I value the musical output of a number of Atlanta-based artists far more and would much prefer to see artists like Pill break into the mainstream market first.  However, I do appreciate some of his music and certainly feel that it has a place in this genre.  I'd also like to point out that Waka Flocka is one of the few to bring a unique sound to rap in recent years.  The fact that his music sounds quite different is part of what seems to be gaining him both so many supporters and detractors.  Mark me as a fan of some of his songs, but I can't align myself with either camp yet.  However, I would argue that his music has value.

Watch the video for "O Let's do it," and it is easy to see that the music is created in the context of getting an audience hyped.  It's hard not to feel the energy in the song, and even harder to sit still when listening to it.  The song, like a lot of Flocka's material, combines elements of crunk, snap, and trap music, synthesizing some of the popular elements of Atlanta's music culture.  The fact that it is so rooted in this culture makes it a far more organic and authentic expression of populism than the carefully manufactured fun of LMFAO's shit-tastic "Shots." It's meant for a party atmosphere, but I would argue that its unique sound makes it transcend that designation.  However, the simple fact that it is party music will make some question its worth.  Critics making this argument seem to have forgotten the importance that similarly themed songs had on the development of rock and roll.  "The Twist" for example, is completely asinine but Rolling Stone named it one of the 500 greatest songs of all time.  While it is repetitive and simple, it had an undeniable energy and played an important role in the development of rock.  One can also look to some of The Beatles' early material, with songs like "Twist and Shout" serving a similar purpose.  The point is not to say these songs are the same; Chubby Checker and The Beatles had a lasting impact, while I find it unlikely that Waka Flocka will.  It is important, though, to point out the similarities when arguing about a song's "worth."  Those early 1960's dance tunes were an expression of a changing youth culture that defined America in the following decades.  "O Let's do it" is a similar expression of a shifting southern hip hop culture.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Second Look At Custom Cars & Cycles

A week after Rick Ross' Triple C's group dropped their debut album, I gave it a brief review.  Immediately following, the first week sales figures were released, from which it would be hard to consider the album anything but a flop.  Sales figures never influence my opinion of an album, but considering the stature of both the label and the headlining artist, I had to consider whether quality actually was the reason it received such a poor reception.

I've been listening to the album almost daily for the past three weeks and I'm convinced people aren't giving it enough credit.  It has crept its way into my top 15 albums of the year, somewhere alongside DOOM's Born Like This.  Yes, that last sentence was designed to aggravate every possible reader, but it's true.  I was watching a promotional clip for the album and one of the members (I can't really put names to their faces yet) was giving the usual spiel about how good every single song was, and I found myself agreeing.  There really isn't any filler on the album, which with fifteen tracks is pretty admirable.  I have favorites and I skip around, but you can let the album ride out without ever feeling the need to fast-forward.  The album also has more dimensions than most have been suggesting, and the group jumps between styles with ease.  Yes, the lyrics are at times as ostentatious as any from the shiny suit era, but there is plenty of depth to be found.  Take (I think) Young Breed's verse on "Finer Things:"

A wad of money, not a lotta money
most on the weed, just a broken dream
tryina come up sellin' somethin'
 buyin' somethin', tryin' somethin'
inside I'm sufferin', outside I'm stuntin'
I'm bout mine, I'm thumpin'
till God bring out the trumpet
Barack just a puppet
but no one listens to junkies
and no one hires a flunky

But I suppose my point isn't to validate my enjoyment of this album.  I fully acknowledge that I may be crazy, and the Triple C's do not warrant a second look from most rap listeners.  But my taste is generally pretty good and I have suspicions that this album undersold for other reasons.

I was inspired to rediscuss this album following the lower than expected sales of 50 Cent's new Before I Self Destruct.  I think part of the poor showing for both of the albums might have been from the Curtis/Ross beef that started earlier this year.  It wasn't high-profile enough to draw outside attention and increase album sales, but it got heated enough to get ugly and become polarizing for fans.  I'm willing to bet there are a number of fans who would have purchased both albums a year ago, but will now only support one or the other.  I think this is especially true in the case of Ross, who occasionally ended up looking like a jackass.  I historically haven't paid much attention to either artist so I don't have a dog in this fight.  However, this particular feud helped nobody.

An even bigger issue may have been the earlier revelation that Rick Ross spent time as a Correctional Officer before his rap career took flight, indicating that the lifestyle he claims in his music is more than likely fictional.  In a culture that claims to value keeping it real above all else, and has a general disdain towards law enforcement, Ross' CO past was not a good look.  Anybody with more than a basic knowledge of this rap thing will tell you that a sizable portion of artists are at the very least embellishing their involvement in criminal activities, if not wholly crafting characters for themselves.  However, the continued presence of artists who clearly are authentic complicates the situation and probably increases anger towards those who are found to be playing a role.  One has to wonder if Rock Ross would have been accepted if he had made it clear from the start that he was simply crafting stories.  But that is another conversation.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Refill Readdressed


As promised, I'm back with my impressions of Pill's 4075: The Refill mixtape that dropped on Tuesday.  All in all, it's a far more cohesive effort than The Prescription and has more dimension as well.  While the first half of the mixtape is better, the second half is an attempt to show Pill's versatility with "Super Cool" coming off as a song that could gain traction in the radio market if given the proper promotion.  The first half is certainly more "street" but the entirety of the mixtape is very good.

Pill was catapulted to national attention (at least national press attention) by the video for "Trap Goin Ham" off his last mixtape.  Because of the success of the particular song, it's hard not to look at his new work in light of it.  In fact, Pill and his promoters seem very conscious of this as well, with occasional references and the re-inclusion of "Trap Goin Ham" as the fourth song on the mixtape for those who don't yet have the MP3 version.  With that being sad, I think choosing "Glass" as the single for The Refill was intelligent.  "Trap Goin Ham" was a high energy, unashamed drug dealing anthem.  What made goldern era Southern rappers--from whom Pill takes his cue--so appealing, was their ability to step back and portray the other side of the grind.  For every "Pocket Full of Stones" that UGK released, there was a "Diamonds and Wood."  "Glass" is Pill's "Diamonds and Wood."  It's not as instantly appealing as "Trap Goin Ham," and it won't get him the same attention, but it is a better song from my perspective.  The Refill is full of great songs in a similar vein, like the contemplative, but humorous "Dropped a Mick on Me."

Overall the listener is shown a more vulnerable Pill, which will resonate with a lot of listeners.  The caricatures created by a lot of Atlanta's trap rappers are enjoyable, but the humanness of Pill is just as valid and sometimes easier to relate to if not as consistently fun.  He also establishes himself as a very talented rapper both technically and linguistically.  I'm unsure how far Pill will be able to go, and whether he can manage to break out of his core listenership of Atlantans and dedicated rap fans.  Regardless, he has my support and I look forward to a time when I can purchase his debut.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Week 11 Update


Damn.  Last week wasn't so good.  I was 9-6 in predictions and the Cowboys team I was hyping made me look like an ass.  Almost all of my top fantasy stars underperformed as well, and for the first time I lost in all three of my leagues.  Luckily I'm still at the top of my division in two of them.  As for the Cowboys I'm not sure what happened.  I wasn't able to watch the game because I'm in the Seahawks market region and we were served up that boring contest instead.  It wasn't all bad, because I've got a little love left for my old Cardinals home team, but I'm perpetually pissed at Seattle for stealing coverage from good games.  And you better believe I can't afford that NFL fan package bullshit that Direct TV offers.  Anyway, the Cowboys just fell apart.  Maybe they had too much confidence going in, or maybe they are as inconsistent as some believe.  Week 11 marks the end of the bye-weeks, so all teams will be playing every week until the end of the season.

Miami @ Carolina:  With Ronnie Brown out, I'm concerned that the Dolphins' wildcat offense will be less effective.  D'Angelo Williams has been superb the last few weeks and as long as Jake Delhomme can keep the offense moving, I think the Panthers have a better chance of winning.

Pittsburgh @ Kansas City:  The Steelers couldn't get things moving in last week's contest with the Bengals.  Kansas City won't be able to give them anywhere near as rough a time, and Pittsburgh should bounce back.

San Francisco @ Green Bay:  I'm not sure about this game, but the Packers have a better team overall.  If they can stop Frank Gore early, they should win the game.

Cleveland @ Detroit:  Another week, another game with two terrible teams.  Detroit has shown more potential this year, however.

New Orleans @ Tampa Bay:  While Tampa Bay appears to be getting better, New Orleans looks almost unstoppable.  Consider them a good Super Bowl contender.  However, if they lose a game in the next couple of weeks, it would be this one.  It's a divisional game, and that's just how these things go.

Atlanta @ New York Giants:  My confidence in Atlanta is waning, especially with Michael Turner likely out for this game.  The Giants have had a week to work out their problems, and they should look much better.

Buffalo @ Jacksonville:  Jacksonville is simply a better team, playing at home.

Washington @ Dallas:  I still have faith in the Cowboys, even though they will be facing a very tough passing defense.  If they stick to fundamentals in this game, they should do well.

Seattle @ Minnesota:  Seattle isn't good, the Vikings are very good.

Indianapolis @ Baltimore:  The Ravens haven't been playing as well lately, and the Colts will be hyped coming off of a barnburner win against the Patriots on sunday night.  That was an amazing 4th quarter.  I stopped watching halfway through the 3rd, but made it back for the last five minutes.  I hate Belichick, so it was nice to see him squirm.

Arizona @ St. Louis:  When will the Cardinals get recognition?  They may come out of nowhere again this year.

New York Jets @ New England:  The Jets are really slumping and the Patriots are good despite what happened last week.

Cincinnati @ Oakland:  Everybody should be officially convinced by now that the Bengals are back to at least their 2007 level of performance.  It will be interesting to see how far they go this year.

San Diego @ Denver:  The Chargers might be back on that latter half of the year explosion.  They've been looking good lately, and even LT is getting involved.

Philadelphia @ Chicago:  The Eagles get a chance to bounce back this week against a Bears team that has been underperforming on all sides of the ball.

Tennessee @ Houston:  Call me crazy, but the Titans are on a roll.  Plus, Houston's backfield is a huge mess right now.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Inside RJD2's Basement Studio



Electric Independence gets a tour of RJD2's home studio while he bakes a fruit cobbler.  If you've noticed, it seems like a lot of really good producers enjoy the culinary arts as well.  I suppose it takes a similar mental concentration.  RJD2's instrumental collection is pretty extensive from guitars and percussion to a plethora of keyboards.  Most notable is the array of analog synthesizers he's accumulated.  In the latter half of the video he shows a massive modular synthesizer that he's building from scratch.  It's a beautiful thing, and I'm envious of his apparent understanding of the electrical components.  The video is fascinating for anyone interested in production, and is one of the better studio tours I've seen.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Trap Tuesday

You could almost call this one the prison edition after the events of last week.

Lemonade - Gucci Mane:  Both singles for the upcoming album have been relatively good, and after Gucci's incarceration last week, "Lemonade" was leaked ostensibly to keep some of the buzz going.  The track is produced by Bangladesh of "A Milli" fame and features an uptempo piano vamp as the centerpiece and an odd children's sing-a-long sounding chorus.  It's a little on the fruity side, but I suppose that makes sense given the title.  It's also surprisingly enjoyable.  After seeing the tracklist for The State Vs. Radric Davis I'm not too optimistic about the cohesiveness of the album.  This is one of the few songs without a feature and I'm willing to bet it will be one of the best come the release date.

Done it All - Lil Boosie:  Boosie also caught some time last week.  He was set to do about a year, but after violating the terms of his house arrest he'll be out in two with good behavior.  "Done it All" was released shortly after he entered prison and looks to be featured on an upcoming mixtape.  This sounds like the kind of song you'd make when you're a little pissed off, looking at a bleak future.  It's pure bragging over wahed guitars and synth horns.

Jets Over Everything - Curren$y:  Curren$y still hasn't really broken out yet, which is disappointing because there's some clear talent, and it shows especially in this song.  He sure likes metaphors related to being fly. Curren$y is currently working on an album with Mos Def and Jay Electronica under the name Center Edge Territory.  Word is Dame Dash got them together while Mos Def was working on the Blackroc album; the first project from Dame's new label featuring hip hop acts over instrumentals provided by the Black Keys.  This new "supergroup" is especially appealing in the sense that the pairing of acts was unexpected.  It isn't Mos Def, Black Thought, and Pharoahe Monch (though that would be fucking incredible), but instead is joining artists stylistically and regionally very separate.  You have Mos' New York traditionalism mixed with his jazz obsession, Jay's left-field associational rhyming, and Curren$y's Weezy-y leanings.  Clearly, the project has my support.

4075: The Refill


If you're anything like me, you've been eagerly awaiting this followup to Pill's The Prescription mixtape.  From the several leaks I've heard, this looks to be another good one from the Atlanta native and it should have iPods goin ham for a minute.  After I give it a sufficient listen, I'll offer up some ideas on it.

Download the No DJ Version

Monday, November 16, 2009

Popular Demand

No, not the Black Milk album, but that's worth talking about too.  Below is the video for another of the Clipse's singles, "Popular Demand" featuring Cam'ron.  The song is good, but the video is the most underwhelming of the five or six they've released.  I think they're really struggling to maintain the buzz for their coming album which after many delays now has the same release date as Gucci Mane's.  You'd think their label would know better.  I guess them crackas at Columbia playin em too.



Are The Neptunes not playin fair either?  Both the "Popular Demand" and "Doorman" instrumentals have the same blaring trumpet.  It makes me wonder if Pusha and Malice are just getting leftovers.  I feel like I'm being too critical, so don't get me wrong, I love both songs and the videos aren't bad either.  I'd just like to see the boys from Virginia Beach get more respect.  On a side note, even though I stopped eating meat this video really has me wanting some fried chicken.  The Clipse better have gotten some Popeyes payola for that advertising.  Or at least some free chicken.

Separately, I apologize for the random bursts and subsequent downtime (notably weekends) in updating.  I've been busy with studying and/or partying, but I'll try to be more consistent.  Tomorrow Pill's 4075: The Refill drops, and I'll have that in the morning.  And then a mere week later Z-Ro's new album is set to release.  After Cocaine I'm fienin for more, and it'll probably be the first album I buy on the release date this year.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Week 10 Update

Last week my predictions went 11-2, which is nothing to be ashamed of.  As a Cowboys fan, last week was a good one.  People had been doubting whether they could hold up against a team that matched, if not exceeded their skill.  The game was messy, but they outshined the Eagles in a game that placed them at the top of their division.  Still some commentators are refusing to give them due props, claiming the game simply made both teams look sloppy rather than either of them good.  I disagree.  Simply looking at the Cowboys stat line shows a well-oiled offense, at least in the passing game.  Tony Romo had another 300 yards passing and got Roy Williams far more involved in the offense.  If not for the missed interference from Asante Samuels in the end zone, Williams would also have had a touchdown to his name.  November should prove smooth-sailing for this rising offense, but December looks to have some tough games including a couple high stakes divisional matchups.  Let's take a look at the games this week, starting with the season's first Thursday night game:

Chicago @ San Francisco:  The Niners need a comeback and are pretty evenly matched with the Bears.  This is a game they really want, and need to win to stay in the divisional race.  Look for a consistent connection between Alex Smith and Vernon Davis.

Detroit @ Minnesota:  Not much has to be said to justify this pick, but it will be interesting to see how Brett Favre performs coming off an injured groin.

Denver @ Washington:  Denver was beaten handily by the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night, but I have no reason to believe they can't revive their offense against the Redskins.

Atlanta @ Carolina:  The Falcons have shown that they still have a powerful offensive unit, even if their record isn't as good as some expected.  Michael Turner is really starting to break loose again, which is nice.  Like last week, Ryan will be mediocre and Turner will be on fire.

Tampa Bay @ Miami:  Last week was the first time I had gotten to watch the Dolphins this year, and they sure are an enjoyable team to watch.  This game will be full of the Wildcat formation, and they should easily be able to throw off the Tampa defense.

Jacksonville @ New York Jets:  The Jets should be rejuvenated after their bye week.  Look for Thomas Jones to have a big game.

New Orleans @ St. Louis: What a field day for the New Orleans offense.  And defense, for that matter.

Buffalo @ Tennessee:  I've been calling these Titans to the T lately.  They win again with Vince Young in charge, but most of their offense will still be on the ground.

Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh:  The Steelers have no desire to lose at home to their biggest rivals.  This should be a fun game.

Kansas City @ Oakland:  This is a pretty boring matchup.  Neither team is very good, but the Chiefs are bordering on decent.

Dallas @ Green Bay:  This game happens at least once every year, and it's hard a hard one for me because these are my two favorite teams.  A month ago I probably would have gone with the Packers, but they've lost two straight including one to the formerly winless Bucs.  On the other hand the Cowboys have won four straight and are only looking better.

Seattle @ Arizona:  Kurt Warner doesn't win much at home, but the Seahawks don't win much at all (oooh).  Seattle might not go down easily in this divisional matchup, but the Cardinals are the stronger team by far.

Philadelphia @ San Diego: This game will be a close one, but the Eagles were not impressive last week.  They will force Phillip Rivers to throw the ball, but with Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson performing so well, that's probably for the better anyway.

New England @ Indianapolis: This is the game of the week, and luckily it's one we all get a chance to see.  The Colts have squeezed out only narrow victories against lesser teams in the past couple of weeks, so I don't have faith in them heading into this weekend.  Furthermore, their defense has taken a number of hits, making things easier for Brady and Co.

Baltimore @ Cleveland:  Brady Quinn comes back as quarterback for the Browns, but it probably won't change anything.  Look for a strong connection between Flacco and Mason in the Ravens passing game.

Gucci Mane Back In Jail

Just Hours ago Gucci Mane was hauled away in handcuffs for a parole violation and has been sentenced to one year in prison.  This is occurring under a month before his album The State Vs. Radric Davis is set to release on Warner.  He may be released from prison within six months, but there is no word yet if the sentence will affect his album's release date.  The rap police have been out in force the last couple of months.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Trap Tuesday: The Appeal of Gucci Mane

If someone were to ask me (unlikely) who the most influential black man in America has been in 2009, it would come down to a toss-up between Barack Obama and Gucci Mane. I'm unsure whether this is a testament to Obama's lack of action in some areas, or to the fierce dedication of a newly paroled man out to prove something. And there's no doubt Gucci had something to prove, to himself, and to the world after his last album Back to the Traphouse was a critical and commercial failure. Ever since stepping out of prison in March, he's done nothing but slowly and steadily climb to the top of the rap world. It's been a meteoric rise to the top, faster (especially without a proper release) than anybody I have seen in recent years, and most notably he has done so by eschewing today's popular means of attention-seeking, instead sticking to the basics with a flood of features and mixtapes. It's been interesting to watch his emergence, starting from the streets and the blogs to now being a consistent fixture on hip-hop stations.

Consequently, a lot of people aren't fans. They often say they just don't “get” him, or they understand his popular appeal but don't understand why I, as a discerning rap listener enjoy his music. I didn't initially, but I became a convert after the release of the celebrated Writing on the Wall mixtape in mid-Spring. It was the song “Gorgeous” that specifically caught my attention, and I still believe it to sit among the finest he's released this year. It also became the blueprint for a number of his other noteworthy songs and propelled his notoriety forward. Writing on the wall indeed.

But where did that appeal come from? The same people who claim not to “get” Gucci Mane are the ones who offer up hypotheses: it's the beats, it's the party tunes, it's his charisma, it's some intangible that certain people are born with. Aside from his ear for production and his ability to craft good party tracks, it really isn't any of the above, and those two alone won't get you as far as Gucci has come. I tend to think attributing his success to charisma is one of the least valid arguments. The man has a potbelly, looks kinda dopey, and speaks/raps with a pretty noticeable lisp. These same people immediately discount a lyrical basis for his appeal as if ball-out subject matter and lyrical ability are mutually exclusive. I certainly don't speak for everybody, but to me the appeal is lyrics, as well as presentation and a refreshing sense of humor.

This preconception that one cannot be both lyrical and hedonistic is simply false, with material from the catalogs of Ghostface, MF DOOM, and Biggie providing good examples. Gucci Mane takes the hedonism and abandonment of reality to another level, and people thereby seem to make the assumption that it is not thinking man's music. I disagree. It may not require a significant amount of thought to deconstruct the lyrics, but it clearly took some thought from the man who wrote them. Gucci brings a level of descriptive abstraction to major label rap that I would argue hasn't been seen since Supreme Clientele. A prominent example is from the first verse in “Wonderful:”


Red bezzle on my Jacob lookin' like a sliced tomato
Fuck a hater, I blow acres of Jamaica in Decatur
I'm so extraordinary while my bracelet so canary

Half your budget spent on luggage, spent your mortgage on a portrait
Purple bud look like an orchid, can't afford it? Watch me torch it


If you were to just listen to the hook from that specific song, you might not be so enthralled, but it's hard to deny the cleverness and humor in the above lyrics even though nothing of profound impact is being said. If you're unfamiliar with the song, I'd recommend also listening to it in order to understand how he makes use of his Atlanta accent in the rhyme scheme. “Weird” is another song that came out around the same time and reveals a similar aesthetic. He's just having fun with words:


My car got personality, the grill be smiling honey
My rims are very charming and my leather seats are comfy
Gucci major money, shawty I get crazy cloudy
Have a baby by me probly maybe I’ll buy you an Audi
Maui Wowie, stupid cloudy, loudy got me rowdy rowdy
Chevy Caprice '73 play Master P I'm 'bout it 'bout it


If we're talking charisma as a factor contributing to his appeal, then it is as a result of the personality that shines through via the lyrics rather than a certain intangible personality like what Jay-Z claims to (and off and on does) have. What is also important to notice when listening to the above songs is his flow. Like a lot of rappers, Gucci brags about how different his flow is, but his word placement truly is unique. Even after listening to a song, it's hard to comprehend how he effortlessly crams words into a single bar when reading the lyrics.

Gucci Mane's appeal is multi-faceted, but to deny that lyricism is a part of that appeal is simple-minded. His ability to combine interesting lyrics with a unique flow, an engaging personality, and compelling production has propelled him near to the top of the rap game all in a matter of months. Both the commercial success and the quality of his upcoming album The State Vs. Radric Davis releasing on December 8th, will determine whether or not his impact will be lasting.

Sad News



Boosie has always said the BR judicial system has been out to get him.  Violating the terms of your house arrest is no joke, but doubling the sentence?  That's over the top.  At this point we can only hope he gets out early on good behavior.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Catalina



Ever since the early September release, I've felt that "Catalina" Ft. Lyfe Jennings was the best song on Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2.  The Dr. Dre produced track suited Raekwon's cluttered flow better than anything else the album offered, and it made me wonder what the originally Dre-produced album would have sounded like.  I have suspicions that it might have made it significantly better.  OB4CL2 was a good album, I just haven't felt the urge to listen to it since mid-September.

Specifically, this new video matches the song well, but doesn't do much for it.  The text dialog is a little cheesy too.  Regardless, it's good for one viewing.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Week 9 Update

Last week wasn't great either, and I went 8-4 because I accidentally looked over the NYJ vs. Miami game. I would have called it right, because the Jets are struggling now midway through the season even with the reemergence of Thomas Jones (which makes me very happy considering I picked him up around the 8th round in two of my fantasy leagues).  There were a few disappointments last week including, for me, the loss of the Packers to the Vikings at Lambeau field.  It was a close one again, showing the strength of the Packers team, but in the end they couldn't pull through.  At this point I'm finally ready to say Brett Favre is back.  He's having an amazing year and at this point the Vikings have shown themselves to be superbowl contenders.  Some of the league's worst teams are on a bye this week, so it makes the matchups a little more interesting.

Washington @ Atlanta:  The Falcons have had a bad stretch but they should be able to prove they're a good team in this game against the Redskins.  Look for Michael Turner to have another good week, and Matt Ryan another mediocre one.

Kansas City @ Jacksonville: in this game between two on and off teams, anything could happen.  However, The Jaguars have had flashes of brilliance at times this season whereas the Chiefs are just getting by.

Green Bay @ Tampa Bay: The Bucs are awful this season.  This game will happen the Packers regain some confidence after last week.

Miami @ New England:  We'll see if the Patriot defense has learned how to handle the Wildcat formation, but New England should be able to win as long as Brady continues to perform well.

Houston @ Indianapolis:  I'm tempted to go with Houston, but it's hard to bet against a team that has gone undefeated this far into the season.  As long as the last game was an anomaly, the Colts should be able to win.

Arizona @ Chicago:  I don't think Kurt Warner is falling apart.  He's known to have games like the one last week but this should be different.

Baltimore @ Cincinnati:  The last game between these two teams came down to the wire.  It may be a similar situation again, but Baltimore should come away with the win.

Carolina @ New Orleans:  I don't think the Saints lose at home to an average team, especially since the New Orleans run defense has been so strong.

Detroit @ Seattle:  Seattle isn't good, but they're better than an injury-plagued Lions team.

Tennessee @ San Francisco:  This game could go either way, but I'm leaning towards the Titans off of the strength of last week's showing.  Plus, the 49ers have been struggling at midseason.

San Diego @ New York Giants: This is an important game for both teams, and could easily be the one that ends up deciding their fates in regards to the playoffs.  I'm taking San Diego on a hunch.

Dallas @ Philadelphia: This huge divisional matchup is the game of the week.  The Cowboys are hot right now, and I think they have the ability to win this game in crunch time.

Pittsburgh @ Denver:  The Steelers have gotten back to performing at a high level on both sides of the ball.  The Steeler defense should be able to sufficiently shut down the offense of the Broncos, while the Steeler offense is too hard to contain.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Trap Tuesday: Triple C's Edition


When the debut album from Triple C's (Carol City Cartel), Custom Cars & Cycles released last Tuesday, I had my doubts.  Rarely does a well-established rapper bring his friends along and create an album worth listening to more than once.  The group leaked some good tracks in the run-up to the album release, and a couple quality videos, but in such situations it's easier for the established rapper to carry the group on his back.  Not so, with an album.  It turns out that the trio of Young Breed, Torch, and Gunplay aren't simply Rick Ross' weed carriers as some suggested, but all manage to hold their own next to Ross and contribute to the group dynamic.  As evidenced by the cover, Ross often takes center stage, but his forward presence seems to be more of a marketing consideration than a reaction to a deficit in talent among the other members.

With such a large group, one can expect some longer songs.  Over half of them stretch beyond five minutes, and the epic "Diamonds & Maybachs Pt. 2" reaches past the seven minute mark.  You know Triple C's is doing something right, because none of them seem too long.  The album is also loaded with features, stretching from Young Jeezy and Gucci Mane (on separate tracks of course) to Mack 10 and Warren G.  However, the effort stays cohesive and none of the guests sound out of place or take away from the (somewhat ostentatious) feeling created by the group.



The album is good, with several notable tracks including the aforementioned "Diamonds & Maybachs Pt. 2" and the understated "Throw it in the Sky."  The production is consistent, even when ranging from synth-fuelled trap anthems to the sample-heavy  hustler epics.  I'm a little disappointed that the album isn't receiving more attention and I think some were a little too quick to write it off.

Album Rating: 7/10

Update:  It's looking like the album is going to do only around 4,000 in first week sales which is a dismal number.  A lot of underground rappers do better than that with next to no promotion.  And to think that Triple C's had the wait of Def Jam behind them and some high profile features, it's pretty sad.  It'll be interesting to see how this plays out, because frankly the album deserves more love.

Womb 2 The Tomb



Finally the video for "Womb 2 The Tomb" has been released featuring my two favorite new artists, Pill and Freddie Gibbs.  Last week I posted "The Dash" without realizing that it was a prelude to the release of this video.  I don't know how it got by me, but now the link is pretty damn clear.  I recommend watching "The Dash" first in order to get the full experience, as Pill and Freddie Gibbs definitely went for a more cinematic route.  We'll see these two talented artists collaborate more in the future, and I'm not alone in hoping for a full album from the pair.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Week 8 Update

Week 7 was a hard one.  I only went 8-5 with some game results that I found pretty surprising, including a Steelers win over the vikings that I was very happy about.  San Francisco is faltering after a great start, but we'll see if this quarterback switch can get them back on their feet.  There's also been word that Vince Young will be replacing Kerry Collins at QB in Tennessee.  These are some interesting mid-season changes, but nothing entirely unexpected.  What is a little more intriguing is that the Houston Texans should win their third straight against Buffalo this weekend.

Denver @ Baltimore:  The Ravens have gotten really close to beating a couple of undefeated teams, so it won't surprise me if they take the win here at home.  The Denver defense should present a real problem for the passing game, however, so I don't expect a lot of scoring from the Ravens unless they get Ray Rice going early.

Houston @ Buffalo:  The Bills keep accidentally winning, but Houston has been on a roll, defeating a good team last week.  Look for the Houston offense to have a field day here.

New York Giants @ Philadelphia:  The Giants have suffered two straight losses, which is odd for a team that came out of the gate so strong.  On the other hand the Eagles were embarrassed by the Raiders.  Basically, each has the capacity to fall apart at inopportune times.  In this divisional matchup I predict both teams to play very well, but the whole city of Philadelphia is going to be riled up as this game mirrors the world series precisely.

San Francisco @ Indianapolis:  The Colts are able to win again, but it's hard to predict how well the 49ers are able to match them, with a new quarterback leading the offense.

Cleveland @ Chicago:  The Bears have been stumbling, but the Browns are one of the worst teams in the NFL right now.  Look for Chicago to try to regain some confidence with this game.

Seattle @ Dallas:  Dallas is looking good with Miles Austin coming out as the new offensive weapon for Tony Romo.  Seattle is inconsistent and their passing defense is very porous.

St. Louis @ Detroit:  The Lions team is suffering from a number of injuries, but at least they know how to score.

Oakland @ San Diego:  I'd really like to see LT get loose in this game.  The Raiders have a terrible defense and he should be able to exploit it if given the chance.  In any case, the Chargers don't have much to worry about in this game.

Jacksonville @ Tennessee:  The Jaguars have been inconsistent, and I have a feeling Vince Young is going to feel pressured to perform very well against them.  If he can consistently hook up with Nate Washington or Kenny Britt, it should free the running game up a little for Chris Johnson.

Minnesota @ Green Bay:  The Packers almost had the game in their first matchup on Monday night, and they're not looking to let another one slip away, especially at home.  They have been improving consistently to become a very good and well-rounded team.  The Green Bay defense doesn't let Favre have his way this time.

Carolina @ Arizona:  Last week I was the one to underestimate the Cardinals.  They should perform really well in this game.  Jake Delhomme will throw a couple of interceptions, but the Panther running game should have more success.

Atlanta @ New Orleans:  That was a close one for New Orleans, but they managed to rally, which is the mark of a good team.  On the other hand, Atlanta hasn't played as well as many were expecting.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Dash



DJ Skee just dropped this gem off via his Youtube channel.  I don't know if it's a preview for something bigger or simply an artistic piece, but it is incredibly captivating.  As a matter of fact, I think I've watched the 50 second clip about five times now.  If you've been following me, you already know Freddie Gibbs is one of my favorite new artists and his narration, role, and writing(?) in this are superb.  But what really makes the video is the exceptional filmography.  Whoever directed and shot this couldn't have had a big budget but I'll be damned if they didn't make up for it with technique.

Thug Passion


 Lil Boosie continues his long line of great mixtapes with the new Thug Passion.  As Lil Boosie heads off to serve a year-long prison sentence on weapons and drug charges, he's promised his fans a slew of new material, from mixtapes to videos, that he plans on dropping routinely while behind bars.  This is apparently the first offering and it's a good one, showing why Boosie made a name for himself on the mixtape circuit.  There are a few "soft" tracks but most of it is straight southern gangsta music, of which the final track is the real standout.  The only problem I have with this mixtape is the inordinate amount of DJ drops, and for some reason Boosie got two goddamn DJs to present the tape, essentially doubling the interruptions.  If a no-DJ version leaks I'll make sure to post it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Trap Tuesday

Welcome to the first consciously weekly column known as Trap Tuesday.  It'll be a look at a few songs representative of the best trap music to be released during the week.  Funny enough, not much was released this week that was of interest to me, so I'll be going back to some overlooked stuff from a couple weeks ago as well.

"Million Dollarz" by The RPZ is a song off their new mixtape that I still haven't found the time to listen to in full.  This track stood out to me, though, and if for some reason you're struggling to find a good song about money, this one is for you.  The slightly sped up sample is great by itself, but gets torn up (in a good way) once the 808 drums come in.

"Gangsta" is the last track on a new mixtape from St 2 Lettaz of G-Side.  Most of the mixtape was pretty underwhelming, but it finishes on a high note.  The whole vibe of the track is a little bugged out, but manages to stay menacing at the same time.  Something like Gucci meets Wu-Tang.  It sounds familiar, and the themes are nothing new, but when you get down to it I'm not sure you could find another song like it.

"Fix Ya Face" (No DJ) is the newest (but not exactly new) track from Yung Redd, featuring Lil Keke and Killa Kyleon.  Redd absolutely destroys his verse, leaving the others to clean up.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Week 7 Update


I'm a lot cooler with an 11-3 record in predicting last week's games,and I was one of the few who gave the win to the Cards.  I don't understand why people continue to underestimate them.  However, I think they lose this week, but only because they happen to be playing one of the best teams in the NFL currently.  How about the Eagles' loss to the Raiders?  I'm not sure anyone saw that coming, and it's still a little confusing to me.  Those are the kinds of breakdowns the Eagles are prone to from time to time, though.

Indianapolis @ St. Louis: I would not be surprised to see the Colts get back to the super bowl this year.  Almost everything is clicking for them, and even their running game is getting better.

New England Vs. Tampa Bay: The Bucs get embarrassed at Wembley Stadium.  Although is it embarrassing if everybody expects it?  I don't think this will be another blowout provided by the Patriots, but it probably won't be pretty.

Minnesota @ Pittsburgh:  This is a hard choice for me, partly because the Steelers are one of my teams.  But they haven't looked in top shape lately, even though some individuals have been playing exceptionally.  If their defense steps up in this game they might win it.

San Diego @ Kansas City:  San Diego is playing a little better, and this should be an easy win to help them regain some confidence.  Tomlinson also looked a lot better last week, and he should repeat his success this week.  In fact, he needs to for the offense to regain its power.

Green Bay @ Cleveland:  This is an easy win for a Green Bay team that continues to improve.

San Francisco @ Houston:  Houston played well last week, and we will see if they can continue to improve.  I have my doubts.  On the other hand, San Francisco is coming off a bye, and getting Frank Gore back into the lineup.

Buffalo @ Carolina:  The Panthers are getting their running game back and playing against a running defense that allowed over 200 yards to a single rusher last week.  Enough said.

New York Jets @ Oakland:  One of these days I'm going to stop picking the Jets.  I just can't see myself picking the Raiders over them, though.

Atlanta @ Dallas:  This is another hard one to pick, but I'm going to go with my 'Boys.  They're just coming off a bye and have a better all-around offensive attack so far this year.  This is really only because Michael Turner has been unable to fully get going.  They also probably don't want to lose another one at home.

New Orleans @ Miami:  The Saints really look like the real deal this year.

Chicago @ Cincinnati:  The Bears need to win this one, and luckily for them the Bengal defense is hurting.

Arizona @ New York Giants:  This could be a very good game but, barring last week, the Giants have shown themselves to be the superior team this year.

Philadelphia @ Washington:  The Eagles rebound from a shocking loss last week in this divisional matchup.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Trap Tuesday



"Trap or Die II" is the newest Young Jeezy track to leak from his upcoming album.  The song is produced by usual Gucci producer, Zaytoven, which is notable given the "problems" Gucci Mane and Jeezy have had in the past.  Whatever the intent, the track is great and Jeezy's rasp definitely benefits from Zaytoven's twinkling synths.



"We Outside" by Pill Ft. Alley Boy is clearly designed to serve as a sequel to "Trap Goin' Ham," with a similar chorus, content, and production.  This is another good track from his upcoming 4075: The Refill, which was delayed from a release earlier this month.

Trap Tuesday has a nice ring to it.  I just might have to make this a weekly column.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I'm Good (Remix)



 The Clipse single "I'm Good" from their forthcoming Till The Casket Drops gets the remix treatment, including a featured verse from Rick Ross.  This single got mixed reviews from fans but I personally dig it, and the remix is good as well.  The album is done and has a new release date set for December 8th.

BRRRRR!!!

Three Gucci Mane tapes in one night.  Is this overkill?  Certainly, but it's the kind of overkill that I can appreciate.  I think Gucci's got a chip on his shoulder after "only" being ranked the 6th hottest rapper by MTV, and he's out to take the industry by storm.  I downloaded this Cold War series Saturday night and haven't found time to listen to all of the material yet, but what I have listened to is high quality.  I really applaud the idea, plus the titles and covers can't be beat.



 

 

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I'm That Nigga



There's not much to say about Freddie Gibbs that hasn't already been said.  He's one of the most technically proficient rappers I've heard in years, able to switch styles with ease.  Of course, he's not bad with the lyrics either.  Gangsta Gibbs also seems to be in the studio constantly.  "I'm That Nigga" is a new track from his upcoming mixtape, The Labels Tryin To Kill Me!  The lyrics are traditional Gibbs, but the style is a little newer; a little less blunted.

Mind Of A Maniac



Lil Boosie has released yet another video from Superbad.  This time, Boosie steers away from the Ghetto scenes prominent in his last few and switches back and forth between the studio and a mental institution.  Boosie plays the role of maniac extremely well, and the video is one of the more captivating I've seen recently, simply from the pain expressed.  Lil Boosie begins his prison term soon, but claims he already has his next album finished, to be released immediately after he gets out of jail.  He has also said to expect a few videos for the album to come out as his term begins.

Week 6 Update

Last week I went 9-5, which again isn't too great, but from what I've seen everybody else called the games pretty poorly too.  There were certainly some surprises: Cinci over Baltimore, and Denver over the Pats for example.  Atlanta was on fire last weekend, and we'll see if they can carry that over to Chicago.  They should be able to, considering the Bears have a far inferior defensive unit.  Here are the match-ups:

Houston @ Cincinnati: The Bengals are a confusing unit, but they've won their last four, and against some good teams too.  Houston has not been playing like a good team, even though I still believe they are.  Their coach simply isn't using the weapons at his disposal.

Detroit @ Green Bay:  Detroit is no longer a terrible team, and they have in fact been scoring quite well.  However, Aaron Rodgers has no problem picking apart their defense.

St. Louis @ Jacksonville:  The Jags are another confusing team.  After a blowout in Seattle, they should be able to come back and take on the Rams.

Baltimore @ Minnesota:  After losing to the Bengals, the Ravens don't look so good.  The Vikings should be able to win, though I still don't believe they are as good as some people are saying.

New York Giants @ New Orleans:  This is the game to watch this week.  Two really good undefeated teams will meet in what should be a fantastic showdown.  It'll be a close one, and either outcome is reasonable.  I pick the Saints based on how well they have played on defense this year.

Cleveland @ Pittsburgh:  The browns are still an embarrassment.  The Steelers really have no choice but to win this game by a large margin.

Carolina @ Tampa Bay:  The Bucs are still struggling while the Panthers are coming off of a good win.  Carolina still needs to find better use of their offense, though.

Kansas City @ Washington:  The Redskins are extremely inconsistent, while Kansas City has been getting better.

Philadelphia @ Oakland:  Oh, Oakland.

Arizona @ Seattle:  The Seahawks looked good last week, but I'm not convinced they can keep it up.  Despite the naysayers, I still think Arizona is a good team.

Tennessee @ New England:  The Titans have been unable to get anything going this year.  It's a little disappointing.  The Patriots aren't great, but they're still very good.

Buffalo @ New York Jets:  The Jets get back to winning against a team with poor offerings on both sides of the ball.

Chicago @ Atlanta:  The Falcons played beautifully last weekend.  The Bears don't have enough on defense to make me think they can't have a repeat performance.

Denver @ San Diego:  San Diego has just not been performing well.  I wouldn't be surprised to see them make a comeback in this game, but I have to go with a Denver team that has been playing very well this season.

She Luv It Remix



Tales of Pimp C's sexcapades are generally the only UGK songs there's a chance I'm not liking.  But as graphic as this one is, there is something about it that made me enjoy it over others.  The remix of "She Luv It" from this year's UGK 4 Life features Slim Thug and Killa Kyleon, with the same verses from the Pimp and the Bun.  Considering how many 16s Bun B drops on features, it would have been nice to hear a new verse from him.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Shine Blockas



I saw a video several months back that showed Gucci in the studio with Big Boi working on a track for Sir Luscious Leftfoot.  I always wondered what came of that, seeing as there were no details beyond the short clip.  The answer is "Shine Blockas," an exquisite track from the upcoming album featuring a good Gucci verse, and a powerful backing provided by a Harold Melvin sample.  Big Boi claims the album is coming within the next two quarters, but it's hard to take seriously after so many delays.  However, it looks like he really is pushing for it now, with two leaks in the last two weeks.  Big Boi might be feeling out the reaction and looking for a single to catch on.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Better Believe It Remix



"Better Believe It," the lead single from Lil Boosie's Superbad is one of my favorite of the year.  Originally featuring Young Jeezy and Webbie, there's something about the way all three rappers attack the track that leaves a lasting impression.  It's one of those songs that makes you ready to take on the world.  Now Boosie has released a "G mix" featuring other big name southern acts: Bun B, Yo Gotti, Trae, and Foxx.  While I'm still partial to the original, this remix is a great offering from all involved and a worthy addition.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Burrrprint



Gucci Mane and DJ Drama have teamed up again for a heavy new mixtape.  It's no secret that I've got a lot of love for Gucci Mane, even though his last mixtape outing went a little too pop.  Here, Gucci looks to be back in form with certain names noticeably, and thankfully absent from the guest list.  Let's get back to the slang and bang, and fruity chains.

Tracklist:

01. Intro
02. Dope Boys
03. Frowney Face
04. Watch Cost A Bently (Feat. Bun B & Rocko)
05. Think I Want Her
06. “Yelp” I Got All Of That
07. Trap Goin Crazy
08. Gucci Speaks 2
09. My Shadow
10. Gucci Speaks
11. Real As They Get (Feat. OJ Da Juiceman & Wacka Flocka Flame)
12. Excuse Me
13. More (Feat. Kandi & Sean Ceasar)
14. Gucci Speaks
15. Candy Lady
16. Candy Lady (Remix) (Feat. Brick Squad)
17. No No No
18. Foreign (Feat. Shawty Redd)
19. Flexin (Feat. Brick Squad)
20. My Chain (Feat. Brick Squad)
21. Esco - Foreign Whips (Bonus Track)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Play Me Some Pimpin' 2



Juicy J & Project Pat released a new mixtape hosted by DJ Drama.  The tracks are hit and miss, but it's worth Downloading..  "8 Pounds of Purple" also features a dope Gucci Mane verse.

Tracklist:

1. Juicy J  Intro
2. Fish Aint Bitin
3. Get Yo Ass Robbed
4. 8 Pounds of Purple
5. Hood Sprung
6. Lil Freak
7. Twerk
8. Imma Get This Money
9. KFC
10. Burglar Bars
11. Cali Drugs
12. Juicy J Speaks
13. Get At Me
14. Hyde Park
15. Knock On My Doe
16. Lay Yo Ass Down
17. Morning PAper
18. North Memphis Like Me
19. Want Me Gone
20. We Got It Come Get It
21. Scales And Baking soda
22. Juicy J Outro

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Week 5 Update

Last week I went 10-4 in predicting the outcome of the matches in week 4.  I think my heart expected Green Bay and Dallas to play better than they did, but getting almost 75% correct isn't bad.  Let's take a look at this week's matchups:

Cincinnati @ Baltimore:  The Bengals have been playing better than expected, but I still don't really trust them, especially after such a narrow win over the Browns.  On the other hand Joe Flacco has been playing consistently well for the Ravens and he won't have trouble finding holes in the Cinci defense.

Cleveland @ Buffalo:  The Bills played poorly last week, while the Browns played well (for them).  Still, with all the shakeups in the roster at Cleveland recently I don't think they're ready to win one yet.  Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson both have a chance at tearing through the Cleveland D-line.

Washington @ Carolina:  I think the Panthers finally pull out that win.  They're a better team with far more weapons at their disposal.

Pittsburgh @ Detroit:  Detroit hasn't been terrible, and with how poorly the Steeler defense played at the end of Sunday night's game, I could see Detroit's offense scoring a good amount.  But Polomalu should be back to close the gaps this week and the Pittsburgh offense is looking hot again, especially after finding their running game.

Dallas @ Kansas City:  Dallas didn't look great last week, which was a bit of a disappointment.  But really, they have to be able to find success against Kansas City.  Look for Tony Romo to return to form.

Oakland @ New York Giants:  The Giants are looking great.  Oakland wasn't good when they were healthy.

Tampa Bay @ Philadelphia:  This is another easy pick as Philly has been performing well, while Tampa really has not.

Minnesota @ St. Louis:  Brett Favre played incredibly well on Monday night.  But even if Sage Rosenfels was in, the Vikings would win this one.

Atlanta @ San Francisco: Both teams are looking pretty good this year and either outcome would be unsurprising.  However, I'm going with a well-rested Atlanta just coming off of a bye.

Houston @ Arizona:  Houston will have to wait to win a game yet again.  I expect the Cardinals to perform well, though they have been relatively inconsistent this year.

New England @ Denver:  I just don't believe that the Broncos are as good as their record would suggest.  The Patriots should provide them with their first loss.

Jacksonville @ Seattle:  At the start of the season I thought Seattle might have a chance to reclaim their division, but I'm definitely rethinking that.  On the other hand, the Jaguars don't look half bad, and David Garrard has been performing well on a pretty consistent basis.


Indianapolis @ Tennessee:  The Colts look great this year, and even their defense is stepping up.  Sadly, I don't think this will be much of a game.

New York Jets @ Miami:  Miami looked good last week while the Jets didn't, but I think the Jets have a better team and Mark Sanchez will be looking to redeem himself.  Maybe Braylon Edwards doesn't drop a pass?

The Funkiest



I got involved in a discussion this morning regarding which funk song should be recognized as the "funkiest."  A lot of people were pushing for something out of the Parliament/Funkadelic catalog, which is full of good contenders but to me is a little too rooted in rock & roll early on (not that that's a bad thing) and then becomes a little too spacey in the later years. Some good suggestions were thrown around: "What is Hip?" by Tower of Power, "Sex Machine" by James Brown (among many others), and "Jungle Boogie" by Kool & The Gang.  Then somebody reminded me of Earth Wind & Fire's "Serpentine Fire."  While I usually gravitate more towards the raw funk of the late 1960s and early 1970s, I couldn't help but agreeing that this was one of the most undeniably funky songs I had heard.  It was also one of the first funk songs that really captivated me as a kid.  From the rapid-fire brass to the super tight groove provided by Caribbean drums and a bouncy bass-line the song exudes those intangible "funk" qualities.  After looking through some of the other suggestions, I think a case could also be made for songs like Zapp and Roger's "More Bounce to the Ounce" and Stevie Wonder's "Superstition."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mean Doe Green



Raekwon just loosed an unreleased track from 1999 via Twitter titled "Mean Doe Green".  We see Rae trying to slowly transition out of that claustrophobic Wu sound of the Forever era, without abandoning it in full.  It's nothing mind blowing, but it'll have your head nodding.