Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Sure, there's nothing particularly special about this song, but Chali 2na is criminally underrated.  With the voice and the flow, it seems like he could go higher in the game, but his new album barely got a mention anywhere.  Until a couple of weeks ago I wasn't even aware of its existence, and it's a shame for an MC of his stature to be overlooked.

How I Got Over

 The Roots have released a video for their new single, "How I Got Over."  This song speaks to me pretty intensely right now, cause I either just "got over" or am about to.  I'm not sure which.  This track is real dope on some old soul shit.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Trill Is Back

I was slippin, I know.  The last two weeks I've been busy moving, transferring schools, and settling in to a new location, which is why the posting has been nonexistent.  I'll be moving back into the regular posting this week as things get back to normal.

On Sunday night, my university hosted something of a welcoming concert.  It was headlined by the Lifesavas from nearby Portland, Oregon.  A slough of opening acts preceded them, including a couple agonizingly cliche white rappers who were stuck in watered-down Sage Francis mode.  Once Lifesavas arrived, the crowd lit up and got into it.  Maybe it was just the contrast with the previous acts, but I came away feeling like the Lifesavas knew how to throw one of the best shows I've seen.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Refill

PILL - GLASS from on Vimeo.

Pill is back with a new video for the song "Glass" off of his upcoming mixtape 4175: The Refill.  In some ways, this song and video may even be a better combination than "Trap Goin' Ham."  It is somewhat less gritty, but still grounded in the hood, and the beat is somewhat next-generation. Pill is one of the best new artists out there, and with such excellent work it's becoming hard to take the slew of '90s nostalgia albums coming out lately as a necessary contribution.

Your order gets refilled October 6th.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Freddie Gibbs Is Killing It!

 After dropping the mixtape of the year, MiswesternGangstaBoxframeCadillacMuzik, Gangsta Gibbs is back working on another effort.  "Nigga Machine" is the first song we're hearing from the upcoming mixtape, and he goes in over a Public Enemy instrumental.  "I'm from the ghetto not Degrassi."  I wish more people had the balls to make statements like that.  But make no mistake, it's not a diss track or punchline rap.  This is actually one of the more personal songs I've heard Freddie make.

Suspicions Confirmed

When The Blueprint 3 leaked, and "Real as it Gets" Ft. Young Jeezy was heard for the first time, a lot of people were saying that it sounded like it was originally meant to be a Jeezy track.  It turns out Jeezy was going to use the song as the first single from his new album, and wanted to get Jay on it.  When Jay heard it, he decided he wanted it, and it became Blueprint 3 album filler.  It's probably for the best, because I can't see that song making waves.

That New Ro

"Rollin' On Swangas" Ft. Chris Ward is the new leak from Z-Ro's upcoming Heroin, the follow-up to his 2008 Houston rap classic Crack.  Z-Ro continues to kill it over the same style of backdrop he was utilizing on the last album, and he's still operating that sing-song flow he does so well.  Heroin is set for a November release, but Z-Ro is claiming label troubles with Rap-A-Lot records, previously claiming they didn't want to release it.  However, since the date is from a Rap-A-Lot promo, there's a good chance it'll be dropping in a couple months.

In related news, make sure to check out Houston Press's countdown of the 25 greatest Houston rap albums.  They're counting down with a weekly post every Thursday.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Antidote

Fashawn, a newcomer from Fresno, California had his album pushed back from a mid-August release to an October one.  As a sampler of what Fashawn has to offer, he has released The Antidote, an EP-like offering compiled and produced by The Alchemist (Exile covers all of the production on the actual album).  What is meant by "compiled" is clear when Fashawn raps over the entirety of Marvin Gaye's instrumental, "T Plays it Cool," from the blaxploitation soundtrack Trouble Man.  Luckily, Fashawn manages to rip the classic track apart.  A lot of the samples used here are very familiar, including a track that borrows from Roy Ayers' "We Live in Brooklyn, Baby."  This is no problem for me, given that I generally enjoy hearing different styles over similar backgrounds.  Fashawn himself is a good rapper, if nothing exceptional, and deserves your attention when Boy Meets World drops on October 20th.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

About Time

The football season kicks off tomorrow, and with it the fantasy season.  I consider myself a bit of a football fanatic.  Though I'm sure I couldn't compete with some fans, I think I'm far enough gone to elicit some looks of disapproval.  I played fantasy football for the first time on last season, and with a keen eye for sleepers, ended up making it to my league's championship game (where I lost).  My draft wasn't that great, but I had some winning hunches (taking Aaron Rodgers after the 10th round, Desean Jackson, etc.), and I played the waiver wire every week, snatching up rising stars.  Really, a good knowledge of the free agents available was the key to my success in that league.

This year I'm participating in three leagues, and trying out different strategies.  For the first time, I'll be playing with people I semi-know in a league consisting of readers and contributors to The Smoking Section.  Out of all my leagues, I'd like to win this the most, because it includes some high quality bragging rights.  The draft was held earlier today and I fared pretty well.  I decided not to worry about any #1 players, but instead worry about drafting a unit that would be rock solid week in and week out.  I think I did pretty well in that regard, but I got the feeling that this will be another league where playing the waivers may put me over the top.  Only time will tell, but I'll probably continue to do irregular football-related updates in the future.

Boosie Video Blowout

I guess Lil Boosie's way of fighting leaks is to leak half his upcoming album in the form of videos.  Here's the lot of em in order of their release.

Update:  He released one more official video just days ago, but it got taken down by his own label.  I don't really understand the politics, but Warner may have decided he was shooting too many.  Or they feared the excessive gun waving in the video wouldn't help his weapons charge trial.  It was the least intriguing of the videos in any sense, so it's not a huge loss.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Responsibilities Of Music Consumers

A few days ago, DJ Greg Street went on a bit of a rant on Twitter (sigh) regarding the purchasing power of the hip-hop consumer. He had some good points, encouraging hip-hop listeners to buy albums as a means of demanding that record labels devote more attention to the hip-hop market. However, he suggested we be less critical and buy more albums regardless of quality. This is simply poor advice, and I will not encourage anybody to buy (his example) The Blueprint 3, though I do encourage readers to purchase several other albums this month. Consumers should not be expected to support a sub-par product simply because the artist has made great music in the past. If you feel Jay needs your support, buy The Black Album again. When you're buying an album you are supporting not just the artist, but a specific artistic direction as well. In the end, DJ Greg Street got me thinking about a number of issues related to music consumption and I felt the need to discuss them.

There is a widespread notion that the sales of hip-hop and rap albums are declining, however I have yet to see any quantitative assessment that suggests the sales of this particular genre are declining at a rate faster than album sales as a whole. It is inarguable that hip-hop has passed its peak market share, but to suggest that it is in a steady decline, teetering on the precipice of jazzdom, is to ignore reality. As long as hip-hop is consistently being demanded in clubs, and played in numerous commercials, there is little reason to fear for its well-being. The genre is more ubiquitous in popular media than it ever has been. Whether this translates into “good” hip-hop is another issue.

As with any genre, there is certainly an amount of trash out there. If you desire for there to be more artists like those you consider good, it makes sense to buy their albums rather than purchasing any hip-hop release just to support the idea. On a personal level, an album that I consider good has been released every other week on average this year. That means at least 25 albums I would consider buying, or at least $250 dropped on new releases. Given my current financial situation, I can't manage that kind of output, meaning I have to choose. Do I purchase those I think are the best? Do I decide some artists need more support than others? Do I show favoritism to independent releases? In this day and age, you have to think about what you are saying with your dollar when you buy an album. It's an odd concept, but I think that's the main message Greg Street was trying to convey. In a sense, you're also casting a vote.

Of course, there is an argument to be made that purchasing a major label release only serves to reinforce the industry status quo in terms of artist management, distribution, digital rights, pricing, copyright, sample laws, etc. While I agree with the sentiment of this argument, I can't support the idea of abandoning artists. I don't have the answers, but something needs to change. The record labels have been operating at the pre-Napster status quo to the detriment of artists and consumers alike, without taking any meaningful initiative to address the new reality. Downloading cannot be stopped, but consumers have shown that they still believe recording artists are deserving of their money. The labels need to find some way to reconcile these two facts and forego acts of intimidation and symbolic legal actions. However, I find it difficult to believe this will happen, because record labels are increasingly becoming obsolete and will attempt to maintain their hold on music distribution by insisting that nothing has changed.

As a final thought, a decline in sales of individual hip-hop records may not signify a decline in the sales of the genre as a whole. God knows, the market is far more saturated than it was in the 90's. If the information was available (I'm sure I could hunt it down), it would be interesting to do an analysis of the number of units moved in relation to the number of individual albums released.

P.S. Big Boi stated today that he has secured a release date for Sir Luscious Leftfoot and will be making that information available soon. I'm excited, but still skeptical.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Prescription [No DJ Version]

Pill's 4180: The Prescription is an exceptional mixtape, featuring the buzz-inducing single, "Trap Going Ham."  The rest of the tape is mostly a mix of well-known beats adeptly handled by the Atlanta rapper.  If you missed out on the tape earlier in the year, or are looking to update your collection, I strongly recommend downloading the No DJ Version.  Pill's follow-up 4175: The Refill will be dropping soon.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Showing Love For Local Cats


The Sandpeople are a super-sized hip-hop group out of Portland, Oregon.  In terms of numbers and diversity think Wu-Tang, but with a bit less to offer.  A lot of the MCs made names for themselves in the battle circuit, so a good portion of their records still have that component.  Though they have begun to get some attention at the national level, they are still mostly a regional act, and open a lot of shows in the Portland area.  The best thing about this group is their ability to engage a crowd.  Don't let the video fool you,  They have a high level of intensity and are able to feed off each other's energy.

Side-note: one of my favorite record stores, 360 Vinyl, is in the video

New Nipsey

New video from Slauson's own Nipsey Hussle, who will be dropping his major label debut in December.  It'd be great to see the west coast make a comeback.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Cocaine Is A Helluva Drug

This video of a coked-up DMX criticizing Jay-Z is making the rounds.  While it's some funny shit, DMX has a few legitimate points. However, there's probably somebody in a better position to be offering criticism.

Afterthought:  Is X's posse just filming his ass now to get some laughs?  Something about it seems wrong.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Return Of The Purple Tape

Hot damn!  Raekwon's no-longer-mythic Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II leaked several hours ago.  I haven't listened to the album in full yet, so I won't comment on it, but expect a review soon.  One track stood out in my brief listen, and it is really the only impetus you need to buy the album on September 8th.  "Cold Outside" is classic Ghost and Rae, as they step away from coke raps and give a painful glimpse of the life around them, similar to "Babies."

Purchase the album on the 8th and show the labels there is still a market for gritty rap.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009



As far as I'm concerned, Lil Boosie's forthcoming Superbad is going to be the best album arriving this month, though I may retract that statement upon hearing Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2.  Boosie's released three singles so far, each better than the last (the exact opposite of BP3 if my math is correct).  "Loose as a Goose" is a nice club banger that has the added bonus of making you want to mean-mug the girl you're dancing with.  Lil Boosie goes to trial on September 28th and is potentially facing serious time on a charge of carrying a firearm as well as a controlled substance (weed).  If convicted, the minimum sentence is five years.  Everybody makes good albums when they know it might be their last for some time.  Superbad: The Return of Boosie Bad Azz drops September 15th.

Greenbay vs. San Diego

I need a public place to air my Superbowl XLIV prediction, so that when February comes around I can either be mocked or worshiped  with ease.  My choice of the Packers may be a little biased, because I've been a fan ever since I can remember watching a football game.  However, I think this year's team has what it takes, with a resurgent Ryan Grant in the backfield, and the amazing strength and accuracy of quarterback Aaron Rodgers.  The team looked powerful last year, but was lacking a certain cohesiveness that they seem to have now.  The offense looks fantastic, and as long as the run defense is able to improve, the Pack will be a force to be reckoned with.

It's hard to argue against the Chargers making it to the Superbowl.  They're repeat division winners, but haven't made it to the big game yet.  They're hungry, and most importantly they're back to being healthy.  The offense is a powerhouse whether or not LT is in top condition, and the defense is regaining their position.

So there is my Superbowl XLIV prediction.  What's yours?