Monday, November 30, 2009


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


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.