You know how sometimes you are at a party, surrounded by people, and then you and a couple other people decide to sneak out to the garage to "do" something? Well, it has been a while for me, but a couple nights ago, that's is exactly what Catch, Benny, and myself did. I know what you're thinking, but there was no smoke or white powder involved. It was something much more pure and enjoyable:
Hi everybody, it's me, BrainSlice. I am alive (reports of my demise were greatly exaggerated. I wasn't stabbed to death in Salt Lake City), even though I haven't been writing. So, back to business.
Every so often, an album comes along and makes me feel something. Not something like "this is good music", more like something I forgot. My childhood, the wonder and excitement of discovering. Losing yourself in the experience, forgetting everything else that is swirling around you in everyday life and just being in the moment. It's more and more difficult to have that these days. Kids, career, bills, ex-wives (yeah, the plural is intentional), injuries, phone notifications, acid flashbacks, vertigo, roosters crowing, dogs shitting in your yard, software updates, empty whisky bottles, laundry, email spam, blood and vomit stains on your shoe, seeds and stems, acid flashbacks..oh wait I already said that. Anyway, when an album does this for me, and I am truly lost, transported somewhere, be it a real or imaginary place, I am content.
One record comes to mind right now:
Guilty Simpson "Dice Game" - yes, I am aware that this one is not new. It's still fresh to me though, and I ain't even trying to impress any of y'all by being the first to write a review or some shit. Fuck that. This album makes me FEEL Detroit. Apollo Brown and Guilty are both masterful, and I get lost in the landscape of the Motor City every time I put it on. Go buy it, because I know your cheap ass didn't already, if you've even listened to it.
A typical October day in the Great Northwest equals: chilly, overcast, and overall dreary. You get used to it, but when you’ve been spoiled by such an amazing summer, it takes a minute to submit to the return of FallInterIng - the three seasons not named “Summer,” that seem to blend together around here. Throw in a case of the Mondays, and one could understand my less than stellar mood today.
Luckily, Jasper T. and John Crown got my back. These two local cats got together a little while ago, and not only made the fusion of folk and hip-hop work on their first collabs, “The Lily” and “Julie,” they straight said “fuck your genres” and killed it on stage together for some full sets I was lucky enough to catch. Somehow, it just works. And their new single, “Broken Singer Blues 2.0” continues the trend: Heartfelt strings, lyrics and vocals flow together nicely over a sick beat…Northwest wizardry, my friends.
Coined “Folk Hop” by its creator, this is the first cut from Jasper’s soon-to-drop remix project, featuring a flood of talented local producers from the likes of Keyboard Kid, DJ Phinnesy, and Trox, who happens to bless the beat on “BSB2.0.” I could drop more names and reasons why you should also be looking forward to The Sweet Dark, Pt. 1 Remix EP, but I don’t need to. Just listen to this song, buy it, and tell Monday to suck it. Peep:
Y'all didn't know....AYCE lives, son!!! In this celebration of blogger life, me and BrainSlice are tradin' lines...take it (literally, line for line). So, Kendrick said somethin'...then Joell said somethin' else...and then B.o.B ('amember him?) replied as well...and then I said "who really gives a shit, because Joe just finally found his balls and moved to the REAL town?"
Yeah, so I'm here fuckers (no not the Internet, I'm actually in the Emerald City), and I have drunk too much vodka, so fuck ya'll; there's lots of good raps going on.
And some not so good ones, too (turn on the radio), but that's neither here nor there...bottom line is that everyone thinks Kendrick did something wrong, or offensive. Stop it.
RAPPERS RAP AND LOTS OF TIMES THEY SAY REALLY DOPE THINGS THAT PEOPLE GET ALL WORKED UP ABOUT WHICH IS WHY RAP IS FUCKING DOPE SO FUCK YOU IF YOU DO NOT LIKE RAP.
Yeah...what he said. Or something. Anyway, we like hip hop, and we like talmbout hip hop...and we not going anywhere. One.
Just as I'm finally recovering from "Post-Concussion Syndrome" (thank you Benny for the diagnosis, later confirmed by my doctor), this week happened. The vertigo is back. Action Bronson / Harry Fraud, Statik Selektah, Prodigy / Alchemist, and MadLib / Quasimoto all have my head swimming. The last few days I've been walking around with a case of the spins. Feels like I took a couple XL bong rips of skunky Colorado green while downing the better part of a fifth of Jack Daniels (Ed's Note: Yes, BrainSlice really does know how that feels.) So, in order to get my bearings back, I will forego further commentary on this RIDICULOUS week in Hip Hop and grab onto something familiar.
"He just walked up and kicked me." My daughter recently had a cast removed from her ankle. She struggled for over a year after injuring a growth plate while in dance class. During that time, many kids at her middle school mocked her, hurling accusations of faking the injury. We had finally diagnosed and fixed the problem, then this little bastard KICKED her. That was it for me. I went to the school, found this hobbit-sized miscreant, and KICKED HIM. As he cried in pain I told him, "Go find your dad, if you have one, and tell that worthless bag of shit he's next."
I made that last part up, but that's what I wanted to do. I try to teach my daughter to rise above the mean and petty masses at her school, and society in general. She's a good kid. No, really she is. I'm not using that phrase like your juvenile probation officer did, or even the way the teachers at school do when they are talking to you at Parent-Teacher Conference, treating you like you are no smarter than your snot-nosed sixth grader that is getting a C minus in Earth Science.
My daughter is kind and sensitive, thoughtful, artistic, and friendly to everyone. So, why did this degenerate little fucker decide to kick her right where she had a cast the previous day? I don't know. I didn't know when I was in middle school either. That shit just happens. Some parents are terrible at their job and should never have been allowed to breath, let alone procreate. They do it anyway, and their demon-spawn carry on the family tradition of being worthless and contributing to the downfall of society.
We had recently watched a documentary called "Bully" together. Afterwards, we discussed what she can do personally to counteract that type of behavior at school. The conversation ranged from what she should do when she is targeted, to what she should do when she sees other kids being victimized. I didn't have all the answers. Some of the children featured in the documentary had committed suicide. Others soldiered on; but only with the support of parents, siblings, and friends. Sadly, the teachers and school administrators weren't much help. They can only keep their eyes on so many kids. There were parents who had lost their children, attempting to raise awareness. Other parents at PTA meetings raised their voices angrily, blaming the school. There were also kids who were smarter and more aware of others' feelings that banded together to help one another.
One thing my little girl took with her after our exchange was that she cannot be silent. It takes strength to counteract the bullying. It takes character and resolve to be aware of, and befriend those who need it the most. She knows she must speak up. Tell friends, parents, and teachers what is going on. Be an example to her peers.
That said, please watch this video by our friends Fearce and Bean, and share it.
Sometimes, you just need to sit down, put the headphones on, and zone the fuck out. I just did that, and I'm still doing it. In fact, I can't stop. I'm not zoning out as in falling asleep and shit, it's more like someone keeps slapping me upside the head so I will pay attention. When I was a kid, my Bishop taught me how to golf (yes, I just said "Bishop"), and he was brutal. Pulling my hair straight ahead of me so I wouldn't move when I swung the club, etc. Listening to this production is kind of like that. It demands my attention.
Recently, I was reminded how hard this shit is when I was finishing up my first listen of Ill Bill's The Grimy Awards. The album was just coming to an end, and then THIS hit me over the head like a shovel:
CLANG! Maybe some of ya'll haven't been knowing about Stu Bangas. To that I say SHAME ON YOU.
Go HERE and check out his latest release. Also, I'm not going to educate you too much about who he has worked with. I think it's more important that you discover that for yourselves. Just remember that name, and start paying attention. That's what a good lil' Hip Hop head would do.
Have you noticed I can't stop posting these Soundcloud widgets? Maybe you're even annoyed by it? Well, to that I say EAT A DICK. These beats are so good that it would be a damn shame if you didn't just click on over to Stu's SOUNDCLOUD and listen for a while. Then maybe you should BUY SOMETHING. Follow him on Twitter. I do, and that is not just a trivial thing. I actually don't follow a lot of people, and I tend to rotate. Watch an artist for a few days, get bored or worse: annoyed, then click that "unfollow" button and never look back. I've actually been following Mr. Bangas for quite a while, and I plan to continue. Smart, talented, and not full of himself like a lot of artists are. We also seem to share similar taste in movies, at least some of the time.
Talib Kweli once listed some of his favorite verses of all time on his Tumblr page. One that stood out to me was RA The Rugged Man's verse on "Uncommon Valor: A Vietnam Story". The track, off Legendary Classics: Volume 1 which featured Jedi Mind Tricks, definitely showcases Rugged Man's lyrical prowess. Thing is, EVERY MOTHERFUCKING TRACK HE'S ON DOES THIS. Sorry, I got a little excited there. My point is, I feel RA has been slept on. Despite being an independent veteran of the Hip Hop movement, champion of the so-called underground, accomplished writer, and insane lyricist, few self-proclaimed Hip Hop heads I speak with will list him as one of their favorites. This is a damn shame. I mean, shit, even Notorious B.I.G. stated, "and I thought I was the illest" in reference to Mr. Thorburn.
With the mutual respect Talib and RA have for each other, it comes as no surprise that there is collaboration between the two on Rugged Man's forthcoming album: Legends Never Die. I knew it would be dope, but this shit right here?
I don't think a post about Rugged Man is complete without a movie reference, so, to quote The Stranger (The Big Lebowski): "Sometimes, there's a man, well, he's just the man for his time and place."
Hip Hop needs RA The Rugged Man, and it's about damn time we get another album out of him. Legends Never Die drops April 30th, and if you don't pull out your Palm Pilot (or whatever new-fangled gadget the kids use nowadays) and mark the date, I'm pulling your card. That's right. you are no longer allowed to call yourself a Hip Hop fan.
Now watch this video:
And maybe take a look at what Talib Kweli and Mr. Green have to say about him:
If you're still not convinced about the relevance of this man in Hip Hop culture, I'll have to repeat the words of Flavor Flav: "Can't do nuttin' for ya man."
Years ago, I was given the opportunity to interview one of my all-time favorite MC's, MadChild of Swollen Members. It was a daunting experience for me. I was nervous, excited, and struggled to keep cool and make it a semi-professional interaction, being such a big fan of the Misguided Angel. The troubling thing about it was the new album due to be released. Armed To The Teeth, their first project in
quite some time. MadChild was just barely sober after several years of hardcore prescription drug abuse, and I felt like the album was very indicative of that. It didn't sound like Swollen Members. I wanted to be honest with him, in a respectful way, about my opinion. There were some awkward moments, but at the end of what turned into and hour-long conversation (it was interrupted a few times by him declining several other scheduled phone interviews), we were new friends. He invited me to hang out at the next possible date, which turned out to be an interesting experience for Benny and I at Nuemo's, and later on the SM Tour bus and at their hotel.
I have since had conversations with artists that were once close with Mad (such as Evidence) and constantly wondered about how Swollen Members and the Battle Axe Family (what was left of it) would rise from the rubble of their leader's self-destruction and rebuild. My hope was that he would be able to stay sober, and eventually get back to making the music that won my allegiance as a fan in the beginning.
I should clarify that there were parts of the new music that I loved, but parts that made me shake my head in confusion. This did not compromise my loyalty. I promised MadChild that I would continue to support the group, and keep an open mind to the direction they were going. I had faith.
Next came Daggermouth, Monsters II, and some solo releases by both MadChild and Prevail (who, by the way is a BEAST on the mic as well). I have the utmost amount of respect for Rob The Viking and Prevail for standing at Mad's side, even as the ship seemed to be sinking. If they had bailed, none of this new music would have been created. The new material showed promise. A gradual return to their roots. During our interview, MadChild spoke of an upcoming project called Beautiful Death Machine that would have an unmistakably familiar sound and feel. A rebirth of the group as the same entity that created Balance, Bad Dreams, and Monsters In The Closet; laced with the wisdom, experience and formidable skills they had gained through the toil and hardship of their lengthy careers. I couldn't wait to hear what was next.
Fitting that this video depicts the group..... uh, WORKING, because that is all they do.
Here's the crazy thing: IT ACTUALLY HAPPENED. The album is here and it is everything I hoped for. With the always sharp production of Rob The Viking and C-Lance; features by Slaine, Ill Bill, Vinnie Paz, Esoteric, Celph Titled, Apathy, and Snak The Ripper; I'm blown away. This is true hardcore Hip Hop at it's finest.
I recently listened to an interview with MadChild on Conspiracy WorldWide Radio. Mad's voice sounded different. More determined and focused than ever. It was inspiring, to say the least. You can check out that interview HERE.
Support Swollen. You can support real Hip Hop by purchasing the album and other merch on their website HERE.
Unlike me, our friends at SubSoniq Radio have stayed on task. Since 2001, despite constant resistance, KB and the crew have continued to support real Hip Hop. The latest "Headphone Session" is definitely worth a listen or two. Take notes.
Like many of us, the SubSoniq crew (KB, K-Murdock, DQ, Gangsta Mittens, and Raw Poetic) do what they do strictly because they love Hip Hop. No whack music here. You can go straight to the website to stream or download the show, get it on your Stitcher Radio app, or stream it live on DJ Bee's Fresh Radio. You're welcome.
If you got anything for us, hit us up here. Whether it's some shit to sample, a request, or whatever, just get at us. We're not responsible for any broken links or other people's mistakes. We just do what we do, so if you find anything offensive: fuck. off. Oh yeah, here's the obligatory "support the artist" message - hey, do what they say, not what they do! One.