Warm It Up, Chris

Man. Hearing the news that Chris Kelly of Kris Kross had passed away this past Wednesday of a suspected drug overdose…well, damn (I’m not going to get into a diatribe about the evils of drug use in the entertainment industry, ’cause that’s a completely different post). There just aren’t many words to convey what that loss means to obviously his family and friends, but what it also means to those of us who grew up in the early 90s. I’m talking about us 80s babies, who weren’t really vibing to The Sugar Hill Gang, but who weren’t necessarily going to be caught banging Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic” in earshot of our parents’ bedrooms. No, we found purpose when we peeped that “Jump” video for the first time on BET’s Rap City. These dudes were what, all of like, 13, 14, and they were rapping???
With their clothes on BACKWARDS??? Talk about sticking it to the man (a.k.a. the adults). The next day boys and girls alike were wearing their Yankees shirts backwards, and shaving lines in their eyebrows.

My personal favorite was the “Warm it Up” song and video. Grantland’s Rembert Brown breaks down, or excuse me, explains the intricacies of this awesome video here, but my glee was intensified when I realized that one of their “crew” was Kenny/”Bud” from The Cosby Show (I love The Cosby Show, but most of you know that already). As a whole though, the album was pretty good, and us youngsters obviously felt the same way, since it managed to top the Billboard 200, two months after it dropped (Note: This is kind of a big deal, since it was consistently one of the only rap albums in the top 20 for weeks). I seriously let that tape rock ’til that taped popped. 

This may be completely selfish, but every time someone whose music played a significant part in my growing up (whether good or bad), passes away, it’s almost as if a piece of my childhood has perished as well. I know I talk about the 90s a lot, but dammit, I love the music and memories it gave me. I base my life timeline not on years, but on the music that got me through that notoriously rough period of transition from childhood to adolescence. Thank you, Chris Kelly, for being one of many artists that contributed to that time. May you rest in peace.

R.I.P. Mac Daddy

R.I.P. Mac Daddy

“When I Spit Them Lyrics…”

Today’s post was going to be serious. I swear. I read something earlier in the week that got me all pissed off, and I couldn’t wait to vent. I started the post, and planned on finishing it this weekend. But my weekend was so relaxing, and I couldn’t bear to get myself all worked up. Instead, I’m going to talk about something just as important, if not MORE important (kidding) than my original post.

I was having a discussion with someone, and Jay-Z’s “Renegade” came on. We started discussing how Eminem killed his verses, and that began an intense discourse about the best rap features of the last ten years. I came up with this top five list, and it’s my list, so you can agree, or not agree, I don’t care. These are the top five rap features according to ME, in descending order.

5. Andre 3000 on UGK’s “International Player’s Anthem” 2007

Andre 3000

3000

3000 is a hot rapper. We know this. He can pretty much be guaranteed to shine on any feature he’s put on. He’s the king of the double entendre, and he didn’t disappoint in this song either. Whether it was “cc’ing” or “see, seeing” all the girls, or “giving up the pussy cat that’s in his lap”, he delivered his verse smooth, and made sure it was the most memorable on the song. Actually, I’m ashamed to say, I’ve switched the song off after his verse. I know, UGK blasphemy. But it is what it is.

4. Ludacris on Young Buck’s “Stomp” 2004

Ludacris

Luda wants you to stay off…you know.

Everybody’s favorite underrated rapper. Luda will never get as much respect as he should have, in my opinion. He’s lyrically one of the best around, yet slepted (a made up word) on so often. But not on this song. I will never forget the first time I heard it. Or rather, the version that included Ludacris. I had a mix tape of the version T.I. was on, and it was ah-ight, had a nice little beat, nothing extra special though. But hearing that song with Luda’s verse at the end, in my 1994 Montero (you couldn’t tell me nothin’ in that car) made me actually scream. For you youngins that don’t know, Luda and T.I. had a little beef going on back then, so it was amazing that they were even featured on a song together. Oh, they were featured together alright. When Ludacris’ verse came on, ending the song, by dissing the hell out of T.I., on the SAME DAMN SONG, all you could do was scream. He ended the verse with, “So please stay off the T.I.P. of my…”, well, you can guess the rest.

3. Nicki Minaj on Kanye West’s “Monster” 2010

Nicki Minaj

“Monster” Nicki Minaj

I’m not a Nicki Minaj fan. I’m not with all the gimmicky clothes and wigs, the stupid metaphors, blah blah blah. However, I will give credit where it’s due. Her verse on this song made the entire song. You forget who’s even on the damn song, besides Jay-Z, which is a given on most Kanye West singles. The veterans on this song should be embarrassed by their lack of preparation. My thing is, you heard her spit her verse; why didn’t y’all get back in the booth and tighten your bars up? We’re supposed to believe all of you are monsters on this song? Really? Like the monsters from Monsters, Inc.? The only one who put a little a fear in my heart was the one screaming how she was gonna “eat your brain”. There was enough inflection and emotion in that verse to make me double check the locks on my doors at night.

2. Eminem on Jay-Z’s “Renegade” 2001

Eminem

Eminem is a Renegade

Ok, I cheated a little bit. I said the last ten years, and this one came out eleven years ago. But whatever, Idon’tcareIdon’tcareIdon’tcare. Eminem falls at the bottom of my list of dope MCs. I know I’m in the minority in this one, but I just can’t rock with him. I can count on one hand how many of his songs I actually like. But this song right here? Jay-Z who? When I was listening to this song today, rapping along, I recited every last one of Eminem’s lines. And I could only remember a handful of Jay-Z’s. Don’t get me wrong; Jay is one of my favorite rappers, and is definitely in my top three, but he couldn’t prove it to me on this song. Em murdered the hell out of this song, bottom line. I appreciate him so much more on other people’s ish (see 50 Cent’s “Patiently Waiting“).

1. Jay-Z on Kanye West’s “Never Let Me Down” 2004

Jay-Z

Jigga Man

So, to support my claim that Jay-Z is one of my favorite rappers, he’s my number one favorite feature. It was actually pretty close with he and Em, but I play favorites. This song, no lie, gave me chills when I first heard it (and sometimes still does). This was the height of Roc-A-Fella, and this song was so much an illustration of how powerful they were in the rap game. The entire song is a great song. I listen to it now, and hit repeat a couple of times. Jay-Z rapped about 65% of this song, and it was a flawless 65%. It was so much more than a song. I grew up listening to Jay, from his Reasonable Doubt days to now, being the most successful rapper from the PJs. Hearing how well his words flowed together just let you know that this wasn’t the height of his career. He was going to be even greater. His last couple of bars sums it all up: “Hov’s a living legend, and I’ll tell you why/everybody wanna be Hov, and Hov still alive”. You ain’t never lied Jay.

Me, Myself, and I (co-authored by Anwar W.)

After a great discussion the other day about the demise of the beloved R&B group, Anwar (@A_Double_U) came up with the first in our series on R&B groups. Please comment, and enjoy! 

For people who long for the days when lyrics mattered, Pandora and Spotify are godsend. The other day, I was truly jamming to my custom-made Jagged Edge station, which was playing everything from 112 to Allure (I know, I’m dating myself). As I sang along to some of my favorite songs from some of these groups, I began to get nostalgic thinking of the days of yester-year. Jagged Edge, Jodeci, TLC, Blackstreet, SWV, Brownstone. The list of groups was endless and you couldn’t turn on BET or The Box without their videos crowding your screen. If you were like me, you and your friends practiced their choreographed dance moves and tried to put together outfits from your closet that resembled theirs. Nowadays, though, I’m hard pressed to name even one active R&B group…or hip hop group for that matter (yeah, we still have The Roots, but they are more of a hip-hop band. I’m thinking more A Tribe Called Quest or Wu Tang). 

112

So what happened to the group? Is it our “Me First” culture that celebrates the individual rather than the collective efforts of a group that brought the group’s demise? Maybe it’s a sign of the times. Facebook, for example, became open to everyone, not just college students, in 2006.That same year, Destiny’s Child gave their farewell performance at that year’s NBA All-Star Game. (Speaking of Facebook, their new Timeline allows users to curate posts, pictures and more from THEIR own life thus focuses more on the individual and less on their friends).

SWV

Maybe irreconcilable clashes over creativity killed them. Or maybe it was a combination of a few different factors. Whatever the cause(s), it seems to be afflicting these genres disproportionately. Groups like The Black Eyed Peas, Kings of Leon, and Coldplay have been together for years and continue to make music as groups so what is it about the R&B group?

Where Have All the Groups Gone?

It seems that instead of creating groups, the industry is churning out a bunch of boutique labels, with solo artists being featured on each other’s songs. This trick of the trade appears to be another factor that contributed to the eradication of the group. Now, instead of having to share your earnings with three or more people, you can actually MAKE money by selling your talent, depending on your popularity. The more in-demand you are, the more you can pillage from the up-and-coming artist who just need that exposure. And speaking of independent labels…they’ve also found a way around having to function as a group. The more in-demand you are, the more you can pillage from the up-and-coming artist who just need that exposure. Although they are a group of like-minded artists that all work together and pretty much function as a group, they get around that label by marketing themselves as solo artists who roll together.

Young Money

I love a strong, powerhouse singer like Beyonce or Dave Hollister, but often, I truly miss the dynamic and range of personalities and style of a Destiny’s Child or Blackstreet. At its very essence, having a group of people who can come together and make entire album, makes the process that much more appreciated and the output that much more beautiful. Boyz II Men harmonized like few R&B groups ever could, and Brownstone shared their soul with us through their music. Those groups had that something…something that can never be replaced or replicated with the solo artist.

Destiny's Child

 

Don’t forget to check out past blog posts, and check at Anwar’s site, Let’s Press Rewind, and follow him on Twitter, @A_Double_U

When inspired…create.

So, I’ve been addicted to Twitter for the past few days, trying to find some inspiration, some reason to create. I came across a great blog post today, by one Mr. @MIKE_2pt0. He referenced the absurdity of our infatuation with popular music, most notably hip-hop and its extravagant tales of fame, fortune, and fantasy. He called for a remix of these tales of grandeur…a series of Broke Bop lyrics, if you will. So, in impulsive fashion, I present to you not only my inaugural post, but my first shot at the “answer” to Mr. @MIKE_2pt0 ‘s call to action. I give you, “Aston Martin Music”…the Broke Mix.

Chorus:
I’m bobbin to the music, in my brand-new whip (all right)
Breezin down the freeway, just me and my baby (in my mind)
Just me and my thoughts, no collector calls
Listening to someone else’s music (music)

Hook
Couldn’t come back for you 
I ain’t have no ride, and no bus fare for two
You said you ain’t mind, I would’ve just stayed behind
You say that ain’t right, i hate when you whine (I’m better off frontin’)

When I’m alone in my room, sometimes I stare at the walls
Ps3 controller on the floor but who can I call
My baby moms, the one that live by the store
Put this gaming shit aside and bring her that money I owe 
A lot of quiet time, need to buy some new clothes
Marshalls sale items, put away this shit with the holes
Following fundamentals I’m following in the rental
Sweating bullets cuz this shit is due back at the venue
Can’t even afford the money to push this out of state
No seats in my bucket, a ninja gotta use crates
There’s no car seat for my baby, cuz there’s really no space
In my two-seater, guess we gonna walk today

Chorus:
I’m bobbin to the music, in my brand-new whip (all right)
Breezin down the freeway, just me and my baby (in my mind)
Just me and my thoughts, no collector calls
Listening to someone else’s music (music)

Hook
Couldn’t come back for you 
I ain’t have no ride, and no bus fare for two
You said you ain’t mind, I would’ve just stayed behind
You say that ain’t right, I hate when you whine (I’m better off frontin’)

Walked up on the block with a popeye’s chicken box
No more KFC, just chicken, biscuits on my watch
Livin sad where it’s all about the price tag
Always frontin, wear it, then I take it back
In my studio apartment is where she wanna be 
Least that’s what she told me, when I drove her here in my Caprice
Every time we bone I tell her I’m out here grindin, B
And everytime she listen, anxious for that better me
But damn, now she ain’t callin
Or my phone cut off again cuz I ain’t ballin
That Old E keep comin
4 quarter waters, pennies, 100  

Chorus:
I’m bobbin to the music, in my brand-new whip (all right)
Breezin down the freeway, just me and my baby (in my mind)
Just me and my thoughts, no collector calls
Listening to someone else’s music (music)

Hook
Couldn’t come back for you 
I ain’t have no ride, and no bus fare for two
You said you ain’t mind, I would’ve just stayed behind
You say that ain’t right, I hate when you whine (I’m better off frontin’)

I know the long version has some Drake ad-lib crap…but I think I’m good. I think he’s emo enough for all of us.

(As free promo, you can watch the “Aston Martin Music” video here.)

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