The top 5 rap songs that sampled Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin’s rap influence (Artwork by Eddy “Precise” Lamarre)

The world is celebrating Aretha Franklin because of who she is and what she represents to music and Black culture. Her talent has stretched across many genres of music and affected many soundscapes. Rap music is not absent from that discussion. Many of the driving rhythms and melodic music of Franklin’s have added to the tapestry of this art form we call rap and the culture of hip-hop. Let’s take a look at the top five rap songs to sample The Queen of Soul.

While the world is singing “Respect,” arguably Aretha Franklin’s greatest hit, the song that resonates with this writer is “Rock Steady.” The rhythm is timeless and has made for one of the perfect breakbeats for rap.

EPMD sampled “Rock Steady” on their classic release Strictly Business in the song “I’m Housin.” The funk is preserved and still remains hip-hop.

 

Ms. Franklin’s song “One Step Ahead” is an ode to avoiding heartbreak and preserving a love.

Ayatollah produced “Ms Fat Booty” which contains elements of “One Step Ahead” for Yasiin Bey, formerly known as Mos Def, and appears on his album Black On Both Sides. This song is arguably Yasiin’s biggest hit. The song tells the story of a young brother shooting his shot to a beautiful woman.

The way Aretha addressed the subject of love you can tell that it comes from a heartfelt and emotional place. Her song “Call Me” is a song of anticipation, a song where you find a woman yearning for her love just by asking for a phone call.

The Kanye West-produced “Selfish” borrowed a bit from “Call Me” for Slum Village’s album Detroit Deli. Slum approaches their song as a moment to praise all the beautiful women they love. Kanye makes sure not to miss out on this dope production with his own verse. “This one here is a heat rock spit like a beat box the way the beat rocks new version of Pete Rock.”

On “Young Gifted and Black” we find Aretha steeped in her gospel roots. She celebrates the beauty of Blackness at time when Black Power was the mantra of the culture.

DJ Premier sampled the song for Gang Starr’s Daily Operation album on a 30-second joint called “92 Interlude.” I always felt like that would be an awesome song. Most recently you can find the vibe on the 9th Wonder-produced “Laila’s Wisdom.” It appears on Rapsody’s debut project by the same name.

“Oh Baby” is yet another song where we find the Queen lamenting over love.

The producer Ski skillfully plants her vocals across the production of Jay-Z’s song “In My Lifetime (Big Jaz Radio Mix) from The Streets is Watching soundtrack. This is rap at its essence, and the soul was able to traverse the genres effortlessly.

 

-Precise

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My Top 5 Rap Albums of 2017

This year was great for the culture of hip-hop via rap music. We witnessed the emergence of women who rap, an increase in social commentary and an all-out assault on depression with an emphasis on living your best life. The five projects that made the top 5 best rap album list for 2017 encompass all of that and more. Check out the list. Let me know what you think.

1. Jay-Z – 4:44

Jay-Z continues to hold the torch and consistently moves into space where it can be argued that he is the best to ever do this rap thing. 4:44 is viewed by many as Jay’s response to his wife Beyoncé’s telling release Lemonade. Jay mentioned in an interview with Elliot Wilson on Tidal that they were working on both projects at the same time and Beyoncé’s took precedent. Regardless of how it happened, 4:44, in this writer’s humble opinion, is Jay-Z’s best work. He speaks clearly to his peers. He challenges his own sensibilities and is as vulnerable as a bragging rapper can be. The production provided by Chicago native NO ID provides a bed of lush samples and rhythms that pull the listener into the insightful bars. The most ingenious aspect of the project was the rollout. Every week a new visual was attached to one of the songs on the album tackling racism “The Story of Oj” and Black men’s mental health witnessed in the title track “4:44.”

2. Rapsody – Laila’s Wisdom

Rapsody is nobody’s female rapper. She an emcee’s emcee and her project Laila’s Wisdom forces you to take notice. The 9th Wonder produced project is a Golden Age nod with a millennial vision. Her project has been nominated for “Best Rap Album Of The Year” at the 2018 Grammys and she has a legitimate chance at winning. Rapsody does everything right. She can be miss rappity rap, give you a love song and a complete story filled with irony and metaphors. Her song “Ridin” featuring GQ feels like a ride through your nearest hood on a beautiful day. As the song rides along, Busta Rhymes comes out of nowhere to continue with the feel-good vibe. The Jamla artist has been prevalent in recent years on many of her peers’ releases and she always represents solidly. Her wordplay and the way she can stretch out a metaphor is uncanny.

3. Tyler The Creator – Flower Boy

Odd Future impresario Tyler the Creator delivered a project in Flower Boy that is sonically above his peers and musically continues to stretch the boundaries. This is not new to Tyler; however, this project feels like a culmination into what could possibly be his magnum opus. The gritty song “Pothole” featuring Jaden Smith on the chorus harkens back to the original odd futuresque style that is irreverent and bold. The song “Boredom” that was featured on Issa Rae’s hit show Insecure opened a door into Tyler’s production skill. The track takes its time and allows Tyler’s gravely deep voice to live between the sounds. The song itself is inspirational in that it compels the listener to get off their ass and get busy doing something. Live your life.

4. Kendrick Lamar – Damn 

Kendrick followed up his undeniable revolutionary classic with an introspective, honest and highly personal release in Damn. He has firmly held his ground as the thought leader of his generation. He boldly tells his peers to be humble and gives insight into his deepest thoughts when it comes to religion and love. “Element” stands out as a song where he just let’s loose and makes it clear who he is and where he comes from. “DUCKWORTH” is the most telling song on the project, as it basically tells the story of Kendrick’s life before his conception. It speaks to how life can conspire in your favor when you pay attention.

5. Big Sean – I Decided

Big Sean has been able to deliver witty bars since his emergence in rap. His project I Decided is a spiritual experience. The album starts off with an elderly man lamenting on his life and feeling like he should have taken another direction in his life. Big Sean open on “The Light” saying, “I spent my whole life trying to find the light at the end of the tunnel / I should have realized that it was inside.” Chicago crooner Jeremih fills up the space of the sparse track with a falsetto soul reminding all that no one can stop your shine. Out of all the projects that made this list, this is probably the one (with the exception of 4:44) that spoke to me the most. The Metro Boomin produced “Bounce Back” is a reminder to keep pushing even after taking a loss. Big Sean is about shining that light and spreading that positivity, and that’s what’s up.

That’s my list. It’s dope, right? What are your top 5 for 2017? Share in the comments

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Hip Hop trailblazer Reggie Ossé host of Combat Jack podcast has died at 48

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Photo source: instagram @reggieosse

Hip Hop trailblazer and host of the popular podcast the Combat Jack Show Reggie Ossé has passed away at the age of 48. Ossé shared his cancer diagnosis just a few months ago via social media.

Born of Haitian parents in Brooklyn NY Ossé entered the world of hip-hop as a music attorney and executive after graduating from Cornell University. His clients represent a list of hip-hop greats. Jay Z, Dj Clark Kent and Capone, and Noreaga were clients he represented. Ossé was also the former managing editor of the once so-called hip-hop bible The Source Magazine.

Ossé helped to lead the explosion of the podcast game with the launch of his show in 2010. His show focused on interviewing “legacy” artists such as Chuck D of Public Enemy, Ice Cube and Ice T. His focus on legacy artists was prominent however he still interviewed more contemporary artists like J Cole, Ace Hood, and G Herbo.

His show became the flagship of the Loudspeakers network and led the way to a podcast revolution. He recently did a special on the life and death of hip-hop mogul Chris Lighty who passed away under suspicious circumstances in August of 2012. The special was called “Mogul” and took into account the life of Chris Lighty leading up to his final days.

Ossé’s history as an attorney and executive created an atmosphere where his interviews were open and honest and the listener would always leave with more insight with regards to whomever he was speaking with.

The news of Ossé’s passing has sent shockwaves through the internet.

 

-Precise

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Tyler The Creator performs for NPR’s Tiny Desk series and its DOPE

Tyler The Creator has been having a stellar year. His Grammy-nominated Album Flower Boy has launched him into a new space. The always eccentric and creative Tyler approached this Tiny Desk with a bit more creativity than most. Pun intended.

-Precise

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J Cole makes better music than you – get over it

J. Cole at AAHH! Fest in Chicago – Photo Credit: Eddy “Precise” Lamarre


So 4 Your Eyez Only dropped recently and its a great album. However if you let the internet inform you, many are saying it’s a snorgasm, boring, and a list of other clever well crafted lines. I am by no means a J. Cole stan. I am an artist and because of this I can tell when an artist is cutting corners or putting their heart into something. 4 Your Eyez Only is a project that is well thought out, lyrical and the production is on point. If you feel otherwise you are just mad that his work garners the attention that yours doesn’t. 
The world we live in now might as well be a big barrel of crabs who will easily speak an ill word towards anything that doesn’t have anything to do with them. I hear most of the ill will coming from fellow artists or those who claim to be and have never put out a piece of work. They don’t even know what it takes to title a song or even create a concept for an album. Stop being such a damn hater and give credit where it is due. It’s easy to be a critic. You can say I don’t like or I like it with out any informed viewpoint. 

The way music is consumed these days has created this army of haters. They can’t even sit still long enough to listen to a 51 minute concept album and allow for it to work on their senses. Music fans now just want to be fed what they want, and they don’t even know what they want. 

Here is my suggestion to you. Go get a bunch of your “beat making” friends and gather all your rhymes that all end with the word nigga and go make your masterpiece for the world. Till then keep your not doing nothing azz opinion to yourself. 

Buy/Listen to “That Ol’Boom Bap’ ft Precise produced by Dj Tekwun

J. Cole grows up with ‘4 Your Eyez Only’

J. Cole’s  4 Your Eyez Only is a love letter to Hip Hop. The interesting thing about J Cole is that their is a segment of the population who loves him and another who feels like he is cool and not living up to his potential. I can say with utmost certainty that J. Cole is easily one of the most talented and honest artists that we have come across in many years. 

This recent project has been in the making for the past 2 years. At first listen the music sort of blended into my surroundings. I knew it was dope but I wasn’t tuned in. When I came back to it I was focused and what I found was that this is not an album of thrown together songs. It has a common theme of redemption, forgiveness and love. Now the average Hip Hop fan was probably not checking for that after the release of “False Prophets” and “Everybody dies”, two songs released before the the album was dropped. Interestingly neither song is on the album. Cole hit his fans with the old one two. He dropped some heat for them and then provided a project full of thought and substance. 

This is a project from an emcee who has matured with every release. There are a few standout songs. “Foldin Clothes” is a song where Cole laments on his love for his significant other and wants to show his appreciation “If I could make life easier , the way you do mine save you some time alleviate a bit of stress from your mind help you relax let you recline.” “She’s Mine part 2” is the most personal and emotional of all the songs from the project. It’s a song about his daughter. He speaks on his love for her. “Reminisce when you came out the womb tears of joy I think fill up the room you are now the reason that I fight I ain’t never did nothin this right tinny whole life.” Even as he shares this deep emotion he still touches on the economic struggles of Black people on Black Friday. 

4 Your Eyez Only touches minds and souls in a way that autotune never could. Excellent work Mr. Cole. 

Buy/Listen to “That Ol’Boom Bap’ ft Precise produced by Dj Tekwun

 (NEW VIDEO) – ‘That Ol Boom Bap’ ft Precise produced by Dj Tekwun

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“That Ol’ Boom Bap” is track number 13 on Dj Tekwun’s release The Boom Bap Project Vol 1.

Precise provides an even handed reflection on where Hip Hop is and why the roots of this culture should be respected. “I ain’t tripping on the golden age music changes all the time in a growing stage, and I ain’t hating on the drill and trap but it wouldn’t be here without that Ol boom bap.”  -Precise

Precise provides a clear and concise viewpoint that does not isolate perspectives.

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