Is Gang Starr’s latest project ‘One of the Best Yet’?

The legendary hip-hop group Gang Starr released One of the Best Yet and it is a welcome addition to an overall underwhelming 2019 when it comes to new rap music. DJ Premier is the only surviving member of Gang Starr. Keith Edward Elam also known as GURU (Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal) died on April 10, 2010. This project comes 16 years after their last official release The Ownerz.

DJ Premier puts his best foot forward when paring Guru’s posthumous verses with current features. Before the official project was released, Dj Premier dropped the single “Family and Loyalty” featuring J. Cole. Guru’s voice rings prominently on the song and J. Cole steps in with possibly one of the best features of the year as he raps “J. Cole..Who’d a thought I woulda been rhyming with ghosts Guru flows forever like a diamond and most.. could never afford the precious jewels.. that’s precisely why I’m blessing you.. with clear cut messages.. I’m destined to.. invest in urban sections where depression rules.”

One of the Best Yet provides the listener with the raw boom bap DJ Premier production as a result Guru’s lyricism still cuts through even in these times. On “Business or Art” featuring Talib Kweli, Guru raps “Heres one for Spin, Billboard and Rollingstone hip-hop is so organic it will grow on its own, we watch em throw money at it with clout and power, but after a while things faded out and went sour.” Many would say that this sour space that Guru is speaking of is where we are right now. This is exactly why One of the Best Yet is so refreshing because it’s just real rap with no filler or gimmicks.

The standout songs on this album are “Lights Out (feat. M.O.P.)” “Hit Man (feat. Q Tip)” “Family and Loyalty (feat. J. Cole)” and “Get Together (feat. Ne-Yo & Nitty Scott)

Have you heard One of the Best Yet? What do you think?

Check out the video for “Family and Loyalty” off of the One of the Best Yet below

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Why Cardi B admitting that she drugged and robbed men is problematic

Cardi B (Photo credit: Eddy “Precise” Lamarre)

Cardi B, one of America’s most popular and ubiquitous rags-to-riches stories, has placed her foot in her mouth. An Instagram Story that Cardi posted three years ago has surfaced in which she admits to sleeping with men, drugging them and then robbing them. Cardi, who is well-liked because of her candor and bold disposition, is now in hot water because of it.

In the video Cardi speaks passionately about her past life.

“I did it myself, n—s must of forgot my n—a. The s—t that I did to mother—— survive. I had to go strip. I had to go oh yeah you wanna f— me? Yeah yeah yeah, let’s go to this hotel and I drug n—-s up and I robbed them. That’s what I used to do. Nothing was mother—- handed to me.” she said

In today’s #MeToo environment and the court of public opinion, it should be expected that Cardi B is called on the carpet because of such criminal acts that have helped her along her journey. Bill Cosby is currently serving a jail sentence after being found guilty for drugging women for the purposes of having sex. This is something he has vehemently denied, yet the court of public opinion, the #MeToo movement and the comedic memes helped to paint a picture of a man who was once viewed as America’s dad as a dirty old man.

We all love the story of someone lifting themselves out of poverty into success.

Cardi B’s rise has been meteoric. She has turned a stripper pole into Grammy gold and shows no signs of going back. However, we find ourselves at an impasse. Should Cardi be held accountable for the actions she admitted to three years ago? Of course, she should be, but most likely she won’t be because she is the world’s favorite type of ratchet.

Hypocrisy is running rampant in the land. Some are celebrated for the same things that others are punished for. If we allow ourselves to continue down this path, the grey between what’s black and what’s white becomes greater and our ability to make wise judgements becomes questionable.

Cardi has not left this latest scandal totally unscathed. A hashtag, #SurvivingCardiB, was created and many have voiced their displeasure and disagreement with Cardi’s past criminal acts.

Cardi obviously felt the heat and has issued a statement via her Instagram page.

She wrote “So I’m seeing on social media tray a love I did 3 years ago has popped back up. A live where I talk about the things I had to do in my past right or wrong that I felt I needed to do to make a living. I never claim to be perfect or come from a perfect world with a perfect past. I always speak my truth I always own my sh—. I’m apart of hip hop culture where you can talk about where you come from talk about the wrong things you had to do to get where you are. There are rappers that glorify murder violence drugs and robbing. Crimes they had to do to survive. I never glorified the things I brought up in that live. I never even put those things in my music because I’m not proud of it and feel a responsibility not to glorify it. I made the choices hat I did at the time because I had very limited options. I was blessed to have been able to rise from that but so many women have not. Whether or not they were poor choices at the time I did what I had to do to survive. The men that I spoke about in my love were men that I dated that I was involve with men that were conscious willing and aware. I have a past that I can’t change we all do.”

Cardi’s statement is one where no accountability is taken and she seems to place the blame at the feet of hip-hop culture and rap music. This is problematic because once again hip-hop culture is blamed for the criminal decisions of an individual.

How do we move forward from here?

Leave a comment below.

-Precise

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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

Listen/Buy “A Killer Joe” ft Precise produced by Mulatto Patriot

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