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Music

Common ft. Nas – Ghetto Dreams

Last weekend, the first track from Common’s upcoming album The Dreamer, The Believer was leaked. Called “Ghetto Dreams”, it’s produced by No I.D. and features Nas. For me, this track really hinges on its beat, which seriously bangs; the thumping kicks and staccato piano stabs (which are basically ideal for rap music) serve as the perfect palette for Common and Nas’ verses. It’s too bad the hook is so lame. Overall, though, it’s a promising sign of what the new album will sound like.

Common – Ghetto Dreams (ft. Nas) by Hiphop In Je Smoel

Album Reviews

Elzhi – Elmatic Mixtape (2011)

Elzhi, formerly of Slum Village, has released Elmatic, a mixtape reinterpretation of the legendary Nas album Illmatic. Produced entirely by Will Sessions, it also features Royce da 5’9” on an updated version of “Life’s A Bitch” and an appearance by Pete Rock (who produced the original “The World Is Yours“).

The project is ambitious, to say the least. Rather than simply reusing the Illmatic beats, Will Sessions crafted new tracks using the same samples chopped in new and different ways. Elzhi’s versions thus capture the sound and feeling of the Nas originals, but are different enough to pique your interest. Unfortunately, it’s a novelty that quickly wears off: they’re different, sure, but not necessarily better.

Same thing goes for the lyrics. Elzhi is a talented rapper, no doubt (and so is Royce), but is he on par with early Nasir Jones? Probably not. To be fair, I doubt anyone is. Nas’s verses on his first album are absolutely blistering; “It Ain’t Hard To Tell” may be one of the finest lyrical performances in the history of rap music. And AZ’s guest appearance on the first “Life’s A Bitch” kick-started – and continues to define – the man’s career.

That being said, Elmatic is still worth checking out. It’s a creative and unique homage, and some of the tracks are well done. Ultimately, though, it’ll just make you want to listen to the original.

Download: Elzhi – Elmatic

(Image credit: XXL Mag)

Featured Music

Tennille Captains Nas and MF Doom Remix Project

I don’t know a whole lot about this project, but apparently it’s been in the works for a while. Called 10illematic/10FDOOM, the ten-track mixtape uses five Nas beats and five MF Doom beats. It’s not clear why those two emcees were picked, but the result is surprisingly good. Tennille has a silky smooth voice, and her guest emcees mostly drop some nice verses. Plus you know the beats are tight.

If you’re looking for a soundtrack for a lazy Sunday afternoon, this is most definitely it. Highly recommended.

Download: Tennille – 10illematic | Tenille – 10FDOOM

Music

Nas and Damian Marley join forces

Nas and Damian Marley have decided to a do whole album together (titled Distant Relatives), and I have to admit I’m kind of excited for it.  I wasn’t entirely sure how this would turn out because of the potential for it to come off as gimmicky, but I’m pretty pleased.  Check out the first official video for As We Enter.

Not bad!  Pitchfork’s been all over this album for quite some time now, and the hype has been building.  Part of what grabbed my attention is that these two decided to sample Amadou and Mariam’s Sabali for one of their tracks.  For those who don’t know, Sabali is a solidly-produced track by an incredibly talented Afro-pop duo from Mali.   But as yet, Amadou and Mariam aren’t exactly household names, so the use of one of their tracks from one is undoubtedly going to a pretty commercial-successful record is a great thing.

The sample is to be used on the track Patience, which you can check out over at The Fader.

If you want to buy the album, it should be out at a store near you.  It’s already up on Amazon and on iTunes.

Music

New York is Killing Me

On this track, Gil Scott-Heron and Nas drop what Pitchfork calls “Basically the opposite of "Empire State of Mind"".  Now, keep in mind that this is a remix that Nas did of Gil’s track, but the result is something that has a strong juxtaposition.  Scott-Heron’s gravely tone sounds pained and laboured, really convincingly sounding like he’s feeling burned out. 

“Oh the doctor don’t know, but New York is Killing me”. – Gil Scott-Heron

Nas’ verses are intriguing.  He focuses mainly on the fast-pace of NYC and the fact that the ladies of NY are “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”  Without a doubt, Gil owns this track and his performance is incredible.  But it’s nice to see his old-time style contrasted with Nas’ younger, faster flow.  It’s a collabo that works nicely.

 

Featured Music

Songs that defined the decade!

by Angie B. Freshhip-hop

[Ed: Angie B. Fresh is the host of ‘The Corner‘ on CFUV 101.9 FM in Victoria, B.C.  She’s also the newest contributor to 4080 Records!  Read on for her inaugural post: a passionate, articulate survey of the last decade’s best hip-hop.  And if you know what’s good for you, tune in to her show every Friday from 5-6 p.m.]

Being a child of the late 80’s, this past decade has been the first I can remember from start to finish.  And while I can’t speak for my generational peers, I will always feel as though the 00’s belonged to me.  Rolling Stones called it the “decade of lost chances”, Time called it the “decade from hell”, but I look back on the double-zero’s as the decade of my musical awakening.  Thanks to my brother, I was introduced to hip hop in my early teens and its been my passion ever since.  On that note, I’d like to take a quick look back on the music that served as a soundtrack to my life.

In the interest of keeping this short and sweet, I picked one song per year.  Consider first that Pitchfork Media‘s feature on the best music of the decade contained 500 songs.  Picking just ten favorites was not an easy task, but here goes!

2000
Common – The Light
For a long time after I heard this Grammy-nominated love song I only had ears for Common.  Produced by the legendary Dilla, this soulful and sensual tribute is uplifting and romantic in the most genuine way.  Common’s well articulated love and respect for his woman had ladies everywhere wishing they were Erykah Badu.  “It don’t take a whole day to recognize sunshine”

2001
Nas – One Mic
An instant classic from one of the biggest names in rap, One Mic still gives me goose bumps.  The slow and subtle start, the crescendo into his rage-filled declaration of power, no wonder critics called in legendary. Two years ago I took a short road trip with a few fellow heads to watch Nas perform in Vancouver.  Hearing the opening bars to this track live was an experience of almost spiritual proportions.

2002
Talib Kweli – Get By
I can clearly recall the first time I heard this song; 7 years have passed and I still love it. Produced by Kanye West, it became Talib’s biggest hit to date as a result of its commercial appeal.  The beat is deliciously funky with its piano loops, handclaps and Nina Simone samples, while the lyrics are positively righteous: “They need somethin’ to rely on/ We get high on all types of drugs, when all you really need is love, to get by”.

2003
Little Brother – The Listening
9th Wonder’s beat samples Pete Rock and CL Smooth’s “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” while Phonte and Big Pooh lament the fact that no one listens to full albums anymore or pays enough attention to the lyrics.  This is a song about hip hop by hip hop fans.  “I got suspicions your ear’s to the street where we’re whispering/ are you listening?”  I know I was…

2004
Danger Mouse & Jemini – Ghetto Pop Life
Epic beats from one of the most versatile producers in hip hop, nay music, combined with the inventive and energetic flows of a very talented but underrated MC resulted in a near perfect album.  It was hard for me to pick just one track off this album as the whole thing is clever, creative and fun so I opted for the title track.  It’s a real shame that this project was so slept on because the kind of musical chemistry found with this dynamic duo doesn’t come along often.

2005
Zion I – Bird’s Eye View
Zumbi’s lyrics in this ode to hip hop don’t really put it in the same realm as “I Used to Love H.E.R.”, however the sincerity of his unconditional love for the culture is obvious.  And when his poetry is coupled with the beautiful synthy production provided by Amp Live- complete with subtle strings and pretty piano loops, what you get is a deeply soulful tribute.  “She’s my heart, my mind, my spirit and my bones/ She’s the only one I know that would go across the globe/ Meet me in a foreign land, treat me like I’m home”

2006
Lupe Fiasco – Daydreamin’
This was a tricky pick for me because of the commercial success it garnered.  However I truly believe that good music is good music despite who listens to it.  I was late getting into Lupe, but once I did I knew I was hooked.  The master of metaphor, his slippery lyrical prowess is in full effect in this Jill Scott collabo.  The concept is imaginative, the sound is wonderfully jazzy, what more could you ask for?

2007
Blu & Exile – The World Is (Below The Heavens…)
This album came out of nowhere and then proceeded to blow my mind again and again the more I listened to it.  If you were like me you were asking yourself where the heck this kid Blu came from (he was 22 at the time of its release).  Exile has since become one of my favorite producers,  (check last year’s “Radio” if you like instrumentals) and Blu one of my favorite MCs.  Every beat is perfectly matched to its lyrics; every verse is revealingly heartfelt; this is an album I’ll be listening to for years to come.  “Hell is what you choose to call the present/ That’s why you’re going through it/ I just choose to call it stressin’/ To tell you fools the truth, I don’t feel that’s what I’m destined/ So you can call it hell but bro, I’ll just say I’m below the heavens”

2008
Q-Tip – Gettin’ Up
This sophomore release was a long time coming and worth the wait.  Being a Tribe fan, I welcomed that familiar high-pitched voice back into my playlists immediately.  The vibe is mellow and warm at points yet Tip sounds enthusiastic and energetic throughout. With help from the likes of Raphael Saadiq, D’angelo, and Norah Jones, Q-Tip put together a smooth sounding and perfectly timed celebration of life and love; you can’t help but get into the spirit.  Welcome back Tip!

2009
Tanya Morgan – She’s Gone AKA Without You
Hands down my favorite album of the year, Brooklynati had me wishing I could take up residence in this fictional locale and spend my nights watching the “Hardcore Gentlemen” perform their 15 year old hit 15 times (only people who have been to Brooklynati will get that one).  “She’s Gone” has been described by some as our generation’s “I Used To Love H.E.R” (so I like Common okay??) and it’s just one of the many infectious tracks on the album.  Production from Von Pea and Aeon will have you reminiscing about the so-called Golden Era of hip hop when well-cut jazz loops and soulful samples laid the canvas for thoughtful, witty rhymes. This is one you can pop in and listen to front to back and not have to hit that skip button.

Image from: http://media.photobucket.com/image/hip-hop/nycson98/LoveofHipHop-Collage.jpg

Music

Mixtapes are yes at Datpiff.com

If you’re on the hunt for free music, look no further than Datpiff.com.  The self-described ‘authority’ in free mixtapes, Datpiff offers a ludicrous amount of underground, unreleased, and sometimes unpolished music for your listening pleasure.

Although quite a few of the tapes are marginal at best, there’s enough quality beats and rhymes on the site to make it worth your while.  The Game’s You Know What It is Vol. 4, for example, is classic material – “Hustlers” feat. Nas is straight fire – as is Lupe Fiasco’s Revenge of the Nerds and, given the controversy its received, so is Nas’ The N***** Tape.

Either way, head over to Datpiff and show some love for the medium that launched so many of hip-hop’s greats.

Music

The Best Reactions To “Untitled”

As our loyal readers are no doubt aware, Nas recently released his newest album, “Untitled.”  Originally named after a racial epithet beginning with the letter N,  the Queensbridge emcee retitled the album after intense pressure from his label, who in turn were under the gun from major retailers like Wal-Mart. 

Anyways, despite the controversy (or perhaps because of it), the record is set to debut at number one on the Billboard charts.  And this has academics and journalists licking their lips  After all, it permits them to sail headlong into the treacherous waters of race relations; it’s an opportunity for them to offer their thoughts on the state of the contemporary American melting pot and hip-hop’s potential for mending or worsening its fractured edges.

Despite the politically correct tightrope these analyses must walk, a number of them are quite good. Definitely check out Matthew McKinnon’s  take on the issue.   Also worth peepin’ is Idolater’s round-up of “Untitled” reviews, Julian Benbow’s piece in the Boston Globe, and an editorial about why the N-word will never lose its potency.

Music Politics

Nas Raps Political

Scroll down for some new heat by Nas. Produced by Green Lantern, the track – called ‘Black President’ – is a meditation on Barack Obama. Although Nas’s rhymes are undeniably dope (“America, surprise us/Let a black man guide us”) it’s the Tupac sample Green Later flips for the hook that steals the show: “and although it seems heaven sent/We ain’t ready, to see a black president.”

Nas – Black President (2008, ?)

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Music

The Green Album

Omer Saar (of universoulproductions fame) has cobbled together the Green Album, a collection of Al Green tracks mixed with acapellas from various rappers.

You’ll hear some Jay-Z, MF Doom, Common,  the Fugees, Pharycde, and others on this record.  So definitely a pretty dope tracklisting.

Check it all out at his blog here.

Now I know it seems suspiciously similar to the AlMatic post we did earlier, but it’s definitely not.  The Green Album is about 6 times as dope and definitely worth your time to download.

And it’s free.  I don’t know how long it’ll stay up (since these things seem to disappear faster than that pitcher of beer you bought for everyone), but it’s worth a look.  So head over to Omer Saar’s blog and download this ASAP.

And it’s just in time with Al Green’s new album, Lay it Down.

[Source: Okayplayer]