Supa bang bang! Monday, October 2 |
The Federation - "I Wear My Stunna Glasses At Nite"
Back from the nation's capital and chillin' in the middle of VA again. I've finally gotten wind of AZ's new LP "The Format" and I'm impressed with what I've heard so far. I watched the video of the title track produced by DJ Premier the other day and seizures aside, I was feelin' the AZ-Primo connection. AZ's been largely forgotten by the mainstream hip-hop audience post-"Sugar Hill" and if anybody remembers him, it's as Nas' weed carrier. Unfortunately, AZ is nothing more than an underground "legend" at best and a nobody on the regular. Well, I don't want to remind AZ or his fans any more of his irrelevance to hip-hop and that said, "The Format" looks to be an enjoyable follow up to his last (and solid) LP "AWOL". The bulk of the production is handled by longtime collaborator Emile and "Rise & Fall" was one of the handful of tracks turned in by J. Cardim (with an assist by Little Brother's Phonte). LB's Big Pooh handles the first verse serving mostly as an introduction to his more deserving and talented partner, Phonte. Phonte is becoming a legend in his own right by catching praises from hip-hop enthusiasts and purists alike. He's been called one of the top five MCs at the moment among other things, but I won't comment on that. He's a charismatic MC where most of the current crop are dull and uninspired and that'll be the stock compliment from $B. This almost doesn't seem like an AZ track at all, but it does fit in with LB's increasingly better catalog since departing from strictly 9th Wonder work. Nothing against 9th Wonder because anybody who can do what he does with Fruity Loops gets props, but he was becoming the definition of formulaic and... boring. The latest LB work has featured Pooh and Phonte rockin' over DJ A-Trak and Nottz among other less formula (soul) based producers.
I'm not going to pretend like I know anything about hip-hop from the Bay; I do know that I tend to dislike most of it. E-40, hyphy, and the post-Mac Dre resurgence of the Bay in hip-hop circles hasn't produced anything of much interest or quality. I'm not gonna lie though... I have a soft spot for The Pack, best known as purveyors of "Vans". "Club Stuntin" by The Pack floored me the first time I heard it. Something about the robotic voiceovers over extra dirty synths and the almost spacelike bounce of the drums had me nodding my head more than anything in recent memory. So after my recent foray into Bay-born hip-hop, I decided to try out some more in the form of The Federation. Again, I don't know anything about them and I'm not going to do my research. All I know is The Federation took some circa-80's synths and produced an anthem dedicated to wearing sunglasses at night. I can't stand E-40's delivery, but everyone else is okay in my book. A lot of East Coast kids are probably pissing in their pants about how the Bay and friends (the South?) are ruining the state of hip-hop, but I can't front: hip-hop is club music just as much as it is street tales and introspective hustler narratives. After I cut out E-40's verse on Cool Edit, "I Wear My Stunna Glasses At Nite" is finding its way in my rotation. For you DJs out there, maybe E-40's verse would be a good time to do some mixing.
To the Commonwealth Friday, September 29 |
Lupe's Fiasco Thursday, September 28 |
I'm not too interested in poetry so that sets the tone of the song for me. Lupe doesn't do anything on the Intro except for waste an exceptional track, but don't worry he gets back on it for the Outro. For the Outro, Lupe proceeds to waste 12 minutes of time shouting out everybody he's ever met.
Real featuring Sarah Green
The chorus for this track is a bit annoying. I'm not a fan of the short guitar riff that's employed, but other than that the track is crafted well. Sarah Green takes more away then she adds. I'm not too interested in this track.
Just Might Be OK featuring Gemini
I like this track. This is the type (and level) of production that I expected on the Lupe record since this was one of the first tracks I ever heard from Lupe, the solo MC. Lupe does a good job crafting a story of struggle.
I'm sure everybody has heard this one. It's an enjoyable track. There really isn't anything to hate about it. Soundtrack crafts a nice background for Lupe to tell us about skateboarding and what I'm assuming are attributes he looks for in girls. Lupe displays an excellent flow on his verses and the story he crafts is easy to follow. I used to skateboard and I'm accepting of skateboard culture (as an offshoot of sneaker culture), so this has some appeal to me. I'm tired of the "Wow! He's black and he skateboards!" train of thought because if you've been following skateboarding at all, you would know that black kids on skateboards isn't some new phenomenon.
If it wasn't for Lupe's precise flow on this, I Gotcha would be a complete failure. The Neptunes (actually only Pharrell apparently) "gifted" Lupe with one of the most poorly constructed beats in their (Pharrell's) catalog. Lupe isn't too flexible as an MC in that he doesn't really change up his flow or delivery that much, but he has mastered this kind of straight spit flow. Lupe has very good breath control, an attribute that most MCs still need to get down.
The Instrumental featuring Jonah Matranga
I'm assuming this is the track that Mike Shinoda made because it sounds like it would fit perfectly in his Fort Minor project. Lupe and Shinoda made a good tag team, along with Ghostface, on Spraypaint and Ink Cans. Although Lupe's verse was about outerspace and on some outlandish shit compared to Ghost's and Shinoda's more real life verses, Lupe seemed to match up well with Shinoda's production. Shinoda is a good producer--there is no doubt about it--but whoever decided to hire Jonah Matranga to sing the hook failed.
He Say She Say featuring Gemini and Sarah Green
A beautifully executed track. This is one of my favorite tracks on Food and Liquor because Lupe is spitting about some real shit and Gemini and Sarah Green's singing gives the right amount of emotion to connect Lupe's verses. The integration of the subtle horns with the weeping strings matches up well with the seriousness of Lupe's story.
Terrible hook. Overall good track though.
Daydreamin' featuring Jill Scott
Lupe made a video for this track and some were feeling it. I agree, I like how they placed Jill Scott on the LP covers. Personally, I'm feeling the lesson that Lupe is dropping in his verses, "Now come on everybody let's make cocaine cool/ We need a few more half-naked women up in the pool/ And hold this Mac 10 that's all covered in jewels/ And can you please put your titties closer to the 22's?/ And where's the champagne? We need champagne/ Now look as hard as you can with this blunt in your hand/ And now hold up your chains slow motion through the flames/ Now cue the smoke machines and the simulated rain". Hip-hop for Lupe has become a certain image that current artists are expected to conform to and I can agree with that.
This is a good track. I like the production because it's subtle and I'm enjoying the sonics. The only bad thing about this track is the hook. Lupe can flow. Lupe can spit. But for the love of God, Lupe cannot sing.
Hurt Me Soul
While it is a nice beat, I feel that the production is too cookie cutter on it. Hurt Me Soul sounds too expected, too formulaic. It's a nice loop, but I can't tell that much work was put into it at all. Um.. Lupe does a good job though.
Pressure featuring Jay-Z
One of the most disappointing tracks on Food and Liquor. You see Pressure then you see featuring Jay-Z and you think "DAMN SON!" I remember Pressure from the advance that dropped before the summer really kicked in and it was dope, definitely one of Lupe's best efforts coupled with a real heavy track. The production remains the same, but once again, the artists on the hook let Lupe down. Jay-Z can still drop a clever line here and there, but you can tell that Jay-Z dropped in during Lupe's studio session before heading off and recording some more for Kingdom Come and there was no way Lupe was gonna deny a legend from contributing a verse.
American Terrorist featuring Matthew Santos
Just as good as it was on the advance.
The Emperor's Soundtrack
Powerful music. The production on Emperor's Soundtrack is top notch and one of the best jobs on Food and Liquor. I'm disappointed at how short this is because I felt as if Lupe could have done so much more with this compared to other tracks.
Kick, Push II
I think this is much better than Kick, Push on all levels and I'm a fan of the former. The production is better and Lupe uses Kick, Push as a metaphor so that allows him to be freer in his creativity. We all know Lupe is creative; he had to have cosigned on his album cover. Since this is the last song (basically), I'm beginning to understand why some find Lupe to be boring. He rarely changes his flow or delivery. It's the same straight spit style through every kind of track. He doesn't change in volume much at all like a Ludacris. He doesn't use various flows like a Nas. He doesn't get too intense on tracks like a Ghostface.
I told you about this. Waste.
I enjoyed the advance of Food and Liquor far more than the retail version, but that's not to say I didn't enjoy listening to this. A lot of the failures in the retail version come from the poorly executed hooks, which for the most part were not Lupe's fault. The production was excellent save for a couple of boring (Hurt Me Soul, Sunshine) and disappointing (I Gotcha) offerings. I was hoping to see some Kanye West or Just Blaze contributions because I think their styles of production match up well with Lupe. Lupe should also employ more guest MCs in his next LP to break up the monotony. Lupe is one of the better MCs at the moment, but similar to The Roots' Black Thought, it can get boring after a certain point because he doesn't offer much in terms of diversity. Black Thought has increasingly gotten better at varying his flow and delivery and Lupe should follow in his footsteps. Lupe has a lot of potential and even has some star power with his charisma and general character. Food and Liquor was a solid debut, but I'm looking forward to how Lupe follows this up.
Welcome! Tuesday, September 26 |
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