Archive for 11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006

Nas "Hip Hop Is Dead" [review]

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On Hip Hop Is Dead, Nas does a remarkable thing: he becomes the embodiment of the underground, "backpack" Rap lovers that have flooded the Internet in the last decade. He spends more time asking people to recite Big Daddy Kane lines and pondering what happened to Funky 4 +1. While things like this might sound good to guys who have grown up through Hip-Hop's early stages, it's hard to base an entire genre of music on the old school, just like it was wrong for Jeezy to try and base Nas' relevance today on street cred. You have to blend both the street with the science, History is nothing without new niggas to learn it. In short, there's no reason to diss on young niggas who had no one to teach them the classics of Hip-Hop: instead, Nas should play more of the teacher he can be, and enlighten the youth. He did "UBR" on the last one, but nothing on this one? The ball has been dropped...

He also dropped the ball beatwise. I mean, I cannot say it enough: why the fuck is will.i.am producing THREE cuts on this, including the God-awful title track? What sense does it make to recycle the sample you used on your last joint, and totally Diddy-fy the lick? "Thief's Theme" was some true "street-hop": eerie, brooding and intoxicating. This new creation is what's wrong with Hip-Hop now, from the predictable fills right on down to will's unnecessary "is deeeeead" drop-ins. If we want to truly examine why Hip-Hop died, part of it had to do with the "Jiggy Era", where the risky business of "Suicidal Thoughts" and "edutainment" was thrown aside for cats who took hits and made hits with them. Why contribute to that, then question someone else's hustle? The G.O.D. doesn't stop there, though. To further muddy the title of this disc, Nas brings in guys like Scott Storch, Kanye West and Snoop to produce and guest on the album. What for? Why not replace those names with guys like Primo, Extra P and, I don't know, Slick Rick or some shit? You would just think, with a title that to the point, he'd take some steps to reinvigorate the music, not help usher it into it's corporate grave.

On the flipside, however, there are some points that cannot be disputed. "Black Republican" saves this release, with L.E.S. crafting a stormer out of some Godfather samples to let Jay-Z and Nas do what the fans have wanted for years: hear two of the game's finest of all time kick that raw for 3 minutes and 45 seconds. There's no real need to debate who did who in, who shitted on whom... I mean they both came dope, and this is as good a look as ever. L.E.S. also does wonders with some classic Headhunters-era Herbie Hancock for "You Can't Kill Me", providing some slick boom-bap for Nas' surprisingly fresh flows. One of those tracks where the old Nasty comes out in full view. Dr. Dre comes correct, giving Nas one of his signature grown-man boom bap beats on "Hustlers" (formerly known as "QB True G"), allowing Nas to coast all over that first verse. The Game holds his own, but he is really just on this one to give his mentors handjobs over a raw track. "Who Killed It" is a weird one... Salaam Remi and will.i.am jack the "I Ain't No Joke" drums and throw some weird movie score samples and loops over the track. I cannot tell if this is Nas putting on a weird voice on the verses, or if it's some other nigga entirely... but if you listen to the story, you'll be in for a smooth groove. Kanye drops a nice, cymbal-heavy beat on "Let There Be Light", but the chorus would have sounded better somewhere else, and by the way Nas is rhyming, he probably feels the same way.

It's hard to really get into this album. On one hand, I want it to be the best thing since Illmatic, and you can hear Nas getting his pen-game on with some of these tracks. He has never really stopped being a dope rapper, but along the way he started picking weak beats, and leaving the gems on the cutting room floor. Hip Hop Died when MCs took their true craft and diluted it to make money. Hip Hop Died when Corporate America peeped in and realized that, wow, we can really make money off of these niggers! And, sadly, Hip Hop Died when these MCs thought that any old malarky they put on a compact disc would equate to sales as long as they got the right mixture of current hitmakers, guest MCs/vocalists, and the right title. I'm half-surprised that Lil' Wayne didn't make it onto any of these cuts. I'm also surprised Pitchfork gave this album such a good review. It's hard for me to get excited over the selection of beats, and when I do try to overcome the snoozers, I get treated to tracks like "Blunt Ashes", which has Nas asking if old Black writers got lit before telling stories... he then goes on, trying to rap as slow as Chris Webber's coma-inducing beat goes, playing the "Let's see how many old Black people's names we can put into a track" game.

Maybe Hip Hop isn't dead. Maybe Hip Hop is just tired, giving birth to all of these babies out here. She was born in the late 70s, and has been molested, mass marketed, whored, and is the mother of many children. She still shows glimpses of her old self from time to time, but she knows who butters her bread, and over the last 10-12 years, she has been more focused on flirting with the young MTV boys, getting her drink on, fantasizing about bling, all the while trying to masquerade as if she was better than everyone else. She still has potential, but until she gets out of this piff-haze, she will still be another whore, another hustle, and a fucking disappointment. I miss you, Hip Hop, and while Nas might act like he does, too, he has a funny way of showing it.

rock the dub gives Hip Hop Is Dead a 6 out of 10. Not only does this release focus too much on lax beats and "old man in the club" posturing, but it is unfocused and unreliable. A true MC's MC, Nas needs to pick up the ball and get let his swagger run for an entire LP.

Nas' Hip Hop Is Dead hit stores on December 19th, 2006. Check out his website for more information.


Perpetuum: "This would be a fantastic album... ...if it were an album by Nas."

as if Detroit was not enough...

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From the Knicks/Nuggets game this past Saturday (Dec. 16th, 2006):




You see, shit like this makes Corporate White America think that basketball players are just ignorant hoods. I had Sportcenter on last night, and Stephen A. Smith was talking about how the Isaiah Thomas/Larry Brown beef had something to do with this: word is that Nuggets' coach George Karl is a good friend of Brown's, and even though Denver was murking NY all night, he kept 4 starters, including Carmelo Anthony, in the game at the end. So, Zeke apparently mouthed to 'Melo "don't go under that basket"... some think he was saying either "you gonna get raped" or "you know you guys are wrong for this" (listen to his side of the story). In any case, 'Melo looks like the idiot -- go to like 0:48 into that video, and see how he clocked that dude. Got his lick in, then he was Michael Bolton. You gotta love that -- until he gets his ass suspended. Seven cats got suspended, including Melo, who got a hefty 15 game jobber. You'd think, after the Detroit/Indiana fiasco of a few years back, that niggas wouldn't be trying to show their true nigga tendencies.

To quote Rick James, "they shoulda never gave you niggas money!"

the shuffle. [12/16/06]

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Yes, yes. Another week, and I'm still going strong. Getting odd news all around, but you know how it goes. Drop some pieces, pick them up, put some Red Stripe in my cup. Ay, today is the first time I've had some Red Stripe in 6 years, no bologna. I drank Red Stripe the same night I saw the remake of Psycho, like the night before we moved out of our dorm in May of 2000. I'm not the biggest lager drinker, but I dig Jamaica's finest for it's smoother taste. It's not as rough on my throat as Guinness, which is a blessing.

Anyways, I'm trying to get my hustle on, an aside from my growing Associated Content, um, content, I found this other site that says, essentially, if I garner enough votes, I can get paid for a full year, either $80K or half of whatever is donated by July 1st, 2008, whichever comes first. So, take a few moments out of your life and vote for your boy khal. I'd greatly appreciate it.

Wow, this nigga Willie Gibbs is wearing a MF Doom-esque mask to this fight on HBO BAD - looks like I should get to my news for the week...

01/In the story that got all of the gossip sites and teenage horndogs salivating, Nicole Richie was arrested for DUI. Everyone tripped initially over her booking pic, as well as the fact that she was something like 5'1" and 80 some pounds at the time of arrest, but didn't really get into the facts. Young Nic was reported to have been driving the wrong way down the freeway in Burbank when two motorists called 5-0. When the cops showed up, Nicalicious was on her jack, alone. She straight up told the fuzz that she not only was on Vicodin, but she was puffing that chron. I mean, that's gangsta. Most of the tricks on COPS will deny and deny with a loaded crack pipe sticking out of their coochie. Nic let the world know, yo, I had a lil bit of reefer to chief, and I'm on these Vicodins for my cramps (if she takes V's for her menstrual pain, I wonder what the cheeba is for -- and if she IS smoking mary jane, wtf is she listed at 85lbs for!?!?). Now, why she was going the wrong way down that freeway has not been expressed, but I guess those pills and that ganja got good to her, and she felt she was Wonder Woman or some shit. In any case, I really do hope she gets her shit on straight and gets back into her old, Simple Life Season 2 figure.

02/This week in music has been a weird one, with news on a few long awaited albums finally getting some shine. Axl Rose let it be known that Chinese Democracy, the album that fans have been waiting for since like 1991, is set to come out in March of 2007. He even went on to explain that it was delayed because of some bullshit with one of his managers, as if he hasn't lost every fucking member of Guns'N'Roses since 1991, leaving himself and Buckethead to wallow on some tour bus, laughing at early 90's metalheads who are still stuck in the cold November Rain. On the flipside of things, it appears as though the family that the Ol' Dirty Bastard left behind and Damon Dash are beefing over Dirt's last album, A Son Unique, which Dame was supposed to put out. There's a bunch of drama over money that is supposed to be owed to Dirty's estate. Dame is pretty much on some "fuck you and the money you think you're gonna get" shit, which I can't blame him: Dirty's family must be niggerish - look at how he lived, and died. I just wish a final copy of the LP would get leaked so we could enjoy what ODB was going through during his last days. Speaking of Dame, he went on the record this week and said he is not sure why Jay-Z is dissing him on "Lost One", if that is him being dissed at all. He says that they "did too much together" to have beef, but come on Dame, weren't you the one speaking on Jim Jones' "Kingdom Done" dis track aimed directly at Jay? You might not have talked shit about Jay, but isn't there a thing called guilty by association?

03/Speaking of Roc-A-Fella, it looked like all the Roc is getting for Christmas this year were lawsuits. In the funniest and most poignant lawsuit of the year, daredevil Evel Knievel is suing Kanye West over the "Touch The Sky" video, which is ironically the same video Kanye was sore over when he didn't win at the MTV Europe awards earlier this year. Evel was pissed at Kanye's usage of "vulgar, sexual and racially questionable content", which was apparently not Evel's bag. Evel is seeking royalties as well, which I doubt he will win. I think that, even though the video might demoralize Evel, I don't see him being due any loot in terms of whatever sales it might have generated for Kanye. Think of how many people would be due money for a situation like that. In the end, though, anytime I can laugh at Kanye, I take it from jump. Now, former wrestler Diamond Dallas Page is continuing his suit against Jay-Z and now Roc-A-Wear over the "diamond cutter" hand sign. DDP is stating that he has that thing trademarked, and Jigga is biting his sign. He definitely has a case, but I am just surprised that Page was smart enough to trademark it on his own, without WCW or WWE biting into it. I mean, niggas can't even leave WWE these days without giving up their name. And to think, he went from being a manager of Badd Company to the 3-time WCW champ. God, I fucking miss those old wrestling days. When I do the knowledge on those fueds and such, I get so weepy. I was such a WWF/NWA nerd.

04/Hip-Hop news, aside from the above stuff, was kind of tame and disappointing this week, but you know, we have to cover it so the public knows what's really ha-ni-nin'. On some Pac & BIG shit, the movie that Sylvester Stallone was working on is not going to happen anytime soon. Stallone was supposed to portray Russell Poole, the LAPD cat who tried to expose the departments handling of the facts on the BIG case. For a plethora of reasons, this movie will not see the light - I guess Rocky Balboa and the new Rambo movie are taking their toll on old-ass Stallone... My least favorite artist of 2006, Lupe Fiasco, is set to work on his sophmore album, tentatively titled The Cool, and he wants to work with Pink Floyd. I shit you not... Eminem's new Shady disc, The Re-Up, debuted at #2, even though this very website told you the disc is no good... Speaking of Eminem, his boy Proof (RIP) has an album coming out. This set was supposedly completed over the span of 24 hours, based on a bet. Last time I heard an album done in the same time period, MF Grimm was my idol... In an effort to try and clean up his comments to Monie Love last week, Young Jeezy reached out to Nas to organize a tour between the two of them. Gotta love when beefing niggas is under the same umbrella... Keith Murray spoke in an interview on Redman's forum about his new album. Sounds like a weed-soaked Def Squad orgy, which I do not mind at all, as long as they aren't too burned out... finally, the good guys over at Oh Word posted up some images to go along with the Clipse's rhymes for "Mr. Me Too". Pure comedy.

05/How about Halle Berry has an album coming out? I shit you not, that is the rumor going around quietly... it's set to drop Feb. 2007, and there is even a tentative tracklisting, with a who's who of collaborators on it. I mean, OK, you are a star... who the hell knows if this broad can sing?

06/Due to video game nerds being dumbasses, Nintendo has had to recall about 3 million+ of those Wii remote straps. They are working on the diameter of the straps, but the thing is all of the reports I've read detailed Wii-users NOT USING THE STRAPS. Why recall some shit no one uses?

07/The folks over at ABC are not only cleaning house, but they are getting ready for some new members and some old but steady money. Taye Diggs and William Shatner's new shows struck out and got cancelled. No real surprise on either front. I know not one person who watched Day Break, and Shat's show got too much bad press. Now, with Day Break gone, the whole "watch Taye do a dumb action show so you can peep new bits of LOST" ploy is gone, but TheTailSection has posted up the latest commercial/sneak peek of the 2nd half of this season. Jack's in the jungle cage? Who tf is Cindy? Where's Kate and/or Sawyer? Spooky... ABC also has plans to give Oprah two reality TV shows, as if she needs more loot. The themes on both shows circulate around change, pushing oneself to the limit to see if they will sink or swim, which hopefully deters wanna be actors and fake singers.

08/After all of the fuss - after Marc Cuban proved them wrong, and damn near halfway into the season, the higher ups at the NBA want to use the old ball. I still don't get why they figured a change of the ball was needed, but so be it.

09/On some random Pop news, it looks like in an effort to combat the over-sexy image the Super Bowl halftime show has received over the years, Prince is the most obvious choice. The same man who wrote such touching family ballads as "Head" and "Erotic City". Score one for morals and dignity. K-Fed is rumored to be writing a book based on the untold scandal surrounding Britney Spears. It should be hitting the crayon racks in the next couple of years... Mariah Carey is suing porno star Mary Carey so that Mary does not use her porno-name for her forthcoming CD. I think a) Mariah needs to stop watching porno so much that she remembers the fucking dude's name, and b) she needs to set straight.

10/And now, here's some sleepy random news: this boy in PA shot himself with an AK over his report card. Fucked up that your parent's pressure would lead to such tragedy. We reach out to that community during these ridiculous times. Totally unscientific data would lead you to believe that this "trend" called blogging will die down in 2007 - stop crying, no need to worry.

11/The finals of the Survivor Race War are on tomorrow. I have money on Yul, the Asian mastermind. He's been the smartest player throughout, and has what it takes. I like Ozzy, too, and I think those 2 will be in the final 2. I apologize to my race, but there is no way in HELL that chick Sundra will make it past the final 4. Nor Becky, the conniving Asian chick. They buddied up with the Godfather Yul and rode his coattails the entire game... who woulda thought that I would get sucked into reality TV shows like that!? By the way: American Idol, Jan. 16th!

I'll always be around.

I am going to leabe it at that...just want to let you guys be aware of the newness coming soon to rock the dub. There will be 2 mixes dropping in the next 2 weeks: one is a 2006 DNB Retrospective mix done by DJ Nappy, with tunes selected by yours truly, as well as an all-Dub Xmas mixtape done by myself. Review of the new Nas album is coming by Tuesday as well.

As for right now, it's time for bed.

1.

Help me blog for 1 year.

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I found this website, Blog For A Year, which is trying to grab donations to help 1 blogger get paid to blog for 1 year. They are trying to raise $160K, and giving $80K to the blogger with the most votes to blog about whatever their fingers desire. I could be that blogger! The thing is, I need your votes. So please, vote for me. I checked, and the highest vote getter has like under 500 votes - and this is a comp that has been going on since July of '06!

If you want to see me shine, and see me win, please just go to my profile page and vote for your boy. I promise that, if I win, I will cover music like I always do - but cover it on a more efficient basis. Since I'd have the loot up front, it'd be a lot easier for me to do what I'd want to, without restraint of time due to having to find a job, keep a job, etc.

Help out ya boy. I thank you in advance.

Disclosure, minus Demi Moore...

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I was just over on the PayPerPost opportunities website, trying to see what I can post about to earn some loot, when I checked out the latest piece of information: TechCrunch has reported that PPP is making it mandatory that its bloggers (this one included) let people know that, yes, we are getting paid to blog about a certain topic. Essentially, if I do a post about something that PPP is giving me loot for, I have to let you know. I mean, blog advertising is blog advertising, and I'd never deny that I was getting money for something, but it takes the element of shadiness out of the whole ordeal. I do agree with the post over at TC, that it is a step in the right direction, and it's not like each post has to say "paid for by the good folks over at PayPerPost", but it's nice to let the public know when there's an ad about. It's not like everything has to be Lonelygirl15, hidden behind folds and folds of wit and such. On my site, you'll know if it's a PayPerPost thing, because the tag says PayPerPost on it (like this one does... click that tag and you'll see my disclosure). If they need more, let ya boy know. I told you guys from jump, I'm trying to get paid to blog, so be prepared.

And if you have any other jobs, just get at me.

Friday, December 15th 2006 playlist

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This post has nothing to do with the woes of the world. Life's rough, and it will get rougher, but if we just get hit by music, shit will be OK. So, here are some bombs to drop on your speakerboxes.
PS: I hope you guys didn't sleep on those FREE Tanya Morgan LP downloads...

Various:

01/Lil' Wayne "Go DJ (Nappy Dubstep Mix)" [my boy DJ Nappy doing it each and every. He has a host of Dubstep mashups out there, check THIS POST for more info and direct links.]
02/Loefah "Voodoo" ["fuckin voodoo... fuckin voodoo MAGIC..." gotta love the dubstep.]
03/Young Joc "Going Down (Nappy Dubstep Mix)" [Nappy taking the new one from JuJu and rocking some Joc vocals over it. Direct dload, peep it and lean/rock accordingly.]
04/Deadly Hunta & Catch 22 "Mama Mia (Photek Remix )" [forthcoming TEKDBZ pressure. orchestrated Dance Hall DnB styles. Big tings from R and crew in 2007, best believe.]
05/Perpetuum "The Plasmatics" [some ruffneck shit from VA's finest, forthcoming on ARX if I'm not mistaken. Dude has the Midas touch.]
06/DJ Clue ft. Beanie Sigel & Cassidy "Liberty Bell" [taken from Clue's forthcoming The Professional, Part 3 mixtape. Good to see 2 of Philly's finest getting their massacre on. oh and Freeway is on this too.]
07/Limewax "Fuck The Labels" [promos for his long awaited TechFreaks LP hit stores this week. It sounds just like you think it will, only doper.]
08/Nocturnal "Cross The Line" [new one out on Freak. Been waiting for this terror for half the year now! Grab on sight.]
09/Break "Yes" [new heat on Commercial Suicide. Break getting his amen nastiness on. Rough rough tune.]
10/MIST:I:Cal "Amen Electric" [this one is from MIST & Calibre's forthcoming opus, Eleventh Hour, and it's a solid LP. full release Feb. 07.]

Final Thought:

To celebrate the spoke-upon reunion of the legendary DITC crew, here is some classic Diamond D:




Until next time...

Weird phone call...

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How about this bill collector just hung up on me?


I mean, granted, it's a measly $50, and I have not seen any mail come inreference to this money I supposedly owe.

Now, he called here a few weeks back, and I told him the same thing I told him today: I need for him to send a bill. I don't get money until tomorrow, so I cannot make any payments over the phone. Thing is, he comes at me on some "we've sent 4 letters and you got an EOB on this back a few months ago" and "I am trying to expedite this debt". Cool, I respect your G, bill collector-san, but I need a bill. I have negative scraps in my account to pay you right now, so send me a bill, shit will be bong bong like you ain't even know me.

Thing is, he flips, seriously tells me "I am reluctant to send a bill, we've sent 4 letters"... I said, what? You want me to pay you but you won't send me a bill? I didn't get those letters. "Well, who opens your mail?" Dog, if you are implying that my wife is hiding something from me, fuck you very much. Still in all, letters ain't bills, get me a bill and it will be over, bong bong. "I am not sending a bill", in some nasty tone. Dog, why are you getting hostile, I'm trying to get this taken care of?

At this point, he says a bunch of shit while I'm trying to talk to him, and he ends up hanging up on ME! What kind of insanity is that? Does this mean he is just going to forget this money that he says I owe, or should I be worried? I mean honestly, I did the right thing, right? I need a bill letting me know if I owe, whether it's for some earrings or a fucking hospital visit copay. Don't be stupid, boss. I told you -- I CANNOT PAY RIGHT NOW. Accomodate me or fuck off.

I guess he chose the latter...

Tanya Morgan's giving it all away.

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TM has rar'd up 2 of their albums for download via yousendit, so get them while they are hot and fresh.

Moonlighting (more info about it HERE): DIRECT LINK

Welcome to Loud Minority: DIRECT LINK

Grab a beer and rejoice: TM is here to fuck your brains out. Or just give you good quality Hip-Hop, whichever comes first.

Get it? Come? I'm fucking Dave Champipple over here!

Snoozers

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Do I listen to bad music, or does the majority of the music-loving world just have bad taste?

This is not a post in reference to the troubling state of American Pop music. This actually has a bit to do about UK Drum & Bass mentality. We have message boards and such that scream for singular sounds, digging the likes of Current Value, Limewax, Noisia, Pendulum, and other artists who sound great but really ain't saying much. They want progression, but with no soul. Yet, when guys like Verse and SP:MC come correct with some vintage sounding, deep neurostyle funk, like in their track "Border Patrol", they really get no love. Forget what the sheet says for a second: listen to the beats. How can you deny that bass? The eerie old school ethos? Why is it that people want soulless music, as long as it sounds good in the club?

Don't even get me started on the fact that guys like Fanu and Seba hardly get burn. Or the fact that when crews like the TEKDBZ Army try to really take DnB to the next level, it gets shrugged off as being "thug". Thugs rob niggas and bust you in the face, only to stab your brain with your nosebone. What in the hell does that have to do with lyric-based DnB tracks? Why is it that progression gets confused with noodling, and no one can understand that Soul is what this scene was built on, not how well you knew your equipment.

Maybe Rap mentality needs to be fused into DnB make-up more often. I mean, Rap niggas will cook up some fresh lyrics over a dirty beat, but as long as the feeling and vibe of the track is cohesive, they burn it and you love it. DnB heads value education and the ability to EQ a bassline just right, and leave the actual building of timeless music to the side, for God knows what reason. Maybe that is why guys are more concerned with download 12"s than buying good tunes.

Think on that one. And wake up.

The Wire, Season 4: Thoughts

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This season of The Wire was the best out of the 4, for many obvious reasons, but there is one that I particularly like: it was a big payoff for those of us who have been fans for the last 4 years. It's no secret to those who dissected this show that, this season showed not only a mirror of the politricks that go on in major cities, but it also showed the Education of a Hood. We've seen niggas like Wallace get popped because they weren't hard, but we never truly got a glimpse of the inner workings of their life. This season, not only did we get to see how cats like Namond might be pressured into The Life, but we also got to see the final, sad chapter on Bodie's life play out. He had been in the street, grown up and hardened on those corners. He knew his loyalty to the Barksdale crew, and knew that he wasn't a snitch. Ruthless niggas like Marlo, though, they had his number from day dot when they punked him into giving up that corner. No way Poot would have shown as much strength as Bodie, but Poot is still here... for now. And don't get me started on the brutal realities shown in Sherrod's life. He was brought up to fail, and soon acted on his destiny, tragically.

My thing is, with this being the 2nd to last season of The Wire, I'm growing nostalgic. I pulled out Season 1 on DVD and watched it whilst painting. Seeing those guys coming up, the Barksdales... the original Major Crimes Unit... it's just insane to think about the arcs and leaps and bounds, highs and lows. And the situation is still the same, if not worse: 13 year olds are out there runnin' corners, school system is still fucked up, and Chain Of Command is fucking up the Police. True Police are putting in work, but have to work around the system to get their shit poppin' off.

Do I really care? I mean, day to day, real life mirrors the situations in The Wire, and vice versa. It's just funny though: a nigga like Omar, in the hood, wouldn't be looked at with compassion. Dealers are faceless in the real world, while on The Wire, they have names, families, and real-life situations that they are trying to come up out of. Maybe we should look at the real-life gangstas like this, which might aid in rehab, instead of locking them up like animals in steel cages, hoping they kill themselves or someone else.

Can't wait for Season 5, the final season.

PS: There's one thing I just realized: both Randy and Cheese share the same last name... could they be kin, and therefore Prop Joe be related to Randy? Could this play out in Season 5, making the ties that bind even more complex? So many questions...

Santa Gets DOWN!

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I'm in my Holiday Cheer mode, finding everything Christmas, and this grab is a gem. Did you ever wonder what Santa would look like getting his dance on? No need to wonder: check out North pole dancing and see for yourself! There's a variety of different dances moves that Santa can perform. I guess he gets hot doing all of this dancing, for his traditional suit is gone, and he is rockin' the suspenders-and-boxers sheek. Make up a routine, find the hidden moves in each scene, and just enjoy yourself! And once you've had your fill, there are 19 other games and fun things to do by clicking on the "OfficeMax" yellow tab. Gotta love that!

This brought to you on behalf of OfficeMax.


INRE: review of Nas' "Hip Hop Is Dead"

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Just letting you guys know that I do plan on reviewing this CD... once I get the retail version. Every tracklisting I have seen rivals the copy I have, so until I see a finalized thing, I will hold off. Just being respectful to the God.

Nappy & Pandemonium Jones invade Trenton!

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For any of you East Coast US heads who are in the tristate area come Dec. 12th, you should come down to my hometown Trenton and check out two of the finest DJs I personally know: DJ Nappy and Pandemonium Jones, 1/2 of the infamous Caps & Jones DJ outfit. They have dope taste, and promise to be spinning all types of funky shit for the masses. I have known both of these guys since about '98, and we've been good friends ever since. From Hip-Hop to Funk to Rock to Pop to Reggae to Whatever Hot Shit They own, the sounds will be both different and fun, so definitely go down to the 449 Room and peep their game. It looks like there are also Poker Tourneys going on, which should be a nice treat, given the drink specials they will be runnin'. I wish I could make it, but a nigga got kids and shit. I'll be there in spirit!
Holla!

PayPerPost: Bloggystyle

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Remember when I hipped you guys to the wonderful world of PayPerPost, the spot where you can get money to post about various things? Well, they have pretty dope blogs, full of all kinds of PPP news, crazy videos, and other genereal points of interest in their offices. Hell, they even feature bloggers who use the service - talk about exposure! Going through the blog, you realize how down to earth and just zany their employees are, which is refreshing: some of these services make it seem like they are cold and faceless. PPP is putting a face on their product, and putting cash in pockets. Can't hate on that!

the shuffle. [12/09/06]

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Another broke ass week, another dope ass blog. I wanna shout out everyone who peeped my blog this week, peeping all of my reviews and shit. I got a good amount of "yo that's hot" kites, which is appreciated. And a lot of people want me to review that Nas shit. Compared to the tracklistings I see elsewhere, I have a weird advanced copy. I will either review that or wait for the retail to be perfecto. I'll let you guys know.

Man this livin' by the crumbs the gov't gives you is for the birds. I need a hustle, pronto. I'm trying to get a part-time blog job, something that pays. It's hard work, from what I am seeing in my research, but who knows. Three dope posts from khal a week? That should be a no-brainer!

In any case, we have a lot of shit to discuss news-wise, so let's get right into it.

01/We knew it was a matter of time, and it was this week - Jay-Z, in the midst of his "Lost One" video blowing up any TV station that plays Hip-Hop, some serious backlash/bullshit has come about. In terms of backlash, the man who used to say Jigga was his favorite MC, Lil' Wayne has recently told Complex Mag, among other things, that Jay is NOT the Savior of Hip-Hop. I mean, niggas like him and Young Jeezy crack me up. They equate Rap Supremacy with street cred, and truly think that being the dopest is directly linked to being the king coke mover. These lil'/young niggas need a wake up call, forreal. Jay's LP might not be the best shit out there, but it is exactly WTF Rap needs: a shot in the arm, something to help niggas question what they are doing, and some fucking expansion, for good or ill. In any case, speaking about "Lost One", the good folks over at Vibe Confidential broke down who the 2nd verse was about. I figured it was Beyonce, for obvious reasons, but they let it be known that Hov was fucking with Rosario Dawson back in the day -- say word? I also saw, via NahRight, some ill shit - a fucking sambo Jay-Z doll. Ugly as fuck, but probably worth some dough.

02/How about Philly's 76ers are finally taking care of their summer work, and trying to get rid of Allen Iverson. I mean, I've been saying it for the last year or so: either Philly needs to get a good deal for AI and bring some young blood to the team, or revamp the team around AI. With him being so loyal, it's so fucking disgusting that they'd trade him, but Ed Snider said he's probably going to deal neph ASAP. I mean, to go from being 2 games suspended to "this nigga ain't coming back" is kind of rough, but it's really their own fault for not dealing him during the summer. The Nuggets were even like "yo, aside from Carmelo, you guys can have anyone". They slept.

03/OK so Michael Richards got that Nigger shit off and didn't die - does that mean EVERYONE has to drop the word now? I mean, in all honesty, is it Hip-Hop's fault? Did we make it safe for non-Blacks to drop the word like it was nothing? This week, Damon Wayans got banned from the same club Kramer dropped the word at, for dropping the dreaded slur during a "Chocolate Sundaes" comedy show (wtf is that all about?), which is kind of funny when you think of it. On the other side of town, Andy Dick dropped the word while heckling one of his fellow comedians. So fucking loose with that shit. Those didn't affect me that much... it was this week's episode of The Real World, where the gay dude flipped out and was all "this nigger is trying to kill me" on the phone that got me. In a nutshell, they had a drunk night at the bar, and no one knew the gay dude went home early to use the phone. One of the black guys who looks like a Homer Simpson was on some "yo the dude called me a nigger at the bar, I didn't know where my gay roomie was", and he told the Black guy Tyrie (Mad Real World, anyone?) that gay dude wasn't at the bar. Tyrie went a bit far, and shit got heated, to the point where he got the gay dude shook by saying "I won't touch you, but in 18 weeks, I'm gonna fuck you up". The drunk gay dude then bugged out and dropped Nigger on the phone. Now, when he sobered up, he was all "I have a drinking problem". OK, Mr. Mel Gibson, why is it OK to drop racist remarks when you are drunk? Does that make you LESS of a racist?

04/You guys hear about J.Lo pulling a no-panties recently? Gotta love that almost-ass shot. And while J.Lo is showing off her upper cheek, Britney finally turned 25 and realized she needs to be clothed to be serious. Can't hate on her, though... she got divorce papers going and found her freedom. No reason to knock her hustle.

05/For all of my LOST fans out there, there's a few bits of info you guys should know about come Feb. 2007: due to the return of American Idol, it seems as though ABC has decided to push LOST to the 10PM slot. Most see this as a defeat, but let's be serious - we want as many people as possible to experience this show, no? Why not take the ratings deathmatch out of it, and let more people enjoy both shows, instead of DVRing one show and watching the other (which I tend to do every Jan-May)? To be honest, as long as the shows are up to par, and I get to learn more about this kooky island, I could careless when it comes on, thanks to the invention of the DVR.

06/I need someone to get Maury Povich's number for me: he needs Eddie Murphy and Scary Spice to get on his show once her kid is born. This week has been some funny shit, since Eddie is on the road promoting Dreamgirls and letting the world know that Mel B. and him are no more -- he is getting it on with Tracy Edmonds, even though most of the Black community thought he was gay... but I digress. Eddie is saying flat out that the kid ain't his, but Mel said "shit, it is definitely his!" I swear, Maury could put this episode on PPV. I'd pay for it. Let me know if gay Eddie, the man who was not only Delirious (which FINALLY comes to DVD in Feb. 2007) and Raw, is the father of the chick who fucked with the Spice Girls for no good reason...

07/The word on the street is that, after a lot of begging, pleading, and praying, Dr. Dre is planning on dropping Detox in September 2007. AHH reported this first, and I found the video they spoke of on YouTube. Apparently, this nigga Bishop Lamont is working with him. 10 years ago, I would have been impressed... but then I heard Stat Quo rap. On some related news, there was official word that G-Unit Records was not dropped from Interscope. If you ask me, that's a bad move. Let 50 fail on his own - maybe he will learn some humility. On another tip, this rock group called Nice Peter (I guess that's a rip on 3rd Bass' Pete Nice) wrote a diss track on 50 Cent. I think it's retarded that they are on some "yo don't take it seriously" nonsense... own up to it! If you dissed him, don't back down - fuck that formula 50 drinking water bastard.

08/Peep the Hollywood hell news: ya boy Don Cheadle is going to be directing and starring in the Miles Davis biopic, which is not necessarily a surprise. There's no other nigga in Hollywood who could do what he does for that role. I wish him the best, and just hope he doesn't fuck with Miles' legacy... in other news, Jackie Chan fucked himself up on the set of Rush Hour 3. After all of this drama, this movie better be funny as fuck... for some reason, even though I was told that Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn were not an item, apparently they broke up. Is she the (100%) white Halle Berry, making each celeb relationship she's in fucked up?... and you guys better make sure your Borat DVDs come correct - those frat boys who made a fool of themselves want the DVD release to be edited.

09/For those who do not have HBO On Demand, the finale of The Wire is on Sunday at 10PM, and it is the shit. I highly recommend you turn off your phone, shut down your PC, and have your Ls rolled before embarking on that journey... in any case, as a teaser, there were a gang of Wire-related interviews out this week: The Fader got shots with Slim Charles & Snoop, as well as fat as Proposition Joe, as well as Lt. Mello and a dope interview with David Simon, who also spoke with Slate this week. Season 5 will be the final season, and in the Slate interview, he let's some insight be known about what the 5th Season is all about. Best show on HBO since The Sopranos, hands down.

10/James Kim: RIP. This man was father of the year. He did a lot in his short time on this earth, and I think he is the true representation of what a Father is.

11/You gotta love how PS3 enthusiasts are upset on how poorly the PS3 is doing sales-wise. What did they expect, really... did they not see picks on the Wii? That remote is worth the price of admission. PS3 ain't even gone gold yet, which is fucking surprising considering how much of a force they were this time last year. I'm not one to talk, I'm still trying to get my PS2 to the limit... buy me some games!

12/I've got limited time and a gang of things to let you guys know about, so here are some One-Offs: there is a new chewable birth control pill, which makes me wonder, are scientists trying to make birth control more accessible, or do they realize that chicks are having kids at younger ages, so they figured they needed to get chicks hooked on birth control like Flinstones' chewables?... ignorant assholes felt it was OK to decry the legacy of Justo and disrupt his annual mixtape awards show. No fucking respect... MySpace set up a retarded pseudo-database of sex offenders, trying to make parents like me feel fine about their nonsense. They must assume that lil kids are dumber than their parents when it comes to the PC. On the contrary - most 16 year olds should be getting paid @ least minumum wage for time served. Holla... if anyone cares, Usher is working on his next LP. I mean, if it doesn't have a hit to combat " U Make Me Wanna", leave it on the shelves...

I'm out of here, but first, a video from Mobb Deep's Prodigy, produced by Alchemist... ch-check:


Young Jeezy "Thug Motivation 102: The Inspiration" [review]

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Young Jeezy doesn't ask you niggas to get money, he doesn't suggest you get money -- his eerie intro, "Hypnotize" fucking COMMANDS you to get money. Why, I don't know, for if you listen to Jeezy rap, there's no way you could get more than him anyways. Matter of fact, there isn't shit you can do better than Jeezy: you don't own enough powder to beat him, you won't own enough ice to get over on him, and you never been out in the trap/on the grind as much as he did. That's one thing I don't really get about niggas on the mic today. I know that cats have been all about being the best since day dot, but these days, that's all it's about. Niggas just speakin' on what they own and how big they cake is. You'd think that Jeezy, who said he was going to get more introspective on this one, would, well, get introspective.

You know what I hate about albums like this? No matter how much I love the way it sounds overall, I don't think they last the test of time. It's not that the "sound" of the CD gets stale, but it's just that we already know what Jeezy is all about. It's hard to get deep into his lyrics, or really flip over his lines. Hell, he doesn't even consider himself a rapper, and listening to his 16s, I tend to agree with him. He creates a soundtrack to the streets, saying he is speaking to the youth, but he is really just talking up an underbelly that many live and cannot escape, and making it seem glorious. At the end of the day, if you take anything this prick says seriously, you're listening too deep and giving him too much credit. I cannot even break down his themes, because he only has one. So instead, I talk about how the tracks sound and point out things that make me laugh. It's all I can do when the subject matter is so fucking stagnant and repetitive.

From the sounds of "Still On It", Jeezy is still on that "D-Boy shit". Hell, he is still on the block everyday! Is he speaking to his audience or for his audience? In any case, this track follows "Hypnotize", on a slower 808 crawl of a beat, sounds like something niggas would listen in the early morning after collecting their spoils of the Drug War and think big over clouds of blunt smoke. Shawty Redd's "J.E.E.Z.Y." tries to not only reintroduce Jeezy to the masses, but it also let's you know about what's going on in the trap. I do like how he has that "Jeezy like to drank/Jeezy like to smoke/Jeezy like to mix Arm & Hammer with his coke". The repetition of this should make any critical thinkers chuckle. Don Cannon comes correct on the boards with "Mr. 15", with it's smooth sample and heavy kicks. He's an up and comer, and this beat just proves how thoro his sound is. Jeezy, again, takes it back to the block. Why R. Kelly is on "Go Getta" is beyond me: if he put him on here to try to impress the crowd with how "versatile" he can be, he might as well grab Elton John and get him singing about being a "go getta". The beat by The Runners is boring, and R. Kelly's wailing gets annoying after a while. He sounds like he's trying to recreate Best of Both Worlds -- hey, Jigga exec produced this, right? How did he let Kells slip by, with their history?

Speaking of cameos and guest beats, there's a few notables on this disc: T.I. stops by on "I Got Money" to drop his ATL flavor. He's my favorite MC that I cannot understand - his flow is bananas, but his drawl confuses me. Need a trap-to-English dictionary for that nigga. This track apparently features Kanye West as well, but I wouldn't know it: Jeezy drops 2 verse, Tip drops a verse, and I guess Kanye makes a random noise in the background? And Jeezy fucked up putting Tip on the end - he overshined that nigga. Keyshia Cole steps up on "Dreamin'", doing nothing to quell the "Jeezy loves Keyshia" rumors from earlier this year. The track is a snore, though - Jeezy trying to get his "December 4th" on over some sad synths, slow beats and some high pitched vocals, for no good reason. Timbaland drops a on "3 A.M." a beat that is definitely not his best, but not one to totally throw away either, probably why Jeezy grabbed it. He does do some funny shit though, with his "ad libs here/ad libs there/fuck it.. ad libs everywhere". He hears us talking, and commented - I can respect that one. "Bury Me A G" has a pretty un-ATL beat, it actually sounds like Just Blaze-lite, which is a good thing here. He gets his 2Pac on, talkin' tough about dying with a gat in his hand and hate on his mind, which we can all respect. Mr. Collipark brings some jazzy horns to "Wha You Talkin' About", but kind of falters when he layers more horns over it, but the track still maintains a degree of cool to let Jeezy explaining his views on getting gwap and changing the game... the chorus is a bit of a let down, though. DJ Toomp also provides the bed to "I Luv It", the single that is currently blowin' up the charts right now, and is probably one of the best tracks on the whole damn CD. It encompasses what Jeezy is about: coming from the trap and being a G, and not being ashamed of it. Hell, he embraces it, the joy, the struggle, the pain, the pleasure. It's just been done before.

Don't get it twisted, I like Jeezy. I laugh at his ad libs, I like his sly lines and his swagger is no joke, but I just feel like I've heard this album before. Actually, I have: his debut. He kept it similar for his fans and the buying public, I guess, but for someone who has done what he's done in the time he's done it, it feels like there's been no growth from one joint to the next, and that is a bit of a letdown. Jeezy had cases, beef over his clothing label, and hell, growing under one of the dons of the game, he has nothing more to talk about than the trap? All of the greats, they've written their lines as their life dictated: as their situations grew and mutated, so did their rhymes, and we loved that. These days, everyone wants to maintain their market share, make sure their base is covered, but they end up making the same songs, just with the latest crop of popular producers. I cannot knock that hustle, and Jeezy is milking the hustle, which gets 'nuff respect from me. Jay spent a good chunk of his early career spitting coke raps, and the Clipse still have residue on their fingers. The difference is, they took time to switch up the flows, inject some humanity into it, basically, repackage their dope and redistro it to the masses. If Jeezy doesn't handle his business like he handles the weight he supposedly moves, he might end up being relegated to a weaker dope spot.

rock the dub gives Thug Motivation 102: The Inspiration a reluctant 7 out of 10. While Jeezy keeps his pen stuck on repeat, the selectio of beats helps drive his trap tales to your trunk. Smarten up, and inject something else into your next one, dog.

Young Jeezy's Thug Motivation 102: The Inspiration hits stores on December 12th, 2006. Get more info on Jeezy at the CTE website, or at his Def Jam website.

Friday, December 8th 2006 playlist

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Cold as a witches' titty out there, no? In any case, this was a pretty ill week... The Week of The Review is still going on strong, check the blog for all of the shit I've spoke on... there will be a recap either Sunday or Monday, depending on when I figure I'm done reviewing... And there's some heat rocks this week, peep the selection. And a shit-hot mix from my nigga Perpetuum, keep banging homey. Let's not waste any time...

Drum & Bass/Jungle:

01/Big Bud "Give A Little" [basswerk] [nice roller right here, has a bit of a reggae feel to it too. sleeper.]
02/Verse & SP "Border Patrol" [crunch] [b-side off the new Crunch 12"; the A-Side is runnin', but this one takes the cake for me. Neurofunk is not even the word to describe this one, I'm just surprised 2 MCs can make music this good. Reminds me of Ryme Tyme in his hey...]
03/Break "Catch Off" [quarantine] [this man can do no wrong.]
04/Misanthrop "Strange Planet (Catacomb Remix)" [shadybrain] [first vinyl release on .shadybrain, and it's a tasty one!]
05/TC & Distorted Minds "Compton" [digital soundboy] [forthcoming on Shy FX's runnin' label, this one has the classic West Coast keys with it, but the vibe is pure chill, proper smooth. Will work on the floor, but it also is nice to just lounge to.]
06/Fracture "Still Bitter" [progress ltd] [forthcoming on Progress LTD, this one is pure beauty. Can't get enough of the vocal used in this one. Watch for it.]
07/Rufige Kru "Special Request" [metalheadz] [classic Rufige vibes, rollin' sound, just a dope dancefloor tune.]
08/Saburuko "El Presidente" [progress] [can't get enough of these guys - they are the unknown gems right now.]
09/Mutt "Dublites (Outrage VIP)" [progress ltd] [another one forthcoming on Progress LTD, this one is a nasty number. took the beauty of the original and threw some dirt and grime on it, making it anew. Heavy dub pressure on this one.]
10/Perpetuum "Beige" [renegade hardware] [combines that ill rhodes with some heavy, ruffneck b-boy feel to it. This man is one to watch!]

Various:

01/Pete Rock ft. Styles P & Sheek Louch "914" [one of the grimiest beats I've heard in a while. Gotta love those classic drums.]
02/Mos Def "Crime & Medicine" [taken from the forthcoming Tru3 Magic album, this one gets me. I had it on repeat for 45 minutes the other day. Lovely how he kills that classic beat.]
03/Ghostface Killah ft. Sheek Louch "Blue Armor" [Shaolin and D-Block link up for lyrical destrtuction.]
04/Young Jeezy "J.E.E.Z.Y." [Shawty Redd drops a heater for Jeezy. And he looooooves it! very orchestral feel on this one. Damn shame Monie Love made him sound foolish...]
05/Jay-Z "Lost One" [I can't help it, I've seen the video all week. This is just stuck in my head. 'I heard mufuckas say that they made Hov..."]
06/Nas "Money Over Bullshit" [shouts to L.E.S. for that banger. Hip Hop Is Dead forthcomer. Big tune.]
07/EPMD ft. Keith Murray and DJ Scratch "Main Event" [shouts to deHop (and Spine Magazine) on this one. DJ KnowHow produced this banger. I need to keep abreast to shit like this, this is my kind of track.]
08/Eminem ft. 50 Cent, Ca$his & Lloyd Banks "Who Run It (Definate + Nappy Mix)" [you akin like you don' know! My boys do it again.]
09/Lil' Wayne "Go DJ (Nappy Dubstep Mix)" [my boy is mean on the blends... he hooked this one up super quick, droppin Weezy over a new Benga track. Illness.]
10/YoungBloodZ ft. Lil Jon "Damn!" [this track will never get old.]

Check this out:

* Perpetuum has a Winter Promotional Mix up out there. Peep his MySpace blog for the tracklisting; download the mix HERE.

Final Thought:

It's cold as fuck out there. Peep GZA's "Cold World".







Holla.

Ghostface Killah "More Fish" [review]

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Before I get into all of this, I have one question: how can Ghostface put out 2 CDs in one year, and guys like Redman have been sitting on the shelf for a bit? Anyways, Ghost is Back! And he decided to bring his Theodore Unit with him, not that we were dying to hear from Wigs or anything, but it's better than Nelly dropping a new album. The question remains: is this a new album, or is it a compilation? I mean, this is no OB4CL, but the "featuring" list is heavy: Trife Da God, Sun God (Ghost's son), Cappadonna, Sheek Louch, Redman, Solomon Childs, Eamon and others. This release having Ghost on the top billing is pretty smart - might have worked wonders for the previous Theodore Unit CD if it was like "Ghost featuring Theodore Unit", but I digress...

This disc, simply put, is kind of disjointed. You get the normal Ghost, from his faster flow on "Ghost Is Back", which jacks the classic "Know The Ledge" from Rakim, where he even namechecks a posthumous Gerald Levert. "Josephine" was previously on Hi-Tek's most recent album, in all of it's somber glory. "You Know I'm Good" is a track that Ghost Debo'd from Amy Winehouse (think of his work on Beyonce's "Summertime"), and is one of the highlights of the album. He has been flipping his style over more commercial work since he first dropped (remember that "Freek'n You (Remix)" from back in the day?), and I'm surprised he doesn't get more guest cameos. "Block Rock" is a thick tune, with a thick beat provided by Madlib. The way Ghost doubled his voice, it works so well over this one - his higher octave doubled over a fuzzy mindfuck of a banger. Sheek Louch hops on a slowed down head nodder, "Blue Armor", gelling well with Tony Starks. Who knows what they are talking about aside from just murdering the beat with some razor sharp flows. "Outta Town Shit" has Lewis Parker dropping a crisp drum track with some funky pianos, dropping bi-coastal funk on the masses. Ghost delivers one of his intricate stories about his past days of crime and breakin' niggas off. Gotta love it.

Sounds all good right? Well, the majority of these jams are sans-T.U. heads. Once one of his flunkies jumps on a track, the disc steps down a bit. "Good" has one of the most annoying beats and I guess this Mr. Maygreen singing ass bastard is the one trying to harmonize with a shitty beat. Not a "good" look at all. MF Doom recycles another one of his classic beats for "Guns 'N' Roses", which isn't that bad, but I don't get what happened to Cappadonna. It sounds like he's been smoking cigars - his trademark voice sounds a lot huskier, and his darts weren't hitting like the have in the past. "Street Opera" has father and son locking horns over a female wail over an odd soul romp. The beat is kind of simplistic, and is only saved by the vocal over the beat, which is just a boring drum loop and some random stabs. Lyrically, it's on point, but the beat makes me hit the skip button. "Miguel Sanchez" is another track that is weakened by a poorly chosen track - this one is again a snooze-inducing track that, without Ghostface rhyming, sounds like any other niggas just happened to jump on this disc; the first verse sounds like an AZ-ripoff, and not a good one. "Grew Up Hard" has a lackluster track and does not feature Ghost at all -- just Wigs and Solomon the same ol' street nonsense. No originality, no flavor ("being rich is the poor man's dream" -- yeah, no shit). The same goes for "Gotta Hold On", which has Wigs and Eamon sounding like everyone else wanting to be sentimental over a booty track.

You would think that someone like Ghost, coming from a crew as legendary as Wu-Tang is, would know which members of his Unit should stay and which should bounce. If he kept Trife, his son Sun God and gave Cappadonna some Zoloft, he could rebuild the other spots with some other wild niggas. Cats like Wigs, Childs and the rest just bring the good qualities of this collection down with their redundant lyrics and weak flows. And why did Kanye get up on the "Back Like That (Remix)" (I wonder what Raekwon thinks about the Roc being in the building)? The original was a nice combo of Ghost's love troubles and Ne-Yo's chorus - there's no need for Fendi West's flame-on lines ("I'm so sick like Ne-Yo say/I'm laid back like Neo"?)... and what did Ghost think putting drunk-ass Tracy Morgan on the intro of his disc was going to accomplish? Ghost has done better just going off the dome about banana Snapple and other shit, no need for Tracy and talking about peanut butter on his toes.

When you do the knowledge to this "Fish" situation, this sequel to Fishscale plays just like the Hollywood big budget sequels - instead of giving the people more of what made the first flick work, they come back with some extra ingredients, new characters, and a host of boring/unoriginal premises to waste our money on. This CD seems like a glorified EP as opposed to a complete album, which is essentially not how it wis being marketed at all. Def Jam wants to make a buck off of the fans that have stuck by Ghost ever since Ironman, but they are going about it the wrong way: give us more Ghost, less filler or just keep the quality Ghost tracks on the backburner until his next album.

rock the dub gives More Fish a 7 stars out of 10. While the quality Ghostface tracks shine as bright as ever, the overabundance of Theodore Unit tracks knocks off a few points.

Ghostface's "More Fish" drops in stores on December 12th, 2006. Get more info at Ghost's official website, and on his MySpace page.

Mos Def "Tru3 Magic" [review]

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You know the old saying "be careful what you wish for, you just might get it"? I am truly living that right now.

Although I enjoyed The New Danger, I was feenin' off of tracks like "Beef", and stayed confused as to why Mos Def wasn't dropping MORE straight up Hip-Hop cuts. With his final solo LP for Geffen, Tru3 Magic, dropping soon (Jan. '07 from what I hear), he tackles Hip-Hop with a fury - and with mixed results.

The meat of the tracks I dig on this collection are ones that I've already heard: everyone should know the controversy behind his Katrina-war cry, "Dollar Day (Surprise, Surprise)", which turns Juvenile's "Nolia Clap" on it's ear, and does what Hip-Hop is meant to do: challenge authority, make you dance, and do it with a defiant swagger not seen in any other form of music these days. "Undeniable" was released as a single recently, sounds like he took Black Jack Johnson and made them recreate some Superfly-esque flavor to some 2k6 minimal bass kicks. It's got a nice, smooth feel to it, letting Black Dante coast with his buttery flow. "There Is A Way" again seems to be taken from some mid-'70s Black Power meeting, with it's sung/chant of "there is a way/no matter what they say". Sounds like a revolution - but against what, and with whom, is the question. "Crime & Medicine" has Mos Def revisiting The GZA's "Liquid Swords". Mos actually sing/toasts the classic "when the MCs came..." lines, and proceeds to murk that ska sample. I'm not sure if I'm just into the fact that he picked one of my favorite beats or that he just sounds so perfect over it, but regardless, this track is my pick of the litter.

Of the newer tracks, they are scattered. "Thug Is A Drug" has Mos asking these thugged out MCs on the mic to "tell the truth"... over and over. The beat is a mixture of 808 beats, an odd piano sample, and loads of tumbling drums, making a meal that can be funky, but it sounds to basic for Mos' complex lyrics. This is something that kills a good part of the project for me: the lack of dope beats to back up the dope rhymes. "Murder of a Teenage Life" highlights and explains the ills of today that can contribute to, well, the killing of many of today's teens, but the annoying keys clutter up Mos' preaching. "Fake Bonanza" revisits the funky, sample heavy sound of the Black Star album, which is a blessing - I don't think I've heard Mos sound like this since Black On Both Sides, and I miss it. "Perfect Timing" has Mos over a sparse boom-bap, which is weird on it's own, but his voice has this ridiculous echo on it, so his rhymes sound like the mumbles of Black Thought on The Roots' "Don't Say Nuthin'", but it sounds like he is paying tribute to some of the Golden Era Hip-Hop acts (Get Fresh Crew, JMJ, Rakim, etc.), I just never get why the dedication to real Hip-Hop are never really "Hip-Hop". "Napolean Dynamite" has a smooth, funk-heavy feel to it, but at times Mos actually sounds like other guys - I swear parts of his first verse remind me of MF Doom's DangerDoom flows, with his "green and googly wide-eyed and surprised/razzle dazzle tiny mustache and fry-fry" type of lines (note: that's not a 100% verbatim, but it's damn close).

Mos ends this album with a track that tries to revisit the beauty of "Umi Says" called "Lifetime". Under an odd mixture of live drumming, dull keys and some baby noises, Mos croons about, well, "keep-keeping on" and all other types of "don't give up"-style musings. Does it work? Not necessarily, which has been a problem with Mos post-BOBS. He is a true artist, so his passion is to keep it fresh - not reinvent the wheel type pressure, but to keep pushing himself to stay new, stay current, but also stay out there. I'm not sure if he wanted to stay on good terms with Geffen by delivering an album that could get played on Black Radio, but none of these tracks truly speak to the Top40 bullshit that is out there. While "Dollar Day" drops a recognizable beat, most niggas would rather give their FEMA dollars back to the Dope Man than try and take the revolution to Dubya's face. "There Is A Way" might be cool in the New Black Panter Party set, but no one gives 2 shits about that kind of revolution these days. On the tracks where Mos is more laid back with his flow, not trying to be on some "action NOW!" type of feel, the music is too lackluster to be taken seriously.

At the end of the day, Mos Def is probably one of the most gifted lyricists making music right now -- it's just how does he want to go. Is he trying to be Andre3000, who can kick an ill verse (peep his shit on the "Walk It Out (Remix)"), but album wise wants to be the poor-man's John Coltrane? Is he trying to appeal to the Kanye-crowd of kids who will go buying (RED) products whilst getting Fendi logos carved into their head? If Mos is smart, he'd fill the void that Public Enemy has left - the voice of the streets. There aren't too many prominent griots in the mainstream right now, and with his acting chops, he should be able to tackle both avenues. It's really on him right now. Mos: there is a way...

rock the dub gives Tru3 Magic 6.5 stars out of 10. While there are flashes of Mos' bright light, his divided interests hinder him from creating a truly cohesive long player.

NOTE: This review is of a promo copy of the Tru3 Magic album. It is slated to drop in Jan. of 2007, or on Dec. 19th 2006, depending on who you ask, and the tracklisting is subject to change. Get more info at Mos' website. Also check out Mos on MySpace.

Gwen Stefani "The Sweet Escape" [review]

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Gwen Stefani's solo career is what happens when the punk rock chick who is into loads of "eclectic" styles of music tries to make you dance. At times, her selection of tracks are on some quirk-by-numbers shit: while Pop Radio is accepting of many odd sounds, some weird samples of The Sound Of Music, yodeling, and serious low-end bassline are not really one of them. I can see the bassline and the percussion heavy drums of "Wind It Up" being ready for the clubs, but that yodeling nonsense? That's for the frat girl who's had one too many shots of Patron and should be in a taxi on her way to her bed. Yet, that's also how Gwen comes off...

Her days being the reluctant frontwoman of No Doubt seem to not even come to play with her solo musings. Her singles don't really rely on her singing as much as they focus more on her attitude and persona. Gone are the "Spiderwebs" and other tunes that tug at your soul and really speak to you, and now we get tracks like "Orange County Girl", with her sang-rap and a pretty cheesy beat behind it. Swizz Beatz recycles his current-craze of ill beats on "Now That You Got It", and it's like a flashy remake of his most popular sounds, coming off forced and forgettable. "Don't Get It Twisted" lets you know in the intro that this is "the most craziest shit ever", and goes from some pretty crazy electronic mastery to a, for the lack of a better word, shitty combination of fuzzy bass, Dance Hall-lite and borrowed come-ons - that "uh oh, uh oh" didn't work for Lumidee, what makes Gwen think she can get it off?

The rub is, when Gwen wants to, she can really write some amazing stuff. "Yummy" has her getting her sexy on after giving birth to her son recently. "Early Winter" is probably the closest to her past rumblings with No Doubt, taking that indie-rock, college radio circa '88 style of writing and sound. "Fluorescent" comes on like classic Funk, complete with a heavy kick and some freaky horns. This one takes it back, and lyrically it's sweet to boot, singing about how much she cannot believe she is still with this person she loves. The sad part is, she sounds like she jacked a Dirty South beat on the very next track ("Breakin' Up"), with eerie synths and handclaps trying to mask the fact that she cannot get her flow or lyrics to gel right over this track.

Looks, Gwen, we get it - your record collection is cooler than most kids, but just because you are influenced/inspired by many different forms of music, that does not automatically mean you can just put them on and breathe life into them. "Hollaback Girl", honestly, was kind of a fluke. If you didn't have that "B-A-N-A-N-A-S" chant in the track, I honestly doubt it would have gotten to be so big. That track, like many on this collection, sound so disjointed, or just recycled. "U Started It" sounds straight off Pharrell's In My Mind, which doesn't really say anything special. Your 80's cheese/R&B funk of "4 In The Morning" sounds too Madonna, not enough Gwen. As I stated earlier, tracks like "Yummy" work for a minute, but that's only because you use your voice at times as another part of the track. The "raps" from you and Funkmaster P grow tiring, and you guy strying to harmonize midway? Leave that shit on the cutting room floor.

At the end of the day, there's too much nonsense and pretension in this collection. You get the feeling that not only is Gwen not trying to get back to the No Doubt style of music, that she is trying to be this generation's culture-chameleon. Wearing new sounds like panties, she switches everything up so swiftly. The question is: why? Is she trying to hide the fact that, stripped down, her voice/writing doesn't really compete with some of the other females in the game right now? I mean, Fergie is doing that "white girl can't rap" shit to death, why does Gwen, who has been hailed for her chops and style a lot longer than Fergie has, have to travel down that same path? Take away the out-there production, and you're left with 12 tracks of tofu - bland and mundane substance, but given a splash of spice and cooked up in a different light, and you can make it taste like whatever you want. And for Gwen, this just isn't enough.

rock the dub gives The Sweet Escape a 5 out of 10. Some interesting ideas get lost in translation, and Gwen sounds like too many crappy artists to really be taken seriously.

Gwen Stefani's The Sweet Escape is in stores today. More info on Amazon.com; check out her official website for clips and other treats about Gwen.