Last Donut of The Year.

Just some videos to play 'round midnight tonight...

DJ Shadow "Midnight In A Perfect World"

sidenote: DJ Shadow "Midnight In A Perfect World (Gab Mix)": peep Gift of Gab's poetics on that one. Enjoy.

DJ Craze LIVE at the DMC 2006 in London, UK

gotta love his skratch technique. TEKDBZ STAND UP!

MTV Base "About To Blow" Documentary about Dubstep

just because.

Classic James Brown medley from Soul Train

RIP to the Godfather.

Eminem & Proof freestyling for some old MTV show

RIP Proof, where's Shady at?

J Dilla "Nothing Like This"

RIP to the master beatmaker. BTW, sneak attack!

Remember. Reminisce. Realize. Recreate.

2007 - we're ready.

Peace and love.
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Outa 2k6, Inta 2k7

So I'm up at like 6AM this morning or so, mainly because lil' man has this habit of not being able to get back to sleep without being in his parent's bed. I decided to take the couch, and have wifey cuddle with the lil guy. I went downstairs, and although I was tired as hell, I turned on the TV and flipped to HBO, where Wayne's World was just starting. During the "Bohemian Rhapsody" bit, I noticed that dude in the back is fucking Tobias Beecher, the new-age Job in OZ, one of the 3 greatest HBO dramas of all time. How in 5 years he went from random head-banger in a few SNL spin-off flicks to a man who got ass-raped and had a swastika tatt'd on his asscheek in the first episode of a prison drama is beyond me, but it made me realize something... in 5 years, you can do anything.

Almost five years ago, I was just getting into the "living-together" situation with my now-wife. We were pretty much destined to live the rest of our lives together, and we both know that it is for the best. The thing is, if you had told me a year before then that I'd be living with an older woman and becoming a father to her 2 daughters, I'd call you a crazy man. Strange how life changes, no? Now, I am almost 2 years married, we added a third (and final?) seed to our plant, and I am on the course to being a decent human being. No more wildness, no more smoking (the occasional cigar or cigarillo is never out of the question), and just all around homebody. Do I regret anything? No, for if I changed one thing, I wouldn't be the me I am right now, and I kind of dig myself. Do I think I could be doing better? Surely...

Why do I bring all of this up, you might ask? Well, I have to get these things down somewhere. I know many of you out there are, like me, stuck in ruts, whether it's creatively, job-wise, or just life in general. You have things you are thinking of doing, or want to do, but either don't have the balls or the means to get it done. Well, shit, I also figured that, when this magazine The Flow I was writing for went under, I would have nowhere to get my writing out. I finally decided to do what I should have done years ago, and started this blog. Now, look at me... I have a running resume of my works, and have conducted interviews with some pretty ill figures in the music scene. Can I do better? Surely... I should be buying some webspace and making this bigger, but right now, I like where I'm at. I have enough freedom where I have no regrets, but not enough stress where I want to end this at all. All deadlines are self-imposed, and not corporate, so I can keep my cool and not bug out if something is late. I'd love to do this professionally, but I'm not sure of the right outlet for a writer like me - I am not conventional in any sense of the word, and it's hard to get good pay for blogging just anywhere. We'll see.

In any case, I just want to say, you guys have the power to be anything. Don't look at life in some fixed scope of time -- it might take 5 years for your pivotal role to be realized, so headbang your way along until it comes, and once you sense it - seize it. Get naked, get drunk, put on makeup, do whatever it takes to make them know you mean business. You will earn your respect, and with respect comes new opportunities.

Be safe tonight, and catch me tomorrow.

Peace and love,
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The Sickness

That's what I looked like late Tuesday night.

I don't normally get sick like that anymore. I have a semi-steady diet of 40s and wine, but nothing to crazy (if you used to chill we me pre-2002, you'll know what I mean). I think I caught the bug that my wife caught from work, which means possibly more of the up-chuck, and some liquid dookie (my stool looked like soy sauce that night).

So heres how this all came about...

Tuesday night, I'm chillin'. Just finished feeding lil' man, wifey was upstairs knocked out, as were the kids. My stomach was feeling weird - I didn't know if I was hungry or had to drop a deuce, so I figured "why not make some PB&J?!"... I'm eating PB&J and watching a fucking Boondocks marathon that I didn't even know was on (!!!), and decided, let me just DVR some of my fav episodes (Granddad's Fight, Wingmen, etc.), and go to bed. This is about 12:15AM. 1:20AM, I get that acid taste in my mouth... I figured, I can choke this one back. Mind you, I seriously have not thrown up in a good 5 years or so... so I'm not prepared for any of this. I realized my whole world was about to hit the REWIND!!!!!!, so I was Michael Bolton to the bathroom door. I didn't make it all the way... spewed a bit on the rug before I hit the toilet, spewed a bit more on the bathroom floor, then I just upchucked all into the porcelin God.

It reminded me of all of these episodes of Jackass or Wildboyz, where you see these white dudes puking over everything. It was harsh, though. Dinner came up --- pineapple chunks and lil bits of ham. And the actual spew, it felt surreal - like I could see how much was coming out. And it fucking hurt. Got back into my nose, burned something awful. Some of the shit got stuck, and me trying to clear it out ended up making me gag more.

Not a pretty sight.

I spent most of yesterday on the couch, which I came to found out I had a 101 degree fever. Luckily, lil' man was at my mom's for the day (more on that bullshit in another post), and I beat the fever in a night's time. He's here, I'm doing better, and life is semi-decent.

Now I just need a job...

And for those of you who survived this post, here's a lil sneak attack for you. Happy New Year.
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PayPerPost acquires Performancing.com

I didn't realize that, in trying to make money blogging, that corporate measures and "real-life" situations would take over this haven. I guess the seclusion of my computer area had my mind kind of foggy...

In checking out new opportunites on PayPerPost, I came across a headline that was kind of odd... Performancing.com, a site which I've been trying to capitalize with for a month or so now, has just been bought by PayPerPost. I'm all for taking over and building up your brand via acquisitions, but I do not see this one as a wise decision, for if you check out the forums over at Performancing, there are a load of unsatisfied customers over there, including this one.

The way Performancing.com works is pretty simple: set up your account, throw some hypertext into your blog, and if a site digs you and wants to advertise on your site, then you work out a deal. The thing is, unless you are one of the more popular blogs, you won't see any activity. I get a pretty decent amount of traffic, roughly 300+ visitors daily. Not so bad, but not the tens of thousands I am guessing most of these companies want. So, I get the shaft. You can check my right side, the same "Performancing" ads have been running for a month. And the thing that truly bothers me is the fact that the guys who run the site are no help. They basically tell you "hey, advertise your site more" and what not. That'd be well and good if advertising was all that matters. They all want Google PageRanks. Don't know what Google PageRanking is? Look it up. Essentially, if my site is not as popular as you'd wish it to be, you would rather not advertise on it. No matter how many users I could potentially bring to your product with a glowing review, oh no. I mean, I am a pretty good writer. I say that not to toot my own horn, but I get offers to do this, publicity and whatnot, and I rarely get edited down or told not to say something or do something... but it's rare that I get monetarily compensated. Why? PageRanks. *sigh* So PPP, what do you plan on doing to fix this?

The one thing I will say is nice about Performancing is their blog job board, where companies post up job opportunities for bloggers. I never seem to be able to capitalize on those situations, either, but I feel I could if someone gave me a chance *wink wink*.

At the end of the day, if PPP can turn around Performancing.com, they can do a lot of things. Hopefully they will be able to turn that sinking ship around and bring it to new waters.

As always, this post is brought to you by the good folks at PayPerPost.

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Not broke enough...

Is the line of poverty seriously askew these days?

I ask because of my ventures today... I went out to the local "One Stop Career Center" to see if I was eligible to take some test that will then see if I am elligible to get some free schooling from the government of NJ. It's all a fucking scam, but you have to play the game to get ahead, no?

So I go to this office, paperwork in hand, which included my ID, SS card, unemployment stubs and pay stubs showing my year to date earnings. Once I get to sit down with this bitch, she delves into my life, asking about my fam and shit. I tell her I am married with 3 kids. She then pulls out this chart showing what is assumed to be the poverty line, which is $43K a year for a family of 5. With my take home pay added to my wife's, we make slightly above that. I am then told that I have to wait 15 weeks before I can be automatically elligible to take this test to see if I can take some free courses.

Mind you, by that 15 week period (roughly the 2nd week in April, 2007), my unemployment will have run out and I will probably be employed at that time. I mean, they know that you only get a finite period of time for unemployment pay, and the schooling is based on your still being on unemployment. So basically, I'd need to be a fucking deadbeat with no way to attain a decent job and support my family. Fuck you very much, I hustle. I get my grind on how I get it on, with this writing, through eBay, whatever the fuck. You honestly think I'd still be on assistance through April of 2007? Get real.

My thing is: OK, we might make what is considered to be over the poverty level, but really, with student loans, other forms of debt, rent, and the occasional 2 month old getting RSV and pneumonia or the 15 yr old needing special care for rare allergies to the sun, how do they expect me to stay afloat? I hate to fucking harp on my life, but shit, I just had a kid, I'm living in one of the most ridiculous rent markets in the state of NJ, and I am struggling. I got fired over some bullshit about me not being productive, all the while I'm doing the work of 2 and 3 people. Life is a hairy bitch, and I'm tired of being told I do not qualify.

I need to find my own way. Make my own way in this world. I will continue to play by the man's rules, but it's going to work in my favor this time. And in the end, I'll be laughing, holding some mint julep and sippin'.

Sippin' I tell you...
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The Year We Lost James...

It was not even a month ago that I spoke of my affection towards "Funky Drummer", the track I have playin' again, right now. I had no idea that the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, would be leaving this earth come Christmas Day. I mean, he was 73, but if you ever saw him perform, he always looked like he was 18. And for many of the people making money in music these days, you owe a great deal of respect and due to the one like JB. I mean, Funk was not a state of mind until James fleshed out the sound he heard in his head, using artists he knew he could push.

Earlier this year, Rolling Stone published this ill piece on James, following him around in the modern day, showing his demented studio work to his work on the stage. For anyone who has had even a fleeting interest in the man, I highly recommend you check it out and see all sides of this genius.

For many beatfreaks out there who, like myself, take pride in knowing where that producer nicked that break to create a new sonic bed, you know that James has been a constant in the Hip-Hop scene, from his grunts and wails to his drummers' drumming. I wish I could provide a true mix like Edan did, showcasing the guys who paid homage by looping and reworking James' grooves, but I just think, by week's end, I'll provide some of my favorites to you guys, with words about each lick. Not today, I want to let the God rest. Soon though...

One more question, which I just posed to Rafi of Oh Word: How do we lose both James Brown and James Yancey, and yet Puff Daddy is still able to bring kids into this world? God, you are one cruel sommabitch.

PS: I added James "Funky President" to my "America The Ugly" mixtape from Sept. Downloads still available...

EDIT: while hitting up the DOA board, I saw that BlueWater has a tribute mix of classic James 45s up for dload. Check the original thread for the tracklisting (peep the 45 pics), and show some love.

EDIT: Shouts out to eskay at NahRight for posting up this tribute mix by the one like Salaam Remi.

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Merry Christmas, bitches!

As J Dilla's "Time: The Donut Time Of The Heart" rocks in the foreground, and Ralphie does the spazzout at his mom for taking too long to get Randy's snowsuit on, I bid you guys a Merry Christmas. Eat, drink, be merry, and drink some more. Reminisce on great Christmas past, and just be with your loved ones. And if you don't love them, resolve to find new ones.

In any case, keep it fresh. Take it light, but take it. And always stay gold.

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"National Lampoon's Dub Vacation" (Dec. 2006 Mixtape)

Dub Sessions, volume 7. I had to do it...

So I found the soundtrack to the classic Christmas Vacation flick, and with my boy DJ Nappy getting into the Dubstep Mashup thing, I figured, why not combine the 2?

This mix is the product of that brilliant thought... loads of Dubstep, both original articles and funky Rap/Dubstep combinations courtesy of my favorite DJ, interspersed with clips from this classic Christmas comedy.

Peep the tracklisting:

02/Eek-A-Mouse "Christmas A Come"
03/"Clark's Remark"
04/Young Joc "Going Down (Nappy's Dubstep Mix)"
05/Protocol X "Future World"
06/"Aunt Bethany's Arrival"
07/Lil' Wayne "Go DJ (Nappy's Dubstep Mix)"
08/JuJu "Red Up"
09/Coki "Shattered"
10/"Clark Explodes"
11/Lil' Jon ft. Three 6 Mafia "Act A Fool (Nappy's Dubstep Mix)"
12/"Eddie's Gift"
13/SDM "Got It"
14/"Hell's Threshold"
15/Benga "Evolution"
16/Loefah "Mud VIP"
17/Digital Mystikz "Earth A Run Red"

time: 54:14
size: 76mb

Pretty nice, right? Shouts to the guys making dubstep that a guy like me can feel. Big up to Eek-A-Mouse for his nice slab of classic dub. Shouts to Nappy for getting dubstep to the point where he can effortlessly throw a vocal over a dubstep track and make it work (his new batch of blends is not to be fucked with). The original for a few of the mashups are right in this mix, just felt like doing it that way. I also want to say that JuJu is my favorite DnB producer currently getting his feet wet Dubstep-wise. And big up to SDM for making dope tunes and giving away free 320s.

sendspace : megaupload
(if anyone likes this mixtape enough to mirror it, let me know!)

As per usual, this is not mixed persay, but blended to where the party doesn't stop. Feel the funk.

We Wish You A Dubby Christmas!

PS: If I get some time, I might be able to finish off another mixtape I'm working on: Malcolm X-Mas, Vol. 2. Pray for me!
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[rock the dub Interview]: Fanu

As you loyal readers should know, I do some work for many organizations in the DnB spectrum: DOA amd Horizons Music, as well as some bio work for guys like Perpetuum and Saburuko, plus some other things I will not speak on right now. I say that to say this: I'm doing a lot of writing, and sometimes these pieces sit on my HD collecting cyberdust. This interview is one of those pieces. It's a proactive interview I conducted with master of DnB & Downtempo stylings, Finland's own Fanu. At the time, his label, Lightless, was just a rumor, and I figured it'd be dope to snag him before his venture took off. He's been a producer that has received love for his keen ear for beats, his usage of atmosphere in his tracks, and just the fact that he can flip from the "drumfunk" to the "broken beat" seamlessly. In any case, the powers that be at DOA thought an interview with Fanu would be a great idea as well, so the stage was set. For reasons unbeknownst to anyone, this interview fell by the wayside, and it was not until last month when I remembered this one had been around. Alas, DOA had conducted a new, superb piece on Fanu (shouts to Mary Morris), and mine was left, unpublished. I now bring you this gem, in all of its uneditied glory. Fanu speaks on what moves him inside and outside of "the scene", how he works, and just what makes him tick. Keep in mind, this is from about May of '06, for DOA. I apologize to Fanu for having this interview sitting idle for so long, but it was beyond my control. Here's an early Xmas gift to DnB fans big and small...

khal: There are many heads on and off DOA who are infatuated with your style of production. Can you give us an idea of what inspires you to create? Do you look at making music as a full-time job or as a hobby?

Fanu: Anything can inspire me, basically. Usually it starts with creating/finding/sampling some good sound: getting an interesting sample from a synth, a movie, a record, or whatever. Being after good sounds is almost a lifestyle thing, really. You try out synths, buy/rent movies/records, mic things…go through everything and record everything…keep your ears open. I have developed a big sample library for myself, and the best thing is to randomly try out different sounds and see what goes with what: by doing that, I’m never repeating what I’ve done before. When I find something interesting, I just start building things around that. It’s like building a house on a stone base and then getting creative from there, letting it evolve. For example, I’ve just finished writing an ambient tune that becomes a house-y tune; it started with me just playing with sounds…first it was very cinematic, then I realized I can make it transform into a house tune. I’m very interested in progression music at the moment. I don’t think music will ever be my job, and that’s how I want to keep it. I mean, of course I get paid a little for signing music to labels, for record sales, and DJing at the moment, but that’s just very little, and I’m more than happy with that. I love music and I put a lot of time into it, but I want a job that doesn’t have to do with music: I don’t want music to be the job that pays my bills because I want to keep my artistic integrity and my freedom of creativity because they are the last things I want to compromise. I will graduate from the university of Helsinki and become an English teacher in a year.

khal: What makes you “Fanu”? In asking that I mean, what drives you to create the deeply funky, atmospheric tracks that you make and not some dance floor ready nastiness?

Fanu: Well, everything I do comes from what’s inside of me and what I hence want/need to create; that, of course, has to do with my roots. I never let go of the mid-nineties aesthetics because that was such a huge influence to me. I mean, I’m not trying pathetically to repeat any “good old days”, but my love for atmospheres and breaks comes from the old GLR and Metalheadz times and I acknowledge that. It is also true that my music isn’t about the latest mainstream dancefloor trends, and I say that with a great pride.

khal: Why do you think there is such a big conflict/distinction between what many have called “choppage” or “drumfunk” and the rest of the DnB you hear spun? Do you think there might be a time when there is no distinction between those styles?

Fanu: Well, the reason why there is such a distinction is possibly that at some point, breakbeats and syncopation lost their meaning in DnB to a great extent, so I suppose that nowadays some people feel that there’s the need to emphasize the fact that somebody’s using breaks instead of a more straightforward and rigid drum pattern – the latter being the predominant choice. Personally, I’ve never been into categorizing things too much – if it’s good DnB (or any music), it’s good. However, as long as there are people doing things that differ remarkably, there’s gonna be different names for all those things as well: it’s inevitable. Now that they’ve come up with all those names, I don’t think there will be a time when everything’s just “DnB” for everybody, but I guess there was a time when DnB really was just DnB.

khal: Where do you see DnB [as a scene/music] going in the future?

Fanu: DnB as music: I don’t know where it’s going, and that’s the best part! You can pour anything into DnB and that’s what makes it so great: every once in a while, there’s someone with really original ideas – like Amit at the moment, for example – who just blows everyone away. Naturally, there’s always going to be this less creative dimension of DnB, but there’s always this interesting, creative movement as well that’s being kept alive by producers who – for the love of it – are really bustin’ their balls to keep things alive and fresh. DnB as a scene: I’ve never been into any scene-related matters, to be honest. There’s good DnB coming from everywhere and people are brocking to it around the world. It’s a worldwide phenomenon.

khal: As a producer, are you ever fed up to the point of quitting over some of the problems you face as an artist within the scene?

Fanu: Never. I have the absolute freedom to do whatever I want; I mean, I don’t have to try to follow any trends or try to make music that would sell or get signed by labels. I’ve never put myself so deep or seriously into the game that I would have to follow its rules for any reason. To be honest, if the day came that no label wanted to sign my music, I’d still be proud because I’d still be doing my own thing. The only problems I have had have been with labels, but that shit’s got to do with people who don’t know how to handle their business (I think DnB as a genre holds the world record of the most number of extremely inefficient label managers) – not with any scene-related issues.

khal: Which one of your tracks do you consider your best work, and why? Which would you say is your least favorite, and why?

Fanu: Everybody would say "Siren Song", but I’m trying to forget about it, or maybe make people move on a bit at least. Not because I wouldn’t like it – I still love it! – but because there is so much other music and so many other tracks that I’ve made and there is life and music after "Siren Song", haha…I wish more people checked out all the audio on my website at FanuSamurai.com because that displays me a bit more as an artist, not just a dnb producer. Two of my possibly most technical DnB tracks, "Toshiro" and "Ninja Chicks", are coming out in the summer (hopefully in June) on Darkestral, and they’re something I still listen to and think I did an awesome job. There’s my old Photek influences right there and I’m proud of that. Especially "Toshiro" is a tribute to the nineties Rupert. As for the least favorite tracks: I don’t have any. My quality control is ultra-tight, so every track I finish is something that I’m happy with.

khal: Are there any DnB producers or tracks that people might be surprised to hear that you enjoy?

Fanu: I’ve never put myself in any mould production-wise, DJing-wise, or music-digging-wise, so there won’t be any surprises – if a tune is good, it is good, and I will like it!

khal: I know you have some album work on the horizon, as well as a new label you are working on. Can you tell us a little bit about how this came to be, and what you plan on doing with it in the future?

Fanu: There’s this downtempo album called Focused Mind coming out on Pauze Recordings – it’s from my FanuSamurai moniker, and it’s coming out in the summer (in July, according to the latest news from the label). We’ve been waiting to get that out for so long, but there’s been a massive load of samples to clear, which has delayed things, but the label’s done a great job, for which I’m grateful, and soon we’re ready to put it out. If you ask me, it’s pretty much the best thing I’ve done, and every second on that album is something I’m extremely happy with. As for the label: I’m starting a record label called Lightless Recordings. It’ll be mainly for music of my own at first: DnB and non-DnB (downtempo and anything fat in general), but there will be mutual remix works coming, for example. The label will be representing the DnB I’m trying to push: the mid-nineties aesthetics shaping the DnB of today. Expect a lot of good breaks and deep atmospheres.

khal: Is there any track out there that you wished you had produced?

Fanu: Maybe a million!

If we’re talking about DnB, here’s a few:

PhotekSeven Samurai
Kirsty Hawkshaw – Sci-clone (Droppin’ Science Remix)
Kemal – System Bleed
Hokusai – Black Rose
Source Direct – Secret Liaisons
Seba – Shapeshifter
Amit – Second Cut

Then, non-DnB wise, I’d say any track that FSOL, Underworld and DJ Shadow ever made.

khal: Many heads out there are in love with your string of mixes! I know that you have said that you are pretty new to the art of DJing, but do you have any plans on tightening up and taking your talents on tour?

Fanu: DJing isn’t all that new to me, actually: I’ve been playing for a few years, but it’s got more frequent recently. In the past year or so, I’ve played in Hungary, Poland, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Finland, and England, for example. I was in Cracow and Rybnik a few weeks ago and this week I’ll be playing in Utrecht. I’ve never done any tours but I’m glad to go anywhere.

khal: What would you say is your current top 10?


Naphta – My Bitter Sweetness
Seba – External Reality
Sileni – Cold Sweat
Dstruct – Merkaba
Seba & Paradox – It’s All Love
Stu Haxton – Miss Sunrise (Fracture & Neptune Remix)
FSOL – Papua New Guinea (Vector Burn Remix)
myself – Garmonbozia

Telefon Tel Aviv: At the Edge of the World You Will Still Float
Le Tigre: Deceptacon
Le Tigre: Hot Topic
FSOL: Papua New Guinea
Cyndi Lauper: Time After Time
FanuSamurai: Green Grass, Small Clouds
FanuSamurai: I.Z.A
Everything but the Girl: Future of the Future (Stay Gold)
Underworld: King of Snake

*Noodles with fried tuna, garlic, champignons, cucumber, chili and sweet ’n’ sour sauce. Serve with toast with some fresh tomato.
*Poland, Polish beer and Zubrowka vodka
*Cruising on my skateboard and feeling free
*Sauna and beer
*Realizing I’m progressing with music and evolving as an artist
*Being moderately drunk and realizing that everything rocks
*Green Chinese jasmine tea
*Getting to travel for DJ gigs and meeting all the cool people in the process

khal: Are there any producers that you would like to collaborate with?

Fanu: I’ve never been too wild about the idea of doing collabos, but I’d be honored to work with Amon Tobin, DJ Shadow, Underworld, or Tracey Thorne.

khal: What are some activities you like to get into when you are not working?

Fanu: Well, for example, I just recently started skateboarding again. I’ve been injured most of the time – haha!!! – but whenever I can, I’m on the board now. Also, the summer’s here soon, so hanging out with friends, with my lady, enjoying the sun and beer, that’s the shit!

khal: Do you have any final comments/shout outs/words of advice?

Fanu: Do it for the love.


Shouts to Fanu for this interview. Take a listen to his Focused Mind album, and be on the look out for his upcoming Lightless releases. To keep up with him, check out the following websites:

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Wu-Tang Christmas

First off, shouts to Spine Magazine for originally posting up this link. As you can see, the person who posted this obviously awesome clip of the RZA on the talk show after Letterman has no Christmas (Kwanzaa? what exactly does the Five Percent Nation celebrate?) spirit, as they chose to not allow this clip to be embedded! Well, a quick call on the dub phone to Rafi Kam, the one behind XXL's favorite Hip-Hop blog, Oh Word, and by 12:36AM, he had the proper YouTube goodness linked and ready for mass consumption. Massive respect to Rafi each and every.

In an even greater show of Christmas/Kwanzaa/5% Spirit, Oh Word, along with that master artist agent b, have hooked up the Wu-Peanuts diorama for you guys to print out and give to your beloved ODB fans. If you aren't up on Wu-Peanuts, you are missing out on something powerful. Get familiar.

So, bong bong, get'cha Christmas/Kwanzaa/5% Holiday on!

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Nas "Hip Hop Is Dead" [review]

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."
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as if Detroit was not enough...

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!"
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Help me blog for 1 year.

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.

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Disclosure, minus Demi Moore...

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.
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Weird phone call...

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...
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Tanya Morgan's giving it all away.

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!
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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.
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The Wire, Season 4: Thoughts

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...
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Santa Gets DOWN!

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.

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

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.
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Nappy & Pandemonium Jones invade Trenton!

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!
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PayPerPost: Bloggystyle

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

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.
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Ghostface Killah "More Fish" [review]

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.
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Mos Def "Tru3 Magic" [review]

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.
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Gwen Stefani "The Sweet Escape" [review]

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.
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