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The Easy Truth @skyzoo @apollobrown #hiphop #2016

The Easy Truth

Skyzoo and Apollo Brown

2016

As if he hasn't been one of the most prolific and consistent artists out of NYC in the past decade, Skyzoo teamed up with Apollo Brown from Detroit for this dope new project called The Easy Truth.

The vibe of the project overall is smooth and chill, but there definitely a few bangers mixed throughout the project.  It fits more along the lines of a classic 90's style album than the new normal of a collection of singles.  Probably because both Apollo Brown and Skyzoo are laser sharp artists that have vision.  One track leads to the next seamlessly and the consistently creative rhythms from Skyzoo jumps on and off the RPM's perfectly.

Skyzoo represents Brooklyn always and the Detroit soul works as perfectly as other collaborations like Slaughterhouse and Random Axe (RIP Sean Price).  Don't let lazy people convince you that hip hop is dead because these talented people keep it alive.

Ronin

Noteworthy Classic v15 Let's Get Free by Dead Prez #hiphop #deadprez

For some crazy reason, I immediately started listening to this classic project after the election results became clearer.  Maybe it was the fact that it reminds me of how the system can easily be hijacked by a tyrant backed by sinister politicians or maybe it was the fact that uninformed racist ideology was the deciding factor in the election.  Or maybe it was the "coincidence" that Saturday Night Live featured Dave Chappelle and A Tribe Called Quest, which reminded me of how influential hip hop can be.

Dead Prez championed the street scholar, self educated, comfortably defiant, politically rebellious group from Florida (launched in Brooklyn) that shared their crystal clear vision on Let's Get Free.  True to lyrical thesis of Hip Hop, the ideas on this project are almost more poignant on the tracks that didn't reach the level of celebration as the cultural phenomenon Hip Hop did.  Check out the interview above and see how one project can focus on reality, reaching people, making music that reflects their lives, expresses anger, frustration, social issues, hustle, beauty and spirituality.

The lessons on this project are a big reason that hip hop was the educational balance I needed during college and grad school.  Eating healthy, self defense, seldom told history of black people, pride, beauty, spirituality, creativity and revolution are so critical for young people today and that's the reason that this project is important for everyone to hear.  If you don't have it or have only listened to Hip Hop and Mind Sex, make your way through the rest of the project.  For about 20 years, popular music has distracted people from perspectives that can open up their consciousness to current and historic issues.  This music can benefit people's lives and all I can do is thank artists like Dead Prez for their contributions to my life.

Ronin

Whole Food @denmarkvessey @gensudean #hiphop #np

Whole Food.jpg

Whole Food

Denmark Vessey and Gensu Dean

2016

This is not the first project of Vessey's that's an instant classic, but if you haven't heard of Denmark Vessey before and this is your intro, enjoy!  Whole Food is a dope collaboration project between Vessey on the mic and Gensu Dean on production.

Denmark Vessey and his long time collaborator Quelle Chris have become the creative vanguard of hip hop through their joint venture, Crown Nation.  They've put together an impressive list of projects you should definitely check out.  On this project, Vessey doesn't focus on his battle with religion as much as other projects, but Denmark Vessey is one of the more creative artists balanced with a raw talent and a strong dose of not giving a shit (which I really appreciate).

Apparently Vessey is from Chicago, but I appreciate that he isn't self-categorized.  I hear influences from hip hop styles from all over the country and his lyrics aren't dominated by nostalgia for his city.  His lyrics are smart, clever, deep, funny, creative and both light hearted and deep.  He effortlessly makes jokes like, "I have existential questions.  Where the hoes at?" that probably fly over the average hip hop listener.  Gensu Dean mixes up the production with a range of boombap and newer sounds mixed with head nodding soul samples that assemble a dope track for Vessey to flex his lyrical abilities.  There's only one track with featured mcs so you get a strong sense of what Denmark Vessey is about as an artist.  There are deep ties to Mello Music Group, which has their hands in so many projects that I find my way to one way or another.

Check it out!

Ronin

 

Culture v. Power

Understand this......
There is no reason for you to prove yourself to anybody, except yourself.  
When the world talks about culture; understand this.....
It is not talking about culture.
It is talking about power.
The difference between the African cultures which have vanished,
and the European cultures which are decaying,
is that Europe had the power.
And that is the only difference.
It's not that Europe was civilized and Africans were not.
That's a lie
Do you understand that?
James Baldwin

The Fire Next Time is a hip hop compilation project focusing on police brutality through the eyes of hip hop artists and producers.  The words of James Baldwin are spread across the project giving historic context to racism in America from a leader that does not receive the credit he deserves.

stream The Fire Next Time on Soundcloud
download (for free) The Fire Next Time on BandCamp


Ronin