Summer Hip Hop, 2011.....v4, Hell: The Sequel

Hell: The Sequel, Bad Meets Evil, 6.28.2011

[audio:http://ra-nyc.com/boywithstick/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/1-Welcome-2-Hell.mp3|titles=1 Welcome 2 Hell_Bad Meets Evil_Welcome to Hell: The Sequel]

Eminem and Royce Da 5'9 are Bad Meets Evil. Their debut album as a hip hop super group dropped on the same day as my last Summer Hip Hop 2011 entry, Random Axe. This means I've had a month of high octane hip hop. If you have been alive for more than 2 years, you should know who Eminem is. I imagine our base is a little older than that though. On the other hand, I'm sure there are a lot of people unaware of who Royce Da 5'9 is.  When I started blogging, back in 2008, my first blog entry was on Royce Da 5'9, Jay Electronica and Oddisee. Since then, Royce Da 5'9 has been putting in serious work. He's done this with full length mixtapes, an insane amount of featured tracks, collaborative albums with Slaughterhouse (Joell Ortiz, Royce Da 5'9, Joe Budden and Crooked I) and now, Bad Meets Evil.

Eminem, ironically riding the high of his last album, Recovery made a somewhat gutsy move by reconciling his relationship w/ Royce Da 5'9 to release Hell: The Sequel. Apparently, they had a falling out at some point. Each mc pulls their weight to their path to make a really strong album. With Recovery, Eminem made history by being the first digital release to sell a million units.  Eminem has not only recovered fully from his hiatus, he has reestablished himself at the top tier of hip hop. For Royce Da 5'9, it has been a longer path of perseverence to break into the national scene. Writing for other artists and after being on an amazingly long list of featured tracks while putting out his own projects has led to this success. This type of success is encouraging and I can't imagine anyone could not be happy for Royce Da 5'9. As a side note, Royce Da 5'9 is set to release another album this summer called Success Is Certain. Apparently, he knew this was going to happen.......

The album is a strong display of lyrical ability and endurance laced with the sick tongue twisting humor you should expect from Eminem and Royce Da 59. Both mc's come with a semi-automatic, stuccatto delivery and they both have an amazing ability to change it up at the same time.

[audio:http://ra-nyc.com/boywithstick/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/6-A-kiss.mp3|titles=6 A kiss_Bad Meets Evil_Welcome to Hell: The Sequel]

I take the good with the bad from Hell: The Sequel. Both Eminem and Royce have amazing lyrical abilities, but they both also talk about women in ways that is not for everyone. Eminem has an abusive, psychotic approach to his verbal abuse and Royce's verbal abuse is more sexual and dominating by nature.  For me, this explains the difference between who's "Bad" and who is "Evil".  One approach to mc-ing is saying the most insane, outrageous thing to make people sit in awe of how twisted the mc's creativity is.  Kanye West is another mc that pulls this off now, but you have to understand and be able to get past this approach to fully appreciate the talent of these mc's.  It's a simple misunderstanding of one style of hip hop, but I understand how some people can't get past it.  I love hip hop like a dysfunctional relationship and while it's probably not healthy to live w/ it in your ear all day; your creative mind grows from observing skill and creativity at this level.

[audio:http://ra-nyc.com/boywithstick/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/10-Living-Proof-Bonus-Track.mp3|titles=10 Living Proof (Bonus Track)]

VIDEOS

LINKS

Bad Meets Evil homepage

Eminem.com

Royce Da 5-9.com

Royce Da 5-9 on Twitter

 

Ronin

 

 

 

Summer Hip Hop, 2011…….v3 Random Axe

Random Axe, Random Axe, 6.28.2011

Sean Price, Guilty Simpson and Black Milk are Random Axe.  Their debut album as a hip hop super group is self titled and it dropped at the end of last month.  I've written about all three of these artists individually and their team glorifies the potential of collaboration.  In all honesty, I would have picked up any album these three artists put out individually, but they made my life a lot easier and put the hip hop world on notice at the same time.  The reception of the album isn't reflective of the musical quality though.  In other words, I think people are sleeping on this album.

There was a small competition to tell which artist from Random Axe is the your favorite and why.  The best two entries won a signed copy of the album.  That's how I got my copy and this is what I said.

Sean Price is my favorite out of the band. He’s done it for so long and my favorite album of all time is Nocturnal where Tawl Sean has been tearing it down since 96. Each song is a classic. The word play and lyrical skills established him as one of the best, if not THE BEST mc in hip hop, mainstream or underground. He went on to get the respect he deserves by getting featured on every respectable mc’s album in hip hop. He went solo and has been consistently giving his skills while staying true to Duckdown. He reps Brooklyn to the fullest and I don’t think there’s anything else that needs to be said.

Every word of that is true.  The only thing I would add to that it's not a sign of disrespect to Guilty Simpson or Black Milk.  Guilty Simpson has a raw style that fits perfectly with the beats and two other mc's of Random Axe.  Black Milk's production and lyrical contribution make it a perfect trio.  There's no weak link and there's no point trying to find one.  Recently seeing Random Axe on Tony Touch's Toca Tuesdays exposed me to Black Milk's freestyling skills and I'm blown away.

They didn't waste one bar on the album.  I know some people aren't into the battle rap style, but if you are into it and you don't  have Random Axe, consider this your alarm clock.  "This isn't for the weak hearted", Guilty Simpson summarizes it perfectly.

[audio:http://ra-nyc.com/boywithstick/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/07.-Random-Axe-Random-Axe-Everybody-Nobody-Somebody.mp3|titles=07. Random Axe - Random Axe - Everybody Nobody Somebody]

There are several precedents that prove that if you combine Brooklyn and Midwest artists it can produce unique hip hop albums.  Random Axe carrying this torch further by adding the nightmare battle rap to the BK to Midwest connection.  Several previous BK/Midwest collabos have a conscious, home grown and a more refined sound.  Random Axe gathered some of the rawest artists out today to show what a hip hop super group can do.  As a side note, I don't think you can compare Random Axe to Slaughterhouse because the production of Random Axe is much more consistent and I think it creates a more identifiable style to the group.  Slaughterhouse definitely locks down the mic on an individual basis, but the team is really four strong mc's and the while the production is dark and raw, I think it lacks that consistency which solidifies it's identity/style of music/production.  I imagine it's more complicated to make 6 producers (from Slaughterhouse's 1st album) to create a consistent sound, than it is for Black Milk to do it by himself.  Also, Black Milk's style has made it's mark as an identifiable outlier that has his signature built into it due to his previous success.  This isn't intended to disrespect Slaughterhouse by any means.  I'm simply comparing two of the best hip hop super groups with a raw/dark style that have Brooklyn and Detroit representatives.

LINKS

Random Axe on Duckdown.com

Sean Price on Twitter

Black Milk on Twitter

Guilty Simpson on Twitter

Buy Random Axe album on Itunes

 

 

Ronin

Summer Hip Hop, 2011…….v2 The Great Debater

The Great Debater, Skyzoo, 6.7.2011

Like a blindside car accident, The Great Debater doesn't give you any warm up verse to get ready for what Skyzoo is bringing to the podium. Complicated Rhythm is the intro track and it gets your head bobbing right off the bat on this free masterpiece called The Great Debater. The existence of this album was a surprise to me. I really didn't hear anything about it until the day it dropped. Pleasantly surprised is an understatement.

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If you don't have Live From The Tape Deck, you are missing out an a recent classic. A must have, Live From the Tapedeck is an album where Skyzoo breaks through and really takes off with his unique delivery while teaming up with !llmind prodcution.  Before Live From the Tapedeck, Skyzoo teamed up with many of the same producers from The Great Debater to make his first album with Duckdown Records, The Salvation. I wrote about this album on my precious blog and I'll make sure to repost that entry because each album from Skyzoo is either a document of his growth as a lyricist or a document of his confidence/familiarity with the industry. If this is your introduction to Skyzoo, you are getting the opportunity to familiarize yourself with lyrics that will challenge you in a new ways.  To catch everything, you might have to rewind a couple times.  I know I have to.  If you aren't that into lyrics, you might think I'm batshit crazy. There aren't many mc's that can get away with talking about AP English (and still have any credibility after those words hit hip hop eardrums). The truth is that Skyzoo's style is unique and I really can't pinpoint a specific resemblance that he modeled his delivery after. That means it's unique, my opinion of course.

The Great Debater's album artwork is hilariously unexpected. A family portrait of The Huckstables aka the cast of The Cosby Show is not what I would expect for album art. It's also funny because I really can't say with certainty how it represents the album. If I had to guess, it would have to reference the character Bill Cosby plays on the Cosby Show. Bill Cosby, the main character, a doctor, has not been the stereotypical portrayal of black men in tv or the media could reference Skyzoo's position in hip hop. Without question, The Cosby Show made history by doing something different, dealing with real life issues that portray an ideal of what black families are in contrast to what our culture was comfortable with. Skyzoo does this with intelligent writing and by simply proving his skills are better than the majority of mc's in 2011. There's no doubting his talent and that puts him in among the best.  Coming back to this post a couple weeks after starting it and after watching the documentary below about the project, I can see that I wasn't too far off from where Skyzoo was heading with the album art.  The Cosby's represented that goal of life that Skyzoo is pursuing.

[audio:http://ra-nyc.com/boywithstick/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/03-Written-In-The-Drums.mp3|titles=03 Written In The Drums_The Great Debater_Skyzoo]

In my previous post about Elmatic, I commented that Elzhi and Skyzoo should team up for a collabo/supergroup album. The lyrical ability combined with the intelligent delivery they both naturally have could easily make for a great album. There aren't too many times that I've made that type of suggestion, but in the Summer of 2011, collaborative albums have already proven their potential. The whole Detroit/Brooklyn combination makes for a great mixture of styles that could be worth looking into further.  Live From the Tapedeck being a collaborative project with !illmind, it shows that collabo albums can really create something unique.  There will be more of this in the next week or so, fyi.

Skyzoo's affilliation with JAMLA can't be overlooked and 9th Wonder's work with Duckdown is not breaking news. He's released collabo albums with Skyzoo, Buckshot and he's worked with just about everyone on the label.  The Great Debater was a collabo project with JAMLA, 9th Wonder's record label.  The producers for the album are 9th Wonder, !llmind, Oh No, Eric G., Swiff D, E. Jones, David Axelrod, C-Sick, 14Kt, Best Kept Secret and Fatin.  If you are feeling any of the tracks, make sure to download the album below in the links.

LINKS

Skyzoo on Twitter

Skyzoo on Facebook

Skyzoo on Duckdown.com

Download The Great Debater for free here

 

Ronin

Upcoming Photo Shoot and More.....

Photo Shoot and Promo Video Spring is coming around the corner and it's time to get things moving.  In the next couple weeks, you'll be able to see images from the next RA-NYC photo shoot which is a collaborative project between Ronin from RA-NYC and JD Delgado, a fellow contributor at www.boywithstick.com.  Within the next month, you'll be able to see RA-NYC's new promo video in collaboration with Mike "Boogs" D'Angelo from Boogie Down Films.

Artwork

I really utilize Facebook to expose people to my artwork.  Before, I had two pages, one for my artwork and the other for RA-NYC.  To simplify, I moved everything to the RA-NYC Facebook page and the same goes for RA-NYC.com.  From now on, all of my artwork will be posted here at ra-nyc.com.

Custom Decks

At Sneaker Pimps, I met the owner of The Pizza Shop in Petersburg, VA and I agreed to make a custom deck for his shop.  The deck has generated some interest and it fits perfectly into RA-NYC's brand.  So, over spring and summer 2011, I will be creating one of a kind custom decks for sale right here on RA-NYC.com.  Stay tuned!

 

Ronin