kendrick lamar

Revive the Underground Railroad

Revive the Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses established in the United States, and used by African-American slaves to escape into freedom. It was a way to communicate without being detected. Hip-hop has carried on this tradition via using symbolism and subliminals in rhyme.

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4 Reasons Why Melle Mel Is Dead Wrong

Hip hop is a young man's sport, if anyone should know that it should be Mel, Moe Dee and Caz. Moe Dee made his name by pulling the exact same card on Busy Bee, in one of the cultures first legendary battle. While Mel was on the wrong side when a then unknown KRS One challenged him in the mid 80s. It's simply the evolution of the art form, while they may need to know who these 3 legends are, the average 20 something year old could care less. That's not anyone's fault per se, so no one should be pointing fingers.

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The GREATEST Rapper Of All Time Has Not Reached His Prime.

The GREATEST Rapper Of All Time Has Not Reached His Prime.

 

Throughout my years as a hip hop junkie the NEVER ending debate of who was/is the BEST MC has been the topic of discussion. Wheather it was me and Lil Rob (RIP) arguing who’s better between Mobb Deep or 2Pac, the Grandmaster Caz vs. Melle Mel debates of the early 80s, the Rakim or Kane of the late 80s, or who can forget LL and Kool Moe Dee. Some of these fan rivalries resulted in verbal sparring, but more times than not the battle has been soley faught by the followers of a rapper and not the actual artist themselves. 

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To Pimp A Butterfly: Album Review

To Pimp A Butterfly: Album Review

This is healing music. We’ve been convinced that we can ONLY be beautiful as long as we abandoned our physical and ancestral traits. This album is the celebration of EVERYthing black. This is the African drum in its purest form.

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U KNOW We Rising to TO THE TOP!

LITERALLY, 10 seconds in to Jay Rock & Kendrick Lamar's To the Top, I heard White Boy's "U Know" featuring Kanye West

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From Spoken Word to Hip-Hop: The Watts Prophets & Kendrick Lamar

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Seemingly born out of the 1965 Watts riots, The Watts Prophets used the art form of spoken word to be the voice that detailed the harsh realities of a time before them, their present, and the perils of a future if the "dead" did not "wake up"! But they also spoke of love and romance, and everyday life in their surroundings. Today's Kendrick Lamar of Compton introduced a fresh voice, detailing his life growing up in the inner city of his west coast hometown. Hip-Hop used to be primarily a voice, a way to tell the truth about the world we live in. This why Mr. Lamar has & continues to maintain the respect and admiration of Hip-Hop's pioneers. Enjoy below the some of the West Coast's finest spoken word and hip hop:

The Watts Prophets - I Remember Watts

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OiH7FlS_p3g

Kendrick Lamar - M.A.A.D. City (Featuring MC Eiht)

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10yrPDf92hY

'I Remember Watts' vs. 'M.A.A.D. City'

When you hear The Watts Poets say "To light up Los Angeles, it only took one [watt]. I remember Watts...a place where winos and have-nots took their treasured possessions to pawn shops.." are you able to draw any parallels when Kendrick Lamar growls "..Seem like the whole city go against me, every time I'm in the streets I hear YAWK! YAWK! YAWK! YAWK!" ?

Quincy Jones & The Watts Prophets - Beautiful Black Girl

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVINVxJCztk

No Make Up - Kendrick Lamar

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQtWY-ZxFTw

'Beautiful Black Girl' vs. 'No Make Up'

"Hey Beautiful African Girl, I got something I wanna say to you...Girl, I love you. I love you Beautiful Black Girl & I need you so bad" Whew! Color me inspired. This romantic spoken word piece by The Watts Poets was set to music, and blessed by the legendary Quincy Jones. KDot futhers the sentiment when he shares "The roses on your face light up the sky. Those lips are colorful all the time. Do you mind...no make up today? Her prettiness, the wittiness of colors on her skin tone...

As you can see, The Watts Prophets' influence continues on today! Had you heard of them prior to reading this post? Share your thoughts below in the comments.

Hip Hop Smithsonian, EzineArticles Basic Author
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Author Maco Faniel Sets the (Houston hip-hop) Record Straight!

Hip Hop Scriptures recently caught up with Maco Faniel, author of Hip-Hop in Houston: The Origin & The Legacy. Enjoy our interview below!

HHS: How did you balance writing for different audiences?

MF: This book was originally my Master's thesis, so it was highly academic with regards to language. I changed some of the language for the book to make it more accessible. I strongly believe that God has positioned me to merge the street and academia. While I consider all of my work to be scholarly, I want my momma to be able to read it (laughs); and people from various walks of life. 

HHS: How did you stay motivated & inspired?

MF: I feel as though I already know what death looks like, having experienced depression for a number of years, so I made a decision to pursue life at all costs. I really believe in taking opportunities, and I understand that it takes discipline and commitment to achieve success. So far, I have been able to sell 1,100 copies of my book in just 4 months!

HHS: How have folks back in Houston received your work?

MF: The local hip-hop community has given positive feedback. They're excited about it, and for finally being recognized for their contributions. My whole music collection while growing up was inundated with Houston hip-hop and other regional styles.  This book is important for many reasons - While recently viewing the AMA's we all basically witnessed cultural appropriation - Black style was used as a backdrop. Future generations could grow up thinking that Macklemore or Justin Bieber were the originators.

HHS: Excerpt from the book: His most poignant claim was that hip-hop
must be understood in the appropriate context, else it falls victim to
misunderstandings and lies.
(summary of Jay-Z’s argument from Decoded: Jay-Z in Conversation with Cornel West). Can you expound upon this?

MF: Let's take N.W.A.'s 'F**k the Police' for example. It's easy to dismiss it as simply hateful rhetoric against the police. However, the appropriate context is police brutality; driving while black; taking a kid out of a Crips set and dropping him off in a known Blood set. Some people dismiss hip-hop as having no culture, or as material put out by degenerates. People tend to think this can't be real life that they're rapping about. It's all about culture. In Houston, for example, we have a car culture. When you turn 16, you get a car. Instead of a radio Raheem, we draw attention to ourselves by our cars. Ultimately, anything out of context is a lie.

HHS: Which current hip-hop artists have your ear?

MF: It's funny...I don't actually listen to hip-hop on the radio when I'm in the car driving. I listen to the R&B station. But when at home, I listen to J. Cole - I think he had best album out this year. I also listen to Kanye West, Jay Z, Scarface, Drake and A$AP Rocky. I grew up in a different time, so I can't identify with a lot of the new stuff (Trinidad James for example). Sometimes while listening, I'm thinking, "Do I have to be on molly to get this?"

HHS: Excerpt from book: We came back in an hour, and I had like eight bars. He said
his rap, and everybody started laughing, but when I said my rap, they started
raising their eyebrows. They seemed impressed. So when I saw that…I
started [thinking], “Maybe I got something right here!” That’s how it all
started—turning that lil’ eight bars into a verse and eventually into a song (Willie D)
 Does everyone think they can rap nowadays?

MF:  Everyone thinks they can rap. However, they (eventually) come to realize that they can't. Hip-hop never started as a career move for most successful artists. Today, for the most part, as in the past people do it for FUN. A lot of people believe in the possibility of overnight success because of things like YouTube, and other online vehicles. They lack hustle - you have to build your craft. Kendrick (Lamar) is a "new" artist, but he put in years of work behind that. To quote Slim Thug's 'Already Platinum' referred to the fact that he was already (financially) successful from selling music out of the trunk of his car. Malcolm Gladwell got it right when he cautions that you have to put in at least 10,000 hours to reach some modicum of success.

HHS: As I read the book, I noticed what seemed an almost unspoken alliance between the South & the West Coast. Is this accurate? 

MF:  Yes, to an extent there was, and still is. There's definitely a shared experience of being marginalized within the music industry by radio stations and record companies for decades. And there are similar spatial realities for both Houston and L.A. and Comptom. Everything is spread out, we have to have cars, many Texas people migrated to Cali.

HHS: You're currently working towards a PhD at Rutgers. Talk a bit about your previous experience as a teacher, and how you infused hip-hop.

MF: As a professor, I use music all the time to teach. Take history, for example. I will break down the lesson the the neighborhood level (e.g., Sunnyside vs. 3rd ward). I use the music to help students understand context - how we define ourselves; how we define 'other'. As a class, we break down how a song discusses this. I'm known to play music in the classroom while students are reading. I freestyle a lot during lectures to make it a comfortable environment. We look at popular imagery. I have even used some of the more popular Kevin Hart memes. I especially enjoyed the Ike Turner one (laughs). It's all about taking something familiar to make them pay attention to the content.

HHS: How will obtaining a doctorate ultimately help you, and what are your plans for the near future?

MF: Working towards my PhD allows me to obtain additional skills and knowledge. It enhances my ability to critique, to be an analytical thinker and provides me with both credentials and legitimacy. I spent 8 years working in the corporate and non-profit sectors, while there I was always distracted by big ideas and the troubles of the world. I not only wanted to help eliminate these troubles, but I also wanted to undertand them more. So, graduate school was the next step for me. Then  I read a lot of self-help and business books; I was studying success. So, beyond a career, and a stream of income. I want my work to be about social justice. I want my work to help liberate people.  I want to help people lead more fulfilling lives.

HHS: What do you think of Kanye West, and his current platform?

MF: I defend him in his critique of our capitalistic economic and political system. He, like many socially conscious persons, grapples with the need to eat, success, and speaking truth to power.  His latest “rants” puts a lens on who controls the means of production, and how they go about doing it. Unfortunately, we live in a society that socializes us in regards to what vocations we should pursue, and often suggests that we should only do one thing in this life. When one tries to step outside of that socialization, we often find that we are questioned by the gatekeepers of industry and also questioned by society at large. Although I don't agree with everything Kanye says or his method of delivery for that matter, the media discourse about him depicts him as a crazy and angry black man. When some one is labeled crazy, it is easy for us to dismiss the truth of what that person says—to filter through the distractions and hear the point that Kanye is trying to make.

HHS: Thank you so much again for agreeing to do this interview. We really appreciate it! I can't wait to put this book in the mail to Houston and send my Dad his copy :)

To order your copy of the book, please visit: http://www.macofaniel.com/hip-hop-in-houston/


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Did Jay-Z and Kanye leave J. Cole and Big Sean in the Cold?

MCHG dropped within weeks of J. Cole’s Born Sinner, which has been lauded as classic and skillfully eluded the sophomore slump. Yet, there were no Jay features. However, the ‘Let Nas Down’ remix featured none other than The Don himself. The Cole/Nas collabo was nothing short of epic, but we have all collectively moved on. Cole will soon go on tour with Wale but the internet and general public is buzzing (and will be for quite some time) about the Yeezus tour featuring none other than Mr. Kendrick Lamar. Not even a week ago we were gushing about the fact that Hov is featured on NWTS Pound Cake outro; which begs the question – what about J. Cole? Or Big Sean for that matter?

 We might not belabor the point was it not for the fact that both of these artists JUST dropped their sophomore efforts, and in what many considered a big way. I mean it’s almost laughable to call your album 'Hall of Fame' and not even be tapped to go on tour with your Hall of Fame worthy mentor / rap icon / self-acclaimed g-o-d Kanye West.

Jay-Z introduced J. Cole to the world on Blueprint III and as of late, appears to be giving him the cold shoulder. One could argue that Jay was just obliging Drake’s request, but he actually took it a step further and implied that he was passing him the torch – REALLY?

And how serious can we take Kanye’s co-sign to Big Sean’s potential when you Jennifer Aniston’ed your protégé for hip hop’s current hottie from Compton?

It just goes to show the rap game can be Heartless, make you lose Control just when you thought you were headed for the Hall of Fame or thought it was a Cole World after all.

 

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