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Ghetto Cowboy by Bone Thugs-n-Harmony

"I'll be a rootin' tootin' shootin' damn fool."

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Every so often I become obsessed with Bone Thugs. I wasn’t a big fan of ‘em back in the day, even though I had some friends that were, but after a few decades they finally hooked me. My first favorite of theirs is without a doubt Ghetto Cowboy, even though it’s technically by Mo Thugs, which is comprised of Krayzie Bone & Layzie Bone of Bone Thugs. The song tells a story of a few gun slingers back in the Wild West with a nice ghetto twist. It’s not only a great story, but it’s got a calm & coolheaded composition… not to mention it gives a shout out to good ol’ Tucson, Az… my college town (brings me back :)). It’s also worth mentioning the song features Layzie Bone’s wife, Felecia, on backup vocals. Ghetto Cowboy may just be my top pick in the Bone Thugs collection, but the group has many other chill tunes, so make sure to look out for ‘em on here…

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Crewed Up by Atmosphere

w/ Stage One, St. Paul Slim, Muja Messiah, Yz, Brother Ali, Toki Wright

I consider Atmosphere one of the best hip-hop groups of all time. Some may argue differently, but both Slug (MC) & Ant (DJ & producer) have created a style that’s helped inspire a new era of hip-hop. Not just that, the two set Twin Cities on the “hip-hop map” (and I will forever be greatful).

In ’95, the two decided to create their own independent label, Rhymesayers Entertainment, with the help of Brent Sayers, Musab S’ad Ali and Derek Turner. Rhymesayers house some of the premiere names in underground hip-hop, and is no doubt becoming one of the best independent labels.

Over their 16 year reign, Atmosphere has created six LP’s with numerous quality hits, and a whole lot of side projects, as well. This is what sets Atmosphere apart from many others, they are consistent in quality, coming out with fresh, innovative music over and over… and over again. For their first feature, I decided to go with Crewed Up because (1) it’s not that well-known, and (2) it features some of Rhymesayer’s best acts.

Crewed Up begins with Stage One’s naturally smooth & melodic voice. He, like most artists one here, seem to produce a naturally flowing wit. Next up, St. Paul Slim takes over with one of the best flows on the track with a humorous & sarcastic rhyme. The next few MC’s (Muja Messiah, YZ, Brother Ali & Tok Wright) do a great job of keeping with the beat, and yet add their own distinct flavor.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of YZ & Blueprint (mentioned later), but compare ‘em to today’s mainstream, and they aren’t half bad. I saw Toki Wright & Brother Ali back at college in good ol’ Tucson. I thought Wright did a fine job opening for Ali (from then on I was a fan), but Ali’s performance was mediocre at best, even though I’ve got a lot of respect for his work over the years.

Second to last, Blueright gives a decent performance, but really nothing to write home about. His name isn’t mentioned above because I ran out of room, :/ so i’ll give him a link to redeem myself. :) Finally, Slug wraps (or raps) it up in a way in which is all his own – the man can weave his rhymes with ease (or presumably so). Overall, this may not be on Atmosphere’s “best of” compilation, but it does showcase some of what the Rhymsayers crew have to offer.

Also, mad respect for Ant in providing another fine-tune.

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All Too Common by Solillaquists of Sound

"She can't get mad, so she acts out of silence."

The beat is the most attractive part to this song. DiViNCi is a talented producer & beat maker… a lot of good beats have been comin’ from Florida, lately (e.g. Mayday). Swamburger (MC) flows well with DiViNCi, but I’m still not sure how I feel about Alexandrah. She’s got a beautiful voice, there’s no doubt, but I am not the biggest fan in how she uses it – I guess I’m just not feelin’ her intro. Anyways, Swamburger drops in nicely at 1:54, and goes on for about a minute. It’s tough to touch on his lyrics, usually they’re either good or not, and his definitely weren’t bad. After that, Alexandrah cuts back in at around 3:50, and lays a a funk-rhythmic sound down, but the chorus accompanying her seems out of place, though it did take me a while to notice this. Overall, this is a good great listen based on just the beat… not to mention the rhymes. Hopefully, i’ll be hearing more of Solillaquists of Sound… as tedious as their name is to type.

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Gift of Gab by Mac Dre (Originally Gift 2 Gab)

Who, who could it be? That'z right Mac Dre, baby.

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Going from Tears for Fears to Mac Dre seems a little odd, but both have talents… as different as they may be.

Mac Dre is a local rapper from Oakland, best known for introducing the hyphy movement (along with Keak Da Sneak), and which is now being spread by E-40. Dre was shot and killed in Kansas City, Missouri in November of 2004. Some believe he had potential to be one of the greatest MC’s of all time, some even say as great as 2Pac, which isn’t far off from my opinion. He has countless hits that were witty and controversial. He was no angel, and never pretended to be. Dre was charged with conspiracy to commit bank robbery in the early 90’s. He constantly rhymed about his struggles with the police and other problems with the law… let’s just say this one’s not for the kids. Though, i’ll probably show mine… Gift of Gab being one of ‘em. The song shows Dre at his finest. He started the hyphy movement with classics like this… wish he had the chance to perfect it (E-40 doesn’t do Dre justice).

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Head Over Heals by Tears for Fears

Know Good Classics - #3 Rock

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I know what you’re thinking… what pop bullshit is up on here Well, it is pop, but it isn’t shit. During my early years (when I pimped the pajama pants) all I listened to was Tears for Fears, along with Earth, Wind & Fire, mixed in with a whole lot of Beatles (my father’s influence). I’ve always loved Roland Orabal’s voice, but I do understand why some may not; it’s a stereotypical 80’s pop voice (Shout), which may irritate and possibly annoy some. But, besides their cheesy 80’s “act”, the group has released numerous classic songs, including Everybody Wants to Rule the World, Sowing the Seeds of Love, and my current favorite, Head Over Heels (there’s also Mad World, but I like the Donnie Darko version better). I listen to this one on repeat for a couple key parts throughout the song (one mentioned below), and I must say, Roland Orzabal & Curt Smith know how to hit the right chords at the right time. Maybe if they were a decade back, they wouldn’t have suffered the 80’s faux pas. I mean common, look at this album cover… what the fuck were they thinking :) (album cover is in the full article)

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Beat it Loose by Mel Gibson and the Pants

These guys really are one of a kind.

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Mel Gibson and the Pants is that strange child no one gets at first, but eventually realizes their genius(ness)…

I reviewed MGatP’s album (w/ Guitar) about two months back, but didn’t give Beat it Loose (a song on the album) much thought because I wasn’t quite sure what I felt about it, yet. Well, a good two months later and I finally have a solid opinion. Beat it Loose is becoming one of my favorite songs by the group/band. At first, I was a little skeptical about the beat, like I am with a lot of other MGatP songs, but it grew on me… like a lot of other MGatP songs. The song features Doomtree‘s Cecil Otter & Harold Sanders Jr. (MC for MGatP) on the mic. The two work well together, and do a phenomenal job of flowing off each other and the beat (which I can’t imagine is easy). This may not be something you enjoy at first, but give it time… trust me, it’ll grow on you… or at least one of the songs on this album will.

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Trinity by Common Market

"Mind, body and soul."

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RA Scion is best described as having a conscious style of rap: thought provoking and introspective. Put them in with Sabzi’s original beats, and what do you get… something that sizzles just below premium cut. As much as I respect the sound Common Market puts out, I can’t put aside that Blue Scholars puts it out better. RA Scion has some praiseworthy lyrics, but Geologic (from Blue Scholars) has a style that is among hip-hop’s best. But that aside, Common Market can put up some chill shiiit, especially from their first album. My favorite track is, of course, Trinity. So give it a listen, and tell me what you think… or i’ll stop posting this shit for you!… maybe. ;)

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He Said, She Said… by Andre Nickatina

How'd the lies get started?

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I love Hip-Hop for its many talented rap artists, especially when those rappers feature backup R&B vocals. He Said, She Said is a perfect example of this (as well as The Seed (2.0) by The Roots). While Andre Nickatina lays down his bass rhymes, Mike Marshall sings some soulful backup. I researched Mike Marshall for this article, and came across his MySpace, which features a video I included on the full article of this post. Check this shit out, it’s got some classic lyrics on a well-tuned beat.

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Full Range Earmuff by Mix Master Mike

3 a.m. at the club.

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Full Range Earmuff is more upbeat and danceable than I usually post, but the beat is too good to pass up. The beat is on and is perfect for a club mix, but there’s one problem… it switches up in the middle, unsuccessfully. Don’t get me wrong, switchin’ up the beat halfway through can pull interest to the beat (e.g. DJ FraneII), but Mix Master Mike just doesn’t pull it off. I’ve included it in its entirety, so tell me what ya think…

In case you didn’t know, Mix Master Mike is most notable for his involvement in the Beastie Boys ever since the late 90’s.

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