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Uncommon Valor by Jedi Mind Tricks

"Call me Thorburn, John H. Staff Sergeant, Marksman."

Banner for Jedi Mind Tricks's Uncommon Valor: A Vietnam Story

“Uncommon Valor” is an epic tale of two soldiers in the Vietnam War portrayed by Vinnie Paz & R.A. the Rugged Man. The story starts off with Vinnie Paz telling of a U.S. soldier, which after seeing the corruption of war, is questioning the motives of his government. The tale moves on to a more memorable and fact based account by R.A. the Rugged Man, telling of his own father, Staff Sgt. John A. Thorburn, a highly decorated war hero. R.A. speaks of his father’s near death experience in Cambodia during Operation Rolling Thunder, and his exposure to Agent Orange, which leads to severe physical & mental disabilities in two of his children, one eventually passing away.

Personally, this is one of the most vividly & well spoken stories I’ve come across in hip hop. It talks about the trials of war in such an honest & unaltered way, yet this isn’t the most appealing part. What really blew me away was how each MC displayed such an articulate way with words, especially R.A. His account of his father’s tragic story, vocalized in such a phonetically rhythmic way (or however you’d put it), is another example why the East Coast is known for their conscious rap. I really need to shift my focus on the East Coast for a while, I have not delved far enough in this fine rap region.

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Balance by Crown City Rockers

"I float with the elation of sunshine and rain."

Banner of Crown City Rockers

Crown City Rockers put on a smooth jazz sound with flows from Rasshan Ahmad. “Balance” takes on a nice laid back vibe with Ahmad’s freewheelin’ flows, which’s meant more for phonetical flavor than anything of a serious matter – it’s nice to get away from the political rap, once in a while. Crown City requires less thinkin’ and more feelin’, which is always good for a spring stroll around the city, unless you’re living in Minnesota where the forecast is rain… fuck it, I’m feelin’ a rain dance comin’ on anyway. Also noteworthy, the feature of this track, Scarub’s ever so soothing sound.

Hit me up with some feedback, I’ve got a lot more Bay Area relaxers if y’all feel it.

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Us and Them by Easy Star All-Stars

"And after all, were only ordinary men."

Banner of Easy Star All-Stars

I’ve been a long time fan of Pink Floyd, or I should say my father has, so naturally they grew on me. About three or four years ago I found out that some reggae band had done a cover of Dark Side of the Moon, so I had to check it out. I was a little skeptical of a cover to one of the greatest albums of all time (as one should be), but after hearing the first track, I knew I would be listening to it for a long time. Easy Star All-Stars have undoubtedly pulled off one of the best cover ever recorded. I may not be the biggest fan of reggae (haven’t delved too far into it, yet), but this album blows me away every time I listen to it.

I decided to feature “Us and Them”, because it’s my favorite song on both albums. It’s a touching and relaxing trip that relies more on its meaning than a tripped out tune. Give it a listen and tell me how well you think they covered it. I’ll also include the original for y’all to do a comparison, if you feel so inclined to do so. Definitely check out their cover of “Money”, it’s another one they pulled off superbly.

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Classic by Hieroglyphics

Hieroglyphics is monolithic.

Banner of Hieroglyphics Basketball Team

I’m gonna keep this short ’cause I’m feelin’ lazy (least I’m still posting). If you don’t know about Hiero, they created some of the best hip-hop in the late 90′s, early 00′s, and were among the best in the underground scene at the time.

I chose “Classic” because I already featured a song (“You Never Know“) from their first album, 3rd Eye Vision, and I’d say it’s one of their most notable songs. It’s got a classic beat, literally, which I’m guessing is why they named it “Classic” (I connect the dots just for you). As always, check it & give back some love (comment).

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The Gaudy Side of Town by GAYNGS

More marvelous Minneapolis music.

Banner of some of the GAYNGS members

I was prett-ay, prett-ay excited about featuring GAYNGS. Not only does the group reside in good ol’ Minnesota, but a one of a kind talent is heading it up, Ryan Olson. Ryan is one of the key members of Mel Gibson and the Pants. If you don’t know who they are, don’t worry, not many/enough people do; however, the group has some of the most talented sons of bitches I’ve ever come across.

But let’s get back to GAYNGS… I had a little trouble deciding what genre to classify the group (it’s not a strong point of mine), but I thought R&B fit best. You could also throw in electro, pop, rock and whatever else, but genres are all tending to mash up these days anyway. From the first song on the album, “The Gaudy Side of Town”, I was hooked. The production on it is phenomenal, and some of the vocals took my breath away, literally (well, not literally, but I wanted to emphasis the point). The only part of the song I didn’t really care for was the vocals @ around two minutes. I don’t exactly know who it is (not a lot of information out there on the album), but I recognize his voice in other songs and he sounded a lot better. Here it sounds like the back of his throat is closed off. Oh well, it hardly takes away from the song, I just needed to put a little criticism in there.

The full album will be released on May 11. GAYNGS will be debuting it at First Avenue & 7th Street Entry on May 14. It’ll be a prom theme based on the last song of the album, “The Last Prom on Earth”. Tickets will be $15 per person, so if you’d like to go… and don’t have a date… I wouldn’t mind a night out on the town ;). You can pre-order at Ticketmaster or at the door. Make sure to check back in, i’ll definitely be featuring more of this fine group.

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A Stoner’s Guide on Beats to Blaze to .1st Edition.

featuring the Top 10 Hip-Hop Songs to Blaze to

Banner of the Sickest Marijuana Plant Ever

I decided for this very special occasion that I’d feature some of my favorite beats to blaze to. First I’ll start out with my “Top 10 Hip-Hop Songs to Blaze to” and then I’ll move on to a few good albums.

Now, the original list featured over 40 songs and included genres other than hip hop, but I decided to cut it down to a top ten hip-hop list for now. If y’all like it then i’ll post some other genres to blaze to. I also included a few of the best albums to blaze to, which are a must see.

So sit back, relax and enjoy.

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Chains by R.A. the Rugged Man

"Keep on knowin' what you know; end up in chains."

Banner of R.A. the Rugged Man

I realized a few days back that I didn’t have much East Coast hip-hop on here, so I thought I should contribute something. R.A. the Rugged Man was the first thing that came to mind, he caught my attention when I started listening to Jedi Mind, Apathy, Celph Titled and all the other locally known East Coast underground acts. I was introduced to him by one of Jedi Mind Tricks’s songs, “Uncommon Valor”, where he spits faster than an M-16 (it’s about the Vietnam war). R.A. is one of the fastest flow-ers (not flowers) coming from N.Y. with some phonetically fresh phrasing to back it up. “Chains” is a good example, but probably not the best (i’ll post that soon enough). Check it out and tell me if you’re just as impressed…

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Hot Like Sauce by Pretty Lights

"Ask around the streets, man, I'm certified."

Banner 2 for Filling Up the City Skies

This is the second feature in a three part series, I just decided now that it would be a three parter (here’s the first part). The three parter basically covers my favorites of Pretty Lights. I discovered the group just a couple weeks ago and am already obsessed. This one, apposed to my first post, is a lot more worthy to rock out to, and man does it rock! Derek Vincent Smith is one hell of a DJ – he mixes that shit out of a bunch of samples and comes up with some amazing music. I believe “Hot Like Sauce” has Big Boi of OutKast mixed in there (at around 3:14), but I could be mistaken (I often am). This shit is bumpin, and is definitely rock out worthy while you “go hyphy in this bitch”.

Also, follow us on Twitter, so you’ll know when the next Pretty Lights feature will be! Oh, and as always, tell me what ya think…

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The Beautiful by Abyssinian Creole

"Beauty is your true nature."

Banner of Gabriel Teodros and Khingz

First, I gotta say a little on AbCreole before I get to the featured song. Back in the early days of this site, I featured an album by AbCreole, Sexy Beast. It is, without a doubt, one of my favorite hip-hop albums of all time. I wanted to get their music out, again, because I feel most of you probably haven’t searched that far back on the site, and they are definitely worth mentioning, again… and again. Unfortunately, they haven’t created anything new since, other than collaborating on some solo projects, so I decided to put a favorite of mine from Sexy Beast. If you like this one then check out their others in my original post on Sexy Beast. And so with that I present you the feature, “The Beautiful” by Abyssinian Creole…

The reason I chose “The Beautiful” is because of the lyrics (if I wanted to go for the beat, it would’ve been “Unconfined”). Although, every track on Sexy Beast has its own deep meaning, this one especially rings true for me. The two MC’s, Teodros & Khingz, spit such inspiring lyrics that seem to flow more fluid than syrup on waffles (they’re the lyricists, not me). Most of their music, including this one, deals with their African roots, but like I said in the original post – their music may not directly relate to everyone, but it can be appreciated by anyone.

Another funny note about my post on Sexy Beast – Khingz from Abyssinian Creole commented on the article, pointing out my mistake in thinking they were under the Mass Line Media label. Let’s just hope my research skills have improved since then…

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Kiara by Bonobo

BUMP this beat by Bonobo!

Banner for Black Sands by Bonobo

I was real excited for Bonobo’s new release, Black Sands, but I had one concern – I just discovered Pretty Lights about two days before I got a chance to listen to this, and was completely fanatical about my new find. I really thought they would overshadow Bonobo’s new album ’cause of the addiction I have with new artists (I thrive on novelty). Well, gladly, I was wrong. Bonobo has created one solid album. He’s changed up his sound on some tracks, and I love what he’s come up with…

Bonobo is known for his downtempo, trip-hop style with a lot of classic instrumentals, but in “Kiara” he takes some of these elements into a more hip-hop inspired piece. This is absolutely my favorite track off his new release, and it’s definitely a long time keeper. It’s a perfect beat to bump to in the ride.

Check it out and tell me what you think. The more y’all comment the more i’ll post!

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