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Up Up & Away by Kid CuDi

"Cuz they gon' judge me anyway, so whatever."

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Thought this would be a good time to bring up the November ballot for the legalization of marijuana in Cali (CuDi seems to be a big pothead). As a pothead myself (well, former), I’ve struggled with justifying the legalization, but I figure what it comes down to is education before illegalization (not the other way around). America needs to start leading by example, as we once did – except for that whole prohibition thing… and slavery… and health-care… but other than that we kill… I don’t mean literally; fuck, I’m digging myself a hole. You know what I mean!

The reason I chose Up Up & Away wasn’t just because I wanted to talk about marijuana, it’s also because of why CuDi seems to be doing hip-hop right. I’m not into most mainstream hip-hop, but CuDi has one sick flow. It reminds me of a drumline: quick, snappy and on key. I don’t have as much appreciation for the rest of Man on the Moon: The End of Day, but some of his latest singles are equally as impressive as this.

If you’re looking for more stoner music then check out my article on beats to blaze.

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Rebel Music: The Bob Marley Story

The heart-wrenching tale of a legendary reggae superstar.

Bob Marley on Ethiopian Flag

It was interesting to hear Bob Marley sit down and talk for once. Before this documentary I had only seen him in videos from his concerts, which he barely spoke what he didn’t sing. Rebel Music: The Bob Marley Story does a good job at presenting him as a struggling man trying to overcome the oppression of his people. The film takes you through the political turmoils throughout his life and the battles he waged through words. His story reminds me of Ghandi’s, both struggling for individual freedom in one form or another.

I chose No Woman No Cry because of the memories I’ve shared with it. Bob Marley and the Wailers have contributed many songs that seem to have popped up in some point in my life, as I’m sure some have for yours.

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Nothing but Silence by Debaser (feat. Grayskul)

Plus a bonus track - Less Human.

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What first got me into underground hip hop was its eclectic use of instrumentals. Nothing but Silence is an interesting example of this, with a beat that I can best describe as gothic or horror-like… horror hip hop Anyone want to help me out on this one Anyways, the beat is tight and drops on key several times (e.g., check out 1:24). Ethic & Sapient, as well as the featured Grayskul members, lay down some rhymes that were made for this beat (makes sense ;)). I wish I knew a little more about Debaser’s style, but their new album just dropped this last May, so maybe that’ll give me a better understanding of ‘em. Check the song, love it, do whatever with it.

You know, after listening to Crown Control another time ’round, I’m starting to like some other songs off it, so I thought I’d include another track – Less Human – just because… and the sick beat.

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First Snow by Emancipator

A chill beat for a hot summer.

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A friend suggested I check out Emancipator’s Soon It Will Be Cold Enough a few months back, but I put it on the back-burner until recently. While browsing my feeds, I came across a song from the album that really hit the spot. Emancipator or Douglas Appling’s chilled-back, trip hop beats are steadily growing on me. I may not be an expert on the trip hop scene, but producers like this are moving me in the right direction.

The song that I mentioned above, as you probably figured out, is First Snow. Like a lot of the music I listen to, this song isn’t just for listening fun but seems to have a deeper meaning (yes, even without words). Another aspect I like about Appling’s music is how he switches up the tone in the middle of the track – a good example is at 3:00 in First Snow – similar to what DJ Frane does. I also found out, when researching the album, that it was mastered by Nujabes, a music legend for his jazzy/hip hop instrumentals. (R.I.P. Nujabes)

Alright, I’m off to listen to his latest album – Safe in the Steep Cliffs. Look this over and give me some input. What do you think the future for trip hop is

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Only the Strong Survive by DJ Krush

"Slip into the world of shiesty individuals."

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Back in ’08 I started to get into Japanese hip hop pretty heavily. I cycled through most of the popular DJ’s out there and was impressed by their use of soul and jazz samples. One thing in particular attracted me to some artists over others – the use of MC’s. Nujabes is no doubt my favorite for this very reason, but a few others have also done this with much success, notably DJ Krush. Although, I’ve checked out a couple of his albums and really enjoyed it, I think I need to take another look at this talented DJ.

Only the Strong Survive is one of only a handful I listen to of his on a regular basis. CL Smooth’s, featured MC on the track low-toned, voice glides soulfully over Krush’s jazz instrumentals. What does me in on this track is the kick drum along with the brass instrumentals, really hits the ear right. Give it a listen and give a shout out to your favorite DJ from Japan (I want more!).

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Work by Gang Starr

Rest in Peace Guru

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I wanted to pay tribute to Guru’s lifework in honor of his passing just under two months ago. He may not’ve been the most well-known MC, outside the underground, but he had (has) one of the most distinct voices in hip hop. I listened to Gang Starr a while back in college and was impressed when I first heard Guru’s flow. I was never too engrossed in his music, especially his solo-work, but I’ve always had mad appreciation for the impact he’s had on hip hop. Here is one of my favorites from Gang Starr – it may not be their most well-known, but it’s what first introduced me to Guru’s talent (among a few others).

Some of you may have heard about the whole controversy surrounding Guru’s death – check it out @ Pitchfork. All I have to say is that it’s sad to see Solar, recent producer for Guru, trying to gain off a friend’s death. But I guess we don’t know the whole story (I guess). What do y’all think of the situation R.I.P. Guru

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Who You Gonna Run to? by Solid Gold

"I don't think it's right, lettin' Love ruin my life."

Banner - Solid Gold in SPACE

I’m getting back to my rock roots, and from no better place than Minneapolis. But don’t worry, hip hop is still my first love (well, technically that would be rock…). I just want to diversify my music library to genres other than hip hop & electronica (I think hip hop’s at about 80%, right now). But who gives a fuck about all that, let’s get to the Gold…

I first set my ears on Solid Gold a couple months back when tuning into GAYNGS’s debut album Relayted. The trio teamed up with Ryan Olson of Mel Gibson and the Pants, among others, to do a collaborative project that’s nothing short of sexy smooth. Where GAYNGS is a seductive gang-bang of Minneapolis musicians, Solid Gold would more of a glam-rock/synth-pop band with lead singer Zach Coulter’s voice, which sounds a hell of a lot like George Michael’s. I’m still not quite sure what genre to categorize this under, but for once in a long time I’ve opened up to rock that isn’t 40 years old (there are a few exceptions – mostly ’80s/’90s rock). I should note, however, my first listen through the album wasn’t anything to boast about, but once I got use to the sound… I was hooked – this is especially for my hip hop fans, give it a couple listens before you move on.

If anyone could help me define/classify this, it would be much appreciated. I wanna start looking for similar sounds and you could be a real help. +If you do I may just post more… just maybe.

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Cloud 9 by Latyrx

"Let your whims control your limbs."

Banner - Latyrx (Lyrics Born and Lateef the Truth Speaker)

Today I was reminiscing about past summers and favorite pool-side songs, when I remembered one of my favorite groups from college, Latyrx. What the hell ever happened to those guys They had two exceptional albums and then split ways. Originally, my favorite of the two was Lyrics Born over Lateef (the Truth Speaker), but as time progressed and careers developed the tables turned. Lyrics Born has shifted more to a pop sound, which is all in good, but not my thing; while Lateef has hooked up with the likes of Z-Trip, Chief Xcel and Blackalicious, which is much more my thing.

Wherever they are now, what they did then was truly and will always be in my sentiments. Cloud 9, along with Lady Don’t Tek No, The Bumpin’ Contraption, Balcony Beach and a whole shit load more, have truly altered my thoughts of music and what to consider as good hip hop. Take a look at Latyrx’s works and pay tribute to ‘em by commenting below… yep, that’s how you it.

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Sweet Child O’ Mine by DJ Deckstream

"She's got eyes of the bluest skies"

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I’ve come across a few covers songs lately, so I thought I’d contribute a favorite of mine from DJ Deckstream’s Music Castle. Deckstream is a DJ/producer from Japan who could be classified in either hip-hop or jazz depending on the song/album. In Music Castle, Deckstream covers quite a few different oldies, all with a nu jazz style. Some famous songs include Tom’s Diner, Tripping Out, Just the Two of Us and my personal favorite, Sweet Child O’ Mine.

I chose Deckstream’s remix of Sweet Child O’ Mine because of its dreamy, relaxing take on a classic by Guns N’ Roses. One thing I would’ve loved to have seen on the track, along with a few others, is the original vocals included. It would’ve been interesting to hear Axl Rose’s voice over these instrumentals, but as this album is more intented as background music that may have been why Deckstream had chosen to leave him out.

This song actually brought up an interesting question in my mind: would you consider this a cover or remix What are the differences I think of a remix as cutting up a song, rearranging it, adding or removing parts and really making it your own. Compare this to covering a song where the song is relatively kept in its original form, but the performers put a little of their own style into it. As you can tell I marked this as a cover. What do you think

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Granite Earth by Opio

"It's all Love when we combine."

Banner - Opio and a Cop Car

I can’t believe I haven’t featured a song from Triangulation Station or, for that matter, any of Opio’s other solo projects before. Yea, he’s got some more recent work out now, but this album is his masterpiece. Opio is from one of the best hip hop groups of all time, Hieroglyphics. Comprised of a talented pool of MC’s, Hieroglyphics was the best of the best in the late 90′s/early 00′s (for an underground group). The only MC from Hiero that comes close to Opio’s talent is Del who collaborated with Dan the Automator & Kid Koala to construct Deltron 3030, a revolutionary hip hop album that’ll still be talked about for years to come… or should, at least. But enough of all that, let’s get to the good stuff…

“Granite Earth” is one of many stylistic songs from Triangulation Station. The reason I chose to feature this song is because of the chorus by Pigeon John coupled by the overall mood/lyrics of it. Opio & Pigeon John create a harmonic duo that’s on key throughout the entire piece. I’ve heard a couple stories about Pigeon John and how foolish he is in concert (my friends think he is an absolute joke because of it), but he’s got one smooth voice on this track and some thoughtful lyrics, as well (which I’m sure Opio wrote up). To be honest, though, I’ve checked out one of Pigeon John’s solo albums and it was nothing to defend.

So, what do you all think of the two on this track Anyone seen either of them live

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