Confession of a Nas fan: “Ether” vs “Takeover”

jay-z-nas1

Off rip, I need to  offer a disclaimer: in my debatable opinion, Nas is the G.O.A.T, almost divine from my point of view. His sophmore album, “It Was Written” may be my favorite album of all time. His second effort was laced with cuts like “Take it in blood”, “Shootouts” and “The Message”, which showed an elevation in his artistry in comparison to his immortal debut “Illmatic”. From Nas’ fashion sense, to his writing ability, all the way down to his mystique when dealing with some of the baddest women on the planet, the “only one Sade dated” has been an inspirtation to me in more ways than one. However, my admiration for Nas and opinion on the Jay/Nas feud creates quite the juxtaposition. With that said, I digress…

nas

In the darker years of Nas legendary career, circa 1998 to 2000, Jay-Z’s career really started to take off after going platinum 5 times over with his “Hard Knock Life” album. Up to this point, Nas was undoubtedly the  city’s golden pen, but the ink was running dry for Esco and the support seemed to shift in the direction of Hov. There was silent tension since the inception of Jay’s career, and escalated after the departure of B.I.G because it gave way to the King-Of-New-York conversation. Some will say Nas threw the first dart all the way back in 1996 on “The Message” when he said “Lex with tv sets the minimum”, after Jay was seen driving a lex, with tv sets, in a few of his early videos. That’s neither here, nor there. Some will also say it all started because of a proceeding subliminal exchange between Nas and Jay’s shooter, Memphis bleek, in 1999. 

“Ima ball til I fall what you think of that?”-Memphis Bleek (“What you think of that?”)

Re: “you wanna ball til you fall? I could help you with that”- Nas (“Nastradamus”)

Re: “ya lifestyle written, who you tryna be? Play your position” – Memphis Bleek (“Mind Right”)

Once again, that’s neither here, nor there. All the subs, resentments and tension would have it’s cover blown with one subtle line on that Hot 97 Summer Jam stage, in 2001. Hov used the platform to debut, what was really a Mobb Deep diss: “Takeover”. However, what caught the ears of the city wasn’t his jabs about Prodigy’s credibility or height, it was the line that ended the song: “Y’all niggas don’t want it with Hov, ask Nas, he don’t want it with Hov”. It is said that Nas was reluctant to respond because, despite Jay’s success, he didn’t believe the Brooklynite was on his level. Thankfully, Nas had some honest people around him, who put him on game and said in so many words “regardless what you believe, this is the dude right now, if you don’t respond, it’s over”.

jay bleek

Nas initial response was “H to the omo” or the “stillmatic freestyle”. This was a flex in lyrical superiority over the break-beat from Dennis Edward’s “Don’t look any further”, popularized in the hip hop world by Eric B & Rakim’s “Paid in full” . Nas threw more than a few not-so-subliminal lines towards Hov, even calling him the rapper version of Sisqo, which un-intentionally made the Dru-hill singer the standard for soft in the rap world. The response was enough to make Hov go back to the lab to add an additional verse to “Takeover” solely aimed for Nas dome piece like Jerome’s niece coming from Jones Beach.

nas 01

The additional verse was all types of disrespectful and attacked Nas from every angle. Jay picked at his artistic and street credibility, and ended the verse by subliminally referencing that he fucked Nas baby mother, Carmen Bryan, who later used it to her advantage and made a tell-all book about it. It seemed quiet for Nas after that. Lo and behold, 6 months later, Nas drops “Ether” which is almost seen as the awakening of the beast, the resurrection and a far cry from records like “You owe me”. Nas also took it to record levels of disrespect and mockery, referencing him swagger-jacking Biggies style, his Hawaiian sophie days and made room to call him a “tae-bo hoe”.

jay soph

 

With everyone waiting for a response from Jay, he dropped a sub-par diss track “Super ugly” which just seemed like he was trying to be more disrespectful than creative. Nas’ biggest advantage, at this point, was representing the underdog . The game almost-unanimously labeled Nas the victor in this match of the titans. But here’s where the confession comes in, even as a Nas stan, I feel Jay won.

jay laugh

There are a number of reasons why a lot of people feel that Jay lost. One, they didn’t expect anything from Nas at that point in his career, but he came out like a bear from hibernation. Two, Jay responded with  “super-ugly”, which gave room for general perception to compare a weaker response to “Ether”, rather than pinning it against “Takeover”. Three, “Ether” became a verb for shitting on people after Nas dropped it. However, outside of the moment and in retrospect, Jay came with more fact and “Ether” seemed more like a game of dozens.  Nas clowned Jay, attacking his physical misfortune, homosexual references, unrealistic threats. Nas also criticized him for taking from Big, which could also be considered Jay paying homage to a fallen friend. What could be the most potent and transcending critique in “Ether” was about Eminem “murdering” Hov on “Renegade”, which gave birth to barbershop analysts everywhere debating verses on any track which featured two or more prominent spitters. In contrast: Jay, being sharp in the art of war, played on the collective’s opinion of Nas at the time. Though a Nas fan such as myself doesn’t agree that he never lived up to the potential of “Illmatic”, there is a large amount of hip hop fans who feel that way. Jay also pointed out instances like the questionable “Karl Kani” ads and “oochie wally” appearances. Hov shot at Nas with facts, for the most part he avoided joking and bullshit threats. Here are some of the jabs Hov dropped that Nas should’ve addressed:

  1. He attacked “oochie wally”: Another questionable move on Nas behalf and is almost cringe worthy to listen to Nas stretch for fame in that fashion until this day.
  2. “I showed you your first tec, on tour with Large Professor, then I heard your album about the tec on the dresser”: this line would just be another aimless jab of credibility from Jay, but Large Professor spoke on this as well.
  3. “So yeah I sampled your voice…you ain’t get a coin, nigga, you was gettin fucked then/ I know who I paid, God- Serchlite publishing”: attacking Nas on a business-level and him getting duked out of money by bad contractual terms. Serch did say that there was some fact to this on “The Champs” podcast, though that wasn’t the name of his publishing company at the time.
  4. “You’ve been in this 10, I been in it 5- smarten up, Nas”: From a level of progression, Nas was not where he was supposed to be with the sub-par “Nastradamus” and the good (but not IWW/Illmatic level) “I AM”, he wasn’t where most would’ve thought judging from how the queensbridge emcee shot out the gate. In the meantime, Jay was going no-where but up.
  5. “Because you know who-did you know what-with you know who”: Jay referencing the more-than-alleged sexual encounter with the mother of Nas first born. Super disrespectful and confirmed.

So yeah, as a fan of fact-based personal attack, I feel Jay took this battle. Regardless of what your opinion is, we can all agree: this is one of the best back-and-forths hip hop as ever seen. The kings clashed and kept it on wax. They provided pure entertainment and classic material, that we still talk about nearly 15 years later.

As I stated in my disclaimer, Nas is still my favorite emcee of all time. He was 2 top 5 albums for me (IWW & Illmatic), while Jay only has one (Reasonable Doubt). As he stated on “Ether” he did influence a whole generation of rappers and reigned as the cream of the crop, in an era of hip hop when your pen had to be sharp to survive. Though Nas has had his inconsistencies, he’s always managed to bounce back and he proved that with his 2012 album “Life Is Good”, the moet-drinking-marajuana-smoking- street dweller can still do it, regardless of where he’s at in life.

jay nas

Sidebar: The beat to “Ether” was awful.

Sidebar II: If you say Jay won, on the basis of Nas signing to Def Jam, you’re a corn.

 

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Under-appreciated Greatness Vol. II: Yeah, Joe Budden is a legend.

joe open

While some of you are ready to lose your mind, peep…

Budden came up in the last era of hip hop when bars were a necessity in route to respect. Joey stepped on the scene circa 2001-2002, the beginning of what is commonly  referred to as the “mixtape” or “punchline” era along side the likes of 50 cent, Lloyd Banks, Young BuckCassidyFabolous, the Dipset movement, to name a few. Seasoned players like Beanie Sigel, Cam’RonJadakiss, and Styles P, who were in the game for a little while, were beginning to flourish as well. This was a point in time when hip hop was changing, dudes were at eachother’s neck, turning interviews at radio stations to battlegrounds. The game was left to the wolves, whether it was Desert Storm (DJ Clue, Joe, Fab, etc), D-Block, State Property, G-Unit or The Diplomats, everyone had a team of lethal pens. Joey not only survived the times, but established himself as one of the more prominent spitters of the early to mid 2000s (hence why he’s still here almost 15 years later). He had one of the biggest hits of 2003, with “Pump it up”, which could have been a gift and curse, but that’s neither here nor there. The success he achieved in the mixtape circuit is what ultimately has defined his legacy. His “Mood Muzik” tapes, were a 4 part series that felt like it was being recorded from a psychiatrist’s couch more than a booth. The tapes were not only critically accalimed in the underground market, it also helped establish a “Joe Budden” brand, carving out his own lane of heavy-hearted and honest hip hop that you’d be hard pressed to find in any of his predecessors.

mood

To some of you, who didn’t really expereince the early 2000s and may only be conscious of  Drake-era hip hop (2009-current), being an emotional rapper may not seem to be anything special to you because you see it everywhere. Hip hop was once a genre based on the alpha-male and self-boasting bravado, where any type of vulnerability or fear was blood in the water to the sharks, and it could be the end of the road for a rapper. Regardless of the fact, Joe fearlessly turned inside-out, letting you into his personal space and speaking on everything from his relationship with a distant son, hatred for his baby mother, and detailed accounts of his trial and error with women, friends and family. He went into the depth of his personal demons and the likes of depression, drug addiction and suicidal thoughts more vividly than the game has ever seen. Joe Budden made it okay to be human in hip hop. Whether it was done purposely or not, this type of content helped him relate on an elevated level with listeners and gained him his cult-following.

joe early

Building even more of a personal relationship with his following, Joe was one of the first people who noticed how important the internet and “visual” accesibility was, via vlogs and youtube. Now-a-days, its a regular marketing practice. Every artist  seems to have a vlog now, because they become more “human” and tangible when fans can see their favorite artist’s activities. In the years proceeding JoeBuddentv, an artist would never let their following look in that close, in fear that it would compromise their still-on-the-corner / superthug image that they were upholding. JoeBuddenTV documented any and everything from his relationship with Tahiry (and arguments), issues with fellow Jersey-native Ransom, one of the first interviews with Drake, or just a game of monoply.

joe budden relationship

Of course that level of openness wasn’t only in regards to his own depth and personal life, he was never shy about his opinions on others. Joe Budden’s name is synonymous with rap beef, which is something that may have overshadowed his true talent. He has battled with Sean Price live on Hot 97 (& lost miserably, Rest In Peace SeanP!) and subliminally but not-so-subliminally battled Jay-Z on record after Hov tried juxing Joe for the Just Blaze produced “Pump it up” track (it became the “Pump it up” remix). Aside from that, he’s beefed with damn near everyone you can think of, from the likes of Saigon to the legendary tier of the Wu-Tang clan. Oh yeah, and Def Jam as a whole got it too (The Growth album?). Though a lot of these situations made for some classic records, they’ve also left a bad taste in the mouths of hip hop listeners and his piers alike.

joe beef 2(Copyright: Complex)

The reason why it may be tough to recognize how important Joe Budden is to hip hop, is because of unnecessary and immature antics that may have come from an honest place, but developed into a stigma on the Joe Budden brand. His unapologetic frankness, which is admirable to some (me), may have also stopped potential-fans at the door before even giving him a chance. Instances like calling out Method Man in an unnecessary fashion (also documented on JoeBuddenTv) made him seem disrespectful and wreckless. Of course, him popping up on Ustream with an icebag over his eye after  Raekwon’s people reacted, didn’t help much, either. It’s these “when-keeping-it-real-goes-wrong” impulses that have grown legs of their own and make some room to slight the Jersey emcee, regardless of his catalog and ability to push a pen.

joe budden beef

On a more personal level, his romantic-endeavors with well-sculpted Latinas were always on display for the court of public opinion. Though he’s given celebrity and careers to a lot of his ex-partners, the element of publicity in a personal relationship can turn on you, especially when there’s an ugly demise involved. There’s a trail of women, longer than any public assitance line, ready to drag Joe Budden’s name through the mud with accusations of domestic abuse, which is tough on public relations. Throw that in the pot with his denim vest collection on VH1’s “Love & Hip Hop” and the marriage prosposal gone wrong that made him the butt of memes all throughout IG, and you have a lot of distraction surrounding his actual wins.

marriage

The open book that us Budden fans love him to be, has also made him a target and has given plenty of excuses to not recognize his caliber of artistry. All the controversy in the world, from verbal intercourse with the competition to his personal pitfalls, as well as the cliche “one hit wonder” claims, and Mr. Jumpoff Joe Budden has survived it all and remains a lot more relevant than most of his classmates (except Fab), 12 years later. The branch of emotion-driven hip-hop that he’s opened has had a major influence, whether directly or indirectly. The influence resonates with some of the biggest stars of today (He had Drake on JoeBuddetv in ’09). When the controversy quiets and all the claims against him become warn out, all you’ll have is his body of work. Remember, you can’t trust anything without a darkside…

joe

SideBar: All Love Lost 10/16 

joe-budden-alllovelost-cover

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

25

1990 2

For my 1990 babies, we’ve either arrived at 25 already or we’re approaching it soon, real soon. 25 is a monumental age and it comes with a lot of expectations. It’s kind of the end of an era in life: the post high-school, early twenties, “We could still fuck around” era. The window of flexibility is closing, but we’re still very much developing and finding ourselves, at least I’am. If you asked me where I’d be at 25, when I was 17, it wouldn’t necessarily be where I’m at. However, back then I wasn’t exactly a realist, I still had the luxury of time and dreamt more than I really planned for the future. I did achieve my bachelors degree this past year and I’ve had a couple of minor accomplishments along the way, but my more fulfilling victories are still in the making. There are still a couple of pivatol aspects of life to figure out but if life is just a manifestation of where your mind is, things are looking promising.

25

Though I’m not in the space I’d like to be, career-wise or financially, I still find myself happy as a young man. I’m happy because I can truly say that I have a firm grip on who I’am as a person, I’m comfortable in my flaws and confident in my muscle. One of the biggest strength’s is knowing your weakness. Toxic relationships, non-fulfilling jobs, the college life, and a lot of the love around me, have all brought me closer to myself & has had a heavy hand in building my character. Whether it was depression bouts, insecurity or surrounding myself with bad energy, I’ve gained a true understanding and appreciation for the struggles of my late-teens and early twenties,  because I’m starting to see how it’s all contributing to this slightly dark but beautiful piece of art that I call my life. It’s either your demise or it builds you back, stronger, and I took the latter. I’ve gained faith thanks to the turbulence, which is something I always had a tough time coming to terms with. Having faith in the fact that the challenges I face are nothing more than minor-setbacks and character builders, has led to more patience & understanding, and less unnecessary weight & stress.

download

I see the progression of some of the people around me, or those from my past, and it gives me a sense of motivation. Which represents growth for me and a 180 degree turn from the days when someone, my age, doing it bigger than me used to make me feel like lesser of a man. Instead of seeing it as “why isn’t that me”, it’s more of a salute and “see when I get there” mentality that I’ve grown into. It took some time for me to realize that nothing will set you back like constantly comparing yourself to the next man/woman, and thinking of “where you should’ve been in life by this point”. With a lighter head and less traffic in my mind, I’m able to really process jewels from my successful piers and old heads who’ve seen their share of ups and downs.

Opportunity and Career

I still have my darker days, of course, a better perspective can’t prevent that but it can help deal with the once-in-a-blue blues, more productively. In my 24th year, my responsibilities and sudden inconveniences caused money struggles, I’ve lost a couple people, I’ve had my resume denied by some great jobs, but contrary to my past ways, I keep on, keepin’ on because there’s really nothing else you can do. Check-to-check jobs and not attaining my dream opportunity (yet) have made me hungrier and gave me an admiration of life beyond money and status. But in my 25th year, it’s time for me to get this money and put the finishing touches on my vision, letting my potential come to fruition…To my fellow beloved born in the same year Bel Biv Devoe released “Poison”, keep a clear head and find your spot in this big-ass world…

1990 1

Sidebar: August 15th is my 25th

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New New York 15: Harlem NYC Style: Dave East

dave intro

Name: Dave East

Stomping Grounds: Spanish Harlem

Breakout Year: 2014

dave

From the Eastside of the New York City fashion mecca, hails one of the more promising prospects from the 5 Burroghs. I was hearing the name “Dave East” for a minute, via blog sites (shout out to 2dopeboyz, catching everything OD early) and word of mouth. But in most cases, unless I trust the opinion of the source, I usually brush it off after years of being recommended and then disappointed. I admittingly did this with Dave East, and it wasn’t untill I saw Nas put him down with his Mass Appeal roster, that I was like “Hold up, if the GOAT co-signs….”

Dave Nas

To get a sense of where his pen was at, I immediatley went to his freestyles and heard him finessing the shit out of classics like NasLast Words” and Beanie Mack’sOnce again its on“.

A marksman with my target, I shoot awkward,

Shawn Marion, Bill Cartwright, by the park light,

It’s 33 for a gram, the shit slow,

Balmain denim lookin’ like I’m sellin’ dope

– “Once again it’s on” freestyle

Once I realized how sharp the sword was, I wanted to see what kind of artist he was. We all know there’s plenty of dudes, from our city particualrly, who can spit really well but can’t put together actual songs. I did my datpiffs and saw his most promising project was “Black Rose” mixtape, with no expectation at all, I sparked some potent product & took some time to see what these mean-internet streets were talking about. The standout factor of the tape & East as an artist, is that it’s well-balanced and diverse in sound. He could go with a banger like the RicoBeats produced “Red Bottoms” , which is more in the trap lane, and it sounds natural. On the other hand, he could spit over a drum-knocking New York record like “Fuck you think” and come with the vintage shit. My personal favorites were “Around here” and “The Town“, where the he takes you on a verbal tour through the not-so-gentrified & still grimey side of Harlem. He could talk the name-brand braggadocio, true to his Harlem roots, he can speak the word of the corner-bodega hustler or he could just let the bars fly to let you know where his minds at.

“Speak my pain
He got game, I feel like Jesus
Just couldn’t relate, ain’t never listened to Yeezus (never)
Still got connects with dope, Sour in the freezer
FoodSaver sealers and some scissors, thank you Jesus
I ain’t meet her once, tatted my name right on her cleavage
Kush got me talkin’ to nutso, like “are we even?”…”- “The Offering”

dave mixtape

Dave East hails very little comparison to anyone I’ve heard. The Spanish Harlem emcee seems more like an effortless fusion of the New York legends blended with today’s era in hip hop. He’s the artist whose got something for pretty much any fan of the culture, no matter what element of the game you fuck with. Get familiar with the name, the boy’s gonna be here for a while….

Dave final

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Conversation with an Instagram “vixen”

IG 1

In the era of “Love & Hip Hop”, being famous for nothing is at an all time high. Times are as shallow as ever, and it’s got women too heavily dependant on likes, looks and sponsors for a sense of self-worth. These likes and followers, don’t mean-a-motherfuckin’-thing, that silicone in your ass is bad for your health and that old guy with money is going to bounce on you when he finds a new PYT. The popularity and attention is cool I guess, if you’re into all that, but there’s a saying, “If you’re good at something, never do it for free”. With that said, if you’re good at grabbing attention and you have a growing support base, apply it in a business sense, it’ll go further.

ig 4

Hosting parties shouldn’t be a career plan.

But, unfortunately, in the mind-fuck-of-a world that we live in today, it’s considered as an option. There’s not an ounce of hate in my blood, I’d just like to see young women aspire to be more. There’s nothing wrong with gathering a following, hosting parties at different clubs in your city, getting a spot in a Fab video, but it should be more of a vehicle to your destination, rather than the destination itself. Build a brand, not just a hollow following, who are just there to watch you sell your soul for some attention. Don’t just end up a bum whose nice to look at.

IG 3

The ironic thing is I hear women speaking less of other women who become strippers, calling them out of their name in all types of forms and fashion, and criticizing them for “setting low bar for women all over”. I say “if you got it, then make money off it” because times ticking, especially if it’s a physical asset. Though some women age like they’re stuck in time, the window of opportunity closes quick for those who find success on the basis of appearance. That’s not to necessarily say they become unattractive, but they get old, not always in age just old to look at as well (I.e. Vida Guerra). When all you have to offer is a fat ass and a nice face, There’s plenty of 18 year females uptown on Dyckman who are going to steal your spotlight by this time next year. That’s just the nature of the vain game, everyone wants the fresh face, so you have to keep yourself relevant in other ways. I say that to say, strippers and instafamous broads advertise the same assets, one of them is just making money off it, while the other one is just getting a couple of parched individuals to follow them. So, whose really the dumb bird?.

ig 5

Now, I’m not saying if you’re a popular-attractive-person on IG, go be a stripper, but go find a hustle and don’t get too caught up in the moment. Don’t become too content with anything you can’t put on a resume and don’t let the likes and followers give you a false sense of accomplishment. You can become a brand ambassador for a product or you can model for up-and-coming streetwear/clothing lines and charge them to use your space and popularity. There’s a million ways to use the outlet you have, the only wrong way, is thinking the attention is good enough…

Side bar:Death to silicone, bring the natural women back.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Dame Dash Enlightenment

dame 1

“I’m the bad guy to the bad guys”

Dame Dash is defined differently depending on your age group and era. You may know him for playing his pivatol role in Roc-A-Fella records side-by-side with Hov, you may know him for verbally assaulting business executives, or you may be unfamiliar all together due to his nearly-decade-long absence from the spotlight. In recent times, Dame Dash has been reborn again, he’s become the symbol for modern-day independence, a business man with his mind on just that, his own business (Fuck being a chatty-patty).

dame 3

Dame’s recent campaign started in 2013. The first chapter of his resurgence was based in calling out people, who he labeled to be “culture vultures”. This term was directed at those, who he felt had no genuine interest in the culture, except for the dollar, who were pimping young artists with aspirations of being in hip hop. He accused people such as Lyor Cohen (Of Def Jam), Joie Manda (Of Interscope), among other higher ups in the music industry, of being white collar crooks. He accused Cohen of inventing the infamous 360 deal, which is the closest the music business can come to slavery. For those who may be unfamiliar with what a 360 deal actually is, it’s the music label offering finances for touring, marketing and promotion (etc.), in exchange for ownership of pretty much every aspect of an artist’s income (might even tell them how to dress and talk. no bullshit). Dame’s side of the story holds weight, due to the fact that he’s seen it from the inside and he’s personally witnessed the sheisty methods of the music industry and it’s most powerful pawns. He used his history and experience in the game, to fuel his jewel-filled rant. His argument made even more sense in the age of the internet. Considering the fact that the internet offers a straight to consumer business model, which essentially cuts out the middle-man. Point being, there is no reason to pay, in the way artist’s have been paying, for major label services. The major labels are slowly becoming a dinosaur, as Dame said, the executives will tell you differently but it’s only because that’s their means of survival. The anti-major label route is becoming more popular in this era, as you see many artists who flourished courtesy of an independent grind (I.e. Asap Rocky, Troy Ave). People like The Lox, 50 cent and Prodigy (of mobb deep), who’ve all been a part of major labels, have opted to go independent.This segwayed perfectly into his next chapter, which is what I call the “Be your own boss” segment.

dame 5

Since his exposure of “Culture vultures”, Dash has not at all been shy about publically denouncing dirty business people’s tactics on platforms like Sway in the morning, and YouTube channels belonging to the well-educated, Dr. Boyce Watkins, as well as the “Hip Hop motivation” channel. But the most loved, hated, impactful and controversial appearance was that on New York radio-station Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club. The Harlem native spoke candidly about the beauty of independence, building your own brand and putting your own money in the street. He attacked those willing to settle for anything less than ownership and working for yourself, even making examples out of those in the room such as the legendary DJ Envy. A key point in Dame’s perspective was “Hustle for your last name, not your first”, which can be interpreted as taking financial risks and stepping out of the comfort of a 9-to-5, so you have an opportunity to indulge in generational prosperity. His criticism’s towards the every day working man or woman, was that they were selfish for not taking these chances and not thinking enough about the future of their children. He also accused the average employee of being too comfortable in the security of a “job” & too submissive to another individual, claiming that calling someone else your “boss”, is like calling them your “daddy”. He sprinkled metaphors from his drug dealing days in comparison to the “legitimate” work world, to put things in perspective for those who may live like he did in his past. Of course, none of his argument has any substance, unless it is backed with evidence. Dame decorated the interview with boastful claims of his own endeavors, beyond music, into the world of movie production, fashion, art and even oil, demanding he be called a “Tycoon” and not a mogul.  The delivery of the argument may have seemed harsh and even offensive due to him poking fun at working people, such as most of us, but it’s a reality check.

dame 2

If anyone knows their history, Dame Dash’s approach was similar to that of Karl Marx. Marx is a well-renowned socialist, among many other accolades. Throughout the mid-to-late 1800s, Karl Marx bashed the system of capitalism and the idea of working for someone else. Marx stated that working in a pyramid stucture under a “boss” alienates you from yourself and molds you into someone who is working towards another person’s dream instead of your own. Marx stated that the workers will stay workers and the bosses will stay bosses, because they are both necessary in the economic system. Furthermore, Marx claimed that managers and bosses will sell you a dream of mobility, to keep you content with being a worker, but made it clear that you’re never really moving up in the world unless you gain ownership. This is Dame’s point, exactly.

dame 6 marx 1

Like most awakenings in our history, his sentiments were polarizing. Some saw the message underneath Dame’s rough-around-the-edges persona. Opposition saw it as insulting and ignorant, saying “there’s nothing wrong with working for a boss and a normal job”, which is a subjective argument and really based on personality. Instagram lit up with snarky memes exaggerating Dash’s “self-reliant” point of view, some of which, were hysterical too. The point of this piece isn’t to bash critics of Dame Dash’s perspective, but more so to say, that Dame Dash wasn’t wrong either. He has accolades and business ventures to prove his point. The only gap in between the every-day working person (such as myself) and ownership is often a lack of belief in their own ability, or fear. The fear of taking the risks necessary and the haunting doubt that’s telling us: “what if you take these risks, and it still doesn’t work?”, this is a defining question and the answer varies, depending on the individual. If you love your job and your boss, more power to you, I respect it. At the same time, if you have aspirations to be your own boss, there is opportunity out here and likeminded people (such as myself) who you should surround yourself with.

dame cam

Dame’s argument may have been fueled by criticisms of others but the foundation was empowerment of the individual. The man wasn’t saying you “can’t” become your own boss, but enticingly saying that you “won’t” because you’re afraid too. He used the critiques and jagged-edged jokes as a vehicle of tough love to wake us up as a people. In my humble opinion, I don’t believe he was talking to everyone, he’s probably intelligent enough to know his message won’t resonate with an older generation whose long been settled into their job. I believe he was talking to the individuals with time on their side, who, in their heart want to work off their own interest,on their own schedule and are only opposed by self-doubt. Dame is pushing for a different model of business for the future and if you can’t see the diamond in the rough, that’s on you fam.

dame final

Side-Bar: Harlem sticks together.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New, New York ’15 (Part 1): Brooklyn-Queens-Expressway: Manolo Rose

manolo 5

Name: Manolo Rose

Stomping Grounds: Far Rockaway, Queens/ Marcy (Brooklyn)

Breakout year: 2015

Still, in 2015, there is confusion regarding what exactly “New York hip hop” actually is. Most have pigeon-holed the sub-genre into boom-bap, or anyone who raps like Nas or someone from Wu-Tang. My sentiment to those who assume such, is the same as it was last year, everything evolves and there are still dope artists coming from our city that sound nothing like what we’ve heard before. Such is the case with Bed-Stuy-Far Rock fusion of Manolo Rose.

manolo 4

Manolo Rose is in the vein of New York artists like Onyx, Busta Rhymes & DMX. He’s not going to blow you away lyrically, but he uses his energy as his trademark. He has a knack for making memorable hooks, which is noted on his own songs as well as his often show-snatching appearances on other people’s records. The backdrop which perfectly compliments his riot-inducing vocals is usually supplied by Fame-school Slim, one half of the Fame School, an up-and-coming architect on the boards.  When Manolo came with his break-out single “Run Ricky Run” it was the most unorthodox, unconventional banger I’ve heard since Black Rob’s “Whoa”. The beat didn’t actually drop until well into the song and it was confusing DJs all throughout the Tri-state, who were trying to figure out how to work the record in the club. The concept was derived from classic Hood flicks like John Singleton’s “Boyz n tha Hood”, “Menace To Society”. “Juice” and “Harlem Knights”. He cleverly used the movies to define life lessons such as “keeping the grass cut so you can see the snakes come” and to “Never let a nigga get away with nothing”. My mind had trouble adapting to the song at first, but I felt it, and I knew it was something ground-breaking.

manolo 1

With such an impact on a breakout single, it’s tough to say if we’ll ever see an artist again in the era of the one-hit-wonders, but he’s followed up strong. With records like “Fuck 12“, “Gun-Fu” and “Super-Flexin“, he continues to perpetuate the lane that he’s carving out for himself, the anthemic-through-the-roof energy New York city hip hop. He’s building both his brand and his buzz on songs with Harlem’s own Vado, Rowdy Rebel (Of GS9), Rico Love, and of course, the controversial collaboration on Troy Ave’s “All about the money”.

manolo 3

As many have heard, the Troy Ave single was originally Manolo Rose’s “Dope man“, neither artist denies that fact. The concept, the hook and the production is all the same as the original, just with appearances from Troy Ave and BSB’s Young Lito. Though the transfer of the record was a bit jux-like, Manolo Rose kept it business and used it as an opportunity to market himself on a more established artist’s platform, even appearing in the video. He has since denounced any beef between him and Troy ave, charging it to the game, and enjoying the perks that came with the success of the record.

manolo 2

Manolo Rose has grown out of the shadow of his mega-record “Run Ricky Run” and the controversy with Troy Ave, the Edgemere Projects native is also gaining notoriety outside of the hometown. He’s dropping his “Concrete Rose” EP today (June 2nd), set to have features from Vado, Chinx (Riot in Peace !), Dave East, and Cali’s own, Problem. He’s one of the artists that is both creative and daring enough to follow the beat of his own drum, without biting off of the biggest artists of the day or trying to sound like any of the City’s forefathers. It’s artists like Manolo Rose who push both the city and the culture forward, blurring the regional lines that dictate what a city should sound like. He’s just out here making music anyone, anywhere could wild-out too.

manolo show

Side-Bar: I gotta make it out to one of his shows on this “Concrete Rose” tour, anyone whose seen him perform his shit says he makes the records really come to life…

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,