Tag Archives: new

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.

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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.

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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 

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New New York 15: Harlem NYC Style: Dave East

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Name: Dave East

Stomping Grounds: Spanish Harlem

Breakout Year: 2014

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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….

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The Dame Dash Enlightenment

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“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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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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…

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Why Throw?

shhhnotears_0_0Heartbreak at it’s worst.

If you go back about a year in time, the question surrounding Superbowl XLVIII was “What Happened to Peyton Manning?”. This year, the question is “Pete Carroll, what the fuck are you doing?” or “Why would you throw the ball on the goal line with the best running back in the league and under a minute of game left?”. This question has been asked so much in the past 10 hours, that it’s almost cliché, but yet, still perplexing. Regardless of Pete Carroll’s accolades and achievements to be, this question will be the anchor that weighs his legacy down. The call he made will live in infamy, being the undercurrent of every conversation regarding his coaching career. People around the NFL or those involved with sports journalism will more than likely keep it politically correct and say something to the effect of “You’re not a coach, you don’t understand how defenses line up or what calling a play in that situation entails“, whatever. The fact of the matter is, 9 out of 10 coaches are banging that shit in with Marshawn Lynch (Pause) for six, for the lead and most likely for the ring. It seemed like all the stars were aligned for the Seahawks to make it two in a row, especially after Jermaine Kearse made a catch that will forever live on Superbowl history highlight reels. With everyone in anticipation of an explanation, Carroll said:

“We sent in our personnel, they sent in the goal line; it’s not the right match up

for us to run the football…So on second down we throw the ball really to kind of

waste the play…”

I get it, at that point you’re trying to avoid Tom Brady getting the opportunity to win the game with any time on the clock. That’s the equivalent of seeing Derek Jeter, in his prime, bottom of the ninth with a man on second and a chance to win the game, or a determined Michael Jordan with the ball in his hands in the 4th Quarter. Despite that level of understanding, even if you are going to pass it, why call that play? why not a little screen pass?. Either way, you can’t take anything from the rookie, Malcolm Butler, who made his first interception at the best time he possibly could.

sb 1brad

Despite the drama, this was one of the most competitive Superbowls to date. Tom Brady performed in his normal fashion when it mattered most. He was moving down field with rhythm, connecting with Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman on multiple occasions. Edelman & Brady looked like long time partners in crime, with 9 of 12 passes completed and 109 yards as a duo. Russell Wilson came to play a good game as well, regardless of the call-heard-round-the-world & his struggle to get a completion early on, he finished with an impressive 110.6 passer rating. The pleasant surprise that was Seahawks wide-out Chris Matthews is a bittersweet story. Coming into the game, the man who was a footlocker employee when the season started, had never caught an NFL pass but ended up with some of the biggest completions, as well as a game tying touchdown at the end of the first half. Unfortunately, it was all in a losing effort, due to another Tom Brady happening and Pete Carroll cementing himself as the Bill Buckner of play-calling.

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It’s a shame that this play inevitably overshadows how great Superbowl XLIX really was. This game only furthered the legacies of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick (Still don’t like that prick). Aside from that, it represented two eras overlapping, with the Patriots being the dynasty of the past 15 years (Though the Pats don’t seem to be done yet) and The Seahawks more than likely being the dynasty of the future. Seattle still has a bright future for years to come, as long as all the key elements of this young and vicious team stay in place & in sync.

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Sidebar: Stop complaining about The Seahawks defense starting a brawl at the end of the game, that’s what defines them as a team, and if you’re being honest with yourself, you know that’s what makes shit entertaining. Any form of entertainment needs a bad guy, whether it’s sports or movies.

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Uptown Baby: Bodega Bamz X The Martinez Bros “Sunday Service” EP review

Bodega Bamz and the Martinez Brothers Sunday Service

Artist: Bodega Bamz X The Martinez Bros

Project: “Sunday Service”

Stand-out tracks: “Going to DR”, “Fuck Dat Shit” & “Bam Bam”

P’s feel: 7/10

The EP starts off with a sample of 1970’s “The Cross and the Switchblade”, where the narrator states ” If the story you are about to see were a product of a writers imagination, you might label it unbelievable, but these events actually took place on the streets and alleys and the tenements where we filmed them“. This introduction was strategically placed as a segway for Bodega Bamz to detail some more of his own personal experiences and East Harlem tales. This project speaks to the elevation in Bodega Bamz artistry and shows him flexing more creative muscle in comparison to it’s predecessor, 2013’s “Strictly 4 My P.A.P.I.Z“. This couldn’t be possbile without the cinematic and sample heavy production of The Martinez Bros. From the 70’s movie samples on the interludes which were carefully positioned to thread the needle and keep the concept going, to the sampling of classics for the Spanish Harlem emcee to rhyme over. There’s a great deal of artistic chemistry between the production duo and Bamz, as the Martinez Bros work as architects to build a backdrop which also serves as an ode to everything that inspired and sparked a creative fuse for the Domo-Rican spitter. For instance, the slightly more raw sampling of Sylvia Striplin’s “You can’t turn me away” on track number 6 “Fire“, which was also Junior Mafia’s “Get money” sample. To do the track justice, Bamz channels his Biggie-reminiscent flow and even throws the previously unheard-of-artist Bonnie B on the song, who serves as the Lil’ Kim and female adversary. On the high power “93 Acura Legend”, you can feel an adrenaline rush as it opens up with the same trumpet glissando (or whistle-like sound), from Public Enemy’s classic “Rebel without a pause”. In the spirit of Chuck D & Flavor Flav, Bamz attacks the track agressively sending shots to anyone and everyone that believed he would never resurface after his last mixtape effort. On track 8, “12 Am in the stu“, The Martinez Bros flip Incredible Bongo Band’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”, which is the same sample used on Nas’ “Thiefs Theme” and “Hip Hop Is Dead”. The TanBoyz captain opens the track up appropriately stating:

“This that, ghost of Biggie Smalls, ghost of Terror Squad,

Ghost of Wu-Tang, can’t forget the Double ‘R’,

Ghost of Big L, Ghost of Rakim,

Ghost of New York, We the newest ones in charge”

In contrast to the classic hip hop records that were flipped, on “Bam Bam” the Martinez Bros and Bodega Bamz also boldly took on Sister Nancy’s song of the same name, which is one of the bookmarks in Reggae’s legend and can be heard at damn near any Jamaican club or West Indian festival to this day. If you’re from any of the 5 Boroughs or even Long Island, you know that Reggae has almost the same impact on our city as hip hop does, so it would be wrong if the EP was paying tribute to all the sounds of the city and not include at least one dancehall or Reggae classic. Another noteworthy instance of Bamz representing what he came from, was on the stand-out track “Going To DR”, in which he cleverly merges the Busta Rhyme’s “Put ya hands” flow, with seemingly Q-Tip-influenced verses over the drum-knocking production. To add to the retro-feel of the project, Raekwon appears  steals the spotlight on the riot-inducing “Fuck Dat Shit”, with a vintage verse.“Whats good? We swallow these niggas, lobby killers posin’ in stingray air forces, bombs that body niggas, Rae states over the electrifying-boom-bap-reminiscent track. Not to mention Lex Diamonds does some of his classic shit talking, reminiscent of his features on The Cocoa Brovas “Black trump”, Pun’s “Firewater” and Mobb Deeps “Eye for an Eye”. As far as legends and inspirational hip hop artist go, there is not many with the longevity and stripes of The Chef. Another undercurrent of this project, aside from paying homage, is the Uptown representative’s transitional phase from an up & coming artist to a young star in the game. Though he does not have the starpower of his ASAP Mob counterparts (yet), he’s also not the same artist notoriety-wise that he was when he dropped “Strictly 4 My P.A.P.I.Z”. That’s why this EP has such a contrast, a nostalgic but progessive feel. This is the revelation, the realization of his own potential for Bodega Bamz. It’s a man whose in a state of reflection and perseverance, almost at a disbelief of what he’s achieved thus far because of the struggle he’s come from. On several tracks he speaks about this new-found fame, but “Going To DR”, he speaks about it most potently:

“Sleepin’ with dirty pistols, my life’s still the same,

maybe I’m scared, maybe I’m lovin’ all the fame,

mentally stable but everyday I’m getting crazy,

tell these bitches I love ’em, even promise them my baby,

guess what I’m saying I got a curse and a gift,

the gift is to give back, the curse is getting rich”

Even on the horn-heavy, slow-tempo “A Night In Rao’s”, he gives off the elegant-mobster side of his artist, speaking on the high-end diet of shrimp linguine and lobster. Even when Bamz is getting a little bougie on us, he still throws in a dose of where he came from:

“I’m where they call me by my christian name,

‘How the family doin’?, How you feel about your fame?’

meng, if I wanted a cheap convo,

I order take-out, chicekn lomein”

This is the growth of Mr. Bodega Bamz, and off the strength of his passion alone, there’s more heights to be reached for the halfDominican-half Boricua artist.

“Sunday Service” is a good look and a glimmer of hope for the sound of the New, New York era. The Martinez Bros and Bodega Bamz managed to produce something that articulates their inspiration aritistically, slightly nostalgic, but is still a fresh-new wave. The project doesn’t seem like a dated piece of work, it’s not the cliche “Lets bring real hip hop back” sound, despite the samples they used. This 3 man team showed their creative evolution making a completely cohesive project detailing the intersection between looking back and moving forward. In comparison to “Strictly 4 my P.A.P.I.Z”, the two projects are nothing alike. On his debut, Bamz sound was more new-age, ASAP Harlem sounding with the 808’s, subtle-Houston influence with a New York edge. On this project, the feel is more soulful and it carries the same vibe that the 70’s flicks captured on the interludes. The only similarity between the two projects, is that it represents the underdog story, just at different stages. If we were to compare it to another classic underdog story such as “Scarface“, Bamz first effort would represent Tony Montana as the dishwasher, still trying to figure out how he was going to make it in America, just as the East Harlem rapper was trying to find his place in the game on his 2013 release.  “Sunday Service“, would be the next step up, this is when Tony first meets with Frank Lopez and they begin to talk about bigger money,when Tony begins to realize the spoils of the lifestyle. It’s not quite the pinnacle but its not the gutter either, this is Bamz and The Martinez Brothers finding their lane. This time around is different, Bodega Bamz gives a better narrative on this project and it’s more intricate content-wise. I hope to see more collaborative efforts between the Martinez Bros and The Spanish Harlem rep, so they can continue to brand their sound.

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Get Over It: The New, New York (Part 4): The Boogie Down

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Name: Fred The Godson

Stomping Grounds: The South Bronx

Breakout Year: 2011

Standout Project: “City Of God” (2011)

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I know the fans listen
From the hood to Hollywood; it’s a transition
Face under my hood, just like a transmission
Grams to ambition; I recall re’n-up and a gram missin’
Mom Christian; father was a black spade
Uncle funeral parlor cause of a black gauge
I rap, I’m paid, and they well jealous
They almost got me, I shot three, Dale Ellis” (“Throwdown” W/ Styles P & Trae Tha Truth)

Fred 1

From the land of Big Pun, hails a relatively known but unknown gem spitter, Fred The Godson (Frederico!). To be honest, after co-signs and features courtesy of everyone from Raekwon to Puff Daddy (didn’t he just change his name back?), and a Gangsta Grillz, DJ Drama hosted mixtape, I’m not quite sure why this kid from the Bronx still hasn’t gotten his just-due. If you’ve yet to delve into the man’s catalog, you might want to keep a finger as close as possible to rewind, and have something that helps slow everything down for you, whether it be a blunt, a Xanax or that purple shit with the jolly ranchers at the bottom. Fred’s style is defined by his ambiguous metaphors, double (maybe triple, maybe quadruple) entendres and one-of-one wordplay, but he’s not the punchline rapper per se (though he could do that too). His metaphors are on top of metaphors, more reminiscent of Jay in his prime with the layered, almost scientifically nit together lyrics that are not nearly as mundane, typical or easy to unravel as the average “Like” or “as” simile punchline flow. Put it this way, the man basically speaks in codes, out of a 16 bar verse, you may catch 4-8 bars on the first listen (maybe 2, depending on how aged of a hip hop listener you are). A project from the X representative is sure to have plenty of those pause-to-think-then-“Ohh shit!” moments, that make you feel like you’ve accomplished something in life for even understanding the lyric. Fred The God is aware of his wit, and understands that not everyone will be able to keep up, so he’ll even get generous and spell it out at times, for example:

“Switch flows, I went over your head
I was told that it was over for Fred
Like Peyton; now they pay ’em side-by-side, collateral
Get it? When you’re side-by-side you could lateral” – (“FatBoy Fresh Intro”) (2014)

Fred 2

Though his wittiness and deep metaphors are what he’s mainly known for, it’s not his only avenue. Fred is also good for those bangers. those speaker rattling drums and baseline that could knock the kit off a cheap Honda, underneath some next sounding synthesizer (Check “Headbanger” w/ Vado or “Quarter Past 3” for a couple pieces of evidence). Aside from that, Frederico also has the ability to articulate personal life and get in-tune on some soulful ish. If that feel-it-in-the-gut (pause) real shit, is your style, you might want to check Fred’s “Contraband” (2013) tape, which was mainly handled by the legendary Heatmakerz behind the boards. “Contraband” is the project that establishes Fred as not only a rapper with bars, or the ability to dress the street life up in slick metaphors, but also as an artist with a deeper level of substance and content. Most rapper’s who channel a more emotional side for records, will sacrifice their lyrical ability to get a feeling across, while Fred finds a balance even at his most soulful.

This old head was just stopping by
Said I made a difference, I never knew I ever stopped to try
He referred to the years that he watched me cry
Now my watch just make him wanna watch and cry
This is real shit it’s for my man
His little sister got killed shit, shit we had to deal with
So fuck these labels, and fuck who I gotta deal with
Just let these rappers know I’m a problem they gotta deal with” (“Alpha“)(2013)

fred 4

To better understand Fred The Godson, he dishes out “Sessions” on YouTube, in which he spits certain verses acapella, in hopes that it will be easier to grasp for even the most average of listener, class in session. When he’s not doing that, he’s destroying-and-rebuilding someone else’s shit, almost as a marketing scheme for himself. Whether it be something of Drake’s (“Draft Day“), or Jay’s (“Picasso Baby“), any trending-but-dope piece of production can get it. Gordo (another one of his AKA’s) has mainstream appeal, but may just be a little too clever for his own good. Listeners these days are used to being spoon fed and when someone is too hard to understand, they just give up and listen to someone like Trinidad James (No disrespect), Dr.Seuss simple on a club shaking beat. That’s why you really have to respect someone like Jay-Z, whose mastered the art of complex simplicity, hiding the real meaning of a metaphor under a strategically pieced together, more simplistic bar. That’s how you appeal to the average listener, and the avid hip hop fan all at the same damn time, and Fred is smart enough to find his place in that lane. All I’m saying is if you have appreciation for the craft, give the BX native a listen…

Sidebar: Fred The Godson, once just went by the name “Fred”, untill his doctor, who didn’t believe he could successfully put on a show with severe asthma and kidney issues, went to see him and realized he could perform flawlessly regardless. She told him that he’s like the son of God up there, hence “the Godson”, cool story bro.

fred
                                                                                         Honorable mention from the X: The Kid Daytona

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