Mom’s Spaghetti #1

New Favorite Rappers

Top Left: CRIMEAPPLE, Top Right: El Camino, Bottom: Lou The Human

My job isn’t to convince you that I have good taste in music. At this point, you should just trust my recommendations, and keep it pushing.  Here’s a new feature for 2018 (I know I’m early, I just wanted to get this first pack into your hands) called Mom’s Spaghetti. Three new rappers who can (and will) go bar for bar with your current favorite MC’s. Comment and let me know how this post changed your life.

CRIMEAPPLE: NJ is my least favorite state to drive through. Route 17 is a perpetual strip mall, and besides a White Castle and a few good diners it’s a land that I can do without. While I shit on Jersey in jest, it’s home to some of the greatest rappers of all time. Redman, Joe Budden (don’t @ me, Joey goes harder than any mumbling idiot on your Spotify playlist), Lauryn Hill, Naughty By Nature, GDP… the list goes on and on. Add CRIMEAPPLE to that mix. This kid is burning up right now on the strength of Metralletahis tremendous debut. He’s EL-P mixed with Roc Marciano. A thinker with limitless metaphors, unafraid to boast with the best of the East Coast newcomers. I’m ready for CRIMEAPPLE’S huge 2018.

El Camino: There’s no denying that Griselda Records completely dominated the game in 2017. Front man Westside Gunn is quietly quarterbacking a fucking movement, signing to Shady and putting out projects from Conway, Benny, and their newest soldier, El Camino, all while selling out drop after drop of fire merch. Camino’s a Baton Rouge kid who sounds like he’s used to hand to handing bags on the corner while trying to dig his car out of a Buffalo snow storm. He’s young and hungry and just as grimy as anything we’ve heard in NY in years. A perfect fit for the Grisela/Shady camp, be sure to check out his debut mixtape which features the late Prodigy as well as Conway and Westside Gunn. GxFR.

Lou The Human: Lou’s debut, the amazing Humaniac, leads off with back to back tracks which sample Wu Tang and DJ Shadow. I was hooked from that point on. This kid is a Staten Island menace who’s digested equal parts early Eminem and Tyler, the Creator to lay the foundation for his ‘go fuck yourself’ persona, translating beautifully in his controversially hilarious stream-of-conscious bars. He captures the sound of slowly losing your mind on wax that hasn’t been felt since we first caught wind of a bleach-topped Slim Shady many, many years ago. 2018 is Lou’s year. You’ve been warned, meet the new Rosanne.

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Everyday Struggle Without Joe? Simply the Struggle.

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Complex had a gold mine with Everyday Struggle. DJ Akademiks and Joe Budden brought separate crowds to an electric space each morning, and they put up NUMBERS. Ak was the new school kid championing the music that Budden considered trash, and the act was executed with perfection on a daily basis.

Complex is owned by Verizon, and Verizon isn’t down with abrasive Joe Budden. Negotiation time came and went and Joe didn’t budge, so Complex moved on without him. Colossal mistake on Complex’s end. Joe summed it up perfectly on his podcast last week. “The ad revenue bag with Joe and without Joe are two different bags”, and that’s the truth Ruth. Joe made the show move. Sure, Ak has his YouTube niche and he’ll keep that momentum whether Everyday Struggle lives or dies, but it was salty-ass old head Joe that gave the show it’s competitive edge. Corporate internet/TV/radio panders, and Joe didn’t pander to shit. Suits cannot stand behind the tattooed, loud, angry Black man, and Complex/Verizon proved it.

Quietly, Joe slid over to Revolt last week and filmed a ‘Year End’ special with Charlamagne and it was fire. If there’s one man who can capitalize on Complex’s loss it’s Diddy. Diddy’s made a career making the right move, and signing Joe Budden as a media personality this second is his best possible move. Joe would do nothing more than boost the popularity of Diddy’s network, which honestly hasn’t popped quite yet. Revolt is quietly doing its thing, but the network still left of the radar for most rap fans.

For me, Complex is a wrap. I subscribed to the Complex YouTube channel for two reasons. One was Everyday Struggle, and the other was to make Jaden Smith/Beija comparisons because I swear to God they’re the same person. Either way, it’s fuck Complex for waving it’s flag and proving once again that corporate America has its head completely up his ass.

Check out the clip below of Joe letting us know what really went down. All the man wanted was smoking lounge… Enjoy your New Year and party harder than you think you can.

 

Tis’ The Season

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It’s the tail end of 2017 and I’m feeling some type of way. This year has been productive even though this blog has slowed way down. I know there’s still plenty of traffic checking this site for new content and I didn’t work hard enough to find a balance that allowed me to post here a few times a week. In the meantime I had the opportunity to create for some new outlets in 2017 that delivered my work to massive audiences I likely wouldn’t have reached on my own.

While I’m not ungrateful for the chances I’ve had in 2017, I’m not holding my breath in 2018. There’s a certain restlessness that comes with being a writer. You put a piece together, you receive your edits, you tear it down and build it back up…then you wait.  And you wait.  And you wait.  Moving forward, features and interviews will be directly uploaded to this site. I’m also going to continue to share my fiction here. It’s not in my nature to sit around. Complacency makes me sick, so I’m not stashing ideas and waiting for phantom call backs. We’re cutting the Slack. We’re letting it rip.

If you’re a blogger or run a site and want some content, let me know. If you’re an artist and want your music/video featured here, reach out. If you’re a writer and want to collaborate on an idea, feature, or column, lets do it.

A huge thanks to my colleague Riley Wallace. He’s mentored me this year and helped me navigate the ins and outs of freelancing. He’s a real one. Read his words, they’re some of my favorites.

Lastly, my 2017 year end list isn’t necessary. Just listen to new music every week. My favorite record this year is Wiki’s No Mountains in Manhattan. Other favorite projects came from Your Old Droog, Meek, Stalley, Conway, Cyhi, Bronson, G-Eazy, Vince Staples, Oddisee, Joey Badass, Kendrick, Vic Mensa, Joyner Lucas, Hov, Dopplegangaz,  Sean Price, Dave East, Fab and Kiss, and Yelawolf.

All hail Black Thought. Philly wins again.

Thanks for rocking with me this year. Lets push things forward, it’s all love.

New Sounds: Words Hurt- Soul Music for the Soulless

Alaska and Lang Vo are Words Hurt. They met on Twitter. They fell in love through a chain of beautiful (since deleted) emails. And now they make cerebral hip hop music for you to run errands to. I suppose you could fight to it, or possibly cook dinner while it’s playing? Either way, Soul Music for the Soulless is grown up rap for fans of stinging word play and hard beats.

You’ve read my gripes about how “overwhelming” it is to keep up on new music these days. I have a solution. Don’t waste energy with all that unnecessary pressure. Instead, listen to this for a few weeks and simply skip all the mediocre bullshit vying for your time.

Grab the album for $7, you cheap shit heads.

And here’s a video of their last full length for your pleasure.

New Music. Old Habits.

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Music is in a peculiar space. There’s an over abundance of new shit and it’s overwhelming. Every day there’s another project to check out. A few times a week SoundCloud links hit my inbox. I scroll through Spotify’s new release page three times a day. I’m surrounded by music, but it’s all starting to blur.  It’s a necessary pulse and it beats whether you’re listening or not.

Like an obedient Millenial, I watch a lot of Viceland. I’m mainly interested in how many times Desus & Mero mention the Yankees and their 27 World Championships (11 of which were won when black athletes weren’t able to play in the league), and how much food Action Bronson can cram into his face in a 30 minute clip. I watch the channel and I feel cool. Shout out to Spike Jonze for inspiring my fear of missing out. I happened to catch an episode of Desus & Mero last week which featured A Boogie, and I was fascinated. Here’s this young kid from the Bronx who seems to have his shit together. He was pretty mild-mannered and well-spoken. I found myself rooting for him; especially considering he’s part of a new school of Hip Hop kids that I cannot seem to get behind. And it’s not even that it matters whether I get behind them or not, but more so that I find some level of comfort with the changing of the guard. But that discussion is old hat at this point. As old hat as using the phrase ‘old hat’ while typing on a WordPress blog.

A day or two later I read (and watched clips) of A Boogie and his people stomping the shit out of Lil B behind the curtains at the Rolling Loud Festival. Weird, right? Some violent shit happened at a festival called ‘Rolling Loud’? I was shocked too. So A Boogie et al handed Lil B his ass, and the rap world rallied like Boogie and his people were from hostile Germany. When did people get so far up their own asses that they actually believe they’re part of some Based World where Lil B is above getting beat the fuck up? Boogie’s Bronx stomping rightfully leveled him up. I streamed his debut record that night, and I didn’t hate it. I’d praise it more, but I can’t.

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That’s where I’m at with Hip Hop in 2017. It’s my life, and I don’t hate it. Embracing this wave of pitch controlled rappers who sing (thanks Drake) is necessary if you want to keep sane. And if I can’t get through a few of these records without losing interest or dry heaving, I’m afraid I’ll end up like Joe Budden…beard and all. My biggest fear is being 45 and still preaching to kids about the undeniable brilliance of DJ Premier.

Instagram introduced me to Ezri, and after a little research and a terrific video for “Be Right Back”, I was enthralled. Maybe his EP would be that new shit I had been missing out on. I mean, he’s young, he’s gifted, he’s fucking with Mass Appeal. I honestly thought I found my rap cure for what ailed me.

 

Honestly, I could barely finish the EP. It’s not good and it proves that Nas is a fucking genius. “Be Right Back” paints the picture of a young Kendrick, or Lupe, or Royce poised to leap into the game. It’s jam packed with bars and soulful introspection. It’s what I wishfully expect to hear when someone says “new rapper”. Then you press play and you hear precisely what a new rapper actually sounds like in 2017. It’s generic. It’s fashion rap. It’s expensive belt buckles and double cups. It sounds nothing like the single, which is more of a testament to the power of marketing than it is to the notion that quality matters. I honestly had to just get up and check the mirror for that creeping cheek beard just now, I felt my inner Budden bubbling up.

Taking a sharp left turn; Yelawolf released his long-awaited Trial By Fire on Friday. It’s way more focused than Love Story, but more of the same and a bit of a grind if you can’t follow his country-punk-hip hop logic. But I have to give it to this guy, his brand is strong, and there’s no one remotely like him. If he’d give the Kid Rock features a rest, he’d probably get a bit more shine. Nerd talk, the sequencing of the album makes sense. It simmers and by the time you cross the midway point, if you’re still on board, you’ll find yourself fully immersed in the mind of a man coming out the other side of a nasty alcohol addiction.

I’m also spinning the literal fuck out of the new King Krule record, as well as Conway’s latest tape. If you’re old like me and give a shit about the rapping for sport and you haven’t been paying attention to Conway, Gunn, and Benny…shame on you. What are you listening to? Comment and tell me what to do, and no matter what happens tonight, enjoy the rest of October you filthy animals.

Hot Take: Melo’s Escape From New York

I’m in the market for a #7 Thunder jersey this season.  The thought of rocking that baby blue rag on my back makes me sick, but what’s a guy to do? Carmelo Anthony was traded from NY to OKC for pennies on the dollar last week, and my sporting heart is broken to pieces.

The Knicks have been on a downward slide since their trip to the finals when I was 16, so Melo was truly a pleasure watch year after year. Sure, the front office was a mess. The head coach was nothing but a puppet for that old pot head Phil Jackson to jerk around, and the talent pool was severely lacking until the Latvian Unicorn came to town. But the constant every year in Manhattan was #7 tossing in three’s from 40 feet away.

Real talk, I enjoyed Melo’s unabashed chucking. He can splash it from anywhere on the court.  Piss poor defense and all he’s the reason the Knicks won a handful of games the last few seasons. But with all the scoring gone, what’s next for Gotham’s beloved squad of perpetual losers? I’ll tell you. We got younger bringing back Timmy Hardaway Jr., drafting rookie PG Frank Ntilikina, and standing behind Porzingis’ choice to get stronger by playing European ball all summer. We brought in some veteran knowledge in Jarrett Jack and Mike Beasely. Joakim Noah’s old ass is apparently healthy in the front court, and the Melo trade brought in Doug McDermott and Enes Kanter along with a second round draft pick. Youth is apparently the angle heading into this season.

I predict our boys will win 28 games. No playoffs. Double digits assists from Frank Ntilikina and healthy scoring from Hardaway on a nightly basis. A few highlights a game and a shit load of turnovers. Many depressing post-game discussions between Alan Hahn and Wild Wally, and tickets available for the cheap.

I have the NBA league pass, so expect me to stream plenty of Thunder games in the privacy of my living room while a shy tear streams down my cheek every time Melo The God cashes it from deep. I love you Carmelo, no matter what the NY media says…

Hand Styles

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It’s fall fam. Welcome back.

Summer writing was plentiful. Lots was said, some was published, some went to the stash. All in all, it was a much needed return to the pen for your boy.

Most importantly, I was able to get my first few pieces published at hiphopdx.com. I’m working with Riley Wallace, a fantastic writer from Toronto, on an editorial column called “5 Chances To Convince Me”. I guess I’ve become the Joe Budden of the blog world with this one. Riley tosses out five reasons I should hop on board with a popular or polarizing artist (think Wale, Lil B, Uzi). My job is to concede his points or stand my ground. Since I rarely run out of shit to talk, I do just fine.

I also wrote a few reviews and an interview for Above Average Hip Hop. I have total creative freedom over there, so it’s a pleasure to put words together for those guys. This weekend I’m finishing a fantastic interview with Rude Jude Angelini from Shade 45 ahead of his new book Hummingbird, which releases on September 19th. That should be published by Tuesday afternoon.

The most rewarding project I got around to was outlining my next novel and completing the initial five chapters. I’m taking my time in order to nail the nostalgic feel of the 90’s, but I’m not sitting on it like I did with The Electric Confessional, my first book which took way too many years to “complete”. The shit still isn’t done, even though the last page says …the end. There’s no such thing as done. Revision is life, but it can also drive you insane.

I’m back to work. Back to the gym. Back to reality. Stay tuned for more.