Monday, February 28, 2011

Unearthed: Eminem's Drug Laced Unreleased Sessions

Nine tracks previously unreleased by Eminem have been unearthed. The tracks seem to feed the narrative of where Slim Shady was at mentally around 2007-2009: teaching himself to rap once again, hooked on pharmaceutical drugs ranging from muscle relaxers to Clonopin, ruminating about his own craziness (nothing new for him but to a degree that is unusual), mourning his best friend Proof, obsessing over his childhood and in the midst of making uncharacteristic diss songs at rap heavy hitters like Jay-Z, Lil Wayne and Kanye West.

As one of the most successful rappers of all time, Eminem is inevitably going to have a biopic made about him. Sure, there is already 8 Mile but that film was tame and made with his own consent. It overemphasized things to his narrative advantage (like growing up in a trailer, which he didn't) and didn't explore less congenial things like drug addiction, the inner workings of the rap industry, his broken marriage, his three daughters or the beef between his record label, Shady Records, and The Source magazine. These songs will honestly provide a really good asset for whoever writes that screenplay. Here goes the Jigga and Yeezy dissing lyrics off of his "Get Money" freestyle, which used the beat of 50 Cent's "I Get Money:"

They keep on sayin’ the same rappers are the best
Jay-Z and Kanye West, maybe they’re just tryna distract it
From the fact that I’m comin’ back
Or maybe it’s cause I ain’t black, maybe it’s because of that
Maybe it’s because I’m the highest sellin’ artist in rap
While I’m sittin’ back in my office jackin’ off to my plaques

It goes on:

I’m the best thing that ever happened to rap, bastards
I’m a blonde Dre, now gimme Kanye’s glasses!

It's a pretty terrible song, honestly, and it's no surprise that it never saw the light of day. It's easy to imagine that the Eminem rambling on that track was overweight and trying to keep himself from stuffing his face with food and drugs long enough to rap.

Songs like "Emulate," with Obie Trice, sound like they could have been really good if put more effort into. Obie and Eminem have alot of synergy and the verse that he spits is one of his better ones. It strangely is placed twice in the song instead of any chorus and Eminem once again sounds like he's about to collapse from drugs. "G.O.A.T.," like "The Game," is just Eminem trying to assert to himself more than anyone else that he is still worth listening to. "Wee Wee" is another exercise in cartoonish child rambling: humorous, addictive but totally pharmaceutical inspired.

The passion is really only present in his song "The Apple." In that song, Eminem admits fully that he is "off his rocker" but then goes in to the full detail of why that's the case. He illustrates his family history - a drug addicted mother who claims he had a sister who fell out of the window when they were living in the projects in Missouri, when he attests they never lived in Missouri, and how his uncle was stabbed while trying to find Marshall's bicycle. It's actually one of his better songs and would have added the personal touch to Relapse.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Introducing Joel Perez

If I have this right, Joel Perez is from Providence, Rhode Island and have several mixtapes available for free download. They've been pushing their album on Brother Ali's Facebook page and I hope it's working for them.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

JFK Flying Down

An article ran today on the rapper JFK, based out of Seattle, in Earthwalkers Magazine. JFK is one half of the duo Grayskul, alongside Onry Ozzborn (who also has a new album out) and has been doing hip-hop in the Northwest for a long time. I've met him on numerous occasions at concerts and have seen him once or twice feeding his children at restaurants, where I didn't approach him out of basic respect for him and his child. I hope the article lifts his profile among an international audience:

Jeffrey Bautista, best known as JFK (Jeff the Filipino Kid) and nickname, Ninja Face, has been a lasting presence in the Pacific Northwest's hip-hop scene for several years. He started within the Northwest artistic collective, Oldominion, and eventually teamed up with fellow rapper Onry Ozzborn to form the rap duo Grayskul. As Grayskul they toured nationally through the United States and released two albums on the independent hip hop record label, Rhymesayers, based out of Minnesota.

Hip hop has taken him all over the world. He started touring in 1999 and has been throughout Europe, collaborating with artists such as Picos Pardos of Spain.

Performing overseas with artists from varying cultures and regional backgrounds has achieved resonance with JFK. "It's awesome to work with artists outside of the States. It's a good way to promote music that way. I hope to work with more artist oversees," he said. "The best party of touring to me is being able to share your music with people all over the map and being able to travel to cities you've never been to or to revisit other cities."

JFK is also a father and has full time job outside of music. He admits his lifestyle is strenuous and trying. "It's not all fun and games like most would think, just imagine late nights and early morning driving every day out of the week for a month straight. Having to be in a new city every night is very exciting but it's a lot of work."

To put things in perspective, last summer JFK released his solo album, Building Wings On The Way Down. It was time to tell his story.

With a solo effort, JFK said he was able to really let loose with his own persona. "I had an opportunity to tell my story. I had a lot on my chest that I needed to get off and this record was a perfect way to do so. I wanted to make my record in an autobiographic fashion, [with] more storytelling style to get the listener to follow," he said. Songs from Building Wings On The Way Down, retrace significant phases and experiences in JFK's life that have led him to his current state of mind. While working on his solo album, he had the liberty to say what he wanted to say and express himself by sharing experiences that he wasn't able to when he had to share an album with other artists.

As much output as JFK has put with recordings, and he has done a lot, he attests that performing is his first joy. "I love to perform. I like being on stage performing whatever – solo material, group material, I guess I just like the attention. I've worked hard to create music and I love it when it is appreciated." With a masterful flow and verbal linguistic capability, it's no wonder that he likes to show it off.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Country Music + Rap = Secret Soulmates Part One

To anyone who is a connoisseur of both rap and country music, the similarities of rap and country should be no surprise. Both unapologetically portray worlds that hum below the mainstream of American society (but nevertheless make the force felt): one being the largely African American and Hispanic lower to middle class and the other America's rural and largely blue collar whites. Both are flat out honest in their music, one will show you the rough, money, sex and power pursuing world of the inner city and the other will show you the same in the country.

Both communities are conservative, God fearing and honest. Due to racial, cultural and geographical differences, the two communities don't cross over much. I mentioned this to a girl I dated years back (who was black, incidentally) and she said that, as much as they hate each other, they cross over in sporting events like Oakland Raiders games or professional wrestling events.

I'm not the first to recognize this similarity. Just about every white rapper has tapped in to the cultural similarities. Kid Rock merged rap with blue collar flag waving in order to deem himself an "American Bad Ass." Everlast took up the blues and helped make Fenders and Casios friends. Brother Ali echoes Everlast's gospel style in his songs, complete with guitar use. Eminem, in his more sentimental moods, frequently samples Ozzy Osbourne, Queen and Aerosmith, stalwarts of any suburban rock station. Meanwhile, Mos Def and Pharoahe Monch have brought gospel and blues beautifully into their work and Kid Cudi has sang acoustic ballads.

Yelawolf, an up and coming Alabama rapper of mixed white and Cherokee ancestry, showed working class unity in his video "Kickin." The song is not his best work (though it is good) but shows a great panorama of skateboarders, rednecks, police, Atlanta rappers and even a guy in a sombrero with none of it being awkward:

Now that's really multiculturalism.

Let's do a little compare and contrast. Here's Lightning Hopkins sing about that tried and true scenario: you make a good home for a woman, then they up and leave.

Now let's turn around and look at Mos Def, singing about a pretty ghetto gangsta woman:

Next comes Yelawolf, once again, with his song "Break the Chain," which samples Fleetwood Mac. The chorus, "Alabama dirt road, Dixie flags fly," is sung flawlessly over synthesizers, drums and chopped up Fleetwood Mac samples in one of the best steps at connecting the worlds of country and classic rock to the, at first glance, far different world of rap.

The similarities between the two genres, from gun loving to blues over women and a general embrace of masculinity, are so strong that this "Secret Soulmates" column will have to be a regular feature of the blog. I can already think of more than a few songs and artists that would work well in the next rendezvous.

Great Gatsby to Kanye to Dickens

Kickstarter, groundbreaking crowdsource independent funding site, has achieved funding for the NovelPoster project. It celebrates the "evolution of writing" creating word-image posters featuring the whole text of five great novels or five semi-legible ultra-popular twitter accounts. This puts Kanye West in the company of, yet again, Charles Dickens.

Such lines still fill Blood Is One's memory: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times;" "fur coats and shit"

Yeah, Shaq's on there. Notable neglect of his hiphop legacy.

Tyler the Cr...Creator?

Has Eminem finally pressed psychological-trauma to the fore? 19-year-old LA up'n'comer Tyler the Creator's content flow is off-putting as it is addicting. Blood Is One hasn't seem him live, but the kid seems to know how to play an audience.

Art Blakey, Twitter and Journos

I want to thank Will Pierce for finding this gem. I never would have heard of it otherwise.

In other news, Blood Is One is now on Twitter. We've added a "Best Of Blood Is One Journalism" so that you don't lose track of our fantastic essays on the art of music from all our bloggity nonsense.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Eminem ft. B.o.B - Things Will Get Worse (Snippet)

Brother Ali, Rhymefest and Political Activism

Following is video of Brother Ali speaking on rapper Rhymefest's political activism. The video was put together by the website Speaking on it for his Facebook profile, Ali said, "It was amazing to see Rhymefest's leadership in his community and the show was really fun."

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Brother Ali - Real As Can Be

I finally went and out and bought Brother Ali's EP/DVD The Truth Is Here. He put the album Us afterward but The Truth Is Here has a full concert DVD included. I'm making the album available through the Amazon to the right.

Yelawolf - Good To Go

The first video release by "Eminem's replacement" since his signing to Shady Records:

How Far Has Mississippi Come?

From Dr. Jay's:

Having been born and raised in Mississippi (and living here currently), I’ve been able to experience both the good and bad of it. The good: There are a lot of friendly, courteous, and hospitable people that you can actually get to know (because the pace here is not nearly as fast as that of the rest of the world, although we are getting there). The bad? The state has a past steeped in racism as dark as the skin of its victims. Many Mississippians like to argue we’ve come a long way since then, but just about every time they say that, something happens to let the state and the rest of the world know we have not yet come far enough.

Case in point? The now-freed Scott sisters—who certainly wouldn’t have ever been sentenced to life for an armed robbery where no one was hurt—and probably never would have been charged if they weren’t sistas.

We now have another example of racism rearing its ugly head. This time, it’s in the form of a license plate. That’s right, an interest group known as the Sons of Confederate Veterans is looking to honor oneNathan Bedford Forrest—the first grand wizard of the KKK and a Confederate military leader who many believe led the massacre of black Union soldiers at Fort Pillow in 1864—with a state license plate.

When asked about this plan, Gov. Haley Barbour spoke up and said the plate would not happen. However, when asked to denounce the group and the man they chose to honor, Mr. Barbour refused. Calling Forrest a historical figure, Barbour went on to say, “I don’t go around denouncing people.”

Especially not people that make up a large part of the presidential hopeful’s constituency. Truth be told, we realize when some pundit or talking head takes it too far (which is nearly everyday now) that there is a political market for hate and racism. That market will certainly play in Barbour’s favor, and he’s not looking to part with or anger that crowd, nor has he ever been.

As far as the “historical figure,” Nathan Bedford Forrest has already been honored by the state, having Forrest County named in his honor (the university I attend and am typing this post from is within that county). Why does he need to be further honored? Toward the end of his life, Forrest had a change of heart (of sorts) as far as his beliefs on racism and made a speech addressing a black audience in which he told of his desire for peace between the races, a fact that those who seek to honor the man would most likely point out.

However, when the same argument is made about Malcolm X, who first sought separation of blacks from whites but changed his view after a pilgrimage to Mecca, those who oppose his message choose only to see what he did for the lion’s share of his career as what defines him. Add to that the fact that Malcolm X never killed or massacred anyone, and it becomes clear that who we choose to honor usually has little to do with how honorable they actually are, and more to do with whether or not we agree with their respective causes.

In Mississippi, many like to say we’ve come a long way since incidents such as the deaths of Emmett Tilland Medgar Evers. If we’d spend as much time making the journey as we tend to do talking about it, our actions and attitudes would speak for themselves.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Eminem - Syllables [ Official Music ] 2011

I Smell What The Rock Is Cooking

What with all the Eminem coverage we've done with the launch of this blog, this next video I post will just reinforce even more that this blog is relishing in a bit too much early 2000s nostalgia. It's more than natural for people to do this as they get older, however, and it's not like kids these days like anyone as entertaining as Marshall Mathers or Dwayne Johnson. (Old man alert!)

Here is The Rock, back in the world of professional wrestling and every bit as electrifying as ever. I smell what he's cooking!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Alchemist - Chemical Warfare Ft Eminem - #4 Chemical Warfare

Some of Marshall Mathers' wackier verses. For anyone who still thinks he's a homophobe, take into account his verses about "playing dick swords with the Jonas Brothers." He's out there and on another planet.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Das Racist - I'm So Wavy Video

This is the best rap video ever made. They're going to get an Oscar for this. No joke.

Pharoahe Monch - New World Symphony

A-Game for both Pharoahe and the producer Kanye West. Both are on fire.

Wow, so I just looked it up and this song was put out back in 2005. Chances are it didn't get publicized enough so I'm keeping the post up. While we're on the subject of Pharoahe, his album is being dropped in the United Kingdom first and reviews are already up:

W.A.R. isn’t like any emotionally charged album, as it is fuelled with the immense lyrical product of Pharoahe and brilliant production credits from an array of new and established beatmakers, including Exile, Marco Polo, M-Phazes, Samiyam and Diamond D. Even when adopting the cliched ‘pulpit rapping’ formula on ‘Let My People Go,’ Monch delivers remarkably with organs and signature choir to back him up.

Guests on board come at no surprise as the more introspective collection of Styles P, Little Brother’s Phonte and Jill Scott all provide further recollections for the Pharaohe’s enriching concepts. Even when returning to slap emcees upside the head on ‘Assassins’, the former Organized Konfusion spitter rains in on the onslaught alongside Jean Grae and Royce Da 5’9″ who literally crashes into the track.

Along with Royce on his new album, Pharoahe Monch also had Mr. Porter doing production for his last album Desire and appeared on Slaughterhouse's first album, so he seems pretty well tapped into the Detroit scene. Someone should call up Marshall Mathers and tell him to sign Pharoahe. He would be great alongside Slaughterhouse, Yelawolf and Eminem.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Yelawolf On White People And The N-Word

"Be respectful and don't drop the N-Bomb," Yela added. "White boys out there dropping the N-Bomb, stop, please. You'll never, ever, ever be able to say it. It's never going to be cool, just stop. Don't drop it in your music, don't drop it around people, don't drop it to me on Twitter. I see those white boys on Twitter dropping the N-Bomb on me and I'm like, 'Dude? I'm not even gonna respond to you.' Like, chill out. You're never that cool." (XXL Mag)

Full, 100% agreement. If you're white, you're never going to fully understand the sting of that word. Don't be surprised when you get chewed out for it.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Nas + Damian Marley - Patience

This video is so epic and out there that there really isn't anything to say about it. Just watch it.

Yelawolf - The Next Great White Hope

Yelawolf just got signed along with the supergroup Slaughterhouse to Shady Records, the label that Eminem started and that launched the career of 50 Cent. The guy is really interesting - half Cherokee and a small town boy from Alabama who once lived in the Bay Area. Slaughterhouse is probably going to be pleasing to hip hop aficionados like yours truly but Yelawolf may actually bring in cross over appeal and wreak in alot of love from white people too scared to touch hip-hop that doesn't look like them.

Besides all that, Yelawolf is mad talented and has paid his dues with mixtapes like Trunk Musik, which is available to download free. His lyrical ability is proved by his ability to spit over the best tracks in hip hop canon, like in this Outkast/Mobb Depp compilation:

Yelawolf OutKast and Mobb Deep Freestyle from I'm Really Popular! on Vimeo.

Captain America TV Spot!

I have no complaints. This looks fantastic.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Pharoahe Monch - The Great Underrated Rapper

Pharoahe Monch is one of hip-hop's most underappreciated MCs. He launched into hip-hop as part of a group, tied along with Prince Po (whose career since has been even less eventful) in the group Organized Konfusion. Organized was brilliant. The samples were expertly done, the symmetry between Pharoahe and Po was near perfect when they were at their peak but then all of a sudden the gig was up. Pharoahe Monch ended up on Rawkus Records, where he recorded several songs with Mos Def and released an album called Internal Affairs, which led with the classic Godzilla sampling track "Simon Says:"

Yes, as you can tell by the full denim suit and the Timberlands, we're going back to the late 1990s. The song was alright and Pharoahe's humor seemed to make him enduring. A friend I introduced Pharoahe to described his flow as "a black Eminem," and with a knack for the humorous, the graphic, the uplifting and the depressing all in one schizophrenic package, the two certainly are very similar.

Like Eminem, Pharoahe took a really long sabbatical of eight years as Rawkus Records folded. A level of depression seemed to unfold on him as well, as the rapper does introduce in "Free," the first track of his 2007 album Desire, "I give birth to verses in churches with no confession, So please pardon my post-partum depression."

Desire was a fantastic album, which was underrated as the classic that it was. One of the most poignant tracks was "Push" - wherein Pharoahe unleashed in an epic gospel-tinged reassurance that even got him singing the words of the savior.

Pharoahe hasn't let up at all and has an upcoming album called WAR (We Are Renegades). The one track that he has released so far - "Shine" - is available to stream or purchase on the Amazon Affiliates widget to the right of this article. Here is him performing the song live in New York City:

Eminem Shows Up In Two Super Bowl Ads

In what seems to be an effort to make his public presence felt again after falling off the face of the earth for half a decade, rapper Eminem appeared in not one but two Super Bowl ads. Here's the one for Lipton Brisk Ice Tea:

This one is for Chrysler and takes on a completely different tone, wherein Eminem is seen driving a Chrysler through the streets of Detroit to the backdrop of "Lose Yourself" and a narrator voicing a Gil Scott Heron style narrative:

Gil Scott Heron has largely been forgotten by many so here's a little reminder:

And shit, while we're at it, here's some Eminem:

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The Zen of Primary Hip-Hop

Does it get better than My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy? Of course it does. What has it done to thump the world so deep?

Maybe it's the epoch of striking crossovers began by Walk This Way. 'Ye in his own brand of mastercraft motherfuckery has invited both autotuned neo-folkist Bon Iver(the hell else would you describe him?) for the single and Elton John for an almost-too-long-enough piano solo, placed carefully in front-center row, middle of nowhere. Takes balls. Much less to pull it off.

Sure it's a personal work, and the kid's tastes run diverse. But on a more meta level, the album's endearing- a telling and honest moment in mad respect for hiphop's origins.

Uniquely as a genre, hiphop developed sort of tangentially out of raw pop culture- elements of bebop, spoken word, jazz, irrelevant to try to list here- it never had the sort of cellular branching other forms of music had. Classical as we know it began as string trios, music on rails, rigid one-zero-one structure; unwilling to explore the glory it represented; and within a few hundred years, boom Tchaikovsky. Rock and roll roots in blues- man and guitar front porch- the same structures took decades to flesh out, and never entirely.

Hip hop for such a prime cultural creative force never had the same upbringing. It is the mutt of pop culture. Could you reverse-engineer it? Could you make an origin story, start over, reduce hip-hop to binary?

If not just as a genre but as an imposing influence on all what is, hiphop needs a reflection, a meditation on itself. What is essential about it- headphones in, streetlight, beat, texture- and no one does efficient, instrumental hiphop like Japan's DJ Krush.

His 1998 instrumental classic Kakusei and 1997 monolith Milight fulfill a loose basis for hiphop as binary language; touches on texture && open air all art needs, like the front por...fuck naw, the zen sand garden with churning Technic tables in place of a rake. Krush's collabs with rappers the world round about individualism, mourning and beyond have spun some of the most spectacular flows time's gifted the cold earth(including maybe my top 1 list). Get back.

Yeah, yeah, outside of pseudointellectual bullshittery and suchlike posturing, it has a place in the public thump- Lil' Wayne has been a timely surprise curator of primary hiphop with A Milli(that link is your licensed excuse to listen to it again you're welcome) and the surprise Six Foot Seven Foot; take one basic template, one unbroken flow, swing that shit where it belongs. I guess we're always about to find out where that is.

Glass half full / I'll spill ya

Oh, howdy. I'm Will. Elsewhere you can find me here. By the way you're going to want to bookmark Blood Is One or add us to your Google Reader and whatever. Things are happening.

Flashback: Soul Intent

Soul Intent was a hip-hop group from the early/mid-1990s that rapper Eminem was part of. This was well before the days that he was acknowledged as a battle rap champion or signed by the legendary Dr. Dre to Aftermath Records. I'd never actually heard any of the music and didn't even know it was recorded but somehow happened upon it while searching randomly on YouTube. It's straight b-boy ish:

Kanye West Samples Aphex Twin

It's not unusual for hip-hop phenom Kanye West to sample varying genres, but it really threw me for a loop to find out that he had sampled electronica legend Aphex Twin. The song in which he samples Aphex Twin is a pretty chill one with a fairly simple piano loop as a backdrop:

It's certainly not akin to some of the work Aphex Twin is most famous for, like "Come To Daddy" or the infamous "Windowlicker," which has been described as sounding like "robots having sex:"

Well, the song that West sampled is called "Avril 14th." It was released on his 2001 album Drukqs:

Multiple Skin Tones, The Blood Is One

Welcome to the first post for The Blood Is One, a hip-hop enthusiast blog.

The genesis of the blog was when my friend Will Pierce sent me a comic book themed song that pitted the world of comic books against the most famous rappers in the game:

I listen to alot of hip-hop and have written professionally about rappers and rap groups for Seaspot magazine and Earthwalkers Magazine. I had never heard what he sent me before. I figured that he would be as damn good of a partner in something like this as anyone else.

Neither of us look like rap guys and if you visit either of our Twitter accounts (@mopowell and @greatistheworld, respectively), that vibe will likely not translate. Nevertheless, I think and hope that we will provide a service to our readers in exploring all facets of the genre and bringing to light untapped gems and new talents. We may cross into other genres because we're like that. I'll be starting this out on Blogger and may choose a new platform if things work out well. Likewise I will recruit more people to the blog if things work out.

I've created an e-mail account for this blog at If you want to contact us, you can leave a comment or send something there.