Monday, December 17, 2012

Stuck In My Head – Black Vikings - Immortal Technique feat. Poison Pen, Styles P., Vinnie Paz

Goddamn this song makes me want to break something!

If you want to know what separates believable MC’s from “we don’t believe you, you need more people”, listen to this song.   It’s conviction.  That’s what makes a good writer, a good rapper, or a good anything.   This joint is a study in conviction and who’s believable.

Cause let’s be honest, when Technique says “skin, wear wolves and rape demons at midnight…” I believe him.  Now Styles P., who is a dope MC in his own right, when he tries to match Tech in bloody savage talk, it’s decent, the flow is on point, the rhymes are nice, but it kinda feels like he’s not quite in his lane. Part of it is just Styles is kind of a laid back MC and it just doesn’t fit the beat. Vinnie Paz drops a decent verse at the end to finish things off nicely.  Paz is one of those dudes who, when he’s on the right beat, can be just as powerful as Tech, but as is his tendency, he gets into a weird mixture of hardcore street  shit, and apocalyptic, metaphysical weirdness. 

I interviewed Tech once a long time ago.  He’s just as passionate in person as he is on record.  He’s the kind of MC you might not agree with, but the sheer force of his personality and conviction make all the ridiculous shit he says not out of the realm of possibility.

Of course none of that would matter if the beat didn’t match the lyrics, it feels huge, impending doom, a mix of murderous drums, tense violins, and ominous horns.

You can download this joint, along with the rest of the songs from Tech's latest mixtape The Martyr here.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Stuck In My Head – Public Enemy “Harder Than You Think”

First time I heard this, it was the trailer background music for Ice-T’s Art of Rap documentary, it blew my mind.  Soul samples, especially those gorgeous, triumphant, horn loops (like Jay-Z’s “Encore”) are my musical crack.

But the two things elevate this from a decent hum along song into something I can’t get out of my head.  First I never really saw Chuck D as a lyricist.  Not that he was wack, but he was never a guy who had me hitting rewind and dissecting his verses.  But there are some incredible lines in this song.  

Rolling Stones of the rap game not braggin/Lips bigger than Jagger not saggin’/ spell it backwards I’mma leave it at that/ that ain’t got nothin’ to do with rap

Plus his flow is kind of complex.  There are bars where he’ll spit multisyllabic, and then move back to a simpler rhyme structure for the following bar.  It happens a few times, and the interesting effect is that it makes him sound like he’s rapping faster in some parts than he is in others even though he isn’t.  Auditory illusion.  Chuck D is dope like that.

The other thing is the tone of the record.  This is an older, calmer version of Chuck D than the young angry revolutionary.  Not that it blunts his edge, he’s still angry, still revolutionary, just sharper and more focused.  There’s a mix of gratitude for having made it as far as he has, frustration because the problems he was dealing with in the beginning are still prevalent, and anger because some new ones have popped up.  But it’s just so damn catchy. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Stuck In My Head

Yeah, basically this will be a series of me obsessing over songs.  Stuff that gets stuck in my head, stuff I put on repeat a dozen times when it comes on.  Songs I listen to that make me wish that 90% of the rappers out now would listen to, develop overwhelming shame at the wack shit they put out, and stop rapping.

So...first up:

Sean Price – Straight Music from the LP Mic Tyson

This has been on repeated repeat since I got my hands on Price’s Mic Tyson album. Part of it’s the beat, hypnotic, a little ominous; it’s late night under a streetlight music and not too surprisingly – given how much work he’s done with the Duck Down fam, produced by 9th Wonder. 9th has a talent for providing the kind of moody, grimy background the Duck Down kids sound good over and this one nails it.
“Stuck in a jam 
Why you wanna fuck with me fam
I’m tryin’ to live a square life you wanna fuck up my plan
Under a bus? Fucker I’ll throw you under a van
Throw the van in reverse and then I’ll do it again”
So cold! Those first two bars set tone. Part of what you have to dig about Sean P is that he isn’t your typical money ‘n’ hoes asshole rapper. He’s not stunting, he’s not bragging on his jewelry, he’s not talking about his car. He just wants you to know two things:
1) Leave him alone. He just wants to make his music, sit back and chill with his family. It’s that old bit of wisdom that the most dangerous guy in the room is the one who just wants to be left alone, and you’re fucking with him.
2) He’s nice. He’s real fucking nice. He’s so nice, if he gets on a track with you, you are not going to be friends anymore cause you’ll get murdered on your own shit.
This is grown up rap. This is almost-40-and-still-ill-music. The kind of shit that hip hop needs to bridge that gap and answer the question of what happens when rappers get past their wild youth. The voice and flow meet the beat and ride through your eardrums down through your soul. It’s hip hop at its finest and if you don’t like it, there’s something wrong with you.

Friday, October 26, 2012

New Phase

Hello all.

I have really wanted to rejuvenate Blood Is One for about the last year or so. I experienced a personal mental breakdown as a result of a whole bunch of factors and as a result the blog got set aside. I didn't really know what to do with it since then. For the first time in a long, long time, I was at a loss for words.

I am not that comfortable with the title anymore. The title was meant to talk about racial unity ("Multiple skin tones, the blood is one" is from a Pharoahe Monch song) but I've found when I've directed people to the site, they think it means something violent. During my breakdown, I saw dogs die, saw and found myself acting weird, violently and genuinely thought that I might die. I was going really crazy. I don't want to be affiliated with anything like that. Nevertheless, we are stuck with the title due to having the domain name locked on. Not much I can do to change it now.

One of the writers I have slated for the blog in its new phase (which I'm slowly building in to - nothing fast here) is a guy named Keith Ancker. Keith knows me from a long time back - we're very good friends. He has been involved in hip-hop for a very long time. We'll get more people on here slowly - the updates may be slow and sporadic.

Thank you for reading, everybody.