Monday, December 9, 2013

R.I.P. Byrdie

Originally posted at So Much Good Music: 

 While most of the world was talking about the loss of actor Paul Walker, something happened that was, for me at least, closer to home. I'm connected to a lot of the Seattle hip-hop world and my work with Seaspot Magazine was probably the most seminal and important work I have done. It brought me the connections I have now. I had to double check a few times to make sure the horrible news was true and my old connections confirmed it.

 Seattle hip-hop legend Byrdie left us.

 It really pains me to hear that we have lost him and that his career did not explode as it should have. When he launched his debut album, I wrote a snarky review for a school newsletter that was sarcastic about his work. I was young and ignorant and disrespectful, as one would expect. Byrdie deserves a whole lot more than that. At the time, in 2004, Byrdie was going against the flow. Seattle hip-hop had not taken off as Macklemore has made it do - he put quite a bit of confidence in to the art and really broke new ground.


 Resources on Byrdie on the internet are unfortunately scarce. The Stranger wrote that he died from complications from a long bout of cancer. Here is one of his most famous songs, which I was able to find after alot of searching:


 A little bit more - here is him with Reggie Watts:

  Another link - him on KUBE 93. Notice that the announcer are saying they had "never" done a "local cut" from an artists before, back in 2001. Sir Mix A Lot was the only rapper to break through to the mainstream world from Seattle. Before Macklemore, being a rap artist from Seattle was like trying to push a massive boulder up a hill. If you have newer music or more information I could post, please let me know. Rest in peace, brother.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Aquino - All My Life

Dyllyn Greenwood is a budding Seattle rapper and filmmaker and seems to be grinding his filmmaking teeth a little more than his rapping teeth of late. Everything here has classic rap video in it. Dyllyn's circular camera shots are classic in old school rap videos and the "on the street" shots of all the members flow together well and lend authenticity.

While not nearly as deep, alot of it reminds me of the video for Jake One's "Home." Aquino is the third rapper in this video. Everyone else is folks in his circle. I look forward to hearing more.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Thaddeus David Review!!

I have a new review up at

ART-Thaddeus-David-Moor-Than-Less-SCP02-590x590My first thought, Thaddeus sounds a lot like Drake, if I had to make a comparison. Part of the strongest parts of Thaddeus' MoorThanLess album is that it has a very mixtape sound, with freestyle verses over fast handclaps and sound effects. After the harder hitting intro track "VADO," Thaddeus really channels Drake with "RFC" (the beat even sounds a whole lot like Drake's "Pound Cake," complete with atmospheric synths). That general sound continues on with "Prodigy" - Thaddeus is providing some good vibe music with head nodding lyrics. That's not to say that MoorThanLess is backpack rap -"SBOE" could easily become regular rotation at the Nectar. Thaddeus' lyrics aren't really exceptional but they are suitable and his production is above average. For a newcomer, Thaddeus is exceptionally good at creating a sound that blends with one another well - "Personal Party" continues the Drake like atmosphere sound. Over, MooreThanLess is a really good start in what will likely become a healthy and robust wave of new rappers from the Seattle rappers - the sort of creative output that New York and LA have always enjoyed. Thaddeus has already gained recognition from Respect Magazine for this project - we'll see where it goes.  

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Art Of Sampling Part Four: Bach and Rammstein's Opera

I'm not going to write a whole lot for this one but I wanted to continue the series I've done of "sampling" in music beyond hip-hop and electronic music and in to a realm most people may not be familiar with. Johann Sebastian Bach was obviously a very famous German composer and he has had a potent effect on music from Germany. The rock band Rammstein, which is very successful around the world, has very obvious Bach influences in their music. Take this Bach song "Wir haben Rast" (I'm not sure who is performing it):


 Now take Rammstein's "Roter Sand," one of the best examples:


 In addition to sounding like opera, most Rammstein videos have a set narrative. Alot of people have tried to do the "rock opera" - it really may be Rammstein who finally did it correctly.

Monday, October 21, 2013

How Gangsta Rap and Illuminati Poisoned Hip Hop

Another very interesting video - alot of forthright talk on hip-hop and the (d)evolution of hip-hop.

Rise of Conscious Hip Hop with Public Enemy

This is a very interesting interview - no commentary necessary.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Introducing Capriccio

One of the most interesting aspects about the growing Seattle hip-hop scene is an overall developing sound. Will all artists follow a darker, smarter approach to hip-hop like Grayskul or Macklemore have done or will they opt more for what has been done before? I recently got tapped in on a new local project - a rapper called Capriccio, whose work you can find on Soundcloud.

Capriccio fits with the overall Seattle sound (and his name also fits with one of the coffee capital's favorite beverages. On "Washington Ballad," his flow actually sounds a little bit like Oakland's Del tha Funkee Homo Sapien while the beat sounds quite a bit like Pale Soul or some of the Seattle/Portland crew Oldominion's earlier 2000s work.

 One of my favorite songs on here is "Asshole." If Seattle is moving hip-hop in new directions, it will still adopt some of the old tough talk but in a more realistic manner. Very few of us are really living the shoot out gangsta lifestyle but more than a few of us are straight assholes. It's a trait that probably shouldn't be glamorized but should at least be acknowledged.

New Talib Kweli!

Talib Kweli is self publishing his next album. Kweli has been pushing forward with progressive hip-hop for fifteen damn years.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Raekwon and Lloyd Banks - Drop A Diamond

Given alot of the disclaimers on this website, I probably should avoid gangsta rap phenom Lloyd Banks. Probably. I should probably avoid Raekwon too, right? Nah - both are two of the best lyricists in hip-hop and together they sound fantastic. Lloyd Banks was on Raekwon's Shaolin Vs. Wu-Tang LP too. So good. Download it.

Elijah Woods Needs To Play Eminem In A Biopic

8 Mile was a somewhat inaccurate, limited kid's movie that didn't fully explore the strange psyche of Marshall Mathers. A biopic on Eminem will happen eventually and, if done in the next few years, the casting should be obvious. Elijah Wood:

Nuff said.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Art Of Sampling Part Three: Simple Imitation

In my previous post about sampling, I talked about blatant sampling - taking a loop from a song and using it as an element in your music. This is very common throughout hip-hop. Other sorts of imitation are just as blatant - covering is frequent throughout popular music.

What is most interesting is something else entirely - when an artist takes elements of songs and duplicates them in almost an identical style but with their own touch. Take this song, "Boadicea," by Enya, from the mid-1980s:

 Believe it or not Enya was original there. All she really does is hum over a synthesizer loop - not really an act of musical genius. However, Enya helped create an entirely new genre of new age with music like that. Loreena McKennit followed, Sarah Brightman, etc. What was really strange is when it popped up in music totally divorced from Enya's own world. Take this song by industrial genius Gary Numan:

It's pretty obvious that a strong Enya influence was powering Gary Numan when he recorded Exile. 

Song titles like "The Angel Wars" were like a dark variation of songs like "Storms in Africa." The churchbell sound in "Angel Wars" sounds like it could have been the work of Enya while the humming sounded as if Enya had gotten a shot of testosterone:


 It's interesting that people who have uploaded Gary Numan and Enya to YouTube have even used similar imagery. Of course, the hard guitars are something Enya would never do but Enya never would have rapped or dropped a drum beat, which The Fugees did when they sampled her for "Ready Or Not."

Gary Numan is still making music and his unique sound is everpresent but the imitation is still there - he sounds quite a bit like Nine Inch Nails these days. I'm not sure what Enya is up to.

Introducing GeeOne Griffin

You find out about new music randomly sometimes. I found out about the work of GeeOne from JFK Ninja Face's Facebook account - he had been posting Th3rdz material on his website. After talking to him, most of this is apparently freestyle material - rapping over beats already recorded and produced but the spitting is nonetheless high quality.

The Oldominion gothic rap style is pretty evident here - lyrics like "Solitude my logic is confined in a vortex/Silent suffer nights skeleton the closet forfeit next episodes of tyrannies." I'm not sure I can imagine that from another region. GeeOne is a rap transplant - he's actually pushing his rap project in Quazon City in the Phillipines. More power and good luck to him.

Pharoahe Monch - Damage

Pharoahe Monch is so brilliant. Oh my god. Whoever did the guitars on this knows what the hell they are doing. And if you don't really understand the message of this and think it's glorifying violence, listen to "When The Gun Draws." This is conscious rap at its finest.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

MGK Is Dope As Hell And You Should Be Optimistic About Hip-Hop

There's been a wave of new rappers in the last few years. The old guard has died away - guys like 50 Cent can't get any of the old momentum and Kanye West, while still prominent, doesn't get attention the way he used. All these new faces are diverse - Macklemore, Yelawolf, Kendrick Lamar and my favorite - MGK. Machine Gun Kelly.

MGK is ridiculous. The guy is 23 years old - four years younger than me, seven years younger than Macklemore and even younger than Yelawolf - but his music is stronger than either of them and deeper than anything I write. MGK knows what hip-hop is supposed to sound like - all of his beats have sounded like they could murder the best sub wofer. Check out "Chip Off The Block," the first track he came out with in the mainstream:


 MGK is tatted up and gruff - he's not apologizing. I'm sure his music will appeal to suburban white boys who would normally be scared of black music but his entourage in his video looks like hip-hop should. He's also prematurely balding which makes me like him alot. "Cleveland" was just as strong as "Chip Off The Block." The production is so stellar - using a distorted shout of "Cleveland!" with synths that progress in volume throughout the song - you can definitely feel MGK's passion and his love for his town:


 So at this point you know MGK can make bangers but any rapper can do that, right? Macklemore is big because he talks big issues - no other rapper or musician in any genre really took a hard stance in favor of gay marriage, talked bluntly about white privilege (at least in a mature tone) or addressed economic anxiety - all things Macklemore did with "Same Love," "White Privilege" and "Thrift Shop." Well check out out "Home Soon" with one lyric that really hit home:

 "Even with eighteen degrees you could be jobless with Uncle Sam in your pockets." 

 Shit. I guess we have moved past gangsta rap and in to brutally honest gangsta rap. I have a Bachelor's Degree and I do okay - I have money in my wallet but I have taken government benefits and not really found myself living the high life because of a degree. It was no guarantee of anything.

People say hip-hop is dead and there is certainly still alot of nonsense and crap in it but I think alot of this new crop shows a level of consciousness, clarity and intelligence that was very rare ten years ago. There is reason to be optimistic.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

New VNV Nation - Retaliate

I have yet to hear VNV Nation disappoint and they don't hear. VNV has this song up for free too - you can download it right here.


Thanks, Dyllyn Greenwood, for telling me about this. RA Scion was dope and I didn't even know it.

New Music! RA Scion and Daniel Blue - Constant

As we move past ignorance and stupidity, let's move forward with some progressive hip-hop that moves this genre and music itself in to new territories of creativity and expression. Seattle rapper RA Scion is always good for that and he has a project coming up with folk singer Daniel Blue that sounds very, very promising....

Lord Jamar And A Few Clips Of Why It's Okay If You Hate Hip-Hop

You know I love hip-hop and all that - I very much appreciate the genre - but Jesus, I am getting tired of this crap. I have years when I consciously avoid rap and usually get pulled in by friends or a good record, only to want to leave due to assholes like this guy, Lord Jamar:


 I turned that off 3 minutes in because I'm not clueless enough to not see where the video was headed. What other great glimpse in to rap culture did we get from Vlad TV? "Obie Trice on Surviving Getting Shot in the Head."


 Yeah, so the stereotypes about this culture being ignorant and violent are certainly there for a reason. Ugh, I'm sure I'll come back in to it years from now - if the genre is kept alive by people like Macklemore, who aren't mentally retarded and don't hold mental retardation as some sort of cultural value.

Some moments really make me want to take Blood Is One and make it a general music site. It gets very embarrassing to say you like rap sometimes - for real. Alot of hip-hop doesn't only celebrate ignorance but celebrates willful ignorance. I wish these people knew how disgustaning they are. I hope Jamar realizes that there are substantial parts of the black population itself that hate hip-hop and it is precisely because of people like him or the culture that nearly killed Obie Trice that that is the case. Hip-hop was the first major musical genre to incorporate poetry in to popular music - people like Macklemore are the reason the genre will survive. People like Lord Jamar are why it might not.

I mean for real, Jamar, what do you want? Maybe listening before you speak would be a good idea before lecturing white rappers - Macklemore recorded songs like "White Privilege" and seems about as respectful towards the black community that came before as he could possibly be. It's you that has the respect problem. I can name more than a few rappers who are more than likely gay on the DL and even more gay or bisexual black celebrities - that's the reality and Macklemore's success shows that most people aren't down with ignorant rap anymore. And thank God for that.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Vvibe Moore - Stan

This is pretty impressive. Good job, Vvibe Moore - I never heard anyone freestyle over the beat for "Stan" before.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

The New Eminem Album Cover Is Sort Of Brilliant

I have hated on alot the newest single, "Berzerk," for Eminem's upcoming Marshall Mathers LP 2 but I may have to take it back after seeing the possible cover:

Eminem is apparently trying to go back to his roots and I just don't get that with the song "Berzerk." I actually listened to it several times in hopes of figuring it out and it still didn't make sense. MMLP 2 was an extremely dark, dark album with an abruptly upbeat and fake song in "The Real Slim Shady" and I imagine this will be similar. This is the original album cover for the Marshall Mathers LP, all the way back in 2000:

The real Eminem can be pretty depressing and hardcore - he usually brings out the "Without Me" or "My Name Is" Slim Shady to get radio play. This cover is sort of brilliant though, in more ways than one. Detroit has become a worse place along with the rest of America - for the house he grew up in to be condemned now is really poignant and says as much as needs to be said about how the world has changed. Eminem has made alot of public service posts in advocacy of Detroit before so I imagine he choose this cover on purpose.

Prozak - We All Fall Down

This song pretty much encapsulates how I think alot of us feels about this world right now....


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Art Of Sampling Part Two: The Defense

A friend of mine recently sent me an article called "An Open Letter To Pharrell Williams," which is written by Nicholas Payton. Payton plays the trumpet and, at 39, seemed to make a distinct choice by going in to jazz when most musicians, especially from his ethnic and geographic background, were going to hip-hop and electronic music. His words are pretty brutal:

 And to those of you who say I know nothing about Hiphop, if “Blurred Lines” is Hiphop, I don’t want to know anything about it. So let me officially go on record now and say that I hate Hiphop. There are certain artists who claim Hiphop that I dig, but Hiphop as a whole is wack. It’s a parasitic culture that preys on real musicians for its livelihood. I may not know anything about Hiphop, but I don’t have to. Without real artists and musicians like me, you’d have nothing to steal. I know enough about it all to know that. 

 There's alot of hostility towards hip-hop and, as someone who has been involved in and has seen the very, very worst of it up close, I don't really argue with most of that hostility [any more].

In fact, when my friend sent me that quote, the first thing I thought about was the fact that Payton likely models himself after guys like Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Right before he died, Miles actually tapped in to the world of hip-hop but Miles was certainly a man of a different era. I couldn't really see Kind of Blue or Bitch's Brew being released now - not because the inspiration isn't there but simply because of how music is distributed. People actually bought records back in the 1960s - like real records. With downloading so abundant (all you need is a laptop to get any music ever made on your computer for free), it's only music fanatics like myself who buy music now. I'm not sure that epic rock albums like Pink Floyd's Animals or Wish You Were Here would be released now either.

However, to defame and take on Pharrell Williams so harshly seems really strange to me. If I recall correctly, Pharrell was more of the crooning side of the Neptunes - it's not really necessary for a crooner to know what a "Dominant 7th" is. Most of the music creation was on the part of Chad Hugo.

As far as crooning goes, Pharrell is at least as talented as all the R&B greats - which is what he was comparing to by alluding to Marvin Gaye. His work with Daft Punk is as stellar in production as any music I have heard in a very long time:

 If stealing from other people's music or borrowing it or whatever term you want to use is a cardinal sin that means rejection from the world of respectable music, then we're going to have to reject alot of music. Michael Jackson was no musical wizard - most of the songs on his most successful album, Thriller, was the work of Seattle's own Quincy Jones. The video for Thriller in fact was ripped pretty directly from an Indian musical that came out only years before:


 (If you look up Golimaar on Google, you'll get a 2010 copyright which is totally wrong. The film was made in the 70s and the video I uploaded post in 2006.) Likewise, Elvis and the Beatles are well known for "stealing" music from black creators. If you ask the average music fan about "Why Don't We Do It In The Road," they will bring up The White Album and not Chuck Berry. It's similar with Eric Clapton and Bob Marley. The Star Wars movies ripped off a whole bunch of movie serials and action movies from the 1930s-1950s. Quentin Tarantino borrowed the ideas of 1970s kung fu films and blaxploitation films to the point of having the stars of those films, like Pam Grier or Gordon Liu, enlisted in his movies.

 The best sampling I have ever heard in music (and Pharrell Williams' group is actually way less guilty of sampling than Kanye West or RZA) has been minute and not used the music sampled as the entire backdrop but instead as an element that carried through all of the music. Since we are talking about Marvin Gaye, a great example of this is the nine minute long "Modern Marvel" song by Mos Def - which drifts from acapella poetry reading style singing by Mos in to an equally long tribute to Marvin Gaye, asking very poignant questions about whether Marvin Gaye would be disappointed or pleased with the modern world.


 The sampling of Marvin in that song is subtle enough that it is really the equivalent of a back-up singer. Technology is such that it's far less expensive to sample something than to employ back-up singers. Mos has performed with live bands and recorded with them - he is not immune to "real" music. You could say that's laziness, sure, but technology does do that. My writing has stayed pretty dense even in a digital world but I often use links whereas, if I had been writing for a magazine twenty years ago, I would have had to include extensive references.

I think that the older music fans who heard the songs originally (like Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On?", which Mos Def sampled) should step out of their own zone for a little bit. For someone who is raised with certain songs, it may be disturbing to hear them chopped up by their children or grandchildren but it should surely beat no one hearing the songs ever again.

 Having been born about fifteen years after "What's Going On" came out, I am really not sure that I would have ever listened to the original if I had not first heard Mos Def's take on it - I listened to alot of Marvin afterwards. I would never have thought to listen to Marvin's deeper cuts like "Anger" if Mos Def hadn't been there first. Sampling, in moderation, isn't ripping off but instead may keep the music alive.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Art of Sampling: Bobby Womack

I wanted to make another post illustrating what sampling sounds like, when done right, in hip-hop. It took alot of thought to arrive at the best illustration of this but I finally arrived on one classic song: Bobby Womack's "Across 110th Street. "Across 100th Street" is a really incredible song - the 1970s were an era after Civil Rights, when much of America's black population had left the Deep South and settled in America's biggest cities. The result wasn't pretty - America is famous for its inner city ghettoes and housing projects - I saw some of them up close when I was in New York as a kid. The projects often seemed blocky, not quite situated properly - as if they were simply there to warehouse people as opposed to giving them a home. The lyrics in this song are so powerful - hip-hop was probably more intimate with the culture of the ghetto and the projects than soul music but Womack really tells the story of living in the ghetto without glorification. In fact, he literally says in the song that he isn't proud of his behavior:
I was the third brother of five, Doing whatever I could to survive, I'm not saying what I did was all right, Trying to get out of the ghetto was a day to day fight.
My best friend gave me a copy of the Across 110th Street soundtrack on vinyl during high school. I think it's still at my family's house. The movie that it was used in, also called Across 110th Street, isn't really deserving of the song - it's raw blaxploitation - an era of film that gave African Americans more attention than American cinema ever had before but not in the most respectful manner. Quentin Tarantino, who grew up on blaxploitation, used this song perfectly in Jackie Brown. Granted, Tarantino has used violence and ridiculous imagery every bit as bad as the worst blaxploitation but his filmmaking chops come out in a scene in Jackie Brown where Jackie, played by Pam Grier, is moved to tears while listening to this song - all of the drama that she had weathered for several decades finally cracking her shell. Being ever the strong woman, the tears are only faint - a rare subtlety in the often in-your-face world of Quentin Tarantino. (There is alot of subtlety and emotion in Jackie Brown - it is definitely one of Tarantino's best films.) The song is utilized in the beginning of Jackie Brown too but I couldn't find a clip of that.


 A scene that beautiful really makes you wonder why Tarantino resorts to violence so much. He is certainly capable of much more. Like most major soul songs, hip-hop producer have had their way with "Across 110th Street." One notable effort is "Walking Through The Darkness" by Tekitha, a female singer who showed up on many Wu-Tang Clan songs when they were popular. It was on the soundtrack for Ghost Dog, a movie starring Forest Whitaker about a modern day samurai.


 It's that guitar riff that really makes Bobby Womack's track so haunting. Tekitha's version sounds almost like the ghost of the original song. Tekitha really held her own on that song, a track I would find intimidating to touch if I were an R&B singer. Tekitha's career isn't over - she put out an album called Prelude in 2010. Let's hope she gains alot of popularity - she deserves it with such talent. To show how sampling can be used in many different directions, Womack's classic song is used in a much more upbeat manner with Destro Destructo's track "Along For The Ride:"


 While Tekitha made a melancholy effort out of "Across 110th Street," Destro, a Portland rapper and part of the massive Oldominion Northwest rap crew, made a club banger out of it. Even so Destro still channels the meaning of the original song with lyrics like

Been through enough for four lifetimes, with no lifeline and still made it through our grind.

"Across 110th Street" is a song about getting out of the ghetto. In different ways, Tekitha, Quentin Tarantino and Destro Destructo (three very different artists from three very different ethnic and geographic backgrounds) all used Womack's song to channel the process of moving forward through life's struggles. Bobby Womack is still alive - pushing 69 years old - and more than likely he has followed the artists and filmmakers who have taken his work and moved it in new directions. I hope he enjoyed them as much as I did.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Kool Keith Says "Goodbye" To Rap

Dr. Octagynecologist put in almost 25 years of amazing music. If this is it, I appreciated it while it lasted. I can't say that I blame him.


Alot of rappers have talked about retiring and not done it but I think Kool Keith might really be serious. Underground hip-hop is not an easy job - you have to do the whole musical process with people who are often very sensitive and ego driven and often asked to do it completely free thanks to downloading - relying on stage shows and merchandise to survive. Throw in jealousy, a music industry that looks down on the genre, etc. and it's easy to see why the genre is declining. Keith is literally the first rapper I ever heard in my life - this song converted me for life when I was in middle school:

2003 Flashback: Pharoahe Monch - Agent Orange

Also posted at Gonzo Times. Back in 2003, I was present at several anti-war protests in Seattle - there were quite a few. Bush was about to invade Iraq and the opposition was at a fever pitch. I was a fan of most of the songs that came out during that period in opposition - everyone from Beastie Boys to Pharoahe Monch pitched in.

Pharoahe is a favorite of this website and his lyrics literally inspired the website title itself. It's about ten years and we seemed to have dodged a bullet from our current president launching a war like his predecessor had - neither of them are bad men but the tendency to want to "push the button" in that position of power seems a little too great for anyone of any stripe to resist. Pharoahe is an Obama supporter, from his lyrics, but his music hasn't failed to continue to be politically provocative and illuminating because the current president is preferable to the previous.

"Agent Orange," released on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, was a taste of the fusionist sound that he continued with albums like Desire and W.A.R. - the talk of weapons of mass destruction, chemical weapons and the title itself, Agent Orange, eludes to one of the many times this country itself has used chemical weapons on developing countries.

Between Positive, Real And Glorification

What you say is very important so one should always mind their words - I was talking with my friend Michael R. Detelj recently about the disclaimer I have on the right side of the website. Michael has a musical project called Details:

The tone is a little bit harsh in the disclaimer - I am saying that negative music that promotes violence is not really welcome on the site:

Blood Is One is always interested in new artists. However, if you want our site to promote you, remember these guidelines: all the music we promote here is positive. We do not endorse anything that glorifies violence, denegrates women or perpetuates ignorance and stereotypes. There are plenty of other sites that sell that sort of music.

  I've been involved in hip-hop at some level for about eleven years - I didn't always listen to conscious rap and I admit to listening to alot of 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes, Wu-Tang Clan, Beanie Sigel, Eminem (and Eminem during his more vulgar period - he has calmed down exponentially now), Tupac and Nas - all artists who glorified violence. However, there was a layer of fantasy world elements to all of that music.

Part of why that disclaimer is up there at all is because, when I first started this website and then with the design that my graphic designer gave me, people associated it with violence. One person even said to me "I don't like the title - I think we've seen enough violence in the inner city." The title is actually taken from a Pharoahe Monch song called "Shine" where he says "Multiple skin tones, the blood is one."

I'm never leaving hip-hop but I prefer to post music and endorse music that is better suited to real life struggles - that is really what I mean by the disclaimer, for any artists that may wondering. I think much of our perception of the world has shifted in recent years - at least as far as hip-hop is concerned. Of all the music I have been given, only some of it has been what could be described as "gangsta rap." It's clearly in the minority.

When we talked, we mentioned Atmosphere, a production and rap duo that actually got really, really popular around 2004 or so and then just petered out. Atmosphere is still around and rapper Slug is still himself. Here's a good effort just produced and featuring Brother Ali:


 Depression, mass shootings, Paul Wellstone, incarceration all mentioned in one song - not the prettiest stuff at all but not glorifying. The music of Details is also obviously not totally positive - depression and family drama are serious things but they are real things. That is exactly the sort of thing I prefer to have on this site.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Elton John - Home Again (Official Lyric Video)

Elvis Costello isn't the only one doing exceptionally good music at the twilight of his career. This song is as good as any Elton did in the 1970s.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Roots And Elvis Costello Make Beautiful Music Together

You know The Roots, right? That pretty stellar hip-hop group with a unique sound because, for the most part, all the instruments are live (they've done a few more standard rap songs and use a lot of keyboards, so it's "for the most part.") ?uestlove is a pretty well known face for hip-hop and is often brought in for documentaries like The Otherside or basically as a representative of the more intellectual, nuanced side of the genre.

Well, indie rock pioneer Elvis Costello and ?uestlove's band are getting together - the product is the album Wise Up Ghost. Admittedly the first single, which has been promoted alot on YouTube and other sites, "Walk Us Uptown," was a bit disappointing - it sounded too standard and too much like the work that Costello was already doing. The whole point of a collaboration like this would be to meld the two different creative worlds of Costello and ?uestlove and that song didn't do it.

It's a good thing that song didn't represent the whole package. Some of the music is simply incredible. If for some reason you're only able to listen to one track from the entire album from Wise Up Ghost, listen to "Come the Meantimes." ?uestlove really pioneered on this song - alot of the staples of modern hip-hop are there - the high hats, claps and loops that would be uneventful in a standard rap track suddenly just sound ridiculous underneath the smooth crooning of Elvis Costello.

The only complaint I have here is that the synergy between the hip-hop world and the indie rock of Elvis Costello is too mild. It would have been good if rapper Black Thought, who has been on every single other Roots album produced, would have appeared - even on just one track. I don't think it would be awkward - songs like "The Seed 2.0" had Black Thought rapping with a pretty healthy chorus by a R&B singer Cody Chesnutt.

That's really the only imperfection though. Elvis Costello is 59 years old. ?uestlove is 42. Hip-hop did already exist when Costello started in popular music but it certainly hadn't developed to the point it has now. Costello not only stepped over the Generation Gap but poured concrete in to it with this album - few artists at this point in his career maintain their old creative energy. Costello actually has sparked new creative energy. Brilliance.

You can listen to the whole thing on NPR. Make sure that you use headphones or speakers with strong bass. The bass is easily one of the best features of the whole album.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Perry Porter - Apollo 11

Thanks so much to Ms. Caroline Li with GO HARD SUPERSTAR for telling me about this magic. So dope! I'm not really totally sure what to think of it or at least to articulate about it. Haha. tI generally don't like Dubstep but this guy makes it more than bearable. Just listen.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Minority Report And DJax - 90's Kid

New music from my buddy.


Macklemore - Inhale Deep

A little bit of Macklemore before he blew up.

Northwest Spitterz: Sonny Bonoho

Thanks to Dyllyn Greenwood for sending me this. Love it!


Washed Up 50?

Curtis Jackson -

I listened to your song "Warning You." I can appreciate that you really want to get back in to the music industry and sell records again along with clothing lines, celebrity appearances and all that awesome stuff that comes with being famous.

I also get that your image is that of a "gangsta rapper" - your big thing when you made it big was getting shot 9 times and surviving. You posed with guns or throwing bullets dozens of times.

However, you know, as we all do, that gangsta rap is over. Like done like a baked potato. One of the biggest rappers in hip-hop, Macklemore, raps about gay marriage and second hand shopping. Kanye West is Kanye. Wiz Khalifa, Kendrick Lamar, Yelawolf - some of these guys like to tough talk but none of them are gangsta rappers.

You are a smart guy - you collaborated with Robert Greene for a cool book that I liked alot - The 50th Law. You talk about all sorts of serious intellectual stuff in that book - why can't you do that in music? WTF? This music you're doing now makes no sense at all. You're tough talking about shooting people - shooting who? - over a Dubstep beat with Skylar Grey singing the hook. (Grey is a favorite of Eminem's too - she's a gifted singer but her singing sounds awkward with Marshall as well.)

You've probably noticed that your colleagues - Eminem, Snoop [Lion], Nas, Jay-Z - these people have all moved on. They have done new things and made new kinds of music. You're smart enough to rap about something else - this is just gross music. People are more intelligent than this - they know when something is real and this is about as real as processed cheese.


Friday, August 30, 2013

CaliNovas and E-KO - I'm Trapped (Instrumental)

Thank you so much to CaliNovas for hollaing at me on Twitter - great work. Really feeling this beat. Stay at me, dawwwwg.

That Degrading Black Culture

This was originally posted over at Dagblog:

It seems like the proverbial shit has been hitting the fan a lot with American society  these days. I grew up in it at its best so I can tell you - at its height, living in America was generally so comfortable that it was easy to ignore things, to bury things and to put lingering problems to the side.
With the economic downturn, the election of Barack Obama and other factors, the American lifestyle itself seems to have changed. The way people behave and talk seems different - the tone is much more extreme than it ever was before.
And of course - what's the thing to hit the fan when America begins to unravel. Race. And with race of course comes pop culture - as Fox News reminded us today: 
Unknown Object
Good Lord, are they a mess. What on earth. You know, hundreds of years after Vikings landed on Greenland, I hear that Nordic death metal is seen as a problem too. Better get on that one, Fox. Watch in full:

Unknown Object

However ridiculous Fox News rightfully seems, there was some potent stuff in that segment. They brought out several black commentators - with exception, Fox usually likes to have generalizations about black people said by black people - who bemoaned the lyrics of Jay-Z on his new album Magna Carta Holy Grail.
Jay-Z has been invited to the White House and has been close to President Barack Obama. I will honestly admit that it is tired and disappointing to hear Jigga rap about "squeezing Mack 11s like lemons" when he tries to market himself as this political figure or pseudo-Frank Sinatra at the same time.
But really, Fox acts as if Jigga and the rap world represent all of black America - and also as if black America itself is the only minority group in the country or even the only non-white group in the world and there isn't a diverse realm of Europeans, Middle Easterners, Asians, Hispanics, East Africans, Pacific Islanders and Native People who also have cultures and politics that might be worth talking about.
No, for Fox, it's all black all the time. Black people are only 12% of the population. Their stamp on culture, as I hope I illustrated above, is not very different from their white brethren. The obsessing that the folks at Fox do tells more about them - it definitely seems demented and deranged. Fox represents Middle America well because many in Middle America seem terrified, perplexed yet quite obsessed with black people.
There was a segment on MSNBC in which a white host showed what an absurd mess Fox has become. They had a big long talk about "white culture" and all the bad elements in it. I thought it might be good to do something like that.
Rap, and hip-hop even as a culture, has glorified violence. Despite his extensive philanthropic work, the very worst offender of all was probably Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, who himself was shot nine times and survived. Let's take a look at the sort of press photos he did when he was still selling millions of records: 
There are so many stereotypes being made real in that photo it's unreal. Curtis is pointing a firearm while wearing a doo-rag, a platinum cross and.... Luis Vuitton gun holsters? Geeez.....
It's not a positive image at all. It definitely sends the wrong message to impressionable youth. But wait? 
Oh, man, that's a former President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, obviously glorifying violence.
Oh man, that's the former governor of California also glorifying violence. In a movie called The Terminator about a cyborg assassin from the future, no less.
Oh, look there? Who's that? It's one of the keynote speakers of the 2012 Republican National Convention, Clint Eastwood. Almost all of his movies have him with a firearm - so apart from simply being a tool, there is obviously a level of glorification of guns going on with these white celebrities.
Maybe it's different because the glorification among rappers like 50 Cent represents gun violence, a result of degradation that doesn't occur in white districts. I mean right?
Well, this Fox segment did talk about "scantily clad" women in hip-hop, not just glorifying violence, which I guess is a serious problem. As Dehmu Greene, the black commentator they hired to talk bad about black people, says, it does show a disrespect for women that may be a reflection of black culture and illustrate a breakdown of the black family -
I am just so confused. I thought black culture was the problem. I thought hip-hop was an abnormally degrading genre of music that perpetuated degenerate behavior. Twenty year old white female musicians would never whore themselves.
Well, Juan Williams did talk about all the "tattooed thugs" that parade in black culture. I mean, I guess that's a serious problem in black America, right? Tattooed thugs?
Oh. My. God.
Given this new information, I'm expecting a new segment on Fox News, just to be fair and balanced. Call it "230 years after the Declaration of Independence, Some People View Miley Cyrus, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Clint Eastwood As A Problem." Doesn't make sense, does it?
One person commentating here told me to "remember that other networks have 20 times more viewers in the evening news slot than Fox News."
Indeed, it's not the Bush years anymore and most people don't connect with the folks at Fox - who do seem far more extreme than they did ten years ago - but what they are putting on air does speak to some people. Prejudice towards black people, which is the last dying refuge of old America, is really built on something being exceptionally awful about them. The real world, which is hitting the fan, isn't really like that at all. Fox is feeding us this toilet water because it's what their viewers want for comfort. If their prejudices aren't real, than what is?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Help For The Family Of DJ Nemesis

A friend of mine, Damian "DJ Nemesis," has a bad family situation going on. His cousin, Nani, is drifting away due to cancer. This is a shame and we should all help him and his family to recover the best they can. Nani is fundraising for her situation on the website They've already raised $370 since I posted about this initially on the Blood Is One Facebook page. Help her out.

The Rock The Bells Mixtape

Fresh, new music featuring Talib Kweli, Big KRIT and Slick Rick.

Macklemore Before He Blew

I knew there was an Oldominion Macklemore track out there. Here it is. This is pretty damn different from what people are probably used to from him but still pretty damn good. The Gigantics came out back in 2008. When I first heard it in 2008, I didn't know it was Macklemore or even who Macklemore was. Given how successful he's been, it's certainly a gem. I'm not sure he will rap this unpolishedly again - he's big time now.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Goodie Mob - Special Education

I really like this song and really hate it. Janelle Monae's chorus is beautiful, the video concept is awesome and it is great to see Cee-Lo spitting bars again, but that beat. Ugh. Can Dub-Step go away?


Monday, August 26, 2013

Eminem's Blonde Again?

I may need someone else to tell me what they think about all this. Eminem, of course, is known for his blonde 'do - it's part of what made him famous. I thought that his going back to his natural hair color was a good visual signal that he had grown up a bit but for not. The concept of Marshall Mathers LP 2 is a return to form and to the Eminem that we all know and that became famous in the first place.

I'm not so sure how well that could work out - I didn't really like "Berzerk" from the first few soundbites I heard (I wrote on the Blood Is One Facebook page that it sounded like a feminized Beastie Boys), "Not Afraid" was far more powerful. We'll have to wait until the full length song is out.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Eminem - Marshall Mathers LP 2!

If Eminem has proved anything, it's that you can come back and go back where you were before:

Moments ago, a Beats By Dre commercial aired during the MTV Video Music Awards in support ofEminem and his new album Marshall Mathers LP 2. Look for this project to drop on November 5th. Expect his new single ‘Bezerk’ dropping Tuesday.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

First Class: DJax

Dominic Ezekiel Jackson, AKA DJax, is a friend of mine. I strongly support his work and have posted it as much as I can on this website.

Dominic has been travelling quite a bit right now - he recorded most of the Cloud 9 Tape in the Seattle area but he is back in California right now, while much of this video about his grinding is in beautiful Vancouver, Canada. Good luck and good looks, Dominic, my friend. Keep it going.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Nightmares On Wax - Feelin' Good

A while back, Nightmares On Wax put out an album put out a really solid album called Carboot Soul. This is also just so solid - it sounds as if this project is designed to be rapped over. Any talented rappers - this is your chance.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Wiz Khalifa - Look Into My Eyes

I'll admit I never actually listened to a full Wiz Khalifa - this is the first full track I've listened to. There's definitely more raw talent but I can really feel this.

Monday, August 19, 2013

For The Church And Wrestling, It's Nonchalantly Gay

I originally posted this at Dagblog.

One of the really amazing things about Pope Francis rebuking homophobia was how nonchalant he was about it. There was no huge press conference or media campaign with long explanations about why being gay was now okay - in fact, the Pope seemed to secede his authority on the issue altogether - "Who am I to judge?"
We have a possibly equally strange rebuke of homophobia in the form of professional wrestler Darren Young. After being asked by a reporter if "a gay wrestler could be successful in the WWE," Young simply laughed and said "Absolutely. Look at me. I'm a WWE superstar and to be honest with you, I'll tell you right now, I'm gay. And I'm happy. I'm very happy." Here's the video from The Young Turks:

Now I disagree with the Young Turks folks a little bit - he wasn't totally nonchalant. The way he said it, he certainly seemed at least pretty nervous - but not nervous enough to keep him from coming out of the closet in an off the cuff interview.
As you can see in the video, the WWE, despite being an obviously macho organization that has stereotyped gays in the past, said they completely support him and hope to help support acceptance programs in the future. So there you go! Not bad at all, right? With cases of 'roid rage, wrestlers like Mick Foley admitting to having brain damage, etc., professional wrestling - which is a form of entertainment much smarter and entertaining than it gets credit for - has much more serious problems than who gender certain individuals prefer to sleep with.
The fact that Young is not just in the WWE but black also is significant. The African American community is at least stereotypically hostile to gays though I am really not sure how true that stereotype is (just like all stereotypes).
Young in action with a fabulous hairdo:
We're quickly coming to the point where this is not an issue at all - where all consensual sexual relationships between adults remain exactly that and not a place for judgment. We have much more serious issues in this world.

Dark Time Sunshine - Run

I never really listened to Dark Time Sunshine at length but I'm well aware of how incredible and brilliant Onry Ozzborn's rapping is when he's at his fullest. He sounds excellent on this project - the production is gorgeous. I think I'd actually listen to it without the vocals even.


WORLD PREMIERE: Sonny Bonoho - Concubine Juicy

This is just straight brilliance. If you don't notice, that is indeed JFK Ninjaface in a Samurai sword battle with Mr. Sonny Bonoho. Sonny has actually been in Seattle area rap for a long, long time and I'm glad to see that he is seriously stepping things up.

You know - with guys like the RZA and Wu-Tang Clan, Asian culture has always been a part of hip-hop but you never really saw the genuine article until now. Great job, Sonny!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Friday, August 16, 2013

Calling Out Pauly D

There was an article recently in Gawker about the most highly paid DJs. What was saddest about it was how much money they really make. 

Pauly D made $13 million last year for playing other people's music at parties. Most normal people, on the other hand, are struggling to feed your family while doing work that actually impacts other people's lives positively. And they say our economic system isn't funky. 

When I posted it, a friend of mine from the Pacific Islands called Pauly D out - my friend DJ Nemesis is based on the Pacific Island of Guam. The island's not wealthy and my bro isn't making $13 million a year but he is fully confident that he is better than Pauly D in a DJ battle.

If you're reading this, Pauly, prove you're worth 13 mill. What have you got to lose? Holla at me at and I'll do my best to help make the battle possible.

Mos Def - Water No Get Enemy

I love Mos Def - now Yasiin Bey - but my Gosh is he a frustrating artist. He hasn't really put out a solid album since 1999 with Black On Both Sides. Most of his music has been performances and appearances here or there, usually with him being pretty darn stoned and otherwise not in to his own music. He seems a bit more interested in his film career, which honestly isn't that great. The best film he's been involved in has been was Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which was exceptionally good but more from a filmmaking perspective than an acting one.

Despite Yasiin's lack of hard effort, nuggets of goodness really crystallize. I have to love that he would perform Fela Kuti's work at all, much less with a full band. Good look.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Out Of Body Experience

JFK/Ninja Face of Grayskul and Th3rdz performing:

Djax - Daze

Update - So it looks like Dominic played out the duration on releasing his tracks, then his mixtape and then this video. The video is by Dyllyn Greenwood, a friend of mine and one of the man behind the Neema interview we did hear. This is quality stuff - alot of positive energy from DJax.


Mos Def and DJ Honda - Magnetic Fields

I was talking to a friend of mine on Twitter and the subject of DJ Honda came up. Honda and Mos Def collaborated back in the late 90s - they put some brilliant music together.

My friend asked what has become of Honda - It turns out that DJ Honda is actually still active. He put out an entire collaboration in 2009 that had Fred Durst, EPMD, Dilated Peoples and, yes, the Mighty Mos on it. Here goes:


Kendrick Lamar Disses EVERYBODY - Epic Rap Battle

Battling is good and all of that - just remember that it can go too far.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tesla Boy - Rebecca

I was cruising through music videos on YouTube and I found this electronic act from Russia called Tesla Boy. That's definitely a Russian name but the music isn't stereotypically Russian at all.

It's brilliant actually. This is the best one I found, "Rebecca." Tesla Boy has 49 songs up on YouTube and it's some of the most stellar, talented electronic music I have ever heard. Congrats to the man behind it. Total brilliance.


 Soooo good. Wow.

Grayskul - Zenith Premiere!

JFK is one of my favorite rappers - I talk about him very frequently here. JFK got his starts with Grayskul. As a whole, I think Grayskul has actually released at least half a dozen albums - most of them released independently through JFK and his partner Onry Ozzborn's own pockets, if I'm not mistaken. Deadlivers and Bloody Radio were the only ones released through a major label.

There hasn't been any release of any kind from Grayskul since 2007, when they put out Facefeeder and then Bloody Radio. JFK's done Th3rdz and his solo thing and so has Onry. Six years is a long time, however, and I have definitely missed the duo. "Zenith," the title track, definitely seems worth the wait. The production is much better than their previous two albums - it really sounds like they are going for the epic sound that they've been capable of. Congratulations to Onry and Jeff for their work - I can't wait to hear more.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Review Trifecta Part Three: Europa Report

Switching up with the final part of the Review Trifecta. The final installment is a film instead of a record. If you plan on watching this movie, beware of spoilers. I didn't really know how to review this movie without dropping a few. Sorry.

It's the big question - Are we alone?
This question gets asked directly in the movie Europa Report, which I saw over the weekend. I'm not currently rolling in the money but I did dish out $7 to see it online through Google Play. I was so impressed by the movie that I rewatched it several times - until I had worn out the rental limits. I hope to own the movie when it is released on DVD - it's that good.
The plot surrounds a privately funded mission (it's subtlely said that NASA and other state run space programs had really dropped the ball on exploration) to the moon of Europa, a moon of the massive gas planet Jupiter that is suspected to be carrying a large ocean. Usually, wherever we find water, we find life and finding life elsewhere in the universe could help dull down alot of our species' anxiety about our strange, lonely place in the cosmos.
The actors in Europa Report aren't well known but their performance is so genuine. When a readout shows that simple algae is on the surface of Europa, one of the astronauts looks almost stunned with himself as he says, "We did it." Camera shots of the ocean below Europa's icey crust look just like any large body of water we're used to here. 
Finally, at the end (I did warn about spoilers) the astronauts really come in to contact with the life that inhabits Europa. As the ship, which may be advanced but not really quite equipped for a trip so far, begins to collapse in to Europa's massive oceans - the life that inhabits this moon shows itself.
It makes a whole lot of sense - Earth has a few locales of life that lives without direct exposure to the sun, at the very bottom of the ocean. The writers seem to suggest that the massive planet of Jupiter provides a great deal of heat for this moon. The emotional impact is very high - the woman in charge of the Europa One operation tears up as she expresses that the crew on the ship, who lost several members in the process, made the most impactful discovery in human history and by simply discovering the equivalent of marine life and algae elsewhere in the solar system, changed the game in which human beings think about themselves in the universe.
There are a couple flaws - Europa apparently has perfect gravity, which isn't really explained or explored. Also, as they pass the moon, the narrator illustrates that going past the moon is the farthest any human being has ever gone in the solar system. Even if a private independent company did this, it doesn't seem likely that anyone would ever opt for putting a man or woman all the way on Europa before ever exploring our nearest neighbor.
Likewise, after watching, I couldn't help but think how much more impactful this would have been as a miniseries or TV show on PBS or somewhere similar. It ends abruptly and one just has to imagine how average people on earth must have responded.
Discoveries like what occurs in this hypothetical movie would turn the world upside down. I've followed the topic alot - many creationist websites argue that the lack of any evidence of life off of earth validates that God created this earth for man. One has to wonder why God would create an empty galaxy alongside but that may be beside the point. Such a discovery would make the universe more comprehensible and change the sense we have of our own existence.
Science fiction isn't an easy genre - if one just wanted to make a successful film, a crime drama or romantic comedy would be easier. It's easy for science fiction to seem goofy and to lack real emotional impact. Director Sebastian Cordero broke that trend - Europa Report is realistic, terrifying and moving. No easy task.

Review Trifecta Part Two: Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

I'm not sure what pushed me to get Daft Punk's new album - . I love some of the songs from their album Discovery but I'm not a huge fan. Piracy or online buying is more common than owning a hard copy of an album - it was certainly out of the ordinary to buy a physical copy of Random Access Memories.

Whatever it was, I'm glad I did. The centerpiece of the album by far is "Georgio By Moroder." Words can't quite express how amazing this song really is.

If you don't know, Georgio Moroder is a musician who helped to produce the music for films such as Scarface. His work on Scarface is his best - the theme works on its own as one of the first great electronic themes and is completely listenable even when not watching the film itself.

There is an effect where Moroder layers the main synthesizer loop in the Scarface theme with a couple keyboard notes and Daft Punk appears to mimick this on "Georgio By Moroder." That's followed by a live bass and drum solo and then a keyboard solo and then more drums. Then all the instruments come together in a symphony led by a guitar solo. The song is layered with Moroder telling his life story and clocks in at literally nine minutes! It's pretty incredible - it's the work of a serious rock band and not just an electronic duo.

If that's not striking enough, Pharrell Williams (yes, Pharrell of the Neptunes) springs up on this album on two songs - "Get Lucky" and "Lose Yourself To Dance." "Get Lucky" is the first single and you're sure to hear it blaring out of car radios or bumping at clubs and parties. Pharrell's lyrics are mature and advanced - he is a much stronger singer now than he was when he was part of the Neptunes. I liked "Get Lucky" more than "Lose Yourself To Dance" but I do appreciate the latter - it's amazing how Daft Punk, which became famous with mindless dance songs like "Around The World," are now able to synergize and create serious pop music.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

DJax - The Cloud 9 Tape

I've shared the work of my friend Dominic several times before - well, here it is again. Dominic is offering The Cloud 9 Tape through for any suggesting price - that means whatever you personally see fit. Pretty good deal.


Friday, August 9, 2013

June G. - Young God

I posted alot of June G. when I started this project about two years ago. He is still doing it. Support him.


More Kenan Bell!

Kenan Bell is a genius. A big, integral part of hip-hop is using music that has often gone before as a canvass for one's own poetry. Kenan understands this very well - better than most - and has often used music that is definitely not typically affiliated with rap and hip-hop. The backdrop for this song was Moondog's 1969 song "Stamping Ground." And yes, this song was used in The Big Lebowski.

 Just for fun, here is the original song he used:


Great stuff, Kenan. It's great to have you as a friend.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Review Trifecta Part One: Th3rdz - This, That & Th3rdz

Over the last few months, as I've become involved again in the NW hip-hop scene, I've acquired some new music. I figured it would be a good idea to share my ideas and thoughts about the music I've acquired in some short reviews.

I know the guys in Th3rdz, at least two of them, casually. I've listened to all three since they came out. JFK I have interviewed a handful of times. I do know their music history and that is what makes this project so interesting. The last collaboration between Candidt and JFK was "Paranoid," where Candidt helped on a chorus "I'm so sick having issues, boy, paranoid," and "I think they fucking with me, boy, cause I'm paranoid." The video had JFK banging his head against the wall and screaming at a lightbulb. Meanwhile, JFK worked with Xperience, the third part of Th3rdz, on an entire album called Facefeeder with his Grayskul teammate Onry Ozzborn.

All the work these guys have done with one another is on the rough side - not gangsta rap but most certainly some form of horrorcore - the hip-hop equivalent of heavy metal. JFK, the most seasoned rapper in Th3rdz, has definitely been somewhere in the horrorcore realm for most of his rap career.

Th3rdz isn't any of that. Once all three of them are together, JFK, Candidt and Th3rdz have all teamed together to make one of the most pop-friendly hip-hop records from the Northwest aside from Macklemore. With a clean hook of "This is your favorite song" and a clean hook by Candidt, "Favorite Song" is obviously and effort at radio/MTV stardom.

Meanwhile, none of the rest of the songs are rough in any way either. "Hustle Harder" and "Work" send a pretty positive message toward young people of moving forward while not letting others game them. "Boobiewho" and "Be Yourself" are smile inducing tracks about sex and relationships that show more courtship than the frustration that JFK's solo album Building Wings On The Way Down exemplified. The guest list is pretty small too - reduced to only local superstars like Sonny Bonoho, Sleep of Oldominion and Geologic of Blue Scholars.

Everyone in Th3rdz is Oldominion fam - a super network of rappers that encompass twenty plus artists in the Seattle and Portland areas. It would be really amazing to see an Oldominion effort take off in even a quarter of the way Macklemore did. Th3rdz is certainly a step in that direction.