Category Archives: Singles

Sisterhood of Hip-Hop: The Actual Music. Part 2

Today we finish my thoughts on the rappers from Oxygen’s Sisterhood of Hip-Hop show. Check Part 1 for my intro to the show, and my thoughts on two of its rappers, Brianna Perry and Bia. Now on to the last three:

Siya

I expected to like her music the most because she’s an open lesbian with a lot of aggressive energy that I thought might be interesting. Where a lot of the girls were very…girly, her musical style seemed much more able to appeal to men’s tastes. E.G., while Diamond was visited on the show by Eve, Siya went to meet Irv Gotti and Ja Rule. Anticipating her actual music, my biggest worry was that it would sound too much like every other mainstream rapper. She showed some cookie-cutter tendencies on the show, and is signed to Tank’s record label for some God-awful reason, so, unfortunately but not unexpectedly, most of the music I found was just as bleh as her show music:

Real MVP

Her singing and hook-writing don’t impress me, and the use of autotune just enhances the artificial nature of the song and video. The mansion setting and Rolls Royce (or is that a Bentley?) are just more nails in the coffin labeled fake. Her verses are delivered decently but the writing isn’t anything special. Her other songs at http://damnsiya.com/music/ are much the same, maybe the beats are more hip-hop but she’s still not doing any one thing good enough to warrant further listens. Out of my sampling, the one song that did anything for me was Vent Session:

So clearly, when motivated, she can rap and can pick better beats, ones that have some much-needed ruggedness to them. Too bad she’s almost never motivated to do it. Instead she’s making music like everyone else in the mainstream, which is quickly becoming a pattern for these ladies…

Nyemiah Supreme

I’ve seen Nyemiah freestyle on Hot 97 so I thought I knew what to expect. A hardcore rapper from New York who could use some work on her bars but at least she had a good foundation to build on…

Don’t Ask Me No Questions

Sooo…she regresses like 80 steps and copies an Atlanta style that requires exactly zero rapping ability. How…exciting. A song about nothing where you don’t rap and the overall sound is indistinguishable from the myriad other songs made in this style. I’m not feeling it at all. Mrs. knowledge likes it but admits that it’s like Nyemiah gave up trying to be a real rapper.

In the interest of not being totally negative, here’s her Hot 97 freestyle. It’s pretty damn good

even though she claimed she’d be releasing intelligent music and and dumbass No Questions is what’s she currently pushing. But I’m bitter or nothin’…

Diamond

Where the fuck is her music? Her website’s music page is utterly empty, and I can’t find any new songs on her youtube, or linked from her twitter profile. All she seems to be currently promoting is a series of vlogs, and a calendar! Even Oxygen seemed to have this same problem. Back in August, they posted short pieces with links/embeds of each cast member’s music. Everyone else had a current song linked, but Diamond’s article linked to music from 2012, along with Knuck If You Buck from her Crime Mob days back in 2000-freaking-4! So it seems that she hasn’t released anything lately, even though I remember one episode where she tested a good verse for a new song that I’d hoped would be out by now. But I guess she’s got other “priorities” right now?

Final Thoughts

I’m really disappointed with Oxygen and TI (executive producer) for not putting together a better group of women emcees. It’s as if real female rappers are so rare that they had to scrape together a show using some girls who don’t even seem like they want to be rappers in the first place. Of course, I know that better examples exist. I pretty much hated Dreezy’s mixtape but I can’t deny her apparent passion for rapping. And I should have known better than to hope for much from the mainstream, and especially from TI, given that his other recent foray into female hip-hop is the Frankenstein’s Monster, built for crossover, known as Iggy Azalea. I just hate to see a major platform for a very underrepresented group in hip-hop be wasted instead of being used more effectively.

I definitely plan to check out that Bia mixtape soon, and I’ll probably follow Siya and Nyemiah Supreme for at least a little while in case they wake up soon.

Sisterhood of Hip-Hop: The Actual Music. Part 1

I recently caught up on the Oxygen reality/docu-series, Sisterhood of Hip-Hop*. It follows five young women at various periods in their newish careers, trying to find success as emcees. I love that this show is all about what Love and Hip-Hop implicitly promised and repeatedly failed to deliver: a view into the life and work of a real person who makes hip-hop. With every episode featuring at least one scene of someone rapping in the studio or on-stage, Sisterhood proved over its eight episodes that it was about much more than the fights and sex that bait the lowest common denominator on some other reality shows. There was a bit of label and relationship drama too, but thankfully the show never lost its focus. I think there should have been more time spent showcasing the women’s music through longer performance scenes, but it still did enough to prompt me to research each emcee.

As all the rappers are in the (re)building phases of their careers, each should have a single or mixtape that they are currently promoting. So I decided to listen to at least that one song, then write up my judgments. Sounds easy enough, right? Let’s get started!

Brianna Perry

Since U Left

Brianna did NOT impress me on the show. The one song of hers that I remember is Marilyn Monroe, and I hated its breathy vocals and simplistic lyrics. Clearly it was not for me. Neither is Since U Left. The beat is an abomination of bubblegum hip-pop, and her rhymes haven’t gotten any better. She has a decent voice for rap but her writing needs to greatly improve. Just for sanity’s sake I also checked I’m That B.I.T.C.H. Expecting some hardcore bragging a la Lil Kim or Foxy Brown, I was instead treated to this heap of R&B that doesn’t even really have any rapping:

Brianna Perry does not seem at all interested in making hip-hop that I might like. Everything doesn’t have to be slicing heads off or Black Thought level lyricism, but I need some edge to grab onto! Also, stronger rooting in the culture she claims would go a long way!

Bia

Chain Swang ft Pharrell and Fam-lay

Immediately, this is going much better than the above foray. Pharrell’s beat simply knocks! It’s actually very similar to Clipse’s Grindin’, but is faster and has a couple more instruments besides percussion. Bia starts the song strong with a verse full of intricate rhymes that show her passion for emceeing. Her punchlines didn’t do anything for me but her complex rhyming never failed to interest. Per the title, the topic is basic emcee bragging which is just fine with me as each rapper does a decent or good job with it, even the resurrected Fam-Lay. Chola Season, Bia’s mixtape that includes this song, will have to be put on my to-do list. Good job Bia.

*Unfortunately, the broadcast season is over and the episodes don’t seem to be available on either hulu or oxygen.com. In case you’re as late as me, maybe you can catch it on demand?

The Airing of Grievances Part 1: A Coupla Singles

Festivus PoleFestivus is about having an alternative to Christmas. What I love about it is that instead of pretending that life is all great, it includes dealing with some harsh realities. Cuz I’m that type of morose motherfucker! So, assuming that everyone completed their feasting already, I put up a Festivus pole and now it’s time for the Airing of Grievances, where I tell the world how it has disappointed me this year. I’ll stick with music, but please believe there’s a lot more that I could say.

1. Kendrick Lamar – I

Kendrick Lamar’s sophomore album is very highly anticipated because Good Kid M.A.A.D. City is one of the best albums that we’ve has heard in years! And even though I’m very worried that that album will remain a peak that he never reaches again, I still can’t wait to see him try. So I rabidly played his new single, I, hoping for some evidence that my worries were unfounded. Self-esteem was most definitely not on the short list of topics I expected him to attack, but I’m very pleased to see a mainstream rapper earnestly speaking on mental health concerns. It’s a worthy topic that needs to be addressed more often, I believe Kendrick when he talks about it, so this song again puts Kendrick at the forefront of nationally known rappers who actually have something real to say. For those things, I deserves much applause.

BUT

I wish Kendrick was MUCH better at execution!

First, let’s begin where my ears began: the beat. Sampling classic R&B is a very dangerous path to take. Jacking classic R&B might as well be classified as attempted suicide. Recognizable samples unfailingly provide a context that the new song either has to hijack or fight tooth and nail against. Kendrick’s I is terrible because it never became a song outside of the sample, The Isley Brothers Who’s That Lady. The sample is just too powerful to be jacked in so wholesale of a fashion, taking the most recognizable parts (the drums and guitar), for a song about anything other than the sample’s topic. So the sexy guitars from the original ode to a mystery woman create a cool vibe, yet here’s Kendrick talking (in such an annoyingly weird voice) and rapping (well, as usual) about loving himself despite his circumstances and external opinions. The mesh doesn’t work, because that tonal gap is too far for me to jump, so the song ends up feeling corny and sappy. I love the sentiment that went into I, but beyond that I have no interest in this final product.

2. Wu-Tang Clan – A Better Tomorrow

Actually, there’s a lot of parallels from this song to Kendrick’s latest. The next album is highly anticipated. The song is driven by one huge, classic R&B sample. It’s about issues worthy of discussion.

AND

It also fails in execution. This time, the sample is Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes’ Wake up Everybody. Just as classic, and just as weird to be used to be used in a rap song. Again, the most recognizable parts of the sample are jacked. Not sampled and chopped, JACKED. But one key difference that makes this song semi-listenable is that the mood and topic match from the sample to the new song. Making a better world is the theme of both songs, and where the original focused on general problems and gave instructions, the Wu’s song spends a lot more time pointing out what’s wrong and is focused on issues directly affecting Black people, like police brutality.

While I’m happy to hear the thematic consistency, I just don’t like the Wu-Tang using this sample this way. It’s too hopeful for everyone’s verses of aimless, nuanceless complaints. Method Man’s verse is at least delivered well but it seems that no one else could muster the energy required for the track’s faster than average tempo. I’m all for Wu-Tang’s version of consciousness. And A Better Tomorrow is a much better mainstream attempt to deal with police brutality than Rick Ross and Game’s trash-ass song. So while I’m happy that the Wu-Tang Clan is back and making more music with a message, I hope that the rest of their album is much better at getting their messages across.

So concludes the first part of the Airing of Grievances. Coming next will be the lambasting of a recent album!

Kendrick Lamar Tongue-Kisses Your Little Sister In Front Of You

While I was laying back, planning my next album assassination, Big Sean released a song called Control. Normally, such news would not be cause for me to waste any of my words, but this song included not only Jay Electronica, but Kendrick Lamar in his finest controversy starting form. I would say that Sean should be thanking Kendrick for the added attention, but pretty much no one is talking about any part of the song other than Kendrick’s verse. After this embed of the song, I’ll lay out my reaction to it and to everyone else’s reactions:

Continue reading Kendrick Lamar Tongue-Kisses Your Little Sister In Front Of You

Eve – Make It Out This Town

Eve’s first public step onto the comeback trail showed up on DJBooth.net today. Ironically, her musical dry spell got kind of clowned on this week’s episode of Love and Hip-Hop. So anyway, how do I feel about Eve’s comeback now that I’ve heard this song?

My hope has entered remission.

Listen to the song for yourself at DJ Booth

Make It Out This Town isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever heard, but it’s not at all what I want from Eve. It’s got a pop beat featuring an acoustic guitar, some high-pitched male singer doing his best to make the hook worse with his falsetto, and an abundance of cliched inspirational lyrics:

just wanna fly above it all, see where you could land/
know that you could do it on your own, cause you can/
know that can conquer all with a plan/
forget about the negative buried in the sand/

Badmouthing wack shit isn’t my main goal for this site, I want to spend more time on good music than bad. But when a major artist and/or someone I respect drops some garbage, I might have to talk about it. Eve is a better songwriter than this. I’m certain that the idea for this song didn’t come from her, especially since it has not one but two co-writers. Eve needs to do her music. She should reconnect with Swizz Beatz if that’s what it takes. Because letting other people change her style so drastically will just leave her with no fans since young kids won’t check for her no matter what and her old hardcore fans will be alienated.

Hopefully this song is a minor misstep, something done to appease the label, or just an experiment that should have died in the studio, and not the signal towards a new direction.

Last Week’s New R&B

Last week was very hit or miss on the R&B tip. Both RL and Donell Jones disappointed with weak-ass medi. Donell’s song at least stuck to his bluesy sound, but I don’t know why the hell RL is trying to make average R&B for teens. I really wish more singers would decide to count on the 30-and-up crowd for sales and stop trying to appeal to kids. Anyway here’s two singles that caught my ear:
 
PJ Morton – Only One
My girl loved this guy’s early stuff, but then he signed to Young Money and she figured things would go downhill from there. It seemed that she was right, but this here shows that, in the least, his major debut might run the gamut from garbage to pretty damn good. Nope, I refuse to be any more positive than that. Not even a Stevie Wonder solo can erase the memory of that other song.