Favorite Song Friday #6

6/22/18

“Baby Blue”

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Action Bronson is an unusual character in the hip-hop genre. This former chef turned rapper stands out more than others with his unique voice and his stout demeanor. While Action Bronson would go on to make four albums from 2011-2017, one song of his stands out more than the rest. “Baby Blue” is perhaps Action Bronson’s best song as it showcases all of his talent and creativity in roughly five minutes. Throughout the course of “Baby Blue” we see Action Bronson glide across each verse with ease and style, this then transitions to him delivering a chilling and appropriate chorus to reinforce the idea of the song. “Baby Blue” is simply Action Bronson rapping about the women in his life and how they only seem to want him for his money. Action Bronson does a great job on this song, however, things get even more interesting when he recruits Chance The Rapper for a guest feature.

Chance The Rapper’s verse is arguably one of his best verses of all time. This verse is simple but the wordplay is fantastic. By starting off every line with “I hope…”, Chance The Rapper is allowed to direct his aggression towards those who did him wrong in the past. Chance The Rapper focuses this verse towards an unknown ex-girlfriend who he sarcastically wishes the best for. The wordplay that Chance The Rapper exhibits on “Baby Blue” is perhaps one of the best moments of any song from 2015. With Mark Ronson composing this fantastic and jazzy beat, Action Bronson and Chance The Rapper make this a song worth mentioning for years to come. I hope to see Action Bronson and Chance The Rapper attempt to make another song in this style, as I feel it highlights both of their individual talents, but it also shows the teamwork they have to offer while working with each other.

If you like and enjoy the content that I have to offer please consider liking, following, and/or commenting on my posts. It really means a lot. Thanks for your continued support!

Why Opinions Are Needed

The year is 2018, the United States is still confused from one of the most interesting and strangest elections of all time. Violence and hate are once again on the rise; anger flows through almost everyone. Yet, a small light swims through the darkness. The light you are seeing is something or someone who goes against the grain, one who doesn’t pick sides nor do they have a bias towards anyone or anything. But just as it appears, it’s gone and consumed by the darkness. That small beacon of hope is now one with the evergrowing darkness that consumes the world. It’s now unjust and wrong to have a different idea of the world and what goes on in it.

I used to grow up thinking that it was exemplary to voice your opinion and to peacefully find solutions with other opinionators. In 2018, it is hard to find someone who isn’t politically sided or morally sided to a certain cause or belief. This leads to an issue of separation between friends, family, and community. Often enough, those friends, family, and communities form their own opinion on the world and the people in it, and sometimes this opinion varies from others. Speaking your mind and standing out is often considered incorrect as it goes against the ideal worldviews we as humans have curated. This issue is further pressed when individuals are berated for thinking differently. We need to support individuals right to form their own opinions as it’s the only way to hear a different side to a story.

A perfect example of hearing different sides of a story is from the D12 song titled “How Come”. “How Come” is about the group laying out their issues with each other especially with Eminem who at the time was at the peak of his career and overshadowed most if not all of the main members of the group. Each verse features either Eminem, Kon Artis, or Proof spelling out the issues they commonly see with each other and how much their friendship matters more than the money and fame. This adult way of handling opinions and issues allows for all members and parties involved to understand the viewpoints that others witness. In the end, D12 is always there for each other and that’s what “How Come” reinforces. This example of valuing opinions and working together find solutions is exactly what the world needs.

In the world, opinions are an absolute must if humans want to overcome and adapt to solve different issues that are thrown at them as a society. This is necessary in order to make the world a better place, however, the individuals and groups who attempt to silence these voices are ruining the whole point of self-expression. Living in a world where inaccurate news, scandals, and lying are to be expected leads to a plethora of problems for everyone to experience. I for one think that we need to express ourselves without judgment, no matter how different the expressed views are. Allowing to hear multiple sides to a story allows for a common solution if we as a collective work together instead of against each other. I truly hope in time we can respect other’s views and opinions to create a safer and more unified Earth for the future generations.

XXXTentacion (1998-2018)

XXXTentacion was murdered yesterday and I believe that he was a great and talented musician, controversy aside. I’ve done a few pieces on him in the past and decided to combine into this post as a tribute and farewell to the musician. I understand he may not have been the best person or even a “good” person but one cannot say he wasn’t an important musician and influence on modern music. Here is all of my previous work on XXXTentacion. I would like to thank individuals such as Andrew, Terrell, Brandy, Alex M., and Keiyana for getting me into and reminding me of the importance and influence that  XXXTentacion had.

Expression (August 28, 2017)

Music is an ever-changing art; always adapting to reflect the thoughts and feelings of the creator. More recently, we’ve seen musicians be more open with themselves and their true feelings on the record and off. Having a musician open up about their lives and hardships makes them more relatable and gives their fans a physical-being to resonate with instead of an abstract piece of art.

The means of expression through music is across every genre because it is needed to connect with those who listen to the art. Chester Bennington was one of the musicians who were always more open about his life than others, which lead to his music becoming more of a representation of feelings rather than pure thought. With his recent passing, it is plausible to see how his music could serve as his vessel for expression of feelings and possible cry for help. This unfortunate loss is another reminder that just because someone is rich and famous, it doesn’t equate to happiness.

More recently, rappers have come forward and have used their talent to express how they really feel about their private life and public life. XXXTentacion has become one of the newest artists to be expressive, sincere, and open with his fans through music. Even if these larger-than-life musicians may live far from ordinary lives, they still face common problems. These problems could range anywhere from depression, heartbreak or simply not knowing what their purpose in life is. These topics are just a few of the many that these musicians share with their fans and the rest of the world.

This month saw the release of XXXTentacion’s debut album 17, this 22-minute project is the pinnacle of expression for an artist of his stature. The album whilst short provides hours upon hours of content to dwell on after the first listen. This album directly aims for the heart and mind when it comes to lyricism; each song sets out to tell a story and seek a resolution within their two or three-minute duration. The biggest strength of this album is the telling of pure emotion and heartfelt pain that is evidently presented through this medium to help educate and inform his fans of not only his own pain but to show that it is acceptable to speak openly about personal issues.

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Musicians with this talent to create art reflective of their thoughts is what makes the genre worth listening to. Artists like XXXTentacion are leading the way for a new generation of rapper’s, this new generation is paving for a new style by simply telling the cold-hearted truth about their problems. With every music release seeming more like a therapy appointment between the artist and listener, it is easy to see why this format works as much as it does. Anyone can write lines about their day and how they feel but it takes a certain degree of devotion to transform the bars to emotion-provoking songs.

The genre of rap has seen many bright and talented members over the years and continues to grow in size, impact, and talent every day; but this decade has seen the rise of some of the brightest and most promising individuals of all time. The key to their success is their dedication to the expression of their thoughts and feelings especially those thoughts that reflect the current state of social issues in the world. The expression of emotion is the most important factor when making music and needs to be exploited for the sake of creating beautiful works of art.

Expression Pt. 2 – ? (March 16, 2018)

One of the more controversial figures of modern music has made his intentions clear with his newest album titled ?. XXXTentacion has had a rough start whether it be from Drake, legal issues, or even betrayal. Even with a bumpy origin and difficult career, XXXTentacion has been creating some of the most out-there music lately. His unique take on music has seen him ranging from aggressive to sad often, however, on ? his full potential is realized. XXXTentacion is arguably one of the most talented musicians in modern music, but why?

XXXTentacion originally got famous off of “Look At Me”, which is a very abrasive and aggressive track that many people celebrated especially during his time spent incarcerated. Following his release, he released 17 which became yet another large topic of discussion. People were confused when they heard this aggressive rapper making slow, sad, and thought-provoking music which stemmed from depression and obsession. 17 was a turning point in his career as it not only showed his versatility, it also showed his true feelings and thoughts. These thoughts are quite saddening and hint at an internal struggle of love and hate for those he cares about. The album introduced us to a new side of XXXTentacion one that would be fully explored on ?.

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The album is a further indoctrination into the mind, heart, and soul of XXXTentacion. This album is far from rap, as it has a very slow and angsty sound. XXXTentacion steps out of his comfort zone and crosses the genre line especially on songs like “NUMB” and “Changes”. is XXXTentacion showing his true intent and feelings, while still keeping his signature style intact at times. The sound of ? is rare as it has hardly been seen coming from an artist who started their career in rap. Lil Peep and Trippie Redd are roughly the only comparative musicians that come to mind when discussing this sound. The alternative nature of ? what makes it work so well, the sound is refreshing yet powerful.

In 18 tracks, XXXTentacion accomplishes what many artists can’t. invokes emotion from the deepest depths of one’s psyche. shows the grim reality of life through deep lyrics and slow beats. XXXTentacion has departed from his rap roots on ? and I hope this transition continues to see the light of day. With each release, XXXTentacion is slowly dissipating music norms as he continues to put out another high-quality album that deviates from the standard trap sound that modern rap has fallen into.

10 Best Albums of 2018 (1/1-3/22) (March 22, 2018)

XXXTentacion delivers his heart and soul on his second album, ?. This album is a great way to start off the year for XXXTentacion and continues to solidify his authenticity for being one of the more influential artists of this modern age. ? benefits from the range and versatility that XXXTentacion has to offer. Songs like “I Don’t Even Speak Spanish Lol” wouldn’t normally be seen in this context nor would it even be good, however, XXXTentacion has cracked this formula on ?. With 17 and ? under his belt, XXXTentacion has had an impressive run over the past two years and I doubt we will be seeing him slow down anytime soon.

3×3 Monday’s 6/18/18

Count Bassy – Dance Gavin Dance

After releasing their newest album titled Artificial Selection, I’ve grown attached to “Count Bassy” more than almost any other song from the album. While I do love “Care”, “Midnight Crusade”, and “Evaporate” more than any other Dance Gavin Dance song, however, “Count Bassy” extorts a unique charm that I look forward to experiencing whenever I put it on. “Count Bassy” is a very groovy and enticing song that I hope more people listen to this year. If you haven’t already, give “Count Bassy” and Artificial Selection a listen, as I find it to be one of the best albums of this year!

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I Know What You Want – Busta Rhymes

The early 2000’s were a renaissance for hip-hop music. With 90’s R&B being arguably the dominant genre of the decade, it was finally time for hip-hop to reinvent itself in the 2000’s. This revitalization of a genre was possible by combining the best parts of 90’s R&B with the lyrical aesthetic that hip-hop had to offer at the time. In doing so, allowed artists such as Busta Rhymes to explore their musical talents in a new light. “I Know What You Want” features Mariah Carey and The Flipmode Squad as they slide across the smooth beat with flirtatious rhymes. This song is a certified classic in my book, and to this day the opening bass line still sounds incredible with the proper audio setup.

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WIN- Jay Rock

Jay Rock has been someone I’ve kept an eye on for many years. His relationship with Kendrick Lamar is something that inevitably gave his career a huge boost and allowed him to shine as an artist. “WIN” is the closest thing to a victory anthem in 2018. The song features Jay Rock detailing his successes and accomplishments in life as he went from nothing to something. This cleverly, “features” Kendrick Lamar in the background hyping up Jay Rock with an assortment of ad-libs to show this dedication to the artist. Jay Rock and Kendrick Lamar are a great duo and I’m glad to see even though Kendrick Lamar will always be infinitely more popular than Jay Rock, he still stays around and supports his friend.

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Put Your Money – Ludacris

Going back to the statement about the hip-hop renaissance, Ludacris is another important member and leader of this movement. “Put Your Money” works so well as an exhilarating song due to its steel drum inspired beat and feature from DMX. It is known that DMX can change the tone of almost any song he’s on which allows Ludacris to sound more menacing and upbeat than usual. The song itself is about gambling, yet it still retains an intimidating vibe about owning up to things in life. Ludacris really know’s how to make hit songs, and “Put Your Money” is just example of his versatility.

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FAKE – Brockhampton

“FAKE” is my favorite song from the Saturation 1. This song, however, isn’t a traditional Brockhampton song. “FAKE” features the main members with voice modulations, which is something typically used by Kevin Abstract on certain songs. This time, the group is allowed to have fun in their raps and toy around with their style while masking their identity to a degree. Another important part of “FAKE” is the repeated phrase of “Don’t Say That”. The repeated phrase is comparable to the music industry and other industries in which people must be what the label or corporation wants them to be and not be who they really are. This degree of censorship runs rampant in celebrity life and unfortunately, Brockhampton has seemingly come across this and continue to fight it on “FAKE”.

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Countin’ Up – Rico Nasty

I didn’t know who Rico Nasty was until being introduced to her recently by my friend Jayda. Jayda posted on social media about Rico Nasty so I was intrigued enough to look her up. I heard a few songs and looked forward to her upcoming mixtape titled “Nasty”. This mixtape is insane for a 21-year-old that is also a mother of a two-year-old. The beat of “Countin’ Up” immediately sets the tone of the song as Rico Nasty busts onto the scene and immediately starts taking shots. The infectious and memorable beat only further makes her sound like a force to be reckoned with as she continues her tirade. I fully enjoyed “Nasty” and plan to do more on in the future.

Thank you Jayda for introducing me to her!

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Get It Right (Remix) – Diplo

I recently started listening to Diplo because of his LSD project with Labyrinth and Sia, so I am far from a long-time fan. I decided to look into his work. I noticed he did a song with Goldlink and immediately decided to check it out. I was not disappointed as I heard Goldlink glide over the beat that featured MØ. Diplo really reinvented the idea of a remix by improving an already great song with a great feature, which is something most artists fail to deliver on. I decided to listen to the rest of his California EP to which I really enjoyed his experimentation with many modern rappers. I recommend the EP and this song to anyone who is a fan of the new LSD project.

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TEMPTATION – Joey Bada$$

“TEMPTATION” is one of the few songs that serve as a summer hit while still delivering an important message about fighting temptations. Joey Bada$$ made one of the most addicting songs with “TEMPTATIONS” and I couldn’t be any happier with hearing this on my Summer playlist. The fun beat and talent that shine through on this track make for a pleasant and habitual song that I’ve come to love. The chorus and lyrics are some of the best I’ve heard recently and honestly makes me wish I had heard this song earlier. Either way, I cannot wait to see what Joey Bada$$ does next!

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Artificial – EARTHGANG

I found this song by accident last week while attempting to listen to Artificial Selection by Dance Gavin Dance. While typing in Artifical, I accidentally chose this song, and I’m glad that I did. “Artificial” tells the tale of wanting something real over something that’s fake. With a beautiful piano-based beat and solid rapping from EARTHGANG, it’s easy to see why I enjoy this song so much even if it was discovered by accident. I plan to listen to their discography and possibly write a short piece on them too as I can see them blowing up relatively soon if “Artificial” was any indication.

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Artist Spotlight #2 – Adjust the Sails

Smaller artists need to be recognized for their unique talents and popularity in their community. After months of planning, I’ve finally decided to launch this series to help promote smaller artists in an attempt to get their name and talent out there to the wider public. Every artist I cover in this series has been hand-picked for their style, talent, and character. I ‘ve recommended every artist I write about and this is no exception. Without further explanation, here is my second pick: Adjust the Sails.

Adjust the Sails is a two-piece group from Baltimore. Shane Hurst and Steven Haller make up this duo. They started off as a solo acoustic project in 2014 with the Til Death Do Us Part EP. This EP was heavily inspired by bands such as Brand New, La Dispute, Taking Back Sunday, My Chemical Romance. The songs they created were a means of self-therapy and based around the idea that they could possibly provide help to those who have had troubles with depression and their own demons. Adjust the Sails would then go on hiatus from 2016-2017.

2018 would see the end of the hiatus and a new beginning for the group. This reformation spawned their new EP titled I’m Not Okay But It’s Okay. This EP consisted of more folk punkish/upbeat songs but are still lyrically based around the basic ideas that they were founded on. The first song on the EP was “Ashley”. “Ashley” was written while Shane was reconnecting with his first love. This theme would go on to ultimately become the tone of I’m Not Okay But It’s Okay. Over the past few years, Adjust the Sails have played many house shows and local shows around Maryland along with a few out-of-state shows in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and North Carolina.

On July 1st, Adjust the Sails will be performing at the Maryland Music Madness at the Fish Head Cantina. They also have an interest in performing at the Frozen Harbor Fest 2019. The group is also working on recording another EP that will be released in the near future. Adjust the Sails is working on trying to tour around the East Coast this year. The group itself is growing rapidly and have almost 2,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. I recommend you check out their music and follow them on Facebook too for future updates and news!

Here is a message from Adjust the Sails:

Thank you to all those who support us. Don’t give up on doing what makes you happy or what you’re passionate about no matter what other people say. There’s always gonna be people who are against you, but it’s up to us to prove them wrong.

I’m Not Okay But It’s Okay is on Spotify now!

Saint Kendrick: The Cinematic Nature of Kendrick Lamar Part III

This is the third part of a multi-part release exclusively on this page. (link to the first part here, second here)  My friend Dan Glennon (@ZiggyStarscream) on Twitter and Instagram has been working tirelessly for many weeks to write these entries for my readers. I hope you all enjoy, and I present to you Saint Kendrick: The Cinematic Nature of Kendrick Lamar Part III. If you like and enjoy the content that I have to offer please consider liking, following, and/or commenting on my posts. It really means a lot. Thanks for your continued support!

To Pimp A Butterfly: The Culture and the Cross

Okay now, this is the part where things get interesting. Let’s set the stage. Kendrick Lamar is a now established artist who is getting praised as the next Tupac. His conscious rhymes and storytelling are unparalleled to everyone out there today. With all of that, Kendrick had the mantle placed on him as he was pushed to the podium. Mic check, mic check, this is the new face of black culture in America; Kendrick Lamar. Now think about it this way. A young man in his early 20’s gets a huge influx of money, notoriety, prosperity and of course more responsibility. Kendrick reminds us frequently that is his merely a human being. These same stressors that ‘we’ deal with on a daily basis, Kendrick deals with too. Shoved into the spotlight and asked to hold the world, he retreated. This is an album of the internal struggle inside the real Kendrick Lamar as he deals with being asked to be the champion. He was introduced to be hip-hop’s savior. ‘Savior’ is a lot to ask of one man.

To Pimp a Butterfly is an extremely dense album full of themes, style, and ideology. From the production aspect, Kendrick brings sounds from all across the African-American culture. With jazz, funk, soul, r&b and various eras of hip-hop all being brought together, sonically it sounds like an opus to the black culture. Using situations in the political and social atmosphere during the release of the album in 2015, Kendrick creates the wasteland of circumstance that he leads the listener through on a journey of self-reflection as he, himself, wrestles with the weight of responsibility that he has been forced to bear.

Reflecting the world around him of police brutality, institutionalized racism, and social marginalization, Kendrick chronicles the aftermath of his success from his first album. He stole the crown as the greatest rapper in the world and the focus of the world turned onto him. Kendrick was the good kid that came out of Compton who made it out. The album is structured around a poem that is progressively revealed as the album continues. We are brought through multiple different arcs of how Kendrick dealt with the changes in his life and how he was seen as someone to vault forward the culture as the next great voice.

“I remember you was conflicted, misusing your influence…”

The first stage takes place during the first three songs; ‘Wesley’s Theory’, ‘For Free? – Interlude’, and ‘King Kunta’. This is essentially the id response for Kendrick. His first thoughts are the glamorous benefits of his success. He could now get the cars and clothes he never could. VIP trips around the world with award shows. Kendrick could bring all the ones he met along the way. The good kid made it out of Compton and can lead the city with him to the promised land. Did I mention the money? Conversely weaved throughout those same songs is the institutional and social structures put in place through the pressure of those around him, bureaucratic influence or unspoken sociological rules that have been in American culture for generations that place black Americans in a position to fail.

“I remember you was conflicted, misusing your influence

Sometimes I did the same…”

With his newfound success, Kendrick could come back to Compton as the king of hip-hop but he has yet to experience the backlash of his actions. This is where the second arc of the story is introduced. Kendrick realizes that he not only has fame and fortune but he now has influence socially and most dangerously, power. He tells us the story of how he brought his friends from back home to an award show only to have one of them attempt to rob some of the high profile events. The friend explains himself by saying how else would he respond? Never had he been around that type of wealth while he sees people in his immediate world struggling because of factors that are largely beyond their control? The other story we are told is one of Kendrick and a girl and her baby daddy.. Beautifully told through metaphors, Kendrick tells us of his sexual relationship with this young woman. Towards the end of the song, Kendrick reveals that this woman has a child with the man who killed Kendrick’s friend during the song ‘Sing About Me’ on Good Kid mAAd City and Kendrick is the reason that that man is now serving life in prison.

“I remember you was conflicted, misusing your infuence

Sometimes I did the same

Abusing my power full of resentment

Resentment that turned into a deep depression

I found myself screaming in the hotel room…”

Struggling with the weight of his responsibility and how easily he could abuse his newfound power, Kendrick contemplates how the world perceives him as opposed to how he is as a human being. Is he the voice that they think he is? Kendrick finds himself in moments of weakness where his actions produce real and tangible consequences.. Kendrick turns inward on his own consciousness to open up the past events that put him where he is today, mainly on the death of his friend during the story arc of Good Kid mAAd City. Despite this depression, Kendrick reminds himself of the world he comes from is one where the struggle was the environment. With a natural survival instinct and the tools to fight back, Kendrick really back.

“I remember you was conflicted, misusing your influence

Sometimes I did the same

Abusing my power full of resentment

Resentment that turned into a deep depression

I found myself screaming in the hotel room

I didn’t want to self-destruct, the evils of Lucy was all around me

So I went running for answers…”

This is probably the most important portion of the poem as far as the underlying plot of Kendrick’s work as this piece is written to highlight. This is where we are introduced to the villain in Kendrick’s story; “Lucy.” She is personified as a wealthy, connected and beautiful woman who has taken an interest to Kendrick.

What’s wrong nigga?
I thought you was keeping it gangsta?
I thought this what you wanted?
They say if you scared go to church
But remember
He knows the bible too…

…My name is Lucy Kendrick
You introduced me Kendrick
Usually I don’t do this
But I see you and me Kendrick
Lucy Give you no worries
Lucy got million stories
About these rappers I came after when they was boring
Lucy gone fill your pockets
Lucy gone move your mama out of Compton
Inside the gi-gantic mansion like I promised
Lucy just want your trust and loyalty
Avoiding me?
It’s not so easy I’m at these functions accordingly
Kendrick, Lucy don’t slack a minute
Lucy work harder
Lucy gone call you even when Lucy know you love your Father
I’m Lucy
I loosely heard prayers on your first album truly
Lucy don’t mind cause at the end of the day you’ll pursue me
Lucy go get it, Lucy not timid, Lucy up front
Lucy got paper work on top of paper work
I want you to know that Lucy got you
All your life I watched you
And now you all grown up then sign this contract if that’s possible”

-’For Sale? – Interlude’

The bolded lines are the portion of the intro and Lucy’s monologue that reveals who she really is. Kendrick Lamar is not surprisingly a devout Christian as well as faith being a central piece of black culture. The first part is a reminder that ‘He’ knows the bible as well. This is referencing Satan or in this case, ‘Lucifer’. Clearly, Lucy was not talking about Kendrick’s biological father but God. The final part to unpack is the last line where Lucy asks Kendrick to sign a contract. The classic myth in American folklore is there is a crossroad down in the Mississippi River delta where you can go to meet with the devil who will grant you one wish in exchange for you signing away your soul. This legend has been around for well over a century (at least) and has been retold or paraphrased in countless ways. Borrowing the idea from this myth, Kendrick creates the character of ‘Lucy’ to be the embodiment of the devil himself.

“I remembered you was conflicted
Misusing your influence, sometimes I did the same
Abusing my power full of resentment
Resentment that turned into a deep depression
Found myself screamin’ in the hotel room
I didn’t wanna self destruct
The evils of Lucy was all around me
So I went runnin’ for answers
Until I came home…”

Kendrick watches his hometown struggle from his vaulted pedestal and knows that he can do something. He speaks during ‘Momma’ a verse that echoes the idea he spoke back on Section 80 but with the added idea that his distance has started to isolate him from the world that he called home:

“I know everything, I know myself
I know morality, spirituality, good and bad health
I know fatality might haunt you
I know everything, I know Compton
I know street shit, I know shit that’s conscious, I know everything
I know lawyers, advertisement and sponsors
I know wisdom, I know bad religion, I know good karma
I know everything, I know history
I know the universe works mentally
I know the perks of bullshit isn’t meant for me
I know everything, I know cars, clothes, hoes and money
I know loyalty, I know respect, I know those that’s Ornery
I know everything, the highs to lows to groupies and junkies
I know if I’m generous at heart, I don’t need recognition
The way I’m rewarded, well, that’s God’s decision
I know you know that lines from Compton School District
Just give it to the kids, don’t gossip about how it was distributed
I know how people work, I know the price of life
I know how much it’s worth, I know what I know and I know it well
Not to ever forget until I realized I didn’t know shit
The day I came home”

‘Momma’

While he helps his hometown as much as he can, Kendrick realizes that there is little he can do to change it for the better unless he takes a stand against the systems in place that poison the water in Compton and prevent it from blooming into what Kendrick believes it can be. He sees the people who want ‘realness’ from hip-hop but don’t look for it. He sees the political deadlock that he compares to nothing more than a gang war that plagues his hometown. Kendrick now sees everything and more importantly after seeing the pitfalls of those who came before him and the wasteland that his city has become as a result he sees the work of Lucy.

“I remember you was conflicted
Misusing your influence
Sometimes I did the same
Abusing my power full of resentment
Resentment that turned into a deep depression
Found myself screaming in a hotel room
I didn’t want to self-destruct
The evils of Lucy was all around me
So I went running for answers
Until I came home
But that didn’t stop survivors guilt
Going back and forth
Trying to convince my self the stripes I earned
Or maybe how A-1 my foundation was
But while my loved ones was fighting
A continuous war back in the city
I was entering a new one…”

Kendrick became increasingly angry as he saw more and more things eating away at his city from the inside. He became cynical and jaded. One night as he was leaving a gas station Kendrick was approached by a homeless man who asked for a single dollar. Kendrick went to his car and closed the door but he did not leave as for some reason these two men had their eyes locked and could not look away. The homeless man spoke to Kendrick with a pointed and prophetic choice of words.

“He said, “My son, temptation is one thing that I’ve defeated
Listen to me, I want a single bill from you
Nothin’ less, nothin’ more…

 

…Starin’ at me for the longest until he finally asked
Have you ever opened to Exodus 14?
A humble man is all that we ever need
Tell me how much a dollar cost?”

-’How Much A Dollar Cost?’

Now to understand this reference it is necessary to have the prior knowledge of the biblical story of Exodus where Moses leads the Jewish people out of slavery in Egypt with a few verses in particular that are especially poignant. This story applies to Kendrick in this particular situation as he is being viewed by the world as someone who is meant to lead the entire culture forward. However, unlike Moses, this is not something he has chosen to do. Beyond the weight of the cross but he walks through the desert with Lucy following closely behind. Kendrick has embraced his selfishness and put his self-preservation into the forefront of his mind. Walking the soft and gradual path into Lucy’s arms, Kendrick is pulled back by something unexpected from this homeless man.

My selfishness is what got me here, who the f*ck I’m kiddin’?

So I’ma tell you like I told the last bum, crumbs and pennies

I need all of mines, and I recognize this type of panhandlin’ all the time

I got better judgement, I know when nigga’s hustlin’

Keep in mind, when I was strugglin’, I did compromise

Now I comprehend, I smell grandpa’s old medicine

Reekin’ from your skin, moonshine and gin

Nigga your babblin’, your words ain’t flatterin’, I’m imaginin’

Denzel be lookin’ at O’Neal

Cause now I’m in sad thrills, your gimmick is mediocre, the jig is up

I seen you from a mile away losin’ focus

And I’m insensitive, and I lack empathy

You looked at me and said, “Your potential is bittersweet”

I looked at him and said, “Every nickel is mines to keep”

He looked at me and said, “Know the truth, it’ll set you free

You’re lookin’ at the Messiah, the son of Jehova, the higher power

The choir that spoke the word, the Holy Spirit, the nerve
Of Nazareth, and I’ll tell you just how much a dollar cost
The price of having a spot in Heaven, embrace your loss, I am God”


-’How Much A Dollar Cost?’

After this incident, Kendrick has a new outlook on his role in the world. He knows that he has power and a voice that can be heard. Taking a strong stand against colorism inside the black community, gang violence, public perception of black people, and police brutality. Kendrick makes an observation that while there are systems in place to hold back the black culture and neighborhoods however he also sees that the culture is not helping itself with the way it currently lives in American society.

“I been wrote off before, I got abandonment issues
I hold grudges like bad judges, don’t let me resent you
That’s not Nelson-like, want you to love me like Nelson
I went to Robben’s Island analysing, that’s where his cell is
So I could find clarity, like how much you cherish me
Is this relationship a fake or real as the heavens be?
See I got to question it all, family, friends, fans, cats, dogs
Trees, plants, grass, how the wind blow
Murphy’s Law, generation X, will I ever be your ex?
Floss off a baby step, mobbed by the mouth a bit
Pause, put me under stress
Crawled under rocks, ducking y’all, it’s respect
But then tomorrow, put my back against the wall
How many leaders you said you needed then left ’em for dead?
Is it Moses, is it Huey Newton or Detroit Red?
Is it Martin Luther, JFK, shooter you assassin
Is it Jackie, is it Jesse, oh I know, it’s Michael Jackson, oh

When shit hit the fan, is you still a fan?
When shit hit the fan, is you still a fan?
That nigga gave us Billie Jean, you say he touched those kids?
When shit hit the fan, is you still a fan?”
-’Mortal Man’

With little guidance as he stepped into this role, he turned back to his role model and his similar path. In what can only be described as a prayer, Kendrick completes the poem and reads it to Tupac Shakur. Kendrick asks Tupac several questions in some ways to lead the people from the desert. Finding some sense of comfort from this discussion, Kendrick reads one more poem that was written by a friend of his that inspired the album.

“I wanted to read one last thing to you. It’s actually something a good friend had wrote describing my world. It says:

‘The caterpillar is a prisoner to the streets that conceived it
Its only job is to eat or consume everything around it, in order to protect itself from this mad city
While consuming its environment the caterpillar begins to notice ways to survive
One thing it noticed is how much the world shuns him, but praises the butterfly
The butterfly represents the talent, the thoughtfulness, and the beauty within the caterpillar
But having a harsh outlook on life the caterpillar sees the butterfly as weak and figures out a way to pimp it to his own benefits
Already surrounded by this mad city the caterpillar goes to work on the cocoon which institutionalizes him
He can no longer see past his own thoughts
He’s trapped
When trapped inside these walls certain ideas start to take roots, such as going home, and bringing back new concepts to this mad city
The result?
Wings begin to emerge, breaking the cycle of feeling stagnant
Finally free, the butterfly sheds light on situations that the caterpillar never considered, ending the eternal struggle
Although the butterfly and caterpillar are completely different, they are one and the same.’

What’s your perspective on that?
Pac? Pac…? Pac!”
The interesting thing about this album, planned or not, is that Kendrick was 27 years old when it was released. Tupac was killed when he was 27 years old. In a state of silence afterward, as the album comes to an end Kendrick realizes that beyond this point, he is alone in walking this path but embraces all that comes with it. At this point, Kendrick is anointed and from here onward he walks as Saint Kendrick.

How To Fix Brockhampton

Brockhampton became a force to be reckoned with in 2017 with their Saturation trilogy. Each album had its highs and lows but overall were outstanding albums from the “boy band”. Each member of Brockhampton brought something new and refreshing to the table with each album release. Members such as Kevin Abstract, Ameer Vann, Matt Champion, Joba, Dom McLennon, Dom McLennon, and Bearface were on their way to rising to the top, however, 2018 would forever change Brockhampton and their sound, style, and meaning.

In May, several allegations were made against Ameer Vann citing that he was abusive and manipulative. These allegations would quickly lead to the removal of my favorite member of the group. Ameer Vann, however, was the face and icon of the Brockhampton brand. His face was the cover of the three Saturation albums and his unique style and delivery gave the band a distinct sound. The removal of arguably the best member of Brockhampton was crushing to me and other fans alike. Ameer Vann was the reason why I enjoyed the group as much as I did. Often in the music industry bands can survive and adapt to lineup changes, yet Brockhampton without Ameer Vann is hard to imagine. How can one of the most innovative and popular rap groups continue without one of their best members and the face of the band?

The best answer I can produce for this question would be Jaden Smith. In 2017 Jaden Smith put out my favorite album of the year with SYRE. The album quickly became one of my favorites of all time due to its impeccable production and Jaden Smith’s talent coming to fruition. Brockhampton conveniently has impeccable production and features immense figures of talent. Why not fill in the hole left by Ameer Vann with an equally talented and important figure? Jaden Smith is known to be a fan and possible collaborator with the group, why not introduce him on their next album titled PUPPY. Jaden Smith jokingly has mentioned that he was the newest member and has also apparently spent multiple weeks living and working with the group. When Brockhampton inked a deal with RCA for approximately 15 million, the group tapped star, Jaden Smith, to be a part of their announcement video. With an open spot and a promising musician showing interest, it would make the most sense to include him.

In order to do this, Brockhampton would need to reevaluate their formula and style. Ameer Vann was featured on almost every song the group put out, and they undoubtedly had him on the upcoming album. The removal of Ameer Van would require redoing the album anyway, why not just replace Ameer Vann’s sections with Jaden Smith? If Jaden Smith proved anything on SYRE, he proved that he is versatile and capable of adjusting to different styles and sounds. Jaden Smith is my obvious candidate to replace my favorite member, even considering both blew up last year with their debut albums. The chemistry between the current members is already perfected, throwing in Jaden Smith would be a challenge that the band would have to adapt to, however, the finished product would be something we’ve never seen nor heard before.

With Brockhampton set to appear on Jimmy Fallon this month, it would be the best time to announce this lineup change. Jaden Smith’s inclusion would not only bring attention to the group once more, it would also give the fans something to look forward to on PUPPY. While we only have a wait a few days to see what Brockhampton does on Jimmy Fallon, I can assure you that adding Jaden Smith would be a pleasant surprise to me. With or without Ameer Vann, the group is still contractually obligated to produce six more albums. I am a huge fan of Brockhampton already, that adding Jaden Smith would only give me yet another thing to be excited for in 2018.

If you like and enjoy the content that I have to offer please consider liking, following, and/or commenting on my posts. It really means a lot. Thanks for your continued support!

Favorite Song Friday #5

6/15/18

“Rollout (My Business)”  – Ludacris

Ludacris-Rollout

Ludacris was one of the first artists I remember enjoying as a child. In fact, Ludacris got me in trouble in Kindergarten for quoting his hit song “Move Bitch”. As I grew older, Word of Mouf has since become one of my favorite albums of all time. “Rollout” is essentially flexing at it’s finest (at least for 2001). Ludacris flaunts his extravagant and opulent life as a successful rapper and celebrity. In “Rollout”, Ludacris brags about the usual money, cars, drugs, and women while still standing out to other similar songs from this period. With an explosive and fun beat, Ludacris made one of the most infectious and entertaining songs of the 2000s. Combining the playful beat with an empowering chorus makes “Rollout” a timeless classic in my book. Even with the reference to a PlayStation 2, Ludacris proves once again that he deserves to be in the books.

I really enjoy this song because of its unique perspective on flexing in 2001. Ludacris seemingly plays the part of an observer who questions all of his purchases. This easily paints a clever and vivid picture of someone constantly bothering Ludacris about the way he spends his money and how irresponsible it is. While switching from questioning to flaunting, Ludacris makes the most of his almost four-minute runtime. Which surely this song is old, it still can be enjoyed and blasted in 2018 and beyond. I highly recommend Word of Mouf to any fan of this song or Ludacris himself, as I believe it’s his best album to date. Word of Mouf is filled with ingenious wordplay and perhaps one of the best features by the late Nate Dogg. Don’t be surprised to see Ludacris or Word of Mouf to pop up again in the near future. Until then, I will still be listening to “Rollout” on a daily basis like I have been for the past 10 years.

If you like and enjoy the content that I have to offer please consider liking, following, and/or commenting on my posts. It really means a lot. Thanks for your continued support!

 

My 50th Post

After turning my love for writing into a hobby a year ago, I never thought I would make it this far. I’ve found a positive and effective outlet to express myself and my thoughts to the world and my audience. WordPress has given me an opportunity to be myself while exploring my views on music and film. What has honestly shocked me the most about writing is the audience I’ve built. I never would have thought I’d have more than one follower. I currently have over 150 followers and to me that’s insane. Being able to write for you all has given me a way to simply be myself and not be ashamed or concerned. I’ve made friends along the way, I’ve learned new things, and most importantly I’ve had fun. I rarely find fun in my hobbies, however, writing has made the biggest impact on me mentally. I currently have many ongoing and successful series that I look forward to continuing each week. Especially the last week and a half, I’ve become set on making my Summer count and have been publishing an article a day. While this is stressful and quite difficult for me, I’ve found it rewarding to see the interaction it gets from readers and friends.

So far this Summer I’ve published 19 articles not counting this one. This has been an interesting challenge that I want to run with for as long as I can. I would like to thank everyone that follows me and/or reads my content as it means the world to me that people enjoy my work and thoughts. I would also especially like to thank the following people for their help and support since I’ve begun writing: Steve For The Deaf, MusiCommentator, Molasses, Under Dog Off The Bench, Dan Glennon, Ashley, Terrell, Alex M, Jayda, Keonte, Kamyria, Shane, Dallas, Joe S, Brandon A, Riley, Brandy, Matt G, Cody, Mike W, Lamont, Joseph A, Tyron, Casey, Nisker, Calvin, Diana, Hunter, Sarah, Jorge, Justin B, Deven, Sam, Trey, Taheim, Aria, Andrew, and most importantly my Dad.

Those who I didn’t mention, I still want to say thank you for the support and help too! 50 posts down, 50 more to go.

Depression Vs. Music

Depression is more common than you might think, it affects over 16.1 million Americans and continues to become a daily factor in life. In life depression can be hard to handle, coming from someone who has it himself. It can eat at you and tear you down, depression is relentless. Sometimes medicine, therapy, and other treatments simply don’t work and at that point, it usually seems hopeless. There is, however, a silver lining in life: music. Music is an art form that can be interpreted in an infinite amount of ways. These interpretations can create an endless string of insightful and intuitive thoughts. Now more than ever, depression and other mental health issues are becoming a known problem in the world, especially in America. With a bigger focus on these disorders, artists have taken it upon themselves to put these feelings into words and more importantly into music. With a growing rate of depression in the world comes a growing rate of musicians who attempt to combat depression by presenting their interpretation of their thoughts and feelings.

More recently, however, artists have come to abuse this message for personal gain. The main artist on my list is Drake. Drake is known for being a “soft” and “vulnerable” guy who just wants to succeed, yet is he really worthy of being an icon for mental health? It is a known fact that humans have and show a variety of emotions on a daily basis, however, is Drake frequently depressed and upset about things? While we may never truly know this answer, it’s easy to agree that Drake is not that icon. Drake has even gone against those who suffer from depression themselves in the past especially Kid Cudi in 2017.

In 2017, Drake released “Two Birds, One Stone” which was a diss to Meek Mill, Pusha T, and most notably Kid Cudi. At this time, Kid Cudi was going through personal issues and had been in rehabilitation. Kid Cudi was very vulnerable during this time, yet Drake still decided to take the shot at him regardless. I firmly believe everyone in rap music can be criticized and dissed, especially when it’s beneficial for both parties involved, except this, wasn’t beneficial for Kid Cudi in any way, shape, or form. Calling someone out while they are actively seeking help is the exact opposite of beneficial. This shot by Drake only further shows why he shouldn’t be an icon. By dissing someone who is in a depressive and dark stage of their life you’ve not only brought negative attention and remarks to the already hurt person, but you’re also making their treatment harder to get through. Nobody in this world wants to be called out for doing the right thing, especially when they are taking care of their own psyche. By supporting Drake and his actions, we as a society are taking two steps back.

With suicide becoming a rising statistic in the world, it is up to us to stop it. It is up to the people of the world to do their best to support someone who is going through tough times. Lending a hand to a fallen friend is what ultimately brings people together. Unification in 2018 is essential. Far too often we hear about more and more suicide cases each year such as Chester Bennington, Chris Cornell, Kate Spade, and Anthony Bourdain most recently. This constant growth is what we as a society need to talk and be concerned about. Per year, roughly one million people will commit suicide. We need a positive icon to combat this statistic. While each person has their own opinion on who should be the face of mental health one thing is for sure: Drake is simply not that icon.