Butlerisms: Why Your Dad Is Wrong About Hip-Hop

by oliver butler (@notoliverbutler)

Ah, 2018. Six days into you and we’ve already had a dick swinging contest between the USA and North Korea and learned that the leader of the former is a petulant child who enjoys cheeseburgers and hairspray. Not even the Gorilla Channel could soothe our already weary souls, as we realise that this year probably isn’t going to get much better. Just more of the same shit under a different banner.

So it was no surprise that everyone’s favourite free puppy training paper, the NME, took time out of its busy schedule reporting on Liam Gallagher taking a shit or comparing some big band with The Beatles (because every band’s benchmark in life is to be the fucking Beatles) to furrow their indie brows, scratch their chins and cluck “Is Hip Hop now bigger than Rock?”.

Side note: I once got into an argument with the nice lady who works in my local record store because she tried to give me a copy of the NME and I really, really didn’t want it.

 

2018-01-06

 

First of all, the data confirms it. Hip-hop artists filled Nielsen’s end of year data on what people listened to, with only Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift muscling in the top ten, the latter proving that an appetite for eating shit is still rife. Really, that’s come as a shock to nobody who doesn’t believe that music peaked with Oasis. Hip-hop has forever been a more accessible genre, able to cross all tastes. The average metalcore fan and the average pop fan would both be able to listen to Drake with relative ease, because it’s easy on the ears with an accessible sound and theme, but would the average pop fan be able to swallow up some Architects? Probably not, whilst it’s not a secret club, any kind of rock music is indeed an acquired taste unless it’s got a poppy, accessible sound.

Hip-hop being bigger than rock isn’t really the problem, because, at the end of the day, it’s all music; good music is good music regardless, and shouldn’t have to be held aloft purely because it belongs to a certain genre. The real issue here and the one that’s grinding my gears to no end is as per usual, the reaction to the statement that hip-hop is bigger than rock.

“God help us” tweets yer da, who’s currently praying that an Oasis reunion will finally show the kids some good music.

“Crap-hop, more like, Kanye West isn’t half as talented as REAL musicians” your boyfriend comments, desperately searching for that clip of Ye singing Bohemian Rhapsody, determined to prove his point by missing out his entire discography.

“Eugh, it’s just people saying ‘yo yo yo’ and talking about their ‘bitches'” says your weird coworker, who’s probably never listened to hip-hop, but is pretending they know something.

Future-is-the-Only-Artist-to-Have-Two-Gold-Albums-in-2017

The problem here is tribalism. People are so damn narrow-minded that they think bland, milquetoast indie rock like Oasis is the absolute pinnacle of music, or believe that the true flag bearers of rock and roll are the Foo Fighters. Both of these bands are good, but you need to wake up and smell the fucking coffee man as there’s a whole world of great music beyond a driving songs compilation!

Maybe it’s the folk I’ve encountered over the years, but most of this tribalism comes from people only listening to rock music. That’s it. Just rock music. None of that pop for me thank you, I’m happy listening to just rock music (and from experience, not good rock music), and you can keep that stupid hip-hop away from me, it’s just people in hats talking to a beat – it’s so fucking stupid.

When the Coachella announcement landed this week, former boyband heartthrob Louis Tomlinson took to the auld Twitter to ask where all the bands were. I mean, first things first, there ARE bands there you dumb fuck, with alt-J, Highly Suspect, A Perfect Circle, Alvvays and FUCKING CHIC, THE BEST BAND EVER, making an appearance. But obviously, because The Weeknd, Beyoncè and confusingly, Eminem were headlining, this now meant that there were no bands there, and band music was dead. You see what I’m on about here? Because hip-hop/R&B takes statistical prominence, that suddenly means that all the bands ever have been violently culled and will never perform anywhere again. Pull the fucking other mate, and take a look at the Download line up if you want bands.

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I’mma keep it real with you here chief, I don’t listen to that much hip hop compared to some of the other writers here, but I still keep my ears open and palette clean for fresh beats. Some of the best music I heard in 2017 was hip-hop, including Brockhampton & Kendrick Lamar, and I just know that there’s more of that out there, and it’s clear to see why it’s the biggest genre. If someone like me, who does live off a primary diet of heavy rock, metal & big riffs can appreciate the genius that goes into hip-hop, it’s not hard to see why it’s so popular; it’s for everyone, it’s relatable, it’s without dumbing it down too much, poetry on the beat.

This stupid tribalism in music needs to fucking stop. People need to get their heads out of their asses and realise that there’s more to life than thinking rock music is the be all and end all, and that all rock music is great, because it’s really, really not. If you think The Hunna, Liam Gallagher, and The Courteeners are levels above someone like Kendrick, Future or even Kanye, you need your fucking head rattling, because just because it’s rock music, doesn’t mean it’s automatically better. I absolutely love rock music, I love heavy metal, I consider Motörhead and Black Sabbath to be the best acts of all time, but I’m not so damn blinkered that I believe that is all there is to music.

So go on, go and explore some hip-hop, even if ashamedly, you end up liking it. Nobody’ll tell on you.

Album Review: Brockhampton – Saturation II

By Ryan Martin (@RyanMartin182)

In the music industry, following up a successful debut album is often hard to do. It’s a rarity to see an artist carry over what made their debut so exciting with such effortless consistency. Brockhampton, the self-proclaimed “boyband” of 20-24 year olds making music independently out of their house, have done that. They have arguably improved on their debut within the two months since its release.

Brockhampton initially caught waves throughout the internet through their wildly unique self-made music videos for their debut, Saturation. Saturation II followed that same formula and put out music videos for GUMMY, SWAMP, JUNKY, and SWEET. All videos are introduced by web-producer/producer member Robert Ontinient with the now infamous line “Me Illamo Roberto” Ontinient handles all the skits throughout Saturation II as he did in Brockhampton’s first album. The skits are now referred to as scenes as Saturation II follows a five-letter-word rule for every track except the last track which has six. If this sounds familiar, it’s because they did the same thing with Saturation but with four and five letters respectively.

Throughout Saturation II, tracks seamlessly transition into one another without losing a consistent vibe or mood. Tracks also will splinter apart to make way for a new idea or hook, such as the blistering energy of QUEER that flips to an Outkast inspired hook before you have a second to breathe. Kevin Abstract, the ringleader of Brockhampton, usually handles the hooks and has a knack for creating sticky catchy choruses influenced from the likes of M.I.A. and Pharrell. Tracks like SWEET, GUMMY, SWAMP and TOKYO come to mind.

Almost every hook on the album is memorable in someway and really showcases how far Abstract has come in just a year, looking back at the mixed-reception on his sophomore album, American Boyfriend: A Suburban Love Story, released just last fall. Since then, Abstract sounds more confident as a performer and has incredibly impressive verses (JUNKY) and hooks (JELLO) all throughout Saturation II. But as talented and visionary as Abstract is, he doesn’t steal the spotlight away from Brockhampton. Members, JOBA, Ameer Vann, Merlyn Wood, Matt Champion, Bearface, and Dom McLennon all have moments throughout every song where they steal the song with their unique styles and undeniably talents.

JOBA has one of the most unique moments with his verse on the back end of SWEET. Mixing falsetto vocals with aggressive bars, it sounds like an anomaly in hip-hop music today. Ameer Vann delivers confessional bars coated with a silk smooth flow that has made him a fan-favorite of the group. TEETH gives Vann a track all to himself where his aggressiveness gradually increases over a slightly haunting sample of “ooo’s” FIGHT shows Vann at his most confessional as it does Dom McLennon. McLennon has often been referred to as the most technical out of Brockhampton and for good reason. McLennon has a knack for quick bars with honesty winded in his rapid rhymes. Such as the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it verse McLennon delivers at the end of JUNKY, one of the most aggressive energetic tracks on the whole album. Filled with incredible verses front to back.

No hands with the stunts / Jump off the roof like I do what I want / All of the life in my past wanna haunt / And my sight of the future beginning to taunt my ambition / Man on the moon, I’m marooned / I ain’t trippin’, I’m on a mission”

Tracks like QUEER and SWEET showcases the dynamic nature of member Merlyn Wood, who yelps his verses with an infectious energy. Wood demonstrates this perfectly on QUEER with a message:

“First off fuck Dolce & Gabbana / Racist mothersuckers tryna be my father / Put that on me auntie and me mama / Grab the Ghost then I go right back to Ghana”

Or the more light-hearted verse in SWEET

 “Don’t call me stupid, that ain’t the way my name pronounced / Don’t call me Cupid, I got too many hoes right now / Poolside in Houston, tryna see if Beyonce will take me for adoption / Broke-ass rich suburbs”

Matt Champion, another fan favorite always delivers with confessional lyrics that are masked by an undeniably swagger, such as his verse in JUNKY

My mom’s no alcoholic, she just wanna drown her sorrows / Love her to death and soon enough I’ll give back all I borrowed”

“Where the respect? Is your ass human? / I look you in your eyes, say “fuck you, are you fuckin’ stupid? / Respect my mother, ‘spect my sister, ‘spect these women, boy”

While Saturation II tends to be fueled by energy, there are few cuts that capture the woozy R&B sound perfectly, such as SUNNY or Bearface’s masterpiece, SUMMER which features such an infectious guitar lick that it evokes emotion. Moving from an energetic track like SWEET to a slower ballad like GAMBA may be the only moment in the entire album that any momentum is lost at all. GAMBA is a love-sick ballad with a sticky repetitive hook from Abstract. If there was a weakest track on Saturation II, this would be it but it’s still an impressive track overall in the grand scheme of hip-hop today.

Saturation II is one of the strongest albums of this year. It’s a refreshing break from the rinse-wash-repeat formula of hip-hop that has been so dominant this year. Brockhampton is filled with so much talent in every member and their latest offering demonstrates such a cohesive collaboration from every member that it makes you wonder where they can go from this and how quickly it’ll be before everyone is familiar with America’s hottest new boyband.

9/10

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Album Review: Ghostpoet- Dark Days + Canapés

By Ethian Woodford (@human_dis4ster)

As referenced in the title of Ghostpoet’s fourth album, the time we are living in right now are, without a doubt, dark days. Due to this, many artists, bands and other members of the media industry have used their medium as a form of escapism whilst some have used it to rally momentum for change. However there a few that have been overwhelmed by the current state of the world and find themselves with nothing much to say other than how awful everything is, and Ghostpoet finds himself very much in that place on this bleak record.

Throughout his career, Ghostpoet has has no problem sounding unique and relevant. While his influences have always been clear, the contrast between his electronic and more recently alt-rock sound, combined with his often laid-back, spoken-word delivery, is something that is distinctly memorable and that has always been his strongest asset. However now on his fourth album, that is no longer enough as he now has to stand out amongst his own back catalogue and continue to progress musically – whilst making some strides in doing this, ultimately that is where this album slightly falls short of living up to his past work.

On 2015’s Shedding Skin, Ghostpoet transitioned almost completely away from his signature electronic sound to a more instrumentally based sound in a risk that paid off, giving that album a sense of urgency and impact that complemented his lyrics and vocal delivery. On his follow-up, here he is still sticking mostly to that sound with a few detours into earlier territory which ultimately gives the impression he was unsure himself where he wanted to go with this album. Of course since his sound has served him so well in the past, this album is by no means a misfire, it just seems out of character for Ghostpoet to not have a clear musical direction.

Thematically, this album is very bleak, with the main focus being on modern life however most of the political takes are more personal than a statement on world affairs, such as how these things affect his outlook on life more than what these events mean for the actual world itself. This is an interesting way to write about politics and the world around us without ending up having an album just like any other released at the time and this was a good move from Ghostpoet. Despite this it does at times feel as he doesn’t have that much to say this time around, with his lyrics being derivative at times such as his references to tinder “so I swiped left and figured out” that just feel a bit forced. It’s when his lyrics focus more on the feeling of hopelessness in this era that the tracks hit harder. He demonstrates this on tracks such as Immigrant Boogie and Trouble + Me and these tracks are some of the strongest.

Overall there’s not much to hate on this album but there isn’t much to love either. Fans of Ghostpoet will find a lot of enjoyment within this album but it does little to progress himself musically or lyrically and finds him perhaps playing it a bit safe. However his previous material has been so strong the elements of that still present make this album an enjoyable listen, even if it’s a predictable one.

6/10

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Album Review: Tyler The Creator – Flower Boy

By Ryan Martin (@RyanMartin182)

For Tyler, The CreatorFlower Boy has been a long time coming. The former Odd Future leader’s discography is a rocky one if you’re not a part of his loyal fanbase. Tyler’s most recent albums bounce around without ever landing on a cohesive sound or theme, leaving them often sounding cluttered or unfinished.

While his first two albums displayed the angsty, hardcore and often violent side of Tyler that brought himself and Odd Future so much media attention in the turn of the decade, Wolf, released in 2013, began showing a side of Tyler unknown to the world previously. Tracks like Answer and Treehome95 sounded less bitter and miles sweeter, with themes of longing backed by jazzy production. Tyler dabbled with these sounds through his next effort, Cherry Bomb, but again fell short with cluttered directions and sounds, this time with a decrease in production and much less memorable hooks. 

Flower Boy has taken those ideas that he previously dabbled with and perfected that vision. The aggressiveness of Goblin and the brash production of Cherry Bomb has disappeared, as has the wall of angst that Tyler put up to protect his vulnerability. Flower Boy finds the influential artist revealing himself lyrically and production-wise at his very best.

The songs are more sticky, grand, lush, and gorgeous. Tracks like See You Again and Boredom demonstrate this perfectly. The hooks are incredibly catchy and backed by some of the best instrumentals Tyler has made in his discography. Lyrically, Tyler is confessional, as he spits impressive bars about his recent disinterest in his friends, his fears, his sexuality and paints a picture of who he truly is behind the brash personality the media has displayed him as for the past 7 years. The centerpiece of the album, Garden Shed shows some of Tyler’s most open lyrics he’s released thus far.

“Garden shed, garden shed, garden shed, garden shed / For the garden / That is where I was hidin’ / That is what love I was I in / Ain’t no reason to pretend”

Fans speculated Tyler used a Garden Shed as a representation of “coming out of the closet” and thus addressing his sexuality up front.

Image result for tyler the creator flower boy

Other tracks like 911 / Mr. Lonely expand on the idea of loneliness Tyler has explored in previous releases with an outstanding turnout. 911 begins the track as an infectious soul single with help from Frank Ocean. The beat is upbeat, infectious and fun with lyrics that focus on the dark realities of not having a companion and feeling alone. Towards the end of the track, the drums increase and Tyler speeds up his flow and drops an incredible verse sticking on the same theme of loneliness. It’s one of the most cohesive songs he has ever written.

Glitter is another infectious track and features the Ladera Heights rapper crooning through the hook and a Pharrell inspired synthesizer leading the main harmonies. With themes of Tyler’s sexuality intertwining throughout Flower BoyGlitter has a vibe that is directed more towards the open sexuality Tyler expresses.

While Flower Boy follows a direction more lush than aggressive, there are only a few handful of bangers on the album that are reminiscent of Tyler’s earlier work. Who Dat Boy, featuring A$AP Rocky is one of the best singles of the year and has a sticky hook and impressive verses from both leaders of Odd Future and A$AP Mob. Well worth the wait for those who have been waiting for more from the duo since their collabs on What The Fuck Right Now and Telephone Calls. Ain’t Got Time! is a braggadocios banger that has head-turning lyrics like “Next line will have ’em like ‘Woah’ / I’ve been kissing white boys since 2004” & “Four, five, six years ago sucked / Seven figure conversations with Converse finalized / ‘Cause Vans fucked up”.

It seems that Tyler’s previous work has had controversial lyrics with no deeper meaning other than to stir the pot and agitate the media. Flower Boy’s lyrics seem confessional and important, as Wolf Haley ditches shocking for something with a little more substance. Flower Boy is without a doubt the best album the Golf Wang designer has put out so far, with consistent lyrics, production, and themes throughout the 46-minute duration. The features are impressive and demonstrate Okonma’s ear for singers and production that would best suit them. 

Flower Boy doesn’t dive so deep from Tyler that it would turn off fans either. The album is so unapologetically him for those who have been following him since his breakout in 2010, just a side that hasn’t been so exposed until this point in time. If you were turned off by Tyler’s music from Goblin in 2011, Scum Fuck Flower Boy urges you to take another chance on one of the brightest and influential stars in hip-hop now.

8/10


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Album Review: Dizzee Rascal – Raskit

By Ethian Woodford (@human_dis4ster)

The career of Dizzee Rascal is a unique story. When he was just 19 he released Boy In Da Corner, which instantly became a classic, simultaneously putting grime on the map and solidifying himself as the most exciting talent working in music at the time. Boy In Da Corner was the perfect debut and, 14 years on, it still stands as the pinnacle of what grime can be.

It made Dizzee a star, earning him the Mercury Prize but as Dizzee‘s career progressed, grime as a genre failed to follow and by his fourth album he had adopted the company of heavyweights such as Calvin Harris and, in a way, it paid off, giving him four number one singles and further fame. Being as talented as he is, this stage in his career was actually better than most similar music at the time, but perhaps led him with little space to grow and this showed on his lacklustre fifth album, aptly titled The Fifth. Whilst Dizzee faded into irrelevancy, grime was making a huge comeback, presumably reminding him of what he is best at.

Regardless of his rollercoaster career, it has all led to Dizzee Rascal’s latest album Raskit. A return to grime was a risk he had to make but would either prove he is still the best grime has to offer or that the genre he had revitalised had outgrown him. Thankfully Raskit leans decisively towards the former outcome.

Not a Jessie J collaboration in sight, or any feature for that matter, Raskit showcases everything Dizzee Rascal needed to prove, both to his critics and to himself. Unlike on his debut, most of the beats are basic, allowing Dizzee‘s vocals and lyrics to stand out which would have left him vulnerable if he still wasn’t able to write witty, hard-hitting rhymes which some might have assumed given his time away from grime. However, if anything his lyrics in particular might have even improved from Boy In Da Corner. Whether he is rapping about his return to grime in Space or gunning for his rivals in The Other Side, Dizzee sounds fresh and hungry defending his name every way he can.

Sceptics may have thought Dizzee was only returning to grime because it has regained some momentum thanks to the likes of Skepta and Stormzy, and while that may be true to a certain extent, the point he makes repeatedly on this album is that he has the right simply because he is good enough, and it’s hard to argue. Where the argument falls down that he abandoned grime is that most of his contemporaries tried to replicate his success with a more mainstream sound but only Dizzee really succeeded. Dizzee Rascal has always been one step ahead until now and the one time he found himself behind everyone else, he has caught up by proving he can compete with grime’s biggest artists. Raskit has a few filler tracks but at 16 tracks, it manages to prove he has plenty to offer rather than a half arsed attempt at returning to grime that wouldn’t have been as convincing.

At its core, Raskit is essentially a statement that Dizzee Rascal can still create a competitive grime album and write clever lines, delivering them with conviction. Dizzee Rascal is versatile with fierce tracks such as Space to light and playful tracks such as She Knows What She Wants showing he has the talent that he had in 2003. Although a few tracks fade into the background and the production lacks some creativity compared to his debut, Dizzee Rascal did what he needed to do lyrically and firmly announces that he is still relevant.

7/10


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Ranked: Tupac’s Top 14 Songs

By Sanjeev Mann (@Ask_Sanjeevs )

Known to many as one of the best and most influential rappers of all time, the legendary Tupac Shakur supplied the world with hits year after year until his controversial death in 1996. The King of Rap has sold over 75 million records in his short career which spanned over 100 plus songs, and still remains one of the highest selling rappers of all time.

After the release of his biopic ‘All Eyez On Me’ last week, now is the ideal time to go through all of his tracks to find his 14 strongest songs and pick which one is not only the most important but the best.

  1. Smile
    Producer: Scarface, Mike Dean, Tone Capone
    Album: The Untouchable

The lead single for Scarface‘s fourth album Untouchable, Smile released 3 months after Tupac’s death. It was one of the last songs he recorded, and what a way to sign off. An introspective gem that let the world know more about the late legend, it was the perfect way to end the era of Pac and say goodbye to the world.

  1. Me Against The World

Producer: Soulshock & Karlin
Album: Me Against the World

This track shows the rappers true feeling after a tough life and bad experiences from court cases, shootings, and 18 months in prison while trying to pursue a career.  When all this happens to someone, it’s no surprise you’d get the feeling that the world is against you: it’s definitely a track that will resonate with many and act as a quintessential fight song.

 

  1. 2 Of Americaz Most Wanted

Producer: Daz Dillinger
Album: All Eyez On Me

One of Pac‘s riskiest songs was this collaboration with the one and only Snoop Dog, recorded while Snoop was facing a murder charge. It also showed the dominance of Death Row Records during the golden age of Hip Hop even at a time when the likes of Nas and the Notorious B.I.G. were on the scene. It was a collab for the ages from two of the genres biggest stars.

  1. They Don’t Give A Fuck About Us

Producer: Johnny “J”
Album: Better Dayz

Coming from arguably his most influential and cohesive album, Better Dayz, this defines how he and many others felt when it came to the treatment of black people by police at the time. It also was another jab from Tupac towards the countries elites. The title says it all, and these beliefs were echoed by Michael Jackson a few years prior in his song They Don’t Care About Us.

  1. How Do You Want it

Producer: Johnny “J”
Album: All Eyez On Me

Released in 1996 and featuring R&B duo K-C and JoJo, How Do You Want was a club banger, but with a message, including a dig at one of Gangsta Rap’s biggest critics, politician, and civil rights activist C. Delores Tucker. She, at the time, heavily criticised the genre and especially Pac for misogynistic and sexually explicit rap lyrics that degraded women but the case was dismissed. Tupac rapped; “C. Delores Tucker you’s a motherfucker / Instead of trying to help a nigga you destroy a brother” and this certainly sent the message.

  1. Only God Can Judge Me

Producer: Doug Rasheed and Harold Scrap Fretty
Album: All Eyez On Me

I couldn’t trust my own homies, just a bunch of dirty rats” sums it up. Pac couldn’t even trust his closest ‘homies’ at the time especially after the East/West rap divide. Tupac thought Biggie set him up to get shot when he was robbed in 1994, which in turn, began the warfare between the two coasts. Also this refers to Pac being judged his whole life. He also refers to being “trapped from birth” which is a common theme throughout his lyrics.

  1. Changes

Producer: 2Pac
Album: Greatest Hits

Easily one of his most recognisable songs and biggest posthumous releases, Changes made waves in commercial success, as well as socially. He talks about everyday struggle, and the reality of low income for many families in the US, especially the black community. He wanted to represent the poorer and less fortunate sections of society and he certainly did that with this hit. “Thing’s will never be the same” suggests that, even now, this change has been limited.

  1. Hail Mary

Producer: Hurt-M-Badd, Tommy Daugherty, Lance Pierre and Justin Isham
Album: The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory

Providing quote after quote of great lyricism, this track really hits home the rappers death. The track comes from his first posthumous album, and under a new stage name. Makaveli. Probably one of Pac’s most commercially successful singles, the song shows Makaveli leaving the violence behind him and praying to god with the introduction of Biblical messages, and references. “And God said he should send his one begotten son To lead the wild into the ways of the man“(a quote from John 3:1), ” Follow me! Eat my flesh, flesh of my flesh!” – get what I mean? It incredibly took only an hour to produce.

  1. Ambitionz Az A Ridah

Producer: Daz Dillinger
Album: All Eyez On Me

The first track on the legendary ‘All Eyez on Me’ album, ‘Ambitionz Az A Ridah’ was according to many the first song he recorded after his time in prison. It shows off some improved lyricism as well as a new record label. Pac had signed for the biggest hip hop label in the world, Suge Knight’s Death Row Records .”This life as a rap star is nothin’ without guard” shows the danger he faced even with women and money by his side, he was never safe. He also rhymes about his own problems such as suicidal thoughts but then talks about death to his enemies. The track also has references  to reincarnation, after making the move to Death Row, as well as leaving prison. He was a new man that had to get things off his chest.

  1. Me And My Girlfriend

Producer: Big D, Hurt-M-Bad, Makaveli
Album: The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory

This is when things get serious: it’s the top 5! Another track from his post prison album, ‘Me And My Girlfriend’ typified his change in style. From sending social messages, to now rapping about guns (yeah when he says girlfriend he’s talking about his gun). He had now fully embraced ‘gangsta rap’. It was a track with dark meanings of murder and shootings which shows the ‘reincarated’ Pac at Death Row. The metaphors are clever, including “Hands on the steering wheel, blush while she bail out bustin’” referring to Pac shooting out of the car window. Known for featuring one of his best hooks, the tracks chorus was used by various artists including Jay Z’s 2003 version ‘Bonnie and Clyde 03’.

  1. California Love

Producer: Dr. Dre
Album: All Eyez On Me

Arguably Pac’s biggest track, California Love defined the G-funk era. Dre was now the best producer around which made the collaboration between the two stars colossus and, from it, an anthem was born. But the relationship didn’t last long, when the pair fell out because Dre refused to testify at Snoop Dog’s murder trial.  It was released in 1995 as Tupac’s comeback single after prison, and is probably his most known and commercially successful single. The man himself said “I don’t want it to be about violence. I want it to be about money.” The song itself also pays homage to L.A. and especially black neighborhoods such as Watts and arguably the home of Hip Hop, Compton. “In the city, the city of Compton” mirror’s the status of Compton as one of founding homes of the genre. The beat from Dre was energetic, and Pac’s rhyming and rapping was on point. This really was an artist at their best.

 

  1. I Aint Mad At Cha

Producer: Daz Dillinger
Album: All Eyez On Me

This was Pac again showing his more peaceful and perhaps more ‘real’ self. It is an emotional track telling the story of a fragile and changing relationship (maybe an old friend of Pac) rather than your typical ‘gansta’ tune. It’s sensitivity marks comparison with the likes of ‘Brenda’s got a baby’ yet the opposite of the rebellious and outspoken Makaveli. He talks about how people always change, especially those spoken about in the song: “Change, shit, I guess change is good for any of us”. With the title of the song Pac announces he ‘aint mad’ at his friend for changing. Biggie Smalls also used this line as a diss on pack on ‘Long Kiss Goodnight’: “Slugs missed ya, I ain’t mad at cha”. All this is why Pac is often accused as playing ‘the good guy’ in an era of violence that he was undeniably a part of, but regardless, his gift of telling a meaningful story is  heartfelt.

  1. Hit Em Up

Producer: Johnny “J”
Album: B-Side

This was the moment it officially hit the fan between the east, and west coast. The war began with a bang and one of the biggest diss tracks of them all. Pac fired heavy shots and his ex-best friend, the one and only Notorious B.I.G.. The feud between the former ‘homies’ had begun. Pac was mad and felt betrayed by a friend. Most of you hip hop fans will know Pac accused him and Puffy (Puff daddy) of setting him up to be shot at a studio in 1994. It was started off with a royal “fuck yo’” to Biggie and all his family. He now felt he trusted a single person, not even his own crew the ‘Outlawz’. Tupac announced his allegiance to the West coast, and talks about death row killing the East’s most prominent label bad boy entertainment he rapped “West Side, Bad Boy killers“. He not only dissed Biggie, and Puff but his whole entourage too. This was the track that opened the gates to hundreds of disses between the two coasts and in turn created an ill-fated war that Hip Hop would never forget. It was most definitely a game changer.

  1. Dear Mama

Producer: Tony Pizarro
Album: Me Against the World

Here it is then, my no. 1 Tupac track is the incredible ‘Dear Mama’, a track that every single person on the planet can relate to through their admiration of their mother. This was all about his roots and exactly where he came from. Afeni Shakur was key to the Tupac we all knew and loved at the time, and he made sure that everyone knew about it. He was never one to be shy to rap about his own problems and frailties and this was a perfect example. When Tupac started out rapping, he lived a relatively stable lifestyle in comparison to many at the time, and he even got the chance to study at Baltimore school of Arts – on the other hand, his mother was struggling for work and was linked to the infamous black panther political party. Rapping “When I was young, me and my mama had beef Seventeen years old, kicked out on the streets” Pac was forced to move home to California, and this was when he began to live the street life. Regardless, the respect he held for his mother was huge. It was his “Mama” that kept him on the straight and narrow despite her various problems. This was owed to his mother, who was the only real inspiration he had in his life. “‘Cause through the drama I can always depend on my mama / And when it seems that I’m hopeless/ You say the words that can get me back in focus” “I gotta thank the Lord that you made me/ There are no words that can express how I feel/ You never kept a secret, always stayed real/ And I appreciate how you raised me.”


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Track Review: Tyler, The Creator – Who Dat Boy

By Ryan Martin (@RyanMartin182)

Wolf Haley has got the internet in flames with Who Dat Boy, the first track rumoured  to be off Tyler the Creator‘s next album, which is currently speculated as Scumfuck Flowerboy off of a leaked image. In the new visual paired with the track’s release, we see Tyler getting half of his face blown off, who then seeks A$AP Rocky’s help to sow on a pale red-headed man’s face in a face transplant. The visual ends with a different Tyler track that sounds similar to his past work like Find Your Wings and Treehome95

Who Dat Boy reflects some of Tyler’s latest sound that tracks like Fuck It and the Kanye West freestyle What The Fuck Right Now demonstrated. The pairing of the two tracks is hope that Tyler’s new album will have more cohesion than his last cluttered project, Cherry Bomb. While Cherry Bomb demonstrated the ideas Tyler is trying to produce better than any effort so far, most ideas fell flat. With the new visual and track, Tyler’s vision looks a little clearer and sounds a lot better too. There is more confidence in his sound, especially when backed by A$AP Rocky. An interesting moment to this roll-out was how Tyler put his new video on a separate YouTube channel from his original Odd Future one: possibly a move to distance himself further away from his past work with the group.

If we can be sure of anything so far, it’s that a new Tyler album is just around the corner (after all, a new track ft Frank Ocean has just leaked) while we are left to savour this disgusting new banger for the summer – finally, we know something.


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