Ice Cube - I Rep That West


Yeah, that's pretty solid.

Freddie Gibbs - The Ghetto


Dude can spit.

Joell Ortiz f. Joe Budden - Move On


I had lunch with Robert Popper and Peter Serafinowicz the other day. Turns out both of them are big hip-hop fans, and we started talking about what we've been listening to lately. I had to admit that mostly lately I've been listening to Scarface's "The Fix" over and over. And also: Joell Ortiz. At first I was ambivalent about Ortiz, but the more time I spend with his music, the more I like it. Great verse on this track, which is a bit old, I know.

Jay Smooth & Maura Johnston on Nicki Minaj


A nice Morning Edition piece from our pal Jay Smooth and Maura Johnston on the rapper Nicki Minaj. The frame is exactly what one would expect ("a female rapper in sexist hip-hop?!"), but Jay and Johnston are both too smart to fall into cliche. Just as I was thinking, "I wish they would mention that she can spit," Jay said "she can spit."

The comments may be the best part. Specifically the guy who basically admits he was only familiar with Minaj because of a picture in his computer's "beautiful women folder." And then he says "we all know what that's for (can I say that?)". YES. You can say that, and you are the greatest NPR commenter ever. I mean, I love Bahamadia as much as the next guy, but her two albums came out what? Ten years ago? And I get it: Jean Grae is also a woman and she's not famous and hip-hop vs. rap and SNNNOOOOOOOOOOOZE.

Seriously: some sharp stuff from Jay Smooth and Maura Johnston.

Janelle Monae f. Big Boi - Tightrope


This is EPIC.

Janelle Monae's EP was solid, but it didn't have anything on it that I liked as much as Letting Go, which was on the Purple Ribbon All-Stars compilation. This song, though, is fantastic. And the video is amazing, too.

Joell Ortiz - Project Boy


Now that's rapping. DJ Premier on the beat.

Royce 5'9" on Flow v. Subject Matter


Above: Royce the five nine talks about "flow" vs. "subject matter" in the craft of emceeing. He thinks flow is more important, and I'm inclined to agree.

Flow is the part of hip-hop that I find the most non-fans don't get. They can tell you why the positive message of a Jurassic 5 song is great ("it's like poetry!"), but they don't understand this core principle of emceeing.

Flow is all the parts of what a rapper does that aren't the content of the lyrics. It is the style, the aesthetic experience. It's why I think Missy Elliott (whose lyrics generally amount to: "I'm having fun! You should too!") is every bit as great an emcee as the much denser, more "contentful" Talib Kweli. The former is a part of the music, sometimes following, sometimes soloing. The latter often seems like he's having a fight with tbe song.

I think that it goes back to the idea that hip-hop is poetry set to music. It isn't. It's music made with words. A rapper doesn't use (much) melody, but that doesn't make him a poet any more than it makes him a novelist or a writer of technical manuals. At the core of hip-hop is the aesthetics of the rapper's voice. Lyrical content counts, too, but not as much as style, tone, timbre, rhythm. The rapper is making music every bit as much as the producer who made the beat is - his instrument is his voice.

Big Boi f. Too Short & George Clinton - For Your Sorrows


Fo Yo Sorrows VIDEO Big Boi Ft. Too Short and George Clinton from SNORT THIS TV on Vimeo.

Big Boi can still spit for serious. Hopefully this means that Sir Lucious Left Foot joint is coming soon.

Why are 75% of our youth reading magazines? / 'Cause they used to fantasy / and it's what they use to dream / call it fiction addiction / 'cause the truth's a heavy thing

Blu - Amnesia

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Past TSOYA guest Blu with an excellent new track. I am told the footage comes from Ascenseur pour l'echafaud (Elevator to the Gallows), a film by Louis Malle.

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