Joe Budden: New Album, New look, New Sound

“Why time heals all wounds, even those of a struggling rap career”

During an interview late last fall, Budden again demonstrated his readiness to compromise false appearances in the name of keeping it 100.

“For me, it’s been a long, long journey. I’ve met a lot of people, some I’ve pissed off,” he explained. “I’ve been public about some things, I’ve been immature, I’ve been a dickhead, and some people have been those things to me. The title [of the album] just symbolizes being in a real state of happiness. I don’t have any malice toward anyone, no grudges, just being in a real pain-free type of state. I wouldn’t say free of pain, but a different type of pain. It’s like a new Joe Budden.”

For example, in one of his cuts, “My Time,” Joe candidly reflects on the peaks and valleys he’s traveled throughout his roller-coaster of a career. In fact, conceptually, each song on the album represents a different shade of Joe’s inner-spectrum:

Joe Cool
Slaugtherhouse’s chief ambassador switches gears on, “She don’t put it down like you” (track 3). Budden rarely, if ever, opts for the “grown and sexy” approach. But who says old dogs can’t learn new tricks? Over a chorus line that melts like butter, Joe gushes over the superior lovemaking ability of one specific girl in comparison to another. Fabolous provides additional insight, followed by Lil Wayne’s bizarrely crude interpretation of the subject—surprise! Tank—not the actual machine but the R&B singer—delivers the hook (and essentially saves the day). Despite underwhelming verses from all but Joe, the song, provided you listen to it with a partner in bed, has legitimate baby-making potential (as if the tile wasn’t enough of a clue). The remix aint’ half bad either (track17). It features Twista, so if nothing else, at least you’ll be occupied with trying to comprehend what he’s saying.

Broadway Joe
Budden gets lordly in his bombastic ode to sustained wealth, “NBA (Never Broke Again).” Despite predictable basketball references, lewd female objectification and shameless braggadocio (what else is new?), this song is without question a slam dunk (hey, when in Rome). To the tune of resounding bass and triumphant horns, Whiz Khalifa gets the ball rolling (no pun intended) by expounding on what he knows best—counting money and smoking inconceivably large quantities of California bud. Joe also chips in with several lines of uninhibited self-bravado. And not to be outdone, French Montana brings up the rear with a little boasting of his own. The hook pretty much sums up the rest (‘Bitch I’m ballin’, bitch I’m ballin’. Racked up no wallet. Keep a bad bitch on my team. I should join the league). Enough said.

Joe Street
In his 4th track ,“Last Day,” Joe takes your ears and drags them through the filth and grime of the streets in Jersey. His lyrical onslaught is punctuated by a collision of hammering drums, fluttering high-hat combinations and raging outbursts of whimsical, yet ominous measures of synth. Simply put, Joe rhymes angry—very angry. He, in fact, sounds as if hip-hop owes him an apology for being ignored all these years. Juicy J tries his hand at being gangster (to no avail). And Lloyd Banks emerges from obscurity to complete the trifecta.

“No love lost” is a good, hard listen. Enjoy.

Lollapalooza Daily preview Sunday

It is Sunday, August 5th. The last day is always bittersweet. You have officially survived two days of some of the most beautiful chaos that you will ever experience, but sadly this is the last day you will be able to rage out in Grant Park until another year approaches. Sure you are feeling tired, but you know that today is the day that you must release all of your energy to give a lasting impression.

This day there are plenty of acts to rage to that span plenty of genres, with the main focuses being on hip hop and EDM. For a taste of some infectious Moombahton, people should definitely check out Nadastrom’s 2:00 pm set over at Perry’s. In the hip hop realm, Roc Nation signee J. Cole will be hitting the Budlight stage at 4:15 pm to perform fan favorites and deliver some hard hitting lyricism that he is known for. Meanwhile Doctor P will be at Perry’s at 4:30 pm making the crowd rave their hearts out for his fat dubstep tunes.

Dubstep takes over with another set that you can’t miss with Canadian duo Zeds Dead, busting subwoofers with their signature gritty bass. You can expect to hear tunes from their freshly released The Living Dead EP, as well as the favorites that made them shoot to the top in the EDM world. As day turns to dusk and the sun goes down, highlighting Chicago’s amazing skyline, the headliners take the stage. This is where the biggest conflicts of the whole night come into play.

Kaskade, Justice, Childish Gambino, and Jack White are all scheduled to play at the same time. While rock listeners will most likely make their way to see Jack White, and hip hop fans go see Childish Gambino, EDM fans are going to have a hard time to decide which one to choose.

Currently on his highly anticipated Freaks of Nature tour, Kaskade is known to bring beautiful melodic house music sounds that are high in euphoria and big on unity. French electro legends Justice sends festival fans into frenzies and judging by their latest album Audio, Video, Disco their live set is going to be crazy. Whichever one you choose, I’m sure it will be the perfect way to end an amazing Chicago festival.

As people clear out of Grant Park, I’m sure the same thing will be on everyone’s minds: Is Lollapalooza 2013 here yet?

Lollapalooza Saturday Preview

Ah, the second day of Lollapalooza, Saturday August 4th. Your adrenaline is already running on high from the excitement of the first day, and now you are going to take on the epic crowds again. Temperatures will reach 95 on Saturday, so make sure that you have lots of water to keep hydrated.

After you make sure all of the necessities to enhance your experience at Lolla, it is time to focus on what is really important, the music! Some highlights to check out on Friday will be Chief Keef, who was added last minute a couple days before the festival. Hitting the Perry’s stage at 12:15 pm, it will be interesting to see what it is like when street rap hits the indie festival scene.

Another hip hop act to check out will definitely have to be the versatile sounds of hit maker B.O.B. Having rocked crowds at Lollapalooza 2010, it is obvious that he knows how to put on a great show. Check him out over at Perry’s stage at 4:30 pm.

Bass addicts will definitely need to head over to Perry’s for Skream and Benga’s face melting sets. Dropping their dirty UK grimy beats at 5:45 pm, your ears won’t know what hit them after this dynamic duo hits the decks. There might be some conflicts for those who want to see alternative R&B crooner The Weeknd belt out his mesmerizing tunes, his set begins at 6:00 pm, clashing with Skream & Benga’s and cutting it close to Calvin Harris’ set.

Alas, things can be worked out, because those who miss the Weeknd can still get a taste of some seriously amazing R&B with Frank Ocean’s headlining set at 8:45 pm on the Google Play stage, although Santigold’s mind bending set is also one that one would not want to miss over at Perry’s, starting at 8:45 pm also. Whatever choice you make, just make sure to enjoy every second of all the beautiful music!

Lollapalooza daily preview Friday

People from all over will be putting on some comfy sneakers, stocking up on neon and headbands, and making sure they are nice and hydrated for a chaotic three days of music and camaraderie that is the Lollapalooza Music Festival in Chicago, Illinois. With a star studded lineup that includes some of the biggest live acts in the industry, it is no wonder that this festival sold out in record time.

With Grant Park filling up with enthusiastic music fans, there will be some hard decisions that some people will have to make, due to some scheduling conflicts. However, there a few must-see acts that will be spreading their music to the massive pulsating crowds during those wonderful three days.

Kicking off Friday, August 3, the festival begins with some high octane performances that are sure to send crowds into a music induced frenzy. The weather calls for some scattered thunderstorms, so be sure to pack umbrellas and ponchos, or wear some clothes that you aren’t attached to and make mud angels, like the previous year. Don’t let the rain bring you down, it actually makes the festival even more magical, as everyone dances under the rain.

Friday is definitely is a big one for EDM fans with heavy hitters Madeon and Porter Robinson coming on before UK duo Nero hit the decks for one of their stellar sets that they are known for. The highlight of the day will be South African zef rappers, Die Antwoord. You can catch Ninja and Yolandi spitting their NSFW rhymes on the Playstation stage at 5:00 PM.

The show will close out with probably the most talked about performance of the festival, which would be Black Sabbath’s only performance in North America. Regardless, those who want to see one of the most exciting electronic sets in the entire scene should check out the dubstep messiah himself, Bassnectar. His explosive bass mixed with his high energy sets brings crowds together as one for his headlining 8:46 pm set.

Nicolas Jaar Essential Mix on BBC Radio 1

22 year old Brown student Nicolas Jaar has graced the musical world with a magnificent two hour mix. For those that missed it Friday night, stream here it for free (courtesy of BBC Radio 1). Among the artists seamlessly mixed into Jaar’s self-termed “bluewave” are Jay-Z, Marvin Gaye, Aphex Twin, Charles Mingus, The Field, Beyoncé, and Ricardo Villalobos. In true post-internet fashion, Jaar favors a diverse palette that includes minimalist-house, poetry, classical piano and strings, and jazz. The hybrid is both modern and impressionistic.

The vibe flows from sticky smooth beats to avant-garde sound play. Chainsaws and white noise carve out spacious atmospheres, low distorted voices add gravity. Sometimes the mix morphs into solemn storytelling or infectious pop or honeyed female vocals. Even though it’s such a mosaic, Jaar stitches it together with hisses and clicks: sounds of malfunctioning technology. From the washes of wind-chimes to the bold declaration “There is no god”, BBC Radio 1 aired one hell of a show Friday night.

Nicolas Jaar recently performed at MoMA PS1, produced one of the best albums of 2011, Space Is Only Noise, and has his own record label, Clown and Sunset. Oh, and he hasn’t even graduated from Brown yet.

Travis Barker – A New Dawn

Travis Barker has single handedly made himself relevant in the hip hop scene by making music with some of the biggest names in hip hop. From Lil Wayne to Techn9ne he has worked aside some of most talented and brightest stars and is coming off of the flame that is Give The Drummer Some. Completely produced by himself besides one track — “If You Want To” (Pharrel)– Travis Barker is solidifying a name for himself in the hip hop community.

A lot of casual fans in the hip hop scene may have never heard of Travis Barker — the drummer for Blink 182, Transplants and Box Car Racer to name a few — yet he has been working it since around two thousand and five. He has been cranking out high end remixes such as the latest “H.A.M.” remix that has blogs buzzing and is simply pure crack (the opera sample is ill). It may seem a stretch given the pop punk roots of one “TRVS BRKR” but in a short time he has amassed a very impressive hip hop resume and is currently one of the most sought out producers in the game; dude is hot right now.

After Blink and Transplants broke up about six years ago a time existed when Mr. Barker really had nothing going and was looking to just keep creating music as well as some sort of revenue. He got into more hip hop and drum and bass and had been hanging out with the late great DJ AM (rest in peace). Eventually he ended up producing “Late Night Creeping” — a track for one half of UGK’s Bun B on Trill — after Transplant was scheduled to do something on it but had broken up. After that he just never looked back and kept putting out fire and stacking tracks witch lead to the formulation of his solo offering the CD Give The Drummer Some.

His style is rather unique and all inclusive as no type of music is safe — he melds pop, synth, rap and rock with a splash of drum and bass when he creates. Genres are blurred when you hear songs like “On My Own” featuring Corey Taylor from Slipknot and “Cool Head” featuring Kid Cudi. It really is a breath of fresh air and it would seem the whole thing was a chance to begin with so he is not afraid to keep going that route i.e. keep taking chances. While it surprises no one that some people are going to be a tap skeptical of some of the music when you hear the serious 808’s that he has constructed you have to give props.

Blink 182 is superstar status in all fairness and has sold millions of records. It is really a testament to Mr. Barker and his artistic talents that he even feels a need to venture into other genres. He could just sit back and collect royalty checks but prefers to make hi end art. With a fresh outlook on the genre and, considering all the hollers of the stagnation in hip hop, you can then put two and two together and realize why he is so sought after. It is a copy cat league, sure, but for now I can not think of anyone who is making beats like him.

Currently on tour with Lil Wayne selling out venues all over and gearing up for another Blink 182 release, Mr. Barker is as relevant as ever and as any. With beats that knock you would have to be devoid of musical sense to deny the talent of the CEO of Famous Stars And Straps. If you do not like him I would wager a claim that your favorite artist does and like it or not he is here to stay.

CBC’s Hip Hop Summit Concert Review – March 29, 2011

The Canadian music industry is an odd duck. It has a lot of benefits that our neighbours to the south could only dream of, but, it also comes with some unfortunate pitfalls. In my last post, hip-hop producer Fresh Kils put it perfectly:

“The joke about Canadian musicians is that no one gives a shit about them until they export themselves somewhere else.”

While that may not necessarily be an industry issue, it’s certainly not one being helped by the Junos. With exception to Meagan Smith (New Artist of the Year), all of this year’s broadcast awards were given to internationally recognized and popular artists. And that’s not to say that the Arcade Fire or Neil Young weren’t deserving, but what about Said The Whale or Matthew Good (winners of New Group Of The Year and Rock Album of the Year respectively). Why wasn’t Canada’s national upcoming talent showcased where people are more likely to see it?

And if that’s the case for your average pop or rock artist in Canada, its twice as bad for hip hop. Even with a big celebrity like Drake hosting the Junos, the Rap Recording of the Year award was non-broadcast.

That’s why when I had the chance to go to the CBC Hip Hop Summit concert in Toronto, I was ecstatic. On the bill was enough Canadian hip-hop legends and up-comers to make anyone turn their head. Maestro Fresh Wes, Kardinall Offishall, K-os, Saukrates and Shad were just a few of the crowd that graced the stage.

The whole thing kicked off with Classified and “Oh Canada” from his 2009 album Self-Explanatory. With everyone standing to attention and bobbing their head patriotically, he moved onto his duet with Maestro Fresh Wes on the (fitting) “Hard To Be (Hip Hop)“.

Michie Mee took the stage soon after and brought a few more people to the floor with her old school/ reggae style, complete with a dance breakdown. As someone who had never heard that much of her stuff, she made a big impression on me. She had a great sound and definitely knew how to work a stage.

Kardinall Offishall was next and he went the extra mile to get everyone to their feet. Surrounding himself in the crowd and getting us to chant the chorus with him, Kardinall belted out his ode to Toronto aptly titled “The Anthem“. Cadence Weapon threw the audience for a bit of a loop with his unique style (including screaming into a FX heavy microphone) but, with the help of Shad, showed that he’s just as capable to pull out the big hits with “Baby (I’m Yours)“.

Other notable moments included Skratch Bastid with a DJ set and a breakdance circle, K’naan stopping by to perform “Take A Minute“, and the Dream Warriors belting out the eclectic “My Definition“.

As great as everyone had been, the last 20 minutes was definitely when show came to it’s full potential, including Shad and K-os joining the Maestro onstage for “Let Your Backbone Slide“. Not one to disappoint, the original Can-con hip-hop icon was dressed in full suit and cummerbund as he tore through the ’89 classic.

The big number done, all of the night’s artists came back out for a freestyle session that was more fun than anything. Even Buck 65, who had been hosting the night and strictly stayed off the mic, was coaxed into the circle.

Then, as Kardinall dropped what was supposed to be the final rap of the night, the DJ played back the hook from the Rascalz hit “Northern Touch“.

I can honestly say that of all the shows I’ve been to, I’ve never seen anything like it. Led by former Rascalz member, Red1, and backed by track contributors Kardinall and Choclair, the stage came alive. The MCs were shoulder to shoulder rapping right in our faces as the dedicated crowd hit them with every word. It was a surreal moment that I think will be remembered for a long time to come.

And we need moments like that to sell Canadian artists to Canada again. While the concert had an excellent calibre and energy in the artists, it seemed as if the crowd that night was a little hesitant. At moments, I even felt that some of the greatest hip-hop artists in this country were struggling with their own home crowd.

So do yourself and this country a favour; support Canadian hip-hop and make people care. We’ve got to appreciate what we’ve got here at home.

———————-

If you’re dying to get you’re fix of hip-hop and you live in the Toronto area there’s an event running all day today at the CBC building with performances, break-dancing and, at 6pm EST, the concert being broadcast. If you’re not so lucky stay tuned to CBC Radio 2 who will be broadcasting the whole event over the airwaves also starting at 7pm ET.

Mickey Avalon Interview

All or ‘nada, Through hell and hot ‘wata, Gotta do what I ‘gotta. Finding a Mickey in the Av, This is Mickey Avalon. by Avery Fane

Straight out of the Hustler hall of fame, Mickey Avalon, the man with the golden smile and the platinum frown took a few minutes to talk about life as it is, and how he leads lambs to water.

If you weren’t paying attention, Mickey’s self titled album dropped in 2006, doing extremely well with the help of his amazing street cred in LA, and his work with the Dyslexic Speedreaders; it’s no surprise that despite mentally deficient management complications, Mickey Avalon is still selling out gigs across the USA, Canada, and the entire world.

Giving new light to dropping names, famous for bringing catchy rhymes, beats born of brilliance, and some real art on the mic repping SoCal the way it deserves, Avalon appeals to different crowds for different reasons. To simplify: I’ll quote him in saying “I guess people show up, and most of the people show up to have a good time”. No doubt that’s how it goes down on the Mickey Avalon train. Well, everyone’s having fun except the guys in the front row, watching Mickey make out with their women. He writes songs about that, so everyone should have known what’s coming. There’s a lot of hype, and a fair amount of drama attributed to Mickey Avalon, the character, but let’s take a look at Mickey, the man.

Does Mickey really “smoke dust and fuck trannies”? Well, no one’s calling him out on his stories, and that said, there was a time he did. “Hustling’s part of the game,” right? The thing people might not get about Mickey, is that all that stuff he raps about was one stage of life, and that the hustle for Mickey is the music game now. Avalon’s at a stage in life where he’s now doing what he wants, and there’s almost an irony in the fact that the character of Mickey Avalon that made him what he is, is exactly what got him out of the darker patches of his life that he raps about. He’s gotta do what he ‘gotta. That included a remix dedication to Nate Dogg, how very pro.

There’s a lot more professionalism and determination than people that are out of the know might give props to Mickey for, but Mickey’s a performance artist, and he brings the performance.

Mickey’s a modern day folk singer, and rap is the music of the people, and how he tells his tale to relate to them. Considering the first album wasn’t written with much thought of tearing it up on stage, the fact that it’s taken him around the world, we can only look forward to “Stroke Me,” his second album that’s been on hold for as long as anyone can remember.

So, what happened with Dre? I’ll settle that one on Mickey’s behalf. The ex management told Dre that Mickey wasn’t interested in remixing “My Dick”. That’s not to say it’s a dead issue, but that’s what went down.

And what of the Dyslexic Speedreaders? All the hype and media paparazzi drama aside, it seems like they’re resting in peace for now. Dirt & André are still friends, and likewise Mickey isn’t holding too many grudges. But no one said it’s “cool” now, and amidst murky waters there’s no sign of the fog clearing. Though with everyone’s careers doing extremely well, there’s no doubt that at least their personas will cross paths again.

The newer tracks have gotten mixed reactions lately. “Too poppy” and “selling out” are a few of the ignorant nothings they’ve been called. According to Mickey, there’s a reason they’re being released to the public for free and for fun, and that’s because they probably won’t make the final cut of the album, but they’re music, they’re Mickey, and they’re in high demand.

To support Mickey’s point, the newer ‘poppy’ tracks were pretty much left out of his set at the packed Fortune Sound Club venue in Vancouver (which sold out almost a month before the show). Well known Speedreader sidekick DJ-Mackey was on the decks with Mickey as he artfully mixed up his very well known album of hits with an array of new beats that ranged from rumored, hinted, to completely unknown. Avalon had the entire venue moving from start to finish, which is just how he delivers, just listen to his words on “Dick like Jesus” about busting a nut.

Dr. Dre – State Of The Union

Dr Dre has come a long way in life. From the mean streets of Compton to what many would still argue is his current position, affixed atop the rap game. He has evolved as an artist since forming Ruthless Records with Ice Cube back in ’86 and come a long way yet, with the upcoming release of his new album Detox, The Doc once again has the streets engulfed with flame. With his album around the corner some have wondered if his work is worth the wait. Will The Doctor “save the West”? More important still, is Dr. Dre still relevant, and how will his new album effect his legacy?

A lot of people believe in quantity over quality. If you subscribe to that you are not going to be a fan of Dr Dre’s method of putting work out. Maybe one album every decade is not enough for you, emphatically so even. Why though does The Doc have such a stringent once in a blue moon policy? One of the positives of putting out a album every ten years is it disallows artists to succumb to the Lil Wayne effect — see law of diminishing returns. Of course he is worth the wait; ninety percent of the work the man has done has been excellent.

As the the king of G-funk, The Doctor has been said to be the leader of the supposedly downtrodden West  — some have gone as far as saying the release of Detox will be the West’s saving grace, putting it back at the forefront of the rap world. The man is a legend who put Compton on the map.  He has worked with countless icons and put his stamp on rap as much as any of them. Respected in every circle of music, when Detox comes out it is going to be excellent by all estimations and is going to go plaque. How one could think he owes the West anything is beyond comprehension, he is synonymous with the left coast.

How can one say Dre has not been relevant even with out actual albums — look at his presence on recent heavy weight albums like 50’s Before I Self Destruct and Eminem’s Recovery. Asking where he has been is more akin to asking where have you been? Only a handful of artists have stayed as relevant as Dre over his platinum plaque studded career. The fact that “Kush” has done so well does not serve as any kind of surprise for anyone because Dre always puts quality tunes out and people like good music. He himself may not drop albums every other day like Lil B Da Base God but he does stay relevant by dropping timely material that even if found in a time capsule a thousand years from now will still be considered ill.

Should he have just stopped at The Chronic? Some think that Dre has nothing left in the tank and he is not his former self. He is not putting out enough content, he is not relevant, and he has let the West down… Oh ye of little faith! He is one of the few commercially viable artists out there that still delivers a quality product. The man is a meticulous perfectionist and that is why it takes him years to drop albums. He has an ear for beats and an eye for talent. Snoop, Em, and 50 all owe a great deal to the man for his work post The Chronic . Dre is tried and true and should continue to make music for as long as he sees fit.

The Doc does not ease everyone’s pain but that is a feat none can conquer. He still has what it takes to rock the charts and put out good to great work pending on your musical tastes. He is cemented in the game as one of the figures on the Mount Rushmore of rap. The man is still relevant even without dropping a ton of content and his music is always worth the wait. Even if his latest project is a tad underwhelming it shall only be likened to a aged Jordan with the 45 on. It is not going to tarnish any legacy and he will go down as one of the greatest contributors to the craft that the game has ever or will ever witness.

Onsmash in some deep trouble – Onsmash website seized and now down or hacked?

Onsmash in some deep trouble – Onsmash website seized and now down or hacked?

We link to a hell of a lot of videos from OnSmash, they were one of the urban music industry’s leading video hosts with exclusives daily. But have they come under fire by a larger source? This is definitely concerning as the site only served to promote music, not to bootleg or infringe upon copyright.

At this point we’ve heard nothing explaining whether this “seizure” is real or not, but needless to say, our OnSmash hosted video content is for the time being on hold and not being served – obviously if we’re embedding their material and it’s no longer there, we can no longer supply it either.