U-God – The Keynote Speaker album review

So much of the beauty of the Wu Tang Clan is in the versatility of the unit. 9 members (and countless affiliates) offer 9 fresh perspectives at any given time, and the 36 chambers contain deep, labyrinthic sonic experiences. From GZA’s scientific lyrical forensics, to Raekwon’s vivid, sinister cocaina narratives to the flavorful lyricist lounge musings of Tical, there is something for everyone, and the most popular members all have a distinct role.

When it comes to U-God though, there’s never seemed to be the resonant energy or eager expectation to enter the world of Golden Arms. His classic, legacy setting verse on “Da Mystery of Chessboxin” gives off vibes near the GZA, Masta Killa, Killah Priest circle of the clan. His memorable verse on “Cherchez La Ghost” was perhaps the complete opposite. Is it to his credit that he’s able to morph from philosophical to rambunctious as the needs of his fellow clansmen arise, or is it the exact reason he wasn’t able to forge his own niche? Could it be both? Whatever the case, U-God’s “Keynote speaker” attempts to reverse the course of perhaps the most wayward catalog in the Wu canon.

From the outset, the most apparent observation can be made sonically. Wu solos tend to bear hallmarks of the classic group albums beatwise, but because U-God was attempting to stand on his own perhaps, the production here is lacking. If they had to compare, this would be an album full of cutting room floor Wu Tang Forever records. The bland samples, and poorly mixed, mechanical drums create an unappealing canvas that any artist would have to work hard to overcome. Does he?

U-God has always been a strong technical MC, but again, his trademark seems to be a lack of a trademark. He’s all over the place on this album.

In a time where Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Killah Priest and Prodigy, among other 90s stalwarts are still thriving by updating their classic sound for new ears, U-God still hasn’t seemed to find his. Worse yet for him, it’s not until he raises the W that this album delivers. “Heads Up” with GZA and “Mt. Everest” with Inspectah Deck and (Elzhi) are two of the strongest tracks of the album, and the introspective chest thumping “Heavyweight” is powerful, where Golden Arms recalls his ascent “from the strip to a righteous dude”, which no doubt was a byproduct of the Wu’s heavy 5 percenter core.

Beyond those few and far between moments is a project characterized by outright bad hooks and technically precise yet dull lyricism with typical veteran posturing. When U-God says “picture me following them, I don’t follow a trend” on “Days of Glory”, the stubbornness apparent throughout is finally acknowledged. It’s all well and good when an artist doesn’t chase trends, they just have to realize what they offer should be able to stand on it’s own merits. This project can not. If he’s the Keynote speaker his speech left much to be desired.

U-God - The Keynote Speaker album review

Rock Steady Crew 32nd Anniversary, July 22-26 Free Concert With Biz Markie, Grand Puba, Roxanne Shante, Cormega, U-God, Sean Price, DJ Premier, Bishop Lamont, Masta Ace & Edo. G, Dujeous, Tanya Morgan and More!

Rock Steady Crew 32nd Anniversary, July 22-26 Free Concert With Biz Markie, Grand Puba, Roxanne Shante, Cormega, U-God, Sean Price, DJ Premier, Bishop Lamont, Masta Ace & Edo. G, Dujeous, Tanya Morgan and More!

New York, NY — The Rock Steady Crew is ready to embark upon the 32nd Anniversary celebration, which will take place at various venues throughout New York and New Jersey on July 22 through 26.

The ceremonies kick off on Wednesday July 22 and 23 with some dance workshops with legendary choreographers including Rock Steady President Crazy Legs, Mr. Wiggles, Cricket, Snapshot, WandeePOP and Steve Seda. At 10:00pm on Thursday July 23, Mr. Wiggles will host the For The Funk of It Funk Styles Party at 320 Studios in NYC (320 W 37th St).

On Friday, July 24, witness some intense action with the “Frienemies” battle at 101 River View’s Grand Hall (101 Sixth Ave), as dozens of the best Bboys and Bgirls in the world enter the cipher to claim their respect and an all-expense paid trip to represent the U.S. in the UK Bboy Champtionships.

On Saturday, July 25, everyone returns to 101 River View for the popular crew battle competition. Groups of 5-8 world-class dancers go head-to-head to win $2,000 in cash and prizes.

Rock Steady Crew will round out the weekend in a big way at Newark, New Jersey’s Lincoln Park with the “Rock Steady For Life” Free Outdoor Concert and Food Drive. All attendees are encouraged to donate canned food as they enter the park to help local families in need. An all-star DJ line-up will play between sets all day, with DJ Eclipse, DJ Scratch, DJ Swan, DJ Evil Dee and Q-Tip in rotation.

The End of the Weak crew will begin hosting the show at noon, and performers throughout the day include Biz Markie, Grand Puba of Brand Nubian, U-God of Wu-Tang, Roxanne Shante, Cormega, Sean Price, Bishop Lamont, DJ JS-1 with special guests, Dujeous, Masta Ace & Edo. G (A&E), Tanya Morgan, DJ Premier, Blaq Poet, Kaze, Tiye Phoenix and surprise guest performances!

For more information on the Rock Steady Crew Anniversary and to see schedule updates, go to www.CrazyLegsWorkshop.com and www.rocksteadycrew.com

SCHEDULE
Rock Steady Crew 32nd Anniversary, July 22 – July 26

Wednesday, July 22
Workshops – All Styles Day
Time: 12:45PM – 7:30PM
Location: 320 Studios – 320 West 37th Street, 14th Floor (btwn 8th & 9th Ave.) – 1, 2, 3, A, C, E, N, R & Q train to 34th St.

*12:45 – 2:15pm Free Youth 9 – 13yrs. old Bboy /Bgirl Foundation Workshop: Crazy Legs
* 2:30 – 4:00pm House Workshop: James “Cricket” Colter
* 4:15 – 5:45pm Classic Party Dance Styles Workshop: Deena ‘Snapshot’ Clemente & Wanda ‘WandeePOP’ Candelario
* 6:00 – 7:30pm Salsa Workshop: Steve Seda

Admission: $20.00 per class (REGISTER ONLINE NOW)
You want to know how it’s done? These speakers are the best at what they do and share insight on how they make their magic happen.

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Thursday, July 23
Workshops
Time: 12:00PM – 8:00PM
Location: 320 Studios – 320 West 37th Street, 14th Floor (btwn 8th & 9th Ave) NYC – 1, 2, 3, A, C, E, N, R & Q train to 34th St.

*2:00 – 3:30pm B-boy / B-girl Foundation Workshop: Crazy Legs
*3:45 – 5:15pm Funk Styles Workshop: Mr. Wiggles
*5:30 – 7:00pm B-boy / B-girl Master Class Workshop: Crazy Legs
*7:15 – 8:45pm Funk Styles Workshop: Mr. Wiggles

Admission: $40.00 per class (REGISTER ONLINE NOW)
You want to know how it’s done? These speakers are the best at what they do and share insight on how they make their magic happen.

“For The Funk Of It” Funk Styles Party
Time: 10:00 PM – 3:00AM
Location: 320 Studios – 320 West 37th Street, 14th Floor (btwn 8th & 9th Ave) NYC – 1, 2, 3, A, C, E, N, R & Q train to 34th St.
Hosted By: Mr. Wiggles
DJ: Doc
Admission: $15.00 ( GET ADMISSION NOW )
Must be 21 & Over
Self explanatory. Come get loose and show us what you got.

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Friday, July 24
Frienemies
Time: 3:00PM – 9:00PM
Location: 101 River View, Grand Hall – 101 Sixth Ave. (btwn Grand & Watt) – 1, 2, A, C & E train to Canal St.
Hosted By: Rock Steady Crew
DJ’s: Crazy Legs, Skeme Richards, Charlie Rock and Jazzy Jay
Admission, : $20.00 ( GET ADMISSION NOW )

Frienemies is about representing in the ciphers. Every B-boy and B-girl is on their own! No preset battles. In the early to mid 80’s, breaking was at an all time high throughout the world. Crews were rolling thick and a lot of them were at peace. The only time they didn’t get along was when it was time to battle in the club. Rock Steady Crew and New York City Breakers were going to places like Negril, The Roxy, Kennedy High School and other places where jams were going down. No one was worried about hurting someone’s feelings or concerned with battling their own friends, but rather battled with a fierce will to win. We were all “FRIENEMIES”. ‘Frienemies” is the place to battle that person that you chill with on a regular basis and show him/her that they’re not as good as they brag about all the time.
The Winner receives an all expense paid ticket to the United Kingdom and will represent the U.S. at the UK B-Boy Championships. The winner must be a US Citizen. Proper ID is required.

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Saturday, July 25
5 – 8 Crew Battle / Spy Awards
Spy Awards : The Spy Award is being presented to El Nino & Bboy Crumbs
Time: 3:00PM – 9:00PM
Location: 101 River View, Grand Hall – 101 Sixth Ave. (btwn Grand & Watt) – 1, 2, A, C & E train to Canal St.
Hosted By: Crazy Legs
DJ’s: Skeme Richards & DV One
Admission: $25.00 ( GET ADMISSION NOW )
The Winner receives a $2,000.00 cash & prizes.

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Sunday, July 26
“Rock Steady For Life” Free Outdoor Concert & Food Drive

PLEASE BRING CANNED GOODS TO HELP LOCAL FAMILIES

Time: 12:00PM – 8:00PM
Location: Lincoln Park – 1 Lincoln, Newark, NJ (Broad St & Clinton Ave)

Hosted by: End Of The Weak
DJ’s: Eclipse, Scratch, Swan, Evil Dee & Q-Tip
Performing Artists: Biz Markie, Grand Puba (Brand Nubian), UGod (Wu-Tang), Roxanne Shante, Cormega, Sean Price, Bishop Lamont, DJ JS-1 (w/Special Guests), Dujeous, Masta Ace & Edo. G (A&E), Tanya Morgan, DJ Premier & Blaq Poet, Kaze, Tiye Phoenix and special surprise guests!

Take PATH, Amtrak, or NJ Transit trains to Newark Penn Station. Buses: #70, #62 and #39 will bring you from Newark Penn Station to the corner of Broad and Lincoln Park. Cab fare to Lincoln Park from Penn Station is approximately $4.00. Log on to www.njtransit.com or call NJ Transit for up to date (800) 722-2222 bus and train schedules and travel information.

“Rock Steady For Life” Official After Party
Time: 10:00PM – 3:00AM
Location: 320 Studios
DJ’s: Awesome Two
Admission: FREE
Must be 21 & Over – INVITE ONLY