Thursday, July 31, 2008

Verbal Kent: Fist Shaking (Review)

Rap is done best when an emcee is unbridled with his or her emotions. In a musical genre that is so strongly founded on lyrics, it is crucial for rappers to display some passion in their content and delivery. This passion is precisely what Verbal Kent's third solo release, entitled Fist Shaking, is rooted in. The album features a steady delivery of aggressive and angst-ridden, yet intricate and thematic verses, making for a very impressive listen.

Upon first glance, one would probably assume Fist Shaking to focus on Verbal Kent airing his dirty laundry. With track names such as "Remain Psycho," "The Dagger," You Can't Rap," and "Tim Hardaway Hates You," this is an easy expectation to conjure. However, after giving the album a focused listen or two, it is undeniable that there is much more involved. Verbal Kent comes out firing on all cylinders on the album's opening track, "First 3." Displaying a brash confidence, he makes the bold claim, "This is the best verse you ever heard / The next verse will be the best verse you ever heard / Wait for the third." Though that might not be entirely true, it becomes clear quickly that Verbal Kent is not your typical, factory-processed emcee. He has the aforementioned flair for the braggadocio, but also possesses a knack for comical rhymes ("I'm busy gettin' Pounds and Euros / You busy eatin' pounds of gyros" on "Brand New Style"; and "I'm guaranteed to win, like a war versus Canada" on "The Dagger"), as well as the occasionally inappropriate ("You'll lose your job like Virginia Tech security guards," on "Get a Job 2"). He also has the all-important ability to tell thorough stories in his verses. The standout track on Fist Shaking is ""A Rapper Who Quit, Pt. 1," a well-narrated story about the trials and tribulations of a weathered rhymer trying to make it big in the rap game.

The album also succeeds with sublime production from an assortment of producers, notably Marco Polo, Oddisee, and Panik of the Molemen. Many tracks feature smooth work on the boards, heavy drums that back Verbal Kent's lyrics superbly, and some fast scratching on the hooks. But while the scratching is impressive, the only qualm to be raised is that it detracts from Verbal Kent's lyricism. It would have been pleasing to hear him more during the choruses.

The other misstep of the album is that it is, at times, too dark and complex for the average listener. This is not the CD to be played while you are relaxing outside on a sunny summer afternoon. Verbal Kent's lyrics often go over the heads of those listening, unless you are truly paying close attention: "I feel like a old man watching a child eat / 'Are you full? Why you wasting these perfectly good beets?'" But in the end, his detailed lyrics and sly double entendres will earn him the respect he deserves, at least from the hip-hop heads willing to pay the required attention.

Overall, Verbal Kent, boasting a unique, choppy flow, has some indisputable skills on the mic. Fist Shaking, with not a single track surpassing four minutes in length, is a rapid-fire barrage of heartfelt, fiery songs and deft, uncompromising lyricism. The Chicago emcee has paid his dues, and consequently earned his accolades.

Rating: 7/10

Bonus Cut: Verbal Kent performing "Brand New Style"

Friday, July 25, 2008

eLZhi - Live Footage

Here's some dandy footage of eLZhi performing a couple tracks (Motown 25 & That's That One). His album, The Preface, drops on Aug. 12, and should be fire. You know Black Milk will be producing a few tracks. Cop once released.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

J.Loonz: Summertime Fun (Part 3)

Here's my man J.Loonz spitting some written for you. Nerd-Hop is coming, people, whether you're ready or not. But seriously, can we get some production value Loon? You're not even changing clothes for these videos! Just playin.

As a bonus, we're got Loonz's personal explanation of what Nerd-Hop actually is. As stated on the Nerd-Hop site:
Whattup Interweb? You have reached the official NERD-HOP blog and homepage. My name is Jordan “J. LoOnZ” Looney aka The Dollar Scholar aka the St. Paulitician aka Mr. Coffee and I am one half of the PROJECT NERD-HOP. The other half is my friend and colleague Zachary Johnson aka Bootsrap Zack aka Zackarious aka DJ ZJ. At this point you may be thinking either one or both of two things; man these guys have too many nicknames and what the fuck is NERD-HOP? I can’t do shit about our plethora of nicknames, but I can tell you that NERD-HOP is the title of my first solo Hip-Hop project that will be dropping extremely soon. But why ‘Nerd-Hop?’

NERD HOP IS A STATE OF MIND. It isn’t a fashion statement or a style of music. At its very roots NERD-HOP is the idea that no matter the situation, decision or whatever it is your doing STAY TRUE TO YOUR SELF. Don’t be afraid to be who you are at all times. Don’t let other people define what it means to be you because every definition is a box. Every box is a limit. At the end of the day we except that we are nerds (we go to Northwestern, we like class, we aren’t thugs).

But what is a nerd? It usually holds a negative connotation: socially awkward, weak, always stuck in a book. We are shining a new light on the nerd community. To me a NERD is some one who is intelligent and passionate to the point of insanity about anything. You could be a nerd about fashion, music, sports, even selling yayo (shit just look at the Clipse: coke NERDS to the fullest). At the end of the day if your like “fuck them nerd hop dudes” then you’re the most NERD HOP person because you stayed true to how you felt and didn’t try to hop on just because we said it was cool.

Try out the NERD-HOP state of mind for a day and see if you don’t feel better, clear-headed, and more confident. Embrace your NERDOM. Be who you are, and let everybody else try and figure it out. NERD-HOP LIVES.

There you have it. Keep checking back for more updates, and possibly some exclusives from SeƱor Loonz himself.

Kid Cudi - A Kid Named Cudi (Mixtape)

Here you go. Via OnSmash.

Kid Cudi - A Kid Named Cudi (Mixtape)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Farnsworth Bentley: "Everybody ft. Kanye West & Andre 3000" (Video)

Okay, this is what I'm talking about. Here I am chilling in London on my 21st birthday, and I couldn't have asked for a much doper video to post. So apparently Farnsworth Bentley is still alive. And now instead of carrying an umbrella around and dancing in music videos, he is actually making his own music. Now, this is outrageous enough. But then, you watch the video and see that he got both Kanye West and Andre 3000 to do their thing on this track. Kanye is singing (with surprisingly good results), and Three Stacks is spitting his typically long but superb verse. Okay, I feel this. I guess the track was produced by some some trio of guys who call themselves Sa-Ra. It appears Mr. Bentley is going all out with this one. Not to mention he's better at rapping than I would have assumed, although by no means does this mean he's very good (because he isnt'). I wouldn't have minded hearing Ye spit a 16, as well. The video has an old school kind of feel, and the group calls themselves "The Colours," which is an acronym for Cool Outrageous Lovers Of Uniquely Raw Style.

There is basically an infinite number of cool things I could be saying about this. But instead I'll just let you watch the video.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Black Milk Live Footage

Here is some video of Black Milk performing "Shut It Down" and "Say Something." "Shut It Down," in particular is one of my favorite joints by Mr. Milk. Unfortunately the video could be much better. There is a little censorship going on, which is too bad, plus I feel like the video was edited too much. I don't want to watch the footage all chopped up, just give it to me straight.
You get it anyway because Black Milk is a beast. I'd say the Dilla protege is one of the best up and coming producers in the game right now. Check out his discography, as well as the collaboration project he did with fellow Detroit spitter Fat Ray, titled The Set Up.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Atmosphere Feature in URB Magazine

So it's pushing 3AM here in London, and I gotta wake up because I'm spending the weekend in Malta. That's right. But I was spending a little time browsing the net because I don't want you all to be stuck on that damn Pharrell and Santogold video for the rest of the weekend, while I'm in the Mediterranean Sea compterless.

Then I struck gold. Went to URB's website, and found an interview they just did with Slug of Atmosphere. Interviews with Slug are fun, mainly for the reason that he makes sure they're all unique (kind of like when he takes pictures with fans, and makes a new, bizarre face for each photo - but anyway), not to mention dude is rather articulate and insightful. Slug just has a real personal touch with nearly everything he does. Maybe that's why he's so damn likable. (Though I wouldn't mind hearing what Ant alone has to say, from time to time. I saw him at a pub after the Atmos/Brother Ali/Kidz in the Hall show I attended here in London, and Ant was chatting it up with some London locals. He seems like a cool dude with plenty to say, but Slug often dominates conversation.)

Ok - I'm done thinking out loud, and I need sleep. Hopefully this can keep you folks happy until Monday or Tuesday. Follow the link. Enjoy the weekend.

URB Article on Atmosphere / Interview with Slug

M.anifest - Babylon Breakdown (Video)

M.anifest dropped a video for this track, "Babylon Breakdown." He's originally from Ghana, but is now reppin' Minneapolis, so of course the vid gets thrown up here.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

J.Loonz: Nerd-Hop (Installment 2)

So I just posted Nerd-Hop Installment 1 a bit ago, and next thing I know, Part 2 is already up and running on the Nerd-Hop blog! Loonz must not be sleeping. This is a verse off a track called "Cryogenics," and it will definitely be appearing on Nerd-Hop. Loonz comes at it with some intelligent, lighting-fast rhyming (see Fiasco's "Go-Go Gadget Flow"), but with his own personal style on top. I don't even have much else to say since he's hitting us up with the rapid-fire blog updates. Ch-Ch-Check it out. Hopefully more to come soon.

And once again, you know MidwestBroadcast is here to hit you with the exclusives. Of course I've got the studio version. Probably shouldn't do it, once again, but you all need to hear this.

J.Loonz - Cryogenics

J.Loonz: Nerd-Hop (Installment 1)

So my main man J.Loonz from back home is dropping his first official solo release on July 24. It's called Nerd-Hop, which (as far as I understand) means doing your own thing and not paying mind to what others are saying. Maybe we'll get an exclusive explanation from the man himself in the upcoming posts. All I know is it sounds like some true Saint Paul/Chicago/Midwest shit to me. Here's the first video installment he has made prior to the official release of the album. He spits a verse to one of the lead tracks off of Nerd-Hop, "Hold My Coat." Dude's got some serious swagger. Check it out. Or visit the official Nerd-Hop blog site.

As an additional special treat for those of you who check this out, I'm providing a link to listen to and download the studio version of "Hold My Coat." I probably shouldn't, though. Click the following link to check it out.
J.Loonz - Hold My Coat

If you're feeling any of that, you also need to go back to the last post I included about J.Loonz, complete with other downloads of tracks he's on, and obviously spazzing on, of course.

Cool Kids Freestyle Session

Here they are at some radio show in London. I love seeing rappers that aren't scared to actually freestyle when they're being recorded. Mikey Rocks is one of those rappers.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Muja Messiah - The Patriot Act (Video)

Just got back from a Jay-Z concert in Hyde Park. Damn is all I got to say, it was amazing. I got some photos and pictures, but I'm dipping to Barcelona tomorrow morning, so those won't be up until sometime early next week, I'd say.

In the meantime, enjoy some MPLS hip-hop. Muja Messiah dropped a video to his track, "The Patriot Act," featuring fellow Rhymesayer I-Self Devine. Additionally, Muja performs at First Avenue in Minneapolis on July 27. Check it out.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

New Cool Kids Mixtape

New Cool Kids Mixtape. For all the new Chi-Town material that is constantly popping up (Lupe, Kanye, Mikkey Halsted), the Cool Kids certainly aren't on their grind. I'd definitely like to hear more material getting put out from these guys, but at least they keep it fresh.

The Cool Kids - That's Stupid (The Mixtape)