Hey, friends; take your mind off the rampant global warming and impending doom for a minute. Let's talk about the important things... like hiphop!
We seem to be hip-deep in a trend of non-rappin'-ass rappers. Either they're not rapping 'cause they suck at it—like, say, a Young Joc or even your boy T-Pain—or, they're not rapping 'cause assclowns like the ones I just mentioned are stagnating the whole damn thing. Take Andre 3000, who's made it clear over the last two years he isn't planning on rhyming for the foreseeable future; picture my surprise, though, when I heard "The Mighty O," a seriously dope new OutKast cut featuring him and Big Boi doing just that. Then picture my disappointment when I heard the two "official" singles from their upcoming album/soundtrack Idlewild, "Morris Brown" and "Idlewild Blues." The former is one of Big Boi's most phoned-in efforts to date; he sounds out of steam, and he seems to be feigning enthusiasm; the latter is Dre doing a totally unconvincing impression of a juke-joint blues number. I hate to say it, but my favorite group is about to drop its first shitty album.
Another non-rapping MC is Aloe Blacc of the duo Emanon, whose The Waiting Room was one of last year's best independent efforts and was this close to making my 2005 top 10. On Blacc's upcoming Stones Throw solo LP Shine Through, however, the charismatic wordsmith abandons the rhymes and goes for delfia, singing in inglés y español, over a variety of warmly subdued production. The results are uneven, as you might expect, but when it does work, it's immensely satisfying, such as on the gorgeous "One Inna" and "Untitled I"—a lovely Spanish rendition of John Legend's "Ordinary People."
Wednesday, August 9, check out Chop Suey for some damn good all-ages hiphop in the form of Macklemore, Symmetry, Kublakai, Life Cycle, and Grieves. Grieves has been doing his thing-thing for a minute now, hosting his own weekly at Vito's and selling out of his EP, Every Hell Has Its Springtime. Every Hell showcases Grieves's engaging, underdog mic persona and subtle production style, which at times recalls Ant's sad soulfulness; the overall tone, however, is one of optimism and persistence; check "State of the Mind" and the closing cut featuring a great appearance by Inkubiz. Touring extensively and crazily staying on his grind making quality tunes (earning him the cosign of KEXP's Lisa Wood), Grieves is definitely one to watch.
I wanna send a big congrats out to Tha Bizness (Dow Jones and J-Hen). The Seattle-reared, L.A.-based production squad has recently inked a deal with G-Unit honcho Sha Money XL's Teamwork Music. With that heavy affiliation in place, the fellas have already done in-house work for 50 Cent, Young Buck, Spider Loc, and the newest G-Unit acquisition, Phoenix MC Hot Rod—plus a host of other national acts. The Unit, of course is no stranger to Seattle-bred heat, having Jake One on speed dial. Cheers.