We all listen to music differently. What we hear is shaded by our history, our knowledge, our equipment, our mood, our taste. But every year there are moments when everybody who lives and breathes hip-hop is talking about the same thing.In June, when Jay’s Samsung/Magna Carta Holy Grail ad aired during game 5 of the NBA Finals. A Thursday in April when Pusha T’s “Numbers on the Boards” dropped. A Friday night in May, when Kanye’s face appeared on buildings all over the country. The middle of September, when Drake’s Nothing Was the Same leaked. The evening in August when Funkmaster Flex dropped — complete with bomb sound — Kendrick Lamar’s verse on Big Sean’s “Control.”
This episode of Microphone Check co-hosts Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Frannie Kelley are joined by their social media manager, Cedric Shine. All three of them experienced those disruptions differently — and their opinions of both their meaning and the quality of the music at their root are not unanimous. The conversation ranges from Ali’s inside track on Magna Carta to Troy Ave, ASAP Ferg, music journalism’s involvement in Kanye’s year and how the quality of life in New York City is affecting the music being made there.
While continuing to push this culture of music, this culture of young people doing extraordinary things, it is important to pause and reflect on the gravity of certain moments. As our attention spans are slowly becoming condensed to 140 characters, as we get caught in the whirlwind of a constant flow of information, it would be negligent to simply leave the passing of one of this generations greatest statesmen up to major news outlets. Sure, our followers and supporters will hear his story time-after-time over the next few weeks, but he earned our respect and admiration ten-fold. Mandela served 27 years…27 years for believing equality and freedom for the people of South Africa was more than just an idea, but a reality. Having the patience and peace of mind to see the end goal is something we can all admire. Although the fight for equality on a global scale may not seem as apparent as it once was, we still face challenges – some of us more than most. Today, we honor Nelson Mandela not only for his ability to be a catalyst for change, but for his ability to inspire awareness and compassion for future generations.
For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela
December 4th is always bittersweet. In 1969, a star was born in Shawn Carter and in 2007 we lost Chad Butler. In commemoration of the shared date, we get a posthumous verse from Pimp C on Hov’s “Tom Ford.” Braggadocios yet honest, Uncle Chad gives new life to the song, which already sets any party or club off.
Former Roc-A-Fella Records CEO Dame Dash teamed up with Cam’Ron for a fashion show back in September. Here the two collaborate for an ad campaign for photo-sharing and fine goods website, Fancy. Fancy, the latest entry in the increasingly crowded social media marketplace, bills itself as a “crowd-curated catalog of amazing goods, wonderful places and innovative stores” according to the site’s About page. Fancy has attracted some high profile attention from Kanye West and Apple CEO Tim Cook. The site, which works similarly to Pintrest, lets users “fancy” or select goods that are later sold via the website and app. Rap legend Nas also seems to have a business relationship with Fancy, after the company sponsored his team this summer at the famed Rucker Park for its Entertainers Basketball Classic.
Kanin and Kendrick have come along way since rapping together in the 7th Grade. Here, the two old friends link up for “Winners Circle.” Kanin’s project, Old School New Sense is available with a “name your price” option on Bandcamp
This year I was able to avoid post-Thanksgiving blues thanks to Soulection radio this past weekend. Shout out to Joe Kay, featuring new tunes sprinkled with the ‘feel-good’ classics. Again, tune into their live stream with Joe from 10am-1pm PST online every Saturday. Track list at the jump.
StarRo has been killing these reworks as of late, and here it only gets better as he puts his spin on Brandy’s debut single, “I Wanna Be Down.”
After hearing about Kanye’s interviews last week, I took some time to allow things to sink in. I spent the holiday mulling over a host of quotes and ad-libs, as opposed to airing my thoughts too quickly; emotional responses to Kanye West interviews tend to open an unnecessary can of worms. Fans and critics alike spent those first few hours explaining his place on the “normal spectrum” as somewhere between genius and severely unbalanced. My twitter timeline blew up as all the “pain” and “hurt” caused by the interviews had spilled over into social networks. Friends and colleagues up in arms over either how much he has changed or trying to justify his rants as passionate blow ups. The Incomparable Kanye West, still as polarizing as ever.
I took down some quotes from the interviews and gave a brief description of some of the names in fashion and design he has thrown out recently.