Ah, Mother's Day! An extra special day for mothers everywhere, but also 1 day of all 365 in which they should be appreciated! I spent mine today with Mama Tibs & Papa Tibs for the lovely Church/brunch combo. Caught some Game 7, Heat-Pacers, and a rare Cubs W. Spent more time with the folks and my brother, who joined us in the evening. Laughed hysterically at the new Brian Scalabrine 'White Mamba' commercial. And finally... found the time to not only reflect on some of my favorite mama-related hip hop jams, but also, my overdue Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™ since the start of April. What follows is an epic fusion of both that rivals the fusion of peanut butter & jelly. (Ok, you're right, nothing rivals that.)
#5 *TIBS FAV.™:
Find out Favs. 4-1, the Mother's Day-inspired jams, and more below!
Ok so Kellz takes the #5 spot, but add a footnote to "Feelin' Single" like you would to the eventual 2012 NBA Champion. Because of Derrick Rose's devastating torn ACL (seriously, there was no energy in Chicago that weekend), the Sports Guy Bill Simmons decided to rank the 20 most fortunate breaks an NBA Champion has ever received in what was a fascinating read a couple weeks ago (that I of course had to read with my good friend, Kleenex). Well in this case, I'm borrowing the 'footnote' idea by applying it to "Feelin' Single" - not because of a serious injury, but because this song was released a mere two days ago. Try your best to handle the weight of each of their impacts. But seriously, what I mean is that, there are songs that come along that I repeat ad nauseum for a day, two days, a week... and then it's out of my rotation. "Feelin' Single" gets the footnote because I have been playing this on repeat throughout the weekend, yet I have the utmost confidence that I'll still have the repeat option checked when in the R&B mood a week from now, a month from now, and whenever Kellz' upcoming album, Write Me Back, comes out.
Right away, there is a throwback 90s/early 2000s midtempo groove to "Feelin' Single" that I couldn't help but be reeled in by. It is as instantly impactful as the first few seconds of a Doritos Locos Taco commercial (which I finally tried this weekend. Just a *Tibs Fav.™; no all-caps status. And yes, I referenced the Doritos Locos Taco in last month's Fav. 5). Anyway, R. Kelly tells the story as only he can - it's not as ridiculous as a "Taxi Cab", but a unique conveying of an end of relationship inspiring a night out for a new ladyfriend... or lady friend. And because this bears repeating, R. Kelly's smooth vocals are destined to be imitated by Aziz Ansari in next season's Parks & Rec... OR this summer's new standup tour. I will accept and laugh hysterically at either result.
In honor of Mother's Day:
Talib Kweli "Momma Can You Hear Me" (prod. Kanye West)
Talib shared this unreleased ode to mothers on his Facebook page today, featuring a dope sample/production from none other than K. West.
#4 *TIBS FAV.™:
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I bounced around between one of my leading pump-up jams during this time, "F*** You Think This Is?", another one in that category with "When I'm Gone", the heartwarming "I Go, You Go", and what QuESt accurately describes as the "best resemblance of what the project’s overall sound is" with "Gambler". But it eventually hit me like "FINKEL IS A MAN!" that it's where Fear Not Failure all begins - track 1, "Nothing To Fear". Ok, it wasn't as dramatic... or hilarious.
"Nothing To Fear" represents a couple things. Most directly, it serves as the thematic set up for Fear Not Failure - musically and lyrically. Mt. Eden's thumping, hip hop/dubstep fusion is established from second one. Combine that with QuESt's fast-paced delivery mixed with catchy harmonizing on the hook and you've got a clear sense of the range and balance of the sounds comin' through your speakers. But the chorus' message, "They told me to run away, maybe another day, there's nothing that I can say, just move along. I found it another way, there's nothing to fear today, there's nothing to fear today...", not only acts as a representation of FNF's most prevalent motif, but also as a personal motto we can all carry out ourselves. There really is nothing to fear. Don't let fear shake your thoughts, emotions, confidence, goals, risks, decisions - and that's all just off the top of my head. It's most definitely easier said than done, but fear is a self-created thought and feeling that can simply be overcome mentally by a different thought or feeling. I try and carry this out in my daily life and "Nothing To Fear", and Fear Not Failure as a whole, are powerful reminders to keep that focus on point... like [insert favorite Point Guard here].
In honor of Mother's Day:
Boyz II Men "A Song For Mama"
You know I had to bring some R&B into the mix with thsi Boyz II Men classic.
#3 *TIBS FAV.™:
B.o.B "So Hard To Breathe"
I've been bumpin' Strange Clouds heavy in the Tibsmobile since its release on May 1st, which is ultimately a great reflection of the album. And for the three weeks before that, I've been bumpin' what I think is the album's best song - "So Hard To Breathe", which was one of the many previews released prior to the album by B.o.B. Ironically enough, "So Hard To Breathe" isn't my most played song off Strange Clouds. That is a tie between a couple of future singles (undoubtedly) in "Castles" featuring Trey Songz and "Both Of You" featuring *gulp* .. *whispering* Taylor Swift. The album is full of various songs with various styles. There are other singles like "Strange Clouds", "So Good", and another future one in "Arena" featuring Chris Brown & T.I. - the latter shining especially bright for the nasty guitar riffs that back the verses of the ATLien emcees. There are some straight up bangers that appeal to B.o.B's southern roots like "Play For Keeps", "Just A Sign" featuring Playboy Tre, and elements of the album's intro: "Bombs Away". And then there are some songs along the lines of the depth and mood of "So Hard To Breathe" with "Chandeliers" featuring Lauriana Mae and "Where Are You". So why did I zero in on "So Hard To Breathe" as best?
Simply because it is the perfect representation of not only what I love in a song (lyricism, delivery, catchiness, and a complimentary production) but also what makes B.o.B a unique and special artist. Every aspect of his versatile musical talents are on display, and executed at elite levels: rapping, singing, and producing. B.o.B raps a storytelling insight into his mind about the affects of increased fame - a touchy topic that has a slim window of getting the listeners to care without alienating them by coming off as a crybaby snob. On "So Hard To Breathe", I care. Referencing his come-up in the second verse is a motivating few lines on top of the more noticeable, catchy chorus that contains a more universal message of fighting through personal and societal isolation, that we can draw parallels to and apply in our own personal trials and tribulations. Tying it all together is a mood-changing, melancholy production kicked off by some chilling guitar chords. So if you're keeping score at home, B.o.B goes 3 for 3 on the raps, the vocals, and the production with the added bonus of emotionally-stirring, lyrical depth. And yet, this is somehow number 3 in the rundown.
In honor of Mother's Day:
2Pac "Dear Mama" LIVE
Found this live video performance of 2Pac performing his Afeni-dedicated classic. Love the little intro before the performance as well. You are appreciated.
#2 *TIBS FAV.™:
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This is Nas' 2nd appearance in the Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™ in as many months. That's one more home run than Albert Pujols in the same time frame. Zing. In all honesty though, I hailed "Daughters" as an instant all-caps *TIBS FAV.™ back one late April afternoon, when I proceeded to blast it on repeat about the same amount of times as Albert Pujols has career home runs. "The Don" was last month's entry and Life Is Good's first street single. That gets you hyped, no doubt. But "Daughters" is on another level of mastered territory that the legendary Nas, or any emcee really, has executed quite like this.
Nas dedicates the track to his fellow fathers with daughters and proceeds to describe some detailed personal struggles of raising an adolescent teenage girl. A problem that's been one for fathers since the time of cavemen - protecting your daughter from a guy she's interested in - is one Nas touches on, but presents in such a cutting-edge, caring way by detailing how social media like Instagram is changing those sorts of situations, hah! I only wish he furthered it by requesting she only Instagrams things like cool buildings or sushi - you know, like everyone else (myself included). But it's how Nas brings it full circle with my favorite part of the song - the bridge below - and the simple, and effective chorus.
"The way mothers feel for their sons, how fathers feel for their daughters. When he date, he straight. Chip off his own poppa. When she date, we wait behind the door with a sawed-off. Cause we think no one is good enough for our daughters. Love!"
Those words have an even deeper meaning and relation, given Mother's Day today, huh? I walk away from "Daughters", with not only these strong words, or the raw No I.D. beat stuck in my head. I walk away from "Daughters" having a life-changing perspective on single fathers, daughters, and just families and children in general. And for "Daughters" to leave such an impact on me, someone who can't really relate to being a single father parent (whether myself of course, but even through my close friends or relatives), I think that speaks volumes to what Nas achieved here. I can only imagine how this song resonates with someone who can more directly relate. And if that sounds like you, this is probably your #1 for the month.
#1 *TIBS FAV.™:
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The hometown takes the #1 spot as Mikkey Halsted and Lupe Fiasco paint a vivid picture of the inner-city violence that Chicago is unfortunately known for in recent years especially, and really just violence in the community in general. Before I dive into the song, I should note that you can't really go wrong between "Daughters" & "Gone" for the top spot. Both are on the short list of most-powerful hip hop songs in the past calendar year, but I gave "Gone" the edge for the melancholy, yet addicting chorus from singer Jim Lavigne above. His voice, notes, and lyrics bring the song together and give "Gone" that extra punch for replay value. Sometimes it's hard to vibe with a deep, lyrical song like "Gone" over and over again, but Lavigne's chorus goes a long way in avoiding that issue here.
But back to the meat of the song, as Mikkey Halsted conveyed a build up of frustrations of witnessing one tragedy after another, daily might I add, in the city he loves and calls home, in storytelling fashion across the first two verses. He delegates the third verse to Lupe, who couldn't have been a more perfect fit to present the situation in another intelligent, storytelling way. How so? Through the perspective of a paramedic, who unsuccessfully tries to save a 20-year old from being the latest casualty to gun violence. Lu's conclusion is rather gut-wrenching and brilliantly driven home through the extended outro of the David "D.A." Doman's fitting, acoustic instrumental.
"And I've chauffeured many, and barely saved any.
I say he's bout 20. Not a bad paramedic, they just good with the semis.
So I don't feel bad, I gave everything in me.
To bring 'em back to life, now I see his light dimming.
See his soul slipping, he's all done.
Turn the sirens off, we just lost one."
- Lupe Fiasco
And once again, this wouldn't be possible with Mikkey Halsted orchestrating the track and two tough-to-swallow verses of his own that depict school shootings and a passionate plea to God for help. The sadness of "Gone" is hard to ignore, but that's what makes the record so impactful. With senseless violence getting put under the spotlight through this lens, by two influential lyricists from Chicago, the issue has become more aware in the community, in general. Gone's presence alone has already immeasurably affected inspiration and positive change. So let's keep that momentum going and act to stop this senseless violence together! I'll leave you with words from Mikkey himself on the record and a quote that Maks G dropped on our Facebook page today, in fact, that is especially fitting.
"In light of “37 SHOOTINGS, 46 VICTIMS & 9 MURDERS” during Chicago’s first ‘warm’ weekend, the Trayvon travesty, 6-year old Aliyah Shell, and in honor of my cousins Ismail & Malik that were gunned down last summer…I felt as though this was the time to drop this song. Shouts to Lupe for helping me paint a vivid picture of what goes on everyday in Chicago and every other ghetto in America. Also, shouts to David ‘D.A.’ Doman & Jim LaVigne for providing us the perfect canvas to paint upon.
Special Dedication to Blair Holt and the hundreds of CPS students lost to senseless violence.
WE CAN NO LONGER WAIT FOR OTHERS, SEEMINGLY UNAFFECTED BY OUR ISSUES, TO SOLVE OUR PROBLEMS FOR US. SPEAK OUT AND SAY SOMETHING, BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, DO SOMETHING."
- Mikkey Halsted
"Chicago is one city. We shall work as one people for our common good and our common goals."
— Harold Washington
LAST ONE! In honor of Mother's Day:
Kanye West sings "Hey Mama" with Donda
A rare, home-video style clip of 'Ye with his late mother Donda singing the moving Late Registration classic. Can't help but watch this with a heavy heart, but can't help but enjoy the joy from both son and mother.
All of us at GWHH hope you had a Happy Mother's Day! For more good reads, check out our own GY312's Mother's Day column in the Chicago RedEye.
PREVIOUSLY: Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™: March, 2012
GWHH EXCLUSIVES SINCE APRIL:
B.o.B // DJ Premier // Talib Kweli // Sir Michael Rocks @ GWHQ // King Louie @ GWHQ // Tank // Sway (featuring XV & Dee-1) // Shanell // Papadosio // Retrospect // Aerias // Homeboy Sandman // Michael Cameron
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