Nope, this isn't an April Fool's Joke. The Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™ are back! So please allow me this brief moment to don the 4-5. For longtime readers, perhaps you recall scrolling past reading my monthly column running down my top 5 songs of the month? Unfortunately, I abruptly ended the column when it became too time-consuming to the point that I didn't get it out until 3 weeks into the next month. But now with my writing itch currently in need of a scratch, I'm reviving the column and dissecting through the madness of hip hop and R&B that March had to offer. For new readers, here's what you can expect below:
#5 *TIBS FAV.™:
Find out favs 4-1 and more below...
Logic has burst into one of the biggest blips on our radar as 2011 closed and we entered 2012. His Young Sinatra mixtape has been blaring at the office since then, courtesy of Ant & Maks G and it didn't take long after for me to play it in my rotation. After getting to know the humble young cat when he rolled through GWHQ in February, it is easy to see that the hunger displayed on songs like his newest one "Numbers" is genuine.
"Numbers" is one of the new singles off Logic's upcoming spring project and it debuted this past month via the nicely shot music video above (talking about the camera skills, but the hometown backdrop certainly helps).
The line that sticks with you initially is this part of the addicting chorus: "You know what I been on. You know where I be at. Men lie, women lie, numbers don't I see that". Just ask Kevin Durant:
What is said to be the current OKC pre-game anthem right now (and it must be working because they just trounced the Heat, Lakers, and my Bulls earlier today - sans D. Rose tho :D), rings loud and clear with that chorus. What stands out about this kid in general is definitely his intricate lyricism, but also the clear and engaging delivery that makes many of Logic's songs hit the right chord on the first listen. That's as great of a 1-2 punch as KD and Westbrook (or if you're a Laker fan: Kobe and... Kobe.). That lyricism and delivery is excellently personified in "Numbers", but the common critique: it's a little Drake-esque. Ok, I can see the perspective. But what bugs me about some of the dislike around the interwebs is that they box Logic in as a Drake biter just off this one song. Look, Drake is clearly an inspiration to, not only Logic, but many of today's young up and comers. And just like you or I may be inspired by a celebrity, or a career-person like an architect, or I don't know, like a Derrick Rose (that's 3 references now if your counting at home) - we sub-consciously end up emulating them in some shape or form in our own craft. Perhaps it's attire, mannerisms, design, or a crossover - it doesn't necessarily mean we're biting the entire character of that person, right? In Logic's case, take a close listen to that Young Sinatra tape and I think you'll see an original style. Feels right I should end this on my other favorite lyric from the brilliantly 6ix-produced record - couldn't help but chuckled because I saw what he did there: "Hit the Vegas strip and blow a million euro just for fun. To be honest, I may have embellished that last line. Chillin' with a shawty that is so much more than fine. At the penthouse poppin' bottles of that hundred thousand dollar wine... I got the connect, met him through the grapevine."
#4 *TIBS FAV.™:
When you think of "The Don", what do you think of? Godfather... Sopranos... Don Cheadle in 'House Of Lies'?! Ok, maybe that last one is just me because it's my new favorite show, the season finale is later tonight... umm... his name is Don... and because Ben Schwartz is pretty funny /understatement'd. But when you think of hip hop's 'Don', you have to have Nas on that short list, right? Well, Nas proves such on the banging first street single off the upcoming album, Life Is Good entitled... you guessed it!... "The Don".
Let's start off with what'll reel you in - a repetitive, yet positively infectious chorus that samples legendary Jamaican DJ Super Cat over and over: "Nas the Don, Nas the Don, Nas the Don, Nas the Don, Inna New York City, Inna New York City". On paper, that looks about as appealing as one of those Dorito Tacos to the health-conscious (still need to try one of those though), but when you hear it, you can't help but nod your head and get amped to it, especially if you share Nas' hometown of NYC. Nas indeed holds it down for his QB hood throughout his three verses, and it is the last one that holds the most lasting power for me (plus that flow during this stretch...)
"New York is like an Island, a big RikeExplainrs Island
The cops be out wilding, all I hear is sirens
It's all about surviving, same old two step
Try to stay alive when they be out robbing
I been out rhyming since born knowledge
Like prophet Muhammad said the ink from a scholar
Worth more than the blood of a martyr
So I'mma, keep it on 'til I see a billion dollars,
Keep your friends close and your enemies closer..."
Not much else to say to urge you to download Nas' first single. Although I do want to add that I don't have "The Don" near my top tier of Nas songs, but it has been bangin' all month since it came out during SXSW. Lastly, I do also wanna shoutout the production team that consists of the late Heavy D, Salaam Remi (who has yet to disappoint on any of his collabs with Nas), and hometown duo Da Internz who get another versatile, big-name look to their growing resume. Speaking of hot beats, the one honorable mention for the Fav. 5 goes out to another infectious NYC track: Slaughterhouse's "Hammer Dance". AraabMUZIK ties these three for the best hip hop production of the month with Shady Record's fearsome foursome's new single.
#3 *TIBS FAV.™:
Shoo-booo-doo-da-da-da-da... Miguel represents the R&B genre in this month's Fav. 5 with probably my most played song this month - "Gravity", off the first volume of his innovative Art Dealer Chic series. For those who don't know, I also like to get my R&B groove on when in the right mood, which my fellow #TeamGowhere fam found out when I was driving on our road trip to Austin for SXSW, hah! Outside of general classics like "U Remind Me" (which Stan Perry and I rocked, duet-style... What's that? No. Sadly, there's no video...), the one jam that I really had on repeat was this standout that automatically became one of my favorite Miguel tracks upon first listen. Simply put, "Gravity" has everything you want in an R&B song - an amazing rhythm and production mixed with powerful vocals and non-cliche lyrics and imagery. This midtempo groove would be a feel-good record depending on the bar/club and, what we found out first-hand at SXSW, a groove that jumps to life when performed live. The guitars, in addition to Miguel's live vocals (indistinguishable from his studio vocals), kick up the energy and like all of his hits, Miguel puts a live twist on em that makes a fan of any lady or gent in the venue. My favorite part of "Gravity": how about the end of the breakdown? It's driven home by the production transitioning into one more chorus. "I'm just a shooting staaaarrrrr, the way you pull me and move me" is the killer makings of said chorus that I appreciate every time. So without further adieu, expand your horizons hip hop heads with this unique sound and R&B jam in "Gravity" from Miguel's Art Dealer Chic Vol. 1. Also download the second 3-song EP, Vol. 2, released this past week. And finally, this column has been devoid of an appearance from David Robinson so here he is in the RANDOM GIF SMA-(haha, whoa!)...
#2 *TIBS FAV.™:
Chi-Town's Add-2 takes the #2 spot on my March countdown with the soothing, soulful, and epic "Sunday Morning" - off the new mixtape, Save.Our.Souls, that dropped earlier this month. I unfortunately didn't get time to digest the mixtape the day it came out but during the past week or so I was able to vibe with the thought-provoking and controversial lyrics spilled out by the fast-rising hometown emcee. Everyone loves controversy and Add was no stranger to that when he dropped the "Cotton Fields" video directed by our own Cam Be back at the top of the year. That set the tone for what was carried out throughout Save.Our.Souls and my other favorite track from the project proved to be the less controversial, but still deeply lyrical cut "Sunday Morning".
What jumped out at me on first listen was actually the subject matter of each verse - 3 verses; 3 different themes. All connected by a soothing, raw hip hop chorus that'll have you singing 'what it be like, be like... everything gon be right, be right.. everything gon be right, be right..' Note that that's not the full chorus, but the catchy and repetitive (as you can see) lines that will only take one listen to get stuck in your head. But back to the verses: verse 1 tackles an analysis of the people around him trying to make it out the struggle in a "sick, sad world"; verse 2 is Add's storytelling rhymes directed toward an ex-lady friend; verse 3 being his most complex, discussing everything from racism to religion and general issues with society. As the song progresses, Add was like a snowball rolling down a hill, accumulating more and more snow to reach that unstoppable level where not even a house can stand up to it. In fact, as I was typing that analogy I realized I was thinking of a game. My research led to the aptly titled 'Snowball'. See if you can beat my national record...
(Fifteen minutes later...) Anywho, Add-2 culminates his last verse with this gem that best describes what I'm talking about:
"Prophets stealing your profits, your passes are pedophile.
Bless a molested child, confessions was never found.
What's the fate of the flock when the reverend is living foul?
Every city in town, the families is stressing out.
Fighting to stay alive while we losin' in every round.
Yes, I'm black and I'm proud for change I will say it loud,
White America scare me, your skin is a little brown,
What's the point of opinions if everyone isn't listening?
In-telligent ignorance, atheists versus Christians,
Debating the Bible's penmanship, waiting for God's deliverance.
Teachers teach you to write, but judges give you the sentences.
Deal with the pain by finding the vain and sticking the needle in,
Dr. King had a dream and the rest of us fell asleep again..."
...Yeah. More gems like this can be found throughout Save.Our.Souls so download my new first song to play on Sunday mornings (naturally) and then download the full tape. It's gonna be hard to top this for the number one spot...
#1 *TIBS FAV.™:
April Fool's! I wrote up at the very beginning (about 30 minutes ago, I know... sorry, but thank you for
scrolling reading this far) that there were ZERO Nicki Minaj songs, but therein lies the prank!
Now I actually wasn't too fond of "Starships" when it first came out, but boy has it grown on me. The Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded single was cemented to me by her performance earlier this week on American Idol (the audio is the version for download above) and Russell Westbrook's version earlier today (below) couldn't even deter me.
Real quick before I continue with my review, press play on the audio above so you can follow step by step my thoughts below...
C'mon, you didn't really think I liked "Starships" did you? Anywho...
THE REAL #1 *TIBS FAV.™:
The true, and honestly easy, pick for March's top spot goes to Mickey Factz, a.k.a. Mickey MauSe. I could have picked about a handful of tracks that are top spot worthy for March off Mickey's new conceptual project where he channels a 1980s painter, interviews Andy Warhol, and rhymes about topics of the time period from AIDS, to Reagan, to crack/cocaine while referencing all the pop icons of the time - all over self-produced samples of Dangermouse & DeadMauS. Whew! What part of that description has been done before? Not only is the concept unique, but also well-executed. After all, what's a cool idea without the execution behind it? As a result, Mickey MauSe is my favorite project in hip hop this year and for more commentary on why, I urge you to hit my post on it and download the whole tape.
But if you're sitting there reading this and in need of more convincing, then start off slow and take a listen at my favorite track off the project: the Mickey Mouse-sampled "Dreams Of Money". You read correctly - Mickey Mouse sampled. High-pitched ad-libs from the face of Disney become intertwined with the lyrics and actually had some irony to some of Mickey's lines. For example, one of MauSe's opening lines touch on cocaine: "Get a plow, or get a blaow, u get a trial. For a rich lawyer to get it reconciled (Mickey Mouse: A customer!)". For my fellow visual learners, first peep the preview of the song in its 'lyric video' form below.
That was my first impression of "Dreams Of Money" and right away, I had to play the snippet a few times over to fully comprehend the lyrics and references (Ex: refreshing my memory on Psalm 23) and having the lyrics displayed like that certainly drives home some of the messages that cover quite the variety of issues, in fact. From MauSe once again:
Slumber for the presidents, (Mickey Mouse: Ha ha), They tried to kill Reagan twice that's evidence (Mickey Mouse: Ha ha). Women put their bodies on display and sell a bit but not celibate. They waking up hell bent feeling devilish (Mickey Mouse: Good morning). Money's the root of all evil so the message is, The relatives on your family tree can be your nemesis. Visions of canopy's counting salaries in ya crib, Isn't reality but the fantasy helps ya live (Mickey Mouse: We'll get it). Homeless people street dream but they can't handle, So they panhandle (Mickey Mouse: Ok!)...
And how he masterfully concludes it...
"I'm broke but I'm still paying rent, I'm living like I'm bed ridden how my day is spent, I'm hanging with sega sonic but everybody think its Kemp, Fall asleep with a woman for a ladies scent, Penny for her thoughts I need closure (Mickey Mouse: Ha ha). Wanna be well rested when its over (Mickey Mouse: Ha ha). One hand on the holster, Cause before I get broker, I put myself in a coma (Mickey Mouse: Sorry pal...)
Bonus points for the dope Sega Sonic/Shawn Kemp reference that is also begging me to bring back this for ole times sake:
But back to Mickey. If what's illustrated above doesn't entice you; well, I can't help but share my other favorite track off Mickey MauSe - "Heart". Consider "Dreams Of Money" 1a and "Heart" 1b, as the latter dives into a topic completely different: a breakup. The record is brilliantly in sync as Mickey first reflects sadly about the end of his relationship with a powerful female chorus contributing her side of the story. All the while, the production goes from slow-paced to increasingly more uptempo - culminating in a dub-step-esque drop and a more uptempo and intense MauSe dropping off some frustrating 'what goes around, comes around' rhymes that concludes a full circle of emotions on just one track. I'll leave you with words from Mickey, in character, on "Heart" below, which come from a can't miss track-by-track breakdown on a can't miss project. Until next month... when the Bulls begin their Playoff run through June... (sorry for those who had the 'Over' on 5 MJ/Rose/Bulls references... if you like, I can always include more in the next one :D).
DAISY AND I MET AT THE FACTORY. SHE WAS ONE OF THE MANY MODELS BEING PHOTOGRAPHED AND CONSTANTLY INTERVIEWED. SHE WAS PHENOMENAL. TALL, AND SOMEWHAT PROPORTIONED. WE DATED FOR A WHILE AND KIND OF GREW FOND OF EACH OTHER. I HADN’T BEEN WITH A WOMAN BEFORE HER, SO IT WAS ALL NEW TO ME. I HAD LOST MY VIRGINITY TO HER, WHICH WAS INTERESTING TO SAY THE LEAST. I HAD ENOUGH MONEY SAVED THAT I GOT US A NICE COZY PLACE ON 5TH STREET. WE HAD SO MUCH FUN THERE. ONE DAY I SAW HER FLIRTING WITH A PHOTOGRAPHER & I LOST IT. THAT EXPLAINS WHY WE AREN’T TOGETHER. WE HAD A VERY BAD FIGHT. SO BAD THAT… THAT IT FEELS LIKE SHE RIPPED MY HEART OUT OF MY CHEST… I MISS HER. STILL…
- Mickey MauSe
GWHH EXCLUSIVES IN MARCH:
B.o.B // Mobb Deep // MC Hammer // Victor Cruz // Stalley @ GWHQ // Freeway @ GWHQ // Logic @ GWHQ // Diggy // Lil Twist // Honey Cocaine // Theophilus London // K. Flay // The Boy Illinois // Peter Rosenberg
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"Love does not dominate; it cultivates."