With Talib Kweli's new album, Gravitas, just days away from release on December 15th, I thought it would only be fitting to revisit a few of my Kweli faves. One that always got me pumped up and feelin' good in the summer of '06 was the first single off Ear Drum — Listen!!!
And revisiting the music video today took me back to the creative fusion of art and graphics with Kweli with his headphones on in the city. Added graffiti art take the standard performance scenes another level and the overall aesthetic of the words is such a perfect match with the song. Raw hip hop that proves the test of time, as "Listen!!!" would still be a hot single if it were released today. I can always go back to this joint, amongst many, from Talib Kweli.
How 'bout some ole mixtape Lu for #OldSchoolSundays today?! One of the earlier gems and biggest co-signs for an emerging Lupe Fiasco came with "Spray Paint & Ink Pens" featuring Wu-lyricist Ghostface Killah and Mike Shinoda who was heavy in his Fort Minor rap project at the same time (a gem of an album itself).
This was one of my first all-caps *TIBS FAV. Lupe tracks that started my fandom for the Chi-Town emcee who's now become one of the game's widely regarded artists. I particularly resonated with the smooth ending to his concluding verse and the metaphorical hook that'll reel in the casual listener. And that's not to overlook Ghostface & Mike Shinoda's verses too — both did their thing too and the song wouldn't feel complete if either of them was just mediocre.
This great throwback was inspired by this #GowhereYouLove photo from our homie @optwo13 today. Oh how one simple thing can trigger such a memory...
"Spray Paint & Ink Pens I use.. To write in every color I think in..." @LupeFiasco #OldSchoolSundays #GowhereYouLove | #repost @optwo13
With the Eminem buzz at a maximum this week surrounding the release of his upcoming album, MMLP2, on Tuesday, I figured he'd be the perfect subject for our #OldSchoolSundays feature. I'm using this to also spotlight one of the most slept-on albums of the early 2000s: Obie Trice's Cheers.
The fellow D-Town native was Eminem's protege around the time of The Eminem Show and O. Trice's debut album dropped shortly thereafter and was one of my favorites at the time. Obie possessed similar silly and clever one-liners to Slim, but also the lyrical prowess to tell stories that he's experienced. His production was all on point as well, with Cheers becoming the next project that Dre & Eminem worked on (with Timbaland and Emile even helping out with some tracks of their own).
All things combined, Cheers was a great listen from beginning to end and a high school staple for me during the fall of '03. I literally remember those bus rides with the first track highlighted above kicking off my commute. "Lady" is a song that I can come back to 10 years later and feel the same, timeless energy behind Obie and Em's rhymes. It's one of the handful of all-caps *TIBS FAVS. that are on the album.
Another one is what I'll conclude this post on: the music video for "The Setup". Good things happen when Dre & Nate Dogg (R.I.P.) add their stylings to your debut album, and it's Obie Trice's storytelling that gives this one longevity. Contributing to that is the music video that stars Mya and brings it all to life. Another great throwback to watch today. And since we're all in an Eminem mood this week, we should make some time to listen to the entire album — a nostalgic re-listen for me, and perhaps a resonating first listen to our younger readers. Enjoy!
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Obie Trice "The Setup" f/ Nate Dogg (prod. Dr. Dre | starring Mya) [Music Video]
Guys, this is like "Last Call" but with no beat, and for an hour long.
That's probably all that any big fan of "Last Call" will need to hear.
If you're not familiar with the College Dropout outro / song / long-winded story, then what you're getting above is Kanye West pre-superstar fame, with a specific fuel stemming from people that told him he was crazy to rap, and still the same bravado that we all know and love today.
Here's just some of the highlights:
- How he met No I.D. (bothered him outside his window, ha!) and learned his classic sped-up soul samples style (beg.)
- Starting to be a producer from the 7th grade, hustling beats and demos from $500 or less, and spending his money to get the fresh fashion looks (12 min.)
- 'Ye's views on Hip Hop and what he can do to Hip Hop (15 min.)
- The more detailed version of his "Last Call" story and how it all aligned when he went from a car accident to moving from Chicago to Newark, NJ and meeting the likes of Jay Z, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, and more. (28 min.)
- How "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" was created with Jay Z (complete with 'Ye's awesome Jay Z impersonation) (38 min.)
- His experiences working with Just Blaze (47 min.)
- The story and explanation behind his scroll tattoo on his forearm (58 min. — and an awesome conclusion)
And some quotes:
"I feel like I'm going to help bridge the gap in hip hop. Cause, I'm going to talk from the perspective of just being honest." (15 min.)
"I feel like coming from Chicago is definitely an advantage.
"I'ma use everything that everybody says I can't do and I'ma flip it to the positive." (18 min.)
"In my heart, there's so much stuff that I want to say to the world... I'm not using rap as a way to get paid or something. I'm using it as an opportunity to really say some stuff that I think needs to be heard, that I think people will enjoy. I'm trying to give back." (24 min.)
"It's once again that point in my life, that I have to step away from what I'm doing or retreat in order to follow what my dreams really are. You cant fight every battle and win the war. Sometimes you have to retreat, and then come back." (45 min.)
And what would have made Boston Market trend in 2013:
"You definitely gotta take me to Boston Market or somethin' after this, man." (a minute in, hah!)
When people say Kanye West has changed, I say he's evolved. I mean, everyone changes, but everyone doesn't change too. Compare this interview, this passion, with that of Jimmy Kimmel or Zane Lowe just this past month. It's the same Kanye. And it's the same inspirational, world-changing outlook and delivery that has only grown exponentially from 2002 until now.
And I dare you not to dig up College Dropout after watching this interview. Plus, a couple bonus tracks: "Self-Conscious" and "Gossip Files" (both are cited/rapped in the interview) off his Freshmen Adjustment mixtape.
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Lastly, a nod to Baseline Studios for the Malik Sealy jersey shrine behind Kanye (shortly after Sealy's untimely death, R.I.P.)
It's been a minute since we had an edition of #OldSchoolSundays so here's one that is inspired by our new sitdown with Common himself this week (see below ICYMI, and note where it comes in) and to pay homage to what I've long considered my favorite album intro: "Be".
Laced by some heavy strings and a soulful melody from Kanye West, the 2.5 minute track to Common's 2005 album sets the tone, changes your mood, and is a beautiful mix of instrumental and fast-paced lyricism from Com. Two of Chi's finest took the game by storm with this album... and this is how it all began!
At the top of the month, John Legend released his new album, Love In The Future and one of the album's standout tracks "Dreams" was actually the first one that Legend had written for the album... and one whose original version is actually better than that on the album.
Above, #OldSchoolSundays takes an R&B turn with John Legend's first performance of "Dreams" back in 2010, which features two verses. Not only do they add more depth to the Love In The Future final version, the first few lyrics of both verses create instant imagery. I listened to the album version first, liked it, then was made aware of this version from my boy T.O. and now can't listen to the album version the same way. OG version >
So if you clicked the post for "Dreams", you're also likely interested in a one more John Legend tidbit: namely, getting married to Chrissy Teigen this weekend. Yup! The couple kept it a secret to the public and some news/photos leaked about the event. According to People, Kanye West, Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder (who performed), and Brooklyn Decker (the maid of honor) were all present. Plus, Legend performed his new single/Chrissy dedicated track "All Of Me" after the ceremony, which undoubtedly turned on the water works for those in attendance. Below are a couple of photos. Congrats to the Legend!
Lil Wayne performs "A Milli" alongside cool guy Justin Bieber, as Floyd Mayweather walks to the ring
This was a sight to see — one that I hoped someone put on Vine right away so I can relive how weird it was to see Floyd Mayweather, a rapping Lil Wayne (I think... his mic was on, right?), and a swagged out, out of place Justin Bieber on loop. I'll settle for the video, which you can see above ICYMI as well. Mayweather (predictably) got the W, then I was sleepy, and fell asleep on the couch. Just adding some personal experience for you guys.
This ring entrance still falls short of Mike Tyson coming out to 2Pac's "Ambitionz As A Ridah". For an early #OldSchoolSundays, watch that below. The equivalent to the above would obviously be if 'Pac was there to perform it on Tyson's right and then I don't know... Madonna on the right...
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Mike Tyson enters to 2Pac's "Ambitionz As A Ridah" #OldSchoolSundays
"Rip City Rhapsody" by the 1990 Portland Trail Blazers
To get amped for Week 1 of the NFL today, I've been watching a lot of... NBATV?! During the nothingness of the NBA offseason right now, NBA TV has put out a fair amount of original programming. One of those shows is NB90's: a VH1's I Love the 90's style recap of the seasons and style of the times and where I discovered this phenomenal rap video from the 1990 Trail Blazers.
So this week's #OldSchoolSundays will be more on the fun side (especially because I couldn't find any worthy throwback videos related to Kanye Wes'ts tour announcement this weekend) as this video encapsulates all that is great about cheesy rap videos by professional sports teams in the late 80s/early 90s. Literally everything. I'll let you enjoy.
Eminem "Real Slim Shady" x "The Way I Am" @ 2000 VMAs
It's VMA night! Later today the 2013 version will take place at Brooklyn's Barclays Center and will feature performances from Kanye West, Drake, Lady Gaga, the reunion of *NSYNC, the reunion of Danity Kane, (one of these doesn't belong), and more surprises I'm sure. So naturally, for this version of #OldSchoolSundays, I had to relive one of my favorite performances at any award show: Eminem at the Radio City Music Hall in the year 2000.
This was Eminem at the height of his popularity — both for the astronomical album sales and the controversy surrounding him for whatever reason the mainstream media would choose. "Real Slim Shady" was the unofficial most recited song in America and the music video brought together countless Eminem look-a-likes as Em rapped amongst them as the "Real Slim Shady". So how could Em live up to the hype to kick off the VMAs? By bringing the music video to the main stage as Eminem was accompanied by, emphasis on a ton, more Slim Shadys. I can't get this image out of my head, now many years later. It was surreal to see on the street, let alone that he was performing on the street in the first place, and it was surreal to see all the Slim Shadys walking through the aisles.
The performance was also notable for Eminem's famous diss on Fred Durst as Em didn't dap him up in the aisle after Durst's name-drop in the song (Em was successful on the dap for Carson Daly, who was also name dropped.) After "Slim Shady" concluded and Eminem was on the stage, he went into a furious verse of his second single off The Marshall Mathers LP, "The Way I Am" (and probably my favorite song off that album.) With the late Proof by his side (R.I.P.), it's a chilling and energetic performance to watch today.
One last fun note on the video above — Jim Carrey as the VMA host and doing hilarious Jim Carrey things to introduce Eminem. Ha! One of my all-time favorite funnymen.
Something a little different for #OldSchoolSundays today as I had to call an audible on my #OldSchoolSundays VMA post because I failed to realize that this year's VMAs are next Sunday. So, you'll get that next week, but for now, here's a great video for even the casual basketball fan...
"The Story of Shammgod" is a comprehensive, yet concise 5 minute compilation of what's known to crossover artists as the "Shammgod", named after former Providence PG and NYC street legend God Shammgod (I remembered him at Providence in the late 90s!). The video actually traces his famous crossover to European player Dejan Bodiroga, who performed the move against Vince Carter on Team USA. More highlights, including Shammgod (of course) and NBA players who've used it since like Chris Paul, Manu Ginobili, and Uncle Drew (both in the commercial and, um, Friday), can also be seen above.
Not only does the video do a fun job of explaining the whole story (including those 'wow' highlights), but it's also set fittingly to the instrumental of "New G.O.D. Flow" (you know, for God Shammgod) and I can't watch this and not want to listen to that Kanye & Pusha T collab from last summer. Plus, this is an inspiring video to go out and ball — which this was for us leading up to today: the Bitovi 3-on-3 basketball tourney. Great times and hoopin' were had, as Bitovi raised a whopping $1800 for the American Stroke Association. #Baller