Oh yeah! The odd pairing of Ying Yang Twins and Adam Levine. Ha! I remember thinking the first time I heard the track: how is this going to work? Ying Yang Twins are best known for "Wait" and Adam Levine was just coming into his own as one of the biggest pop vocalists of the mid 2000s for songs that aren't along the same topic as "Wait". Of course, I had to dig up the record again and it passes in flying colors. I've been listening to it all week and was excited to share this unusual pick for today.
Adam Levine laces a nice chorus over an addicting electronic-inspired, bouncy hip hop beat while the Ying Yang Twins actually tell a compelling story of "the life of a stripper" who is doing the job just to get by. The uncredited female singer on the hook provides a fast stream of thoughts and perspective for the "stripper" too, adding to the story even more. And yes, the different styles of each Ying Yang Twin deliver the story well, with some engaging verses. I remember putting this on repeat back in the day, and find myself playing it as part of my everyday rotation for the past few days. Don't sleep on this odd collab on paper — but one that really works.
OH, and bonus points for the hilarious text and annotations that randomly pop up in this YouTube stream of the song above. Hah, you'll see..
Stream: Pharoahe Monch "The Truth" f/ Common & Talib Kweli (1999)
This edition of #OldSchoolSundays is actually indirectly brought to fruition by Kanye West. And that's because yesterday he tweeted that his 2nd verse on "New Slaves" is the best rap verse of all-time. Naturally, you're going to get some responses that argue differently, and one of those came from Mitch of The Bulls Show who said Pharoahe Monch's verse on "The Truth".
This gem was on the Internal Affairs album from 1999 and features none other than Common & Talib Kweli. All three put down some phenomenal, thought-provoking verses that you have to keep a close focus on to fully understand. There's not one line that's lacking in the whole song, but for fun, I decided to grab my favorite ones from each artist.
"True feelings, we speakin on the truth right now in itself is healing
See The Creator, created existence and balance
At right angles, unless it was conceived and stated
So whoever shall stray away from right lives wrong."
- Pharoahe Monch
"Out of everybody I met, who told the truth? Time did."
"When the words of lying men sound lush like the sound of a violin
The truth is there, it's just the heart you gotta find it in."
- Talib Kweli
Needless to say, give this soulful record a spin above! I'm sure to many of you this old school jam is a new one to take in. Whether it is or it isn't, it's a refreshing and timeless track that can fit in your hip hop rotation today.
Another edition of #OldSchoolSundays is inspired by Chi-Town legend Twista putting out some new music this month, along with some reminsicing back to high school when "Hope" featuring Faith Evans was a springtime staple in my stereo in 2005. It was then that I saw Coach Carter — the Samuel L. Jackson, based on a true story, movie where he stars as a high school basketball coach that bans his team from playing after not fulfilling his academics requirement.
"Hope" served as the film's fitting theme song while Twista also pays homage to famous muscians, those lost on 9/11, and conveys his view on the war on terrorism. The music video features additional cameos from SLJ and the entire cast (including a young Channing Tatum, ladies) while Twista and Faith deliver the uplifting and analytical messages. The original version was on Twista's Kamikaze album in 2004 with Cee-Lo, but it's Faith Evans on the hook that takes this song to another level.
Her soulful flavor, the theme of her chorus, the song's simple melody, the repetitive "I wish!" from the choir, and of course: Twista's chill, yet fast-paced flow and lyricism are all simply top notch. This was an instant *TIBS FAV. back then and a powerful motivator still today. I know this isn't a rarity (the song peaked at #31 on the Billboard Hot 100), but I share to see who wants to join me in using "Hope" to start our week off, whether today or if you're reading this on Monday, to help propel us to rise above, be grateful, and yes: hopeful for today, tomorrow, and beyond!
Alas, here's one of the film's enduring quotes:
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It's not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
Today's #OldSchoolSundays takes a unique twist to the legendary rock band Nirvana. The late Kurt Cobain is adored by millions still today, and his music lives on forever. With Nirvana hitting the forefront this week on track 01 of Magna Carta Holy Grail (Jay-Z & JT sing the iconic "Smells Like Teen Spirit" below), I thought it appropriate to bring back my favorite Nirvana memory — their infamous MTV Unplugged performance from November, 1993 — six months before Cobain's suicide.
The reason why this is such a personal memory is because I remember being affected by this performance from replays on MTV... when I had yet to reached double digits in age. The lasting images and sounds of a man's bare soul on display was so chilling that anyone who watched really felt Cobain's pain, sadness, and anguish. Again, even at a young age, when all else I remember is Michael Jordan and playing little league, I remember watching this Nirvana Unplugged performance with Papa Tibs in the family room. Thanks to Jay-Z & Justin Timberlake for triggering a re-watch that's long overdue and for exposing Nirvana to a new generation of young listeners. While many of you reading this have likely seen or at least heard about Nirvana Unplugged, I believe many of us would very much welcome another viewing.
OK, one more Nirvana bonus video — did you know Kurt Cobain sat down with Nardwuar back in 1994? Yup, we all know the latter in this day and age as hip hop's biggest interviewer, but if you didn't know he's been doing this for two decades, then watch this fascinating, raw interview with Kurt Cobain as well. It was one of my first looks at Nardwuar once he took the hip hop scene by storm after interviewing Jay-Z (heh, this post just came full circle. I'll stop now.)
Michael Jackson "You Rock My World" f/ Chris Tucker [Music Video] (Extended Version)
With the BET Awards about to kick off tonight, and BET doin' right by letting Chris Tucker host, I figure it appropriate to bring back some of Chris Tucker's finest musical moments for an edition of #OldSchoolSundays. After all, he's been one of my favorite comedians since the 90s. Plus, just last week, Papa Tibs and I bonded over watching Rush Hour 3. Yes, that's the weakest of the three Rush Hours, but watching it again made me realize it was still a pretty hilarious an entertaining movie. Hope they follow through on a fourth one.
That's all besides the point as we first have to bring back a fun re-watch no matter how many times you've seen this: the extended version of Michael Jackson's music video/short film for "You Rock My World", which illustrated the friendship MJ and Chris Tucker had more than anything. One of my top tier *TIBS FAVS. from Michael Jackson too.
Plus, as you can tell, Tucker draws a lot of influence from MJ in his Rush Hour movies. All of these are fun clips to relive too — from Rush Hour 2, Chris Tucker's karaoke version of "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough", from Rush Hour 3, his MJ dance as a traffic cop to kick off the flick, and finally... one of the most iconic scenes from the Rush Hour series in the movie that began it all. Watch and enjoy — plus, what other moments may I be missing? I just picked a few off the top, and I'm sure there will be one from tonight's BET Awards. Back later with some of the show's highlights.
Loading the player...
Chris Tucker "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough" (from Rush Hour 2)
Loading the player...
Chris Tucker MJ Traffic Dance (from Rush Hour 3)
Loading the player...
Chris Tucker & Jackie Chan — the "don't you ever touch a black man's radio!" scene (from Rush Hour)
J. Cole "Therapist" — a freestyle over "Victory" circa 2002/03.
With J. Cole's takeover of the Chi tonight, and in general with the new critically acclaimed album, Born Sinner, I felt it most appropriate to take it back with an old, rare freestyle from Cole for an edition of #OldSchoolSundays.
Two takeaways from this video:
1. It's very 2002 — 240p video quality with J. Cole rocking a tall tee. I bet he would be the first one to laugh at the attire and the lil dance he puts down before rhyming.
2. A glimpse at J. Cole's skill that has now come to full fruition some 10 years later. Classic production. And one that I think would be a fun revisit for Cole in 2013. Ya know, just for fun.
As mentioned above, J. Cole's in the Chi tonight as his "Dollar & A Dream" Tour continues. I feel like everyone in the city knows he's at the House Of Blues in an hour or so, but if you catch this at posting time, watch this while you get ready, then head downtown.
Ed O.G. & Da Bulldogs "Be A Father To Your Child" [Music Video] (1991)
It's Sunday, it's Father's Day, which means... you guessed it! #OldSchoolSundays: Father's Day Edition!
Going to keep it to two classic, throwback selections, first going back over 20 years to 1991 when Ed O.G. & Da Bulldogs released a slick video for "Be A Father To Your Child" to drive home their message to deadbeat dads. This one's not so much a tribute track, but just a great overall message to have a foundation and be responsible for your children. One gem of an example: "It's not the presents, it's your presence and the essence.. of being there!" Sit back and appreciate the audio and visual experience, which is vintage 1991 all the way around.
And how else can we conclude this post? In the same fashion Common closes albums. Here's "Pop's Rap 2" off One Day It'll All Make Sense as Lonnie Lynn Sr. shares some words of advice or experiences as part of the series — all set to a chill, jazzy instrumental. Gotta love the "Pops Raps" series!
Loading the player...
Common "Pop's Rap Pt. 2: Fatherhood" f/ Lonnie Lynn Sr. (1997)
Lastly: Happy Father's Day to all! If you're with your pops today, or he's out there somewhere or up above, cherish that communication and/or special moment(s)! Also gotta send a special shoutout to my own Papa Tibs — GWHH's #1 Fan! Hope you enjoy your burned copy of Yeezus today! (haha, jokes jokes...)
Switchin' it up for this edition of #OldSchoolSundays to some classic R&B from one John Stephens... better known today as John Legend. Yup, this video comes from a live performance in Philadelphia in 2002 when Legend went by his real name of John Stephens (the story of how he got the name John Legend was from J. Ivy, in fact. He told us that story and it's pretty crazy... we'll have him tell it to you pretty soon..!)
Anyway, it is amazing to look back at the roots of Legend's superb live performances, plus his early career look with that fresh 'fro. But why "Stay With You"? Well, the song has long been a favorite of mine on Legend's debut album, Get Lifted, but it took extra meaning for me today as it was the fitting soundtrack to a sand ceremony at a wedding I attended. You see, I'm 25 now and today was the first wedding I went to for someone my age. Without going into too much detail, it was a fun college reunion up in Minnesota but I definitely felt an extra kick into adulthood by witnessing my two friends, that are my age, tie the knot. Great feeling though, and what a perfect day!
I also happened to have the presence of mind to Vine this moment of "Stay With You" at the wedding today (and yes, I'm as fully obsessed with the new social media app as the rest of the industry now... so follow us @gowherehiphop ..!). So take a quick look-see at that as well below!
Wow, were the audience members and viewers of BBC's Graham Norton Show in for a treat this weekend. Could a performance be both planned and impromptu? Because Will & Jaden broke away from the interview with the English host to first rap as a father/son duo (no big deal, my dad and I do that all the time). But then, Will reveals DJ Jazzy Jeff at the turntables and proceeds to perform "Summertime". And if the Fresh Prince nostalgia wasn't already at a high, cue Tom Jones, cue Carlton himself: Alfonso Ribiero. After he shows he hasn't missed a beat with the Carlton dance, Carlton, Will, Jaden, and Graham all form a line to conclude on the "Tanto (Jump On It)" dance. Thoroughouly entertaining and well-executed by all parties involved. Fresh Prince fans, this is a must see!
UPDATE: Since we're in the Old School Sundays spirit above, here's some more fresh Fresh Prince for ya today, courtesy of this 1989 freestyle on Tim Westwood's show in London. Wow, crazy to see them both so many years ago. Plus, the old school flow and rhymes are accompanied by the story of meeting DJ Jazzy Jeff. This video is, yup, you guessed it — another must-see.
Big James and the Chicago Playboys LIVE @ 45th Anniversary of Kingston Mines 05.18.13
This time last night (it's 4am as I write this) I was enjoying live music at a place I wouldn't have thought I'd be after countless hip hop shows I've attended over the years. That place: Kingston Mines — a famous Chicago blues and juke club on the north side, celebrating its 45th anniversary after opening its doors in 1968.
Now, not that I'm not a fan of blues or anything like that, but there's been enough hip hop or R&B shows over the years to catch to keep me busy. The only other classic club in Chicago I've previously frequented was The Green Mill (and one of those two times was because Childish Gambino walked in there after his set across the street, but that's a whole 'nother story).
Anywho, I instantly warmed to the idea when one of my high school buddies who was in town (longtime GWHH readers may remember him write about sports on here as 'The Sage') suggested Kingston Mines after 3am. "Sure, why not?", I thought. There's no way I wouldn't like a blues club; after all, it's the soul of Chicago's music scene that dates back decades. And so much soulful hip hop and R&B derives from blues. And I could tell my dad about it — he's a Chicago blues expert who runs the Twitter account @ChiTownBlues49, after all. Naturally, Papa Tibs has been to Kingston Mines when he was my age.
Eddie Shaw and The Wolf Gang LIVE @ 45th Anniversary of Kingston Mines 05.18.13
As for my night, I was instantly floored at how much energy was in the Kingston Mines. It was 4am, but it felt like the night had just begun. People everywhere, shoulder to shoulder, many dancing and others at the bar. People of all kinds — college kids, 30 somethings, white-haired Uncle Drew characters, and even a brave soul with a Detroit Red Wings Nicklas Lidstrom jersey (he shouldn't have even been let in).
The Mines are set up to have two stages with acts alternating between the two spaces, giving people two different environments to experience the music. The bigger room of the two allows for more dancing (which is what I walked into... aside from the old guy in the 1930s gangster suit) and that's where we saw Big James and the Chicago Playboys. This Vine won't do it justice, but they played off on a funky hip hop beat with the singer repeating "Say You Will" like he was Kanye West.
Soon after in the other room, our group grabbed a table to enjoy the more soothing sounds of Eddie Shaw and The Wolf Gang. Eddie Shaw, presumably the fella in the ole sailor suit, had a raspy voice yet soulful way about him. I couldn't understand much, even when he addressed a group of guys for not having any ladies with them in between songs (high comedy), but he and The Wolf Gang kept the good vibes comin'. When you got someone wielding a guitar with three necks, you know you're already in for a treat (see the photo above).
Simply put, last night was reinvigorating to step outside the element of a hip hop show and take it back to the roots. Experiencing live Chicago blues is a must for any Chicago music fan. Blues is once again not only a drawing point for some of today's biggest hip hop artists and producers, but also representative of the melting pot of our hometown. You can't get a blues experience like the one Chicago still has to offer, and in many cities, you can't get a blues experience at all! Whether it's Kingston Mines, the Quiet Knight, or The Green Mill (for some some comprable jazz and swing), get a group or get a date together and you'll be in for a lively, cultured experience. So how bout that to finish off a busy night early Monday morning of Old School Sundays?!