Friday, March 25, 2011

Dear B.o.B. (re: 'No Future')

Attaway, Bobby Ray!! Point 'em out!!!

B.o.B. - No Future

BEEF is such a watered down version of what it used to be. Gone are the days when rappers would get at each other on their own tracks, like Canibus on LL's '4,3,2,1'. No longer are funny looking caricatures and long monologues using names utilized like 50 Cent in his all-front assault on Ja Rule in 2003. Rappers nowadays may devote passing lines to rivals and keep it moving. Such is the case today Bobby Ray. I woke up this morning to a new track from you entitled 'No Future', and gave it a cursory listen, as I do most music that enters my periphery. Immediately, I heard a B.o.B. that I hadn't heard in years. You sounded angry. You sounded vicious. You sounded like someone had insulted your mother, or better yet you. Then I remembered the OFWGKTA frontman Tyler's track 'Yonkers' where he famously said:
I'll crash that f*cking Airplane that f*ggot nigga B.o.B. was in
Ahhhh! Now the 'No Future' title makes sense. But then I thought more about it and realized that your retort, while lyrically dope, was reminiscent of why rap beef today is so lame. There were no names, there were no personal attacks... Just vague indicators of the nameless foe you were attacking... whom everyone already knew. That said Bobby (and any other rapper that wants to clap back), make sure you make your diss tracks clear. Seriously... It's like handing in an exam without a name on it. You might have aced it, but no one's going to know who it is for. The teacher could use elimination to decipher who it is, but the thought that a kid so smart could forget to write his name almost erases the good grade, in terms of common sense.

I'll say it again, Bobby. The track was kind of hot. You dropped that sing-songy 'I'm trying to be Eminem and talk about obstacles I've overcome' flow, and RAPPED. Too bad it was undirected and vague. If we were keeping score, Tyler would be up 10 with 2 minutes left in the 4th quarter, and I'm the furthest from an Odd Future fan. I just respect when a rapper has the cojones to put a name out there and stand by it. Hell, I'd rather you not even throw out a diss track if you were going to keep the adversary anonymous. Take a hint, Bobby. The next time someone disses you (and Tyler has since backed away from his comments), take one of two routes: Either A) Pull a 50 and call your rival out like a man, or B) Pull a Jay-Z and don't even regale the comment. Hip-hop was never about sitting on fences. Either you hop over and give your neighbor a piece of your mind, or stay on your side, lament about how his grass is greener and look up at the Airplanes...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dear Record Companies

From West Indian block parties to underground ciphers, piracy has always been around...

via The Register:
The music industry is sticking to a self-valuation that has been rejected by various courts and has now been described as “absurd” by a New York judge.

Judge Kimba Wood has handed down an opinion in the LimeWire damages case that challenges the industry’s belief it could be owed more than the entire global GDP for one year.

After LimeWire lost the case last year, the trial moved into the damages phase, with hearings starting next May. In an opinion (pdf) [1] published ahead of the damages hearings, Judge Kimba Wood revealed that the record companies, seeking statutory damages against the music-sharing service, are seeking damages predicated on the “number of direct infringers per work” – leading to a damages claim of as much as $75 trillion dollars (according to Wikipedia, total global GDP is around $69 trillion)".

You know an industry is in the middle of a flux when it grossly overvalues itself and insists that the rest of humanity respect its inflated self-image. It just so happens that this overvaluation is a constant staple of the music industry, where fickle fans, new technology and constantly changing winds make an accurate understanding damn near impossible. The music industry continued that trend over the past two weeks when a gang of you record companies decided to hold Limewire accountable for $75 trillion over its enabling of file-sharing. I almost gagged when I saw that figure. $75 TRILLION?!?!?! Since when has the music industry been worth more than the entire world's GDP? Seriously... I like music, and I'm sure the rest of the world does too, but not that much.

And to boot, you're suing Limewire of all companies. If you guys really had your hand on the pulse of the music industry, you'd know Limewire was played out after my 9th grade year (2002, if you must know). Additionally, if you were really paying attention, you would've been up on the online music grind from jump, so that you could've had a stake in it. Torrents, sharing websites and iTunes beat you to the punch and now you're on the outside looking in, trying to bust the windows. Now that you're behind the curve, it's like you're trying to put a four-alarm fire out with a water gun. Hell, now the blogs are running the game, giving away your artists' music (at least in hip-hop; can't speak for every genre) and all you guys can do is shut down onSMASH for a couple of weeks.

If your preposterous claim against Limewire is a sign of anything, it's that the little man always has a one-up on the corporation because the corporation is too focused on the profit rather than the product. That you guys are finally getting your day in court is too little, too late, and the judge handling your case proved that when he called your claim 'absurd'. As a matter of fact, that's just the first in a long list of words I have for your general greed and lack of insight into your own business. Either way, I and the rest of the bajillion Generation-Y music fans will somehow find a way to download music around your egregious blocks to fair distribution of music. Are you going to threaten legal action against all of us? Probably. God save the poor sap who gets nabbed with that law suit. Will it work? Probably not. Maybe you should take notes on the new wave instead of trying to cram your way in after the lights have come down.

Neighborhood Newsletter (3/24)

1000 e-points to whoever can name every 'Bill' on here...

Religion to Die Out in 9 Nations

Study: Most Obese Moms, Kids Underestimate Their Weight

Sperm Grown in Lab for First Time

Cascadia: The West Coast Fault Line That Is "Nine Months Pregnant and Overdue"

Mom Gives Daughter, 8, Botox

European Nations Bombing Libya Sold them Weapons Months Before

Food Prices Make Biggest Jump in 36 Years

US Finances Rank Near Worst in the World

The 8 Most Ridiculously Badass Protesters Ever Photographed

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Ohhhhh Davey... This summer's looking like another doozy for superhero movies. With the Spiderman franchise reeling from a lackluster third movie and a failed musical, and Iron Man 3 not seeing the light of day for a while, the Marvel universe needed a new superhero movie to blow open the box offices again. Speaking of Iron Man, at the end of the first one, we were introduced to the 'Avengers', a group of superheroes that fights "the foes no single superhero can withstand." This summer we get a look at the first Avenger, Captain America, played by Chris Evans (wasn't he the Human Torch, though). From the trailer, it looks like the dialogue is going to be very well-written and the action well-placed. Set during World War II, I'm interested to see how they tie in the rest of the Avengers, considering the Avengers movie coming out in 2012. Additionally, the Red Skull arc needs to be done well, given the flop of a Captain America movie from the early 90s. All in all, it looks promising. Hopefully, they don't kill the genre for good...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dear Dez Bryant (re: Sagging Pants)

I'm gonna guess Dez was in the middle of the spectrum...

via NewsOK
Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant was ejected from an upscale Dallas shopping mall after a dispute over the sagging pants worn by him and some companions.

A Tuesday police statement says officers working off-duty Saturday as security at NorthPark Center encountered Bryant and three companions wearing the drooping pants.

According to the statement, when the officers asked the four to pull up their trousers, Bryant launched into a profanity-laced tirade that prompted the officers to escort the four from the mall.

Let's do a re-enactment, for old times sake!

- Enter any public venue, be it a mall, restaurant, AIDS clinic or what have you -

Security guard (probably white): Hey, you! Pull those pants up or you're out of here!!

Minority youth 1 (with sagging pants): I know you're not looking at me. I know my rights and you can't tell me anything about my apparel. *proceeds to continue discussion with friends about Libyan missile strike*

- Security guard walks away feeling silly and goes to bust teenagers riding escalators the wrong way -

 That re-enactment is how the above news story probably should have gone. Then again, this is the real world, not the ideal world where people handle situations with grace. I've always been of the school of thought that no one should or can tell you how to wear your clothes. For any legislative body to try and regulate how a man decides to wear his pants is an egregious violation of civil liberties. It's like telling a woman not to wear a tramp stamp or telling a redneck to cut his mullet off. How can you enact a law or enforce a regulation on a person's physical appearance? Regardless, Dez, you know you f*cked up right?

Dez, I am all for self-expression, and could care less about what you wear, but your sponsors and the media sure as hell do. When White America and their ultra-discerning eye looks upon black youth, they don't see the upstanding young men and women in college or the work force adding to the economy. They see you and your Merry Band of N*ggers, tattoos emblazoned on your bodies, adorning garrulous jewels, mouths agape with profanities and pants scraping the earth with your designer boxers and belts showing. That you represent the spectrum of black youth unable to contain themselves is indicative of your own immaturity and ultimately casts a shadow on the rest of us. Even if one of us does choose to sag his pants, AND responds to a challenge with an educated retort, we probably will get the same treatment, simply because we're lumped in with you.

Yes, the police officer (whose pants probably were up to his armpits) was probably overstepping his boundaries in his request. At the same time, you could have definitely handled it in a better way. How about letting the man catch a glimpse of your Black Card, or carrying a highlight reel of your rookie year, or handing him a card for your lawyer? Or better yet, engaging him in a battle of wits on the merits of individuality and the cultural divide between black youth and White America? Any way you parsed it, NOT cursing him out would definitely be a better course of action. At the end of the day, this probably won't make you bat an eye because you've got enough money to where it doesn't matter what mall you shop at. But for the rest of our sakes, try and find a different mode of rebellion other than anger. It will make for a better story and a stupid-looking security guard, rather than another news piece about 'those n*ggers'...

Reek DeVille - 10 Mack Commandments


Reek DeVille - 10 Mack Commandments

As far as remakes of classic songs go, remixes to Biggie's '10 Crack Commandments' come a dime a dozen. That's no knock on anyone who tries, but simply a sign of the times. That said, if you're going to make a list to BIG's rulebook to the crack game, make sure you do it well. Such is the case with Reek DeVille, formerly known as Reek da Villain. His remake, entitled the '10 Mack Commandments' is about as exhaustive a list as possible when dealing with females in this life. In fact, I think more relationships would stay the course needed if men used their heads (not that one). Reek is preparing to drop his How to Be a Player EP with OnSMASH soon, and if this is the first track, consider my ears perked up. Check it out...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Mailing List: 5 Reasons Why the US Might Be Screwed

Call me a pessimist. Call me an angry liberal. Call me unpatriotic. Call me any derogatory term for a person upset with the direction our country is going in, but you can never call me uninformed. Our fair country, the United States of America, is knee-deep in a metaphorical pile of excrement, body parts, oil and missiles, and lately I've felt less and less optimistic about our state.

Sidenote: If there are any Feds reading this, please don't take this as anything more than an opinion. I'm just a blogger, not a terrorist...

1. We are engaged in three wars.

Between Afghanistan, Iraq, and now our newfound military front in Libya, the United States is spreading itself thin in terms of our armed forces. After 10 years and over $1 trillion spent on military costs, the 'War on Terror' has yielded next to nothing in answers for the 9/11 attacks, much less broken up any part of the new 'axis of evil' George Dubya duped the world into believing in. Imagine that. We've been at war for over a decade now, and still have nothing to show for it but dead soldiers and civilians, a U.S. funded puppet state in Afghanistan that's rife with corruption, and a loss of faith from the world community. Now that we've engaged Libya, and still have no plans to get out of Afghanistan or Iraq, I can only imagine the carnage that can ensue. Not to mention, the U.S. is on a fast track to conflict with North Korea. If we think the Middle East has some WMD's, then I'd hate to see what Kim Jong-Il has up his sleeve. Simply put, we've focused too much on the military over the last decade, especially economically, bringing me to the next point:

2. Our domestic economic policies aren't helping.

If there is any person whose opinion on finance and the economy I'm going to trust, it's got to be Warren Buffet. The man simply knows money. And guess what? Warren Buffet says the recession isn't over, and won't be for some time considering the steps our government is taking. Take a look around. Unemployment is still rampant and job creation is stalling. The amount of Americans filing for bankruptcy is still rising. Our national debt is still rising, while our GDP is stagnant. And the worst part? Our government is enacting policies that will probably add to our deficit.

If it's not the richest Americans getting tax cuts widening the gap between the haves and have-nots and turning the U.S. into a nation of classes, then it's our egregious military spending putting us in the hole and bringing us closer to nuclear holocaust. If it's not CEO's bonuses jumping 30%, then it's state governments attempting to block unions while not cutting their own pay. If it's not a RoboCop statue being erected in the economic wasteland of Detroit, then it's the government dragging its feet in a budget-saving health care plan. Our government blasts the country's spending habits when it spends its money on ridiculous things that don't serve to improve our nation, and instead set us back.

3. Dependence on oil is still the precedent.

Energy is what runs everything. Repeat that. ENERGY RUNS EVERYTHING. It runs our transportation, every appliance and piece of technology we use, and every resource we need, needs artificial energy to work. That said, our dependence on oil is sickening. Of all Western nations, we use the most oil while producing the least. Additionally, the world's oil reserves are set to be running low in the next 30-40 years, with the world reaching it's peak oil production in the past few years. That means the world, and more importantly the U.S., is going to have to find a new method of energy production. Ironically, we continue peddling money into oil subsidies and oil companies, rather than invest in sustainable energy. At this rate, we'll be in the dark faster than you can flip a light switch.

4. Our education system and infrastructure are failing.

If you're reading this, I'm going to assume that you're reasonably educated and can formulate a complete thought on paper without awakening the spirit of Mr. Ed. However, for a lot of American youth, that's not the case. Since 2000, the United States has fallen behind most of the industrialized world in reading and math, two subjects that we excelled at starting in the 70s. Additionally, we're at our lowest rate of college matriculation and graduation in over 30 years (you could blame the recession). No, I'm not saying the U.S> has become a nation of idiots, but we're getting closer to that title by the day. With even the SAT beginning to show signs of lower scores, it's obvious that something isn't going right in our schools as of late, which should seriously affect the country's future, and inevitably our ability to understand what's even going on in our country...

5. Political engagement is down, while political ignorance is up.

According to Newsweek, Americans are becoming more and more politically ignorant, with more than 30% of Americans being unable to name our own Vice President, 44% unable to define the Bill of Rights, and 73% unable to identify why the Cold War was fought and 6% unable to circle our own Independence Day on a calendar. Excuse me? In this nation so hell-bent on patriotism and national pride, people have no earthly clue what's going on! No wonder they vote for legislation that hurts them financially, allow warmongering politicians to draw us into foreign conflict and listen to idiots like Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin spew misinformation. In the 60s, 70s and 80s our industrial might was enough to keep us afloat, because the rest of the world was simply playing catch-up. Now that the Internet has ushered in the information age, it's a necessity for the U.S. to know not only what's going on in our own country, but also the rest of the world... And we're failing terribly.

I won't sit here and say that I've lost all hope in our fair country. However, it's disconcerting to see so many ills in our country that are easily fixable with some smart leadership and engagement from our citizens. At the same time, with the way things are looking, a move to Canada might be just what the doctor ordered. They don't look like they're doing too badly. The U.N. seemed to think so, and I trust their judgment a lot more than the U.S.'s at this point...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dear Overzealous Parents

The picture says it all...

via The NY Daily News:
A Manhattan mom is suing a pricey preschool for dumping her "very smart" 4-year-old with tykes half her age and boring her with lessons about shapes and colors. In court papers, Nicole Imprescia suggests York Avenue Preschool jeopardized little Lucia's chances of getting into an elite private school or, one day, the Ivy League.

She's demanding a refund of the $19,000 tuition and class-action status for other toddlers who weren't properly prepped for the standardized test that can mean the difference between Dalton and - gasp! - public school.

"This is about a theft where a business advertises as one thing and is actually another," said Mathew Paulose, a lawyer for the outraged mom.

"They're nabbing $19,000 and making a run for it."

Impressed by the school's pledge to ready its young students for the ERB - a test used for admission at top private schools - Imprescia enrolled her daughter at York in 2009. A month into this school year, she transferred the child out of the upper East Side center because she was forced to slum with 2-year-olds.

"Indeed, the school proved not to be a school at all, but just one big playroom," the suit says.

The court papers implied the school could have damaged Lucia's chances of getting into a top college, citing an article that identifies preschools as the first step to "the Ivy League."
I've always been happy with my parents... Always. Even when they annoyed me into oblivion, placed ridiculous (at the time; now I know they were for the best) restrictions on me, and found every way to make me miserable, I know it was because they wanted to see me succeed. That's generally what any parent wants. It's what a parent should want. But what happens when a parent takes championing their child and their child's need for success too far? What happens when the most innocent times in a child's life, such as preschool, become sullied with aspirations of post-secondary grandeur and accolades? What happens when something as sacred as playtime isn't treated as such, but as a gateway to Ivy League matriculation? Such is the case today, where Nicole Imprescia of the Upper East Side in NYC (now you know it's getting hoighty-toighty!) has decided to sue the York Avenue Preschool for 'ruining' her child's chances at an Ivy League education.

First of all, since when have sandboxes, Legos, stuffed animals, finger-painting, monkey bars and those cool rainbow parachutes become a barometer for success? While attendance of preschool has been proven to raise a child's chances of success in the long-run, I'm pretty sure that there's not a minimum price that guarantees that a child will somehow become Goddard. As a parent, getting your Neiman Marcus knickers in a bunch to push your kid into the Harvard of preschools is a waste of time. At that point, every child has the same chance of becoming a genius.

Second of all, why is society trying to push kids who just left toddler-dom straight into adulthood? As far as I'm concerned, all a 4 year-old child cares about during that period is what color crayon they want to scribble on the walls and where to wipe their boogers after a good old-fashioned gold-digging session. The last thing on little Timmy's mind during recess is whether he wants to major in English or Biomedical Engineering at Harvard. Show me any 4 year-old child who knows what Harvard is, much less what college is. Instead of worrying about your child's still burgeoning educational development, how about you let your kids go get some friends and develop social skills naturally?

Third of all, what kind of whackjob of a mother sues over something so silly? The only thing being won in this case is a whole boatload of negative press for little Lucia once she does get to college-age. I guarantee that whatever school she does end up applying to is going to go into their archives (because we all know in 14 years, that nothing will be private) and see her mother on the front page of some parenting magazine looking like Tipper Gore at a Odd Future concert: ridiculous. Is that really what a parent would want? What are you going to do when your kid gets into any type of trouble? Are you going to sue your kids' bullies when he scrapes his knee? Are you going to sue the opposing basketball team when your kid suffers a last-second loss? I hope not. Here's my advice, overzealous parents: Let your kids be kids. Let that rugrat go get dirty and enjoy what little innocent time he has before society poisons him with consumerism and he loses his natural wonder and honesty...

Neighborhood Newsletter (3/16)

Tell me you agree with the Iraq/Afghanistan War and the GOP stance on the budget crisis after watching this...

No, I Don't Need a Hug: America's Unneeded Love of Embraces

The Napping Habits of 8 Famous Men

White House Wants to Crack Down on Illegal Video & Audio Streaming

How to Get Good at Making Money

The Texas Gang Rape Dividing a Town

Deutsche Bank On Why Japan's Disaster May Actually Boost US GDP

Every Republican On House Energy Committee Says Climate Change Isn't Real

7 Things You Didn't Know About Albert Einstein

We Hate Animal Cruelty — Unless We're Eating the Animal

Justin Bieber and 14 Celebrities More Popular Than Jesus (According to Google)

Police Bust Massive International Pedophile Ring

Five Potential Replacements for NFL Sunday

Kinetic Architecture

This is quite possibly one of the coolest things I've seen in a while. Seriously. The good people over at Yanko Design introduced the Kinetower, a new build for skyscrapers that utilizes sunlight to transform a building from a traditional straight-up structure to something of a flower. The Kinetower uses a material that is rigid as high grade steel when taut, but flexible when loose. The result is a building that can open itself up to sunlight and wind, meaning a much more energy-sustainable structure. Rather than using man-made electricity, solar and wind energy can be utilized for a building that essentially powers itself. The applications for this design are endless, and with a premium being placed on 'green', I wouldn't be surprised to see the Kinetower in the works somewhere soon. Hopefully the US will get its head on straight and order a bunch of these. Check out some more renderings of the Kinetower after the jump...


Dear Lupe Fiasco

Buy Lasers HERE

It's been well over 3 years since your last album, The Cool. That album was a dedication to hip-hops obsession with... well, being cool. It painted a picture of the game and what's cool as being these destructive, yet enticing entities, that would tempt even the most righteous among us. I suppose that is one of your appealing traits as a rapper: your ability to reveal what we celebrate in this 'game' for the detriment it is. When it was revealed that Lasers would finally be released, I rejoiced, not only as a fan excited for new Lupe, but also because it would be a far cry from your usually pithy tone. No longer would the listener not be subject to the thought of how much we're losing. We're lasers, not losers! We don't have to be all melancholy about the way hip-hop is going! We can protest in front of Atlantic Records and get your album released! We don't have to let the labels decide what we have to listen to! That's what I thought Lasers would champion. It turns out we were wrong. Lasers was a disappointing reminder that no matter how much 'we' push, there's a huge chance 'we' won't get what we want. And you were the first person to learn that, Lu.

I won't get into the fact that you derided the album after it leaked or have been lambasting your own effort. That's for you and only you to live with, given the high standard of work that you usually hold yourself to. As a listener and fan, that happening is a bit disconcerting. Even if you weren't doing that, the album still doesn't live up to the height. It starts with a rousing piano solo on 'Letting Go', then delves into an abyss of half-baked choruses and muddled verses. You spoke a lot about war on this song and did a lot of introspection, but not in a palatable way. It was almost like you were writing an angry letter to yourself about everything that grinds your gears, but the letter had no direction and no point.

Lasers continues with probably the best song on the album 'Words I Never Said', a powerful political statement reminiscent of the Lupe we know and love. The song was persistent, unyielding, and unashamed, reminiscent of what I imagine you wanted the album to sound like. You definitely threw that in second so that you could get it off your chest, and then the album takes a nosedive from there. Between 'Till I Get There' and 'I Don't Wanna Care Right Now' the pop-esque instrumentals seem better suited for Flo-Rida than you. Hell, he might as well have been on one of those songs. This is clearly where Atlantic had their way with you. The Trey Songz feature couldn't have been more misplaced, and the track, 'Out of My Head', had the depth of a Jersey Shore reunion. Given how easily you tended to speak about love on your other albums, this was a huge disappointment. You rapped in circular monosyllables, all about superficial things and not the romantic minutiae that endeared you to the fan (think 'Sunshine'). I felt horrible bopping my head to the song. You and Trey could've definitely collaborated and come up with a better song, though I'm not sure Trey has the capacity to go 'deeper' anymore. Even so, 'The Show Goes On' saved Lasers from the dreaded 'halfway point pause-and-never-play-again curse'. Its uptempo vibe brought the listener in and while you didn't RIP your verses, it was hard not to like them.

After that, the album takes another nosedive. It seems like you were sleepwalking through those next two tracks featuring MDMA, and it was hard for me to keep awake during them. You talked about the future constantly, but had a flow sounding like it was stuck in the mud:
They like 'how come you don't rap that' / Cause that's a backtrack / and I ain't tryna back back
Really, Lu? We're taking it back to preschool? This is coming from the guy that wrote 'Dumb it Down'. What happened to digging deep for conceptual greatness? What happened to challenging the listener? What happened to the type of tracks that make you rewind them dozens of times just to catch one line or metaphor or punchline? It seems like you're faking the funk, or just simply f*cked the funk up. 'State Run Radio' got some brownie points back, but the irony of the track was hilarious considering the puppet strings pulling you throughout the whole album. 'Break the Chain' and 'I'll Never Forget You' were snorefests. By the time I got to 'All Black Everything', I had had enough, regardless of how good a song it was. The damage was done. You had successfully shown how 'conscious' hip-hop could have its manhood taken from it and served on a platinum plaque.

Ultimately, Lupe, Lasers failed because you failed to paint the vivid picture that your manifesto for the album did. Rather than champion 'substance in the place of popularity', you got a #1 spot on the Billboards with what was your least substantive album. Rather than 'think (your) own thoughts', Atlantic spoon-fed you 9 concepts and you choked. Lasers wasn't the revolutionary work of art you promised, and no matter how much you downplay your involvement, it's your album. I'd rather you take ownership for this and come back harder with LupEND or Friend of the People or whatever your next work is (you never know now with you, especially with your precarious label situation). To say this was a bad album is a bit much, yet I can't give this one my stamp of approval. It'd not only be going against my better judgment, but your own words. So, Lupe, enjoy your platinum plaque. Like I said, ironically your best-selling album was your worst content-wise. Lasers or losers, this album proved that it is possible to win and lose at the same time. If that's not enough reason to come back with a vengeance, then this should be your last album just like you said 2 years ago, Lupe...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Kanye West - All of The Lights (Remix) (ft. Lil' Wayne, Big Sean & Drake)


Kanye West - All of The Lights (Remix) (ft. Lil' Wayne, Big Sean & Drake)

Huge props to Karen Civil for letting this one loose, even though I had to rip the audio myself so you guys could download it. Everyone (and by everyone, I mean the internets and Twitter) said that Drake killed his verse, and now we get a chance to hear it. The remix to Kanye's 'All of The Lights' is pifftastic, splendiforous, and a bunch of other made up words for awesome. The only weird part about this track is Sean's use of onomatopoeia. He has a unique flow that works sometimes, and other times seems out of place. No worries, though. Wayne and Drake do enough heavy lifting to counteract Sean's snafu. Check out the remix and have a happy Monday, people!!

EDIT: Apparently, 'Ye has a verse lined up for the remix as well. Be on the lookout for an 'official' version...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tax Breaks for the Rich vs. Budget Cuts for the Poor


More infographics. One more time, but really for your mind. If you haven't been paying attention for the past 6 months or so, the United States is at a crossroads of economic discourse. The haves and have-nots have always been disparate, but with the extension of George Bush's tax cuts, the distance between the two is set to grow exponentially. Conservatives, most notably the Tea Party, have put forth rhetoric saying that tax cuts for the rich will boost the economy by encouraging trickle-down economies. Basically, they're implying that by supplying the rich with more disposable and untaxable income, the rich will re-invest that money back into businesses and it will ultimately trickle down to the poor.

Yet as we've seen over the past decade, whether it's the financial collapse of 2008, the increasing tension between labor unions and owners, or our country's still-laconic economy, the rich have no intention of putting money back into the economy. They're content to put their money away in interest-bearing accounts and offshore entities to keep it 'safe'. What conservative political pundits fail to mention, though, is the crippling effect it has on the rest of us, further shrinking the middle class and widening the gap between the rich and poor. And all of this is lieu of the now GOP-led Congress threatening to cut numerous programs that would help the 'lower' class of the country. The infographic above compares the two: the tax cuts for the rich, and the cuts to programs such as early childhood education, teacher training and after-school programs, and job training for the unemployed. The good people over at the Center for American Progress put it together in the hopes that it would enlighten those blinded by conservative bullshit rhetoric. See what all the hub-ub is about above, and remember to VOTE so we don't have a government hell-bent on propping up the same elite class that propagated our financial collapse...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Neighborhood Newsletter (3/10)

Your Nuclear Fallout/Natural Disaster Survival Pack

The U.S. Wastes 40 Percent of All Food Produced Per Year

Don't Use U.S. Force in Libya!

England 'Healthier Than the US', Despite Spending Less

Spineless Penis Makes Us Human

15 Musicians Gone Broke

Facebook Is AOLifying the Internet—and That Sucks

Not the Onion: Cost of slaves falls to historic low

Dalai Lama Giving Up Political Role

Curren$y - Soundbombin'


Curren$y - Soundbombin'

One reason that I respect and love Curren$y's music so much is because the man is the closest thing to a lab rat in hip-hop today. Shante' (I wonder how many jokes he's gotten about his name?) is set to release 4 albums in the past 2 years. That's more albums than most rappers can even dream of. Muscle Car Chronicles probably isn't going to be a concept album, though it seems like there will be a lot of car talk, as per the usual with a Spitta release. 'Soundbombin' sounds like a bomb of sound. Funk-a-mafied guitars, angry drums and an exceptional bass undertone lace the intro from Muscle Car Chronicles. Check the rhyme, people...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lil' B - Base For Your Face (ft. Jean Grae & Phonte) (prod. 9th Wonder)


Lil' B - Base For Your Face (ft. Jean Grae & Phonte) (prod. 9th Wonder)

Dun dun dunnnnnnn. Isn't it ironic that one can gain mainstream success by rapping badly only to be accepted, then rapping halfway-decently. Lil' B is the poster child for upwardly mobile rappers and now the borderline backpackers have another reason to hate the man. I won't go on record saying I'm a fan, because sometimes being #based gets to be too much. Even so, I respect Lil' B's work ethic and can't throw salt on his game. Linking up with 2/3 of Little Brother and Jean Grae is something most rappers will never get a chance to do. AND it's actually a decent track? Oh boy... Even with Lil' B taking the headline, Phonte proved that he's still a heavyweight on the mic. Jean Grae disappointed me with her flow, even though she had some quotables. All in all, the #based movement is catching fire as we speak. Which side are you on???

SIDENOTE: On the anniversary of the Notorious BIG's death, what does this signal for hip-hop's direction? Does this mean the convergence between 'good' hip-hop and 'rap' is closing? I wonder how Biggie would look even at a song like this. My guess is he'd nod in acknowledgment, but would not be down with the #based movement. To each his own, I suppose.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dear Pac Div


DOWNLOAD: Pac Div - Mania!


Life is crazy. Life is unpredictable. Life is... controlled mania. Yeah... 'Mania'... Pac Div, your first album is tentatively called Grown Kid Syndrome. The title is self-explanatory. Grown kid: a person stuck between true adulthood and adolescence or childhood. You know, that 18-to-20-something age bracket. From college to jobs to friends to relationship to parents to religion, the things our demographic deal with are an organized mania orbiting our minds. As members of Generation Y, it's your right to speak your peace on the state of your personal mania.

Mania doesn't start out maniacal. Smooth pianos lace the first song, 'The Mirror', where you urge the listener to look to himself for answers. Amid midtempo snares, clearly stated gems galore:
"You don't get nothing if you don't work hard / You can't earn stripe if you never have scars / There's way more to life than money and nice cars / You are who you are, You could be a bum."
I haven't heard rappers come this straightforward in a while. Everything is veiled in 'swag' (#based and diet). The mania isn't straightforward. According to you, only SuperNegroes can sift through. No one can doubt your credentials though. You took the Lyn Collins sample (more recently Rob Base, and sadly Lil' Romeo) and turned it into your own exhibit of bravado. The mixtape reeks of it, yet your's isn't misplaced. Grown kids aren't supposed to take themselves too seriously, because if they did, they'd actually be grown. That is exacly how you portrayed yourself here. It made the music easy to listen to. You never failed to engage me as a listener and it gave the music a very homey feel compared to the 'out there' feeling that mania usually entails.

You guys don't seem to be affected by the mania around you, and continued to show how clear your view as grown kids is. There is kind of a dual consciousness that comes with being a resident in two different demographics. While one might dabble in the refined and stereotypically 'adult', one still revels in the indulgences of childhood. This mixtape did just that. You lauded the assets of the female gender, while revering their grace on 'Show You'. You examined the eerily close relationship between money and God, noting how sometimes we mistake one for the other on 'Saved'. And still, you managed to keep the charisma and wit that makes you grown kids in the first place. Tracks like 'Same Ol' Shit' and 'Chief Rocka Freestyle' (over the Lords of the Underground instrumental) come complete with our generation's smart-mouthed mentality, and enough punchlines to have you listening to this mania all week (and still
"Y'all stutter, all butter, call me Or-i-val / Redenbacher, bet I shock ya, like a morning call / record-settin nigga, started as an underdog / Nobody cares like you fightin on the undercard / you going 'Wood,' it's the lumber yard / we positioning for green like a summer job."
It's clear that you guys weren't just twiddling your thums since your last release, almost a year ago. 'Don't Mention It,' while a good work, felt rushed, and thus had a short shelf life in my iTunes. That you talked about your shortcomings on 'Nobody's Perfect' was endearing, coming after that previous effort. Your perpetual absence, outside of shows, made me wonder if you had hit the wall that a lot of 'blog rappers' (for lack of a better term; *throws up in mouth*) run into.

The lull between fame and stardom often suffocates rap acts. They either regress and evanesce because too much is expected from them without a veritable body of work like Jae Millz, or they explode with an industry-changing ebullience, a la Drake. Ending the Young Money motif, you guys seem poised to sift through the mania surrounding the music industry and create your own. On 'Out,' you envision the world that you, the Grown Kid, could create amidst the mania. It's the perfect ending to a mixtape that's a great prelude to what's hopefully a great debut album. You guys have penned the best mixtape of the year thus far. If there's mania around you now, the sky is the limit for how strong the Pacific Division can become...

Charlie and the Apple Factory

I've been a faithful Mac since 2006, but wasn't always as sold on Steve Jobs' baby as I once was. Apple products and their fanboys were annoying at one point, mostly because I was too busy playing Icy Tower and Text Twist to want to pay them any mind. Yet, I still was drawn in. Why and how do Steve Jobs and the Mac army make such addicting products? Obviously the marketing is big, but what else makes #teamiPhone so devoted. College Humor takes a stab at why in the video, brewing up a funny parody of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. What Charlie finds in Steve Jobs' factory might make anyone hold off on Mac purchases for a little while. Plus, it's never too late to get a good laugh out of Bill Gates' decade-long fight to get the edge back for Windows. Check out the video on whatever iProduct you have...

Friday, March 4, 2011

Pusha T - Cook it Down


Pusha T - Cook it Down

"Sophisticated street hip-hop." That's what the younger Thornton brother calls his unique style and content of rhyme. I can't say that I disagree. Pusha has a way with words that puts him in an echelon with some of the greats. He's not your typical coke rapper, dropping gems that apply to regular life, including those of honor, respect, hard work and knowing the place of one's relationships. If those not sophisticated, not much else is. Pusha T's revealed that 'Fear of God' is dropping on March 21st. 'Cook it Down' is a Boi-1da-produced his take on Drake and Bun B's 'Put it Down', and is a masterful effort. Check out a leak from what could be an epic mixtape...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Dear Readers


Soooo, this is actually the first time I've written a letter to you, the people who read Dear Whoever. I didn't do anything to celebrate the blog's 2-year anniversary, so I suppose it's high time I did something different. It's actually kind of difficult to word this without sounding corny, no matter how refreshing it is. Whatever the case, here goes nothing:

Thank you for continuing to rock with Dear Whoever. It's been over two years since I started this blog as, with an angry diatribe berating my alma mater for all of the random trivialities that irked me at the time. I wasn't sure why I decided to write about it (online, albeit), but I'm glad I did. Dear Whoever has given me a consistent outlet to broadcast all those random ruminations about and reactions to life that one might not get. I started this out with the intention of becoming an elevated sneaker and music blog, but it's elevated to more of a quasi-personal series of open letters and random writing dealing with music, politics, social issues and general buffoonery. That it's not 'your typical music/fashion/whatever blog' is one of the things that keeps me writing and looking for content to write about. As I've gone on in school, yes, it's been hard to write multiple times a day like I did in the beginning, but somehow I end up coming back, which I'm thankful for.

I suppose this letter was more mushy/retrospective than I intended. But one can't help but get all nostalgic when they look back and see a history and a progression of the writing they've done over two years. That you, the readers, have seen this journey through with me is a feat in and of itself. That said, please please please continue to support Dear Whoever. Comment the posts so we can discuss. 'Like' it on Facebook, tweet it, e-mail it, RSS feed it. Do whatever you want to spread the word. I tweeted today that I don't write Dear Whoever because people are supposed to like it. I write it because I like to write. That you guys read it anyway is a blessing. I really hope my writing has sparked something in those hungry dome pieces of yours, because it's done that for me. And I'm sure I've got more letters and other cool stuff cooking up in mine, with a lot of surprises to come. Thanks again for keeping your mailboxes open...

P.S.: If you're a sports fan, make sure you check out some basketball articles I've been penning for Argue All Day, a Marcus Troy sports blog...

Singing Telegram: Ol' Dirty Bastard - Brooklyn Zoo

If you are an Odd Future fan, then you need to pledge your allegiance and your swag to the man immortalized in the video above. In the midst of the golden era of hip-hop, rife with its complex rhyme schemes, witty metaphors and loopy wordplay, one movement stuck out as being able to reach music fans who didn't necessarily like hip-hop. That was the Wu-Tang Clan. While the group boasted a host of accomplished rhymesayers and producers, the true surprise was their Clown Prince, the one we affably call Big Baby Jesus. Ol' Dirty Bastard left the physical realm of our celestial body in November 2004 at the hands of a drug overdose. Before meeting his maker, he lived life within a foot of the edge, as evidenced by his music, which became an outlet for his larger-than-life and almost psychotic persona.

Today, ODB lives on in the shadows and minds of acts like Odd Future and Lil' B. Nonsensical, sociopathic and deranged lyrics pervaded his work, and do the same in theirs. If there was a way to direct lineage in hip-hop, I'm sure that the ODB would have more than a few seeds planted in today's hip-hop generation. Today's Singing Telegram is a commemoration of that. 'Brooklyn Zoo' (also the title of a good amount of my fantasy teams) is a cacophonous warning to those that deemed it safe to throw shade at Ol' Dirty and his Wu-Tang crew. Threatening his adversaries with Lysol, among other strange pieces of weaponry, ODB has his way with the beat and surprisingly makes more sense than he usually does. That the video is as gritty as the man himself is simply a sign and testament to the times. While we may never truly know the extent of Russel Tyrone Jones' affliction, we do know that it birthed some memorable hip-hop. RIP to ODB and let his raucous incantations rile you to a new level of hype...

Dear Hype Williams

As inspired by @itsThiz.. Make sure you check out The Interludes for great hip-hop articles.

Now that Lil Tunechi is out of Rikers, it was imperative that the NOLA native got his image back on the scene. The interwebs received his single '6 Foot, 7 Foot' featuring Cory Gunz (at least Wayne didn't jerk Cory out of another platinum feature) warmly, and it was only natural that there needed to be a video to accompany the madness that is Weezy's return. Of all directors, I suppose it made the most sense to hire you, Hype Williams for the job of visually resurrecting Wayne's career. Yet, upon further review of your latest directorial offerings, I'm drawing a few head-scratchers.

The video for 'All of the Lights' had none of the budget and induced more Pokemon-esque seizures than it made fans. While Nicki Minaj's 'Massive Attack' was a frisbee from jump, your visuals did little more than confuse the viewer. Sure there was 'Empire State of Mind', but anyone can juxtapose shots of Alicia Keys and Jigga performing with epic shots of NYCers in all their working-class glory. The megahit 'Forever' with Drake, Ye, Wayne and Eminem was little more than a remake of every club scene, and there's been little to write home about other than those. To tell you the truth, Hype, little if anything has hit as hard as your earliest videos.

Hype, your M.O. in directing has always been larger-than-life productions, combined with colorful scenery, and different cinematic viewpoints. '6 Foot, 7 Foot' is a far cry from the visually stunning cuts for tracks like 'Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See', 'Woo-Hah' or 'Down Low'. Hell, you didn't even scratch the fish-eyed lensed, trippy heels of Ma$e's 'Feel So Good' or the almost-macabre grittiness in DMX's 'Get At Me Dog'.

The video for '6 Foot, 7 Foot' is tame at best, for what is an adversely hectic track. Your references to the movie 'Inception' were well-intentioned, but sloppily undergone. Rather than go over-the-top with some of the punchlines, in your usual fashion, you used simple sight gags. Half of the punchlines didn't even get those half-assed visualizations. In fact, the only part of the video I thoroughly enjoyed was Cory's verse (on wax, too), with the Young Gun doing his best Agent Smith impression. To tell you the truth, you're not losing it, but you're losing a lot of traction in my book. The whole 'crew in front of the white screen looking cool' motif has been played out in the recession era of hip-hop. You've outworn your welcome to use the slow-mo camera, and there's little more that you can do with black and white filters. To sum it up, all of the cinematic that made your videos the vanguard of hip-hop are becoming more stale than 'Gettin Jiggy With It' in 2011. It's not enough any more. I've said it numerous times and will continue to: creative hip-hop videos are becoming a lost art, with you being a prime example. I guess even for you, the hype is exceeding the actual products... #youseewhatididthere

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Neighborhood Newsletter (3/2)

*DEAD x 1,000,000*

How To Spot A Liar

What WikiLeaks has Taught Us

Pope Benedict Absolves Jews in Jesus' Death

Oprah’s Network Sucks? The Ratings Are In & They Aren’t Too Good

Save the Economy: Ride a Bike

Survey Says: Employees Spend Half Their Days Doing Nothing

Report: House GOP budget cuts would destroy 700,000 jobs

White Fans Losing Interest in 'Black' NBA?

3 Ways to Reinvent America