Tagged: Little Brother

TLOP, and the Underrated Mastery of Mr. West

I’ve been thinking about the polarizing ‘Kanye Issue’ intensely since The Life of Pablo. This album is a great listen. It’s uplifting, it’s energetic, it’s interesting. His lyrics are completely scattershot – in one realm, he’s talking about bleached assholes. In another, he’s lamenting not knowing the names of his friend’s children and calling himself selfish. One thing he is, throughout, is completely selfaware – of his vulnerability & weakness as well as his monstrous ego: “I’m a 38-year old eight-year old.”

People may not like Kanye, but he’s honest. And sometimes that jolts the listener, which is exactly his intention. Musically, this album is curated beautifully by mood & phase. Spiritual, nasty, introspective, chaotic, and moody. It’s a aural journey, and it’s a really fun experience. It’s not entirely polished, but it’s a good manifestation of his life at this point, and it sounds genuine. And that is something that people always underestimate about Kanye – love him or hate him, he speaks from the heart. I also feel that the album is composed of four distinct chapters: the soulistic, gospel-inspired opening chapter encompassing tracks 1 – 4; the more rugged, grimey stretch from tracks 5 – 9; the haunting & introspective 10 – 14 (perhaps the most ‘beautiful’ portion of his work); the concluding, musical and ‘fun’ closure of the album from 15 – 18. Really interesting to hear the album in this context.
Also regarding Kanye‘s previous work. I’m a bit more vested than most because he literally came from the Chicago underground scene in the late 90’s, and his affiliations with Common (Sense) when he was at his dopest, and influences of the post-Panther/educated african-american second city sound was clear through his sampling, soul undertones and ability to intertwine ‘song’ with real hip hop. Some of his early work with Little Brother remains on my radar, simply because he was one of the first Chicago producers to gain universal acceptance underground. Through the Wire remains inspirational, and actually foreshadowed his career – always fighting through self-inflicted wounds, yet ultimately succeeding through the might of his own will.
The early albums were laden with pop hits, but these hits – think Gold iIgger, Jesus Walks – have a brooding, layered complexity that enables them to have staying power. They’re real music, they’re not just pop formulas. When 808s and Heartbreak was released, it was truly a revelation. Again, the sound was melodic, melancholy & visceral. Yet it still maintained commercial appeal. For a hip hop album, this is nearly unprecedented. To this day, it contains some of his best work. The maligned My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is probably my ‘favorite’ album of his, incorporating his early ‘true hip hop’ sound with the modern Kanye braggadocio and immaturity. His life was just beginning to spiral into the 000.1% of American royalty, and he chronicles every step with a huge middle finger, yet knowing his limitations enough to not try to do more than he can on the mic. He lets his guests shine, and if that’s not ego suppression. . .With Game of Thrones Yeezus, Kanye could have easily sleepwalked through the sessions and produced mediocre material, but he didn’t. Both are laden with unique sounds, interesting composition and deceptive insight.
Again, Kanye talks about pussy as much as he talks about anti-depressants, but they’re both equally relevant to his life, and you can’t fault him for that. Because that’s his Life. The Life of Kanye.
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Tigallo for Dolo

Thank you, Phonte of Little Brother, for leaving the rap game at your absolute lyrical apex with Tigaallo for Dolo, a Nas is Like. . . or  The Sixth Sense au revoir to the youthful hubris of being a raw lyricist. After all, Phonte is now one half of the grammy-nominated duo The Foreign Exchange (along with Nicholay), concentrating mostly on the downtempo, soul-heavy sound.

Regardless, check out this track (lyrics below), and enjoy the sound of mature, ‘big boy’ lyricism. . .

Little Brother: “Tigallo for Dolo”
From the album: Leftback (2010)
Produced by Khrysis

“By myself
H.O.J., even when I’m by myself
Little Brother, even when I’m by myself
Foreign Exchange, even when I’m by myself
Zo! & Tigallo, even when I’m by myself
Justus League, even when I’m by myself
Phontigallo for dolo
Smile for the camera, nigga, pose for the photo
Pause for the promo ’cause failure’s a no-no
Back on my fly shit
So green with envy, kiss me, I’m Irish
Niggas be asking me “Who we got to ride with?”
They saying “Come back Tay, we been craving”
We need LB to come and save the rap game
But, truthfully, I don’t think the shit needs saving
I think we got wives and sons that need raising
New dreams to fill and for that, we need patience
Twenty-one years old, I used to slang verses
But ten years later, I am not the same person
Whole new perspective, not the same purpose
And sometimes I have to question if I even want it
Not mad at the game ’cause it is what it is
And not mad at the radio ’cause I don’t know what’s on it
Be in my own universes when I be doing verses
Burn ‘em down like the Klan used to do to churces
Back in the day in my town, nigga
Don’t come around if you a clown nigga, then go and do the circus
First, do the knowledge, then do the purchase
Understand why, against me, a coup is worthless
Battle Tay That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard
Since ex-hoes claiming that they’re born-again virgins
Feeling like a born-again version
Of myself, thought I left the shit I used to listen to
‘Til one day, I was playing my old shit
Like “Who the fuck is this? I kind of miss this dude.”
It’s the same old Tigga that slowed your whole movement
And y’all dudes just all show and no proving
But honestly, I like what them young boys is doing
But my niggas like “Tay, they close, but no Cuban”
Like I was the chosen one for flowing
I’m done, the rap game’s no country for old men
I’ll always spit whenever the spirit hits me
But fuck if I’m a be doing this shit when I’m sixty
And that’s no disrespect to KRS
I’m just trying to make my art and do what’s smart
I’m saying, rapping Tay, four-and-half-mic honoree
Or singing Tay, first-time Grammy nominee
Nigga, you do the math, nigga, you add it up
That’s on my mind when I press record
A lot of niggas probably mad at me
But I would rather be a lonley wolf than a sheep that’s bored
So fuck it, be by myself
Big Pooh, even when I’m by myself
Big Dho, even when I’m by myself
Nicolay, even when I’m by myself
My nigga Zo!, even when I’m by myself
Median, even when I’m by myself
Yazarah, even when I’m by myself
DJ Flash, even when I’m myself”

Ev’s Top Ten Albums of the Decade (serious)

Ev’s Top Albums of the Decade

*In the era of hip hop degradation, decline and distress, these albums still shined through. In fact, I realize now as the decade closes that these are indeed the most influential records of my lifetime. Though it took an excessive amount of filtering, research and kickdowns, I am very fortunate to have encountered & enjoyed the following EP’s (with a special thanks to TFleezy and MoBeezy for further opening my personal, audio windows).

Without further adieu:

51bsUgtidAL._SS400_.jpgOutkast – Stankonia

51-YKIbZUqL._SS500_.jpgLittle Brother – The Listening

Masters of the UniverseBinary Star – Masters of the Universe
51FcsXcjtML._SS500_.jpgMos Def – The Ecstatic

51hF2s7uw8L._SS400_.jpgBlueprint – 1988

https://i0.wp.com/images2.wikia.nocookie.net/lyricwiki/images/thumb/b/bc/Danger_Mouse_-_The_Grey_Album.png/180px-Danger_Mouse_-_The_Grey_Album.pngJay-Z & DangerMouse – The Grey Album

https://i0.wp.com/www.spacehorn.com/jeepster/music/img/DJShadow_B000067AT9.jpgDJ Shadow – Private Press

51yJO3%2BmT1L._SS500_.jpgJayLib (Madlib & JayDilla) – Champion Sound

https://i1.wp.com/images.collectorz.com/music/musichtml/images/161f.jpgD’Angelo – Voodoo

http://gimmerapidlinks.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/can0-ven.jpgCannibal Ox – The Cold Vein

https://i0.wp.com/4.bp.blogspot.com/_cw9-nDpS4O8/SHPshlTwAKI/AAAAAAAAABM/08JEdjUd1WM/s320/aesop_rock_labor_days.jpgAesop Rock – Labor Days

https://i1.wp.com/www.amiright.com/album-covers/images/album-JLive-All-of-the-Above.jpgJ-Live – All of the Above

Honorable Mention(s): 9th Wonder & Nas – God’s Stepson; Foreign Exchange – Connected; Damien Marley – Welcome to Jamrock; Common – Like Water For Chocolate; MadVillain – Madvillainy; Matisyahu – Live at Stubbs; Del – Deltron 3030; Murs & 9th Wonder – Murs 3:16 the Ninth Edition; Jay Dilla – Donuts; Atmosphere – God Loves Ugly; MF Doom – Special Herbs 1 & 2; RJD2 – Deadringer; Little Brother – The Minstrel Show; Ghostface – Supreme Clientele; The Coup – Party Music; Mr. Lif – I, Phantom ; Redman & Method Man – Blackout 2

Hip Hop Renaissance

A little break from sports to remind people what real hip hop really is. . .and in light of these bodaciously bogus ‘Songs of the Decade‘ lists – which should be renamed ‘commercial tracks of the decade’ – here is the Track Listing for my Hip Hop Renaissance compilation:
Waitin’ On You – Kenn Star
Trouble Man – Juggaknots
Clear Blue Skies – Juggaknots
Surving the Times – Nas
Hope –
Pete Philly & Perquisite f/ Talib Kweli
The Web – The Roots
We Can’t hear You – The Herd
Brooklyn In My Mind – 9th Wonder f/ Mos Def, Jean Grae, Memphis Bleek
The Healer – Erykah Badu f/ Pharoahe Monch
Brand New – MF Grimm f/ Monsta Island Czars
‘Maica Living – Large Professor f/ Killa Sha & Guardian Leep
Can’t Let Her – Little Brother
Madness In a Cup – Mr. Lif
Dear Zev (Never Give Up) – Scienz of Life
Smile – Juggaknotz f/ Castro
Still Love – Soulstice
Realistically the compilation spans from 1997 – 2009, but since real hip hop (nee, Underground) is never understood nor fairly represented, take a moment to peep said tracks – or email me for a compilation, I’ll send – and you’ll figure out what real eMCees and producers are doing these days.