(15) Classic Sounds

Like…

Do you even remember what you were doing in 1991?? I was 8 going on 9. And whatever I was doing, I was certainly doing a variation of the wop and reciting parts of “Hip-Hop Junkies” that I did not understand. I didn’t even know that this was the same group that made the other song that I liked, “Funky For You” a year before that. I just knew that I was now a fan of Nice & Smooth. Welcome to the year that I became an active music listener.

I remember my boy Eric, who was one of my best friends in High School always talking about this album. I didn’t fully respect it until he went out and re-bought it on CD and made me listen to it when I was in summer school my Junior year. I saw what he meant. When you hear jaded older hip-hop heads going on about what rap used to be, this is what they’re talking about. It’s that combination of real and street relevant and relative, while care-free and light hearted…Not taking itself too seriously to have fun and party and be rhythmic. Nice & Smooth have always represented balance, down to their monikers – which they embody and live up to the tee!

Nowhere is this more evident than on this album, which is hands down their most memorable and most successful. Ain’t A Damn Thing Changed is the LP that made these guys a top-tier rap act in the early to mid 90’s. Especially when you consider that right at the height of this album’s buzz and dominance, the group appeared on the perfectly timed and instantly classic “DWYCK” with Gangstarr (that song will never get old). Spawning the most singles, this album really played up the duo’s individual strengths. The selection of releases also showed their versatility, with some tracks being whole r&bish ditties, to others being lyrical rap rides and some evening out as rap/harmonized hybrids.

Speaking of “Harmonize”, the album starts off with a hyped up track of the same name with the duo doing just that. One of their standards and part of their calling card, they don’t really sing in 2 part harmony as much as they just synch their very different voices to deliver rap chants ala The Cold Crush Brothers or T.J. Swan from the Biz Markie era. Granted, Smooth B can hold a note and he exhibits this plentifully throughout the album with bridges and breaks in rhyme scheme, but crooners these 2 are not. And I don’t think they were trying to be or even cared. It more or less seems to be truly the natural way that the group chose to express another facet of their creative process. The fact that this happens over some of the most irresistibly catchy and most clever uses of samples from popular breakbeats and funk songs into midtempo rap grooves only makes it feel more free-spirited and authentic.

“Cake & Eat It Too” is a prime example of this. The single that loosely tells a story of an unsatisfied girl is a full-out song in the conventional sense of the word. It’s so early 90’s that it’s not even New Jack Swing. It’s just Smooth B singing off-key while Greg Nice delivers the rap verses over one of the few original beats on the album, but what comes off more like a track you’d hear on a demo. It’s almost not full enough to sound done because it’s not the cleanest vocalizing and the beat consists of a 3 note piano bass melody. Yet it thrives in its simplicity.  It’s one of those songs that was so memorable because it was sooo different from what was going on at the time. Rap was going through a sort of puberty at the time…Discovering that it had a multitude of avenues that it could choose. It was still rolling off of it’s afrocentric phase, reveling in it’s house and jazz experimentation that contrasted mellow, more heady rhymes coupled with more subdued deliveries against the booming uptempo dance scene littered with big pants, big hair and polka dots. And the lure of gangster rap was fresh on the rise, about to make everyone drop a hardcore album in the following 3 years…Including this group. But for this exact period when this song was a hit, it was perfect. A summer song that broke the rules by being more of a sing-songy sap fest, yet reflected the overall tone in hip-hop. The 2 guys were so confident in what they were doing that you had to respect it. Plus, by the time they dropped this, they had already given you more than enough hits to not have their credibility as rappers in question.

If Balance was the group’s main theme, then songs like “How To Flow” showcased this impeccably and made it clear as to why they could get away with joints like “Cake & Eat It Too”. One of the more hardcore tracks on the album, and yet another great single (my second favorite track off the album from back in the day), it actually starts out with a melodious riff by the 2 going back and forth in an old school cadence. Immediately after that, Greg Nice – who usually sets all the songs off, rips into the bass guitar lead track as it thumps with lines like “Massive meltdown, bring the red tape/bag up victims who caught the vapes”.

The real bread and butter here is on their more straightforward rap tracks tho. Songs like “One, Two And One More Makes Three”. As well as the requisite posse cut (which was mandatory back then), “Down The Line” where the first bond with Gangstarr was made as Premo reinterpreted the same “Night In Tunisia” sample that he used on Gangstarr’s debut single “I Manifest”, and Guru lent a verse. Nothing is more Killer than on “Pump It Up” where the 2 show just why they each were a force to be reckoned with then. On both solo verses, both rappers ride the same beat that would go on to become famous as Biggie‘s “One More Chance Remix”. Yet this beat is delivered in fashion with that of the whole album, as it breaks down on the chorus to a lighter, chimey sample, only to go back into the pounding and scratching. Both bring their A game, and their individuality attacks in a way that reinforces their solidarity as a duo. It’s like seeing something split apart to strike from 2 different angles just to join back together and enjoy the victory. Listen as Smooth B drops lines like “my brain contains memory info…/Protons, Neutrons, cells and membranes/molecules are the tools that I in-frame/so you can get a vision – a visual picture/1,2,3, a consecutive mixture/Solids, liquids, gas creates matter/you bite my rhymes, well I’m flattered………………..bite-able cause even the best did/but you can’t check me, cause this ain’t Chess kid!/”.

This beat, this cohesion and distinction at the same time, are explicitly what the group is made of. The juxtaposition of hard parts next to soft sample breaks in the beats was the backdrop for you to take in the matching of Greg Nice’s high energy, simplistic, call-and-response flow with Smooth B’s paced, soft-spoken encyclopedia-laden (sometimes made-up) wordy flow. Despite these conflicting energies, they work cooperatively and never change the vibe or tempo of the songs themselves. Both rappers use their differences to marry whatever beat their on top of and not collide with one another, but simply compliment. The party part of party songs never mellows out just because a guy named Smooth B rhymes after a guy named Greg Nice who practically just finished yelling his verse.

And the party songs are there. While every song is pretty much a party song because Nice & Smooth are from that class of rappers that were out to entertain primarily, some are more deliberate in their mission. Those songs, like “Medley; Step By Step”,  “Sex, Sex, Sex” and their claim to fame, “Hip-Hop Junkies” are littered at different points of the album, but unless you’re doing a critical review of the album like Iam here, you probably won’t notice the difference, because like I said, every song has a catchy vibe to it that can rock in some kind of party.

Even on the melancholy and topical “Sometimes I Rhyme Slow”. It’s just the breed of rapper these guys are. They understood that even a song with semi-heavy subject matter shouldn’t kill the jam. Over a sped up sample of folk star Tracy Chapman‘s “Fast Car”, the group plays off of the title and makes it a poetic one of their own, having nothing to do with the actual conversation in the verses. This song is however, their second most popular single. Another song that became memorable because once again, it was so different from everything else out there. There were alot of different styles of music being sampled in Hip-Hop at the time, but nothing resulting in something so unapologetically as non-hip-hop as this. And it worked. It was also a nice deviation in the album sequence from the funk and thump. 

And that’s the group in a nutshell. This album was the 2 Bronx Golden Era rap legends at their best; Not under or over doing it. They were truly just being themselves and you could hear them having fun. Even the bragging seemed realistic and from a thought out point of view. It was less about demeaning others or making outlandish claims. It also helps that the 2 have some of the most distinctive voices in Hip-Hop history. Greg Nice may well be one of the best performance style rappers. Smooth B was one of the best who attempted the I’m-gonna-use-big-words style. Besides the unnecessary “Billy Gene” skit and the wack and unfocused “Paranoia”, every track on here is great and serves it’s purpose.

Having that said, my favorite songs are “Pump It Up”, “How To Flow”, “Down The Line” and of course, “Hip-Hop Junkies”. 

This album gets 12 Candles out of a possible

4812 or 16.

4(Classic Just because where it stands in Hip-Hop, whether it be the time of it’s release, it’s influence, or the popularity of it’s singles overall)

8(Classic because it was solid for it’s time, but may be a little dated or less than amazing by today’s standards)

12(Classic as a complete release and probably celebrated widely on the surface, but possibly lacking one key element – be it one song that doesn’t fit, a wack guest appearance, lyrics, lack of depth or beats)

16(Classic all around)

It’s more like a 10, but you know…

New Brandon Carter Single – “BLOOD MONEY”

Today my boy Brandon Carter is dropping the first single off of his new politically charged album They’re Trying To Kill You. It’s a change of pace for Carter, who’s tackling a before unseen side of his artistic output.

Click the pic below to listen to and download the song.

Now usually this kind of thing is reserved for lyrics from my own catalogue in my Hot 16…Or More…Segment, but Brandon wants to make this project as informative and inclusive as possible, so he’s sharing the lyrics to the songs on the album in as many ways as possible. Read along here;

“Blood Money”

Artist: Brandon Carter

Producer: Brandon Carter

Album: They’re Trying To Kill You

Verse #1

Corporations want to get paid and they dont care who bleeds

Thats why my sneakers are made by children over seas

And their hourly wage is not enough to eat,

but companies get away because no one oversees.

man It’s about the G’s, better get em

Because I’ve seen the poor get ignored by the system.

But in reality I see the poor are the Victims

of this cannibal animal called capitalism.

Wheres the lack of division between the haves and the have-nots?

Chance to advance but they plan so you can not.

Get the jail route if you caught  with that crack rock

get a bail out…. If your crimes are from bad stocks.

Cant stop trying to find answers

how can they deny coverage when they find cancer.

Tax breaks for the rich while the poor trying to by Pampers.

You cant prepare for the life after with your Blood Money.

Choirs

Wall Street ruins lives for that Blood Money

In Iraq shoulders dying for that Blood Money

Politicians committing crimes for that Blood Money

Fox News telling lies for that Blood Money

We ignoring human rights for that Blood Money

The environment sacrificed for that Blood Money

We all going to pay the price for that Blood Money

Thats what they want from me

Verse #2

The Planet gets warmer cuz you filling up your Humvee

the cash from countries were kids going hungry.

Drug war in Mexico is getting kind of ugly

and we support it every time we buy a bag and puff trees.

You must see the terrorist that want to bomb you

get there money off the drugs you put in your nostrils.

And I support that Julian Assange dude

he showed us who we killing when we bring them bombs through!

Do what I’ve got to, I’m just tryna survive shopping that gross product from off of I-95

Because thats how we was brought up, how we was taught to survive

knowing we going to get caught up and locked up for our crimes

i’m from where the greed breed hopelessness

Politicians on the TV they dont think we notice it.

Give me a week of them Wall Street bounces

I’ll take it to the streets and feed homeless kids off of this BLOOD MONEY

Repeat Chorus

This Is ART; The 3-D Sidewalk masterpieces of Edgar Mueller

You may of heard of dude, but what he does with colors and depth-perception is phenomenal!!

I just wanted to share some of these images so you can see for yourself.

I swear I want him to do the hallways in my place! How Cool is this?? And how cool are the towns that allow him to do this on random streets overseas??

Talk about thinking outside of the box.

This just in…Black Women are the least attractive??!

Funny.

After writing a whole drawn out blog post delving into the possibility of Stacey Dash and Kim Kardashian being the most beautiful women in the limelight in modern history, and then exploring the possible sociological and scientific reasons why this may be, here comes the next big stir on the internet to rile Black women up.

There’s now irony in the fact that I pointed out how Dash and Kardashian’s racial ambiguity play a huge part in their appeal and attractiveness across the board. They have safe looks. Looks that are not extreme by most measures, especially in western civilization. Hence there is no threat and a higher level of desire for them from multiple races due to a symmetrical blend of exotic and tame.

Now this article posted and then later removed on a blog connected to PsychologyToday magazine (one of my favorite publications), took a similar route to attempt to answer the question,

Why Are Black Women Rated Less Physically Attractive Than
Other Women, But Black Men Are Rated Better Looking Than
Other Men?
Why black women, but not black men?

Someone was resourceful enough to copy and paste the article before it got removed due to heavy traffic and outstanding response. Read it here; http://creativeseven.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/satoshi-kanazawa-article.pdf

Using a data assessment scale referred to as “Add Health”, the author made sharp conclusions in statistical and arithmetic language to define the deficiency in attractiveness surrounding women of African descent.

Compiling quantitative information from sources or populations not mentioned, the author, Satoshi Kanazawa notes that Black women are rated “Average” each time, while Black males are generally rated higher. He states that data shows that Black people as a whole tend to view themselves as more attractive to themselves than people of every other race. So then it comes off as a kind of misguided pride. I would love to refute that, but I’ve seen waaaay too many chics who need to be humbled in their opinions of self. Especially in New York. Yet we all know that this may be due to other sociological factors.

Satoshi is almost at a loss to find reason for such results, citing the possibility that African ancestry being the oldest in humanity may have contributed to a sort of genome redefinition and bolstering of testosterone, which creates more masculine features.

The article of course prompted Black folk all over the web to strike back in typical sensitive fashion a la the Don Imus and Slim Thug controversies of late. Twitter and Facebook went abuzz, while Black blog sites like The Root attacked the integrity of the study. Folks have done background checks and Googled the author, stating that he has made a living off of writing about racially controversial topics, and suggesting Asian superiority.

We all know that something so subjective cannot be solely defined by numbers. We all know how Amazing and Beautiful Black women are. In my opinion, they are the best thing on this planet!!! But when you turn to the People and Vanity Fair magazines , how come the only Black women you see are the biracial or racially ambiguous ones? The Halles, Paula Pattons, Alicia Keys‘?? Maybe the token African Models in ads or catwalk stills, but not the Viola Davis‘, the Serenas or the V. Bozemans?

Yes, Black people know how wonderful and dynamic the beauty of Black women is, but why is it that the rest of the world doesn’t seem to?



		
	

Stacey Dash & Kim Kardashian might just be the Most Beautiful Women Alive!!

Over-hyped. Overrated. Perhaps. Say what you say, but you’ve got your work cut out for you to come up with choices for more beautiful candidates. All your Halle Berrys, Beyonces and Angelina Jolies  with their facial lines and make-up dependent looks aren’t gonna even up to these 2. I believe in this so much so that I’ve gone all out and posted the NSFW photos as well, cause beauty is skin deep. I guess I should say that they aren’t even my 2 favorite celebs, but just as I can discern best from favorite in music, I can do the same with women. So while 2Pac is my favorite rapper, I can still recognize someone like Eminem or Jay-Z as the best! And yes, you may argue that this is highly subjective, but the stats don’t lie. And with that in mind, it makes sense that I would do a study of the Eminem & Jay-Z of bad chics!

How tired of hearing these 2 names out of men’s mouths are you? It’s been damn near a decade for one, and 2 decades for the other. It’s down right supersaturation. Yet there must be some truth in repetition. Kim K is not just famous for being gorgeous because she is on T.V., No Kim is on T.V. because she is famous for being gorgeous!! Stacey Dash isn’t just on the cover of magazines every season because she needs the work, Stacey is on the covers because she makes those magazines SELL every season!

On one hand, we’re enamored with how ageless and stunningly beautiful the almost 50-year-old Dash is. We’ve grown up with her from the Generation X era, watched her immortalize herself as a teenager in the cult classic film Clueless when she was approaching 30, and then marveled at how she could reprise that role today if she wanted to. And on the other hand, we allow ourselves to be totally entranced in the youthful lure of Kardashian’s proportions. The life and ripeness present in her is the main feature of her attractiveness. 

The commonality here, however, is the fact that the major reason why you’ve heard these names time and time again is a reason that most men cannot put their fingers on or consciously take note of. Despite the obvious curvaceous nature of their frames and abundant lady parts, the thread here is in the mathematics of their faces. You’ll be hard pressed to find women in the limelight with better symmetry. These 2 embody the theoretical idea that we tend to gravitate to more Asiatic features married with our localized concepts of beauty. Both scream racial ambiguity although one is decidedly Black and one is decidedly White, yet something is to be said about their mixed ethnic backgrounds. No doubt, Kim K’s Armenian heritage plays a large part in her look, and Stacey’s Mestizo/Azteca bloodline beams through hers, clear green eyes and all…

Eyes, ears and overall shape of face are essential elements in their universal appeal. Nothing is extreme. It’s just the right balance of all of the best kinds of things. Full lips that aren’t overwhelmingly thick and pronounced, but not thin and forgettable. Noses that aren’t definitively Anglo-Saxon or African in nature, just somewhere in the middle. Eyes that are just slanted enough to give off that seductive gaze with long super feminine eyelashes. Oval shaped faces with both solid and soft grooves that are rounded in the right places, and bouncy, natural hair that is very alive. They have a ready-to-wear quality that I’m sure is great to wake up next to. That is rare. Having great sandy skin tones and pretty pupils doesn’t hurt either. Like I said, it’s in the face.

Not to say that being smoking hot with a bangin’ ass body that has retained its buoyancy throughout the 20’s isn’t a selling point as well…But these ladies are so bad, why would they ever have to sell anything? Gravity has stayed on their side. Especially Dash, who’s had 2 children. Both women’s ass to chest ratios are even, although Kim definitely has more of everything. But where Stacey has less, they are still even in proportion and distribution. So theoretically, if Stacey is a C cup, she still has as much booty as she does breasts and this is equal to what Kim has if she is something more like a double D. The curse of having one or the other doesn’t apply to these chics.

The ass is super phenomenal on Kim. Mostly because White girls don’t typically have full, plump backsides that protrude into bubble shaped spheres. She Does. Anyone who’s seen all of these pictures or her sex tape with Ray J knows firsthand how true this is. It’s solid, but soft. Most ladies of the Caucasian persuasion with fat butts just have big, wide ones. Armenia prevails again when it comes to the supple side of Kim K’s genetic make-up. This is surely not her Dutch-Scottish side. But don’t sleep on Stacey either. She’s slim, but not skinny. She’s all the way lean and it seems like any fat was deliberately saved just for the TnA.

What may also be the other biggest part of these 2 holding the crown, is that they have this innate sex appeal that permeates through everything they do. This is also largely because they play it up almost every chance they get. In almost every picture they take, they look like they’re eye-fucking you. They lean, bend, drape over and purse lips or open their mouths just enough to entice. For all of Stacey Dash’s efforts to be taken seriously as a real HollyWood actress, she’s definitely more famous for her looks, and as of recent, for being arm candy and music video & small screen eye candy. And we all roll our eyes at every exclamation by the Kardashian clan that Kim wants to be known for more than just her behind. Yet, since both have unapologetically posed nude for Playboy, we’ve gotten to know them in ways that we dreamed of and much to their chagrin, have irreversibly locked them in our heads. Stacey’s Playboy photos were blatantly sexual. It went beyond just posing nude. All of her pictures looked like invitations to bone her. They came off as artistic however, because she looked like she genuinely enjoyed it. There’s a smile on her even when she wasn’t smiling. The photos in the sunlight just accentuated her natural radiance and made her glisten. She even took one picture in the doggystyle position. Once again, it’s all in the face. If Stacey had a sluttier look as opposed to just being pretty, those shots would have come off in a dirtier way. They don’t really seem raunchy at all now do they??

Kim’s spread was deliberately more tame and less revealing, but that’s only because we got to see her…uhhmm…spread in her sextape where she showed everything and then some. These chics have magic areolae!

Make no mistake. The luster is lost on knowing these 2 women from the spotlight. They’re old news and used goods in a way. It’s jarring to think you’d have to follow behind questionable guys like Christopher Williams or whorish man-childs like Ray J, and personally, I don’t want anything that Jaime Foxx has touched. Stacey is also super-notorious for her preference of White men over Black. They also don’t strike me as being awfully worldly or intelligent. Not to say that they’re not smart. But intelligent and witty is a step above smart or clever. I may give Stacey alot more leeway on that point, but I also have a bigger affinity for her. Yet, all this really is is a perverted analysis of 2 women who I don’t know and may never even meet. But I do believe I’m right in my overall point. And if you disagree, who are your 2 nominees??

For now,

Stacey Dash & Kim Kardashian,

You,

Are My Perfect Crush!

Wait, so now COMMON is a cop-killer & a “Gangsta Rapper”??!

Fuckin insanity! As a redirect for their inherent racist processing, the conservatives have struck again, this time pulling out psuedo-ethical bazookas on the most non-aggressive, veggie-eating M.C. to ever become a household name. Clearly the name Common is not common at all in the cornfed households of Tea Party America.

The former Crocheted-pants wearer became the target of political crossfire when an invite was extended to him by First Lady Michelle Obama to join for an evening of Poetry at the White House. This was immediately met with opposition from republican pundits and contributing bloggers on newsfeeds.

The total removal from the rest of the metropolitan and pop-culture aware world is evident from jump as made painfully obvious from titles of articles addressing Common as a “gangsta rapper”. http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/8043601/first_lady_michelle_obama_invites_common.html?cat=9 Not only was it clear that these folks were not privy to the fact that Common is damn near the poster child for socially conscious rap, but it also seems that they have been living under a rock to not recognize him as a familiar face on the big screen in several Blockbuster films. It was a total isolation from anything relatively urban.

The way the writers have manipulated the angles to present their view is ugly. It’s also scary when you think of the reality that this is really all it takes to incite other like-minded folk who are not in the know and haven’t the slightest idea who this rap artist is and can be swayed to categorize him as a threat. It’s easy to stir up shit amongst the uninformed whose minds are already halfway made-up.

The main argument stemming from the opposing factions centers around an excerpt from Common’s appearance on the early 2000’s original HBO program Def Poetry Jam. In the vivid spoken word piece about police brutality and institutional racial profiling, Common recites poetic language that is retaliatory in nature, but alludes to striking back at the president and crooked cops with equal violent measures. His words were extracted and highlighted in a literal context to illustrate the writer’s sensationalized claims that Common is an advocate of cop-killing and presidential assassination. They go as far as to delve into how the president can lose backing from police forces due to this appearance. Read a full example of this argument here http://dailycaller.com/2011/05/10/liberals-support-conservatives-attack-rappers-white-house-invite/

Of course to us who have grown up in these melting pots under the wave of Hip-Hop influence and witnessed the maturation of the artist formerly known as Common Sense from animated B-Boy backpacker to sensitive Pro-Black voice for struggle and universal peace, this is ass backwards on all accounts. But you can see how, as one who has never heard of him, receiving this description of him as a first impression and reading the transcription of these lyrics (especially when misled to believe these are lyrics from his songs as a rapper instead of from a poetry piece intended to be incendiary and representative of a frustrated and oppressed group), how this can be severely alarming and damaging.

The White House defended their invite, citing that Common’s greater efforts have trumped any of his more questionable ones (Which was made clear that the President doesn’t condone). Yet from the comments on those articles that have slandered the rapper – who still showed up and thanked the First couple for backing their decision, it is easy to see how effective the word choice of the conservative writers was. It’s this mob mentality that gives people like Bill O’ Reilly movement and helps lump rappers all into one monolith that would see Will.I.Am in the same box as a 50 Cent. It’s all just nigger music to them and it has no business in the influential realms outside of niggerdom. Even tho it has proven to be the most influential force of unison in the freeworld today.

The day that Common is threat to society and national security, then the world truly is going to end on May 21st

R.I.P. Bob Marley

30 Years ago on this day, the world saw the passing of the man who is quite arguably the Greatest artist to ever live and make music. All through high school, I believed this to be true. And tho many of you may immortalize him for other cliche reasons, I just want to commemorate this day of epic loss by sharing one of my favorite songs by Mr. Robert Nesta Marley…