My “Cousin” Goes viral with Whitney Houston tribute, My “Sis” murders Frank Ocean & my “Brother” drops the best music video of the month!!

Ok. So my cuz, the Famous Sasha Allen took the net yesterday morning in an uncharacteristic move with a little push from her boo, and belted out her rendition of “I Will Always Love You” in tribute to the woman whose rendition etched the song in American music history for all time. Her vocal resemblance to the late, great Whitney Houston stirred up such a big chord (pun intended) that it brought out both some doubters who cried lip-syncing and a swarm of supporters who know the broadway star and La Guardia alum very well. All I will say is if you don’t know, Google her! I see you Cuzo!!

Which brings me to my lil “Sis” Ms. La’Rayne. In this intimately powerful clip, she takes a minute from a session with the boy Brandon Carter, who she’s been working on her debut with, to sing a cover of Frank Ocean‘s “Thinking About You”. Thanks to her putting her own twist on it, and Brandon’s acoustic musical strip-down, this song gives the original a run for it’s money.

Last but not least, the guy I’ve been saying for years is my favorite unsigned rapper that’s one of my aces finally releases a project!!! This is the second video from Sol-Leks‘ Train Ride mixtape and it’s the highest quality music video of this year yet coming from the underground set.Wash Heights is very proud right about now…

Hot 16…Or More…”BEYOND THE SKY”

‘Yo, you’re a deep guy’ Are the words that my homie Sol-Leks told me after hearing the first incarnation of this song in his fabled Wet Paint studios. I heard this beat that he made from a sample of Sam Cooke‘s A Change Gon’ Come” a year before and pretty much ignored it until it stayed in my head after hearing it a bunch of other times visiting the lab. It eventually ended up on my computer and I decided to record something over it. I started to play with the words in the sample about elevation and what’s beyond our human visibility. Then I wanted to get metaphysical. The verses were broken down from pondering on space missions and what we really know about what astronauts actually do, to observations on what people do for religion while searching for God and what they believe to be a heaven above the clouds, and finallY, to ghosts based on two recent deaths of one of Sol-Lek’s boys and my homie J.D.‘s boy who lost his daughter.

I put that version on Myspace in 2007 and wasn’t pleased with it. My voice wasn’t right and the verses were wordy and made the heavy subject matter sound even more off-putting by sounding more complex and nerdy than it needed to be. I left it alone until I was about to put out the deluxe version of my Crazy 8’s mixtape. I realized that I didn’t have any guest features and wondered if I wanted to make that a conscious choice in the spirit of the first 8. But I knew I couldn’t attack this song without throwing my boy Moser on it. Mos is a really deep dude and all of our conversations around that time were about seeking truth and conspiracy theories. Since I had upgraded my approach to the song now, I was headed in a more succinct direction and I knew he’d hit a point that I wouldn’t. Plus, with Sol-Leks on the beat and me and Mos on the verses, it was a certified representation of my crew, The Balance – so their presence could be felt on the project.

Mos came up with 2 verses and wound up recording both, but I kept this one because I split my long verse into 2. It was one of my earliest recordings with my GemStars family. He chose to discuss the threat of an impending bill that would allow government intrusion upon what they deem as ‘homegrown terrorism and violent radicalization’ and question the mysticism of the alien/God idea and the Mayan’s predictions of the world’s end. I took this opportunity to question the roots of American racism, the transatlantic slave trade and it’s feasibility and the faulty cause that’s attributed to the AIDS epidemic. In the second verse I go deeper about my wariness over religion, the environment and ancient history. Deep shit. People love it. Even better when I perform it and start off with the actual Sam Cooke song.

Now for the breakdown…

Beyond The Sky

“Still, get on that other shit,

cause they love it when I spit that government,

– I heard the Ku Klux was just set up to keep us fucking with each other over race!

So that sheet over the face…

Ain’t the ONLY cover-up,

it gets,

deeper than a mutha – and can anyone show me a picture of a slaveship??!

Even the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria get depicted in paintings!

While all we ever see is that same shit,

look like a diorama – tied up hands and feet – I wonder how I they lived,

on that transatlantic – hundreds of days spent,

how many slaves DIED up on the way compared to how many made it??!

And nowadays they give us this AIDS bit,

claiming African plainsmen fucking chimps and eating baboon brains man…

I’m all for evolution,

but how we went from being apes, to human beings

-wait!

Who eating apes??!  It’s confusing.

While we feuding over the word nigga – please!!

All the major cities finna drift to sea,

God if you listening…

Intervene…

(‘beyond the sky’)

I mean, lift us please…

(‘beyond the sky’)

Or at least…Send a beam”

(‘beyond the sky’)

 

VERSE 3

 

“It’s safe to say I’m a sinner,

cause your favorite religions,

got too much pagan shit in them,

for me to stay and it’s twisted…

Man made up them sentences

And ain’t it ridiculous homie?

When astrology’s the only thing making sense and it’s all based on the stars….

Exactly what I want to be,

but just the thing that scares me the most when the sky is sitting in front of me!

And since the gold is no longer backing the money – think the Federal Reserve got nerve,

look at your currency (word!)

Word to Number 5,

they just changed the number 5 on the fuckin’ $5 for like the hundredth time

-what’s the signs?!

When they start advertising shit on the moon?

And “going green” is now the cool thing to do…

After all the cancerous plastics and aerosols,

nuclear Arab wars,

smaller countries packing – we attack them,

what we asking for?

I don’t like those hieroglyphics,

undecided if I’m thinking ancient Egyptians was paying alien visits

-Since it’s the writing on the wall,

I been wrong before,

but I’m sure if I even believe in dinosaurs!

Sure it’s a great science of modern lies,

Greek shit on them dollar signs,

on my R. Kelly – I’m really believing I can fly…”

 

Hope you learned something…

 

To hear or download this song, click on the pic of the cover below

Hot 16…Or More…”LIKE ME”

Ahhh 2006. What a crucial year. I first reconnected with my boys Killa and Sol-Leks at the end of ’05 and began this journey as a professional solo rap artist. Sol-Leks had this dope set-up in his room and used to do these preliminary recordings until he got the place that our crew, The Balance, would eventually wind up calling Wet Paint Studios. Between these times, I was reintroduced to Sekwon, who would be up in Sol-Lek’s room and have some of his beats playing. I heard songs that Sol-Leks had recorded over his beats and it always seemed like he had picked all of the good ones to rap over. I had jumped on a Sol-Leks track that Sek had produced, but he wanted me to rap over a few of his beats for myself. I had initially heard a beat he did early on called “La Lupe” and did something over that, but it went nowhere. He used to have this real choppy production style that skipped and was dependent on samples with hi-hats everywhere, so they didn’t really jump out at me. But like every other month, he’d come thru with a new cd of beats. He was real diligent with his. In early 2006, he had brought one of his beat cds and it had this track sampled from a Clint Eastwood movie. Just the fact of where it was sampled from alone made me want to take it. The other thing is that at that point, since not alot of his tracks hit me, I was real excited and I wanted to make sure I claimed it before Sol-Leks could. I took this track and wrote to it almost immediately. I recorded it in Sol-Lek’s room, but I didn’t like the mix. Sek said I did some real 50 Cent-ish type rhyme. I wanted it to be catchy tho. Where as most rappers would’ve tried to make it hardcore, I saw something else in that guitar and whistle run. But I still wanted to show off. So I chose this rhythm that rode the beat perfectly and lead into the hook each time. The first incarnation of it sounded more wordy in the first verse. So the song sat for a year after the Wet Paint era kicked in and the first Crazy 8’s and Moonlighting mixtapes took precedence. I re-wrote it and re-recorded that song about 3 times because Sek lost his original version of the beat. I just wanted to still let it be heard because I knew it was a dope song at the end of the day. Especially since I re-wrote it with more swag. So he finally re-made it correctly and by the time Wet Paint was done and I was recording with my GemStars crew in 2008, it was time for me to re-release the Crazy 8’s as the deluxe version with 8 new songs. I included this final version and it was well worth it. Sek has gone on to become one of my favorite and most reliable go-to producers. He’s come a long way and is a beast behind the boards now with respected rappers getting tracks from him. Watch out for the kid. So here it is…My first real song over a Sekwon beat….

LIKE ME

Verse 1

“Hey!

you can smoke a spliff,

on a cliff, (reference to the opening line borrowed from “Uptown Anthem” by Naughty By Nature)

but the difference with the 6…

Is I really Jump-Off, (Double entendre. The jump-off. Cliff. See?)

Like I’m suicidal with…

What I spit;

This that wrist-slit – quit the life you live,

cause it’s Bleek – but that Memphis,

mean I’m on my Grizz

ly! (alot of people hate when rappers stretch a word to carry it from one sentence to another, but what I did here was made a triple entendre out of the whole suicide, wrist slit Bleek reference and made it connect to the Memphis line which can fit the Bleek and Grizzly references. And it all fit within the diced up rhyme pattern. Hence, the stretching of the word grizzly)

I’m the other kid who’s name contain a hyphen, (feeding off of the Memphis Bleek line, this is an allusion to Jay-Z; the other kid with a hyphen in his name. ha!)

ya’ll just wasn’t cutting it, so I’m bringin’ the knife in.

I’mma write til I can get my girl Canary diamonds,

all about that yellow– you can call her jewelery lightskinned!

But I ain’t colorstruck…

I’m from the westside where they throwin numbers up,

bandanas on their ups! (This was back when the gang culture in NYC was still a little bit new and more lively so the kids would be more outlandish and do stuff like wear bandanas in random places to signify their sets)

But get right, or get doubled up,

cause that sheet come in one color,

– it’s white! when you covered up!

Call for EMT,

round here, niggas eating spoonfuls of TNT…

Don’t let the waves fool you…

Cause Harlem’s known for gettin’ pretty and fly,

but you can check Youtube;

even Loon throwin C’s – you see! (Back then, Loon had beef with Dipset rapper 40 Cal. and appeared on a video clip claiming an L.A. Crip set)

I keep my frequency,

on FM,

for instance’ if a nigga’s hatin – F ’em!

He don’t really wanna see that FN,

unless you throw an A in between it

-then,

we can be best friends! ( because throwing the letter A between F & N would make him a fan – get it? Instead of seeing the FN, which is a gun. Which would be an extreme outcome)

And it ain’t even me to be threatin’,

-but I’m from a zone where the dudes known to toast more than the Best Man

And I don’t mean Taye Diggs,

this is Harlem where they got ’em sayin “A!” and “Ya Dig”! (phrases popularized by Dipset rappers Juelz Santana and Jim Jones at the time)

Spot me at a House Party – ain’t no Play or no Kid,

but still a Class Act, (duh, Kid N Play movie titles from the early 90’s)

-cats act, but they ain’t like him…

(Lord…)”

HOOK

Verse 2

“That’s enough about where I’m from,

let’s get into where I’m goin…

My career’s speeding up!

Your careers’ll be slowing…

Down, like in the dumps!

I dump your stuff where the hole is,

couldn’t find a line if your rhyming came with a clothespin – oh! and…

Before your rhyming hit the store,

shellack that wax, (“wax” is old school slang for an album. It originated in description of the texture of vinyl records)

or you won’t be shining at all!

These rap cats wack…

Waving a 9 in all your songs,

but anh anh anh!

Survey says; you’re lying- you’re wrong

Zero!! (allusion to the game show Family Fued)

Reolad,

Lik is gassed – he know,

my head is too big for my face like, Ne-Yo

I’m So Sick, (Ne-Yo break out song. Also the bridge of a double entendre sequence)

I need some antibiotics,

in my system – jump over fences like your man was bionic

-penisulin…

Couldn’t heal him man,

16 Million Dollar Man,

can’t stop him but,

“we can rebuild him!” (This quote and the ‘jump over fences’ line are allusions to the old TV show The 6 Million Dollar Man a.k.a. the Bionic Man)

From scratch,

but scratch that – it’ll be a minute until then,

I walk up just like the kid who did in Lenon and killed him.

Critics ain’t spoke much,

you ain’t neither,

-it’s thumbs down like Roeper,

and you ain’t Ebert.

But soon as we get these ropes up,

you ain’t leaving,

so what he’s a New Jack?

Leave that New Jack Swingin‘! (Double Entendre like a muthafucka!)

And yeah I know that’s wrong considering Black History,

-but he been talking long…

Consider Black history!!

I’m the shit that means;

simply I’m the shit to me,

your opinion means shit to me,

are you shittin’ me??!

(Lord…)”

Hope you learned something…

To listen to or download this song, click the pic of the mixtape cover below.

New music videos by Sol-Leks & J.Craft

Summer’s in the air. And it’s a great time for some good ol’ NYC rap.

This time I’m bringing you some visuals from 2 of Manhattan’s Uptown elite. The first being a rarity from the leader of my Balance crew, and one of my favorite rappers that I know (if not my favorite) – Sol-Leks. The kid has been on a wild hungry streak, doing back to back shows and throwing this video together in the span of 2 days. I’ll admit, I wasn’t a fan of this song until seeing the video. I get his vision now. It feels like a movement. He sampled it from a track on Kanye’s last album and chose it to be the lead of for what I hope means the arrival of Sol-Leks album. That would be something. For now, enjoy. And shout out to fellow Balance Crew member, 16’s Candles contributor and all around visionary, Who Is Number 5? for the camera work and editing. Nice assist by Rayniel as well. 

Speaking of Rayniel, who you may have seen me mention on this blog a couple times, the second video is by his team, the FM crew featuring the homie J. Craft on a solo mission. (Don’t it feel so 90’s? Peep the laid back flow and the brown bag on the car hood posturing) Rayniel also handled a majority of the filming and editing on this one. This is Inwood/Wash Heights Hip-Hop in it’s purest form. Manhattan keeps on making it! 

Sol-Leks Performance w/YC The Cynic & Yonas Tomorrow Night!

My boy Sol-Leks back at it again…

Come thru if you can

Sol-Leks Show Monday Night!!

My boy Sol-leks got himself a show tomorrow! Sure it’s with a few other guys, but still…

I’m proud of the kid. If you remember, I’ve stated before that Sol-Leks is my favorite rapper that I know. His music is always refreshing, thought-provoking and melodic.

Perhaps I’m a bit biased, because he’s like my little bro since High school and the leader of our fabled Balance crew.

But in any case, a Sol-Leks performance is  a rarity. I actually have no idea what the the kid is gonna perform, but I’ll be in the crowd shouting out Spanglish phrases via my honorary Dominican status. Get familiar with the kid.

2 new Music Vids – Brandon Carter’s “Around The World” & Sol-Leks’ “Always Like This”

2 of my Favorite Rappers that I know!

First up…

The boy Brandon Carter Took advantage of his time in the islands and shot a video on location for one of my favorite joints from him. I was in the vid, via our time in the Grand Cayman Island yearly carnival, but alot of scenes got cut during editing.  Shout out to Brian on the camera work!! Let the video take you away for a minute while we up here above the equator deal with this Global Warming-induced iffy weather.

And second…

My boy Sol-Leks is a master at sampling. He took liberties with this song and made it his own. This is just a taste of what’s to come as he’s got 2 mixtapes dropping soon. Washington Heights’ own…He’s a problem. Shout out To Who Is Number 5? on the video! My crew, The Balance is still in full effect!