Monday, February 28, 2011

From Dwight Schrute's Beet Farm: Nora's MMmm Lists (part 1)

Now BRL Devotees will remember back when we used to do these lists regularly. Basically my bro N*r* D*b***s (censored for security purposes)used to make lists for my Mmmm (cuz the word blog was lame back then, but not any more).

5 Best Things About Kanye's Movie, Runaway:
1. The quote, "Your girlfriend is beautiful - did you know she is a bird?"
2. His grandma loafers
3. Nicki Minaj narrating
4. Him running
5. How he captured a girlfriend/bird/phoenix

Favorite Things About Willow's "Whip My Hair":
- It makes me whip my hair

Least Favorite:
- The morning following hair whipping

5 Things I Love Most About Hip Hop Nation:
1. I'm white, yet it's on 98.7% of the time in my car.
2. The amount of 50 Cent played
3. "Runaway" coming on 50% of the time you are in the car with me
4. The fact that I call in and make requests daily
5. When times be hard - it makes everything better.

5 favorite reasons to Love Canada:
1. Loonies & Toonies (Editor's Note: Yeah, me neither)
2. Hockey (Editor's Note: yeah okay, bro)
3. Tim Horton's (Editor's Note: Starbucks >>>>>>)
4. Everyone is Friendly
5. It's Amuricah's Hat

My 5 Fav Dranks:
1. Labatt Blue
2. 4 Lokos
3. Champagne
4. Molson
5. Death Shots

(More Lists To Follow...)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

BRL 2010 Year in Review: BRL's Man of the Year...

And finally From Dwight Schrute's Beet Farm: Beets, Rhymes, & Life's Most Prestigious Award: The Man of the Year goes to.....

Ron Swanson!


BRL 2010 Year in Review (Non-Hip Hop Edition)

I don't claim to be any sort of expert on rock music, and I certainly don't analyze it like I do hip hop, so take this list with a grain of salt. I have it listed in reverse order of artist name (don't ask me why) along with a rating. The best non-hip hop album might also be a recipient of some award or something that's not nearly as important as a BRL award.

Vampire Weekend - Contra - 8.5/10
Sufjan Stevens - Age of Adz - 8.5/10
S. Carey (of Bon Iver) - All We Grow - N.A/10
Ryan Bingham - Junky Star - N.A/10
Rogue Wave - Permalight - 8.0/10
Pete Yorn - S/t - N.A/10
N.E.R.D. - Nothing - 6.0/10
MGMT - Congratulations - 5.0/10
Local Natives - Gorilla Manner - 7.5/10
Linkin Park - A Thousand Suns - 7.0/10
Kings of Leon - Come Around Sundown - 6.0/10
John Legend & The Roots - Wake Up! - 8.5/10
Japanese Cartoon - In The Jaws of the Lords of Death - 7.0/10
Cee-Lo Green - The Lady Killer - 8.0/10
Broken Bells - s/t - 8.5/10
The Black Keys - Brothers - 9.0/10
Beach House - Teen Dream - 9.0/10
Arcade Fire - The Suburbs - 9.5/10

BRL 2010 Year in Review (Continued)

Sorry for the delay, I've been extremely lazy the past couple of weeks, but I'm going to take this time I have off from class (Snowpocalypse part 2!) to wrap up 2010, finally.

Top EPs and Mixtapes of 2010:

15. Grynch - Rapping About Rapping Mixtape - 30 points
14. Evidence - I Don't Need Love EP - 31 points
13. Blu - theGODleeBarnesLP - 33 points
12. Blueprint - Blueprint WHO? EP - 33 Points
11. Freddie Gibbs - Str8 Killah EP - 33 Points
10. Marz Lovejoy - This Little Light of Mine - 34 Points
09. Brothers From Another - Too Soon? EP - 36 Points
08. Sene - Reality Bites - 36 Points
07. Pac Div - Don't Mention It - 37 points
06. Asher Roth & Nottz - Rawth - 37 points
05. Atmosphere - To All My Friends & Blood Makes the Blade Holy - 40 points
04. Shawn Chrystopher - The Audition - 42 points
03. Grieves - Confessions of Mr. Modest - 42 points
02. J. Cole - Friday Night Lights - 42 points
01. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - The Vs Ep - Redux - 46 points

Rhymes: Atmosphere - "Just For Show" (New Single)

Atmosphere - Just For Show by rhymesayers

Here's the first single off of Atmosphere's The Family Sign, which is the group's first album in 3 years. The Nate Collis guitar-driven track features Slug airing out his grievances with a love gone awry. The album, due in less than 2 months now, is supposed to be the group's most personal and mature effort to date, with tracks about love, family, and death.

The Family Sign Album Cover

01 My Key
02 The Last to Say
03 Became
04 Just For Show
05 She’s Enough
06 Bad Bad Daddy
07 Millenium Dodo
08 Who I’ll Never Be
09 I Don’t Need Brighter Days
10 Ain’t Nobody
11. Your Name Here
12. If You Can Save Me Now
13. Something So
14. My Notes

Monday, February 21, 2011

Rhymes: Stalley - Lincoln Way Nights (Intelligent Trunk Music)

Stalley. swiped from Socially Awkward Magazine
Ohio emcee, Stalley released his latest mixtape project last week titled, Lincoln Way Nights (Intelligent Trunk Music). The bearded emcee made a lot of buzz in 2010 appearing on tracks with Curren$y and Ski Beatz. With his aggressive flow and distinctive voice over Columbus beatsmith Rashad's production, makes Intelligent Trunk Music one of the best mixtapes released in the last few years.

Stand out tracks include an ode to the late/great Pimp C on "Monkey Ish," "Tell Montez I Love Her," "Hard," and several others. This mixtape is full of bass heavy, hard-hitting beats and Stalley's sharp word play. A lot of the mixtape's lyrical content revolves around bass and autmobiles, which are popular in mainstream hip hop, but Stalley is able to rap about these things with the type of lyricism and creativity that is rarely heard on the radio.

Stalley has a bright future ahead of him. He is Ohio's BEST up-and-coming emcee (sorry Cudi, Chip, MGK, and others) because he has mainstream tendencies mixed with a unique voice and style that gives me flashbacks of early 2000s Freeway (or maybe it's because of the beard).

Below s the music video for his first single off the mixtape, "Slapp."

Click Here To Download or Stream Mixtape

Friday, February 11, 2011

Rhymes: Grammy Preview

So my favorite (but also my least favorite) awards ceremony will happen this Sunday, so I will do my obligatory post on the award show.

Album of the Year:
# The Suburbs – Arcade Fire
# Recovery – Eminem
# Need You Now – Lady Antebellum
# The Fame Monster – Lady Gaga
# Teenage Dream – Katy Perry

Who SHOULD Win: Arcade Fire - The Suburbs. Hands down this is the best album nominated, and I ranked it just below Kanye's album (he missed the deadline for the 2011 awards, so look for him next year) for my personal AOTY. This album is not only a great piece of music, but also provides a great social commentary on American suburbia.

Who WILL Win: Eminem - Recovery. Now I have a love/hate relationship with this album. Eminem touched on a lot of topics on this album I was hoping he'd talk about on his 2009 album. This along with a great lead single, and getting outside production made me really like it right away. But the more I listened to it throughout the year, the more I didnt like it. His yelling-delivery is grating and annoying and his lyrics and rhyme schemes are terrible compared to the rest of his catalog (especially compared to the rhyme fest that was Relapse).

So Recovery will win because The Grammys loves to give the award to old timers, and since there's no odd ball, washed up 1970s revival album nominated this year (see: Steely Dan and Herbie Handcock in years past), I think this is finally Marshall's year to bring home the most coveted Grammy award.

Song of the Year:
# “Beg, Steal or Borrom” – Ray LaMontagne
# “Forget You” – Cee Lo
# “The House That Built Me” – Miranda Lambert
# “Love the Way You Lie” – Eminem feat. Rihanna
# “Need You Know” – Lady Antebellum

Who SHOULD Win: This is a songwriter's award, so lyrics and songwriting are a major part of how this is decided who wins. I think Cee-Lo's "Fuck You" is the best written song on this list. While I'm completely annoyed with this song now because my roommates played this song 4 times a night, every weekend since September.

Who WILL Win: I could see this award rightfully going to Cee-Lo, but I think Marshall and Rihanna (who wont get this award because the chorus was written by Skylar Grey) will bring this award home.

Record of the Year:
# “Love the Way You Lie” – Eminem feat. Rihanna
# “Nothin’ On You” – B.o.B. ft. Bruno Mars
# “Forget You” – Cee Lo
# “Empire State of Mind” – Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys
# “Need You Now” – Lady Antebellum

Who SHOULD and WILL Win: This could a number of different ways. Record of the year basically means the best song of the year (as opposed to best written song). I wouldnt be mad if Eminem, Cee-Lo, or Jay-Z won this award. To be honest I'm pretty much over all of these songs, because people who don't really listen to music have overplayed the shit out of these songs over the course of the past year. I think Marshall will continue his award tour by winning this one too. I'm hoping that Jay wins this though because it's a great track that was ruined by the radio, but now that's not in rotation anymore, I might enjoy it again.

Best New Artist:
# Justin Bieber
# Drake
# Florence + The Machine
# Mumford & Sons
# Esperanza Spalding

Who SHOULD and WILL Win: I don't know much from Florence + The Machine other than a few tracks that I've heard and really enjoyed so I won't be mad when they WIN this award. But I'm rooting for the Canadian wordsmith, Drake. I think Drake is a very good rapper and a great songwriter. He has a great personality that is brought out on his tracks.

Best Rap Album:
# The Adventures Of Bobby Ray – B.o.B
# Thank Me Later – Drake
# Recovery – Eminem
# The Blueprint 3 – Jay-Z
# How I Got Over – The Roots

Who SHOULD Win: The Roots - How I Got Over. This ranked #4 on my BRL end of the year rankings. A phenomenal album with great production and rapping. This is probably my 2nd or 3rd favorite Roots album, but I'm sure they're not going to win because...

Who WILL Win: Eminem - Recovery - Yepp. Eminem is going to be hella annoying Sunday night with his "yaknowhatI'msayin'" and emotional speeches about how tough the past 5 years have been.

Best Rock Song

“Angry World” — (Neil Young)
“Little Lion Man” — (Mumford & Sons)
“Radioactive” — (Kings Of Leon)
“Resistance” — Matthew Bellamy (Muse)
“Tighten Up” — (The Black Keys)

Who SHOULD Win: "Tighten Up" was one of the best songs I heard all year. It instantly turned me onto the Akron Blues duo.

Who WILL Win: But I'm thinking Kings of Leon will take this award, which wouldn't be a terrible thing, because it's a pretty damn good song.

Best Alternative Music Album

The Suburbs — Arcade Fire
Infinite Arms — Band Of Horses
Brothers — The Black Keys
Broken Bells — Broken Bells
Contra — Vampire Weekend

Who SHOULD and WILL Win: This is a great category. I'd happy with anyone winning this as long as it's not Band of Horses (not that they're a bad band, but not on the same level as the others mentioned). I think Arcade Fire will win this award, as they should.

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration

“Nothin’ On You” — B.o.B Featuring Bruno Mars
“Deuces” — Chris Brown, Tyga & Kevin McCall
“Love The Way You Lie” — Eminem & Rihanna
“Empire State Of Mind” — Jay-Z & Alicia Keys
“Wake Up! Everybody” — John Legend, The Roots, Melanie Fiona & Common

Who SHOULD Win: I'd like to see the John Legend, Roots, Melanie Fiona and Common collab win this award. It was a great cover, off of a great cover album that mostly went unnoticed for the most part.

Who WILL Win: I think Marshall will get his first loss of the night because Bobby Ray and Bruno Mars will win this one. This was Mars' breakthrough, and he hasn't looked back since. This track also pretty much buried the artist B.o.B that we once loved. Playing guitar and singing/rapping has been traded in for simplistic rapping (which has sort have always been there) over cheesey soulless mainstream production, with Mr. or Ms. WhoeverIsHotAtTheTime on the chorus.

Rhymes: CunninLynguists - Oneirology Video Teaser

"Oneirology" from StevenMossberg on Vimeo.

Here's the first teaser trailer for the 'Lynguists' upcoming album, Oneirology. The album is going to be a concept record (see: A Piece of Strange) that revolves around dreams (Oneirology means the scientific study of dreams). The album will contain some guest spots from Big K.R.I.T., Freddie Gibbs, Tonedeff, and more...

Since I'm currently blogging from my human sexuality class, I didnt get to listen to the video, so that's all the info I have for you now. According to some Twitter posts, the first leak off the album will be released this up-coming Monday. Awesome.

Oreirology is set to be released March 22, 2011.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Rhymes & Life: The death of J Dilla affects hip hop and Black History Month

For my 2nd column ever, I wrote about my history with J Dilla, who passed away 5 years ago.

The story originally published in the BG News:

Jay-Z said it best on the first bar of what was supposed to be his last album, 2003's "The Black Album": "They say they never really miss you 'til you dead or you gone."

This has been a common trend in music, that I've noticed for years, especially hip-hop. Hip-hop has always been extremely active in showing support to their fallen brethren.

There have been so many prominent members of the hip-hop community that have left us in the past few years: Guru (of Gangstarr), Ol Dirty Bastard (of Wu-Tang Clan), Pimp C (of UGK), Proof (of D12) and so on.

But one death in particular has affected me more than others: James "J Dilla" Yancey.

To be completely honest with you, the only time I've seen J Dilla's name before his death was skimming the liner notes of albums from Talib Kweli and Common. But I still remember Feb. 10, 2006 vividly.

I was 16 years old, and was eager to gain as much information about my budding interests in hip-hop as I could, so I would daily visit a message board, Okayplayer, which was started by drummer/producer ?uestlove of my new favorite band, The Roots. 

Then Feb. 10 came. I came home after school like I did any other day to see what my fellow Okayplayers were talking about that day and then I see a post titled "I have lost a good friend" from a poster named Black Thought, who is The Roots' emcee, although he has never posted on Okayplayer.

In his post (which would later appear on The Roots' tribute song to Dilla, "Can't Stop This") he said:

"As I write these words, my tears splashing the keyboard, I reminisce on the times I've shared (with) Dilla, never without that signature smile and head bouncing to the beat, and finally understand the true meaning of passion."

Tears splashing on his keyboard? If you've ever heard a Roots song, you know Black Thought is not the emotional type; he's the type that crushes weak emcees with his ferocious flows and aggressive lyrics.

But here he was admittedly crying on the Internet to thousands of fans over a loss of a producer who I barely recognized in my favorite rappers' shout out lists.

I felt ignorant. How come this man has had such an impact on the hip-hop community without me having hardly any knowledge of who he was?

During the final years of high school, I continued to grow as a music lover and a hip-hop head. Over those years, J Dilla was instrumental (excuse the weak pun) in my exploration of the genre.

Although he never achieved the fame or even the wealth that a musician of his caliber rightfully should have, his impact on hip-hop music was irrefutable.

His legacy lives on through the countless beat makers who have been influenced by his unmatched ability on the MPC including the likes of fellow Detroit beat miners Mr. Porter and Black Milk, Madlib, and even one of the biggest names in music, Kanye West, has in some way emulated Dilla's style.

This Monday would have been his 37th birthday had he not passed away five years ago from complications of Lupus.

Feb. 7 has been dubbed "Dilla Day" by the hip-hop community for the past four years, and it has always been a personal tradition of mine to play every Dilla track I have and force my friends to listen to it too.

So this year for black history month, let us remember some of our fallen heroes in the hip-hop world (or just music in general) that maybe didn't get the respect and love they deserved until after their death.

R.I.P. J Dilla.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

BRL 2010 Year in Review

Sorry for the delay, but it took a while to listen to all the last second December releases. I'm also going to split up the albums from the EPs from the mixtapes all in a different post.

Here's my criteria: Replay Value, Rapping Technique (Flows and Deliveries), Production, Lyrics (topic and content), Cohesion, Fillers (count as negative points per song), and Songs in the top 100 (I made a list of the year's top rap songs and for each song that an album had in the top 100, that album got an extra point). All tie breakers will be settled by my preferenc

25. Ghost Face Killah - "Apollo Kids" - 31 points
24. Curren$y - "Pilot Talk II" - 31 points
23. Donwill - "Don Cuasac in High Fidelity" - 31 points
22. Shawn Chrystopher - "You and Only You" - 32 points
21. Eminem - "Recovery" - 32 points
20. Black Milk - "Album of the Year" - 34 points
19. Slum Village - "Villa Manifesto" - 36 points
18. Freeway & Jake-One - "The Stimulus Package" - 36 points
17. Murs & 9th Wonder - "Fornever" - 36 points
16. Little Brother - "Leftback" - 36 points
15. Custom Made - "Hi-Def" - 38 points
14. Dessa - "A Badly Broken Code" - 39 points
13. David Banner & 9th Wonder - "Death of a Pop Star" - 39 points
12. Reflection Eternal - Revolutions Per Minute" - 39 points
11. Curren$y - "Pilot Talk" - 40 points
10. Drake - "Thank Me Later" - 41 points
09. Deacon the Villain & Sheisty Khrist - "N*gg*z Wit Lattitude" - 43 points
08. Pack FM - "I F*ckin' Hate Rappers" - 43 points
07. Kokayi - "Robots & Dinosaurs" - 44 points
06. Big Boi - "Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty: - 45 points
05. Nas & Damian Marley - "Distant Relatives" - 50 points
04. The Roots - "How I Got Over" - 51 points
03. Sage Francis - "Li(f)e" - 51 points
02. Kno - "Death is Silent" - 52 points
01. Kanye West - "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" - 53 points

Wow, what a year. There were several albums that didn't quite make the top 25 that were still quality albums. I will have another post for EPs and Mixtapes, and then I will make another post covering my rock albums of the year.