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The Greatest Lyricist Alive Is From Detroit

See any lies? I don’t. Even if you don’t agree with my choice, chances are you still agree with the title. That’s because the shit is true. The greatest lyricist breathing air and bleeding red is from the Motor City. And it’s not who you think it is.

You see, I come from the Boom Bap era.

And in that era, Rap was all about lyricism. It was the era of backpackers. It was the era of ciphers. At any given moment in any given place, a freestyle session could go down. And not a session where you read off your phone (phones weren’t even around then), I’m talking real sessions where the verses were actually made up the second they flew out of your mouth.

Rap, in its essence…is lyricism.

So knowing all of this, you can appreciate that I’m not going to ramble off names like Jay-Z or Drake or Kendrick Lamar or anyone else with a ridiculously large commercial following that can generate enormous sales numbers and therefore skew a truthful perspective on their actual skills. Not that they aren’t great lyricists, but hey, let’s be real: they’re not the greatest – and it’s not even close.

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Vic Mensa: The Autobiography

I had high expectations going into the listening of this album. I mean, let me be real – Vic’s song “New Bae” is one of my jams! So pressing play and riding through the playlist I expected an album stock full of the singy songy New Bae-type shit that got me intrigued in the first place.

Instead, I got something totally different.

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Meek Mill: Wins & Losses

First things first, Meek Mill still rhymes like he writes in all caps lock. That’s just his flow. And while I personally can only listen to that kind of delivery in small doses, there are times when I feel a bit amped when I hear it. I must admit.

The next thing is: where was this Meek Mill at when Drake was dragging his all over the playground?

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NAV & Metro Boomin: Perfect Timing

Metro Boomin is one of the hottest producers out right now, but not even Metro could cover up the massive mediocrity that oozes from NAV’s verses.

I mean, where do I start?

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Tyler, The Creator: Flower Boy

There are two questions I ask before I conclude if an album is five mics worthy or not:

1) Can I just press play?  Meaning, can I put the record into motion and let it play through without wanting to skip ahead of a misplaced track that has no business being on the playlist to begin with and…

2) Does it push the culture forward? Or does the album carbon copy previous successful records for the sole purpose of recreating the revenue stream of an original work?

At Hearing Every Rhyme, the answer to both of the above questions must be a resounding yes to be even considered a five mic joint. And I truly believe that Tyler, The Creator’s newest project Flower Boy is that kind of album.

Yep. You damn right.

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Tyler, The Creator Coming Out Means Hip Hop For Another 400 Years

Tyler, The Creator is one of this generation’s new creative geniuses.  He isn’t so much vested in the traditional Rap limelight of money, champagne, and sex as he is focused on keeping the creative flame lit. The creator is simply here to create.

Which is why he is the future of our culture.

Odd Future if you let him tell it.

And being that future, it’s important that he and many other of the new kids on the block lead Hip Hop from a genuine perspective. That’s why his coming out is so important. It means Hip Hop culture as we know it will continue to exist for another 400 years.

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Ralo & Gucci Mane: Ralo LaFlare

Gucci Mane has become one of my guilty pleasures when it comes to Rap. All it takes is a little liquor in my system and some Gucci playing in the background and I’m bouncing around the damn house like some sort of trap chicken selling drugs in his head.

Therefore, it goes without saying that I was really looking forward to giving this album some listens and writing a review on it in hopes of giving it as many mics as I could. But unfortunately, my ears wouldn’t let me give out very many.

Here comes the sad face.

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Jay-Z: 4:44

No ID is pretty much the man that taught Kanye West everything Kanye knows about music production. In fact, consider No ID to be Kanye’s musical daddy that picks little Kanye up every other weekend and buys him J’s whenever little Kanye needs some new joints to rock to school.

That is their relationship. Kinda.

That’s why it’s no surprise that 4:44 sounds very much like some sort of Spotify playlist of unreleased tracks that didn’t quite make the cut of The Blueprint.

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DJ Khaled: Grateful

Since DJ Khaled’s son was born, Khaled has been notorious on social media for showering his son with love and attention in the form of traditional Hip Hop cultural fanfare and to be totally honest: it all has been quite dope…in an excessive, “Ok now, dude, time to chill TF out” kinda way. As a father myself, I can certainly relate to the feeling you have when you’re a new dad. And through those eyes, I can give a pass to DJ Khaled’s extraness with his son.

The fact of the matter is he’s simply thrilled.

Khaled is so thrilled about his new boy, he even gave his young son credit as an “Executive Producer” on his album Grateful. While most people might have assumed like I did that such credit was purely symbolic, I soon found out that Khaled actually employed his son’s infant influence in decisions on musical creativity.

Interesting.

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Vince Staples: Big Fish Theory

I won’t tell any lies: I expected a totally different album when I first sat down and prepared myself to listen to Vince Staples’ latest contribution to the Hip Hop world: Big Fish Theory

I expected him to pick up where he left off on Summertime ’06. I expected a generous helping of that West Coast gangsta flava I usually turn to when I get into my California Thuglife moods. I expected hard ass music with dreamy instrumentals to ride through Los Santos on Grand Theft Auto to and initiate grandiose police chases with (I usually just run down pedestrians until the entire video game’s police force is chasing my evil ass).

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We Could Never Feel His Pain

We lost a Hip Hop legend yesterday when Prodigy of Mobb Deep succumbed to what I assume was his long battle with Sickle Cell Anemia.

The loss was sobering.

Sobering in a sense that all unexpected deaths tend to remind us of our own mortality and the limited earthly time we’re working with, but also sobering in the sense of showing the Hip Hop world how serious Sickle Cell Anemia really, really is.

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The Tale of Tu Pacs

It was the Spring of 1997.

A few minutes before, I had just got into it with my old man (RIP) during a conversation we had on a payphone. After almost 18 years of dealing with my father’s bullshit and bullying, I finally stood up for myself. I finally told him to f**k off – in so many words. And right there, still dressed so fresh and so clean in my crispy prom tux, I took off in the silvery late model Cadillac that was rented especially for that occasion with Me Against The World playing as loud as I could turn the volume knob.

At that point, Pac had been rockin’ wit’ Deathrow for at least two years, but there was no way I could see myself riding in rebellion to All Eyez On Me or The Don Killumanati.  And not because either of these records were bad records, but because these records, in my humblest of humble opinions, felt like forced music that was a result of Pac’s relationship with Deathrow Records and the street shit that came along with it.

I don’t know if it’s because Pac was angry from all the years of shit he had been subjected to up to that point – or if Tupac felt that he owed Deathrow in loyalty in exchange for them rescuing him from the annals of prison life – but one has to acknowledge that there was a big ass shift in the personality of Pac.

It’s like Paranoia sank in. From what? Who knows?

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Hip Hop is Alive and Well

Picture Credit: Brian Micheloe Doss

I keep seeing that Hip Hop is dead.

How?

Where?

I guess a lot of this so-called near death experience can be blamed on the popularity of Mumble Rappers, but the idea that Hip Hop is dead or even dying couldn’t be further from the truth. This fear is merely old school heads who are used to listening to Boom Bap and the fact that they’ve started to freak out at the thought that Hip Hop culture and music has evolved to new spaces beyond a simple kick & snare.

The truth is Hip Hop is more alive than it has ever been. And we can thank the evolution of the elements for this new breath of life.

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Purple Reign: The Day Prince Died Without Our Permission

Maybe I’m just living…and dying, for that matter, in the moment. Maybe I feel like this because the current situation is so fucking unexpected. Maybe it’s just, quite frankly, true. But I don’t regret it. I mean it. I mean every muthafuckin’ syllable. Prince is king. Always will be.

Show me one man that could wear your woman’s clothes…then steal her ass from you without missing even one note in “Purple Rain”?

What dude would have grown ass, perfectly heterosexual men throwing their boxers onto the stage at his concerts like groupies with goatees and face tatts?

Who else would beat your ass at a game of basketball, then hook you up the tastiest fucking buttery flapjacks this side of the Milky Way?

Nobody.

The only man that could do that died at only 57 years old one year ago today. Which makes me so damn angry because he’s left us about 177 years sooner than I could have ever expected.

Prince wasn’t supposed to age. He wasn’t supposed to die. Like seriously, what in the fuck? Doesn’t Heaven have enough angels already? Why him? Why then?

I guess that’s why they say God works in mysterious ways…even if it means taking from us mysterious people that never belonged to us in the first place.

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The Official Unofficial Underrated Kanye West Playlist

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A Word on the Intentions of Kendrick Lamar

There are two kinds of bloggers in this world. There are the ones that write you warm and fuzzy shit that makes you feel like the gooey filling inside a toasted pop tart simply because they want to keep their followership happy (bitchassness if you ask me). And then there’s MFers like me – the ones that don’t give a floating fuck about your approval of their op-eds (you’re probably going to hate this one too as a matter of fact – but again, fuck you).

I write what I truly feel. And in the end, it has won me a lot of loyal supporters…and it has also lost me a lot of followers as well. Personally, I don’t give a fuck if one person remained subscribed to my blog – the fact is I cannot consciously write something that I don’t feel in my heart to be true – and so thus you have the tons brilliant shit I be writin’ to you all’s asses every other day. And today here comes another one for that ass.

And I’ll admit, the latest controversy has got me more in my feels than usual. Typically, I go on my rants on Facebook or Twitter…and then I cool off and go back to munching on Flammin’ Hots and watching amateur porn at my desk during work hours. But today, I felt like I need to use all of my writing superpowers to touch on something that definitely could use my two cents since everyone feels the need to pitch their pennies too.

The thing is Kendrick Lamar has become a trending topic. Which isn’t unusual – he puts out dope music and people are going to talk about it. However, this time around, K-Dot is trending negatively. And if you didn’t know any better, you would think he slaughtered a family of babies the way folks are talking about him at this very moment. But nawl – his crime against society? Expressing his personal preference for women with natural bodies.

Here’s what he said:

I’m so fuckin’ and tired of the Photoshop

Show me somethin’ natural like afro on Richard Pryor

Show me somethin’ natural like ass with some stretch marks

Still will take you down right on your mama’s couch in Polo socks!”

And yo, I’m with him, so add me to your list of people to hate. I’m not a fan of surgically created asses and titties. I like all natural women. Even if the woman isn’t curvy, I still find myself more attracted to women with unaltered bodies. It’s no different than preferring food that is natural and not all processed because it’s going to make you sick and looks like shit when you eat it. And yes, I used that analogy. I’m not changing it. Fuck you very much.

A booty with stretch marks and scars is a beautiful thing and nothing to be ashamed of – at least that’s what I took the line to be. I took it be a quick shout out to women who aren’t perfect. At the very fucking least, I viewed it as a preference (I mean damn, we are allowed to have those, right?).

But of course, not everyone took it that way.

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Why Jay-Z Is The GOAT

But thinking about this from a logical point of a view and not from an emotional point of view, you can argue that the greatest to ever rock a mic is, in fact, from the Roc itself.

Few – if any people – mention Jay in their conclusions. Which is unfortunate because let’s be all the way real here, Jay possesses all of the attributes that all of the previously mentioned rappers can use to claim their own spots in Hip Hop greatness. And that says a whole damn lot.

He has the timelessness of Rakim. The storytelling of Nas. The influence of Tupac. The Brooklyn swagger of Biggie. The rhyme skills of Eminem. Not to mention he is business savvy as fuck. And while I wouldn’t choose Jay-Z as my personal favorite rapper of all-time (My mancrush is on Nas), looking at everything and really thinking about what “the greatest” means…I gotta go ahead and give that shit to Jay-Z’s cameltoe faced ass.

Hip Hop is a culture of eras. Just like any culture really. And each era has called for artists to change with the times and to do so flawlessly or run the risk of falling into the pit of irrelevance riddled with corn-filled dipshittery. Jay has been able to span these times by simply being able to morph and adapt to the new heads that enter the game rather than heavily critique them and make enemies out of their followers.

Being one of the founders of the most influential rap labels of the time doesn’t hurt either. And even though Roc-a-fella was on top then, Jay was wise enough to know that they wouldn’t be on top forever, and thus he began to position himself for moving beyond the Roc. So when Dame Dash faltered under the pressure of his own hyper aggressive management-style, Jay-Z rested comfortably on the lifeboat he had built for himself and became captain of the Dej Jam ship.

Was it dirty? Maybe. But it was more business than anything. Survival really. And Dame Dash being a businessman…a businessman that branded his own label on street survival to be exact, should have been wise enough to see it coming and protect himself from it. Instead, he got hoodwinked by his own business partner and I can’t really fault Jay for it at all. It was smart. Clever. It was simply some brilliant shit.

See. You have to understand that everything about Jay is carefully calculated. Even his wife.

And I’m sure he loves Beyoncé and all, but what better public relations move can you make other than marrying the top female artist in the game? His influence is so great that he was able to win the heart of what many would consider the baddest chick out there. And he does this without being anywhere near a so-called “sex symbol.” In fact, he’s closer to being a baby camel than a Hip Hop sex symbol.

Jay always had the skills on the mic though too. He couldn’t always rest on his ability to play chess in a game of Hip Hop checkers. And while many may say that Eminem roasted him on his own shit, the truth is that Jay-Z’s verse on “Renegade” goes just as hard and in no form or fashion should any real head actually think Em out-performed him. You simply have to concede that when Jay-Z is needed to show up and show out on a track, he never lets you down. How can that not be great?

So in the end, it’s all mathematics really. Add all this shit up and there isn’t anyone that you can say that does really well at everything in this thing we call Hip Hop. There’s one person out there that has the potential to go at the crown, but I’m going to keep that person’s name to myself and save it for another conversation. The point is this: considering all things, Sean Carter is the greatest to ever do this. I know your heart wants to give it to someone else like Pac or Rakim, but the truth is Jay is a spectacular combination of all of our favorite rappers ever into one single emcee.

If that isn’t greatness, I don’t know WTF is.

I Used To Love H.I.M.

I’ve always been a fanatic of Kanye West’s music – going all the way back to The College Dropout.

It seemed like an obvious match looking hindsight at it all. I was producing music. He was too. I’m from Chicago. He’s from Chicago too. I’m from the southside. He’s from the southside too. I mean, he is like the classic American success story: as long as you hustle your ass off and believe in yourself – anything is possible, even a 69 between a little person and a full-grown person (but that’s another story).

I didn’t actually become a fan of Kanye West the personality until a little while later, however. I can’t really pinpoint exactly what it was that made me say, “You know what? I really like this dude. Hell, he can come over on Thanksgiving and fuck my sister!” I just know that by the time 808s and Heartbreak hit the scene and confused the living shit out of everyone in Hip Hop, I had a become a huge fan of Kanye West the personality too.

For me, it was about someone completely and happily basking in their originality. It was about H.I.M. completely owning his weirdness. It was about H.I.M. being what Hip Hop needed to move the culture forward…as every Hip Hop era has needed. And yes. It was about H.I.M. being one cocky ass motherfucker.

But Kanye never said anything that he truly didn’t believe and that is what made H.I.M so popular and his music that much more intriguing. He didn’t just bark what you wanted to hear. He said what you needed to hear.

Sadly, something has changed, though. He’s not the Kanye West that I proudly invited over to fuck my sister so many years ago.

I don’t want to blame any of it on anyone else because people should take ownership for their own damn direction in their lives. But one can’t help but suspect that a lot of this “ain’t-shittery” happened after he made Kim Kardashian his ol’ ball & chain.

I won’t dare say someone as strong personality-wise as Ye would ever be influenced by someone like Kim, but I will say that he has fallen victim to one of the worst kind of poisons to ever affect human beings since Adam & Eve used to go together: the need for some kind, any kind of relevancy.

Much like his wife, it seems that Kanye is willing to say and do anything just to grab a punk ass headline.  After all, negative publicity is still publicity as the saying goes, but this kind of strategic celeb lifestyle simply does not work well for H.I.M. It completely destroys the cult of personality he created over the early course of his career.

And while I can say that I’m probably always going to enjoy Kanye’s music, I think the time has finally come to say I am no longer a fan of Kanye West the Attention Seeking Assdick.

From the whole robbery debacle (which I truly believe was a publicity stunt) to now him claiming that he would have voted for Trump – I am sooo literally done with dude.

For someone that so matter-of-factly said that George Bush doesn’t give a good fuck about black people, there’s no way he can be honest in the fact that he would have cast a mothafucking vote for someone that professed bigotry as much as Donald Trump.

No way. No how.

Therefore, he’s only saying this shit to be a talking point in the news cycle. And I’m all like, “Why, Kanye, why?!?” like some heartbroken fuckstick that should have known all along that Ye would become a twat.

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Biggie Will NEVER Be The GOAT

I’m going to be skewered for this. I already know it. But the best fucking part of it all is that I don’t care. The fact of the matter is someone has to say what a shit ton of people out there are already thinking and have been thinking since the very first GOAT nominations have been unofficially handed out by Hip Hop Heads.

And that is: The Notorious B.I.G. is not a GOAT.

I preface my argument with the fact that I’m one of the biggest Biggie Smalls fans that there ever was. I fucking love him. In fact, the very first rap album I ever bought was a cassette version of the Ready To Die LP from Diana Mall in the south Chicagoland area (Note: First album I bought with my own money, not first record I owned, which was Bigger and Deffer). And trust me, I played that damn tape non-stop. I played that shit until the actual tape part of it thinned out and snapped on me in mid-verse of my improvised performance of “Unbelievable” in my bathroom.

So as this big ass fan of Christopher Wallace himself, I believe I am well within my rights to point out that BIG’s status as one greatest of all-time to ever do this is, quite frankly, undeserved. Feel free to throw your tomatoes and any other assorted fruits and veggies at me now.

This grand proclamation of mine has little to do with his ability and skill level nor does it have anything to do with his fan-base. It’s not a matter of secret hate for Big Poppa either. The reality is it’s all just a matter of Biggie’s discography being small as fuck.

That’s it. That’s what it comes down to.

If we’re keeping it all the way real, BIG has only two studio albums to his credit from when he was alive (Both all-time greats in themselves). Compared to other GOATS in the conversation, Biggie’s discography is extremely small and simply doesn’t compete with the amount of work that’s been put out by Tupac or Rakim or Jay-Z or Nas or any other favorite you’d like to toss in the ring. And if we’re being fair, we wouldn’t dare bestow the same kind of respect to a contemporary artist with the same amount of work of also an exceptional skill level.

Imagine if people were calling Kendrick Lamar or J. Cole GOATs. Heads would lose their damn mind.

The fact of the matter is that Biggie has a few things going for him that raise his visibility and therefore, raises his status in the eyes of many Hip Hop heads. And since we’re human, we can easily be affected by them. But we have to be aware of them in order to not fall for their trancing effect on our common damn sense.

For one, the nigga is dead. And I hate to say it like that because I don’t mean any kind of disrespect, but it’s true. Biggie’s life was tragically cut short thus leaving us only to ponder and appreciate the works he did create even more. Face it, there’s something about dead celebs that creates a special cult of personality – and that cult of personality definitely applies to Biggie, just as it applies to Aaliyah, Eazy-E, Tupac, and many others – which brings me to my next point.

Biggie will be forever linked with Tupac not only because of their untimely deaths happening so close to each other or perhaps even because of one another, but also because of their well-publicized beef that boiled over into a media-created “East Coast vs West Coast” rivalry that had common fans choosing sides – usually based on geographic location. It’s a major point of Hip Hop history and this urban legend also contributes to the cult of personality of not just BIG, but Tupac as well. We simply have to be privy to how it affects our fondness for either dead homie.

And what may be the most important point, Biggie is from the mythic Golden Age of Hip Hop that nobody wants to seem to let die. His death marked the end of “Boom Bap” rap.

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