Hip Hop media, like most other forms of critical media, is often inundated with various forms of social baggage. Whether it is the latest news on Wiz & Amber’s messy divorce situation, or even as pointless as THIS, there are many distractions to what is really important in any art form – quality of expression. Today, we’ve had a (probably much needed) reminder of the power of lyricism and rhyme in human expression, thanks to a chance discovery by Chigago rapper Co-Still on the Chicago Subway.
Meet Joseph Lane, AKA ‘SoLow RedLine’ (who has named himself after the subway line he spits on).
Joseph is homeless, sleeps rough, and lives off $40 a week, which also goes towards supporting his son. Co-Still caught SoLow rapping with a small amplifier system at Jackson Station, and uploaded it to Youtube where it has blown up, even catching the attention of bait idiots Fox News (who have now offered him an interview live on air). I’ve watched the guy spitting (over Eminem’s ‘Mockingbird’ instrumental) and while his flow leaves a lot to be desired, the lyrics are the story of a real man’s struggle. I’m sure we’re all exhausted with rappers fake-talking about murder, cocaine, cars and swimming pools, and there is something admittedly real about Joseph Lane’s underground bars. It’s refreshing to see some apt social commentary from him aswell, especially regarding his local Chicago scene. He talks about his local Chiraq artists, claiming people who follow image & money obsessed artists such as Chief Keef ‘just sold they soul for 2 dollars’ and tells the crowd ‘man I’m real father, so please don’t judge, especially if you go home and bump some Young Thug’. As I said, it’s not groundbreaking, but it’s worth a watch to remind you the possibilities of this genre, and is an honest story from a man in struggle.
Well. I hope you didn’t have as much of a peak weekend as I did; mine comprised of two twelve hour shifts at the pub and then having all my possessions of any value robbed from the cloakroom at a Skepta’s The Block in Hackney. This is round two of the Tuesday playlist, with some tunes to cheer us up (hopefully):
Metro Zu – Preach
Allan Kingdom – Souls
Ratking – So It Goes
Juicebox X Tom Misch – How Does It Feel
Joey Bada$$ – Christ Conscious (best we’ve heard from Joey in a long time to be honest, and the video was released today but I’m not even gonna bother posting it because it’s embarrassing)
Blood Orange – High Street (Feat. Skepta)
Vince Staples – Freestyle (Sway In The Morning)
BJ The Chicago Kid (I’ve got serious love for this guy’s music)
Wiley has been bigging up his upcoming Snakes and Ladders EP for a decent amount of time now, and last night finally dropped a video for one of the tracks that will be included. The video, which includes an army of familiar Grime faces, with everyone from Giggs to Novelist, and near enough every member from Boy Better Know, is directed by Skepta, and quite ironically, appears to be filmed at Wiley’s big house, his very big house in the country. The video itself is uninspiring, and whilst being fairly well filmed, doesn’t have much to offer aside from a show of bravado and luxury from the team (though we’re not too sure about the Nike sandals-sock combo).
Nitpicking the video is a minor though, and Skepta does a fairly decent job at his directorial debut. The video does what it needs to do, which is give Wiley the platform to make his comeback.
Let’s talk the important stuff now: Wiley is self admittedly an artist caught between the money-throwing mainstream market, who fuel the production of tracks such as Heatwave, and the Grime fans who respect him as the Godfather of a genre. This tune, thankfully, is a direct appeal to the latter. The instrumental is reminiscent of an old school Wiley beat, but has modern elements which keep it fresh and relevant. There are a number of references in the track which highlight the fact that this song is a throwback to the Grime scene of the early 2000s – the chorus claims ‘I dunno what they told you but I’m not a mook’. This ‘mook’ references the insult that started the Titch and Dizzee beef which Wiley had to break up on the Conflict DVD.
There are further nods to his past, with the bars ‘still roll deep on a level’ and ‘I came through merkin’ Sidewinder sets’. This track clearly has retrospective qualities, but then Wiley has been successful in representing his modern persona and situation. He talks about his future plans – ‘tell a business team I’d like to invest’, whilst offering wisdom on the nature of being a successful music artist in the UK – ‘so if you really want my advice and take it/ try not to spend until you’ve made it/ just live within your means innit/ I don’t need to front coz I’ve seen it’.
This track is a strong Grime banger from Wiley, and feels like an honest release, which represents what his recent life has been like, rather than something released for the radio play. We’re looking forward to catching Wiley at Culture Clash in October, and hearing more from Snakes and Ladders.
I’ve got the day off work today, and this is what we’ve been getting gassed off.
Some new, some old. Check them out:
Bodega Bamz – Don Francisco
Earl Sweatshirt ft. Vince Staples & Casey Veggies – Hive
Mac Miller ft Jay Electronica – Suplexes Inside of Complexes and Duplexes
Deniro Farrar – Days Go By
Rae Sremmurd – No Type (This song is fucking ridiculous but it bangs)
Dexplicit ft Durtty Goodz – A.W.O.L
Mixtape: Bones – Skinny (This one is ridiculously underrated)
DJ Maximum ft Newbaan & BBK – Shaky (Kind of stupid, but Newbaan, Skepta and Frisco go in)
Captain Murphy – Between Villains
YUNG LEAN – Ghosttown (feat. Travi$ Scott) (I swear I can hear the Holby City theme tune in the instrumental tho)
So we gave you a heads up on this track last night, and as promised, Kendrick came through and released the new track on his Soundcloud page earlier on today.
The track starts with a short skit, reminiscent of a pastor preaching the gospel, proclaiming that ‘Brother Kendrick’ is a ‘brother that stands for something, a brother that believes in the all of us’, and that ‘if you read between the lines, you will learn how to love one another’ but that ‘you can’t do that, without loving yourself first’. This sets the theme for the rest of the track, which as it drops, is quite clearly going to be a feel good dancy affair. As has been witnessed with other Kendrick tunes, particularly off Good Kid Maad City, there are plenty of religious motifs – ‘Satan wanna put me in a bow tie, pray that the holy water won’t go dry’. The repeated lyric of the track is ‘I love myself’, which is essentially the embodiment of the rest of what the lyrics are about. It is a positive and inspiring piece of artistry from Kendrick, and in his typical manner, he has adopted a new flow to accomodate the sample, which as we previously mentioned, is ‘That Lady’ from the Isley Brothers. Towards the end of the track, it goes into a solo type breakdown, which Kendrick raps fast over, that then breaks into a bass solo accompanied by car horns…? It’s definitely experimental, but is an excitable track which I’m sure will get a lot of radio play, and lets us know that his next record is going to be an interesting evolution from G.K.M.C. I know that Kendrick fans are difficult to please, and that he has covered a lot of ground since, say, Section.80, but it has Kendrick’s distinctive flow, and like most of Kendrick’s tracks, some sort of meaning to it, so hopefully you’re not all too disappointed! I would say the originality of this track is slightly dubious, considering the use of the sample in previous Hip Hop songs (see what we said about it in our last post), but this is only the first release, and judging from this, there will definitely be some interesting work on the way.
We’ve known Kendrick has a new project in the works for a while now, but details have been slow. There have been hints in recent interviews: Rolling Stone heard how he does not have any current plans to feature any other rappers on the album, whilst Complex reported that he has between 30 and 40 songs already produced to go on the LP, which is due out by the end of 2014, and will feature productions by TDE regulars Tae Beast, Sounwave, and that Kendrick will also once again be working with Dr. Dre. The rapper tweeted a somewhat cryptically earlier this week, which simply read ‘i’, alongside the image below (which will most definitely be the artwork for this single).
According to a release from MTV earlier today, the track will sample the classic Isley Brothers track ‘That Lady’. This is a fun and upbeat doowop/pop record from the 70s that has already been used in a couple notable hip hop tracks: The Beastie Boys – ‘B-Boy Bouillabaisse‘ & Charles Hamilton – ‘The Awkward Prequel‘. Kendrick’s had some interesting samples in the past, which have worked well for him (I particularly like Money Trees which samples this, and The Recipe, which borrows from this.) These samples are genius in their own right, and Kendrick does an incredible job at incorporating them into his genre. We reckon the Isley Brothers sample will be slowed down considerably, to a chilled out type of beat, but that’s only a guess. Track drops tomorrow. so we’ll be back on here to find out!
Have a listen to the Isley Brothers to get in the mood.