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“Don’t worry if I write rhymes, I write checks”

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The following is an excerpt from the book You Made It a Hot Line; The most influential lines in hip hop. The names are real. The lyrics are real. Enjoy!

Artist: P Diddy
Song Title / Album: Bad Boys for Life/ The Saga Continues
Label/Year: Bad Boy Records / Arista Records July 2001

Really Puff? Really P, Poppa Diddy, Dirty Money Pop? When Sean “P. Diddy” Combs publicly declared what many hip hop fans had known for years, it still came as a shock to the collective system. Ghost writing, a term that refers to having another writer pen your lyrics, is common practice in pop music and R&B but was always seen as the ultimate taboo in early hip hop music (and still is…sorta.) Unlike R&B and pop, where the artist is judged solely on delivery and their ability to carry a tune, one of hip hop’s unwritten rules regarding delivery is that whomsoever delivereth the message over the microphone shall also be the original author of said message.

Emcees are judged on the flow and delivery of their OWN words. The Meek may inherit the earth but they will certainly rise up and try to eat Drake’s cakes if they suspect him of plagiarism. Having another wordsmith pen your rhymes in hip hop is considered a prosecutable offense in a court of hip hop law. The esteemed judiciary committees that gathered ‘round corner stores, bodegas and park benches daily to litigate on behalf of their favorite emcee would have had all ghost written rhymes deemed inadmissible. As Justice “Supreme” Fuquan Johnson passionately argued in the trial of Rappers Delight, Gandmaster Cas v. Big Bank Hank et al; “Nah son, he ain’t even write that shit!” Ghost writing is truly an atrocity of Milii Vanilli-esque proportions. But not for Diddy.

What would have been considered a slap in the face to hip hop at one point in time was given a pass partly because of the individual who said it and partly due to hip hop’s industrialized status at that point in time. The genre had been firmly ingested by the mega corporations by 2001 and the focus was more on record sales and revenue and less on artistic merit. P. Diddy, whose career began as an A&R, was notably revered more so for his ability to R&D talent, sell water to whales and tuxedos to penguins than he was for “kicking wicked rhymes like a fortune teller.” Diddy was never considered an emcee in the truest sense of the word. Most viewed his lyrical efforts as more of an attempt to sell music than to artistically express his deepest thoughts a la Jack Handey.

What made Diddy’s brazen admission even more passable was the fact the Puffy does indeed have a love for hip hop culture and an overall understanding and recognition for talent and development. As Poppa Diddy Pop never professed to be more than he was when it came to lyrical supremacy, no harm, no foul. He has also had the wherewithal to cut a check for those most prolific at providing funky lyrical content… their OWN funky lyrical content.

It is fitting then (and oddly ironic) that the emcee most noted for calling out the transgression of ghostwriting in hip hop is not an emcee at all and was, in fact, calling himself out. Oh well. If you can’t beat ‘em… “Can’t stop. Won’t stop. Bad Boy. Come on!”

 

Crazed Afrykan is a writer / hip hop producer (Nas / Damien Marely) and aficionado of hip hop culture. For over 30 years, he has gained personal introspective into the motivations, rhymes and reasons for one of the most revered genres in modern music. He is also a smug, smart ass with a perplexing penchant for alliterations. You’ve been warned.

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NIPSEY HUSSLE

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It’s been approximately one week since we’ve lost Nipsey Hussle and the reality has finally settled in. The frustrating familiar scenario of gun violence has claimed yet another talented young leader! Unfortunately more families, friends and communities are left reeling forever changed.

The impact of this King from the city of Angels was profound and respected. He made his mark on this world by wearing several different hats through his short lived life. Nipsey wasn’t just a hip hop artist, but a business owner, visionary and inspiration to the many that crossed his path. He was known to provide wisdom and encouragement to uplift the people in his community.

On March 31st Nipsey was allegedly murdered by a known acquaintance outside of a store he owned with his brother. This is assumed to be over a personal dispute that occurred earlier that day. But many believe there is more behind this act of violence than what is being alleged.

Nipsey was working on a documentary on the trial of Dr. Sebi. A holistic practitioner that was taken to court by NY State and the Federal Government over his claims of curing people of Aids. Dr. Sebi went on to win both trials and Nipsey wanted to illuminate the significance of these rulings.

The impact of this King from the city of Angels was profound and respected

The conspiracy theories are equally being embraced and pushed aside in the public arena. But before you jump to any conclusions, ask yourself these questions. Is gun play over trivial matters normal in our society? Is there a history of vital information being withheld from the public in the interest of profit?

The answer to those questions alone should raise enough of an interest to pay attention to the pending trial of the suspected murderer and to look forward to the completion of the documentary from Nipsey’s friend Nick Cannon.

But most importantly let us not forget that celebrities are people too. It isn’t always about entertainment. This is real life. This man is leaving behind a wife, 2 children and a close knit family that was intending to finish the marathon with him.

 

HB aka The World Traveler is fully committed to exploring and sharing with you what the world has to offer in travel and music. Get on board and enjoy the ride!

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5 For 5: From Blak Emoji’s Kelsey

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I caught Blak Emoji at Arlene’s Grocery last year where their infectious electro-pop burned down the house. Their recently released album KUMI combines sexy synths with alt rock swagger and is sure to get your ass on the dance-floor.

When I asked singer and creative mastermind Kelsey about his influences, he obliged with 5 for 5 – five tracks each from five of his favorite artists.

PRINCE

When Doves Cry  This is one of the best American pop songs with an avant-garde tinge I’ve ever heard. There’s never been another song that sounds like this. Musically unique and lyrically brilliant. Mecca of pop songs and an incredible less is more composition. This still sounds like one of the most cutting edge song to ever top the pop chart.

Controversy  This is one of my top 5 dance songs. The vocal melody is so simple and catchy. There are so many instruments with melodies of their own bouncing off each other here. And somehow they don’t get in the way of each other. The lyrics have this psychoanalytic and existential quality. He pulled that off in a dance song. One of the best electro funk songs you’ll hear.

I Wanna Be Your Lover  Wow, one of my favorite falsetto performances hands down. Prince’s vocal here is stellar. It’s a clever dance pop song with an infectious hook and crooning soul. So perfect and classic.

The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker  I was floored first hearing this. It’s like minimal avant funk. The lyrics paint a vivid, playful picture where you can practically see the weirdness of this relationship right before your eyes. Plus the drum programs and beats here are still creatively ahead of it’s electro-funk time.

Condition Of The Heart  This album track doesn’t get mentioned a lot but that doesn’t matter. It’s an eclectic ballad track for a rainy day, with those sweet ghost like keyboards. It so Prince! I miss this man. Learned so much from him musically, more than any other artist.

NINE INCH NAILS

March Of The Pigs  Straight up bombastic industrial rock in a 7 meter. Classic crafted angst in less than 3 minutes. One of my all time favorite NIN songs. It makes me feel better. It’s aggressive but so much fun.

All The Love In The World  I think this is one of Trent’s most beautiful pieces. It almost has a dub reggae quality to it. He sounds so revealing and broken here and it’s so great! Then the last part of the song with the 4 on the 4 beat with those chords and vocal build up! Trent has a unique style of writing surprises that always work.

The Fragile  Sonically next level minimalism and then later cinematic. The hook here sticks in your head in the best way. “I won’t let you fall apart” is such a great, catchy uplifting chorus. But it kicks ass at the same time.

Even Deeper  Another track with that sonic brilliance from the same album of the previous title track song. The chorus here, again so infectious. Dr. Dre does a great job here assisting on the beats.

Echoplex  This chorus right here! The guitars sound so raw and cool. And that BEAT tho! I wish I wrote this song. Another one of my favorite NIN choruses lyrically and melody wise over those unpredictable dark chords.

RADIOHEAD

Airbag  If I play this song I have to play it at least 5 times in a row. I can’t even begin to describe how incredible this song is. Sonic and hooky brilliance!

Everything In Its Right Place  Ah, I LOVE the chords in this song. Like major keys don’t sound this warm and mysterious. This is like a hypnotic mantra personally. I never get tired of this one.

Planet Telex  Another album opener with a bang like Airbag (and Everything In Its Right Place, sensing a theme here). Same deal with the incredible melody, chords and broken pocket processed drums. They make the simple sound so complex yet catchy. That chorus…

Separator  Yet another with the beautiful melodies and beats. Thom sounds like he’s floating here. Calm, yet soulful in his own way. Love the way it builds. The perfect night driving song. Like perfect. Can we give a shout out to Jonny Greenwood please?

True Love Waits  This song is one of their most beautiful, it brings me to tears, It’s such a revealing, clever love song, like the one that says what you want to say in a poetic way. The piano changes are hauntingly heavenly. I prefer the new studio version of this one. This song is what love is to me.

LITTLE DRAGON

Infinite Love  I heard this song a few times when it was released on the downlow and had trouble getting an MP3 of it then. Erik the drummer was nice enough to send this to me (sweet dude). It’s probably in my top 3 Little Dragon songs. I love everything about this electro chill track. This B side should’ve have ended up on an album. It’s too friggin’ good!

Turn Left  This keyboard melody (and later vocal) drives the whole song. Awesome catchy, quirky electro pop soul track. This was the first Little Dragon song I fell in love with. Yukimi oozes effortless soul.

Blinking Pigs  Was hooked on this song from first listen. It’s one of Little Dragon’s best electro soul pop songs in my opinion.

Pretty Girls  I love the verse melody so much and the sound of the keyboards and programs here. Such a great track.

Underbart  I love the sound of this one so much. Brilliant electro pop piece with Yukimi’s angelic vocals and infectious chorus. The video is killer too.

D’ANGELO

Shit Damn Motherfucker  This is the one I go back to most on this debut album. I love how it’s so smooth and chill yet the lyrics could have been in a Johnny Cash song.

Playa Playa  One of my favorite basslines. You’ll never get it out of your head. This tune is so pocket funky and the vocals are just killin’. All musicians should study this tune, especially when it comes to space. Pino and Questlove lay it down hard AF here!!

One Mo Gin  I’m floored by the laidback hypnotic groove, classic soul and lyrics of this tune. So behind the beat but dead on. Brilliant track that’s vivid. Again, this bassline! Damn Pino (Palladino).

1000 Deaths  This was a surprise for me. D goes psychedelic acid funk rock here. It’s almost Funkadelic-like with a Sly Stone vibe, heavy rock and hard funk. Try not to bob your head to this political funk rock banger.

Another Life  The arrangements, rhythm section and damn, this song is like a wedding song. It’s a beautiful, definitive love song for ages. Love the vocals arrangements and D’s classic soul adlibs at the end.


Kelsey plays solo at Rockwood Music Hall on March 24th, and with the full band on April 19th at Nublu. Make sure to check out Blak Emoji’s new record KUMI by clicking the image below.

Using a host of pen names, Eric Curran has been blogging in one form or another for well over 10 years. He's a partner at One Track Mine, and also runs the blog Jealous Foodies.

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2 CHAINZ – RAP OR GO TO THE LEAGUE

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Rap or Go to the League is as consistent as the executive producer’s (Lebron James) career.  2 Chainz and his team go hard in the paint from the opening tip to the last shot. The song and flow called on “Forgiven ft. Marsha Ambrosius” to set things off lets you know exactly what you’re in for.

 

This well thought out project illustrates the growth of one of the more colorful ballers in the rap game. He effortlessly controls the pace from track to track with a variety of teammates.  Whether he’s turning up the intensity with Kendrick Lamar on “Momma I Hit A Lick” or running the three man weave with Lil Wayne and E40 on 2 Dollar Bill, his handle stays tight.

As much as this is a team effort, when his number is called to go create… he creates. Listen to him go nut on the Dead Presidents inspired beat “I Said Me”  and the soon to be anthem “NCAA”.

2 Chainz and his team go hard in the paint from the opening tip to the last shot

There’s no exhibition game to be found here! The all star team assembled took this to heart and showed out. Check out the Amerie summer street ball classic moves Ariana Grande mesmerizes the crowd with on “Rule The World” .

 

This is an album where you can go Steph Curry style and just toss it up by pressing play or hitting shuffle. Wherever it lands you’re bound to score with ease. So strap up your kicks, put on your head phones and head to the court! March Madness has officially begun and 2 Chainz got ball!

HB aka The World Traveler is fully committed to exploring and sharing with you what the world has to offer in travel and music. Get on board and enjoy the ride!

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