Sharing Some New and Old Tunes

When I sit down to write “Words I Manifest”, I usually have a concept or theme in mind, which is what I’m looking to discuss in that piece. However, this month I don’t. Since this blog was originally set up as a “lifestyle blog” as much as a forum for discussing my thoughts on the culture, I decided that this month I’ll just share a few things that I’ve come across recently, that I think aboveGround readers will be interested in.

The first thing I wanted to share is this short documentary entitled “Hip-Hop Is Dead” (video not available in the US) by Nick Light, which documents the hip-hop culture in and around my city, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK. I think that this is an unusual piece for people outside of the city to watch, as the city is known for its very strong dialect, and has very industrial roots, resulting in a very unique hip-hop scene.

Also, while I’m on the subject of my local hip-hop scene, I thought I’d share this track, which features Newcastle’s own Stig Of The Dump, alongside non other than Sean P! (For those who don’t know, Stig is the guy on the last verse!)

I always love discovering new artists, but even better is when you’ve slept on someone a little while, and suddenly you become aware of them, and have an entire back catalog to check out. This happened to me a month or so ago, in the form of Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino. I hadn’t actually heard of Donald Glover even as an actor, as “30 Rock” and “Community” aren’t that big over here (although I’m now hooked on the latter), therefore I first came across Donald due to Kendrick Lamar adopting the “You Know Me” beat for his “Look Out For Detox” freestyle. I checked out that track and thought the production was dope, and decided to cop his Culdesac album. Ever since that album has been on constant replay on my iPod, and I’ve been searching out all of his other material. If you have yet to experience Donald Glover as Childish Gambino, I’d highly recommend his latest self-titled EP, which gives you a good idea of what he is about, free of charge, across 5 excellent tracks.

By now I’m expecting everyone to have formed their opinions on OFWGKTA who recently blew up like nothing I’ve ever witnessed. You’ve either started skating and wearing Supreme, calling everyone a faggot and shouting swag all of the time, or you despise what they are doing to your beloved culture, and want them to disappear. I personally find what they are doing as a movement very interesting. I think what really makes them stand out is the unmatched diversity of their influences, at such a young age. However, what I do think many people have done is looked at Tyler and Earl and overlooked the diversity of the rest of the crew. This is why I have chosen to post a couple of albums that I think many might have missed out on. The first being Domo Genesis’s Rolling Papers, which contains one of my favorite Odd Future tracks, “Super Market” which features Tyler’s alter ego, Ace Creator, and Domo squabbling about line-cutting at a supermarket queue, an argument which escalates hilariously. The album is essentially laid-back, stoner rap (which, despite being a non-smoker, I still enjoy when it’s done well) with great production courtesy of Tyler and Left Brain, this album is definitely worth a listen, and shits all over another album entitled Rolling Papers.

Another Odd Future album which doesn’t get the credit it’s due is Mellowhype’s Blackendwhite which is the only album to feature the whole crew (minus the Super3). It is entirely produced by Left Brain who puts forward a very different soundscape and raps are handled by Hodgy Beats who is secretly the best rapper and has the most output from the crew.

In 2010 one of the “newcomer” albums that I enjoyed the most was Big K.R.I.T’s K.R.I.T Wuz Here which could easily have been released as a retail album, but instead was distributed online for free. After gaining a XXL Freshmen title this year, K.R.I.T could definitely have put out his sophomore LP for a price, but instead opted to give it to fans for free once again. This album is well worth the download, ReturnOf4Eva is quality Southern hip-hop full of substance (look out for “Dreamin’” especially)…

Someone who I really expected to make that XXL list was XV, but instead it appeared that money and label politics conquered and they picked a number of undeserving but commercially-viable artists who were obviously putting up more money for the place. Vizzy didn’t let it stop him though! Although I wasn’t much of a fan of his last tape, Vizzy Zone, here XV returns to form on Zero Heroes, which contains production from his longtime collaborator Seven, as well as Just Blaze, J. Cole, Omen, Miami Horror and more. Songs to watch out for are, “Smallville” and “Textbook Stuff” which features Kendrick Lamar.

The final thing I wanted to share is 80 Blocks From Tiffany’s which is a mixtape created in anticipation of Pete Rock and Camp Lo’s upcoming collaborative album as 80 Blocks. The tape features original material from the group, as well as a collection of freestyles and blends of Camp Lo a capellas with classic Pete Rock production. The reason I love this tape so much is because it feels so nostalgic (even though I’m not actually old enough to remember) of original mixtapes, it’s so much more than a rough album with a couple of freestyles and a “DJ” shouting over the tracks.

I hope you enjoyed all of this stuff I shared with you, especially if it’s new to you. Check back next month for some more free stuff, or maybe an article on some sort of cultural issue, who knows.

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