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Hip Hop Raised Me: Why A Generation Of Good Fathers Is So Important

Like most kids who grew up in my PJs, my father wasn’t around. To make direct reference to Shaq’s classic…

Like most kids who grew up in my PJs, my father wasn’t around. To make direct reference to Shaq’s classic CL Smooth featured song, “biological didn’t bother.” Like many youths in the bubble of the golden era of modern Hip Hop was—in many ways—my father figure. It taught me how to dress, respond to social cues that were relevant in my environment, talk to girls, and how to view hegemonic powers that be. Was Hip Hop a perfect parent? No.

In hindsight, youth from (often) broken homes speaking from their experience to likeminded younger youth was—while sometimes marked with brilliant insights—a blind leading the blind situation. Especially if you factor in commercial influences that may be perpetuating the direction of the content. It took the most dedicated listeners to cut through the bullshit and uncover the life lessons.

Public Enemy’s message of social consciousness became drowned out by gangster shit, sadly.

One such lesson was fatherhood; my childhood predated my internet usage, so the only time you heard about fatherhood in Hip Hop was when the artist made explicit mention, like Xzibit’s “Foundation” off of his debut album. We didn’t get to see candid footage of an artist’s eye’s twinkling with joy as they embrace their children.

The culture has undergone many changes stylistically and philosophically, and one has been the emo-tification of Rap. Feelings are OK, and being tough all the time sells but doesn’t resonate as much as sharing your soul. This is why a video of Chance The Rapper, an artist who breaks many molds, unpacking Grammys with his child and then breaking down into tears is so endearing.

Then there’s the video of 6lack, who is a must-listen artist for any of you who have been sleeping, explaining to Erykah Badu how he watched his child be born while she performed a live set at a California music festival.

The most compelling example, though, has become Dj Khaled. He brings his son everywhere, taking every opportunity possible to proclaim his love publicly and tell his son how beautiful and special he truly is.

The broken-home narrative was a predominant in Hip Hip, and sadly the intro to Naughty By Nature’s “Ghetto Bastard” is sometimes still the case. But a prerequisite for being an artist no longer includes being street affiliated; perhaps this new generation of overt fatherliness will help mold a generation of men excited to step up and embrace the most rewarding challenge life has in store for them.

As a father myself, artists like XXXtentacion scare the shit out of me.

I get it, he’s an exaggerated manifestation of all the feelings younger listeners may have inside, but he also allegedly beats women. Fredo Santana drank [lean] to the point of Kidney failure. Where are the fathers?

I don’t want my daughters looking up to and following the influences of some of these women MCs, and I don’t want them thinking that some of these shit-heads are the types of men they should respect and fawn over. But, I bumped Lil Kim’s Hardcore and listened to Too $hort, so I recognize the hypocritical nature of my concerns.

Regardless, as a self-described Hip Hop father, I’m going to do my best to steer my kids in a proper direction; all father’s who consider the culture important. Perhaps we can–collectively–parent a generation of listeners that know better, demand better, and pay it forward to their children.

Riley here — father, artist, videographer, professional writer and SERIOUS hip-hop head. I'm a member of the Universal Zulu Nation, and I think everything is better on vinyl. Add me on Twitter! @specialdesigns
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“My Dear Melancholy” is Bone-Chillingly Beautiful

Judging from the dark subject matter that has typified Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye’s catalogue to date–which includes rampant drug abuse,…

Judging from the dark subject matter that has typified Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye’s catalogue to date–which includes rampant drug abuse, his struggles as a homeless young-adult, and suicidal thoughts–few could have guessed that it would be his short stint with a former Disney Channel star that would leave him at his lowest. The Starboy crooner leaves little to speculation on his latest commercial release, My Dear Melancholy, a succinct six-song EP inarguably based on the fallout after his recent fling with pop star Selena Gomez. 

While The Weeknd’s anguish seems genuine and makes you feel for the guy, it’s impossible to ignore the glaring irony in his recent complaints, one, given Gomez’ goody-two-shoes persona, and even more so given the overtly misogynistic lyrics that Tesfaye is so well known for. Here are a few in case you need a reminder (no pun intended):

From the track “Party Monster” off of Starboy: “Woke up by a girl I don’t even know her name.”

From the smash hit “The Hills” off of the 2015 release Beauty Behind the Madness: “I only call you when it’s half past five, the only time I’d ever call you mine.”

Later on the same track, “I just fucked two bitches ‘fore I saw you.” 

Lastly, on the track “Reminder,” also off of Starboy: “When I travel ’round the globe, make a couple mil’ a show, and I come back to my city, I fuck every girl I know.” 

With that being said, musically, My Dear Melancholy is bone-chillingly beautiful. The Weeknd returns to his dark and cavernous House of Balloons roots on the project while still maintaining his newfound pop sensibilities. Rattling bass, slow, driving percussion, and subtle, haunting synths and keys cproductions. The production on most of My Dear Melancholy leaves room for Tesfaye’s vocals to take the driver’s seat, unlike that of the brighter and grandiose Starboy. From a lyrical standpoint, the EP is peppered with moving, weighty bars:

Off of “Wasted Times:” “I don’t wanna wake up if you ain’t laying next to me.”

Off of “Call Out My Name,” the opener: “I almost cut a piece of myself for your life,” a reference to Gomez’ recent search for a kidney donor

Tesfaye saves the best for last, providing the most melodically beautiful and lyrically clever portion of the EP on the closing track “Privilege,” as he repeats in a despondent, Vocoder-enhanced tone: “I got two red pills, to take the blues away.”

It is hard to deny the allure of much of The Weeknd’s work, regardless of lyrical content, due to the singer’s angelic voice and cutting-edge production. On My Dear Melancholy, Tesfaye achieves success from both a melodic and lyrical standpoint, substituting (for the most part) tales of apathetic sexual encounters for raw, vulnerable descriptions of his recent struggle with heartbreak. The Weeknd has finally found the middle ground between his groundbreaking, alt-R&B House of Balloons project and the poppy, Funk-infused Starboy. Lastly, to those Weeknd Stans worried about the Toronto star returning to normalcy, the singer explains on “Privilege:” 

“And I’ma fuck the pain away, and I know I’ll be okay…But I’ma drink the pain away, I’ll be back to my old ways.” 

Not to worry people; the Abel we’ve come to know, and love isn’t going anywhere.

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Cardi B’s Debut Album “Invasion of Privacy” Is Out Now

It’s almost a week since Cardi B’s debut album, Invasion of Privacy dropped. Her fans, the Bardi Gang, are more than…

It’s almost a week since Cardi B’s debut album, Invasion of Privacy dropped. Her fans, the Bardi Gang, are more than pleased with the LP, which has aldo managed to make those who weren’t fans, into new ones..

“I like proving niggas wrong, I do what they say I can’t,” raps Cardi B on “I Like It”

I can’t think of an artist that has had as bomb a breakout year as Cardi B has. She gave us the summer 2017 hit, “Bodak Yellow,” and since then, she’s been on the Billboard charts back to back (to back). The last ten months have been especially great to her, let alone this week. After releasing Invasion of Privacy, Cardi revealed her pregnancy with rapper Offset on “Saturday Night Live”; also, she was the first person ever to co-host The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Invasion of Privacy is an upfront look into Cardi’s everyday life. She’s confident, vulnerable and full of witty remarks. Laced into 13 tracks, the newly minted Quality Control management signee made anthems for the rest of the year. “Get Up 10” sets the bar for what’s to come on the project. Inspired by Meek Mill’s “Dreams and Nightmares” intro, Cardi’s version is also broken into two parts about her ascension to the riches from the rags.

As well, the album includes “Bartier Cardi” with 21 savage, which recently earned platinum certification, and is still doing numbers.

 

Cardi B money moves on this album show her versatility. She dabbles into the trap sound with “Drip” featuring the Migos, shows her confidence and positive vibes on “Best Life” featuring Chance the Rapper, and gets very personal with “Be Careful,” a track addressing an unfaithful partner/boyfriend. Cardi is not the one to mess with!

Social media pundit-turned reality TV star-turned rapper is a way of saying that this girl from the Bronx, is made of grind and determination. You don’t have to like her music, the way she talks, or her persona, but you have to respect her hustle. She came from the bottom and executed her way to the top.

Listen to Cardi B’s debut album below.

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Scottie Jax Is Prepping Posthumous LP To Drop In 2100

This man is intent on leaving a legacy.

You may not have heard of rapper/producer Scottie Jax, but he’s been on and cracking for the better part of the last decade. His first solo mixtape Plan For Tomorrow (from 2009) was hosted by the illustrious DJ Lazy K and featured verses from some of the game’s most respected: French Montana, Max B, Styles P of the mighty D-Block, and the late Fatal Hussein of the Outlawz. He’s since released numerous projects, beats tapes, and — shit — even a videogame last year entitled Ohio Hustler.

But, Scotty is intent on leaving a legacy.

The largely self-produced artist has a new album in the works, entitled Future History; mysteriously (and cryptically), he refers to is as the “Scottie Jax album you will never hear.” He notes in his release details that it’s set to release in the year 2100. “I feel that it’s not about the person who leaves the legacy, but the legacy itself,” he writes. “I will no longer be living, so the least I can try to do is make the world a better place than it was when I was living on it.” There is no word on the platform he will choose for this LP — as there’s no telling if they will still be around. We can only hope he drops the LP long before that.

In the meantime (the very long meantime) you can check out a large portion of his catalog via Soundcloud.

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Kaiju The Unconquerable Returns With Ultraman Visual

Kaiju The Unconquerable is an alumnus of my #indiespotlight series from last year when he released “Episode 6″—a dope mini-movie…

Kaiju The Unconquerable is an alumnus of my #indiespotlight series from last year when he released “Episode 6″—a dope mini-movie that anyone into Anime/comics/ninja type shit should revisit. He just sent “Episode 7: Ultraman” my way, and it’s fantastic.

Related: #IndieSpotlight: Kaiju The Unconquerable Releases New Short Film

This time around, the story centers on Zenith, a 27-year-old Ultraman stationed in the US. He became an Ultraman after his father attempted to tamper with the gene and ultimately ended up dying in an attempt to distill and use its power. Fast forward; Zenith is the only one with this power (on this side of the world), and—in the course of the six-minute mini film fights a deadly alien, lighting up the NYC skyline in the process.

 
It’s, literally as rad as it sounds. From his Ultraman arms and mask—which are insanely cool—to his Ultraman letterman jacket, which I would kill for, the visual is engaging, not unlike his past material. He also directed it, which needs to be acknowledged.

Much like his previous work, which I discussed before, Kaiju’s image and music play off of each other but don’t depend on each other, at all. DOOM is DOOM, that’s his character. This song, for example, is a really dope song as a stand-alone; if you were to listen to just the song, you might take Ultraman as a metaphor–among many others in the lyrically dense track–and rock with it.

The video is what makes it literal. “Ultraman” is a really (really) good song, I can’t stress that enough. Kaiju may come across as niche if you peruse through his catalog, but he’s extremely accessible.

Recommend content—really sit with this one. Early!

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We Were There: Maino Listening Party

Maino held a private listening session party for his upcoming album Party and Pain the other night at Jayz’s spot...

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