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Mase Vs. Cam’ron: For The Culture

This past weekend gave 90s heads a reason to be excited; Harlem-legends Ma$e and Cam’ron went toe-to-toe is a full-on…

This past weekend gave 90s heads a reason to be excited; Harlem-legends Ma$e and Cam’ron went toe-to-toe is a full-on rap beef complete with vicious person jabs and insidious claims. But, was it all for the clicks? Their cordial agreeance to disagree and move forward via text (which Cam shared) seems to suggest it was all in good fun — or was it Ma$e being jabbed for far too long?

To appreciate the magnitude of the beef, it’s vital to understand the actual history these guys have; this wasn’t bullshit Twitter beef with a stranger.

Both Cam and [Murda] Ma$e were members of the often under-celebrated Harlem-based group Children Of The Corn, which included Herb McGruff, Cam’s cousin Bloodshed, and the late icon Big L. The group recorded roughly 30 tracks, but were largely derailed as a collective by the death of bloodshed and L. However, by the time that L was murdered in 1999, all the group’s members had signed solo-deals and ventured out on their own.

Ma$e was — without question — the most successful by the time 1998 rolled around. His debut, Harlem World, topped charts and to date has gone 4-times platinum. It was his label situation with Bad Boy that helped Cam link with Biggie Smalls, who consequently facilitated him inking a deal with  Lance “Un” Rivera “Un” Rivera. Ma$e also appeared on Cam’s first breakout single “Horse & Carriage,” and appeared in his visual for “357.”

Fast-forward to 1999, Ma$e retired from rapping to become a Christian pastor. The circumstances surrounding his departure from Harlem (and Hip Hop) were murky for years. The official story that we’ve come to accept is that Uptown-resident Baby Maine (cousin of incarcerated rapper Max B) ran Ma$e out of Harlem for having relations with his girl. It is captured in the song “Jealous Guy,” which Maine saw as extremely disrespectful. So whether or not he was fully committed, the “finding God” angle was a front of sorts.

Now, Cam and Ma$e go way back — even playing basketball together in High School, but Cam and the Dipset crew have openly talked about Ma$e for years. On wax, you can go back to Cam’s biggest album, Come With Me. He spits the following bars on “I Just Wanna” about Ma$e’s sudden departure: “I just want him to know/rock them jewels, flash that chrome/It’s all good, you can come back home if you want.”

That was the nicer acknowledgment. In fact, some of their public comments had been less than flattering; Cam was pretty loose on Instagram Live earlier this year, basically calling a spade a spade, eliciting a response from Ma$e.

Most recently, Cam dropped some pretty vicious bars on the opening verse of “It’s Killa” on The Program:

“Then I watched him play Pop Lotti against Baby Maine/ At this time I’m moving heroin in Maryland/ They both died, and this nigga turned reverand/ Had the hood hot, FBI and agents ’round/ We need a referee, shit, that shit a flagrant foul.”

That brings us to “The Omen,” and Cam’s (kind of disappointing) “Dinner Time.” The fans of us here at AAHH have concluded Ma$e was a clear winner, but — in all actuality — Hip Hop won.

In a week that also saw a new project from Fabolous and Jadakiss, NYC seems to be on a pretty nice run right now. Though neither of these artists is in any state that we could consider a prime, It had heads glued to the net in a fashion similar to the way heads were glued to Hot 97 awaiting a response record in the epic Nas and Jay-Z beef.

As a 30-something-year-old who got on to Children Of The Corn before these two dropped their other shit — I believe it was on a Stretch & Bobbito tape I copped as a kid — this battle was something special for me. I knew that the “dirt” they had on each other would be extremely deep, and as a whole, I wasn’t disappointed. I found myself saying “what a time to be alive” no less than 16 times in the past 48 hours.

While the preview for Cam’s response included mention of the fact The Program 2 is dropping January 1st (making this all seem like a commercial), I still loved it — for the culture. Ma$e is often written off as a corny rapper, but his shit when quadruple platinum. We all fucked with his music pretty heavy, is tbh Harlem World holds up 20 years later.

There is plenty of chatter centered on irrelevance, which is sad. These two came up in an era when shit was analog — no internet, no steams. Just straight up physical sales. Most newer (urban) artists will never know what it feels like sell four million full-length albums. Not singles, ALBUMS. I for one am happy that these cats are still out here. As for Ma$e, even if he fades back into obscurity, at least he can go out with his head a little higher than the last time he dipped.

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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Famous Dex Talks New Album & Dual Identities In Exclusive Interview

“I didn’t [really] just discover them, it’s always been like that.”

Coated in Diamonds, with a Gucci bag draped at his hip, Chicago rapper Famous Dex took the stage in a black werewolf T-shirt at New York’s Gold Bar on March 27 to premiere his new album Dex Vs. Dexter, and to receive a gold certification plaque for his bouncy track “Pick It Up” with A$AP Rocky. The album, while still flux in braggadocio lyrics, demonstrates creative growth for the rapper. Released on April 6th, the date was personally chosen by Dex to coincide with the three year anniversary of his mother’s passing from breast cancer. “It’s influenced my hustle. Everything I do now has a greater purpose because of her,” Dex told Above Average Hip-Hop. “The decisions I make with my family and my career, I always consider what she would tell me.”

The project’s theme of separate entities, while not a foreign concept in Hip-Hop, paints the audacious artist as someone more than how he appears to fans. “I didn’t [really] just discover them, it’s always been like that,” the artist said of his two identities. “Dex is the romantic guy,” he said with a laugh, “Dex is single, well both Dex and Dexter are single, but Dex loves women, chilling, vibing, [and] not doing too much. Sometimes people see me on a video, and I’m really laid back, that’s Dex.” In contrast, ‘Dexter’ is the artist everyone is familiar with. “He’s a clown, wild, crazy with ad-libs and everything. Dexter is who most people know in my music.” The two characters are fully realized on the albums cover art, with “Dex” sprawled on a green leather couch with a girl on his lap, while “Dexter” zooms around the couch in an animated form.

 
In contrast to Dex’s previous work, the rapper’s official debut is heavy on pop influences. The hook on “Prove It,” is layered in a pop-rock guitar riff and steady 808 drums. “Take this ride with me, sip this Hennessy, I got bands on me…Ooh girl you so sweet,” Dex sings in the third verse. Another drastic musical departure for the mumble rapper comes in the form of “LIGHT,” a radio-ready single featuring pop-rock quartet Drax Project. “Aw man, Drax! I love those guys,” Dex said of working with the band. “It just happened, I don’t know exactly how it happened, but I’m not going to question God because it’s dope! I’ve never made a song like that before.” Dex sings on the track alongside the group, his gooey auto-tuned vocals harmonizing with Drax.

However, Dex still makes room on his debut to tackle familiar territory. “LIGHT” is followed by “Celine,” a barely-two-minute bouncy interlude that finds the rapper reassuring his fans not everything has changed. “My favorite track to get hype to is ‘Celine.’ That song is fire,” Dex said. “It’s so natural to me, and I love to perform it.” Other tracks like the lead single “Japan,” “Take Her” with Wiz Khalifa and the album’s intro “DMD” find Dex in his comfort zone as he tackles beats by Pi’erre Bourne and J Gramm, among others. “This whole album is a celebration,” Dex said. Even with a new album just released, Dex is already planning his next steps. “I’m already working on my next album, Rich Forever got something fire coming out soon, so be on the lookout for that.”

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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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