Editorial, Main, rileysbest

No New Friends: The Phenomenon Of Post Death Love

Reminder, there’s no shame in not being the biggest fan of an artist. You’re also not under any moral obligation…

Reminder, there’s no shame in not being the biggest fan of an artist. You’re also not under any moral obligation to fundamentally love every artist who ever died. Feels like that shouldn’t be a necessary reminder — except that it is.

Master P said during a long-winded Instagram post/caption that we need to lift up and celebrate the best and brightest in our culture while they’re still alive. He went on to accuse BET of showing fake love to the memory of Prodigy, who passed away last week from complications related to Sickle Cell Anemia. Let’s explore that.

Prodigy — half of Mobb Deep — was a pillar of realness that represented that lost 90s era where authenticity reigned supreme. While Prodigy has a vast catalog of content, it’s not unrealistic to assume that a significant portion of (the more casual) Hip Hop listeners love for P peaked in two very specific eras. Mobb’s classic sophomore album — specifically “Shook Ones” — and the commercial singles in the period between Infamy and Blood Money. I’ll admit that’s a hunch.

Numbers do point that way, though. The farther we from Blood Money, the less commercial impact P was able to make. His debut solo H.N.I.C went gold, but — while the two subsequent installments did manage to chart — his solo releases never received any further certifications. What happened to the love?

Like many artists who have passed before him, P had suddenly popped up on everyone’s (above the underground) radar last week After his sudden passing, with many crediting him as their ‘favourite’ rapper. It’s not a bad thing, and unfortunately an artist’s passing often spurs newfound interest in their discography. However, when a network like BET suddenly becomes the “biggest champion” of an artist they’ve all but forgotten over the past decade, it seems oddly opportunistic — if not, fake (as hell).

Much like Pac, Big, Sean P, and others we’ve lost along the way (like Phife), Prodigy is now finding himself on lots of top rappers lists, when — in actuality — he should have been there all along if that’s how you feel. The trouble is that celebration of vets like P would sure take up a lot of mental real estate that is currently is spent celebrating new and upcoming acts.

There needs to be balance; there needs to be something. Anything. Why are we the only genre that does this?We have architects who have over the way starving. WTF?

Isn’t it weird that people say “it’s about time” when Pac was inducted into the Rock-N-Roll Hall Of Fame, but couldn’t be bothered to shell out the $35 to help support the development and celebration of the Hip-Hop Hall Of Fame?

The frustration of an act like Master P is understandable, as he (while not as lyrically gifted) has made similar impacts on the culture which he is not as recognized for as he could be. I get it. You should, too.

Younger heads should do their homework, and at least try to understand P’s impact on the game. He has lots of great music for you to discover. But you don’t have to hold him up as the greatest to ever do it. It’s ok to love or rekindle a love for fallen soldiers, but dick riding the dead for good optics is unnecessary. Pause.

PS read his book. It’s in my Top 5.

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
Related Articles
Uncategorized

Florida Wants You To Know That “Rapping” Is Back In Style

There’s something about Florida that’s taking hip-hop back to its roots. In recent years, America’s favorite genre has continuously become…

There’s something about Florida that’s taking hip-hop back to its roots. In recent years, America’s favorite genre has continuously become more about beats and aesthetics than lyricism and rhyming. Not to write off any ‘new wave’ artists doing it big, but let’s just say when a tape drops with beats by Metro Boomin, I’m there for Metro.

Florida rap is different because it has garnered an underground scene that thrives by producing lyrical artists. This underground scene has recently been compared to that of Brooklyn’s in the 90s, where real, gritty, bar-for-bar rap is making a huge comeback. But to fully understand the difference between underground rap in Florida and mainstream rap from places like Atlanta, New York City, and Los Angeles, you have to know about some of the scene’s best —and most overlooked — artists.

Denzel Curry

You can’t discuss Florida rap without bringing up XXL Freshman Denzel Curry. Denzel began to establish himself in the new wave of underground hip-hop after Spaceghostpurrp created the group “Raider Klan.” Raider Klan never got the full attention it deserved, but it did put some promising MCs on the map before it fell apart, and Curry wasted no time growing a successful career of his own after the fallout.

 

His rapping style is experimental, to say the least; what stands out is that he is rapping. Imagery and wordplay alone could earn him recognition, but this isn’t what makes him stand out. He possesses the unique ability to turn rhymes on their heads in the blink of an eye. By quickly switching his densely narrated flows, Denzel throws curveballs at his listeners and accelerates his stories like no other modern MC. Listening to Denzel Curry is like enjoying a novel; you always leave with more than you came with.

Nell

Nell is another MC who emerged from Raider Klan’s underground presence. With a unique style based on straight up bar-for-bar rapping, Nell’s old school sound is not unintentional. Every track off of the mixtape “90’s Mentality” is just that — a throwback to the golden age of hip-hop.

 

Nell’s rap style is vintage yet progressive, tossing meaningful lyrics over rough, chopped and screwed instrumentals. Nell is essential to Florida’s underground scene because he’s making music that young and old Hip-hop heads can vibe with, together. The nostalgia associated with 90s rap has given a voice to MCs like Nell, who are focused on rapping ability alone, as opposed to fashion and money so distinctive to many mainstream artists.

Ski Mask the Slump God

Ski Mask the Slump God is making waves with his insane combination of new and old school rapping. He is one of the most notable young MCs — commercially — who tends to focus on rapping fast. Sure, a lot of new age rappers can go fast, but most separate their bars with an (aye) or (yea) whereas Ski Mask just can’t stop. The young rapper’s catalog is as diverse as it is consistent. Every song consists of wildly different sounds and subjects, but Ski Mask is always so addicting to listen to.

 

He also incorporates aspects of metal and hardcore rock in his music. If you listen carefully a lot of his songs sample bands like Drowning Pool and Slipknot, but even when he isn’t sampling it you can hear a standard rock kit somewhere in his beats. The rap/rock combo has been a historical part of Hip-hop; traveling down the stream from groups like RUN-DMC and M.O.P to bless modern Florida through rappers like Ski Mask the Slump God.

So maybe its the southern heat making everyone a little crazy, but something is making people want to rap in the Sunshine State. Trap music is helping expand Florida’s audience by drawing lots of attention to Miami with rappers like Lil Pump and Smokepurrp, which may help Florida’s underground scene grow in popularity. Denzel Curry, Nell, and Ski Mask the Slump God are just a few who are helping redefine what it means to be in the ‘new age’ of Hip-Hop.

All three of these artists have music available on major streaming services, but Soundcloud is the go-to place to hear their extensive catalogs. And if you are interested in hearing more of the Florida underground here are some artists you may want to check out: Pouya, Rell, Wifisfuneral, Robb Bank$, Yung Simmie, Lofty305, and Fat Nick.

Continue Reading
Uncategorized

Teka$hi 6ix9ine is Proving To Be 2018’s most unusual rapper

Controversial rapper Teka$hi 6ix9ine, real name Daniel Hernandez, is one of 2018’s most idiosyncratic underdogs. The Brooklyn native began his…

Controversial rapper Teka$hi 6ix9ine, real name Daniel Hernandez, is one of 2018’s most idiosyncratic underdogs. The Brooklyn native began his career as a Soundcloud artist and gained national attention after his rainbow-colored hair, bright gummy grills, and stylized “69” tattoos across his body painted him as the “final boss” of Soundcloud Rappers in an internet meme.

Teka$hi 6ix9ine is Proving To Be 2018’s most unusual rapper

While his striking image spread online,6ix9ine’s song “Gummo” began amassing millions of views on YouTube after its October release, eventually reaching #12 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song sports aggressive lyrics over a trappy Pierre Bourne instrumental, with the “Scum Gang” rapper screaming: “She wanna fuck but keep her clothes on, I only want the jaw, man that’s all I really use her for, as I kick her out the door.”

In December, Teka$hi plead guilty for the use of a child in a sexual performance. According to court documents and XXL, the charges stem from an incident that occurred at a friends apartment in Harlem on February 21, 2015. Detective Maureen Sheehan stated the victim, who was 13 years old at the time, was seen in a series of videos “completely nude sitting on the lap of the defendant [Hernandez]…[with] his arms around the child.”

In an interview with DJ Akademiks, Teka$hi at first denied the allegations.

“When she came in she asked me how old I was, and I told her I was 18, and I assumed she was older. The way she was asking made me think she was older.”

Teka$hi also denounced his actions based on his age, saying he was “a kid,” and “17 years young,” when according to court documents his birthday is in 1996 — making him 18 during the time of the assault. “I’m not touching the girl,” the rapper went on to say to Akademiks, “I’m not having sexual intercourse with the girl, I’m not doing nothing.”

6ix9ine plead guilty to the charges in November and will be sentenced on January 30, 2018. The artist has been ordered not to post sexually explicit or violent images featuring women/children to social media. He also must obtain his GED, not commit another crime for two years and “write a letter to his victim and her family detailing why his participation in the videos was harmful to her and her family.”

Teka$hi will receive three years probation if he meets these qualifications, and won’t have to register as a sex offender. The rapper faces one to three years in prison if any of these conditions aren’t met.

 

With Teka$hi’s Hyper-Violent Shock Rap coming into mainstream playing alongside other controversial acts like XXXTENTACION, it will be a defining next few months for the Hip-Hop industry. Will labels support those with disturbing pasts like Teka$hi 6ix9ine, and if so, will listeners be able to stomach any tracks the artists release from here on out?

Fellow Soundcloud artists Trippie Redd and Ski Mask The Slump God have already distanced themselves from X and Teka$hi. Redd said via Instagram “I’m sorry brozay, 1400 don’t support pedophiles,” and Ski Mask said X is “crazy as hell.”

In the meantime, Teka$hi shows no signs of slowing down. The rapper recently released his “Keke” music video featuring Fetty Wap and A Boogie With A Hoodie, and is gearing up to release his debut Kooda tape very soon.

Well, that backfired 😂😂😂😂😂

A post shared by Above Average Hip Hop (@aboveaveragehh) on

In addition to the criminal charges, 6ix9ine has also gotten a bashing via Twitter this month after a video posted by Ugly God revealed his chains were fake. Producer Pierre Bourne also came out and dismissed his track “Gummo,” saying the instrumental was meant for Trippie Redd, and not for 6ix9ine. With the hate flowing in, Teka$hi’s seems to hold his head high.

“I run New York, I’m in fucking charge right now, whatever I say goes,” he told DJ Akademiks recently. Fans, while skeptical, will soon see if his words hold merit.

Continue Reading
Uncategorized

A Beginner’s Guide To Injury Reserve

Jazz rap, spaz rap, and everything in between. That’s what California (via Arizona) hip-hop trio Injury Reserve has brought to…

Jazz rap, spaz rap, and everything in between. That’s what California (via Arizona) hip-hop trio Injury Reserve has brought to the table with their two full-length LPs — and single EP. Consisting of two rappers, Nate “Ritchie With a T” Ritchie and Stepa J. Groggs, and one instrumental mastermind, Parker Corey, the group started making waves in 2015 with the release of their debut album, Live From the Dentist Office.

Riding the success of the jazzy single “Yo” and the cerebral deep cut “ttktv,” the trio came back with a vengeance at the end of 2016, dropping one of my favorite hip-hop albums of that year, Floss. Refusing to rest on their laurels, yet evidently taking the time to piece together a formidable third studio album, the trio dropped a seven-track EP, Drive It Like It’s Stolen, in the fall of 2017. With a tonal palette ranging from sexy to mean to somber, the extended play was more than enough to satisfy their growing fan base for the time being.

They have shown exactly zero signs of slowing down; they will embark on their first headline tour before the winter is over. So, if you would like to get on the Injury Reserve bandwagon before they officially blow up, here are the nine tracks you need to help you do so.

Live From the Dentist Office

“Yo”

 

With a thumping bassline, upbeat guitar, and splashy horns, this track remains one of the jazziest and most infectious instrumentals in the Injury Reserve catalogue. It is, however, somewhat deceiving; although you may want to dance, Ritchie and Stepa spit frustrated verses about their 9-5 jobs and anonymity in the genre. Further, Stepa addresses his alcoholism, a motif that appears throughout the trio’s music. Nevertheless, the two rappers come through with tones and flows that sound hungry as hell, and their determination is all too clear.

Yeah it’s good to be on/On, yeah, I’m on the clock/Cause these raps haven’t done shit but buy me a couple socks. – Ritchie

“Whatever Dude”

 

With a title that refers not only to the hook but to the relaxed vibe as well, this track is aptly named. Rapped over fluttering hi-hats, sharp snares, and breezy guitars, the lyrics address some of the same themes tackled in the previous song: struggle, the balance of work and art, the determination to blow up in the rap game. The opening verse remains one of my favorites in Ritchie’s repertoire.

I been doing some stupid shit like going to work/When I could be doing some lucrative shit like writing a verse. – Ritchie

“Ttktv”

 

Parker scales it back a bit on this track and lulls the listener with delicate, somber keys, a spellbinding drum loop, and low, growling backing vocals set behind Ritchie’s blissful singing. Then, at the three minute mark, you’re shaken by a sudden transition to an intense 25-second verse that addresses a painful relationship. It’s towards the end of the song that things getting pretty cerebral; I love the way Parker muffles and warps both the keys and Ritchie’s vocals.

Air tight bag, my heart is all in it/And I hardly fall apart but this time I’m diminished. – Ritchie

Floss

“Oh Shit!!!”

 

The biggest banger on an album jam-packed with bangers. The brilliant focal point, I think, is the contrast between the beautiful keys and the schizophrenic trap beat. Ritchie digs deep into his vocal register and throws it back to the mid-2000s with a hook that makes me want to run through eleven brick walls. The group kicks of their sophomore effort with a braggadocious flex, and the message is clear: they’re on their way up.

Remember mama told me that I need to get my act together/Ten years passed the only difference is I’m rapping better. – Stepa

“S on Ya Chest”

 

An enthralling, dream-like sonic experience, this has to be my favorite song in the IR discography. The silky smooth horns make the track an essential example of modern jazz rap and the hook is like nothing else I have ever heard; it features Ritchie on two separate tracks, rapping two different hooks that mesh together seamlessly.

Ya what you know about a young nigga like this/What you know about a young neighbor like this/I did the second one for the white kids/Cause I know you wanna say it, but that ain’t right, kid. – Ritchie

“Look Mama I Did It”

An emotional, triumphant conclusion to a phenomenal sophomore project. Here, we see Parker get on some Kanye shit; he masterfully incorporates a church choir sample into the instrumental, and I love the way he alternates the volume of the sample to match the jarring effect of the jittery hi-hats. Ritchie makes himself entirely vulnerable and spits one of the most genuine, heart-wrenching verses I have heard in my years of hip-hop fandom. Stepa picks the vibe back up with a proud meditation on the trio’s long road to success and Parker packs a sentimental wallop in the final minute of the track. He plays it out with an epic, orgasmic crescendo of the church sample, driving beat, and a science fiction synth passage.

Had the same outfit on that I graduated in/Cause I heard you were fighting the doctors and they still made you miss it. – Ritchie

Drive It Like It’s Stolen

“See You Sweat”

 

A sexy, claustrophobic banger complete with hip-swinging drums, police sirens, and a tasteful sound effect to replicate a drop of sweat. Ritchie keeps it laidback on the chorus and shows off the suave, sensual side of his hook-making chops. Although I didn’t love it at first, the whispered bridge fits the vibe of the track perfectly and sounds especially good over the hand-clapped beat.

Still feeling myself, just socializing/But you better not ask me to start freestyling. – Stepa

“Boom (x3)”

 

This instrumental is horrifying, sinister, and brilliant. If a serial killer were an instrumental, he or she would be this track. It features the same elements that make “Oh Shit!!!” great, but on steroids: lingering keys, killer bass, and cyclical drums underneath an unsettling trap beat. Ritchie sounds like he swallowed a frog full of rusted screws before he recorded this hook as he addresses the haters who chirp artists with ghostwriters. His tone and flow are relaxed, but his annoyance is clear.

And here we go back again with all the chit-chat/That he said she said, nigga just spit raps. – RitchiR

“North Pole”

 

This is the most stripped-back and vulnerable I have heard the group thus far. Rapping over a minimalist drum beat, repetitive guitar chords, and haunting vocal sample, Stepa and Ritchie address their darkest demons and spill their hearts out as plainly as any music fan can ask. Framing Ritchie’s verse as a phone call is nothing short of genius.

I love that Jay line talkin bout CBS/I been doing the same since so I can see BS. – Stepa

Make no mistake: although these dudes are successful, they are on the verge of truly exploding in the near future. If I were you, I would starting bumping their stuff sooner rather than later.

Continue Reading
Uncategorized

You Should Be Excited About Rich the Kid’s Debut Album

Whatever title Rich settles on, you can rest assured that this album is going to be good

Atlanta via New York City rapper and Rich Forever Music founder Rich the Kid is set to drop his solo debut full-length in 2018.

After years of mixtapes and collaborations with artists such as Migos, Young Thug, and 21 Savage, Rich invested in himself and founded his label, Rich Forever Music, in the early spring of 2016. The first artists to hop on board were Chicago rapper Famous Dex and producer The Lab Cook, with whom Rich collaborated on the label’s first two tapes, Rich Forever Music and Rich Forever 2. In the fall of 2016, fellow New York City spitter Jay Critch signed to Rich Forever and, less than a year later, appeared with Rich and Dex on Rich Forever 3 – one of the best mixtapes of 2017, in my opinion.

https://twitter.com/richthekid/status/949364231475834880

Concerning his solo work, Rich signed to Interscope Records last summer and got to work on his full-length debut. The hype only grew in September when Rich dropped one hell of a single, “New Freezer,” with Kendrick Lamar. The landmark track rides an icy trap beat and showcases Rich’s talent as a hook-writer. Oh, and Kendrick snaps. Hard.

Only a few days into the new year, Rich announced via Twitter that Rich Forever 4 is on the way, featuring the same trio as its predecessor. On January 7, he posted an Instagram video of himself rapping along to an unreleased track with the caption “Finished my album last night now what should I call it?”

Whatever title Rich settles on, you can rest assured that this album is going to be good.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BdqhQ33hcgR/

Continue Reading
More in Editorial, Main, rileysbest
#IndieSpotlight: Shah33d Discusses His New Ep

Sometimes, an affinity for music can truly run in your blood; such is the case for artist Shah33d. His grandfather...

Close