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Why “Diplomatic Immunity” is Still Talked About 15 Years Later

This was a prime example of what the East Coast hip-hop scene was made of.

I was in my living room when I overheard my older brother T arguing with my cousin. I remember him asking, “So which CD is better? The red disc or the blue disc?”

“The blue of course,” my cousin answered. I didn’t know what they were talking about exactly, but whichever color my brother sided with, I went with that side too. Come to find out they were arguing over Diplomatic Immunity. See, T schooled me on everything: tv shows, sports, music, kicks, etc. So anything T listened to, I was bumping as well. I was in 4th grade in 2003. I didn’t fully listen to Dipset until middle school, and over time I grew much respect for Cam’ron and the whole rap collective.

Diplomatic Immunity turns 15  today. This album introduced me to Killa, one of my favorite rappers of all time, and that’s why it’s so important to me.

If Diplomatic Immunity isn’t one of the best albums of the past era, then I don’t know what is. It was a necessary change in hip-hop and New York rap. This city can be headstrong when it comes to rap and their sound, but Dipset assisted to expand the town’s sonic appeal by adding Southern and West Coast style with the East Coast gritty approach. The world was properly introduced to Cam’ron’s brothers, Juelz Santana, Jim Jones, Freekey Zekey, and Hell Rell as apart of Roc-A-Fella records.

Every track didn’t have hardcore lyrics, but overall the Diplomats weren’t trying to prove sh*t to anyone. What I got from it was that you’re either going to mess with them or not, but they’re here to stay.

“You think you real? Well, my posse is crazier,” raps Cam’ron on “Bout It Bout It III.” Their lyrics were leveled out with the fire production from Heatmakerz, Just Blaze, DR Period, and Kanye West. It was pure genius and comedy!

The first disc is known for its funny skits, hard beats, and best adlibs. As an introduction to the Diplomats, they wanted to make sure they’d made a statement on who they were, where they’re from, and what they’d come to do — all while having fun. Coming off his Come Home With Me album, Cam’ron had already showed us his bold charismatic flow, and proved he couldn’t lose. Since my first impression of his music was from Diplomatic Immunity, I thought his rhyme scheme was boastful and fell in love with his persona. Everything felt real about him. From his lyrics to his fashion sense. Haha! Real men wear pink.

 
Songs like “Who Am I,” “More Than Music,” “The First” and “Dipset Anthem,” were GREAT. Well put together from production to style, Juelz on “Dipset Anthem” gives us that motivation to get out of bed to start a great day. Juelz was so young and hungry, he killed every verse and hook on the album.

This is a group of guys from the streets of Harlem glorifying their come up from rags. You can’t help but to listen and get in tune with their world. Jim Jones aka “The King Of Adlibs” completed every track. This was a prime example of what the East Coast hip-hop scene was made of; talented and highly keened rappers. Happy 15th year anniversary!

 

I love everything about hip-hop music and the culture. Creator/Producer/Host for #StayOnTV. 'Purple Haze' and 'Illmatic' are my favorite albums and I love Lemon Pepper wings. Follow me! Instagram - @ashleytiffaney | Twitter - ashleytiffaney
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#IndieSpotlight: MusicbyKO “Life In Element” Is The Soundtrack For Pre-Fall Blues

A new LP floated across my desk by an Oakland, California, singer/rapper named MusicbyKO. A warm blend of jazzy 90s…

A new LP floated across my desk by an Oakland, California, singer/rapper named MusicbyKO. A warm blend of jazzy 90s Hip Hop and a cadence reminiscent of acts like Isaiah Rashad. Having shared stages with names like J.I.D. and Earthgang, he appears focused and composed — as evidenced by Life In Element, his new LP.


 
With a very consistent sound, KO slowly unravels a series of tracks that let you into his world just enough — without blatant TMI, or inducing a “yeah right” effect. What listeners get are the tales of a low-level drug dealer (this is both referenced and downplayed at different points), who is taking a chance on a dream, as he slowly but surely uncovers that everything the glimmers isn’t gold, and just because someone calls you brother, it doesn’t mean they have your back — or at the very least even your best interests at heart.

It’s an almost paranoid sense that snakes are roaming the grass that is revisited numerous times throughout the project, like on the song “La La Land,” “Empathy,” and “Let Me Talk With Ya/While I’m Here,” where he notes “I Know niggas right now that want to see me fall.”

He also paints a picture of himself as someone who overextends himself — such as on “Too Much Falls Short,” where he preaches that failing to leave your comfort zone is a fail before even leaving the running block.

That’s just the first few layers of this project; touching on socio-economic issues facing the black community nationwide, and even relationships (see the super dope “Spirit Rise”), he creates a lot of depth. Though the vibe is consistent — almost bordering on redundant — it manages to remain engaging. Also, that instrumental on “A Devil’s Advocate Corner” is a bucket of flame emojis doused in gasoline.

 
Like a bride on her wedding day, Life In Element is something old and something new; all that Hip Hop is dead shit goes out teh window when you hear younger cats with cohesive projects like this. With enough amazing quotables to create a success Instagram daily quote account (“I couldn’t heal in eth place I got sicker”) and an admirable ear for production, MusicbyKO NEEDS to be on your radar. It’s just good for the soul.

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Video Spotlight: Mean Joe Scheme & Optiks

In this video spotlight, Joe and Optiks discuss the new project, the state of east coast hip-hop, and what to expect from BEAMS. Be sure to check out both singles below, and follow @meanjoescheme and @thisisoptiks on your socials.

NYC artists Mean Joe Scheme and Optiks are putting the finishing touches on BEAMS, their new collaborative project. If “Cannonball” and “Hands Down” are any indication, we’re in for a viscous slice of hybrid hip-hop- a fusion of beats, rhymes, and anxious 2018 energy.

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Eminem: Kamikaze- A Relapse of Epic Proportion

Poor Eminem. He’s damned if he do and damned if he don’t. His last album, 2017’s pop-heavy Revival, flopped by…

Poor Eminem. He’s damned if he do and damned if he don’t. His last album, 2017’s pop-heavy Revival, flopped by way of social media yet wasn’t a total disaster. It moved units and afforded him headlining spots on the summer festival circuit- but it didn’t give the fans what they needed. Or did it?

This conundrum surrounds Eminem’s career. When he’s on there’s only a handful of rappers alive who can compete with his pen and his fury. But when he bogs down projects with introspection- giving us a break from his hyper-aggro screaming at the mic- it feels like we’ve been cheated. Stans can’t deal with the sappy pop-crossovers, and today’s charts simply do not have space for good old-fashioned rap acrobatics. So what’s an aging top-five-dead-or-alive rapper to do?

Marshall Mathers unleashed Kamikaze as his response to the Twitter army (and critics) who condemned him- an unexpected and venomous (although carefully measured) surprise album packed with more syllables than a semester’s worth of English-as-a-second language classes. As we all secretly hoped for, rappers ain’t safe from Em’s verbal barrage of double and triple time bars on Kamikaze, and if you have time to unpack these 13 tracks you’ll find some genuine heat.

Unfortunately, if you really unpack these ferocious bars you’ll find a grumpy old man rapping for the simple sake of reminding us how technically skilled he truly is. The problem is we’ve known that for ages. Reverting back to early 2000’s Eminem complete with the use of “faggot”- his favorite homophobic slur on the otherwise bulletproof “Fall”- does little to contribute to his relevance in 2018.

There are a few maniac standouts on Kamikaze, songs that young rappers should study for the intricate art of word play and cadence (check “The Ringer”, and “Not Alike” featuring Royce Da 5’9). Yet, those lessons are harder to learn when it’s impossible for the listener to catch their breath. For most of the record, Em is in such rapid-fire mode that you absolutely have to run back verses and entire songs to truly digest his messages. Rap nerds and old heads will revel in the task, but is that what the game needs these days? I’d argue no

Kamikaze is a rare full-on barrage of supernatural MC’ing; but it comes and goes without much meaning when the target becomes Machine Gun Kelly-who tweeted about Eminem’s attractive daughter back in 2012. Is there really a hip-hop fan alive willing to side with MGK on this one? And if you’re looking for the most lukewarm, mediocre diss track (possibly ever recorded) check out MGK’s response, “Rap Devil”, a headscratcher that splits its time attempting to discredit Em while simultaneously praising his longevity and abilities. You either want the smoke or you don’t? Like it or not, the whole thing feels like a charade.

Eminem has always carried a chip on his shoulder. When the critics go low, he goes lower. While Kamikaze is far from a low point in what will be viewed someday as a catalog of studio hits and misses, it’s far from the return to form that it was intended to be. He might not be afraid to take a stand, but it’s become tiring trying to figure out exactly who Eminem is standing against.

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#IndieSpotlight: Noah Wright Is Back With His Latest Visual “Cameras”

Noah Wright is on a run with his latest visual, “Cameras,” and we’re here for it!

27-year-old American Cedar Rapids MC Noah Wright is back with another super dope video treatment. First popping onto our radar back in March with his short film “Valley of the Sun” — and with his super dope LP Love, Noah. From opening for Rakim, Rick Ross, Futuristic and working with Young Money’s very own Cory Gunz, he’s definitely on a run, and we’re here for it.

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His latest video for his sure-shot single “Cameras” is next level creative. It begins with a plot reminiscent of the iconic episode of Fresh Prince of Bel Air when Will and Buddy were trying to be in the BBD video being shot while Phil and Viv were away. In this video, the cleaner keeps trying to be in the shot, interrupting the shoot to the point that Noah storms off. That’s the opening skit, though. As the actual video kicks off, we’re introduced to gorgeous models, a luxury car, and that same interrupting cleaner is playing out a virtual reality plotline that eventually intertwines with his performance shots.

It’s the type of creativity we’ve come to expect from Noah who’s been dropping some fire lately. The short and sweet “El Chapo,” which he dropped back in June, and the intensely powerful visual for “No Room” have been building his profile — his quality is next level.

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World Premiere: Hunnid Runs A Heist In New “Money Up” Video

Hunnid, officially drops a visual treatment for his recently released single, "Money Up."

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