Hip Hop Mix Tape – Part Two of Two

Here’s part two of the hip hop of review.

I’m already reflecting on my comments from last entry. I react positively to an interesting structure and a song that’s ‘going somewhere’ or building up to something. For rap there’s a mental adjustment to be made. Often it’s about enjoying the churning, looping beats and the rapping as they exist in the moment. Hopefully I articulated that point in way that makes sense.

Also, lyrics are always a lesser concern for me. My love for music is for the music. Ideas and stories are great, but they can never take first place for me.

Hopefully that gives some context to where I’m coming from. Anyway, on with the review…

14. Threats – Jean Grae

I didn’t mind this. The looping samples of the powerful female singing certainly make themselves know. Having male and female rapping helps keep it interesting. In general, I love all the guest rapper stuff in Hip Hop. Check out Niki Minaj on Kanye West’s ‘Monster‘ for a stellar example..

(see Niki looking silly in the photo below)

15. Optimist – P.O.S

I really liked the other P.O.S song ‘Never Better‘. This one didn’t rock my world as much. Part of the percussion sounds like Mr P.O.S brought a mic into his kitchen and had some fun. The sounds diversify a bit as it goes on. I wonder if I’d like their whole album?

16. Burn Down The Parliament – The Herd

Ok… so… Aussie Hip Hop. I have a lot of hate for this particular corner of the musical world. It’s over exposed via triple j. It also runs with an ocker/bogan style. This strikes me as a lame attempt to give A-Hop a meaningful culture in a way similar to American Hip Hop.

Musically, it’s simple and boring.  The better songs have their moments. However hold a track up to the best of the American scene and they local stuff seems awfully amateurish to me.

17. The Love Song – K-OS

To be honest, I kept getting this track confused between ‘On Our Way’ and ‘Pursuit Of Happiness’. Like those songs, it’s of the “Laid Back Hip Hop” sub-genre. More interesting than Chiddy Bang, but not on the same level as the Kid Cudi track. I liked the sitar and the way the rapping breaks out into clean singing. It’s a track that always wins me over by the end of its running time.

18. Strikes – Jean Grae

I would give this one better marks if I could actually tell what happens in the end. See, it’s a story of the girl who goes to a diner and she’s bleeding from a gun shot or something (I think). And there are cops in the diner and they are watching her and… Is she gonna get caught or not? I DON’T KNOW! She looks out the window and says ‘Oh shit’ and then it sorta drifts off to the end.

Of all the songs here, this one was most effective at getting me to pay attention to the lyrics and listen to the story. The music is also good.

19. Way Down – N.A.S.A

This one is really cool. Lush sorta music, sorta like Portishead when they are feeling in a good mood. The RZA is a funky rapper who I recognise from the KIll Bill sound tracks. And to top it off there’s a weird wooo-ahahahahah bit. Plus all these bits come together to make the whole thing work.

20. Wash It Down – K’naan
Points for originality here. The beats are the noises of people washing. The rapping has a strange up and down style. I appreciate it in a way similar to that Saul Williams track. It works in the mix because it has a such a different feel to contrast against the other songs.

21. 77% – The Herd

More Aussie Hip Hop. This one mixes its boring music with extra gimmicky swearing.

22. Can U C The Pride In The Partner – Mos Def

This one’s interesting. One of the shortest tracks on the playlist. The music reminds me of being at a barn dance or something old fashioned. The singing has a weird pace to go along with it. Not sure exactly whether I like it or not. Strange.

23. Self Taught – Brother Ali

I’ve touched on this with a few other tracks (like ‘Bad Man‘) but I feel this song represents the stock standard Hip Hop song. We see

  • the steady loop with a repeating high pitched loop, in this case a flute melody which hits a high note
  • the boasting about how the rapper is awesome and is better than all the other rappers
  • the loop loops, the rapping does its thing and generally the song doesn’t go anywhere

Having said that, I didn’t mind this track. WHile I’m getting a feel for the common structures and elements of Hip Hop, a good execution can make a song shine.

24. Smart Went Crazy – Atmosphere

I’d consider this another standard Hip Hop structure like ‘Self Taught‘. The loop has a guitar doing some noodling in the background. It’s fleshed out with a some female vocals and maybe a few other guys doing backing vocals. Doesn’t quite have the energy of Brother Ali, but feels a bit more fleshed out with sounds.

25. This Or That – Illy

[WARNING!] I’m not gonna beat around the bush on this one.

Hated it. Everything annoying about young Australian bogan males distilled into 3 minutes. I won’t listen to it again.

26. Coochie – Blakroc

I’m not sure what I’m supposed to say about a song called Coochie sung by Mr Ol’ Dirty Bastard. I suppose it sorta makes me laugh. Pretty silly tho.

Musically it’s actually cool with a echoy guitar sound. Some brief research tells me that it’s a blues rock band called The Black Keys doing the sound. I’m surprised about the amount of guitar samples through this play list in general. I didn’t expect that.

I’ll put some final thoughts… in another blog entry… SOON!

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