Jan 12, 2018

#ASideBSide Podcast presented by #WTM Episode 001 #AOTY2017

The piece that brought you all here is back. Album of the Year: The 2017 Edition.

Some years fall short, some blossom. This year was the latter and outstanding for music. Instead of writing a long drawn out piece counting down the top five I enlisted some help for this one. Charles Polk, Kyle Gill and myself give you our pilot episode of A Side/B Side Podcast presented to you by What's The Movement. In this episode we break down the top five hip-hop albums this past year. Same deal as always: Flow, Lyrics, Production, Impact, and uniqueness is how we rate our top five. I won't spill too much. I just need you to feel this. Press play below.

Jan 10, 2018

Review: XXVII: Nowhere - @SpecKaymusic

"Twenty Seven 'til I touch heaven." 

I've known Spec Kay for about five years now. In our private conversations it gets a little deep. Car accidents, dodging death by hurricane, the ratchet shorties from down the hall, losing women, getting high or creating random Bacardi Gold drinks on Wednesday nights knowing we had class the next morning. You know, the usual early twenties stuff. In 2013 we actually lived together. We listened to a lot of music that year by way of a splitter he had on deck. The soundtrack was usually GKMC, Cruel Summer, Indicud, and anything produced by Timbaland or Daft Punk. I knew then that the most important moments were when our speakers played our own soundtracks. On one end of G34 in Hillside Hall, Kareem was laying down the percussion on a looped unorthodox 80's folk music sample. My Logitech speakers were disconnected this time as I'm typing away code for the beginning stages of this here website. In retrospect, we both created something legendary about ten feet away from each other.

Fast forward to now. Our secret conversations from within our dorm are now shared with you all. Mine by way of twitter banter, tumblr questions, and this here blog. His, an album. XXVII follows the same theme as his first two full lengths. The roman numerals depict his age each time. This is the first one that had a name outside of his age. Nowhere kind of fits as far as the mood. Let's get to it.

The phone rings, as the Roselle emcee has a conversation with a friend. Spec' Kay sounds stressed and just needs to get something off his chest. Part two of Mahalia Jackson's Move On Up a Little Higher comes through your headphones for a moment until her voice is looped, put in a flanger, and distorted. Then the beat takes a futuristic Giovanni Giorgio feel. Welcome to Nowhere gives us a grandioso inauguration to this project of the same name. Before starting his story the Sons of Paterson lead reminds us to pray, as the world a'int looking out for you. The first two tracks serve as the setting of this new story. Chain Gang was the third single that dropped pre-release. Double and triple-entendres lace this track.

"You aint see the years, you aint see the fears. Fuck da fly shit nigga switch gears. Rob a pretty woman and a Richard Gere."

Spec Kay was a film major if you couldn't tell. More on that later. Go/Time dropped earlier as a single as well. As dope as it was by itself it fits the grand scheme better. You can tell he had an idea of what he was going to do before he released it or he finished the whole project before putting out this single. Still dope production, shoutouts to Kory Burrel. The middle of this album is the coming of age story. No Hook is super cinematic. I guess that's the screenwriter in him. You know how you're not the same person as you were a year ago? Spec Kay isn't the man he was at 23, 25 and now 27. The first part of King he goes into a monologue as if it were a Shakespearean play on stage. Afterward he vents over an acoustic guitar chromatic scale and dance percussion. The story changes because the character changes. I really enjoyed this part. With every low comes a high and Celebration is just that. I wouldn't want to put him in a box but for someone to understand I'd compare his cadence to Kid Cudi meets ScHoolboy Q. In other words he sounds like Spec Kay. What's lost on a bunch of artists is finding their own sound. He takes it into his own hands by creating it himself rather than finding it. Yellow Brick Road until What's Now is the perfect stretch to finish a project. The end sounded like something out of  a Zapp & Roger video and I'd love to see a video for it maybe. The track sequence on Nowhere was on a hunna. 

Here's the knitty gritty. We've already spoken about the mix and mastering process. It's difficult at times to decipher words but you can't please everybody. It wasn't bad. It was good, just not amazing. I'd expect more, but I still live with my folks so I understand MixedByAli is not in the budget just yet. Still top notch for most of the cats around these parts. Besides, if we staccato lyrics the feel for some songs change where they should be a little slurred as they are. XXVII boasts no features, and if you can entertain me without help for 46 minutes I'm impressed. His production is dope. I think it's a unorthodox style lost on a lot of us at times. It's unique and frankly I think Spec Kay is brilliant. He's Jersey's best kept secret. The way he samples songs aren't directly in your face. Let me explain, songs like Wild Thoughts blatantly sample Maria, Maria by Carlos Santana. Spec Kay doesn't just completely steal the melody. He may draw a sample from the bridge of a song. Then he'll reverse it, loop it and create his own melody and percussion while a looped vocal or string section will play in the background.  The growth is unreal, trust me I've seen it. Spec Kay is versatile. If you like bars you'll like him. If you like unique obscure samples you'll feel this. There is something for every kind of hip-hop fan in XXVII. Spec Kay is that brand of genius and it's time we paid attention.

Jan 9, 2018

5 Reasons Your Local Rapper's Album Flopped by @RamseySaidWHAT

This topic has been on my mind for a bit now. Often times people ask me for my opinion on their music, I'm still trying to figure out why. Anyways I get mixed reviews of my review. I've found people are sensitive, it's okay I'm an artist too when it comes to this What's the Movement stuff. With that being said I made a pledge that WTM will always remain honest and positive. I don't sugar coat, I don't do favors. If your music is subpar there is no room for you here. WTM only features what's dope, period. Like every mom everywhere says "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." To make this easy this will be the only ounce of negative mention I'll make here. I'll explain as simply as I can on why your music didn't meet your expectations and flat out flopped.

1. Promotion - or lack thereof. This is half the battle. Let's take it back to freshman philosophy:If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? You could drop Good Kid Maad City or Illmatic quality work but if you're the only one who heard it...welp you guessed it, it doesn't matter. WTM Staff Issah says it best, "Snapchat or it didn't happen." Or more simply put:

Get from behind that laptop. Actually go out to shows and meet people in real life. When you do, don't just leave after you (or your favorite artist) set is over. You never know what you'll hear or who's there. You might need that link or email from someone. Get their business card, ask for a feature. Everyone knows someone you don't know. Oh and buying followers is trash. Those fake follows and robot plays on your soundcloud don't mean nothing if no one knows the words to your songs at a show. Just saying.

2. Your album was too long. - Since starting Pass The Aux Radio with my friend Bre from ThaGreyMatter.com this was a recurring theme. I've heard really really good sounding albums but twenty tracks is a lot to sift through. I know you really like that one song that was a two parter on a Timbaland type feel, but do you really need a 7 minute track? Can you hold the audience attention for an entire hour plus. While you're still breaking out consider EPs over LPs. Save the LP when you're signed. Concepts are great when you get the point across and entertain quickly. We are a microwave generation unfortunately. If you got it like that, ignore this rule, do you but reconsider.

3. The project wasn't visually appealing. - Like I just said, we are a microwave gen. We want things fast in a hurry and visually appealing. My friend Brian taught me something the other day. The most effective method of learning is by absorbing information in multiple senses. That means seeing, hearing, and saying aloud. Now all of those college lectures and PowerPoint presentations are making sense. That means you have to put some vision behind your audio. Music Videos, Photos shoots are more necessary than an accessory. Plus some behind the scenes stuff is always dope. "The Making of..." videos are a guilty pleasure of mine and it's a great means of promotion (<--- hint hint, reason 1).

4. You sound just like everyone else. - No one wants to hear the next Drake. He copies everyone anyway (oops). We get it. You're inspired by Meek Mill. Your music spirit animal is Lil Yatchy. That's dope (if you're into that). You wanna know the real reason we don't care? If I want to listen to Future's sound I'll listen to Future, not Earl from down the block. I'm all for supporting local artists but if you can't find your own lane to drive in I gotta merge or we're going to get in an accident. Besides, it's not just you that sounds like Future. It's everyone in your graduating class too.

5. You're a jerk. - Let's face it, you're pretty much a dickhead. You won't make it in this industry with this take and not give attitude. Sure this advice might come from an angsty place but it's an honest one. You won't make it in any industry without allies. If you are an artist of any facet you will face hate. "He's a hater, she's a hater." Sure point the finger because it may or may not be true but self reflect just a little bit. You can't please everyone regardless but you definitely do not need to create enemies for no reason. They don't want to see you win. You can up and buy a helicopter and there will still be people on four wheels saying: "You didn't get that new chopper though." They don't matter. The people that celebrate your accomplishments are the ones you keep on your side. Don't burn bridges without reason. You'll always need someone. Everyone wants to eat. You want a slice of the pie so bad but you missed out on the person willing to give you the recipe. Don't be twitter fingers either, no one respects that guy that doesn't exist in real life. Go back to rule one.

I made it to the end without telling anyone their music is garbage. You should be proud of me. It's hard. I have some gems in the vault and most times I don't reveal them. I mean there are two rules to success: 1. Never reveal everything you know...... This is my service to all the guys recording in their bedrooms using the foam from their mattress as a pop filter. I wanna see you win. I can't guarantee if you avoid  these mistakes you'll pop. This music industry stuff changes all the time but you'll make it just a little bit further than you are right now, I promise. If you have any questions or flat out don't agree with me, tell me in the comment section below. It's time we all had the conversation.

Jan 8, 2018

Listen: Talk to Me, Baby - @iiamsunnie

When it comes to Sunnie I was late to the party so forgive me, all good parties start late anyway.

This is one of the few dance tracks I've heard from the Willingboro songstress and she pulled it off nicely. Talk to Me, Baby is fire. The production sounds like it's from UK. I don't know what they are doing over there but guys like Sam G, Cosmo's Midnight, and Medasin are loosely inspired by this sound. Sunnie's raspy but bright voice compliments the beat beautifully. You knew that already. Talk to Me, Baby after the break. I need you to feel this.

Jan 5, 2018

Listen: Motion - @TheRealTyJack

shot by: RamseySaidWHAT
Let me just say this real quick. Ty is sitting on some heat.

I've gone to a few events in the past month or so and saw him perform a new track twice. I won't give the details but the second he gets into it and does this neck roll, it's over for you and your chick if she's with you. Let's move on to today's listen. Motion with DrewCashhh dropped a month back but it's such a vibe. Time and time again I say Ty's voice is super powerful. Listen to this one in some speakers rather than headphones. Hotbox with shorty to this, it's only right. In the meantime keep a lookout for this new track I can't leak just yet. It's really like that. Motion after the break