Jul 7, 2017

4:44 Review - by @jephtoda

In four years so much can change. Presidential terms end, entertainers come and go, fashion changes, TV shows get canceled. However with all that being said one thing seems to stay the same. Everyone and everything will stop and listen when Jay-Z drops an album. 

4:44 is Hov’s 13th solo studio album and at the age of 47 we were all waiting to hear what he would sound like and if it would connect. At this day and age less and less rappers are actually rapping and many wondered if Jay would follow suit Even more importantly, how it would translate? I'm happy to report that Hov is still Hov and everything he raps is still gold. 

4:44 starts with the self deprecating and shot filled song Kill Jay Z. Although throughout majority of the three minute track he speaks on his own flaws, what sticks out the most is the “shot” that he takes at Kanye. Longtime friends, Jay finally opens up about the frustrations he has with Mr. West and digs into the root of some of their issues. It's safe to say hopes for a Watch the Throne II are dwindling. 

art by Jeff Rose King
"you got hurt because you did cool by 'Ye
You gave him 20 million without blinkin'
He gave you 20 minutes on stage,
But if everybody's crazy, you're the one that's insane"(Kill Jay-Z)

Kanye isn't the only rapper he jabs at on track one. The triple entendre king plays on words also mentioning Future and his dealings with Ciarra, Russell Wilson and their son. Bye Jay-Z he ends. It's almost as if Jay-Z has been an alter-ego this entire time and Sean Carter emerges for the first time in forever. From there he quickly switches gears and kicks some much needed game in The Story of OJ. Hearing an artist dive into how to work your money instead of spend it is refreshing. Hearing it come from a guy who was once notoriously known for balling and being super extravagant is a new feat. The Story of OJ is a message on how to keep it for generations and make your money stretch. The video takes a minstrel show approach, oh the irony.

Jay has a history of a braggadocio flow and talks about expensive wine, classic art, and the finer things in life. Sean Carter is that uncle at the cookout dropping knowledge. For $9.99 he put us all on game about themes of gentrification and generational wealth (okay we know you got that free trial just for this album, we did too). This father like approach of trying to teach us through his mistakes is riddled throughout this whole album.
In some of the songs Hov abandoned prose and rhyme to just tell the truth. Not that he hadn't been honest before but I've never heard The Jigga Man be so vulnerable since maybe Song CryWhether it be infidelity on the title track 4:44 , unity on Family Feud, or independence with Moonlight, the album hits home on so many values and topics that are generally not touched. Without a doubt one of the most personal and helpful Jay albums, 4:44 feels more like a letter that he’s leaving us or even more a will (ironically enough Blue asks “Daddy what’s a will?” on the final track Legacy). After all these years of stunting on everyone it seems like “the greatest rapper ever” wants to part wisdom on us all and help us grow, a fourth blueprint if you will. Well as a fan and admirer I’d like to say thank you Mr. Carter thank you, you’re far too kind.

Jun 20, 2017

Editorial Review: #HERVol2 - @HERMusicx (written by @RamseySaidWHAT)

I have a friend who raps, who doesn't right? He once had this idea for a concept project. It was going to be called, Fame While Anonymous. That album never happened but this concept screams H.E.R. She's an up and coming RCA artist who's gotten co-signs from the likes of Alicia Keys, Wyclef, and Bryson Tiller. H.E.R. is a music blogger's wet dream. Anonymity meets R&B. I think she's one of the purest R&B acts in years. In a genre that is dominated by artists that use subgenre, pitch correction, and different crossover sounds she stands out for those that go back to the true roots of rhythm and blues. It's refreshing to hear someone that's only concerned with the quality of the music vs being a diva. Let's get to it.

Her songwriting prowess is top notch without going over the top. She's clearly someone that's seen some things and been some places that love has taken her. I think anyone that's ever wanted someone so bad it hurts could relate. I wasn't particularly blown away by the lead singles Every Kind of Way and Say it Again. Either way they are sexy as hell. In volume one she did have some joints for the sex set with Focus and Wait For It. You can add these new singles to the bunch. She's never been super vulgar with her lyrics but definitely in your face about what she's going to do and how she's going to do it.

"I wanna love you in every kind of way, I wanna please you no matter how long it takes." (Every Kind of Way)

From track three to track seven is the meat on this project. The rest is potatoes, no need for gravy this project it is seasoned well enough. The middle of the project takes us on a roller coaster of emotions from happiness to melancholy and remorse for failed love. The thing I like about H.E.R. is how vulnerable she is. She attacks the relationship and lets us in no matter what. I think most singers only show one side at a time whether it be happiness or sadness. We see it all. I'd love to interview her one day. I'm curious how much she lets the audience in and how her exes would feel about their most intimate moments being exposed.

Avenue and Gone Away are the standouts on this project content-wise. Avenue seemed like an extension of her remix to Drake's Jungle from the previous project. She mentioned she sometimes borrow her friends car and pull up on her man undercover. Avenue is about her confronting her man.  Gone away is one of those songs that hit the very soul of a lover. She addresses the relationship for what is was. She felt it was one sided and her man wouldn't fight for them. He only wanted to be around for just the good times, and wouldn't apologize for his part in it.

"We were much happier when it was always happy endings." (Gone Away)

The project ends with Lights On. Yes this is another one for the good ole "Get The Drawers" playlist we've all been building for years. I do enjoy that H.E.R retains her mystery and isn't ridiculously nasty. You don't have to wear headphones while listening to this. At the same time it's clear as day what she's talking about. This song is fire, period.

I think you would enjoy Vol 2 more if you listen to it directly after listening to Vol 1 (which I am already certifying as a classic). My only quarrel with Vol. 2 is it isn't as cohesive as the first. It's weird but with Vol 1 you can put the entire thing on shuffle and it sounds the same as if you started with track one. Vol. 2 is cohesive in it's own right but has to be played in order or it just won't work. If you want to like the sequel, you can't compare it to the former, respect it as it's own body of work. Her production is top notch and I love how her music is mixed. I can't really tell if she sings her own background reaching into tenor range or if she has a male vocalist. She's an alto who can falsetto into soprano and riff down the ledger lines into tenor. She doesn't do the most and trust me, a lot of artists do. I'm really only worried about one thing with her. She has released two projects now and both of them are EPs. The first was seven songs and 22 minutes, and the second was eight songs lasting 27 minutes. She held my attention for less than a half hour twice with great success. How well could she last on an LP? Would the overflow of emotion be overwhelming and boring or would she thrive with more time and possible skits? Could we expect visuals one day? Either way, I'm super intrigued by uncovering the mystery of H.E.R. I want to know if she's really this Gabi Wilson like the rumors suggest or if she's someone completely different. Ironic because H.E.R stands for Having Everything Revealed as she told the LA Times. H.E.R. isn't the first anonymous act out. The Weeknd, Sia, and even Goldlink have all adopted less visible monikers before they came out to the public. I wonder if this new tour with Tiller and Metro Boomin will lead to her walk to the spotlight. Only time will tell. H.E.R. Vol 2. gets 3.9 of 5 stars on the Ramsey Rating Scale. Listen to it in it's entirety after the break and leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

Jun 1, 2017

#NJLive2 Presented by @GStateHipHop (a Recap by @RamseySaidWHAT)

Rodney Coursey (founder of GardenStateHipHop.com)
Let's take a trip. This time to uncharted territory. From Newark you have take 78 to parkway south. No diss but you have to go south of Plainfield once in awhile to the place you think doesn't exists, Central Jersey. Take Exit 102 and go east. It's a straight shot to the place you want to be. Look familiar? You probably spend every holiday weekend around these parts for the bars and the beach. Welcome to a place with a historic music scene, Asbury Park. It's the hometown of Wendy Williams, the house built by the Boss Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi but on the 31st of May, the home of Garden State Hip Hop.

“Asbury Park is known for its rock ‘n’ roll roots, but Garden State Hip-Hop will bring awareness to a growing hip-hop scene at the Jersey Shore.” Rodney Coursey(to the Asbury Park Press)

Standing Room Only at The Saint in Asbury Park
For just ten dollars you could have been a part of history. The Saint was packed like sardines. Before even seeing the bill I immediately knew that Joe College had to be on the lineup if you're doing it at the shore. I've seen College perform a few times and if you listen to him he has a smooth nonchalant but braggadocio to him. Nothing about his performance was nonchalant this past Wednesday. I did this only to find out he was headlining the event and he did just that. He performed some oldies but goodies but mixed in some new tracks like All I Want and You Think I Didn't but I Did featuring Shelsie. Along with Avery Rose Puryear, Solo For Dolo, New Star, Dane the Beautiful Monster, and OFFTOP, Main Street in AP was buzzing. Each act lent their voice, beat, and talent to make this a vibe you won't soon forget. As the show progressed every act just kept getting better and better. When it was Joey's time to step up to the mic I must admit I was worried. He still found a way to appease the crowd and somehow steal the show. I must say it was an incredible task to upstage all the really, really dope acts that went on before him. Coursey calls him the best act in the shore and probably one of the best in the tri-state. Bold words. After this performance I must say I agree. There's been so much growth since he first hit the scene, his sound, the subject matter, all of it. Dude even blessed us with a live band which in my opinion makes any set 100 times better.

Joe College performing with Qwik at The Saint in Asbury Park
I sometimes like to think myself of a historian of the genre especially around these parts. What I've saw and experienced firsthand was that this general vicinity just wasn't ready for hip hop and the unfortunate stigma attached. With that being said I'm still amazed at the turnout for what happened on an overcast Wednesday night at the shore. It was a night of many firsts. I don't think I've ever seen that many women at an underground hip hop show EVER. Besides, this is May, not July and not the weekend. I'm not sure if you get it. NJ Live 2 was a monumental event. This is bigger than just a hip hop show. This is the door open for the culture to flourish live and in stereo, front and center. So it's root, root, root for the home team. So salute to one of the good guys and gatekeepers, Rodney C. Shoutout to the Garden State Hip Hop crew, DJ Ronnie Rayz for spinning and everyone that brought hip hop to the seven trey deuce. One day we'll all remember it was at The Saint where it all began around here. If you weren't there you flat out missed out. It's been a long time coming and something tells me it won't be the last time we bring waves to the waves.

May 31, 2017

Watch: JustMyImagination - @TheJaeAlexander

Jae Alexander is a singer-songwriter hailing from our nation's capital. At first glance it's safe to say he's influenced by Musiq Soulchild especially regarding his song titles.

JustMyImagination is track five off his year old project, AllOutOfApologies. It wasn't until recently when the video released and the concept is fire. The beginning sample of the classic Temps joint in conjunction with the chords on the keys make this ballad complete. The military brat sports a nice voice with a hell of a story to tell. At times I feel like he may add an extra syllable or two at the end of some measures, but that's an easy fix. Not much pitch correction either, what you hear is what you get. Jae Alexander is so natural I'd really love to see him perform this live to see how much better it'd be than the studio version. Maybe there is hope for singers that actually sing. There's nowhere to go but up for this kid. Stay tuned for another visual to follow this one up. Check out the video to JustMyImagination after the break.