March 1, 2011

We've Moved

For nearly two years this has comfortably been my home and while it was awesome, there's a new location for Tha 'A' Side:


February 7, 2011

Video: "J. Dilla: Still Shining" Documentary

The anticipation for this has been building up the last few weeks after Brian "B. Kyle" Atkins announced that he was releasing this project.

"J Dilla: Still Shining" is a project that, according to B. Kyle's Vimeo page, was:

Created in 2006, this remembrance piece is created as a tribute to the memory and legacy of James "J.Dilla" Yancey. This is a piece designed for his fans and supporters who knew of his accomplishments before February 2006 and those that have grown to appreciate his genius. Here, we gain a greater insight and understanding about our musical icon.
If you got an hour to spare (even if you don't make an hour to spare) and check this out.

Dilla Says Go - J Dilla

It's easy to Fall in Love with different musical Players; and throughout the years everybody, from Hoc N Pucky to Beej 'N Dem have tried to Lock It Down.

Many were around only long enough to say Hi. and Bye., but there's always that one You Can't Hold a Torch to, the King of this producing thing, if you will.

First Time I came across this guy was this day, five years ago when Donuts dropped and I remember thinking "this Sounds Like Love, other producers could never make Nothing Like This" only to read in the paper a few days later that he had his Last Donut of the Night.

It is kind of hard to Estimate the amount of People his MPC has affected, but it's crazy how a few Bars & Twists of samples could change hip-hop's History and show the world What It's All About.

They say you never know what you Got 'Til It's Gone,  this is true,  I Don't Know why we Hold Tight and never Take Notice and give them proper Shouts while they're here — maybe one of you can Tell Me. I do know his Friends and The New Waves of fans (like me) won't Stop Scheming to keep The Conversation going and his Lightworks Shining.

The Diff'rence between him and others, he's the producer's producer.

So Give It Up for J Dilla and Think Twice before you deny his talent; and when the next Pay Day comes, take your Milk Money and go cop somethin'.

Happy Dilla Day, y'all.


Flashback: "Move" - Oh No feat. J Dilla & Roc C


Photo: Fantastic

February 2, 2011

#RapTaughtMe, Pt. 1

Initially I was going to do this series on my Tumblr page, but after talking to a few people, it was easier to post it on here. #RapTaughtMe is going to explain why I think rappers and journalists are more alike than they are different. Below is the first post done a few weeks ago.

I love hip-hop … rap … rhyming, whatever you want to call it.

To know me or to know of me that’s the second thing you know about me.

The first thing would be that I’m a writer, journalist, blogger, scribe, nosey (whatever).

Today I realized that rappers and journalists are more alike than I ever thought. This is the first of a few posts, possibly five (maybe more, maybe less), that will talk about why I feel hip-hop and journalism aren’t that different.

The similarities go beyond the idea both use words as weapons and vehemently deliver them to unsuspecting audiences who will either love, hate and repeat the same sentences, slowly infecting other people with what they say.

Let’s start with the supersaturation of both fields. Emcees I know, often talk about how the industry has become overrun with the Waka’s, Gucci’s, Roscoe Dash’s and Soulja Boy’s of the world. They say real MC-ing doesn’t get half as much attention from labels, radio or even rap fans. Emcees hustle for years, decades even, to be heard and here comes a guy who gets his speech chopped and screwed, performs on a hip-hop award show, and everyone is hiding their kids and wives.

Rapper is to Emcee as Blogger is to Journalist.

If you’re in journalism school (and at least a junior), when you entered, your professors were still probably talking about how journalists are trying to decide if they are ready to conform. Seasoned journalists are desperately trying to hold on to the traditional values that have shaped who they are, when the reality is, blogging is where the money is and the quickest way to gain, track and interact with readers.

Blogging made writing famous, which may be why writers tend to hate/discredit bloggers. Bloggers are the YouTube rappers to most journalists, (in a few cases) they didn’t put in half the work, internships or clips many formally trained journalists did, yet they’re taking the few available jobs because a byline with their name on it would attract more readers.

It’s the same as a socially conscious, lyrically awesome rapper making that one song with the catchy hook that downplays their talent because

a) they need some type of money coming in to pay for the studio, the album graphic, etc.

b) it’s what the people want.

It’s a money game and when money gets involved reality hits. No matter how much you love it, at the end of the day bills have to be paid and you have to eat.

It’s the beginning of compromise.

January 9, 2011

New: The Virus - KetchP feat. Guilty Simpson and Xplicit Lyric

It was spring last year around the release of 'Follow the Drip' that I first heard Street Justice and so fondly remember the "you have got to be sh*tting me" responses I got from admitting that.

Not too long ago it was announced that one of the group's members, Ketchphraze, was releasing his solo project at some point this year but to build anticipation and buzz around it, he's leaking joints that he's done until the project's relase.

"The Virus" is the first in a series of leaks and it was produced by Black Milk and features Guilty Simpson and Xplicit Lyric. Sounds like an awesome a** combination right?

January 2, 2011

The Dude - Chuck Good

Chuck Good is back again with another edition of the Red Cup Session.
The hip-hop party and showcase has been going strong for over a year now and kicking off the year is the Red Cup New Year's Edition.

I got the chance to attend the last one (and even wrote about it for RDW), and while Chuck #fries me on the regular to the point I'm sometimes scared to believe anything he says, I really admire the work he has put in.

While the Red Cup sessions have been deemed "high school" by some, it's actually a pretty good showcasing of what younger, aspiring artists are capable of. When the sessions first started, the crowd was made up of about a hundred people, now more than 400 people have been to them and it's expected to keep getting larger.

The Red Cup New Year's Session will be at The Shelter (the basement of St. Andrew's Hall) on January 7th. If you're in high school, it's hte perfect way to destress one more time before classes relaly kick your behind and if you're in college it's a great way to come, kickback, and show support.

Some of the performers include Buzz Burrus, Chip$, GBaby, Jsun, Key Wane, Big Shan, Chuck Good (of course) and more.

The event will be hosted by Lawrence Lamont and the DJ for the evening will be the awesome Ro Spit.

December 31, 2010

Round of Applause - Black Milk

My iTunes library has grown quite a bit in 2010...homegrown, that is.
Of all the albums, mixtapes, songs that I've gotten my hands on this year, about 97% of them have been from a local rapper.

You're not experiencing déjá vu, I've said something similar numerous times. I've been so caught up in Detroit hip-hop this year that I've kind of ignored everything else.
That being said, Rick Ross, The Roots, Big Boi and Kanye have released some pretty good albums this year (from what I've been told :-/ ). So when I decided I'd do my top four favorites, I'd pick my top four Detroit albums, it's only fair.

Why four? Five was too hard (plus I have a thing for even numbers. My blog. My Rules).

Before I get into the top four some honorable mentions are Marv Won's 'Wayne Fontes Music', Street Justice's 'Go HAAM', Nametag's 'The Name Is Tag' and Moe Dirdee's 'M.O.E. (Mark of Excellence)'. I've heard The Left's Gas Mask is pretty awesome, but I haven't heard it yet (I know slacking).

4. Crown Nation - House Shoes presents Blue Mondays/Slut Bag Edition Double EP: I swear people don't talk about Crown Nation enough. Quelle and Denmark Vessey. I've written about these two fellows a little while ago, and stand by my claim that people are heavily sleeping on them. This Double EP, combines the best of both Crown Nation worlds, "Blue Mondays" was Quelle's solo project while "Slut Bag Edition" was a Crown Nation baby. The song that got me hooked was "The Archie Whitewater Interlude" which is on Slut Bag Edition, maybe it's their hip-hop quirkiness mixed with old school flavor and manipulation of simple flows and cool lyrics that makes them dope.

3.Miz Korona - The Injection: Though it dropped back during this summer, I officially got injected November 15 ( I remember the date because I had jury duty that day). I was dead determined to get a hard copy of that album and yes it took that long. Miz Korona is one of the artists I've gotten to know this year; I've seen her perform several times and simply ran into her on a few other occasions. One of the first songs I heard by her was "Like a Zoo," which is featured on this album, and I was pretty much captivated by her rhymes. She attacks bars with a spitfire delivery and pretty excellent word play; it's impossible to listen to The Injection without rewinding a song's verse to make sure you heard her right.  The entire album (with the exception of Cookin') was produced by Chanes, who I have officially stopped sleeping on, and is possibly the best 40 minutes of your life.

2. Danny Brown - The Hybrid: His jeans are tight but his rhymes are tighter. Ok, corny, but Danny Brown is way beyond a lot of his peers and The Hybrid should have been an album I paid for, I feel like I cheated the system. The Hybrid was my first time hearing anything by Danny Brown; I didn't know who he was, what he'd done, nothing. The only thing I knew was that my Twitter timeline was going haywire over this guy's album and I found out why. Danny Brown tells some interesting tales through his lyrics many of which are relatable hood tales like "Thank God" which makes mentions of Bridge and WIC cards or "Juno" which hits the nail on the teen pregnancy head. Production isn't half-assed either,  Red Bull 's 2010 Big Tune Producer 14KT did a track as well as the aforementioned guys of Crown Nation, Mosel, Nick Speed, Chuck Inglish ... The Hybrid bleeds awesomeness.

1. Black Milk - Album of the Year: When Black Milk named this album the last thing he was doing was exagerrating.  AOTY is the best $10 I ever spent. Upon its release, AOTY came in at #129 on the Billboard 200, which is a pretty dope accomplishment. Sometimes when producers decide to step behind the mic it's not always the greatest (and if it is, someone else wrote it for them), but Black did a damn good job lyrically on this album. That could be because producers know their music, they know how to to ride their beats if no one else does. 'Album of the Year' gets personal, as he discusses the passing of Baatin and his aunt and almost losing Hex, but also has hints of cockiness and arrogance. My favorite thing about the album is the beats; Black Milk does this thing with drums, I can't really describe it, but you know that thing I'm talking about if you've listened to it. If he wanted it to be, 'Album of the Year' could have been an instrumental album (but you know how that goes when wack rappers think instrumental albums give them a right to drop wretched 16s, I digress). The only cohesive statement I can make on Album of the Year: it is awesome, Black Milk did an amazing job on it both production and lyrically, and it may be too early to call it, but in a few years AOTY will be on the list of classic hip-hop albums ... even if it's only in the 313.

December 27, 2010

Video: Ooo La La La [Live on Soul Train] - Teena Marie

Well, if you haven't heard by now, legendary blue-eyed soul singer Teena Marie passed away Sunday morning from what appears to be natural causes.

Her daughter discovered her body in the bedroom of the singer's home who passed away in her sleep. It has been reported (though I haven't seen it confirmed anywhere) that she may have passed away after having a seizure (she has suffered from these before).

Teena Marie had one of the most soulful voices. I've seen people referring to her as the "Blackest White Girl" and speaking with my Mom, she said when Teena Marie's album first dropped, her label decided to not put her on the cover because they weren't sure how people were going to react to a White girl with such a powerful voice.

Not sure how true that is, but one could believe it.

Her passing comes about four years after that of Rick James, a constant collaborator.

Now Fire & Desire may rest peacefully.