August 31, 2010

Review: Finally Famous Vol. 3

You may not have been familiar with him before, but by now you know, Big Sean. After months of waiting and several pushed back dates the somewhat highly anticipated Finally Famous Vol. 3 has finally released.

The mixtape is hosted by the infamous Don Cannon, who may be a big name but definitely throws off the mixtape a bit because he talks so much. In fact, it gets to a point where I can't even focus on the music presented because I'm trying to figure out why Don Cannon won't shut the hell up. But from what I've been told, they're supposed to be releasing a DJ-less copy in a few days (Let the people say #Yes).

I digress.

The mixtape has a variety of features, Bun B., Curren$y, Tyga, Chiddy, Mike Posner, Drake and a slew of others. One of the most anticipated songs on Finally Famous Vol. 3 was "Fat Raps (remix)" produced by and features Chuck Inglish of the Cool Kids. It also features, Asher Roth, Chip the Ripper, Dom Kennedy, and Boldy James. Personally, not a fan of the song, I don't think there has ever been a song that I really like that has had more than four artists on it. It makes the song too busy and it's impossible to really focus on what's being said and who's saying it.

*Edit: I was wrong, Binary Star's "K.G.B." ... I like.

I like the fact that Big Sean does keep it Detroit, aside from the namely recognizable performers I previously mentioned, he enlists the help of his Finally Famous comrade SAY IT AINT TONE (you kind of have to capitalize his name) on the witty and entertaining "My Closet," Key Wane, WrighTrax and Maybach Music Group's The Olympicks all lend producing talents on the mixtape. Even the mixtape's cover was shot by a Detroit photographer (Dante Marshall) and designed by a local graphic designer (Tommey Walker) who both have worked with him—and plenty others—before.

There's one more talent that I haven't mentioned and that would be Suai on "Almost Wrote You a Love Song". This is probably my favorite track on the mixtape, Big Sean is a garnish to an already great song (Suai released this a minute ago sans Big Sean). They've shot the video for this (maybe they know just how great this song is too), so I'm kind of anticipating on seeing that. Suai has a great voice and Big Sean does his thing lyrically. There was an alternate version released as well, kind of doper than the one on the mixtape.

Final Thoughts: 3 out of 5.

I've listened to this a few times all the way through, the tracks are arranged well and the transition (without Don Cannon's voice) is very smooth from track to track. Production is good, though I think I liked UKNOWBIGSEAN's production more, Key Wane and the Olympicks definitely shine on this one. It's not a mixtape full of features and while some features aren't that strong (see: "Fat Raps" above) others excel like "Ambiguous" featuring Mike Posner. I still feel like Big Sean is holding back and could be so much better than what he is (hard for some of you to believe I'm sure) but hearing "High Rise" definitely has me convinced it's more there. Overall, it's a solid mixtape and good to hold us over until the album's release.


August 23, 2010

How We Bullsh*t - Slum Village

Did you know: 
  • 1st Down, comprised of Phat Kat and the late J Dilla, were one of the first Detroit hip-hop acts signed to a major label.
  • Awesome Dre and the Hardcore Committee were the first rap group from Detroit to debut a music video nationally.
  • House Shoes DJ'd at the now legendary St. Andrew's Hall for more than a decade.
  • Speaking of St. Andrew's, while this place is famous for the rap battles and performances that used to happen here, The Rhythm Kitchen and the Hip-Hop Shop were also places where local talent was showcased.
  • Before Burn Rubber, there was Spectacles, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year.
  • Word around is that Invincible turned down a million dollar record deal and is now an indie artist who works with a youth group Detroit Summer and put together Detroit by Southwest at this year's SXSW festival.
  • Blogs and sites dedicated to Detroit and Michigan hip-hop have been around for at least 10 years (See: (formerly and
* Edit: Thanks to Mos, and are two sites that should have mentioned, though they're now defunct, they were some of the originators.
  • Before I knew what a headline or AP Style was, Kelley L. Carter was reporting Detroit hip-hop scene for the Free Press and dream hampton was doing her thing on the national hip-hop front.

I'm not even going to hold my breath and ask how many people in my age group knew any of the things I've just mentioned. A topic that is constantly brought up is the older generation and this new generation and the communication, or lack thereof, between the two groups.
#Pow to James over at DSE @ Grand

My time has been split between the young and old,  events I've gone too have had an abundance of one or the other, never an equal amount of both. Last week, Tuesday to be exact, was the first Bowling Shoes, a monthly event House Shoes is throwing at Garden Bowl in the Majestic Complex. It would have been the perfect opportunity for the young to get familiar and introduce themselves to the older ones and guess what? Nobody to be found. I did see Illingsworth from Detroit CYDI and Blaksmith from Cold Men Young, but that's about it.

We're very quick to say that the older ones don't respect us and have no interest in even getting to know who we are, yet we don't even try.

Yes, I say we, because I am a part of this new wave as well. My job is to chornicle all of the accomplishments of this group not only for Detroit and the rest of the world, but for the next generation that will be following ours in a few years. However if we continue on the egotistical path that we're on, we will soon enough be forgotten. There is a self-created glass ceiling hanging over Young Detroit as the egos have turned us into a mini-Hollywood full of champagne wishes and caviar dreams.

Of course, I'm not pinning ALL the blame on us, because I do think it will take a bit of reaching on both sides in order to fill this gap in our community. It definitely seems like the older group is sort of on an elite status, unapproachable and definitely not willing to help.

But, I know better. It's a matter of putting aside the ego and humbling yourself to be able to learn from them. It will surprise you just how open and nice many of them are.

I'm not going to type this and act like it's not happening out here, the camaraderie of young and old: I love the fact that Royce Da 5'9 and Lola Damone dropped through The Air Up There, that Ro Spit performs, attends and support young Detroit events, that Quest MCODY let Phresh Heir, Clear Soul Forces, Yung GooD, JFin (and many others) perform at a benefit for his foundation and that Invincible and Finale mentor FowL.

Detroit is a city full of undeniable talent, a diamond in the rough if you will, but talent shouldn't be ignoring other talents. Not everyone will be willing and open to communication, all I'm saying is it has to start somewhere.

Happy Monday.

Music Video: Too Easy - Ro Spit

So is today Detroit's day to premier video joints? I'm not complaining, next we have Ro Spit, who I'm assuming most of you are quite familiar with. If you're not you have probably been sleeping under Mount Everest, the guy that brought us "Renaissance State of Mind" has brought us another video off The Oh S#!t Project. The video, "Too Easy" was directed by Chicago's Davy Greenberg and is so simple yet cool (which I've noticed a lot of Ro's video's tend to be this way). Without further adieu, Ro Spit "Too Easy".

Ro Spit - Too Easy (Official Music Video HD) from Davy Greenberg on Vimeo.

Music Video: Deadly Medley - Black Milk

Every time I hear Royce Da 5'9, Black Milk and eLZhi on a track together (whether Black is producing and eL and Royce are dropping lyrical bombs on the beat or if it's some Black/eL, Black/Royce, or eL/Royce combo) I always think of a clash of the titans. They are some of the best (and most underrated) lyricists around and your favorite rapper knows it. These three are some of my favorite rappers ever, not just in Michigan, but period.

They did the song "Real Hip Hop" for Royce Da 5'9's Bar Exam 3 and now they have teamed back up for "Deadly Medley" which will be on Black Milk's upcoming album, Album of the Year. Besides this album being one of the most anticipated albums of the year (at least for me) I have been dying to hear this song. One of my pipe dreams is for Black Milk, Royce and eLZhi to team together for a project...but then I think they would shut the industry completely down. Enough jabber, here's the video for "Deadley Medley":

August 19, 2010

Blue Mondays - Quelle

*Alex Note: This was originally written/posted 8.10.2010 as the test post*

"The Archie Whitewater Interlude"

Quelle and Denmark Vessey make up Crown Nation, maybe you've heard of them, maybe you haven't.

In case of the latter, they're a pretty dope Detroit duo (how's THAT for alliteration?) that has been causing quite a stir since 2006. I haven't placed exactly what it is about them that makes them so appealing. Maybe it's because they embody a classic hip-hop sound with a new school twist sprinkled with some dope lyrictry (my blog, my made-up word). It could also have to do with their production talents which is how I even stumbled across them in the first place (Denmark Vessey produced eLZhi's "Flyest" and well, you all can figure that one out).

"The Ghost Awards"

They've been supported and endorsed by some pretty hip-hop heavy people and recently they teamed up with House Shoes to release Slut Bag Edition/Blue Mondays Double EP (with hand drawn covers by Quelle himself). The vinyl is a limited edition and after seeing people say they've ordered 2 or 3 copies, the 500 records will be going ... fast.

My advice to you would be to order yours HERE before they all go bye-bye. Even if they have all sold out, You still might want to order a copy of Blue Mondays or Slut Bag Edition ... unless you like your iTunes to be depressing. Also, I remember watching this YouTube video they posted a few months ago (and after aimless Googling) I found it and thought you should check it out.

August 18, 2010

Lose Yourself - Eminem

Freestyling is a lost hip-hop art form. Battle rap has lost that zing it once had.

Until Now.

Earlier this summer, Red Bull and Eminem teamed up for a nationwide quest in search of the best freestyle rapper out there.  The contest kicked off in early June in the Big Apple, New York City, since then, the competition has made stops in the Bay Area, Philly, Orlando, Atlanta, Greensboro (yes, North Carolina) and Houston.

Now the finalists from each city will be ending their journey for battle rap honors at the legendary St. Andrew's Hall in Downtown Detroit on August 26th. There, the Red Bull EmSee champion will be crowned.

It's more than just another rap battle, Slaughterhouse (comprised of Royce Da 5'9, Crooked I, Joell Ortiz and Joe Budden) will be performing and Marvwon and Dre the Beatnik will be the hosts for the evening.

Doors open at 9 p.m. and the event is 18+. Tickets will be sold at the door but no word on if they're going to be available in advance (I'll keep you guys posted).

*EDIT: Tickets are on $8 and on sale NOW at

The only thing that hasn't been set in stone is who the judges of the event will be and the rumor mill is buzzing with names like Mr. Porter, Alchemist and even Eminem has been thrown out there. Guess we won't know for sure until it all goes down next week at St. Andrew's.

*Edit: It's been confirmed that Eminem will indeed be at St. Andrew's this night. The better question is, will you?

Peep the video below of Mr. Slim Shady talking about the comepetition, hope you all are ready.

Also check out the previous battles in New York and San Fran:

August 16, 2010

Gone in September - Mike Posner

So I'm still working on switching over to Wordpress in the meantime this is still my blogging home.
(sidenote: Check out my test post on Wordpress featuring Crown Nation). The video blog itself is actually really short, the rest is all Mike Posner footage I've had just sitting on my hard drive and never did anything with. Also included is a word of advice to college freshmen (and upperclassmen who've missed the memo).  Happy Monday!

*More Posner at the end, it's seriously about five minutes total of clips that I have. #shrug #harddrivehoarder.


Post-hiatus ramble. from Alex Washington on Vimeo.

August 6, 2010

Video: All Eye Know - Magestik Legend

Magestik Legend has released the video for his new song "All Eye Know". It was shot by Gerard Victor (who has also directed eLZhi's "Deep", Ro Spit's "RSOM" and Illite's "Burn"). "All Eye Know" is produced by Astronote and on his mixtape 'To Be Continued ... Chapter 1' (which you might want to check out, get that here). I love everything about this Michigan star-studded video, the concept is so simple but executed very creatively.

Detroit Summer - Invincible and Waajeed

Recently I have become obsessed with vinyl records. A vinyl makes some songs sound that much better, it's almost as though you can feel what the musician is feeling more with wax than you can an .mp3 (Let's not forget that crackling sound they can give off).

I'm not the only one that's getting back in touch with records, according to a 2010 Nielsen report, vinyl sales for 2009 increased by 33 percent.

Well hip-hop is going back to it's waxy roots... actually it never left quite a few people still have records pressed (just peep Stones Throw's store).

Invincible, who I have written on before, and Waajeed (Platinum Pied Pipers anyone?) are releasing the Detroit Summer 7" this month. I already pre-ordered mine and you can too, here.

This is more than just them releasing a 45, it's a real Detroit project. What's really cool is that Invincible and Waajeed have been releasing behind the scene videos that are a mix of a history lesson and getting the anticipation up for the release.

This first video is a look at the records getting pressed at Archer Record Pressing in Detroit. It's a three generation pressing plant that has even done work during the Motown era.

Invincible + Waajeed: Manufacturing "Detroit Summer" 7" @ Archer Record Pressing from EMERGENCE Media on Vimeo.

The second is a behind the scene look at the filming of their music video... There's even a cameo by DPD, watch how that goes :-/

Invincible + Waajeed - The Making of the Detroit Summer Video from EMERGENCE Media on Vimeo.

August 5, 2010

Bare Witness - Slum Village

Slum Village. Phat Kat. First Down. J Dilla. House Shoes. DJ Dez. Black Milk. Guilty Simpson. Invincible. Fatt Father. Finale. 

(Still love this shirt)
I'm back from my "hiatus," during the month of July I was pretty much submerged in the Slum Village happenings. Part because the fan in me wanted to know what the hell was happening, part because the reporter in me HAD to find out what the hell was happening (Speaking of which if you haven't read it, check out my story for Real Detroit Weekly). I could go on and on about all the things I learned, but this post is about much more than that.

Detroit, What the f**k are we doing?

I know you're confused, but while I was working on the Slum Village story I noticed that out-of-state and international fans cared more about what was going on than the people in the city. Thus bringing back up the theory about Detroit being a follower market. It amazes me that eLZhi, Phat Kat, Black Milk and others can tour overseas, packing venues, performing for thousands of people and come back home where they're nobody.

Complete strangers, not only to the radio (revisit my rant from last summer to know my feelings on that) but to the city itself. Detroit hip-hop is a secret society (#noIlluminati), if you don't know someone in it or who to talk to, you won't know anything about it.

On the other hand, I don't think the younger generation  knows exactly what the older ones have done. I understand that some of the Vets (as I call them) can be mean and may not even try to communicate with the newbies. However, there are younger ones who expect respect to be automatic and for everything to be handed to them, they also seem to think that the Vets are just bitter souls. 

Let me ask: If you were putting on for a city, for 10 or 15 years, that continued to ignore your contributions and then have arrogant newbies coming into the scene that don't even care about the legwork you put in so things can be easier for them, wouldn't you be "bitter" as well?

I'm straying. The original thought about the Detroit market came from a post on Hex Murda's blog where he described a hip-hop show in Norway. He talks about the unity over there and how hip-hop is cherished and respected (not his choice of wording but a pleasant gist). I've heard that people overseas, who don't speak a lick of English, can rap to a Black Milk song almost as good as Black himself.

Why isn't it like that here?

I've taken advantage of being able to interview people and asked Phat Kat and House Shoes why they thought hip-hop was more received over there than here.
It's still new over there; over here it's all watered down or whatever. We're force fed and people accept what you give them and over there people are just getting fresh up on the music. They appreciate it more, I hate to say it, but that's the difference.
Europe is much more open-minded than America, if you just look at Detroit ... It’s really hard to just put a finger on what it is, but they’re not as stupid as the people over here. Black Milk is anonymous in Detroit to the general population. Slum Village is anonymous, only time you ever heard them on the radio was during traffic and weather. Nobody in Detroit knows who J Dilla is, to this day. You reach out and travel the globe and at the end of the day you get a feeling of “Fuck Detroit” — unfortunately. We got our little hip-hop scene here of maybe four or five hundred people but the main mistake that keeps them stuck in the city is trying to be embraced by a city that really doesn’t care about good music.
- House Shoes (July 2010)

Is that the problem? Does Detroit not care? Have we given up on trying to reach out to the city or are we not trying hard enough?

I don't know.

What I do know is Detroit is home to many gems and it took Drake to shout out J Dilla for a close friend of mine to say "Isn't that the guy you talk about all the time?"
It's a sad thing, and what's worse, nothing is going to be done about it. We rant, rave and tweet all day long but once we log off we continue on with our lives until the next scandal.  I personally believe that the Detroit scene would be so much better if we set aside the egos and actually helped each other, but I feel like that's a pipe dream full of empty promises (#Word to Finale, love that album). 

Ghandi once said "Be the change you want to see in the world"

How about we apply that concept to Detroit as well.

Happy August.
Alex Washington