Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

After nearly a year of flirting, I finally made that commitment-I bought Spotify Premium. Two days in, its already easily one of the best investments I’ve made in awhile. So instead of just hoarding this wonderful digitized music, I’ve decided to share with my readers my first impression of some classic albums. First is up is Mr. Scarface is Back, by Brad Davis, better known as Scarface of The Geto Boys.

This underground classic was release in October of 1991, approximately a month from my sixth birthday. Needless to say, I missed it on the first go-around.

This album plays out like a novel. Each song is its own nuanced chapter in the story of a Crack-Era hustler. These aren’t just gritty tales of gangster glorification, though that is a part of Mr. Scarface (see The Pimp). Scarface touches on a broad range of issues that the Black community and America are still dealing with 22 years later. One can’t help but listen to Born Killer and not feel like you’re peaking into the mind of some of the perpetrators of

“My momma did her part/ But it ain’t her fault that I was born with out a heart/ In other words I’m heartless dude/ I don’t love me, how the fuck I’mma love you?/ Thats right, you guessed it/ I’m legally insane, marked mannick depressive/I’m takin all types a medication/To keep me out the mood of premeditatin/ Yo, the log around my lone is worse/ I’m havin thoughts of killin me, but I’m killin you first/ Mr. Kindness talks but I don’t listen”

The centerpiece of the album is Diary Of A Madman. At just over three minutes, its one of the album’s shorter tracks, but perhaps brevity is its strength. As the title suggests, Scarface takes us into the mind of a mentally ill young man whose life is spiraling out of control.

“To myself I’m a stranger/ Walking in the foot steps of danger/ It’s a long path ahead of me/ I gotta get somewhere cause everybody here is scared of me/I had a job but they fired me/ My wife walked out now I’m living in my diary.”

Money And The Power is also another standout track. Scarface takes us into the mind of a dope dealer who pursues both with cold and reckless abandon, even bragging about sleeping with the same woman his brother is involved with. Fellow Geto Boys Willie D. and Bushwick Bill provide an eerily seductive chant that lighten the mood just a little.

The album closes with two solemnly irreverent tracks. A Minute To Pray And A Second To Die is a brutal tale of senseless killing and retribution while brilliantly sampling Marvin Gaye’s Inner City Blues and What’s Going On. The album’s finale finds the protagonist dealing with the same fate that many of his colleagues face: Death. I’m Dead  is a humorous take on a grim situation. Wakes up to find that he is dead. His picture is on a mantle with the familiar “Rest In Peace” inscribed on it, his mother and his child’s mother grieving them as they hold his son.

Simply put, Scarface’s debut is still pretty relevant. Its equal parts it’s mostly drama and action, with doses of comedy and maybe a little porn. Definitely worth a good listen.

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Gerald Walker's new mixtape, "Believers Never Die," gives us a glimpse of what hip-hop's future could be.

Some time during college, I realized that I had pretty much given up on hip-hop. The new-school stuff anyway. Save for pretty much Kanye West’s entire discography, the majority of my iTunes was filled with 80s and 90s R&B and Hip-Hop.It was cool for awhile, you like what you like, right?I mean it’s not like I grew up on rap.

My parents didn’t believe in allowing my brothers and I to listen to music with explicit lyrics as a kid, so most of the hip-hop of the day was off limits. They kinda relaxed the rules once we got to high school. Pretty much as long as they didn’t hear it, we were cool. That’s when I discovered classics like Illmatic, Doggystyle, The Chronic, etc. This was also the time of The Blueprint, College Dropout and Get Rich or Die Trying, Stankonia etc. so at this point I had high expectations for hip-hop. Needless to say watching it devolve into Snap Music and Trendy Dances was a big downer.

Every now and then, though, I find a rapper who resonates with me. In 2009-2010, it was J. Cole. Last year, I came across this kid from Milwaukee named Gerald Walker. His mixtape The Other Half Of Letting Go was engagingly mellow, his flow somewhere between Krazy Bone and a young J. Cole. A few weeks ago I saw he had a new mixtape, Believer’s Never Die. I downloaded it, put a few tracks on my iPod, and let it sit for a few days.

Lot of good joints on this one. I really dig his athletic references (My personal favorites: It’s me hoe/Rap Tim Tebow/In this game full of sheep, I’m a shepard like Lito” and “Trying to ball like Kobe/But you niggas Rodney Stuckey) My favorites include the title track, Zero to Sixty87 Corvette Wishes (featuring a sick guest spot by Phil Ade) and Um, Excuse Me Miss. But Walker really shines on the Some Things Never Wash Out, where he references Boo Radley, Eminem and Michael Jordan in the same song and makes it sound coherent. Here’s a sample:

“Not every nigga smoke weed/Not all niggas are in jail/Not every man has a gun/Not every mother does her job/Not every father is a bum/Not every old man is wise/ Not every foolish nigga’s dude is young/Not every priest is a saint/Not every blonde chick is dumb/ It’s like I’m fighting battles that I’ve already one.”

If a guy as talented as Gerald Walker doesn’t blow up in the next year or so, hip-hop is in more trouble than I thought it was a few years ago. Seriously.