Aaron Hall’s “Don’t Be Afraid”…Give These Lyrics a Second Listen

So I’m stuck in Cali traffic with a giant smile on my face because I’m literally jamming to a ’90s mix of music until Aaron Hall’s “Don’t Be Afraid” came on, and shit got real.

Maybe I’ve been watching too much Law & Order SVU, but me thinks me hears the song of a rapist. I’m just sayin’…read the words and sing along.

Elite Eight Rappers of Right Now

Since Sundjata and I were DJs at our college radio station (and actually long before that), we’ve had a penchant for categorizing, listing, and ranking our favorite rappers. While an exhaustive list of, well, anything, is difficult to compile, if you asked me who the most sonically enjoyable and lyrically consistent mc’s were, I’d have to go with those below.

Before I unveil my list, let’s talk criteria.  I only have two: style and substance. Simply put, style is how you rap.  Substance is what you rap about. By mentioning style, perhaps my golden era roots become apparent, as I actually remember when guys used to spit multiple bars detailing the intricacies of their style. Some of rap’s great style gurus have been Old Dirty Bastard, Busta Rhymes, and I’d even throw in Nicki Minaj. For me, a verbally ambidextrous rapper who makes an effort to reveal his/her own persona is better than someone whose songs and delivery sound like they could be easily switched out with those of Anonymous Radio MC #7. Clever and witty word and figurative language usage gets you points here as well. An English teacher could have a field day with the double entendres and symbolism in the lyrics of, say, Jay Z and Lupe Fiasco (which is why they both make the list). Continue reading

Top 10 albums of the 2000s

Debatable?  Of course.  But I’d ride for and with these picks:

10. Kendrick Lamar: Section .80.  Lamar must be the younger cousin of a cat who was really into Project Blowed and the Good Life back in the day, because he spits like a modern day combination of Aceyalone and Ice Cube.  He’s the dopest on the West Coast right now (but Locksmith is on his ass).

9. Kanye West: Late Registration.  This album is crazy celebratory and infectious, the beats bang, and the concepts are dope (Diamonds are Forever, anyone??).  Plus, who else could put Lupe, Common, Game, and Hov on the same album?  Incredible. Continue reading

Fela!

Fela Kuti

My girlfriend and I saw Fela! at the Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles, and if you haven’t made time to catch this musical, you are doing yourself a disservice.  Never before have I been so engrossed and enthralled with a story that I didn’t want it to end.

You may check out your favorite website for information on Fela Anikulapo Kuti, but let me say that his story is one of musical genius, revolutionary action, and a celebration of what it means to be Black (not just African).  Aaannnd of course, his story includes a bit of drug abuse and womanizing too–few leaders have been able to avoid those vices.  Still, his story does remind me a bit of the movie Amandla! (look it up!).  One thing is for sure, music can be a weapon.

Fela! is amazing and a must-see!  The performers did an amazing job.

Big up! to Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter (he deserves to be known by his government name on this one) and Will & Jada Smith for being executive producers for this musical.  I really appreciate them doing that.