detroit, hip-hop, j dilla, mr wrong, rebirth is necessary, rebirth of detroit, tone plummer, video

Video: J Dilla feat. Tone Plummer & Mr. Wrong – Rebirth Is Necessary

Anything that involves J Dilla automatically gets featured here. The latest visuals off of the Rebirth of Detroit project have released today, and they’re matched with one of my favorite tracks heard on the album. Rebirth is Necessary focuses on Detroit’s troubles and how the people of the city are struggling to survive. This song was already haunting enough, thanks to Dilla’s sampling of Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso’s Italian prog rock song, Nothing’s The Same. Now that there’s video to go along with Rebirth is Necessary, the creepiness of the instrumental is greatly intensified. This is really an eye opening song. Detroit rappers are always in a league of their own when it comes to their verses. They manage to keep the hood aspect, but their words are often very profound and real. Case in point, Tone Plummer and Mr. Wrong’s topics are completely essential to the power that this song gives off. Their words, matched with the instrumental, tell a story that needs to be heard. Things are bad in Detroit, but as Brandon Lockheart recently told me, “Detroit is like the phoenix, only she doesn’t know it yet.”

assembly line, brooklyn, hip-hop, j dilla, new york, permanent vaay'k, sha'ir, video

Video: Sha’ir – Assembly Line

The magic of J Dilla strikes again. Have you ever heard anyone sound bad on a Dilla instrumental? If so, please send that my way. I’ve come to believe that Jay Dee’s beats are so universal, that they match anybody’s sound and style. Brooklyn based hip-hop trio, Sha’ir is the latest proof of successfully recycling a Dilla produced track. Sha’ir took the classic Slum Village song, Fall in Love, kept the same vibe of the original, but gave it a new voice. The outcome is Assembly Line, a song that focuses on the idea of building the perfect girl. Sha’ir took a subject that could easily come off as vulgar, and instead kept it fairly innocent and laid back. I can respect that. Assembly Line can be found on Sha’ir’s Permanent Vaay’k mixtape. Stream and download below.

brandon lockheart, detroit, featured, hip-hop, j dilla, life... love... bullshit, shit i've never said

Q&A With Brandon Lockheart / Shit I’ve Never Said

I once read in a book of quotes, “you never know a man’s character until you’ve shared a bowl of peeled shrimp with him.” I’ve never been sure if the bowl of shrimp represented a metaphor or was really just a bowl of shrimp, but I understood the importance of it. Asking questions and receiving answers is essential when it comes down to really discovering whether or not you respect a person. I’ve been offered to do interviews a handful of times leading up until now, but I never went through with them. I tried once before, and it just didn’t work out as well as I had hoped it would. After I originally featured Brandon Lockheart’s latest single, The Noise, he followed up asking if I’d be interested in an interview, and to add to the enticement, an exclusive advance of his previously unreleased material titled, Shit I’ve Never Said. I took the bait. Now that I’m here writing this, I’m glad that I had agreed. Not only did I get to learn about the man behind the music, I’m able to share with you some truly fantastic hip-hop. Shit I’ve Never Said is a collection of deep thought, extremely personal tracks that Brandon has kept to himself for some time now. This whole experience has really shed light on who Brandon Lockheart is, as not just a rapper, but as a person. Read through the interview below, then make way to the Bandcamp player and listen to Shit I’ve Never Said. You could also scroll down and listen, then read the interview. I’m not here to enforce rules. You’re grown enough. Do whatever you want in whatever order you want.

TRS – What’s the story behind you having to push back the release date of  “Life… Love… Bullshit…” and choosing to release the material heard on “Shit I’ve Never Said”?
BL – Honestly, it really just boils down to me wanting to present the best product I possibly can. I really like where it’s going and the thought of what it could be is amazing, so I decided to hold back until December.
On the other hand I didn’t want to leave my supporters hanging, so I decided to release “Shit I’ve Never Said”.
TRS – What all has led to inspiration of the creation of “Life… Love… Bullshit”?
BL – The chase, the dream..the project is simply inspired by the “American Dream”. More over the great degree of strain it takes to reach that dream.
TRS – I’m a big fan of music that pulls together styles outside of its own. Other than sampling, do you ever  use any genres outside of hip-hop to include within your own sound?
BL – I’ve been branching out a bit lately, Choir of Young Believers I really been experimenting lately.
TRS – Production wise, what’s the specific type of sound that you’re aiming for on “Life… Love… Bullshit…”?
BL – When I was a kid my dentist had a this painting of an older man holding his sax under the clouds. I’d go into the back and waiting for me were big glass windows showing a great view of downtown Detroit. The whole city just waiting for yo, you know. The project is so soulful and it captures the exact sound i’d wanted. I link up with two producers out of London,England, Toney Mahoney and Kick Back, they made magic. 
TRS – Will the project consist of exclusively original production or will you be borrowing  some beats from some more established artists? Also, who all do you have  contributing instrumentals?
BL – All of the production is completley orginal. As I stated all of it was imported straight from the heart of London. I went through about 30 beats before coming up with what I needed. Shout to Toney Mahoney and Kick Back on the ones and twos. 
TRS – Even though some people still think of Detroit as a dying city, some of the best  hip-hop has come out of  there. What’s the atmosphere really like that encourages  the creation of such good music?
BL – Detroit is like the phoenix man, only thing is she dosen’t know it yet. The culture there is so vibrant, you learn early you have to work hard for everything you want. The embodiment of determined men trying to become something.
TRS – For awhile now, I’ve felt like the Midwest has become the new Mecca for true hip-hop. Specifically because of Detroit and Chicago’s heavy use of sampling from dusty,  long forgotten soul records. Do you agree, and if so, why do you think that the  Midwest has stayed true to the classic hip-hop sound while, for the most part,  everywhere else has strayed away from it.
BL – I mean that’s what the midwest especially Detroit was built upon. The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, you name it. I think that’s what’s embedded in our roots out there and at the end of the day, you can’t shake who you are.
TRS – Nowadays, a lot of the up-and-coming rappers are heavily basing their style off of  video games, anime, and social media. Your approach seems to be more of a  straightforward rhymer, which is increasingly becoming a rarity. Why are you  choosing to stick with the Golden Era type of flow, and why do you think that the  rest of these new guys are leaving it behind?
BL – I believe in doing what ever works for you an that’s all I’m doing man. I came up listening to nothing but the greats, the guys who didn’t need gimmicks and let the rhymes speak for them. Nuff said..
TRS – Where do you see hip-hop taking you? Do you see yourself someday signed to a major label, or are you more interested in building up your reputation in the underground and sticking it out independent?
BL – Umm..I’d love to stay indie for awhile, build this thing alone,my way. But who knows what God has in store for me, whatever it may be I know it’s awesome.
TRS – I’m a J Dilla fanatic, so I have to ask, since you’re from Detroit. What is your favorite J Dilla beat(s)?
BL – The beat he made for Erykah Badu’s “Didnt cha’ Know” classic man would have loved to work with, shit I would have been glad to meet him.
brotherspanky, hip-hop, j dilla, jay dee, the james yancey sessions, tribute

BrotherSpanky Presents: The James Yancey Sessions

I can’t help but think of what hip-hop might be like if J Dilla were still around. Sometimes I feel like the genre is still trying to catch up to his forward thinking style. If one blessing has come from Jay Dee’s passing, it’s the  great amount of phenomenal tributes to the man’s work. BrotherSpanky’s personal tribute may have come out back in February (Dilla History Month), but the project is just now reaching my ears. Inspired by works like The Roots’ Dilla Joints mixtape and eLZhi’s ElMatic project, BrotherSpanky has chosen some of his favorite Dilla pieces and reworked them a bit. The instrumentals have remained unaltered, but are instead played with live instruments rather than samples and drum machines.  Lyrics follow the same theme as Dilla’s originals, but are instead changed to go along with BrotherSpanky’s individuality. The James Yancey Sessions is a must hear, and it will most definitely find a place on next year’s Favorite J Dilla Tributes post. 

hip-hop, j dilla, slum village, the dirty slums, video

Video: Slum Village – Reppin’

The legendary Slum Village just released the visuals for Reppin’ off of The Dirty Slums mixtape. The Villa picked a great time to release these visuals, because Detroit is on the front of every hip-hop head’s mind right now with last week’s release of former Slum member, J Dilla’s posthumous album, Rebirth of Detroit. The video features some locations around the city, and points out some spots of Slum Village’s past. The song itself is a great homage to some of hip-hop’s greats. If you’ve yet to hear The Dirty Slums, get on that. It’s excellent. Check out my write up on The Dirty Slums here, where you can also download for free. 

beat, hip-hop, instrumentals, j dilla, rebirth of detroit

J Dilla – Rebirth of Detroit

If you’ve yet to get acquainted with J Dilla’s music, shame on you. Even though Jay Dee’s music is 100% hip-hop, lovers of all genres can appreciate the man’s legacy. So much of hip-hop’s contemporary styles can give thanks to Mr. Yancey. The man was a visionary, paving the way for introducing new sounds to hip-hop. I cannot begin to imagine where the genre would be if Dilla were still here on Earth. His newest posthumous album, Rebirth of Detroit released earlier this week, and it is nothing less than excellent. Who knows how old some of these beats are, yet they sound so forward thinking. That’s the greatness of J Dilla, his music is timeless. Sure you could go back and hear the different phases he went through during his career, but his music still holds up, no matter its age. Jay Dee has been gone for 6 years now, but new music still keeps popping up. Fortunately, J Dilla’s life revolved around creating music, and there are probably countless more instrumentals to be discovered for years to come. Hopefully, now that Dilla’s mom, Ma Dukes, has created Ruff Draft Records, we’ll be hearing a lot more of Jay Dee’s unreleased works more often. Stream Rebirth of Detroit in its entirety below.


Carpenters, experimental, hip-hop, j dilla, ragnarok, sole grunt, The Beach Boys, The Whackness

Sole Grunt – The Whackness

A little while back, I did a post on this hip-hop collective, Ragnarok. I labeled them as the “Most Metal Group in Hip-Hop,” and it’s true. Ragnarok’s values are set in overtaking the current mindset of what contemporary hip-hop should sound like, and that’s just metal to me. Their sound is experimental, but comfortable enough to where the listener doesn’t feel lost in new territory. Pulling samples from a wide array of media, Ragnarok’s music is essentially a lot like hip-hop’s early, heavily sampled, beat tape radio shows of the 80’s, but the way their music is arranged is entirely fresh. Much of this sound that Ragnarok has specialized can be traced to Sole Grunt. After focusing on a majority of Ragnarok’s production and some featured spots, Sole Grunt has released his first solo mixtape, ironically titled, The Whackness.

The Whackness opens with a familiar sampling of drums taken from J Dilla’s, highly experimental, Nothing Like This. Just the use of this drum sample properly defines The Whackness as a whole, when you really think about it. Sole Grunt is making a statement choosing to use one of Dilla’s most memorable beats. He is making use of everything familiar to you, and slightly twisting them just enough for you to have to double check your sources just to be sure he really is sampling what you think he is. For example, listen to his use of The Carpenters’ Superstar in Supa (One Check for Loving). The song is instantly recognizable, but there’s something slightly askew with Sole Grunt’s use of it. He’s created a new mood that comes from hearing the sample, completely different than the emotion given by the original version. By the way, FINALLY somebody sampled Superstar! Another excellent example is how Sole Grunt sampled The Beach Boys’ I’m Waiting for the Day off of their famous Pet Sounds on The Whackness’ last track, We’re Into Some Sort of Future (One Check for Coping). That timpani drum pattern is classic, but it now sounds completely new and revitalized compared to its 1966 counterpart.

The Whackness is fantastically littered with references to movies, video games, television shows, and anime. This is where this new generation of up-and-coming rappers and producers are doing things differently than those that have come before. They have embraced incorporating media within their music, not just sampling past musicians, but sampling literally everything under the sun. I’m sure it has something to do with the internet. Probably Tumblr, everything can be found on there. Sure, hip-hop has always sampled from everything, but not quite like these new guys are. A few years ago it was the college rappers who were making names for themselves. Now, it’s time for this new, multi-media style of hip-hop to rise up, with Ragnarok leading the way. The Whackness is free to download, if you pass up on this one, you might as well embrace the name for yourself.