Here’s is a timeline of most of the most impressive moments of 2014, the year of EPs.
itzdadiabolical presents: a single by King Rich and Rickee Stylez, “Big Poppa”. An obvious nod at the great Notorious BIG on the anniversary of his death. The duo show off with fly lyrics and a cold flow.
Stream and download at Soundcloud
“Dark Memories” by Soule is one example of an excellent hip-hop song that embodies a mood, tells a story, has clever and/or deep lines, and flows smoothly with back-to-back transitions. On top of that, it’s produced by the amazing Suede Moccasins who hooks it up once again. It possesses many of the things I love about hip-hop music, and one of the few songs I got excited about last year.
“Pray your clock shows hands in just one direction, cuz it’s hard for you to follow”
This bar directly references back to the hook where the character in the story (addressed in second person) has a lost concept of time, immortally unchanged like a ghost.
What’s also interesting about this bar is that it transitions perfectly into the verse in multiple ways.
It brings to attention the stagnant and lost mindset that the character has, which is the setting for this verse in the song. The actual mind of the character is drawn out like a tangible place. A place that is very rejecting, and deleterious of past memories. A very blank, lonely, and mundane state of mind that prefers being void from human interaction. This is described in the next line (among others):
“That’s what it’s like being a NEET,
then you get all neat”
A NEET(Not in Education, Employment, or Training) being a layabout who stays at home and doesn’t do much of anything, and rhyming with the homophone “neat” showing that they live unfulfilled and must occupy with idle cleaning. This also begins a very aggressive rhyme pattern:
“cleaning the house, the defeat,
makes you plow.
Don’t have the passion right now to”
The contrast of this bar from the non-rhyming of opening bar breaks listeners into the second verse and sets the pace for it. This bar is so aggressive for several reasons. First, that the rhyme scheme and cadence are very intricate, following an AA-BA-B-B pattern where house is used as an internal rhyme that is later pushed out as an end rhyme which sets the simpler pattern for the rest of the verse after a transition using another faster paced rhyme:
“talk with you, walk with you”
That point brings me to this: the sudden aggressiveness is the frustration of the narrator of dealing with this character. The first two lines are a very vague and somewhat glazed-over description that the narrator uses to describe the character’s mindset, but when digging deeper it becomes a source of frustration. Then the simplifying of the cadence/rhyme scheme is the calming down and acceptance of this setting. “Don’t have the passion right now” is a verbal sigh of exasperation and ceasing to struggle to hold onto the relationship. “talk with you, walk with you, do the same things like Geminis, how the stars move” is a very repetitive (yet not redundant) overstatement used as a device to show how close knit this relationship was. They talked together, they walked together, they were like twins. They revolved in the same pattern like the stars seem to do in the night sky.
Cleverly, this ties into an onslaught of astrology themed metaphors and references:
“I was a Leo in the sky, now I’m sagging like a Sag
reminiscing real hard on the year we have shared
that goes out to every astrological being that is there”
Pretty apparent, but this is saying this took a bit out pep out the speaker’s step. The wording, repetition and delivery makes the feeling come out of the words. “Leo in the sky” gives the image of a proud king of the jungle standing high over creation with utmost pride; whereas “sagging like a Sag” defines a lowly, rock-kicking persona (even further defined by the pet name for Sagittarius, which pronounces the ‘g’ differently). And “shared” was also spoken in a lower somber tone. yadayada
“you caught the arrow that cupid was trying to aim at your head
not your heart, that’s why you think too much instead.
‘Stead of staying in touch, you try to grow apart”
Adding to the setting of the character’s mindset, the speaker uses cupid’s aim as a metaphor for their approach to the situation. Their approach is loveless and riddled in overthink, making staying in touch needlessly difficult and frustrating.
“What does that say about us?
For real, you keep that state of mind I can’t trust
instead of making memories, you want memorials
everything I paved, you want to bury those”
That says the character wants nothing to do with this situation. As stated before, this person is “rejecting and deleterious”. The expression is that there is no good to be had from this situation, they are denying any chance of a positive relationship or hindsight. “Memories” could be a good remembrance of the experience, but instead the person desires “memorials”, as in dead. Buried. Everything built in the relationship, buried. This mindset drenched in overthink that destroys any “light” or positivity is like a betrayal to the speaker. Considering that once they were peas-in-the-pod or “like Geminis”, the fact that things are the polar opposite just makes the person impossible to trust (considering the diction “can’t”).
I feel like these lines are the key relation of the song to the title.
Be on the lookout for Soule’s Connection project.
I’ve teamed up with the folks at Ok-tho.com to bring you more reviews. Go check out the website to see my latest reviews and more. I’ll still be posting reviews on here, full-versions or otherwise.
A simple 6-track EP from a rapper and producer with versatile and groovy styles. The instrumentals have tons of personality and soul, and Kilo’s vocals complete the puzzle. Melodies have a lil sumn for errbody with the smooth r&b-type track, storytelling, knowledge kick, and some braggadose.
LADE is a rapper and producer that has put forth some impressive works over the past few years (he used to go by other aliases: Dgh, Doughmars, Je$us). He’s had a few songs of his own and produced a few great tracks for other artists. Namely those on Lord Byron’s Frozen 10 awarded Dark Arts Vol. 2 album, and on Shinobi’s (formerly known as Sir Milo) Corner Stores and Iron Horses.
Lately, he’s been working on building his new YORK imprint, and in talks of collaboration with Blu. After several months of inaction, he’s ready to unveil what he’s been working on.
Over the past year or so you’ve been showing a lot of sneak peeks of your York brand, but the details of it is shrouded in mystery. Can you define to us what ‘York’ is?
LADE: It’s basically a brand that’s starting out music based for now. Music, Videos, Artwork, and eventually stylized tours/concerts. I’m basically behind every facet of it and I’m properly working my way into investing into artists of all kinds to bring the brand to a multi-dimensional reality.
Have you ever heard of the Blue Ocean Strategy? It seems like that’s the type of mindset you’re bringing into this brand.
LADE: Yes, the art of creating what they call “blue oceans” of uncontested market space. Bits and pieces of that book I’ve been using as inspiration to minimize competition. I believe in the music industry today there’s lots of demand that’s not currently being paid attention to. Me, being a strong fan of both the business and artistic sides of the music industry, I feel a unique kind of enthusiasm to bring them to the forefront.
I know you have a really strong passion for hip-hop, but you also seem to be very critical of the current landscape. What do you feel hip-hop needs right now?
LADE: Hip Hop needs an entire reinvention that will take years to accomplish. African Americans critical of the culture need to get in business schools, study the practices behind the scenes, and take back their own culture that they claim Caucasians have “stolen”.
What I plan to do for hip hop is something I can’t do alone, which is why I plan on investing into hopefully a lot of aspiring artists and giving lots of people a chance to make something of themselves by not only benefiting this brand, but by benefiting themselves.
I remember you had a sort of call to arms for people who want to improve hip-hop culture and rap music a good while ago. Are any of those people part of the current movement you’ve got cooking up?
LADE: Yeah. That’s the most difficult part. Getting people who mutually support your vision is stressful, as most people think your plan won’t work, or they just flat out don’t take it seriously. Most people don’t take an idea seriously until it blows up and it’s making millions.As of right now I only have two childhood friends as silent partners. Besides that, I’m basically carrying this myself. For the moment. It’s unrealistic to expect everyone to jump on your ship ASAP. You have to work and show why you deserve that support. Not only is it unrealistic it’s also a little narcissist. To think people are supposed to immediately invest all this hope in you even though you haven’t shown as much promise as all these other geniuses out here who’ve done their work already.
You must have some radical moves in mind, at least by common perception.
LADE: Radical is probably the most accurate term.
You’ve been quiet for a long time. Have you been working on a lot of different content, or on one big piece?
LADE: A lot of different content, but devoted about two months to one piece. Just trying to make the product as effective as possible without being over complicated. I’m a firm believer in simplicity. But it’s not simple to create simplicity, contrary to popular belief.
At least I don’t think it is.
I guess we’ll have to see. So you’ve made music in the past from rapping, to beats, to remixes. What kind of sound can we expect next from you?
LADE: Basically a combination of everything that I’ve been influenced by. And that hybrid of styles will be my initial platform musically, but as years go on, it will grow step by step into new territories. Even through other artists that I plan to be the engine for.
You’ve expressed an interest in doing R&B, is that something in the works or a longterm goal/project?
LADE: I plan to make a separate R&B/soul based division of York. For starters I will eventually have a R&B artist to headline it before that division actually becomes a thing.
In a lot of your production, particularly the most recent, it’s really abysmal (in a deep way) and cavernous. I’m not much of an R&B person, but it seems like a unique sound to the genre. Is that kind of production style slated for the York R&B music?
LADE: Absolutely. I intend to bring a different dimension to R&B music. Not to dismiss R&B of the past or present, because there will be a heavy inspiration of past R&B into what I tend to create. I’m basically just twisting the standard a bit.
So you’re going to be the face of production in your York imprint?
LADE: Yes. 100% of the production will be by me and me only.
There’s a huge standard that separates producers from beat makers. Which are you, and what do you think that standard is?
LADE: Producers are beatmakers who direct a project and have a vision. Beatmakers are just those who make beats and give them out to whoever has money. I’m a producer. Never really believed in the art of having one of my beats on a project if I’m not going to produce the whole project. There’s exceptions here and there but once in a blue moon.
Interesting. The best projects are when the vocalist and producer build together directly?
LADE: Sounds cliché, but yes. Not to say every album with different producers isn’t focused. But the producer and artist has to have a certain chemistry for the project to be more believable.
I kind of asked this already, but is that a mindset you’re bringing into your upcoming release?
LADE: Pretty much being that I’m artistically in charge of the entire thing.
Cool, what’s the timeframe for this release?
LADE: March at the latest. Before then is mini promo.
Diabolic delivers what’s expected of his name. He’s a very aggressive and visceral emcee with a mass amount of shock value in his rhymes. Fighting Words is injected with harsh sarcasm and verbal assaults that add definition to his personality. On the other hand he contrasts with self-revealing subjects and conscious concepts. This duality along with his rhyming skills makes him a well-balanced emcee with an album reflecting that, but not in a way that’s particularly fresh or untreaded before.
The flow used is the primary example. Diabolical is able to put together strings of sick multisyllabic rhyme with just one specific immovable rhyme pattern of “AAAAAAA”. However, this style is delivered in a way that’s reminiscent of the Fighting Words feature artists, RA the Rugged Man; and known to be used by Hopsin. Ironically, he mentions in “Bad Dream” he mentions that a label panel says he reminds them of Eminem who is undeniably a pivotal influence to Hopsin’s music. Fighting Words makes it evident that that Diabolic represents the high shock value section of rap.
What’s entirely unlike the aforementioned two is Diabolic’s heavy and tough bravado. He possesses ruggedness so extreme that when matched up with similar concrete-skinned MCs in “Game Time”, it turns into an extravagant back and forth elbowing for the top spot. “My supporters would slap the shit out Little Wayne fans” It’s like he is the very manifestation of hard itself with the ability to leak that attribute into listeners just by listening. Punch you out your socks like…
At the same time, such a quote represents his oft-used rhetoric of the “real hip-hop heads” who spam “F Lil Wayne” on every underground track posted on YouTube.
Bolic unfortunately seems very comfortable with this clustered and overpopulated identity.
On a lighter note, Diabolic has a very powerful and passionate voice for morality. Throughout the album he mentions how much of a proud father he is and expresses the massive discontent he has with anyone coming in between that. He devotes whole tracks to those who suffer with “Feel Ya Pain” and “Victim’s Story”. In “A.M.E.R.I.C.A. (The Truth Part 3)” he says one of the most profound quotes I’ve ever heard on a track,
This part of Diabolic’s album is like the musical offspring of legends like Immortal Technique and Ice Cube.
Overall, in evaluation of the Fightin’ Words album, one’s favor feels that tug of war. On one side Diabolic is easily defined as a status quo member of that rugged underground shock-value spitter. On the opposing side, here’s a rapper with very expressed passions in his lyrics and a moderately impressive ability to just rhyme.
Pretty cold album here.
Favorites: “Game Time” “Here We Go”