Take a Chance…on Chance The Rapper

I haven’t been posting a lot these days.

…And in fact this might be my last post on this current iteration of “Ted-Payne.com”.

I still have a passion for rap music (and will vehemently defend it’s current iteration) but the time for this particular site is nearing an end.  I will probably relaunch this as a personal blog in the future (aka never), and come up with some other rap blog.  Something a bit more cerebral.

If this is my last post, I might as well make it a good one.

I want to talk about Chance the Rapper.

You might not know him now, but all signs point to him blowing up.

Speaking of which, one of my favorite things about this site was putting people on to new music.  I was never the first guy on the net talking about a rapper of course. That is hard to accomplish when the internet is basically an infinite battle between hipsters to prove who can like something first.  You know those total d-bags who put “first post” as a comment on a blogpost or youtube video?   That is essentially what the internet music community has become.

But at least I can take solace that I put my friends (and readers) on to new up and coming artists.  They usually don’t remember, but at least I know.

  • Frank Ocean
  • The Weeknd
  • Drake
  • Kendrick Lamar
  • ASAP Rocky
  • Wiz Khalifa
  • Etc

All guys I was talking about before they became huge.  And I mean real world big.  Meaning people in the real world talk about them, not just the denizens of the interwebs.

In fact, I was probably late in internet-time, but in general I was ahead of the curve on those guys.  I don’t bring that up to brag.  I bring it up because it isn’t often I feel as strongly about an artist as I did about the above 6 or 7 guys…

I feel that way about Chance the Rapper.  And yes so does every other dickhead blogger.

I am not nearly the first guy on this bandwagon.  The net has been buzzing about him for awhile now.  In fact, reports are saying that Lyor Cohen himself showed up to a small club to see Chance perform at SXSW this week.  When you got the suit of all suits coming out solo, to see you in a club, you have hype.

If I can put even one person onto him though – it will be worth it.

Speaking of Chance, he was born and raised in Chicago.

I don’t know if everyone is aware, but there are some serious problems in Chicago these days.  A wonderful city from all accounts, but the inner city area is suffering from some high level violence.  A whole music scene has really been born out of this violence.  “Drill” music is massively popular in Chicago and I don’t want to sound like an idiot trying to explain what it is so check out Chief Keef – I Don’t Like – maybe the most popular example.  It is dark, aggressive and it has a lot of detractors.  A lot of people want to blame the music for the violence.  I think we should all know by now that music is usually a reflection of violence in a community, rather than a cause…but “hater’s gonna hate”.

Chance the Rapper is kind of like the anti-drill artist.   I don’t mean that he is against the Drill movement, since he shouts out the aforementioned Chief Keef on a couple of songs. His sound and style is just different.  He is the yin to Drill music’s yang.  He is lyrical, abstract, he sings and uses voice inflection.  On first listen you would think he shares more with Kanye or Kendrick Lamar (neither are a direct comparison for all the people already angrily typing a comment) than Chief Keef…BUT  he is still from Chicago.  His music is still a reflection of what’s going on in the inner city, he just shares the story in a different way.

First time I heard him was on last year’s mxstape: 10 Day.   10 Day is a conceptual album. Chance was suspended from high school for 10 days so this tape is supposed to be the result of that suspension.  If you were heavy into the Chicago scene and Drill music, this album was an eye opener for you.  It was mellow, thoughtful and really creative.   The best way to explain is share some of the music.

Chance The Rapper – 10 Day (visuals):

Chance The Rapper – Family

Chance The Rapper – Hey Ma

Chance The Rapper – Brain Cells

Chance The Rapper – 22 Offs

Chance The Rapper – Nostalgia

You can tell from the above videos he is a talented and versatile artist.  Will it mean he blows up?  I don’t know.  There are many many people paid to a lot of money to make those kind of decisions and even they make mistakes.

The good news is – he keeps getting better and more interesting.

Acid Rap is due to drop April 30th, and this is the mixtape that might blow Chance up.  Judging by the Lyor Cohen appearance at his SXSW performance, Acid Rap might be the last mixtape before a major label debut :O

The three songs dropped off Acid Rap all showcase Chance growing and becoming his own artist.

Some of the guys I have bigged up before on here like Big KRIT or Joey Badass – dropped, caught my attention but then after wards have pretty much stuck to one lane.  It isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but it isn’t as exciting as someone who noticeably evolves.

Check out the visuals dropped for Acid Rap to get a feel of how Chance is potentially evolving into a star.

Acid Rap Visuals

Chance The Rapper – Good Ass Intro

Chance The Rapper – Juice

Check him out and let me know what you think!

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Best Opening Verse to a Rap Album Ever…

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Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City Review

You know how some people say that “they are rarely at a loss for words…”

Well, I am often at a loss of words. Look at my last blog post, how many months ago was that?

While being moved to silence is often a sign of something profound happening, when it comes to me, being moved to words is much more telling.

I have listened and enjoyed a good number of albums this year.  I have downloaded and played dozens of songs dozens of times each.  I am constantly listening to music, and am rarely lacking something new to check out.

Over the past few months I have listened to hundreds of hours of music and it wasn’t until 9:10pm tonight that I felt like I had to review something.  It wasn’t until I downloaded Kendrick Lamar’s new album.  As soon as I hit track 3 – I couldn’t ignore the feeling to tell people about this album.

Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid M.A.A.D City

I can’t say I didn’t see this coming.  Kendrick didn’t come out of nowhere after all.  He has been starting point guard for my iTunes this year.  He has his hand in most of the music I have been playing lately.  I still play his slightly overlooked Section.80 album regularly.  I still occasionally listen to Ab Soul and Schoolboy Q’s (his fellow Black Hippy cohorts) albums.  I have listened to Cartoons and Cereal & Swimming Pool hundreds of times each.  I even told you all to keep an eye on him earlier in the year:

Keep An Eye on Kendrick

So here we are, and Kendrick just dropped album of the year.

You might argue he doesn’t have a lot of competition, but besides that being false, it doesn’t matter.  This album would have sounded great in any era. It wouldn’t have been the best rap album made in 1996, but it wouldn’t be The Doggfather either.

So what about the album itself…

What Kendrick has created is a legitimate rap album.  This isn’t a collection of random singles.  While I vehemently defend rap in today’s age, I do miss the “art of the album“. I think the line between mixtapes and albums has gotten too blurred.  Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City is a great album.  Each track flows together perfectly.  It is clear the sequencing on this album was taken very seriously. More importantly, there seems to be an overall storyline to the album (need to digest it more, just noticing it now).

All those things are great of course, but an album of the year(AOTY) they do not make.

However, when you consider that Kendrick has accomplished all of the above, while rapping as well as anyone today, then you begin to see why I think this is AOTY.  In today’s age a lot of rappers get by on style over substance.  Kendrick combines them both.  He will rap about social issues but he isn’t preachy.  He manages to sound socially conscious, without sounding like a douchebag.

Lupe Fiasco, take notes!

Not only does he have substance though – he has style.  We all know rappers that we want to love;  we really want to love them because they are positive, political and clever… but they are boring.

Kendrick isn’t boring.  

He can sound different from one track to the next.  In fact, he might use two or three voices/flows in one song.  Hell, Dr. Dre liked his flow so much on The Recipe, that he decided to use it.

  • Cohesive album with a general theme – check.
  • Great lyrics – check.
  • Great flow(s) – check.

Not a bad start, but once again – not an AOTY.   We are missing the final piece – production… does Good Kid, M.A.A.D City pass the production test?

Uh, yeah.

Kendrick has managed to pick some incredible beats.  There isn’t really a lag on the entire album.  The production manages to sound current, but it is offers just enough throwback moments and sounds to gain those ever important “nostalgia points” from the older rap fans.

I am not necessarily comparing sounds, but the first thing that comes to mind is Dungeon Family.  While this doesn’t share a sound with DF, it does exude that sort of feel.  The production is unique, includes some slick beat switches, and the melding of throwback sound with current appeal just has that vibe to it.

One of the best examples of the above two points is M.A.A.D City.

The track starts out with a Lex Luger style beat that Kendrick rides like a pro.  Sounds very current, almost club friendly…then about two minutes in it organically morphs into an old school sounding west coast beat, that Kendrick trades verses with MC Eiht on.

I don’t know how much more I can tell you about the album, really need to digest it more.

Some of My Fav Tracks:

  • Backseat Freestyle – Beat sounds like current Kanye, which makes sense since it is produced by Hit Boy.  Kendrick kills this.  Showcases the versatility in his flow and voice.
  • The Art of Peer Pressure – Socially conscious done right.  Album version has a different (better) intro than the version that leaked a week or two ago.
  • M.A.A.D City – See Above
  • Swimming Pools – One of the best songs of the year, the extended album version might not sound as good as the original on it’s own, but it fits the album perfectly.
  • Poetic Justice – Laid back, RnB sample.  Perfect Canvas for Kendrick to trade versus with one of the albums few guests – Drake.

Am I overrating an album because it is new and stands out from weak competition or has Kendrick really arrived?  I am honestly not sure.  I guess time will tell, for now let’s just enjoy a great album.

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Nas & Amy Winehouse – Me and Mr. Jones

Nasir Jones and Amy Winehouse- two of my personal favs.  Dj Terry Urban, combines some of their best hits together into a banging mash-up.  Have to listen on Mixcloud though, haven’t seen a download link anywhere.  Full hour long mixtape – check it out.

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Alpoko Don – Get my Paypa Dog

Not often these days something really new and different comes around in rap.  I think Alpoko Don fits that bill.  He isn’t breaking the mold, he is essentially a southern trap rapper, but he does it unlike anyone before him.  This track features a stripped down beat (paying homage to his Youtube viral vids where he is rapping on the porch)that is the perfect canvas for Alpoko Don’s harmonizing and unique flow.  While there are a couple cringe worthy lines from Don, his personality allows him to get away with it.  He is believable, real and his voice would fit more on a blues track.  Check it out, it isn’t for everyone, but it is currently on repeat for me.

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Z-ro feat. Chris Ward – 100 [Official Video]

Been playing the hell out of this song lately.  First off, the beat obviously caught my ear – a throw back g-funk west coast beat for sure.  I believe it is a remake of Dre’s “High Powered”.  The first verse isn’t anything special to me.  No offense to Chris Ward, but it was a pretty average verse.  Z-Ro on the other hand KILLS it.  His sing songy flow is perfect for this beat, and I could listen to him “crooning” about guns and “the block” all day long.

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Joey Bada$$ feat. Cj Fly – Hardknock

First time checking out Joey Bada$$, and pleasantly surprised.  His name made me avoid him, but this video proves I shouldn’t judge a  book by it’s cover, or in this case…name.   This is definitely throwback rap.  Clearly it is meant to evoke a feeling from the 90′s.  From the beat to the way the video is shot – that’s clear.  Amazing thing – this kid is only 16 years old.  Great song, throwback vibe really works.

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Nas – Daughters [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

I posted this song already, but Nas followed it up with a great video to match, so wanted to share it as well.

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Pusha T feat. The Dream – Exodus

I have always been a fan of The Clipse.  I think Hell Hath No Fury is criminally slept on for example.  Pusha T has always been my fav of the duo, but lately I haven’t been feeling him THAT much.  I hadn’t been following his career at all lately, but then I heard this song.  I loved it – I love the Dream vibe to the track.  You can hear his influence in the beat for sure.  Once I heard this and tried to find out if The Dream produced it, I learned that he will be the executive producer over Pusha T’s next album.  That is some exciting news.  That album is now one of my most anticipated of the year.

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Kitty Pryde – Okay Cupid [Official Video]

When I saw the still for this video, I was instantly on my guard.  White, ginger teenage girl rapping…my spidey sense was tingling.  Danger.  But, I gave her a chance.  After all I actually liked Gucci Gucci by Kreayshawn, so who am I to judge?

Pleasantly surprised.

The beat was a laid back spacey beat – it seems to distort a vocal sample for the basis of the best, as well as some (a lot) of hi-hats.

Kitty Pryde is the surprise though.  She can actually rap.  I liked Kreayshawn’s ability to create a catchy song, but Kitty actually seems to have some deft wordplay for someone so young.  She doesn’t force things, she has an effortless flow that really matches her entire vibe.

The above video/song sounds like a rap song from a suburban white teenage girl.  It works though.  Beat is hot, and this girl actually has some bars on the downlow.