Beef Watch: Common v Drake

(via the Fader)                                                                                                                          (pic via Fader)

Alriggghhhttt!  It has been so long since we have had a real life hip hop hatefest.  Yes, fans are great at letting an artist know when they are being terrible (i.e. Waka Flacka Flame every goddamn minute of the day.  Did you know he has a new video out called “Rooster in My Rari” starring a 6ft tall rooster?  God in heaven!.) but when is the last time we had a good diss track?  Ok, maybe this happens all the time but they are always entertaining.

This newest duel seems to be a little one sided.  In the red corner is Common, one of the most respected figures on scene and one of the few who was around when the diss track was a common weapon in the hip hoppers arsenal.  Over in this corner, which is a pale lavender that has been gently brushed with tears, is Drake.  Young, naive, former Canadian child star, Drake.  I have tried my best to make it crystal clear how unabashedly mediocre he is but, alas, the people do not seem to hear me so I guess I am going to have to let Common take him down for me.

After you listen to the two tracks (Drake’s shot and Common’s reply, which is over the same goddamn track) I feel like the winner is obvious, after round one anyway.  Their approaches are very different.  Drake beats around the bush a bit.  His disses are vague and tentative.  A scared kid hiding behind a wall of manufactured braggadocio and Rick Ross’ homeless beard.  I’m guessing when he sees how overmatched he is he will claim that he wasn’t talking about Common at all.

Common, on the other hand, is straight to the point.  The man is nothing if not confident and he seems very comfortable in this role.  Its like a dad scolding his kid.  His best line:   “Make no mistake.  I’m talkin’ about Drake.”  This is a man.  I can’t wait for the response.

By the way, I have no idea what this is about.  Its probably over something really important.  I’ll keep you posted.

(via Pigeons and Planes)

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Gambino v Drake

Ok, just a couple of things.  First, Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino aka Troy Barnes is becoming one of the most talented entertainers around.  The guy has always been funny.  He wrote for 30 Rock, plays one of the funniest characters on TV, and was a pretty decent rapper.  Now, judging from this performance the other night on Conan he is now more than just a decent rapper.  He’s a performer.

Glover has been spitting out mixtapes under the Gambino name for a few years now.  All of them full of dexterous wordplay and killer one liners (the man is a comedy writer after all).  Now his first official release, Camp, is a few days old and its becoming more and more clear that this hip hop thing is no joke.  He just keeps getting better and better.

Alright, point number two. There is another music blog that I frequent called Pigeons and Planes. Its a hip hop and indie rock site but it definitely leaning toward the former.  The last few days there seems to be a bit of a war brewing in the comments section between fans of Childish Gambino and Drake.  I am perplexed because, other than both having albums released on the same day (Drake’s Take Care on Young Money and Glover’s Camp on indie Glassnote), I don’t see what the two have in common.  They seem to be part of two separate worlds, one awful (Drake) and one not awful (Gambino).

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Shabazz Palaces Live

I have already begged all of you to go out and listen to Shabazz Palaces.  I won’t beg anymore.  One thing I will do is give you the opportunity to see a live performance.  The difference between a Shabazz Palaces live show and most other hip hop shows is that a Shabazz Palaces show doesn’t suck.

As a general rule hip hop is terrible live.  Too often it just degenerates into a bunch of guys yelling.  All intricacies of the language tend to get lost.  Yeah, yeah there are always exceptions.  I’m sure that one time you saw that one guy was the “best show ever.”  You don’t have to agree with me.  But watch the video below and then compare it to this video of Drake, Lil Wayne, and Rick Ross performing “I’m On One,” a song I have already said that I like and currently number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

The album version is great but you can see how much time is spent in the studio making average artists sound good.  Listen to how flat and tuneless Drake’s voice is without auto tune and just try to resist the urge to fast forward through Ross screaming his verse (I know I couldn’t).  Its all the same performers, so why doesn’t the song translate from the studio to the live venue?

(via Gorilla vs. Bear)

Why Do You Listen to Drake?

This is the video for “Marvin’s Room” off of Drake’s upcoming album Take Care.  To be blunt, it sucks.  I’m not just talking about the video, I am mostly talking about the song.  Oh and the artist, too.  Drake sucks.  He just does.  He is supposed to be one of those rare hip hop artists who can sing and rap but he doesn’t do either one all that well.  His singing voice is auto tuned to death and his flow is super methodical and super generic.

I’m not asking for much.  Just give me a hint of originality.  I do appreciate pop music when it is done well.  Not every song has to have some intense deeper meaning but when I hear a line like, “We threw a party/Yeah we threw a party/Bitches came over/Yeah we through a party,” my brain just tunes out.  But the reality is that he is constantly receiving accolades from magazines and popular blogs.  I apparently do not see what everyone else sees in him.  Will someone let me know what I am missing?

Side note:   What is the deal with this songs title?  “Marvin’s Room” is a play written by Scott McPherson about a family dealing with leukemia.  I don’t know if Drake was trying to make some kind of allusion somewhere in between all the whining about all the sex and fame but I didn’t see it.

Drake ~ Marvins Room (Official Video) from OctobersVeryOwn on Vimeo.

The Weeknd – Rolling Stone

Here’s a new track that just popped up from The Weeknd, the moniker for r&b singer Abel Tesfaye. This isn’t some kind of blustery club banger.  “Rolling Stone” is the r&b equivalent of a Bon Iver song.  A lonely acoustic guitar, some atmospherics, and Tesfaye’s plaintive voice is all we get and in this case its all that’s needed need.  If you are in the mood for more, head over here to hear six more unreleased tracks that have made their way to cyberspace (including a collab with fellow Canadian MC Drake).  If you haven’t downloaded “House of Balloons” yet its probably about time you did that, too.  Download this mixtape here.

DJ Khaled – I’m On One ft. Drake, Lil Wayne, and Rick Ross

I know I am going to catch hell for posting a DJ Khaled track but I’m going to have to.  This is a strange situation for me because I am not a fan of anyone involved here.  Drake gets credit for being able to rap and sing even though he can’t do either (every one of his tracks is autotuned to death),  Rick Ross is great at rhyming his name with boss but not much else,  Lil Wayne continues to be the most over hyped artists in hip hop today (just because he calls himself the “greatest rapper alive” doesn’t mean its true), and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I dislike DJ Khaled (for fun some time google “what does DJ Khaled do?” and see how many hits you get).  Honestly, if the song didn’t make The Playlist over at Pitchfork I wouldn’t have given it a second look.

Now all that is out of the way, and hopefully I still have a little of my indie street cred left, this song is great.  It just is.  Yes it is about drugs and sex.  “All I care about is money in the city that I’m from/Im’ma sip until I feel it/Im’ma smoke until its done,” as Drake’s hook goes.  Sure its not breaking any new ground but its the hip hop equivalent of a summer blockbuster.  This song is like Thor while someone like Shabazz Palaces is more akin to the artier Black Swan.  Its entertainment you don’t have to think to much about.  There is no satire or hidden meaning, just sit back and enjoy it.

While all three guests manage to put out stellar verses the highlight of the track is the production by T-Minus and Noah “40” Shebib.  Those herky-jerky synths, when listened to alone, don’t sound like they would work for any of these artists but somehow they work for all three.

So, here you go everyone, your first summer blockbuster.  Whether you like it or not.