Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Top 10 to Watch For - #5 Curren$y

Curren$y, also known as the Hot Spitta or just Spitta, has been one to watch for, for quite a long time. Hailing from New Orleans, the same city as “The Greatest Rapper Alive.” He signed to Master P’s No Limit records in 2005 and left that for Young Money in 2007. He was featured on The Carter II and had a ton of hype surrounding him as he gave genius versus on the Dedication mixtape series as well but as time went on and Young Money refused to release is album he lost the buzz.

Eventually he left the label because he was not a priority and wasn’t getting the attention he felt he deserved. Fast forward to 2008 having released a few mixtapes, Curren$y went on a binge releasing 7 mixtapes this past year a lone. He had to earn back trust from his old fans that had lost hope as well as gain enough support elsewhere to warrant his own album being released. He finally dropped his first studio album This Ain’t No Mixtape in 2009 independently through different electronic sources. And this album does not disappoint, even for the wait.

A very casual and laidback feel, this music can be played at pretty much any time. He always brings it hard and his lyricism is impressive and still improving as you listen to his mixtapes in sequential order. As the chorus of Elevator Musik goes “this is elevator music/ all we do is ride around and get high to it” and much of his music is designed for people to cruise around or smoke too. Being a huge fan of marijuana, that theme appears in much of his music but do not think that all of his stuff sounds the same or that it will get boring. I am just trying to convey the chill sound that comes from the speaker. Much of the time, I imagine Hot Spitta recording his music just lounging in a Lay-Z-Boy.

His biggest attribute is his flow. His voice may be annoying to some people (I have not heard anyone complain, but I imagine some people may feel that way) but I think it just adds to his sound. No matter what tempo the song is at, he effortlessly rides the rhythm stringing together multiple words. Although he has already released an album, I still consider Curren$y an artist to watch for because he is not going anywhere but up. While there are many talented emcees from NO, as well as many popular ones, I cannot say that Curren$y is the best from New Orleans, but he is underrated and is definitely at near the top of my list of rappers from there.

I don't feel like zipping and uploading every mixtape so I am just putting four. Here is the link to buy his album (because I am not giving away music that should be purchased) GO SUPPORT THE ARTIST, he is releasing this independently with his own money.

Fast Times at Ridgemont Fly - downlo@d

Fear and Loathing in New Orleans - downlo@d

Super Tecmo Bowl - downlo@d

Welcome to the Winner's Circle - downlo@d
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Monday, June 29, 2009

New Artist: Life Don and Najea

I was at Venice Beach the other day and there were quite a few rappers out there promoting cds and mixtapes. I ran into two guys, Life Don from Watts, Ca and Najea from Compton, Ca. They played me some of their music and I really enjoyed it. Having received just a sample at the beach, I immediately threw their cd in my car player and listened to it straight through. I was very impressed at the professional production and sound quality (that is sometimes missing from street artists) as well as the general style of the mixtape.

These guys have a real West Coast sound; one that could be found in the 90s but easily keeps up with the times even today as 2010 approaches. Having worked with artists such as Turf Talk and San Quinn from the Bay Area they keep the whole coast on lock, branching out from just the Southern California area. They’ve opened for artists from E-40 to Snoop Dogg to Nelly and claim to have sold over 100,000 copies of various tapes just through word of mouth and street hustling.

Their music definitely has a street feel and seems to be authentic as they are out there making a living every day. Where as artists like NaS, Jay-Z and even 50 Cent may have lost touch with that aspect of their life as they became rich, Najea and Life Don are still here and still represent. If you like that hardcore west coast sound (Ice Cube, NWA, Ice T) then these guys are definitely worth checking out!

If you like what you hear/read then go check their myspace and support the artist!

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

In Honor

Ive been sitting on this album for a minute now..Just felt the time was appropriate to share with everyone. Thrillmatic is a very interesting effort by Danimal, which mixes two of arguably the greatest albums ever in Thriller by Michael Jackson and IllMatic by NaS, and definetley deserves a listen.
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Friday, June 26, 2009

What you probably didn't know about MJ...

Sorry to do another post on him... But what you probably didn't know is that Michael was an inventor. You guys remember Smooth Criminal? Remember in the video how they all lean over at a 45 degree angle? Well, if you don't I've embedded the video. Anyways, turns out Michael had a patent on special shoes that he made to make that possible. Yes, that's right, it was done with shoes, not wires or anything. Check it out...

Text not available
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Michael Jackson Tributes

Michael Jackson's contribution and effect on the musical world is undeniable. He has served as an inspiration for many artists including Djs and emcees involved in hip hop. I have compiled the tributes that I could find and will link them below with a description. If you see some artists you already know make sure to hear their tribute but I would strongly recommend checking it all out. Defiantely leave a comment saying which one(s) is your favorite(s). Hit the jump for links.

First up, Rhymefest created a tribute mixtape to Michael Jackson back in 2007. I feel that it should be put first because it was a tribute to his music while he was alive and not just in memory. Rhymefest had this to say, "People like to refer to MJ as the King of Pop. I disagree. I think many of us realize he was the King of Music, redefining the way many artists approach their craft; whether it be Hip-Hop, soul, R&B, blues, pop and rock. Please download MAN IN THE MIRROR and recapture his misunderstood beauty."
Man in the Mirror Mixtape - downlo@d

Next we have a song by The Game featuring Chris Brown, Diddy and Polow Da Don called "Better on the Other Side"

Cymarshall Law also made a tribute track, he said that he wrote it yesterday and that he wasn't planning on releasing it but when he woke up this morning he felt that other people should get to hear it. We are lucky he felt that way, great track.

FWMJ made a HIStory Remix with J DIlla's music.

And as for some DJs:
J. Period put together a mix that he says is not a greatest hits or best of, "it is simply a stream-of-consciousness mix of my own personal favorite Michael Jackson records, plus some unreleased rarities and demo versions of MJ classic." He hopes that no matter what you think of the man, you enjoy the music.
Man or the Music - downlo@d

Another mix done by DJ Aryes in tribute of the King of Pop.

DJ Jaycee gives us a "soulful" mix of 37 tracks mixed together.
The Soulful Years - downlo@d

Finally we have Cookin's Soul Tribute of mash ups featuring Kid Cudi, Eminem, 2pac, Notorious BIG and many more!
Tribute to the King of Soul - downlo@d

Update: One more from the Press Play Show
Michael Jackson Remixed - downlo@d

DJ Premiere TRIBUTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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R.I.P. Michael Jackson

By now you've heard. Yesterday the King of Pop passed at the age of 50 from cardiac arrest. There isn't much to be said that hasn't been said since the news hit, but we wanted to do a little tribute post for him. He may have been a lunatic, yes, but he was also a brother, son, artist, humanitarian, and most of all a legend.

The fact is this guy has been one of the most influential musicians of all time, and there isn't really a way to do proper tribute to him. Having said that, I just wanted to do a short post featuring some of my favorite MJ tracks. Jump to the full post to watch the videos. I've also included one Janet Jackson song that seems particularly appropriate right now. It'd be awesome if you guys could leave comments with thoughts on the icon, your top 5 favorite MJ tracks, or maybe a story.

It was kind of hard to find music videos that I could embed but here's what I did find...

for this next one skip to 1:30 to skip the intro...

and lastly, as promised, a message from Janet...

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Wale - Back to the Feature Mixtape Review

When talking about the new mixtape, Wale called it “a rapping tape.” He said that his early mixtapes were just a young him trying to get heard, Mixtape About Nothing was proving he could do a concept tape and 100 Miles and Runnin’ was him being a little crazy. Back to the Feature is by far the best of his tapes, and does not disappoint any notion of a rapping tape. Anyone who may have been worried that Wale was becoming too pop upon hearing the single for his album (although I was never worried) need not look further than BTTF for proof he can still bring it.

Beats: 9th Wonder! I don’t really need to say anything else about the beats because when 9th Wonder’s name is attached you know it is going to be dope. That being said, I will expand a little bit. I didn’t recognize it during my listens, but I have read that the beats that Wale used are not all brand new 9th Wonder stuff. But that doesn’t really make a difference to me personally because it is not like they are 9th Wonder flops that no one wanted. Even if they come from some of 9th’s beat tapes, they are incredibly sick and Wale alon g with his features know what to do with them. He makes all types of songs by using his guests and choruses to set the tone for the type of song. This tape took a long time to put out, mostly because Wale was touring and couldn’t put the finishes touches on it, but I think that the extra time gave him time to plan it out even better. Every beat is strategically chosen and placed, and while I do not know Wale’s actual reasons, each song makes sense to me too. Aside from the Chillin (Catch vs. 9th) remix, I think that every single beat on the tape is nice and on point. It is well produced and carries the lyrics throughout.

Lyrics: Wale’s lyrics are what make his music so enjoyable to me; his word play and metaphors are usually clever and impressive. If you listen to his music, you have probably realized that Wale is a huge sports fan; he references an incredible amount of sports and not just the most popular players. I have definitely caught references to NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, track and field, college sports and even ESPN commentators (*cough* Skip Bayless *cough*). I think Wale keeps up his lyricism and proves that he definitely has something to bring to the table in the hip-hop game. I will give an example of some of his lyrics that I personally loved, but there are great lines on each and every song. “The war’s in the form of poetry/ so its straight c4 from the thoughts I bring/ bang! epiphany/ these n****s is gimmicks to me/ I can eradicate a village if you give me a beat/ I’m that bomb when I hand write/ play me for a stepping stone, then, I land mine.” His ability to maintain the metaphor of poetry and words being weapons and war is incredible. He uses double meanings of words such as land mine (getting his own vs. an explosive landmine), all the while rhyming AA for 6 bars then BB for another 2. Not to mention they are not simple rhymes, ending the line with a multi-syllabic phrase many times throughout. And as if Wale’s ability wasn’t enough, this mixtape has more sick features than most people can get on an album. The co-signs from the likes of known greats such as: Freeway, Talib Kweli, Joe Budden, Black Thought, Jean Grae, Royce Da 5’9” and Bun B shows much respect for Wale. He also brings fellow young’uns: Skyzoo, Young Chris, Curren$y, K’naan and Big Sean. No matter what type of hip-hop you like, someone from that style is contributing to this mixtape somewhere.

Overall: On the song Tito Santana Wale subtitles the mixtape “N****s just be rappin’” and I can definitely attest to that. Wale just finished a tour throughout the US and he hasn’t even released an album yet! As I said earlier, for anyone who was afraid he was becoming too pop, this tape proves he can hang with anyone on the track. I did not go into as much detail on a song-by-song basis because I think that across the board, all of the tracks are great and they go very well with each other when it is played all the way through. This tape has many different types of songs and sounds, making Wale’s different influences very evident. There are pop-infused songs featuring artists like Mike Posner, Daniel Merriweather, Duffy and Yael Naim. But Wale travels with a band named UCB and the impact that growing up in the DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) and listening to Go-Go has had on him can be heard on Night Life & Sweatin Out Weaves. Even with “soft” type songs, I think a level of credibility and expectations are met throughout the tape and should be enjoyed until we finally do have Attention Deficit (Wale’s soon to be released studio album). While the album is in no way perfect:

Back to the Feature - downlo@d
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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Magic Music

I've been considering posting a full length french Hip-Hop album for quite some time now. The only thing that was holding me back was that I was unsure as to how many people would actually be interested, as the language barrier can wear tiresome over multiple songs. However I really feel that Hocus Pocus's most recent album Place 54 is an extreme pleasure for any Hip-Hop head. Infused with the influences of American Hip-Hop and Jazz by way of French Pop and a splash of World music, Hocus Pocus creates a beautiful composition of songs. All Expressing his ideals and opinions on many issues including: the demise of "Pure" Hip-Hop, his Love/Hate relationship with France, the universality of music, his take on a simple train ride and the influence of tourists in developing countries. He even has a couple english language Hip-Hop features to guarantee your not completely lost. I hope you enjoy this album and I would really love some feedback from non-french speakers.
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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

K'naan Live at Apple Store in downtown San Francisco

I was lucky enough to get to see K'naan perform live on 6/16. It was an incredible experience because the Apple Store does not hold a lot of people; so it was very intimate and was not the normal concert feel. K'naan performed with a basist, guitarist, two keyboardists, a congo drummer and another fellow Somalian on back up vocals. While he could have just done a few songs and called it a night, he played for over an hour at a free event! It had a very acoustic, very musical feel that made his songs seem less like rap and more like poetry on top of beautiful music. He was essentially doing spoken word poetry over nice background music and you could really feel where he was coming from. He performed unreleased songs/versions of songs along with new and old songs alike. If you get the chance to see K'naan, I would recommend it 100%.
Hit the jump for some pictures and more videos of the performance.

This post is just to give a new perspective at introducing an artist through his live performance as opposed to their recorded stuff. Feel free to ask any questions about the performance.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Tupac

In memory of Tupac Amaru Shakur (June 16, 1971 - September 13, 1996)

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Top 10 to Watch For - #6 Mickey Factz

The next 6 artists were, for the most part, incredibly difficult for me to rank. Depending on my mood most of them could shift to any position but I think that the order I am posting is how I feel most of the time. #6 is Mickey Factz hailing from the Bronx, New York.

He started writing raps at a very young age and tries to stay innovative as well as keeping tradition of where Hip Hop came from. The only way I can think to describe his music is by saying that Mickey Factz is roughly what you get if you combined Child Rebel Soldier together into one person. For those that don’t know, CRS is a super group made of Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco and Pharell Williams who have only put out one track but have much promise. Listening to a Mickey Factz mixtape is like listening to a compilation of those 3 guys, he brings many musical aspects from Kanye, such as soul samples. His lyrics are always on point and he brings a consciousness that definitely evokes thoughts of Lupe Fiasco. Finally, there are tracks where he “spazzes out” as if he was performing over a guitar based fusion beat off of the latest N.E.R.D. album. My personal favorite song by Mickey Factz is a lesser known one called Water featuring Lauryn Hill. I like the lyrics so much that I have been searching for them in a written form. He is just poetic as he compares love and his girlfriend to water and is able to keep it going throughout the whole song building beautiful imagery but without reusing comparisons or making it boring. If ever people doubt hip hop's connection to poetry or art, Water will be one of the first tracks I play for them to defend the point.

Mickey Factz currently has 5 free mixtapes out, as we wait for his debut album (I believe he is signed with ROC Nation right now). I will post links to all of them but I just want to make a little not about two of them. In the beginning of 2008, Mickey began a series titled “The Leak” in which he would release a new song every week, it caught the attention of all the blogs (around at the time) and built a huge buzz around him. He has created two mixtapes from those songs so far: The Leak Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. He has already given us plenty of great music but I know there is much more to come.

Flasback Vol. 1 - downlo@d

Heaven's Fallout - downlo@d

In Search of N.E.R.D. - downlo@d

The Leak Vol. 1: The Understanding

The Leak Vol. 2: The Inspiration - downlo@d
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Strange Journey Volume One

The Cunninlynguists have been releasing amazing music since their debut album Will Rap For Food and their latest installment doesn't dissapoint. Iv'e been bangin this album front to back (including the instrumentals which compromise the last 7 tracks) on a regular basis since i got it about a week ago. The concept behind the Strange Journey albums are the misadventures of 3 young men( Natti, Kno and Deacon). Volume One chronicles their short yet eventful time with an old stolen van and features Killer Mike, Khujo of Goodie Mob, Skinny DeVille and Fish Scales of Nappy Roots, Slug of Atmosphere, Tonedeff, PackFM, Substantial, Mac Lethal, Looptroop Rockers, Hilltop Hoods, and former group member Mr. SOS.
Strange Journey Volume Two drops this September and features Sean Price, Blue Sky Black Death, Bronze Nazareth, Poison Pen, Guilty Simpson and J-Zone!

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Graffiti: Art of the People

Here's a piece from Mark Jenkins done last April in Malmö, Sweden. Click on the images to see bigger versions.

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Mos Def - The Ecstatic

So, the long awaited (at least by me) album The Ecstatic from Mos Def just dropped yesterday. It's a lot shorter than a lot of previous stuff, but a knockout like always. Mos Def, who recently called out H.O.V.A. and Weezy for their "Greatest Rapper in the World" self-titles, comes with one of his most political works yet (listen to "Auditorium"). In fact, the intro to the album starts us off thinking about the historic presidential shift we've seen this year. We also see that influence from his recent South America trip on "Casa Bey" and "No Hay Nada Mas". The work is strong in that it does a lot of different things, but is still able to maintain a unified sound. There's definitely something on here for everyone, and the one thing he doesn't have are those musical rants we've heard in the past from him, which have always come with mixed reviews from fans. So, if you've been a fan of even only one past work of his, I'd reccommend The Ecstatic. Continue Entry»

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Top 10 to Watch For - #7 Bobby Ray (aka B.o.B.)

#7 artist to watch for is holding down the Dirty South, hailing from Atlanta Georgia. B.o.B. or Bobby Ray as he is known now is signed to T.I.’s record label and has done quite a few performances alongside the established rapper already. He is currently working on his first album which is to be titled The Adventures of Bobby Ray and should be due out in the fall of 2009. He has released 4 mixtapes, although I really only listen to one, have come out in the last two years giving people a great amount of good listens while waiting for the album.

He really got into Hip Hop in the 3rd grade and that is when he began to mess around making music. Making music was not just writing rhymes though, he also learned the program Fruity Loops and he was constantly making beats as well. At the age of 14, he sold one to Cliti who was a part of Slip-N-Slide Records at the height of their popularity. Bobby Ray is still making beats as well as rhymes, cause he produces most the stuff on his tapes.

Bobby Ray has a very interesting style in which his many different influences are very evident. Who the Fuck is B.o.B.?!? may not sound like your average hip-hop album but that is what I like about it. It doesn’t get boring between a jazz infused track to a straight classic hip hop beat and then Bobby Ray going off on some funk type isht. Probably my favorite song hands down on the mixtape is Lonely People in which his creativity is very apparent as he samples a Beatles song. Bobby Ray is going to bring big things to music because, in a place where many radio hits can sound similar and artists use formulas to gain hits, he brings innovation and originality. He is a part of what hip hop needs, and definitely a breath of fresh air.

I am putting links to two of Bobby Ray's mixtapes: Cloud 9 and Who the Fuck is B.o.B.!?. There are two other compilations that have some overlaps as well as new material so I combined the new songs from both mixtapes into one file and will post that link as well.

Who the Fuck is B.o.B.?!? - downlo@d

Cloud 9 - downlo@d

Other songs - downlo@d

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Saturday, June 6, 2009

check this shit out

Pretty sick light photography by Nicki Carpenter. Click on the image to see a larger version.

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Friday, June 5, 2009

Top 10 to Watch For - #8 Big Sean

Big Sean is #8 on the Top 10 to W@tch for series, but I have already written an album review of his last mixtape where I go into detail about his flow, lyrics as well as beat choice. That coupled with the fact that it is Friday means this will be a very short blog post haha.

Big Sean was born in Cali but lived most of his young life in Detroit. Both places have a great hip hop scene so it is no surprise that he has found music and is damn good at making it. He has released two mixtapes so far and his debut album will be dropping this spring. He is signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. music label so he has access to features from Kanye, Pharell and many other great artists.

I will post a link to both of his mixtapes as well the link above to my review of UKNOWBIGSEAN. Something special that leaked today is one of the tracks off his album so imma give you guys that link too. Big Sean is a very impressive talent and I can’t wait to see what he does for years to come.

Family Famous the Mixtape - downlo@d

UKNOWBIGSEAN Finally Famous Vol. 2 - downlo@d

Glenwood feat. Kanye West - downlo@d

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Top 10 to Watch For - #9 Tyga

Coming in at number 9 is Tyga from Compton, California. His eligibility as a rapper to watch for is questionable since he already has an album out but I believe that his new style should count as restarting his career. Also before I start, I must admit that I have not listened to his first album, No Introduction, but I remember the single and it was not the most impressive.

Music runs in the family, Tyga is the cousin of Travis McCoy from Gym Class Heroes. Tyga actually got into the music business opening for Gym Class Heroes on a tour in 2007. His latest mixtape, Outraged & Underage is a very impressive exhibit of lyricism. He has developed his flow and word play that displays his maturation over the past years. Where he started out as a pop like singer/rapper with lines like “what a mess, but we cleanin’ the club/ice so bright make a fight scene in the club/ don’t test, cause there’s beams in the club…” and the song goes on. Now, while he is nowhere near the top, he has began to use off-rhymes and some inward rhyming as well as heard on the song Cali Love “I’m the one next to best does it/remove your ear plug-ins I never stutter/until now brother my city will now love me.” I am impressed with the strides he has taken and can’t wait to hear his future projects. He has a mixtape that is due any day now, called The Potential and an album dropping next quarter some time.

Whatever you hear his name on, I think it will be worth a listen because Tyga is bringing it on each and every track.

Outraged & Underage - downlo@d

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New WALE Video "Chillin"

i don't usually even like Lady GaGa but she sounds and looks hot on this track with him. Continue Entry»

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Hip Hop Activism

Hip hop has always been a movement of activism in some way or another. Of it's many forms, graffiti is one of the media which lends itself to this. Today, graffiti--like all forms of hip hop--doesn't exist just in the inner-cities of the U.S. This new video from Time Magazine shows how graffiti artists in Ramallah are using the Palestine-Israeli separation barrier almost as a meta-commentary on the walls presence. A group of artists at www.sendamessage.nl are posting any message for a price of $40 that doesn't promote hate or racism. They've also started a project using 400 cans of spray paint to tag an essay by a South African antiapartheid activist. The video is a little dry coming from Time, but it's still pretty interesting and you can see some of the works they've done on the wall. Check it out here. Continue Entry»

Top 10 to Watch For - #10 KiD CuDi

KiD CuDi is a young emcee hailing from Cleveland, Ohio. In the case that you haven’t heard of him or heard his stuff, don’t judge him based on where he is from cause he brings a lot of interesting stuff to the table. He has yet to release an album but his musical contributions are still abundant.

His original and only mixtapes titled A Kid Named Cudi is a very good listen. Being his only release it is very impressive that he is signed to a major record label, and that major label is G.O.O.D. Music led by Kanye West. Since has been signed he appeared on Kanye’s latest album as well as 88-keys’. His hit song Day N Nite was played on Entourage and gained the biggest success so far reaching Top 10 lists on iTunes as well as constant radio play. With some fame behind him, Datnewcudi.com and DJ E-V put together a compilation of his newer unreleased music and titled their mixtape Dat Kid From Cleveland. I like it more than his first and show his growth musically even in a relatively short amount of time.

In my opinion, KiD CuDi is the least impressive lyricist of the artists to watch for series but I put him up there because he does know how to make music sound good. An artist can have incredible lyrics without flow or if they don’t have a good ear for choosing beats then it can be wasted so lyricism is not the only important factor. Similar to Kanye West, who is not an amazing emcee but consistently puts out worthwhile music, I think that KiD CuDi has great crossover appeal and will get play on Hip Hop/R&B/Pop radio stations alike. He likes to change his voice and pace up all the time ranging from singing to standard rapping and the diversity on his mixtapes keep him from getting boring.

A Kid Named Cudi - downlo@d

Dat Kid From Cleveland - downlo@d

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Monday, June 1, 2009

it's crazy to me...

Dj Vinroc feat. Zumbi (Zioni) & Jenisis-"LuvLuv from Vinroc on Vimeo.

... that people are listening to "birthday sex" but not to this shit

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Dayless Nights

This is K'Naan rapping over the beat "Day N Nite" by KiD CuDi. He is a Somalian rapper for any of you who dont know who he is and this song is bout the pirates and everything that is going on over there. Sick track and for anyone who doesn't have it, make sure to cop his latest album, Troubadour.

Dayless Nites - downlo@d Continue Entry»