Archive for the 'Reggae' Category

07
Feb
10

A Tribute To A True Revolutionary – Bob Marley (Article, Albums & Downloads)

R.I.P.

A Tribute to a True Revolutionary

Originally published February 2007, © Rutgers University, Daily TargumInside Beat

Bob Marley’s genius extended far beyond music. On his 65th birthday, we celebrate..

Words can hardly express the significance of Bob Marley’s influence nor can they begin to describe the impact of his life that remains over 25 years after his passing.  The reggae superstar used music to unify, uplift, and inspire an entire generation.  His music was simple yet poignant; it transcended the barriers of race, class structure, and even language.  No other recording artist to date has been able to secure international stardom while at the same time remaining loyal to a straightforward mission of equality, peace, and love.

 Jamaican Roots

Get up, stand up/ Stand up for your rights
Get up, stand up/ Don’t give up the fight

-“Get Up, Stand Up,” 1973

Born Robert Nesta Marley on February 6, 1945 in Saint Ann, Jamaica to a white father and black mother, he was challenged from day one.  His father Norval Marley, a quartermaster in the British navy and wealthy landowner, rarely saw his son and left him in the sole care of his mother, Cedella Booker.  Marley experienced poverty and racial prejudice (since he was biracial) as he grew up in Trenchtown, a slummy village in Kingston, the capital of Jamaica.  Inhabitants of Trenchtown were viewed as neglected by Jamaican society.  Although Marley garnered the nickname “Tuff Gong” from friends due to his physical strength, the consciousness he gained shaped his character and would ultimately guide his lifelong energy.

After meeting a fellow street youth named Neville O’Riley Livingston, or “Bunny,” Marley became interested in music.  He and Bunny tuned into American radio, which exposed them to acts like Ray Charles and Curtis Mayfield, and followed the emerging Jamaican R&B scene.  Marley dropped out of school at 14 and, although he took up an apprenticeship with a welder, his true life passion was to make music.

In pursuit of his dream, Marley began practicing and attending informal sessions run by a famous Jamaican singer named Joe Higgs.  After impressing a local entrepreneur named Leslie Kong with his vocal ability, Marley wrote and recorded his first songs, “Judge Not,” “Terror,” and “One Cup of Coffee,” which marked the start of an extraordinary musical vision.

Rude Boy Wailin’

One good thing about music
When it hits, you feel no pain

-“Trenchtown Rock,” 1973

When his solo tracks received little airplay on Jamaican radio, Marley decided he could gain more exposure in a group.  Along with Bunny and another aspiring musician named Peter McIntosh whom Marley met during Higgs’ jam sessions in addition to a few backup singers, Marley formed The Wailers in 1963.  The group’s first single, “Simmer Down,” climbed to No. 1 on the Jamaican charts in early 1964 and established The Wailers’ unique reggae sound, a combination of tough street rhythm and urban vigor, on the Jamaican scene.

As The Wailers gained a national reputation, Marley’s mother resided in Delaware and had saved up enough money to fly her son to America.  In 1966, the group faced adversity and all but Marley, Bunny and McIntosh dropped out.  At the same time, Marley married Rita Anderson and reunited with his mother in America.  His stay in the States was brief, just long enough to gather finances needed to continue his passion, and Marley returned to Jamaica in October 1966.

R.I.P.

Rastaman Vibration

I’m a living man, I’ve got work to do
If you’re not happy, then you must be blue

-“Soul Rebel,” 1970 

Upon his return to home soil, Marley became increasingly attracted to the growing Rastafarian movement.  The Ethiopian Emperor, Haile Selassie, visited Jamaica while Marley was gone and inspired this religious development.  Rita Marley saw Selassie and converted to Rastafarianism, which Bob would soon adopt as well.  This sentiment was echoed throughout his music – the Wailers’ style drifted away from its gritty street roots to spirituality and social awareness.  This conflicted with the vision of their record label Coxsone Dodd, so the group departed to record with innovative reggae producer Lee “Scratch” Perry

During the Perry sessions, the group recorded reggae classics such as “Soul Rebel” and “400 Years.”  Two of Perry’s studio musicians, Aston “Family Man” Barrett and his brother Carlton then joined The Wailers.  The group released several albums with Perry, including Soul Rebel and Soul Revolution.  By the early 1970s, Jamaica had fully embraced their ground-breaking sound.  It was perfect timing to expand to an international audience.

The World Catches Fire

What we need is love, to guide and protect us on
If you hope good down from above, help the weak if you are strong

-“No More Trouble,” 1973 

The Wailers pursued an invitation to a London-based label in 1971, but were dropped before even releasing a single.  In desperation, Marley approached Island Records founder Chris Blackwell, who was instrumental in exposing Europe to Jamaican reggae.  Blackwell offered The Wailers a record deal with Island, which gave them access to state-of-the-art recording facilities that no other reggae band had ever used before.

The result was the group’s 1973 major label debut Catch a Fire, an international hit album and the most innovative reggae composition of its time.  Catch a Fire addressed social and political topics with a captivating optimism – tracks like “Concrete Jungle” and “No More Trouble” embodied Marley’s view that all people could rise above struggle.  The album’s biggest hit was “Stir It Up,” a sensual love song where Bob’s vocals gently soothed the listener.  Catch a Fire began Marley’s successful tenure on Island and catapulted him to international star statusn but led to another identity change for The Wailers.

One Love

One love, one heart
Let’s get together and feel all right

-“One Love / People Get Ready,” 1977

After short tours throughout Europe and the United States, The Wailers went back to the studio to release Burnin’, an LP that included re-recordings of older songs in addition to new hits like “Get Up, Stand Up” and “I Shot The Sheriff.” Epic rock guitarist Eric Clapton’s version of the latter made it to the top of U.S. singles charts and increased Marley’s widespread fame.

Shortly after Burnin’, Bunny and McIntosh left to pursue solo careers.  Now known as Bob Marley & The Wailers and equipped with a female trio of backup singers called the I-Threes that included Rita Marley, the group released Natty Dread in February of 1975.  “Revolution,” “Them Belly Full (But We Hungry),”and “No Woman, No Cry,” the first hit single outside of Bob’s homeland, highlighted an album that showcased Marley’s committed stance of continuously revealing social inequality. 

The follow-up album, 1976’s Rastaman Vibration, experienced success in the U.S. with “Who The Cap Fit” and “War,” for which Marley borrowed words from a speech by Emperor SelassieMarley’s following among youth in Jamaica was widening, however he would soon be the target of a serious attack.

R.I.P.

Movement of Jah People

Open your eyes, look within
Are you satisfied with the life you’re livin’?

-“Exodus,” 1977

As Marley’s position as an international music star progressed, his political influence increased tenfold.  Each time the group went on tour, their message spread quicker than wild fire throughout impoverished Jamaican youth and international audiences alike. 

Although fans idolized the musician, some individuals viewed him as a threat.  In late 1976, as he prepared for a free concert organized by Jamaica’s Prime Minister Michael Manley, unidentified gunmen assaulted and wounded Marley, Rita, and their manager Don Taylor inside the musician’s home.  It is thought that the confrontation was politically-motivated; they recovered quickly and performed as scheduled despite the scare.

In early 1977, Marley departed to England to record two of his most highly-praised albums, Exodus and Kaya.  The former stayed on U.K. charts for over a year and peaked at #20 on U.S. pop charts on the strength of top-selling hits in “Jamming,” “One Love / People Get Ready,” and “Waiting In Vain” in addition to feel-good melodies in “Three Little Birds” and “Natural Mystic.”  The latter focused more on reggae ballads including “Satisfy My Soul” and “Is This Love,” which offered a glimpse into the singer’s more intimate side. 

TIME magazine referred to Exodus as the best album of the 20th century in 1998, and many critics believe it to be the climax of Marley’s career.  In 1978, at the “One Love Peace Concert” in Jamaica, Marley’s impact became clearly evident as he united leaders from the two rival political parties, Prime Minister Manley and Leader of the Opposition Edward Seaga, onstage to embrace in a handshake.  Marley had fully recovered from the attack and accomplished what no other artist had ever done – used music to successfully resolve political differences.

Uprising for Survival

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds

-“Redemption Song,” 1980

Marley’s final two albums, Survival and Uprising, contrasted in meaning but proved that international achievements were never more important than his message behind the music.  1979’s Survival was fierce and political while 1980’s Uprising was intensely spiritual.  Inspired by a visit to Africa, Survival begged the continent to unify on “Zimbabwe,” “So Much Trouble In The World,” and “Africa Unite.” 

A stop in Ethiopia led to Uprising, a very personal and religious album where Marley’s lyrics reflected his spiritual journey on the worldwide hit “Could You Be Loved” and the acoustic masterpiece “Redemption Song.”  The album appeared on international music charts, acted as motivation for a major European tour, and also led to plans for an American tour with Stevie WonderMarley started the American tour at Madison Square Garden, but fell seriously ill after only two performances.

A toe injury suffered three years earlier in England caused his illness.  Due to his Rastafarian beliefs, Marley refused to have his toe amputated when it became infected and, soon thereafter, cancerous.  As the cancer spread throughout his body, Marley struggled to survive using non-toxic medication but the disease would prove to be overwhelming.  On his way back to Jamaica, Marley passed away in Miami on May 11, 1981 at the age of 36.  His final words were simply, “Money can’t buy life.”

The Legend Lives On

Good friends we’ve had
Oh, good friends we’ve lost along the way

In this great future, you can’t forget your past
So dry your tears, I say

-““No Woman, No Cry”,” 1975

Though his human voice has been forever silenced, Bob Marley’s legacy remains fully intact and has influenced a generation of music enthusiasts to continue the spread of his message.  He was inducted into the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame in 1994 and posthumously received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001. 

Still, it is the continuing popularity of his music that conveys Marley’s ideas of equality, unity, human rights, and spiritual encouragement.  There are countless compilation albums dedicated to spreading the rhythmic reggae that flowed from his soul.  He never wallowed in self-pity, instead opting to use his experience to expose the world to the reality of life in Third World nations like Jamaica.  “Marley wasn’t singing about how peace could come easily to the world but rather about how hell on earth comes too easily to too many,” Rolling Stone Magazine once wrote.

Marley spoke for the underrepresented, unfortunate, and impoverished.  His music was meant not just to understand but also to uplift, not just to inform but also to involve, and not just to symbolize but also to salvage.  Even in death, Bob Marley remained true to his beliefs and passion.  It is for these reasons that mere words could never pay tribute to the legend nor entirely embody the meaning for which he lived.

R.I.P.

 R.I.P. Robert Nesta Marley, February 6, 1945 – May 11, 1981

Studio Albums:

The Wailing Wailers (1965) [Purchase] | Soul Rebels (1970) | Soul Revolution (1971) | Burnin’ (1973) | Catch a Fire (1973) | Natty Dread (1974) | Rastaman Vibration (1976) | Exodus (1977) | Kaya (1978) | Survival (1979) | Uprising  (1980)

Select Compilations:

Best Of | Songs of Freedom (1992) [Purchase] | Collectorama: The Kingston Years (2008) | One Love at Studio One (1964-66) [Purchase] | Legend (1984) [Purchase]

Select Rarities & Remixes:

Wail ‘n Soul’m Singles (2005) [Purchase] | Dreams of Freedom: Ambient Translations of Bob Marley in Dub (1997) | Bob Marley & Friends – Chant Down Babylon (1999) [Purchase] | J. Period & K’naan Present – The Messengers: Bob Marley

Select Live Performances:

Live in Kingston, Jamaica with Stevie Wonder (1975) | Live! – 1975 [Purchase] | Live in Sausalito, CA 10/31/1973

Interview:

Marley Speaks (From the book Marley Legend)

R.I.P.

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09
Jan
10

Writers Build: The Best Non-Hip-Hop Albums of 2009

The Best Non-Hip-Hop Albums of 2009

Gramatically-incorrect, but who cares?!

We’ ain’t done just yet, Writers Build is still in full effect!

And you probably thought all I listened to was hip-hop.. Ha! Gotcha.

In between spinning Mos Def and Raekwon this year, me and my homie Jaap van der Doelen (of The Rap Up and Maasland FM fame) took some time to expand our horizons beyond the realm of rap. What we found were some extremely great projects by a gang of non-hip-hoppers.

Our lists cover many typesof music, including R&B, pop, reggae, soul, dubstep, jazz, rock and even afro-funk (yes, I may have made that genre up, but it’s true). Check these out when you’re not in the mood for neck-snapping beats or lyrical onslaughts.

Click the covers or links to support the artists, Enjoy!

Mayer Hawthorne - A Strange Arrangement

Dom

1. Mayer Hawthorne – A Strange Arrangement [MP3 Download]

2. Michael Jackson – This Is It [MP3 Download]

3. Melanie Fiona – The Bridge [MP3 Download]

4. Matisyahu – Light [MP3 Download]

5. Alicia Keys – The Element of Freedom [MP3 Download]

6. Shafiq Husayn – Shafiq En’ A-Free-Ka

7. The Kickdrums – Just A Game

8. Chrisette Michele – Epiphany [MP3 Download]

9. Ryan Leslie – Ryan Leslie [MP3 Download]

10. John Mayer – Battle Studies [MP3 Download]

11. Norah Jones – The Fall [MP3 Download]

12. J Rawls & John Robinson present Jay Are – The 1960’s Jazz Revolution Again [MP3 Download]

13. Maxwell – Blacksummers’night [MP3 Download]

14. Serani – No Games [MP3 Download]

15. Whitney Houson – I Look To You [MP3 Download]

16. Trey Songz – Ready [MP3 Download]

17. Flaming Lips – Embryonic [MP3 Download]

18. Leona Lewis – Echo [MP3 Download]

19. Keith Jarrett Trio – Yesterdays [MP3 Download]

20. Bibio – Ambivalence Avenue [MP3 Download]

Honorable Mention: Zero 7 – Yeah Ghost [MP3 Download]

Mulatu Astatke & The Heliocentrics - Inspiration Information Vol 3

Jaap

1. Mulatu Astatke & The Heliocentrics – Inspiration Information, Vol. 3 [MP3 Download]

2. De Staat – Wait For Evolution

3. Arctic Monkeys – Humbug

4. Lily Allen – It’s Not Me, It’s You [MP3 Download]

5. Dub Colossus – A Town Called Addis [MP3 Download]

We’ve come a long way in the Writers Build segment, we’ve got a couple more posts left before we’re done. Stay tuned!

26
Nov
09

What Are You Thankful For?

Sexy Turkey

.. That’s the question I’m posing to my faithful readers today on this glorious American holiday. What is it that you are thankful for? Hit up the comment section with your answers.

I’m also hooking up some of my favorite song about giving thanks. These are hand-picked from my personal collection, I hope y’all like ’em.

Have a safe and blessed Thanksgiving all, Enjoy!

Download: Bob Marley – Thank You Lord (Vocal Version)

Dido – Thank You

DOOM – Thank Yah

Massive Attack – Be Thankful For What You’ve Got

Maze & Franky Beverly – I Wanna Thank You

Stevie Wonder – Thank You Love

10
Nov
09

Cop Today: Wale, DOOM, & Wyclef

Wale – Attention Deficit

Here are three new hip-hop releases worth your moolah, even if the recession got you on a budget.

Check out my contribution to The Rap Up Brain Trust reviewing Wale’s new album, and click on the covers to buy the albums at Amazon. Support hip-hop, Enjoy!

DOOM – Unexpected Guests

Wyclef a.k.a. Toussaint St. Jean – DJ Drama Presents From The Hut, To The Projects To The Mansion

18
Sep
09

Upcoming Events

NJ Fest

My bad y’all. I’ve been slippin’ on my upcoming event updates for the Tri-State, but I’m back. There’s some fly shows coming up, come out and support some good music!

BDK

Today: Big Daddy KaneB.B. Kings Blues Club – Manhattan

JMT

Jedi Mind TricksThe Trocadero – Philly

Lupe

Tomorrow: Lupe FiascoHighline Ballroom – Manhattan

IT

Immortal TechniqueThe Trocadero – Philly

Fabolous

Sunday: NJ International Music Festival featuring Fabolous, Buju Banton, Rick Ross, Beenie Man, & More – Newark Bears Stadium – Newark, NJ

The Roots 

Monday 9/21: The RootsHighline Ballroom – Manhattan

15
Sep
09

The Messengers: Episode 3 (Bob Dylan)

Messengers

I’ve been excited since hearing the initial sampler for J. Period & K’Naan’s tribute trilogy to Fela Kuti, Bob Marley and Bob Dylan, and here’s the last tape in that series.

From the release:

J.Period & K’NAAN are pleased to present the third and final installment of The Messengers tribute to Fela Kuti, Bob Marley & Bob Dylan. Episode #3 celebrates America’s reluctant Civil Rights song leader and poetic voice, Bob Dylan. Dylan’s own struggle with his status as a “Messenger” is well-documented: he shunned the tremendous expectations placed on him during the 60’s, preferring to see himself as a songwriter rather than a social leader. Nevertheless, the impact of his music is undeniable and, over 40 years since Dylan’s arrival, J.Period & K’NAAN set out to show his continued relevance, both socially and musically. On The Messengers #3: Bob Dylan, J.Period remixes and re-invents Dylan’s music for the hip hop generation, while K’NAAN channels Dylan’s poetic voice with heartfelt and compelling lyrics. The result is an unprecedented and truly unique mixtape offering. The Messengers #3: Bob Dylan also features appearances from DJ Preservation and bassist, Brian Satz.”

If you missed the first two, scoop up Marley’s here and Kuti’s here. Vibe out to these remixes today, link and tracklist courtesy of Freestyle Madness. Enjoy!

Download: J. Period & K’NAAN present The Messengers: Episode 3 (Bob Dylan)

Tracklist:

01. Introduction To Bob Dylan
02. Rhythmic Poetry (Interlude)
03. Don’t Think Twice (Messengers Remix)
04. No Great Message (Interlude)
05. 4th Time Around (Messengers Remix)
06. Voice Of The Other Sie (Interlude)
07. Lay Lady Lay (Intro)
08. Relationships Lay (Messengers Remix)
09. This Is A True Story (Interlude)
10. Hard Rain (Messengers Remix)
11. It’s Alright Ma (J. Period Remix) Bonus

07
Aug
09

12 Albums You Should Look Forward To More Than Thank Me Later

Ouch!

Unless you’re sleeping under a Dwayne Johnson [II], you’ve caught wind that Toronto, Canada’s golden boy Weak Knees Drake is buzzin’ more than his Martian-like mentor before going, well, anywhere.

With the extravagant amount of jock-riding coverage dedicated to Wheelchair Jimmy, one might be under the impression that his album was the only upcoming release that mattered. Fret not, hip-hoppers, there’s plenty of illness to look forward in the remainder of ’09 to if Auto-crooning makes your ears bleed.

Here’s a list of 12 upcoming albums beyond what Young Money fan-boys and Stan-girls would want you to think. You’ll Thank Me Later.

(In alphabetical order)

Big Boi

Big Boi – Sir Luscious Left Foot

Scheduled Release Date: Sometime in the 4th Quarter

The world flipped upside-down when OutKast released Speakerboxxx/A Love Below in ’03 as two completely unique individual projects by Big Boi and Andre 3000 packaged together, eventually going platinum (though that’s open to debate). Late in ’08, the ATLiens promised a solo LP each plus a ‘Kast disc – high aspirations for two cats we haven’t heard much from in years. Sir Luscious Left Foot will be the first of the three projects, yet it doesn’t have a definitive release scheduled. Critics have mixed feelings about the leaked tracks – “Ringtone” is a Autotune-infected flop while “Royal Flush” featuring 3 Stacks & Raekwon and the snippet of smokers anthem “For Your Sorrows” are wet dreams for purists. I’d still rather listen to Big Boi on an off day than be subjected to the torture of “Best I Ever Had” repeatedly on a certain New York radio station.

Sneak Peak: For Your Sorrows (Snippet)

Bobby Ray

Bobby Ray (B.o.B.) – The Adventures of Bobby Ray

Scheduled Release Date: Sometime in the 4th Quarter

Name change aside, Decatur’s Bobby Ray is at the top of the freshman class essentially due to his versatility. Not only is dude capable of spitting relentlessly unconventional rhymes, he plays multiple instruments and isn’t afraid to go way outside the box, drawing comparisons to fellow ATLien Andre 3000. Boasting a solid mixtape effort in B.o.B. vs Bobby Ray that was as much neo-soul and rock as it was hip-hop plus entertaining on-stage theatrics, Bobby will draw the attention of OG heads and hipsters alike to his debut The Adventures of Bobby Ray. The only question that remains is when we’ll actually hear it.

Sneak Peak: Put Me On

Us

Brother Ali – Us

Scheduled Release Date: September 22nd

If you don’t know about Minneapolis’ Brother Ali, you’re truly missing out one of the industry’s most naturally-gifted MCs. Rhymesayers Entertainment signee Ali has been hard at work for almost a decade telling personal stories of discrimination, coming-of-age difficulties, societal setbacks and spirituality, making it clear that staying true to yourself is the only real definition of real. His The Truth Is Here EP was better than most rappers’ full-length efforts this year plus he pleasantly surprised fans last week by announcing the details his fourth disc US. Teaming up with soul-hop producer Ant (of Atmosphere fame) and enlisting Chuck D, Freeway and Joell Ortiz for guest spots, Ali is setting us up for a disc that could be ranked among the year’s elite projects. Close-minded listeners need not apply.

Sneak Peak: Us produced by Ant

Clipse

Clipse – Till The Casket Drops

Scheduled Release Date: October 20th

Malice & Pusha T are no strangers to struggle. From hustling white girl growing up in Virginia, grinding their way up the food chain and fighting various record labels before releasing a tepid sophomore album back in ’06, the Thornton Brothers are long overdue to begin anew. Some would complain that the duo has always been a critics’ favorite but has failed to register widespread recognition due to lack of support from their previous labels. Till The Casket Drops will be backed by Columbia and the brothers’ own Re-Up Gang Records, showcasing a top-notch production cast including The Neptunes, Rick Rubin, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, and DJ Khalil. Let’s hope the lackluster “Eyes On Me” featuring Keri Hilson doesn’t make the cut and lead single “I’m Good” with Pharrell generates the type of hype that Clipse deserves. Yughck!

Sneak Peak: I’m Good ft. Pharrell

BP3

Jay-ZBlueprint 3

Scheduled Release Date: September 11th

There’s not much I need to say about why the best rapper alive Shawn Carter’s third and final Blueprint installment should be highly-anticipated, it speaks for itself. Regardless of your opinion, “Death of Autotune (D.O.A.)” was the most hyped song out of New York in the past few years. Hov’s live performance of the album’s intro taking shots at various personas piqued interest and a semi-decent radio single “Run This Town” with Rihanna and Kanye West will hold us over until we get more leakage. With ‘Yeezy & No-ID primarily handling production duties and limited guest appearances (only Nas, Kid Cudi & Mr. Hudson plus the aforementioned), it will be interesting to hear the direction Hov takes sans Auto-tune and independent, as BP3 will be newly-established imprint Roc Nation’s first release. I pray “History” makes the cut, but seeing the track list, I doubt it. Either way, Hov is a living legend that your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper looks up to. How could you not be excited?

Sneak Peak: Run This Town ft. Rihanna & Kanye West

Melanie Fiona

Melanie Fiona – The Bridge

Scheduled Release Date: August 18th but Amazon says September 22nd. Also, I think it came out overseas already.. Confusing? Yea, I know.

Regardless of what genre you place songstress Melanie Fiona in, there’s no doubt girl can sang better than her light-skinded, caterpillar-eye browed T-Dot brethren. The 26-year old possesses star qualities –  she’s already toured alongside Kanye West in Europe and her single “Give It To Me Right” has been in heavy rotation, at least in the Tri-State, which is an extremely difficult market to please. Expect Fiona to showcase her multiple-octave vocal ability plus a spellbinding knowledge of R&B, soul, reggae and hip-hop on The Bridge well beyond her years. Don’t believe me? Check out her mixtape with Roots drummer ?uestlove for a small taste of what’s to come.

Sneak Peak: Ay Yo

Kamaal

Q-Tip – Kamaal The Abstract

Scheduled Release Date: September 15th

Tribe frontman Q-Tip led a team of talented musicians back in 2001 for Kamaal The Abstract, a cornucopia of jazz-hop grooves and organic pop tunes that has yet to see the light of day.. Until now. A lucky few have already heard a rough copy before the Abstract’s suffered from industry rule #4080, so all heads should be excited that Battery Records is publishing the final version later this summer. For the impatient, any bootlegger seasoned internet technician should be able to get their hands on it. I still say cop this when it drops next month.

Sneak Peak: Abstractions featuring Kenny Garrett a.k.a. Truth (Link coming soon, Word Press buggin’ right now)

7th Seal

Rakim – The 7th Seal

Scheduled Release Date: September 22nd

Arguably the best MC of all time, Rakim Allah’s third solo effort competes with Detox with respect to giving hip-hop fans blue balls, year in and year out. A decade after The Master, Rakim will craft The 7th Seal utilizing his spirituality (“G” is the 7th letter, stands for God, 7 continents, etc.) and veteran microphone mastery. Lead single “Holy Are You” dropped last month, giving hope to those of us who’ve been waiting since Kanye dropped out of college and Fitty was calling out wankstas rather than being a video prankster that the R would reclaim his throne from a bunch of fradulent characters (I’m looking at YOU Weezy. Best rapper alive? You must be joking.).

Sneak Peak: Holy Are You

OB4CL2

Raekwon – Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2

Scheduled Release Date: September 8th

Once again, this is a prime example of a long-delayed album. Sharp-tongued Wu-Tang Clan representative will finally drop the sequel to mid-90’s classic Only Built 4 Cuban Linx to a generation of anxious admirers. If the leaked material is any indication, we may be witnessing history. “New Wu,” “Criminology ’09” and the J Dilla-produced “House of Flying Daggers” are all rawer than George Jung’s product not to mention Rae’s mixtape Blood On The Chef’s Apron is better than most rappers’ albums. Combine legendary producers RZA, Dr. Dre, Pete Rock, and Marley Marl with the Chef’s mafioso rhymes alongside Wu-Tang clansmen plus Slick Rick, Busta Rhymes, Beanie Sigel, Jadakiss and Styles P, and we may be witnessing history, people. That’s today’s mathematics, knowledge God!

Sneak Peak: House of Flying Daggers ft. Inspectah Deck, Ghostface & Method Man

The Roots

The Roots – How I Got Over

Scheduled Release Date: October 15th

Sneak Peak: How I Got Over

The hardest working band in hip-hop, if not all genres, is finding time between Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and their residency at Highline Ballroom to record their ninth studio album. Black Thought describes the LP as “more positive” than Rising Down and Game Theory, paralleling America’s shifting political atmosphere. Though it’s difficult to replicate The Roots’ energetic live shows in the studio, lead single “How I Got Over” is still a soulful ode to overcoming life’s toughest obstacles. Implementing original instrumentation courtesy of ?uestlove, Captain Kirk Franklin, Kamal Gray and the rest plus featuring talented lyricists like Pharaohe Monch, Phonte and Blu, How I Got Over should be an intriguing listen. I’m particularly excited to hear the crew cover eclectic composer Frank Zappa’s instrumental jam “Peaches en Regalia.” Just don’t count on Def Jam to promote this disc, as they have more important things to worry about.

Slaughterhouse

Slaughterhouse – Slaughterhouse

Scheduled Release Date: August 11th

At this point, including this is merely a formality as most of you have probably heard it already, multiple times if you’re anything like me. Billed as a supergroup, Slaughterhouse may be the closest thing we have to a modern-day A Tribe Called Quest or De La Soul – as my homie Rizoh points out, there is absolutely no weakest link in the group. Royce Da 5’9, Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz & Crooked I all bring something to the table while simultaneously avoiding stepping on each others toes. There is debate about who is the least impressive, but those types of arguments are futile when you’re dealing with such high quality hip-hop. This will easily be in most critics Top 5 of 2009, if not numero uno. For those that want to support, you can pre-order a copy of Slaughterhouse on iTunes now. Prepare yourself for audio massacre.

Sneak Peak: Microphone produced by Alchemist

Wale

Wale – Attention Deficit

Scheduled Release Date: September 22nd

Although the most promising freshman of XXL’s class of ’08 has yet to drop an official album, Wale has consistently put out fresh material with The Mixtape About Nothing and Back to the Feature while holding down various guest appearances and headlining his Attention Deficit tour. The Capital City verbalist and proud sneaker fiend’s debut will comment on the music industry’s haphazard approach while infusing cunning witticisms over funky rhythms & go-go style beats from Mark Ronson, David Sitek and Glitch Mob – picture Camp Lo meets Chuck Brown. I’ll forgive for recruiting Gucci Mane for his latest single, since it’s not half bad. I’m also not ashamed to admit I still bump “Chillin’,” which most of you know is uncharacteristic as I’m an outspoken Lady Gaga hater. Hopefully Attention Deficit is the dose of Ritalin that cures rap’s unfocused, ADD-plagued modus operandi.

Sneak Peak: Pretty Girls ft. Gucci Mane





Corleone, Hold the Throne

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