Stream Eminem – Revival

Eminem Encore-era
Source: Google Images

We have all waited a while to see what Eminem would do this go round so without further ado here is the Eminem album. You can stream below.

The album has come with mixed reactions from fans since the release of the first single, with Walk on Water ft Beyonce. Since then, he has appeared on Saturday Night Live doing a medley that included Walk on Water, Stan and Love the Way You Lie.

Will the Real Eminem Please Stand-Up?

Partnering up with Rick Rubin once again, Em has seemingly created another stadium rap album in the same vein as Berserk from his album MMLP2. For die hard fans, this might be a misstep. So will the real slim shady please stand up? Eminem has been increasingly losing relevance in the rap world of today and losing the good will of his fans. Where are the rap features? Regardless the album will still be a commercial success but for a guy who prides himself as one of the best lyricists still making music – is that enough?

What more can be said of a guy who was once considered a “Rap God” and made powerful emotive music to now chasing trends like a dog chasing a car. Eminem seemingly hasn’t produced something relevant since his Bad Meets Evil project with Royce Da 5’9. Maybe Eminem should take a step back and focus more in position as a producer or label head? It also is very telling that he overshadowed once-an-up-coming rapper Yelawolf who now seems like a Shady records backbench player. Em seems frustrated and so do his fans, so nobody wins when he puts out lackluster music. I don’t know at this point. Take a listen. Judge for yourself. But I am getting off this Shady rollercoaster.

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The Spectre of Violence Around Big Pun’s Legacy

Big Pun Mean Mugging for the camera
Source: Google Images

Recently, Chris Rivers, the son of Big Pun put out a song that detailed the physical abuse that both he and his mother suffered at the hands of Pun. So while Big Pun may be known as the first Latino rapper to ever go platinum solo1, he demonstrated some monstrous behavior.

What does that mean for his legacy? It is undeniable that Big Pun influenced the sound of hiphop. Some notable influences include Jedi Mind Tricks and the Army of the Pharaohs crew. Among G Rap and Big Daddy Kane, Pun was partially responsible for the multisyllabic rhymes that so many of us hiphop nerds geek out too.

But given the evidence presented, he was not a good person. His history of violence has been documented as shown in the documentary clip below.

Big Pun’s Abuse Caught On Tape

And this is why Fear of my Crown is so important. The song is pivotal to Chris Rivers’ career. He’s casting away the shadow of Big Pun, after getting rid of his former Baby Pun moniker. Rivers speaks on something that anyone who grew up in an abusive home thinks about – the day when you’re ready to square off with your pops. It’s a frightening prospect. But the reality for a whole lot of people.

Music as Therapy

Music has the power to heal. And it definitely makes sense for Rivers to deal with trauma through music as therapy. Rivers is a lyricist. Having storytelling ability is part of a lyricist’s repertoire. And it’s most effective when it’s personal. Instead of internalizing his victimization, he’s chosen to bravely speak out on it. This may help a whole generation of kids going through some tough situations. So while, many may see this as Rivers maligning his lineage, we need to think of the bigger picture.

For a lot of kids, abuse is an everyday occurrence. All types of abuse. Physical, emotional, and verbal abuse.

In truth, Big Pun had alluded to much violence in his raps. Pun had been quite paranoid and combing through his lyrics you can sense quite a bit of that paranoia. He was really about that life. This is not something to glorify. Suffering from trauma himself, he perpetuated a cycle of violence. However, that does not excuse his behavior. It also does not cancel out his talent.

Pun was a top-tier lyricist. One can appreciate his craft and still think he was a terrible person. No one’s saying to throw out your copy of Capital Punishment, but we need to accept the fact that he did not treat his family right.

Lisa Rios (Pun’s Wife and Rivers’ mom) has been vocal over the years. There have been periods where both she and her son were homeless. While that may not have been Pun’s fault directly, there may have been certain factors that contributed to that unfortunate circumstance.

In an era where our idols are torn down in the wake of scandals, we must accept that there may have been significant posturing on their end. The public image may not reflect personal life. We would do well to remember that many careers have been built on carefully crafting a persona. 90s hiphop is not excluded from this trope.

Although we cannot apply the morality of 2017, to say the 18th century, we can call out 1950s behavior in the modern era. No one should have to live under the threat of physical abuse. Ever.

We often romanticize the tortured artist with demons. But then are we complicit when their demons take over?  I’d wager no. An artist’s internal struggle is often kept in the dark. While some do mention their personal struggles – music is a product bought, sold, and paid for.

This I would say is the difference between an artist like Eminem and Big Pun. Eminem frequently mentions violence towards women, but the intended audience explicitly knows this to be his dark fantasy and not reality. The audience buys Eminem’s music to hear his fantasy. Big Pun, on the other hand, mentions intense paranoia in his music that may been very real but his music is still being sold as fantasy.

This becomes more nuanced now with Chris Rivers being an artist like his father. Rivers explicitly mentions the violence his family faced at the hands of his father. We now know the facts. We don’t know what remains fiction.

This complicates Big Pun’s legacy enormously. Big Pun, proved that latin rappers could be taken seriously in the cannon of hiphop. What remains unclear is whether or not this will change people’s perception of Pun in the long term.

Chris Rivers as the Future for Latino Rappers

While Rivers is certainly talented and gets his props as a skilled emcee, he does not have the same foothold in the culture as his dad did. His cadence and delivery often sound like Big Pun himself. That’s a catch-22.

Rivers’ sound doesn’t feel like it belongs to the modern era of hiphop but rather the late 90s. And, while it may take enormous talent to pull that flow off, it also makes Rivers sound stuck in the late 90s appealing to the older hiphop heads.

Another rapper influenced by Big Pun is Termanology who has called himself the resurrection of Pun in the verse where he came up rhyming to a Dj Premiere beat. Since then, Termanology has put in 10+ years grinding and making music with everyone from Lil Fame of M.O.P. to Q-Tip, to Slaine of La Coka Nostra.

In Conclusion

Big Pun’s influence can still be heard in music today. As we learn more about the home life of Big Pun, we see that maybe he should not be placed on a pedestal and rather looked at as a flawed human being.

The hiphop community should applaud Rivers for trying to break free from his father’s shadow. Big Pun was a volatile man. And the fact that his son has had success with his own musical career means that there is an opportunity for a larger dialogue to open up. Does glorifying gangster music may have long-term effects on people’s mental health? What should latino rappers sound like? And if rappers borrow from Pun – should they also be made to speak about his violent past as well?

1source: MTV News.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing Domestic Abuse please contact:
1-800-787-3224 (TTY) or visit http://www.thehotline.org/. 

How Emcees Sound in 2018

Lil Uzi VertlLooking away from the camera
Source: Google Images

For a genre of music so focused on words, hip-hop seems to be lacking lyricism these days, focusing more on sound. Artists are continually leaning on hip-hop tropes to pad their bars. “Fuck bitches get money” has become a shorthand criticism of the genre that isn’t too far off the mark. This barrier is partially intentional, keeping the music away from audiences who may co-opt it. However, at this point, the lack of intelligent lyrics has become frustratingly noticeable.

The problem is that the role of the MC has changed completely. Once the internet changed the way people value content, the music itself was no longer profitable. Instead, music became part of a larger product; your brand. The brand consists of many aspects, however, for the purposes of this article we’ll distill it down to three primary facets –  Persona, Image, and Sound.

PERSONA

Lil Yachty personifying the new sound
Source: Google Images

Persona is the meat and potatoes of the brand. Your persona is essentially the amalgamation of everything that makes you unique, and thus allows people to define themselves through your brand. It’s what cements a fan’s loyalty to your brand once they’ve been taken in by your look and sound.

Understanding your Persona is key to keeping your brand holistic, as the persona informs your look and the sound of your music.

IMAGE

The image of an artist is what generates first impressions and promotes the brand. Usually, people are exposed to an artist’s sound first. 

The look of an artist has always played a role. However, that role is somewhat unique in hip-hop these days. In addition to being attractive, an artist’s look shows their commitment to a lifestyle. Large visible tattoos, obscure piercings, and hair are all styled to the point of ridiculousness are all employed to demonstrate the artist’s commitment. The look of a rapper is the next thing one usually sees when exposed to an artist. Thus, a rapper’s look is also a big part of how they cut through the clutter.

SOUND

An artist’s sound is only part of their brand. Image and persona are equally important, as these generate awareness and sell merchandise. The music is mainly an ad for the artist, and the sound is only part of the brand. Lyricism is in turn part of the sound. However, most listeners are content with a nice flow and a sick beat. This puts lyricism as but a small slice of pie an artist must concern themselves with if they want to be successful.

The sound is what hooks people; it’s what gets them to Google your name. This is where hooks and punchy lyrics become important. For an artist to gain some traction, they have to be able to cut through the clutter. The simpler, the better in most cases, which has led to hip-hop distilling itself down to a celebration of turn-up and party culture.

So lyrics have become a negligible filler. All it takes is the occasional punch line or clever imagery to keep people interested. Using these principals, I’ve created a five-step guide to becoming a successful hip-hop artist in this environment.

Step 1: Be interesting

If you look weird or have an exciting story, you can be a rapper. Up and comers such as Cardi B escaped poverty through stripping. 21 Savage has a cross tattooed on his forehead and has been part of multiple shootings. You can also take the Lil Yachty route and style your hair in such a crazy unique way people can’t help but take you seriously. Whatever it takes to show you’re committed to the lifestyle, do it.

Step 2: Create a brand

Now that you look weird and have an impressive backstory use that to build your brand. Your style will inform your sound down the line, so it’s key to define exactly who you are at this phase. What’s your goal? If it’s making a lot of money, start there. Look rich, act rich, feel rich. If it’s experiencing the highest high, then find the strongest weed you can and toke up. In many ways, you need to create a character then become them.

 

Step 3: Make connections

Making connections is probably the most crucial step, you can be the most committed person out there but if you don’t have an ‘in’ then you’re going to have a bad time. How easy it is to makes connections depends on how sociable you are. However, you can make up for awkwardness by being driven. Find out where the people who pull strings are and cozy up to them. Ask around. Climb ladders. Suck guys toes if you have to. Just do what you need to do to find a way “in”.

Step 4: Find producers/ your sound

This shouldn’t be too hard now that you found an ‘in’; nevertheless it is important. If you can work with producers who can provide you with sick beats for you to flow over, you’re golden. Keep your brand in mind when selecting beats. Someone like Danny Brown is going to pick very different beats from someone like Jay-Z; largely because their brands are at odds.

Step 5: Release a debut album

Now that you’ve laid down some easy going flows, it’s time to put it all together and release an album. I’d recommend having at least an EP to generate some baseline hype. However, this is optional. At this point plug the shit out of your album. Blast it on Instagram. Go on Hot Ones.  Make appearances. Use the album as an excuse to get seen an promote your brand.

*note: none of those steps involves learning to rap

Now that you’re a part of the machine, just ride out your success. Keep the wheel turning; more albums means more promotions means more sales means more money. Just remember not to betray your brand, or you may compromise your core fans. Stay true to the brand and have fun being rich. You are welcome.

Pixar’s Coco a Boxoffice Smash

Disney Pixar’s Coco opened at the box office to $71.2 M over the last 5 days. And proves that latinos make up a significant part of the movie-going public. This may incentivize Hollywood to produce more cultural diverse stories.

Coco is themed around Mexico’s Day of the Dead or  Dia de los Muertos, and has become Mexico’s highest grossing movie of all time beating out the Avengers. For good measure Disney Pixar studios hired cultural consultants to make sure the story was authentic.

The film, directed by Lee Unkrich and co-directed by Adrian Molina, is one of the largest U.S. productions ever to feature a largely all-Latino cast. That makes Coco an anomaly not just in the world of Pixar but also in Hollywood.

The film arrives at the perfect time with its heartwarming tale of family over Thanksgiving weekend.  The film tells the story of a young boy yearning to be a musician met with the disapproval of his family. With great humor and warmth, the movie proves to be a serious box office contender. Currently, it has a 96 % rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Hollywood may finally be learning after the #OscarsSoWhite scandal and Lala Land and Moonlight disaster, that future success means more inclusivity and diversity.

Jay-Z’s “4:44” Puma’s get a limited release date

In the spirit of the 4:44 album, Jay-z is releasing a limited edition sneakers in partnership with Puma via Kith. How many pairs? Only 44 to be released, with one coveted pair having enclosed concert tickets. The shoes were unveiled by Beyonce in an Instagram post teasing the shoe a few months ago.

The Puma Clyde sneakers resemble the artwork for Jay-z’s album 4:44 which is highlighted with a Cream upper while 4:44 lands on the heel. Constructed with a premium leather, we also have the midsole which extends across the outsole. The classic low-top silhouette boasts a light pink leather upper with exclusive heel tabs that read “LGA” on one shoe and “718” on the other. The sneaker presents a clean and minimal look,  while the’4:44′ album barcode stamped on the side gives a futuristic sense to the aesthetic. The peach-colored shoes feature the album’s track list outlined on the inner sole.

The exclusivity of the sneaker is marked on each pair. Each pair is number 1:44, 2:44, and so on. Never have ratios looked so cool.

Puma is on board as an official sponsor for the 4:44 Tour. According to a spokesperson, the brand will continue to collaborate with Jay on additional projects in the future.

Snapchat now recognizes food & pets when suggesting filters

Snapchat is now using what is called object recognition to identify what’s in users photos. The new feature has been confirmed by Snap to Mashable. You can get access to these filters by capturing images of everything from food, to pets to even sports – and not to mention location as well, including concerts and vacation spots.

This new feature is part of a complete redesign. The strategy seems to be a way to keep users from veering away to Instagram. The app’s object recognition will be a way users to personalize their snaps. Snap describes these snaps as part of an augmented reality where King Kong will be swatting away airplanes in a photo of the Empire State Building.

While creating the patent for the new update, Snap pitched a way for brands to bid to be associated with any one filter. In one patent application, Snap used the example of a cup of coffee to demonstrate how filters could go to brands like Keuring and Nescafe, with a bidder take all approach.

Once the bid has been won, the brands will be able to offer coupons and exclusive offerings through Snapchat. This new feature is a way to make snapchat more user-friendly and attractive to investors.

Lost Episode #2: The Gay Rapper Episode

We take a look at the sub-culture of LGBTQ hiphop. Our conversation features a discussion on Cakes da Killa, Myki Blanko, Leif, and Cazwell. And discuss a little-known rapper named Caushun  from the early 2000s who was dubbed to the first openly gay rapper who never put out an album.

We start off with the mainstream Macklemore song, Same Love, as a touchpoint to discuss homophobia within the genre. We talk about homophobia, male rompers, and gay sex in lyrics. Then bridge the discussion to recent conversations about mainstream mainstays like Tyler the Creator and Frank Ocean and the expression of their sexuality.

 

Check below for some great creative music and visuals.

Videos

 

Articles

Review of Cakes da Killa’s album The Eulogy 

Cazwell in an article from Esquire

Mykki Blanco in a feature profile for the Village Voice