Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Gangsta Rap: Fact Vs Fiction

How many fans of gangsta rap obsess about the 'realness' of the lyrics? my guess is quite a lot. Taking pride in bragging about gangbanging, murder and stealing is the main objective of the music. Millions of teenage boys idolise 50 Cent, Dr. Dre, The Game and many others for their 'true O.G.' image. But when it comes down to it, how many of us truly believe that these people have blood on their hands? The bodycount of men who died at the hands of Dr. Dre, despite his tough lyrics, is most likely to be zero. And thank god, as why would anyone hope their favourite rapper has killed another human being.

When young fans talk about keeping it gangsta, it's simply playing with fantasy. Rappers become idols like movie stars, in the mould of Arnie & Sly Stallone. Realistically if these people commited the crimes they rap about, we would have no respect for them. An example is Big Lurch. You've probably never heard of him but his short rap career was cut short when he killed and ate, yes ate, a young woman. Now in prison for life, his album "It's All Bad", wasn't much of a success. And as to be expected the man is taught of as scum.Compare this reality to a Game LP, his fans swear by his 'realness', but how many people would support him if he carried out real murders. He'd most probably end up like Big Lurch. Hated and imprisoned. When rappers do go to jail, it's for gun possesion. No dead bodies, no shots fired. Early videos of Tupac show his real nature as a sensitive member of the Baltimore school of the arts, while Dr. Dre (1st On Left) spent his days in Compton dressed like this:Of course a lot of rappers come from the streets and have a long list of felonies. DMX, T.I., 50 Cent amongst others have the jail time to back it up. But the heroes in gangsta rap always fall the victim and rarely the perp. Big.L, Proof, Biggie and Pac all died murdered. They go out like heroes, fallen to the game. Like Dead Prez say about gangsta rappers: "there just people with ideas, there just like me and you when the smoke and camera disapear".

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Hip-Hop Artist

Most people thinking about a career in hip-hop take up rapping or producing. But there are so many more opportunities out there. The art form is as vast as your mind's ideas. Take a look at Khalil Gill's new promotional video. He expands hip-hop's capabilities by drawing his favourite artist's, very cool:

Khalil Gill Profile from Heron Gibran on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Kid Cudi Arrested

Of all of the mainstream so called 'new school' acts i've always had a bit of time for Kid Cudi. Ok so his auto-tuned singing can get a bit annoying and he makes a lot of music about the same tiring subjects of parties and girls. But no one can deny the man puts passion in his music, his debut album featured narration from Common and the mixtape that put him on the map was brilliantly crafted. So news of his recent arrest somewhat surprised me.
The story goes that Cudi was arrested by police last week in New York after harrasing a young woman, breaking the door of her apartment and destroying her phone. He was also found to be in possesion of a controlled substance. No doubt some people will view this as adding to his 'street cred', but really he sounds like a tosser to me. Last year he punched a fan in a case of mistaken identity, he later apoligised but it seems hes eager to constantly play the hard man. How about setting a good example to your young fan base instead Cudi?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Shad - TSOL: Album Review

Shadrach Kabango hails from Canada. He has a natural talent for making pure inspirational hip-hop music. A lot of exciting emcees are coming out of Canada right now including K-Os and K-Naan. Shad is just as good as those artists. TSOL is his third album released at the end of May 2010. Check out his music:Themes:

How many people try to emulate the likes of Talib Kweli and it comes off sounding forced? Shad dosn't fall into that trap. This is uplifting music, but it's not corny. He comes with plenty of witty wordplay and strong punchlines. Clearly Shad has spent years working on his craft. Theres an authentic feel to the lyrics. He mainly focus's on his own view of the world. A lot of the music is getting to know the artist's perspective on life. He's also that good he could handle the best battle rappers with ease. It's the type of hip-hop where you'll sit there thinking 'cool, i know where he's going with this', only for him to flip his lines into something crazy or clever.


The production is very similar in style to Kanye West's gospel-soul style of hip-hop. The standard of beats is astonishing considering the producers are virtually unknown, even in underground hip-hop circles. DJ T-Lo, Ric Notes, Relic the Oddity and others handle production. If Lupe or Common find out about this album surely they will make use of these talented producers. Shad belongs in that class of artist. "Rose Garden" is catchy as hell, sampling that gospel element made popular by the neo-soul movement of Dilla. In fact, even the video serves as a homage to The Pharcyde's "Drop" in quite a humourous fashion.

The album opens up with a relaxing instrumental that uses a slow drum beat and scratches to maintain that hip-hop sound. Then it breaks into "Rose Garden", which feels like you've been asleep only to wake up to a heatwave. "Keep Shining" keeps those big band sounds and is consitant with the spirtual vibes of the music. The album is thirteen tracks long and feels like it breaks into two parts. The opening part of the album is pure cheerful soul, an interlude seperates these sounds to the latter part of the lp. "Listen" and "At The Same Time" are slightly more introspective and minimalistic in their instrumentation. "We Myself And I" and "Outro" are more guitar orientated with slower tempos. Shad shows his versatility by switching between these styles.



Just below classic status. Shad is one to watch because i feel that theres a perfect album in him someday. 'Til then bump this because it comes so close. This is the best album of the year since Panacea and Nas set the bar just a month ago. The Roots are coming soon with their effort and hopefully they can reach this standard as one of the highlights of 2010 in hip-hop.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Illuminati Theory: Just What Is It About?

Hip-hop fans have always loved a good conspiracy theory. From 2Pac's death right up to Guru's mysterious requests. Strange occurrences relating to a much larger answer have always served as a source of speculation. The latest theory is the Illumanti's influence over hip-hop and the music industry. A quick search on youtube of popular hip-hop videos and you will notice a lot of comments that point to the occult nature of the images. The theory goes that behind major music videos are people working to push the agenda of secret societies.

When commenting on this issue, it's important to separate fact from fiction. The Illumanti, Freemasons & Secret Societies are all the subjects of an ever increasing amount of books and films. Think the new Dan Brown and Sherlock Holmes movies. So is there any truth to their existence? Well, their control over world affairs can often be overstated, but an examination of the facts show these groups do in fact exist. The most blatant evidence was "Propaganda Due" a scandal which exposed their powerful influence. This was not a 'Roswell' story but a factual truth which shocked much of Italy.

The three groups interlink and operate in different forms. The strongest connection between them is their goal to control the masses through belief in the occult and subliminal messages. So the real question is not if these groups exist, but rather to what extent to they influence our media. Historically, religion, cults and propaganda have always shaped to some extent the trends in Hollywood. Examples of bizarre cult influences include Tom Cruise and Isaac Hayes. These much respected celebs hold allegiance to the hideous cult of Scientology. It would not be unthinkable that some hip-hop stars of today belong to some similarly sinister groups who prefer to stay hidden.

The most staggering evidence comes from Jay-Z. As an artist, I am a huge fan of his music. However, a lot of strange symbolism is starting to appear in his videos and rather than blindly let them sail by me, I choose to analyse the messages he is sending. It is beyond doubt that his work is laced with occult images; all that's left to answer is what his motives are. One thing's for sure Jay-Z is fully aware of the controversy.

Check out this photo below of him on the set of "Run This Town":

This shirt is no accident, "Do What Thou Wilt" was the message of the satanic freemason Aleister Crowley. The music video itself is also full of masonic imagery mainly regarding torch bearing and power shifts. It's important to recognise Jay-Z works with director's who delibaretly put these messages in the videos, nothing is accidental. In 1996 Jay wrote a song called "D'Evils" the lyrics were as follows:

"Whoever said illegal was the easy way out couldn't understand the mechanics and the workings of the underworld. Lifes ills poison my body, I used to say 'fuck mic skills,' and never prayed to God, I prayed to Gotti (a known freemason).

My soul is possessed by D'Evils in the form of diamonds and lexuses. Was thought to be a pleasant guy all my fuckin' life. So now I'm down for whatever, ain't nothing nice. Throughout my junior high years it was all friendly. But now this higher learnin' got the Remy in me. Liquors invaded my kidneys. Got me ready to lick off, mama forgive me. I can't be held accountable, D'Evils beating me down.

Dear God, I wonder can you save me?
Illuminati want my mind, soul, and my body
Secret society, tryin' to keep they eye on me"

Lyrically this song addresses the Illumanti and Freemasonry. It talks of his hopeless acceptance into their lifestyle. Despite publicly denying he is a member of a cult Jay loves to continually play with his audience. A recent video "On To The Next One" is again full of dark subliminal images.

Have a look at these freeze frame shots:

^ Dehumanisation. A sinister aspect of freemasonry.

^ Bamphomet. The horns represent the Masonic devil god.

This song does not mention devil worship, so why do these images appear? Perhaps Jay believes they simply look cool. Maybe he wants to stir controversy. Or maybe Jay-Z is a member of a cult? I will let you decide. However, the new trend of satanic images does not stop with Jay-Z. Let's take a look at a recent Lil Wayne single "On Fire". The woman he raps about in this video is indeed the devil.

When you add these themes with Christina Aguilera's latest video (in which she performs an orgy in a church) or Rihanna's devilish messages in "Umbrella", a pattern begins to emerge. The fore-mentioned artists along with Beyonce and Lady Gaga are all lacing their music with satanic imagery. They also happen to be the most successful artists of the modern music scene. Perhaps the key to their success are rewards for their pro-illumanti messages.

Remember even if the artist's themselvs don't understand the symbolism in their music videos, perhaps the directors do. The video for "Paparazzi" was directed by an open Satanist, here he is on the set:


I believe we should all look closely at the lyrics and imagery of our favourite music. Like 2Pac said don't just nod your head to the beat, listen to what the rappers are saying. Decide if it's a message you agree with. This can only be a positive thing. But be smart. It is easy to single out images and lyrics to make something look one-dimensional.

For all this devil imagery, there is a lot of Christian imagery too. Think Kanye West "Jesus Walks". So don't start declaring every artist you hear or see to be part of this. I've read a lot about Nas being a member of the Illumanti, this is sensationalism and lacks credibility.

On the flipside, don't be sheep, the media like to push agendas at us, and certainly cults have the ability to influence our music. Just like Scientology have control over movie stars. Trust your gut instinct on what is pure and honest art.

*Much thanks to the Vigilant Citizen.com for helping me research this topic*

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pack FM - IFHR: Album Review

A concept album from talented underground emcee Pack FM. Comes with an optional package deal that includes t-shirts, stickers and a damn "i hate rappers" dartboard. But will the music live up to the hype?


Each track feels like Pack is eager to prove a point. He comes direct with blunt lyricism focusing on his life as an emcee. It seems Pack has a lot to get off his chest with this album. Promoters and rappers bare the brunt of his anger. However, there is a confidence to his lyrics that show he enjoys the disconnection between himself and lesser artists. He has no plans to unite the hip-hop world, if anything he wants to distance himself from the industry. His history of battle rapping comes to the forefront on this LP.

There is a defiant nature to this work. Pack is refusing to give into the demands of success in 2010. When LL Cool J released “Mama Said Knock You Out” the lyrics were angry yet there was a joy in which LL rapped, happily knowing he was destroying his opponents. That spirit is in IFHR and it makes for above all a fun battle record. Expect some disses and skilful rhyming patterns from a man who likes to do things his own way. There are little surpises to be had but plenty of consistancy from Pack FM.


Production is handled by several different underground producers. The album opens with a skit which sees Pack in a support group talking about his frustrations with rappers. “IFHR” is the first record on the album, a back drop of guitars and drums complement Pack’s quick-firing lyrics. “Nasty” is the lead single which further incorporates rock elements. While tribal chanting and violins create a dark atmosphere on “Wanna Know”, an album highlight.

Of the opening six songs, three are skits, this gets frustrating when you consider it’s been four years since the last album. They are genuinely funny but it still leaves you wanting more from Pack FM. “Flux Capacitor” is a retro-style beat. Pack raps over little more than boom bap drums and electronic samples. The 1980’s hardcore vibes continue with “Take Our Place” which samples the infamous “UFO” by ESG.

Despite the different producers, the sounds stay cohesive. Most songs feature old-school hip hop drums and raw guitar solos. “Sire” is a genuine moment of great hip-hop from Pack FM. The album ends with a song called “I Fucking Like Everything”, a typically funny song which talks about how Pack isn’t as negative as you might think. This is followed by a skit in keeping with the album’s themes and a bonus track “Absolutely Positive”.



After a long wait, IFHR is a decent addition to the Pack FM catalogue. It is commendable that he has no intentions of watering down his style to suit new trends. If you love battle records you won’t be disappointed with this effort. However, I would say this is strictly for fans familiar with his music. If your new to Pack start with “whatduzfmstand4”, then work your way onto this.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

John Forte: Water Light Sound

John Forte is an artist who many know little about. He produced two songs on The Fugees album 'The Score' aswell as releasing two solo albums. His music is of a rare high standard and his life is an astonishing tale of ups and downs. His songs are similar in style to Wyclef Jean and The Roots. Yet unlike those artists, John is the victim of his own mistakes.

This year will see the release of a documentary which tells his story. John served seven years for drug offences until amazingly he was bailed out with the help of George W. Bush. The film will be released after John's new album "Water Light Sound" will drop in the coming months. Now that he has changed his life around he works as a teacher and helps with inner city youth projects.

After been released from prison, John immediately set about recording and put out an EP dealing with social issues. He touches on subjects such as prison and ghetto life. Last year he released a video with Talib Kweli rapping over the Kanye West instrumental for "Homecoming". Expect some gems from this man soon.