Beat heads and production nerds should make note of Jake One’s Snare Jordan project. The venerable Seattle producer has packaged drum kits and various sound effects for sale, so you too can bring all of your bedroom production dreams to fruition. The website also features a great series of videos where Jake walks you through his methods. This week: Drake’s “Furthest Thing”.
This blogger is on vacation, roaming about in the city shown above. From now until next Sunday, DarnellColes (the official 206UP.COM Office Robot) will be handling posting duties. Keep checking the blog for updates every couple of days, and don’t give Darnell too hard a time, he’s just a damn robot!
The neighborhood of Forest Hill is a quiet, idyllic enclave in the central section of Toronto, Canada’s largest city. The district’s broad streets and leafy sidewalks are bordered by expansive single-family homes and an impressive collection of stately mansions that trend more toward Sotheby’s auctions than the pedestrian listings of Century 21. It was on these well-maintained municipal arteries that a young Aubrey Drake Graham presumably rehearsed a very early form of his now widely recognized helium-pitched MC flow, a style that has earned him various musical accolades and an equal number of less shiny endorsements from skeptics earnestly questioning the validity of dude’s lofty position in the rap game…
Are you high right now?… / And I say / Hell yeah, hell yeah, hell yeah / Fuckin’ right, fuckin’ right, alright.
Thanks to my homie for hipping me to this. From the SXSW 2011 files, the vexatious yet shockingly well-informed Nardwuar interviews Seattle’s own Macklemore. Is this a true sign that the artist formerly known as “Professor Macklemore” has finally “made it”? That’s unlikely. But it still must be an oddly satisfying career landmark for The Town’s currently favored son.
Fun fact: before Drake blew, Macklemore had the opportunity to hire mainstream rap’s reigning prince for a “show and verse” for the low, low price of $6,000. One of those fork-in-the-road moments that’s fun to ponder.
Shot on the streets of the city I now call home, this song sounds so damn good when it comes on my headphones at 1:30 am, walking half-drunk through the Lower East Side. It’s a New York thing, baby.
Let it be known, the SEA rapper known as Eighty4Fly is not a man wishing to have his voice be heard from the underground. The subterranean recesses where the majority of Eighty’s fellow small-market emcees are cutting their teeth is a place where rappers on the come-up are paid in favors, free press and maybe a co-sign by rap tastemakers like 2DopeBoyz. If they’re lucky. Ain’t no rapper makin’ Young Money money when the only venue he/she is playing is in Seattle on Thursday nights.
And really, can anyone blame rappers like Eighty for aiming at that higher tax bracket? When similarly talented “emcees” like Drake are “telling punchlines for money,” a hungry cat like Eighty is surely dreaming of the day he can turn his black leather sofa into one money green like Biggie’s. Judging by his most recent free mixtape, 1st Class In Fly World, I’d say his chances are about fifty/fifty that those dreams come to fruition.
Not saying that Eighty isn’t putting his best foot forward, but 1st Class, though longer and slightly more expansive musically than his previous ‘tape, The Eighty4Fly Project, is still a lot of style over substance. The Clear Channel appeal of tracks like “Power” and “Good Life” is apparent, and the wet dream money fantasy, “Such A Millionaire,” sounds like diamonds dripping onto the hood of a pearl white Maybach. While these full-pocket reveries are clearly not my sh-t, I still appreciate them for what they are. The problem here is that I am listening intently for more. Hoping, wishing — praying, even — that Eighty is able to step up his game, lyrically. Yet he consistently lets me down.
Eighty4Fly, like most rappers who can still recall what it is to be an artist whose medium is words, is at his best when being one of two things: 1) grimier, like on the refreshingly pure “Hip Hop Shit;” and 2) introspective, as he is on the moment-of-truth ballad “Optimistic.” Maybe some would qualify me as a hater and maybe I’ve outlived my usefulness when it comes to considering the range of quality across the breadth of hip-hop’s now vast landscape. But I’m sure even the most expert of culinary experts would grow tired of eating the same dish fifteen times out of seventeen meals, even if that dish was prepared by a chef with the greatest authority in his particular comestible genre. And therein lies the main gripe I have with Eighty4Fly: he’s not even an expert in his own field. By all accounts he’s a coach-class rapper who manages to bump his way into first-class from time to time. Until he proves otherwise, label me a skeptic.
(Click the album covers below for the FREE download link for 1st Class In Fly World.)
The eight tracks on The Eighty4Fly Project are big, anthemic paeans to club life. In Eighty4Fly’s world, emcees get dissed and their girls get scooped on the regular. Sometimes he sounds like Drake, and sometimes he sounds like an emcee worth his weight in jewels. Either way, the sh-t’s undeniably catchy. Download for FREE below.
And the video for the single “So Cool” (directed by Jon Augustavo):
This is how I prefer my Drake: in small doses over mid-tempo, R&B-inflected grooves. The much-traveled “Love & Gunz” (produced by Tha Bizness) now sees the light of day with a new title (“Overdose”) and the lovely Choklate providing the majority of the emotional heft. Drake-onian style emo-rap is better with real singing talent to back it up. Click here for the download link.