Young Fan’s Game: A Perspective On Ageism In Hip-Hop (by Juliet Gomez)

On Friday, June 30th, Jay-Z is releasing his fourteenth studio album, 4:44. Before its announcement, mysterious signs with the numbers “4:44” were popping up all over New York, including a full screen ad in Times Square. From there, the speculation began and a hope was born among fans, old and new. Were we FINALLY getting another Jay-Z album? When it was confirmed that the 4:44 ads were in fact promotion for his album, there was a mixed response. Elation from his fans tempered by ambivalence or disinterest from the folks who don’t get down with Hova. And, with reason, a bit of nervousness hangs in the air. Those who love Hov have been disappointed with his recent releases and so are managing their (ok, fine, our) expectations appropriately.

With his album release announcement, there was something else that crept into the broader discussion, though. Unsurprisingly, the intolerance for older hip-hop heads creating, consuming, and taking up space in hip-hop made its appearance. It’s been questioned whether a father, a husband, and a rapper who is just a cup of coffee away from 50 has anything interesting to say.

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How To Upload Music From Your Local Files To Spotify

Hip-hop’s undergoing something of a quiet crisis in that, due to the popularity of streaming, many are at risk of losing a lot of mixtape jewels and rare freestyles simply due to the fact that streaming services can’t feature them.  While I understand the legalities, it’s unfortunate that because it’s a genre based around taking something old and making it new, a lot of really great music will cease to exist outside of the mp3s people might still own from the days of Limewire. Think of how much Kay Slay, Clue?, and DJ Drama content won’t be anywhere to be found once mp3s go the way of the compact disc. Imagine a world where the only rap music we have record of has undergone all of the legal sample clearances and no one ever rhymed over anyone else’s beat. It’s sickening. So while we don’t have a solution to that inevitability just yet, I’ll share what I do personally to ensure that I’m not losing out on classic music that my favorite streaming service doesn’t have and/or never will.

Why Spotify?

One would think that the sensible option for someone who uses a Macbook would obviously be to just use Apple Music. However, I was a very early adopter of Spotify and by the time Apple Music and Google Music came to be, I was already waist deep in painstakingly curated playlists, some of which had a good following. I also like the social aspect of Spotify, in addition to the ability to embed playlists into my website, which at the time of my initial test runs, Apple Music, Google Music and Tidal did not offer, to my knowledge. I also like the attention Spotify places on playlist creation, with recommended songs to add to the playlists you create, the ability to add an image for your playlist, and just a damn good UI.

What’s the point?

Say you want De La Soul or Anita Baker’s discographies, which are nowhere to be found on Spotify – De La Soul because of longstanding legal issues which make their catalogue unavailable for streaming anywhere and Anita Baker because she apparently thinks making her music only available on Tidal of all services is a good idea. However, if you own their albums outright, it’s your right to listen to them via whatever medium you please and Spotify allows you to add your local files (files installed on your computer) to your Spotify account for personal use (these songs won’t be shareable, but there’s always Dropbox for that).

How does it work?

While you won’t be able to share the songs you put on Spotify from your local files with friends,  you’ll be able to access them alongside the rest of your Spotify collection and include them in your playlists, to be heard on as many devices as you have connected to your account.

  1. Open up Spotify on your computer.
  2. Go to Local Files on the left-hand menu. There may be duplicate songs if the files exist both as iTunes files and in your computer’s general files.
  3. Tap “Filter” to enter in search criteria (artist, song or album title, etc.) to find songs
  4. Click and drag all of the songs you want from your local files over to your playlists on the right or just right-click to add them to playlists.
  5. Sync your devices. If you want this music to be playable on your phone, simply open Spotify on your phone and hit the “Download” button on the playlist or playlists you’ve added the downloaded music to.

It’s a lot easier than it even looks here, but for Spotify users who want to add their own music for convenience, it’s clutch. And it’s a win for hip-hop fans, as we can still have convenient access to all of those rare freestyles and loose records that will never officially see the light of day in a world set up for streaming.

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SADEVILLAIN (MF DOOM + Sade)

Ever wanted to hear the smooth sounds of Sade combined with the cryptic musings of one MF Doom? No? That’s fair. And I’m pretty sure that even now that you know that this is a thing, you’re still not sure you want to hear it but I’d be willing to predict that you’ll be pleasantly surprised if you’re a fan of both artists.

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In Remembrance Of Prodigy

This week, we lost one of the best to ever do it, one half of a group that was also the best to ever do it. Mobb Deep was able to transport a kid born and raised in California right into the hallways of Queensbridge before the Internet allowed you to go almost anywhere via Google Maps.

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Review: Droptopwop x Gucci Mane & Metro Boomin’

It’s been years since I’ve actively checked for a Gucci Mane record. To be clear, I’m not one of those rap critics who dismiss Southern rap – quite the opposite, actually. Gucci Mane’s career snd importance to the culture is criminally overlooked in my opinion – partly because of his own output, though. The problem with Gucci Mane is that for every good record he’s ever put out, there are hundreds that should have never left the studio. Gucci Mane is certainly talented and witty when he wants to be, but stretching that too thin while trying to remain relevant through taking the kitchen sink approach to mixtape output only results in an MC being consistently overlooked when the time comes to give credit where it’s due.

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Review: Rather You Than Me :: Rick Ross

Let’s be clear – Rick Ross can rap. However, he also rarely sheds the immovable heel persona he’s known for, so it’s difficult to see the glint of talent shining amidst the corner he’s painted himself into creatively. But the man can definitely rap when he puts his mind to it. On Rather You Than Me, Rick Ross delivers exactly what’s expected of him in the way of big, blustering records to ride around to alongside a few soulful, more luxurious tracks so as not to confuse an album for a mixtape. The heel persona slips away on certain records, revealing a more thoughtful, vulnerable mafioso than we’re used to hearing from.

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Rapper’s Best Friend 4 (An Instrumental Series) :: The Alchemist

The Alchemist is one of few hip-hop producers that really manage to nail the concept of an instrumental album every time. If the previous joints in this series weren’t an indication, then try out some of his other instrumental albums like Retarded Alligator Beats and Israeli Salad, which focused less on beats to rap over and more on stand-alone records, minus any vocal performances. Either way, this newest offering should provide some dope freestyle fodder or at minimum, something to play at work.

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Systematic :: DJ Shadow & Nas

If you watch Silicon Valley and if you’re anything like me, you stopped dead in your tracks when you heard the song playing during the end credits of this past weekend’s season premiere. If you’re not like me and didn’t look it up immediately, the full song is right here for your enjoyment. 

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Exorcism [Video] :: Quadir Lateef & Statik Selektah

Larger-than-life MC Quadir Lateef has been nice for years, which is something I can say, having been acquainted with the man since Howard University, where his penchant for spoken word and writing were apparent. While I’m always glad to see a Statik Selektah joint getting burn, it really feels good to see the Ruff Ryders imprint back on the scene putting out the same gritty and true-to-hip-hop material they were known for when they initially kicked in the door on the rap game.

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