I don’t generally post jazz music here, but check out my man Lee Treble.  I’ve got a lot of respect for jazz because it takes true artistry to have your song stand alone without lyrics to dress it up.  Salute to Lee for the Treble in Paradise project.  You can stream the project right here and download it HERE.


The funniest thing I’ve seen in recent years with the growing availability of free music is fans claiming that they are somehow better fans of an artist because they refuse to dabble in leaked music or “pirating”.  What’s funnier than that even is people who will get the illegal download and then still go buy the album they already have.  I understand people think they’re being helpful and supporting the artist and all, but it just makes no real sense to pay for something you already have when it comes down to brass tacks.

The artists themselves generally aren’t concerned.  Take it from Kid Cudi regarding his recent album leak:



Any artist worth his salt knows that (a) there’s no way to stop an album from leaking and that (b) there are still many people, at a certain level of fame, who will still buy the album…a hard copy even.  Hell, it’s the theory of many that artists often play a hand in leaking their own material simply to create a buzz.

Those tech-savvy enough to track down leaks are probably the best word of mouth an artist can have.  Someone who illegally downloads an album and talks it up online to thousands of followers and/or readers, specifically before the album’s official release date, are doing a hundred times more for an artist than the guy who buys the album at Best Buy and sits in his car listening to it alone and maybe tells his co-worker about it.  Even with press copies and advances I’ve received and written about, I’ve had many readers say they’ve decided to buy it based on my evaluation.  Even if you don’t have a blog anyone reads, your evaluation via social networks could really sway people’s opinion on a high level, making the tech-savvy an ace in the hole for artists where many would falsely consider them an Achilles’ heel.

People aren’t as tech-savvy as you may think.  I used to work in technical support and still do in a capacity.  I’m not a whiz kid when it comes to computers, but I’m still forever amazed that people in 2013 are still using AOL or Internet Explorer or…dial-up…oh yes, dial-up.  These people have no idea what a torrent is and barely know that artists release free music online from time to time that you can’t find in stores.  These people are still buying hard copies of CDs in the case because they feel like the sound quality is better…as if they were copping vinyl.  And I don’t mean to come off as a technology snob; I’m just trying to prove the point that there are those who still need to purchase physical copies of music and these people will forever pay for records in the store.

No money like show money.  True artists recognize the value (artistic and monetary) in performing for their audience.  You can’t download an experience and I’d be more enthused about paying for an artist’s live show than paying for something I can get for free and well before the label is expecting that I am supposed to have it.  The best effect piracy had on the music industry is forcing artists to improve their live shows.  For example, I saw Action Bronson live here in DC for the price of $15 and the show was so good I felt compelled to go home and purchase all of his old albums because I felt the show was worth more than that by the time it was over.

Doesn’t matter how you hear the music ultimately.  I’ve actually had someone try to tell me that my opinion on music isn’t valid if I haven’t paid for every single album I own, which is absurd.  I might not be as concerned about the artist’s coffers as you apparently are, but that has nothing to do with my ability to properly evaluate the material.  I might not have the disposable “money to burn” income to spend money on things I can usually get for free, but that doesn’t have anything to do with my ability to listen to the music regardless of proof of purchase and be able to distinguish trash from treasure.  

People are going to find a way to be snobs at the end of the day, but I respect the snob who’s about music quality as opposed to those concerning themselves with who paid for the music and who didn’t.  Grow up.  Support doesn’t come from CD sales alone and if you understand the value of art over business, you would understand how piracy, even though it may be unfair, is driving hip-hop culture at the moment and forcing there to be a distinction between those just out for money and those who really want to garner a following and respect off of hard work.


Fresh off his release from the G.O.O.D. Music roster, Cudi released this track from Indicud which drops 4/23 although apparently the streets have already gotten ahold of that leak.  Haven’t been a fan of Cudi since “Pillow Talk” and wasn’t on the Kendrick bandwagon either, but I don’t hate this…


Yeah, so I’ll basically download anything Harry Fraud produces on; it’s not even a question.  Here, Eddie B links up with Fraud for a mixtape that’s half instrumentals and half new music from personal favorites like Action Bronson, Meyhem Lauren, Ag Da Coroner, and Maffew Ragazino.  Can’t lose here.


To this day, this is one of the dopest odes to Black women and women in general ever written in music.  With so many critics always pointing the scope at hip-hop for misogyny and sexism, it’s good to know there are songs like this that serve as a nod to the diversity of messages being presented.  I’m looking forward to new Goodie Mob; hopefully, there’s stuff like this in the pipeline.


As much as I like Mos Def, wild horses couldn’t get me to call him “Yasiin Bey” or to get into his newest single with Mannie Fresh (“Black Jesus”).  This is more like it.  Kanye West produced this previously unreleased track originally recorded during the Tru3 Magic sessions.  Peace to OkayPlayer.


“Put molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it / I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it.”

We’re not accomplishing anything by demonizing Rick Ross.  Ignorance is not inherent evil and shouldn’t be treated as such.  Think of it this way: if Ross thought it was okay to pen such a lyric and we’re just now hearing the backlash about it, there are legions of Rick Ross fans who heard it before now and thought it was A-OK.  That should scare you.  I’m not worried about Rick Ross because I honestly don’t think he’s actually doing what he says like most rappers wh0 rap about an extravagant, blatantly ignorant lifestyle.  What I’m concerned with is getting the youth to understand that rape isn’t just physically forcing a woman into sexual acts using violence or threats of violence.  It’s any situation where a woman is not in her right mind or physical capacity to either consent or to say no and someone still takes advantage of that situation sexually.  I really don’t think some of the youth and even some misguided adults know that.  Not to mention the fact that rappers are running around acting like MDMA (“Molly”) is something to be giving cute nicknames to and writing trite little jingles about.rick-ross-vixen

I’ve heard many critics use this issue to ridicule Ross for his weight and intelligence level (or lack thereof) and also to say that Rick Ross is not a part of hip-hop.  Talib Kweli made the point that if you exclude someone from hip-hop, you position yourself as an enemy and immediately make yourself someone who is not to be listened to.  I personally don’t care whether or not Ross learns anything, but if you’re going to spark a constructive dialogue with the youth who are caught in the middle of this debate and not understanding why people are upset, the solution isn’t to tell them that their favorite artist is trash.  You only succeed in positioning yourself as someone they can’t relate to.  So if the goal was to alienate yourself, then bravo.  I’m the first to say I’ve enjoyed some of Ross’ work since the beginning of his career.  It’s pretty safe to say he won’t be featured any longer on this particular blog, but that’s also due to the declining quality of his work.  Will I be taking “Ten Jesus Pieces” out of my iPod any time soon?  Not based on this, no.  Rappers and musicians of all kinds have said horrible things and rape language has been present in music for years.  That doesn’t, however, mean that this issue shouldn’t be addressed with regard to this lyric.  You can cite a rap lyric from years ago that hinted at rape, but remember that music has never been more accessible than it is today, nor has news coverage.  The more people that have access to the lyric, the more will be outraged by it and the more people will hear it and think nothing of it.  Artists don’t owe it to us to be socially aware and responsible, but I do believe the conversation needs to be had…Ross isn’t the first to rap about rape, but is probably the first to do so at a point of such high visibility in the public eye.

The main issue I have with the reactions toward Ross’ lyric is that it’s being made into a Black issue or a hip-hop issue.  At Rick Ross’ level, the people who support his music are probably not primarily Black, in terms of stats.  This is an issue of rape culture in America as a whole.  This is an issue of re-opening the discussion and making people understand the different instances where rape can occur.  Hip-hop is also not to blame, as violence and misogyny is not something that our culture spawned.  Sure, leaders of our community may feel obligated to step forward on the issue and kudos to them, but to confine this to a “us” conversation is a major disservice.  As a parent myself, it makes more sense to me to tend to my own son’s understanding of entertainment vs. reality than to expend my energy trying to police Hollywood and the music industry and call them to task for not raising my son correctly.  It takes a village to raise a child and though sometimes entertainment can play a bigger part than is healthy within that village, a lack of foundation will cause a child to go astray even if they never listen to one “rape lyric” or watch one violent film.  Mind you, I’m not condoning Rick Ross’ ignorance or his poor excuse for an apology, but I am calling people to task for not putting their energy in the right places…the places that will really get a useful dialogue going and hopefully shed light on the larger issues at hand.

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