The Ministerial Mixtape: Sermons From The 1st Half x Pastor Harold

I’ve really wanted to share my material with my friends and peers and since I’m in Arkansas, they have no access to my sermons. I figure I make a satirical mixtape with a strong liberal lean and a stronger critique of prosperity preachers, etc. just to push the envelope and present a spiritual package that is more reflective of our generation.

All of my stuff is free and I’m posting sermons every week from the church I pastor.

– Pastor Harold

Download Here.

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Proud Papa: Glory x Jay-Z f. B.I.C. (Blue Ivy Carter)


Big salute to the proud parents!  Jay-Z and Beyonce brought a healthy baby girl into the world, Blue Ivy Carter.  As a recent first-time dad myself, I can completely relate to the joy and pride expressed in this song.  It’s like you can hear that Jay is smiling in the booth as he shares this moment with the fans.  

Say what you want about Jay (I mean, what can you really say), but I appreciate the personal growth and the maturity he brings to the game.  Who knows…these young ones might get inspired to think being a dad is actually cool…hell, even marriage.  And say what you want about Beyonce (and again, I mean…what can one say), but I appreciate that she and Jay share what they want with the public without coming off as guarded.  In the TMZ era, it’s a rare occurrence that we don’t know every grimy detail of a public figure’s life.  They’re keeping it real old Hollywood that way and I respect it.  

Peace and positivity to Jay, Bey, and B.I.C., who’s already appeared on her first record:

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The Bitch In You Part II: Common Vs. Drake


Last week, I reviewed Common’s latest album The Dreamer/The Believer and mentioned a track called “Sweet”, which goes directly at the jugulars of “soft” rappers.  Of course, the blogosphere and myself made plenty of jokes alluding to the fact that Common didn’t have to do Drake like that, as the Louboutin seemed to fit in terms of the song’s sentiments.  Jokes became reality as Common himself confirmed that yes, Drake could take offense to the track as well as any other rappers he labels as soft.  Personally, I thought of a few rappers that could have taken offense to the song.  It seems that these days, there are too many MCs trying to be singers and too many singers trying to be MCs.  That isn’t to say that you can’t walk the line, but to say you’re the greatest or dopiest doing it when there are clearly greater acts in both categories is off-base and deserves calling out.  It takes an established MC who isn’t worried about the politics or the possibility of working with the more popular artists in the game.  

This happened.

Of course, the Drake stans’ first plan of action is to point out Common’s age (39), as if that has any bearing on anything.  If anything, the fact that Common, like The Roots, can still release a critically-acclaimed album after so long in the game without pandering to mainstream audiences by a bunch of mismatched guest appearances and keeping up with the trends, speaks to longevity and a hard-working MC’s ability to remain relevant by staying true to his core audience.  The problem with many of the 90’s-babies calling themselves hip-hop fans today is that they came along long after hip-hop had merged with pop.  They’re not used to the word-of-mouth classic LP.  Disposable and current wins the day and some of them don’t even realize that a lot of what they call “hot” today will not be something they can whip out five years from now and still have a connection to.   Damn shame when hip-hop gets to a point when the youth claim a rapper is no longer relevant solely based on age and don’t commend the ability to keep making solid music after all these years, whether it’s their taste or not.

Why you mad, though?

As Common admitted on Shade 45 with Sway (see interview below), I also must say that Drake is a talented individual: not the best singer and not the best rapper, in my opinion, but he has a good ear for the contemporary and knows how to create what will sell.  That being said, if we’re talking superlatives, in terms of “best” and “greatest” in this here rap game, longevity rules.  The fact is, through all the faux sensitivity and crooning, Drake will never have the depth to make a “Retrospect For Life” or if we want to go back to Electric Circus, a “Come Close”.  Drake has yet to achieve anything close to Like Water For Chocolate, One Day It’ll All Make Sense, or a Be and frankly I don’t see it in the cards.  The depth is not there.  I’m almost mad that Common even addressed the supposed beef, as an MC of Common’s caliber “calling out” Drake is puzzling, to say the least.  While the younger set will say he’s “hating” or trying to get attention, it’s quite clear that Common is well aware his fans are cut from a different cloth than Drake fans and that  “Sweet” is the result of certain things needing to be called out in the game and it takes an artist with some history in the game to see it and point it out eloquently…or to just kick in the door and let folks know what’s what.

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Album Review :: The Dreamer/The Believer by Common

Though I’m a fan of Common, let’s be honest…the problem that has plagued his career and consideration among top MCs is his inconsistency.  Though it’s unrealistic to expect an artist to keep doing the same things for twenty years, a problem can arise when you stray so far into outer space that you lose your core audience (Electric Circus, anyone?).  Common is, however, an MC who will always be welcomed back warmly.  The Dreamer/The Believer marks a triumphant return for the Chi-town giant.  After two relatively (in this writer’s opinion) forgettable albums (Finding Forever and Universal Mind Control), Com is back to the balance and inspiration found on the stellar Be.  

Production was placed entirely in the very capable hands of No I.D., giving the album a sense of cohesion you don’t hear too much nowadays when guys are splurging for one or two tracks from a “hot” producer and delegate the rest to various unknowns, which can make for too many cooks in the kitchen spoiling the sauce.

 Common seemed to apply some of the formula used on Be to craft a well-rounded album with something for everybody.  While the conscious Common is of course present and accounted for, Com also brings some edge on certain joints that’s just hard enough without contradicting himself.  On “Sweet”, Com goes directly for soft rappers’ jugulars, which can be viewed as a shot at a few specific people if you decide to take it that way.  It could also be general commentary on the current state of mainstream hip-hop.  “Ghetto Dreams” boasts a Nas feature and dropped this past summer, which would have probably been a better time for this album to drop, judging by the summertime vibe I get from a lot of it.  “Raw (How You Like It)” is just dope rhymes and no pretense.

While the familiar boom-bap of hip-hop’s roots is there, Common is also known for making beautiful music with depth, such as classics like “Retrospect For Life” or “G.O.D. (Gaining One’s Definition)”.  That, to me, has always been the appeal of Common’s music: still being able to spit with edge when necessary but to also be able to show spirit and free thought and put positive energy into the music as well.  “The Believer” with John Legend serves up some Black pride for the masses, while “The Dreamer” is a work of art that features the legendary Maya Angelou finishing with some spoken word.  I could really go through every track pointing out the artistry, but I’ll just say the album is worth a listen of your own.  “Gold”, “Cloth”, “Lovin’ I Lost” and “Windows” all make for an album that can be played front to back without a thought to skipping.

I could even see the art in the one song I didn’t like, which was “Celebrate”.  My beef with it lies solely in its syrupy hook, which does an injustice to the soulful loop and keys reminiscent of a Naughty By Nature party joint, namely “Uptown Anthem”.  Regardless, between choruses, the block-party feel of the song is still well-accomplished.  Common’s father, Lonnie “Pops” Lynn appears on the final track “Pops’ Belief” to drop some jewels.  

In short, Common won.  So in addition to getting busy on the acting tip in AMC’s Hell On Wheels, Common may very well have dropped one of the top five albums of the year.  Common’s an MC that more up and coming MCs should study.  He’s not an artist who has had to pander to mainstream audiences and dumb his art down in order to receive recognition.  He has put the work in over time to perfect his craft to a point that the product can’t be ignored and, though there have been some minor missteps, few can real argue against the influence and relevance of Common in the rap game now and in the long term.  Respect due.

Video: “Sweet” x Common

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