Once upon a time in a universe far, far away, HipHopDX used to host blogs. Through Meka, Brillyance, Aliya Ewing and others, readers got unfiltered opinions on the most current topics in and beyond Hip Hop. After a few years, a couple redesigns and the collective vision of three different Editors-In-Chief, blogs are back. Sort of. Since our blog section went the way of two-way pagers and physical mixtapes, Twitter, Instagram and Ustream have further accelerated the pace of current events in Hip Hop. Rappers beef with each other 140 characters at a time, entire mixtapes (and their associated artwork) can be released via Instagram, and sometimes these events require a rapid reaction.
As such, I’m reserving this space for a weekly reaction to Hip Hop’s current events. Or whatever else I deem worthy. And the “I” in question is myself, Andre Grant. I serve as HipHopDX’s Features Staff. Aside from tackling stray topics, I may invite artists and other personalities in Hip Hop to join the conversation. Without further delay, here’s this week’s “Stray Shots.”
Drake – “0-100”
Drake’s got a penchant for snarky surprises, and, of course, for keeping his music knocking around in the back of your mind every year, album or not. 2014 was no different, as Drizzy dropped a slew of loose hits on to the web because he was bored, or because he just wanted to prove that he runs his lane with an iron fist. Of them all: “Trophies,”“Draft Day,”“How About Now” etc., “0-100” is head and shoulders above the fray. Call it Drizzy’s one loosie to rule them all or just a banger, but the “40”, Boi 1-Da and Nineteen85 laced track features a sped up Adam Freeney & Chester Stone sample that still hits you right where your arrogance lives.
This one’s a weirdo. Ab just decided to up and co-opt Jackson Browne’s classic “These Days” to go along with his These Days… theme this year, and it transfixed in a way I can’t describe. The country / Black Hippy hybrid stayed with me like a dusty old terrier slobbering in my lap. And on a bus headed to Sin City, the desert speeding by in blurry mounds like time itself stretched out before me, these lyrics ate at my loneliness like dust mites cling to you at night: “Can I win one time? /So many pills I shoulda slipped already / My lungs the same color as my lips already / Expensive clothes, insufficient funds / Me and my bro’s switchin’ hos just for fun… Very far from home if you worried about my whereabouts / Chasing the light at the end of the fuckin’ tunnel / Pray for Sidney, send Tia a text tell her ‘I love you’ / The devil is a lie, never let him persevere / God took my angel and left me here / It’s heavy here.” Was this just one that didn’t make it on These Days… If so, the vaults at TDE headquarters are where I’d like to spend a day or two.
Jay Electronica “Better In Tune With The Infinite” feat. Latonya Givens
In a better world than this one, Jay Electronica would be considered the king of the “loosie.” He drops nothing but these little black holes. These existential misnomers, which bob and ebb somewhere far out and call to you ever so slightly. Such is this… tome? The Ryuichi Sakamoto produced track features both the prophet Elijah Muhammad and The Wizard of Oz, and you don’t know if Jay Elec-Hannukah is just toying with you over these surrealist tracks as Latonya givens voice crackles upward into the night sky. The mystery of Jay Elec continues, though, since this is technically track number eight of his (well, what we thought was fictional) Act II: Patents Of Nobility (The Turn) from 2012. Eight, of course, when turned on its side is the sign for infinity. Let’s hope 2015 brings Rap’s resident monk out into the wide world.
G-Unit – “Nah I’m Talkin’ Bout?”
After the Unit’s much discussed resurrection took place at Summer Jam 2014, they began to release little loosies to show you the juice was still fresh. One, a remix to HS87’s “Grindin’ My Whole Life,” was so classically G-Unit, that you almost thought it was 50 season again, as cars rolled down Jamaica Ave. clanking Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ then Beg For Mercy like it was the lost 40th book of the King James bible. The grit had returned along with the bravado, and a renewed chemistry was evident as each member put relative bumps and bruises behind them to give the fans what they needed. It also showed Fif’s unique business acumen, bringing the band back together after he broke things off with Shady/Interscope. Everyone benefited, with the resulting Beauty Of Independence wetting the beaks of fan’s for 2015’s seeming takeover. And, of course, the song itself was top notch, featuring each of the members unique talents: Young Bucks gruff, Lloyds bars, 50’s charisma, and Yayo’s intangibles. No Game, no problem, right?