Category Archives: Music Review

Music Review: Oddisee The Good Fight-Mello Music Group

oddisee-the-good-fight

It’s only been a few years since Oddisee’s underground classic Tangible Dream. Tangible Dream delivered from beginning to end as an honest, ambitious, self-reflective, bold and confessional record. The Good Fight is a natural evolution from Tangible Dream with the exact same characteristics.

Oddisee’s usual concerns about relationships and where his art appears in a business that pigeonholes Black artists are two topics rapped about over jazz-inspired production. “That’s Love” dissects and appreciates the proverbial tough love. “When you told me the truth even if it really hurt, cause you knew a lie was worse. (That’s Love) when I had to learn the hard way and you would let me fail but never did out of spite. (That’s Love) When you were giving me advice that I seldom ever took. But your head never shook (That’s Love).”

Oddisee’s frustrations with being an esteemed backpacker in bed with a myopic marketing team is felt on “Want Something Done.” “I just had another phone meeting. Felt like I was all alone speaking, to the clones keeping Black music’s soul weeping. I’m a new angel and they only want the old demons. Glorify the music that’s abusive and a threat to us, and if you’ve got a message then your record’s just collecting dust.”


He goes on further to say, “What’s the difference between an auction block & cooning for applause? Either selling out or something that we can’t afford. It ain’t a plan to keep us poor, it’s just the plan to be ignored. Maybe I should collaborate and record with dudes. Only thing they think’s important is Jordan shoes.” Oddisee’s life lessons and industry critiques are never arrogant or preachy. His philosophical approach and boom-baptized beats and tones always meld together into a ceaseless head-nod.

Oddisee goes into the 11th round with perfect combinations thrown in “Fight Delays.” The song is a quick instructional on how the most successful underground emcees can make 6 figures despite the discouraging words of non-believers who rigidly follow the mainstream. He raps, “They told me this ain’t where the money at. It’s funny that, I heard that mess when I was coming back from another sale, they tell me I ain’t buzzing well. Last year I made well over 100 stacks.”

But it is “What They’ll Say” featuring Gary Clark Jr. & Maimouna Youseff that is the motto of The Good Fight in its entirety. He calls out and names his rap legacy as an enduring one that will outlast his life and will be respected because he fought for his individual voice amongst a tide of homogenization. If Kendrick Lamar took the torch from Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Tupac, and Jay-Z passed the lantern to J. Cole, then Oddisee takes his light from Rakim and the Native Tongues.

The Good Fight is a sonic panorama of hip-hop’s classic ethos and Oddisee’s intuitive lyrics layered in soul, jazz, and African rhythms.

written by Uther Blakwhel @ [email protected]

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In Honor Of Afro-Punk Weekend: The White Mandingos-The Ghetto Is Tryna To Kill Me (Music Review)

TheWhiteMandingosTheGhetto'sTryingToKillMeAlbumCover

Review by:
Uther Blakwhel

The White Mandingos The Ghetto is Tryna Kill Me is the official debut of a Super Group which features iconic underground M.C. Murs with Bassist Daryl Jennifer from the legendary Bad Brains and guitarist Sacha Jenkins who is the founder of the critically acclaimed Ego Trip Magazine. The Ghetto Is Tryna To Kill Me is a concept album about a young black man named Tyrone White from the ghetto who happens to love rock and roll. The CD takes you into a day and the life of the young man as he tries to cope with sudden stardom and fame while trying to maintain his roots in his neighborhood. The song entitled “Warn A Brotha” expresses those frustrations and revelations. It’s also an open letter to the white racist American music industry which prefers their rock stars white and not Black. Tyrone White/Murs says,

“They treat Black rock bands like they unicorns!”

The White Mandingos also get their point across in the video for “Warn A Brotha” by choosing a white teenage male to perform the vocals for the song while he is skateboarding with his friends throughout the video. The song entitled, “Black –N-White” is a declaration of independence for any and every black kid who was considered a misfit because they went against the norm. It’s the sequel to Murs’s “Darkskinned White Girl.” The song also challenges prejudices from Black people and white people who have preconceived notions about what is allegedly Black music and what is allegedly white music. Murs states,

“I’m in a Black band, I’ve got a Black girl but I don’t make music for the Black world. I’m a Black man, Black as midnight I’m blacker than Flavor Flav and Fela in a fistfight! I get blackballed when Black rappers come around I’m too black for the mutherfuckin’ underground. The white fans barely tolerate my black ass if I embrace them I catch backlash from the black fans it’s so crazy yo. I sold out if I’m on the black radio well fuck them and fuck that shit y’all can all open up your white teeth and eat a black (you can figure what he says next). To the white black boys and the black white girls let’s fight back with this noise and attack this world!”


(He also states later). “They say that rock is white They say I walk white they say a lot of shit they even say I talk white cause I like to say like stoked and dude I was wearing tight jeans way before the shit was cool. I like the Cure, I like Depeche Mode, I love Big Pun and of course I respect Hov! I’m a walking contradiction because I don’t speak ebonics or some contrived fiction. I speak in sentences I am literate sorry I don’t fit a category for you idiots. I am just me you should adjust you and if you can’t understand that then fuck you! Does this shit sound black? Does this shit sound white? Can it just be sound? Can that be alright? You should listen with your heart you shouldn’t listen with your eyes never listen with your ears because the heart never lies!”

The song called “I Don’t Understand” talks about the grass is greener syndrome in regards to romantic relationships and the origin of the band’s name White Mandingo. “My First White Girl” goes into the territory of racial stereotypes and expectations in regards to what an interracial relationship consists of and the resentment than can be felt from the black and white community. The surprising cover of Minor Threat’s “Guilty Of Being White” plays smoothly with Murs singing instead of rapping. What You Waitin’ On asks an important question to African American people in regards to how injustice is handled in America, and how will African American people proceed further when all false pretenses have been shattered in regards to how they have always been treated. The song also calls out the latent racism of certain musicians. “This muthafucka says he’s ‘waitin on the world to change’ wouldn’t date a black girl, kind of strange. Is he a racist or just fuckin’ lame, fuck John Mayer with a dick full of cocaine”!

“I Like You” talks about the infidelity and irresponsibility of Tyrone White as he finds out that he has gotten his girlfriend and mistress pregnant. He agrees to take both of the ladies to the abortion clinic so that the ladies can discuss their options. Tyrone White aka Murs gets into an argument with an older right-to-life gentleman and states, “You should have seen the look he was giving me then he started up his ministry he said that the embryos are not the enemy and that Jesus Christ is a friend to me. Well if Jesus Christ is a friend of mine then he understands that I’m in a bind but I’m not the one with the kid inside. Why do you act like the decision is mine these two women think for themselves’ honestly I’m just here to help to make sure that they are not assailed by a jackass just like yourself now he says I’m a go to hell my girl is holding me back so I don’t go to jail. I’m about to swing like oh well but this muthafucka he old as hell might have a fuckin stroke if I hit him but really I was only joking with him we just came to explore our options not to buy you could say we sort of window shopping now we might want to do it just to spite you makes me wonder if your god even likes you. See I may disagree with what she might do but it’s her choice and she should always have the right to. But you never heard of women’s lib Mr. right wing conservative bombs over the middle-east is the only time we should murder kids see you can preach and protest with your picket signs and get pushy but honestly your politics have no place in a woman’s pu**!”

“Mandingo Rally” samples Bad Brains vocalist H.R. crooning while Tyrone White raps about self-hatred in the Black community as well as materialism and selling out just to have a hit rap song. “Race traitor call me a hater sell out your people for profit and paper there’s nothing sacred living in a state of supreme self – hatred. We doing it to ourselves without the white man’s help in and out of jail how the fuck you raise a son inside of a cell!” The production quality on the White Mandingos The Ghetto Is Tryna Kill Me is amazing. Daryl Jennifer’s Bass Playing and Sacha Jenkin’s guitar match perfectly with Murs. It’s as if the three have been playing together for years. This record is brutal with its honesty. It’s also in your face. A potently piercing confessional Hip-Hop masterpiece with punk rock overtones that weave in and out perfectly and fluidly!

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Music Review: Tunde Olaniran-The Second Transgression EP (Self-Released)

Tunde Olaniran’s Second Transgression is the sophomoric offering in a five part series of his afro-futurist dance music. The EP opens up immediately with Olaniran’s heated appeal for personal transformation via “2.0.” Punchy cymbals, a Dilla-like synthesizer and a mini cacophony of electro sounds guided by his hip-hop, punk and avant-garde aesthetic promises a new person and genre. Vocally speaking, Olaniran’s tone is on par with house music luminary Sybil and Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke. “Autonomous” interweaves muted percolated tom-toms with soft rock guitar as Olaniran narrates a break-up with a lover on one track and accompanies himself on another with Michael Jackson falsetto pitches. The EP moves at a sleek nocturnal pace subtly subverting dominant dance music memes with individual co-optations of the emcee and particles of Underground Resistance’s guerrilla funk. “Brown Boy” ends the second movement with a rap dedicated to the stereotyped marketing plans for Black artists that progresses into a carnival-esque layer of house. The Second Transgression is an original reinvention of electro that places Olaniran as the love child of Santigold and Kele with Missy Elliot as his aunt.

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Music Review: M.O.P.-Sparta-Babygrande Records

M.O.P.’s club exclusive hip-hop is an uber-masculine hybrid of the mosh pit and the streets. For 19 years Lil’ Fame and Billy Danze have made music that could hype any sporting event and excuses itself from commercial aspirations despite “Ante Up’s” brief with dalliance with MTV’s audience. Sparta maintains the ground they have always stood on; rowdy, imperious and raw energy meant to feed the id of the rap aficionado. The German-based Snowgoons are at their best when programming horns as foreboding as Judgement Day when the duo is spitting lyrics to “Get Yours.” The overall aural palette is one of epic and fierce emotions that whirl inside silver notes from the MPC orchestra. Greek military themes translate into All-American sounding horn anthems and “Back At It” belongs in any Ridley Scott or Wachowski Brother film. “No Mercy” dresses the grim narration about walking through some of New York’s menacing neighborhoods with panels of melodic steel. And in what could be described as music for walking to the death chamber, “Opium” matches a funeral organ with a lone jazz piano line and booming snare to animate a song about being able to sonically affect citizens like the poppy plant. Drug analogies that compare the Mash Out Posse movement to pure product are proper when discussing the gist of their appeal. Fans continue to follow and revere them because in a mass of pliable artists M.O.P. has held tight to their Brownsville origins. Sparta was a militaristic city concerned with that promoting mental methods quite similar to those of the hood survivalist. Together, the Snowgoons’ board manipulations and M.O.P.’s words have created an urban ode to the ancient locale touting their best work since Warriorz.

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Music Review-Shabazz Palaces: Black Up -Subpop

Black Up is Shabazz Palaces’ third installment of Afrofuturist dissonance that started two years ago when Ishmael Butler reinvented himself as the emcee Palaceer Lazaro. Looking something like Dr. Funkenstein’s son, an Afrika Bambaataa devotee or a Rammelzee offshoot, Lazaro defends his pro-Black stance with his longstanding jazz influences shaped into hip-hop effusions. By song number two ( “An Echo From the Hosts that Profess Infinitum”) ghostly gospel choirs have swerved around electronic cymbals that simmer and chunky reverb has opened the way for eerie birdcalls of the Hitchcock ilk. The sentiments are always the same; white supremacist mind junk is useless and submitting to one’s own distinct Black culture brings freedom and sanity. Butler and his band (percussionist Tendai Maraire and collaborators THEEsatisfaction) are lead by intuitive emotion that takes the music into semi-Sun Ra like abstractions. Butler’s boredom with conventional hip-hop made him a maverick in the genre from the days of Digable Planets

“Are You Were You Can You (Felt)“ coasts on a Freddie Hubbard styled lick as bass, a tipsy piano chord and Palaceer’s funky affirmation, “It’s a feeling/ a feeling” that builds then subsides into a Weather Report type ambience.

“Youlogy” takes a “toast of champagne to commemorate the year thuggin’ went mainstream” as moody bass, classic b-boy beats and the sound of a possible spaceship flight form a rhythm vortex. The critique of mainstream hip-hop continues and “Yeah You” indicts the lyricists who cheer for the boardroom by identifying them as: “Corny niggas they coming for me with mink coats pink throats weak quotes…Eurocentric zero pimpish….” But Black Up is not a self-righteous whiny complaint about “good versus bad rappers.” If anything, the project is a nuanced celebratory ritual that wishes to uncover hip-hop’s heart that seems at risk for smothering by Americana music industry pathos.

Appearances from the cultural crusading duo THEESatisfaction places Butler as a proactive and optimistic elder. His usage of Catherine Harris-White’s and Stasia Iron’s jazzy scat poetry on “Endeavors for Never” and “Swerve the Reaping of all That Is Worthwhile” is a direct challenge to the supposed artistic authority of their more commercially successful peers. Their voices counterbalance the machine power of the record with Maraire’s spell-inducing congas.

The quirky left field aesthetic of Black-Up is necessary and exciting in the midst of a commercial hip-hop workforce rushing to alabaster beaches staked with umbrellas made of greenbacks and bloody pens that threaten to sign away creativity for all but a limited few.

Watch: “The King’s New Clothes Were Made By His Own Hands”

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