(We had a debate on Nipsey Hussle and cut this one short…what do you think about Crenshaw? Game changer?)
The Foreign Exchange ft. Gwen Burron – "Can't Turn Around"
VINCE: I'll get into the history and import of The Foreign Exchange another day. For this edition of Please Jam I wanted to include a cut off of their new album Love In Flying Colors. It's surprisingly good. Why it's a surprise is, again, for a later piece.
This joint right here has that slick house groove. Reminds me of some of the Incognito, Soul II Soul, CeCe Penniston joints of the '90s. Nicolay (the producing half of FE) is a monster throughout this album. He can do it all. He slayed me on this one with how he brought the shaker in at the beginning. Unexpected and frigid.
I like how Phonte hijacked Andre 3000's "don't stop baby" refrain from Fonzworth Bentley's "Everbody" (which sported a dirt-filthy groove from Sa-Ra); but something tells me that's actually something he cribbed from a house track. I just can't recall which one.
JAMES: I’m going in blind, but I’ve come to realize that anything that begins with a strong bassline is pretty much your wheelhouse. This is awesome, a lot like The Internet’s Feel Good but a bit more uptempo.
Cory Mo ft. Big KRIT & Talib Kweli – “Hold Up”
VINCE: This was terrible. The difference between professionals playing an actual game and them just shooting around BS'ing. I mean, I don't put much past the once great Kweli anymore, but is there a reason to ever spit "I'm the Sugar Honey Ice Tea"??? That sounds like a lug from MC Hammer back in 1990 or something. KRIT was practically screwing around, tossing up 25 foot bank shots for the fun of it. Even the recording sounds low-qual.
This is the first I've heard of or from Cory Mo. Flow-wise, he sounds like a Bun B disciple. I tried to find some quick biographical info on Cory Mo and found out he's from Houston and really got his start with Bun's departed partner Pimp C. But, really, if you come from Houston (or Texas, really) I don't think there's anyway you can escape being largely influenced by Bun, Pimp and Scarface. Shoot, half the rappers under 25 are from the School of Houston, no matter where they grew up (A$AP Mob). Not really feeling Cory off first listen, but he's signed to Kwe's new Javatti Media label, so I'll probably hear more.
JAMES: First off, Talib references The Big Lebowski, so I refuse to accept your indictment. Him throwing up free throws is better than half the game right now. He kills this track relative to the other two.
I’m looking forward to something from KRIT, but I think he needs to take some time away from music sometimes. He produces almost all of his own tracks. That’s a lotta work. I think he might have burned out a little creatively in the span between, but Forever And A Day ensures that I’ll always support KRIT. He’s gotta find that spark that made those early couple of tapes really connect. This, obviously, was just getting reps in.
And as for Houston, they all sound too similar. A lot of them are less Bun B disciples and more Bun B clones, in terms of sound. Lyrically, it’s hard to compete. But I need some differentiation to really get into some of these individual artists coming from that area.
Nipsey Hussle ft. J Stone – “All Get Right”
VINCE: Finally figured out who Nipsey sounds like, to me…Planet Asia. Planet As' is vet out of Fresno. He recently teamed up with some other emcees as Durag Dynasty — we featured them in a previous Please Jam. I could here Planet As' over this beat easily.
This was a modestly dope track. Like the flutes. Nipsey's deliberate flow worked fairly well. Few lugs. It was cool.
I'm more interested in Nipsey the Indie Hop champion. His $100 mixtape has been making news — especially the Jay Z involvement. Every non-superstar has gone on record dismissing the old model of music distribution and new age of audience-thirst and connectivity. But Nipsey's latest move — and the thinking behind it — is notable. His thing is, "Who, of my 400K Twitter followers is a loyal and committed enough fan to really SUPPORT me?" Support the way you "support" one in need. Nipsey's not in need, but shouting him out on Twitter or even paying $15 to see h at a show is naturally not the same level of support than droppin' one hunned on a cat.
The most I ever spent on a piece of music was $120. It was back in maybe 2003 and it was the result of a minor bidding war on gemm.com for The Black Messiah, a rare 1970 album from Cannonball Adderley that never made its way to CD, at the time. Back then, my music collection — specifically jazz — was probably the most valuable thing in my life. It definitely hurt my pockets back then, but I was proud of that purchase. This, however, was a selfish thing. I spent that money on "my crates." Nipsey is asking you to spend that $100 "on Nipsey." It's not even like spending $100 on a tough concert ticket where, again, the money is spent for personal satisfaction. The folks that cop Nipsey's $100 mixtape are either rich (Jay), supporting the indie idea or listeners with a profound connection with Nipsey's music. By identifying these people via this exercise, he's identifying an extremely mobile, loyal, reliable and possibly lucrative fan "base." I'm very impressed with this initiative and really intrigued to see where it takes him.
For what it's worth, the only album I'd spend $100 on is this "basically finished" D'Angelo album that will never drop. But, again, that'd be a selfish purchase.
JAMES: You’re missing the point of what Nipsey Hussle did on a bigger scale. He changed the world. Think about how many mixtapes or albums you somehow acquired this year alone. How much would it have cost you to actually buy the album? I’d guess my number is around $1,000, not including what I did spend on concert tickets. But if everyone buys into this system, you could theoretically pay a few of your favorite artists however much they charge until they met their goal and then released it for free to the public. So you could bring down what your annual spending money should be on music, while increasing the money artists make. New Rules, man.
(Vince Note: Huh? Bring down my annual spending on music? No one spends money on music anymore. We spend money on show tickets. Nipsey's idea is new because it's like a curated Kickstarter where you already get a finished product. He's asking for investments, not patronage. It is a unique idea. You, my young friend, are missing the point.)
(JC: No, no, no. We have to rewire the economic brain in the internet era. We have to strive to be an independent society. You want to empower people? Give them your money directly. We, as a whole, need to do away with the middleman. This model is the start.)
Blu & Nottz ft. Rashad – “End Of The World”
VINCE: OK, now we're cookin'.
Nottz…Geez. We're going to have to put him on a four to six-week Please Jam timeout. This is like three out of four weeks where his production has been ghastly good. Did you hear how played with the beat in the beginning of that third verse?! And I don't know this Rashad singer, but he dropped in-n-out all over the song, layered in the dopest ways. I gotta think that's Nottz, too. This type of singing on rap songs (or rap beats) was basically invented by Mary J and later perfected by D'Angelo. The vocals are layered and orchestral in a stringy, brassy kind of way. It's basically used as another instrument. In that way, this album has a very 1995-2005. Song reminds me a lot of De La Soul's "Much More".
As for Blu, he's a low-key favorite of mine. He can get a little too emo (JAMES: Heaven forbid there be emotion in music…), but the boy has bars. I'd take him over J Cole anyday. Like Cole, Blu played ball, too. The dude is like 6'6. I noticed he released an album, York, earlier this year and the guest credits are some of my favorite electro-soul acts. Downloading in 3, 2, 1…
JAMES: This is one of the first songs I’ve listened to hurriedly because of the producer on the track. I’m not familiar with Blu, but, yeah, Nottz…whatever he’s doing, I’m downloading. This dude is on fire.
You will take any opportunity to bash young Jermaine. To start with, Blu has nine albums, plus several EPs and mixtapes and a few instrumental tapes to boot. Cole just released his second album, and has, what four tapes and two EPs to his name? You’re comparing a third-year player to a solid vet. So, stop with all your hate and let the kid develop already.