Categories
Hip Hop Pop Song of the Day

Song of the Day (The Chain): Malcolm McLaren and The World’s Famous Supreme Team – Buffalo Gals

Day 37. Public Image is fairly transparently about John Lydon’s feelings towards his former manager Malcolm McLaren. Todays link in the chain is this relationship.

Buffalo Gals is Malcolm McLaren’s appropriation of the then nascent sound of Hip Hop, which he’d been exposed to in New York while seeking a support act for a Bow Wow Wow show. It’s fairly basic stuff. Scratching & sampling over a very simple (but effective) drum machine beat. Sounds so basic now but was a pretty big deal at the time.

In absence of lyrics, heres Malcolm McLaren himself explaining the song:

Buffalo Gals was recorded with the World’s Famous Supreme Team and Zulu singers backing them up with the words ‘she’s looking like a hobo.’ The performance by the Supreme Team may require some explaining, but suffice to say they are DJs from New York City who have developed a technique using record players like instruments, replacing the power chord of the guitar with the needle of a gramophone, moving it manually backwards and forwards across the surface of a record. We call it scratching.

Malcolm McLaren, Duck Rock liner notes

Stay up to date with the Song of the Day (The Chain) Spotify playlist.

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Experimental Folk Hip Hop Indie Rock Overlooked Classics

Overlooked Classics: Beck – Mellow Gold

I’ve just found out that today is Beck’s 50th birthday. Happy Birthday to one of the greatest & most innovative musical artists of the last 30 years. By way of celebrating the great mans birthday, we’ll take a look at his debut studio album, the incredible Mellow Gold.

Mellow Gold is a glorious, ugly mess of Lo-Fi country, Hip-Hop, psychedelia & surrealistic lyrics. This visionary mash up of sounds, samples, textures & its schizoid sound palate are held together by great songwriting. This is a Pop album that you can play to Lo-Fi fans, a Hip-Hop album you can play to Country fans, an avant-garde noise experiment you can play to Hip-Hop heads. It’s incredibly ambitious, & even though it may not quite hit what it’s aiming for, it’s still one of my favourite albums of all time. A Discogs article describes it, dismissively, as sounding “like Beavis and Butt-Head cacophonously flipping through channels”. The tone of the whole piece is quite dismissive actually, also describing it as “a charred coda to “Loser,” leaving the innards of that song on the operating table for all to see”. As if thats a bad thing. Some of us actually love the eccentric, junkyard aesthetic.

The whole concept of Mellow Gold is that it’s like a satanic K-Tel record that’s been found in a trash dumpster. A few people have molested it and slept with it and half-swallowed it before spitting it out. Someone played poker with it, someone tried to smoke it. Then the record was taken to Morocco and covered with hummus and tabouli.

Beck on Mellow Gold, Rolling Stone, 1994

Nowhere else could you hear a song like Beck’s MTV takeover mega hit, Loser, but on Mellow Gold. A YouTube commenter described it as like Kurt Cobain if he’d been on LSD instead of Heroin. It’s based around a sampled drum break, a looped sample of Beck playing slide guitar & a live sitar track (played by producer Karl Stephenson). Into this, at the time, previously unheard of sonic architecture Beck performed some nonsensical rapping & a chorus which, he later explained, was referring to how terrible he was at rapping. “I’m a loser baby, so why don’t you kill me”. Despite this being a throwaway line, it somehow evolved into a kind of ethos for the music of the ’90’s. The anthemic “battlecry” of what became known as Slacker culture (I guess).

Elsewhere we have songs like Pay No Mind (Snoozer), a tape-hiss filled Lo-Fi folk song with bizarre lyrics about “shopping malls coming out of the walls” & “a giant dildo crushing the sun.” All over a Hip-Hop inspired drumloop. Whiskeyclone, Hotel City 1997 is a morose sound collage, mixing spoken word sections with harmonic “ahh ahh” vocals. Steal My Body Home & Blackhole add a touch of psychedelic ’60’s atmosphere to the morose Folk formula, utilising sitars (sampled or otherwise) to great effect. The former feels like a tie-died throw gently laid over a slow drum machine pattern.

There’s plenty of Loser-esque Slacker Hip-Hop here to keep the casual listeners happy too. Soul Suckin’ Jerk & Beercan being the most obvious fit into this formula. Truck Driving Neighbors Downstairs (Yellow Street) sees darker, sinister overtones added to this formula. It’s opening sample a glorious call of “come on motherfucker, put your clothes on, c’mon.” Nitemare Hippy Girl is Syd Barrett-style Psyche Pop, but married to desolate, heartbroken melodies & mock horror movie lyrics. Mutherfucker is an incendiary blast of Grungey Noise Rock with pitch shifted vocals all over the register. It’s quite cathartic & a bit of a shame that Beck never really experimented with this style again (except, maybe, for the much less aggro Minus, on Odelay).

After the morbid opiated psychedelia of the aforementioned Blackhole, Beck dives head first into avant-garde noise territory with the short but oh-so-sweet Analogue Odyssey. A blast of delayed, decaying, pitch shifting synth noise. If you close your eyes, you can still see the image of Beck hunched over an analogue synth, generating terrifying walls of mangled noise, burned onto the back of your eyelids. After all my effort trying to describe Analogue Odyssey, the Beck fansite Whiskeyclone described it like this: “Whatever, it’s just some electronic whines and noises.”

Check out this hilariously clip of Beck being interviewed by Thurston Moore at around the time of Mellow Gold on MTV’s 120 minutes.

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Hip Hop Song of the Day

Song of the Day (BLM): Luniz – I Got 5 On It

Day 19. For the penultimate day I’m choosing this great tune from the mid ’90’s. I remember everyone was singing this when it was new & you couldn’t turn a radio on without hearing it. Top Of The Pops, The Chart Show etc. Might have been watching MTV back then, but I’m not sure. I reckon I was woken for school by it playing on my radio alarm clock at least a few times.

This is part of the reason I’ve been doing this BLM themed Song of the Day Series. The amount of enjoyment I’ve received from African American culture & memories it’s helped me make is ridiculous. I’m in the UK &, due to shielding, all I can do is write about the things that are happening & expressing my solidarity from home. I hope that by sharing these great songs, I’m sending potential fans to these artists.

I’m also enjoying just listening to all this music as I’m deciding what to include.

Player, give me some brew an I might just chill
But I’m the type that like to light another joint
Like Cypress Hill
I steal doobies, spit loogies when I puff on it
I got some bucks on it, but it ain’t enough on it
Go get the S-T. I-D-E-S 
Never the less, I’m hella fresh
Rollin’ joints like a cigarette
So pass it cross the table like ping pong
I’m gone, beatin’ my chest like King Kong
It’s on, wrap my lips around a 40
And when it comes to get another stogie
Fools all kick in like Shinobi
No, he ain’t my homie to begin with
It’s too many heads to be proper to let my friend hit it
Unless you pull out the fat, crispy
Five dollar bill on the real before it’s history
‘Cause fools be having them vacuum lungs
An’ if you let ’em hit it for free you hella dum-da-dum-dumb
I come to school with the Taylor on my earlobe
Avoiding all the thick teasers, skeezers, and weirdos
That be blowing off the land like where the bomb at
Give me two bucks, you take a puff and pass my bomb back
Suck up the dank like a Slurpee
The serious bomb will make a niggy go delirious like Eddie Murphy
I got more Growing Pains than Maggie
‘Caus, e homie, snag me to take the dank out of the baggie

I got five on it
Grab your 40, let’s get keyed
I got five on it
Messin’ wit that Indo’ weed
I got five on it
It’s got me stuck and knocked on back
I got five on it
Partna, let’s go half on a sack

I take sacks to the face
Whenever I can
Don’t need no crutch
I’m so keyed up
‘Til the joint be burnin’ my hand
Next time I roll it in a hampa
To burn slow so the ashes won’t be burnin’ up my hand, bra
Hoochies can hit but they know they got to pitch in,
Then I roll a joint that’s longer than your extension
‘Cause I’ll be damned if you get high off me for free
Hell no, you betta’ bring your own spliff, chief
What’s up? Don’t babysit that
Better pass the joint
Stop hittin’ ’cause you know ya got Asthma
Crack a 40 open, homie, an guzzle it
‘Cause I know the weed in my system is gettin’ lonely
I gotta take a whiz test to my P-O
I know I failed ’cause I done smoked major weed bro
And every time we with Chris that fool rollin’ up a fattie
But the Tanqueray straight had me

I got five on it
Grab your 40, let’s get keyed
I got five on it
Messin’ wit that Indo’ weed
I got five on it
It’s got me stuck and knocked on back
I got five on it
Partna, let’s go half on a sack

Hey, make this right man, stop at the light man
My yester-night thing got me hung off the night train
You fade, I face, so let’s head to the east
Hit the stroll to 9-0 so we can roll big hashish
I wish I could fade the eighth, but I’m low budget
Still rolling a two door Cutlass same old bucket
Foggy windows, soggy Indoe
I’m in the ‘land getting smoked wit my kinfolkI been smoked, Yuk’ll spray ya, lay ya down up in the O-A-K the Town
Homies don’t play around we down to blaze a pound
Then ease up, speed up through the E-S-O
Drink the V-S-O-P up with a lemon squeeze up
And everybody’s rolled up, I’m da roller
That’s quick to fold a blunt out of a buncha sticky doja
Hold up, suck up my weed is all you do
Kick in feed, ’cause where I be’s, we need half like a foo-foo

I got five on it
Grab your 40, let’s get keyed
I got five on it
Messin’ wit that Indo’ weed
I got five on it
It’s got me stuck and knocked on back
I got five on it
Partna, let’s go half on a sack

Looking for some great music? Why not check out the Song of the Day (BLM) Spotify playlist?

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Hip Hop Song of the Day

Song of the Day (BLM): Earl Sweatshirt – Hive (feat. Vince Staples & Casey Veggies)

Day 18. Something a bit more contemporary for you today. I first heard this excellent tune way back in 2013 when it appeared on the Giles Peterson hosted WorldwideFM radio station in Grand Theft Auto V.

Slow & menacing, Hive is dark, disturbing stuff &, I was happy to find out, it was produced with the music software Reason. This is the software I learned on &, even though I don’t use it anymore, it will always hold a special place in my heart.

[Verse 1: Earl Sweatshirt]
Promise Heron I’ll put my fist up after I get my dick sucked
Quick buck, maybe a gold chain
With that fucking flow that s-s-so belittles men
They tentatively tend to turn and go when I am finished
Stone cold, hardly fucking with these niggas, nigga listen
The description doesn’t fit, if not a synonym of menace
Then forget it, in turn these critics and interns
Admitting the shit spit, it just burn like six furnaces
Written to fix learning them digits and simultaneously
Dispelling “one-trick-pony” myths, isn’t he?
One adolescent, fucking six nigga energy
And crawling down ‘Fax like a rich nigga centipede
Crack ceramic and slap a hand out of cash account
Stamp and shouting, thrashing, these niggas done let the Kraken out
Crack-a-lackin, like snap, crackle, poppin’ your ammo off
Hide your face, and throw your flannels off, Sweatshirt, nigga

[Hook: Casey Veggies (Earl Sweatshirt)]
’87 roof top rising
Whipping hoopties, tryna boost raw chronic
Brutus in that booth, double scoop, hock vomit up, sub rocking
Thud knocking niggas teeth loose
Bruh, I don’t fuck with no cops (Rolling with that flow swamp)
Catch me over stove top (Rapping to that coke rock)
(Passionless in old Jive clothing with them doors wide open)
(Dim the floor lights focused) Like it’s nothing, cause it’s nothing, bitch

[Verse 2: Earl Sweatshirt]
From that city that’s recession-hit
With stress, niggas could flex metal with peddle to rake pennies in
Desolate testaments trying to stay Jekyll-ish
But most niggas Hyde and Brenda just stay pregnant
Breaking news: death’s less important when the Lakers lose
It’s lead in that baby food, heads try to make it through
Fish-netted legs for them eyes that she cater to
Ride dirty as the fucking sky that you praying to
So here I sit, eye in the pyramid
God spit it like it’s truth serum in that beer and then
(Poof) Disappear again, reappear bearded on
Top of a lear steering it into the kids’ ear again
Provider of the backdrop music
For the crack rock user and the mascot Earl
Rawer than the skinned knee cap on the black top
Salivary glands lighter fluid for the matchbox
Striking, wait, wait, who the fuck you badder than?
Boy oh boy, I’m bad as burnt pollo off the grill and shit
Spitter of the little Nick, nimble, rickrolling
Bitch niggas pick litter, piff-blower, plus I pillage shit

[Hook]

[Verse 3: Vince Staples]
Quit with all that tough talk, bruh, we know you niggas ain’t about shit
Come around, we gun ’em down, bodies piled, Auschwitz
Bulletproof outfits, weapons concealed
I’m ready to kill, so test it, all my weapons is real
Selling thizz, couldn’t tell him what the recipe is
Got ’em wishing that they never gave these weapons to kids, cheers
Send chills up spines of fat bitches after
Shows throwing out sandwiches, niggas get it how they
Live and I live for money, other words, I’m getting money
Little boy told me when it’s time to ride, they’ll send them for me
Ain’t nobody scaring me, niggas ain’t prepared for heat
Tools hit like pool sticks, the way I cue shit
If this was ’88, I would have signed to Ruthless
’94 would have had them walking down Death Row
First is when the best go, hate is what the rest do
Voice inside my head told me wet ’em if they test you
So it’s raging water season
That yomper big as Larry Johnson, leave your momma seedless
Everybody hard until it’s only God they seeing
Kittens soft but in they songs be trapping hard as Jeezy, I don’t believe it
But to each his own, I ain’t tripping long as I can reach the chrome
Heat your home like Southern California Gas, police pass
Tell ’em free Smalls, off Palm with the heat drawn
Strapped up long as the chief for police armed
Raised where the beasts are, north of the Beach
A couple streets past Baby Jay, bony niggas spraying Ks
Ruger with the pork face, Jewish for the court case
Here to save you niggas from the sorbet, Coldchain

[Outro:]
Like it’s nothing cause it’s nothing, bitch

Looking for some great music? Why not check out the Song of the Day (BLM) Spotify playlist?

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Hip Hop Politics Song of the Day

Song of the Day (BLM): Public Enemy – State Of The Union (STFU) (feat. DJ Premier)

Day 17 & I’m breaking the rule of not featuring the same artist twice. Ordinarily, I would find this unthinkable, but on Friday 19th June Public Enemy & DJ Premier dropped this surprise new single.

State Of The Union (STFU) is an incendiary anti-Trump, anti-Police anthem. Furious & articulate, Chuck D holds nothing back. Now Trump has ditched any pretences of not being a fascist, Chuck D draws valid & clear comparisons between Trump & the Nazis. Trump’s supporters are compared to the Gestapo. It’s laid out, in no uncertain terms, that America cannot survive another term with Trump in charge. It’s time to “vote this joke out/or die tryin'”

Also of interest is the fact that Chuck D & Flavor Flav seem to have made up after their public falling out earlier in the year. I guess they couldn’t agree on the Bernie Sanders issue but their hatred & contempt for Trump unites them.

Whatever it takes
Rid this dictator
POTUS my tail
Ass debater
Prime-time
Primo
Rhyme-time crime
Like no other
In this lifetime
White house killer
Dead in lifelines
Vote this joke out
Or die tryin’
Unprecedented
Demented
Many president’d
Nazi gestapo dictator
Defended
It’s not what you think
It’s what you follow
Run for them jewels
Drink from that bottle
Another four years gonna gut y’all hollow
Gutted out, dried up, broke and can’t borrow

State of the Union
Shut the fuck up
Sorry ass motherfucker
Stay away from me

State of the Union
Shut the fuck up
Sorry ass motherfucker
Stay away from me

State of the Union
Shut the fuck up
Sorry ass motherfucker
Stay away from me

State of the Union
Shut the fuck up
Sorry ass motherfucker
Stay away from me

Mister, I am the law
And you are not
In fact, I’m god
I got a lot
Mister these united breaks
Take over, come over
Orange hair
Fear the comb-over
Here’s another scare
Keep them hands in the air
Better not breathe
You dare not dare
Don’t say anything
Don’t think nothing
Make America great again
The middle just love it
When he wanna talk
Walk y’all straight
To them ovens
Human beings of color
Yeah we be sufferin’

State of the Union
Shut the fuck up
Sorry ass motherfucker
Stay away from me

State of the Union
Shut the fuck up
Sorry ass motherfucker
Stay away from me

State of the Union
Shut the fuck up
Sorry ass motherfucker
Stay away from me

State of the Union
Shut the fuck up
Sorry ass motherfucker
Stay away from me

Better rock that vote
Or vote for hell
Real generals now
Not some USFL
Not a fuckin’ game
I dare not mention his name
Operation 45
Same thing
Sounds like Berlin burnin’
Same thing
History’s a mystery
If y’all ain’t learning
End this clown show
For real
A state bozo
Nazi cult 45 Gestapo

State of the Union
Shut the fuck up
Sorry ass motherfucker
Stay away from me

State of the Union
Shut the fuck up
Sorry ass motherfucker
Stay away from me

State of the Union
Shut the fuck up
Sorry ass motherfucker
Stay away from me

State of the Union
Shut the fuck up
Sorry ass motherfucker
Stay away from me

Looking for some excellent music? Why not check out the SOng of the Day (BLM) Spotify playlist?

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Hip Hop Music Song of the Day

Song of the Day (BLM): Nas – One Love (feat. Q-Tip)

Day 15. We’re on the homestretch. Soon I’m going to have to decide on the theme for the next Song of the Day series. One Love is taken rap wunderkind Nas’ debut album, Illmatic, produced by some of the greatest Hip Hop producers in New York (including Q-Tip).

This is essential Hip Hop. Intelligent, storytelling lyricism over crisp, clear beats.

[Verse One]
What’s up kid? I know shit is rough doing your bid
When the cops came you should’ve slid to my crib
Fuck it black, no time for looking back it’s done
Plus congratulations you know you got a son
I heard he looks like you, why don’t your lady write you?
Told her she should visit, that’s when she got hyper
Flippin, talk about he acts too rough
He didn’t listen he be riffin’ while I’m telling him stuff
I was like yeah, shorty don’t care, she a snake too
Fucking with the niggas from that fake crew that hate you
But yo, guess who got shot in the dome-piece?
Jerome’s niece, on her way home from Jones Beach – it’s bugged
Plus little Rob is selling drugs on the dime
Hangin out with young thugs that all carry 9’s
At night time there’s more trife than ever
What’s up with Cormega, did you see ’em, are y’all together?
If so then hold the fort down, represent to the fullest
Say what’s up to Herb, Ice and Bullet
I left a half a hundred in your commissary
You was my nigga when push came to shove
One what? one love

[Verse Two]
Dear Born, you’ll be out soon, stay strong
Out in New York the same shit is going on
The crack-heads stalking, loud-mouths is talking
Hold, check out the story yesterday when I was walking
The nigga you shot last year tried to appear like he hurtin’ something
Word to mother, I heard him fronting
And he be pumping on your block
Your man gave him your glock
And now they run together, what up son, whatever
Since I’m on the streets I’m gonna put it to a cease
But I heard you blew a nigga with a ox for the phone piece
Whylin on the Island, but now with Elmira
Better chill cause them niggas will put that ass on fire
Last time you wrote you said they tried you in the showers
But maintain when you come home the corner’s ours
On the reals, all these crab niggas know the deal
When we start the revolution all they probably do is squeal
But chill, see you on the next V-I
I gave your mom dukes loot for kicks, plus sent you flicks
Your brother’s buck whylin’ in four maine he wrote me
He might beat his case, ’til he come home I play it low key
So stay civilised, time flies
Though incarcerated your mind (dies)
I hate it when your moms cries
It kinda wants to make me murder, for real-a
I’ve even got a mask and gloves to bust slugs for one love

[Verse Three]
Sometimes I sit back with a Buddha sack
Mind’s in another world thinking how can we exist through the facts
Written in school text books, bibles, et cetera
Fuck a school lecture, the lies get me vexed-er
So I be ghost from my projects
I take my pen and pad for the weekend
Hitting L’s while I’m sleeping
A two day stay, you may say I needed time alone
To relax my dome, no phone, left the 9 at home
You see the streets have me stressed somethin terrible
Fucking with the corners have a nigga up in Belleville
Or h.d.m., hit with numbers from 8 to 10
A future in a maximum state pen is grim
So I comes back home, nobody’s helping shorty doo-wop
Rollin two Phillies together in the Bridge we called ’em oowops
He said, “Nas, niggas could be bustin’ off the roof
So I wear a bullet proof and pack a black tres-deuce”
He inhaled so deep, shut his eyes like he was sleep
Started coughing, one eye peeked to watch me speak
I sat back like the mack, my army suit was black
We was chillin’ on these benches where he pumped his loose cracks
I took an l when he passed it, this little bastard
Keeps me blasted he starts talking mad shit
I had to school him, told him don’t let niggas fool him
‘cos when the pistol blows the one that’s murdered will be the cool one
Tough luck when niggas are struck, families fucked up
Could’ve caught your man, but didn’t look when you bucked up
Mistakes happen, so take heed never bust up
At the crowd catch him solo, make the right man bleed
Shorty’s laugh was cold blooded as he spoke so foul
Only twelve trying to tell me that he liked my style
Then I rose, wiping the blunts ash from my clothes
Then froze only to blow the herb smoke through my nose
And told my little man that I’m a go cyprose
Left some jewels in his skull that he can sell if he chose
Words of wisdom from Nas try to rise up above
Keep an eye out for Jake shorty wop
One love

Looking for some great music? Why not check out the Song of the Day (BLM) playlist?

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Hip Hop Music Song of the Day

Song of the Day (BLM): Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five – The Message

Day 11. Old School. Oldest School. Released in 1982, The Message was the first successful Hip-Hop tune to address social issues rather “self-congratulatory boasting or party chants of earlier hip hop” (The Message, Wikipedia). Lyrically, The Message addresses issues of inner city poverty, drug addiction & homelessness.

Lead rapper, Melle Mell told an NPR interviewer “we didn’t actually want to do ‘The Message’ because we was used to doing party raps and boasting how good we are and all that.” Thankfully, they did decide to make The Message & other rappers, taking notice, decided to write about their own lives, hardships & politics.

It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under

Broken glass everywhere
People pissin’ on the stairs, you know they just don’t care
I can’t take the smell, can’t take the noise
Got no money to move out, I guess I got no choice
Rats in the front room, roaches in the back
Junkies in the alley with a baseball bat
I tried to get away but I couldn’t get far
Cause a man with a tow truck repossessed my car

Don’t push me cause I’m close to the edge
I’m trying not to lose my head
It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under

Standin’ on the front stoop hangin’ out the window
Watchin’ all the cars go by, roarin’ as the breezes blow
Crazy lady, livin’ in a bag
Eatin’ outta garbage pails, used to be a fag hag
Said she’ll dance the tango, skip the light fandango
A Zircon princess seemed to lost her senses
Down at the peep show watchin’ all the creeps
So she can tell her stories to the girls back home
She went to the city and got so so seditty
She had to get a pimp, she couldn’t make it on her own

It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under

My brother’s doin’ bad, stole my mother’s TV
Says she watches too much, it’s just not healthy
All My Children in the daytime, Dallas at night
Can’t even see the game or the Sugar Ray fight
The bill collectors, they ring my phone
And scare my wife when I’m not home
Got a bum education, double-digit inflation
Can’t take the train to the job, there’s a strike at the station
Neon King Kong standin’ on my back
Can’t stop to turn around, broke my sacroiliac
A mid-range migraine, cancered membrane
Sometimes I think I’m goin’ insane
I swear I might hijack a plane!

It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under

My son said, Daddy, I don’t wanna go to school
Cause the teacher’s a jerk, he must think I’m a fool
And all the kids smoke reefer, I think it’d be cheaper
If I just got a job, learned to be a street sweeper
Or dance to the beat, shuffle my feet
Wear a shirt and tie and run with the creeps
Cause it’s all about money, ain’t a damn thing funny
You got to have a con in this land of milk and honey
They pushed that girl in front of the train
Took her to the doctor, sewed her arm on again
Stabbed that man right in his heart
Gave him a transplant for a brand new start
I can’t walk through the park cause it’s crazy after dark
Keep my hand on my gun cause they got me on the run
I feel like a outlaw, broke my last glass jaw
Hear them say “You want some more?”
Livin’ on a see-saw

It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under

A child is born with no state of mind
Blind to the ways of mankind
God is smilin’ on you but he’s frownin’ too
Because only God knows what you’ll go through
You’ll grow in the ghetto livin’ second-rate
And your eyes will sing a song called deep hate
The places you play and where you stay
Looks like one great big alleyway
You’ll admire all the number-book takers
Thugs, pimps and pushers and the big money-makers
Drivin’ big cars, spendin’ twenties and tens
And you’ll wanna grow up to be just like them, huh
Smugglers, scramblers, burglars, gamblers
Pickpocket peddlers, even panhandlers
You say I’m cool, huh, I’m no fool
But then you wind up droppin’ outta high school
Now you’re unemployed, all non-void
Walkin’ round like you’re Pretty Boy Floyd
Turned stick-up kid, but look what you done did
Got sent up for a eight-year bid
Now your manhood is took and you’re a Maytag
Spend the next two years as a undercover fag
Bein’ used and abused to serve like hell
Til one day, you was found hung dead in the cell
It was plain to see that your life was lost
You was cold and your body swung back and forth
But now your eyes sing the sad, sad song
Of how you lived so fast and died so young so

It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under

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Hip Hop Music Song of the Day

Song of the Day (BLM): Blackstar – Definition (feat. Common)

Day 10. Blackstar is Mos Def & Talib Kweili. Respiration, with guest raper Common, Blackstar adress the issues of violence within the Hip Hop community.

Known for intelligent, thoughtful lyrics, Blackstar are often credited as one of the first handful of Alternative Hip Hop acts. They were initially active at the very end of the ’90’s, when Hip Hop production was gearing more & more towards slick, Pop radio friendly productions. Alternative Hip Hop gained popularity with the underground fans. It’s raw, old school inspired productions reached out to old Hip Hop fans who were disenfranchised by the glossy, corporate aesthetic of the mainstream.

“What’d you do last night?”
“We did umm, two whole cars
It was me, these, and Main Three right?
And on the first car in small letters it said
“All you see is” and then you know
Big, big, you know some block silver letters
That said “crime in the city’ right?”
“It just took up the whole car?”
“Yeah yeah, it was a whole car and shit…

“Escuchela, la ciudad respirando
[Listen to it, the city breathing]

Escuchela

The new moon rode high in the crown of the metropolis
Shining, like who on top of this?
People was hustling, arguing and bustling
Gangsters of Gotham hardcore hustling
I’m wrestling with words and ideas
My ears is picky, seeking what will transmit
The scribes can apply to transcript, yo
This ain’t no time where the usual is suitable
Tonight alive, let’s describe the inscrutable
The indisputable, we New York the narcotic
Strength in metal and fiber optics
Where mercenaries is paid to trade hot stock tips
For profits, thirsty criminals take pockets
Hard knuckles on the second hands of working class watches
Skyscrapers is colossus, the cost of living
Is preposterous, stay alive, you play or die, no options
No Batman and Robin, can’t tell between
The cops and the robbers, they both partners, they all heartless
With no conscience, back streets stay darkened
Where unbeliever hearts stay hardened
My eagle talons stay sharpened, like city lights stay throbbing
You either make a way or stay sobbing, the Shiny Apple
Is bruised but sweet and if you choose to eat
You could lose your teeth, many crews retreat
Nightly news repeat, who got shot down and locked down
Spotlight to savages, NASDAQ averages
My narrative, rose to explain this existence
Amidst the harbor lights which remain in the distance

So much on my mind that it can’t recline
Blasting holes in the night til she bled sunshine
Breathe in, inhale vapors from bright stars that shine
Breathe out, weed smoke retrace the skyline
Heard the bass ride out like an ancient mating call
I can’t take it y’all, I can feel the city breathing
Chest heaving, against the flesh of the evening
Sigh before we die like the last train leaving

Breathing in deep city breaths, sitting on shitty steps
We stoop to new lows, hell froze the night the city slept
The beast crept through concrete jungles
Communicating with one another
And ghetto birds where waters fall
From the hydrants to the gutters
The beast walk the beats, but the beats we be making
You on the wrong side of the track, looking visibly shaken
Taken them plungers, plunging to death that’s painted by the numbers
With crime unapplied pressure, cats is playing God
But having children by a lesser baby mother but fuck it
We played against each other like puppets, swearing you got pull
When the only pull you got is the wool over your eyes
Getting knowledge in jail like a blessing in disguise
Look in the skies for God, what you see besides the smog
Is broken dreams flying away on the wings of the obscene
Thoughts that people put in the air
Places where you could get murdered over a glare
But everything is fair
It’s a paradox we call reality
So keeping it real will make you casualty of abnormal normality
Killers Born Naturally like, Micky and Mallory
Not knowing the ways’ll get you capped like an NBA salary
Some cats be emceeing to illustrate what we be seeing
Hard to be a spiritual being when shit is shakin what you believe in
For trees to grow in Brooklyn, seeds need to be planted
I’m asking if y’all feel me AND THE CROWD LEFT ME STRANDED
My blood pressure boiled and rose, cause New York niggaz
Actin spoiled at shows, to the winners the spoils go
I take the L, transfer to the 2, head to the gates
New York life type trife the Roman Empire state

So much on my mind I just can’t recline
Blasting holes in the night til she bled sunshine
Breathe in, inhale vapors from bright stars that shine
Breathe out, weed smoke retrace the skyline
Yo don’t the bass ride out like an ancient mating call
I can’t take it y’all, I can feel the city breathin
Chest heaving, against the flesh of the evening
Sigh before we die like the last train leaving

Escuchela, respirando ?

Yo, on The Amen, Corner I stood looking at my former hood
Felt the spirit in the wind, knew my friend was gone for good
Threw dirt on the casket, the hurt, I couldn’t mask it
Mixing down emotions, struggle I hadn’t mastered
I choreograph seven steps to heaven
And hell, waiting to exhale and make the bread leavened
Veteran of a cold war It’s Chica-I-go for
What I know or, what’s known
So some days I take the bus home, just to touch home
From the crib I spend months gone
Sat by the window with a clutched dome listening to shorties cuss long
Young girls with weak minds, but they butt strong
Tried to call, or at least beep the Lord, but didn’t have a touch-tone
It’s a dog-eat-dog world, you gotta mush on
Some of this land I must own
Outta the city, they want us gone
Tearing down the ‘jects creating plush homes
My circumstance is between Cabrini and Love Jones
Surrounded by hate, yet I love home
Ask my God how he thought traveling the world sound
Found it hard to imagine he hadn’t been past downtown
It’s deep, I heard the city breathe in its sleep
Of reality I touch, but for me it’s hard to keep
Deep, I heard my man breathe in his sleep
Of reality I touch, but for me it’s hard to keep

So much on my mind I just can’t recline
Blasting holes in the night til she bled sunshine
Breathe in, inhale vapors from bright stars that shine
Breathe out, weed smoke retrace the skyline
Yo how the bass ride out like an ancient mating call
I can’t take it y’all, I can feel the city breathing
Chest heaving, against the flesh of the evening
Kiss the Ide’s goodbye, I’m on the last train leaving

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Song of the Day (BLM): Fugees – Zealots

Day 8. I actually wanted to choose a different Fugees song for this, Rumble In The Jungle (feat. A Tribe Called Quest & Busta Rhymes), but it isn’t actually available on Spotify & I feel that the blogposts & the Spotify playlist are intrinsically linked.

Instead, I have chosen the song Zealots, which is easily my favourite tune from Fugees critically & commercially massive 1996 album, The Score. Every MC on this track gives top tier performances but my MVP would have to be Lauryn Hill. Her verse is ridiculous, her rhyme scheme is incredibly sophisticated & complex.

I haunt MCs like Mephistopheles, bringing swords of Damocles
Secret service keep a close watch as if my name was Kennedy
Abstract raps simple with a street format
Gaze into the sky and measure planets by parallax
Check out the retrograde motion, kill the notion
Of biting and recycling and calling it your own creation
I feel like Rockwell, somebody’s watching me
I got no privacy whether on land or at sea
And for you biting zealots, your raps are cacophonic
Hypocrite, critic, but deep inside you wish you had the pop hit
It hurts don’t it, a refugee come to your turf
And take over the earth

See my rhymes, are the type of fly rhymes
That can only get down with my crew
And if you try, to take lines or bite rhymes
We’ll show you how the refugees do

Yeah, yeah behold, as my odes, manifold on your rhymes
Two MCs can’t occupy the same space at the same time
It’s against the laws of physics
So weep as your sweet dreams break up like Eurythmics
Rap rejects my tape deck, ejects projectile
Whether Jew or gentile, I rank top percentile
Many styles, more powerful than gamma rays
My grammar pays, like Carlos Santana plays “Black Magic Woman”
So while you fuming, I’m consuming mango juice under Polaris
You just embarrassed cause it’s your last tango in Paris

And even after all my logic and my theory
I add a “Motherfucker” so you ignant niggas hear me
Crew remember take notes, as I sow my rap oats
And for you biting zealots, here’s a quote

Another MC lose his life tonight, Lord
I beg that you pray to Jesus Christ, why
Oh Lord, father don’t let him bury me, whoa

You can try but you can’t divide the tribe
These cats can’t rap, mister author I feel no Vibe
The magazine says the girl should have went solo
The guys should stop rapping – vanish like Menudo
Took it to the heart, but every actor plays his part
As long as someone was listening, I knew it was a start
For me to get my chance, grab my pen and revamp
Do a cameo while everybody do the dance
Quick now, cause you running out of luck-a
Playing Mr. Big, I’m gonna get you sucka
While you munching at your luncheon
I’ll be planning your assassination, then hit you like the Dutchman

I compress sound sets with my rap DBX
Then drop vocals on my 456 Ampex
Bring terror to the shop of horror
As she cry, “mi amor, ” the phantom dies in the opera
And to the younguns who carry gadgets
And kill six days a week, then rest on the Sabbath
Violence ain’t necessary, unless you provoke me
Then get buried like the great Mussolini
And for you biting zealots, your rap styles are relics
No matter who you damage, you’re still a false prophet

As a bonus, here’s the excellent Rumble In The Jungle (feat. A Tribe Called Quest, Busta Rhymes & Forte):

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Song of the Day (BLM): Flying Lotus – Black Ballon Reprise (feat. Denzel Curry)

Day 7. Flying Lotus is one of the most experimental producers of contemporary Hip-Hop & Electronica. He emerged towards the end of the ’00’s with a unique blend of bass heavy Hip-Hop, whacked out electronic Psychedelia, free Jazz experimentation & Afro Futurism.

Denzel Curry is a relative unknown to me, but his verses on Black Balloon Reprise are excellent & I will be investigating his other work. This is one of the beautiful things about Flying Lotus’s music. He loves to collaborate with all manner of different people & therefore introduces his fans to exciting new artists all the time.

Black Balloon Reprise was taken form his 2019 album Flamagra, which also contains collaborations with artists as diverse as Thundercat & David Lynch. It’s unique mix of traditional Hip Hop drums & experimental percussive textures creates a gorgeous juxtaposition of futuristic experimentalism & old school vibes.

Let’s take a nice and deep breath
And slowly expire
And take a nice, deep breath

The Big Bang happened when the black balloon ignited
I feel the pain shoulder to shoulder as I was knighted
The night turns to day and my days don’t seem the brightest
It’s like itis, I wanna take a bite out of what life is
If the President fuck around and piss off ISIS
Bury me in blueberry bills, jewels and ices
Lets connect from mind to mind
Lies are on the rise, increase to bigger size
Hard to victimize when evil’s idolized
Inside my battered mind, I have visions of being broke
A broken man writing words of wisdom inside these notes
Shattered and lost, chattering talk
Blabbering off, grabbing the cross
Telling Jesús nothing matters at all (uh huh)
The black balloon floats
The black balloon flies
The black balloon pops
The black balloon dies
I must be the black balloon then
The children of the world always speak the truth, and
The earth will soon end
We all perish, all parents, all kids, all buried
Cemetery, ceremonious, find me at my loneliest
Life is the ugliest bitch I ever messed with
When she quickly down that nut back like Nesquik
Never try to take my life, you get your chest hit
Counting paper with Nyyjerya till my flesh split

We all cry
The day the black balloon explodes, we all die
Nobody couldn’t handle the truth, we all lie
They wait to see the real exposed, till they like
“Take that fucking shit until my casket close”
We all cry
The day the black balloon explodes, we all die
Nobody couldn’t handle the truth, we all lie
They wait to see the real exposed, till they like
“Take that fucking shit until my casket close”
We all cry

Can you save me, baby?
Can you save me, baby?

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