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Posts Tagged ‘Rap

Summer Music Spotlight: Afropunk and Black Nerdcore Rappers

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A couple of months ago, I did a post on my top ten Afropunk musicians. Since then, I’ve discovered more Afropunk musicians as well as black nerd core rappers. If you want to get in the know about the newest Afropunk music, go to the Afropunk website and sign up for an account. By doing this, you’ll also subscribe to a free weekly newsletter that will be emailed to you.

When it comes to black nerdcore rappers, it was something I discovered via a post on For Harriet, the blog I’m interning for. Nerdcore is basically rap music about nerdy things like video games and comics as well as other subjects. It may or may not use chiptune, the sound you hear on classic Nintendo Games.

While nerdcore is dominated by white males, there are some black ones too. I’ll get to them later on in this post. For now, let’s get the Afropunk musicians out the way. I’ll even let you know about free downloads if the musicians have any.

1. Maimouna Youssef

Genre: Rap, jazz, pop, soul, spoken word

Some Favorite Songs: I’m A Woman, We’re Already Royals, Tell My StoryBasquiat The Concrete/All Shea Everything

Free Downloads:  The Reintroduction of Mumu Fresh Mixtape

2. Chargaux

Genre: classical with elements of other genres

Some Favorite Songs:  All The PartiesGreat Expectations

Free Downloads: The Gallerina Suites

3. Purple Ferdinand

Genre: Folk

Some Favorite Songs: BirdsWasn’t Taught To

Free Downloads: DragonFly EP (click free download and use your email or Facebook to get it)

4. Estere

Genre: soul with elements of hip-hop and electronica

Some Favorite Songs: I Spy, Reptilian Journey, Culture ClashPity

Free Downloads: Estere mixtape

5. The Objex

Genre: punk rock

Some Favorite Songs: GG. Social Disease, R.S.V.P.

Free Downloads: R.S.V.P. (see above link), Toxic Waste Girl

6.  Cody ChestnuTT

Genre:  soul, funk, blues, rock

Some Favorite Songs: I’ve Been Life, That’s Still Mama, Under The Spell of The Handout

Free Download: Landing on a Hundred (on the right, click Free Mp3  and then Free Download)

Black Nerdcore Rappers

1. Sammus

Some Favorite Songs: Fly Nerd, Cybernetic Armor, America

Free Downloads: Fly Nerd EP, America (see above link)

2.  Mega Ran

Some Favorite Songs: Chun Li (with Ryu Black and Masia One),  Maya’s Song, Infinite Lives (featuring D&D Sluggers)

Free Downloads:  Maya’s Song (see above link), Infinite Lives (see above link)

 

 

 

 

National Poetry Month Spotlight: The Connection Between Poetry and Rap

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Warning: Some of the content mentioned in this post contains strong language.

If you told me ten years ago that I would find rap music that I actually related to and learn to appreciate it, I would have said, “Yeah right, rap music sucks!”

The truth is, rap and poetry are more connected than I ever thought possible. It is not because rap and poetry can rhyme. It is because that with the right person, both of these mediums can have powerful and beautiful words.

Let me clarify something. I do NOT consider rap and poetry the same thing. I’m in my early twenties and I’ve been a poet for a decade and have read and written a lot of poetry.

Although I couldn’t tell you the lyrics to a Tupac song, I’ve listened to more than a dozen rap songs. To me, rap and poetry are two different things that can be connected.

My definition of rap is words spoken to a beat that rhyme. My definition of poetry is not only rhyme, but also metaphor, imagery, and other elements. Sometimes, these definitions can come together.

For instance, take the songs “Breathe”  (lyrics here) and “A New Star Is Born” (lyrics here) by the late Lisa Lopes.

To most people, she was known as Left Eye of the R&B hip-hop girl group TLC. I believe that she could have been a great solo rapper if she had been able to release this album in the United States and do more solo work.

If you listen to the songs and follow along with the lyrics, you’ll see why I consider Lopes a poet and rapper. On “Breathe”, she raps to the beat and her words rhyme, but her wordplay is very clever.

One of my favorite lyrics from this goes,” This here wand has a magic stick/Throat-wise called the Larynx/Helps me spill it, my utter of a mind/I milk it/So that it hits your back with spiritual parmalat/I farm the black/Spirit staff, Spirit staff, Spirit staff.”

On “A New Star Is Born”, there is only a little clever wordplay. However, the way Lopes speaks makes the song more like a spoken word poem than a rap song.

At the moment, the only living rapper I am a fan of is Angel Haze. She is unique because she has done spoken word poems and rap songs as well as some singing. One of my favorite spoken word pieces by her is called “Smile” (lines here).

Besides the fact that I can relate to some of her lyrics and love her singing voice, I enjoy that she mixes spoken word and rap in some of her songs. By speaking without a beat or not speaking to the beat, she turns the lyrics into spoken word.

One of the  best examples of this from Haze’s past work  is “Smiles N Hearts” (lyrics here). If you follow along with the lyrics, then you’ll eventually come to a lovely interlude with raw and beautiful imagery.

Sometimes, rap and poetry can be related because the person has done both separately. Late rapper Tupac Shakur wrote a book of poetry called The Rose That Grew From Concrete.

These poems are completely different from Shakur’s music because they are more introspective and thoughtful, especially if you know a little bit about Tupac himself.

A poem from the book, “Can You See The Pride In The Panther?” is about Shakur’s Black Panther Party roots. His mother was a member of the Black Panther Party before Shakur was born.

Besides music, the connection between rap and poetry can be found elsewhere. Recently, I had the immense pleasure of viewing the poetry film Slam.

There is a point in the film when a member of a police unit says, “That doggone rap music they got is driving em crazy.” I found it ironic because sometimes rap can be the key to survival.

A perfect example of this fact is a scene called “Serving Time” (turn your volume up). This is one of my favorite scenes from the film because it shows the contrast between the main character Raymond (the one on the left) and his cellmate on the right.

While Raymond’s verses are filled with hope, his cellmate’s verses are filled with anger. With a simple beat, poetry and rap have collided and shown two completely different mindsets.

So far, I have written four poems while listening to Angel Haze’s music, spoken word, and covers. Unlike most of the poems I have written, these have rhyme and wordplay.

Also, listening to her spoken word pieces have inspired me to record some of my poems with my laptop, a mike, and a sound recorder. While I have only done a few of them, doing this is making me more comfortable with reading my poetry aloud.

Even if you don’t enjoy rap music, you should keep an open mind, especially if you enjoy poetry. You never know what you’ll like and you’ll never know how it can impact you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Serena Zola

April 14, 2014 at 11:04 AM

Album Review: Dirty Gold (Explicit) by Angel Haze

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Dirty Gold, Angel Haze

Source: Wikipedia
Release Date: December 30th

Rapper-singer Angel Haze managed to make waves as an indie artist and YouTube poet for a few years, recording mixtapes with her own original songs and covers. Now, with the help of a major record label, her highly anticipated debut album has been released.

One of the strongest things about the album is its lyrics. Some of them are empowering anthems reminiscent of past original songs like “Sufferings First” and her cover of Mackelmore’s “Same Love”. “You gotta be the one difference in your life and turn it around” she raps in “A Tribe Called Red”. “So don’t get lost tonight, never let the ignorance cost your life” she says in the suicide prevention song “Angels and Airwaves”.

Besides empowerment, some of the songs are also confessional, introspective, and poetic. “Black Synagogue” discusses Haze’s thoughts on God, while “Black Dahlia” discusses her relationship with her mother. “April’s Fool” discusses love with beautiful spring imagery while “White Lily/White Lies” has a poignant metaphor for a young woman without self-respect.

In addition to the lyrics, the production of the album is very good. The beats are simple enough to convey a certain rhythm and tone in each song without drowning out Haze’s vocals and rapping or anyone else featured on the album.

With the exception of the tracks “Battle Cry”and “Black Synagogue”, Haze sings and raps on every track that has vocals. “Battle Cry” features vocals by Sia and “Black Synagogue” features vocals by Wynter Gordon. In addition, the track “Planes Fly” brings Haze’s sweet vocals center-stage and allows Haze to accompany herself  with rapping.

Also, a couple of songs allow Haze to speak for a few moments without a beat and bring out the YouTube poet. Finally, the R&B, rap, gospel, and pop influence on certain tracks demonstrates the diverse musical interests previously shown on Haze’s 30 Gold covers and freestyles.

The only flaws on the album are the inclusion of lines from Haze’s interviews at the beginning of certain songs and the track “Echelon (It’s My Way)” . Sometimes, the interview lines are unnecessary. Haze should let the music tell its story on its own instead of trying to explain it a little beforehand.

With “Echelon (It’s My Way)”, it seems out-of-place with the rest of the album. It is a personal celebratory anthem similar to the album’s first track “Sing About Me”, except it is more boastful. The track may be a good way to energize the crowd when performing live, but on the album it is just generic.

Overall, Dirty Gold is a great debut album that showcases Haze’s talent as a singer, rapper, and lyricist. Rap and pop fans alike will enjoy it.

Written by Serena Zola

January 4, 2014 at 1:41 PM

My Expectations for Angel Haze’s Debut Album Dirty Gold

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Angel Haze
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Warning: Some of the songs on this blog post contain explicit content

Recently, it was announced that Dirty Gold, the debut album of upcoming rapper and singer Angel Haze, will be released in a month and a half.

When I first read this, I was thinking that the album would be out by Christmas. To my dismay, when I looked up the official release date, it was in January.

Luckily, Angel Haze has been releasing a series of freestyles and covers on Soundcloud in a project called “30 Gold”. There will be thirty tracks total. Most of the songs are free to download from the site.

Based on the covers as well as some of Angel Haze’s mixtapes, here is what I expect from Dirty Gold:

  1. Confessional and empowering raps (or ballads) similar to Haze’s cover of Mackelmore’s “Same Love” and Haze’s original song “Smiles N Hearts”
  2. R & B songs similar to Haze’s cover of Erykah Badu’s “Love of My Life”On her cover, Haze sings and raps.
  3. Acoustic songs similar to Haze’s cover of Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” and Haze’s most recent cover of One Republic’s “Counting Stars”
  4. Upbeat dance tracks similar to Haze’s cover of John Newman’s “Love Me Again”

Bonus: A personal hope is that Angel Haze raps to piano like she does in her original songs “Smile” and “Heart”.

As you can hear, Angel Haze is a diverse musician. According to a recent interview in Rolling Stone, Haze summed up Dirty Gold as “Dealing with the tough stuff to get better and be worth something.” Here’s hoping Dirty Gold is worth the value of Angel Haze’s talent.

Written by Serena Zola

November 22, 2013 at 10:00 AM

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