The Rap Up: Week of December 30, 2013

Rap Up

The Week In Music:
Late last week, hip hop artist Doe B. was shot and killed in Alabama at Centennial Hill Bar & Grill. An Alabama native and emcee signed to T.I.’s Hustle Gang label, Doe B. was one of eight people in total who were victims of the gunfire at Centennial (six others were wounded, one other person was killed). This week, Doe (born Glenn Thomas) and his unfortunate killing have made the news once again as a suspect has been arrested after turning himself in, and faces two counts of capital murder. Thomas’ killing is one of several unfortunate incidents of its kind which have occurred in recent times, and serves as a reminder that the hip hop community still has issues that need solutions. Thomas was a mere 22 years old.
For the third week in a row, Beyoncé’s self-titled visual album claimed the top spot on the Billboard 200 albums chart. After releasing an additional video last week, it seems as though the R&B queen has an unstoppable momentum attached to her at the moment. It will be interesting to see how Beyoncé’s latest controversy with NASA over the sampling of The Challenger space shuttle tragedy (which resulted in the deaths of seven astronauts in 1986 and is sampled on “XO” from the new album) will affect her stock in the near future.
Finally, international artist MIA announced that she is no longer involved with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation management. After signing with the management team in mid-2012, her Matangi album was all but shelved until about a month ago. The split comes after a noted rift between the two entities, as MIA has previously alluded to both abandoning her team and needing Kickstarter in the future. It will be interesting to see where the multi-faceted artist’s career goes from here, with her number one dance/electronic album Matangi recently released and her being under new management.

The News:
Justin Timberlake sold the most albums in 2013, while Robin Thicke had the biggest hit
KISS to play first ever outdoor hockey game in LA’s Dodger Stadium
New cryptocurrency named after Kanye West set to launch
Eve and billionaire fashion designer Maximillion Cooper now engaged
New Bruce Springsteen album High Hopes arrives early on Amazon

Alicia Keys and Blackberry no longer partners in business

The Tunes:
Drake – “Trophies”
A$AP Ferg – “Hood Pope” (Video)
Timothy Bloom – “Stand In The Way (Of My Love)”
Nicki Minaj – “Boss A** B****” (Remix) (ft. PTAF)
Vampire Weekend – “Step” Remix (ft. Heems & Despot of Das Racist & Danny Brown)
Audio Push – “Tis The Season” (ft. Joey Bada$$) (Video)
Angel Haze – Dirty Gold (Album)

The Charts:
Hot 100: Eminem – “The Monster” (ft. Rihanna)
Radio: Eminem – “The Monster” (ft. Rihanna)
Digital: Pitbull – “Timber” (ft. Ke$ha)*
200: Beyoncé – Beyoncé
R&B/Hip Hop: Beyoncé – Beyoncé
Rock: Lorde – Pure Heroine
Independent: Garth Brooks – Blame It On My Roots

The Bonus Track:
Meek Mill & 2 Chainz Give Back, Chance The Rapper Gets His

The Genesis of “Exodus”: The History Between Lil Wayne & Pusha T

What’s beef? Apparently, beef is when emcees address one another through subliminal disses and indiscreet tweets. For those who have been paying attention to hip hop news lately, rappers Lil Wayne and Pusha T have officially heated up the summer by sparking the latest case of rap beef. Each of the artists has released songs aimed at the other in the past, and it seems as though a large-scaled back and forth is on the horizon. However, the beef itself is nothing new. The issues between the two artists, while never becoming a headline, have existed for several years now. Seeing as though a lyrical battle is sure to ensue, it’s appropriate that The Listening Magazine takes you back in time to detail the origins of Lil Wayne versus Pusha T.
The history between Lil Wayne and Pusha T was not always filled with tension between the two artists. In fact, the artists and their affiliates worked together on multiple occasions. In 2002, Pusha T and his brother Malice (known collectively as Clipse) released their debut studio album Lord Willin’ on the Star Trak record label. The lead single from that album, “Grindin’”, became a hit and was the song that allowed the group to break through into the mainstream. Fans of the Clipse’s first album know that the remix of this classic record features none other than Lil Wayne and Cash Money counterpart Birdman. In the same year, Birdman (then known as Baby the #1 Stunna) released his debut album as a solo artist. The Clipse were featured on “What Happened To That Boy”, one of the album’s singles. At this point in time, it seemed as though both camps supported one another thoroughly and were on good terms.
Now fast forward to 2006. Lil Wayne is the self-proclaimed “best rapper alive” and Clipse are gearing up to release their long-awaited and oft-delayed sophomore album Hell Hath No Fury. At this time in his career, Wayne began to shift his style in terms of his music and his image. One of these changes was the addition of BAPE, a clothing line which the Clipse (as well as producer Pharrell Williams) were infamous for wearing, to his wardrobe. Wayne can be seen wearing BAPE apparrel on the cover of Vibe Magazine, as well as in his video for “Hustler Musik”. Coincidentally (or maybe not so much), the first single from Hell Hath No Fury was titled “Mr. Me Too” and was centered on people who copy the styles of others. In an interview with Complex Magazine, Wayne stated that he felt the Clipse single was about him and proceeded to attack the group and their affiliates. This marked the beginning of the tension between the two parties.
In the next couple years, the Clipse would go on to talk about the beef in interviews with radio stations and publications to express their views. This expression later found its way onto records. On the Re-Up Gang‘s We Got It For Cheap Volume 3 (2008), Pusha rapped “Lil’ nigga flows, but his metaphors boring, don’t make me turn daddy’s little girl to orphan, that would mean I’d have to kill Baby like abortion”. At this juncture, the group had clearly thrown shots at Wayne and Cash Money Records. However, with the Cash Money label experiencing tremendous amounts of success, the shots went largely unanswered and the Clipse went on to eventually disown the beef entirely.
In 2011, the issues between the two artists began to bubble back to the surface once again. While Pusha T went as far as to congratulate Wayne on being freed after his prison stint in Riker’s Island, he took issue with Wayne’s protégé, Drake. As quiet as it’s kept, Drake has thrown some subliminal shots of his own towards people close to Pusha. The Canadian emcee hinted in an interview that Kanye West and Jay-Z‘s Watch The Throne album was a concept that Wayne and he came up with first. Also, Drake rapped “the throne is for the taking” on DJ Khaled’s “I’m On One”, possibly referring to Kanye and Jay. Now a member of Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Music label, Pusha has appeared to respond with countless subliminal shots in a myriad of tracks he’s released since 2011 (including “Don’t F**k With Me”, in which Pusha raps “the swag don’t match the sweaters”). An admitted Clipse fan, Drake has yet to engage with Pusha to this point.
Pusha’s most recent subliminal attack came this week is in the form of “Exodus 23:1”, which is supposedly a single from his upcoming G.O.O.D. Music debut. The song features lyrics, some more specifically catered than others, which are directed at the Young Money conglomerate (including Drake and affiliate The Weeknd). Appearing to be fed up with Pusha’s attacks, Lil Wayne tweeted “F*k Pusha T and anybody that love em” from his @LilTunechi account on Thursday. The tweet would eventually become the opening line in “Goulish”, a song aimed at the younger half of the Clipse. Malice, Pusha’s partner in rhyme, tweeted that he was unconcerned about anyone that had problems with his younger brother. Likewise, Pusha’s label mate Kid Cudi tweeted that he loved Pusha T, and welcomed any oncoming controversy.
With the storied beef between Lil Wayne and Pusha T approaching its presumed climax, there are several questions hip hop fans are anxious to have answered. Will Pusha respond to Wayne’s attack? Will Drake engage in the confrontation? With affiliated parties involving themselves, will this become Young Money versus G.O.O.D. Music? Or will the beef simply die out on a whimper? Whatever the case, this feud is sure to have fans on the edges of their seats in anticipation of what is to come. From the looks of it, it’s going to be a cruel summer…

Album Review: Wiz Khalifa – “Taylor Allderdice”

“When you talk about longevity, you can’t base that on one year, or six months, or eight months, or anything like that… I was speaking to anybody who’s riding with me for the long run, and who’s looking for the next thing for me to do”.
Wiz Khalifa on his comments in “Strictly For My Taylors

A quick flashback to last year would be indicative of Wiz Khalifa’s meteoric rise to stardom. At this time in 2011, Wiz had just released his major label debut Rolling Papers to lackluster reviews after experiencing his first mainstream success behind the hit record “Black And Yellow”.
Fast forward and TGOD supporters around the world rejoice as the 24 year-old Pittsburgh native is back on the scene with his newest project Taylor Allderdice. Named after Wiz’s high school alma mater, the project shows a return to the form he had prior to his Atlantic Records venture. During that span, Wiz enlisted a shortlist of producers and engineers (Sledgren, Cardo, Big Jerm, Johnny Juliano, I.D. Labs) to create synth-heavy, bass-blaring, listener-engaging instrumentals which were crafted specifically to fit his signature deliveries and lyrical content, the latter of which is centered on his heavy usage of marijuana and his party lifestyle. Taylor Allderdice sees Wiz bringing back a sound which fans have come to expect from him, and that’s definitely not a bad thing.
The qualities and characteristics of Taylor Allderdice are largely comparable to some of Wiz’s more recent works. For instance, the more aggressive atmosphere which Wiz attempted to achieve with Cabin Fever has a presence on Taylor Allderdice. With songs like “Taylor Gang” and “Homicide” being huge fan favorites last year, it’s good to see Wiz incorporating this sound into this new project with records like “Guilty Conscience”, “T.A.P.”, and “The Code”. Simultaneously, fans of Kush & Orange Juice will appreciate the cohesive sound of Taylor Allderdice. Whether it’s the flow-heavy rapping and melodic choruses which spawn memorable records, or if it’s the familiar production styles and thematic interludes which provide a packaging for those records, Taylor Allderdice sees Wiz and the gang perfectly meshing these essential song qualities in order to craft a project which is wholly enjoyable and plays like a soundtrack fitting of a stoner lifestyle (no Mac and Devin).
Taylor Allderdice has several standout tracks for the listeners to enjoy. The inaugural record “Amber Ice” is likely to be the smoothest opening to any of Wiz’s projects to date, while “Mary 3x” is more than serviceable as the “weed song” this time around. The beauty of Taylor Allderdice is that the project gets better after it reaches its midpoint. “Rowland” (track 10) features fellow emcee Smoke DZA and captures a vibe which is faintly reminiscent of Wiz’s How Fly days with Curren$y. “My Favorite Song” sees the Academy Award-winning Taylor Gang member Juicy J make his first of three straight appearances on the project. The song is produced by Rob Halladay (of Yung Berg “Sexy Lady” fame) and is slightly infectious to say the least. Next up, the SpaceGhostPurrp-produced “T.A.P.” slows the pace and brings a more bass-heavy production for Wiz and Juicy J to takeoff to. Finally, a Lex Luger production finds its home on the project as “The Code” lets the Taylor Gang (Wiz, Chevy Woods, Juicy J, & Lola Monroe) engage in a new-school posse cut. While the momentum gained by these four records is somewhat lost after the project fails to go out with a bang, Wiz’s effort is still commendable.
In summary, Wiz Khalifa fans will appreciate and enjoy Taylor Allderdice for the foreseeable future and add it to their collection of Pittsburgh-penned marijuana music. Hopefully, this project is foreshadowing of good things to come for Wiz and the Gang.

Pros:
+Serves as a nice rebound from Rolling Papers
+Returns to the use of in-house producers/engineers, with efficient use of outside production
+Further demonstrates Wiz’s ability to craft cohesive projects
+ “Mary 3x”, “Rowland”, “T.A.P.”, “The Code”

Lows:
Closes out with lackluster, filler-quality songs
Shows a lack of growth in terms of subject matter; no expansion or evolution
“Brainstorm”, “Number 16”, “Blindfolds”

Listening Rating:
3.9/5, BA[S]ICs
STRONG