10 Songs You Need to Hear: Raz Simone

An introduction to the talented up-and-comer

Raz Simone’s a Seattle-based songwriter and member of the hip-hop collective, Black Umbrella. In 2014, industry executives Lyor Cohen, Todd Moscowitz, and Kevin Liles signed Raz to their newly established 300 Entertainment. With his unique voice, unusually staccato delivery and the support of 300 Entertainment, Simone has unlimited potential.

 

“Still Mobbin’”

This is probably my favorite Raz Simone record. The catchy chorus, smooth vocals, and fantastic beat are all the ingredients needed for a masterpiece.

 

“They’ll Speak”

“They’ll Speak” is the first track I heard from the artist and I instantly knew he was special. The song is basically a five-minute freeform poem backed by Hans Zimmer’s score from The Dark Knight.

 

“Pulling”

“Pulling” tells an incredibly vivid and dark story. Only a truly talented artist can convey such emotion.

 

“Hometown”

“Hometown Glory” by Adele has to be one of the most heavily remixed ballads in hip-hop music. This is a very impressive remix though.

 

“Nothing’s Gonna Change”

Raz teams up with fellow Black Umbrella artist, Sam Lachow, to deliver “Nothing’s Gonna Change.”

 

“Same Problems”

Simone shows his tougher, more agressive side with this one. “Same Problems” also features verses from Fatal Lucciauno and Gifted Gab.

 

“Sometimes I Don’t”

Accompanied by Sam Lachow, “Sometimes I Don’t” is a smooth jam to ride to.

 

“Shoes On”

Although he doesn’t always talk about it in his music, Raz Simone does hustle hard.

 

“Don’t Shine”

“Don’t Shine” reminds me of “Heaven at Night” by Kid Cudi for some reason… Both good songs though.

 

“Respect For The Dope Fiends”

This track is from Simone’s project Trap Spirituals in which Raz experiments with a more trap sound.

 

What do you think of Raz Simone? Which was your favorite song?

 

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Ultimate Party Playlist

I believe I’ve created the formula for the perfect playlist to get everyone on the dance floor at a party.

  1. All songs must be danceable… No slow jams.

 

  1. The lyrical content needs to fit the party atmosphere. Nobody wants to hear life lessons when they are drinking. There is a time and place for conscious rap and it isn’t at a party.

 

  1. At least 75-85% of the playlist needs to be made up of popular songs that people know. This doesn’t mean play only songs from the past two years. Look over the past 20 years and dig up some throwbacks. In college, I tried playing underground artists like Kendrick and J. Cole before they were popular. Unfortunately, this resulted in guests constantly requesting song changes. On the whole, people don’t want to be introduced to unfamiliar artists at a party. They just want something they can jam to.

 

Click here or follow the link below to check out my ultimate party playlist.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7UByn5HCKTDMg_EszFbZJ73ZB4MJfCOf

 

What do you think of the playlist? Is there a different kind of playlist you’d like to see?

 

Leave comments and requests for different lists below.

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Five Mixtapes You Might’ve Missed (Volume 2)

Due to the massive amount of free music floating around the Internet, great music often goes unnoticed and underappreciated.

 

Here are a few mixtapes that might’ve slipped under your radar that are worth checking out.

To see the previous list click here

Bacc 2 Old School Vol. 1 by Daz Dillinger

In 2013, Daz Dillinger released this mind-blowing mixtape that takes the listener back in time. The rapper uses exclusively funk music in all of the songs, presumably in celebration of the 20th anniversary of Snoop Dogg’s “Doggy Style” in which Daz played a part. The old school west coast funk sound is awesome and pays homage to artists like Snoop Dogg, 2pac, and Dr. Dre. Standout tracks include “Got 2 B Real” and “Mr. Groove”. I’m simply upset that we have yet to see any signs of Bacc 2 Old School Vol. 2.

Click here to listen and download Bacc 2 Old School Vol. 1

 

 

Orientation by Ohana Bam

At the end of 2016, Ohana Bam released a seven-track mixtape featuring vintage Kanye beats. Orientation’s a great introduction to the Chicago native. If he can create a full-length album with this level of quality, Ohana will blow up… Bam!

Click here to listen and download Orientation

 

 

Hotel by Yelawolf

Yelawolf’s 2015 album, Love Story, marked turning point in his career. His new sound and style fit him well and made me a huge fan. In October 2016, Yelawolf released an EP called Hotel. The project further solidifies his new country-rock style of rapping that defined Love Story. If his upcoming album, Trial By Fire, sounds anything like these two projects then we’re in for a treat.

Click here to listen and download Hotel

 

 

Unplugged: Live from Smith’s Olde Bar by Scotty ATL

This is one of my favorite mixtapes from 2016. The project was recorded during a live performance. Not only does this showcase Scotty’s impressive stage presence but it also shows that he only needs one take to perfectly deliver the lyrics. Fellow Atlanta artist, B.o.B, appears in a song as well. The two rappers frequently collaborate so it didn’t surprise me that Scotty had his buddy there to drop a verse. The beautiful background vocals and live instruments are the cherry on top of the already great mixtape. A few months later, Scotty released Daily Bread, which was also recorded live.

Click here to listen and download Unplugged: Live From Smith’s Olde Bar

 

 

Soul Searchin by Dizzy Wright

In 2011, before he got a big record deal, Dizzy Wright was just a kid trying to make a name for himself. The young lyricist poured his heart and soul into this mixtape and it really shows. The deep subject matter, vivid storytelling, and thought provoking opinions are all part of what makes Dizzy Wright so unique. Standout tracks include “Here He Go Again”, “Hit Me When You Comin”, and “I Wonder If Heaven Gotta Ghetto”.

Click here to listen and download Soul Searchin

 

What was your favorite on the list?

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5 Crazy Collaborations

One of my favorite aspects of hip-hop music is frequent collaboration between artists. It’s a defining characteristic of the genre and often results in some amazing music.

 

Here are five examples of great rap collaborations:

 

“Syllables”

This is possibly one of the best rap songs ever made and surprisingly few people are aware of its existence. Released in 2010, “Syllables” features verses from Eminem, Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Stat Quo, and Cashis. Aside from the ridiculously impressive line-up of rappers, the song is actually insightful. The message focuses on the hook-driven, catchy-beat state of modern hip-hop music. This topic’s purposefully juxtaposed with a very generic chorus.

 

“Walk This Way”

Aerosmith’s 1975 song “Walk This Way” was remade in 1986 with the help of Run-D.M.C. This was one of the first major collaborations between the rock and rap genres. It became an international hit and was the first hip-hop song to reach the top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100.

 

“I’m On 2.0”

I love this song… So many incredible artists teamed up to make it. The song is by Trae Tha Truth but features appearances from Big K.R.I.T., Jadakiss, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, B.o.B., Tyga, Gudda Gudda, Bun B, & Mark Morrison. When “I’m On 2.0” was released I thought it was too good to be true… Kendrick and Cole alone is enough to have me in tears. I didn’t think Trae could possibly get all these artists together to make a music video… I’ve never been so happy to be proven wrong.

 

“So Appalled”

From Kanye West’s album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, “So Appalled” includes verses from Kanye West, Jay-Z, Cyhi the Prynce, Pusha T, Swizz Beatz, and RZA. In my opinion, Jay-Z and Cyhi the Prynce give the standout performances in the song.

 

“Abstract and the Dragon”

In 2013, rap legends Q-Tip and Busta Rhymes teamed up to create a mixtape called The Abstract & The Dragon. The 28-song mixtape features new collaborations, remixes, and old school hits. The only thing better than a collaborative album is a free collaborative album.

 

What are some of your favorite hip-hop collabs?

 

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10 Songs You Need to Hear: Jon Connor

One of Dr. Dre’s newest protégés, Jon Connor, is soon to be a household name. His gritty lyricism and versatile voice makes him a force to be reckoned with on pretty much any instrumental.

 

His big debut studio album, Vehicle City, should arrive some time this year. If you’ve been sleeping on Connor’s music, now’s the time to wake up.

 

“Place On Earth”

Possibly my favorite song from Jon Connor

 

“Epic”

“Epic” is a fitting title for this song.

 

“Go Back”

This was the first song I heard from Connor and I instantly became a fan. Having his mom in the track was a nice touch.

 

“Role Model”

From the mixtape, The Peoples Rapper LP, this is definitely a standout track.

 

 

“Juicy”

No offense to Biggie but Jon Connor really holds his own on this beat.

 

“In My Sleep” (Feat. Tito Lopez & Chelsea Blare)

Jon’s independently released album, Unconscious State, is an incredible project. As a big fan of Tito Lopez, it was great to hear the two artists collaborate.

 

“American Pie” (Feat. Lia Mack)

“American Pie” tells a sad story that really makes you think. Fans of J. Cole and Kendrick would be able to appreciate it.

 

“Blackout”

You can hear the hunger in his voice. The force is strong with this one.

 

“Someday” (Feat. Lia Mack)

“Someday” has soul. Listen to it on a sunny day, in the car, with all the windows down.

 

“Don’t Wanna Be” (Feat. Lia Mack)

Jon features Lia Mack on a ton of his songs but I’m not complaining about it.

 

What are your favorite Jon Connor songs?

 

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10 Songs You Need to Hear: Luke Christopher

 

Luke Christopher’s a rapper, singer, songwriter, and producer from Los Angeles and he’s going to be huge. His style, talent, and versatility have “mainstream media” written all over it.

 

In anticipation for Luke’s long-awaited debut album TMRWFRVR, I’ve compiled a list of 10 songs to serve as an introduction for those who aren’t yet familiar with this rising star.

 

TMRWFRVR is set to release on July 28th (mark those calendars)!

 

“They Know”

“They Know” is catchy as hell. Luke Christopher’s mass appeal is clear in this song.

 

“The Alphabet”

This song reminds me of Lupe Fiasco more than Drake but either way, it’s sick.

 

“Waiting Game”

Turn that base up for this one.

 

“Ms. Holy Water”

Watch this video and tell me he doesn’t have swagger through the roof.

 

“Lot to Learn”

“Lot to Learn” can best be described as a pop song. It showcases Luke’s versatility perfectly though.

 

“The Lights”

I’m not sure why but this is one of my favorite Luke Christopher. It has that feel-good factor that only a chorus of children can provide.

 

“This Old World”

Produced, written, and performed by Luke Christoper.

 

“Let’s Have a Party (feat. Asher Roth)”

Luke’s collaborated with Asher Roth on multiple occasions and I think they work well together.

 

“Hell of a Rhyme”

“Hell of a Rhyme” has that old-school vibe that true hip-hop fans can appreciate.

 

“Waterfalls”

If TMRWFRVR’s as good as this recently released single, I’ll be one happy fan.

 

 

Which song did you like the most?

 

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5 Kendrick Features From Back In The Day

5 great songs featuring Kendrick before he blew up

Kendrick Lamar’s a household name in Hip-Hop. However, like many artists, the road to success was long and full of guest features and mixtapes. His second studio album, Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, was the album that launched Lamar into popular culture in 2012.

 Before that time, his verses were equally as potent.

Here are five great songs featuring Kendrick before he blew up:

 

“Flower Child” by Nitty Scott (Feat. Kendrick Lamar)

About two months before Good Kid, M.A.A.D City came out, Nitty Scott released her debut, The Boombox Diaries, Vol. 1. The song “Flower Child” is a true hidden gem in the genre. Nitty Scott’s an incredible female emcee and Kendrick kills this track (in a good way).

 

“Textbook Stuff” by XV (Feat. Kendrick Lamar)

Many of you might know XV from the song “Awesome” which was included in the NBA 2K12 soundtrack. Although his debut album, The Kid With The Green Backpack, never saw the light of day (for unknown reasons), XV still released over 20 mixtapes during his career. His 2011 project, Zero Heroes, has a great verse from Lamar in the song “Textbook Stuff”. This was months before Kendrick released his first studio album, Section.80.

 

“Zip That Chop That” by Black Hippy

Before they were famous, the Top Dawg Entertainment artists made up a single group. Black Hippy consisted of Kendrick, Ab-Soul, Jay Rock, and Schoolboy Q and they were awesome. The four rappers still collaborate but most of their recent work’s more focused on their solo careers. “Zip That, Chop That” is a throwback classic and watching the video is half of the fun. It’s crazy to see how young they were.

 

“Too Strong” by the Gooneez & the Fratelleez (feat. Kendrick Lamar)

This Southern California rap duo and their three-piece band, the Fratelleez, are truly unique. Combining elements of rap, rock, and punk, the song “Too Strong” is a solid piece of music with a solid verse from Kendrick.

 

“Hood Gone Love It” by Jay Rock (feat. Kendrick Lamar)

Only weeks after Kendrick released Section.80, Jay Rock dropped his own debut album, Follow Me Home. Both projects are pure classics. July of 2011 was a big month for me, as a fan of Top Dawg Entertainment. The song “Hood Gone Love It” is one of my favorite features Kendrick’s ever done.

 

 

Which song is your favorite?

 

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