10 Songs You Need to Hear: Tito Lopez

Mississippi underdog, Tito Lopez, is an artist that many Hip Hop Heads are familiar with.

If you’re unfamiliar with Tito Lo, check out his story here.

Tito’s released many mixtapes over the years, but here are 10 songs that’ll serve as a good jumping-off point introducing you to his music:

 

  1. “Black Dude Spanish Name”

2. “Try Me”

3. “THE GREATEST”

4. “Y.O.U.”

5. “The Blues”

6. “Have Mercy”

7. “Story to Tell”

8. “Jada Pac [Venting Session #9]”

9. “Mississippi Burning”

10. “Outkast Medley”

 

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10 Songs You Need to Hear: Action Bronson

Gourmet chef, TV personality, and rapper, Action Bronson is gearing up to release a new album. Blue Chips 7000 will arrive this Friday (August 25th) so I decided to honor his music with a top-10 list.

 

Here are 10 of my favorite tracks from Bronsolini’s discography:

 

“9-24-11”

From Action’s Blue Chips mixtape series, this song is one of the most epic lyrical miracles from the New York emcee.

 

“Actin Crazy”

The music video is a masterpiece that makes me love the song even more. “Actin Crazy” is definitely a standout track from Mr. Wonderful.

 

“Mike Vick”

Bronson’s affinity for luxury is highlighted in this record. His performance in “Mike Vick” is the lyrical equivalent of a pimp walk.

 

“It’s Me”

Action’s lighthearted lyrics and the whimsical tone of the instrumental highlight the comedic demeanor that made him famous.

 

“Easy Rider”

Both the song and the music video are epic.

 

“Tapas”

Action Bronson can deliver one of the best old-school flows.

 

“Tan Leather”

Bam Bam’s laid-back rhymes truly shine in “Tan Leather”. His indefinable coolness is part of what makes Action Bronson a larger than life personality.

 

“Riggs & Murtaugh” by Reks (ft. Action Bronson)

Reks is one of my favorite underground rappers. The two artists have great chemistry in “Riggs & Murtaugh”. Statik Selektah’s the only producer who could create such harmony.

 

“Hookers At The Point”

If you’re easily offended, DO NOT listen to this track.

 

“Pouches of Tuna”

Action’s voice and some string instruments are all the ingredients needed for a dose of dopeness.

 

Honorable Mentions:

Amadu Diablo

Pepe Lopez

Eggs On The Third Floor

 

What are your favorite records from Mr. Wonderful?

 

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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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My Reaction to the XXL 2017 Freshman Class

Note: My use of hyperlinks throughout the article is very deliberate. I recommend clicking them.

 

No offense to the XXL staff members… but what the hell?

  

Beginning in 2007, XXL has released an annual list of 10 up-and-coming artists to showcase new talent in the hip-hop genre. The first few years were awesome and accurately predicted the artists with the most potential. In 2011, they introduced an annual cypher, which was a great addition.

 

In 2014, the tide began to turn. The freshman class of 2014 consisted of 5 talented rappers and 5 people that made me seriously question the selection process. The unbalanced talent in the 2014 class was very evident in the cypher because half of the participants rapped like they’d never touched a microphone before.

 

2015 and 2016 were total disappointments. Just when I thought they couldn’t get any worse, they released the 2017 freshman class.

 

This year’s class is undoubtedly the worst one yet. The cyphers are sure to be a laughable mess and I’ve basically lost all faith in the XXL decision makers. The annual list was originally intended to showcase artists who represent the future of the genre. I pray that XXL’s 2017 list isn’t an accurate prediction of where rap is headed. 

  

Below, I’ve made a list of 10 people who should’ve been chosen.

 

  

Young M.A

 At the 2016 BET Hip Hop Awards, she delivered what XXL Magazine described as a “show-stopping freestyle… one of the best freestyles of the night.” I can’t speak for the LGBT community but I’d imagine they’d be happy to see her in the 2017

 

 

J.I.D.

 I’m really surprised J.I.D. wasn’t picked for this year’s freshman class… especially after J. Cole signed him to Dreameville Records.

 

 

D.R.A.M.

 Why was D.R.A.M. not picked? He has the personality that makes a superstar and he’s collaborated with popular artists like in the song “Broccoli” which features Lil Yachty. There’s no logical explanation for D.R.A.M. not appearing on the cover in this year.

 

 

KYLE

KYLE is one of the few rappers who earned their spot in the 2017 freshman class. Congratulations, KYLE. Well done.

 

 

Token

 Token has yet to drop his debut album but if it’s released in 2017, his name will blow up. He’ll be picked for the 2018 or 2019 for sure and, as a seasoned battle rapper, he’ll perform well in the cypher.

 

 

Montana of 300

Montana of 300 was originally signed to Lyor Cohen’s 300 Entertainment but has since left that label. Regardless, he should have been chosen for the cover. According to his facebook, “So I found out that I had the most votes for the XXL Freshman cover and I still didn’t get on there. They said my fans was going crazy….disrespecting the director and ppl in charge of the XXL cover. Rather my fans was disrespectful of not, we all know I wasn’t gone get on there anyway. It’s all about politics. Everybody, including every rapper on the cover knows who Montana of 300 is. But guess what….since idk anybody that’s connected with them (that’s vouching for me heavy), and I’m not dealing with any major record labels to push for me AND I’m not paying to get on that bitch either, that’s why my votes ain’t mean shit. The power of intimidation is a mf. It’s not about talent, it’s about politics.”

 

 

RJ

 RJ is a talented rapper who’s known for collaborating with YG and DJ Mustard. His recently released album, Mr. LA, is a solid project. I imagine that he’ll be chosen for the cover in 2018 after he gains a little more notoriety.

 

 

Russ

He’s selling out shows wherever he goes and his music video views are off the charts. His debut album wasn’t mind-blowing but Russ is making waves. Kap G was picked for this year’s class and as a GA native, I can assure that Kap G doesn’t accurately represent popular music in Atlanta.

 

 

Xxxtentacion

 I personally think XXX is complete garbage but he’s popular among the younger crowd so being chosen for the 2017 freshman class made sense.

 

 

Joyner Lucas

 Joyner Lucas is a true lyricist with a rapidly growing audience. Having Joyner Lucas on the cover would’ve made up for Xxxtentacion’s lack of talent. In the words of Forest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

 

What did you think of the 2017 Freshman Class?

 Who do you think should’ve been chosen?

 Please comment below

 

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Five Mixtapes You Might’ve Missed (Volume 1)

In the modern hip-hop industry, releasing free mixtapes is the most popular way to gain publicity. Due to the massive amount of music floating around the Internet, great work often goes unnoticed and underappreciated.

  

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

 

 

Long Term 2 by Ab-Soul

 In 2010, Top Dawg Entertainment was still trying to break into the game. Since then, the independent label’s become a household name among Hip-Hop fans. Ab-Soul’s mixtape, Long Term 2, is a shining example of how talented the Top Dawg team really is.

Click here to listen and download Long Term 2

 

 

In Between The Lines (Volume 2) by Reks

 Fans of old-school rap music will love this one. Reks stands for ‘Rhythmatic Eternal King Supreme’ and he earns his name with this 30-song masterpiece. Hosted by Statik Selektah, In Between The Lines (Volume 2) has the underground sound that brings you back to the golden era of hip-hop.

Click here to listen and download In Between The Lines (Volume 2)

 

 

Cognitive Dissonance by Raz Simone

Raz takes you on an emotional journey with Cognitive Dissonance. I had never heard of him before discovering this project and I was instantly a huge fan. Lyor Cohen, Todd Moscowitz, and Kevin Liles made a great choice when they signed Simone to their newly established company, 300 Entertainment.

Click here to listen and download Cognitive Dissonance

 

 

Stoic by T-Pain

I’m a die-hard T-Pain fan and it’s because of his mixtapes. My personal favorite mixtape from him is Stoic. Stand-out tracks include “Hole In My Pocket”, “SupperTime”, and “Exclusive”.

Click here to listen and download Stoic

 

 

Slumdon Bridge by Yelawolf & Ed Sheeran

 Shady Record’s Yelawolf teamed up with UK singer Ed Sheeran to create a free EP in 2012. Slumdon Bridge only has 4 songs but those songs are awesome. The collaboration of these two artists is fantastic, creating a perfect juxtaposition in each song.

Click here to listen and download Slumdon Bridge

 

What was your favorite on the list? 

 

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10 Remixes That Were Better Than the Original

A remix can be a beautiful thing. It’s a fantastic way to express your artistry over a celebrated beat in the hip-hop, R&B, and pop genres.

 

Sometimes, however, a remix is so awesome that the original version of the song seems worse by comparison.

 

Here are ten great examples of this:

  1. Lorde’s 2014 hit “Royals” won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year. T-pain should have won the fictitious Remix of the Year Award for his take on the song.

 

  1. When Ace Hood got his hands on the instrumental for “Pretty Boy Swag” he did things that Soulja Boy isn’t capable of.

 

  1. My first introduction to Phil Ade’s music was his remix of “Happy” by Pharrell. Ade fits the beat perfectly with his laid-back vocals and smooth flow.

 

  1. “6’7” is one of Lil Wayne’s most popular singles from his 2010 album Tha Carter IV. When Kendrick Lamar remixed it, he did what he’s best at: outperforming other artists.

 

  1. Kid Cudi’s “Cudderisback” is such a classic that many Cudi fans don’t even know it’s a remix of “Ottoman” by Vampire Weekend. This was my jam when I was in high school.

 

  1. “Roman’s Revenge” by Nicki Minaj (featuring Eminem) isn’t a bad song. I really enjoy the part with Eminem. However, at least 66% of the song is Nicki Minaj and that’s not a good ratio. Chris Webby is a more talented lyricist than Minaj and he proves that in “Webster’s Revenge.”

 

  1. Jon Connor has released entire mixtapes composing of remixed hits from famous musicians like like Eminem, Kanye West, and even The Notorious B.I.G.. Connor’s versatility as an artist is proven time and time again. His remix of Rick Ross’s “The Devil is A Lie” is so incredible that it puts Rick Ross to shame.

 

  1. Drake’s version of Goapele’s “Closer to My Dreams” is one of my favorite Drake tracks to this day. In my opinion, this is when the young rapper was in his prime.

 

  1. “Love Yourself” by Keith James is so much better than Justin Bieber’s version that I felt the need to include it. I hope to hear a lot more covers from Keith James in the future.

 

  1. It isn’t often that an artist is raised from the dead to remix a song. Luckily, an anonymous genius decided to do just that to Miley Cyrus’s song “Party in The U.S.A.”

 

What are some of your favorite remixes?

 

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