J.Cole: 2014 Forrest Hills Drive
This album solidifies why J. Cole is the most relatable mainstream Hip Hop artist there is today. Along with artist such as Logic, Big K.R.I.T. and Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole is contributing to the rebirth of the art of storytelling in Rap and redefining Hip Hop in our generation. With little mainstream promotion and no singles for his third and by far best project, Cole decided to announce his new album just three weeks before its release. He still managed to sell 361, 120 copies in the first week as a chart-topping album. While most artists spend millions on promotional schemes, J. Cole was busy investing his time, passion, and presence to be in solidarity with the families of Mike Brown and Eric Garner by visiting Ferguson, MO. and New York and marching with fellow protestors. J. Cole tugged at all of our hearts with his tribute to Mike Brown, “Be Free”, which left his fans anticipating for Cole’s next move. The album did not disappoint, with songs such as “Fire squad”, “G.O.M.D.”, and “No Role Modelz”. The North Carolina native has never been afraid to put his heart and his past in his rhymes. Cole touches on sensitive topics most artists wouldn’t dare to shed light on like his childhood home being foreclosed or tales of his first time having intercourse. This album was more than just music, some dope rhymes and tight productions; it was a story of self-actualization as “B-List” celebrity as Cole refers to himself. I’ve followed Cole since The Warm Up and his growth ceases to amaze me.
The Southern Duo, Big Boi and Andre 3000 reunited at Coachella after almost a decade of being broken apart. The news of Outkast’s reunion had Hip Hop lovers all over the nation in a frenzy and lining up to buy tickets to witness this miracle. However, reviews state the performance was awkward and a bit disorganized. As I was buying my ticket to Governor’s Ball in NYC, a three day long music festival which Outkast was headlining along with Janelle Monae and J. Cole, I still had faith in the creative duo would shake off the rust that has been building due to their ten year stage absence. The performance was more than any true fan of Hip Hop could have prayed for. Andre and Big Boi had amazing chemistry, finishing each other’s rhymes and in complete synch with one another. They performed their biggest hits from Stankonia and ATLiens. Andre 3000 came out in true Outkast fashion wearing a white wig and a jumpsuit with the words “Art of Fart?” written across his chest. Even after ten years of being apart, the Duo got on that stage and reminded us all that two brothers from the south are some of the baddest to do it in Hip Hop.
Logic: Under Pressure
Under Pressure has been in the works for a few years now and was recorded in a two week period. This is Logic’s debut studio album under Def Jam Records and Visionary Music Group. I have to give it to Logic and J. Cole for releasing two of the best Hip Hop albums in 2014 with barely any promotion and no features. Although No I.D. served as the executive producer for this project, all the songwriting and production was carried out by Logic himself. The Biracial, Maryland native has released four free mix tapes prior to this album which are all worthy of a few spins. Some of his biggest influences have been Wu-tang Clan, Nas, The Roots, Rakim, KRS-One, John Coltrane and Frank Sinatra. Logic embodies the alter ego of a Young Sinatra which is also the title his last three previous mix tapes. You can hear these influences in this album as his samples Outkast, KRS-One, and Marvin Gaye. He believes he spreads love, peace and positivity through his music; he does that and more.
Kendrick Lamar Performs “I” on SNL:
There was so much negative back lash from fans and music critics when Kendrick released the single titled, “I”. The song is not the typical sound one would expect to hear from a Hip Hop artist and Rapper such as Kendrick. However, K.Dot has stated it himself, he’s not a rapper, he’s a writer. Therefore, this song in many forms serves as more than just a single to promote his upcoming album. It serves to spread a message of sense of self, love and positivity in the image of self. Kendrick took his controversial single and gave us one of the best performances I’ve seen live on SNL. Kendrick blessed us with a unique and soulful sound by performing with a live band and even bringing back the essence of actual instruments to his music. Logic said it best in a recent interview, “I think it is funny that we live in an era and time where peace, love and positivity is considered corny and wack.” It’s time that Hip Hop reverts back to its origins of spreading this exact message, to love thyself and not look for validation outside of yourself.
Macklemore’s Grammy Win:
Macklemore and Ryan Luis was up for the Best Rap Album of the year at the Grammy’s along with Kendrick Lamar’s debut album, G.O.O.D. Kid Maad City, and he won. Fans and artist were extremely upset and outraged by this win and this is why. For decades now, black artists have been robbed of the praise and credit due to their music by white artist. Hip Hop was founded to give blacks a voice, freedom of expression and creativity to talk about their everyday struggles. Black artist have been rapping and singing about the oppression of the black community from white supremacy, gang violence, police brutality and institutional racism long before Hip Hop was even created. A white man comes along with sugar coated rhymes of anti-racism and pro-homosexuality and his wins Best Rap Album of the year. Mean while Kendrick literally gave us a film in the form of music about his life and those with similar lifestyles, caught up in the security street gangs claim to promise misguided youth and dealing with racism as a young black male in Compton. Kendrick Lamar indefinitely, had the best album of the year. But history continues to repeat itself. As spoken by the almighty J. Cole, “While silly n*ggas argue over who gone snatch the crown, look around my n*gga white people have snatched the sound”. White America continues to gain profit, consume and imitate black culture yet have no idea what it means.
Self-proclaimed ‘rapper’, Iggy Azealia has been the talk of the year. Her single “fancy” has topped charts along with her album, The New Classic. She has sold out concerts and has gained popularity in mainstream music. Yet, she has very little support from the black community and black artist. Her music is mediocre to say the least, yet her rise to fame as a pop and hip hop artist has much to do with the industry only willing to promote a handful of female artists. The music industry is usually only willing to promote over sexualized images of female artists in Hip Hop and rarely on pure talent anymore. Aside from her “p*ssy poppin’” music and her attempts to take on ‘twerking’, her white privilege has everything to do with her popularity. Historically, White artists have been able to make and sell black music without the business of black people. White people have colombused black culture for centuries and made bank. There is a conspiracy to white wash hip hop with Iggy and Macklemore being its more visible agents. The CEOs of some of the biggest record labels of hip hop artist are extremely wealthy white men. Iggy Azealia represents everything that is wrong with white privilege and the racial fetish of white women over women of color.
T.I.: “Shoe Shining Coon”.
T.I. has gone to bat defending rap and pop artist, Iggy Azaelea, as she continues to have shade thrown directly her way from artist like Nicki Minaj, Azealia Banks, Eminem and Snoop Dogg. T.I. has taken it to twitter and even writing an open letter defendingg Iggy’s spot in Hip Hop. After New York rapper, Azealia Banks went on a rant dissin’ Iggy on Twitter and later gave a very emotional interview on Hot 97 about how black artist are being smudged out of black culture, the Hip Hop legend and former member of ATCQ, Q-tip, took it upon himself to school little miss Igloo on the history of Hip Hop. He was respectful and quite frankly should be thanked for the educational lesson about the fundamentals Hip Hop was founded on. Yet, T.I. wasn’t calling it a quits, he addressed Q-Tip and Iggy tweeting, “This lead to an almost incoherent overly defensive, paranoid sense of, “All White People Wanna Steal Our Sh*t” mentality. We think all white people who do our shit gotta kiss our a** or we don’t like em!!!”. Well, T.I., it’s not that simple and it is much bigger than Iggy herself. Azealia Banks has called out T.I. for defending the image of a white woman who appropriates black culture yet allows his wife, Tiny, to be made the butt of a very cruel joke for her inability to read properly. Banks wasn’t far off when she called T.I. a “Shoe shining coon”.