Tag Archives: Jaylib

SO LOUD

I didn’t expect to come back from India with fresh material for my rap blog, but

Kalyanji Anandji – Dharmatma Theme

Jaylib – Champion Sound

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SWERVE

It’s been while since I heard anything from Kanye where it was in any way apparent that J Dilla was one of his foundational influences.

Kanye West – Mercy (feat. Big Sean, Pusha T, & 2 Chainz)

You gotta hand it to Kanye, regardless of how you feel about his music, he’s put out some really cool-looking videos lately.  It was real crazy to hear sounds that I’m used to experiencing in the outro of this track on mainstream rap radio.

Jaylib – Champion Sound

Bonus track:

Kalyanji Anandji – Dharmatma Theme Music (Sad)

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POP. COLLARS. DROP. DOLLARS.

I’ve had the idea for this post bouncing around in my head for a couple weeks now, and I last night I had a real good conversation with my good friend Arsenios about our mutual awe of Jaylib, so I figured now would be a good time to get this one out there since it features one of my favorite songs of theirs.

The idea first came to me when I first heard this MJG (of 8Ball & MJG fame) solo track that features one of the most lyrical bass drum parts I’ve ever heard, and the best part is that MJG raps right in time with it every time it gets to that signature pattern in the third bar of the phrase.

MJG – Good Damn Man

When I listen to that song, it completely captures my full attention because every time a new phrase starts, I’m just giddy with anticipation for when it gets to that third bar to see what words he’s going to fit into that rhythmic pattern this time!  First it’s

Sent. three. tricks-up; to backwoods river.

then

Kick. the. shit-out; yo’ ass quite nicely.

And he just goes on and on, perfectly sculpting every turn of phrase to fit into that beautifully unusual but captivating kick drum.  The only song I can think of that possibly surpasses that level of rhythmic matching is in this track during J Dilla’s verses.

Jaylib – McNasty Filth (feat. Frank-N-Dank)

In this song, Dilla is rapping in rhythmic unison with a much longer and more complex pattern: the extremely syncopated high hat part that Madlib no doubt tapped out by hand on the pads of his sampler when he composed this beat.  Frank and Dank both rap in that in-your-face Detroit style they always do, which is no complaint, but Dilla really takes it to the next level when it’s his turn, making it probably the most technically impressive feat of rapping of his entire career.  I find myself waiting with the same anticipation I had for every third bar of “Good Damn Man” for the next time Dilla’s verse comes around.

Frank Dank Dilla, chasin’ paper, blazin up in this bitch to raise up the stakes a little

bit and shut.  shit.  down.

And so forth.  It’s a shame that the musicality of these examples is probably completely ignored by most of the people that would appreciate it just because of the content of the lyrics.  I won’t go into another tirade about policing “explicit” language in our music or the stereotypes put on black musicians in our culture, but I do feel like there are a lot of people who would sit in awe of a guitar solo or orchestra performance that wouldn’t give a moment’s time to hearing these MJG or Jaylib songs with any kind of respect or appreciation.

This song brings up another point with respect to J Dilla and how he is perceived today that I’d like to touch on for just a moment.  A lot of what I love about this song is what I love about J Dilla in general, and I think it’s something about him that gets glossed over a lot.  Dilla’s legacy, like so many hip hop artists of his time, rarely exists outside the shadow cast by his untimely death.  In our culture, when people die, especially when people die young, there’s this feeling that is pumped through us that persuades us to imagine this lost person in a kind of slow motion montage with clouds floating by and rays of light shining around them with wind sounds and distant harps strumming in the background.  It’s an understandable feeling, we feel the loss of a valuable person, the fear of our own mortality, and possibly the feeling that maybe we didn’t value these people enough when they were around, and as a result this reverence culture forms around their legacy and those bright, sunshiny moments of their life and career become amplified while the less innocent traits they have are downplayed.  I’m not trying to say anyone is dumb for feeling this way and doing this, and in many ways I do the same thing with people like Dilla, and he has a lot of sweet, heartfelt, honest music that really tugs on your heart, especially when you know he made it in his hospital bed while dying of Lupus.

But to only remember these moments of his career would be doing him a disservice because one of the greatest things about him was his ability to balance the light and the dark sides of the world in his music.  He wasn’t a new age artist, he was a rap artist, and in the midst of all the “J Dilla Changed My Life” (and he did) prostrating we forget that he rapped about jewelry, money, drugs, cars, promiscuity, violence, and everything else that the textbook J Dilla fan would say is “wrong with hip-hop today”.  I’m glad people appreciate Dilla’s legacy and are making his music more well known, but I wish we had a more balanced view of it.  We shouldn’t forget those times when he shot videos in strip clubs, or spit lines like “It’s plain to see you can’t change me cuz I’mma be this nigga wit ice”.  He wasn’t an angel, and just because he’s dead now doesn’t mean we have to see him as one now.  He wasn’t amazing because he abstained from talking about anything negative or taboo, he was amazing because he could talk about those things with the kind of honesty and virtuosity that makes any speaker of words compelling.

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NEVER TAKIN’ NO FOR AN ANSWER

Rap producers constantly amaze me with how much they can do with so little.  I remember in music school, professors always professed that “economy of materials” was one of the most admirable traits of a good composition.  In western classical music, it’s important to constantly develop and vary these basic materials, but the core of the idea is starting with something very minute and creating a constantly interesting piece of music from those ultra-simple materials.  Hip-hop producers aren’t generally interested in development in the classical sense, but they definitely share a respect for starting out with an extremely limited set of materials and creating a constantly engaging, interesting composition with it.  Those professors mentioned above would probably look down on music that didn’t vary and develop those ideas in the course of the composition, but to me, finding a tiny piece of musical material that you can just loop over and over again and it still is interesting four minutes in — that’s just as impressive in my mind.

Here’s what got me thinkin’ about this idea, I heard this song today and it reminded me of a couple other songs that I love that use the same kind of single-guitar-note-repeated-constantly technique to great effect.

The Alchemist – Flight Confirmation (feat. Danny Brown & Schoolboy Q)

Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Thuggin’

Jaylib – The Red

There’s such an unshakable determination in beats like these, that single unrelenting note just drills into your very being, getting deeper and deeper in your brain the more you listen.  There’s a trance-like quality to tunes like these, and I’m constantly amazed that these dudes can make such an absurdly simple musical figure so captivating for a full song.  Let me know of any other songs with the same shit goin’ on, I love these kinda beats.

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MY HAPPINESS IS HEART-SHAPED

If there’s one record label I’ve followed more consistently and for a sustained period of time since getting into rap, it’s Stones Throw.  I first got into their stuff because of the Madvillainy album, that was one of the first rap albums that really spoke to me, and I’ve religiously checked in and followed every move they’ve made since.  One cool thing about them is that even though they’re a devoutly un-commercial label that I’m sure has had some tough times financially, they still do cool extra stuff like make videos for their artists when they make new music.  And not just recently, when 50 homemade videos for new rap songs pop up on the internet every day, they’ve got Jaylib and Lootpack videos from the late 90s/early 2000s too.

Stones Throw has also changed a lot over the years, and they’re way more than just a hip-hop label now.  This is clearly demonstrated by their two newest videos, both of which have come out in the past week.

Tony Cook – What’s On Your Mind? (feat. DâM-FunK)

Aloe Blacc – You Make Me Smile

You can tell these videos have some budgets behind them, which I think really shows how much Stones Throw really cares about and supports their artists.  But they’re not too pretentious and uptight to let some obviously homemade shit represent their music either.  Just check out their video contest from last year, where, to celebrate their 15th anniversary as a label, they asked for fan-made videos for any Stones Throw release with a chance to win $1000 and an opportunity to direct an official Stones Throw artist’s video in the future.  How cool is that??  And I have to say, some of the submissions were pretty sweet.  Keep it up, Wolf, you’re still killin’ it after all these years.

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ONE FOR ALL MY DAMIES

The other day a bunch of us put together a pretty excellent outdoor screening of Pootie Tang, and it reminded me of a couple songs I’ve come across that feature some pretty funny Pootie Tang references.  Even if you haven’t seen Pootie Tang though, these tracks are still really cool and worth checkin’ out on their own, so don’t just skip over this.  They’re still relevant to you too.

The first one I totally owe to Andrew, even though I’ve heard this song probably a thousand times, I never noticed that there’s a really blatant Pootie Tang shout out during the intro until he pointed it out to me one day.  Thanks for it:

Jaylib – Official

The other one caught me pretty off guard too, just because it comes during a verse by The Game who I don’t expect to reference some goof ass shit like “wah-da-tay my damie” in his serious-pimpin’-on-hoes flow normally, but he totally does on this one:

Gucci Mane – I Might Be (feat. The Game & Shawnna)

It’s also funny that Gucci Mane, The Game, and Pootie Tang all sorta rhyme.  Too bad they didn’t work that into the song.  Maybe next time.  Shouts out to all the Pootie Tang fans out there, let me know if there are some more songs I need to know about in this vein.

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