What’s up, y’all?
So a lot has happened in the past couple of weeks. Me and my man Nylles dropped the first part of our Neptunes Project, I recently started looking up my genealogy, and apparently, the Mayans were wrong. So now we all have to plan for 2013 (or 2015, if you’re into prior planning and all.) This also means I have to start doing my countdown posts.
For the past couple of years, I’ve always managed to do a “Wrap Up” post; something that talks about the year that was and how it has changed me personally, spiritually, and professionally. I normally do it on New Year’s Eve, so you have that to look forward to. This will be the first year the “Wrap Up” will be on my own personal site, so I’m pretty excited about that. I’ve also decided to do a top 10 moments list. Songs, moments, reflections, all of that. Just the things that I thought was influential and made a mark in 2012. So let’s start the show.
NUMBER 10: $2Million Deal? Don’t Balee Me, Jus Watch.
Trinidad James. If you’ve been anywhere near a rap or music blog within the past 3 months, you’ve seen this guy, complete with gold teeth and accessories, cheetah print shirts, and a complimentary puppy. But with all of those things and a song that basically consists of a hook and one verse consisting of high potency marijuana, lavish spending, and recreational drug use and the perspiration that follows, Nicholas Williams has parlayed his “talents” into a $2 Million deal with Def Jam Records. Whether or not he will fall into the catacombs of the “Trendy Rappers” joining prisoners such as Cash Out, Mims, and J-Kwon, we will not know. But at least we’ll have love for “those bad hoes at Onyx.”
NUMBER 9: You Really Got This Work
When I was coming up in high school in the 2000’s, you’d often hear rap battles going on outside of your local high school, barbershop, or bus terminal. Back then, rap DVD’s were the thing, and you were one step closer to being the next out if you landed on a “Headshot Records” video mix tape. The same was said all over, and specifically New York City, as the “SMACK” dvds ruled the land. Now I kinda fell off the whole rap battle circuit and I was pretty surprised it had kept such a faithful following over the years with the URL Rap Battle league and other battle leagues the country over. I kept hearing about this ONE battle, that I had to watch it. In August, the URL battle league had their “Summer Madness” event pitting some of the top battle rappers against each other. But it was Harlem’s own Loaded Lux who stole the show. Going up against Detroit player Calicoe, Lux might have gave THEE WORST lyrical thrashing in that third round I’ve ever heard in all of my life. Quotables fell from the sky, GIFs and MEMEs found their way all over social networks and you quickly found yourself saying the tag line, “You gonn get this work!”, in every day basketball games and UNO contests. Salute to you, Lux, for the work was given and Harlem was once again in the middle of the Hip Hop world.
*And if you DIDN’T see the battle, here you go. Might as well start it at 34:20.
Number 8: The House Of Hit
In today’s musical climate, gone are the days where the artists get all of the shine while everyone else play the shadows. DJs, engineers, managers, and most notably producers have managed to use their achievements and position themselves to be power players in the music game. We had the Kanye Wests, the Swizz Beats, and the Timbalands; producers who toed the line and played on the artist’s side of the ball. And with anything, change is immanent in music, as the newcomers are quickly coming to take their rightful place among hip hop’s elite. One particular topic of discussion that falls into this category is Inland Empire representative Hit Boy. First coming onto the scene working with Polow Da Don and producing “Drop The World” for Lil’ Wayne, it wasn’t until he linked up with his idol and now mentor Yeezy that HB started to flourish. Landing Ye’s “Christmas In Harlem”, Chauncey Hollis found himself producing what has a claim to the song of the year in “N*ggas In Paris” for Jay-Z and Kanye’s “Watch The Throne” album. The hits just kept coming, no pun intended. Creating “Goldie” for A$AP Rocky, and “Clique” for Big Sean on the “Cruel Summer” project, Hit Boy then decided to step from behind the boards to try his luck at rapping. Now I’ll be the first one to say that he needs a little work on that side. A lot of what HB says has been said before (but what hasn’t, nowadays?). But I will give him credit for solidifying a sound in music today that isn’t monotonous and repetitive.
NUMBER 7: The Love of the “Struggle Falsetto”
So don’t get me wrong, I am a Future fan. I really am. But I have to say that the painful Chinese Water torture that is his singing ability has to go. Now like I said, I like Future. “At The Same Damn Time” had us taking multitasking to the most authentic of levels. I can say he’s shined hard on some of the songs he’s done this year (See: “Yayo”, “Pain”, “Itchin” and “Way Too Gone”). But I can say that “Turn On The Lights” might be one of the most agonizing yet amazing songs to come out this past year. Son. I remember hearing that song for the first time (Big ups to DJ AYE Boogie), and I literally cried from laughter. Then I actually listened to the song and I thought, “I REALLY am looking for her.”(It helped that I had a couple cups of Hennessy in my system.) So I don’t know what the new year will bring for “Young Feet Are Bloody From My Louboutins”, but the “Struggle Falsetto” can stay as long as he doesn’t do anything like he did with Rihanna. That was pure Hell, man.
NUMBER 6: Tupac REALLY Was At Coachella
So at the time, I didn’t really realize the significance of this moment of 2012. I remember just reading this on the blogs, “Tupac this…”, “Snoop Dogg (or Lion or Giraffe or Nemo or whatever dude is nowadays) that…” and something about a hologram. But then I started to think about when I kept seeing it everywhere. Tupac was without a doubt one of the most famous and influential figures of hip hop in our time, and his and Biggie’s death was a wake up call for everyone to see how far from the music we had strayed. And when I heard that the organizers of the famous Coachella concert figured out a way to bring a hologram image of Tupac to perform with Snoop and Dr.Dre. Now in watching the performance, it’s kinda dope to see Pac hit the stage again, if you count that as hitting the stage. But what I DIDN’T like about this was the potential collaborations that were set to come. People were talking about bringing Michael Jackson back. Too soon. Who’s next? Selena is gonna kick it on stage with Shakira? Marilyn Monroe and James Dean in commercials? The beauty of life is that one day it must come to an end, and I’m not for seeing people’s legacies tarnished by struggle-riddled advertisements. My opinion: bring Mike, Whitney Houston and Lil Saint back in about 15 years at the Grammies. Oh, and let me host it. It will be complete FIRE.
NUMBER 5: “Pop That” and The Grammy That Will Never Happen
So I first heard “Pop That” when I was on my lunch break at work. I saw it on a blog and I played it, which was an instant mistake from the first 20 seconds of the song and it just so happened that my manager walked in the room at the same damn time. But I didn’t realize the influence that this audio masterpiece had until I heard (and saw) it played at a party. I was at a cookout in New York, Brooklyn if I’m not mistaken supporting my man Trey, when they played the song. And I’ll stand by this until the end of days, I’ve NEVER seen a event go from 0 to 21314324234 faster when one song came on. I stand by the claim that “Pop That” was THE song of the summer (Beating out “Bandz A Make Her Dance” and “Mula” by a slim margin.), and I truly feel as though the song should win a Grammy based on influence alone. I also stand by the claim that the reason the song will not win that Grammy is solely Lil’ Wayne’s fault. No one, not Mack Maine, not Birdman, not even Gudda Gudda’s in all of his water and Xanex-carrying duties could have thought that his verse was hot. The mere fact he started his verse with “Biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiitch, stop talking that shiiiiiiit” and mentioned that abomination of a clothing line known as Truk-Fit at all in this song completely ruined any chance of my man French taking home the gold. It’s all your fault, Wayne. Take your diamond-encrusted Beats, your teddy bear shorts and your skateboard and drop in “The HalfPipe Of Doom.”
*PS: I’m still waiting for that remix with 2 Chainz to save the day.*
*PPS: Go to New York and fool with my peoples from BarrelhouseBklyn and play this song. This is what happens.*
Number 4: Frank Ocean and That Fateful Taxi Ride
I’ll start this by saying that after further review, “Channel Orange” might be the most overrated album that dropped this year, and that isn’t because of the lack of quality in music. I think it was great musically. I also think that the huge pink elephant in the room that came with the album interfered with people just listening to the music. There was a big fuss made during Frank’s European promo tour for the album after several journalists cited hearing homosexual lyrics in some of the songs, most notably “Bad Religion” (which is my favorite on the album) and “Forrest Gump.” This lead to Frank releasing his thank you credits for the album via Tumblr, where he does refer to a man as being his first love. I’ll openly admit that it shocked the living hell out of me. This is the same dude who made all those jiggy songs I sang to my girlfriend on “Nostalgia/Ultra” just one summer before. This couldn’t be. But then I just listened to the music. And I had to decide if what he does in his personal life would affect whether or not I liked his music. I looked at it like this: music is music. And if I think “We All Try” is one of the best songs of the last decade, then that will be the same whether or not he likes what I like. At the end of the day, I don’t care and neither should you. Dude is legitimately talented, and if coming out helps relieve his mind and increases the jiggyness of his music, I’m not mad at all. Happiness knows no filter, and we should do whatever we can to find it.
NUMBER 3: “Adorn” Was NOT That Hot
Now if you have issue with this next post, I will let you know that I do not care. I have my opinion on this, and that’s why you’re on CoryTownes.com. If you decide to not visit this site anymore, I feel for you. But I will be one to say that “Adorn” by Miguel WAS THE MOST OVERRATED SONG OF THE YEAR. Maybe it was overplayed, I don’t know. The song itself isn’t bad, but people were talking about this joint like Stevie Wonder did a collaboration with Michael Jackson, Jesus, and Will Ferrell. When I finally heard the song, it was as big of a let down as me realizing how big of a wash Nnamdi Asomugha has been for the Eagles. The visuals of the song are good, but this is a clear case of “Who was gassin it, fcuk outta here!”
Number 2: Chief Keef And The Rest Of The Cabbage Patch Chain Gang
I’m at a point in life where I’m old enough to know better, but young enough to remember how it used to be. I remember being a teenager and heading down to the mall on half days. I remember mobbing out with my friends on the bus on the last day of school. We were kids who wanted to learn more of the outside world, but we didn’t cause any problems. Chief Keef is the exact opposite of that. First off, Chicago in 2012 is more of a dangerous place to live than Compton in 1994. As sad as it is, people are dying left and right, and it’s actually the youth who are spearheading this. I give Chief Keef his own place in hip hop; all he’s doing his talking about what he knows, and that’s holding the burner, molly water, and things that he just doesn’t like. In a sense, Chief Keef, Lil Reese and the rest of the GBE are representing what hip hop was created for: using music as an outlet to express themselves and their thoughts on society. Whether or not we listen to them is the main issue/problem. Three of my favorite songs of the year was “Love Sosa”, “I ‘Ont Like” and “Us” by Lil Reese. They have a producer in Young Chop who is the Lex Luger of 2012, everyone wants his style. I really hope it doesn’t get run into the ground by any and every torture-laden artist who wants that next hit. Do I think Chief Keef is ignorant? HELL YES. But do I think Keef and the crew have a place at the table? Hell yeah. GBE. Bang Bang. Skeee.
The Number 1 Topic Of 2012: The High Power
In 2011, I had the chance to interview a young rapper who was on the XXL Freshmen list in his first ever show in Philly. I never thought that meeting and that interview would be the first time I’d hear my now favorite rapper. Kendrick Lamar didn’t open the door, he didn’t kick it down, he let off on it with a lyrical chopper with a hundred round drum. First off, he gave us one of the best “mix tapes” ever with “Section 80″, setting the precedent of ripping any rapper on their own song, and leaving us waiting for his first ever official album. “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City” was announced and everyone wondered if he would go “industry”. Looking at the tracklisting, the features he had on it, and producer credits, all we thought was he could only go up from here. But what we didn’t expect was an album to leak that was SO good that it lead to people still buying it, taking it to Number 1 on the Billboard charts and having it certified Gold (500,000 records sold.) But when you look at what Kendrick gave us, “Cartoons And Cereal” with one of the best verses of the year from Gunplay, “Swimming Pools”, and just the overall change of the cultural dynamic of the music industry. Everyone knew who Kendrick Lamar was by the end of the year. And he also brought with him the Black Hippy dynamic with ScHoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, and Jay Rock. Four emcees who have the potential to run hip hop for some time to come. So congrats to Kendrick Lamar, you had the best 2012 of anyone.
If you agree or disagree with anything written here, please leave your thoughts in the comments section. And above all else, I want to thank you for taking the time and reading this. I aspire to bring more to you in 2013, and I’ll see you at the Wrap Up 2012.