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Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™: November, 2010

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Trump Tower (left), Chicago (photo credit: Seth Kammueller)
 
When typing this month's Fav. 5, I realized one New Year's Resolution I can etch in stone with 2011 just a couple of weeks away: finish this monthly column by the first week of the next month for a change! I know I have subjected you loyal Gowhereians to these recaps a few weeks overdue, with the only exception being March's when I really wanted to make a funny April Fool's joke, ha! As you can assume from my consistent tardiness, I am a firm believer of the 'better late than never' logic and I definitely wanted to deliver these 5 picks from November: all of which are sure-fire songs that I will play for years to come. You read that correctly: years. These songs contain the superb lyrical or production value (and sometimes both) that is necessary for a song to be played and felt long after its original release. November proved to be one of the strongest and versatile months of new release singles this year and one more month of songs that I couldn't let get away without throwing some extra shine on 'em. Per usual, you can also click through a flurry of November's best posts, some of which may seem quite old by today's standards. Hey! I also just described Brett Favre. On that note, enjoy!

5.
2pak "Autumn"
Producer: pak.one - FULL, CDQ, Track off the mixtape, Mixtape For A Mixtape *TIBS FAV.™
 
The first spot in the November countdown goes to the upcoming Chicago duo 2pak. No doubt you are first drawn to them by their name - obviously a play off of the fallen west coast legend, and less obviously a play off their own names (2 guys with the last name 'Pak'). But once you get over whatever feeling you have about their name and check out their music, you'll see that A) they're not trying to be 2Pac and B) they're pretty dope. j.pak and pak.one's honest raps combined with an old-school sound, filled with samples of hilarious television shows, are all illustrated on the group's debut mixtape - the GWHH-sponsored Mixtape For A Mixtape. My personal favorite of the tape is "Autumn", which is the personification of the above description in addition to a personification of the season itself. "Autumn" begins with the raspy voice of Marge Simpson, who undergoes an entertaining exchange with daughter Lisa about foliage - an autumn staple. The mood of the song becomes a mix of happiness and laid-back relaxation in large part due to the raw feel of the production from pak.one, reminding me of something that Common would flow over circa early 2000s. The three verses cover a range of topics from autumn itself, to a tale of meeting a lady interest who is only in town for the season, and finally a personal story of finishing up college. I really appreciate the perspectives and the relatability that 2pak present on those latter two verses, which goes to prove the honesty I spoke of in their lyrics. "Autumn" is one in an ongoing series of tracks that capture the yearly seasons, as in between the end of November and now, 2pak kept things moving with... you guessed it... "Winter"). Definitely check out both seasonal records and be on the lookout for the next mixtape, Fountain Of Youth, coming soon.

4.
BUY: Chrisette Michele "Let Freedom Reign" f/ Talib Kweli & Black Thought
Producer: Chuck Harmony - FULL, CDQ, Track off the album, Let Freedom Reign *TIBS FAV.™

The word 'epic' is about to be overused when describing the rest of the songs on the countdown, but it is truly the right word to describe the amazing vocals of Chrisette Michele on the chorus of "Let Freedom Reign". I immediately think of this song fitting perfectly in a movie like Hotel Rwanda, starring the man who is about to bring Miles Davis to the big screen, or oddly enough, Jarhead, which has a few struggling scenes in the desert that I vaguely recall. Whatever the case, Michele's movie-inspiring singing is just one of many superb elements that has led to an absurd amount of plays of "Let Freedom Reign" since its release late last month. Everyone did their thing, including guest rappers Talib Kweli & Black Thought, and Michele herself for another reason beyond her singing: rapping. She establishes the lyrical depth of the song with her first verse as she begins by saying, 

"Keep us in the four walls of our churches will be quiet. 
Most of us aint even democratic or Republic, 
-Can, and by coincidence we love the elected until the detected of being human..."
- Chrisette Michele

The gems continue. I'll let Kweli and Black Thought:

"You stressed out and scared so it's causing you to act hard, 
Freedom ain't free, gotta put it on my black card, 
My passport claim I'm an American citizen, 
The constitution said I'm three fifths, I'm not a simian gorilla..."
- Talib Kweli

"It's journey dollar signs, black and white collar crimes,
Running out of time, out of sight, out of mind,
It gets realer and it's real in Palestine,
Troubles of the world start to seem intertwined:  
War criminals, conflict minerals, pillagers are coming home, five star generals..
Telling lies in press conferences and interviews, I'm trying to take back the power cause it's been abused!"
- Black Thought

Each of those snippets are my favorite parts of their verses, with Black Thought's conclusion powerfully driving it home like a Blake Griffin slam dunk (<---- hit that link for an equally entertaining monthly recap, ha!). Flat out though, "Let Freedom Reign" is the type of song that I always welcome and continually search for. Three artists speaking out against troubling issues in the world and making an impactful, inspiring, and timeless record that a lot of people should hear.

(What tops this? Find out what numbers 3, 2, and 1 of November are after the jump..!)

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Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™: October, 2010

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'Before Winter' in Chicago (photo credit: Seth Kammueller)
 
Recently, I tweeted this riddle: "What are the four seasons in Chicago?". The answer? Before winter, winter, after winter, and construction. Naturally, I was inspired by the above photo of autumn before winter in Chicago as we are at the tail end of that season while a new one is upon us. There is the obvious one that I do not want to think of and the one that I do want to think of - one that doesn't have to do with the weather. On Monday, we enter the holiday album season, when a furious amount of new albums by big name artists will officially kick things off. Of course, you got Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, joined by Nicki Minaj's debut, Lloyd Banks, Curren$y, Ne-Yo, Jay-Z's Greatest Hits, and even more. How's that for week one? Per usual this holiday season, there will be something to fill the stockings with, but this space below isn't dedicated to an album preview. It is instead that time of the month where I rehash my favorite 5 tracks of the previous month as we near the closing of the actual month after! I know, I know. But just know that this month's Fav. 5 would have come sooner had it not been for a 75% completed draft 1 getting lost in a rare crash of my internet that I expected as much as I did the Bears at 7-3 right now. Regardless, let's check out the tracks of October that were just straight stupid. And not 'I'm gonna cheat on Eva Longoria with my teammate's wife' stupid, but how Stuart Scott uses the word stupid in that own language of his.


5.
Consequence "Alphabet Boys"
Producer: Kanye West - FULL, CDQ, Track off the upcoming mixtape, Movies On Demand 2 *TIBS FAV.™
 
Consequence kicks things off with a song that he first performed in Chicago over a year ago. That's right, we first got the preview of the Kanye West-produced jam in September of '09 and Consequence decided to keep this gem for the Movies On Demand 2 mixtape coming soon. "Alphabet Boys" finally saw its release in full and it is one of the best demonstrations of creative lyrics in 2010. We were only treated to the first verse in the preview, which I transcribed at the time, but now the second verse contains even more wordplay, or should I say punctuationplay. OK, I probably shouldn't. But the second verse contains witty double meanings involving the various forms of punctuation in the English language. Here is my favorite example:

"I'ma f*** around and put the semi to his colon,
Somebody shoulda told him that life is too serious,
Especially when your wife just said she missed her period,
That'll have you so furious, you go for the waist,
You bust all caps and hope for a lowercase.
But make no mistakes when your numbers come with commas,
Fam, that means your summers come with drama,
And you only spell check to know that that spells 'check',
And it wouldn't be proper English, if I don't say 'hell yes'..."

So, hopefully this song goes to show you that Consequence is indeed one of the most slept on lyricists in the game. I look forward to hearing how he continues to push the bar for himself on Movies On Demand 2, which can't be too far out around the corner given the steady stream of records we have seen released from him thus far.

4.
Nique "So Many Girls" f/ Mr. Music
Producer: Trixx - FULL, CDQ, Track off the mixtape, X.XIII *TIBS FAV.™

Nique & Mr. Music are responsible for the one song that inspired the most repeats in the first half of October as their mainstream single "So Many Girls" takes the fourth spot in the countdown. Vegas meets Chicago on a song that the masses should surely enjoy. The upbeat production and smooth singing from Mr. Music are likely the two components that resonate first, but once Nique comes through with some slick rhymes of his own do you realize this song has more than a catchy beat and hook to it. In fact, it is Nique's quick-witted and quick-paced raps that gave the song longevity in my rotation. He possesses the needed confidence and delivery for a song like this and it is best exhibited in the way he asks questions in the the verses. He incorporates them seamlessly in the first verse and more noticeably in an entertaining dialogue with a lady in the third verse. The precursor to that dialogue, "So i'm a rapper, do I got to play the image like? Call the girls hoes and that's what all the women like", showcases Nique challenging the status quo. The rest of the song is not as serious, but the rest of the X.XIII mixtape that's out now, contains a variety of thought-provoking lyrics and themes that the above line only gives you a taste of. Start with "So Many Girls" above though and you'll likely become a fan of both of the artists on display.
 
3.
Common, Lupe Fiasco, & Jennifer Hudson "We Can Do It Now"
Producer: No I.D. - FULL, CDQ (Click 'Get The Song' on Gatorade Replay above) *TIBS FAV.™
 
Yep, Chicago definitely stood up on this one. Common and Lupe Fiasco collaborate for the first time ever and that's not all. They are joined by Jennifer Hudson's beautiful vocals and another raw hip hop production from No I.D. Now, there is a lot to like about this record starting with of course the verses from Lupe Fiasco and Common as any hip hop fan is nodding their head in agreement to right now. People may get caught up in the debate of 'who got who?' between Lupe and Common on "We Can Do It Now", but this type of song does not really elicit a meaningful debate. The debate should be superseded by the overwhelming positivity of the record and each emcee's raps should simply be dissected and commended. I particularly liked how they started off their verses as Lupe says, "When I get my second chance, I'm gon redeem myself" and Common says, "Rise of the phoenix.. sweat falls. Time has its meaning.. I evolve". The Chicago unity is further driven home in the video that premiered this November (brought back below). The still is just one one of the many beautiful captures of the city itself, while the video also shows the artists working on the track in the studio. So, while my hometown pride definitely leads me towards this song maybe moreso than most, I still appreciate how some of Chicago's big name artists came together and how with the video below and the promotion from Gatorade Replay, that "We Can Do It Now" can be a motivational, culture-changing song that affects everyone, not just people in Chicago. I would love to see more songs with these positive themes and yes, even more collabs from some of Chicago's melting pot of talent - whether superstars or underground. We can do it now.

 
2.
Kanye West "Don't Look Down (The Phoenix Story)" f/ Mos Def, Lupe Fiasco, & Big Sean
FULL, CDQ?, G.O.O.D. Fridays 10.22.10 *TIBS FAV.™

"Don't look down... it's an impossible view...". Perhaps a surprise to some, that's Mos Def crooning the iconic hook of the G.O.O.D. Friday track "Don't Look Down", which still stands as my favorite (non-album) release of the series. Mos Def's unique voice and delivery encapsulates a darker mood that is further carried out by Lupe Fiasco and Kanye West's verses specifically. It is especially interesting analyzing the content of the two's verses while also keeping in mind the inside of the parenthesis in the title, and the much-talked about 'Runaway' film that came out the very same weekend. In fact, I think the two verses and the vibe of the record would have fit the film perfectly (maybe the track wasn't yet done, though), but at the very least could have fit My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as a bonus track. Give a close listen to Lupe's verse and you will see how he paints a picture of the phoenix both literally and metaphorically. Then Kanye's verse, entirely autotuned, talks about what could have been with his lady interest (see how it could have fit toward the end of the film?) and outside of a last line that could have been improved, I really enjoyed his verse as well. Now, I think Big Sean's third verse is what was the show stealer, especially for a casual listener to this record. Sean rips up the record straight right from the start, 

"Ok now baby here we go, we go, no baby me go, you got my heart baby this what it be for,
I give it all, walk as far as my feet go, whatchu mean me go, why can't it be we go?
What happens when people turn to tears? Dreams turn to memories? And weeks turn to years, huh?"

Boi (spelling intended), was that fun to follow, huh? Big Sean gives "Don't Look Down" more of a literal relatable component where I feel a lot of listeners could put themselves in Sean's perspective. His ever-changing flow and passionate delivery was on another level than his usual work and Sean really proved to me and many that he belongs on the same record as Kanye, Lupe, and Mos Def. As a result, "Don't Look Down" comes correct from beginning to end and is a perfect record to just sit back and really listen to. Oh, and it's a perfect record to chill out to on a tall balcony if you're scared of heights. "Don't look down... it's an impossible view", ha!


1.
Producer: Kane Beatz - FULL, CDQ, 1st Single off upcoming album, Lasers
 *TIBS FAV.™

I already dissected "The Show Goes On" like a frog in a high school biology class in the post of its release. Instead of rehashing some of those same points, I would like to emphasize how influential this type of single is, especially as it is pushed as the first single that you normally wouldn't expect from any big name artist, like that Lupe Fiasco has become. Rarely do you see artists use their 1st single as a means for relaying a truly real, influential, and uplifting message. It is first of all refreshing to see a first single display some deep lyricism like that of  Eminem with "Not Afraid" and Kanye West with "Power" earlier this year. On "The Show Goes On", I feel Lupe Fiasco sets up the meal with an appetizer of a first verse (think high quality sushi appetizer, not cheap mini hot dogs). After outlining the rise above some personal experiences, Lupe brings the song's focus on the ghetto youth in the second verse, praising teachers for telling them that the ghetto is holding 'em back and concluding his verse by telling parents that he hopes "your son don't have a gun and never be a d-boy!". Lupe doesn't preach, rather portrays some of those harsh realities that he constantly sees in his hometown of Chicago and beyond. This message is made further memorable with the interactive call for fingers in the air, and is one of the key elements of "The Show Goes On" that appeals to the casual listener who may not really listen to Lupe Fiasco already. And that's where I am getting at. "The Show Goes On" has many mainstream appealing characteristics, like the Modest Mouse sample or the sing-along chorus for more examples. This will help catapult the record to a place where previously unaware listeners will become aware. First, more people will become aware of the message that Lupe rhymes, and then hopefully become more aware of Lupe Fiasco the artist, where they will find even deeper themes that longtime fans still marvel at today.

I really respect Lupe for taking the step forward he did with this first single off Lasers, and combined with the aforementioned first singles of Eminem and Kanye West, maybe this proves to all rappers that you do not have to follow a formula and have a catchy first single in the clubs before dropping something with more substance. You can do that right off the bat, as the mainstream success of all three of these singles proves (TSGO had a strong debut at #57, which doesn't include all of the purchases in late October). So, as you can tell, Lupe Fiasco comes through with an another instant classic that you can chalk up to his catalogue and I have a feeling that this is just a mere taste of what is to come on Lasers on March 8, 2011.
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Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™: September, 2010

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Marina City (far right) (photo credit: Seth Kammueller)
 
Alas, the Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™ of September. There was a lot to choose from in September - a month that I would characterize as an average month in hip hop and a superb month in R&B. The extra time between the end of the month and now helped filter out some of my choices in the monthly recap below. At the end of the day, I have been riding with these songs the most and still today (with no signs of slowing down). I love the variety in this month's picks that contain different genres, different crossovers, 3 from albums, 2 from mixtapes, a superstar artist here, a rising R&B star there, and even a virtual unknown that you should get to know. So without further adieu, download below (and get that checkbook digital account ready) and check out the rundown of exciting posts and features at GWHH from the great month of September. (P.S. Doesn't Seth keep killin' it with these photos? I have been plotting my move to Marina City for ages now.)
 

5.
BUY: Jeremih "X's & O's"
Producer: Mick Schultz - FULL, CDQ, Track off the album, All About You *TIBS FAV.™
 
Jeremih made his next big move in the month of September by dropping his sophomore album, All About You. And after a couple of singles that didn't resonate with me quite so much ("iLike" f/ Ludacris & "Down On Me" f/ 50 Cent), I was understandably skeptical that the R&B singer was digressing away from his bread and butter and that All About You would be filled with songs more geared for top 40 stations. Thankfully, those worries were squashed upon one listen (and many more since) of the new album, which as a whole, is better than his first self-titled effort, and contains more relatable emotion and some more traditional, yet contemporary R&B records. "X's & O's" has proven to be my favorite - a mix of freshness across the board, from the vocals, to the concept, and of course through the production. Jeremih breaks it down to the target of his infatuation - no B.S., I'm yours, and I'ma treat you well. The distinct 'give it up!', 'for your love', endings on the hook pre-chorus are infectious right off the bat, which oh yes, is fun to randomly belt out in the car or in casual conversation. Vocally, "X's & O's" isn't the best representation of Jeremih's natural talent and range (see: "Holding On") as the autotune on "X's & O's" helps enhance the singing of the title and is executed with a balance to make even those who hate autotune not really mind it. It works well with the heavy synths and quick piano background that define this Mick Schultz production, who by the way produced the entire album. I was surprised given all of the diverse compositions, which is a testament to Schultz' versatility. 

I am not gonna lie: "X's & O's" has been a GWHH anthem (for Maks G & I) since its release at the end of September, becoming an unexpected source of motivation on top of its main aim for the ladies. Here's hoping that it gets that good music video treatment and is pushed as the next single - one that we definitely see being successful. And it's gotta incorporate Cheerio's somehow as the 'O's', right? Anyway, make sure to cop that All About You, a dope listen from track #1 through the end and one album that we already see people sleeping on. Don't.
 
4.
Nique "Boom Bap"
Producer: Superslikuzi - FULL, CDQ, Track off the mixtape, X.XIII *TIBS FAV.™

Nique is the latest up and comer we have been touting heavily on GWHH lately (perhaps you haven't noticed?) and the Vegas emcee gives us good reason with the release of his first single off the now-released X.XIII mixtape, "Boom Bap". In fact, Nique holds it down for an otherwise average month of hip hop with the only true hip hop cut of September's recap. It is hard pressed to find a hip hop fan who doesn't come away with some positive feeling after a listen to "Boom Bap". Obviously, lovers of the title's subject will appreciate Nique's effort to bring "a lil' bit a boom bap, boom bap, with a little bit a..." in the hook but also with a trio of break-neck verses that contain one clear and clever line after another. I'll just cut to the chase and drop the most impressive NBA-related bars that I have heard in a good minute:

"Call me prince like I'm Tayshaun,
Uhh, come and get it I'ma rage on (Rajon),
Get it right, never wrong though (Rondo), never rage on! (Rajon)"

Even though he dropped a reference to Chicago's most hated player Rajon Rondo, Nique still earns the gold star for the dope double meaning that is flawlessly delivered on the record. (Maybe we can get a dope Derrick Rose double meaning next? I still haven't heard an absolutely dope one). Anyway, don't get it twisted and think that "Boom Bap"'s most impressive bars is the NBA one above as every verse contains sets that seriously have you lookin' to rewind (a tall task to inspire such for me). And making things even better? How about the fact that "Boom Bap" isn't even my favorite track off the new X.XIII mixtape that we premiered last week? Simply put, Nique kills it with that good mix of witty references and thought-provoking lyrics about a multitude of topics on X.XIII, so thou shalt not sleep any longer. Here's the link one more time; do yourself a favor and get acclimated.
 
3.
Mickey Factz "Again"
Producer: Steven Linde & Andrew Bolooki - FULL, CDQ, NO DJ, Track off the mixtape, I'm Better Than You *TIBS FAV.™
 
Flat out, Mickey Factz is one of the best rappers at expressing true, heartfelt emotion. At the end of the day, it is a big factor in becoming a fan of an artist, and Factz has proved countless times again and again (no pun intended) that he can pour out and deliver personal experiences that make the listener care. As one can assume, "Again", off Mickey's newly released mixtape I'm Better Than You, is one of the best representations of pouring out personal experiences. He just lets it all hang out in a slow-paced, positively erratic delivery across three verses that connect a brilliant, relatable chorus. Factz takes us on a melancholy journey through the many thoughts and experiences with an ex-flame, starting  with the frustration of being patient on his lady's decision when there are other options available. Mickey then outlines the universally felt tossing and turning in bed (and the maybe not as universal thought of jumping off the Empire State), but the second verse is all about the doubt and wonder that naturally comes when reflecting on a relationship. Finally, the third verse masterfully concludes the story as Factz declares the hiatus was a blessing in disguise and he has found peace with moving on to what turns out to be a better situation. He closes out the last verse with a dope showcase of irony before one last chorus takes us home. The song's concept is more universally exemplified through the words of the chorus, sung wonderfully by an uncredited male singer. The chorus expresses much of the same doubt and emotion that Factz displays and its last line is a powerful and scary thought that always runs through my head: "Feels like I'm never going to see you aaagain...". Throw in a darker production that captures the above mood perfectly and "Again" becomes a timeless song that I'ma be coming back to for months, nay, years. There is something a little extra special when you can relate to the song's emotion and there is a solid chance you do too. As you know, make sure you download "Again" above and hit that I'm Better Than You mixtape for more goodness, guaranteed. 

2.
BUY: Trey Songz "Blind"
Producer: Bei Maejor - FULL, CDQ, Track off the album, Passion, Pain, & Pleasure *TIBS FAV.™

I definitely want to pay homage to the rising R&B superstar, and one of my favorite artists since the beginning of his career, Trey Songz - fresh off the release off his new album, Passion, Pain, & Pleasure. Trey's strong follow-up to Ready is still a consistent listen of mine, especially the latter half of the album (from track 11 onward). The one song that caught my ear from the very first listen was "Blind", which is one of the handful of tracks during that stretch that supports Trey's evolution into a new musical direction that he stated was going down in many interviews leading up to the album. Vocally, this is one of Trey's strongest songs on the album as heard from the very first bars that reel in the listener like no other song does on PPP. Songz' ..umm.. songs typically resonate strongly with me when he combines his gifted vocals with unique songwriting; this describes "Blind", one of his most enigmatic written songs to date. Perhaps most glaringly, the song's allusions to cocaine in the second verse drive home the powerful images that "Blind" conveys in the verses, as Trey croons from a third-person perspective. It is actually a quick mention that you may miss on the first listen. The chorus - somewhat simple, addicting, and yes, well-delivered - is one of the many highlights of the record and one that, when isolated out of context, has a more universal appeal that will stick to casual listeners of the track. C'mon fellas, we all know someone who is blinded by the never-before experienced beauty of his lady, right?

Now, the common denominator between "Blind" and my favorite track of Trey's last album, Ready, "Black Roses" (which I was writing about in this very column this time last year) is that both songs were produced by Bei Maejor. Like in "Black Roses", Bei Maejor comes correct with a fresh R&B production that is elevated due to the perfect execution of the track's little nuances. The extended guitar chords in the verses, the drums on the hook, the bass line - they are all masterful. There is a classy vibe that the guitar and production, as a whole, emits. It makes the song an unusual one to casually dance to across a slick wood floor. OK, maybe that's just me. But at the end of the day, this is another hit for chicka uhh, Songz, and I hope he delivers on a music video for "Blind" after the more obvious choice of "Unusual" featuring Drake. Preview/purchase the track above, and like Jeremih above, I suggest you get the whole album if you haven't already. (Damn, has September been the best month for R&B in 2010 or what? I see you too, John Legend). 

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1.
Producer: Kanye West - FULL, CDQ, Track off the upcoming album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
 *TIBS FAV.™

"Runaway". Clearly one of the most talked about records in the past 6 weeks. Also the latest in a long line of genius hits from Kanye West. Kanye does something with "Runaway" that artists either don't do or are afraid to even try to do: a self-analytical breakdown of one's own flaws. Kanye achieves that in some eye-opening verses that explain his shortcomings in relationships, in which he concludes and suggests for the ladies to "runaway 'fast as you can". He breaks down these flaws with more memorable, iconic lines like "you been puttin' up with my sh*t for way too long", "never was much of a romantic, I could never take the intimacy..", and in general, the "let's have a toast for the douchebags..." line that is now a 2010 anthem.

Pusha T is not without his memorable lines in a guest verse that is of perfect fit and contrast within "Runaway". He needed to kill his first few bars to not be overlooked and that's exactly what Pusha did on the recording, which he carried over to the VMA performance/premiere of the song. "I-I-I-I did it, all right, all right, I admit it // Now pick your best move, you could leave or live wit' it". How many of us are going to use that ultimatum in relationships? *raises hand* Pusha's verse gives us the perspective from a celeb in high status towards a relationship, which is always neat to vicariously live through ("Everything's got a price tag, baby face it!"). Finally, I would be remiss not to talk about the amazing production from Kanye West, which I would liken as a sort of 'hip hop symphony'. I get a chilling, epic feeling when I hear the methodical piano, similar to how I felt as a youngster being introduced to classics from Beethoven and Bach. A feeling that I am listening to a musical genius. West's composition on "Runaway" is simply a brilliant mix of piano, synths, bass, and taken a step further in the live performances, which most notably featured the voice samples that Kanye recently tweeted will make the album version. Also in said tweet, the album version will now be 8 minutes long and will likely build upon the cinematic feel of the song already. And speaking of cinematic, how about the film?! It is a safe bet the film will take My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy to a new level (and vice versa), sparking not only a renewed interest in the song, but an even greater appreciation into the creativity and artistry of Kanye West. Anxious is an understatement for November 22nd.
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Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™: August, 2010

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Millennium Park: Summertime Chi (photo credit: Seth Kammueller)
 
It is officially the first day of fall, and while this guy is as disheartened as Barney Stinson that summer is over, ask any of your lady friends (or yourself, ladies) what their favorite season is and tell me if you get any other response besides fall. Seriously, go ahead. Well, whatever the case, we all know that summer didn't really end yesterday. It ended on the 31st of August because, honestly, who considers September summer? The 31st of August also marked the end of eligible music for the long-awaited (probably not) monthly recap of my 5 favorite songs of August. The first few weeks of September have actually given me some time to filter out what songs were contenders or pretenders. In other words, I not only overestimated how long I would be feeling certain songs, but I also underestimated a couple songs that make this month's top 5 - songs that are all still in my day to day rotation. It also warrants mentioning that the month was also highlighted by some quality mixtapes like Wale's More About Nothing that came out in August's first few days to Big Sean's Finally Famous Vol. 3: BIG on the last day of the month, and everything in between. I would be remiss not to mention Chicago mixtapes like Hollywood Holt's These Are The Songs That Didn't Make The Album But Are Still Cold As Hell So Shut The F**k Up! Vol. 1 (I still can't type that with a straight face), Jay Vega's Summertime Chi, and one more that I'll cover in full detail below. If you have been frequenting the site, you can probably guess who I'm talking about. Or maybe not, in which case you are probably scrolling and not bothering to read the end of this sentence. And if that's the case, well, you will be doing a lot of scrolling as you pass four songs and maybe go too far where you will hopefully see this month's 'Best Posts' as well. At this point, I am tired of predicting your guessing and scrolling habits as I am sure you are in reading them, so why don't we all just find out what are the Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™ of August, shall we?
 
5.
Twista "The Heat" f/ Raekwon
Producer: No I.D. & The Legendary Traxster - FULL, CDQ, Track off the upcoming album, The Perfect Storm *TIBS FAV.™
 
"No there's no escaping.. the heat!". Could this sample be any more appropriate for a Twista/Raekwon/No I.D./Traxster collab? The answer is no. Even someone as appropriate as Geoffrey from Fresh Prince would agree. Ok, maybe not, he probably doesn't listen to rap. But seriously, with these four together, we get one deadly hip hop track that shines for its banging, yet complimentary production and Twista's infectious flow and rhymes. While Raekwon shines in his own right, Twista reigns supreme between the two because of his seemingly effortless verses, intelligently and cleverly using words that might inspire you to find your dictionary (or at least open it in a new tab). But he doesn't drop big words just to drop big words? No, Twista's diction gives the listener a precise perspective of what he's trying to say, and that talent is undeniable. For years, the four living legends have been doin' their thing and for them to come together for a successful and positive record from top to bottom, is that will more than satisfy the craving of hip hop fans, period. As one can assume, "The Heat" is easily my early favorite from Twista's upcoming album, The Perfect Storm, coming October 26th.

4.
Lupe Fiasco "Go To Sleep"
Producer: 1500 Or Nothin' - Track off the upcoming album, Food & Liquor II: TGARA *TIBS FAV.™
 
Lupe Fiasco surprised us all in mid-August with the release of not only a new track, but also a new track off an upcoming album NOT named Lasers. Said album is Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album and said track is called "Go To Sleep". Right off the bat, I was vibing with "Go To Sleep". The track's memorable repetition of "go to sleep" and "goodnight, goodnight" is an elevating feeling from the get go, but as is the case sometimes with Fiasco, the depth of the verses takes multiple listens to get into. I actually love that about Lupe's lyrics, but as a result, I was not feelin' "Go To Sleep" the day after its release as much as I am now. Clearly, this is the type of song that marinates over time once the lyrics have been fully digested. Having said that, I am still not sure about everything Lupe Fiasco is talkin' about. He has a way of doing that. All three verses though, contain their memorable lines and moments, particularly the second verse that has the most simplistic interpretation of the three. Combine the unique lyrics with the dark flow and mood of the production with the aforementioned iconic chorus, and all things considered you got another new track from Lupe Fiasco that pushes his personal bar to new heights. Gotta appreciate the growth, but from a career perspective, "Go To Sleep" is outside my top 5, even top 10 Lupe tracks of all time (OF ALL TIME!). Same time though, "Go To Sleep" is still one record that we at Gowhere Hip Hop haven't been able to put down for the last month and a must-download that you'll probably vibe with above.
 
3.
Kid Cudi "Mr. Rager"
Producer: Kanye West - FULL, CDQ, Track off upcoming album, Man On The Moon II: The Legend Of Mr. Rager *TIBS FAV.™

The Fav. 5 continues with its ominous sounds as the Kanye West-produced, Kid Cudi single "Mr. Rager" follows Lupe's "Go To Sleep". Cudi takes us on a trip with the journey of "Mr. Rager", the character/alias that his upcoming album is named after. Cudi's switch between perspectives throughout the song and the hook of "Mr. Rager" is amplified by his signature switch of tones. This was the immediate draw to my ear in addition to the song's epic movie soundtrack feel. Kanye West combines an addicting, multi-layered percussion to some complimentary chimes to provide that memorable sound. But the song would fall flat if it wasn't for Cudi's emotional delivery. His lyrics make me feel like he is calling out... to what, I'm not sure exactly. But I have the feeling the context clues provided by the upcoming album will clue us into the greater concept of "Mr. Rager". It is scary how much I vibe with the single, when what I'm trying to say above that the album may enhance the power of "Mr. Rager"... may make the song even better. And to say I'm even more curious after not only the song, but Cudi's recent interview with Complex, would be an understatement. I think we'll be hearing more of "Mr. Rager" from Mr. Rager as the year draws to a close. Expect a "Pursuit Of Happiness" type mainstream cult following when "Mr. Rager" gets that official release.
 
2.
BUY: Linkin Park "The Catalyst"
Producer: Mike Shinoda & Rick Rubin - FULL, CDQ, 1st Single off the album, A Thousand Suns *TIBS FAV.™

10 years ago, Maks G introduced me to DMX and Eminem - the turn of the millennium's biggest rap stars. Before that, us childhood friends didn't even talk about music... until he introduced me to Linkin Park. In fact, Maks got me into music as part of his diabolical scheme to start a hip hop blog with me 7 years later. Good one, Maks; totally didn't see that coming. Anyway, Linkin Park began to pop off around the same time as DMX and Eminem and began their long reign over our Discmans. Fast forward back to the present and not much has changed except that Linkin Park now reigns over our iPods in large part due to their first single off A Thousand Suns - "The Catalyst". At the time of its premature release in early August, I had no idea it would continue to last this long in my rotation. Now, upon the first few listens, I admittedly was trying to hum along and recreate as best I can the track's iconic electronic melody while not yet fully understanding the lyrics. Well, as I became aware of The Catalyst's deeper meanings and substance, I became even more of a fan. After all, the song can be interpreted as an eerie and ominous analyzation of where the world is now and where the world is heading. Chester's screaming helps the message resonate even more and the dominant, electronic addition can yet again not be ignored. For longtime fans of Linkin Park, myself included as evidenced above, we haven't quite heard anything like this sound in Linkin Park's previous work. And after a decade-plus of music, Linkin Park remains relevant for continuing to successfully progress their sound. With every album, Linkin Park pushes the envelope as evidenced on more of the tracks from A Thousand Suns, but none quite as well as "The Catalyst".  

1.
Producer: Panama - FULL, CDQ, Track off the mixtape, 
 *TIBS FAV.™

That's right, you guessed it! Gemstones takes the top spot with my favorite of many favorites from On The Road To Glory My Story - "New Day". As you would expect from my number 1, this track has it all. Gem showcases all his skills on "New Day" by rapping and singing a provocative, thought-provoking analyzation of today's society. His extreme use of the pronoun 'they' can be interpreted many ways, but one thing's for sure: Gemstones explicitly illustrates ways society is manipulating us. From hinting at microchips in our arms, chemicals in our food, glorifying money, and much more along the same lines, Gem just continuously drops a flurry of ideas that we may have never thought about otherwise. He closes out his first verse with the bold statement, "2012 you will die. Make 'em believe it was true. Marial law is on the way, we're just waiting for the cue". Then, in stark contrast to his piercing raps, Gemstones unleashes his soothing voice, singing the rest of the record while continuing to share warnings about where the world is heading. But even after all the "better learn to plant your food" and "better dig a hole to hide" type words of advice, Gemstones leaves us with the uplifting message of "while there's time, stlll left to, you best move, hey it's a new daaay!". We can all find motivation in "New Day" with messages like that, even if there is no conspiracy believer inside us and you disagree with Gem's assertions. "It's a new day" and "love is all we need". Those simple words. Aren't those words to live by? You can certainly take this positivity from "New Day", which is really a microcosm of all of the positivity found on 
On The Road To Glory My Story, which is from top to bottom an amazing project that can really make the world into a better place. Download "New Day" above, but you would still be doing yourself an injustice by not downloading 
On The Road To Glory My Story as well. Much respect to Gemstones for resurrecting himself, not only as an artist but as a person, and in the process spreading the positive light.
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Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™: July, 2010

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From the top of the Willis Tower: Summertime Chi (photo credit: Seth Kammueller)

 

I spy... one... magnificent city! We have had a busy summer in said city above, but that doesn't mean there isn't enough time for my in-depth monthly recap of my 5 favorite songs of July! Take the time out to download a wide variety of songs that range from big-name artists to those in various stages of their come-up. And I mean 'wide variety of songs' as this July is not as much represented by straight hip hop jams as months past; rather, you can find a mix of funk, pop, R&B, and rock, in addition to elements of hip hop that many of the songs have. On that note, I will leave you with the list and our bonus recap of the best posts of July that further shows just how busy we have really been here in Chicago (and August hasn't been anything less..!). Oh and by the way, you can see my house from that photo!! Just kidding. But seriously, you can. *White Goodman voice* Enjoy!

5.
Ko*Starz "Revolt"
Producer: Slot-A - FULL, CDQ, Track off the mixtape Summer Solstice *TIBS FAV.™

The Ko*Starz hail from Chicago and caught my attention (and hopefully yours) with their early July feature of "Revolt". As the title indicates, the recurring theme in this one is revolt, but the group presents it in a pleasantly, unusual fashion. With a mix of singing and rapping, Ko*Starz delivers an uptempo groove that will resonate right away to the casual listener. Instead of a menacing tone, the Ko*Starz instead rock with an upbeat tempo crafted by, Slot-A, that works for hip hop but also features some pop elements. But of course, the message is what gives "Revolt" its longevity as the group questions the ongoing war and some of the faulty logic in today's society. Just check out the concluding lyrics of the last verse below, which showcases the theme and a dose of fun from the group: 

"Take it away and put a tax on this,
If it's, time to fight then put a draft on this,
Why did mankind have to come down to this?
I.. don't want to be a part of this,
We're struggling to reach bipartisan,
Engaged and engulfed in this hip hop ottoman,
We gon' do it, to reach our target audience,
Which is anything breathing, that's obvious!"

Up next, I would love to see a video and/or the group perform the song live. The imagery of not only the words, but the fresh sounds can further be brought to life with a visual and the live crowd would surely rock to the attention-grabbing chorus and words that follow. In essence, "Revolt" could be the track that earns a lot of co-stars for the Ko*Starz, har har har.

4.
BUY: Mike Posner "Please Don't Go"
Producer: Mike Posner & Benny Blanco - Track off the album, 31 Minutes To Takeoff *TIBS FAV.™

 

In the current age of sharing music on the internet, it is strange to see  a song that we are first introduced to in the fall of 2009 and nearly a year later, it officially sees its proper release. As is the case with the number four pick of July's favs: Mike Posner's "Please Don't Go". The song blew people's minds as the intro to the fascinating and popular 'One Foot Out The Door' web series, which first premiered in said season of 2009 and re-appeared in similar teaser form a couple times a month for the next six. By gauging the response on the videos, I can tell I was not alone as someone who needed to hear the full version. Naturally, the epic snippet and long time between its first premiere set a pretty high bar of satisfaction that the full version had to live up to. Knowing this, I mentally prepared myself to marinate on "Please Don't Go" for a few listens, and much like Posner's other material, I like the song more and more, the more and more I listen to it. As you can see, I couldn't avoid Posner's repetition from rubbing off on my writing, but one can't ignore that it is that repetition that gives "Please Don't Go" its sticking value. By the day, more and more people are going to get the title stuck in their head (hey, there I go again with 'more'), especially if and when the song truly impacts radio as a sure-fire future single. What stands "Please Don't Go" apart from Posner's other work and other pop/R&B songs is the writing and the instant imagery from the lyrics. Posner writes a unique tale that is fun to follow and universally relatable and, all things considered, may be my favorite gem of many off the album, 31 Minutes To Takeoff, available now! 

3.
Bruno Mars "Just The Way You Are"
Producer: The Smeezingtons - FULL, CDQ, 1st Single off upcoming debut album *TIBS FAV.™

Taking the number three spot is every female's new favorite artist: Bruno Mars! Seriously, in an unofficial poll of my lady friends (believe it or not, this blogger has some!) I have not only yet to come across someone who doesn't like his stuff, but I have yet to come across someone who isn't in LOVE with Bruno Mars. That number is only going to go up exponentially as "Just The Way You Are" continues to blow up, but having said all that, Bruno Mars is surely an artist the fellas can appreciate. Although the ladies may love this song more, "Just The Way You Are" is an amazingly powerful, universal record that we all can vicariously (or for the lucky ones, actually) live through. There's a lot to like about this record so I'll start with its most defining aspect: the hook. It may scream corny to some as the general message of 'I love you just the way you are' has been heard before in some variation, but Bruno's variation contains its own originality and imagination. Most powerful is the 'when you smile, the whole world stops and stares for awhile' line. But moreso than the hook, I look forward to the verses with every listen, as the beautiful writing continues with the added bonuses of Bruno's vocal melodies as well as the verses' clean production. In fact, it is those little things and more that are executed so well across the board (verses, multi-layered production, and Bruno of course) that are all on point one hundred precent. Together, all of these aspects lift "Just The Way You Are" to the top tier of R&B/pop songs I have heard this year. I predict "Just The Way You Are" will keep rising from its current position at number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 to number 1 (once we collectively poke "Love The Way You Lie" with a stick this time next month) and it will be the landmark, solo record that catapults Bruno Mars' soon arrival to superstardom.

2.
John Legend & The Roots "Wake Up Everybody" f/ Melanie Fiona & Common
FULL, CDQ, 1st Single off the upcoming album, Wake Up! *TIBS FAV.™

I marveled at the possibilities of this combo the moment the news broke, set the bar ridiculously high, and in the end, I was not disappointed when the 1st single for John Legend & The Roots' upcoming album, Wake Up!, broke this July. "Wake Up Everybody" is the name of said single and features the soulful Melanie Fiona and the Chi-Town legend Common. Naturally, the topic of a song that features these four positive artists is to uplift the people to well, WAKE UP!, and help make a change. The message has certainly been conveyed before in songs from every era, even originally by Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes for this remake that The Roots put their own twist on. But while the concept may not be one hundred percent original, that doesn't bother me. The positive energy brings the words to life, so no matter if you have heard them before, it is still quite stirring and motivational. Simply put, the song motivates, uplifts, and increases awareness in a feel-good, classic soulful manner. It is easy to vibe with the soothing sounds of the instrumental and from the start of John Legend's first verse. But when the production picks up and Melanie Fiona adds a female touch to the record, "Wake Up Everybody" really takes off. I am confident "Wake Up Everybody" will prove to be a breakout song for Melanie Fiona, as her vocals really turned my head and I am already a big supporter of hers. I can only imagine the reaction of the casual listener who still may not know who the Canadian songstress is. But as a hip hop fan first, my favorite part of the song comes with Common's slick guest verse, countering any sort of redundancy in the lyrics. I particularly loved the end, as transcribed below:

"We more than shooters, more than looters,
Created in this image so God live through us.
And even in this generation living through computers, 
Only love love love can reboot us, c'mon!"
- Common

The words may not necessarily jump off the paper screen, but they are delivered, along with the rest of the verse, with Common's slick punctuation. His rhymes take the song and your thoughts to another place on "Wake Up Everybody" and Common is not only the perfect fit for the record, but he also takes it to another level. I'll rave about "Wake Up Everybody" once the 1970s style video is finally premiered, so this isn't the last you heard of this one! We just have the behind the scenes photographs to hold us over for now, which ironically happened to be included in this new music update.

1.
FULL, CDQ, Track off the FREE album, In The Jaws Of The Lords Of Death *TIBS FAV.™

Mid-July marked the debut project from Lupe Fiasco's punk rock foray: Japanese Cartoon. I immediately rocked with In The Jaws Of The Lords Of Death from start to finish, but the one track that particularly resonated with me was the project's concluding record, "Gasp". It fits right in context with the project's themes but is set to a more relaxed production compared to the high-octane feel of the majority of In The Jaws. The dark, almost eerie beginning of the record transplants your mood from whatever it was before into a state of awareness. More specifically, "Gasp" is first defined by the vibrant chords of the lead guitar and then emphatically driven home by Lupe's lyrics. Case in point comes courtesy of the second verse, delivered like a rap by Fiasco:

"I'm writing you in spite of you,
The conflict rests inside of you,
Dividing you, devour you,
Defeating and de-power you,
Depleting and deflower you,
Revolution's waitin' on the hour to expose all of the weakness of the powerful,
Redefining comfortable is currently the question,
And the suffering, the famous nameless angels all up under you,
Your happiness is killing meee,
Your fantasies are fan aside (fantasize? faint inside?), insanity romantically ohh
Pleasure is paiiinful... Yeah ya know, ya know, ya know..
Well it's worse, cause you don't know.. just how much it hurrts..."

This verse personifies the thought-provoking depth on, not only "Gasp", but the project as a whole. My reaction to this verse and plenty more from In The Jaws was simply 'Whoa', as Lupe continues to deliver messages that inspire a double take and multiple rewinds. Verse and lyrics aside, a roller coaster ride of intensity follows with "Gasp". First, subdued, then a  rise, then a slight fall again that sets up the resonating singing of "Your happiness is kiling me", before a pulsating build-up brings about a rise to the song's ultimate boiling point. How can you not feel the energy and get amped to the guitars at this point? The subtle shouts during this moment can't be ignored but are hard to decipher (color me intrigued) where finally, "Gasp" ends with some sort of electronic sound effect that makes me feel like I'm getting plugged into The Matrix (red pill FTW!). It is the perfect exclamation mark for the song and the CD, which you should download digitally for FREE at allsabotage.com ;) 

Now that we have at last reached the end of July's Fav. 5, let's continue with the plugs! You can listen to all the favs above and MORE favs from Maks G & I in our NEW '*Gowhere Favs.' playlist on the right sidebar ;) AND be sure to check out all of our July interviews below for some amazing new information featuring your favorite artists or basketball player ;) ...Sorry, is three winky faces starting to make you feel awkward? Ok, I'll stop now... ;)
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Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™: June, 2010

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Sears Willis Tower: Summertime Chi (photo credit: Seth Kammueller)

And you thought I forgot? (Or you have no idea what this is.) Well, here we are. I have set an all-time record for the punctuality of my monthly recap of the month that was with the rundown of my five favorite tracks of June. But as the saying goes, "Better late than never". For consistent followers of the site and all of the daily new music, some of these songs may feel like an installment of Old School Sundays (hey, that's today!), but these are the five must-downloads that are strongly rockin' my rotation as we settle well into July. Behold tracks from three artists you may have never heard of and two you most definitely have. In addition, peep the busy month of June for GWHH in our featured links below #1. Enjoy!

P.S. Isn't that a spectacular photo?

5.
Marky "Bulletproof RMX" f/ La Roux
FULL, CDQ, Track off the upcoming EP, Journey To Markyland, USA: Rest Stop 3 *TIBS FAV.™

Marky has been on our radar since before the beginning of his Journey To Markyland EPs and his remix of the major pop hit "Bulletproof" made us that much more excited about sponsoring the third rest stop of the series (try reading that without chuckling). The catchy La Roux vocals and electro beat have now become iconic in the U.S., while already doing so in Europe. When Marky's remix came out at the beginning of June, however, I was still in the dark about the original. Upon reflection, I remember thinking of how much a hit just the female vocals could be, little did I know. But we can sit here and laugh at my expense or talk more about what Marky adds to "Bulletproof". The obvious answer is rap, yes. The better answer is more of a story, since Marky tells his hypothetical lady interest to let him in. Guys dig these songs because they can often relate to what I like to call, 'the chase', and often times it is the guy doing the chasing. The ladies can of course relate to the chase as well and of course, I have yet to hear a lady not dig the beat and vocals of La Roux. Overall, "Bulletproof" the original is already a hit; Marky's additional concept, in addition to the little things like the clever endings of verses 1 and 3, makes it jump a level as a long-lasting track in my rotation. You can't go wrong here on the creative, out-of-nowhere remix of "Bulletproof" that is just the first sign of things to come on the GWHH x iLLVibes-sponsored Journey To Markyland, USA: Rest Stop 3.

4.
Eddy B & Tim Gunter "Fall From A Cloud"
Producer: Tim Gunter - FULL, CDQ, Track off upcoming project, Dear North Carolina, Welcome Back *TIBS FAV.™

You might be asking yourself, wait a second, who are these guys? First, Marky and now Eddy B & Tim Gunter?? Well, get accustomed to these new faces as these two fellas from North Carolina combined to create an epic, motivating record called "Fall From A Cloud". It begins with an extremely well-crafted production by Tim Gunter, who seamlessly transitions a rise and fall in intensity that Eddy B matches with some furious raps himself. I assure you that the song's defining loop will be stuck in your head after only a mere listen. Like I said above, Eddy B matched the motivational sound of the verses with a fire that is definitely fueled by his come-up. Sure, maybe a tad on the cliche side conceptually, but his story is entertaining nonetheless. He brings it a different direction in the subsequent verses, which are linked by some addicting singing that embodies the image of the song's title. A couple things keep coming to mind as I have continuously listened to this song over the past month: 1. "Fall From A Cloud" needs a video. And 2. "Fall From A Cloud" should be in a movie. The common denominator from both conclusions is that your imagination takes off with images and visuals inspired by the audio. I can easily see this song in a movie like The Matrix, or better yet, the best movie I have seen in the past couple of years: Inception. The slowed down intro of the instrumental would be perfect for a rising dream sequence (pick one) and the fast-paced part of the instrumental came to mind when Leo was first showing Ellen Page the powerful control she can have in designing dreams. Well, now that I mentioned it, let's just move on so I can go see Inception again...

3.
Big Boi "Lookin' For Ya" f/ Andre 3000 & Sleepy Brown
Producer: Boi-1da - FULL, CDQ *TIBS FAV.™

Big Boi, Andre 3000, and Sleepy Brown together again. Not since the Speakerboxx/Love Below days have we seen the trio on the same track and needless to say, longtime fans were ecstatic when the long drought came to a close. But music has changed a lot since 2003 when OutKast's biggest album was released. So how would the fellas cope with the changes for a new song in 2010?! Well, as any good artist does, they didn't change themselves, they just made another hit that felt right over an uptempo production from now big-name beatsmith Boi-1da. It feels like the OutKast and Sleepy Brown of old - a mix of "The Way You Move" and "Ghetto Musick" as both Big Boi and Andre 3000 deliver some clever, yet quirky fast-paced verses amidst the singing of Sleepy Brown on the hook. Once I got over the surreal feeling of hearing all three together again, I recognized that this is a bonafide hit. It's just unfortunate (and I can't underscore that word enough) that label politics reared its evil head to stop the release of "Lookin' For Ya" on Big Boi's solo album, Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, which Big Boi described in detail in our exclusive interview this month. "Well here's a revolutionary idea", as 3000 wonders aloud to begin his verse, "Lookin' For Ya" makes everyone that good moolah if officially released as a single, with a music video, and everything. What casual fan of music would not be intrigued by OutKast together again on a big new single? Fortunately, this frustrating missed opportunity doesn't creep into my mind as I blare "Lookin' For Ya" as I prepare for a night on the town... but still...

2.
The GTW "Blow Me Away" f/ Danny Brusco & Aiva The Great
FULL, CDQ, Track off the mixtape, Don't Smoke The Cigarette *TIBS FAV.™

Now here's a track that will blow you away! Har har har. Lame pun aside, The GTW is the lone Chicago artist in this month's recap for this standout track from the new mixtape, Don't Smoke The Cigarette, called "Blow Me Away". The eclectic sounds and styles on display here are too much to count on both hands like the amount of rings possessed by one Phil Jackson. So where to start? Well, The GTW cleverly crafts a song based around the always relatable concept of courtship. He does so in a fast-paced and classy manner from the first verse onward, which is very entertaining to follow. Guest stars Danny Brusco & Aiva The Great add some vocals - the former on a fun hook that anyone can sing along to, and the latter adding a supplemental bridge and female perspective to the situation in a seductive voice that really drives the concept home. All three artists possess their own distinctive style and voice, which all shine over the uptempo, multi-layered production. Most notably, there are some African-inspired claps and some Dirty Vegas-reminiscent grooves that combine for a fresh sound unlike any other. Flat out, "Blow Me Away" comes complete across the board - lyrically, conceptually, and sonically - for a fun and relatable record that always puts me in a good mood when I ride with it. Any other month, it could have been an easy pick for the number one spot, but The GTW had this guy to compete with...

1.
BUY: Eminem "25 To Life"
Producer: DJ Khalil - FULL, CDQ, Track off the album, Recovery *TIBS FAV.™

Yep, it's Eminem returning with the #1 spot for the second time in three months as "25 To Life" instantly claimed status as my favorite track off Recovery, and the best hip hop record of the year (so far). The first listen of this track is especially moving, so if you haven't done so yet, please do before continue reading...

Done yet? 

Ok, cool.

Now, did you have that 'Wait a second.. Em was talkin' about hip hop the whole time? Holy S**t!' thought bubble pop in your head like I did after the first listen? Simply amazing. Eminem uses the similar metaphor of hip hop as a woman, popularized by Common's "I Used To Love H.E.R.", but "25 To Life" is totally different for capturing Eminem's personal story and experiences. Simply put, Eminem's storytelling is brilliant. The first verse (of two) reels us in to thinking the song is about his often publicized relationship with his ex-wife Kim. In fact, its with his angst-filled opening lines that Eminem puts that thought into the listener and more obviously, grabs our attention.

"I dont think she understands the sacrifices that I made,
Maybe if this bitch had acted right I wouldve stayed!"

But then early in the second verse, these few bars raise the eyebrows and had me questioning what Eminem was really talking about:

"But tonight I'm serving you with papers I'm divoricing you,
Go marry someone else and make em famous..."

Finally, Mr. Mathers caps off his verse with the revelation:

"Ain't changing my mind I'm climbing out this abyss,
You screaming as I walk out that I'll be missed,
But when you spoke to people who meant the most to you, you left me off your list,
F**k you hip-hop!
I'm leaving you, my life sentence is served bi**h, and its just..."

And then it hits you. Wow. On that first listen, I was that fish caught on a hook. First thinking the song was about Kim, then being confused, then having the priceless feeling of realization that Eminem was metaphorically speaking about hip hop. So naturally, I re-listened to the song from a new perspective and begin to understand the true meanings and frustrations Eminem spills out about the tribulations and disrespect he's been dealt with from hip hop. Only he can really make a song like this because of those experiences and I would argue that only he can deliver this type of song the best because of the intensity that is exhibited not only on "25 To Life", but also throughout Recovery. And oh by the way, I didn't even mention the dope female sample and the chilling claps added on the hook, which will bring this song to life during one of Eminem's sold-out performances. DJ Khalil on the beat did his thing on the above but also to create a backdrop that is the perfect compliment for Eminem's words to shine. It's already a month removed from my first listen of "25 To Life" and I still marvel at the overall concept and the small nuances all the same. I don't doubt I will continue to do so as this instant classic will become a timeless hip hop record - one of Eminem's top 5 tracks to date.
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THE BEST POSTS OF JUNE:


GWHH Radio:

GWHH Interviews:




PREVIOUSLY:
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Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™: May, 2010

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The month of May in 2010 was flat out the best month of new music this year. The consistent quality of underground talent is always there from month to month but it's the heavyweights like Kanye West, Eminem, T.I., Drake, and even R. Kelly droppin' new singles and album records... good records... that really put this month over the top, horse saddle *Drake voice*. But it was the man above with his new single "Power" that started quite the firestorm on the internets and into everyday conversation. There is no doubt "Power" was the biggest release of the month, but what else made this month's fav. 5? Well, after just now being able to digest all of May's good music halfway into June, you're about to find out! (Just kidding, I've had this almost ready to go for over a week, but you know how things get..) 

So what will you find below? A mix of big artists, Chicago talent, and the first ever 1a./1b. split decision in Fav. 5 history. Oh, and check out a condensed look at some of the best, most interesting posts on GWHH in May! Enjoy!

5.
T.I. "Yeah Ya Know (Takers)"
Producer: DJ Toomp - FULL, CDQ, Track off the upcoming album, King Uncaged *TIBS FAV.™

Classic T.I., point blank, period. The new, motivational 'trap' single from T.I. "Yeah Ya Know (Takers)" was an instant hit in my ears, earning multiple repeats upon its release, and still today. It is flat out one of DJ Toomp's absolute best productions, mixing in piercing synths with some upbeat hip hop and even rock elements that immediately reel you in upon pressing play. The energy from the production fuels T.I.'s fury as he spits a fast-paced, anthemic chorus. It sticks from the very beginning with T.I.'s similarly fast-paced verses gluing things together. "Yeah Ya Know (Takers)" comes correct from top to bottom, also acting as a storytelling experience from T.I., who outlines some personal frustrations and obstacles. The energy is contagious and it is fascinating to really feel T.I.'s built-up angst spilled out on "Yeah Ya Know", an elite, motivational workout anthem that is a must-add to your library.

4.
G.o.D. Jewels "All Things 'Go"
Producer: Plan & G.o.D. Jewels - FULL, CDQ, Track off the mixtape Greatness Opens Doors *TIBS FAV.™

One of our two-sponsored mixtapes in May came from the Chicago emcee G.o.D. Jewels, whose Greatness Opens Doors made quite the splash. But it was "All Things 'Go" that made a cannonball splash for G.o.D. Jewels, with its premiere actually coming in the form of a music video that paid homage to a lot of Chicago sports teams and landmarks. 'Jewels exhibits his hometown pride across the verses, capturing the grit of a hard-working city in the process. The song's defining sample, which spawns the title, is even more powerful over the slow and simple production. All in all, the song is an excellent illustration of the Chicago hip hop sound, both sonically and lyrically, yet "All Things 'Go" is still a track that anyone, anywhere can vibe with. My next request: how bout an "All Things 'Go" remix with another Chicago artist... on the heels of this Blackhawks Stanley Cup?? 

3.
Nikki Lynette "Beneath My City"
FULL, CDQ, Track off the mixtape, Roses N' Guns *TIBS FAV.™

Nikki Lynette was perhaps the most prominent up and coming Chicago artist to elevate her status in the month of May. She released collabos with GLC, Mickey Factz, and the gem above before the release of her mixtape, Roses N' Guns, halfway through the month. I rocked with "Beneath My City" when it came out prior to the mixtape and even more when the mixtape was finally released. It is an excellent closing track to a tape that has a clear rock influence with samples from the likes of Nirvana, Peter, Bjorn, & John, and of course Guns N' Roses. But what stands "Beneath My City" apart is the versatile styles and energy Lynette exhibits across the track. She effortlessly goes from rapping to singing and back again while providing some analytical lyrics along the way. My favorite was her correct assertion that "everybody at the top had to start from below" - an ideal sometimes forgotten by fans and artists today. It is also Nikki's singing that really reels you in on "Beneath My City", illustrating her strength through a chorus that I first likened to Mary J. Blige. The chorus is an addicting and fun one to ride with that also gets a nice extension to conclude the record. At the end of the day, Nikki Lynette's "Beneath My City" certainly boasts her hometown pride, but she does so in a more universally appealing way than "All Things 'Go" above does, for example. She's talking about Chicago, but you can also feel she's 'beneath your city'!

2.
Kanye West "Power"
Producer: Symbolyc One & Kanye West - (YouTube Stream) 1st Single off upcoming album, Good Ass Job *TIBS FAV.™

Perhaps the most talked about single in recent memory, Kanye West's "Power" lands at number 2 on my monthly list of must-haves. Unfortunately, it seems as though all download links have been shot down like an outrageous conspiracy theory so all you can do is stream it above until it comes out on iTunes (hopefully soon, but maybe there's some sample clearance issues?). Nevertheless, Kanye came back with a fury on "Power" with some hard-hitting lyrics that were seemingly analyzed like the Zapruder film. With the delivery that only he can provide, Kanye really makes the lyrics jump off the page and felt within your body. You can't tell me you don't get amped up when you hear the "every super hero needs his theme music" line amidst the additional chords of the production. In fact, those chords plus the Tetris-style breakdown shortly passed the 3 minute mark, are two of the most long-lasting qualities of "Power", production-wise. Lyric-wise, you have the aforementioned super hero line, the doubly-iconic Kelly Rowland punchline, and well, the entire second verse. Maybe it could have done without the SNL-bashing, but it's the rest of the verse that is powerful, no pun intended. Check for the lyrics and my original thoughts here

The one thought that has developed since the release of "Power" is its parallels to "Can't Tell Me Nothing". West delivers some of the same bravado he does off of lead single 1b. from Graduation and both songs accomplished some of the same goals, message-wise. We can dissect the small similarities between the two, song for song, but the biggest difference I see is that "Power" showcases an even greater personal insight into Kanye West. Many Kanye fans consider "Can't Tell Me Nothing" one of Ye's greatest, and for good reason, but gimme "Power" over CTMN any day of the week. With all the critical acclaim, "Power" has received, I still feel that it is an appetizer for things to come from Kanye's new album... albeit "Power" is like a $13.99 shrimp caviar appetizer over a 2.99 roasted almonds appetizer.

1a.
The Roots "Dear God 2.0"
FULL, CDQ, 1st Single off the upcoming album, How I Got Over *TIBS FAV.™

So while new singles from Kanye West, T.I., and Drake keep driving the internets to a frenzy, one new single deserves to do just the same: the sometimes overlooked Roots crew with "Dear God 2.0". Sure, it's not your typical radio-friendly, uptempo single, but for the many of us out there who just appreciate good music, you can't go wrong with one of The Roots' strongest tracks of their long, illustrious career. "Dear God 2.0" is indeed one of the re-interpretations appearing on the upcoming album, How I Got Over, sampling Monsters Of Folk's "Dear God". The original formulates an eerie, mood-setting chorus that can be incredibly moving if you're in a reflective mood (and you're religious). All that said, Black Thought continues to set the bar high lyrically and his verses from top to bottom are near-flawless. The most powerful moment of the song is actually the last few bars from Black Thought that go like this:

"Why is the world ugly when You made it in Your image?
And why is living life such a fight to the finish?
For this high percentage, when the sky is the limit,
Each second is a minute, every hour's infinite."

"Dear God 2.0" is certainly a song that gets better with more listens, as you continue to interpret the lyrics, perhaps find relation to them, and notice some more subtle things. For instance, today in fact, I happened to further appreciate the snares from ?uestlove across the verses. I've been so caught up in the lyrics that approaching the song with a production focus adds new appreciation. So be sure to not sleep on this one and hopefully you'll find some of the same peace and solace that I feel when spinning "Dear God 2.0" in my rotation. How I Got Over is in stores June 22nd!

1b.
Various Artists 'The Gowhere Tape: Volume 1'
Features 20 NEW Tracks! (Tracklist here*TIBS FAV.™

Yep, not quite a song, but instead 20 songs share the #1 spot with The Roots this month. We dropped our first ever mixtape, solely presented by Gowhere Hip Hop, which featured 20 world premieres ranging from the variety of genres we promote here on the site, and of course featuring a lot of Chicago flavor. We had GemStones kicking things off on track one, setting the stage to expose more talented up and coming artists. In our initial post, we examined how the tape flowed from track to track and style to style, but I never dropped what were some of my personal favorites. We would not have put any of the tracks on the mixtape if we weren't happy with it so really, there's a lot... but I was able to narrow it down to, guess what..? 5!

Here's my Fav. 5 of The Gowhere Tape: Volume 1

5. J. Taylor "Dreams" f/ Mr. Music
4. Legit "Valedictorian"
3. Rotimi "Body"
2. LA & Mr. Music "Bright Midnight"
1. The Five One "The Same"

Two of the most original tracks I had heard in awhile were The Five One's "The Same" and LA & Mr. Music's "Bright Midnight". Both successfully fused hip hop with a whole 'nother genre, alternative and rock, respectively. But they are just two of a mixtape filled with gems that should be another must-download for your library. You'll definitely find somethin' you like as The Gowhere Tape: Volume 1 is littered with new sounds, styles, and some of tomorrow's biggest artists!
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THE BEST POSTS OF MAY:

The Gowhere Tape: Volume 1

GWHH-Sponsored Mixtapes:
G.o.D Jewels Greatness Opens Doors // FeSo Don't Sleep 2 EP

GWHH Interviews:
Drew Sidora // Da Internz

PREVIOUSLY:
Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™. : April, 2010
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~ Sgt. Tibs

Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™: April, 2010

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Alas, I have had some extra time at the beginning of this month in May for my monthly look back at the 5 must-download records of April. You undoubtedly notice Eminem and B.o.B above, but why? Well, you can probably connect the dots and safely assume they had tracks that made the top 5. But the point I wanted to get across is that to me, April, 2010 will be remembered for the leaps that B.o.B and Eminem made in the general public (yes, Eminem). The former landed the #1 song in the country and not on some silly club banger, but actually for a universally liked record that forced his label to push up his debut album. Throw in another top 10 single ("Airplanes") and it looks like I got at least one of my predictions right at the beginning of the year. 

The latter, Eminem, has jumped up a level in my eyes because he is once again talked about like he was at the peak of his career. He has always been a global icon for the last decade, but I feel like Relapse did not give him the same type of buzz and word of mouth between the people you encounter day in and day out. After destroying a couple of huge features in "Forever" and "Drop The World" since then, Eminem really got people talkin' about him again with his feature on "Airplanes, Part II", the "Despicable Freestyle", and the release of his new single "Not Afraid". More on this below, but one thing that's for sure is that Eminem is back with a fury and damn near everyone is taking notice again. So, check out which of the songs mentioned above made my list along with a few other tracks you shouldn't sleep on (apologies to Nas & Damian Marley for not making the cut... Distant Relatives is gonna be great). And as always, I brought back links to the best of the best posts in April in case you missed some of the unique coverage and content here at GWHH. Enjoy!

5.
ArtOfficial "Show Me Change" f/ QuESt & Swamburger
FULL, CDQ, Track off the project, The Payback *TIBS FAV.™

We begin things with a unique and effective remake of Jay-Z's "Show Me What You Got" as the Miami hip hop/jazz/alternative group ArtOfficial recruited fellow Miami dweller, QuESt, and Swamburger to add their own flavor to the original. The live remake of the production - one of Swizz Beatz' all-time best - is amplified with some amazing drums that increases the energy of the emcees in their verses. All three spit their own break-neck rhymes and exhibit their own styles while ignoring the option of using a hook. The end result is simply a live jam session and straight rapping that would be even more entertaining to witness live. For now at least, we can turn to our good friend YouTube for ArtOfficial and QuESt live on stage and in a jam session until they make their way to a city near you (like, Chicago??).

WHY YOU SHOULD DOWNLOAD (in 140 characters or less): 3 fast MCs + Trav Barker-like drums + NO hook... and still as entertaining as Tina Fey's Palin skits

4.
Trey Songz "Already Taken"
Producer: Polow Da Don - FULL, CDQ, Track off the upcoming Step Up 3D Soundtrack *TIBS FAV.™

Trey Songz speaks for the playas who happen to find the one in his new track off the upcoming Step Up 3D Soundtrack. The simple, yet addicting Polow Da Don loop provides just the right backdrop for Trey's lyrics and voice to shine. With an easy to follow structure, listeners can vibe with the beginning, middle, and end in different ways. The beginning boasts an amazing first verse that is punctuated by the added layers of production midway through. The end boasts a defining breakdown that repeatedly claims, "None of these chicks can't f*** with my baby!". I grew to enjoy this part because Trey delivers it with an unwavering confidence. Roll down your windows and ride out to this one. With the long days of summer upon us, you couldn't ask for a better R&B jam to set the mood for a long drive out in the sun.

WHY YOU SHOULD DOWNLOAD (in 140 characters or less): Ladies will love the song, then love you if you can relate... + has one of Trey Songz best "C'mooonnn" signatures

3.
Legit "Sociology"
FULL, CDQ, Track from the mixtape, Second Semester *TIBS FAV.™

Legit is a young, upcoming emcee from Chicago (18 years old, to be exact) but to the unaware listener, you would think he is 28 with the sort of intelligent and thought-provoking messages he spits on "Sociology". The strongest aspect of the song is definitely Legit's lyrics that he blends with a hook that's not meant to be one that gets stuck in your head, rather one that acts as a continuation between verses. Each verse is a mix of Legit jumping from one topic to next and asking some important questions along the way. One example: "Healthcare is important, cause the AIDS vaccine mean nothing if nobody can afford it". He also touches on the Derrion Albert tragedy in Chicago, lack of education (and its affordability) in the United States, and troops overseas, amongst other things. It is quite the trip to hear Legit bounce from one issue to the next. Adding to the entertaining lyrical substance is a dope piano-laced production, complete with some DJ scratches and what I think is a sheep in the background (seriously) that actually add to the song's energy. Definitely the most lyrical record I have heard in April and one that put this young Chicagoan on our radar here at GWHH.

WHY YOU SHOULD DOWNLOAD (in 140 characters or less): Fast-paced examination of real world issues in the eyes of an 18-yr old emcee in Chicago + strangely addicting sheep noises

2.
Eminem "Despicable Freestyle"
FULL, CDQ, Freestyle over "Over" & "Beamer, Benz, Or Bentley" *TIBS FAV.™

I went w/ Eminem's "Despicable Freestyle" over the lead single "Not Afraid" for a few reasons. I concede that "Not Afraid" has more substance and more lasting appeal, but I can't look past some of the song's minor flaws. On the other hand, I thought the "Despicable Freestyle" was as flawless as a freestyle/remix can get. Eminem raises the bar for upcoming artists aspiring to destroy some of today's hottest beats with not only a furious flow of rhymes  but by also goin' in on a mix of two beats. I have privately been pining for artists to do something exactly like this for the longest time because if you nail the transition, which Eminem did, then you'll have an end product that will be memorable. And that should be an underlying goal with remixes or freestyles: to make people remember yours as much as the original. But back to Eminem. He not only kills the transition, but he matches the hard production with such high energy and wickedly-fast wordplay that it's hard not to get swept up in this "Despicable Freestyle". For some icing on the cake, he channels an excellent Daffy Duck impersonation to punctuate the end of two minutes of straight rapping. And just like that, the internet went crazy. Here's what made its impact resonate with me personally: I was talking with a group of friends who don't listen to hip hop and they were saying that the "Despicable Freestyle" is all they've been hearing about the last two days. And to me, that's the difference between Eminem now and Eminem when Relapse came out. The quality of Relapse (and its singles) didn't have many buzzing to each other like they are now - now that Eminem is murdering everything he touches. Count me as one of the many who is greatly anticipating Recovery

WHY YOU SHOULD DOWNLOAD (in 140 characters or less): Em officially retires "Over", "Beamer, Benz, Or Bentley", and Roethlisberger punchlines (rappers, pick on LT now #FutureOverusedRapPunchline)

1.
BUY: B.o.B "Airplanes, Part II" f/ Eminem & Hayley Williams
Producer: Alex Da Kid, Eminem, & Luis Resto - FULL, CDQ, Track off the album, The Adventures Of Bobby Ray *TIBS FAV.™

Probably not a surprise given the intro above but "Airplanes" was simply the endearing song of the month in Tibs land. First, part I - a repeat-worthy, B.o.B-only song in its own right - set the stage for the much-hyped Eminem addition on part II. But also on part II was two new verses from B.o.B that set the stage for Eminem's concluding verse. And those shouldn't be overlooked either as B.o.B carries out the immensely powerful chorus to take us back to where his dreams of being on top and imagination of becoming a star started. He also adds a dope bridge, where he solemnly sings about his once dream-filled days being gone. The bridge perfectly sets up a furious set of reflective rhymes from Eminem. Em dwells on his journey and experiences as a child and young adult trying to make it in the rap game and plays off the recurring motif of pretending. One example of a line that made me go, 'Whoa!': 

"Pretend he just stayed outside all day and played with his friends, 
Pretend he even had a friend to say was his friend"

As you can see, Eminem spills out a lot of angst in that line above and throughout the entire verse. And finally, perhaps "Airplanes" most lasting quality is the overall imagery of the song.  If you got this bumpin' somewhere at night and you happen to look up in the sky to see an airplane in the distance, best believe you are gonna feel some emotion in your body when that chorus hits. If not, you are about as robotic as Jason Statham in, well, just about any Jason Statham movie. As a result though, "Airplanes" can be meaningful to everyone because of its imaginative tone and its ability to capture a reflective or solemn mood that we all frequently experience. Download links are taken down, but you should really click the link above and support not only the song, but the debut album The Adventures Of Bobby Ray. B.o.B delivered across the board with a variety of songs and styles for one of the strongest albums of the year, period.

WHY YOU SHOULD DOWNLOAD (in 140 characters or less): Eminem delivers one of the year's top verses + B.o.B shows off rap/singing + Crossover appeal + Perfect song to stare out the window to
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THE BEST POSTS OF APRIL:

GWHH Vocalo 89.5 FM Weekly Shows:
GemStones In The Studio

GWHH Interviews:
B.X.C // Krabby (St. Alfred) // Dope Couture

Introducing Chicago Hip Hop Connects

The Return of gowhere?

What do producers look like?
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~ Sgt. Tibs

Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™: March, 2010

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Ahh, March Madness. Every year here in the U.S., the nation is swept up by those two words. March Madness is best personified through Cinderella, buzzer beaters, and brackets not unlike the one you see above. The one you're looking at above? That's right, mine! The same one that is currently ranked 4,000,000th... and that's not even an approximation, it's actually slightly worse (so much for winning the GWHH pool). The practical impossibility of predicting the tournament actually contributes to its captivating nostalgia; this year's version does so in a big way. With all these big names getting knocked out early, there is a 'who's who' in the final four, taking place this weekend. Similarly, my monthly recap of my fav. 5 tracks of March contains no big-name favorites (new singles from T.I. and Drake), a couple of Cinderellas (freestyles) that fell just short of the final five (Trey Songz' "The Machine" and S-Preme's "Over"), and even an artist who overcame a long drought to return to the promised land, a la Duke (scroll for that 1). Find out what songs cut down the nets below, before diving into the multitude of links that showcase what GWHH has been up to during all this madness in March. Enjoy!
5.
Producer: Double-O & Just Blaze - FULL, CDQ, Track off the album, Land Of Make Believe *TIBS FAV.™

The beginning of March began with a flurry of fresh new leaks from the inevitably released Land Of Make Believe album from Kidz In The Hall that hit stores on March 9th. The singular release that caught by ears above the rest from the Kidz was the instantly anthemic "Take Over The World" featuring Just Blaze and Colin Munroe. Munroe sets the motivational tone with a chorus that makes cliché cool; a catchy jingle that gets stuck in your head and stirs the adreneline. It's that rare combination of characteristics that become so powerful for anyone, creating a really special feeling. Naledge connects the hooks with a couple lyrics that contain is usual batch of witty punchlines and lyrical depth. My favorite of those punchlines is more of an allusion to one of this city's legendary sports heroes, Scottie Pippen. Naledge also does a particularly memorable job of punctuating the end of his verses. If it wasn't for Naledge's momentary Drake spaz in the second verse and a forgettable spoken addition from Just Blaze, "Take Over The World" may have jumped another level and ranked higher. But behind the strength of that motivational chorus from Colin Munroe, the Kidz give us all the feeling that we can take over the world... we'll at least be more successful than this duo with the same agenda, right?

4.
Producer: The Passion HiFi - FULL, CDQ, Track off the Passion HiFi mixtape, The Return Of The Soul Label *TIBS FAV.™

Consider this collaboration the Butler of my final four tracks - the unlikeliest of artists to make a splash this month with an undeniably download-worthy record, when really no one should be surprised. I have followed Savant dating back to last year and like Butler's 20+ game winning streak, Savant has also chalked up the Ws with every real, lyrical track he has released (Ex: "'Til Death Do Us Part'" in the *TIBS FAVS.™ playlist on the right sidebar). He bats third (no, the sports analogies are not going to stop.) on "Say Your Prayers" letting fellow upcoming emcees LongShot and Pharsara do their thing on the prior verses, respectively. All three have differing styles that are still similar overall in containing an upbeat flow and intelligent words and messages. The trio ride the wave smoothly from one artist to the next over a booming production that still reminds me of something I would hear in the 90s. As an added form of entertainment to the track, it is always fun to rank a collaboration of three or more emcees so download the track above and judge for yourself. Ironically, I hailed "Say Your Prayers" as a favorite for my fav. 5 when I originally posted it, hah!

3.
Producer: Ryan Leslie - FULL, CDQ *TIBS FAV.™

Coming out of the Ivy League is none other than Harvard grad Ryan Leslie with the addicting "He's Gonna Be Missin' You". But like Savant above, this shouldn't be a surprise with R-Les' track record of quality music. This leak does just enough to separate itself from a batch of R-Les tracks that are starting to sound the same behind his signature sound. And it is in large part due to an amazingly effective and infectious chorus. The piercing melody sets the tone sonically while Leslie channels upon a familiar characteristic in his songs for this one as well: repetition. The lyrics of the chorus become universal considering the ladies can apply their angst to the first half of the chorus that repeats the title of the song and the fellas can feel like the knight in shining armor when Leslie croons "And I will be lovin' you, lovin' you... lovin' you. Lovin' you until you're gone". In addition, R-Les actually intelligently tells the story that connects the hooks, while avoiding cliché, and adding substance to the record. Also warranting mentioning is the breakdown: the beat undergoes a necessary change of pace and Leslie hits some different notes before bringing it back with one more ad-libbed filled chorus. Quick tangent: who else sings JUST the ad-libs out loud? [/endtangent]. In a month where I feel like there's been an absurd amount of R&B leaked, there is only one clear record that I have been consistently bumpin' above the rest. And whether or not you're a fan of R&B, you should too; after all, it's a perfect song to ride to entering the much better weather of spring.

2.
FULL, CDQ, Track off upcoming mixtape, Dangerous: 5-18 *TIBS FAV.™

Now, Rhymefest's "Letter" was originally released in 2009, yet it was officially released this past month in what sounds like a more popping, studio version of the record. "Letter" features vocals from John Mayer and is going to be included on the upcoming mixtape, Dangerous: 5-18. The mixtape's other leak "Familiar Faces" nearly made the fav. 5 as well but "Letter" is just a tad above "Familiar Faces" and gets the edge. It is first those aforementioned vocals from John Mayer that stir up the emotions (he has a knack for doing that, huh?) of Rhymefest to display one of his most powerful and passionate performances. 'Fest primarily uses the canvas to paint a picture of a lost best friend and then brilliantly broadens the scope at the end of the second verse to provide a more universal appeal to the casual listener.
 
"But you could go around the world and back and then
Same things happenin', fiends are crackin' and
White folks laughin' at the blacks and Africans
Til this day child, call up the state now
This is just a letter I wrote to all my soldiers that fell holdin' they guns bustin' shots for hope
P.S. Ask God if he can make some room cuz El Che is finna come here soon, until then..."

In fact, John Mayer's hook actually provides many options for any emcee to in their own direction. "I'm writing you to catch you up on all the places I've been", begins Mayer. That line alone can be interpreted for many situations, which helps explain why Wale's version's was different, while with similar lyrical depth. The possibility for an emcee to use the hook to focus entirely on the troops overseas that Rhymefest mentions above can be equally as powerful, for example. There are metaphors just waiting to be utilized with this track, both meaningful and just for fun. Yes, the parodies are out there also. Imagine The Lonely Island going off of the Mayer line quoted above for a remix of "I'm On A Boat". But either way, the official version we got is Rhymefest's, and we couldn't be in much more of a better place heading into Dangerous: 5-18.

1.
FULL, CDQ *TIBS FAV.™

Gucci, Waka, and OJ?!?! Early candidate for the 2011 Grammys for Best Rap Collaboration, period. It's crazy that it's not just Gucci and Waka but rather, it's all three!?! Wow. To put it all in perspective, check this out..
.





THE REAL #1.
FULL, CDQ *TIBS FAV.™

GemStones' comeback track takes the real number one spot. We were privileged to premiere the record to the world, which has received a lot of favorable reviews across the web. It means that there's a lot of people that already recognize the genius behind the track - laden with sarcasm, pointing out many of today's biggest issues in society and in the neighborhood itself. In fact, GemStones relayed to us during last week's GWHH radio show that the track is supposed to be called "Sarcasm". But it was labeled "My Hood" when we received it. Nevertheless, it spurred a discussion amongst ourselves in that titling the track "My Hood" actually adds a shock factor upon first listen for the people. With a title like "My Hood", it indicates that it could be a track about glorifying the harsh experiences many rappers come from and have done before. But with an artist as positive as GemStones, that notion is exactly the opposite of the end product. Instead, we are treated with a thought-provoking, sometimes controversial social commentary and examination of society. From the first verse,

[Note sarcasm...]

"I wish I would stop watchin' videos, my son's a future killer,
I'm so proud of my daughter, she grew up to be a stripper.
The usual, you know, things we droppin' out of school to do,
Pop, smoke, drink, sell pharmaceuticals.
Rob, all type of grimy things that's unsuitable
I wouldn't trade this life for all the world, it's too beautiful"


Those are just the few bars. Gem relays similar sarcasm throughout the whole song and even in the ad-libs that are intertwined between an addicting, sung chorus. Scary part: this is just the first in a series of new releases that GemStones is going to share with us upon the rest of the world in the coming weeks. Until then, we can at least chant with GemStones, "Obama, holla at me!!" (especially since he totally messed up his bracket, smh... Sgt. Tibs: bringing everything full circle since 2007.)
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THE BEST POSTS OF MARCH:

GWHH Vocalo 89.5 FM Weekly Shows:

GWHH Interviews:

(features concert footage from S-Preme, LA & Mr. Music, & Teron James)





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Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™: February, 2010

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Yes, that is Bill Murray. What is he doing here? Well, for one - he's hilarious. Two, he's from Chicago. And three, that's him in the movie Groundhog Day, which is one of the Google searches I made when trying to come up with a generic image of February for another monthly recap of my 5 must-have tracks of the month! *exhales* Whew! Gettin' down to business, I should first relay this disclaimer. the month of February should come with an asterisk like Barry Bonds' career home run record and Mark McGwire's single-season home run record. February was more clearly defined by the outpouring of quality videos from Kanye West's "Coldest Winter" to up and comers like Omen and the artist at #4 in the countdown. But not just the videos, as I remember February for a couple unfinished leaks in Lupe Fiasco's "What U Want" and Big Sean's "Way Out" f/ Mr. Hudson that received the most plays out of any other tracks of the month. However, with all that said, it doesn't discount the handful of finished products that are featured below - five MUST-HAVE tracks that range from hip hop to R&B with even a dose of spoken word for good measure. So without further adieu, peep the 5 tracks that should be in your library right now... and the busy month of exclusive interviews, concert footage, and more at Gowhere that you may have missed. Enjoy!

5.
Fonzworth Bentley "Fireside Chat"
FULL, CDQ *TIBS FAV.™

You probably think of Fonzworth Bentley as the spaghetti-legged dancer with the umbrella in all those OutKast videos before you think of him as a well-spoken lyricist. In fact, you may not have even known how intelligent and thought-provoking the G.O.O.D. Music artist is. So perhaps his new song "Fireside Chat" will act as the awakening as Bentley created a truthful, thought-provoking song, partly inspired by the Fireside Chats from FDR in the 30s and 40s. But it was also hearing his own words and his own explanation of "Fireside Chat" when we got to talk to him last week that even further opened my eyes to the song. Bentley analyzes race, media, and society in general that becomes an inspiring record for those questioning why things are the way they are today. Here's just a sample of a few of Bentley's most powerful lines: 

"That is a white water fountain, this one is colored. That is a white water fountain, this one for the brothers. There's a lot of folks that died for these rights; we act like we don't know it."

"Martin said I had a dream.. but who is gonna wake us up from this nightmare?"

"Go straight to the polls, cuz we don't like long lines, but we'll stand if it's at the DMV, right?"

Bentley even apologizes to hip hop legends on the behalf of hip hop today as he progresses into the outro. And overall, the song even has a spoken word vibe to it - a testament to Bentley's style and the laid-back production  The beat is obviously not gonna be the catchiest given everything described above, but it still fits. I guess that's what holds me back from bumpin' this record on repeat but the clear and overwhelmingly positive highlight of the song is in the lyrics. There are two powerful messages and reminders that I really take away from "Fireside Chat": being more cognizant and thankful of the contributions made in history and today that allow us to live a blessed life and also how we can keep improving ourselves, individually and as a society. To drive the point home a little more, check out the video.   

4.
FULL, CDQ *TIBS FAV.™

"Already Know" is already one of Rotimi's biggest songs to date, featuring Dirty Money's Dawn Richard - a big look for the upcoming R&B singer who is currently out here in Chicago. But the collab isn't just to look pretty on Rotimi's resume, as the song provides clear evidence the two really worked at this collab that ends up complimenting each other's styles quite effectively. The upbeat tempo allows for Rotimi to display even more versatility following up the slow jam of his previous single, "Beautiful Music". More specifically, he shows off a booming voice holding notes on the "know" in the simple, yet addicting chorus. I was hooked from his first verse on (the best verse of the song) with Dawn Richard continuing the concept on the second verse. Finally, the two play off each other bar for bar in the last verse adding some entertainment value for the listener to keep 'em hooked throughout the whole song. Make sure to turn the volume all the way up for this one (not as powerful at low volume, maybe it's the mix?) as "Already Know" is definitely a club-banger that'll get you fired up for the night ahead. Especially at a time where I only ride with a couple club bangers here and there, "Already Know" resonates a little more strongly for me. And of course, expect more from the rising R&B singer Rotimi - an artist we "already know" will be making more noise in the rest of 2010 and beyond (cheesy pun totally intended!). 

3.
FULL, CDQ 
*TIBS FAV.™

A lot to like about this unique collaboration as 88-Keys and Colin Munroe combine their unique styles for a hip hop record that has that uptempo mainstream flavor. "Wake Up Call" promotes a general theme summed up by the line "...time waits for no man" as 88-Keys emphasizes on the outro and Colin Munroe reinterprets on an infectious, motivational hook. It's hard not to get fired up from the chorus, especially with the addition of the electric guitar behind Munroe's booming voice. I was on the fence about Colin Munroe, but his hooks on "Wake Up Call" and the recent Kidz In The Hall single alone have swayed me to become a fan. Not to be forgotten behind the deafening hook and production is the slick rhymes from 88-Keys. He effortlessly flows in all three verses, adding precise punchlines, and punctuating the ends of the verses with a "let's go!". The beginning of his first verse is just flawless:

"
I had to take plan b
Out my program
Soon as I found out
That time waits for no man

'Cause time
Is a tedious tutor
I had to make immediate future look better
Like I'm getting a slow tan..."

And 'Keys continues the verse with clever references to Todd Bridges and Gary Coleman that I think know will get a chuckle outta ya. The full lyrics are included in the file by 88-Keys who adds, "I hope this helps you get thru the hustle n' bus of your day". Mission accomplished.

2.
FULL, CDQ, Track off the mixtape, Evolution & Ascension 
*TIBS FAV.™

Can you feel the irony? How does a song titled "Forward March" get featured on the February recap - the last step on Gowhere before fully marching forward into (wait for it...) March! Well, there are plenty of reasons that can answer that question as Nizm put forth a lyrical banger that first reminded me of an intense Eminem track. That reminder came full circle to me as I wasn't first aware that Nizm recorded "Forward March" in 2003, right around the time when Eminem was recording fast-paced, intense tracks (that one song called "Lose Yourself"... for a closer connection: "Rabbit Run", which also contains no hook). The track plays off some background marching vocals from Nizm himself that certainly add to the break-neck, reflective verses from the Chi-Town MC. I like how Nizm uses not deep but subtle metaphors to drive home his thoughts. Sounds like the perfect time for an example:

"For the first time like Luda, I walk on a humble star
My victim like a Krueger
Possessed the ability to snipe, sounding like on mics
Like German assassins regrouping
But today is a celebration of my elevation"

Nizm spits through just those few bars in a matter of seconds... and doesn't stop throughout the whole song, foregoing a hook and just straight rapping for the whole song. As a result, it's clear to see Nizm's battle rapping background as the record comes off like a cypher. It was this set of bars that really hooked me in on first listen:

"To get the best for us, by getting the best for us
In the game, there's so much prejudice, separate but not equal,
All I can do, is uplift my people,
One man, two country, one love, two methods."

Throughout all of Nizm's work, it is clear he's an artist who respects the game and his work for the art. He even drops a line saying so at the end of "Forward March" where by the end, you can't help but respect what was poured out onto the simple, yet addicting backdrop. If you like Chicago hip hop, Eminem's "Soldier" and "Rabbit Run", and/or thought-provoking lyrics, then hesitate no further. If you like all three, then I'm confident that you'll be vibin' with this one as much as myself.

1.
Producer: John Wain & B. Simms - FULL, CDQ, Track off the mixtape, Sextape 
*TIBS FAV.™

Willie Taylor takes the number one spot for February, quite appropriately given the love in the air this month (Valentine's Day... c'mon!). But appropriate timing aside, the Day26 singer once again proves he can rock a solo jam from beginning to end and all the way into the bed sheets. As the title suggests, "Bedroom" is best heard during a time of intimacy (for lack of better words) yet it's so strong of a track that it can still be appreciated during other times. Everything comes correct: chorus, vocals, writing. The chorus is straight up addicting; Willie delivers it flawlessly, emphasizing the word 'bedroom' so that it's stuck on your mind after the first listen of the first chorus - an added bonus for a bedroom song. Willie enhances the last chorus with an appropriate singing yell (you know the random "ohwhoaoaoh's" that R&B singers be doin?) that fits in the background. As for the writing in general, the chorus is well-structured, as are the verses. While the song is defined by the hook, the verses tie things together and come off far from cliche. Overall, it's hard for me to really vibe with bedroom music in general. So when this track had me searchin' for the repeat button after just the first listen, I knew it was a special one that stood out above the rest. And over time, that feeling hasn't changed. Guys, do yourselves a favor and add this to your special playlist; ladies, just sit back and enjoy ;) 
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THE BEST POSTS OF FEBRUARY:

GWHH Vocalo 89.5 FM Weekly Shows: 02.18 // 02.25









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Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™: January, 2010

chicago-newyears.JPG

I couldn't let more of this month get away without reflecting on the month that just was. The first month of 2010 kicked off the year in a big way with strong tracks coming from across the board in hip hop and R&B. The five below represent a lot of those genres and the sub-genres beneath hip hop and R&B so you'll be sure to find somethin' you like if you need to catch up on your music. As always with my usual monthly recap, take a look at some of the best posts of the month beneath my number one track. Enjoy!

5.
Big Sean "Supa Dupa Lemonade"
Producer: Bangladesh - FULL, CDQ, Track over Gucci Mane's "Lemonade" off upcoming mixtape, B.I.G. *TIBS FAV.™

Big Sean's widely acclaimed freestyle/remix of Gucci Mane's "Lemonade" was just released at the end of the month and has really turned heads for the right reason. Big Sean shows off his superior punchline skills, namely with a last powerful flurry that pretty much concludes the song. For example:

"Don't worry bout my n******, thur good, Marshall,
Bank account got me feelin' well, fargo,
Ballin' til I get a milli check, Darko,
I just give 'em line after line after line after line.. after.. after line after line, bar code,
They lookin' for my work (work), narko,
Cuz I just black out in the booth, charcoal..."

- Big Sean

The piano-dominated production of the Gucci Mane original actually makes for the perfect backdrop for Big Sean to deliver those punchlines that'll grab your attention from the first listen onward. And that Darko line is straight up silly as many have already mentioned and this NBA fan really really appreciates. My next request for a random NBA player to be referenced in a rap song: the Jewish sensation outta Sacramento, rookie Omri Casspi. Haha, it's just a matter of time...

4.
BUY: Slique "Addicted" [iTunes]
FULLCDQ, Track off upcoming album, The Movie *TIBS FAV.™


Slique comes correct on one of the most complete R&B tracks I've heard in awhile. The production is a mere compliment to the masterful vocal performance of Slique that gets better as the song progresses. But can you relate? Well, both the guys and gals definitely can if you're in the midst of a relationship that's clicking on all cylinders. If that's the case, then there's not much of a better feeling if you're a fan of R&B. Throw in an overall classic feel to "Addicted" and the record appeals to R&B fans who may cringe every now and then with every uptempo R&B single that blows up nowadays. Watch out for this rising Chicago singer hittin' the radio with "Addicted" as I have a hunch it'll be on rotation on WGCI out here that will hopefully snowball into more placements across the country. Support the single on iTunes above and get your preview at my original post from January here.

3.
Mickey Factz "Sunrise"
FULL, CDQ, Track off the mixtape, darkphoenix #ALPHA *TIBS FAV.™

With all of my projects, I let all of my emotions and feelings out on one song. Just me writing as much as I possibly can and letting the feel of the beat dictate my tone. At the time of me painting this record, I wanted to have a feeling of overcoming. In hindsight that's what the sun does everyday, overcome the night. I used the sun as a metaphor to convey these emotions. 

- Mickey Factz

The above quotation from Mickey Factz accompanies the iTunes file and provides a deep insight into the basis of "Sunrise" - the first track of his mixtape, darkphoenix #ALPHA. Just re-reading that now is enough to inspire another listen as Mickey's message about using the sun as a metaphor gives the listener a new perspective to analyze "Sunrise". The track doubles as the intro to the mixtape, going all the way back to its release on New Year's Day. With that added responsibility of being an intro track that has to grip the listener, "Sunrise" delivers in a unique way compared to other intro tracks by lasting over 6 minutes long. During the duration of the track, the production sets the dark mood for the mixtape while undergoing changes in itself that make you feel like you're on a roller coaster. Factz appropriately rides the roller coaster with his arms raised high, delivering masterful, thought-provoking lyrics at opposite speeds throughout. He throws in a random punchline or two (like referencing Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz) to keep your ears perked to his greater emotional messages. That pure emotion and passion spilled out on "Sunrise" is perfect for the rest of the tape but also strong enough to stand on its own and become a track I've been going back on since the beginning of the year.

2.
BUY: Matthew Santos "Break Free"
FULL, CDQ, Track 10 off the album, Live In Chicago *TIBS FAV.™

For any doubters out there that can't envision Matthew Santos carrying a solo track on its own, "Break Free" should simply squash that irrational thought. He proves he's more than Lupe's hook guy (an unfair label sometimes bestowed upon Santos) with easily my favorite solo song of his. "Break Free" is of a solemn mood defined by an acoustic backdrop, which acts as an excellent compliment to Santos, letting his vocal strengths shine. My favorite part is easily the build-up from the second verse into a powerful chorus starting a little past the 1:30 mark. He controls his words and delivery flawlessly and it's hard not to feel some sort of inspiration or soul-stirring emotion. Simply put, "Break Free" is a calming and relatable slow jam that is perfect to end a long drive at night or be the last song you hear before you go to bed. It's one of those rare tracks that hit me powerfully and I know that it'll do the same for many of the fellas and ladies out there. The link above directs you to the Live In Chicago album that "Break Free" is on, which allows you to preview not only the song but also the entire album. It's easily worth the money - a complete body of work that is especially powerful for the listener when in the appropriate mood. Lookin' forward to more from Santos and his band as we continue to get our feet wet in 2010.

1.
Lupe Fiasco & Kenna "Resurrection"
Producer: Mike Shinoda - FULL, CDQ *TIBS FAV.™

Shocking, right? Lupe Fiasco yet again gracing the number one spot of my five must-have tracks of the month - this time linking up with Kenna on the vocals and Mike Shinoda behind the boards for "Resurrection". The song was inspired by the tragedy in Haiti and formulated in just a couple days so the song can be included in a special 'Download to Donate for Haiti' movement with other big artists like Dave Matthews Band, Alanis Morrisette, and Enrique Iglesias. Good cause aside for just a moment... the song itself is simply epic and powerful. Mike Shinoda delivers one of his best productions that create a thought-provoking tone that Lupe and Kenna carried out vocally. And to think, there's no way I would have guessed it was a Mike Shinoda production had I not have known. He needs to be back in our lives more often, haha. The song begins with some chilling news reports of the Haiti disaster being the worst in United Nations history. Chilling is the best word to describe the little snippet as it really focuses your attention to the song and puts you into a reflective mindset. Quick tangent: samples of news coverage like that are amazingly effective and powerful. The one example that came to mind on first listen was 2Pac's nearly two minute long intro of his Me Against The World album that describes the tumultuous events that took place before the album's release. Best. Intro. Ever.

Back on topic, both Kenna and Lupe sing some emotional lyrics that illustrate images like a rising phoenix and angels in heaven that I almost always envision when listening to "Resurrection". Lupe also spits a well-placed verse that I extracted in full below:
"Urgency, emergency among us
Life is in the crisis, tragedy's upon us
And we won't leave you stranded
Rapidly we cometh
To take you out the darkness
Show you where the sun is
Cries from the rubble
Are the voices this is sung with
And those that have stopped singing
We can still hear you under it
Right up out your worrying
Right into the wondrous
Right up off the ground
Right to where the thunder is
And it's where your sisters
And your mothers and your brothers is
Aunties and your friends
And your fathers and your husbands is
Watching with the rest of the world in astonishment
Live from up above, us via news coverages
Seen even more than the misery that happens is
The love, the strength, the history, the passion
The courage of an impoverished people
That the world once abandoned
Shining, infinite everlasting, (bow!)"

- Lupe Fiasco

Whoa, Lupe took that verse in a couple different directions. He depicted the crisis in a literal sense and also shed light to the courageousness of the people for persevering and recovering from the tragedy. Kenna concludes things with his own little solo part, upping his vocal performance just another level for an awesome end to the record, really punctuating a completeness to "Resurrection". In a month that was dominated internationally by the earthquakes in Haiti, it was amazing to see the music industry come together and raise money, record tribute songs, and do much more to powerfully help the cause. *applauds* ...And we got that "We Are The World" remake comin' during tomorrow's Winter Olympics opening ceremonies..!
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THE BEST POSTS OF JANUARY:

GWHH Interviews: WGN Radio 720 // Wale // Mike Posner // Rockie // Big Homie D.O.E. // YP

GWHH Concert Footage: Lupe Fiasco @ The Shrine for Cheryle Jackson // Ludacris @ Sprite Step Off // Wale @ Sprite Step Off // Trey Songz - Songz 4 Peace: Minneapolis // Mike Posner @ Enclave

GWHH Coverage: Summit On The Summit // Sprite Step Off

Top 3 Sneakers of 2009

Spotlight Chicago artist Kenrick Mcfarlane

The Game of Chess

Spotlight On Indie Hip Hop by sterling

International Artiste du Jour by Max Cornell

In The Raw with Dave Cantor

Jeff Pak Forever Comics

PREVIOUSLY:

Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™: December, 2009

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What do you think? Create a profile and comment!
 

~ Sgt. Tibs

Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™: December, 2009

christmas-winter.jpg

You may have gotten used to this (maybe even the one-week old timing) but alas, my usual monthly recap is here at GWHH. December brought us a bounty of new music for the holiday season, most frequently through the myriad mixtapes that were released. Best of all, Chicago was represented quite well with mixtapes from Kidz In The Hall, Rockie, Chuck L.i.., The Cool Kids (more on them in a sec), and Omen (ditto). In fact, *deep breath* clicking the Omen name directs to a post solely dedicated to a few mixtapes, not to mention other projects from Reflection Eternal, Charles Hamilton,  and compilations from aboveGround Magazine x Pwelbs' monthly lookback and even our own December Dance Mix!!!! *exhale* Whew! So as you can see, on top of the snow flurries we've experienced in Chicago came a serious flurry of mixtapes. As for pure singles, well, let's just say that there were a ton of snowflakes but not enough to experience a blizzard. Without further adieu, check out the five must-have tracks of December below (and the best posts of December too :D). Enjoy!

5.
Lil' Wayne "Drop The World" f/ Eminem
Producer: Hit Boy & Chase N. Cashe - FULL, CDQ, Track off upcoming album, Rebirth *TIBS FAV.™

Oooh, I'm sorry. I probably should have put a warning before my number 5 choice so that your jaws wouldn't hurt from them dropping so suddenly. My bad. But yes, don't correct your screens - Lil' Wayne is favorited above. The longtime Gowhere readers should already know I'm not a fan of Lil' Wayne as seen by a lack of red next to nearly all of his releases. Of course there are exceptions and "Drop The World" is one that has stood the test of time and grew on me as a motivational record. The single is more evidence for my personal conclusion that I like Lil' Wayne very sporadically as he delivers a chorus, lyrically and with a passion that only he could. Given the entire context and the rough, raw production, "Drop The World" is a perfect compliment for Lil' Wayne's abilities. Who knew it would also be a perfect backdrop for Eminem? It was hard to envision the two together on the same record mere months ago but with "Forever" and now "Drop The World" hip hop fans now have two hits for the headphones. However, count me as one of the many who felt Eminem 'renegaded' Lil' Wayne on his own s***? Once Em ditched the harmonizing and got into his verse, it became a fast-paced flurry of bars that almost broke my rewind button. He flat out stole the record and has left this longtime Eminem fan encouraged for an equally strong output on the upcoming Relapse 2. Maks G. shares a similar liking to this song, in fact even moreso, as he is more of a Lil' Wayne fan than I. Consider this a family pick - a song that you should have in your library for sheer curiosity at the very least.

Quick aside: I loved reading that Eminem 'renegaded' Wayne on "Drop The World", of course referring to Eminem's show-stealing guest feature on Jay-Z's "Renegade". Don't you love it when a song becomes a verb like that? The only other case I can think of is someone being "Ethered" referring to Nas' legendary diss track "Ether". Are there any more like this? More importantly, who will be the next artist to get "Lollipopped" by Kanye West? Wait a second... as a matter of fact, let's keep it to "Renegaded" and "Ethered".

4.
The Cool Kids "Free Throws"
Producer: First Team All State - FULL, CDQ, Track off the mixtape, Merry Christmas *TIBS FAV.™

This has to be stated first of all - First Team All State is one of the greatest production monikers I've heard in long time. Who may that describe you might ask? None other than Don Cannon and .5 of The Cool Kids - Chuck Inglish. The sports-themed production name is somehow directly related to the track above, appropriately titled "Free Throws". The Cool Kids use basketball as a metaphor creating a motivational jam for everyone (hopefully Shaquille O'Neal at least) with a catchy chorus that begins with, "I don't need no help with the free throws, we don't even need no glass.." Double negative aside, it's actually a simple metaphor that can be applied to all of us in our daily life to combat and downplay today's stresses. Bringing the record (and this paragraph) full circle is the production of First Team All State. The snares are patterned perfectly with the song containing an overall grungy sound that's all too familiar for longtime Cool Kids listeners. The icing on the cake: samples from real NBA games including one from one of my favorite announcers Mike Breen. My commentary about "Free Throws": Mikey Rocks passes the rock to Chuck Inglish, over to Don Cannon..."puts it in!".

3.
Omen "No Way" f/ Erica Thompson
FULL, CDQ, Track off the mixtape, Delayed *TIBS FAV.™

Chicagoan Omen delivers my favorite hip hop track of the month featuring Erica Thompson on the hook with "No Way", off the Delayed mixtape. "No Way" encapsulates a ton of elements I appreciate in a hip hop track. Omen comes correct with a clear flow, punchlines (even if he did name-drop the Chicago villain Rajon Rondo), and positive message that is further emphasized with a pleasant contrast from singer Erica Thompson on the hook. Powerful train samples and horns enhance an infectious, ever-changing production that hits its stride in the 3rd verse. Bonus points for "No Way" helping the transportation theme of the Delayed mixtape as well. Major bonus points for "No Way" striking a balance between motivation and relaxation with the rapping and the singing inspiring the soul to move forward, to rise above, and to vibe and chill out. Need I say more?

EDIT: Jeffe from Denmark left us an e-mail (he is unable to create a profile) saying that "No Way" is over the OutKast track "The Train" off of the Idlewild Soundtrack. Given that this is a mixtape track, it's not uncommon to see artists goin' in on a beat past or present. I didn't recognize this track above since I ironically battled with purchasing the Idlewild Soundtrack at the time of its release and ended up NOT getting it. All that said, it really doesn't change my opinion of the track, but now I'm gonna let the OutKast one (just as sick of course) digest for me. Thx Jeffe!

2.
LA & Mr. Music "The Stars"
Producer: Mr. Music - FULL, CDQ *TIBS FAV.™

None other than our own LA & Mr. Music come through with the second must-have track of December with "The Stars" - a club/pop record that not only holds its own in comparison to the pop records of today but rises above them due to its little nuances, thereby creating a powerful originality. By first examining the production, Mr. Music developed this production with changing elements from start to finish. Every transition to the next hook is masterfully thought of and executed including my favorite part: the breakdown/build-up at the end going into one last energetic chorus. At a broader scope, perhaps the two most recognizable elements of the production - the hook's melody and sample - were wildly successful. Also adding to the liveliness of the hook is some very complimentary background vocals from Krewella singer Yasmine. All in all, these little nuances help "The Stars" make the leap from a good single to a great single. But stepping back even further, "The Stars" illustrates a rarely captured chemistry in today's music industry between rapper and singer. The charismatic LA delivers memorable lines in each verse creating an excellent contrast to Mr. Music's singing verse that evokes such great imagery. With repeated plays on B96: Chicago's #1 Hit Music Station already, it is hopefully a matter of time until this single launches LA & Mr. Music to another level.

1.
Alicia Keys "Un-thinkable (I'm Ready)"
FULL, CDQ, Track off the album, The Element Of Freedom *TIBS FAV.™

Rounding out the handful of tracks is the lovely Alicia Keys with "Un-thinkable". I never thought her solo version of "Empire State Of Mind" would be topped as my favorite Alicia Keys track (not just on Element Of Freedom) but then "Un-thinkable" leaked. Alicia Keys always stands out with her iconic voice so powerfully, but to me, she reaches an unprecedented level even for her with "Un-thinkable". The chorus is simply wonderful - the word "Un-thinkable" is strung out with a powerful catchiness and the lyrics evoke emotions in practically everyone. I can only imagine this song's impact on someone who can more directly relate to its message than me. Like the point with "The Stars" above (and many other successful singles for that matter), "Un-thinkable"'s nuances enhance the track to another level. Exhibit A: Drake's subtle yet powerful background vocals. Exhibit B: The ominous piano that rides secondary to Alicia's vocals. Exhibit C: The effect of the end of Alicia's last verse transitioning into one last chorus. I can go on and on but simply put, if you're not moved by this song, there's a problem.
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THE BEST POSTS OF DECEMBER:

RT @gowherehiphop Twitter's transformation of the music industry #editorial

2010 Grammy Nominations released

Gowhere Hip Hop at Columbia's Non Fiction Week writing for music panel

Lupe Fiasco vs. Rap Radar 'diss' review

LA & Mr. Music Interview w/ Stretch1

Download the Gowhere Hip Hop December Dance Mix

Spotlight On Indie Hip Hop: CYNE

International Artiste du Jour by Max Cornell

In The Raw with Dave Cantor

Jeff Pak Forever Comics

Top 10 Sneakers of 2009

10 Predictions for 2010

PREVIOUSLY:

Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™: November, 2009

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What do you think? Create a profile and comment!

~ Sgt. Tibs



Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™: November, 2009

Thumbnail image for s-preme-sicktape2.jpeg

November was easily the best month for music in 2009. Throughout my monthly Fav. 5 posts, November came through with the most in good music across all genres. It came in different forms: albums (debuts of rising stars like Wale and Melanie Fiona), singles  and remixes (You can have whatever you want want want..), and lastly mixtapes. While November was also the most plentiful month for mixtape releases, two clearly stood out from the rest: one from an established Chicago hip hop icon, the other from a unique and upcoming Chicago artist. Lupe Fiasco and S-Preme, respectively, dropped official mixtapes and both artists brilliantly used the art of the mixtape to reach audiences in their own way. Lupe choosing to display his lyrical superiority over just 20 minutes of established, yet far from trendy productions. And S-Preme showcasing his in-depth concepts in an hour-long journey over original production.

So as you may be able to connect the dots with the (once again) dope cover art leading the post above, S-Preme lands this month's #1 spot... but for what song? S-Preme's The Sicktape: Volume Two was the first mixtape that Gowhere Hip Hop attached its name to, further making November a month to remember for us. But the month wasn't simply defined by that. Find out what other songs joined Lupe and S-Preme on the same tier in my 'countdown' below. You'll also find the month in links, which concludes the look back at November so we can continue to enjoy the exciting month of December. Enjoy!

5.
Alicia Keys "Empire State Of Mind Part II (Broken Down)"
FULL, CDQ, Track off upcoming album, The Element Of Freedom *TIBS FAV.™

I had a refreshing conversation with a friend recently who was listening to the old Alicia Keys hit "Fallin'". She described her music as timeless - that in her eyes, she's a rare artist whose music evokes the same feelings and energy that it did when it was originally released. And then I steered her in the direction of her solo effort of "Empire II" and the recent December leak of "Unthinkable", hah! Point being: Alicia Keys really is that rare artist who has such a powerful, timeless impact and I officially, explicitly realized that after this conversation. The compositions, her universal appeal, and most of all, her heartfelt, soulful lyrics delivered in such a genuine way all contribute. Scary part: "Empire II" may be her absolute strongest, most inspiring record to date, even after all those hits of the past 10 years. Her solo verses stand apart from Jay's and that all-too familiar hook resonates at the highest of levels. And you don't have to be from New York to really feel this record - it's that inspiring, it's that universal. Having said that... I wish she was from the 'Go.

4.
Chris Mathien "The Definition"
FULL, CDQ *TIBS FAV.™

As we move from 5 to 4, (and Tiger Woods moves from 8 to 9.. SMH) we go from one of the most recognizable names in the music industry to a virtual uknown in Chicago's Chris Mathien. He's a fresh new artist who earned his first spotlight on GWHH  with the feature and production of R.O.E.'s official first single "The Gloves" - a November honorable mention along with that 30 Seconds To Mars/Kanye collab and all 28 Gucci Mane leaks. Some upcoming artists deal with constant questions about what genre, or box, they consider themselves in. Why try to classify? Today's freshest artists aren't constricted by one genre or box. Nevertheless, Chris Mathien helps clarify things to those who ask him what type of artist he is with "The Definition", a clever and catchy tune that has a unique appeal right off the bat. You'll find yourself interpreting the message while feeling like you already know the words and singing along on the very first listen. Keep an eye out for yet another nice Chicago talent on GWHH in the near future.
3.
B.o.B. "Nothin' On You" f/ Bruno Mars
Producer: Bobby Ray - FULL, CDQ, Track off the upcoming album, The Adventures Of Bobby Ray *TIBS FAV.™

This ATLien first struck me as another Andre 3000, but he has continued to prove himself in his own right as his own artist. B.o.B. is skilled and proficient at the guitar and behind the boards on top of being able to rap and sing. In comes his 1st single, "Nothin' On You", the best illustration of his talent so far to date. What really drives this record home for me: I can't relate to the lyrics (an ode to his significant other), yet I absolutely feel the record like I have one. I can't imagine what the feeling would be if I actually did have someone that all the other ladies have nothin' on. For those who do have that special someone, this is the record for you. I'm excited to see the progression of "Nothin' On You" as we move forward; I'm confident in its radio and crossover potential but just how high will "Nothin' On You" chart? Will this record propel B.o.B.'s career to the next level? What about Bruno Mars' career, who shines brightly on the hook? Can we collectively decide on one way to refer to him: B.o.B. or Bobby Ray? Or maybe a brand new third name so Diddy will feel threatened and change his name again? Why do they call him Donkey Kong if he's not a donkey? (Just seein' if you were payin' attention).

2.
Dirty Money "Angels RMX" f/ Lupe Fiasco
FULL, CDQ, Track off the mixtape, Enemy Of The State: A Love Story *TIBS FAV.™

Lupe Fiasco took a 'remix' to another level, ironically on the "Angels" single from Diddy ("We invented the remix")  and Dirty Money. Lu utilizes his innate ability to metaphorically speak on society in a thought-provoking manner, making the remix his own record by incorporating the existing vocals and fitting his verses around them. If that's not genius enough, his verses gave the hook new interpretations. You may recall that this record inspired my own lengthy interpretations of Lupe's word for word lyrics - they were that thought-provoking. It's just scary how fantastic Lupe made "Angels" his own record, keeping in mind his own original work is on the horizon.

In a related note, the "Angels RMX" appears on Lupe Fiasco's Thanksgiving-released mixtape: Enemy Of The State: A Love Story, which has amassed over 15K downloads on Gowhere alone! Lupe may not go in-depth with metaphors and a story like he does on "Angels" but the messages are still quite thought-provoking, especially in "The National Anthem", "Popular Demand", and... aw hell, you gotta do yourself a favor and listen/DL Enemy Of The State: A Love Story. Christmas is rapidly approaching, which is relevant beyond the obvious as it's  also the release date of Lupe's next mixtape, Friend Of The People. Sorry Santa, but whatever you get me this year won't compare.

1.
S-Preme "Top Of The World"
Producer: Mr. Music - FULL, CDQ, Track off the mixtape, S-Preme's The Sicktape: Volume Two *TIBS FAV.™

S-Preme's The Sicktape: Volume Two has yet to leave my rotation as I continue to shuffle between that, Lupe's mixtape above, and a mix of other *Tibs Favs.™ of the past couple months. The originality and well-executed concept of the mixtape as a whole cannot be ignored. Preme makes his mark as a true rising artist in the game with the body of work illustrated on ST2 and we can't stress enough at GWHH to give this guy a listen. Not only does the mixtape flow beautifully musically and conceptually, but the mixtape also boasts at least a handful of tracks ("Goin' Away", "V.I.P.", "Home", Krewella's "Akira Saves Me") that can stand on its own with high replay value. Alas, "Top Of The World" is the choice, helped in part by my favorite verse of the mixtape - the majority of which is extracted below:

"Tryin to run this game like a board,
And when I'm bored I look for connects for (four),
A way into a way way way bigger booth,
A ladder to the top and I hope they don't shoot (chute),
Sorry, it isn't a game, it's just life,
I ain't lookin' for trouble,
Under my bubble's just dice,
And ya'll ain't gotta clue,
So guess who about to move to a new avenue,
I collect my cash and then I pass go
But I never leave my city finna Chi-ca-go
Where there ain't no risk of a Jenga,
I'm just tryin' to make my life a little better overall"

- S-Preme
If you're keeping score at home, that's references to: Connect 4, Chutes & Ladders, Sorry, The Game of Life, Trouble, Boggle, Clue, Monopoly, and Jenga. Yeah. And if he wanted to, Preme prolly coulda forced a couple more games like Risk or Hungry Hungry Hippos in there, but what he did spit was actually delivered naturally - the key to making that verse work. On top of that, the last bridge of "Top Of The World" epitomizes the record's inspiring value. It's an especially powerful record because it evokes a resonating quality to listeners of all kind to reflect on one's personal goals and channel their desire to achieve them. And that's a big reason why music is considered the universal language.

So if you haven't gotten the hint already, make sure you grab S-Preme's The Sicktape: Volume Two. By clicking that link, you can easily stream track by track so it can't be any easier than that! No waiting for a .zip file, no excuses. Enjoy!
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THE BEST POSTS OF NOVEMBER:

GWHH New Blood

GWHH Interview: Infinity (producer of R. Kelly's "Echo") // R.O.E. // Dude 'N Nem

GWHH Twitterview: Kevin Durant & Jeff Green

GWHH Review: Felt 'Vol. 3 (A Tribute To Rosie Perez)'

Wale vs. 50 Cent

International Artist du Jour

NEW Limited G Tees Available

NEW Jeff Pak Forever Comics

PREVIOUSLY:

Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™: October, 2009

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What do you think? Create a profile and comment!

~ Sgt. Tibs


Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™: October, 2009

Thumbnail image for GWHH Halloween.JPG

Alas, October finally gets the reflection it deserves! It was a busy end of the month of content on GWHH, with mixtape after mixtape bein' dropped before Halloween, so I took a little extra time to digest everything. Below, check out my fresh perspective on the 5 MUST-DLs of the month, along with the month in interesting posts as well. There's a little somethin' for everyone as it turns out. So be sure to grab these tracks in case you missed and create a profile so you can drop a comment and let us know what you think! Enjoy!

5.
R. Kelly "Religious"
Producer: Todd Dickson - FULL, CDQ, Track off upcoming album, Untitled *TIBS FAV.™

Believe it or not, I'm not the biggest fan of R. Kelly - really only sticking 2 his slow stuff. "I Believe I Can Fly" is what takes me back¹ but in general R. Kelly was really poppin' off when I wasn't that into R&B, certainly not like how I am now. Nonetheless, "Religious" struck a chord w/ me - a slow jam that explores the overused R&B topic of the adoration of a woman and puts a unique touch on the subject. A touch that is nowhere near cliche, which especially speaks to R. Kelly's talent to bring some freshness to a common topic. He does so through the masterful chorus: "There's somethin' religious about you.. (I wanna testify) there's somethin' church about you, I just want to tell the world, you're my girl". On paper it looks simple, but on the chorus, and from the 1:50 mark on especially, R. Kelly's special voice and range is really incredible that you have to hear its delivery to really grasp what I'm tryin' to convey. Untitled is shaping up to be a real nice album with "Religious", "Echo", "Number One", and "Superman High". Simply put, there's not enough > signs that can be placed in between "Religious" and "Superman High".
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¹ Space Jam Soundtrack FTW! "Fly Like An Eagle", "Basketball Jones".. Mama Tibs  and Lil' Tibs vibed with this one.

4.
Wale "Beautiful Bliss" f/ J. Cole & Melanie Fiona
Producer: DJ Green Lantern & Mark Ronson - FULL, CDQ, Track off upcoming album, Attention Deficit *TIBS FAV.™

"Beautiful Bliss" - a wonderful collabo between three artists who will be household names this time next year. With Attention Deficit set to drop tomorrow, my favorite track off the album (so far) comes complete with relevant verses, a beautiful and catchy hook, and high-quality production. The latter of which (coincidentally?) draws upon Lupe Fiasco's "Theme Music To A Drive By" - each acting as perfect 'coast' music. I like to define 'coast' music as a jam that you'd love to ride to in the car with the sun setting and the windows down. Where "Beautiful Bliss"'s coastability¹ succeeds over "Theme Music To A Driveby"'s is through the lyrics. Starting with the hook, Melanie Fiona croons about a similar image to what I described - the sun shining on a beautiful day. J. Cole's statement on the 2nd verse, "All I want to do is ball on TV and (watch) ESPN" supports that.. and that's not even close to the kid's best line. The fury he spits on the 2nd half of that verse is just plain ridiculous. Then of course you have Wale, doin' his thing on the other two verses - describing his beautiful bliss and placing a few clever wordplay metaphors in there, like his caps lock hidden meaning to conclude the record. So while we still experience some fantastic, sunny weather in November, get this track in your ride asap and you'll feel what I'm talkin' about. And not only is Attention Deficit in stores tomorrow, Melanie Fiona's The Bridge will be available in physical form as well. Support support!
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¹ #Shoutout Jay Bilas

3.
Mike Posner "Speed Of Sound" f/ Big Sean
Producer: Block Beattaz - FULL, CDQ, Track off the mixtape, One Foot Out The Door *TIBS FAV.™

Like "Beautiful Bliss" above, Mike Posner & Big Sean describe some of the newfound pleasures that they are now experiencing as major buzz artists in today's urban music industry. "Speed Of Sound" separates itself by also illustrating the hard work, the grind, and the overall negatives that come with livin' life at the fast lane that becoming a popular artist forces you into like it was a CTA bus. Posner sets up the story in the first verse by reflecting on where he was a year ago, his rise to popularity, and then bringing you down by conveying his loneliness. Big Sean continues the theme in the third verse, discussing how he's in and out of relationships with a killer Lasik punchline to boot. On top of it all comes a scratched up, addicting hook that'll have you googling for other forms of Nicotine. Strangely enough, the overall vibe of the song is a comfortable, relaxing one that will leave you less stressed out if your life is paralleling Posner's - moving at the speed of sound. And given society's on-the-go mentality, I'm sure we're not alone.

2.
David Banner "Something Is Wrong RMX" f/ Lisa Ivey, Rhymefest, Naledge, & Twista
Producer: 9th Wonder - FULL, CDQ *TIBS FAV.™

Chills. From 0:00 to 4:20. Any extraction of an interview is an automatic tone-setter - a positive one at that. Some of my favorite 2Pac records began with extracted interviews or news coverage ("The Uppercut", "Runnin' (Dyin' To Live)", and the Intro to Me Against The World) and they have such a profound, powerful effect on your emotions. Likewise, the "Something Is Wrong RMX" begins with a disturbing news interview that brings you down to earth and focuses your attention solely on the record. In comes Lisa Ivey with her beautiful, soulful hook, reminiscent of some old school 90s hooks, setting up the positive message all parties involved convey. Literally every MC rocks the mic with messages that I can go on all day extracting. Chicago represents well on the RMX with Rhymefest, Naledge, and Twista batting cleanup and knockin' a grand slam out onto Sheffield¹. This is the positivity of hip hop that sometimes gets overlooked - artists using their direct connection with the urban community, using hip hop as their platform to reach the youth and affect positive change that really resonates. The formative years for today's youth can be affected emotionally very powerfully with music and seeing some of Chicago's finest join David Banner and 9th Wonder for this wonderful remix record is a very welcoming sight. Don't just download this track for yourself, but share it with others, play it out loud, get Twista's verse down and rhyme it a capella to a group of friends², whatever!
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¹ Sheffield - the street behind right field at Wrigley Field. Wouldn't it be awesome to see a home run derby at Wrigley featuring hip hop artists? Who can't see Twista doin' his best Prince Fielder impression next October.. you know, since Wrigley's schedule will be wide open.. smh.
² Major bonus points if you can really pull that off... easily a feature on Gowhere if you send in a YouTube link, haha.

1.
Lupe Fiasco "Fire"
FULL, CDQ *TIBS FAV.™

It was tough to decide between the top two; in the end, "Fire" wins out because of its high replayability¹ but of course, you can't go wrong with any of these five records. Who didn't flip out once those first few Hendrix guitar riffs rang through your speakers? The sheer originality in the sample/production - for it to become a hip hop production - acted as a canvas that Lupe Fiasco emphatically utilized to shout (loudly) that he's back. The wordplay, the metaphors.. there's no one in the game that does it better today, period. Peep:

"Wish ya well like a wishin well wisher wish itself
It fell at first so now I sail with ya
If it happen to sink, I pitch in with pales
And pitchers, bucket and cup it back to the river
Then cover the leak with garbage pail kid stickers
{dynamite} and first aid the way ya saviors"

...

"Bully or I bogard, bodacious so I'm humphrey
I used to rubber band, but now I got a bungee
If you let me expand, that refers to the money,
Gucci's all good, Chanel is all chummy
And that ain't even for me, my honey and my mommy
I'd rather be bummy, nappy on top
Cipriani in my tummy, the fade is for the fans
Not even for my fans, its more for like the brand"

- Lupe Fiasco
Bottom line: Lupe Fiasco uses a Jimi Hendrix sample to not only come back with a vengeance, but also to attract fans outside hip hop to his talent. I passed this record along to some of my rock friends who were immediately amazed and are now giving Lupe Fiasco and hip hop a closer listen. Remember folks, there are many casual music fans who are misguided by the negative perception and glorification of hip hop, so much so that they won't listen to any hip hop. Many of those same people don't really know just how much positive hip hop out there exists. It's our job to let them know!
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¹ #Shoutout Jay Bilas
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THE BEST POSTS OF OCTOBER:

GWHH Review: Lupe Fiasco LIVE @ Congress Theater 10.29.09

GWHH Interview w/ Really Doe

Chicago's Olympic Bid Falls Short

Happy Birthday Sgt. Tibs

The Five One Release NEW Track & Tee

S-Preme Freestyles In The Car

Up and Coming Chicago Artists featured on Compilation Mixtape

NBC Must-See Comedy Thursdays Like Hip Hop

NEW Jeff Pak Forever Comics

PREVIOUSLY:

Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™: September, 2009

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What do you think? Create a profile and comment!

~ Sgt. Tibs

Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™: September, 2009

september-autumn.jpg

Sure, we're a week into October already, but that doesn't mean we can't bask in the month that was September. It's GWHH's monthly recap of my 5 favorite tracks of September with some bonus links of the best posts of September at the bottom. I'm not much for rankings but the system below has been a great way to recap the month of must-have tracks for the readers who may have missed it. For those who are up on their Gowhere, it won't hurt to read my fresh commentary as time usually inspires another perspective. Be sure to create a profile so you can drop a comment and let us know what you think! Enjoy!

5.
Producer: Kerry "Krucial" Brothers & Alicia Keys - FULL, CDQ, 1st Single off upcoming album, The Element Of Freedom *TIBS FAV.™


You know we post R&B and Alicia Keys represents the genre in the monthly recap with the release of her first single "Doesn't Mean Anything". I gushed about it on first listen and still stand by its brilliance a few weeks later.

Quick tangent: do you know anyone who doesn't like Alicia Keys? Not that I've talked about the topic with everyone I know, but I haven't had anyone say anything negative 2 me about her, ever. Warrants mentioning that I also haven't met Mashonda.

Somewhat longer tangent: I have, however, had people talk to me about R&B, thinking that I like the genre more than hip hop based on my daily favorites. I'd figure I'd clear the air. There's no doubt I love R&B as well as hip hop but here's my general mindset about the two genres. I like hip hop more; I was brought up on it, there's 100x more creativity, and my all-time favorite artists are predominantly hip hop. What people are noticing however is very understandable and here's why (WARNING: Italics alert): I like more mainstream R&B artists than mainstream hip hop artists. Also contributing to the above notion is that I have a much better grasp on the hip hop genre overall (mainstream and underground) than R&B, where my reach to underground R&B artists is comparatively limited. Because of that, the majority of the R&B on the site comes from mainstream R&B artists. It also helps that there's not nearly as many underground R&B artists to underground hip hop artists. There is one genre that reigns over all tho: country (LMAO!) good.

4.
Producer: 6th Sense - FULL, CDQ, Track off the NBA Live 10 Soundtrack *TIBS FAV.™

Flat out this is an uptempo, fresh hip hop track from two of the XXL freshmen: Mickey Factz & B.o.B. You get a rockish and a dance feel in the production, which results in a unique production. B.o.B. kills the hook, lyrically and vocally, reeling you in right away. Factz' verses grow on you over time and overall, you got a track that appeals to mainstream and underground fans alike. It's not your dumbed down hit either, yet you can still dance (or spaz?) 2 this one. The rare combination of all of the above elements make it the anthem of NBA Live 10, to which my deep affections for were made public HERE. And now for our first ever commercial in a Fav. 5 post, enjoy "Mind Got Blown" and NBA Live 10 below :D



3
.

Producer: 9th Wonder - Track off the album, Survival Skills *TIBS FAV.™

Gotta say this combination was unexpected when I first saw the names 2gether. All four artists 2gether have previously never worked 2gether :D ...Well besides KRS-One & Buckshot obviously. But the mix of all four results in a must-have track that appears on the duo's album, Survival Skills. Melanie Fiona kicks off the track from the very first second, illustrating her range and versatility whilst pulling in the listener. Then once you digest the track a little more, you'll learn to appreciate the verses and punchlines of all 3. This could have been number one this month if... Naledge takes his signature sports references to another level by cleverly name dropping Jackie Moon Brian Scalabrine. I'm surprised he hasn't been name-dropped yet by anyone quite frankly, especially after D-Rose made him famous for reasons beyond his striking resemblance to the Will Ferrell Semi-Pro character (hah!) and his generally inept basketball skills. And yes, I can't wait for the NBA season to start... I even did a fantasy basketball mock draft last night. I digress.
2.

Savant "'Til Death Do Us Part"
Producer: DJ Jesaya - FULL, CDQ, Track off the EP, The Delayed Entry EP *TIBS FAV.™

Sa-who? Savant, that's who! This September I was introduced to the MC w/ Chicago ties and he made quite the first impression on me with "'Til Death Do Us Part". The rhyme structure, use of the sample, and the overall relevant messages about serious relationships ALL stood out on its own. Combine all three and you got a track that everyone will at least appreciate and one that I'm confident hip hop fans will really enjoy. No, this wasn't the most replayed track of the month for me; quite honestly, this doesn't set the right mood before goin' out on the town, BUT this is one that I have vibed with when I just want to kick back and really listen 2 music. Be on the lookout for more from Savant on GWHH in the near future!

"[I really don't think] It's even worth it to invest when my best is 10 times better than any man's best
[I really don't think] That any man's best could manifest if he's obsessed with every set of double D cup.. breasts"
1.

Kid Cudi "Sky Might Fall"
Producer: Kanye West - Track off the album, Man On The Moon: The End of Day *TIBS FAV.™

The number one spot may come off as a shock to you because this gem off of Kid Cudi's debut album, Man On The Moon: The End of Day, is not necessarily new. A preliminary version of the song leaked back in the spring and I've been bumpin' it at an insane amount ever since (it's tops in my iTunes Top 25). The snippet initially leaked and perfectly matched the Transformers 2 trailer with its ominous, powerful tone; it's sad really that it wasn't used officially. Then with the album's release this September came the final version, which bore addition to a mini 3rd verse and an orchestra. Love renewed. The added verse (maybe breakdown is a better term?) is oddly inspiring and concludes the track perfectly. Adding an orchestra to a production for me is like adding bacon to a cheeseburger (yes, please). And the Kanye West-produced track is already masterful in its own right. While some say it's a leftover 808s beat, I acknowledge that it's similar, still different, and wonder aloud for more.

As for what was existing in the spring, Kid Cudi delivers one of his highest quality verses with the vivid imagery he depicts in the second verse (extracted below), taking the listener (well, me at least) into another zone - a zone that has inspired creativity in my outside design work and more. In fact, Kid Cudi's music as a whole has become my go-to option when I gotta think creatively on the grind. He's one of the few artists I feel like I'm vibing with on the same level when he raps or sings. "Sky Might Fall" was one of the records that kept me moving forward past the obstacles of the design process, in turn creating a profound personal experience only matched by a select few songs/artists. Is there a song or artist that does the same for you?

"Grey clouds stuck together fam,
Lightning piercing through another land
Over the desert wit' the lost play,
Soul searching each an' every way,
And then you see tha,
Awesome sounds so profound,
When it... It'll grip you...you can see it,
If you hear it you can feel it too,
Somethin' special I am runnin' to,
'Til then I go,
Away very far away,
To another universe where all the people say,
Its the new new place for the special to embrace,
Like a martian who seemingly,
Wandered out the place,
Take what you need from the valley of tha hope where,
Even if you dry you'll be floatin' higher up,
You can say bye bye bye,
Sky might be fallin' but remember you can fly high"

- Kid Cudi "Sky Might Fall"

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THE BEST POSTS OF SEPTEMBER:

GWHH Interviews: S-Preme, Don Cannon, Hollywood Holt, Playaz Circle

GWHH Event Coverage: Sprite Green x RSVP Gallery Presents G.O.O.D. Music, Common & The Roots @ The Shrine (Pt. 2), Jay-Z @ HOB, Lupe Fiasco @ Hawkapalooza, LA & Mr. Music @ Debonair 

Nas: Open Letter To Chicago's 'Young Warriors' (R.I.P. Derrion Albert)

Lupe Fiasco Joins Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb

Chicago's 2016 Olympic Bid Falls Short

Chicago Considers the Next Century

Michael Jordan Inducted in Hall of Fame

Jeff Pak Forever Comics

LA & Mr. Music Featured in RedEye

S-Preme - The SickTape Vol. 2 [Trailer]

PREVIOUSLY:

Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™: August, 2009

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What do you think? Create a profile and comment!

~ Sgt. Tibs

Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™: August, 2009

Thumbnail image for august.jpg

With the end of August comes the end of summer, at least for us Northern Hemispherians, and while Chicago didn't have much of one, we were still able to enjoy a flurry of hot new tracks. I'm not much for rankings but the system below has been a great way to recap the month of must-have tracks for the readers who may have missed it. For those who are up on their Gowhere, it won't hurt to read my fresh commentary as time usually adds another perspective. The post doesn't conclude at #1, however, as you can also catch up with quick-hit links to the month's exclusive coverage, interviews, and unique posts. Be sure to create a profile so you can drop a comment and let us know what you think! Enjoy!

5.
Producer: IlL Meel - FULL, CDQ, Track off upcoming mixtape, Tale Of Two's City Vol. 3: Rise & Fall *TIBS FAV.™

Chicago representative Add-2 kicks off this month's list, which is fitting given the wonderful intro of "Superman". The beat immediately reminded me of a Just Blaze banger, which Add-2 uses as a canvas for his versatility. With this production, you have to come hard and Add-2 does so, illustrating bravado that has never been higher. The middle of the first verse pricks up your ears if they haven't been already. Right around his 'insane asylum' line, Add-2 hits the zone, which carries over into the 2nd verse. While he isn't the first to name-drop Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt, he delivers the punchline like he's Norm MacDonald on Conan. The last verse is just a testament to his skill as a fast-spitter, bringing back some old school Chicago flavor. He doesn't say much but it's entertaining to try and decipher. Outside of a somewhat repetitive chorus, "Superman" soars above the rest and is a record that you should look at from this Chicago MC on the come-up.


4
.
Producer: Blended Babies - FULL, CDQ, Track off upcoming album, AIM *TIBS FAV.™

"Problems" is a fitting title for this record that causes nothing but such. The eclectic mix of the Fanesha Fabre vocals, Blended Babies production, and Twista's signature break-neck flow make for a record that is out of the ordinary and should be appreciated just for that. It's Twista's thought-provoking lyrics that take the track to another level as he questions society's reactions to today's government. I once again have to focus on this gem,

"The future is bright, or will it be weary?
Do I need to pay attention to conspiracy theories?
[Question] Is the government systematically destroying the population for the progress of one dominant nation?
Smile, even if the landlord callin', dodge 'em.. but that's the least of your problems."
In the end, it's messages like these that got me into hip hop in the first place. If you could utilize your talents to evoke emotions and meaningful analysis of society today, then that is simply powerful. Twista succeeded here, over a record that has the mainstream appeal (and potential outreach to the masses) that some songs with similar messages lack.

3.

Producer: Boi-1da - FULL, CDQ (FINAL MASTER), Track off upcoming More Than A Game Soundtrack *TIBS FAV.™

Now this is a track that no one has slept on and how could you not given the star power involved? Easily the biggest collaboration in hip hop since "Swagga Like Us", "Forever" contains a hard production that allows each rapper to deliver signature punchlines and ultimately create an inspiring 'let's go!' record.

Where to begin? Well, let's start off with Drake who continues his hot streak of working with the hottest artists today. He puts his signature style on the sung, anthemic hook and comes through with a strong verse, making sure he's not outshined by his more established co-stars. Kanye goes in next and while I'm starting to tire of this new flow of his, it is overshadowed once again by his lyrical prowess and even moreso with his delivery. He has the best concluding line of the four, the rather shocking, "I used to want this thing forever, now you can have it back!". While it's well documented that I'm not the biggest Weezy fan out there, I don't think he's detrimental on this record and his appearance on "Forever" is another example of why I like him in small doses. Finally, Eminem bats cleanup and hits a grand slam outta the park! As much as this track enhances Drake's status in the game, it also solidifies Eminem's status as a top MC in the game today. Relapse was not as well-received as Eminem may have hoped and the general sense I get is that the comeback album did not catapult him to the levels of Lil' Wayne and Kanye West today. But count me among the millions who think Eminem's flow on "Forever" is simply untouchable.. He fully hits his stride midway through his verse with lines that you have to rewind multiple times to catch. I'll just drop 'em below for ya. You know what to do if you haven't already, but I'm confident the DL count will be making Bill Murray-esque baby steps at this point.

2.

Really Doe "Mesmerized" f/ Danny Klein [iTunes]
FULL, CDQ, Track off the album, First Impressions *TIBS FAV.™


It's easy to dub "Mesmerized" as the 2009 "Superstar". The similarites are clear on the surface: African-American rapper rings powerfully on the verses, white guy with a mohawk sings an addicting chorus while doubling as the addition of a unique voice for any sort of hook in urban music, all over a production that is as far away from industry standards as Johnny Drama's golf ball is to the hole. Looking beyond the surface, we come to discover that  instead of "easy", it's lazy to dub "Mesmerized" as the 2009 "Superstar".

For starters, the concepts are very different. Really Doe evokes his stresses over the ups and downs of dating a girl, emphasizing that he's not committing in a first verse that reels you into the story. And if that wasn't emphasized enough by Really Doe, Danny Klein certainly hammers the point home with his addicting, yet rather simplistic chorus. His bridge at the end keeps the chorus bearable for me after all the listens I have given "Mesmerized" this month, yet the minor flaw of too much repetition on the chorus has pushed people away from the song. Lastly, it warrants mentioning that "Mesmerized" benefits from some superb production. The Nintendo-esque melody captures your attention upon first listen, yet upon further listens, you'll notice the masterful bass guitar that adds another dimension to the record. Overall, I doubt this will be a record that I come back to consistently years from now, but it is one that I still have yet to kick out of my rotation and it's one you should put in yours if you haven't already.

1.

Trey Songz "Black Roses" [iTunes]
Producer: Bei Meijor - FULL, CDQ, Track off the album, Ready *TIBS FAV.™



Trey Songz is the first R&B singer to take the crown in my monthly recaps and deservedly so for his unique record off the brand new album, Ready, "Black Roses". In a genre whose content is so limited nowadays, Trey Songz refreshes R&B fans throughout the whole album, but specifically with the different concept of "Black Roses". The record is about a dying relationship, one that could have worked if both parties had given their all but one that has reached the point where you can't go back. Consequently, Trey Songz provides vivid (and that's an understatement) imagery with the 'special delivery' of black roses to end the relationship. It's hard to keep track of the powerful lines on one hand but the two that jumped out at me are as follows.

On the hook: "Just listen to me, we can't go wrong, pretending to be, like we're strong."
The beginning of the second verse: "Who knew our love would ever be / Called a memory / Who knew my home for happiness / Would soon be misery"

Little things like the intro, the effects on the beginnings of the first and second verses,  and Songz' last croon of 'awaaayyy' in the last hook is a microcosm of his success in enhancing each song with the little things. The background vocals and adlibs in general on Ready help the album stand out even more. Trey's hip hop background combined with his superb voice and singing ability really blossom on Ready, resulting in his best album yet, a potential #1 slot on the Billboard charts, and his well-deserved launch into superstardom! (So yeah, go out and buy it!)

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THE BEST POSTS OF AUGUST:

GWHH Interviews: Trey Songz, Raekwon, The Legendary Traxster, Melanie Fiona, Que (Of Day26), Bijou, Amadi Magazine

Hard Rock VIP Lounge Lollapalooza Weekend Coverage (Pt. 2) (Pt. 3) (Pt. 4) (Pt. 5)

Ludacris @ Heineken Red Star Soul

iStandard Producer Showcase

Gowhere Hip Hop Radio Commercial

Limited G FOR SALE in St. Alfred


PREVIOUSLY:

Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™: July, 2009

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What do you think? Create a profile and comment!

~ Sgt. Tibs


Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™: July, 2009

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The beginning of a new month doubles as the time to recap the month that was. It was a busy and exciting July for GWHH as we re-directed to our new home here at ChicagoNow.com and provided a lot of exclusive coverage and interviews with a wide variety of well-known names. For those unfamiliar with the concept, the idea behind our monthly recaps is to provide fresh commentary on my Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™ of the month and provide readers a chance to download the must-have tracks they may have missed. On top of that, there are links to all of the aforementioned coverage, interviews, and unique posts underneath my choice for #1. Remember to create a profile so you can drop a comment and let me know what you think of the choices. Enjoy!

5.
S-Preme "Radio"
Producer: Aeon - FULL, CDQ, Track off upcoming mixtape, The SickTape: Volume 2 *TIBS FAV.™

Chicago MC, S-Preme, cracks open the top 5 with his radio-friendly hip hop hit, appropriately titled "Radio". Preme takes listeners on a journey, painting a picture of the struggles, ups, downs, and aspirations of an upcoming aritsts like himself. His verses are clearly the strongest aspect of the record as S-Preme earns the crown for line of the month.

"They say it's hard to break in / Like ADT, it takes a whole lotta waitin' / Makin' it is the same as gettin' paid as a doctor / you gotta have a whole lot of patience (patients)"

Not a whole lot to critique on "Radio"; if I had to add one constructive comment, the looped beat combined with the chorus get repetitive after awhile, but it's the type of hook and harmony that you won't be able to get out of your head the rest of the day. That said, it's a success! Don't sleep on some more talent to come outta the Chi as Preme is preparing his SickTape: Volume 2. Scary part: I'm sittin' on a couple tracks that are even better than "Radio"... so don't change that dial from GWHH anytime soon.

4.

The Five One "Got 'Til It's Gone RMX" f/ Janet Jackson
FULL, CDQ, Track off the project, 5109: The Remix Album *TIBS FAV.™

If you haven't noticed by now, The Five One have been droppin' weekly RMXs for their year-long project, 5109: The Remix Album. What you may not realize even if you have noticed is that The Five One aren't simply takin' an instrumental, recordin' a freestyle, then releasing it. Rather, the D.C. group is putting their own original spin on tracks, sometimes mashing up genres and production to create an entirely different sound and concept. One of their premiere RMXs was released in July as The Five One flipped Janet Jackson's "Got 'Til It's Gone". The video game references in Green's 1st verse are still so captivating. The song pretty much has it all: memorable lyrics with a message, solo spots for instrumentation, and an overall vibe that you can't help but sit back and appreciate. Truthfully, this isn't the type of song I'm bumpin' in my car but when I just want to reflect and think, The Five One strikes the right chord with "Got 'Til It's Gone".

3.

Eminem "The Warning [Mariah Carey & Nick Cannon Diss]"
Producer: Dr. Dre - FULL, CDQ *TIBS FAV.™

Less than a week since Eminem dropped the diss track heard round the world, "The Warning" is still sending shockwaves across the world. The reason why this was such a big story is two-fold: the magnitude of the stars involved and the magnitude of details Eminem spits about his relationship with Mariah Carey. For those unfamiliar with their background history, Complex (as I expected) came thru with a detailed timeline of Eminem and Mariah Carey.

The song itself is a microcosm of Eminem in his prime. His energetic fury ionically comes off effortless as Eminem's lyrics are both shocking and captivating over a rhyme pattern that is unpredictable yet easy to follow. "The Warning" is an instant addition to the major leagues of extraordinary diss tracks along with the likes of "Ether", "The Bitch In Yoo", and NOT Vida Guerra dissing The Game. There's no question that "The Warning" will become a timeless diss track, simply put.

As an update, Nick Cannon has reacted by downplaying the effect of the Eminem diss and trying to take the high road claiming he's "changing the world one hater at a time". More tweets from Nick Cannon after the incident follow suit and you can click HERE for a nice recap. Mariah has yet to publicaly say or tweet anything. Honestly, how do they come back from this? It's in their best interest to just lay low and let the chatter die down 'til it's somewhat irrelevant; too bad "The Warning" was more than just a warning because Eminem did some irreversible damage to Mariah Carey's credibility. No matter how Mariah and Nick address the diss, people will believe Em's side of the story. And with this widely received track pleasing Eminem fans all over the world, Eminem re-created a large buzz that I hope he rides smoothly into his upcoming album, Relapse 2.

2.

Twista "Alright" f/ Kanye West
Producer: Kanye West & No I.D. - FULL, CDQ, Bonus Track off the album, Category F5 *TIBS FAV.™

Easily my favorite and most replayable track from Twista's Category F5, Kanye West & No I.D. present an amazing production based around powerful percussion and an addicting sample that is strong enough to stand alone as the hook. Per usual, Kanye's punchlines are on point, with the Entourage/Ari line acting as the defining line of the verse. Twista's flow takes over the record when he hits the "Mercedes Benz" line in the 2nd verse. The drums enhance that part and the rest of the verse, which in general, is as addicting as the chorus. This Twista and Kanye West collaboration reminded many of "Slow Jamz" and "Overnight Celebrity" with many of the same feedback saying "Alright" wasn't on that level. I agree, "Alright" isn't on their level, it's one above. Who woulda thought a one word hook on repeat would be on a track that I like so much? Haha. "Alright" just goes to show that sometimes, less is more.

1.

Lupe Fiasco "Shining Down" f/ Matthew Santos [iTunes]
Producer: Soundtrakk - FULL, CDQ, 1st Single off upcoming album, Lasers *TIBS FAV.™

Lupe Fiasco and Matthew Santos have done it again! They kicked off the month with the official version of "Shining Down" acting as the clear favorite for my #1 spot with nothin'  else really comin' close. No need to rehash my detailed analysis of Lupe's intricate lyrics from my last post on "Shining Down", but what I do want to comment on is the state of mainstream radio today.

It bothers me that there aren't more songs like "Shining Down" gettin' airplay while feel-good dance songs with little depth (i.e. Black Eyed Peas) are played multiple times an hour. There are even more songs like "Shining Down" that have the perfect mix of relevant messages combined with a catchy, feel good vibe that a lot of people would and do enjoy. Unfortunately, "Shining Down" won't single-handedly break corporate radio's trendy playlist and early signs show that the single won't match "Superstar"'s mainstream success as well. Alas, "Shining Down" is an excellent piece of social commentary that Lupe Fiasco is effectively reaching to his growing legions of fans. With Lasers, I can only expect that Lupe Fiasco will push the bar even higher for hip hop and himself - all the while affecting positive change in today's culture. Needless to say, it's gonna be an exciting rest of the year!

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THE BEST POSTS OF JULY:

Gowhere Hip Hop Exclusive Interview: Matthew Santos

Gowhere Hip Hop Exclusive Interview: Sammie

Red Bull Big Tune Recap f/ Little Brother & Just Blaze

Rhymefest & Mikkey Halsted LIVE @ Wild Hare

Gowhere Hip Hop Exclusive Interview: Twista

John Legend LIVE @ Ravinia

Gowhere Hip Hop Announces Re-Direct To ChicagoNow.com

LA & Mr. Music Release Debut Album, What Do You Do?

The Five One x Limited G x GWHH Tribute Tees Photoshoot

Mike Posner, Mic Terror, & Curren$y LIVE @ Debonair

Michael Jackson Transcendence

PREVIOUSLY:

Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™: June, 2009

~ Sgt. Tibs


Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™: May, 2009

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The beginning of a new month is the beginning of a NEW segment for GWHH: presenting the Fav. 5 *TIBS FAVS.™: May, 2009. I garner a ton of feedback from friends and followers of the website alike - some of whom are not the type of people who scour the web daily 2 check GWHH. Consequently, they miss some music if they fall behind and they always ask the same question: what's the one song I should download?

Well, this end of the month segment is catered to those who fell behind while also doubling as a fresh reflection at the music leaked during the month that was. Daily visitors likely have all the songs below already but should enjoy the extended commentary on each and see how I ranked them.

Finally, today's post doubles as the debut of the revamped *Tibs Fav.™ system. Long-time followers of the site are undoubtedly familiar with my recommendation system, but what separates the good tracks from the great? The ALL CAPS *Tibs Fav.™ is the answer. Note the definition below and check out the NEW What is a *Tibs Fav.™? page as well.

*TIBS FAV.™: The ALL CAPS denotes that this track is a MUST-DL record that you should just drop what you're doing and click the download link. This type of rating is a rare achievement; only a handful of songs earn such status a month.

So without further adieu, here are my fav. 5 songs of the month of May, in reverse order of course!

5.

Eminem "Déjà Vu"

Producer: Dr. Dre - FULL, CDQ, Track off the album, Relapse *TIBS FAV.™

"Déjà Vu" is a powerful illustration of the hardships of Eminem's drug addiction and hands down my favorite record off an otherwise lackluster comeback album. Eminem captures any audience with his story about the pills, the alcohol, and the drugs and makes them care. I cannot imagine how powerful this record reverberates in those who deal with a similar addiction, but even for those who don't *raises hand*, we can feel the emotion poured out in his story and the masterful chorus. You can't help but sing along at the end of the chorus over Dre's throwback production. "Déjà Vu" could have easily fit on The Marshall Mathers LP or The Eminem Show and reminds me of the vibe of those two classic albums. And for good measure, "Déjà Vu" doubles as the perfect pre-game song for the September 13th matchup between the Cowboys and Buccaneers. Get on it FOX!

4.

Trey Songz "First Date Sex"

Producer: Mick Schultz - FULL, CDQ, Track over Jeremih's "Birthday Sex" *TIBS FAV.™

While the country is currently buzzing to Jeremih's "Birthday Sex" (especially Gemini's), I've graduated from the original and gravitated toward Trey Songz' interpretation called "First Date Sex". The song picks up momentum with Trey's brief, yet masterful ode 2 MJ¹ before he debuts an anthem of a chorus. So all my fellas out there, how excited are you to blast this on the way to pick up your date for the first time? And for comedy's sake, I'm tempted to put this on repeat while we make small talk just to see her reaction. If she notices and laughs, she gets a 2nd date; if she notices and is turned off, she's not my type anyway; and if she notices and starts singing along, I'm off to Rogers & Hollands in the morning.

3.

The Cool Kids "Champions"

Producer: Don Cannon - FULL, CDQ, Track off the mixtape, Gone Fishin' *TIBS FAV.™

Mikey Rocks, Chuck Inglish, & Don Cannon kick started May with this instant hit called "Champions". The sports metaphors are at a maximum over a dope production tailored to The Cool Kids. Can't help but have the chorus ringing thru my head when I'm out on the bball court; definitely gonna sing "Bank shot off the glass, peep my no look pass like..." when appropriate. Sadly this cut didn't make it in time for the hilarious Nike x Kobe x LeBron commercials (but "A Little Bit Cooler" did!). But since Kobe's still in it, we still got time! Who wouldn't want to see Puppet Kobe taunt Puppet LeBron with the NBA Title?² Or better yet, Dwight Howard and the Magic prevail so adidas can make their own puppet commercial with Superman (an adidas client) taunting Kobe & LeBron with his NBA Title?

Ahh, I digress. "Champions" is the best of the rawest cuts from the month of May. Get it.

2.

T.I. "Remember Me" f/ Mary J. Blige

FULL, CDQ, Track off upcoming album re-release, Paper Trail: Case Closed *TIBS FAV.™

Ok MJB, we won't forget! You didn't have to channel that early/mid-2000s in you; T.I. is a pretty big star and a year and a day isn't that long. Point blank, this single will take off like it's at O'Hare. What a brilliant strategy from T.I. & Co.! Leave the people with a powerful record that will resonate for the next 6 months when, before you know it, Tip will be outta jail. In fact, T.I. and his people deserve some sort of award for the way they are keeping him in the limelight while in jail and for the masterful handling of Paper Trail. In fact, let's call it the '10x Better Than Karl Rove Award for Music'. It'll grow on you, don't worry.

1.

Mr. Hudson "Supernova" f/ Kanye West

FULL, CDQ, 1st Single off upcoming album, Straight No Chaser *TIBS FAV.™

G.O.O.D. Music up and comer Mr. Hudson takes the top spot for the month of May featuring label boss, icon, (I could keep going) Kanye West. Upcoming artists pay attention: this is how you start off your 1st single. On 1st listen, you can't help but be entrapped by Mr. Hudson's unique and powerful voice. When the synths came in it was game over. The order with Kanye batting 2nd works perfectly as he takes the track to another level with his verse. The scary part is that this single could be huge if it was just Mr. Hudson. Kanye was nice, but Mr. Hudson murdered that hook. But with Kanye on it, everyone may deduce the same about Mr. Hudson. "Supernova" is simply too powerful, very relatable, and possesses the production that'll keep this on repeat for the start of summer. The record has all of the elements to be a landmark hit and I would go as far to say it follows suit with 808s & Heartbreak for bein' ahead of its time. Most anticipated video of the summer? I think so.

And as an added bonus, "Supernova" doubles as my pick for the "Song I Want An Entire Town To Randomly Break Out In While Marching In The Street". Follow me here. Take this scene from the Andy Samberg-flick 'Hot Rod'. Replace the song with "Supernova" cued at 2:25. You are Andy Samberg with 3 of your friends walking down Main St. as the town randomly breaks out into singing"You got it wrong if you say our love is gone..". Darrell Hammond as Sean Connery (fast forward to 4:25 btw), Olivia Newton-John circa 1978, and Eddie Murphy circa 1987 (lip-synching Kanye's ad-libs) are the three citizens in the street standing and singing to the sky. Tom Cruise is the riot-starter who throws a garbage can into an IKEA display window and starts jumping on the sofa. Let's make it happen!

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¹ Who do you think of when you see the initials MJ: Michael Jackson or Michael Jordan? (Jordan for me) Or maybe it's Magic Johnson? Moreover, are there any better initials than MJ? If only there was more time in the day to answer life's questions...

² And now for your NBA Finals prediction! Lakers in 6. The Lakers do not have the huge matchup problems that the Magic presented the Cavs with more athleticism and size in the front court. Besides, the Lakers have Kobe, Kid Cudi, Young Jeezy, Chris Brown, Russell Brand, and the token Asian in street clothes. How could they NOT lose?

THE BEST POSTS OF MAY:

GLC LIVE @ Wild Hare

GWHH EXCLUSIVE Interview: Trey Songz

Mickey Factz LIVE @ Wild Hare

GWHH Twitterview: Chris Paul

~ Sgt. Tibs

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Gowhere Hip Hop EXCLUSIVE Interview: Trey Songz

GWHH back again with another exclusive interview as Sgt. Tibs sits down with Grammy-nominated R&B singer, Trey Songz! We discuss details on Trey Songz' upcoming album, READY (in stores August 4th), the concept and inspiration behind the album's current single, "I Need A Girl", more information on Songz' new group with the likes of Jermaine Dupri, Nelly, and Johnta Austin: Ocean's 7, and Trey Songz' favorite part about Chicago. Definitely a MUST-WATCH for any fan of music to get to know one of the most talented artists doin' his thing today. Trey Songz doubles as one of my top 5 artists ever and it was a great thrill for Max G. and I to meet and talk to him so candidly. We would like to thank Trey Songz once again for all his cooperation along with Bobby Fisher and a special thanks to Nicole Pierce for setting it all up!

As an added treat for Trey Songz and new fans alike, make sure to hit the jump for the Top 5 *Tibs Favs.™ for Trey Songz RMXs. Songz seemingly jumps on every hot instrumental, showcasing his versatility and his talented rapping skills. If you don't have those tracks and the current single, "I Need A Girl", simply scroll below for the FREE downloads. Enjoy!

Reppin' Limited G, from left 2 right: Max G, Trey Songz, Sgt. Tibs


Top 5 *Tibs Favs.™: Trey Songz RMXs

5. Trey Songz "Itz Songz Snitches"

Yes Swizz, you shoulda put Trey on this one. Songz flips the iconic Swizzy lines into some of his own that u can't help but sing along to: "Chillin' in the Rover, listenin' to Hova..."

4. Trey Songz "First Date Sex"

Jeremih's "Birthday Sex" gets the RMX treatment for another clever interpretation from Songz. Highlights include Trey crooning "Beat It" like MJ and allusions 2 recent hits from Jamie Foxx & The-Dream.

3. Trey Songz "Swagga Like Songz"

Interesting how the top 3 are Kanye West productions, (hmm...) The first line is delivered with an unmatched amount of swag in the history of swag: "Who you think could do it like I does it, let's discuss it, G's respect him worldwide and the women wanna f*** him?"

2. Trey Songz "Bad News RMX"

This is a perfect illustration of Trey Songz' growth as an artist, more specifically as a rapper. Songz seemingly fails to take a breath in the last 2 minutes with break-neck raps and a ridiculous flow to match. He blows away some of his already solid efforts back when he started the mixtape tracks back in '07 with an interpretation of Pharrell's album, In My Mind. Throw on some chilling background vocals to Kanye's original for the first couple minutes and I can't even touch the original anymore.

1. Trey Songz "Comfortable RMX"

Songz' interpretation of Lil' Wayne's "Comfortable" narrowly edges "Bad News" for the cake. The production is a perfect compliment to his voice as Trey Songz creatively sings some rhymes and croons different choruses throughout to tell a very relatable story... and u get a clever 'Family Guy' reference 2 boot.

DL THE CURRENT SINGLE:

Trey Songz "I Need A Girl"

Producer: StarGate - FULL, CDQ, 2nd Single off upcoming album, READY *Tibs Fav.™

~ Max G. & Sgt. Tibs

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