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!
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.
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??
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'!
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.
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!
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!
THE BEST POSTS OF MAY: