Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mullyman - "Bmore Go Harder" (mp3)
Doo Dew Kids and Mullyman - "Step Aside" (mp3)
Mullyman - "Number One (wiRemix)" (mp3)
Mully's been on a pretty ridiculous grind the past few months, e-mailing out new songs and freestyles over popular tracks (that he called "wiRemixes," get it). And while I don't wanna get in the habit of posting them all, I thought I'd collect a few of my favorite recent ones here. I thought "Bmore Go Harder" was gonna be just a freestyle over DJ Khaled's "Go Hard," but it turns out DJ Booman did an original beat based on a loop of Jay-Z's line "I'ma go harder than Baltimore" from the official remix, and it's a killer track. And Booman and Jimmy Jones's group the Doo Dew Kidz is gearing up to release an album soon, and "Step Aside" with Mully is the first leak from that. And I had to post one freestyle, because Jamie Foxx's "Number One" is really one of my favorite songs of the last few weeks and Mully goes in on the beat, the way he works Jamie's hilarious Terrence Howard impression into the verse is what really puts it over the top for me.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

The 2009 DMV Awards, for music and entertainment in the D.C./Maryland/Virginia area, are accepting ballots right now for this year's awards. In the past these things have been pretty Washington-centric and dominated by D.C. artists, but I hope Baltimore really gets represented well this year.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Skarr Akbar - "Scholarship Chick" (mp3)
Skarr's latest single has been getting a lot of radio spins the last few weeks and I've been meaning to post it for a minute. Dude really came up with a hit record, from the concept down to all the shout outs of local colleges. I gotta say, though, that whoever did the hook is the worst AutoTune abuser since Ron Browz. Shit hurts my ears, people should just not mess with that technology if they can't make it sound good.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

2008's most posted topics on Government Names

I tag posts on Gov't Names to hopefully make it easier to navigate, especially for first time or occasional readers, just to make it easier for them to find just posts about the artist or topic they're interested in. But it's also become kind of an interesting way to measure how frequently I post about a given artist or topic, so I did a review of the most common tags I did this in 2007. I thought about not doing it again this year, partly because some people started getting invested in it as some important list to be on and catch feelings about me not posting about them enough or not tagging every post like I'm trying to sabotage them (what up Excel, lol). But really I'm just a stats nerd and it's something I think is cool to mess with, so fuck it:

1. flyer (306/361/1010)
2. mp3 (120/103/346)
3. Baltimore Club (114/76/259)
4. mixtape/album review (79/80/241)
5. 5 Seasons (65/102/267)
6. DJ Booman (45/38/95)
7. Sonar (44/39/108)
8. magazines/newspapers (41/29/119)
9. Ogun (39/40/120)
10. K-Swift (36/18/79)
11. Baltimore City Paper (34/36/120)
12. Turntable Club (33/53/96)
13. Unruly Records (30/11/53)
14. Bossman (29/42/139)
15. Blaq Starr (28/21/68)
16. battle (27/2/29)
17. Skarr Akbar (26/35/107)
18./19. (tie) Mullyman (25/36/117) / B.O.M.B. (25/24/52)
20. Sonny Brown (23/60/138)
21. Rod Lee (22/19/88)
22. Team Fifty (21/34/97)
23./24./25. (tie) Labtekwon (20/17/57) / E Major (20/14/41) / The Wire (20/10/41)

So that's 8 rappers, 4 Baltimore club DJs, 3 venues, 2 labels, and a lot of other types of topics. The first number in parentheses is posts in 2008, second number is posts in 2007, third number is total posts up through the end of '08. As I noted last year, although I try to document the whole Baltimore scene faithfully on this site, ultimately it does reflect my taste, and I make no apologies for covering some artists more consistently than others. And I think this list is still a pretty useful metric of who really worked hard in '08 and played a lot of shows, put out music and guested on releases throughout the year. You can't deny the grind of guys like DJ Booman and Ogun. It's kind of a bummer to even see K-Swift mentioned here since so much of that number (nearly 2/3rds) is accounted for by my coverage following her death. There are definitely some folks that did a lot in '08 that I was slower to pick up on, like Wordsmith, and probably plenty more that just weren't on my radar and should feel free to e-mail me every time they play a show or drop new music so I don't miss it in the future. And there were some up-and-coming folks that I like but tried not to post too much that you'd get sick of them or think I was trying to force them on you. But with all those caveats in mind, you can kinda draw your own conclusions. Hopefully '09 will be just as busy for all those folks.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

DJ Class f/ Jermaine Dupri and Trey Songz - "I'm The Ish (Remix)" (mp3)
DJ Class f/ Lil Jon - "I'm The Ish (Official Remix)" (mp3)
The original version of "I'm The Ish", which was the #1 pick in my top 10 Baltimore club tracks of 2008 list, has been out for less than 3 months, and it's already gone farther than almost any Baltimore club song in a long long time. This week, Class signed with Universal Republic (via a production deal through Unruly) and the song will be getting a push from a major label, and already the song has gotten enough of a buzz around the country that several mainstream artists have jumped on official and unofficial remixes of the song. Jermaine Dupri and Trey Songz did their version just because they liked the song, and DJ Class went in the studio with Lil Jon himself for the official remix. It's been pointed out a couple times already, but this is the first time Lil Jon has performed on a Baltimore club track, after years of Baltimore producers sampling his voice a thousand different ways, so that's kind of cool. I interviewed DJ Class earlier tonight (article coming soon), and it turns out Lil Jon is actually pretty familiar with Baltimore club and knew Class's old records and everything. I have no idea how big this song is going to get but I'm pretty excited to see how far it goes.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

In the past month or so, my stuff on the City Paper's Noise blog has included: a Club Beat column featuring my top 10 Baltimore club tracks of 2008 (including DJ Class, King Tutt, Say Wut, Scottie B., the 410 Pharaohs, K.W. Griff, DJ Excel, Rod Lee and others), an interview with Height, and concert reviews of the Sonny Gunnz tribute show @ Sonar, the "eyes night" of the Baltimore Round Robin tour @ Sonar (with Beach House, Ed Schrader, Lexie Mountain Boys and others), E.Joseph and the Phantom Heart/FFHH/Ms. Sara and the Help/Red This Ever @ Fletcher's, and The Water/The NerfTones/Stugottz @ the Ottobar.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

various artists - Hello World V. 1 (B-More Real Ent.)

B-More Real Entertainment is a crew I saw perform a year or two back at Sonar. Their performance wasn't very interesting, just the usual having a dozen guys onstage at once being each other's hypemen kinda thing, but they had free CDs at the show and I picked up a couple mixtapes, had been meaning to write about them for the longest time but just took a while to get around to it. This is a pretty low budget CD, lotsa freestyles and sometimes the vocals sound kinda rough, but there's some good energy on here, kind of a compilation of tracks by different artists on the label including Harm, Cas, Juney, Fish Gates, Marc Wayne and Moore. Check out B-More Real on MySpace.

Fish Gates - "Fish Gates Anthem" (mp3)
I think Fish Gates is one of the best and strangest rapper names I've heard in a long time, so this guy is totally deserving of having his own anthem. I mean, c'mon, Fish Gates, I have no idea what it could mean, but it just sounds awesome. Lemme say it again: Fish Gates.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Some stray news items and links:

- Above is a new YouTube interview with Blaq Starr.

- has recently ran posts about PenDragon and Mania Music Group's Ron G.

- On my other blog Narrowcast, I listed the best shows I saw in 2008, which included performances by Soul Cannon, K-Swift, Blaq Starr, Dru Hill, Diablo, Rod Lee, Mullyman, Skarr Akbar, Comp, Little Clayway, Teop, Heavy Gold, 1st Family and Huli Shallone.

- Recent reviews by some of my colleagues at the City Paper: Brandon Soderberg on Blaq Starr, Bret McCabe on Ms. Stress, and Michael Byrne on DJ Excel.

- Some other stuff by Brandon Soderberg: a No Trivia post about Scottie B., and a Fresh Cherries From Yakima post about songs by Midas, the Chavy Boys, DJ Excel, E Major, B.O.M.B., DJ Booman, Ray Lugar, Mullyman, and Ron Rico.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

ScholarMan - GameShift: The Movement (Soganic Music)

Last year, I reviewed a show at Bedrock (R.I.P.) where one of the MCs on the bill was ScholarMan, although I wasn't really familiar with his music enough to say much of anything about his set. He seemed talent, but I didn't know the songs and he just didn't leave a big impression. But his label, Soganic Music, got in touch with me later on to send me his new album, and I'm glad I got to hear it and give him a second chance. In fact, really I'm surprised I didn't hear him already a long time ago, because there's a whole lot of albums for sale on his MySpace page and it seems like he's been doing his thing for a minute.

ScholarMan is very much the conscious rapper you'd probably expect from his name and the earth-tone color scheme of the album cover, and there isn't much in the way of surprises in his lyrics. It's all very earnest and well-meaning, but he doesn't really display any kind of insight or knowledge about issues, let alone a sense or humor or unique perspective, it's all just vague 'uplifting' kinds of messages. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but after hearing that kind of thing on a hundred other albums, you almost get mad at these guys whose music has a 'message' but don't actually have anything to say. Thankfully, ScholarMan is also a producer, and his tracks totally make the album worth a listen. He has this little trick in a lot of his songs, where he waits until the 2nd verse to mix in a new sample or chop it a different way, and it really makes your ears perk up and gives the whole thing a unique structure.

ScholarMan - "Our All" (mp3)
This is probably the best example of what I was referring to about how sometimes he chops a new sample at the beginning of the second verse.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The latest video directed by Sleepin Giant Media is for "Bit Too Much For Me" by Smash and Young Crip, which you've probably heard many times since last summer if you listen to 92Q. I gotta say, I don't know these dudes and I kinda like the song, but I really don't understand why a radio station would put so much push behind local artists for a song that basically jacks the beat from a 4-year-old Lil Jon single. It's the same thing with that TestMe song they keep playing with the "Sweet Dreams" sample; why play the hell out of a song that could never go national, because the artists would get hit with a lawsuit if they ever tried to release it officially? I'm not hating, just thinking out loud, but this is kind of one of those things that makes me feel like people around here are really short-sighted and not really trying to make hits that can go the distance.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Claire Hux - Jammin On The One Mixtape Mixed By DJ Scottie B. (Unruly Records)

Claire Hux is kind of a new direction for Unruly Records, not quite Baltimore club music but not-not Baltimore club either, a weird hipster rap electro dance group featuring a rapper named DLake and a singer named Symbol. DLake had e-mailed me his solo mixtape last summer, but it was more of a DJ mix with a lot of random dance music on it, and I only review releases that are all Baltimore shit on this site, so I never really covered it here. Symbol fronts a rock band called Hot Magic, who I reviewed a show by a few months ago, and I thought they were pretty cool. I also saw Claire Hux at Artscape later on, but I didn't really know who they were at that point. I don't really know about these dudes, though. I know bitching about 'hipsters' is some obnoxious, played out shit at this point, which is why I usually avoid even talking about the topic. But I pretty much think that mashups and H*llertr*nix-type 'eclectic' DJs have just been this cancer of corny motherfuckers that has kind of infected every level of hip hop and dance music in the past few years. And I mean, the problem with this stuff is just that it's not that good; the lyrics are on some cutesy clever shit, the hooks are cheesy, and all the good beats are jacked from somewhere else, and there's also a lotta dumb skits. I guess I can respect the fact that people are trying to do some kind of fusion of rap and R&B and dance music, but when it doesn't work as any of the above and is just this big awkward frankenstein music, I don't even know what the point is.

Claire Hux - "2 Much Dick On The Dance Floor" (mp3)
This song actually made me laugh, that's just a funny concept for the record, can't go wrong. Plus they took one of my all-time favorite Baltimore club tracks (Debonair Samir's horn theme) and just did the vocals over that.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bex - Grow (9 1 6 Productions)

Bex is a Baltimore MC that I'd heard a couple times in the past guesting on Pro & Reg projects, but had never really heard his solo material until he e-mailed me his new album. And even though it's a pretty solid record, with dope production by Krazyfingaz on most of the tracks, it was really hard for me to get into because of the unrelenting negativity of the lyrics. I mean, ostensibly he's kind of a conscious, uplifting MC who's trying to put a message in his lyrics, but really every single song is just bitching about the industry or the way other rappers are and after a while you realize you know a lot about what he's not, but very little about what he actually is. I encounter this problem with a lot of indie rappers who aren't trying to be commercial, but man, on this album it was really just stifling and unpleasant, which is a shame because the guy can flow, he just has very little to say besides the same backpacker MC complaints you've heard a billion times, no real new energy or imagination to make it fresh. Ogun, Jade Fox and Regulus from Pro & Reg guest on the album.

Bex - "F Critics" (mp3)
As a critic I liked this song from the jump when I saw the title (lol), although he doesn't really go at critics too hard on this song after all, but it is one of my favorites on here, with a good beat from SideFX.

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

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Friday, January 16, 2009

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Height With Friends - Baltimore Highlands (Wham City)

This week I in the City Paper I reviewed the new record by Height With Friends, which is kind of a new group project by a rapper from Baltimore named Height, and I also did a Q&A with him on the Noise blog. When I wrote about Height's last album, Winterize The Game, on this site a couple years ago, I kinda explained how I think he's kind of an anomaly in Baltimore hip hop, a guy who has one foot in the indie rock scene but has been rapping and making records for years and years and is really committed to that. And it's funny because the local rap scene has gotten so much more diverse and accepting of more out-there type rappers in the past couple years that I feel like he fits in the context of this site more now than he did when I wrote that post in '07. Anyway this album is pretty dope and you can hear a lot of music on his site, and he's playing a release party on Friday.

Height With Friends - "Cold And Shaken" (mp3)
This is the last song on the album and really one of my favorites, kinda comes in with this big booming beat that's different from the rest of the album and ends it on a high note. It's also one of the more collaborative tracks on the record, featuring musical contributions from Mickey Free, King Rhythm, Jones and the band Wye Oak.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Club Queen K-Swift - Jumpoff Greatest Hits, Vol. 1-5 (Unruly Records/Koch Entertainment)

So this is it: the last DJ mix that K-Swift ever recorded, shortly before her tragic death last summer. As I learned in my interview with Sean Caesar before the CD was released, she planned it as the first of three Greatest Hits albums, this one covering the first 5 volumes of the Jumpoff mix CD that were released in 2004 and 2005. It was supposed to be something she'd just release locally to Downtown Locker Rooms like her previous CDs before Unruly signed a distribution deal with Koch. But since her passing, they decided to make this the first release through the Koch deal, and it's been on Amazon and in stores around the country since the week of Christmas.

'04 and '05 represent one of my favorite eras for Baltimore club music, so it's really great to hear all these tracks collected here together: some of the best songs ever by Blaq Starr ("Tote It") and Rod Lee ("Ridaz") and Debonair Samir ("Eamon Joint") and King Tutt ("Shake My Ass" remix) and Say Wut "(Say Wut THeme Pt. 2") and DJ Class ("Next To You"), among others. Since Swift never got to record her intro and outro shout-outs for the mix, Unruly got M.I.A., the "Paper Planes" girl, to host the CD (I personally can't stand her music and think even her intros on this are annoying as hell, but whatever, if it motivates more people to buy the album then great). Blaq Starr and Rye Rye also do drops, and Squirrel Wyde does a nice little dedication, which might really be the only acknowledgment on the whole CD or package that Swift is no longer with us. At the end of the CD, they say something about future volumes of Greatest Hits, so maybe Unruly is going to have another DJ do mixes of tracks from the later K-Swift CDs.

K.W. Griff - "Pork And Swift" (mp3)
There were a couple new tracks added to the CD from what Swift mixed, and one of them is probably my favorite posthumous K-Swift tribute track, simply because it takes some samples of her and Pork Chop talking on the air on 92Q and just sets it to the beat. It's nothing real fancy, but it brings back a whole lot of memories of listening to them on the radio all those years. Plus it's good to hear her actual voice on this CD if only a little bit.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

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Monday, January 05, 2009

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