Is Iggy Azalea's Career a Hip-Hop Conundrum or An Inspiration?

Categories: Hip-Hop

Nick Nuk'em
Iggy Azalea at the Observatory
It's hard to sum up exactly what Iggy Azalea means to music just months after releasing her debut album, The New Classic, which to date has sold over 100,000 copies. Her single "Fancy" is now double Platinum. Most critics, rap journalists especially, have had nothing but negative things to say about the 23 year-old's commercially successful effort for reasons that are quite obvious. The white Miami transplant from Australia sounds and looks different than other emerging emcees before her, still she is lumped into categories with other fair-skinned, "Thrift Shop" rappers who catch flack for having a ghetto pass that's invalid everywhere but the Hot 100 charts.

Let us not forget about the 2012 track "Murda Bizness" featuring her then label head T.I., where she proclaims "If you was on fire, wouldn't piss on y'all hoes." Even T.I.'s verses on that song didn't get anywhere near as gutter and grimy as Azalea's. It was a song that quickly showed she could write lyrics that could at least keep up with the status quo of hip-hop's biggest mainstream artists. In the time before "Fancy" commandeered radio waves, Iggy also collaborated with rap contemporaries YG, Problem, and Wale while Miley's "hood" antics continued to be the laughingstock of TMZ.

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The Foreign Exchange Are Hip-Hop Chameleons

Categories: Hip-Hop

Proper fusion can be a messy and tricky plane for an artist to conquer. Mixing and matching different styles of music can make a final product come across like a random mish-mash of sounds. Experiment too much and you risk losing much of your audience. Experiment too little and you risk losing critical support and not achieving the perfect hybrid you were in search of. Despite the possible pitfalls and the risks involved with making something that synthesizes multiple, disparate sounds, R&B/soul fusionist duo The Foreign Exchange has seemingly hit a sweet spot between all possible positive outcomes.

Dutch producer Nicolay and North Carolina rapper/vocalist Phonte spent the better part of the past twelve years perfecting their premium blend of soul, R&B, pop and similar stylings. Tastemakers such as Pitchfork have lauded the pair for their organic take on the aforementioned genres.

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Pharoahe Monch's Artistic, Hip-Hop Approach to Dealing With P.T.S.D.

Pharoahe Monch
After being a rapper for close to a quarter of a century, and 41-year-old rapper Pharoahe Monch still knows how to be creative and make progressive music. Late in 2013, Eminem declared his bars on 1994's "Bring It On" would "kill most rappers" and that he has "been ahead of his time since he came out," while a couple months ago Village Voice called him "The World's New Rap Therapist." His music is as critically acclaimed now as it was in the mid-'90s, and his discography is littered with Source accolades and acclaim from iconic establishments in pop culture such as Rolling Stone.

The Queens original laid the foundations for his career as one half of the revered duo Organized Konfusion before branching off on his solo career, where he has crafted four albums of his own. His latest, P.T.S.D., is an innovative, creative album based on post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. The album's most remarkable feat is channeling Monch's own, personal struggles with both issues and turning into something that's compelling and entertaining. It's the hip-hop version of observing a live action therapy session like you would a play or concert.

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San Clemente's Bumps the Goosegot Makes Hair Raising Hip-Hop

Categories: Hip-Hop

Taylor Herron
OC hip-hop heads best not sleep on South County. If they do, San Clemente's Bumps the Goosegot is just one rapper they'd foolishly overlook, depriving themselves of his offerings of quality beats and rhymes. Born in Santa Ana, Bumps, whose real name is Eric Fernandez, forms one-third of Rock Bottom. As his emcee brethren Innate & EP do their duo thing, Fernandez is carving out a space as a solo artist. He's hoping to put a musical chill, raise hairs and deliver a case of the goose bumps through speakers!

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Rap Shirts for White People is Hip-Hop Hilarity!

Whole-Foods Clan ain't nothin' to fuck with!
What do you get when you mix Stuff White People Like sensibilities with hip-hop? The answer comes in the form of a hilarious new clothing line! Rap Shirts for White People puts a twist on famous lyrics while having fun at the expense of the world of whiteness. Can we all really picture Method Man's raspy voice declaring "Cats Rule Everything Around Me?" or Biggie saying "It was all a dream, I used to read Highlights magazine?" (Although we'd say the Kelis spoof 'My Self-Respect Brings All the Boys to the Yard," is a rap shirt for all women, not just whites).

Proceeds from satirical shirts started by Tim Blount go to related charities. They've caught the eye of The Source and HipHopDX. The Whole-Foods Clan shirts are already out of order! But the sampling below are just a few that are still game.

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Powerhouse 2014 - Honda Center - May 17, 2014

Mora Creative Studios
Powerhouse 2014
Honda Center

On Saturday, Power 106 FM's Powerhouse mega concert at the Honda Center brought us closer to summer by offering a mix of FM's latest and the west coast's greatest--with a hearty slice of pop music thrown in the middle.

Opening act Sage the Gemini had a rough time getting the crowd going as they filtered into the arena. "Make some fuckin' noise!" he yelled on stage through horribly distorted house speakers. Despite having HBK label head and buzz worthy rapper IAMSU! at his side, the crowd wasn't feeling until it came time for his hit "Gas Pedal," which earned a roar from Power 106 listeners who no doubt hear that shit everyday on their drive into work.

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Slum Village & Bizarre Ride - The Observatory - May 13, 2014

Nick Nuk'em
Slum Village (Young RJ and T3)
Slum Village & Bizarre Ride
The Observatory
May 13, 2014

In an era where classic boom bap hip-hop has virtually lost all momentum, an affinity for the sound pioneered, then mastered by the late J Dilla remains. Last night at the Observatory was dedicated to one of the game's most revered producers. Grape swishers burned restlessly waiting for the Dilla Exhibit listening to freestyles that flowed to the vintage jazz cello-clad beats like the tall cans of Pabst that riddled the venue's floor at the end of the night.

With a notable lack of skinny jeans that prohibit the nut grabbing associated with the hip-hop of old, the night oozed the sedating melodies of the lo-fi instrumentals, namely the Dillafied works sampled from all walks of sonic life. After an impressive peformance from the opening DJ and accompanying MC full of the underground vibe and thought provoking metaphors, the Observatory took a trip down a trail blazed by Jazz, into Dillaville. Some, especially the guy dressed in a white pinstriped Tommy Hilfiger athletics jersey that must've been procured from a Ghetto Fabulous pre-Y2K time capsule, came more prepared than others.

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DrewID of Speach Impediments Sets It Off on The 4th Letter

Mavi 'Big Seek' Corral / GhosthouseFX
DrewID beholds the mic of gold
After making the city of Placentia recognize, DrewID of the rap group Speach Impediments is venturing off on his first solo effort. Don't fret, SI fans, the group is staying intact. DrewID, born Andrew Pasillas, is just giving hip-hop-heads some fresh cuts to vibe to in between albums. The Mexi/Irish mic controller enlists Goblinbeatz on The 4th Letter, gracing listeners with eight tracks. For the alphabetically challenged, the title refers to "D," as in DrewID, while bringing Rakim's The 18th Letter to mind.

The EP's first single, "Set it Off," does just that, with LD lacing the song with the illest scratches while Ariano adds his soulful crooning on the hooks. DrewID flexes his lyrically muscular rhyming, "And if you want beef/You can come get you some/All that talk is tofu/ Sweeter than some Cinnabons." Other tracks delve for depth, such as the self-reflective "Fork In the Road" and "It's a Shame."

With assists from Matrix and Abstract Rude, The 4th Letter is a bass-heavy, bump-worthy contribution to Juice County's growing hip-hop playlist prowess.

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ZelooperZ is the Youngest Rapper on Danny Brown's "OLD" Tour

Categories: Hip-Hop

Thumbnail image for zelooperz-00.jpg
Pretty much everything in music has a precursor or precedent. Even all the sounds dominating Hip-Hop now, like DJ Mustard's "ratchet" sound or Atlanta's new bizarro-trap bounce, have an easily traceable lineage. But, every so often an artist comes along that throw's a wrench in that machine's cog. In this case, it's Detroit rapper and Danny Brown affiliate ZelooperZ.

ZelooperZ -- whose normal identity is 20-year-old Walter Williams -- was declared in an XXL feature to be "hip-hop's most promising act of 2014." As an emcee, he's a spastic sound stylist who is equal parts dexterous and demonic, and he evades any conventional rhyme or reason in his songs. If hip-hop was physical boxing as opposed to a lyrical sport, ZelooperZ would be the physical incarnation of a crossing between the Mike Tyson character in Punch-Out!! and the Tyson that chewed on Evander Holyfield's ear. Over the phone though, the young upstart is a far cry from the restless savage he portrays on songs.

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Expansion Team Soundsystem are SRH Fest's Hip-Hop Kings

This Friday, SRH Clothing brings their annual SRH Fest to the Observatory. Considering SRH's cult following among local bros, the bookings of ex-Kottonmouth King Johnny Richter and suburb-friendly artists like Mickey Avalon and Unwritten Law shouldn't come as any sort of massive surprise. But, there's also a booking that brings something more artistically-stimulating to mind: underground LA hip-hop dons DJ Babu & Rakaa Iriscience's Expansion Team Soundsystem project.

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