Def Jam's 5 Greatest Album Covers

Categories: Rap

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Def Jam Records
Imagine seeing this on vinyl for the first time!
This week's celebration of 30 years of Def Jam has been a reminder of how much the landmark hip-hop label has meant to all generations of hip-hoppers who've been turned on to their output in its wake. The last three decades of record stores would look quite different without Def Jam releases on their shelves. While the standard maroon Def Jam sleeve has been a source of comfort for rap fans over the years, the label's also been responsible for some of the most unforgettable album arts in the genre's history. Here's our picks for the top five Def Jam album arts of all time.

See also: Def Jam's 5 Most Iconic videos

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Def Jam's Top 5 Most Underrated Videos

Categories: Rap

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YouTube Screen Capture
Jay-Z, Bounce With Him...
Yesterday, in honor of Def Jam's 30th Anniversary this week, we brought you our choices for the Top 5 most iconic Def Jam videos of all time. As great as those are, and believe us they are, it's only right when looking back at three decades of dominance to acknowledge all the less heralded gems in the Def Jam Video Vaults that never seem to get their due. Here are our picks for the Top 5 Most Underrated Def Jam videos of all time!


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Def Jam's Top 5 Most Iconic Videos

Categories: Rap

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YouTube Screen Capture
LL Cool J's Mother Requested that He Render You Unconscious
This week landmark rap label Def Jam Records celebrates its 30th anniversary.  While the label's always been on the cutting edge of what's happening in hip-hop, tributes to the label's storied history often overlook how many iconic rap videos can be found within the label's catalog as well. It is with our glasses raised to Russell Simmons that we name Def Jam's five most iconic videos of all time.

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YG - The Observatory - September 09, 2014

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James Brunt
YG
The Observatory
9/9/14

Before doors opened for the second YG show of the night at the Observatory on Tuesday, an extensive line snakes from the front doors ending just yards shy of Harbor Blvd. People of all sects stand in their version of fly summerwear from hipster looking girls in long white Coachella-type dresses to your casual t-shirt and baseball cap-wearing dudes among the predictable concertgoers; chicks in tanks and high-waisted shorts and bros in tanks and shorts that look odd if they're not clad with anchors. Simultaneously, the venue is experiencing a mass exodus. Moments before, the first of two YG shows had just concluded and the indomitable energy lingering after a great performance oozed from early crowd.

"Y'all betta turn the fuck up when y'all get in there" demands one young lady as she heads towards the parking lot. Her demeanor resembles a young emcee looking to get the crowd hype.

One year ago, a YG show would not have been as big of a ticket. But on this Tuesday night those who may have forgone his opening performance at UCI's fall concert last year, would not miss a second chance to ride the wave. As the affinity for using the word "ratchet" whenever possible has grown, so has the chance to vibe to the tunes that accompany the trending rap vernacular.

See also: YG's Listening Party Was a Bompton-Style Rager


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The Best OC Hip-Hop Shows in July

Categories: Rap, Top Five

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Rittz--See July 26
There's no doubt that this summer is highly saturated with hip-hop concerts. But even if you might not be all too enthusiastic for the Drake and Lil Wayne show in September, maybe some of the shows in the upcoming month can fill a share of your summer leisure time and dough. Conveniently, the always busy, always awesome Observatory is hosting all the shows on our list. And if scraping ticket money together is a problem for you, one of the listed shows costs less than a Li'l Caesar's Hot-n-Ready. Here are our picks for the best hip-hop shows in July.


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A Beginner's Guide to Open Mike Eagle

Categories: Rap

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Andy J. Scott
This month saw the release of Dark Comedy, the critically acclaimed new album from Chicago-born, LA-based rap artist Open Mike Eagle. Walking the tight rope of an outstanding technical proficiency with his rhymes coupled with a flow that alternates between melodious and avant garde with lyrics that tackle real struggles featuing a dash of self-depricating humor and subtle pop culture references hidden to the point of being Easter Eggs, he's a unique entity that's as accessible as esoteric gets. In the event you're not yet familiar with Eagle, we've assembled a quick crash course of five songs to bring you up to speed. This is our Beginner's Guide to Open Mike Eagle.

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Future - The Observatory - June 26, 2014

Categories: Rap, live review

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Three light panels clutter the undersized stage as the rising star, Future, rocks the Observatory. Ironically, the venue's title fits the rapper well, as the bulk of his work up to this point consistently refers to the cosmos. Early in his set, he vows to take the crowd to the moon. The panels flash to the bass hits of the 2012 single "Same Damn Time," with a magnitude high enough magnitude to blind the whole building. Now, like the majority of his time on stage, Future hops from stage left to stage right, searching for his most hyped fans. Next, the Men in Black Neuralyzer type lights create a silhouette of Future pumping his arms to Pharrell-featured single "Move that Dope."

But before getting into the smash hit, Future stops to thank the crowd for making the track one of the biggest in the country, in a lower toned, raspy, Southern voice resemblant of an SEC linebacker's. The 30 year-old's remarks show how happy he is to be in his position and just how much he's enjoying the night in Cali, yet he wore a expressionless face throughout the night, mustering a smile only when he shakes a fan's hand in the front row. Even when pausing to take a hit of his DJ's blunt onstage, Future doesn't seem relieved by the exhalation, standing stiff to face the crowd.


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T-Pain - The Observatory - June 10, 2014

Categories: Rap, live review

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Nick Nuk'em
T-Pain
The Observatory
6/10/14

Remember the funny, chubby, black kid at your middle school that was a great dancer and had artistic skills but never got any ass? Hold your belief in karma, as the kid has grown into the Grammy award winning man T-Pain. A Tuesday night performance in OC proved that the man who's been in our lives for nearly 10 years has made quite the mark on not only hip-hop, but pop culture in general.

An 11:30pm appearance was too late for a portion in the crowd who left UCI libraries for a musical break, so by the time T-Pain had stepped out from backstage in a red beanie with Forever 21-esque spikes coming out of the side, the venue was hardly as packed as it was for the 10 opening acts preceding the Tallahassee native.

"We gone have some fun tonight or what?" asks Pain without his signature Auto-Tune modified his voice. Throughout the night, the digital effect would solely serve as background vocals while we got the real Faheem Rasheed Najm -T-Pain's government name. Pain implores the crowd to engage with him through their minds instead of pulling big screen TVs and 27" iMac screens from their pockets.

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Iggy Azalea - The Observatory - May 14, 2014

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Nick Nuk'em
Iggy Azalea
The Observatory
5/14 2014

Iggy Azalea, the Assie Aussie, was the reason for the Observatory's giant mid-week turn out last night. After the 23 year-old Miami transplant's OC debut, any doubts about the femcee's ability to be future rap royalty were put to rest. In sleeveless tees and booty shorts, she had the the crowd ready to rock with her right from the start.

Standing against a backdrop imitating an '80s Miami Beach boardwalk, Azalea began the show by stepping out from a door under a glowing aquamarine sign that read "Hotel Iggy." On the 1s and 2s stood Dj Whizz Kid behind a white glass contraption lined in metallic that could looked like an old school American Music Awards podium. The headliner wore a Flamingo pink tennis getup with an airbrushed portrait of Scarface on her top and tiled onto her skirt.


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10 More of the Best Rappers in OC

Categories: Rap

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Supreme Cerebral
By: Nate Jackson and Gabriel San Roman
Last week, our list of Top 10 Rappers in OC seemed to cause a bit of a stir in the local hip-hop community, lots of whining but plenty of praises. Well, good--we're always glad to bruise egos and shake things up over here at Heard Mentality. But of course, the talent on these lists is what matters and frankly, there wasn't enough room for all the names we wanted to squeeze on there. So we gladly took another opportunity to share some of the music we've been bumping in our car stereo whilst trying hard not to get pulled over by the cops. And so we bring you another heaping hip-hop helping of 10 more emcees who are definitely worth your time.

See also: The Top 10 Rappers in OC


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