The 2009 Register Vol.2: Ardamus and Mindbender Futurama

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My disclaimer: I’ve taken the liberty of deciding for all of you that trudging through some half-assed, inferior, “End of the Year” smorgasbord of songs and situations of importance to me, Employee, would bore you to salty pretzel, heart-shaped tears comprised of an indescribable fury. That being said….I thought it would be lighter on the psyche if I asked as many different microphone megalomaniacs and sample slaughterers if they’d be benevolent by sharing their personal ruminations on the year that will soon be a calendar in the garbage. Nothing is edited.

Ardamus

The Good, The Bad, and The Fucked Up.

This year was the hardest on my own personal life but the best when it comes to doing the music. Performance-wise, I lucked out got to open for indie heavyweights Busdriver, Blu & Exile, Blueprint, Tanya Morgan, and Killah Priest all throughout the year. On top of that, I got to share the stage with legends Dres from Black Sheep and at the J. Dilla Foundation show, Phife Dog from Tribe. Most recently, I got to perform with alot of my DC/MD/VA peers (i.e., Bomani Armah, X.O., Tabi Bonney, and etc.) for the Greatest Hip Hop Cover Story Ever Told. It was a show that celebrated 30 years of hip hop with two shows that were packed both nights. The director, Diallo Sumbry, is currently working to get this production on the road.

As for actually projects and etc., I dropped my collaboration project with The Metaphysical entitled “A Day In The Life Of Modern Day Living”. A 10-track project that goes throughout a person’s whole entire day. It leaked in the summer and we dropped the actual disc in November; we’ve gotten good reviews from various listeners so far. Since its very DIY, promotion was limited but the release party got some heads looking our direction. And trying to get more bloggers aware of the concept has been a challenge. A few blogs such as Upset The Set Up, forthedmvonly.blogspot.com, pure-hiphop.blogspot.com (shoutouts to RAZAH CUTZ) and dcmumbosauce.com put it out there for people to check. Besides getting it on the usual iTUNES distro, Sage Francis was kind enough to hit me up about putting it on consignment in his SFR Record Store with support from Seez Mics of Educated Consumers, Buddy Peace, and Storm Davis (here’s the link: A Day in the Life of Modern Living).

Trying to get it to other spots like illroots.com and kevinnottingham.com is the next step I’m trying to take because I know I have to promote it in different light. Its part of the reason why I didn’t drop my “When Everything Goes Wrong 2.0” mixtape thats a follow-up to my solo album “When Nothing Goes Right” that came out in 2008. I peeped how downloads get way too disposable now to the point where you have to try to promote in a original light if people don’t know who you are. Its a perception of putting it out there and realizing it can lost amongst mixtapes that get uploaded to zshare and you see nothing but may 12 downloads of your shit get out there. I’d like to shoot for 100 or 200 at the very least. These days you can’t just think like an artist or producer. You have think like a businessman; even you’re working at a lower level that mindstate helps.

Collaboration was key this year, too. Appearing on the PF project was definitely great because I peeped how many folks didn’t know I did music on the regular. Also, collaborating with producers in Italy (Weirdo and RES NULLIUS of Crazeology Fam), France (Babytraxxx), New Zealand (Doug The Dagger), and North Carolina (C-Royal and Mind-U-Mental) was actually good for me to connect with other people. As for the future, I’ve got some work with some people I’ve known and respected for years on the horizon…..known and unknown folks who’s work I enjoy.

Ok, enough about what the fuck I’ve been doing, I’ll just speak on 2009 and its state of hip hop. As for the music overall, in my opinion, its just like the previous years but now predictions that fans, artists, and critics have made or didn’t expect are at the forefront. From the death of Technics making turntables anymore to OG’s in the game putting together albums that garner more so an indie buzz these days (i.e., KRS & Buckshot, OC & AG, Masta Ace & Ed O.G.) marks a chapter in hip hop we knew that was coming since the early 2000s: a shift in the technology and outreach to the core audience in hip hop music. Also, the introduction of more adult contemporary hip hop is bubbling but to a good portion of the mainstream, its an elephant in the room unless you hear certain names mentioned. Next year, more ways to promote with technology will be developed but lets hope more ideas that are original or at least try to be original are pushed more; with some well-put together execution. And also lets put to rest weak artists that flood a blog but can’t rip shit in public and wack-ass myspace producers that sell overpriced beats that sounds like they threw a Casio keyboard down a flight a stairs with a tape recorder nearby. The more we start to realize that times change will change and that longevity is the key to having quality music, the better hip hop music will develop. Regardless, I’m gonna do this shit til the wheels fall off and enjoy listening to others make projects that I can enjoy. Lets get ready for 2010.

Picks of the year (no order):
Tanya Morgan – “Brooklynati”
Rick Ross – “Deeper Than Rap”
L.E.G.A.C.Y. – “Suicide Music”
Felt (Slug & MURS) – “Felt 3: A Tribute To Rosie Perez”
Curren$y – “This Ain’t No Mixtape”
Blakroc – “Blakroc”
Abstract Rude – “Rejuvenation”
Fashawn – “Boy Meets World”
Anti-Pop Consortium – “Fluorescent Black”
Stat Quo – “The Great Depression”
Mykah Nyne – “1969”
Mos Def – “The Ecstatic”
Diamond District – “In The Ruff”
Themselves – “The Free Houdini”
K-Beta – “89 to 09”
DOOM – “Born Like This”
MC Esoteric – “Saving Seamus Ryan”
Kev Brown – “Random Joints”
Eyedea & Abilities – “By The Throat”
BK-One – “Radio Do Canibal”
Souls Of Mischief – “Montezuma’s Revenge”
D-Sisive – “Let The Children Die”
X.O. – “Monumental”
Blaq Poet – “The Blaqprint”
DJ Quik & Kurupt – “Blaqkout”
Skyzoo – “The Salvation”
Slaughterhouse – “Slaughterhouse”
Ardamus & The Metaphysical – “A Day In The Life Of Modern Day Living” (yeah, i jock my own shit, biyatch, LOL)
Mic King & Chum – “Flavor Ade”

Mindbender Futurama

Hi.

2009 – The Year of The Power Shift by Mindbender Futurama

One day in January, I heard ‘Crack A Bottle’ by Eminem, Dr. Dre and 50 Cent. On the same page of Allhiphop, I heard a Drake song. And, not because I’m Canadian, but because I know good rap when I hear it, I said “holy shit, this Drake song is actually better than this song by Interscope’s Three Headed Monster. Rap is outta control!” And since then, Drake has done so much more for Toronto, Canada, and hip hop in general. He has made many amazing accomplishments in 2009 alone, and just might sell a million copies of his debut album ‘Thank Me Later’ come March 2010. Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Neptunes, Justin Timberlake, Timbaland and maybe Andre 3000 and Sade on your shit? Yeah, it will move units. Haters gonna hate. I just sing one of my favorite Drake songs and say ‘Congradulations’. It’s crack!

To many of you, this year was the extended death of certain things in hip hop. The idea of releasing an album on CD and pushing it to the masses to sell seemed to have finally accepted its own futility (thank you, Interweb). Hey, if 50 Cent can flop, then YOU sure can too! Ha! Thing is, I didn’t even hear that much stuff that was really blowing me away, even though I was happy at the amount of adventurous experimentation that was happening. As time slips by, I think people are realizing the separations between genres are only as arbitrary as your mind makes them, and that there is very little difference between Def Jux shit and southern shit, except maybe their capitalist values. Hearing El-P’s remix of a Young Jeezy jam today sounded perfectly normal, when 10 years ago, it would be a double-barrelled blast of blasphemy beyond comprehension that would have probably been rejected by both fanbases. This year, hip hop worlds merged more than ever, since we all see that no matter what kind of rap region you are into, you still gotta masses of ignorant ass Taylor Swift fans snootily pointing their nose at all things hip hop, cause of that “stoopid nigger Kanye West”. Word to Onyx (who I still want to hear music from), I agree with their timeless sentiment: all we got iz us. I don’t particularly bump certain artists from Houston or D.C., but I respect the fuck out of their movement, and I feel kinship with every hip hop community still carrying on tradition, even if it’s not in the style that I prefer.

But still, hip hop embarrassing more than too many times this year. On top of any other silly coonish shit that happened (like the return of ‘blackface’. WTF, yo.), I heard a lot of sub-par, uninspired, rehashed rap music, and I never thought the percentage of essential hip hop to listen to would get so low. I honestly don’t think I missed much by sleeping on certain things. Hip hop ain’t dead, its limbs are just lifeless. Lil Wayne was exciting because he proved that skills can fluctuate in an expanding career, cause that ‘No Ceilings’ mixtape packed a gang of heat. Some of it was that shit ass rambling rock and roll heroin addict warbling he’s into lately, but I just skip those songs. I’m glad he’s taking risks. That’s what more cats need to do to stand out in 2010. Just don’t think none of yo’ shit don’t stink, is all. Otherwise, I basically ignored the weak shit, and copped some decent hip hop this year. I like how some people realize what still matters: dope beats and fresh rhymes. From now til infinity.

Biggest disappointment: the Slaughterhouse album. Even though they were, thankfully, some of the most vocal proponents of motherfuckers who were bringing REAL lyricism back to the game (cause shit’s been pretty weak for a few years. Damn yoo hipsters!!!) I’d rather not talk about how underwhelming that LP is, thank you very much. I haven’t anticipated something that much in years, and it just didn’t do what it should have done to my domepiece. Straight up: three days out of seven, I think Crooked I is the best MC on planet earth. I been a Royce the 5’9″ junkie since ‘We Ridin’, and even since ‘I’m The King’. Fools is just catching up lately getting all amped on Royce. And Joell Ortiz might be the most insanely improved MC of the year, on top of creating one of my favorite rhyme moments of 2009, when he devoured about 5 minutes of the ‘D.O.A.’ beat in that ferocious 18 minute Green Lantern session. And Joe Budden? He provided tragic comedy by getting punched in the eye by one of Raekwon’s weed carriers (karma’s a byotch), but yeah he can rap. (Although Saigon butchered him with that second dis song, ha ha!) Nevertheless, Slaughterhouse should have made one of the best fucking lyrical masterpieces of this decade. But they just… didn’t. AND Pharaohe Monch didn’t rhyme on it. Double fail! Next time (cause they need to do a follow-up in 2010), I hope they get some Shady Records magic poppin’, and make the classic they potentially can create.

Joell really spit some of my favorite bars of 2009:
~”Please exit the water, you’ll die if you can’t swim/ this music’s a novel, you still on Page 10/ I read it, re-wrote it, published it and called it ‘Amen’.” Wow.

~”You gotta hear what I gotta say, I’m just like that/ and from what I’m hearing this day and age, I don’t like rap/ I was a fan, I used to LOVE this shit/ now y’all getting away with murder, like the glove don’t fit/ y’all either flossing or talking like savages/ I don’t mention a coffin, and doggie, I’m not having it/ you n!ggas rappin’ is fractions below averages/ I don’t give a fuck what you can do with a little half a brick!” WOW! Co-signed in the blood of your favorite internet-hyped wack MC!

Speaking of bricks, Dipset died an agonizing death, and Juelz Santana still hasn’t put out the official ‘I Can’t Feel My Face’ with Lil Wayne. Cam’ron’s music is suffering from the law of diminishing returns (you gotta evolve, dog.) and the Clipse also didn’t leap forward as far as I had hoped they would. Remember when they were beefing with Wayne? Now Weezy is making songs with Shakira and Eminem, and I heard one of the Clipse homies use the “word… oops I mean, werrd” rhyme style Lil Wayne created. Rap is outta control.

I admit, ‘Relapse’ proved Eminem could still spit with the best of them (considering how atrocious ‘Encore’ was)… but the essence (sorry, I had to, Employee) of what he was spitting just isn’t as witty as it used to be. I mean, rap about sticking funny objects in your ass was funny the first four times, but after a while… even ‘3 AM’ sounds kinda desperate for attention. That single ‘We Made You’ was one of the most underwhelming and forgettable moments of 2009. Shit is disgusting, B. I bet even Jessica Simpson was like “Eminem really is rapping about me? I’m so 2007. He must not have much to say.”

Damn, Alfamega got fucked over real bad. T.I. really needs to do some better background checks with his hired help. Fuck around and get Officer Ricky on Grand Hustle, yo.

For the record: former Correctional Officer William Leonard Roberts aka Rick Ross is the fakest rap personality since Vanilla Ice. He does know how to craft a decent record though, I’ll give him that. Those Justice League beats are synthtastic!

The second fakest personality is The Game. The utmost in unforgivable transgression occurred when dude pledged on that shitty ass over-dowloaded Michael Jackson tribute ‘Better on the Other Side’ that he was done beefing with 50 Cent. Before the summer was over, Game was talking “fuck 50!” again. Bi-polar Frankenstein gangsta rapper, your next album better be your very last. We don’t believe you, you need more people. You are lucky Jay-Z didn’t annihilate your future with one dis record. And how you gonna talk about Jigga is old, and then make a song with Jaz-O, who is a few years older than Jay-Z? Game, you need professional psychiatric help. Your last great moments should be on ‘Detox’. Then please learn how to gracefully bow out, for the love of God and hip hop. You have nothing left to say. Stop the madness.

Speaking of, I had the distinctive honor and unparalleled pleasure to listen to Bow Wow’s ‘New Jack City II’ album this year. It was almost not even worth the money for the review. A vortex of cliche, ignorance, regurgitation, hubris, style-swallowing, and stupidity on a level that your worst nightmares can’t conceive. Worst album of the decade. Real talk!

I fucked up so large. I miscalculated the time on the Rock the Bells concert in Toronto, and ended up missing the first 3 acts, which were Slum Village, M.O.P. and… SLAUGHTERHOUSE (one of my biggest concert-going regrets in life) As far as I know, it was Crooked I’s and Joell Ortiz’s first time rhyming in Toronto, and I missed it. I really look forward to seeing them guys live. Peace to Chang Weisberg and Bishop Brigante. Joe Buddens, I’d put Rich Kidd’s beats against your homie Focus anyday! Ha ha, I digress. The point is, that was one of the final performances of Baatin of Slum Village before he died a few weeks later, and I missed it. Peace to the brother. On the same note, I saw Busta Rhymes at the end of the summer, and even though his show was crazy weird (in a not so good way. He cut off his own verse from ‘Scenario’! WTF, yo), at least I saw Grandmaster DJ Roc Raida perform one last time, before he passed away a few weeks later. He’s pure disc jockey and I always got love for guys like that in hip hop, who just stay dedicated to what they love. Peace to the brother.

When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong: Max B, C-Murder, T.I., Gucci Mane, Boozie, Jim Jones, Lil Mama, Charles Hamilton.

I read ‘The 50th Law’ by Curtis Jackson and Robert Greene, and it’s pretty good, even though it’s not even close to as analytical as the ’48 Laws of Power’. It’s worth a look though. The essence of the book: fear nothing.

That DJ Quik album with Kurupt was COLD. Quik got weirder than usual on it.

Kid Cudi’s album is super meh to me. Droning, blase, and lyrically soft, it’s not my thing.

‘Blackout 2’ was banging as fuck, fuck what you heard. Can’t leave rap alone, the game needs Red and Meth.

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy that De La Soul/Nike album as much as I did. And believe me, I worshipped them Plugs for many a year. I just kinda don’t know what they want to do with the rest of their career in rap. I want them to get more aggressive with their legendary status or something. Just fucking stop keeping us waiting. Rap needs y’all too. More than it needs another Flo-rida album.

Mos Def’s album was much better than people said it was. I saw too much criticism for it, and even though I think homie is being too insular with his creativity, the beats are still fresh and the rhymes are still dope. ‘Auditorium’ with Slick Rick is fucking ridiculously dope (“I saw this young Iraqi kid, carrying laundry/ what’s wrong G, hungry?/ ‘no, gimme my oil and get the fuck out my country!” word up, Ricky!) and the video and song for ‘Casa Bey’ is amazing to me. I also really liked ‘Life In Marvelous Times’. Him and Talib should do one last classic Blackstar album featuring all their awesome rap friends, and then tell everyone to shut up about it, ha.

There’s a few albums I kinda slept on that I would normally listen to right away, but I been doing my own shit. I JUST got a few joints off that ‘Broad Street Bully’ album and I thought it was pretty fuckin dope. Beanie Sigel’s chin check to Jay-Z was the realest record I heard in years. ‘Average Cat’ is BRUTALITY. Jigga basically -can’t- reply to it, cause he’s not that real about his shit. I love Hov, but there’s tons of smoke and mirrors in his circus act. Manipulations abound, and I’m glad the truth is coming out now. Freeway even laced up ‘Love Is A Battlefield’ with some eye-opening insights into the reasons the Roc crumbled. There are now very hot rumors of an ‘Empire State of Mind’ remix featuring 50 Cent and Nas, with Jay-Z. (No Beanie Sigel? Do we really gotta learn to live with regrets like that one? We’ll see.) I hope the beef gets squashed, for the sake of unifying hip hop, but if it doesn’t then I just hope great records get made, cause both Jay-Z and 50 Cent are not near the top of their rhyme game in 2009. If they battled, at least they would be deeply inspired. Like Nas was, ha ha. Beanie Sigel’s ‘Average Cat’ is ‘Ether Part 2’ to me.

I love Wu-Tang beyond words, and Ghostface is one of my rhyme heroes, but ‘Wizard of Poetry’ just didn’t connect to me like I expected. That song with Fabolous is sick as fuck though. Hope Ghost just gets a bunch of RZA beats from 1997 and goes buck wild on them. I hear Pharoahe Monch is taking it back to the 90’s for his next album. And that ‘Chamber Music’ record that RZA made featuring AZ, Sadat X, Masta Ace, Cormega, Sean Price, Kool G Rap and some other 90’s legends was fucking ill. A breath of fresh poisonous paragraphs. Looking back at what happened from 2000-2009, I can definitively say we sure didn’t know how good we had it in the 90’s.

The “backpacker” underground kinda disappeared as we knew it, since the major labels mostly evaporated. I don’t even know what’s going on anymore, but it’s both good, bad… and insane. Like ‘Blueprint 3’ being so successful, and simultaneously being so shitty. It made me go back to the bloated beast that is ‘Blueprint 2’ and appreciate it more than I used to. Jay catered to a bunch of hipsters on BP3, and when it’s all said and done, it’s just a schizophrenic scramble of sub-par sonics and one of Jay’s worst albums. ‘Already Home’ is my favorite song on it (Kanye can still make a great beat), and I think Alicia Keys’s chorus is far and above the best part of ‘ESOM’ as a song. Besides that, I don’t really check for much of the album at all. I don’t enjoy how Jay-Z spends 12 bars bigging up Shyne and making grandiose promises on ‘Real As It Gets’, but never says Jamal Barrow’s name. That’s the kind of shadyness I’m talking about. But when did Timbaland lose his freakin’ ass mind and start publicly bragging about how he didn’t give Jay-Z his ‘A-material’ (?!? W.T.F., y.o.) That’s why ‘Off That’ featuring the boy wonder of hip hop right now, Drake, wasn’t the second single. Good job, Tim. Shoot yourself in the hand you make beats with next time, instead of the foot that’s in your mouth. Sure, Drake should have had a verse where he would have possibly murdered Jigga on his own shit (like we know Nas would have if he was on ‘ESOM’), but Timbaland really made a mistake there. I don’t know why, but I just want to hear him make more Aaliyah-level magic. Funny how he just came out with a single/video featuring Drake for ‘Say Something’ on his ‘Shock Value 2’ album. The game is cold. I want to see what Jay-Z decided to do in return.

Speaking of cold, that was the temperature of the public’s reaction to 50 Cent’s ‘Before I Self-Destruct’. Which wasn’t that bad of an album, truth be told, even though it was, yes, ‘tedious’. It was kinda rugged, even though it was very calculated, didn’t have a hit single to build buzz (‘Baby By Me’ is virtually the same played-out formula as ‘I Get Money’, Curtis. F.a.i.l.), and got pushed back more times than anyone cared to count. If he just took the ‘L’ he got from Kanye West like a man, dipped out for a year and filmed straight-to-DVD action movies with Val Kilmer on the low, while crafting his rap comeback, then he wouldn’t have been over-exposed in a semi-hilarious but futile beef with an inferior opponent, ala Rick Ross, and people would have wanted to hear what 50 Cent would have to say in 2009. When he finally dropped his album, nobody even cared to hear what he had to say on it, literally, even though the title is brilliant. 50 was his own Nastradamus. Ha. But he still wreaked havoc and reigned terror on various squads in New York City street hop, and fucked up the game to the point where it will take years to rebuild the damage he did to NYC. His hyper-competitive drive was an inspiration and an abomination, and the mixtape formula has all but jumped the shark as a vehicle to stand out and release music. And Lloyd Banks don’t even get a verse on ‘BISD’, what’s up with that? The 50 Cent/G-Unit Era of hip hop is officially over. On to the next one.

I’m glad Ras Kass is out of jail. And Shyne too! I was listening to them both when they went in, and I’m still listening to them now, years later, now that they are free. I can’t wait til Prodigy gets out in 2010. That’s gonna be amazing. Big up to Alchemist who put out some good work this year too. Best beat on ‘Carter 3’, word up.

Best video of the year: Chris Brown featuring Lil Wayne – I Can Transform Ya. Seriously fucking MIND-BLOWING. I love that shit!

As unacceptable and un-fucking-cool as the beating was, Rihanna still threw Chris under the bus, then backed it up on his head and balls on that Barbara Walters interview. I want to see Chris’s reply.

I gained more respect for Tiger Woods this year, even though I feel bad for what his wife and kids are going thru now. Nice to see some female orgasms stains on those angels wings, brother. I think your jungle fever just got a little too hot, mayne! Good luck with all that.

I’m not talking much about Philaflava-connected music, so I don’t seem biased, but if I had to say one song and one album that I really enjoyed, I’d say ‘Felt 3’, which had my favorite Aesop Rock beats ever on it, and ‘How To Serve Man’ by El-P, as one of his best conceptual catharsis anthems yet. “Did I mention that I… hope it all works out like you want it to…”

And finally, I really enjoyed the movie ‘This Is It’. Michael Jackson forever.

Crazy in love,
Adhimusic “Mindbender Futurama Supreme” Shabazz Stewart
______________________
A tip of the hat to Ardamus and Mindbender.

For more Ardamus go here, here and here.

For more Mindbender go here, here and here.

Peace,
Employee

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