Sunday, August 16, 2009

Just a quick reminder......

Joulz Il & RTD Presents: The Il Before The Storm

Its been a month since The Il Before The Storm went digital and honestly, Im looking for feedback. If you havent gotten your copy yet, maybe you havent heard about it. If you have, Id love to hear your feedback. You can hit me on Twitter , send me an Email , or just comment here on your thoughts. Uno.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Downloading @ Dawn......

Awake and focused, but nothing imparticular to do. My engineer and partner in music & life so far is sound asleep. Asleep in the spot that I normally sleep in, which of course, leaves me with no real place to sleep. Dont get me wrong....there's a bed, but there is nothing quite as comfortable as sleeping on a couch for me. Im close to everything that lulls me back to sleep. Pens, notebooks, music, a tv, PS3, the fridge. You know.....standard emcee fare. Here lately, Ive found myself up incredibly early and even approaching the day with very little sleep. Apparently, that has taken its toll on me.

Case in point, the other night I had a strange dream about planes falling from the sky and landing in my old neighborhood of South Dallas. Upon closer inspection and reading a particular dream dictionary, I found out that planes crashing actually stands for "fear of failure" or "a feeling that one's dreams have failed." Given the fact that this has been the feeling for quite some time, I guess the dream was appropo. Ive long felt like I failed at the dream of that little 8 year old kid trying to kick a rhyme for his older brother and cousins and being successful at getting them into it. I have long felt like its time to move on and do something else. I charged it to becoming melancholy at least once a year....what starving artist doesnt?

Anyway, as I was saying, a lot of times this very computer finds me up at all sorts of hours doing nothing but listening to music of all kinds and I sometimes come across projects that inspire me. One such project is "Loso's Way". Ive always been a fan of Fab. This stems back from the first DJ Clue album that I could get my hands on. I thought he sounded like Ma$e slightly and thats what pulled me in. (Yes, Im a Ma$e fan too, but I DO NOT like the new single.) Fab garnered my respect simply because he was witty and as a fan of hip hop, how can you hate on that? Being that Im an emcee as well, I enjoyed listening to him rap. Needless to say, Fab has dropped a good amount of songs that I have refused to even so much as finish listening to, but its leveled out with some quality music at a slightly higher quantity. This is the case with "Loso's Way" as Im listening to it right now.

Given the fact that Dallas radio pretty much follows some weird trend of playing the EXACT same 12 songs every hour in a different order, Im quite aware of "Throw It In The Bag" and because Def Jam is somewhat still aware that their artists need marketing, "Its My Time" was featured on ABDC. Those two songs were pretty much put out in the forefront and I liked them. However, I didnt know what to expect for the duration of the album, but being that its early as crap in the morning, Im honestly pretty open-minded. With that said, Im rambling in no particular order. "Pachanga" is dope and thats probably because it sounds like the next part of the story of Jay-Z's "A Week Ago". Given that I dont know what Pachanga means or if its a real word, thats the only aspect of the song that doesnt sit well with me. Not a big fan of intros as it I skipped it! By the way, who is Kobe? That was just a weird combination of things going on for me on "Imma Do It", but hey, there's something for everyone. "Lullaby" is dopeness! Having long had the idea to use the Kesha from New Jack City "Rock a Bye Baby" in a hook, its good to see that I wasnt alone in that thought. "Salute" could probably be better, but there's nothing glaringly wrong with it. I wouldnt listen to it again, but thats just me. At the same time, it sounded like Lil Wayne from "Tha Block Is Hot" ran in and did the hook and I APPRECIATE THAT! "Feel Like Im Back" sounds like a darker version of Souljah Boy's "Turn My Swag On". Jury's still out. "Everything, Everyday, Everywhere" sounds really weird and it ALSO references the rappy-singy hybrid that "Turn My Swag On" uses. Keri Hilson isnt easy on the ears early in the morning. Something about the pitch of her voice made me squint. Maybe Im not fully awake. "Money Goes, Honey Stay" solidifies the fact that Fab can just about rap like anybody. Case in point, most of "Real Talk" was a 50 cent album. Im just saying. Anytime a song starts off with the storm siren, I normally turn it off. "There He Go" makes me want to do just that. Moving on...."The Fabolous Life". Wow! Ryan Leslie put that together very NICELY! Fab summoned Tupac a little bit on this one and I cant say that Im mad! "Makin Love" is "You Make Me Better Pt. 2". The beat is hypnotic, and Fab actually sounds like Ma$e so I cant say anything wrong. "Last Time" unfortunately suffers from sounding like a song Bow Wow did recently and though its well put together, wasnt a personal favorite. "Stay", however was! Marsha Ambrosius will FORCE you to listen to any song that she is on and being that I am a fan of hers, I gave this song a chance and Im not disappointed. I appreciate the subject matter and Fab approached it well. "I Miss My Love" didnt really hit me right off. Well, thats it. I have officially Downloaded "Loso's Way" @ Dawn.

I cant say Im mad at it. Its a typical Fab album and if nothing else, he is consistent at doing what he does and staying in his lane. The sun's now up and Saturday is here. Who knows what may happen today? Uno.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Testing 1, 2. Is this thing on?

When was the last time you heard a specific rhyme?
Somebody that could keep your attention with every line
Say something that will get you and keep you pressing rewind
And make you feel like music was more than just wasting time
When was the last time you heard a specific rhyme
Somebody that delivered a purpose and spoke his mind
Used more than just a swagger to cowardly lead the blind
That's too long, I guess Ive been wasting time *

The hardest thing as an emcee, at times, is just to get people to listen to what I am SAYING. Not just the beat, not just the hook, not just your voice, but to the actually words that are coming out of my mouth. The lyrics. In a a day and age where everything seems to have a microwave, instant, just add water connotation to it, I like to think of the lyrics that I write in my songs as oven-made. However, that's all in the mind of the person who is listening. A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure to be on Drunk N Throwed Radio with Ra'Koo and Latina and sit down to actually listen to one of the songs from The Il Before The Storm, "Better Days". I was taken aback when Latina made it her mission to express that one thing she loved about the song was the lyrics! There are times when I feel as vulnerable as possible in doing music. Without the stereotypical use of profane lyrics, it always seems that there's an uphill battle to get people to pay attention to the craft. Without the stereotypical topic matter, it always seem that there's a war just to get people to actually listen. So, I'm left to ask thing on?

Ask yourself is this really what we have come to?
The shucking and the jiving just to get us a Yums shoe?
The labels are conniving and they feel they're beyond you
They don't care if you go diamond, but they cater to some dudes
And some do make it, get signed, and get at one
Until they find out they're only out in Saskatchewan
And that's one, blow to the ego when you enter
Back through the doors of your old call center *

For me, it always seems as if Hip Hop comes with the jagged pill of reality for you, if you don't have a huge following or if you don't have the money to really get your thoughts out to the masses. Its almost a daily struggle not to get jaded when I know for a fact that I really don't have the resources to get the music out to the people that I would like to have it. That's really the most frustrating part of it all. With all the new mediums of putting music out and all the millions and millions of DIY emcees, Im starting to feel like Im getting lost in the shuffle. This is a discouraging notion. How do you continue to do what it is that you love when what it is that you love doesn't love you? Even typing that, I had to laugh. The greatest exercise in futility for me is being an emcee who has something to say, has the ability to say it, but yet has no one who will listen to what he is saying. I often wonder if I should just go to the microphone one day and just spew out the most unintelligible and non-tangible gibberish and then immediately put it online and pub it as the greatest song ever. Send it to the djs and press them to play it. Submit it to every blog and hope that they post it up. What if THAT'S the song that people start to pay attention to me by? How would I feel? Would I be able to live with that? Honestly, I cant say that I would.

Maybe Nas was right about the music we love so
It jumped up off the building like it's nickname was Nutso
People try to defend it, but the music is butt though
Like having ten barbers, only one of them cutthroat
And the other nine are still getting paid, but they cut bowls
Never blending or fading, but they're still in The Cut though
Still wearing a smock, still flicking their wrists
They might look, just like a barber, but they're just not it *

Much like any other craft, lyricism takes work. I believe its something people should take pride in. I do. I love to challenge myself and come up with better ways of saying things than just the "cadence of the moment". Whenever I do a project, I try my best to convey that need for difference into each song. The subtlety is sometimes missed by the listener who has already made up their mind about what the album might sound like before they hear it. I challenge everyone to give new music a chance. Download a free album or two that a starving artist puts up and see if its not some of the best music that you have NEVER heard. Become a fan of something new! You might be surprised by what you hear. Ill even give you a headstart:

Joulz Il & RTD Present: The Il Before The Storm

-Joulz Il

*All lyrics included in this post were from the song "When Was The Last Time" from the album, "Joulz Il & RTD Present: The Il Before The Storm"