What We’re Listening To This Week: July 5-11

Black Blood Ft. Isaiah Rashad & Kent Jamz- King Los

Baltimore rapper King Los has been known in the past as the king of freestyles but has struggled to put together original songs or a solid album front to back. His debut God Money War, was released over a week ago and it shows progress. It features his stand out single War, one of his best songs to date. Black Blood features TDE rapper Isaiah Rashad and singer Kent Jamz. Both Los and Rashad deliver verses discussing growing up without a father figure but instead of being a dark song, the bouncy, piano production makes it sound more upbeat and positive. This fits in with Los’s verse where he chooses not to dwell on the pain in his past,

“Cause I still see the sun rise, and the moon shine

I look in my son’s eyes, and I’m grateful two times.”

In an interview following the albums release, Los referred to Rashad as a “true artist” citing his ability to rap his verse and then go back and add falsetto ad-libs layered behind. God Money War has it’s ups and downs but features some of the best work of King Los’s career and Black Blood is among it’s best songs.

Under Control- The Internet

A few years ago Odd Future was one of hip-hop’s strangest and most popular young groups, headed by Tyler, The Creator and Earl Sweatshirt. The group has since broken up but that hasn’t stopped some of it’s individual members from thriving. The solo careers of rappers Sweatshirt and Vince Staples have taken off but it’s neo-soul band The Internet that may be the next big thing to come out of Odd Future. Comprised of former Odd Future members Syd The Kid (singer) and Matt Martians (producer) and various live instruments, the band had gained a following with it’s first two albums Purple Naked Ladies and Feel Good. Their newest release Ego Death is beginning to get national recognition, even getting features in Time Magazine and the LA Times. On Under Control, Syd provides great lyrics over strong live instruments,

“Can’t help but feel like I’m wasting precious time in my life

Worrying about behaviors, sometimes I think I’m to nice.”

Alright- Kendrick Lamar

While Alright has been out for a while now, Lamar only recently shared the music video, just days after his controversial (for no good reason) performance of the song at the BET Awards. Lamar’s performance was criticized by the one and only Geraldo Rivera who highlighted the lyric “We hate po-po, wanna kill us dead in the street for sure,” saying that lyrics like this are why “hip-hop has done more damage to young African Americans than racism.” …Yes a well known reporter actually believes this. In response Lamar said “how can you take a song about hope, and turn it into hatred.”

Filmed in Oakland, the video is more than just the song Alright, and in the intro we hear the pained screams of the song u, a clip from Cartoons and Cereal and the spoken poem from To Pimp A Butterfly. The intro is full of shots of the city streets and it’s inhabitants and ends with a man gunned down by police. We then see Lamar in a car with fellow label mates Ab-Soul, Schoolboy Q and Jay Rock, being carried by police officers. This, along with shots of Kendrick floating around the city while rapping, show that we are in some sort of dream. From there we see everything from people dancing on a cop car to Kendrick hanging upside down and finally him rapping on top of a light pole. In the end, Lamar is shot down by a police officer from the pole, a scene that director Colin Tilley said was to emphasize that you are never to big or famous to be untouchable. Still, once he hits the ground and appears dead, Lamar opened his eyes and smiles, telling us all “We gonna be alright!”

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