In 2011, Mitt Romney announced to the United States that he was uniquely qualified to run for president because of his business background of turning things around. The country was several years removed from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression and still facing many obstacles on the road to recovery. Romney saw himself as the right person for the right time to drive American forward. Unfortunately for him, the economy, by and large, operates independently from the executive branch of government, so as well-intentioned as he may have (or may not have) been, he was wrong, or at least misguided, and the economy continued as did the Obama presidency, making Mitt a mere footnote in American election history.
Hip-hop and weed go hand-in-hand, but ciej‘s “dbs heaven” proves rappers should pass on the blunt and chug a tallboy. The influence of alcohol on the EP reeks like a drunkard’s breath to a cop at 3AM on a Saturday. Pent up on the second floor of blank space and powered by the buzz of beer, ciej strings together pages of thoughts onto six tracks that borderline incoherent, but remain strikingly honest. Like a drunk conversation, “dbs heaven” has the brazen confidence of giving no fucks, the freedom to say whatever is on one’s mind without the filter of expectation or the fear of external perception. Though the themes of the EP are very ciejy — women, money, life — the glossy delivery and convoluted production create a unique context that mitigates any thematic cliche.
At its worst, “Black Sunday” is an average hip-hop album. Without the courage to explore uncharted territory in the genre, Arshad Good‘s comfortableness in what he likes had the possibility of sinking this project, but the groove and vibe is undeniable and ultimately makes this 9-track effort successful. What Arshad lacks in originality is easily compensated by a dedication to quality hip-hop. The formula may be tried and true, but damn it if it’s not addictive and head-bobbing.
Put a jazz quartet on the block, run their sounds through a synthesizer’s distortion engine, and hand Mir a microphone to let him spit off the dome, then you might have some understanding of what his new project “Wet Hu” has to offer. There’s no middle ground on Mir; you either applaud his lyrical aptitude or ascribe his rants as incoherent gibberish. Much in the same way Beck invigorated the alternative world with his off-the-wall diction, Mir has no filter and does not slave himself to following hip-hop’s building blocks for track creation. There are no clever metaphors, no radio singles, no club-friendly arrangements, everything freely flows from Mir’s conscious, an undeniably original perspective of expression that explores his fears, desires, and existence. This is most obvious on the project’s most cohesive track Draw, where Mir states, “If I ever say a word, if I ever speak, it will be free, it will be me.”
Saint Louis seems to be on the edge of breaking out into the national hip-hop scene for the last three years. Despite the successes of some, our artists are largely irrelevant in the game. With an abundance of Chicago artists on the edge of supernovae, perhaps more heads will turn their gaze to the Midwest, but we cannot be dependent upon the popularity of city that is not our own. A new year offers new hope for those in our scene looking to make it big. After studying how and why rappers become noticed, here is some collective advice on how to be ahead of trend and to realize your own success.
We may remember 2014 as the turning point for Saint Louis hip-hop. Any head in the scene will tell you our music is overlooked and under-appreciated, but how we project our sound to the masses has yet to be understood or realized. Previous years saw local artists bending towards national trends in an attempt to piggy-back success, but it seems lessons have been learned and the new rap modus operandi is to focus on making the music terrific and forget about promotion or hype. The result is a lot of great releases and a definitive “Saint Louis sound” — modern interpretations of historical blues/jazz instrumentation and voices echoing themes of honesty, struggle, and inequality.
As Summer turns into Autumn, the creeping realization hits that 2014 is coming to an end. For music bloggers, this realization invites reflection on the last nine months of new releases, which ultimately leads to the question: who made the most noise and should be considered as the Artist of the Year? For Saint Louis, the answer is Con, and here’s why.
This blog post is the second entry in a three-part weekly series concerning my opinions on the scene and culture of hip-hop in Saint Louis. If you haven’t read part one, Unity Breeds Mediocrity, click here. Disclaimer: the following article is aimed at individuals interested in a hip-hop music career. If you are an artist who is holistically creating for yourself and have little ambition to make money from your music, then you are not the target audience of this post — but I encourage you to read for pleasure, regardless.
This blog post is the initial entry in a three-part weekly series concerning my opinions on the scene and culture of hip-hop in Saint Louis. Unity is a prevalent theme in local artists’ attitudes towards their interactions and engagements of fellow artists. The lack of unity is oft attributed to the lack of progression and notoriety of the same local artists ability to become known on a more regional and national level. If our capitalist-driven society has taught us anything, it is that competition is healthy and regularly necessary to foster quality in anything: cars, cameras, candidates. Furthermore, the unilateral praise and support of a product that is not quality is detrimental and incredibly damaging to not only the creator of that product, but also other creators who produce the same thing. So how does all of this fit into Saint Louis and its hip-hop? Continue reading, and I’ll share my thoughts on this connection.
A hip-hop purist, eighteen-year-old J’Demul is trailblazing the road to success with a number of quality music releases, culminating in a new EP entitled “Black Poet” and a video for his single 1995 From Now. In a nod to his past and his birth year, J’Demul taps the smooth swagger of his hip-hop predecessors, beckoning to hip-hop’s glory days. The video, directed by the award-winning Louis Quatorze, time-travels to the forgotten technology of the 90s that is used to project J’Demul’s cool, yet striking demeanor. Enjoy a nostalgia-trip that emphatically complements this eighteen-year-old’s craft and raw talent, and be sure to follow him on social media as he quickly ascends the ranks in the hip-hop world.