By: Daniel Hodgman and Gus Navarro
The Mixes is a Bonus Cut series that focuses on themed mixtapes. The purpose of this series is to share music in hip-hop, but also to share the ability to express feelings through mixtapes. The premise takes after Rob Sheffield’s book Love is a Mix Tape, but unlike his book, these mixes will vary in theme. Although I will have notes explaining why I included each song, the overall interpretation of the songs and the mixtape as a whole is on you. Music is fickle because it triggers different emotions, and one of the greatest feelings is determining your thoughts for specific music on your own. Although Bonus Cut provides The Starting Five, a weekly list of songs the creators are currently digging, The Mixes is an individual entity because of its focus on certain themes.
Past mixtapes: The “Keeping a Current With What’s Current” Mixtape
Past mixtapes: The “Dreamin’ in Color” Mixtape
The “Dice Raw” Mixtape
Philadelphia MC, Dice Raw, has been in the game for quite some time. He may not be as well known as some other MCs out there but he always steps correct and comes to the table with bars. On August 19th he will release a solo album entitled Jimmy’s Back. This was inspired by Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow, which challenges the staggering statistics regarding the “War On Drugs,” the school to prison pipeline and the mass incarceration of African-American males. This is an important issue that is being addressed in academic scholarship as well as hip-hop. The goal of this mixtape is to feature some of Dice Raw’s best moments and highlight his growth as an MC unafraid to drop line after line, to a fearless artist that uses his music to provide critical social commentary.
“The Lesson Pt. 1” –Do you Want More?!!!??!
“I guess you’re believin’ that I’m insane / When I’m taggin’ my name upon the train / I got so much pride, I got so much soul / With lyrics I make niggas stop, drop and roll.”
From way back, Dice is in rare form as he slays this track from start to finish.
“Clones” –Illadelph Halflife
“I train wack MCs, in camps like ex-marines / Why the fuck you think you went home and had bad dreams of horrifying things that your ass never seen before? / You traveled to the realm of Dice Raw / Where the clones get they domes blown with chrome microphones.”
Dude is not messing around with the metaphors on this one.
“How I Got Over” –How I Got Over
“Out on the streets, where I grew up / First thing they teach us is not to give a fuck / That type of thinking can’t get you nowhere / Someone has to care.”
On this one Dice somberly provides the lyrics for the hook, effortlessly complimenting the laid back groove laid down by The Roots.
“Tip The Scale” –Undun
“Gettin’ money’s a style that never plays out / Til’ you end up boxing your stash, money’s paid out / The scales of justice ain’t equally weighed out / Only two ways out, digging tunnels or digging graves out.”
Dice Raw’s development as an artist is on full display as he sings the hook and an insightful verse in which he discusses the challenge of avoiding incarnation.
“Ain’t Sayin Nothin’ New” –Things Fall Apart
“With CD’s, cassettes, no C.O.D.’s or checks / Straight from the old school, aiyyo Raw’s in full effect.”
Dice Raw’s delivery in “Ain’t Sayin Nothin’ New” is scratchy and scattered, but he keeps supplying kick-punching one-hitters that all the mind is focusing on is his ability to lyrically attack.
“5 Stages of Death” –Reclaiming the Dead
“16 to your back, you ain’t going to make it.”
Most of Dice Raw’s debut record is poor, and that’s not even a big knock against him, it’s just that he’s always been a wonderful piece to The Roots’ records (Dice Raw is to The Roots as Cappadonna is to The Wu). However, “5 Stages of Death” is a very interesting take on songwriting, and it’s here where we see Raw’s imaginative mind.
“I Will Not Apologize” –Rising Down
“Don’t blame the nigga, blame America, it’s all business / Acting like a monkey is the only way to sell tickets.”
Dice Raw throws color-blind racism right at your face without dumbing it down.
“One Time” –Undun
“Cause we all going down just like the subprime / Or a cheap ass half gallon of Ballantine.”
One of the smartest lines I’ve ever listened to. Either we’re going down like the mortgage crisis or a cheap half gallon of alcohol.
Make sure to stay tuned for August 19th and the release of Jimmy’s Back. In the meantime, watch this short documentary from Dice Raw that illustrates the challenges faced by convicted felons and the redemptive power of music.