Tag Archives: ice cube

An Ode to the Music Video (Part One)

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By: Daniel Hodgman

It’s easy to get caught in the music of an artist and let the overwhelming qualities engulf your soul. For the most part, the appeal comes from the music. But what about the music video? Isn’t a music video just as intriguing as the single itself? Not only are you getting the song, but you’re getting a blend of visuals that move hand-in-hand with the tunes. This is an ode to the music video, an overlooked piece in any musical genre.

Here is the first installment of hip-hop videos that transcend the norm:

Camp Lo- “Luchini” 

An ode to the movie Dead Presidents? THANK YOU.

Ice Cube- “It Was a Good Day” 

Ice Cube perfectly portrayed a “good day” lyrically that many thought the music video wouldn’t hold up to the song, but in typical Cube fashion disappointment was nowhere to be seen. The impressive feature about this video is that it quite literally goes hand-in-hand with everything Cube raps about. In fact, the song and video are so detailed that this dude pin-pointed the exact date Ice Cube is talking about. January 20, 1992 is officially National Good Day Day.

Kanye West- “Flashing Lights (feat. Dwele)

The video for “Flashing Lights” plays out like an O. Henry story; it’s a short, it’s sweet and there’s a bit of a twist at the end. By the 1:45 mark you start to realize everything, but it isn’t until the 2:10 mark when you fully see where things are headed. This is the best kind of simplicity.

Madvillain- “All Caps” 

I love comics and hip-hop and there’s no way I wasn’t including this.

Rahzel- “All I Know” 

Sometimes some good digital editing, hilarity and gross cut-scenes make a great music video. Also: shout out to anyone who played NBA Live 2000 (go Timmy D).

The Roots- “The Next Movement”

The song’s flow is like water and the video is gritty and architectural. As The Roots go through various positions and set-ups, they don’t seem to even notice it. One of the more innovative music videos in all of hip-hop.

Tyler, The Creator- “Yonkers” 

I’m pretty sure the first time you all watched this video you thought it was genius, because it is. For a group of teenagers (at the time), this video features first-class editing and cinematography from a music video standpoint. There’s a reason why this is just under 60 million views on Youtube…

Wu-Tang Clan- “Triumph” 

No explanation needed.

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Album of the Week: “I Wish My Brother George Was Here” by Del tha Funkee Homosapien

brother george

Del tha Funkee Homosapien
I Wish My Brother George Was Here
Elektra Entertainment, 1991

Daniel’s Thought 

“Hey yo Del”
“What?”
“What the fuck is a funkee homosapien?”
“It’s a human being fool, a funkee human being.”

On the opening track to Del tha Funkee Homosapien’s debut album I Wish My Brother George Was Here, we enter a realm where we in question ask: what exactly is a funkee homosapien? As Del gives us an immediate response while “What Is A Booty” slowly fades into the second track, the full answer isn’t laid out until the completion of the album.

I Wish My Brother George Was Here is more than just a representation of Del and his first-person narrative and perception on life. In fact, it’s a culmination of varying factors that eventually builds up to this. For one, Brother George is a strict ode to George Clinton and his bands Parliament and Funkadelic. Riddled with samples from Parliament, Funkadelic, James Brown and The Meters, Brother George takes the influence of funk and warps it into danceable hip-hop. The album also, almost unconsciously, bridges the gap between East and West Coast hip-hop: the hard-hitting breakbeats are often accompanied with silky p-funk grooves and live instrumentation creating an ominous West Coast style (something that should be credited to executive producer Ice Cube, Del’s cousin), while Del’s lyrics and rhyme drawl mask that of De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest.

What’s most important to note however is Del’s approach on his debut album. Brother George scans and scours the everyday lifestyle, whether it’s about his frustration towards the city bus system (“The Whacky World Of Rapid Transit”) or explaining his morning routine (“Sunny Meadowz”). Moreover, it’s not just that he covers life on a grounded plateau, it’s that he re-directs the focus from harder artists like his cousin Ice Cube and shows us that he’s someone we can easily relate to.

This isn’t the only tune Del marches to however, because some of the best songs on Brother George are the ones that delve into societal issues. “Mistadobalina” takes shots at those who misrepresent themselves to fit into a stereotype (“The little two timer resembles Aun Jemima / With jeans and a dirty white hoodie”). And on “Ahonetwo, Ahonetwo,” Del attacks social norms and his ability to be his own creative self (“And I giggle when I see ya liver prune / I’m a funky human being not a monkey or a coon” and “I plan to grow dreads but first a nappy fro / The longer the hair, the easier to scare a foe”).

At 18, Del tha Funkee Homosapien unleashed a record that mixes tributes to funk legend George Clinton, stances against social and political issues and the notion that hip-hop can also be enjoyed when it covers the everyday grandeur of life, instead of the exponentially singular themes that more concise concept albums possess. It also helped bridge the gap between East Coast and West Coast rap, during a time when hip-hop was unaware of what was going to happen in the near future. Brother George is good for any debut artist, let alone Del tha Funkee Homosapien, and its this eclectic mix of subject matter that really pushes it to the top. It’s a calming voice of reason with a stab of realness, and it’s a constructed piece of social matter with varying calm-me-down songs. In essence, Brother George is what hip-hop is and always will be.

Gus’ Thought

When the 1991 release I Wish My Brother George Was Here by Del tha Funkee Homosapien was released, it came in accordance amongst the racism, turmoil and oppression of California in the early 1990’s. This was a post Civil Rights Vietnam era that was still reeling from the crack cocaine epidemic and the annihilation of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. Additionally, this album debuted after N.W.A. released Straight Outta Compton in 1988, only months after the Rodney King beating and just before the L.A. riots in April, 1992. This was a time when hip-hop was just being indoctrinated into the commercialization that is popular culture. Needless to say, there was a lot of subject material for MCs to discuss in their music.

Beyond the social, political and economic context of the early 90’s, it is immediately clear that I Wish My Brother George Was Here is a musical masterpiece. Drawing from legendary funk groups such as Parliament, Funkadelic, the Meters, the Monkees and James Brown, this album pays homage to a time where Funk and P-Funk would have been heard blasting from record players. For example, “Same Ol’ Thing” is constructed entirely of Meters classics, including “Cissy Strut” and “Hand Clapping Song.” A sample of the Parliament classic, “P-Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up)” can be heard on the 10th song, “Sunny Meadowz.” What’s more, the “George” referred to in the title is none other than the funk architect himself, George Clinton. Produced by The Boogie Men, Ice Cube and Del himself, I Wish My Brother George Was Here is a production masterpiece that perfectly balances the art of making a good record with pointing out the dire situations that were a result of generations of racial discrimination in Los Angeles and Oakland specifically.

Perhaps the best part of Del’s lyricism is the fact that he raps about what he knows, what he has experienced, and how it effects his community. In “Hoodz Come In Dozens,” he describes the mercilessness of gang violence. “Hoodz come in dozens, read it in the papers / Seems like everyone caught a little vapors / You can’t escape em’, so don’t even plan it / Gangsta Boogie fever has taken over Planet Earth / Now your life is worth a pair of Jordan’s?” And again, on “Dark Skin Girls” where in the hook Del proclaims, “Dark skin girls are better than light skin / Light skin girls ain’t better than dark skin.” On this song, Del is deconstructing the socially created notion of attractiveness and is challenging the concept of beauty. It’s an important thing to rap about, especially in the wake of 15 year old Latasha Harlins’ murder  in March, 1991.

As you listen to I Wish My Brother George Was Here, the funkiness jumps right out at you in the best kind of way. So many of the classic hip-hop songs feature jazz samples, but how many utilize the grooviness that was Funk and P-Funk? The brilliance of this album lies in the fact that many of these songs and their funk samples make you want to get out of your seat and dance. And yet, the lyricism of Del takes you right back to the struggle against oppression and generational fight for true racial equality in 1990’s California. This was a serious time in the cities of Los Angeles and Oakland, and Del tha Funkee Homosapien harnesses this significance and juxtaposes it with a brilliantly produced record that pays respect to the revolutionary music that existed before hip-hop. George Clinton’s music was great because it was groovy, and also revolutionary. Del tha Funkee Homosapien is able to harness the energy of funk and a revolutionary spirit to make people dance and think just like Parliament, Funkadelic, and James Brown.

Must-Listens:
“Pissin’ On Your Steps”

“Hoodz Come In Dozens”

“Mistadobalina”

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