Tag Archives: joey bada$$

In Regards to the Last Six Months (ALSO: SweetAsTheScratch, Bada$$, Tablo, Mick Jenkins, Black Milk, and Rapsody)


Acknowledging the Wayside on the A-Side

It’s been almost six months since we here at Bonus Cut last updated our website. In those six months a lot has happened, both internally and externally. I can’t speak 100% for Gus, but what I can say is that since April, through changes and happenings and despite our lack of web action, we here at Bonus Cut have been keeping ourselves in-tune with the goings on. As we are both taking on new and exciting challenges with our careers, not a day goes by where we haven’t somewhat thought about the day where we continue the work we started back in 2012.

I consider this post to be more of a snippet of where we’re at circa September, 2015, and less of an official post, though technically speaking, this is our first post in half-a-year. For our loyal readers out there that might catch this post on our Facebook page, or somewhere on the interwebs, I want to thank you for reading this. Our mission has always been to create some sort of space where we can come together as a community and discuss, plan, and organize the things that truly matter, and I felt at this random moment in time I needed to recognize you all.

Even as I type this, I’m getting emotional, and perhaps this is something I’m putting a little too much into, especially considering here in Chicago it’s midnight and I have to be on my way to school in five hours. But then again, maybe this is why I felt the need to address Bonus Cut now, in this exact moment.

I don’t think I’ve ever shared aspects of my life outside of Bonus Cut, because for me that’s something that’s never really crossed my mind. That said, in regards to the last six months and our ongoing hiatus here at Bonus Cut, I feel like sharing.

Since January of 2014, I’ve been here in Chicago, specifically the Albany Park, Humboldt Park, Englewood, and South Lawndale neighborhoods. Last August I started a service year working at TEAM Englewood High School, in the Englewood Community. There I was in a 9th grade Algebra and Reading Workshop class collaborating with freshmen before, during, and after school. This year I’m managing a team of individuals doing the same thing at Saucedo Elementary in the Little Village/South Lawndale Community. I mention this because if you’re a follower of Bonus Cut, you might have noticed a decrease in posts around the time I started this program. In fact, Gus did the same program as well, except he was working in Detroit.

Bonus Cut was never something we wanted to push to the side, but regarding our work and what needed to be done, we felt that prioritization of tasks and action steps in our day-to-day lives would inevitably lead to a decrease in posts. I write here tonight letting you all know that:

  1. We recognize this and we never had the intention to fully disembark from this adventure.
  2. Everything is good on our end, and we want to somehow bring back a space where we can all collaborate as a community.
  3. And this post here by no means ends our hiatus from regularity, but merely recognizes that it’s been a hell of a long time and that our goal is to someday get our space back onto a consistent platform.


Completely flipping the switch, I wanted to share some things with you.

I have a friend here in Chicago, and he runs a real cool hip-hop weblog. It’s more than just another hip-hop site though. As he takes you through weekly podcast discussions on the latest “must-listens” and self-created hip-hop lists such as “10 Songs About Katrina,” Sweet As the Scratch puts hip-hop into a unique lens that delves into the detail that makes the culture the mass movement that it is. Check out the link below or click on the hyperlink above.


If you know me, you’d know that I’m a big fan of Joey Bada$$ and Pro Era. This fandom is so real that when I found out one of my coworkers from Brooklyn went to high school with the PE Crew and knows them personally, I couldn’t do anything but salivate and ask him a million questions. Call me an ignorant fanboy, but through all of my stupid questions I promise there’s sincerity behind it all. If you really really know me, you’d know that I’m also a big fan of Korean music, but even more so, Korean hip-hop. As a kid growing up in middle school struggling with identity, hip-hop was something I turned to real quickly and never let go. I never really felt like I belonged anywhere until mid-way through college, and in grade school as I slowly created invisible walls between myself and a lot of my peers, hip-hop was there, offering refuge to not just me, but other outcasts and idealists caught in a world so uniquely shaped by action and nothingness at the same time. One huge factor that helped me come to senses with who I was as a person, my background, and my culture was Korean hip-hop, and more specifically a group called Epik High. Their lead MC, Tablo, was someone I truly admired. He was a “straight out of Seoul” MC that idolized 90s hip-hop such as Nas–on Epik High’s song “I Remember,” they sample “Memory Lane”–and also ran things his own way, with own style. I remember distinctly listening to their song “Love Love Love” and thinking how incredibly cheesy yet impactful it was for me.

So why am I rambling about this stuff? Well, a few weeks ago I stumbled upon a song called “Hood,” produced by Code Kunst, with Joey Bada$$ and, well, Tablo. I still don’t think I’ve gotten over this collaboration, because to be completely honest, I never could have imagined Joey teaming up with two Korean artists on a song with both English and Korean being spoken. For me, this is a special track. On one end there’s Joey, an MC that’s five years younger than I, whom I admire greatly, and have for years. And then there’s Tablo, a Korean legend that helped me dig deep and find myself.

The feels.

With all nostalgia and emotion aside, “Hood” also speaks sincerely, displaying a unique look into the Korean experience as it’s contrasted closely with Joey’s verse and the black American experience.

“‘Han’ is the name we gave to struggle and pain,” Tablo slings to open the first verse. “This river, runs through our city like it runs through our veins.”

It’s hard not to see Tablo’s mastery behind the pen and pad here. Always a master of double entendres and witty wordplay, he digs into emotions with his opener, as he addresses the cultural concept of “Han,” a feeling of oppression resulting from exposure to foreign invasions through Korea’s history. “Han” also refers to the river that runs through Seoul, running through the city just like the cultural concept runs through it’s peoples veins.

What I find most unique about this track is the interplay between Joey and Tablo during the bridge. Exchanging bars in English and Korean, I can do nothing but smile and nod:

Joey: Good lord help me
Tablo: 힙겹지만 곧 행복이 되겠지 (it’s hard but happiness will come soon)
Joey: Good lord help me
Tablo: 두렵지만 곧 행복이 되겠지
 (I’m afraid but happiness will come soon)

Check out the track for yourself below.

I’m in a Black Milk mood.

Also, thank you Mick Jenkins. Continue to talk all that jazz.

Finally, I have a random ass track I want to share that I believe we here at Bonus Cut have discussed before. The track is called “Hard To Choose” by Rapsody. The reason why I’m sharing this track again is because a couple of days ago while listening to Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly for the thousandth time, I slowly realized how prime it is Rapsody is featured on the album. Rapsody is definitely one of those class-act, dope on bars MCs that has worked hard on the grind since day one, and it makes me happy as a fan to 1) see her continue to work on the material that matters with the artists that matter and 2) gain exposure through one of the most influential and important artists of our time while retaining everything that makes her who she is. Feels. Enjoy. Gracias.

Dan Hodgman

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Exploring The Minds of Hip-Hop: The Bonus Cut Fantasy Draft (Part Three)


By: Harry Jadun with help from the Bonus Cut staff

Click here for part one.
Click here for part two.

Fantasy sports has taken off. Due to the rise in technology and the internet, fantasy sports has not only become unbelievably popular in the United States, but also all around the world. Here at Bonus Cut, we have decided that we would take the concept of fantasy sports and apply it to hip-hop music. Instead of drafting wideouts and running backs, we’ve drafted some of our favorite MC’s and beat makers. The big winner in this situation is you. Not only do we introduce you to some of our favorite hip-hop artists and explain why they are relevant in hip-hop culture, we’ve also laced the Draft with dope tracks for your audio pleasure. With this draft, our goal is to pay tribute to some our favorite hip-hop artists and acknowledge the influence they have had on our lives.

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Remembering Capital STEEZ and the Finer Things


By: Daniel Hodgman

Jamal Dewar, known by his stage name Capital STEEZ, was one of the founding members and architectural mastermind behind Brooklyn’s Pro Era. He rapped with focus and precision, often times making intricate allusions to his life while at the same time throwing around rhymes about the soul, inner-perception and the new “underground mainstream.” STEEZ was a genius; he was an established MC who poured the pulsating realities of his world into songs that could persuade even the tightest of critics to engage in a Pro Era yap fest. Ultimately, what STEEZ reflected in his music was that of an enigma-wrapped soul either lost in the mysterious cavities of life or a soul that simply punctured the surface of life’s very realm. On December 23, 2012, Jamal tweeted “The end.” The next day he took his own life. He was only 19.

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The Best Hip-Hop Albums/Mixtapes of 2013 (So Far)


By: Daniel Hodgman

We have now reached the halfway point of 2013, and like any other critic obsessed with rankings and arbitrary lists, I’ve decided to share some of my favorite hip-hop albums and mixtapes of the year (so far). Admittedly, I didn’t think 2013 would provide as well as it has, but with a plethora of diverse works and records already out and six more months of music to add, this is going to be a good year for hip-hop. It already has been.

So without further ado, here are my favorite hip-hop albums/mixtapes of 2013 so far.

DFD- Old Boy Jon

Let me just say that Duke Westlake nailed the production on this mixtape. To be completely honest, I’m not a big fan of glossy and clean-cut production like this, but Westlake completely works with Dumbfoundead’s style. Although DFD finds himself searching for content throughout this album, it’s his ability to turn this album into a visual party that makes this worth the listen.

Ghostface Killah and Adrian Younge- Twelve Reasons to Die

I’ll say it right now: I think Ghostface Killah is the most consistent Wu-Tang member when it comes to solo work. With the exception of the mediocre Ghostdini, all of Ghost’s work profiles the best while bringing in something new and unique. I can gladly say that Twelve Reasons to Die follows suit. Here Adrian Younge takes control of the production and layer cakes this record with a cleverly crafted sandbox of haunting sound that gives the sword-wielding and fist bashing lyrics a deeper meaning. I would argue that this record would be better if it was cut shorter, but there’s no denying how sweet it is to listen to such chemistry.

Homeboy Sandman- Kool Herc: Fertile Crescent EP

Homeboy Sandman is an MC from New York City and is signed with Stones Throw Records, a West Coast production company. Not that this really matters or anything, but if you follow Stones Throw (think Madlib, Guilty Simpson, J Dilla), then you know their unique underground hip-hop sound. With Kool Herc, you’re basically getting another Stones Throw, Adult Swim-esque record, but it carries itself well without this label. “Dag, Philly Too” sounds like a smarter Das Racist cut, “Lonely People” mirrors Quasimoto and crafts its own shape, and “Men Are Mortal” rattles your head lyrically, but in a good way (“I been the infamous since drinking infant milk / Whomever want to cause an incident I be like “It’s a deal” / I’m not interested in spending an instant with the infidels / Can tell I used to read Fidel and rock Big L”).

Joey Bada$$- Summer Knights

I’ve always been impressed with Joey Bada$$ because of his seemingly effortless flow, his respect of 90s hip-hop and the mere fact that he’s only 18 years old. After his 1999 mixtape hit the interwebs last year, I knew we had something special. Now that his second solo mixtape, Summer Knights, is out, I now realize Joey Bada$$ may be the second-coming of something. See, I can’t quite equate him to someone comparable, but maybe that’s why he’s so appealing. He is quite literally a new-age rapper with a 90s Golden Age mind. With that being said, he’s so much more than that. His flow is confident and smart, and yet he still carries his youth with him—which is probably why fans of all eras of hip-hop find this kid mystifying. On Summer Knights, Bada weaves stories of youth (“Trap Door”) with lessons to live by (“Word Is Bond”) while flooding the speakers with crisp cadence and guest appearances by Alchemist, Smoke DZA, DJ Premier and more.

Kid Tsunami- The Chase

Australian producer Kid Tsunami is one for nostalgia on The Chase. His beats sway easily, leaving a lot to the MC on the track, but don’t confuse this with simplicity. On “What It Was”, the construction of the song consists of a tumbling bass and Gang Starr-like horns, and although guest J-Live is the center, it’s too hard for him to conceal the contents of Tsunami’s beat. Elsewhere, KRS-One runs on “These Are the Facts”, a swift track that could accompany a car chase scene, and “Ar Toxic” a lounge-like song with guitar twangs and Kool Keith’s recognizable bars.

Killer Mike & El-P- Run the Jewels 

If R.A.P. Music hadn’t been released the same year as good kid, m.A.A.d city, it would have been “album of the year.” That’s because Killer Mike and El-P constructed a package so unique and revealing that it almost threw us all a curve. Their 2013 project is different stylistically, but just as rewarding. Run the Jewels is a harsh listen, and might even be a turnoff for those not familiar with El-P’s production (especially his work with Company Flow), however it’s harsh for all the right reasons. El-P mixes each song with choppy blips, buzzing, choppy guitars, cymbal smacking and dark and heavy synths that stab and smother. What’s most notable about Run the Jewels is that El-P retains his rapping skills and compliments Killer Mike in every way. Since R.A.P. Music didn’t grab “album of the year” in 2012, I have no problem with Run the Jewels capturing 2013.

Sadistik- Flowers For My Father

If you can get past the initial skepticism behind this project (the quirky flow at times, the album art), Flowers For My Father will truly move you. The title and subject matter of the record are telling, which, for the most part, covers the death of Sadistik’s father and the depression that ensued from the event. But sleeping beneath this cover is an MC with content that is as crippling on the ears as it is on the brain. This isn’t a bad thing either; this is an album chocked with emotion and sincerity. Flowers For My Father is built off of crumbling facades: the death of his father, holding onto hope, loss and the death of Minnesota legend Eyedea. On “Micheal”, Sadistik puts everything on the table: “With you Mike I wish that I could hug you again / It’s getting harder to pretend and I can’t undo what’s been / Thank for being someone I could come to, a friend / I hope I make you proud, I love you, the end.”

Statik Selektah- Extended Play

Not only does every track on Extended Play standout with Statik Selektah’s timeless East Coast boom-bap production, but every track also features emcees of all eras coming in and showing off. There are 38 guests in total ranging from Action Bronson and Black Thought to Prodigy and Smif-n-Wessun, and while at times this record has a mixtape-like feel with disheveled content and parity, there’s no denying Stat’s ability to construct a solid record from top to bottom. The variation within the album is there too. On “Game Break”, an airy track with skinny piano chords, backing synth coos and a SWV sample, Lecrae, Posdnuos and Termanology talk about the game making them better men (“Get something man, cultivate a creation / Don’t blame it on your lack of education”). Comparatively, “Pinky Ring” sees Prodigy spitting over a funk-driven track with eerie background squeaks and loose percussion swells. See, Extended Play might not be as cohesive as other albums, but it successfully melds different sounds and eras into one of the most listenable records of the year.

Styles P- Float

Styles P has always been one of the most respected MCs out of New York City because of his strict attention to detail and consistency. With Float, P continues to tread along this blueprint while at the same time throwing in some curveball experimental sound; “Hater Love” sounds like a thrashing epic from a mafia movie, “Red Eye” hops like a dark-disco beat that could fit in the Roll Bounce soundtrack and “Shoot You Down” plays like any other big city anthem with light horns, soaring vocal samples and sample interludes within the contents of the track. Lyrically, P is dominating in every aspect. On the eerie “Manson Murder,” he puts it all on the table: “Basically, hit you with the hard nigga recipe / Fuck you! If you ain’t with me, you’re next to me / I ain’t one for the small talk / Goes to get it in it like Nucky on Boardwalk.”

Ugly Heroes- Ugly Heroes

From an outsider’s standpoint, Ugly Heroes is a concept album that covers everything from class structure to human emotion, but once you delve into the record it becomes apparent that it’s an anthem for hip-hop as a whole. Though most of the record is negative and downtrodden in content, songs like “Just Relax” and “Push” gives Ugly Heroes a light of confidence that only strengthens it as a whole. Red Pill and Verbal Kent are sincere and bold throughout, and Apollo Brown’s lush sample-heavy production provides the two MCs a beat to march to. Even with all of the hype surrounding this project, Ugly Heroes exceeded expectations in almost every category.

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The Bonus Cut Midweek Break: Pro Era’s Dedication, Geno Smith Signs With Roc Nation Sports and The Specktators Say Goodbye


Pro Era’s “Like Water” and their Dedication to Capital STEEZ

Over a solemn Statik Selektah produced track that features ringing piano swells, New York hip-hop group Pro Era drops the video to “Like Water,” a moving ode to their fallen member Capital STEEZ and the everyday oppression that hides behind life’s never-ending facade. The first verse is actually Capital STEEZ himself and as his verse runs over the somber sounds of a bereaved cut, the video transitions between stunning shots of Brooklyn under the spell of kerosene contained sprawl. The third verse comes from CJ Fly and at this point the video focuses on a touching mural of STEEZ on a Brooklyn building wall. Between STEEZ and Fly’s verse, Joey Bada$$ delivers the usual–a commanding cadence mixed with intricate wordplay and detail.

“Like Water” is refreshing and heartfelt, and the video not only stands behind these feelings, it fully embraces them. You can check out the video below.

Geno Smith Signs With Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports

A couple of months ago, Bonus Cut co-creator Gus Navarro wrote a piece on Jay-Z and his impact on the community. In it Gus mentioned Jay-Z’s new Roc Nation Sports management agency, a sub-let from the entertainment company Roc Nation. This past week it’s been reported that football quarterback Geno Smith, recent West Virginia standout turned New York Jet, has signed with Roc Nation Sports, joining the likes of New York Yankee Robinson Canoe, New York Giant Victor Cruz and WNBA star Skylar Diggins.

Now of course this wouldn’t be worthy news if there wasn’t some controversy tied into it, and that’s exactly the baggage that comes with this small story.

According to NFLPA, it seems as if Jay-Z and his staff illegally recruited Smith and broke the “runner rule,” which states that only registered agents within the confines of the NFLPA can recruit players. Smith on the other hand says that Jay-Z didn’t recruit him and that he chose the agency for himself after deliberation with his family and friends.

No matter what way this seemingly unimportant story goes, this event does bring into question that of Jay-Z’s influence. Has it come to the point where he feels he can break small yet unequivocal rules and get away with it? Are these rules that he might have broken too hollow? Does anyone even care about the New York Jets anymore?

Onto the Next Step: Mid-Michigan Hip-Hop’s The Specktators and Their Last Show in the Mitten

On June 1st at the Loft in Lansing, The Specktators threw a goodbye party. Along with hip-hop electronic duo Green Skeem, The Specktators celebrated with fans, friends and family as they hosted their last show in Michigan before moving out to California to further pursue their career in hip-hop.

Earlier this year The Specktators signed with MTV/Sony ATV’s “Extreme Music” label.

Although Bonus Cut wasn’t able to attend the show due to prior events, we feel it’s our duty to honor local hip-hop and hip-hop that we grew up with. (Daniel: “I remember getting a Specktators mixtape from my friend in high school and was astonished that this was happening 5 miles down the road. They’ll always be one of those hip-hop names I’ll stand by.”)

The Specktators are made up of Moe-T and Packi and hail from Lansing, Michigan. Check out “REFS” below.

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