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.
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.
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.
The theme behind this mixtape is that of fulfillment. It’s an ode to the songs that make you breathe and take everything in; it’s an ode to certain tracks that captivate the liveliness of space and illusion; and it’s an ode to those who create masterpieces that impose multiple branches on the tree of a certain song. The “Dreamin’ in Color” mixtape has a lot of themes and variety, but all of the songs are centered on a single track of greatness. Enjoy.
“Down for the Underground” -Lord Finesse
“The same guy gotta maintain my remain fly / That’s here to be, produced and arranged by / Buckwild, Lord Finesse the double-header out to flip cheddar / Stars on the rise like Chris Webber”
Depending on how you listen to the production, Buckwild either reminds you of starry skies or dreams full of Cheshire Cats and the Ace of Hearts. Or, it could remind you of something completely different. “Down for the Underground” is a testament to Buckwild’s skill behind the beats, and to this day he is still underrated. Lord Finesse supplies the track with hard-headed and precise flow, and overall, “Down for the Underground” is that perfect blend of herbs and spices.
“Bluebird” -One Self
“Drinking wine reminds me of what honest is / Making me wonder where the hell the logic is”
As if this track glides on an ice field of groovy bass stabs and twangy guitar riffs, “Bluebird” gives you the feeling of doing anything.
“Gold Soul Theory” -The Underachievers
“Freeze, repeat, rewind, back to the time I was blind / Never, I always incline the Third Eye”
Maybe it’s because this track is soaked with MJ, but “Gold Soul Theory” flies higher than a lot of other new age hip-hop tunes.
“Learn to see me as a brother instead of two distant strangers”
If there’s one thing you should know about Tupac, it’s that despite his changing styles throughout his career, he was always able to succeed as a poet. It wasn’t just his lyricism or his cadence that grabbed the attention of millions, but it was the way he presented himself on each and every track. His attitude is something often overlooked by critics, but in reality this is why he stood out. “Changes” may be one of those tracks you’ve heard too many times, but it perfectly exemplifies Tupac’s grit.
“Yoke the Joker” -Naughty by Nature
“I can snap, rap, pack, click-clack, patter-pat-pat / Take that ass to the point you have to ask for your ass back”
After hearing Treach’s opening verse, this song fully takes you.
“Orbit Brazil” -Flying Lotus
“Orbit Brazil” is Flying Lotus doing what he does best. His composition of blips and beeps mixed with experimental percussion and non-regular patterns is odd but fulfilling. The main synth breakdown is purely a takeoff into the outer reaches of space, and while orbiting over Brazil I’d love to blast this.
“Daddy Fat Sax” -Big Boi
“My daddy told me it was mine for the taking”
The pulsing introduction, Big Boi’s presence, the shrieking background synths, the joy. This song gives you the confidence to do anything. Walk into work or class with this blasting and the results will come.
Last week I explored music videos that went beyond the norm and extended the boundaries of a song. From Ice Cube’s feel-good video “It Was a Good Day” to the artistic turned cringe worthy “All I Know” by Rahzel, we here at Bonus Cut wanted to share a few of our favorite hip-hop music videos that stand out on a whole other level. This week I present to you the second part of that list, with music videos just as worthy as the ones mentioned last week.
The Cool Kids- “Black Mags”
A video about tricked out bikes over a song about tricked out bikes, so what’s not to love? For anyone who has an 89-90 Pistons champ flat-bill black starter cap with the hologram tags, you win the game.
Danny Brown- “Grown Up”
Over calming piano blips and a sample of Gorillaz’ “Tomorrow Comes Today,” Danny Brown talks about Captain Crunch, Newport soft packs and not doing homework all in the name of “growing up”. Last summer he released the music video and it surpasses the song on pure emotional consonance alone. Who would ever imagine little Danny Brown walking the streets with as much authority as he does now? This video is simplistic, yet it’s creative and highly addicting, so please, take a look for yourself.
Gang Starr- “Full Clip”
This video gets the nod because of everything surrounding it. Whether it’s the tribute to Big L, the combination of the late Guru and DJ Premier or the sincerity behind each scene, “Full Clip” is the definition of “timeless”.
Gorillaz- “Clint Eastwood”
Where were you when you first watched “Clint Eastwood?” It’s hard to think that this premiered 12 years ago, and it’s even harder to realize that this video pushed animated music videos greatly (I mean, look at those graphics). Nevertheless, “Clint Eastwood” will forever live in infamy for introducing 2D, Murdoc, Noodle, Russel, Damon Albarn’s post-Blur project Gorillaz, and Jamie Hewlett, the artist behind the band. It’s also natural that the blue phantom coming out of Russel’s head is the one and only Del tha Funkee Homosapien.
Also: if you want to see how far graphics in music videos have come, at least in the Gorillaz universe anyway, compare “Clint Eastwood” to this.
Pharoahe Monch- “Push”
Did he just say “runs the baseline like Ginobili?” Yes, in fact he did, and all NBA Finals allusions aside, this is the kind of music video where you’re listening to the music and watching the video and just sighing in relief because the two fit like melted butter on the perfect piece of burnt toast.
If film director Gasper Noé did hip-hop videos instead of freaky French films that disturbingly tore at the human mind, I could envision him directing “DOPE.” Here you have dizzying cameras that roll and pan around scenes, backwards time lapses and unique cut-framing, but unlike Noé’s work, there isn’t anything here that makes you want to gauge your eyes out with a fountain pen.
The Underachievers- “Gold Soul Theory”
The new-wave East Coast hip-hop scene is skyrocketing right now. I don’t know how influential these artists will be in the long-run, but as of now groups like The Underachievers, Flatbush Zombies, Pro Era, and individuals like A$AP Rocky and Harry Fraud are dominating the underground hip-hop waves. There isn’t much to “Gold Soul Theory’s” music video, but it’s transfixed as a ganj-soaked lapse that compliments the song quite well.
Y.N.RichKids- “Hot Cheetos & Takis”
Here we have a group of Minneapolis youths rapping about their two favorite snacks: Hot Cheetos and Takis. What’s even cooler is that this is a product of North Community Beats and Rhymes, a youth development program that gives kids a chance to record and create music that builds leadership skills and cultural tolerance. Programs like this are the reason why you’re reading Bonus Cut today.