Daily $wagg’s “This Day in Hip-Hop History” Section is Back!

Dear Readers of Daily $wagg,

Daily $wagg’s “This Day in Hip Hop History” column will continue. I can promise you that. However, earlier in the month I made a promise to you, the $waggin’ faithful, claiming that I would fill in all of the nearly 2 months of missed “This Day in Hip Hop” days. As of now, I am unsure of whether the all of the past days will be filled in. However, I can reassure you that with today’s “This Day in Hip-Hop History”, the portion of this blog devoted to past rap achievements and landmarks shall continue daily from here on out. This post is absolutely 100% $wagg Certified.

100% $wagg Certified

100% $wagg Certified

This Day in Hip Hop History

Donda West's Book, "Raising Kanye"

Donda West's Book, "Raising Kanye"

Today, January 10th, marks the day 4 years ago, Donda West, Kanye’s mother’s final autopshy revealed she died of “coronary artery disease and multiple post-operative factors due to or as a consequence of liposuction and mammoplasty”. The death of Donda majorly impacted Kanye and his career, causing him to record the album, 808’s and Heartbreak. Today also marks the day 6 years ago Pennsylvania governor, Ed Rendell, signed 80’s Atlantic Records artist, Cool C’s, death warrant. Cool C was convicted for murdering a female police officer in an armored bank robbery. We also wish a happy 43rd birthday to underground West Coast and horror-core legend, Brotha Lynch Hung.

Now Strange Music Artist and Horror-core Pioneer, Brotha Lynch Hung

Now Strange Music Artist and Horror-core Pioneer, Brotha Lynch Hung

“Take Care” by Drake Review

"Take Care" by Drake

"Take Care" by Drake

Daily $wagg grades reviews based upon the Grade Point Average scale. Identical to the system used by most schools to measure academic excellence, Daily $wagg grades an album track-by-track on a scale of 0-4 (F-A) then adds them and divides by the number of total tracks leaving an overall average somewhere from 0-4. Albums will also receive grades for Lyrical Preformance (flow, voice, etc.), Lyrical Content (what they rap about), and Production (beats, instrumentals, etc.).

With a #1 debut and nearly a million and a half copies of his debut album, Thank Me Later, sold to date, Young Money/Cash Money superstar, Drake, has become one of the most sought after R&B artists/rappers in the entire world. Synonymous with forehead tattoos and teenage love, Drake is undoubtedly one of the leaders and iconic figures of a generation. After much acclaim and criticism for his softer, more rhythm and blues oriented, mushy, lovey sung hooks, and surprisingly charming, (or annoying depending on how you view him) ringing, monotone voice, Drake released his second album, Take Care on Young Money Entertainment and Cash Money Records in late November. The album, as expected, debuted #1 and went gold its first week. It is now certified platinum and is nearing the bi-platinum mark as the former nickelodeon actor’s stock continues to rise. However, despite his successful sales, many pondered, ‘would the former Grammy-nominated artist suffer the looming sophomore slump, or continue to make some of the most desired and hot, pop-oriented music around today?’

After about 2 listens, Take Care warranted a 2.81 on my GPA scale. Take Care, in my opinion, fails to carry the weight or excitement of Drake’s first effort. Despite brief high-points of real storytelling, lyricism, and interest, Drake’s second effort generally gives off the vibe of a soppy love story that failed to reach a climax. With songs like “Headlines”, “We’ll be Fine”, “Lord Knows”, and “Look What You’ve Done”, Drizzy Drake manages to retain his knack for clever lyricism as well as relatable, interesting storytelling. These, undoubtedly being Drake’s most appealing traits, are unseen throughout most of the album and only appear on tracks here and there. However, Drake lands the usual expected all-star guest cast for lyrical help and mostly verses, with Lil Wayne (twice), Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, Birdman (who hardly plays a part), and the highly desired and rarely heard, Andre 3000 of Outkast, all appearing on tracks . Most of these star’s parts are hits with a miss here and there but an overall good selection from Drake’s camp for outside assistance. As far as lyrical performance, Drake’s output is as solid as ever. Despite this, Drizzy occasionally exceeds the amount of singing that should be endured by a hip hop fan within a brief period, sometimes falling into the soggy, boring tone the album caries at times. Nonetheless, Drake manages to find a decent balance between rapping, storytelling, love stories, ballads, and soppy singing.  Lyrical content-wise, Drake also manages to find a decent balance, at his best when speaking into his own life, narrating the ups and downs of his encounters with stardom and widespread fame. Drizzy Drake’s only problem in this category is his tendency to fall victim to generic, boring, and often irritating love songs. Pertaining to production, Drake stays solid, sticking to personal friends, 40 and T-Minus, as well as big-name producers Boi-1da and Just Blaze among others. All in all, Take Care displays a slightly above average performance from Drake, with an excess of lazy, slow love songs continuing to dampen Drake’s hopeful bright spots found on Take Care.

Drake in the Rogers Center, the Stadium of his Home Town MLB Team, The Toronto Blue Jays, for the Shoot of his Video, "Headlines"

Drake in the Rogers Center, the Stadium of his Home Town MLB Team, The Toronto Blue Jays, for the Shoot of his Video, "Headlines"

“Radioactive” by Yelawolf Review

Yelawolf's Major Label Debut, "Radioactive"

Yelawolf's Major Label Debut, "Radioactive"

Daily $wagg grades reviews based upon the Grade Point Average scale. Identical to the system used by most schools to measure academic excellence, Daily $wagg grades an album track-by-track on a scale of 0-4 (F-A) then adds them and divides by the number of total tracks leaving an overall average somewhere from 0-4. Albums will also receive grades for Lyrical Preformance (flow, voice, etc.), Lyrical Content (what they rap about), and Production (beats, instrumentals, etc.).

Nearly 2 months ago, up and coming southern rapper Yelawolf dropped his major label debut, Radioactive. Yela, nicknamed Catfish Billy, has been one of the most controversial rappers to throw his hat into the ring within the last year. With high points like opening for Raekwon internationally and opening for Wiz Khalifa’s “Waken Baken” tour and low points like being booed off stage during some of these shows, Yela has undoubtedly garnered the mass’s attention.  I mean, when’s the last time you listened to anybody from Gadsen, Alabama rap? Let alone, an underprivileged fatherless Cherokee and Caucasian guy whose spent time as an attempted professional skateboarder and charter fisherman and was birthed when his mother, a bartender, was only 15 years of age attempt to rap? I’ll go out on a limb and guess never. Then, to top all that uniqueness, the godfather of all white rap, Eminem, signed him to his own Shady Records. Maybe, the most interesting figure in rap within the last few years, Yelawolf’s story has intrigued many. With all this attention, Catfish Billy’s (what rapper has ever had a nickname like that?) debut album was looked at as an opportunity to prove the doubters wrong, and cement his spot amongst talented up-comers as more than just a man with an intriguing American Idol-esque sob story as well as chance to avoid the virtual limbo of simply being an interesting but talentless rapper.

While many receptive outcomes were possible, Radioactive has been moderately successful, selling 50,000 copies in its first week and peaking at #27 on the Billboard 100. After listening to Yela’s major label debut 2 or 3 times, the album garnered a 3.39 on Daily $wagg’s GPA grading system. Radioactive was an album I initially slept on. I purchased it on clearance and popped in a buddie’s car as background music thinking it really to be nothing more. However, when I listened deeper into it, Yelawolf’s ability to merge country, hip hop and rap, alternative rock, punk rock, and melodic love ballads all into one cohesive album should be considered nothing less than impressive, even claiming “You’ll never see rock n’ roll do hip hop like I did!” on party anthem, “Hard White (Up in the Club)” featuring Lil Jon. Catfish Billy also hosts a vast cast of featured emcee’s and singers incorporating little name artists such as Shawty Fatt, Rittz, Poo Bear, Priscilla Renea, Fefe Dobson, and Mona Moua  mostly for hooks as well as big name legends and rap heavyweights Eminem, Mystikal, Kid Rock, Lil Jon, Gangsta Boo, and Killer Mike. Most of these guest appearances are well placed and succeed barring a few misses. Despite this long list of guests, Yelawolf’s patented flow, some-what an unintentional blend of Twista and Eminem, shines throughout the entire album, making this a fantastic solo effort. Yelawolf’s lyrical performance ranks among the best of 2011. His unique flow combined with his easily identifiable voice makes for an incredible performance as well as his lyrical content. Yela’s lyrical content could be the highlight of the album and maybe even highlight of his career, telling stories about growing up in poor backwoods Alabama, rapping the usual party antics, and even throwing in a few charming and charismatic love songs throughout. Though Radioactive’s production boasts some big names such as the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Jim Jonsin, and Eminem, Catfish Billy tends to be at his best when he sticks to the majority producer, Willpower and other little name producers. Overall, Yelawolf’s performance puts his debut on the cusp of a classic, a very solid start to say the least. Now his only challenge will be his pace of musical output, as the Alabama artist is already 32 years old.

32 Year Old Yelawolf aka Catfish Billy

32 Year Old Yelawolf aka Catfish Billy

“Ambition” by Wale Review

"Ambition" by Wale

"Ambition" by Wale

Daily $wagg grades reviews based upon the Grade Point Average scale. Identical to the system used by most schools to measure academic excellence, Daily $wagg grades an album track-by-track on a scale of 0-4 (F-A) then adds them and divides by the number of total tracks leaving an overall average somewhere from 0-4. Albums will also receive grades for Lyrical Preformance (flow, voice, etc.), Lyrical Content (what they rap about), and Production (beats, instrumentals, etc.).

On November 1st, Wale dropped his Maybach Music Group solo debut with Ambition. The 27-year old emcee has had a fairly strong showing with his first effort, Attention Defficit, roughly 2 years ago which was generally well received but failed to sell. The once Roc Nation rapper, now with Rick Ross’s Maybach Music Group, was able to achieve a far better performance chart-wise and commercially with his second album reaching #2 on the Billboard 100, selling nearly 300,000 copies to date with more than half of them sold in the 1st week. Wale’s slowly rising star as well as appearances on songs like “No Hands” by Waka Flocka Flame has set the stage for Wale’s second official LP.

After about 3 listens and a track-by-track rating on the GPA scale, Wale’s second album earned a 2.89. This is one of the few albums with an expectantly low rating that has surprised me when all was said and done. However, Wale’s lyrical genius shines throughout the entire album despite shaky production on second half of the album with songs like “DC or Nothing” and “No Days Off” radiating a corny generic vibe. None the less, Wale’s lyrical performance and wisely positioned guest appearances deserve recognition leaving us with great collaborations such as Neyo on “White Linen (Coolin’)”, Big Sean on “Slight Work”, Meek Mill and Rick Ross on “Ambition”, and Lloyd on “Sabotage”. Though the Kid Cudi feature on “Focus” and both of Rick Ross’s verses on the album felt like misses, Wale managed to find the perfect type of track with the perfect mood for each artist he welcomed as a guest star. As far as Wale’s lyrical content, the capital city bred rapper didn’t stray very far from the typical topics of women, money, and a lavish lifestyle such as songs like (the very melodic) “Miami Nights”. However, Wale did display his knack for lyricism (particularly on very melodic beats) with lines like “this is anti-Mark McGwire/it takes patience for power” on “Legendary”, earning him a perfect 4 in the lyrical performance portion of this review. The production was extremely solid within the first half of the album but withered on the final third of the tracks. Overall, it would be considered unfair to hold Wale accountable for the album’s downfalls as most of the problems with the album cannot be attributed or affiliated with his performance. With all this being said, it is certain that Wale can make his case for the best lyricist on the Maybach label as well as the best rapper on the Maybach imprint (even over the big boss).

Maybach Music Group (From Left to Right: Wale, Pill, Rick Ross, Meek Mill)

Maybach Music Group (From Left to Right: Wale, Pill, Rick Ross, Meek Mill)

“Blue Slide Park” by Mac Miller Review

"Blue Slide Park" by Mac Miller

"Blue Slide Park" by Mac Miller

Daily $wagg grades reviews based upon the Grade Point Average scale. Identical to the system used by most schools to measure academic excellence, Daily $wagg grades an album track-by-track on a scale of 0-4 (F-A) then adds them and divides by the number of total tracks leaving an overall average somewhere from 0-4. Albums will also receive grades for Lyrical Preformance (flow, voice, etc.), Lyrical Content (what they rap about), and Production (beats, instrumentals, etc.).

Though Mac Miller’s debut album, Blue Slide Park, was released nearly a month and a half ago, I decided to review it anyway. The album was very significant chart-wise, becoming the first album from an independent label (Rostrum Records) to top the Billboard since the Dogg Pound Gangstaz first effort, Dogg Food, hit number 1 in ’95. Since I am from Pittsburgh and have known about Mac Miller pre-K.I.D.S. I tried to let my personal feeling about him effect this review as little as possible. With that being said, here’s my take on Blue Slide Park.

Within the last year, you would be hard-pressed to find any rapper whose popularity has grown as rapidly as Mac Miller’s. Thanks to a storm of mixtapes from the age of 15 to now, Mac now secures one of the most loyal fanbases in recent history, comprised of a slew of teenage high school to college age kids willing to listen to almost anything the Pittsburgh-native drops. Mac’s playful nature and slew of mixtapes have left high levels of anticipation for the young rapper’s first full length LP. Blue Slide Park, which was named after a local Pittsburgh park, has sold nearly 200,000 copies to date.

After listening to the album 3 or 4 times on my GPA scale, the album earned a 3.05 total. While the album has its ups and downs, the production was near perfect, with most tracks tailored to fit Mac’s sometimes somber and subtle tone and laid back delivery. As far as Mac Miller’s actual performance and lyrical content on the album, he fared well with the first half of the album but not as well on the second half. Most of Blue Slide Park’s songs seemed to be hit or miss lyrically. However, as far as lyrical content, (surprisingly) Mac Miller mostly shied away from his habitual recurring lyrics revolving mainly around weed, being a teenager, and partying in favor a more substantial, sometimes even introspective theme (with lyrics like “Thinkin’ bout my people who was murdered in the Holocaust/got me thankful just for life by itself/and there’s way more people here I should be tryna to help/am I wrong for spendin’ money how I do, probably yes” from “PA Nights”). Despite Mac’s lyrical maturity and unique production, the album is shaky and inconsistent at times with tracks like “Up All Night” and “Loitering” (though catchy) feeling out of place on the album. While Blue Slide Park is definitely not a classic, it probably best exemplifies Mac Miller’s room to grow as an artist, but still puts forth a solid first showing and base for the blueprint of his career grow plan.

Mac Miller in the "Frick Park Market" Music Video

Mac Miller in the "Frick Park Market" Music Video

Daily $wagg is Back!

Dear readers and visitors of Daily $wagg,

I apologize for Daily $wagg’s recent hiatus of posts. This blog is a pure one man show and despite his extremely high level of $wagger, maintaining a blog while juggling school, a job, and all the other various aspects of life is not easy (especially when you’re not getting paid to do it). Plus, the Big Pimpin’ network hasn’t been doing so hot lately leaving my internet connection less than adequate. Nonetheless, Daily $wagg shall continue, starting today, ending a near 7 week hiatus. Also, I have completed my reviews for Ambition by Wale and Blue Slide Park by Mac Miller (yes, I know they came out over a month ago). I am still working on Take Care by Drake, Radioactive by Yelawolf, Mac and Devin Go to High School by Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dogg, Undun by the Roots, and TM:103 by Young Jeezy. Also, I like to give an album at least 2 but preferably 3 or 4 listens before slapping a grade on it so the reviews take a little while. Lastly, the This Day in Hip Hop History portion of this blog will continue, as I even vow to fill in all 43 days that were skipped. Thank you to the readers of Daily $wagg. Stay $waggin. This post is 100% $wagg certified.

100% $wagg Certified

100% $wagg Certified

This Day in Hip Hop History

Jay-Z's 9th Album, Signifying His Comeback ("Kingdom Come")

Jay-Z's 9th Album, Signifying His Comeback ("Kingdom Come")

Today, November 20, marks the day 5 years ago that Jay-Z “came out of retirement”, ending a 3-year musical drought by dropping his 9th album, Kingdom Come. The album produced the single, “Show Me What You Got”, and debuted #1, was certified platinum, and recieved positive reviews (somewhat of a pattern for Hov). Today, we also wish 1/3 (technically 1/4) of the old school rap groups the Beastie Boys and A Tribe Called Quest Birthdays. Mike D turns 46 and the Five Footer, Phife Dawg hits 41.

This Day in Hip Hop History

Lil' Bow Wow as a USC Trojan

Lil' Bow Wow as a USC Trojan

Today, November 19, marks the day 4 years ago that Romeo Miller aka Lil’ Bow Wow, signed his letter of intent to play college basketball at the University of Southern California. The move to give Miller the scholarship (He only averaged 8.6 ppg his Senior year), is largely attributed to the willingness of USC to secure Bow Wow’s friend and current NBA player, Demar DeRozan, as well as Miller’s connections thanks to his father and former NBA player, Percy Miller or Master P (I’d love to see the one-on-one games in that family. The 5’11 “Like Mike” star’s 2 years as a Trojan were disapointing though, as he only played 19 minutes in 9 games dropping 5 pts. Today, Daily $wagg also wishes a Happy 22nd Birthday to Tyga. The young Young Money artist drops his 2nd album, Careless Word: Rise of the Last King in 1 day over a month from now. Today also marks the day 9 years ago that Ja Rule dropped his 4th album, The Last Temptation, as well as the day 1 year ago Nicki Minaj dropped her debut, Pink Friday.

Nicki Minaj's Debut, "Pink Friday"

Nicki Minaj's Debut, "Pink Friday"

This Day in Hip Hop History

Fabolous (Now Age 34)

Fabolous (Now Age 34)

Today, November 18, Daily $wagg wishes a Happy 34th Born-Day to Bed-Stuy emcee, Fabolous. Fab has made waves in the news the last few months with his recent twitter-beef and fight with singer, Ray J. Also, today marks the day a full decade ago NaS dropped his critically acclaimed single, “Got Ur Self a… (Gun)” off his comeback album, Stillmatic. The song was somewhat of a subliminal diss to Jay-Z at the height of their highly publicizing feud. After NaS claimed “when I see you Ima take what I want so I got mine I hope you got yourself a gun”, Jay-Z responded with the diss to the same instrumental calling it “Got Myself a Gun” directly dissing NaS.

Album Art for the Single, "Got Urself a... (Gun)" by NaS

Album Art for the Single, "Got Urself a... (Gun)" by NaS