Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Trying To Find Some Common Ground


"If she could take that constructively and let me work with her. I'd make her a beast...on some real shit."

James Wade cracks me up, yo. Yesterday our interviewer extroadinaire, Waldini, gave you a peek into the psyche of one of hip hop's rising stars. Today I let you know if the fuss is worth it, as I review "The Common Ground." And the answer is...

Could Do Without

OK, we're going to start off with bad news. There are no perfect albums, although any Led Zeppelin release is close, so there are going to be tracks that sink like a two week old brownie. "Tippin" is one of those tracks. The chorus is irritating ["Tip tipping I'm tipping. Tip tipping I'm tipping.] and the beat is generic. As Mark Jackson would say, "You're better than that." On "Midnight Train," James samples "Don't Stop Believing." While the song isn't horrible, all I could think of was onion rings and Member's Only jackets. Good hip hop shouldn't make you think of greasy food. I'm just saying.

Pretty Cool

Now that we got that little bit of business out of the way, we can delve into more positive aspects. The next group of songs are pleasant enough. "6 In The Morning" is a real cool track. Wade rides the beat perfectly, and gets my head nodding. The only flaw is the chorus, which falls into generic territory. Conversely, "Good Times" succeeds due to the hook. "Smile" has a nice piano intro that slowly draws you into the beat. Wade once again rides the track nicely.

Yeah Boy

Now we've come to the meat and potatoes portion of this meal. These are the tracks that I can ride out to with no hesitation at all. "Man In My City" is that quintessential "south shit" for lack of a better term. Put the top down, crank the volume to 12, and ride out to this one.

"Man In My City"


In some ways "Just A Little" is a breath of fresh air, even though it sounds like something Kanye would have done a couple years ago. I kind of miss the "sped up sample/soul groove." Because, you know it's soulful as opposed to robotic. "Hit Record" has that slow, easy, and soulful [get the picture] groove that makes your neck do that metronome thing.

"Hit Record"


More Awesome Than The Law Allows

"...and that's how you start a record." Yes sir, you are correct. The album starts off perfectly with Wade going off the dome a capella for a solid minute plus, all while rhyming everything in threes. "I Got Somethin' To Say" is that track. Beat? Dope. Flow? Dope. Groove? Dope. This is the song that makes me think that Wade has a definite future in this game.

"I Got Somethin' To Say"


I love "Weatherman" because the hook is infectious. Seriously, I had to take some Thera-Flu the first time I listened to it.

"Weatherman"


I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the hilarious interludes, "She Wack" and "Ain't Saying Much." The quote at the beginning of the review is from "She Wack." Wade then hits us with this on "Ain't Saying Much:" I'd fuck her. That ain't really saying much. I fuck a lot of hoes for no reason." Like I said, James Wade cracks me up.

So what do I think of "The Common Ground?" I like it. I like it a lot. There is some serious potential brewing up inside of J. Wade and I can't wait to see/hear his progression. One of the aspects of this record that I really respect is the amount of attention he gives to writing lyrics. You can tell that he actually puts some thought into what he raps about. That's a facet of the game that is sorely lacking at the moment. Also, I'd love for him to incorporate a few more "soulful" beats on his following albums. I think he's got something going there. So there you have it, "The Common Ground" gets The Commission Stamp Of Approval.

You can purchase the album here.

1) Intro
2) The Greatest (Iambic)
3) Tippin (featuring Dofat and J Sic)
4) Weatherman (featuring Ced Natti and TVs Devon Wade)
5) 6 In The Morning (featuring Eazy)
6) Smile
7) Good Times (featuring AG) (Background Vocals: Emily Cooper)
8) She Wack (Interlude)
9) Famous (featuring TVs Devon Wade and Dofat)
10) Got Somethin’ To Say
11) Man Of My City (featuring Kid Vicious, AP, and S-Dot)
12) Nothins Gonna Stop Me (featuring JUS DEEP)
13) Ain’t Sayin’ Much (Interlude)
14) Jus A Little (featuring Maxx Pain)
15) Midnight Train (Vocals by Michael Brooks)
16) Hit Record (featurin TVs Devon Wade) (Background Vocals: Keyaira Hill)
17) Next 2 Me (Vocals by Courtney Beasley)
18) On My Way (featuring Dofat)

Read more!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Commission Interviews James Wade



The Commission recently interviewed one of the up and coming rappers in the game today... Mr James Wade. Dude brings a refreshing approach to hip hop and he gave me the pleasure of seeing Hip Hop through his eyes. He touches on everything from where he started to being to in college and his thought process for making songs. Pure Fiyah I tell ya!

If you want to know more about James, peep our album review, which is coming in a few days. For now, enjoy the interview! [Ed. note - The album review is live]


How did you get into Hip Hop? Who or What inspired you to be an emcee?

Bone Thugs N Harmony. I remember being a little kid and hearing them for the first time. My mom was big into R&B music but one day I was watching TV, and saw 1st of the month. It was something I never heard before, something different but all I know I was soon after I was trying to mimic everything they did. Even though I couldn’t sing a lick, I eventually started writing music.

What area do you represent?

Actually complex. I was born in Midwest, but I’ve been all over. I’ve spent time in the South because my family is from South. Technically I’ve lived in Georgia as long as I’ve been in Illinois and Ohio which is kinda crazy. I represent everywhere I guess

How does it influence your music?

Honestly I try to embody everything. I’ve always been one to soak in everything that an area gives, the people, the vibe, I tried to soak it up. I try to embrace the music I’m around, even if it’s different from what I normally am around. I like a variety of different artist, so I get exposed to so much, just a fan of everything. My music purposely reflects that.

What are the main themes/topics for your songs?

I try to build my music around a theme. I’m big into projects that have a theme. For example, I have always been a fan of Illmatic, Chronic albums like that where it was a central theme that ran whole album. No matter what song you picked, you knew it was part of a theme. Right now Hip Hop has lost that. I want to give fans what made me love hip hop. I want to take people through a whole experience. I put pieces into the project that will help strengthen the overall theme. I want fans to know I understand what they need as a Hip Hop artist and what I need to get across as a hip hop artist myself. Each song has a touch o f you getting me and you getting what you want: good song structure and good lyrics.

What do you hope to expound on going further?

My overall goal is to reach as many people as possible. I definitely feel that I have the type of music that can appeal to even wider audiences. I try to make music that reflects my life. I hang out with friends from various places, overseas, rich, poor, black, white, everyone I knew in college. It was hard to party without crossing cultural boundaries. Those people have influenced my life, so my music can reach everybody. I want everyone to get a chance to like songs, this is important. Music can bring so many different types of people together.


Could you briefly describe your music making process?


I will sit down over a period of 2 months, talk with different producers, and send them stuff I’ve done. I make songs that are completely different than original versions. I give them an overall view of what I’m looking for, then they send me certain projects. I give them creative freedom, then they can send me what they think works for me. They send me beats, I’ll listen, think to myself, and then usually the chorus pops in my head first. I’ll write it down, and then think of an artist that would make the hook or collabo work. I’ll listen to the beat over and over again, start having random thoughts, and think on the overall direction I’m trying to go.

For example Hit Record, first thing I thought about was strictly a track to let artists know my range as an artist. Talking specifically to females, I wanted to do it in a poetic way, and I kept up with a theme all surrounded around 1961. Everything in verse is centered around that. I first thought of Raisin in the Sun, it was written in 1961. Michael J Fox was born in 1961, so I used the Back to future catch line. So all those lines are 1961 references, and I know folks may or many not catch that. Within songs, I pick different themes to keep songs fresh

What has been your biggest challenge as an artist?

The business. Learning how to reach a wider audience. Getting people to pay attention to you. I remember being younger and saying I’m a rapper or musician. But there are too many critics but not enough fans, not enough folks giving them a chance. People get on MySpace, post songs out there but a lot of it is trash. Trying to get that initial listen is difficult in today’s market.

How do you get your music out then?

It’s been a different process for me. I started making records because no one was making music I wanted to hear anymore. I also started making records for fun to see if I could do it. My DJ helped me put it in more of a business perspective, got me saying you gotta do this, this, and this to get your music out. The brand has to be so distinctive and professional off the top so people will pay attention. The presentation is the most important thing now. If I have a great presentation and draws people to the music, the music will do the rest. It’s being in magazines and promoting you. It’s the branding to get you to where you want to be.

You seem like a confident guy. Hit Record, The Greatest, I can make you famous, I got something to say, nothing gonna stop me, don't scream I'm nervous and scared :-). What's your motivation?

I’m a fan of the craft in general. My motivation is to keep making music, #1, feel like music is cyclical. I kinda take a sociology perspective: take the game for what it is, don’t get mad at whose popular now. I look at the bigger picture. When I made my first record, if you told me I was going to be interviewed, I would not have believed you. I got into it for the craft. Music goes in cycle, people that got into it for fame and money, when they realize sales are going down, and then those people start to drop off due to lack of fame and money. Only people left are those that enjoy the craft.

I am Hip Hop, if 100 people buy the record, I’m still representing hip hop. We’re not all in it for the same thing. Some want a hit record. Some want to get heard on the radio. Me, I want to reach as many people as I can and hope they enjoy the music. I enjoy the fact the people enjoy it more than I enjoy it. And I want to enjoy it more than they enjoy it. I’m a fan of myself. You cannot be a great artist without being a fan of what you do. I was not a fan of myself until I started making records now. It was continuation process to get to that point. Motivation is I can get better.

Is it true you do your own production? Why is that?

I definitely don’t do it on my own. I doesn’t think it limits me. It allows me to be as versatile. So when I get a beat, I put my own spin on it. That producer may think of something I may never have thought of. I have people that don’t listen to rap primarily come into studio with me and have them hopefully say “I like that”. That means those folks represent a wider audience and help me make better records. I don’t compromise my music. I’m a fan of the music. For example, I listen to Soulja Boy and try to understand his process for making records b/c obviously he’s been successful at what he’s done

Did you really sample Perfect Strangers and Journey LOL? You are truly an 80s babies

I went to University of Dayton. I would go into bars and they would always play the Journey song. Like I said, I’m observant, being a sponge, was sent the beat, and said I will base my song around the original version but I put my spin on it so it doesn’t come off corny. I saw the opportunity to do something unique and said let me see what I can do with it.

Autotune - Hate it or Love it?

Neutral. One I don’t agree with everyone doing it. I’ve worked with a lot of independent artists, including one that used Autotune and sung the whole record. I enjoy it to a degree but it may be a crutch to some artists. I’m a fan of the craft itself, more observer than critic. It happens and it’s happening for a reason, all it is meant is to setup something else. Think of how in different time periods, hip hop is criticized. Not necessarily like what it’s doing to the game but also know for some artists, it’s a place for that. Oversaturation of anything can be harmful. For example, Clipse talking about nothing but pushing drugs.

Any Last Words?

One I appreciate the opportunity to take time out. This is great for me. It is definitely a pleasure. To my fans, I appreciate your support and standing by me. I promise to continue to strive and do whatever to get my music out there. It means more than anything to me. They are my motivation to me, will be a reason why I do music. My projects are self funded but this is my passion and I do it for them.
Read more!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

You Better Work It!


Here's a pretty cool project that is going down for all my Atlanta fashionistas. The Catwalk Project is coming to the ATL this fall and it looks pretty interesting.

The Catwalk Project is a competition between fashion designers and model groups or agencies, who are considered to be the “Top” in town. The designers will display their clothes to be judged in four showcase competitions. The model groups/agencies will compete on their creative use of the runway in their competitions. The first showcase will be in November ‘09. At the end of each showcase the number of designers and model groups will decrease. Those shows will lead to six finalist (3 designers and 3 model groups/agencies) who will then display their creative line and final routines in the fifth show, “Somewhere Ova,” a fashion theatrical production written and directed by R. Morsell, to be held in April 2010.


If you're in the fashion industry and are an ATLien, you should definitely check this out. The young lady in charge of the program is quite impressive and it's sure to be a stellar competition. Read more!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tell Me How My Forehead Tastes


Everyone's favorite seven foot-two basketball'n, break dancing, wanna be sheriff is going to be on Sports Soup (Versus) tonight at 10:00. Take a look at the sneak peak below, where Shaq kisses a man on the forehead, attempts to spell Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and lays claim to being the world's greatest rapper over six feet.

video Read more!

Apparently There Are Three Different Ways To Spell "Bust"

Da Realist:

Ouch

Their football futures were so bright, their potential so limitless, it would have been hard to imagine that the three college superstars had just peaked. Bush, Young and Leinart were taken Nos. 2, 3 and 10, respectively, in the 2006 NFL draft. But in the three years since, Canton has faded beyond the horizon as expectations have been adjusted downward for the once-dazzling trio.

Waldini:

Yea I read this yesterday too and had the same thoughts. You did hear Vince say this offseason that he wants to start AND he is going to the HOF right :-)? If you saw the preseason game against the hapless Bills on Sun, you would say Vince um maybe you just need to shut up and play....

Gangsta D:

The funny thing is, there's still time for redemption...well maybe not for Leinart.

Waldini:

There's still time even for him. I mean Kurt Warner ain't 28, he's 38 :-) Read more!

Can I Get A Hell...Wait, I'm Outta Here


Da Realist:

This is old as shit but I just stumbled on it. The way these guys are whining for sympathy on a WWE sponsored show is hilarious. Have either of you seen this?

WWE Confidential - Stone Cold Walkout (Pt. 1)


WWE Confidential - Stone Cold Walkout (Pt. 2)


Waldini:

I heard about this but never saw it. If one didn't know the full story, you say man that Stone Cold is a sumbitch. But I remember how 1) Vince screwed Bret hart in '97 (go watch that doc, it's eye opening) and 2) "issues" were resolved because Stone Cold not only appeared on future wrestling shows but his movies are produced through the WWE. Plus watch Vince on non-WWE programming like HBO's Late Night with Bob Costas. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

One of the user comments said it best. WWE, WWF, whatever hasn't been the same since Stone Cold and the Rock stopped wrestling full time.

Da Realist:

You can usually tell a lot about a person by how they handle difficult situations. I'm not talking about Stone Cold Steve Austin here, I'm talking about the WWE.

Stone Cold was there long enough for them to keep that shit behind closed doors. All that "but, but, but...the people want to know" is just bullshit. You got wrestlers dying left and right and somehow WWE keeps most of the details in house. You got the whole industry roided up, yet somehow WWE keeps most of their records private. But THIS... they wanted all the details to come out.

That WWE-sponsored cryfest was meant to do one thing -- bury Stone Cold's career. Maybe it was justified by Steve's actions, maybe it wasn't. But don't go on and on and on about handling things like a man and then spend so much effort ruining his reputation -- a reputation that took years for him and the company to build. The whole show was a way for Vince McMahon to ruin him publicly. Anything other than that was a lie.

They could have just told him to pack his bags and then told the public there was a mutual seperation. Or reduced his salary and/or appearances. What they did was a bitchmove.

Waldini:

Considering Stone Cold was one of the main reasons the WWE was able to finally overtake WCW as the #1 wrestling brand, you figure they wouldn't do something like that. I mean it was a fact many folks didn't care for Rock deciding to "retire" from wrestling and pursue acting so they didn't bury him either.

Again I point to the Bret Hart fiasco. He was torn leaving the WWE, ultimately chose WCW, but did tell Vince he would drop the belt on national TV cleanly but only not in Calgary. Vince agreed. What does he do? He plots w/Shawn Michaels and you know the rest. The following night on Raw, they insult Bret more, play his music, and bring out a midget dressed like him.

Funny, WWE is in an odd place. Very similar to the early 90s when the product got stale. Kinda reap what you sow. Unfortunately TNA is nowhere near WCW, ECW is a joke unlike the 90s and it adds up to a boring time for wrestling. Shocking for me, a huge wrestling fan to write that. Read more!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Don't Confuse This With Just Rap Music

"Ya boy is back."

The long awaited, much anticipated, hyperbolicaly hyped Blueprint 3 is ready to be dropped on us like a care package sent from above. Hov has already hit us up with a video for D.O.A., and now he's back at it again. This time he brought a couple friends with him.

Deep in the New York City boroughs of Queens, it is not often you will find loads of heavy camera equipment and crews setting for what seems like preparation of a monumental event. It was, in fact, the area of choice for the filming of Run This Town, a single off of Jay-Z's Blueprint 3 featuring Kanye West and Rihanna.

The iconic three met to shoot the video in Queens Thursday morning (August 6) - the filming, however, did not take place in familiar neighborhoods such as Hollis or Queens Bridge. Instead, history filled the air as cameras rolled in the Civil War site of Fort Totten Park.


The theme for Run This Town seemed to be of rebellious or even militant sorts. As photos of the shoot quickly leak all over the internet, the trio of artists can be seen in black-clad attire; with Rihanna sporting sleek leather shorts and boots - Kanye and Jay beside her disguised behind bandanas and sunglasses.

A setting of warfare - with overturned vehicles and enraged fires - was only complimented by the mass amounts of extras Jay requested to have included in the scenes. It was said over 80 people (also dressed in black) were filmed "rallying the troops," all to support the likes of Hov, Rihanna, and Yeezy. The vision and direction of the video was led by Anthony Mandler.

Blueprint 3 drops on September 11. Read more!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Dirty Rotten Scoundrel

Da Realist:

DAMN, I forgot how dirty this dude was.

Malone isn't just vicious, he gets away with it! Over the years, the NBA has consistently overlooked Malone and his dirty play.

Waldini:

This link was tight, how did you find this? Man, I knew about some of these incidents but not all. Definitely was a dirty dude, wonder when Stockton's "tribute" is coming :-)

Oh yea, funny enough Marshall would end up playing with Malone a few years after that incident so I guess all was forgiven.

Da Realist:

Someone sent it to me.

I'm with you. I knew he was dirty, but I forgot half the things on this list. And even the things I knew...I didn't know all the details. That game where he laid out Isiah Thomas...I saw the highlights but the game was never broadcast nationally so I didn't see the circumstances surrounding it.

I DO, however, remember how he knocked out David Robinson. That was just ugly. I do feel good that coward never won a ring. Read more!