My friend 12manrambo and I just opened a small record store here in Oakland, CA. It is called Park Blvd Records & Tapes. The address is 2014 Park Blvd, up the street from the old Parkway Theater and around the corner from Lake Merritt which is the greatest lake. You can follow us on Instagram, Twitter, the World Wide Web and Facebook. If you are in the Bay Area we are open Tuesdays through Sundays from 12pm to 7pm. If you are not in the Bay Area we will be putting together a little online shop eventually and then you will be able to lie and tell people you went to the Bay Area even if you didn’t.
Trouble Funk f/ New York Incorporated Live @ The Maison, New Orleans 8/16/14
Or Washington comes to Mr. Fresh, to be more accurate. A few weeks ago I had a chance to see DC go-go pioneers Trouble Funk perform alongside Mannie Fresh in his hometown, the last great American city of New Orleans. The show, presented by Red Bull Music Academy, was pegged to the tenth anniversary of The Mind Of Mannie Fresh, which seems like a rather inauspicious cause for celebration. While it is his only major label solo album, and a very good one at that, The Mind Of remains a relatively slept on work from a producer with a gang of widely revered classics under his belt. But it proved relevant not so much in influence or visibility but for what it does musically. There have always been throwback threads running through Mannie’s work – he modeled the Hot Boyz after the Furious Five, for instance – but The Mind Of might be his most explicit attempt to rationalize those influences with early ’00s rap music. Read more…
Last night the great Baton Rouge, LA rapper Kevin Gates performed to a sold out crowd at the New Parish in Oakland, CA. I’m going to try and write down the things I saw as quickly as possible because I can’t sleep. And because Gates’ moved through his set at a similar pace. It was like a stealth mission. He barreled onto the stage directly from the depths of the audience with a small posse in tow  and proceeded to run down eighteen of his songs – or at least recognizable enough fragments thereof – in under an hour. Read more…
J Money f/ Yung LA – “Summer”
The Internet, 2014
A few months ago the two most important overlooked innovators in modern Atlanta rap history reunited for a song about how great summer is and of course it fell far under the radar because that’s where these guys stay. “Summer” is everything you could possibly want from two guys everyone forgot – it’s old-swaggy but not especially outdated or redundant, it’s autotuned but only a little bit and it delivers more joy in under three minutes than K Camp does in all of his songs combined.
Bas f/ J. Cole – “My N***a Just Made Bail”
from Last Winter (Dreamville/Interscope, 2014)
An unexpectedly nice little cut from J. Cole’s nigh-ungooglable weed carrier who some how got to put out an album on a major label at a time when even Lil Wayne can’t get a release date. Bas doesn’t get in the way here and Cole himself shows up with a typically Colesian verse (Frederick Douglass was the Frederick Douglass of rhetoric, buddy) but much like the only other J. Cole song I’ve ever enjoyed the track owes its success to simple but smart sample selection. (In both cases I was like Hey Well At This Guy Is A Pretty Great Producer At Least before realizing that no Cole did not actually produce either song.) The loop here sounds familiar but not immediately recognizable – it could very well just be Generic Brazilian Guitar #43 – still it makes a nice enough addition to the Copacabana backpack rap canon alongside J-Live’s “Don’t Play,” Consequence’s “Don’t Forget ‘Em” and uhhh I guess this pre-Fergie Black Eyed Peas single. (Produced by GP808 and Hottrak)