Editorial Archive

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Sara’s Most Anticipated Albums of 2011

The title explains it all so let’s just dive right in!

Blink 182 – TBA [TBA]
After a tumultuous 2004 that resulted in an “indefinite hiatus” that began in early 2005, Blink 182 reunited in 2009 citing a new found appreciation for life and friendship after drummer Travis Barker was one of only two survivors in a small airplane crash. Potty-mouthed kids-at-heart rejoiced! Blink has gone through some dark and very adult things in the past few years and has experimented with different genres outside of their pop-punk roots, so it will be interesting to see what direction they go in. The band embarked on a reunion tour and released the name of the potential first single (“Up All Night”) which only fueled more anticipation. Now all that’s left is for the band to announce a title…and a release date. I’m still stoked.

No Doubt – TBA [TBA]
No Doubt’s hiatus/solo projects/reformation time-line coincides pretty closely with Blink 182’s and coincidentally, the bands’ co-headlining tour in 2004 was the last tour for each before their respective hiatus’. With the news of a new album and a tour with great supporters (Paramore, Katy Perry, Janelle Monae, just to name a few), the band has built up more anticipation by signing Rock Steady producer Mark “Spike” Stent. Personally, Tragic Kingdom will always be my favorite and I couldn’t wrap my head around Rock Steady when it first came out. But with a much more open mind and better appreciation for a groovy dance beat than I did a few years ago, I’m curious to see what these O.C. veterans come up with.

Bayside – Killing Time [2.22.11]
One of my few emo leftovers, this band holds a special place in my heart. I’ve watched them grow from side stages to headlining, was star-struck when I met the members on my birthday and really made me question my love for bands who write such morbid and bloody lyrics that you should probably remove all sleeping pills, razorblades and nooses from your home. Sure that sounds dark, but like every band they grew up but in doing so they’ve managed to keep their character. Not to mention, lead guitarist Jack O’Shea is barely 5′ tall but shreds like a giant.

CAKE – Showroom of Compassion [1.11.11]
With lead singer John McCrea’s tongue-in-cheek lyrics and audience-shaming shows, you can’t help but love CAKE. They served us piping hot hits like “Going the Distance,” “Short Skirt, Long Jacket” and “Never There” in the ’90s and early 00’s. It’s been seven years since the band has released a new album and our cravings are definitely hitting hard, especially since the band has released the tasty preview of the album’s first single, “Sick of You.” Not enough food puns? Wait till the album emerges from the oven.

The Strokes – TBA [March-ish, 2011]
Another band coming off of a hiatus, The Strokes’ New York style has been missed. Lead singer Julian Casablancas released a solo album which sounded like The Strokes on a computer. He has said that the music sounds like a mixture of 70’s rock and “music from the future”…So I’m assuming the album will sound like his solo debut. I have no problem with that.

Justice – TBA [TBA]
Not having released an album since 2007’s Cross (the album is actually a cross but I don’t know how to make that character), Justice’s no-name, no-release-date, no-song-titles, future, metaphorical album is looking to be amazing. Especially if Cross‘s recognition is a sign of what’s to come (Grammy nom for Best Electronic/Dance Album; No. 15 on Pitchfork’s best albums of 2007 and No. 18 on Blender’s).

Jay-Z & Kanye West – Watch My Throne [TBA]
Kanye West. Need I say more?

Lupe Fiasco – Lasers [3.8.11]
Fiasco’s album, The Cool, was one of my favorites of 2007. It covered topics of heavy politics (“Little Weapon”), struggling to make it (“Hip-Hop Saved My Life”) and fun (“Go Go Gadget Flow”). It was a great balance of everything while still being smart. With a drama-filled back story of the album’s inception mixed with Fiasco’s talent, Lasers will surely be one of 2011’s best.

Devotchka – 100 Lovers [2.12.11]
If you don’t know the name, you should. I reviewed the eclectic foursome’s 2004 album, How It Ends and you’ve heard half that album on the soundtrack of the movie “Little Miss Sunshine.” This band (somehow) seamlessly merges Romani, Greek, Slavic influences with Bolero, Mariachi, punk and folk. Sure it seems like a hot mess on paper, but in your ear it’s heaven.

Cut Copy – Zonoscope [2.8.11]
Soothing sounds and club beats dance around Cut Copy’s albums. The electropop band draws inspiration from 80’s New Wave and synth pop so their albums aren’t overly thumpy which is a nice break sometimes. We previewed a song from Zonoscope (in remix form) and it is looking to be a good one to continue a solid line of releases.

Pusha T – TBA [TBA]
Spitting clever lines as a featured player in some of Kanye West’s songs (GOOD Friday releases and on his album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy) and as one half of Virginia Beach duo Clipse, Pusha T has proven his worth as a rapper. His rough-and-raspy delivery impressed West and has given fans yet another reason to anticipate one of his productions.

Here are some other pages you may like:

http://www.entertheshell.com/lupe-fiasco-the-cool/
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A Look Back At The Shell

2010 was a year of great progress in music and here at Enter the Shell, but the year got off to a bad start. In January, we lost R&B legend Teddy Pendergrass and an earthquake devastated Haiti.  In that same month, the Enter the Shell Show began incorporating live interviews into the show.  Joey Winter of The Steelwells was our inaugural interview.

In February, a re-make of the 1985 song “We Are The World” was recorded and released to help the victims of Haiti recover from the earthquake.  February the crew has their first ever 7-sum, when we were joined by all four members of The Rescues.  We were also joined by Emily Wells, Lucy Schwartz and LeTron.

In March, while the world was catching Beiber Fever, Lil Wayne went to jail.  We also caught up Laura Jansen, The Pocket Rockets and Seaspin.  Ky was also involved in a minor fender-bender and lost her beloved Honda.  The rap world lost a legend in April with the death of GURU.  We also caught up with Katie Costello and Wires in the Walls.

In May, Lee DeWyze won American Idol and we caught up with Greg Holden, Cary Brothers and Arian Saleh.  June was a poignant month for us at Enter the Shell.  We caught up with Trevor Keith and The Shondes.  We also experienced change with the departure of Dr. J from the podcast.  The format of the Enter the Shell Show changed to feature more music from the amazing musicians we book.

In July, armed with a new podcast, we decided to kick it up a notch and flip the entire website.  The website was unveiled with great interviews with Lady Danville, Dead Man’s Army and Hacienda.  We also celebrated Ky’s birthday with her favorite rapper Wizdom.

August was a time where we got a glimpse into the future of the Enter the Shell Show.  Lifter and O!Mega were the first guests to come into the studio and join us for a live podcast.  It was also the month where we picked up a new blogger, Richard.  We also celebrated our 2nd birthday with Young the Giant and Emily Wells in the same show!  In September, while everyone was bored with the VMAs, Sara decided to be interactive and did her first ever live blog.

In October we changed the podcast again.  We decided to incorporate live music and make the entire show about the musician.  Lucy Schwartz was our first live act, performing three songs for us live at her home.  Katie Costello soon followed with more live music.  We also started recording our podcasts at NoHo2 studios with the help of Mark Doty.

In November, we decided to take it to another level and have a live studio audience with Greg HoldenEddie Cohn and Saavy also joined us in studio last month.  We also said goodbye to long time co-host Ky, as she left for Houston to pursue and expand the podcast.  We kicked off December with live performances with AFTER, Omar Torrez and Paper City.  This is also the last month with our Editor-in-Chief Sara.

Enter the Shell has been committed to providing our readers/listeners with a fresh perspective in music.  With the website constantly evolving, what’s in store for 2011?  More creativity and more live shows!  After all, we are The Music Movement!  Join us for the ride!

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Grammy 2011 Nominations Reactions

The first half of this is reaction is by friend of EnterTheShell.com and Drinkcast alum, Michael.

Michael’s Reactions

The Grammys had their annual nomination party complete with performances by Katy Perry, B.o.B, Bruno Mars, Train and Justin Bieber. The event was held to announce the Grammy Nominations and springboard the promotion of the big show, the 53rd Grammy Awards (which will air Feb. 13, 2011 at 8pm ET/PT).

Here’s the thing about the Grammys: They have the weirdest guidelines for your work to be nominated. Albums must be released between Sept. 1, 2009 and Sept. 30, 2010 (a 13-month period) to be eligible for this year’s Grammys. So anything that comes afterwards is out of luck, which puts us out of luck because some of the best music comes out during the latter part of the year. Why can’t the Grammys take a note from the Oscars, which wait for the whole entire year to get the crème de la crème films in contention?

By following these guidelines they’re really short-listing this year’s Best Album race. This being the Grammys, the best album race covers a variety of genres: The Suburbs, Arcade Fire (Indie Rock), Recovery, Eminem (Rap), Need You Now, Lady Antebellum (Country), The Fame Monster, Lady Gaga (Pop), Teenage Dream, Katy Perry (Pop).

Being completely honest, if I were a voter I would vote for The Suburbs by Arcade Fire, not only because it’s one of the best albums of the year, but also because it is light years better than the other nominees. My real problems with these nominations are with GAG-a and Perry. First, wasn’t The Fame nominated last year? It was, in fact. Doesn’t The Fame Monster have the same songs? Yes, in fact 14 of the 22 tracks are from the prior album. Ok, ok so let’s take the eight new songs and say that’s the basis for the nomination; those must be some really phenomenal songs, right? Second-rate Madonna knock-offs. With the exception of “Bad Romance,” I call this nomination a bust.

I would have gone with The ArchAndroid by Janelle Monae, two entire suites of musical bliss, or even Lungs by Florence and the Machine. The Katy Perry nomination also feel unearned seeing as most critics lambasted the album, unless this was the academy’s thank you for performing at the televised nomination party.

Record of the Year nomination went to B.o.B and Bruno Mars (“Nothing on You”), Eminem feat. Princess RiRi (“Love the Way You Lie”), Cee Lo Green (“F— You”), Jay-Z and Alicia Keys (“Empire State of Mind”) and Lady Antebellum (“Need You Now”). The showdown for this award will be between the collaborated songs “Love the Way You Lie” and “Empire State of Mind,” which puts last year’s Rap/R&B chart-topper with this year’s Rap/R&B topper. If I had it my way, Cee Lo Green’s “F— You” takes the prize.

Best New Artist is the most diverse I have seen in a while: Florence and the Machine, Mumford and Sons, Esperanza Spalding, Justin Bieber and Drake. I hope Florence and the Machine wins this one and I’m glad the fans don’t pick the winners or else Bieber Fever would sweep the entire show.

For those disappointed by this year’s nominations, well better luck next year when the overhyped (read: over it) Kanye West and Taylor Swift showdown will take center stage. Yes, I’m already hyping up next year’s award show…Maybe I can snag a nomination for Best Spoken Word Album!!! Oh, sorry I’m out of contention. It seems that GAG-a’s Fame Whore Monster stole all the nominations.

P.S. we all know who the reigning pop queen is anyway and its not you Gaga its Robyn (!) whose “Dancing on my Own” was robbed!

Sara’s Reactions

Not to worry, my friend. Robyn got her nomination as more were announced throughout the evening. Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own” was nominated for Best Dance Recording along the likes of Goldfrapp (“Rocket”), La Roux (“In For The Kill”), Lady Gaga (“Dance in the Dark”) and Rihanna (“Only Girl in the World”). We’ve got some huge pop heavyweights on this list in Gaga and Ri-Ri, but it’s time for them to step aside and let a real dance veteran (Robyn) finally get what she deserves.

Our girl Janelle Monae deserved to be in the Best Album category HANDS DOWN but instead she must settle for Best Contemporary Album while “Tightrope” feat. Big Boi got a nom for Best Urban/Alternative Performance. I’m really peeved by this. I’m not the only one who believes Jane deserves a Best Album nom, as The ArchAndroid: Suites II and III has appeared near or on the top of countless Top Album lists around the blogosphere.

Speaking of Big Boi, probably the most under-rated song of the year which appears on probably the most under-rated album of the year, “Shutterbugg” feat. Cutty gets a nom for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. Good luck to Big Boi, whose album Sir Lucious Left Foot…The Son of Chico Dusty is more likely than not going to make it to the top five on my list of best albums of 2010.

On the rock end, ETS faves Vampire Weekend, Arcade Fire, Band of Horses, The Black Keys and Broken Bells round out the nominations for Best Alternative Album. In my opinion, Vampire Weekend’s Contra or Broken Bells’ self-titled debut are totally deserving of the win. Band of Horses’ Infinite Arms was a disappointment while I just can’t wrap my head around The Black Keys (Brothers) or Arcade Fire (The Suburbs).

In a fun favorite for Michael and myself, Kathy Griffin and Flight of the Conchords will be duking it out for a tiny gold phonograph for Best Comedy Album. My vote goes to K-Griff who I’m a huge fan of but more for the reason that FOC’s I Told You I Was Freaky was nothing compared to their self-titled debut (with the exception of “Carol Brown”).

Now, there’s no way we can react or even read every nomination on this list (do they really have to have a nomination for EVERY genre?) so to see the list for yourself, click here and see if your favorite artist made the cut. Then, give us YOUR reactions!

Here are our takes on some of the albums mentioned above:

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Editorial – East vs. West Coast rappers aren’t the only musicians with beef

With the recent news of the murder of Mexican banda singer Sergio Vega, I was exposed to a whole new lesson in music. Like great examples of West Coast/East Coast rap rivalries (such as Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls), some musicians in the Mexican music scene are constantly looking over their shoulders.

“Narcocorridos” are ballads that are sung as a Mexican music tradition. Vega, along with many other musicians of the “grupero” (Mexican folk) genre,  sing about and glorify the lives of drug dealers, often making these musicians targets to rival gangs. Which leads us to the way Vega was killed.

According to HuffingtonPost.com, Vega was driving to a gig on June 26 when a truck pulled up beside him and shot at him. Vega lost control of his car because of his injuries and crashed, at which point the assailants pulled over and shot him at close range (some sources say up to 30 times) to finish him off. There is no proof yet that this murder was the work of the rivals of a drug gang that Vega may have praised in one of his songs. It certainly is a rational theory because merely hours prior, he was denying rumors of his death. Not to mention the singer put himself at risk with the type of music he was known for.

Though an incredibly sad story, I can’t help but be intrigued by this! Upon hearing news of his death and reading the news reports, I was exposed to this genre that I had never heard of. Here in America, I’m used to Americanized individuals making fun of ranchera and banda music. You’ve heard it. That music that features blaring horns, accordions and a bouncy beat. Who knew that music that sounded so upbeat could be so dark? Especially if you’re not familiar with the genre or language. I’ve been acquainted with the Spanish language, but not enough to really understand lyrics sung at a “normal” pace (I usually have to ask people to slow down if they are speaking to me in Spanish).

From rappers like the aforementioned to the likes of Frank Sinatra and his supposed ties to organized crime to the now seventh death of a singer in the grupero genre to be murdered in three years, it is apparent that some musicians aren’t necessarily living “the dream.” Sinatra was plagued by pestering FBI reports against him while others were busy dodging bullets.

I guess it just goes to show that no matter what the genre, there will always be someone out there attracting drama! Musicians who put their lives in the middle of real life issues do so at their own risk; and some pay the price.

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Editorial on Chris Brown- Man Up Please!

As many of you probably didn’t know, the BET Awards were recently held here in sunny Los Angeles.  With the world mourning the one year anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death, BET decided to pay tribute to the gloved one.  So who did they decide to perform his songs?  Ne-Yo?  Usher?  John Legend?  Jaime Foxx?  No!  BET decided to trot out Chris Brown?

Let’s get some things straight before you continue to read, because this article admittedly is a bit bias.  I had never heard of this guy until he beat up a poor, defenseless girl, Rihanna.  Ever since then, this guy has been crying his eyes out, telling the world that he is a changed man.  I mean every time I see this guy he’s not just crying, but he’s sobbing uncontrollably.  We are a very forgiving nation, so I can accept his apology, but that doesn’t mean I can forget it either.  Think about this, if a man ever put his hands on your mom or sister, would you ever stand up and cheer for him?  I think not!  Would you feel sorry for the guy if he started to cry?  Truth be told, you’d probably enjoy it.

In my opinion, this was just another sad attempt to re-gain an audience that has left him.  We have ALL made poor choices in life, but we need to accept the consequences of our actions.  We as a country can forgive this man, but that doesn’t mean we can forget.  We can forgive, but that doesn’t mean we’ll support or give a standing ovation to the guy.  We all go through tough times, heck they make you stronger.  Chris Brown needs to stop crying and man up and take whatever punishment he gets.  It made me sick when certain people gave him a standing ovation, although they have that right to do so.  I heard a popular singer say that Chris Brown had been through a lot.  While that is true, people need to realize that HE brought this to himself, no one else!

So why is Brown crying?  Is it because of Jackson’s death, his impact on Brown’s music, the poor record sales or the desperate attempt to win back fans?  Judge for yourself:

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Editorial: Sara’s got something to say too!

Yes, I know. I’m not Mailo. I’m Sara; the one who tends to keep her heated opinions to herself. Well, not this week! This week, I have hijacked Mailo’s Editorial blog and am holding a gun to society’s head and pleading, “STOP PRE-RELEASING ALBUMS IN DIGITAL FORM ONLY!”

Now, I get it. It’s the 21st Century and everything is digital. I used to buy nothing but digital music via Amazon or iTunes, but with that comes the lost art of hard copy CD’s and the packaging that comes with it. I knew bands were doing this, releasing albums digitally about a month before they’re released in CD form. I didn’t really care though, until this year’s release of Ratatat’s latest album, LP4.

I had been looking forward to this release all year and when I wrote the Weekly Album Release Party announcing its release, I couldn’t wait! I counted down the hours until the day finally got here but came to a gruesome discovery when I walked into my local Best Buy: the album was in digital form only! I probably wouldn’t have minded so much a couple years ago when I was just obsessed with getting my grubby little hands on music, but I’ve gotten to the point where I really want to appreciate all of the art that goes into not only the album, but the packaging as well. It’s nice to have that collection to refer to. It’s like our generation’s vinyl’s. I mean, think about the opportunities available to artists to express themselves through something other than what’s being played from their CD’s; they get a whole other medium to express themselves and we as listeners get another medium to learn something about them.

Sure, I can wait the month-and-a-half or so until it is finally released, but then where is that magic? Where’s the thrill that comes with walking into your local record store, pulling out the cash you scrimped and saved to acquire, getting into your car, struggling with that plastic wrap and finally, struggling to no end to get that stupid ass sticker that holds the jewel case together? Where’s the joy that comes with hearing that album for the first time with your windows rolled down as you drive out of the parking lot?

We are losing something great here, people.

Please, don’t let the jewel case die.

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Editorial- MTV at it Again!

So, I never thought I’d see the day when I was so upset by seeing 2 girls kiss!  The thought of that gets most guys going!  Well, you may be thinking differently after watching the MTV Movie Awards the other night!  If you haven’t heard, Sandra Bullock was on hand to receive the “MTV Generation Award” for her body of work.  Probably the world’s hottest actress, Scarlett Johansson, was on hand to give her the award.  Right in the middle of her acceptance speech, she gives Scarlett the world’s most uncomfortable kiss.

First off, what a poor attempt by MTV for ratings.  I mean, did anyone even know the awards show was on?  The only reason I knew was because they mentioned “The Kiss” on the news.  MTV has become so irrelevant, that they have turned to cheap gimmicks to get ratings!

Whether you think Sandra is hot or not isn’t the question.  That was the most uncomfortable kiss I think I’ve ever seen!  That was not very sexual or sensual, for that matter!  I think I would have preferred Sandra to kiss Betty White, that would have been funnier!  I also feel bad for Sandra!  If she has to do stunts like this to get the attention off of her, then it just shows me the heavy scars she has!  Sandra even made fun of herself wile giving a very weird acceptance speech.  Although I applaud Sandra for being brave enough to show up in public, I feel this was just wrong!

Although the kiss may deflect some of the attention, it will only make the tabloid’s go crazier!  MTV, shame on you for trying to get the “shock-value” ratings!  You are so irrelevant in today’s market that you had to go and do this for some poor ratings boost!  That just cements the fact that MTV is desperate!  By the Way, Katie Perry you are so smokin’ hot!  Blue hair, black hair, green hair, it don’t really matter!  Why are you with that douche?

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Editorial- The Death of Metal

Heavy Metal rock legend James Dio died May 16th after a year long battle with Cancer.  James Dio fronted the legendary metal band Black Sabbath after the departure of Ozzy.  Ozzy was no doubt a larger than life frontman, but James Dio more than held his own.  Dio was aso the lead singer for Rainbow and his own band, Dio.  Although he was not the first to do it, he was the one who made the “horn sign” popular, a gesture referring to the devil.

He received many awards throughout his lifetime, he received the Metal Guru Award from Classic Rock Magazine in 2006, and was inducted into the Guitar Center’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.  He sang for over 50 years, beginning his career in 1957 with the Vegas Kings.

In November of 2009, Dio’s wife, Wendy Galaxiola, announced that he was diagnosed with Stomach Cancer.  She released the following statement:

“Ronnie has been diagnosed with the early stages of stomach cancer. We are starting treatment immediately at the Mayo Clinic. After he kills this dragon, Ronnie will be back on stage, where he belongs, doing what he loves best, performing for his fans. Long live rock and roll, long live Ronnie James Dio. Thanks to all the friends and fans from all over the world that have sent well wishes. This has really helped to keep his spirit up.”

Since his death, Wendy released the following statement:

“Today my heart is broken, Ronnie passed away at 7:45am 16th May. Many, many friends and family were able to say their private good-byes before he peacefully passed away. Ronnie knew how much he was loved by all. We so appreciate the love and support that you have all given us. Please give us a few days of privacy to deal with this terrible loss. Please know he loved you all and his music will live on forever.”

Ozzy Osbourne released the following statement:

“I was very saddened to hear of the passing of Ronnie James Dio. Metal has truly lost one of its greatest voices. My heart goes out to his family and to his many fans.”

Long time friend and bandmate, Geezer Butler posted this simple yet powerful sentence on his official website:  “Goodbye My Dear Friend.”

Needless to say the Metal world suffered a tremendous loss on Sunday.  The best way to honor James Dio is to go out into your closet and get out those old red leather spandex pants.  Crank up some of those classic Dio/Black Sabbath songs, throw up the “Horn Sign” and stick your tongue out and while playing the air guitar and just rock out!  Long Live James Dio!

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Usher v American Idol, Who Will Win?

In our last episode, the ETS Crew discussed the harsh comments made by Usher.  So that we’re all on the same page, here is exactly what Usher told the Associated Press:

“The true art form of music is being lost because it seems so easy that everyone can do it, and that it can happen overnight…Television is a lie. It can’t happen overnight. The artist who thinks it can just comes and goes. The reason why great singers cannot exist in this time is maybe because they’re not properly managed, and maybe they don’t understand the full gamut of what being an entertainer is.”

Having read the comment word for word, I tend to agree with Usher.  The truth is, it takes years of hard work and determination to do anything in the entertainment industry.  Things just don’t happen overnight.  You need real talent to make it and have a successful career.  Just take a look at some of the major flops and success stories of American Idol.  We all know the major ones:  Carrie Underwood, Fantasia & Kelly Clarkson.  But what happened the Taylor Hicks, Ruben Studdard and Jordin Sparks?  Although it might be true what Usher said, I still take exception to it.

I have no complaints about what Usher said, but he is also being fake himself.  If he despised the TV Show so much, then why go on?   The almighty dollar, that why!  Whether you’re a fan or not, no one can deny the power that American Idol has.  Even with the numbers spiraling downhill, it is still one of the most watched TV shows in America.  Usher, much like many artists, will swallow their pride just to make an extra buck or two.  I must admit, that I do watch the show, and lately, it has become a very long commercial for Hollywood.  On elimination night, it is one commercial after another.  It really sickens me!

The morale of this editorial, if you’re gonna open your mouth, you better say what you mean and follow through.  Because if you don’t, then you just look like a millionaire cry baby!  Which we already know, but do you have to point it out to everyone?

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The 5 Best Rap Albums of All-Time

With the controversy surrounding my last blog, I decided to stir it up a little bit more on this week’s editorial edition.  I realize that there are several different types of Rap music.  You have Gangsta, Party, Mainstream, Underground, Crunck (or Crunch as I like to say it) and the list goes on.  But in the spirit of keeping things on an even playing field, I’ve decided to break the music into 2 types, East Vs. West.  So here are my top 5 Albums from coast to coast, let the debates begin:

The East Coast

5. Business As Usual- EPMD-  One of the best Rap Groups of All-Time released their 3rd album in 1991.  This may be a controversial pick because EPMD has never been known as one of the”Elite” rap groups, but they are.  Also, the debut album, “Strictly Business” may be everyone’s favorite, but I urge you to listen to both these albums, and you’ll see, this album is far superior.  This album featured LL Cool J and introduced Redman into the Hip-Hop community.  The obvious trademark song was Gold Digger. Truth be told, every song is a hit, from I’m Mad to Underground.  This album doesn’t need a “skip button” because every track is a hit!

4. Things Fall Apart- The Roots-  This band was one of the first to bring back the live instruments and re-introduce scratching.  Their drummer and mega producer Questlove shapes the sound of the album.  If you’ve never read the book, “Things Fall Apart” by Achebe, it is one of the greatest pieces of literature I have ever read.  The book is a classic and so is this album.  The track, The Next Movement has to be one of their greatest songs and is included in this album.  “U Got Me” features Erykah Badu on the backing Vocals and guests Eve on the track.  Thr otts continue to make great music and are still influencing the rap acts of today.  They can be seen on the NBC late night show with that really annoying guy from Saturday Night Live.  I forget his name, but he’s really annoying!

3. Wu-Tang Forever- Wu-Tang Clan-  The groups sophomore album, released was released in 1997.  It came at a time where rap was too commercial.  With the rise of MTV, rap was losing something, and it has yet to get it back.  Now the same girls screaming for the Backstreet Boys & N’Sync were also screaming fro Eminem & Jay-Z.  Wu-Tang brought respect back into the Hip-Hop game, at a time where real Mc’s were trading in their mics for a 1980’s sample.  They are also an All-Star group of Raekwon, RZA,GZA, Method Man, Ol Dirty Bastard, and Ghostface Killah, now that is some serious star power.  Snce the release of this album, Wu-Tang has really gone into hiding.  Method Man has all sorts of legal troubles and we all know of the death of Ol Dirty Bastard.  Although they are still making records, this may have been their finest hour!

2. Licensed To Ill- Beastie Boys-  The debt album from some white guys in New York.  Their debut album was released in 1986, and this album was the 1st to make it onto Billboard’s Top 200.  That’s sounds funny to say, but that was a big deal back then.  The album has sold over 9 million copies and has some of the most well-known songs of all-time:  You’ve Gotta Fight For Your Right (To Party), Paul Revere, Brass Monkey. Girls, Slow Ride & Posse In Effect.  I was very tempted to put this album in the number 1 position, but I couldn’t.  Don’t you just hate when a musicians thinks that they are “growing” as artists and refuse to play any of their older hits?  Beastie Boys fall into this catergory, with their refusal to play “You Gotta Fight” in any of their live shows!

1.  The Adventures of Slick Rick- Slick Rick-  The debut album of Slick Rick was released in 1988.  This album contains one of the biggest rap songs of all-time, Mona Lisa.  That song is what put it slightly ahead of the Beastie Boys.  Children’s Story, The Ruler’s Back and my personal favorite A Teenage Love put this album into a rare class.  Although Slick Rick’s career was cut short, due to being imprisoned, this CD is one of the most loved rap albums of all-time, and in my opinion, I think it is the greatest!

The West Coast

5. Safe & Sound- DJ Quik- released in 1995, this was Quik’s third studio album.  Now I know this may be offensive to some people, but I think he is the best producer here on the left coast.  I know people will go one about Battlecat. Daz and of course Dr. Dre, but Quik’s funk style is second to none.  This album continues the feud between he and Mc Eiht, with the songs: Let U Have It & Dollarz & Sense.  Songs like “Safe & Sound, Something for the Mood, The Ho In You” really show the production value Quik has to offer. Again, from start to end, Quik’s beatz and lyrics make this one of the best west coast albums of all-time.  Quik has since “retired” from rap music.  I ask this question, “Is their an Old-Timer’s Day for rappers?”  Rap is such a trendy genre that rappers fall in and out of favor fairly quik!

4.  All Eyez On Me- 2Pac- This was 2Pac’s 4th album, released in 1996. This was his first record with Deathrow and with producer Dr. Dre.  This was one of the first, if not the first, double album in rap music.  In this album, 2Pac explored every facet of life.  He explored the Gangsta side on songs like (Picture Me Rollin’, 2 of Amerikka’s Most Wanted), the party side (Thug’s Passion, What’z Ya Phone Number) and a more reflective side (Life Goes On, I Ain’t Mad At Cha).  This was the last official record he released as 2Pac before his death, and in the eyes of many, probably his best work.  Much has been made of Tupac’s death, they have never found the killer and have never had a motive.  It seems that there is as much controversy surrounding his death as their was when he was alive.

3. Death Certificate- Ice Cube-   Released in 1991, this was Cube’s 3rd solo release. Ice Cube is probably the “Father” of Gangsta Rap music.  He was the lead writer and rapper for the super group NWA.  This is one of the finest west coast albums ever made.  Ice Cube had some very political content in his music, songs like “Bird in the Hand, Alive on Arrival, Color Blind and True to the Game” are thought provoking songs about the harsh reality of South Central.  The album also includes what is quite possibly the most famous diss record, “No Vaseline.”

 

2. The Chronic- Dr. Dre- Released in 1992, this was the solo debut of Dr. Dre since splitting with NWA.  This was also the first record for Deathrow Records.  The album also introduced is to Snoop Doggy Dogg, Kurupt, Daz, Nate Dogg, and the Lady of Rage, just to name a few.  Snoop and Dre collaborated on almost every song and made him and Deathrow Records a household name.  This album also continued the feud with long time friend Eazy-E.  The production value on the album is top-notch and can be compared to any “East Coast” album put out in the 90’s.  Although the West Coast rarely gets respect in the Rap Industry, this is one of the few which does.

1. Straight Outta Compton- NWA-  The album starts off  fierce with Ice Cube opening up like this:  “Straight Outta Compton/Crazy Motherfucker Named Ice Cube/From The Gang Called Niggas With Attitude”  It all went up hill from there.  Think about this line up”  Ice Cube, Mc Ren, Dr. Dre and Eazy-E.  Talk about a who’s who in west coast music!  This album was released at a time when NO rap music was coming from the west.  Their first album “NWA & The Posse” was a prelude to this masterpiece.  Songs like “Fuck Tha Police, Express Yourself, Dopeman & 8-Ball” are staples in west coast rap.  Cube was the lead writer and Dre produced the album, now that is what I call a dream team!