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Ka And The Hidden Lineage Of Brownsville Hip-Hop

The veteran MC's latest album, 'Honor Killed the Samurai,' is representative of his hood's overlooked legacy.

The veteran MC's latest album, 'Honor Killed the Samurai,' is representative of his hood's overlooked legacy

Written by Brian Josephs // August 30, 2016

Ka uses a minimalist’s palette — haunted instrumental loops and laconic delivery — to color his songs’ brutal realism and serrated wit. The 44-year-old New York MC doesn’t deviate from that formula on his fourth solo LP, the recently released Honor Killed the Samurai. Even without juxtaposing it against the two more obviously mainstream records that came a day before (Rae Sremmurd’s turn-up soundtrack Sremmlife 2 and joyless OVO singer PARTYNEXTDOOR’s P3), the realities that Ka animates with his terse wordplay are still eye-twitchingly bleak.

On the self-produced Samurai, he describes an impoverished land where the law must be broken for the sake of survival; as he explains on “Just,” “To get what we need / We do what we must.” The production — guitar-sampling dirges with smatterings of soul — underscores tales of nihilism (“Was a nightmare, felt like life here was as good as dying”) and deadpan threats (“Got bread? / Pull the heat, toast is served”). Ka closes the LP with a painful sentiment: “I wish we didn’t have to live like this.” It’s a moment made even more poignant by what’s conveyed in his distinctive croak, a mix of sour acceptance and the numb exhaustion of someone raised on the streets of Brooklyn’s Brownsville neighborhood.

“There wasn’t a block where you could get a break,” Ka, born Kaseem Ryan, tells SPIN over the phone, recalling his old stomping grounds. “What you saw growing up in and out of your block molded who you were. You could hear it in what we talk about — in our tone.”

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Who'd-A-Thunk?: Sir Elton John Is A Huge Fan Of A Tribe Called Quest

Sir Elton John interviewed Q-Tip for his Beats 1 radio show, Rocket Hour, where he raved about A Tribe Called Quest’s influence and impact. In clips of the episode, the “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” singer called Q-Tip “a legend,” and thanked him for his service with the Tribe, who he called the “seminal hip-hop band of all-time.”

“If you don’t know A Tribe Called Quest, you’re stupid,” he said. “But if you listen to [‘Electric Relaxation’], you’ll understand why I rave about them.” Sir Elton John was part of ATCQ’s final album, We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service, for the song “Solid Wall Of Sound." The latter interpolates the British musician’s song “Bennie And The Jets.”

“I was so happy to play that,” Sir Elton beamed of the 2016 song. “That’s where we first met you came to London, and we did a track in the studio, and it was such a huge honor for me. I was so excited. I just absolutely love this. This is such a takedown of what’s going on … That is such a great track. The album is a fantastic record. If you’re gonna bow out with a record, you better do something like that.”

Q-Tip was audibly thrilled to hear the compliments from the music legend, stating that John’s thoughts on “Electric Relaxation” being one of his favorite tracks from the year 1993 was a “pinch-me” moment.

“I’m just like still kind of like, ‘Am I dreaming?’ I feel like I’m in a different universe,” he said.

Elton John has been vocal about his appreciation for hip-hop and R&B in the past. Recently, he did a cover of Khalid’s song “Young, Dumb and Broke,” and he has an affinity for the music and style of Young Thug.

Listen to the clips from the show below.

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A big show this week, as @QTipTheAbstract joins me for a special edition of my #RocketHour on @beats1official airing this Thursday! Listen 10am LA / 1pm NY / 6pm UK 🚀

A post shared by Elton John (@eltonjohn) on Mar 20, 2019 at 8:15am PDT

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Emotional Oranges

Emotional Orange Releases Callings Of Love On "Corners Of My Mind"

Mysterious duo Emotional Oranges are taking a reflective route with "Corners Of My Mind," a gentle ode to an old love.

The track which can be found on the duo's SoundCloud page was inspired by their friend who went through a bad breakup. It seems to be the fitting track towards the end of a coming of age romance where the couple goes their separate ways. In an email to VIBE, the faceless group explained how love was the seed that planted the smooth track.

"I watched a close friend go through an awful heartbreak recently," they said. "This song was birthed by me attempting to reflect on how I would have reacted had it happened to me. The irony is as he was losing love, I was finding new love. It made the whole process of writing it all quite painful."

The LA-based pair croons about a painful love life on the soft pop beat. "It was yesterday/You couldn't look me in my eyes, and then/There was nothing more that I could say/I thought what we had was unbreakable/Guess I was wrong/Opened it up, gave you my all/I know it seemed like you weren't enough/Try to forget, peace and reset/But I can't forgive you no more." 

Emotional Oranges have released just a few singles, including the bouncy bop "Motion" and "Personal" that gained fanfare online.

According to the musical pair's Twitter page, fans can expect a new EP, as well as a tour announcement and "cute merch" following "Corners Of My Mind."

 

it’s going to be an exciting few weeks for the orange gang 🍊! new music, ep + tour announce, cute merch etc can’t wait for you guys to see it all x pic.twitter.com/R6biAHWl26

— Emotional Oranges 🍊 (@emotionalorange) March 19, 2019

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Allow Salma Slims To Provide "Seasoning" With Her Irresistible Flow

Salma Slims has come out the kitchen with some new heat.

The Private Club Records prodigy recently released a new song titled "Seasoning," giving her fans the sauce they've craved and then some.

"My flow change like seasons/this that sauce that seasoning/do the whole rap game breezy," Slims rapped on the record produced by Cam Wallace who has worked with artists such as Ty Dolla $ign and Sevyn Streeter. The track single is a teaser for what fans can expect for the artist's and model's upcoming project Runway Rapper expected later this year.

Although she's presently an up-and-coming hip-hop artist and a successful model, instead of rapping about the current "hats" she wears, Slims recalled her past life working in retail as a reminder of tough days.

"Double the dose/I  do this s**t for my bros/I do this s**t for the days I was workin' at Lowes/That s**t was pushin' me close," she rhymed as she rode the beat. Slims also had smoke for anyone who could be bitin' her style and how chasing a "bag" is the only thing she needs.

"Might take a hit from the bong/B***h I get lit while I'm gone/Bitin' my style man, n***as is clones/They just can't leave me alone/I'm in the house like Jerome/I'm in the house like Jerome/Might put life in a song/I put my life in a song." 

"One eighty on the dash/Lil' n***a speeding/Big bag only thing I'm needing/I'm bad Mike Jack wanna beat it." 

Keep an eye out for Atlanta's rising rapper, she's the pinch of seasoning the industry needs.

 

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This that sauce 🍜 that Seasoning 🧂!!!link in bio !! I’m getting so much love on this song from y’all keep streaming. Let’s keep going up we just getting warmed up. #TeamSalma

A post shared by Runway Rapper (@salmaslims) on Mar 10, 2019 at 2:34pm PDT

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