Inspiration. Webster’s dictionary tells us that inspiration is “the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions…the quality or state of being inspired.”
For the past few weeks I haven’t been feeling too inspired. Whether it’s because of the lack of music that moves me or my lack of motivation to look for it, the outcome it’s still the same. I’ve not been around these parts for a while.
February is a sad month for real hip-hop heads, throughout the years in this month we’ve lost some very important musical figures. Big L passed away Feb 15, 1999, Big Pun on Feb 7, 2000 and J Dilla on Feb 10, 2006. Now that I think of it me and February don’t get along that well but that’s a story for another day.
Many say Dilla changed their lives and that’s a beautiful statement. Me, I’ve never felt that way. I do know how devastated I was when I found out about L. The way in which he was taken away from us (victim of black on black crime, when are we going to stop killing ourselves?) and the timing of his passing (there were reports of him signing to Roc-A-Fella Records) made L’s passing a bit too unfair to me. The kid (he was only 24 years young) never got to reach his full potential. Then we have Pun, he also affected me on a more personal level than Dilla did. Many forget about how incredible Pun was as a lyricist, about the fact that he made it a point to go toe to toe with whoever were the most respected lyricists at the time his album dropped and was NEVER outshined by another MC, about the fact that he was nominated for a Grammy or that his debut album sold over a million copies. He did all this while upholding his puertorican heritage.
Dilla on the other hand; the brother did things with the MPC that producers are still trying to figure out. It was like he had six fingers on each hand. It got to the point were he inspired the people that inspired him and made fans of his idols. Fans of his music gather all over the world to pay respect at benefit jams, even I had the honor to represent at one of them DJing alongside my brothers Wajeed and Geology back in 2009. And even after all of that, I never subscribed with the Dilla Changed My Life sentiment.
On this West coast tour on which I am now, I witnessed firsthand the unconditional love he is receiving from his Detroit brother DJ House Shoes, his LA family at Stones Throw and his brothers The Beat Junkies. I could get really personal and talk about how much his friends do for his mother (Mrs. Yancey) and kids but let’s just say that I can only hope that I have friends like Dilla does, even if just ONE. At the end of the day, I discovered the true meaning of friendship and respect and I finally found my inspiration.
I guess Dilla did change my life after all. —@SucioSmash
1. DJ Numark
DJ/Producer Nu-Mark just released his new mixtape “Take Me With You,” a mix intended to provide the backdrop to your next tropical vacation. As a man that knows a thing or two about the Caribbean and Latin rhythms I can say that not only did Nu-Mark succeed on his mission he excelled at it. Blending everything from Samba, Cumbia, Calypso, Afro-Beat and some other flavors. Nu-Mark captures what it feels to drive around the coast with the windows rolled down and your lady sitting next to you while the sun shines above it all. Do yourself a favor and cop this before you jump on that plane heading to Aguadilla. Good job, brother!
Seldom times you hear a song that gives you the chills from the very first time you hear it and to me this is one of them. Hailing from Houston, H.I.S.D. (Hueston Independent Spit District) come forth with a sound inspired by the Native Toungues and OutKast without trying to sound like them, something that’s hard to do in an era were biting is the norm. The closing verse perfectly describes the vibe they are on: “E.T. better phone Tyrone/tell him meet me where the natives tribal dance to the drum—beat/and the n*ggas pack heat not equated to a Sun.” Do yourself a favor and cop the album, jump on the spaceship and take a look at Houston through the eyes of H.I.S.D. Scarface should be proud.
3. Last Emp
The original rhyme super hero is back. How this track went sooo below the radar is beyond me but don’t fret, good music knows no age or boundaries. A drum break and some keys sprinkled here and there it’s all Emp needs to rip sh*t. Lines like “Here lies the first last/Character’s first class/symbol of perfection/complexion color of burnt brass” exemplify what you are getting when you press play. Oh, and did I mention that there’s no hook to the song? All you get is 3 minutes and 59 seconds of quotables and sick flows. Welcome back, Emp.
4. Mac Miller
He’s White! Ok, now that we got that out the way let me say that this song is dope. Everything that makes a New York record an NY record is here. Chopped keys, check. Hard drums, check. Nas vocal sample, check. Laid back flow, check. Perfect record to put on your headphones and bob your head to while you ride the train. And the kid is from Pittsburgh, PA. Hopefully one day we’ll see a cat from NY get the props they deserve for doing what we’ve been doing for years. Keep up the good work kid, I personally hope you can shine light to the sound that the industry’s been ignoring and the city that created it all.