|Fri, July 01, 2016 at 1:11 AM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
For native "norfside" Long Beach rapper, Vince Staples, teaming up with the YMCA and local Long Beach, California officials to launch a youth program in his community is no surprise. One of the central themes within his latest album, Summertime 06, expresses the fatal consequences of the lack of opportunity for the impoverished youth. Vince announced the project alongside Councilman Rex Richardson within his home neighborhood of Ramona Park. Within the program entitled, Youth Institute, twenty local students from grades eighth and ninth will be able to learn various forms of art, including filmmaking, 3D printing, product design, music production, and graphic design. Staples conveys the importance for cities to develop relationships with the youth, creating environments for them to flourish.
"I think the most important thing is opportunities," Staples said. "What I can say is, living over here my entire life, I've never had an opportunity given to me from the area, only examples of how to mess up, and what I didn't want to do."
Long Beach Councilman Rex Richardson and Def Jam Recording Artist Vince Staples talk after they announce their support for and launch of the Youth Institute in North Long Beach
|Thurs, June 30, 2016 at 7:42 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
Over a month ago, tragedy struck the Irving Plaza in Manhattan at a T.I. concert, leaving three people injured and one man killed. Sadly, the victim who was shot and killed was New York rapper, Troy Ave's longtime friend and bodyguard, Ronald "Banga" McPhatter. In wake of the shooting in New York, Troy Ave has turned personal tragedy into triumph in creating a scholarship fund honoring Ronald entitled the Ronald McPhatter award. The award will promise $2000 each year for the next five years to student athletes graduating from New Utrecht High School, the Brooklyn high school where Troy Ave and McPhatter attended and played football. The high school football program will select the chosen recipients.
"When my son suggested [the scholarship] from jail I thought it was brilliant," Tracey Collins, Troy's mother, told DNA Info. "Edgar (McPhatter's nickname) would love it, it's such a good way to represent him."
The first recipient of the 2016 Ronald McPhatter award was granted to senior defensive end Gianni Penso, who plans on attending New York City's Pace University in the fall to play as an outside linebacker.
|Thurs, June 30, 2016 at 3:45 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
As one man, Big Sean is doing it BIG in changing the world. The Detroit native rapper has always been dedicated in giving back to his hometown, creating various initiatives to help the youth within the Detroit area. Recently, Big Sean donated $25,000 through his Sean Anderson Foundation to Wayne State University, the third largest university in Michigan. The contribution will be granted to Wayne State University's HIGH (Helping Individuals Go Higher) Program, which helps financially stressed students at the university reach their goal in graduating. The program ensures their mission by providing various resources including housing support, textbooks, school supplies, clothing, transportation, and child-care assistance. The endowment Big Sean and his foundation presented to the program will specifically be used for short-term support to Wayne State University students experiencing homelessness.
"We see the HIGH Program as an important component of ensuring success at Wayne State, and we are proud to help strengthen its mission," Myra Anderson, president of the foundation and Sean's mother, said in a press release, according to Daily Detroit. "We aim to boost graduation rates at the university by providing support to students facing hardship."
By continuing the mission of assisting in the education, health, safety and well-being of the Detroit Area school aged youth through the Sean Anderson Foundation, Jacqueline Wilson, Wayne State's first lady, stated, "with this gift, we will be able to help Wayne State students who are experiencing homelessness work toward a brighter future."
To read more about Wayne State University's HIGH Program click here.
If you would like to follow in Big Sean's footsteps in becoming the one that changes the world within the HIGH Program, you can contact Jacqueline Wilson at email@example.com or the program office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Thurs, June 30, 2016 at 12:20 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
Any die hard Kendrick Lamar fan will immediately recognize the name of this artist. Terrace Martin is a saxophonist/music producer that hails from none other than Los Angeles, California. Martin has been in the music game for a minute now, but perhaps is most well known for his collaborative work with Lamar. He was even able to pull in a Grammy win thanks to his work on To Pimp A Butterfly, an album that he was very heavily involved in. Martin has a very recognizable sound. My first introduction to this sound was on "Ab-Soul's Outro", a cut off of Kendrick Lamar's Section .80 (which by the way will be 5 years old on July 2nd). This track is peppered with flutters of saxophone licks and rapid, urgent percussion, and is driven with synths that bring the West Coast sound to life. Martin has since continued to progress on this sound on solo projects such as 3ChordFold and Times. Now Martin returns in 2016 with a new solo project off his newly formed label, Sounds of Crenshaw. Velvet Portraits is beautiful display of Martin's appreciation for his influences, as well as his hometown of Crenshaw.
The title track of this album serves as the intro, and although it is short, it packs a punch. The synchronized vocals, along with the wailing saxophone are certainly very reminiscent of To Pimp A Butterfly, and even pack similar emotional vibes. This track, along with several others on this project, come off very cinematic. To the point where they may even send chills up your spine (in a good way). The intro specifically comes off very epic, and really sets the tone for the rest of the project. Martin carries these vibes up to the very end of the project with "Mortal Man". This track is most likely an alternate version of the Kendrick Lamar song of the same name. Like Lamar's cut, it comes off very cinematic and inspiring, making it a great closer for the album.
One of the aspects that makes this album so entertaining is the fact that there is a lot of genre blending. Martin does his own take on genres ranging from soul, to old-fashioned g-funk. However, for this very reason, it is hard to even place this album in the hip-hop category. Nonetheless, Martin's experimentation with these genres generates some pretty exciting cuts, one of these being "Turkey Taco". This is a head-knocker that'll give g-funk fans waves of nostalgia. Another track on this project that stands out for its genre alone is "Push". I'll admit, I was not expecting something like this on a Terrace Martin project. The track sounds like something straight out of a soul/gospel album. However it comes together as an extremely energetic and inspirational track.
I guess what really moved me about this album was simply the pure beauty of some of these tracks. As I alluded to earlier, many of these songs are extremely cinematic, and thanks to appearances from notable jazz musicians such as Robert Glasper, Kamasi Washington, Thundercat, and Lalah Hathaway, these tracks get amplified to another stature. This is very apparent on the song "Reverse", where Glasper's piano melodies are chopped and reversed to mix with Martin's faded saxophone melodies to create an absolutely gorgeous sounding track. There is also a very notable Kamasi Washington sax solo on the track "Think About You".
Like I said, there is a lot of beauty to appreciate on this album. What makes this beauty even more appreciative is the fact that it is coming out of a location that has seen some of the darker periods in American history, and is still seeing some of these same problems today. In a genre that sometimes glorifies these issues, it is refreshing to see an artist take an alternative point of view. With a track like "Valdez Off Crenshaw", you can practically envision yourself cruising down Crenshaw Boulevard while catching views of the Mural of African-American Progress. This album makes you treasure this southwestern district of Los Angeles, rather than fear it. So maybe take a break for a moment from your usual West Coast gangster rap, and give this elegant display of jazz and Crenshaw culture a listen.
The post Terrace Martin: "Velvet Portraits" [Album Review] by @MILFENCE appeared first on DeadEndHipHop.
|Thurs, June 30, 2016 at 12:14 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
In any of the numerous creative writing workshops I've taken in my life, I've always heard the same remark made about how to write a great protagonist. By no means does a protagonist have to be a good person. Empathy is the key to writing a great character and evoking an emotional response from the reader, viewer, and in Vince Staples' case-listener. Staples' spent a lot of Summertime '06 telling you how cold-hearted he is, but it's far from the case.
Right away, Staples isn't a sympathetic narrator on '06 as he raps on the thunderous opening track "Lift Me Up", ("All these white folks chanting when I asked 'em where my n***as at? / Goin' crazy, got me goin' crazy, I can't get with that / Wonder if they know, I know they won't go where we kick it at"). Staples is being jarring on purpose to set a tone. White indie kids (like me) will always like Staples despite having no idea what it's like to live the life that he portrays on this album. But '06 is an album that doesn't feel too exclusive and deserves to be shared by a diverse audience. Back to "Lift Me Up," which is an essential song on '06, and establishes some of the major motifs and universal themes of the album, which include hypocrisy, the deficiencies of pop culture, African American prejudice and stereotypes, and hip hop stereotypes, all with some impeccably skillful bars.
On the surface, it would appear that there are a lot of classic gangster rap tropes in '06 but it would be like comparing Weeds to Breaking Bad-two TV shows with drug-dealing antiheroes. That pretty much ends the similarities right there. Staples has some West Coast hip hop flare mixed with some Andre 3000, but other than maybe a little influence or inspiration, Staples makes a point to carve out his own niche and avoid rap clichés. On '06 standout track "Sen~orita," Staples' opening line is nothing short of canny and biting as he boasts, ("F**k ya dead homies"). How many songs have you heard about paying respect to your "dead homies?" Some hip hop sub-genres rely on this specific hip hop trope as the lyrical meat of their music (Chicago drill, I'm looking at you). So Staples, again, is alienating himself, by expressing how fed up he is with other rappers talking about the same thing over and over, right? Not exactly.
'06 has its fair share of social commentary, but the album is presented more as memoir than the pitch-black satire it is at times. This feels like a deeply personal album that moves primarily through Staples' relationship with some unidentified girl as his muse. Think about the way Sherane fit thematically in Kendrick Lamar's coming-of-age classic good kid, m.A.A.d city, as a physical and metaphorical being at the heart of the concept of the album. Staples moves in and out of different topics and themes such as fear, pain, family, nostalgia, race, the media, hip hop, pop culture, social class, depression, reality, idealism, violence, and love but it all returns to this relationship Staples has with this girl. In "Norf Norf," Staples is introducing himself to this girl as someone to be afraid of. Then he enters a sort of honeymoon phase with this girl in "Loca" and "Lemme Know," as the two really start to become passionate. The relationship gets pretty tumultuous by the time "Jump Off the Roof" rolls around, as the two are struggling with separate drug habits and thoughts of suicide. Then Staples' subsequent fear and excitement hit the album's ultimate crescendo by the time "Sen~orita" comes on. The last instrumental minute of "Sen~orita" may sum up Staples' impressive grasp of pathos as well as any one moment on the album. The songs burst to a climax like the sonic manifestation of gusting winds and gushing waves, all until it comes to a twinkling, haunting fade-out by the closing seconds.
By the end of the crushing beauty of "Sen~orita," the track "Summertime" presents itself as a moment to catch your breath-but instead, I held mine. If the rest of '06 is the thunder then "Summertime" by itself is the rain. It's a cathartic release of the tension in the songs that surround it. Staples takes a song to allow himself to be vulnerable. ("My feelings told me love is real / but feelings known to get you killed") are just a couple of lines that identify who Staples is as a conflicted, complex, thoughtful character, as he empties his heart out to the girl he has been with through the album. '06 is the story of a kid who grew up having to repress his feelings. '06 is an album for anyone who knows what pain feels like and what it means to hold it in. Pain makes people disoriented, angry, and scared-all emotions expressed viscerally on this album. Staples did what writers of any genre of art would be envious of-he created a character that anyone can feel for and relate to ( when I say character, I'm not saying that Staples is exaggerating or fictionalizing anything he raps about on '06, by the way).
Summertime '06 is more than a masterpiece hip hop album-it is a beautifully written story with a dynamic, imperfectly human protagonist.
The post One Year Anniversary Review: Vince Staples- "Summertime '06" by @pauldickerson18 appeared first on DeadEndHipHop.