Sad news in rap music, as we learn that Kevin Michael Gulley, a.k.a. "KMG the Illustrator," of the golden-era Pomona, California rap group Above the Law died over the weekend. Signed to Ruthless Records by N.W.A's Eazy-E in 1989, Above the Law released eight albums over a 22-year career, including classics like 1990's Livin' Like Hustlers and 1992's Black Mafia Life—which pioneered the smooth-but-menacing "g-funk" sound that Dr. Dre brought to full fruition that same year with The Chronic. (The albums were released within a couple of months of each other, after Dre's falling out with Eazy and Ruthless, and there is some dispute as to the [...]
Of course we wish the people of Sudan good luck in this week's referendum to decide whether or not the southern part of the country secedes to become its own nation. A vote for independence seems likely. While there's much discussion about what the new country's name should be, a national anthem has already been written and recorded. It's called "Land of Cush," a reference to a Biblical kingdom in the area. Unfortunately, it sucks. Before anything becomes official, they should talk to Dr. Dre about the possibility of using his song.
Oh my God, psyched! As if they read the Awl and know what a crappy August we've all been having, the folks at NASA are holding a contest where the public can choose "wake-up music" for the astronauts who man the penultimate space shuttle voyage, mission STS-133, scheduled to launch November 1st. Go to the NASA website, where you can listen to 40 songs that have been piped in to start astronauts' days on past missions (and you get to hear the radio communication back and forth with ground control, too) and vote for your favorites. I voted for Elton John's "Rocket Man," because… What do you mean [...]
This seems to not quite qualify as a great stroke of genius. Producer and former rapper Warren G tells XXL that he came up with the name for his step-brother Dr. Dre's classic 1999 album Chronic 2001-which was a follow-up to Dre's 1992 debut, The Chronic. "We actually met at the Beverly Hills Hotel one night, and-I swear to God-he was trying to figure out what to call the album, and I actually said, 'How about Chronic 2001?' Right there at the Beverly Hills Hotel-we sat there, in the bungalows, and named it The Chronic 2001… Dre probably don't remember that shit, but I said, 'Chronic 2001… We are [...]
At this point, it's hard to imagine what's making Kanye West sound so cranky. The fact that his mink coat is dragging on the floor, I guess? Or that a beautiful woman he summoned to his hotel room arrived wearing underpants? Maybe it's just that he has a head cold. You're all stuffed up, sore throat, sinus pressure. That'll put anybody in a rotten mood. Whatever it is, for the music's sake, here's hoping he doesn't cheer up. 'Cause this song, which debuted on Funkmaster Flex's show on Hot97 just last night, sounds great.
This is big big news in rap. It's a new song from Dr. Dre, who is pretty much inarguably the greatest producer in the music's history. It's also, reportedly, an advance single from Dre's third solo album, Detox, a project rap fans have been waiting for, have know the title of, for nearly ten years now.
"An instrumental album is something I've been wanting to do for a long time. I have the ideas for it. I want to call it The Planets. I don't even know if I should be saying this, but fuck it. [Laughs.] It's just my interpretation of what each planet sounds like. I'm gonna go off on that. Just all instrumental. I've been studying the planets and learning the personalities of each planet. I've been doing this for about two years now just in my spare time so to speak. I wanna do it in surround sound. It'll have to be in surround sound for Saturn to work." -Dr. [...]
Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr. turns forty years old today—incredible, if you remember what it was like to first hear his dulcet, melodic voice bouncing over the spine-tingling beat Dr. Dre made for the titular song of the 1992 Laurence Fishburne/Jeff Goldblum vehicle Deep Cover. Snoop Doggy Dogg, as he was known back then, already seemed like an ageless entity. And he's stayed seeming that way. (Even after he dropped the "Doggy" in his name in the mid-90s.) If he is not the greatest or most important figure in the history of rap, he is probably the most famous and beloved worldwide. The way he reaches his arm around Barbara [...]
Fans of Dr. Dre or Erykah Badu will recognize the slinky guitar riff from the young Mississippian rapper Big Krit's latest (it's a sample from Soul Mann and the Brothers' cover of "Bumpy's Lament" from Isaac Hayes' soundtrack to Shaft.) But to me the coolest thing about this song is the perspective: Krit rhymes in the persona of a pot-smoking, X-box-playing, Cribs-watching loser. One who has dreams of glory and riches like we're used to, but one who, at the end of the song, is clearly not going anywhere good. And pretty harshly called out for it. There's a lot of Notorious B.I.G. here. In an impressive way.
Vibe: Dr. Dre said that the last beat that floored him was 'All About the Benjamins.' How does that make you feel? P. Diddy: "It's humbling. I was in the studio with Dre the other day. He started working on a record for me. Watching him as a producer is watching greatness. We had a lot of similar traits. It was like looking in the mirror. He would ask questions like, 'How you feel about this?' People don't really understand true producers want to know how you feel about things. We are some of the most observant people on the planet." -Sometimes humility doesn't last very long.