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Posts from December 2007

Cool Hand Lupe

I copped Lupe Fiasco's The Cool on Saturday (at a legitimate record store), and is currently in heavy rotation on my iPod. I'll spare you the hyperbolic "best album of the year" rant and tell you that it's a very good LP. I don't have time to get into an in-depth critical review, but I did enjoy The Cool for Lupe's lyrical diversity and musical production. It's definitely a step up from his last release, Food & Liquor. I don't think The Cool will grace my year-end list, I enjoyed Kanye West's Graduation, Common's Finding Forever, Littler Brother's Get Back and Black Milk's Popular Demand way more than I did The Cool. But who knows? I'm still listening to the disc.

But bloggers across the Internet seem to agree, Lupe's The Cool is, ah, cool:

Samir Siddiqui of Real Talk NY gave The Cool a 4.5 out of 5 rating calling the disc "another very strong showing from one of hip-hop’s most relevant young [MCs]."
Will Hines of Cold Cut calls Lupe Fiasco a "modern savior of hip-hop/rap" and adds: "Not only does Lupe outclass his peers on their ground -- in terms of beats -- he repeatedly demonstrates that he possesses a keen eye for a good rhyme, producing unbelievably brilliant metaphors from his bag of tricks."
In his first music review he has ever written for his blog, writer RhythmicSoul gave The Cool an A- grade. "[It's] a GREAT album that tackles different issues, personalities and point of views," he writes. "Want something witty without coming off one bit condescending? See 'Dumb It Down.' Want something light and fun? See 'Go Baby.' Craving something a bit heavier that's no laughing matter? See 'Intruder.' The beauty with this album is that there's a bit of something for every type of [rap fan] to appreciate, lyrically and production wise."
Andrew Barber of Fakeshore Drive blog praises Lupe's creativity on The Cool. "It pushes the envelope on what a 'Hip Hop' album is supposed to sound like -- something Chicago artists have done well this year [i.e., Kanye West]."
Entertainment Weekly's Senior Music Writer Chris Willman praises Lupe's The Cool for its divergent themes and musical explorations. "Fiasco's wide-ranging pop instincts rarely fail him, even on the few cuts that are steeped in the street-life narrative. It turns out randomness makes for a surprisingly unifying concept."

ADDED [12/18/07]:

Hold on there rap heads, there are a few critics who think Lupe's The Cool is . . ah, tepid[?].

Someone over at the Los Angeles Times (no byline mentioned) thinks Lupe Fiasco's highbrow hip-hop is commendable but annoying. "The 25-year-old lyricist remains loyal to his activist message, which is propelled by intricate wordplay and experimental, trip-hop-inspired beats. Though there's much to admire about Fiasco's idealism and poetic skill, he can also be annoying the way an excessively, politically correct person in your social circle can be annoying. And that's kind of uncool."
Elsewhere, Blender magazine's critic Ryan Dombal gave Lupe's disc three stars (good) and says, "The CD is loosely tied together by a browbeating concept that condemns the glorification of Scarface-style violence and disposable pop-rap, but the moralism is as trite as a Tony Montana reference."


The Lupe Fiasco Show -- Lupe's Personal Blog

Interview with Lupe Fiasco (via Village Voice)

Dreamin' On


Requiem For A Pimp

Nearly 2,000 mourners bid farewell on Dec. 13 to the late verbalist Pimp C at his funeral in Port Arthur, TX. Fellow Houston rappers Chamillionaire, Slim Thug, Mike Jones and UGK associate Bun B were among the attendees at the memorial. Three 6 Mafia's DJ Paul, Rap-A-Lot Records CEO J. Prince and Pimp C's rap protégé Webbie were also there paying their respects. (Check out Photo Gallery)

Rev. John R. Adolph (of Houston's Antioch Missionary Baptist Church) presided over the memorial service and offered a poignant eulogy to the beloved rapper. "Pimp C joined my church Nov. 18. He never had the chance to see Dec. 18," he said. "Lord, it may be hard out there for a pimp, but there is hope in here for those who believe."

Jeff Sledge, the Senior Director of A&R at Jive Records, also spoke highly of Pimp C (aka Chad L. Butler) and was impressed by the rapper's demeanor since his release from prison in 2005 after a three-year prison bid for aggravated assault. "I don't think I've ever seen anyone changed that much," he said. "He had an inner calm. He used his situation to change and grow. It was an amazing thing to see." He also told Port Arthur Mayor Deloris Prince he hopes to see a "Chad Butler Boulevard" someday in the city, which drew a standing ovation from the audience.

Pimp C's mom, Weslyn "Mama Wes" Monroe, gave her thoughtful words to her late son, and thanked everyone in attendance for enriching Pimp C's life. "I'm all right, and you're all right, because he's all right," she told the mourners. "My C is free today. My C is celebrating today. My C is happy to see you today. He's all right and you need not worry about him -- because Jesus is all right!"

After the services, Bun B was pleased with the turnout and the love shared by many for his partner-in-rhyme Pimp C. "It turned out just the way he would have wanted it, and not so much for the clothes and the crowd or anything, but because of the love," Bun said. "We put him to rest the right way."

Pimp C leaves behind a wife, three children, as well as his mother and father. He was buried at Greenlawn Cemetery in Port Arthur, TX.

UGK -- "One Day You're Here And Then You're Gone" (MP3 Audio)

Talib Kweli (Featuring UGK & Raheem DeVaughn) -- "Country Cousins" (MP3 Audio)

Lil Flip -- A Tribute to Pimp C (MP3 Audio)


Proud Ike

Can we please have a moment of silence . . .

For "The Father of Rock and Roll" Ike Turner (1931-2007) who passed away on Dec. 12 (Wednesday) at his home near San Diego, Calif., at the age of 76.

The cause of death has yet been determined but an investigator with the county Medical Examiner's Office said that foul play was not suspected. According to reports, Ike's manager, Ann Thomas, was the last person to see him alive along with his band, The Kings of Rhythm, who were in the house to play music for him to lift his spirits. "We all came just to surprise Ike and make him feel better," said band leader Kevin Cooper. "Instead we got our own surprise."

A native of Clarksdale, Miss., Ike (real name Izear Luster Turner Jr.) is most notably recognized for his musical partnership with his ex-wife Tina Tuner, as one half of the duo Ike & Tina. Together, they won a Grammy in 1971 for their energetic remake of the Creedence Clearwater Revival song, "Proud Mary." Tina has so far refused to speak on the death of her former husband. Her rep says, "Tina is aware that Ike passed away, no further comment will be made."

In 1976, the Turners split both professionally and personally, with their divorce finalized in 1978. While Tina became a pop sensation during the '80s, Ike was reviled for his purported spousal abuse towards Tina. While he disputed the severity of those allegations, a 1993 film, What's Love Got to Do With It? -- based on Tina's 1986 autobiography -- portrayed Ike as an abusive monomaniac. The movie's popularity brought awareness to the social problem of domestic violence.

Ike's musical career spans nearly half a century through blues, rock, soul and funk genres. In 1991, the bluesman was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, alongside Tina. In February 2007, Ike won his second Grammy for best traditional blues album (Risin' With the Blues). Ike leaves behind Ronald (his son with Tina), along with four other children: Mia, Twanna, Michael and Ike Jr. from his second ex-wife Jeanette Bazzell Turner. To write/type/ send your condolences in memory of Ike, click THIS.

In Tribute: Ike Turner

Ike Turner Tribute (via Funky 16 Corners)

Ike & Tina -- "Proud Mary" (Video)

Classiest Snarkiest Headline of the Year: Ike "Beats" Tina to Death (ahh, you gotta love the New York Post)**

Rest In Power, Ike!


** Thanks Baby Girl!

The King Iz Dead

Can we please have a moment of silence . . .

For underground rap legend Pimp C of the Houston-based rap duo UGK (Underground Kingz). Pimp C (real name Chad Butler) was found dead by paramedics Tuesday morning (Dec. 4) in his suite at the Mondrian Hotel in Los Angeles. He was 33 years old. The cause of death is not known but a rep for the coroner said it appears the rhyme-spitter died of natural causes. Results of an autopsy, including toxicology tests, will be available in six weeks. "It's a sad day in the city [of Houston]," mourns Mike Jones who appeared on Pimp C's single, "Pourin' Up." "A legend has passed."

As a member of UGK, Pimp C, and his partner-in-rhyme Bun B, dropped several releases on Jive Records, including their gold-selling 1996 LP Ridin' Dirty and most recently their 2006 double-CD, Underground Kingz. The duo is most notably remembered for their collaboration with Jay-Z on his 2000 song and video for "Big Pimpin'." While multiplatinum plaques evaded them, UGK was venerated in the streets as if they sold 10 million albums worldwide. This past October, UGK won a pair of trophies at the BET Hip-Hop Awards, including one for Video of the Year for "Int'l Players Anthem" (featuring OutKast).

"We mourn the unexpected loss of Chad," said Barry Weiss, CEO and President of Jive Records. "He was truly a thoughtful and kind-hearted person. He will be remembered for his talent and profound influence as a pioneer in bringing southern rap to the forefront. He will be missed and our prayers remain with his family and Bun B. I've known Chad since he was 18, and we loved him dearly and he was a cherished member of the Jive family."

UGK (Featuring OutKast) -- "Int'l Players Anthem" (music video)

Pimp C (Featuring Mike Jones and Bun B) -- "Pourin' Up" (MP3)

Jay-Z (featuring UGK) -- "Big Pimpin'" (music video)

Rest in Power, Pimp C!