Monday, August 31, 2009

Live Listen: Blueprint 3

I'm writing this as I listen to the Blueprint 3 for the first time. So take this with a grain of salt if you will as my opinion may change after a few more listens.

What We Talkin' About (feat. Luke Steele)

I'm feeling the beat and Hov's rapping like he's got some stuff to get off his chest to the haters. He's dropping some slick lines in there too which includes those barbs he was throwing at Dame and Jaz-Ho in those concert a capella rhymes. Not that this is one of them but I liked this line...

"You stuck on being hardcore, I chuck the deuce up!"

Hov went in on this shyt. If the beat to this song was like "What More Can I Say" people would probably love it a lot more than I think they will when they hear it.

Thank You

Heard this earlier today. I liked it. Let's see how I really feel though, lol. This joint also has a beat that I think could be better. Jay is on-point with the lyrics (which looks like it's going to be a theme, but that's not a surprise) but this beat leaves something to be desired. Maybe it's too simple for me. Maybe less will be more in a few more listens. Last verse on this song is killer.


SKIP! I already know how I feel about this one. I like it better than the other "pre-Sept. 11" releases/leaks I've heard so far.

Run This Town

*Pictures Rihanna in the video while fast-forwarding to Yeezy's verse.*

Seriously though, Rihanna was looking OFFICIAL in the video. Much like the "Forever" verse, if you write down and read Yeezy's verse on this track you will see why I say he's been dropping some MAJOR verses lately.

Empire State of Mind (feat. Alicia Keys)

This was the first joint I listened to when I "found" the album earlier. I haven't listened to the album all the way through yet (obviously) but this is going to be one of my favorites if not my favorite. I already know. Beat is sick, Hov's verse is mean. Keys' does what she does...LET'S GO HOV!

I'm in the zone right now. I'm also wishing a D.C./P.G. artist would make a track similar to this. No shots Wale.

"I made the Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee can"

"If Jeezy's paying LeBron I'm paying Dwayne Wade!"

This is gonna kill on HOT 97 "up top". WATCH!

Real as it Gets (feat. Jeezy)

I was excited to see that Jeezy was on the album so I've been looking forward to this track. Jeezy kicks this one off and doesn't sound horrible which is a WIN for him. When you think of Jeezy and Jay on a track you probably think "Lord I hope Jeezy don't sound too bad". If it was just Jeezy you take it for what it is as far as rhyming ability, but throw him on a track with someone like Hov and you just hope he doesn't sound so bad that you like the song less, lol. Sorry Jay (Jenkins). Jay's second verse is something serious.

Hov's the audio equivalent of braille. That's why the feel me..."

Overall, I like this joint.

On to the Next One (feat. Swizz Beats)

Off the title, I'm thinking this is a veiled diss toward Mashonda. Swizz, if you're like me as much as people say you look like me then you're better than that, lol. Let me listen first though before I draw that conclusion.

Swizz got the party vibe going....SHOWTIIIIME!

This.Shyt.Is.Gonna.Rock.In.MIAMITHISWEEKEND! LET'S GO! This joint just siced me!

"No I'm not a virgin, I use my cahonas"

"Ya'll should grow the eff up, come here let me coach you!"

"Meanwhile had Oprah chillin in the 'jects...MJ on cellphone, Obama on text...Ya'll should be worried bout what Imma do next!"

Off That (feat. Drake)

Heard this one already too. Not very impressed by this and I maintain that Jay did not want to take the chance that Drake would out-rhyme him if he let Drake have a verse. Did you notice Jay's absence from that "Forever" track? Too much young hunger on that track for him to take the risk of: 1) being out-down by Drake, Wayne, or Yeezy, or 2) letting Marshall get another killer verse off on a song with him. Especially w/the phrase "Em murdered you on your own ish" easily retrievable from our subconscious. Not that I believe Em murdered Jay-Z on that song because if you go back and listen to "Renegade", he really didn't. Anywho, I like the point Jay's trying to make in this song but I'm just not feeling the beat like that. 2 minutes in...SKIP! I'd rather take my chances and see what J. Cole does on the next joint.

A Star is Born (feat. J. Cole)

Only Jay-Z could get the top two freshmen in the game on his upcoming CD (Drake and J. Cole). Yes, I know who Kid Cudi is, WOMP! Ok, maybe Yeezy and Weezy could also get them, but you get the point.

What Jay is doing on this track is so effing SMART. Gotta respect this dude's intelligence. Second favorite track so far even before I hear J. Cole.

Hearing J. Cole come in on the last verse reminds me how Memphis Bleek used to sound. It was kinda eerie actually. Notice how I said "used to"?

Venus vs. Mars

Heard this already but want to hear it again. Shyt is dope! I can see a dope video coming for this one already. Starring Cassie because of the shaved hair line. Or better yet, starring the girl with the two bee stings. Let Kanye direct it and Amber Rose play the leading lady role. Jay doesn't even need to be in the video actually, just let the lyrics narrate.

Already Home (feat. Kid Cudi)

For the record, I think Kid Cudi is decent/alright. I'm not excited about him like I am about Drake and J. Cole though. My favorite Kid Cudi song is "Welcome to Heartbreak" which should tell you something considering it's Kanye's song and Cudi's just featured on it. "Day N Nite" is cool and I like it but it's not "Simba" or "Successful".

Anyway, I'm feeling the beat on this joint off the break. BUT, not really feeling Cudi's singing so much. Let's get past this pre-verse chorus and get to the raps already!

Ok, I'm feeling a little meh about this song now. I liked the beat at first but now it's kinda wearing thin. And the Cudi chorus isn't really helping.

"H-O-V, I got my own lane already!"

Ok, the last verse redeemed this one for me. Won't be on my list of favorites from the album though.

Hate (feat. Kanye West)

I heard this one this morning and I was definitely feeling blahzay about it. Yeezy is still holding down his verses on these joints with Jay though, that's for sure. I like the idea of them going back-and-forth but not feeling the overall flow they're using. The whole "aaaayer" sound gets old. I'm glad the song is relatively short.


Heard this one before and wished that Jay didn't waste the solid lyrics on this subpar Timbaland beat. This sounds like some shyt I could make on my casio joint at home (if I had one). Timbaland and Dr. Dre are both over-rated at this point if you ask me. Especially Dr. Dre. Sorry West-coasters and Dre loyalists. The Doctor is sounding more like a Nursing Assistant these days, with the exception of that beat he did for Em's Mariah Carey diss.

So Ambitious (feat. Pharrell)

Pharrell's singing already. FML! This guy and his friggin' singing! The beat is mean though Pharell, perhaps that's what you should stick to. And right when I'm vibing to the beat, Pharrell comes on singing again, GAWD!

I know I like the song overall but I don't necessarily like Pharrell's singing. I definitely like the message of the song and I'd imagine Pharrell's singing on this joint might grow on me. *MIGHT*

Young Forever (feat. Mr. Hudson)

As soon as the beat comes on I realize this song sounds exactly like I thought it would, some futuristic ish. This song is a perfect example of how I think Kanye has rubbed off on Jay-Z. The first time I heard about Mr. Hudson it was on Yeezy's blog. This beat sounds like a pre-"RoboCop" beat from Kanye's last CD. Seriously, put this track on 808s and Heartbreak and make it Kanye feat. Jay-Z and well, there you have it. That isn't to say I don't like the song because I think I do...I think.

After my first listen I'd say the CD is decent/ok maybe even good. Jay's verses are sharp for the most part but the production value on this CD just isn't where I think it could be or where we're used to seeing it from Jay-Z. But now that I think about it he's been going in a different direction with his production since Kingdom Come (maybe even The Black Album). If Jay would have used Kanye, Swizz, 9th Wonder, and the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League exclusively for production on this album I bet it would have been way better to me off the first listen. But what do I know other than what I'd like to hear?

And speaking of production value, that is a big part of why I think Rick Ross has the best album so far this year in mainstream hip-hop. His choice of beats and his lyrics are both solid. Jay has dope lyrics (better than solid, by far) but his selection of beats leaves a bit to be desired. Yes, I said that Officer Ricky's CD is better. At least in terms of the overall sound/flow of the CD.

But again, this is my first listen. Based off this you might not think Jay-Z is my favorite rapper ever and I think he's the G.O.A.T., but it's like Jay and 50 say, the bar is set higher for them. Wrong or right, that's definitely the case even though I could NOT give less of a shyt than I do about anything 50 Cent does musically at this point. Funny thing is that I'd argue the bar is set just as high for Kanye at this point but even with an AutoTune'd CD, he delivered.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Forever: Kanye & The Rest of Them Dudes

For real, Drake should just let Kanye have the "Forever" track they dropped yesterday. Yes, I know its for LeBron's documentary soundtrack! Yes I know it's Drake's song. But Kanye OWNED everybody on that joint. Eminem gave Yeezy a little bit of competition but Kanye owns that track. And Drake's verse on the original is definitely better than his verse on this release.

For those of you that are confusing Marshall's fast flow with him having the best verse, get your mind right. Although the homie DP thinks that Em owned the track (and makes a very good argument on his blog), I think that his post about this track shows exactly why I feel Kanye owned everybody on it. Try this...

Read everybody's verse.

Then read Kanye's again.

Then listen to the song again.

I rest my case.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Headphones Don't Show Up, But God Does

Like I said in my last post about the headphones shytuation, I promise this is true. Actually, I couldn't make this stuff up if I wanted to.

If you have yet to read the original blogpost about my headphones at work you should probably do that now or this post might not mean much to you. Now that I think about it, it may not mean much to you either way but you're reading this far so obviously something's got your attention and it's not my profile picture (WOMP)!

I walked into work this morning (early, I might add) and I go to put my bag down and I notice this on my desk...

I figured this was probably a "gift" from whomever took/borrowed the headphones and a note apologizing. In my mind I thought "about time". But little did I know that not only was I wrong but that it would be something that would resonate with me much more deeply than a simple apology. The pink sheet of paper read:

I saw your note about your MIA heaphones (how'd this person know it'd soften me up to mention Miami) and hope these will be an ok replacement. No, I am not the one who took yours I'm just trying to do a good deed (suuuuuuure). You see I'm recovering from very bad breast cancer God blessed me by giving me my life back (now I gotta take this seriously, she just hit a soft spot - my father passed from cancer in 2003). So I promised to do some good things when I can in return. This was one thing I could handle (replacing your headphones). I knew for some reason the office cleaner is always the first person most likely to have taken something or when something gets broken. But trust me when I say that this 50 year old lady is not one to do anything bad against God. So please enjoy this gift and know it's a good deed done, for a really good reason.

Be Blessed,
Mrs. Green
After reading this how else could I have interpreted the message and deed other than God stepping in? Maybe that's far-fetched or maybe I'm one of those people that just need a reason to find God in a situation. To the former, I say maybe it is far-fetched to some to think that God is stepping in. To the latter I say, what better person to find in ANY situation than God? Most of you that know me either in the real world or just via this blog know that I am not a one to be talking about religion or spirituality all the time or getting evangelical. I don't get very spiritual in my blogposts for the most part and most of you probably say "this fool is going to Hell with a one-way ticket". But considering some of the things that have happened in my life lately that have really been tough and helped me grow as a person, I had nowhere else to go but to God for strength and peace-of-mind. I never preach and I barely go to church but I know when He is at work in my life. And it's notes like the one that Mrs. Green (here-to referred to as Sister Green) left that let me know that God and all the angels I knew on earth that are now in Heaven with Him, are looking down on me.

I'm going to leave Sister Green a thank you note and post her letter beside mine. I want others in my office to see this since it's become a bit of a sensation around the office. That is, "Michael and the note on his cubicle".

One last thing. I had a co-worker come to me and mention that the night staff sometimes will bring their children into the office with them (which is against company policy) because they don't have anyone to watch the kids in the evenings. So one of my other (and obviously more uptight) co-workers set-up a webcam in his office because stuff started "moving around" and has video of a child sitting at his desk (but not stealing, HA!). Based on that knowledge I assumed that someone's child was sitting at my desk at night and took my headphones once. The parent probably noticed the "new" headphones the child had "procured" and ask where they were from and returned them to my desk a couple days later. The second time the headphones pulled a David Copperfield the kid may have gotten sneaky and hid them from the parent.

With those thoughts in my mind I'd brushed the headphones off as a lost cause and an experience from which I learned to not leave stuff laying around. And then this morning the headphones and letter show up. The irony in this is that Sister Green mentioned that she knew the night staff would be the first people that popped into mind which is unfortunately true. What's also unfortunate is that some people who work on the night staff have to bring their kids into their job (and risk losing their job) because they don't have anyone at home to watch the children. That's sad.

I'm now glad that I didn't blow the whistle and tell the building manager because it may have gotten someone that really needs their job, fired. I'm even more glad that I went through the entire situation with the headphones (and I'm keeping the joints she gave me too) because it served as another example of how God finds ways to let me know He's present in my life. And that makes me feel like I'm here for a reason and I'm headed in the direction He has set for me. And that my friends, is what's really good!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Workplace Shenanigans

I promise this is true...

Over the past month I had two instances at work where someone has taken the headphones that I leave on my desk and not asked, left a note, or otherwise notified me that they would be "using" them. Then, miraculously they reappear in the exact same spot where I left them but only after about 2 days have passed. Well make that ONE instance where they've been returned. I'm still waiting for them to be returned after the second shytuation.

The headphones are really crappy (no ear padding left) and I have iPod earbuds and another pair of headphones for my BlackBerry so I don't really care that much. But sometimes, it's the principle, right?

When it first happened I was pissed but I said to myself and to my co-workers: "I'm not going to blow the whistle and call for an all-out investigation [by reporting it to the building manager], I'm just gonna see if they show up sometime in the next couple days." And two days later, they did.

I assumed it might have been a practical joke and my co-workers were in on it and kept that sentiment to myself and left it alone. But curiosity led me to jovially ask all of my closest co-workers a couple times each, and they all denied having any involvement. Knowing them and their personalities, I believed them. They'd have chuckled a bit if they knew something and they didn't do that.

Two days ago, it happened again. I again complained out loud to anyone in ear-shot that they'd been taken again. This time everyone seemed a bit more shocked and wondered who it might have been. I tried to take this one in stride like I did the first time and not trip but then I got a little pissed. One time, ok. You took em for a few days, didn't say nothing, but returned them. I can deal with that. But don't do it again like it's all good. Now we've reached the point where off general principle, I want to smack the machiatto/mop out of your hands when I see you.

But since I can't go around questioning people about some cheap-azz $2 headphones as if it's as important and vital to my worklife as the stash of Ciroc I have in my desk, I decided I would just leave this person a message.

Yes, I signed it!

The headphones have yet to re-appear this time and I'm not holding my breath. But if I catch whoever it is, it's going to be some words exchanged and potentially some "furniture moving" in this office. I'm gonna hate having to Terry Tate somebody up in here.

Blackberry Media Sync WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?

If there's one application for the BlackBerry that was at the top of my wish list it was an application that would allow me to synchronize my iTunes library (or perhaps just pull select music from the library) with my Music library on my BlackBerry Storm. Well today I did a little webnerding Googling and happened upon a solution that is not only working well, but it's a legitimate BlackBerry application provided by RIM (Research In Motion). I am making note of it being RIM-distributed because third-party applications for phones can be unreliable, shytty, or don't get full update support once the application has been launched. That probably won't be the case with BlackBerry Sync with RIM being the distributor.

As I type this post Blackberry Media Sync is synchronizing one of my favorite iTunes playlists with the Music Library on my BlackBerry Storm. That's ForTheWin, people!

So here's the quick run-down of the BlackBerry Media Sync specs for BlackBerry users:
  • Sync iTunes OR Windows Media files with your Blackberry. You can sync a single playlist, multiple playlists, or your entire music library. There's even an option to add "random music to free space" available on your device memory and/or memory card (whichever you happen to use for music storage). Not sure whether or not I like that option though.
  • You can use any Blackberry device that has BlackBerry Device software version 4.2 or later.
  • You have to have iTunes version 7.2 or later OR Windows Media Player 10 or later.
  • You have to have Windows XP SP2 or later OR Mac OS X version 10.5.5 or later.
If this sounds good to you, I advise you to go here, download the application and try it out. It's easy to install once you've downloaded the install application.

To give you an example of how it works I'll tell you what I did.
  1. 1. Downloaded and installed the application (ummm, duh).
  2. Opened the application and added a playlist and clicked the SYNC button.
  3. I then waiting for the music to finish syncing and looked at the Music Library on my phone. It scared me initially because it showed that I had NO MUSIC at all. So I "safely" disconnected my BlackBerry and turned my phone off and back on. Still no music. So I ended up doing a hard reset/reboot (pulled the battery out and put it back in) and then my Music Library showed all my old songs PLUS the new playlist I'd added. that was it.
The process of adding a playlist is about as easy as backing up your BlackBerry. And for those of you that don't regularly back-up your BlackBerry I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you start doing it weekly.

I'm glad to see that RIM rolled out support for this because now I can make my travel and workout playlists in iTunes and not have to worry about carrying around my iPod (which is actually dead right now) AND my phone. Now I can carry 8 gigs of music on my phone which is probably just enough for me on my vacations and my workouts.


Below is a screenshot of what the application looks like...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Next Book I'll Read: A Question of Freedom

It's been a while since I picked up an actual printed book and read it from beginning to end. I was stuck on Michael Eric Dyson books for a minute and then I realized how I can't stand reading. But throw the same content up on a blogpost or an article online from a viable newspaper and I'll read it. All that aside, the ONLY reason I'm going to read A Question of Freedom is because my boy wrote it. Otherwise, I probably would not give a you-know-what. And that is NOT meant to downplay the quality of the book at all because he's a great person, has a great story to tell, and is a great writer. It's moreso a statement of my disdain for reading anything that does not exist in a hip-hop magazine, instructional manual, required text/reading for a course, or on a website/blog - which makes sense considering how I can barely read and/or write as this blog can attest to.

Nevertheless, sometime between tomorrow when the book is released and next week when he has his book signing in D.C., I will be copping the book. If you have time, check out his website at and get to know a little more about him and the book. And if you need a reason to buy it do so because I recommended it, not necessarily because you want to. THANKS!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Remembering my friend, Jarronn Jackson...

The last post about Jarronn was during the fresh wound. I had just found out about his passing. I was hurting. I was angry. I didn't understand. I was searching for an answer and more importantly, an inner-peace that was only going to come in due time.

In the 4 days that have past since that post I've had time to grieve, pray, talk about it with friends, reminisce, pray, and start the healing process. To be honest, I'm still healing right now and it's tough when I look at the magnet on my refrigerator that's a picture of he and his wife (wedding invitation). It's tough when I think of how he tied a tie knot for me in 2000 at the NSBE National Convention that was so sharp that I kept that knot in my tie to THIS DAY (now it's never coming out). It's tough when I think about the fun times we had together.

Jarronn was a great person and he will be missed by a lot of people. He was a smart, down-to-earth, ambitious, and fun-loving person that enjoyed life to the fullest and valued those who were a part of his life. And his Facebook page is an example of how those people valued him as well.

I hope Jarronn's passing becomes inspiration for others to live life with the same passion, ambition, sense of humor, happiness, and love for God that he did.

For those that plan on attending his Memorial Service, details are below:

Jarronn Jackson Memorial Service
Saturday, August 8, 12:00 p.m.
Faith Temple No. 2
211 Maryland Park Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743

A repast will be held following the memorial service at the same location.

Flowers can be sent to the church, or donations can be sent to a memorial fund we have established through our church. Checks for the fund should be made out to Zion Church and sent to the attention of "Jarronn Jackson Memorial Fund." Donations also can be made through PayPal by visiting