Run The Jewels have released their free album ‘RTJ2’ early via their website.
Download it RIGHT NOW!
Listen/Download: Run the Jewels-RTJ2
On June 6th-8th, 2014, the 4th annual Governors Ball festival took place on Randall’s Island, New York. The festival is praised for many of its aspects that provide festival-goers an amazing overall experience. From the musical artists attending to the variety of food selection to the spacious and thoughtful layout of the festival grounds, Governors Ball has it all.
The relatively young festival has gained steam as time passes and has arguably unleashed a stronger lineup as each year goes by. This year, New York’s own Vampire Weekend and modern musical savant, Jack White, shared headlining duties with the incomparable Outkast.
In fact, hip hop as a whole was represented quite well over the weekend. From well known rappers like J. Cole and Tyler, the Creator to relatively underground acts like Ratking; hip hop music was very much alive among the tens of thousands of people in attendance.
Here is a recap of the hip hop acts at Governors Ball 2014:
The dynamic duo of Killer Mike and El-P were one of the first acts to grace the stages at the festival. Killer Mike donned his “Do Dope Fuck Hope” sweater as he furiously rapped into the mic during his verses. El-P was not to be outdone as he kept his energy up while he finessed his way through his very technique-heavy verses. The duo played bangers off of their self-titled album and they would provide comical banter between their cuts. DJ Trackstar provided some great scratches, especially during the breakdown of “Get It”.
One of the aspects that made the set great were how genuinely happy Jaime and Mike seemed to be performing together on stage. There is an undeniable chemistry between the two rappers and it definitely helps that they make some absolute bangers while in the studio. With that being said, the set was not without its flaws. Run the Jewels definitely hurt from the lack of a full band. After seeing them during their tour, I was able to hear the album in all its glory, all the while performed by the two rappers backed by a three-piece band. There was a very noticeable drop in quality of sound, although being in an outdoor venue in broad daylight also contributed a lot to this as well.
All in all, the energy was undeniable and the raps are stupid good. Let us hope that Run the Jewels 2 gets released sooner rather than later.
Grade: 3.5 big gold chains stolen from radio rappers out of 5.
Tyler started his set immediately after Earl’s during the afternoon on the last day of the festival. The crowd had rushed across the field after Earl finished his last song so that they could witness Tyler pick up where Earl left off. Tyler was accompanied by Taco on the 1s and 2s as well as Jasper and Earl as hypemen.
Odd Future shows are fueled by frenzied crowds and an immense amount of energy. The bass was blaring and Tyler was in rare form as he yelled, jumped and screamed across the stage. In between tracks he would brutally insult members of the crowd, even straight up saying he did not want to be near the audience in the VIP section because “they’re only there because their rich parents bought them the tickets”. It says a lot when an artist can berate the crowd and it only acts to fuel them in their frenzied state.
Overall, the show was a blast despite the lack of a band as well as the overbearing bass. The crowd jamming out to “Tamale” was one of the highlights of the entire weekend.
Grade: 4.25 angry VIP members out of 6.
The Odd Future rap phenom started his set saying he had 45 minutes and that after that we would all have to run to get to Tyler’s show. Earl’s performance was almost set up to be a warm up for Tyler’s, however in my opinion, it was overall a better set. Admittedly, I am more of a fan of Earl’s music than Tyler’s, but I believe that the bias going into the day was not the ultimate deciding factor of which I enjoyed more.
Similarly to Tyler’s set, Earl was backed by his DJ, Taco. He was also without live instrumentation, but it seemed as though the tracks in which Earl laid his raps onto sounded much more levelled in terms of the bass, highs and mids. On top of that, Earl played a great variety of his old tracks and new tracks of varying moods and tempos. His banter in between tracks were playful, yet not as in-your-face as Tyler’s.
The most impressive part of Earl’s performance are the raps themselves. Some of his verses contain a tongue twisting amount of alliteration coupled with other impressive poetic devices, yet, it seemed as though he was able to spit his verses effortlessly. He even performed two unreleased tracks that I believe will shock listeners as he is seemingly ditching his monotone style of rapping.
Grade: 3 sweaty sweatshirts out of 4
Rap music is generally for rap fans. More specifically, it is often difficult for an average music fan to get into hip hop if they had not first been accustomed to it from a young age, especially when compared to other genres of music. Every so often, there are hip hop artists that come along who break down these barriers and are able to connect with the general population of music listeners. Chance the Rapper is definitely one of those artists.
You could just feel the sheer amount of love oozing from the crowd onto the stage where Chance stood. One of the best parts of his set was that it was painfully obvious that he could feel it too and he was having the time of his life. Chance became humanized and humbled by the love he was getting and it really served to connect him more to his audience. You could hear the passion in his voice and in the way he performed his tracks off his hit mixtape: Acid Rap.
It was also extremely important that he had a full band with him. Their interpretation of the recorded instrumentals from his mixtape came to life and filled the air around the tent where he performed. Couple all of this with the fact that he performed his interpretation of the “Arthur Theme Song” and Chance the Rapper just pulled off one of the best hip hop performances of the weekend.
Grade: 5 Nana NaNaNa’s out of 6
Similarly to Chance’s set, J. Cole was joined on stage by a full band but on a more grandiose scale. His 5 piece band included: guitar, drums, backup singers, keys and a DJ. The full bodied instrumentals hit the crowd at full force. The jazzy interpretations of J. Cole’s biggest hits left the crowd in awe.
J. Cole fed from the energy he was getting from his band as he did what he does best: spit. He never missed a step as he offered fan favorites from The Warm Up, Friday Night Lights, Cole World: A Sideline Story and Born Sinner. He even had a comedic skit with Dreamville rapper Bas and then they performed a song together. The show had a lot going for it, and more importantly it was extremely well executed.
J. Cole put together a show that should act as a template for how all hip hop shows should be. It is time to put those rap-over-your-mp3 performances to bed *cough A$AP Mob cough*. This is especially true in a festival setting as you are able to attract many new fans if you put on a good show, and it’s becoming more and more apparent that a good show absolutely requires a full band. The difference is black and white; it is time for hip hop artists to step their live show game up. J. Cole knows this and rappers need to take notes.
Grade: 5 Cole Worlds out of 5
Before talking about how the performance really was, it is really important to go over some facts leading up to the legendary duo’s set:
Considering the facts above, it is safe to say that the amount of hype around Outkast’s 2014 comeback is extremely high. The expectations set for their performances are off the meter and this creates a very risky situation for Big Boi and Andre 3000 as they need to go above and beyond to only be on par with what their fans are expecting.
With that being said, the Outkast performance at Governor’s Ball 2014 not only reached expectations, it blew them out of the water. The performance was a monumental success as the duo performed cuts off of their extremely impressive discography. Any rumors of beef between Big Boi and Dre can be dismissed as their chemistry on stage was undeniable. The main stage was fronted by approximately 15,000 people and although I was not able to see how the back of the crowd were reacting, the front section were going absolutely nuts.
Sonically, the set was practically perfect. The band consisted of guitar, bass, drums, keys, a DJ, backup singers and even horns. On top of that, the set design was also really well done as a cube that was projected upon created some 3D illusions while the entire backdrop displayed complementary visual elements.
The only gripes I had with the set was that Dre’s vocals were a bit too low during his solo set and they did not end up performing my two favorite Outkast tracks: “Da Art of Storytellin’ Pt. 2” and “Chonkyfire”. However, those two criticisms are a result of me digging extremely deep.
I have seen many live acts from all different genres in the last 5 years but I can safely say that Outkast’s performance at Governors Ball 2014 was easily the best one I have ever experienced. It is also safe to say that it will stay that way for a very long time.
Grade: 11 arts out of 5 farts.
Sh’yaboy Keithnicity the Track-God here with a year-end wrap up list. It’s all just my own personal opinions. I figured mine would be less irritating than something Complex will cook up. Feel free to agree or tell me to get the fuck outta here. Either way, my thoughts on 2013. Chuuuuch:
Artist of 2013: Kendrick Lamar
Album of 2013: My Name is My Name ~ Pusha T
Most Talked About Album of 2013: Yeezus ~ Kanye West
Mixtape of 2013: Better Off Dead ~ Flatbush Zombies
Independent Album of 2013: Run the Jewels ~ El-P & Killer Mike
Producer of the Year: Eric Arc Elliot
Rookie of the Year: Isaiah Rashad
Best Song of 2013: “Rap God” ~ Eminem
Best Verse of 2013: Kendrick Lamar (from the song “Control” by Big Sean)
Album I Expected To Like a LOT MORE: Because the Internet ~ Childish Gambino
Best Hyper Ignorant Album of 2013: Stay Trippy ~ Juicy J
Best Album of Soft Lullabies & Elevator Music To Put A Baby To Sleep To: Nothing Was the Same ~ Drake
Artist With MOST Cartoony & Ridiculous Voice: Chance The Rapper
Most Slept On Album of 2013: 7 Days of Funk ~ Snoop Dogg & Dam Funk
Most Nonsensical “Tribute To a Legendary Rap Group” That Made No Sense: “Wu-Tang Forever” ~ Drake
Best Non-rap Album of 2013: Matangi ~ M.I.A.
Most Anticipated Project for 2014: Oxymoron ~ Schoolboy Q
Worst White Kid Whose Parents Should Have Canceled Their Subscription to BET: Miley Cyrus/Justin Bieber (tie)
Worst Hair Cut of ALL TIME: Miley Cyrus/Macklemore
Most Untalented Rapper To Pull A “Kanye”: Wale
Silliest Twitter User of 2013: Gucci Mane
Worst Genre of Music EVER: Country (This doesn’t really have anything to do with anything…just sayin’…)
Most Boring Album of 2013: The 20/20 Experience ~ Justin Timberlake
Silliest Trend in Street Fashion: Mask Wearing
Only Artist Name Dropped On “Control” to End Up Looking Silly: Drake
Most Thankfully Absent Rap Star of 2013: Lil Wayne
Most Likely to Ruin a Track with Nonsensical Crooning and General Auto-tune Fuckery: Future
The opinions and views expressed here are the opinions of the designated author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or views of any of the individual members of Dead End Hip Hop.
What a year it has been for hip hop. I must say, though, that there were a lot of hip hop albums that came out this year that really did not do a thing for me. Nothing Was The Same put me to sleep with Drake’s ever-so-obvious multiple personality disorder and repetitive lyrics. Big Sean put out another laughable pretentious LP. Jay-Z put out another lazy, effortless, and isolated release. And I also really couldn’t stand Kayne’s ever-so-subtle cry of “LOOK AT ME!!” on Yeezus. But despite the lack of content from the so called “heavy weights” in hip hop, I could still find five albums that over-trumped the rest I had heard. So without further adieu, my top five albums of the year are:
#5 Action Bronson – Blue Chips 2
Action Bronson released another schizophrenic mixtape with Party Supplies putting together some more crazy unorthodox, but somehow very catchy, beats for Action to rap over. Not a lot can be said about this mixtape, but the most attractive thing about it to me is that Action Bronson put together a really fun mixtape, and that’s what it’s supposed to be. Action went over these very energetic and unpredictable beats made by Party Supplies and just raps about whatever he wants to, and has a blast doing it. Spitting rhymes that make you laugh, having weird commercials in between songs, and beat changes when you least expect it.
The thing that puts Blue Chips 2 on this list is how not serious it is, and how great it is at keeping you on your toes. Plus Action Bronson’s delivery is undeniably excellent. Such an excellent voice for rap.
#4 Eminem – The Marshal Mathers LP 2
Two squeals on my top five lists haha… Upon first listen I thought this album was exactly what I feared it would be: a horrible visit to the past with the same female pop hooks, and Eminem rhyming words with each other very well but never actually trying to rap about something important or interesting. But like many people have said before, this album takes several listens to get past some of the lack luster production and appreciate the bars Eminem spits, because he DOES SPIT. I love the hilarious, almost cartoon-like, persona he’s so famous for on “So Far…”, “Evil Twin”, and “Love Game”. The more serious songs like “Bad Guy”, “Headlights”, and “Rhyme or Reason” just gave me chills with the amount of passion and effort he put into the lyrics and delivery. Even his lyrical attacking and braggadocios songs like “Brainless” and “Survival” sound very proficient and convincing.
The only reason this isn’t any higher on my list is because of the horrific hooks and lack luster production. Some of the hooks on this album are tremendously bad, which is the main reason I couldn’t find anything I liked about it the first time around. Also, the horrible stadium rock beat to “Survival”, the boring march beat to the disaster “Stronger Than I Was”, and the David Guetta throw away beat on “Monster” featuring the mindless verse from Rihanna. I know I sound super harsh right now, but all of this is a testament to how great the bars Eminem provides us with are, and the flow, delivery, and lyrics are enough to put this at number four.
#3 Danny Brown – Old
I don’t know what it is with me this year and loving albums despite something. I really did not care for the club tracks on the back of this thing. In fact, I really disliked “Kush Coma” and “Handstand.” I thought they were full of effortless and mindless lyrics that I’ve just been so tired of hearing, because it seems like every radio rapper has to recycle the same ideas over and over again. But the concept of this album is what makes me like it so much. I loved the first half of this LP a lot. “25 Bucks” was one of my favorites from this year, “Wonderbread” had an awesome twist-to-a-fairy-tale feel to it, “Clean Up” had an unique story line to it, and, overall, the whole first half of this thing had amazing and heartbreaking story telling. The second half of it was Danny’s “high.” If you looked deep into the lyrics you could actually find some hidden meaning in like the line “I’m numb like a mortician” in “Kush Coma.” Then ending this side with “Float On”, which I felt was like Danny coming back down from his high, and coming back to his senses.
This album had amazing story telling, amazing production by A-Trak, Corin Roddick, and Paul White, and amazing imagery painted by Brown’s lyrics.
#2 Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels
What more can be said about this LP that hasn’t already been said? Killer Mike and El-P have proven, once more, that they are two of the most lyrical, technically proficient, and fluent emcees in the game. El-P came out with some mind blowing, heart pumping production, and, on top of that, killed the beats he made with some of the most insane lyrics which take an insane amount of listens to fully understand. Killer Mike also destroyed every beat with lyrics about the current state of hip hop, the way the media changes the way we perceive things, and of course, how much of a boss he is.
The whole LP has incredible production, mind blowing lines, and impeccable delivery. The only thing I would have liked more of is more themes and more of a message from some of these tracks because the songs with a message (“DDFH” and “Sea Legs”) were my favorites.
#1 Mac Miller – Watching Movies With the Sound Off
Track for track this was absolutely my favorite hip hop album from this year. Mac Miller stepped up his flow, lyrics, production, delivery, features, and everything else. The beats from Clams Casino, Chuck English, Earl Sweatshirt, and even the production Mac did himself were all incredible and very atmospheric, keeping the same hazy/trippy vibe throughout. On this album, Mac Miller writes songs about topics like losing a friend on “REMember”, growing up on “Matches”, and “I Am Who I Am” when he spits about his life and personal thoughts. He actually has many tracks about his inner thoughts and personal life including “Aquarium”, “I’m Not Real”, “SDS” and “Red Dot Music”. I thought Mac put together these tracks, as well as many others, about the way he perceives the world in a very tasteful and relatable way. Also, the features on this LP were all top notch. Earl Sweatshirt had a great hook for “I’m Not Real”, Ab-Soul had a great verse on “Matches”, and Action Bronson had a very notable verse on “Red Dot Music”.
Overall the feel of this album was there. Mac’s lyrics were funny, introspective, and thought provoking, and the themes of the album were very consistent throughout. This album had such a great dark hip hop feel to it, and it’s awesome seeing a dude like Mac become what he is today.
And that is it for my top five hip hop albums of the year. Let me know what you think. Were my picks awesome? Did they suck? Did I get something completely wrong? Let me know.
The opinions and views expressed here are the opinions of the designated author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or views of any of the individual members of Dead End Hip Hop.
El-P picks out 3 records and makes a beat while blindfolded. Crazy.