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WEKetchum Review of eLZhi’s “eLmatic”

25 May

A clear sign of how long ago the photo above was taken: me still feeling the need to mean mug the camera. But I was all smiles after hearing eLmatic, eLZhi’s new tribute mixtape to Nas’ classic debut. It’s been years in the making, but the consensus is that the project is worth the wait despite other emcees dropping their own remakes since he had initially announced the idea back in 2008. Here’s an excerpt from my review:

Detroit emcee eLZhi has been heralded as one of hip-hop’s most talented for years now, but to some, there was something missing. Despite the witty punchlines, multi-syllabic rhyme patterns and conceptual genius shown on songs like “Guessing Game” and “Rules of Rap,” harsher critics said he couldn’t evoke emotion—one of musician’s most important tasks. Well, the years since his official debut album The Preface have been wrought with painful situations: his former manager HexMurda had a nearly fatal stroke, and his group Slum Village was dramatically torn apart through label politics and what he saw as betrayal from his partners. With eLmatic, eLZhi seems to have drawn from those experiences and read between the lines of Nas’ classic debut Illmatic, to capture the intangibles that make his technical skills truly undeniable.

To read the full review on HipHopSite.com, CLICK HERE.

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Big Sean x Ketchums x HipHopDX: Detroit State of Mind

12 Apr

I’ve interviewed Big Sean various times for Metro Times, Cultural Vibe (where we were photographed above), and others. Sadly, his interviews have almost always consisted of the same questions ever since then, and that was years ago. “What do you think of Drake stealing your style?” “What is it like to work with Kanye West?” “Talk about hip-hop’s affect on fashion.” I hope that every Big Sean interview is a big difference, and I walk away disappointed every time.

So when I got another chance to interview Sean for HipHopDX, one of the top hip-hop publications, I decided to speak to him about something he really knows: Detroit. Based on his hometown allegiance, our rapport and him being an open book in general, I’m really happy with how this interview turned out. Hopefully, new readers feel the same way.

CLICK HERE to read “Big Sean: Detroit State of Mind.”

Fantasy iTunes List For Week 8-17-09

18 Aug

FRONT
P.H.I.L.T.H.Y., Love Songs For Losers & Ballads For Ballers EP
What is love? Lansing emcee P.H.I.L.T.H.Y. looks to answer that question with Love Songs For Losers & Ballads For Ballers, his new EP with Los Angeles producer Jansport J. Whether it’s romance, family, friends or God, P.H.I.L.T.H.Y. covers all the bases with this concept project. The EP’s single, “Say It,” has been praised by URB, 2DopeBoyz, Kevin Nottingham, and other music blogs across the Internet. With Love Songs For Losers & Ballads For Ballers, P.H.I.L.T.H.Y. and Jansport J continue the rich tradition of quality hip-hop produced by meshing prime Michigan talent with California’s elite.
[Download at MichiganHipHop.com. Follow P.H.I.L.T.H.Y. and Jansport J on Twitter (@p2dahi and @JansportJ) and MySpace (/p2dahi and /JansportJ). ]

For the rest of this week’s Fantasy iTunes roster, check under the cut.

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Baatin.

13 Aug

I’m notorious for this. The impact of legendary artists’ deaths always hits me really late. I remember I was pursuing an interview with J Dilla, and I bought Donuts from my local Borders the day before he passed away. I remember chopping it up with Khrysis when the advance of the album had leaked a few weeks earlier, and he was clowning me for being from MI but not having a copy.

When Proof died, I never got emo about it, but it was definitely weird knowing a rapper I had met – albeit in passing at The Shelter – was gone. Same thing with Gerald Levert; I interviewed this dude on the phone, and it was candid as hell – we were clowning about new R&B cats, and talking about how real music is. Now, he’s gone.

When Michael Jackson died recently, it didn’t hit me until about 5 days afterward. I was at Whites Bar in Saginaw, Mich., when DJ Snakes played a crazy MJ tribute. Hearing this dude’s string of hits while thinking of the context – he suffered his entire life, to provide music for people like me – was overwhelming. One of the first times I got teary-eyed over someone I didn’t know personally.

I was really down the day that Baatin died, but I got better days after. But tonight, again at Whites Bar, hearing old Slum Village songs got me open. It’s AMAZING how stylistic this dude’s music was – the way he merged with instrumentals and manipulated his voice was unparalleled. Fantastic Vol. 1 and 2 are both flawless, and don’t think Dilla was the only one to make it that way. Baatin’s personality and flow was a huge part of that, and hearing such a vibrant character on wax in retrospect makes me realize how blessed we really were to have him.

Rest In Beats, ‘Tin.

Blat! Pack In The Press Vol. 1

20 Jun

Fledgling web site 360MainSt.com figured I was kind of a big deal, so they interviewed me as one of their Featured Faces. I’ve never been interviewed this in-depth, and it was a great time. An excerpt:

GM:  So again it seems like you are in the role of connecting people with other people…
WK:  I never thought of it like that, but yeah.  With my managing, with mentoring, with everything, I try to help people do what they are best at.  I try to help people be the best that they can be: whether it is telling a writer how to make a certain article better, or telling one of my artists how to make their song sound better in the studio.  I guess ever since I was younger, people have trusted me.  They have said I have really good logic. I make logical decisions, and I try to help other people make logical decisions.

GM:  So again it seems like you are in the role of connecting people with other people…

WK:  I never thought of it like that, but yeah.  With my managing, with mentoring, with everything, I try to help people do what they are best at.  I try to help people be the best that they can be: whether it is telling a writer how to make a certain article better, or telling one of my artists how to make their song sound better in the studio.  I guess ever since I was younger, people have trusted me.  They have said I have really good logic. I make logical decisions, and I try to help other people make logical decisions.

To read the rest of the article, CLICK HERE.


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My artist P.H.I.L.T.H.Y. was also featured as an artist on LivLuxMag’s Music Week by the lovely Doni W. It’s a short interview, but it gives its readers a decent idea of who he is as an artist and a person. I won’t give any excerpts from that since it’s so short, but you can check it out HERE. Also, follow P.H.I.L.T.H.Y. and LivLux on Twitter.

Big Sean, UKNOWBIGSEAN [Mixtape]

20 Apr

This mixtape has gotten pushed back for months now, but I’ve got to admit, it was worth the wait. UKNOWBIGSEAN clocks in at 31 tracks (about six of them skits, but still), with tons of them being original songs. My favorites include “Supa Dupa” (the full version), “Starstruck,” “Desire, Want & Need” and “Say You Will,” but I thought the tape was surprisingly cohesive as a whole. Don’t expect deep, insightful lyrics here – tune in for music that sounds good in the whip, some whimsical punchlines, and playful flows, with intermittent occassions of reflection. Congrats to Big Sean to finally putting this out, and here’s hoping that Finally Famous: The Album isn’t too far behind. I said I wasn’t going to make anymore posts about this until it finally dropped, so here you go.

Tracklist and download link after the jump.

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Karreim Riggins x Metro Times x Ketchums

18 Mar

Question for my fellow music journalists: have you ever interviewed a legendary cat, that you weren’t necessarily a stan of or anything…then when you look back a little later (whether it’s months, years, etc.), you realize how important of a piece/moment it was? Yeah, this is one of those moments. I’ve always been a fan of Karreim Riggins’ work in one capacity of another, but when I went to Metro Times web site this morning to look at the article, it actually hit me: this dude has worked with everybody. J Dilla, Roy Hargrove, Common, Madlib, Betty Carter, Herbie fuckin’ Hancock. Dude’s one of the most accomplished living musicians from Detroit, and I’m gettin’ a  check from this newspaper next week for my story on him. Shit’s wild, man.

Anyway, here’s an excerpt of the story:

Despite the opinions of naysayers, hip-hop producers often have very expansive musical tastes. Even though many of the lyrics are often spoken or rapped instead of sung, most good producers have always sampled, manipulated and used splices of songs from other genres, including old-school R&B, jazz and rock.

Karreim Riggins, on the other hand, doesn’t just sample from various genres. He actually creates his own jazz and R&B music, arguably contributing as much there as he contributes to the hip-hop genre. His varied clientele and associations have included the likes of late rap producer J. Dilla, soul songstress Erykah Badu, and even jazz legend Herbie Hancock. In other words, his musical template exceeds lines of genres.

“The music I do, I want it to be here forever,” Riggins says.

To read the rest, CLICK HERE.

Royce Da 5’9″ Talks “Street Hop”, Joe Budden’s Beat Selection and More

13 Mar

I feel like I’ve been posting more videos than usual, but tell me that the videos that I’ve posted here haven’t been dope. Oh, OK; thought so. This interview with Culture IV sees Royce talking about his upcoming Street Hop album, Joe Budden’s questionable beat selection on Padded Room, and his relationships with other artists/producers. He got me even more excited about Street Hop: he’s getting cameos from Bun B, his Slaughterhouse crew, and even Busta Rhymes. I’ma have to make it out to Detroit and holla at Royce to get a preview of the album myself, because I’ve been eager for this shit.

via MichiganHipHop by-way-of 2DopeBoyz

Bragging Writes: Ketchums x Fluent x Metro Times

6 Mar

Earlier this week, I had a piece published in Metro Times about Fluent, a Detroit emcee/poet/host. Primarily known for his hosting duties at Cafe Mahogany, Fluent is looking to get his recognition as an artist now: which is why the article is titled “R.E.S.P.E.C.T.” An excerpt:

 

 

“At this point, CDs that are classics to my ears [aren’t enough]. I want to put it out there, that I’ve developed as a rapper,” Fluent says. “I have more of a sense of who I am now and how I want to say it. I feel seasoned with it. My style is totally my style, and I feel good about that. Apollo Brown has some really big visibility right now and he reached out to me. Us working together gives us the ability to make a project with a real cohesive feel to it.”

The rest of the article sees him talking about his history, his upcoming projects, and “Words And Rhythms Of The D,” his project with McDonald’s and Music Hall Center of the Performing Arts that seeks to improve reading and writing skills of high schoolers by reaching out to them through music and poetry.

To read the rest, CLICK HERE.

Big Sean, “A Million Dollars” (prod. Wright Trax)

20 Feb

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UKNOWBIGSEAN mixtape? No!

New song? Yes!

From what I understan, this song “A Million Dollars” is on Big Sean’s upcoming Finally Famous album, not on the mixtape we’ve been waiting so long for. Either way, I think the song is dope.

DOWNLOAD: Big Sean, “A Million Dollars” (prod. Wright Trax)

via 2DopeBoyz