Wack Rapper Conspiracy Theory?

Posted by The Zodiac | Blog,Verbal Expression | Friday 25 January 2013 9:00 am
Trinidad James

Trinidad James

I’m not the type to just dive into conspiracy theories.¬¨‚Ć Seems nowadays, that’s all that people want to believe.¬¨‚Ć If it’s not the government rising up to overtake their citizens one law at a time in order to enslave them, it’s every celebrity out there being part of the Illuminati and tossing symbols all over the place in videos and music.¬¨‚Ć People can question a lot that goes around them without proof but once you see a specific pattern, you have to wonder if something is behind it; driving the masses to follow like blind rodents dancing to the pied piper’s tune.

That brings me to today’s Hip-Hop, er…rap artists…er,…today’s popular and signed rappers.¬¨‚Ć I’ve worked around musicians, rappers, and industry people for more than a decade on and off and being a rap artist myself, I know the hard work that goes into creating a rhyme, developing a style, performing a show, and making it all work on a release you hope the listening audience will enjoy.¬¨‚Ć I’m also old school where a musician had to prove themselves by standing out from his/her peers with a skill set that raised the bar educating and entertaining a crowd.¬¨‚Ć That was hip-hop.¬¨‚Ć Either you dropped a crazy verse with a wild style or you battled someone else for the crown but the metaphors, similes, rhyme style, voice fluctuations, and especially your lyrics defined who you were as a true “artist”.¬¨‚Ć You mastered your craft and raised the bar.¬¨‚Ć If someone with influence discovered your talent, they would represent you and back your efforts with their power.¬¨‚Ć Today, it’s not like that…I believe there’s a conspiracy.

Black music had once been a powerful tool.¬¨‚Ć From the days of slaves, there was a message in the music such as “Wade in the Water” telling runaways how to escape to freedom.¬¨‚Ć You have Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Bob Marley talking of social ills from their environments with “What’s Going On”, “In The City”, and “Get Up, Stand Up” respectively.¬¨‚Ć These were meaningful songs that raised people up and lifted their spirits.¬¨‚Ć There’s a reason these songs have reached legendary status along with the artists that created them.¬¨‚Ć Let’s move to Hip-Hop for now.¬¨‚Ć You had artists that were controversial yet still weaved social messages in their music.¬¨‚Ć Public Enemy had “Fight the Power”.¬¨‚Ć Ice-T had “Lethal Weapon”.¬¨‚Ć Paris had “Break The Grip of Shame”.¬¨‚Ć X-Clan had “Heed the Words of the Brother”.¬¨‚Ć Geto Boys had “City Under Seige”. Boogie Down Productions had “Love’s Gonna Get Ya”.¬¨‚Ć Hell, the entire East Coast had “Self-Destruction” and the entire West Coast had “We’re All In The Same Gang”.¬¨‚Ć Positivity was mixed into the message so you weren’t left with a sense of dread or misunderstanding about what’s going on in other areas of the country.¬¨‚Ć It was alllll good!

Fast-Forward to today: 2013 and beyond..¬¨‚Ć it’s been like this for a while: a consistent downfall of quality and a message of lack of self-worth, greed, narcissism, disrespect, and all done in some of the most elementary ways of the English language.¬¨‚Ć These are today’s signed rappers: the slow downfall of Black people.¬¨‚Ć I believe this conspiracy to be true and there’s now enough proof to back it up.¬¨‚Ć Sure, people may say “But you have a Black President.¬¨‚Ć Obviously things for Black people aren’t THAT bad.”¬¨‚Ć I’ve never said racism had disappeared nor have I said we’re blind to what’s going on.¬¨‚Ć Barack Obama’s election and re-election has given more hope to Blacks than a lot of other social programs have in this country.¬¨‚Ć That glimmer gives someone a possibility to become more than they are when they look in the mirror.¬¨‚Ć That skin color isn’t necessarily a prison while living in America.¬¨‚Ć But I believe some would still like to remind you of who you are at all times.¬¨‚Ć And music is a great way to unite, or in this case, divide a people.¬¨‚Ć Let me explain some more:

In the 90’s while rappers like King Sun¬¨‚Ć rapped “Be Black” and Spike Lee was about to drop Malcolm X, Blacks wore kente cloth-laced jackets, kufi hats like Salt-N-Pepa, beads like Brother J and Isis, and “X” hats as well as shirts with slogans “Black To the Future” or “Black Bart Simpson”.¬¨‚Ć Remember that?¬¨‚Ć It was reminiscent to the days of James Brown singing “I’m Proud to be Black” and people singing along with him with pride.¬¨‚Ć White rappers even joined in and seemed to enjoy the culture such as 3rd Bass and Snow.¬¨‚Ć We had shows like “Martin”, “Roc”, “Living Single” and “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper” that usually had some sort of message in it even over the comedic parts.¬¨‚Ć But in the late 90’s and 2000’s something happened…Black Pride went down as music quality went down.¬¨‚Ć 2Pac and Biggie died and the ones reaching for the helm in either coasts didn’t do anything once they reached that top.¬¨‚Ć Nas and Jay-Z fought for the title with Jay-Z winning out.¬¨‚Ć Nas continued to put out positive tunes and stay true to his format and craft.¬¨‚Ć Jay-Z saw money in singles projecting his wealth, fortune, machismo, and drug selling until he was almost unrecognizable as he is today as a so called “Nigga in Paris”.¬¨‚Ć The West never won out much with rappers such as The Game pretty much trying to dis his way back into the public’s eye instead of relying on his craft.

So, no resurgence of beads, kufis, Black pride shirts have come back in 20+ years.¬¨‚Ć The movement is dead.¬¨‚Ć And Why?¬¨‚Ć Today, the way a rapper wants national exposure, he/she has to be discovered.¬¨‚Ć Black people are still tuning into the latest on the radio but their spirit has died along with the quality of music.¬¨‚Ć The heads of music industries have now total control of what you will do in the future by controlling your brand of music and the rappers who create them.¬¨‚Ć No more Public Enemies, Paris’s or X-Clans.¬¨‚Ć Dead Prez made a mark but MTV killed that noise quickly because they didn’t like the message told.¬¨‚Ć Hell, even MTV’s darling, Eminem, caught flack for his genuinely appropriate song, “White America”.¬¨‚Ć Seems as if the Music Industry does not want a knowledgeable Black community so they offer $1 – 3 million dollar deals to some of the lowest denominators in the rap communities: people who can’t speak properly, can’t form coherent sentences, have little to zero artistic ability, and absolutely no pride in either themselves or Black people in general.

Chief Keef is a new rapper from Chicago who has a song called “I Don’t Like”.¬¨‚Ć If you’ve seen the video, Chief Keef utters things he doesn’t like, most notably “snitches” while shaking his dreads, hanging with a bunch of other dudes, smoking, and saying absolutely NOTHING of educational value.¬¨‚Ć Now, I’m not talking about having to learn all the time, but you should get something out of a song you listen to whether it’s a hot verse, dope lyrics, a message, great mic presence, crowd controller…something!¬¨‚Ć No.¬¨‚Ć Chief Keef got signed because he represents the most ignorant stereotype of a Black person.¬¨‚Ć If you shove this in the face of the listening community (Black people), you’ll eventually control them if you give them nothing else to listen to.¬¨‚Ć So, they sign others who they know won’t put out anything but horrible lyrics over hype tracks.¬¨‚Ć They control Black people this way.

waka-flockaWaka Flocka Flame can barely speak English on the mic.¬¨‚Ć Add in Gucci Mane who like Waka, tattooed himself silly all over his body, but went a step further by permanently marking an ice cream cone on his cheek.¬¨‚Ć Offering his public nothing but flashy gold, immature lyrics, and mumbling, Black people go out in droves and support him instead of demanding something better to listen to.¬¨‚Ć Nicki Minaj is doing well for herself but she sucks as a rapper.¬¨‚Ć Making faces, changing your voice, and pretending you’re 12 different people doesn’t making you a talented individual.¬¨‚Ć Tricking the public into believing you’re talented makes you a talented marketer.¬¨‚Ć Like Chief Keef, Soulja Boy was signed when he was around 17 years old.¬¨‚Ć Although that’s a young age for someone to be getting millions of dollars, you’d think these execs would see something worth backing as their investment ages: talent.¬¨‚Ć No.¬¨‚Ć Soulja Boy has zero talent and never did.¬¨‚Ć When your song is called “Skinny Niggaz Runnin’ Shit” and you’re in the video shirtless with your tatted up bird-chest with your fellow wack dude flashing cash repeating the chorus as if it’s talent driving you, you’re delusional.¬¨‚Ć But the execs are shoving this down your throat and you’re following.¬¨‚Ć To imagine, Rakim wrote “Paid In Full” when he was 17 years old.¬¨‚Ć At 17-years old, he influenced an entire nation of future (and some current) rappers to increase their awareness and skills in hip-hop.¬¨‚Ć What do you get out of Soulja Boy or Chief Keef?

The latest act to be shoved in your face is Trinidad James.¬¨‚Ć Although I’m happy for him since he seems like a nice-enough guy, he is talentless hack and offers nothing to the Black community except more ignorance, horrible lyrics, and self-degradation for a dollar.¬¨‚Ć If you haven’t seen “All Gold Everything”, you’ll see what I mean.¬¨‚Ć And you consider the man got signed about 6 months after first starting to rap, you start to understand that the record companies are paying these buffoons money to help enslave you even more.¬¨‚Ć The uprising of Blacks had to be put to a stop after P.E (“By The Time I Get To Arizona”), Queen Latifah (“Ladies First”), or Stetsasonic (“A.F.R.I.C.A.”) and others.¬¨‚Ć The election of Barack Obama has put their mission into high gear.¬¨‚Ć You won’t see talented Hip-Hop artists get signed to major labels based on their talents especially if those talents show a pride in who they are as a people and how to improve our standing in the U.S.A.¬¨‚Ć No…you’ll be forced to look at your new mirror image every time you watch B.E.T. and see a Rick Ross video or reality show starring another Black family so far removed from the portrayal of the Huxtables, it’ll seem surreal.

Let’s see how this all continues.¬¨‚Ć Either someone will stop standing for it and revolt or we’ll forever be begging for the next booty-shaking video our sister or cousin puts on YouTube with their child walking by as your next rap superstar mutters his Sesame Street lyrics to your future high-school drop-out self.¬¨‚Ć It’s your choice.¬¨‚Ć The industry already made theirs.¬¨‚Ć They’re still pied-piping.

Does Your Tattoo Suck?

Posted by The Zodiac | Crazy Things On The Internet,Uncategorized,Verbal Expression | Thursday 19 July 2012 1:45 pm

As an artist, I’m always utilizing my visual abilities to become enamored by what the world has to offer.¬¨‚Ć My eyes never lie and earthly beauty has always fascinated me.¬¨‚Ć Enter man and his ink pen.¬¨‚Ć Tattoos have been a part of modern-day civilization and pop culture for several decades and today, people like getting inked on their skin for several reasons: religion, expression, spiritualism, and sometimes to be a complete jackass so their friends can laugh at them.¬¨‚Ć Living for the now is a great thing.¬¨‚Ć But living to regret it later in life is something God should’ve put into the brains of these morons.¬¨‚Ć I present to you..Tattoos that suck.



My Influence: Bill Withers

Posted by The Zodiac | Verbal Expression | Monday 10 January 2011 9:54 am

It’s funny to think so long ago when I started rhyming in 1987 who my influences were at that time.¬¨‚Ć Of course you had Run-DMC, LL Cool J and Kurtis Blow.¬¨‚Ć Eventually, my list grew to Kool G. Rap, Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Ice-T, and Scarface.¬¨‚Ć But it wasn’t till a little later, when I was in college, when I was influenced by another musician.

I remember being home for a college break and my sister had a cassette tape of Bill Withers Greatest Hits.¬¨‚Ć It was pale with a plate and a rose on the cover.¬¨‚Ć Very non-descript.¬¨‚Ć At that time, I had been enhancing my rhymes and developing a bit of a deeper sense of the poetry behind the rhymes.¬¨‚Ć My vocals were still monotone compared to today and could’ve used some attitude but I was still in a writing phase and just getting to be known as a rapper in college.¬¨‚Ć No one really knew I could spit back then until I discovered others who could.

Well, I popped in this cassette because it had the song, “Lovely Day” on it and I remember hearing Vanessa Williams’ version and loving it so I wanted to see if the original had anything on it.¬¨‚Ć And damn!¬¨‚Ć Did it?!!¬¨‚Ć This Bill dude could flow!¬¨‚Ć His voice was all smooth and had an emotional touch to it that had you bobbing your head and actually FEELING what he had to say.¬¨‚Ć I never really got emotion out of music before but listening to “Lovely Day” had me open.¬¨‚Ć So,¬¨‚Ć noticed some other songs he had on this cassette:

“Ain’t No Sunshine”, “Just the Two of Us”, “Lean On Me”, …¬¨‚Ć I was saying to myself “Damn!”¬¨‚Ć This guy had all of these classic songs and I never even knew his name!¬¨‚Ć Then I saw a song on there called “Grandma’s Hands”.¬¨‚Ć I popped that in and played it.¬¨‚Ć From the first strums, you recognize the sample from Blackstreet’s “No Diggedy” but once Bill lets that ride and says the first two words, “Grandma’s Hands”, he did something I was immediately influenced.¬¨‚Ć See, I remember hearing this song as a kid sitting in the front seat of my dad’s station wagon back in the day.¬¨‚Ć I was probably around 10 years old and we were headed to the barbershop in Montclair.¬¨‚Ć From the first words, my dad hums and turns it up a bit.

That moment was etched in my head the second I heard the song again probably a decade later.¬¨‚Ć NOW I knew who it was!¬¨‚Ć But that wasn’t it…Bill did something in his music that I strive to do in mine:¬¨‚Ć Bill Withers can pick an instance in time and write a song about it.¬¨‚Ć Not so much a storyline…he picks an instant and elaborates on it involving emotion and feeling with a soulful sound.¬¨‚Ć Think about it in this context:

Bill Withers: “Ain’t No Sunshine when she’s gone / Only darkness everyday”
Zodiac Translation: “She went to the store and Bill misses her already”

Bill Withers: “Lean On Me if you’re not strong / And I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on”
Zodiac Translation: “You’re struggling right now and I’ll help you”

Bill Withers: “Grandma’s hands clapped in church on Sunday morning”
Zodiac Translation: “Dude made an entire soulful song about his grandmother’s hands!!!”

Bill Withers: “Who is he and what is he to you?”
Zodiac Translation: “Ok…I see that stare in your eye and his too..what’s up?”

It goes on… “Sweet Wanomi” is a song about a woman relaxing in his arms.¬¨‚Ć The whole song!!¬¨‚Ć “Lovely Day”…it’s a lovely day!¬¨‚Ć Today’s artists don’t choose a moment in time and just sing/rhyme about it.¬¨‚Ć What Bill does is incredible.¬¨‚Ć It’s as if someone took a photo and Bill would stare at the photo and make a 3 minute song about it.

Since that cassette tape, I’ve attempted to create songs that merge that type of feeling in it.¬¨‚Ć It’s harder as a rapper than it is as a blue’s singer because I have a minimum 32 bars and hook mixed in but that emotional part of it and to connect with an audience based on an instance is still a goal I use in certain songs.

“10 Seconds” feat. Manchild
“Second Universe”
“The Calm After The Storm” feat. Manchild
“Don’t Put Me In The Ground”
“Increase & Release”

…and more…

So, peace to Bill Withers: one of my influences.

“Sleeping Giants Are Destroying The Place” Explained…

Posted by The Zodiac | Verbal Expression | Monday 20 December 2010 12:13 am

This song which will be featured on Zetacide Vol. 4 in the future was created from scratch, as were 95% of the Zetacide songs.  The inspiration of this particular track is interesting, though.  A Facebook friend from Melbourne, Australia actually was the cause of this song.  It begins like this:

A very attractive woman from Down Under by the name of Kamini decided to do something crazy…she signed up for a boxing match against an opponent whom she suspected may kick her ass! ¬¨‚ĆSomething in her got the idea to start training hard enough to take on this woman for this event. ¬¨‚ĆAfter reading her updates on Facebook and seeing how serious she was, I was intrigued to the point where I wondered to myself: ¬¨‚ĆWhat would Kamini’s theme music sound like? ¬¨‚ĆAnd then it began…

I thought of Kamini in a Rocky Balboa type of setting with a robe on entering the ring and something kind of intimidating. ¬¨‚ĆYeah, it sounds crazy, but my mind is very visual so I began with a slower BPM as opposed to a faster one and started with the Rocky-inspired horns first. ¬¨‚ĆThat’s where it got crazy and I began adding the bassline to it so it had a depth. The Buhm-buhm-buhm of the horns along with the switching of the bass needed something extra so I added another level of higher horns to the track. ¬¨‚ĆIt began to take shape.

Thinking of this very pretty woman stomping down to the ring to beat this opponent’s ass was cracking me up but it brought in the switch up and added the singing voices to it as if she was raising above the rest. ¬¨‚ĆNo joke! ¬¨‚ĆWhen it was time to add the lyrics, I took that intimidation level higher and thought of the under-dog; the guy you didn’t think could rise above it. ¬¨‚ĆThat’s where the title came from: ¬¨‚ĆSleeping Giants Are Destroying The Place.

If it weren’t for Kamini fighting in this match (which didn’t happen unfortunately due to a cancellation), who knows what the song that week would’ve been.