Truth be told, I haven’t listened to one of these group freestyles in some time, but when I saw the names featured on the track I figured it was worth my time. The names that jumped out at me most were QuESt and Logic (in that order), but frankly all guys brought some heat on their bars. I wasn’t familar with Castro before the track, and I can’t say he really made a fantastic impression on me, but it’s not to say he doesn’t have talent. QuESt definitely impressed me the most out of all of them, but that was to be expected going into it. Lately, Logic has been getting more press than QuESt, but I still think QuESt is the most talented of the bunch.
No real analysis to go into here. Just wanted to share some dope hip hop. Like the old days.
I just started a new job last Monday, and on Thursday I was asked to introduce myself in front of the entire company. Yall. That’s like 250 people. It was terrifying, but I did it. Got up in front of a full room and said my name, where I’m from, what I like to do in my free time, and a fun fact about myself. It went a lot like this.
[Lydia walks up to the mic. She is approaching the mic to grab it from the CEO who is one of her heroes. Her knees are shaking a bit.] “Hi everybody! My name is Lydia Simmons, I’m originally from Houston. [People around the room start cheering. What up, Texans!] I moved here from Durham, North Carolina for the job. In my free time…I spend a lot of that time maintaining a music blog called Sunset in the Rearview. I really like hip hop music. [People in the room giggle a little. Most likely they're thinking 'This little girl likes hip hop music? That's weird.] Fun fact I guess would be that I lived in Kenya for a little bit and used to speak fluent Swahili. Really excited to be here!”
It was awkward and terrifying. But like I said, I did it.
The best part of it was that some people came up to me afterwards asking about my blog and what type of hip hop I like. That prompted this post, I suppose. Lately I’ve been digging up old school hip hop that I can’t help but love. The old school stuff built the platform for today’s stars to stand on, even if they don’t echo the sound. It’s an ever-growing genre, but it’s always great to see current bands sticking to those old school roots. A group that’s great at doing that is People Under The Stairs. Man, I fucking love those dudes. Pardon my language, but I just needed the oomph to emphasize how great they are. If you’re not onto them, you need to be. They recently released an album called Highlighter that is incredible. The album almost went unnoticed by me, because of the bold move by People Under The Stairs to release it independently in an effort to avoid low-quality MP3s being released. They worked really hard to release a high quality album: from hand-printed and packaged physical album artwork and only selling digital versions on their site at very large file sizes, People Under The Stairs went to extreme measures to maintain the quality of their sounds, at the risk of losing money. It’s great to see that they’re not all about the profits, as you rarely see that from professionals anymore. The good thing for us was that the music itself was quality, too. Some of their beats sample rock songs from my childhood (think Red Hot Chili Peppers), which only enhances the experience. Like hip hop that reflects on old school flows and is set to incredible, full-sound instrumentals? Highlighter is the album for you.
Now here I am being a douchebag and giving yall an MP3 of one of the songs – but I only intend for this to get you to fall in love and buy the album. Seriously. You need to.
So many people ask me how I can stand hip-hop or “rap music.” The thing is, most of the hip hop that I love will never be played on the radio. And I have a love/hate relationship with that fact. I love it because, well, partly because I’m a music snob these days (I’ve admitted to it and I’m okay with it) and I like having some sort of ownership of what I listen to. But I love it mainly because it means that the songs will remain respectable and not overplayed; songs that make it to the radio quickly get overplayed to death and become resented by many. (Read: “Pumped Up Kicks.”) But I hate it because it’s sad that the radio is in such poor state. It makes sense, financially (with the cost of radio streams and all that), but it doesn’t make sense morally. The artist who work their asses off to create great music don’t get the same type of money that the artists who are represented by major labels do. But whatever, it is what it is, and I’m not about to say I have the recipe for changing the system. So I blog instead.
To get more into what type of hip-hop it is that I love, though, I think it’s easiest to say that I love hip-hop that’s easy to listen to. I like melodic hip-hop. I love lyrical wordplay. I love an artist who is conscious of their surroundings. I love hip-hop that could easily be an indie-rock song if the person was singing instead of rapping. I love hip-hop that gets you moving. I love hip-hop that’s played witha full band. That’s about it. Not much more to say other than I love it. With all of my heart. Hip-hop is part of me. It always will be. Even when I’m a grandmother, I think I’ll still love it. Maybe not what the kids will be listening to then, but I’ll still have a love for hip-hop that I grew up loving. Something about that tells me that I might be the coolest grandmother EVER, and I’m cool with that.
Here are a few more new songs that embody all that I love about hip-hop. Press play on “8-Bit Kid” and tell me that couldn’t be an electronic song on its own.
MP3: “8-Bit Kid” – LiLa
“Am I Wrong” – QuESt
I believe I was traveling when this song was released…to think I nearly missed the chance to post a song by one of my favorite hip hop artists of the past 2 years. This beat is downright spectacular, and as always, QuESt brings his all – his emotions, his mastery of rhyming, his story. He’s honest, he’s real, he’s personable…I love finding this in hip hop. He’s not rapping about the gold on his wrist or the shooting in front of his building. Listen carefully, he’s got a lot to say. Oh, and this kid is only 19 years old.
BONUS: Another new joint from QuESt: “Everybody Has A Story”
QuESt, one of my favorite hip hop artists, has just dropped a new joint called “We’re Going Down,” produced by Ace2euce. It’s a remix of “All the Right Moves” by OneRepublic. His flow is for real. This is more of a party jam than any other I can think of by QuESt. Check it.
Great track here! The instrumental is Jay-Z’s “Show Me What You Got,” but ArtOfficial provides a full live band performance of it. QuESt, as always, in my opinion, goes in hard. And I hadn’t heard Swamburger yet, but his performance is also quite good! Check it out and let me know your thoughts!
MUSIC VIDEO: “Elevator Status” – QuESt
Sometimes I feel a little ignorant sitting here blogging about hip hop videos, pop songs, indie flavor, etc. while all around me the world seems to be suffering from tragedies, both natural and intentional. Floods, oil spills, tornadoes, shootings, bombings, earthquakes … it seems to never end. But then I remember that what gets me through every day is wonderful music. Something about the power placed in one person’s hands when they create a song that reaches people…that’s moving to me. And how almost every set of ears is trained to be attracted to a combination of sounds, be they dark, heavy, light, joyful, twangy, or what have you. It seems hard to find people who don’t like music. So maybe that’s the one thing we all have in common. The one thing that we hold together. Maybe that’s our one-up on good old Mother Nature who seems to be tearing our world apart.
Here’s a video from my boy QuESt, the kid who seems to make the blog every time he releases something. That’s saying something right there!
“Love Until We Bleed” (ft. Lykke Li) – QuESt
I’ve been trying to get myself to like Lykke Li for a while now because I know she’s on the rise (and I’ve been hearing from different people that I should love her-what up A.T.), but it really wasn’t until I heard this song that I was able to admit I liked her sound. QuESt is one of my alltime favorites, and I was not disappointed on this track! Be on the lookout for QuESt’s mixtape, “The Reason,” which will certainly be featured right here on sunset when it drops.