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Ears to the Street

EARS TO THE STREET Issue 1, 12/12/12 Kahri Griggs and Derek Alcantar

Underground Artist Phil Ade Review Our Perspectives on Hip Hop

Ears to the Street

Issue 1, 12.12.12

Growing up with Hip Hip by Derek Alcantar… 3 My Relationship With Hip Hop by Kahri Griggs….pg. 7 Untitled Poem 1 by Derek Alcantar….pg . 11 Creating a Balance in Hip Hip by Kahri Griggs…….pg. 12 Untitled Poem 2 by Derek Alcantar… 13 Music Review: Phil Ade by Derek Alcantar……pg. 14



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Issue 1, 12.12.12

Growing up with Hip Hip by Derek Alcantar I couldn’t have been a day over 10 years

Growing up, I would frequent the passenger seat

old when I first heard the bass and beats under

of my big brother’s three different Camaro’s. Car

the raps spat by San Francisco, Fillmore district-

rides from my elementary and middle schools

based-MC Andre Nickatina. The sounds and

included a brief listening session to whatever my

fast-paced delivery immediately captured my

brother would be listening to at that time. This list

attention as I was used to hearing only what was stretched from old school Nas, Mase, Wu-Tang played and edited on the radio. I remember

and other 90’s New York sound to West Coast “G-

being fascinated by how it was supposed to

funk” hits like Nate Dogg as well as a long-list of

sound, not edited and “bleeped-out” like radio

Oakland artists. Being exposed to so many artists

stations had previously done at that time. The

from both of my brothers gave me an early

rhymes Nickatina would spit told stories about

appreciation of hip-hop music and culture.

San Francisco, a side of “Frisco” that I hadn’t known too much about at that age. With the collaboration with other local MC’s, I began to be hooked on listening to Andre “Dre Dog” Nickatina and other cats that rhymed with him such as the RBL Posse, Cougnut, Equipto, Messy Marv, and slowly that list grew to include artists from around the San Francisco Bay Area, eventually including a very wide range of artists across the nation.

With the exposure of music from my older brothers, I knew about more artists than I probably should have. I remember talking with my childhood friend, Joshua, everyday at recess about music. We would talk about the latest things in music, the way some of the artists would dress, what their lyrics would say, how their videos looked, why some of the videos looked to be better quality than others, why some of the artists would appear to be more focused on the lyrics of something, etc…


Ears to the Street something, etc… I distinctively remember a discussion we were having regarding Juvenile’s

Issue 1, 12.12.12 This critiquing of the culture became very frequent, as I grew older and began to discover new music on my own.

“Back That Azz Up” and Tupac’s “Changes” being released in the same year. I began to really question the lyrics of these songs being so incredibly different. I noticed the difference between the artists as well and started to question what was it that I liked so much about this music? Was it the lyrics? I began to grow confused with what was attractive to me. I appreciated how Tupac was speaking because of the knowledge he was dropping, yet I enjoyed the beats and rhythm of Juvenile’s song. Hearing these similar sounds with very different lyrics became contradicting for a young ten-year-old.

After middle school, during my freshman year of high school, I remember became incredibly popular among the teenage crowd. Thus, the opportunity for artists to get their music out there, both locally and on a national level, skyrocketed. Artists were uploading their songs for thousands of kids across the United States to take and put on their own “Myspace” page. I was one of these kids. I grew to discover countless artists via Many of these artists were local. My appreciation of the Rap/Hip-Hop scene in the San Francisco Bay Area grew during these years as well. The same artists that I was listening to while riding around with my brothers

I began to realize I had a passion for music, as I would be very critical about what I listen to. This critiquing of the culture became very frequent, as I grew older and began to discover new music on my own



Ears to the Street when I was younger, were the same artists I was


Issue 1, 12.12.12

discovering and re-discovering on Myspace in

eryday life as a teen. Music was the only thing

my teen years. Artists like the MOB Figaz, more

relatable as I was unsure of my future after

specifically “The Jacka” and “Husalah” became

high school. I used Hip-Hop as something to

regulars in my CD player. During these years at

occupy my mind and forget the fact that time

Hayward High School, I began listening to a lot

was running out on deciding what to do after

of Jadakiss, Styles P., Big Pun, Big L, Eminem,

high school. By chance, it was a homework

Jay-Z and other “mainstream” rappers that were

extra credit assignment to apply to local CSU’s.

big at that time, however these artists would not

After applying and getting accepted to CSU

get as many spins from me as the local Bay Area

Northridge, my life changed significantly.

MC’s would. This trend further continued as I began driving, playing only songs that sounded good with the bass of the ridiculous, obnoxious Kicker sound system I had while in school.

Moving out of the Bay Area allowed me to get a fresh perspective of Hip-Hop and the culture from a different region. I was able to discover even more artists with the move down to

The lyrics of these artists described stories of

Southern California. Learning about the Los

what was going on in the Bay Area after the so-

Angeles Hip-Hop scene with Blu, Kendrick

called “Hyphy movement.” With not much time

Lamar, Nipsey Hussle and others gave me an

invested in school, I was not there very often.

even deeper appreciation for the culture as

When I was there, it was not for studious

these artists were so incredibly different from

reasons at all. Distracted and not focused, music

those I grew up on. Living in Los Angeles and

was still the core of my everyday life as a teen.

discovering these new artists gave me a

Music was the only thing relatable as I was

different view of artistry in regards to the

unsure of my future after high school. I used

context that these artists developed their



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artists gave me a different view of artistry in regards to the context that these artists

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Thus, it is an interesting mixture of commodity, talent, lack-of-talent & T360. The web 2.0 also is a curveball to what music is today, leaving the future

developed their careers in. As a freshman, hearing Blu for the first time was like being born again. I was a 17 year old from 300 miles

almost completely unpredictable. One thing is for certain, it is not going anywhere in my opinion, especially with digital tools. Artists can now spew

away with not one family member in sight. I

out raps and rhymes at much higher volumes than

remember listening to Blu’s “Below the

once before. With that being said, Hip-Hop cannot

Heavens” numerous times in rotation. I could

be dead, only covered with the clutter of the Web.

not bring myself to listen to anything else during that stint because of the lessons Blu gave lyrically. Blu was giving me a heads up of how the so-called “real world” was, in his experiences. I listened because I related it with growing pains that I was experiencing. Hearing this content in a new environment blew my mind. Today, I am aspiring to work A & R in the business of music. I realize that the business of Hip-Hop is not to be commercialized, but the world we live in cannot be reversed.



Ears to the Street

My relationship With Hip Hip by Kahri G. “Come with me. Hail Mary nigga, one quick see.

Ever since a kid, listening to my music

What do we have here now? Do you wanna ride

through headphones at full volume has been

or die? La dadada la la la la”. From the moment I one of my favorite forms of therapy. Hip-hop heard this melody from Tupac, blasting through

made a big impression on me at a young age.

the speakers of my older cousins sound system, I

Seeing black men who came from rages to

was in love with hip-hop. It was the passion and

riches and on television with money, woman,

aggression in the lyrics that drew me to 2pac and

and success made me want walk, talk and

hip-hop. Music has been apart of my life for as

dress like.

long as I can remember. My mother and father loved music and used to collect records when I

One of the first experiences with hip-hop that I can recall as a child was hearing Tupac song “Dear

was younger. My father was a huge James Brown

Mama”. It’s probably the most timeless song in

fan and my mother loved Aretha Franklin. I think

hip-hop. Most rap songs that are made nowadays

this attributes to the reason I love soul samples so

will not withstand the test of time like this song.

much. Music runs in my blood so it was only

My uncle had the Tupac’s album “Me against the

right that I gravitated towards it. I fell in love with World”. I remember he came to stay with us one hip-hop at young age because it was something

summer and I listened to that song on repeat on a

that I could relate to and identify with. I would

CD Walkman until I memorized lyrics. Even as a

use my sisters walkman and listen to her tapes and CDs when she would leave the house.

kid, I could comprehend and relate to the message in that song as many of those who grew up in the hood can.

Ears to the Street

Issue 1, 12.12.12

What I really appreciate about Tupac’s music is

sample from the movie “Anne” on the hook

that he gives you both sides of the story of a

is one of the greatest of all time. Jay-z is one

young black man growing up in the hood. He

of my favorite rappers because a lot of the

makes songs about the thug lifestyle but also

beats that he uses have soul samples. Jay- z is

makes songs that reflect on his experiences and

another rapper whose music is well

explain why he thinks and acts the way he does.

balanced. He gives his story but is reflective

This is what lacks in the music of the rappers

on his experience. He is one of the best

who claim to be thugs today. Their music has no

lyricists ever in my opinion. What makes a

substance or balance in their music. The music

good lyricist to me is when a rapper is able

that rappers put out today is all to portray an

to use extended metaphor, triple entendre’s,


and able to play of words. Jay-z is master of

I remember the first rap CD I ever bought of my own was Jay-z ‘s “Hard Knock Life Vol. 2.” Looking back on it that CD is probably not something an 8 year old should be listening to but my father didn’t mind. I didn’t understand half the things he was talking about anyways. All I knew is Jay-z had a dope flow. Hard Knock Life is still one of my favorite hip hop songs. I

it all. Something I’ve think real interesting within hip-hop is the different subcultures. These cultures are created through local and underground hip-hop. When I was younger I lived in Texas. I remember when I was in the 6th grade somebody asked me if I listened to underground music or the radio. I told him the radio and he made fun of me.

used to keep that song on repeat. I think the sample from the movie “Anne” on the hook is one of the greatest of all time. Jay-z is one of my 8


Ears to the Street Back then I couldn’t understand why he laughed and didn’t know there was a difference between underground and mainstream hip-hop. I was trying to argue that Ja Rule was the best rapper out. Now that I’m older I can laugh at myself about that as well. This is how I learned about the chopped and screwed culture in Texas. He taught me about rappers like Z-Ro and Dj Skrew. Though I still don’t like chop and

Issue 1, 12.12.12 They made music they could relate to and call their own. The culture of hip-hop in the bay area has influenced the way I dress, the slang I use, and the even the way I wear my hair. The reason I find this interesting is because hip-hop started in the streets of the Bronx and this cycle has continued through time. It’s different parts of the country and different styles but it’s all hip-hop.

screwed music, I can appreciate how where you live can influence the music that is made and listened to in that area.

What I love about hip-hop it’s a form of expression that I can relate to. It’s an outlet for the inner city community to tell their story in a

I really grew an appreciation for underground hip hop when I moved back to the Bay Area in 2001. In the streets of Oakland, a new hip-hop movement, called “Hyphy”, was born and its spread throughout the bay area and became a culture. Rappers like Mac Dre, Keak Da Sneak, Messy Marv, and The Jacka were the voices for

creative way. Hip-hop gives the hood a voice and a look into things those from that area experience. Though mainstream hip-hop has gotten away from this concept, there are still true MCs and lyricist out there with a message. Though the substance in rap lyrics has decrease the music production is better than ever.

the streets of the bay area. I really love the soul samples in hip-hop music.


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I think the whole process that producers go through in finding the perfect portion of a song and chopping the sample to make it there own is very creative. One of my favorite samples of all time is Jay-z “Dead Presidents” with the Nas sample from “The World is Yours”. The hip-hop beats made today’s are more creative then ever. Hip-hop music has always been there for me. For every bad time I’ve had in my life there been a song that helped me through that time. My mother passed away when I was younger and “Crossroads” by Bone Thugs N Harmony was a song that I listened to a lot during that time. For every good time hip-hop has also been right there. I will always appreciate hip hop for being there throughout my life. I just hope that one day we can get back to the basics.



Ears to the Street

Issue 1, 12.12.12 Untitled by Derek Alcantar

Ain’t seen the back of my eye lids in about 72 hours No coca baby no gun play baby this just that wavy shit Not no Max B, not no Nas piece just a song bout me See I love this rap shit, cuz even when there aint no good shit hannin I just roll the dro up and keep these beats on protools clappin Momma, Papa I’m out here trappin not no bullshit I learned straight from yall So I got to keep on stackin, I’m not sayin I gotta do shit rappin but god damn man Skin may just have it, see Im just tryna make shit happen, gotta make sure my nieces have it, make sure they can plan it, make sure they can plan it… show them they can have it, show them they can have it…show them they can have it… See I just lost my Uncle man he needed a liver, Doctor said man death comin quicker, couldn’t say shit to get my auntie off that liquor State said Bobo will get out this year, second thought said nah fuck that he aint finna get here, now they got Jeremy mane fuck the system,… fuck the system… I swear somedays I wake up so prolific, like I got dis here, big krit I am the topic of discussion I don’t give a fuck bout no radio buzzin but if its for my dawgs then I’ma bark my way up out that there muzzle, tell momma Scooby out here hustlin… you hear that mom, I said Scooby out here hustlin…

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Lyrics that Jay-z was spitting on songs like "Can I Live" cant be understood if you don't know Ears to the Street Issue 1, 12.12.12 that environment and Creating a Balance in Hip Hop lifestyle. But the mainstream or those with money can definitely by Kahri G. understand materialism. Social In class we discussed creating a status and success are determined balance in hip-hop and whats on how much money you have played on the radio. The reason I and what you can buy. Also, think we don't hear a balance in whats more simple and the mainstream is because Hip superficial than sex, money, and Hop has become a business. The drugs? Everybody can relate to aim is not to move the culture that, especially us as college ahead but to use the culture to students. What I'm trying to say make a profit. Though, Hip-hop isis, I doubt you can understand still a culture to us, we are the the depths of albums like minority. The record labels are "Illmatic" and "Reasonable looking to maximize profits and Doubt" if you don't come from they do this by aiming there that type envornment. The music at the majority who is majority that the music business buying music. The biggest is aiming at is not this consumer of hip hop is white community. teenagers. More than 50% of So in all, I don't think we'll consumers of Hip hop are white. ever have the balance in the Niggas in the hood are not on mainstream like we Itunes downloading music when would like. I think the only they can download it for free. The thing that is keeping a balance labels are pushing rappers to in Hip hop is the mixtape. As aim music at the people who have long as the mixtape remain the money. So when Jay-z says 'I free and not about money. dumbed down my lyrics, to Artist are able to show balance double my dollars", it makes through the mixtape that they perfect logical sense to me. I don't are not able to show on there want to say all white people, but albums because of the labels. I the majority don't understand personally dont like that artist and I think most of all cant relate use the mixtape to keep their to hip hop music that has a street cred. A lot of the music message for the little black that the labels don't allow on boy/girl in the hood. The people the CD, they'll just throw it on with money don't want to hear the mixtape. But thats another music about the struggle because topic... they don't relate. So when Jay-z dumbs down his lyrics, he's doing so that the majority can understand. Lyrics that Jay-z was spitting on songs like "Can I Live" cant be understood if you don't know that environment and 12


Ears to the Street

Issue 1, 12.12.12 Untitled by Derek A See I can’t, See I can’t, I just can’t… decide Why I don’t even try, I don’t even try.

I get out of class aint talking devry this state tuition shit is some bull, just a mothafuckin lie, profitting off knowledge got me maneuverin through a bureaucracy high floatin cloud 9 but learnin just fine, 5 years at a time no wonder I come to school high… No I said that for the sake of the line see I can learn just fine but we’ll talk about that some other time…yeah…save that for another rhyme…another rhyme.. See its my ex’s birthday today fuck no I didn’t drop on her one dime see we not that cool anymore Matter of fact I should send her a line anyway I just thought of her today because a month ago tomorrow me and Johanna fell out, man that shit hurts but her timing was terrible, can’t blame me for not fathoming a bearable attitude man just show me a chick with some gratitude see she left and even though that shit should have hurt more it just didn’t, I know that shit should have rhymed but it just didn’t, I just wanted to answer your question did that shit hurt? Nah babe it just didn’t..see you aint realize there’s shit in life that’s prioritized and when you leavin when they got cousin mug shot on TV televised….shit I just can’t help but to feel that we’ll never be right…damn I loved yo ass cuttin class back at Hayward High we used to dip to Frisco let some stacks go baby thought we would grow up and move fuego…fuck that baby now I’m just out here ridin solo, mobbin for some pesos movin mean with my cholos, tryna get those pesos….tryna get those pesos….

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Ears to the Street

Issue 1, 12.12.12

Title By Derek Alcantar She was feeling me I told her I will hit her then but I ain’t get her number Another coulda been... Phil Ade, a talented young MC from the DMV (D.C, Maryland & Virginia), displays his skills in the 2010 video treatment of "Always There," a track produced by Sunny Norway. In the video we see Phil and his crew make their way through the D.C. area by means of public transportation, in search of finding the one he's been looking for. 368 Music Group presented Phil Ade's "Always There" off the critically acclaimed "Starting on JV" back in 2010 with this video.Phil delivers an immediate classic Hip-Hop feel to this song, sampling Common's 1994 classic, "I Used to

this shoot definitely provides a good illustration

Love H.E.R." beat. The sample delivers a fresh blend

of what Phil Ade was referring to in "Always

of Common's ideas with a twist of a new-school,

There." I believe that Phil Ade's music is greatly

upbeat Sunny Norway production, giving Phil Ade the

influenced from the area he is from. With other

ability to switch his flow up however he desires in this

acts like rapper "Wale" from the same area, go-go

song, as he did at certain points from fast and a slow-

music is very popular in that area, a style that

medium pace. Ade and his crew are seen in the streets

is definitely displayed in "Always There." Wale

of D.C., where he is from. Using a hometown as a

even mentioned on his twitter to check out the

location for an artist's video shoot always seems to

young MC.

deliver a sense of pride and dignity in the work they

Phil Ade's image consist of everything he

provide. This is true yet again especially for Phil, as

portrays in his music. He often refers to himself

"Always There" provides a brief snap shot of the

as a genuine, simple young man that is about

culture and life of some young people in D.C. The

family and loyalty whilst going through early

location chosen for this shoot definitely provides a g

stages of life. You can see such a description

illustration of what Phil Ade

when watching Ade in his music videos. He tends

was referring to in "Always There." I

to focus on a flow maintenance and riding any

believe that Phil Ade's music is greatly 14


videos. to focus on a flow maintenance and Ears to He thetends Street riding any beat he is spitting over. In this specific song,

Issue 1, 12.12.12

Phil paints a linear portrait of meeting young women by switching the subject between the two females when

Then she replied: I respect your smoothness But truth is, I’m not the one you’ve been looking for I was booked four months ago today, and now I’m engaged Sorry babe!"

switching between verse one and verse two. In the beginning of the song, Phil ends his first verse with

"She was feeling me I told her I will hit her then but I ain’t get her number Another coulda been..." as mentioned at the beginning of this analysis. As he ends his discussion and interaction with the first female, the video shows Phil and his crew continuing their public transportation mission throughout the city, soon encountering another young female for the subject of verse number two. "Here go another one, another young five foot seven Heaven sent angel, no halo just the wings Flyer than the other broad walking down the boulevard Me I’m the car admiring from afar Hey ma’, may I have a moment of your time As polite as I could be, so she proceeded to the ride I really dig your vibe and them light brown eyes I hate to say swag but dag its down tight I’m downright impressed, me and you would mesh I’m not another brother tryin’ to get under your dress I’ve been looking for this girl right, see her at night When I snooze and I’m thinking now she might be you

Phil uses his second verse as a description of another encounter with a female. As the verse ends, so does his attempt to capture a romantic relationship with the young lady. Phil uses dramatic wordplay to promote his game upon the young lady, describing a dream girl whom he thinks constantly about then referencing the young lady as possibly fitting that notion. Phil's attempts are rather refreshing because of the creativity and thought behind these attempts, which he raps about. After these two specific verses the hook seems to play out with a little more emphasis on a specific woman that Phil desires. The "You're Always There In My Love" part seems to be directed toward a simulacrumbased individual who Phil is searching for. This third verse seems to be devoted to this woman and Phil's search for her, which Phil realizes is very tough to find such a woman, thus not desiring this person so much by the end of the song because so often the outcome is the same. Phil makes various references to pop culture and culture in general with the lines;

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Issue 1, 12.12.12

I really enjoy this piece by Phil Ade. I believe it is very genuine and he truly felt this way upon writing and creating this song. After recently going through a break up, I find this song to be actually pretty comforting and it brings forth a good deal of positive energy as well as the “there are other fish in the sea� type aura. I find that it says a lot about gender and sexuality. I believe it provides a detailed description of the mind of an early adult whom may be experiencing romantic relationships and even balancing those relationships on such a day to day basis that it almost becomes a new developing priority to find that specific person rather than allowing time be and allowing that person to come to him/her. Regardless of your view, the video provides an interesting stand point about the young adult, urban male. I believe this is true because as someone who lives directly on the other side of the country where Phil is from, these lyrics seem to describe the sexuality and adulthood of someone in a similar place both geographically and sociologically. This video was an equal depiction of what I imagined when hearing the audio to the record. It describes exactly what Phil rhymed about.



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