State In The Real – Penn State Music Scene

Author - Tariq Rashid

Jay Electronica Teams Up With Jay Z


Jay Electronica  took a break from gallivanting around with British heiresses to bless the masses with a freestyle over Soulja Boy’s “We Made It”. The allusive  MC teams up with Jay Z for a remix of epic proportions. This track was previously remixed by Drake as well. Jay and Hov body the track with crafty religious allusions and references to slavery. Electronica rhymes, “From Solomon to Sambo to Django it’s fact. I’m the Farrakhan of rap and I get it from the will.” Leave it to Jay Electronica to completely turn a song on it’s head. The God MC then takes his turn at the celebratory anthem; name dropping Academy Award winning actress Lupita Nyong’o, taking a jab at Drake, and reminding audiences why we call him Hova. This is upper echelon bragging at it’s finest. This is divine rhyming. This is the Roc. Jay Electronica released another song earlier in the week entitled “Better In Tune with The Infinite” that was well received. Suffice to say the New Orleans rapper is having a damn good week. Let’s just hope this is all a warmup for the secret album Act II..


Anyone fiending for some Biggie or Pac today? Well, Djay MS is the man you’re looking for. The Philly based artist is stirring the pot with his Biggie Smalls and Tupac inspired mix called #TrustNoOne. The DJ blended and chopped several of the rap luminaries’ hits for an aggressive twenty three minute tape. Audiences will undoubtedly be brought back to the jarring East Coast x West Coast rap rivalry of the 90’s. This was a time when beef meant more than just flakey publicity stunts and 140 character twitter feuds. Artists died over their verses. #TrustNoOne includes songs like “What’s Beef?”, “Big Poppa”, “How Do U Want It”, and “Hit ‘Em Up”. Djay MS recently crisscrossed on a campus tour that made stops at LaSalle University, Temple University, and Howard University. Check out the mix below and follow @DjayMS on twitter while you’re at it!

YOGI Links Up with Pusha T

Need your rap and EDM mashup fix? Welp, here it is. British production team YOGI links up with Pusha T for a new track called “Burial”. The kinetic song clocks in a little shy of four minutes and is full of  audio jabs and uppercuts. The combination of YOGI’s cold production and Pusha’s ginsu sharp delivery makes for the perfect marriage. Our favorite snow mover has toyed around with EDM more and more as of late. A few months ago Pusha let the cannon loose on Chase & Status’ hard hitting song “Machine Gun“. This go ’round is even more hectic and provides some dancehall samples too. YOGI will release an EP on Skrillex’s OWSLA label. Check out the song below!


Kes Brings Audio Justice

Today you probably listened to a love song on the radio or on your smartphone. It was formulaic, conventional, average at best. You probably bopped your head or tweeted out a few ambivalent song lyrics about a crush. Then, you heard another “love song” that put you in a different place. It invaded your ears and commandeered that space between your head. The rhythm grabbed you, the bridge tricked you, the melody woke you. It was decidedly different. Kes is that artist who grabbed you. The Compton native provides a genre bending musical experience. He pairs elements of RnB, rock, and rave with unhinged lyrics for an adventurous sound. Kes showcases his eclectic brand of music on his EP Audio Justice. The five track project provides listeners with a perfect cross section to explore the talented singer’s head.

A Heaven sent choir fills the opening song entitled “Redemption”. Drums and synths are then brought in as Kes begins his story. The renegade makes his statement singing, “F*ck my redemption. I just wanna keep myself honest.” He unfolds; pleading to not be judged or criticized. This is Kes, in the here and now, unabashedly raw. “So don’t go throwing stones here in this glass house. ‘Cause if it comes crashing down it’ll kill both of us,” pleads Kes during the chorus. Audiences hear the complete vulnerability in his voice. It is a great start to the EP.

Kes trades in the even keeled rhythm for the uptempo club track “Horses”. Listeners are brought on a sexy night cap as Kes pursues a mysterious woman waiting for a “ride”. The song unfolds into a raunchy 80’s RnB jam. Kes’ dark horse candidate has a thing for finely tuned cars and dominating in sex. The singer plays on the double entendre; getting kinkier as the song continues. “Horses” has a certain kinetic bounce to it that’s reminiscent of Miami Vice. You could see Don Johnson picking up a Dolphins cheerleader with this blaring in his Testarosa. Elsewhere, Kes revs up his passion on the power ballad “Gimme Your Love”. The song is filled with quirky electronica twinges. Kes shows his vocal range as he layers and manipulates his vocals. It’s an enthralling song that returns energy to listeners during each chorus and bridge.

“Carry On” is Kes’ most endearing offer. The singer pleads to a “silly little Compton girl” to carry on. It’s a rousing personal narrative. Kes tries to save a city girl who almost gets swept up in the ills of inner city business. He sings, “So might as well carry on. ‘Cause the light comes after dark. Carry on!” Kes strips the layered track for an acoustic guitar assisted bridge. The drums and auto-tune return for the rest of the song as Kes calls on his Compton girl to change the world. It’s an ode to the human spirit. Kes’ voice illuminates the world for his wayward muse and offers a channel to make a difference. Viewers are transported to a Middle Eastern oasis by the close of “Carry On” for the thrilling “Arabian Peninsula”. Kes plays with a lusty assortment of 808 drums and sitar samples as he woos an exotic Arabian princess. He does his best job in the role of gigolo as his love interest treats him to all the finer things in life in exchange for love. The track is playful; never digging too deep. Its a fun way to end the EP as Kes keeps it light on a fling.

Audio Justice is a great start for an artist who has loads of potential. Kes’ songs show his strengths as a musical chameleon. His style is a throwback to the 80’s as well as a corollary to today’s evolving RnB sound. Kes can progress if he explores deeper relationships and problems through music in future projects. Audiences reveled in the sexy one night stands. However, Kes is very capable of more serious subject matter. Further exploration of his ambitious Compton girl or the beautiful equestrian who hitchhiked into his heart will fill out songs. The sky is the limit for Kes. An eclectic style like his only sets him apart from the pack. Kes’ challenge will be to develop his storytelling while also preserving his unique soundscape.

Jay Z Magna Carter Tour Review

Jay Z concluded his Magna Carter World Tour with a stop at Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center on Friday. The award winning rapper would not disappoint as he commanded a spirited two hour show. Jay treated fans to his full musical library. Hov visited everything from Reasonable Doubt to Watch the Throne. By the end of the concert any critics wondering if Lucky Lefty had lost a step would be silenced.

The show opened with a set by DJ Jus Ske around 8pm. By 9 the boss himself was ready to take the stage. Jay Z opened with “U Don’t Know” from The Blueprint to the deafening cheers of a packed house. Fans saw the rapper clad in all black revel in the yells as he took the BJC in. Hov introduced his band and his guest; super producer Timbaland. The show took off from there. Jay Z performed “#FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt” and “On to the Next One” from Magna Carta Holy Grail and The Blueprint 3 respectively. The rapper teased fans with a rousing version of “Drunk In Love”. Girls and guys alike searched for a Beyoncé appearance to no avail.

The concert continued as Jay ripped through hits from The Black Album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, and Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter. Things slowed down and got nostalgic with Jay’s performance of “Dead Presidents” and “Can I Live”. The Brooklynite channeled the same fire that catapulted him to the top in the 90’s as he unleashed line after line. Jay seemed to give a nod to deceased rapper and friend Pimp C on “Big Pimpin’” as he rapped the Texas legend’s verse.

The head of the Roc commanded the BJC crowd during each of his three “acts”. By the third set Jay was ready to tear the roof off of the arena. The multi-millionaire explained how he had been fined during a show for telling fans to stand on chairs during “N*ggas in Paris”. So, of course he couldn’t resist repeating the same act with a crowd of rowdy college students. Arena staff was told to stand down as fans stood up and danced to the mega-hit. It felt like Jay Z was making a statement. Here was a performer, a business man, a tastemaker who shrugged off the threat of a mere $50,000 fine in order to have fun. Who can stop him, huh?

Mr. Carter reminded fans of his appreciation during the last act of his show. Cameras panned to fans with funny signs and homemade outfits the rapper cosigned. At one point a young man passed an envelope up to the stage that contained a $500 check to the Shawn Carter Foundation. Hov got the crowd to sing “Happy Birthday” to a lucky fan by the stage. Jay thanked fans for their support and explained that the feeling he was wrapped in never gets old. The rapper introduced his band and then went back to performing for couple offerings. Jay invited State College to his hometown on “Empire State of Mind” and brought us back to The Blueprint with “Izzo”. Diamonds flew up everywhere in the arena when Jay Z performed “Hard Knock Life”. There was a certain solidarity that filled the BJC as fans swayed to the rapper’s hit about hardships and success.

Jay’s last song, “Forever Young”, was particularly poignant. Hov dedicated the song to late world leader Nelson Mandela. Jay stressed that anything is possible as he glided through the song assisted by the lights of smartphones and lighters. He guided the crowd and brought the sea of lights into one body; one experience. Jay Z’s prowess as a rapper and sheer influence was on full display on Friday night. Fans were reminded what the Roc symbolizes and just how great the architect who made it is. Concerts that provide a good time are everything. Concerts that transcend your mental presence are rare. With that said; it’s no wonder we proclaim that Jay Z is the greatest of all time.


14 Rappers & Singers To Watch For in 2014 Pt. 1

2014 is shaping up to be a a great year for hip-hop and RnB. Some artists have already kicked in the door dropping heat in January. The TDE crew is leading the pennant chase with several solid offerings. Schoolboy Q and Isaiah Rashad are just waiting to blow up the West Coast and abroad. Jhene Aiko is coming off of a stellar 2013, which saw her involved in a dozen features. Aiko’s debut album Sail Out, which is scheduled for release in May, is heavily anticipated. And there are a dozen other artists who are primed for an amazing year. So, without further ado – here’s our list of 14 rappers and singers to watch for in 2014!


Schoolboy Q

West Coast rhymer Schoolboy Q is poised for a massive year in 2014. The rapper is arguably the second best in Kendrick Lamar’s TDE outfit. Q released his first major project, Setbacks, in 2011. Habits and Contradictions came a year later. Q’s second major project was a dark winding adventure. Audiences found Schoolboy reflecting on selling oxycontin, narcotic fueled binges with women, and life on the streets as a Hoover Crip. Schoolboy is unabashedly raw with a delivery that cuts, slices, and flips beats. The Black Hippy killed a feature on this A$AP Ferg’s “Work” remix this year and bodied TDE’s BET cypher. Q also teased audiences with two songs off of his upcoming album Oxymoron; If  “Man of The Year” and “Collard Greens” are any indicator of what the rest of the album will sound like, I’d say we’re all in for a treat. Keep an eye on Schoolboy’s bucket hat as he releases Oxymoron next month.


A$AP Ferg

2014 may be the year of the Robins. No, not the migratory songbird; the crime fighting sidekick. Schoolboy Q and A$AP Ferg both got the cosign from the capos of their respective groups. A$AP Rocky gave Ferg the green light as he released his debut album Trap Lord this past year. The album was well received by critics and included bangers like “Shabba” and “Work”. A$AP Ferg’s combination of vocal tricks and myriad of flows put him above the fray. This guy has a sound that’s just as diverse as his sartorial repertoire. It’s a theatrical show whether he’s shouting belligerently or using the melodic fast paced Bone Thugz ‘n Harmony delivery. Expect more features from the Traplordian in the new year and a strong showing on A$AP Mob’s new album Lords.


Lil’ Bibby

Chicago has become a hotspot for up and coming talent. Leading the Windy City charge is a 19 year old named Lil’ Bibby. Bibby and his partner in crime tore through the drill scene with anthems like “Kill Shit” and “Play They Role”. Lil’ Bibby dropped into the national conversation this year with his first full length mixtape, Free Crack. The project answers any questions naysayers had. No, this kid is not like his monosyllabic rhyme scheme loving contemporary Chief Keef; this Chicago native can spit. Bibby weaves through drill beats in his signature baritone drawl and doesn’t leave much for the imagination. The East side native gives audiences floor seats to the ills of Chicago’s unforgiving streets. He’s brash, unapologetic, and raw. Look for the young gun to be scooped up for features by established mainstream rappers in 2014 (a la Chief Keef and Kanye). He’s already got the Drake cosign and a loyal following. Now he just has to do his thing.


Lil’ Herb

Lil’ Herb came onto the national scene with his crony Bibby this past year. Herb, like Bibby, leaves nothing to the imagination for listeners. Herb is aggressive. He’s witty. He’s generous with his flow. Herb and Bibby are a force to be reckoned with when they trade lines. But Herbie is a gale force wind of his own when he goes solo dolo. It may be a little too early to say who’s better but I think Herb edges out his wingman. The young MC held his own on King Louie’s “Eastside Sh*t” and had fans foaming at the mouth for his three part “4 Minutes of Hell” freestyle. The braggadocious beat killer could improve by broadening his subject matter but his upside is amazing. Watch out for his project Welcome to Fazoland: The Motion Picture this year.

SoundCloud: N/a

Fat Trel

MMG got a lot bigger with several additions this past year. The super crew’s most notable pickup comes in the form a heavyweight MC from DC who goes by the appropriate moniker Fat Trel. Trel rocks with fellow Chocolate City native Wale but their styles are pretty different. Trel flexes over gritty trap beats throughout his SDMG mixtape. The songs are catchy street anthems. Fat Trel hit a homerun on his “Sh*t” remix. His verse bested strong offererings from Philly native Meek Mill and MMG boss Rick Ross. Trel fits perfectly into the Maybach Empire blueprint with his street edge. We’re just waiting for him to make the jump into the mainstream in 2014.


Travis Scott

Is he a rapper? Is he a producer? Is he even human? Who knows, but Travis Scott is talented for sure. Scott had an amazing 2013 that included producer credits on Magna Carta Holy Grail, Yeezus, and Hall of Fame. The 21 year old put out some work of his own as well with the dark primal mixtape, Owl Pharoah. Scott has created a unique sound. His music is manic and sinister. His delivery is menacing and captivating. Scott brings fans into his own personal Hell with stirring songs like “Upper Echelon” and “Blocka La Flame”. The Houston native’s music isn’t for the faint of heart. Ethering Big Sean’s “10 2 10” remix at the end of 2013 definitely earned the rapper some fans as well. Look for La Flame to shake things up even more in the coming months!

Isaiah Rashad

TDE is arguably the best group leading this new revolution of hip-hop super crews. The conglomerate boasts several talented members who each have their own unique style, strengths, and perspectives. Not to be outdone by labelmates Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q is newcomer Isaiah Rashad. The Chattanooga, Tennessee native brings his own brand of smooth Southern cool paired with sharp lyrical acquity to all of his records. “Shot You Down”, a dreamy sample driven jam, garnered national attention. The MC landed a gig at SXSW and at The Fader Fort. Rashad’s appeal lays in his storytelling and genuineness. Isaiah brings you through every failed attempt at monogamy, every vice fueled ride with the homies in the Civic, and every heart wrenching family spat. Isaiah Rashad fed the masses at the tail end of 2013 with “Brad Jordan” but fans and critics alike are still hungry. Here’s to hoping his first mixtape Cilvia will give listeners something to chew on.