NaBloPoMo Day 4 — Grown People Music — What I’ve Learned from JAY Z’s 4:44

Though I’ve listened to plenty of rap since buying my first boombox in ’97, I’ve rarely heard anything representing me. Sure, it’s largely Black music, but from a different narrative than my life altogether. Middle-class. Raised in a two-parent home. Private school education, married with kids—nothing you’d want to hear about in the club. And though I found some kinship in Childish Gambino’s “Not Going Back” and  Drake’s “You & The 6”, the struggle of growing up Black while lacking enough Blackness for your peers only reflects part of my identity. There’s so much more to my life!

NaBloPoMo Day 4 — Grown People Music — What I've Learned from JAY Z's 4-44 — Young Casey

But life is full of surprises. You never know who’s going to create the work that speaks to your soul, and a former hustler from New York’s Marcy Projects would be the last person I’d expect to understand me, but with his thirteenth album 4:44, I can tell you for a fact that JAY Z gets it. With topics like legacy, family and the constant pursuit of excellence, it’s an album speaking to everything I’m trying to build with my efforts here at the blog!

Let’s dive a little deeper.

Junia-T’s “Eye See You” — Saving Toronto’s Hip-Hop Scene from ITSELF.

“A brova too smoove
Old soul living in this new school…”
— Junia-T, “Too Smoove”, Eye See You (2014)

Except for a notable few like Kardinal Offishal, Maestro Fresh Wes, and of course, Drake, Toronto’s hip-hop scene has been trouble for a while. Despite its share of local hits getting heavy club rotation in the 90s and early-naughts (who can forget how deep we lived the riddim culture for a while?), it’s been steady underground for all these years.

You can tell a Toronto beat from a mile away — slightly unpolished, simple, sound like it’s a throwback from decades ago… we’re unable to keep up with the times, breeding a crop of rappers who just can’t make the grade.

Fortunately, that’s not true for everyone.

Why We’re So Impressed By Emma Stone

Though I’ve sadly yet to see The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Emma’s Stone’s role as Gwen Stacy isn’t the only attention she’s been getting lately.

“It was all good just a week ago.”

— Jay-Z, A Week Ago (featuring Too $hort), The Life and Times of S. Carter, Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life (1998)

Unless you’ve lived under a rock this past bit, you’re likely one of the millions who saw an unexpectedly amazing display from Emma Stone’s appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon last week (watch all the way to the end if you know what’s good for you!)

Despite both her songs being technically difficult, requiring speedy syllabic control and a ton of inflection and lyrical complexity to memorize, Emma performed damn near flawlessly, surprising us with the tongue-twisting outro to Blues Traveler’s “Hook” and Ludacris’ blazing first verse from DJ Khaled’s “All I Do is Win”!

Question is — why do we love it so much?

COMIN’ RIGHT UP: The We & We Free featuring Junia-T!

In a time before blogging was my extracurricular activity of choice, I used to draw like a fiend. On break at work. Zipping around on buses between home, school and work. I’d fall asleep with pens and markers in hand as I tried to draw just a little more (my Mom has the ink-stained sheets to prove it!)

It was in one of these scribbling sessions where I first crossed paths with Junia-T.

The We & We Free — Junia-T — Street Shot

Hailing from Sauga’s southwest, Junia’s been in the rap game since before most people knew what Internet radio was. Back in 2003, after we met and exchanged info while riding the city’s notoriously unreliable Mississauga Transit #26, you’d find me with Junia and his 3-5 Playa crew in their basement sessions while sketching out the cover work for Up to Par… Da Mixtape.

Over a decade later, and the Sauga City cat’s still at it, as one of the artists performing at the free upcoming The We & We Free concert on Friday, May 9th at the Izakaya Sushi House!

Something something something idle hands…

You KNOW a post is offensive when you won't even put it up on Facebook where your family might see it – LOL.

So this is me taking a break from the work I was doing to just break out and do something totally different – graphing out the women named in DMX's "What These B**ches Want". Yes. I went there.

In fact, if y'all like this, you'll probably think I'm insane for what I'd do next – because most of that song can be graphed pretty easily!

So check it out 😀

Dmxs-bitches

–case p.

Rochester aka Juice – A New Day

via revver.com

My jam of the moment: Rochester – “A New Day”. I only heard this song for the first time at a party last night, and I knew I needed to find out more about it.

Reppin’ Toronto’s Islington/Finch intersection, Rochester’s had a bit of acclaim in our community, and with this, I can see why. This song’s just damn addictive. Was hard for me to believe at first that it came from the T-Dot, but you can hear the influences subtly in the undertones of the rhythm.

Listen, support and give props. I’m probably going to hunt this record down this week.

–case p.