Music News

Friday Rap-Up: Showcase Hip-Hop History, Grandmaster Flash, Nas, Eminem and LL Cool J


With Westword’s Music Showcase going down this weekend, let’s take a quick look at what the last five hip-hop winners have been up to the last five years:

The Pirate Signal (Yonnas and DJ A-What) who won in 2007, has just released its new mixtape The PS Pt. II: Of Gods and Gangsters Vol. 1 (available at Twist & Shout), and this week was just booked to headline the hip-hop stage at this year’s Warped Tour. The duo will then work on its new album during the fall and possibly release it the beginning of 2009.

Black Pegasus, 2006's winner, has been touring non-stop. He released his second album, The Black Mexican, earlier this year and hasn’t looked back. His next venture is a collaboration with Liquid Assassin called The Red M.O.N.K.E.Y.Z. Project.

In 2005 and 2006, Yo, Flaco! won best Hip-Hop Group, and in 2001,2002 and 2003, the outfit won best Hip-Hop Artist. After owning Denver for years, Flaco bounced to L.A. in 2006. With the move came a lineup change, with Neil McIntyre staying behind in Denver and MCs John Swift and Solpowa taking over as frontmen. The band has a gig every Monday night at The Mint in Los Angeles, and released a new album last year titled BOOM SQUAD Invasion Stage 1.

In 2005, Q. Burse took home honors in the hip-hop category, and has been in and out of the scene since then. He released a collection of songs called “Featurez” last year. The album included the song “Burnin’ Bridges” which digs into a bunch of local hip-hop luminaries such as DJ Chonz, Francois Baptiste, P.A.A.S., the Break Mechanics and others.

Hip-hop group Ground Zero Movement took the prize in 2004, but the collective that consisted of Sid Fly, Dow Jones, D.O. The Fabulous Drifter, Aseone and DJ C.Y. disbanded a couple of year later to pursue solo interests. Sid Fly is hosting ION Network’s Out Tha Box TV; D.O. is busy putting out multiple albums, mixtapes and collaboration projects; Dow Jones bounced to Philadelphia and is still making beats; DJ C.Y. has been stepping up his mixtape game; and Aseone has been grinding out shows every now and then at the Snake Pit.

Who will take the crown this year?

Grandmaster Flash Drops Autobiography Legendary DJ and hip-hop pioneer Grandmaster Flash released his autobiography, The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash: My Life, My Beats this week. Flash wrote the book with best-selling author David Ritz, who has written biographies on Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Etta James, B.B. King and Ray Charles.

The book follows Flash’s childhood, his emergence into the hip-hop scene in the '70s and his relevance in hip-hop in the new millennium. Flash is credited for making scratching and cutting a DJ staple after it was invented by Grand Wizzard Theodore. Flash and his group, The Furious Five were the first hip-hop artists ever inducted into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame.

Nas Announces New Album Due July 15

Nas has finally announced the release date of his controversial album. The untitled album will hit stores on July 15. Apparently Universal refused to release the album under its original title, Nigger, so the project remains untitled.

“It’s important to me that this album gets to the fans,” Nas told “It’s been a long time coming. I want my fans to know that creatively and lyrically, they can expect the same content and the same messages. It’s that important. The streets have been waiting for this for a long time. The people will always know what the real title of this album is and what to call it.”

The first single, “Hero,” produced by Polow Da Don, is getting some spins, and a leaked song, “Black President,” which pretty much endorses Barack Obama, is getting passed around the web.

Eminem Prank Calls LL Cool J Earlier this week, LL Cool J was an in-studio guest on Sirius Radio’s Shade 45 show “Toca Tuesday” hosted by Tony Touch. While taking calls from fans, a caller who referred to himself as “Jason from Miami” called in and challenged LL Cool J to a “Name That Lyric” game using some of LL’s old obscure songs. LL was impressed by the caller's flow, and then Em and the radio staff let the rapper in on the joke. Listen to the call below:


Lil Wayne Tha Carter III It seems as if Lil Wayne’s recent critical praise has gone to his head, believing that anything he does will generate acclaim and props. Although Wayne will sell lots of albums based off the hit single “Lollipop,” the actual album will be some of the laziest rhymes you'll ever hear. Whether he’s talking about being an alien or trying to get with a chick, the record seems like it was freestyled with no thought put into the rhymes at all. The only actual rap talent comes from Jay-Z and Busta Rhymes. Makes you wonder why a soul legend like Babyface would waste his time contributing to such a project.

Plies Definition of Real According to Plies, the definition of real is talking about how you’d rob a cat, kill them, steal their woman and keep stacking your money. That’s pretty much what you get for the entire album, which gets old real quick. If there's one positive about the album, it's that Denver’s own Frank E, as previously reported, produced “Please Excuse My Hands,” featuring Jamie Foxx and The Dream. Beyond that, though, and let's just say that Plies is a poor excuse of a rapper.

N.E.R.D. Seeing Sounds For N.E.R.D.’s third album, Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo and their boy Shae Haley, bring the soulful funk they're known for, but Sounds lacks some of the “it” factor of their two previous albums. Although the production is excellent throughout the project, it sounds like they took a page out of Gnarls Barkley playbook for a couple of the songs that have that retro sound. Overall, it’s still not a bad album but expectations were a bit higher.