Music News

Friday Rap-Up: ManeLine, Hip-Hop Stars React to Obama win, Shakir Stewart Suicide, Mos Def


Since releasing their debut album, Til Then... last year, ManeLine, which consists of Mane Rok, InkLine and DeeJay Tense, have been on a tear locally doing show after show and even helping get monthly local hip-hop nights going at Herb’s Hideout (Everybody Eats) and the Marquis Theater (Boombox). The crew also just dropped its new album …& SewIts Seams, which Mane Rok and company hope will give people a broader sense of who they are as a group.

“There was a general perception that our first album was ‘happy,’ which if you listen to what we say, it really isn't,” says Mane Rok. “People across the board assumed we only made music in this vein, which was lost on us since what was written wasn't happy at all. Things are never what they seem, ourselves included. We started this new album with that lighter feel but it progressively gets darker and rougher. We like to think we stepped out of what people assumed our group was like. Not super weird, but definitely ‘out the box.’ People labeled us ‘happy’ and we were like ‘...& so it seems.’”

And while ManeLine is considered one of the more well-known hip-hop acts locally, Mane Rok isn’t too happy with scene compared to five or ten years ago. Back then there were more hip-hop events where local b-boys, graf artists, DJs and MCs could come together and express themselves. Now Rok believes that the scene is split.

“I am pretty disenfranchised with the scene,” he declares. “The game has changed drastically on a world level, which has majorly affected the local level. We have been trying to really help cultivate the music scene with our ‘Everybody Eats’ and ‘BoomBox’ nights, but really, to no avail. We get decent numbers, enough to pay the artist minimums, but the artist themselves never come out to support. The artist that have performed, at best, bring their people out but never come back for the following show. There is no real scene.”

Perhaps, but it’s certainly not from a lack of trying on this crew’s part. Even on their own, the cats are working overtime to contribute: InkLine is a finishing up a mixtape called Vice Verses which will be mixed by DJ Funktion and feature appearances from Whygee, Sunken State, Deca, Yonnas (of the Pirate Signal) and others. DeeJay Tense is currently working on a mixtape with Jewell Tyme Music artist Karma as well as ManeLine affiliate, Kano. Mane Rok is working with DJ AWHAT!! (of the Pirate Signal) on his mixtape called Rok Stars, which will feature appearances from Ichiban, F.O.E., Spoke-In-Wordz, A.V.I.U.S., Dino (of Infinite Mindz), and others as well as an EP with producer Es Nine (of 3 the Hardway) and A.V.I.U.S. And if that weren't enough, the group is preparing to embark on a mini Colorado tour with indie hip-hop artist Braille, 3 the Hardway, Tetra, Food Chain, Dope Sex, Educated Figures and others.

Check out a couple of select track from …& Sew Its Seams below.

Hip-Hop Stars React to Obama Win

During Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, rappers came out of the woodwork to show their support, and this week, their work and words paid off. Obama was elected president and hip-hop stars are celebrating.

"I felt like my vote was the vote that put him into office," Diddy told ABC News. "It was down to one vote, and that was going to be my vote. And that may not be true, but that's how much power it felt like I had."

Hip-hop mogul, Russell Simmons, who first supported Hillary Clinton, but switched to Obama later in the primaries, feels like the hip-hop generation has been heard.

"The vision of the hip-hop generation and its young people is in full and glorious effect," the hip-hop mogul wrote in a statement. "While many older Americans, who marched and struggled so hard so Senator Obama could run for president of the United States, never dared to believe in his candidacy's real potential, young people, particularly the hip-hop community, had faith and their imagination became our reality."

"Thank all of hip-hop for making this day possible," rapper Killer Mike told SOHH. "Because of you I can say like the Brother Jeezy ‘My President is Black’ and his name is Barack Hussein Obama!!!”

Common held his own election party in Chicago and shared his excitement with the crowd. ?uestlove also relayed an overjoyed and emotional message to his fans of what the win meant to him.

Def Jam exec, Shakir Stewart, commits suicide

Last weekend, Def Jam executive vice president Shakir Stewart was found dead in his bathroom with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Stewart famously took over Jay-Z’s empty seat when he left the label and is responsible for the success of artists like Beyonce and Ciara and over saw recent albums from Nas, LL Cool J and Young Jeezy. No one really knows the reason for his suicide, except that his family and friends said that the exec’s behavior was inconsistent in the last couple of weeks and he was “in deep pain and suffering in silence.” His funeral is scheduled for today at King’s Chapel on the campus of his alma mater Morehouse College.

Warrant issued for Mos Def’s arrest

Looks like Mos Def has a bit of the Kanye West spirit in him. According to MTV News, police in Las Vegas have issued a warrant for the rapper’s arrest. He’s facing charges of felony robbery and malicious destruction of private property for destroying a photographer’s camera. Apparently Mos was at a fashion event in August when he became irritated with a photog snapping photos of people at the event. Mos grabbed the camera from him, threw it on the ground smashing it and then ran off with the busted equipment. Thing is, the photographer was not a paparazzi, but a credentialed member of the press working the event. And to add insult to injury, the photographer didn’t even know who Mos Def was until after the incident.


Q-Tip The Renaissance

It’s been almost ten years since we’ve heard from Q-Tip and with his new album he’s hoping to become relevant again. It might just work. Anyone missing that old Tribe Called Quest sound will be ecstatic when listening to his new project because the entire album sounds like it was inspired by the Tribe catalog. Yes, that means it also sounds like it was produced by The Ummah (Tip, J Dilla, Ali Shaheed).

Royce Da 5’9” The Album M.I.C. Records

Royce entered the rap game alongside Eminem, but the two took drastically different path’s – Em to superstardom and Royce to the caverns of the underground. But Royce continues to grind it out and his talent is undeniable. He grabbed Talib Kweli and Raekwon to spit guest verses on this album and tapped 9th Wonder, Nottz, Green Lantern, Black Milk, Denaun Porter and Carlos Broady for the beats.

Illa J Yancey Boys Delicious Vinyl

Illa J is actually J Dilla’s little brother and the album consists of Illa mining old, unreleased Dilla beats between 1995 and 1998 and spitting his own verses over them. The beats sound as current as anything else out there, which is a testament to Dilla’s talent, but 21-year-old Illa J’s skills on the mike consist of a lot of sing-song and chanting. Whether he’ll be as talented as his older brother, is left to be seen, but this is a decent start.

-- Quibian Salazar-Moreno

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Dave Herrera
Contact: Dave Herrera