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song of the week

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Even though this is far from weekly, I’m going to post not one, not two, but three songs of the week. These songs aren’t exactly new. In fact, they are several years old. They are fantastic tracks though, all by the hip hop group Binary Star. Binary Star was an alternative hip hop group formed in 1998 that was composed of One Be Lo and Senim Silla. Unfortunately this duo no longer exists, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t put out some great songs during their short stint together. These three songs come from the album Masters of the Universe (or Waterworld for those familiar with their Binary Star history). This album is considered a classic by many underground fans and brings socially-concious rap with great beats.

The first track is called Slang Blade and is comprised almost entirely of different slang words and phrases. There’s some good word play in this track.
The next track is called New Hip Hop. Again, there’s some really great word play and metaphors throughout this track.
This last song, Honest Expression, is about honestly expressing yourself and criticizes pop rap and rappers that make music for money and not for the love of music.

All three of these tracks include some great lyrics and wordplay from the two MC’s. I’ve followed their solo careers since the breakup of the group, but nothing can compare to when they were together.

I’ve been looking for some new music lately and asked my friends on twitter for some recommendations. That’s when @jessluther came to the rescue. She gave me some really good recommendations and now I’m going to pass them along to you. I’m posting three songs by two artists. I will give a few words of warning about the artists though: you might not like them at all. In fact, when I first started listening I wasn’t sure what to make of them, but the longer I listened the more I enjoyed the music. Listen and enjoy.

The first two songs are by Brett Dennen. He is described as a folk/pop singer-songwriter from Oakdale, California. He has been compared to Bob Dylan, Tracy Chapman, Jack Johnson, James Taylor, and Wynonna Judd.

Ain’t Gonna Lose You
[audio:11-Aint-Gonna-Lose-You.mp3]

Make You Crazy (Featuring Femi Kuti)
[audio:http://pieceofshep.com/audio/02-Make-You-Crazy.mp3]

The last song is by Sean Hayes. Sean Hayes’ musical sensibilities defy easy categorization. He’s considered a masterful songwriter and fingerpicker, playing everything from guitar to banjo to mandolin.

Hip Kids
[audio:http://pieceofshep.com/audio/04-hip-kids.mp3]

I remember the day I picked up an album from Best Buy called Quality Control. The album art interested me and the CD was only $6.99 as part of some new artist spotlight deal. The group that put out Quality Control was a group called Jurassic 5. They quickly became one of my favorite hip hop acts. I tried finding any other music by them, which at that point was their independent self-titled EP that landed them on Interscope Records, the label that put out Quality Control. Since that day I have faithfully purchased every album they put out and was sad to hear they were breaking up.

My favorite member of the group has always been Chali 2na. I love his deep voice and his spectacular flow. I’ve always wished he would put out a solo album and have been waiting for one to drop ever since J5 broke up. In the meantime, I purchased his less-than-stellar mixtape, listened to all the Ozomotli songs that 2na was part of. Finally, and without my knowing, Chali 2na came out with a solo album. The album is called Fish Outta Water and, while not the best album in the world, it is still a solid album on par with all the Jurassic 5 albums. It is definitely a breath of fresh air in a summer of stale music.

Check out a couple of my favorite tracks from his album and make sure you purchase Fish Outta Water today. (It is $5 at the Amazon MP3 store right now)

Chali 2na ft Anthony Hamilton – Don’t Stop
[audio:http://pieceofshep.com/audio/05-Dont-Stop.mp3]

Chali 2na – Comin’ Thru
[audio:http://pieceofshep.com/audio/07-Comin-Thru.mp3]

I’ve not done a song of the week in a long time but I was listening to music on my iPhone and this song came on. It is one of my all-time favorite songs. The song is Yesterday by hip hop group Atmosphere. If you don’t know who Atmosphere is, they are a two-man group from Minnesota made up of rapper Slug and producer/DJ Ant. I’ve been listening to some Atmosphere music for years, but never really connected with a specific album. That all changed when their latest album, When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold, came out. The album is such a great album. I’d say it’s probably their best. The production on it is spectacular. There are only a couple tracks that I don’t particularly care for.

Anyway, back to the song at hand. Yesterday is a song where Slug raps about thinking he saw someone yesterday. Really listen to the lyrics and you’ll understand why this is such a great song. He is at his best on this song. His flow is outstanding and Ant came through with a great beat. This is probably in my top 10 of all hip hop songs. You can visit Atmosphere’s MySpace page or their record label, Rhymesayers Entertainment.

In the spirit of the week where we inaugurate Barack Obama as the President of the United States of America I thought I’d post a song of the week.  It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, but Obama’s campaign slogan reminded me of it.  The song is by a group called The Treacherous Three.  They were a hip hop group that formed in the late 70’s and had a few hits, including Santa’s Rap, and were featured in movies such as Beat Street and Wildstyle.  One of the members, Kool Moe Dee, went on to have a successful solo career.

With the success of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s song The Message, other rappers decided to try their hand at socially conscious music.  The song I present to you today was released long before Barack Obama declared “Yes We Can” but the sentimants are the same.  Let’s work together.  Let’s treat each other as equals.  Let’s rebuild America.  Yes We Can.  Here is song Yes We Can-Can by the Treacherous Three.

[audio:http://pieceofshep.com/audio/34-Yes-We-Can-Can-(Single_LP Version).mp3]