GRiZ Prevails With ‘Good Will Continue’, A Remix Album

The ascension of GRiZ from blog fodder to a main stage festival stage closer has been one of the most enjoyable to watch.  Besides handling the success with grace and love for all, GRiZ once again showed a deepening focus on songwriting and blues/funk/soul music as the once EDM/bass music producer has blossomed into electronic music’s funkiest flower with the late 2016 release of his album ‘Good Will Prevail‘.

Fast forward to 2017 and an incredible cast of characters have come together to breathe new life into each song from the album. Highlights include Barclay Crenshaw’s remix of Gotta Push On, which has been cooked up into a banger of a hip-hop beat with thundering distorted 808s. Jenaux also caught my attention by building I Don’t Mind into one of the most main stage worthy remix with wailing solos, crunchy bass and synth stabs, the drums to set any crowd into motion.

There’s plenty for the bass loving like Rowland Evans‘ wompy remix of Feelin Fine, the funky Opiuo big horned edit of PS GFY, bass house from Dusty Bits, EPHWURD, AC Slater and oh so much more.  Be sure to stream/buy Good Will Prevail below!


GRiZ Spearheads New Age Funk Revolution

This summer you won’t hear suburban hood-rats bumping Wild Cherry, James Brown, or Rick James in daddy’s Jeep, but don’t fret, funk didn’t die with bell-bottoms and black lights. It’s alive and well.

The prevalence and popularity of EDM (electronic dance music) has initiated a resurgence of funk. New technologies and innovative artists have exponentially diversified electronic music. The coevolution is unprecedented, and it’s rapidly changing our perception and definition of “music.”

Now, EDM has more sub-genres than jelly bellies have flavors, and, like those godforsaken things, most new genres are equally indistinguishable in their mediocrity. It’s gotten to the point that categorizing music solely as EDM is inconsequential. Currently, there’s house, trance, glitch, drum and bass, dubstep, brostep, breakstep, and 100 other steps that no one gives two shits about. If you can name more than ten off-hand, congrats! It’s time to check into rehab.

But I’m not here to tell you about Swedish bubblegum techno, I’m here to tell you about a burgeoning new genre referred to by the hipster masses as “New Age Funk,” or “Future Funk,” and even though you’ve “probably never heard of it,” it makes for some groovy dance music.

Funky white boy Grant Kwiecinski, better known by his stage name GRiZ, spearheads the euphonious revolution. The Michigan native electronically emancipated funk music in 2012 when he released Mad Liberation. The sax-studded album is hip-hop oriented, yet manages to blend funky breaks with ambitious drops, eccentric beats, and obscure vocals. With the contemporary drift towards trap culture, GRiZ’s sound is refreshing to say the least. The entire album is polished, however, the Notorious “Better Than I’ve Ever Been” lives up to its name in the fullest.

On March 31st GRiZ smashed the funk once again with Say it Loud, a nominal homage to James Brown’s 1969 release Say It Loud — I’m Black and I’m Proud. The innovative album is more adventurous than its predecessor and features: The Floozies, Manic Focus, Mike Avery, Talib Kweli, Jessie Arlen, Sunsquabi, Orlando Napier, and iDA HAWK.

Whether it’s The Floozies’ funky guitar licks and high energy percussion in “Need This,” or Talib Kweli’s smooth flow in “For The Love,” each feature adds a lil’ somethin’ extra to the GRiZ sound, yet the electronic mastermind never strays too far from his funky niche. Grant kicks off the album with “The Anthem” — a soulful, feel-good track with James Brown vocals and children’s chorus reminiscent of the Jackson 5. “The Anthem” will grab you by the hips and drag you onto the floor; the rest is guaranteed to keep you there till dawn.

The Festival Fistful: Decadence Arizona

If you plan on ringing in the New Year in the desert, there’s no better way to do it than dance your way in at Decadence Arizona. And when there’s over 20 of electronic music’s hottest artists blowing Rawhide Events Center out for 2 straight nights, the choices might get overwhelming. After going Bottoms Up on the Decadence AZ lineup, get a healthy handful of jams in our Festival Fistful for Goldrush Music Festival. Check out the five artists we’ve picked below that you absolutely can’t miss!

Decadence Colorado JamFeed Festival Fistful

The Festival Fistful: Decadence Colorado

We’re grabbing a healthy handful of jams in our Festival Fistful! We’re going to be sharing our top 5 picks for this NYE at Decadence Colorado!


The Floozies

For those searching for the funk, look no further than The Floozies, the duo guaranteed to get your groove shoes movin.  After the successful release of their Funk Jesus project, these All Good Records signees have been touring non-stop and are making a stop through Colorado for Decadence this NYE.  With a combination of synths, guitars, drums and more being performed live, the Floozies are a must-see act for those who live for live.


It’s rare to see an artist so thoroughly immersed in their craft that they get te pursest distillation of their vision.  For Bassnectar, he finds the space between the beautiful, the trippy, the bassy and a commitment to delivering the most incredible live experience for his fans.  With visuals that are sure to make you question the very reality you’re living in combined with and his tireless work behind the decks for the entirety of his set, there’s a reason he’s cultivated his own Deadhead style following of people that follow him on tour.  Headbang your way into the NYE with Bassnectar at Decadence Colorado.


If you ever needed an injection of soul into your dance music, Brooklyn’s very own Gramatik are sure to deliver the vibes.  They hit on the things that a fan of Reasonable Doubt era Jay Z would love mixed with the bass slapping, can’t stop dancing style funk music released by the likes of GRiZ.  Oh and bass… a big heaping helping of bass.  Catch these guys rocking out on Saturday and have yourselves a funkin’ great New Years Eve!

Space Jesus

When you want to talk about the pure space bass saucey vibes, look no further than Space Jesus.  An icon within the bass music scene, his heady combination of dub, bass, and the secret sauce will leave you jammin and no other choice but rock out amidst the soundtrack of an alien takeover.  Be sure to catch him rocking out on Saturday helping bring your New Years Eve interstellar!


A Troyboi set is basically time spent dancing uncontrolablly with that OOOOOHEWWW stinkface on as Troyboi drops original after original, each going harder than the last and could simultanously serve as a backing track for any of your favorite rappers.  You’ll catch this man murdered out with a hat pulled low, too busy rockin the crowd to worry about trying to be flashy.  This multi-talented musician recently signed to Timbaland’s right-hand man and US Super Producer, Jim Beanz and we couldn’t encourage you to go check this man any stronger.

How To Win Free Sound On Sound Festival Tickets

JamFeed has teamed up with Sound On Sound Festival to give away a pair of tickets to this year’s festival so you can rock on with The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Grizzly Bear, Iggy Pop, The Shins, Blood Orange, Pusha T and more!

BUY Sound On Sound Tickets

Entering is super simple!

  1. Follow Sound on Sound on the JamFeed App to win!
  2. Like and tag your +1 on our Facebook post to DOUBLE your chances!

* Winners will be announced at 12pm CST on 10/4. Good luck!


Bottoms Up: Imagine Music Festival

Imagine Music Festival always boasts a diverse lineup, and this year is no different. The 2017 lineup features multiple genres of music by artists from around the globe. While some of these artists are the biggest names in music (and on the lineup), others are on the brink of greatness (and just a bit further down). Here are five up-and-coming artists that you cannot miss, or maybe you did until we looked at the lineup from the bottom, up!


Nugz Bunny

Atlanta-based Nugz Bunny acquired a following through his original productions and remixes. His popularity increased after placing runner up in the Pretty Lights remix contest a few years ago. Since then, Pretty Lights has dropped Nugz Bunny’s remix in Atlanta and cities around the world. Nugz Bunny has been voted Atlanta’’s best DJ for over two years, so this is a show you for sure should not miss!


With elements of live guitar and drums, Lyftd produces electro-funk that is sure to get your grooving. The Denver-based duo has played many notable festivals, including Electric Forest in Michigan and Summer Camp Music Festival in Illinois.

Stranger Candy

As one of Atlanta’s forerunners in dance music, Stranger Candy has stayed true to an Electro and Progressive House. Despite coming onto the scene when heavier bass genres were popular, Stranger Candy’s dedication to perfecting his sound has allowed him to play some Atlanta’s hottest clubs, which includes a residency at The Iris.

Nora En Pure

Nora En Pure has proven to be a force in the electronic music scene after her club-ready hits like, “Come with Me,” “Saltwater” and “U Got My Body.” By flawlessly combining aspects of indie dance music with deep house, Nora En Pure has earned spots at some of the biggest festivals, including Coachella, Elements Festival and Tomorrowland, where she played the main stage for three hours.

Boogie T

With Boogie T’s infectious dubstep sound, it is impossible to stay still. Recently, Boogie T has a feature on GRiZ’sGood Will Continue,” which is a collection of remixes of tracks on his 2016 album, “Good Will Prevail.” Imagine Music Festival is just a stop on a current tour, which includes stops and festivals all over the United States, so catch him while you can.


The Festival Fistful: Imagine Music Festival

With Imagine Music Festival closing in this weekend, we thought it proper to prep you for the best jamming experience with our 5 artists you have to look out for this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.  After getting a chance to chat with the festival founders about what it is that makes this independently run festival so unique, we’re taking a chance to highlight a handful of our favorite artists from the lineup.  Be sure to download the official Imagine Music Festival 2017 App, available for iOS and Android!  Download and get easy access to the daily schedule, site map, festival updates and more!  They are also helping raise money for Hurricane Irma relief through the American Red Cross if you would like to donate!

Day 1 Recap: Euphoria Fest 2017

It was a beautiful Thursday afternoon and evening out at Carson Creek Ranch for the Euphoria Fest Pre Party. This event was reserved for campers only, and they were rewarded with some amazing music for coming early and committing themselves to being in a state of Euphoria all weekend. Make sure to check out Euphoria’s Official Day 1 Recap Video and more exclusive content from yesterday’s top shows.

The day started off with local hip-hop family trio The Bishops, and the young siblings showed their artistic talents and ability to connect with the crowd both during and after the show.

Check out their live performance of their new hit single “Blood Ring” from yesterday’s Euphoria Set.

Following The Bishops came Resonant Frequency, and just as the sun came down, the funk came up. This trio consisting of versatile musicians Landon Reichle (Lando), Vince Siedl (Diamond Cuts) , and Ben Slade (Local Color) put on one of their biggest performances yet. They brought multiple MC’s including Luv Bishop of The Bishops as well as Zack Morgan on the saxophone to give fans a special euphoria performance.

Every time Resonant Frequency plays, the crowd gets bigger, the funk gets louder, and more and more people are grooving. Make sure to catch these guys again this summer at Float Fest!

Manic Focus came on after Autobody and closed the night in style with his unique mix of funk, dub, dance, and hip-hop. There’s a reason J-Mac was the first to sign with GRiZ and All Good Records…he knows how to put on a show, and he knows to leave all his fans wanting more, which is exactly what he did when headlining the Euphoria Pre-Party last night.

Friday is shaping up to be another amazing day at Euphoria. Make sure to check out our top picks for Friday, and make sure to follow Euphoria on JamFeed for all festival content and updates!

Euphoria Fest 2017: Thursday Top Picks

Today is the start of the 6th annual Euphoria Music Festival at Carson Creek Ranch in Austin, TX. It is shaping up to be a beautiful opening day, with potentially the best Thursday Night pre-party lineup so far from Euphoria. We have some amazing local Austin talent leading off the weekend, followed by one of the top acts from All Good Records.

Local Austin hip-hop trio The Bishops will be kicking off the festival this year. The Bishops are a rare super group in the music industry. They are made up of three people who are real-life family members, and each of them have their own career outside of this new collaboration. They teamed up to release their first synth-ed up single ‘Blood Ring,’ which caught fire on some Spotify playlists and captured almost 500,000 streams for the young family trio.

They clearly will not be stopping here. As Cara Bishop says herself in their hit single, “Not one, not two, but three,” The Bishops are ready to show Austin fans what they are all about with a full hour set tonight. This will do be the biggest festival yet for the band. The Bishops kick off Euphoria Fest tonight at 6:30pm CST – don’t miss it!

Following The Bishops at 7:45pm is another amazing local Austin trio Resonant Frequency. They have started off 2017 with a huge bang, playing late night STS9 afterparty shows, opening for RJD2, and also playing 2 sets at Head for the Hills Festival 2 weeks ago.

They have truly started to developer their own sound and vibe, which is a mix of future funk, soul, and a little southern texas hip hop swag. They are guaranteed to keep you on you dancing throughout the entire set, and all three musicians are incredibly talented and know how to put on a great live set.

This is their first Euphoria Fest set, so you can bet on them spicing it up with some surprise guests, and bringing their funkiest beats to kick off Euphoria Fest the right way. Make sure you are there to see what it’s like to get everyone to vibe on the same Resonant Frequency.

Last, the headline for tonight’s lineup, Manic Focus. Manic Focus is the electronic music project of John “JmaC” McCarten, a Chicago-based producer originally hailing from the Twin Cities. He’s become well known for his multi-dimensional sound, including elements of soul, dubstep, hip-hop, blues, and funk. It’s an amazing complitation of heavy and smooth sounds that make for an incredible live performance.

JmaC teamed up with GRiZ and All Good Records in 2014 for his fourth album ‘Cerebral Eclipse’ and he hasn’t looked back since. He is at the forefront of this new age funk revolution and he is the perfect fit to bring home the night and end night one of Euphoria with a bang.

As you can see, this is one of the best Thursday Euphoria has booked yet. Their mix of strong local talent to kick things off, and following it with Manic Focus as the headliner is guaranteed to put music fans in a state of Euphoria tonight.

Make sure you follow Euphoria Music Festival on JamFeed to stay connected to all the amazing content created during this festival. We will also be making some exciting announcements over the next week, so stay tuned!

– JamFeed Team

Blunt Force Talks New Music, New Tour, and Their 4th Euphoria Festival (Interview)

JamFeed recently sat down with Brian Gustafson and Deniz Baykal of Blunt Force, one of Austin’s hottest up and coming electronic duos. The two 24 year olds jumped on the music scene quickly after meeting at St. Edwards University in Austin and have already opened for well-known acts such as Savoy, The Floozies, Opiuo & Sunsquabi.

After spending an hour with them, these guys not only impressed me with their music, but also their personalities and overall passion for what they do. They are approaching one of the most exciting times in their career, including their fourth year performing at Euphoria Music Festival, a multi-state tour with Bass Physics, and some new singles being announced amid all the traveling.

Even with all the excitement, these guys remain humble and very determined to network their way to the top of the electronic music scene by giving their music away for free and getting people to support them through tours and merch like many of their idols. The next 30-60 days could be some of the best months yet for Blunt Force, and you can guarantee they are going to have one hell of a time on this ride.

Make sure you follow Blunt Force on JamFeed to know first when they drop these new singles in the upcoming weeks, and make sure to catch them in Austin this weekend at Euphoria Fest!


Where did you guys meet? And how did your musical career begin together as Blunt Force?

Deniz: We actually met in Austin. We both went to St. Edward’s University and had some mutual friends that introduced us. My girlfriend at the time was friends with his roommate, and they were like “Hey, y’all both make music, y’all should meet.” And we ended up getting this place to jam because we really had nowhere outside the dorms to chill and make music.

Brian: Yeah, I was making house music at the time, complete opposite end of the spectrum, and Deniz was making some shitty dubstep.

Where does your funk influence come from?

Brian: So I first started Blunt Force by myself. It was just me, and then I asked Deniz to come on board later. Like I said, I was making house music at the time because I had just gotten into electronic music. Then I went to my first camping festival, Electric Forest, and was lucky enough to catch Big Grizmatik (live trio of GRiZ, Big Gigantic, and Gramatik). I was definitely a fan, but not a die-hard fan at the time, and I was absolutely blown away. I had a full house music EP ready to go at the time, and I had a complete change of heart because of my experience at Electric Forest. This led me into all of that old-school funk, like Parliament Funkadalic, and then some newer funk bands like Lettuce, and The Motet, and I just loved the groove. Then when Deniz came on board full-time, you could hear our sound start to from to more of a mix of funk, glitch hop, and something a bit darker and heavier.

How did you guys come up with the name ‘Blunt Force’?

Brian: I was in a pretty crappy reggae band in high school. We played maybe two or three shows. I wouldn’t even call it a band really… more like a collection of friends just being idiots and thinking we were Slightly Stoopid.

How old were you when you got into producing music?

Deniz: I was playing drums in high school, for this punk rock band. We were just like some white boys getting drunk and thinking we were the shit. [Laughs]

Brian: Yeah, you guys were probably way better than we were back then. [Laughs]

Deniz: We played some different shows in Austin and San Antonio and then we kind of all just went our separate ways. I went to Nocturnal Fest my senior year without telling my parents. I just like left. It was incredible! I miss it. That festival was amazing. The first year was the best, with the upside-down stage. That was when all the big dudes we know now, like The Untouchables, Bassnectar, and Zeds Dead, were on the come up. That’s when it all just came together for me. Pretty Lights and Zeds Dead were when I realized that I like the heavy stuff, for sure, but also that funk/soul sound with it.

Do you guys plan to continue living in Austin?

Brian: For the unforeseeable future, yeah. We’ve been here about 5 years and both have jobs here now.

Deniz: I’d really like to move, though. I mean I love this city, but I also want to just try something new.

Brian: Yeah, definitely. But we have no plans to go anywhere yet.

Deniz: Yeah, nothing in particular. I just want to see something new.

I’ve seen you guys open for Sunsquabi at Stubb’s Indoor, and also the Floozies. How did you get connected with All Good Records crew?

Brian: Our booking agent, Kevin Woods, was good friends with Kevin and Chris from Sunsquabi, and I remember him introducing us when the guys came down to play a show here in Austin. A few months later, I had a few dates lined up in Colorado and Kevin had the idea to ask Chris [from Sunsquabi] to play drums with me for a few of the dates. That kind of got our foot in the door with the Squab boys. Then we all became good friends, and I think they came back down and we played another show with them at Holy Mountain. Eventually, they reached out to us about playing support for them on a few dates on their Odyssey Tour and we were like “alright, let’s do it!”.

Are you guys looking to sign to a label like All Good Records or something similar? Or are you trying to stay independent?

Deniz: There are a couple out there that we would definitely get on board with.

Brian: That’s true, but I think we are both have the same kind of overall view that we want to give our music away for free and make our money off touring, merch, all that kind of stuff.

Deniz: Absolutely. You make that music for your ears obviously, but it’s also meant for others to listen to. You want it to be in people’s ears and not have to be like “shit, I don’t have another dollar or two to buy this music”.

Brian: Exactly. If you want this song on your iPod, then I want you to be able to have it on there no matter what. That’s the way we have seen GRiZ and Gramatik do it, and it works.

Deniz: That’s a big difference in the way we started. For example, last year we didn’t have any new music besides Dreamer. We went out on tour and just played before making anything, and people loved it. We just kind of did it backwards. Most people put out an album and then tour, and we were just like “fuck it, lets just go and do it”.

Brian: We already had some music, but it was just from a while ago, ya know?
Deniz: Yeah, but now it’s time to put out some new music. We have two new singles coming out in the next month that we’re really excited about.

Who all is a regular part of the Blunt Force team outside of you two?

Brian: There’s three of us. Our manager Kevin Woods, and us. We’ve been doing all the managerial stuff on our own, but we are starting to get to the point where we can’t do it as well. We may be making some changes sometime soon.

Deniz: We are kind of diminishing the amount of time we could be working on music when we have to handle all this stuff, on top of working full-time jobs. Hopefully that will change soon. We can feel it coming.
You guys are about to start a tour with Bass Physics, right?

Brian: We actually met him at Euphoria on the Thursday night pre-party. We’ve always been a fan of his music, with that hip-hop sound. He played right after us, and we ended up just talking back stage afterwards. His manager came up to us after our set and said he really liked our show and that maybe we could find a way to tour together. It’s funny that was only just an idea over a year ago and we just played our first few dates of the tour.

Deniz: Yeah, we just kicked it off this past weekend with 2 dates in Arkansas, and 1 in Dallas. Then we come back for Euphoria, and then head back out on tour starting out in Colorado. We’ll play around 16 shows till the 29th of April. We get to play some places we’ve never played before, so that is definitely exciting.

Brian: We’ve only done one other tour and it was mostly the Southeast, so we are excited to hit the Midwest with cities like Chicago, St Louis, Kansas City, and some other awesome cities.
And you guys are playing Euphoria again this year. How many times have you played Euphoria Fest?

Brian: This will be number four. Euphoria has become like a second-home to us and we couldn’t be any more thankful for the opportunities they’ve given us over the past few years. Each year always finds a way to top the year before. You could say we’re pretty excited for our set there this weekend.

Are you guys going to be releasing your new music as singles, an EP, or what?

Deniz: They will be singles. It’s looking like two new singles in the next month. We’re really excited to share what we’ve been working on with everyone.

What other artists / type of music do you listen to for inspiration or when you aren’t working on your own music?

Deniz: I think Zed’s Dead is a big one for me. Obviously Pretty Lights and Gramatik have been a huge inspiration, as well. I grew up on a lot of indie and punk rock… like Blink 182. I actually just saw them last week in Austin, and Travis Barker is my true inspiration- my number one right there. He is a true robot. [Laughs]

Brian: I actually listen to a lot of Reggae music. Obviously, I love a lot of other types of music, but I honestly listen to reggae music more than electronic music when I’m just hanging out. I love that white boy reggae music like Sublime and Slightly Stoopid.

What is the coolest / wildest crowd you’ve ever played in front of?

Deniz: I think Opiuo was pretty sick. It was a two years ago at Empire Control Room, the show was completely sold out. I think capacity there is something like 1100. It was incredible. Hands down one of the best shows we’ve ever played to date.

Brian: I would say mine would be the Euphoria Denali show in Alaska. It was during the summer solstice and our set was at like 11pm and it was still fully light outside. It was the coolest experience just because it was so beautiful out there. They had the old bus from Into The Wild right next to the stage. It was amazing!

What software do you produce your music on? Have you always used it?

Brian: Ableton Live.

Deniz: Yeah, Ableton. I’m a huge fan of Native Instruments’ Massive VST as well. It just is so powerful and can create some of the fatter, beefier sound that I like, and it’s super intuitive. It’s my go-to.

So you guys both produce?

Brian: Yeah, but when we first started off it was more of Deniz just playing drums for me, and I was making more of the production decisions since I had started Blunt Force before he came in. But you can definitely see a difference in our sound and our live sets when Deniz came on-board as a contributing member of the group. Once Deniz came in, we kept the funk and hip hop sounds in there, but it definitely got a little heavier.

What advice would you give to an aspiring musician on the grind to make it big?

Deniz: To keep going to shows, keep listening to music, and stay inspired. Going out to shows is like therapy, and that’s where all the creative ideas flow. There’s always the cliché of saying “just keep at it, keep going, work hard”, but I really think that going to shows and seeing live music is what really gives you the inspiration to say “I can do that, and I’ve gotta keep learning and working on this”. In my opinion, live music makes you want to go home right away and just start making more music.

Brian: I would say once you start trying to make your own music, that seeing something through and finishing a project is huge. Because, just like anyone else who creates music, I have a ton of unfinished projects on my computer. I’ve realized that managing my work-flow and understanding that I need to do X,Y,and Z to finish this project. Once you get that feeling of completion, you’re like, “oh damn, I can do this”! And I feel like that’s the most important thing to keep your motivation and creativity flowing as an artist.

Deniz: Honestly, when it comes to production, it’s a lot of trial and error. When you are teaching yourself and you get stuck on something, don’t scrap it- save it. Just put it somewhere for later and start something new. There was a big writer’s block point in my life where I would start something and just throw it away because I didn’t like it. You have to just keep creating, and you can come back to projects and finish them.

Brian: Some days are tough, and then other days the music just comes out and you pump out a whole song in a single day. Those are the best. Those songs are the ones that are the most fluid in terms of composition, and you don’t feel like you’re forcing anything.

Deniz: Absolutely. And learn from artists who share the production techniques online. Artists like illGates and Slynk. Watch their videos, tutorials, see what they’re doing with their business, their marketing, etc.

Brian: When you’re coming up in the music scene, you think it’s you against everyone else and that there’s this big competition. But that’s not how it actually works. Everybody is in this together, and if you network with other musicians and artists I think that is your best way to succeed.

Resonant Frequency Proves They Are Ready to Build Their Own ‘Tribe’

This weekend kicked off the music scene for 2017 in the live music capital of the world. The big hype around Austin, TX was STS9 playing 2 sets for both Friday and Saturday for the first time ever at the ACL Live Moody Theater. As someone who has seen ‘Tribe’ play many times, and at various places across the country, this show was one to be remembered.

Every time I go to Moody Theater in Austin, I am blown away by the acoustics and the overall venue itself. The sound is just noticeably better than anywhere else in Austin, and this was especially true for STS9, who previously played at Austin Music Hall on their stops through the city. Their sound might’ve been the best I have ever heard them live. Their lights didn’t seem to skip a beat much even after STS9 Lighting Director Saxton Waller left the band recently.

The first night clearly belonged to STS9’s drummer, Zack Velmer. They had him up front right next to bass player Alana Rocklin and he kept the crowd going the whole time, taking everyone from long wild build ups to funky drops all night long. This guy’s physical endurance throughout the night continued to blow me away, and he only seemed to get better throughout the whole show. He had the entire crowd at his fingertips and he never let them go until the show was over.

On top of some great STS9 shows at the legendary Moody Theater, some local Austin promoters did an amazing job of putting together STS9 Late Nights at Empire Control Room. (These were not in affiliation with the STS9 event) but it was still a brilliant job marketing and showcasing upcoming talent in Austin that really fits the ‘Tribe’ audience. He^rd Entertainment & Euphoria used this weekend perfectly to showcase some upcoming talent that will be playing at this year’s Euphoria’s Fest in April at Carson Creek Ranch.

There were a variety of impressive late night shows, but the one that stood out to me this weekend was Austin’s own Resonant Frequency. (I must admit, I may be a little bias since I personally know some members of this band) but I’ve probably seen over 10 shows of their shows over the last 2 years and have really watched them evolve their sound and grow as a band.

They seemed like they had been waiting for a moment like this – a solid opportunity to get in front of some like-minded fans, and show them their unique mix of funk, electronic mixes, live instrumentation, and southern rap samples. They hit the ground running and with each song the crowd continued to grow bigger and bigger, until the entire indoor at Empire was packed and boogieing down a couple songs into their set.

But most importantly, they did what tribe fans love most…they never let you go for the entire show. They took you on their own musical journey, and they went from one funky jam to the next showing these Austin fans that they are ready to build their own ‘tribe’ of fans. There were a few songs I saw people going crazier at Resonant Frequency than I saw anyone at STS9 do just an hour earlier. That’s a really good sign. There is something infectious about their funk, and they look like they are ready to show everyone what this “Funky-Resonant Frequency” is all about.

If any of you are fans of GRiZ and his crew of artists at All Good Records, you will immediately understand what makes Resonant Frequency so fun to see live. They have their own unique mix to funk though, which to me is that dirty south “We From Texas” swag to it.

These guys are some serious musicians too…which is what makes their live show significantly better than a lot of electronic shows I see today that are more focused around light shows and DJ’s. These guys can JAM, and their live show seems to get better every time I see it. They have been mastering this new age funk sound for 2 years now, and came out firing Friday night with some of their newly releases singles like “Groove At Last” and played some crowd favorites such as “Fresh Air” & “Like You Like It.”

2017 is starting off great for Resonant Frequency. Along with the STS9 Late Night Show, they are already booked to play at Austin’s premier electronic festival Euphoria Fest in April, and are opening for some great acts in the next 2 weeks in Austin.

They play again next Thursday 2/2 at Empire Control Room, opening up for Opiuo. And they open up again for RJD2 (also at Empire) on Friday 2/17. Make sure you find a way to see them play in the next two weeks…everyone needs a little funk in their life anyway.

Make sure you also follow Resonant Frequency on JamFeed to be the first to know when they drop more funky new singles over the new couple weeks!

The JamFeed Team

JamFeed Catches Up With The Motet at Euphoria Festival About Delving Deeper Into the Funk, Changes in the Music Industry & More

The Motet L-R: Joey Porter (keys), Ryan Jalbert (guitar), Gabe Mervine (trumpet), Dave Watts (drums), Drew Sayers (saxophone), Garrett Sayers (bass), Lyle Divinsky (vocals)

The Motet are no strangers to change.

The next-level funk outfit has gone through countless lineup changes and sonic evolutions since drummer and bandleader Dave Watts founded the group in 1998. Most recently, they parted ways with longtime lead vocalist Jans Ingber this past December, and have added two new members: Lyle Divinsky on lead vocals and Drew Sayers on tenor sax.

A soulful, curly-haired fan favorite, a friend of mine once described Ingber as “the funkiest God damn white boy you ever seen.” While that sentiment may not be far from the truth, anybody who knows The Funk knows that The Funk cannot be contained, and it surely cannot be stopped. Ingber left The Motet on good terms, a move that was motivated not by any sort of ill feelings, but by his desire to be more present in the lives of his family (you can read his farewell note here). And while Ingber will always be “Motet 4 Life,” I can personally attest to the chemistry that the band has already found with Divinsky on lead vocals.

I was lucky enough to interview The Motet a few short hours before their set at Austin’s fifth annual Euphoria Festival. They were thoughtful and sharp during the interview, and of course they tore it down during the show. Divinsky was relaxed and charismatic on-stage, keeping the audience in good spirits with light-hearted banter and an evident connection with the rest of the guys. The performance made it clear why he is the latest member of the Motet fam.

As for Sayers? Well, he actually is part of the Motet fam — his brother Garrett has been The Motet’s bassist since 2002. The younger Sayers, Drew has been earning his stripes as a part of John Brown’s Body since 2009, even producing the band’s 2015 release Kings and Queens in Dub. He also wrote and played horn arrangements on Beyonce’s last two albums. His production and writing expertise adds invaluable experience to The Motet.

I must confess, it was a bit odd watching the funk belt out of Lyle’s grizzly brown beard — instead of out of Jans’ clean-shaven face — but one thing soon became clear: this is the same Motet that we all know and love. Onward and upward!

There has been a great rise in the number and popularity of music festivals in the past decade or so. Have you seen a noticeable difference in the amount of shows that you play now as opposed to at the beginning of your careers?

Dave Watts: We do way more festivals now.

Gabe Mervine: In the late 90’s there wasn’t a whole lot going on as far as festivals go, only some of the bigger ones were around. But I think through social media and grassroots efforts, [festivals] have been able to grow a lot more. These mid-size festivals have been able to pop up and promote themselves, and everything has gotten easier.

Do you think that it’s easier to book gigs now in general?

Mervine: No, I don’t think it’s easier to book gigs. I think it’s easier to tour, and to get fan outreach without having a lot of money behind you because you can reach people through social media. You don’t have to put stamps on a bunch of postcards and send ’em out to people to give out at your shows. You can actually get a lot of free advertising and publicity now… plus the music is able to get out quicker, too.

Have you seen a noticeable increase in your exposure as social media has gained popularity?

Mervine: Oh yeah, guaranteed. We’ll show up to a place we’ve never been before and it’s a packed house. You don’t need to get your music on the radio anymore for people to hear it. They can access it through Facebook, SoundCloud, whatever else they use…

You just mentioned SoundCloud, which is probably the most popular music streaming service next to Spotify. Some artists have negative feelings about streaming when it comes to things like low artist payouts or fans not buying their music anymore. However, there are also huge benefits to streaming. What is The Motet’s stance on streaming, and the future of the industry as far as streaming is concerned?

Watts: I feel like we’re at an intermediary time where the music industry hasn’t kept up with the way technology has evolved. What’s happening right now won’t last because there’s no room for any longevity. That being said, you’re right, you spend a lot of your career trying to be heard, and then once you get heard a lot of artists pull their shit [off streaming services] because they don’t want to give [music] away for free anymore. But that’s just where we’re at right now. It’s how people hear music.

Drew Sayers: I think we’re waiting for the next bandwidth revolution. Right now the technology that we’re using doesn’t allow for streaming to be high quality. If you have a premium Spotify account you can get up to 320 kbps (kilobits per second) mp3 files, but that’s as high as it goes. That’s why I still buy CD’s, because it’s still the best medium to hear what the artist intended you to hear in their music. With that said, the great thing about streaming is that a lot of people hear your music, and so it turns into a promotional tool rather than a selling tool. But I still buy vinyl and CD’s because that’s what the artist wants you to experience.

Very interesting. But of course, with you being an artist, you hear music with a more fine-tuned ear than the average fan would.

Sayers: Well, my ears are kinda fucked up from playing a lot of shows over the years, but I just want to get what the artist intended. It’s not so much what you can hear, it’s what you can feel. That’s the importance of the quality. They’ve found that super compressed files don’t have as much of an emotional impact on the listener. So there will be a bandwidth revolution in the next five to ten years.

Let’s switch focus to the changing of lead singers. A lot of fans were upset with the departure of Jans Ingber, but it doesn’t seem like there were any hard feelings between him and the rest of the band (ed. note: everybody nodded in approval to this sentiment). How did The Motet find Lyle Divinsky?

Watts: Initially when we were looking for a singer, we figured it would take us months to find the right guy.

It was a very quick turnaround.

Watts: It’s crazy how fast it happened. We have friends in a group called Turkuaz, who are buds with Lyle from the Brooklyn days. Joey called them up and asked them who to get, and instantly without a second thought they were like, “Lyle Divinsky is your man.” Because they know us, they know Lyle, and they knew it would gel instantly – which it has.

Ryan Jalbert: The Lettuce guys recommended him too. They were like, “you need to check this dude out.”

Lyle Divinsky: “Who’s this dude from Portland, Maine, that the Lettuce and Turkuaz guys are talking about?! I don’t know, he’s pretty hairy, man!” (laughs)

Jalbert: He was the first guy we checked out, and we were just like, “okay, we’re done.”

One for one.

Jalbert: Yup. Auditions are over. (laughs)

Lyle, how has this transition been from your perspective?

Divinsky: It’s been absolutely amazing. I mean, I just kinda laugh at the fact that it was so easy in a lot of senses. They’re right in the same vein that I’ve been trying to craft myself in, so to be able to come in with such a good group of dudes who are so open and welcoming, it’s just the immediate family vibe. It felt like brotherhood right away.

What were you doing pre-Motet?

Divinsky: I was focusing on my solo project around the northeast. I had just put the record out and was getting ready to tour for that when they called, and it was like, “yeah, that sounds fun, I’ll do that.”

The self-titled album from 2014 was recorded on analog equipment to better capture the live sound of the record. After seeing such terrific results are you going to be continuing in that direction for your next record?

Jalbert: Yeah, we went down to New Orleans for this record and recorded at Parlor Studios, and they definitely have a lot of analog gear. We didn’t go to tape for the tracking, but that’s always an option. We always want to try to capture as much of a warm, non-digital sound as we can because we love that funk music of the 70’s, and the quality of the instruments. We’re always thinking about that.

‘The Motet’ album was also co-written by the entire band, from what I understand. Were there any difficulties that arose from such a highly collaborative process?

Watts: Of course there were difficulties. It’s everyone’s creative input coming together, and we all have things that we want to hold our ground on, and kinda say, “I want this in here.” But there are also times when you have to acquiesce and meet halfway. It’s interesting that way because we all have different input musically; we all listened to different stuff growing up. It makes for a unique finished product, even though it might take a little bit longer. We’re still honing that process, but we’re getting better at it.

The Motet is a very versatile band. You can really cover the entire spectrum of genres and influences. What direction are you headed in 2016? Is there any particular genre that you haven’t delved into that you would like to delve into?

Watts: Classical. (laughs)

Mervine: Actual motets!

Watts: We’re really influenced by music of the 70’s and 80’s, especially funk. Every Halloween for the past 15 years we’ve covered a different artist from that time period, and recently we’ve done entire years. Over the past five or six years that’s been the biggest influence for us stylistically. We’re just trying to make every album funkier and more danceable, but at the same time not just a dance party. Music with a message. Music that’s got some real musicality. Horn lines, chord changes. Bands like Parliament, Stevie Wonder, Jamiroquai. If anything, we’re just going deeper into that world.

So is it safe to say the new album will be even funkier than the last one?

Watts: Oh yeah.

Divinsky: It’s going for hips and hearts alike! (laughs)

Mervine: He was just waiting to say that.

Lastly, what does The Motet think of Austin, TX? Do you guys have a favorite venue or most memorable performance?

Jalbert: They’re all just so memorable and epic, every single time.

Watts: It’s always a good hang here, also. There’s so much to see artistically, culturally.

Jalbert: It’s kinda like the Colorado of Texas.

Watts: We had a great time at the Scoot Inn… Art Outside Festival last year… we came to The Parish four or five years ago and sold it out. We didn’t know what our scene was in Austin at the time, but that worked out great!

You mentioned Austin being like the “Colorado of Texas,” something that Big Gigantic alluded to when I interviewed them at Euphoria Festival last year. Does playing in Austin remind you of hometown crowds in Denver?

Watts: Oh yeah. The enthusiasm level definitely does. It’s the response that we feed off when we play.

Joey Porter: The weed’s not as good, though. (laughs)

The 30 Best Non Jay-Z/Kanye West Roc-A-Fella Songs

If you don’t care to read the longer-than-expected backstory of how I came to write this article, then just scroll down to the list. I ain’t mad atcha.

As you all know, Jay-Z recently launched Tidal, a high fidelity music streaming service that aims to put the power of streaming monetization in the hands of artists (or something?). Tidal has caught flack from just about everybody with an opinion for one reason or another, and after the beleaguered service quickly fell out of Apple’s Top 750 on the App Store, its owner decided that it was time to do some out of the box marketing.

What did Hov have in mind, exactly? A live performance extravaganza for the ages, dubbed the “Tidal B-Sides Concert,” in which Jigga Man would play two hours of his best deep album cuts, legendary freestyles, and fan favorites, while foregoing any and all singles. It was to be the show that every diehard Jay-Z fan has been waiting for their entire lives. And then it was to be available for free streaming on Tidal the next day.

Basically, Jay was sick of being the bad guy. He needed some good karma to come his way, and what better way to receive it than to give his day one fans the concert experience of a lifetime, all the while emphasizing the free aspect, and of course giving Tidal plenty of love during the show.

So how was the actual show?

It was everything I wanted it to be and more. Everything about it was surreal. Jay absolutely crushed it. His band, 1500 Or Nothin’, did a tremendous job of reinterpreting his songs live, and Hov himself didn’t skip a beat. He might have missed one or two lyrics the entire two hours, and we’re talking about performing somewhere around 50 songs that he presumably hadn’t performed live in ten years or more. The man was in a Jordan-esque zone (definitely not a coincidence that he was donning an MJ jersey), and despite how trash his recent material has been, or how much hate he’s been receiving about Tidal, I was immediately reminded why I fell in love with his music in the first place.

One of the show’s most special moments came about midway through, when Jay brought out Memphis Bleek, Beanie Sigel, and Freeway for an on-stage Roc-A-Fella reunion. The crowd went haywire in New York, I went haywire at home, and for about ten minutes we were all reminded of just how great the Roc-A-Fella Records heyday really was. That label has cranked out some hits, man.

But as I watched Jay, Beans, and Bleek rip through “You, Me, Him & Her,” I got to thinking. How many hits does The Roc really have? Of course there’s Jay and Kanye’s entire catalogs, but that isn’t enough. Two men a stellar label does not make. Should Roc-A-Fella be considered as a serious contender when talking about the most dominant labels in hip-hop history?

So I decided to take a trip down memory lane and reinvestigate for myself. I took Hov and Yeezy’s discographies out of the equation and ranked the 30 best Roc-A-Fella songs made by somebody not named Shawn Carter or Kanye West. By the end of my research, it became crystal clear to me that The Roc is truly a historical rap label, up there with the very best (the list was only supposed to be 25 songs, but I couldn’t possibly narrow it down to any less than 30). Making this list was way harder than I ever could’ve imagined, and if former Roc prospects Big L and/or Lil’ Wayne would’ve signed with the label the task would’ve been, dare I say, impossible.

Throw ya diamonds in the sky if you feel the vibe.


Some rules before we get started:

1. The song must have been released while the artist was under contract with Roc-A-Fella.

2. The song can feature Jay-Z or Kanye West, but only if it’s a posse cut (three or more rappers).

3. Songs by non-Roc-A-Fella artists that were released on Roc-A-Fella compilation albums do not count (Streets Is Watching SoundtrackBackstage Soundtrack, any of DJ Clue?’s Professional albums, for example).

Got it? Good, let’s get it.


30. Freeway f. 50 Cent — “Take It To The Top” (Prod. JR Rotem) (2007)

“Home I ain’t gettin’ no dough, I can’t be sittin’ in there/ So what if they boyfriends be home baby I’m different than them/ I bring them Benjamins in, look at the kitchen in there.” — Freeway

Coming off one of the last Roc-A-Fella releases ever, Freeway’s underrated second album Free At Last, “Take It To The Top” is a jiggy two-step number that finds Free consoling his girl about his hectic life on the road. 50 Cent is in full-on “Window Shopper” mode on the melodic chorus, and his sing-songy flow (the same one he ridiculed Ja Rule to death for using) perfectly accents the tone of the record.


29. Young Gunz f. Denim — “Life We Chose” (Prod. Just Blaze) (2004)

“Even though it hurts some days, this is the game we chose to play/ Not everything in life is gold but it will be okay.” — Denim

Young Chris and Neef are an oft-overlooked piece of the Roc-A-Fella puzzle, but they released two solid albums on the label, each with stellar production. “Life We Chose” is a vintage mid-2000’s Just Blaze banger, with equal parts soul and knock. The YG’z utilize the beat to great effect, speaking on changes that come with the transition from the streets to the booth.


28. Peedi Crakk, Beanie Sigel & Young Chris f. Lil’ Cease — “G.A.M.E.” (Prod. Henny Loc) (2003)

“My choppa clips hold a hundred copper sticks, and I’m G-A-M-E with the thing off safety.” — Beanie Sigel

At one point, Roc-A-Fella had so many Philly rappers that they formed a seven-person group called State Property, which subsequently dropped two cult classic films with accompanying soundtracks. “G.A.M.E.,” a highlight off State Prop’s Chain Gang Vol. II, features arguably the three best rappers from the crew, and even a washed up Lil’ Cease can’t mess up the fire production.


27. Beanie Sigel f. Melissa Jay & Rell — “Change” (Prod. Ty Fyffe) (2005)

“You think I’m up in the hood, up to no good/ gotta come home to you blastin’ L Boogs/ ‘When It Hurt So Bad’ why it feel so good?” — Beanie Sigel

Maybe one day I’ll write a piece about how alarmingly underrated Beanie Sigel’s third album, The B.Coming is. It’s a classic from front-to-back, the rare mainstream rap record that foregoes accessibility in place of heavy-hearted soul and sonic cohesion. It’s hard to believe that it’s been ten full years since Beans was actually an asset to Jay-Z, and “Change” shows exactly why that was.


26. Cam’ron — “Bubble Music” (Prod. Stay Gettin’) (2004)

“Mami all on me cause I’m touchin’ her belly/ I’m on butter Pirellis/ Whip purple and yellow, hello that’s butter and jelly/ I flip butter on cellies/ All right in front of the deli/ Holly, Lilly to Kelly all spent ones on the telly.” — Cam’ron

Perhaps the toughest part about crafting this list was resisting the passionate urge within me to make every song a Cam song. Roc-era Killa is basically the perfect street rapper; crazy gully, dumb witty, so threatening but so inviting. Just like every other song on Purple Haze, “Bubble Music” is one long quotable that reminds you why Harlem needs to be recognized as its own borough.


25. Twista f. Memphis Bleek, Young Chris & Freeway — “Art & Life (Chi-Roc)” (Prod. D-Roy, Mr. B & Mike Caren) (2004)

“N***** servin’ 50s and 100s , when I see you and I’m on yo tip/ Twista and this East Coast regime, it’s that Chi-Roc shit.” — Twista

Twista was as close to being on Roc-A-Fella as one could be without actually being signed. In fact, Dame Dash was close to signing him, but couldn’t get him released from his binding Atlantic contract. Nonetheless, “Art & Life” is not to be confused with anything less than a Roc affair. Four emcees going for broke with no hooks and relentless bars over epic strings and guitars.


24. Freeway, Omillio Sparks & Peedi Crakk — “Ring The Alarm” (Prod. Unknown) (2003)

“Drinkin’ liquor gettin’ brain in my waterbed/ feelin’ like a scholar all thanks to your daughter head.” — Peedi Crakk

Peedi Crakk always had a really awkward flow, and it shines brightest on stop-start beats like this one that can match its awkwardness. Add one of Omillio Sparks’ hottest ever verses, plus a hungry and in-his-prime Freeway, and “Ring The Alarm” makes for a forgotten street mixtape classic.


23. Jadakiss — “Who Run This” (Prod. Baby Grand) (2008)

“Raspy voice killa/ the illest of the illa/ fly gangsta n**** stay blowin’ a vanilla/ life’s a bitch and if I ever meet her I’ma tell her/ give it to anybody on beat, a cappella.” — Jadakiss

Jadakiss had a brief stint with Roc-A-Fella for his third and as-of-yet his last album (but hopefully not for long), The Last Kiss. “Who Run This” was a pre-album teaser to heat the streets up, which it did by way of simplicity. With Jay-Z riding shotgun, gassing Jada up in between verses, Kiss does what he does best by spitting bar after bar of slick street talk over a grimy breakbeat. Nobody can make you feel him like an in-his-zone Jadakiss.


22. Dame Dash f. Cam’ron & Jim Jones — “I Am Dame Dash” (Prod. Just Blaze) (2002)

“In ’87 dog, my man Dame was a cake copper/ Eighth chopper/ now he got a gray chopper/ Harlem, Brooklyn, Philly, the whole state’s proper/ Shrimp, steak, 42nd they ate lobsters.” — Cam’ron

Dame Dash has been bragging about how he’s not a rapper since the beginning of The Roc, and “I Am Dame Dash” pushes that statement to its creative apex. Dash recruits his fellow Harlemites Cam’ron and Jim Jones to narrate his hustling days for him, over a Just Blaze banger that can only be described as audio sun spots. Once again — and I can’t emphasize this enough — Harlem never loses.


21. Memphis Bleek f. Denim — “Smoke The Pain Away” (Prod. 9th Wonder) (2005)

“That’s how it work for me/ puffin’ on the purple hit the booth with my eyes burgundy/ I spit the truth on how the Earth be/ and all the bullshit I go through like dirt weed.” — Memphis Bleek

I had to include this joint on the list to let the people know that 9th Wonder is responsible for more Roc-A-Fella magic than just “Threat.” “Smoke The Pain Away” suffered the same fate as the rest of Memphis Bleek’s 534 album, getting completely overshadowed by the inclusion of the Jay-Z solo classic that is “Dear Summer,” but it’s a slept-on classic in its own right. Bleek rides the crackin’ 9th Wonder snares into the sunset with this soothing smoker’s anthem.


20. Cam’ron f. Memphis Bleek & Beanie Sigel — “The ROC (Just Fire)” (Prod. Just Blaze) (2002)

“I’m fuckin’ secretaries/ all for information, it ain’t necessary/ They in love like the 14th of February/ play ’em like April 1st right before I slide off/ it could be March 2nd, sounding like July 4th.” — Cam’ron

A full one-third of the songs on this list share the distinguished honor of being backed by Just Blaze instrumentals, and that number could be much higher if not for my appreciation for variety. Cam’ron’s Roc debut, Come Home With Me, features four of the most classic Blaze beats known to man, but “The Roc” makes the cut because I’m a sucker for crew love. Bleek and Beans both go in as hard as they can, but it’s pointless to debate who has the best verse when you allow Killa to bat cleanup on a beat this nasty. See above.


19. Beanie Sigel — “Nothing Like It” (Prod. Kanye West) (2001)

“I spit words that skip through air/ Let the words of a true thug hit your ear/ It change colors like blue blood when it hit the air/ It’s nothing like it…” — Beanie Sigel

The intro to Sigel’s sophomore album, The Reason, “Nothing Like It” marks the first Kanye West-produced track on the list so far. Yeezy once joked that he “keeps all the good beats to himself,” but it’s songs like this that beg to differ. Beans proves that the success of The Truth was no fluke, reestablishing himself as the second gun in Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella army.


18. Memphis Bleek f. Beanie Sigel & Jay-Z — “Hypnotic” (Prod. Just Blaze) (2003)

“Pass the dutchie if you wiz-ill/ Take one to the grizz-ill/ Tell me how you fiz-eel.” — Jay-Z

Bleek, Beans, and Hov must’ve been bored with the typical thug talk during this particular studio session, because “Hypnotic” sounds like the closest thing we have to Roc-A-Fella on acid. The three compatriots get super meta on us about how “Hypnotic” their styles are, flossing over a Just Blaze beat that sounds like the lazy cousin of what Dr. Dre cooked up for The D.O.C. on “The Formula.” Somehow, it all works amazingly well, and oh by the way ever since I wrote that “Roc-A-Fella on acid” thing I can’t stop thinking about how much I want to see a tripped out Memphis Bleek trying to explain the meaning of life to Jay-Z.


17. Jadakiss f. Faith Evans — “Letter To B.I.G.” (Prod. Needlz) (2009)

“People in power is queer/ I could go on for a year about how it would be if you were still here/ The game got cheaper/ rappers is more commercially successful now but their hearts a lot weaker.” — Jadakiss

The Lox have always been the staunchest of Biggie legacy-bearers, having formed a close relationship with the King of New York in the year before his death. “Letter To B.I.G.” is a simple, heartfelt salute to Jadakiss’ fallen friend. It boasts a great hook by Big’s widow Faith Evans, and one long, awesome Jada verse that detail everything from his views on how the game would be different if Biggie was still alive, to Big’s son CJ looking more and more like his pops.


16. Cam’ron f. Daz Dillinger — “Live My Life (Leave Me Alone)” (Prod. Precision) (2002)

“All my n***** got M-16’s kid/ and all we do is watch MTV Cribs/ Learn not to in fury the victim/ Purely stick ’em/ Break through your security system.” — Cam’ron

Cam’ron not only got permission from Daz Dillinger, the producer of 2Pac’s “Ambitionz Az A Ridah,” to recreate the beat for him, he actually got Daz to handle chorus duties as well. What ensues is three minutes of vintage Killa Cam shit talk, as he masterfully transforms the West Coast classic into his own mission statement. It’s a Harlem thing dog, you’ll clash with mobsters.


15. Cam’ron & Juelz Santana — “I Love You” (Prod. Heatmakerz) (2003)

“I sit in the lobby/ Look at my ovie/ Have visions of Gotti/ Visions of lotties/ Pictures of Blood(shed), scenes of (Big) L, I wanna see my son piss in that potty.” — Cam’ron

There’s about 23 songs on Diplomatic Immunity that could’ve made this list, and yes, there are 23 songs on Diplomatic Immunity. But “I Love You” seemed particularly list-worthy because it embodies everything that made The Diplomats great in the mid-2000s: Cam’ron and Juelz Santana trading gully bars over a soulful Heatmakerz sample. Dipset loves you, and you should love them right back. It’s as simple as that.


14. Beanie Sigel f. Scarface — “Mom Praying” (Prod. Just Blaze) (2001)

“And as hurt as I was, I had to smile witcha/ And thank God that we crossed paths cause you one strong sister/ And I’m never gon’ forget ya/ Heaven sent us an angel and the world gon’ miss ya… mama.” — Scarface

It’s a crying shame that Mack & Brad, the Beanie Sigel and Scarface collab-album never happened. The two have shared the mic on six different songs, and all of them are superb. “Mom Praying” happens to be one of my favorites. Scarface’s verse dedicated to his mother’s memory is especially powerful.


13. Freeway f. Peedi Crakk — “Flipside” (Prod. Just Blaze) (2003)

“We rip crowds, whole lotta volume and a little bit of bass is all it takes to make the place GET WILD.” — Freeway

“Flipside” is perfectly indicative of an early-to-mid-2000’s club banger in every way. Every Just Blaze beat is stupid in its own right, but this one is particularly dumb. Free and Peedi do the infectious track justice with a live wire duet that could get anything with a pulse to spazz out.


12. Jadakiss f. Ayanna Irish — “Can’t Stop Me” (Prod. Neo Da Matrix) (2009)

“I’ma call it confidence cause I ain’t cocky/ I just know one thing, they can’t stop me.” — Jadakiss

Like every Jadakiss album, The Last Kiss has its ups and downs, but the ups are always pure fire. “Can’t Stop Me” is nothing short of epic, as it finds Jada in his purest and most comfortable zone. He reasserts his sustained dominance over the rap game and throws hella shade at every rapper who doesn’t have hood credit. The lesson here: if you drive papi crazy then the industry is never gon’ stop you, baby.


11. Memphis Bleek — “Volume 2 Intro (Hand It Down)” (Prod. DJ Premier) (1998)

“First gun, two bullets/ N***** know I do pull it/ N***** tryna kill me dog, who wouldn’t? Screw Gooden/ I pitch in the PJ’s/ Lit off the EJ.” — Memphis Bleek

I find it quite comical that Jay was already considering retirement after only his third album, claiming that there “ain’t enough money in this game to keep me around,” and even more comically claiming that “Bleek’s gonna be a good rapper… new, IMPROVED Jay-Z.” I guess all of that retirement talk got put on hold after Hard Knock Life went on to sell five million records and catapulted Hov to superstardom though, huh? Regardless, this “passing of the torch” moment is a great one, as Memphis Bleek goes to town over some dirty Primo production and kicks off Vol. 2 in a major way.


10. Cam’ron f. Juelz Santana — “Oh Boy” (Prod. Just Blaze) (2002)

“It’s the D-I-P (boy), plus the R-O-C (boy)/ You’ll be D-O-A (boy)/ Your moms will say (oh boy!)” — Cam’ron

OH BOY. We have entered the top ten ladies and gentlemen! Pull your Rocawear velour suits out of the closet, because it’s only indisputable classics from this point forward. This is the track that not only put Killa Cam on the map for good, but also popularized the trend of rappers crafting verses around a singular word or phrase that’s found in the sample of the beat. But you already knew that. There’s nothing really to say, just press play and feel the joy.


9. Beanie Sigel — “The Truth” (Prod. Kanye West) (2000)

“Ain’t nothin’ changed with Sig, I’m still stuck in the kitchen/ So what I’m signed, that’s fine, still stuck in position.” — Beanie Sigel

“The Truth” is the first song on Beanie Sigel’s debut album of the same name, and thus serves as a mission statement of sorts. It’s also the first major beat placement of Kanye West’s career, and may still be the gulliest thing Ye has produced to this day. Beans goes ham over the pounding organs and keys, and the end result is a Roc certified street classic.


8. Cam’ron — “Killa Cam” (Prod. Heatmakerz) (2004)

“I’m from where Nicky Barnes got rich as fuck/ Rich and A hit the kitchens then were pitchin’ up/ Rob Base, Mase, Doug E. Fresh switched it up/ I do both, who am I to fuck tradition up?” — Cam’ron

The fact that “Killa Cam” is only eighth on this list speaks volumes to Roc-A-Fella’s dominance. It’s a perfect record, one that can and should be played in any fuckboy-free environment. I personally think this should be the song that presidents play when they step off Air Force One every time they triumphantly return to America after a diplomatic mission, but that’s just me being corny punny. How epic are those voices, though?


7. Beanie Sigel & Freeway — “Roc The Mic” (Prod. Just Blaze) (2001)

“Roll with Dash’s, move like Cassius Clay/ Move yay like caskets, there’s a will there’s a way/ Obey my thirst move yay through traffic.” — Freeway

“Roc The Mic” was accessible enough to become a minor Billboard hit, peaking at no. 55 on the Hot 100. That fact truly makes me miss the days when two grimy street rappers like Sigel and Free could get steady radio rotation, but I guess complaining won’t do me any good. Once again, Just Blaze laces the track with the type of lava that gets any party jumping, and the video holds its own special place in history as one of the pinnacle moments of rap’s jersey era.


6. Cam’ron f. Kanye West & Syleena Johnson — “Down & Out” (Prod. Kanye West) (2004)

“Cop me Air 1’s, hun, lime and red/ You got pets? Me too, mine are dead/ Fox, minks, gators, that’s necessary/ Accessories, my closet’s a pet cematary.” — Cam’ron

As soon as Cam’ron playfully croons “bayyybay,” and subsequently asks, “Kanye, this that 1970’s heron flow, huh,” you just know that shit’s about to go down on this Purple Haze standout. You can just feel it. The strings are lush, the drums are hard as fuck, and the vocal sample is simply heavenly. “Down & Out” is a top ten Kanye beat to this day. Cam handles the rest with a lyrical barrage that only he could pull off, rambling ever so confidently about exclusive sake drinking spots, having enough guns in his car to make someone believe that they were included in the sale, and his own special way of playing Simon Says. I love you Cam’ron, there’s nothing else to it.


5. Dame Dash f. Kanye West, Beanie Sigel, Cam’ron, Young Chris & Twista — “Champions” (Prod. Kanye West) (2002)

“I done seen jealousy make n***** do t-terrible thangs/ How’d that song go I did with Hov? Oh yeah, shit’ll never change.” — Kanye West

When it comes to all-time great posse cuts, you would be a damn fool to exclude “Champions.” The best song on the soundtrack to Paid In Full, every member of Dame Dash’s ‘Dream Team’ thoroughly shreds Kanye’s Queen-sampled beat, but it’s really Dame’s own between-verses shit talk that gets me the most amped. It’s nothing short of prophetic when he boldly claims, “God damn, Kanye! I bet n***** didn’t know you could rap, huh? This the producer of The Roc, he rap better than most rappers!” If only the world knew how true that statement would soon become.


4. Cam’ron & Juelz Santana — “Dipset Anthem” (Prod. Heatmakerz) (2003)

“He understood me quite clear/ Then that thang banged out and rang out the side of his right ear/ And I got back to my business, back to my bitches/ Back to the kitchen, that pyrex vision.” — Juelz Santana

I never thought that I would ever be in a position to make a list about rap songs that includes “Dipset Anthem” and withhold it from a top three position, but here I am doing just that. The first single off Diplomatic Immunity could easily be number one, but so could any number of these records. Cam and Juelz incinerate the Heatmakerz production with gully bars and a classic chorus that interpolates the Geto Boys classic, “Mind Playing Tricks On Me.” Any Dipset playlist starts and ends here.


3. Beanie Sigel — “Feel It In The Air” (Prod. Heavy D) (2005)

“I hear this voice in the back of my mind, like ‘Mack tighten up your circle’/ Before they hurt you/ Read they body language, 85% communication nonverbal.” — Beanie Sigel

Kicking off Beanie Sigel’s classic The B.Coming, “Feel It In The Air” is one of the best album intros of all time. Beans perfectly captures the atmosphere of the beat, narrating a story about the paranoia surrounding a drug dealer’s worst nightmare: dealing with a partner who’s snitching. Kicking your album off with a song this great runs the risk of stretching yourself too thin too soon, but as Sigel was well aware of, the rest of The B.Coming holds up just fine. Rest In Peace Heavy D.


2. Cam’ron & Jim Jones — “I Really Mean It” (Prod. Just Blaze) (2003)

“Lock my garage/ Rock my massage/ Fuck it, bucket by Osh Kosh B’gosh/ Golly I’m gully, look at his galoshes/ Gucci, gold, platinum plaque collages.” — Cam’ron

“I Really Mean It” is the best of the best; the best song on Diplomatic Immunity; two of the best Cam’ron verses ever; one of the best Just Blaze beats ever; one of the best bangers in rap history; the best use of ‘chipmunk soul’ this side of “Slow Jamz.” You just can’t listen to it without feeling yourself, and at the end of the day, what else do we listen to rap music for (I kid, conscious J. Cole fans)?


1. Freeway f. Jay-Z & Beanie Sigel — “What We Do” (Prod. Just Blaze) (2003)

“Bang like T-Mac, ski mask air it out/ Gotta kill witnesses cause Free’s beard stickin’ out/ Y’all don’t want no witness, shit/ We squeeze hammers, mang/ Bullets breeze by you (bayou), like Louisiana, mang.” — Jay-Z

The lead single off Freeway’s debut album, Philadelphia Freeway, “What We Do” defines the Roc-A-Fella era like no other. When it’s all said and done, The Roc represented two things above all else: detailing what it means to be a young, black drug dealer in America, and the importance of crew love. “What We Do” connects with both motifs in the illest way possible, and if we would like to add a third to accompany them, it would be that Just Blaze is a top ten all-time rap producer.

This song is the ultimate hustler’s anthem: self-aware of the evils that come with the lifestyle, yet firmly rooted in its inherent truths. I can’t really say enough about how much I love it, so I’ll keep it simple: if you are in my general vicinity when “What We Do” comes on, then don’t even think about speaking to me because I’m not listening.

Ballin: 20 NBA Players & Their Rap Equivalents

Yeahhhhh doggies! Sing it with me now: It’s the most wonderful tiiiiiiime of the yeaaaaarrrrrrr!!!

Oh, what’s that you say? Andy Williams wrote that song about Christmas? Could’ve fooled me. Christmas is not wonderful. Christmas is about flexing on your family and letting everybody know that you’re still the most worthy successor to your grandfather’s immaculate watch collection, if for no other reasons than that you kinda dress like an adult now and you can cook four different dishes with stunning mediocrity. Christmas is aggressive, heated, psychological warfare, don’t be fooled.

The most wonderful time of the year is actually right now, the two-month stretch from mid-April to mid-June when the weather finally stops toying with your emotions and the NBA playoffs start.

There’s nothing I enjoy more than watching NBA playoff basketball. It follows five months of good coaches getting thrown under the bus because of bad players, the most suspect defenses known to man, extremely overplayed storylines, hilarious Instagram posts, 28-footers getting launched five seconds into a shot clock because the team’s DJ is still playing the “I’ma Boss” instrumental, Knicks fans trying to act like they don’t care about basketball (or anything) anymore, and Russell Westbrook making it okay to dress like a total douchebag by incinerating hardwood floors across the nation.

The playoffs signify the end of the BS and the beginning of a legendary tradition in which the most skilled athletes in the world pour their heart and soul into their craft, leaving everything they have on the floor night after night (besides the Nets, who just want to get swept in the first round so we can all stop caring about how overpaid they are).

People who hate on the NBA don’t only confuse me, they irritate me. Instead of focusing on how exceptional these men are at a sport that combines athleticism, wits, intuition, power, speed, finesse, and clutchness, perhaps in more equal parts than any other, NBA haters would rather focus on bad tattoos, bad tweets, and the self-righteous “purity” of college basketball. Guess what, hater? Your favorite college team is gonna be ass again next year after that top recruit you’ve been in a drunken love-fest with all winter declares for the draft two-to-three years early. Sorry bruh, I guess the allure of things like going to class, not having his own shoe, not dating models, and not making millions of dollars just wasn’t enough to keep him around for another Final Four upset. But he’s selfish and ignorant, right?! Yeah, totally.

Anyways, the NBA is where it’s at. And there is no sporting event that is as competitive for as long a period of time as the playoffs. It’s magical.

Much like NBA players, rappers are prone to lots of criticism, some deserving and some not, much of it with racial undertones (both are, after all, dominated by young black men and critiqued by young-to-middle aged white men). But at the end of the day, the talent speaks for itself. Rappers and ballers make difficult things look easy, to put it lightly.

And that is why, in honor of the start of the NBA playoffs, I have compiled a list of 20 comparisons between players who are currently in the playoffs and their rapping counterparts. The following comparisons are often-times loose, highly subjective, and based on no criteria of importance. Do you have a problem with that? Didn’t think so, let’s get started.

(Editor’s note: I tried my best, but I couldn’t think of an Anthony Davis comparison. He’s too talented at too young of an age. Hip-Hop doesn’t have that right now.)


Drew Gooden (Washington Wizards) & Fat Joe

Hey, did you know that one year Drew Gooden averaged 14.8 PPG? That’s almost 15 whole PPG, wowzers! He also averaged just over 9 RPG in TWO different years. I mean damn, Drew, you really showin’ out big homie. But perhaps most impressively, Drew Gooden has played for ten different NBA teams in his thirteen year career, which is good for exactly one-third of the total teams in the league. He is a shining example of how to make a career out of doing the absolute least. Every time I see Drew Gooden check into a game I think to myself, “huh, that’s funny, I swear he retired eight years ago. Way to go Drew!”

Admittedly, Fat Joe has had a more impactful rap career than Gooden has had a basketball career. Joey Crack was part of Diggin’ In The Crates and he introduced the world to Big Pun, which will always matter. He also licked the bottom of a Jordan one time on MTV Cribs, and I think it was because he was actually that hungry. But most importantly, like Drew, Joe knows how to hop on more talented peoples’ coattails to remain relevant. Ja Rule and Ashanti are hot? How about some “What’s Luv” for that ass. Scott Storch is the most sought after producer? Hit ’em with a lil’ “Lean Back” action. Everything Lil’ Wayne touches turns to platinum? Might as well “Make It Rain” then, right? CRACK!


JR Smith (Cleveland Cavaliers) & Ty Dolla $ign

JR: Not really a basketball player, more so a kindred spirit put on this Earth to bring joy to our mundane, pointless existence.

Ty: Not really a rapper or singer, more so a kindred spirit put on this Earth to bring joy to our mundane, pointless existence.

JR & Ty: Redefining the beauty of ratchet every single day with each subsequent chorus, fadeaway corner three, and flagrant neck tat. God bless them both.


Zach Randolph (Memphis Grizzlies) & Jadakiss

This comparison works beautifully because of the combination of surface value and deeper connections.

Do both men have alarmingly circular heads? Check.

Are both men incapable of growing facial hair beyond “senior year in high school” status? Check.

If either one of them wasn’t a celebrity, would a white girl be scared shitless to run into them on the streets at night? Check.

Are they two of the hardest working, most consistent, generally adored fan favorites at their respective crafts? Check, check, check.


Jamal Crawford (Los Angeles Clippers) & Fabolous

Crawford has more in common with F-A-B-O than one might think. Neither has ever been a top ten, or even top 15 talent for any given year in basketball or rap. But they are not to be slept on. When Crawford is feeling it, he can single-handedly put a game away with his polished offensive skill-set, dirty crossover, and insanely demoralizing heat-check threes. This seems to happen about four or five times a year.

Loso is the same way. He has never dropped a classic album and never will, but when he’s on, he’s really on. He’s certainly not the best at anything, but he can do everything very well. He’s always a threat to kill somebody on their own song, and once or twice a year he’ll drop a single out of nowhere that whips radio into a frenzy.


Nikola Mirotic (Chicago Bulls) & Action Bronson

Mirotic has been a godsend for the depleted Bulls this season. The 6’10” 24-year-old Spanish Montenegrin rookie can stretch the floor, rebound, play defense, and bring a spark off the bench in limited playing time… And none of these things warrant any Bronson comparisons.

What does warrant Bronson comparisons? Simple: beard girth and scrappiness. You don’t want to fuck with Mirotic (ask Zaza Pachulia), and you DEFINITELY don’t want to fuck with Action Bronson (ask anybody). The power is in the beard. Sometimes it’s best not to overthink these things.


OJ Mayo (Milwaukee Bucks) & Ace Hood

Wasn’t OJ Mayo supposed to, oh, I don’t know, be good? It seems like so long ago now that he was selected with the third overall pick in the 2008 draft that I can’t seem to remember just how high analysts were proclaiming his upside to be. It seems like even longer ago when he was one of the best high school prospects ever.

Since his rookie and sophomore campaigns with the Grizzlies, in which he put up 18.5 and 17.5 PPG, respectively, Mayo has averaged somewhere between 11 and 15 PPG playing modest minutes with non-contenders. He’s still in his prime (27), but it seems as if the potential will never pan out.

Enter Ace Hood. DJ Khaled’s pet project was once a potential trap star in the making after he flooded the streets with the quadruple back-to-back of traptastic singles, “Hustle Hard,” “Go n Get It,” “Body 2 Body,” and “Bugatti.” Alas, the buzz has long since died down, and frankly, nobody gives a damn.

We’ll always have this though:


Marcin Gortat (Washington Wizards) & Ill Mitch

This is easily the most important comparison of this entire article. Peep game from my mans Ill Mitch real quick:





Joe Johnson (Brooklyn Nets) & The Game

For some reason, I really love both Silky Joe and Jayceon. Neither one has been particularly relevant or good since around 2009, but I don’t know man, I just love ’em. Joe Johnson plays a deliberate and confident offensive game that sometimes becomes unstoppable for brief stretches. Game still name-drops like its nobody’s business, and he can’t stop rapping exactly like the rappers he gets on tracks with, but sometimes he sounds unstoppable for brief stretches.

They couldn’t be more different off the court and away from the mic, as Johnson hasn’t said a word in 17 years and counting (that’s an official stat), and all Game does is talk shit. But it’s the ways in which both have used their prior media exposure to sustain slightly-above average careers that really gets me. I guess I just have a certain respect for people who can sneakily convince the world that they are either a seven-time all-star or a rap legend.


Joakim Noah (Chicago Bulls) & Waka Flocka Flame

Everybody knows how hard Waka goes in the proverbial paint that is life. Any time I’m sick of my old workout playlists and don’t feel like making a new one, Waka saves me with Flockaveli. I just throw that album on and I’m ready to go. He’s the reason I only party on streets named Grove.

Joakim Noah is a one-man Grove St. Party on the basketball court; a keg-standing, Ron Diaz guzzling, shirt swinging ball of fire who I’m positive would crush any beer pong balls in the vicinity if he lost a game, just so nobody else could play.

Just keep soaking that all in, it’s the good stuff. Even from the bench Noah can’t stop acting like the most annoying kid in your 6th grade gym class.


Lou Williams (Toronto Raptors) & Meek Mill

Fresh off of Lou Will’s well-deserved 6th Man of the Year Award, this comparison is too easy. Meek and Lou are actually great friends in real life. Rick Ross and Wale are the stars of the MMG camp, but Meek is the fan favorite with enough hood swag to bag Nicki Minaj. Similarly, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are the stars of the Toronto Raptors, but Lou Will is the fan favorite with enough hood swag to will his team to victory when they need him the most.

Meek’s manic energy can single-handedly save boring ass beats from themselves, and Lou’s silky game can single-handedly save the boring ass Raptors from themselves. Plus Lou Will kinda went in on that “I’ma Boss” beat (“Thank God all these games I done played, at $60K a game all this money I done made!”):


HALFTIME. Alright, we’ve made it through the first ten. Now I know you’re ready for the heavyweights. Let’s get it.


Paul Pierce (Washington Wizards) & Jeezy

The Truth and The Snowman. What else is there to say? Paul Pierce is one of my favorite ballers ever, and Jeezy is one of my favorite rappers ever. Despite lacking in some crucial areas that their peers excel in, namely athleticism for Pierce and lyricism for Jeezy, it just never really mattered. They still dominated their primes and are going hard to this day. They’re both OG’s with respect from nearly all of their peers, and are well-deserving of their sustained, decorated careers. Salute.

Also, real recognize real:



Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers) & Wale

Hmmm, let me think here. Who makes up a great rapper/baller combo that complains about nearly everything for no apparent reason? Furthermore, is said rapper/baller combo the second biggest star on their respective team? Did the rapper in the combo change his style in order to expand his microphone pedigree and fanbase, but can still use his old style flawlessly when necessary? Did the baller in the combo change his game in order to expand his offensive prowess, but can still “how do my nuts taste” Aron Baynes’ entire family three times in one quarter when necessary? And despite all the bitching and moaning, when it comes down to it, are they both superbly talented? Now you see where I’m going with this one…


John Wall (Washington Wizards) & Chance The Rapper

These are two of the brightest young stars in the game, and they will continue to shape and mold hip-hop and basketball for a long time. They both ooze youthful exuberance, but with a maturity far beyond their years. Wall’s instincts and basketball IQ coupled with his natural athleticism make him a joy to watch. Chance’s dexterity and all-around lyrical polish make him a joy to listen to. These young guns are just getting started.


Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls) & Big L

I love D-Rose. That man defines hard work and class. If I was in his position, I would’ve lost my mind and/or given up a long time ago. It’s been a joy to watch him dominate the first three games of the playoffs. It was really hard to think of a comparison for him even though I wanted one so badly. I just couldn’t think of a current rapper who was so great, who peaked so early, and who fell off so quickly due to such severe bad luck.

And then it hit me. If D-Rose sustains another terrible injury, his career really is over, and he will become the NBA’s version of Big L. Here is my reasoning:

L dropped one classic album, 1995’s Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous, at only 20-years-old. That album contained the classic single, “MVP.” Rose won the NBA’s MVP award in 2011 at only 22-years-old — the youngest player to ever do so.

L was gunned down in 1999 in his native Harlem at only 24, before he could release a Lifestylez follow-up (2000’s The Big Picture was about 75% finished at the time of his murder). Rose is a Chicago-native — one of the city’s prodigal sons — whose career is dangerously close to ending in his hometown.

Both men are two of the most naturally gifted artists to ever touch a microphone or a basketball. L only has two proper albums to his name and he will always be regarded as one of the greats. As for Rose, well, anybody who remembers his first three years in the league, specifically that MVP year, knows just how awe-inspiring he is with a basketball in his hands.

At the time of his death, L was reportedly weeks away from signing with Roc-A-Fella Records. Dame Dash and Jay-Z were courting him hard. Roc-A-Fella would’ve given L the platform he needed to obtain the exposure he deserved.

Here’s to hoping that D-Rose can still have his Roc-A-Fella moment.


Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers) & A$AP Rocky

As it currently stands, Kyrie and Rocky are two immense talents that are standing juuuust outside of the bosses circle. Rocky is not quite on the level of popularity that Drake, Kendrick, J. Cole, and Kanye are, but if At Long Last A$AP does what it’s supposed to do critically and commercially, then he will be thrust head-first into that conversation. There’s no reason that Rocky’s swaggy ass should not be moving the type of units that this man moves:

I mean, dammit Jermaine, you’re 30-years-old and still making songs about wet dreams you had in the 90s or whatever. Geez, just give it a rest.

Similarly, Kyrie is one small step behind the cream of the current NBA crop. He’s not on the level of LeBron, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry, Anthony Davis, and James Harden, but he’s damn close. Ask Gregg Popovich how close he is. Kyrie is the deciding factor in whether or not the Cavs take it all this year. LeBron is going to do what he does, that’s a given. But if Kyrie can play the most inspired ball of his life these next couple months, Cleveland has as good a shot as anybody in the west.


Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs) & Nas

Ignorant rap fans don’t like Nas for the same reason that ignorant basketball fans don’t like Tim Duncan. You can hate on Nas’ beat selection all you want, but here are some pretty indisputable facts for you:

He’s a top-five all-time great by pretty much any metric.

He’s been relevant in every era since the early-90s.

He changed the game in more ways than you can count.

If he asked any rapper on the planet to hop on a verse for his next album, there are zero rappers who would say no.

While 99% of rappers who came out in the 90s are washed up either lyrically, commercially, or both, Nas at 41 can still spit circles around your favorite MC, AND his albums still sell better than the vast majority of rap albums.

You can hate on Duncan for his fundamental, “I think I’m going to go watch paint dry now because that sounds more entertaining” game, but here are some indisputable facts for you:

He’s the best power forward of all time.

He’s the heart and soul of a Spurs dynasty that has spanned SIXTEEN YEARS and counting.

He’s arguably the greatest teammate ever, in any sport.

The Spurs would not have won any of those five rings without him.

He’s turning 39 tomorrow, and his basketball IQ is so off-the-charts that he can still shut down any big man on defense, if he needs to, by out-thinking them.

Additionally, rap fans prefer Jay-Z to Nas in the same way that NBA fans prefer Kobe to Duncan. Jay/Kobe have more flash to their game, they’re way more marketable, and their signature moments are more memorable. But at the end of the day, when it comes down to nothing else besides playing basketball or rapping, who would you rather have? I’m taking Tim and Nas all day, two times on Sunday ya bish.


James Harden (Houston Rockets) & Drake

I’m going to make this very brief because I don’t want to spend any time talking about either of these people. James Harden annoys the shit out of me. Drake annoys the shit out of me. James Harden is a spectacular basketball player who forces the game to be played around him, and I respect that. Drake is a spectacular rapper who forces the game to sound like him, and I respect that. Ugggghhhhhhhhhh.


LeChris PaulJames (Los Clevegeles Clipaliers) & Kanye West

I had to combine LeBron James and Chris Paul for two reasons:

One, if this was 2012 and LeBron was still the most hated villain in all of sports, then the Yeezy comparison would be almost too easy. But Bron has done a fantastic job of repairing his image since then, and he’s really a genuinely nice guy. Not nearly enough of a dick to warrant a 2015 Kanye comparison by his lonesome.

Two, I feel like Kanye would get super butt hurt and/or offended if I didn’t combine two people to create his comparison. I can’t risk the off-chance that somehow he reads this article and shows up at my doorstep one day ready to make me apologize for having the audacity to only give him ONE player to compare to.

Anyways, LeChris PaulJames is the NBA version of Kanye West because of the burden of greatness. You’re talking about a pair of basketball geniuses who are so great at what they do that nobody will ever just accept that greatness at face value. Yeah, Bron has two rings, but will he ever bring one home to Ohio? Yeah, CP3 has been the best point guard in the NBA for at least the past five years, but can he ever make it out of the first two rounds of the playoffs? And can he ever stop baiting opponents into fouls and bitching to refs when they don’t call those fouls? And can anybody on the Clippers ever stop being an asshole? And can somebody please kill Chris Paul so I don’t need to watch those fucking State Farm ads anymore?!

They play with that burden of greatness because they will never be good enough for us, or humble enough, or clutch enough, or vicious enough, etc.

Kanye’s burden of greatness is somewhat different, however, because he puts it on himself and then forces it down our throats, something that athletes simply can’t do. They would have a million people in their organization telling them to shut up if they acted the way Kanye acts. But Kanye has nobody he needs to answer to. He knows how great he is, and he actually does care (A LOT) if we don’t recognize that greatness.

Ultimately, Kanye just wants to go down as the greatest, which means that more rap fans have to prefer his music to his big brother Jay-Z’s music. Even if one day I do actually think that Kanye has surpassed Jay, I would never admit it to anybody, not even myself. Because then I would let Kanye win, which is something I simply can’t afford to do. I’m a man with pride, homie.

So yeah, burden of greatness or whatever the hell I was talking about. Hey Kanye, your shirt has a stain on it.


Steph Curry (Golden State Warriors) & Kendrick Lamar

Y’all know I had to wrap this up with a little bit of California love. Steph will most likely win the MVP award this year, and every rap fan I know this side of the Milky Way Galaxy wants to kiss Kendrick Lamar’s feet for making To Pimp A Butterfly. Furthermore, Steph is the best player on the league’s best team, and Kendrick is the best rapper on rap’s best label (which makes ScHoolboy Q the Draymond Green of TDE, which is an idea that I am head-over-heels in love with. I feel like Q and Draymond would be great friends. I wish I would’ve thought of this comparison earlier.).

Both Steph and Kendrick have unlimited talent and upside, with two of the most dynamic and fun games in ages. They are revolutionizing basketball and rap, Steph and his Warriors with their utterly unstoppable hybrid triangle offense, and K-Dot with the most impressive combination of critical and commercial fanfare since My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Cali stand up!


And just like that, I’m out. Enjoy the playoffs y’all, it’s going to be a wild ride. Good looks to my A2 goons for some initial inspiration on this one.