Hip Hop

EXPRESS YOUR PINEAPPLE: REMINISCING THE SOUNDTRACK
October 28, 2016 4:20 am

So, here’s the thing. I’m supposed to write a serious music review, and I totally could, except it’s 2AM on a Friday and I’m watching Pineapple Express on TNT (We Know Drama). I should really be sleeping. That’s what a sensible person would be doing. They’d be sleeping there all numbly-bumbly thinking how sweet it is being asleep safe and sound right as rain, all cozied up gaining valuable, usable energy for the strenuous day that may or may not be ahead of them, I don’t know, I don’t know who we’re talking about. But I cherish that thought, that sleepy paradise. I want it so bad. Dammit if I could only just produce some content first lickety split. And also dammit because this is a great movie. I will, without a doubt, watch this entire thing right now instead of sleeping. Can’t leave Dale and Saul hanging.

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This soundtrack too though, this is a work of art. This is the real winner, all the way through til the end. This is a content goldmine staring me square in the face screaming “Hey what’s up let me just turn your whole world upside down for a second here thanks.” I’ve been thinking about this all wrong, what am I doing?! Well I guess about to review this movie soundtrack, that’s what I’m doing. Buckle up.

Okay first we have Paper Planes, duh. Gotta be first on the list. M.I.A. blew up that year, not saying all because of this movie, but hey I’m not saying otherwise neither. That was a great year for everybody. Stay woke. The song isn’t actually in the movie, but I mean everyone remembers that trailer, right? Fuck this is a good movie.

The real headliner is Electric Avenue from Dale’s sweet opening “you’ve been served” montage. Instant classic. The scene, not the song. It’s an old song. Eddy Grant was already “classic.” But the movie really brought him to the forefront, at least for me, and I’ll always be thankful for that. We need to focus on the good things in life. “Out in the streets!” That’s what he says in the song, and it’s pretty good, because it’s a song about a street. Pure genius.

Next up is the most dopety-dope song ever, and by “next” I don’t mean chronologically next, but rather in terms of my vaunted quality-assessment hierarchy, determined through my capacity as self-proclaimed official movie-soundtrack reviewer. I’m talking of course about Poison by Bel Biv Devoe, and if you don’t know that then you don’t know jack. Wake up. Your world is not as it seems. What a seriously good song, mad props to Pineapple Express. They really nailed it with this whole soundtrack. Jeez Louise!

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Uh oh, look out, we got a piping hot track coming fresh out the oven–Public Enemy‘s Lost At Birth. I like this scene because he says “melon farmers,” which is what they say instead of motherfuckers on TNT (We Know Drama). You’re not allowed to swear on television. Wow, Public Enemy really ties this whole scene together. Somebody did their job real good when they picked that song for this scene. What a sick nasty awesome so fucking sick movie soundtrack.

Damn there’s a lotta reggae on this mix. Wanted Dread and Alive (see what they did there? With the dread?! Cuz they have dreads!), a Bob Marley deep cut (well obviously), a reeeal laid-back Ring Of Fire cover (like Johnny Cash but way chiller). See, the movie is named after a kind of marijuana from the movie, and there’s a lot of people who sometimes associate reggae music with marijuana usage for some reason. So when a movie gets made about a hairy Mary Jane strain, they’re gonna mix up a little reggae in there. That’s just the world we live in. We didn’t choose it, we were born into it. Forced from the warmths of prebirth out into the cruel, unforgiving hellscape we inhabit every waking hour of our lives. I mean it’s just monstrous out here.

Well, that’s all the time we have for today. The movie is over so I’ve now fully exhausted my content resource. Thanks to all who participated, especially you still reading this and also the good people over at TNT (We Know Drama). Let it be known that this is a can’t-miss, won’t-disappoint, doesn’t-even-flinch-as-it-knocks-you-out-of-your-socks kinda flick, and if you haven’t seen it, well why did you read this entire review of a soundtrack for a movie you’ve never seen? Yeah, that’s what I thought, you’ve definitely seen Pineapple Express. It has a pretty awesome soundtrack. I know, right? Cool, glad we’re on the same page. Let’s be sure to always stay positive in the face of any near-universal suffering we might encounter on a regular basis. Okay bye!

MELO-X KNOWS WHAT IT TAKES TO CATCH BEYONCE’S ATTENTION
October 7, 2016 12:58 pm

MeLo-X  is traveling at warp speed. Pedal to the metal. The Brooklyn-based multimedia artist has a boundless artistic vision that rejects the conventional division lines between sight and sound.

Although best known for his collaborations with Beyoncé—the free-spirited rapper and hip-hop producer has also directed and scored films, designed art installations that they have at the MoMA and Guggenheim, is a trending fashion tastemaker and an advocate for staying grounded and true to your roots.

It would be difficult to find an artist in Brooklyn with a more varied palette than MeLo-X, and that’s saying a lot.

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The self-proclaimed Renaissance man—born Sean Rhoden—got his first big break in 2014 following the release of Beyoncé’s self-titled surprise album. MeLo-X released an unauthorized collection of remixes titled Yoncé-X EP  which when picked up speed and went viral, eventually catching the attention of Queen B herself.

And there’s no one more powerful, more influential in the music biz than Beyoncé.

Pop artists are often treated as gods living among mortals—transcending human existence and amassing devout worship. If ever there was a pop artist that fits—if not demands this treatment from her fans—it would be Beyoncé Knowles.

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So when MeLo-X was asked to co-direct the accompanying film scores to Beyoncé and Jay Z’s On the Run Tour, he jumped at the opportunity and didn’t look back.

Soon he was flying out to LA to help Beyoncé co-write and co-produce tracks “Hold Up” and “Sorry” off her 2016 album Lemonade.

Keep in mind, producing a Beyoncé album isn’t a typical of the industry. Rather, to visualize the scale of such a project, it’s easier to liken the undertaking to that of a Hollywood blockbuster—dozens of writers and producers converge on each track to produce the most immaculate, pungent production possible. But that’s exactly where MeLo-X excels—collaboration.

His sparse productions, often centered around spaced-out percolating frequencies, give a dark, spatial depth to the music he touches—his voice is understated yet distinct at the same time.

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Both his overall aesthetic as well as his affinity for collaboration are in full view on his 2015 solo CURATE EP which features music from buzzing hip-hop artists Little SimzKilo Kish, and Raury—he also released an interactive app to accompany the EP allowing fans to create their own remixes.

2016 has been nothing short of a whirlwind for MeLo-X. He hit the year off with another remix collection, titled Adele-X, centering yet again on the music of a pop music enigma as his subject.

MeLo-X  also recently released a track with glitch-centric electronic artist Machinedrum called “Angel Voice”—as well as helping produce track “Cleopatra” for up-and-comer Queens-via-Bengal hip-hop buzz magnet Anik Khan.  While it might be impossible to tell what MeLo-X will take on next, it’s certain he won’t be slowing down his pace anytime soon.

WATSKY’S x INFINITY HARKS BACK TO SLAM-POETRY DAYS
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On  August 29, 2016, George Watsky, a rapper, poet and artist, released his studio-album x Infinity.  This marks the first studio release by Watsky since his 2014 studio-album All You Can Do.

In accordance with his typical flair, Watsky announced that with the release of x Inifinity, he will be going on tour across the United States, doing stops and shows for fans along the way. 

In a recent YouTube video titled, “New Watsky Album, Tour + Goodbye Subaru,” Watsky said that he will be embarking on this venture in his own Subaru, which was popularized in several of his previous music videos, and at the end of the tour he will be giving away the car to one lucky winner.  The people with the chance to win the car are fans who preordered x Infinity that live in North America.

x Infinity highlights Watsky’s cascading raps, and interweaving lyrics that are reminiscent of his days as a slam-poet. In tracks like “Pink Lemonade,” Watsky draws on heavy-hitting, aggressive vocals tonalities, paired with a synth rooted melodies and backing bass. In tracks like  “Love Letters” and “Talking to Myself” Watsky pulls piano elements, and more traditional tonal progressions, which make the album feel very rooted in hip-hop.

All in all, x Infinity echoes the best aspect about Watsky; the music is unpredictable.  You can’t go into x Infinity with expectations, because each track is different from the one that precedes it.   

Listening to x Infinity I found myself thinking about Watsky’s slam poetry days, and pieces like “Drunk Text Message to God.” x Infinity displays the same creative spirit. Watsky is able to touch on some serious topics, in a lighthearted and interesting atmosphere.

Featured Image Source – Gage Skidmore 

ROBBERIES: BAND THEFT AUTO
August 25, 2016 9:22 am

 

With the internet allowing music to be at our finger tips without having to pay for it, many bands tour around the country in packed vans as their only way to make real money. Touring is fun. Going to places you’ve never seen, playing your music to screaming fans every night seems like the dream right? Bands take all their gear, clothes, computers and money and lock it in their vans, thinking it’ll be safe while they go play a show for their fans. By end of the night they come outside and expect to get in their cars and go to the next city. This is when they realize that they’ve been robbed. Everything is gone, from passports and cash to computers and irreplaceable items. This is when touring can go from a dream to a nightmare.

Small independent bands seem to be the biggest target for these types of robberies. Most of these bands reluctantly set up Gofundme pages (an online website where people can donate to a cause) and make posts looking for their stolen gear asking others to keep an eye out for the gear in pawn shops or craigslist.

While fans rally around the bands and support them the best they can, unfortunately most of these cases go unsolved.

Despite all of the difficulties they’ve faced, the outpouring of support can give some bands an optimistic outlook on the situation, while others don’t have the same outlook. Hip-Hop artist Spose, who was robbed in St. Louis, vowed that he would never go back to the city after having his computer and musical equipment stolen. “I had a lot of worked saved to my computer, and some personal things, including pictures of my family,” the rapper said. He wrote on his Facebook page; “I’m done with St Louis, if you want to see me perform in the future come to Chicago or something because St Louis is dead to me.”

It’s hard to imagine having your livelihood stolen right out from underneath you WHILE you are either on your way to the job, or inside DOING the job. For some, it can be devastating, as they may never get back personal items, like a first guitar or computer full of demo tracks. If you see something, speak up, and ALWAYS do what you can to support artists who put their entire lives on the line  to bring music to you. The least you can do is buy some merch!

SUICIDE SQUAD ALBUM REVIEW: RUN, DO NOT WALK TO THE WILD SIDE
August 17, 2016 6:37 pm

 

Whether you loved the colorful action or hated the bland villains and plot, Suicide Squad is out and strong opinions are flying everywhere. Rotten Tomatoes is famous for in depth/no shame ratings of movies, their Critic Score stands at an abysmal 26% rating while the fans score is at 69%. This split on the movie either being horrible or mostly good is everywhere. But with all this controversy over the film, nobody can deny that the soundtrack is amazing. This magic mixtape of artists and styles is impressive, creative and in reality is far better than the movie.

I would describe the attitude of the album as heroically rough around the edges. Just like the villains gone hero in the movie, the songs have a dark intensity while being oddly uplifting and easy to relate to. The album is basically split into two song types: reflective and slow or fast and powerful.

Starting with Skrillex’s and Rick Ross’s Purple Lamborghini could not have been a better choice. This song seemed underwhelming at first for me, but the more I listened the more I saw their subtle teamwork to make a brutal dubstep/hip-hop/rap song. “Wreak Havoc” by Skylar Grey is the perfect punch to the face pop song and Grimes brings her electronic magic right after it. The second to last track is Panic! At The Disco’s cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody”, which is obviously not better than the original, but comes close in reality. From the similarity in the voice to the modernized rock section with added emphasis in the orchestra parts, Panic! At The Disco does it incredibly.

As for the mellow side of the album, “Sucker For Pain” slows it down with a more personal song that speaks the the darker sides of people, but in a good way. With Imagine Dragons, Logic, Lil Wayne, X Ambassadors, Ty Dolla $ign and Wiz Khalifa all packed into this song, I was genuinely surprised how good it turned out. Twenty One Pilots continues the slower and deeper reflection tones from movie with the odd and beautiful “Heathens”. “Gangsta” and “Know Better” by Kehlani and Kevin Gates respectively are the weakest songs on the album, but they’re not bad, just not up to par with the others. The last track is “I Started a Joke” by ConfidentialMX featuring Becky Hanson, and this song is not that complex when it comes to instruments or vocals, but that’s the best part of it. It starts slightly innocent sounding and then gets darker and more grim as it goes, a true black rose: dauntingly beautiful.

This album is awesome, but there are flaws for sure. Some songs are sound like filler or too geared toward pop culture appeal, but overall it’s worth your time. Being a compilation album with so many artists, I’m impressed that it turned out to be so good. To summarize all this, I would honestly recommend skipping the movie and watching it when it comes out on Netflix or RedBox and then using that ticket money to go buy this album, totally worth it.

 

A NIGHT OF CHOCOLATE AND CHEVAL
July 28, 2016 6:50 pm

When walking into any small time club, you can expect some loud popular music while waiting for a band to go up on stage to have fun and play some cool tunes. But last night at U Street Music Hall in Washington DC, a small club turned into a musical hot box.

20427_620380401430800_4122135562059143816_nStarting the night with some cool DJ work from local artist Dirty Chocolate, he pumped out some of his own music while playing club hits with elegantly twisted remixes. From metropolitan city Gaithersburg, Maryland, he taught himself how to make music while going deep into the internet. From humble beginnings (graduating the same high school that I did) to sick clubs, Emmanuel Osemene has a strong future ahead of him. I had a minute to chat with him about his experiences with music after the show:

I’ve always been a huge fan of music…I love discovering music and finding people who push boundaries. It’s cool to see talented people use their imagination to make music better. You wouldn’t hear it in my music but Pharrel, Timberland, Daft Punk, Juicy J, Kanye West, Justice, Radiohead, Pink Floyd, and Tame Impala have been some of my biggest influences.

After him, the crowd turned around to the main stage and there were so many switchboards and keyboards that I honestly had no idea what to expect. Then the band started to play and I was immediately blown away as the four of them played musical hacky sack, taking turns on solos and bits of the song while perfectly supporting each other.

Their name is Club Cheval, they live in Paris, France are in the states for a bit to tour. Theyed play song after song of fantastic electronic sound and mixing with a superb drummer in the back who ended the show with the gnarliest drum bit I had ever heard. I had a chance to talk to Panteros666 (the drummer) right after their set list.

Tell us about yourselves…

We live in Paris, but we we are from a little city called Lille…We have a lot of influences there from Britian and Belgium so we have that kind of culture where we just mix everything together.

Where do you get you unique sound from?

Literally everywhere. We don’t put any genres on any pedestal and have no hierarchy with our music. We listen to stuff like Hip-Hop, Balie Funk from Brazil, Slow Jam and experimental stuff. I’m into trance and lots of other stuff. Each one of us has our own certain sound and we like to mix it to create something different. It doesn’t really work well in France though, so that’s why we’re here, we can relate better with the people. Sometime we are just too powerful for them and that’s probably why we are bigger here.

How did you guys meet?

To cut a long story short, we were all doing our high level studies which actually including political sciences, sound engineering and other areas. But we got together in our small city and were really obsessed with making a new breed of electronic music. We did well in our little city and then moved to Paris and met a lot of people and now were here playing music.

It was amazing how humble and relaxed Dirty Chocolate and Club Cheval were. It was a fantastic show, great start and great end with happily ringing ears all the way home. Check out more Dirty Chocolate here and Club Cheval’s tour dates here and new album here.

IS DAMIAN LILLARD THE BEST RAPPER IN THE NBA?
July 25, 2016 11:33 am

There’s a real checkered past when it comes to NBA players trying to make music. On “(I Know I Got) Skills,” Shaquille O’Neal went as far as dropping a line about punching the Statue of Liberty in her stomach, but still made sure he didn’t have to put the Parental Advisory sticker on his album by ending that brutal imagery with an “I don’t give a heck.” It felt more like something the big bad bully in a kids movie would say than a rapper.

Shaq isn’t the only basketball star to have an ill-fated music side project, however. We can’t forget about Kobe’s days as a “Thug Poet,” or the time when Dwight Howard covered Smashmouth’s “All Star.” This is why whenever fans hear about another NBA player taking a crack at music, we proceed with caution and apprehension.

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For all of those reasons, it took me a long time to give Damian Lillard aka Dame D.O.L.L.A. a chance. He’s been one of my favorite players to watch ever since he got drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers, and if he turned out to be a terrible rapper, it would have dulled his luster. But when he went on Sway’s radio show to drop a previously written freestyle like so many other rappers do on a regular basis, even Sway was surprised at how adeptly he was able to rhyme over the iconic “Dead Presidents” beat.

Lillard’s perseverance through adversity is a message that lives in each one of his songs, and it’s something he expects out of anyone listening to do as well. It’s as though his only goal in the studio is to make sure that he’s inspired literally everyone on the planet. Because of that, songs like “Bigger Than Us and “Isley may be critiqued for being a little too preachy, but for Lillard, he seriously does not know any other way. This isn’t a case of a dumb person trying to sound smart with big words they don’t really know. It’s not a facade for Lillard, promoting positive vibes with strong conviction is what comes most natural to him.

And such fervor to be a voice for the people is what lead to the creation of his #4BarFriday campaign in the first place. Lillard created the hashtag on Instagram for users to post their best mini-freestyles on Instagram to be chosen as a weekly winner. It’s been a wild success, and something that no other NBA rapper could have pulled off. Lillard’s passion for making music and reaching out to his fans seems truly genuine. If Kobe ever decided to get really serious about rapping and did this, he’d wind up getting into lengthy #4BarFriday beefs with random users until he quit and admit that Lillard is infinitely better than them at rapping.

So, is Damian Lillard the best rapper to ever play in the NBA? Well, if we disqualify Master P, Velvet Hoop and everyone who appeared in this absolutely perfect Converse Weapon commercial, then definitely. Lillard’s smooth flow and rhymed brimming with passion is what sets him apart from other past basketball rappers. The strongest argument I can make for Lillard is this: a rapper never truly arrives until a song of theirs is used to soundtrack an athlete’s highlight reel on YouTube. In Lillard’s case, he’s his own soundtrack.

Check out his Soundcloud for more of his songs:

 

FLUME GETS UNDER YOUR SKIN
July 22, 2016 4:20 pm

Electronica, Dubstep, Trap, House and Dance are some of your standard groupings for modern EDM. Flume seems to achieve a transcendence of all this while mixing in some profoundly experimental sounds and strong hip-hop elements. His newest album Skin is this great achievement. Suffering from a handful of small issues throughout the album, Flume still brings new life to the genre.

Born in Australia, Harley Streten began making music with a basic production disc found inside his cereal box at 13 years old. At the age of 21, his first album, self-titled Flume, was put out through Future Classic and the next year, 2013, it had a strong US release. With songs like Some Minds that came out in 2015, tours and popular remixes, Streten has been one active young man.

This brings us to Skin. I’ll be upfront, it isn’t my favorite of all his music, but this does not mean that it doesn’t have some seriously impressive tracks that will find their ways to my personal playlists.

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From the beginning of Skin, songs like “Helix” and “Numb & Getting Colder” really show off his deep dedication to EDM and the art of music. He throws out the standard formula of builds and drops on many tracks for progressive pieces that feature very unique sounds and samples. Just like Skrillex and Daft Punk have explored what sounds can be made inside of software programs, Streten brings some surprisingly new sounds to the world. Listen to “Lose It”, “Free” and “Innocence” to better understand this impressive creative nature he has deep in him.

This is the main strength of the album, the ability to meld different sounds and use various samples in odd and interesting ways you’ve never imagined would work so well together. Flume is also a master of bass, seriously, your subwoofer probably hasn’t worked this hard in a long time. With pounds of drums and ambient bass lines, I haven’t heard songs with beautiful bass lines like this since Deadmau5’s 4×4=12.   

He also mixes in a lot more hip-hop than I expected and it makes his music even more appealing and more addictive. You Know is such a progressive hip-hop/rap dedicated piece, if it weren’t for the other similar songs, you wouldn’t believe it was actually on Skin. My favorite on the album is Smoke and Retribution featuring Vince Staples and Kučka, its rhythm is so strong and the pauses with light synth parts is downright powerful.

Skin takes some dedicated time to understand and appreciate. It does something that I haven’t seen anywhere else using very different tones and genre melding tracks even including the infamous Beck. It is a hit and miss though, some tracks are great and appeal to everyone, but others might be only attractive to a select few. But if you like any kind of EDM, you’ll find a new favorite song from Flume.

WAKING UP NEXT TO JON BELLION: THE HORROR
July 12, 2016 6:04 pm

Jon Bellion is a singer songwriter hailing from Lake Grove, New York. When I first came across Bellion, I admit I did not know quite what to think. Heavily tattooed with perfectly stylized hair, Bellion easily resembles the female adolescent standard of beauty; dangerous on the outside, sweet and sensitive on the inside. Within that curated image however, lies an individual deserving of critical acclaim for his hard work and true talent.

Suspending disbelief long enough to dive into the actual music, I was careful to not jump into the position of “overly critical.” After all, the most lauded critic is still well below the worst artist. What are my qualifications to raise up or bring down someone desperately trying to be heard and to find like minded people to empathize with? None at all, besides being a person with strong opinions and an old Macbook, really.

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Nonetheless, I admittedly did not like Bellion at first take. Between the heavy pandering to his fan-base in terms of appearance and musical content and the pop vibe that comes across stronger in his later works, Bellion is up there with N*SYNC and One Direction on the list of artists catering to the mainstream. But even saying that while looking at Bellion’s entire discography, he has always held strong onto his own individual core. He was more acoustic early on, as well as mixing in some hip-hop and electronic. Talking with my friends and colleagues about him, both male and female instantly recognized his name as well as his place in pop music history. While he may not be the number one crooner floating off the radio waves (never say never, stranger things have happened), Bellion has solidified himself in a position of authority and minor prestige.

Bellion initially rose to fame in 2013 when he wrote the chorus for the 2013 hit song “The Monster by Eminem feat. Rihanna. After that, he snagged two lengthy tours playing shows and building a name for himself. After four mixtapes, he was ready to release his first album this year.

It cannot be denied that Bellion has a sickeningly nice voice. He rides and flows over the beat, whether it be cotton candy pop, EDM, or hip-hop. The disappointing aspect of that is listening to his 2016 album The Human Condition, and bearing witness to Bellion’s prodigious use of auto-tune and tools of that ilk. It screams inauthentic in my eyes to blend a powerful voice like that in order to appeal to the many instead of the few. While his choice of song naming might not win any awards (lead singles being “All Time Low,” “Maybe IDK,” and “Woke the Fuck Up“), the actual content is easy on the ears. Incredibly catchy and rhythmic, Bellion has great studios and producers backing him.

With all this, Bellion’s music does not appeal to me due to the fact that I am not his targeted audience. Among those chosen by him, his producers, or whatever other sonic mastermind lurks in the dark corner of the studio, Bellion is wildly popular. That is my critique as well as my lament: I can’t relate to him because he chose to present himself in such a way that only those mirroring his minor Twitter trials and tribulations can relate to.

The Human Condition was released June 10th of this year. Pick it up off iTunes and give it a shot for yourself.

*Last minute edit and embarrassing confession: After writing this review I found myself repeatedly listening to “Woke the Fuck Up,” despite my feelings that it has a subjectively stupid name and sample in the hook. Its frustratingly catchy.

 

THE PHILANTHROPIC POETRY OF NAS
June 30, 2016 1:26 pm

Who’s World is This? (The World is Yours The World is Yours) It’s Mine It’s Mine It’s Mine, Who’s World is This?

This year, the world clearly belongs to Nas. Everyone else is just living in it.

Nasir Jones–better known by his stage name Nas–is consistently ranked among the top rappers of all time. He’s been spitting bricks about social justice for minorities and growing up in the Queensbridge housing projects since he dropped his 1994 Illmatic, an essential hip-hop classic. Since then seven of his records have been certified platinum–he is an undisputed master, an urban poet laureate.

Even Harvard University can’t deny his profound impact on culture.

In 2013, Nas forged a partnership with the Ivy League School, thus establishing the Nasir Jones Hip Hop Fellowship with the broad intention of funding scholars and artists who demonstrate exceptional creative ability in the arts, in connection with Hip Hop. Now I know what your thinking–Harvard?! But hip-hop is less than 50 years old, has introduced sampling to the general collective conscious, and has been a key factor in not only enabling people of all backgrounds to think critically about society, but also acting as a tool for minorities to offer a strong sense of community and an expression of life through the eyes of the silenced. The Hip Hop Archive & Research Institute and the W. E. B. Du Bois Research Institute will utilize the fellowship to bring in hip hop talent, fund projects, and allow the next generation of underprivileged poets to reach the pinnacle of academic achievement. It doesn’t stop there. In addition to helping pave the way for the next generation of hip-hop talent, Nas also wants to shake up the white and male-dominated tech sphere.

Nas isn’t alone in his assertion that Silicon Vally doesn’t have a diverse enough workplace–especially when you factor in that California is also one of the most diverse states in the country. Even Google admitted they needed to work on diversity when they released this report a few years ago. Then in 2014, the Internet services giant, along with Nas and software mainstay Microsoft, began collaboratively funding an initiative by The General Assembly (GA). The New York-based vocational program specializes in providing scholarships to underrepresented African Americans, Latinos and women that want to persuit a career in software engineering and web design. Pretty cool stuff Nas.

If you’re still unimpressed, Nas isn’t done giving back quite yet either. Nas will be hosting a free music festival for you New Yorkers this summer! In collaboration with his own Mass Appeal Magazine, Live At The BBQ will feature Ty Dolla $ign, DJ Shadow, Danny Brown, and Machine Gun Kelly.