The Incorporated is a clothing brand, but more than that, we are a group of kids that are deadset on never growing up. Born in Seattle and now located in Portland, the northwest is our home, and its trees, forests, lakes, rivers and streets are our playgrounds.
So welcome to The Incorporated’s 15 cents, where we chronicle our journey to make a dollar out of just a dime and a nickel.
“June 18th, 2013, the Day Hip-Hop (Hopefully) Wakes Up”
For many folks in Portland, this day will go on as any other does. Album releases from Sigur Ros and Empire of the Sun (as well as probably the latest local garage pop group) will have some folks excited, but not even the plaid-clad coffee drinkers at heart cannot escape the hip-hop eclipse that is set to veil the music world this Tuesday. Albums from rappers J. Cole (signed to Jay-Z), Mac Miller (yes, the white kid with an MTV show) and none other than music's most polarizing genius, Kanye West, will meet on the Billboard charts to battle for pop music's hearts (and wallets). Although we are not yet ready to compare this day with some of hip-hop's most memorable, such as November 9, 1993, when the Wu-Tang clan, Snoop Dogg and A Tribe Called Quest all dropped classic albums, I am excited for my upcoming trip to the record store on June 18th, and hope that you will be too.
*Disclaimer* For many years, we refused to listen to leaks of any of my favorite artist's albums before they were officially released. However, now, we are much less idealistic and broke down and downloaded both J. Cole's and Mac Miller's albums. But we swear we're still going to buy them! (or at least listen on Spotify...)
If you have heard of Mac Miller, you probably did so from a friend you lost to a U of O fraternity or your 14-year-old cousin. His freshman effort, Blue Slide Park, was a hip-pop effort focused on red cups and pseudo-EDM beats. 2 years and a move (from native Pittsburgh to LA) later, and he is ready for his re-introduction to the game. Hanging with the Odd Future and Black Hippy crews and handling most of the production himself, his sound has matured to a complex mix of lyricism and synth layering. A long-shot from his party-heavy first album, Watching Movies combines production from Mac, Pharrell, Diplo and Flying Lotus with intellectual barrages of rhyming, unique and refreshing content and sometimes even (effect assisted) singing. Definitely worth a listen, this album will piss off his current fans, surprise any previous haters and impress anyone new to the young MC.
After 3 great mixtapes, 1 so-so album and a handful of classic features over J. Cole's career thus far, he still seems to have something to prove. On Born Sinner, we think he does just that. Signed to Jay-Z's label, every comparison has already been made between the two, but so far Cole has not lived up, something you can tell is looming behind every verse on the album. Listening through the album once, you can tell that he wants you to know a few things: One, he can make one hell of a beat (Cole produced 90% of the album and does not disappoint). Two, he has not made his best album yet, and he apologizes for making sacrifices in order to appeal to a wider audience. On "Let Nas Down" he describes getting word that Nas hated his first single and how that affected his new found mindset. Third, he wants you to know that this is the album you've been waiting for. His beats are great and show progression from his previous work, but his lyrics take the spotlight. With no other rap features on the album (guests include TLC, Miguel and Kendrick Lamar), Cole points the spotlight directly on himself, hoping not to prove anything to anyone but himself. Whether you have heard his past work or not, forget it, because Born Sinner is the album J. Cole finally wants you to hear.
As Kanye West's number one fan and supporter, even we shook my head when we saw the title. "Here we go again...," we said to ourselves. However, after hearing him explain it ("West was my slave name, Yeezus is my God name.") and giving it some reflection, we are excited to hear how he backs up this title. Having somehow escaped the leak epidemic that seems to have infected every major album release for the last 5 years, as well as building hype with a grassroots marketing campaign that included premiering his new music video on the walls of major buildings across the world, the mix of hype and curiosity surrounding "Yeezus" is as exciting as any of Kanye's past work. He premiered "New Slaves" and "Black Skinhead" on SNL a few weeks ago, presenting his new stlye of distorted vocals, tribal drums and dark imagery that he calls, "aspirational minimalism." There isn't even any album art for God's sake, just a blank jewel case and cd with the message "Please Add Graffiti." The true message, however, is that Kanye is sick of the BS and is prepared to speak (or scream) his mind on Yeezus, "If I don’t scream, if I don’t say something, then no one’s going to say anything, you know?" Working with an unbelievably varied mix of artists such as Daft Punk, Rick Rubin, Chief Keef, Kid Cudi and Bon Iver, no one can be sure what they are going to get, but almost everyone is curious to find out. So before you get lost on his past run-ins with Taylor Swift and George W. Bush, his vanity, his reality star soon-to-be mother of his child, and whatever else you read on TMZ today, pop Yeezus into the CD deck (ok, ok, press play on the mp3s...) and give Kanye's new work a chance. Whether or not you like it, it's sure to be full of many more of e favorite "Did you hear what Kanye said..." moments.
So hit the local record store, Best Buy, iTunes, Spotify or even uTorrent this Tuesday and give all of these cats a listen. While we won't promise you'll dig it all, we guarantee you will be surprised by these 3 hip-hop records that show a great deal of progression for both the artists and the genre in general.Hit us up at @theinc206x503 or facebook and let us know who had the best record!