Over the weekend he was the man of the hour as host of the big 2014 BET Hip Hop Awards. Meanwhile his studio output is a non stop laundry list of releases that boasts countless collaborations with anyone from indie rappers to pop stars. A couple of weeks ago I heard the new track he collaborated with Bay Area female vocalist Goapele on (a remix of the Oakland singer's disco-throwback styled single "Hey Boy"). Around that same time I heard excerpts from his fifth and latest in the Thats My Work mix tape series with Tha Dogg Pound (Kurupt and Daz Dillinger, along with production from DJ Drama). Then over the weekend I was reading somewhere that he recently confirmed that he's got a collaborative full length project in the works with Pharrell (with whom he has done one off tracks with before including the 2004 hit single "Drop It Like It's Hot").
The new single from Kendrick Lamar is an upbeat ode to keeping your chin up when everything's trying to tear you down.
"How many times the city makin' me promises?" he raps over a sample of The Isley Brothers' "That Lady" before declaring "I love myself." It's a song closer in vibe to Pharrell's "Happy" than a song like his own alcoholism-laden "Swimming Pools," the lead single from his last album, good kid, m.A.A.d city. But Lamar promises in an interview with Rolling Stone that the follow-up to that album will have more tales of growing up in Compton that couldn't fit on m.A.A.d city. Sessions continue for the new album, and a release date has yet to be announced.
Speaking of m.A.A.d city, the album is enjoying neo-classic status, having been named the second best album of the 2010s by Pitchfork.
Hear "i" below:
Better late than never then those listeners are discovering the power duo of Organized Konfusion in their young days - Pharoah Monch and Prince Po. The album, which the two also produced, just focuses on the mic talents of the two members and is not weighed down with a multitude of mic guests to distract from the duo itself. The exception to the rule was guest O.C. of DITC fame who makes a cameo on the single "Fudge Pudge." Other undeniably great album tracks include "Walk Into The Sun," "Releasing Hypnotical Gases," "Audience Pleasers," "Prisoners of War," "Organized Konfusion," and the single "Who Stole My Last Piece of Chicken" (see video below).
Three years later in 1994 Organized Konfusion returned with the follow up album, Stress: The Extinction Agenda, which was another great album. Commercially it even did better than their debut but this 1991 album remains their greatest work.
Both rappers had drawn inspiration for their names from the 1975 movie Let's Do It Again and its character Biggie Smalls that was played by Calvin Lockhart. So by the time the Biggie born Christopher Wallace arrived on the rap map the other Biggy Smallz was already out there releasing hip-hop singles including 1993's "Cruisin" which, like 1994's "Nobody Rides For Free," was also produced by Johnny "J" who was also producing for 2Pac - an affiliation that he is best known for. Reportedly it was Tupac Shakur who asked Christopher Wallace to change his name from Biggie Smalls to avoid confusion with his Thug Life buddy Biggy. Hence Christopher Wallace officially became The Notorious B.I.G. before releasing his major label debut. Although since some have suggested that it was not Pac's request for the name change but rather fear of legal copyright infringement from the producers of the Let's Do It Again movie that was the real reason for Wallace changing his name.