20 Watts

20 Watts Reviews The Game’s “I’m So Wavy”
July 20, 2009, 8:50 pm
Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: , , ,

“I’m So Wavy” – The Game

The Game has a history of picking fights with some of hip-hop’s best, and this time he has chosen a new rival — Jay-Z. Game’s latest track, “I’m So Wavy,” has an incredibly funky feel, with cutting guitar and a horn section that would drive most fans crazy. However, Game’s rhymes are outdated and overplayed. He doesn’t have the intensity that a credible diss should. It plays more like a jealous song, since it appears that all The Game wants is to be as big as Jay. The Game also takes cheap shots as Kanye West’s girl, Amber Rose, while saying that Kanye’s “his boy.”

Go home Game, you’ve played yourself.

— Zach Goldstein


20 Watts Reviews Q-Tip at Central Park Summerstage, 7/18/09
July 20, 2009, 8:35 pm
Filed under: Scene Around Town | Tags: , , , , ,

Q-Tip played a passionate, energetic set at Central Park on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Peter Ruprecht.

If there had been a roof at Central Park’s Summerstage last Saturday,  Q-Tip would have brought it crashing down.

The Queens-bred rapper has always been an innovator when it comes to hip-hop. From his early days with A Tribe Called Quest to his solo career, Q-Tip has demonstrated an unrivaled talent for taking bits and pieces from all different styles, blending them into unusual, envelope-pushing compositions.

But as good as Q-Tip is on record, his live show — a topsy-turvey journey through old and new songs — is even better.  Q-Tip rapped with poise and passion, spitting every line like he felt it. He danced and jumped across the stage with an energy level unparalleled in this day and age.  And his live band added a dimension that isn’t usually heard in a genre so predictably mechanical.

Q-Tip started his set with “Good Thang” from his newest album, The Renaissance. He then launched into the Tribe Called Quest favorite “Oh My God.” The crowd was really feeling it and wasn’t afraid to let it show, jumping  around and rapping every line to their favorite songs.

Q-Tip stopped rapping for a moment in the middle of his set to do a mini-James Brown tribute by dropping to his knees as he DJ ran over and put a cape on him. Q-Tip also gave shout-outs to his good friends J Dilla and Michael Jackson. He even went as far as to open “Move” with The Jack 5’s “Dancing Machine.”

Diddy even showed up for a brief moment to get into the action but quickly retired backstage after jumping around with Q-Tip and the band. The set ended, all too soon, but Q-Tip wasted no time running back onstage for a two-song encore of “Gettin’ Up” and “Life Is Better.” He came into the crowd for a sing-along of his last song, as his band grooved on the beat for about 10 minutes of beautiful soul.

— Zach Goldstein

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20 Watts Reviews Lupe Fiasco’s “Shining Down” and Naledge’s “Chicago Picasso”
July 16, 2009, 3:27 am
Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: , , ,

Provoking lyrics and a decent beat round out Lupe's latest single

“Shining Down” feat. Matthew Santos – Lupe Fiasco

Melting hip-hop and rock with a hint of soul, Chicago hip-hop artist Lupe Fiasco‘s newest single “Shining Down” reiterates the point that Lupe is one of the more underrated lyricists of our time.

The beat is composed mostly of a piercing electric guitar, keyboard and a tight bass line. Matthew Santos, a familiar voice on Lupe tracks, does a great job mellowing out the beat while increasing the intensity with his unique, soulful voice. A string section breaks the monotony for a brief moment late in the track and underscores Lupe’s words. Although the beat can get fairly monotonous, it does give listeners the context to understand everything he is trying to say.

Fiasco’s words are the highlight of this track and should be the focus of all of his songs. He has an incredible knack for telling stories through rap, and unlike most other artists, he rarely curses except to make a point.

Overall, this track has gotten me excited: Lupe Fiasco is back to being Lupe and using his new-school style to break the mold. Hopefully, people will listen to what he has to say.

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Music Video Spotlight: Raekwon’s “The New Wu”
July 15, 2009, 1:23 pm
Filed under: Music Videos | Tags: , , , , , , ,

The New Wu feat. Ghostface Killah & Method Man – Raekwon

Ghostface Killah, Method Man and Raekwon.  What’s not to like about this line-up from three members of the Wu-Tang Clan?

This video takes place in two different settings: on the streets and in the club. On the streets Raekwon is being spied on by the cops. He captures one of them and threatens to kill him (that’s the extent of the plot). In the club, it’s a big party with many special guests — like RZA, The Alchemist, MoeRoc and Mad Linx, to name a few.

Of course, no video would be complete without a few product placements, too.  The most notable occurs around 1:30 on the bottom right of the screen — there’s a guy wearing a Louis Vuitton jacket and hat, which is worth well over $2,000.

— Zach Goldstein

Music Video Spotlight: Jay-Z’s D.O.A.

Hip-hop videos are, occasionally, a little too hip to handle.  In this feature, 20 Watts’ resident expert analyzes all the product placements and cameos that make hip-hop and rap videos so crazy — and that make modern rap culture so intriguing.

Jay, Keitel & The King

Jay-Z has decided to swing a wrecking ball through hip-hop with his newest release “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune).”  He is taking no prisoners and has no problems calling out some of today’s hottest acts for being too soft. Other than the fact that he murders this track, there are some really cool things about his newest video.

The car being driven in the first scene is a Rolls Royce Phantom and despite the fact that it’s a decently nice car, the most interesting thing is the license plate. The front plate, which only appears for a quick second, is clearly a London plate. This is only odd because the rest of the video takes place in New York.

The driver who lets Jay-Z out of the car is Lyor Cohen. Cohen is the current chairman and CEO for Warner Music Group and has been responsible for breaking an incredible list of acts including Beastie Boys, Nas and Run-DMC.

Jay is later rapping in a jazz club and taking a shots of Patrón.  Now I’m no expert but I believe that it’s Patrón Añejo.

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20 Watts Reviews Wu-Tang Clan’s “Chamber Music”
wu tang

Wu-Tang Clan is back with hits from RZA and others

PREVIEW: Download Wu-Tang Clan, “Radiant Jewels” MP3
PREVIOUS WU-TANG COVERAGE: GZA at Cornell, GZA’s Pro Tools, Ghostface Killah’s Chinatown Wars

Wu-Tang Clan never cared about their stake in popular culture. Nor have they ever changed their style or sound, unlike many other hip-hop groups just trying to get to the top of the charts. Aside from RZA’s bizarre love for kung fu flicks, Wu Tang’s sound continues to impress with distorted drums and unique instruments.

The supporting cast on this album stands tall, and the fact that GZA, Method Man and Masta Killa don’t make an appearance doesn’t change a thing.  This is Wu-Tang, the largest hip-hop family of all time coming back, swinging hard and taking no prisoners. There are new guests on this album and this group of “young bloods” fascinates me to no end. The rappers and the beats mesh perfectly for a mix of old and new.

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Releases of the Week: Santigold & Eminem
April 19, 2009, 8:37 pm
Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: , ,

6a00d8341ca4b653ef0111685d1a88970c-800wiSantigold – iTunes Live From SoHo

Santigold is one of the more interesting and colorful bands of the alternative world. Front woman, Santi White offers a very unique blend of sounds and beats to create a strange but enjoyable ambiance. It floats throughout all of her songs and masks this singer/ songwriter in a kind of mysterious haze that can only occasionally be penetrated. She is something to be reckoned with and this live performance tests her showmanship.

Santigold’s most recognized song, “L.E.S. Artistes” is an incredible live track. The electronic synthesizers, guitar, bass and hard drums mix with White’s voice and lyrics to create an incredibly unique sound. Although she doesn’t have the greatest voice, she knows her range and doesn’t try to overshoot it. And the range  and intensity make her sound more like a man. She does a great job interacting with her audience and flows flawlessly from song to song.

The album is a great preview of what’s to come from this very experimental and interesting group. The live show is personal and Santigold creates a vibe that rivals some of the greatest grunge acts from the 90’s.

Best Track: “My Superman”

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