Archive for the Music Category

#NowReading: Born To Use Mics–Reading Nas’ Illmatic

Posted in Music, New Product, Politics on August 14, 2010 by multitudenyc

Written By: Michael Eric Dyson

(Via Daily Mathematics):

Released in the twilight of rap’s golden era, Illmatic is widely considered to be the greatest hip hop album of all time and is frequently held as the yardstick by which all other contenders are measured. Illmatic was also one of the most anticipated albums, dropping three years after Nas’s breakout introduction on “Live at the Barbeque” and subsequent tracks (“Halftime” from the Zebrahead soundtrack and “Back to the Grill” off MC Serch’s solo debut). During this period of eager hope, Nasir bin Olu Dara earned praise as the second coming of Rakim, with bits of Kool G Rap, Big Daddy Kane, Q-Tip, Chuck D and Slick Rick notably embedded in his style. Before he even dropped his album, Nas – a teenager at the time – was viewed as a hip hop prophet. At twenty years of age, Nas released Illmatic, epitomizing the expression “show and prove.” Over fifteen years after its release, Illmatic continues to engulf fervent discussions in contemporary rap circles. Borrowing its title from a line in “N.Y. State of Mind”, Born to Use Mics: Reading Nas’s Illmatic is the first in a series of anthologies centered on classic rap records.

A literary scrapbook of sorts, Born to Use Mics observes Illmatic through a panoramic lens, with a roster of talented writers taking an all-encompassing snapshot of the making and meaning behind Nas’s ’94 opus. Various broad-reaching topics are pulled from lyrical portions throughout the album. For instance, author James Braxton Peterson uniquely dissects “The World Is Yours”; drawing upon the song’s Scarface reference, Braxton assesses the analogous term “dead presidents”, describes the crack epidemic and critiques American hyper-capitalism. Similarly, Sohail Daulatzai – who is also co-editor of the book – interprets “N.Y. State of Mind” in the “post-9/11 world”, discussing American imperialism. Daulatzai points out in the introduction: “While Born to Use Mics is about exploring hip-hop through Illmatic, it’s also about exploring America through Illmatic, reflected and refracted through the prism of Nas’s poignant street poetry.”

Many of the authors’ perspectives on the album feature a political tinge, some more well-fitting than others. Discussing “One Love”, for example, Michael Eric Dyson’s criticism of America’s prison industry paired with an honest narrative of his brother’s incarceration comes across as both poignant and appropriate. On the other hand, Kyra Gaunt’s entry on “One Time 4 Your Mind” which examines gender identity and conflict, while valuable, draws more from Nas’s “I Can” music video than anything else. Consequently, her feminist dissertation – while relevant to “Nas” as an overarching topic – has nothing to do with the song it’s meant to discuss and feels more than a bit out of place.

As an anthology on the same subject with contributions from various writers, repetition isn’t uncommon. The advantage of a book like Matthew Gasteier’s Illmatic entry in the 33 1/3 book series is the singular flow of one author covering the album. Many of the contributors to Born to Use Mics rehash the same ideas frequently. For instance, Nas’s jazz-based influence from his father, Olu Dara, is commonly and repeatedly cited. At the same token, Born to Use Mics benefits from a wealth of diverse perspectives. Reading Nas’s Illmatic, with its symposium format, earns its title appropriately as each essay reflects upon the album’s impact on the writer’s life. Analyzing the lyrics of “Life’s a Bitch”, for instance, Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr.’s essay on father/son relationships titled “Time is Illmatic: A Song for My Father, A Letter to My Son” offers a true-to-form presentation of Nas’s work that’s as universal as it is personal.

Of course Born to Use Mics digs deep into the music itself as well. Marc Lamont Hill recounts the historically contextual release of “Halftime”, Nas’s debut single. Mark Anthony Neal, in his essay on “Memory Lane”, discusses the intergenerational “bridging of the gap” between jazz and hip hop. Adilifu Nama pens a thorough discussion on the 1:45-long intro “Genesis” (interestingly enough, the last track recorded for Illmatic), focusing on its cryptically-revealing dialogue and the significance of its Wild Style influence. In addition to the song-by-song essays on the album’s track listing though, Born to Use Mics also features a hodgepodge of interviews, narratives and magazine write-ups – including The Source’s notorious 5 Mic review on Illmatic, written by Shortie (you might know her as Miss Info). The book closes out with an interview with Bobbito Garcia offering first-person accounts you’ll only find here.

Bottom line: Folks who love Illmatic will want to pick up a copy of Born to Use Mics: Reading Nas’s Illmatic to gain an even greater appreciation for Nas’s artistry – a brilliant companion to a brilliant album. And to the others who just don’t get it, you’ll need to pick this up in order to understand why you’re dead wrong. Because really, it ain’t hard to tell.




Multitude OnDeck: Ashaya Robinson @lamontmarcus @itsmeashaya

Posted in Music, New Product on August 14, 2010 by multitudenyc

This Atlanta-born songbird hums angelic melodies inspired by many of soul music’s greatest live vocalists–igniting a powerful sound embodying an apparent depth required to withstand the demanding notes of a classic love ballad–yet fragile and versatile enough to harmonize the everyday experiences of the average adolescent woman. Emerging into the realm of rising artists to watch–Ashaya’s vision to shed light and sing sincere stories from her soul for the world to engage makes this SoulStar a special seed planted into the soil of popular music–the next step is watching her grow. #PEEP our OnDeck interview:

OnDeck: Ashaya Robinson

Name: Ashaya
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
Current City: Washington DC (Graduate of Howard University– B.A in Radio Television– concentration in Film Production)
Genre: R&B
Members(If Group): SOLO
Website: and

(Multitude) Q: Who are your Influences?:

(ASHAYA): Musically– soulful powerhouse singers. I have always loved to hear the power and strength in someone’s voice. I would emulate singers like Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and Patti LaBelle–all my favorite singers. I think the common thread with each of these ladies is that they can stand on the stage with just a mic on a stand and deliver an incredible performance. I didn’t really have vocal training until my teens, so I would study these artist’s. I would listen to the studio recorded version of a song– learn that from back to front– then find a live version of the same song to study the way they would sing it then. My dad also influenced my appreciation for all different types of music. He introduced me to most of the “timeless pieces”– my favorite songs like Love Love Love by Donny Hathaway, Mothership Connection by Parliament, and introduced me to jazz greats like Charlie Parker to Public Enemy. I’ve been blessed to have very eclectic sounds in my house growing up.

(Multitude): Q: What Inspires your music?

(ASHAYA): I would say that real life inspires my music–more specifically, my album Jukebox Remedy is a real life story. When I first sat down and decided I really wanted to go forth with recording a full length album, I knew that it had to be something I would listen to. So I started putting a playlist of some of my favorite songs together and analyzed them trying to figure out what made that song amongst my list of favorite songs. What I found that each song had in common was all stemming from a real emotion– a true story– something I could relate to, if not personally, in some way indirectly. I set out to make music that people relate to, that simply reflects life. Honest emotions inspire my music.

(Multitude) Q: What is themessage behind your music?:

(ASHAYA): I honestly just want to make positive music. The message is that every situation is meant to be– leading you into the next phase of your life better prepared.

(Multitude) Q: What do you bring to the World of Music?:

(ASHAYA): I think I bring a different sound to the world of music. Although I have certainly been influenced by each of the amazing artists I afore mentioned, I think I have been able to fuse everything I love from different genres into my music–in such a way that it creates something totally unique to myself.

(Multitude) Q: Independent or Major?:

(ASHAYA):  Independent ( difficult yet rewarding when it comes to the creative process)

(Multitude) Q: Love/Hate The Current State of Music? Why?:

(ASHAYA): (Ummm…) I think it is a love/hate relationship for me actually. I have never been someone to speak badly on someone else’s art form–if that’s what you do more power to you– However, I do wish that there were more artists highlighted who take an interest in what is going on in their own communities. [There’s] Nothing wrong with having a good time– So i’m not knocking club music. But music is also supposed to ignite and inspire change and forward movement. I have a song on my album called Beauty in Me that I hope inspires a certain level of confidence in one’s self that I believe is necessary to really reach all that you aspire to be.

(Multitude) Q: Projects Available/Coming Soon?:

(ASHAYA): My debut single, “XOXO” is available for download and my album JukeBox Remedy will be available at the end of August.

(Multitude) Q: Would Love to work with?:

(ASHAYA): I would love to work with Diane Warren, she is one of the most amazing songwriters I’ve ever heard of. I would also love to work with Brandy as a vocal arranger on a song–she truly has an incredible ear for vocal arrangement.

(Multitude) Q: Goals:

(ASHAYA): I just want to make timeless music–something that can be appreciated now but doesn’t depreciate in value later.

(Multitude) Q: This journey/process has taught me______?:

(ASHAYA): This journey in following my dream to be a singer/songwriter has taught me that it is not for the faint of heart. Off stage i’m a very reserved/ quiet person. My mom told me when I was discussing with her my plans to release an album, that I should be ready to have thick skin, and that everybody is not going to be your biggest fan. Some people will act as though they are while you’re experiencing success–but the moment you stumble they are no where in sight. She just told me to be aware of that. Going after this career has really taught me to be confident and believe in myself and the talent and will power that God has granted me.

(Multitude) Q: Advice/Encouragement for others:

(ASHAYA): If you don’t believe in you….then that’s step one. Be confident, yet humbled enough to hear constructive criticism.

FOLLOW Ashaya & Producer(XOXO) Lamont Marcus –>> @ItsMeAshaya @lamontmarcus


Smoke In The Heir: Wiz Khalifa–Never Been [NEW VIDEO] @therealwizkhalifa

Posted in Music, New Product, Video on August 10, 2010 by multitudenyc

#PEEP the new video for Never Been from Mr. Paper Planes  and Taylor Gang lieutenant Wiz Khalifa –featured on his highly acclaimed street success Kush & Orange Juice. Wiz’s candid wordplay and G-inspired penmanship place him among the top artists to arrive and finally receive his just due.




Roger That: Tyga ft. Lil Wayne–Im On It [NEW VIDEO] @tyga

Posted in Music, New Product, Video on August 10, 2010 by multitudenyc

#PEEP the new video for the raw anthem-ready record I’m On It from Young Money misfit Tyga featuring bars from Big Brother Lil Wayne–Feeling the success of the Chris Brown assisted Fan of a Fan Mixtape and a newly established rapport between the Cash Money kid and once-skeptical critics alike shows signs that Tyga is earning his stripes and next to let loose alongside label mate Nikki Minaj.


Kingdom Come: Kanye West–POWER [Video]

Posted in Art, Design, Music, New Product, Video on August 6, 2010 by multitudenyc

#PEEP Kanye West’s much anticipated video for his first single POWER:

Description (Via SPEAKEASY):

In Kanye West’s new video “Power,” directed by artist Marco Brambilla, the rapper aims to make an artwork come to life. “It’s not a video .. It’s a moving Painting!!!” Kanye tweeted about an hour ago.

The clip begins with an up-close shot of Kanye West and pans out to reveal a neoclassical living portrait of the rapper surrounded by supernatural figures from various historical eras, including horned women, winged women and dudes with swords. The clip has the feel of a slow-motion Roman orgy, with West being the Caesar at the center. And then, 90 seconds into the song, that’s it. Painting gone. You have to hope there will be an extended version to see soon.

Brambilla is an Italian-born Canadian artist who received wide acclaim for his 2009 video installation “Civilization.” (He also incongruously directed the 1993 action movie “Demolition Man” starring Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes. I guess an artist has to eat.) A major retrospective of Brambilla’s work is scheduled for display at the Santa Monica Museum of Art in 2011.

West has worked with other top-tier visual artists in the past, including Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, who designed the artwork for his album “Graduation.”

The new video reportedly drew on Michelangelo’s frescos for inspiration. But surely if the painter of the Sistine Chapel had done this music video, it would have been much longer.



NY Minute: Marsha Ambrosius–I Hope She Cheats On You [NEW MUSIC]

Posted in Music, New Product, Video on August 6, 2010 by multitudenyc

After seeing her soulful serenade of raw emotion-infused ballads and soft angelic harmonies live at SOB’s 3 months ago, it is safe to say the songbird side of Floetry is back–Bold, Beautiful, and equipped with a renewed creative energy sure to touch spirits, shed truth, and win a few hearts in the process.

#PEEP her latest single I Hope She Cheats On You (With a Basketball Player) and check the description via Rap-Up:

After lending her vocals to dozens of records and releasing her own albums with Floetry, Marsha Ambrosius goes at it alone on “Hope She Cheats on You (With a Basketball Player),” the first single off her forthcoming J Records debut Late Nights & Early Mornings, due October 26. Collaborations with Alicia Keys, Dre & Vidal, and Just Blaze are featured on the set.

The soulful songstress describes the mid-tempo record as “the reality of a bad break up.” She continues, “We wanna be decent human beings and say the right thing, you know, ‘I wish you well.’ But this is ‘Everything that could go wrong for him, I want it to because my ego is bruised and I’m acting out.’”

Official Song

SOB’s Live Perforomance


Heat or FAN?: Soulja Boy–F.A.N.S. Freestyle

Posted in Music, New Product, Video on August 5, 2010 by multitudenyc

This Just In: Stuntin superstar and hip hop tween King Soulja Boy has always received consistent criticism for sub-par prose in his bars and a lazy lyrical delivery that many legends and die-hard fans alike claim “killed hip hop”. BUT recently, Deandre Way has found a major one–dropping consecutive freestyle videos using classic feel-good production to compliment better wordplay and positive tone–including the repetition of “blessed” which he now spreads across his twitter page to fans worldwide. Sam Cooke?–Change Gon Come? I think it’s definitely a step up.

#PEEP his latest F.A.N.S. FreestyleHEAT or FAN?: