2007: It's A Wrap!

J-A-Y in Vegas 12.30.07 (Photo courtesy of 40/40 Club)

Well I suppose this year was once again about Hov, but who didn't see it coming? Would you drop an album like Kingdom Come and then escape your way out the game, all the while selling a good amount of bullshit over at Def Jam? Lucky Jay-Z. He was two for two this year. He dropped a pretty decent album in American Gangster, (but only because Frank Lucas inspired him?) and resigned from his post of El Presidente over at DJ. Sadly, his daily break room rendesvous with Rhianna just wasn't cutting it anymore.

In all seriousness, congrats to Jay. He's still one of my favorite emcees and apparently had a great show in Vegas on Saturday night with my favorite drummer, ?uestlove, and a whole buncha special guests. Also, he's opening another 40/40 over there on the West Coast, so he's certainly still successful. 

I know, I promised some sort of mix/countdown. Interestingly enough, I tried both. And...both failed. (The mix was unbearable to listen to, and it's probably because I was nervous for last night's Lakers-Celtics match-up. All good, the C's won by 19; I see you Eric!) 

I started the countdown last night at 2:30 a.m. It was going pretty well until I started seeing doubles of Stuart Scott on an early morning airing of Sportscenter, and realized I needed to stop. But when I got upstairs, I just happened to find the 1st episode of Season 5 of The Wire. And for those of you who are about to scold me for bootlegging, please check HBO On-Demand for The Wire 51. 

In place of a mix/countdown, a ton of lists! Please feel free to email me (jbenok@gwu.edu) for links to anything you don't have.)

GROUP A (Best Hip Hop Album 07)
1. Little Brother - Getback
2. Blu & Exile - Below The Heavens
3. DJ Jazzy Jeff - The Return of the Magnificent 
4. CunninLynguists - Dirty Acres
5. Evidence - The Weatherman LP
6. Pharoahe Monch - Desire
7. Kanye West - Graduation
8. Common - Finding Forever
9. Talib Kweli - EarDrum
10. Panacea - The Scenic Route

GROUP B (Best Hip Hop Song 07)
1. UGK - International Players Anthem (feat. Outkast)
2. Jay-Z - Roc Boys (And The Winner Is)
3. Little Brother - When Everything Is New
4. CunninLynguists - Yellow Lines (feat. Witchdoctor & Phonte)
5. Blu & Exile - Dancing In The Rain
6. Atmosphere - Sunshine
7. Kanye West - Everything I Am
8. Kanye West, Nas, Rakim, KRS One - Classic (DJ Premier Remix)
9. Wale - Ice Cream Girl
10. Lupe Fiasco - Paris, Tokyo

GROUP C (Top Artist 07)
1. Little Brother
2. Wale
3. Kanye West
4. Lupe Fiasco (The comeback, people, the comeback)
5. Blu
6. Tanya Morgan
7. Panacea
8. CunninLynguists
9. Zo!
TIE 10. Atmosphere & Evidence

GROUP D (Artists for 08)
1. Foreign Exchange (Phonte and Nicolay)
2. Wale
3. Zo!
4. Tanya Morgan
5. Muhsinah
6. Nicolay & Kay
7. Termanology
8. Rhymefest
9. Jay Electronica
10. DVS

GROUP E (Best Remix/Remake 07)
1. Tigallo and Zo! - Take On Me (feat. Carlitta Durand)
2. Wale - W.A.L.E.D.A.N.C.E.
3. Evidence - Let Yourself Go (feat. Phonte)
4. M.I.A. - Paper Planes (feat. Bun B & Rich Boy)
5. Von Pea - Hello Brooklyn 3.0 (Jay-Z/Lil Wayne/Von Pea)
6. R. Kelly - Same Girl (feat. Usher & T-Pain)
7. Beirut - Pray (Jay-Z)
8. Beyonce - Suga Mama (feat. Consequence)
9. Lily Allen - Smile (feat. Wale)
10. Twista - Give It Up (feat. Pharrell and jben.ok)<---you will never hear this

GROUP F (Why Wale Will Win in 08)
1. Mark Ronson
2. Dan Weisman
3. His Sneaker Game
4. His Stunning Profile on WRGW Radio (Circa September 2007)
5. Remix w/ Lil Wayne
6. His Sneaker Game

GROUP G (Why Funkadelic Freestyles Will Win in 08)
TIE 1. jben.ok, Nyadenya, Eric, Nathan, & Donavan

See y'all in 2008. Remember, Funkadelic Freestyles is back January 15th. And we have a guest! But I ain't telling you who just yet. (This artist is on one of these lists!)


well, im fortunate enough to be in a warmer place then my home (NY) or school (DC).
im currently hanging out in sweet miami...was at the shore club lastnight peeping the south beach scene. anyways, heard some nice ghostface and some other crappy soulja boy but its all good.

as i was looking over the times today, yes, the new york times, i stumbled upon an interesting ARTICLE. this guy also wrote the article about pimp-c. definitely give it a view, its surprisingly long. 3 pages, impressive new york times. i like it.

here are a few things that stood out to me for those of you who are too lazy to read:

"Only one problem: After a year when the hitmaker Fabolous and the bohemian Common sold about equally, as did the BET favorite Yung Joc and the indie-rap alumnus Talib Kweli, it’s not clear that there’s still a hip-hop mainstream to be outside."    --shame
"rappers may have to reconsider their place in the universe, and their audience"   -- watch your words.
"The mainstream hip-hop industry relies on a thriving underground, but isn’t the reverse also true?"  -- very interesting

the first statement in just a sad fact about today's audience. the last statement i found very interesting, and it is definitely something to think about.

enjoy the article and happy almost new year people.
celebrate, enjoy, and PEACE.

2007: It's A Wrap Pt. 2

I literally  have nothing to do before tonight's Patriots game. Luckily, I had the brilliant idea of posting and then going to sleep.

I promised a year-end mix. I'm working on it. It's just fucking difficult to narrow down around 100 songs to around 25. If you're a true jben.ok stan, you remember my Top 50 Countdowns of 03, 04, and 05. I'm still debating doing that, but in the past, it's been slightly more mainstream. And I don't wanna do that.

Here's what I have for you now:


OMNiVerse and Funkadelic Freestyles present to you...
DVS - Nigga I Know James!!! (Produced by tREBLEFREE)
The James Brown dedication EP you need in your collection. The zshare link does NOT have enough downloads yet. Support quality, independent hip hop.


Keep it locked, 2007 mix/countdown coming soon!

who knows if this is real?

all i have to say is...

WTF nas?

12.28: Rhymefest- Man In The Mirror

It's been awhile since the hip hop world has heard from Chicago emcee Rhymefest, who released his debut album, Blue Collar, in July of 2006. I remember the first time I heard his first single, "Brand New (feat. Kanye West)", and getting really excited about the future of this rugged and raw rapper. Then his next single, "Dynomite (Going Postal)" got pressed on vinyl and when I started playing it for my friends, they insisted it be featured on their soccer warm-up tape I was putting together.

But the funny thing was, the more and more I heard from and learned about Rhymefest, (minor detail: he wrote Jesus Walks for 'Ye), the farther and farther the release date for Blue Collar got pushed back. So when it was finally in stores, I was dissatisfied. Why did he make "Devil's Pie" an album track when it sounded much better on the mixtape with D'Angelo's REAL vocals? I mean the Citizen Cope track was cool and all, but shouldn't that have been on a Citizen Cope B-Side or something? 

Look, I'm not hating. I still think Fest is even MORE than a legitimate rapper. If you don't believe me, peep this. Or this. (In case you don't like following blind links, that's some of his new shit) I'm really hoping Fest comes with something fresh for his sophomore effort, El Che, in 08. In the meantime, he and Mark Ronson thought they'd give you something to blast in the ride, bump on the speakers, for FREE.

Man in the Mirror is a mixtape that boasts Michael Jackson samples, and is rightfully-dubbed a "dedication album." Not only do we get vintage, up-lifting beats from producers like Best Kept Secret (B.K.S.) and Emile, but Rhymefest (and Mark) have a little fun with some MJ audio excerpts from some classic interviews. 

The mixtape begins with a skit, "The Cipher," as Fest begins "conversing" with Mike and each of them freestyle on top of dead air with a little beat-boxing. The actual music begins with "Can't Make It," an exciting narrative in Fest's new revolutionary tone, produced by B.K.S. (A quick note: B.K.S. is a production team from the DC Area that have produced for Funkadelic Freestyles alum Wale. Wale, of course, is on the same label as Fest, Allido Records, run by who else? Mark Ronson) 

That leads us into the next track, "Get Up (feat. Wale)," the first collaboration between the new label-mates. Both emcees tear through the track with ease, though Wale nearly steals the track with this line: "If they don't listen to you, they like Tribe to Lupe/Wale, touche." Let's hope for some new material from this duo again soon. 

Another high-profile rapper, a "little" bigger than Wale, shows up for one of my favorite samples on the entire mixtape, "Never Can Say Goodbye (feat. Talib Kweli). Kweli's got a standard guest verse here, nothing to see. Fest comes from all angles on this one, with a few notes on the police, smoking, and the past and present. A very solid effort form both emcees, and I could see this on the radio. (Okay, maybe just Pete Rosenberg late at night).

"No Sunshine" samples the Jackson 5's version of "Ain't No Sunshine," and you can thank Blue Collar-producer Emile for this one. It's a darker track, and people often miss Rhymefest when he gets serious, perhaps because of his boisterous tone of voice. But he's right on point with this one, and he reminds me how great of a storyteller he really is.

There a quite a few tracks I only have a few words to comment on. "Foolin' Around" is a pretty basic track from Mark Ronson, but really fails to capture my attention. "Quiet Storm" shows up on "Set The Mood," for no other reason than to prep "Breakadawn," a superb track featuring Allido labelmate Daniel Merriweather and alpha. "Higher" has Rhymefest playing the hype-man, as he rocks over a screaming audience from the Jackson 5 days. Two songs, "All That I've Got Is You" and "Coolie High" simply allow Fest to add a few extra verses to previously-sampled MJ hip hop cuts. 

Overall, the skits really made the mixtape. I don't think I've EVER said that when it comes to an album or a mixtape, but when you hear Rhymefest with Michael, it really sounds as though Fest is there right alongside the king of pop music. It's especially eerie on "Family Reunion" when the Jackson brothers let loose and you hear Fest singing along with them, as if he's really sitting next to Tito, Randy, and Michael at the piano. The funniest skit, hands down, has to be "Mark vs. Mike." You'll see why with the link below. 

Man In The Mirror is an excellent prelude to El Che, clearly proving Rhymefest is not out the rap game after a less-than-glorious debut release. It's evident he worships Michael Jackson, but at the same time, his charisma is versatile enough so as that  he gets to poke fun at his mysterious idol. And when he does poke fun, he's very funny. But what I'm looking for on El Che is a re-energized Rhymefest, and I think with Man In The Mirror, he's really starting to get his swagger back. 

Mark Ronson presents...Rhymefest: MAN IN THE MIRROR B+

2007: It's A Wrap Pt. 1

"And don't play: you was in your car singing 'ella, ella, ella, ay, ay'"

Hey fam, the resident mad rapper is back once again with his year-in-review, aptly titled "2007 Wrap-Up." Some people hate on Skillz for continuing to do this year after year, (I'll admit, last year's wasn't exactly flames), but he got my attention with this one. Apparently there's a video on its way as well.

One thing I've begun to notice as 2007 nears its end: I missed a whole lotta music. 
I just started listening to Radiohead.
I've only now just begun my full assault on the entire Atmosphere discography.
Never copped the new Ghostface, Styles P, or Cormega. 
And excuse my blatant hate: but who the fuck is this cocksucker

There are two artists I really missed out on in 2007 that I actually feel sick to my stomach about:

1. Evidence ~ Wow, this was a huge mistake. Let's set the scene: It was March of this year, and the buzz surrounding this Dilated People rapper's solo effort was building. Every once in awhile, I'd catch the first single for The Weatherman LP, "Mr. Slow Flow," tearing up Sirius. A few months later, the second single, "All Said and Done," nearly got me hooked. But for some reason, I never got around to copping the album, (too busy graduating, I guess). Fast forward to November, when I DLed DJ Dub's Little Brother Good Clothes Mixtape. Track 9, holy shit. 

I listened to that song everyday before every class. I'd picture the music video in my head, Ev and Tay knocking motherfuckas on their ass. Alchemist championing his MPC like "yeah, ALC forever bitch."
December 1st: I got to see Ev live with LB at The Black Cat in DC. After he killed his set, he jumped off stage and chilled in the crowd like a regular dude. That's why I LOVE real hip hop. And now, after nearly 9 months in the making, I'm listening to The Weatherman LP. Classic shit.

2. Jay Electronica ~ I'm still not even sure who this dude is. Or what he is. Some say he's an alien, a superhero, possibly both. I first learned of him from fwmj's pristine hip hop blog rappersiknow.com. Basically Jay is in with the "in-crowd," and hey, if you were best friends with Just Blaze, you'd be pretty happy right? 
Check out this very well-written piece on Jay, featuring interviews with Just, Erykah Badu, and Young Guru. So what's so special about duke? Well, basically, he's got the internet on lock right now. If you read Andres' above piece, it talks in depth about Act II: Patents of Nobility (The Turn), which was supposed to be released online on Christmas Day. It was hyped incredibly, but mysteriously, Jay still hasn't delivered Act II to either fwmj or Just Blaze.
Hip hop heads stayed up all night, (and some left their families alone at dinner on Christmas Day), awaiting the release of this "special" piece of music. And he just recently shut down his MySpace, further adding to the confusion. Is he about to take over the world? 

As we await Act II, here's Act I, which was takes its beat from Jon Brion's work on The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind soundtrack. Enjoy.

Okay, that's enough for today. Expect more tomorrow, and I may be putting together a year-end mix of my favorite hip hop this year. We'll see, we'll see. 

his "fan base is pilin' on"

well since jben is all about treats and gifts, he's making me look like im some type of scrooge hiding in the corner. i'll put an end to it by hooking you guys up with a little gift, yes its already xmas but what can i do.

this is a little dc remix from two guys you all know fairly well. one mainstream...one will be mainstream soon. DC's own WALE (who was in our studio early this fall) and weezy himself, Lil Wayne. im not going to hate on the remix, wayne does what he's been doing lately, ya'll know what i mean. 

of course we always bring exclusives...heres the mp3, which you cannot find ANYWHERE else! 

enoy xmas and the day off from whatever you usually do.


12/25: tVS present "Nigga I Know James!!!"

Since they ain't wait, I'm not going to either.
Just minutes after I posted the new Atmosphere and the Christmas shit, tREB put this up officially. 

I'm trying to get the word out about this EP because simply put: I love this shit. It's a project put together by the producer tREBLEFREE and the rapper DVS. I ain't know much about either of them before this, but it's a great fuckin' introduction for any hip hop lover out there.

The full story is explained on the OMNiverse website, so please get over there as soon as you can. Here's what I know: it began with tREB's chop of the JB's (James Brown's band) "Watermelon Man" in 2005, and soon after that, DVS agreed to do a whole EP of JB inspired beats. 
So here it is, and be sure to support these dudes! Hopefully we will be able to meet them in the studio sometime soon.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Oh, and Merry Christmas y'all!

CCE: Part 3!

I never stick to my word when it comes to blogs.
"Oh yeah, check back tomorrow for another update"
"Tomorrow: the biggest announcement yet."
And when tomorrow came, I said fuck it. Each and every instance I promised some sort of follow-up, I never delivered. That's why this post deserved an exclamation, because this day is very important. I'm giving back to y'all.

So here we go, it's Christmas Eve and I've got gifts. Two tonight, and another one tomorrow. Tomorrow's gift is real special because it's somewhat of an exclusive. All Ima say right now is this: JB. Get prepped before 12/25 finally arrives with the producer tREBLEFREE and the rapper DVS from the OMNiVERSE crew. 

First, the hip-hop duo Atmosphere have developed a little bit of buzz with their EP series. This year brought 3 seasonal EPs, and last Tuesday saw the release of the third, Sad Clown Bad Winter #11. Ima put it out here, but if you get a chance please spend some of that Xmas money on the actual disc. My favorite track? "66th Street"

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

This next gift is right on time for the holiday season. I caught a bootleg video of the new Mehki Phifer-produced flick "This Christmas" and while it didn't exceed my expectations, it certainly put me in the Christmas spirit. (Corny, I know) Anyway, young Chris Breezy (Brown)  tried out his acting chops and his character Baby "surprises" the family with his "amazing" singing skills. So here's the soundtrack, and two Breezy tracks from the movie. (Also includes: Toni Braxton, Marvin Gaye, Anthony Hamilton, and Aretha Franklin) Check. it. out.
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Be back tomorrow for the tREB and DVS project, and check myspace.com/little brother for yet another day of Getback!

Christmas Came Early: Part 2

&It's been a rather quiet week in hip hop. I mean all I remember is people thought Mr. Pump It Up Joe Budden was coming at Phonte and The Lox gon be reuniting in NYC sometime soon. I think I downloaded my sixth American Gangster remix album, (I see you Von, Beirut) and so far, I'm pretty satisfied. 

Here's what's landed on my desktop this week:

First off, the American Gangster remix albums. Ima go with my favorite right now, which would be American Angster from Von Pea of Tanya Morgan. It's a whole nother level of "remix" with Von's version. 

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Von Pea ~ American Angster (it's your link Von, hope you ain't mind)

Oh, fam, it is so not Christmas without the "12 Days of Getback," courtesy of Phonte from Little Brother. Do that daily check of the MySpace (myspace.com/littlebrother) for free (yes, free my dude) gifts from Phontigallo himself. It's all rough mixes/demos from their 2007 release "Getback" and each one gots a story. And see that little "Download" button next to the song that's playing? Better hit that once a day for 12 days if you want your presents.

Next on the list: Y'all know The Boondocks? You know, Aaron McGruder's very successful comic strip and now a cartoon on adult swim? Well, DC's own Asheru, (and a Funkadelic Freestyles alum, hopefully we see him again soon), is well-known for the theme song, and when the first season began airing, he dropped the Hip Hop Docktrine 1 mixtape. It's already season 2, so that means...

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Big ups to illroots.com for hosting it!

Check back tomorrow for even more presents, including some new Atmosphere and...Chris Brown?

Christmas Came Early: Part 1

Happy Holidays, y'all.

I bought Christmas presents for my fam today, so I suppose I'm in the giving mood. Remember when I told you last week about  Zo's new shit? Well, I wasn't allowed to share anything because everything was too "young, fresh, and new" and I wasn't allowed access to any mp3s, though I did hear them. 
Zo! and Phonte of Little Brother are working on a cover project titled "Zo! and Tigallo Love the 80s," and if you go to Zo!'s MySpace page, you can listen to  (and download) a few of the tracks for free. 

This new song, however, is sans Phonte. It's a wonderful instrumental cover of Don Blackman's 1982 ballad, "Loving You, Holding You." Peep the original and Zo!'s version, "Holding You, Loving You" below:

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Part 2 coming soon!

what up mofuckers

arite well im not going to lie, the last time i posted on a blog, blogger was not owned by google and it was kinda emo, even though emo was jben. but shhh.

anyways, im another person youll hear from every once in awhile, ERIC. 
im not nearly as good at this shit as jben is, by the way am i allowed to curse on this? whatever. ill make my contributions, and of course, i do want to shout out TSS, my personal favorite blog to read. if you don't know what that is, DO SOME RESEARCH. theyre big now, rawkus and shit.
now to hip hop, of course jben already mentioned lupe..

is anyone thats in to hip hop not talking about lupe right now? i think not. 

gold watch, for you mixtapers or bootleggers its track 8, the true hypebeast lupe comes out. of course ill be the one to comment on this being that i am an NT'er (since 02 that is). well lupe was an NT'er, but who knows what happened? its kinda nice to hear someone rapping about the real ill gear, like a neighborhood wallet and not an LV one.
gold watch, he's not talking about that rolex, he's talking about the
co.jp casio people.

give the track a listen, its quality. for you lazy/cheap/people not up on their game, here it is on zshare, get it while you can. 

arite, ill leave yall alone for now. enjoy windy dc and buy his album...PEACE.

12.4.07: The Pictures

(Top L to R): Eric, Nathan, Zo!, jben.ok, Nyadenya
(Bottom, the one and only): The Great White Mark

a week ago: we had fun

hey folks.
that last post was not meant to happen. but i'm gonna leave it, because it's true. last tuesday was the last episode of funkadelic freestyles for about a month and a week. the great white mark has left the building, and we'll surely miss him. but guess what? the team is coming "extra hard"  (c) LB in january. we're taking FF in a whole new direction, and i'm real excited. we're fresh off two great interviews, so i'm gonna try to bring you something real special for the first show (january 15th). 

anyway, last tuesday's final show was great. my homie zo! came to visit, and once i get my computer back (the apple store stole that shit from me), i'll get some pictures up. thanks to zo's wonderful wife carla for sending me a few extras. mark handled the interview, but it was real special to have zo! there. for any of y'all LB/foreign exchange fans out there, the new shit is absolutely crazy. be prepared for some groundbreaking music this spring.

well, i can't tell secrets now that i'm handling this radio thing. but i'm gonna try to provide y'all with some exclusives over time. for most of you bloggers, lupe fiasco's "the cool" was probably exclusive for you like 6 hours ago. now you're all like "yeah i had that shit for a few weeks, it's aight." well, i'm listening right now and i'm happy. fiascogate should be history, and "paris, tokyo" is fucking insane. thanks lu, and let's hope we can get you for an interview this january. 

alright, much love i'll keep ya updated.

12.4.07: Zo! and Special Guests

Tonight we're on live from 8-10 pm and it's The Great White Mark's final show. 

The 8 pm slot will see our first appearance from hip-hop producer Zo!, who has produced for Little Brother, Median, and Slum Village. He'll be live in-studio and hopefully he'll bring along some goodies, including some material from his project with Phonte of Little Brother.

The 9 pm slot, well, I'm not really sure what to expect. Mark is bringing some special guests down from New York, so I have no idea what's going down. 

It being Mark's last show, I'm almost positive he'll handle both interviews, so you may only hear my voice once or twice. Oh, and with Mark's departure comes the arrival of two of my good friends, Eric and Nathan, who have yet to develop solid on-air monikers. I'm sure Eric will come up with something soon, as you can expect a few posts from him on this very site. 

Be sure to listen LIVE at gwradio.com tonight from 8-10 pm
And I'll leave you with a cut from the Zo! and Phonte project, and a tremendous cover of Aha's Take On Me:

11.29.07: Phonte from Little Brother

Thursday, November 29th saw a special edition of Funkadelic Freestyles thanks to my homies over at The Grey Area, Max and Mikhel. 
Phonte from Little Brother phoned in to speak on a few things, including their new album Getback.
Here's a good portion of the interview, with a little intro, and we may have the full recording in a few days, thanks to WRGW's hip-hop director, Mikhel.

If you know what's good, you'll listen to The Grey Area every Thursday from 8-10 pm.
And be on the lookout for 3 brand new hip hop shows on WRGW starting Monday, January 14th, 2008!

Funkadelic Freestyles Tuesdays 8-10 pm

Welcome to the beginning of something wonderful. Funkadelic Freestyles has been alive for three years now, thanks to the man I call, (in strictly radio terms), my creator: The Great White Mark. He got me into this whole thing in under 3 months, and now, I'm taking over with my boy Nyadenya. Nyadenya's been there longer than I have, so we both have our own unique visions to bring to college radio. 

Oh right, college radio. Funkadelic Freestyles airs every Tuesday night from 8 to 10 pm on WRGW Radio, the official radio station of The George Washington University. WRGW Radio can be heard on gwradio.com and GW cable channel 22 twenty-four hours a day, (well, not really. more like 12). So this is my thank you to WRGW, and if you don't go to GW, gwradio.com is the only way to listen to us. 

However, if you're not available on Tuesday nights, no worries! Us hip hop heads like to hear our own voices, so we save our interviews. Almost every week we bring you a brand new interview; sometimes in-studio, sometimes on the phone. Our Funkadelic Freestyles alums? Panacea, Wale, Tabi Bonney, Oddisee, and a gang of others. (Not a real gang, of others, just a lot of other...artists)

So my name is jben.ok (jay-ben-okay) and along with Nyadenya, we host this thing. Stay tuned for some exclusives.