No matter how well I think I did, I always forgot a couple items on my year-end “best of” list. This time I forgot two joints: Skyzoo’s The Great Debater mixtape (which also had the best album artwork of the year), and both Cocaine 80s projects (The Pursuit and Ghost Lady), which, for these purposes, can be consolidated into one. The latter I’m especially ashamed of forgetting because I harped on how slept-on they were; and they weren’t just good, they were excellent, possessing some of the best grooves, songwriting and Common records of the year…My bad!
Tag Archives: Cocaine 80s
Leading up to its release, I was one of many who believed that Common’s latest album, The Dreamer, The Believer, on which he would reunite with master-producer No I.D., could be the album of the year — it wasn’t. While it was a strong showing by Common, but not the best effort of his career. Moreover, after weeks of great, great promo — he was all over the web and visiting radio stations — the release, in my opinion, was tainted at the last minute by this Drake business.
Common has grown to become one of hip-hop’s most respected MCs, and a great ambassador for the culture as a visible representative in mainstream pop culture via movies, books, commercials, philanthropy and more. For him to stoop to this level is just wack. By the way, I’m talking about the “Sweet” record and release-day controversy.
Some people are Drake haters and welcomed the diss, others are fans of Common’s earlier work and liken this to that — I don’t care about any of that: Common is wack for this (not wack as a person, or rapper, or anything else. I love him, he’s one of my favorites. But this “beef”, and his role instigating it, is wack).
For starters, the song leaked damn near two months ago on Nov. 2nd. Common has since released a video, spoken on the song and it’s been rumored that it was about Drake. All of a sudden, the day the album drops, he comes out and the song is about Drake. He’s on 106, GCI, Sway In The Morning. The day the album drops? C’mon son. He’s not exactly Thuggalicious either, and
In 1996 he was beefing with Ice Cube. 15 years later he’s beefing with Drake. And for no apparent reason. That’s just stupid, and until further information reveals itself, I’m dubbing it a ploy…all of this was on my mind when I copped the album.
As for actual music, it’s pretty good. Not as great as I’d hoped it would be, but very good considering the lofty expectations. Common’s bars aren’t his best, but the metaphors are abundant as he tries to take on a range of topics, most always successfully. Working exclusively with No I.D. gives this project awesome cohesiveness.
The Dreamer, The Believer hits the ground running with “The Dreamer” which features some inspiring words from the esteemed Maya Angelou. Starting here, we see what makes this album so good: tight rhymes, tailored production, great samples, great sequencing and a stellar supporting cast — much of the Cocaine 80s crew is prevalent throughout. Many of the records feature additional vocals from Makeba Riddick or James Fauntleroy, James Poyser on keys and Steve Wyreman on guitar and bass.
Other standout tracks include the second official single “Blue Sky”, “Sweet” (removed from it’s context, it is one of the best diss records in awhile ), “Lovin I Lost” (which makes great use of a magnificent Impressions sample) and “Celebrate”, a fantastic record that I think will prove to be especially timeless.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Dreamer, The Believer, I really did. But I can’t say that there’s anything that really took me over the top on here. Given what No I.D. has been doing over the past three years or so, and the Cocaine 80s collaborations between he and Common, tall expectations were certainly in order. In the end, it’s really strong front-to-back, never hits any low points, but rarely goes through the roof. Maybe I had my hopes too high.
Cocaine 80s Feat. Common – Six Ft. Over; Ghost Lady
Producer: No I.D.
A couple days ago, I was on Twitter discussing possible album of the year candidates with a couple of my homies, with the argument largely surrounding Kendrick Lamar’s Section.80 and Big K.R.I.T.’s Return Of 4Eva. WTT and Skyzoo’s The Great Debater are others to consider, as well, but of course, we can’t come to a definitive answer before Common, The Roots and Rick Ross offer their statements before the end of the year.
Another project (two of them, actually) must be thrown into the fray, however. It’s this audio dope, Cocaine 80s shit. Damn, this is some crack (pun intended)! And it’s being severely slept-on by many, myself included (until this week, that is).
First surfacing on June 21, 2011, with The Pursuit EP, little is known about what the hell, or who the hell, Cocaine 80s actually is. The surrounding mystery is both a gift and a curse, as it’s given the collective an enticing aura. At the same time, the ambiguity has likely kept many from fully latching on, as well.
It was initially introduced to me as a Common x No I.D. project. Upon first listen, that’s not what it was, though Common was featured on one song. Entering with that Com Sense mindset, I ran through The Pursuit one time and put it down. Earlier this week, however, Cocaine 80s was back at it, releasing another EP, Ghost Lady, and it was again a Common feature that led me to sample the product. This time I paid attention.
Since then, I’ve been listening to both Cocaine 80s tapes almost non-stop for the past 24 hours. I can’t put it down.
I’m hooked and a fiend, to say the least. Why? Well, picture top-notch vocals and lyrics laid over those No I.D. guitars and drums we’ve come to know and love (especially in recent years. Think D.O.A., Gorgeous, Memories Pt. II, Blue Sky, etc.). The result is a flawless mix of pop, rock and hip-hop, featuring great instrumentation and superb songwriting as some of the best in the business link up and create, seemingly For The Greater Good. It’s free, and the anonymity is by design, with the focus lying solely on the music.
Beyond Common and No I.D., the other names in the Cocaine 80s collective may not strike a chord to the untrained eye. But that doesn’t mean they’re not significant.
(This should, in part, help one understand what exactly is going on here.)
There’s guitarist Steve Wyreman, who’s spent much time playing alongside Jesse Boykins III; Roc Nation engineer Rob Kinelski, who’s worked on several Beyonce records and Teflon Don, among others; Roc Nation singer-songwriter James Fauntleroy (“No Air”, “Take You Down”); Roc Nation singer-songwriter Makeda Riddick (“Upgrade U,” “Live Your Life,” “Love The Way You Lie”); and composer, keyboardist, pianist, etc., Kevin Randolph (What We Talkin’ Bout — if you know that song, and you know the keyboards and synths, then you know why it’s the only one I’ve even bothered listing for this cat).
And we (or I) still don’t know who does what when it comes to Cocaine 80s. I’m honestly not even sure which one of them is singing. What’s more important, however, is that it doesn’t matter. Every track I’ve heard thus far is excellent.
So with all this being said, get high off this Cocaine 80s, if you’re not doing so already.
Guitar – crazy. Bass line – crazy. This shit grooves.
Cocaine 80s – Not No More; Ghost Lady [Download]
Producer: Cocaine 80s