Artist of the Week: Bilal

The great thing about great music is that its timeless. It doesn’t matter who the president was when it came out. Doesn’t matter is the trend is baggy Cross Colors or tight Levi’s. Timeless music never goes out of style! Today’s AOTW picks prove that point effortlessly.

All For Love from Love For Sale

Talib Kweli feat. Bilal – Talk to You (Lil’ Darlin) from Quality

Robert Glasper feat. Bilal – All Matter from Double-Booked

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Artist of the Week: Bilal

What up world! This week, we’re shining the Artist of the Week light on Philly native Bilal.

As a member of the hip-hop/neo-soul collective, the Soulquarians, Bilal has established a huge cult-like following comprised of both commercial and underground fans. Like most of your favorite artists (who actually create real music), he has yet to get the mainstream recognition and respect that he truly deserves. After appearing on classic albums by The Roots, Common, and Erykah Badu, amongst others, Bilal finally released his debut album, 1st Born Second, in 2001. As far as debut albums go, this was one that could serve as the blueprint for aspiring soul singers. With production from Dr. Dre, Questlove, and the late great J Dilla, 1st Born Second was definitely food for the music-hungry audience who had been deprived of such greatness.

His second album, Love For Sale, was leaked in its entirety on the net and subsequently shelved by Interscope. He’s currently signed to a new label (Plug Research) and working on a new album, Air Tight’s Revenge, due to drop this year.

Lord Don’t Let It from Love For Sale

Soul Sista from 1st Born Second

When Will You Call from 1st Born Second

Artist of the Week: Little Brother

Yes yes ya’ll! The new album is banging. I recommend all lovers of real music go out and get it. Just know that you might have to take the iTunes route though! I tried to go out and pick it up at Best Buy and not one of their locations had any. You know how that industry foolishness goes. It’s definitely worth the download though! Check out these gems:

Tigallo For Dolo

Table For Two feat. Jozeemo and Yahzarah

Revenge feat. Truck North and Median


Artist of the Week: Little Brother

With a new album scheduled to hit stores this Tuesday, it’s only fitting that we show love to North Carolina’s own Little Brother. Comprised of rapper/singer/songwriter Phonte, Rapper Big Pooh, and producer 9th Wonder (who is no longer a member of the group), Little Brother is one of the most under-rated collectives in hip hop. Their debut, The Listening, was as close to classic as you can get. Especially from a group of then unknown rappers from the South. Conceptually, it played from top to bottom like a hip hop radio show – WJLR, Justice League Radio. Dope beats. Dope rhymes. What more could ya’ll want?

For their second release, The Minstrel Show (2005), they moved from the radio to the television. This album, released on Atlantic, was their first major label release. Much like on their debut, the Brothers provided us with what most artists, group or solo, had abandoned long ago: a concept. And although it didn’t get the commercial success or respect that it deserved (most great music never does), hardcore LB fans were definitely tuned in to the Show.

Along with their third studio album, The Getback (2007), they have several mixtapes and multiple side projects (including one of my favorites right now – The Foreign Exchange) that are more than worth a listen. Make sure you stop by your local cd store…I mean log on to iTunes…and pick up that new album, Leftback, on Tuesday! In the meantime, enjoy these gems:

The Yo Yo from The Listening

Atari 2600 from an early release of The Listening

Speed from The Listening

Artist of the Week: Black Thought

It’s day 2 ladies and gentlemen and I have 2 bangers for ya’ll to vibe to. The first joint is 75 Bars from off The Roots eighth studio album “Rising Down”. ?uestlove provides the track and Thought goes in like Speed Racer. Listen, take it back to the top and listen again. Number 2 on the list is one of my personal favorites – Silent Treatment from their first release, “Do You Want More?!!!?!”. This song is nothing short of classic. The beat is crazy. The flow is crazy. The topic is definitely relatable. And the album?? The album is…it’s…it’s classic.

75 Bars from Rising Down

Silent Treatment from Do You Want More?!!!?!

Artist of the Week: Black Thought

How do you measure success in the music industry? Is it album sales? Number of awards won? How many times you’ve heard it on the radio? Or is it longevity? Or the amount of respect that an artist gets from their peers? For me, it’s about substance. It’s about growth. It’s about consistency. It’s about creativity, wordplay, and lyrically skill. Not many artists right now can score points in all of these categories. This week’s AOTW definitely hold’s his own though. Black Thought hit the scene in ’93 with The Square Roots, now known as the The Roots aka The Legendary Roots Crew. And since they debut, he’s been attacking beats like a real menace to society. Thought and The Roots might not have the commercial success that they deserve, but don’t get it confused – their Legendary status is solidified.

Ladies and Gentlemen…Black Thought

J. Dilla ft. Black Thought – Reality Check

Please peep the wordplay! I bet money you won’t just listen to this once…

Artist of the Week: Lauryn Hill

Yo! First of all, our apologies for being a day (or 2) off with this week’s Artist of the Week. Everybody is coming off of a pretty eventful weekend. Speaking of which, congratulations again to my big sister – the new Mrs. Pope! And shout out to the fam who was out there in Dallas getting it in for All-Star Weekend (be on the lookout for a re-cap of all the exclusive events later in the week).

Now, back to business! This week we’re giving the stage, the spotlight, and our hopes that one day she’ll bless us with some new music, to Lauryn Hill. She has got to be one of the greatest artist, male or female, of our generation. As a member of the multi-platinum (The Score sold over 18 million records worldwide) hip-hop trio, The Fugees, Lauryn Hill took a Sharpie and permanently signed her name on the pages of the game. In 1998 critics who argued that L. Boogie should’ve went solo got their wish when she released The Mis-Education of Lauryn Hill (over 27 million sold). There is really only one word needed to describe that album: CLASSIC!!! Nominated for 10, The Mis-Education… won 5 Grammy’s, making Lauryn the first female artist to walk away with that many awards in one night. With vocals that could make a full-time goon wanna hug somebody, lyrics sharp enough to cut the mic chords of these super wack rappers today, and a deliver that can make rival gangs huddle in harmony around the radio, Lauryn Hill is the true definition of a living legend.

Aight…enough talking typing. Let’s zone out…

Zion (from The Mis-Education of Lauryn Hill)

What up LAW!

Fugees – Killing Me Softly (from The Score)


Artist of the Week: Common

Day 4: Back to the Basics

Common is known for delivering that straight raw hiphop.  So today we are giving you two of the rawest songs from Common to date.    

First up:

“6th Sense”

Theolonious” ft Slum Village  RIP J Dilla

Day 3: The Ladies Edition!

Not many rappers know how to successfully cater to the female audience. And I’m not talking about just wrapping a real hot beat and catchy hook around utter jibberish! I’m talking about really speaking to women artistically, creatively, and respectfully without being overly soft, lame, or corny. On more than one occasion, this week’s featured artist has ventured into that lane and put the car on cruise control. Here are a couple of those gems…

Come Close – Common feat. Mary J. Blige (from Electric Circus)

The Light – Common prod. by J. Dilla (from Like Water For Chocolate)

it don’t take a whole day to recognize Sunshine!