the force

The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 30 – Your Favorite Song At This Time Last Year

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I spent a whole morning examining my iTunes catalog and mixtape playlists, trying to figure out just what my favorite song was at this time of last year.

The 30 Day Song Challenge

The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 29 – A Song From Your Childhood

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As a kid at the age of single digit years, I was a fan of anything and everything that was Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.


The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 26 – A Song You Can Play On An Instrument

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<a href=""> Allow me to start by saying I personally can’t play the song at hand. Figuring you’d rather not read about Chris Brown’s “Forever” or "Chopsticks," I opted instead to share a quick story about an old friend of mine and the way he picked up girls with 2Pac. During my tenure in high school, I associated with damn near everyone. Whether you rocked Warn-A-Brother t-shirts or tape on your glasses, if you had manners, you were pretty much guaranteed a hello from BEWARE. One hombre that became more than just a courtesy nod was my friend Mike; who became strictly known as Bake Dog, once his upperclassman cold shoulder wore off and we became cool. A year older than I and much more seasoned in his extra-curricular activities, Bake Dog was a good person to know. Aside from serving up my first taste of goods, this hoodlum with a heart made you part of the crew with alliterated nicknames and occasionally unwanted advice, all due to his overall-inclusive nature on life in general. However, he also carried some Bruce Banner qualities. Despite being a typically mild-mannered guy, Bake Dog was down for the get down at all times and could tend to be a loose cannon. But, like I said, he was a good person to know. In the midst of getting acquainted, there was one night specifically when I realized there was much more to his Jekyll & Hyde persona than let on. While at a house party turned Jim-Beam-sleepover, I watched Bake Dog game a young, initially unimpressed female in a way neither of us saw coming. Instead of putting his arm around her or dropping the “You must be tired” line, this tamed Pitbull Terrier sat down at the living room’s underused, grand piano and began effortlessly playing 2Pac’s “I Ain’t Mad At Cha.” In memory, whether or not he got the girl or could even play any other songs is irrelevant. What enlightened me at that moment was how much someone's personality shines through when given the right opportunity. At school and during social events, Bake Dog was always depicted as a troublemaker, so he gave the people what they wanted. He played that role and, more often than not, the resolution ended against his favor. But in situations like this, when others’ judgement were last on his priority list, a gentleman emerged. A talented one at that. The spotlight shown on this multi-dimensional character at that point emphasized the old book cover adage for me. Not only at that moment, but every time I hear the Blackstreet-esque keys on this All Eyez On Me disc one single. Sadly, as much as I’d love to send him a link to this written cheers, Bake Dogg passed away last year at the blossoming age of 27. During a tour in Iraq for his beloved Marine Corps, the then-Sgt. Baker developed an extremely rare form of cancer with 20-syllables causing the last few years of his life to be filled with chemotherapy and (un)radical surgeries. Thankfully, a baby daughter and new wife helped balance out the uncertainties. Truth be told, the last time I saw Mike, I didn’t even recognize the guy because of bandages covering his face. Not until afterward did I find out he’d been in the building. Actually, I still feel pretty bad about not getting to go up and say hello for old times’ sake. Knowing him, though, he probably wouldn’t care either way. Just as long as ‘Pac got played and his loved ones got props. Previously: <a href="">Day 25 -- A Song That Makes You Laugh</a>.

The 30 Day Song Challenge

The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 25 – A Song That Makes You Laugh

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<a href=""> Devin The Dude may never be seen as a lyrical wizard such as Andre 3000 or as poetical as Scarface, but his name rings bells in every circle of Hip-Hop. And when it comes time for him to hang up his Kangol cap, he most likely will be remembered for a few key things: his affinity for cannabis and keen, comedic sensibilities. Before every rapper was claiming to be extra-terrestrial, The Dude was spitting from the perspective of one on "Zeldar," the slow moving intro track for 2002's Just Tryin' Ta Live. The composition was merely a recording of a show & tell presentation told from the point of view of an alien who stumbled onto Earth & discovered a green leafy thing in a field. He called it kill. Devin The Dude - "Zeldar" Previously: <a href="">Day 24 – A Song That You Want Played At Your Funeral</a>.

#Kanye West

The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 24 – A Song That You Want Played At Your Funeral

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<a href=""> It's an undeniably morbid thought to consider the exact song I want played at my funeral. I'm 21 and a college junior, so I don't think I'll be kicking the bucket any time soon (knocks hard on wood desk). However, with the inevitable occasion in mind, there's only one track that I want blaring right before the priest reads my last rights: Kanye West's "Last Call." The concluding track from the Louis Vuitton Don's <a href="">debut</a> not only embodies a funeral in name (the metaphorical "last call"), but also represents the never-say-never attitude that I hope will propel me to a successful career and life.

The 30 Day Song Challenge

The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 23 – A Song That You Want To Play At Your Wedding

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New Orleans may be the only city in the continental United States that I love more than Detroit, and if I lived any closer than a country-length away I would get married there.

Welcome To Jamrock

The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 22 – A Song You Listen To When You’re Sad

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<a href=""> As far as my musical leanings go, I’m pretty one dimensional and rarely venture off into reggae. However, all rules have exceptions. Every so often, I wake up on the wrong side of the bed and find myself popping Damian Marley and Nas’ 2005 masterpiece, “Road to Zion” in the deck. The two musicians carry the track with God’s Son easily spitting one of his greatest politically charged sixteens and Junior Gong’s melodious verses maintain stride. The two artists show the first inklings of a considerably interconnected chemistry together, a connection that would later manifest into a full-fledged LP. But sometimes, it’s the words that aren’t said that have the most impact. For one, Stephen Marley’s somber, gloomy production captures the mood and sets the perfect stage for the headlining two to deliver their rhymes. But it’s the tiniest of chords that really bring the song home and make it what it is to me. The gentle, soothing humming that starts it off and then takes the passenger seat as the backdrop to the vocals absolutely hits the mark and elevates the record from great to classic. “Road to Zion” is definitely not something that I listen to get myself out of a funk, but rather it encapsulates any negative emotion I may be feeling. Words can’t exactly explain how, but it brings me into a state of calm and helps me explore my sentiments. The youngest Marley’s smooth verses mixed in with a brilliant feature from Esco take me into a zone, while the resounding production and subtle elements give me a platform to step back and see things from an objective view. And all these elements combine to make the Welcome To Jamrock gem one of my absolutely favorite tracks I’ve ever heard. Damian Marley Feat. Nas - "Road To Zion" (Prod. By Stephen Marley) Previously: <a href="">Day 21 – A Song You Listen To When You’re Happy</a>.


The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 21 – A Song You Listen To When You’re Happy

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<a href=""> First off: If you’re not making <a href="">Kissing Suzy Kolber</a> a daily go-to site, then your RSS feed means nothing to me.

The 30 Day Song Challenge

The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 19 – A Song From Your Favorite Album

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<a href=""> "When I first met my SpottieOttieDopaliscious Angel, I can remember that damn thing like yesterday..." Pages, dare I say volumes, of TSS have been devoted not just to Outkast, but to <a href="">Aquemini</a> as a stand-alone work.

The 30 Day Song Challenge

The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 18 – A Song That You Wish You Heard On The Radio

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<a href=""> After spending years on the West Coast underground circuit, Strong Arm Steady broke through in 2007 with their debut studio album Deep Hearted. It was also during this time that my musical taste, that once bumped nothing but Top 40, had begun its transformation towards the present. Our two colliding paths met in the form of “One Step,” the signature song from the collection and one of the essential Steady Gang records. It was sort of a compromise between the two worlds, as I was beginning to scratch the surface of the underground and they were recently emerging from being a local act. The track itself had almost everything a radio station would consider desirable and just about nothing that a hardcore S.A.S. fan would have expected to hear from them. Catchy, melodic hook? Simple, easily repeatable verses? Soft, silky-smooth beat? Check on all accounts. Unfortunately, the fact that the joint had meaningful lyrics automatically took it out of radio contention. Their standards are just too damn high! This one was gift-wrapped for the airwaves, but for whatever reason it just didn’t catch on. Maybe it was because the track was about living a righteous life and stopping the violence, not popping Patron or Nuvo. Possibly it was because playing a song by this relatively unknown group would have risked hurting their ratings. Or perhaps the DJs themselves hadn’t even heard the record. Realistically, the song's failure to latch on was probably some combination of the three and it just goes to show that once again the popular way is not always the best way. Because while most of my G-Unit wearing peers were tuned in to The Bay's WILD 94.9 rolling out of school to “This Is Why I’m Hot,” there were still those niches of low-profile heads digging through the crates for something deeper. Strong Arm Steady Feat. Talib Kweli - "One Step" (Prod. by Blaqtoven) Previously: <a href="">Day 17 – A Song That You Hear Often On The Radio</a>.

The 30 Day Song Challenge

The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 17 – A Song That You Hear Often On The Radio

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<a href=""> The year was 2007 and every L.A. scene-ster girl with a scarf around her neck and sangria in her hand had a crush on <a href="">Miguel</a>.

Wiz Khalifa

The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 16 – A Song That You Used To Love But Now Hate

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<a href=""> "Uh-huh. You know what it is." Back when Wiz had black hair and an actual album on store shelves seemed somewhat far removed for the PA native, TC posted Young Khalifa's life-changing "Black & Yellow." From the moment it dropped, the heavy-hitting Steelers anthem seemed primed to crank out my speakers for the next month. Then, my girlfriend did the same. And so did all my friends. Next, this Stargate-helmed hit broke on the radio and, at one point, I actually thought it was pretty nifty to see the extremely humble budding superstar I had <a href="">interviewed back in the summer</a> of '09 legitimatizing his foresight.

The 30 Day Song Challenge

The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 15 – A Song That Describes You

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The cliché rapper line has always been "my life is a movie," but most who choose to rap don't star in the film day-to-day.

The 30 Day Song Challenge

The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 14 – A Song That No One Would Expect You To Love

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<a href=""> Back in sixth grade, I formed my first crush. The feeling was not mutual. One-sided as it may have been, the song which enhanced that adolescent itch was Alanis Morissette's "Head Over Feet," from her 1996 ROY album Jagged Little Pill. While this Canadian songstress was busy winning Grammy's with one hand in her pocket, a new blond girl with a Southern accent and cute face strutted into school, quickly hipping me to how cool cooties could be. However, as the pale kid with a bowl cut and entire back-catalog of Wizard magazine, I never had the guts to take our minor league friendship to first-base. However, my best friend had the buzzcut and athletic rep so, of course, he ended up dating her amidst my wide eyes, one-upping his homie without even knowing it. A conundrum that he probably never even knew about to this day. <a href=""> Alas, during that year of my longing behind the scenes, the fifth single from Alanis’ highy-touted debut became the soundtrack to those now frivolous memories for a few reasons. Aside from simply being everywhere during that senior year of elementary school, the now world-renown singer's up-front and unfamiliar approach toward an unripe relationship is the obvious reason I associate it with my lost teenage love. At the time, the freshness fit for both of us. Another reason it stuck - and one I only figured a few years ago- is how dope the beat is. On top of successfully being laced with scale-cascading, guitar melodies and harmonica grooves, the song’s contrasting live drum kit is actually packed with the open-hats, steady-hi's and off-beat snare-stabs associated with today's current rap-hop sound. So much so, it could and probably would suffice on a J. Cole or Freddie record right now (with slightly different instruments around it, of course). That backtrack coupled with super-glue-like, four-bar verses from the then Miss Morrissette make this song - and inevitably her music in general - well worth the minor asterisk placed next to this personal favorite every season it comes back around. After all, I’ve been listening to Alanis for damn near 15 years. The blondie with the twang? My man dumped her as soon as we hit junior high and saw the district flood gates open. Previously: <a href="">Day 13 – A Song That’s A Guilty Pleasure</a>.

The 30 Day Song Challenge

The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 13 – A Song That’s A Guilty Pleasure

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I’ll always have a soft spot for <a href="">Prodigy</a> (||).

The 30 Day Song Challenge

The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 12 – A Song From A Band You Hate

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<a href=""> Hate is a strong word, and the brother of Love. Hate is Cain. Hate is the vengeful, rumble-vision demon within us that clouds our judgement and makes us weaker versions of ourselves. I don’t like using the word “hate,” and I avoid it whenever possible. I choose Love. But let me say, unequivocally, I hate Creed. I hate Creed like I hate Nickelback. What I find so distasteful about Creed isn’t even necessarily their music -- which is garbage -- but rather their attitude. They come from this holier-than-thou place that masquerades as being for Jesus, but ends up looking more like trying to get on Jesus’ level, if Jesus were played by Jason Borne with a voice like Eddie Vedder, and obsessed over his hair and washboard abs. Even the name Creed is self-involved and taking a number two on everyone else. A creed is a statement of belief. A Creed is a statement of braggadocio. Coming clean here, I don’t actually know any Creed songs; which speaks volumes about my distaste for them, and also my complete lack of credibility. But probably my favorite Creed song is one that <a href="">House Shoes</a> introduced to me called “Gibba Gab,” documented here in this video known as “Creed Shreds Again.

Waiting for the Sun

The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 11 – A Song By Your Favorite Band

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<a href=""> When I was fourteen, my main hobby was obsessively raiding the used CD store. Countless afternoons and allowances were spent devouring every album I'd ever seen on anyone's list of Hip-Hop classics and my attention rarely diverted to other genres. But in the midst of all the rhymes and beats, I did manage to stumble across a group that still stands as my favorite band of all-time: The Doors. I’d heard "Light My Fire" and "Riders On The Storm" on the oldies station in my parents' Dodge Caravan. But it was when I picked up The Doors In Concert on a whim that I was exposed to a whole new world. Starring possibly the most interesting vocalist in the history of recorded music, the double disc exhibits the foursome’s versatility and musicianship over two and a half bizarre hours. In Concert ranges from blues and straight ahead rock-n-roll to spoken word poetry and <a href="">indescribably weird tunes</a> with Jim’s one of a kind lyricism tying it all together.

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