Archive for Jay-Z

Daily Dose of L

Posted in Daily Dose of L with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2009 by letterlbeats

Happy New Year’s Eve Hip Hop,

I’m just coolin’ out at the house today with my son. I’m not going out tonight. I have learned as I’ve gotten older to just chill and learn to have fun doing the simple things.

I spend so much time studying my favorite producers and learning what I can from the best. You have to love the digital age. When other producers were coming up, they didn’t have access to watching their favorites behind the scene. Now any time I want, I can take a personal lesson from Pharell, Kanye, Timbaland, 9th Wonder, or whoever.

As I study, I realize there are producers who are damn near the best that just fly under the radar. For example, 9th Wonder. I feel like my friends know more about 9th Wonder from what I’ve told them or let them listen to as opposed to radio play etc.

Right now I am going to take the time to introduce or re-introduce you to a guy who has done everything from T.I.’s What You Know to Jeezy’s Recession to Jay-Z’s American Gangster.

According to Wikipedia:

Aldrin Davis, better known as DJ Toomp, is an award-winning American record producer and DJ who works in Atlanta, Georgia. He rose to fame by working with southern rapper T.I. on his first four albums, and caught his first big break in 2006 for producing T.I.‘s single “What You Know“, which peaked at #3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and earned both Toomp and T.I. their first Grammy. More recently, he contributed to production on Kanye West‘s Graduation, including producing the singles “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” and “Good Life” with West. He and hip hop veteran Bernard Parks, Jr. have launched their own record label called NZone Entertainment.

And for the visually stimulated like myself, here are a few videos. Peace.

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Daily Dose of L

Posted in Daily Dose of L with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 4, 2009 by letterlbeats

Ladies & Gentlemen of Hip Hop,

With the end of the year quickly approaching and this beingĀ  the last 1st Friday of 2009, it’s time for Top 5 Fridays Hip Hop Albums of the year:

5. David Banner Death of a Pop Star

Actually, this album hasn’t even been released yet but thanks to 9th Wonder’s YouTube series called De Blog Jam (Filmed and edited by 9th’s keyboardist E. Jones) I witnessed them create almost the entire album. Even better is the fact that the album is free. Its quality far surpasses many records that you had to pay for this year. By the way, did I mention that 9th Wonder produced it? It features many of 9th’s homegrown N.C. talent plus a smoother more mature flow from Banner. Google it.

4. Slaughterhouse Slaughterhouse

I was having a random Twitter conversation one day and this dude was telling me that he prefers a brand of emcee who spends more time actually rapping than he does talking about how good he is. Slaughterhouse is definitely not that brand of emcee but these guys back up everything they say. They are lyrical beasts that grew tired of the usual bureaucracy of major labels and took their careers in their own hands. Comprised of Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz, Royce Da 5’9″ & Crooked I, they crafted the blueprint for today’s independent artists. During the 2009 BET Hip Hop Awards Show cipher Joe Budden said, “I never needed my A&R my A&R needed me.” I guess he doesn’t need an A&R.

3. Wale Back to the Feature

This wasn’t even an album, it was a mixtape! (See Drake below) Another free venture produced by 9th Wonder and mixed by Nick Catchdubs, its stacked with guest features including Jean Grae & Freeway. This was really something special because it’s not everyday you find quality hip hop like this.

2. Jay-Z Blueprint III

What can I say about this (See archives for song by song review of Blueprint III) except that my grandmother was singing Run This Town. Another classic Jay-Z album with the hottest everything in the game; guest features, beats, verses…everything.

1. Drake So Far Gone

If I need to explain this to you, then just navigate away from the page because you don’t know hip hop.

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Daily Dose of L

Posted in Daily Dose of L with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2009 by letterlbeats

Good Sunday Hip Hop!

This entry finds us with good news (you know it had to be because I don’t think we’ve ever done a Sunday blog) as we are on the cusp of making Letter L Beats an official production company.

I’ve got a few things to talk about today. First of all, I want to briefly discuss The BET Hip Hop Awards that aired Thursday night. One thing I can appreciate is that they definitely kept the show moving. Not too many special tributes or long nominee videos. Unfortunately I was really disappointed with some of the performances. Of those that I didn’t enjoy, I think the common denominator was the fact that none of them were veteran acts. Gucci Mane, Soulja Boy and Dorrough were ones that really stood out. They lacked energy. I understand that not every rapper is a lyrical beast, but there is something called presence that can make up a lot for what a performer lacks in content. Jason, Young General, SD and I were just having that conversation about a rapper we know here in Chicago named J. Gatz from Bad Seedz Chicago. Gatz is a solid rapper but his mic presence gives the impression that he’s greater than his skill level. As I was watching the show, the guys that had the best energy and presence were Ludacris, Jay-Z, Young Jeezy and Goodie Mob. These are veteran performers. When Fabolous and Dream did Throw It In The Bag, Fabolous seemed really comfortable on stage but Dream seemed a bit uneasy. Fab is a vet; ten years in the game. Dream just came out three years ago. Stage and mic presence are a must! The only somewhat newcomer that I have to give credit for having good energy was Plies.

So Jason has updated everything on the site for November including some new beats. I stepped into my mode on Thursday. I actually finished two of the beats while I was watching the awards show. Jason goes into this bit about another producer (shall remain nameless) and how I need to get on his level. He knows how to push my buttons because I wound up making 6 beats that day.

I also have an update on the Young General album. The yet untitled project has officially ended production and is ready for mastering! I think we have something very special. In fact I’m wondering if Jason is going to post the preview of Headbanger Boogie featuring J. Gatz?

Anyway, that about does it for this edition, but please stay tuned hip hop.


P.S. Yes that is a bejeweled whisk around Gucci Mane’s neck.

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Daily Dose of L

Posted in Daily Dose of L with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2009 by letterlbeats

“I’m a perfectionist, I never pressure the pen space.”

-Cee Lo Green

Ok, so I am not a person who blogs, for blog sake. I am going to cut the review of Jay-Z’s album short because it’s not what hip hop is talking about right now and I am trying to make a concerted effort to stay relevant. The album is dope no doubt, but like he and Swizz say, “On to the next.”

I have a few things I wanted to talk about but first I need to talk about the 2009 VH1 Hip Hop Honors that honored 25 years of Def Jam. VH1 as always done a good job of going above and beyond the standard of present day hip hop awards shows and really making our love for the culture feel legitimate. One of the highlights for me was the performance by Public Enemy and Black Thought performing LL Cool J’s Rock The Bells. Actually I loved the whole thing because I forgot about the performance with Method Man and Mary J. Blige performing You’re All I Need. The Trey Songz and Warren G collaboration on Regulators left a bit to be desired but you can’t re-create everything.


I have only made about three beats in the last week or so. I am waiting on some new equipment. As well, I haven’t been sampling very much at all. Obviously Jason is happy about that. But the biggest thing I have been doing is seeking inspiration. I like to dump images and sounds into my brain. I like to hear what other producers are making so I will be motivated to be better than them. I like to absorb culture so I can reflect it in my music. That’s why I love web surfing. I can see all of the videos and images I want. I love big colorful websites. I found Tha Bizness website (they made Drake’s Every Girl and Jeezy’s My President Is Black) and it’s awesome. I also DJ Khalil’s site and he has a ton of web videos. His studio is raaaaw. I like the direction musically he is going as well. He is starting to straddle a Rock/Hip Hop line that I was delving into for awhile this summer. Jason and Young General were feeling that also. But inspiration is the key.


Daily Dose of L

Posted in Daily Dose of L with tags , , , on October 7, 2009 by letterlbeats

This is the sixth entry in a series that will review each track on Jay-Z’s new Blueprint 3 album.

Jay-Z Performing

The next song called On To The Next One features and was produced by Swizz Beats. Honestly, on the first few listens, I thought the song was just weird. There is some weird chorus of people singing an inaudible lyric that sounds something like, “on to the next.”

Swizz Beatz

It’s definitely very different but what I do recognize is that there is a relationship between the oddly unique beat and the message of the song. To summarize what Jay was saying; as a trendsetter he might do one particular thing on one particular day that people emulate for years after, yet he moves on to setting the next trend as quickly as he adopted the last. In essence the beat itself is so different from what else is out there in hip hop that he is already setting the next trend. Not a bad song overall but I didn’t care for it very much.

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Daily Dose of L

Posted in Daily Dose of L with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 5, 2009 by letterlbeats

This is the fifth entry in a series that will review every track on Jay-Z’s Blueprint 3 album.

“And if you listen hard enough I say some things”

As I begin this fifth entry about Jay-Z’s collaboration effort with Young Jeezy entitled Real As It Gets, I can’t help but feel like the album is losing steam. I could definitely be wrong because I don’t listen to the radio that often and I don’t watch 106 & Park because it comes on during the 5pm broadcast of Sportscenter. According to, he has surpassed the 900,000 albums sold mark which is a monumental accomplishment in today’s music market, let alone hip hop. He has gone nearly platinum in less than four weeks.

Roca-Wear Retreat

The song Real As It Gets is another good solid effort. This was a particular point in the album where I felt like they were going for the status quo as opposed reaching for something unique. The beat reminds me of Maybach Music. It’s that “New South” sound that aims for a grand, epic sounding record in the same vein as producers like DJ Toomp and J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League. The record was done by The Inkredibles, are a production duo from Richmond, Virginia, who have had a taste of almost every new artist from the South in the last 2 years plus credits for Fat Joe, Mary J. Blige, Lloyd, Akon, Trey Songz and everyone else in between.

Producer's Edge

Lyrically the song finds Jeezy saying more with less when usually he’s saying less with less. I like the line that says, “You know I keep that 47, Uday Hussein,” which is a reference to Uday Hussein, son of Saddam, who had a youtube video of himself shooting off an AK-47 assault rifle.

Lyrically the song finds Jay-Z letting Jeezy shine (he’s been known for doing this since Renegade on Blueprint 1 with Eminem) but still tossing out effortless gems like, “Set sail, I used to duck shots but now I eat quail.” Go ahead and marinate on that one for a minute.

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Daily Dose of L

Posted in Daily Dose of L with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 25, 2009 by letterlbeats

This is the fourth entry in a series that will review each track on Jay-Z’s new Blueprint 3 album.

“I can make Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee can”‘

Blueprint 3

Next up on the record is Empire State of Mind featuring Alicia Keys. I feel bad reviewing the tracks so soon after the release of the album because as I am hearing the songs in different settings and as I hear them more and more, some of them are starting to grow on me. I didn’t watch the original airing of the MTV Music Video Awards when they ended the show with Jay-Z and Alicia Keys doing this song (and that strange incident with Lil Mama). I finally saw it earlier this week and that made me listen to the song with a new set of ears. Lyrically he really captured the essence of NYC. The unique thing about it is that he captured it from all angles and as multicultured as the city is, all New Yorkers should be able to relate to this song in some way.

Sonically the record is very big. It has a big band sound and Alicia Keys has that classic Broadway style voice that puts it over the top. I just found out that there is a sample in it from The Moments’ Love On a Two Way Street. It wasn’t listed in the credits of the album or at least I didn’t see it when I read them. This is definitely top 3 on the album and Jay did his thing as usual.

Lil Mama

I don’t Think Lil Mama was supposed to be up there…wtf?

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