What Makes An Album a Classic?

The term classic seems to be thrown around way to lightly these days and I think it’s unfair to call every other album that drops a classic, especially after only a day or two of its release. This morning, BBC 1xtra’s twitter page tweeted this 

I rate Kendrick just as much as the next guy, I mean, he’s definitely one of, if not the best rapper out right now. But to call his album a classic after only 2 or 3 days is a bit much.

The dictionary definition of a classic is

classic, klasɪk/

adjective

  1. judged over a period of time to be of the highest quality and outstanding of its kind.

“a classic novel”

The keys words to point out here are clearly “over a period of time“. Sometimes good music gets released, charts well, has everybody singing/rapping along but 6 months down the line it’s forgotten.

For me, for an album to be tagged as a classic it should be at least 3 years old and still holds up. Lyrics should still hold relevance, beats should be timeless and not one track on the album should be skipable. What makes up these points of an album will clearly come down to personal taste but for me, from a strictly rap/Grime point of view. Classic albums are works such as; 2pac – All Eyez On Me, Eminem – The Marshal Mathers LP, Kanye West – The College Dropout, The Fugees – The Score, Wu Tang – 36 Chambers, Nas – Illmatic, Skinnyman – Council Estate Of Mind, Klashekoff – The Sagas Of. I could go on and on but that’s a small list to get the point across.

I’m not saying the new Kendrick Album isn’t going to be a classic, because on first listen it is a very good album. But only time can make it a classic. It’s almost like social media just over hypes everything these days. A few good tracks and people are calling rappers the GOAT. Greatness, like the term classic needs to be earned.

The Brits 2017 – The Good, The Bad & The Grimy

I couldn’t help but wake up this morning with the feeling that we’d been ripped off at the Brits last night. All day TV & newspapers were talking about this thing we call Grime. Articles on Stormzy & Skepta dominated headlines and after least years controversy surrounding a lack of diversity at the awards we all thought this would be the year. Yet, when no grime artists walked away with any award I wasn’t even shocked. It felt like they’d only been nominated to keep people quiet. But it wasn’t all bad.

All the news and publicity surrounding the scene has to be scene a positive. But the real stand out, inspiring moments came from Skepta’s live performance of Shut Down. He stood alone in the centre of the stage. No hype man, no backing dancers. Just him, & he smashed it. Social media moaned about the cutting out of audio during several parts of the song including the chorus which made it very stop start for people watching at home, but his energy & dominance could not be silenced! He owned it, not only did he own the stage he brought real life lyrical content to prime time television and received a standing ovation from the crowd, including Simon Cowell.

Then at the end of the night Ed Sheeran brought out man like Big Mike to duppy the show once and for all. A hugely impressive performance from the duo will be sure to increase Stormzy’s profile on the global stage, and as his first solo album is dropping on Friday, it’s come at the perfect time. Stormzy even tweeted after he show that it had been one of the best days of his life.

So what did we learn from this experience?
Grime has come along way since its days of pirate radio & Risky Roads DVDs. In fact, it’s come so far that the media & industry can longer ignore it. This is the sound of the British streets. This is our culture & it’s here to stay. But as far as acceptance goes by the mainstream, we’re still lacking in some places but that’s cool. Everyone loves an underdog, plus who needs the Brits when we’ve got The MOBOs & The Rated Awards?

5 Mistakes NEW MCs or ‘Bedroom Rappers’ Make.

Over the past 8 years or so, both the way we listen to music & the way we make it have changed dramatically. The power of the internet, YouTube & sites like mixtape madness have made it easier than ever to download new music and put new music out. These days anyone can set up a studio at home for next to nothing and with a smart phone be up and running in no time. But yet a lot of young and aspiring rappers go wrong early on. Here’s WHAT NOT TO DO when starting out.

So, you’ve just written your first 16 and your gassed. You want all your bredrins to hear it and you want to share it with the world. So you get out your phone/webcam and record it over a beat you found on YouTube. 99% of the time, in this situation the result will be the same. 
1. A lack of confidence, it’s your first time and you’re nervous. That ain’t a good look. Confidence is important life, and when your rapping people need to believe you. If you don’t believe in yourself how can you expect anyone else to? 

2. You haven’t practiced the new bars enough so you stutter or get words wrong. Maybe having to restart, again, this is not a good look. So before you decide to share your new bars online, practice. Practice, practice, then practice some more. Spit them to your bredrin at home. No camera, just spit and tell them to be honest. If your boys ain’t rating you, don’t expect strangers to, ask them what you need to change but try and pick someone who’s a fan of the type of music you want to make. You can’t expect a pop fan to rate bars. 

3. The sound quality is poor & the camera ain’t great. Think about your sound quality, record it over and over again until you get the sound levels right & think about your settings, is your voice too load? Is the beat too loud? Are the speakers crackling? All of these things matter. If you want people to hear what you’re saying you need make sure it’s recorded at a decent level.

4. A messy room in the background. Try and keep a plain wall behind you or at least tidy up. Nobody wants to see your dirty washing in the background while you rap. Don’t give a troll any ammo. Image means a lot in this game.

5. Last but not least. Tell the truth. Wether you make rap, grime or whatever, lyrics are important and the saying real recognise real, it’s real. Most rappers exaggerate, but don’t flat out lie. No one will believe you, you’ll sound like a fool and again you’ll just be arming the trolls. Keep it real, and keeping it real doesn’t mean rap about road shit. It means if your on the roads talk that, but if you’re not, don’t. What’s real to you is important & no matter how you live, if you keep it real there will be people out there that can relate & as every rap fan knows. That’s how you get fans.

3 Conscious Hip-Hop Albums You Need To Hear

There’s been so many great conscious Hip-Hop albums over the years. In the golden age of Hip-Hop some of these records sold millions all over the world. Albums from people like 2pac, Public Enemy, Mos Def, KRS1, Common, Brand Nubian & Poor Righteous Teachers to name just a few. But in the modern music industry it’s become rarer to hear such messages of political and spiritual inspired music on the radio and the TV, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. With this is mind, we present to you, 4 modern conscious UK Hip-Hop albums you need to hear.
Lowkey – Soundtrack to The Struggle

Lowkey’s Soundtrack to The Struggle is truly a masterpiece. From the opening track to the last he drops huge amounts of political and cultural knowledge. The album has a feature from the long standing political activist and rapper Immortal Technique, the two combine on ‘The Voice of The Voiceless’. A track that has become a true anthem in the world of conscious hip-hop. There are too many notable tracks on the album to only pick out one or two so we suggest you listen to the whole thing with a nice cuppa tea. Maybe two or three times to really appreciate the work that has gone into it. Lowkey is like a teacher on this album bringing facts over amazingly produced instrumentals, all infused with some moving and powerful skitz.


Akala – The Thief’s Banquet
Akala has a unique sound. When it comes to hip-hop, he definitely has his very own style. He likes to be experimental & there’s no better place to hear his mixture live music based hip-hop mixed with historical facts, amazing flows and captivating performances, than on this album. The title track of the album is where you can really hear all of these elements combined. Some other standout tracks from the album are; Old Soul, Malcolm Said It & Maangamizi Featuring Mic Righteous.


Logic – Spectator

Compared to Lowkey & Akala Logic may be a little less well known but that’s not to say he’s not as good. Spectator is an incredible album. Political rap with a progressive message. Logic has been on the scene for a long time and like the others has several bodies of great music out, but this album is our standout from him. As with the Lowkey album we suggest you listen to whole the thing a couple of times and really digest what he’s saying.

Grime’s most iconic beats!! (Opinion)

It’s seems these days you can no longer turn on the radio without hearing a grime track. But long before grime was a world wide sound, inspiring the likes of Drake & P Diddy it was alive in the underground & on pirate radio. Slowly emerging, creating itself & always evolving. With this in mind, Hold It Dwn have decided to drop a list of the most iconic Grime beats of all time (opinion). So in no particular order;

1. Kano/Kamikaze – Ghetto Kyote

2. Danny Weed – Creeper

3. Wiley – Ice Rink

4. Lethal Bizzle – Forward Riddim

5. Ruff Sqwad – Pied Piper

6. Rebound X – Rythem & Gash

7. Danny Weed – Shank Riddim

8. Wiley – Morgue

9. DPM Recordings – DPM Recordings

10. Jon E Cash – Hoods Up

11. Dizzee Rascal – I Luv U

12. Sir Spyro – Aries Riddim

13. JME – Serious

14. Dizzee Radcal – Just a Rascal

15. Ruff Sqwad – Havana

16. Wiley – Igloo

17. Danny Weed – Salt Beef

18. Dot Rotten – Bazooka

19. Wiley – Snowman

20. Skepta – Autopsy
(Yes, there are many great beats missing here but these are just a personal list of iconic, nostalgic bangers)

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