Posts Tagged ‘Bruce Lean Chronicles’

The distinction between albums, LPs, EPs, and mixtapes was at it’s cloudiest point to date in 2012, and there is relatively no chance that any of those distinctions crystallize into something meaningful ever again.  The reality is that these days most rappers put together “projects,” and those projects either get released for free or they get released for a fee.  Among the projects that get released for free are those where a rapper raps over other people’s instrumentals or samples he or she has no intention of trying to clear.  There are also projects labeled as mixtapes or given away for free, that have entirely original production that get released for free and some of those projects ended up on Hardwood Blacktop’s Best 15 Albums of 2012 list.  To be honest, I’m not overly concerned with those distinctions anymore other than the fact that those of us who like to write about rap like to have a way to differentiate between certain types of releases for the purpose of end of the year lists and things like that.  So here are my picks for best mixtapes of 2012, by my own current loosely defined understanding of that term, which does not necessarily take into account whether a rapper deemed something a mixtape or not (but it might).  In general these projects are not of nearly as high quality as the top albums of 2012, otherwise they would’ve made that list, as you can see from that list there are a couple of “albums” that made the cut that most would classify as mixtapes (Sunday School, ParaphernaliaGod of Black EP, MMM Season).  If you’re keeping score at home, those projects would have been at the top of this list.

Meek Mill featuring Big Sean – “Burn”

1. Meek Mill – Dreamchasers 2 – Download

Sometimes a rapper’s (Jadakiss, Fabolous, and Joe Budden just to name a few) game just translates a little bit better to the mixtape circuit than it does to album making.  Whether that has to do with them being better situated to making “street singles” than it does to them making tracks for the club or radio, or whether it has to do with the lack of record label oversight in the mixtape process, or whether the DJs they work with in the mixtape process are actually better A&R’s than their record label A&R’s, the end result is a consistently better free product vs. fee product. It’s too early to say that Meek Mill will always fall into that category as his major label debut Dreams & Nightmares certainly showed promise and contained some great individual songs (“Dreams & Nightmares (Intro)” and “Traumatized”).  There is no doubt though that in 2012, Meek dropped another mixtape (he’s done this a few times before) that was better than a vast majority of the albums that came out in the same year.  Perhaps the most interesting part of Meek as a mixtape artist is that he’s not just someone who drops a flurry of battle-ready sixteens over a bunch of other people’s instrumentals. In fact, some of his best radio singles have been the result of his mixtape work over the last couple of years, hits like last year’s “House Party,” “Tupac Back” and “I’m A Boss” and this year’s “Burn,” “Amen,” and “Flexing” all came from his mixtapes or from the MMG compilations.  By contrast  only  from the first MMG compilation (a mixtape-like project) has really garnered the same buzz.  And while his label has pushed the hell out of “Young and Gettin’ It,” there’s just no way that’s a better direction for Meek than any of the aforementioned tracks.  Dreamchasers 2 was Meek’s most complete offering to date, bringing tracks suitable to almost every type of rap listener and packing plenty of that V-12 energy we’ve come to expect from Philly’s brightest star. While it does drag on a bit as songs begin to run together a little bit after the first nine or ten tracks on the mixtape, there may not have been a better example of hungry street-oriented rapping in 2012.

Choice Cuts: “Burn,” “Amen,” “Ready Or Not,” “A1 Everything

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Jackie Chain dropped his Bruce Lean Chronicles this week, which is his second project this year, and is Hardwood Blacktop’s pick for feel good album of the Summer.  I caught up with Jackie to discuss Bruce Lean Chronicles, the follow-up project Bruce Lean Chronicles Part 2, his debut album with Universal Ain’t Slept In Weeks, his excellent production connections, his creative process, and his growth as an emcee.

JB: Talk a little bit about the scene in Huntsville, Alabama.  You guys have one of the best rap scenes in the US these days, just in terms of the number of quality artists that have come out of there in the last few years.  What do you attribute that to?

Jackie Chain:

Man, we kind of got our own unique style man and our own swag because we’re in the middle of almost everything where we’re three hours from Atlanta, we’re an hour from Nashville, we’re right down the street from Memphis, Texas is a very big influence.  So it’s like we get a lot of these different influences and then we kind of formed our own style.  And I just really think it’s starting to come to the light man.  People are starting to notice it.

JB: Talk a little bit about your relationship with Slow Motion Soundz/Block Beataz.

Jackie Chain:

I’ve known them for over ten years man.  Mali Boi has been one of my main producers ever since I started.  A lot of my biggest songs he did, so Mali’s always gonna be family.

JB: Let’s talk a little bit about a  few songs from your latest free album Bruce Lean Chronicles. First up, talk to people about the track, “First Love,”

Jackie Chain:

You know it’s a produced by Diplo who’s a good friend man.  A lot of people just know me for my trap music, my hood music, my street music, my down south type music and  I just wanted to show that even though I don’t do it a lot – I can get down.  I really wanted to do something for the hip hop heads and showcase that you know I’m not the best rapper out there, but I can get down.    So I just wanted something for the real hip hop heads.  I love storytelling rap, I don’t feel like I do it enough, but I love doing it.  And I love when I hear other rappers do it.  It’s a break for the norm for people, because most of my music is club songs or songs about things we do.  I just wanted to give ’em a little bit of everything on this mixtape.

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