During my time in New Zealand, I ripped my friend's hard drive for some of his music. There was only one Eyedea and Abilities song on there which I didn't end up taking, but weeks later seeing that I had skipped over it, my friend insisted that I check it out. Luckily I did, as it remains to be one of my favorite hip-hop songs. R.I.P. Eyedea (November 9th, 1981 - October 16th, 2010).

Fresh Off The Press | Cole World: The Sideline Story

I'm crazy busy at school so imma keep this post concise. I've been a huge fan of J. Cole from near the beginning (circa The Warm Up) and having seen him live in Saskatoon, I had huge expectations for his debut. Hey, I'm sure pretty much everyone who'd listened to his last two mixtapes were in the same boat as me. The Warm Up and Friday Night Lights are easily two of my favorite mixtapes of all time and it's been a long time coming. So without further ado here are quick ADD thoughts on the album (Rorschach style) :

Needed more outside production. Most beats sounded too similar. In the Morning should've been a bonus track. Lights Please was good enough to make the tracklist. J. Cole's flow got lazy over the years. I like rapid-fire delivery J. Cole more. Glad to see Jay-Z was able to get on here. Album art is...bad. Should've got hook singers for most songs.

Overall not a bad album, but still a bit disappointing coming from a long time fan. I should clarify that I think it's still worth the purchase since most of the songs were actually pretty good and none of them were reeeaaallllyyy bad, but many sounded mixtape quality to me. I'm still a big fan and I hope J. Cole's sophomore release has more outside production. Especially given J. Cole's connects (Kanye anyone?).

P.S. - I realize this was a pretty unsatisfactory "review" (I wrote this in about 20 minutes), so for another perspective be sure to check out Big Ghostface's review. Especially if you're a fan of Ghostface Killah. Hilarity!

Favorite Tracks:

Lights Please

Sideline Story

Mr. Nice Watch ft. Jay-Z

Lost Ones

God's Gift



100 Days of Summer | part 33

Tonight is a pretty exciting night for us. J.Cole is in Saskatoon for the first time, and we both get to see him perform before his first album releases (Cole World: The Sideline Story // September 27th). Seeing an artist perform before he releases his first album is pretty hard to come by, especially an artist with such an amazing career ahead of him. I am stoked, tonight will be a good time.
In celebration of tonight, I would like to share some of my favourite Cole tracks of all time. Enjoy!

"Killers" - J. Cole
"Grown Simba" - J. Cole
"In The Morning" - J. Cole ft. Drake
"Home For The Holidays" - J. Cole
"You Got It" - J. Cole ft. Wale
"Higher" - J. Cole
"Lights Please" - J. Cole
"Hold It Down" - J. Cole
"A Star Is Born" - Jay-Z ft. J. Cole
"Beautiful Bliss" - Wale ft. Melanie Fiona & J. Cole
"Disgusting" - J. Cole
"Lost Ones" - J. Cole

Fresh Off The Press | Watch The Throne

Congratulations to Jay-Z and Kanye are in order for taking on the entire internet-using community and winning. In the current insta-gratification world we live in, it is all too common for a highly anticipated album to leak out ahead of its expected release date. "The Throne" managed do what was thought impossible and beat the system by releasing their body of work the old fashioned way: on time! *gasp* Needless to say, hype achieved unprecedented levels, and the moment the album was released on iTunes, many in the hip-hop community straight soiled themselves. Probably.

Sure I could take the high road and save the internet from yet another opinion on something that without a doubt has been overly discussed and scrutinized, but wouldn't that defeat the whole purpose of one's blog? Where's the fun in that?

1. No Church In The Wild ft. Frank Ocean - Interestingly enough, it isn't a verse from Jay or Kanye that kicks off the record, but rather it's Frank Ocean's voice who delivers the song's chorus. With such an amazing co-sign from two legendary artists, we can all expect to hear Odd Futures' resident crooner on many more hooks to come. A pretty simple Kanye bass line-driven beat acts as a buildup for the album if anything else. As far as the verses go, I was relieved to hear Jay back on a faster flow than displayed on BP3.

2. Lift Off ft. Beyonce - This track could've been so much more. Not to say this is by any means a bad song, but with such a great instrumental in place, it seemed a shame to hear mostly Beyonce's chorus, Kanye's singing and Jay's bad excuse for a verse performed in lazy flow mode. The breakdown of the beat at the end somewhat redeemed these shortcomings and also worked to blend excellently into Niggas in Paris. (Woah can I type that?)

3. Niggas In Paris (...everybody cool?) - Blades Of Glory sample cracks me up every time. "That shit cray!"

4. Otis ft. Otis Redding - Chuck D criticized this song for it's use of an Otis sample to rhyme about braggadocio. Originally I felt the same way, wondering why "The Throne" couldn't have rapped about something more meaningful. However, nowadays I feel that such an aggressive beat couldn't have been used to its full effect in any other way. Either way, I'm not a big fan of that screaming.

5. Gotta Have It - I was really expecting more of a traditional "I Gotcha" style beat from the Neptunes, so I was completely surprised to hear an Asian influenced sound. Had I guessed, I would've credited the beat to an early 2000's Timbaland. The instrumental is quite repetitive, so it was a good choice to make the song short and sweet.

6. New Day - This was one of my most anticipated songs to hear on the album mainly because: Jay-Z x RZA. The auto-tune sample in the background of the song definitely put me off at first, but it works much better upon multiple listens. Jay and Kanye reflecting upon their potential future children makes for arguably the most personal and compelling subject matter on the album.

7. That's My Bitch ft. Elly Jackson - Heard an unfinished version of this song a while ago, but damn they did great job on mastering it. Track reminds me of Kanye's "Lost In The World" in the tribal drums meets the future kind of way. "Q-Tip on the beat too!"

8. Welcome To The Jungle - *Phew* Swizz Beatz managed to make a pretty decent beat for once. The violin takes Swizzy's simple beat and transforms it into exactly the kind of dark hip-hop I expected to hear on Watch The Throne since H.A.M. came out. Funny that this was the only song I was worried about when I first read the official track listing, and I once thought that Swizz would actually sample "Welcome To The Jungle" for a hip-hop song...

9. Who Gon Stop Me - What the? Is that dubstep? Am I still listening to the collaboration album by Kanye West and Jay-Z called Watch The Throne? Not too bad...

10. Murder To Excellence - Possibly my favorite song on the album, which is about African-American culture's history of violence on "Murder" and then halfway through the song a sudden change of perspective with "Excellence". The powerful sample on the beat definitely provides the winning touch. Looking at the liner notes, it was interesting to see Quincy Jones' name among the contributors since he is one of my favorite producers of all-time for his work with the late Michael Jackson.

11. Made In America ft. Frank Ocean - Nice to hear a more uplifting track that departs from the darker beats that made up the rest of the album. Kanye reminisces on his rise to success while Jay recalls his earlier street hustling days. Frank provides a gentle hook that really gives the song that final push from feel good to feel great. Did you know that it was Kanye's mom who met No I.D. and set up the meeting between them? Ya me neither.

12. Why I Love You ft. Mr. Hudson - This song, in my mind, truly redeems my faith in Jay-Z as a rapper. Nothing but Reasonable Doubt flow on this one. The track mainly features Jay-Z on vocal duty, while Kanye provides an excellent back and forth that I really appreciate when it comes to hip-hop. Hov back!

I doubt there is anyone out there who hasn't just downloaded the whole album, but if you have no space on your iPod or something, I'd call these necessities:

Niggas In Paris

New Day

That's My Bitch ft. Elly Jackson

Murder To Excellence

Why I Love You ft. Mr. Hudson


#Holla | Mo Skate Deck

Not a lot of people can say that they managed a skate shop at 17, or even say they have creative input on the product that the shop produces. I feel extremely privileged to be in the position I am. I can't wait to grow and see where life takes me. With that being said I am pleased to say that the deck design that I helped produce is finally available. Check out the write up I did for!
With most of our staff and team growing up in the late 80's and early 90's it made the most sense to bring back a familiar graphic, and re-vamp it on our first shop deck.  The graphic design was a collaborative effort (idea came from Ryan Mack, hand-drawn by myself, and final touches/photoshop by Jeremy Marucot). We are pleased to say that this deck is now available in sizes varying from 7.625" to 8.5" for only $45. Support your local!
*Thank-you Geoff Warrington for bringing out my inner child in this photo.

100 Days of Summer | part 32

Download: "My Generation" - Nas & Damian Marley ft. Joss Stone & Lil Wayne

100 Days of Summer | part 31

When two styles of hip-hop collide... shit gets good.

Download: "Trouble On My Mind" - Pusha T ft. Tyler The Creator

100 Days of Summer | part 30

Remember when Wale and Wiz Khalifa had dignity? Before Maybach Music and Rolling Papers?... Enjoy!

Download: "The Breeze (Cool)" - Wale ft. Wiz Khalifa

100 Days of Summer | part 29

This song gets more play than the original. Enjoy!

Download: Runaway (4rm A G.O.O.D. Man) f. Smoke DZAJesse Boykins III

100 Days of Summer | part 28

Download: "General Patton" - Big Boi

Cut & Sewn | HUF Summer Collection 2011

HUF has done a great job with their presentation; represented by an elite group of skaters, focusing on staying true to the brand, working on collaborations that relate to the brand, countless footwear commercials, and executing a fun unique collection every season. I have a hard time saying "I don't like this" to anything HUF. The creative minds behind the brand make sure they execute a clean and creative concept to each piece. In my opinion, I think HUF is here to stay... and will grow to be one of the greats.

Recently, I had a conversation with Asif about surrounding yourself around creative minds to help grow each other. With that being said, I can say HUF influenced my sudden urge to be creative and grow as a creative mind. I have always seen myself as an artist (graphic design, painting, drawing), lately I been coming up with some ideas that I want to execute. You can expect to see a more creative aspect on ListenUp. I can't wait to share.

*"365 Project" - 119/365  
Ryan, and I have been sharing thoughts and ideas of a creative way to display a 'look'. Showcasing the 'look' with the activity behind the 'look'. Seeing as HUF just put out one of my favourite collections this Summer, we wanted to share some of my favourites from the collection and using Dom Kennedy's "Grind'n" as some mood setting music. Enjoy!

filmed by Ryan
edited by Ryan & Brennan

We look forward to producing more, so stay tuned!

100 Days of Summer | part 22

I have really been overdosing on OverDoz. ... Enjoy!

Download: "ifyouthrowitimmacatchit" - OverDoz.

100 Days of Summer | part 21

Earlier this week I finally purchased The National's fifth album, 'High Violent' (featured them on ListenUp's Top 10's). Such a smooth album, I suggest you to pick it up. Enjoy!

Download: "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks" - The National

100 Days of Summer | part 20

'Timez Are Weird These Days' will be great. This is a nice remix of the single for the album.

Download: "Why Even Try" (RAC remix) - Theophilus London feat. Sara Quin