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

100 Days of Summer | part 19

Download: "In The Morning" - J.Cole ft. Drake

100 Days of Summer | part 18

Probably one of my favourite new groups right now, they even have a Neptunes co-sign... You know they are good then. Enjoy!

Download: 'Paradise Falls' - Mansions On The Moon

100 Days of Summer | part 17

On Saturday, Ryan (Hello Saskatoon) and myself were discussing the N*E*R*D/The Neptunes before their most recent albums 'Seeing Sounds' and the most recent, 'Nothing'. Reminiscing on old songs and the production behind it, comparing new artists to N*E*R*D and discussing the similarities/differences. It's funny to think that 'In Search Of...' was released 9 years ago (that was when I was 11 years old), and I now realize that N*E*R*D were a huge influence on my taste in music and fashion. With that being said... it encouraged me to take a listen to some of the songs that really influenced me as a kid. Enjoy!

Download: "Rock Star" - N*E*R*D
Download: "Maybe" - N*E*R*D
Download: "Us Placers" - CRS (Pharrell, Lupe, Kanye)

100 Days of Summer | part 16

'For Emma, Forever Ago' was the first time I heard of Bon Iver. Super mellow raw acoustic with strong vocals; The type of music you would listen to laying in your room while you sleep, or while driving around on a rainy day. Bon Iver delivers everytime with emotional meaningful music. I recently stumbled on 2 pieces of work that I never knew was released, 'Blood Bank EP' (2009) and 'Bon Iver' (2011). Both sound completely different than the first album, but in their own ways. 'Blood Bank EP' has a similar sound as the first album, with stronger vocals and a bit less of 'whiny' sound. 'Bon Iver' (the album) sounds fresh and new, less vocals with more instruments; This album in my opinion is completely different than any other music they have released... which may have been the reason for it being self titled (established a new sound; starting fresh).

The past 2 weeks I have had these two albums on repeat: at home and at the shop. Seeing as I believe in supporting musicians I will be purchasing hard copies of these albums ASAP and I want you to too! I like both of these albums from front to back, so I had a tough time picking a favourite song, so I picked the first song from both. Enjoy!

Download: "Blood Bank" - Bon Iver
Download: "Perth" - Bon Iver

100 Days of Summer | part 15

Dom Kennedy is producing really good music! Go purchase the newest work from the Leimert Park native, "From The Westside With Love II".

Download: "O.P.M." - Dom Kennedy

100 Days of Summer | part 14

Growing up in high-school listening to 'The Bake Sale' and dressing like Mikey Rocks, I would say The Cool Kids were a big influence in my life. They changed my taste in music and fashion...
Chuck Inglish and Mikey Rocks are like the Batman and Robin of Hip-Hop. Chuck Inglish produces crazy beats and grabs the mic from time to time, Mikey Rocks has a smooth and smart sound, they are unstoppable when they work together. This year Mikey Rocks put together a solo mixtape, with the help of Chuck Inglish's production and beats. Two words can explain the sound: mature and summer. This is one of my favourite releases from the group. I hope you enjoy! ListenUp.
Download: 'The Rocks Report' - Sir Michael Rocks

100 Days of Summer | part 13

Donald Glover is like the Lebron James of entertainment, he can be in more than one position at a time and still kill it; Hip-Hop Artist, Musician, Actor, Comedian, and Writer. Donald Glover goes by Childish Gambino behind the mic, his rap-style is comparable to Drake but on a whole new level. If you haven't heard any work from Childish, you are missing out...

Smart and witty joke rap over a Grizzly Bear sample... can't get much better than that. He puts punch-line style rappers on the sidelines (Drake). ListenUp.
Download: "Bitch, Look At Me Now" - Childish Gambino

100 Days of Summer | part 12

Tonight... De La... Grind'n...

100 Days of Summer | part 11

To commemorate today, here is Canada's very own with some new music. Happy Canada Day. Enjoy!

Download: "Trust Issues" - Drake

100 Days of Summer | part 10

Tonight, I had an awesome opportunity to see The Black Keys live at TCU Place. Aristo and myself were supposed to go together but tickets sold out, Asif surprised me with an extra ticket! I was so stoked.

The show was so good! Everything you can expect and more. Great performers, the lighting and sound were amazing. Performed songs from the new album "Brothers"(may have seen on "ListenUp's Top 10's... here and here) and even some older songs. This duo (from Akron, Ohio) thoroughly impressed me with their live performance. If you haven't heard any music from The Black Keys, I suggest you go buy their albums and even see them live! With that being said...

Download: "Everlasting Light" - The Black Keys

100 Days of Summer | part 8

I have a really broad taste for music. This next track might throw a lot of people off... but Florence + The Machine is one of my favourite new artists. Florence Welch's angelic powerful voice accompanied by a group symphony of talented musicians is something you should not ignore. I suggest you to listen to the live track below, download the track and buy the album ("Lungs"). ListenUp.

Download: "Cosmic Love" - Florence + The Machine

Fresh Off The Press | Finally Famous: The Album

I'll admit it. I most definitely slept on Big Sean. In fact, I have yet to listen to a single one of his mixtapes. The first time I heard him rap was on Kanye West's Good Friday, where Big Sean left little to no impression on me. However, after hearing that No I.D was behind the boards on his debut, there was no doubt in my mind that even if his "raps were wack" No I.D's production would be enough to salvage the album. In a way, my predictions rung true.

After a thorough listen of Finally Famous, I have only two qualms regarding Big Sean as an artist. Firstly, although Big Sean is able to time his verses to the beat most of the time, he often tries to rush his rhymes, which forces him to play catch up at the start of his next verse. Secondly, Big Sean shows humorous wordplay but almost no substance. Instead of using his platform to discuss more meaningful issues such as his struggle to break into the industry, the pressures of sudden celebrity, or even to perhaps tell a story, damn near every song is about the most typical topics in hip-hop (girls and money). However, if you're like me and are able to enjoy "mainstream hip-hop" as long as the production is tight, you will definitely enjoy most of this album. No I.D's production is marvelous enough to make up for most of Big Sean's lyrical shortcomings.

On Finally Famous, Big Sean shows several strengths: his ear for good beats and his ability to write songs that appeal to a large audience. However, he needs to focus on writing more compelling subject matter if he wants to be considered one of the greats further down the line.


Replay Button Music:

I Do It

Wait For Me ft. Lupe Fiasco

Memories Part II ft. John Legend

High ft. Wiz Khalifa & Chiddy Bang

Celebrity ft. Dwele

100 Days of Summer | part 7

Just because 'The Old Prince' has been on repeat in my car all week... I will share with you one of my favourite tracks off of the album. 

One of my favourite verses from the album: 
I Tunes, eye-patch
I'm in the same boat where the pirates be
Tell'em I'm down with that pirate stee
They don't buy it, I say don't buy it - pirate me
If it's ill, it'll spread virally
From my received folders to
Appearin in the love that the crowds show
(shhh) if it sound dope - keep it on the downlo(ad)
Keep it real, player
With the volume cranked
And I'll be ballin like Tim Duncan - callin bank
Cash - banked it
But the bank said
That my cheque's been bouncing like the bankhead

100 Days of Summer | part 3

Earlier this year, I had the privilege to see Tokyo Police Club live @ Louis' in Saskatoon. One of the best live shows that I have ever been to. They played almost all of their songs off of their 3 studio albums, and it sounded even better live than on the albums. I have been a fan of Tokyo Police Club for a really long time (since 2005), so the concert was long overdue. 'Champ' released in 2010 (you may have seen it on 'ListenUp's Top 10's of 2010'), it is my favourite album from them and it has been playing everyday at work (Momentum Marketplace). Enjoy! ("Frankenstein" is my favourite!)

Download: 'Champ' - Tokyo Police Club

100 Days of Summer | part 1

Download: Big Sean feat. John Legend - Memories (Part II)

ListenUp. presents. 100 Days of Summer

Summer has officially started! Summer and music go hand and hand; backyard bbq's, roadtrips, music festivals, skateboarding, house parties, laying on a beach. All of these wouldn't be the same without good music and summer weather. 
I get asked everyday: "What are you listening to right now?". This Summer I am going to share what I am listening to. I have a wide range of music taste. Look forward to 100 days of music this summer. ListenUp.

Fresh Off The Press | The Original Dom Kennedy

With a long hiatus, I am back and ready to share my insight, and new endeavours in my life. Dom is the perfect summer sound, seems right to kick off the summer with The Original Dom Kennedy (released in March 2011).
*click the album art for download

Almost a year after my favorite mixtape of all time (From The Westside With Love), the Leimert Park native provides us with another chill summer collection of west coast hiphop. Feel good music with everything you can expect and more, Dom delivers matching every beat with his mono-toned, smooth voice. Sharing stories of past, present, and future. Teaming up with some young and talented California up & coming artists (cARTer, Cassie Veggies). It's crazy that this was a stealth release; the public had no idea that this project was even underway... the production, rhymes, beats, and mixtape as a whole is on point... even every track has it's own artwork...

Here are a couple of music visuals...

You can look forward to more DOM in... From The Westside With Love II (2 weeks from today... June 28th). 

Stay tuned for a new project, I am working on...