Diggin’ Through the Crates: Alex Ruffin “Overdosed on Reality”

Song: “Overdosed on Reality”

Artist: Alex Ruffin

Album: U.B.E.R (Usually Better Every Rhyme) (mixtape 2012)

Lyric: “Got the Juice like Q and Bish/Showed my ass before rap I’ve never been a nudist/Thriving harder than the mutants/in the sewer, they like Koopa/I’m TMNT they never touched the goo”

Character Reference/Meaning:

Coming to “DTC” this week may be a lesser known artist, but I guarantee you he is OVER 9,000 on the nerdy scale for rappers. On Alex Ruffin’s 2012 mixtape, he released several songs that show off his inner nerd. Not counting this week’s feature, he mentions The Matrix, Doctor Doom, Luke Cage, and several others. However, his nerdiest song may in fact be “Overdosed on Reality.” It truly was hard to pick just a single lyric from this week’s song. For honorable mention, and to flex his nerdiness I feel some of the other lyrics must be shared. “While they acting my thumb is playing Galactus/Just writing up something mean while the other four are fantastic.” NERDY. “It’ll knock you right off your feet like I whooped you in Mortal Kombat/ I set myself up to win if they ballin all of em Bobcats.” NERDY. “I put in hard work while they paying for pipe dreams/I’m fighting for what is right if you robbin’ I’m Nightwing.” NERDY.

So it’s clear to see that without a doubt, Alex Ruffin is a nerd. Perhaps his nerdiest hard hitting lyric speaks about the heroes in a half-shell, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Basically what Alex Ruffin is saying in this lyric is that even though he is realtively unknown, most rappers these days can’t even compete with him. Similar to the Turtles, Ruffin is underground doing his rap thing and all of those artist that are mainstream just can’t keep up. Just for a second imagine Koopa, the lovable little turtle from Super Mario or any other Mario video game. Yes he is cool, playful, and cheery. Now take another second and imagine Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael from the notorious Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. They are badass, fearless, and just overall awesome. Now take half a second and imaging Koopa fighting the TMNT. It didn’t take very long to come up with a winner, and I won’t even ask you to come up with any fraction of a second to figure out who you would rather be, the answer is just too obvious. That is what Alex Ruffin is trying to stab through your head. Much of this song speaks about the work he has been putting into his craft and the passion he has for his art. He is trying to become great and the only way to do that is through hard work. So while everyone else out there is comfortable being a pet store turtle or Koopa, Ruffin is searching for that mutagen ooze (if he hasn’t found it already) to take him to the next level.

You know who else is looking for some goo/ooze? Michael Bay. Coming out in August 2014, Michael Bay will be bringing us the much anticipated live action TMNT movie. Starring Megan Fox as TV reporter April O’Neil – which the jury is still out on, Alan Ritchson (Raphael), Noel Fisher (Michelangelo), Jeremy Howard (Donatello), and Pete Ploszek (Leonardo) we are all hoping we will have a masterpiece on our hands. Unfortunately, this movie looks to depart from both the comic book and movie origin. Whether they are aliens from a distant planet or test-tube subjects, the warrior spirit of the turtles will remain intact. With the recent trailer that just was released, there is a lot to be hopeful for in regards to this soon to be movie. I don’t know about you but I sure am looking forward to it. I can almost guarantee you that Alex Ruffin is just as excited as anyone else. So on a closing note, GO NINJA GO NINJA GO!

Diggin’ Through the Crates: Army of the Pharaohs “God Particle”

Song: “God Particle”

Artist: Army of the Pharaohs

Album: In Death Reborn (to be released April 22, 2014)

Lyric: “You know Lois Lane know my name/I’m throwing flames at your brain like Ghost Rider, my flow’s tighter.”

Character Reference/Meaning:
Coming to the DTC stage this week is none other than the rap super group, Army of the Pharaohs. This group originally formed by Vinnie Paz, the MC for another hard hitting under-ground rap group you may have heard of called Jedi Mind Tricks. With their soon to be released album In Death Reborn, which has been in the works for several years, they are pulling no punches in hopes of creating greatness. What better way to show the Hip-Hop community that you are rough, rugged, and Hip-Hop royalty than spitting off some nerdy lyrics. I can’t think of one, because as I have said time and time again, if you are nerdy you will become a rapper. Therefore, if you are a rapper, chances are you are nerdy. The proof is right in front of us with our lyric of the week.

Time to break it down people. Now why in the world would Lois Lane know who this group is? I mean, isn’t she only caught up on the big stories about big name people such as Superman and other heroes? EXACTLY, what Esoteric from Army of the Pharaohs is trying to tell you is that they are a big deal, and if you aren’t convinced, then their next album is out to prove it. Seeing that Lois Lane is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, she seems like the only viable and capable candidate to bring their story to light in their rebirth. Basically, Esoteric is telling you that Army of the Pharaohs is big enough to capture the attention of Lois Lane. Sure, Superman can fly, lift heavy things, and stop bullets, but can he make you sing along to lyrics and nod your head to a beat? From the sounds of this lyric is appears that their album is going to do more than make your head nod. It’s quite possible it’ll make your whole head explode.

Similar to Ghost Rider, AOTP is going to be spitting hot fire like Dylan, so much in fact that by the end of the album, you’ll just be a skull with flames. Ignition point, the headphones. However that is not the only thing AOTP has in common with Ghost Rider, similar to how they are releasing their new album and it being titled In Death Reborn Ghost Rider is also being “reborn.” Just recently Marvel has regained the movie rights to the Ghost Rider franchise and look to do a possible reboot with the series. Even though nothing is confirmed about releasing new movies, hopefully this won’t be the last we see of Johnny Blaze. So even though we may not see Ghost Rider on the big screen any time soon, we will see him return to comic book shelves this month. Well actually, Johnny Blaze won’t graced the shelves at all. In fact writer Felipe Smith and artist Tradd Moore are introducing a brand new Ghost Rider completely.

The new hot head goes by the name of Robbie Reyes, a young high school student who grew up in the harsh inner city of East L.A. Even though he isn’t as experienced in life as Blaze, he still shares the same mistrust of people, quick to anger attitude, and violent surroundings that define Ghost Rider. Possibly one of the biggest changes that we will see in the comics is that Reyes won’t be sporting a Harley or a Hog, but rather he will be on 4 wheels. Instead of driving a motorcycle, the new series will have Reyes in a classic Dodge Charger. Don’t fear though, the wheels and a majority of the car is still engulfed in flames. Honestly I’m not sure how I feel about this, but based off the prints that have been appearing, it still looks bad ass. With issue #1 set to drop in March, issue #2 in April, and In Death Reborn the same month, I can already tell it’s going to be a month full of bad-ass-ery. Moral of the story, check out Army of the Pharaohs new album, check out All-New Ghost Rider (#1 drops on 3/26), and above all else, be a fancy pants nerd.

Written by Evan Lowe

Diggin’ Through the Crates: Honors English “The Name Is”

Song: “The Name Is…”

Artist: Honors English

Album: State of the Art (2012)

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Lyric: “Count the MCs sick as me you need two missing hands/ Cause I ticket booth/ Movie it, Beast, Wolverine, Sabertooth in it/ I silence ‘em , yeah, this that mutant (mute’n) shit.”

Character Reference/Meaning:
It is an “honor” to present Honors English to “DTC” this week. Even though Honors English may not be as well-known as other artists such as Eminem or Kanye West, I guarantee you he is just as nerdy. English, which is actually his given surname proves to the world that you don’t have to be a thug to rap. Growing up in Trenton, NJ, English became a lover of music at a very early age making music with his uncle. When we became older he took his talents to Florida A&M where he received a degree in African-American Studies and a graduate degree in History. Around the campus he was well known for carrying a boom box and battle rapping anyone who would step up. English, met Grammy Award-winning producer Needlz several years before putting out this album. Even though State of the Art is his debut piece of work, he is no rookie. Feeling that his chances were shot and lost, he decided to step away from hip hop and became a professor of history at the same university he graduated from. However it is clear after listening to State of the Art that English is coming back with a vengeance while teaming up with his old business partner Needlz. With songs like “Second Chances”, “Crazay”, “Highlight Real” and “Palin And Bachman” it’s pretty clear that he is no schmuck. In fact he lets you know that in this week’s DTC song, “The Name Is…” All throughout this song Honors English is dropping amazing lyrics that guarantee you will not forget his name. His lyrics are downright sharp. So sharp that he is claiming that if you were going to try to count lyricists out there that can compete with him, you might as well not have hands at all, because they don’t exist. I could see little 12 year old English now, reading famous X-Men comics that depict brutal fights involving the very animal like Beat, Wolverine, and Sabertooth. Not only are all these characters able to rip or cut your hands off if you question the quality of lyrics coming from English but they are money makers in the box office. The hook from this song states, “Come with the chedda please if you wanna schedule me/ the name is Honors English and I’m a fucking beast” so of course Honors is trying to reach the profit level that the X-Men franchise has made in the movie theaters alone. However, he also wants people to know it’s not always about the money, but rather the talent. That is why he release State of the Art for free. He spoke in an interview with HipHopDX where he stated, “We always felt that we want our music to be heard first, and if people get a chance to hear it, we believe that they will be impacted by it and that we will have a fan base, and then from there we can get money through shows, merchandise and other things.” So for all of you handless people out there that still believe Honors English doesn’t have something to show this world, he has a contingency plan just in case. I love the play on words he is bringing into Professor English’s School for Gifted MCers, he is out to prove that he has talent, and if you challenge him, he will silence you with his play on words. If you still need reasons to check out Honors English I will list a few, 1- He is Educated and provides an educated outlook on hip hop. 2- He is working with a Grammy Award-winning producer. 3- He will cut your hands off. 4- He is a mutant. If you to know more about Honors English or download his album for free, visit his website http://thehonorssociety.com/. And remember, we should all be, “Mutant and Proud”

Diggin’ Through the Crates: Lupe Fiasco “Lightwork”

Artist: Lupe Fiasco

Song: “Lightwork”

AlbumFriend of the People: I Fight Evil (2011), a mixtape that followed up his third studio album (Lasers). Free download here.

Lyric: “They wanna be fiascoes, reproduce his failures/Emperor is his alias, but not Marcus Aurelius/This is more like Sparta: kick you down a well, kid”

Character Reference/Meaning:

With the release of 300: Rise of an Empire, we felt that this week’s “Diggin’ Through the Crates” had to be a reference to 300. Most casual fans might not know that before Gerard Butler was dining in hell, 300 was a mini-series run published by Dark Horse Comics in 1999 written by Frank Miller, the same creative genius behind Sin City, The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One. Not only does today mark the return of 300 to the theaters, but it also marks the return of Lupe Fiasco to “DTC.” A few months ago, Lupe made the pages of Hush for his Wolverine references. We try to switch up the artists as much as we can, but this was the best Spartan/300 reference out there – And believe me, there were plenty to choose from.

Just to catch some people up, the scene in 300 that Lupe is referencing is when a Persian messenger comes to relay a message to the King of Sparta, Leonidas. The message is this: we own you now; lay down your arms, kneel before us, and we won’t slaughter your men and enslave your children. It sounded like quite the raw deal, as Leonidas thought, and so he showed his hospitality by kicking the messenger down a giant well. Aside from being one crowd-pleasing moment, it’s also a sentiment that resonates within the Hip-Hop community.

In poor, urban communities like the ones Wasalu Jaco (Lupe) grew up in, there’s always somebody coming in to take what you and yours have. This might surprise you, but a lot of the time, that doesn’t always come in the shape of peers. The Athenians and Spartans frequently butt heads. They fought with each other for the dominance of Greece multiple times. When the Persian empire came to their doorstep, both were out-powered by the unstoppable force.

Today, gentrification and police abuse are the Xerxes and prison is the new slavery (oh yeah, I went there). Young black men are constantly antagonized by the police officers and ridiculed by white wealth. It’s no surprise that Hip-Hop artists gravitate towards being able to tell somebody to get the hell out of their home.

Fun Fact:

The line “They wanna be fiascoes, reproduce his failures” is a clever play on words, as the word “fiasco” is actually Greek for failure. Lupe also references Marcus Aurelius, a Greek philosopher that the Spartans saw as a personification for weakness. You can tell Lupe really does his homework.

So Far this Week… March 5, 2014

With the expansion of Hush Comics, we have decided to give bi-weekly news updates.  Anything we find news-worthy will be posted here bi-weekly.  Have anything to add?  Post it in the comments!

Those sneaky bastards at Rocksteady took a year off (Arkham Origins was developed by WB Montreal) so they could work on Batman: Arkham Knight, the finale to the Arkham trilogy. Coming out this year for next-gen consoles, my mind is exploding with excitement. I mean, just look at the trailer:

Norman Reedus, Daryl Dixon himself, will be joining Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show in just a few hours. I can’t wait to see what kind of shenanigans they pull tonight. Just a couple days ago, Fallon, The Roots and Idina Menzel did a back-stage performance of “Let it Go” from Frozen.

People got legitimately upset when Tony Hawk and Funny or Die duped everybody into thinking hover boards had finally arrived.

The Iron Throne meets the wheelz of steel! HBO has gathered a bunch of rappers to create their very own Game of Thrones mixtape. It should give us enough material for our “Diggin’ Through the Crates” article for months. It’s expected to drop on Friday.

It’s about to go down in Arrow. Ollie may be fancied a hero in Starling City, but he’s made plenty of enemies – namely Suicide Squad and Deathstroke.

It’s been quite some time since Michael Bay has blown some shit up. A full-length trailer of Transformers 4 has been released, and, sad to say, I don’t really care what it’s about; I just wanna see Optimus Prime pimp-slap a Dinobot.

More casting for DC television shows Constantine and Gotham, among them being Harold Perrineau Jr. (one of my favorites on HBO’s Oz), who will play an angel who looks over Constantine.

To promote their upcoming Original Sin event, Marvel will be supplying the retailers willing to put up the big bucks with eyeballs. Awesome…Your move, DC.

As Deadpool has been fighting with and against everything in the Marvel universe, it was only time until he took on one of the symbiotes. Deadpool vs. Carnage comes out within the month.

He might be a nice guy in real life, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt is looking mean in the brand new teaser for Sin City 2.

LeBron James’ 61 point game inspired Marvel to post a drawing of him with a Captain America mask, probably to detract from the Batman comparisons made with the black one.

Lando was one smooth guy in Star Wars, but can Billie Dee Williams still pull off the moves when he joins the cast of Dancing With the Stars?

The Justice League is flying back onto the shelves of your local grocery stores. General Mills cereal boxes with contain comic books starring the DC team of all-stars throughout the month of March.

The conclusion of The Walking Dead: Governor novels is finally here. Released on Tuesday, Fall of the Governor: Part 2 completes a long-winded series of books. We loved the first book, but the rest of them have been so lackluster, we’re debating whether or not to finish it out.

Diggin’ Through the Crates: KRS-One “Nothing New”

ALL BLACK EVERYTHING

Artist: KRS-One

Song: “Nothing New”

AlbumHip Hop Lives (2007)

Lyric: “The streets won’t forgive you man, them guns go BLAM/ Have you crawlin up the wall like Spider-Man… But no, you ain’t made for this/I put my hand through your chest like Agent Smith.”

Character Reference/Meaning:

If you are even going to begin a conversation about pioneers of the Hip-Hop world, KRS-One (Knowledge Reigns Supreme) A.K.A “The conscience of Hip-Hop” A.K.A “The spokesperson for Hip-Hop” better be one of the tops of conversation. KRS-One has been deemed these nicknames by Rolling Stone, The Source and even the Wall Street Journal and the Zulu Nation. With Black History Month coming to an end, it only seemed right to have KRS-One bless “DTC.” Later on, I will speak more on how comic books and being nerdy could possibly relate to someone like KRS-One, but for now I want to take some time to focus on KRS-One – a Hip Hop god.

Above many other KRS was one of the notable Hip Hop heads in the community that used his power of music and reach to make positive progression for black culture. In 1988-89 KRS-One started the “Stop the Violence Movement” in response to the continuing violence heard throughout hip hop music and the black community. Collaborating with some of the biggest stars out of the East Coast Hip-Hop scene, KRS-One release a song called “Self Destruction,” with all the proceeds going toward the National Urban League.

KRS-One has always tried to spread positive messages to the black community, with songs such as “Sound of da Police,” which speaks on how the police treat people of color, and how their power is often abused and unjust. Another positive song that helps deem KRS-One a king of Hip-Hop is “Hip-Hop Vs. Rap.” KRS-One states in this song, “Rap is something you do, Hip Hop is something you live.” You know what else he said in “Hip Hop Vs. Rap”? He said, “When these suckers don’t respect it, check it/ FLAME ON, I know the light is bright but keep on watching me.” Um, excuse me, Mr. One, but your nerdy side is beginning to show.

Beyond rap music, Hip-Hop is a way of life that the black community truly has adopted and made their own. This goes deep down into his bones, seeing that he is the founder of the Temple of Hip Hop. The Temple of Hip Hop is a: ministry, archive, school, and society (M.A.S.S.). The goal is to encourage artists and radio stations to write, and play more socially conscious music, and also to maintain and promote Hip-Hop culture, KRS-One believes that Hip-Hop is more than music, break dancing and graffiti, but rather it is a political movement, a religion, and a culture. This has gotten the United Nation to recognize Hip Hop, as a full-fledged religion. What? Hip-Hop as a religion? YES, if you do not have faith, then I encourage you to pick up at your local book store, The Gospel of Hip Hop: The First Instrument, which has been referred to as the “Hip-Hop Bible.”

I know this is all fine and dandy but I haven’t really tied in comic books at all yet, well hold on to your Underoos because coming your way is some comic related info. When KRS-One was just a 6 year-old Lawrence Parker (1971), he started collecting both comic books and toys in Harlem New York, right around the time he starts to become interested in history, religion and music.  In 1994, KRS-One and Marshall Chess combined both literature and music to inspire urban youth. This combination turned out to be a comic book accompanied by an audio cassette tape both entitled “Break the Chain” under the Marvel Comics imprint. This comic was meant to teach urban youth that they don’t have to be slaves to their past or their conditions, that we must break the chains of ignorance in order to become something positive in this world. With other name drops of comic references I believe that part of KRS-One’s heart still belongs to comics. Either way, without KRS-One hip hop would not be the inspirational movement that is has become today; so how could Hip-Hop be dead if KRS-One is still its savior? To find out more about KRS-One and the Temple of Hip Hop visit his website.

Written by Evan Lowe

Diggin’ Through the Crates: Mos Def and Talib Kweli “Know That”

ALL BLACK EVERYTHING

Artist: Mos Def ft. Talib Kweli

Song: “Know That”

Album: Black on Both Sides (1999)

Lyric: “I Strike the Empire Back/ I Strike the Empire Back/ Fuck the Empire!/ High flying like the Millenium Falcon/ Piloted by Han Solo/ I never roll for dolo, fronting on me’s a no-no”

Character Reference/Meaning:

You know what Mos Def and the Star Wars have in common besides being awesome, ground breaking and revolutionary? One word – Rebels. That’s right, all you nerds out there, if you have been paying attention to Star Wars news as of late you should know about the new animated series entitled, Star Wars Rebels. This animated series is set to drop this year and is to take place between episodes III and IV. Just recently, some of the first footage was released with some new characters fans ought to love; sadly though, Mos Def is not one of them. Especially with great Star Wars related lines such as the chosen lyric of the week, it’s obvious that Mos Def a.k.a Yasiin Bey (he has rebranded himself Yasiin Bey as of late to keep his old record label from making money off the stage name Mos Def) is down for the cause.

Like any good Rebel soldier, Yasiin speaks out against injustice happening in the world and is on a mission to betterment. However, what speaks louder than words? ACTION! Not only has Mos Def spoken out about important tops in his songs such as the right to clean water (“New World Water“), the maltreatment of Katrina victims via the government (“Katrina Klap (Dollar Day)“), Poverty rates among African Americans (“Ni**as In Poorest“), as well as the murder of Trayvon Martin (“Made You Die“), but he has also put his words into action. In 2000 he performed a benefit concert for Mumia Abu-Jamal a death row inmate who is a known member of the Black Panther Party and was convicted of 1st degree murder of a Philadelphia police officer. Popular belief that Abu-Jamal didn’t receive a fair trial, and the court system was unjust to sentence him to the death penalty. He remains in prison today. In 2007 Yasiin appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher where he spoke about racism against African-Americans and the poor response by the American government during Hurricane Katrina, and the Jena Six. A few years later he made a reappearance where he spoke upon the dangers of nuclear weapons and the possible mistranslation of Osama Bin Laden’s terrorist threats.

One of Mos Def’s largest and most “real” actions occurred in 2013 where he sought out to show the world the mistreatment, and violation of human rights people have been portraying on inmates at Guantanamo Bay. He did this by depicting how the prisoners have been forced feed against their will, despite it being an instructional procedure. It has been a point of Yasiin to spread positivity through his music and bring truth and reality to light by his actions. So in this song when he says he strikes back against the empire he is saying that he challenges and battles unjust happenings in this world. Seeing what “empires” have done to cause oppression with imperialism and colonialism it’s no wonder he rebels. Is Mos Def the Han Solo of our day and age, the rebel we need to speak and act out against the empire of today? Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t, but regardless of how you look at it, Mos Def is a social activist for the betterment of civil rights and humans in general. With his ability to spread positivity through his music and social action, I feel the world can be more peaceful, united and just, than it was yesterday.

WARNING: The following video depicts graphic images of force feeding. These images at times can be disturbing and difficult to watch. View discretion advised.

Written by Evan Lowe