In Part 1, I talked about an experiment that I used on my latest job search. I used three MCs to help me mentally prepare for the interviews I went on and monitored how I felt going into and out of each one to see measure the effect that music had on how the interviews went. Here are the three MCs that I used and how each of them helped me on my interviews. 

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AuthorBrian Gillard

Last year I was DEEP in the midst of a job search. Most of us have been there at one time or another. You know, hitting up your network and asking if they know of any open positions that you would actually like or at the very least, for something that you’ve done in the past that doesn’t bore you to tears and you can pay those bills with. Sending resumes on Indeed that you’ll never hear or think about again. Getting calls from recruiters and headhunters for jobs that you’re extremely either over or under-qualified for.

While you’re pounding the cyber-pavement and networking mixers, you start to get “chose” or deemed worthy enough to discuss why you’re right for a particular position. First up is the phone interview/screening. Provided that you’re not like me and aren't so weirded out by the fact that you’re answering questions without seeing facial expressions or body language that you don’t completely blow it, you then snag a face-to-face. This is where the first of maybe 3 or 4 visits to the company begins. Taking that mugshot pic down at reception/security. Putting a visitor’s sticker with said mugshot on your pressed suit and then watching as it moves to different locations on your left chest over the next couple of hours. The anxiety of meeting new people and having them quiz you on parts of your past you barely remember. . Good times!

This particular search was a little different for me though. While I still had pics snapped of me by tiny security cameras and tried looking busy in the waiting rooms while waiting to meet interviewers, I decided to fully embrace and have fun with the process by treating it like a little experiment. Nah, I wasn’t secretly seeing how uncomfortable I could make my interviewers by giving some off-the-wall answers to their questions to treat them like they were kids doing puzzles in a room with an invisible two-way mirror. I was carefully monitoring my own psyche before, during, and after these meetings by playing with a variable.

The variable that I decided to start playing around was music. I wanted to see how much it affected my mood and how relaxed it made me through a stressful situation. I paid close attention to the music that I listened to while I threw on my killer black interview/get money suits, the beats I banged on the train on my way to the interview and what I put on after the interviews were done. Could music help? If it could, what should I listen to?

I figured that since I was going to have to use the gift of gab to best market myself to get a job, why not turn to some true spittas and let their clever wordplay and linguistic gymnastics inspire me.What I found was kind of mind-blowing. Not only was I more relaxed than usual at the interview, but my answers were more precise and seemed more eloquent and thought out. After awhile, I even developed a go-to list of MCs that I brought out for the major meet-and-greets.

My starting lineup consisted of three MCs. Two newer greats--Kendrick Lamar and Action Bronson--and a legend that’s been in the game for a quarter of a century--Posdunos of De La Soul. Whether they’re older or newer isn’t  the point. What matters is that their songs are lyrically dense. What I mean is, the amount of double-entendres, metaphors, similes, SAT words, stories, obscure pop culture references, and introspective thoughts that these brothers throw out is disgustingly high. They are lyrical beasts whose monstrosity seemed to rub off on me and make me like an interviewing Incredible Hulk.

**Check back next week as I break down how these three helped my interview style**

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AuthorBrian Gillard

Love can be either soft or hard. Happy or sad. Romantic or rough. Rose petals or handcuffs. So goes DJ Just Dizle's Hip-Hop Love Mixtape. Dizle does an amazing job exploring all of the sides of "this thing called love" during this 3 hour (Yes, I said 3 hours!) mix. Maybe it's because he's French and is geographically predisposed to the whole language of love thing. Nevertheless, it's a perfect love mix for the hip-hop listener.

When I first saw the playlist, I knew that I had to play it immediately because it starts and ends with my favorite all-time MC, Rakim. The last song, "Mahogany," is a perfect display of what makes Rakim, “The R.” Using his always smooth and effortless flow, he tells a story about meeting a woman named--you guessed it--Mahogany, at one of his shows and how they soon after "finessed" each other and fell in love. The imagery he uses on this track along with that flow always reminds me of why, in my opinion, no other MC has been able to top him yet. It also reminds me of why this song is one of my Top 3 Hip-Hop Love songs of All-Time (Yeah, I have lists like that).

The mix mostly has joints about love for women in the traditional, "boy meets girl and boy gets sprung on girl" sense. But besides those, it also has the brilliant classic track “I Used to Love H.E.R.” by Common, that uses love for a woman as a euphemism for loving hip hop itself.

a joint that expresses love for hip-hop under the guise as love for a woman (the brilliant classic "I Used to Love H.E.R." by Common); and one that explicitly states that it's "not a love ballad" but then goes into how Black women should be loved by both Black men and themselves (the Poor Righteous Teachers' "Shakiyla"). This song as well as "Black Woman" by the Jungle Brothers (which is not in this mix), are classic odes to my sistahs and expresses how this Black man feels about all of you. Now for all of the ladies that aren't into hip-hop, that last sentence should make you at the very least want to give the mix a quick little listen.

Even though this mixtape does clock in at 3 hours, it really feels like it only lasts one because the tracks that Dizle selects are classics and most of them flow right into the next with ease. I can almost guarantee that you'll let out at least one, "Ohhhhh!!" because a joint that you used to love and haven't heard in a minute will come on, transport you back to the year it came out, and spark some memories. So put it on whether you're in the car during that summer road trip, relaxing at a cookout, or just reclining on the couch, because isn't love good anytime or anywhere?

Fave Joints: "Mahogany";  "I Used to Love H.E.R."; "Gangsta B*tch" by Apache (because sometimes with love—if it ain't rough, it ain't right), "Bonita Applebum" by Tribe Called Quest (Tribe –‘nuff said).

Regrets: Me and My B*tch” (the live version that's on here is cool, but the album version is one of my favorite Biggie songs), “Love” by Tribe Called Quest and "You Got Me" by the Roots aren't on there. I'm being really nitpicky here though.

The "Stone Cold" Lovin' Joints: I appreciated that he put some Wu-Tang love joints on here. They're the experts in giving you that romantic in a "let me holla at you on the block or on the train" type of song. Wouldn't be hip-hop without THAT.

Best "Wow He Went There?!” Joints: The sleepers. "The Light" by Pharaoh (always liked this better than the one with the same name that Common did), "Won't Do" (my favorite J-Dilla beat and an INCREDIBLY slept-on record). 

 Check out the mix below!

 H/T to Okayplayer.com


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AuthorBrian Gillard

A few weeks ago, while doing my daily Okayplayer.com check-in, I stumbled onto a great mix by DJ Rahdu courtesy of another great website BamaLoveSoul.com. The mix is in honor of (don’t worry, he’s still with us!!!) a true MC that most of y’all may know—and if you don’t, you need to!

The stream is an homage to Phonté Coleman better known as Phonté or Phontigallo or just Té. He was one-third of the group Little Brother whose sound was influenced by the Native Tongues (the early 1990s hip-hop collective that consisted of groups like A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, and others) and he’s currently one-half of the soul duo, Foreign Exchange.

When I first heard this cat he was in Little Brother. I swore he was from the Bronx even though he and the other members were reppin’ Raleigh-Durham, NC because he didn’t have a southern accent and his flow and rhyme style was reminiscent of a NYC MC. Even though I may have been in denial about where he was from, one thing that I couldn’t deny was his talent. Bruh could SPIT! Not only that, he could sing too!

What I like about Phonté so much is his honesty. He’s the thinking and feeling man’s MC that puts his heart and emotions on wax whether he’s rhyming or crooning. More often than not, he “positions” himself as a work in progress—a regular Joe who’s just trying to navigate through life the best he can. He just happens to do it with killer metaphors, great punchlines, double-entendres, and introspective lyrics that make you think, laugh, and learn. Fellas, I think there’s a good chance there’s at least one topic, situation, or feeling that Té talks about that will make you say, “Yup!” Ladies, if you want to understand and relate to us a little better—how we feel about things like commitment, fidelity, conceiving and raising kids, responsibility, spirituality, and love—you need to start listening to this mix, pronto!

A good example of what you’ll get from this mix—and a lot of his work in general—is the Drake song “Good Thoughts”. Over a smooth Anita Baker “Sweet Love” sample, he and Drake trade verses on how each of them are misunderstood and misconstrued because “you don’t know ‘em, like you think you know ‘em.” Not only does he help make a Drake song actually sound good, Phonté kills the song with a verse that I really connect with because it sounds like he’s kind of describing me. College-educated, articulate, or in other words, a brother that defies what a lot of people’s definition of a Black man is. A “freak of nature.” Check out these lyrics:

 First name Phonte, I'd be pleased to date ya
College educated, got degrees in papers
But I'm from the South where if you ain't snapping
Or rapping bout trapping you’s a freak of nature
Such an anomaly, speak so well
And talk so collegy, such an astonishing
Contrast to all the bullshit you've been following
On behalf of them, I offer my apologies
Maybe with me you'll unlearn
Putting all ni**as in a box of concerns
Me, cause I ain't dumb, shit I'm well reared/red like sunburn
And after me you'll never leave no stone unturned, uh, c'mon

Because this mix is the best of Phonté’s guest verses, he plays second-fiddle to artists that I love like Median, Jazzy Jeff, and Royce Da 5’9”, and a few artists that I’ve been hearing about and been meaning to check out like Zo! and Eric Roberson. The songs with the latter two were so good that I’m itching to check out more of their stuff. It also has joints that I haven’t heard in awhile like the Anthony David “4Ever More” (which is a great wedding song by the way), and The Roots’ ‘The Day.”

So if you if you want to “smooth it out” for a little over an hour while doing cleaning the house or chillin’ on the couch, or want to find out why Phontigallo thought that English was better than Physics in high school, click Play below. To get the track list to figure out “what heat is what,” open the mix on the Soundcloud website and click on the Info button.

Favorite Track That I’ve Heard Before: “The Day” with The Roots. Phonté and Black Thought spit some real grown man rap on this one.

Favorite Track That I Haven’t Heard Before: “Special” with Median and Yahzarah. Getting deep over a buttery-smooth beat.

Surprisingly Hot Track: “Good Thoughts” with Drake. See my thoughts above. Only wish this mix included Elzhi’s verse because he’s niiicceee!

Best Cover Song: Black Cow with Zo! and Sy Smith. Covers “Black Cow” by Steely Dan, which I always liked. Té and Sy Smith sound great together over Zo!’s version of the rock classic. 

What do y'all think? Take a listen to the mix below, and throw some comments up!

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AuthorBrian Gillard
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