Escopaul’s favorite Hip-Hop albums of 2015

1. Kendrick Lamar | To Pimp a Butterfly

Kendrick’s second album came out back in March and I’m still trying to understand it, still trying to take in its vastness.  At first ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ was a bit of a letdown for me.  I wanted all the bangers and Compton lore of  ’good kid, m.A.A.d city’  this wasn’t that at all.  This was something different that demanded time but that time allowed me to see Lamar is on a path for ‘Best MC’s of All Time’ lists and committed to the dying art that is the concept album.

2. Vince Staples | Summertime ’06

Last year at just 21 with his EP ‘Hell Can Wait’ Vince Staples arrived skilled and formed as a potent MC.  His first LP ‘Summertime ’06′ is a double album with 20 tracks, however it all clocks in a (relatively) lean 60 minutes.   Staples is a special rapper with a memorable album debut here but cutting it down to 12-15 tracks might’ve registered ‘Summertime ’06′ as an all time classic.

3. Freddie Gibbs | Shadow of a Doubt

Nobody comes across as a more real gangster rapper than Freddie Gibbs.  Gangster rap like many artistic expressions, is a performance.  Gibbs tells stories with an honesty that is refreshing in the genre.  Shadow of a Doubt isn’t quite on level as last years ‘Piñata’ but Gibbs personal style and flow is all over this record.


4. Rj & Choice | Rich off Makin

With the West Coast back in the mainstream conscious, its artists are getting much deserved exposure.  I first heard of Rj & Choice a couple weeks ago and its a true album in the sense that it needs to enjoyed in whole, ideally while cruising around town.  The constant nod to golden era West Coast hip-hop works for me.

5. Drake | If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late

Drake has become such a massive pop star that many “true” hip-hop heads forget how skilled an MC he is.  Meek Mill’s ill chosen beef with him pointed this out with epic clarity.  Many of Drake’s RnB leaning tracks aren’t for me but his humor, skills and beat selection make for great hip-hop.

6. Rae Sremmurd | SremmLife

Brothers Khalif “Swae Lee” Brown and Aaquil “Slim Jimmy” have brought back an increasingly rare act in hip-hop, the rap duo.  They’ve also made the most fun and irreverent rap album of 2015.

7. Le$ | Steak & Shrimp 2

Spending evenings downloading and listening to free mixtapes off datpiff and other sites can be a frustrating but it pays off when you find a dope track or more rarely a quality album.  Le$ adds to Houston’s hip-hop culture while showing reverence for those who came up before him.  Pimp C and DJ Screw would be proud.

8. Action Bronson | Mr. Wonderful

Often the case with rappers who have built up a following with several quality mixtape releases, their first studio LP doesn’t quite deliver on expectations.  As a big fan of Action’s mixtapes that is somewhat the case here but its still a record full of ambition and Bronson’s unique personality that makes him so likable.

9. Young Fathers | White Men are Black Too

I don’t know too much about these guys yet except that they are Scottish and make beautiful music.  The influences here look more to European indie and electronic genres than American hip-hop.

10. Young Thug | Slime Season 2

There are many rappers today with a style similar to Young Thug.  Employing a wildly ranging voice, oddly pitched vocals, mixing singing and rapping together but its Young Thug’s depth of lyrics and a weirdness that evokes Lil Wayne’s glory years that separates him from contemporaries.  This year Young Thug also released ‘Barter 6′ and it’s a great listen but for me his most recent mixtape (Slime Season 2) edges it out.

11. JME | Integrity>

A lot of great U.K. Grime tracks came out this year with new and established artists dropping fire.   It would be easier to make a list of killer Grime cuts from 2015 but having to pick one album it has to be ‘Integrity>’ by JME.


12. T.Y. | Son Of A Gangsta Vol. 2

I can’t find much anything on T.Y. except that he is the son of Cash Money Records artist B.G.  For fans of late 90′s Cash Money Records the album cover and beats will have you feeling this hard.

13. Lil Dicky | Professional Rapper

Follow these rhymes on rap genius while listening to realize the lyrical skill employed.

Controversies aside, Lil Dicky can spit rhymes at a level that deserves a listen.  Professional Rapper sometimes falls into a poor pastiche of the genre but the talent is there.

Below is my most recent dj mix.  This mixes house music, trap, hip-hop, bassline and other sub-genres in a unique way.  Enjoy. 


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REI closing on Black Friday for 1st time in push to #OptOutside…..

Outdoor gear and sporting goods retailer REI is canceling Black Friday this year. No promotions, no hourly sales, no doorbusters, no waiting in line.

In an unprecedented move for the modern-day holiday shopping season, REI’s 143 stores will be closed the day after Thanksgiving. The co-op business plans to launch a campaign Tuesday encouraging people to forgo shopping to spend time outside instead. With the hashtag #OptOutside, REI will ask people to share what they’re doing on Black Friday on social media.

REI is taking direct aim at the frenzied consumerism that dominates the holidays with a message to do the exact opposite of what Black Friday demands.

“Any retailer that hears this will be startled by the idea,” says REI President and CEO Jerry Stritzke, who admits he was apprehensive about closing at first. “As a co-op … we define success a little differently. It’s much broader than just money. How effectively do we get people outside?”

REI is hoping to convince consumers to start a new Black Friday tradition, one that doesn’t involve buying anything. It has built a dedicated #OptOutside website with resources on local hiking trails. REI’s campaign was built with its employees and customers in mind — the company operates as a co-op, with roughly 5.5 million members who pay a one-time fee for a share of the business. Members contribute to at least 80% of REI’s sales.

REI will have no Black Friday promotions and won’t process any online orders until Saturday. Just a small handful of its approximately 12,000 employees will be on call, while the rest get a paid day off.

The decision to close on Black Friday is bold in an industry that has practically made the day a mandatory part of business, not only because customers demand it, but because the bottom line often does, too. The holiday shopping season is the biggest, and most competitive, time of year for retailers, with Black Friday at the center of the hoopla.

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Escopaul’s favorite albums of 2014

The once mighty Swasted is not what it once was but the servers are still on and albums are (for now) still a thing.  I hope our readers find some quality tunes from this list.  2014 was not a strong year for albums compared to the last few but there was still much to enjoy.  When making this list the factor I weighed most is how much I listened to an album, the more spins the better. If your fav isn’t here maybe I missed it, maybe I forgot it, maybe it sucked. Find your nearest Tower Records, Zune player or concert venue and enjoy these artists.

 1. Jungle ‘Jungle’

My favorite album of the year, especially so by when considering how many hours I spent listening.  Jungle has risen to prominence quickly and have an easy funk style that comes across as an effortless jam band groove.  Apparently their live shows are really what is separating this band as special.

2. Run The Jewels ‘Run the Jewels 2′

Most of the internets have enjoyed Run the Jewels 2 more than their first album.  I love this but the first still edges it out for me, however this is the best hip-hop album of the year by a wide margin. In an era where rap duo’s and groups (a posse, label mates and crews aren’t the same) are a rare thing making Run the Jewels are all the more special.  Oh and dem beats doe…

3. Sturgill Simpson ‘Metamodern Sounds in Country Music’

Like most popular popular forms of music country gets flooded with mass appeal crap with “Bro-Country” the current trend of trash but many artists like Simpson continue to produce great work within the genre. If Cash, Haggard, Jennings, Jones and Nelson are names that evoke profound music memories cop this.

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Video: Fake Chef Pranks Local News Morning Shows

Sure we’re a little late in asking but…how were your holidays? Judging from the video below, Nick Prueher had a busy holiday season. He spent some of his time posing as a fake chef and appearing on local news morning shows throughout the Midwest. He posed as a fictional chef who was promoting a cookbook of what to do with your leftover food over the holidays. He basically throws a bunch a shit into a blender and makes the poor unsuspecting anchors sample his concoctions. My favorite part is when he’s explaining his unorthodox style he asks, “Are you familiar with GG Allin?”

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Escopaul’s favorite albums of 2013

These are my favorite albums of 2013.  Not necessarily a “best of” list but records I played over and over.  If your fav isn’t here maybe I missed it, maybe I forgot it, maybe it sucks. Find your nearest Sam Goody or bittorrent client and support these artists!

1. Arctic Monkeys


What a resurgence from this band.  The video below isn’t a track from their album but a live video from Austin City Limits.  It starts with Alex Turner playing a riff on a twelve  string, nuff said.

2. Killer P & EL-P

Run the Jewels

Killer Mike’s ability to drop a verse laced with knowledge is known as is El-P’s production prowess but teamed together a new project was realized.  I look forward to more music from ‘Run the Jewels’.’

Below is from a previous Killer Mike album and one of my favorite music videos.  Straight knowledge on Reagan being a crap president.  Share this work of art with your Tea Party friends.

3. Laura Marling

Once I was an Eagle

This is Laura Marling’s 3rd studio album which she wrote when only 23 years old.  Her songwriting and guitar prowess at such a young age is a rare feat.  Led Zep III open tuning vibes abound.

So good, it requires further viewing.

4. Vampire Weekend

Modern Vampires of the City

Three albums in with each one being wholly formed.  All shine separately and together as distinct cannon of work.

5.  Disclosure


Two young brothers dropping BEATS! UK Massive!

Remix!!! From TEED, producer of 2012′s best album.

6. Deafheaven


I have nothing against Metal but not at all up on the scene either.  Im still on TurboNegro (not even metal but if you’ve seen them live you know) and Mastodon.  This album is metal but so much more.  Listening to this takes effort and consideration but what was better in 2013?

7. Danny brown


Miley Cyrus stealing his tongue waggling move is not okay.  Rep real hip-hop!

If thats too intense, this is an easier way to get with Danny Brown

If you slept on his last LP…

8. Lorde

Pure Herione

Yeah I imagine it got hammered on the death throes of FM radio (podcasts changed my life) and the singles pounded in TJ MAXXes across the land but except for a song or two the entire album is quality.  Can’t hate on our Lorde.

9. Iamsu!

Kilt II

Got the Bay on LOCK! Part of the West Coast resurgence, CALI rep dat game!

Another cut from the album.

10.  Holy Ghost!


You like make party? You like Disco?

11. Haim

Days are Gone

I’d watch a supergroup cartoon about these girls with Fleetwood Mac playing good Hobbit wizards or Snarfs from Thundercats.

12. Valerie June

Pushin’ Against a Stone

Dan Auerbach on production and oh that voice!!!!


The Bones of What You Believe

The guy in this video dances funny.

Obligatory Whitney Houston REMIX!

14. The Knife

Shaking the Habitual

Make it through this vid. It’s long and people pee publicly.  This album like Deafheaven’s is compelling and I took it in but doesn’t fit my guidelines as a something I listened to over and over.  Still so good needed to be included.

15. Caitlin rose

The Stand-In

There are other country albums (2 to 4ish) that I enjoyed this year but I kept coming back to this one.

16. Pusha T

My Name is My Name

Trill is back with real street stories.  Reference classic Clipse albums like ‘Hell Hath No Fury’ if you need to catch up on a hop-hop legend.

If the inclusion of Chris Brown on last song offended you, here is another track with Kendrick Lamar.

Rounding out the Top 20:

17. Young Galaxy


18. Action Bronson

Blue Chips 2

19. Empire of the Sun

Ice on the Dune

20. Arcade Fire


My favorite music vid of 2013





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Video: and Entertainment Tonight Unite For the Worst Song Ever

I’m hoping this is a joke and of Black Eyed Peas wasn’t actually paid to come up with this theme song for Entertainment Tonight but I’d rather listen to Rebecca Black’s “Friday” everyday, all day. I know I shouldn’t expect anything listenable from anything that’s related to the Black Eyed Peas but this is horrific. I’m not even going to categorize this as music.

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Video: Norm MacDonald Hosting the ESPYs

The best thing to happen to ESPN’s horribly boring annual ESPY Awards show was back in 1998 when they let Norm MacDonald host and he promptly tore the year’s sports stars new a-holes. I saw Jon Hamm was hosting this year and I love Jon Hamm in Mad Men, he was serviceable in The Town, and he’s a great guest on Comedy Bang Bang but I can’t imagine ESPN would let him get away with anything like this. Anyway, here’s video of his opening monologue, and San Diego fans note the classic shot of Ryan Leaf in the crowd at 7:55…or don’t, fuck that guy.


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Video: Bear Safety, Know What To Do

I saw a bear once when I was camping. It was way across a valley and barely recognizable but it still spooked me. Next time though, I’ll be prepared.

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NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden…

“A ‘whistleblower’ is person who reveals wrongdoing, corruption, illegal activity.


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Swasted Cinema: The Sequel

So, to quote everyone’s favorite band, “Its been a while.”  I promise that I’ve gone to the movies (tons) over the last two years since I shared thoughts on Midnight in Paris and X-Men:First Class.  I have even written some about them in fragmented drafts that lurk just under the WordPress admin surface of this very website.  There are actually a couple of gems in there that I should polish off for you, Dear Reader, but first lets get back on track with a discussion of something opening this week…

Star Trek Into Darkness

Fan or not of the nearly 50 year old series, I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t thoroughly enjoy this installment in the adventures of Kirk and crew which follows up the brilliant 2009 reboot of the series.  Like that film, this one is accommodating to newcomers and seasoned Trekkies alike.  The characters are essentially reintroduced and relationships between them reenforced,  particularly that between the brash Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and his more logical First Officer Spock (Zachary Quinto).  As expected of a sequel in this genre, the stakes have been upped significantly from the first film, in this case by bringing the threat facing Starfleet right to their doorstep early on in the form of an act of domestic terrorism on Earth by a rogue Starfleet officer played with calculated brilliance by Benedict Cumberbatch of the BBC’s Sherlock fame.

Now, I’ve had something to say for some time about the increasing depiction of homeland terrorism in television and film.  From last year’s Avengers movie which destroyed Manhattan in what has become a matter of course for summer movie-goers, to this year’s 3rd Iron Man film which probably wished it had time for a re-edit to lessen the similarities in its suicide bombing scenes to the still fresh wounds of the Boston Marathon events, I’m getting a bit weary of it.  While this sort of shit does go on all over the world on a near daily basis, there is a reason that we are not subject to it here.  That is the work of the everyday superheros who populate our military, intelligence, and local law enforcement agencies.  For one reason or another though American cinema-goers seem fascinated by these scenes of domestic destruction.  In 3D.  With popcorn.  And in many cases without a single thought to the fact that this is a reality being faced concurrently in other parts of the world.  I’d like to think that filmmakers aren’t simply preying on our fears, but instead contributing somehow to the national and global dialogue. Star Trek, in fact, does right in its closing dedication to post-9/11 veterans. But I digress.

It’s hard to discuss the remainder of the film without spoilers, other than to say that concerns I had going in based on the seemingly space-free, land-locked trailer footage proved unfounded as there is in fact plenty of star trekking to be had after the first 3rd of the movie appropriately propels the viewer towards it.  There is a good reason that those trailers leave a lot to be answered, as this film continues to play in the alternative-reality sandbox that the timeline splitting events of 2009′s entry provided, allowing for these characters to experience events that devoted Trekkies may be quite familiar with, but in new ways.  While it is still very much a story about the dynamic and evolving relationship between Kirk and Spock, the villainous turn by Cumberbatch is so nuanced and motivated that you almost root for him at times, hoping he survives the finale so as to be featured in future sequels.  The film has a nice undercurrent about the dangers of fighting such incredible evil and the potential to sacrifice ones own good in doing so.  In the end, however, it is clear that as we continue boldly going where no one (not just man anymore!) has gone before, our aspiration will be to do so with our best foot forward.

Solid 4.5 of 5 on the Swasted Scale.

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