11 of The Best Beards in Hip Hop History

Somewhere in the history of rap and hip-hop a best beard competition was born. It is now common practice for hip hop artists to abandon the shaving cream for good, preferring to free-style from behind a full beard much to the delight of aficionados like OptimusBarba.com everywhere. There are some that have dabbled with facial hair over the years, but this list is just for the hard core hip hoppers who have never abandoned their rugged look.

Rick Ross – Rick compensated for his bald head by letting all his hair come out from the chin. From the look of things he’s never taken a Mach 3 to his face, even though he’s often heard screaming Maybach to whoever will listen.

Freeway – Maybe it’s from his multiple stints behind bars that showed Freeway how to grow a beard, because by the looks of things he’s never touched any kind of grooming product before. He should get into it. Here’s some we love to rock.


Jakk Frost – This rap master hails from Philly, where his epic beard is able to keep him from getting frosty on a cold winter night.

Joe Budden – Joe may seem light in comparison to his many bearded hip hop buddies, but that only means that his beard stands out as being one of the best groomed of the bunch.

?uestlove and Black Thought – ?uest has the full look going on, while Black Thought prefers the goatee, but both play the part of “All the best musicians sport the beard, didn’t you know” to a tee.

Stalley – Stalley should release a rap Christmas tribute, as he has the perfect Santa beard going on underneath his signature ball caps.

Raekwon – Ever since he got into the 36 Chambers, Raekwon has been showing his love by keeping a perfectly trimmed beard adorning his chin.

Method Man – Okay, now here’s a hip hop artist who definitely has some method to the beard madness. This guy’s beard shows that he has mastered the art of using a beard trimmer as well as his mic.

Tech N9NE – The emperor beard dates all the way back to ancient Japan, but on Tech it looks fresh and new.

Action Bronson – The only white guy on the list (what’s up with the baby face Eminem?) Action has an epic beard that is almost as shocking as his lyrics.

Suge Knight – Short like his temper and to the point like his raps, Suge sports a beard that makes beard trimmers proud.

The beard has arrived in hip hop, and is not going anywhere fast. Like their gold teeth and chains, artists wear their beards with pride, as a symbol of a music genre that is still working on gaining respect and recognition from the industry as a whole.

A Behind the Scenes Look at the Making of the Infamous “Sauna” Video

Not too long ago, when a hip hop artist made a video you could expect a lot of half naked girls, gold chains and a pimped out car. Well, things haven’t changed all that much, but once in a while we get a special surprise. This was the case with Casey Veggies and his “Sauna” video, directed by Spaghetto.

Before getting into Spaghetto’s take on directing this break out video, it’s important to understand her creative views a little. If we were to plant Andy Warhol in today’s world, and ask him to direct videos, the end result would look a lot like Spaghetto’s. She’s eccentric, in a weird, funky and very good way.

To start off, Spaghetto openly admits to being against the whole gangsta’ in a car type hip hop video. So when she saw the title for the song, and heard the lyrics, she got really excited about bringing the whole project to the inside of a sauna. All she needed was a small group of old men and one beautiful woman to fill it with.

The men were easy to find, and the tats all an accident. Yet somehow it all worked into the video, right down to the fat guy eating popcorn. The blonde girl, Alysha Nett, was an old friend of Spaghetto’s and had a lifestyle that just flowed right into the laid back, blunt smoking chick we see in the video.

The most difficult part of the whole project according to Spaghetto was finding the location to shoot the video in. To use a spa sauna was difficult, as the extreme temperatures would interfere with the cameras. Instead, she got the idea to ask a local sauna dealer to let her use one of their display units. So what we see in the video is a model of a sauna, sitting in the middle of a L.A. showroom.

According to Spaghetto, the dealer was very receptive to the whole project. When asked, he did mention that the appearance of a sauna in a video, movie or TV show did nothing for his sales, but that the hot item at the moment was portable infrared saunas. These are easier to set up in the home, and rely on intense heat from light rather than steam to remove toxins from the body. The portable infrared sauna is a welcome addition to the showroom, as it increases sales by being priced better for the everyday consumer, rather than just for hip hop stars.

This video was a big risk for both the singer and the director, as it showed a completely different side to hip hop music. Yet, instead of being shied away from for its overall “weirdness” the hip hop world embraced the change.

Teeth Grills in the Hip Hop World

When it comes to adding bling to teeth, the sky has always been the limit. This is all part of the game of who can do it bigger and best, just like with the chains, cars and rings. Once they ran out of places to add gold too, well the next step was the teeth.

What are Grills?

Sometimes known as fronts or grillz, grills are nothing more than expensive jewelry for your teeth. Some are temporary that slide into place like a retainer while others are permanent caps. Hip hoppers will have theirs custom made from a precious metal, and some even go so far as to throw diamond studs on the front for effect.

Grills that are permanent are just like regular teeth. You need your trusty electronic tooth brush to clean them, a water flosser to get all that filet mignon out from in between, and a cool minty mouthwash. Just because they are made of metal doesn’t mean you don’t need to keep them clean.

The History of Grills

The grill phenomenon started over 20 years ago with a dentist. New Yorker Eddie Plein ran Eddie’s Gold Teeth when he came up with the idea to add even more color to the already colorful hip hop world. He was the one who got Flava Flav and Big Daddy Kane their first grills before heading south. In Atlanta he met up with the likes of OutKast, Nelly, Goodie Mob, Lil Jon, and Ludacris. Eddie is still in business and charges a cool hundred for every tooth he replaces with gold.

Paul Wall

Hailing from Texas, Paul has one of the most extensive collections of grillz in the biz. Paul also sells custom grills, where a diamond studded one will cost over 30 G’s. The rapper is so happy with the look that he even raps about with Nelly; “ My teeth are mind blowin’ givin everybody chillz, call me George Foreman cuz I’m sellin’ everybody grillz”.


Slick Rick

One of the first to get hooked on gold teeth, Slick Rick is still glamming his mouth 30 years later. His look is in constant change, going from bright gold to diamond encrusted whenever the mood strikes him.

P Diddy

Or whatever he calls himself these days changes his grill as often as he switches his fur coat. He is known for his extravagance in all aspects of his life, including adorning his teeth in diamonds.

The grill trend in hip hop is likely one that will never go away, especially when the big boys are still sporting them decades later. Now we’re not saying you need to drop 30 G’s to get the look, but if you’re going for all out gangsta’ then grills are the way to do it.

Classic Album Review: S.O.N.O.G.R.A.M from One.Be.Lo

The 2005 hip-hop recording S.O.N.O.G.R.A.M fro One.Be.Lo is a musical masterpiece. From the lyrics to the scope of the album you are blown away as the MC from Michigan takes you for a wild ride. This is one of my favorites of all time, and once you hear it you’ll understand why.

One.Be.Lo started out in hip-hop back in the nineties after spending some time in prison. Back then he was known as OneManArmy and had teamed up with his cellmate Senim Silla to form Binary Star. They are responsible for the all rap “Masters of the Universe” LP that was released in 2000 to the delight of hip hop lovers all over the world.

In 2005 OneManArmy was back on his own, and One.Be.Lo when he released S.O.N.O.G.R.A.M – or Sounds of Nahshid Originate Good Rhymes. And yes, from the moment the music starts, the good rhymes begin.

One.Be.Lo is a very smart man, and very frank in his beliefs. Even his album titles speak of an intelligence you don’t typically find in rap. An earlier record was titled F.E.T.U.S. and focused on the beginning of life and making your own destiny. This newer album followed in the same pattern, only going in depth to a person’s soul, the same way a real sonogram machine does. It takes careful thought and smarts above and beyond what you learn in the street to understand the workings of an ultrasound machine and tie it together so seamlessly with an earlier work. I would even venture to say that this shows an intelligence equal to, if not higher, than that ultrasound technician who went to school to learn how the machine works.

The album is rich in social issues, ranging from the feeling of losing a friend to senseless violence to the careless way in which the media portrays the world around us. His lyrics speak of a wisdom well beyond his years, and an education that he was only afforded by growing up in the street.

onebelo kyle johnson

He even addresses his shady past in “The Future” and admits to his shortcomings as a kid disrespecting his mother and society as a whole. It’s not easy for a rapper to take responsibility for his actions, but One.Be.Lo has no qualms about sharing his shortcomings and showing us how to live a more righteous life.

You don’t get much real rap like this anymore. Today we are usually subjected to one of two extremes: watered down and weak to make it playable on the radio, or so shockingly full of hate, venom and swearing that you can’t get to the message. One.Be.Lo and his S.O.N.O.G.R.A.M fit very nicely in the middle, with a thoughtful lyrics and a beat that can’t be beat.

What Makes For a Fantastic Food Rap MC?

Believe it or not, in the hip hop world there is a sub-genre known as food rap. This is not for the guys who mention a shorty eating a curly fry, but for those MC’s who can add a snippet of lyric about food and make a statement about the way society eats. The following is a list of some of the best food rap MC’s in the biz, and a peek at some of the work that has earned them that title.

Notorious B.I.G.

Although we are no longer blessed with his fresh talent, no one who loved him can forget how Biggie could seamlessly go from his poor roots “Born sinner, the opposite of winner-Remember when I used to eat sardines for dinner” to his quick rise to fame, “I can fill you with real millionaire s**t, escargot.”. His food references said a lot about where he had come from and what rapping had allowed him to become.

Young Jeezy

Young Jeezy has this way of making a food metaphor for just about any vice you can imagine. Here he hits on at least three in one quick montage, “Big wheels, big straps –You know I like it super sized – Passengers a redbone, her weave look like some curly fries- Inside fish sticks, outside tartar sauce – pocket full of celery, imagine what she tellin’ me –Blowin’ on asparagus, the realest s**t I ever smoked.” He sounds way too hungry, maybe someone should buy him a deep fryer for his birthday so the man can make some fish sticks of his own.

MF Doom

Mr. Doom strays from the simple curly fry and throws some food references into his music that make you scratch your head and make a reservation. “Oh, shoot the goose, she’s loose – so wild you couldn’t chase it down with straight fruit juice – Frown like the first time you taste couscous- stash the deuce deuce, troops asking truce, truce.” You have to give this guy props for finding a way to throw some couscous out there for the hip-hop world to chew on.

Ghostface Killah

Ghostface doesn’t just rap about seafood, he throws some grouper and halibut into his lyrics to let us know that he knows his fish stuff. Of course, taken out of context “Cancun, catch me in the room, eating grouper” may seem random or “Starks-ologist, fried fish halibut” but it could mean that as we ascertain Jeezy needs a deep fryer, Ghostface needs a fishing pole.

Fat Boys

And then you have the masters of food MC who have no trouble in letting us know how they got their name, “We took the top off and then we stopped- at the pizza shop to get something to eat” and then they “ran back to the shop, busted down the door- and all I saw was pizza galore.”  My personal favorite though is “Give me some chicken, franks, and fries – and if you pass me lettuce I’m a pass it by.” Now that my dear readers is rap keeping it real.

Did You Hear the One About Hip Hop For Dogs?

At first I thought this question was posed to me as a joke, said no, and waited for the punch line. Sadly it was not a joke. What it was was a question about a book. A real published book that had been making the rounds for a few years.

Now being a hip-hop connoisseur, you would think that if there really were Hip Hop for Dogs I would know about it. But thankfully the hip hop Gods above had let me have 5 more years of bliss before letting me know of this awful books existence.

The premise is not how to create hip hop music that a dog will shake his tail to. Nor is it about Snoop and how to be more like him. (Now that would be a book worth buying). What it is is a book that makes a half baked attempt to explain hip hop to dogs. As if they would care.

snoop_dogg-gal-politicalThe real problem here is that the book is outright offensive. It’s offensive to me and to the whole hip hop genre. It’s offensive to people of color. And it’s offensive to dogs. The lady who wrote this trash needs to be put out of her misery, like forever. Just take a look at how she defines the word “sister” in relation to hip hop music:

“Me and my homegirls, we stick together everywhere we go: at the groomer gettin’ our ‘dos, on the street sniffin’ the B-Boys and all over the hood avoidin’ the baby daddies. Some of us are busted, some of us are fly, some got small bootys, some have badonkadonks. But all of us run in the same pack, help each other, and watch out for each other’s pups. I don’t know what I’d do without my SISTAS.”

Pretty bad right? Like it makes me think that she should be fitted with a collar and locked up behind one of those wireless pet containment systems. That is the perfect revenge from the canine world. Better yet, every time she reaches for a pen and paper she gets the zap in the neck. Those pet containment systems don’t really hurt, she’ll just think twice before stepping out of bounds again.

Honestly, I am a bit aggravated even at myself for giving this excuse of a book any publicity. So please, don’t buy it. Do however write nasty letters to the author and let her know that you shouldn’t play with hip hop this way.

Soundtrack Review – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1

The Hunger Games franchise has taken the world by storm and introduced us to a whole new dimension both theatrically and musically. Each new movie has been accompanied by the release of a soundtrack that complements the story. The soundtrack to Mockingjay, Part 1 is no exception, and features one of the biggest names in hip-hop today.

Lorde is responsible once again for curating this mix of music for the third installment of the Hunger Games film series and as always has put together an eclectic mix of artists who are able to dig deep into their dark side to conjure up the feeling of the films.

On this installment, the majority of the music is meant to help fans visualize the movie rather than take them back to it. Of the various singles, only two are actually featured in the film, while the rest are tributes to it. Hip-hop heavyweight Kanye West was asked to participate and makes a stunning contribution to the album.

But before going there, you need to know a bit about the movies. These are dark and a bit twisted end of days themes, which has the remnants of civilization as we know it fighting for their lives. It has become a major part of pop culture and introduced us to a whole new world.

For example, since the release of the original Hunger Games the sport of archery has seen a major surge in popularity thanks to its depiction by the heroine of the movie. And since it is a girl who is taking aim with her recurve bow and arrow, which are reviewed here, it is young girls and women who are getting involved in the sport by the hordes. The sale of recurve bows has gone up dramatically, and special leagues for girls popping up everywhere.

The Album

In addition to her single and Kanye West’s remix on the album, Grace Jones, Simon Le Bon, Diplo, Miguel and Ariana Grande were also asked to contribute. Only 3 singles were used as promotional pieces, allowing for the album to sell on its own merits. It is a dark underscore, right in line with the theme of the movie, sold over 200,000 digital copies in the first week.


The album was received well critically, which focused on the soundtracks ability to echo the movie and the journey of the recurve bow wielding heroine. Lorde’s work on the project was called stellar by Billboard and Spin Magazine compliments her for the perfect balance between the storyline and the songwriting.

Whether you are a fan of the series or not, if you are a fan of Kanye West and Lorde, than this soundtrack should be an important part of your musical collection. Dark and dreary, the music is a perfect interpretation of what life would be like if it imitated art and sent civilization into an abyss.

The 2015 Bonnaroo Music Festival – Are You Ready?

The Bonnaroo Music Festival has become the annual music event to see and be seen at. The first festival was held in 2002, and since then has won accolades and nods from big names in the music industry. Now a permanent fixture in Manchester, Tennessee, 5 live performance tents feature artists from all different genres for 4 days, including hip-hop.

Bonnaroo takes its name from 1974 Dr. John song and simply means to have a really good time. Those who have attended the festival in the past will tell you that this is a very apt name. The four stages have been graced by some of the biggest names in the past, like Jay-Z, Kanye West, the Beastie Boys and James Brown. All genres are represented each year, so don’t be surprised to wake up to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and go to sleep to Elton John.

The 2015 Bonnaroo Music Festival

This year’s festival already has dozens of artists lined up and is planned for June 11th to the 14th. Kendrick Lamar will be just one of the many headlining hip-hop performances alongside SuperJam!, Brandi Carlile and Deadmaus. Tickets have already gone on sale, so you better hurry up and grab yours now.

tentOn Site Accommodations

One of the many aspects that makes Bonnaroo stand tall above other Spring time music festivals is the organized overall experience. The festival owns the land where it is held and has set up a very intricate camp site to accommodate all guests. Access is included in the price of the ticket, but don’t expect a Woodstock type of sleeping arrangements anarchy. Instead, they have quartered off certain areas to meet everyone’s needs.

Camping Options at Bonnaroo

  • Tent-only camping will likely get you the spot closest to the stages. You park in the general camping area, grab your family sized tent and compass to navigate your way through the grounds and walk about 30 minutes to the site. There are absolutely no cars, motorcycles or any other vehicle allowed in this area, but the walk will be well worth it. Pitching your family tent here not only gets your home base closer to the stages, you are also right next to the general store and all of the other festival amenities.
  • The tent only campsite is offered on a first come, first serve basis. If you don’t get there in time to nab a prime campsite no worries, you will be able to roll out your sleeping bag next to where you park your car. It won’t be that much of a big deal to have a short hike from your tent to the stages once the music starts.
  • Family Camping is also available if you want to bring along the kids. There are a ton of things that they can do during the festival that makes this one a family friendly event. A private camping area has been designated for these families in order to give them and the kids a better overall experience.
  • If you are going to the festival with a large group, they have that covered too. Special tickets are sold to groups of 24 or more so that they can be guaranteed the space needed to lay out their family tents into a small city area.

One of the best parts of the festival is the chance to hear emerging hip-hop music. There are 5 stages, and the lesser ones feature up and coming artists through out the day. If you are up and coming, consider signing yourself up and be a part of a truly unique live music experience.


So You Want to Be a Hip Hop Star – Can You Learn to Sing Online?

Everyone has a dream, and all dreams should be nurtured. If yours is becoming the next grammy winning hip hop artist, than by all means go for it. But not all artists are born with a mic in the mouth, and none have gotten where they are today without some type of musical training. If Julliard is not in your immediate future, than at the very least, start learning to sing online.

How to Start Learning How to Sing Online

If you’re serious about online singing classes than you need to have the right set up. Invest in a high quality mic for your computer, as well as a set of headphones. Find a spot in your home where you can get full privacy and make this your personal training studio. You don’t want the whole family watching over your shoulder as you are trying to learn to sing online.

Next you need to find the best online singing program by checking out reviews. Check reviews and see what other aspiring stars have to say. Look for a program that specializes in hip hop so that you will learn the special techniques that come with hip hop music.

What Will You Learn With Online Singing Classes?

There is a lot more to singing then what you are doing in the shower. Your first few lessons are likely to be more technical than clinical as you just learn the lingo. You will need to understand concepts like pitch and tone before you can even begin to take on hip hop music.

Your range will be explored, and perfected on during your classes. This is the notes that your own voice is able to produce. Not everyone has the same range, and some artists have higher ones than others. Take an artist like the late Whitney Houston. She was an incredible singer and known for being able to carry the highest of notes for long periods. This is not a skill that many musicians have and during your classes you will learn what your range is and how to stay within it.


What Type of Music Should You Sing Online?

Since your goal is hip hop, you are of course going to want to focus your attention there, but do branch out and practice in other genres as well. Try a bit of rock and roll, or even some jazz just to get a feel of the difference in singing styles. And if you do land a record deal, that extra studying will make you more versatile as an artist.

Take the plunge into online singing lessons if you have a true drive to be the next best thing in the hip hop world. If you have what  it takes, you just may be accepting that grammy in a few years.

Different Hip Hop Genres

When it comes to Hip Hop, there is no one specific style. Inside of Hip Hop there are many different styles, each one of them unique. As Hip Hop has grown throughout the years, the number of styles within it has also grown. Now there are a ton of different styles, each one with their own famous artists and unique details. To help you understand the different Hip Hop styles, we have compiled a short list and a description of each.

  • Alternative Hip Hop – Rappers inside this genre typically stray outside the lines, and push the envelope in terms of music style and lyrics. They are less concerned with songs that sound catchy, but rather focus on exploring new concepts. Example: The Roots.
  • Battle Rap – This style of hip hop focuses on having superior lyrics, and braggadocio. Any veteran battle rapper will focus on boasting and insulting their opponent. Example: Kool Moe Dee
  • Conscious Rap – Conscious Rap is founded in the idea that social change can come through a mixture of personal discovery and social awareness. Rappers inside this section focus on raising awareness towards societal problems and promoting positive ideas. Example: Common.

    "Lil Jon at 2005 AEE Awards" by Luke Ford - http://www.lukeisback.com/images/photos/050109.htm. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.
    Lil Jon at 2005 AEE Awards” by Luke Ford – http://www.lukeisback.com/images/photos/050109.htm. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.
  • Crunk – Starting in the 1990s, this sub-set came from souther hip hop. It focuses on chaotic club beats and high energy chants. Example: Lil Jon.
  • East Coast Hip Hop – Originating in the streets of New York, this is more of an umbrella style that covers a range of other styles, from street hop to conscious rap. Example: Nas.
  • Gangsta Rap – This style focuses on aggressive lyrics and trunk heavy beats. While it was very popular in the early 90s, it has now come under heavy criticism for its themes of violence and negative views on women. Example: Ice Cube
  • Hyphy – This is a relatively new style emerging from West Coast rap. It is uptempo, and high energy, while featuring lyrics that are witty. Many consider it similar to Crunk, but it has maintained some success over the past few years. Example: Keak da Sneak.
  • Snap – The Snap genre features smooth polyrhythms, while being joined by snapping (where it gets its name) and some whistling. The combination creates a unique melody that isn’t heard in other genres of hip hop. It remained popular for a time, but has since fizzled out. Example: Yin Yang Twins
  • Southern Rap – Southern Rap focuses on direct lyrics (usually about living in the South) along with a unique sound. Southern Rap is mainly focuses on Southern culture, and often describes things like fashion trends and nightlife, among other things. Example: Lil Wayne.
  • West Coast Hip Hop – Lastly, we have West Coast. This is another over-arching genre that contains smaller genres. Inside West Coast Hip Hop are G-funk, Lowrider, Freestyles and Gangsta Rap. Example: N.W.A.

Hopefully this article was able to help you understand the basics of the different hip hop genres. There are more sprouting up each time, and it can be hard to keep them straight. Keep in mind that some sounds can fit into several different genres, as artists are always look to try something new and incorporate different styles.