Indie Rapper 13’s Self-Titled Debut Shows He’s As Good As Any Mainstream Rapper

Courtesy:  Goomba Music

Courtesy: Goomba Music

The self-titled debut from Puerto Rican born rapper William Morgan (A.K.A. 13) is the album that fellow rapper Eminem’s fans have wanted ever since the release of his 2004 album, Encore.  The follow-ups in Relapse and Recovery haven’t been met with quite the vigor from fans as his earlier works.  Enter 13, with his brand new self-titled release.  The eleven-song album from the once homeless military veteran is easily compared to music from the likes of Eminem.    If audiences were to hear this record without knowing it was the New York native, they would believe that it was in fact Eminem.  13’s self-titled debut sounds just like Eminem’s music both stylistically and lyrically.  Even 13 himself sounds quite like Mr. Mathers in terms of his voice and rhyming style.  The similarities between the two are inescapable, right from the moment that the album opens. 

The album’s opener, ‘Hi/Hello’ is quite the first introduction of 13 to his audiences.  And it is crafted much as Eminem has done on past records.  Until the moment that he introduces himself officially, letting people know who he is, audiences are led to believe that they are listening to Eminem.  It is said though, that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  Eminem would in fact be flattered by the fact that this artist sounds so much like him all the way around.  Thirteen doesn’t let up once throughout the course of the album’s eleven songs.  From one song to the next, each one is hard-hitting in its own way.  One of the hardest hitting of the album’s tracks is the song, ‘Houston We Have a Problem.”  Richy Nix guests on the track.  The song opens with the ominous strains of a piano.  The piano part stays on as 13 raps about his tough upbringing and of his adult life.  The picture he paints is one of a man that has so much turmoil in his life going all the way back to his childhood growing up around drugs and babies born to moms on drugs.  It’s a tough picture to see.  But it is definitely impactful in hearing this.

Just as powerful as ‘Houston We Have a Problem (ft. Richy Nix)’ is the album’s midway point, ‘Alter Ego.’  He writes about finding God despite everything that he has been through in life, and how he wishes he had that American dream of having a child and a wife.  He writes, “Hey what up/My life was never easy/Raised up in the ghetto/You would never wanna be me/I’m a product of an adult something crazy/See me rise up to the top/Then I promise/Best believe me/something I never know/Is why society is so cold….I had to slowly realize/That my pain is why I rise/Once I reach up to the top/Then I push the pain aside/What a life, what a life/Oh man, what a life/All I really want/A couple kids and a wife/That’s alright/It’s a battle/It’s a fight/Imma fight with all my might…forever hold on tight.”  As ominous as the song sounds, musically, it’s really quite the uplifting and inspiring piece that many people will understand and appreciate in their own way.  And it’s just one more part of what makes this album one that any hardcore rap fan will appreciate in whole.

Audiences will appreciate 13’s songs both for their music and for their hard-hitting lyrics.  There is not one bad song throughout the course of the album.  The music isn’t all that audiences will appreciate from this record.  The album’s production values are what make the music sound so good.  The mix of the piano parts, the occasional guitars and the beats is a very good touch.  No one part overpowers the other at any point throughout the album.  The same can be said of the vocals.  They are just as well balanced with the album’s other elements.  They all work together to make this an album that any purist rap fan will enjoy.  It serves to prove that just as with the world of rock music, indie rappers can be just as good as the big names.  13’s new self-titled debut is available now.  It can be downloaded via iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/thirteen/id667109934.  And fans can keep up with the latest from 13 online at http://www.facebook.com/13isgodsend and http://newyork13.com

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IBF Title Fight Headlines March 1st Edition of ESPN’s FNF

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

This Friday night’s edition of ESPN’s Friday Night Fights has a big as its main feature.  Friday’s main event features a title fight between Featherweight titlist Billy “The Kid” Dib (35 – 1, 1 NC, 21 KOs) and undefeated challenger Evgeny “The Mexican Russian” Gradovich (15 – 0, 8 KOs) in a 12-round bout.  Dib is named by The Ring magazine as its number 4 Featherweight and by ESPN.com as its number 8 Featherweight).  The match will be broadcast live from the MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, CT.  It will be broadcast live at 9pm EST on ESPN 2 HD and online via WatchESPN.com.  Audiences with tablets and smart phones can watch it on their mobile devices with the WatchESPN app.  Spanish speaking fans can also watch the fight on ESPN Deportes+.  ESPN Deportes+ is the new digital extension of ESPN Deportes.  It will air tape delayed on ESPN Deportes Saturday morning at 3am EST. 

Friday’s fight is co-promoted by DiBella Entertainment and SMS Promotions, which are owned by multiplatinum recording artist and entrepreneur 50 Cent.  50 will be in studio at ESPN’s headquarters today for an ESPN “Car Wash” to discuss tomorrow night’s main event on ESPN TV and radio shows.  He will also perform one of his songs tomorrow night at the Foxwoods before the main event and will serve as “sparring partner” to ESPN Friday Night Fights co-host Teddy Atlas for Friday’s edition of Fight Plan.

Dib comes into tomorrow night’s fight fresh off of a 10-round unanimous decision in a non-title fight against Juan Rodriguez.  That match was preceded by a successful title defense against Eduardo Escobedo.  Dib’s win over Escobedo—a sixth round TKO–was his second successful title defense.  When asked about the upcoming match, Dib was upbeat.  “I am really excited to be headlining against the “Mexican Russian,” he said.  “It’s going to be an all-out punch up.  The fans can definitely expect to see a great fight on March 1st.”

Gradovich, a Russian native, also comes into tomorrow night’s fight fresh off the heels of his own decisive victory.  He defeated William Villanueva with a TKO in the seventh round of the pair’s fight.  Gradovich is trained by 2012 Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) “Trainer of the Year” Robert Garcia.  When asked about Friday’s fight, Gradovich sounded especially focused.  “Becoming a world champion has been a life-long dream of mine, and on March 1st, I will finally have that chance,” he said.  “This is going to be a very special night for me, as not only am I fighting for my first world title, but the entire country will have the opportunity to watch it.  I am already in great shape and I am going to show the world what I am capable of come March 1st.”

All eyes will be on the matchup between these two athletes Friday night.  Before the bout though, audiences will be treated to a fight between Junior Middleweight titlist Willie “The Great” Nelson (19 – 1 – 1, 11KOs) and former Junior Middleweight titlist Michael Medina (26 -3 – 2, 19 KOs).  The pair will face off in a 10-round fight prior to the night’s main event.  Nelson comes into tomorrow’s fight on the heels of a 10-round unanimous decision win over previously undefeated 2008 Olympian Josh Jackson.  Medina also comes into tomorrow’s fight with some momentum.  He was also victorious in his previous match with an 8-round unanimous decision win over James Winchester.

Joe Tessitore and Teddy Atlas will be at ringside to call all of the action for ESPN 2 HD.  Studio host Todd Grisham will also be on site with all of the latest boxing news and highlights.  Alex Pombo and Delvin Rodriguez will call the fights for ESPN Deportes along with Leopoldo Gonzalez and Pablo Viruega in studio.  Bernardo Osuna will have interviews and reports for ESPN 2 HD and ESPN Deportes. 

ESPN’s Friday Night Fights is presented each week by Corona Extra.  Fans of ESPN’s Friday Night Fights can keep up with all of the latest news and more from the show online at http://www.facebook.com/espn.fnf and on Twitter at @ESPNFNF and @ESPNBoxeo.  Fans can also score the fights themselves from home thanks to the “Live Friday Night Fights” voting app on Facebook.  The app allows users to score the fight live round-by-round.   

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always get the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.