Thursday, September 06, 2007
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
10 Questions Raised By The Video For Positive K's "I Got a Man" Upon Re-Examination in the Year 2007
1. Is Positive K wearing Joseph's actual "amazing technicolor dreamcoat?"
2. Is chasing orange spandex suit-wearing women up a flight of stairs evidence of a serious psychological disturbance, or is it completely justifiable behavior?
3. Is Positive K's ability to rap as both the man and the woman in the song one of the most supreme vocal achievements of the 20th century?
4. What does "I'm not a dove baby, so don't play me like a clown," really mean?
5. Should the styles of Puerto Rican video ho's in New York City circa 1993, forever be known as of "The Rosie Perez" era.
6. If you were hitting on a girl and she asked you, "Are a you a chef? Cuz you keep me feeding me soup," is the only acceptable response to nod your head, smile and mention that you are indeed a sous chef capable of making a spectacular pasta fagioli?
7. Was K's usage of the word "ragamuffin," the only time in U.S. hip-hop history that the word was ever used? Either way, can we all agree to bring back the word "ragamuffin," because of how fun it is to write the word "ragamuffin."
8. Should the styles of African-American video ho's in New York City circa 1993, forever be known as of the "Tisha Campbell" era?
9. Was the moment when K declares that he'll do anything for his women but "buy her things and take [her] out," the basis for the philosophy of Outkast's groundbreaking treatise on women's lib, "We Luv Deez Hoez." Specifically, the part where Big Boi says, and I quote, "I told y'all n---z about them taking them ho's to the Cheesecake Factory, letting them order strawberry lemonade and popcorn shrimp....they ain't gonna' do nuthin' but try to take all your motherfuckin' cheese."
10. Should the song end when Positive K refers to himself as "big daddy longstroke" and the girls' man as "Pee Wee Herman?" I believe in chess they call that a checkmate.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
The Mark of a Great Band
Is a lead singer with a really cool hair cut. See Flock of Seagulls and/or Kid N' Play. My Morning Jacket lead singer Jim James doesn't really have a cool hair cut. Still, I think his band is pretty great. Labor Day has come and gone and I have neither the time nor energy for a long post at the current moment. I'm still recovering from an ill-advised trip to a NASCAR Rally on Sunday, which I hope to write about sometime soon if the ringing in my ears ever ceases.
Seeing as though today marks the beginning of Fall, there seems to be no better way to kick off the new season than with some songs from My Morning Jacket, a group whose lazy pretty Indian summer tunes seem tailor-made for the weeks that surround the harvest moon. In truth, if you really asked me my thoughts on what separates the good bands from the great, I'd probably answer that two of the most prominent marks of a great band are a deep catalogue chockful of standout B-sides and EP tracks, and the ability to cover classic songs and in the process re-write their very DNA. In my mind, My Morning Jacket succeed on both counts.
From the Songs Ohia Split EP
MP3: My Morning Jacket-"O is the One That Is Real" (left-click)
From the Chocolate & Ice EP
MP3: My Morning Jacket-"Cobra" (left-click)
MP3: My Morning Jacket- "Blue Moon" (Standard) (left-click)
MP3: My Morning Jacket-"Tyrone" (Erykah Badu) (left-click)
MP3: My Morning Jacket-"A Quick One While He's Away" (The Who) (left-click)
MP3: My Morning Jacket-"I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man" (Prince) (left-click)
Saturday, September 01, 2007
My Vinyl Weighs a Ton
Another day, another journey into the Ameoba vortex. This afternoon, it's siren called and by decree, I was forced to fork over the prerequisite $50 minimum. It's going to be the only record store left in town pretty soon, which is kind of sad. But I'm pretty happy right now after this haul.
What: EPMD-"Crossover" 12" vinyl single
Why: Because no one at Rawkus ever came close to writing an anti-commercial manifesto as good as this one. Plus, the B-Side, "Brothers from Brentwood L.I." is one of the best of the era.
MP3: EPMD-"Crossover" (left-click)
MP3: EPMD-"Brothers from Brentwood L.I. (left-click)
What: Grandmaster Flash-"The Message" vinyl LP
Why: The Message? Great album cover? Or greatest album cover.
MP3: Grandmaster Flash-"It's Nasty" (left-click)
What: "Dre Day" 12" vinyl single
Sometimes, I will wonder if Tim Dog still cries himself to sleep at night.
MP3: Dr. Dre-"Dre Day" (left-click)
What: Black Sheep-A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing vinyl LP
Why: The strength of Mista Lawnge's hair alone.
MP3: Black Sheep-"Strobelite Honey" (left-click)
What: Slick Rick, "Children's Story" 12" vinyl single
Why: I needed more album covers with eye-patches in my collection
Download: Slick Rick-"Children's Story" (left-click)
What: Aesop Rock-None Shall Pass vinyl LP
Why: Because it's great.
MP3: Aesop Rock-"None Shall Pass" (right-click)
MP3: Aesop Rock-"Citronella" (right-click)
What: Pink Floyd-The Wall LP
Why: I'm thinking of opening my own Laserium.
MP3: "Run Like Hell" (left-click)
Friday, August 31, 2007
Kanye West Delivers a Classic
I've never really been a big Kanye West fan. I liked College Dropout well enough and thought roughly half of Late Registration was fantastic. But neither ever seemed to me like the sort of world-breaking achievements that warranted Ye's massive ego. But with Graduation, West has actually backed up his insane braggadocio, delivering the rare hip-hop album that not only manages to fulfill expectations but exceed them.
Whereas Late Registration in its saccharine swooning strings and superfluous instrumentation felt all too much like the work of a slightly insecure guy trying to make the most "important" sounding album possible, Graduation is the work of a confident and assured artist in his prime. It marks the first time in his career where his rapping ability has caught up to his production skills, the moment when Kanye finally became comfortable and consistent in his own persona, or as he puts it on "Good Morning": the fly Malcolm X, buy any jeans necessary."
It's the album that you hoped that the guy from College Dropout would grow up to make. Dallas Penn thinks the album is the sound of the future, and he's not all that far off. It's a mess of techno synths, haunting organs and familiar sounds re-purposed ingeniously, an avatar of the weird post-Internet world where the jump between Daft Punk and mainstream hip-hop doesn't seem all that far. And no one understands this new world better than Kanye, as he samples Steely Dan, Daft Punk, Can, Michael Jackson, to create one of the the most creatively produced hip-hop records since De La Soul. More importantly, he chops the samples well, manipulating the vocals effortlessly and precisely to create a seamlessness that his music had often lacked.
I realize this sort of comes off like some of fanboy declaration of how good this record is, but in all honesty, I was relatively apathetic to West until the album leaked yesterday. But on Graduation, he's captured something special, the sort of instant classic that feels impossible to hate on. You kind of have to root for the guy. It's sort of like the ultimate vindication for rap nerds everywhere, that a dorky guy who could barely get a record deal actually turned into the most acclaimed rapper in the world and instead of squandering his talent, he dug deeper and worked harder to secure his legacy.
I'm not sure how this album will hold up over time, as I've only heard it a half dozen times so far, but my gut instincts tell me that it will go down as one of the great rap records of the decade. I realize this is a bold statement to make but let's be real, anybody that manages to coax great performances out of Chris Martin and T-Pain deserves a Nobel fucking Prize. So, count me in with the pack. This is worthy of the hype that will doubtlessly be thrown its way. I guess Kanye West really has graduated to become the artist he always wanted to be, finally earning the right to not have to be told anything. Though, maybe he should listen every once and a while. After all, somebody needs to tell him that those pink outfits make him look like a gay salmon.
MP3: Kanye West-"Everything I Am ft. DJ Premier)" (left-click)
MP3: Kanye West-"Stronger" (left-click)
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Great Scott! 5 of the Worst Movies Involving Rappers
Scott Towler has returned from licking his wounds over ABC's refusal to grant him an interview regarding their "Go Green" campaign. He is now reasonably convinced that licking one's own wounds is rather pointless and slightly weird.
America loves rappers turned actors. It makes sense in theory. Good rappers are usually born performers and by nature exude a confidence and swagger that would translate well to the screen. Besides, most rappers are liars anyhow (or did you think that every one really has a crime record longer than Manute Bol?), so one would think acting shouldn't be a stretch. Or maybe they just walked into their agent's office one day, pointed a gun at him or he and said: "Give me a movie or I'll motherfucking kill you." It worked for Suge Knight.
Sadly, the rise of the rapper/actor/model (and not the other way around), has not made for great cinema. See these five examples.
DMX is not an actor. Fine, technically he is. He did Belly and that was cool. But a fucking Seagal movie? That's like a legit actor taking a role on a soap opera and playing the "hunky doctor from out of town" (to quote Soap Opera Digest) The only reason I watch this thing was to see just how fast DMX could load a gun on screen. The answer: swiftly, with a touch of thug. What more can you ask for?
I'll confess, I paid to see Next Friday in theaters. And it wasn't half bad. It wasn't half good either. So to take a concept (the first movie), make that concept worse (the second movie), and then go and make that concept even worse (see above movie poster)...well...I'm baffled. The only saving grace is that Cube has enough staying power to not let that kill his career. After all, Cube ain't a killer, he's a lover. Or did you not hear "Today was a Good Day?"
It's not just male raptors that make this mistake (ooh, there's the word! raptor!) Anyway, just like the male raptors that have made movies, the female dilophosaurs are just as guilty. Exhibit A: Queen "UNITY" and the abomination that was Taxi. Call me crazy, but I think Jill Scott could've played this role better, plus I would have enjoyed her voice more. Instead, Jill Scott keeps making fantastic R&B records, and Queen Latifah has all but given up on music. I think her last venture was a lounge CD. And not even the good kind of lounge (think Guidance Records in Chicago or OM in San Fran), but the cheesy Benny Goodman "In the Mood" lounge of the 30s and 40s. Good for you lady! You managed to make yourself even less appealing! Yippee! Maybe next you can paint a face on your stomach and wear one of those hats that goes down to your boobs. I'll sign you up for a Shriner parade, and we'll pay you in circus peanuts.
The studio exec that made this probably believes that blaxsploitation probably died with I'm Gonna Git You Sucka. Truth be told, blaxsploitation is still alive and kicking today. It's most recent incarnation, Mo'nique's Phat Girlz, is a film about a hunky man falling for Mo'Nique's hideous self. Then, at the end of the movie, he tells her that the real beauty is in a big woman. Yeah fucking right. Hey Mo Mo- wake up. You suck, you're not funny, and please stop making me switch to letter box just so I can fit the other actor in the scene.
A more classic look at blaxsploitation comes from Soul Plane, a movie in which nothing happens but the obvious. It's like it was written by K-fed and Jamie Kennedy collaborating around the theme that if they can put hydraulics on the plane, people will think it was both "dope" and "ill" and maybe even Snoop could come in and say 'fizzle' for the white people to luagh. Soul Plane was just a string of tired stereotypes trying to re-make Barber Shop, ran out of locations, and put it on a plane. Newsflash crackers: there are no purple airplanes. And the day that 'the world's most ghetto airline' has a hub in LA (aside from United Airlines) let me know. I'll sip on sizzurp and get blunted at 30,000 feet.
Idlewild actually had good intentions: setting the modern movie-musical and setting it in a different place and time than anyone had seen done before. Except Idlewild felt like a string of music videos pieced together to make a mediocre movie. Even if they were made the music first and wrote the script around it, theme albums are just hard to do. They knew this much-delayed movie was gonna' be a failure welll before it was released. Not to mention the film premiered around the same time as ATL and Get Rich or Die Trying. Poor timing, poor script, and shitty acting don't make a movie. Unless we're talking Teen Wolf.
MP3: Outkast-"Hollywood Divorce"
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Fuck That Beef Shit, That Shit is Played Out
If these two could reconcile after Jay-Z fucked Nas' baby mama and then told the world about it, how difficult could it be for me and Bradford of Deerhunter to squash our short-lived and obviously absurd beef, one most aptly summarized by Maura of Idolator as making you regret the invention of the Internet? The answer: not hard at all. Bradford sent me a very kind and apologetic e-mail yesterday and in return I did the same. In short, shit is all good. I'd explain more, but Bradford's already done so on his own blog, so go there and while you're at it, you ought to download some of the mixes he's posted. They're good. I'll be posting a mix on their blog sometime in the next week and hopefully, he'll do the same on the Passion. Thanks for the kind e-mails of support and for all the hateful comments that called for my head on a platter. Both were equally entertaining.
MP3: Deerhunter-"Wash Off"
While the blogosphere hyperventilates about the leak of the new Devendra Banhart album, Smokey Goes to Bear Mountain, Grows a Beard and Has an Orgy with 14 Girls Named Rain Who Have Hairy Arm Pits and Went to Vassar, another, far better folk album has gone practically unnoticed: Tung's Good Arrows.
I attribute the lack of attention alloted to the London-based sextet, to the fact that the name Tunng inevitably conjures up nightmarish images of unappetizing sandwiches that you may or may not find at your local overpriced delicatessen. But rest assured that along with Monkey Swallows the Universe's similarly excellent, The Casket Letters (see Ian Mathers' outstanding Stylus review), the Tunng album is one of the best folk records made this year, one that proves that in the year 2007 the Brits apparently have a monopoly on good but melancholy folk bands with really stupid names.
Just 42 minutes, Good Arrows is a collection of 11 beautiful wistful meditations; acoustic guitars fleshed out by patches of electronic tinkering that beef up the record's frail sound and help brighten its down-tempo mood. The band has been compared to the Beta Band and Four Tet and I'd say those comparisons are apt. Though unlike those two bands, Tunng don't really make stoner headphone trips, but instead craft soothing music for the come-down, when the high has worn off and you need a record to stop your thoughts from careening like pinballs. Plus, if you cop it, you'll get the chance to approach a record store clerk and ask him or her for some Tunng. And really, how many times are you gonna' get to do that in your life without getting arrested?
Buy Good Arrows
From 2006's Comments of the Inner Chorus
From 2005's Mothers Daughters and Other Songs
MP3: Tunng-"Tale from Black"
B-Side from "The Pioneer" Single
MP3: Tunng-"Pool Beneath the Pond"