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Posts Filed Under Music

The Rocker

Filed Under: Music Reviews

rebirth-450x432In the opening of “Hailey’s Song,” Eminem, who had already broken down barriers in the rap world by virtue of being white (and lyrically innovative), says “I can’t sing/I feel like singing/I wanna fuckin’ sing.” And at the end, after what is a vocally atrocious but still very endearing song, he says “I told you I couldn’t sing/Oh well, I tried.”

Were “Hailey’s Song,” in all its experimental glory, an entire album – it would be Lil Wayne’s Rebirth: daring, bold, endearing, and not entirely …good.

As a preface, I should say I’ve been listening to an illegally downloaded ultimate version of Rebirth, which includes all of the tracks officially released this week, as well as a few that had been leaked months ago and were later pulled from the CD. In all, after more than few delayed releases, Weezy popped out nearly two-dozen songs for Rebirth, which was marketed as (and is) the rapper’s attempt to merge his own hip-hop style with rock influences. I don’t have the energy to figure out which songs were part of the final release and which weren’t—moreover, all of the songs were arguably intended for inclusion on a professional album—but I figure having a few extra ones to go off of just means Wayne gets a more comprehensive chance at impressing me. Read More ›

 
kira

4:30 PM on February 5th, 2010 | 

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Jailbird Man

Filed Under: Music

lilwayne-305x450In the world of rap, where a criminal history is the closest thing to a job requirement, it takes a unique artist to pull away from the traditional club shootings and drug deals. Cue Lil Wayne: Although the Grammy award winner was busted in 2007 for what might be considered the most predictable of rapper follies—an unregistered gun and the undeniable billowing of marijuana smoke from his tour bus—he broke the mold this week by pleading guilty to second-degree weapons possession and agreeing to spend a year in jail.

The choice was arguably a smart one: had he gone to trial, Wayne was likely to face upwards of three years in prison, depending on whether the court accepted a controversial DNA profiling technique that involves identifying suspects based on something like a dozen human cells. But considering the debate surrounding low copy number DNA profiling, he also had a chance of winning the case altogether—critics say the results of such testing are too problematic to be trusted.

Take note, rappers: There are lessons to be learned here. For one, manage to proceed through an entire court case without acting like a stereotype, and you’ll be given serious accolades in the mainstream press. Every article I’ve read about this mentions Wayne’s somber attitude during the proceeding, and courteous, if not reluctant, plea. As though making rap music precludes one from knowing to say “sir” when speaking to a judge. I mean, the man was wearing a fucking scarf; I think it’s pretty clear intimidation was not on his to-do list. Read More ›

 
kira

12:58 PM on October 23rd, 2009 | 

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Where The Wild Things Are (Inside Kanye)

Filed Under: Music

So Spike Jonze’s short film / kinda music video featuring Kanye West, titled “We Were Once a Fairytale”, has been spreading like H1N1 across the blogs today, officially certifying Jonze as the currently most hyped director of wild children or child-like men in Hollywood.

Nonetheless, the hype is pretty much deserved. Interestingly enough, this was filmed before the whole VMA Hennesseygate incident, so that only adds to its strangely enrapturing surrealism. All in all, I thought it was pretty awesome, but…

Beyonce had one of the best videos of the year.

 
aaron

10:52 AM on October 19th, 2009 | 

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Things Will Never Be The Same

Filed Under: Music

You can say “the more things change, the more they stay the same” all you want, but the reality is… some things just change.

Then:

Ice Cube Then

Now:

Ice Cube Now

 
aaron

4:03 PM on October 6th, 2009 | 

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Lost in YouTube: An Experiment

Filed Under: Be Shareful

So here’s a weird idea I had last night while surfing YouTube’s high seas. I decided to listen to music by starting on a video of my choice and from then on only selecting subsequent tracks from the previous one’s related videos. I’d pick a song I liked, and failing that, one I found at least reasonably tolerable. The playlist ends when I get bored of putting together all these fucking YouTube embeds.

Pearl Jam - The Fixer

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aaron

10:28 AM on September 30th, 2009 | 

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Papsmear

Filed Under: Music, Sneakers

Kanye's always up to something

Take a good look at the above photo. Is Kanye just signing an autograph for an awestruck fan, or is he pulling off a daring modified dick-through-the-popcorn-bucket maneuver, perhaps forever redefining the term “sneakerhead”? The world may never know… or, at least it won’t until TMZ finds out anyway.

 
aaron

11:25 AM on July 31st, 2009 | 

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Bands You Thought Were Broken Up: Part 1

Filed Under: Music

paparoach-450x450“Relief” is not a word I’d typically associate with washed-up alterna-rockers Papa Roach having a “latest album.” Rather, I would use words like “unnecessary,” or “seriously, unnecessary.” Add to that the fact that the band’s most recent work was inspired by the economy and we have ourselves a real recipe for disaster. Disaster with drums and post-adolescent male screaming. And here I thought they’d already used up their last resort. (Get it? Papa Roach joke!)

“Going home and seeing foreclosure signs popping up all over my neighborhood where I was living … and seeing people get laid off and then people living off of credit cards and going into debt—that hopelessness and that desperation fueled the lyrics,” said PR lead singer Jacoby Shaddix in an interview.

In fact, one need not pore over insipid Papa Roach lyrics to discover the band’s empathy for the country’s plight. PR, which just wrapped up a tour with Buckcherry and Avenge Sevenfold—a time machine of some sort must have been involved; I find it hard to believe anyone would pay to see this tour in the year 2009—offered cheaper ticket prices to appease concert-goers. For a mere $40, fans were able to witness this trifecta of outdated music, a deal that apparently “packed houses,” according to Shaddix.

The band, whose Metamorphosis came out this year (did you know Papa Roach has produced six albums? SIX!), is now touring with Nickelback, which means some serious hair rivalry. PR hopes to reduce its ticket prices even further in the future.

“We know money ain’t falling from the sky at all,” said Shaddix. “We want to provide something for people to get down and have fun, because that’s what people need to do, especially in hard times.”

Worry not, Papa Roach. The time will come, far sooner than you may think, when fans pay a mere $3 to watch you perform, with a T-shirt and unlimited Bud Light thrown in for good measure.

 
kira

4:22 PM on July 9th, 2009 | 

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Bring ‘Em Out

Filed Under: Music

Want to know how to get caught with 10 machine guns and only spend two months in jail? Be T.I. Inspire the children of Atlanta’s Ron Clark Academy to perform a fair and balanced parody of your hit “Whatever You Like” in the theme of last fall’s epic electoral boogaloo. Warm the hearts of teenagers everywhere with melodramatic MTV sap-umentaries. Do that, and we’ll call it a deal — you’ve done your time. After all… you are the King of the South. Or at least, so you told me.

The rapper, the self-proclaimed “King of the South,” had faced a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each charge in his three-count indictment.

Harris will be credited for 305 days of home detention he already has served after being charged, so his stay at the Forrest City prison likely will be only two months.

After this, Clifford’s going to have to do better for his lawyer than pull a Rick James and get a couple girls in the club to show him their tittays. And at the very least, this whole debacle only proves that maybe that troublesome alter ego of his, T.I.P., kind of can have whatever he likes, even if that includes a completely gratuitous stash of scary guns.

Either way, one thing is for sure: his new cell is going to blow (whoops, heh, maybe the wrong term for a prison joke… or maybe… it’s just right) compared to the dump where he spent the majority of his sentence.

Relatively free anyway. Life yo' life dogg.

Relatively free anyway. Life yo' life dogg.

 
aaron

9:30 AM on May 19th, 2009 | 

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Look Outside Your FM Dial

Filed Under: Music

Smash Mouth, ever the arbiters of cool

Smash Mouth, ever the arbiters of cool

In the latest episode in my ongoing bitter contest with Comcast (the contest consisting of me sending them 80 dollars a month and them sending me prematurely graying hair in return), I am forced to spend the day confined to working in a coffee shop that has the temperature regulation of a menopausal woman. Upon entering, I am greeted by Creed’s “With Arms Wide Open.” The merciless follow-up track? Smash Mouth’s 1999 abomination of sound, “All Star.” Indeed, it’s the perfect soundtrack for a prison.

Honestly, I’m a bit confused, bordering on panicked, as to why this song would still be in a pop radio station’s rotation. Because that would mean the song must still be considered “popular,” a fact that I’m not only incapable of understanding, but even if I could, would refuse to on principle.

Sure, Astro Lounge, the horrifying album from whence “All Star” burbled forth, had the fortune of going triple platinum due to most people being… well, kind of dumb. But I would hope that as a culture, we can forget about the mistakes of the past. After all, Kid Rock sold 21 million albums, and black people were slaves once. If we cannot change, if we cannot progress, then what hope do we have?

Think about it — Smash Mouth is a band whose covers of classic pop songs were more successful than their original material. That says something about their ability as songwriters, which is to say, they have none. And for that matter, they don’t have a vocalist either. No, at best, frontman Steve Harwell’s coarse caterwauling can be described as an impression of Guy Fieri, the unfathomably loserish host of Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, straining to take a shit while singing bad ska.

If we can’t collectively agree that Smash Mouth is one of the most shaming creations our species has conceived, then I have no choice but to assume we’re all doomed to imminent extinction. Seriously, why not celebrate Apartheid, the Holocaust, or hell, even Gigli while we’re at it?

 
aaron

12:45 PM on May 11th, 2009 | 

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It’s The Year Of The Underpaid Employee

Filed Under: Be Shareful

Aesop RockA selection from Aesop Rock’s “9-5ers Anthem”, a track on his third album, Labor Days. Something for that case of the Mondays.

We the American working population
Hate the fact that eight hours a day
Is wasted on chasing the dream of someone that isn’t us
And we may not hate our jobs,
But we hate jobs in general
That don’t have to do with fighting our own causes.
We the American working population
Hate the nine-to-five day-in/day-out
When we’d rather be supporting ourselves
By being paid to perfect the pastimes
That we have harbored based solely on the fact
That it makes us smile if it sounds dope.

Mr. Rock (no relation to The Rock) has matured and changed in a lot of ways since then, but nonetheless, it’s a volatile and perhaps even more innovative (although less accessible) collection of music than his newer material. This guy has been pushing the sheer art of rapping for years, regardless of what the mainstream hip hop community might be eating up at the time (these days… singing robots and Louis Vuitton apparently). Oh, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that his beats are hot fire.

Download “9-5ers Anthem” here if you want to see what mainstream hip hop could be if killing people over drugs wasn’t cool and T. Pain never discovered what the word “autotune” meant.

 
aaron

2:30 PM on May 4th, 2009 | 

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Merci Bocu

Filed Under: Music Reviews, Zero Tolerance

UGKFuck the catchy songs.

Getting a song stuck in one’s head is an interesting phenomenon, as it does not necessarily depend on the song being technically good. I mean, remember Bubba Sparxxx? Yeesh. Or better yet, “Hollaback Girl” — that shit was auditory terrorism.

That said, having a predilection for hip hop, you find yourself often at the mercy of a pretty retarded song with a savagely infectious beat. Specifically, I have most recently been bitten by UGK’s newest release, UGK 4 Life. I mean… the title kind of says it all already. Like, I seriously think this shit might be stuck in my head for the rest of my life.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I ain’t beefin’ with nobody. Pimp C and Bun B are talented as hell and UGK very well could be the best Southern rap has to offer. The beats are a veritable bouquet of organs, guitars, bass and other live instruments, pleasantly reminiscent of a time when hip hop’s heavy use of funk samples gave it a little more soul than Kanye’s GarageBand experiments. Nonetheless, the lyrics are… well, they’re typical of the Dirty.

The most sinisterly catchy song on the album features, of course, Akon on the hook. Despite the fact that the song’s instrumentation is fantastic, and Pimp C and Bun B’s verses are hot fire, I’m really beginning to remember why “The Sweet Escape” was so god damned annoying. It’s really hard to concede to the dark power of a chorus like this:

That girl she got me, the way she movin’ in place
Bendin’ over, spreadin’ eagle, all that ass in my face
She got me hard as hell
Got me pokin’ like a nail
She got me hard as hell
I can’t control it, can’t you tell baby?

In fact, why not just listen to it? You know I be havin’ that hook up.

Yeah, just try singing that to the delight of a packed Brooklyn train car. I can’t wait. But by all means, get the album. I love it, and I’m pretty sure it’s turning me into a misogynist — but after all, misery loves company.

Ron Isley’s on a track, does that help?

 
aaron

3:30 PM on April 11th, 2009 | 

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Ante Up Every Way

Filed Under: Music Reviews

Looking for a new album to drive recklessly to just as the weather’s starting to get nice enough to roll the windows down? LA rapper, producer, and self-obsessed tough guy of all trades, Adrian Champion just released a White Stripes mashup album full of time-tested hip hop acapellas on top of scorching, raw guitar riffs and percussive piano-driven beats. Put simply, it’s the sonic manifestation of the term “badass.”

I’ve fallen a bit out of touch with the mashup scene in recent months; admittedly, the supersaturation of worn-out formulas was starting to get to even me and my bottomless collection of regrettable Flo Rida remixes. Nonetheless, I remain both vigilant and open-minded in my search for fresh ideas in the genre of bastardizing classic songs until they resemble more closely the musical equivalent of chicken pot pie. And let me make this certain: I’ve had a lot of chicken pot pie in my time, but I assure you, I still love me a chicken mother fucking pot pie. So check out the trailer below, it should get you salivating enough to start reaching across the table for the download link.

The White Stripes made a name for themselves with their bare bones, classic sound, and Champion maintains this theme with his selection of vocal samples from various rap legends. The gritty production quality of the instrumentation forms an unlikely but perfectly complementary backdrop to the mid-to-late 90s gangland mainstream hip hop that inhabits most of the album.

The potential to draw comparisons between the last decade’s notable ghetto warfare and rapper-brawling, and the old, lawless days of grizzled cowboys shooting each other dead in the dusty streets across the Wild West has always been there, but this masterfully produced mix has brought the parallels to the forefront like nothing before. And the result is a head-bobbing, genre-defying sonic assault that carves out new territory while still remaining reverent and faithful to the samples that made it all possible.

Champion might occasionally come across a bit like the obnoxious dude at the high school lunch table who won’t stop talking about how big his dick is with all his DJ call-outs spattering the album, claiming it as a “brand new classic.” Nonetheless, his arrogance may be undesirable but it’s not exactly undeserved — this mixtape does for The White Stripes what Danger Mouse did for The Beatles way back on The Grey Album, the album that just may have set off the entire mashup craze in the first place. It’s an illuminating 48 minutes — presented flawlessly, fun to listen to without turning into generic overdone dance trash, and best of all, more than the sum of its parts.

 
aaron

2:45 PM on March 31st, 2009 | 

Posted by aaron

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