Sunday, December 31, 2006

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Lend An Ear

I don't care if they sound like The Strokes. It's Never Been Like That is fantastic.

Phoenix: "Long Distance Call"

It sounds like the happiest days of your life.

The Soul Brother #1


May 3, 1933 - December 25, 2006

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Abbott


There's something almost mythical about the persona that RZA created for himself and his crew. Out of the nine members of Wu-Tang, RZA has always been the most fascinating figure to me.

This interview is an old one but I always find his musings on philosophy, metaphysics, music and business, to be interesting reads. You would never guess that an artist responsible for putting together one of the most robust and intimidating groups in music could exude so much wisdom and intellectual calm. Must be all that eastern philosophy he's been studying.

...and oh yeah, it's "official".

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Seoul Survivor

I've never seen one episode but all I know is that he's Korean.

If one Korean wins, we all win.

Street Art

JUST CLICK

Ones We Miss



Still shining...

More Fishy



Starks! You let me down!

This album isn't terrible. But it's not very good either. Which simply means it pretty much sucks - mostly. I like 4 cuts here.

"Ghost Is Back" - Which is basically Ghost over Eric B. & Rakim "Know The Ledge". He does kill it though.

"Gunz n Razors" - Ghost at his usual best. Plus the beat bangs.

"Outta Town Shit" - This one leaked some weeks back. Showcases once again Ghost's knack for storytelling.

"You Know I'm Good" - It's got a decent Mark Ronson track with Amy Winehouse, an up and coming British crooner.

The rest is a bunch of mix-tape bullshit material of his Theodore Unit crew - Shawn Wiggs, Trife Da God & Cappadonna. Plus some rhymes from Sheek Louch and Redman that were basically phoned-in.

Ghost over good beats is good music.

More Fish is much less.

No Just OK


Not feeling much of the music released in 2006 so I had to dive into the past to get some good listenings in. I'm swimming through 1997 when Radiohead's OK Computer dominated my soundscape. I'd probably say it's one of the greatest albums I've listened to personally and I've yet to hear a vocalist as unique as Yorke. Even his sometimes moody, incoherent mumblings will fascinate.

My favorite track you ask? It's hard to say for albums this good. I mean, in terms of quality tunes OK Computer is 12 for 12. However, "Climbing Up The Walls" always sends a resonating chill down my spine. It's a slow, dense fog inching its way on to shore to engulf you in its vastness...or something like that.

Anyway, 2007 is almost upon us. Can we expect albums that are put together with the ear for perfection as Radiohead did a decade ago? I'm uncomfortably optimistic.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Remains

So much for the Dynasty. It's officially the offseason.

Nas' Hip-Hop Is Dead sucks. I'm not mentioning his name from now on until he officially drops that Premier collabo - fuckouttahere...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Other-Worldly-Soul



Aretha Franklin - One Step Ahead

It's impossible to even think in this era that soul music this engrossing will ever be recorded again.

You may recognize this from something Mos Def did back when he did music worth listening to. Aretha Franklin's vocals will simply draw you in and dismantle your whole fuckin' disposition, whatever that may be. The smokey soul she emotes is just too deep to deny. Feel it.

These cats do.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Cosmic Slop

Based on the last three weeks of this shit, I'm convinced that there is no God.

Right of way in India.

Does Esquire Magazine even have a black readership? If not, why is this article even necessary? If it is necessary, why is it in Esquire magazine of all publications???

I love records. But come on....

Hell Hath No Fury


"I LOVE the shit. But it's HARD to defend it" - Chris Rock

And here are the Clipse. And this is the new album. It's highly anticipated being that the execs over at Jive/Zomba have had a corporate choke hold on the albums release for a couple of years now and it has finally seen a release date. These guys had to pretty much record a whole new fuckin' album in that span. Their last album, Lord Willin', was incredible. Sure the overall theme of it was littered with cocaine coloquials and flipped metaphor after metaphor in that vein. Even so, street hustlin' coke talk never sounded so good. Hell Hath No Fury is pretty much a sequel, not in any thematic way, but overall content stays relatively consistent - "I'm a hustler. Keys open doors. I lay bricks like Shaq. I'm the snowman, call me frosty." "Powder" this and "China White" that... And so on and so forth... But man, do they make the it all sound good. Plus, the Neptunes sound never came off better. It glistens. It cracks. It sputters. It gallops. It shines. After hearing the production on Hell Hath... it's hard to believe Pharrell's solo album turned out to be shit stew. This album boasts the best Neptunes production I've heard in a looonngg while. Those who know, know.

The Clipse are confident. They have an undeniable swagger and it is executed perfectly through this 12 track manifesto. Their approach is one of indifference. They don't care what anyone thinks and it works to their credit because the album's floss is utterly convincing. The fact that you don't agree with them doesn't mean you can't appreciate the performances. From it's opener "We Got It For Cheap", complete with hyped organ stabs and cluttering drums (the generic Tony Montana bullshit throughout the track is like a zit on a diva though, just sayin'), to the fiendish "Nighmares" featuring Bilal, Hell Hath No Fury is the most complete album this year in it's tight, 12 track bundle.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Roots = Beatdowns In Holland


?uesto's video blog of The Roots' current European tour has been pretty entertaining. This is a great story as told by Kamaal. The Roots get thuggish ruggish in Amsterdam!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Saga Continues...


Ghostface releases are always an event to me. Most anticipated is an understatement.

Don't let me down Starks!

Nobody's Smiling


Some folks don't have much good to say about Jay-Z's comeback album. I've only given it the once over and need to give it a couple more listens before calling it a flop (which at first listen, it is).

What I don't like:

- the whispering bullshit he does throughout some tracks.

- the Neptunes produced "Anything". Bad, bad idea. Conceptually,
stylistically, lyrically, sonically... Just bad all around.

-one too many half assed Dr. Dre tracks (save "Lost One").

Alltogether, a very uneventful comeback. Like MJ with the Wizards.

What I do like:

- The three leaks.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Good Dr.


"My Man's Gone Now" (DJ Wally Remix) - Nina Simone

(From the compilation Nina Simone: Remixed and Reimagined)

Not since "Funkier Than A Mosquito's Tweeter" have I been so blown away by a Nina Simone track. Excellent remix.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Game - Doctor's Advocate


I like it.

"Compton" - (Produced by Will. I. Am): The best track.

"Why You Hate The Game" feat. Nas - (Produced by Just Blaze): Nas kills it. Marsha's cool. The Game is, eh. The track is good and could be better if not for clocking in at an unnecessary 9+ minutes.

Scott Storch does very believable Dr. Dre imitations on "Let's Ride" and "Too Much". As a matter of fact, I don't remember hearing imitations this good. "Too Much" is one of the gulliest tracks on this album...AND what's a west coast anthem without a requisite Nate Dogg on the hook?

I began counting how many times Game name drops on this album and lost count. I actually lost count with number of times Dre's name is uttered. But tireless name-dropping aside, this albums quite good. Lyrically, he's still compelling enough to listen to and from time to time he really shines. Unfortunately, he kept the sagging title track on the album where he just sounds like a little bitch. I would recommend that you give it a listen but I wouldn't put you through that. Really, it's pitiful. I only gave it a complete listen on principal because I listen to albums all the way through without FF if I'm gonna put it on blast.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Hovi Baby


So far three tracks from Kingdom Come have been leaked.

"Show Me What You Got" - (Produced by Just Blaze): A lot of people say it's weak but I think it's hot. Great lead single cause it's packed with some good energy.

"Kingdom Come" - (Produced by Just Blaze): I never (never, never) thought anyone would sample Rick James' "Super Freak" ever (ever, ever) again after MC Hammer. However, Just Blaze freaks the shit out of it and creates a monster.

"Lost Ones" - (Produced by Dr. Dre): My favorite leak from the new album. It just works. The beat is a heavy, minimalist track that you'd expect from Dre. Jay gets introspective on this one and weaves through this track effortlessly, touching on some personal subjects. Add Marsha Ambrosius from Floetry on the hook and there you go.

Here, listen for yourself.
...& Kingdom Come.

Ghostface & Raekwon - Apollo Kids


The Wallaby Champ in his best video.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

GZA - Knock, Knock


Wu-Tang forms like Voltron and he's the head.

1 Thing

Heather B - All Glocks Down


Back when BET's Rap City used play Hip-Hop videos...
The track by Kenny Parker is the best he ever did. And that's including his work with BDP.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Raekwon The Chef


Cuban Linx II? In the meantime...

RZA's Tragedy



One of my favorite cuts from The RZA (Produced by True Master). The video (directed by GZA) is classic - one of Wu-Tang's hidden gems.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

J Dilla Shines On


The Shining officially dropped today. It's pretty much what I anticipated from a Jay Dee record - consistantly good music with a few tracks that geronimo! off the disc...

E=MC2: Kind of reminds me of Common's "Soul Power" from Electric Circus - sounds like the future of the funk.

Love: It was leaked some weeks back with distorted audio snippets of Jack Nicholson in THE Shining. Monch is O.K. but Dilla's track practically lifts me off my feet.

So Far To Go: Haven't heard D'Angelo in a while. His hook is pleasant. Common comes off with his usual syrupy-ness. This is my favorite track from the album. It feels too good not to hit repeat. Beautiful.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Sinatra Shot Ya


I don't have too much history on Nancy Sinatra other than the obvious. The daughter of the late great Frank Sinatra, Nancy belted out a few pop hits in the late 1960's. "These Boots Are Made For Walking", recorded in 1966, was her only #1 hit out of 21 singles that charted on the Billboard Hot 100 in the mid- to late- 1960's.

I started to give Nancy Sinatra a more dedicated listen after hearing her "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)" in the intro to Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol. 1. Leave it to The Rza, who scored the picture, to pluck the perfect tune to open a movie. The song has a mesmerizing quality to it. It's lush in it's quietness, but it's Nancy Sinatra's airy and almost ghost-like vocals that really gives this tune it's haunting quality.

"As Tears Go By", from her Boots album, changes the pitch up a bit. It's a breezier tune with more rhythmic elements incorporated into it. Again, Nancy Sinatra's vocals fit perfect for the vibe. She doesn't strive or try to push the melodies. She's more or less whispering them in your ear.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Summer Sounds


1. Saturday In The Park - Chicago
2. Smoke Rings - Sam Cooke
3. 1 Thing (Siik Remix) - Amerie
4. Broken Toy - Keane
5. Mind Blowin' Decision - Jimmy Sabater
6. The Awakening - Ahmad Jamal Trio
7. Upside Down - Jack Johnson
8. Sunny - The Three Sounds
9. You Know How We Do It (Remix) - Ice Cube
10. Hell0, It's Me - John Legend

Friday, May 26, 2006

Classic Canadian Rock

Here's my random pick of the month.

The short history of The Guess Who goes like this:

1962 - Local band called Chad Allen & The Reflections forms in Winnepeg, Manitoba. Later band changes name to Chad Allen & The Expressions

1965 - Burton Cummings replaces Chad Allen as lead and keyboard and signs with Quality Records. First hit "Shakin' All Over" reaches #1 in Canada and #22 in the U.S. Radio stations refused to play their music because they were Canadian so record company throws "Guess Who?" on a plain white album cover to provoke curiousity. It works and the album sells 2 million copies. Group changes name to The Guess Who.

1969 - Now signed to RCA Records. Releases "These Eyes", the bands first top ten hit (#6)under new band leader Cummings.

Groups only other #1 hit - "American Woman" in 1970.

I used to play the first minute or so of "These Eyes" repeatedly when I first heard it. The interplay between the bassline and organ stabs is perfection. Then the drum break kicks in and takes the song past perfection. The second bar then, with it's subtle string arrangements, takes the song to an angelic level. What I love about this song is that it starts quietly then gains momentum and fades out with a babbling cry from the lead. It's vintage rock, on the Canadian tip.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Cookin' Up Some Marvelous Sh**?



Second most anticipated.

There's an unofficial tracklisting floating around cyberspace.

I don't consider this a legitimate Cuban Linx sequel if the production credits don't read like this:

PRODUCED BY THE RZA FOR WU-TANG PRODUCTIONS

The 5th Dynasty



Game Theory - Most anticipated.

Although I have to agree with this reviewers take on the album's first single "Don't Feel Right".

But I'm not sure about his take on Black Thought as never having "been the gripping MC everyone wants him to be". The Roots' frontman's got a grip like a baby on a tit.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Brooklyn's Finest You Rewind This


B.I.G's Life After Death had way too much filler to be considered a better overall album than his debut. Delete half the tracks on it and maybe it would have been a more complete piece of work. Regardless, you can't deny that the Notorious one delivered some of the most vivid and memorable punchlines recorded to date. Who cares if some of his tracks were duds?

But lets not talk about Biggie duds.

"I Got A Story Tell" has been a B.I.G. favorite of mine because he really puts his storytelling talents to work on this one. Not only does the track simmer (I'm 99.9% sure Buckwild lifted the drum break from Al Green's "I'm Glad You're Mine"), Frank Whizza's flow over this Buckwild produced jewel is just uncanny. He does it without effort, like he just got back from the pad with his Prada napsack full of paper. I especially like the end as he summarizes his heist with members of his crew, describing the details of what he just kicked in his rhyme.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Stapleton's Finest: In The Purist Form

Fishscale is the best Ghostface since Supreme Clientele. While I don't think it boasts better overall production than the latter, I do think that his choice of tracks to smash his verses over for Fishscale put him at the top of 2006's best albums list. Notables:

"The Champ" - Prod. Just Blaze
"R.A.G.U." - Prod. Pete Rock
"Be Easy" - Prod. Pete Rock
"Barber Shop" - The Studio Beatz

Pete Rock is definitely re-emerging thanks to his contributions to Fishscale (although "The Dogs of War" is kind of stale). The J-Dilla tracks "Beauty Jackson" and "Whip You With A Strap" were good but not great. Same for the 4-5 MF Doom tracks on the album. "Be Easy" was a fantastic first single for the album and it's a shame Def Jam didn't do a better job in promoting that single with a video. Not surprising that "Back Like That" feat. Def Jam's R&B crooner Ne-Yo was pushed with more vigor. Regardless, Fishscale is fishscale.


Saturday, April 08, 2006

Dilla Does It Right


It took a while to compile my favorite Jay Dee treats but it takes a dedicated ear to really absorb his music. In doing so, I've come to appreciate his approach to pasting sounds together to create some of the most soulful, expansive, sparse, emotive and crunchiest beats this side of the cosmos. I just picked up Scratch Magazine in which the Legendary Roots Crew grace the cover with a tribute to Dilla Dog. I didn't really get much from the last interview Jay Dee did but his music speaks for itself. Here's my playlist of Detroit's finest. He didn't do the beats for all the tracks I've listed. He wasn't too shabby on the mic either.

1. Welcome To Detroit: Jay Dee- It has to be the intro to any Dilla mix. Absolutely has to...

2. The Mission: Jaylib- My favorite track from the collabo album with Madlib. Madlib's track is amazing. His cuts on this play out like those MC's actually came in and laid down the vocals. Dilla kills it too. "Who says producers ain't suppose to rap..."

3. Heat: Common- Common never sounded better or hungrier. How did Jay do that with the drums? + the bass line will clear that earwax build-up, trust me.

4. Runnin': The Pharcyde - It's the first track I ever heard from Jay Dee. The piano loop is mesmerizing.

5. Busta's Lament: A Tribe Called Quest - Truthfully, The Love Movement was a hard pill to swallow. I don't know, maybe it's too musical or too far ahead for me to understand. Regardless, this track is THE standout on that album. It just feels too good, like a breezy spring afternoon.

6. Enjoy The Ride: Busta Rhymes - Speaking of Busta's laments, this is my all-time favorite of the Busta catalog and it's only because Dilla did the track. It's so good it's surreal.

7. Soul Power: Common - I still don't know how I feel about Electric Circus but this Jay Dee jewel doesn't sound like the usual soulful stuff he does for Common. The drums don't crack but it's eerily put together and good enough to hook your ear on. It also boasts one of my favorite punchlines with "the nympho of info I'm fuckin' what ya heard"...

8. Niggas Know: Pete Rock & J-Dilla - It's not the best off of PR's Soul Survivor II (which was kind of dry). It's simple and sparse with a wicked bassline. Dilla didn't produce this one but his verse and delivery doesn't disappoint like Pete's album.

9. Reminisce: Bilal feat. Mos Def & Common - How did he get the bassline to come off like it's hovering above the flux like that?

10. Nag Champa (Afrodisiac For The World): Common - As you can see, Dilla did some of his finest work for Com. This song comes in a close second to Ressurection as my all time favorite tune from Common. The words and music fit perfectly and because that's so rare it's why this song is so good. Jay Dee just got it right with this track and it's a perfect outro for any Jay Dee mix.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

J Dilla R.I.P.



Dilla's passing inspired me to put together a playlist of my all time favorites. It's not complete. After listening to his work more closely I realize how influential he was to other producers of this era. More to come.

Friday, January 13, 2006

The Strokes: First Impressions of Earth


It's the first non-Hip-Hop album that I'm playing in 2006. Memorable cuts include "You Only Live Once", "On The Other Side", "Killing Lies", and my favorite of them all "Razorblade". I haven't listened through a whole rock album since Queens Of The Stone Age's Lullabies To Paralyze but First Impressions got so many enjoyable flurries on it you can't help but stay tuned in.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Good Revolutions 2005


The Top 10 are probably truer rankings, but I did the best I could for 11-20. Those tend to change with my mood.

20. Outside The Box: Miri Ben-Ari
19. The Importance of Being Idle: Oasis
18. Beauty: Edan
17. Mic Check: Juelz Santana
16. Lovin' It: Little Brother
15. Outta Control (Remix): 50 Cent feat. Mobb Deep
14. I Can't Help It: C.L. Smooth
13. I Never Came: Queens of the Stone Age
12. Heard 'Em Say: Kanye West
11. Talk: Coldplay
10. Good Time: Leela James
9. How Long Do I Have To Wait For You: Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
8. They Say: Common feat. Kanye West & John Legend
7. Hate It Or Love It: The Game feat. 50 Cent
6. Dear Summer: Jay-Z
5. Ones We Miss: Lone Catalysts
4. Real People: Common
3. Where I'm From: The Game
2. Go Crazy (Remix): Young Jeezy feat. Jay-Z
1. 1 Thing: Amerie