Wednesday, June 28, 2006


I saw Beck yesterday. What a performance! All I'm gonna say is puppets & dinner table music!!


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Summertime in the City

Normally at this time of year, I’d be playing the #$% outta any hip hop albums with bangin’ beats and nice flows…it’s July, and it’s LA, so you have to have the perfect summer mix CD to accompany those sunny drives crawling through traffic on the 10 freeway on the way to the beach. And even though I’m normally pretty picky about my hip hop, in the summertime, I’ll listen to just about anything with upbeat rhymes and hard beats...I’ll even tune into 93.5 KDAY (when they at least had a decent amount of golden era hip hop in the rotation) or worse, 105.9 KPWR for those summer jams.

So I don’t know if I’m getting older, or maybe it’s just my mood, but this summer I don’t even feel like hearing the latest Ghostface, Nas, or AZ anymore. I’d rather listen to something more mellow, but still just right for sitting under the sun on a laid-back SoCal summer day.

That said, here’s some songs on a slightly different note than I’d normally be listening to for my songs of summer…I won’t blab about them like I normally do, but if you have any comments, would love to hear what you think.

[MP3] Dennis Brown :: Things in Life
[MP3] Shuggie Otis :: Aht Uh Mi Head
[MP3] Iron & Wine :: Sea and the Rhythm
[MP3] Asobi Seksu :: Sooner
[MP3] Paperboy :: The Ditty

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Some Things Never Get Old...

Some things never get old or outdated. Whether it be your favorite pair of classic kicks or your favorite sweater, some things never go out of style. Midnight Marauders happens to be a quintessential example of what a classic hip hop album should be. It's one of those albums that a lot of people overlook yet it deserves the biggest props. No record sales numbers will ever define and defeat this album in terms of content and quality or degree of style and hipness. 

The first time I experienced Midnight Marauders was when I was like 13 me thinks…

T'was a cold December morning in the DC area. I remember me being a shorty who needed to get his ass to middle school. It was like 6 am and my crusty ass was still asleep. It was then when my radio alarm went off and I heard this phatass track with this real ill loop. It was real jazzy and at the same time the beats were intact and aggressive. I heard Q-Tip’s nasal tone spitting on this track along with Trugoy (from De La) on the chorus chanting, “we on award tour with Muhammad my man going each and every place with the mic in they hands, Houston, Delaware, DC, Dallas…"

I said "what the hell was that?" Come to find out it was my favorite group in the world…. A Tribe Called Quest… It was their single, “Award Tour” along with “Electric Relaxation” that blessed the radio stations in my area for the entire summer and winter of 1994. Me being a poor young man, I couldn’t cop the album in a CD format. Finally a tape version of this album landed in my hands during early 1995. A local cat near my neighborhood named Tae let me borrow his tape for my school trip to Atlanta. The bus ride was long as hell down to Atlanta. However, the Tribe kept me company throughout the 10 hours I was stuck in the bus.

During the ride, I was mesmerized by the deep bass of "8 Million Stories" told by Phife. “We Can Get Down” was another track that I kept on rewinding and playing it over and over. The lyrics were just so precise, sick, and reflective of the state of life and fashion of the eastcoast then…(”standing on the wall with my Polo on/talking to the girl with the Liz Claiborne/Keep the poetry in my black knapsack/got my Timbo hooks and my Doublemint pack…)

When we touched down and checked into the hotel, all my classmates were jumping into the hotel pool. While I was hot and tired, I decided to kick it outside the pool by listening to “Oh My God” over and over again… This was one sick track. The beats and samples were just amazing and cohesive. Shaheed used a sample of “Who’s Gonna Take the Weight” by Kool and the Gang on this one. An entire 12 pack of AA Duracells were depleted because of this tape that I bumped in that yellow Walkman. This classic took me on a journey from that weekend on… It was my best friend throughout my 4 years in high school and through college… I even bump it while I drive in 2006.

Did I ever return that tape back to Tae? Um… NO…

[MP3] A Tribe Called Quest :: Electric Relaxation
[MP3] A Tribe Called Quest :: 8 Million Stories

[MP3] Ronnie Foster :: Mystic Brew (Electric Relaxation Sample)
[MP3] Bola Sete :: Bettina (8 Million Stories Sample)

[MP3] A Tribe Called Quest :: Lyrics to Go (Tumbling Dice Remix)
[MP3] A Tribe Called Quest :: Oh My God (Remix)


Friday, June 23, 2006


Congrats to the Miami Heat for taking the whole enchilada. I especially got love for the old skoolers (GP, Zo, Riles, and maybe even some for Walker). But since this is supposed to be a music blog, I can’t just talk about ball. So the next logically thing is to bring up that age-old debate, ballers who want to be rappers & rappers who want to be ballers. The connection is clear, both achieve a high level of financial success and come from humble beginnings. Now with the rappers who want to be ballers, I tend to think that they’re are more success stories here than vice versa. Some clean examples of fellas who can rock the pill as well as the mic are Snoop, Nelly, Biv (from Bell Biv DeVoe), etc. Some of these were serious ballers, but saw a better future in hip-hop (a la Master P).

Now the other way around, ballers who want to be rappers, hasn’t worked as well for some reason. Prime examples include AI, Kobe, and most recently, Tony Parker (in French nonetheless). And who can forget, or at least hope to forget, that sorry compilation B-Ball’s Best Kept Secret, where the hottest producers at the time (Warren G, Ill Al Skratch, etc.) worked with ballers like Jason Kidd, Cedric Ceballos, etc. The way that one worked out, they probably all wish it was still a secret. We won’t even get into the other sports athletes (Deion Sanders is probably thanking the Lord as we speak). But there has been one exception to this rule: The Diesel. Shaquille O’Neal has dropped more solo albums (4) and had better sales than any other baller/rapper period. Consider this, Shaq’s first album, Shaq Diesel, went platinum in 1993. It did better than hip-hop legends Queen Latifah’s, Soul’s of Mischief’s & Run DMC’s albums that same year. I mean, BIG was so big, that he even had his video for the song “Outstanding” debut on In Living Color, when it was still a hot show.

[MP3] Fu-Schnickens feat. Shaq :: What's Up Doc?
[MP3] Shaquille O’Neal :: I Hate 2 Brag
[MP3] Shaq feat. Notorious BIG :: Still Can’t Stop the Reign

Here’s to hoping that D. Wade doesn’t kick rhymes.


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Better Than Lupin the 3rd

I’m not gonna waste much space talking about this cat because the music speaks tons for itself. All I’m gonna say is that Lupe Fiasco is a real soulful dude and with his combo of street cred (hails from Chicago’s West Side) & killer flow he should be able to blow up without losing himself (a la Jigga, Tribe, BIG, etc.). With major exposure coming from his verse on Kanye West’s “Touch the Sky” and serious airtime for the video “Kick Push,” the first single off his debut album Food & Liquor, the sky’s the limit for Fiasco. Word on the street is that the full length wont drop until 6/27, so until then we all have to cop DJ E. Nyce’s Touch the Sky mixtape which features bits n’ pieces of material from the album as well as freestyles. Superstar cameos include: Kanye, Ghostface Killah, Mike Shinoda, etc. But for all you exclusive heads, we have you covered. Here are some of my favorites, full length, above & below.

[MP3] Lupe Fiasco :: You My
[MP3] Lupe Fiasco :: Ghetto Story
[MP3] Lupe Fiasco :: No Place to Go
[MP3] Lupe Fiasco :: Close Your Mind
[MP3] Lupe Fiasco :: The Cool

Lupe's site



Monday, June 19, 2006

My Wake Up Call

Up until I heard Cool Calm Pete I’d been pretty cynical when it came to hip hop. I can’t even remember the last time I heard a hip hop album I could rock from start to finish, and even though I dig Ghostface, Lupe Fiasco, and Aceyalone, none of them could renew my faith that real (at least as I knew it) hip hop still had a bright future.

In comes Cool Calm Pete’s Lost. Yeah, I admit, I’ve definitely been sleepin on what’s new in hip hop since apparently this album dropped last summer, and Cool Calm Pete’s been polishing his flows with Babbletron for years now. One year after its release, I found some tracks from Lost on an MP3 blog and I’m definitely feeling the smart and effortless flows of the Korean-born, Queens-raised emcee.

While there’s nothing necessarily mind-blowing or groundbreaking about Lost, it brings me back to a time when hip hop was about dope beats and sick flows, and not just putting out club bangers or hardcore posing. More than anything, I like that Lost is fun. Listening to Lost was a little like listening to the playfully adolescent storytelling of Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde. Doubt me? Check out the “Brush PSA” and see how Pete will have your head noddin to a song about brushing teeth. The album is definitely not without it’s darker moments, and so in a sense, it also reminds me of the introspection and dark moods of Atmosphere or LabCabinCalifornia.

As an MC, Cool Calm Pete’s flows are smooth and effortless yet extremely deliberate. The way rhymes just spill out his mouth you don’t realize how well-crafted and witty his lyrics really are. One of my favorite lyrical moments comes off “Dinner and a Movie”:

Last night I just slayed the cat,
in the middle of hot sex, where you at???

Insatiable like Peg Bundy,
even got on her best pair of undies,

god bless the girl,
I hope she rule the world,
like the greatest pussy make life unfurl.

Take her for a twirl quick lovesick,

caught looking like a late night flick.

Tricks, bags, bitches, broads,
these lame dames who call us dogs.

Chase the puss like riff raff Heathcliff,

Pepe le Pew if you on that stink shit.

azy lass love to smoke grass,
lecherous miss hate to French kiss

Old maid she’s sweet but talk dirty,

street walker, strut so purty.

In hindsight I love them all,
even the names that I can’t recall.

Production-wise, Pete handles the beats on half the tracks, and from what I’ve read, many of his samples come from 60’s and 70’s funk and soul records he dug up in Korea and Japan. While I’m not as big a fan of his production as I am his flows, the beats are nice and I like that he’s willing to flip a track, not just once, but twice, and can do it so seamlessly.

So as much as I complain about the state of true-skool hip hop, maybe it’s just always been there and always will be, it just takes a little work to find it.

[MP3] Cool Calm Pete :: Dinner and a Movie
[MP3] Cool Calm Pete :: The List

Cool Calm Pete's Page on Embeddedmusic.net

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Friday, June 16, 2006

SLEPT ON: Nelly Furtado's Folklore

Have you ever heard any album where you thought, "Damn, am I the only one who digs this?" Well, every month, I'm going try to drop an album that I thought was slept on like this. For the first installment, it's Nelly Furtado's Folklore album back in 2003. Everyone knows her debut album Whoa Nelly! with the big hits "I'm Like A Bird" and "Turn Off The Light" (the later being what Timbaland did a remix for) and the new album, Loose, which drops next Tuesday, is bound to blow up with the smash hit "Promiscuous" (Timbo got buff!) already everywhere from the top of the charts to cell phone commmercials (For all you Exclusive Heads, I included my favorite new track off Loose, "Say It Right." Yes, there are other songs besides "Promiscuous." I prefer the boy-girl wordplay of the Positive K classic "I Got A Man." Damn I think I just dated myself.)

Anyways, Folklore did better overseas than domestically where it only sold 100,000 copies. You can listen to the album straight through as it has that very ecletic sound that Nelly has become famous for, but combined with a more stripped down rawness that makes the album (for lack of a better word) folksy with a banjo on my knee. Here are two of my favorites (check the Portuguese flow on "Forca").

[MP3] Nelly Furtado :: Say It Right

[MP3] Nelly Furtado :: Try
[MP3] Nelly Furtado :: Forca

Furtado's site


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Brazilian Wax

After listening to Cut Chemist’s “The Garden,” I decided I had to put up a post on Brazilian music. Alright, maybe not quite Brazilian music, but perhaps less traditional adaptations of this incredibly rich musical culture. What draws me to these tracks, and to Brazilian music in general, is the lightness of the vocals and the gentle rhythms. For me, there’s something eternally warm and sweet about the vocals on these tracks that makes them perfect for a summer drive or just relaxing on a lazy Los Angeles day.

While I can’t say I know much about Brazilian music, I've always liked Astrud Gilberto, who provides the vocals on the Cut Chemist track. Although she had no prior training, or any intentions of becoming a singer, Astrud quickly became famous for providing the English-language vocals on “The Girl From Ipanema.” Interestingly, Astrud was only asked to sing the part because she had been accompanying the legendary Joao Gilberto (her husband) to the studio, and was the only one there with any familiarity with English. Since then, she has become famous in her own right, and the way her vocals (sampled from “Berimbau”) lace “The Garden” really make the track complete. As its name implies, “The Garden” is a lush hip-hop influenced bossa nova track with heavy berimbau (the instrument and the song) samples. Although I’m hoping the rest of the upcoming The Audiences' Listening album will feature more music from his globe-trotting, diggin’ in the crates expeditions, it sounds a little like it’ll be an eclectic mix of home grown and international sounds, but what else would you expect from a multifaceted DJ like Cut Chemist?

The last two tracks are from Smokey and Miho, a collaboration of famed musician Smokey Hormel on guitar and vocalist Miho Hatori of Cibo Matto. I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical of hearing a Japanese singer covering Brazilian music, but it turns out that Hatori sings in both English and Japanese, and it lends a slight quirkiness that’s somehow very appropriate to the tone of the songs. Both “Blue Glasses” and “Summer Rain” are off the 2003 album, Two EP’s. Oh, and thanks to my oneisan for letting me steal these off her iPod.

[MP3] Cut Chemist :: The Garden

[MP3] Smokey and Miho :: Blue Glasses
[MP3] Smokey and Miho :: Summer Rain

Updates: I just found a copy of Astrud Gilberto's "Berimbau," which was released in 1965 on Verve. If you like her vocals on "The Garden," it's definitely worth checking out. Also, thanks to Andrew O. for sharing links to the Cut Chemist videos below, which shows the process of putting together the song, as well as Cut Chemist recording in the studio with local musicians.

[MP3] Astrud Gilberto :: Berimbau

[Video] Cut Chemist :: The Garden (Windows Media Player Hi Dial-Up)
[Video] Cut Chemist :: The Garden (Quicktime Hi Dial-Up)
[Video] Cut Chemist :: The Garden (Windows Media Player Hi Res)
[Video] Cut Chemist :: The Garden (Quicktime Hi Res)

Cut Chemist's Website

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Monday, June 12, 2006

Cool Elevator Music

[Editor's Note: Unfortunately DA MAN came down on us with the heavy hand, so we had to delete the tracks. So sorry folks, but pick up both albums if you can cause they're damn good.]

With all the buzz surrounding Thom Yorke's solo debut The Eraser, I'd like to share some really cool music that some of you Radiohead heads might not know about. Here are two of my favorite tracks from pianist Christopher O'Riley's True Love Waits album. Basically, he covered some of Radiohead's best and unlike Kenny G's "easy listening" spoofs of current artists (i.e. Outkast's "The Way You Move"), O'Riley's versions resonate with the depth of the originals. More like a well done Unplugged. And of course for all you Exclusive Heads, I threw a cherry on top.

[MP3] Christopher O'Riley :: Let Down
[MP3] Christopher O'Riley :: True Love Waits
[MP3] Thom Yorke :: Atoms for Peace

O'Riley's site
Radiohead's site


Sunday, June 11, 2006

RRRRRROAW, RRRRRRROAW, Like A Dungeon Dragon!!!

Everyone likes to shake it to Busta Rhymes' "Touch It." It's a club banger produced by Swizz Beatz. But it's tracks like "Blow This Head Off" featuring Ghostface Killah & "Been Through The Storm" featuring Stevie Wonder that have me looking forward to the release of Big Bang this Tuesday. I haven't had this much anticipation for a Busta album since he was sampling Galt McDermott and Seals & Crofts back in the late '90s.

[MP3] Busta Rhymes feat. Ghostface Killah :: Blow This Head Off
[MP3] Busta Rhymes feat. Stevie Wonder :: Been Through The Storm

Busta's site

Gimme Some More!!!

Saturday, June 10, 2006


So I decided that even though a good music blog would present more obscure, rare, and unreleased tracks, I’m sadly not enough of a music nerd to be so on top of things. While I’d love to have a blog like that, I think it’d be easier and more fun to blog about music I like in general, even if it is old, has been blogged about before, or even been played on the radio (did I just say that?).

With that in mind, I’m putting up a couple songs by Japanese supergroup Supercar. While they’ve been called the “Radiohead of Japan,” I think the comparison is only meant to highlight their widespread critical and popular appeal rather than musical similarities. Formed in 1995, Supercar rapidly achieved success with their first album, Three Out Change on the Sony label. Supercar’s sophomore release, Jump Up, also fared well on the Japanese charts, and despite several more successful releases, the band split up in 2005.

For those who haven’t heard Supercar before, I think you’ll like the combination of guitar-driven tracks and pop sensibilities. While you can definitely hear the sugary influence of J-pop in the melodies, it’s Supercar’s unique sound and their playing that sets them apart. That said, “My Girl” and “Wonder Word” are among my favorite Supercar songs, particularly because of singer Koji Nakamura’s understated vocals on “My Girl” and the warm, upbeat rhythm of “Wonder Word.” By the way, can anyone make sense of the video?

[MP3] Supercar :: My Girl
[MP3] Supercar :: Wonder Word

Supercar Website

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006


I’ve recently become a fan of scores and soundtracks, and few filmmakers know how to use music to set the atmosphere and tone of a scene quite like Wong Kar Wai. Of course, Quentin Tarantino and Spike Lee are damn good, but there’s something about how Wong’s music becomes more than an accompaniment to a movie but an integral part of the story and its characters that sets him apart.

Like In the Mood for Love, 2046 follows the story of pulp writer Chow Mo-Wan (Tony Leung) who narrates the story of his turbulent past relationships on which he bases his writing. I’ve really liked Wong’s movies because of the reality with which he portrays and unfolds relationships. Unlike in many movies, Wong’s characters are full of complexity, depth, and emotional scars, and it’s these characteristics that drive the film.

I picked these two tracks because I feel like they best defined the two main characters in 2046, Chow Mo-Wan, and Bai Ling (Zhang Ziyi). Umebayashi’s “Adagio,” is a string arrangement that is full of longing and intensity, very much like Chow himself. This plays off well with “Siboney,” a rumba originally composed by Xavier Cugat, and sung by Connie Francis. Even though I've heard Francis’ Spanish pronunciation isn't too great, there is a sultriness to the song which fits with Zhang’s mistress character. So as much as I’m not into love stories, when you can pull it off as well as Wong does, and add to that a haunting score and beautiful camera work, you’ll have me hooked.

[MP3] Shigeru Umebayashi :: Adagio
[MP3] Connie Francis :: Siboney

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Respect Due (The Valley & Beyond!)

Now that the NBA playoffs on TNT are over, for NBA fans like myself, that means no more Inside The NBA until next fall, no more of Kenny Smith's "Gone Fishing" pics, Charles Barkley's wisecracks, or the special camaraderie between EJ, Barkley, Kenny and Magic that makes the show so dope. But fortunately, this also means we dont have to hear any more of Fort Minor's "Remember The Name" from the Rising Tied album. "Remember The Name" has been the theme song for "40 Games In 40 Nights" and is also a featured track on the video game NBA Live '06. As Chuck Barkley said, "Don't y'all have another song that we can play...and who the hell is this anyways?"

Dont get me wrong, I liked the song when it first came out, but that was almost a year ago. And like all Mike Shinoda/Linkin Park stuff it's got its cool mix of hip hop with rockish tendencies. But what a lot of people dont know, especially since they've conveniently left them off the TNT version of the song, is that there's a group called Styles of Beyond (SOB) on there (as well as a majority of the other tracks on the album) and they've been wrecking hip hop with consistently good material for some time now (since the late 90's). They've definitely paid their dues and BIG UPS to Shinoda for bringing more exposure to them. Originally reppin' the San Fernando Valley, MCs Tak and Ryu have been killing it lyrically with 2 full length albums (2000 Fold & Megadef) and a gang of dope remixes and guest spots. Here are some of my favorites & of course Peanut Butter Jelly Man to last us over the summer.

[MP3] Styles of Beyond :: Pay Me
[MP3] Styles of Beyond :: Style Warz


Monday, June 05, 2006

Crazy for "Crazy"

WELL HERE IT IS FOLKS. The song for the summer, Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy." Everyone should already have it (or at least heard it by now). But, here is the original song in full. It comes from the 1968 movie soundtrack for Preparati la Bara! THE WHOLE DANG ENCHILADA! Enjoy.

[MP3] Gnarls Barkley :: Crazy
[MP3] Gianfranco Reverberi :: Nel Cimitero Di Tucson

UPDATE: Here's an NPR Review of St. Elsewhere that also talks about how Gnarls Barkley came about, it's pretty interesting.

welcome to the GET DOWNNN world.