I saw Beck yesterday. What a performance! All I'm gonna say is puppets & dinner table music!!
:: MISTA HIPPO ::
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
Some things never get old or outdated.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,
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
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] A Tribe Called Quest :: Electric Relaxation
[MP3] Ronnie Foster :: Mystic Brew (Electric Relaxation Sample)
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.
:: MISTA HIPPO ::
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.
Lazy 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
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
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?
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
UPDATE: Here's an NPR Review of St. Elsewhere that also talks about how Gnarls Barkley came about, it's pretty interesting.
[MP3] Gnarls Barkley :: Crazy
[MP3] Gianfranco Reverberi :: Nel Cimitero Di Tucson