Saturday, June 23, 2007

Rock n Roll Could Never Hip Hop Like This

I guess some people really get into those hip hop/rock song mash-ups. I'm not really feelin it but whatever, I suppose you have to appease the random frat boys and hipsters that happen to wander into the hip hop scene. To me, it's like when your mashed potatoes and gravy run into your steak and veggies and then your plate becomes a sopping mess of drowned food. (Am I just being OCD here?) I suppose the music lover in me just doesn't find it that innovative when DJs mix a hip hop and rock song and expect people to oooh and ahh just cuz both songs are good in their own right. This is probably why Z-trip doesn't excite me all that much.

What sets these songs apart is that they use rock n' roll samples - adapting and recreating the music to emerge with something different and refreshing. Check it out...

Common Market :: Come Together (Over Hip Hop)

Please do not sleep on Common Market. Foreals. When I first heard this Common Market song at the Knitting Factory show a month back, I stood there as the chills ran up and down my spine, my perspirating beer cup in one hand, screaming without shame, "Ooohhh shit!" It samples The Beatles song Come Together and emcee RA Scion spits some seriously sick lyrics. Sabzi, who also produces for Blue Scholars, comes through with some amazing production work on their debut album. I truly don't think he gets nearly as much props as he should.

[MP3] Living Legends :: 2010

Ok so I honestly haven't kept up with Living Legends in awhile, but I heard this song a week ago and it catapulted me back to 8th grade, flannel shirts, chucks, and Charles D. Lopez who gave me my very first Nirvana tape. Holla! 2010 samples Nirvana's The Man Who Sold the World. I'll refrain from going on and on about Kurt Cobain's genius and the beautifully eerie combination of the guitar riffs and cello in this song.

[MP3] Rock n' Roll (Could Never Hip Hop Like This) Pt 2 :: Handsome Boy Modeling School feat. Mike Shinoda, Chester Bennington, Jazzy Jay, Lord Finesse, Grand Wizard Theodore

Dan the Automator and Prince Paul produce a dizzying six minute song that somehow manages to incorporate samples from Vivaldi's Four Seasons and Fatboy Slim's Rockefeller Skank, flows from Chester Bennington and Lord Finesse, scratching by Grand Wizard Theodore, and to top it off - a little bit of a history lesson on how hip hop was influenced by rock music. It's a delicate balance that these two veteran producers pull off nicely by weaving the classical, rock, and hip hop genres together. Again, another good album.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

NY On My Mind

It's sad and pathetic that some of us, like myself, use Hallmark holidays to take the time to show those that we love our appreciation. Well that's the boat I'm in with the time I have. So to celebrate this past Father's Day, the fam decided to show how much we appreciate all that he has done (nobody's perfect) and fulfill one of his childhood dreams. We took a little weekend trip to New York to see the Mets play the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, something that my pops has wanted to do since his baseball days and before they tear down The House That Ruth Built with probably some gaudy/modern/corporate monstrosity. We all had a great time and will probably make it a father's day tradition to check out different baseball teams on their home turf.

With all that being said, there is not a better soundtrack for NYC, than Talib Kweli's new gem Ear Drum, set to drop 7/24. Make sure you pick it up cause track for track (with all-star production from Kanye West, Just Blaze, Madlib, Pete Rock, Hi-Tek, Will.I.Am, etc.) it's Kweli's best album to date.

[MP3] Talib Kweli :: Hostile Gospel
{Can you tell that this is a Just Blaze blazer?}
[MP3] Talib Kweli feat. Norah Jones :: Soon The New Day
{I was a little nervous with the overall production of Kweli's album, after Hi-Tek departed, but it seems like Madlib and him push each other to some their best work.}
[MP3] Talib Kweli :: Electrify
{Soul Brother #1 let's you ride that beat out.}
[MP3] Talib Kweli :: Hell

Kweli has a blog too

[MP3] The Police :: Every Breath You Take (Acoustic Version)
{I had the privledge to see the Police in concert yesterday and even though they are a little older and slower, and at times it did seem like the last time they played together was 25 years ago, it was something I don't regret doing.}

With all that's happened with your health these past few years, we are just glad you're still with us pops.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

the breaks

Not too long ago, I came across an article which traced the musical legacy of Yellowman's "Zungazung." From KRS to Tupac to Black Star and many many more, Zungazung has been sampled, referenced, and sampled again throughout hip hop history. In his piece, author Wayne Marshall paints such an incredibly detailed and fascinating account of Zungazung's influence that it may just give music nerds wet dreams.

While some people criticize hip hop's heavy use of samples as unoriginal, what I love about it is how it connects one work to another and extends a song's musical legacy and influence. Of course, there are many bad examples of sampling gone wrong, most obviously when hip hop cannibalizes it's own beats, or just about anything diddy does (which can't really be called sampling because you're pretty much using the whole song). Yet when sampled properly, a song is revived in a new context and form, and is taken in an often completely different direction. This is really what good producers do so well. For me, I love coming across a dope hip hop song, then digging up the break and having my mind blown yet again.

To use a well-known example, think of Dre's "Nuthin But a 'G' Thang", which sampled Leon Haywood's "I Wanna do Something Freaky to You". Although "Nuthin But a 'G' Thang" and "I Wanna do Something Freak to You" share the same beat, each song is distinct from the other in terms of lyrics, tone, and feel. Nevertheless Dre's benchmark west coast gangsta banger brought to a new generation an appreciation for Haywood's classic, whether they realize it or not. So when you're listening to "Nuthin But a 'G' Thang" you're also in a sense listening to "I Wanna Do Something Freaky To You".

It's a little ironic then, that hip hop, rooted in braggadocio and testosterone would owe so much and be so influenced by the language of love, soul music, which is so often the source material for hip hop beats. I can't say I can explain why the connection works so well, but think it over while you listen to some of the originals and see if you can figure out who sampled these- it shouldn't be too hard.

[MP3] William Bell :: Private Number (feat. Judy Clay)
[MP3] The Main Ingredient :: Prove My Love to You
[MP3] Wendy Rene :: After Laughter (Comes Tears)

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Mellowing Out the Weekend

Mondays are back-to-the-grind days. Wednesdays are hump days. Saturdays are party days. And then there's Sundays. Sundays seem to be the unspoken yet universally understood day for peace and lovin'. It's the day for decompressing from a good weekend - staying in bed for one more hour tangled up in the sheets with your lover, listening to some Al Green, until you finally roll out of bed to go catch brunch with the girls and grub on a three-egg omelette drowned in ketchup, while gossiping about what went down on Friday and Saturday night. Mmm... yes, I do love Sundays. Don't you?

Lighter Shade of Brown barbecues at the park and K-os prefers Sundays to Saturdays in his joint Sunday Morning. And those needing to get a little more party out of their system always have the Do-Over party at Crane's in Hollywood. Hip hop heads everywhere are riding the magic of the Sunday morning tip that soul and blues artists have always been on. So, lest we forget, here are also some oldies to remind us how they did it back in the day. Maybe this is what we all need a little more of. Decompress and cruise along everyone.

[MP3] K-os :: Sunday Morning
[MP3] Etta James :: Sunday Kind of Love
[MP3] Commodores :: Easy Like Sunday Morning

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Wonderful Wednesday!

If you're like most working people, Wednesdays are probably to worst day of the week next to Monday. Middle of the week, still have two days to go, the weekend is almost there...but not really. I wish I lived in a place like Spain or Singapore, where they allow workers to take 15-30 minute naps as part of the work day. The US is not slacking enough in the department! Anyways, this Wednesday was a bit nicer, cause I found some new gems that I've been looking for. I hope you enjoy them on this wonderful Wednesday as much as I do...for the Exclusive Heads out there.

[MP3] White Stripes :: Icky Thump
{If this doesn't make you want to riot, then you are clinically dead and don't care that the White Stripes drops 6/18}
[MP3] White Stripes :: 300 MPH Torrential Outpoor Blues
[MP3] White Stripes :: Conquest
{Wa-wa-wiwa! I like bery much!}

[MP3] Polyphonic Spree :: We Crawl
[MP3] Polyphonic Spree :: Watch Us Expolode (Justify)
{This is got to cheer away those Wednesday blues...could even be used for a Monday. The Fragile Army 6/19. A must buy.}

[MP3] Beastie Boys :: Suco De Tangerina
[MP3] Beastie Boys :: Freaky Hijiki
[MP3] Beastie Boys :: Dramastically Different
{The Boys return to form, for me, with this all instrumental album The Mix-Up (officially drops 6/26). I just wish they'd spit over some of these tracks, but I like this sound much better than there "electronic" sound off the last album. Keeping my fingers crossed that the next album will be in the like of Check Your Head or Ill Communication.}

[MP3] Pharoahe Monch feat. Showtyme & MeLa Machinko :: Push
{A GOD of rap has come down to bless us all again with Desire on 6/26}
[MP3] Pharoahe Monch :: Welcome To The Terrordome
[MP3] Pharoahe Monch :: So Good
{Wa-wa-wiwa...2 times!!}

[MP3] Common feat. Bilal :: Black Maybe
{Another GOD of rap has come down to bless us all again on 7/31 with Finding Forever}
[MP3] Common :: Misunderstand


Saturday, June 02, 2007

Bright as the Stars

Just the other night a friend sent me a link to Black Star's "Respiration" video for the first time in years, and it reminded me of just how good that album was. I mean, for me, that album is in my top 5 hip hop albums of all time, and has all the elements any hip hop head would love; raw dark beats, sick flows, and conscious rhymes. For me, Black Star is one of those seminal albums that you'll always remember when you first heard it, just like you remember what you were doing when you first heard KRS' Criminal Minded, or Run-DMC's self-titled debut (my first exposure to hip hop). Not only that, but Black Star really helped spark Rawkus as a label, which at the time had a deep roster of hungry, talented, and up-and-coming emcees. Remember Soundbombing I and II? Since when has a label put out such a dope compilation?

Like most of the groups I write about, you probably know all about Black Star already, but I did want to share a few of what I think are lesser-known Black Star joints that weren't on the album.

Oh, and of course I can't leave you all without including some of my hip hop favorite verses everrrrrr:

Give me the fortune, keep the fame, said my man Louis
I agreed, know what he mean because we live the truest lie
I asked him why we follow the law of the bluest eye
He looked at me, he thought about it
Was like, I'm clueless, why?
The question was rhetorical, the answer is horrible
Our morals are out of place and got our lives full of sorrow
And so tomorrow comin' later than usual
Waitin' on someone to pity us
While we findin' beauty in the hideous
They say money's the root of all evil but I cant tell
Youknowhatimean, pesos, francs, yens, cowrie shells, dollar bills
Or is it the mindstate thats ill?
Creating crime rates to fill the new prisons they build
Over money and religion theres more blood to spill
The wounds of slaves in cotton fields that never heal
What's the deal?

[MP3] Black Star :: Bright as the Stars
[MP3] Black Star :: Make it All Better (feat. Q-Tip)
[MP3] Black Star :: Respiration (Pete Rock remix feat. Black Thought)
[MP3] Black Star :: Another World

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