Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Pono: On a More Positive Tip

Matsumoto's Shave Ice in North Shore - a local institution!

I was out in Oahu for a convention this week, which was of course spent ditching most of the workshop sessions for the beautiful beaches and eating at all the local holes. During one of my trips out to a secluded spot out near Mililani, the local surfers dropped some knowledge about the Hawaiian way of living. One of their values is the word "pono," and they described it as being in balance with your life, giving to others (even strangers) without questioning whether it'll come back to you, because things always come back around when you're in need. It's also about righting the things that are disrupting the balance in your life, even getting rid of things that you don't need to create this harmony - the eventual goal to create balance in all aspects of yourself.

The concept of pono had me thinking about all the consumerism that goes on these days, especially in mainstream hip hop, where fools will drop $500 for a BAPE hoodie that will match their kicks. Not that I'm about to soapbox about hip hop and consumerism, but being in Hawaii where the best things are FREE and enjoyed by everyone (namely, the ocean), it was refreshing to be blessed by the local attitudes. Just kickin it in flip-flops and a bikini, listening to the mellow grooves of the Hawaiian island music, and getting a smile and a "Hey how's it goin" from random folks. Yeah, I'm doing real good right about now... even though I swallowed a crapload of saltwater after being thrown from my surfboard one too many times.

Here are some jams from the local island and reggae music stations that I was bumping the whole week. All positive sounds by local artists. And by the way, hearing reggae on a radio station is a trip, but definitely in a good way!

[MP3] Lukie D :: Missing You Like Crazy
[MP3] Fiji :: Morning Ride
[MP3] Fiji :: Tequila Sunrise
[MP3] Opihi Pickers :: Beautiful Ladies
[MP3] Katchafire :: Color Me Life

||| debstar |

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Why Boys Will be Boys

Alright, so the songs i'm putting up are hardly slept on or even remotely unfamiliar, but I just had to post this stuff up after the last weekend...allow me to explain...two months ago, our good (married) friend Rob found out his wife was leaving town the weekend of August 18th, and promptly sent out the following email :

"Michelle is heading up to the Bay Area 8/18-19. Anyone interested in going to Vegas for the weekend? Of course I'll still need to clear the trip, but hell, I cant wait for Muttpop's party to get back to vegas! Shit! Or if we end up staying down here, lets try to get some good times in that weekend. Let me know what's working for you. Take Care, Rob"

Now note that this email came TWO months before the actual day of, and I'm not going to comment on how funny that is, or what it tells me about married life, but for Rob's Big Weekend of Freedom he ended up planning for us to go to a Mercedes test drive at Santa Monica airport followed by some drinking and clubbing. Before I go on, let me just preface all this by saying I've never been one to be very impressed by material things, brand names, status or any of that. I mean, take a look at my car, all my donated (NOT mooched as debstar and hippo would have you believe) furniture, my (nonprofit) job, and you know I couldn't even care about that stuff if I wanted to because I don't have those kinds of ends anyways. But whatever, I thought it'd be fun to go abuse the crap out of a nice car and knock over some cones, and signed up.

That day, we unfortunately found out that the closed course test drive on the tarmac was no longer available because of FAA issues, but we were all still determined to drive like maniacs on the streets of Santa Monica. We get to the front of the line for the drive, and there's something about seeing a row of brand new, engines purring, gleaming sportscars all lined up outside the hangar that quickened my pulse and had the boy in me getting all giddy. They then tell us to get into the cars and I head straight for the titanium gray C-300 Sport and as I opened the door, I suddenly felt like an 8-year old kid whose dad threw him the keys to his car and told him to get stupid.

I never thought I'd have that much fun, but banging the shit out of the stereo with the windows and sunroof open on a perfect LinkSanta Monica day, getting dirty looks from the neighbors as I floored the Mercedes and slammed the brakes at each stop sign brought out the most immature, gleefully carefree side of me that reminded me of childhood (not that I ever got to do this as a boy). What really made my day though, was that Power 106 was playing the PERFECT bass bumping songs for the test drive...I mean, Kanye, UGK, AND Black Sheep?!? I couldn't have asked for better joints to accompany our frenzied drive careening through the streets with the stereo on blast. So here's to wives being out of town, crapping in the parking lot of Blue Wave car wash (wasn't me!), and getting to be belligerent boys again.

[MP3] Kanye West :: Stronger
[MP3] UGK :: International Players Anthem
[MP3] Black Sheep :: The Choice is Yours

|bruce banner|

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Bruce Love Japan

After reading Hippo's latest post on Nujabes, I was reminded of some pretty dope hip hop that came from the land of the rising sun. I have to admit, on my visit to Japan a while back, I wasn't that impressed with Japanese hip hop - much of it tended to sound too much like a poor imitation of gangsta rap. In recent years though, it seems like Japanese hip hop has found it's own sound, which is more laid back, warm, and oftentimes jazzy. Kind of hard to describe, but the Nujabes definitely embody that sound with the rest of the artists below representing a spectrum of Japanese hip hop.Link

[MP3] DJ Honda :: Trouble in the Water (feat. De La Soul)
Daylaaaaaa!!! One of those back in the day reminiscing joints we all love.
[MP3] DJ Krush :: Zen Approach (feat. Black Thought)
Nice minimalist beats with seething flows from your favorite Roots MC.
[MP3] Nujabes :: Battle Cry (feat. Shing02)
If you've seen Samurai Champloo, you know this as the title song. I like the somewhat off-kilter flows and beats on this one, Nujabes and Shing02 definitely stand out on this one.
[MP3] Cibo Matto :: Sci-fi Wasabi
This grandiose banger with blaring horns is produced by Japanese American Dan the Automator, and features Miho Hattori and Yuka Honda of Cibo Matto. While they're typically singing about food, this time around they're rockin' the mic and damn can they represent with some spacey rhymes.

|bruce banner|

I'm always glad when I inspire another. Shoyu the way like Kikkoman. You're welcome Banner. Another goodie I picked up on my last trip is a couple of albums by DJ Tonk. To me, he's the Hi-Tek of Japan. I wish he could get Tip and Phife to do a couple of tracks with him. Black Star too.

[MP3] DJ Tonk feat. Pismo :: My Underground Life
[MP3] DJ Tonk :: Fly By Moonlight
And this is just an instrumental!
[MP3] DJ Tonk feat. Due Process :: All Come Back
[MP3] DJ Tonk feat. Finsta :: Bushwicked
Homeboy on the mic sounds like Pharoahe

Rising Son.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Techno-geekery? Please advise.

NY was amazing. Brooklyn was electric. And I managed to cop the Delicious Vinyl re-issue of Pharcyde’s Bizarre Ride in BLUE and YELLOW vinyl! Oh yeeeah. Colored vinyl = ingenious. They should press colored vinyl more often. It makes spinning more exciting. Like tasting the rainbow. Music becomes a veritable manifestation of a Skittles commercial. But I digress…

My vinyl-holism continues to put a dent in my wallet, which always causes me to wonder if I should drop my well-earned paper on the techno-beast known as Serato instead. The topic always lingers in my drunken conversations with other music nerds. To Serato or not to Serato – that is the question. Or maybe the question is – does anyone NOT have Serato these days??

The bottom line is that Serato is a useful tool for DJ’s (I’m talking strictly spinning here, not production). A DJ’s job is to party-rock – simple as that – and it’s obvious that the more music you have, the wider selection you have to do your thang.

But… BUT (yeah, I know you were expecting a “but”), it’s wack when people are impressed just cuz a DJ spins with vinyl, since it’s such an anomaly these days. I remember seeing a flyer for a party where the DJ was only going to spin with vinyl all night, and peeps were like, “That’s tight! We have to check it out!” I’m not one to cling to Golden Era sentimentality, but there’s something more meaningful about the mix when you know that the DJ has spent hours diggin for the song being played, instead of putting together some contrived playlist. I think spinning with vinyl also gets DJs to be creative when mixing songs and introduce people’s ears to artists that might not be on their radar, instead of playing what everyone expects to hear.

So whaddya think?

Don’t even have an iPod to speak of.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


That was a trip for the ages! One of the best times I have ever had. Shout out to the J-crew for making it happen.

I'm gonna keep this real brief, since I'm trying to get over jet-lag and it's time for bed. Everyone knows and loves Samurai Champloo, if you haven't heard, it's a great Japanese anime series from the director of Cowboy Bebop that mixes hip-hop and other modern day themes with the ol' skool tale of the travelling samurai. I'm not really an anime-head, but I could get with this. The music is tight as well.

For those who love the soundtrack as well, the producer behind it all is Nujabes. One of my favorite J-albums of all time is his debut Metaphorical Music. If you like him, be sure to peep ShingO2 work as well...he's got vinyl here in the States available.

[MP3] Nujabes feat. Substantial & Pase Rock from Five Deez :: Blessing It (Remix)
[MP3] Nujabes feat. Cise Starr :: Highs 2 Lows
[MP3] Nujabes :: Summer Gypsy

I wish I had my own beatboxer.