Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thursday Throwback: Pete Rock & Nas

Since the news that Pete Rock and Nas are working together again dropped earlier this week, I've had this joint in my head somethin' heavy. If you don't already know, get familiar with one of the greatest songs (rap or otherwise) of all time:

"The World Is Yours" off the classic, Illmatic.

Bonus: While Nas is getting back together, everyone cross your fingers that he'll hit up Q-Tip for another track as well. Off the same album, "One Love" is another classic:

Monday, May 11, 2009

Music for a Monday: Maker

Just a one-hitter this evening, folks, courtesy of Grandgood. I've already sung his praises back when I put together my RZAless Wu-Tang production dream team mixtape and since Chi-Town Hip-Hop's been on my mind all day, here's Maker's remix of the instant Southern classic, "International Player's Anthem" by UGK.

UGK feat. Outkast - International Player's Anthem

Friday, May 8, 2009

Cursed Records: Walls Don't Exist

Everyone's got their break-up songs. Those joints that you sit in a dark room with, playing over and over while you drink and/or sob for hours at a stretch. To a certain extent those sessions are cathartic and kind of necessary to get over whatever mess brought you to that point in the first place. Then, there's what Kieron Gillen referred in the second issue of his music-as-magic mini-series Phonogram: The Singles Club (the follow-up to excellent Phonogram: Rue Britannia, with Jamie McKelvie on the artwork) as cursed songs:

"A curse record is the opposite. A curse song will, in a real way, open old wounds, tearing the stitches you're trying to make hold. A curse song should be avoided at all costs. I have friends who, suffering through the virulent stages of the curse, abandon entire bands or even genres of music due to the associated poison."

The concept is one that I'd never really thought of before. Never really thought that there was a difference between the standard break-up joint and its more toxic cousin, I just avoided them both outright because both were immediately unpleasant to deal with, even if one was supposed to be healthy. After reading the story "Wine And Bed And More And Again" in which a character is "cursed" by a song, I instantly knew that I didn't just have a curse song, I have a whole album. So what'd I do? I went and dug it up.

Walls Don't Exist is a beautifully put together instrumental album by Afrobeat and Hip Hop artist, Wale Oyejide, recorded under the moniker of Science Fiction. It follows a narrative of 'boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-gets-better', and while that certainly sounds like fodder the former, I suppose my reaction to it as a whole really brings into sharp focus just how personal the latter is.

The whole album is admittedly a pretty painful experience for me, but I regularly recommend it to people as example of just how beautiful and powerful a musical form Hip Hop can be. I guess this is just another, less positive facet of that power showing itself.

I'll share the joints that hit me the hardest, from the 'boy-meets' and 'boy-looses' sections respectively, and as always I recommend picking it up if you can find it(from what I understand, it's out of print, so if people ask nice I might post it up). Just don't ask me to listen to it with you:

Science Fiction - This Is Where I Landed When I Fell For You

Science Fiction - Losing You Is What Drowning Feels Like

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thursday Throwback: Back Again

Not too many words, kids. I been gone, and I'm tryin' like hell to get back. While I crawl my way back up to full speed, have a Throwback from Tribe, just 'cause's Tribe, damnit.

Electric Relaxation from Midnight Marauders

Friday, April 10, 2009

"...Heaven sent, heavenly scent that later crippled me..."

I've only really gotten really personal with this blog once, at the beginning when I spoke on President Obama's victory back in November. That's because I wanted to keep this place as a space about what interested me, and things that I thought people would want to get put up on, particularly with the music.

Lately, though, I hadn't been listening to too much on my own, just for personal enjoyment and I thought it was because I just wasn't finding a lot worth listening to, but a conversation with a good friend of mine made me see things differently. Considering how much inspiration I get from music in writing, I started to realize that I'd been avoiding getting too deeply consumed with listening to music because I was afraid of what it would bring out of me.

I've been writing a lot of poetry lately, some of it for RPG supplemental material but a fair amount for myself as well, and music has played a large role in the output. In the past few weeks Blu and Exile have caused me to, for better or worse, reexamine some parts of my life that I thought I'd left well behind. Rather than blather on about the specifics, I'll let the tunes and the poems speak for themselves.

I do not want her to smile for only me.
A smile is the soul’s searchlight.
A beacon for the weary
To find a moment’s assuredness
In the middle of stormy seas
Or simply a confirmation
During a seemingly solitary journey
That a traveler is not alone.
Her smile is not mine to own.
It is a mobius strip of radiance
Where the beauty she gives the world
And the beauty the world gives to her coalesce.
It is impossible for a mortal
To hold such a phenomenon in his hands,
And only an evil man would try.
I would only hope,
That when she smiles
Whatever she holds from me,
In her heart
Is part of what’s shining out.

Exile - Love Line

And all other associated parts
Spread out in front of me
In thin slices
On a platter of silver.
One by one,
I take each piece
Into my mouth
Letting each one settle
And melt across my tongue
Before moving on
To the next.
The textures vary
From piece to piece.
Some are buttery
And smooth like silk
As they dissipate.
Others require
Great gnashing
Of teeth and jaw
To process.
All in an effort
To bring together
These parts
One final time.
For when the stomach’s work
Is done
And they are all gone
There will be nothing left
But sleep
And dreams
Of the repast’s
More humble origins.

Blu - Amnesia

Bonus: Courtesy of Fresh Selects Blu coasts over the instrumental for "Love Line" and leaves me fiendin' for a follow up to Below The Heavens.

Blu vs. Exile - LoveLine(s),DedicatedToLastFe’vrier

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Thursday Throwback: I'm Still Livin'

But apparently this blog isn't. Even with almost none of my fanbase (aka: People that know a friend of mine and got badgered into following) left, I'm gonna try and get this thing back on its feet. What better way to do it than highlight some dopeness from one of the people who made me start this thing in the first place. Jim Mahfood's one of my favorite artist and writers, so I was honored to meet him at Wondercon a few years back. We talked about music, since I was always a big fan of how he integrated it into his work, Hip Hop in particular. Just before I broke out, I told him I'd send him the info for a blog based on my old radio show as soon as I'd gotten my shit together and put it together. After I got about a week's worth of posts in the bank I dropped a line to him, and he hit me back with a thank you. I'm still not sure how much of this spot he's actually read, but after getting the notification that he'd joined my woefully neglected Twitter feed I couldn't help but have the same feeling I did that afternoon at the 'Con: Jim Mahfood's a cool motherfucker.

In honor of the aforementioned fothermucker, and seeing as how it's Thursday, I'm posting up one of Mahfood's mixtapes, liberated at his man Plex Lowery's blog. It's a dope mix of old-school Hip Hop and funk joints that is just right for chilling at the crib, or riding around with on a lazy afternoon.

Click here to read up on the tape and listen to the stream.

Edit: Here's a Mediafire link to the mix, and the tape cover. Food One Mix CD Vol. 1

Also, Jim, if you're reading this, thanks for the convo and the sketch. Really made my day.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Throwback Thursday - Funky Drummer Edition

In honor of James Brown being featured in this week's Rock Band DLC, I thought I'd pay tribute to one of his more notable contributions to Hip Hop, the Funky Drummer break. From the song of the same name, James and Clyde Stubblefield made so much music period possible (Depeche Mode, Sinead O'Connor and NIN have all used the break), but it'd be hard to imagine Hip Hop without those drums.

Run D.M.C. - Beats to the Rhyme

Eric B & Rakim - Paid In Full

Beastie Boys - Shadrach

Public Enemy - Rebel Without A Pause (Live, with a great intro)

LL Cool J - Boomin' System


Steinski - The Lesson 2 (James Brown Mix)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Illogic's Diabolical Fun Dropping Next Week

Just in case you'd forgotten, here's another joint to remind you of Illogic's upcoming album Diabolical Fun, his fourth album, entirely produced by Ill Poetic.

Illogic - I Know You

Cop it from Weightless Recordings and get a separate CD of instrumentals from the album. Between this, Sign Language and the $7.99 price point for both, Weightless is holding you down with good music.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Music For a Monday (the late pass edition) - HerFavoriteColo(u)r.

Blu's a friggin' workhorse as far as dropping new material for the fans is concerned, but since he does it via his MySpace page I tend to miss it until it pops up on one of the more reputable Hip Hop blogs. Such was the case for his Valentine's Day drop this year, the entirely self-produced HerFavoriteColo(u)r.. Not really a mixtape, but not album, it's more like a mood music piece on love and relationships. It's a good 'un, and all the sudden makes me wanna hear him spit over Blueprint's production. Hmmm, maybe I should make a suggestion or two.

HerFavoriteColo(u)r from Blu

Bonus: Here's one of the songs he dropped last V-Day, "NeverAgain"

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Since I'm Still Alive, Have Some New Music

I'm getting adjusted to the new gig, but the blog has suffered. Don't worry though, I'll never leave What's Good behind, and as proof I give you some new music. Brought to my attention by a Twitter post from Count Bass D, the title track from Abstract Rude's upcoming Rhymesayers album, Rejuvenation:

Abstract Rude - Rejuvenation

Look out for it in on May 5th, or pre-order it from Rhymesayers' official store Fifth Element for a reduced price.

Bonus: Since the album's entirely produced by Seattle's own Vitamin D, thought I'd hit you off with one of my favorite productions of his, "The Writz" off of Gift of Gab's Fourth Dimensional Rocketships Going Up

Sunday, March 8, 2009

My Thoughts on Watchmen or What Kind of Fan Are You?

So Watchmen, if you're a fan of genre films is a definite must see. It is an ambitious piece of cinema that does not compromise what it wants to do for its entire running time. While it's not perfect, in terms of its recreation of the book there are some deviations, and there are flaws (the tone of the film jumps around a bit, and I still haven't decided if it worked for me) but it's a better viewing experience for it. It's one of the first, if not the first comic book adaptations that works because less because of slavish devotion to what's on the page (but to be clear, it's pretty damned tight to the page) and more because of another quality that it shares with the original book: it invites discussion. Within five minutes after leaving the theater, the friends I watched it with were already talking about the purpose behind the level of gore and the way the fight scenes were filmed (My take: Given the very adult themes examined, and the meta nature of the source material? All the exaggerated bits of violence are "grown-up" version of the campy onomatopoeia that was in the old Batman TV show, or in comics. It wasn't a cool way to show violence, but rather, an in film context way to remind the viewer that this is a comic book.). That barely cracks the surface of the sort of conversations we got into afterwards.

Now I said that this is a must see for genre film fans. I didn't say comic book fans, because there are two sorts of us. There's the fan that's excited at the prospect of comic book properties being treated with the respect they deserve. Then there's the sort that aren't happy with anything but complete carbon-copy translation, and even then they are prepared to hate it before they've seen one frame. In the weeks leading up to the film I heard plenty of comic book fans voice their displeasure with the film, from the fairly standard jabs at Zach Snyder's use of the speed-cranking slow-mo technique (which, while it shows up, is restrained and works for what it's there for) and the lack of a certain cephalopod. Then there was word from "fans" who had apparently gotten to see early screenings of the film, claiming that the principal cast couldn't act. Now that the movie is actually out I've heard plenty of intelligent discussion about it, both positive and negative, but there are still comic book fans who're bound and determined to hate on the flick just because it exists. These fans, even in the face of being able to discuss their fandom in an way that doesn't patronize or disrespect the material are unable to accept the idea of what is precious to them being delivered to people outside of their niche group.

Depending on what sort of comic book fan you are, you may not want to see Watchmen. As for myself, I'm glad that I saw it because even I didn't like it I would have had a lot to talk about. Regardless of where you fall in your opinion on the movie, you can't deny that a lot of care and thought went into it being made. If you're like me, I'm pretty sure you'll feel like that alone deserve at least a look. So, what kind of fan are you?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Comic Book flicks are a lot like Westerns were back in the day...

...and they're likely due for a bust, just like Westerns were. I just hope that Watchmen is more The Wild Bunch than Heaven's Gate. This is where I'll be in about three hours:

I'll give my thoughts on Sunday.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Angel of Death: Starting Monday

Remember that Ed Brubaker scripted, Zoe Bell staring web series that I spoke on a few months back? Well it's dropping March 2nd at and you'll be able to see a new episode everyday for two weeks. Not bad for free, right? Here's the trailer one mo' 'gin for you to get up to speed:

Be sure to check it out this Monday, and shouts out to Chad from Crackle for peeping the site.

New Instrumental Album from Blueprint

Blueprint and anything from Weightless Records will get crazy burn around these parts because not only did Blueprint provide me with one of the most memorable interviews I've ever done in my life, he makes dope music. His instrumental album Chamber Music was a What's Good staple back in the radio show days, so I'm excited for the recently announced follow-up:

Sold exclusively at the Weightless shop and limited to 500 copies? You know what you need to do.

Bonus: One of my favorite tracks from Chamber Music, "Bleach"

Friday, February 20, 2009

ATTN Bedroom Beatmakers: Looking for something to do this weekend?

How 'bout working on a beat that could get you free tickets to this year's Paid Dues Festival, along with a bunch of other cool swag? Warner Bros.,, and Zune are sponsoring a contest to remix "Everything" off of Murs' major label debut, Murs for President. How do you get on? Simple. Hit up Murs' website for a download of the a capella, then get to work. Once you've got your version ready to go, create a producer profile at Loud, then upload it!

Good luck, and here's the man himself performing "Everything" in Columbus, OH @ The Basement:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Throwback Thursday - From the Future to the Past

Since I posted about Atlanta's future yesterday, here's a blast from its past with the title track from Outkast's 1996 offering, ATLiens:

And even further back from their first album, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, in honor of my job interview in an hour, "Git Up, Git Git Out":

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Since the new GTA IV expansion reminded me of him...'s a B.O.B. video drop. A crime-drama video game focusing on an outlaw motorcycle club isn't the first place I'd think to hear Bobby Ray's ode to everyone's favorite audio plug-in, but Statik Selektah's in game radio show has "Autotune" in its rotation:

Here's B.O.B. on his new millennium ATLien ish, "Generation Lost" one of my favorite joints from his upcoming debut:

Friday, February 13, 2009

Mix Tapes - Wu-Tang vs. The Abbott

"It ain't to the point where the crew is breaking up, we just not fucking with The Abbott…If this album drops or we don't come to some solution, of fixing what we all need to be comfortable with and what we all feel we need to be represented with, if we don't' get that and it's just about the politics then, let it be what it be…I already feel like the [Wu-Tang minus RZA] album is gonna have to come out."

This was Raekwon back in November of 2007, a month before the release of one of the most divisive albums of the Wu-Tang Clan's career, 8 Diagrams. Moreso than the fans, it very publicly divided the Clan as Raekwon and Ghost in particular aired out grievances with the RZA about finances and more notably the creative direction of the album. While Rae and Ghost (and admittedly most fans) wanted a return to the gritty, dark production of the Clan's heyday, the RZA was pulling from the work he's done on his own with live instrumentation and more orchestral sounds. The riffs calmed down as the album got closer to release but for many, Rae's gripes were well-founded and fans such as myself wondered when that RZAless Wu-Tang album was coming.

Well it's been more than a year since Raekwon told an interviewer that Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang would be coming and we haven't heard a peep about it from anyone involved in the Clan though they've all been active since. There have been tours, Rae's been amping up the Cuban Linx 2 talk yet again (with some impressive joints leaked, to boot) and RZA's been back at work with the Afro Samurai franchise, scoring another movie as well as the game. Yet and still, there have only been non-committal references to another Wu album by various members, with or without RZA.

After playing around with the idea, and a few conversations with friends about the notion of other producers working on a Wu full length, I decided to get to work on my own idea of what it might sound like. Entitled Wu-Tang vs. The Abbott, I've selected 11 producers who have either already worked with the Clan in some capacity or whose sound I believe with compliment Shaolin's Finest:

The Probable/Likely
DJ Muggs (1. General Principal, 2. Advance Pawns)
The RZA to Cypress Hill's Wu-Tang Clan, both crews have held allegiances with one another for quite a while, dating back to RZA and U-God appearing on "Killa Hill Niggas" on 1995's III: Temples of Boom. Muggs' dark, moody production fits the Clan's style, as is evidenced on these two tracks from his collaborative effort with GZA Grandmasters.

Pete Rock (3. The PJs, 4. Strange Fruit)
Another legendary beatmaker in the mix, Pete Rock's already worked with the Wu, producing more than a couple of bangers for Ghostface's solo album, and featuring clan members on each of his solo records.

DJ Premier (5. Jeru Da Damaja - One Day, 6. Crookyln Dodgers - The Return of the Crooklyn Dodgers)
The first producer I included in this list who I was actually surprised to learn that he hasn't yet worked with the Wu. As I'm typing this up I'm still looking around for anything at all, so if you find it, please drop a line in the comments to correct me. Premier literally defines that gritty sound of New York's early and mid-nineties golden era, using hard break loops and samples to craft Hip Hop classics. The Wu over a Premo track could be a match in Hip Hop heaven.

Mathematics (7. Ghostface Killah - Mighty Healthy, 8. GZA - Fam (Members Only))
While the RZA handled the majority of the Clan's production in the early days, there have been a few understudies in the crew: 4th Disciple, True Master and the next producer in the mix Allah Mathematics, better known as Mathematics. The influences of the Abbott are evident, but he's carved out his own niche over the years with solo joints and his own record company Quewisha.

Bronze Nazereth (8. Masta Killa feat. Inspektah Deck & GZA - Street Corner, 9. Bronze Nazareth, Solomon Childs & Byata - Street Corners)
One-third of the group Wisemen, Bronze Nazareth was invited into Wu's group of in-house soundsmiths back in 2002, and three years later he handled the bulk of the production on the compilation album Wu-Tang Meets The Indie Culture. One of favorite joints from it, "Street Corners" appears on Masta Killa's Made In Brooklyn. I included both since Masta Killa's version features clan members and further illustrates how well they can fit into someone else's production.

Carlos "6 July" Broady (11. Ghostface Killah - We Made It, 12. Royce Da 5'9" - Street Hop)
Even though he's apart of The Hitmen (Bad Boy's production team) he's one of the more underrated producers in the game. I got familiar with his work on Royce Da 5'9"'s album Death Is Certain, and his ability to balance soulful sounds with punch-you-in-face joints would suit the clan as a whole well.

The Wishlist
Da Beatminerz (13. Tek & Steele - Tools of the Trade, 14. Heltah Skeltah - Prowl)
The sonic backbone of another iconic NYC rap crew, Boot Camp Click, Da Beatminerz have worked with many East Coast underground luminaries over the years, and considering their signature sound of hard drums and samples is synonymous with New York rap, it's not hard to imagine how a Wu-Tang/Beatminerz joint would sound.

Khrysis (15. Sean Price - King Kong, 16. Sean Price - Stop)
As a member of the North Carolina's Justus League (Little Brother's their most well-known export), his efforts were overshadowed by his fellow JL beatmaker, 9th Wonder. When 9th parted ways with Little Brother, Khrysis' star seemed to shine a little brighter with spots on several Justus League affiliated projects, including these two joints from Sean Price's Jesus Price Superstar. When one of New York's most respected lyricists refers to you as his "personal go-to guy", you know you're onto something.

Marco Polo (17. Heltah Skeltah - Insane, 18. Marquee (Instrumental))
His 2007 album Port Authority was like a love letter to those that miss that ol' New York boom-bap, and has earned the respect of spitters like O.C., Masta Ace, and Kool G. Rap. With more than a few bangers crafted for East Coast heavy hitters, he'd have no trouble cooking up something for the Wu.

Dan the Automator & Prince Paul (19. Handsome Boy Modeling School - Waterworld feat. Encore, 20. Handsome Boy Modeling School - The Truth feat. J-Live & Róisín Murphy)
Both are incredible producers in their own right, collaborating with damn near the entirety of the Hip Hop community between the two of them. Their team effort, Handsome Boy Modeling School, particularly the debut album So...How's Your Girl? produced some of the murkiest, dustiest and atmospheric tracks they'd put out to that point. Most tracks were co-produced, but these two were solo joints, Automator on the former and Paul on the latter.

Maker (21. The Beginning, 22. Broken Wing feat. Qwel, 23. World of Shadows feat. Thawfor)
The most unlikely out of all of these, simply because of the producer's visibility and connection to the Clan in comparison to the other folks in the mix. I got put on to Maker when I was in college with his production for the group Glue, and as a member of the three man DJ squad The Comeups (Side Note: At the time they hadn't decided on a solid name, so they went through a few. When I first went to a party they DJ'd they were going by The Lou Ferrigno Experience). I was regularly blown away by his soulful and atmospheric production. His use of dusty samples and solid drums to make dark soundscapes would fit the Wu like a glove, IMHO.

Bonus: I can't believe I didn't mention this before, but I snuck a gem onto the end of the mix, "State of Grace" by Raekwon, produced by none other than the RZA. One of the first tracks to leak from Only Built For Cuban Linx 2, it's proof positive that RZA still has it in him to do the sort of record that Wu fans are looking for. It's precisely the sort of thing I thought of whenever talk of OBFCL2 was bandied about, and represents that there's still hope, however slight for the RZA and the rest of the Wu to hash out their creative differences and make a dope album again.

D/L: Wu-Tang vs. The Abbott

Hope you enjoy it, and let me know who YOU think should be included if Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang ever sees the light of day.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Throwback Thursday: Wu-Tang vs. The Abbott

The full post for Wu-Tang vs. The Abbott has been postponed until tomorrow due to technical difficulties, but I didn't want to leave y'all with nothing, so I thought I'd devote a video drop to the whole concept of a Wu-Tang album without RZA behind the boards. On the mixtape itself I'll feature joints by producers that've already worked with the Wu, producers who aren't too far removed from working with the Wu, and producers who I wish the Wu would take notice of. This edition of the Throwback is dedicated to the first, producers already in the Wu's wheelhouse.

"Mighty Healthy" produced by Mathematics on Ghostface's Supreme Clientele

"General Principles" produced by DJ Muggs on his collaborative effort with GZA Grandmasters.

"American Cream Team Line Up" produced by DJ Scratch on Funkmaster Flex's The Mix Tape Volume III - 60 Minutes of Funk

Tomorrow: Wu-Tang vs. The Abbott


I promise.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Links Before the Storm

One more day of easy content before I drop a gem...

The end times are drawing close. Dr. Dre's Detox is dropping this year (supposedly), Rae's Cuban Linx 2 is dropping this year (supposedly) and Tarantino's finally bringing out Inglourious Basterds. Peep it at Yahoo! Movies in HD.

The A-Number One rare Hip Hop archiving site, T.R.O.Y just posted up an essay on Public Enemy's classic "Night of the Living Baseheads" that you can read here.

Magnolia's genre films wing Magnet (who released the amazing Let The Right One In last year) will be bringing Ong-Bak 2 to the U.S, according to 24fps.

Keep it locked to What's Good folks, Wu-Tang vs. The Abbott coming tomorrow...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Busy Day, So Have a Dilla Drop

Out and about, so instead of proper content, we're going to continue to pay tribute to one of the best to ever do it, J. Dilla.

Won't Do from The Shining

Nothing Like This from Ruff Draft

Detroit Loves Dilla

Monday, February 9, 2009

Music for a Monday - The Oncoming Grind

Determination's the name of the game today, kids. With a very promising job opportunity on the horizon I'm keeping my head high and devoting today to the work that will someday enable me to not have to work for someone else. Here are a few tunes that're keeping me motivated. If you need a little push, here's hoping they'll assist.

Mos Def - Sunshine

Glue - Haunt

Q-Tip - Official

Cage - Good Morning*

Errol Garner - Stardust*

*Opening and closing themes, respectively. Hopefully that'll make sense some day.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dilla

Today would've been the 35th birthday of one of the greatest Hip Hop producers of our generation, James Dewitt Yancy. If you know anything at all about his legacy beyond being a master beatmaker, you probably know about the mess that his estate has been in following his death. Vibe magazine recently published an article about the trouble that his mother and family have had attempting to straighten things out. Artist and clothing designer Parra has collaborated with Stones Throw Records (label home of Dilla for his swansong Donuts) for a t-shirt, with its proceeds going to Dilla's mother, as she's currently battling the same disease that took her son's life.

Click the shirt for more info on it, and where to go cop it either online or at a shop near you. Below, I've included some of my favorite joints that Dilla's touched us with since his passing. Bump these, and any of your other favorite Dilla gems to honor him today.

Busta Rhymes feat. Q-Tip - Can't Hold The Torch

J-Dilla feat. Blu - Sun On My Face

Q-Tip - Move

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Throwback Thursday - The Thin Purple Line Edition

Since I gave you the soundtrack to my Feng Shui game, I'll bless you with a few of the videos for songs that didn't make the final cut.

From The 7 Day Theory (Amazon|iTunes), "To Live & Die in L.A" was going to serve as the "acceptable losses" ending if the players hadn't achieved the happy ending that they did.

Apocalypse Now by way of Menace II Society was a good way to describe the tone I was going for with the tone of hood warfare in the game. "Illusions" was perfect in certain scenes, but didn't make the final tracklist just 'cause of space issues. (Amazon|iTunes)

Another joint that personified how the neighborhood where the game's climax took place was otherworldly in its despair, "Cold World" by GZA from Liquid Swords. (Amazon|iTunes)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Game Night - The Thin Purple Line

I've dropped one RPG related music mix on you before, and since I do these pretty regularly I figure I'll keep 'em coming with a new series of posts called Game Night. This next one's pretty timely, as it's the soundtrack I put together for my gaming group after finishing up our Feng Shui game. Naw, we weren't arranging furniture or nothin' like that, it's an RPG based on Action Flicks, Asian ones in particular. Joints like Hard Boiled, Once Upon A Time In China, and Fist of Legend are among the scores of source material that's used for the basic setting. On top of the basic idea of the game taking place in an action movie universe, it also takes place in a few different time periods, with the main time period being 1996. Pretty crucial time period to the setting, because of England losing its lease on Hong Kong in the following year. Most people running the game tend to at least start in Hong Kong, if not do their entire runs there, but I decided to do this one a little differently and start the show in 1996 L.A. That gave me the chance to pull in a lot of cool plot elements and pull from real life. I make reference to the Tupac and Biggie murders, the aftermath of the L.A. Riots, the Rampart Division scandal and a lot of other stuff. We're pretty grown up when we play pretend over here. To cut to the chase, putting together the soundtrack for each Saturday evening was a pleasant trip back in time, and I tried to capture the feel of the whole game when I put the final list together:

1. A Tribe Called Quest feat. Consequence - Jam (Remix) - The game opener took place at the opening of a nightclub, and the remix of this record from Beats, Rhymes & Life fit the bill to kick things off. (Amazon|iTunes).
2. Elastica - Line Up - Solid piece of traveling/background music from the self-titled album of one of my favorite Britpop bands of the time. (Elastica|iTunes)
3. Cardigans - Lovefool - This song was dumb huge back then, and you're lying if you didn't get it stuck in your head at least once. In our game, one of the players was chased out of an Italian restaurant by the kitchen staff while this played in the background. Mind drilling qualities of that single aside, First Band on the Moon was a solid album. (Amazon|iTunes)
4. The Toadies - I Come From the Water - Most people know these guys from the song "Possum Kingdom" but the whole of Rubberneck a good record, and made for fine fight music in the game. (Amazon|iTunes)
5. Ghostface Killah - Daytona 500 - I finally got to realize my dream of setting a car chase to this song. I upped the ante by setting this chase on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. If you don't have Ironman, you're not a proper Ghostface fan. (Amazon|iTunes
6. Deftones - Teething - The Deftones were lumped in with bands like Korn and other nu-metal acts, but the difference with Deftones is that I actually like them. This song from the soundtrack to The Crow: City of Angels made for good music to commit violence by. (Amazon)
7. Tricky - Hell Is 'Round The Corner - When I was introducing the players to a South Central L.A. neighborhood that wasn't too far removed from a war zone, I wanted a less than obvious choice. Tricky's take on his Bristol neighborhood worked for me. From Maxinquaye. (Amazon|iTunes)
8. Xzibit - At The Speed of Life - Background music for group's time in South Central, from one of my favorite albums by Mr. X to the Z. (Amazon)
9. Ice Cube - Really Doe - More South Central background music, from Lethal Injection. (Amazon|iTunes)
10. DJ Shadow - What Does Your Soul Look Like, Pt. 1 - With time travel being a major theme of Feng Shui, there's a place that exists in between all the time periods called the The Netherworld. This song from DJ Shadow's groundbreaking Endtroducing... introduced my players to it. (Amazon|iTunes)
11. Bishop Lamont feat. Black Milk, Guilty Simpson, Busta Rhymes - Mouth Music - From the sublime to the base, one of the group's first spots to hit up in the Netherworld was a strip club. This was on the house speakers as they arrived. From Bishop Lamont and Black Milk's collaboration, Caltroit that you can download for free from DubCNN.
12. M.I.A. - Paper Planes - Before this song blew the 'eff up (after being out for quite a while already) I'd had it in mind to use for my game. By the time the group got to meet the character it was attached to, an African child soldier turned arms dealer, they got familiar with it in a different context. From M.I.A.'s album Kala (Amazon|iTunes)
13. DJ Krush - OCE 9504 - Given the strange and mysterious nature of the Netherworld, many of Meiso's tracks made perfect background music(Amazon).
14. Goodie Mob - Soul Food - Back in the real world, our players were tasked with protecting a Community Center in the war-torn neighborhood I introduced with Tricky earlier. Given that I took a lot of the personalities from that were running it from my younger days in the South, I felt it was more than appropriate to use this Goodie Mob classic. This song also came in handy during the group's trip to Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles. (Amazon|iTunes)
15. Raekwon - Verbal Intercourse - One of the characters was a cop, and I chose this to be the first bit of background music the players heard as he entered the precinct. Something about this joint from Only Built 4 Cuban Linx always sounded like it could've been right at home in a 70s cop show, dunno why. (Amazon)
16. De La Soul - Stakes Is High - Once things started to edge closer to the climax, the music reflect the dire turns the plot was taking. The title track off of De La's '96 album fit the game's themes like a glove. (Amazon)
17. Outkast - Mainstream - Along with Stakes Is High, plenty of stuff from Atliens fit the tone of the game in its late stages, this song in particular. (Amazon|iTunes)
18. Blu & Exile - So(ul) Amazing (Steel Blazin') - And here's the closer. Considering that the gang brought a bit of a brighter future to L.A., I thought that a song from one of the West's brighter spots in music nowadays would be appropriate. From the modern day classic Below the Heavens. (Amazon|iTunes)
19. Blu - CityOfLos(t)Angel(e)s f. Co$$ - The alternate ending, for the results they could have achieved. Less hopeful, more focused on the rough patches of L.A. From Blu's MySpace that he liberated a while back.

Here's the mix, which gets its title from the name of the game, which I took from a documentary called The Thin Blue Line. Google it if you don't already know, as it's late and this took a lot longer than I was anticipating:
Feng Shui - The Thin Purple Line

Bonus: I was going to actually include this remix of Paper Planes with verses from Bun B and Rich Boy in the soundtrack, but it wouldn't fit on CD with the rest of the sountrack. My players' loss is the internet's gain.

M.I.A. feat. Bun B and Rich Boy - Paper Planes(Remix)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Music for a Monday - Blaps, Rhymes and Life Vol. II

I linked to the first one earlier this this month, so it's only right I post up the second one during its release. Featuring a slew of MCs all over Illmind's production, this'll certainly make for a good addition to your ride's CD changer if you've had your fill of volume one.

Download - Illmind - Blaps, Rhymes & Life Vol. II

Saturday, January 31, 2009

For The Kids - Hip Hop for Youngins

I was lucky as a little kid as far as my introduction to Hip Hop goes. Living in Chattanooga, TN we weren't exactly in a mecca for heads, but my older cousins always kept a lot of good stuff around me. Even though I didn't become a full fledged devotee of that ol' boom bap until my teenaged years, I got an ample earful of Doug E. Fresh, Biz Markee and Slick Rick as a child (and 2 Live Crew, don't tell my mom), cruising around with them when they'd have me. I always told myself if I had the chance to play the big brother role, I'd try to introduce the little brats to quality Hip Hop. I've been lucky enough to have younger cousins I could pass music onto, and more recently I put together a mix of tunes for a dear friend so her young son could get a taste of decent Hip Hop early. I mixed old with a little new, and basically tried to keep in mind what sort of stuff I would've liked listening to as a little kid. Since it's actually for a little kid, I did a few radio edits here and there, some for words (but not many, 'cause y'know, I kept mindful) and others for space and less obvious reasons (the static and jargon at the end of DJ Shadow's "Changeling" probably would've freaked me out a little bit).

I didn't put them in any kind of order so play them however you'd like, though if you're making a tape for a kid, I recommend Blackalicious' "Sleep" as the closer. It's a fine lullaby.

For The Kids - Hip Hop For Youngins

Bonus: Here's the Exile joint that I actually got the title of the post from.
Exile - For the Kids

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Throwback Thursday - More Shine Edition

Yesterday I dropped some Count Bass D tour dates on y'all after mentioning that he gets overlooked quite a bit when conversations of great artists in Hip Hop come up. Today for the Throwback I thought I'd hit up videos from other cats who I thought deserved more props than they were afforded, whether they're still out there doing their thing or have dropped off the face of the earth. I'll start things off with some early Count Bass:

From Begborrowsteal (Amazon | iTunes), "Down Easy"

From A Constipated Monkey (Amazon | iTunes | Reissure from Amalgam Digital w/Bonus Tracks), "I'm Kurious" by Kurious. He's also got a new single out on Amalgam that you can check out here.

His 1994 single, "Listen Up". He released a video for a new joint last year called "Listen to My Demo" that you can peep here.

This'll do for now, but there's tons more I could pull out and I just might before the night's done.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Count Bass D on Tour

One of the artists that I dig a lot but doesn't get nearly enough shine in my humble opinion is Count Bass D. I'll certainly attest to Dwight Spitz still being in my car, long after its release. He's touring right now, and he just released his upcoming dates in the Midwest at his blog, which you can peep right here. I can't make it out, but I know I've got fam in the Chicago and St. Louis areas that need good music in their lives, so don't miss him when he comes through.

Here's a video for "What I Do" from his new joint, L7 which you can purchase at iTunes at the link provided.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"I write in the night to bring truth to the light."

Putting work in on a script this evening, so I'm going to dig in the archives. I've already gone in to a small degree of how music influences me with my writing, but back when I was bright-eyed and optimistic yout' (read: three years ago), I actually started a project that was directly linked to a piece of music. J. Dilla's music touched a lot of people, and what's arguably his most inspirational work was his swansong, Donuts, a set of dusty and raw instrumentals that was released just three days before his passing. A lot of people have paid tribute to Dilla using stuff from this album as a basis, and I wanted to do the same. Trouble is I don't rhyme, make beats or any of that rot. So I decided that I was going to try and write tiny narratives for each of the tracks on the album. I didn't get very far in due to time, and tons of other factors I can't recall right now, but I always think about revisiting the idea. For now though, I'll a couple of pieces I did, starting with this micro-joint for Waves:

 I was in the middle of a sea of bodies at high tide. Undulating back and forth all in unison, the DJ so adept at robbing them of their sense of self that they ceased to be anything but the mass of humanity, crowded into the disco. Everything that each individual was before they came hung heavy in the air with each wave.

 Desires, fear, hopes, loves, hate. Even every hesitation to give in to the swell was so palpable you could taste it. You could practically pick out each as a scent, or a flush of sensation over the skin. I couldn't help be overwhelmed by it all as I stepped further into the dance hall. My heart raced at first…but gradually it kept time and became one with the drum as I let go.

This next joint I wrote to go along with "The New" features a character I created for an RPG community (don't worry, I've held off Nerd Stuff from this post, the nerdiness of this post itself notwithstanding) that I was apart of. He was a DJ and I had the idea of him being transported to some strange alternate past. I originally had the idea to have his story continue throughout the project in the songs "The Twister (Huh, What)" and "Gobstopper" respectively.

"The New" by J. Dilla

 "I'm Korean, actually…"
 Considering the lambasting that follows, perhaps that wasn't the best response to being called a "jivetime, hippie-lookin' Chinaman" but I was too dumbfounded at the time for much else. Now that I've had time to really take in my new surroundings…I'm still fairly stunned. I've been in jazz clubs before, but this place was strangely authentic. The acrid weed smoke in the air that you could cut through…and how young the crowd is. Real well dressed too, and not in that hipster, "look at this suit jacket I stole from my dad, and my hundred dollar haircut" sort of way. Genuine, real put together.

 I’m pretty sure I saw a sailor or two in the back of the crowd that eyed me with a helluva lot of malice. Everyone's restless. They're clamoring for music and I'm apparently disrupting the show. I don't know how I managed to get backstage, and I definitely don't know why the bandleader is cursing my presence as though I were a new addition to the band…oh, because the bassist has brought me into the band as a last minute replacement for the drummer. I see.

 How nice of him to stick up for me. I'm sure that when we're being beaten to sleep by navymen with chips on their shoulders about the Japanese Zero that wasted their buddies, we'll be looked upon favorably in the afterlife.

 A doddering old man begins shoving us out onto the stage hurriedly, chastising me for my "busted threads" as he fights the shakes to keep his coke-bottle lenses on his face. Until I’m out on stage with the rest of my bandmates I don't know what he's talking about, but once I'm able to see their slick suits and even slicker pomade-laden hair…I feel practically naked.

 "Lay the beat down for 'em Scratch." The bassist whispers to me from across the stage. It takes this guy knowing my name catches me so off guard that I almost don't notice what he's nodding towards. The strangest setup of decks and a mixer that I've ever seen. Every inch of it, the tables, the mixer…even the records are brass and just a little tarnished. The coffin's warn brown leather with tags from customs agencies from all over the world. Some of the countries, I couldn't even spell, let alone ever claim having been to any of them. The scent of valve and slide oil emanates from the whole rig and when I put my hands on the records they feel like taut drum skins. First time I've had butterflies about music in quite a while.

 "Here goes nothin'," and I give a few scratches, sorting out a drumbreak…the band jumps right in, somewhere between following my lead and letting me take control. Every sample I bring in is a new riff that the sax, trumpet or piano stretch out. Just the same, the bandleader yelps, shouts, scats and sings in time with my cuts. The whole room seems to move with my hands. Dancing couples seem to be locked in a loop until I change tempo or sample. Stopping when I pause, even reversing when I backspin. The sailors are getting into the act. The bass player gives me a wink when our bandleader calls back to me.

 "We gonna have to get the Ko-ree-in fitted for a suit!" Comforting as it is, I still don't know where in the world I am…but I'm not in a hurry to leave.

Who knows if I'll revisit the project in earnest, but I had fun with the few joints that I did get around to doing. I'd definitely like to think that Dilla himself would've gotten a kick out of people being moved enough by his work that they had to do something to show their appreciation, even if it wasn't directly related to music.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Trip To the Record Store - Updated

So no luck on the Little Dragon or Exile. The former wasn't in stock and the latter they just plain didn't have. Amazon's saying the latter's not out physically until next month. I did cop Q-Tip's latest, and since I couldn't put hands on Radio I got another instrumental album: The Golden Hour, by Michigan's own 14KT. Take a listen to a few joints, then purchase at your favorite local shop or online here.

14KT - Less Than Enough

14KT - Ypsilanti

Music for a Monday - "If I could I'd buy records everyday of the week..."

Off to the record store, probably going to pick up these joints:

"Radio" by Exile, click here to cop it from iTunes.

Little Dragon's self-titled debut. Click here for the iTunes link.

"The Renaissance" by Q-Tip. Cop it from Amazon, right here.

If my haul changes, I'll let you know when I return.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Night Films - The Trailer Drop

I haven't done this in a minute, mostly 'cause I haven't been feeling most film news or even wanting to watch movies lately. Shame on me, I know, but I'm gonna try to get back into the swing of it. Have some new trailers while I get back up to speed.

Coraline Web Trailer

Banlieue 13 - Ultimatum (aka District 13 - Ultimatum), the sequel to 2004's French action film Banlieue 13.

Teaser for the upcoming old-school Wuxia flick, Chasing Shadows

Red Band (for violence) trailer for Mutant Chronicles

Have a good weekend, everybody.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Throwback Thursday - By the Time I Get to Arizona

We have indeed come a long way. As of this week we have a black man in the White House, but as sure as I've had more than one person tell me "Well he's only half-black," we definitely still have quite a ways to go. Public Enemy's incindiary response to Arizona's refusal to recognize Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birth date as a holiday serves to remind me that we aren't that far from a time where Obama's presidency was unfathomable. Just because Obama's our president doesn't mean we need to lose the capacity for the type of fire that Chuck D carried in his words. The events of Tuesday were only possible through the years of effort and sacrifices by great people like the one we honored the day before.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"If I don't like it, I don't like it, that don't mean that I'm hatin'."

I was out on a drive, trying to figure out what to write about for this evening. I had a bunch things on my mind, all suitable for blogging purposes, but as often happens my stereo showed me the way. I went back and burned a copy of Little Brother's Separate But Equal mixtape they did with the Aphilliates, and came upon a track Phonte did over a Kanye beat:

Phonte - Hate

The title is apt enough, considering a snippet of an interview I happened upon earlier today, where Phonte gives his unfiltered opinion on one of the most divisive album's of last year, 808s & Heartbreak:

Now not only do I happen to share Phonte's opinion on the matter, I'm also a fan of the man's music, but I'm not going to kick around 808s anymore or crow about the awesomeness of Phonte. What I've been wondering though, is why hasn't the whole phenomenon referred to in the title from that classic Common joint cooled off? Given that less people are actually buying records nowadays, it would stand to reason that there would be a lot fewer people calling you a hater for simply speaking your mind about a record. As a fan, if you're just downloading it rather than buying it, there's no point of pride when admitting that something sucks. As an artist, these jokers aren't buying your records anyway, so aside from media training (which record labels really aren't paying for now, but that's a whole 'nother blog post), why not speak truthfully? Instead, the extent of low record sales have gotten people to co-sign some of the most awful drek and brand you a hater because you're not making the money that they are. On the artist and fan sides of the fence.

Ah well. Given the fact that more and more people are taking up Hip Hop as a trade, we'll all eventually have our own record to take up for, then maybe the hater thing will get so meta that it'll be forced into retirement for good.

As a bonus, he's the opening single from Phonte's second release with Nicolay, "Daykeeper" off of the album Leave It All Behind, where you can hear him engaging in singing sans autotune.

Foreign Exchange - Daykeeper

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Saul Williams - The Government

Since the event that sparked me to actually start this blog was the election that put our new administration into office, it'd only be right if I had something to say for today's inauguration. That's the trouble with words though, a lot of times they don't show up when you think they should. I can't really sort through everything I'm thinking to pluck out the right thing to say, so I'll just start with Saul Williams' thoughts on the day:

We have overcome.

Except those of us now in Gaza. Except those of us whom police kill. Except those of us who are suspects. Except those of us whom the church hate. Except those of us damned to taste good. Except those of us held by fate. We are meeting in the capitol. Word is, freedom will not wait.

All that once was never shall be.
All they could do won’t be done.
All we sang of is now happening.

[note to self:]
Must write
new songs
to become…

...And so it was. Through the collective imagination of the people, the force of will and human potential, and an unflinching ability to hold himself to task, Niggy Tardust was liberated. His ability to see beyond the boundaries and obstacles of 'genre', 'race', and suppression, allowed him to encompass a grace and sound that embodied the all. All that had stood against him, now stood with him. All that had claimed a lesser harmony, now craved voice and resonance. He stood with poets, painters, dancers, students, children of the night who had transformed themselves into a million bright ambassadors of morning, and proclaimed,

“We declare declaratives and deny the official. Based in the landmark of the G-spot, we have overtaken ourselves and overthrown our forefathers. Let there be light within the light and let it answer to the name of Darkness. We are forever risen from the deadly: the anti-virus and the All Stars. Granted power by forces unbeknownst to us. Made in the likeness of kindness. We offer anger to the angry and fear to the fearful. We dance at our own funerals to forsake the mourners…

…This is no time to cry! This is no time at all! Here is the moment of the overlooked and the unforeseeable. We are the elected officials of the people: poets and artists. We are the declarative statement of the inarticulate, the irreparably damaged goods of the bad meaning good. We are the government! We are the government! We are the government!”

Saul Williams - The Government

Saturday, January 17, 2009

"...a bad ass Filipino." - Little Brother

I submit to you that Illmind (of Getback and tons of other production credits) makes perfect cruising music. During a trip to Safeway, I test the following pieces of evidence:

Naturel - The Bullets

8th W1 - A Fool's Lullaby

You may sample a full mixtape of Illmind's production work here, in the "Blaps, Rhymes & Life" release from back in September. Enjoy it in your whip, on mass transit or any other travel vessel you choose.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Throwback Thursday Bonus: What They Do

Just as I hit 'Publish' on the last post, I realized I probably should've put this joint from The Legendary Roots Crew in there, as it clowned every one of the prevalent Hip Hop video cliches of the day. From 1996's Illadelph Halflife, it's "What They Do":

Throwback Thursday: Concepts

This kinda overlaps with the Rappers Are Nerds Too throwback I did last month, but some of my favorite Hip Hop videos are ones where there's more than a performance, or just the rappers running around their hood mugging at cameras.

First up, "Tru Master" off of the 1997 Pete Rock's solo debut, Soul Survivor. It features the Chocolate Boy Wonder himself along with Inspectah Deck and Kurupt as stock car racers, complete with customized vehicles (I want Deck's Wu branded ride) and driver statistics. It's like a live-action version of the "Daytona 500" clip from Ghostface, and I definitely approve:

Next up, take a trip through basic cable with your boy Reggie Noble, better known as Redman with "I'll Bee Dat" from Doc's Da Name 2000. Redman offers his skewed take on cliched video models, TV commercials and one of the most cringe/laughworthy pratfalls in Hip Hop video history.

Defari and the Likwit Crew are MMA fighters (with Tash as their besuited promoter/manager) in this clip for "Likwit Connection" from Defari's Focused Daily. Forgive the DJ Ron drops at the beginning and end, but it's the best copy of the video I could find without sketchy audio editing.

To close this up, another Xzibit appearance, where a trip to the store for his lady turns out to be more eventful than you'd think. From 40 Dayz & 40 Nightz, it's "What You See Is What You Get":