Monday, June 29, 2009
I was put onto Holly Weerd – a four man crew made up of The Dreamer, Stagolee, Tuki, and the man with one of the most cringe-worthy monikers in recent memory, Love Crusader – by my man Dam-G, who described their music as “a mix between Outkast and The Pharcyde”. That sums it up pretty well, too.
It’s always nice to hear hip hop that really is fresh and inventive, and that’s definitely a fitting description for Candy For Kleptos. Holly Weerd rap and sing their way through 24 tracks of various shapes, sizes and tempos, including a couple of Madlib bits and pieces, and even some dubstep action as they hijack Rusko’s remix of Kid Sister’s ‘Pro Nails’.
Candy For Kleptos is as easy on the wallet as it is on the ears, too – always good, especially in these recessionary times. You can cop it here for free.
If you want to hear more by Holly Weerd, check their Myspace page, and watch an interview with them below:
Friday, June 26, 2009
You see, Pos, Dave and Mase’s latest effort is the newest instalment in the Nike+ Original Run series, which has also featured releases from A-Trak, Aesop Rock, and LCD Soundsystem. According to Nike, the idea behind Original Run is to create a “unique album written specifically for runners, but its allure extends to all music fans.”
Oh well, one out of two is still a pass mark, innit? I might not be a runner, but at least I can understand the second half of the equation.
Are You In? (Get it? R-U-N? Running?! Groan...) dropped a month and a bit back as an iTunes exclusive. I, however, haven’t been able to download it until a few days back thanks to my faltering iTunes account (or more likely my capacity-challenged laptop). This has resulted in a slightly drawn out war of kindness with Apple’s U.S. support team, who went a little O.T.T. by telling me that I was “a valuable part of the iTunes family” and that “nothing makes Apple happier than to hear that we have pleased our customers” – true story.
Anyway, with the download now safely navigated, I’m pleased to report it wasn’t all in vain. There’s a handful of solid cuts on this continuously mixed 45 minute album that have helped numb the uneasy feeling of being inducted into the Cult of Apple. While I can take or leave some of the more up-tempo ‘work out’ cuts in the middle of the album, tracks like the Detroit-esque ‘Mornin’ Rise’ with Raheem DeVaughn (complete with some slick squelchy synths), the spacey, laid back album closer Forever, or the off-beat ‘Big Mouf’ (download) are allllll good.
Charlie Dark – a bit of a runner himself, so it seems – recently pulled together an short interview with the boys for GrindTV.com, talking to the trio on a roof top in London (with all involved seemingly sporting box fresh Nikes of various descriptions, of course). During the interview, De La drop knowledge on why they teamed up with Nike again (following on from the successful collabo on the De La Dunk), and get all inspirational by dicussing how they don’t really run much themselves.
You can even witness Mase (about as likely to be mistaken for a runner as I am) offering his thoughts on the project, declaring that he “always felt like [De La] made healthy music, so if it coincide with doing something healthy, you know, it definitely connected pretty well.”
Unfortunately, downloading an album designed to inspire exercise isn’t going to cure you of those love handles over night, but Are You In? does do a nice job of filling the gap while De La get back to work on their long-promised new album You’re Welcome.
You can watch the GrindTV.Com interview below:
You can also check De La talking a little more about Are You In?:
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
It’s been 40 years since Buzz Aldrin followed Neil Armstrong onto the moon (or a television studio somewhere in California, for all you conspiracy theorists out there). To mark the anniversary of this giant leap for man kind, it seems only right for Buzz to hit studio to cut a record that combines his two passions: “space exploration and hip hop.”
Under the guidance of Snoop Dogg and Talib Kweli, Buzz’s musical career is set to blast off with the release of ‘Rocket Experience’ (sorry…), an interplanetary ditty that sees the 79 year old budding M.C. drop ‘rhymes’ like:
“I’ll tell a story on my time on the moon now/
The sky was black even though the sun shine down/
Moon walking’s such a trip, it’s so fine/
When you’re walking in the lunar dust.”
Watch out now! The ‘making of’ video features appearances from Snoop and Kweli, and the one and only Quincy Jones, who claims that he always knew Buzz had rhythm.
Quincy says: “I saw the first moonwalk, and when we saw the guys get off the space ship with the lack of gravity and everything else...and all the other [astronauts] were cool, but one, Buzz, my man Buzz, the brother had a great groove going on… he had this little step going, and he was so cool.”
Speaking of beef, Buzz also squashes the controversial Earthwalkers vs. Moonwalkers debate – a disagreement that Kweli says is far more heated than any East vs. West skirmishes in the Hip Hop world – declaring “I don’t have any beef with the Earthwalkers.” He also takes Jay-Z’s side in proclaiming the death of autotune, stating that it's “no good – it’s all played out! I don’t want anything to do with that.”
Nice to see that Buzz is down with the hip hop generation, and that he, Snoop, Kweli, Quincy and company have a good sense of humour. If you’re blown away by Buzz’s lyrical skills (enough with the space shuttle puns, already) you can download ‘Rocket Experience’ on I-Tunes, with a portion of the proceeds going to the SpaceShare Foundation.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
As the name suggests, there are a billion guests involved, featuring all the big names that regularly pop up on hip hop releases (Peter, Bjorn & John, anyone?) and a bunch of new names like Tu Phace (who proves that with creative spelling, it’s possible to re-use M.C. names over and over again).
Some nice cuts on here - I'm feeling the 9th stuff, plus Ronson's 'Um Ricka'. Check it here:
Download up here, track list down there
1. Wordplay (feat. Currensy & Tre)
2. Cypha (feat. Young Chris, Freeway and Beenie Siegel)
3. Chillin (Catch vs. 9th) (feat. Lady Gaga)
4. Tito Santana (feat. Joe Budden)
5. 5 Minutes (feat. Skyzoo)
6. Life’s A Bitch (feat. Talib Kweli & Joell Ortiz)
7. Nightlife (feat. Young Chris & Dre)
8. Sweatin Out Weaves (feat. UCB)
9. Hot Shyt (feat. Peedi Peedi, Blackthought, Tu Phace & Young Chris)
10. Wonder Why (feat. Big Sean, Ken Starr & Mike Posner)
11. Pot Of Gold (feat. Daniel Merriweather)
12. Sharp (feat. Torae & Kingpin)
13. Warwick Avenue (feat. Duffy)
14. The Sun (Feat. Memphis Bleek)
15. Rather Be ( J Cole & Currensy)
16. Goodbye (feat. Jean Grae)
17. Say It Again (feat. Royce Da 5’ 9”)
18. Talkin Shyt (feat. Bun B & Dre)
19. Nothing To Worry About (feat. Peter, Bjorn & John)
20. Rhyme N Reason (feat. Tre)
21. Um Ricka (feat. K’Naan)
22. New Soul (feat. Yael Naim)
Mikki is a hip hop all rounder in the true sense of the word, never short of a few verses to pepper his mixes with.
Sweet Sounz 9 sees the party-rocking D.J. and M.C. – A.K.A. Edmund Skillary – dish up a mix that takes in the best of hip hop, dancehall, funk and soul, including an exclusive dub plate version of Mega Banton’s ‘Soundboy Killing Remix’, smooth hip hop from Statik Selektah, and up front tunes from his homeland of New Zealand (Opensouls, Flowz, Fat Freddy’s Drop), and his adopted base of Ireland (Rira).
Hell, it’s worth the download just to hear Mikki croon his way through the opening bars of the intro, before dropping some of the witty rhymes that have become a staple of Sweet Sounz.
You can down load the mix, and check the track listing below:
2. Statik Selektah (feat. Styles P & Talib Kweli) – The Thrill Is Gone
3. Mega Banton – Soundboy Killing Remix (Dubplate)
4. Anthony B – Give Thanks A Life
5. Flowz (feat. T.C.) – One Step Away
6. Opensouls (feat. Ladi 6) – Sweetlove
7. Rira – Follow
8. Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – Mars
9. YesKing (feat. Kenny Knotts, Baby Chain & Mystro) – Champion Sound
10. Mos Def – Casa Bey
11. Nightmares On Wax – Da Feelin
12. Mayer Hawthorne – Maybe So, Maybe No
13. Gramatik – Bring It Fast
14. Roy Ayers Ubiquity – One Sweet Love To Remember
15. Neighbour – Whirlybird
16. Breakthrough - Fat Freddy’s Drop
Monday, June 22, 2009
The clip shows a very young and very tired looking Tribe, interviewed after finishing the video shoot for ‘Bonita Applebum’. They manage to stay awake long enough (just) to chew the fat on all things Tribe and Native Tongue related, though:
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Speaking on the rationale behind switching touring for television, Questo tells Jambase's Jim Welte: "I said, 'This is probably the ideal situation. We can make the same amount of money, stay at home and be with our families and tour on the weekends.'"
Doesn't seem like it's quite worked out that way though; Questlove continues: "This is the most work I've ever done in my life. I get less sleep during Fallon than I ever did when we were on the road all the time."
Ah well... at least The Roots still find the time to fit in the odd gig here and there. They've even almost managed to lock down a new album, How I Got Over, which Quest says will feature a cover of the Gary Bartz's epic 'Celestial Blues' (complete with an appearance by Andy Bey, the tune's original singer).
There's also collaborations with Pharoahe Monch, Blu, Phonte from Little Brother, Chrisette Michelle, Beanie Sigel, and the return of Cody ChesnuTT, who will join the band to give his song 'Serve This Royalty' the same treatment they gave the 'The Seed' back in 2002.
Questlove tells Jambase that How I Got Over is "an album that deals with angels and demons. And man's inner struggle to do good and the temptation to do bad, which is easier than taking the scenic route to good. It would have been very easy to do the celebratory 'It's a new day' kind of thing. This is the light at the end of the tunnel record but there's this sort of gasping for air."
Angels and demons eh? Sounds deep. You can read the full article here.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Well, if you’ve visited this page in the last week you’ll know the option I picked.
But fear not, after a week of inactivity I’m back with raised cholesterol levels, a bad case of sun burn and a new addition to the growing arsenal of regular GOMWB features – Under the Radar*.
I’m going to use Under the Radar to pick out quality cuts that didn’t really seem to catch on when they dropped – whether that was 10 months or 10 years ago – or to talk about songs that I might have missed.
So if you are already up on it, feel free to chastise me for slipping.
First up is a nice wee DJ Premier-produced banger from Brooklyn MC Torae, entitled ‘Click’. Now, I don’t really know a whole lot about Torae, but from listening to his rhymes, it sounds like he’s done the rounds for a while, name dropping a whole bunch of labels that he’s flirted with in the past.
I first encountered him after stumbling over another Premier produced track named ‘Get It Done’. This little gem surfaced on Corner Store Classic (which you can still download here), a 2007 mix tape from Torae’s running mate and fellow NYC resident Skyzoo.
Recently, while whiling away an uneventful afternoon digging through hip hop videos on YouTube, I re-discovered ‘Get It Done’, which still sounds fresh, but it was the next video (well, more like a covert way of file sharing, rather than a video) that really caught my attention.
Enter ‘Click’, another golden Torae/Skyzoo collaboration with Premier at the helm.
Combine some straight-up New York braggadocio rhyming with a monster Primo beat – soaring horns, a heavy, driving bass line, and that classic Premier cut and paste scratch chorus we all know and love, and the result is... well, you can hear for yourself below:
‘Click’ features on Torae’s Daily Conversation mix tape/album (He says it's not just a mix tape, but it's also not the album; I don’t really know the difference any more anyway – I was trying to think of a witty name for the combination, but ‘mixbum’ doesn’t really sound right, does it?).
Released in early ’08, Daily Conversation has some quality moments but ‘Click’ is the real find.
If you like the sound of Torae, you can also check out Double Barrel, a hard hitting album he’s recently released with producer Marco Polo that dropped on Duck Down recently. Check their Myspace for more info.
*The more observant of you might notice that this is, in fact, the first regular feature I've introduced on GOMWB – let’s not be sticklers though, eh? Come on... where’s your sense of occasion?
Thursday, June 11, 2009
18. Sola Rosa feat. Bajka - Humanised (Way Up Recordings)
Bit of a weird night, this was... it seemed that the crowd was made up of:
1) A bunch of competition winners who didn't really know who Asher Roth was;
2) A bunch of media peeps who didn't really care who Asher Roth was; and
3) A bunch of fan boys - the largest of the three bunches, naturally - that knew exactly who Asher Roth was, as well as the lyrics to every song on Asleep In The Bread Aisle, even though it had only been out a day or two.
The odd crowd, combined with the church-like venue and a techie that either didn't want to or know how to turn down the house lights, all added up to create a slightly surreal atmosphere. This wasn't helped by the security guy insisting that I answer his question on whether or not 'I Love College' as much as Asher apparently did (according to his first single, any way) before he would let me back in. Groan.
Despite the less than ideal setting, Asher came through with the goods. He's definitely a skilled M.C. - much more so than the afore-mentioned tertiary anthem might have you believe - and it will be interesting to see what direction his music will move in. Asleep In The Bread Aisle might cater heavily to the frat crowd at times, but there's more than enough talent on display to suggest Asher has a lot more to offer.
He definitely knows how to put on a good show, too, making the best of the situation by racing through a high energy set, while showing he's got no problem connecting with a crowd - even if it was a small one. Check out some bits and pieces of his set (sound quality ain't the best, but you get the idea), including a spoken word/acapella diatribe on...healthy living and eating good food. Hey, Asher Roth is for the kids, after all.
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
After dropping a classic with Talib Kweli as part of Blackstar, followed by the equally well-received solo offering, 1999's Black on Both Sides, Mos has managed to alienate a great deal of his early fan base by straying further and further from these comparatively safe and easily palatable early releases.
Hell, he didn’t even bother with a cover for his last CD, 2006’s True Magic – just a lousy clear plastic case that basically screamed at punters, ‘why don't you just burn me, I sound and almost look the same as a bought one.’
That’s not to say that Mos’ albums haven’t been good, of course – they’ve all had some great moments – but things were beginning to feel dangerously slap-dash. Enter The Ecstatic, Mos’ first release for his new home Downtown Records (which also boasts the likes of Justice, Spank Rock, and Gnarls Barkley, among others).
With supposed release dates for The Ecstatic ranging from sometime next year (unlikely) to tomorrow (more likely), I was pleasantly surprised to pick up what seemed to be the only copy at a mix tape stall on Oxford Street yesterday.
The rumblings surrounding what is Mos’ fourth album are that this may well be the consistent effort that we’ve been waiting for. And these rumblings are mostly true, with Mos putting together his strongest effort this millennium.
After spending more time acting than rhyming recently, Mos rediscovers his musical energy on The Ecstatic; from the guitar-laced opening bars of ‘Supermagic’ through to the album closer and future single ‘Casa Bey’, he's back to his best, rapping and singing his way through 16 mainly short and sweet tracks.
On the production tip, Chad Hugo of The Neptunes delivers the goods on ‘Twilite Speedball’, a slow burner that shifts between laid back xylophone shuffles, and menacing brass stabs and guitar licks with ease. Previous collaborator Preservation turns in some quality beats too, including the drum heavy romp ‘Quiet Dog Bite Hard’ and the dreamy, harp-laced ‘No Way Nada Mas’.
There’s also solid stuff from unlikely collaborator Mr. Flash of Ed Banger fame (yes, seriously), alongside a Dilla offering (the quality ‘History’ featuring Kweli) and four tracks from beat conductor Madlib.
Now, I have to admit that I’ve never really bought into the hype heaped on Madlib – a good producer, yes, but not the second coming that many believe him to be. The boy does good on The Ecstatic, though, chiming in with some of the true highlights.
Mos and Mad complement each other well, from the lilting, middle-eastern tinged ‘Auditorium’ – where Mos trades verses with the legendary Slick Rick (last seen hooking up a bathrobed Ghostface with a truckload of truck jewels in Fade To Black) – to the atmospheric funk of ‘Pretty Dancer’ and ‘Revelations’.
In short, The Ecstatic is definitely worth hunting down. And it’s nice to see Mos splashing out on a cover (pictured), too. Watch the video for 'Casa Bey’ below or check out Mos Def’s Myspace page to get the full picture.
Looks like the album is definitely out today, at least State-side - check Mos rockin' the Timpanis on Letterman last night, where he performed 'Quiet Dog'.
Monday, June 08, 2009
I've thought about starting a blog for a couple of years. Most of the time, the flashes of inspiration are usually fuelled by alcohol. Unfortunately, hangovers aren't conducive to being productive, so the idea of lining up as a starter in the blog marathon tends to fade long before the headaches and dry horrors do. However, after a unusually sober weekend, I've finally taken the plunge.
In all honesty, this not so huge leap has been inspired by a handful of friends who have recently led the way into the not so new world of blogging. Reading their inspiring, witty and challenging thoughts and theories has lit a fuse of sorts under my somewhat lazy ass to get involved too.
So, what's this blog about? Well, I think it's safe to say that music will steal the limelight - hip hop mainly, at least to begin with - but whatever is taking my fancy and inspires me to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard at least) is sure to make an appearance along the way, too.
I'm going to use A grumpy old man with a beard as a platform to point out what's going on and what's really good (well, according to me at least), and also to dig through the archives and post up some interviews and articles that I've written during my sordid past masquerading as a music journalist.
As a result of this aformentioned masquerading, I've reviewed more than my fair share of music over the years. However, this blog isn't going to employ a scatter gun approach and review each and every release I happen to come across. Let's not waste our precious time by flogging cack. Instead, I'll be sifting through the cack to find the diamond tunes, albums and artists currently doing the rounds - and maybe even pull out a few old favourites for good measure, too.
Of course, it's not going to be sunshine and hugs all the time, but despite the psuedo-menacing name, A grumpy old man with a beard will definitely focus more on the positive than the negative. Confusing I know, but stick with me...