Friday, July 31, 2009
It hardly seems like a year has passed since Baloo - one half of the Nextmen, in case you don't know - destroyed the Lockside Lounge during the last BBBBQ. It was road block material then, and it's shaping up to be more of the same this time around, so make sure you get down early.
Brad will be ably supported by DJ Vee and myself*, so come on down and relax under the sun (or covers) with some quality beats, beers, BBQ and Baloo on the balcony. Click here for more details, and watch the video below to get an idea of the show you're in for:
Did he just say cock ring?
Anyway, moving right along, make sure you grab the new Nextmen album, Join The Dots, when it drops on 10 August. And on the off chance you've missed it, check the video for the epic first single, 'Lion's Den' below:
*able support not guaranteed
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
In case you're wondering, Honda hasn't named his latest LP after an STD. hIV actually stands for H4, as in the fourth 'h' series album (following on from other unimaginatively titled albums like h, hII, and - you guessed it - hIII). Hopefully common sense will prevail, and Honda will go with DJ Honda IV, as some websites have it listed as. But I digress...
Honda and Mos have of course joined forces in the past, with the duo linking up to record the quality 'Travellin' Man' back in 1998. Check it below for a refresher:
Now, 11 years after 'Travellin' Man', Honda and Mos are back together again. 'Magnetic Arts' is based around a solid Honda beat, with chopped strings and brass pieces laced together with cut and paste soul-diva vocal stabs. Granted, the beat by itself isn't going to turn the hip hop world on it's ear; but Mos rides the track like a wave, weaving in and out of the boom bap with a varied delivery and a nice mix of rapped and sung lyrics.
DJ Honda IV/hIV is due for release on 5 August, and is shaping up to be an album to watch out for, regardless of the fact that the promo I've seen trumpets Fred 'Limp Bizkit' Durst as one of the Honda's high profile guests. I mean, come on... really?
You can listen to 'Magnetic Arts' below... and if you're feeling it, you can download it here.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
The Serato x Stones Throw package combines two vinyl plates; sides 1 and 3 are set up as control discs (used to trigger Serato Scratch Live software), while sides 2 and 4 are reserved for a selection of exclusive Stones Throw tracks from current roster favourites including Dam Funk, Guilty Simpson, James Pants and new(ish) boy on the block Mayer Hawthorne. Check the track listing below:
Dam Funk - Silver Sunsets
James Pants - Let's Celebrate
Guilty Simpson - What To Do (Oh No Remix)
Mayer Hawthorne - Just Aint Gonna Work Out (Astronote Remix)
Peanut Butter Wolf feat. Baron Zen - Talk To Me
CX Kidtronik - Aint Even Playin'
J Rocc - Hot Feet
MED - Out of Control (Produced by Madlib)
The pack also includes white and gold slipmats branded in Stones Throw livery (which will show through the clear control tone discs nicely, for the style/label conscious DJs out there). The Serato x Stones Throw package is limited to 2000 pieces. It ships on August 18, and is available for pre-ordering through the Stones Throw website.
While we’re (kind of) on the subject of Mayer Hawthorne, it seems that the hip hop producer-turned soul singer (also known as Haircut) has been creating a real buzz as of late. His distinct, high-pitched singing style – as displayed on singles ‘Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out’ and ‘I Wish It Would Rain’ – has struck a chord with many a listener, myself included.
Mayer’s Stones Throw debut, A Strange Arrangement, is due out on 09/09/09, with the album representing the realisation of a project that Hawthorne says “started out as sort of a joke for close friends and family”. Nice one. I wish my jokes were this good.
You can download a sampler of Mayer Hawthorne songs (including both singles and the Astronote Remix ‘Just Aint Gonna Work Out’) here
Check the original version of ‘Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out’ and ‘I Wish It Would Rain’ below:
Monday, July 27, 2009
My Faves sees Jeff flip a bunch of well-known samples into some light, breezy beats, which he applies to classic cuts like Nas’ ‘One Love’ (renamed ‘Uno Amore’ here), Biggie’s ‘Hypnotize’ (‘Hip No Ties’) and Wu-Tang’s ‘C.R.E.A.M’ (‘Loot’). Chuck in some remixes for The Pharcyde, Black Moon, the Juice Crew and Audio Two, and you’ve got a tidy little compilation on your hands (shouts to Maz Def for the original heads up on this one).
Jazzy manages to bring a laid-back vibe to the majority of My Faves' tracks; check his re-rub of Jigga’s ‘Dirt Off Your Shoulder’, for example, where JJ swaps original producer Timbaland’s frenetic beat and metallic synth stabs with some nice strings and heavy filtering to give the track – dubbed ‘Dirty Shoulders’ – a completely different feel from the original.
You can download DJ Jazzy Jeff’s My Faves Volume One here
Speaking of JJ (here comes a seamless segue...), I had the honour of shadowing him when he came to New Zealand back in ’03 (and no, shadowing doesn’t mean stalking in case you were wondering; this was official – I had a lanyard and everything!).
I was dispatched to Auckland Airport to pick up Jeff and his entourage. After waiting for what seemed like an age, I began to wonder if he’d even made the flight. He finally emerged through customs with the most insane amount of vinyl I’ve ever seen a DJ tour with. I’m talking 5 or 6 of the heaviest record bags I’ve ever carried – something that didn’t go undetected by New Zealand’s ever vigilant customs officers, who gave Jeff and co a bit of a grilling, apparently.
It seemed like JJ used almost every one of these records later that evening as he absolutely tore up the Auckland Town Hall. He followed it up the next evening in Wellington as well, putting on an even better show than the night before - definitely one of the best DJ sets I’ve ever seen. Check the skills below:
From memory, I really didn’t have to do much in terms of official tour duties; all I was tasked with was greeting Jeff, getting him back to the hotel, and then over the road to the venue for sound check. Jeff had other ideas, though; a man’s gotta eat, after all. His meal of choice was McDonalds; unfortunately (for me, not him), he didn’t have any NZD , but being a good host, I came to the rescue with a tenner so Jazz could get busy with a Fillet O’ Fish.
At the time, I didn’t mind buying junk food for my DJ idol (like any true man-fan), but I’m a bit wiser now (read: cynical). Jeff, if you’re reading this – and I’m sure you are – get at me. You’re still the man, but I’m still waiting for my tenner...
'Summertime' is on Dead Prez's new mixtape Pulse of the People, out now on DJ Green Lantern’s Invasion Music Group. Watch the video below:
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Nas' attorney, Mark Vincent Kaplan, claims that his client has been playing his part, including paying $30,000 in expenses and Kelis' health insurance. $44,000 a month is a fair chunk of change, especially when Nas isn't figuring amongst the biggest money earners in hip hop these days, but as Edo.G and Da Bulldogs say, it's time for Nas to be a father to his child. Cough it up, Nasty.
A hearing on whether the monthly support payments should be altered will be held in September. But fear not for Kelis... her attorney, Laura Wasser, told the court that while her client's income has dipped in recent months (it's been more than a few months since 'Milkshake' was a hit, hasn't it?), she is trying to secure a new record deal and is looking at getting back into the studio in the near future.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Here's some nice Saturday afternoon listening from the one like J-Rawls (can anyone ever say "the one like" and not sound cheesy? No... they can't). J has been putting it down on the beats front for years now, creating some soulful goodness as one half of Lone Catalysts. Oh, and he was also responsible for this little Blackstar beauty, too:
J has teamed up with NYC clothing label Mighty Healthy to put out Hotel Beats Vol. 1, a nice little mainly instrumental compilation of beats that were made in a hotel room (strong hook, guys). You're not likely to hear this playing in the lobby at your local Premier Inn, thankfully. Expect some nice, shuffling jazzual/funky grooves. Nothing too heavy... just good summers day listening.
There are also a few bonus vocal tracks featuring John Robinson, which give you an idea of what to expect from J and John's JAY ARE project, a Hip-Hop ode to jazz music that is dropping on Polar Ent./Groove Attack on September 15.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
When it comes to the self-styled Chocolate Boy Wonder's solo LPs, it's hard to go past his first effort, 1998's Soul Survivor. This diamond of a release featured a cast that's too lenghthy to name; if you haven't heard it, you're missing out.
A few years after Soul Survivor dropped, I heard whispers that a documentary of sorts had been created to promote the album, along the lines of a 'making of' video. And I do mean video - apparently this bad boy, also entitled Soul Survivor, only came out as a promo on VHS. Is that old school enough for all you purists out there? Yes? Good.
Now, Year Of The Blacksmith has dug up the different parts of the Soul Survivor documentary on YouTube. Check it out for some exclusive footage of Pete joined in the studio by the likes of Raekwon, Method Man, Beenie Man, Prodigy of Mobb Deep and a bunch of others as they do what they do best - make music (plus a bit of weed smoking, liquor drinking and shit talking).
There's also classic footage of Big Pun in action, Inspektah Deck recording his blistering verse for Soul Survivor’s first single, 'Tru Master' (whose idea was it to make a Nascar inspired hip hop video, by the way?), and Pete showing his vocal chops (ahem) while belting out a smokey rendition of Michael Jackson’s ‘I Can’t Help It’.
The quality ain't the best (put that down to it being ripped off video), but you can watch the five clips below:
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Speaking on the...er... blueprint of the previous instalments of the BP series, Jigga told Lowe: “The Blueprint was the soul samples that I used to listen to growing up around my house; my Mom and Pop grew up with those records... that’s why I called it the Blueprint; it was a return to the music that shaped me as a person.”
Moving on to the latest addition to the Blueprint family, Jay said the album is “pretty much done – I’m still tweaking until they take it out of my hands... I’ll make them push it to the absolute last day... because you never know what you’ll create in those last days.” He continued on to say that he’s been working on the album for what seems like “forever.”
“It actually started out (in the UK), I was doing a show last year in Manchester, and Kanye came to the backstage, and he had this IPod, and he played like 10 beats... He had 10 records, and he had it sequenced of how they sounded, and said ‘here’s the album, that’s it’, and he left... It wasn’t the album exactly, but it was pretty much the foundation; that was pretty much the start of it... I’ve never recorded an album for this long.”
Blueprint 3 has been scheduled and pushed back for what seems like an age now, with Jay putting this down to a number of things, including touring, negotiating his release from Def Jam, and negotiating the rights to the songs he’d already recorded for Blueprint 3 while under contract with his former home.
Speaking of Def Jam, it doesn’t seem that Jay is holding any hard feelings towards his old employers; he says the experience running the label was “a blast” – he even admitted to handling his business in the Def Jam office in his socks (not that sort of business... we’re talking proper business man-business... or is that business, man-business?).
Despite the BP3 delays, Jay used the extra time to his advantage, saying that it “really gave me a chance to listen to the songs. You know, I got a chance to listen to them, go over them, re-write some songs... I’ve never really had a chance to try and perfect an album. A lot of these songs are one take. Just going in and doing it, then it’s out next month.”
It’s not clear if last year’s early BP3 teaser, ‘Jockin Jay-Z’, will make it through this rigorous screening process and on to the album‘s final cut, though. Jay said that it will “hopefully” make it through, but added that “there’s a lot of good records", and that he didn't “want to put too much music (on the album).”
*UK readers can listen to the full interview here, starting from 49 minutes in.
*Update: Apparently listeners outside the UK might be able to hear this too... go on, give it a try.
Monday, July 20, 2009
The Southern California trio of Mibbs, Like and BeYoung have been representing L.A. all day since 2005, dropping some tasty bits and pieces like 06’s Sealed For Freshness: The Blendtape and recent single ‘Mayor’.
They’ve also been turning heads amongst the ranks of the hip hop heavyweights, with artists ranging from ?uestlove to Ludacris singing their praises.
But today, Pac Div is about to be taken to the next level; their latest effort, Church League Champions, has emerged from a pool of thousands to be selected as this week’s Monday Mix Tape. Big tings, indeed.
Pac Div take their name from the NBA basketball league’s Pacific Division, which their home-town Los Angeles Lakers currently own.
As Church League Champions’ cover art and title suggest, this mix tape is loosely based on a basketball theme, too.
It doesn’t overdo the hoops references though, with only a few cuts like the solid ‘We The Champs (Duke vs. Carolina)’ and the intro track featuring old school basketball legend Dick Vitale really indulging in b-ball subject matter.
On the beats front, Church League Champions offers up a healthy dose of old school flavour.
Producer Swiff D works his magic on tracks like the self-titled ‘Pac Div’, which smacks of mid-90’s hip hop, and ‘Mayor’, which takes it back even further with some quality 808 drums and electro-tinged stabs. You can watch the video for ‘Mayor’ below to get a better idea:
Vocals-wise, it does take a minute to pick out which one of the three M.C.s is rhyming at times. On first listen they all sound remarkably similar; I guess the fact that Mibbs and Like are brothers probably has something to do with that.
But Church League Champions comes into its own after a couple of spins, with the trio displaying a solid chemistry that’s the hallmark of every good team, either musical or sporting.
You can download Pac Div’s Church League Champions here
Be on the look out for Pac Div to make some more noise in the not too distant future; they’ve signed to Universal Motown, and are prepping their first album proper, Grown Kid Syndrome, for release some time later this year. For more info on Pac Div, visit their Church League Champions website.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
First off, Rakim gets back into the swing of things with his new single 'Holy Are You'.
Now, it's the one and only Beastie Boys lining up to release some new music, and enlisting the help of another legend - albeit a slightly younger one - to get things rolling.
The B-Boys made with the freak freak last month by wheeling out surprise guest Nas to join them onstage at the Bonnaroo Festival in Tennessee.
Ad-Rock, MCA and Mike D all looked very mature indeed, rocking well fitting pants and sensible shoes for the first live performance of 'Too Many Rappers', a new track featuring Nasir which will spearhead the Beasties' impending eighth studio LP, Hot Sauce Committee Part 1.
In all honesty, the Beastie Boys + Nas isn't really a combination I thought I'd see any time soon.
The Beasties have never really seemed to be big fans of collaborations, aside of instigating a classic cameo by a free flowing (or potentially drunk) Q-Tip on the wonky donkey 'Get It Together' many moons ago.
Bringing in Nas might look like an odd mix on paper, but it actually really works well, here.
'Too Many Rappers' maintains the live sound that the Beasties have hung their hat on throughout their career, with bumping live percussion taking centre stage and setting the base for the four M.C.s (apparently they're not rappers) to flow over, resulting in some nice back and forth lyrical action. You can check it below:
Hot Sauce Committee Part 1 is scheduled for release on September 15 this year, and also features a guest appearance from Santigold on 'Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win'.
Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 is well under way too, with the Beasties weighing up their options as to how they'll distribute the second instalment. You can read more about it here.
UPDATE - 20 July 2009:
Some bad news fresh in from the Beastie Boy's label, EMI - group member Adam 'MCA' Yauch has been diagnosed last week “as having a cancerous tumor in his left parotid [salivary] gland. Luckily it was caught early and is localized in one area, and as such is considered very treatable."
As a result, the group are cancelling their shows scheduled across the U.S. this summer, and Hot Sauce Committee Part 1 will be delayed. You can read more about it in this small piece in the Los Angeles Times.
Thankfully, it seems that the chances of Yauch making a full recovery look strong, and he seems to be taking the news well - he even cracks a few jokes while annoucing this news on the Beastie Boys website (see below). Here's hoping for a quick recovery.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Following repeated promises of delivering what has became an album of mythical proportions, Ra eventually parted company with the good Doctor before a musical shot was fired – with the exception of a nice verse on fellow Dre cast off Truth Hurts’ hit single ‘Addictive’.
Despite this set back, Ra quickly announced his intentions to push ahead and release an LP, entitled The Seventh Seal, himself. However, after years of waiting, most people dismissed this as an idle threat – myself included.
But just when you thought it was all over, it seems that Ra might finally be delivering on his promise. A new single, ‘Holy Are You’, has just been leaked, and apparently it’s all systems go for the release of The Seventh Seal later this year.
You can listen and/or download ‘Holy Are You’ below:
Download Rakim – ‘Holy Are You’
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Hip hop’s good like that, though; it has a knack of diluting reality. Take me, for example. I remember being 14 and turning up the stereo in the lounge while doing my best hip hop karaoke impression of Ice Cube, rapping that that I was “the wrong n***a to fuck with” – but I’m white! And actually rather docile! You could quite easily fuck with me if you wanted to, truth be told.
As my make-believe concerts show, hip hop inspires more than its fair share of escapism. Maybe that explains why some rappers appear to be ignoring the gathering economic storm clouds. Look at Busta Rhymes, who thinks it’s a good idea to light cigars with money (a bit too much 80s excess perhaps, Bus-a-bus?). Or Rick Ross, who is almost single-handedly keeping the car industry afloat with his love of Maybachs – and just in case one Maybach-worshiping song wasn’t enough, I’ll be damned if Officer Ricky didn’t go and make another one!
But things in the hip hop economy aren’t as rosy as they might seem. Every year, Forbes magazine compiles the Hip-Hop Cash Kings list – and during these testing times, the latest rankings make for particularly interesting reading. Don’t think that your favourite hip hop stars aren’t feeling the pinch in the roughest economic landscape seen since the Great Depression; after all, only 6 rappers are currently making money in the recession according to no less an authority than Bun B of UGK.
Things might not be quite as bad as Bun claims – not that I’d argue with him – but the stats speak for themselves. Last year, the top 20 Hip-Hop Cash Kings made $500 million; this year they made $300 million – a 40% drop.
As a case in point, let’s take a look at the top dog on the list, Jay-Z, who takes over from last year’s money man, 50 Cent. Jay has streaked away from the competition to rake in an estimated USD $35 million over the last 12 months. You're probably thinking, “Jigga’s obviously not feeling the pinch”; but his income has dropped a staggering 57% from the $82 mil he banked last year. That means Jigga might not be able to upgrade the Lear Jet this year. And he can forget about buying another pro basketball team. Yep, we’re all in the same boat – Jay feels the common man’s pain as well…or something like that.
Elsewhere on the list, there are a few surprises. The resilient Diddy, who has his eggs in a handful of baskets including record labels, clothing, reality TV and product endorsements (seriously Sean, enough with Twittering your favourite Ciroc Vodka cocktail recipes, already) claims second place with earnings of $30 million – only $5 million down on last year.
Dr. Dre manages a cool $13 million to land the 11th spot, despite continuing to drop almost everyone he signs before they release anything, while getting no closer to putting out his own long-awaited Detox LP. Then there’s the likes of Common and Andre 3000*, whose acting gigs most probably propelled them into 14th and 18th respectively. (*Late breaking news*: looks like Andre is now back to rapping – again – leaking a new song, ‘Lookin’ 4 Ya’, over the weekend.)
Rounding out the top 20 is The Game, with earnings of $6 million; not too shabby, but a little off his new nemesis Jay-Z’s income level – maybe that’s why he’s been busy running around Europe screaming “fuck Jay-Z”, recording diss records and making all sorts of ageist remarks; smacks of sour grapes to me:
In a side note, one person who isn’t on the Cash Kings list is bonafide pioneer Afrika Bambaataa... but that doesn’t stop Forbes giving credit where’s it due and slotting in a nice interview with him into their coverage, as well. You can read it here, and check the full Cash Kings rankings below:
Hip-Hop's Cash Kings 2009 – Forbes
1. Jay-Z - 35 Million
2. Diddy - 30 Million
3. Kanye West - 25 Million
4. 50 Cent - 20 Million (Tie)
4. Akon - 20 Million (Tie)
6. Lil Wayne - 18 Million
7. Timbaland - 17 Million
8. Pharrell - 16 Million
9. T-Pain - 15 Million
10. Eminem - 14 Million
11. Dr.Dre - 13 Million
12. Snoop Dogg - 11 Million
13. Ludacris - 10 Million
14. Common - 8 Million (Tie)
14. Will.I.Am - 8 Million (Tie)
14. T.I. - 8 Million (Tie)
14. Swizz Beatz - 8 Million (Tie)
18. Andre 3000 - 7 Million (Tie)
18. Big Boi- 7 Million (Tie)
20. Flo-Rida - 6 Million (Tie)
20. Rick Ross - 6 Million (Tie)
20. Young Jeezy - 6 Million (Tie)
20. The Game - 6 Million (Tie)
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
‘The Lion’s Den’ has been receiving huge responses all over the show, with BBC Radio 1’s Zane Lowe bringing down the house by dropping the cut that “destroyed” The Streets’ Mike Skinner in a track for track battle at Glastonbury (“destroyed” in Skinner’s words, not mine – listen here).
The Nextmen are ramping up proceedings for their impending LP, Join The Dots, due on 10 August. Other tracks scheduled alongside ‘The Lion’s Den’ (which is released as a single on 3 August) include ‘Round Of Applause’ featuring Dynamite M.C. and the jungle-tinged title track. To get a flavour of what to expect, check The Nextmen’s MySpace page.
For London peeps, get in quick to secure your tickets for the Join The Dots release party – a big old Friends & Family session at Cargo on 15 August featuring Ms. Dynamite, MC Wrec, High Contrast and more. More details here.
Monday, July 13, 2009
A Live Remix Jam Session Of The Bridge is put together as a mock radio show of sorts, with Questo playing DJ and dropping specially re-recorded live versions of cuts from The Bridge (as well as a few other special bits and pieces), while interviewing Melanie in between tracks.
The re-recorded versions are all backed by the Illadelphonics, a quartet led by ?uestlove on drums and featuring Adam Blackstone on bass, Randy Bowland on guitar, and Eric Wortham on keys. I haven’t heard the original versions of the cuts on display here, but re-licks like ‘Ay-Yo’ sound tasty, with self-confessed hip hop fan Melanie even taking the chance to drop a few bars.
While A Live Remix Jam Session Of The Bridge combines soul and R&B with a smattering of hip hop, there’s also a very strong nod towards reggae. Born of Guyanese parents, Melanie goes back to her West Indian roots while reinterpreting ‘Somebody Come Get Me’ (an earlier cut she recorded under the name Syren Hall that appeared on the 2008 installment of Reggae Gold), and also gives Kanye West’s ‘Heartless’ a reggae-tinged re-touch.
Follow the link below to download...
Download WQST Presents: Melanie Fiona Meets The Illadelphonics (A Live Remix Jam Session of The Bridge)
1. Give It To Me Right (ILLADELPHONICS live remix)
2. Melanie Fiona and ?uestlove Part 1
3. Ay Yo (ILLADELPHONICS live remix)
4. Melanie Fiona and ?uestlove Part 2
5. Heartless (ILLADELPHONICS live remix)
6. Melanie Fiona and ?uestlove Part 3
7. Monday Morning (ILLADELPHONICS live remix)
8. Melanie Fiona and ?uestlove Part 4
9. Somebody Come Get Me (ILLADELPHONICS live remix)
10. Melanie Fiona and ?uestlove Part 5
11. Cupid (ILLADELPHONICS live remix)
12. Melanie Fiona Medley by ?uestlove
The Bridge is set to drop in mid-August, and includes production from ?uestlove and Salaam Remi.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Amongst the pile of new releases that landed on my door step was an album that has been floating around for a minute (okay, 10 months if we’re being precise), but which I’d previously failed to lay ears on – Eru Dangerspiel’s Great News For The Modern Man.
Eru is the brainchild/alter ego of Riki Gooch, formerly of Trinity Roots. As a drummer and DJ, Riki somewhat unsurprisingly possesses an uncanny sense of rhythm. After all, drummers and DJs without rhythm aren't really cut out to make a career out of music, are they? But Great News shows theres a lot more to Riki's game, as he fuses together beautiful, complex layers of music with the intricate, varied percussion which forms the album's funky backbone.
Funk, soul, jazz, R&B, hip hop... it's all thrown in the pot; but it’s hard to do Eru Dangerspiel justice in a few sentences. I’ve read before that Riki has described his music as “Pub Step”. Sounds like he’s on to something, there. Regardless of how you characterise this album though, one thing it's not trying to be is instantly accessible; but as is the case with all great records, Great News really begins to open up after repeated plays, and just gets better and better with each listen.
For me, it's hard to beat songs like the album-closing 'Sambaskool Dropout' (featuring Laughton Kora, one of a handful of great vocalists featuring throughout). But then, just as you think you've got Eru pegged, cuts like the brassy 'Coq Au Vin' or the shuffling 'Kevin' come storming into view. And that's the beauty of Great News; each listen unearthes a new discovery.
To get a better idea of what Eru Dangerspiel is all about, you can download the track ‘Kevin’ from Great News For The Modern Man here, and/or watch a couple of videos below, including a nice mini-documentary and some live business:
http://vimeo.com/4739425 from Filmthemusic on Vimeo.
For all New Zealand peeps, the Eru Dangerspiel band will be forming like Voltron in Auckland next month in order to push the Great News live show into uncharted territory. A big old crew of Kiwi musical heavyweights will be joining Riki to take over the Town Hall; originally, there were 16 on the bill, but the line up is constantly evolving. Can you fit 40 musicians on stage at the Auckland Town Hall? Only one way to find out – you can get the latest details on the who, what, when, where and why here.
Thursday, July 09, 2009
I’m a fan of getting as semi-feral as the next man. But it’s also nice to get into it at one of the numerous day festivals that grace the U.K.’s shores during the summer months (or weeks… okay, days), and then go home to your own bed. Gee, I just sounded reeeallllyyy old then – next stop, rocking chair, slippers, and yelling at the sky and passing cars.
Before my elevated slide into old man-dom truly kicks in, I’m happy to make the most of festivals like Wireless, which took place in London’s Hyde Park this weekend. Last year’s Wireless was a rainy affair, but the sun came out in time for Mark Ronson to put in a good showing before Jay-Z tore the roof off the place – a hard thing to do at an outdoor festival.
This year, Wireless was looking rosy. The bad weather that dampened last year’s installment was gone, and the sunshine and alcohol were flowing freely. And if that wasn't enough, there were no cues for the bar and toilet thanks to some timely guest passes (shout out to Vee and Frannie). Nice. The line-up looked equally promising, with the likes of Q-Tip and Kid Cudi joining certified egomaniac Kanye West on the bill.
As is the way with festivals, us punters are forced to make the hard decision of choosing which acts we take in on the day. I would have been more than happy to see Young Jeezy, Mr Hudson and Daniel Merriweather, but the schedule (and my hangover from the night before – at least in Jeezy’s case) ended up getting in the way. That left me with Cudi, Q and Kanye, in that order. Not too shabby, at all.
Cudi’s buzz is huge, so it was a little disappointing to roll up 10 minutes before his scheduled start time to see he was already playing. Things seemed even more amiss when he launched into ‘Day ‘n’ Nite’ for what I thought was his second song. It was, in fact, his last… turns out that Wireless decided to switch up the programme without updating their website, and Cudi had been on stage for the past half hour. Classy. It’s hard to really judge an artist on two songs, but from what I saw, Cudi is the real deal; great stage presence, good delivery, and an ear for a hit. Big tings, indeed.
Q-Tip was next up. I had the pleasure of seeing him perform at a far smaller venue last year, but it didn’t compare to his showing at Wireless; Q-Tip plus sunshine plus a big crowd (even if a fair few of them didn’t know who he was) equals a great show. Tip, rocking a Michael Jackson-esque red jacket and backed by a small band and DJ Scratch, raced through a smattering of songs from last year’s Renaissance LP (including a short tribute to MJ during ‘Move’), before touching on hits from his earlier solo and A Tribe Called Quest days. You can watch some grainy footage below (and no complaints about the shaky camera – it’s not like I’m charging for this):
Tip was followed by Kanye ‘I’m the biggest star in the universe’ West. I’ve seen Mr West put on a pretty good show in the past (ego and all), but he just didn’t cut it this time. Apparently, a highlight of the set according to some of the local press was the four topless dancers wearing tiaras and body paint. Says it all, really. The energy just wasn’t there… this review pretty much sums it up.
On face value, one out of three should be bad by all accounts (based on the wise words of Meatloaf and a process of elimination), but Q-Tip more than made up for the shortcomings of the Wireless programmers and Kanyeezy. And I got to sleep in my own bed – a perfect result for a Grumpy Old Man With A Beard.
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
From what I can figure, GAS’D is a clothing label which has put together an ongoing series of mix tapes as part of spreading the word that “GAS’D is love.” According to their vision, GAS’D is “a clothing line created to uplift the masses by relaying a positive message of self realization and self empowerment through art and uniqueness.” Right... sounds like a load of toss to this Grumpy Old Man With A Beard.
I don’t know much about Afta-1 either, but his mix certainly isn’t as cringe-worthy as GAS’D’s self empowerment shtick – quite the opposite, in fact. Love Is Real Volume 3 is a soothing dose of mostly instrumental futuristic electronic soul, featuring lush tuneage from some old favourites like Steve Spacek, Platinum Pied Pipers and Sa Ra, as well as some classy bits and pieces from Dam Funk, Boom Clap Bachelors and J. Davey. Perfect music for frail heads.
Watch the video below for a feel on what Love Is Real Volume 3 is all about:
download Love Is Real Volume 3. Track listing below…
Afta-1 x GAS’D – Love Is Real Volume 3
1. Cazeaux O.S.L.O. - Conan Bout With Circumstance
2. Dwilt Sharp ft. Lorette Fleur - I Need You Close (pt.1 & 2 edit)
3. J Dilla - Dime Piece (Instrumental)
4. Self Scientific - Love Bird
5. Boom Clap Bachelors - Tiden Flyver (edit)
6. Afta-1 Tiden Flyver Remix
7. Jesse Boykins III - Pantyhose (Instrumental)
8. Platinum Pied Pipers - Stay With Me (Instrumental)
9. Nite Jewel - What Did He Say
10. Dam Funk - Indigo
11. J. Davey - Hi Sun
12. A Race of Angels – We
13. Sa Ra - Downlow
14. OP Swamp 81 - Another Day
15. Cazeaux O.S.L.O. - Wildo Cheese Wind
16. Shuanise - Etoile (Produced by Fella Vaughn)
17. Dwilt Sharpp ft. Lorett Fleur - U & Endeavour
18. Alpha - Nyquil
19. Steve Spacek - HIdden Track (Space Shift CD)
20. Afta-1 - Love Suite 2 (Sit Still)
Monday, July 06, 2009
While most of my vinyl purchases are second hand bits and pieces, occasionally new tunes pop up which make me think “I have GOT to get these on wax.” Excuse my sentimentality, but when it comes to shopping for music, nothing beats the feeling of picking up a slab of vinyl, taking it home and putting it on a turntable. It’s also about the journey too, of course (listen to me, all Zen master-like): Going on a mission to buy records is a lot more fun than clicking, dragging and downloading – but enough of me on my “it’s not like it used to be” soap box.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve heard a couple of tunes that have made me want to brave the 40 degree-plus temperatures on the Tube and rush down to Soho to find one of the four record stores left there (slight exaggeration – but only slight) and scoop them up on vinyl.
First up is a slinky little jam by 2000F & J Kamata entitled ‘You Don’t Know What Love Is’. This vocoder heavy, smooth-synthed future funk cut has been burning up my speakers for a minute now. Released on Hyperdub, Kode 9’s pioneering dubstep imprint, this cut is all class – low slung, echoed-out bliss, which is sitting firmly amongst my top records of the year so far. Shout out to Pico 5 @ Point3recurring for the tip on this one. You can check it below:
Record number two on my personal hit parade is an international affair, winging its way to North London via Detroit and Japan (thanks to Christopher Tubbs @ Heads Down for the inside word on this, too). Waajeed, a.k.a. Mr. Platinum Pied Piper, has linked up with the good folk at Japanese label Jazzy Sport to release a cover of Tom Browne’s 1980 hit ‘Funkin’ For Jamaica’.
It looks like a shorter version of this might have first aired back in ’07 on Waajeed’s Re-Edits, Re-Fixes & Re-Mixes, but Jazzy Sport have picked it up and released the tune in its entirety (with a nice remake of Dilla’s ‘Rico Suave Bossa Nova’ on the flip, for good measure). Maybe it’s the mini heat wave that we’ve been experiencing in London Town, but this record makes a lot of sense in the summer time. If you know the original of ‘Funkin’ For Jamaica’ you’ll know what to expect here, but Waajeed brings that unmistakeable PPP flavour with hard, slightly off beat drum programming, adding some modern flavour to Browne’s classic original.
You can check the original below, before jumping on to Waajeed’s re-lick:
Saturday, July 04, 2009
When it comes to R&B hooks – of the rhythm and blues variety, rather than rap and bullshit – it’s pretty tough to beat Michael Eugene Archer, better known by his slightly catchier stage name of D’Angelo. Today, we’re going Under the Radar with a tasty little tune which sees our man Eugene – sorry... D’Angelo – getting busy like only he can.
D’Angelo has turned in many a fine guest appearance on hip hop records over the years – not to mention recording his own stellar albums, Brown Sugar and Voodoo – but today, I’m focusing on his collaboration with Method Man, ‘Break Ups To Make Ups’, remixed by the venerable DJ Krush.
I vaguely remember reading an article about remixes many years ago, in my impressionable pre-bearded days, which struck a chord with me. To paraphrase, the column (which from memory was in The Source, back when it was good) contended that if you’re going to bother remixing a song, it should be better than the original. Otherwise, there isn’t really much point, is there?
“Not exactly rocket science” I hear you cry! True indeed, but it’s not as simple to follow through on The Source’s words of wisdom as it might seem. In this case, though, Mr. Krush well and truly delivers, flipping ‘Break Ups To Make Ups’ – a nice enough, acoustic guitar-laced mid-tempo cut from Meth’s Tical 2000 LP – into a brooding, piano-laced slow-burner:
I missed this remix when it dropped; perhaps it was yet another of those much-vaunted DJ Krush Japanese exclusives, in the same vein as his equally moody treatment of Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s ‘Back On The Block’. But when I finally came across it in 2005 on the DJ Krush instalment of the Def Beat Remixes series, I was blown away.
Krush’s mix, based on a warm bass line and a series of simple piano chords, seems a better fit than the original track, contrasting with Meth’s raspy delivery and complimenting D’Angelo’s sublime contribution. The prefect sound track for slipping into a bubble bath…er…sorry…I mean…chopping wood and drinking beer. Click below to download:
Method Man feat. D’Angelo – ‘Break Ups To Make Ups’ (DJ Krush Remix)
While we’re on the subject, whatever happened to D’Angelo? After all, it’s been about a decade since this remix was released, and 9-odd years since his last solo LP. Well, let’s just say that drunk driving, drug possession and law enforcement aren’t the best of bed mates. But fear not! Apparently D’Angelo’s long-promised new album, tentatively titled James Rivers, is due by the end of this year! Come on, don’t laugh... you can read more about it here.
Thursday, July 02, 2009
This blinder of an album sounds like it was recorded over four decades, rather than the four years that it took to pull together – and that’s definitely a good thing.
In fact, Fields and his band (which for all intents and purposes is a re-tuned El Michels Affair) have served up what might be the tastiest slice of soul you’ll hear in 2009.
Lee’s story is a good one. Born and raised in small town North Carolina, he began his singing career in the late 60s, releasing a string of 7” singles throughout the 70s before dropping his first LP, 1979’s Let’s Talk It Over, now a firm favourite with anorak-clad collectors and beat diggers alike.
After falling out of sight during the 80s, Fields returned to the scene the following decade, working his way around the Southern US circuit while releasing a string of albums that, from a quick listen, sound as big and greasy as the hairstyles he rocked at the time.
Check out the questionable covers for It's Hard To Go Back After Loving You and Dreaming Big Time – guaranteed to put an ironic smile on your dial.
Thankfully, Fields took a turn in a different direction in the late 90s. He began hooking up with funk labels like Desco before clocking in with some quality releases with its offshoot imprints Soul Fire and Daptone – whose star act, Sharon Jones, used to sing back up for Fields – through to the early noughties.
He then moved on to link up with Truth & Soul, where he’s spent the last four or so years creating My World.
The heavier funk sound that Fields employed on his releases from the late 90’s through to My World leads to an easy comparison with the one and only James Brown – Lee didn’t earn the nick name ‘Little JB’ for nothing, after all.
However, My World sees him employ a comparatively more laid back approach, laying his emotive, soulful vocals down over some seriously lush yet subtle instrumentation – best witnessed on cuts like ‘The Only One Loving You’ and ‘Honey Dove’.
Don’t forget about The Expressions too; the band definitely shine throughout, and make the most of their time in the spotlight when Lee takes a back seat on tracks like ‘Expressions Theme’ and ‘These Moments’.
Sometimes, it feels like My World was recorded a life time ago, but there’s also a modern twist on traditional soul which is never too far from the surface – no doubt an explanation for Lee’s music turning heads in the hip hop community.
Check out J.Cole, the first artist on Jay-Z’s new Roc Nation label, who shows how well My World translates to the modern stage by turning Fields' ‘Ladies’ into one of the best tracks on for his recent mix tape.
You can download the original version of ‘Ladies’ by Lee Fields & The Expressions here
Also, check the videos below – a live rendition of ‘Love Comes And Goes’, and Lee spreading the word about My World. Visit the Truth & Soul website to hear more.
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
Of course, Jigga made a splash a few weeks back by dropping 'Death Of Autotune (D.O.A.)', a rough and ready cut which he declares "ain't a number one record/this is practically assault with a deadly weapon". At the time of 'D.O.A.'s release, there seemed to be a bit of debate about whether the track would make BP3's final cut, as well as raising questions about whether it was vintage Jay, and whether he was really in a position to call out the autotuners and ringtone music makers in the first place.
In order to keep the ball rolling, Jigga has been fine tuning 'D.O.A' over the past few weeks, teeing up a remix from Chase & Status (which you can download here) that's even grittier than the original. Now he's released a fairly slick video, helmed by director Anthony Mandler (who has previously worked with The Killers, and with Wifey Carter on videos like 'Get Me Bodied').
It's hard to argue that this new clip doesn't add a lot to the song, regardless of what side of the fence you sit on in the great 'D.O.A' debate. This is helped in no small part by some high profile cameos from the likes of Harvey Keitel (who shows up in a cookie-cutter mob poker scene) and LeBron James (who must have been paid a whole lot to let Jay apparently cross him over and stick a jump shot on him - then again, a bit of a brown nosing with a potential future boss might not be a bad career choice, either).
You can watch the 'D.O.A.' video below: