Archive for June, 2008

10 REASONS NOT TO DISS JOE BUDDEN

Posted: June 20, 2008 by dillion in Uncategorized

Joe Budden isn’t the greatest rapper alive, by a long stretch, but he may be the most honest. Where Eminem tries to glam up his psychopathology, Buddens is known for honest, self-disclosing rhymes about his upbringing, his own drug use . . . He doesn’t bang or even pretend to bang. This year, he dropped the hotly anticipated Mood Muzik 3, and it lived up to all the hype. It’s one of the best street albums of all time.

But he’s best at battlerapping. Here’s a few reasons why.

1. Kid Brother-Ransom. Ransom and Joe played together with The A-Team for years, producing some of the greatest underground East Coast gangsta rap of all time. But they’ve fallen apart, and here’s why.

2. Joe retaliated with this: Heart of the City (Ransom diss)-Joe Buddens. Using Jay-Z’s beats to respond to a battlerhyme over a Kanye tribute to Jay-Z. Brilliant.

3. And if Ransom didn’t get the message: Ransom Note-Joe Buddens. The spoken intro to this is hysterical. “Someone gonna die tonight. And what do you know? I’m alive!”

4. Joe famously attacked Jay-Z on “Talk 2 ‘Em,” and Jay’s reponse wasn’t so great. A great article about it is here. Joe Budden Diss-Jay-Z. Jay’s more of a braggart than a battle rapper, and he says he’s not coming after anyone in particular, but everyone knew the beef with Joe was on.

5. But Joe’s most famous battle was against G-Unit. Breathe (Freestyle 50 Cent Diss-Joe Buddens).

6. Heartbeatology (G Unit diss)-Joe Buddens. 50 a singer, calls G-Unit the 5 Heartbeats; says 50 will always be a Onyx type. And yeah, I didn’t upload any of G-Unit’s attacks because they’re lame.

7. Lonely At The Top (Game Diss)-Joe Buddens. Joe’s biggest mistake was to attack Game. It was back with Game was still affiliated with G-Unit. But Game never gives up.

8. Buddens-Game. To Ice-T’s Colors, Game murders Joe.

9. Joe tried to spit back with Game Over-Joe Buddens, but he’d already been killed.

10. Last but not least: Def Jam Diss-Joe Buddens. This is more of a bitter story of how Joe’s major record deal fell through, but it’s a great rap.

DREADFUL YAWNS-“Take Shape”

Posted: June 19, 2008 by dillion in Uncategorized

“Take Shape” plays with themes of tempo, volume, style, and harmony, with the seeming goal to turn all of it upside down. The simple and Pavement-ish “Saved” and the fits-and-starts of the Replacements-ish “You Don’t Know What I’ve Been On,” pull beauty out of almost sullen music, taking
brooding into the sunlight and exposing it. “Like Song” has the folk-pop quality of a Rubber Soul-era
Beatles tune, with some Byrdsy rhythm guitar. I don’t know if the sonic reference is intentional, but it’s unmistakable.

These are the finest examples of the music on Cleveland’s The Dreadful Yawns’ newest record. My problem with it is that almost every song suddenly stops or gets remarkably quiet, right in the middle, creating a sort of false ending to every song. This can be disarming when it is done well, as is the case with much of the record, but it can be frustrating, too, because the listener is never able to fully bond with the band.

“Mood Assassin,” for example, bounces around so much between loud/inaudible and fast/slow that the listener is never allowed to settle in—there’s no footing, no handhold, no purchase.

Don’t take this criticism too strongly, though. It’s clear the band is going for the psychedelia thing
here, which seems to be the newest trend, and they succeed far more often than they fail. I’m sure if
LSD was my thing, this would be a phenomenon. And for those more sober listeners, if this record doesn’t keep you guessing, you’re not paying attention. The band is versatile and dynamic, the lyrics are thoughtful, and the vocals are lush and crisp. This is a smart and skilled album, and I recommend it.

For fans of: Black Mountain, Nick Drake, Velvet Underground, The Byrds, Sonic Youth, and Neil Young’s “Arc” album.

Kill Me Now

You’ve Been Recorded

November Nights

Expecting Rain

My old buddy Ryan, whose blog appears to have gotten huge lately (I remember when it was so little . . . they’re never cute again!), was gracious enough to share this hard-to-find album with me: Jesse Malin’s all-covers release, “On Your Sleeve.” I’m not going to say that his versions are better than every other version of these songs, and there are definitely a few misses here, but he’s got some really interesting takes on quite a few. His cover of Gates Of The West (The Clash), for example, is fantastic. It moves the revolution anthem into a boppy ditty, perfect for a summer car ride in a convertible. His version of Me And Julio Down By The School Yard (Paul Simon) is pretty good, too, but one of the greatest cuts here is “You Can Make Them Like You.” I never thought I’d enjoy anyone other than Craig Finn doing one of Hold Steady’s tunes, but Malin truly makes it his own. And I love hearing any version of “Everybody’s Talkin’ (Harry Nillson)”, the best song from a soundtrack to an X-Rated movie ever. (And from the only X-Rated movie ever to win an Oscar, to boot!) I could do without the shmaltz of Wonderful World (Sam Cooke) and Operator (That’s Not The Way It Feels) (Jim Croce), but all in all, I really enjoyed listening to this release.

Those in the U.K. can get it from One Little Indian records. The rest of us have to pay import prices. So, tell me, what asshole record companies decided to pass on distribution of this album within the U.S.?

As a treat, here’s a Jesse cover, and then a few other covers of songs Jesse does on “On Your Sleeve.”

Gates of the West-Jesse Malin

Gates of the West-Adam Masterson

Me & Julio Down By The Schoolyard (Paul Simon)-Peter Bjorn and John

Me & Julio Down By The Schoolyard (Paul Simon)-Julie Doiron

Everybody’s Talkin-Willie Nelson

THE WEEKS and THE YOUNG COYOTES

Posted: June 18, 2008 by dillion in Uncategorized

Today, two indie rock bands that share one thing in common: There’s been almost nothing written about them on the internets. Well, actually they share two things in common: They’re also both really good. Scratch that: Three things. The third is that both bands succeed where many fail.

THE YOUNG COYOTES-“Self Titled EP”

The first is the debut E.P. by Young Coyotes. It’s true indie rock to the core. A slightly hoarse, slightly strained male lead vocal, “ooh ooh” background singers, an emphasis on hook, and a steady rhythm. On the whole platter, only one song didn’t work for me (“A Thousand Masks,” which was a little precious). My sole criticism is that there’s not a lot of range here, but this is a band to watch nevertheless, based on the really interesting, chant-like cadence of each tune.

If I get ten submissions of this same kind of sound in four weeks, it’s a light month. It seems like every college kid in America thinks that they can make interesting, minimalist rock in their basements. Word to the wise: Most of you can’t. But it seems The Young Coyotes just might be able to . . .

When I was In the Fire

THE WEEKS-“Comeback Cadillac”

The first (and title) cut off of the new The Weeks record is a hard-hitting, borderline punk rant with a great lead guitar line. It instantly recalls so many bands like this: The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, etc. In fact, the only genre I get more submissions of than minimalist indie chant rock (see above) is postpunk. Most are either overproduced or just plain boring. But The Weeks are different.

Perhaps it’s because they’re also capable of sweetacoustic duets (“The Sailor Song”), and rattier
Americana (“Altar Girl”). Or maybe it’s the slowbuild and clever arrangement in “Teary-Eyed Woman.” Whatever it is, these guys are officially on my watchlist. A very strong debut album.

COMPUTER VS. BANJO

Posted: June 17, 2008 by dillion in Uncategorized

It’s not until “Give Up On Ghosts,” the third track from their self-titled debut, that the band Computer vs. Banjo begins to live up to its experimental name. The first few songs on the album are mellow, almost bluesy rock tunes, but “Ghosts” has subtle overdubs, machine-driven music, vocal effects . . . Yes, it’s a little like Beck. Scratch that, a lot like Beck. But Mr. Hansen ain’t what he used to be, and anyway CvB have their own message to offer. They move the folktronica genre forward, with something often missing from such music: Tight songwriting.

“Outer Space” is a loving song that manages eighties’ angst (think Rick Astley) and true, beautiful sadness at the same time. No small feat! And the lyrically cliche “Magazine Queen” sounds fresh in the able musical hands of this experimental duo.

Check ‘em out!

Give Up On Ghosts

10 REASONS NOT TO DISS EMINEM

Posted: June 17, 2008 by dillion in Uncategorized

Em has had lots of famous beefs–too many write about here–but one of his earliest was against Canibus. The two had a misunderstanding, because Em was suspected to have been the writer for LL Cool J of “The Ripper Strikes Back,” which dissed Canibus. Em has never admitted writing it, and Cool J claims he wrote it himself, but relations between Bus and Em started getting worse. So, on Sway & Tech’s “This Or That” album, Em slipped in a line against Bus. It wasn’t even a great line–he just suggested that someone switch their demo with Canibus’ if they want to get ahead, suggesting that Bus was making his fame on his name and not on his skill. Bus attacked Em a few times, but none of them are even worth hearing. But Em’s responses are brilliant.

1. Children’s Story (Canibus diss)-Em

2. Can I Bitch? (Canibus diss)-Eminem

Marshall has also fueded with far more famous folks than ‘Bus, who never really broke big. There was this toss-off, for example, against a guy who was huge for about a year:

3. Are You Afraid (Mystikal diss)-Eminem. “I’m strong enough to beat your ass with a feather pillow!” he says, before threating to rip Mystikal’s voicebox out. This seemed kinda gratuitous, but a young Marshall was hungry for fame so he took the attack everyone route. Seems to have worked.

And remember his classic battle with Whitey Ford? I’m actually a fan of Everlast (not a huge fan, but I appreciate the dude). But I gotta say, Em killed him.

Here’s some of what Ev said: Whitey’s Revenge (dissing Eminem)-Everlast And here’s the fourth reason not to attack Eminem:

4. Girlz (Everlast diss)-Em

5. Everyone knows about the famous line about Christina Aguilera from “The Real Slim Shady.” (I’m not gonna throw it up here–y’all must have heard it.) He did it live at MTV, with XTina in the audience (best reaction shot from a live show ever!). But not a lot of folks know that she tried to respond by creating her own diss records. And they’re actually pretty funny. Wonder who wrote them for her?

Image Removed!

The Real Slim Shady-Christina Aguilera “You sound like Peter Brady/You get real irritating.”

Bend On Over Shady-Xtina

Slim’s greatest battles are against other rappers, though, not blues singers like Whitey or pop stars like Christina. In 2003, Eminem’s battle with Benzino marked his greatest diss lyrics ever. Zino is the editor of The Source (or was), which gave his genius album “The Marshall Mathers LP” only 2 mics. So Em came back on his The Eminem Show album with “Say What You Say.” But it was the mixtape verses that really killed any street cred Benzino might ever have had.

Pull Ya Skirt Up-Benzino. What’s so funny about this is that Ben spends the whole time talking about Eminem was never a gangbanger or drug dealer, but Em never claimed to be! So Em didn’t even want street cred.

Most of Em’s retaliations are well known (Nail in the Coffin is the best), but here’s one he just tossed off in a Freestyle, proving that Em can free associated better than Zino can ever write.

6. Nail in the Coffin (vs. Benzino)-Em

7. Freestyle (vs. Benzino)-Eminem.

During the ‘Zino battle, Marshall dragged Jah Rule into it, the shoutingest gravel rapper since Mystikal. Here’s a couple tracks, along with Jah’s sexiest picture ever. He almost looks like a girl!

8. Got It Twisted (vs. Benzino and Jah Rule)-Eminem

9. Monkey See Monkey Do (Jah Rule)-Eminem

And I’d like to leave you with the tape released by Benzino of Eminem being “racist.” I don’t think he’s particularly racially offensive here, he’s just not funny. Number 10, then, may be Em’s worst diss ever.

10. The tape.