Archive for June, 2008

PICTURE OF THE DAY

Posted: June 25, 2008 by dillion in Uncategorized

LIL WAYNE-“Tha Carter III.”

Posted: June 24, 2008 by dillion in Uncategorized

You know what I love about writing hip hop reviews? I’m guaranteed to have at least one commenter telling me I don’t know shit and another saying the artist in the post is dope. People who listen to rap have opinions, and opinions are what bloggery is all about. So here’s a review of the most anticipated rap album of the year . . .

Is he “best rapper alive since the best retired,” as both he and Jay-Z agree on “Mr. Carter”? No. Is he one of the best? Yeah. Not because his flow is the sickest (like Rakim or Andre 3000); not because his rhymes are shockingly original (like Eminem); not because he has an uncanny ability to match beats with verses, so that his every sound makes music (Jay-Z); not because he breaks new rhetorical ground (like Nas proclaiming that hip hop is dead) or is hilariously funny (Ludacris); not because he turns hip hop inside out by making the beats follow his lines, instead of the other way around (MF DOOM); and not because he can take tired old themes like bling or gangsta-ism or being a d-boy and make them sound fresh (Kanye, The Game, and Clipse, respectively). No, those are the skills of some of the other greatest living rappers. Wayne’s talent takes a little bit of all that, and mixes it together in a raspy, drunken haze. For a guy who releases a new mixtape every five minutes, it’s astounding that he was able to save so much material for an official release. Yeah, there’s a little too many tossed-off bars here, and half the time he sounds like he’s barely trying, but after getting so much from him for free in the past few years, you owe it to him to buy “Tha Carter III.” Weezy hits every genre sex rhymes to boasting, from hardcore to hipsway, and he ends on a long, 10 minute ramble about the justice system that proves that he’s as compelling as anyone, even when he’s (obviously) stoned out of his gourd. Is this the best rap album of the year? Absolutely not. But it may be the most interesting.

Fire It Up-Lil Wayne vs. Modest Mouse

Bonus:

So careful readers of this review can maybe figure out who some of my 10 favorite (living) rappers are. Again, these are living rappers. Don’t drop me a comment and tell me how great Pac and Big are. They’re not alive, y’all. Accept that and move on. And before you drop a comment and tell me how Talib, ?love, Mos Def, and Common are better than these folks, lemme just say: I’ll listen to anything they spit, once. But twice? I’m just not a huge fan. I recognize their skills, but they just don’t crack the top 10 for me.

In no particular order, the 10 best rappers alive in the game right now . . .

1. Jay-Z
2. OutKast (when they are together, they’re the wonder twins, apart, not as good)
3. Scarface
4. Eminem (but he may be past his prime)
5. Kanye West (whenever he can’t think of a word to rhyme, he makes a word up, but nobody can make songs like him, matching beats to rhymes)
6. Masta Ace
7. The Game (a true violent poet)
8. Ghostface Killah
9. Nas.
10. Lil Wayne

A little of the best:

Never Snitch-Scarface and The Game

Run Part 2-Ghostface, Lil Wayne, Raekwon

Brooklyn Blocks-Masta Ace and Buckshot

Super Ugly-Jay-Z dissing NaS

Freestyle-Nas (dissing Jay-Z)

Bombs over Baghdad (OutKast cover)-Rage Against the Machine

And get some Em here.
Honorable mentions: Buckshot, Boots Riley (The Coup), Brother Ali, Clipse, Raekwon, Missy Elliot, Joe Budden.

Up-and-comers: Joell Ortiz, A.C.

To those who say I left out LL Cool J, Reverend Run, E-Z E, Ice Cube, Chuck D., Ice T, Rakim, or KRS-1, they’re not the best in the game today. They were at one time, but not anymore. To those who say I left out 50 Cent, you’re right. He’s a good hitmaker, but his rhymes haven’t been brilliant except on a few mixtapes and one album. To those who say I left out Lupe Fiasco, he’s made one fantastic album and a few great mixtapes, but The Cool wasn’t all that. And as for Luda, I love the guy, but he makes songs, not records.

What the hell? With a name like this, you’d expect dance-y electropop, and that’s exactly what you’ll find on Seattle’s Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head’s debut LP, “Glistening Pleasure.” Song after song, the album is high-energy without being high-fructose: It’s dance music for adults, and there’s no good reason not to like this record. “Me + Yr Daughter” is all about dating a girl’s parents, and it’s funny and fun. You can check it out as one of the two mp3s below. They’re touring with CSS, and one listen makes it easy to see why.

On tour:

06.26 Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey
07.30 Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue (w/ CSS)
07.31 Milwaukee, WI @ Turner Hall (w/ CSS)
08.05 Toronto, ON @ Kool Haus (w/ CSS)
08.07 Philadelphia, PA @ Trocadero (w/ CSS)
08.08 Boston, MA @ Great Scott (w/ CSS)
08.09 Worcester, MA @ The Palladium (w/ CSS)
08.10 Atlantic City, NJ @ House of Blues (w/ CSS)

Me and Your Daughter

Slow Motion Tag Team

THE BEATLES SOLO . . . A to Z!

Posted: June 20, 2008 by dillion in Uncategorized

Remember my recent series, the Beatles A to Z posts? Well, they were so unpopular (zero comments y’all!), that I’m gonna do another one! This time, it’s just the solo work of the fab four, covered. I’m not doing a zip file this time because nobody seems to care when I do one. (Or at least nobody says thanks.) Dig it! Or don’t.

A is for “All Things Must Pass,” the greatest solo album by my favorite Beatle, George Harrison. Isn’t It a Pity? (Harrison)-Elliot Smith

A is also for the Author of B, which is for Badge, a song by C, which is for Cream! Badge (Cream)-The Subliminal Criminals. This song was actually co-written by George Harrison. Presumably before Clapton wrote “Next Time You See Her,” in which he threatened to kill George Harrison if the man was audacious enough to date his own wife. Rock and roll diss records are so cool.

Three letters in one? Unforgivably lazy on my part. Let’s try another B. Isolation (John Lennon)-Britt Daniel (of Spoon)

D is for Double Fantasy, the classic John Lennon solo record, and the lead song therefrom. Just Like Starting Over (Lennon)-Flaming Lips

E is for Elliot! Jealous Guy (John Lennon)-Elliot Smith

F is for Jet (Paul McCartney and the Wings)-The Features. I love The Features, but I wish this was better quality.

G is for Grow Old With Me (John Lennon cover)-Postal Service

H is for hearing. Listen To What The Man Said (Wings cover)-Ron Sexsmith

I is for I’m a Loser (Lennon)-The Eels

J is for Every Night (McCartney)-Mason Jennings

L is for Let Me Roll It (Wings)-Drive By Truckers

L is also for Lanegan! Working Class Hero (Lennon)-Screaming Trees

M is for My Love (Wings)-The Bordellos

M is also for Monkberry Moon Delight (Paul McCartney)-Robbers on High Street

N is for Mother (Lennon)-Neutral Milk Hotel. This is my favorite Lennon song, but I much prefer his version. It’s so full of pain, so wracking.

O is for Oh No! Someone decided to mash up the idealistic Lennon song, “Imagine,” with the hookers-and-drugs tune, “Walk On the Wild Side” by Lou Reed. O is also for oddly compelling . . . Imagine a Walk on the Wild Side-Party Party.

P is for peace on Earth. Happy Christmas (War is Over)-Low (Lennon).

R is for the first name of two artists:

Jealous Guy (Lennon)-Ryan Montbleau

Mind Games (lennon) /W Sucks-Robyn Hitchcock

S is for Give Me Peace (George Harrison)-Ron Sexsmith

T is for tribute! John Lennon-Citizen Cope

U is for unable to find any Ringo covers. Thank You Ringo Starr-Johnny Vegas. So I’m settling for a Ringo tribute tune.

V is for Give Me Love (Harrison)-Dolly Varden

VW is for Vice Welnick! Watching the Wheels (Lennon)-Vince Welnick (of The Tubes and The Grateful Dead)

W is also for Isn’t It a Pity? (G. Harrison)-Wanderjahr.

X is for ex. As in, ex-girlfriend. Y is for you, the generic pronoun used to describe chicks in songs by men. As in ex-you. As in, losing you. Perhaps Lennon’s least interesting solo tune. I’m Losing You (Lennon)-Corinne Bailey Rae

Z, as I said, is not for zip file. Not this time.

PICTURE OF THE DAY

Posted: June 20, 2008 by dillion in Uncategorized

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