Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Stuck In My Head: Feel The Love - Rudimental

This is, for the most part, a hip hop blog.  But every once in a while, other stuff I'm digging will find its way on here.

Rudimental out of the UK were, for me, one of those gems you find restoring your faith in the possibility that not everything made in the last then years is crap.  Call it grumpy, mid-thirties purist syndrome.

I described "Feel The Love" as soulful drum & bass to an acquaintance, but it doesn't quite convey the beauty of this record.  Soulful drum & bass tends to make people think the kind of stuff Hospital Records, or deFunked did: dreamy smooth, occasionally soulful vocals, appropriate for Miami hotel roof pool parties, and places with dim lighting.  I love that stuff.

But "Feel The Love" is not that kind of soulful drum & bass.  "Feel The Love" is the raucous, wailing, sweat-inducing spirit of 60's soul music wed to the drums and rhythms born - fittingly enough - in early-Nineties' England.

The track itself is beautiful. And it is the little touches that make it what it is.  The Hammond B3 in the background, the horn section lead in from the breakdown.  The rhythm transition in the last third of the song after the breakdown.  And all of that would only make it a really good song.

What rockets it into potentially transcendental is John Newman.  This kid has a voice like whiskey & cigarettes & unicorns.  It's the kind of voice capable of holding so much emotion in its timbre and tone and soul.  Echoes of Otis Redding out of a pasty faced kid from northern England.

The combination is anthemic, feel good, ridiculously joyful noise.  It was released early last year, and I get dumbfounded when I wonder why this hasn't been bigger in the States.

And the video is a study in "WTF?"  And it works.  Who would have guessed that somewhere in Philly (presumably near Fletcher Street) is the Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club, an outreach organization that tries to keep at risk youth out of trouble through horsemanship?

Friday, January 25, 2013

50 Cent’s Second First Album

Worth watching. 50 Cent is all about the money and doesn't hide it - he is flat out sharing the  name of his newest album with that of his new line of headphones, tackiness be damned.

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/3u1ukPPyiNM" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Review: 50 Cent - My Life

I was a bit struck by this song.

I really like both 50 Cent and Eminem. 50 is monotonous, yes, he only ever seems to rap about shooting people or banging hot bitches but he had and still has an ability to make concise hip-hop in a way that no other rapper ever had. Eminem is arguably the greatest rapper of all time, on the other hand.

Both are somewhat inspirational figures. Both obviously have alot of sick thoughts going on in their head and alot of demons that made those thoughts happen. Both never knew their father and had serious issues with their mothers. Both have tried hard to get past those demons in their life and move forward despite being generally fucked up.

Both were also really successful - about ten years ago. "My Life" is a strange song - both 50 and Eminem are actually putting more effort in to this song than either did on "Patiently Waiting," back when both were the "juggernauts of this rap shit."

50 has been forgotten and he says it flat out on this song. "I sold 40 million records and niggas act like they forgot what I did." People dramatically seemed to stop caring about 50 Cent once Kanye West beat sales of his third album Curtis. Gangsta rap is no longer in vogue, it seems, and 50 isn't good at much else. You can see he is really trying - one video for a song called "OK You're Right" had him dressed as the Joker from The Dark Knight. One track, "Respect It Or Check It," off a recent mixtape called Forever King had him saying, "'03 Get Rich, nigga, you remember me." Ooooh.

Eminem, on the other hand, is better than ever. He has tamed down his rhymes dramatically. They are almost corny and nowhere near as violent as when he started. Like 50, though, he is old hat. It's not as bad for Marshall, though, because he has the ability to be really inspirational. "Not Afraid" was a song that got this writer through some real dark spots.

The vocals by Adam Levine are really out there for a 50 Cent track - when you hear it, it's hard to believe this is the same song guy who made "My Gun Go Off." 50 is a really intelligent guy and an articulate one too. He deserves to remain in the music world - but he may need to switch up his style to do so.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Daft Punk - Veridis Quo

A little beautiful music to make your day better. Hope everyone is okay out there. Stay strong for yourself, for me and the world. Love.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

50 Cent's "Conscious Capitalism"

Blood Is One co-blogger Keith Ancker recommended this great piece on Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson that I think really reveals the business genius behind the man. 50 is an articulate, smart man and the interview kind of says alot of things people already know. On musicians using "branding" to earn revenue, he said:

50: The finances that the major record companies would make off a new artist have shifted. They can’t put together the same marketing campaigns that they’ve put together in the past because they’re not earning the same amount. So more and more you’re going to see artists open to brand extension opportunities. 

What's really incredible and will probably blow the minds of people who never take hip-hop serious is this bit:

Wired: You do something similar with Street King, your energy drink outfit. You call it conscious capitalism.

50: Yeah, conscious capitalism. I’m looking forward to other people in music culture and hip-hop culture being more involved with philanthropy, or making those who are more visible.

Wired: That’s a somewhat radical idea for hip-hop.
50: Probably more radical for hip-hop than any other genre of music because a lot of the talent comes from low-income situations and the messaging, the consistent theme is, ‘If it ain’t about money, it ain’t about shit.’

Wired: There is a rampant materialism.
50: Right. And it comes from not having.

50 actually announced Street King while he was in Melbourne, Australia back in 2011. At the time, I was in Guam, not too far away, in poverty like I didn't know how to deal with at all. 50 is an opportunist and alot of this is keeping his name and brand in the world when hip-hop, and gangsta rap especially, is almost over and done with. Never the less, I can believe that seeing poverty - real poverty, not the funny kind we have in America - may have affected him - it certainly did me - and pushed the Street King project in to existence.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

"The Case For Nas"

It's really good to see that hip-hop is finally being recognized as the art form it is by the folks at CNN:

(CNN) -- Let's begin with a disclaimer: Nas doesn't endorse the following sentence.

But he's the greatest lyricist of all time.

Those words were carefully chosen: "lyricist" over "rapper" or "hip-hop artist;" "greatest" instead of "most successful;" "all time" rather than "today."

Those distinctions are important. Still, Nas isn't buying it.

"It's wayyyyyy, way, way too early in our lives," he said when asked where he fits among history's best MCs. 
"It's great to put a list together, but don't take it too seriously because your list won't matter 10 years from now or 15 years from now. It'll be a different list."

OK, no lists then; just a strong case for Nas being the best rhymesmith ever, the GOAT, numero uno, and a humble concession that this is but one man's opinion and yours are enthusiastically welcomed below.

From Untouchable To Out: A Change In Island Attitudes Towards Gays

It's strange but nearly all of the ideas that started brewing as Blood Is One got back on its footing- nearly all of the ideas that generated seemed to center around Filipinos and Chamorros. Both cultures are severely Americanized as a result of American imperialism and carry with them a similar outsider mentality to the inner city rappers this website has at the top of its banner.

Joe Meno is very intelligent, articulate and originates from the 35 mile island of Guam. He is also very openly gay - his main pictures on Facebook including a picture of him dowsed in rainbow imagery as well as a rainbow Batman symbol I sent to him.

His culture is far away from the San Francisco Bay Area, where he now lives. Chamorros are conservative - as most tribal cultures usually are. When I was there, the "faggot" bomb was dropped with the lack of intensity you'd expect in a conservative culture.

At the suggestion that gays in conservative cultures actually are more open than elsewhere, Joe said, "If anything i think it's really a face that they put on to hide the hurt and discrimination that they have to go through. Just think about it - anyone who is gay and open really has nothing to hide eh? The only thing is that they have to face the rest of the world who are against it. On Guam, it's both culture and the world."

Joe calls the culture of homosexuality on Guam one of "untouchables" - borrowing a term used to describe a class in Indian culture. Thanks to alot of sea changes in global culture, however, Joe noticed a change in behavior of these "untouchables" - " I've noticed that the LGBT as well as the Untouchables group are really visual in promoting the safe sex and homosexuality life."

In our discussion, both Joe and I agreed that homophobia in conservative cultures doesn't really result from hate but instead a reverence for family, as he said, "Families are starting to realize that they have to 'accept' their family members who are gay or lesbian."

If a little tiny island like Guam, which still oozes with tribal culture and mentality, can accept homosexuality, that may bode well for the world as a whole in moving on and learning to accept a diversity of lifestyles.