Monday, February 28, 2005

posted by O.W.

Mama Lion: Ain't No Sunshine
From S/T (Family Productions, 1972)

Kerrie Biddell: (It's Not Easy) Being Green
From S/T (Bootleg, 1973)

Mama Lion's cover of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine" is arguably upstaged by the album's cover art (like whoa) but I like how she approaches the song. Instead of the smooth vocals that we associate with Bill, ML unleashes her raspy bellows instead. Also good: how the song slowly builds until the first bridge and then the drums kick in.

I love that Australia's Kerrie Biddell (who also laces that awesome Daly Wilson Big Band LP from Oz) does a cover of Kermit's "(It Ain't Easy) Being Green." Seriously, more folks need to remake Sesame Street songs. People ever hear Willie Nelson singing, "The Rainbow Connection"? So excellent.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

posted by O.W.

Kelis: Trick Me (TM Juke Remix)
From Rebtuz Vol. 3 (2005)

Time Machine feat. Ed O.G.: Mind In a Spin
From 12" (Glow-In-The-Dark, 2005)

Pitch Black: Nice
From 12" (Travio, 2005)

Some new tracks for your consideration.

First up is the TM Juke remix of Kelis' "Trick Me" off the new Rebtuz Vol 3 12". The first two 12"s have been dead-on solid, especially Vol. 2. The Quantic Soul Orchestra remixes have always been a highlight on previous volumes but for the third single, Juke's got the joint. I swear to god though, isn't he using the drum break from "Getcho Soul Together" by Breakestra? Provided, it's a great break, but I find it funny that a lot of folks have looped this off a neo-funk 45. Anyways, solid, swinging funk remix of a Kelis song that I never remembered in its original form anyways. (By the way, while this 3rd 12" isn't quite as good as the previous two, it's still really goddamn good. Seriously).

Next is one of the few indie-ground rap singles I actually like (believe me, 'tis a rarity these days). Time Machine's ground out an impressive series of 12"s and this is the first teaser from what I assume will be their sophomore album. I'm feeling that off-kilter, dub-influenced track - it's some ish you could hear some mixtape cat spitting over. Hotness. Bonus = Ed O.G. on the cameo tip.

I like "Nice" but can we just be candid here, fam? Is it me or did Primo practically vanish in the last two years since The Ownerz? While I think his track for "Nice" is, you know, nice, it's not FYYYRREEEE, which is what we used to know the Works of Mart to be. So fine - maybe Just Blaze shouldn't be described as "the new Premier" but at least someone out there is dropping the ridic street heat. Primo, where art thou?

Friday, February 25, 2005

posted by O.W.

My name is O...D to the U B, I used move MP3s by the G Bs...

First of all, a big hand to the various Soul Sides Squad members who took up the slack during the last few weeks: Kris Ex, Hua, Jon C, Noz, and Gene(ius). I very much appreciated not only their dedication of time to this lil site, but also the diversity of music they brought to the table. Anytime the No Limit fan site mirrors one of our entries (the one on Lil Mac), you know something is going right.

Second of all, I'm back. Sort of. Fatherhood means that I probably can't post daily but given that there were about 311,310,921 new audioblogs created in the last week, it's not like you'll be at a loss to find other places to visit. Bottomline though: Soul Sides isn't going anywhere - we're sprouting seeds like Dr. Greenthumb, whether in the blogosphere or the real world.

One thing to look out for - I've been slowly revamping my mixtapes page/catalog and will try to bring that back up shortly. I just finished a new mix-CD (hip-hop) for my friend Adam Mansbach's upcoming novel, Angry Black White Boy. Somewhere, along the line, I have Deep Covers 2 in planning, a female funk/soul mix-CD and (ya'll know this had to happen), a Best of Soul Sides Special mix too. Keep tuned.

Monday, February 21, 2005

posted by O.W.

Swing Out Sister: Am I the Same Girl?
From Get In Touch With Yourself (Fontana, 1991)

Nada Surf: Where Is My Mind
From Where Is My Mind: A Tribute to the Pixies (Glue Factory, 1999)

Sam Cooke: Smoke Rings
From Mr. Soul (RCA, 1963). Also available on The Man Who Invented Soul

The Soul Sides Squad is kicking back for the long weekend so I decided to jump back in to take up some of the slack (yeah, parenthood is an ass kicker but I'm starting to come back into the fold. Just don't expect daily updates you greedy bastards).

Three more cover songs from a generously donated set of CDs sent to Soul Sides HQ (I still have a pack of mix-CDs about to go out to you - I swear). We begin with one of the all-time best female soul songs: Barbara Acklin's "Am I the Same Girl," done by Swing Out Sister. Many of you might be familiar with the instrumental version of the song - called "Soulful Strut" by Young Holt Unlimited. "Am I the Same Girl" is basically "Soulful Strut" with vocals (one presumes that Acklin's backing band was YHU). The Swing Out Sister version is fairly loyal - its production is more "contemporary" but the, uh, soulful qualities of Acklin's original are kept pretty much intact. I never get tired of this song - I wonder why more artists haven't covered it?

Next up is Nada Surf's version of one of the Pixies' great songs: "Where Is My Mind." What works is how NS's drifting, disaffected vocals plays nicely on the same qualities of Frank Black's original...but what's missing for me are the searing guitars (and smashing drums) that kick off the song when the Pixies recorded it. It's ok that most of the song is droning (in a good way) but that initial wake-up call is what nails the song's power, early on. For anyone who's seen Fight Club, the use of this song at the end is an incredibly great blend of sound and image.

Lastly, it's the incomporable Sam Cooke (good god, he was blessed with an incredible voice), singing the standard, "Smoke Rings," originaly composed by Gene Gifford. I don't have much to say except that Cooke is an artist who I don't spend nearly enough time appreciating but everytime I hear one of his songs, I try to remind myself to listen more. He's so. Damn. Good.

Friday, February 18, 2005

posted by O.W.



Now on it's 4th year, this is the (not so) little party that just keeps on bumpin'! This month is no exception as we welcome DJ O-DUB, who, in our humble opinion, is one of the best Hip Hop DJs in the Bay Area..Come help us celebrate Chinese New Year with one of the neighborhood‚s best. Also in the mix will be your trusty residents DJs Asti Spumanti and Vinnie Esparza spinning the usual assortment of hip hop, funk, reggae and dance beats.

AT MILK, 1840 HAIGHT STREET (across from Amoeba), SF, 9:30 pm -2am, 21+, $10.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

posted by O.W.

"If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, please don't flatter me." - The Liks

When I said people should step up their blog design game, I wasn't saying, "shamelessly bite Soul Sides template."

But hey, it's all love - Nose Lint, er, we mean Ear Fuzz is a promising new team audioblog specializing in funk n' hip-hop. We'll just patiently wait for them to switch their design steez up.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

posted by O.W.

The Rebirth: Evil Vibrations
Nicole Kramer: Help Me
Willis: Word Up

All from Rewind 4 (Ubiquity, 2005)

No, I'm not back full-time yet, but I wanted to punch this post out since I meant to do it weeks ago (i.e. pre-baby).

Ubiquity's Rewind series operates on a simple idea: let's get a bunch of new artists to cover a bunch of old songs and see what groovy goodness can sparkle henceforth. They began in 2002 with the first in the series, boasting an absolute gem of a song with Frank De Jo Jo's remake of Larry Young's slept-on club classic, "Turn Off the Lights".

Volume 2 was a bit sleepier...the only cut I was really into was the Pied Platinum Piper's cover of Bobby Caldwell's "Open Your Eyes". I must have been snoozing since I didn't even realize there was a Volume 3!

Volume 4 is was poised to the be the best in the series, by far, but Ubiquity's home page now says the comp has been, "postponed until further notice," which is usually cause for the utterance of an "uh oh." I'm not sure what the hold-up is - Ubiquity, in my experience, rarely delays their releases but I suspect this might be a copyright clearance issue (this is a CD full of covers after all). While they're in a holding pattern, I decided to hit you with some teasers.

The first is a gorgeous remake of The Mighty Ryders' delicious disco hit, "Evil Vibrations," done by The Rebirth. De La fans will pick up on this one in an instant but sample-age aside, I love this track for proving that disco didn't suck, Haters just need to learn how to deal. Next up is Nicole Kramer's cover of Joni Mitchell's "Help Me." This is a decidedly loyal cover - Kramer doesn't mess much with Mitchell's original arrangement, adding a few bits and pieces here to give it some sparkle, but it's not a major reimagining. In this case, I think that's a good thing. The song is so intimately tied into Mitchell that diverting too far from the source might come off awkward.

On the other hand, I'm totally into Willis' remake of Cameo's "Word Up" precisely because it's so different from the O.G. Instead of the uptempo, slap-bass bounce of the original, they turn it into a smoky acoustic ballad, as if Larry Blackmon and Michael Burnett got temporarily replaced by Sade and Tracy Chapman. Sounds weird but to me, it works well.

Monday, February 14, 2005

posted by Soul Sides Squad

(This is a joint, fake-holiday one-off with my other team, Stickershock)

On this 14th of February, a song for you and yours.


posted by JON

Lil' Jon featuring Usher & Ludacris: Lovers & Friends
from Crunk Juice (TVT, 2004)

Michael Sterling: Lovers And Friends
from Trouble (New, 1990). Also appears on Right Now (bonus CD) (Empire Musicwerks, 2002); The Best of Michael Sterling Vol. 1 (Darkside Entertainment, 2004)

Michael Sterling: Round & Round & Round
from Right Now (Empire Musicwerks, 2002)

Michael Sterling: Black To Blue
from Right Now (bonus CD) (Empire Musicwerks, 2002)

Michael Sterling: I Know How You Feel
from Trouble (New, 1990)

It's true - I get a lot of records in the mail. Ask anyone who's been to the crib and squeezed into the one available seat on the couch. Or ask those people who were forced to seek relaxation, how you say, elsewhere in the apartment. I have CDs in the bedroom. I have CDs in the living room. I have CDs in the small little alcove outside the bathroom. I have CDs in the kitchen -- on the countertops; in the cabinets. Food? Not so much.

The question, of course, is: Why the FUCK do you keep all of those CDs, Jon?

Why, for moments like this.

When the story broke about how Lil Jon had basically jacked "Lovers & Friends" whole hog from Michael Sterling, a light of recognition went off and led me right to the stack of unlistened-to R&B records from a couple of years back (Yes flacks, such a pile exists). Just as I'd thought, there was brother Sterling's album, conveniently packaged with a bonus best-of that featured the original version of that very song.

I'll let y'all do the judging on this one. Actually, I won't - it's a fulltime jack move, right down to the Usher vocal ad-libs.

Consider this a career highlight for Sterling, though, a Miami R&B journeyman with his share of regional hits but no national love. Some cobbled together data on Sterling: Did some electro-rap work with Gigolo. Dropped an album, No Such Animal, on Skywalker. Did behind the boards work with Poison Clan, DJ Magic Mike, 2 Live Crew.

But most of all, know this: Sterling was a man ... with ... sens-uh-tiv-it-ee. And he sounded like Ralph Tresvant to boot. Why his brand of quiet storm didn't hit harder north of the Carolinas I'll never understand. The original song appeared on Sterling's 1990 LP Trouble (which someone just copped for relatively cheap on eBay.), though it was, until recently, new to my ears.

Sterling's latest incarnations haven't progressed very far beyond his '80s and early '90s ones. Right Now, released in 2003, might be the very last New Jack Swing album ever recorded. "Round & Round & Round" is the greatest 1990 dance-R&B record to have come out in the last few years or so ( An overstatement, but what are you gonna do about it?).

The bonus disc, subtitled "Back Then," is pretty much straight fire though, an end to end smolderer, featuring "L&F" and a dozen more quiet-storm gem, including "Black To Blue."

I also included a little post-electro jernt from Trouble, "I Know How You Feel," as a nod to Sterling's earlier days.

Come shop with me. Or send me the Sterling MP3s I couldn't find, particularly the '80s stuff. I promise to share.


Friday, February 11, 2005

posted by exo

Society of Soul - Pushin' & Right Tonight
from Brainchild (La Face, 1995)

Mista – Tears, Scars & Lies
from Mista (Elektra, 1996)

Either great minds think alike or laziness breeds similarity, because Noz and I both came up with the idea of doing posts on Organized Noize's R&B goodies totally independently of one another. The good thing is that ONP were so prolific and overlooked that there's a bevy of slumped-out backwater stankness to offer your whining, critical asses.

I've always held the unpopular opinion that Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik was Outkast's best album -- better than the ones that white people like. Southernplayalistic was a coherent statement, both musically and politicallly, and it came apart like stripper's good lies: slowly and surely while revealing interwoven layers of human complexity. Subsequent albums may have had more adventurous moments, more highs, more chitterling bucket funk, but none remain as smooth a testimony to sound and vision as the first platter held down by ONP. And that’s because when the ATLien production troupe fronted by Rico Wade gets into a full-length zone, ain't no one taking them out -- not even AI.

If Society of Soul came off more like an expermental collective than a group, that's because they were. Comprised of Organized Noize (Wade, Sleepy Brown, and Ray Murray) with Big Rube (the guy that does the spoken word interludes on Dungeon Family records) and singer Espraronza (whom I should know more about than I actually do, since I interviewed these guy ten years back), the group sqeeze out the kind of sweet sounding, soul-fucking jism that sounded like it never cared if it made it to the radio or not. Their first (and only) album, Brainchild took all of the accouterments of a great ONP production -- Big Rube's wordplay, muddy water grooves drizzled atop eclectic mothership funk, simmered over blue flame rhythm and blues and garnished with gospel -- and placed them front and center. "Pushin'" is blue-collar lament from behind a Buick with a fifth of cognac riding shotgun ("In my Regal, got my yak/With that fifth wheel on the back") with a late-night run to the golden arches thrown in to allow Rube to muse on haters, genetic disorders, racist pigs and the flaws of the G.I. Bill. All this and it still comes off as a reclined paean to all things beautiful about ghetto life. Now that's what I call music. "Right Tonight" may suffer from an unnecessary moment of 8-bar rap from the DF's Odd-Ball and Back Bone (Slic Patna), but it also featured the four mackadocious kids known as Mista getting ready to go to the club ("Check the mirror to make sure my hat is tilted to the siiide . . . Say a prayer before I slide"), making it a favorite among favorites.

Mista were that shit. One of the kids recently dropped a single on a major label, but I'd be damned if I could tell you which one right now. And that's immaterial, anyway. What is of essence is that you realize that the kids who made "Blackberry Molasses" put out an album full of longing, sorrows, heartbreak and hope that was like, "No fucking way are these kids sixteen. I need to see birth certificates." "Tears, Scars & Lies" hits you like these shorties found out somebody fucked their old Earths and the ONP gods said, "Chill. That’s a wis form, god. Handle that in the lab." And handle that they did. Ghostface musta been proud.

[GunYoga: So fresh, so clean, like 'Kast.]

Thursday, February 10, 2005

posted by Soul Sides Squad

Jack Herrera:
    City Lights
    Silver & Gold
    Jack Herrera for President
    For You
from Retro Futuristo (YabYum, 2000 - unreleased)

Gentlemen, Valentine's Day is upon us. The conspiracy theorist in me believes this "holiday" is a capitalist plot devised by Hershey's, American Greetings, the Society of American Florists, and the National Restaurant Association, but I'll save that lengthy diatribe for later. Bad news first: you've braved the lines at your local See's, successfully accomplished the mindnumbing task of choosing a card printed with saccharin nothings, paid inflated prices for imported roses (they're from Equador), and secured a reservation for some impossibly expensive (at least until next year) fine dining. The good news? The music, my countrymen, is for free.

In 1998 Jon B began experimenting with an ambitious side project called Jack Herrera. At its core, Jack Herrera consisted of Jon B and his then-background singers, Silky Deluxe and Dominiquinn. Accompanied by a full band (including horn section), Jack Herrera begat Retro Futuristo largely on the back of Jon's tourbus while supporting 1997's Cool Relax. Never commercially released, Retro Futuristo represents the trio's brand of neo-soul before Kedar Massenburg had the wherewithal to trademark the musical movement. A female friend (whose music critique I deeply respect) once told me that ANY woman would love Jack Herrera. Well friends... from her mouth to God's ears and from my private collection to yours.

I first heard "City Lights" on Garth Trinidad's Chocolate City radio show in 2000. I spent the greater part of that year hunting it down. The musicianship is loose, but perfectly imperfect. "Silver & Gold" features a guest verse from Black Thought over a sparse, mellow groove. Never trust a big butt and a smile. Looking to cure post-election blues? "Jack Herrera for President" rollicks and rolls like any self-respecting jam session must. And when the moment is right, "For You" should seal the deal.

Are we cuttin'?


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

posted by Soul Sides Squad

Sleepy's Theme - Still Smokin
from The Vinyl Room (Bang II, 1998)

Joi - I Believe
from Amoeba Cleansing Syndrome (EMI, 1996 - Unreleased)

Curtis Mayfield - Here But I'm Gone
from New World Order (Warner, 1996)

I was a little apprehensive about this whole thing. The prospect of turning a well oiled machine like soul sides into a group blog free-for-all is a bit frightening. Dub's done a great job so far with this site, but what he does is also very straight forward, serious, professional and uniform. I know some of us are a little more chaotic with our approach, so we'll see how it works. Everything's been going well so far (just spray yourself with sucka repellent and shake hatuurs, exo), let's see if i fuck it up or not...

While I don't think anybody would deny classics like Goodie MOb's Soul Food or Outkast's ATLiens position in the rankings of most soulful hip hop albums ever recorded, Dungeon Family production team of Organized Noize (Sleepy Brown, Ray Murray and Rico Wade) rarely get their props as some of the most successful modern soul producers of this generation (critically speaking at least, although they are responsible for mega hits from TLC and En Vogue).

Patrick "Sleepy" Brown had genetics as well as soul on his side, as the son of Jimmy Brown, of ATL funk legends Brick. It's been said that his loosely assembled group, Sleepy's Theme put together The Vinyl Room as a favor to Brick's label Bang Records, who were attempting to bring the label back as Bang II. It doesn't seem like the record did much to get the label back off the ground, as it's a cut out bin standard, but it was pretty damn dope. "Still Smokin'" appropriates an Andre 3000 couplet from "Cell Therapy" "Thought Process" for the hook, but otherwise not much would distinguish it as a 1998 record and not one from twenty five years earlier. And I think that's why ONP are so much more successful than many of their neo-soul contemporaries - their records aren't quite so self consciously retro. It seems like a natural affair.

Joi debuted in '94 with The Pendulum Vibe. The Dallas Austin project was on some post-soul 2 soul shit and produced the minor hit "Sunshine & Rain" . It was a good record and definetly established Joi as a significant vocalist, but I think it gets more props in some circles than it might deserve.

Her never released follow up, Amoeba Cleansing Syndrome, on the other hand, was damn near a masterpiece. Positioning Joi as a full on nasty gal, sort of modern day Betty Davis (complete with a cover of "I Might Just Get Picked Up"). Austin was back on the boards, but now added to the roster was Organized Noize (by the way, not having production credits makes it possible that onp were even involved at all in this particular track, which would only tangentially link that song to this post, oh well) and black rock legends turned studio sessioners, Fishbone. The record was a seemless and sexy (i don't think at any point in my life i've ever described anything as "sexy" before right now) blend of hard rock, psychedelia and throw back soul. I guess none of that was marketable enough for the EMI heads, which is somewhat absurd considering the success that would shortly follow for the "neo soul" market. Tracks like "Time To Smile" put Macy Gray's lame happy soul for gap ads to shame and you can be damn sure Erykah was taking notes from some of Joi's harder cuts (see: Mama's Gun).

And lastly, a man who really shouldn't need an introduction (although I'm not so sure he's ever been featured on soul sides, which, if that is the case, is downright appalling), Curtis Mayfield. Without a doubt my favorite vocalist of all time, Curtis has the rare ability to make grown men cry.

New World Order, which would be his last studio outing, was recorded line by line in the studio, with a paralyzed Mayfield on and on his back, mic hanging over his head. Although it was vocally stunning, as one would assume, the album fell victim to the common pitfalls of classic soul artists trying to sustain relevance in a modern world (the canned synthy remake of "Darker Than Blue" should have NEVER happened!). But lumped on there are two perfectly orchestrated Organized Noize productions - "Ms. Martha" and "Here But I'm Gone", which are about as mind numbingly beautiful as any of his work from the late 60's and 70's was.

Someone somewhere might have once said that great minds think alike. As such, I wasn't the only one that immediately thought to highlight these very soulful dudes when the opportunity to post on this site came up. Be on the lookout for a follow up/complementary post from one of my esteemed colleagues later this week.

- Noz

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

posted by O.W.

No time to post something more meaningful except to say that Smith was one of the greatest keyboardists out there and as good an ambassador for the B3 Hammond organ as you could hope for.

Labels: ,

Sunday, February 06, 2005

posted by Soul Sides Squad

Lil Mac: Lyrical Midget, Your Days Are Over & I Need Wheels
From The Lyrical Midget (Yo! Records, 1989)

(Note: I usually have more to say, but my arms are tired from dropping down and getting my mock-eagle on. Dynasty, sons!)

As a tribute to O-Dad and his new addition, a PSA: Children are our future.

In 1989, Lil Mac represented the future, to some at least. At the time, Mannie Fresh, who had yet to be recognized as the future, was part of New Orleans' Ninja Crew, and they decided to hook up this lyrically-inclined 12-year-old from around the way. His album was titled The Lyrical Midget, which is somewhat inaccurate since Mac was merely young and not "an extremely small person who is otherwise normally proportioned." (Also see: "Psycho Dwarf" by the Beatnuts)

Hyperbole or no, Lil Mac's debut has its moments. Mac gets all bildungsroman on our fogey asses on the title cut, unleashing a sea of metaphors and sprinkling similes like they're bread crumbs - it's 1989, but with the unconventional door-knocker drums. "Your Days Are Over" hints, slightly, at Mannie's torque to come, especially those nice, counterweighing stabs. "I Need Wheels" pillages one of rap's all-time ballads, and it also stands as one of the strangest album openers ever.

Lyrical Midget is an essential addition to anyone's collection of kid rap.

Lil Mac eventually outgrew the Lil part, reaching an age when borrowing his dad's car and getting his cheeks pinched by older hotties no longer constituted the primary concerns of his life. He cut a frivolity-free album for No Limit in 1998, then ran into some grown-up troubles. Here's the last interview he did before getting locked up.


Thursday, February 03, 2005

posted by exo

Chet Baker: Everytime I Say Goodbye & I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance With You
From Chet Baker Sings and Plays from the Film "Let's Get Lost" (Novus, 1989)

It has come to my attention that some of the more ornithic members of the Pop-Life consortium are not enamored with my particular brand of badinage. Some of you would like nothing more than to elutriate me from the aegis of the greatness that is Well, in the words of Curtis "Interscope" Jackson, I ain't goin' nowhere, so get used to me. I'm here to stay like cockroaches, PCBs and your ignorance. Your pap and pabulum simply rolls off my Teflon-coated back.

I was going to post something from a collection I have called The Best of Chess Jazz. I do not know why this label was called Chess. Maybe the label owners played the game all day while they had session musicians working under sweatshop conditions. I honestly have no idea. If you pissants want to stick your heads up the ass of marginilia, buy a Song ticket to EMP Live or meet my pay-rate, because I don't even freestyle for free. Right now, we're working on my Eisenhower, so I'll just share with you two tracks that I enjoy very much. They're not even from the Chess label. They're from something else altogether: Chet Baker Sings and Plays from the Film "Let's Get Lost." (At least that's what it says on the CD jacket.)

Now there's a reason why this album has a special place in my heart, and it goes back to the time I had a fiancee. Yes, I contain multitudes, my friends. But please, buy my book to learn more. This is not information I will give to you for free because I'm a hustler, baby. Anyway, my cousin, who is known to the world simply as Jacques (he has a story of his own which I won't share with you, either) put me on to a young lady, then put me on to this album when shit went wrong with said young lady. What went wrong? Oh, my concupiscence for (and subsequent fecundation of) the side inamorata, for starters. I was a bastard for that. Anyhow, as I have duly noted, that game is to be sold, not told. Just let it be known that Chet Baker Sings and Plays from the Film "Let's Get Lost" is one of my all-time favorite depression albums. (Another is Marvin Gaye's Vulnerable, but, in honor of Black History Month, I'm going with the whyte guy.)

Supposedly, Chet was washed up and strung out on heroin and lost all his teeth when they found him in some alley and cleaned him up to make this record. I don't know how true that is, but it's what my cousin's cousin and partner (Pascal, with the eyepatch--long live the Sugar Bros.!) told me and that's why I love this album. If it's not a true story, I don't wanna know like Mario Winans. I have so little to live for. And the drugged-out legend pretty much sums up my life at this point--except I don't play an instrument.

Are you not liking this post? Oh well. Not only do your words fall on deaf ears, all your grousing is more parlous to your free music tendencies than being caught flagrante delicto with a boosted Joe Ski Love maxi-single cassette at Tower Records (true story; but I won't run through the whole megillah) because sooner or later, O-Dub will have his own pab and pabulum to clean up and won't be worried about you babies. When he's holding down 4 a.m. feedings, who do you think will be around to obtund my wrath? Jon Caramanica? Ha! You have another thing coming if you think I won't turn this little corner of the O-Zone into a virtual abattoir. Seriously, I will get Abu Ghraib up in his bitch.

If my presence irritates you like stangury, I suggest you drink cranberry juice. You whine and I'll only get more bilious and erroneously tag extended versions of John Cage's "4' 33"" as tracks from Be just to fuck with you. (It's not my bandwidth, motherfuckers.) It's better to do business with me than against me. Really. I am totally amenable. But I have so little joy in my life. Don't be a reservoir for my pain. It's like playing laser tag with the magnum: you do not want it.

[GunYoga: Believe you, me, sun: I hate to do it just as bad as you hate to see it done.]

posted by O.W.

Eugene McDaniels: Freedom Death Dance and The Parasite
From Headless Heroes Of The Apocalypse (Atlantic, 1971)

Yeah, I'm still here. Anyways...maybe this is just a sign that the amount of music worth blogging about is finite (not likely) or just a coincidence but I've been working on this post for a few days and right when I'm ready to put it up...Evigan Funk does a Headless Heroes post at the same time. The upside is that we're posting different songs so maybe it works out quite well after all. In any case, EF posts up more biographical info than I do.

A few weeks ago, I was having a conversation about the 24 Carat Black LP and Hua said, "yeah, it's so much more than just a digger's album" upon which I said, "like the Headless Heroes LP" and Hua quickly put me in check and suggested that this McDaniels album was far better than I gave it credit for. And he was right.

Now that I went back to actually listen to it, the album truly is much more than just about "Jagger's Dagger" (a favorite of break compilations). Supposedly, the social/political content of the album had the Nixon administration nervous and they basically shut down the LP's distribution (hence it's rarity and status as a "Holy Grail" find).

For a protest album, McDaniels' musical temperment isn't one of outrage - hot and heavy - but rather, melancholy and moody. He indicts through solemnity. McDaniels isn't a stellar vocalist but there's something alluring about how he sings here...reminds me a lot of what Chet Baker might have sounded like as a soul artist: very smooth, goes down easy.

I picked these two songs because I like how they sound but I admit, if you listen to the lyrics of "The Parasite," the song's well-meaing but 1) rather redundant and 2) a little patronizing in its attitude towards Native Americans. But hey, I just like how it grooves.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

posted by O.W.

Fat Joe: Safe 2 Say
From All Or Nothing (Atlantic, Spring 2005)

Yeah, I know I'm supposed to be on hiatus. Kris says I'm as bad as Jay-Z - we talk about taking a break, but we're still here, dropping it like it's hot. Hey, is it my fault my kid takes after her old man as a procrastinator?

Anyways, Hua and I have been jawing about how binoculars Just Blaze's productions have been. In Mr. Hsu's eloquent words, Blaze makes beats that "have me wanting to punch dudes in the face just for living." So trill.

Then Hua heps me to this new Fat Joe track that Blaze lights up and J.F. Christ, this is off the third rail. To call it explosive is an understatement and what I especially like is how the beat manages to be both clean and chaotic at the same moment, reminding me of Blaze's touch on "U Don't Know" or "P.S.A."

The coup de grace = Blaze scratching up Chuck D's "once again, back is the incredible."

Q: Is JB the new Premier? (Where has Primo been anyways?)

posted by O.W.

(this post also mirrored at Pop Life)

Edan feat. Percee P: Torture Chamber
From Beauty and the Beat (Lewis, March 2005)

Lyrics Born: I'm Just Raw
From Same !@#$, Different Day (Quannum, March 2005)

M.I.A.: Bucky Done Gone
From Arular (XL, Feb 2005)

Prefuse 73 feat. Masta Killa and GZA: Just The Thought
From Surrounded By Silence (Warp, March 2005)

2005 is about to jump off, fast and furious. The Game's had an easy January - his CD's been the only major release so far and 50's not due until late March. Between now and then however, there's a rush of noteworthy releases due up. I snippet-ized a sampling from a quartet of albums I'm personally looking forward to, let's see what discussions spark from here on out...

1. I've been sitting with Edan's new CD for a few weeks and have been loving every moment. Maybe it's an nostalgic impulse on my part - after all, Edan lionizes the '88 fast rap era that I'm a fan of too and his aesthetic mastery - lyrically and musically - of that time is masterful, to the point of obsessiveness. Do people find him a little backpackerish? Probably but this new album breaks out of that throwback mode with an exciting, aggressive assortment of psyche-inspired tracks. The mood on Beauty and Beat is decidedly dark and a touch sinister: think Kool G Rap rather than Kwame. I pulled a track feat. Percee P, the fast rap legend whose career has most decidedly entered into its second (or is it third?) act. There's supposedly a Cut Chemist remix of this somewhere out there that's habanero hot.

2. What I appreciate about Lyrics Born is how he just goes ahead and does whatever he wants to artistically, no matter how unconventional it may seem. To me, he's one of the last few iconoclasts left in hip-hop who still has enough talent to stay relevent. For example, he decided to make this remix album on a whim but once he was committed, he went the full-length: bringing in a host of different producers, including the Lifesavas' Jumbo to Germany's Poets of Rhythm to the Bay Area's very own Dan the Automator. Dan handles the track on "I'm Just Raw," one of four completely new songs offered on Same !@#$ - it's a straight braggadocio cut in the tradition of another Dan/LB pairing from a few years back: "Always Fine Tunin." (The CD also brings back DJ Spinna's excellent "I Changed My Mind Remix," from 2000 as well.) Bottomline: I respect LB's hustle - he really does the Bay proud.

3. I was probably the only pop music blogger who didn't put "Galang" on their top 10 list...not because I didn't like it, but I was slow to get around to listening to it. Candidly, so far, I find M.I.A.'s back story to be the main draw, which is no disrespect to her music, but c'mon - a Sri Lankan child refugee who lands in England, sports a Cockney accent and sings/raps over apocalyptic, electro-destructo beats? And dates Diplo? Not to sound all grrrl power but I'd love to go to a show headlining her, Dizzee Rascal and The Streets and watch her wipe the floor with the whole lot. Frankly, I'm not next level enough of a music critic to know to call this grime, neo-electro, or whatever - I'm just enjoying the sheer bombasticness of it all.

4. On that note, it sounds like M.I.A.'s been cribbing notes off of Prefuse 73's smash-distintegrate-rebuild-smash production style. I'm sure Jacques Attali must have had some prescient vision of Prefuse when he wrote Noise since 73's music toes that razor line towards a distortion to static but subliminates a range of rhythms underneath everything he does. In all fairness, it's not like I live and die for his sound - gimme a straight drum break loop any ol' day (see below) - but I do appreciate how he's steadily evolving his sound through each new release. Surrounded By Silence is his most ambitious to date in terms of working with other artists. At last count, he had at least 13 guests on the album, including a track with both Ghostface and El-P, plus "Just The Thought," a Wu-Tang affair featuring Masta Killa and the GZA. The pairing makes a lot of sense if you think about the ways in which the RZA has played with distorted, dusted out sonics himself.

Common feat. Kanye West: Corners
From Be (Interscope, Spring 2005)

This song's already making the blog rounds (read the comments on that post for more hilarity) but at the risk of being redundant let me state the following:

1) I was apparently the only person who actually thought Electric Circus was an enjoyable, imaginative album. Best thing Common ever made? Hell no. But as boring or mark-missing as something like The New Danger or Beautiful Struggle? Uh uh.

This song, along with "The Food" from '04, pushes Be to the very top of my most-anticipated release list, including over Kanye's Late Registration.

2) Speaking of West, I've mostly found him - despite his steadily overbearing god complex - to be a refreshing presence in the rap game but in general, his productions are starting to thin out, probably from being over taxed. Two years ago, did Kanye have any wack beats? I can't think of too many off the dome but in the last few months, he seems to be phoning in a few of his efforts (The Game's "Dreams" comes to mind and let's please not talk about that b.s. he did for Jin).

This said - Kanye comes back diamond hard with "Corners." When's the last time you can remember a West production that kicks off with a drum break, let alone something as flinty as this one? Was he offended when Just Blaze said on "Church For Thugs:" "no more hand claps, please?" Did he decide to go back to the lab and pull out this grungy, stripped down, nails-in-a-baseball-bat of a beat? It's not hungry - it's damn near starving to be heard, to be pumped out of trunks from Cabrini Greens to Red Hook.

Aside: me and Hua were wondering aloud if Just Blaze and Kanye West had beef, who'd walk away as the last man standing. Provided, West rocks Jesus piece ice these days but Blaze managed to make Fab sound talented on "Breathe." I think the latter qualifies as the more impressive feat.

3) Just because Common wouldn't be Common without a little touch of corniness, the song also features Umar Bin Hassan from the Last Poets. I'm not as annoyed by his presence as others are...he's not nearly as grating as Olu Dara on "Bridging the Gap," and I still have fondness for Hassan's cameo on Ed O.G.'s slept-on, "Love Come and Goes."

4) Unrelated quick question: do we like Jay-Z's guest verse on the "Drop It Like It's Hot" remix or not? Props for dissing R. Kelly but all that shizow, nizow flow got to be a bit much, no?