HUSTLING BACKWARDS

 

Tame impala feels like we only go backwards

Hey everyone,

I’ve spent this past week dipping, heavy, into Soul Sides’ past (you can read why below)1

It’s been both a sobering and humbling experience. In those early years of the site – beginning around 2004 – I was posting more or less daily; there was a visible hunger I had to write about records all the time. I could get into why the ardor has cooled over the years but it’s nothing particularly new – age, the rise of social media, blah blah blah – but the point here is that I forgot how many things I had to write about when I first started.2

For example, I forgot, in those early days, how many thematic posts and cross-site collaborations I pursued. There was the Blunts vs. Soul series between myself and Cocaine Blunts. And there was my Beat Week series, of songs with, well, really good drums. These were, if I may say, good ideas! I don’t know why I forgot them to begin with. I should do more of them.

The other thing I’m reminded of is that, when I started, my philosophy was to only keep up sound files for a set period of time. Partly, that was designed to keep me off the radar of, say, the RIAA but partly, it was because this was in the era before every single song was on Youtube anyway. I still believe in the utility of the MP3 – it’s nice to be able to take songs with you – but I’ve very slowly begun to revise older posts and either repost songs to them via Youtube files or actual MP3s again. If you have requests, ask it in the comments and if I can repost, I will.

Meanwhile, Soul Sides is still here. It ain’t going nowhere. Thanks to those who’ve been with me for the last dozen+ years. I’ve never stopped being thankful for you.


By the way, be sure to keep track of the mixes I put up on Mixcloud. I’ve slowly been releasing some of my old mixes back into the wild, including the first two Deep Covers volumes.

  1. Last week, I finally fixed a problem with the site that I had let fester for over five years; I had hundreds of orphaned posts left over from the days when this site was powered by Blogspot. When I migrated over to WordPress, I didn’t bother to futz with the back-end architecture at the time and as a result, I left all posts from 2010 and before in a state of frozen limbo, wholly disconnected from my CMS. In hindsight, I’m not sure why I didn’t address any of this sooner but it was one of those out-of-sight, out-of-mind things.

    In any case, this past week, I tethered every post – going all the way back to 2006 – to the WordPress CMS. However, in getting rid of all the orphaned posts, I’ve created a smaller problem: “lost” posts that Google thinks exist but don’t line up properly with an existing permalink. I’ve been painstakingly fixing those one by one – in almost all cases, all I need to do is tweak the permalink address on my end. However, if you people notice a missing post (not music file but the post itself), let me know and I should be able to track down the problem.

  2. Writing-wise, not all (most?) of those posts were particularly good. I’ve always treated Soul Sides as a place where I could brain dump entire paragraphs instead of artisanally crafting every sentence. But I’d like to think my goal has always been to try to get at what makes a song/artist/album interesting or important…not necessarily to the world but at least to me.

THE ADDAMS FAMILY TURNS IT LOOSE

Wednesday Does The James Brown

Wednesday does the James Brown. I blame Nora and Shazia for this…

Posted by BRAT Productions on Monday, July 27, 2015

POCKET GEAR

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A random post that’s (mostly) not music related but I was thinking about the things that I rely on most at any given time of the day and I narrowed it down to four items I literally don’t leave home without.

•iPhone 5S. ‘Nuff said. I don’t rotate the music enough but I keep a playlist that’s strictly “new arrivals + favorites” that ends up being very handy when I come up with my “year end” posts.

Quirky Wrapster. Because those %)!!)( iPhone earbuds always get tangled in my pocket otherwise).

Big Skinny card holder wallet. I’m strictly a “front pocket wallet” kind of guy and these are fantastic for that purpose.

•Prescription sunglasses (I get mine from Eyebuydirect.com). It’s terribly cliche for someone in L.A. I suppose but I spend so much time either in the car or on my bike, shades are essential.

MY EMP PLAYLIST

Emppc

It’s no secret that the annual EMP Pop Conference is a favorite event of mine. Besides feeling like I’m amidst “my people,” (i.e. nerded out music journalists and scholars), I also come away from it with a bounty of songs to learn/revisit. Here’s some of the more memorable ones from this year’s Pop Con.

Chicago’s Jessica Hopper reminded the world that there’s no book about Curtis Mayfield, wtf. She discussed the LP version of “Move On Up,” one of the greatest anthems to crop up in the transition from the Civil Rights Movement to the Black Power Movement. She structured her talk in such a way to leave time to play the entire LP version of the song and I realized…wait, I’ve never heard the entire LP version of the song. Damn.

I had dinner with a small crew of folks including Eric Weisbard, Jody Rosen, Gayle Wald, Daphne Brooks, Carl Wilson, and (celebrating her b-day) Ann Powers and during the course of some delicious Indian food, we somehow got around to talking about whether all sad songs are deliberately manipulative in their sadness. That included a discussion of Dolly Parton’s “dead baby” songs but someone (I think Eric) volunteered this Iris Dement song as “saddest song ever” (or something to that extent).

I saw Langston Wilkins give a great paper about the history of slab culture in Houston hip-hop, especially in helping to explain the North vs. South side beefs chronicled in such songs such as “Northside Haters” by Fat Pat. The short version: don’t f— with another man’s rims.

J.D. Considine was presenting on k-pop and when I happened to sit down next to him, he started telling me about this insane video by Kyary Pamyu Pamyu called “PONPONPON.” I’m not sure wtf is happening here except that it involves toast…and eyeballs.

Nadia Ellis presented on New Orleans bounce and Jamaican dancehall culture. She played several videos, including this one from Big Freedia which had me twitching in my seat as it bumped.

While I was panel-hopping, I caught part of Gary Sullivan’s paper about Rebecca Pan and her role in Hong Kong’s pop scene of the 1960s. In particular, he directed folks to Pan’s cover of the Cuban ballad, “Siboney Amor,” (one of my personal favorites), as sung in Mandarin. 挺好!


This year’s Critical Karaoke had the theme of…cover songs. (How sad am I that I didn’t volunteer for it? I didn’t know!) There’s a slew of songs to share from just that panel.

Let’s start with Summer Kim Lee and her example of a “best cover”: BenZel doing Brownstone’s “If You Love Me.”

On the other side, Joshua Clover offered this up for a “worst cover.” I heartily agree; it’s an abomination.

Then, during the Q&A portion, a flurry of other covers were entered into discussion. Nina Simone came up twice…once for her own cover (h/t Joshua Clover?) of “Feelings”…

…and then once for Labelle’s cover of Nina Simone’s “Four Women” (h/t Gayle Wald).

Actually, Gayle also mentioned a “cover-by-the-original-songwriter,” i.e. Dan Penn singing “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man,” which he wrote and which Aretha Franklin turned into a monster hit.

And let’s just close this on a triple play of connections…Rotary Connection covering “Respect,” another song made famous by Aretha but itself, a cover of Otis Redding. Shout out to Emily Lordi who mentioned it.

ME AND THES UNO, COLLABO-ING LIKE YOU KNOW

So yeah, ^this^ happened.1

I’m incredibly honored to have written the preface for Thes’s stunning (and literal) box-set. (Sold out; hope you didn’t sleep). As I allude to in the it, it’s been a strange but awesome journey from being some writer Thes and Double K didn’t know except to hate to someone who I get to build with as a friend and colleague on a regular basis.2

If, years from now, I barely remember other tales from my life as a rap writer, this would still be fresh in my memory.

  1. First things first – because I’m always copy-editing myself in hindsight – a small correction: PUTS was mad at me because of something I wrote in the LA Weekly. When I first wrote the preface in 2010, I thought what had sparked them off was something I had written for my pre-blogging blog. I should have caught that error when Thes asked me, literally a few weeks ago, to re-send my piece. Oh well.
  2. Thes actually spoke to my CSULB class the other week and funny enough: K’s niece is one of my students.