Thursday, November 5, 2015

Devil's Night 2015

The followup to my 2013 Day of the Dead mix, this one includes 10 tracks sequenced with samples from the public domain horror films embedded below. The two sampled films not available in the public domain or embedded below are John Carpenter's Cigarette Burns and Abel Ferrara's The Addiction (both highly recommended).

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

It's Awesome that You Love this Kamasi Washington Album So Much BUT...

Shortly after Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly album dropped earlier this year, I bullshitted to the other posters over at the Philaflava forums that the absolute best possible result of the album's success would be legions of young music fans gravitating toward jazz. With the amount of critical acclaim directed toward The Epic, Kamasi Washington's multi-generational jazz opus released less than two months after TPAB, it feels like maybe that, or something like that, could actually be happening, or about to happen. If so, awesome! I'm all for it. However...

What concerns me isn't that The Epic is getting so much praise heaped upon it — the album is an amazing achievement by a gifted musician and its success is well-deserved. Nor does it concern me that the album is being talked about so much by rock and rap bloggers and journalists — in the very least, the music industry views us (yes, I too am one of thee) as gatekeepers who've some power to expose new music to the masses or leave it dwindling in obscurity. No, what concerns me most is that the rock and rap bloggers, critics and journalists who are so highly touting The Epic are writing as if the music contained on this album is an absolute revelation, with no artistic precedents or peers. Sure, they'll give the obligatory nod to John Coltrane — hopefully not just because his name is included in the press release — but what about the myriad other jazz musicians who are if not gigging and recording just as much as Washington then achieving equally astonishing creative breakthroughs without nearly the same degree of coverage? (Jason Moran, Gunhild Seim and Zachary James Watkins are just a few names that come to mind.)

Again, this is not to take anything away from Kamasi Washington or Kendrick Lamar or Flying Lotus. All three are amazing musicians in their own right, all three deserve all the success and much of the acclaim they've experienced of late, and none of them have any responsibility to deflect the spotlight onto other artists. All I'm saying is that jazz music is over 100 years old; its practitioners have already brought it into and drawn influence from the worlds of hip-hop, funk, rock, blues, classical, and every other genre of music known to man. Jazz is by its very nature experimental and epic, it was so before Kamasi Washington, and will continue to be long after he's played his last note, and if you critics and fans really do appreciate this art form, then you should realize that Mr. Washington is not the only active jazz-man who's experimenting with the form in new and exciting ways, as I'm sure he'd be the first to tell you.

So where can you find these other new jazz musicians? Well, first and foremost, if you live anywhere near a city (not even just a major city — literally any city), as most of us do, then all you have to do is take a trip into that metropolis and find one of its jazz clubs (most have at least one venue that at least sometimes features this music). Failing that (because, granted, you're probably not going to stumble on the next Kamasi Washington by just walking into any club in any city), you can look to one of the many jazz institutions working to preserve and advance this art form. (Some uninformed or biased parties might complain that such institutions only focus on the former, without placing nearly enough emphasis on the latter, but anyone who actually spends significant time following them will soon see this is not the case.) For starters, I recommend you:
  • Listen to WKCR 89.9FM NY, Columbia University's radio station, which remains the country's foremost jazz music station. On Mondays through Fridays, from 6 to 9PM, they broadcast a program called Jazz Alternatives, which features musicians of today and yesterday. The Wednesday edition, "The Musician's Show," is often hosted by an up-and-coming artist.
  • Visit, the website of Down Beat Magzine, the world's foremost jazz magazine which covers and reviews new releases by jazz musicians, young and old, every month.
  • Use Spotify, Pandora, and whichever other online resources you prefer to discover new music. Search for experimental jazz, free jazz, avant-garde jazz, or any other number of genre qualifiers, which, if you're just now getting into jazz via Kamasi Washington, should open you up to a whole world of beautiful music.
I'm no authority on jazz music, just a fan with a somewhat informed appreciation and a few places to voice my opinion online, but to my ears, the greatest achievement of The Epic is its sprawling, encompassing, near-comprehensive take on the genre. In many ways, it plays like a history lesson, catching you up with a little bit of almost everything that's happened in jazz over 100-plus years, from ragtime to dixieland, from sweet jazz to hot jazz, from big bands to be-bop and hard bop, from free jazz to fusion, from avant-garde to third stream and beyond. The world of jazz is not limited to the world of jazz — it's everywhere, in hip-hop and every other modern music genre — but let's not act as if the music hasn't continued to evolve on its own as well, or as if only those jazz musicians who've worked directly with hip-hop artists and other more popular musicians deserve our attention. Neither is the case.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Bells From The Deep: Faith and Superstition in Russia

Dilla Cam

 1. Dilla Cam Intro 2. What Means The World X Crushin X Show Me What You Got 3. Never Scared X Conant Gardens 4. Come Get It X Clap 5. Crunk Muzik X Raise it Up 6. Raise It Up X Dipset Bitch X D-D-D-D-D-D Dilla 7. Santana's Town X Jungle Love 8. Dipset Anthem X Make It Fast 9. Suck It Or Not X The Red X Sum Spooky Shit 10. Man's World Interlude 11. Get Em Girls X Man's World X Banging Dilla Instrumentals 12. Chicken vs. A Duck Interlude 13. You Know This X Make Em' NV 14. Wanted (On The Run) X Runnin 15. Down & Out X Stakes is High X Find A Way X Say It 16. Diamonds Interlude 17. Dilla Diamonds X Hey Ma 18. Love Junkee X Baby 19. Hey Ma X Destiny 20. Oh Boy X One For Ghost X Players 21. My Hood X The Light X Dooinit X Em=MC^2 22. Be Different/Stand Out Interlude 23. 357 X The $ 24. Pay Day X Halftime Show 25. That's Me X Wild X Dilla Beat 26. Dilla Interlude 27. Certified Gangstas X Raw Shit 28. Let Me Know X WReckless Driving X You MAAAD Bill O'Reilly 29. Somebody Gotta Die Tonight X Pause X Y'all Ain't Ready 30. Shake Something X Forth And Back X What It's All About 31. Horse & Carriage X Bend Ova 32. Outro

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Reavers - Reavers Radio WFMU December 7, 2005

The Reavers 20-minute freestyle session begins around 1:51:50, featuring Privilege, Keith Masters, Goldenchild, Akir, Hasan Salaam, HiCoup and billy woods. Complete show playlist below.

Biz Markie Pickin Burgers  OptionsSingle Prism Records 1987 12" 
Jin Top 5 (Dead of Alive)  OptionsSingle Draft Records 2005 12" 
Mophono All Alone feat MC Subverse  OptionsI Cry CB Records 2004 LP 
Shyheim Furious Anger feat. Big L  OptionsSingle Priority Records 1999 12" 
Jean Grae Monday  OptionsSingle Smacks Records 2005 12" 
POS Stand Up  OptionsSingle Rhymesayers Entertainment 2005 12" 
De La Soul Ain't Hip To Be Labeled A Hippie  OptionsSingle Tommy Boy Records 1989 12" 
Bisc1 Lights Out  OptionsThe Basics EP Embedded Music 2005 CD 
The Reavers Interview Live on WFMU  Optionsn/a n/a 2005 
The Reavers America feat. Spiega, Hasan Salaam, & Akir  OptionsSingle Backwoodz Studios 2005 12" 
The Reavers Bodybuilding feat Keith Masters & Billy Woods  OptionsTerror Firma Backwoodz Studioz/Green Streets 2005 CD 
HASAN SALAAM Blaxploitation  OptionsParadise Lost Paradise Lost Fifth Column/Day By Day Entertainment 2005 CD 
The Reavers Slumz  OptionsSingle Backwoodz Studios 2005 12" 
DR. Monokrome American Beauty feat. Taiwo  OptionsN.P.R. Versus M.A.D.: All Things Considered That Was A Long Time Ago Backwoodz Studios 2005 CD 
The Reavers Invasion feat. Hasan Salaam & Billy Woods  OptionsTerror Firma Backwoodz Studioz/Green Streets 2005 CD 
Axis 360 The Time feat. 5th Column (Rugged-N-Raw + HiCoup + Hasan Salaam)  OptionsVA: Soundclash #2 Backwoodz Studioz 2005 CD 
Hicoup Ghetto Factory aka Oompa Loompa  OptionsGhetto Factory Mixtape 2003 CD 
The Reavers Web feat. Vordul Mega & Billy Woods  OptionsTerror Firma Backwoodz Studioz/Green Streets 2005 CD 
James Bond a.k.a. 007 Basic Training  OptionsGolden Gunn n/a 2005 CD 
AKIR POLITRICKS  OptionsSingle Viper Records 2005 12" 
Goldenchild Slavery  OptionsVA: Soundclash #2 Backwoodz Studioz 2005 CD 
Keith Masters Have Nots  OptionsBioluminescence Backwoodz Studioz 2005 CD 
The Reavers Live Freestyle on WFMU  Optionsn/a n/a 2005 
Kong Broken Safety feat. Spiega  Options??? Backwoodz Studioz 2005 CD 
Boogie Down Productions You Must Learn (Live From Caucus Mountains Remix) OptionsSingle Jive Records 1989 12" 
Akrobatik Internet Mc's  OptionsSingle Rawkus Records 2000 12" 
Herman Kelly & Life Dance To The Drummer Beat  OptionsSingle Electric Cat 1978 12" 
Fatlip First Heat  OptionsSingle Delicious Vinyl 2005 12" 
Edan I See Colours  OptionsSingle Lewis Recordings 2004 12" 
Written On Your Psyche Pancake Breakfast (Original)  OptionsSingle Delinquent Soundz 2005 12" 
Psyche Origami Fool Service  OptionsThe Standard Arc The Finger Records 2005 CD 
Tha Alkaholiks The Flute Song (LaLaLa)  OptionsSingle Koch Records 2005 12" 
Fakts One Life Music  OptionsVA: A Blow To The State Coup D'Etat Entertainment 2003 CD 
Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force Renegades Of Funk  OptionsSingle Tommy Boy Records 1983 12" 
Akrobatik Strictly For The DJs  OptionsVA: A Blow To The State Coup D'Etat Entertainment 2003 CD 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

大麻烦小中国 - 牺牲磁带


Thursday, February 26, 2015

The 10 best indie hip-hop records of all time left off of FACT's list

Like many people, I have a love/hate relationship with lists. Despite having created them, both for myself on some nerdy collector shit and for others on some "music journalist" shit, they give me cultural anxiety ... and regular anxiety, because how do you rank works of art? Each piece has its own subjective value, and any finite list will inevitably omit something essential. On the other hand, as far as music lists go, FACT Magazine's "100 best indie hip-hop records of all time" is one of the fairest and most comprehensive I've read. That being said, as a diehard fan of indie hip-hop, particularly the "backpack"-era stuff, I couldn't help but scoff at a few notable exclusions; hence, this post.

Now, please keep in mind that my perspective is likely significantly different from that of the writers who compiled FACT's list, as I first got into this subgenre (I was already a fan of some hip-hop, but it was all major label stuff that couldn't be called "indie" by the FACT list's standards) in the early '00s, which would be the tail-end of the period covered here. If this makes it harder for me to appreciate some of the earlier canonical entries, it also spares me the disillusionment of watching the scene "die," as well as some of the general jadedness that may come with age. I also went through a serious period of Wu-Tang fanaticism, traces of which linger today. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this unofficial supplement and continue the conversation by dropping a line in the comments section.

10. C-Rayz Walz - The Prelude (2001)

Other standouts from this album include "Fuck The Mayor" and "Great Voices," a 12-minute track on which he impersonates the day's biggest MCs. As far as punchline rap goes, I'll take C-Rayz over any of today's biggest battle rappers, many of whom he indirectly or directly inspired.

9. Cage - "4 Letter Word" (1998)
Movies For The Blind is a personal classic even though it doesn't include "Radiohead," but to this day it's "4 Letter Word" that remains the second most memorable Cage song of the backpack era and a shining example of the underground vs. mainstream mentality that consumed so many of us at that time. I also always loved how Cage's third verse has nothing to do with Eminem, as if he went, "OK, I won, let's move on."

8. Last Emperor - "Secret Wars Part 1" (1997)
After I finished reading FACT's list, my immediate reaction was "Needs more Last Emperor." Marvel Comics is bringing back the Secret Wars storyline, but Last Emperor remains lost like the The Legend of Bigfoot, so even if only because he never got the props he deserved (though I do remember Mos Def saying that he was his favorite rapper), every hip-hop head should be required to play this epic for at least one new person per year.

7. Immortal Technique - "Dance With the Devil" (2001)
Another epic song. You don't need to feel ashamed about being a former Immortal Technique fan. He was (and probably still is) a vicious battle rapper, an amazing live performer and a great storyteller.

6. Mikah Nine - It's All Love (1999)

I came to Project Blowed late, so I'm not going to pretend to be an expert in this department. All I know is that the exclusion of Mikah Nine's solo work from FACT's list just seemed icky. Dude is basically rap-game Charlie Parker, still decades ahead of his time.

5. Cormega - The True Meaning (2002)

I guess Tragedy Khadafi filled FACT's QB thug quota, but my college roommate/rhyme partner was/is such a devoted Mega fan, I'd be doing us both a grave injustice if I left Corey off my list. It's hard to pick a favorite between The Realness and The True Meaning, but I usually go for the sophomore album if only because it struck me as slightly more introspective.

4. Bronze Nazareth - "Sinuhe's Impasse" (2003)
Another personal classic. I co-hosted a radio show on Emerson College's WECB network for a year and this song stayed in regular rotation. Bronze's 2006 album, The Great Migration is not to be slept on either.

3. Royce da 5'9" - "Boom" (2000)
This is another one of those songs I'm going to assume was left off the FACT list because dudes didn't want to admit they loved it ... or maybe it didn't fit the whole backpack image as well. Either way, I have no quarrels about including this infectious Premo banger near the top of my list.  

2. MF Grimm - The Downfall of Ibliys: A Ghetto Opera (2002)
In case you don't know the story behind this album, legend has it that the whole thing was recorded during a 24-hour window while MF Grimm was out of prison on $100,000 bail. As if that alone doesn't make it one of the greatest independent hip-hop stories of all time, all of the beats were provided by Count Bass D and MF Doom, so yeah...

1. Last Emperor - "One Life" ft. Poetic (2003)
Fuck indie. This might be the greatest hip-hop song of all time. Just listen.

Honorable Mention: Darc Mind - "Outside Looking In" (1996)

I guess even if it were considered, this would have to be disqualified because it was released on LOUD, which was partnered with RCA, a major, but sonically this is backpack era all the way, plus the shelved album it preceded was eventually released by Anticon. All said, the combination of LI vet X-Ray da Mindbenda and vocal impresario Kevroc is pretty much unfuckwitable, which is why 2006's Symptomatic of a Greater Ill remains one of my favorite albums of all time.

So there you have it. What did I miss? Let me know in the comments.

Coming soon.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Travis Miller - Always Been Here

26 rare, obscure, unreleased and/or unearthed audio recordings by Lil Ugly Mane a.k.a. Sean Kemp a.k.a. Travis Miller a.k.a. Yung Gus (of The Legacy) a.k.a. Spook Lo a.k.a. The Complaint Register a.k.a. Across a.k.a. Adult Moan a.k.a. Sex of Distance a.k.a. GKRL.

26 related visual art pieces.

1 list of sources for the above.

"I'm sorry to differ with you, sir, but you are the caretaker. You've always been the caretaker. I should know, sir. I've always been here."