this must be the place....goin strong , yeah baby!!!

Monday, June 30, 2008


Seems like I might need to have a word with the people at Fool's Gold about this. Hilarious.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Astronaut Jones

holy shit.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

18 Hour Drive - Reader Participation

I need to fill 18 hours of drive-time from Boulder to Austin. I'm thinking of going through some complete artist discographies. I need suggestions. Eno is out because I've been rocking a data CD of his for some time. Maybe Wu-Tang Clan's group albums or just RZA's solo albums. Rakim. Steve Reich is also on the short list. Maybe David Bowie. I have no problem getting the music, I'm good friends with this guy called The Internet.

So comment!

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Boulder Gig Report #3

Final gig in Boulder. At the Tusk Lounge, with DJ Senile once again. I showed up around 10:30 after making some delicious couscous with shrimp.


-Watching a 45 year old couple grind to Ice Ice Baby
-Realizing the secret to accessible hip-hop bass lines. The bass line has to hit on the downbeat for the first three beats of a two bar phrase. This allows people who don't really listen to hip hop to easily catch the groove. Think Ice, Ice, Baby, 1-2-3-4- by Coolio, and Rapper's Delight by Sugarhill Gang. The next measure of the phrase then adds a small amount of syncopation to the bass line, the "get crazy party" whose rhythm is completely ignored by the people dancing.
-Finally talking to the beautiful bartender.
-Hearing people go "Ohhhhh shit!" at the intro to "Wrong Way" by Sublime.
-DJ Senile talking into the headphones to pump up the crowd during "Wrong Way" by Sublime.
-Realizing a woman who I thought was over 40 years old was actually 22. I found this out after she disappeared into the men's bathroom with DJ Senile for about 15 minutes and then introduced herself to me.
-The first 75 minutes of the Russia v. Netherlands quarterfinal Eurocup soccer game. I got the bartender to put it on on the TV on the wall behind the DJ booth. So I was pretty much DJing with my back to the crowd from 1-2am, pretending I was looking at my laptop. Thankfully the game went into extra time, so I caught Russia's game-winning goal after speeding home.
-Getting booed for playing the Holertronix remix of Paul Simon's "Call Me Al" and arguing with the 1:45 a.m. crowd of 7 people, eventually ending the discussion by calling them idiots.
-DJ Senile explaining his beef with local music store Bart's CD Cellar . He was receiving poor customer service when previewing CDs. When he complained, the girl working the counter revealed she had just been diagnosed with AIDS earlier that day. Senile's response? "That's not my fault!"
- DJ Senile paying me with a 10 dollar bill to "cover my gas."

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Saturday, June 21, 2008


this is a non-post post, but the last one longer than most 2 posts, so im counting it. This marks the 200th post on the casavista blog. Aye yay yay!

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Friday, June 20, 2008

A Final Word on The Big 3, How it Relates to the Question of "The Audience" and What is Probably the First Review of {{{SUNSET}}}-The Glowing City

OK so the Celtics win the championship. Badass right? We were all hoping for this except my cousin Adam, the Lakers fan, but even he isn't so sore because next year is the Lakers year.

Let's look at the reactions of the Big 3 (all mostly paraphrased)
Paul Pierce: "Blood Sweat and Tears" -- I saw clips of Pierce saying this a number of times...the first instance with 4 minutes left in the game when the starters got pulled, and then after the game is over, and then again in the locker room. It was Pierce's catch phrase. What does this say to me that this championship meant to Pierce? It was about the hard work, the bad times, and the commitment that comes from being the franchise player for the Boston Celtics of the past 10 years. It was about getting better and growth as a player, a teammate, and a part of an organization. It was about getting stabbed 10 times, almost dying, and then coming back. Winning in what one could imagine Pierce considering life's overtime.

Ray Allen: I didn't really see that much of Ray Allen's celebration. Right after the game he was the first to find his family. "We're so proud of you baby," but he seemed far less jubilant than the other players. As some of you may know, he had a son sick in the hospital (later diagnosed with diabetes) during the end of the finals. I saw an interview afterwards where he said his mind wasn't really on Game 6 the entire time, that it was with his son (note: the guy set a Finals record, shooting 7-9 from 3pt land). And let's contrast this with...

Kevin Garnett: OK, Kevin Garnett is my favorite player in the NBA, and his vindication is my sports story of the year. KG's post-game quote (after a giant pause where he can't even put his emotion in to words) he says "anything can happen." Does this not strike anyone else as a total non-sequiter? Anything can happen? Really? And then it all comes out. After the game he gives shout outs to everywhere he has ever been in his whole life. Everywhere, like, I didn't forget about ch'all, and I told you I'd win a championship one day, and etc.,. I think I already posted that video, though. At this point, nothing in his career meant anything to him besides a ring, unreasonable or not. Check this video out

Here he says "other than my kid being born," but i swear i saw him somewhere right after the game saying "this is better than my kid being born." twice repeating it, as if confirming what he said the second time only with more conviction (like "oh yeah, definitely better.") I'm going to pretend that I know he said that for a fact. This win for him was all about personal vindication. KG held himself to a higher standard, and although a championship isn't something that can be granted strictly via one man's sheer force of will, the fact that he tried makes it seem as if one day Sisyphus rolled that rock right over the hill.


Not that it needs to be related to music, but I'd like to make a little compare and contrast. One great advantage sports have over music is that if you are the champion, no one can take that away from you. Kevin Garnett knows that (see previously posted videos.) They can never take that away from him. Not the same with bands, either in historical viewpoint or in a living music career. It's not even "knowing how to take criticism," it's just hilarious to see people like "oh that's not good music." Like, what the fuck do you know? (A: If they are writing that on an internet comments section, probably nothing.) That's not the funny part--that's the part that if the artist is smart, they should go ahead and control to some extent; the funny part is the assumed power of the audience.

Check this out:

That's the stream of the new SUNSET album, which I'm listening to for the first time right now. Initial thought: Yesssss. 2nd thought: I've heard multiple people introduce it to me like "its a really long album, you kind of need to take it in 2 sittings." What the fuck? Are you guys trying to prepare me for it, or do you yourselves just need to man up? This record is a much easier listen than Bright Blue Dream, and although I loved that album, I loved it for certain specific things that I place a high value on (most prominently its willingness to take chances and its attempt at expanding a sonic palette.) This new album on first listen is a much, much better record, and a much easier listen. Its longer, but its lighter. Seven Samurai is 3 hours and 20 minutes, but that doesn't change the fact that every second is necessary and masterful. Go ahead and put your trust in this record and fuck what I think. (Me: "...much better record" Ideal You: "Your opinion has no affect on my life" Ideal You if you happen to be Bill "I'm smelling what you are stepping in. Let's jam.")

(This next bit was originally a parenthetical, but it got so long I'm just making it a paragraph)
Why don't I go ahead and give a specific example...I'm listening to Graveyard Dog right now, and it's actually the perfect one to use, because it's a reworking of a Soundteam song, so I have something to compare it to. The drum fill in this version doesn't build up to this like "oh hey! This is the climax!" type moment. And by avoiding that, it allows breathing room and forward motion. It doesn't have to take it down afterwards and build it back up. It's more playful, and its more suggestive. I mean look, the whole song is just the circle of 5ths, but as opposed to the old version its given to us in like 40 different ways, each of them basically just as delightful as the previous. In a word, it's kaleidoscopic. I also like the tracking, having it after "Dear Friend (Falling Domino)" which does a similar thing, rolling through styles with instrumentation (klezmer? whoa! and then something that sounds vaguely like Jim O'Rourke to my ears, but totally not.) The thing is, although the clarinet all through the first part of the song sets up the stylized breakdown, when it comes, the drums announce it very clearly as sectionally set up. And the second time an announced section comes around (with about a minute left), rather than repeating the klezmer instrumentation, its abandoned for a new one (more James Bond cinematic to my ears. Which itself is set-up both by the horns earlier in the song and also the (named) cinematicism of "Theme From 'A Perfect Light Awaits Me'") Then again the guitar line in the last 10 seconds for me does the same thing, suggesting the possibility of a third possibility for instrumentation (this one vaguely Hawaiian? Like it matters...)

So to me, the kaleidescope of Graveyard Dog is really set up by the sectionalism of the previous track.


which (before I added in like 3 paragraphs in there) brings me to a hilarious point about the audience. I've heard some say that reading internet comments is a good way to check the pulse of your average joe on the street. More relevant to me is the insights gained by checking the tone of the voice, and it's different for different things: in a comments section beneath . I think it would be hilarious if (even as just an experiment, or an April fools joke, Pitchfork announced they were going to start allowing comments. Especially if that day they posted reviews to records that didn't exist). Right: so check this comment (the only one up as of this writing):

"Sorry Bill, but so far I've really only enjoyed Bright Blue Dream. I really like that album though."

"Sorry!" Like, look dude, you don't have to be sorry, your being sorry is irrelevant. People always thing its about them, like they had anything to do with anything. I read an article where Todd P makes a point about SXSW being a pageant for everyone who wants a piece, but actually has nothing to do with the music. Is this really so surprising? If they were in a band then they wouldn't be there in that capacity, but they are not; they are a certain breed of Joe super-fan on the street. What do they really want? Most of them just want to knock down some shots with the guys, and take credit for any success later. I can not in typed word properly express the derision with which I mention that.

But to clarify, its a specific sort of derision--I don't hold non-music-industry-Joe regular-super-fan in that regard, because in his relation to the artist, his desire to relate and participate doesn't extend into "I want to be the person who makes the decision as to whether or people hear this or not." And this actually also isn't to shit on the labels, or even the booking agents, or promoters. It's mostly for the lazy journalists, the shit talkers, and the grudge bearers, who exist in spades.

And I'm not being all high and mighty here against regular Joe music fan. Anyone who starts with rock and roll ideas has no idea what it means outside of how they relate to it, and I imagine there is a certain amount of similarity to how all youngsters relate to the bands they identify with, and I imagine it always involves "wanting a piece." The best concert experience of my life was (and will likely always be) seeing The Flaming Lips in summer of 2003. Long story short, I got to be on stage in the bunny costume, and in the Austin summertime made it all the way until the encore before taking my helmet off...I was the last one. Afterwards we got to hang out listening to Wayne talk a million miles a minute backstage. It was the best concert going event of my life; I was buzzing on that show for like 4 days, and it was all about wanting a piece and having it given to me, in spades. Just like Kevin Garnett's championship ring. My will of force had nothing to do with me being on stage that day, there was a total element of randomness to it, and furthermore it would never have happened if that band didn't make a conscious effort that part of what they do is this participatory thing (which they have an incredibly long history of doing.) That experience was priceless and cannot be duplicated, and I have great admiration for those who seek to give that experience to others at a similar age, or even to older people looking to reconnect with that feeling, because it truly is in one definition what it means to "feel alive."

So that's one potential audience.

But in my opinion there is a more rewarding way to relate to this entity we call "a band" or "the people who make music and we go see at shows" or whatever.

In my opinion, what the ideal audience member gives is this: their participation, as defined by the band. All comments to the contrary become irrelevant, and the reason the music industry is so easily derided is that its made up of adults who have been given or created for themselves power in the distribution of music, but most often insist on relating to the music against their preconceptions rather than trying to figure out what its striving for and judging it on how well it achieves that/the validity of what its striving for (in a social context, ... , it gets a bit fuzzy here, I'm open to debate on what establishes "validity".)

But fuck that, their iron grip is broken now anyways, we have this thing called "the internet" we know how to use, and if you keep hitting the road and have a show that connects with an audience, and really do everything in your power and work together, they will come. It's really great. And though in this case too it's somewhat of a non-sequiter, its like our friend KG says-- "Anything can happen."

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Anything is Possible: Certified

Yeah baby!!!

For your papa, #16: Check out papa Walton...looks the exact same.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mt. Mix 2

I recorded this about three weeks ago and figured I'd redo it. It isn't flawless, but I've jammed it in my car a bit and I think it might be worth jamming in your car too.

Mt. Mix 2

Beatconductor – Sumthin’ Betta
Kid Gusto – Come With It
Tito Puente – Ran Kan Kan
Biddu Orchestra – Boogiethon (Curtis Vodka’s White Light Orchestra Edit)
The Ultimates – Saturday Love
Estelle feat. Kanye West – American Boy (Dan’s Summer Jam Edit)
Stevie Wonder – All I Do (U-Tern Disco Edit)
D Train – Keep On (Original 12’ Vocal Mix)
B.B. & Q Band – On The Beat
Del Shannon – Gemini (Pilooski Edit)
Chriss Yoss – Wrong Alley Street
In Flagranti - Escapade

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Monday, June 16, 2008

head cleaner

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

smoker's anthem by z-ro


chopped and screwed

[ Interlude ]
I'sa root 4 like a domino and found me' cuzin froze,
soar like an eagle on the porch smokin a
mule den I go sit down pon' de centa',
and fill it up this swisher,
time 2 lick and roll ganja now smoke up,
digest, cums the smoka' time 2 start choke,
now ignite killa, man getta puff hand de' dro since I,m
da' one dats pimpin' da pen and da' who checks da frint doh',
im not goin' 2 put da' sweet out cuz i hear knock pon' de door.

[ verse 1 ]
I'mma getta box phillies from out da' sto' and cum rite bak'
then I'mma roll a phillie fat as a finga and lite that,
lemon lime, hydro and regular pine, u know i like dat,
un da' influence a' sticky theres no need 2 fight back,
cuz I luv it when i be lifted alla' my years be dun' shifted,
one deep be up in da car comin out cuz I'm so talented and gifted,
skoopin up nuthin but playas and we're thang in da same,
nuthin but flippin and sippin, and runnin a train on mary jane,
love it mane. Roolin up and blowin up all day,
posted up in da rear view inn smellin good in da hallway.
Put a wet towel up unda' doh' but it aint
enuff 2 stop da do'do' and lite da pojo,
I'm about 2 rep da logo smoke on in a tinted out 4 doh'.

[ hook ]
Nuthin but swisher smokin 2 nite, anything that you want from
you gotta wait till i get high, I'm not kappin,
[ Find more Lyrics at ]
butonly stinky green is on my mind,
well if you wanna match dis weed well i think we can compromise.

[ verse 2 ]
I'mma huff, and I'mma puff cuz I done made it da' habit from point
a ta' b and even ta' point c im searchin 4 sum cabbage.
Hold up look up in da sky is it a bird?
Is it a plane? No its them dem so lovely its mary jane.
I'll admit I'mma a fiend 4 nuthin but codiene and killa green wit a
24 hour high and lean cuz I'm always smokkin on da scene.
Everybody wanna out me 2 da test,
I'm just tryna ease da tention and stress.
In hale but I gotta "let it go" congested in my chest,
in an attempt 2 bust a long hydroponics got me sprung,
goin broke behind dis woman and willin 2 spend all my funds,
I goota get a fat sack wit 1 double o wit lifted dats 4 sho doh'.
And lite da pojo imma bout 2 rep da
logo smoke on in a tinted out 4 doh'.

[ hook ]

[ verse 3 ]
I'm liter than al, tryna smoke myself into
anotha deminsion pleeze lite up dat dare', cuz i really need 2 calm
my nerves I be trippin dats why I gotta stay smokin and 2 keep all
my fantasies really a challenge and I'm vilently chokin nigga gone
drop 85 mo' sack fatter than a fat back nigga think would we r-a 2
the n-k everyday all day stimulaing in my mind guerilla maab
1 deep and 1 of a kind, betta not crush dat luv,
betta pass if you wanna live, puff puff give on da cool I'm sick
of my buzz acopocko or gold (skunk) get da red air pump,
cuz I'm blowin kill, even if im on paper 4 pullin a caper,
I gotta be blowin steel and you know its real (burnin kill)
put a wet towel up unda da doh', but it aint enuff 2 stop da do'do
and lite da pojo imma bout 2 rep da logo smoke on in a tinted out 4 doh'.

[ hook ]

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Jamie Lidell - Jim

From the handclaps and soul harmonizing of opening track “Another Day”, it’s clear that this is not the Jamie Lidell of eight years ago. Lidell’s first release in 2000, Muddlin’ Gears, assaulted the listener with pastiche soundscapes of vocal and electronic experimentation. 2005’s Multiply was a successful departure from the IDM frontiers explored on Muddlin’ Gears, an album rooted in electro-tinged funk and R&B. On Jim, Lidell has moved further away from his early experimentations, embracing vintage R&B and soul music.

Lidell voice soars over funky and restrained backing tracks, always the conscious center-piece of the song. The backing tracks are reminiscent of Otis Redding’s work with the Bar-Kays in that each instrumental fit’s Lidell’s vocal melodies like a glove. In songwriting sessions Redding would sing horn parts to his backing band, building even the instrumental arrangements vocally. It’s easy to picture Lidell, who would loop and distort his voice into instruments on Muddlin’ Gears, utilizing the same writing process as Redding, crafting each track around the base of a vocal melody.

As a vocal showcase, Jim doesn’t disappoint. Each song is an exercise in soul sentimentality, from the frantically driving piano of “Wait for Me”, to the restrained ballad “Rope of Sand”. Lidell’s voice whispers, croons, and frantically screams for your attention. His charisma is undeniable.

The album’s only drawback is that Lidell’s voice is carrying the whole record. The feel good R&B of his backing band is enjoyable, but can’t carry the weight of the songs on their own. Without Lidell’s signature vocal stamp the songs feel like well crafted genre exercises, acceptable but not exceptional.

Jim’s strengths lie in the immediate accessibility of its focus and undeniable charisma exuding from Lidell’s impressive vocal chops. For a seasoned R&B or soul fan it may not break any new boundaries, but for the uninitiated it serves as a satisfying introduction to a voice that might someday carry modern soul music.

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Boulder Gig Report #2

So I returned to Tusk Saturday night, playing solo.

I don't like DJing by myself for a few reasons. First and foremost, I start to fade pretty hard after about two and a half hours of mixing, at four I start feeling like a zombie.

I saw a few of the same people from last week. Still a lot of bros, but things were a little bit more diverse. Until about 11:45 there was a gray-haired man in his late 40s sipping a glass of white wine and staring blankly at the flat-screen TV on the wall behind me. The television was turned to FuelTV, or maybe it was FuseTV. Either way, there were a lot of skateboarding and surfing videos playing and I have no idea what the fuck this guy was doing watching them.

I began jumping around genres, playing some hip-hop, loungey electronic stuff, and funk edits. I didn't really know what to play, the place isn't a "club" in the sense that people dance. It's a place that people who live in condos go to because they don't want to have to interact with people from other demographics. The bartender complimented my diversity. I tried to monitor the reaction of the gray-haired man the entire time, but he was like a stone.

After the gray-haired man abandoned his glass of white wine, I realized the genre that I needed to play: hip-hop white girls like. We're talking Mo Money Mo Problems, Fantasy, Rosa Parks, Hard Knock Life, The Rain, all the hits. One after another, no filler. I had all five girls in the club going nuts. One guy was dancing with him, it was clear they were wishing they were paying him more attention, he kind of hovered around them.

The girls were an interesting variety that I don't see very often. They were in their late twenties, but were in really good shape and dressed like they were freshmen in college on parade at a frat party. It was pretty sweet. One of the skankier looking ones came up to me and asked for "Freaky Girl" by Gucci Mane. She was pretty obviously looking to get stuffed by one of the guys at the bar that night. It was sweet. Other requests included Soulja Boy and Lil Wayne's Lollipop.

But the real hit of the night was the "Cupid Shuffle". I enjoy the song, I liked hearing it on the radio, but I didn't think it really had much staying power. Apparently it is the ultimate in hip hop white girls like. I played it and everyone in the bar, about 13 people, lined up and did the Cupid Shuffle. If you don't know the Cupid Shuffle, I've included a video of some drunk white girls dancing to it for their webcam. It was later explained to me that the Cupid Shuffle is our generation's version of the electric slide.

After just about the speediest one-man pack-up in the history of speedy pack-ups I got home at about 2:20. I've included a screenshot of my playlist as evidence of how in tune I am with hip-hop that white girls like.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

The BPA - David Byrne & Dizzee Rascal - Toe Jam'

Discobelle posted this video earlier this morning.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Yall Got Ta Fill Me,0,6207875.story

Uhh!!! Double up, Uhh Uhh!!!

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

What's the deal with these ringtones?

Download it for free on the Fool's Gold blog

On the Seinfeld themed Mixtape About Nothing, mixed by Fool’s Gold labelhead Nick Catchdubs, Washington, D.C.’s Wale drips with self-awareness. Samples from the television show are used throughout the mixtape, but never gratuitously, they set a surprisingly appropriate backdrop for Wale’s rapid-fire non-sequitur vocal style.

The production is handled nearly entirely by another D.C. native, Best Kept Secret. The influence of go-go music is found on most of the tracks, with rattling clavs and auxiliary percussion peppering soul-sample heavy hip-hop. The sources are shamelessly recognizable, from Stevie Wonder to Earth, Wind, and Fire, but the identifiable nature of the samples works well with the Seinfeld theme, creating an accessible backdrop for one of rap’s most quick-witted flows.

Wale’s cadence sounds like a mix of Kanye West and Black Thought, taking some of the best features of each and sounding twice as relevant as either of them. On “The Freestyle” he stretches his muscles over Jay-Z’s “Roc Boys” beat, twisting internal rhymes around an impressive string of double entendres and homonyms.

The most impressive thing about the record is how well the Seinfeld theme complements Wale’s themes of self-awareness. He lampoons the music industry without sounding like a pompous indie-rapper. On “The Perfect Plan”, featuring a sampled Jerry and George on the hook, Wale raps about the state of hip-hop’s fanbase. Instead of taking the normal indie-rapper stance on the decline of hip-hop’s content, Wale gives insightful commentary on necessary artistic adaptations caused by the declining importance of record-release Tuesdays and internet marketing.

“The Kramer” is the album’s most serious point, opening with the infamous sample of Kramer’s 2006 racist outburst in a Hollywood Comedy Club. Analyzing the dichotomy of the words “nigger” and “nigga”, Wale starts from an industry standpoint, then moves to the viewpoint of a white fan, and finally to a black fan confronted with the use of the lyric by his white peers. The verses are notably insightful, with apt comparisons to the use of the word “bitch” and a seldom-voiced commentary on the self deprecating nature of the words. While Wale’s final opinion on the slang is as unclear as his feelings on the Kramer incident (he includes Kramer’s apology on the song’s outro), his flow is poised, careful, and never verges on preaching.

Mark Ronson, who featured Wale on Lily Allen’s “Smile” remix and later signed the rapper to his label Allido Records, produces two tracks on the record with the help of DJ Eli Escobar. Ronson’s stamp is noticeable, “The Remake of the Remake” sounds like it could have been a track on Amy Winehouse’s last album. His collaboration with Eli on “The Chicago Falcons Remix”, also featuring the Budos Band, is the fastest and most dance friendly track, the high-pitched go-go percussion swapped for triplet hand claps and pounding kick drums. Baltimore Club producer Scottie B also lends Wale a beat, but it falls flat next to the album’s more detailed and dynamic tracks and lives up to it’s generic title “The Bmore Club Slam”.

Lyrically Wale never missteps. From thematic references like “I get signed-feld with these rhyme skills” to more typical hip-hop punch-lines, it’s astonishing how on point he sounds, especially next to guests Lil’ Wayne, Bun B, and Pusha T on “The Feature Heavy Song” and “The Cliché Lil’ Wayne Feature (It’s the Remix Baby!)”. Although his first verse on the Lil’ Wayne feature falls flat next to Weezy’s, he ends on a strong note, with the line “everybody knows me like the Contra code for extra men”.

Remarkably focused, Mixtape about Nothing, is a refreshing listen. Wale’s flow is relentless, clever, conscious, and nerdy, without succumbing to the pitfalls of any of these labels. The Seinfeld theme never overwhelms the production style, serving as clever understated thematic guidance. Wale’s love and understanding of the show comesacross as clearly as his vocal delivery. He just may be the best rapper alive without a proper record, even when he decides to rap about nothing.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Barkley, Shut Up and Jam

sweatband. yessssssss.

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Monday, June 9, 2008

World of World of Warcraft

'Warcraft' Sequel Lets Gamers Play A Character Playing 'Warcraft'

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don't copy that floppy

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Boulder Gig Report #1

My new friend DJ Senile , a nice guy and talented DJ, invited me to join him and play some records at his Saturday night weekly at Tusk Lounge.

The bar was in a condo community in Longmont, Colorado, otherwise known as the middle of fucking nowhere. The idea of the community is to be self-sustaining, in that no one ever has to leave and interact with people that are not of their exact demographic. There are restaurants and stores enclosed by about 100 modern looking townhouses. At 10:00 P.M when I drove in circles throughout the community, along streets named Tenacity Road, Neon Forest Drive, and my personal favorite 100 Year Party Court, I didn't see a single car on the roads. As a side note I was listening to Music for Airports by Brian Eno, making the whole scene incredibly erie.

After driving around for about 10 minutes through this maze-like yuppie village, I stumbled upon the only place that had lights on, Tusk Lounge. After looking at their website, I expected a rustic or jungle sort of theme. Instead I found orange and green lighting, white Clockwork Orange-esque furniture, and a few nice pieces of Safari kitch (alligator mouth, whip of some sort of "tribal" hair) and placards advertising $3,500 South African safaris. Oh yeah, and a lot of bros.

There were maybe 25 people hanging out drinking, mainly staring at one of three flat-screen TV's playing Ultimate Fighting Championships. Senile told me that tonight was a "fight night" so there were more people than usual. The clientele were mostly people who lived in the condo village. They were all bizarrely tan for living in the fucking mountains and built like they could kick my ass on accident. Late twenties mostly, a few early thirties. Lots of crisp baseball caps, without the stickers, and ironed T-shirts by a company whose name rhymes with Dicksilver.

I tried sparking up a few conversations, and for the most part everyone was really nice to me. One bro wearing a tribal T-shirt and sea-shell necklack knew a thing or two about Austin.

"Austin? I love Austin! You know Sixth Street? Yeah! Bone Daddy's? I love Bone Daddy's! Bikini Bar and Grill?? Oh Yeah!!!"

He patted me on the shoulder and nearly knocked me to the ground, he could have been on American Gladiators or some shit.

Senile and I take turns doing 30 or 45 minute sets. He was incredibly technically competent, it was clear that he was a hip-hop DJ. He could scratch well and his mixes were quick and concise, with a little Kaoss Pad to add some flair. He played mostly hip-hop sure shots, a little bit of house stuff, a Bob Marley song, and that Sublime song about the L.A. riots. 

I played disco edits, some funk tracks, a few accessible hip-hop cuts I thought people might recognize, and some loungey house tracks. People seemed to be enjoying it. DJ Senile made a somewhat nervous comment about me stealing his job. Somebody went on a McDonald's run and offered me a cheeseburger, which I declined. The bar staff were being generous, I had some absinthe, a few pints of Newcastle, and a shot of something called Blueberry Kamikaze. 

At one point while Senile was playing, two of the bro-dudes started pushing each other and the bartender had to kind of break it up. It was sweet. A really attractive woman asked me to play some techno shit that I had no idea about. Another woman in her mid-twenties, who I later found out has a 7 year old child, asked for a Francois K edit, which I would have obliged (probably his version of Arthur Russell's Go Bang!), except my time to play was up. 

By this point in the evening DJ Senile was getting kind of belligerently drunk, and by that I mean totally shit-faced, and talking trash to the bartenders. One of them started calling him DJ Penile, which I thought was hilarious. There was a light fixture which apparently costs $800 hanging over the DJ booth area and he knocked it loose from the ceiling, luckily catching it before it hit the ground. He also propositioned the female bartender to come spend the night at his pad. As a new friend I tried to help convince her, even though I haven't been to his house I told her he has a sweet pad. She wasn't too into the idea and went home.

As Senile was packing up his things the bartenders and I tried for about 20 minutes to convince him to get a cab or let me drive him home. He wouldn't have it. As we're walking out he explains that next week he will be out of town for his grandfather's wake, he is in charge of the eulogy, and offers to let me to hold down the Tusk Lounge for him while he's gone. I agree. He tells me how much they pay, it sounds good, and I follow him out of the village.

At a stop light where the yuppie zoo meets the highway he motions for me to pull up next to him. He explains that he usually runs this light but he doesn't want to risk it. He then explains to me that he wasn't "completely straight-forward" with me about how much I would be getting paid next week, and tells me a figure that is 50 percent more than the original number. This thoroughly confused me. He went on to talk about some networking he was doing in the area, how he wanted to set up some shows. I swear to God we were sitting at this traffic light for 5 whole minutes. I told him we should just run the light. I followed his lead. At this point I noticed he had a sticker on the back of his car that said "" 

A few minutes after I got home I missed a call from him, getting a message making sure I got home safe. It was nice of him.

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Friday, June 6, 2008


So, I just realized two days ago that the Boredoms are basically the best band in the world right now.

Why did it take me so long to realize this? I don't know. but seadrum has me completely hooked.

"You can have sounds echo with your brain, and it feels good. So rather than listening to music,
it`s like having these sounds ringing inside your head, and yourself creating the music.
Sound that`s like you don`t know whether it`s there or not. By having this sound you can
create various musics by yourself, even very different ones, inside your head." - Eye
lifted from the boredoms temple of worship

Also, Eye said this in the NYT: “The snare is a vocal, the kick drum is a bass and the cymbal is a guitar,” which is sort of an inversion of James Brown song arrangement. [wanh]

Oh yeah, and they did this (below) in Brooklyn last year on 7707. Yeah, you read about it already, ok. Eye was saying something about doing something else on 8808 and 9909. I hope so.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Why Music Still Matters, part 1

Ok, that title is totally a joke. If it were a Rocky and Bullwinkle title, the second part would be:


What I Learned From Werner Herzog On Tour

So lets do it. I'm just going to ramble here, you are welcome to not read this, or to take it with a big ass grain of salt, cause I'm going to just go out on a limb here and let it all hang out (AKA bullshit, question mark?). Also, the tone of this was at least partially inspired by Dann's essay on 50 Cent. You have been warned.

Tour. Ha. Honestly the play-by-play wouldn't mean so much. I wrote a play-by-play, which totals about 20 pages single spaced 12 point times new roman font, and will be distributed to maybe 4-5 people, but mainly because they are interested in the trivialities of my life, as I they (AKA not because what happened is some big secret, although I still value my privacy in some measure.) But the summery would be much more useful.

The single most important thing that happened to me on tour is I became a reader again. All that time in the van surrounded by books with fucking nothing to do, and you start reading. The most affecting thing I learned came from a book, not experience, which hypothetically could have happened if I hadn't gone on tour at all. It was in my tourmates book "Herzog on Herzog" which was Werner Herzog talking about a bunch of shit. It was published in the last 10 years, so is mostly retrospective. The singly statement that affected me the most was one he made about the role of the artist (although there's a lot of great shit in there). Basically he said that a society needs relevant imagery to be able to talk about things. In what I understand of Herzog's view (or at least what I took from it) it's the artist's function to create and relate images, vocabulary, references, metaphors, or whatever you want to call it (after all, those are just words themselves) with which society can make analogies to life. This relevant imagery often comes from specialized knowledge, the most recent of which often, but not necessarily, shows itself most relevant (which should be expected).

There are ultimately many goals of creating such images, not the least of which in importance is the survival of the human race. But it goes beyond that, which in my estimation is good for the artist's point of view, since hypothetically the human race would have at least some chance of survival without updated imagery. In Herzog's view it is possible to create a life not just filled with happiness, but with meaning, AKA there is something beyond survival. Maybe this seems obvious to you, but I think its probably advantageous to have some sort of clarity in how a person, pulling against a biological drive towards hedonism in their daily life, is supposed to derive that conclusion.

It is certainly a humanistic goal to update a vocabulary with which people can relate to each other, and it's not a given as to whether in our lifetimes the parameters will be defined by the individual, the march of technology, or institutions with financial motives that will define the vocabulary which frames our lives. In my opinion, it's a constant struggle; the modern day equivalent in many ways to a sociological good/bad, us/them dichotomy that can be viewed as having defined human society for most of our species existence. But I am a humanist, and hold solace in believing that even as circumstances grow dire, the individual will always hold a trump card, that being that if society were to collapse, the individual would once again become the main agent for defining society.

So that was the most important thing conceptually that I came across this tour. There is actually one additional antecedent about Herzog I want to touch on. In his book he mentions his dream of starting a hypothetical film school. The requirements for entry is that a applicant would have to first walk x number of miles on foot. X number of miles was something like 5000 miles. Basically, in his view there is no substitution for that sort of way of relating to the world, and after tour I really can't agree more. If you want to see the world, that is the way to see it. That's where the people are, and the way to meet and relate to them. If a person wishes to be an artist (one who is able to create relevant imagery) that person has to live experiences in opposition to their prior biases. One root of their biases is their personal experiences to date, and the way to rob those experiences of their power is to have novel experiences, and a quick path to novel experiences is to remove oneself from an environment where one might have repeated experiences.

Still, Herzog's focus is of greater importance than that. First, the whole walking thing confines the rate of travel to what can be achieved with the human body. If we are going to address the question "what does it mean to be human?" why should our instrument of measurement be anything but the human body? Relatedly, it defines the survival of the individual as something outside of society, or at least technology. While in our current global society this can not be used as a rule (6.6 billion people could not all survive without farming and distribution techniques), it is important to note for our own decision making that we as individuals (especially in America) are not governed by this fact, and although the arrogance of technological and monetary supremacy is a main problem for our country, the freedom of movement that it provides as is a noble source for internal confidence (it is important to note that while provided, this freedom is rarely exercised. I found it an interesting and depressing comment in Florida made by a garage attendant who pegged our group as musicians and noted we were the only type of people who traveled anymore.)

I just traveled the United States in a car, but really, I'm letting a car (pervasive technology) get in the way of things. I'm making a concession, but that said, a musician necessarily creates something more bound to technology than a filmmaker in my opinion. The filmmaker can choose to create the deception of nature as might be viewed by the human eye, but with the exception of purely vocal music, the musician does not have that option. The human eye is a mechanical-lens-imitated organic technology (derived through evolution), but outside of the human voice, the sounds we describe as music (or the sounds we describe as "from an instrument") are instantly recognizable as synthetically produced, and furthermore the act of recording, or listening to recorded music is in my opinion more intrusive than that of film.

But this is only one way of relating. Although it may be said that this view lumps in the formalities of music theory, including timbre, harmony, rhythm, large-scale form, and even melody as a comment on technology, that is clearly only one angle of approach. The structural difference between relating to film and recorded music is not in the recording process, but rather in the human body, which is to say the eyes vs the ears. And of course the aforementioned formalities of music may all be reproduced by a single human voice (or group of human voices in the case of harmony, unless you want to count implied harmony, in which case, it can still be reproduced by a single human voice.) One of the main methods humans have for concise communication is through language, and therefore it should come as no surprise that much of the most lauded instrumental playing is said to imitate speech patterns (Jimi Hendrix's wah-wah solos being one prime example among many).

So that's the first and really big thing I learned on tour. That's already pretty long, so maybe I'll save more thoughts for a later post.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

cultural study #1

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I Get Money

(Embedding has been disabled for Audio Two's video, search for the Video Mix on Youtube)

In 1987, Curtis Jackson III was 12 years old and living in Queens with his grandparents, following the murder of his mother. If his grandparents subscribed to cable television, he might have seen a music video for “Top Billin’”, the surprise hit B-side from Audio Two’s single “Make It Funky”, on upstart music channel MTV. 1988 marked the launch of Yo! MTV Raps, broadcasting hip-hop into households across America, attaching visual significations to a burgeoning musical movement. It was also the year Curtis started selling cocaine.

20 years later, Curtis Jackson is better known as 50 Cent, and he doesn’t have to sell cocaine anymore. He is the second highest grossing rapper in the world with an estimated 32 million dollars in earnings in 2006 alone. He has his own brand of bottled water, condoms, body spray, a line of shoes under license to Reebok, two video games, a best-selling autobiography, two novels, and a film career. Audio Two, the duo of emcee Milk D and DJ Gizmo, have been relegated to relative obscurity. Their two LPs What More Can I Say? and I Don’t Care: The Album (both titles referential to single “Top Billin’”) sold so poorly that their third didn’t see a release. Milk D attempted to continue a solo career with the help of producer Rick Rubin, but it received little commercial or critical attention.

Despite Audio Two’s lack of future accolades, “Top Billin’” retains certified hip-hop sure-shot status. A golden era gem, it is referenced and sampled by both the hip-hop mainstream and underground. The likes of Jay-Z, Kanye West, Notorious B.I.G., LL Cool J, MF Doom, Danger Mouse, Madlib, and even Ed-Bangette Uffie have paid homage to Milk D’s laid back party rhymes and the disjointed funk drum programming by Stetasonic. But the most noticeable Audio Two reference in recent memory comes from 50 Cent on the first single from his 2007 album Curtis entitled “I Get Money.” Although it did not achieve the chart topping status of 50 Cent’s early singles (peaking at #4 on the Billboard Hot Rap Charts), it was critically lauded and served as a ubiquitous promotion for Curtis, mainly through the success of the single’s music video.

Landing on the top spot on BET’s 106 & Park hip-hop countdown, the music video is an overwhelming piece of work. It begins with an LCD light marquee scrolling 50 Cent’s name in neon blue that explodes in digital flames, replaced with the minty green text “I Get Money.” The camera rapidly zooms and the shot cuts to a tightly framed letterbox image of Curtis blowing out two green candles in the shape of a 5 and 0. The candles are set on stacks of bound $100 bill bundles, as if they were a cake. Out of nowhere Funkmaster Flex declares, “This is the hottest record out.” The camera pulls back to reveal Curtis Jackson wearing a dew-rag, smiling. He wasn’t actually blowing out the candles; he was fanning them with a handful of more one hundred dollar bills.

The song’s production is minimal and aggressive. A dark meandering synth line accompanies gunshot snares, deadened kick drums and lack of hi-hat to create an undeniably sinister backing track. The letterbox frame around 50’s smiling face begins scrolling the text “I Get It, I Get Money” and the 1987 vocals of Milk Dee from Audio Two are sampled into a stuttering declaration of wealth, forming the song’s hook, “I get money, money I got.”

The video’s images loosely follow the lyrical content, displaying visual proof of 50 Cent’s bank balance. As Curtis rhymes about Mercedes Benzes, Jaguars, and Ferraris, the cars are used as stripper poles by a near-naked collection of hip-hop video girls. He brags about writing child support checks before the baby is even born and hands a check for one million dollars to a woman standing next to a 5 year old dressed in matching G-Unit T-shirt and headband. After a catalog listing of euphemisms for money, 50 Cent breaks open a package of Wonderbread to reveal it to be full of even more one hundred dollar bills.

The scrolling LCD marquee from the intro letterboxes the video for the entirety of the song, adding textual reinforcement to the lyrics and images. It follows the song’s hook with the text “I Get It!!” “I Get Money!” and “I Run New York!”, but also divulges from the lyric content, baiting other rappers with lines like “Pay Attention Stupid This Is Hip Hop” and “Watch This Sucka, Curtis Is Comin’ I’m #1”. The neon text declares “I’m Still Undefeated Undisputed, Hahahaha Straight To The Bank.” The subtitles conclude with a smart bit of marketing, a listing of the producers featured on 50’s new album. Curtis sold 691,000 copies in its first week.

But let’s backtrack 20 years. Back to when 50’s sneakers were a few sizes smaller and they weren’t his own signature Reebok model. In 1987, the release of “Top Billin’” by Audio Two was accompanied by a video of it’s own. It begins with a lo-fi digital wipe to reveal rapper Milk Dee drinking milk from a glass bottle.

The first striking parallel between the two videos is the use of textual supplements. Instead of the Technicolor scrolling marquee that letterboxes 50 Cent, Audio Two uses white poster board, held by extras that are presumably friends of the group. The poster-board subtitles stick to the song’s lyrics. Instead of reiterating Milk D and DJ Gizmo’s wealth, they serve as textual accompaniment for the subject matter of the lyrics. The low-budget aesthetic ads to the playful, relaxed and informal tone of the video.

From here things start to get confusing because I have a certain reverence for old school hip-hop music video aesthetics. Production values are so low they’re nearly non-existent. The locations and crowds couldn’t feel more authentic and relaxed. Everyone in the videos just seems to be having a great time, proud to claim the spotlight and show the world how they live. For a fan of old-school hip-hop who wasn’t ever a participant in the early subculture, these videos are a testament to my after the fact nostalgia for hip-hop’s roots.

Audio Two’s dingy production values, candid-style footage of the group, and choice to include footage of a concert performance, albeit one most likely staged for the filming of this video, captures that sense of realism that fuels my appreciation of older hip-hop. But by getting wrapped up in the joyful, asexual movements of Audio Two’s dancers, the genuine excitement of the crowd shots, and the silly milk bottles everywhere, it’s easy to ignore that both songs are essentially proclaiming the same thing. Milk D rhymes about partying, girls, money, and being a better rapper than just about anybody else. 20 years later 50 Cent is rapping about the same things, the difference is that he has the bank account to back them up.

The hip-hop stars of the eighties could not fathom the wealth and excess of rappers like 50 Cent and I love them for it. The bragging about money and fame seem an after-thought to the good times displayed in the video, not the driving force behind them. The depiction of money in Audio Two’s video is so detached from the duo that it’s almost ignorable. The shots of small-faced $100 bills are shown in passing, a quick cut to the bills blossoming out of an extra’s jean jacket pocket. The signification of money isn’t directly attached to Milk D’s image, it is acknowledging a consequence of his success. The shift is subtle but incredibly important. Money is a result of his identity, not a defining characteristic.

Many of the prominent symbols in the videos have evolved to explicitly include money in their significations. Audio Two’s matching embroidered jackets have warped into a bulletproof vest encrusted with diamonds spelling out Curtis. The hip-hop video girls have gone from wearing discreet black leotard pants and tube tops to G-Unit stripper wear. Instead of serving as silly ambiance, children are depicted wearing gold chains and showing a gleeful dependence on Curtis Jackson’s bank account. The charm of these visual signs, formerly rooted in sincerity, has evolved with cold calculation.

Even the chorus of “I Get Money” holds a fundamentally different signification than Audio Two’s original lyrics. The sampled line from the Audio Two song, “I get money, money I got”, is a party-rhyme twist of syntax that allows Milk D to use the words hunnies and hot to brag about his sexual appeal in the following line. It supports Audio Two’s chorus, “What more can I say, top billin’”, by building an image of self esteem that isn’t directly tied to any single signification in the video, but rather Audio Two’s overall success. 50 Cent re-appropriates the line as part of a branding statement, a specific and fundamental idea that drives his image and lifestyle.

I’m not trying to say that Milk D wouldn’t flash a smile if someone put a stack of hundreds in his hands and told him to use them to fan out candles spelling Audio Two. Filming a video for “Top Billin’” in 1987 was a financially driven marketing decision, but also served an important and authentic document of a cultural movement that hadn’t quite yet hit the mainstream. It was an investment into the talent, charisma, and legitimacy of a growing musical genre. 20 years later, “I Get Money” and 50 Cent’s entire mythology isn’t a slap in the face of hip-hop’s original values, but a reaffirmation of their power. It stretches the ideas to their absolute limits, detaches them from their original signification, and hollows the core, creating a social figure whose perfect exaggeration of a culture has come to define it.

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