Friday, May 31, 2013

THUMP Presents: Disclosure - "When a Fire Starts to Burn" (Electronic Chuuurch)

THUMP is the newly-launched "Electronic music & culture channel from VICE," who have now teamed up with Disclosure to produce the gripping visuals for their latest video-single, "When a Fire Starts to Burn." Brothers Guy & Howard Lawrence are prepping their debut full-length, Settle, for a world-wide release June 3-4th through PMR/Island Records; Over the course of the past 4-6 months, they've managed to produce videos for thumping UK Garage album tracks like "Latch," "White Noise," "You & Me," and leaked countless others online. Supremely Internet-savvy listeners could have reasonably heard up to 7 of Settle's 14 album tracks by now and ones featuring heavy-weights Jamie Woon, Jessie Ware, and Ed Macfarlane (Friendly Fires) still have yet to be heard. Disclosure have effectively become one of London's BIGGEST ticket festival acts this year, spear-heading a 90's-tinged House revival, without even having a proper album out yet!

Bo Mirosseni was recruited by THUMP to direct "When a Fire Starts to Burn," which will remain exclusive to the site for 2 weeks before going viral across the rest of The Internet soon thereafter. Based around it's central sample of a zany televangelist priest wailing "When a fire starts to burn, right and it starts to spread, she gon' bring that attitude home..." Mirosseni has packed "Fire" chock-full of Southern Pentecostal imagery including snakes, sweaty dance freak-outs/exorcisms, an impassioned sermon, and plenty of awkward, head-scratching moments. While Guy & Howard Lawrence are surprisingly absent, the rhythmic church-goers have been perfectly synched up with "When a Fire Starts to Burn"'s Electronic bleeps and blips. From what I'm hearing, Settle is a close runner-up for Electronic Album of The Year (So Far), right behind Daft Punk; Ahead of it's June 3-4th release date, Settle is currently streaming in full over @ The Guardian, for those interested.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

In My Fantasy, We're Running Wild: Jessie J, Big Sean & Dizzee Rascal - "WILD" (Luxury Rap?)

Newly buzzed-n-bleached British songstress Jessie J has recruited 2 sharp-tongued rappers from both sides of the pond, Dizzee Rascal & Big Sean, for her latest genre-blending single, "WILD." It's the world's first taste from her forthcoming currently untitled sophomore album, which has already been described as quite the sonic departure from Who You Are (2011); But on the other hand, Jessie J herself dually described "WILD" as "a very small reflection of what the album sounds like" and noted that she's still as nervous as she was when releasing her debut full-length. In addition to shaving her head on live TV back in March, Jessie J's become something of a British mega-star, gaining additional notoriety as a judge on The Voice UK. "WILD" comfortably sits @ #42 on iTunes' Pop Charts after being released about a month ago and has raked up nearly 1,500,000 YouTube views in just a matter of days. Needless to say, this is a very different Jessie J than most Americans initially heard on her B.o.B.-assisted wholesome/sassy break-out single, "Price Tag" and and it's companion Pop radio-friendly follow-up, "Domino."

Ushered in by complete silence, besides high heel-on-floor clatter, Jessie J slowly disrobes down to some sort of classy-looking bra and high-waisted bottom combo before dramatically launching into "WILD"'s opening refrain; "If this is a dream - won't open my eyes. Am I asleep? No, I'm alive." Inter-spliced between shots of revealing leopard print body paint, Jessie J slithers her way across various sound stages through out the black-and-white Emil Nava-directed music video. Following a slight beat [tempo] switch-up, enter: G.O.O.D. Music (Def Jam) foot soldier and rising emcee, Big Sean. I have to say, he's rocking a fairly odd-looking shirtless fur coat get-up and honestly, kinda raps a little off beat. But strangely, this club-ready Urban R&B-tinged jam somehow seamlessly melds "Hot Fire" Rap skills and Jessie J's top-notch singing chops. Following her questionable "D-D-Dizzie" intro, Grime figurehead Dizzie Rascal appears on-screen with a witty East London-accented verse about his sudden rise to fame, which keeps in line with the track's pre-established overall theme. While Jessie J's busy finishing up her currently untitled new album, Island/Universal Republic will release the WILD EP on July 8-9th, in the meantime.

Winnipeg's National Treasure: Remy Shand - "Where Are We Going?" (Remy Records)

Suddenly re-invigorated Winnipeg Soul-Funk crooner Remy Shand has been largely and mysteriously in-active for the past 11 years; Although he recently re-emerged, quietly forming a "Remy Records" YouTube channel, and slowly uploading new/unreleased music. "Where Are We Going?" seems like the most fully fleshed out and complete-sounding track from Shand's recent batch of self-made videos, which also includes: "Mark Gonzales," "ROLLERGIRLS," and "Lust." Remy Shand's recent stream of output's supposedly culled from an immense back catalog-worth of music that includes, but isn't limited to the CANARY cassette (1996-97), a ready-for-remixing bedroom jam... and finally, "Where Are We Going?," a lesser known Blue Note era Donald Byrd nugget (later re-recorded by Marvin Gaye). It's attached video description briefly details that 100% of the track's instruments and vocals were recorded/mixed by Remy Shand @ Hollywood Dan's Sound Lair. Shand pieced together found footage from [Stewart] Wilensky's 1960's documentary, "Greenwich Village Sunday" for his seeming comeback video. I guess only time will tell what Remy Records has in store for the eagerly-awaiting masses, but it looks like Remy Shand is finally ready to bag those long-overdue Grammys! For fans of Blue-Eyed Soul both old and new: Sinatra, Mayer Hawthorne, Smokey Robinson, Justin Timberlake, etc.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

JASH Presents: Major Lazer, Bruno Mars, 2 Chainz, Tyga & Mystic - "Bubble Butt" (Eric Wareheim)

Here we have the second Major Lazer post of the day; Yeah, I guess I could've augmented that Macklemore piece [below] to include it, but I really think "Bubble Butt" deserves it's own post. I can almost picture it now: Diplo and Eric Wareheim hanging out, watching TV and drinking beer, seeing the old school "Baby Got Back" video, and wondering how they could re-create it for 2013 A.D. It's more or less a companion set of visuals meant to go along with last week's "Bubble Butt" (Remix), which features Bruno Mars, 2 Chainz, Tyga, and Mystic - None of whom actually appear in the booty-licious Wareheim-directed video ha. I'd personally like to think that when he's not jet-setting back and forth across the free world, Diplo hangs out with the infamous Tim & Eric cult-hero, who's had a hand in creating the twisted bionic soldier of the zombie apocalypse Major Lazer mythology.

"Bubble Butt" chronicles the transformation of 3 self-proclaimed "fucking whores" turned, as Mr. Chainz would oh so eloquently say, big-booty hoes. A Godzilla-sized flying ass-monster injects the Lady GaGa look-a-likes with some sort of instant ass-growing serum and their lame house-party suddenly turns into a crazy sexual rump-shaking, shimmering Day-Glo dance club. Needless to say, this one's pretty NSFW because as you'd expect, it's chock-full of mondo-butts, bare midriffs, and plenty of cleavage. Major Lazer's long-awaited sophomore album, Free The Universe, is now available on Secretly Canadian/Mad Decent, while you can conveniently pick up LAZER STRIKES BACK (Vol. 1-4) over @ Soundcloud.

Free The Universe: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - "Can't Hold Us" (MAJOR LAZER REMIX)

Diplo has been a very busy man lately; a full-length with Snoop Lion, that new Major Lazer record, produced a track for Mac Miller, formed an audio-video channel with Skrillex & A-Trak, etc. Sometimes it's pretty easy to forget that Thomas Wesley "Diplo" Pentz is a former Philly teacher who just so happened to single-handedly pioneer Hip-Hop/Dancehall/Moombahton/Dubstep. Fully employing his Major Lazer alter-ego, Diplo's latest creation is a remix of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' recent mega-hit single, "Can't Hold Us." Diplo then recruited 1st Klase to re-work to Hip-Pop beat into an Island riddim, which Trinidad-based rapper Swappi 4D proceeds to lyrically shred to pieces! Essentially, all that remains from the original are that Microsoft Outlook piano lick and Ray Dalton's smooth "Can we go back, this is the moment. Tonight is the night" central hook. Macklemore's verses seem a little haphazardly spread across Major Lazer's Trap/Reggae-tinged re-work, maybe a little lost amongst all the Island clatter, and sounds slightly off beat. But don't get me wrong, overall, "Can't Hold Us" (Major Lazer Remix) is a very catchy, inventive, dance-ready remix just in time for all those summer beach parties! Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Major Lazer's latest albums, The Heist/Free The Universe, are now available @ your local record store; The latter features sprawling vocal assists from everyone from Bruno Mars to Peaches.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Boom-Bap, Original Rap: Roc Marciano & Cormega - "Ruff Town" (Marci Beaucoup?)

Roc Marciano makes what a Hip-Hop purist would best describe as "real Rap;" It doesn't take long to realize that Marciano & Cormega are highly-skilled wordsmiths, who could easily out-rap most guys without use of a proper beat (a cappella). We're kinda talkin' about the Thin Lizzies of Underground Hip-Hop... often referenced, admired, and copied by your favourite run-of-the-mill rappers. It's almost crazy to call something as immaculate-sounding as "Ruff Town" a mere loosie, but it really doesn't seem like a whole lot more than just that. Effectively 1/2 of a NOT super-group [M.A.R.S.] along with Action Bronson & Saigon, "Ruff Town" may or may not end up re-appearing on Roc Marciano's forth-coming third full-length, Marci Beaucoup. It's rumored to be a 100% Marciano-produced affair with nothing less than top-notch guest features from Freeway, Ka, Guilty Simpson, Boldy James, Knowledge The Pirate, M.A.R.S., and a few re-offenders from Reloaded (2012). Macri Beaucoup should be out by late summer, possibly co-released by Man Bites Dog Records and music video/commercial director Jason Goldwatch's Decon imprint.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Misadventures of Mr. Moot & Mr. Witz: Kanye - "New Slaves" @ Eastern State Penitentiary (Philly)

Headed into Philly on a whim with my buddy Mike last night (Friday), speeding down 676 and over The Ben Franklin Bridge. Kanye's site listed 22 new projection cities across America/Europe, including 3 planned Philly locations; Eastern State Penitentiary's guerrilla-style showing was listed as 10:30-11:30. I called up my girlfriend once we got there, which was around 11:10 and only waited about 10-15 minutes longer amongst a group of roughly 100+ people trying to decide which side of the street to stand on. A black panel van with some sort of New York labeling pulled up and after knocking into someone's truck, pulled out a generator and started setting up as the crowd got more and more restless, starting to block the oncoming late night traffic. Kanye's so damn obnoxious... like who would really think to project their face on building sides across the world from 9-12 @ night!? It's almost like he's gotten progressively crazier since The College Dropout, instead of mellowing out as he's a soon-to-be-father. "New Slaves" was preceded by a TRON-looking grid before counting down with snapshots of old advertisements, strewn across Eastern State Penitentiary's 184-year-old Fairmount Ave. facing stone front.

Once again, it's pretty wild/awesome that a largely unreleased track that's so openly racist and features lines containing the blatant misuse of words like nigg*s, dick, fuck, pussy, bullshit, etc. can simply play for nearly 3 minutes in the middle of the city on a brisk May Friday night without ANY police interruption whatsoever! From what I understand, The Franklin Institute and Barnes Foundation weren't exactly happy about "New Slaves"' impending take-over; a spokesman stated, "[We] have no knowledge of tonight's planned projections [and we] do not want the projection(s) on the side of The Franklin Institute & The Barnes Foundation," which were scheduled to happen sometime between 9-10:45. The video's final frames segues into a shot of text that simply reads, "JUNE EIGHTEENTH," a date that just so happens to be Kanye's new album (Yeezus') long-rumored and only recently confirmed release date. Mac Miller, J. Cole, Goodie Mob, and Quasimoto are all releasing new material that very Tuesday in an honest attempt to chart. I think I'll end this one with a few shock-worthy bars from Mr. West himself, "You see, it's leaders and there's followers / But I'd rather be a dick than a swallower."

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Action-Packed Saskatoon Rock "N" Roll: The Sheepdogs - "Feeling Good" (Patrick Carney)

Here's the scenario: Late to work Wednesday morning, the minutes are quickly ticking away past 8 o'clock and I'm whizzing down Route 77. But in the end, late's late and I'm not really too concerned. Seems like I always [inconveniently] manage to catch Preston & Steve (hands down, one of Philly's best morning radio shows) when they're playing music rather than cracking jokes, gossiping, etc; a track was soon cued that I later learned was The Sheepdogs - "Feeling Good," which I equate to a mix between The Black Keys/Queens of The Stone Age. The Sheepdogs' self-titled fourth album doubles as both their major label debut and commercial break-through, for all intensive purposes. While Ewan Currie, Leot Hanson, Ryan Gullen & Sam Corbett formed The Sheepdogs in Saskatoon, CAN around 2006, they became "The First Band to Ever Grace The Cover of Rolling Stone" in August 2011 after months of intense competition and 1.5 million votes cast online. That's when the band linked up with Atlantic Records (Warner Music Canada), who I'd guess used their major label muscle to recruit Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney and Rolling Stone editor Austin Scaggs, dually acting as the album's co-producers.

Amongst the Shazam-included links was a hyper-link to "Feeling Good"'s music video that re-casts The Sheepdogs as heroic, terrorist fighting action figures! I was instantly reminded of Nickelodeon's unique late 90's variety show KABLAM, it's "chuckimated" live-action mini-series Action League Now!, in particular. C'mon, doesn't anybody remember the disjointed adventures of The Flesh, Thundergirl, Stinky Diver & Meltman!? I know I'm incredibly late discovering this great Rock "N" Roll band just now, since "Feeling Good" was uploaded way back in January and released The Sheepdogs as early as Sept. 4th. Now, back to the video... The Sheepdogs' red emergency phone rings while they're @ band practice and the action league slides down their fire pole as they're called to save the day! It's perfectly complimented by "Feeling Good" and if you didn't know any better, you might think you're watching a cheesy 70's action flick; The Sheepdogs enter the jungle by Jeep, helicopter, speedboat, and motorcycle and quickly happen upon the evil ninjas' secret lair. We're talkin' guns, fire, hand-to-hand combat, scantily-clad women, bloodshed, dynamite, chainsaws, plenty of Rock "N" Roll, etc. "Between the physically demanding stunt work and the 200-day filming schedule in Cambodia," laments frontman Ewan Currie, "it was by far the most challenging project we've worked on to date!"

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Clinton Sparks Presents: Macklemore, 2 Chainz & D.A. - "Gold Rush" (Hip-Pop Hooray?)

Let's face it, there's a certain breed of Pop-injected Hip-Hop that's mainly meant for spoiled-rotten suburban white girls, slutty socialites, college co-eds with "daddy issues," etc. We'll just call it "Hip-Pop," for lack of a better term... Not to say that it can't be mildly good/catchy from time to time, but you're not gonna get the street grit of Wu-Tang or social commentary along the lines of Common. Anyways, when it comes to radio-friendly Hip-Pop, I'd say Macklemore & 2 Chainz are quite arguably 2 of the sub-genre's BIGGEST Internet-certified super-stars; each releasing 2 of 2012-13's more popular mainstream Hip-Hop albums, The Heist and Based On a T.R.U. Story, respectively. So, it makes complete and total sense that Boston-based Hip-Pop producer, Clinton Sparks enlisted the 2 rising emcees to appear together on a track for his upcoming album, "Disco Ball & Chain" (Def Jam). Sparks then recruited Chester French crooner and Rick Ross' right-hand man, D.A. to supply "Gold Rush"'s buttery smooth central hook, which debuted on Boston's very own JAM'N 94.5 frequency right around dinnertime Tuesday evening.

While he effortlessly manages to find the pocket, keeping his head afloat amongst a wide array of Rock "N" Roll accents, Macklemore ferociously raps on the track's second verse: "Dolce Gabbana, Prada, Ralph Violet / No nada won't holler / Going for my pockets / Gold digging in my wallet / You better holler at Ross / I'm not coping them all, I'm still shopping at Ross." Def Jam & Photo Finnish Records plan to co-release "Gold Rush" digitally on June 4th, while Clinton Sparks chips away @ his star-studded Disco Ball & Chain album. With all that said, I'll give Macklemore & Ryan Lewis some props because "Thrift Shop" somehow managed to sell 6.2 million+ copies without any major label backing whatsoever; plus "Can't Hold Us" is a genuinely catchy Hip-Hop track with a pretty damn EPIC sea-voyaging music video [featured above] that you probably recognize from those Microsoft Outlook commercials that have been brutally engrained into your brain. 2 Chainz on the other hand, is basically a complete piece of shit excuse for a rapper. "Birthday Song" is just alright on mute, thanks to all the big booty hoes and general non-sense. And for what it's worth, Tauheed Epps' long retired former handle, Tity Boi is a WAY more amusing and attention-grabbing rapper pseudo-name than 2 Chainz!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Welcome to Zamrock: Madlib - "The Mad March" (Rock Konducta, Limited 300)

Madlib is quite easily one of the most prolific and criminally under-rated rapper/producers in all the land; But any tried and true, well-versed Hip-Hop head will without a doubt champion Otis Jackson Jr.'s multi-faceted skills to the end! Madlib unleashed 13 staggering Madlib Medicine Show full-length albums/mixtapes last year under his "Beat Konducta" guise in just over 12 months-time. Every once in a while, he'll randomly drop some tunes under one of his many AKA handles, which include but aren't limited to: Quasimoto, Yesterday's New Quintet, Supreme Team, MADVILLAIN, The Last Electro-Acoustic Space Jazz & Percussion Ensemble, etc. and he's produced neck-snapping beats for everyone from J Dilla to Freddie Gibbs. Mr. Jackson, who's managed to keep a pretty low profile for the first 1/2 of 2013, is gearing up to release an Odds & Sods-style Quasimoto comp. But a little while before Yessir Whatever's upcoming June 18th unveiling, he'll unleash just 300 copies of a limited press Rock Konducta 45.

In preparation for an upcoming June 7th San Fransisco gig, Madlib hand-picked super-crate digger/Now-Again record exec. Egon and Emmanuel "Jagari" Chanda, the last remaining member of infamous 70's South African Rock band, WITCH. He's previously devoted countless DJ sets, worked a few Funky beats into Beat Konducta In Africa, and plans to head to Zambia to hopefully record a collaborative album with Yasiin Bey (Mos Def). "Zamrock" is actually a long-forgotten micro-genre of South African Rock hailing from the land-locked nation of Zambia; Madlib Invazion plans to "ramp up its undertakings to document the lost gems from this isolated, yet genius movement in 2013" and have linked up with Urban Outfitters to bring a Zamrock-inspired collection to the masses and he's supposedly working on a full-length Rock Konducta album, too. Madlib's label imprint have pressed up a limited run of 300 Rock Konducta 45's, which will be available on a first-come-first-serve basis in San Francisco, Friday June 7th 2013 @ 1015 Folsom, doors 10pm 21+.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Now My Beard Look Like Uday & Qusay: Action Bronson - "Strictly 4 My Jeeps" (VICE Records)

Action Bronson's almost effortlessly able to cram a bunch of misplaced syllables into "Shit on my chest, shoot colors like a Care Bear / All year see me tan, hopping out the van... Eat steaks off a cold plate, stoned listening to Coldplay," a few of the introductory rapid-fire lines of "Strictly 4 My Jeeps" sounding like a high school English teacher on Speed; It's more or less, the lead single from an upcoming joint mixtape with rising Brooklyn producer, Harry Fraud that's been quite ingeniously dubbed Saab Stories. Noisey, sister site of Bronson's new-found major label home (VICE Records) premiered the Jason Goldwatch-directed music video mid-Monday afternoon, which was preceded by a collection of equally EPIC behind-the-scenes footage. Fraud has previously produced a number of scattered beats for Action Bronson including: "Jar of Drugs" (2011), "Muslim Wedding," "Mean," and tracks from Adrift/High Tide EP.

Goldwatch quite fittingly described "Strictly 4 My Jeeps"' overall feel as "a Rap video that makes fun of Rap videos, but it's still an amazing Rap video." Musical friends RiFF RAFF, Mayhem Lauren, Big Body Bes, and a handful of other shady characters managed to show up for the recent Queens-drenched shoot. We're talkin' about voluptuous [gross] women, Bronsolino's cartwheel/slam-dunk combo, some impressive weight-lifting, dripping wet hotties, a face cake, plenty of bumpin' & grindin', a tricked out gun metal Jeep, a rack of lamb feast, etc., if you somehow still need convincing. Last night, on the eve of his new video release, YUNG RICK PITINO (Bronson) dramatically Tweeted, "Finishing SAAAB STORIES WIT MY BROTHA @HarryFraud RIGHT NOW. THIS WILL BE OUT EARLY JUNE 10,000,000%, no matter what." While he's currently finishing up anywhere between 3-5 projects, Action Bronson is undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with when talking about modern day Hip-Hop titans; one who could easily out-rap your little brother's favourite "Ringtone Rapper" without really even trying!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Pardon, I'm Gettin' My Scream On: Kanye - "Black Skinhead" (New Slaves)

Rest assured, I guess you could say it was a pretty BIG week for Mr. West, who's finally come back into prominence for something else besides banging a Kardashian or walking into a street sign. Late Friday night Kanye debuted his new pseudo-video for "New Slaves" projected across 66 building sides in 10 major world cities; It's second unreleased 1/2 is rumored to feature Frank Ocean and the track supposedly utilizes an un-cleared sample culled from Hungarian Prog-Rock band, Omega. We're talkin' about guerrilla-style take-overs @ Wrigley Field (Chicago), Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Sydney, London, Paris, etc. projected out of make-shift truck/projectors sprawled across the night sky May 11-19th. This is all most likely part of an early promo campaign in support of Kanye's upcoming album [possibly titled] "Yeezus," which may or may not be out as early as June 18th. Earlier in the week, he took a break from rigorous recording sessions in Paris with everyone from Daft Punk to Chief Keef... and made a surprise appearance @ Adult Swim's Upfront event, where he performed inside a see-through pyramid and ranted about celebrity. Then, Kanye made his triumphant return to SNL this past Saturday night along with host Ben Affleck and long-time cast members' Fred Armisen/Bill Hader's final episode(s).

An out-of-character misty, cold rain for May slowly morphed into Sunday as Affleck introduced "the man you came to see," Kanye took the SNL stage for his first performance of the night; Backed by a band full of shadowy figures, a dimly-lit stage set, and a screen flashing old schools ads and sign-age. It almost sounds crazy, but "Black Skinhead"'s built around a sampled melody from shock rocker Marilyn Mason's early hit, "The Beautiful People" (1996). Accented by an introductory "AAAHH!!!" and a series of primal screams, Kanye rebelliously raps, "They see a black man with a white woman / at the top floor they gone come to kill King Kong... I keep it 300, like the Romans... What do you say to a masked man / this Inglorious Basterd that's rappin'?" The more I listen to it, I'm pretty sure "Black Skinhead" samples elements from Jock Jam staple "Rock and Roll" (The Hey Song), too. Just mere hours before SNL, Kanye's baby-momma-to-be Kim Kardashian Instagrammed an image much like the one above along with the cryptic message, "#Yeezus #RedYeezy's #SNL #Tonight #NewSlaves #YeezySeason #DONDA #June18."

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Witzard Presents: "It's Nostalgia, Only If I Can See It" (Brian Walsby on Black Flag/FLAG)

FLAG. Black Flag. FLAG. Black Flag. Flag Black. Flack Blag. It does get confusing, no? Well, not for me. Black Flag was a band that changed my life. It was like entering a portal and I would never be the same ever again afterwards. The band dominated over everything in my little universe. No matter how many line-up changes, no matter how many drummers, no matter whatever stylistic change the band went through, I liked ALL of it. And it wasn't until the very end of their career that I realized that something was wrong in my perceived Punk Rock paradise. Black Flag were the band that almost broke up in time. With a major emphasis on the word "almost." Also, I had decided that Black Flag founder Greg Ginn must have lost his marbles. And this was BEFORE he broke up his own band. Here is why: The month is January. The year is 1986. Black Flag are playing their first big show with yet another new line-up at The Stardust Ballroom in Los Angeles... D. Boon of The Minutemen had died recently. All of that seemed like it was floating in the air, it was hard to not notice that. Gone were Bill Stevenson and Kira Roessler. They made up the last great line-up of the band, along with Ginn and long-standing frontman Henry Rollins. The two newer guys, although decent players, seemed more akin to being in a band like Quiet Riot than Black Flag. At least that was the impression I got watching them. Bassist C'el [Revuelta] looked like Lou Diamond Phillips and played like Rudy Sarzo. Drummer Anthony [Martinez] was a decent drummer, but no Bill Stevenson. I mean, they were okay but the vibe seemed sort of... sub-par, at least for Black Flag standards. Before Black Flag played, Ginn's new instrumental trio Gone played. He seemed obviously WAY more into that than Black Flag. He even had a better guitar sound. Sim [Cain] and Andrew [Weiss], the drummer and bassist that Ginn played with, were monster players, and if you go through the material that Ginn wrote for the Gone record, you have a lot of great riffs that would make up some good Black Flag material. So, the question I had for myself as the night unfolded was this... "Why aren't Sim and Andrew in Black Flag? Why does Gone exist?" It made no sense to me.

Bringing things up to date in the year 2013, the world is a far far different place. We live in a world where information is more easily available thanks to the internet and computers. The world is also a much smaller place because of it. And going along with all of that, there is also information that no one really has any business knowing. So, it has been interesting realizing that as a huge fan of Black Flag, none of these guys had stayed real good friends through their ordeal, all of that hard work with little reward, constant touring, an uncompromising vision of total self belief... well, let's just say that even though some of the ex-members get along, there aren't any annual "Black Flag Picnics" where everyone gets together and toss Frisbees and share good times. In the center of all of this is Greg Ginn. Ginn's reputation has been covered and dissected so many times that it is sort of pointless to bring it all up on another blog like this one, time and time again...All I can say is that he remains a contradictive personality; equal parts detested and admired. He played the greatest guitar solos and wrote the coolest riffs ever, and is admired for it. He is equally detested as a counter-suing businessman who is famous for not paying SST [Records] bands for whatever they were owed. This is all water under a very old bridge. Everything I have heard by him since Black Flag ended stinks. That is just my own personal opinion. Like I said at the start of this, I think he lost his marbles even before Black Flag broke up. Enter FLAG: It's an ensemble consisting of a bunch of key ex-Black Flag members and one Descendent. In the band is first vocalist Keith Morris, first bass player and songwriter Chuck Dukowski, third singer and then second guitarist Dez Cadena, drumming god Bill Stevenson and his longtime partner in The Descendents, guitarist Stephen Egerton. It's a pretty great line-up for a bunch of dudes to hammer out old Black Flag songs. Taken at face value, its sort of a tribute band and I have no problem with that. They serve the songs very well. It makes me smile. I like the idea of FLAG. And these are some of my favorite players period. Look at Stevenson and Dukowski playing together. You can't really beat that, I think.

In the meantime, Greg Ginn has recruited Black Flag's second vocalist Ron Reyes and teamed up with two other dudes to put together...the new Black Flag! Unfortunately, the whole thing seems (to me, at least) rooted in paranoid spite. That is just the impression I get. They have released two new songs on The Internet and both of them are not as bad as people are saying but also not as good as what people are saying. They are both merely okay. Even sort of crappy later day end-of-the-line Black Flag throw-aways like "Kicking 'N Sticking" or "Society's Tease" seem more brutal in comparison. I would love to be surprised by the new official Black Flag [album]. I don't think I will be, but we'll see. Since both of these two ensembles appeared, there has been sort of an Internet war over who is better or even the idea that both of them just suck, and it is an embarrassing thing for all concerned, that the "legacy" of the band needs to be left alone. The words "legacy" and "Punk Rock" just don't go together for me at all. Who cares. They can all do whatever the hell they want. No one is forcing anyone at gunpoint to do anything (although that would be an interesting sort of twist...members of Black Flag storm-trooping into people's homes and yanking them off their computers and marching them to their concert at gunpoint) and so I shrug my shoulders at any perceived sense of legacy. The words "cash grab" and "nostalgia" also pop up. Last I checked, you need money to survive. Unless you would rather be a train-hopping hobo that eats dirt. If people can make money playing instruments, I am all for it. No one is getting hurt. And the horrible idea of "nostalgia" is always thrown around as this horrible, living in the past sort of nonsense. But I ask you. Do you have a record collection? You do. It's pretty big. Well, isn't that nostalgic? What's the difference? So much for nostalgia. If this was a competition, I am totally on the side of FLAG. I just think that ultimately, Black Flag's founder obviously didn't really take care of business on his end of things. The various ex-members of Black Flag obviously "have had it" and they are paying tribute to this music and these songs in a way that they just could never do with their once fearless leader. They look happy doing it, there is joy there but also some unspoken "FUCK YOU" sort of thing too. Maybe I'm wrong there. Look at it this way: The member of the equally legendary Minor Threat all GET PAID for their work all of these years later, thanks to Ian MacKaye. Perhaps Greg Ginn needs some advice? Who knows. This moment will not last forever, so enjoy it or not.

Ever since anyone can remember, Brian Walsby has been an active member/fan of the Hardcore Punk scene, since around 1984 by most accounts. He's a very talented graphic artist and skilled drummer who's drawn cartoons for countless long-gone zines including but not limited to Maximum Rock and Roll, Flipside, Ink Disease, XXX, Suburban Voice, Sixty Miles North, and Guillotine. Walsby has also designed album/single artwork for everyone from The Melvins to Scared Straight. Upon moving to Raleigh, North Carolina in Spring '86, he took a brief hiatus from drawing to focus on his other budding passion: ferocious drumming! Brain Walsby has self-admittedly "been in too many bands," which includes time spent with WWAX, Double Negative, Snake Nation, Patty Duke Syndrome, Shiny Beast, and Polvo. Once the 90's hit, Walsby got back into doing his artwork nearly full-time and currently does freelance work upon request; quite often uploading black-and-white caricatures and zany album re-creations to his personal Facebook page. Brain Walsby has even managed to compile and publish a book-sized collection full of artwork dubbed MANCHILD, which is currently up to Vol. 6. Lastly, I'd lie to thank Mr. Walsby for penning such a comprehensive piece and look out for an EXCLUSIVE, in-depth The Witzard interview, coming soon to a computer screen near you!!!

Motor City Movers & Shakers: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. - "Dark Water" (Joe Baughman Clay-mation)

Right off the bat, "Dark Water" vaguely reminds me of "Strawberry Fields Forever"'s droning Psych-Rock wail mixed with a strong 90's Weezer Pop sensibility and a Funky, white boy Dance-able groove. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. unleashed their latest release, Patterns EP last month on Record Store Day (April 20th) and now, it's conveniently available on iTunes for just $3.99. Joshua Epstein & Daniel Zott are 2 like-minded, working class Motor City natives whose Facebook Biography blatantly suggests, "The idea being, that if one can accept a band being named Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., then you've already opened yourself up to listening to anything the band can come up with. You've already decided to leave expectations behind." For all intensive purposes, if you don't count newly-added members Mike Higgins (drums) and Jon Visger (keys), I don't think it'd be TOTALLY unreasonable to sonically compare Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. to another wildly prolific 2-man Blues Rock band, The Black Keys. Anyways, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. have now shared Track #3 of 4 from Patterns EP, "Dark Water;" It's companion music video was directed/sculpted by Joe Baughman along with animators Daniel Jeter, Michael Baughman, and sculptor Rachel Phipps. Included within are various means of visual art: clay-mation, a stage show with moving scenery, classic videography, etc. to tell the twisted story of a ballerina [possibly] lost underwater. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.'s "a little more confident-sounding" second proper full-length, The Speed of Things is supposedly slated for a sun-soaked late Summer release on Warner Bros.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Random Lounge Jazz Memories: The Stepkids - "Get Lucky" (Daft Punk & Pharrell)

"We had to do this song... Only way to pay tribute to Daft Punk, Pharrell, and Nile Rodgers in one fell swoop. Enjoy y'all," The Stepkids Tweeted Tuesday morning; Diehard Daft Punk fan or not, I suggest you take a break from that Random Access Memories "leak" for a sec. and check this one out, my friends! Unlike Thomas Bangalter & Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo's Electro-Funk-tinged original, The Stepkids have successfully infused "Get Lucky" with a sort of cheese-less Lounge Jazz vibe. The Stepkids are signed to genre-blending Indie Hip-Hop label Stones Throw and it's 3 extremely talented multi-instrumentalist members -- Dan Edinberg, Jeff Gitelman & Tim Walsh -- have separately worked with everyone from Alicia Keys to 50 Cent. Since inking a deal with Stones Throw a few years ago, the band has released The Stepkids (including "Legend In My Own Mind"), Sweet Salvation EP, and a forthcoming album that's been dubbed Troubadour. "Get Lucky" isn't only a Funky Daft Punk re-make... But the second cover in what's starting to look like a weekly video series, which was spearheaded last week with Justin Timberlake's comeback single, "Suit & Tie." "The band is finishing their new album Troubadour, for release on Stones Throw in Fall 2013."

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Ron Jeremy of Soul-Funk: Har Mar Superstar - "Lady, You Shot Me" (Cult Records)

While well-groomed "heart-throb" types like Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke are busy concocting smooth baby-making Future R&B, lone scantily-clad showman Sean "Har Mar Superstar" Tillman's bringing the Ron Jeremy to old school-sounding Soul-Funk/R&B. Har Mar Superstar's been doing his thing for the past 10-15 years now and has toured or worked with a wide variety of underground/mainstream talent: Ben Lee, Fabrizio Moretti (The Strokes), Father John Misty, Britney Spears, Neon Neon, Beth Ditto, Jennifer Lopez, and Drew Barrymore. "Lady, You Shot Me" were supposedly crooner Sam Cooke's last words, which now effectively doubles as Bye Bye 17's lead single, of sorts.

Julian Casablancas' newly-formed Cult Records quietly unleashed the 10-track album a little while back on April 23rd. Bye Bye 17 feels like Har Mar Superstar's first honest attempt @ some tried-and-true LEGIT R&B music and while I'm really only vaguely familiar with his music, Tillman's voice kinda reminds me of a middle-aged Rod Stewart growl. It looks like Har Mar Superstar's whole refined Soul-Funk vibe has even manged to spill over onto "Lady, You Shot Me"'s just released, Warren Fu-directed grainy music video. We're talkin' red-tinted stage lights, choreographed dance moves, 2 beautiful back-up singers, slick rhythm changes, various stages of undress, and a mysteriously absent horn section.

Planet Earth Is Blue & There's Nothing I Can Do: Chris Hadfield - "Space Oddity" (Int'l Space Station)

I wonder if when David Bowie penned "Space Oddity" nearly 45 years ago, he'd ever imagined that an astronaut would ever release a re-recorded version from outer-space!? Fast-forward to May 12, 2013: Just 2 days before ending his 5-month stay on the International Space Station (ISS), Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield uploaded a unique "Space Oddity" cover. It's the first music video filmed in outer-space and the backing track itself was arranged back on Earth by producer Joe Corcoran and pianist Emm Gryner. Hadfield has been surprisingly active on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, etc. while working on the ISS; Constantly posting spacey photos, video content, answering fan questions, and recording original music while "sitting in a tin can, far above the world." Chris Hadfield is currently headed back into Earth's atmosphere and should land on solid ground sometime between May 13-14th, while "Space Oddity" has already managed to rake up 500,000+ views! It's even been seen by The Thin White Duke himself, who ecstatically Tweeted "CHRIS HADFIELD SINGS "SPACE ODDITY" IN SPACE! Hallo spaceboy..."

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Drag City Presents: "Andy [Kaufman] & His Grandmother" (Anti-Comedy Album?)

I can vaguely remember my parents watching Taxi re-runs on either Nick at Nite or TV Land when I was a kid; Starring alongside Tony Danza, Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd, Jeff Conaway, and Andy Kaufman (Latka), who would all go on to have varying degrees of success, following the show's 1983 finale. Although generally lumped in with stand-up comics, Kaufman was more or less a hoax/performance artist and anti-comedian, for argument's sake. Andy Kaufman's career really only spanned from 1974-84, yet included countless appearances on SNL, Taxi, 11 Letterman visits, The Dating Game, Johhny Carson, Fridays, Inter-Gender Wrestling [women], and a bloody staged on-air 1982 fight with Jerry "The King" Lawler, etc. Some of his most infamous stunts include: reading The Great Gastby to an unruly audience, taking 24 bus loads of fans out for milk and cookies, opening for himself as washed-up lounge singer "Tony Clifton," a pre-concieved TV brawl with Michael Richards, and much more largely misunderstood work.

Chigago-based Indie Rock label Drag City is planning to release Andy Kaufman's first Alternative Comedy album, nearly 30 years after his untimely death, this upcoming July 16th. Andy & His Grandmother was pain-stakingly culled from 82 hours-worth of micro-cassette tapes recorded between 1977-79. "Andy regarded the micro-tape recorder as a fantastic new way of capturing his hoaxing, and carried it with him everywhere, for use at any given moment... Real life was the ultimate frontier for him, and these tapes demonstrate the heart of Andy's comedy. With gusto, he involves those closest to him, as well as total strangers, in put-ons, falsehoods and other provocations, pushing the limit on logic and emotional investment in everyday situations from the trivial to the deeply personal until any suspension of disbelief is out of the question for all involved, and everyone becomes fully immersed in whatever scenario Andy [Kaufman] is suggesting as the new reality," the imprint lamented in a statement. Drag City then recruited a team of esteemed funnymen to help edit together Andy & His Grandmother; a team built around writer/producer Vernon Chatman, editor Rodney Ascher, Kaufman's former sidekick Bob Zmuda, and SNL all-star Bill Hader to record additional narration.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Hell Hath No Fury: Pusha T - "Numbers On The Board" (So Me-directed)

I'm just gonna go out on a limb here and say that "Numbers On The Board" is my favourite Hip-Hop track of 2013 [so far], although Pusha T is quite honestly far from my favourite rapper. I mean, Wrath of Caine is great and so were/are Clipse. But Pusha T never really had that one stand out, defining moment for me and I think "Numbers On The Board" is finally it! Parisian director/graphic artist So Me filmed it's companion music video during a break in recording sessions for Kanye's top secret new album; Rumored to feature Daft Punk, Chief Keef, Odd Future, Skrillex, John Legend, and 2 Chainz and could be out as early as June 18th. Kanye & Chief Keef both make brief cameo appearances towards "Numbers On The Board"'s end, pulled from Pusha T's forthcoming G.O.O.D. Music debut, My Name Is My Name (July 16th). Whilst spitting rapid-fire verses over a gritty Don Cannon co-produced instrumental, Pusha T struts through a barren French wasteland... setting off road flares and rapping outside of a "Cine Sex" store, some sort of religious statue, deep dark hallways, and gloomy-looking rooftops.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The FADER & Noisey Present: Mr. Muthaf*ckin' eXquire - "Noble Drew Ali" (Nightfall at The Thames)

Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire (formerly known as Mr. MFN eXquire), a guy who frequently rhymed about "drunk driving on a Wednesday," frequently hangs out with the self-procliamed Adderall Admiral Danny Brown, and featured a blue-haired drunken stripper on his Lost In Translation mixtape cover. Somehow, he signed a major label deal with Universal Republic last year, released Power & Passion EP, followed by self-released The Man In The High Castle, and then disappeared for the better part of the next 6-8 months. It's been revealed now, after the fact, that Mrs. MFN eXquire [mother] was diagnosed with cervical cancer, which propelled him to take an imminent break from touring, do a "180 and kind of look @ [his] life," and ultimately sober up. Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire is currently prepping a comeback mixtape of sorts, mysteriously titled Kismet. It's rumored to drop "very shortly" and feature a bunch of like-minded young rappers... Danny Brown, Flatbush Zombies, Goldie Glo, Heron, and The Passion (Gorgeous Black/Cokey Briccz).

The FADER ended up premiering "Noble Drew Ali" mid-Tuesday afternoon, which is now available for download @ his newly-founded Life Is Passion site along with last week's "Draped In Gold." eXquire seems to have greatly expanded his reading material and somehow manages to shout-out everyone from Black Panther deputy chairman Fred Hampton to righteous Public Enemy hypeman, Flavor Flav; expertly rapping, "40 ounces at the round table / crown full of thorns made for some barbed wire cables... 9 chains on my neck, you could weigh my pain / They gon' say, he came, he saw, and he conquered!"
EDIT: "Anyone who might have thought Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire was fucking around can pretty much shove it, because he's back and better than ever, as proven by his new video for "Nightfall at the Thames," which finds eXqo spitting "Noble Drew Ali" a capella and then cavorts in a see-through hot tub with a young lady for "The Cauldron"' (Noisey).

Between Two Ferns: The Lonely Island - "Spring Break Anthem" (#WACK WEDNESDAYS)

It's a comedy match made in heaven that I'm surprised Judd Apatow or Todd Phillips haven't thought of pairing up before: The Lonely Island, James Franco, and Zach Galifianakis. Former SNL alum Andy Samberg and comedy partners Akiva Schaffer & Jorma Taccone announced their third upcoming Comedy-Rap masterpiece, The Wack Album earlier this week, which Republic will release on June 11th. It's rumored to feature appearances from the likes of Justin Timberlake, Kendrick Lamar, Solange, Lady GaGa, Pharrell, Billie Joe Armstrong, Adam Levine, and T-Pain; and I'm guessing The Wack Album will most likely re-use previously released Digital Shorts/non-album singles like "3-Way (The Golden Rule)" and "YOLO."

The Lonely Island will release new material every Wednesday from now until June 11th in an effort that the self-proclaimed Frappers lament, "Wack Wednesdays, it's like #GOODFRIDAYS... But way wacker." "Spring Break Anthem" starts out like a web-isode of Zach Galifianakis' infamous talk show, Between Two Ferns and features a disjointed interview with James Franco "from the movie [Ounce] The Great & Powerful" ha. Galifianakis then introduces the musical guest, The Lonely Island, who's janky studio performance suddenly morphs into a Spring Break mega-party. "Spring Break Anthem" is quite obviously ragging on all those orange LMFAO-listening college co-ed tools. But it's done so well that this could very likely become one of Spring/Summer 2013's biggest smash hits, which is fucking great!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Live from a 24-Hour Laundromat: Open Mike Eagle - "Qualifiers" (Alwayz Prolific & Taco Neck)

Art Hip-Hop enthusiast and criminally under-rated California-by-way-of-Chicago emcee Open Mike Eagle has recently linked up with Beats, Frames & Life and producer, Alwayz Prolific (Taco Neck) to release "Qualiifiers." A Hellfyre Club member and Busdriver affiliate, Eagle set up a make-shift stage/studio in a 24-hour laundromat and Giovanni Solis just so happened to film it. okayplayer quite appropriately describes Beats, Frames & Life's video series The Show as "where they take artists they fux with and have them perform in the most random places." It's great because you can genuinely tell that no one's in on the joke; a bunch of people washing and folding their clothes were just treated to an impromptu Open Mike Eagle & Alwayz Prolific mini-show! "Qualifiers" is simply down and dirty Hip-Hop @ it's best, part of which includes ferocious bars like: "Sick days, I got two left / So, I take five, Dave Brubeck / I make Jazz jokes, so I'm flat broke... We're the best, mostly / Sometimes the freshest rhymers / We the tightest kinda / Respect my qualifiers." While it's unclear where "Qualifiers" might eventually end up, Open Mike Eagle & Ras G.'s latest project, Kampala Blackouts EP is now available for download.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Hardcore Mid-Life Crisis: Black Flag - "Down In The Dirt" (FLAG Dissing Note)

Forget about aging gracefully; Life-time Punk Rockers Greg Ginn, Ron Reyes, Gregory Moore, and Dale Nixon Dave Klein (Screeching Weasel) are still as angst-filled, rebellious, and aggressive as they were way back in 1979. Coincidentally and much to their dismay, another sect of former Black Flag members AKA FLAG fronted by Keith Morris are actively touring this summer, too. Greg Ginn & Black Flag are prepping a currently untitled 22-track "new Black Flag" album for release on SST Records later this summer; Track titles are rumored to include "Honey, I Shit My Pants (Again)," "Viagra Blues," "Hair Down The Drain," "A Little to The Left," etc. "Down In The Dirt" was quietly uploaded online late Friday afternoon, along with a tastefully honest note from the band: "SST Records is proud to announce a free download of the first new Black Flag song in many years, "Down In The Dirt" ... ***NOTE: Not to be confused with the 'fake' FLAG band currently covering the songs of Black Flag in an embarrassingly weak "mailing it in" fashion*** We urge you to check out the real Black Flag when they hit your area."

While I'm sure they'll arguably sound better live, this is pretty ungodly terrible; I initially felt bad for Henry Rollins because he was seemingly left out, but maybe he's really the one who ended up coming out on top!? Although I must admit, Greg Ginn's infamous guitar work is still pretty on point and ear-piercing after all these years! DIY Punk fans with a slightly Indie Rock-leaning appetite should check out Dirty Projectors master-mind Dave Longstreth's full-album Damaged re-make, Rise Above (2007), which he supposedly recorded straight from memory after not spinning the album for nearly 10-15 years. Until these guys decide to bury the hatchet and just head out on a co-headlining Black Flag/FLAG mega-tour together, you'll have to look up separate tour [festival] dates, if you wanna see Keith Morris' version, FLAG. He's taking some much-needed time off from Hardcore super-group OFF! to actively rival Blag Flag along with former bandmates Chuck Dukowski, Dez Cadena, Bill Stevenson, and Stephen Egerton (Descendents).

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Roses Really Smell Like Boo-Boo-Booo: Tame Impala - "Prototype" (Like a Version)

"It's one of our favourite songs ever, I think," Tame Impala frontman Kevin Parker lamented before launching into a pretty spot-on cover of OutKast's "Prototype" from André 3000's 1/2 of Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (2003). Guitar/keyboardist Nick "Paisley Adams" Allbrook effectively handles André 3000's echoing double-tracked vocals, crooning: "Today must be my lucky day... Do something outta the ordinary, like catch a matinee, baby." Tame Impala's 5-piece touring band -- which also includes Jay "Gumby" Watson, Dominic Simper, and Julien Barbagallo -- really do one Hell of a job @ channeling OutKast's psuedo-70's Soul-Funk vibe that's smoothly spread across the original.

The band's spirited cover was essentially recorded, tracked, and broadcast on-the-fly during a recent stop by hometown [Australian] radio station, Triple J for their infamous Like a Version segment. Tame Impala EP was re-released along with 2 extra tracks for Record Store Day on see-through red 12" vinyl; But the young Psych-Rock band's discography includes 2 full-lengths, Innerspeaker and Lonerism. While André 3000 is currently working on a Jimi Hendrix biopic, All Is By My Side and Big Boi is headed out on the "Shoes for Running" Tour with Killer Mike, an OutKast reunion album has supposedly been in-the-works since around 2008-10.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Bad Boy for Life: Janelle Monáe & Erykah Badu - "Q.U.E.E.N." (Space Soul-Funk)

Miss Janelle Monáe is actually Big Boi's former fun-loving muse, who's now signed to Diddy's own micro-universe, Bad Boy Records and first appeared on Purple Ribbon All-Stars, Vol. II (2005). Anyways, she's supposedly hard @ work on her sophomore album, Electric Lady, which is coming soon. It's the long-awaited follow-up to Janelle Monáe's critically-acclaimed 3-part Space Soul-Funk series, Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase) EP and The ArchAndroid (2010). Monáe recently told Billboard, "The album in general is more revealing. It's more personal. I'm taking a lot more risks on this album" in a pre-Coachella interview. Lead single, "Q.U.E.E.N." embodies Janelle Monáe whole androgynous 50's Greaser chic fashion sense, complete with pompadour.

Director Alan Ferguson conjures up a living museum chock-full of frozen legendary rebels who are suspiciously brought to life by the neck-snapping groove. Janellle Monáe & Badoula Oblongata (Erykah Badu) are part of Wonderland's very own Project Q.U.E.E.N., which the robo-narrorator refers to as "a musical weapons program in the 21st century." I mean, we're talkin' about a chalked up cavemen rhythm section, countless black-and-white stage sets, un-synchronized back-up dancers, a gold-toothed skull record player, etc... Not to mention, "Q.U.E.E.N." slowly morphs into a Funky, Cosby Show-esque ditty that features Janelle Monáe herself spitting some ferocious closing bars, which breaks it down best, "and even when you edit me, the booty don't lie!"

Thursday, May 2, 2013

We Were Merely Freshmen: Action Bronson - "November Rain" (XXL Freshmen 2013?)

Every year around this time, XXL Magazine releases a slightly jaded, misguided XXL Freshmen list. It's kinda dumb because it usually features seasoned guys like Action Bronson (29) right alongside "young bucks" like Joey Bada$$ (18) and the term Freshmen generally connotes fresh meat. XXL 2013's Freshmen Class: The Mixtape includes 17 previously released/rare tracks from Bronson, Ab-Soul, ScHoolboy Q, Joey Bada$$, Trinidad Jame$, angel haze, Logic, Dizzy Wright, Kirko Bangs, and Travi$ Scott. It's a damn good thing the DJ Drama-hosted mixtape's up for free download online; aside from Action Bronson's "November Rain" (Party Supplies), a Joey Bada$$/Bronsolino team-up, ScHoolboy Q's recent single "Yay Yay," angel haze freestyling over Purity Ring, and Ab-Soul/Harry Fraud's "Back Then," its' pretty fucking terrible!

A former top chef, Action Bronson is hands down one of the most skilled emcees in the game, who could easily MURK 9/10 $-accented Ringtone Rappers in 2 minutes or less! Here's one of Bronson's grandiose lyrical assaults, gutted straight outta "November Rain:" "Throw acid on your cheek, now you're a work of art / Beauty's only skin-deep, they'll still accept you. Stuff a 1/4 pound of drug inside the asshole of a German Shepherd / My jacket made of Cuban Leopard." From what I'm led to believe, Action Bronson's currently working on 2-4 separate projects including Saab Stories and Blue Chips II, in addition to his long-rumored VICE/Warner Bros. debut; Blue Chips and Rare Chandeliers are definitely worth checking out, if you're still slackin'!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Finger Lickin' Good: Unearthed Beastie Boys Interview, 1985 (Remembering MCA)

Just a few days ahead of the one year anniversary of Adam "MCA" Yauch's untimely death, Blank on Blank have released a newly unearthed 1985 Beastie Boys interview. While it only lasts about six minutes, animator Patrick Smith has created some great black-and-white animation to go along with it; He's really managed to capture The Beasties' pre-License to Ill righteous Punk Rock attitude(s) and even animated ABC News Radio interviewer Rocci Fisch and topic-appropriate graphics to go along with it. The cassette-taped audio itself originates from Washington, DC and covers everything from Madonna's "Like a Virgin" Tour to what MCA dubs "Soul Hardcore B-Boy music." Ad-Rock, Mike D & MCA were only about 18-19 years old, at the time, and were barely even making Hip-Hop yet, having only released Polly Wog Stew EP, "Cooky Puss," "Rock Hard," and "She's On It/Slow and Low."

The city of Brooklyn is holding the second annual "MCA Day" this upcoming weekend, May 4th, in honor of Adam Yauch's life, memory, and legacy; Yauch's childhood playground, Palmetto Playground is being re-named Adam Yauch Park on Friday, as well. Surviving members Ad-Rock & Mike D are currently working on a long-overdue Beastie Boys memoir with Sacha Jenkins (ego trip) that's expected to be released on Spiegel & Grau in 2015. Publisher Julie Grau was quoted as saying, "The Beastie Boys are interested in challenging the form and making the book a multi-dimensional experience... There is a kaleidoscopic frame of reference, and it asks a reader to keep up" in a short New York Times interview. Here's one for all you Londoners: "35 individual framed prints will be on show and for sale in London on May 9-12th, 2013 at Beach London, 20 Cheshire Street, London, E2 6EH. Each print represents a different Beastie Boys track. All proceeds go to Macmillan cancer support," writes graphic artist James Curran.

Tell Momma I Made It: Harry Fraud, Earl Sweatshirt & RiFF RAFF - "Yacht Lash" (Scion A/V)

Rising Brooklyn producer-of-the-moment Harry Fraud wrangled up a crazy/awesome posse of Internet-friendly rappers for his upcoming High Tide EP; It'll feature frequent collaborator like Action Bronson, French Montana, and Chinx Drugz across 5 contained tracks. Lead single "Yacht Lash" positions JODY HiGHROLLER (RiFF RAFF) alongside Odd Future's returning prince, Earl Sweatshirt. Harry Fraud successfully melds together a DIRTY Psych-Rock-drenched Hip-Hop beat, which leaves plenty of room for 32+ bars worth of swagged out bravado. Earl Sweatshirt effectively slays the first 1/2 of this track, only his 10-12th recorded appearance since returning home from juvie in Samoa (Feb. 2012). Sweatshirt laments about his triumphant return to prominence, "Nothin' much to my ethics / Bitch, I'm joggin' like I already won the election / Fuck it, shunning protection... Rest assured, I keep the label embarrassed."

RiFF RAFF on the other hand, spits a steam-of-consciousness final verse that sounds something like Lil' Wayne on crack. The Texas emcee, who first made a name for himself on MTV's From G's to Gents, has cleverly aligned himself with everyone from Soulja Boy to Diplo and is currently working with A$AP Rocky, Snoop Dogg, and Drake on his Mad Decent debut, NEON iCON. RiFF RAFF somehow manages to name-check everything from Aladdin to Versace in his spastic verse, which is accented by Earl Sweatshirt frantically yelping, "Yacht crash, I got whiplash!" Sweatshirt is currently working on his highly anticipated Columbia/Tan Cressida label debut, along with Harry Fraud and RiFF RAFF, who are each working on 3-5 separate projects concurrently. Scion A/V plans to unleash Fraud's High Tide EP this upcoming Tuesday, May 7th.