Wednesday, April 26, 2006

nice rack

the choice is yours

I’ve already got my braggadozidoh on with my pop’s paintings showing up in the April issue of Domino Magazine…
But then my step-dad gets HIS recent show at SFMOMA Artists Gallery reviewed by Peter Selz in the April Issue of Art In America (‘positively’ I mosdefmust add)!

And while I’m at it, pick up Theme Magazine: History Issue for MY first by-line since On The Go Magazine, uh, up and went. It’s a profile of a Malaysian film-maker named Yasmin Ahmad. And, I have to admit, after this free-for-all bloggadozidoh it’s tough seeing an editor get they filthy paws on my silky je ne se quois. But hey it’s nothing I’m not cool with… at least they spelled my name right, right?

"Text Rio Valedor"?!?!?

Ree to the Dizzoh!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

knockin' boots?

work boots

Noz proclaimed Boots Riley of the Coup one of the most underrated rappers of all time putting him appropriately enough next to Chuck D as rapper putting politics into of all of his rhymes. So I was amped and inevitably disappointed at The Coup show last Saturday at NYU’s Skirball Center that was an opportunity for Boots to rip the current administration a new one in the safety of an adoring college educated crowd. But maybe Boots didn’t see that as much of a challenge… preacher and choir and all. Instead the mood was mellow. The show lacked the precise funk of samples that a DJ (Pam the Funkstress was absent) can add to a live show and instead relied on the loose ‘live funk’ of a group of respectable players. Only the prerecorded-track dominated “My Favorite Mutiny” sounded like the booming system necessary to attack ‘a system’… but with the absence of guest mcs Black Thought and Kweli and certain portions of the recorded song, the track felt woefully incomplete. The live version of “I Just Wanna Lay Around All Day In Bed With You” was the best match for a live band and a laid back MC. A heavy dose of personal with a subversive pinch of political is maybe the perfect formula for Boots. And he might agree since he wound up the show with an encore rendition of the brilliant ‘Wear Clean Draws.’ This track has less to do with ‘Black Steel In The Hour of Chaos’ than with Sasha Frere-Jones description of country music in which artists more often than not “choose to tease out the political in everyday life, unpacking mundane acts, many of them compulsory, be it going to work or opening your eyes.”
Cue The Coup…mellow muffled bass with sunshine-through-the-blinds keyboards. Boots sets the scene…
“Monday rush. I’m supposed to skip, but I just found Sunday in your hips”

He dreamily continues into cosmic metaphors for his girls wonderland body and then kicks the years best series of sex rhymes not done by R. Kelly…
“Thoughts wrangled up, legs tangled up, baby do this feel good angled up? Can’t be expressed by a sangle fuck. Wanna gently caress it and bang it up”

But, as he tries to lose himself in the sunshine of his life, the nightstand clock intrudes. Torn between a morning quickie and his 9-to-5, he realizes most of his time belongs to his boss and so the desire to stay between the sheets becomes stronger. The hook introduces a comic falsetto like an exaggerated hip-hop era pimp but it’s really, of all things, just a playful falsetto… something embarrassingly intimate that can make a couple of lovers of soul music share a groggy morning laugh. And then perfectly on cue Morris Day, the perfect complex cliché of the player-fool, the throwback soul-clown for hip-hoppers of a certain age, comes screaming from the past (or is it the alarm clock?) repeating his signature question “What time is it?!” which echoes into Boots’ dream world of a “sick-day.”
Boots philosophizes on the only things he feels he actually controls: intimate moments of the life of Riley. He flips a paradoxical metaphor with a claustrophobic outside and a universe under the weight of his girl and then thoughts of “lost aerobics” are oddly accompanied by a double time handclap creating a mini flamenco-fire with a Wonder-esque harmonica meandering over it. Suddenly his sex / work debate spurs a thought of burning his workplace down if not allowed to head home by 5:02. He taps into a working-class disgust of not getting paid for every second he has to be in service to the boss. Strings come in as he struggles to make his decision. At least the cymbals of the trap set and symbols of the political set (a Jesse Jackson? speech reiterates Day’s query) combine to make beautiful music together…
Boots doesn’t necessarily ruin the mood when he tells his girl “We in bed together like George W. Bush and Sadaam Hussein.” It actually might remind her why she’s probably with him in the first place. “Aw, Boots, you silly…” But pretty serious about it at the same time...

The Coup - I Just Wanna Lay Around All Day In Bed With You

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

'violent' hip-hop

I hope you know that this will go down on your permanent record

Who knew Mr. Len, Kimani, Cee-Lo and Dangermouse were Femmenists?
I guess it makes sense that ‘college radio’ kids of this era would be getting into ‘college radio’ hits of another era but I never thought it would be via hip-hop. The fact that the Barkley boys are ruling Britain like a couple of Arctic Monkeys from The Streets doesn’t necessarily mean they will break-out of US college backpacks but the sound is (and the band members are) recognizable enough to get past limey levels both Dizzee or Dynamitee. The Roosevelt Franklin take on ‘Blister In the Sun’ isn’t quite long enough to be addictive but it creates enough Violent Femmes coincidence to have me daydreaming… Will Def Jux latch onto ‘American Music’ (“I did too many drugs…”)? Can MF Doom chop up the groove for ‘Color Me Once’? Will Kool Keith rework ‘Gimme The Car’? He might just throw it down your throat like Barkley.

Gnarls Barkley – Gone Daddy Gone
Roosevelt Franklin – I Saw It On Oprah

Thursday, April 13, 2006

free time

who likes freeway jams?

If someone told me a year ago that the track that would get me back into listening to Lil Jon crunk hooks would be on a G-Unit-affiliated Freeway joint, I would have imitated Jon’s inquisitive “What?!?” but I currently find myself imitating Whoo-Kid’s drawn out “God… daammnn!”

Some tracks, on the other hand, provide a more predictable, but no-less-enjoyable, combination, like a bouquet of freshly cut perennial flowers in bloom.
Ahh, early Spring!
Even sloppy mixtape versions.

Freeway, Lil Jon – Rep Yo Click
Freeway, Peedi – Hood On Froze

knit wit' it

common denominator?

On April 28th I plan to check out a hodge-podge of a show at the Knitting Factory. It seems to be loosely based around ‘peepworthy’ mixtapes..
One is a real surprise, finally revealing to me what the GLC persona can be: old soul flyness tapping into heartfelt detail with a recurrence of distance (should I just call it ‘cool’). Nice selection of jacks that match the MC well. Ron Isley vocals on ‘One Day’ always win!
One is just hinted at here and here but it seems that the Cuizinier goofy vibe of Vol. 1 carries through on 2 and the culture jacking is as on-point as before… Beyonce, Dem Franchise Boys, Maceo, Bun B, Ron Isley, Yummy, Berlin!?!
One is actually a DVD but A-Trak getting swivvy on the wheels (with or without sunglasses) is a must. I’ve only seen him outside of battle-mode on the Grammys where he was held somewhat in check (cashing) by the Kan-do attitude.
One isn’t ‘one’ at all and if anyone(s) could make the KF party continue (or start) after the performances I imagine it would be The Rubbers (coinage?).

Cuizinier – Only You
GLC (produced by Arrow Star) – Honor Me

Sunday, April 09, 2006

queens reign supreme

queen seated (she got a reason)

Although TI has brought this King shit back I don’t know if I can recognize royalty until I see an actual coronation… a fitted-cap works as a poetic ‘street crown’ but I’m talking about taking it to the real crown heights. Biggie was literally crowned at his platinum party. Slick Rick has worked his royal flyness with kingly robes, red carpets and thrones. So it was a nice surprise to see Remy Ma bring a throne to her stage show in which she declared herself Queen of NY. And she stated it quite convincingly. The Nokia Theatre was filled with her subjects as the around-the-way-girls from pre-teen to grandmother threw their left hand up and then threw their right hand up when Remy lead them in ‘Whuteva.’ Her acapella raps made her at least a couple of new fans since there was no denying the heart of her experiences translated so well into bad-ass bragging. There was complex ‘representing’ going on as she portrayed both the big sister for the girlz from the hood as well their biggest threat when it comes to ‘baddest bitch’ honors. I will be shocked if anyone rocks Rick Ross’ ‘Hustlin’ with as much originality as R-to-the-Eezy did. She flipped the hypnotic sample of “Everyday I’m hustling” to “Everyday I’m fuckin’ him” directed of course at an unfortunate ‘baby mama’ rival. Where Rick Ross falsely brags about “the real Noriega” Remy more believably claims connects to “the real Heather Hunter.” And when she switches “Whip it, whip it” to “Dick be, dick be” with a straight face… well it was clear that she was the fuckin’ boss if not the queen.

new queen Cole

Keyshia Cole, however, was the headliner and she pretty much proved, even without the throne, that she was running things. The obvious frontrunner to inherit Mary J.’s queendom, Keyshia put together an odd show but at no point did she let the crowd pull too far away from her... as if they didn’t want to get as close as they possibly could Her surefire cover of the Mary-blessed “I’m Goin’ Down” by Rose Royce had the audience at “Since you been away…” but her take on ‘Atlantis’ left everyone hungry for stronger vocals and a hook to sing along to. She quickly laughed it off and acknowledged that the audience wasn’t feeling it as much as she was... and the crowd laughed along. Although the show peaked with “I Should Have Cheated” too early in the set, she left the stage immediately after the song was done (much to the worry of the audience) but returned to let everyone know “I had to fix my bra. It’s a new one. I never wore it before.”
When she stepped into the audience, a security guard towered behind her onstage. She tried to wave him off and instead cut the song short. She complained “That nigga be popping in back of my head." Kelefa Sanneh, with a slightly different paraphrase, swears that she was referring to memories of a former beau which makes sense but, later in the show, when Keysh stepped into the audience again, she waved off the security more forcefully this time. And they had to oblige. She explained to them she was safe here, that the audience was there for her and loved her. And, if there was any doubt, she made the audience yell “We love you, Keyshia!” And when she did “I Just Want It To Be Over” twice at the end of the show, it was obvious that she didn’t want the moment to be over at all. When the crowd rocked just as much on the second take, I knew who ruled the evening.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

catching some zees

From the Kanye-like draaag of the non-rhyming words to the harmonized ‘Yeah’ to the Timbo-like beat to the ‘zingy’ hook… tag this one ‘Hit’.
Ak’sent featuring Beenie Man - Zingy

Zam, Zup, zig-zags...
Place to post Pop’s pieces.

Bobby digital video disc

Like a roller-coaster ride yeah…

The panel discussion of the making of ‘Planet Rock’ dropped some gems but turned into a sad (yet electrifying) train wreck!
The discussion was set up to be similar to the panel held last year discussing the making of a Public Enemy album. This panel was moderated by David Toop who called the ‘Planet Rock’ track “weird and empty” but it ended up being one of his favorite records of all time.
Session keyboardist John Robie explained that the track is monophonic with no chords, no samples and no sequences outside of the 808 track and that they found a Roland 808 machine by answering an ad in the Village Voice posted by “Man with 808” who they came to know as ‘Joe.’ To this day no one knows Joe’s last name or any way to contact him.
Tom ‘Tommy Boy’ Silverman recalled that Mr. Magic (also on the panel) broke the record on his show and it went on to sell 5000 copies in a week(!).
Producer Arthur Baker loved the sound of the bass simply mimicking the kick (“There’s no real bassline!”) and recalled how the Soul Sonic Force (not Bam) hated the beat (“They wanted to rap over ‘Jazzy Sensation’ type funk beats…”) and had difficulty rapping over it until MC GLOBE figured out the half-time/double-time technique he called ‘MC Poppin.’ Baker also mentioned that the ‘Zeh-zeh-zeh-zeh-zeh’ (resurfacing as the hook on Re-up Gangs ‘Zen’ last year) was an improvised scat by MC Pow Wow when he forgot the lyrics (ala Cab Calloways’ ‘Hidey-hidey-hidey-ho’). Baker opened a can of worms when he said that the other MCs added to the lyrics and concepts but GLOBE wrote most of it…
After GLOBES long-winded preaching to the audience meandered into him flirting with a “cutie in the third row” the discussion was further derailed by GLOBE and Pow-Wow arguing on stage about who wrote the lyrics to “Planet Rock.” The argument went something like this with Pow Wow stalking the front of the stage and GLOBE seated behind him with the panel…
GLOBE: Pow-Wow, who wrote most of the lyrics for ‘Planet Rock’?
Pow Wow: ‘Planet Rock' was written by Mr. Biggs, Pow Wow and GLOBE!
GLOBE: My man, who wrote most of the lyrics for ‘Planet Rock’?
Pow Wow: ‘Planet Rock' was written by Mr. Biggs, Pow Wow and GLOBE!
GLOBE: Yes but , brother, who wrote most of the lyrics for ‘Planet Rock’?
Pow Wow: ‘Planet Rock' was written by Mr. Biggs, Pow Wow and GLOBE!

And so on…
Sadly the ‘real’ story of ‘Planet rock’ will be muddled by Rashomon-like retellings.
I saw it with my own eyes.


Monday, April 03, 2006

well connected

everything is everything

The sneak-peaks let us know that Treach would be passing through Tony environs this season and although the “Kevin Finnerty and beyond” eps have swung hard (or rather disposed of swing as Jimmy tried on a working stiff upper lip and accent) last nights meandering walk on the path(s) to enlightenment was pretty extraordinary even for The Sopranos. What could be trumping monks set to sue or watching Tony toy with a born-again? Why it could only be Hal Holbrook’s Schwinn using his larynx for one of the last times to school T and fellow fans of the sweet science of bruising on the connectedness of ALL things. And although I hearted the Huckabees Hoffman Ex-dick, I really relished Da Lux’s / Brand Nubian Lord Jamar’s matter-of-fact digestion of the “fact of matter” Holbrook enchilada. “Everything is everything…” Jamar summarized, being one of the best ‘for those that know’ plugs since LL said the Gap was “For Us, By Us, on the down low.” He must have politicked his album title into the script. That album was without a surefire hit (not even approaching the Puba-less “Punks…”) but it did have “Claimin I’m A Criminal.”

And I doubt that Five-percenter Jamar had nothing to do with the plot point that Da Lux was shot 7 times.

Brand Nubian - Claimin I’m A Criminal