Thursday, June 29, 2006


stifle em quick with the gift and the wit...

Pick up THEME Magazine No. 6 / ‘The Word’ Issue.
Profiles of Jeff Chang (by Linyee Yuan) and DJ Krush (by John Lee). Photos of t-shirts in Flushing (Queens represent!). Dope graphic/font work in an article about Ahn Sang-soo (by Maggie Kinsler Hohle with flicks by Yun Sukmu). And the cover story (by yours truly!) called ‘Flip The Script’ covering Eric Cruz’ (Weiden + Kennedy Tokyo) font designs and Aleks Figueroa’s tattoo work; both reviving a "dead" Filipino script called Alibata (or Baybayin).

Monday, June 26, 2006

i am the nicest

Jay-Z performs 'Reasonable Doubt' at Radio City Music Hall
(photo jacked from The Rap Up)

- 3 level stage: Brass up top, ?uest and the Illadelphonics midlevel, full string section foreground with conductors holding baton or mic. All in black or black-tie except the one with the mic. Chandeliers. Lexus.
- I saw the heartbeat and slightly-modified intro being transported from the album to the stage but the Scarface theme-music interpolated into strings caught me out there.
- It was black scarf not a white one.
- The reverse sequencing of songs worked well and adds to Jay’s attempts at getting back to that ‘first song’ which ‘The Black Album’ was supposed to be about but this concert achieved more successfully… and I’m including the encore which had hits from every era. Starting the show in pristine white suit and ending it in T-shirt and jeans made sense. A costume change arc was a concert element not exploited by Hova, unfortunately.
- Damn, Sauce Money, your heft and black suit was working against Hova’s slim, ‘white’ gentleman outfit. This was your moment, duke! Why didn’t you hit CENTER stage!
- The Hustler Symphony Orchestra (including the Illadelphonics) had phenomenal, uh, orchestration. I was with it on the ‘Cashmere Thoughts’ string pluck through the transformation of vocal samples into smooth cello. The volume of sound contributed to the epic-making. It wasn’t about dance beats but the effect was still visceral. This live version of ‘Can I Live’ may have trumped the Isaac Hayes original in my mind. I think?
- The sound Just Blaze provided on ‘Friend or Foe’ was perfect use of a DJ with an orchestra.
- Foxxy’s appearance brought down the house as I expected but it was sad to hear her vocals so off. She looked great and the energy was there… I couldn’t tell if she was getting ahead of the beat because of nerves… or not…
- The faux-fumble feigned by Jay beginning the second verse of ’22 Twos’ may have been a lesson learned from Kane in concert, but waving off the musicians, accompanied only by a screen counting from 1 to 44, as Jay kicked ’44 Fours’ was pure MC originality. It was a moment of well-rehearsed, well-executed drama that Jay doesn’t do much of. He ended the song declaring ‘I am the NICEST!’ and the crowd had to agree. Thanks for reminding us, Jay!
- The added bonus of the musicians working ‘Walk On The Wild Side’ behind the ‘Can I kick it?’ portion of ’22 Twos’ was a multi-layered pleasure.
- Although not feeling the ‘Feelin’ It’ vocals, the extended ending verged into a jazzy big-band sequence that redeemed it.
- The piano introduction for ‘Dead Presidents’ was SOOO necessary.
- Jay handled Biggie’s verses on ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’ as if thumbing his nose at anyone questioning his appropriation of BIG-penned verses in the past. One of the biggest audience rap-alongs came when Jay went into Biggie’s freestyle performed with Tupac immortalized by Mr. Cee. ?uest picking up on ODB yelling ‘Brooklyyyn…!’ and brought the Orchestra into the block chords that give ‘Brooklyn Zoo’ it’s off-kilter bass/base.
- By the way, although, ‘Brooknam’ will now be sipping on ‘Don P. forever’ can I knock Jay’s hustle mode as he is still, apparently, ordering ‘Cristal by the bottle’? Mami’s are still on E and he is still ‘drunk off Cris.’
- There was a split second when the audience cheered for who we thought was Mary J. Blige but turned out to be Beyonce. She was the only other performer allowed to dress in white that evening and it looked oddly like their wedding. I prefer the heart that Mary brings to the ‘Hustle’ chorus but I must admit Beyonce made it her own hitting her notes strong and phrasing the hook in a fresh way. The vocal echo effects were there but were less obvious layered with the string arrangements. Bey-Z looked glamorous as fuck. I don’t think they even touched hands.
- The show ended oddly with some weird anti-climax vibe even though ‘Can’t Knock the Hustle’ was huge. Maybe some of the audience was expecting a full Jay-Z show, y’know, with hits and all. Jay or ?uest must have picked up on that vibe as there was a hasty announcement to ‘not leave, Jay-Z will be back after a ten minute break.’
- The encore was a Flex-like run through hits sometimes not even getting to the vocals before flipping to the next joint. But the heavy and loud version of ‘U Don’t Know’ with Just Blaze and Nirvana video adding to the chaos, was phenomenal, huge, and enough of a reason to by the DVD.
- I had never seen Jay do his sign-language version of ‘Big Pimpin’ as the crowd struggled to complete the verse. But it was cool. Particularly after his most excellent accapella portion of ‘Nigga What.’
- Give Kanye the credit for creating the ultimate hip-hop showstopper ironically called ‘Encore’… Hova! Hova! Hell yeah.

Friday, June 23, 2006

unreasonable doubt

I thought the buzz about Jay-Z forgetting his ‘Reasonable Doubt’ rhymes was some BS ploy to lower expectations for Sunday’s show. But the surprise ‘rehearsal, warm-up, sneak peek show on Saturday is a good indication that the pressure is mounting for NotSoYoung Hov.
A few more things to think about, Mr. President...

I know Mary and Nas will be there contribute their parts but how will you handle the ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’ duet?
Will Clark Kent handle his own ad-libs and will ‘Cashmere Thoughts’ allow him to kick his little ‘drop it like it’s hot’ rhyme.
Will Snoop and Prodigy show up for ‘D’evils’?
Will the ?estlove assembled backing band actually do the pitch down of ‘The Look of Love’ at the intro of ‘Can I Live’? Is an appearance from Isaac out of the question?
Will Foxx Boogie brave the stage and, for that, bring the house down?
Will ‘Friend or Foe’ be the greatest two-minute ‘rap along’ that many of the audience members ever experience?
Will ‘Coming of Age’ be the greatest four-minute ‘rap along’ that Bleek ever experiences?
Sauce Money has to show but will Jaz-O be a hold out?
When the lights go down, the heartbeat comes on and you're up there with pinstripes and white scarf and a puff of cigar smoke chilling the fuck out under a spotlight on the Radio City stage, will I be in THAT moment to the fullest?
Even in the ‘cheap seats,’ son.
No doubt!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

brooknam sippin on…

…Heiney forever?

“Rap mogul Shawn ‘Jay-Z Carter has dropped all lyrics containing references to Cristal Champagne at a gig to mark the 10th anniversary of his hit album Reasonable Doubt….
Jay-Z's spokesman Ron Berkowitz confirms, "You can bet that Cristal will not be in Jay's lyrics on Sunday. What will replace it? Only he knows at the time, because he rhymes on the fly - so don't be surprised to hear something different."…”

My motto, stack rocks like Colorado
order up the Vitamin Water, ‘Revive’ by the bottle
- Dead Presidents

I was popping that Bartles and Jaymes
when all y'all niggas thought it was beer and shit,
- Imaginary Player

You know the shit don't stop 'til the Dos Equis don't pop
-Lucky Me

And sip PBR and get pissy-pissy
Flow infinitely like the memory of my nigga Biggie, baby!
- Hard Knock Life

Can I puff cigars & drink Teca-TEE?
If this is heaven to me is this considered heavenly?
- If I should die

Stella sipper, six dipper, wrist glitter nigga
- It's Hot (Some Like it Hot)

Get a grip bitch, this how I get through life
I buy out the bar, spit Chimay through the mic
- Watch Me

From cats who order Schlitz, play the floor with the Knicks
- Is That Yo Bitch?

Drunk off Bud Light, mami on E
Can't keep her little model hands off me…
Got six model chicks, six bottles Sam Smith’s
Zip, zero, stingy with dinero
Might buy you Aspen Edge, but that about it
- I Just Wanna Love U (Give it 2 Me)

You can't even drink ROLLING Rock on this one
You gotta drink Rolling ROC
- Excuse Me Miss

Private jets down to Turks and Caicos
Keystone Ice caseloads,
- What More Can I Say

Cock the hot pistol and pop the top o’ TequIZZa
And promise you only one thing, to not miss ya
- Murdergram

Cause like that, nigga, never twist the cap of malt liquor
Only pop and droppin Foster’s down my throat, take a swigga
- In My Lifetime (Ski Mix)

All my ladies (that's right)
You pop O’Douls (that's right)
- That's Right (Amil)

And toast Killian’s on behalf of y'all
Too bad for y'all, ain't too many as bad as yours
- I Love the Dough (Notorious B.I.G.)

Poppin' Guiness, shit hoppin' outta your wrist
- Face Off 2000 (Sauce Money)

I'm not a role model
A bad influence got the world drinkin Golden bottles
When Puff was in that tub spillin Mo'
I was at my video, Molson on the speedboat
- Go Crazy (Remix) (Young Jeezy)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

B'day girl

the B-girl stance

There was a Robin Hood Foundation Benefit dinner and concert last night. There were presentations by Jon Stewart and Jay-Z. There were some guests who were invited to the ‘concert only’ so the Daily Show host was not seen. But there was a Beyonce concert. There were three full costume changes and two half-changes where her dress becomes a miniskirt. There were covers of Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, The Jackson 5, Luthor Vandross, and Rufus. There were strong indications of her future in Las Vegas. There was a big band that will soon be replaced. There was a voiceover running down sales figures and awards and career highlights in the middle of the show. There was a line where she mentioned “my ninth grammy!” There was no shame in her game.
There were sing-alongs and soul clap lessons for rich people.
There was interpretive dance, tap dance, ballet and that dance where Beyonce ‘forces’ everyone to check up on it. Sadly, there was no ‘Check Up On It.’
There was a parasol. There was a reminder of the stupidity of the line “Charlie, how your angels get down like that?” There was great appreciation of a fan (not fanatic) that blew Beyonce’s hair around when she stepped out on the runway part of the stage.
There were four back up singers on ‘Lady Marmalade’ who predictably showed folk what ‘soul’ singing sounds like.
There were a lot of vocal effects on B’s mic… particularly extremely delayed echoes.
There were burly gazzillionaires acting funky and drunk bujillionaires yelling “Do ‘Crazy In Love’… that’s what we came for!”
There was, surprisingly, no ‘Déjà Vu’ as in “Before I leave I’d like to debut for you my new single from my upcomingblahblahblah…”
There was no excuse for the lack of a cameo verse by her boyfriend on ‘Crazy In Love.’ (He was BACKSTAGE, for the love of Cristal!)
There was a little warmth but no overabundance of personality or improvisation. There was a lot of tight well rehearsed, expertly executed clockwork showmanship and glossy entertainment by a stunning looking young lady who can sing and dance for about an hour, no problem.
And for that, there was much rejoicing.

Since Jigga had stage fright here’s another take on his (and her) verses by the Snow Patrol... mistakes and all.

Snow Patrol – Crazy In Love

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

tokyo drift (part 2)

- I guess shrines and sake go together like monks and beer (not churches and liquor stores).
- Couldn’t afford plastic bowl of ramen from restaurant row (damn… like 90 bucks for the floating chopstick arrangement) but dug the chop shop and container store. The faux crepes looked like pizza.
- Dope Prada store in Aoyama by Herzog & DeMeuron. Dig the parking lot, dressing room and bubble windows.
- Omotesando Hills Mall by Tadao Ando only makes his churches look better.
- Tod’s building by Toyo Ito wins because it sits next to old stuff and trees as well as telephone lines.
- Stealth Stussy on the edges of Sakuragaokacho
- Very cool Cowbooks in Aoyama and Naka-Meguro (dig the steps in the bench leg)
- Bridging Shibuya and Harajuku hoods was the Kyu-shibuyagawa promenade. Had a great mix of ultra-contemporary with this new wave of ‘homey’ Scandinavia with a few old remnants standing ground.

Two tracks from The Definition Vol.2 Mixed By DJ Agetetsu picked up at Homebass Records:
Simon (produced by A.I.P.) – Street Banger
Chris aka Lucifah feat MIKO 晋平太(produced by _ of Zipsies)- My Crew My Hood

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

sneaker heads

it's gotta be the shoes

I really played myself by not catching Brian Jungen’s show in New York.
He flips old Jordans into ‘cyberpunk’ (the streets have their own uses) versions of West Coast aboriginal masks… amongst other incredible transformations of ‘industrial’ to ‘indigenous.’
Montreal don’t play yourself.

Monday, June 12, 2006

tokyo drift (part 1)

- ANA plane to Tokyo has a camera under the nose of the plane so that the slow runway taxi provides a wide-angle view of an unpopulated concrete and asphalt abstraction. Yellow and white guidelines arc past or direct the view. Add classical music or synthesizer tones and you’ve got an ominous Kubrickian cinematic title sequence. Cool and scary vibe before takeoff and I’m not even afraid of flying.
- Asian jet-lag is a muhfuckah
- The hotel has a Szechuan restaurant with food designed by Iron Chef Chen Kenichi. Perfect MaPo Dofu spiciness and jet lag unfortunately do not mix.
- 4 AM taxi ride from Shibuya to the legendary Tsujiki fish market cost about as much as all of my subway rides for the rest of my nearly-two-week visit.
- Lost in Tsukiji market amongst cigarette smoking fish handlers, Styrofoam boxes and , oh yeah, fish, big fish, little fish, red fish, … “There ain’t no way we’re gonna find Sushi Bun!” (the restaurant we are looking for.) We line up behind some hungry folk at a joint without any English signs. We are treated to incredibly fresh and fine fish. I’ve easily paid thrice the price in NYC for comparable quality. The owner stops me after I snap the chef. Smiling big on our way out, wifey asks the name of the joint. The owner says “Sushi Bun.” And now we’re even happier.
- MUJI is like a GAP (unfortunately, unless the gear came in XL, I was nowhere near fitting into the clothes unless I adopted the skintight steez.) plus IKEA (if I had a kid the trike would’ve been bought!) with an excellent café (nobody does French pastry like the Japanese!), great convenience store (bitter melon snack chips!) and the most modern stationery stuff you could ever want, all branded and packaged to perfection.
- Hard to tell if the Harajuku ‘dress-up’ phenomenon is ‘between’ movements but at this point the ‘bandaged’ look is more interesting than the Lolita look (popular amongst men, by the way). The abstracted Minnie Mouse might be a spin-off of the Lolitas but a couple folks really stood out.
- Often, impossible to tell the difference between school-girls, ‘sexy’ older school-girls and grown women dressed like school girls. I’m not being perverse here. Really.
- Kit Kat flavors: Green Tea, Red Bean, and Fruit Parfait. (And of course a little ume and apple gum and Crunky for the road).
- Beverage vending machines seem to outnumber the crows.

A couple tracks from the DJ Jack Herer Mixtape I picked up from the Mousouzoku Store
般若 - おはよう日本 国際Ver.
Romero S.P. - ???

Sunday, June 11, 2006

temporary relief

Guess who’s not quite bizzack?
Still jet-lagging but in the Greenwich mean time and in between time some temporary relief is in order.
This never-before-seen-by-me State Prop vid has surfaced via our lord and savior, YouTube. It features Peedi Peedi Crakk on both the ‘Criminal Background’ and ‘Temporary Relief’ halves.
Odd, yes?
But I can only hope it’s some sort of buzz strategy for the upcoming album. Uh, OK, post-Neo-strategy, I suppose.
Video note: When Dame raises the bottle in the line-up is Peedi rolling is eyes?

Bonus: Here’s Boola (re)making the track. “Anybody can do it…” (Part 2 has the heart of it).
It goes a one, two, three and…