Thursday, November 30, 2006

fly pelecanos. fly.

george town

I suppose I’m in the ‘middle-class’ of “The Wire” audience, having not seen the whole season months ago but having already enjoyed next Sunday’s episode, “That’s Got His Own,” ‘on-demand.’ Since it is the second-to-last episode of the season and even more jam-packed with jaw-dropping moments than usual, I figured I’d add another drop in the ocean of deserved hype. Here is an interview with Ed Burns from Fresh Air (thanks, Warren!). When Terry Gross refers to Snoop’s nail-gun purchase as a ‘drill,’ please forgive her. Ed Burns seems to.
Burns description of the ‘hip-hop’ influence on young wannabe actors is a brilliant, and maybe unwitting, critique of hip-hop as a whole.

“That’s Got His Own” was written by George Pelecanos, one of the ‘staff novelists’ working with the show’s creators David Simon and Ed Burns.
You can listen to an old interview with Pelecanos by Terry Gross from 1988 and a more recent interview by Kacey Kowars.

Here is a good interview from July with Pelecanos by Peter S. Scholtes for City Pages, but I want to feature a few quotes from Scholtes’ blog that didn’t make the final version of the interview. The unofficial words on future projects are enough to increase the heart-rate of a fan of ‘The Wire’ and Derek Strange novels.

(on New Orleans…)
I don't know if I'm supposed to talk about this, but David Simon just sold a pilot to HBO, and it's going to be in New Orleans. It's going to be about all these musicians after Katrina. Like, "How did they rebuild their lives and still play music?" In other words, the hook is going to be centered around the music of New Orleans post-Katrina.

(on screenwriting..)
And what's the status Samuel L. Jackson starring in Right as Rain?
You never know what's going to happen, but it's all ready to go. It's not in pre-production yet, but the script's written.

(on Tarantino…)
I remember, when I saw Reservoir Dogs, I saw it in pretty much a white audience. And I saw these young guys in their 20s laughing at "Cut it out, you guys are acting like a bunch of niggers." And everybody's laughing and stuff. And then, I was looking around, and I saw a middle-aged black guy and his son, probably innocently going to check out that crime film. And everybody's laughing at that. I could just see the guy slinking down in his seat. Like, "What are they laughing at? What's so funny about that?"
But Jackie Brown, oddly enough, when he was criticized for that picture because of the use of that word, I felt like for the first time it was completely organic to the Sam Jackson character. That guy absolutely would have been saying that. The question is, Why is Steve Buscemi saying it? Why is Tarantino saying it in Pulp Fiction? Why would that guy be saying it to the Sam Jackson character? Sam Jackson would beat his ass, and instead he just lets it go. Quentin is saying it because it sounds cool, because he thinks it sounds cool.

(on parenting…)
I have two sons and a daughter, and I assume we're talking about my sons now. One of them's 15, the other's going to be a teenager soon. They're very street-smart young guys. They're tough. I don't have a problem with that. My youngest son is on the wrestling team. He's very tough. He can handle himself in the street. He wouldn't bully anybody, but there's people that don't even want their kids to know how to fight, and I don't think that's helping them any.
I'm a little different. I mean, for example, the word "fuck" to me is four letters randomly arranged. It doesn't bother me if I hear somebody say it. And I've told my kids that, too. People will look at you a certain way if you say it. They're going to judge you. But the fact is, just think about it, man. There's nothing wrong with it. They know everything that I've done, all the drugs I've used, and everything. I try to tell them, look, smoking pot, it's your choice, but personally, from my experience, as an older guy, I think it's a waste of time. It's not a moral thing. Just think about it. Why waste the time? I try to give them something from my experience. I've wasted a lot of time doing that kind of stuff.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

like a thun scorned

Not chiming in with ‘Album of the Year’ accolades is becoming as blasphemous as disagreeing with the designated ‘Best Show on Television.’ I worship ‘The Wire’ and the long-awaited Clipse album has me saying “Holy shit!” but, cotdamm, it ain’t quite the gospel that was “We Got it For Cheap Vol.2.”

Hearing “Hell Hath No Fury” a few times makes me realize, after all these years, that calling Mobb Deep ‘cold’ dismissed the warm blood coursing through every paranoid verse. It may seem unfair to compare groups that rely on opposite lyrical tactics but they both arrive at similarly cold and slang-heavy environs and the link between the relentlessly dark realms of Clipse and Mobb Deep seems unavoidable and appropriate.

As much as the Havoc and Prodigy recording-personas were consciously shaped and perfected for their second album, they were conveying a worldview (however insular) and, even in Prodigy’s brilliantly blunt (and coded) language, we believed in that world’s existence… even if it was a ‘Queensbridge’ filtered through the heads of the artists (and producers). The Clipsean world is harder to see. Part of that is due to the weird mix of desperate actions sprinkled with new money flash (Hi Pharrell!).

‘Hell Hath…’ often leaves me looking into a snow-globe of shaken storms and eerie smiles, whereas classic Mobb Deep style immerses me in cold sweat. I can’t help but be struck by the near perfect craft of Clipse lyrics and matching Neptunes tracks but that glossy surface discourages me from reaching out for their shadowed perch. The crispy cadence, the mechanized beats, and the clear vocal tone, click together like a well-oiled machine… but I’m still just admiring clockwork a safe distance from the grinding gears.

In the past Prodigy’s kluge of threats formed an imprecise structure that provided a space for this listener. Not a ‘comfort zone’ but something ‘recognizable’ and imperfect. Havoc’s sparse placement of dusty samples over the heavy bass did the same. It was not surface. It was surround sound.
Although Clipse cleverness has no equal, Mobb Deep’s relentless brutality, at it’s best, has an organic quality that never tries to impress with finesse. The lyrics often bowl the listener over with unadorned directness even when chopping the ‘thunny language’ in with English. Oddly, Hav and P seem to present a ‘secret language of siblings’ more organically than brothers Pusha and Malice. No wonder that I admire their beat selections for the Re-Up mixtapes because they helped round out and ground the sharp lyrics.

Clipse craft can generate envy of talent and inspire awe, amazement and appreciation of the song/object that has been made (which I also appreciate in the throwaway intricacies of Cam’ron and Peedi Peedi) but it rarely lets my mind transcend the object or it’s ‘making’. And, although I’d never attempt to define ‘art’ I know it when it changes how I see the world. The paranoia and pain that Mobb Deep pointed to will forever lurk in New York’s shadows. It seems apt to mention that East Coast rap was at a ‘low point’ before the mid-Nineties rebirth with Mobb, Nas, Biggie, and Wu, at least relative to the West Coast vitality. Recent years leave the East Coast in a similar position relative to the ‘Third Coast’ hip-hop. Is it any wonder that it has become an acceptable opinion that Clipse’ style fell from the Big Apple tree of MCs as opposed to it’s southern species?

As much as I can’t quite inhabit ‘Hell Hath…’ it is the first rap album that earns a fair comparison to Mobb Deep classics. There are few higher honors I could bestow on an album. And most of the other critics have already done that.
But before I verge into personal blasphemy by uttering “They don’t make ‘em like they used to!” let me declare the return of a savior that restored my faith in the ‘here and now’ of NYC hip-hop.

Prodigy’s solo video / song ‘Mac 10 Handle’ swooped down like a fever dream angel recently and plunged us back into P’s hellish visions that have been lacking in recent years. Without this heavenly hardcore hip-hop could I even discuss Mobb Deep’s relevance in the same breath as the au courant crafty Clipse? Hell no.

The anticipation for ‘Hell Hath...’ is done and, lord willing, the hunger for the Prodigy mixtape will replace it. Can I get a amen?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

happy propsgiving day!

the ree up

Back from Mexico in time to give muchas gracias…

Big shout to the editors, the guides, the young wisemen, Sean and Jon for not only saving me from embarrassment with my little album review at the back of this months Vibe, with Mathers and Jackson on the cover, but for letting my byline sit on the same page as one of my favorite writers of all time, Greg Tate.

Nuff respect to the Roc-a-fella Blogger contestants at Loosie, Dork and Palms Out and when ya step to Eskay, that’s when ya lost. Thanks for the knock-out, folk!
Pass the stuffing...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

my favorite hue is Jay-Z blue-state

The Bud sponsored Hov may be feeling even more like a Black Republican when he kicks it to the NASCAR dads with Junebug on XM. Jay’s strategic E-Dub and DP connects may offset the ‘Kingdom Come’ leakage (pause) helped by the mid-America big boxes. If he doesn’t work out a rhyme using ‘Esco USA’ or ‘nasty NASCAR’ well… I’m sure I’ll live.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

what it is. what it was.

more contemplative snow scenes

Expectations for an album can’t help but frame an artist for success or failure. Nas and Snoop seem to be succeeding and, as highly as I regard Raekwon, his ramp up to OB4CL2 is also surpassing my already high expectations. Young Jeezy plays on a different field than those three MCs but the bar he has to clear is, none-the-less, higher than most. His latest buzz tape with DJ Drama ‘I Am The Street Dream,’ provides just enough lift on this trial jump to increase expectations even more. There is great 'weighty' stuff here but even Jeezy’s throw away party joints live up to his subtle-with-a-sledgehammer brilliance. Paying homage to Three 6 Mafia (yeah we love to pop collars / you can catch me in the projects like Pat) Jeezy flips Project Pat’s immortal ‘Gel and Weave’ hook to honor his favorite party favors. His rhymes span the hip-hop map from the Bay Area (I got my Stunna shades on / tell me when to go) to Hollis (Adidas shoes / in my trap-star stance) but he holds them in his sphere of phrasing (witness his pronunciation of ‘Adidas’). Although one could easily read contradiction or sloppiness in these ad-lib-punctuated phrases (I came to get drunk, baby / I ain’t tryin’ to dance /… after 4 or 5 shots, 3 or 4 blunts / I just might do my dance…) never doubt that his simplicity embodies precision. It is no mistake that he only mentions coke when mixing it with henny.
On Drama’s latest mixtape the between-cut voice messages remind us how ferocious Jeezy’s personality and voice can sound. Does that frantic energy have a more pronounced contrast with his booth vocals in this sophomore round or is it just easy to forget compared to his mesmerizing and deliberate delivery? Like David Mamet, Jeezy can annoy audiences with affected construction of shoptalk chunks and repetition of phrases (for rhythm in Mamet’s case, for emphasis in Jeezy’s). Those audiences have made a bad assumption that ‘real’ depends on naturalism rather than the poetic. Although I have no doubt that both writers would distance themselves from the word ‘poetry.’
Who is going to make me a t-shirt with this zen nugget emblazoned on it?

All up in the spot and make it do what it do
and that’s exactly what it does.
What it is. What it was.

How real is that? It is what it is.

Jeezy voice mail to DJ Drama
Young Jeezy – All I Need

Monday, November 13, 2006

jaw jappin, bumpin gums, chasin crumbs

“Paul Wall” suspected of killing 24 year old.

A cruel connect with the real Paul’s past.

Friday, November 10, 2006

“…‘bout to catch a case with peedi…”

“…Juelz Santana, where the FUCK you at?...”
Peedi Crakk, Cam’ron, Juelz Santana, Beanie Sigel – Freestyle (‘One For Peedi Crakk’ Beat)

And for those still iffy on the props…
“…Somethin’ for haters…”

“…know what I know…”

“…Dame is alllright…”

“…chin up, chest out…”

Thursday, November 09, 2006

sucker punch

RA the rugged man

Winded and whupped…
“I’m feeling like a Republican!”
Sadly, wishful thinking but, happily, a simile with new meaning.

“I’m feeling like Ron Artest!”
Just sad.

Mobb Deep, Big Noyd – Man Down

(posted with no disrespect to KM)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

out cast

I’m the Ralph Nader of this vote tabulator…

But the more important voting today should be done AWAY from your computer particularly those looking for a change in them key spots like The State Penn, The ‘Oh’, The Mo, Tenn-a-key, Dub A, VA (where ain't shit to do but cook), New Jeruz, tony Montana and of course please rep Minnesota!

Get fired up, folk!

Kaze – Blood Thicker Than Blood

Monday, November 06, 2006

the other triple C

I know Cool and Dre have been p-p-p-pushing C-Ride of Carol City but this DJ Rascal So Serious Vol. 5 mixtape joint sold it to me. Phrasing and pacing switch-ups from double to half and back again. Exaggeration of syllables and vowels (“Not a thing” rhymes with “collard greens”) over signature sunshine state stuttering snares and supersized synthesizers have me doin’ “that I-got-money walk.”

C-Ride – All Day

grease is the word

Dame Grease does his version of a Miami version of a Houston-style hook and a track heavy with drama but replaces ATL based phrasing with a hyped up Drag-to-the-dash. This one has been sitting on my desktop for a while and the hook is still the highlight. Folk might be tired of this style but I ain’t the one.

Drag-On – Shoebox Unda Da Bed

crakk v human crack

P-Crizzle makes it clear this isn’t some Hov / Cam avatar gauntlet-throw-down although it is not clear if the beef surfaced from some sartorial staredown at a soiree. Peedi’s talk of hitting “Juelz with a brick or aluminum bat” might be overshadowed by his threat of “next summer a little gun up in my swimtrunks” (no marco polo) but his spits on the mic with a cobra clutch: smooth movement with the music plus venom.
I find that many rap fans consider Juelz and Peedi to be truly annoying MCs for their vocal tics and so the potential for a battle is a non-issue except maybe in reference to their respective music / business advisors. Other fans will see this for what it could really be: a clash of two of the best and extremely unique vocal stylists from the current wave of MCs. Both of their reactions to a beat should serve as different phrasing inspiration to lesser MCs. They both have learned the power of rhythmic punctuation through punchy exclamations or straight up sound effects (“Ay!” “Rrring”) but also demonstrate complex rhyme schemes often in an avalanche of syllables. I like the scrappy street angle they both can bring and, so far, I’m impressed with the extra work on the backing track (“Oh Boy!” “ONE! ONE!…”).
Seeing them on the Apollo stage a couple years back made me think the Dipset / Peedi connection could generate some interesting collabos.
Not quite the same… but I’m the opposite of complaining.

Jon, are we wagering?

Peedi Peedi – Freestyle (Juelz Dis)

you ain’t cause you not

If you think MIMS (Mims Is My Savior) re: NY hip-hop (which I might cosign) but still maintain disdain for ‘snap’ or straightforward southern styles… then you are a hypocrite. Regional respect links with apt samples but nothing gets in the way of the perfectly spaced bloops and highs. Get it and go DJ!

Mims – This Is Why I’m Hot

Lil’ Wayne – Go DJ

Thursday, November 02, 2006

roc aware

Yeah sure hella are hep that Hovi’s home isn’t of the ‘retirement’ variety. But most still front on the Roc roster.
Take a look out the bandwagon window and bear witness to ancient Roc formations…
Eff a dead link… you get the idear.

hovi movie

n-word Rican

no doubt


'stache house

I like beans

well well well well

cris miss

freeway swings


nic and sig on the mix


joe joins?

s dot carder

feel good good

grey days

repping in 04

free love

(and his girl too)

roc the vote

Time only allows a very quick mention for now…
In honor of the greatest unretired rapper dropping a new long player November 21 (Oh you haven’t heard? I’m gonna come out of “retirement” as well and throw a diamond or two or three up, for the re-up.
For now, please check out the the the Roc site and vote for your favorite blogger. Like a true democracy you only have choices that were arrived at through a complex series of blahblahblahs…
And remember: A vote for ‘That Good Good’ is a vote for the grassroots underdog (I’m a one-man shop here, people!) and general lackadaisical posting.
Don’t let the terrorists win!
More proper ganders coming…

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

JB's comin' through

Prep yourself for one of the most amazing collections of personal history you are likely to see. Ever ever. Ever ever? Ever ever.
My old boy Julian Bevan is THAT dude and his website is THAT good.
Do you know anyone who can say that as a performer they opened up for the Dead Kennedys AND Biggie Smalls? JB is THAT dude.
You will read about his BK based gangsta rap group Trigga Happy that was part of a Palladium(!!!) show that had the following line up:

Third Bass
Lord Finesse
The Secret Garden
Special guest Vice President Dan Quayle

(You will have to read that story to understand why Spiderman was on the list.)

He DJ’d regularly for VIBE and Don Hills and Frank’s Lounge in the BK and even for Iron Mike fucking Tyson… You will pour over the Hip-Hop Honors concept sketchbook pages. You will tell your friends about his collection of downloadable mixtapes… from hip-hop to reggae to house to disco to whatever.
You will read the entire series of comics for On The Go magazine about being a DJ.
And that dude can spin a yarn as well as two turntables. You will want to read every insightful and hilarious word.

So get to it.