Azealia Banks is an unsigned 20 year Harlem born rapper whose debut song “212” is ridiculously good. Right now you can’t buy it anywhere but its a huge club hit and Pitchfork named it one of the 10 best songs of the year. Three days ago I had never heard of her. Since that time, I’ve listened to this song about 15 times and can’t get enough. Others think so as well. Mumford and Son’s keyboardist Ben Lovitt called the rapper’s single ‘mind-blowing’.
Flavorpill’s Judy Berman had this to say about her:
Azealia Banks is its future. In a year that brought us the confounding viral success of Kreayshawn, we’re clearly hungry for women in hip-hop. But Harlem’s own Banks, who topped NME‘s 2011 Cool List and had been an under-the-radar critical favorite for a few months before that, is far more likely to sustain the momentum for long enough to release a great album. Mark our words: 2012 will be the year of the smart, funny woman emcee.
I wholeheartedly agree is female rappers are going to put out more songs like “212.” Please note, there are some choice words in it, so if you happen to have any kids or prudes around, you might want to listen using your headphones. Happy Friday – enjoy.
This post is a literal “lift and shift” of content that I received from Flavorpill. The post was titled “Outdated Videos That Are Still Awesome” and was written by Contributing Editor Tom Hawking and yeah, I cribbed his title and content but hey, I gave credit! Also, while their post had 10 videos, I only thought that 4 of them were actually awesome and unfortunately due to copyright reasons, only 3 of them were on the web. The FP write up, and video where possible, is all below – enjoy! Thanks again Tom. Peter Gabriel — “Sledgehammer” (1986)
In the era of Pixar and huge-budget animation, the idea of stop motion animation crafted frame-by-frame on tape seems almost laughably primitive. Of course, people still use the technique today — Michel Gondry has deployed it to great effect, and it also features in Wolf Parade’s “Modern World,” one of our favorite videos of recent years. But even so, it’s easier these days — at least, if nothing else, you have digital editing technology. No such luck for Nick Park (of Wallace and Gromit fame), who made this video. The creation of “Sledgehammer” was incredibly torturous — at one point, Gabriel apparently lay under a sheet of glass for 16 hours while Park carefully shot single frame after single frame. But while the techniques belong to yesteryear, the video is just as mind-blowing in 2011 as it was in 1986 (especially the dancing chickens!).
A-Ha — “Take on Me” (1984)
As with “Sledgehammer,” these days this would all be done digitally, and would probably be fairly straightforward for any filmmaker with the requisite knowledge. But back in 1984, making this video involved a painstaking process called rotoscoping, whereby the animated sequences were traced over to create the animation. However, tedious as it must have been, the technique gives the video an enduring charm — like, say, Star Wars, where the models of the original trilogy look way better than the CGI of the second, the use of analog technology and one’s own hands creates a degree of realism that digital equivalents still struggle to match.
Bob Dylan — “Subterranean Homesick Blues” (1965)
One camera. One take. One simple idea. Ten years before “Bohemian Rhapsody.” And still far more effective.
NO VIDEO DUE TO CW
Genesis — “Land of Confusion” (1986)
Much as it pained us to put a song we adore (David Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes”) onto our list of videos that really aren’t all that good, it’s even more galling to put bloody Genesis onto this list. But there’s no denying that the Spitting Image-style puppets in this video are awesome — the whole thing is beautifully executed, tying into the anti-Thatcher ‘n’ Reagan sentiments of the song and featuring some pretty impressive puppetry. That Phil Collins doll is fucking terrifying, though.
The “13 Chambers” album was finally released and I’m making my way through the tracks now. Rolling Stone has a good review of all of the songs which lists which Fugazi and Wu-Tang Clan songs are sampled.
For instance, the song that I like the most right now is “Another Chessboxin’ Argument” because it uses lyrics from what might be my favorite Wu-Tang Clan song, Da Mystery of Chessboxin.” To me, “Homicide is illegal and death is the penalty” is one of the best lines in any song ever. Rolling Stone says,
RZA snares run into a chopped-up “The Argument,” the title track from Fugazi’s final album. Wu’s three iconic verses from “Da Mysteries of Chessboxin'” sound still more panicked under the mellow riff. MacKaye takes the chorus: “Here comes the argument/Folderol” is not a bad description of some of Wu’s knottier verses. Bonus punchline: MacKaye’s lilting “Here’s what’s striking me” into Meth’s demand: “Hey, you, get off my cloud!”
List to “Another Chessboxin’ Argument” below or check out all the “13 Chambers” tunes on Soundcloud.
Before I start to focus my posts solely on the long term negative ramifications of the current duopoly that is running this country, I want to at least acknowledge one of the things that makes happy – namely good music.
As William Congreve wrote in “The Mourning Bride,” music has charms to soothe the savage beast. One of the types of music I love is the mashup genre, though only when a mashup is done right. The Judgment Night soundtrack.The Chef Aid album.The Grey Album. Girl Talk’s Night RipperFeed the Animals (the latest I didn’t love his latest one so much). All of these I would consider great mashups.
Now, I want to add the rap-collective Doomtree’s “Wugazi” project to the mix. They have put out a single called “Sleep Rules Everything Around me” which is a mashup of the Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.” and Fugazi’s “I’m So Tired.” It was released online yesterday and it already has had almost 24,000 plays. On July 13, Wugazi’s album “13 Chambers” is expected to drop – the title itself is a mashup of the Wu’s seminal “Enter the 36 Chambers” and Fugazi’s “13 Songs” album titles. Based on the way that “Sleep Rules Everything Around Me” sounds, I believe it will be as Johan van der Smut, aka Goldmember put it, “tight like a tiger!”
Check out the song below (if it doesn’t play, don’t blame me, blame Steve Jobs because you are probably on some sort of Apple machine): Sleep Rules Everything Around Me by WUGAZI
The Onion’s A.V. Club launched A.V. Undercover this past Tuesday and I’m stoked about the concept. The Undercover program will have 25 bands select from 25 songs to cover. Once a week (Tue) the songs will be covered one by one. Once a song has been played, it cannot be played again so the band next week has one less song to choose from. Therefore, there is a reason to get in early if you are picky. By my math, this will whole thing will last until August 31st.
The 25 songs that were selected are pretty diverse – running from Starship’s “We Built This City”? to Nirvana’s “Sliver” with lots of side trips in between. There are some inspired choices and Teo Leo and the Pharmacists led things off with their rendition of Tears for Fear’s “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” and did a bang up job with it. I am now looking forward to Tuesdays specifically to see / hear who is going to bust out what. Fun stuff.
OK Go not only produces funtastically imaginative videos for their super poppy / catchy tunes but they produce erudite treatises on the issues facing the music industry today. Who knew?
On Jan 18, they posted an “Open Letter From OK Go, regarding non-embeddable YouTube videos” and after going over the background info, came down directly in the middle – appreciating both their company’s and fan’s motivations while charting a middle ground that truly satisfies no one, while never alienating anyone. If you care at all about music and if you, like me, bought records, then tapes, then CDs, and now digital media, you’ll want to hear what this band has to say about how the “transformation” continues.
As you might have guess from the post title, the official video for OK Go’s “This Too Shall Pass” off of the new album “Of the Blue Colour of the Sky” cannot be embedded on my site. To watch it, you have to take the extra step of clicking on a link to YouTube. The horror, the horror…
The song itself is loud: its great, bombastic, full of marching band craziness. I dig it. It will go on a future running mix. I hope you click over and check it out.
It figures that my first real post of this new year is not about a first but a last, a goodbye and a very public one at that. The Late Night TV Debacle of ’09 finally ended with Conan signing off last Friday night from his gig at “The Tonight Show” – something which he called the “greatest gig in all of television” which I find very hard to believe. I would choose doing “In the Papers” on NY1 before hosting “The Tonight Show” even though I hate waking up early. “In the Papers” – that is a great gig. But I digress.
I wound up watching the Conan finale purely by chance – when I finished up something on the old TiFaux I was dumped onto NBC. While I loved to follow the Late Night sniping and barbs through the press, I never cared enough to actually tune into any of the shows to hear the grenades that were being lobbed back and forth nightly. But, once I arrived lazily at “history” I thought I would stay and check out what happened.
Well, after a sort of funny exit interview was conducted by Steve Carell (though all Conan did was laugh the entire time), his Tom Hanks interview was pretty lame and I was about to turn off the tube and head to bed when I decided to just stick it out and see how it all ended. I’m really glad I did.
To quote the review of the show from Time.com:
And after all the acrimony, bad faith and low blows of the Tonight fiasco, he [Conan] closed, voice breaking, with a statement of unimpeachable class: “All I ask is one thing, and I’m asking this particularly of young people that watch: Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism. For the record, it’s my least favorite quality. It doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, I’m telling you, amazing things will happen.”
That bit left me feeling a little warm and fuzzy and then low and behold something truly amazing did happen. Let’s now go back to the Time.com review (emphasis in bold added by moi) for the description:
Conan called onstage Will Ferrell, in bell-bottoms and wig (with cowbell!), to lead a band including ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Ben Harper, Beck and Ferrell’s own pregnant wife—plus Max Weinberg and the crew—in a full version of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird.” And in what must be a first in talk-show-host farewells, Conan—who’s wielded an axe numerous times on his shows—played himself off the air by ripping a guitar solo, to a balls-out Southern Rock power ballad about getting out of a relationship with no future.
You can watch a clip of the performance on the Huffington Post as it seems that NBC’s copyright attorneys have removed it from most of YouTube.
I must stop now and inform you of my love for all things “Free Bird” – both the highbrow and the lowbrow of it all. I love the song, the music, the lyrics, the flow and the way it builds. I love that it’s probably the best example of Southern Rock that exists in a single song. I love how the band has a two word name that is misspelled (like my favorite band).
I also love how people will shout out “Free Bird” during a break in a performance, no matter what type of performance they are attending. It could be a piano concerto, it could be a political speech, or it could be the “Bare Naked Ladies” concert I went to my freshman year in Binghamton’s West Gym. A guy was shouting “Free Bird!” at the end of each song from the start of the show. Finally, in the middle of the second set, the lead singer shouted into a microphone “If we play ‘Free Bird’ will you shut the fuck up?!” and when the man responded with a curdling “Yes!” BNL just launched into a pitch perfect cover that blew the doors off the gym. I have been waiting for something similar to happen at one of the shows I attend since. I have never been present for a “Free Bird” cover at a Phish show or any other shows and cannot wait for the day when I hear it once again because I love it, and this bird you cannot change.
I was lucky enough to ring in the New Year with Phish back on 12/31/02 when they played New York’s Madison Square Garden. This year, many of my phriends were down in sunny (and warm) Miami this past Thursday night to see Phish ring in the new decade. From the looks of the video below, it was a slamming good time.
By now, as I’m a little late to the game in posting this video, you may have seen the video of how former Disney Imagineer and special effects wizard Ric Turner installed 21,268 lights and LEDs and turned his entire front yard into a game of Guitar Hero. To start the game, you ring the doorbell. I love when people pull off hacks like this – I just wish I was handy enough to do it (and the thing is I probably am, I’m just too lazy to learn).
The demo in the video below shows a kid rocking out to Eric Johnson’s Cliffs of Dover which I too have played GH style:
Nobody usually likes to wait but today the adage “good things comes to those who wait” is an apt one for me. While awaiting my lunch order’s completion, I grabbed the latest issue of the Village Voice and in skimming through it, I learned about Blakroc, a collaboration between The Black Keys and 11 rappers (such as the RZA, Raekwon, Mos Def, Q-Tip, etc) who were gathered together by Damon Dash.
The Black Keys play music that sounds “old.” By that I mean that I thought they were a late 60’s / early 70’s band that I somehow did not know when I first listened to their tunes a few years back. The last time I made a mistake like that was when I heard Lenny Kravitz for the first time. While I haven’t gone to a Black Keys show yet, I would definitely say I’m a fan.
I’ve just spent the past 30 odd minutes on the Blakroc site listening to and watching various smokey recording (and other) sessions and boy oh boy would I have loved to have been present while these tunes were being crafted. I love the idea of cross discipline collaboration and it was amazing to see classic Midwest bluesy rock mixing with strong New York styled (Wu-Tang inflected in particular) rhymes.
The Village Voice article about Blakroc mentions “Judgment Night” as an example of a Rock / Rap crossover which made me think both of that soundtrack and movie, something I haven’t done in a long time. I believe that this crossover example will be more critically and commercially successful. It’s probably not going to ascend to the Aerosmith / Run DMC “Walk this Way” level but who knows.
My favorite part of the VV article is when Dan Auerbach, the singer/guitarist of The Black Keys, compares watching Raekwon record to “watching Bob Dylan – just someone who has such a command of their art form.” Raekwon himself says that the Blakroc project “is like brilliant acid.”
The album drops officially on Black Friday (aka the day after T-Day or 11/27) and I can’t wait to listen to all 11 of the tracks. I’m betting that the album is going to make me a huge fan of some rapper I haven’t heard of before and as new music is always good music, I’m excited for that possibility as well.