Wednesday, February 28, 2007

New York Bans the N-Word

(From Reuters) " The City Council unanimously declared a moratorium that carries no penalty but aims to stop youth from casually using the word, considered by most Americans to be the most offensive in the English language.

The New York City measure follows similar resolutions this month by the New York state assembly and state senate, and supporters of the ban are taking their campaign to The Recording Academy, asking it not to nominate musicians for Grammy awards if they use the word in their lyrics.

Councilman Leroy Comrie, a sponsor of the moratorium, said the campaign against the word has gained strength since comedian Michael Richards spewed it in a racially charged tirade in Los Angeles."

Some thoughts...

#1. Did they ban "nigger" or "nigga?" Because there is a difference. Also, if one says the word in reference to someone else saying the word, is that still outlawed?

#2. There is also a big difference between it being used by black people and it being used by white people. A big difference. Michael Richards saying "nigger" at the Comedy Club is bad news. Damon Wayans saying it is another story.

#3. People aren't racist because they use racist language. Racist langauge can help, uh, enable their racism, but outlawing a word won't kill the sentiment. People can be just as prejudice and stupid using "African-american" as they can using "colored" or whatever else. Focus less on the language, and more on the feelings surrounding the language.

#4. The idea of the grammy's rejecting people because they use nigga is totally stupid and I hope they don't do it. Does that mean when it is exposing the word, as in Mos Def's "Mr. Nigga?" or when it is flipping the phrase on its head as in Madlib's "Pyramids (Change)"? Or when it is used to be synonymous with"friend" as in too many hip hop songs to name? Or is it only when it is used by a white person to address a black person? And would it still be ok for them to degrade women and gays?

#5. Is nigger the worst word in the English language? Paradoxically, it is much, much more taboo for people to use Nigger today than 100 years ago, when it was a fairly common term for a black person. Blacks took to using nigger to take the sting out of it. They reclaimed the term as their own, and ironically, took it away from the racists.

I applaud the idea of trying to tackle some of the negativity and nihilism that is all too prominent in many aspects of hip-hop. However, this is a misguided, wrongheaded way of doing it. Plus, the hip-hop community is not gonna give a FUCK. In fact, I guarantee GUARANTEE that the word nigger will be used by MCs to obscene extents in the coming weeks and months.

That said, I think after this post I am going to try to not actually spell out the n word when quoting lyrics. I figure, if it aint right for me to say it out loud, I probably shouldn't be typing it.


Clamor Magazine Reviews

As I may have written previously, I used to write for clamor magazine, which went out of biznass in 2006. The following are reviews that yours truly wrote that were published on their website ( I figgered I’d post them here, so’s I gots a record of them as well.


Pattern Is Movement


Noreaster Failed Industries, 2005,
I think all art students should be forced to start bands, and all musicians should be forced to study art. Good things often come of it: Wire’s herkey-jerky punk, Crass’s sound collages and entire aesthetic, the White Stripes garage-rock-meets-Godard minimalism. Particularly if you are going to work within the constraints of bass/guitar/drums, you either need to be a 19-year-old fuck-up going balls out, or have some sort of grounding philosophy. Otherwise you end up being Nickelback — and no one wants that.
I don’t know if Pattern Is Movement are art school kids, but they certainly sound like it. On the surface, they are your typical indie band — bass/guitar/drums, well-versed in both Belle and Sebastian and Built to Spill. However, they defy the limitations of indie rock and create something much more interesting and unique.
Their name tells you what they are going for — their music is all about patterns, repeating patterns, particularly. “Maple,” the opening song, starts out with a simple melody and the line “I love you when you come near/ Standing naked in the door.” Then it repeats the line over and over and over, until it goes from being a cute little melody into being something kind of disturbing.
The resulting album is something that is sweet, whimsical, and a little unsettling. The songs can be enjoyed on both a purely aesthetic level as a fun little indie tunes, or they can be appreciated for their experiments in song structures and sound. Like a Truffaut film, there is a depth to Pattern Is Movement, but they are also entertaining, and you don’t need an MFA to appreciate them. I’m glad bands like Pattern Is Movement are keeping indie music interesting, and I highly recommend this disc to anyone bored with the ordinary.
-Patrick Sean Taylor

Stereo Total
My Melody
Kill Rock Stars, 2006
One of my favorite genres of music is sixties female Euro pop, and Stereo Total serve it up in spades. My Melody offers up19 tracks of sweet, goofy, non-English goodness, with lyrics in German and French. I was in a horrible, horrible mood the first time I put this disc on, and it immediately put me in a good mood. How can you be bummed out listening to a girl sing about the issues of make-up in German over a quirky synth beat? You just can’t.
Stereo Total could easily be the younger sibling of Stereolab, only while Stereolab’s songs are overtly political, Stereo Total keep things much lighter. I don’t speak French or German, but from what I can understand, they aren’t exactly criticizing the current socio-economic system and fomenting socialist revolution. Most of the songs are about love, I think, except for the songs dedicated to Yoko Ono and Ringo Starr, and the one about being a badass disc jockey.
Besides their own stuff, they also cover Serge Gainsbourg, and do a rowdy version of “Drive My Car” titled “Tu Peux Conduire Ma Bagnole”. It all sounds very sixties and yet contemporary. The disc brought me back to the heyday of the Britpop revival in the mid-nineties, and the nights I spent at Bardot-a-Go Go celebrating Mr. Gainsbourg’s birthday with the rest of the San Francisco francophiles. Maybe that’s because My Melody was originally released in 1999, that kinder, simpler time, before the economy crashed and we decided to go to war with the world. My Melody is a charming and enjoyable record, and is guaranteed to do more to lift your mood than all of the antidepressants on the earth. 
-Patrick Sean Taylor

Various Artists
States of Abuse
Entartete Kunst 2006
Entartete Kunst are a San Francisco-based label who specialize in avant-garde electronica and radical politics. On States of Abuse, they’ve lined up 19 tracks of politically charged hip-hop from both North America and Europe. Hip-hop has replaced punk as the global music of rebellion, and this disc is the proof. It’s striking to see that people from so many different places sharing a similar musical language and political ideology. There are MCs rapping in French, Italian, and Spanish, along with British and American artists.
There are a lot of gems on this disc. Among them are BC400’s pissed-off rant on Bush and Chirac, which comes through even if you don’t understand French; Filastine’s “Judas Goat” which incorporates Middle Eastern instruments; and Giddee Limit’s blippy, grimey “Revolution Soldier.” These tracks combine banging beats with righteous anger, which is both cathartic and inspirational, just like a good punk song. 
As with all comps, not everything here is solid gold. A couple of the songs are too preachy and simplistic; I appreciated that their hearts were in the right place, but wished they had more finesse in turning political arguments into good songs. This comp is definitely about the message first and music second, and sometimes it showed.
However, the majority of this disc is good, and it does a great job of presenting a unified, global assault against the Bush Regime, the War on Terrorism, and corporate greed. I’ve heard a million rappers yell “fuck the police”, but this was the first time I heard one quote Proudhon. This is sure to be the soundtrack of the next WTO protest, and worth checking out.
-Patrick Sean Taylor

Found #2

Davy Rothbart

Fireside/Simon & Schuster, 2006
This is the second collection from Found magazine. Found has a very simple premise - it features photographs of notes and other detritus found by people across the country. Everything from grocery lists to greeting cards to lost pet ads to love letters to post-its are presented here with a brief explanation of when and where they were found. The book is divided thematically, with a whole section of letters to Santa, a whole section of love letters, etc.
The result is much more profound that it might sound. It is a combination of art, humor, psychology, and archeology. Seeing these everyday notes taken outside of their context puts them in a whole new light, and gives us insight into the private lives and thoughts of the people around us. Some are just bizarre (like the note that says "Today is my grandmother's 100 birthday AND there is a raccoon in my bathroom. Open at 3pm"), others are hilarious. One of my favorite pieces was an excerpt from a very serious legal contract that breaks into the absurd, including clauses about feeding mythical beasts, and quoting Jay-Z lyrics.
Then there are the disturbing ones. The suicide notes are especially heart breaking, as are the letters from jilted lovers to their ex's. One piece is a police report from a riot cop assigned to a protest in San Francisco in 2003. The officer writes lines like 'I skillfully parried [the protester's] move and struck him twice in zone one. The coward then ran into the crowd." So, who's supposed to protect us from you, Mr. Officer?
What I like most about Found is it doesn't take an ironic or mocking attitude. For the most part it treats the found items for what they are - a voyeuristic glimpse into the life and thoughts of a total stranger. A thousand years from now, when whoever is left on this planet is trying to figure out what the hell happened to us, Found is as good a guide as any into the experiences, desires, and psychosis of Americans in the 21st century. For those of us still in 2006, it is a wonderful way to better understand ourselves and our neighbors, and is a hell of a lot of fun, too.
-Patrick Sean Taylor

More from Clamor archives....

The Stills

Without Feathers

Vice/Atlantic, 2006
The Stills' sophomore record sees them moving away from the '80s influence that made their debut such a hit with the tight pants crowd. Instead, they are channeling the spirit of the super sounds of the seventies. Without Feathers contains 12 tracks of mellow, melancholy rock. It opens with "In the Beginning," which combines chugging guitars, an organ, and lyrics like "It's just never what it was in the beginning." They retain their British mope-rock influence, but it is tempered with a generous dose of sunshine and bellbottoms.
This album reminded me a little of the Arcade Fire, with its epic, ambitious songs, and intricate orchestration. However, Without Feathers is less theatrical than the Arcade Fire, less David Bowie and more Big Star. The disc is equal parts Kinks, early electric Dylan, Pink Floyd, and '90s Brit rock. The lyrics are solid throughout, capturing a sense of regret, sadness, and nostalgia, and even when they drop dubious lines like "helicopters are chasing our spirits into the sea," it's sung with such passion and sincerity that it works.
If you feel like being cheered up and bummed out at the same time, or you want indulge in some '70s worship without having to dig into your mom's Carpenters albums, give Without Feathers a spin. So does this mean Interpol's next album is going to have a lot of sitars?
-Patrick Sean Taylor

Science Faction

Wantage USA, 2006
Volumen hail from Missoula, Montana, and are doing their best to put their hometown on the map. Science Faction was recorded over a period of several years, and it shows in the radically varying styles on the album. The disc is all over the place, from the Blues Explosiony "Side of a Box" to the Britpop "Lush & Co." to the punk of "Orson Welles Was Right" to the heavy metal instrumentals of "Descolada" and "Dune."
With most bands, this schizophrenic lack of focus might render them listenable. Fortunately, Volumen are good enough to overcome their stylistic experimentations. The only real missteps were the instrumentals - I'm sure they were tons of fun when they were all rocking out in the studio, but for the listeners at home, not so much. Musically and lyrically the band members add a touch of humor and weirdness, but are serious enough that they don't come off as frivolous. They drop some brilliant lines like "I woke up today in my clothes/ Rips in my shoes exposing toes/ In an empty room," and, "I dunno what kind of guys you like, but maybe tonight I can be what you like?" Science Faction is a very good album by a band doing their best to keep indie rock interesting. With a little more editing and self-control, these guys could be brilliant. Go Montana!
-Patrick Sean Taylor


Devised Without a Pla
Tiberius / Phratry Records, 2005
Covington are a Cleveland threesome who play melodic, emotive punk. Their previous band, Ampline, was all instrumental, which explains the tight musicianship and interesting song structures, as well as the instrumental track “Form and Divide.” Thankfully, they avoid the overplayed quiet/loud sing/scream song structure of so many similar bands out there. The songs are all competently written and ably played, and the production does a fine job of getting everything to sound clear. Maybe that’s why it took them a year to release these songs after recording them.
I liked this disc best when the boys strayed away from the standard emo-punk sound and moved into something more interesting, as on “Flight 326” and “Black-Eyed.” Most of the album, however, is pretty standard impassioned vocals over tight guitars. The lyrics are vague, with lack of clarity sometimes standing in for poetics. It seems like they have something interesting to say, and I’m glad they didn’t drop any clunkly rhymed couplets, but I do wish they had been a little less cryptic. 
While this isn’t destined to be the stand-out album of the year, fans of the genre will certainly dig it. Hello, Cincinnati!
-Patrick Sean Taylor

Saturday, February 24, 2007


So i think i have a crush on jenny lewis. i think her music is really neat, and plus i read this spin interview where she talked about all the hip hop records she liked. That pretty much makes her perfrect for me. only i don't know if i'd want to date a musician.

Um, i mean i think her music is neat. And she is pretty, but not as pretty as my girlfriend. Plus, i'd never date anyone who was in the goonies. no way.

seriously though, her solo album, rabbit fur coat, is damn good despite what those bitchass snobs at pitchfork said. it's pretty, and catchy, and has lyrics like "it wasn't pretty, but she was (not your wife)". and that gimmicky super-indie rendition of the traveling wilbury's "handle with care" is pretty fucking awesome.

Jenny lewis. hot stuff.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I Got a Legit Gig, yo!

I’m proud to announce that I was accepted as a reviewer for This was on the strength of my DJ Shadow and Spank Rock reviews posted on this blog, and a review of Madlib’s BeatKonducta below. I’m excited about the opportunity, although they said it may be months before I actually get anything to review. Whatevs. Ever since Clamor magazine closed down, I’ve been looking for an opportunity to get free cd’s to review, and now I gots it. Incidentally, if you go on, you can see Matt Jost’s review of the Bet Konducta.

Madlib the Beatkonducta
The Beat Konducta Vol. 1-2: Movie Scenes
Stones Throw, 2006

Otis Jackson, Jr., aka Madlib, is one the most creative, innovative, and prolific musicians in hip-hop. The son of 60s R & B singer Otis Jackson, Sr., and the brother of rapper Oh No, Madlib has been keeping underground hip-hop interesting since he first came on the scene with the now-defunct Lootpack in the early nineties. When he isn't producing albums, or acting as one-half of Jaylib or Madvillain, he's making jazz records as Yesterday's New Quintet and Sound Directions, making dub reggae mixes, and rapping as his foul-mouthed, helium-voiced alter ego Quasimoto. In between doing all that, he found time to release this 35-track disc of hip-hop instrumentals.

All the tracks on The Beat Konducta are labeled with a title and parenthetical description, ie. "The Payback (Gotta)", or "Snake Charmer (Heads Up)". The titles provide an apt description of the songs, or at least of where Madlib's head was at when he was creating them. Every track on this album is evidence of Madlib's creativity, knowledge of and reverence for music, his crate-digging skills, and his ability to make beats that are soulful, funky, and provoking all at the same time. There are no vocals per se, but Madlib does build in chopped up soul songs, snippets of rappers doing their thing, and bizarre found sounds that provide a voice for the music.

While there are some tracks on here like "Chopstyle (Suey Blast)" that are fairly banging, the overall vibe of the disc is understated, chilled out, jazzy, and funky. Madlib isn't really known for bringing the boom-bap or creating club anthems. He's more about creating a musical soundscape that pays homage to African-american musical history while updating it for this century. His beats are seamless and deceptively simple, full of nuances that make them ideal for headphones.

Despite the retro, smoked-out vibe of this disc, Madlib is not just some blunted-out sixties throwback. There is some serious anger burning underneath his bloodshot eyes, and it comes out in the samples on The Beat Konducta amidst all the chilled-out beats. "The Payback (Gotta)" has James Brown singing "I'm mad!", "Gold Jungle (Tribe) repeats a sample of someone saying "Fuck y'all!", and "Pyramids (Change) flips the line "funny how things can change, nigga" until its just the word "nigga" repeating until it becomes "a gun". Samples like these add another layer to the album, making it much more than just a collection of fat beats.

I don't know if any of these tracks were leftover from Madlib’s other projects, but some of the tracks seem to reference his previous work. "Open (Space)" and "Sir Bang (Bounce)", for example, both share the sleazy, strip-club funk of Jaylib's Champion Sound, and a lot of The Beat Konducta would have been at home on the last Quasimoto disc.

In fact, The Beat Konducta has the same flaws I found in The Further Adventures of Lord Quas. For one thing, the tracks are too short. Most of them are under two minutes, and they often don't get the chance to fully develop their groove. Just when I would start getting into a song, it would end. The upside of this is that I was never bored, but I would have like to have more time with tracks like "Toe Fat (Ghettozone)".

The other issue I had with The Beat Konducta was that sometimes Madlib got a little too out there for his own good, which resulted in songs that were interesting from a creative standpoint, but not a lot of fun to listen to. "Electric Company (Voltage-Watts)" and "Offbeat (Groove)" both had long, bizarre samples that had me racing for the fast forward button on my stereo every time they came on. Luckily there were only a couple tracks like this on the record, and they didn't detract very much from the overall experience.

Madlib's The Beat Kondukta is a must-have for fans, and definitely worth the price of admission for anyone into underground hip-hop, old soul and jazz, and good music in general. Hip-hop is lucky to have someone with his skills contributing to the game, and this disc will definitely tide you over until the new Madvillain record comes out.

Music Vibes: 8.0 Lyric Vibes: n/a Total Vibes: 8.0

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Deerhoof Are Weird

I first saw Deerhoof in 2002 or 2003. They were playing in a tiny cafe in the mission. Some friends invited me, and expected that i would know who deerhoof were. I didn't. We got there to late to actually get in, so we heard a few of their songs from out on the street were all the hipsters were making me feel self-concious by being cooler than i was.

I saw them again in 2004, this time at the 12 galaxies. I was mesmerized (alcohol may have been involved). It was three guys and this little japanese woman with a high voice. Their songs had bizarre structures, but bitchen guitar riffs. i picked up their then-new album milk man, and listened to it over and over.

The problem with deerhoof, and the thing that prevents me from being a huge fan of theirs, is that they are kinda annoying. Sometimes you are in the mood for their kookiness, and sometimes it just gives you a headache, ya know?

I just picked up The Runners Four at the library (hey, i'm broke. whaddya want me to do, shoplift?). It's good, but suffers from the same issue as reveille, milk man, adn no doubt their new disc: It's frigging out there. sometimes a good thing, sometimes a shart anvil at your temples.

still, i'm glad that they are around making interesting music, and i'm proud that SF can claim them, if only so i can tell my story of seeing them in a cafe and thus sound cooler than i really am.

Monday, February 12, 2007

the boss needs us but we don't need the boss

I haven't updated in a while: I've been busy writing submissions for a hip-hop website.

I did recently discover the Notus podcast at They play a lot of current big name stuff...mostly Nas, Jay-z, Lupe Fiasco, etc.

The highlight for me so far is Mos Def's Katrina Clap, a play on Juvinile's Noilin's clap, but all about the fuckt up response by the govment to katrina. "One dollar for every human being" raps the might mos. He's pissed. Incidently, I listened to "True Magic" at a listening station and damn if it isn't pretty decent. I don't know if it's decent enough for me to want to spend my hard earned money on, but still, not too shabby.

Finally, I listened to a podcast about bush's proposed budget, which is not a good idea for 8 in the morning. The fucker wants to cut 80 billion from medicare.

Billions have been wasted on graft and corruption in iraq, he's granted billions in tax breaks to the wealthy, and now he wants to cut funds to the sick and disabled? People like him make me hope that there is a hell so that they can suffer eternally.

Also, you can bet that after blowing bajillions on the fiasco that is iraq, he's going to fuck all of the maimed veterans out of benefits and medical care once they get back.


Saturday, February 03, 2007

Oldie but a baddie

I haven't had the time or gumption to write a new review as of late, so here is an old review i submitted for clamor magazine last year that didnt get published.

I've been listening to a lot of modest mouse, reflections eternal, and ghostface killah's Supreme Clientle. I realize that i tend to acquire more music than i really have time to listen to, so it's kind of a treat to go back to stuff i had put on the side and rediscover it. Still i could go to amoeba tomorrow and easily pick up thirty albums, and still have stuff i'd want to buy. I'm not sure what the psychology is behind obsessive record-acquiring. AM i trying to fill up some void in my life with music? I hope that isnt it. I like to think that there is just so much music in the world, all of which represents someones voice, ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc., that i am on a neverending mission to listen to all of it that i can. A good song reaffirms my faith in humanity.

Anyways, here is a review of the horrendous and rightfully obscure chubbie baby.
check it out in a bargain bin near you.

Chubbie Baby
Volume One
Dipset, 2006

On one of the skits on this album, Chubbie Baby announces that his jewelry costs almost as much as the Eiffel Tower, and if he sold it all, along with a few of his cars, he could buy said Tower and go chill in Paris. I'm not sure how he amassed this fortune, whether it was through rapping, producing, being a radio announcer, a club owner, or his past dealing cocaine and "her'on". I do know that pretty much all you need to know about Chubbie Baby you can tell from looking at his medallion on the cover of the album. It's a jewel-encrusted, platinum and gold bald eagle like the one on the back of a dollar bill, only instead of holding an olive branch and quiver of arrows in its talons, it's holding two .45's.

The aspiring mogul and member of the Dipset/Headbangaz/Diplomats crews comes at you straight outta Columbus, Ohio, with 19 tracks of laid-back gangsta rap, with introductions by both Chubbie himself and Cam'ron. When he's not bragging about his outrageous wealth, Chubbie is expounding upon his many skills - rapping skills, lovemaking skills, drug-dealing skills, and producing skills. He may be a legitimate businessman, but don't think he won't fuck you up if you dis him, because he can totally bring the pain.

Chubbie's role model is the Notorious B.I.G. Besides girth, he shares Biggie's likable personality, gruff voice, and dreams of creating a rap empire and making mounds of paper in the process. Unfortunately he has neither the production values or rhyming skills of the late Bad Boy. The production cuts this record off at the knees. The rhymes are all shouted, blown out, and mixed way too high over the generic lazy keyboards and occasional sped-up soul sample. In the hands of a Timbaland, Dre, or Kanye, Chubbie might be able to generate some real excitement. This disc, however, doesn't do his rapping any favors.

Fans of mixtapes and regional hip-hop, along with Cam'ron fans and Diplomats completists, might want to check this out. Or they may want to check out the thousand other self-released mixtapes that came out in the last fifteen minutes, all of which have a decent chance of being better than this disc.
-Patrick Sean Taylor

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