Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Killer Mike, Pep Love, and Zomby Reviews

I have a few new reviews up at RapReviews.com.

First up is the Killer Mike/El-P collaboration , R.A.P. Music. It's awesome, just like everyone says.

Second is Pep Love's Rigmarole. I wasn't a fan, and gave it a somewhat harsh review. OK Player and HipHopDx beg to differ with my opinion, so maybe it's amazing and I just don't get it.

Finally, I reviewed Zomby's Dedication this week. It's downtempo dubstep that had a hip-hop feel, to me at least. I love it.

I've been listening to the latest El-P and Big Juss, and will hopefully have a review up soon.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Gentleman Review, Killer Mike, Subhumans

I reviewed German reggae artist Gentleman's Divsersity on RapReviews this week.  I've had it for a while, but only got around to listening to it recently. It grew on me.

I also downloaded the Subhumans 1984 album From the Cradle to the Grave. Legally. I have it on cassette. It was one of my favorite albums when I was 15, and it still holds up, especially the 16-minute title track. I should really write a longer piece about it. It's a somewhat rambling diatribe against the British educational system, war, the government, and the SYSTEM, man. But there are some good lines.

They'll say you ought to learn a trade to help you in your life
Success is written in three parts: A job, a house, a wife
They'll say that school prepares you for the awesome world outside
Well it certainly gives you bigotry and patriotic pride

Racism, sexism teacher to class
From school to work remains the sameare you white and middle class?

You'll learn that bad men dress in black and good men dress in white
And the pamphlets in the playground say that's right
And that girls were made for housework and boys were made to fight
And the naughty pictures on page 3 make everything alright

I also got the new El-P produced Killer Mike album, R.A.P. Music It's so, so good. Like, Death Certificate levels of good. I'm hoping to be able to write a review of it next week.

And on a totally unrelated note, here is my favorite video of all time right now. I watch it several times a week. Because it's JackTastic! And Sue. We all hate you. We hate you so much.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

BeOND Review

I reviewed SoCal rapper BeOND's new album Everythingz Backwardz this week on RapReviews. I wasn't a massive fan of it, and I'm not sure if that is BeOND's fault or if I'm just a jaded old man.

Here's a video for the first single. Decide for yourself.

Friday, May 04, 2012


I'm home from work to work on a school project on nonprofit marketing, which has gotten me thinking about my own personal branding. I recently joined the board of a nonprofit association I belong to, and I realized that I am not totally comfortable with my various online worlds and personas interacting. I wouldn't necessarily want a fellow board member or a potential employer to read my Death Grips review, for example, or read this blog. I love hip-hop and I love punk rock, but that isn't necessarily the public persona that I want to put forth with people who I want to take me seriously as a nonprofit professional.

To that end I started a blog a few months ago to write about nonprofit issues called Festival of Acronyms.
I'm not in love with the blog name or URL, but it's what I got for now. I'm trying to update it every other week, with some success.

I'm also contemplating the future of my music journalism. While I enjoy writing music reviews, I'm not totally convinced that it is always the best use of my time and energy. I'd also like to use this site to write more in-depth pieces about artists I like who are either unknown or forgotten. I dunno. All I know is the next seven months will be intense with work and school, and my focus in life is changing.

RIP Adam Yauch

Adam Yauch, aka MCA of the Beastie Boys, died of cancer today. He was 48.

While I will admit that I hated the Beastie Boys when Licensed to Ill came out, they eventually became one of my favorite bands, and one of the definitive groups of my generation. They went from being snotty sexist assholes to being Buddhists and feminists. They showed Gen-Xers how to age gracefully, how to give up our childish ways without selling out, and how to retain a sense of humor while actually giving a shit. They were the Ur hipsters of my generation, influencing fashion, music, language, and what people listened to. They are the reason why I listen to Lee Perry. They are the reason I watched Dolomite. They showed how white people could respectfully participate in hip-hop. They made good music. They were decent rappers.

As I mentioned earlier, I really didn't like Licensed to Ill when it came out, and to this day I think it is a pretty terrible album. I wrote them off as irritating frat boys until my brother played "Eggman" off of 1989's Paul's Boutique. That album saw them going in their own, stoned-out direction. The first album of theirs I bought was 1992's Check Your Head. I was a junior in high school when it came out, and I thought the video for "So Watcha Want" was the coolest thing in the world. I spent the next few years trying to imitate their look in that video with baggy pants and knit caps. The thing is, everyone (white) listened to that album: people into alternative music, hip-hop fans, people who hated hip-hop. They transcended the genre. They were just cool. And Yauch was the coolest one. With his gravelly voice and his more serious persona, he was simply a cool dude. He got millions of middle class white kids to explore Buddhism when he came out as a Buddhist. He, along with the rest of the Beastie Boys, channeled that white middle class angst into something more creative and positive than bands like Limp Bizkit or Korn did. The Beastie Boys loss their cultural cache as the 90s progressed, but they never sold out or got pathetic. They stayed true to themselves, releasing two solid albums in the 21st century.

Yauch had been battling cancer for a while, but it still came as a shock to me that he passed. It's like hearing that someone you went to high school died, although he is eleven years my senior. It's made me feel old and mortal.

Death Grips, St. Vincent, Fugazi Live

My review of the new Death Grips is the featured review on RapReviews now. I love that album. Here's a link to the review.

I dug out St. Vincent's second album, Actor, recently. I originally got it for my wife, but it is too noisy and guitary for her. It's an interesting combination of St. Vincent's pretty voice and her slightly gnarly guitar playing. In that sense it is similar to Wye Oak, which I've also been listening to a lot. Anyways, I never gave St. Vincent a real shot when I bought it two or three years ago.

And finally, I downloaded a live Fugazi show that had a lot of tracks off of their 1992 album In On the Kill Taker. My copy of the album was stolen out of my friend's car. There are many great tracks on it that sound even better live. "23 Beats Off' is about someone with HIV (fans have speculated Magic Johnson). My favorite song is "Great Cop," the ultimate punk rock dis.

"You got a lot of questions for me
You got your finger pointing at me
I look for wires when I'm talking to you
You'd make a great cop."

I never saw them live and I really wish I had. Fugazi where one of those bands that I liked but never love. I think that they were always a little too noisy and cerebral for me. Listening to them now I realize that in some ways they were like abstract painters, people who knew their craft so well that they could mess with the structure of it. They could be a little too serious, and their lyrics are sometimes too cryptical, but they are still and amazing band.

Blog Archive