Friday, March 25, 2016

RIP Phife

Phife Dawg, aka Malik Taylor, died this week at 47.

Tribe Called Quest's The Low End Theory is one of my favorite albums of all time. It got me into hip-hop in a big way. It got me into jazz. I have listened to it regularly since I first purchased it in 1992ish. Midnight Marauders was another album I loved, if not as much. I haven't revisited the rest of their catalogue. Maybe now I should.

RIP to the funky diabetic.


I reviewed R&B singer Kelela's last EP on RapReviews last week. 

I've been digging a lot of the alt R&B that's out there - SZA, the Internet, etc. I have never been much into regular R&B, so I'm happy there are artists approaching the genre from a perspective I can appreciate. I don't know if I don't like regular R&B because it is too "black" or too pop-oriented, or if it is just that the musical/emotional notes it tries to hit don't resonate with me. Kelela's music is R&B from a dance perspective. It reminds me a little of how Bjork would team up with cool producers and make music.

I also loved Letta's Testimony, which I reviewed a while back.

Saturday, March 19, 2016


Another favorite album of 2016 (although it came out at the end of 2016) is the Dutch band Fluisteraars sophomore album Luwte. They are a melodic black metal band that are epic, intense, and sorrowful. Good music for bad times.

Anderson Paak

One of my favorite albums in recent months is Anderson Paak's Malibu. I had first heard him on Dre's Compton, where Paak was one of the highlights. He does a combination of soul, hip-hop, and rock that works really well. His lyrics are full of love and pain. "When I look at my tree I see leaves missing," He sings on "The Season/Carry Me." "Generations of harsh living and addiction."

It's an album that manages to capture the edge of hip-hop but smooth it out with soul without being cheesy. It's about pain and trauma but also hopeful. In short, the perfect record for 2016.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Music for the ages

I've been having dance parties with my 3-year-old daughter a lot recently. It's one of our favorite activities. A lot of my music curation now comes down to finding music that she might like that I might not hate. Her top jams are "For the First Time In Forever" and "Let It Go" from Frozen, although she loves the whole soundtrack (except the scary non-singing parts). We also introduced her to the Sound of Music and Annie, and "Shake It Off" has become a staple. Recently I dug through some Beatles songs on Spotify to find some that might be especially good for a toddler. I came up with "Good Day Sunshine," "Here Comes the Sun," and "Ticket to Ride."

The Beatles broke up over fifty years ago. I wonder how long their music will continue to resonate to people, and what that will be like. This idea of commercial recorded popular music is relatively new, and I am curious how it will go down in history. I mean, people still love classical music and songs from hundreds of years ago, but you don't hear The St. Petersburg Symphony's 1867 recording of "Waltz of the Sugarplum Fairies." Will the rock music my parents grew up with start to sound dated and run out of favor at some point? Will kids still be getting turned on to Zepplin and Pink Floyd and The Clash and Operation Ivy and Tribe Called Quest 50 years from now?

This has been deep thoughts from an old man.

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