Monthly Archives: March 2009

Album Reviews Featured Music

4080Review: K’naan – Troubadour

knaan300K’Naan,the Somali-born Canadian rapper, is making huge waves right now.  With the release of his sophmore album, Troubadour, he is pretty much on top of the world.  Pitchfork loves him.  Canada loves him.  In fact, most people are  already starting to say he’s just been shaming the other rappers in the world today.

We here at 4080 have loved his breakout album, The Dusty Foot Philosopher,  but I must admit I’m a bit torn on this new effort.  He is, without a doubt, one of the realest emcees around at this point.  He literally grew up in Mogadishu and fled during the first civil war back in the early 1990s.  His mom eventually brought him to settle in Toronto, where he learned to speak English.  In fact, his love for hip hop and the melody behind the rhymes was a prime motivator for him to learn the language.  Why? So he could rap.  That’s right.  He basically learned English just so he could spit rhymes.

NPR has done some pretty good coverage of K’Naan, and this is perhaps one of my favourite quotes.  Move over 50 Cent, I think this one is aimed squarely at you.

K’Naan could not be mistaken for an American rapper: For one thing, he has a kind of vintage Bohemian look. He says he doesn’t think that American rap has much credibility, because even the toughest American neighborhoods aren’t nearly as dangerous as Mogadishu.

“Where rocket-propelled grenades are fired around you on a daily … a guy bragging on TV talking about how gangster he is?” K’Naan says. “For us, it’s more a source of entertainment. It’s more like a comedy or something we watch. Say, ‘Oh wow, that’s kind of cute of American gangsters.’ But it isn’t hardcore, it isn’t that bad. Let’s get things in perspective, you know?”

If you want to get a sense of him, you can stream some K’naan tracks from his MySpace, or you can download the live show off CBC Radio 3 here.

On a track-by-track basis, I sadly must say that I think The Dusty Foot takes the crown.  Troubadour has it’s strong moments, including the moving tracks Waving Flag and Fatima.  But when you juxtapose this with the crime that is the re-recording of If Rap Gets Jealous and the sheer abomination that is T.I.A., the album starts to lose lustre. 

Troubadour features some extremely strong guest stars, but for the most part I feel like their talents are wasted.  Chubb Rock makes a triumphant return on ABC’s, which is one of the stronger pieces on this record.  However, Mos Def and Chali 2na seem to fly under the radar on America.  It’s a song that I assumed I would like, seeing as three dope rappers were combining.  I felt a Captain Planet moment, that with their powers combined I would witness greatness.  Instead, I can only say that it was creative.  Truly, K’naan did push the enveope a little bit and America is no exception.  He raps in Somali, and makes this track sound completely different than you probably expected.

Still, no matter what  small criticisms I can aim at him, K’naan is still truly pushing the limits.  He’s expanding people’s understanding of what hip hop is.

Videos

Funky DL – Circles

Music

Black Star Reunite For Two Hometown Shows

Black Star Reunite For Two Hometown Shows.  XXL Mag has just posted a story that literally made my entire week.

Black Star, one of the dopest and shortest-lived hip hop duos of all time has decided to reunite for 2 shows in NYC this summer.

Mos Def and Talib Kweli together are just amazing, and frankly a lot stronger than either of them when they are apart.  I love Mos, but Kweli hurts me sometimes with his solo stuff.  It just doesn’t sound…right.

Either way, be prepared for greatness.  Both shows take place on the same night.  One show will be at 7 p.m. and the other at 11:30 p.m on May 30th.

Awareness Geek

Last.fm no longer free

In what can only be described as a terrible move, Last.fm, one of the traditional bastions of free streaming music, has decided that they will begin charging money to use it.

But only if you live outside the US, UK, and Germany.  An odd combination of countries, I guess, but understandable at the same time.  They hope that charging €3.00 per month will on be too much, and will hopefully tremendously increase their revenue.

Though, according to their own stats:

“We appreciate the support we get from the 30 million people who use Last.fm every month—double the number of people since this time last year.”

It’s common sense that this number will go down if it’s not free.  In theory though, if even 1 million listeners pay that subscription fee, that’s still a tremendous amount of revenue for a small company.

So, Last.fm, we here at 4080 Records bid you goodbye.  You were a fun widget for us to host, and for a while you entertained us.  But sadly you’ve gone the commercial way, and during a recession no less.  Here’s hoping that at least some people have the discretionary income to spend on you.

Music

Shad at the alt.sessions

Shad and DJ Teelo performed at Sonic Boom, a big Toronto record store for alt. sessions.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, alt. sessions is a Canadian TV show that basically follows artists around and captures them performing some signature tracks in different settings.

It airs on aux.tv, a music website trying to promote Canadian music.  Check it out below as Shad performs Compromise and I Don’t really Like to.

Music

Free Music from SXSW

Yes it is most definitely true!  The amazing people at the South by Southwest music festival have voluntarily put up 6 GB of free music.  And it’s legal.

If you are looking to fill that iPod you got for Christmas, this is a fantastic way to get to know new bands and get a dump truck full of free music  legitimately.

To download it, click here: Free Music from SXSW (you need a torrent client).

Featured Music

Kutiman’s Thru You project shows the power of YouTube

kutimanYou would be hard pressed not to have heard of Kutiman these days.  This guy is setting the internet on fire with this Thru You project.  This is basically a YouTube mashup where Kutiman splices together various YouTube videos into one seamless new track.

It’s a pretty interesting project and truly does highlight jsut how innovative people are these days.

So far, it’s a seven and a half song series, and each one has it’s own unique flavour to it. They’re all embedded below so you can pick and choose your favourite ones. I’m partial to track 3 I’m New, and track 7 Just a Lady.

01 – Mother of All Funk Chords

02 – This Is What It Became

03 – I’m New

04 – Babylon Band

05 – Someday

06 – Wait For Me

07 – Just a Lady

The reason why I say seven and a half is that the 8th video in the series is him explaining this project and how he did it.  It’s interesting watching and you can view it here.

Politics

Fox mocks Canada’s commitment to Afghanistan

I know “Red Eye w/ Greg Gutfeld” on Fox is supposed to be entertaining.  It’s a talk show that covers a variety of topics.  Everything from awful celebrity gossip to things that may sometimes pass as news.

But this is a disgrace.  Fox, and Gutfeld in particular, cowardly mocks the planned Canadian withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2011.  Now, I understand he may be ‘mad’ that Canada is withdrawing, but to denigrate the sacrifice that 108 Canadians have made in that country is both obscene and offensive.

For someone who claims to support troops, I think it’s just a embarrassing moment for Gutfeld.  Everything about him screams douchebag, and I frankly hope that he gets fired for this.

Geek Music

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Rhyme

Thanks again to Metafilter for digging this up.  It’s a mashup of some of hip hop’s big names with strange Zelda midi tunes.  It’s just the type of nerd-tastic enterprise that lights the internet on fire.  However, the execution of this album does leave something to be desired.

It’s hard, because I really want to appreciate the work that someone obviously put into the album, but it’s not entirely smooth.  Many of the tracks (I think especially the Dr. Dre mashup) seem hasty and unfinished.  Almost to the point where I kind of wish different vocals were used.  However, a few worked out better than others.

Common’s I Used to Love H.E.R. worked pretty well.  The best sounding one has to be Aesop Rock’s No Jumper Cables.  The MF Doom track worked pretty well, simply because his rhyme style lends itself to a variety of beats.  I think too many of the failed tracks simply didn’t work because the artist’s flow was so tailored to the actual beat.  Doom manages to be choppy enough that you can pretty much put him over anything you want and make it sound like it was designed to be that way.

You can stream it all here.

Music

MC Joaquin Phoenix update

On the topic of the world’s craziest celebrity, there have been a few developments.  50 Cent has now come out and said he’s willing to mentor Phoenix.

As much of a doof as 50 Cent is, he does make one good point.

“He should write about the things that he has real interest in, the things he has been influenced by. Because, when an artist writes something that’s totally away from their experience period, it can’t be embraced.”

He’s actually right about that one.  It’s way smarter to just embrace what you are then to put on any kind of crazy front.  That’s part of the reason I’ve never been able to respect people like Chamillionaire.  It’s all front.

But no matter what, he’s been even more on a tear lately.  Apparently, he was dropping some rhymes when someone  heckled him.  Understandably, he was mad.  He allegedly jumped off stage and chased after the guy.


The whole thing is hilarious and probably is staged.  I’m not sure if this is Joaquin’s way of gaining a rep for something (perhaps a movie, or maybe he really does want to be a rap star).  Still, I sort of wish he’d tone it down.  If he wants to give hip hop a shot, he should be spending time writing rhymes and not freaking out.