Monthly Archives: April 2009

Geek

Slap Chop Remix

This is not even remotely hip hop, and really not even that great.  It’s only getting a post  because I have this weird fascination with Vince, the Shamwow/Slapchop guy.  He’s a crazy, crazy man.  He hosts infomercials, is in this intense feud with Scientology after getting kicked out, and recently got arrested for punching a hooker.  I mean what more do you want out of a guy before you consider him to be a character?

And someone spent some time remixing his slapchop infomercial into this weird little hip hop track.

Awareness

Best Buy May Start Selling Vinyl Records

Gizmodo – Best Buy May Start Selling Vinyl Records – Vinyl.

This is just plain fantastic news overall.  Gizmodo is reporting that Best Buy may start selling vinyl in their stores.

Now, this definitely is a double-edged sword.  On one hand, this means we’ll see a ton more reissues and a lot of new people getting into vinyl.  The downside is that it takes part of the joy away from crate digging.

The thing is, I think more so than anything else it’ll be a good thing.  There’s still gonna be a huge market out there for rare discs and good hip hop heads will always keep digging.  Just because you’ll see hundreds more copies of Boston and Michael Jackson out there, doesn’t take away from that legit first pressing of Curtis you found under a bin at a garage sale.

Instead, this makes it easier for a lot of kids to start getting into the genre.  Just like all music, you gotta start somewhere.  And I’d rather have a kid picking up a reissue of Kind of Blue then the latest Pussycat Dolls album.  Then again, we may start seeing all kinds of awful pop vinyl coming out.

Hey, at the very least, we may see some pretty creative mixes coming through.

Art Music

We got time

Moray McLaren, a band you’ve probably never heard of, has put out an astounding new video for the track We Got Time.  It features a type of animation known as a zoetrope, often done on a turntable.  Basically the idea is you draw your images on a disc, and spin it around with a reflective center.  The way the images are reflected demonstrate the motion.

Check it out below.  It’s a great way to use an older technology.

Awareness Geek

How to calibrate a record player

Gizmodo, the venerable tech blog, ran its “Listening Test” series last week.  This was a series of posts designed to focus on everything audio, from tech stuff, to nerdy posts on the first records they ever bought.

This piece, however, may be of some use to the semi-audiophiles among you.

Basically, they gave you step-by-step instructions on how to calibrate your turntable with only a few simple tools:

  • A 2mm Allen/Hex wrench for the cartridge screws
  • A ruler
  • Magnifying glass and flashlight
  • Needle-nose pliers or tweezers
  • A printout of a standard cartridge alignment ruler (available at vinylengine.com for free)

It’s detailed and focused, and really appeals to the OCD in me.  Go check it out if you feel like you’re not quite getting the most of your system.

Hip-hop Film

Watch the Gorilllaz documentary online

gorillaz_group

Gorillaz, that animated band with a rotating membership has finally got a documentary out.  For those fo you unfamiliar, Gorillaz has been formed as this odd cyber-group that has a variety of people who contribute.  Damon Albarn, most famous for his gig with Blur, has joined forces with a plethora of other superstars.  And yet they perform only as this animated group, you never really get to see them.   Some major hip hop legends have been a part of this, from DJ Shadow and Del the Funky Homosapien to Dan the Automator and Dangermouse.   They’re a pretty innovative experience, so check out the full documentary here, titled Bananaz.

In their own words:

“Bananaz is [Ceri] Levy’s story of the partnership & community behind Gorillaz. He takes you into the studio and out onto the road with this virtual phenomenon, showing a part of Gorillaz never seen before – reality. As one radio interviewer puts it, “It’s a parallel universe – these guys aren’t in the band but they know the animated characters who are.”

Music

New free music: Diamond District’s “In The Ruff”

In The Ruff

Haven’t had a chance to listen to this yet, but it’s free and it’s got a dope album cover, so I’m pretty confident that Diamond District’s debut record In The Ruff is at the very least worth a download.

Founded by emcee and producer Oddisee, Diamond District includes Washinton DC rappers XO & YU.   According to their blog, In The Ruff is “a raw mid-90’s Boom-Bap themed album for the DC state of mind, destined to appeal to all lovers of hip hop’s golden era, managing to travel back in time and push the boundaries of DC Hip-Hop simultaneously.”  Sounds damn good.

Download it here.

Music

Hilarious old school mixtape

Oh readers.  Gizmodo, everyone’s favourite geek blog, has been running an audio-themed segment for the last little while.

The focus of the latest post is on the art of the mixtape, with the author waxing nostalgic about his favorite mixtape.  Why was he so proud of this one particular mixtape?  Easy.  Classic hip hop joints, recorded off the radio in his hometown of San Francisco.

It’s a pretty funny list of classic hip hop and R&B, and is pretty much guaranteed to make you smile and close your eyes in loving memory of when radio was good.

Check out the playlist here.

Awareness Music

New Rock the Bells lineup announced in the best way

This year’s Rock the Bells lineup is dope, don’t get me wrong, but nothing will be able to match the first couple of years.  Still, this year gives it a good run for its money, especially with their hype machine.

Check out Supernatural freestyling the entire lineup.  It will blow your mind.

Guerilla Union/Myspace: Rock The Bells 2009 Lineup Freestyle

Nas, Common, KRS-One, Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek, our boy K’Naan, Raekwon, Slum Village, the Mystik Journeymen (or at least Murs), Chali 2na (maybe some j5 surprises?).  Hell, they are even bringing back House of Pain.

It should be a good show, and check it out at Guerilla Union.  They’re coming back to Canada, going to Toronto and Vancouver (maybe they’ll actually stay with Van this time).  But check it out here.

Awareness

Billy Bob Thornton is not a nice guy

I swear we won’t make this a habit to report on crazy celebrities, but in the spirit of what we’re trying to do here at 4080, I thought we owe you all a post on this issue. I admit we’re not exactly top notch journalists over here, but I do think the team here approaches music with a dedication and a respect that we share with many real arts journalists.

Jian Ghomeshi is one of these. He is the host of the Q Show on CBC Radio in Canada, and he had the unfortunate opportunity to meet Billy Bob Thornton while Billy Bob was acting like a petulant little child. Basically, Billy Bob Thornton is a member of a band called the Boxmasters. They were to be interviewed on this music radio show. Fair enough, right?

Well, when introducing them, Ghomeshi made the crazy mistake of mentioning that Billy Bob Thornton was also an actor. Sort of. He mentions that Thornton is best known as an actor but “…the Boxmasters is anything but a diversion from the silver screen. (Thornton)’s always intended to make music and he just got sidetracked.”

Thornton apparently was upset about that, and basically spent the rest of the interview doing his best to ignore all questions and sulking. In fact, at the end, he refused to perform with his band and stormed out of the studio like a nine year old girl at a birthday party when Jenna accidentally wore the same dress.

You can see the whole video below. Or read the highlights here.

Now I could go on a massive rant about the absurd sense of entitlement that Thornton seems to have. His repeated references to Tom Petty suggests that Thornton holds himself in an overly high regard as a musician. He is, frankly, mediocre at best. The real talent lies in his bandmates, the astoundingly talented (and genuinely nice guys) J.D. Andrew, Mike Butler, and Brad Davis. Andrew in particular is a hero, for doing his best to rescue the interview and keep things professional.

Ghomeshi was right to point out that a band that has only been together for 2 years would likely not be getting this kind of attention without Thornton’s acting career backing them up. To attempt ignore it is one thing, to sulk if anyone ever mentions it is another. I would even understand if Ghomeshi had spent the time asking the band about acting or other stupid gossip.

I suggest that we treat Thornton the way he deserves to be treated in this context. Ignore his cinematic accomplishments and treat him like any other up-and-coming band. Ignore the “instructions” from his handlers, and if he doesn’t want to play ball with the interviewers, throw him out of the studio. For a band that isn’t yet famous, Thornton shouldn’t be acting like a diva.

Featured Music

4080 goes to the Common/Slum Village Show

100_0173That’s right.  I managed to make it out to Ann Arbor, MI to catch Common and Slum Village play one of the dopest shows I’ve seen.  Common, an artist I’ve been trying to see for years, literally blew my mind.  It was definitely one of the most energetic and crowd-focused shows I’ve had the pleasure to being to.

The whole thing started off with a hilarious faux-battle.  A radio host brought two random kids out of the audience, and surprisingly neither of them were emcees.  And neither of them were very good, but they sure had a good time up there.  The rounds were lackluster but rather hilarious.  The winner’s big zinger was a non-rhyme that went something like “Look at your shirt/ it’s American Eagle/What are you, 14 years old?” The crowd went nuts.

Then enters Slum Village, Detroit’s own hip hop legends.  These cats have been performing for nearly a decade, and were the primary vehicle for the dopest of J Dilla’s beats.  The group has undergone several changes over the years, not the least of which is the replacement of Dilla with Elzhi.  Poor guy has huge shoes to fill.  Elzhi was absent for this show, so Baatin and T3 had to hold it down.  To do this, they brought in a rather generic heavy-set rapper to round things out (no pun intended).

Their set had its ups and downs, overall.  I sadly think I prefer their recorded sound better than their live set, but some of the tracks were amazing.  They hyped up their upcoming release, Villa Manifesto, and debuted a couple of tracks off that release.  However, the moment they started taking it back into the older stuff, hitting up Raise it Up and Tainted, the crowd went nuts.

After a brief intermission, Common came on and the house started getting out of control.  Everyone was out of their seats and startng to dance.  He eased his way into things, starting off with hits people are guaranteed to know.  An energetic performance of Go was followed by what has to be the worst song Common has ever written.  Hell, the worst song I’ve heard in a while.  Sex 4 Sugar is a juvenile attempt at a popular track, and is so un-Common (see what I did there? uncommon/un-Common?)  that I could dedicate a whole post to it.  But he managed to pick himself back up again.

He kept things going, doing I used to love H.E.R, and probably made someone’s day when he pulled a girl out of the 100_0164audience to serenade her with Come Close to Me.    Chantelle, the young asian girl he pulled out, was excited but managed to keep things under control.  Props to her for handling herself well.  Common was showing a bit more cockyness than I expected as well, getting this girl to wipe his sweaty head down with a towel before he started singing to her.  But hey, I guess he’s entitled to a bit of confidence these days.

My hands down, favourite, part of the show came up soon after.  Common, at the end of one of his tracks, broke into this little hip hop medley.  He kept chanting “hip hop, hip hop”, and then would break into a classic verse.  He did the chorus from Bonita Applebum (one of my favourite Tribe tracks), then went on to do the chorus from Definition, did C.R.E.A.M., and did a verse from Pharcyde’s Passing me By.  Then, for no apparent reason, he tacked on a disgusting Kanye West first about someone jacking his lexus.  Totally out of place, but I guess you gotta give a shout out to your friends.

Common even brought Slum Village back out to perform with him for a bit, which was nice.  Those guys deserve a hell of a lot of respect for holding it down for so long.

He kept up his attitude and his enthusiasm all the way through to the end of the show.  He finally built his way up to Universal Mind Control, one of my least favourite tracks.  But by this point he had wound us all up enough that people really cut loose.  The whole auditorium was dancing and screaming.

Then the show ended, with a quick thank you to the audience and a big round of applause.  And the oddest thing happened.

People left.

Seriously.  The auditorium began to empty immediately.  It was like 10:30 pm.  Not late.  It’s not a dangerous part of town.  But no one, and I mean no one, even tried to ask for an encore.  I stayed where I was for a few minutes, to make sure that Common wasn’t going to come back out or anything like that.  But when I saw the throngs of people heading for the exit, I knew that there was no chance.  The day was over.