Monthly Archives: September 2009

Music

4080Records Presents: Pigeon John

Pigeon John / Flynn Adam/ Rootbeer

I couldn’t pass this post up.  Pigeon John is a hilarious and progressively more important emcee in the contemporary hip hop world.  I first came across him back when he was doing some stuff with L.A. Symphony, a Christian hip-hop group.  Now I’m not normally one for theological rap, but these guys were good.  Heavy melodies and decent lyrics.  In fact, the little comments about finding the lord and whatnot almost seem like an afterthought, no more obvious than shout-outs to Allah from the likes of Mos Def.

Pigeon John quickly outgrew the group and went solo, releasing several hilariously titled albums like Pigeon John Is Clueless, Pigeon John is Dating Your Sister, and Pigeon John and the Summertime Pool Party. These albums had several great hits.  One of my favourite tracks is off Pigeon John is Dating Your Sister and is called Hello Everybody. I don’t even know why I like this song so much, but somehow I find it really catchy.

He’s developed his own little following.  I particularly love Red Cloud’s tribute to Pigeon John:

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For something a little dancier and newer, check out Freaks! Freaks!.  I’m less of a fan of this one than of his other tracks, but it does show he’s got a little bit of range.

I’ll end it with one last track, Life Goes On featuring Abstract Rude.

I know this is a ton of stuff to have thrown at you at once, but hopefully you can spend some time with it and start checking out some of the related acts too.

Album Reviews Music

Brother Ali – Us

So I quickly mentioned this the other day in my post about some upcoming albums in 2009 and I have to say that since I’ve had a chance to listen to the whole thing, this is just a stellar effort.

I was grossly underwhelmed by the Rope-a-Dope and by The Undisputed Truth, but Us’ target=_blank>Us is one of the best albums I’ve copped in a good while.

Unlike his previous efforts, this is not one that is overtly political.  Far shy of Uncle Sam Goddamn, this album has a lot more soul and melody than anything since Shadows on the Sun

Take Us (the track) for example.  It was featured in my last post, but it is soulful and haunting in a way that shocked me.  It starts off sounding almost like spoken word, and his phrasing is poetic.  There’s no hook, just solid bars and words that actually sound like he meant something.

Slippin Away is grittier and is more traditional Ali.  He’s telling a story of losing control and trying to deal with a childhood that was just downright oppressive.  It’s a story we’ve heard a lot of times, trying to make your way and resist the crazy peer pressure flying his way.

The Travelers is a bit surprising, coming from a white fellow.  It’s a matter-of-fact approach to telling the story of slavery.  It’s one part memorial and one part documentary, and comes across as both honest and not at all trite.  At least in my impression.  It’s totally possible that you may have another opinion.

Travis Lupick of Straight.com makes a pretty interesting observation when he says: “Us is a concept album that gives the impression its songs were inspired by the lives of a thousand real people. Hence the record’s name. It’s a portrait of America that is told with an amazing level of empathy. And it sounds damn good. Entirely produced by Atmosphere’s Ant, Us includes tracks that could almost find their way onto the radio, but overall, remains a jazz-infused product of the underground.”

I like the phrasing of that, but y’all will have to check it out to decide just how hyperbolic he’s being.  Frankly, I love this album and encourage you all to go find it.

Quick

Fanboy Rap

Someone took the time to do a little rap about Mac products…recorded at an actual Apple store.

Awareness

If Mos Def were President

I’m not sure where these are coming from, but this little video of what Mos Def would do if he was president is amazing.  Most of his ideas aren’t really that surprising based on the stuff he’s said in the past, but I particularly cared for the way he ended things….by declaring a 100 year moratorium on several phrases including “in the club”, “that’s hot”, and “shortie”. 

The best part is that he even says he’s not sure how the world would get better if he banned the word shortie, but he’s sure it will.  Hell, I’m sure it would too.

 

Awareness Music

DJing from the UK

djkapyar

Ever heard of DJ Kayper?  No?  Well you, my friend, are missing out one of the best female deejays around town.

Her BBC bio is glowing:

Heavily influenced by legendary DJ Jazzy Jeff, she mastered the art of turntablism at a young age and artfully merged beat juggling and scratch techniques with prime time club DJ sets. Her skills caught the attention of Jazzy Jeff himself who is quoted saying “DJ Kayper is the best female DJ that I’ve ever heard in my life!”

Check it out below.

Music

El Michaels Affair

These cats do instrumental versions of classic hip hop joints.  In fact, they released a whole album in tribute to the Wu-Tang Clan titled Enter the 37th Chamber.

Check out their version of CREAM below.

No disrespect to them, or to the Wu, but frankly it’s a bit remarkable how repetitive the beats can get without some sick rappers dropping verses on it.  Still, may be worth a listen.

Awareness

Everyone knows Kanye’s a dick

Somehow I can’t find the video of the actual incident (most of them have been taken down due to a copyright claim by Viacom), which is totally fine by me.  We’ve all heard all about how Kanye ran on stage when Taylor Swift won the award for Best Female Video, beating Beyonce’s Single Ladies video.  Rolling Stone has a good written coverage of the deal if you’ve missed it.

Basically, it’s another example of Kanye’s self-aggrandizing nature.  He’s a narcissist and, quite frankly, not a nice man.  Besides all the other times I’ve gotten my hate on for Kanye, this really just proves that he’s a dumbass.

KANYE-WEST-VMAs-2009-2

So he does this thing, shocks the world and upsets one of the nicest performers around. (Her quote about the incident was: “Well, I was standing on stage because I was really excited because I had just won the award,” she said. “And then I was really excited because Kanye West was on stage. And then I wasn’t so excited anymore after that.”) It’s unacceptable behaviour, and proves Kanye’s more of a diva than a rapper.  It’s a far cry from Public Enemy fighting the good fight to a rich entitled celeb slamming some Hennessy and ruining the MTV Awards.

Kanye was tossed out and he wrote a big apology almost right away

KANYE-WEST-VMAs-2009-APOLOGY

Even President Obama is unimpressed by his moves.

It’s basically just silly politics, and he is getting mad amounts of publicity out of this deal.  I’m not even going to go into the rest of the aftermath, but suffice it to say that I hope this finally does him in.  He’s got no place in hip hop, besides sitting behind the mixer.

Featured Music

2009 Check the Rhyme – Some Albums of Note

jay-z-the-blueprint-3-album-cover-540x540The rest of 2009 is shaping up to be pretty exciting in the world of hip hop.  Not only have we finally seen the release of Jay-Z’s The Blueprint 3, we’ve got way better stuff coming down the pipe.

Jay-Z – The Blueprint 3

This is, by far, not Hova’s best work, and generally the press seems to agree.  Basically speaking, it’s a totally servicable album and one that isn’t likely to raise too much controversy, but Jay-Z has definitely done better.  AllHipHop seems to love it a little more than I do, but not by much, stating that “it’s not jaw-dropping like the first Blueprint or as succinct as the Black Album, but it’s not all over the place like BP2 and takes more risks than the “safe” lane that was American Gangster (Jay can spin street hustler tales in his sleep).” They do make a good point and say that when people like Jay Z release an album, that unless it’s a classic someone will always hate on it.  NPR has a nice little take on this debate.

I’m the first to admit that I can do that sometimes, especially with cats like Talib Kweli and Mos Def, who I’ve come to expect so much of.  But I can’t help it.  I know they can do better, so I want them to.  Still, it’s not a bad purchase and one of the better albums of the year.

Now there are several albums coming out that y’all should be excited for.

Brother Ali – Us

This album looks very promising.  Ali’s efforts on his last couple of albums (including The Rope-a-Dope) were less than great after Shadows on the Sun.  It’s hard for artists sometimes, when they start off with such a stellar effort, to ever climb out from underneath it.

US, from what I’ve heard so far, is not a bad effort.  You can get a taste of one of the tracks off the album and see for yourself.

Us (the track) is an interesting gospel-backed release and I can see myself getting into it eventually.  Fresh Air is a more upbeat joint.  In some ways, this album has a little bit of a lighter feel to it than his other efforts, but it’s not a bad thing by any means.

And now it’s time for a couple of albums that I haven’t managed to track down yet, but I’m excited for:

Gift of Gab – Escape 2 Mars

I may be one of the few out there who really did enjoy 4th Dimensional Rocket Ships Going Up, but I’m still quite excited for the newest release by the vocal half of Blackalicious.

The Gift of Gab is undoubtedly one of the world’s most talented emcees.  If you don’t believe me, check out Alphabet Aerobics and tell me I’m wrong.  He’s fast, clever, and has had some serious staying power.  I have no idea if Escape 2 Mars will be good, but Pitchfork sounds excited about it.  Take that for what you will, but they do report that Brother Ali, Lateef, and Del the Funky Homosapien will all be stopping by.  I’m excited for it.  Here’s one track off the album, called Gifto Magnifico.

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Ghostface Killah – Wizard of Poetry

I am starting to doubt this cat after this appearance on Jimmy Fallon, but I’ve got enough faith in Ghostface to give him the benefit of the doubt.  At least until I discovered that it’s supposed to be an R&B themed album.

Here’s Baby, a single off this album.  It’s…not what I expected.

These are just a few albums to keep you updated on the world of hip hop, so keep checking back for more.

4080 is looking to get back into a more regular writing schedule, so if you’re interested in participating, drop a comment.

Underreported News

Even politicians love hip hop

I just think this is amazing.  I mean, he is a rep from New York so he should be aware of this stuff, but he is dropping a whole bunch of amazing names on the House. 

So there you go, conclusive proof that even the US Gov’t sometimes likes good hip hop.

 

Art

Diesel Sweeties

Just a quick post about a decent webcomic called Diesel Sweeties.  It takes a while to grow on you, but there are some pretty solid strips to date.

Here are a couple of the ones I’ve enjoyed, especially since they’re all about records and vinyl.