Monthly Archives: January 2010

Music

Wu-Tang vs. the Beatles

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Following up on my previous mash-up post, here’s something that’s also really out there but has way more production value.  Tom Caruna presents Wu-Tang vs. The Beatles – Enter the Magical Mystery Chambers.

This one came to me courtesy of a post over at Metafilter, and I gotta say big-ups to them.

And as one commenter said

Holy shit, are you kidding? The Beatles mashed up with the Wu? PUT IT IN MY EARS.
posted by Tiresias at 11:36 PM on January 17

Sounds about right.  This is a decent album, as far as mashups go.  It doesn’t hurt your ears, and is pretty listenable.

There are a couple of real standout tracks on this album.  Release Yo Self, Run, and C.R.E.A.M are all really dope.  Though I think City High has to be my favourite track on the album.  A bunch of people seem to dig their version of Got Yo Money, but to me it sounds too cluttered and off-beat to make me happy.

You can stream the whole thing for free on the website, or download the whole album over there.  I’m going to go ahead and assume that this won’t remain up for too long, so go cop the album soon.

Music

Mos Def and Talib reunite…for a minute

If you’re like me, you may feel that Talib and Mos have never stood a chance.  Their solo stuff so far has just not been able to live up to the astounding collaboration record they released as Black Star.  Sure there are standout tracks every once in a while, and Mos’ Black on Both Sides is fantastic.  But somehow, I can never shake the feeling that Black Star was close to the perfect record.

By that I mean one of those records you just don’t ever want to change tracks on.  You play it through over and over again.   One end to the other.

Pitchfork is reporting that they got together for a track on Mos’ new album The Ecstatic, and have finally released the video for it.  I like the track.

Music

Funky DL’s odd choice of mashup

BackToFrankmyspaceposter

Funky DL, a emcee who usually makes reasonable choices, has done something completely unexpected.  He has put together a new, free album called Funky DL samples Back to Frank.  In case that name doesn’t ring a bell, I just want to say two words: Amy Winehouse.

That’s right, Funky DL has put together a promo album using the music of Amy Winehouse.

For your free download go straight to: www.funkydl.com/b2f.zip

It’s not the worst thing I’ve heard, and I guess it’s a novel idea.  Funky DL has always had a penchant for a jazzier sound and, despite being a trainwreck, Amy Winehouse does have one hell of a voice.  So check it out if you’re interested.

Here’s a little taste.

Cool

Herbie Hancock does TED

You know that we here at 4080 are pretty big fans of TED Talks.  Not only are they good for dropping some knowledge on you, sometimes they come up with great entertainment too.

Check out the video below to see Herbie Hancock give a solid performance.

Featured Music

Songs that defined the decade!

by Angie B. Freshhip-hop

[Ed: Angie B. Fresh is the host of ‘The Corner‘ on CFUV 101.9 FM in Victoria, B.C.  She’s also the newest contributor to 4080 Records!  Read on for her inaugural post: a passionate, articulate survey of the last decade’s best hip-hop.  And if you know what’s good for you, tune in to her show every Friday from 5-6 p.m.]

Being a child of the late 80’s, this past decade has been the first I can remember from start to finish.  And while I can’t speak for my generational peers, I will always feel as though the 00’s belonged to me.  Rolling Stones called it the “decade of lost chances”, Time called it the “decade from hell”, but I look back on the double-zero’s as the decade of my musical awakening.  Thanks to my brother, I was introduced to hip hop in my early teens and its been my passion ever since.  On that note, I’d like to take a quick look back on the music that served as a soundtrack to my life.

In the interest of keeping this short and sweet, I picked one song per year.  Consider first that Pitchfork Media‘s feature on the best music of the decade contained 500 songs.  Picking just ten favorites was not an easy task, but here goes!

2000
Common – The Light
For a long time after I heard this Grammy-nominated love song I only had ears for Common.  Produced by the legendary Dilla, this soulful and sensual tribute is uplifting and romantic in the most genuine way.  Common’s well articulated love and respect for his woman had ladies everywhere wishing they were Erykah Badu.  “It don’t take a whole day to recognize sunshine”

2001
Nas – One Mic
An instant classic from one of the biggest names in rap, One Mic still gives me goose bumps.  The slow and subtle start, the crescendo into his rage-filled declaration of power, no wonder critics called in legendary. Two years ago I took a short road trip with a few fellow heads to watch Nas perform in Vancouver.  Hearing the opening bars to this track live was an experience of almost spiritual proportions.

2002
Talib Kweli – Get By
I can clearly recall the first time I heard this song; 7 years have passed and I still love it. Produced by Kanye West, it became Talib’s biggest hit to date as a result of its commercial appeal.  The beat is deliciously funky with its piano loops, handclaps and Nina Simone samples, while the lyrics are positively righteous: “They need somethin’ to rely on/ We get high on all types of drugs, when all you really need is love, to get by”.

2003
Little Brother – The Listening
9th Wonder’s beat samples Pete Rock and CL Smooth’s “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” while Phonte and Big Pooh lament the fact that no one listens to full albums anymore or pays enough attention to the lyrics.  This is a song about hip hop by hip hop fans.  “I got suspicions your ear’s to the street where we’re whispering/ are you listening?”  I know I was…

2004
Danger Mouse & Jemini – Ghetto Pop Life
Epic beats from one of the most versatile producers in hip hop, nay music, combined with the inventive and energetic flows of a very talented but underrated MC resulted in a near perfect album.  It was hard for me to pick just one track off this album as the whole thing is clever, creative and fun so I opted for the title track.  It’s a real shame that this project was so slept on because the kind of musical chemistry found with this dynamic duo doesn’t come along often.

2005
Zion I – Bird’s Eye View
Zumbi’s lyrics in this ode to hip hop don’t really put it in the same realm as “I Used to Love H.E.R.”, however the sincerity of his unconditional love for the culture is obvious.  And when his poetry is coupled with the beautiful synthy production provided by Amp Live- complete with subtle strings and pretty piano loops, what you get is a deeply soulful tribute.  “She’s my heart, my mind, my spirit and my bones/ She’s the only one I know that would go across the globe/ Meet me in a foreign land, treat me like I’m home”

2006
Lupe Fiasco – Daydreamin’
This was a tricky pick for me because of the commercial success it garnered.  However I truly believe that good music is good music despite who listens to it.  I was late getting into Lupe, but once I did I knew I was hooked.  The master of metaphor, his slippery lyrical prowess is in full effect in this Jill Scott collabo.  The concept is imaginative, the sound is wonderfully jazzy, what more could you ask for?

2007
Blu & Exile – The World Is (Below The Heavens…)
This album came out of nowhere and then proceeded to blow my mind again and again the more I listened to it.  If you were like me you were asking yourself where the heck this kid Blu came from (he was 22 at the time of its release).  Exile has since become one of my favorite producers,  (check last year’s “Radio” if you like instrumentals) and Blu one of my favorite MCs.  Every beat is perfectly matched to its lyrics; every verse is revealingly heartfelt; this is an album I’ll be listening to for years to come.  “Hell is what you choose to call the present/ That’s why you’re going through it/ I just choose to call it stressin’/ To tell you fools the truth, I don’t feel that’s what I’m destined/ So you can call it hell but bro, I’ll just say I’m below the heavens”

2008
Q-Tip – Gettin’ Up
This sophomore release was a long time coming and worth the wait.  Being a Tribe fan, I welcomed that familiar high-pitched voice back into my playlists immediately.  The vibe is mellow and warm at points yet Tip sounds enthusiastic and energetic throughout. With help from the likes of Raphael Saadiq, D’angelo, and Norah Jones, Q-Tip put together a smooth sounding and perfectly timed celebration of life and love; you can’t help but get into the spirit.  Welcome back Tip!

2009
Tanya Morgan – She’s Gone AKA Without You
Hands down my favorite album of the year, Brooklynati had me wishing I could take up residence in this fictional locale and spend my nights watching the “Hardcore Gentlemen” perform their 15 year old hit 15 times (only people who have been to Brooklynati will get that one).  “She’s Gone” has been described by some as our generation’s “I Used To Love H.E.R” (so I like Common okay??) and it’s just one of the many infectious tracks on the album.  Production from Von Pea and Aeon will have you reminiscing about the so-called Golden Era of hip hop when well-cut jazz loops and soulful samples laid the canvas for thoughtful, witty rhymes. This is one you can pop in and listen to front to back and not have to hit that skip button.

Image from: http://media.photobucket.com/image/hip-hop/nycson98/LoveofHipHop-Collage.jpg

Featured Underreported News

Things we failed to post over the holidays

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Yes, even the venerable writers over here at 4080Records aren’t immune to holiday gluttony and laziness.  So to apologize, here’s a mega post with a bunch of stuff that we failed to post over the holidays that you may find interesting.

Guess who loves 2Pac?

It is literally the last person you would think of (besides the youngest Jonas brother).  Apparently 2Pac’s Changes is so popular that even the Vatican chose it to be on its official MySpace playlist.  I’ll hold off on the snarky comments about the Vatican having a MySpace page, but I’m pretty stoked about this move.  With over a billion Catholics in the world, that is one huge audience for the “dead” rapper (yes, the quotes around dead is a joke).  It actually does show a little bit of self-awareness, as they slipped 2Pac into a list populated by safer choices.  At the minimum, it sort of acknowledges the Vatican’s image problem with the younger generation, and may be an attempt to reach out.  At the least, it’ll boost Pac’s album sales.

CNN Says:

As of Thursday night, “Changes” had been played more than 4.6 million times on the Web site.

Hip Hop’s worst music released on Vinyl

While that’s not the real title of this NPR piece, it may as well be.  It’s a quick comment on how hip hop seems to be passing the vinyl resurgence by.  While the hipsters rejoice, many hip hop labels simply aren’t following the trend.  Whether this is because vinyl isn’t a new fad to hip hop enthusiasts, or whether it’s because the hip hop labels simply aren’t seeing the trend, is unclear.

Appropriately, the production of new hip-hop vinyl has nearly slowed to a halt, even amid soaring demand for overpriced hyper-limited Animal Collective collector’s editions and overpriced reissues of Beatles albums. A few of the larger, artsy independent labels — Stones Throw, Rhymesayers — still press albums to vinyl, but most majors and smaller labels have abandoned the format.

They go on to list a bunch of albums that came out on vinyl this year.  Most are absurd, commercial monstrosities.  Albums by Soulja Boy, Gucci Mane and others.  Still, Raekwon’s new album, and  the new UGK album both made the list, which is nice.

Best Def Jam Songs of the last 25 Years

NPR does redeem itself with this list.  A bunch of NPR writers/contributors picked their favourite Def Jam tracks to celebrate Def Jam’s 25th anniversary.  Amazing tracks are featured here, like Slick Rick’s Children’s Story, Beastie Boys’ Brass Monkey and, of course, Sisqo’s Thong Song.  I’m not joking.  That actually made the list.  But yes, check it out and revel in the retro hits.

How to Repair Warped Vinyl

Lifehacker pointed me to this piece by Wired Magazine. They do make note of a couple of things:

Thin vinyl is harder to fix, and tends to warp easier, even after you straighten it. Some warps are harder to fix than others – dish warps are the easiest to fix, while edge warps can be more troublesome.

The basic premise is pretty straightforward.  You place your warped vinyl between two heavy sheets of glass and put it in some sunlight.

You can also heat records with the help of Mother Nature. Use the same method as above, and put the LP sandwich in direct sunlight. The glass will slowly heat up and the vinyl will begin to soften. If the glass doesn’t seem heavy enough to press the LP flat, find a weight (a can of soup or some such) to press it down in the middle. Normally, 10-15 minutes is long enough to heat the vinyl. After it’s cooked, let it cool and give it a spin.

Crazily enough, they also say you can use your oven, heated to 200 degrees farenheit and bake it for 5-10 minutes.  That seems a little too scary to me, but I guess if your LP is so warped you can’t play it, you don’t really have anything to lose.

Record Labels Screw Over an Indie Record Store

BoingBoing is reporting that Legend Records, an iconic independent record store in Ottawa, has been forced to plead guilty to a charge of copyright infringement.  BoingBoing says that the store was importing rare CDs, and apparently the major record labels just don’t care for it.

Apparently, these discs (which are themselves licensed, as far as I can tell) aren’t licensed for sale in Canada, and Canadian law (apparently) bans this kind of parallel importation.

But none of these CDs are actually available in Canada. And no one orders rare, expensive imports unless he’s already got the artist’s entire catalog.

Who among the hip hop purests out there hasn’t drooled over some rare Japanese import?  Some of the dopest hip hop groups in North America have only ever really found commercial success abroad.  Why shouldn’t we be able to purchase a CD and support the artists we love?