Monthly Archives: October 2010

Cool Music

Gorillaz live on Letterman

Below is a full 45 minute concert from the Gorillaz that they performed after an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman.  It’s pretty wicked.

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Featured Headline Politics

The Truth About Taxes in America

Taxes are a contentious thing in America, seemingly more so than in any other western country. Despite the advice of Oliver Wendell Holmes, who famously described them as the cost of civilization, Americans detest all forms of taxation – especially on income. And the idea that President Obama has raised income taxes seems to be well-entrenched on the right. After all, it fits nicely with the their understanding of Obama as a socialist (a conclusion reached long ago in Tea Party circles).

It’s a testament to the epistemic closure of the current political climate that this notion has gone unchallenged for so long. Because the truth is that Obama has in fact lowered income taxes. According to an article published yesterday on the New York Times website, since 2008, Democrats have cut taxes “by up to $400 a year for individuals and $800 for married couples.”

But no one seems to have noticed:

In a New York Times/CBS News Poll last month, fewer than one in 10 respondents knew that the Obama administration had lowered taxes for most Americans. Half of those polled said they thought that their taxes had stayed the same, a third thought that their taxes had gone up, and about a tenth said they did not know. As Thom Tillis, a Republican state representative, put it as the dinner wound down here, “This was the tax cut that fell in the woods — nobody heard it.

The article offers several reasons for why Americans may be unaware of the cuts, including rising state taxes.

And yet the Obama administration remains unfazed by the confusion. In fact, it may have designed the cuts specifically to go unnoticed (!):

Faced with evidence that people were more likely to save than spend the tax rebate checks they received during the Bush administration, the Obama administration decided to take a different tack: it arranged for less tax money to be withheld from people’s paychecks.They reasoned that people would be more likely to spend a small, recurring extra bit of money that they might not even notice, and that the quicker the money was spent, the faster it would cycle through the economy.

(Ignoring economics for a second, it’s remarkable to consider that an American president would forgo an opportunity for political gain in order to implement the correct fiscal policy.)

It’s also worth considering that income taxes remain low by historical standards. Taxes for the top income bracket are the lowest they’ve been since 1990, and are nearly three times lower than 1953 (the supposed halcyon days of unfettered capitalism and American values that Tea Partiers yearn for). Moreover, income taxes in the U.S. are lower than in most other developed economies, including Germany and the United Kingdom.

Considering this, it seems ridiculous that pundits and politicians are able to claim in all seriousness that the U.S. is slipping towards socialism. The truth is that America remains a decidedly capitalist place.

(Photo by voteprime)

Cool

?uestlove is writing a book (and a digression)

Once again, Pitchfork broke this story about ?uestlove’s plan to write a book.  They noted that ?uest is famous for his stories of celebrity encounters, and actually has a website designed to showcase some of them.  I went over, and poked through a few here and there, and finally read the one about Erykah Badu.

Now I realize that most of the hip hop world knows this already, but the Badu story really tripped me out.

He writes:

me being the kang of snoring and all this hair has prompted erykah and james “im in!” poyser to tell the engineer to press record whilst i lay near my drumset and these two fools sing songs of my snoring and my bed head. most of which was for yalls amusement on her “afro” a real time in between songs mess around banter (most of which heavily edited to my happiness) during that week.

And in my head, all I could think about was that little intro on Baduizm that just goes

Pick your afro daddy…because it’s flat on one side…” and whether or not that applied to ?uestlove (or someone quite like him).

I get the timelines may not match up, but it really got me wondering who these little tidbits are about.  How many artists I’ve listened to are linked in some way that I just honestly haven’t really thought about.

In the real world (yes, internet, there’s a life outside of 4080Records), the world can be a tiny place.  People are way more connected than I imagined.  So why can’t it be the same way in the hip hop world?

Anyways, Pitchfork says this about the book:

The tome is titled Mommy, What’s a Questlove? and will be published by Grand Central Publishing. It isn’t due out until at least 2012, though (books take time, people). According to Okayplayer, What’s a Questlove? will feature “music factoids with real life stories, celebrity encounters, and thoughts on life written in his signature stream-of-consciousness style.”

Music

A (Short) Tribute to Eyedea

So it’s confirmed: Eyedea passed away over the weekend. One of the great unheralded talents of hip-hop, Eyedea had a vast vocabulary which he combined with a poetic sensibility and an effortless cadence. It’s a shame he never gained widespread popularity. But his talent was undeniable, and his music will live on as a testament to the possibilities of seriously good rap music. Easily my favourite track of his is “Paradise”, from his 2004 album E&A with collaborator DJ Abilities. The tune is a melancholic eulogy of a dysfunctional relationship. In it, Eyedea offers a litany of romantic vanities and inadequacies that capture perfectly the contradictions of human relationships. Paired with DJ Abilities’ utterly smooth beat, the song is, in my opinion, among the best hip-hop love songs ever made. But on a more personal level, it’s one of those rare songs that represents a very specific period in my life; it’s an eidetic trigger, I guess. Whenever I hear it I’m back at that spot. I won’t go in to specifics, but I will say that for me, “Paradise” has added emotional significance. And right now, it seems incredibly appropriate:

Awareness Underreported News

R.I.P. Eyedea?

418eyedea2 lo

I hesitate with posting things like this until they are truly confirmed, but this one really caught me off guard.

According to HipHopDX (a website that has been pretty reliable in the past) Eyedea, one half of Eyedea and Abilities, has passed away.

The details of what happened, at this point, are speculation.  Allhiphop.com says

“It is with great pain and sadness that I tell you my son Mikey (Eyedea) has passed away,” Averill wrote on Facebook.
The cause of death for Eydea remains unknown and his mother requested privacy.
“At this time we kindly request your respect and our privacy as we process this devastating loss. On behalf of Mikey’s family, close friends and fans, thank you.”

I don’t know what to say exactly other then the fact that this quite tragic.  Eyedea, while not exactly a huge commercial success, was an imaginative and creative artist.  The music that he and Abilities made together was original and helped put Rhymesayers on the map.

Obviously all our thoughts are with his family.

Cool Hip-hop Film

Biggie and Tupac

There’s a documentary going around the internet (legitimately and legally) about the deaths of the Notorious B.I.G. and 2Pac, two of the biggest hip hop stars this mortal realm has ever known.  Many of the links are US only, so here’s one that streams it online worldwide.

Here’s the description:

Biggie and Tupac is a no holds barred investigation into the still unsolved murders of two of the biggest superstars rap has ever produced; Christopher Wallace, aka Biggie Smalls, and Tupac Shakur. Answering the crusading calls for justice from Biggie’s mother Voletta, Broomfield hits the streets from East Coast to West Coast, putting his own life at risk as he uncovers sensational new evidence that points directly to the involvement of the LAPD and imprisoned Death Row records co-founder Marion ‘Suge’ Knight in the violent slayings that shocked the hip hop world

I haven’t seen the film yet, so I can’t comment.  But I’m stoked that people haven’t forgotten.  In a world where there’s so much technology and resources, it’s still surprising that no one was ever able to solve these decades-old murders.

Trailer is below:

Watch more free documentaries

Music

Stop looking at my moms!

Courtesy of BoingBoing.

Apparently it’s a young one known as the Astronomical Kid.  It’s pretty funny, and actually seems to have taken quite a bit of effort.  His personal website was overwhelemed, so I couldn’t access it.  But it seems like this kid is blowing up.

 

The New York Daily News ran a story on him, where he talks about his inspiration for the track.

"I didn’t like the way people were staring at my mother when I walked down the street. It was very offending," the Bedford-Stuyvesant teen said.

"Every kid goes through that; every mother goes through that.

"Women, they are not pieces of meat. They are human beings. They should be respected," he added. "Men should know better."

Brian, a 5-foot-3 high school freshman, said he was infuriated by drooling men hollering, "Yo, Ma! What’s good, Ma?" at his mother on the street.

"I decided instead of being violent, and going about it the wrong way, I’d put it on a record," he said. "It’s a track everyone can relate to. I don’t like people lookin’ at my moms. I’m pretty sure nobody likes it."

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/10/14/2010-10-14_teen_rapper_angry_with_guys_ogling_his_ma_has_a_hit_on_youtube_calls_out_catcall.html#ixzz12Kb4kr00

At least the kid’s heart is in the right place.  And remember how was I saying the kid is blowing up? Turns out he’s opening for Fabolous soon. 

Cool Underreported News

Jay-Z and Warren Buffet in Forbes

Apparently Hova and the Oracle had a meal together and did an interview with Forbes to talk about their success and the need to give back.  It’s a fascinating read, and worth checking out.

They focus a lot on how the two of them got their respective starts in business, and what they learned along the way.  Considering how different their lives were, it’s interesting to see how similar their business acumen and philosophies have become.

Cool

Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake’s History of Rap

So it’s been a LA minute since I’ve posted anything (yeah, it’s a phrase I just invented), but this was a little too good not to post. I think over the years, my opinion towards Timberlake has softened a lot. I’ve been a big backer of Fallon for a while though. I may have doubted him a little when I heard the Roots were moving to become a talk show backup band, but I stand corrected. Fallon’s been a bastion of hip hop on TV, and has had some of the best music acts perform live regardless of genre. So the other night, Fallon had Justin Timberlake on to talk about JT’s role in The Social Network. While on, they got chatting about JT’s love for hip hop. And, apparently, Sugar Hill Gang opened for N’Sync back in the day. Who knew? The two of them decided to bust out in what was actually a pretty awesome "evolution of hip hop" type video. Check it out.