What I’m Listenin’ To These Days

It’s been a while since I’ve made any kind of regular contribution to this site. Work and after-work activities have been keeping me busy, and 4080 has had to take a back seat to all of that. The other day I was brainstorming ways to ease back into blogging, and I figured one method would be to do a weekly post on all the music I’ve been listening to. We’ll see how long I can keep it up, but here’s the first in what is hopefully a long, regular and interesting series of posts about the tunes I happen to be feeling at any given moment.

Freddie Hubbard – Straight Life (CTI Records, 1970)

I bought this LP a while ago (a year, maybe?), but never really gave it a thorough listen. For some reason, I remember feeling indifferent about it. Luckily, I decided to give it a spin this morning while I was doing some cleaning and was completely blown away; this album is damn good. It’s only three tracks, but the first two are some of the funkiest jazz fusion I’ve ever heard. Freddie Hubbard lays down sweet, sweet trumpet solos over latin-inspired grooves by bassist Ron Carter (who also played on A Tribe Called Quests’s classic album The Low End Theory) and drummer Jack DeJohnette. Also dropping solos are saxophonist Joe Henderson and pianist Herbie Hancock (!). But the cherry on the funk cake is George Benson, whose guitar sustains the album’s funkiness, especially when the soloists stray a little too far into straight jazz.

Dr. Dre – “Kush” (Detox, Aftermath, 2011)

Dre is finally releasing Detox, which has been in the works since the early 1930s. The latest single, featuring Eminem, is straight garbage, but “Kush” is nice. It’s an updated version of that classic Dre sound – pianos, thick baselines, simple drums. Akon is on the hook, which sucks, but Snoop stops by for a guest 16 which includes the obligatory “Bitch!” exclamation by Dre. The lyrics are standard, but you don’t listen to Dre for the words, it’s all about the West Coast vibe.

Pacific Division – “Pac Div” (2009)

Pacific Division’s been around for a while, but I only recently stumbled on to them. Comprising two brothers and a close friend from SoCal, Pacific Division puts a different spin on West Coast rap music. Their song “Pac Div” is based on a simple trumpet loop (or maybe it’s a saxophone sample?) and boom-bap drums, but it’s surprisingly effective. You’ll be nodding your head for sure.

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