Category Archives: Cool

Might not fit anywhere else, but still worth reading.

Awareness Cool Underreported News

Kobe Bryant’s failed rap career

Grantland has a great story on The secret history of Kobe Bryant’s failed attempt at a rap career.  It’s a bit of a long read, but in the best possible way.

It tracks Kobe’s path through his time signed at Sony Entertainment and provides surprisingly relatable discussions about his struggles to remain true to his original intention versus being moved towards the radio-friendly pop sound that the mainstream wanted (or that the label thought they wanted).  Here’s a quick snippet from the article:

 “You know what’s funny? He sounds dope,” she says afterward. “Compared to the rappers today, he’s dope. He sounds like an underground backpack rapper. It don’t even sound like Kobe Bryant. I would want to hear more from this kid if I didn’t know who he was. That’s funny. Nobody raps like that anymore. Yo, he came there to prove a point. He put thought into that. I couldn’t hear it for years when everyone joked about it. Now hearing it, he doesn’t sound bad.”

Clark Kent has a different take on Bryant’s performance. “He just seemed like one of those guys that wanted to be good so bad that he was trying to use the most intelligent [words] and have the sick vernacular. It was like, ‘Calm down, duke. Just rap.’ He was the lyrical-miracle-genius-type rapper.”

Cool

Amoeba Records sells digital rarities

Amoeba Music recently relaunched their online presence, but with a much more effective spin.  Beyond the traditional online sales and music downloads, they’ve begun to focus on curated “musical rarities”.

…possibly the most intriguing element of that site, and a direct reflection of Amoeba’s dig-deeper philosophy, is the so-called Vinyl Vaults section — thousands of rare and out-of-print LPs, 78s and 45s that flow through the company’s three outlets in any given week — now available for sale via download.

It’s a solid business plan because it brings great access to hard to find music.  It’s also fraught with some risk.  In certain cases, they do not have a deal with the artist to sell their music.  When they haven’t been able to get in touch with the artist, Amoeba says they are putting proceeds from the sale into an escrow account.  Essentially, they are putting the money aside to pay royalties to the artist (or copyright holder) whenever they find them.

Hopefully this pays off for them and inspires other stores to do the same (and hopefully they don’t get immediately sued by some disgruntled artist.)

via Music retail giant puts tunes online | Variety.

 

Awareness Cool

Questloves Top 50 Hip-Hop Songs of All Time | Rolling Stone

Questloves Top 50 Hip-Hop Songs of All Time | Rolling Stone.

This is fantastically exciting.  Not because of what actually appears on the list (there’s always controversy whenever someone tries to put something together like this).  It’s more that I have a tremendous amount of respect for Questlove.  He knows music, all kinds of music, and this list is a great place to start for someone who is newly trying to get into hip hop.

Awareness Cool

Wax Poetics

Wax Poetics magazine, a quarterly and impressive publication, has just announced that it is now available on iOS and Android devices.

While subscriptions and back issues to Wax Poetics are quite expensive at the moment, I think this is an extremely positive step. Music and culture magazines stand the most to gain from tablet and electronic publication. It allows the reader to view links and videos, preview tracks and check out pictures in full, beautiful colour.

The more magazines adopt this, the cheaper (hopefully) they become. Plus, maybe the tech behind it will improve.

Awareness Cool

Hip-hop stars shift on homophobia

Hells yeah.  It’s about time someone started to talk about this.  Ever since Frank Ocean came out, people finally began to discuss the shift in the hip hop landscape and their treatment of homophobia.

It’s by no means as graduated and accepting as it should be yet, but progress is slowly being made.  When you have some of the biggest names in hip hop on your side (Not to mention Tyler the Creator’s furious underworld hype), it doesn’t really matter what anyone else says.

The article, Hip-hop stars hit pause on homophobia in rap, covers some pretty wide-ranging territory.  It features quotes from many big names.  One of the most interesting notes comes from D.M.C., who states

D.M.C. is skeptical about some of hip-hop’s recent support of Ocean, since he believes homophobia is still rampant in the culture. Still, he is sure a homosexual hip-hop act will emerge: “Of course there’s going to be a gay rapper.” He said that a rapper’s success would be determined not by his sexuality, but by the quality of his raps.

Baby steps.

Cool Music

Hologram Tupac blows my mind

tupac_2

2Pac’s holographic appearance at Coachella this year may be the most overhyped/coolest thing I’ve ever seen.  If you haven’t seen it yet, view the video below:

I’ve heard from multiple people that it was better on video that it was in person, but it’s still pretty technologically amazing.  This article from the Atlantic has a different take on it.  A profoundly critical one.  Take a look:

And much like Spinal Tap, Hologram Tupac carries traces of graying desperation. Dre’s The Chronic turns 20 years old this year, and with the exceptions of Wiz Khalifa and Kendrick Lamar none of the vaunted lineup of guests onstage for Dre and Snoop’s set represented fresh talent. Eminem and 50 Cent are household names but well removed from the best music of their careers. Warren G is a sentimental favorite; Kurupt is the answer to a trivia question.

Dr. Dre is 47 years old, Snoop is 40, and Hologram Tupac is forever 25. Hip-hop may have finally aged into an era of Oldies Revues—lavish and ludicrously expensive Oldies Revues, but Oldies Revues nonetheless—and Hologram Tupac stands as a marker of faux vitality, a callback to glory days, a nod to a crowd geeked on nostalgic sentiment. Seen in this light, Hologram Tupac starts to feel crass and exploitative, a mutually agreed-upon sham between performer and audience, the high-tech evolution of the Elvis impersonator.

I don’t think I felt that strongly about it.  I was more impressed from the tech side of things than anything else.  I guess I never gave it a second thought.  Give us your thoughts below.

Awareness Cool

Adair Lion – Ben

An interesting track that confronts the whole “homophobia” in hip hop issue.  It’s definitely not fixing the problem, but as long as it’s getting people talking, it’s something I can get behind.  Obviously I recognize all the caveats apply about how people shouldn’t have to justify their existence, and really shouldn’t have to  be told that it’s okay to be themselves.  But knowing how few people in the hip hop community talk about this is enough to make it worthwhile.

Adair Lion has been getting some good press out of this lately, particularly because he calls out Lil’ Wayne and Kanye in the track.  Give it a listen. 

Gay is okay, even in hip hop.
Cool Geek

Lost Nintendo Commercial Featuring ODB, The RZA and Prince Paul

Greatest commercial ever? Yup! Hearing RZA scream “and the BORDERS” is a surprising effective advertising technique.

COD CREW & WU TANG NINTENDO VIDEO from WEN1COD on Vimeo.

Props: TheRapUp

Cool

Things Kids will never have to worry about

Supplies-and-Tools

Amusing article from Forbes about things our kids will never have to worry about thanks to technology.  This one especially struck home

8) Having to endlessly search to find unique content.

Related to the previous point, the digital generation will never recall a time when they had to hunt for the obscure media content they desired. When I was a teenager, I spent an absurd amount of time and money trying to find (and sometimes import) rare vinyl or CD versions of singles or albums from my favorite artists. I will never forget the day in the early 1980s when, after a long search, I finally found a rare Led Zeppelin B-Side (“Hey Hey What Can I Do”) on a “45” in a dusty bin at a small record store. It was like winning the lottery! Today, virtually any piece of desired content, no matter how obscure, is just a quick search away.

It’s true.  Our kids will never know quite how hard it was to find a rare album or single.  These days, once they’re found, these type of things often end up as MP3s and publicly distributed.  Beautiful in terms of sharing, but some of the experience is lost.

Art Cool

Montreal’s A’shop creates massive Art Nouveau-Inspired Mural 

This Mural is one of the most beautiful pieces of street art that I’ve ever seen.

What is the idea behind this piece? What does it represent?

The idea was to step out of our comfort zone and show the public what graffiti artists can be capable of. There is an amazing amount of quality work being produced within Montreal’s graffiti scene. Unfortunately, bad press and political strategies often only show the “negative” side of it , creating unneeded friction between citizens and our culture. Graffiti as a form of visual language can be hard to comprehend for most. We thought it would be interesting to paint this mural in a more common language, using imagery that anyone can understand, initiating dialog and building bridges. For this, we chose to inspire ourselves from Alphonse Mucha, father to Art Nouveau (1860-1939). A style of art that most people know or have seen before. Of course we gave it our own flavour and used N.D.G as the main theme. The end product being our take on “La Notre-Dame-de-Grâce” Our Lady of Grace”
Watch them build it: