Tag Archives: Music

Cool Music

Jay-Z – I can’t get with that

I’ve been reading Decoded recently, which is a surprisingly good read.  The usual self-rationalization etc., but Jay-Z shows some surprisingly insightful moments.  In the book, he discusses the track I Can’t Get with That, as one of his first music videos when he was really trying to get out there.  Back before labels took him seriously.  He describes it as as a showcase for his various flows, and it’s a pretty amazing thing to watch.

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.”


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 Headline

Reflections on Collecting


In the course of my aimless internet nomadism, I stumbled across a reference to an essay written by Walter Benjamin on book collecting, titled “Unpacking my Library”. It’s a profound and moving piece written by someone who clearly loves books, and loves the act of collecting books even more.

I am unpacking my library. Yes, I am. The books are not yet on the shelves, not yet touched by the mild boredom of order. I cannot march up and down their ranks to pass them in review before a friendly audience. You need not fear any of that. Instead, I must ask you to join me in the disorder of crates that have been wrenched open, the air saturated with the dust of wood, the floor covered with torn paper, to join me among piles of volumes that are seeing daylight again after two years of darkness, so that you may be ready to share with me a bit of the mood – it is certainly not an elegiac mood but, rather, one of anticipation – which these books arouse in a genuine collector.

Even better is this point:

On the other hand, one of the finest memories of a collector is the moment when he rescued a book to which he might never have given a thought, much less a wishful look, because he found it lonely and abandoned on the market place and bought it to give it its freedom – the way the prince bought a beautiful slave girl in The Arabian Nights. To a book collector, you see, the true freedom of all books is somewhere on his shelves.

You see the same is absolutely true about those who collect music. There’s something beautiful about seeing albums on your shelves, but there’s something almost equally poetic about sitting among the piles. About being surrounded by the clutter of music and liner notes and amazing cover art. About finding something in the dollar bin, or a record at a garage sale, or as an mp3 on some now-defunct message board, posted by a hopeful young musician to whom no one ever replied. The true freedom of all music is somewhere in our collections.

I’ve had it both ways. I’m fastidious about organizing my collection. I want to be able to find my music, most of the time. At one time my CD binder (yes, I had one of those massive zippered binders, and yes, I had a CD collection) was alphabetized and organized by genre. Same with my LPs. In fact, my mp3 collection is still that way. And yet many times the biggest joy I get is just setting my player on shuffle. I like the surprise. Although less tactile than what Walter Benjamin experienced, it never fails to make me smile on the subway when a song is suddenly seeing daylight again after years of darkness.


DJ Jazzy Jeff’s Summertime Mix

I slept on this for a little longer than I was hoping, but better late than never!  In these dying days of summer, I thought it’d be a good idea to give you a little fresh summer playlist to carry you as long as the days stay warm.  We’re no stranger to summer mixes, though it’s been a minute since we posted one. 

DJ Jazzy Jeff and Mick Boogie have put out a killer summer mix consisting of 49 tracks of pure summer joy.  Check out the playlist below, then head over to to Jazzy Jeff’s website to download:

1. Summertime Intro

2. Kool & The Gang: Summer Madness (Live Version)

3. Kool & The Gang: Summer Madness

4. Quincy Jones: Summer In The City

5. Ahmad: Back In The Day

6. Ice Cube: It Was A Good Day

7. Roy Ayers f/ Mary J Blige: Everybody Loves The Sunshine

8. Pharcyde: Passin’ Me By (Ffej Remix)

9. Jay-Z f/ Babyface: Sunshine

10. Ramsey Lewis: Sun Goddess

11. A Tribe Called Quest: Find A Way (Ffej String Edit)

12: Bush Babies f/ Mos Def: The Love Song

13. Jodeci: Get On Up

14. The Commodores: High On Sunshine

15. J Dilla f/ Dwele : Think Twice

16. Erick Sermon f/ Marvin Gaye: Music (Mick’s Marvapella Edit)

17. Bernard Wright: Who Do You Love

18. LL Cool J: Loungin’

19. A Tribe Called Quest: Hot Sex

20. Main Source: Live At The BBQ

21. Nuyorican Soul: Nautilus

22. Pharcyde & Sublime: Summertime

23. Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff: Summertime Remix

24. Michael Jackson: I Can’t Help It

25. De La Soul: Breakdawn

26. Musiq: Just Friends

27. Carl Thomas: Summer Rain

28. Faze-O: Riding High

29. Dionne Warwick: Walk On By

30. Skee-Lo: I Wish

31. Black Moon: Who Got The Props

32. Frankie Beverly and Maze: Before I Let Go

33. Nu Shooz: I Can’t Wait

34. Montell Jordan: This Is How We Do It

35: The Roots f/ George Benson: Breezin’

36: Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff: Time To Chill

37. Biggie: Can’t You See

38. James Brown: The Payback

39. En Vogue: My Lovin’

40. Bobby McFerrin: Sunshine Of My Life

41. Fifth Dimension: Let The Sun Shine In

42. Mos Def: Sunshine

43. Nine: Whatcha Want

44. Otis Redding: Sittin’ On The Dock

45. 2Pac: I Get Around (Mick’s String Edit)

46. Zapp: Computer Love (Terry’s Mirage On The Water Mix)

47. Seals And Croft: Summer Breeze

48. Jay-Z: Dear Summer

49. Weldon Irvine: Morning Sunrise


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. 


Coachella Fun – Want to see the Gorillaz live?


I feel like I spend half my time linking to Pitchfork articles, but I guess that’s because they do a damn good job at covering music.  They’ve created a big post linking to a bunch of videos from the Coachella festival.

Wired loved the festival, particularly Jay-Z’s set

But that’s not to say there weren’t highlights, the biggest I’m-texting-my-friends-about-this-right-now moment being when he brought out Beyoncé Knowles — the Bonnie to his Clyde — to sing the chorus on his track “Forever Young.” They’re a couple that eschews much, if any, attention given to their union, but for those few minutes onstage, the Coachella crowd got a small glimpse of what it’s like to see two of the biggest names in music, well, flirt. Needless to say, it went over well.

“I got goose bumps when Beyoncé came out,” Matt Johnson of indie dance-punk duo Matt & Kim said Saturday, to which his band mate Kim Schifino replied, “See? Going in [I was thinking], ‘I bet 10 bucks he brings out Beyoncé.’”

Read More http://www.wired.com/underwire/2010/04/coachella-2/#ixzz0lhVaA65v

Personally, I was a fan of watching the Gorillaz performance with De La Soul (via video of course since I couldn’t be there for real.)  Watch that below.

Awareness Music

Update On Blogger’s Removal of Music Blogs

Yesterday, we posted that Blogger had rather surreptitiously shut down several popular music blogs.  Today, Pitchfork is reporting that Blogger has issued a statement in its defence.  In the statement, the Google-owned service explains its policy for enforcing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (the controversial American copyright law), noting that when it receives multiple DMCA complaints about the same blog, and has “no indication that the offending content is being used in an authorized manner,” they will remove the blog (italics mine).

In other words, the burden of proof is on the blogger.  The statement goes on to say that

“Inevitably, we occasionally receive DMCA complaints even though the blogger does have the legal right to link to the music in question. Whether this is the result of miscommunication by staff at the record label, or confusion over which MP3s are “official,” it happens. If this happens to you, it is imperative that you file a DMCA counter-claim so we know you have the right to the music in question. Otherwise, if we receive multiple DMCA complaints for your blog, this could very well constitute repeat offenses, compelling us to take action.”

Fortunately, the DMCA complaint form seems fairly stringent and requires a lot of specific information, ostensibly preventing anyone from shutting down a blog they don’t like by sending off an accusatory email or two to Blogger.  And what’s more, Blogger’s policy (according to the statement) is to notify blog owners of any complaints made against them and to reset the offending post to ‘draft’ status, allowing them to remove the infringing content.

But that doesn’t explain why so many blogs were shut down so quickly and, apparently, without warning. 

Several commentators are pointing to this incident as further proof of the ineffectiveness of the existing online copyright regime.  As Techdirt points out,

… there are two real issues here. First, is the ridiculous “left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing” aspect of record label lawyers sending out DMCA takedowns for content that its marketing department sent to the blogs on purpose. But second, and much more important, is the ridiculousness of the DMCA‘s notice-and-takedown provisions in its safe harbors. It’s a “guilty until you’re innocent” type of measure. It effectively forces Google into a position where it needs to take down the content, until a blogger goes through the confusing process of filing a counternotice.

The response to this whole kerfuffle has been widespread and, often, intense.  We’ll keep you abreast of any updates.  Hopefully it gains enough steam to positively affect how intellectual property rights are regulated on the internet, leading eventually to a fairer and more transparent framework.


Record Tripping and Gorillaz Groove

Not much to this post beyond some pretty fun and easy Flash games by the Bell Brothers.

Record Tripping

RecordTripping It’s a strange mashup of deejaying, Alice in Wonderland, and puzzles.  But it’s a good way to spend 5 or 10 minutes of your day.  It’s hard to explain what actually goes on, beyond the fact that your mouse (a scroll wheel is required to play) allows you to scratch what sounds like an audio recording of Through the Looking Glass or something

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Sean Patton hates Music Snobs

This is actually an entertaining rant from comedian Sean Patton.  As someone who probably verges on music snobbery from time to time (I have been known to hate from time to time), I can definitely appreciate how annoying it can be to other people.

Check it out.