When my mother and I went to Vancouver last year we walked by a block that had seemingly been reduced to rubble by an extremely localized tornado. It turned out the tornado was an NBC crew, who had temporarily destroyed the block for an upcoming earthquake movie named "10.5." It was impressive seeing the set up close, all the foam rubber debris and such was totally convincing in person, if wasn't for the cameras and crew we never would have known it was fake.
The movie is airing tonite and probably won't be very good, but if you happen to tune in see if you can spot the scenes we walked by, like these mannequins who caught a bad one.
I've been without TV for a year and a half now, and it's amazing how little my life has been affected by the lifestyle change. More than anything I've learned that the tube is so deeply embedded in our culture that removing the actual television appliance from my own life makes me no less a citizen of the TV nation.
I still spend every day hearing jokes and references to the latest hit shows, and even though I've never actually seen most of them, never watched Omarosa or William Hung or Nick and Jessica with my own eyes, I still feel like I get all the jokes, just about as well I did when I was watching along with everyone else.
Don't get me wrong, I'll never be one of those too-cool-for-TV snobs (I have the entire "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" series on my hard drive). But it's been a trip to take a step back for the last year, and get a different perspective by watching from the sidelines.
What does it tell us when a rapper says he plans to vote and it is considered a news event?
Andre 3000 of OutKast Plans to Vote
Andre 3000 of the rap duo OutKast says that when it comes to voting, he's been negligent, but things will be different this November. "Stuff came up," the 28-year-old, whose real name is Andre Benjamin, told The Atlanta Journal Constitution (registupidstration required). "I was out of town, I couldn't see how my vote would matter. It just wasn't that important to me," he said.
But Benjamin, one of dozens of entertainers taking part in a voting promotion, said he has "realized just how important it is. I'm really excited about voting for the first time," the Atlanta native said for an article published Tuesday. Benjamin recently hosted an event for "Declare Yourself," a national nonprofit group that has raised $27 million to try to reverse the trend of a declining youth vote...
Thankfully yesterday's rumors of Elvin Jones' passing turned out to be false, but today comes news of another major loss:
'Sir Coxsone' Dodd is Dead
FOUR days after the City of Kingston honoured him by naming a street for his famous Studio One recording label, Jamaican music pioneer Clement "Sir Coxsone" Dodd died suddenly yesterday.
He apparently suffered a heart attack at his offices at 13 Studio One Boulevard, which, until last Friday's big civic ceremony in honour of Dodd, was Brentford Road...
...Born Clement Seymour Dodd in Kingston on January 26, 1932, he earned the nickname "Coxsone" after a Yorkshire, England cricketer, while attending All Saints School in West Kingston. He was considered a good cricket all-rounder.
But it was as a pioneer of Jamaica's sound system and popular music, from rocksteady to ska and reggae that Dodd was to find fame.
He started out playing bebop and jazz records for customers visiting his parents' liquour store on Laws Street, and later Beeston Street, in Kingston. During a turn at farm work in the United States he widened his knowledge of rhythm and blues music and imported numerous original 45 rpm records, which became the hallmark of his sound system, Sir Coxsone Downbeat.
He started the sound system in the early 50s relying on his imported originals to outplay his competitors, chiefly the late
Arthur "Duke" Reid of Treasure Isle fame.
He opened his studio at Brentford Road in 1963 and since then the name, Studio One, has become synonymous worldwide with the best of early Jamaican pop rhythms - ska, rocksteady and reggae.
Dodd is probably best known outside Jamaica for bringing Bob Marley and the Wailers to national attention and producing some of their most memorable hits, including the international peace anthem, One Love..
More on the man:
The name Clement Seymour “Sir Coxsonne” Dodd is synonymous with the development of Reggae music.
..not only Bob Marley & The Wailers, but also Lee Perry, Horace Andy, Bob Andy, Dennis Brown, Freddie McGregor, Frankie Paul and many others.
Tonight I had an overwhelming urge to blend the beat from Jay-Z and Kanye West's "Encore" with the vocals from O-Town's "Liquid Dreams." But I couldn't find that acapella so I settled for mixing Kanye's beat with "Bring the Noise", and then throwing in John Coltrane's "Ascension" (AKA the "Finnegan's Wake" of Coltrane's discography) for good measure:
This came out rather nicely, but if anyone has that O-Town acapella please let me know.
I don't usually post non-stories like this, but there's one sentence in here I can't resist:
Scuffle erupts during surprise 50 Cent appearance
[Blah blah blah, shoving match at a concert, probably wouldn't be "news" if there was no rapper involved]
Security guards had frisked the rapper and his entourage behind the stage; the rapper was wearing a Gucci holster, but the weapon it held fired only rubber pellets, Barrasso said.
[Blah blah someone got shot in the same neighborhood as the concert, and even though there's no evidence it's related to the show we will toss it in because as every journalist knows, any crime that occurs within a 5 mile radius of a rapper is "rap-related"]
Okay nevermind the bollocks, where can I buy one of these holsters?? Nothing says "keeping it real" like a Gucci Rubber Pellet Gun Holster.
Noted rapper and voter Andre 3000 is considering a foray into the cartoon world:
Andre 3000 Mulling Cartoon Project
Cartoon Network is developing a potential series project with OutKast's Andre 3000. The rapper is hashing out ideas with the cable network for a half-hour special pegged for Cartoon's "Adult Swim" block. If Andre 3000 and Cartoon -- both based in Atlanta -- are happy with the results, the channel will greenlight the special for series treatment.
Mike Lazzo, senior vp of Cartoon's "Adult Swim" program block, quickly got over his reservations about collaborating with celebrities upon meeting with Andre 3000, who has worked as an illustrator. "I'm extremely wary of it, but in Andre's case, I think he is a creative genius," he said. "He has definite opinions of what he likes visually."
This would not, of course, be the first time a rapper got their own animated show. I believe that honor goes to Kid-N-Play, who joined NBC's Saturday morning lineup in 1990 with their self-titled cartoon featuring voices by Martin Lawrence, Tommy Davidson, Dorian Harewood, Rain Pryor and Cree Summer.
"Hammer stars as Stanley Kirk Burrell, a worker at the community centre helping local children. Whenever the hammering beat of his rapping rhymes activates his magic dancing shoes, streetwise Stanley is transformed into Hammerman - the first musical superhero."
One can only hope Andre will match the standard set by these pioneers.
There's been much discussion lately on the rise and fall of Rawkus Records, thanks to recent pieces in XXL and the Village Voice (which some found less than satisfying). So I dug up my 2001 interview with Mr. Walt and Evil Dee of the Beatminerz, where they gave an insider's take on what went wrong within the Rawkus empire. Suffice it to say they didn't mince words:
And here's a little bonus from the same interview, where I got Evil Dee to tell the story of his secret meeting with Vanilla Ice (during a discussion of The Source's list of alltime greatest beats):
(Sidenote: it's trippy for me to listen to this since it was recorded 4 days before 9/11.. crazy to think we were sitting there in the studio which is/was about 5 blocks from the World Trade Center, having no idea what was coming. I wish I had taken a minute to walk by just one more time..)
Another big one.
...Whitehead is best remembered for "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now," a song he recorded with longtime partner Gene McFadden as McFadden and Whitehead. Though the two had worked as writers and producers in the recording industry for more than a decade, they didn't get around to recording a debut album until 1979. The self-titled set included the hit, which reached Number One on the R&B charts and Number Thirteen on the pop charts. A year later it also became something of an anthem for the Philadelphia Phillies' victorious World Series run.
Despite the immediate notoriety the song gave McFadden and Whitehead, their R&B roots go back into the Sixties, where as the Epsilons they toured with Otis Redding. The two fell in with the Philadelphia International label, where they were among the architects of the Philly soul sound. As producers and writers McFadden and Whitehead contributed hits like "Backstabbers" to the O'Jays, as well as inking songs for Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes, the Intruders and numerous others.
The news reports will mostly focus on his biggest pop hit "Ain't No Stopping Us Now," but Whitehead's impact as a songwriter goes much deeper, along with his partner Gene McFadden. Other gems he blessed us with:
The O'Jays - "For the Love of Money"
Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes - "Bad Luck"
The O'Jays - "Backstabbers"
The Intruders - "I'll Always Love My Mamma"
Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes - "Wake Up Everybody"
Since I have no time to blog right now, I will now resort to stealing other people's entries in their entirety. Today's victim: Michael Angelo Matos.
Stephin Merritt in old, out of it, and talking out his ass shockah. "OutKast is boring music for suburban teenagers"--yes, and the Magnetic Fields is boring music for their older siblings who fancy themselves intellectual because they read half a magazine piece by David Foster Wallace.
Other choice Merritt quote: "Beyoncé is not famous for her songs, she’s famous for that outfit." Dude. It's okay to be out of the loop. As long as you don't try to talk like you're in the loop. Then it gets embarrassing.
Sidenote: Does Sasha actually own this? If so he should probably not invite me to his house, cuz things might happen.
Have you ever loved a song for years and sang along to it thousands of times, then one day discovered you were totally wrong about all the lyrics?
"Super Stupid" has always been my favorite Funkadelic track (or at least my favorite of their "who says a funk band can't play rock" tracks), so today I googled it to see if I might be getting one or two words wrong. Turns out to be more than one or two. Here is what I've been singing to myself for 15 years or so:
Super stupid what a fashion fad
Thought he was good but he was scared
Super stupid you go one on one
and his eyes begin to bulge and his nose begins to run
Oh stupid what you up to now?
You're a maggot brain, your wizard frowns
Super stupid you're a engineer
You've lost the fight and the winner is fear
And here, according to google, are the actual words:
Super stupid bought a nickel bag
Thought it was coke, but it was skag
Super stupid did a one and one
Then his eyes begin to water and his nose begin to run
Oh! stupid with your ups and downs
Your maggot brain, your grins and frowns
Super stupid you're here today
You've lost the fight and the winner is fear
Doh! I have too much of an attachment to my version, I'm not sure I can adjust to this.
EDIT: Here is the actual song, for a limited time. Listen and read along with my lyrics, I swear I'm not crazy!! It totally sounds like "fashion fad" and "engineer."
Looks like Shaquille O'Neal is already planning for life after the NBA. Check out this site where a "Cyber-Shaq" hovers on the side of every page, auditioning to replace Microsoft's talking paper clip. (via Soulkhansenses)
One of the greatest of the greats passed on yesterday after a long illness. He deserves a better tribute than I'd be able to offer, so I reached out to one of his peers, my good friend and stepfather Warren Smith, a top jazz drummer in his own right and founding member of Max Roach's M'Boom. Warren offers his memories of Elvin:
ELVIN JONES, this name should always be capitalized when referred to in musical contexts.
I first met ELVIN in Chicago in 1959 while on tour with the West Side Story. ELVIN was playing at a local club "the Blue Note" (Chicago had one too) with the trumpet star Harry Sweets Edison. I had come to hear the organist Jimmy Smith and his drummer Donald Bailey. ELVIN caught me completely off guard. And he sat and talked with me late into the night. When he moved to New York in the next year or so we had a chance to hang quite few times. We found that we shared many common values apart from music. He spoke of his love for his brothers as I did for mine, and our common love of music and various drummers. Max Roach was equally held in esteem by us both. Then ELVIN came to sub for Charli Persip in the orchestra of Johnny Richards while I was playing Tympani. I discovered that ELVIN JONES was an excellent sight reader as well as a brilliant player. Then came the famous stint with the John Coltrane Quartet and ELVIN JONES was elevated to his present stature in Musical History. At this point he became for me the most influential percussionist in African-American Music. Even the brilliance of TONY WILLIAMS, the excellence of ROY HAYNES and all the great percussionists who preceded him to stardom failed to dim the beacon of light that ELVIN cast upon the field throughout the rest of his life.
It was painful to all of us drummers to read of his suffering thru a debilitating illness in various e-mails, and rumors of his ultimate demise. We could sense the inevitability of this occurrence, as we shall enter such a phase in our own lives eventually. But we all love and respect and admire ELVIN JONES and the gift he presented to us over the last 45 years of this great music misnamed "Jazz". ELVIN JONES was, is a great American artist and we shall never forget that fact.
Just remember all caps when you spell the man's name...
Hello, readers of Spin magazine. You may have been given the impression that this is some sort of cool new music blog, regularly updated with funny jokes and such. Perhaps I can keep you from noticing how untrue that is by linking to a bunch of other places where cool stuff is happening:
If they had a pulitzer prize for music blogging, Aaron Wherry would be the frontrunner after scoring this e-mail interview with Ibrahim Ferrer.
Prince just put up some tasty little concert clips on the front page of his site.
Nerve.com has decided there are not enough unreadable blogs in the world, and started a new contest to rectify this. But uhh, Nerve editors, I'm saying.. it's no surprise to find that you draw a lily-white demographic, but couldn't you have at least given us one person of color in this thing? Even Friends hit us off with some Aisha Tyler.
(in all fairness, I will grant that some of the contestants do not entirely suck)
Speaking of which, Richard Prince has the scoop on why Friends may be "NBC's Last All-White Sitcom". His page is worth a regular look for perspectives on race and media. Another blog steadily hitting home runs on racial issues is Prometheus 6.
We didn't get around to acknowledging Malcolm's birthday yesterday, but Democracy Now! was on the case.
And last but not least, I added a bunch of new sites to my links over there on the right side, be sure to check those out.
P.S. - I happen to think Apple is a mighty fine name.
I saw Elvin Jones play on numerous occasions during the sixties in the John Coltrane Quartet. There are three times that stand out in my head. One was in the late fifties when he was the young drummer in the trio of Bud Powell. Not only was he an excellent accompanist but also saw that Bud was okay and helped him remember what city he was in. This was in Pittsburgh. The second time was playing with the Quartet in a club in Pittsburgh called the Crawford Grill # 2. The first set was beginning but Elvin was no where to be found. I heard John say to one of the members of the group "where is the world's greatest drummer." Finally Elvin comes through the door with a large piece of ribs he had gotten at a rib place called the Silver Pig across the street from the club. He had his usual big smile and looked like he was having a great time. The third time was in the same Club, late in the evening, in fact is was the last set of the night. Elvin and John started a duet and played for the next hour and forty-five minutes. It was truly an astounding event with Elvin driving and pushing Trane, never relinquishing his power and his imaginative approach to the drums. He was the greatest drummer of that era. One of the greatest drummers of all time and the strength and pulse behind Trane's creativity. He took John Coltrane to new heights and kept him there.
In case you missed it, Warren Smith's remembrances are here.
I don't usually post personal things here, but I'm gonna take a moment now to acknowledge a close family friend who passed away.. my mom and I went to a memorial gathering today for Robert Swan, one of the coolest, craziest and most creative souls we will ever know.
I'll remember him for so many different ways that he influenced me on my turbulent trip through adolescence, but for now I'll focus on the music: Robert was one of the first serious music lovers and collectors I spent time around as a kid.. he loved making mixtapes, both on cassette and reel-to-reel, always with a wildly divergent grab bag of styles and genres. His tapes introduced me to lots of amazing music I'd never heard before (Graham Central Station and Rotary Connection are two I remember for sure), but more importantly they were my first exposure to a musical sensibility devoid of boundaries.
As soon as my allowance was big enough to buy records I started making mixtapes of my own, trying to emulate Swan's style of making the most unlikely combinations sound natural, even imitating his habit of cutting out a random magazine photo for the cassette case in lieu of a tracklist. Looking back on it now I can trace a direct path from Swan's mixtapes to the blend of hip-hop, jazz and who-knows-what-else that I ultimately developed on my radio show. So much thanks for that, Mr. Swan.
After that was done I went across town for a happier farewell, stopping by my old buddy Katharina Weingartner's house one last time before she heads back home to Vienna. Katharina also played a big part in the development of my show, helping me develop my meager skills as I tagged along on the interviews she did for her legendary Austrian hip-hop mixshow "Tribe Vibes and Dobe Beats," and allowing me to use her basement studio to record all the mixes for my show in the early 90's. Met a bunch of cool people there and was reunited with some very special friends who had been staying at Katharina's house. Lots of memories and inspiration all around.
Everything I needed to know about Nick Hornby I learned from this paragraph in "Songbook":
I once presumed that nothing good - nothing great, anyway - could come out of the mixing and matching and scratching and cutting and pasting, and this was true while the approach of the cutters and pasters remained essentially plagiaristic: the contribution that say, Eric B and Rakim made to their version of "I Know you Got Soul" is minimal - it's Bobby Byrd bassline and beat the define the track.
And any musical response that you might have to Puff Daddy's "I'll Be Missing You" is actually a response to the Police's pretty riff. To create music - to create any art - is surely to pull something out of thin air, to produce something where there previously was nothing.
This passage hit me just like Hornby's Times piece hit Keith Harris, as so severely detached that compassion was the only appropriate response. It was like that heartbreaking moment when you're talking to an elderly relative, struggling to understand how they could be so wrong-minded, and then suddenly your frustration melts into pity as you realize they are just no longer capable of lucidity, and all you can do from now on is smile and nod politely as they drift away from the world.
I would elaborate but I've got work to do (takin care of business, bloggers can't you seeeee), and this has pretty much been covered.
(I do like his novels, BTW)
Here's a classic soul/funk set from a few months ago, when Tomkat filled in for us at the last minute:
Sorry for the last minute warning, but if you see this in time you might be able to catch the Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra performing live in our WBAI studios, tonight from 7 to 9 PM. It's part of Rise Up Radio's fundraising special, which is more than worthy of your support. You can tune in at 99.5FM or catch thew web stream here. OTher luminaries expected to attend inlcude William "Upski" Wimsatt and Free Speech Radio News/Morning Show anchor Deepa Fernandes.
Can somebody who knows flash make a version of the game at the end of this cartoon, using Bush's various attempts to pronounce "Abu Ghraib"?
If you're in the NY/NJ area here are two events to add some funk into your holiday. First, tonight from Monkone and Emskee:
Wax Poetics Issue 8 Release Party, Sunday May 30th
With DJs Monk-1 & Emskee (WBAI Underground Railroad, Wax Poetics) Spinning classics for folks who grew up with hip hop
643 Broadway at Bleecker
tel 212 253 2560
RSVP (including your name!) to: tbrosRSVP@hotmail.com for FREE admission.
Then tomorrow out in Jersey from DJ 3D:
P.P.C.A..N.J. PROMOTING POSITIVE CULTURAL ARTS OF NEW JERSEY PRESENTS:
The DJ Showcase at The 38th Annual African American Heritage Day Parade and Festival
A diverse free form showcase in celebration of African American Heritage. This event will take place on Memorial Day Monday, May 31, 2004, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Weequahic Park located at Elizabeth and Meeker Avenue in Newark, NJ 07105. Admission is FREE and open to all ages.
Featuring DJ 3D from Brooklyn, NY mixing of up a funky and groovy set of Deep house, underground hip hop and classics. DJ 3D has been in the music industry for over 10 years. He is a radio DJ for New York's longest running underground hip hop radio show The Underground Railroad on WBAI 99.5 FM. 3D has performed with artists such as Buck Shot of Black Moon, Paul Barman, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Prince Paul. He has also produced and done remixes for such artists as Asheru and El Da Sensei (formally of the Artifacts).
Also featuring rare public appearances by the reclusive Jay Smooth!