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May 2009 Archives

May 18, 2009

A Brief History of Autotune

Cool rundown and analysis by Jace Clayton:

Pitch Perfect
The History of Autotune

The most important piece of musical equipment of the last 10 years is not an instrument or a physical object. It’s called Auto-Tune and is used on roughly 90 per cent of all pop songs. It is what’s known as a ‘plug-in’, a specialized piece of software made to be inserted into other, bigger pieces of audio software. Auto-Tune bends off-key notes into pitch perfection.

Auto-Tune was initially used discreetly to smooth over wrong notes. It is fitting that Cher’s 1998 single ‘Believe’ brought the first cosmetic (rather than corrective) use of Auto-Tune to mainstream visibility: when the taut skin and other side-effects of repeat plastic surgery form their own aesthetic, we can think of it in terms of Auto-Tune. Where you can hear certain phrases on ‘Believe’ go robotic – that’s Auto-Tune at work. Within a few years the production secret (and illegal copies of the expensive software) had seeped into studios worldwide, problematizing the connection between voice and body along the way...

A Brief History of Autotune

May 24, 2009

VIDEO: Traffic Report Rap

VIDEO: Traffic Report Rap

Local traffic reporter in Greensboro NC tries spicing it up with a little rapping. I'm not mad at her, she tried her best!

VIDEO: Traffic Report Rap

May 25, 2009

VIDEO: Zion I Interview

via okayplayer:

Zion I Interview from Okayplayer on Vimeo.

"Zumbi discusses Zion I's latest album, The Take Over, and it's difference from past Zion I projects. They also discuss their current tour, and how that dope ass video for 'Geek To The Beat'"

Predictable News Dept: Rappers Downsizing During Recession

I'm sure nobody needed a news story to figure out this would happen, but in case you need verification. Hopefully this will also lead to a decrease in journalistic usage of the term "bling bling":

Rappers in a Recession, Cutting Down on the Bling


The hip-hop world is a less bling-bling place these days...“the day of conspicuous consumption is gone,” says Tamara Connor, an Atlanta-based stylist who has created looks for chart-topping rappers, including Lil Wayne...

...Before, a new artist might spend $25,000 of a $30,000 advance on a chain, according to Ben Baller, who counts Fat Joe as a client. “Now they would rather try to spend $5,000 and $6,000,” he says, adding, “they’re willing to talk about options by using sapphires, using very, very low quality gold. “Some people (are) even wanting to mix diamonds with cubics (cubic zirconia) so it would not be completely ungenuine.”

VIDEO: TI Farewell Concert Before Prison

Wonder if he's been watching MSNBC's "Lockup" marathon to get his head ready..

VIDEO: TI Farewell Concert Before Prison

Rap star T.I. threw himself a going-away party Sunday night, less than two days before he was scheduled to begin serving a prison sentence on federal weapons charges. The Grammy-winning rapper performed at Atlanta's Philips Arena before a packed house. He is scheduled to head to prison Tuesday to start a 366-day sentence.

During Sunday's concert, the 28-year-old reiterated a message that's become familiar in recent weeks: He wants others to learn from his mistakes. "I'm doing the best I can to get out there, man, and put something positive on these young kids, man," T.I. said during the show. "I try my best. I need y'all help, though."

T.I., whose given name is Clifford Harris, played through much of his catalog, including the hits "Whatever You Like," "Live Your Life" and the Grammy-winning "Swagga Like Us," Woods said.

Here's some footage of the TI concert, recorded by Soulja Boy who made a cameo appearance in the show:

VIDEO: Soulja Boy and TI at TI's Farewell Concert

VIDEO: TI Farewell Concert Before Prison

In Memoriam: Bolivian Rapper Abraham Bojorquez

Tragic story, had not been familiar with him:

Abraham’s Last Rap: Bolivian Hip-Hop Hero Dies in El Alto

El Alto-based hip-hop artist Abraham Bojorquez died early in the morning on Wednesday, May 20 in El Alto, Bolivia. He was killed when a bus hit him as he walking home.

Abraham, 26 years old, was a member of the popular hip-hop group Ukamau y Ké, and in recent years had become increasingly well known within Bolivia and internationally. His music blended ancient Andean folk styles and new hip-hop beats with lyrics about revolution and social change. Through his music, he demanded justice for those killed in the 2003 Gas War, spread political consciousness, spoke of the reality of life in El Alto, and criticized the lying corporate media. He was a radio host at the cultural center Wayna Tambo in El Alto, and regularly traveled around Bolivia to prisons, rural and mining communities to offer classes on hip-hop to young rappers.

For more details on Abraham’s life and music, see this article: Rapping in Aymara: Bolivian Hip-Hop as an Instrument of Struggle...

Things That People Say When They Don't Understand Hip-Hop, Vol. 24,358

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that people still subscribe to this "hip-hop is only good when it's about something conscious and positive (and that's the difference between 'commcercial' and 'underground')" fallacy, but after all these years it still drives me up the wall that people are rewarded for perpetuating it. And far too much coverage of "international hip-hop" is framed in a way that perpetuates this fallacy.

Exploring hip-hop abroad
Jerry Large, Seattle Times

...Aisha Fukushima is about to launch herself on a new journey of discovery in which she will travel the world for a year exploring hip-hop culture, looking at what's common across borders, what songs say about social conditions in particular places, how rap is used to protest or educate.

Her interest is not in the booty shaking and bling of commercial rap. She believes the best hip-hop explores issues, stimulates conversation and opens a window to the lives of the young people who create it...

People, please stop doing that! Hip-hop music's value will always come first and foremost from its musicality. These other elements, like which subject matter it covers, can have great value is well but it'll always be secondary to the music, and only matters as much as the musical foundation is strong underneath it.

I'll quote once again the most important thing any academic ever said about hip-hop:

"Much of this [social science] literature not only conflates behavior with culture, but when social scientists explore 'expressive' cultural forms or what has been called 'popular culture' (such as language, music and style), most reduce it to expressions of pathology, compensatory behavior, or creative "coping mechanisms" to deal with racism and poverty. While some aspects of black expressive cultures certainly help inner city residents deal with and even resist ghetto conditions, most of the literature ignores what the cultural forms mean for the practitioners. Few scholars acknowledge that what might also be at stake here are aesthetics, style and pleasure."

- Robin D.G. Kelley

Any analysis of hip-hop that assumes its value comes from its choice of subject matter, that places its political/sociological value over its musical value, any analysis that treats hip-hop's musicality -the "aesthetics, style and pleasure"- as an afterthought, is completely missing the point. Well meaning though it may be, this approach to analyzing hip-hop does it a terrible disservice.

(btw I'm speaking more to the reporter here, the subject of the piece may well understand this better than the article conveyed..)

May 26, 2009

VIDEO: Beastie Boys & Roots on Jimmy Fallon

VIDEO: Beastie Boys & Roots on Jimmy Fallon

The Beastie Boys performing "So Watcha Want" on Jimmy Fallon's late night show, backed up by the LEGENDARY ROOTS CREW. I hope Jimmy keeps coming into his own, because I love seeing the Roots get this opportunity to shine, especially Black Thought who's getting to really show his range of talents for the first time..

VIDEO: Beastie Boys & Roots on Jimmy Fallon

Brother Ali, Karmaloop Interview

Always love to hear the Brother speak..

VIDEO: Soulja Boy on "The View"

Not really into that outfit and all the paraphenalia in 2009, but I'm still pro-Soulja Boy and don't care what anybody says. They should have pressed him a little more about his first album being clean, what with all the controversy around "Crank Dat." BTW I still maintain that infamous interpretation of the lyrics is just an internet myth, he wasn't really saying all that.

VIDEO: Soulja Boy on "The View"

VIDEO: Soulja Boy on "The View"

Did You Hear Bling Is Dying? Here's Another Eulogy

Guess everybody's gotta do one:

Culture of Bling Clangs to Earth as the Recession Melts Rappers' Ice

After years of starring in rap-music lyrics and videos, "bling" is losing its ring. The recession is cramping the style of hip-hop artists and wannabes -- many of whom are finding it difficult to afford the diamond-encrusted pendants and heavy gold chains they have long used to project an aura of outsized wealth.

In an attempt to keep up appearances, celebrity jewelers say rappers are asking them to make medallions with less-precious stones and metals. Some even whisper that the artists have begun requesting cubic zirconia, the synthetic diamond stand-in and QVC staple.

Hip-hop luminaries with the cash to keep it real are appalled. Bling aficionados fret that the art of "ice" is being watered down...

Umm, that last paragraph there is kinda painful.. did Michael Steele write this?

May 31, 2009

Torae on WBAI

Some live representation from Torae, who stopped by my radio show last night, with DJ 3D on the turntables. Check out his new album with Marco Polo, "Double Barrel"

Dr. George Tiller Killed in Kansas

Murdered as he walked into church. On Sunday morning. WTF.

Dr. George Tiller, Abortion Provider & Advocate Killed


George Tiller, the Wichita doctor who became a national lightning rod in the debate over abortion, was shot to death this morning as he walked into church services.

George Tiller, 67, was shot just after 10 a.m. at Reformation Lutheran Church at 7601 E. 13th, where he was a member of the congregation. Witnesses and a police source confirmed Tiller was the victim.

No information has been released about whether a suspect is in custody for the killing of George TIller. Police said they are looking for white male who was driving a 1990s powder blue Ford Taurus with Kansas license plate 225 BAB.

Homicide detectives and Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston have arrived at the church.

Members of the congregation who were inside the sanctuary at the time of the shooting of George Tiller were being kept inside the church by police, and those arriving were being ushered into the parking lot. Witnesses are being transported downtown for interviews and other members of the congregation are slowly being released from inside the sanctuary.

from Feministing:

The loss of Dr. Tiller is deeply upsetting, and Cara rightly identifies this as a terrorist act. It is the culmination of an ongoing campaign of intimidation and harassment against someone who was providing completely legal health-care services. I've been paying attention to the more militant strains of the anti-choice movement, so this news shouldn't have shocked me as much as it did. But, like Cara, I have friends who work and volunteer in abortion clinics. When violence against abortion providers was hitting a fever pitch 10 years ago, I was not strongly pro-choice identified. I remember reading about the murder of an abortion providers, but it certainly did not affect me the way this news has. Whether it's rational or not, today I'm afraid for everyone who works in a reproductive health clinic. And not only those that provide abortion.

Dr. George Tiller, Abortion Provider & Advocate Killed

About May 2009

This page contains all entries posted to hip hop music in May 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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