Monday, March 21, 2011

THE JJ ABRAMS-ICATION OF MUSIC ON THE WEB

This is about story telling and the future of music marketing. It’s about using the codes of deep mystery to stand out in the most crowded music environment possible: the Internet. But most importantly it’s about being a fan, and re-kindling that feeling of being part of the underground that could have disappeared long ago but will live on thanks to the mechanisms and tools of platforms like Tumblr.

There is a swath of the youngest members of Gen Y that love Tumblr. They’re extremely creative and have trouble seeing the difference between traditional disciplines like graphic design, photography, film, or music, in their own prolific creations or in that of others. Their love of the reblog and the like button is powering a new wave of artists with the same DIY, cross-discipline and cross-genre ethos.

The Internet is the world’s most crowded record store; it’s impossible to stand out. We’re on computers so profusely that it isn’t a big leap of the imagination to combine any two existing genres, and in fact this is almost cost of entry nowadays. Even a dubstep RnB singer may not stand out much longer. To reach these kids, you need to be a constant source of your own multi-platform narrative. There is no better forum for this than tumblr. Producing content is key, and the ability to tie a narrative together over video, music, and visuals will help your story get passed around by eager future art students.

But being merely proficient at CS3 and Final Cut Pro and taking influences from multiple sources will not get your free MP3 album on every blog in the universe. It takes a special sauce: mystery. A cryptic mythos. Secrets. Layers.

It started to become clear to me that this would be a key tool in the future of music marketing storytelling when MIA began seeding animated GIFs to promote her album and then went so far as to wrap her whole follow-up in Wikileaks-inspired symbology. Then came James Blake, who was an extremely obscure source of outsider-y electronic explorations until he came out of his shell and decided he wanted to be a pop star. Odd Future, of course, is the biggest and most successful example of leveraging a Tumblr shtick into a phenomenon. They simply will not tell anyone where Earl Sweatshirt, their best rapper, is, and the longer they wait the more irresistible the question becomes.

Enter the crypto-RnB group The Weeknd. No one knows who they are. All we know is they make pointedly stylish content across all the hippest digital channels and have an impeccably curated presence. Oh, and they make music so perfect for the Tumblr moment I almost think it was designed in a lab. Or in the office of a very savvy new media marketing agency.

But really it was just on some kid’s MacBook.

The Weeknd is a Master’s course in building an engaging presence for the cool kids. They created their own language, like Odd Future, both visual and verbal. The use of “XO” appears everywhere, but kinda means nothing. It’s just a symbol. A symbol for The Weeknd that can be used across platforms, across posts, across media. Next is the visual signs that whisper, "You’re seeing something created by The Weeknd": always black and white, women with faces obscured and a lot of balloons. These clues signal the band and its seeping out of Tumblr and into other platforms across the Web.

This is the language the band’s story is told in, and it’s crucial that every piece of the narrative unfold using this language or it will exist outside the universe they are creating for themselves, one with great mystery and therefore great appeal to jump in. Forget about the fact that the music is grounded in RnB but brilliantly blends elements of electronic music, ambient, dubstep, hip hop and indie rock. A lot of genius music goes unnoticed (and I may be leaning toward that descriptor for these guys soon). It's almost too good, like if pop mastermind The-Dream were a devious little hipster with the CD collection of the most discerning bespectacled music critic. The power here is in the grip these kids have on the complex, labyrinthine inner workings of the vast networks of the music scene online.

Kids like The Weeknd are creating multi-layered stories that make you want to jump in and stake your claim to (reblog, repost, like, love, download). One of the best parts of being in on the ground floor of the Odd Future story was that race to make your digital mark as soon as possible so you can brag to your friends later on that you were into them before they got big. This is why the impulse of “being underground”, the original bug that lead to the every music subculture since jazz, will not die on the Internet. Kids who get it better than you will always tear down everything that’s come before and create the coolest thing you’ve ever seen. Until the next Tumblr comes around.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

antisocial rap and waka flocka flame



Before he said 'fuck dis industry' Waka forced the antisocial rap movement to its noisiest conclusion. Even looking past the continuous references to being by himself, having no need for close friends, the consistent theme of eliminating opponents of all types for all reasons and the extreme misanthropy, this song is made for bad people doing (or thinking about) bad things; the production by Tay Beatz is like having your ears stuck in an American-made car radio from the 90s with the first 5 seconds of a Korn cd skipping infinitely. There's almost nothing you can do in a social situation with this music playing besides fuck each other up.

"This rap's booming like this shit a trap."

That's the mission statement: Waka treats his music like (I'd imagine) he'd guard his stash house. Music to push you away, keep you out, keep you on edge, make you want to be alone. Come by yourself, get what you need, and leave...but come back often. There's no room to buck the guardrails in his music; he literally leaves no room for misunderstanding, perfectly mirroring his grim world view. It's such an incredibly solitary and purposefully alienating song that it's a miracle he can find other people like Tay Beatz who can manage to be on the same wavelength. I kinda want to imagine Waka eventually morphing into some sound experiment, bedroom artist like Burzum or something.

Monday, August 30, 2010

me X Odd Future



OFWGKTA met blatant ineptitude a.k.a. @gardnerz last week in front of Supreme on Fairfax in Los Fucking Angeles.

Tyler, Julian and Taco were all mad cool. Fucking Awesome.

I took some pics and some video.

Click on them because they came out pretty good but blogger sucks and I don't feel like tinkering around with any html right now.



Thursday, July 01, 2010

25 70s prog rock and fusion album covers that kanye ripped off for power

[UPDATE] Yes, Cymande is not prog, but I tried to think of them as fusion in the msot conventional sense of the term. Neither is Badfinger, but I figured maybe in 1970 (January 9, 1970, to be exact, also stretching the parameters) any ambitious British album rock might have been called "progressive". Besides, the original reason I stretched this to include fusion was so I could put in this band, whose most obvious choice for this list I then passed on for some reason:
[UPDATE cont.] That brings me to one i clearly missed, since I was looking for floating blue skies, hand-drawn geomotric shapes, and the floating/flying setting, I missed the more obvious instances of kings, warriors, swords, power, fantasy, etc, that crop up in scenes from Return to Forever (who I kinda worshiped in high school) to Gentle Giant. Thank you to notrivia for pointing it out:
Back to the original list.






























edit: + 1 Salsa album, via Harry Roman

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

the problem with art in the relatability age, part 1: the identifying rapper

There is an interesting argument among intellectuals and critics about whether games can be art. Roger Ebert argued that they cannot. A bunch of gamers got mad and said, of course they can. But, which ever side you fall on, there is an undeniable validity to Ebert's argument: art may never have been meant to be an experience to be identified with on behalf of the viewer. Maybe it was supposed to be a passive moment of spectatorship, the moment of feeling someone else's joy or pain and allowing our minds to play over that moment. Video games on the other hand are only appreciated when the user identifies the experience as some secondary life of their own. I bring this up because this question of "relatibility" permeates all of our art today, as the editors of the n+1 journal argued in their latest issue; if the main character isn't relatable, the narrative won't sell in 2010.

I will not post his music here, but this brings me to Mike Posner. My friend Zack gave this concise definition of the concept of Mike Posner in an email to me:

As you know, rap/rnb music is going in two very divergent directions, street v college. Gutter v. pop. He is an inheritor of the college/pop direction -very mainstream - lead by BOB, lupe, drake, J. Cole, and Asher. But he is a singer, not a rapper. He graduated from Duke. Hes a little pussy who makes little pussy pop rnb music. Girls flock to his shows. His big song "Cooler than Me" which came out over a year ago, is just now seeing serious chart action. Other college rap-pop artists who are in the same vein are Chiddy Bang, Hoodie Allen, some white pussy from boston who's name i forget, and this other pussy named Jared Evan. There will be many more artists like this.


But most importantly, Posner adds a huge injection of perfectly pitched zeitgeist into nearly every lyric, frame, costume and tweet. His first relative hit "Cooler Than Me" is an angsty, insecure and falsely-humble love song and an innocent party anthem wrapped into one.

So what does this sound like in 2010, when the pop landscape has already cannibalized itself to the point of blurring R'n'B, dance, hip-hop, country and rock into a big mush? Well, it pretty much sounds like a whiny, breathy, White Akon, with as much post-production pitch correction and bass are needed to get college kids to throw their hands in the air. Posner's only been singing for a couple years, and you can tell he grew up in the AutoTune era. He has the vocal mannerisms of Akon and the same middle-of-the-road pop sensibilities that turned Akon into a superstar from a felon. This is basically Facebook status updates dressed up in all the tropes of 21st Century Frankenstein pop music: hip-hop's arrogance, formulaic Euro-dance production, the club-appropriate setting of Timbaland and Timberlake monster anthems, and a level of self-awareness and the belief that any feeling is worth sharing that only a millennial could possess. The success of Posner as an artist and his popularity prove that this moment will truly raise the bar for self-absorption; not only do we listen to the most mundane and impotent of emotional expressions as art, but we now yearn for our own half-baked feelings to be reflected in the music and culture we experience. We have reached a moment in musical appreciation where we must relate on the most naked levels for anything to really be a hit.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

M.I.A. and music's newest marketing frontier: the guerilla Web itself

There is an ever-growing cohort of faceless, nameless, constantly-irreverant and ultra-referential users of the Web that is the source of all the weirdest, coolest most quickly spreading shit on the Internet. This isn't a group about mashing anything up. This isn't a group about memes. We are way beyond that. This is the young, front edge of the Internet where everything in history is chopped and spit back out in an unrecognizable jumble of pixels and symbols that have formed a new logic for the most adventurous and most acute consumers of our new popular culture. The Web itself is not only canvas but source material for a movement of content creation that has reached so far past postmodernism that no one even has the time or mental bandwith to parse through the signs and symbols they're regurgitating into a new and beautiful trash heap. We can only continue to scroll, "like" something or re-post it ourselves to place it in our own collage of jarbled references and pretty pictures. The new brush strokes are screen shots, the new pen and pad is a digital camera, and the gallery is a network of other likeminded brain splatter. Messages and ideas spread like wildfire because the network is enthusiastic beyond all comprehension. This community (it's really an art movement) has many codes, its own complex language, and a very distinct personality that defies a single-style approach by incorparting all the styles its individual members have ever been exposed to. M.I.A., the artist, may be one of these people or she may not be, but either way, she is grasping at a space that has not been exploited yet by any brand on its own terms, only by force in the hands of the members themselves.



Most are aware of MIA's new video for "Born Free" where red headed people geet rounded up, executed and exploded. Big thing on the internet. The accompanying marketing campaign by Interscope to promote her album, which is called /\/\/\Y/\ (it's supposed to spell her name, Maya), also garnered some press when a blimp flew over Coachella announcing the album's release date.



But, more importantly and much more interestingly, MIA has taken the culture of the Internet's most creative, subversive and zealous hipsters to market herself and wrap her whole brand. In her typically cocky and abrasive way, MIA is using the hipster Web community's language, codes, trends and irreverent hacker-y clubhouse vibe to spread some weird and interesting stuff to promote herself. First was her Pitchfork Twitter takeover day, during which she manned their account and basically went nuts and freaked a lot of people out; then she put up billboards in London of chopped up collages of screenshots from youtube's very familiar video player control bar; and, I think, she's the first artist to use animated GIFs as a promotional tool. And like the most navel-gazing and camera-happy laptop warriors out there, she even took a picture of her laptop screen frozen on Google's search bar with her name and "pitchfork" typed in to show the suggested results, demonstrating the popularity of her Pitchfork/twitter experiment, and then Twitpic'ed it.







What seems like a quirky personality is really a co-opting of one of the Web's most vibrant communities, one that just so happens to be the target audience for any indie band or artist, in this case one whose genre-raping and erratic attitude perfectly mirrors that of the Tumblr/Flickr/GPOYW crowd.

M.I.A. isn't merely reflecting a set of habits that may be popular among a certain crowd: she's using them to spread her brand. Like I said earlier, she is merely grasping. She may not even realize, though I believe she is much too savvy to stumble upon something by mistake, but she is not only using the language of these ultra-hip Tumblr-ites to associate herself with a young, vibrant culture but also to thread her brand through a community of the very people who spread ALL the best messages on the Internet far and wide. And by the time you see it on buzzfeed or whatever site your co-worker links you to, they've already forgotten 15 other cool things. nM.I.A. clearly isn't having a problem keeping up.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

tea party for fucked ups

It's hard to make an anthemic punk record about the shared anxiety and frustration of this moment. Young urban 20-somethings (h-words) in 2010 have no Springsteen, yet we have exponentially more stimuli to be pissed off about than any generation before us. How do you properly sum up the dread and confusion of being a disconnected young person in the most connected moment in history? What do you do if you feel alienated, even with ALL of the ways we have made ourselves the most socially connected humans ever? How do you feel disaffected when you're more embraced by the powers that be than ever before? Also, what the fuck is going on?!?


Much has been made recently of this record's raucous chants, Civil War themes, Springsteen references and sea shanty-inspired singalongs. And there have been bands that have done it very recently, as well (Fucked Up could have done it better but didn't). But this record, which is a quasi-concept album about a 20-something transplant in Boston from New Jersey, is a snapshot of a very real, very authentic angst that, unlike that of Springsteen or punk, has a completely amorphous adversary. "The enemy is everywhere," is one of the most visceral hooks. The opposition forces are so vast, so bewildering, that it's just too hard to wrap it up elegantly. There's just too much information, too many flashing lights, too many people to compare yourself to (on facebook, on reality TV), too many disparate and constantly changing cultural movements to keep up with, that sometimes the only way to break through it is to just strum the shit out of your guitar and scream something very old and very familiar at the top of your lungs. This feels like the underside of all the whimsical, detached reconnection to American cultural roots that we see in everything from fashion to tumblr-blogs that glorify anything khaki or wooden; it feels like a real working American man's despair in 2010, filled with nostalgia for stuff he doesn't know and smothered by more stimuli and "art" and relationships than any man should have to filter in one lifetime.

Also, another testament to the healing power of alcohol.

Titus Andronicus, "Four Score And Seven" by gardnerz

Monday, March 15, 2010

people are freaky then you die

[UPDATE]THIS POST HAS BEEN FIXED.

Dead Luke is a kid from Madison, Wisconsin, where I went to college. He makes music by himself and has it released on cassettes by the Night People label. This tape sounds like it's the only thing left after a doomsday scenario and some of the magnetism is fried but still enough is left untorched for Dead Luke to inspire a mystic cult of followers. I really wish I had known this kid.

01 People Are Freaky Then You Die by blatanti

From, in my opinion, one of the two or three best music blogs, this band has an awful, pretentious, unpronounceable name that actually kinda suggests their sound quite well; it's amorphous, muffled, and sounds like it is packed with gauze. Like the part in a movie when someone gets hit in the head really hard and everything slows down, it both throbs and drones. This particular song recalls both the super slowed down "chopped and screwed" drug music of Houston's DJ Screw and the gentle psychedelic bludgeoning of Spacemen 3.

oOoOO, "No Shore" by blatanti

From a blog I've been checking out with equal frustration and curiosity, this is funny name, weird music. One long phrase on a short walk that picks up harmonious friends and strangers along the way, some dropping out before they come back in with more steam and stamina. It's like staring into a tunnel made of reverb. He's in a band called Emeralds and releases a lot of music on his own. This is just him with a guitar making ambient drone music that sounds very pretty.

Mark McGuire, "Postcard" by blatanti

"Jonas describes his technique as 'a spirited conversation between man, machines, and the ecstatic truth of the chaotic unknown." I'm so feeling the California electric-analog beard hippie vibe. This is some dude from California who makes Krautrock and cosmic music (like Cluster and Tangerine Dream)-inspired analog synth music. Berlin meets the Pacific Coast Highway.

Jonas Reinhardt, "How To Adjust People" by blatanti

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Why the Web should adopt the subscription model (or how you started worrying and stopped loving unoriginal shit like Dr. Strangelove references)

If I had to pay a quarter for every twitter account I followed, every facebook "friend" whose bullshit showed up on my feed, and every rss I subscribed to, how would my mind be different?

If I were interviewed in Monocle (get at me Tyler), the inevitable question "What is your media diet like?" would most likely cause me and the interviewer to gag as I conjured a living, caloric metaphor of the slop that I shove down my brain throat. The answer would bring to mind the daily feeding habits of the most gluttonous, high fructose-stuffed obese red stater crossed with a food critic forced to judge every cooking reality show on cable: both trash and high-brow, but, most importantly, entirely excessive. Why is this?

It's because people share way too much, way too boring, way too often. This thing right here is a gift the likes of which intelligent human beings have never been given in history. The birth of many-to-many was a revolution in communication on par with the printing press and the TV blah blah blah, everyone knows this. But the problem is that the lowered barriers have placed this immense tool in everyone's hands, especially the least discerning among us. Some people kind of ruin it.

Yes, it is partly my fault for paying attention and "subscribing". But as a curious, focused, determined consumer of media I can't unplug from the overwired digital lobotomy junkyard lest I miss that sweet piece someone tosses out. If I were to even attempt to get rid of every abuser of internet from my screen I would be left with barely anything to read and this would take the fun out of it. The fun part is that we're all shootin the shit here, crackin jokes, sharing mind-blowing stories and even creating innovative, consciousness-expanding ART. As a price for this, should I be forced to click thousands of little buttons to turn off all the boring thoughts I've been coaxed into receiving? I didn't realize when I clicked your button six months ago or two years ago that I'd be subject to inane mind spittle. Fuck that, you should have to convince me FIRST that what you have to say deserves mine and everyone else's attention!! I would subscribe to that.

Convergence is a detriment in one huge way; articles from the New York Times can show up on feeds (on your phone, on your social network, on twitter, on your RSS) next to the dumbest, most pointless information in an infinite continuum of inexplicable digital stuff. This model is broken. It is the saturated fat and second hand smoke and greenhouse gases of our intellectual world that has yet to be regulated. And it is running rampant!!!

Stop starting blogs that suck. Stop sending out spam PR with utterly pointless content (video interviews or really 90% of anything video). Stop starting tumblrs for kooky memes three minutes after they are spawned. Stop sharing your lunch. Stop refreshing your drug of choice page and start exploring those other tabs on your browser to bring something dope to the conversation. Because really, we're all trying to have a conversation here and you keep interrupting!!

Treat every tweet like it's a haiku, because it is. Your facebook status updates are more important than your haircut, the crew you ran with in high school and your favorite band t shirt combined because 10 times more people will see it than any of that shit. So why do you treat it like it's the margin of your diary and you're scribbling text doodles? I'm not even going to go into detail and post screenshots, links or anything like that because, honestly, I have no idea where to start.

If you bring the goods you get my internet high five from now on. We all live on this internet so treat it with respect! I like it here and don't think I can survive cold turkey after being plugged into the electric information tsunami for so long. We've realized that the Web was visually designed like shit so we redesigned most of it. It's time to realize that the Web is being used wrong; stuffing it all down one pipe has caused a big fucking clog. Let's separate the pipes. A pipe for bullshit and another for useful, inspiring, CREATIVE information sharing. Let's try it!!!!!

I'm gonna do my part. Everything I add will have slap in it and I will give out slaps to that which does not. This is a SLAP-ONLY guarantee. From now on, when someone asks me what my media diet is, what I'm riding to, you will know my answer.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

big mothership glidin

I haven't written anything in a while for a few reasons. I've been pretty busy, but also I've been completely bored with the one thing that used to make me want to write here. Not only is the turnaround for new songs, mixtapes and albums so fast that one forgets by Friday what was good on Monday, but the quality is pretty questionable. This is why every time Jay-Z's team of professional PR-minded leakers sends an email the world goes nuts. There's nothing to be excited about. It's like 24-hour news; we probably shouldn't have a countdown leading up to a "beer summit" on CNN like we probably shouldn't see 10,000 blog posts on the "leak" of the BACK COVER of a new album. That being said, this new culture can work sometimes. Years ago you probably never could hear regional stuff without youtube, mixtape sites, and, yes, blogs. We will never figure out how to collectively use the internet to create a tasteful, discerning current of media and art so just stick your head out and try to grab what you can as it flies in your face.



Friday, July 24, 2009

Monday, June 15, 2009

work


I posted about Alc's first single from his upcoming album Chemical Warfare earlier and I am going to emphasize again here how excited I am for it. "That'll Work" brings Juicy J and DJ Paul together with Juve (still one of the hardest rappers in the South) over what's become Alchemist's signature horror flick future crunk. I am absolutely loving DJ Paul's newfound artistic renaissance and return to the dark, druggy tone of Three 6's 90s heyday. The more drugs, dead bodies, and shotguns in my rap the better. These guys sound like they almost wish they didn't have their millions right now so they could throw on a ski mask, hop in a dangerously fast American muscle car and blow some people away. It's like my favorite movie that's never been made come to life in song.

Is there some sort of trend toward the macabre in rap lately?

HOPEFULLY

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

neck kinda freezin boy believe me


Boosie is finally coming back to prominence. After Trill Ent. had a brief run as the rap crew du jour back in 2007, Boosie dropped his excellent Da Beginning mixtape, which I wrote about back then. Webbie followed up his hit "Independent" with his totally underrated and dope second album Savage Life 2 and it looked like Trill Ent. was coming into its own and may start putting out hit club tracks and great rap albums on a regular basis. But its most charismatic member, who stole the show on both of their biggest hits and is often wrongly assumed as being the artist and not the feature (these being Foxx's "Wipe Me Down" and "Independent"), let some serious buzz go by without releasing his album. In the meantime, Lil Wayne became a superstar and Gucci Mane became the South's unanimous underground and mixtape champion. It can't be too late for someone as great as Boosie, though. His music is consistently interesting, heartfelt, soulful, musical, and always getting better. He's the most sympathetic rapper even when he's unflinchingly chauvinistic or materialistic or violent.

Today the ostensible first single from his next album, apparently called Superbad, was released to the internet and features Webbie and Young Jeezy. It's a fantastic tribute to making it as a rap star, both a chance for ceaseless bragging and also reflection on the incredible odds against from three dudes who constantly rap their asses off on anything you put them on. Go grab that The Return of Mr. Wipe Me Down mixtape form earlier this year.

Monday, April 27, 2009

my weekend and a monday





Ah, the depths I've plumbed, the heights I've scaled and I can't feel the difference! I'll decide on a path, one to the bar and the word processor the other back to the moving sidewalk of humiliation. I'll probably just stare at my laptop instead of either.





Today I chased down Pinky from TVCarnage in the middle of the street, he was on his bike and a throng of uniformed kids on a class field trip was passing between us. I said, "Hey man, I'm Matt, sorry to do this but I'm having the worst day of my life, just got turned down from two jobs this morning, I can't catch a break, What should I do with my life?"

He rocked back and forth on his bmx, in the middle of the intersection of Graham Ave and Grand Street in 85 degree sun, sighed. "Send me an email, I'll see what I can do."

Then I went into a bar around the corner from my apartment to get a $1 pitcher of beer and started talking to a couple kids. One of them started talking about Southern California and how great it is, I asked him what he's doing in town and he said he's on tour. I asked what band he's in, turns out he is Wavves. The other kid is also in a band. Had a pretty boring conversation with them, though they were nice guys. Then their friend Matt came by and joined the table, ordered a pitcher, and I asked him the name of his band. He said Blank Dogs. He asked me what I do. I said I live in the apartment behind the backyard of this bar and tried to pretend like I'm a writer. They asked me what I'm writing.

Friday, April 10, 2009

KB goblinz

Home of The Infamous Kooter Brown, dunnny

Rated 5 out of 5 P's


Sunday, April 05, 2009

walking, a pale toxic shell


The above is a poster for a Melvins show.

I've been listening to The Idiot album by Iggy Pop almost non-stop over the past week (sometimes Lust For Life if I'm in a good mood) and UGK, whose last album ever came out this week. It's put me in a very odd, contemplative mood and I've prepared a lot of notes for a future journal I intend to write inspired by listening to the album on a never-ending loop and wandering aimlessly around the West Village. I'm convinced that it is the greatest album in recorded history but that's not something I have any business writing about. I'm thinking about starting a band based around a couple friends of ours that look like rock stars. I haven't played guitar seriously since high school and every time I pick one up it sounds like a jam band, a problem that I would need to resolve if this were to ever actually happen. 

Saturday, March 21, 2009

how to be a boss - a message board review of Jim Jones' new album Pray IV Reign by yours truly


im goin in

― preview& potmXII& chinchillas& surfboar (surfboard dudes get wiped out, totally), Saturday, March 21, 2009 4:15 PM (2 hours ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

"Intro" ft. Starr

So the intro sets the tone of the album pretty much right away, if not sonically then thematically. This album is about Jim Jones and the fact (read: made up bs) that he is a Gangster and a Hustler with both a capital G and H and especially one of the Harlem-specific variety. The name Nicky Barnes comes up within a matter of seconds into this song. Like I said, the beat is gorgeous, 70s soul guitar, wailing horns, live percussion (prob sampled). The cool thing about this song is that throughout the whole thing there's always a bunch of other voices going on beside Jimmy, there's a guy with a dope falsetto singing about being a hustler and a chick kind of just moaning throughout. Also dude's constantly having a conversation with his own raps in the background. No idea who the fuck Starr is but he might be this dude who Jimmy kind of like has a convo with on this song in between verses about rappers being fake and not hustling as hard as Jim Jones etc etc etc. Bu really the big thing here is the No I.D. beat, honestly nothing on American Gangster sounded as good as this. Jimmy raps about fiends, Lexuses, mentions the Roc, really no story just floss.

― preview& potmXII& chinchillas& surfboar (surfboard dudes get wiped out, totally), Saturday, March 21, 2009 4:23 PM (1 hour ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

"Pulling Me back" ft. Chink Santana

Sirens. Clinking, Dramatic piano. Uh Oh here comes a serious one. Then Chink comes in with a weak hook about coming so far, having a nice house and big cars (LOLLLL) but how some other people are always trying to take it away from him. This dude sucks by the way. The beat is big and clunky, huge bass drum in a kind of "We Will Rock You" pattern with hand claps and little clinky piano notes. I think Jimmy is trying to tell a story about his life (he says in he watched his Mom cook base) but it's barely coherent because literally 25 secs later he claims he can make the coke spin on its back like Krush Groove and talks about being in a dealership. It's pretty much "a gangster finally made it" if there is in fact a point to this song. Not one of the better ones on the album. Too much drama and not enough meat to it.

― preview& potmXII& chinchillas& surfboar (surfboard dudes get wiped out, totally), Saturday, March 21, 2009 4:32 PM (1 hour ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

two dope beats are enough for me to dl this at least

― 14 karat gold steen computer wizard (BIG HOOS aka the steendriver), Saturday, March 21, 2009 4:38 PM (1 hour ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

"Let It Out"

Ok this one's kinda dope. Everything builds up in a way that suggests someone actually Produced this album (not just sprayed adlibs over a CDR). Interesting beat that starts with an acoustic guitar and then adds some almost military drums all while Jimmy actually says some interesting shit even though I'm pretty sure the first thing he says is "See, they actin like us comin up so dormented" which is not a even word. But he goes on to say that to the media we look like savages and that it started with sneakers, then went much deeper and that money is an infection and as he's talking it slowly turns into a verse as the beat congeals into a pretty nice groove with a cool synth line, the type of synth that might be on a Yes record from the 80s. Then some chicks come in with a Chorus and dudes in the background going EyyyyyyAyyy! So this song was about money and kinda of a soulful confessional but the second verse is less comprehensible. The streets can call Jimmy back into The Life and he's all wrapped up in it yadda yadda yadda. Basically an almost wasted chance to get a little gospelly o here as he's known to do frequently if anyone's ever listened to his other albums. At the end he shouts out two guys named Hot Dog and Wacko and gives harlem a nice big pat on the back. I think this guy likes to talk WAYYYYY more than he likes to rap.

― preview& potmXII& chinchillas& surfboar (surfboard dudes get wiped out, totally), Saturday, March 21, 2009 4:43 PM (1 hour ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

"How To Be A Boss" ft. NOE and Ludacris

Aright here we go this song is kind of a monster. Ron Browz behind the boards, big fucking thumbs up to him for this one, sounds like something LOX or DMX might have torn to pieces in 2000. I love the beat, it's got a sort of nervous sound that gets broken up every 8 measures (this could be wrong fuck it) by some really Major string that come in and just swoop the whole thing up into a big smile. The drums are like big as fuck like "Money Cash Hoes" which kind of gets alluded right off the bat - "Murder, Cash, Cars, Hoes, Fast life as usual is all that we know" is the first sounds you hear with pounding drums beneath em. The drums are crazy, besides the huge bass under everything there are some real subtle fills and the sounds are very live and not Trackmasters cheap and thin. So Jimmy's first and kind of brings some heat. The good thing about this song is that the subject matter actually doesn't detract cuz this is that song where you talk about money and bitches and your chain. His adlibs are unbelievable ("Where's my lawyer!?"). I like a bunch of the lines he dropped on this track but you'll all listen to it cuz Luda is on it so not gona repeat. NOE. What is there to say about NOE besides the fact that HE SOUNDS EXACTLY LIKE JAY-Z AND JIM JONES ARE YOU FUCING DEAF OR RETARDED. But his hook is kinda really fresh on this track I love it. Like for real, his hook is dope right here. Then Luda raps and he's Luda and I love him. NOE gets a third verse and doesn't ruin this song despite the fact that he says is girl had to pee pee. Might be the best song on the album.

― preview& potmXII& chinchillas& surfboar (surfboard dudes get wiped out, totally), Saturday, March 21, 2009 4:51 PM (1 hour ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

"Medicine" ft. NOE and Chink Santana

Ughhhh. Every album Jim has new goonies that he puts on 45% of the songs, last time it was Max B and now it's CHink Sanatana I guess, I honestly don't even know who the fuck dude is. He produced this song and it's woozy and spacey and a little unnerving, kind of a throwback to like Timbo/Missy style stuttering drums but not in a good way. This song is about pussy and there's a big metaphor going on in which pussy is medicine. Chink raps in a really annoying accent and draws out all his lines and he's fucking annoying. This song is kinda bad but it's intersting soncially, like if it comes on and you're not paying attention and it's on low volume it will sound cool as long as you don't hear the Jim Jones hook that's really fucking vulgar and brings up images of that man doing sexual things which is disgusting. I think NOE is actually kind of a good rapper but no one will ever know because he sounds exactly like Jay-Z did I mention that.

― preview& potmXII& chinchillas& surfboar (surfboard dudes get wiped out, totally), Saturday, March 21, 2009 4:59 PM (1 hour ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

thanking you.

― there's a big metaphor going on in which pussy is medicine (a hoy hoy), Saturday, March 21, 2009 5:00 PM (1 hour ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

"Frenemies"

OK this is a big important song on this album and I don't really think it merits a word for word analysis because it's pretty fucking clear what's going on here and if you're interested in this little corner of rap (let's call it XXL-hop) then you will listen to it. It is a song about Cam'ron. Period the end. It's also kind of lame.

― preview& potmXII& chinchillas& surfboar (surfboard dudes get wiped out, totally), Saturday, March 21, 2009 5:00 PM (1 hour ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

"Precious" ft. Ryan Leslie

I've been repping for this song on here for months perhaps and I really think it's a great song. it sounds out of place here though, right after "Frenemies" is such a stupid place for this song. I guess Ryan Leslie produced it, he cooked something really dope for this, the verses are sticky and dark and head-bobbing and, like, rap music for rap fans, and then the hook comes in and everything changes to this lilting grand piano swoon and romantic vibe. I think Ryan Leslie might be the first person to ever really figure out how to make a great Jim Jones song, literally giving him his verses and takin the chorus for himself and turning both into two different sonic landscapes. Ryan gets a little mini verse that takes the static-y synths out of the verse part but leaves the fantastic guitar muted electric guitar and shakers that have been there al along but you never noticed, and he just totally evaporates this track in a few seconds. This guy is a talented motherfucker I will listen to more of him. Jim actually has a pretty engaging thing going on for this song, flow is better than usual, adlibs are A+, cute little anecdotes about chicks texting and he says "smh lol with a smiley face" which makes the whole album worth it. he does say "every Obama needs a Michelle" though. this is just two dudes talkin about broads, i'm in.

― preview& potmXII& chinchillas& surfboar (surfboard dudes get wiped out, totally), Saturday, March 21, 2009 5:10 PM (1 hour ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

"Blow The Bank" ft. Oshy and Starr

"Talkin about that Splash Life" is the thematic tone here. Here's Oshy! Yayyyyy who the fuck are you welcome to the album dude. This song has that Miami sound that Jimmy kind of thrives in (see "Summer With Miami" which remains his greatest contribution to recorded music). It's basically about spending money on women, a big topic for '09. The drums are weirdly pounding which kinda doesn't mesh well with the summery synths and major chords and splashy singing that's going on by two people named Oshy and Starr one is female and one is male and I don't now which is which.

― preview& potmXII& chinchillas& surfboar (surfboard dudes get wiped out, totally), Saturday, March 21, 2009 5:14 PM (1 hour ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

"This is For My Bitches" ft. Oshy

I guess Oshy is the dude in which case I should make an editorial note that in my "Intro" post I wrongly identified Starr as the dude that Jimmy was conversing with when in fact she is the chick singing in the background. Whatever who gives a shit. This song is literally the same exact thing as "Blow The Bank" and could there ever be a more hilarious "song for the ladies" track title. More synths but this time they're kinda vamping and Oshy is crooning all over the place about how sexy women are those sexy things and then calls them bitches and tells them to put their hands up high. Jimmy lives quite a life like Las vegas and cars and certain designer stores he could buy you some shit from them if you hop in his car, I imagine, I'm not really even listening to what he's saying right now.

― preview& potmXII& chinchillas& surfboar (surfboard dudes get wiped out, totally), Saturday, March 21, 2009 5:18 PM (1 hour ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

"Girlfriend" ft. Juelz Santana and Oshy

Whoa, first thing I think of here is old Dipset sound with these sinister strings-preset synth stabs. Jimmy sees thick girls in the room that he's in and then another Jimmy responds to that with "Ray Charles can see that" and this is before the song even starts. Literally we got multiple Jimmys talking to each other and ordering models from a waitress. Ok beat starts and the Dipset vibe is out with a stuttering sparse percussive production with just a hint of a synth accent during the verses. This is a club track apparently, couldn't really tell until Jimmy's first verse is over and Oshy (what's up dude!) comes in with some yodelling (not kidding) and Jimmy has a little shake yer booty hook. Man Juelz sounds like he took 3 xanax bars on every verse he's dropped since "Nothin On Me". QUite literally a forgettable verse from my boy here, I have nothing to say about it. This song is not going to be getting your local discotheque into a frenzy any time soon.

― preview& potmXII& chinchillas& surfboar (surfboard dudes get wiped out, totally), Saturday, March 21, 2009 5:24 PM (55 minutes ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

"This is the Life" ft. Starr

Most people dream of it, this is what we lvie for, they want to take it from us, etc etc. Rick Ross called and said you kinda suck at this and also it's almost Lights Out time. Starr is so useless she sounds those female voices that don't usually get credited with a feature but obviously Jimmy has big plans for this one or something. Steel drum-ish synth notes in a kinda dreamy gentle pattern and boring strings behind them. this song is fuckin wack.

― preview& potmXII& chinchillas& surfboar (surfboard dudes get wiped out, totally), Saturday, March 21, 2009 5:29 PM (50 minutes ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

"My My My" ft. Rowanna

What. The. Fuck. Didn't I just listen to this. Who the fuck is Rowanna. This beat is making my head hurt and Jimmy has literally said the same exact thing for a while now and is this a joke this girl sounds exactly like the last one. "I hope there's a Harlem in heaven." <-------- this song in a nutshell. Crying, you smell me? 

― preview& potmXII& chinchillas& surfboar (surfboard dudes get wiped out, totally), Saturday, March 21, 2009 5:32 PM (48 minutes ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink 

"Pop Off" ft. NOE and Mel Matrix 

Ok glad we're done with that little excursion into romance (four songs) and remorse (two songs) cuz this what we come to Jim Jones albums for, fuckin rap about killing people and robbing people and shit like that. The beat is unremarkable but this is kind of good because believe it or not some people like myself wanna hear what Mel Matrix can do (Byrdgang). This is the type of track that makes you realize what Stack Bundles meant to Jimmy and his plan for Byrdgang cuz dude would have bodied this and it would be fun (if you've never heard Stack Bundles go dl a mixtape he was a good rapper). Anyway, Mel Matrix is competent in a NYC gun talk context, good addition here and his chorus is sufficiently violent and angry and he def. killed this track. This is goon music in the original Byrdgang sense not in your stupid Plies-ironic way. Byrdgang doesn't really come off like a rap force to reckoned with from this track though. They aren't. Jim Jones is better at talking shit than rapping which is a fact that was made famously and unquestionable tryue for all ages in Cam'ron's classic "Hate Me Now" Nas diss track and he talks some shit here too. 

― preview& potmXII& chinchillas& surfboar (surfboard dudes get wiped out, totally), Saturday, March 21, 2009 5:41 PM (38 minutes ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink 

"Pop Champagne" ft. Ron Browz and Juelz Santana 

What is there to say about this that hasn't been said. A masterpiece of minimal autotune club music that was pilfered by Jim Jones in a most blatant way. I still can't believe that people let this go down but alas "Pop Champagne" will go down in the history books as a Jim Jones song. If he hadn't jacked it we wouldn't have been blessed with the bizarelly laconic yet engaging and weirdly awesome Juelz mini-verse. The whole club knows those first few words of his verse and when the beat drops out then comes back in with him shit gets picked up another level every time. Juelz definitely found his flow for this one and even though he says absolutely nothing (it actually sounds like it was produced by a Juelz machine with the "Club Song" switch turned on") he just sounds so right on this. It's mostly his voice but I think he's one of those rappers who, even though he's never had a huge hit or even a crossover, is sort of club signifier. Like when people hear Juelz voice on a good club song they dig it. I can't explain it, there are other rappers like this but I think it might stem from "Run It," anyway he sounds totally in the pocket on this song. If you don't love this song you probably play World of Warcraft. 

― preview& potmXII& chinchillas& surfboar (surfboard dudes get wiped out, totally), Saturday, March 21, 2009 5:50 PM (30 minutes ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink 

"Rain" ft. Rell, NOE and Starr 

Ugh we're back to this remorseful gangsterizing. I guess there's some genuine emotional stuff in this song but really, who gives a shit. We get it. That's jsut me, I don't know, if you need your spiritual moments provided by Byrdgang you are totally failing. Rell has been on every fucking Jim Jones and post-DI 2 Dipset release and no one knows who the fuck he is. Ron Browz is a GREAT producer, this track is gorgeous, huge and full and almost Tricky Stewart style snaps and "eyys" and really tasteful synths that sound like they might actually be from a synthesizer and not from a Casio in someone's bedroom. Unfortunately it's like totally shitted all over by Jimmy's molasses-thick melodrama. It's worth hearing fro Ron Browz' production, though. 

― preview& potmXII& chinchillas& surfboar (surfboard dudes get wiped out, totally), Saturday, March 21, 2009 5:56 PM (24 minutes ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink 

"Na Na NaNa Na Na" ft. Bree-Beauty 

LOL. this whole thing is just so hilarious. First of all, the hook is an un-ironic schoolyard taunt thing about haters and money and whatever. Second, Bree-Beauty. hahahhhh. wtf is up with this guy Jim Jones and his ridiculous stable of talent. Also she was paid and received credit for singing the words, "Na nana na na lookin at my ass wish you had a camera." Wow. Third, it's produced by and entity known as "ILLFONICS." I remember when I first heard this song I was in a cab and me two other kids we're really wasted and it was probably 11 pm and we had made the driver put on Hot 97 a few mins before that and the dj (Mr. C?? idk) was like NEW JIM JONES and we just fucking lost it. First, the song bumps pretty hard and is kinda dope in that perfect on the way to the club way, not for the stupid hook but just cuz it's big and pumped up and booming. So one of us reached over and turned dude's radio all the way up and this was before the hook even happened. then we heard the hook and it got really silly in that cab. This song is the ostensible follow-up to "Ballin" except it does not do what it is intended to, mostly ecause of the totally misguided hail mary of a hook. It should be a very big lightning rod for Jim Jones hate, rightfully so. 

― preview& potmXII& chinchillas& surfboar (surfboard dudes get wiped out, totally), Saturday, March 21, 2009 6:08 PM (12 minutes ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink 

"Swagga From Us" ft. NOE, Twista and Lil Wayne 

old blog leftovers, bonus track. i honestly don't understand anything about this song. It's a diss to Jay-Z but Lil Wayne is on both songs? Twista is a good rapper and he's on it so that's a plus. And we learn that Chink Santana can actually make a pretty good beat. 

― preview& potmXII& chinchillas& surfboar (surfboard dudes get wiped out, totally), Saturday, March 21, 2009 6:12 PM (8 minutes ago) Bookmark

not as good as Hustler's POME, doesn't really show that much growth as an artist although there are some good choices on it, really boring in the middle and definitely not fulfilling Dame Dash's dreams

― preview& potmXII& chinchillas& surfboar (surfboard dudes get wiped out, totally), Saturday, March 21, 2009 6:17 PM (28 minutes ago) Bookmark

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

the fruits of my labor as a one-night PA on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

that's me in the freeze frame on NBC's embeddable video player!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

the most obviously fraudulent real rap star of all time

Remember rappers? Like, Rap Stars? They were cool because they rapped real well and released albums that were filled with these really good rap songs. Now they stage lame beefs or experiment with corny effects/act mad fruity or act just corny in general or are Lil Wayne.

Rick Ross is the most curious case of rap stardom in the 00's by far. He is not a great rapper (though this certainly hasn't stopped a number of dudes from crossing over) and his subject matter has pretty much never wavered from the ridiculously hyperbolic persona of a drug kingpin, a stance that got a little prickly when it was revealed that the guy who goes by "Rick Ross" (a name borrowed from a real Miami drug kingpin) was actually at one point a corrections officer. So it seems the cards were stacked against him. What does he do? Release only dope albums and kind of pretend like he has no idea what everyone's talking about (ignorance was bliss until he bit for Curtis' beef, a slight mistake in an otherwise flawless stretch). Rick Ross albums are lush, thumping, bass-rattling hymns to drug dealing, living lavishly in a way that should be well beyond any normal person's wildest dreams, women, and cars. Consistent and listenable, while maybe not mind-blowing or technically great, Ross has proven himself to be an album rapper, something that would have been unfathomable in 2005 when he broke out with "Hustlin." But dude is poised to come out with his third good album of the decade, the same number as Jay-Z in the 00's.

It doesn't take a genius to realize that this guy doesn't really know Noriega (the real Noriega) and doesn't roll around with 10 black Maybachs back to back in a lane. A lot of rappers make really questionable claims, but perhaps no other rapper in recent memory has been so wholly doubtful than Rick Ross. So how did he do it? He raps and makes jams. Period. Take a lesson Curtis.



The first track to come out off of Ross' upcoming Deeper Than Rap was shocking to many internet Ross haters, mostly because it was so raw that they couldn't deny it. Ross is a disciple of the organ and drum-fill synth-pillow sound, a school of beatmaking that gives his hoarse baritone a suitably luxurious atmosphere in which to wax leisurely. The dude plays the melodramatic kingpin as well as Vince Curatola (OHhhh!). Slow and heavy is his M.O. and making choices like this, to not fall for the typical traps that concerned studio gangster rappers usually do (again save for the 50 beef), is why he can't be dismissed as just a laughable caricature.

Two more off Deeper Than Rap, "Cigar Music" and "Shittin On Em" ft. Birdman and Busta, are equally dope. In a world where rap beefs are carried out on Youtube it's nice to just ignore the bullshit and let a rapper do what he does best, even if it is wildly questionable. Now let's step away from the RSS feed and open up some champagne and possibly dive off a bridge into the ocean. 

(DUDE JUMPED OFF A FUCKING BRIDGE IN HIS VIDEO. BOSS!)