Okay...I'm not a great critic because I like a lot more music than I dislike. But these are the exceptions, The worst CD's of the year:
1. Ugly Duckling -- Taste the Secret. I'm writing a review of this right now. their press person sent me two comp CD's for some reason, and I literally couldn't give it away.
2. White Stripes -- Elephant . I know that this is supposed to be a great CD, but personally I'd rather be fondled by Michael Jackson than have to listen to this again.
3. Cheap Col*gne -- ST. If you're reading this Dave; I know that I told you your CD was good, but I was just being nice. Sorry.
4. Black Eyed Peas -- Elephunk. Where is the eject button?
5. Key Slay -- Official Street Sweeper. Volume 1. I had to listen to a lot of different mixtapes when I did my article for the Bay Guardian, and this was the worst.
6. Atmosphere - Seven's Travels. Slug was one of the nicest and funniest people that I've ever interviewed, but this CD was horrible.
7. The Visionaris -- Whatever it's called. I used to like the visionaries, but this CD is just oozing with banality.
8. Boom Box 2000- ST. This CD was released in 2002, but it's so bad that it made this year's list. Full review: http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/record-reviews/b/boom-box-2000/boom-box-2000.shtml
9. 2 Mex - ST. Some super complex pile of shit. I just reviewed this for Urb, and I was polite.
10. Northen State -- Dying in Stereo. I interviewed them and wrote a nice article about how nice they were, but the CD was horrible.
In their Dame Dash article
, the new XXL mentions that he is trying to acquire the rights to my boy JT Leroy's "The Heart is Deceitful Above All Else."
Here's the amazon.com review of "The Heart is Deceitful:"
LeRoy rose to considerable notoriety as the teenaged author of last year's Sarah, a novel about a gender-confused kid whose mother is a truckers' prostitute. In his latest work, a rawly written, riveting series of 10 interlocked stories that read fluidly as a novel, LeRoy returns to the themes of guilt and sin in the first-person voice of a boy so viciously abused by his caretakers that he is left with barely a sense of his own identity. Jeremiah is a child nobody wants, and he passes swiftly from foster parents to his angry and vindictive teenaged mother, Sarah, to his fanatically Evangelical grandparents. Sarah, herself badly wounded by her punishing, Bible-obsessed parents, gave birth to the boy when she was only 14; she returns at 18 to claim him. "Nobody takes what's mine," spouts the foul-mouthed, pill-popping, paranoid young woman. It's soon clear that Sarah cares nothing for her son, who becomes an unwelcome tagalong on her transient cross-country misadventures in hooking louche sugar daddies, stripping, turning tricks for truckers and cooking up explosive "crystal" in one boyfriend's cellar. The boy, who begins to crave Sarah's punishment as a way of keeping his life in balance, is frequently whipped for bed-wetting and is raped by her unsavory boyfriends; his denial of his sexuality becomes a pathetic attempt to identify with his tormentor. LeRoy depicts his ill-begotten characters as tenderly as Jean Genet, and delineates their acts of sadism and self-mutilation as unsparingly as A.M. Homes. Yet the stories resist spiraling into mere sensationalism. While Sarah becomes almost cartoonish in her savagery, the characters of the trucker child prostitute Milkshake and the lumbering biker Buddy are poignantly understated. Jeremiah, conflicted, emotionally bled but never self-pitying or defeated, elicits a gratifying sympathy. LeRoy's work is a startling achievement in his accelerating mastery of the literary form. (June)"
As you can imagine, this isn't the type of story the hyper-masculine, ROC CEO Dame Dash would seem to gravitate towards. But who know's, I only understand Dame through what I hear about him, and have no real information to base this on. Anyway, I e-mailed JT asking him about the situation, and he responded thusly:
"What is XXl? Can ya send me a copy? He was an investor. I met him in NY, really
great guy. I think he had a falling out tho with one of the producers. Sucks!
Woulda been so kwool to have him workin on it."
Would've been cool to been a fly on the wall at that meeting.
A few words on one of my favorite MC's, Big L
. This is a write-up I did on "Times is Hard on the Blvd."
IN full horrorcore mode, Big L was pumping out rhymes that would’ve made Freddy shiver. Originally slated to be on the Class Act Soundtrack, this unreleased early nineties NYC gem finds the late, great Big L at his finest. Behind a vintage Lord Finesse (DITC, Funky Technician) track, Big L tells the story of a crack dealer whose business has dried up, leaving him to resort to other means to make ends. But instead of opportunity, job skills, or money, all Big L has left is “two Mack 10’s, An army jacket, a hoodie, a ski mask, and some black Tims.” Each verse finds the violence escalating, starting off with armed robbery before dissolving into murders for hire. “Fuck a job, punks are gettin’ robbed and scarred, cuz times is hard on the boulevard,” Big L sings on the chorus. But Big L’s humor is always there to alleviate some of the bleakest verses, as on the last verse when he’s trying to calculate how much money he made off killing 88 men, before giving up and declaring, “Fuck it! I was crazy straight.” This, as well as the equally superb Devil's Son (where L raps, "I'm rollin' with Satan, not Jesus Christ), are quintessential Big L horrorcore.
Okay, this is a blurb I wrote about nas' illmatic
that ended up not being published:
Held like a hostage and afraid to sleep, Nas captures the post-crack NYC in all of its ruinous glory on his 1994 debut Illmatic. Realizing that the drugs were both empowering and destructive, Nas’ lyrics alternately embrace and reject the idea of ghetto glamour. “Life’s a Bitch” is possibly the saddest song I’ve ever heard: that the fatalism of a 20-year-old can somehow be earned and rational; that buying a lotto ticket can reasonably seem like the only means of escaping the cycles of violence and addiction.
Much of the album seems to capture how the velocity of youth is undermined by an environment “where each block is like a maze full of black rats.” Witness how the triumphant chorus of “The World is Yours” is damaged by the subsequent verses where Nas’ raps that he will “die alone, no crew to keep my crown or throne/ I'm deep by sound alone, caved inside in a thousand miles from home/ I need a new nigga, for this black cloud to follow/ Cuz while it's over me it's too dark to see tomorrow.” Yeah, the world is his, but what exactly has he earned? But as dark and grimy and tragic as this all seems, it’s Nas’ honesty and sense of self-determination that keep it from slipping into a well-formed caricature of the street life (see Big L’s Lifestyles of the Poor and Dangerous).
And I haven’t even talked about the beats…never before or since has an emcee been so perfectly matched to the production. With a sublime mixture of chopped and pulsating funk loops, tingling jazz samples, and smooth basslines, Pete Rock, DJ Premier, Q-Tip all give the performances of their careers. In many ways, the production of this album is the perfect encapsulation of the early- to mid-90’s NYC crate diggers. Like the album itself, the sound would be mimicked, but never topped – because perfection knows no encores.
I just got an e-mail from my girlfriend
"funny...jay-z is on your blog page, but you can't even take time to acknowledge the one you love most."
And she is so right, so let me take this time to say that Nas is still the king of NY in my book.
My favorite music writers (in no particular order):
Philip Sherburne (I hope that someday I can be this good)
Sterling Clover (even though he does talk shit about me on ILM)
Rolli (sounds a little young, but always engages with the music)
I know that there are a lot more, and I'll add them as I remember them. And yes, this is so just a ploy to get them to link me up.
I have a new job now! Writing PR for Future Primitve Sound. Very excited. They seem like great people. Here's my first press release
Future Primitive Sound
Street Date: 11/11/03
An ardent lover of mischief and music, San Francisco DJ and artist Romanowski began his DJ career at the very tender age of four in his homeland of Zurich, Sweden. Romanowski would patiently wait until his mother left for work, and then slip into her room to drink her liquor and play with her Beatle’s collection and turntable. He started DJ’ing in earnest in 1983 at the age of 14, playing everything from old school hip hop to early electroinca. After honing his skills in Zurich, Romanowski moved to San Francisco in 1992 in order to be closer to a vital music scene. He integrated himself into the scene almost immediately, scratching over the blistering punk rock of Zowie Zoo and hooking up with the boys at the San Francisco hip hop record store Behind the Post Office. As a member of the Behind the Post Office collective, Romanowski began performing around San Francisco and even returned to Zurich during one of their tours. He spent the next few years gigging around San Francisco, most notably at the Up and Down Jazz Club, where he was able to play with a procession of jazz legends. Romanowski has since DJ’d at the original DJ Shadow v. Cut Chemist 45 series as well as performed on the same stage as Thievery Corporation, Meat Beat Manifesto, and a long list of other internationally renowned artists. Romanowski is currently a member of group Optical Circuitry Board (OCB) with Yaumani, and also provides soul-infused beats for Roseland, a homeless lady who sells their music on the streets of San Francisco.
The SteadyRock album is the realization of Romanowski’s longstanding passion for the rocksteady reggae sound, which is half-speed ska with the trombone replaced by piano and prominent bass. “Rocksteady is a big love of mine,” Romanowski says. “After listening to it for ten years, I wanted to try it myself.” While Romanowski cites the Studio One label as a major influence upon the album, he also filters the sound through his own very unique musical lens, applying the stark minimalism of 808 State, his own sense of playfulness, and guest turns from members of the Poets of Rhythm. The result is an album that pays homage to his musical heroes while pushing the genre in a new direction.
In addition to his musical endeavors, Romanowski is also an internationally recognized found objects artist, having displayed in galleries in Hong Kong, Tokyo, San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles. He is associated with the artists collective The Curators.
For more information, please see:
My top 20 albums of the year:
1. Jaylib – Champion Sound
2. Jay Z – Black Album
3. Outkast - Speakerboxxx/The Love Bellow
4. MF Doom -- Vaudeville Villain
5. Kanye West – I’m Good Mixtape (or any of his mixtapes for that matter)
6. Lyrics Born – Later that Day
7. David Banner – Mississippi (Chopped and Screwed Version)
8. Strong Arm Steady Mixtape Vol. 1
9. Killer Mike – Monster
10. MF Doom -- King Geedorah
11. Dizzee Rascal – Boy in the Corner
12. DJ Quest -- Mutation Mann
13. Charizma and Peanut Butter Wolf – Big Shots
14. Gangstarr – Ownerz
15. Madlib - Shades of Blue
16. Little Brother - The Listening (guilty pleasure. was that this year?)
17. Truly OdD – Heavyweights
18. Pete Rock -- Lost and Found
19. Dip Set – Diplomatic Immunity
20. 50 Cent – Get Rich or Die Trying
Other albums that were good or had some enjoyable songs: E 40 – Breaking News, Wildchild – Code Red, Ludacris – Chicken and Beer, Freeway - Philadelphia Freeway, Neptunes -- Attack of the Clones, Bubba Sparxxx – Deliverance, Juggaknots – Rerelease, Yukmouth – Godzilla, Soul Position 8 Million Stories, Stark Reality, Punjabi MC – Beware, Foreign Legion – Playtight, RZA – Birth of a Prince, Oakland Faders -- After Party Vol. 1, Lifesavas – Spirit in Stone, Basement Jaxx, Dj Spinna, King Britt, Dudley Perkins….
I guess that this is my blog. I've always resisted this because I've always felt that blogs are for people who want to casually talk on a subject (music, in my case) but don't want to go through the trouble of engaging with others via a message board. Broad generalization...I know. But here I am.