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Category Archives: Hip-Hop

 

ALBUM – Hello Nasty

ARTIST – The Beastie Boys

YEAR – 1998

This is a week for celebrating.

Today, in particular, I want to celebrate Adam Yauch.  Congratulations!

Furthermore, I wish to convey my, our, love for THE BEASTIE BOYS.

I have just read (and heard) – shortly after waking up –  that the Beasties are due with another record this coming April 16th (even this video is a celebration).  Today’s news had a sample of their first single, “Make Some Noise”.

“Festivus”!  Kramer’s made-up Holiday.  Nah, I just want to let the good news sink in and enjoy it.  I will suffer from anxiety, obviously, but it will be from the positive kind.

It got me feeling 14 again, that’s how old I was when “Use Your Illusion I and II” came out.  I remember that day vividly.  I forced my mother to take me to the mall and made her wait, standing in line with me at the record store, for my turn to buy the new “Guns”.

Nostalgia.

That is exactly what I feel when I listen to “Hello Nasty”.  It brings me back to the last time I was in New York (it’s been 13 years).  And, out of pure good luck and fortune, one of my all-time favourite bands were releasing an album.  Of course I listened to this non-stop for the next 13 years.

And of course you know I have a favourite Beasties album, it’s a known fact; “Ill Communication” is by far my favourite.  But that doesn’t mean we cannot appreciate other albums.

This one in particular is just as great.  Less inspiration, maybe.  Rather, I think the trio were in a transitional phase, moving from their ’90s style – adolescence – into their naughties’ maturity/manhood.

Just think back and remember what came out after “Hello Nasty”  Other than pay homage to the Big Apple, they put together a new kind of sound; something that was beginning to appear in this 1998 recording.

P.S: I have just purchased (pre-online-purchase) the new album.  I suggest you do the same.  I reckon it will be worth it.

Cheers…

 

 

ALBUM – Judgement Night

ARTIST – Various

YEAR – 1993

Ottawa, Ontario,  Canada.

It was winter, if memory serves (it doesn’t, but, whatever), and my friends and I (Jamie, Brendan and Mike) watched this for the first time.

Obviously, we thought the movie was cool, even though we didn’t really get the violence and the nonsense fiction of it all (you have to watch it again to realise that what happens in the movie is way far fetched).

What stood out the most, even back then, while we were going through our grunge, I love Steppenwolf and Led Zeppelin phases, was the music.

This soundtrack should go down in history.  Not just because it is wicked, but because it brought acts together that not even in my wildest of dreams I would have thought of matching up, i.e. Teenage Fanclub and De La soul.

Particularly, “Fallin'” is probably my favourite track.  Although I must say a have a penchant for “Just Another Victim”, by Helmet and House of Pain.  I love the heavy metal/rap transition.  “…I’ll serve your ass like John MacEncroe”.  Cool.

So, kids, enjoy.

Cheers…

ALBUM – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

ARTIST – Kanye West

YEAR – 2010

Rap.  Hip-Hop.

Don’t think Maria will like this.

Damn fine recording.  Very aggressive and very, very well put together – constructed, I think, is a better vocabulary.

Although I do not necessarily partake, much less indulge, in Mr West’s antics, I really think he deserves credit for creating something new in a time and place where something new was impossible to fathom.

What I am trying to say is that Rap/Hip-Hop seemed old and boring.  Nothing new ever came out, just a bunch of lame-ass wannabe artists.  The late ’90s and early ’00s were aweful for the genre.  Then, Kanye.

Say what you will, he is a star, an entertainer.  50 cent?  Nelly?  Seriously?!  Fuck off.

Back.  Kanye pushed the envelope.  A lot of surprises.  This album, in particular, is probably his Magnus Opus.

Cheers…

ALBUM – Plastic Beach

ARTIST – Gorillaz

YEAR – 2010

It’s about time.  Both for a new Gorillaz album and for me to post something new.

I had started a couple of posts, but gave up, halfway through.  They were not inspired.  Not that this one is, I just felt they were not worth wasting time on.  I hope this new post at least allows my readers (hahahahahahaha) to enjoy a little bit of nice music.

This is a brand new album and a very good one.  Those behind the band’s creative process must be praised – this is an album with miscellaneous influences and, what stands out the most, fresh material.  Of course, Mr Damon Albarn’s “contacts” are also welcome.  I do not know, much less understand, how this man manages to get the artists he gets to participate in his albums.  He must have lots of cool and connected friends.

This only adds to the quality of his albums.  They are unconventional, risky, “pushing the envelope” sort of stuff.  This particular release is a kaleidoscope of music, very edgy, cool, subtle, and whole lot of other adjectives.  It is a good album.  I like.

So, I hope you can at least enjoy the music.  A very soggy post, I know.  Cheers…


ALBUM – The Low End Theory
ARTIST – A Tribe Called Quest
YEAR – 1991

All the time Tip… Ok, ok, so I’m back posting Hip-Hop. This is a truly magnificent album, top marks, perfect, exceptional, to go down in history books. It is THAT good. Trust me, try it, see if it fits.

It’s not the first contact I had with A Tribe Called Quest, the first album was actually in a previous post, “Beats, Rhymes and Life” (I mentioned back then that it was my favourite album). It is my favourite for emotional reasons, nostalgia, basically. This is a better album, more thorough, elaborate and just jazzy as hell. I have to fulfill one of my “adulthood” dreams and buy a turntable so I can enjoy this the way it should be enjoyed – on vinyl!!!

You have to listen to this on reasonably loud terms; this is in order to get the whole sound. Listen to the bass, the jazzy saxes and trumpets throughout – of course, there’s a scratch here and there and most powerful rhymes. These guys really brought the movement to a level unnatainable by any other act. This style is so unique it’s impossible to match. It is a shame they followed different paths after an amazing run, specially during the 90s. I heard they MAY get together again. Q-Tip’s got a solid solo career with guest appearances on loads of recordings and two very well produced solo albums.

“The Low End Theory’s” got my all-time favourite track, “Jazz (We’ve Got)”. You can start off there, get a feel for the album and for their style. Or, you can do the opposite, listen to the album and THEN bust this one out. There, maybe that’s a better approach. Much respect to those who try this out. You’ve got to recognise these guys’ talent for putting out one great recording after another. This one followed their debut “People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm” – a brilliant start -, so you can imagine that maintaining these standards is absurd, but they managed to pull it off. There’s no such thing as a “so-so” Tribe album; they’re all great, amazing, to “Holy shit this is good” and perfection (the case with The Low End Theory).

Much love to the East Coast as well. You’ll catch some of that vibe in the album. So, let’s talk a bit about this album. You can check this out for reference. The album starts off the way I like it, with HUGE basslines. Damn, they kick it off “Buggin’ Out” – superb. That bass plays through the entire album. “Butter”, in my opinion is a bit mellower and melancholic – it’s just me, eh?! Following the trippy experience is “Verses From the Abstract”. I love the guitar riff and female voice (Vinia Mojica) in the chorus. A classic is “Check the Rhime”, worth the listen. Then, then, it’s time for it (right after “Everything is Fair”), “Jazz (We’ve Got)”. Damn, it doesn’t get old, it gets better everytime I put it on. “We got the jazz, we got the jazz…”. Listen to Busta Rhymes go off on a funky, upbeat and just awesome track “Scenario” – wicked!!! The last song’s got a bass as heavy as the first. “Excursions” will undoubtedly leave you wanting more, or, at least, another walk through the album.

Cheers…


ALBUM – Buhloone Mindstate
ARTIST – De La Soul
YEAR – 1993

I first heard this album after having listened to some of their later albums. This is the best one!!! I’ve got a couple of their albums here at home, on CD, not this one. How come?! Yeah, that’s something that’s been on my mind, especially after I began this post. Now, for the usual digression, this album came at a time I was perhaps at one of my most eclectic phases – I listened to Pantera, Biohazard, Operation Ivy, The Skatalites, The Pharcyde, A Tribe Called Quest, Miles Davis, James Brown, Jorge Ben, among others. Suffice it to say, I had an ample variety of sources.

As time goes by… Right, right, well, as it does pass, tastes change and discover new sounds and artists. More often than not, some music is rediscovered. I reckon as we mature (supposedly) phisically and mentally, our attitudes towards the arts accompany that transition. But, you see, I had this idea, this preconcieved perspective that, as an adult, I’d cherish Classical, Jazz and overall erudite music. Not the case.

As a nearly 31 year-old semi-adult, I find myself revisiting past influences and have recently come to realise that I am a big, big fan of Hip-Hop. Not rap, this contemporary shite they put out, but old – by today’s standards -, cool 80s and 90s Hip-Hop. I admit I am a tad more selective and picky with regards to what I listen too. A couple of names come to mind and are pretty obvious, considering past posts: A Tribe Called Quest, The Pharcyde, The Sugarhill Gang, Guru (his Jazzmatazz series are wicked!!!), De La Soul, The Roots. This is basically the collection most often played on my stereo at home and in the car.

Now, finally, with regards to this particular album, the sound is great – like those that start at track one and carries you all the way through; then, when you come to terms, it’s suddenly done and you want more… You know which kind of album I’m talking about, right???!!! This is it. I don’t think De La has put out anything similar or as good. Lots of people and critics talk about their previous release Three Feet High And Rising – which is, don’t get me wrong, an incredible album -, as being their best. I beg to differ. According to this humble opinion, thee best is Buhloone Mindstate. Serioulsy, give it a listen.

Tracks?! Ok, so, this is tough. Where to begin. Sure, with track 5, “I Be Blowin'”. Listen to the sax. It’s an instrumental track, yes, no lyrics, and yes again, by a Hip-Hop outfit. Great, great tune. One of my favourite all-time greatest tracks. It flows, meanders through sound and thought and seems to provoke a mellow feeling. You can’t help feeling pleasant listening to this. “Eye Patch”, the first song, second track (taking into account the INTRO), has the coolest guitar. As I mentioned previously, track 4, “Patti Duke” has the participation of the Guru – worth a listen. Also, it’s got a sample for The Pharcyde’s track “Running” – check it out. Hmmm, maybe my next post should be about “Labcabincalifornia” – more on that later. Last track I want to mention before this post gets completely out of hand is “Ego Trippin’ (Part 2)”. I think this stands out as the album’s spirit, it represents the feel of the release. I’m out…

Cheers…


ARTIST – Beastie Boys
ALBUM – Ill Communication
YEAR – 1994

The Beastie’s fourth release, in my view, evidently, is their best – actually, make it my favourite. It’s always a matter of judgment whether a record is a band’s best or not. So, in order to prevent heated debates, I consider this to be the trio’s most appealing, again, in my opinion.
This 1994 release has got such an urban sound. It’s raw and powerful, even if it has elements of buddhist hymns mixed in. I have detected a pattern in my posts. It’s the fact that the albums I choose are the most complete, in the sense that they can be listened to from start to finish without fast-forwarding or song skipping. The selections have all been based on personal motives and this pattern I guess represents the reason why I chose these particular recordings.
Nowadays, the Beasties are more mature and their albums are evidence of that. Their material has volume and depth and range. But the one that most pleases these ears is ILL COMMUNICATION.
It was produced by Mario Caldato Jr., a native of Brazil and master mind behind other great releases. It had the Grand Royal label behind them, now extinct – a pitty. It’s got some wicked collaborators, such as A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip and Biz Markie. The songs, one after the other, seem to follow no logical flow. In fact, the mix-up is what’s appealing. From the first track, “Sure Shot” to the fourth, instrumental, “Bobo On The Corner”. It’s really a great compilation of these artist’s talents. A quick reminder, that I’m afraid not many people are aware of, is that the three man group play real instruments – yes, believe it or not, Adam “MCA” Yauch, Adam “Adrock” Horovitz and Mike “Mike D.” Diamond play the fuck out of the bass, guitar and drums, respectively. And what sounds, man.
The personal feel of Ill Communication represents a very urban, very cosmopolitan sound. It’s got a rough-cut, vinyl, scratchy sound. The beats, therefore, seem to stand out through the static. The rhymes are, as always, grand. You must listen to this album, start to finish. The, and only then, can you have a reasonable understanding of what I’m blabbering about.
The 70s funky grooves are also thrown in there. And yes, I do love the 70s. The discoesque vibe on some of the instrumental tunes are brave, crammed in the album among big, heavy tracks.
I love this album. One that goes on my all-time top 10 list. Yeah, I think it’s that fucking good.
It also has a close to home feel ’cause of the time I acquired it. It was during my last year living in Canada, while I was in my teens. It was a good time – nostalgia has once again kicked in. Sorry about that. I don’t wanna get all emotional and shit. So, let’s move on.
To the songs. Number one: “Sure Shot”, “’cause you can’t, you won’t and you don’t stop.” is the chorus on the first track, and perfectly introduces this talented trio of rappers/rockers/posers/tibetan freedom fighters/producers/musicians, etc. The next track, “Tough Guy” is a rare specimen nowadays, that brings back earlier recordings, in particular their first “Licensed to Ill” – it was their rock/rap interpretation. The french woman on the, I believe, answering machine is great, that kicks off “B Boys Makin’ with the Freak Freak”. The flowing beats and distorted vocals, together with the samples… Damn… “Root Down” became a classic, along with “Sabotage”, also thanks to Spike Jonze and his awarded and celebrated music video. Probably my top selection is “Get It Together”. I imagine you’re probably thinking “that’s obvious”. Well, it is. Q-Tip’s vocals and demeanor sums it all up. He’s the shit! This song’s got a particular sweet feel, sort of 70s alcoholic good cop movie – whatever the fuck that means. You figure it out! “Sabrosa” is the 70s tribute, for real. The guitar riffs in the intro are there, man, check it out. It’s like the theme song for some cheesy TV show. Moving on, “Alright Hear This” is cool, it’s got these wicked scratches and big ass bass, coupled with fast, brutal vocals – awesome! But then, it gets better. It’s “Flute Loop”, with Adrock’s screechy and almost angry and matter-of-fact rhymes. The flute moves the song along through the chorus. Really good tune. The outro, “Transitions” has a brilliant build-up. It’s an instrumental song, but a damn fucking good one. The drums coming in at the intro is sweet – almost accoustic. This closes a perfect Beastie Boys album. What a transcendental song. A top marks production and recording.
Cheers…


Beats, Rhymes and Life, the ’96 release is the fourth in the A TRIBE CALLED QUEST discography. In my opinion, obviously, the best. Q-Tip (Kamal Fareed), rapper Phife Dawg (Malik Taylor), and DJ/producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad have outdone themselves. Now, before I get started, just a note: I am not try to set trends or go against mainstream criticism or follow any type of bandwagon. I just play it as it is – which, in this case, is the way my opinion tilts.
This album, more contemplative than previous and post recordings, proves its worth. It’s amazing, from PHONY RAPPERS, the introductory track, to STRESSED OUT, the closing one. I mean, it carries itself elegantly, moves along with grace and concern. Top beats, very deep and poignant, accompanied by fervent basslines – all part of the QUEST’S repertoire -, and very smart lyrics. It seems to sting, to build up, but as you wander through the music, you realise it jumps and slows and twists and turns.
In comparison to the critic’s favourite, THE LOW END THEORY, this album has a different recipe. It’s a sort of subtler, more serious, beats. Intelligent rhymes and melancholy provide the spirit for this powerful recording. And, come to think of it, I think powerfull is the adequate term to qualify this piece of work.
To the tunes: My favourite is KEEPING IT MOVING – “something for your earholes, so you can clean them shits out…” -, can you get a better introduction???!!! Great!!! Just brilliant. 1NCE AGAIN is right up there. So much love, so much passion. This kind of gray, murky, rainy day song is marvellous. The big, big beats and the piao, just audible, in the background is fantastic. Of course, Q-Tip and Phife Dawg tear it up with their lyrics. It’s a lot like a love-hate relationship. The beautiful, tender female voice in the chorus together with the composition, goes well with some acid rhymes.
Last, but not at all least, there’s JAM. Yeah, I guess I did pick the more upbeat tunes. Hey, like I said before, it’s just me. Great little guitar riff. “It was friday afternoon in the middle of june…” . I’m off…