- Name: Charlie
- Location: Brooklyn, NY
The MP3s available here are for sampling purposes. Please support the artists by buying their albums and going to their shows. If you are the artist or label rep and don't want an MP3 featured, let me know. Links will otherwise stay live for about two weeks before they vanish into the ether.
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On My Headphones
On My Screen
On My Shelf
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Get it poppin' like epileptics on bubble wrap
Photo by Bastian
Listen up, because this is what the opening track to a hip-hop album should sound like. Never mind that it opens an exclusive 500-copy tour-only mix (yeah right, not these days), because El-P can't be stopped. He's a one-man sonic bulldozer. He's a killbot without an off-switch. He stomps out hard and fast on "Hoobity Blah," with enough bluster to back up his blistering productions. Sure, we've heard grotesque soundscapes like this before, on high points like "Smithereens (Stop Cryin')" and Cannibal Ox's "Ridiculoid," but the chaos still feels painfully relevant here. The drum machines crash down like riot gear on jawbones; the electronics spike and writhe like thousand-volt electrodes clamped to sensitive areas. And in a deft new touch, a jazzy High Water (Mark) piano line ebbs in and out like the last innocent bystander. It's Stravinsky's Peter and the Wolf by way of Hieronymous Bosch.
El-P also rhymes viciously, attacking hard and often like a man with a vendetta. He sounds especially confident on "Hoobity Blah," wasting no time or breath. Or as he blithely asserts at one point, "I'm more than just confused; I'm an asshole." He definitely spits enough bile to make a convincing case, but I think another line comes closer to the truth. Toward the end of the track, he says, "I'm lovin' it, I'm lovin' it, I'm lovin' it" like a McDonald's jingle malfunctioning. And for all the vitriol, paranoia and bravado, he really does sound infatuated. For his decade-plus run in the rap game, he still sounds enchanted by the way his words fit together and his beats beat down all comers. From the first verse, from the first note, he sounds like he's found his place--wholly comfortable but never complacent.
* MP3: "Hoobity Blah" - El-P from Weareallgoingtoburninhellmegamixx2!! [Buy other El-P]
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Crank up my alpine, and my bass crazy kickin' it
Photo by Ryan Andrew Mihalyi
I don't know how to drive. I couldn't give proper directions down a one-way street. I failed my exam in near-record-time when I almost slammed into an oncoming car. And as my friend Sarah will happily tell you, her favorite nickname for me is 'Ol Two Legs. Yet when I hear the Pusha T-Cool Kids-Bun B remix for Kidz in the Hall's "Drivin' Down the Block," all I want to do is run out and buy a car. Any car as long as it's got a punishing soundsytem and fridge-sized subwoofers to pump this anthem at full blast. And if it happens to come tricked out with some 22-inch rims and vintage tailfins, hey, all the better.
No wonder the song sounds so good: "Drivin' Down the Block" was already a sturdy leadoff single from Kidz in the Hall's mainstream-tilting The In Crowd. With its Tribe Called Quest shoutout, ATLiens callback, and indie-crib of Nelly's nursery-rhymes singalongs, it's an eager, earnest, if slightly too calculating, attempt at a hit. Its chorus, sampled from Masta Ace's "Born to Roll," is just about perfect too, a simple, bass-heavy beat designed for windows-down blaring. Still, as likable as the song is, the remix manages to improve on it dramatically. By keeping its essential features and upgrading with a few choice extras, the remix is the souped-up premium series to the original flavor's economy-class model.
Most striking are the guest turns, who bring a jolt of confidence and personality to the track. It's weird/brave that Kidz in the Hall would bring in the Cool Kids, considering they're so often compared and so similarly named. Kidz' MC, Nawledge, has also been getting some Clipse-without-the-coke callouts, so the appearance of Pusha T is another odd/interesting choice. All of them together either sound very consistent or kinda homogenous, depending on your perspective. I happen to think they fit together really well, especially since everybody seems intent on dropping strong, smart, to-the-point verses. And of course, it helps that there's also the palate-cleansing interruption of America's favorite trump card, Bun B.
It's refreshing/disconcerting that regional differences in hip-hop have been erased to the point of obliteration like this. Whereas rappers used to beef about turf, they're now content to invite guests on tracks almost irregardless of reasoning. The most egregious example was last year's "Hello Brooklyn," which had Lil Wayne inexplicably paying homage to Jay-Z's native borough. Another bizarre (and better) recent pairing found Dizzee Rascal and UGK comparing notes on what it means to be a transatlantic gangsta. Because Bun B's appearance on "Drivin' Down The Block" is nowhere near as strange, his gruff Southern slang and hard-edged presentation provide a sharp, welcome contrast to the other rappers. It's novel without being a novelty, a well-placed rumble strip to keep heads awake.
Since car culture seems to transcend hip-hop divides, it's fun to see how different artists respond to the same basic cue. For Pusha T, his ride becomes a status symbol housing all his other labels; for Bun B, it's a vehicle to obtaining endo, chickenheads and candy paint. On a separate remix, El-P presents his car as cage, yet another tracking device and institutional deathtrap trapped in the grid. (It would've been more effective if he hadn't already done it even better last year on "Drive.") It'd be cool to see how other iconic rappers imprinted their own versions, getting, say, an freewheeling auto-erotic fantasia from Ghostface or a nostalgic, R&B-hooked cruise down Marcy Ave. from Jigga. Whatever else may follow it though, this current remix is already guaranteed a spot on my 2008 summer rotation. I'm sure it'd sound fantastic thumping out of a speeding convertible, but for now, it even kills on two legs and a bus pass.
* MP3: "Drivin' Down the Block" (Remix ft. Pusha T, Bun B and the Cool Kids) - Kidz in the Hall from The In Crowd [Buy it]
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Around the world #8
Photo by Bryan Derballa
* Bryan goes to Israel and brings back some incredible photographs and stories from his trip. I was in Israel in January, and now I just feel embarrassed. [lovebryan] (via Fecal Face NYC)
* Just one more reminder of why I miss San Francisco so much: twelve kilometers of city-sanctioned insanity. [San Francisco Chronicle]
* Greencine's festival coverage is once again excellent and thorough, with a roundup of all the Cannes action. Some of the films I've been keeping an eye on include The Headless Woman, Ashes of Time Redux, 24 City, Soi Cowboy, and Waltz with Bashir. [Greencine Daily]
* Errol Morris pens a potent essay about Sabrina Harman's smile to go along with his potent new documentary, Standard Operating Procedure. [New York Times]
* Pull up a lawn chair, put a mini-umbrella in a cool drink, and enjoy this spring mix from the Round Table Knights. [The Fader]
* Or better yet, get in your pants, eat some crisps, and enjoy season five of Peep Show, the best Anglo export since The Office. [YouTube]
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Mas y mas y mas y mas
Mas y Mas, America's fourteenth best band, played up in Brooklyn on two consecutive weekends. They were touring the East Coast in honor of the vinyl release of Proud Sponsors of Pepsi, their debut full-length and my tenth favorite album of 2007. They promised to give me a free copy, but they never did, so now those fucks are all dead to me. Here are some highlights of the festivities:
Trash Bar, 5-10-08
"Rock So Tough"
"Out of It"
Death by Audio, 5-17-08
"Rock So Tough"
* MP3: "DC Instead" - Mas y Mas from Proud Sponsors of Pepsi
* MP3: "You Can't Play Without Ice" - Mas y Mas from Proud Sponsors of Pepsi [Buy it]
* Website: Rock So Tough
* Previously: Mas y Mas @ Trash Bar 8-24-07
* Previously: Rock so tough: Mas y Mas MP3s
* Previously: Filed under beautiful genius: Mas y Mas MP3s
Friday, May 16, 2008
Listening booth #36
Art by Chris Goodwin
* MP3: "Machine Gun" (Zilla Rocca Remix) - Portishead [Visit Zilla] [Buy Portishead]
* MP3: "Leviathan, Bound" - Shearwater from Rook [Preorder it]
* MP3: "Underground Thang" - Bun B ft. Pimp C and Chamillionaire from II Trill [Preorder it]
Check out more of Chris Goodwin's work on Flickr and at his website.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
And do that stuff that your mama calls smut
Photo by Micah Carmody
Dance music should be dumb. It should be dirty and visceral and commanding--in short, it should make you want to dance. Feadz' "Back It Up" covers those bases from the outset, opening with chords that boom like warning shots. Spank Rock's assist on the track is just as eager to please, declaring apropos of nothing, "You a down-ass bitch, you a down-ass bitch, you a down-ass bitch." Those unsubtle choices won't surprise anyone who's heard Feadz or Spank Rock before, but somehow, the combo works perfectly here. Feadz's boundless energy gives Spank Rock's horny come-ons new spark, and Spank Rock's garish lines make the song that much more memorable.
Even as an instrumental though, "Back It Up" would make an excellent dance track. For all its crowd-pleasing tendencies, the beat features lots of great, even nuanced choices. The way it ramps up, building from slower, more percussive verses to jittery, hyperactive bridges, keeps it exciting throughout. The little electronic bloops it randomly tosses in add some nice variation and fun extra textures. And I love the way it progressively incorporates new elements into the structure, like a snowball rolling down a mountain. It's stupid, ass-shaking music done intelligently, and it sounds miles ahead of your average club banger.
But Spank Rock also does his bar-raising part by bringing his own crypto-intelligence. All his pronouncements come off like simple instructions for ass-shaking ("Here we go again: bend. You need to back it up now"), but they could just as easily be metacommentary. As Spank Rock implores the audience to bend, the beat obliges with key changes and contortions in pitch. As he tell us to back it up, his vocals loop back on repeat and first-verse techniques get reprised. Even the catchiest suggestion, "And do that stuff that your mama calls smut" takes on another meaning, as the beat becomes more sexual on command. And of course there's the title too, winkingly hinting you head back to this song as soon as it's over. Between the extremely dynamic music and fun throwback rap, the irresistible summons to the dance floor, and the interplay of idiocy and smart calls, you'd be dumb to turn it down.
* MP3: "Back It Up" - Feadz ft. Spank Rock from Ed Banger Records, Vol. 3 [Preorder it]
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
We are all going to blog in hell
|Webster Hall, New York City, 5-10-08|
Kidz in the Hall
"The Troglodyte Wins"
"Smithereens (Stop Cryin')"
"Deep Space 9mm"
* MP3: "Drivin' Down The Block" (El-P Remix) - Kidz in the Hall [Buy other Kidz in the Hall]
* MP3: "Kill Your Employer (Recreational Paranoia is the Sport of Now)" - Busdriver from RoadKillOvercoat [Buy it]
* MP3: "Intrigue in the House of India" - El-P from High Water (Mark) [Buy it]
* MP3: "Flex" (Dave Spoon Reflex) - Dizzee Rascal from "Flex" 12" [Buy it]
* Previously: I'll sleep when you're uploaded #2
* Previously: I'll sleep when you're uploaded
Video Tuesday #52
|"One Pure Thought"|
"Drivin' Down The Block"
Kidz in the Hall
"Lovecraft in Brooklyn" (Aesop Rock Remix)
(via Shots Ring Out)
The Roots ft. Wale and Chrisette Michele
"The Eye You Lost in the Crusades"
"Git Up Git Out"
Friday, May 09, 2008
I I I can't help it
Photo by IAAH
Shit's going down. It's a message the Roots have been sending us for a decade-and-a-half with some pretty extraordinary results. On the dark, pessimistic heights of Phrenology and Game Theory, the band tackled everything from Columbine to drug addiction to hypersexualization to the dismal realities of inner-city life. Their new album, Rising Down, barrels down similar avenues, a further distillation of dark times and desperate measures. With his very first lines on their tenth work, Black Thought unleashes an catalog of inconvenient truths: "Between the greenhouse gases and Earth spinnin' off its axis/ got Mother Nature doin' backflips, the natural disaster/ it's like eighty degrees in Alaska, you in trouble if you not an Onassis,/ it ain't hard to tell that the conditions are drastic."
What keeps this from being redundant is all the surrounding elements the Roots throw in. Almost every track comes with well-chosen guests, who actually enliven the proceedings and further the topics rather than brag about themselves. The music is appropriate and potent too, full of imperative drumming and end-times urgency. Even Thought, who's often slammed for his monotonous delivery, shows off a skillful range of moods. He's never sounded more enflamed than on "75 Bars (Black's Reconstruction)," while the defiant "I Will Not Apologize" finds him effortlessly flowing in a cadence as natural as speech.
But it's the next track, "I Can't Help It," where all these factors coalesce especially well. The track starts out jarringly, with a spacey effect that sounds like it was copped from Matmos or M83. When the beat kicks in, it gets no less strange or off-putting, brazenly bizarre for any hip-hop band this side of Subtle. It pulsates with paranoia, hinting at the constant threat of harm. (Amazon even suggested I buy Rising Down paired with Portishead's Third, which is probably the most on-point idea it's ever given me.) And then there's the hook, which is the band's most brilliant move of all. Singing "I I I can't help it" over and over, Mercedes Martinez completely negates the usual purpose of a R&B hook. Rather than tempt or assuage as a good rap vamp should, her almost robotic plea/confession/excuse only makes things feel scarier and more out of control.
It's against this backdrop that Malik B, P.O.R.N. and Black Thought step up and murder the track. With such a confidently bleak intro, the rappers could've just sleepwalked through with some obvious verses and let the music do the heavy lifting. Instead, they drop some of the best lines and sharpest observations on the album. Addressing drug abuse again, this time from a first-person perspective (whereas Phrenology's epic "Water" was an intervention), they dare to tap into emotions just as harrowing as the underscoring Blade Runner beat.
Black Thought leads the way with a standout quartet: "My head already so heavy it's making the scales tip,/ I got my own pressure and got everyone else's/ I'm rehabilitatin' and still feeling rebellious,/ Candidate of heart failure, more pills than Elvis." But it's P.O.R.N. who kills me every time with his distressing follow-up: "I never said I'm ready to die but I accept it,/ Never said I'm ready for war but I'm protected,/ I don't even know when it's coming but I expect it,/ Lost thoughts, innocent hopes and now I'm left with/ Nervous conditions, addictions, in addition/ To vixens that mixed in with the wrong crowd,/ My life is on a flight that going down,/ My mother had an abortion for the wrong child." Any hope of eventual redemption or relief is promptly dashed when Martinez chimes back in, sounding even more astray. "I I I can't help it," she confirms again, just as helpless to escape the song as anybody else.
* MP3: "I Can't Help It" - The Roots from Rising Down [Buy it]
* Also: The Roots' Okayplayer blog
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Around the world #7
From Jean-Luc Godard's Une Femme est Une Femme, playing May 11-13 at Film Forum
* Since it's been a few weeks since Film Forum revived any Godard, how about they just go ahead and show twenty-one of his films this month!? Fuck, I'm just going to have to start sleeping at that theater, aren't I? [Film Forum]
* Everybody's favorite month besides Soul Patch September is finally here: it's Moustache May! [Moustache May]
* Tod has some spectacular photos of his New Orleans trip. Not a big surprise. [Sucka Pants]
* Amy also has a great new mix up. Jaw still not hanging agape in shock. [Shake Your Fist]
* To burn or not to burn? Dmitri Nabokov talks about why he's publishing his father's unfinished manuscript, The Original of Laura, against his father's wishes, while Tom Stoppard and John Banville tackle opposite sides of the debate. (I say, how about we burn one half and publish the other, so that everybody wins!)
* Criterion Collection has a roundup of famous people's ten favorite Criterion movies. Turns out everybody and their mom is a big fan of Rushmore. OH, ARE THEY? [Criterion]
Friday, May 02, 2008
Mixtape for my sweetheart, the drunk #21
1) "Party and Bullshit" (Ratatat remix) - Notorious B.I.G. from Ratatat Remixes, Vol. II [Download the album]
2) "Dans Ta Vraie Vie" - Yelle from Pop-Up [Buy it]
3) "Back It Up" - Feadz ft. Spank Rock from Ed Banger Vol. 3 [Preorder it]
4) "Money Ova Here" - Lil Wayne ft. Stacks from Tha Carter III Mixtape [Buy other Lil Wayne]
5) "Invaders" (Djedjotronic Remix) - DSL from "Invaders" 12" [Buy it]
6) "Pump Up The Volume" (Flosstradamus Remix) - The Cool Kids [Visit The Cool Kids] [Visit Flosstradamus]
7) "Smile" (Detboi Luvs Me remix) - Kidda [Visit Kidda] [Visit Detboi]
8) "Switchblade" (LA Riots Remix) - HEARTSREVOLUTION [Visit HEARTSREVOLUTION] [Visit LA Riots]
9) "Belly" (Boody B Remix) - Mapei [Visit Mapei] [Visit Boody B]
10) "Le Night Dominator" - The Touch ft. Lina [Visit them]
11) "Cross The Border" - Re-Up Gang from The Saga Continues [Buy it]
12) "Patrick 122" (Calling In Sick Remix) - Mr. Oizo [Buy other Mr. Oizo]
13) "Alla Som Inte Dansar" (Team Skidoo Remix) - Maskinen [Visit Maskinen] [Visit Team Skidoo]
Or you can download the full mix as a .zip here.