Tag Archives: hip-hop

Throwback: “No One But The Lord” by Dannie Belles

12 Jul
Dannie Belles Making the Most of Today album cover

Making the Most of Today by Dannie Belles

As some of you may know, over the weekend MF DOOM and Ghostface Killah, who collaborate as the duo DOOM/Starks, set the hearts of hip-hop fans all aflutter with a little read cassette tape featuring a remix of the track “Victory Laps,” which will be released on iTunes July 26. Don’t know what the original sounds like since it’s not out yet, but the Madvillainz remix features the same sample used in one of my favorite Blackalicious tracks, “A to G.” I did some digging, and thanks to the wonder that is the internet I found that the descending piano chords and fetching guitar twang that inspired MF Doom and Blackalicious came from a rare funky recording of “No One but the Lord” by the ’70s gospel outfit Dannie Belles, featuring the late gospel songstress Danniebelle Hall. Dannie Belles’ version is so smooth and supercool that you almost forget it’s a gospel song. (Not that gospel can’t be cool! Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight and the 1982 Celestial Choir can attest to that.)

Listen to the track below (originally appeared on the album Making the Most of Today).

So Fresh, So Clean: New Music from Radiohead, Jean Grae and Washed Out

21 Jun

I don’t know what it is — maybe it’s the summer solstice, maybe it was just a good week in music — but I was feeling a lot of new tracks this past week. As a matter of fact, there was so much new stuff out there that I liked that I had a hard time narrowing down my list for today’s post. But I did, and I now present to you this week’s roundup of musical hotness.

Radiohead, “Staircase” (Live From the Basement)

Yesterday evening Radiohead released a video of a live performance of the brand new song “Staircase” on YouTube. The performance is an excerpt from the band’s live session for the British TV program From the Basement, which is the creation of “sixth Radiohead member” Nigel Godrich. This tribal, trance-inducing track features drummer Clive Deamer playing alongside Radiohead percussionist Phil Selway (yep, double drummers). The session will air July 1.

Jean Grae, “Casebasket”

Here’s why lady MC Jean Grae deserves the utmost respect: on this new joint she shouts out Tampax, marzipan, scrabble and the “Rudy Huxtuble dance” all while spittin’ the hot fiya over relentless snare and bass. Basically, she’s the truth. You can download the track (from the forthcoming mixtape Cookies or Comas, out Thursday) via RCRD LBL.

P.S. 50 points to those who know which Cosby Show episode inspired the Rudy Huxtable dance.

Washed Out, “Amor Fati”

It’s only fitting that chillwave darling Washed Out would release a proper debut full-length during the warm months, what with mastermind Ernest Greene’s proclivity to lo-fi, summer-fantasy-inducing synth pop. This hazy cut comes from Washed Out’s upcoming album Within and Without, out July 12 on Sub Pop. Makes me reminisce about 11-year-old me swaying to Depeche Mode in my sunny peach bedroom. Download the track via Pitchfork.

Portishead and ATP, ATP I’ll Be Your Mirror London Mixtape

Honorably mention to Portishead this week for the mixtape they curated with All Tomorrow’s Parties to promote the upcoming London I’ll Be Your Mirror event, which will feature all of the folks on the mix. High points include the moody opening featuring Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Portishead, the Books’ “A Cold Freezin’ Night,” Doom’s “Gazzillion Ear” (love the Hadron Collider shout out!), Foot Village’s “Lovers With Iraqis,” and the wind down with Caribou and Beach House.

Got a new song (released or posted in the last week) you’re excited about? Leave a comment and tell me about it.

Just A Whole Lot of Hollerin’: A Response to the Response to Jezebel’s White Girl Hip Hop Article

16 Jun

Screen shot White Girls Covering Hip Hop Hits article

On Monday, Jezebel editor Irin Carmon posted a short piece called “White Girls Covering Hip Hop Hits” (obviously) about the apparent growing phenomenon of Caucasian females covering hip hop songs on YouTube. I thought it was decent and intriguing and I was very curious to see what kind of comments people would leave below the article. Because subject matter like that should definitely inspire some interesting comments.

And oh, how it did.

What started off as a discussion over the point of the article in the discussion thread turned into a heated, long-winded, and often confusing internet fight about discrimination, appropriation, reparations and all those other fun race topics. I wasn’t surprised that a heated discussion happened, but I was a bit surprised by how quickly it blew up. When I first read the article earlier this week, I didn’t feel the need to comment (I often don’t comment on random articles because it seems like no matter what you say, someone will pick a fight with you), but after reading through the comments today, I decided to get a few things off my chest here. So here’s what I’d like to address:

The “What is the point of this article?” Question. I wasn’t confused by the article, but I was thoroughly confused by this question. I thought the points Carmon was making were that a.) you don’t see white girls rapping that often, so it’s still a novelty when you do, and there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just out of the norm; and b.) the lyrics, which are at times misogynistic, are reappropriated when they come out of the mouths of white females instead of non-white males. Done and done. Why wasn’t this clear to more people? (Seriously, I really want to know, drop a comment if you have some insight on this. Totally open to disagreement.)

The “New Generation” Sermon. After people got all sorts of pissy, one of the most vocal posters, who goes by the username VisforVanity, repeatedly asserted that she is not racist because she is part of a diverse, aware “new generation” “where racism is watering down.” I’m sorry, but comments like this make my eyes literally roll all the way to the back of my head. I don’t know anything about whoever VisforVanity really is in RL other than the fact that she says she’s 19. But I’m only 28 and not too far removed from this “new generation,” and I’ve had people my age and younger say blatantly prejudice or accidentally racist things to me, and recently. No, my experience with racism is nothing like my mother’s, who went through desegregation; or like my grandmother’s, who was probably called “gal” more times than she’d would’ve liked to admit. My experiences, for the most part, have been a lot more tame. But I don’t believe this “new generation” business. Not yet. I’ll credit this kind of hopeful but ignorant thinking to VisforVanity’s youth. I don’t think she’s racist, just young.

The Tangents. Somehow commenters start going off about reparations and Israel. Seriously? I thought we were talking about YOUTUBE VIDEOS. Yes, I get that the mostly seemingly harmless pop culture minutiae can justifiably inspire larger necessary social conversations, but let’s take it down a notch. ‘Cause you know, THEY’RE YOUTUBE VIDEOS.

I’m going to repeat myself, but I really feel the need to reiterate that in the end, this piece was about novelty. Imagine if Ice-T or ODB or 50 covered “On the Good Ship Lollipop.” Tell me that wouldn’t get seven million hits on YouTube.

The article was also about irony, which Carmon also notes. In the all-girl, a cappella video cover for “Bitches Ain’t Shit,” the chicks are rocking flipped collars, knee socks and tennis rackets. We all know that’s fashion code for WASP. Homegirls knew what they were doing.

Sigh. I feel better, but I’m fully aware that I might need to brace myself for a possible internet fight with someone about this post, seeing as how my blog is so popular (up to four readers now). Let me know what you think y’all.

So Fresh, So Clean: New Music from Flying Lotus, Tinariwen, Kanye West, Atom™ and Toshiyuki Yasuda

14 Jun

Update, 6/16/11, 10am: Turns out the new Kanye West song I talk about near the end of this post was a fake. Oh well. Lyrics are still solid.


Hooray for Tuesday! Normally I wouldn’t say hooray for any day of the week except Friday, Saturday or Sunday, but today I woke up with a lot more get-up-and-go than I did yesterday, and I was pleased to find lots of new music alerts blowing up my Twitter feed. I was inspired to start a new weekly series of posts highlighting some of the best, newest music out there. So here’s a roundup of the latest tracks that I’m currently digging.

Flying Lotus, “Stereolab – GalactagonFINAL2rMX”

FlyLo posted this previously unreleased Stereolab remix on SoundCloud late last night. It’s a deft combination of spacey pulse and lo-fi shuffle. You can hear more brand new FlyLo remixes on his SoundCloud page. (Highly suggest you check out the Massive Attack and Mr. Oizo remixes.)

Tinariwen feat. Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone, “Tenere Taqhim Tossam”

Yesterday the Malian Tuareg group Tinariwen posted a new video on YouTube for the song “Tenere Taqhim Tossam,” which features Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio (!). Loving how Adebimpe’s voice seamlessly meshes with Tinariwen’s desert blues. The song comes from Tinariwen’s upcoming album Tassili, due out August 30 on Anti-.

Kanye West, “Mama’s Boyfriend”

This bouncy new Kanye joint popped up on the Consequence of Sound blog yesterday. Anybody who grew up with a single parent with an active dating life will be able to relate to this track. Download it here (via the G.O.O.D. Music Blog).

Atom™ and Toshiyuki Yasuda, “Águas de Março [ft. Fernanda Takai + Moreno Veloso]

“Águas de Março” is one of my favorite songs of all time, so imagine my delight when I found a cover of the tune on a recent post on NPR Music‘s Alt.Latino blog. Electronic artists Atom™ and Toshiyuki Yasuda team up with vocalists Fernanda Takai and Moreno Veloso to create a deferential yet inventive interpretation of the original classic. The track appears on the forthcoming two-disc compilation Red Hot + Rio 2 to be released by the HIV charity Red Hot Organization. Listen to it hereRed Hot + Rio 2 drops June 28.

What brand new stuff (released or posted in the last week) have you been listening to?

Wiley Video: “Numbers in Action”

25 May

The video for English grime rapper Wiley’s latest track has been snaking its way through the internet for a little over a month now, so I know I’m not breaking any ground posting it here, but I feel compelled to share it because it encompasses and personifies everything I love about grime: industrial cool, stark, hot beats and gangsta British accents.

Plus, I love how video directors Chris Barrett and Luke Taylor of the direction team Us are obviously tipping their hats to the Sesame Street numbers video segments we all jammed to in our wee years. All this video needs is an occasional loop of Super Grover flying (read: falling) through the air.

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the video on Pitchfork.

Songs for a Weekend Apocalypse

21 May

According to Christian radio broadcaster Harold Camping, the beginning of the end of the world starts today. But instead of selling all my belongings and heading to a mountaintop, I thought I’d put together a quick playlist for the end times.

Here’s what the apocalypse sounds like to me:

Montage, “Wake Up, Jimmy (Something’s Happening Outside)”

Kicking things off with the not-so-well-known closer on the sole album by ’60s Baroque pop band Montage (also not well-known, but GREAT). Recorded smack dab in the middle of the Cold War, this jaunty tune is actually about the dropping of an atomic bomb. I suppose it doesn’t hurt to think happy thoughts while your flesh is burning.

David Bowie, “Five Years”

Obvious choice from Bowie’s magical Ziggy Stardust years. One of my favorite songs of all time, and one to surely belt out while watching a rising mushroom cloud.

Kate Bush, “Breathing”

I’ve been discovering Kate Bush little by little over the last few weeks and I’m steadily becoming fascinated with her. She’s just so damn ballsy and artsy! “Breathing” is another Cold War era joint — it appeared on Bush’s hit 1980 album Never for Ever — but unlike the Montage track, this song is quite melodically dark. I love how Bush blends murky, impressionistic soulfulness with her lyrical take on the aftermath of nuclear war.

Wu-Tang Clan feat. Isaac Hayes, “I Can’t Go to Sleep”

Rousing strings from the Isaac Hayes sample + Ghostface Killah and RZA’s anguished delivery + rhymes dripping with conspiracy theories and hopelessness = one powerful f***ing song.

TV on the Radio, “No Future Shock”

No world (or not much of one) after today? TVOTR says we might as well dance about it. I agree.

That’s gonna do it for my shortlist. So tell me, what’s on your end of days mixtape?

Serengeti: “Ha-Ha”

19 May
Serengeti

Serengeti

I love quirky hip-hop, but sometimes I think some eccentric emcees get too caught up in kookiness and don’t concentrate enough on just making a good track. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for offbeat rhymes (and I have little interest in the tired posturing and lack of imagination in a lot of mainstream rap), I just still want to be able to bob my head to a song. Chicago rapper Serengeti seems to get this. “Ha-Ha,” one of the tracks from his forthcoming album Family and Friends (out July 19th on Anticon), is a lo-fi jam that mashes a CocoRosie-esque hook and a thumping, laid-back beat with lyrics about a rapper’s metamorphoses after meeting a paint mixer at a hardware store. It’s charmingly strange with a healthy dose of street lurch.

Download Serengeti’s “Ha-Ha” via RCRD LBL.