Today is an exceptionally beautiful spring day in South East Michigan – the kind of day that reminds you why anyone would ever tolerate winter. The kind of day that makes you praise almighty for sundresses. The kind of day that makes me want ice cream, even though I’m lactose intolerant. The kind of day that makes you want to listen to some incredibly soulful reggae.
John Holt has the kind of sweet voice that makes me want to throw around words like earnest, earthy and robust. For me, John is up there with Alton Ellis as the Marvin & Stevie of Kingston, and I could listen to him sing the damn phone book. Fortunately, these songs aren’t just a list of names and numbers, they are about (and I’m quoting the liner notes here) “the changing times,” and “reveal John’s inner emotions.” That’s putting it subtly, but that’s what Holt does best. Spotty grammar aside, I can’t disagree with Tommy Cowan when he concludes his copy with: “This album I am sure will please the many John Holt fans as it did me.” Word.
Its funny, usually all I want to talk about/ write about is old stuff, but I haven’t been doing that as much on this site. Maybe thats just cause RKBGS just screams modernity, or maybe its cause I haven’t been buying a ton of LP’s and have thusly had to resort to the internet to get my kicks. Who cares! Let’s go back…
To the future! Pete Drake slang a steel guitar like no one that’s come before or since. A Nashville session ace, he went platinum with the song above, and the chock-fulla talk-box LP it’s from: Pete Drake and His Talking Steel Guitar. That’s not how I heard of him though, it was his portamenti pickin’ on All Things Must Pass, that first caused my Beatlephile friends and I to lust after an Electraharp. An endorsement from George is enough for me, but Ringo, Elvis and Bob Dylan also tapped him for his services, as well as everyone else at the Grand Ole Opry. He good.
I long ago stopped really caring about the actual lyrical content of most of the music I listen to, which is why it was so weird for me to stand next to Robert Wells (A2 soul club 45 mayor and my spanish 101 teacher) at a party, listening to one of his killer latin records and realizing he could understand all the words. Not understanding, not agreeing -- doesn’t have anything to do with not appreciating, and if that’s a double negative than maybe that’s the point. Either way, it seems like half the music I listen to is either in another language (xhosa, portugese, jazz to name a few…) or comes from a place I can’t directly identify with, but love anyway (the hood, mariah carey, england, etc).
Plus, sometimes it’s just interesting to hear people talk (rap, whatever). “O Let’s Do It” is Waka Flocka Flame’s biggest radio hit, which I was hearing all the time in New York City despite it being so full of Georgia regional slang that I doubt a bro from Lon Gisland could understand every third word. Personally, I get lost on the general thematic arc of this “song” around the time he starts betting more money than I make in three months on a roll of the dice. Even if “scared money don’t make no money” definitely makes sense, it takes him turning “Oh let’s do it” into “ole douehhh” to pull me back in.
Maybe this video is a better example; I can enjoy listening to the syllables flow by without even being tempted to decipher them. I mean, even just watching the mc’s deliver their verses its hard to deny Southern rappers tend to have the most personality. doesanyofthismakesense?
Anyway, other items of note about Waka Flocka Flame:
-real name Joaquin Malphurs (sweet)
-is actually 3 months younger than me, which, along with a few other things we have in common, makes me think we could hang out
-except he’s been shot at thee times in the last 3 months, so maybe that’s a bad idea.
-look how many (visible) phones OJ da Juiceman has on his person in the picture at the top. kids these days!
-also, i love where rappers are going with their names, a+ guys
Man, I am so jazzed for tomorrow Ann Arbor Film Festival happenings that I can barely contain myself. Flying Lotus, ne Stephen Ellison, is debuting his live score to Harry Smith’s classic Heaven and Earth Magic at the Michigan Theater, then Flylo + Chicago weirdo’s Mahjongg and my main man Forest Juziuk are bringing the after party to the Blind Pig.
(still from Heaven and Earth Magic)
It’s been a few years since I first heard Flying Lotus, and back then it was a happy accident. I’d gone to see a friend, (the supremely talented) Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, lead an orchestra at a tribute to Alice Coltrane, at Los Angeles’ Asian-American museum -- and their performance was followed by a live set from Flying Lotus -- who happens to be Alice’s nephew. Like just about everyone else whose heard his cosmic future sounds, I was blown away. I’m at somewhat of a loss for words to describe Flylo’s unique appeal, but this is the internet, so I can just post an mp3 instead of getting all wordy:
ps. Mahjongg is pretty cool too.
Like David Byrne, I am constantly asking myself “How did I get here?” and as usual “here” is not my beautiful house.
This is Susie’s beautiful house. She is an analog girl, with excellent taste and a nose for thrift. After only five consultations I’ve settled on her as my personal doctor for life, and she’s apparently decided to also be my sugar mama for the next however many weeks that I am living in her place while she’s off purifying herself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka.
In part because of Susie’s kindness and in part because the world works in mysterious ways, I’ve really been feeling on the power of women recently; basically if I was a girl I’d surely be a lesbian. Part of it has to do with all the pretty girls I know, and part of it has to do with all the pretty music girls I don’t know have been making. Take for instance, The Suzan:
The Suzan is a rad punk-esque party band from Japan, and though I’m not totally down with the “z,” (Susan solidarity) I’m totally down with this jam. Apparently they are making quite the impression at SXSW, which gol’darnit one of these years I will attend. With girls. hopefully.
This 17 year old Tampa babe apparently has some connections to Yo Majesty, who I admire on paper and sometimes on youtube, but can’t really listen to. This song, on the other hand, I can play again and again even though I’m laid up with a sickness. Maybe because I’m laid up with a sickness. That beat is a sickness. Sickness.
My pal Borna dug up this old gem earlier this week in between carbonating sriracha, making up words and spray-painting beer bottles chrome so we could shoot them with a bb gun (looking like terrorists) on a Brooklyn rooftop at 6am. They just don’t make ‘em like this anymore.
Rad Brooklyn band Sleigh Bells is out on the road right now with Major Lazer and Yeasayer, so they seem to be building quite the buzz in anticipation of their debut LP. I don’t read many music blogs, but if they were in the NY Times, I’m sure they’ve already been hyped to death. They deserve it, these are some serious next level jams. Dates at their myspace, mp-free’s at stereogum, don’t sleep.
I threw this together when I was down in the Splice offices in Baltimore, but since I’ve been talking up this type of music a lot recently, I thought I’d re-post it over here:
The other day my mom said she heard something about New Orleans Bounce on NPR and that she was really into it. It sort of blew my mind that not only was NPR able to find 30 seconds of bounce they could play on the radio, but that my mother of all people was expressing interest in hearing more. After she asked a few times to burn her a mix, I had to put my foot down. “You won’t like it,” I said. She replied, “Why not?” Because it’s the most explicit music you could imagine Mom, and I am not burning you a CD that contains the phrase “It must be the pussy cause it ain’t your face” more than 50 times. That led to her asking me what specifically was the appeal of Bounce music, which I’ve thought about long and hard, and have failed to come up with anything but vague revelations like people who love the music they are making tend to be more fun to listen to, and New Orleans is the weirdest, most tragic, and best place in the world.
As evidenced by the “New Orleans” that comes in front of the genre nom “Bounce,” the dance/music style is fiercely regional and has only recently gained enough national traction (was it the Super Bowl?) to make its way into Suburban New Jersey mom-consciousness. It’s been around for a while though, at least 15 years, which is an eternity for such a specific descendant of hip hop to keep essentially the same sound—which is basically call and response chants about sexual maneuvers and different wards chopped up over warp speed Windows 98 beats. I don’t think I have the perspective to explain why this is relevant, but Bounce also happens to be the only type of rap that has openly gay and transsexual MCs. In fact, my holy trinity of Bounce—Katey Redd, Big Freedia and Sissy Nobby—proudly self identify as sissy rappers and yet they are beloved by tough dudes like Juvenile. I guess an ass is an ass and a hot sausage poboy is a hot sausage poboy.
Anyway, I make no apologies for the content of any of these songs or videos, but be forewarned that they are certainly not safe for work, children or any place where you are expected to not be dancing. Also, I can’t be expected to rank these, I love them all too much.
Jimi C—Where They At?
This is considered by a lot of people to be the original Bounce song, or at least the first one people can agree about. It’s extremely tame compared with what I’m about to post, but it’s the template.
Da Chaotic Shakaz—Hammertime
This tune shares the same beat as the last song in this column, as is common, which makes attribution pretty difficult. In fact Bounce artists not only share beats, but also many of the lyrics are repeated, regardless of origin. This video also does a good job introducing you to the dancing style also known as New Orleans Bounce, and alerting you to exactly how much fun you never knew you could have in a Home Depot. EDIT: Video is now private, whuuuuut?! This was my favorite video, and its gone. Here’s just the song instead.
Sissy Nobby shaking it in his bedroom
Still feeling it, Mom? I feel like low production quality is an important aesthetic in bounce, but honestly these rappers are just poor and that’s kind of patronizing. It does explain how a crew like Da Chaotic Shakaz can operate (and make videos) like they are a skate crew.
JaVockah Redu—Blame it On the Alcohol
Not surprisingly, a lot of these artists were displaced by Hurricane Katrina and ended up in Houston where Bounce subsequently caught on. Redu is one of the artists that brought it there, and is one of the best at bringing in samples from the larger world of radio rap while keeping it really real.
Big Freedia—Azz Everywhere
It’s important to note that Big Freedia, like a lot of these artists, perform every single night at parties all over New Orleans, and that all these artists are part of the same small scene. It probably happens occasionally, but I haven’t heard of any beefs in the community—that would probably happen if more money was at stake, but its also a testament to the fact these musicians are making this stuff cause they genuinely love it.
Gotti Boy Chris—Dip Low
I could see something like this somewhat crossing over to the mainstream, but I don’t think a pure bounce song is ever going to get played on Top 40 radio. Its influence is definitely felt more subtly—like Rihanna repeating “Where dey at?” or some of Lil Jon’s crunk beats. Also, this is the only bounce video I’ve ever seen that is not 100 percent ass shaking—like someone said in the comments, “looks like someone’s trying to get on B.E.T.”
Juvenile—Back That Ass Up
This is about as close as it ever got, but I guess there’s still a chance Bounce can blow up. I’d love to see these artists be able to tour nationally and actually move units, but unfortunately I’m not in charge of these things.
Monster With Da Fade—Lil Hot Sausage Roast Beef Remix
You can’t deny that someone who wholeheartedly reps New Orleans’ sandwiches has a lot of pride. Maybe this afternoon I’ll take a cue and rep Philly accordingly. I’m going to buy some sandwiches, maybe even a roast beef one in tribute to this video but definitely a hoagie or Turkey Gobbler with cranberry sauce and gravy if I can find a Wawa in Baltimore.