Sunday, October 23, 2005

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I bought some mix CDs last weekend up in New York, from some dude who was selling them openly out of a tiny storefront in Chelsea. It got me wondering how this dude stays in business, selling something completely illegal out in the open. Not only him, but also the dudes who are always there by the A-C stop on Canal Street and even the dude who sold bootleg movies out of his Deli on Fordham road close to my college. Do they buy protection from the cops? Do the cops not care? Do they not understand what's going on? The guy in Chelsea was playing the music he was selling pretty loud and hanging out on the sidewalk, enthusiastically greeting people who had already been there a few times like they were old friends. It was almost like he thought he was supposed to be there. Kim's Video in the East Village used to sell mix CDs but they got raided since I left. What did they not do?
Some guy who sold me a Snowman shirt on Greenmount Ave here in B-More said after he saw me a few more times maybe he'd sell me some club CDs or maybe even some rap mixes, but the second time he saw me I guess he'd decided I was a cop and looked up in the air when I asked about CD's saying "No, no, I don't sell that. What is that?" pissed me off, dude thinking I was a cop, especially cause I still don't know where to go to get mixes down here.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

This has been a kind of crazy week for me. I came up to New York to be in a White Stripes video directed by Michel Gondry, the same dude who directed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and the White Stripes video with the legos.
You can check my bro's blog for details on the video - I'm way to tired to type all that shit now. Here are the highlights:

- I met Jack White and took a couple pictures with him on my camera phone. He's bigger than I thought, and more laid back.
- I pissed off Jack White's wife, by asking if she was his wife. It was kind of an introductory question, cause I was gonna ask if they really got married in a canoe on the amazon or whatever. But when I asked if she was his wife, she laughed and turned away from me. I thought she had walked away, so I turned to my brother and was all "That was some cold shit! What am I, a fucking peon?" I don't know if she heard that, but I kinda hope she did, cause I think it's pretty fucked up if some lady who's married to a rich famous guy thinks she's too good to talk to me, even if just to say to mind my biz. I guess on the rare occasions that I meet famous people I prefer to talk to them as equals, hence my blurting out questions and cracking little jokes (I did this for the White Stripes and Michel Gondry, not for Conan O'Brien or George W Bush), but apparently this lady didn't consider me worth talking to.
- I met Meg White. She was really nice, and cute, and quiet. I talked to her a little longer than any of the other famous people.
- I met Conan O'Brien. The one I met was the badass Conan, with a leather jacket and shit, not the guy on your TV who's all cute looking in a suit. He was just like he is on the show in real life, only tougher.
- After I got cut from the video I went to the chiropracter they had in the back for the famous people, and he cracked the shit out of my back. It was great.
- I got a pair of new shoes and a shirt. The tie I wore in the video they took back, and then the White Stripes manager took the hat they had made for my bigass head. This guy was all dressed up (and already had a hat), so when I met him I assumed he was an actor in the video. When I asked him what he was playing he looked confused. Anyway, he said he had a whole box full of red feathers, so I guess he'll take better care of that porkpie hat than I would.
- Fuckin weirdos.

Yeah, it felt a bit funny to see all these people running around creating his video. It's cool to watch something happen as it's being filmed, and then to watch a TV where what you just saw looks like a real music video. and it's funny to see this little snippet of showbiz, where people take this shit and themselves Really Seriously but don't bother paying me and my bro like they said they would. It was filmed a day later than they said and I was only in New York because of Yom Kippur and my school being off. So when it was all over at about 12:30 on thursday night, I went to Penn Station and took a train at 3, got to Penn Station in Baltimore at about 6, took a taxi home to drop my stuff off, ate breakfast, changed my clothes, and got on a bus and went to work friday morning at 7:45. I'm glad I do special ed full time and this type of bizzare shit only when it falls in my lap.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

I went to another K-Swift party at the H&H building. Going to these parties is a lot of fun but they kind of remind me of being a ska fan back around 96-97. Only all the frat boys who were bigger than me and used to annoy the shit out of everybody with their moshing and crowd-surfing have been replaced by these spindly art kids who do the same shit. I literally had to grab some kid by his shoulders and hold him down to stop him from trying to mosh. Come on dude, it's dance music! And then later on some guy tried to get me to take my shirt off, so I could be one of the 4 cool guys sweating on people. I guess I can't talk though, cause when I went last month I got trashed and threw my roomate up on stage to dance.
There was a DJ before her called TitWorth or something, who I guess is like a DC Hollertronix type dude and he was alright.
I'm in New York this week, eating lots of pizza by the slice.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Here's another playlist. This is one that I actually have made, just now, and recorded it onto a 90 minute cassette. But it'd work on a playlist or maybe a CD if you shaved off a song you didn't like and accounted for the time after the last song on each side.

The last mix I made had a kind of a theme that it loosely revolved around, but this one is more out of my old-school Ram Van days, when I would make CD to play for strangers I was driving around that had storylines obvious enough to jump out and bite you on the ass.

1 - Kenny Rogers - "The Gambler" I love starting out with country songs that have storylines, and this is a great one. Guy sits on a night train across the aisle from some drunk dying gambler who imparts some wisdom in the form of gambling advice. "Every gambler knows that the secret to survival / is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep/ cause every hands a winner, and every hands a loser." That basically forms the basis for this whole CD along with almost constant running and moving. The song itself is top notch driving music, with a strong steady beat and guitar picking that comes and goes depending on the gravity of the lyrics. This story and advice are stuck somewhere between wisdom and dejection, and it actually contains great poker advice. In the chorus the gambler warns "You never count your money when you're sitting at the table/ there'll be time enough for counting when the deal is done." I used to play Texas Hold 'em at my apartment every week up in the Bronx, and that shit actually helped me out on my rent once I started knowing what I was doing. And whenever it got down to the last two people, fighting it out over the pot, if my opponent started nervously stacking his chips and counting them, I knew I had already won. Even if he had 5 times as much as I did, and it would take an hour of everybody else being real bored, those chips he was counting were already mine.
2 - Jay-Z - Public Service Announcement (Interlude) The ominous piano line, leading right into a triumphant over-the-top beat with words that can't not be sang along to: "My name is JOVE!" Just Blaze's beat keeps dropping out with the piano coming back and these speeches being read, just shovelling on atmosphere in this track, even more than Kenny Rogers. This is on the Black Album, which is supposed to be Jay-Z's last, so now that he is done I guess he can count his money "check cheddar like a food inspector" and look back. "I used to move snowflakes by the O-Z/ I guess even back then you can call me/ CEO of the R.O.C."
3 - the Rolling Stones - "I Got the Blues" I can't resist putting a great "I miss you" song after the Jay-Z track from his last album, even though the dude is definately not retired. The first time I really listened to this song I was sitting in a computer lab by myself, doing experiments on a virtual rat. This song came in with the wailing horns and thumping beat, plus the sliding up and down the guitar neck shit I like, bending and dragging the notes but never overdoing it. I was jumping in my seat in that lab cause the Stones seemed to take everything I had been thinking about back in the beginning of that semester and spit it out into this perfect song. Mick Jagger prays that the girl who's gone is with a guy who "will bring you alive/ won't drag you down with abuse."
4 - Three 6 Mafia feat. Frazier Boy - "Don't Violate" This song seems to be by the dudes Mick Jagger hoped his girl wouldn't end up with. "If these bitches make you mad put your foot up they ass!/ tell that ho 'Don't violate me, Ho, don't violate me.'" To be fair to these guys, they say "bitch" can refer to male or female, and aside from the chorus above, their rapping just seems to be threatening haters and stuff, not girls. Of course it's fucked up though. Still, the Stones song flows right into this catchy piano beat and this shit's kinda hard not to sing along with.
5 - Nas - "Thief's Theme" Another overblown angry threatening scary track here, only this one's got insane flow instead of yelling. "Leanin on broke down cars with flat tires/ flash iron on anybody tryin on the blocks I'm supplyin' on" Holy shit, this even looks cool written down. Nothing's being celebrated here but there's plenty of bravado. This story is so far going from the two only voices of wisdom being a dead gambler and a guy who went from dealing drugs to making records to being a CEO and supposedely finished with rapping. What are we left with? Dudes who make their money off of more muscle than hustle, scaring and hurting people to make a buck.
6 - the Mountain Goats - "Mole" This is a beautiful song, and especially after the Thief's Theme, it sounds so soft you could blow it over with a feather. I think it's about this dude visiting someone in the hospital who tried to kill himself. You could fit it on this mix either by looking at the shit they rap about in the last two songs being so self-destructive, or just as someone who gets hurt by some fucked up thug. The song's sad as shit and plods along but I think it's hopeful, waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel. "I came to see you up there in intensive care/ out in the desert we'll live care-free."
7 - Kanye West - "Roses" Another song about visiting a hospital, fits in with the same vibe but it's warmer and fuller. Kanye puts a lot of personality into this song, rapping about loving his grandma and waiting with his family by her bedside. "We outside of the emergency room, room, room/ you could feel my heart beat, beat, beat/ if she gon' pull through we gon' find out soon/ but right now she sleep, sleep, sleep" Right here the mix is getting more hopeful again, some more uplifting shit with a happy ending.
8 - Guns 'n Roses - "Sweet Child of Mine" What can I say? I grew up on this shit. It's great, but have you listened recently? Like, do you even remember how awesome this is? Not my favorite G 'n R song but it doesn't flow as clunky as you'd think here. It works right after Kanye's slick production and shit cause it's another song about love and it's on some sunny shit, in a dusty kind of way. At the end, after the guitar solo, it goes from all this "Her hair reminds me of a warm safe place" shit to Axle asking over and over again "Where do we go? Where do we go now?" Totally throws a spin on what the song's about, and it's like the hero in our story wants to live right but doesn't know what the fuck to do.
9 - MIA - "Sunshowers" This is a totally sunny fun bonanza, but it's also a confused song about terrorism. I guess enough has been written about it already, but it fits here cause it bounces around enough to come after G 'n R sounding like it belongs, and cause it's message doesn't know where to go either, except to say that the way we look at this shit has to be updated, we have to keep thinking, keep moving.
10 - Johnny Cash - "I Walk the Line" Johnny Cash learned how to play guitar and sing while he was stationed in Germany, bored, writing home to this girl he met at a skating rink or something. He came home and married her. Then he got signed by Sam Phillips after waiting on the sidewalk for the man to come to the studio one day so he could play him a song on the street, and then proceeded to blow up all over the place along with Jerry Lee Lewis and fucking Elvis. He's still married to this sweetheart and he's suddenly this star on the road, meeting a country singer he'd had a crush on since he was a teenager and all the groupies, plus he's popping uppers just so he can keep up with all the party animals and musical geniuses he's suddenly around. This song is a promise that couldn't be kept. "I keep a close watch on this heart of mine/ I keep my eyes wide open all the time."
11 - Notorious B.I.G. - "Just Playin' (Dreams)" Before the beat even comes in, this ridiculously catchy bassline, Biggie starts rapping "As I sit back, relax/ puff a blut, sip a becks/ think about the sexy singers that I want to sex/ I probably go to jail for fucking Patti LaBelle." I guess this is Biggie's "I walk the line," only he's this married superstar who's airing out his fantasies and at least having fun with the whole thing. The mix has gone in the last few songs from confused good intentions to saying "Fuck it!" "Pimpin' aint's easy but it sure is fun/ when I bust my nuts I bust 'em one by one/ so what's the 4-1-1, hon?/ Dreams of fuckin and R 'n B bitch"
12 - Sublime - "Garden Grove" This song doesn't stand up as well after Biggie and Johnny Cash as it does by itself, but I still love it. What's the reason this dude's head isn't up in the clouds, inhaling and exhaling love and good will? "It's you! it's that shit stuck under my shoe." The song lists a couple dozen little things that piss off the singer and turns him into this bitter dude that he doesn't want to be. The little dinky dub noises or whatever at the end go a little long, but I don't mind because this is the end of side 1.
13 - Outkast - "Return of the 'G'" If Garden Grove is about what pisses off pothead skater kids in Southern California, this song is on some apocolyptic shit about what makes a society fall apart. The beat is think and scary and slow. Back then Andre had this crazy stream of consciousness rap, like he had too much shit to say to have any time to pause. "It's the return of the gangsta/ thanks ta them niggas that got them kids that got enough to buy albums but not enough to bounce them kids to the zoo or to the park so they grow up in the dark/ never seein' light till they end up being like your sorry ass/ robbin niggas in broad-ass daylight, get down!"
14 - the Game - "Put You on the Game" After our song about why the gangsta is back, here goes the Game rapping about the west coast being back. Whatever you think about thugged out rap or even the Game's ability as a rapper, this shit sounds great. When Timbaland drops the percussion and Game goes "My Unit is the realer/ fuck with my la familia, I will kill ya/ I know that boy not familiar/ but you got to feel him if the doctor sealed 'em/ [impossibly deep voice] Is Compton in the house?" This syrupy beat feels natural as hell after the Outkast song and flows right into the next track like they were next of kin.
15 - No Lay - "Unorthdox Daughter" This multilayered Grime beat comes in one element at a time so there's already a buildup going on before No Lay goes "How these boys gonna chat about berreta/ when you never had a metal tucked unda your sweata?'" One bar in, this shit is already amazing and it just keeps going as this pissed off menacing chick with a totally out of control flow keeps going and going. 10 times hungrier than the Game.
16-18 - Rod Lee - "Dance My Pain away", DJ Lil' Jay - "Down the Hill (Rod Lee Remix)", Blaq Starr & Rod Lee - "Get Yo Handz Up" Usually I don't put more than one song by the same guy on a mix, but it's hard to only put on one club track at a time. These are all of Rod Lee Volume 5, but they're basically one Rod Lee song, and then two songs by other producers that he mixed into his own CD (I don't know if "Get Yo Handz Up" was a collaboration or what), which is the way these mixes work. All these songs were probably most of the mixes this summer. Anyway, they all mix into each other so they don't sound like 3 separate songs anyway. The first one might be the most written-about-by-crackers Club Music song ever, where Rod Lee is evicted, laid off, and now dancing his pain away. The "Down the Hill Song" is a bit more typical, with the beat building up, dropping off, building up, it's like a fidgity masterpiece. Calls out the names of neighboorhoods in Baltimore, starting off with Greenmount, which is an Avenue 3 blocks away from where I live and where I buy my groceries. Hey! At the end, the way the gun blasts and shattering glass become the pounding heart behind the song makes the whole fucking track. I only put in the first 30 seconds or so of "Get Yo Handz Up," long enough to hear the incredibly awesome riff and shouted beat, but not long enough for the song to get totally repetitive. Usually, 5 or 6 minutes of club music is plenty unless you're dancing. I cut out during a brief fraction of a second of silence after the DJ says something. The way the club part of the mix works is that it's dance music like the No Lay song, but you know from the "Dance My Pain Away" that the hard lyrics and shit are just for dancing to, and it's really music that's keeping the hero of the mix's mind off his problems.
19 - Geto Boys - "Nothin' to Show" This isn't a towering monster of a song like "Get Yo Handz Up," but it's so slick that it stands up to it. These old rap legends are still here, and they're spitting out wisdom like Kenny Roger's gambler. Scarface - "They say the first law of nature is self preservation/ fuck a playstation, my bills don't vacation." and Willie D "Fuck the fame, I want the dough/ cause when times get drastic/ you can't take a fucking ego to the bank and cash it." This shit sounds thugged out but still grounded, less about making a point than bragging.
20 - Bob Dylan - "Bob Dylan's Blues" I love dropping country sounding shit in the middle of some hip hop. The Geto Boys sound hazy and this shit sounds mysterious. Here Dylan is dripping amazing notes off his guitar and almost going off on incredible tangents, you can feel them come and go, but he just keeps stumbling through this great and unique blues song. Lyrics bring us right back to where we started from, and right up to where we're going in this mix, too. "I been gambling so long lord, I ain't go much more to lose/ right now I'm having trouble, please don't take away my highway shoes/ well I'm bound to get lucky/ or I'm bound to die trying."
21 - Beanie Siegel feat. Cam'Ron - "Wanted (On the Run)" The Bon Jovi sample they use in this sounds like the Dylan song's redneck uncle. Fucking great. Beanie raps about "wakin up in cold sweats piss scared with the rumblings" and sounds totally paranoid and mad. This dude doesn't have to pretend any of this either. My brother actually happened to write a great post about him today, so read it. I think he's another rapper like the Game or Young Jeezy who's personality overshadows his actual verbal skills to the point that you just wanna hear what he's got to say. Which is all good, especially cause Cam'Ron comes in and kills the beat.
22 - The Clash - "I Fought the Law" This is a cover song of some kinda rockabilly song that the Clash ride in on rolling thunder. Listening to this shit you'll wonder how punk got so fucking lame. The music stops in the middle except for a drum pounding gunshots as Joe Strummer yells "Robbin people with a 6 gun! ... I fought the law, and the law won." Now, I guess this song and the next won are kind of like two alternative endings, like a choose your own adventure book or a video game.
23 - Young Jeezy - "Go Crazy" I used the version with just Jeezy, not the remix cause we already used Jay-Z. The much more subdued drumroll and horns beat flows with the Clash song and chills it out just a little bit, cause Jeezy's the one who got out of a life of crime on time! Remember? When to walk away, when to run? "It's kinda hard to stay drug-free/ when Georgia power won't give a nigga lights free/ switched hustles, been killin them ever since" The Clash should've listened to Jay-Z I guess. These songs aren't really then ending though, I guess they're paranoid dreams or hopeful dreams that Beanie's having, cause our mix keeps going.
24 - Otis Redding - "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" This song reminds me of my own life, especially when I'm sitting down drinking coffee in Fells Point, looking at the tankers in the Harbor and the Domino Sugar sign. Moving down to Baltimore from New York, like Otis sings about moving from Georgia to the Frisco Bay, here I am in a place where I don't know that many people and there doesn't seem to be the much going on. It's all familiar from my childhood but nothing like what I'm used to. The city I was born in, where people think I'm a New Yorker because of the way I talk. This is our mix leaving behind the whole life behind it, all the shit it loved and hated about what it knew and looking for a new horizon, not knowing what to make of it once it got there. I'm not bellyaching and I like it here, but it's different. Otis sings all these sad lyrics, but he's whistling a happy tune.
25 - Eric B. & Rakim - On the back of this album there's a picture of some gang from Ft. Greene who were friends with Eric B. & Rakim, and one of the dudes is the original 50 Cent. Some stickup kid who coined the phrase "Get Rich or Die Trying" (maybe not, look at the Dylan song) and ended up getting killed in his early 20s. Rakim raps about how he used to be a stickup kid, but "now I learned to earn cause I'm righteous/I feel great, so maybe I might just/ search for a 9-to-5/ if I strive, then maybe I can stay alive." This song makes me feel great too. I didn't used to be a stickup kid, obviously, but here I am with my first 9-to-5, and plus I'm sitting at my stereo with a pen and a paper listening to Eric B & Rakim and a whole bunch of other stuff.

Monday, October 03, 2005

So, is Baltimore the cool place to film a video now? After being blown away by the 'lil Mo video a couple days ago, I turn on MTV today and I see Boyz in the Hood with their video where Young Jeezy is beefing with Cutty from the Wire! What? "I'm a east-side resider." Well, I work on the east side, shit, that's cool man. And what's on after that? Akon and Young Jeezy, tryin to take it easy? Not filmed in Baltimore, but they've been turning out some cool videos in the last month.

On the "Soul Survivor" video, the censors edit out "the law" on the part where Akon goes "If you're looking for me you could find me on the block, disobeyin' the law!" I mean, come on. Aside from being totally annoying, do you think there could be any better way to force your teenage kids to go out and buy this music than making if impossible to hear the shit on the radio or TV? It makes sense to edit some stuff, but it's no secret these dudes are breaking the law. What's next, are you gonna ban that Hair Metal song where the guy's like "I can't drive 55!"?

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Holy shit! Have you seen the "Dem Boys" video? I finally have cable after a month of no TV, and I'm watching MTV, and I see that smokestack by 95 that says "Baltimore" on it. No way! Good song too.

The new Three Six Mafia is all menacing and shit "There ain't no bitch in my blood, nigga, it's nothin but thug/ I knock the black off yo' ass! I knock the black off yo' ass!" This would be good music to have on hand if you were going to some pre-arranged fight like you were in middle school or something. Other than that, I mean, I can't really see myself putting this on while I eat my breakfast, or while I'm driving cause I'd probably get road rage and try to kill someone with my car.