Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Here's my review, suckas.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

The Jimmy Jamma's got a review in the upcoming City Paper. Look for it wednesday, it's gonna be big.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

It's been too long, but here's side B of Caught in a Trap.

1 Nas - Ether - The last song on the first side was a track where Jay-Z disses Nas, so here's the response. This song is years old and the feud is dead so there's no reason to summarize all the insults and puns (like "Gay-Z and cock-a-fella records"). My bro wrote a post a while back saying that 50 might be the George Bush of Hip Hop and Jay-Z the Bill Clinton - if so, then on this track Nas sounds like JFK resurrected or some shit. "Burner at the side of your dome/ come out of my throne/ I got this locked since '91/ I am the truest/ name a rapper that/ I ain't influenced" ... "What's sad is I love you cause you're my brother/ you traded your soul for riches." Jay was making fun of Nas for not having been a real big time drug dealer and all that, so as well as fucking with the mythic image of Sean Carter before he started rapping "in '88, you was getting chased through your building," Nas defends his status as an influential rapper, no at some hustler-turned-rapper. I think that's like, cool and shit.

2 Elvis Presley - "Suspicious Minds" - This is probably one of those songs that you don't really know or even remember that you love. Like some oldie they'd play on a Burger King commercial that you wish you knew what it was called so you can download it. Elvis gets a lot of hate these days, especially in rap, for having stolen black culture and stuff. Dude really played music his own way though, and if you listen to the right songs you realize why he will always be the king. Anyway, after all these dis tracks we gotta have a makeup song in here, and it ties in with Nas's claim in the last song that he still loves Jay. "We're caught in a trap/ I can't walk out/ because I love you so much baaaaby." This chorus is totally beautiful and what else can I say? This is later than most of the Elvis stuff I like so it doesn't sound too rockabilly or even rock 'n roll, just a great, totally middle-of-the-road song.

3 Petey Pablo - "Let's Roc" - This song doesn't flow with Suspicious Minds, but it sounds even better coming out of nowhere. Harmonica and banjo thrown onto a spare beat that sounds epic when they're taken off and locked down in a way that kinda similar stuff on Bubba Sparxxx's Deliverance album wasn't when they're there. Petey sounds great growlin' out rhymes about being proud of who you are and where you come from, yelling out weird shit like a more grown up Lil' Wayne. "I gotta hear you say it/ 'Petey Pab Mothafucka!'/ That's right baby/ two scoops of raisins/ half man and half amazing."

4 Surfjan Stevens - "Chicago" - This song I guess is about being ashamed and/or remorseful about your life. "I was in love with a place/ in my mind, in my mind/ I made a lot of mistakes/ in my mind, in my mind." It's a really pretty song, totally over the top and overblown in a completely different way than "Let's Roc," with a gospel choir at the end rounding it off as being so triumphant as a piece of music that it feels more like dusting yourself off than really being self-pitying or regretful like the lyrics come off as by themselves.

5 Johnny Cash - "Give My Love to Rose" - I really like crushingly sad country story songs for some reason, and this one is right up there. The narrator comes across a guy dying in the road who's been on his way back from jail to see his wife and meet his boy. He asks the guy telling the story to give his love to his wife. What I really like about this song is the mystery of it - why was he in jail, and what is he dying of? There's a few versions of this song; I used the one off American IV cause the one he recorded as a young man has a little less gravity to it. Johnny Cash is probably the exception to this, but it seems like country is the most hated form of music out there as well as being one of the most popular. It's fucked up that our country is so polarized not only by politics, region, class, and race but also by art and culture. When people are surprised that I listen to country music I guess it's cause they can't see past their stereotypes of the people who sing and listen to it. But country definately has something to say and its own voice, and if you want your music to speak to you in all facets of your life you gotta have a diverse musical taste, you know? In terms of the story here and the point I'm trying to make, the next song fits right on top of it.

6 Lil' Wayne - "Shooter" - This here is Weezy planting his flag on the moon, taking hip hop to a new place. The beat is the story of a bank robbery in progress, starting out with shit about waving around a shotgun, ending with screaming sirens and all the while Lil' Wayne is ad libbing along stuff like "they want me to surrender, but not, I can't do it!" and occasionally rapping about some totally other shit - being region hated. This song (like the Surfjan Stevens one) has been written about a lot by my bro, not much else I can say that he hasn't already.

7 Young Jeezy - "TRAPSTAR" - This is the shit you play driving over the Verrazano on your way back to New York to finally get your fucking Futon out of your friend's basement in Queens and bring that shit back down south so you can finally sit and watch TV, cause you're feeling pretty good and proud of yourself. "I'm so materialistic/ so well connected/ just ask about me/ so well respected" So much bravado! Epic booming horn shit, almost on a Rod Lee level, slamming the door shut on the maybe overdone countryass embellishments that have maybe been a bit overused on this half of the mix.

8 Otis Redding - "Champagne and Wine" - Otis Redding covered songs by Sam Cooke and the Rolling Stones, wrote "Respect", recorded in a studio with an integrated set of musicians, and apparently wrote "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" after he listened to Abbey Road or maybe Sgt. Pepper. I don't think he's as well known as he should be, but oh well. Here he is singing a sweet love song over top of catchy and totally not pretentious or ironic horns with a piano and guitar flowing together like nooks and crannies. One lyric jumps out at me: "You've got me eating out the palm of your hand/ I don't mind eating, long as you feed me/ good love and good old sympathy."

9 The Rolling Stones - "Dead Flowers" - The stones might or might not have been the greatest Rock 'n Roll band in history (they're probably not anymore), but they had one weird drugged out bluegrass album called "Beggar's Banquet" and a couple wannabe country albums like "Let it Bleed" and to a certain extent "Sticky Fingers," which is what this comes off of. It almost sounds like a sequel to "Suspicious Minds," only now they love still the girl after she's left. I like the ambiguity here, like in the Johnny Cash song. The girl seems to have left him but might be dead, cause Mick Jagger keeps promising no matter how many dead flowers she sends him, by the mail or to his wedding, he'll still put roses on her grave.

10 - Big & Rich - "I Pray for You" - The new album isn't like "Horse of a Different Color" in that it doesn't start out with a promise to break down barriers between different musical genres. There's no rapping black cowboy or singles they're going to play on ads for poker tournaments. Still though, songs like this remind you that the best thing about them might not even be all that, it might just be the harmonies these dudes sing together with the down to earth and courageous lyrics. "When you're gone I miss you so much I do the only thing I can do/ I pray for you." These guys are also among the few and the proud who can sing La La La La La, La La La La La La La and not sound totally stupid.

11 - Cam'Ron - "Harlem Streets" - This song first jumped out at me after I noticed the line in the chorus "my life's based upon what I'm gonna do this year." Listening closer to all the babbling, it sounds like a stream of consciousness as Cam sits on the roof of his apartment building watching a sunset, thinking about leaving his life behind so he can try to do something new, something great, and realizing no matter what happens he'll still be the same person. The beat also stands alone on Purple Haze as like a low-key doodle by Surfjan Stevens and Kanye West.

Sorry it took me so long to get this shit out. I doubt if anybody actually makes this into a mix, but if you do, it fits right on a 90 minute tape. If you use an iPod you should probably stick "Boondocks" by Little Big Time right before the Petey Pablo song. I'd have put that on here but I bought that album after I made this tape. If you know me, and you want Caught in a Trap, just ask.