Friday, November 09, 2007

Yo! haven't posted for a couple months, but here's a new mixtape

This one's kind of a departure. I try to keep a certain continuity on my mixes where I don't use the same songs on more than one, at least that I'd write about. I also try not to use the same artist twice and I keep them to about an hour. The difference on this one is that it's chronological a-la High Fidelity. So it's a bunch of songs that have been like theme songs for me at different times of my life. This one was actually a lot of fun to make, especially just to look back and say "what the hell was I listening to in sophomore year of college." One thing I do continue with is trying to have the songs tell their own narrative on top of my own reminiscing.

1 - Outkast - "Humble Mumble" - Not to start out too heavy handed, but this is the song I put on when I came home after going downtown on 9/11. I had just lived in England for a year after High School and came to New York as this wide-eyed, bushy tailed kid, not exactly expecting to come face to face with devestation and hatred. This was one of my favorite songs when I was living in England, but it took on another level of meaning for me when I came home and sat in my dorm room. The chorus goes "Humble as a mumble/ in the jungle of shout and screams/ that's the way the cracker crumbles/ so I guess I'll have to reroute my dreams." It helped me keep my head above water that September. I'm sure everybody had their own song for the same reason then. I remember that Destiny's Child song "Survivor" was huge then, and I also loved that Outkast song about 9/11, "The Whole World."

2 - The White Stripes - "The Same Boy You've Always Known" - This was my favorite song way before I was ever in one of their videos and Jack White called my brother "some actor asshole." The lyrics are I guess about a breakup/ get back together situation, but I just liked it for the way this dude can carry a tune on just a few notes. It does get heavy at times, but this little whiff of reverb keeps the song from getting workhorse like some of their stuff.

3 - Mississippi Fred McDowell - "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" - It's embarrassing that this guy has to stick the name of the state he lived in so that hippies would snatch his shit up on some novelty workingman/nature worship paternalistic impulse back in the 70s, cause his music speaks for itself. He's a master of slide guitar, and actually forms the backbone of this song on a ridiculous amount of sliding and polyrhythmic fingerpicking. It's music for blues nerds first and foremost, but this is one of his more accessible songs.

4 - Johnny Cash - "Hurt" - I loved this as a Nine Inch Nails song, but I think Johnny Cash owned it. I like the way he changes "crown of shit" to "crown of thorns," cause he censors it but also changes the meaning and emphasizes what he's talking about in a totally different way. By the way, I swear not all the music I listened to in the first couple years of college was mad depressing.

5 - The Streets - "Could Well Be In" - I bought this album right when I moved to the Bronx. Living there actually is a great backdrop for the Streets, cause it can be gray and really colorful and vibrant at the same time. This dude is also from the part of England I had been living in. It was crazy to hear a popstar speaking in this think Brummy accent, cause over there this accent is universally laughed and more than any other. I think he blew up right after I left. On a side note, my boss's kid's half-brother's friends apparently sued Mike Skinner for stealing lyrics from them for his first album. True Story. This song jumped out at me cause I'm really a cheeseball at heart and this is unapologetically sappy without being weird.

6 - Big & Rich - "Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)" - This is a fun song. A whole lot of elements come together that should be a complete mess, but for a minute these guys had tapped into enough tongue in cheek, self aware personality to make this work. I'll always remember driving this big 15 passenger van full of drunk kids and puke into Manhattan one night, cause that's what I did for a living, and the kids next to me totally geeked out when we turned onto Broadway just when they were singing about driving down Broadway.

7 - Rolling Stones - "I Got the Blues" - I had been hugely into the blues at one point, but by the beginning of Senior Year I really wasn't anymore This song jumped out at me as more of an homage to a style of music than an actual example of it. I remember listening to it on headphones while I conducted an experiment on a virtual rat in a computer lab and mentally devouring the random organ solo on this song.

8 - Kanye West - "School Spirit" - Still my favorite Kanye song, bar none. It's really thick, which is something dude has been getting better at, but this one still has that old soul music vibe. He was rapping about hating being in college, and by senior year, I hated college too, so there you go. What I like about his song is it complains about something but is still fun and sunny, kind of like the Voodoo Glow Skulls singing about jocks. That would definitely be on the prequel to this mix.

9 - M.I.A. - "Amazon (Diplo Mix)" - This is the song off the remix, with Ciara's "Goodies" beat over top of the vocals that had different music on Arular. I loved those first few Ciara singles, and I was all over that Piracy Funds Terrorism mix, so here I am killing 2 birds with one stone. I wish Diplo had left a Petey Pablo verse on this, but I guess it wouldn't have made any sense.

10 - Clipse - "Definition of a Roller" - I don't even really know the name of this song or who's song it actually is, but it's the one after the last song on Piracy Funds Terrorism. I didn't even really notice this track at first, until one time when I was listening real close to my headphones on the Chinatown Bus. This song's beat is actually creepy and desolate like the first half of Soul Food, but these guys rap with so much focus they bury it.

11 - Notorious BIG - "Things Done Changed" - "Back in the day our parents used to take care of us/ look at 'em now/ they even fucking scared of us/ calling the city for help because they can't maintain/ damn shit's done changed." I've said it before, but I wish I had known about all this awesome mid 90s rap back when it was coming out. I don't know why it took me this long to get into Biggie, but whatever. What can I even say about this song?

12 - Jay-Z - "It's Hot (Some Like It Hot)" I kept going back and buying up classic albums I had missed after I got out of college, and I remember living in the copycat building in Baltimore when I got obsessed with this song. I had busted windows and crackhead roomates, but this song oozed precision. I guess I haven't been paying enough attention to the themes discussed on these songs, but this one's easy cause it's just straight up shit talking. I guess at this time I was doing big things and setting myself up for better stuff to come, but the way I was doing it was by living in squalor for a minute so I could save some money for later. It worked out really well for me, and it was helpful to have this slick assurance in the midst of an off kilter minimal beat.

13 - 'Lil Wayne - "Oh No" - As soon as I heard this song, I loved it. The beat actually reminded me of that one Moby album, which would probably make the prequel too. There was something something in my bro's blog the other day about how 50 says 'Lil Wayne doesn't really make good songs even though he can rap. I guess part of what's great about Wayne is that he doesn't need choruses and hooks and bridges and stuff - he can do that, but here he just raps for 3 minutes straight. He's done some really good stuff like that on mixtapes lately, showing everybody that he can rap on all kinds of beats and whatever, but I still like him best when he's on some bass heavy, humid shit like this. "while you pussy n*ggas is sleepin/ I'm thinkin/ deep in thought/ the boy ain't even winkin'/ Bob Marley got me stinkin'/ stacking figures/ I'm standing firm/ life's a slinky."

14 - Otis Redding - "That's How Strong My Love Is" - This song immediately evokes warmth, which has obviously been missing from the last few songs. There are a few Otis songs I could've put on here but I think this one's my favorite. This is the type of shit where you come home from work, it's 104 degrees outside and you don't have air conditioning, and it's humid as shit cause it's Baltimore, and you just sink into your vinyl couch and become one with it to the point that you know you'll make a velcro sound when you stand up, this stuff will put you straight into a blissful sleep.

15 - Rolling Stones - "Moonlight Mile" - This is a song about how things never stop changing. It's not really a celebration or a lament - as far as that goes it's like it's flat. It kind of reminds me of "Oh Me." It's really orchestral though, and the ending goes a little long. It's actually the end of an era for the stones, really the last song on their last good album.

16 - Little Big Town - "Boondocks" - This is out of chronology a little bit as far as the story of my life goes, but it fits in well with the tape. I reviewed the album for the City Paper, but the only way I knew about them was hitting seek on the New Jersey turnpike one time and stumbling onto it. That was when I started really liking country radio when I was driving, so it's a shame that there's no country station in New York. This is just a standard country pride anthem, but it's funky and happy.

17 - Rodney Atkins - "If You're Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows You're There)" - This song is kinda dumb, but I like it. It's a great example of how country music has become arena rock but has also kept being country. If this song was a drink it'd be a Sparxxx.

18 - Waylon Jennings - "Are You Sure Hank Done it This Way" - This is just a thumping beat, 2 chords, and a lot of reverb as far as music goes, but Waylon totally wraps his voice around it. "Lord it's the same old tune/ fiddle and guitar/ where do we take it from here?" This song's all about looking for a change in direction but not knowing where to go.

19 - Bob Dylan - "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" - This song is night and day from the Waylon song before it musically, but they're ultimately talking about the same thing. One's disillusioned with the country scene, the other the folk scene, and they're both being hated for wanting to do something different. This is one of the last songs on Dylan's last album before he went totally electric. People were mad at Dylan for changing, which probably made him more determined to change than any other one thing, but it's too bad because he always actually was better at being acoustic. He could carry a rhythm and a tune and not become a huge sloppy mess like he does no Highway 61. He had a way of smacking one particular note even when he was playing a chord which nobody else does.

20 - The White Stripes - "You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You're Told)" - Dunno why so many of these songs have parenthesis, I swear it's not a theme. Right before the bridge in this song, you hear Jack White yell "Hey!" Not into the microphone or anything, it's hard to pick up - you get the impression from this guy that he still loves what he's doing, and he's almost surprised how well he's doing. It's like he's passed 300 on a streak in Guitar Hero and just finished a Star Power. The thing about him is that unlike Dylan, he's able to reign in his electric guitar to the point that he can still be staccato if he wants to be, and he has this great hollow, dry sound. It only works if it's aired out by some dead space and overreaching vocals, but he works all that together here. Plus it's just a catchy song.

21 - U.G.K. Featuring Outkast - "International Player's Anthem" - I really doubt anyone reads this who doesn't also read my bro's blog, so I'm sure you've read enough about this song. Had a nice moment with this song at his wedding, singing along with Andre's part and dancing to the rest. Outkast is still one of my favorite bands ever, and they're hit or miss now, but it always sounds great to listen to them let loose.

22 - Born With It featuring B.O.B. - "Stack My Paper Up" - This song is great. Too bad it'll never really come out. It's sentimental about money, and not ironic or assholic about it at all. One guy says "drill like Michael Jordan do" - I think it's not just about having money or even getting money, but working for it. This is the type of shit you listen to on the subway before dawn on your way to work. More than that Rodney Atkins song, it's motivational on a gut level.

So anyway, there you go. This was fun to write, I hope it was fun to read. if my computer didn't suck I'd post some of these.


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