Saturday, February 28, 2009

BOMP! is official

If there were any doubts whether the inaugural BOMP! Vol. 0.0 last month had a fluke debut, they were answered last night with another packed crowd.  And what a crowd!  It was a beautifully diverse group of Minneap party-rockers enjoying the music and the deejays.

Founders Wes Winship and Shannon Blowtorch hit the tables early on, followed up by heavy-hitter and Cryphy King, Jimmy 2 Times.  The headliner of the night was a DJ that I was previously not familiar with: Dirty Finger.  Dude hails from BK and holds it down on stages with the likes of Jazzy Jeff, Juiceboxxx, Ninjasonik, and Spank Rock.  And he definitely held it down last night.  It was great to get a New York native's take on the new dance scene.  He brought some usual B'more jams (thank goodness, because I've invested a lot of vinyl into the genre).  But he definitely had some nutso remixes of white-boy-party-rock, some seriously cheesy old-school melodies from the 'jock jam' era that actually worked, and my favorite was some unknown indie rock that caught the crowd a little off guard initially.  They warmed right up to it, though.

I loved his mixing style.  He doesn't quickly transition tracks within 8-bars by fading in and then fading out (the standard style).  Instead, he brings in the next track as a certified layer to the current one and lets it ride for maybe a full verse.  This definitely takes a great ear and understanding of the music.  I've never seen or heard that style.  Very cool.

The evening in pictures (many got chopped - click to view full image):


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Brother Ali Getting Bigger (not in size; in taste)

Ever since Brother Ali's sophomore album The Truth, dude has been getting a lot of well-deserved national exposure.  Despite his amazingly poetic lyrics, incredibly unique and precise flow, and a voice that can even hold a melody, I never thought his music would be as far-reaching as it has become.  He's been in some major magazine interviews, on national television, and featured on tracks with some serious emcees (and held his own I must add on every one including the Freeway joint that was no small feat).  As I was paging through the latest Source I noticed another track that he's featured on that I was unaware of.

Ali's last 8 bars are beautiful.  It was a great choice and gesture to break the beat down for his last 4 bars: "What is it about you that you/ have to capture that which you cannot master??/  If you can't grasp it you attack it/ trap it, slam it in a cage and latch it. /Everyday that you hold me in bars/ is another day I can't teach your soul to soar./  Here both of us are, linked to the song,/ and when you hear a caged bird - sing along!"

Zion I feat. Brother Ali, "Caged Bird (Pt. 1)"

Based on the title alone, I was half-expecting to hear Slug throw down on verse three.

Here's a throwback (2000) Ali joint that's more lighthearted. It can be found on DJ Abilities' ...for persons with dj abilities (much more on this king of the turntables later, especially since he also reps for Minneap)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

New Release Tuesdays

It's that time of the week and... and...
... nothing dropped that I wanted to cop. Instead, I decided to share the last track that entered my iTunes. This is a throwback Wu-Tang banger with all of the essentials: Method Man spitting the hook, a soulful doo-wop vocal sample with Raekwon and Ghost laying it down "like ceramic tile." I don't know much about this track. It might be found off of The Chef's forthcoming "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt. 2." Considering the ease with which you can find it online, this could just be a morsel shared to whet the appetite of a delayed release date. I'll still pick up the album if this and the rest of the "leaked" tracks make the album. This is certified.

This is also a good time to introduce my weekly hip-hop night at the Dinkytowner.  Every Tuesday I play the latest hip-hop and indie all night (9-2am).  I dubbed the night "New Release Tuesdays."  Come on out and release your early-week stresses with new music (if something hot dropped Tuesday, you can bet I'm spinning it), free pool and 2-4-1's that all goes down on Tuesday.  Get it?  I'll get a mix up soon enough to give you an idea of how the mixing is going down.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Get Rhythm, Minnehappiness!

As I toasted my bread on a frying pan this morning I had a hankering for some Cash.  Not the green stuff, though that would be satisfying too.  Nope, I'm talking about the late, great storyteller Johnny Cash.  This one is for all my Minnehap brethren scraping away who have been affected by this nasty economy.

"He stopped once to wipe the sweat away.  I said, "You're mighty little boy to be working that way." He said, "I like it," with a big wide grin - kept on poppin' and he said again, "Get rhythm!" [when you get the blues]

My personal favorite... this is why he is one of the greatest American storytellers:

Minnehappiness, Minnesnowta

We had been spoiled with warm temps this last week (read: 40's) and most of the snow had melted.  Even veteran Minnesnowtans were starting to think that Spring was around the corner.  Ha!  I should have reminded them that March is the snowiest month of the year (no matter how many warm spells we get towards the end of February).  We got a fresh batch of snow over night.  It may cause slow driving and some headaches but it can't be denied that it beautifies the surroundings.  It makes dealing with highs in the single-digits almost bearable.

Dollar Crate Special: Diane Schuur

I hadn't heard of Diane Schuur until my girlfriend and I saw her at the historic Blue Note in NYC about a year ago.  Before she even stepped on stage her positive energy radiated through the quaint club.  She cracked some jokes and made light of her reliance on a guide to help her on stage (due to her lack of sight).  I've never seen a picture of her where she isn't wholeheartedly smiling.  If you never saw her, you can still hear her smiling in her music.  In most of her songs she is able to put a happy twist on even a somber song.

I found both of these albums in the Dollar Crates of an Uptown record store.  Half of "Deedles" is unfortunately poppy.  The rest is her sweet spot: jazz.  Her range is vast and her mind is musically sharp which makes for beautifully fun jazz.  She often does a give-and-take play with other musicians.  A perfect example is her scatting on "It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing".  She matches notes with the sax so well.  This song is her element.  I also included a download for her "New York State of Mind" because it is the standout track on "Deedles".  Schuur can tackle many different types of songs, but I actually feel she falls short on nailing "NY" because she lacks the swagger that the instrumentation and subject calls for (Nas got it).  I still love this song, though, because 1) I have a soft spot for the Big Apple and 2) the jazziness she brings to certain parts of the song are unique interpretations.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mux Mool Is EPIC

If I had to describe Mux Mool's music in one word, that's what it would be: epic.  I love his style.  Most electronic producers don't pay attention to the detail, but Mux Mool does (listen for the back beat @ 1:36 on "Night Court" as well as the sexy gasp @ 2:36).  He used to live in Minneapolis.  I don't know much about him, but I'm going to go ahead and claim this producto-genius and artist for Minneapolis.  He got too big for the Mini Apple and moved on to bigger things in the Big Apple.  I say good for him, though our music-scape now flies a little lower.


epic (drawing by Mux Mool)
epic (drawing by Mux Mool)
not epic (drawing by yours truly)

Dre Day Recap

After a romantic dinner and evening with the missus we got our West Coast on. I buttoned the top button on my Crypt-blue flannel, threw on my blank navy cap, and walked into the night with my locs on.

The evening started off with some classic jams spun by the jack of all trades, Mike the 2600 King. It then moved on to everybody's favorite game, The $20 Sack Pyramid. Quasi-celeb contestant, Medium Zach of Big Quarters fame, and his lady-friend made it up the pyramid. They won some swag including a stolen in-dash car CD player.

The live performances didn't disappoint as both Trama and Muja Messiah held their own rapping their own joints over classic Dre beats or even going toe to toe with the West's best by covering iconic jams. Prior to this evening, I hadn't been impressed by Trama. Either I saw him in a different light or he's just been working on his game because he came with it. He had the basics down with an excellent stage presence, delivery and flow. He even converted me from hating Twin City gangster rap. He dropped a couple of gun-slanging tracks from his catalog and had me on the edge of every bar.

Nothing needs to be said about Muja Messiah. Dude's been getting it popping up on the national level. So if you don't know, just know this: this is the guy who's going to help make Twin City hardcore and gangster rap legit. Oh, and he's also going to be picking up the other half of the ladies that haven't already been won over by Slug.

I've seen Carnage (usually accompanied by the lovely and talented Desdamona) in every type of venue imaginable. Even when there's literally two people on the dance floor Carnage brings a bunch of energy. But I'm sure he was amped by the crowd, the celebration, and most likely all of the 40's he was being fed on stage. Carnage brought the ruckus. He rapped and beatboxed his arse off. A couple of times he was outdoing Mike cutting up and bringing in instrumentals. Carnage's beat box is so on point that when he was beat boxing a Dre joint I couldn't tell whether the DJ was bringing in the instrumental or if his mouth and throat were in the zone. Much love to the kindest, realest, talented and most multi-faceted emcee I've ever seen. (check the pic I snapped where it damn-near looks like God comes down to speak to Carnage)

What made the night truly special was the venue and the atmosphere created by the decorations. Everything was a tribute to Dre and West Coast rap: the brown-bagged 40's with Dre screen printed on them, the cannibus chandelier, the $20 Sack Pyramid, the 70's-style fridge that spewed cold ice when opened revealing a stack full of 40's for the performers, the knock-off Daytons, host Espada decked out in Snoopy-style-over-the-top-pimpin host outfit... It all fit. In general, the Varsity Theater is an AMAZING venue with plenty of room and mind-on-my-money-laaaaaaaid back decor. Last, but probably the most important, the sound system was on point. Everything was crystal clear. Often, when I go to a concert of an artist I'm not intimately familiar with, I can't make out their words for the life of me... especially at hip-hop shows. And vocals are that much more important at hip-hop shows given the repetitive nature of the instruments and the sheer volume and poetic nature of the words. This struck me at the end of the show and I looked around and saw... a seemingly brand new Mackie soundsystem. I'm sure the sound man helped perfect the sound, but I've come to appreciate Mackie's ability to make very precise-sounding speakers. I personally have their top-of-the-line studio monitors and have used their powered-PA speakers for DJ gigs. I have not come across another pair of monitors or PA's that sound as clear. Note to club owners... I'd be willing to pay a premium to see an artist at your venue if you have a good sound set up!


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Saturday's Record Show at the VFW

My homie Tommy and I got to the Record Show at a decent time on Saturday morning and it was already PACKED!  The more record shows I go to the more diverse the crowd seems to get.  There were dirty old guys copping 8-tracks and badly-dubbed VHS cassettes, eccentric music fiends dropping three hundo on a 45, teenage up-and-coming producers (I see you Bold Illin diggin' over my shoulder in the next crate grabbing that Guru single!), hippies, hermits and all.  Oh, and a couple dudes were definitely high off the ganja.  I don't care how musty thousands of records make the room, you can't mask that.

With a potential layoff looming this coming Thursday I had to hold myself back at the Record Show on Friday.  I succeeded in not going crazy and dropping all of the cash in my wallet.  With such a busy I haven't had a chance to listen to all of the records I picked up.  But from what I have listened to I would say that I ended up with some quality records, but none that blew my mind.

Kalyan is one of the many records that I've picked up knowing nothing about it except for what was on the back cover and the artwork.  It lived up to my expectations.  They are a group from Trinidad who defied a simple genre-description.  With their mix of disco, boogie, island, and reggae they helped to create a brand new genre that encompasses many of these elements called "soca".  Each track has a different vibe to it, though everything is obviously heavily influenced by the island.  This is one of my favorite tracks.  It's a straight instrumental groover with simple, background vocals.

I'm a sucker for remixes, especially ones found on an EP full of remixes without a common theme.  There's a couple terrible remixes on here but there's two that stand out.  Both flip the original feeling of the track, and bring out different elements in the lyrics and vocals.

I'm not a huge fan of Jurassic 5, but I could listen to this remix of their breakout single all day.  I'm struggling to describe the instrumental sound of Jurassic 5, but it's definitely not soulful and laid back.  That's exactly what this remix brings to Jay Five.

I was a little hesitant to listen to this Outkast remix because they are so original and on point that it's hard to either improve upon their originals and portray them in a relevant, new light.  I was pleasantly surprised that this remix brings something completely different to the track.  Gone is the happy-go-lucky nature of the song.  It's replaced by an eerie backdrop.  There's a serious bassline that really sets the mood but what really knocks this remix out of the park are the slightly off, echoey handclaps.  I loved the detail that went into this beat.  It makes me listen to the lyrics in a completely different way which is what a good remix should do.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Because why? Just b.cause...

I've become a huge fan of DJ B.Cause in the last 24 hours.  His edits are very simple but so carefully chosen that they border on genius.  If he were a painter, he would be a "Sumi-e" artist where the perfectly chosen brush stroke and shading can make the viewer feel something completely unique.

Some of the vocals that he's chosen are so ingrained in pop culture that it will be hard for many to shed the instrumental they know and hear the new song he creates.  For instance, Sean Paul's "Get Busy" is impossible to hear without the 808 and Jamaican flavor.  After a couple of listens of Sean Paul over Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings' track "How Long" (do yourself a favor and experience the late 60's "dap" re-interpreted to perfection) the lyrics actually start to seem sophisticated :).  But I can't argue with any track that has the Daptones rocking it.

The "Rock With You" edit is brilliant because of the juxtaposition of such a modern, after-hours house track with essentially an 80's R&B club banger.  What really makes this work are the proper levels between the instrumentals and MJ.  At first I thought his voice was too quiet, but once I got into the groove I understood why.  It's absolutely perfect for that 3am lounge soundtrack (not that we have any of those in Minneap).

I have NO idea where this instrumental comes from for the Wale edit.  I don't care to research it because I much rather listen to one of my favorite emcee's over and over again.

One of my guilty pleasures is Shawty Lo's "They Know".  You best believe I bought the 12" single the moment it hit stores.  I LOVES THIS TRACK.  This blend breathes fresh air into a track I've listened to WAY too many times.  It turns it from a club banger into a vibe track for the spot (hello New Release Tuesday nights at the Dinkytowner!).

Who can argue against one of the best tracks from the dirty south blended with a beat from the best producer in the north?  Crushin' (Yeeeeeeeeeeeah!)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

New Michael Jackson (and dare I say better than the original?!?!)

I've mentioned this in a previous post, but it's worth mentioning again: I get A LOT of music and I get it often.  The volume of music that hits my ears is such that I rarely listen to a song more than once.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy most of the music I pick up.  But my new criteria for epic songs is whether I listen to it more than once.

More context:

I also take pride in the digging I've done to find new and rare tracks.  I'm selfish and like to not only keep the jewels to myself (so I can brag when I drop them in a DJ set) but I also keep the source of them a secret, too.

But this track was too good to not share with the world.  It's a demo version of MJ's "Pretty Young Thing" very tastefully edited by one of my favorite cut/paste/remix DJ's, U-Tern.

This is so friggin' smoooooooooooooooooooooooooooth it blows my mind.  The intro of the song is great with some carefree laughing from MJ back when beautiful music was his claim to fame.  And who knew that cowbells could be so tastefully used in an R&B track?  This has had me singing...
...for the last couple of days.  No matter my mood I've found myself jumping back to this repeatedly.  Enjoy!

Evidence, "For Whom the Bell Tolls" video

^ One of the best hip-hop albums of 2007.  In constant rotation ^

"For Whom the Bell Tolls" off of the Layover EP (but leaked well before) is one of my favorite hip-hop tracks of 2008 and now finally has a well-produced video.  I love the ghost effects in this. Phonte kills the first verse. Blu looks straight LA with his locs on.



To hear this track mixed in with the rest of the best hip-hop tracks of 2008, peep my mix:

In The Mix

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


You thought I had some free downloads for Miss Arular? Or maybe you thought she got thrown in jail? Nope. But the Minneapolis Institute of Arts had a free "family day" on Sunday and there was some great art.

Art music: