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The Black N Gold by Wale, better than Sparro’s?

with a few hilarious Seinfeld samples.

Sam Sparro’s “Black and Gold” was the theme song of my travels throughout the UK – “Area Codes” by Ludacris was a close second (inside story). So when I heard Wale was doing a remix of the song, I had to take a listen.

At first I was skeptical of a rap artist remixing an electro-R&B song (or whatever the hell genre it is). But after listening to it a couple times, it does a good job of taking the original and carrying its own, not just simply rapping over the same beat. It may not be as good as Sam Sparro’s, but it’s still worth mention.

As for the rest of the album, it’s got some decent tracks and I’m starting to dig Wale’s flow, but none of them stood out like “The Black N Gold”. Other than the remix of “Black & Gold”, the best thing about the album was its Seinfeld samples, fucking hilarious – check out the full album to catch these.

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Baby, I Love Your Way (Live) by Peter Frampton

Know Good Classics - #5 (Rock)

I’ve been lacking in the classic rock listening lately, so I thought I’d feature one of my favorite love songs. Maybe this will rekindle my interest in good ol’ rock.

With classic rock songs, usually the live version is better than the recorded – I think the crowd brings out the passion in the musician. Frampton’s lyrics in “Baby, I Love Your Way” may be simple, but that’s what makes it so sweet. The song gets me all mushy every time I listen to it. Hell, it makes me wanna be Frampton’s baby… for the song. I wouldn’t go as far as saying this is the best love song of all time, but it’s in the top two (Atmosphere reference) – at least the live version is. What’s your favorite love song

A funny/random side note – at around 40 seconds in, he sings, “far away from the city”. Every time I hear him say “city”, it sounds like he’s saying “shitty”; kinda like the owner of City Wok (Shitty Wok) from South Park (the Chinese dude). I get a good chuckle every time I listen to it.

* If you’re interested, here are the other Know Good Classics… here.

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Get Low by Nuttin’ But Stringz

Hip-hop strings just may be my thing.

Nuttin’ But Stringz was nuttin’ like I expected. About a year or two back, someone had posted up on a forum about a rap duo who played violins. I love when hip-hop brings on classic instrumentals; strings just sound so good with a baseline and an MC that can flow.

Unfortunately, the duo didn’t stack up as I had hoped. Their use of the violin is definitely their strong point, but anything past that just seemed second-rate. Fortunately, I managed to pull a song that’s good for a party mix, which I didn’t expect from a group that’s highlighted for their violin playing – let’s just say I expected more of a classical vibe.

The duo seems to be leaning towards pop – just saw them on Dancing with the Stars (on a YouTube clip) – but their talent for the strings will hopefully push them back into the art sometime in the future.

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Picking a Lock at the Speed of Light

by These Modern Socks - Minneapolis Fucking Rocks!

I’ve been so obsessed with SOLID GOLD lately that I’ve started to listen to their opening acts – or anything else from Minneapolis. These Modern Socks’s style may not be my usual preference, but then again neither is SOLID GOLD.

Picking a Lock at the Speed of Light, These Modern Socks’s latest album, didn’t seem like anything special at first – none of the songs hit the spot, and I really wasn’t use to their style. But before giving up on these guys, a song caught my ear. “To NASA” seemed to be more rich in electronic instruments than the previous songs, which is what got me into current indie rock in the first place (i.e. SOLID GOLD), so I decided to listen to the album one more time through – usually it takes me a couple plays through [...]

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Blazing Arrow by Blackalicious

Phonetical finesse, funk filled with status.

I haven’t heard anything that breakthrough in hip-hop lately, so I thought I’d dig through my collection and find something noteworthy. Blackalicious, along with the rest of the Quannum crew, were a main reason for my first interests in hip-hop. Their West Coast, laid-back vibes made me rethink what hip-hop was all about. Nia may have had some killer tracks, but Blazing Arrow created a vibe that marked the Blackalicious sound.

Blazing Arrow may not be the most acclaimed album of its time, but it had a strong following and pushed hip-hop forward across The Bay. Gift of Gab put out some cunningly crafted rhymes, but without the backup of Chief Xcels beats, his words wouldn’t have flowed so freely. I put up some of the best from the album, but its entirety is well worth a listen.

If you’ve got anything fresh that reminds you of these two, post it up in the comments below.

On a side note, in case some of you’ve notice my site has been down for a couple of days. I’ve resolved the issue with my host and hopefully this shit doesn’t happen again. It was a pain in the ass, and I’m hopin’ for some smooth sailin’, at least for a while.

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Spilling Over Every Side by Pretty Lights

It's Derek Vincent Smith, it's gonna be good.

I wonder what people from past generations would think of music nowadays I don’t mean lyrically, but the actual sound. Take Pretty Lights for example – Derek Vincent Smith’s use of traditional instruments are only a small portion of his entire sound set.

Smith’s use of untraditional beats has set him, and many other electronic musicians, apart from conventional music. His newest album, Spilling Over Every Side, the second EP of his 2010 trilogy, is a step in a new direction, although not a leap forward from his previous work. The most noticeable difference is each song’s length, topping at close to nine minutes on “High School Art Class”. I’m not sure I prefer the lengthiness, but as he points out, there’s a “sort of dimension flip” occurring in each song.

In a document included with Spilling Over Every Side, Smith points out that he’s tried to incorporate different genres into his work, “transitioning between something pretty and organic to something heavy and electro”. Although this may be true, I don’t see Smith pushing forward and building from his previous work – it’s more of a side step. I’m sure if I was out hitting up one of his shows, this would be some awe-inspiring shit, but I expect his albums to be on the highest levels, only because I respect his craft so much.

Despite all my criticisms, it’s still phenomenally fresh, especially compared to countless other electronic albums I’ve heard over the past few months. I’ve been a big fan of his for a while, and with this latest addition, Pretty Lights continues to impress meh.

As always, you can hit up his site, PrettyLightsMusic.com, and head over to the downloads section to pick up this, and any of his other albums. Just make sure to give back the love if you enjoy his tunes – I just got a t-shirt form his store and it’s quality. Or go to the North Coast Festival this upcoming Labor Day weekend, and show him some support. Plus you might see me there (if you’re so lucky).

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Made Like Us by Paper Tiger of Doomtree

It's no Doomtree, but it's still Minnesota nice.

What the hell’s a Doomtree anyway My guess is it’s got something to do with the Tree of Life, maybe its arch enemy!… maybe not. Doomtree is a collective consisting of a mix of MC’s and DJ/producers from Minneapolis, including Paper Tiger. I’ve been following Doomtree ever since I heard “Flex” – check it, guaranteed like. And now for the second time, one of the group members has created a solo project – Paper Tiger’s Made Like Us.

My first thoughts after listening to Made Like Us was that it’s got some killer beats and vocals, namely Dessa, but why not include some of the MC’s I’ve come to love with Paper Tiger’s beats A recent interview with Paper Tiger at Sunset in the Rearview brought up this very question. Apparently he wanted to go solo on this one and make it all his own. Now the question is if he pulled it off… (I’d say so)

Question: On the last track of the album, “Cigana” has about half a minute of silence in the middle – why is it that on some albums the last track has a silent part towards the middle or at the end The first person who can answer this for me will get entered into the contest we’re holding next month- I really want to know!

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Massive Attack Rmx & Magical World by Bassnectar

Pretty Lights on Acid.

Helllooo, sexy! I haven’t been this titillated by a song since Pretty Lights. Hell, I haven’t been titillated by a song ever… and I’ll try never to be again.

I’ve been listening to Bassnectar for a few months now, but didn’t get into him past the occasional blackout session – he never seemed to sound as good when sober. Well, after coming across these two over the past month, and sober at that, I’m hooked. Both blow me away every time I listen to ‘em, wasted or sober. I’ve never wanted to go to a concert so much and get completely obliterated. And Bassnectar plays in Minneapolis on Halloween, could it get any better than that… well, if he played here sooner, but whatever.

So I’m wondering which of the two do you like better I go back and fourth, but the “Massive Attack Remix” is on repeat at the moment.

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Honest Expression by Binary Star

Yea, yea we know how shitty mainstream is, let's move on...

Came across Binary Star while testing out a three-day trial of MOG. I’m not so sure about MOG’s fees – can’t justify $10 a month to use on the iPhone, but it’s got some promising features.

Anyway, I was pretty impressed by Binary Star’s “Honest Expression”, so I decided to check out the rest of their album, Masters of the Universe. It’s got a few standout tracks, and the rest of the album is better than most of the shit I’ve heard lately.

What I love about these guys is their witty lines laid out throughout the album. Although some aren’t so politically correct, “Rodney King ain’t never felt a beat like this”, it’s refreshing to hear some uncensored music.

What I don’t love is their obvious hate of mainstream, money hungry rappers. I’ve come across a few different talented MC’s who spend too much time hatin’ on the mainstream. Although I completely agree with ‘em, it’s not something I really give a shit about. Leave a track for that and move on, they’re many more pressing issues to cover.

Other than that these guys have got something and hopefully will ignite another album soon. Though it’s been 10 years since their last LP, so I wouldn’t count on it. But I’ll make sure y’all are the first to know, just follow me on Twitter… or Facebook… or my RSS Feed… ;D

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It’s the Chemicals by Inspired Flight (feat. Scarub)

Collaboration is Innovation

Music that isn’t easily classified, is so, usually because it pushes the boundaries of its genre, leaking into every other. When I first heard Inspired Flight’s “It’s the Chemicals”, I thought it was an electronic song; then after about a minute or so I realized that it had some hip-hop elements, as well; and finally, I heard some alt rock. Well, after listening to it a few dozen times more I’m still just as clueless on classifying it, but I guess that’s the case when a group pulls from different genres through the use of electron equipment.

Electronic instruments have given us the power to utilize instruments that were once too difficult and tiresome to learn. Now we can mesh up a range of instruments to create something that would’ve taken many hours and musicians to achieve. Yea, some say it’s just being lazy and blah, blah, blah (see Copyright Criminals), but this doesn’t consider everything. It may be easier, but it allows the artist to create without the limitations of knowing every instrument.

In the end it all comes down to what is produced. Art isn’t necessarily about method, but what the final outcome is. You wouldn’t fault photographers for not creating everything in their lens, just like you wouldn’t fault DJ’s for not creating every beat. Yes, there is a limit to the extent of sampling you do off of someone else’s work, but it’s not set in stone. As Newton put it, “if I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants” – we are all just building off of our predecessors. The key is to build up, push the boundaries of a genre, and create something new.

Someone help me out on where to put this (what genre), I’m leaning towards electronica now…

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