Thursday, March 11, 2004

Hey, stupid.
TV3 News last night had a news item from the US, with a reporter sitting down with a bedroom musician showing said dumbass reporter a mashup. The tone of the piece was 'lets make this so simple an idiot could understand it', 'cept the reporter ended up sounding like an idiot. 'This is a Mash. Up." Dumbass reporter guy noted that with the widespread availability of easily accessible computer software, anyone can do it, and shock horror, not pay any attention to copyright. What he failed to mention was that people who do mashups generally don't try and release them officially, or make money off them. Thats why they are also known as bootlegs. It aint legal, but its a hell of a lot of fun.
It also made brief mention of the Grey Album, while skipping over the copyright issues raised by the album. It was like watching a teenager trying to explain hiphop to their granddad. Painful.

Heres a profile of some of the remix albums based on the Black Album.

Silver, Brown, Gray: Jay-Z Every Which Way
By JON PARELES, New York Times (requires registration)

Jay-Z didn't just announce his retirement from hip-hop with "The Black Album." He also left a going-away present by making available the unaccompanied raps from all 14 of the album's songs. While other rappers regularly include a cappella raps on their singles, Jay-Z challenged would-be producers to remake the entire album, and they have taken him up on it. More than a dozen versions are just an Internet search away on sites like

...Danger Mouse was by no means the only one to mesh familiar licks with Jay-Z's rhymes.
Here's an assessment, roughly in descending order, of "Black Album" remixes:
DANGER MOUSE PRESENTS "The Grey Album" (file-sharing sites): Recognizable samples and clever juxtapositions start most songs: "Mother Nature's Son" behind the voice of Jay-Z's mother on "Dec. 4." But the pace accelerates through each track, slicing the Beatles ever more microscopically to envelop Jay-Z in a swirl of voices from the past (mostly Paul McCartney) and a rhythmic barrage.
BAZOOKA JOE PRESENTS "The Silver Album (Jay-Z vs. RJD2)" ( The underground hip-hop producer RJD2 didn't actually produce "The Silver Album." But he approved these remixes, which appropriate the burly tracks RJD2 originally produced for Massive Attack, Aceyalone, Cannibal Ox and El-P, built from live-band samples of 1960's soul, 1970's funk, rock and even a snippet of chamber music. Samples of samples: recycling perfected.
PAUL NICE VS. JAY-Z "The Unofficial Black Album Remix" ( Paul Nice has produced the Beastie Boys, and has also put out his own collections of sampled beats for his fellow disc jockeys to reassemble. He keeps the tracks lean and swaggering, turning vintage sounds into streamlined funk.
CHEAP COLOGNE "The Double Black Album" ( An inevitable combination: Jay-Z meets Metallica's black album, the 1991 "Metallica." Metallica's somber power chords and brooding slow arpeggios underline what Jay-Z calls "my pain and my struggle." The Metallica riffs turn Jay-Z into a rocker with a perpetual chip on his shoulder.
MC SCOTTD "The Black Album Hot Buttered Soul Remixes" (file-sharing sites): Here's a producer who doesn't take Jay-Z quite as seriously as the rapper takes himself. In "Encore," where Jay-Z demands applause, the track has Bjork going "Shhh!" MC ScottD is also fond of the wah-wah guitars of blaxploitation soundtracks and of airy Indian vocals, and he turns "Moment of Clarity," Jay-Z's reconciliation with his father, into a confessional ballad.
J-HEN "The Black Album Encore'd" (file-sharing sites): Like a lot of other hip-hop producers, J-Hen knows his 1970's soul; his take on "Encore" revives Sly Stone's "If You Want Me to Stay." But J-Hen has a way of destabilizing the old funk: placing Jay-Z's rhymes against the beat, adding a skewed drumbeat, inserting skips and hesitations, borrowing unlikely samples like a bit of Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells." He raises the tension by shaking Jay-Z's foundation.
ILLMIND "The Black and Tan Album" ( Sparse is the aesthetic for ILLmind's remixes, which set out to do more with less: techno boops, ticking drums, laid-back bass lines, three or four notes from a guitar or keyboard. ILLmind's minimalism makes Jay-Z sound almost nonchalant.
J-STEW Fifteen songs ( J-Stew, a producer from Austin, Tex., aspires to the abstract funk of Timbaland crossed with the stereo ricochets of clubland. He places Jay-Z amid electronic pulses, stuttering drums and brittle dissonances that sometimes challenge Jay-Z to talk his way out of the ruckus.
KNO VS. HOV "The White Albulum" ( Kno, the producer for the CunninLynguists, searches far afield for his samples, borrowing from the Alan Parsons Project and the Brazilian group Os Mutantes. Often using samples with their pitch shifted upwards, he makes the tracks ripple around Jay-Z's voice, lighter than air and slightly vertiginous.
THE BLACK JAYS "The Black Jays Album" ( The Blackjays production team of Kardinal Offishall and Solitair links minimalism to reggae. Its electronic vamps slink along, almost conspiratorially, as if trouble lurks just beyond the clean-lined perimeter.
KEV BROWN "The Brown Album" ( Kev Brown's productions send Jay-Z to a cushy lounge, where electric pianos twinkle and tempos take their time. At times it sounds as if Jay-Z has already retired.
`THE JAY-Z CONSTRUCTION SET' ( Finally, a Jay-Z meta-mix: eight remix albums (including Kno, ILLmind, Danger Mouse, the Blackjays and Kev Brown) downloaded from the Internet, along with Jay-Z's a cappella raps, MP3 files of "The Black Album" and do-it-yourself remix software. It's the makings of countless more mutations.

And the world keeps turning...
George Michael has announced he is to quit the music business.

RIP Spalding Gray.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Banks, out.
Our local boyracer Mayor John Banks has managed to get the ratepayers of Auckland to cough up an interest-free loan of $3.5 million to fund V8 street car races around central Auckland, shutting down Hobson St, Victoria St West, Beaumont St, and Fanshawe St (including motorway on and off ramps there) for five days. Brian Rudman's excellent reporting on the latest Banks flight of fancy is here.
Rudman asks "What has Mayor John Banks got to hide over the V8 street races he wants to inflict on downtown Auckland? Not only are he and his allies refusing to share details with ratepayers, but they are intent on stifling debate among elected councilors.
At last Thursday's confidential meeting of Auckland city's recreation and events committee, attempts to quiz race promoters and council officials for further details were shut down by committee chairman Scottie Milne.
There to babysit Mr Milne was self-confessed former boy-racer Mr Banks - who rarely attends committee meetings - and Deputy Mayor David Hay.
The flavour of the meeting can be gauged by the mayor's quip when councilor Richard Northey sought elaboration about economic and social impacts - "You're never going to agree, Richard, so stop wasting our time with your question."
Questions on economic impacts and whether affected community boards had been consulted - they were not - were ruled out of order."
Rudman quotes Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett, "who said after last Tuesday's gridlock that "today's events added millions to this year's costs [for business]. It is unacceptable ... " That followed one truck breaking down. We are talking five days plus of total street closure here."
Banks seems to be suffering from that peculiar affliction that attacks Auckland Mayors; the burning need to leave a visible imprint of their brief time as head of our city - think
Mills and Britomart, Fletcher and the rejigged Britomart, Tizard and Aotea Centre...

UPDATE I wrote a letter to the Herald about this, and it got published, wonders of wonders, but they did edit out the juicier stuff, like where I talked about John Banks and his monkeyboy David Hay. The Herald doesn't use the term monkeyboy, apparently. Shame.

The NZ Herald flogged Shayne Carter's article from Mysterex magazine and published it on Saturday - its a great read, Carter writing about his high school band Bored Games....

"At the tail end of the 70s the Enemy played our school dance. Chris Knox was the evilest person I'd seen. I was dreading he might come off the stage and tap me on the shoulder. I thought I was punk but inside I was cowering. Thank God they only lasted two songs before school principal Dave Rathbone kicked them off.

This same Dave Rathbone walked out two years running on Bored Games' performances at the Kaikorai Valley High School talent quest. Something about it being too loud.

The first quest was our debut, 1979: I Wanna Be Your Dog and some originals like I. H. For Me (about mentally disabled workshops), Frustration (about frustration) and 15 cos all the punk bands had at least one song with numbers in it and that's what we were. ("I might not be a kid and I might not be a man, but I'm not the little fool that you think that I am, I'm 15 ... ")

We formed a small core at school amid a sea of Kiss-emblazoned satchels and fledgling Marley-ites. KVHS drew on the working-class suburbs of West Dunedin and I came from the worst of all, Brockville. All Mark 3 Zephyrs, solo mums and their snotty-nosed kids and the smell of stew at four o'clock wafting across the neighbourhood. A lower socio-economic area according to our form teacher..."

For the unedited version, buy Mysterex magaizne from Real Groovy (Akl) Slowboat (Wgtn) Galaxy (Chch) Records Records (Dun). Yeah, the Herald used it by permission.

Going bush
I played out at Splore at the weekend, at Waharau Regional Park. It's a stunning venue for a gig, and only an hour out of Auckland. I played early saturday afternoon, under the trees in the Oceania Grove. My hearty congratulations to the organisers on a great event. Here's a review.

Australia was founded by a bunch of criminals says rap artist....
from Rappers Necro & Khia have been banned from being purchased by anyone under the age of 18 in Australia. The Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA) introduced a 4 level censorship guideline 3 years ago. "There really isn't anyone as explicit as me on any level," Necro told "It's not a big deal. My records are still in all the stores. Australia was founded by a bunch of criminals, so who knows what's up with them."

And this story just to hand...
Man Arrested for Assaulting Cookie Monster