Friday, March 04, 2005
My radio, believe me, I like it loud.
Bill Adler started out as a radio DJ and music critic before landing up at Def Jam/Rush Management as their publicist in 1984. He left in 1990, and has since then has worked at Island Records, founded his own PR firm, created a record label, and in 1998-2000 he curated the hiphop exhibit at Seattle's Experience Music Project, which led him to turn his personal office into the Eyejammie Fine Arts Gallery.
I've been reading a great interview with Adler in the latest issue of Wax Poetics magazine; there's photos of Adler with 3Rd Bass, LL Cool J and Fab Five Freddy, all sorts of cats. The gallery has had exhibitions like Riddim Driven: A 25th Birthday Salute to VP Records and Dancehall Reggae, URBAN BLIGHT - The Graffiti Photographs of Ernie Paniccioli, WORK IT! Images of Women in Hip Hop, and It's Like That: 20 Years of RUN-DMC-JMJ.
He talks about what's next for the gallery. "What's delightful and surprising to me is that people are now coming to Eyejammie with great ideas that I myself would never have thought of... there's a local painter named Jackson Brown who grew up in the southeast. He dreamt up a show with the working title The Heroes of Hiphop that will feature about a dozen life-sized oil portraits of some of the culture's greatest movers and shakers." Check the exhibition link below.
He's also released the first Eyejammie book, a postcard book of photos by Ricky Powell.
"Bill Adler's Eyejammie Gallery hosts 'til April 2nd Follow The Leader: Portraits Of The Hip-Hop Avant-Garde. If you can't make it down here's a preview". Via Spine magazine.
(Image above: graffiti stencil in Toronto).
Latest M.I.A. news... Billboard reports she's jumped labels. "Hotly tipped U.K. rapper M.I.A. has signed with Interscope Records, which will release her debut album, "Arular," by mid-April in the United States, sources tell Billboard.com.
"Arular" was initially due to come out Feb. 22 on XL Recordings, but the London-based label pulled the album less than a week before street date. XL, part of Beggars Group, claimed that the release was delayed due to a failure to clear unspecified samples. As of last week, XL was saying the album would be out in mid-March.
Beggars CEO Lesley Bleakley did not return a call for comment.
The Sri Lankan-born M.I.A., who raps over dancehall-inspired electronica, has been the subject of much industry attention the past few months. Her debut single, "Galang," has sold 800 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
The artist has a handful of tour dates on tap this month, beginning March 15 in Seattle. She is also confirmed to appear on the second day (May 1) of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, California."
Coolfer has comments on the press she's been getting in the Village Voice... "M.I.A. Gets Poked, Prodded and Hyped. One article in the Village Voice makes for good publicity. Two simultaneous articles means the there's enough buzz on the street to merit a higher word count. Three? It's a mark reached by very few musicians, and it takes a combination of music aptitude, political importance and pop culture fascination to get three articles in the same issue. (Courtney Love scored the hat trick not long ago, but nobody else comes to mind.)"
End of the Century
The Ramones doco End of the Century returns from the Film Festival shortly, starting a run at the Rialto here in Auckland. Meanwhile, the DVD is out in the US soon... "Yesterday, Ice Magazine's Daily News Flash talked about the Ramones' documentary, End of the Century, that will be released on DVD in two weeks (by Rhino). I'll quote the most important part:
"Among the bonus features making their debut in the DVD are excerpts from a Joey Ramone radio interview, a deleted scene featuring Blondie drummer Clem Burke as 'Elvis Ramone' and interview excerpts from all Ramones. Also featured are extended portions of interview from Debbie Harry and Chris Stein and Joe Strummer, as well as Marky Ramone demonstrating his drum technique and Tommy Ramone explaining "Who Wrote What on the First Three Albums.'" Via Coolfer. There's also extra footage from the interview with Joe Strummer, one of the last ones he did.
AK05 is hitting it all over AK town - check out Transistor, free show in Aotea Square this friday/saturday/sunday, with performances from heaps of cats - the Feelstyle, Goldenhorse, the Nudie Suits, all sorts. More info here, plus running times.
I caught DJ T-Rock (from San Francisco) on the turntables on wednesday lunchtime in Aotea Square - it's not often you go on your lunch break and end up listening to a cat spinning tunes and cutting up Run DMC, the Monkees , The Jacksons and the Rolling Stones. He even rocked Joan Jett's 'I love rock n roll'. You can see him playing after Goldenhorse on sunday night.
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos
There's a bunch of interesting reporting on the hiphop blogosphere on this event - "The Making Of Public Enemy's It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back - An indepth discussion event on the making of hip-hop's greatest album."
Via Different kitchen- "...Engineer Chris Shaw recalled how they set up a phone in a separate room to record Flavor's phone call parts on "Black Steel" but that he went on so long that Hank Shocklee ran into the room to try and cut him off and he shouted, "Hank, don't stop me" which ended up on the record.
The It Takes a Nation of Millions album cost only $40,000 to record (while, by comparison, Yo! Bum Rush the Show cost an even more modest $12,000), while Lyor & Russell had gotten a $225,000 advance from Columbia for it, which meant the album was already way in the black by time the 50,000 retail pre-orders came in."
Via Rio Rock... The NYU seminar on the significance of the Public Enemy album “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back” this past weekend was one of those great ideas that actually fulfilled it’s promise. It rekindled the feelings of that ecstatic moment in time that the album ‘created’ (not, necessarily, ‘captured’).
I was only able to attend a few of the events (Friday’s screening and ‘Critics Panel’ and Saturday’s ‘Producer Panel’). Other blogs will likely have more complete accounting of the events judging from early posts on the subject so I will focus on a few comments that hit me center-mass."
"Link to full-size image. Incredible gallery of early hip-hop flyers. Page takes forever to load, all of the images (dozens of 'em) are slapped on one endless static page. But what an amazing collection! Link to image gallery" (via Boingboing)
Check out Steady Bootleggin - great MP3 blog currently hitting it with "Great Soundtracks To Awful Movies".
RIP Phil Fuemana.
Monday, February 28, 2005
The March issue of Metro features an article on Radio 95Bfm and the increasingly stiff competition it is facing from low power FM stations like Base FM.
"The rise and rise of the low power radio station is putting pressure on the original alternative radio source, bFM. Simon Farrell-Green charts the battle for listeners, advertising dollars - and credibility".
Slave and Otis Frizzell, the breakfast show hosts on Base (and ex BFMers) say that the station is doing well (an estimated 10,500 listeners) saying that "we're big at the prison" - Otis. "That's on two watts of funk and hiphop power. If we had a bigger frequency, it would be game ovaaa" - Slave.
"Look beyond the loopiness of Bfm's commercials, and you'll find a sophisticated media organisation with 17 full-time staff. Many are now wondering whether its anti-mainstream badge has simply become a market position" Article is called "All other radio stations are sh*t?"
Having some inside knowledge of both stations (as a former Bfm DJ of 8 years standing, and as a Basefm dj for the past year), I think the article does a good job, scratching the surface of what must be an annoying irritation for Bfm - that they no longer have a clear-cut monopoly on media irreverance in the Auckland radio scene. It's still a vital station, but the sands are shifting.
OSCARS LIVE: check the Oscars site, click on Video, and they are playing a live feed from the Oscars Press Room backstage, very entertaining. SF Chronicle updates results live too.
UPDATE: via Stuff.co.nz: "New Zealand's Taika Waititi misses out for Two Cars, One Night but should win an award for best nominee reaction shot when he pretended he was asleep when they said his name."
(Via No rock n roll fun) "The following has been puttering around online today; it's interesting reading, as it appears to be a genuine 'i quit' from a member of staff at Warners:
Today is my last day of working for the Warner Music Group after five years of hard work for very little recognition and a an absolutely laughable salary, considering that the Warners group used to be one of the mightiest record labels in the world and has one of the greatest unexploited catalogues left in the business. However since your acquisition of the Warner Music Group last year there is probably more exchange of information of what is actually happening at any level in this company than at a deaf, dumb and blind convention.
We understand that you took on a huge task to turn around the ailing, forgotten division of AOL Time Warner, but informing the already morale-drained staff (via a third party) that the bonuses that the top five executives took individually equal more than 20 times my total lifetime salaried income (assuming I started at 18 and retired at 60), is somewhat more than insensitive. If you want to make us feel like maggots., you succeeded.
Paul-Rene Albertini gets paid $4 MILLION in total ?? Hello !!! ? The only deals we are all aware of have all LOST money. Walt Disney Records? unrecoupable - it's still more than $15 million in the hole. Milan Records ? A French turkey. Need I go on? What deals has this guy done that actually MADE money? Lyor Cohen - to give his due, he did what he did at Def Jam, hope it works out for Warners.
He should do ..at $5 MILLION. A nice lifestyle guaranteed.
Rhino Records? Since the new order was imposed, Rhino, once the envy of every record company catalogue division has been DECIMATED. Everyone of any value and integrity has been sacked and the catalogue is being whored out to every tin pot reissue cowboy label. We understand you need the money, but only having eyes on the short-term, easy money is not very STRATEGIC
$50,000 license fees for heritage artist repertoire? Big deal, Rhino records as was, would convert that into $500,000 onto our own bottom line. As you are well aware, catalogue assets are going to become BIG business in the next 10 years (quite distinct from digital downloads).
We should be investing more time , money and MANPOWER to exploit the best catalogue repertoire in the world, not starving it into oblivion for the sake of a short-term buck.
From the vicious rumour-mill that has replaced hard fact in this company, we know that Warner is either being leaned down for sale or set for taking over another three-letter-named label (EMI), with the inevitable blood-bath that will follow. I am saddened that I am leaving.
Music is my life; but I am also relieved that I get to leave the company before everyone I know and value for their knowledge, dedication and love of music gets shuffled out of the door. You would not believe the dedication for this company that exists at grass-roots level, and though we are the little people - we ALL make a crucial difference.
Genuine? Possibly. Carlos Anaia was one of the names who was credited with putting together WEA's Word of Mouth and Future Vintage compilations. Even if it's not an actual resignation, it would be an interesting hoax with a fascinating commentary on the company."
Coolfer adds.... "A source (you've gotta love anonymous sources, eh?) has told Digital Music News that Waner Music Group has been unable to have its balance sheet certified by an outside auditor. Edgar Bronfman must be cursing those ethical bean counters and remembering the good ol' days before the Enron and Arthur Anderson scandal. You can't have an IPO if you can't get those finanical statements in working order.
DMN also has for us a few of the company's $21 million of executive bonuses. Bronfman cashed in a $5.25 million bonus on top of his $1 million salary. Lyor Cohen got $5.24 on top of $1 million. Those two bonuses alone were greater than the company's operating profit."
CURTIS MAYFIELD - Mayfield: Remixed - The Curtis Mayfield Collection. Remixes by Grandmaster Flash, Ashley Beedle, Eric Kupper, King Britt, Mixmaster Mike and others. Audio samples here. Links don't match the audio titles listed, so do some homework. This just makes me want to hear the originals, but will give it a listen when it drops. Out March 15.
Friday, February 25, 2005
"I wouldn't even think about playing music if I was born in these times ... I'd probably turn to something like mathematics." Bob Dylan is unimpressed by today's pop fodder, labelling them amateurs.
?uestlove (from The Roots) gives a tour of his record room. (via Funkdigital) Serious vinyl.
The new issue of Mojo magazine came out locally last week, Great Bob Marley cover story, plus an excellent feature on Coxsone Dodd and his Studio One label by David Katz (author of the Lee Scratch Perry bio). The airfreighted copies I saw were $21, BUT didn't come with the free CD, which featured highlights from a number of the Soul Jazz reissues from the Studio One label. There's a tiny note on the cover that says 'for copyright reasons the CD is not available in some overseas territories". However, if you go to Megamags near the bottom of Queen St, you can find it with the CD - apparently there is more than one company airfreighting said magazine into Aotearoa. And the cost? $22.50. That's a CD for $1.50. Bargain!
"35th Anniversary celebrations for the Adidas Superstar continue with the addition to the website of the Music Series, seven smart interpretations of the timeless sneaker from the likes of Run DMC, Ian Brown, Missy Elliott, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Rocafella and Bad Boy. Accompanying the shoes' arrival are cool video interviews with Ian Brown, Missy and DMC, and there's one in the Expression Series section with legendary Wildstyle scribbler Lee Quinones too". (Via Spine mag) And they're only making 5000 of each of them, which means you sure as hell won't get em down here. Damn.
Olympic champion Sarah Ulmer, who won the Supreme Award at the Halberg Sports Awards last night, was later overheard praising her sponsors, saying that competing at Olympic level was not cheap. "My bike is worth $35,000, that's a lotta Big Macs", she joked. She hoped her achievements would encourage youth to take up her sport and eat more fast food, which she said was the key to her success. "You've got to have the right fuel in your engine to make it fire properly", she said.
Reports that she was later heard throwing up in the toilets have been denied by her management, but one patron who witnessed the bathroom incident described Ulmer as "barfing up burgers". Ulmer was later seen exiting the venue with David Tua and his entourage.
ADDED: Thievery Corp diss PCs in the latest Listener.
"I think we just wanted it to be a little trippier sounding, a little heavier and slightly rock at times," Garza says of the new album. "We wanted to experiment with our Mac – we switched over from PC to Mac. Our former engineer used PC, but it's horrible, like driving the Indy 500 in a VW Beetle. So, having the new technology has helped and also a fresh approach musically to some of the tracks, different to what we would have done in the past."
They also get into an argument with the interviewer (Stinky Jim) over the merits of modern dancehall and hiphop...
Hilton: "Like hip-hop's a joke to me now. It's probably the biggest joke. Chuck D wrote an article recently about how hip-hop has been changed by sampling laws and everybody making hip-hop songs on a little workstation with the stock sounds. You know, like the clap sound and the big kick drum – you can spend $200 and get all you need. There's no excitement in that music unless you're really going to cut up beats and do it the old-fashioned way."
So there's no excitement in Timbaland, Neptunes or Outkast or underground gear like Madlib or MF Doom?
Hilton: "Um, I'm not familiar with all of their music..." full article here.
President Bush crossed paths with Russia's leader Vladimir Putin, and expressed his concerns about Russia's democracy. I was watching the News Hour on Triangle last night, this from their report on Putin's Russia...
"Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once Russia's wealthiest man remains, jailed after fraud and tax evasion charges were laid against him just as he was funding opposition parties. His oil conglomerate, Yukos, has been dismembered in a government move that even one presidential adviser called "the swindle of the century."
The media landscape has changed here after several once independent outlets fell under state control. Elections for the post of governor in Russia's 89 regions have been cancelled. The governors are now being appointed by President Putin. And demonstrations have grown over the government's handling of changes to Russia's system of social benefits, a move that has led both aging communists and young nationalists to mobilize against the Kremlin."
Monday, February 21, 2005
WEEKEND VINYL DELIGHTS (more excuses from a vinyl junkie)
So, Saturday was a beautiful sunny day, just the kind of day to head inside and spend a few hours in a dingy old nightclub for a DJ Record Swap Meet. Must feed the addiction...
Finds; Jazzy Fat Grooves EP vol 6 feat DJ Smash
Smith and Mighty - Steppers DelightEP
Born Jamericans - Yardcore (Stalag remix) 7"
Flying Lizards - Self titled LP (includes 'Money')
Funkmaster Flex and Mad Lion: Safe sex, no freaks 12"
Upper Hutt Posse - E Tu EP
Jay Z - Red Green and Gold reggae remixes
Eric B and Rakim - Microphone fiend - 45 King Remix
Basic Black - She's mine
grand total - $55 (that's $US40, or 21 pounds)
I know some of these tunes might not be considered that rare, but things like the Funkmaster Flex or Eric B And Rakim don't turn up every day down here in NZ.
The event was pretty low key, not many stalls - Rob Salmon and Roger Perry had a bunch of crates of house/techno, Ruffian and Earl E from Champion Sound had a few crates of reggae/dancehall/garage, and Cian from Conch Records had a ton of stuff on sale from his shop and was doing some great bargains on funk/jazz/hiphop. There were a few other DJs with a bag or two of techno/hard house. It was fun hanging out talking about records with cats who clearly love music. If I'd got there five minutes earlier, I would've made it to Rob Salmon's bin of hiphop and got my hands on a copy of Nas - the world is yours, cept the guy in front of me got it. Damn. Still, scored another Mad Lion 12, very happy bout that - I've been hunting down some of his stuff recently. Cheers to the organisers, please do it again soon!
NME Awards - Best Radio Show: Zane Lowe (pictured above accepting his award). Expat Kiwi makes good! Well done, that man. Some may remember Zane from his Max TV days, and his 90s hiphop group Urban Disturbance. Zane also produced one of the best local hiphop tunes ever, 'Behold My Kool Style' for Dam Native. He's been UK-based of the last 7 years, working for MTV Europe and Radio One. Bio here.
Check Zane's current musical project Breaker's Co-op (a collaboration with Hamish 'Hame' Clark) have a new album out in March, and there's a single doing the rounds on the radio at the mo.
Vinyl extinct by 2009
"It looks as though audiophiles may have to resign themselves to the fact that in a few years time there will be only the chance to fondly re-live the good old days of nostalgia, rather than experience the new. Vinyl, the medium that took over from Shellac, Bakelite and even earlier the wax pressing, has had its final play – well, almost. The year 2009, looks set to be the final turn in the long standing vinyl revolution.
A June 2003 press release from The Institute of Chemical Engineering, advised that key by- products of the current petroleum refining process would no longer be generated by 2009, due to deadlines agreed, in principle, with the chemical industry back in 1992. These deadlines were however, only finalised in 1999, in the face of increasing environmental concerns and lobbying.
The IoCE went on to advise that a voluntary co-funded research and development program to seek a green alternative, possibly a polycarbonate based compound had been proposed in the 1999 summary. However no members of the industry wide syndicate had been able to substantiate a sufficiently high market demand for a replacement for the petroleum by-product, which is the primary base for vinyl record albums."
Full story here. The last story I linked on this subject was headed Record Revival. So, what about recycling, then? Whole story sounds a bit fishy to me.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Heard about this? First Annual DJ Record Swap Meet, happening in AK this weekend.
"Designed expressly for record music enthusiasts, The First Annual DJ Record Swap Meet is a revolutionary concept and a true chance for big name and bedroom record spinners to unite and gain new tracks. Finally, a unique occasion to swap/ buy/ sell and trade records, flipping through the crates of your friends and favourite DJ’s collections in search of elusive electric gems.
• 12NOON - 6.00pm, February 19 at The Studio, 340 K Rd, Auckland City
• Heineken are bringing to the party Found@thirst winners Matt Harris and Javed Haider to perform
• Tickets ONLY $5 available on the door!! Guarantee your place by registering your name and contact details to Swap-Meet@deejay.net.nz to be in to win fantastic prizes
• Free gift for first 500 registered" Via Hiphopnz.com.
So, two double-oh five is the year I get to see George Clinton and Parliament, AND Grandmaster Flash, live. Damn! Me so happy!
Missing in Acton.
"Every so often, the GBs like to give some shine to those struggling artists who don't have the luxury of the media hype machine (i.e. The Man) puffing them up to ridiculous heights that no one could live up to. There's a whole world of untapped, unnoticed talent out there just waiting for some kind of recognition — an opportunity to prove that, yes, there's more to music than what you see on eMpTyV (haha ... I just made that up) or hear on the ray-D'-oh (not as clever, but it's hard to top the MTV one).
In the past, we put you on to such hidden gems as Dizzee Rascal, The Streets, Lil Jon, Cam'ron, and most recently The Game (it took forever for us to convince people that he was an actual person, and not a thing). Now we have yet another mumbling, accented, not-really-rapper to present to you, the discerning music fan: Maya Arulpragasam, also known to us (and soon the world) as M.I.A. The most important thing you need to know about this new artist is, she is totally hot! And totally not white!"
Gossiping Bitches New Artist Spotlight...Dissecting M.I.A. (tip of the hat to funkdigital)
I like the bit suggesting that M.I.A. is one of "those struggling artists who don't have the luxury of the media hype machine" - if you Google her, you'll discover she has management representation from William Morris Agency, one of the most influential actors/musicians management companies on the planet. And then there's all the heat she's getting from the indie bloggers... perhaps because she's hot, as the GBs point out.
Chris Rock, Oscars host, not a fan, however...
"Come on, it's a fashion show," he added. "What straight black man sits there and watches the Oscars? Show me one. And they don't recognise comedy, and you don't see a lot of black people nominated, so why should I watch it?"
All that jazz
Not too sure about lettin RJD2 loose on Astrid Gilberto, but the previous two Verve Remixed comps have thrown up some gems, so who knows? Out April 5 in the US.
Via Billboard... Here is the track list for "Verve Remixed 3":
"Little Girl Blue (Postal Service remix)," Nina Simone
"Speak Low (Bent remix)," Billie Holiday
"Sing, Sing, Sing (RSL remix)," Anita O'Day
"Fever (Adam Freeland remix)," Sarah Vaughan
"Come Dance With Me (Sugardaddy remix)," Shirley Horn
"Just One of Those Things (Brazilian Girls remix)," Blossom Dearie
"The Gentle Rain (RJD2 remix)," Astrud Gilberto
"Peter Gunn (Max Sedgley remix)," Sarah Vaughan
"Stay Loose (Lyrics Born remix)," Jimmy Smith
"The Boy's Doin' It (Carl Craig remx)," Hugh Masekela
"Lilac Wine (the Album Leaf remix)," Nina Simone
"Yesterdays (Junior Boys remix)," Billie Holiday
"Baby, Did You Hear? (Danger Mouse remix)," Dinah Washington
Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation
Jeff Chang's book Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation arrived at stores in the US February 2nd. I ordered a copy thru Amazon.com and it arrived last Friday. I spent a better part of the weekend dipping into it, and it's a fantastic read. The book is due for publication downunder in April, but if you can't wait, hit Amazon. The book's cover lists the retail as $US27.95, but Amazon have it for about $18. I landed it here for $US30 including shipping.
"From the gangs of the late 60s to the icons of the new millennium, from the Ghetto Brothers and Universal Zulu Nation organizations to the Hip-Hop activists, Can't Stop Won't Stop presents the Hip-Hop generation in all its grime and glory with breadth, wit and style. Featuring an introduction by the father of Hip-Hop, DJ Kool Herc, Can't Stop Won't Stop is based on original interviews with DJs, dancers, rappers, graffiti writers, activists, and gang members, with unforgettable portraits of many of Hip-Hop's forebears, founders, and mavericks."
There's a bunch of press about the book at Chang's site, lotsa quotes from famous people like DJ Shadow and Mike Davis, plus more reading, including the excerpt below. It's long, but it gives you an idea of just how essential this book is, rather than me blathering about it. If you've ever had a passing interest in hiphop or black music, you need to check this book.
"Chapter 4: Making A Name
How DJ Kool Herc Lost His Accent And Started Hip-Hop
...the logic is an extension rather than a negation. Alias, a.k.a.; the names describe
a process of loops. From A to B and back again.
--Paul D. Miller
It has become myth, a creation myth, this West Bronx party at the end of the summer in 1973. Not for its guests--a hundred kids and kin from around the way, nor for the setting--a modest recreation room in a new apartment complex; not even for its location--two miles north of Yankee Stadium, near where the Cross-Bronx Expressway spills into Manhattan. Time remembers it for the night DJ Kool Herc made his name.
The plan was simple enough, according to the party's host, Cindy Campbell. "I was saving my money, because what you want to do for back to school is go down to Delancey Street instead of going to Fordham Road, because you can get the newest things that a lot of people don't have. And when you go back to school, you want to go with things that nobody has so you could look nice and fresh," she says. "At the time my Neighborhood Youth Corps paycheck was like forty-five dollars a week--ha!--and they would pay you every two weeks. So how am I gonna turn over my money? I mean, this is not enough money!"
Cindy calculated it would cost a little more than half her paycheck to rent the rec room in their apartment building at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue. Her brother, whom she knew as Clive but everyone else knew as Kool Herc, was an aspiring DJ with access to a powerful sound system. All she had to do was bulk-buy some Olde English 800 malt liquor, Colt 45 beer, and soda, and advertise the party.
She, Clive, and her friends hand-wrote the announcements on index cards, scribbling the info below a song title like "Get on the Good Foot" or "Fencewalk." If she filled the room, she could charge a quarter for the girls, two for the guys, and make back the overhead on the room. And with the profit--presto, instant wardrobe.
Clive had been DJing house parties for three years. Growing up in Kingston, Jamaica, he had seen the sound systems firsthand. The local sound was called Somerset Lane, and the selector's name was King George. Clive says, "I was too young to go in. All we could do is sneak out and see the preparation of the dance throughout the day. The guys would come with a big old handcart with the boxes in it. And then in the night time, I'm a little itchy headed, loving the vibrations on the zinc top 'cause them sound systems are powerful.
"We just stay outside like everybody else, you know, pointing at the gangsters as they come up, all the famous people. And at the time they had the little motorcycles, Triumphs and Hondas. Rudeboys used to have those souped up. They used to come up four and five six deep, with them likkle ratchet knife," Clive says. He still remembers the crowd's buzz when Claudie Massop arrived at a local dance one night. He wanted to be at the center of that kind of excitement, to be a King George.
Cindy and Clive's father, Keith Campbell, was a devoted record collector, buying not only reggae, but American jazz, gospel, and country. They heard Nina Simone and Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole, even Nashville country crooner Jim Reeves. "I remember listening to Jim Reeves all the time," Clive says. "I was singing these songs and emulating them to the fullest. That really helped me out, changing my accent, is singing to the records."
In the Bronx, his mother, Nettie, would take him to house parties, which had the same ambrosial effect on him that the sound systems had. "I see the different guys dancing, guys rapping to girls, I'm wondering what the guy is whisperin' in the girl's ears about. I'm green, but I'm checking out the scene," he recalls. "And I noticed a lot of the girls was complaining, 'Why they not playing that record?' 'How come they don't have that record?' 'Why did they take it off right there?'" He began buying his own 45s, waiting for the day he could have his own sound system.
As luck would have it, Keith Campbell became a sponsor for a local rhythm and blues band, investing in a brand new Shure P.A. system for the group. Clive's father was now their soundman, and the band wanted somebody to play records during intermission. Keith told them he could get his son. But Clive had started up his own house party business, and somehow his gigs always happened to fall at the same times as the band's, leaving Keith so angry he refused to let Clive touch the system. "So here go these big columns in my room, and my father says, 'Don't touch it. Go and borrow Mr. Dolphy's stuff,'" he says. "Mr. Dolphy said, 'Don't worry Clive, I'll let you borrow some of these.' In the back of my mind, Jesus Christ, I got these big Shure columns up in the room!"
At the same time, his father was no technician. They all knew the system was powerful, but no one could seem to make it peak. Another family in the same building had the same system and seemed to be getting more juice out of it, but they wouldn't let Keith or Clive see how they did it. "They used to put a lot of wires to distract me from chasing the wires," he says.
One afternoon, fiddling around on the system behind his father's back, Clive figured it out. "What I did was I took the speaker wire, put a jack onto it and jacked it into one of the channels, and I had extra power and reserve power. Now I could control it from the preamp. I got two Bogart amps, two Girard turntables, and then I just used the channel knobs as my mixer. No headphones. The system could take eight mics. I had an echo chamber in one, and a regular mic to another. So I could talk plain and, at the same time, I could wait halfway for the echo to come out.
"My father came home and it was so loud he snuck up behind me," he remembers. Clive's guilt was written all over his face. But his father couldn't believe it.
Keith yelled, "Where the noise come from?"
"This is the system!"
Keith said, "What! Weh you did?"
"This is what I did,'" Clive recalls telling his father, revealing the hookup. "And he said, 'Raas claat, man! We 'ave sound!!!'
"So now the tables turned. Now these other guys was trying to copy what I was doing, because our sound is coming out monster, monster!" Clive says. "Me and my father came to a mutual understanding that I would go with them and play between breaks and when I do my parties, I could use the set. I didn't have to borrow his friend's sound system anymore. I start making up business cards saying 'Father and Son.' And that's how it started, man! That's when Cindy asked me to do a back-to-school party. Now people would come to this party and see these big-ass boxes they never seen before."
It was the last week in August of 1973. Clive and his friends brought the equipment down from their second floor apartment and set up in the room adjacent to the rec room. "My system was on the dance floor, and I was in a little room watching, peeking out the door seeing how the party was going," he says.
It didn't start so well. Clive played some dancehall tunes, ones guaranteed to rock any yard dance. Like any proud DJ, he wanted to stamp his personality onto his playlist. But this was the Bronx. They wanted the breaks. So, like any good DJ, he gave the people what they wanted, and dropped some soul and funk bombs. Now they were packing the room. There was a new energy. DJ Kool Herc took the mic and carried the crowd higher.
"All people would hear is his voice coming out from the speakers," Cindy says. "And we didn't have no money for a strobe light. So what we had was this guy named Mike. When Herc would say, 'Okay, Mike! Mike with the lights!', Mike flicked the light switch. He got paid for that."
By this point in the night, they probably didn't need the atmospherics. The party people were moving to the shouts of James Brown, turning the place into a sweatbox. They were busy shaking off history, having the best night of their generation's lives.
Later, as Clive and Cindy counted their money, they were giddy. This party could be the start of something big, they surmised. They just couldn't know how big."
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
"New Telepathics is the brainchild of Darryn Harkness, brought into being with the assistance of Sandy Mill and Tom Fielding. Together they have created a melting pot of afro-beat, soul, jazz, funk and house - similar in vibe to the west London broken beat sound or that of the Tru Thoughts / Quantic output.
Their live set is never the same, with improvisation and rythmic complexity the key. The band includes 2 drum kits, 2 bass players, keyboards, horns, vocals, and a theramin! Darryn's other project is the rock band Serafin, who are signed to PIAS/Sony and have spent the summer touring with Frank Black of the Pixies. Sandy Mill has worked with a host of musical stars, from Gary Numan and Placebo to Basement Jaxx and Dick Johnson. She is probably best known, though, for her vocals for Lofty and Bob Jones's East West Connection."
Two wicked tunes for free, over here.
"Behold the anthropological marvel of this ancient Kris Kross website, miraculously preserved by Sony Music in its original state since 1996. Gaze in wonderment at the monstrously pixelated graphics! The downloadable AIFF files!! The seizure-inducing backgrounds!
Let's see how long it takes Sony to wake up now and delete these pages." via Jay Smooth...
from Pop-life... "Normally, Kanye West has the stage presence of a spelling bee announcer. But last night, Kanye (and his church dancers) deserved an award for that exhilarating performance. He probably was wired with adrenaline after praying on national television to win the Best New Artist award, only to demonstrate his complete disappointment when he lost. (Apparently, Jesus walks with hustlers, killers, murderers, drug dealers, and even Maroon 5.) Yes, Kanye was robbed. But on second thought, I like Kanye and don't want him to end up in the same class as Hootie & The Blowfish, Milli Vanilli, and the Starland Vocal Band." More Grammy roundup here.
TVOne managed some brief snippets on the news last night of the Grammys, including some bogus line about Kanye West (sounded like Kenny West when the presenter said it tho) being pipped for best new artist by Maroon 5, but hang on, Kanye won 3 awards (including Best Rap Album), right? Didn't rate a mention. Sigh, the mainstream. Check Funkdigital for a link to Kanye's speech, absolute genius. "I plan to celebrate and scream and pop Champagne every chance I get because I'M AT THE GRAMMYS, BABY!"
ADDED: Kiwis at the Grammys - Alan Broadbent missed out on Best Jazz Instrumental Solo record (that went to some guy named Herbie Hancock), Steriogram were up for best video but that went to U2 - Steriogram were reported as looking forward to going to the Grammys and meeting U2 - networking for Jesus? Fran Walsh won Best Song Written For A Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media with Annie Lennox and Howard Shore, and LOTR-ROTK won Best Movie Soundtrack.
Monday, February 14, 2005
PLAY BY PLAY
Coolfer is blogging the Grammys live, check it.
"Record Revival" examines how DJ culture and vinyl afficianados have kept alive the record format. Stores have expanded vinyl sections, and bands that a few years ago shunned vinyl are releasing LPs to go along with their CDs.
"CDs far and away rake in the lion's share of sales, but vinyl records have a dedicated following that have kept sales steady, said Michael Gartenberg, vice president of Jupiter Research. In 2003, 746 million CDs were shipped, compared with 1.5 million LP/EPs. At the half-year mark in 2004, 329 million CDs were shipped compared with 700,000 LP/EPs, indicating the vinyl format is holding firm as CD sales could be experiencing declines, said RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy. 'Vinyl aficionados never went away,' Gartenberg said." Via Coolfer
From funkdigital... "I did some dumpster diving yesterday. The Mecca is good for that. Location was E. 7th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues. I took a lunch break to head up to the E. Village heading over to Turntable Lab. Got some hotness but had to put that Pete Rock extras down. They wanted $20 buck for it on vinyl, of course, so I had to be like "that's awight, son."
Anyway, coming back down 7th I eyed this white chick on top of a dumpster like she ws playing king of the hill. She's riffling through vinyl records. Aww shit. It's on now. The $1 used record shop that was there went out of business. So on that street me and her are going through it. Not alot of much. I told her to pass me any joint with black faces. She did. I got Harry Belafonte w/ Miriam Makeeba, Stevie Wonder, Kool & The Gang and a few others. Well worth the dirt I got on my coat.
image above courtesy of Satan's Laundromat
Friday, February 11, 2005
Tribute records are always pointless
Ahmir ?uestlove Thompson got his hands on the original master tapes of Sly & The Family Stone’s “Everybody Is A Star,” which his band, The Roots, sampled for the opening track of their recent album, The Tipping Point. Excerpt below from a great interview with the drummer/producer in latest issue of Modern Drummer magazine. Save the drummer jokes, this guy is incredibly talented.
"Sliding faders up and down, Thompson goes through vocal tracks until the only thing you hear is Sly Stone, front and center, crooning for all his life. This is a truly spooky and wonderful experience, like being in a time machine with Ahmir Thompson as your commander. He pulls up more faders: brass and bass kick in, Larry Graham’s thunderous voice booms from the speakers. This is not simply for fun—Thompson is also working on a Sly Stone tribute album.
“Tribute records are always pointless,” Thompson asserts. “And when someone asked me to do the Sly thing, I knew it could be a disaster. But I was so curious about the drum sound; I really did it because I knew they would send me the masters. They even sent me the original engineer’s notes for the session.” Modern Drummer interview here.
Another ?uestlove interview over here.
Via Working for the Clampdown... "It's that time again. It's time for Guardian/Observer Rap Editorial Policy Watch! (Okay, you think of a catchier title.)
I'm pretty sure that Kitty Empire is not stupid. So what on earth possessed her to write, when reviewing the new Roots Manuva album, the following?
Disgust, weariness, self-loathing and the fear of God are not the usual themes taken up by hip hop.
As my partner pointed out, "Even I know that those are all really, really common themes in hip hop, and I know very little about it!" Moreover, they're particularly common themes in the kind of hip hop not normally credited with much intelligence or artistic value by broadsheet music critics. Mobb Deep much?
But it gets worse:
In a genre best known for its posturing and violence, Roots can rap 'Pray for me, Mummy' without worrying about saving face.
Um... It's almost compulsory for those rappers supposedly "best known" for "posturing and violence" (yeah, whatever) to have a song about how their mothers should pray for them. 'Dear Mama' much?
I don't think this can be entirely Kitty Empire's fault. There can only be one explanation. Guardian/Observer Rap Editorial Policy has struck again!
The Beastie Boys last album may have been mediocre crap, but they still got it going on... Rolling Stone reports that "The BEASTIE BOYS have joined Al Sharpton in a PETA campaign to boycott Kentucky Fried Chicken for the chicken chain's alleged cruelty to animals. The group's open letter of protest to the KFC CEO is posted at peta.org" KFC - its Kiwi for Chunder.
ADDED The buzz about M.I.A. hits new highs/lows... "Coolfer has read and heard a lot of great things about M.I.A.'s show at NYC's Knitting Factory, but nothing compared to this blurb over at More in the Monitor:
"On the subway ride home, this guy Tony told me that he had been standing next to an overweight middle-aged couple near the front of the stage, and the woman gave the man a blow job in the middle of the concert. I think that is a bigger and better endorsement of M.I.A. than anything anybody could ever write about her."
M.I.A.s album is getting a local release (YAY!), out April 4 (unless they have trouble with a few uncleared samples).
I was watching C4 last night, and on Homegrown Late, host Clarke Gayford intro'd the show, noting he had lots of giveaways, including the new issue of Real Groove with Pluto on the cover, and told viewers to remember that bit of info for later, then he blathered a bit more, and said they also had a brand new Apple iPod Shuffle to give away, and they had loaded it up with Pluto's new album Pipelines Under The Ocean.
Now, who had the bright idea to load up Pluto's album on the Shuffle? Was it C4? The band? The band's record company? Surely these people know that copying a CD to another format is illegal in New Zealand. Quick, somebody tell RIANZ. Still, I got to watch Clarke announce the new Mint Chicks video, Fuck the Golden Youth; he took particular delight in saying the f-word, he even said the song title twice. Such a rebel.
Thursday, February 10, 2005
"The excellent free peer-reviewed net-journal First Monday has published an exhaustive survey of the earnings made by British and German musicians. Their conclusion? Copyright doesn't give creators a living, and in many cases (such as clearing samples) it costs them more than they can afford.
According to a GEMA (German collecting society) insider, only about 1,200 German composers can live from their creative output. Only a small minority of artists reaches ordinary living standards from copyright income... If an artist wants to include a sample from another record, major rights holders often insist on a controlling interest of 50 to 100 percent of the rights in the new track."
Link (via Boingboing)
and here's the flipside...
"This may come as a complete shock to the people who forget that entertainment is a business, but writers, like musicians, get an advance and then have to pay back that advance with royalties from book sales. What is the average advance? One small, non-scientific survey put it at less than US$6,000 (not adjusted for inflation)." Via Coolfer.
Neal Stephenson interview here.
Also from the BBC's site... "homophobia in Jamaica goes far beyond songs lyrics, with gay men and women "beaten, cut, burned, raped and shot on account of their sexuality", according to Amnesty International. It says while no official statistics are available, according to published reports at least 30 gay men are believed to have been murdered in Jamaica since 1997. And at least five Jamaicans have been granted asylum in the UK in the last two years because their lives had been threatened as a result of their sexual identity."
Village Voice Pazz and Jop Critics Poll out now. Kanye tops it - no surprises there, he's one of two hiphop CDs most critics bothered to listen to last year - that and the Grey Album.
Via O-Dub - "Lizz Mendez Berry's Vibe story on how hip-hop silences the issue of domestic violence is an important, important piece - one of the few examples of real investigative, issue-oriented reporting you'll find in today's urban culture mags.
Alas, what I think will be the ultimate fall-out is a much public hand-wringing but business as usual otherwise. As Lizz points out: that's not on hip-hop alone, but it's fascinating to see how fast people circle up the wagons to defend a batterer. If you're talking the talk, i.e. "kick in the door/wavin' the 44/all you heard was 'Poppa don't hit me no more'" at least be man enough to own up to it."
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
From Aaron Wherry... "Here's a little tip for the kids. If you're going to be interviewing Miss M.I.A., be sure to tell your editor you're going to need at least a half dozen pages to squeeze in all the good stuff. If your editor finds this unreasonable, get a blog and just reprint everything there. That way, everybody wins.
So. Today we talked to the delightful Maya Arulpragasam. The 800 word version of our encounter appears in tomorrow's National Post. [Read it here] If you'd rather just read a couple thousand of her words without ours getting in the way, this post is for you. Laughs have been edited out. But they were frequent. And wonderful." Read it all here.
UPDATE XL Recordings (MIA's label) list her album as coming out April 4 in the UK, but will be out February 22 in USA/Canada. Check Amazon.com for audio previews, cover art etc.
And have a look at Whinin' Simon, examining the notion of Kiwi music failing to churn out any 'standards'.
"it occurred to me [while he was drinking Belgian beer and eating mussels, bless him] that New Zealand, as a songwriting nation, for all the classic performances (and there have been countless) hasn’t yet matured sufficiently to produce standards as Australia, for example has. Perhaps it’s the result of a largely moribund recording industry for many years and the lack of any airplay...." Go on Simon, drink yourself more bliss, forget about the old songs, sing yourself a new one...
what about that Michael Murphy tune? Hang on, some Yank wrote that... (Just kidding about the whining thing, okay Simon?)
ADDED Simon suggests that there are plenty of Kiwi classic songs, but how do you define classics as different from standards? The two seem so closely interlinked. The term 'classic' is one that is so overused on relation to Kiwi music - as Simon notes, "we might have a recording history going back fifty years but we’ve only really had a mature recording industry for a decade or so." thats' not nearly enough time to generate standards.
Even worse are the music reviewers who label a new release an 'instant classic' (and no, I have never done that). I guess you could argue that a standard is something deeply ingrained in the national psyche, a tune that everybody knows. The one tune Simon missed out in his list was the Ka Mate haka, as used by the All Blacks. I think you'd call that a standard, yeah?
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
There's this godawful album floating round called Dub Side of the Moon, someones wack idea of doing reggae versions of that crap Pink Floyd album. You should avoid it at all costs. Trust me on this. Instead, try this for size - dub versions of Joy Division songs. I first heard about this via the knowledgable Southerners at The Joint, and now you can grab a slice for yourself via Suburbs Are Killing Us.... Love Will Tear Us Apart, dub style. Tee hee.
M.I.A. performed in LA and NY at the weekend, here's a few reviews...
Give Them What They Want but Keep It Sort of Cool
By KELEFA SANNEH,
New York Times, Published: February 7, 2005
M.I.A. was raised in Sri Lanka and lives in London, and she has established herself as one of hip-hop's most exciting new voices, rapping and chanting and sometimes singing over hard-thwacking electronic beats. Sounds exotic, right?
Yet the thrill of her hugely anticipated sold-out concert at the Knitting Factory on Saturday night wasn't the thrill of the new - it was the thrill of the familiar. M.I.A. has a keen ear for the various mutations of hip-hop that fill clubs on both sides of the Atlantic, and she scrambles these styles in a way that sounds both fresh and inevitable. Some new acts take a while to sink in, but M.I.A. makes sense from the first time you hear her.And for 45 minutes on Saturday night, she made wildly entertaining sense, playfully calling out her playground-ready couplets ("Somewhere in the Amazon/They're holding me ransom"; "Pull up the people/Pull up the poor") while bouncing her slim limbs in time to the beat.
Backed by Diplo, her D.J., she rode tracks new and old, bringing together old-fashioned electro and futuristic dancehall reggae, London grime and Atlanta crunk. Maybe that's why her music sounds somehow inevitable: because sooner or later, these like-minded genres were bound to find one another.
Late last year M.I.A. and Diplo released "Piracy Funds Terrorism Vol. 1," an excellent unlicensed mixtape that paired her vocals with a smartly curated set of beats, most of them from other people's songs. (That's why it's not available in stores.) The mixtape helped earn M.I.A. a fanatical cult of listeners, even though her debut album, "Arular" (XL), won't be released until Feb. 22.
It's great fun to watch M.I.A.'s cult expand, and it will only expand further once there's an actual album for people to buy. "Arular" has a loose, infectious energy, and it seems likely to appeal to the indie-rock fans who tend to ignore similarly adventurous beat-driven albums when they come from, say, dancehall reggae producers - indie bloggers didn't exactly flock to Stephen (Lenky) Marsden's sublime "Dreamweaver" compilation - or even foul-mouthed American rappers (Ms. Jade's ecstatic debut album, "Girl Interrupted," is currently languishing in a bargain bin near you).
Part of M.I.A.'s appeal is that she borrows from rough-and-tumble, slightly-out-of-control urban genres while leaving behind the parts that may make hip listeners feel uncomfortable: gunplay and crude sex jokes and drug-dealer boasts and all the rest of it. Not coincidentally, "Arular" is missing some of the rambunctious energy that gives those genres some of their power. Nothing about "Arular" feels at all out of control, and maybe that's the reason it sounds a bit slight: it's the work of a canny young performer who has learned to give her listeners nothing they don't want.
Still, M.I.A. has created a handful of devastatingly good singles, and she left no room for skepticism at the Knitting Factory. During her thunderous underground hit "Galang," the crowd sang along to the wordless refrain that comes near the end, bellowing as if it were some sort of mutated soccer chant. (Who knows? Perhaps it is.) And near the end came "Bucky Done Gun," which began with a clever bit of reverse psychology: she chanted, "Manhattan, quieten down, I need to make a sound! / Brooklyn, quieten down, I need to make a sound!" She didn't look surprised when, for the first time all night, no one followed her directions.
Another take on MIA...
"It would seem that once in a generation we get a musical figure that co-opts the best elements of the underground, injects them with a healthy dose of sexy, and turns popular music into something you've never heard before. Watching M.I.A. last night at the Knitting Factory in Los Angeles was like seeing Madonna on American Bandstand. It was just bananas. You take one the hottest djs in America and pair him with a pint-sized ball of Sri Lankan sex appeal spitting fire and you've got yourself one hell of a show.
I fully expected to be disappointed. Seriously. But I wasn't let down. Not one bit. It lived up to the hype. There was a visual loop from her "Galang" video running in the background, one backup singer and Diplo on the tables. She played pretty much every track off the new album, but $10 was clearly the standout, and when Diplo mixed in some Eurythmics beats underneath the place went crazy. Such a great show. The soundsystem was fantastic and the beats sounded so good live."
From Music For Robots - they've got a MIA tune over there for you to have a listen to.