Jun 302009

Video-preview: Nas & Damian Marley’s Distant Relatives

Road 2 Zion was a real fine mix between rap and reggae, with Nas laying down his best verse in years, further securing his place as rap’s John Coltrane. Let us hope that this new album they are working on brings out the same level of lyricism, and that Damian makes sure that the end result will sound a lot less corny than the music in the end of the clip above.

Damian Marley ft. 2pac, Nas, Scarface – Welcome 2 My Block (Clinton Sparks Blend)

Jun 242009

Let us start with the beat. Before Dr. Dre invented g-funk, he had the last say on that superhard, James Brown-based b-boy boom bap that New York producers like Marley Marl, Kurtis Mantronik, Paul C and The 45 King had defined earlier. This was what the world first knew Dr. Dre for. He took that style to a new level. When you listen to the groundbreaking, funk-as-punk masterpiece Straight Outta Compton, the snares hit your cranium harder, the bass slaps heavier in your chest, and the loops come out cleaner, funkier. As RZA once put it in an interview: nobody fills up your whole car like Dr. Dre. The title track might be the hardest beat ever cooked up (even if the doctor made serious attempts to top himself with Deep Cover, Pump Pump, Natural Born Killaz – imagine if he gave something in that weight class to Tupac Shakur), and the man responsible for it is better known for introducing laidback orchestrations and Nate Dogg’s smooth crooning to the game, or helping with the musical backdrop for The Eminem Show, than for the production that brought N.W.A. to the attention of the F.B.I.

I rep the streets, ’til I rest in peace! If you wanna bring your west and heat, my projects be the last place you ever see!

Raised in the crack wars of New York, just out of jail (where he had been the boxing champ), Mega Montana was now set against friends turned foes and a record industry most eager to fuck him over. Before he recorded Tha Realness – one of the most heartfelt and powerful albums ever recorded – Cormega was spitting with a whole other kind of ferocity. If you compare his early freestyles with the Cormega from The True Meaning and Legal Hustle you can see that his delivery is rawer, straight aggression, as if he had beef with every person in the room. The animal, reptile, killer instinct is in every bar. It was only right for him to make Straight Outta QB.

Some recordings from this era displays a certain sloppiness, a syllable out of place here and there. This is typical for rappers not so comfortable in the studio. After all, Cormega had spent his last years administrating drug wars and going through the prison system, more busy with surviving than with perfecting his flow. However, that nervousness cannot be found on this track. His mic presence is magnetic, the delivery impeccable, the flow without weaknesses. Every syllable is in its exact place, laid down hard like the bricks that make a prison wall. Brute force. Raw power, stomping your enemies into the ground. Adrenaline. Aggression. I will kill you. I will survive.

It is easy to criticize violent music. At the same time, the critic has probably never “felt the power of invisibility, clutching a gun like, fuck it – it’s him or me“. The rapper did not choose the concrete jungle, crack, hand cannons; he was born there. If from a nicer area, other, more socially well adjusted topics would have been dealt with. To his favor, Cormega only relates things that he has experienced, that he has seen up close in the flesh (“I possess the ghetto essence of that which I portray“), and does it with a passion for his craft, never giving in to gimmicks, poses, trends, empty bragging, always choosing his words carefully, as a means to paint pictures, passing on life lessons, and trying to uplift his listeners. Still, we sure miss the incomparable anger and energy that we hear in his old freestyles.

Cormega – Straight Outta QB

Cormega – Freestyle over Deep Cover


My tounge’ll leave a razor sliced on mics

Jun 232009

“In other words, Zebra was informing me that the immortality achieved by the early authentic Christians was through DNA or gene pool memory, and that what they told outsiders was a “fish sign, representing Christ,” was in fact a drawing of the DNA molecule. Zebra had already made it clear to me that the early Christians, as representatives of Essenes, had managed to conquer time. This is how they did it: one of their members dies, and was later, by means of an external disinhibiting stimulus, retrieved – which is to say, his later incarnation was induced to remember, to experience anamnesis (the loss of amnesia).

Zebra achieved this with me. I was able to remember my life as an Essene of the first century A.D., and the steps taken to eventually insure a resoration of my memory and hence identity. I was able to retrieve not only two former lives but a knowledge of my primordial origin from the stars.”

(p. 149-150, The Selected Letters of Philip K. Dick vol. 5)

“Were these truly added perceptual faculties – added to the normal – or were they, instead restored perceptual faculties which had been lost, latent, so to speak, all my life? (…) We are imprisoned by blunted faculties; the very blunting itself makes us unaware that we are deformed. But how this blunting came about, by whose actions and why, I have no theory.”

(p. 153, The Selected Letters of Philip K. Dick vol. 5)

Jun 172009

Tim Maia – Eu Amo Voce

I dedicate this song to Mariana. The discussion is over now, I assume.

Bring me a Jorge Ben song that rivals the naked heart and soul of Eu Amo Voce, and we can talk about it.

You can’t find one? Is that so? Really? And why?

Because a song like that doesn’t exist. Sim gatinha, Jorge Ben is mad talented… but please, he doesn’t even reach the shoulders of Mr. Tim Maia. The man towers over his competitors. He is the best of Brazil, ever.

And this is the end of that.

“Que beleza é sentir a natureza

Ter certeza pr’onde vai

E de onde vem

Que beleza é vir da pureza

E sem medo distinguir

Maia e o Ben

Jun 162009

Force Tracks releases the ideal meditative urban music. While ambient, drone, noise is the typical soundtrack for sinking into the void of contemplative nothingness, the dubbed-out tech-house and digital disco that Force Tracks has specialized in means meditation in movement, it means contemplating when moving through squares, stores, parks, crowds in streets, it means the increased perception of the urban landscape when riding buses and trains with headphones. House music, generally bouncing along at around 120 bpm (which equals the heart rate of an excited human body), becomes the city’s pulse.

This is not the same landscape as in the futuristic, industrial decay of Detroit, nor the deep bunker dubs of Basic Channel. This is not the wastelands. It is more affirmative than critical in relation to the modern urban landscape. That comes from a technological paradigm, from the fact that we are listening to laptop-techno, dance music that puts the best elements from IDM and glitch upon a finely mechanized funk; the analog assassins have grown up. The Birth Of New Life has become adult. Some days that feels like a good thing.

Listen to:

Andrew WeatherallHypercity

MRI – All That Glitters

SCSI-9 – Digital Russian

Luomo – The Present Lover

Benjamin Wild – With Compliments

Jun 152009

Listening to Robert Hood’s Deep Concentration: The Grey Area Mix.

I want to thank everyone who has pointed me towards this name in the past. With time you get to the important things in life – whether it be books, movies, or music – and then it all makes sense. I rarely listen to mixes (I prefer the fully physical live situation, with people moving mechanically around me; or perhaps I just have too short attention to span), but when it is put together this brilliantly, it is visionary funk in its purest, most beautiful form. It takes you places never seen, never before imagined.

Long live modern mythology, mass movements, motherships, minimal meditation, man machines, Motor City.

“Robert Hood makes minimal Detroit techno with an emphasis on soul and experimentation over flash and popularity.”

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