Saturday, September 22, 2007

For Jay-Z, Inspiration Arrives in a Movie (More News On American Gangster)

(Swiped from The New York Times)

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 19 — Jay-Z, the rap superstar and president of Def Jam Records, has quietly returned to the studio to record an album of new songs inspired by the forthcoming movie “American Gangster,” his first “concept” album and second CD in less than a year.

The album, which his label plans to release in early November, came together over the past few weeks after Jay-Z was shown the film, directed by Ridley Scott, in which Denzel Washington portrays Frank Lucas, a early 1970s Harlem heroin kingpin.

Following the underwhelming critical and commercial reception for his “Kingdom Come” CD late last year — and as Jay-Z grapples with whether to stay on in his post at Def Jam — the tie-in to a major motion picture gives him a chance to rebound strong and extend his reach to a wider audience.

At the same time, it could help Universal Pictures excite younger moviegoers, whom it will need to make money on a costly film with a troubled history. Though it’s not uncommon for films to be released alongside “inspired by” albums, it is rare for them to be recorded by a single artist, let alone by a major star who had no role in the movie.

In an hourlong telephone interview, Jay-Z, 37, who has spoken of spending his early years in Brooklyn both rapping and drug dealing, said that the movie had tremendous resonance for him and had sparked a burst of creative activity that even he found surprising. He has already recorded nine tracks, almost every one prompted by a specific scene.

“It was like I was watching the film, and putting it on pause, and giving a back story to the story,” he said.

The movie, set for a Nov. 2 release, depicts the Lucas character as an underworld Horatio Alger and an innovator who, despite keeping a low public profile, rose to such power that he was able to defy the Mafia bosses who had traditionally dominated the New York drug trade before being brought down by a special narcotics task force. (Its leader is played by Russell Crowe.) Jay-Z said he thought his fans would be struck by the image of a black man reaching such heights of success, even on the wrong side of the law, much like such ruthlessly efficient Al Pacino antiheroes as Tony Montana and Michael Corleone.

“It immediately clicked with me,” said Jay-Z, who has made passing references to gangster movies in previous recordings but has never delved so deeply into the genre. “Like ‘Scarface,’ or any one of those films, you take the good out of it, and you can see it as an inspiring film.”

A $100 million gritty period piece that largely takes place before the birth of hip-hop or many of its fans, “American Gangster” marks a sizable gamble for Universal, which fired one director, Antoine Fuqua, and scrapped the project at a cost of $30 million before restarting it with Mr. Scott in charge and with Mr. Crowe in place of Benicio del Toro. (Though they share a name, Universal Pictures and Universal Music Group, the parent of Def Jam, are no longer corporate brethren.)

Mr. Scott said he cast the rappers T. I., RZA and Common in supporting roles, hoping to appeal to a younger audience. But Brian Grazer, the film’s producer, said that Mr. Washington also pressed him more than a year ago to consider asking Jay-Z to do the film’s soundtrack.

“I just didn’t think there’d be enough for Jay-Z to do,” Mr. Grazer said, explaining that he resisted because he and Mr. Scott felt the movie required an authentic 1970s feel.

Instead Jay-Z offered to make his own album and release it in conjunction with the movie; Def Jam is also releasing the film’s official soundtrack, which features songs by Bobby Womack, the Staple Singers and Sam & Dave. Jay-Z plans to attend the film’s premiere but any cross-promotion deals have not been completed, executives said. The movie’s trailer already includes an older Jay-Z song, “Heart of the City.”

Mr. Grazer, who visited Jay-Z in the studio last week and heard seven of the new songs, said he was impressed by how the movie had “ignited all these memories of his childhood and how he grew up and the experiences he had, and the moral crossroads he had constantly in his life that were so parallel to Frank Lucas’s.”

Though Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, said he’d never heard of Mr. Lucas while growing up in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, he still glimpsed much of himself in Mr. Washington’s portrayal: “The way he carried himself. The way he went about things. The way he wasn’t loud, but he was very strong.”

Echoing the “stop snitchin’ ” campaign among some hip-hop fans and artists, however, Jay-Z hastened to dissociate himself from Mr. Lucas’s decision to cooperate with the authorities to get a more lenient sentence.

“Me, I believe you choose your path and you walk your path, and whatever happens you got to accept it,” Jay-Z said.

In “No Hook,” a song on the new album, he says:

Please don’t compare me to other rappers, Compare me to trappers
I’m more Frank Lucas than Ludacris, And Lude is my dude, I ain’t trying to dis
Just like Frank Lucas is cool, but I ain’t tryin’ to snitch
I’m-a follow the rules, no matter how much time I’m-a get
I’m-a live and die with the decisions that I’m-a pick

Jay-Z’s new album is certain to punctuate what had been a year of relatively slow sales for Def Jam until the huge chart debut this week of Kanye West’s CD “Graduation.” Jay-Z is said to be mulling whether to extend his three-year employment contract, return to recording and touring full time or explore other options. In the interview he deflected questions about his future. “I would love to work it out” and stay at Def Jam, he said, but he added that he was wavering and would do some “soul-searching” after finishing the album.

His decision to record “American Gangster” is a surprise, given that his last album was released less than a year ago. “Kingdom Come” sold about 1.5 million copies, his lowest figure for a full studio album since 1997. And its elaborate marketing campaign, including alliances with Budweiser and ESPN, prompted some suggestions that Jay-Z’s branching-out into other business endeavors, and taste for the jet-setting life, had begun to undermine his street credibility.

He made no apologies for his transformation into a global brand. “Jay doesn’t live in Brooklyn any more,” he said. Rather, he ventured that “Kingdom Come” was a little too “sophisticated” for some listeners. “American Gangster,” he said, would be a return to a tougher, more unflinching view of street life.

“Watching that film, it brought back all these memories,” he said. “It took me back to those emotions.”

Illustrating his point, he launched again into “No Hook”: “ ‘Poor me, Dad was gone, finally got my Dad back, liver bad, he wouldn’t live long, it snatched my Dad back.’ ”

He added that the song “takes you through this journey — his journey, my journey — so many people’s journey that come from the areas that we come from.”

Throughout the interview Jay-Z sounded almost jubilant talking about his creative process, and he repeatedly interrupted himself to try out his latest rhymes:

“ ‘Mindstate of a gangster from the 40’s, meet business mind of Motown’s Berry Gordy,’ ” he rapped from “Pray,” another new song.

“How crazy is that?” he said giddily.

And, in another rap:

This is the genesis of a nemesis
Mother America’s not witnessed since
the Harlem Renaissance
birthed black businesses

“I’m not even joking with you,” he said, laughing. “It’s out-of-body experiences at this point.”

Friday, September 21, 2007

Dr. Dre: "Detox " To Be My Last Album

(swiped from Billboard)

Dr. Dre is eyeing 2008 for his first album in seven years, "Detox," but says the project will be his last. "I think it's time to move on," he tells the Los Angeles Times, calling rhyming "a young man's game." According to Interscope, there is no firm date for the album.

Whispers about "Detox" have leaked out over the years, with producer/multi-instrumentalist Mike Elizondo telling Billboard.com in 2005 that Dre was perfectly content to take his time finishing the effort.

"Dre has very high standards," Elizondo said. "He wants to shock the world and put something out that no one would have ever thought possible from a hip-hop artist. He's definitely going to take his time and make sure it's right."

The iconic rapper/producer made his first major public appearance in recent memory last month at the MTV Video Music Awards in Las Vegas. He is devoting the next two months to working on Eminem's next album, and tells the Times anything unrelated to producing, weight training and time with his family is not on his agenda.

However, there is new business to report. Dre recently inked a multi-year production pact with New Line Cinema, under which he will join longtime collaborator, director Phillip G. Atwelll, to score and possibly direct films.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Common and Q-Tip Tour Together


(Swiped from Pitchfork Media)

Common and Q-Tip will herald the release of the B-Ball Zombie War compilation (on which Q-Tip appears) with a tour together, sponsored by 2K Sports. Joining them will be Stones Throw MC and fellow Zombie contributor Percee P, who just released his long-awaited debut LP.Tip has a couple long-awaited, oft-postponed albums in the works; right now, The Renaissance is due in "early 2008" according to a press release. And in a recent interview with XXLMag.com, he announced that he and Common have formed a group together called the Standard. (These guys are probably pissed.)

The two have not, however, started recording together yet, and the remaining details remain unclear, except that Q-Tip will handle most of the production and that a few tracks may feature Kanye West. In addition to the joint tour, Common has a handful of dates on his own. He's also in the movie American Gangster with Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington coming out soon, and is filming Wanted with Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman and The Night Watchman with Keanu Reaves and Forest Whitaker.As previously reported, Stones Throw will release B-Ball Zombie War on October 2.

Jay-Z Records Sorta Soundtrack for American Gangster

(swiped from Pitchfork Media)

So maybe Kingdom Come didn't exactly see Jigga coming "back like Jordan wearing the 4-5." But, cobwebs adequately shaken out over the last few months, you can raise those hopes again for a new Jay-Z album. According to The New York Times, Jay has been working on a record inspired by American Gangster, the forthcoming Ridley Scott film starring Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Common, T.I., and RZA. The disc drops November 6 via (duh) Def Jam, according to Billboard.com, and the movie is out November 2.

If you've seen the trailer for the film (which, if you've been to a theater in the last three months, or have clicked on the link below, you almost certainly have), you've caught the strains of The Blueprint's "Heart of the City (Ain't No Love)" rolling through the background. But that's old news, as Jay told the Times he's got nine new songs done for the disc already.

There's no tracklist yet, though it's supposed to include "Pray", "No Hook" (sounds like an outtake from his last record, LOL) and "Blue Magic", reported by Billboard.com to have been produced by that cutie Pharrell Williams. Jay-Z's American Gangster apparently isn't the film's official soundtrack, which will be released separately.

In other Jay-Z news, that new "I Get Money" remix is pretty good.

Video: American Gangster: Trailer

50 Cent Scraps Appearances


(swiped from Reuters)

LONDON (Billboard) - Just hours after losing out to rival Kanye West on the U.K. albums chart, rapper 50 Cent has shelved a string of European appearances.

"50 Cent is very sad to confirm that due to a last minute, unforeseen and unanticipated change in his schedule, he will have to postpone his European promotion trip from September 18-25," his Interscope Records label said in a statement.
Among the events he will miss are the Music of Black Origin Awards and the Live Music Awards, both in London.
The competition between both rappers ratcheted up a gear when 50 Cent -- whose real name is Curtis Jackson -- claimed in the press that he would retire from making solo albums if West won the sales battle.
West's "Graduation" (Roc-A-Fella) bowed at No. 1 on the latest Official U.K. Albums Chart, published Monday, ahead of 50 Cent's No. 2 "Curtis." Initial data in the United States also showed him trailing West; official sales will be published Wednesday.

Rage singer De La Rocha wraps first solo album

(swiped from Reuters)

NEW YORK (Billboard) - Rage Against The Machine vocalist Zack De La Rocha has completed his first solo album, a project he has been working on since first leaving the band in 2000.

A source said De La Rocha plays keyboards on the album and that the sound is a hybrid of "Led Zeppelin and Dr. Dre. Some of it has the power you'd expect from him in Rage."

De La Rocha is understood to be unsigned and mulling distribution offers.

Post-Rage, De La Rocha has recorded material with DJ Shadow, Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor and the Roots' ?uestlove, but it is unknown if any of these tracks appear on the finished album. One song with Reznor, "We Want It All," appears on the 2004 compilation "Songs and Artists that Inspired Fahrenheit 9/11."

Rage Against The Machine reunited in late April to co-headline the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in southern California and has played a handful of gigs since. The lone shows left on the band's itinerary are in late October at the Voodoo Music Experience in New Orleans and the Vegoose festival in Las Vegas.

Hip-Hop Flick Wild Style Gets 25th Anniversary DVD


(swiped from Pitchfork Media)

Here's a little story that must be told, about a new DVD made from a film so old: Wild Style, the 1982 flick encapsulating the then-incubatory hip-hop culture in the South Bronx, turns 25 this year. To celebrate, Rhino has revamped and repackaged Wild Style, and will release it on DVD September 25. The movie-- which centers around graffiti artist Zoro's foray into high society-- features legendary appearances from the likes of Grandmaster Flash, Cold Crush Brothers, Rock Steady Crew, Chief Rocker Busy Bee, and Fab Five Freddy. In addition to new audio and video transfers of the film, the DVD features interviews with many of the performers, a Grandmaster Caz DJ battle, and footage from a 20th anniversary concert.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

And the winner is.....

Kanye West easily bested 50 Cent in their much-hyped SoundScan clash, pushing 957,000 copies of Graduation against 691,000 copies of the G-Unit star's Curtis in its first six days of sales, according to Billboard. Both albums are the artists' respective third solo projects.

Early projections last week had West moving 800,000 copies to 50's 600,000. A late surge over the weekend, perhaps, created the distance that left the battle pretty much one-sided in the producer's favor. (Sales tallies ended on Sunday when SoundScan closed for the prior week.)
Both artists did last-minute campaigning over the weekend, with West stopping by the Emmys and Fif hitting NYC for his 5 Borough Tour.

In interviews leading up to the September 11 release date, 50 claimed he would retire from making music if West outsold him in the first week, although he later qualified those remarks.
50 also seemed to be in disbelief by the comparisons drawn between his sales prowess and West's. He claimed he was the bar against which the first-week numbers should be judged in the current climate of sagging CD sales.

The G-Unit rapper later began lashing out at Def Jam, claiming West's label was purchasing copies of this Graduation to boost sales. As it turns out, West's Graduation posted the biggest opening-week numbers for an album since 50's The Massacre pushed 1.1 million copies in its first week in March 2005, according to Billboard.

Country-music star Kenny Chesney, who made his own bold prediction to Entertainment Weekly about his project landing atop the charts, will debut at #3 on the Billboard albums chart. His Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates moved a reported 387,000 copies.
The rollouts for Kanye's and 50's albums weren't exactly smooth. West released two singles before finalizing an album date, which coincided with 50's date.

50, by contrast, had a much more difficult time, which was documented by tirades and temper tantrums. Most infamous was his meltdown in G-Unit's office in midtown Manhattan, New York, where 50 tossed his cell phone out the window and ripped a flat-screen TV from the wall after learning the video for his Robin Thicke collaboration "Follow My Lead" leaked to the Internet. The clip wasn't planned for release until much later in the album cycle for Curtis.

50 most recently revealed plans to release his Before I Self Destruct album early next year. And he has also vowed to release one G-Unit project for every Def Jam project if West's first week sales top his.

Friday, September 14, 2007

In Praise of Assholes: An Analysis On 50 and Kanye's Releases

(Swiped from The Village Voice)

Kanye can't rap. 50 is retrograde. Both are absolutely necessary.
by Greg Tate

Kanye West and 50 Cent are the two biggest drama queens to hit pop music since Alice Cooper and Iggy Pop, and that's not a bad thing. Hiphop, still the voice of Young Black America, is only going to get louder and prouder as it goes along, if only because that demographic's voice is so hushed elsewhere. Barack Obama's campaign manager claims his candidate's currently muted campaign voice is the product of his belief that America isn't ready for a fire-breathing Black man, and our nation's prisons and graveyards are full of the proof. But nature abhorring a vacuum, Kanye and 50 have rushed in to fill the void in that last safe space left for such characters. A sister I know once told me she had no respect for a Black man who wasn't arrogant. Maybe the advent of Mr. West and Mr. Cent warms her heart, maybe not. Regardless, there is, of course, that bothersome question: loud and proud and arrogant in the name of what? Wealth, fame, and gossip? Hmmm. While traveling about the country speaking in the 19th century, Sojourner Truth, our beloved godmother of The Struggle, used to sell postcards of herself, rationalizing this enterprise thus: "I use the shadow to support the substance."

These are the days when we ask whether there's anything but shade being served up as Black Popular Culture. With respect to West's new Graduation and 50's new Curtis, one could easily come to feel that hype is being sold to support hype, so please don't believe the hype. But as Melville, another 19th-century godmother of truth, set forth in The Confidence Man, America is nothing if not a land where hustlers, grifters, con artists, and slicksters grease the wheel of populism, where the shadow often is the substance and where even those who've come to peddle the righteous Truth realize they need to get some hustle up in their game, too. On a recent PBS report about Europe's love-hate relationship with America, a bizarre sidebar hustled us into the studio apartment of two French rappers of Arabic descent. Dudes wore fat gold chains, shined diamond grills, and gushed repeatedly about how they viewed both American MCs and Herr Bush as idols because their "game was so tight," repeatedly and ferociously invoking that phrase. They believe the hype, conflating Bushology and bling-ology as the new-model American Dream. Mr. Cent has also spoken admiringly of Herr Bush's aggression. Real knows real.

Mr. West and Mr. Cent are both now as well-known for inciting beef as for recording and performing. You could think they both make records just to sell hype as opposed to the other way around, but they're also both formidable, state-of-the-art 21st-century pop tunesmiths who take the job of writing delectable hits as seriously as any Brill or Motown scrivener ever did. One old-school hiphop maven recently lamented how she can't believe she lives in a world where "Kanye is even a factor," largely because he can't really rap. (Mr. Cent she loves, reminding those of us less titillated that the man does have charms to stir the distaff breast.) But while it's true that Mr. West will probably never end up on anybody's list of even the 100 greatest MCs of all time, he's clearly got an exceptional ear for hooks, both musical and lyrical. Furthermore, he's got stuff to say that isn't the standard fare, stuff that still has undeniable mass-ass appeal. He also has a unique personality and a confidently outsized opinion of same—that combined with moxie will still get you somewhere in this country.

Mr. West and Mr. Cent share in being two of the most unrepentantly obnoxious figures to arrive in American pop culture since Cheney and Rumsfeld. The difference between them being, Mr. West is loud, bratty, obnoxious, but seemingly harmless, while Mr. Cent is laconic, bratty, obnoxious, but genuinely sinister. His now-legendary Hot 97 interview, calmly warning a histrionic, hyperventilating Cam'ron about the dangers of his mouth writing checks his ass couldn't cash, was as surgical, chilling, and devastating a threat as you've heard since Pacino played Corleone. But somewhere during 2005's The Massacre, Mr. Cent realized he didn't have to make records for gangsters, wanksters, or even guys anymore, that he could just be the lone NY kingpin who made records strictly for the ladies. Those with truly savage breasts and literal cojones would have to find their high-testosterone hiphop elsewhere—Mr. Cent could care less for your love anymore. Certainly not after cashing in those Glaceau stock options; if hiphop is now more defined by the corporate game than the street game, that lucrative little coup just might be the definitive hiphop act of 2007.

After all, brothers like Mr. West and Mr. Cent can sell hype to support hype and thus generate as much personal wealth as many African nations can with all the diamonds, gold, and titanium in their sovereign ground. African-American entertainment is our De Beers, our Nokia, our Lockheed—the only bloodsucking industry we (sorta) (symbolically, at least) got, and likely the only nation-state (figuratively, at least) we'll ever have as well. Meaning that in some perverse Black Nationalist way, you have to admire the loot Mr. Cent, Mr. Combs, Mr. Simmons, and Mr. Carter have hustled out of corporate America by wearing little more than their well-hyped shadows. Meanwhile, back in the real jungle, real Africans—Rwandans, no less—are slaughtering one another to corner the market on the colombite-tantalite-laced mud (known as coltan) that keeps your cell phone ringing. (For more on this, see Black Brit artist Steve McQueen's upcoming exhibition Gravesend.) Mr. West and Mr. Cent may indeed be assholes, but they're symbolic assholes who remind us that American Darwinism has produced a species of Negro Male who can now exploit his fetishized vernacular aura as profitably as multinational corporations can the minerals in your whole damn ancestral homeland. Mr. Cent will never win the NAACP Image Award he deserves for this achievement, mainly because that lot's more interested in "burying" the word nigga or "redeeming" Michael Vick's dog-mangling ass than applauding or even analyzing it.

Oh yes, BTW, FYI, Mr. Cent and Mr. West both have new albums out. Of course, Mr. West's previous effort, 2005's Late Registration, belongs in the pantheon of superlative hiphop albums, despite his being a mere step or three above Mr. Combs in the "least enchanting rhymers of all time" category. To his credit, though, he's far wittier than Diddy, with reams of jokes and edgy one-liners ("I'm like the Malcolm X of fly/Buy any jeans necessary"), and something like a social conscience, too—see his blood-diamond confessions on Registration's "Diamonds from Sierra Leone." What he lacks in ferocious flow, he makes up for in plaintive verbal harassment—he's kinda like the guy who will beg his way into your panties if he has to, the one who will simply not shut up or back off until your ears give him the equivalent of sympathy punnani. He's the Rodney Dangerfield of rap, in other words, and fortunately for us, what he lacks in MC finesse he makes up for in musical panache. Registration had a jillion snappy ideas about what a hiphop song could be—from show tunes to power ballads, from symphonic airs to Curtis Mayfield elegies—and mucho ear candy to burn. Mr. West proved he knew a ripe, juicy hook when he stole, borrowed, or chipmunked one, and he knew how to attach himself to it like a writhing, self-aggrandizing barnacle to boot. Graduation builds on this formula, even if this time around his lyric conceits prove less galvanizing than his purely musical snatches.

Let's take "Drunk and Hot Girls," for starters. Ostensibly Graduation's "Gold Digger," its similarly breezy girl-bashing never achieves the deadpan hilarity of that Registration highlight because, like too many other moments this time, Mr. West presumes our sympathy for his rock-star pain—here, specifically, the downside of being entangled with intoxicated hotties. (The track does, however, prove he can mire himself in lounge music as seedy as any Tom Waits has trawled in.) The folly of his pathos, though, reaches its nadir on "Big Brother," a song about how much he loves and owes his big bruh Jay-Z, and how little love and respect lil' bruh Kanye feels he gets in return. Not exactly Cain and Abel drama here.

Now, if there's anything Kanye and 50 both want and will never, ever have, it's the genuine Vito Corleone–Muhammad Ali love and respect Mr. Shawn Carter has out here on these streets, a love I never truly appreciated until around December 4 of last year, when I was on Harlem's 145th Street A-train platform and overheard a young sister, about 17 or so, tell her homegirl she was on her way home to bake a birthday cake, like she always did for her "big brother" Jayhova. Both these guys could give away every dime they make from now until perdition to homeless orphans and not get that kind of unabashed 'hood love in return. Of all the things Mr. Carter has that other high-rolling hiphop brothers might covet, the thing they covet the most can't be bought or sold: his "big man on campus" affability. In recognition of this lack, Mr. West and Mr. Cent take an opposite tack, seeing how far they can push straight-faced arrogance as an icebreaker, if not a virtue.

When Mr. West's braggadocio turns whiny, Graduation proves why he's so easy to loathe, but also why he's so easy to applaud as the most genuinely confessional MC in hiphop today. (Some would say "narcissistic," but c'mon, this is hiphop, not emo, yo.) On "The Glory," he congratulates himself for raising the thematic bar in hiphop, and also for buying clothes with haute logos. On "Everything I Am," he congratulates himself for not being more gangsta, notes the number of caskets in Chicago last year (600), and speaks up for the down-and-out brother in the 'hood who can't even get the church to give his depression the time of day. And grating bouts of narcissism aside, Graduation contains killer pieces of production: "Stronger" uses Daft Punk's "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" to practically revive Eurodisco, while "Champion" snarkily snatches its hook from Steely Dan's "Kid Charlemagne" and allows Mr. West to declare how much he's an idol for the kids, if not the ages.

For Mr. Cent's part, he and his Curtis co-producers continue to perfect a style of lean, sleek, bubbly, robo-industrial hiphop that nearly qualifies as a modern form of visual design, each track the equivalent of watching a Maserati roll off the assembly line. We're talking a form as sleek, dark, and aerodynamic in form as a Mirage fighter—one that allows Mr. Cent to shadily blend and disappear into the music like a grinning, evil Cheshire cat and thus maintain his Zen profile as the anti-Kanye: the least excitable prime-time rapper this side of Snoop. An extremely limited thematic palette of sex, money, and dissing still wets his whistle, even if, on "Straight to the Bank," he reminds us that he's so rich he doesn't have to rap anymore. But even if you have no ears for his lyrical swagger (I don't have much), can't anybody say he makes indifferent, lazy albums. Curtis is stuffed with tightly wound 21st-century pop songwriting, full of that invisible craft and flow that renders a thing eminently listenable even if it's gratuitously raunchy, politically reprehensible, and sexually retrograde. America wouldn't be America if pro-capitalist assholes and con men couldn't run roughshod over the body politic, and the day there's no room for two full-time careerist drama queens like Mr. West and Mr. Cent will be the day the revolution comes, the day of al-Kebulan, the Taliban, the tsunami, the asteroid, the omega, man.

Analyrical "Bartender Blues" Free Download!


Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to announce across the land, that the homie Analyrical has a new song off his page, which will be coming out on a CD of freestyles called "The Platter Mixtape," set to make it's debut in October.

You can visit his MySpace and download Bartender Blues free of charge, and in addition hear three (!) additional tracks from his new mixtape as well.

His album, tentatively titled "First Date" is under construction and will be coming out soon! So, look out!

Stay tuned as well, since I will be posting reviews of several new releases I've purchased. Want the lowdown on the new Kanye, or 50? Maybe Sick Jacken & DJ Muggs? Stay tuned to this blog and hopefully I'll introduce a new review as I listen more and more.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Run Ya Jewelz, once again...


Go there. Enter. Or indulge yourself in those sounds.
Either way, support it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

RIP Joe Zawinul 1932-2007

VIENNA (Reuters) - Keyboardist Joe Zawinul, who played with Miles Davis and helped shape jazz fusion with his band Weather Report, died in his native city of Vienna on Tuesday, aged 75.

Zawinul, voted best keyboarder 30 times by music magazine Down Beat's critics' poll, including this year, had sought medical attention last month after a tour. He died of a rare form of skin cancer, local news agency APA reported.

"Joe Zawinul was born on July 7, 1932 in earth time, and on September 11, 2007 in eternal time. He lives on," APA quoted his son Erich as saying.

Growing up in Vienna's poor Erdberg district during Nazi rule, Zawinul first showed his talent by playing the accordion with his family. He later won a free place in the Vienna Conservatory. As a young man his friends were the late former Austrian President Thomas Klestil and pianist Friedrich Gulda.

In 1959, Zawinul won a piano scholarship at Boston's Berklee College of Music, where many careers in contemporary music began, before joining the bands of U.S. jazz stars Dinah Washington and later Cannonball Adderly.

Miles Davis first approached the budding pianist in New York's Birdland jazz club, wanting to hire him, Zawinul once told an interviewer. Zawinul turned him down but said that when the time was right, they would make history together.

And when the time was right, they did. Ten years later, Zawinul wrote "In a Silent Way", the title cut for Davis' 1969 album regarded as one of the trumpeter's first forays into jazz fusion, a genre drawing on rock, R&B and other styles.

He played on and composed for Davis' "Bitches Brew" album in 1970, a chart-topping record considered revolutionary for the day and marking his crossover to a rock and pop audience.
Zawinul started Weather Report in 1970 with saxophonist Wayne Shorter. The band did much to bring electric piano, synthesizers, and African and Middle Eastern rhythms to mainstream audiences in a jazz setting.

Before its breakup in 1985, Weather Report released 17 albums. Its most famous song, "Birdland", published on the "Heavy Weather" album in 1977, won separate Grammy awards in three decades -- for the original version as well as for covers by Quincy Jones and Manhattan Transfer.

Following the break-up of Weather Report, Zawinul had fronted the Zawinul Syndicate for the past 20 years. After the group's tour this summer, he sought medical attention and was admitted to the Wilhelmina Clinic in his native city last month.

In 1963, Zawinul married Maxine, the first African-American Playboy bunny, whom he met in the Birdland club too. They mainly lived in Malibu, California. The couple had three children.
He also spent a lot of time in Vienna and started his own club there, also called Birdland. He had planned to give a concert in Vienna's concert hall on September 29.

Vienna Mayor Michael Haeupl said the musician would be buried in a grave of honor in Vienna.

Monday, September 10, 2007

2007 MTV VMA Winners

Sunday night, the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards were held at the Palms Resort in Las Vegas. However, we've forgotten how unentertaining and uninspiring the performances were. Not to mention that Britney's kickoff of her long awaited comeback fell on deaf ears, as a Barbados native took the awards by storm with just an Umbrella. So the most important question in all of this: Who Won? Well, here are those said winners of the night:

Monster Single of the Year Winner
Rihanna f/ Jay-Z "Umbrella"
Quadruple Threat of the Year Winner
Justin Timberlake
Best Collaboration Winner
Beyoncé f/ Shakira "Beautiful Liar"
Male Artist of the Year Winner
Justin Timberlake
Female Artist of the Year Winner
Fergie
Best Group Winner
Fall Out Boy
Best New Artist Winner
Gym Class Heroes
Video of the Year Winner
Rihanna f/ Jay-Z "Umbrella"
Best Choreography Winner
Justin Timberlake "My Love"Choreographer: Marty Kudelka
Best Direction Winner
Justin Timberlake "What Goes Around....Comes Around"Director: Samuel Bayer
Best Editing Winner
Gnarls Barkley "Smiley Faces"Editor: Ken Mowe
Want to see the performances and rely on every detail? Go here to view it on demand.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Anyone in the singles market?

So, it recently came to my attention that two women have advocated themselves in a recent breakup, and a husband search.

First, a breakup many will be excited about; even though I think this person is very nice and so is her filmmaker husband as well:

That's right! Jenna Fischer, fresh off the hotness that is The Office, has just recently announced on her and her ex-husband's myspace page that they have officially separated. I'm sure they were in good spirits and wish them all the best. At the same time, ain't Jenna Fischer fine? Either way, go wish her and the ex the best of wishes, and who knows? Maybe you can get lucky? Don't even act like y'all don't be pimpin' on myspace either.

A second opportunity presented itself when I stumbled upon a Pitchfork interview:


M.I.A, who just released a stellar fuckin' album called "Kala," has cited in a interview with Pitchfork that she is in need to extend her visa for a year. So she asked the kind interviewer at Pitchfork that she needs a husband, so she can do some heavy touring in the states. Think you can hang? Go to M.I.A.'s MySpace page and make your thoughts known.

Hey, worth a shot right?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Rumors Be Damned! Apple slashes iPhone price! And much more...

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Inc. sharply cut the price of its iPhone on Wednesday and rolled out an iPod with a touch screen that can browse the Internet wirelessly, as well as improvements to its iTunes Web store.

Apple's stock price fell 3.5 percent. It had been on a tear since the company said it would be making an announcement on this day, rising 13.5 percent over the past week.

The company is fighting to maintain its lead in the digital media business at a time when the company faces renewed attacks from rivals including Microsoft Corp., which cut the price of its own wireless music device, the Zune.

Chief Executive Steve Jobs, who also showed off an iPod nano with a video screen, said the company was refreshing its entire line of music players. In addition, Apple's iTunes Web music store will begin selling songs over wireless connections, he said.

This means that for the first time, people can download songs directly to an iPod rather than through their computers.

Commenting on the stock move after the iPod changes were announced, Paul Foster, options strategist at Web information site theflyonthewall.com in Chicago, said: "Buy the anticipation and sell the reality. I guess investors were anticipating something more positive from Apple."

Apple shares, up about 70 percent this year, fell $5.00 to $139.16. Shares of iPhone service provider AT&T, which are up about 13 percent this year, fell 1.6 percent to $39.63 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Apple said the price of the iPhone model with 8 gigabytes of storage was cut to $399 from $599 and that it would discontinue a model with less memory.

"Apple has always been aggressive with price cuts to keep the competition at bay," Shannon Cross of Cross Research said.

Apple will also update its iTunes online music store to let customers turn songs into ringtones for the iPhone and to allow customers to buy songs while connected wirelessly.
The new touch-screen iPod will have many of the features of Apple's hit iPhone, including a touch screen, the ability to connect to the Internet wirelessly using Wi-Fi technology, and a mini Web browser.
"We've built in Wi-Fi and we've made it usable," Jobs said, in what could be seen as a dig at Microsoft's Zune, which beat the iPod to market with Wi-Fi but has not enjoyed the iPod's popularity.
Microsoft cut the price on its Zune by $50 to $199.
"Microsoft looks like it is entering Apple's territory in a larger way, which would lead to lower margins down the road in Apple products," said Tim Biggam, lead options strategist at online brokerage thinkorswim in Chicago. "But the long-range impact of Microsoft on Apple products remains to be seen," he added.
Apple also said it had struck a deal with Starbucks Corp. to let customers buy music from Apple's wireless iTunes music store while they are at one of the chain's coffee shops.
You can view the Photos of the press conference here. You can see a live video demo of it via Reuters here as well.

For more information on Apple and it's many different innovations discussed at it's press conference today, you can go to Apple's website.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

iPhone/iPod Rumors?

(swiped from RollingStone)

It’s official, the famously secretive Apple will announce something having to do with iTunes, the new iPod or even the iPhone, on September 5th. The company, which is known for its Willy-Wonka levels of secrecy about new products and announcements, sent out invites to a few thousand journalists, analysts and other industry folks that feature a picture of the Cover Flow scrolling-album-artwork feature familiar to anyone with iTunes or an iPhone. So even though that gives us a hint that the announcement will be music-related, we still don’t have a clue what the specific news will be. And neither does anyone else, but this hasn’t stopped the blogosphere rumor mill from swirling, intensely. We scoured the Internet to find what we think are the five most likely Apple announcements next week. Just know that Steve Jobs could surprise us all and do something completely different.
  • Touchscreen iPod: There’s no doubt that the addition of the touchscreen and Cover Flow feature to the iPhone made it the best iPod ever, so it’s time to spread the love to Apple’s non-cell-phone handheld icon. Rumors of a touchscreen √† la iPhone have been swirling ever since an Asia-based tech rumor site revealed the Taiwanese company that was to provide the touchscreens for a new iPod.

  • The Beatles catalog on iTunes at last: First Paul McCartney, then John Lennon made it to iTunes (Ringo’s post-Beatles work was added today, and word has it George Harrison is coming up soon). Now that the lawsuit over the Apple name has been long resolved, it’s time for the Beatles catalog to get on iTunes’s virtual shelves. This will likely be the cherry on top of any bigger iPod announcements. The ironic thing is, after years of such careful protection and avoidance of online distribution, the Beatles’ songs will finally get sold in the least protected way possible, with non-DRM tunes from EMI! Get yer CD rippers ready!

  • Wi-Fi download store for iTunes: Following in the footsteps of the Zune, Music Gremlin and the Sansa Connect (with Yahoo! Music Unlimited), a Wi-Fi download store that lets users download right to a wireless-enabled iPod sounds sweet. This rumor has been going around for a while, and just resurfaced yesterday. It’s certainly possible, but we think Apple will limit Wi-Fi to the iPhone for now. Adding communication capabilities to the iPod just cannibalizes iPhone sales — and who wants an Internet Tablet or device, anyway (we talking about “Internet-surfing,” but not much else, devices as the Sony Mylo, the PepperPad and the Nokia Internet Tablet).

  • Nanos with bigger memories: The main cool thing about the Nano is it doesn’t have any moving parts because it uses Flash memory instead of a hard disk. Problem is, Flash memory didn’t come in larger sizes, until now. So a pint-sized Nano with more memory would be a very welcome thing indeed. Incidentally, there are also rumors of a Shuffle with more memory, which means you could seriously bring your whole music collection to the gym with you.

  • The European iPhone: This is almost a given, since Apple has been talking about a fall launch for the iPhone since June. Only question is, which carriers and which countries will get the iPhone first? Our money is on France, England and Germany, the three Euro countries that download illegal music the least (at least according to our Madrileno tech writer friend Angel Jimenez, who writes for Spain’s largest daily newspaper, El Mundo). This announcement is likely, particularly since Apple just launched TV show downloads on iTunes in the U.K., for nearly four times the price (almost $4!) it costs Stateside.
  • Bonus Rumor: Ringtones! This is also looking very solid: According to reports, for a small fee you will be able to make ringtones on your iPhone out of tracks for sale at the iTunes Stone.

New Releases this Week: 9/4




















This week on the DVD front is the 2nd, and uncensored, mind you, season of Robot Chicken, courtesy of the good folks at Adult Swim. In this DVD set are more of our favorite stop motion claymation created by Seth Green, taking a parody filled turn, especially with its creme de la cremme episode, the Star Wars parody.

Aside from Robot Chicken, you also have Season three of The Office, the hit TV show featuring Steve Carrell as the boss man, and Rainn Wilson as his trusty assistant. On the music front, there isn't really much coming out, but there is a nifty little movie compilation from Ice Cube called "In The Movies," which contains all his tracks which he has contributed to various movie soundtracks during his career lifespan. You'd be hard pressed to find a CD with "Natural Born Killers," "How To Survive In South Central," and his most recent movie/soundtrack hits "You Can Do It," alongside several others. At least this should hold you over until 9/11, when you have several new releases hitting the marketplace, such as Kanye West's long awaited third album, "Graduation," 50 Cent with "Curtis," and last, but not least, DJ Muggs & Sick Jacken with "The Legend Of The Mask And The Assassin."

Be on the lookout for the top iPhone and iPod rumors set to come out later today.