Thursday, January 31, 2008

I wholeheartedly support Ghostface Killah...

People need to support this man.

I promise the next time that I am physically able, I plan to bring all my Ghostface CD's to a show.


Styles P, Papoose, Lupe Fiasco - Cipher

Lupe dumbin' the fuck OUT son!

Not bad.

At Last! The Scarlett Johansson Album!

(Swiped from Pitchfork Media)

It's here! The album we've been waiting for, breathlessly, all this time. Yes, I'm talking about Scarlett Johansson's Anywhere I Lay My Head, due out May 20 on Atco. And wait-what's this? It's not just ten Tom Waits covers? There's also an original track? Oh man!

Update: Apparently Stars Like Fleas drummer Ryan Sawyer also appears on the album.

As previously reported, ScarJo collaborated with TV on the Radio's David Sitek, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Nick Zinner, and Celebration's Sean Antanaitis on the album.

Album of the year, baby.

Link-arrowVideo: Bob Dylan ft Scarlett Johansson: When the Deal Goes Down

Cool Kids, Kid Sister Join Flosstradamus on Debut LP

(Swiped from Pitchfork Media)

Chicago DJ duo Flosstradamus have spent the last couple years rocking parties the world over and touring with the likes of A-Trak, Kid Sister, and Chromeo. But for now, the party rocking has mostly stopped, at least temporarily. J2K and Autobot are holed up in the studio determined to translate their manic live sets into an album worthy of their name.

Flosstradamus' forthcoming yet-to-be-titled full-length has no label home yet, but that hasn't stopped the dudes from snagging contributions to the record from Chicago homies the Cool Kids and Kid Sister (who also happens to be J2K's actual sister) as well as Spank Rock pal Amanda Blank. Of course, Floss themselves are handling the production, and they hope to have the album out sometime this summer.

In the meantime, J2K has taken on a new role: eBay fanatic. He's currently auctioning off a ton of his stuff, from the personal (watches, designer t-shirts, sunglasses) to the professional (iBook loaded with software and tunes, mix CDs, gift certificate for one night in a king suite at Chicago's Trump Hotel). You can check out all of his auctions here.

Flosstradamus will step out of the studio for a set at the new Treated party at the Underground in Chicago on January 31.

Link-arrowStream: The Cool Kids: Pump Up the Volume (Flosstradamus Remix)

I'm baaack...Dizzee's Maths + English Coming to U.S. Via Def Jux

(Swiped from Pitchfork Media)

We haven't exactly been shy in expressing our fondness for Dizzee Rascal's Maths + English album. We gave the disc our recommendation when we reviewed it back in June, and it even landed at #49 on our list of our favorite albums of last year (single "Pussyole" made it onto our top songs list at #28) But when XL originally released the album, it wasn't given a physical release in the U.S., just a digital one. It was unfortunate; as our reviewer Nate Patrin wrote, "Dizzee's best prospects for an expanded fanbase may well be across the pond."

Happily, Maths + English is getting another chance, thanks to the good folks at Def Jux. The indie rap powerhouse will issue the album on CD for the first time in the States April 29. (It will also re-release it digitally, as it is no longer available as a download here.)

The Def Jux version will feature new studio tracks "G.H.E.T.T.O." and "Driving" as well as a remix of the UGK-assisted "Where's Da G's" by Def Jux label head El-P. All told, it sounds like it was worth the wait.

In other Dizzee news, he's got those dates we told you about recently.

Maths + English (U.S. edition):

01 World Outside
02 Pussyole (Old Skool)
03 Sirens
04 Where's Da G's
05 Paranoid
06 Suk My Dick
07 Flex
08 Da Feelin'
09 Bubbles
10 Excuse Me Please
11 Hard Back (Industry)
12 Temptation
13 Wanna Be
14 U Can't Tell Me Nuffin'
15 G.H.E.T.T.O. [bonus track]
16 Driving [bonus track]
17 Where's Da G's (El-P remix) [bonus track]

Real live Rascal:

01-18 Auckland, New Zealand - Mt. Smart Stadium (Big Day Out Festival)
01-20 Gold Coast, Australia - Parklands (Big Day Out Festival)
01-23 Byron Bay, Australia - Great Northern
01-24 Sydney, Australia - The Metro
01-25 Sydney, Australia - Sydney Showgrounds (Big Day Out Festival)
01-28 Melbourne, Australia - Flemington Racecourse (Big Day Out Festival)
01-30 Melbourne, Australia - The Prince
02-01 Adelaide, Australia - Adelaide Showground (Big Day Out Festival)
02-03 Perth, Australia - Claremont Showgrounds (Big Day Out Festival)
02-15 Preston, England - 53 Degrees
02-16 Newcastle, England - Newcastle Academy
02-17 London, England - Shepherds Bush Empire
02-18 Sheffield, England - Leadmill
02-19 Manchester, England - Academy
02-23 Portsmouth, England - Pyramid

Link-arrowVideo: Dizzee Rascal: Flex [from the Maths + English LP]

Monday, January 21, 2008


Shouts out to the Mad Editor, for whom this interview would not be possible.

Background Noise coming to a venue near you, stay tuned.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Ice Cube - Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It

Fuck what you say about his film history. Ice Cube is my hero.

He's got a new album in the works, Raw Footage is the name of it, and hopefully it comes out. I'm excited.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Marley Marl Says Juice Crew Biopic Will Be Filmed This Year

But he shoots down David Banner and Cuba Gooding Jr. casting rumors, saying the 'Vapors' roster hasn't been solidified yet.

(Swiped from MTVNews)

NEW YORK — "Can you feel it?/ Nothin' can save ya/ For this is the season of catchin' the vapors."

In 1988, Biz Markie rapped about him and his music family, the Juice Crew, making the ultimate I-told-you-so, ashy-to-classy hit song, "Vapors." And why wouldn't he brag? Biz was on fire, teammate Big Daddy Kane had a hit record worldwide and the rest of their crew's core members — Kool G Rap, Marley Marl, Masta Ace and Roxanne Shanté — had established themselves in the game as well. Also in '88, the Juice Crew made one of the most definitive hip-hop posse cuts of all time, "The Symphony," which appeared on Marley Marl's In Control Volume 1 compilation that year.

Now, the team's rise is being documented and brought to the silver screen to mark the 20th anniversary of the Juice Crew's breakthrough. The movie is aptly titled "The Vapors."

"Right now, it's in the casting stage," Marley Marl, the legendary DJ and producer behind many of the Juice Crew's collective and solo hits, said about the film last week at Hammerstein Ballroom. Marley, who hails from Queensbridge and also works on outside projects for LL Cool J, was getting ready for a special gig: spinning as Nas' DJ during a recent concert. had previously reported some casting choices for the film, including David Banner as Biz Mark, "ATL" co-star Jackie Long as Big Daddy Kane, Keke Palmer as Roxanne and Cuba Gooding Jr. as Marley. Marley Marl told MTV News the filmmakers have talked to a slew of talent but insisted that no definitive casting choices have been made.

"We're not reaching out — a lot of stars are reaching out to us because that's an important movie in hip-hop history," he further explained. "It's basically me, Big Daddy Kane and Biz's life story leading up to 1988. How we got there. How we made the golden era pop. ... A lot of ups and downs, a lot of personal sh--. It is what it is."

Marl, who dropped his most recent project, Hip-Hop Lives, with KRS-One last year, was politically correct when asked who he wanted to play him in the film.

"The best actor possible," he smiled. "We gonna tally it up at the end and see who it could be. We need the movie 'Vapors' to make its point, and a lot of the young kids to know what birthed the golden era. That's what it is. It's a 2008 release. My boy Furqaan [Clover] is directing it. I told him the idea, I fed it to him, and like within two weeks I started reading about it. So it's moving very, very quickly. They got the investors. This is something that everybody's excited about, and it should be one of the pinnacle [hip-hop] movies. You got 'Scarface,' 'Krush Groove,' whatever in your [DVD] rack, [you'll eventually] have 'Vapors.' "

Marley is currently working on the film score to the movie "The Wendy Williams Experience," a biopic revolving around the controversial radio personality. Clover is directing that as well.

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Beck's Odelay Given Deluxe Reissue Treatment

(Swiped From Pitchfork Media) Lord (only) knows Beck's Odelay is a readymade, ramshackle, Catskill-rockin' classic. The 1996 hunk of hot wax belongs on just about every record-holding shelf we can think of, and if you don't already have it, now would be the time that we gently chide you into heading to a retail location of your preference to pick up a copy.

Or, better yet, wait until January 29, when the two-disc Odelay - Deluxe Edition will be released from Geffen/UMe featuring 19 tracks not available on the original version. It also features brand new artwork, pictured above. Pretty cool, huh?

Although the exact order of the tracklist hasn't been confirmed yet, we do know which extra goodies will be tacked on to the set, and they offer a solid overview of Beck at his cold-lampin' collagist peak. (UPDATE: FULL TRACKLIST AVAILABLE NOW! SEE BELOW) From the original Odelay sessions come the previously unreleased tracks "Inferno" and "Gold Chains", both produced by the Dust Brothers. There's the Life Less Ordinary soundtrack cut "Deadweight", known for its kickass Michel Gondry video. Then there are three remixes: Aphex Twin's take on "Devil's Haircut" (aka "Richard's Hairpiece"), UNKLE's mix of "Where It's At", and Mickey P.'s version of "Devil's Haircut" (aka "American Wasteland"). And finally, a shit-ton of B-sides: the Mario Caldato Jr.-produced version of "Thunder Peel" (which originally showed up on Beck's 1994 album Stereopathetic Soulmanure), "Clock", "Electric Music and the Summer People", "Lemonade", "SA-5", "Feather in Your Cap" (which showed up on the SubUrbia soundtrack), "Erase the Sun", "000.000", "Brother", "Trouble All My Days", "Strange Invitation", a cover of Skip James' "Devil Got My Woman", and a Spanish language mariachi version of "Jackass" called "Burro".

In other Beck news, he's been nominated for a Best Rock Vocal Grammy for the recent iTunes-only surprise "Timebomb" single, and he recently helped the White Stripes with their "Conquest". And he did something with Jamie Lidell, but we still really want to know exactly what that something is.

Odelay - Deluxe Edition:

Disc One:
Original album:
01 Devil's Haircut
02 Hotwax
03 Lord Only Knows
04 The New Pollution
05 Derelict
06 Novacane
07 Jack-Ass
08 Where It's At
09 Minus
10 Sissyneck
11 Readymade
12 High 5 (Rock the Catskills)
13 Ramshackle
14 Hidden Track

Bonus tracks:
15 Deadweight
16 Inferno
17 Gold Chains

Disc Two:
01 Where It's At (UNKLE remix)
02 Richard's Hairpiece (Aphex Twin remix of "Devil's Haircut")
03 American Wasteland (Mickey P. remix of "Devil's Haircut")
04 Clock
05 Thunder Peel
06 Electric Music and the Summer People
07 Lemonade
08 SA-509 Feather in Your Cap
10 Erase the Sun
11 000.000
12 Brother
13 Devil Got My Woman
14 Trouble All My Days
15 Strange Invitation
16 Burro

Video: Beck: Timebomb [from the Timebomb digital single]

Video: Beck: Deadweight [from the Life Less Ordinary soundtrack / the forthcoming Odelay - Deluxe Edition LP]

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Beatles for sale: rappers, brands turn to Fab Four

NEW YORK/LONDON (Billboard) - It's perfectly legal, but it will still seem to some listeners like the sound of someone making off with England's crown jewels.

On rap collective Wu-Tang Clan's new single "The Heart Gently Weeps," a Santana-style rock guitar opening gives way to an almost celestial chorus of something very familiar. There, and throughout the track, is the unmistakable melody of George Harrison's timeless contribution to the Beatles' "White Album" from 1968: "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."

Now, the track is accompanied by Wu-Tang's trademark, uncompromising language, rapping out a gritty street story, even as Harrison's son Dhani plays along.

Meanwhile on the just-finished "Judas," Ja Rule is introducing the rap community to another incongruous musical motif. This is no unthinking appropriation of a classic act's creativity, as has sometimes been the case in rap. As he works at folding the original flavor into the hook of this midtempo treatise on "love, hate, jealousy and betrayal," he's doing so with the help of "Eleanor Rigby."

Forty years and more after the Beatles changed rock music forever, their songs have truly arrived in the 21st century as part of the rap/hip-hop art form -- with the express permission of their publishers. Although there are hundreds of covers of "Yesterday," "Something" and the rest, this approach of "interpolation" -- essentially rerecording a portion of a song -- of the Beatles' compositions represents new access to the most famous catalogue in the world. These developments may ultimately signal a fresh attitude toward Beatles masters appearing in everything from commercials to movies.


But don't expect to hear samples of the Beatles' original recordings, which remain strictly under lock and key, for now at least. Instead Sony/ATV, which owns all but a handful of the Lennon/McCartney copyrights, is allowing a select few to license some celebrated compositions and reference them in their own, newly recorded material.

The first lucky participants in these interpolations are acts from the arena of hip-hop and rap, with Ja Rule joining Common -- who used "She's Leaving Home" on "Forever Begins" from his current album "Finding Forever" -- and Jay-Z, who commandeered "I Will" on "Encore" from his 2003 "The Black Album" and "Numb/Encore" on his 2004 collaboration "Collision Curse" with Linkin Park. Meanwhile, Wu-Tang licensed rights from Harrisongs, George Harrison's publisher, for "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."

Ja Rule's "Eleanor Rigby"-appropriating "Judas" will appear on his next album, "The Mirror," due in the first quarter, while the Wu's Harrison-referencing "The Heart Gently Weeps" is the first single from its new album "8 Diagrams," which came out December 11. The song features a re-created backing track plus electric guitar by the Red Hot Chili Peppers' John Frusciante as well as acoustic contributions from Dhani Harrison.

Sony/ATV chief executive Martin Bandier says he's very much in favor of licensing Beatles songs for things that haven't been licensed in the past -- under certain circumstances. Jay-Z, Common and Ja Rule received Sony/ATV's blessing because "they're prominent and well-regarded," Bandier says, but the way the song is used must also be acceptable.

"If Jay-Z interpolates a Beatles song and his album sells 2 million units, it doesn't change the economic structure" of the license deal, Bandier says. "It's wonderful to have that income, but we're more concerned about the possible repercussions of a bad message and something that we might not find tasteful."

The ever-sensitive nature of the Beatles' copyrights is reflected by the reluctance of several key players to participate in this story. Paul McCartney, Dhani Harrison, Jeff Jones (who became Apple Corps' new CEO in April) and EMI Music U.K. and Ireland chairman/CEO Tony Wadsworth were either "unavailable" or declined to comment.

In fact, Sony/ATV is not contractually required to obtain approval by John Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, or by McCartney before it can license the compositions, but Bandier says he believes there is a "moral obligation" to speak with them about licensing the songs. In the internecine history of the Beatles' publishing, Lennon and McCartney effectively lost control of the group's song rights even while the group was still a recording entity, in 1969.

That was when Northern Songs, the company established six years earlier solely to publish their joint compositions by English publisher Dick James and Beatles manager Brian Epstein, was sold to British media tycoon Lew Grade's ATV Music. Ownership of ATV subsequently passed to Australian entrepreneur Robert Holmes a Court and then, in 1985, to Michael Jackson.

In 1995, Sony came into the picture, forming a joint venture with trusts formed by Jackson, creating a new entity: Sony/ATV Music Publishing. That publishing company includes the Northern Songs catalogue that contains 259 copyrights by Lennon and McCartney. These songs essentially represent everything recorded under the Beatles name by Lennon and McCartney, except for five songs: their first two U.K. singles, "Love Me Do"/"P.S. I Love You" and "Please Please Me"/"Ask Me Why," and "Penny Lane," "gifted" by Jackson to Holmes a Court under a specific provision of Jackson's purchase of the ATV catalogue.


When it comes to the Beatles' original studio recordings, controlled by EMI-Capitol Records, permission is another matter. After Nike used the Beatles' original of "Revolution" in 1987 for its "Revolution in Motion" TV commercial campaign (in a licensing deal worth $250,000 to the label, according to Nike at the time), Apple Corps and Apple Records sued Nike, its advertising agency and EMI-Capitol for $15 million.

Paul Russell, former chairman of Sony/ATV Music Publishing, recalls, "Once Sony/ATV was formed, any requests for those songs came to Sony/ATV and not to Michael Jackson.

"(When) those requests came in, serious requests for serious money, for products that we knew were noncontentious, they would come to me and we would form a view, and then we'd go to Michael, even though he didn't have the right to approve it, and say, 'We've received this request, we think it's the right price and an OK use, what do you think?' If somebody had come back to us, either Michael or the Apple people, and said, 'We really don't want you to do this,' we probably wouldn't have done it."

According to a 1988 New York Times report, Apple's attorney Leonard Marks said that "Ono and the (then) three surviving Beatles each own 25% of Apple and that the company required 'unanimity among the four Beatles' interests in order to act.'"

In 1989, it was announced that the dispute had been resolved, in a formal statement that all outstanding lawsuits between the Beatles/Apple and EMI-Capitol-- some of them dating back 20 years -- had been settled. The parties agreed that no further Beatles recordings would be licensed for commercial use, although the Nike commercial can now be seen on YouTube.

Brian Southall, author of "Northern Songs: The True Story of the Beatles' Publishing Empire," published in August in the United States by Omnibus Press, says, "There aren't a lot of Lennon/McCartney songs that appear in adverts since the Nike ad. And you'll never, ever find the Beatles singing as a background to a TV commercial. You could take a song and get it recorded by 'A. N. Other.' But Michael (Jackson)'s attitude in the early days was, 'These are the greatest songs ever recorded, and they ain't gonna end up on a cornflakes ad.'"

Nevertheless, Ono was quoted by Time magazine at the time as saying the "Revolution" commercial was "making John's music accessible to a new generation." That's exactly how Bandier feels today about actively promoting the Beatles via licensing, and others agree that current commercial realities make the eventual appearance of their original recordings in commercials and films much more likely.

The type of licensing that's been the most contentious for music purists is for commercials. But a license for a Lennon/McCartney song -- albeit in a cover version -- not only drives revenue for the advertiser, publisher and writers, it can convey a message in the most powerful way.
Rob Kaplan, director of music production for New York-based advertising agency Mcgarrybowen, has been involved with three commercials using Lennon/McCartney songs licensed from Sony/ATV. In 1998, Europe-based Philips Consumer Electronics had very little brand recognition in the United States, Kaplan says. It was using the tag line, "Let's make things better," and wanted an anthemic song to unify its products and create a corporate identity.

"They needed something that was a big statement, that could cut across generations, was instantly recognizable but also kind of cool and clever," Kaplan says. Since the Beatles recording wasn't available, they had Gomez, then an emerging English band signed to Virgin, record the chorus to "Getting Better," the last seven seconds of which played at the end of every Philips commercial for about three years.

"We literally got thousands of requests from consumers wanting to know where to buy the song," Kaplan says.

Mcgarrybowen subsequently licensed Rufus Wainwright's recording of "Across the Universe" for Canon digital cameras in 2004, as well as a version of "All You Need Is Love" for Chase Bank's 2006 campaign for rewards programs and customized credit cards with partners including Marriott Hotels, Disney and Borders Books & Music.

"What makes a Beatles song special in advertising is that it's one of the few things that you know everybody is going to 'get,' no matter what," Kaplan says. "The lyrics are really clear. There are very few things that cut across every demographic imaginable and are still special. The Beatles really are. There's no comparison."

Such campaigns are even rarer in the Beatles' homeland but in 2000, U.K. bank Halifax used a cover of "Help!" in a six-month TV campaign.

"To get something as anthemic as 'Help!' was a massive coup," recalls Tim Male, the company's head of advertising and media. "We were very surprised when we got it, on the basis that artists like that aren't interested, or the process or cost of doing it makes it prohibitive.

"The thought of a Beatles track being used in anything is abhorrent to certain people," Male adds, "and you've got to be mindful of that."


Sony/ATV U.K. says that no applications for British commercial licenses of Beatles songs are in the works, and that the company will take its lead on potential recorded interpolations from the U.S. company. A London representative for Universal Music Publishing Group, which administers "Please Please Me" and "Ask Me Why," says, "We're very selective over any requests and uses of the songs. We would consider commercials if appropriate."

Bandier notes that the publisher's decision to grant a license for a Beatles song can be informed by whether it will take the composition to a new audience. Hence Luvs Diapers' current campaign, which proclaims, "All You Need Is Luvs."
"The thought and the song were ideal for morning TV, when young mothers are watching," Bandier says, adding that the commercial was being aired to young parents who may not know the song or have a sense of the theme. "We thought it was very tasteful."

Since Bandier joined Sony/ATV in March after leaving EMI Music Publishing -- which holds rights in Lennon's solo compositions -- he has strived to ensure that these classic songs reach the next generation of listeners in a myriad of ways, not just from their parents talking about them.

Seemingly the most successful venture to date is the Las Vegas show "Love," a joint production of Cirque du Soleil and Apple Corps using the original Beatles recordings, remixed by George Martin and son Giles. Since the show opened in June 2006, it has drawn more than 600,000 spectators and generated music publishing fees nearing $500,000 per month, according to a source close to the show. Worldwide sales of the accompanying "Love" album, released this time last year, stand at 5 million units, according to EMI in London.

Elsewhere, Beatles lyrics are appearing on clothing, after Sony/ATV sealed a deal with Lyric Culture authorizing use of the lyrics on jeans, T-shirts and other items. The publisher is negotiating other merchandising deals.

On the big screen, Julie Taymor's "Across the Universe" -- with a plot based on the Beatles songbook and a soundtrack featuring cover versions of Beatles classics -- was released this fall. It grossed about $24 million in the United States and Canada. (The soundtrack album also just received a Grammy Award nomination for best compilation soundtrack album for motion picture, television or other visual media.)

On TV, a special edition of NBC's "The Singing Bee" was recently dedicated to Lennon and McCartney, while the sixth season's final episode of "American Idol" was a Lennon, McCartney and the Beatles special, with the contestants all singing Beatles songs.

"In all of the years that 'American Idol' has been around, there's never been a Lennon and McCartney song performed on that show," Bandier says. "I thought it was preposterous. We were missing an audience of tens of millions of people.

"It's important that the world knows this music," Bandier adds. "It just can't be hidden forever, otherwise you're going to miss generations of music listeners."

Industry Rule #4080 in full effect - Radiohead frontman takes aim at EMI chief

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Radiohead has hit out at the chief of its former label after a news report claimed the rock band rejected a 3 million pound ($5.95 million) advance for its new album and demanded the rights to some of its older albums.

According to the report, published last Friday by The Times of London, Radiohead's demands to EMI Group chairman Guy Hands totaled more than 10 million pounds ($19.8 million).

In addition to the advance, the Times said the band also wanted a 3 million pound international marketing budget for the album, "In Rainbows," while the reversion of the rights to its previous two albums would have cost EMI 4 million pounds ($7.9 million) in future earnings.

The paper quoted an EMI spokesman as saying, "Radiohead were demanding an extraordinary amount of money and we did not believe that our other artists should have to subsidize their gains."

It also quoted the band's manager, Bryce Edge, as saying, "We were not seeking a big advance payment, or a guaranteed marketing spend as discussions never got that far."

The band's "extremely upset" frontman, Thom Yorke, took to the band's Web site on Monday to deny that it wanted "a load of cash" from EMI.

"What we wanted was some control over our work and how it was used in the future by them. That seemed reasonable to us, as we cared about it a great deal," Yorke wrote. He said Hands was not interested. "So, neither were we. We made the sign of the cross and walked away. Sadly."

Radiohead went on to release "In Rainbows," on the Web several months ago, and allowed fans to pay whatever they wanted to download it. Physical versions of the album were released in stores this week.

Directing his anger at Hands, Yorke added: "To be digging up such bull----, or more politely airing yer dirty laundry in public, seems a very strange way for the head of an international record label to be proceeding."

Representatives for EMI in London and New York were not available to comment Tuesday.

Hands' buyout firm Terra Firma Capital Partners agreed to buy EMI in May for 2.4 billion pounds ($4.8 billion). The financier has warned artists they could be dropped if they do not work hard enough for the company.