Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Ghostface Reveals The Wizard of Poetry Tracklist, Fall Tour Dates

(swiped from Pitchfork Media)

This month, two new albums will feature two very different versions of Ghostface Killah. Ghost is all over Raekwon's bleak and violent Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II, which came out yesterday. But come September 29, he'll release his R&B-themed The Wizard of Poetry. As Ghost himself told me last week (in a Pitchfork interview that'll run soon), The Wizard of Poetry is his "mature" album. This is still Ghostface, though, and as this totally NSFW preview for "Stapleton Sex" makes clear, he's not exactly in Bill Cosby mode here.

We've already shown you the album's incredible Oz-themed cover art, and now we've got the album's tracklist, which you can check out below. Worth noting: The only other rapper on the entire album is Fabolous. (That's unless you count Kanye West's turn on the "Back Like That" remix, which already appeared on Ghost's More Fish and is included on Wizard as a bonus track). There are a lot of guests here, but they're mostly slick R&B singers. Still, "Stapleton Sex".

After the album drops, Ghost will spend October touring U.S. clubs. Ghostface has one of the most searingly intense live shows in rap, so take note. Those dates are below.

The Wizard of Poetry:

01 Not Your Average Girl [ft. Shareefa]
02 Do Over [ft. Raheem "Radio" DeVaughn]
03 Baby [ft. Raheem "Radio" DeVaughn]
04 Lonely [ft. Jack Knight]
05 Stapleton Sex
06 Stay
07 Paragraphs of Love [ft. Vaughn Anthony and Estelle]
08 Guest House [ft. Fabolous and Shareefa]
09 Let's Stop Playin' [ft. John Legend]
10 Forever
11 I'll Be That [ft. Adrienne Bailon]
12 Goner [ft. Lloyd]
13 She's A Killah [ft. Ron Browz] *
14 Back Like That [ft. Ne-Yo and Kanye West] *

* bonus tracks

Ghostface Killah:

10-02 Albany, NY - Northern Lights
10-03 Philadelphia, PA - Trocadero
10-04 Carrboro, NY - Cat's Cradle
10-05 Charleston, SC - Music Farm
10-07 Ft. Lauderdale, FL - Revolution
10-09 Oxford, MS - Lyric
10-10 Baton Rouge, LA - Spanish Moon
10-11 Austin, TX - Emo's
10-13 Tucson, AZ - The Rock
10-14 Tempe, AZ - The Clubhouse
10-15 San Diego, CA - Canes
10-16 Los Angeles, CA Key Club
10-17 Santa Barbara, CA - Velvet Jones
10-19 Reno, NV - Club Underground
10-20 San Francisco, CA - Slim's
10-21 Arcata, CA - Arcata Theatre
10-22 Portland, OR - Berbati’s Pan
10-23 Eugene, OR - WOW Hall
10-24 Seattle, WA - Showbox
10-25 Bellingham, WA - Nightlight
10-28 Salt Lake City, UT - Urban Lounge
10-29 Aspen, CO - Belly Up
10-30 Denver, CO - Bluebird
10-31 Boulder, CO - Fox

Video: Raekwon: "Walk Wit Me"

After years of speculation about whether the thing even existed, Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II finally hit stores yesterday. Rae celebrated the occasion by taking to his Twitter and posting a link to a video for a song that's not even on the album.

It's not entirely clear why Rae spent what looks like a decent amount of money (by 2009 standards, anyway) shooting a video for "Walk Wit Me", an iTunes-only Cuban Linx II bonus cut. (At this point, though, Cuban Linx II is outselling Jay-Z's The Blueprint 3 at iTunes, so Rae is doing something right.)

It's not too easy to follow the video's narrative, but it seems to center around Rae and his accomplices killing off a series of drug-trade rivals in Hawaii. Mostly, though, it seems like a great excuse for a series of badass images of Rae scowling hard against an electric blue sky. I love the shot at 2:11, when Rae hides behind a newspaper, waiting for a mark in an elevator.

Check it out below:

Friday, September 04, 2009

DOWNLOAD: Orikal "Organized Grind Vol. 1"

Get it here. I'm also featured on it.

EDITORIAL: Maia’s Descent Is No Laughing Matter By D.L. Chandler

D.L Chandler is also Mash Comp of Dumhi and you can follow him on Twitter

Like many young men in the 1990s, I found actress Maia Campbell to be one of the more attractive young black starlets on television. Early on, I discovered that she hailed from the Greater Washington Metropolitan area just as I did and that factoid endeared me to her as well. Of late Maia Campbell has fallen out of the public eye, and has been unfairly ridiculed by her poor life choices fueled by her bout with Schizophrenia. The daughter of late bestselling author Bebe Moore Campbell, Maia found fame on the LL Cool J vehicle In The House. For 3 seasons, the show enjoyed some mild success and Maia Campbell was a prominent fixture of the sitcom. Once the show ended, Maia worked bit parts in television and small movies, but nothing more.

I am not going to play reporter here and try to guess what happened beyond that point. What I do know is that in the last three years, nude photos of an obviously inebriated Campbell and a very recent video of the actress has appeared on the Internet. The gossip blogs, Twitter, message boards and news outlets (such as The Examiner) have all had their say to the inner workings of Ms. Campbell’s fall. We don’t know what’s leading her down this path nor do we know if she’s ever had adequate help – at least as far as what’s been released publicly. However, what is quite telling is how much of my Twitter feed was filled with hurtful jokes about her condition. The blogs and their comment fields were also filled with the same insensitive and lame commentary found in the linked Examiner piece above.

I immediately felt sorrow for Maia Campbell after viewing the video and wanted nothing more than to protect her. It triggered an almost instinctive brotherly reaction. It was if I saw my little sister on that screen and just wanted to snatch that camera away from her antagonist and whisk her away. There wasn’t anything humorous about this scenario. There wasn’t a reason to make this a Twitter topic of the day. It didn’t have to become this ugly display of humanity – anonymous keyboard cowards levying all types of hurtful, insensitive words towards Maia. I’ve just read that there’s a prayer campaign for Maia Campbell and that’s great. I’m not a religious person but this is obviously a step in the right direction so I support it fully.

Many of us know a Maia Campbell, a young person lost to their own devices and lacking the help, love and care needed to rise above whatever demons ails them. Are we to look at Maia Campbell with pity or are we to act when we see this pattern in our respective cities and towns? What did you truly feel when you saw Maia in that state? What would you do if you saw it? Are you witnessing something of this nature now? Are you out there helping to prevent more lost souls? Are you content with reading the insensitive comments and hashtags on Twitter? I know I’m not. I know that any time I can help a person – young or old – I’m going to give whatever time I can spare. I don’t see how we can look at this as a laughing matter. Moreover, for those of you that I know who choose to see humor in such a sad situation, you’ve lost a huge chunk of my respect.

Monday, August 31, 2009

MUSIC: Raekwon "10 Bricks" (featuring Ghostface Killah & Cappadonna)

(swiped from Pitchfork Media)

While expectations for Jay-Z's The Blueprint 3 have steadily dwindled, expecations for Raekwon's forthcoming Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II has shifted in the opposite direction. Following the leak of "House of Flying Daggers" we get another J Dilla production, "10 Bricks", a hard-grinding get-money knocker with verses by Ghostface Killah and Cappadonna that plays like an uncut dose of lay-low street magic. Like "Daggers", everyone here seems to be well within their comfort zone, hitting the track Wu-Tang attack-style, armed to the teeth with hard-nosed revenge vignettes and bruising spit. Most of the real burners we've heard off this thing have played it pretty close to the chest in this respect: the features are almost exclusively Shaolin-affiliated, with the content and delivery brimming with grimy panache. But on more and more of these Cuban Linx II cuts, Raekwon himself ends up walking away with top honors; he doesn't always nab the big one-liner, but his presence on these songs is irrefutably huge.

"Meanwhile, back on the block we see two trucks/ Then the windows roll down, we see these two fucks/ As soon as they jump out, see these tools bust," Cappadonna sneers over Dilla's vintage snares, gaunt orchestral flourishes, and a whiny guitar loop that imitates a tortured Chinese harp suite. Cap's in rare form, bookended by Rae's trademark blow blow-by-blow (almost impenetrably slung) and a ferociously-amped Ghost. What's great about "10 Bricks" is how fearless and energized these bars are, transforming otherwise lightweight-jabs ("Knock the ash off the blunt for front-niggas who cunt") into something potently formidable. This music is confident, not cocky: Ghost's admission of having "a team of niggas movin' my furs" should be obtusely funny, not tangibly intimidating. How does that work? Underestimate Cuban Linx II at your own peril.

The Top 50 Music Videos of the 2000s

Go check out the hotness.

Friday, August 28, 2009

VIDEO: The Foreign Exchange feat. Muhsinah "House of Cards"

The Foreign Exchange feat. Muhsinah - "House Of Cards" from The Foreign Exchange on Vimeo.

From the album "Leave It All Behind" out now.

AWESOME: Ghostface Killah Unveils Absurd Wizard of Poetry Cover

(swiped from Pitchfork Media)

The leaks we've heard from Ghostface Killah's forthcoming R&B-themed album The Wizard of Poetry haven't exactly been encouraging; first single "Baby" straight-up sucks. But I have to say, I'm considerably more amped to hear the finished product now that I know it's going to take place in some futuristic utopian Oz.

The Wizard of Poetry comes out September 29 on Def Jam. Buy the vinyl so you can stare at that cover all day.

Blackalicious's Gift of Gab Readies Solo LP

(swiped from Pitchfork Media)

The Cali rapper Gift of Gab has put in well more than a decade of work with the backpack-rap institution Blackalicious, but up until now he's only released one solo album, 2004's awesomely titled 4th Dimensional Rocketships Going Up. On October 27, he'll finally drop the follow-up LP Escape to Mars via Cornerstone Recording Arts Society.

That's the album cover above, and for some reason it looks almost exactly like the cover of the forthcoming album from metal supergroup Shrinebuilder if Dr. Manhattan teleported it to Mars. Seriously.

Anyway, Escape 2 Mars will feature a collaboration with fellow underground rap heavyweights Brother Ali and Del the Funky Homosapien. Gab's Quannum compatriot Lateef the Truth Speaker will also stop by. You can download one track, the vaguely Latin-inflected workout "El Gifto Magnifico", right here, and the tracklist is below.

Escape 2 Mars:

02 El Gifto Magnifico
03 Lightyears
04 Dreamin' [ft. Del the Funky Homosapien & Brother Ali]
05 In Las Vegas
06 Escape 2 Mars
07 Electric Waterfalls
08 Richman, Poorman
09 Someofthepeople
10 Spotlight
11 Rhyme Travel
12 Dreamin' (Aqua Sawtooth Remix) *

* Vinyl-only bonus track

Friday, August 21, 2009

Kraftwerk Announce Massive Eight-Disc Box Set, Reissue Series

(swiped from Pitchfork Media)

Kraftwerk, the German legends that pretty much invented electronic pop music as we know it, are due to reissue eight of their albums in a massive box set called 12345678: The Catalogue. Five of the albums will also be reissued as individual titles.

The box is due October 6 in the U.S. from EMI. That's the cover art above. It'll feature the following discs: 1974's Autobahn, 1975's Radio-Activity, 1977's stone classic Trans-Europe Express, 1978's The Man Machine, 1981's Computer World, 1986's Techno Pop, the 1991 remix comp The Mix, and 2003's Tour De France. (The band's first three albums are not included.)

We can argue about those last three LPs all day, but the first five are total pantheon material, huge influences on everyone from David Bowie to Afrika Bambaataa to Daft Punk to basically anybody that ever made dance music in the past four decades. Kraftwerk have remastered these albums themselves, so they should sound great.

Licensing issues prevent EMI from reissuing Computer World, Techno Pop, or The Mix in the U.S. as individual titles. So if you want those, you'll have to spring for the full box. The other five albums will be available on CD, vinyl, or digital download. The box set will be available on CD only.

Gargantuan Miles Davis Box Set Due

(swiped from Pitchfork Media)

During his tenure at Columbia Records, Miles Davis recorded an awe-inspiring 52 albums. Pretty soon, you'll be able to own all of them in one gigantic box that will probably be heavy enough to kill someone.

On November 10, Columbia/Legacy will release The Complete Columbia Album Collection. The box will include (seriously) 70 CDs and one DVD, and somehow it's that one DVD that makes the whole thing look like overkill.

The DVD is Live in Europe '67, which will be on DVD for the first time ever with this set. The set will also include a previously unreleased live recording of Davis's performance at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival.

According to Legacy, the CDs will all come in "Japanese-styled mini LP jackets", which sounds cool. The CDs will include bonus tracks that have been tacked on to Davis reissues over the years. There will also be a 250-page book.

The whole massive brick of a thing will be available exclusively from Amazon, and it'll run you $369.98, which is kind of a bargain. That's about five bucks a disc!

Dizzee Rascal Reveals Bonkers New LP

(swiped from Pitchfork Media)

Grime veteran Dizzee Rascal has a British hit right now with the unbelievably goofy Armand Van Helden collab "Bonkers", so it's no surprise that his new album is right around the corner. Tongue N' Cheek, the new LP, will come out September 21 in the UK via Dizzee's own Dirtee Stank label. The cover, which looks like Dizzee dreaming cartoon clouds of cotton candy, is above. Dizzee just revealed the tracklist on his MySpace, and it's below.

None of this colorful silliness is exactly what we've come to expect from the guy who made some of the fiercest, most desperate music of the past decade. There is, after all, a reason why Def Jux released his last album in the U.S. But Dizzee's given us three great albums already, so if he wants to cut loose a bit, who are we to quibble?

Dizzee will spend the rest of the year on tour around the UK. The new single "Holiday" will be out August 24 in the man's homeland.

Tongue N' Cheek:

01 Bonkers
02 Road Rage
03 Dance Wiv Me
04 Freaky Freaky
05 Can't Tek Me No More
06 Chillin Wiv Da Man Dem
07 Dirtee Cash
08 Money Money Money
09 Leisure
10 Holiday
11 Bad Behaviour

VIDEO: Busdriver "Me Time (With the Pulmonary Palimpsets)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

GZA, Bun B, Talib Kweli, Wale on Peter Bjorn and John Hip-Hop Mixtape

(swiped from Pitchfork Media)

Ever since Kanye West blew blog minds by rapping over "Young Folks" two years ago, Peter Bjorn and John have become the go-to indie band for rappers looking to cross over to the indie rock world. Cue mixtape maven Mick Boogie, who worked with PB&J directly on the forthcoming free mixtape Re-Living Thing.

The mix pairs MCs including Bun B, Wale, Rhymefest, GZA, and Three 6 Mafia with reworked versions of tracks from the Swedish band's latest LP, Living Thing, according to an MTV report. Remixers include Jazzy Jeff, the Kickdrums, and Apple Juice Kid. Get a taste for the project with a remake of "Nothing to Worry About" featuring Wale right here.

Re-Living Thing hits this thing called the internet on August 27. Check out a partial list of songs and guests to be included on the tape below:

Re-Living Thing:

J. Cole and GZA: "The Feeling" (remixed by Marco Polo)
Kardinal Offishall, Donnis, and Heno: "It Just Don't Move Me" (remixed by Jet Audio)
Big Sean and Black Milk: "Just The Past" (remixed by nVMe)
Wale, Young Chris, and Rhymefest: "Nothing To Worry About" (remixed by the Kickdrums)
Bun B: "Losing My Mind" (remixed by 6th Sense)
Freebass 808 and Amanda Blank: "Living Thing" (remixed by Apple Juice Kid)
Talib Kweli: "I Want You" (remixed by William Russell / Good Life Mike)
Three 6 Mafia and Trouble Andrew: "Lay It Down" (remixed by the Kickdrums)
Big Pooh, Chaundon, and Phil Nash: "Stay This Way" (remixed by Jazzy Jeff)
Naledge and Mickey Factz: "Blue Period Picasso" (remixed by nVMe)
88 Keys, Outasight, and 6th Sense: "4 Out Of 5" (remixed by 6th Sense)
U-N-I: "Last Night" (remixed by Remot)

RJD2 Launches His Own Label

(swiped from Pitchfork Media)

It's been a minute since we've heard anything from the Philly-based indie rap producer and (more recently) singer-songwriter RJD2, but that doesn't mean the man hasn't been busy. In a mammoth post on his MySpace blog today, RJ lets the world know exactly what he's been up to. RJ now has his very own record label, RJ's Electrical Connections. And the first artist on the label is RJ himself, which probably made for some easy contract negotiations. Writes RJ: "I am now a free agent, working for myself."

To celebrate his new label's existence, this week RJ digitally reissued a ton of rare material. On Tuesday, Your Face or Your Kneecaps, In Rare Form, and Things Go Better Instrumentals, three comps' worth of B-sides and rarities that RJ previously put out on his old imprint Bustown Pride, were released digitally for the first time via RJ's Electrical Connections. Your Face or Your Kneecaps features two previously unreleased bonus tracks. Right-click here to download "Find You Out" from Your Face or Your Kneecaps.

On October 20, RJ's Electrical Connections will drop a huge vinyl-only box set on the world. RJD2 2002-2010 will include the LPs of vintage RJD2 releases Deadringer, The Horror EP, and Since We Last Spoke, as well as The Tin Foil Hat EP, which contains seven new, unreleased songs. (No The Third Hand, but maybe that's for the best.) RJ also promises "a hand silk-screened, signed and numbered poster, a download card for exclusive treats, plus a beautifully printed box." That's a lot of RJD2!

Finally, RJ also reports that he's done recording his next full-length, The Colossus. He says it'll be out "early this winter", but he hints that this means 2010, not 2009.

VIDEO: Jay-Z "Run This Town" (Featuring Kanye West & Rihanna)

(swiped from Pitchfork Media)

Jay-Z's "Run This Town" single didn't exactly send the world into frothing Blueprint 3 anticipation. But director Anthony Mandler's video, while no "Big Pimpin'", is a lot of fun in that old-school MTV spectacle sort of way.

Rihanna in a ninja mask and garter belt! Kanye West spinning around! Molotov cocktails! Bullet belts! Flaming torches! Castle hallways! Smashed car windows!

Also, Jay's bandanna/trenchcoat combo makes him look like a Juggalo, which is funny. Check it all out below (Via OnSMASH).

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Beirut, DOOM, Frightened Rabbit Added to Pitchfork Music Festival

(swiped from Pitchfork Media)

Also added: Lindstrøm, DJ/Rupture, Ponytail, the Mae Shi, Dianogah

Just when you thought the lineup for the 2009 Pitchfork Music Festival couldn't get any better... it just did! We're proud to announce the addition of a whole bunch of excellent artists to the fest, which goes down July 17-19 in Chicago's Union Park. And they are: Globetrotting wunderkind Beirut, masked MC DOOM, Scottish heartbreakers Frightened Rabbit, space disco master Lindstrøm, shape-shifting beatsmith DJ/Rupture, Baltimore art-punks Ponytail, spazz-poppers the Mae Shi, and Chicago post-rockers Dianogah.

As you know, previously announced 2009 Pitchfork Music Festival artists include the Flaming Lips, the National, Grizzly Bear, M83, the Walkmen, Yeasayer, Pharoahe Monch, and many more.

Also, on Friday, July 17, we'll launch the "Write the Night: Set Lists by Request" series, in which four bands will all play fan-selected set lists. Here's how it works: You, the audience, vote on which songs all four bands-- Built to Spill, the Jesus Lizard, Yo La Tengo, and Tortoise-- will play. When you buy your ticket, you'll get a confirmation email. That confirmation email will include a link to a page where you can vote on which songs from each band you want to hear. The bands will tailor their set lists accordingly. (Also worth mentioning: This will be the Jesus Lizard's first American show in a decade.) Voting ends June 12.

Plus: There are still many more bands to come.

Tickets for the 2009 Pitchfork Music Festival are on sale now.

2009 Pitchfork Music Festival schedule (so far):

Friday, July 17

"Write the Night: Set Lists by Request"

Built to Spill
The Jesus Lizard
Yo La Tengo

Saturday, July 18

The National
Beirut *
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Fucked Up
Plants and Animals
Matt and Kim
Lindstrøm *
Ponytail *

Charles Hamilton
The Duchess and The Duke

Sunday, July 19

The Flaming Lips
Grizzly Bear
The Walkmen
Pharoahe Monch
Blitzen Trapper
Frightened Rabbit *
The Mae Shi *
Black Lips
The Very Best
Vivian Girls

Dianogah *

* Just added

Monday, March 16, 2009

Beasties Reissue Campaign Continues With Check Your Head

(swiped from Pitchfork Media)

Last month's 10.0 Paul's Boutique reissue made a lot of sense considering it was the album's 20th anniversary and all. But the upcoming tricked-out revamp of Check Your Head isn't quite as traditionally timely-- it's been, er, 17 years since the Beastie Boys' return-to-instruments funk fest hit Tower Records locations across the country.

This seemingly hasty, multi-tiered release-- expanded digital editions out March 30, expanded CD and vinyl editions out April 7, super duper expanded vinyl edition out soon after that-- continues Capitol/EMI's apparent 2009 business strategy, i.e., re-release everything they ever put out in any and all ways possible (see: all those Radiohead repackagings coming your way). They already redid last year's Coldplay album. I'm shocked they haven't gotten around to a Katy Perry reboot-- what are you guys waiting for?

The death of the compact disc (and, you know, the notion of paying for music in general) is sorta depressing, but it brings us this reissue, which should at least satiate those annoying Check Your Head=Best Beasties Album die-hards for a few months. Check Your Head isn't Paul's Boutique, but it still holds up well-- a vintage "Arsenio Hall Show" performance of "So What'cha Want" currently streaming on the trio's site reiterates a fact current high schoolers may not be aware of: these dudes were mean on the microphone. Very mean. Super mean. Especially Ad-Rock.

Some details on the Check Your Head relaunch: The crown jewel of this campaign is a limited edition quadruple 180 gram LP version with a "fabric-wrapped hardcover coffee table book case," according to a press release. They're calling it the "ultra-deluxe" version and it will cost a lot of money. For those of us not profiting from AIG bonuses, there's the standard double vinyl, digital download and double CD versions, each featuring a host of B-sides. A deluxe digital edition offers videos and video commentary, too.

All of these new products put the Beastie Boys in an odd position between reliving the past and trying to stay present, especially since they're due to release their first (real) album in five years this fall. They'll attempt to strike a balance when they hit Bonnaroo June 12 and headline the Hollywood Bowl for the first time September 24.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Roots to Back Public Enemy Playing Nation of Millions at Philly Festival

(swiped from Pitchfork Media)

When Jimmy Fallon announced late last year that the venerable rap band the Roots would serve as the house band for his late night NBC talk show, he set off all sorts of alarm bells. The Roots arguably remain the most dependable live act in rap, and their last album, 2008's Rising Down, was a taught, simmering workout, a great sign that the band would remain adaptable in a changing rap climate. What, exactly, would they have to gain in playing backup for this giggling cheeseball?

Turns out we shouldn't have worried. Fallon's tenure on "Late Night" so far has been a bit awkward, but it's also been more consistently entertaining than anyone could've hoped, and the Roots are a huge part of the reason why. Fallon's found ways to integrate them completely into the fabric of the show, building bits around their limber chops. And when Ludacris stopped by the show, holy shit.

And even if the Roots aren't tearing up the road the way they did for years, it's not like they've put a stop to their regular activities. As we reported last month, they're still holding down a regular residency at New York's Highline Ballroom, bandleader ?uestlove has a regular DJ gig at (Le) Poisson Rouge, and, if ?uesto's Twitter is to be believed, they're also working on a new album called How I Got Over. If that wasn't enough, Billboard has just revealed the lineup of the band's second Roots Picnic festival, and it is no joke.

The Roots Picnic will go down on June 6 at Festival Pier in the band's native Philadelphia. The band will play two sets at the festival, opening and closing the festival. And as Billboard reports, along with Antibalas, they will also back Public Enemy-- another one of the greatest live rap groups ever-- as they do their masterpiece It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back in its entirety.

P.E. has done Nation of Millions straight through at a few previous shows, including last year's Pitchfork Music Festival, but they've never done it with the Roots playing behind them. Considering how hard both groups bring it live, it boggles the mind to think about what they'll be able to do together. At the very least, it'll be fun to see the Roots' human beatboxes replicate the Bomb Squad's siren noises.

As Billboard reports, on March 16, Public Enemy will also stop by "Late Night" to perform with the Roots, so we'll get some indication of how that'll sound.

The rest of the Picnic's lineup is also ridiculously strong. TV on the Radio, the Black Keys, and Santigold will all perform on the main stage. And as Billboard reports, so will the Pipes, a new band that apparently features both Lenny Kravitz's daughter Zoe and the great L.A. speed-rapper Busdriver. Should be weird! Two great old-school Philly DJs, Jazzy Jeff and Cash Money, will spin records between bands. There will also be a second stage with Asher Roth, Kid Cudi, Busdriver, Making Time, Back to Basics, and Writtenhouse.

Bun B Talks About the Final UGK Album

(swiped from Pitchfork Media)

Two years ago, the beloved Texas rap duo UGK released Underground Kingz, their first-ever #1 on the Billboard 200. It was their first album since rapper/producer Pimp C had finished serving a lengthy prison term, and Jive Records, the group's label, had pushed its release back so many times that at many points it felt like it would never come out. So the album's success felt like a vindication, a happy ending.

It didn't last.

Six months after the release of Underground Kingz, Pimp C died in a Los Angeles hotel room, after the cough syrup he'd been drinking reacted badly with his sleep apnea. Bun B, Pimp's partner in UGK, soldiered on after his death, releasing the solo album II Trill last year. And last month, we reported that Bun was putting the finishing touches on a final UGK album. Jive will release that album, 4 Life, on March 31.

We spoke with Bun about the final UGK album, his forthcoming barrage of guest appearances, and the UGK goodbye shows he's planning in a select few cities. He is, as ever, a hell of an interview.

I interviewed you about a year ago, and you'd mentioned that you were going to do this UGK project. That was the first I'd heard of it. What's it been like getting the album together?

Bun B: As far as putting it together, I didn't have to do too much running around and chasing around. A lot of the music-- and all of Pimp C's vocals, naturally-- had been laid prior to his passing away. Some of the songs were fully recorded, like from top to bottom, mixed and mastered. Some of them were done only halfway, maybe a verse from him and a verse from me. Some of them were just the Pimp C structure, and we had to build the rest of the song around it.

Pitchfork: Did he leave behind a lot of unfinished work?

BB: I can't really speak to the number of it because-- I think this is key for me to mention-- I don't control the music. I don't have the Pimp C catalogue. The estate owns, controls, and chooses how to distribute everything that's Pimp C's, that has anything to do with Pimp C. So with this album, most of these songs were supposed to go to UGK anyway. It was just a matter of getting it all there for the UGK situation because there were songs for UGK, there were songs for a solo album, there were features he had done that were outstanding. It was just a matter of getting everybody the right music.

Pitchfork: Was it a concern to make the album fit together cohesively as an album? Every previous UGK album has been planned out with a kind of narrative arc.

BB: Yeah, absolutely. The theme for this album had already been set-- pretty much everything except the title. It was going to be a continuation of the themes and context we were trying to get across from the last double album. It was really about re-shaping the thinking of the way cats is doing what they're doing. Somewhere along the line, the G-Code got twisted, so it was really just about implementing the basic rules of the street back into the game and just being smart about how you move forward. A lot of that is basically what this album is about. For me, UGK has never been the kind to just make two good singles and that's it. We've always relied on the album to sell the group, as opposed to a single. It definitely was a concern for me that if I couldn't make an album... I didn't want to just put 12 songs out, you know what I mean? I had to make an album that was going to sit on the shelf next to the other albums, or I wasn't going to do it.

Yeah, you guys have absolutely never half-assed it in terms of full-lengths. Underground Kingz is an album that I love, but the one thing that was jarringly different about it was the amount of production that didn't come from Pimp and wasn't necessarily of his aesthetic, if that makes sense.

BB: Absolutely. One thing that Pimp used to always talk about was that he felt selfish. And I never understood that because I always felt like I was getting the best beats from the best producer. But Pimp always felt like he was being selfish to the point where, if I kept rapping to Pimp C beats, I would never be able to evolve as an artist. So he would go out of his way to try and incorporate other music to help me branch out more and expand myself more as a lyricist. The whole point of getting the Swizz Beatz track was not my idea. It was Pimp C's idea, because he wanted to hear me on a Swizz Beatz track. He was like, "Man, I just want to buy you a Swizz Beatz track; I know you'll kill that shit." All the dudes that are considered great rappers, they all eventually go in on a Just Blaze or a Swizz Beatz track, making those monumental records. He just wanted to give me the opportunity to make a monumental record.

Pitchfork: Is the new album put together in a similar way, with a bunch of different producers?

BB: Not so much with the different producers. The people who produced this UGK album are all the proteges that Pimp C was working with, his own production collective. A lot of them produced on the last album, so you have Cory Mo, Averexx-- who co-produced with [Pimp] on the last album-- and DJ B-Doe as well: People who he was trying to pass his sound along to to be the next generation of production from our team. It was the best chance I had of trying to keep the UGK sound intact.

Did Pimp do "Da Game Been Good to Me"?

BB: He co-produced it.

Pitchfork: That is a beautiful song. It just sounds so warm and full. I didn't realize until Pimp died and all these articles about him came out, how musically involved he was with every beat he did, to the extent that he would get members of the Meters to play on songs when he didn't like the way the sample turned out.

The thing was, he wanted to do things with the utmost respect. And it got to the point where he was trying to find someone to recreate the sound but he couldn't find anybody he felt was doing it justice. We happened to have people who were connected to people who had a line to the Neville family. So using those connections, we were able to actually reach out and make contact, and [Meters guitarist Leo Nocentelli] was actually willing to come-- and not just play on the album, but play his world-famous guitar licks, recreating them for us. It's almost unheard of. That's only a testament to Pimp C's dedication to-- and passion for-- music and knowledge.

People do not give themselves or their intellectual properties over to the younger generation, especially the hip-hop generation. A lot of times they assume a lack of knowledge as to what they're choosing to use. Most kids will just say, "That's a nice keyboard," but it takes a real musician to know that he's using a Hammond B-3 organ. It's the subtle differences like that that musicians respect. If you're going to approach these people, that's the kind of context you need to have, and Pimp was very good at letting people know that he understood their sound and their music, had a great respect for their catalogue, and wasn't trying to rape their catalogue, was trying to create something unique through what they had created. People understood that.

Pitchfork: Just looking at the tracklist of the new album, there are songs on here that I cannot wait to hear. Like the song with E-40, B-Legit, and 8Ball & MJG-- that's a titantic lineup. I hope it's like 12 minutes long.

BB: [laughs] We had to cut it down. I think it tops out at about four or five minutes. Actually, you know what? I think that song might be six minutes. It's not a little song. It's a big boy song. You know, if you've been following UGK for the past 15-17 years, then you're probably fans of E-40, B-Legit, and 8Ball & MJG as well, because we all come from the same era. To me, that's just a little bit extra for you. If you're fans of UGK, you're probably fans of these guys, too. Wouldn't you like to hear us all on one record? This has been a dream. Everyone involved with the record wanted to hear this record. It just all came together.

Pitchfork: Also, to hear Lil Boosie and Webbie on a UGK record, that's also something I'm really excited about. They're proteges of Pimp's...

BB: Oh, absolutely. The only reason I wouldn't say that that they could possibly be UGK is they don't produce. That's the only thing holding them back from being one of the great tandems. But just the same, they're still incredible talents, and they're going to leave with footprints in the hip-hop sand.

Pitchfork: When this album is out there in the world, what's next for you?

BB: The next thing for me is lending my support to the Pimp C solo album, which comes after this. And then once that's done, I'll start recording my next solo album.

Pitchfork: Are you going to tour solo on this album or anything like that?

BB: On the UGK album? Not in the traditional sense. We're going to put together a couple of tribute concerts in the top couple of markets to try and bring a celebration to the people who have been supporting UGK all this time in the very truest sense ... No disrespect to everyone else. It's not like just because ten people bought it in a small town that those ten people don't love us any less than 50,000 people who bought it in Houston. We're going to try and bring it to the biggest selection of people that we can at the same time who support the movement.

Pitchfork: Where are you going to do these shows?

BB: Probably Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, and then two more cities picked out of Chicago, St. Louis, Memphis, and Cleveland.

Pitchfork: I hope you do one in Chicago.

BB: Chicago's looking pretty good-- I'll be honest. They've always been really strong supporters of UGK.

Pitchfork: When Pimp was imprisoned and you were working by yourself to keep the UGK name alive, you went on this incredible tear of guest appearances that didn't really seem to abate for years. In the past year or so since II Trill came out, you haven't been doing quite as many verses on other people's records. Do you miss that?

BB: No, I really just devoted myself more to [4 Life]. I didn't take too much time giving myself over to other projects. I tried to devote as much of myself to this album as possible; I felt that it deserved my utmost attention and that it should be top priority. The best way for me to keep UGK going in this sense was to make the best UGK album I could possibly put together, whereas in the past, the best way to keep the UGK movement going was to expose myself to as many major markets as possible.

Pitchfork: Is that something you want to get back into?

Bun B: I'll be all over the place in about five minutes. I'm on [Raekwon's] Cuban Linx 2 album, I'm on the Blackout 2 album with Red and Meth, I'm on the X-Clan album, I'm on the new Drake mixtape, I'm on Currency's new mixtape, I did two songs with Uncle Murda, I'm doing something on Reflection Eternal's album, I'm on Shawty Lo's album, I'm on... Fuck, I can't even think of all the shit I'm on.

Pitchfork: You're on the new X-Clan album? How did something like that come together?

BB: I met Brother J when X-Clan opened for Public Enemy on their tour last year. We're both mutual fans of each other. He's an incredible songwriter, always has been. He asked me if I'd be interested and it was my honor.

Pitchfork: Wow. What newer rappers are you liking right now?

BB: That's a good question. There's so many great young talents that I hate to just pick one. I deal with a lot of them. If there's anybody I felt had potential to be a legend right now, I'd pick Killer Mike. I think Killer Mike has the potential to make some of the most impactful music that anybody is going to make in the next couple of years.

Pitchfork: Wow. Are you going to do some work with him anytime soon?

BB: Oh, yeah-- I'm on that album, too.

Pitchfork: I wanted to ask you about appearing in the video for "My President Is Black". That's obviously a huge song, and my friend pointed out your moment in that video, the way you look at the camera. I hope you don't mind if I ask this, but were you close to tears when you filmed that? Because it kind of looks that way.

BB: You're probably the first person to have noticed that. Your friend actually is, I guess. That's very acute. Yes, it was emotional. You have to understand, Jeezy and I have a very long friendship. And just being very real about everything with him, the complications between himself and Pimp, it caused friction in our relationship as well, by due process. Not that I had issues with him or he had issues with me, but it was obvious that something was in the middle. He's made a very sincere effort to try to... I don't want to say reconcile, because we didn't have a problem, but he's made a very real effort to reach out and show that he's never any different about me, regardless of what has happened. I hate to even bring it up, because it's really a dead issue, but it's the reality of it, and there's no sense in acting like it didn't happen.

What happened between him and Pimp happened, but the situation was being squashed between them when [Pimp passed away]. There's no bad blood; there's no grudges. Pimp would always say he never had anything personal against Jeezy; it was just something that he felt about something. Pimp was known for sometimes saying very honest, very outlandish shit in the moment; he'd normally have to come back and apologize for it. This was another one of those instances. Because of the people involved and the level of intensity, it just seemed like a really big issue. At the end of the day, we're all grown men. None of us are small; none of us are petty. Prior to his passing, Pimp was talking about making peace and moved on. Jeezy was talking about making peace and moved on. It's all good, and for us to make a video and stand together and acknowledge Pimp was a beautiful thing for people to see. I really do consider Jeezy one of my close friends. I'm really happy for everything that's happened for him and all his success.

Pitchfork: So the emotion of that moment was more about Jeezy's acknowledgment of Pimp on that song than it was about Obama?

BB: People don't understand that that's very real, what he's talking about when he says, "It's all love, Bun / I'm forgiving you, Pimp C." It's very real. People know what he's saying and know what it's attributed to, but they don't understand how real that is. Very few people nowadays, especially in the urban community... Very seldom do you see people forgive people and leave it like that. It's usually protocol to try and hold a grudge forever. He was a very big man for trying to acknowledge that he wasn't. Because he didn't have to, especially on a song like that which was bound to be a major song. But that shows the effort he wanted to make to show everyone it wasn't an issue. God bless him for it.

VIDEO (WTF): Rappin' For Regulatin' Genes

(Reuters) Mar. 12 - Combine two biologists with mad love for rap and you get "Regulatin' Genes" - a parody of Jay-Z's "Money Ain't a Thing" with a highly specific explanation as to how we evolved.

Tom McFadden, an instructor in the human biology department at Stanford University and Derrick David, a junior, strut around the campus replete with poses while wearing baggy khakis, hoodies, baseball hats and sunglasses while singing about how a fertilized egg develops into a complex organism.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

VIDEO: Big Zach In The Lab

You can check Zach @ Last of the Record Buyers on 3/19 at the Dinkytowner.

More can be found here.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The 2009 Pitchfork Music Festival Starting Lineup!

(swiped from Pitchfork Media)

Last week, we announced that the fourth annual Pitchfork Music Festival would jump off at Chicago's lovely Union Park July 17-19. If the mere fact that our festival is happening again wasn't enough to convince you to save the date and book any necessary flights, this should. We can now announce a few of the bands who will play this year's fest, as well as a truly badass new feature.

First, the schedule:

Friday, July 17

Built to Spill
The Jesus Lizard
Yo La Tengo

Saturday, July 18

The National
Pharoahe Monch
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
+ many more!

Sunday, July 19

Grizzly Bear

The Walkmen
Vivian Girls
+ many more!

OK. Now. In past years, we've booked our Friday night lineups by teaming up with All Tomorrow's Parties and their "Don't Look Back" series, presenting bands playing classic albums all the way through. Last year, Public Enemy performed It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, and Sonic Youth performed Daydream Nation in 2007.

This year, we're doing something different.

Starting on Friday night, we're kicking off a new series called "Write the Night: Set Lists by Request." You, the audience, vote on which songs all four bands-- Built to Spill, the Jesus Lizard, Yo La Tengo, and Tortoise-- will play. It'll work like this: When you buy your ticket, you'll get a confirmation email. That confirmation email will include a link to a page where you can vote on which songs from each band you want to hear. The bands will tailor their set lists accordingly. Oh, and did we mention this is the Jesus Lizard's first American show in a decade? Righteous, yes?

Tickets go on sale March 13, and voting starts the same day. Voting ends June 12.

Of course, we'll announce a ton more bands in the coming months.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Pitchfork Music Festival 2009!

(swiped from Pitchfork Media)

Drum roll: The fourth annual Pitchfork Music Festival will take place in Chicago July 17-19. So cancel that "screw the recession" European vacation ASAP-- it's not worth it. The Pitchfork Music Festival, on the other hand, is definitely worth it. Not like we're biased or anything. The three-day fest will once again take place at Chicago's lovely Union Park, so get ready to gawk at the coolest sunglasses you've ever seen while soaking in the finest music known to man...on earth...and in space. It will be mega.

Tickets go on sale Friday, March 13.

I know what you're thinking: "So which incredibly awesome bands are going to be there this year?" Slow down. We can't give everything away at once. Stay tuned to this space for a regular stream of festival updates in the coming weeks. While you're waiting, go ahead and check out Deerhunter's Bradford Cox performing with Spoon from last year's show or Girl Talk doing that thing he does with special guests Grizzly Bear at the '07 fest over at

But feel free to circle and/or highlight July 17, 18, and 19 on your cat-a-day calendar this very second.

Kanye West Bashes Thom Yorke, Defends Chris Brown

(swiped from Pitchfork Media)

Man, Kanye West's episode of VH1's "Storytellers" is going to be so awesome. When you combine this guy's passion for eye-popping stagecraft with his tendency to say insane things, you end up with some real appointment viewing. We've already seen the version of "Stronger" that'll air, and it wrecks. And we still have high hopes, even though Reuters has reported on some amazing stuff that won't make it to the air. According to Reuters, VH1 has cut a couple of classic Kanye tirades: One dissing Radiohead and another defending Chris Brown. (Via Stereogum.)

One of Kanye's anecdotes concerned Thom Yorke, who West loves. As a Radiohead fan, West puts half the Pitchfork staff to shame. On the mixtape track "Us Placers", Kanye, alongside Lupe Fiasco and Pharrell, rapped over a sample of Yorke's solo track "The Eraser". And when he talked to The Fader last fall, Kanye described the sound of "Love Lockdown" as "Thom Yorke in the strip club," a truly hilarious image. But according to Reuters, "West was aggrieved that Radiohead singer Thom Yorke had allegedly snubbed him backstage at the Grammys five days earlier. That hurt, West told the audience, because he idolizes the British band, and considers it one of his few creative rivals." Kanye told the "Storytellers" crowd, "So when he performed at the Grammys, I sat the fuck down."

Another of West's rants revolved around the subject of publicly maligned celebrities, most notably newly minted public pariah Chris Brown: "Can't we give Chris a break? ... I know I make mistakes in life." Um, right.

Also, on O.J. Simpson: "O.J. Simpson, amazing. Is he not? What he did, when he did, what he did. Was he not amazing though?"

And on Michael Jackson and Michael Phelps, the latter of whom probably isn't thrilled at being included in this company: "Michael Jackson, amazing. Michael Phelps, amazing ... He's a real fuckin' person; he makes mistakes."

Incredible. According to Reuters, VH1 has actually left that second rant relatively intact, even if the network has "cleaned up those comments a bit."

Kanye taped his "Storytellers" episode on February 13, and it'll air on Saturday, February 28. I cannot wait.