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.

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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).