In Defense of… Music

Pop Culture, Vinyl Cut Prose

It’s dead, right? That’s the tone. “Music is dead wrong right now.” No. Never. Not, ever. Somewhere in the midst, art lingers, latent but everlasting. Immortality rests in the rhythm. No matter how broke, bullied, abandoned, starved, outcast, paralyzed, apparently descended… you can always muse. The language of the gods from the stars exudes. Those lyrics and harmonies will sustain the seemingly los culture. From the mouths of babes, from the medley of blues, from the birth of tragedy, sagas continue.


twenty-seven with an infinite lineage manifest through song… every note, every melody an immaculate conception with composers i’ve never known. but that is the value, and that is the threat: that in this world made manufacture, in this culture industry, rogue rhythmic pregnancies prevail.

Fifteen Minute Transcription: Cheek to Cheek – Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett

Anthropopogy // Culture, Deconstruction, re:brand – America, Soundtrek, TK:LA, Vinyl Mind Flow

Cheek to Cheek is an aural alloy of the most masterful. Elements converge in a record album of jazz standards and one-take suzies, tears and tempos, fine-tuned fibres of the greatest art form to emerge from this American soil… classical and contemporary pillars found a musical canon of the most necessary, that which maintains the known order between high art and popular culture by collaboration and hybrid creation… in its pairing of Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, the immense everything of said reality (think about it, think harder) Cheek to Cheek is ARTPOP, Vol. II.

If, IF I were to blinkk this I’d probably say… don’t rush it, let it linger and waft along those invisible currents only the audible architects can manage to manipulate with their coursing lyrics and lifted crescendos…

For a girl who doesn’t wear pants, who dons only the holiest of stockings… and for a gentleman who watches an industry of beat-backed four-letter woes, where he once wailed infinite rhythms of legendary prose – anything goes. What’s old is new, and what’s new is never lost, just hidden beneath the aura of pop culture:

[Tony Bennett:]
The world has gone mad today
And good’s bad today

[Lady Gaga:]
And day’s night today
And black’s white today

[Tony Bennett:]
When most guys today that women prize today

[Lady Gaga:]
Are just silly gigolos

Heaven… I’m in Heaven… rocket number nine blast off to the planet: Heaven. Upon the melodious manifesto of eponymous nomination, one must step back from the phonograph and ask themselves: “What is an artRAVE, really and truly, beyond a neon-flashed, adrenaline-fueled speakeasy of the cheekiest nature? Boy…” When was the last time you saw divinely choreographed dialogues between musically-driven facades and figures… dancing and bad romancing in the elevated state of sonic sublime…

It was at this point in time when I pressed pause and decided, this is not a blinkk… I cannot contain the breadth of this “beat.” So, I tried something new… I riffed for a few… fifteen to be generally exact… because, well, this is The Fame… part forever and always.

Ms. Education – Neurotic Society (Compulsory Mix)

Politics, Pop Culture, SnapTrakks, TrapperKeeper


Neurotic Society

We’re living in a joke time, metaphorical coke time
Commerce and guru men, run the whole world man
Broke world and debauchery, old world brutality
Cold world kills softly
Whole world works savagely
Greedy men and pride fiends program TV screens
Quick-scam and drag queens
Real life blast fiends
Think twice this past dream

Sounds of the Mayan 2012: Five Albums That Existed This Year – Music 4 TNGRS

Pop Culture, Soundtrek, TrapperKeeper

So… if nothing else, 2012 proved that by George the Mayans had it all kinds of right: this year proved a renaissance of apocalyptic proportions – a year when the culturally amnesiatic cynics failed to recognize a sea change over the screams of their own skeptic scoffs… alas, even in the midst of privately-backed Super-PAC pocketed media, bindered women, NRA publicity stunts, mass school shootings, a deluge of false formations and knowledge starvation, the spectacle’s continued triumph over literacy shrugged – and oh, Sandy; even in the midst of all that, there was music – glorious music – because after all, to mark the fall, the birth of tragedy is forever  conceived in the spirit of music.

Somewhere along the 365 steps on the road to perdition, albums debuted, someone named Franked caused an Ocean of tears, a boy named Ken lamented the m.a.a.d. urban terrain, and Fiona spun the wheel while time idly passed by… but this isn’t about them – although everything else prior has unremarkably revolved around the former two – this list is about five albums I listened to, five albums I didn’t need people to tell me I liked, five works that are tragic in their own right, five that may not be cool, may be too young for school, but five that at the end of the day reminded me of what “those” Mayans might play had they lived to see this day…

Music 4 TNGRS – Chester French


Beyond the prominent production, the ever-enveloping electronic environment, it is the enduring lyrics that take us back to the playground. Some songs are like long-lost love notes, retrieved from a time capsule beneath the sandbox, or somewhere under a tree in the quad. Other songs take it back to the cyber sandbox of whichever social network was your shelter, reading along like a comment your present-day self would leave your former self. That’s what I dig most about the album. It doesn’t try to be anything it’s not. It is a 2012 LP of the mixtape you would have made for your Post-9/11-But-Pre-Katrina-So-There’s-Still-Hope self, about yourself, now. I also like it because … I’m a TNGR and it’s my kind of music.

Five Takes on Dave (1920-2012)

Soundtrek, TrapperKeeper


Dave Brubeck, 1920-2012

For as long as I’ve been playing jazz, people have been trying to pigeonhole me … Frankly, labels bore me.

Legendary beyond compare, brilliant beyond boundaries… five takes on the many shades of Brubeck

Blue Rondo a la Turk” – Time Out, 1959

Brubeck heard this unusual rhythm performed by Turkish musicians on the street. Upon asking the musicians where they got the rhythm, one replied “This rhythm is to us, what the blues is to you.” Hence the title “Blue Rondo à la Turk.”

Beautiful, Dirty, Wi-Fi: YouTube/MySpace Celebrity Playlist

SnapTrakks, Soundtrek, Uncategorized

The YouTube/MySpace Star of the 2000s: ringtone rappers, polyphonic popsters, internet indie rockers, and hard-driven hipsters… you basement dwelling vlogophiles are the most beautiful dirty richest of all.

We do the dance right; we have got it made like ice cream topped with honey – but we got no money…

You do the dance right (to the bank), you’ve got it made like ice cream topped with honey (or just iced-out chains), but you got no money (debatable). To the handful of you who are making something out of nothing and generating wealth riches from webcam stardom: kudos – this playlist is for you

Soulja Boy – Superman that HEAUX OH! (The “Won’t Someone Please Think of The Children?!” Remix)

Ad Attack: Diplo x Blackberry – Torches of Freedom


Riding tandem with the unveiling of their Playbook tablet, RIM launched their newest Blackberry Torch ad campaign featuring one half of Major Lazer, and M.I.A.’s former better half, Mr. Diplo – all to the feisty sounds of his furious fingers; Feist – I Feel It All (Diplo Remix) because Diplo remixes how you all feel it.

The Torch: past and present

… from the Pit to the Pulpit

Music Monday Preview: 40 Reasons to Be Excited About Music

Anthropopogy // Culture, Deconstruction, Soundtrek, TK:ATL, TrapperKeeper

In light of Rolling Stone’s new revamped site

and heightened sense of irony… oh wait, they’re not kidding about Will.I.Am being a reason to get excited…

I’ve decided now is as good a time as any to compile a bit of an ongoing column of 40 (likely more – or less) reasons why I’m excited about music – the good, the bad, the ugly and some niches in between.

2010 looking like a supersonic renaissance. Where 2000-2009 saw the death of artistry in the face of superficial artifice, 2010 sees the release of vapidity and a return to verity. Supersonic in the sense of music transcending – and/or adding immense depth and layers within – just sound unlike anything we have seen before.

We live in an age of unparalleled resources that enable musicians to become true artists – those who

create music that transcends sound and builds entire atmospheres, worlds to the point of sight and tangibility; given the modern resources, it’s only natural to equally focus on expanding that experience to reality: actual visuals and mixed media.

Performance artists can make their multimedia visions a reality, and traditional musicians can enhance their songs to whole sonic landscapes of limitless sound.

Before the forty reason foray – reason the first and foremost… the brass tacks as to why music is always reason to get excited: it makes the people come together – the bourgeoisie and the rebel

Watch this space: I… can’t count on Rolling Stone – killer concept, but they killed said concept (read: “You hear it all the time… ‘Rock is dead,’ and well, mea culpa”). As Andy Warhol said, though, “You have to be willing to get happy about nothing,” but I’m a Gen-Yer and in world 2.0 I’m more than willing and able to get excited about everything – after all, Pop goes the culture.

New Music Tuesday: Bad Rabbits


Bad Rabbits: These boys from Boston boast the self-proclaimed “swagger of Prince with the intensity of Bad Brains.” I don’t like setting additional biases before a first listen so wait until after the jump for my two cents.

Can’t Back Down – Bad Rabbits

Stick Up Kids (Full Demo Version)

On first listen it felt like Kenna and Prince’s lovechild was moonwalking over my eardrums (my good one and my busted left one – so you know it’s nice). One of the things I adored about GTA: Vice City was the soundtrack; I remember driving along the coast listening to Fever 105… Oliver Cheatham’s “Get Down Saturday Night,” Kool & the Gang’s “Summer Madness,” and the Pointer Sisters “Automatic,” … great times… Anyway the point is Bad Rabbits brings a mix of Fever 105, Bad Brains’ “Banned in DC” intensity, Boston “because we’re banned in DC” bravado, Prince’s swagger and uncanny cacophony of synth and soul, more than a touch of Kenna, a splash of D’Angelo’s pre-prosti-not-so-much vocal stylings, and the Faneuil Hall funk of a rabbit who left his bad on the dancefloor. Bad Rabbits sounds like what neo-new-wave-funk with soul should sound like. So if they want to bring the eighties back; it’s okay with me, that’s where they made me at.

Watch this space: Who knew Beantown knew how to get down?

DOWNLOAD: Bad Rabbit 2 Song EP

Alex Ludovico: The Reawakening


So many “MCs” on the hustle nowadays … it’s a daunting task to filter through the riffraff and find the diamonds in the rough worth following. Rest assured though, that those diamonds do indeed exist: enter Alex Ludovico.

In his own words:

Hey. I’m Alex Ludovico, a MC from Chicago (by way of Gary, IN).  I’m submitting my newest album. It’s entitled The Reawakening. It’s a 10 song sprint through my psyche, with production from Blurry Drones (Douglas Martin of Fresh Cherries From Yakima/5 O’Clock Shadowboxers), D, Wildlife Production, and JD (relative younger producers all from Chicago), along with a few stolen tracks I kicked verses over. I hope that you get the chance to take a listen and notice something you like about it.

Manners matter to me, but mad flow matters a bit more in the game – Mr. Ludovico doesn’t disappoint with The Reawakening.


In my words: The intro, I’m Here Droogs, doesn’t get Ludovico’s foot in the door – it kicks down the door down; his rhymes kill any character confusion over an equally relentless White Stripes’ Icky Thump beat. The newcomer is “back from sabbatical/here to change the station, all the whack sh*tcha listenin’ to; New name so I’m feelin’ invincible.” (Mid-post pretense: if you know me you know I love dwelling in the contradictory; if you don’t know me, at least now you know that bit.) A self-proclaimed rookie coming back from hiatus – to kill the counterfeit constants in the game no less – comes out the cannon with a battle cry boasting invincibility; needless to say, nuff said. But wait; there’s more! If you’re – somehow – still unsure about the album’s directon or Ludovico’s demeanor after the first 30 seconds, wait 2 more and he’ll “explain it all like Clarissa.”

The Reawakening is a classic clash between titans: “Alex is the dark side, personified evil/Ludovico is the good, uplift the people.” Like yin and yang, the dark and good are distinct but dabble in one another’s tracks; like right and wrong, the dark and good walk a fine line and the black and white become grey; but like true “dark” and “good,” both inevitably balance each other out and it makes for a dead-on debut for this man from the Midwest.

Sonically, the album starts off banging (personally, my mind jumped straight to Baltimore club scene) then switches gears and eases into a more classic downtempo vibe. Sequencing is often overlooked, but when it isn’t the product is rarely sub-par: The Reawakening is proof. I’m Here Droogs to The Asphalt Jungle is prime time percolating club music. Right Cross is just that, the bridge from the club to the couch. Roaring 20s starts off the steady post-game music – you know the kind that has you rhythm-riding and head-bobbing the second the beat drops. The album eases on down the reawakened road, as Ludovico rhymes – at times showcasing a more toned-down flow – between vintage beats and vinyl overtones from 20s through the last track, 100 Milligrams.

Lyrically, the boy is banana sandwiches. His vocal mode is drenched in battle rap and freestyle; his emphasis is remnant of  the Slim Shady LP/Marshall Mathers LP – literally spitting lines. Continuing in the Eminem vein, Alex and Ludovico go “back and forth all day like Red and Meth” (and though he may or may not concur, he jokes when he says the best, “in the booth/but a lot of truth is said in jest”). In my humble opinion, the lyrical dark side is the first half (sans the intro): fun, witty, tongue-in-cheek, heavy on the club commentary, very “night out”-esque. I’d argue the lyrical “Alex” persona is the dark side because – even though the timbre is hard – the content is lighter. The post-Right Cross tracks are where Ludovico comes in to lyrically uplift the people. His tone may mellow out at times, but what he says resonates louder when not drowned out by how loudly he says it. I could be wrong though, after all Kanye said “They say I speak with so much emphasis/oooh they so sensitive;” either way, A. Ludo’s definitely got the Midwest on lock.

All this is to say: check out The Reawakening; it’s worth the listen – and he’s “by way of Gary, IN,” which means he’s practically the Jackson 6th.

Massive shout to the one and only Douglas Martin for pretty-much-amazing production on A Round of Anger: per usual

Watch this space: The Battle – some may call the rookie’s flow unseasoned and unprepared, I call it raw.