In which Mako & The Hawk apply the same principles to a funk/ RnB mash-up that the Nice Up crew and J Star already apply to reggae and hip-hop. Or at least The Hawk does. Mako described himself ambivalently as ‘executive producer’ and also as the ‘Andrew Ridgley to the Hawk’s George Michael’ on this project. Still, as the producer of the BBC Radio 6 Craig Charles Funk & Soul Show recently put it (shortly before it was played), “Big Boss Man And Christine Aguilera together, should it work? No! Does it work? Yes!” Thus for your delectation:
Monthly Archives: April 2009
“You took something perfect and painted it red,” sings Merriweather on this, where ‘painting something red’ is presumably to ruin it beyond redemption. Ironic really, since this song is yet another pastiche of 70s Stevie Wonder and Elton John, that yet again makes you want to avoid all songs that sound similar. And when I say ‘similar’ I mean both the originals (which is a shame) and the entire back catalogues of balladeering boy bands everywhere which also draw from and subsequently pollute the same wellspring with the rotting sheep of their careers. ‘Nu-soul’ my arse. If anyone can point out how this is substantially different from the last power ballad released by Robbie Williams, let me know. Despite that and the fact that this boy can’t help sounding over-produced even when he isn’t, plus the fact that he can actually sing, this will probably make a sizeable splash (not unlike that of a sheep landing in a well) in the pop charts and be on your girlfriend’s phone before you can say illegal download.
Released 14 May on Allido/ Columbia
Feel free to check the video below and head on over to the Merriweather’s website which, it has to be said, features substantially less awful tracks.
This new collection sees Carhartt throw caution to the winds and feature both some brightly coloured clothing and designs that aren’t simply their traditional logo blown up to fit across the chest. Not at the same time though. You don’t wanna run before you can walk right? Follow link for full collection courtesy of urbanindustry.co.uk
I just can’t keep up sometimes – are some of these drops more limited than others? How do Adidas decide? Some of my usual sources didn’t even receive the last one and it only seems like five seconds since that spring stuff was out anyway. This time around there’s a Campus Vulc, a Campus Vulc high top and continuing his trade mark black, white, orange colour (previously seen on his Superstar model), Dennis Busenitz gets a new shoe. One word of advice – you might want to try the actual shoe on rather than just order over the internet and expect your size to fit like your last pair did. I’ve seen three different drops of the same shoe all with significant size variations quite visible to the naked eye. Adidas’s customer service response…“Please be aware, different introductions of the same range, may vary in mould sizes, but will still meet the required specification and measurements for sizing. We always recommend customers try (sic) product on.” Word to that.
It’s fair to say that Vans have been around the block a few times – usually courtesy of someone on a little wooden deck with four wheels. This notwithstanding they’re still dropping some fresh ideas on the clothing front and the Spring ’09 collection is mostly about eighties retro with the pork pie hats and Spiccoli shades. The flannel shirt’s a bit more nineties though and suggests that Vans like a lot of other companies are gearing up for the inevitable nineties retro boom. Vans are straight in there with both the more subdued colours and something for the extrovert. For the full collection – follow the link…
Two slices of funk from the Phillipines of all places. The so-so B side sounds like the soundtrack to a seventies cop show but you’ll really be wanting this for the ridiculous Hangmen A side Let’s Boogie Now. This sounds like the result of a live jam where the band tried to replay Sly Stone’s Thank You Falettin Me Be Mice Elf from memory whilst singing the (English) lyrics to another song (from memory) without the slightest comprehension of English vocabulary or pronunciation. Consequently the “Let’s Boogie Now” chorus rings out with all the clarity of an Obama speech while the rest is belted out with all the clarity of a pissed Englishmen having a crack at Richie Valens’ La Bamba on karaoke night. Mind you, for all I know The Hangmen could genuinely be singing the rest of the song in Tagalog or something, in which case the preceeding comment will make me look like a complete c–t.
Out now on Funky Buddah
A three piece with only one original member left? Wolfmother are a bit like a hard rock version of the Sugababes aren’t they? Except that they’re a fourpiece now and they make hairy, sweaty, balls-out classic rock instead of lame rnb pop. So not that much like Sugababes really. Anyway, if it looks like the heavily Sabbath-influenced Wolfmother and it sounds like the heavily Sabbath-influenced Wolfmother it probably is Wolfmother. Although they probably said that about Black Sabbath until the heavily-Sabbath influenced Wolfmother came along. Listening to Back Round (DOWNLOAD HERE) is like that bit in the Aphex Twin Come To Daddy video where that thing screams in the old granny’s face with the force of a wind tunnel. Except you’re the granny. Like all truly massive rock tunes it starts off with a bar or two of quiet melody that wasn’t even deceptive when Tony Iommi was in short pants. Then it’s just one massive snarling tsunami of noise and Andrew Stockdale’s best Ozzy impression all the way to the finish line. Brilliant despite the clear debts it owes.
According to that organ of truth Wikipedia, P.O.S’ music ‘cannot easily be labelled’ though he has allegedly described his music as, ‘rap to skateboard to.’ I was only two tracks in before I started thinking of it as ‘music to skate away from’. There’s a label. And here’s another one – ‘experimental hip-hop.’ As in ‘emo’ lyrics and the kind of beats which aren’t going to move a crowd – unless it’s one that’s into slam-dancing. In fact, there was actually so much against me liking this that it’s testament to P.O.S. that this has got as many stars at it has. The cd cover didn’t help. The fact that it uses more plastic than three toy factories is bad enough – what’s worse is the raison d’etre. Yeah – it’s all so that the ‘consumer..[can]…configure their own personalised cover art.’ Surely it’s all about the music though? You’d hope so wouldn’t you? But the wankery doesn’t end there. No. ‘Configuring’ your cover is so fucking complicated that label Rhymesayers had to release a demonstration of how to, ‘approach the packaging.’ Christ on a pony.
Anyway – back to the music. Never Better is very much the product of an artist with a background in American alternative rock (in P.O.S.’s case hardcore punk) and it is no doubt to broad-minded rock kids (or broad-minded hip-hop kids) that it will appeal the most. This LP is peppered with clever but really annoying ideas – second track Drumroll for example, with it’s alt-rock guitars, shouty hardcore (as in punk) vocals and a beat which is – yeah you got it – a drumroll! Or The Basics with what sounds like a loop of a live drummer playing a dnb break and it’s annoying shouty ‘Alright’ hook.
One of the main things that redeems this LP for me is that (even when it’s being clever but irritating) the production is actually really good. Partly this is down to P.O.S. himself, but also his hip-hop ‘collective’ Doomtree mates Lazerbreak and Paper Tiger. When he does manage to rein himself in long enough to drop a straight-up hip-hop track with a decent breakbeat they’re actually pretty good, though the first time this happens isn’t until third track Savion Glover. Later you’ve got album highlight Goodbye with it’s eighties soul-wail loop for example, or Low Light Low Life which has a strings sample that weirdly recalls Dr Dre’s Next Episode. The only problem you’ve got then is that these all sound like highly accomplished pastiches of Atmosphere tracks – especially Been Afraid. Plus there’s the fact that the occasionally politicised lyrics more often than not really want to rock a floppy fringe, black nail varnish and eyeliner, “You see the small scars creeping down her arm…” and so on and so forth.
If you fall into the specialist demographic that likes El-P, Atmosphere and Propagandhi you’ll probably shit when you hear this. If, like me, you belong to the specialist demographic that thinks that El-P couldn’t make a dancefloor beat if his life depended on it, that Blink 182 and Sum 41 (not to mention Busted and McFly) have viciously and cynically neutered the legacy of Bad Brains and Black Flag and wish Atmosphere would be less earnest more often – you probably won’t. If you do belong to the former though, you might want to check out the video below for album track Optimist.
Out 27 April on Rhymesayers
(PRESS RELEASE) The Wu-Tang Clan Rapper Signs Deal With EMI Label Services To Release Follow-Up To 1995 Hip-Hop Classic This Summer in US, Canada
Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2 Features The RZA, Dr. Dre, J Dilla, Others
(NEW YORK – April 15, 2009) – Ready to give his worldwide following what they’ve been waiting for, the Wu-Tang Clan’s rhyme slinger extraordinaire Raekwon is set to return this summer with Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2.
Raekwon, whose 1995 platinum classic Only Built 4 Cuban Linx was universally hailed as a rap classic and has sold more than 1.1 million units in the US, according to Nielsen Soundscan, has signed a distribution deal with EMI Label Services for his ICEH20 Records label to release Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2 in the US and Canada later this summer. EMI Label Services will also provide Raekwon with additional radio promotion support and licensing and synchronization services.
“The wait is finally over,” Raekwon says. “Words cannot describe how extremely happy I am to work with EMI Music to put out my album.”
Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2 buzz single and video “The New Wu” features fellow Wu-Tang Clan members Method Man and Ghostface Killah and is getting mixshow airplay at radio stations across the country, including Hot 97 in New York. The album features a spectacular line-up of guest appearances and producers: The RZA, Dr. Dre, J Dilla, The Wu-Tang Clan, Jadakiss, Busta Rhymes, Bun B and The Game, among others.
“We are thrilled to have a chance to work with the legendary Raekwon,” said Dominic Pandiscia, Senior Vice President and General Manager, EMI Label Services. “He has had a massive impact on the history of Hip Hop and Urban music overall. Everyone at EMI is excited to be working on this record and continuing his legacy.”
Rap fans were mesmerized by Raekwon’s distinctive brand of street slanguistics when he emerged as a member of the Wu-Tang Clan. The Staten Island, New York rap group’s debut album, 1993’s Enter The Wu-Tang Clan (36 Chambers), was a landmark collection that introduced the group’s signature blend of kung-fu inspired reality rap. Raekwon established himself as a solo star in 1995 with the release of Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. The mafia minded album, which peaked at No. 2 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Album chart, unfolded like a cinematic crime caper, with such imaginative songs as “Criminology,” “Incarcerated Scarfaces” and “Ice Cream” propelling the album to platinum status.
Raekwon’s second album, 1999’s Immobilarity, was certified gold. To date, Raekwon has career sales of more than 1.6 million units in the US , according to Nielsen Soundscan.
Now, with the impending release of Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2, Raekwon is ready to release his second masterpiece. “It’s been a long time coming,” he says, “and I’ve put my blood, sweat and tears into making this classic album for my fans.”
It’s dark o’clock again. Yup, Bristol duo Sober & Dribbla are back with their very own ‘love album’ and you get a sense that with a name like The Butcher’s Ball it’s going to be more about meat-hooks than mooning looks. Their second full-length drop in as many years, this time around there’s a bit more dub in their step and a bit more step in the dub of their mutant hip-hop sound. Not that they’ve actually gone completely dubstep you understand – this is still hip-hop – even if it’s soul is blacker than a lightless club full of hooded yout’ getting down to sub-bass b-lines and shuffling beats. For the uninitiated, producer Sober doesn’t spend hours diggin’ the crates for old jazz cuts – partly because neither of the duo want to recreate a sound which has had it’s depths soundly plumbed over the years, partly because it wouldn’t suit Dribbla’s bulldog delivery. And also possibly because Sober’s a lazy bastard.
Talking of bastards Dribbla normally spits like one and The Butcher’s Ball is no exception on this score – every track marked by his aggressive, staccato delivery – so I guess it’s only fair that the first track is titled Swallow. Beats-wise it comes over like two gigantic industrial robots having a pit fight and the message is typically ambivalent – is this the narrative of some nutter with a gun and a penchant for picking off those who surround him or a motivational and metaphorical call to arms? “Aim for your head/ BANG/ Aim for your hope/ BANG/ Aim for your faith/ BANG,” and so on and so forth.
Also, having said that they don’t use jazz samples, this is the first time the pair have dropped a release that uses a sample of any kind that I can remember, albeit a vocal one. “What’s your message? What are you trying to get across in the lyrics to these songs?..Why the bizarre get up? I mean why the eye? Why the nail polish…You’re a minister in the church of Satan right?” asks the Yank at the start of Age Of Inocence presumably interrogating Marilyn Manson as Dribbla, drops in with, “Another night drags into death/ The fuse is lit I’m a bomb threat to regress”. No redemption there then you might think – on with the bleakness. But that’s the thing about S & D – taking the negativity too seriously – would be to miss the point and the often apparently violent lyrics warrant a closer listen. Thus Dribbla revels in lyrics that prompt an aural double-take – of the ‘Did he really just fucking say that?’ kind. Metaphors that initially make him sound like some sort of physically violent deviant reveal something entirely un-physical – though not necessarily any less disturbing, “I thrust my image inside her for it to grow and make her hate me/ I thrust my better self straight through her, hope some of it might catch.” Or in the throbbing menace of Pitbull with its chorus of, “Night time creeps/ Withered hands push/ Deep into its hips. It’s over the top of course but these two aren’t really nasty boys and ultimately, Sober’s crashing breaks and Dribbla’s snarling raps don’t quite hide the fact that they’re protecting a sensitive core.
You also have to wait until nearly the end for the best groove in the shape of Heart Here With Me, admittedly another angsty grand guignol tale of emotional torture but with the best synth hook. Finally, title track, The Butcher’s Ball rounds things off – although I have to admit that I was feeling somewhat drained by this point because like all Sober & Dribbla releases, this one requires something from the audience. You have been warned.