January 21, 2011

Music Is...Bruno Mars: Doo - Wops & Hooligans

For starters, I can't quite make out what the shadow is because it looks nothing like him. Secondly, I like the album cover. I'm an artsy type of person and very prone to interpret anything. It looks like he's strolling on the rockets trail of smoke, a trail to outer-space or "Mars", where he's hopefully headed.

My first glimpse of his talent was at my cousins house roughly two years ago. He found the song 'Nothin On You' somewhere on the internet and wouldn't settle down until I heard it. Well I did and I liked it very much. I don't like to compare artists very often but his vocal style reminds me of Jason Mraz, laid back in a way. Hey, that's just me. Onto the record. I listened to all the samples and essentially, I like them all. I'm the type that doesn't necessarily dislike a song, it just may not suit me. I like this however. One thing I appreciate is that it doesn't sound like a stock studio recording. You know what I mean. Everything, all the sound being generated solely from computer, something I don't like depending on how it's done. On the contrary, Mr. Mars plays the majority of the instruments himself. In relation to that, I was watching MTV one day and they featured a short background on him. His whole family from what I recall is into music full on, I like that. Back to the beats, most of them are live instrumentation something I've doted on before. The content is nothing I haven't heard before although I like his approach. A particular track that's already become my favorite is 'Talking To The Moon', mainly a piano number. Another I've taken a liking to is 'Liquor Store Blues', a reggae sound featuring Damian Marley.  

I decided to stray from mentioning the singles because I try not to base my opinion of someones work on the few things that I've heard, though I may like those snippets. All in all, the I can't place the genre of the album into a particular bracket. I can mention that Bruno Mars is a talented man, a statement I have no hesitance in making. 

January 20, 2011

Music Is...Nat King Cole

He's got to be one of the best jazz crooners ever. This man had a voice smooth as butta. Not buttER, buttA. But seriously, all jokes aside, he was a phenomenal singer in his own right, has been and is an influence for musicians/singers in general. Regardless if he was performing solo or not, what you hear and see is the talent. He is an artists with a musical resume that makes it difficult for anyone to describe his career justly and completely. We'll have to see where this one goes.

To say the least, when you speak about a musician such as himself, you begin to venture into an era before the internet, before cell phones. An era with artists such as Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles and so many other singers. When music was stripped down to its purist form. A time before networks like MTV, BET, VH1, FUSE, CENTRIC, TV ONE and others  became apart of mainstream television the way they are. Unlike the major sponsorship that nearly all television programs receive nowadays, "The Nat King Cole Show", created in 1956, aired on NBC-TV in New York and all national sponsorship was dismissed completely, although the local company Regional Beer sponsored the show. Though it lasted only a year, Cole became the first African American to host a musical variety show. An interesting statement he maid regarding that situation shortly after, "Madison Avenue is afraid of the dark." Going further back in time, "King" was born Nathaniel Adams Coles to three brothers Eddie, Ike and Freddie, also a half sister Joyce Cole in Montgomery, Alabama in 1919. His performance career began in his teens, his brother Eddie joining soon thereafter giving rise to their first recording. As a pianist in the national tour of Eubie Blake's revue "Shuffle Along", the show unexpectedly failed in Long Beach California. He stayed and later formed a trio called the King Cole Swingers, or I've also read it as The King Cole Trio. In the 1950's double bass player Wesley Prince left the group and was ultimately replaced by Charlie Harris, also a talented double bassist. The group signed to the fresh Capitol Records in the early 1940's and the record sales are said to have been a major source of revenue for the company. 
When I think about it, I've heard "King" so much to the extent that I just put two and two together, and figured that it was truly his middle name. I'm not sure how many people out there knew, but "King" was a nickname given to him while performing at one of the clubs he was known to attend. Nat King Cole, alone and with the Trio, recorded numerous songs, many of which I am very unfamiliar with. I can gladly say I know a few however:
I'm In The Mood For Love (cover)
(Get Your Kicks On) Rout 66
Mona Lisa
When I Fall In Love
Nature Boy
Dear Lonely Hearts
Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer
A Woman Understands (just heard that one today, but I liked it)

I know this is a very short post as oppose to all that can be said for this talented individual. As I mentioned earlier, "King" was within an unrivaled era of great music, big band, swing, all that good stuff. Knowing the times in which he arose, there is no doubt of the many racial challenges he encountered. One instance in Los Angeles, after purchasing a home in the Hancock Park neighborhood where segregation was still very strong, a burning cross was placed on his front lawn. Property-owners association members told him they didn't want any undesirables moving in that area. He then replied, "Neither do I. And if I see anybody undesirable coming in here, I'll be the first to complain." Despite the opposition, Nat continued to do what he did, seemingly with ease. I tell you, it makes no sense for anyone to sound as good as he did. He had such a smooth baritone layer to his voice that he could have sang the phone-book and made a hit.

He is truly Unforgettable.

The Very Best Of Nat King Cole
Unforgettable as a solo digital remaster
The World Of Nat King Cole  
Unforgettable as a duet digital remaster w/ Natalie Cole

The Complete Capital Recordings of The Nat King Cole Trio
For the road...

January 18, 2011

Music Is...Obadiah Parker - Hey Ya Cover

Album cover for single 'Hey Ya!' released September 9, 2003

Outkast's album "Speakerboxx/The Love Below" was released September 23, 2003. 

Now just about everybody remembers the that single. I can recall being in middle-school, and constantly making that beat on the table in 4th or 5th period. Anyway, I had a lot of fun doing that. Then the music video itself had me glued to the television. Watching and wondering how on earth they got the same exact man, Andre 3000, in the same shot, multiple times. Then, I didn't get it, of course now I do. So that leads me to this cover by a man named Obadiah Parker.

A friend of mine at work turned me onto this. All it is, is him on acoustic guitar, solo, a camera and his microphone. It doesn't get much more raw than that. He follows the melody throughout the whole session. The only part I think he excludes is where Possum Jenkins gets on the mic and says, "Now all Beyonce's and Lucy Liu's and baby dolls, get on the floor.". He nails this anyhow.

Music Is... Aaliyah - One In A Million

"One In A Million" is a 1996 release by Aaliyah, a young lady who truly had style and a beautiful voice. This is a very memorable album for me because I can distinctly remember hearing  the track 'One I Gave My Heart To' numerous times on the radio and trying my best to remember the lyrics. This CD, though produced in the 90's, symbolizes for me what musical excellence can happen when hip hop and RnB mesh properly, or better yet when you have all the right elements on the same page. It's hard for me to specifically pinpoint a favorite single or song of mine, considering I love them all, so I'll kind of just go with the flow here.

For starters all 17 songs, one after the next, proceed smoothly and don't overshadow each other. Take for example the intro 'Beats 4 Da Streets'. At the very beginning a bell is tolling, Missy Elliot is calling her to wake up, along with a sound that gives the effect of her time warping into a whole other dimension. I love that. It creates a perfect transition into the second track 'Hot Like Fire', a very bass filled number that causes an instant head nod. Furthermore it alludes to Timberland's production style and Missy's unique approach. Onto 'One In A Million'. I love the way the beat drops on this one. The bass stretches for a second or so on each bar then the snare slaps down creating a nice contrast. All in all there is a similarity between every track that I've come to notice more and more every time I listen to this CD. Each song is allowed to come to a low just as she starts the first verse, which then causes the song to rebuild itself. I think '4 Page Letter' is probably the best use of that rise and fall. She says, "Yo, Turn my music up. Up some more, up some more. Up a little bit more..." and proceeds to KILL IT. 

There are few albums of the 90's and 2000's that fall in line for me the way this one dose. It seems that as time has progressed, less and less effort has been placed on real thought and production on some albums. Just about every beat sounds the same for the most part. It's as though nowadays, one could just slap together a random, common beat and it become a major hit. That irks me, but I still hold onto the possibility of someone accomplishing well done work. That's not to say there's no consummate talent out there, just appears to be a lot of digging left to do.

Beat 4 Da' Streets (Intro)
Hot Like Fire
One In A Million
Girl Like You
If Your Girl Only Knew 
Choosey Lover (Old School/New School)
Got To Give It Up
4 Page Letter
Everything's Gonna Be Alright
Giving You More
 I Gotcha' Back
Never Givin' Up
Never Comin' Back
Lady's In Da House
One I Gave My Heart To
Came To Give Love (Outro)
Guess I do have a favorite.

January 12, 2011

Music Is...RJD2 2002 - 2008 LP's

Listed below are Ramble Krohn's full length LP's. It's obvious I've taken a liking to him lately. Each beat is just something you could easily flow over. Some songs are featured as instrumentals on the album thereafter. Each track is simply a smooth sound he's maintained since he started.

Deadringer - 2002 
The Horror
Smoke and Mirrors
Good Times Roll Pt.2
Final Frontier - featuring Blueprint
Ghostwriter - samples Betty Wright "Secretary"
Cut Out to FL
F.H.H. - featuring Jakki da Motamouth
Shot in the Dark
Chicken-Bone Circuit
The Proxy
2 More Dead
Take the Picture Off
Silver Fox
June - featuring Copywrite

Work - Includes bonus track "Here's What's Left"

The Horror - 2003


   The Horror

    Ghostwriter Remix
    Final Frontier Remix
    Bus Stop Bitties
    Good Times Roll Pt. 1
    Sell the World
    June Remix
    Counseling" (Instrumental)
    Final Frontier" (Instrumental)
    F.H.H. (Instrumental)


 Since We Last Spoke - 2004

 Since We Last Spoke

 Exotic Talk
 Ring Finger
 Making Days Longer
 Someone's Second Kiss
 To All of You
 Clean Living
 Iced Lightning
 Through the Walls
 One Day

 The CD also contains the bonus tracks De L'alouette and Holy Toledo.

The Third Hand - 2007


You Never Had It So Good
Have Mercy
Work It Out
Laws of the Gods
Get It
The Bad Penny
Beyond the Beyond
Sweet Piece
Rules for Normal Living
Paper Bubbles
Just When
The Evening Gospel

Live At Webster Hall 2007
 Couldn't find anything for this one. However, as it's called the Detroit Electronic Music Festival, has been a reoccurring musical event ever since 1994 then called the World party. Though that turnout wasn't very successful it did root the idea of recognizing electronic music in Detroit. The next event wasn't until 2000 and has since then become a very essential component in unveiling young talent, especially in techno.

January 09, 2011

Music Is...RJD2 - Inversions Of The Colossus

July 9, 2010

Inversions Of The Colossus contains seven of the same songs as the previous album, only this time they're instrumentals. Those tracks are:

Games You Can Win
The Glow
The Shining Path
Crumbs Off The Table
A Son's Cycle
Gypsy Caravan
Walk With Me

New Tracks (some instrumentals as well)
A Moment Of Weakness
Calm Down
In 3's
Liquid Luck
Might As Well Step Forward
The First Sights Of Land

Again RJD2 sticks to his formula of creating some interesting beats and arrangements.

January 08, 2011

Music Is...RJD2 - The Colossus

January 19, 201

It's pretty funky how I came across this album. Back in early or mid 2010 In a pack of Bic razors I purchased was a code to download a free song. Of course I forgot what that site was but that's beside the point anyway. The song I decided to download was "Games You Can Win ft. Keena" from the album "The Colossus". At the time I was simply interested in hearing something new. Something I hadn't heard before because musically things started to feel a little mundane. Anyway, I downloaded the song and I immediately jived to it. Throughout the intro and the body of the song is this (I guess) xylophone, music box, lullaby/space melody going on. But it adds to the tone so I like it very much.

RJD2 (Ramble John Krohn) has been doing his thing since 1993. Born in Eugene, Oregon, he got his start DJing in Columbus for the rap group MHz.Switching between many labels based in Oregon if I'm right, he released the mix CD "Your Face Or Your Kneecaps" and other various albums such as his solo debut "Deadringer" and "Things Go Better With Rj An Al" under his then alias Soul Position. In 2006 he also covered the Radiohead track "Airbag" for his album "Exit Music". His 2007 solo album "The Third Hand"on XL Recordings rendered him an extensive tour lasting from 07' to 08'. Very notable in skateboarding, the skate film subculture and often used in montages. 2009 was the year he established his own label RJ’s Electrical Connections and reissued The Horror, Your Face Or Your Kneecaps, and "Since We Last Spoke" as well as a box set entitled “2002-2010”, something I definitely need to check out. Which brings us to the release of The Colossus January of last year on his new label RJ's Electrical Connections distributed by The Orchard.

Colossus has what is to me a jazzy, somewhat electrical, hip-hop vibe going on within it. The Title of each track grabs my attention as well. For example the song "A Spaceship For Now", cause there won't be on later, "Crumbs Off The Table", and "Giant Squid" just to name a few. Now I've heard a few underground things before, and just like the others I appreciate the individualism happening with this record. Take the track "The Stranger". It gets kinda drastic, up and down in areas, and then mellows out. All the tracks are mellow but not so much in a way that they become lazy, they're still upbeat. I like this one, its worth listening to.

January 05, 2011

Music Is...Cab Calloway, Nicholas Brothers and Big Band

I'm positive that nearly the whole world is familiar with the Nicholas Brothers and Cab Calloway.

I remember seeing clips of these men when I was little. I'm sure I saw them on some infomercial from TIME or some other company that dug them up from their archives, advertising them as part of some special musical videotape package or something of that nature. Looking at that footage then, I didn't even believe it was real. I thought surely this is some very realistic cartoon because human beings can't do this. Nope, it's all real. The sheer acrobatic skill and physical ability these brothers imparted to their craft is absolutely unbeleivable. Who in the world, leapfrogs and lands in a split over one another, down a big curved set of stairs at that? The Nicholas Brothers. Incredible. What they accomplished then, in the 30's-40's is highly regarded among some including me as some of the most raw finesse there is. Doing a bit of searching, I read that these guys didn't even have any kind of formal training, they just learned from watching African American Vaudeville acts.  Then you've got Calloway, with that full robust voice setting things off. He was a very accomplished scat/jazz style singer."Minnie The Moocher" for the Betty Boop animated shorts, is among his most popular recordings and became one reason he was dubbed "The Hi De Ho Man". Just for kicks, in a 1944 Warner Brothers cartoon with Porky Pig titled Swooner Crooner, Porky's hens are on hiatus laying their eggs because of a crooner rooster who is a caricature of Frank Sinatra. In order to perk things up Porky auditions many roosters, a caricature of Calloway being one of them.

Cab Calloway, short bio.
Nicholas Brothers, short bio.

January 04, 2011

Music Is...Rob Welsh - Free Your Mind

Emmediatly upon seeing that title, I thought of En Vogues "Free Your Mind" yea, I did.

Anyway, I knew I'd get to post another skateboarding video and I'm glad I did. Again, I feel a direct parallel between the music and the skating. Tunes aside, I just admire his skill. I wish I could skate like that. 

"Free Your Mind" is the name of the skate video he and two other skaters Dan Drbhoel and Darrell Stanton star in. So I noticed, before the beat drops, he mentions what I assume are some skate spots that he misses (do correct me if I'm wrong), he mentions: Black Rock, Union, Brown Marble, and Embarco. He also says that the majority of the ledges are knobed, or have these 90° angle wedge-like pieces placed along the edge. They're in downtown San Francisco I believe. Rob Welsh is an unfamiliar name for me, it's not like I know very many to begin with, however I know a good bit. Just for info sake, heres an cool interview I stumbled on just hunting up some info about him: "48 Rob Welsh", hope you find it interesting. 

His sponsors are Expedition-One, Independent, Spitfire, Diamond, Lakai, FT. Hometown is San Fransisco CA, stance is goofy (so is mine) and he's Pro status. From what I've been able to find, he's been skating for a good while. Once again based on what I could find, though he's sponsored by Lakai I don't think he was featured in the skate film also develped by Transworld: "Fully Flared" 2007. The movie pretty much showcases their skill and what street skating "Is".  

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