DJ Shadow "The Outsider" [review]

I think I should explain my love and respect for the music of DJ Shadow. I was initially introduced to Josh Davis through his EP for Mo'Wax, What Does Your Soul Look Like?. My boy had it on import CD, and let me borrow it one beautiful night. There was instrumental ("trip-hop"?) hip-hop, and then there was the tapestries that Shadow was creating. From that, I heard him on the Meiso album DJ Krush put out, they did a track together, and Shadow's bit was the illest -- perfect drum work, pianos on time, all that. Then the ultimate album came out: Endtroducing.... This album is one of the cornerstones of sampled Hip-Hop, letting you really know how excellent and somber and dark and funky and emotional sample-based music can be. He set a high bar with that one, and maybe that's the problem. He put out the Psyence Fiction disc under that UNKLE moniker (with James Lavelle), showing that he could put out tracks with more vocals and such. Hell, I wasn't the BIGGEST fan of Private Press, but he had a ton of wicked ideas on that one. How he got from that to The Outsider is beyond me...

He's said in interviews that the reason he chose that title is because that's how he felt in the industry, or something. That's understandable --- Shadow is by no means a household name. He has ebbed and flowed in the underground, and made some very challenging music. I don't know if he is really going for what this album suggests, but fuck it, let's lay it down. The first full track, "This Time", sounds like Shadow is stating his case for what's he's doing this go round ("this time, I'm gonna try it my way" is the refrain). Which is all well and good, but do we need the pseudo-blaxploitation 70's-funk jam? In the hands of a lesser producer, this might be a great B-side. In the hands of Shadow, this sounds like "MPC in my sleep". This is immediately followed by the first single, "3 Freaks", which features Keak Da Sneak (of "Tell Me When To Go" fame) and some cat called Turf Talk. Now, hyphy is cool, I dig that shit, but I mean what is Shadow trying to do? The beat knocks for a hyphy thing, but it sounds like Shadow is making a high-concept beat tape as opposed to an album. There's even a video for this abortion. This is followed by ANOTHER hyphy track, "Turf Dancing" (whatever the fuck THAT is), features the DUMBEST line talking about a chick "ghostriding" his dick. Now, I know what ghostriding a whip is, but how are you getting props for a chick ghostriding your dick?

The next track is actually good. "Seein' Thang" features David Banner going political on your ass over a dark, crunkstastic beat. He drops lines about black on black crime, Katrina thoughts, and other atrocities that have occurred over the last couple of years. After this is a sampled blues tune turned into the "Broken Levee Blues". It's nice guitar work, but just doesn't feel like it should be its own track or by itself. "Artifact" sounds like a punk-DnB hybrid that was probably a great idea in theory, but does not seem to flesh out. All aggression, no direction, which is a constant thing running through this album. Little Brother's Phonte drops some rhymes on "Backstage Girl", a story about a freak who seduces Phonte backstage. Ends up the chick is a MySpace freak. The backing track is a slow, funky, bluesy joint. Nicely done, actually. This leads us into what I like to call the "Final Fantasy" section of the disc. If you've played any of the Final Fantasy video games, you realize that they have really dope soundtracks, for being video games. This is not something I'd like to have playing on my discman or mp3 player. "The Tiger" features a fuzzy guitar and some conga thumping. Basic fast forward fodder. "Erase You" has the best drum edits of the entire album; Shadow really takes it back, showing you what he can do. He flips a sampled break and makes you feel like its a live drummer licking the snares. The vocals could have been nixed, but this is not a perfect world. The Christina Carter spoken-word bit in the intro of "What Have I Done" really reminds me of a cinematic sequence in a PSX RPG game: very confused, sounds attacking you from right and left, with random vocals dripping in and out. With the visual, the audio works... without it, it's grating. For some reason, one of the WORST tracks features Q-Tip and Lateef the Truth Speaker. Fitting, since Shadow and A Tribe Called Quest suffer from the same disease.

Well, the disease was initially diagnosed by my studying ATCQ. They created Hip-Hop masterpieces with The Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders; once their following albums came out, people hated on them. It wasn't that these discs were so terrible, but the fact remains, that plateau they created has now been tarnished. If these subsequent discs were created by lesser artists, they would be seen as solid contributions. In the hands of masters/legends, they are seen as shitty fodder. This is how the entirety of this album comes across: the makings of an artist just getting his feet wet. I can appreciate the scatter-brained genre hopping. The leftfield thoughts. My understanding of what Shadow can do will not allow me to fully appreciate this album. No matter how hyphy or mystical or blues-y he gets. This was not a good look for Shadow at all. Not at all.

rock the dub gives this CD a 5 out of 10 for disappointing soundscapes from a time-tested producer.

Want more information on DJ Shadow? Check out his official website.
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Crack Week has commensed!

The good folks over there at Oh Word have dubbed this "Crack Week". You gotta love Rafi and those guys. They take those offbeat ideas and run with them; a lil humor, a lil truth, and it's Hip-Hop blog gold. They also let ya boy write an article for them... here's my first (of many, hopefully) guest spots for Oh Word: "there was always 'caine".

Also, jimi izrael also drops his piece on the infamous "
Crackheads Gone Wild" DVD.

I'll keep you guys posted on any other updates to Crack Week.

EDIT: A side note that was just forwarded to me. Check out this blog post and if you are interested, holler at chartreuse. Very interesting idea, I will try and keep you guys informed on this.
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thursday check up

currently on Winamp: Logistics "The Divide" [hospital]

You gotta love good DnB.

I'm really just posting this to let you guys who read this regularly that ya boy is still around. Been a busy couple of weeks.

I'm home today giving my wife some support, then have to run out later on, so yeah, I'm stacked. About 6 and 1/2 weeks left until Jayden's birth... I'm pumped and cannot wait for him to be here. I spent a good part of this morning washing his clothes and sheets, getting his wears ready for wear. It's crazy... I'm going to have a lil boy running around here come October. How ill is that?!

I have a few things coming in the near future... working on putting the finishing touches to this article for Oh Word, more on that next week (fingers crossed!); I also have a review of Logistics' debut album, Now More Than Ever... more on that next week as well. I also have an interview with Wise Intelligent that will more than likely be posted up on rock the dub, but it might have another home? We'll see... I'll keep you guys posted.

Is there anyone you guys think would be dope to interview? Or any ideas you think I should tackle? Send your thoughts here; I'll field any ideas you got.

Keep it locked, and peep this video, for ish and giggles:

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[rock the dub Interview]: DJ Krust

I'm not sure how many of you other DnB heads fell in love with this sound, but one of my favorite producers is DJ Krust. I knew him primarily from the Reprazent clique (Roni Size, DJ Die, DJ Suv, and Krust) and their critically acclaimed New Forms 2xCD. I purchased that and the stellar V Classic, vol. 1 disc, and got to delve into one of Krust's best tracks, "Blaze Dis One". It wasn't overly dramatic, just straight ahead sly drums and FAT bass, but the groove was laid out so well. Dipping from that, I fell into a deeper zone with Krust, from the awesome "Warhead" to "Angles" to "Maintain" and "Bad Intentions". The man can flip it from a very deep, brooding tone to a tune aimed directly at your feet. He created Coded Language, which seemed to be a culmination of his chilled, soulful side. After that, he delved into a more straightforward style, to much praise and scorn, but he has seemed to dig deep inside himself and come up with a hybrid sound: soul and funk. Minimal bombast. He also has a deep intellectual mind, which he let me pick away at earlier this month...

khal: First and foremost, your latest album, Hidden Knowledge, is some very great work, and is being well received by heads all over. What mind state or zone were you in while producing this long player?

DJ Krust: I think what I wanted to do was go back to point in my music when I was my most creative and use that as my starting point; it was a time in the music when everybody was known for there own style. Being different was what the seen was all about. Before starting any project I build the concept in my mind I see what its gonna look like how the sounds are gonna work. I try to see the colour of the music first then I start to build. I don’t think about it, I feel it: if it feels right then it's right, if it feels difficult then I know I am on the right track. I am not trying to be different just for the sake of it. It's just sometimes you have to take it there to find new ground.

khal: I assume that you are aware that many of your fans from your “True Stores”/”Soul In Motion” days seemed to be either taken aback or downright frustrated when you delved into tracks like “Kloakin’ Device” or “Follow Da Vision”, places that can be seen as a bit lighter than your deeper output. Do you have any feelings as to those listeners who seemed to wish you stayed in that “deep” stage as opposed to branching out? Do you feel as though your varying styles of DnB as detached as others feel they are?

DJ Krust: No one wears the same pair of trainers all the time; we like different things at different times. That’s what it's like making music, I don’t feel it all the time. Sometimes it's about having fun, the party. I think it’s important to do what you feel. I enjoy making the music that I do for me, that’s the main thing.

khal: Times have changed in the DnB game, from the early 90s to 2006 and beyond. You’ve pretty much been involved since the scene’s inception; how do you feel about the many changes that have come about, from production to the raves to the ravers themselves, as well as the impact the Internet seems to have had on the worldwide scene, as well as producers getting noticed and signed, in some cases?

DJ Krust: The world is changing fast its important that we change with we must have an active roles in this change. The technology is moving fast (some good, some bad); we should not get confused as to its use. I think that’s one of the problems of today: people try and use technology to replace the hard work that you have to do to become what you want. Technology is a part of what we're about, not a replacement. As far as the new rave, that’s the way it is; new people, new ways of doing things. The Internet is here to help. We just haven’t figured out how to use it properly and get the most out of it. People want music and they're gonna get it anyway they can. We have to work out the best way to get it to the people in the best way and still make a living. What’s happening now is, we're not control the distribution of our music on the web so we have a problem.

khal: I’ve read in the past where you spoke on your visions, mainly dealing with Reprazent, in terms of your sound; how many thought your sound was a bit jazzier, but you guys were edging towards a more of a Funk vibe. Hearing tracks like “Initiation”, I can definitely hear the Funk still. Do you still aim for a specific vibe running throughout your albums, or do you just go with the flow?

DJ Krust: My background is Funk, Pop, two-tone, Rock, Hip-Hop, Reggae... then I got in to breakbeat technology. So these are the aspects in my music all the time, in one way or another. Sometimes it's not that straightforward. We deal with the vibe and the energy of the music. It’s the feeling. I start with what I am and who I am and the rest comes from there

khal: I saw yourself and the Reprazent camp play live in Central Park NYC back in 2000 I believe. The place was rammed, and it was great to see such a solid confirmation of your talent and the talent of your crew. I always wondered 2 things: a) do you ever plan on doing live PA’s, and b) what was that piece of equipment you were using, the thing that you were waving your hand above, making all those hot sounds?

DJ Krust: I am working on a live show right now, we've got some shows later on in the year. And the box of lights that was an experimental device. You put your hand over the light and it sends MIDI. You can control LFO, S-filters, anything MIDI.You can find it on some of the new Roland keyboards.

khal: In packaging this album as a 2xCD, did you initially decide to throw some of your classics on the second disc? How did you choose those tracks?

DJ Krust: We just went through the tracks that we liked and would give people who don’t know me a look at what I was about.

khal: From listening to a number of the themes brought up on this album, as well as reading your blogs on MySpace, you seem to be a very philosophical cat. Do you study a lot of what you are speaking on, or is this just what comes into your head from time to time?

DJ Krust: I have been studying the books for a minute now, talking to people and travelling the world, seeing different cultures; that will give you a different world view. I think we're on a new road right now where the rules change as much as we do. We are only just finding out how the mind really works, so its all new ground. We have the greatest tool in the known human universe, it's called the mind. It's an untapped resource with immeasurable power. We are jus learning how to use it properly. Once we understand it and how to use it and our connection to all things, we will know more about what we are and who we are. On the album, the titles of all the tracks are search keys: type the names in Google or Yahoo and see what comes up. I think we need all the information then we can use our own minds to decide what the truth is.

khal: For the first time ever I got to see your awesome video for “Coded Language”, with you and Saul Williams bugging out around exploding TVs and bugging out. How did the two of you hook up to create this epic track?

DJ Krust: We meet through Giles Peterson and Paul Martin. They used to run Talkin' Loud, the label I was signed to. I had the track and was looking for something special, and the guys were like "there’s this cat, you should meet him". So we link up and from the get go I knew something was gonna happen; the guy has got mad flava, his whole outlook is from over there. So it fit in with what I was about.

khal: You’ve produced a string of classics over the years. How does it feel to have your place in the DnB scene solidified for years to come? Do you feel as if you need to top your last hit?

DJ Krust: It feels good to know that I help build some thing that has travelled round the world and become what it is today I still feel as though there is a lot more to do the music is only part of it. Now we have to work on the business and get that straight .as far as making another hit. I try and use what I’ve learned from the last track to better the next one. If it’s a big one then bless all good but first and foremost it’s about adding on in a positive way

khal: What’s going on with the Full Cycle camp these days? I know you guys have been pushing Clipz hard… is his sound the future of the label? What’s on the horizon from the FC label?

DJ Krust: Clipz has been working hard on breaking his style of music and he’s made a good name for himself. He’s very focused and knows what he wants. The label is about music, experimental music. We have made a lot of music and continue to do so. We're building another aspect of the label, FC TV, which is documentaries ,videos, web-based programs; V-Cycle, which is our online shop where people can become a member and get up front promos and limited edition clothes. So were expanding what we do as a label now and into the future

khal: Last year, the latest DnB hitmaker, TC, remixed a couple of your hits for V. Did you have to approve these mixes? How did you feel about the sound and style he brought to two of your most well known tracks?

DJ Krust: Remixing is tricky one; it's very hit and miss. Add in classic tracks and it gets deep. I think the mixes were good and they worked on the street. As far as me approving them, I’ll have some input, but bottom line if it works, then it works. Simply.

khal: OK so your album has been out for a bit now… what’s next for you as an artist? Do you have any DJ gigs lined up? Where can your fans see you? Any 12”s or EPs coming soon from you?

DJ Krust: The album is out, all bless. For me right it’s about putting a live show together and getting that tight. Getting the Remix of the album tracks done. I am also doing a photo exhibition very soon. I did one in Bristol in April that was good, gonna do some more in London, apart from that its back to lab to make the next project

khal: To round things out, what do you see your place in the history of DnB music when you are gone? Do you have any aspirations that you have not met as of yet?

DJ Krust: This music can do anything, go anywhere. Right now, for me, it's about pushing this thing as far as it can go, even changing the format 'til it becomes a new one. That's how this music started and that’s how it will end. There will always be more challenges. Life is about that. If you don’t push your self you don’t grow. We must go forward with strong ideas and good values; the future is what we make. We must take responsibility for our actions and use our hearts and minds. Bless.

We would like to thank Krust for taking the time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about his art and thoughts. If you want any further info on this artist, peep the following links: DJ Krust on MySpace.Full Cycle. DJ Krust discography. DOA Review of Hidden Knowledge written by khal.
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Little Johnny

I love rediscovering CDs I purchased a while ago. This week, I've been on some Company Flow shit after peeping this review that Bol did... I "found" the disc and was amazed at the fact that I finally got full copies of "Patriotism" and "Weight"... fucking stellar shit. Now, I spent the summer of '99 devouring a few albums... The Roots' Things Fall Apart was a big one, and this Co Flow instrumental "concept" disc was another. This was the time when Co Flow was about to split (amicably) and do their separate things... El-P was really coming into his own as a producer, and Def Jux was about to truly take off on the underground, and you could hear that twisted boom bap on this release. Mr. Len had a few tracks he produced on the solo tip, but this was primarily an El Producto show. I don't get the whole "concept" of this... they took crazy pics of some doll with a paper bag on his head living in this "hospitul"... I gather that he was left by his parents, who had some fucked up living (rape/molestation? murder?), and Johnny got shipped to this asylum-type place, put up on pharms and sits in front of the TV, soaking in disgusting visuals and half-brained intelligence. He decides he has had enough and wants to bounce... with the help of Len and El-P. Ooooooooo-kay, you're saying... what can ya do, though. If I have to gather that while listening to shit-hot tracks like "Bee Aware", which has this driving, somber organ/guitar appeal throughout the track, or the synth-madness of "Worker Ant Uprise", I say do the fucking thing. This is one of those discs that will get you high without the use of drink or drug. "Shadows Drown" is one of the hottest licks on the whole album, that looped sound of impending doom... it really has this effect of taking you deep into the depths of some black, dark pool of nothing. Mood music, indeed.

Is this my wish, that El-P and Len get back together? Yes and no. Len is doing his thing, sort of, and El-P don't really need him anyways, but hey those heydays were the shit, right?

PS: Go grab this right now. It came out on Rawkus, so I guess if you dload it, it's no big deal? I dunno, but "World of Garbage" used to get me through a fucking busload of nonsense and drama in life. Fav track off this album.

PS2: I kind of stopped digging the whole El-P sound when Aesop Rock came out. I dug the Def Jux/Co Flow/El-P sound up until then. I just didn't get what the big fuss was over dude. I do like the fact that Def Jux signed Mr. Lif. He's that dude, and that Perceptionists album is mint. Am I wrong?
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Oh No!

Oh No, aka Madlib's lil brother, aka producer and MC supreme, aka the man who had the illest beats on the NBA 2K6 video game, aka part of the Cali Wild crew, touched down on Mary Anne Hobbs' show on BBC Radio 1 recently. He left this 27+ min mix of Stones Throw jams to celebrate their 10th Anniversary... download HERE, stream it HERE, and peep the tracklisting on this MySpace blog post...

Want more Oh No info?

Oh No page on Stones Throw website
Oh No on interview @ UKHH.com

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The Gnotorious Gnarls Biggie

Saw this link initially on the XXL website. Was figuring it was a mashup, so I peeped the official website link. Thought that Cee-Lo/Ready To Die cover was fucking hilarious. Now, I'm not a big fan of this Gnarls Barkley LP, but I like this mashup. It's more in the vein of the Grey Album, where the Gnarls LP was more or less chopped up and the BIG lines were thrown over top. It works well, actually. Doesn't make me love Danger Mouse any more or less, but it's fun to hear Biggie's lines resurrected over non-Diddy beats.

Grab it before it's gone.

Need more info on this? Peep the
Sound Advice crew's blog post about this concoction. And enjoy. Pay homage to BIG, and try to give Cee-Lo a chance, I guess. Caps & Jones shits all over them, but you ain't heard that from me.

PS: This "Ten Feng Shui Commandments" track is the best thing on there.

PPS: You know, I've given this a night's rest... well... 13 hours to sleep on it. I don't think I like this as much as I like the idea that DM went from being on the outside looking in (cease & desist order and all) to now being on the inside looking out. I posted this up as a bulletin on my MySpace, and I have Gnarls Barkley on my "friends list" (I hate that term, I have more contacts than true friends on my MySpace...) they are down with an Atlantic subsidiary... will he be down with them cease and desist orders that are sure to come down on this project? I like standing up for mash-ups that challenge the mainstream profile... peep the Q-Unit and American Edit albums... in the name of Double Dee & Steinski, let the mash-ups go!
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Pharrell "In My Mind" [review]

For as much as Pharrell and Chad do for other artists (peep this list), they constantly shit on themselves. Any CD where they are the main attraction (Clones, the N*E*R*D LPs), they seem to take this "I'm gonna do it for dolo" idea, which never seems to work for their nerdcore. P tries to change that for himself, but he forgot that he needs to do more than just create hot beats on his debut solo album, In My Mind. The beats are fire, as you would expect... lush keys, ill drum rolls (one of my fav pieces of this album), tons of percussive flairs, and just dope work with and without samples. For the majority of this album, though, you'd only think that Felonious (??) P has "BAPEstas", "Ice Creams" and fat asses on his mind. That's true for many of his fans and like-minded artists, but with an album title like In My Mind, you'd expect him to spread his wings and take more chances subject-wise.

The initial idea of this album was to craft 7 Hip-Hop tracks and 7 R&B tracks... he does this, but could have made an EP with the amount of same-themed tracks. It's almost as if he remixed "Can I Have It Like That", his snoozer of a pre-single single with Gwen Stefani. While this tune has an intro that sounds like a Dre track, the rolling double-bass is what you want to check for. Of course, he raps "She like the way my hands use her body for hand warmers" is not only vulgar, but unimaginative. If I wanted crass sex lyrics, I'd throw on some Ghostface with his "ping-pong pussy, wild world of wombs" shit. The one thing I noticed, at least with the Rap tracks, is each track starts out the same... the kick/sample hits 4 times or however many times before kicking into the main meat. Why? Who knows. "How Does It Feel?" has a nice live-sounding drum beat to it, with some smooth horn sounds laid over top. P wants to know how it feels to dream about being like him. Thanks for making me feel even worse than I already do about my lack of funds, fucker. And write a better chorus next time. He gets introspective with "Best Friend", which has a very entrancing synth melody to it. He waxes poetic about his family life: losing his grandmother, sticking with his friends and such. Nice until it gets to that odd chorus... it's got random drum fills, key stabs and a thump to it that just doesn't go right. Slim Thug drops in to slob on P with "Keep It Playa", which has a grating keyboard melody. The drums in a lot of these tracks sound live as hell though --- I have no liner notes, so I cannot say if they used a live drummer or not, but it sure sounds like it!

The R&B section starts with "Angel", which sounds like an 8th grade garage band trying to make some hip-hop beats. The initial line "She got an ass like a loaf of bread, you wanna take a slice" sounds like P needs to grow up a bit and come with some stronger lyrics. P then throws 2 songs on one track: "Young Girl", which features Jay-Z rapping about making a 19 yr old his wifey, while P tries to get his Prince on; the 2nd half of this track, "I Really Like You", is the best R&B cut on this whole disc. The whole thing comes together. The music rolls nice, and P sings in that "Frontin'" high pitch, but sounds a lot more relaxed. That's one of the main problems with Skateboard P's singing: in the past, whether it was on choruses or on "Frontin'", the whole selling point on his "voice" was that it didn't sound as if he was trying to be something he isn't. On this disc, neph really wants to be Jamie Foxx or some shit! Nelly drops in on the oddest joint on here, "Baby"... I have no idea wtf he's on about, but the beat is just a sad concoction of a weak guitar riff on top of a beat that sounds like pounding on the lunchtable, but then it morphs into a rip off of that old "Nasty Boy" track from back in the day. P then has the NERVE to get all religious with "Our Father", right after talking about "rolling up a $100 bill" to his "baby". What's that all about?

This album is an album of formulas. The ones that work are the ones that are time tested and, sadly, tired at this point of the game. The beats are dope, but we've heard all of these songs before. The R&B tracks especially are very wishy washy. The fact that the majority of them are intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-8 bar "bridge"-reprise is insulting to the true fans, the ones who have followed these dudes since they got big off of "Superthug". You'd expect more than that. Too much rhyming about being iced out and not enough of the introspective stuff IMO. We all know P is not as massive as he tries to put himself out there to be... why keep fronting? And to have a track with Kanye ("Number 1") be possibly the worst piece of shit on this filthy album? Totally insulting... even the bonus track, "Skateboard P Presents Show You How To Hustle", found a way to disappoint me. While I was wanting to hear P let his peeps get down, he spits some tired drug tales that HE ADMITS (mid-track) TO NOT EVEN LIVING! What a fucking waste of the hottest track on here. Head nodding kicks, a seriously sick organ line that switches up for the 7th bar only... whoa. I would have LOVED to hear Clipse, Slim Thug, hell, Snoop and Jay murk this track. And that's the main problem I have with this CD: I would have LOVED to hear this be a compilation, with selected artists doing their thing over each of these beats. I do not want to hear P on any of these, not as the main attraction anyways. Sad but true.

Thing is, that's not what this is about. At the end of the day, P and Chad (who apparently only engineered the beats oslt) want to make loot. Will the consumer purchase this? I've been going back and forth about this... and I'm really on the fence. Given the past lack of sales, I highly fucking doubt it, especially with no real follow up single. I think he might try to work "Angel" or "Take It Off", maybe the joint with Snoop on it, but I just don't see people going crazy for this CD.

rock the dub rating: 5 out of 10 stars. Too much P on the mic, not enough thought/heart on the pad. Maybe next time, Skateboard Pizzle.

Pharrell's In My Mind is in stores July 25th. For more Pharrell info and news, peep his website.
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I said Goddamn!

Boy is it hot. Heat Index up in the Northeast is on some bullshit... oppressive heat, peeps.

I've been on some lazy shit, partly due to the heat, partly to just on some up down up down work schedule. No real time to rest, or so it seems...

I've got an interview with DJ Krust that I need to edit. Shouts to him. He's the man. His new album is the shit. I have a review written for DOA that they are going to be posting soon... I hope.

I also have a few reviews that I'm going to be working on... namely the In My Mind album that Pharrell is FINALLY dropping on the 25th. I think I should have that done by this week, don't you think?

Did you guys check out the Horizons Music Digital store @ Juno Records? You guys need not sleep...

Oh, I also updated a gang of links on my "Diversions" list on the right side... it's in alpha order, to make things a bit easier. Mainly, those are either affiliated sites, or sites I just fuck with. Word.

Do you guys know how dope Wu-Tang Clan's Wu Tang Forever LP is? This guy doesn't. I've been rocking this hard the last week or so... gotta love that post-36 Chambers sound RZA was rocking. Peep "The Projects", "Heaterz", "For Heaven's Sake", and of course, "It's Yourz" if you think I'm bullshitting.

I'm out, White Men Can't Jump is on. I'll be more dilligent this week.

PS: to tide you over during this massive muggy phase, check out a few mixes courtesy of the bitterbrew squad. d4t4 cooked up this hot 1999-2001 era DnB mix... hidden gems like the Accidental Heroes' "Forgotten World" and Teebee's "Spage Age". DJ ESB also hooked up this CLASSIC No U-Turn Mini Mix for the Jungletrain crew as well. Loads of old school Ed Rush & Nico collabos in this. No "Proton", but you can't win everyone, right? Enjoy!
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[rock the dub Interview]: Che Grand

Being a seeker of fine, new music, I take pride in finding that "new shit", whether it's Hip-Hop or DnB or a hip new Rock act. It's not everyday that the new shit finds YOU... I still don't know how Che Grand found me, but I am glad he did! His Official Bootleg Import EP is how I got introduced, and now I have an EP that I will not put down. Ranging topics from the daily 9-5 grind to subway pimpin' to straight bugged out lyrics and grown man issues, the many sides of Che all point to one direction: real talk. Most dudes these days will big up that "keep it real", but need to do what Pos said and "keep it right". We catch Che on the cusp of the release of his debut album, Everything's Good Ugly, and we get undiluted commentary on the life of a traveling Hip-Hop head. Not too many Black guys can see the joy in Stereolab AND Madlib like Che (or I) can, nor can they honestly say that they just want to rap. Peep the true vigilante...

khal: For those out there that do not know about Che Grand, can you tell the people a little about yourself? Where are you from, how did you get into rhyming, what do you hope to achieve, etc.?

Che Grand: I consider myself to be from damn near everywhere! But according to my passport and newly sent green card I was born in London, England. I'd like to give a special shout out to the INS on the 11 year wait for my papers, they did a great job. Anyway shortly after my birth my parents took me to a place called Milton Keynes. We lived there till I was about 12 then we packed up everything to migrate to the U.S. Music has always been around. With all the moving and constant changes that took place in my life it was tough to focus on keeping friends. I made music my best friend and from that union I started practicing the art of rhyme. There's a lot I hope to accomplish, but the biggest thing I want to achieve right now is making my friend music look (and sound) better.

khal: Hearing your Official Bootleg Import EP, one can't help but hear the hunger in your voice. What keeps you so on point?

Che Grand: Knowing that I can always do better keeps me on point. A lot of artists will tell you that they are their own worst critic and it's no different with me. Even listening to the EP, I appreciate the love greatly when random folk hit me up to say you killed (insert track name here), that's my sh*t! but meanwhile in my head I'm thinking to myself it's alright, but wait till I do these new joints. So I'm only on point because in my mind I'm never fully on point.

khal: Checking your
MySpace page and hearing your "Import Intro" track, you seem to be very up on not just the Internet but your international audience as well. Have you toured around the world? How big is your fan base in terms of countries and nations?

Che Grand: MySpace is the world now, Tom is your Ruler, your King, President and everything! I have to give thanks though, through that site I've managed to attract quite a few fans from other countries. To tell the truth "Import Intro" was 80% concept and 20% real sh*t. For example, the Arabian cat was a joke (although they might be diggin my stuff out there, who knows) but my homegirl from Australia she was the real deal. It still blows my mind everyday to know that my next door neighbors might be playing my music so to actually know that I've got some spins overseas is the craziest feeling! Acquiring an international fan base is very important to me because I find those people to have an honest appreciation for music. It's a shame but right now in the U.S a person is more likely to rock your song because you had a specific video girl eating some ice cream in your video. I think other places in the world tend to care about the actual quality of the material. I won't front, I love a nice video jawn like the next one, but it really should be about the music. There isn't a world tour poppin' yet but I can't wait till that starts. Even though my accent is long gone I can't wait to get back to England. I love the whole
Grime culture that's going on over there right now.

khal: Your bio mentions you being banned from Sam Goody for your "5-finger discount", and you mention the infamous Soulseek on your "Gold Chains" track. How do you feel mp3 downloading has affected the Hip-Hop industry? With so many majors weighing in, do you feel there are any positives to downloading?

Che Grand: Downloading has become a real sensitive subject for a lot of folk. I wish it was around when I was younger; I would've never got myself banned from my fave spot in the mall. It has made things tough but at the same time it's made things easier. Mom used to say what's good for the goose is also good for the gander, if I do it how can I be mad at someone else for doing the same. An artist, especially if they're new, needs some sort of buzz. The 15 year old music lover living in low income housing with no job and no allowance can't always afford that new album but believe it or not he's a major tastemaker. It's because this poor kid likes my stuff and rocks my mp3's that the rich kid wanting to front like he's living the same life buys 3 copies. I need that buzz, so whatever it takes, just get the music out there.

khal: The game these days is full of a lot of different people who seem to embody the same character (the drug dealer, the pimp, the supreme lyrical genius, etc). How does Che Grand stand out?

Che Grand: I want to rap, that's all. If I wanted to sell crack I'd do that but that's never really been me. When I make music I do it with a sense of pride in who I am and what I go thru to make it, the ups and downs. I'm not afraid to show you I'm human, just a human.

khal: I noticed you speak a lot about different facets of your life, whether trying to feed your seeds or the daily grind you speak on tracks like "Work Flow". How do these experiences shape your craft? Do you find it hard to balance both?

Che Grand: The daily grind and the creative side clash a lot. It's not as hard to balance as the family life though. I just had a daughter and I love to be around her and her mother so I kinda feel bad when they can't have my attention because I'm working on music, writing or recording, I almost feel selfish at times. The job sh*t is nothing, if anything it makes me stronger, gives me more hunger. With each new 9-5 office job I get hired to, I always say to myself "this is the last one". I go in with the mind set of knowing one day I might leave and never come back. I'll never be happy at a desk all day.

khal: I'm always interested in how the environments we live in shape our creativity. I notice you've gone from London to the US, and in a few different states in the US. How do you feel these geographical changes have helped you progress? Do you think one spot has helped you mature more than any other?

Che Grand: One thing I always take pride in is the fact that I've been to so many places in my 24 years living. I hear people say all the time how they've never been out of their state and I feel sorry for them because there's so much out here in the world. I take something away from everywhere I go and it comes out in my work. Even if it's something as small a some slang from a certain spot, if I like it I'll find a way to use it, the dope thing about that is the kids living there that hear it will know I've been thru their city and it makes the lyrics a little more personal for them. The two places that have really helped shape me is Virginia and currently New York. One place taught me about community and helped me form a few friendships I'll have for life, the other is teaching me about struggle and pushing to get ahead.

khal: You've also been featured on BET's "Freestyle Friday" on 106 & Park. Do you feel as though freestyling is a lost art? When you freestyle, do you come straight off the dome or do you spit wshettens?

Che Grand: Wow! You took it back with that 106 sh*t! Hip-Hop isn't dead and freestyling isn't a lost art at all. I do it everyday in the shower and other random places I can find. I'm definitely more of a writer though, I don't believe in cats trying to get by solely off of freestyle raps, songs need structure. When I freestyle most of the time it doesn't even make sense, but I'll try to take the hottest lines I can remember and write them down later. The word Freestyle has varied definitions for a lot of people. For instance a dude might jot down a couple of lines real fast while hes eating his Cheerios in the morning, go to a battle later that night and spit those lines, mind you this is his first time saying the rhyme anywhere ever, it's not on any previous recording or anything. Some might say that's a freestyle, others might say it's written. I don't really care just don't be corny or I'll be that dude booing.

khal: With the work you've already put down, when do you think you will hang it up? How much success is too much success, or do you want to just stack bread until you can't stack any more?

Che Grand: 5 full length albums and I'm on to greener pastures. Conceptus Opus will be the Che Grand finale. I don't want to be that old annoying rapper that doesn't know when to shut up.

khal: What's going on with you in the future? Your MySpace page has a countdown to your forthcoming Everything's Good Ugly album. Can you let us know what's going on with that project?

Che Grand: Everything's Good Ugly will be my official debut album, I want to clear up any confusion fans of my work may have by stating that Conceptus Opus is going to drop just not yet. This project is going to be a continuation of the EP musically and I hope to take the listener a lot further into my good ugly world. 60+ minutes with my highs & lows, family, traveling,
Grey Goose drinking, misogynistic rapper with a lady viewing mentality.

khal: Once your album drops, do you plan on a big tour? Where can people go to get to know you better/deeper?

Che Grand: Right now the best way to get to know me is thru listening to my work. Get the album when it drops, the EP on iTunes, the mixtapes and just sit down with me, hear what's going on in my life and how I'm handling certain issues with my music so when I do get to your city we'll have something to talk about.

khal: Who are you currently rocking to for inspiration? Are you a strictly Hip-Hop kind of guy, or do your tastes run deeper than that?

Che Grand: I listen to a little bit of everything. I love Hip-Hop. Right now would be a good time to bad mouth the art I'm part of but I won't. I'll say that in terms of Hip-Hop as of right now I definitely rock my team Lessondary, I'm digging Lupe Fiasco, Lil Wayne, Clipse (VA!!!), Dilla forever! And all the Hip-Hop greats. I'm really a Funk type of guy; I like a lot of late 70's and 80's funk. Last week I was on another Parliament binge. For Jazz I'm on Thelonius Monk. I keep some old Loose Ends with me; Caron Wheeler's voice is so soulful. Donny Hathaway is good for the heart. I love Stereolab! Broken Social Scene is some good stuff. Madlib is damn near a god and if you've never heard of Benny Sings you should check him out. So yeah I rock everything...

khal: You're down with
Loud Minority, who also recently put out the critically acclaimed Tanya Morgan album. What advantages do you get off of being on a label like Loud Minority?

Che Grand: Everyone down with and/or associated with the label is great. I'm there because I know that the people supporting the project are treating it as if it's their own album and you really can't top that kind of love. It's an indie label so we do it all on our own, making the rewards feel that much better in the end.

khal: Where is Che Grand going to be in the next 5 years?

Che Grand: With God's grace I'll be healthy, possibly working on the third or fourth offering and working my way to that farewell show at some stadium they hold NBA championships at.

khal: Do you have any shootouts or words of wisdom you would like to drop on the masses?

Che Grand: Why be a human being when you can be a human doing. Everything's Good Ugly coming soon, thanks for checking me out in advance. Lessondary never secondary. Mid H and I'm gone.

For more information on Che Grand, peep his
MySpace page, and check out his bio over at Loud Minority. Also, peep EGU TV, Pt. 1. Loud Minority also made Che Grand's Final Countdown mixtape available FOR FREE here.
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America The Ugly

Figured, to keep with this non-July 4th air that's going on, I'd flex some of these ideas in a musical mp3 meltdown...

[note: these files (except for #6) have all been uploaded to yousendit this morning... they are there for 7 days or 100 downloads, whichever comes first... if/when these files die, they will NOT be reuploaded. if you are an artist who created one of these tracks and want them to be taken down, let me know. they will be taken down ASAP.]

#1: Pharoahe Monch "Book Of Judges", taken from the Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure Soundtrack. Monch rocking his style with a big rock-background underneath.

#2: DJ Shadow "Donald The Merciless", from a special 7" that came out last year (part 2 of Shadow's "GOP Rogue's Gallery" series), with an ill Donald Rumsfeld picture disc. Just peep it... he's got Cage on the mic on this one, too [shouts to Krylon Don from Zilla's Island for that ID].

#3: J. Rawls "America Fufill Your Promise"; instrumental selection from one of the underground's more slept on producers. Taken from his 2003 longplayer, Histories Greatest Battles Campaigns and Topics, which touches on a plethora of issues. Good listen.

#4: Jay Dee "Fuck The Police", from the 2001 vinyl single of the same name. Yes this is the illest shit you will hear today. Yes, I still mourn Dilla. Yes, this is the perfect music for late night July 4th debauchery.

#5: Here is an interview with Saul Williams that showed up on Sway and King Tech's "Wake Up Show" out in Cali. Interesting topics brought up.

#6: Jel ft. Wise Intelligent "WMD", taken from his Soft Money album. Wise, from Poor Righteous Teachers, goes very hard on this one. Jel provides the proper boom bap to compliment.

That's all for now. Download, experience, and think about what really went down during the building of this great nation of ours. Be EZ!
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food for thought, july 4th edition

Yes, this is one of those "anti-America" July 4th posts... fuck it though, the boy noz did his thing on his XXL column. Ill collection of well-placed songs... peep game. I don't want to jack his idea, just wanted to glorifiy some anti-establishment, anti-government, anti-everything shit.

#1: Company Flow "End To End Burners"

#2: Malcolm X speaking on race...

#3: Crips & Bloods History

#4: Mos Def "Katrina Klap"

#5: Public Enemy "By The Time I Get To Arizona"

#6: True Americans...

#7: Freedom of speech...

#8: DJ Krust ft. Saul Williams "Coded Language"

#9: Suheir Hammad from Def Poetry Jam

#10: Chappelle's Black Bush

#11: A Nigga Moment

#12: Richard Pryor in his glory


13 vids for the 13 states... enjoy your 4th!
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Welcome home, Kim!

As you may have seen on your morning news, Lil' Kim got released from prison early today. The reasoning behind her being locked up was retarded, but what can you do. In any case, a celebration is due. Peep the YouTube finds...

#1: Lil' Kim "Lighters Up" video

#2: Mobb Deep ft. Lil' Kim "Quiet Storm (Remix)" video

#3: Lil' Kim ft. Lil' Cease "Crush On You" video (personal favorite)

Much love, Kim. Do your thing.
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