VIDEO: Ski Beatz, Anarchy, Rino Latina II, 漢 & Maccho’s “24 Bars To Kill”

There are times when Japan is very much ahead of the game, but some outside of Japan feel that if they can’t understand it, it’s not worth their time. Make it worth your time. Check this video for “24 Bars To Kill”, a collaboration between Ski Beatz, Anarchy, Rino Latina II, & Maccho, who continue the tradition of a solid posse track.

The song is taken from an album Ski Beatz put together called 24 Hour Karate School Japan, released last week on the R-Rated label. The album features such artists as Seeda, KGE The Shadowmen, Dabo, Zeebra, and many others who have been a part of Japan’s deep hip-hop scene for years. You can find out more about the album by clicking here.

For a taste of what the rest of the album sounds like, check out this trailer they made for it.

VIDEO/OPINION: Kanye West’s “Runaway: The Movie”

  • As reported a few days ago, Kanye West revealed the cover art for his new album, now having an additional word in the title: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. In Twitter, West stated that the cover was banned, at least in the U.S. The buzz had begun. A day later, West said that the banned cover would be one of five different covers. In my editorial piece, I felt that perhaps it was nothing more than a promotional tactic, the idea that a cover can be banned in 2010 is out but not entirely out of the question. Even before the news of this being one of five covers, I felt that perhaps he would just reveal a new image each week, and maybe the week before the release date, we’d see the final version.
  • This isn’t the first album cover that has been banned or changed in some fashion, nor is it the first album to be released with multiple covers. Jane’s Addiction‘s third album, Ritual de lo Habitual, featured a portrait put together by vocalist Perry Farrell that pictured him with his wife and lady friend. While it was illustrated nudity, some felt it was too naughty, so Farrell released the album in a “freedom of speech”-type cover. It was released this way on vinyl, cassette, and CD.
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    The Rolling Stones are known for the Andy Warhol-designed cover for 1971’s Sticky Fingers, but in Spain, their record label didn’t want people to see Joe Dallesandro‘s, um, “impression”, so an alternate cover was made. Arguably, a photo of fingers in what may be cranberry sauce almost comes off as blood, and maybe more sinister.
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    Led Zeppelin released six different covers for what would end up being their last album, In Through The Out Door.
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    The Police released not two, three, or six, but 36 different covers for their 1983 album, Synchronicity. A Tribe Called Quest released three variations for their album Midnight Marauders, The Roots played with alternate covers not once, but twice, for Things Fall Apart (five different covers), and The Tipping Point (promotionally, each member of the group had their own cover made up for them, although in stores and online, two covers were made and released.)

  • Playing with album cover art may be an oddity in 2010, especially as there is a belief that the album format is dead, but artists like West are letting fans realize that it’s not, it is still very much about the full-length experience. This leads us to West’s new thing to experience, that of his 33 minute “film”, Runaway. In my day, we called it a long-form video but since music videos are no longer on MTV and VH-1, people only remember videos by what they see on YouTube. People are comparing Runaway, directed by Hype Williams, to the works of Michael Jackson, since he was known for being extravagant with his videos, but take a look at it. It is nothing more than a very good, artistic, abstract “highlight reel”, on cassingles and CD singles they would call this the equivalent of a “snippet tape”, where all you would hear are excerpts. This video serves as a sampler of what’s to come on his album. I wouldn’t compare this to MJ as I would to artists who created long form videos that served as a sampler for their albums, including Tin Machine:


    and The Roots.

    So what about the West video?

  • For one, it is obviously a big budget music video, or for the sake of not arguing, a film. It’s a “mini-film” that represents the music that is on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and if you’re watching to hear the music, it shows that he is still being very intricate and deliberate with what he’s saying and how he’s saying it. You can complain about his methods of promotion, of his music or self, but he’s putting an incredible amount into his music and that pays off in the end. As for the imagery, it is not typical of an average music video, although you might see it in a lot of videos from Mexico or Spain, or something more arty in the indie rock world. I will go as far as to say the video reminds me of some of the more left-of-center films of the 70’s, such as Ken Russell‘s The Devils, Pier Paolio Pasolini‘s Salò (The 120 Days of Sodom), and Alejandro Jodorowsky‘s The Holy Mountain. All of these films play with spirituality and human nature, and while West’s video is not religious in tone, you do have the visuals of a bird that may be a fallen angel, which of course leads to the questions “who is the fallen angel?” and “who exactly does the fallen angel represent?”

    Fans on blogs and boards have touched on West’s use of mythology, bringing up something Brian “B+” Cross stated in a reply to me on Twitter: “what is he really saying retelling the Phoenix myth? Neoclassical navalgazzery?” In comic books, one of the more celebrated stories in the Marvel Universe and X-Men legacy involves Jean Gray, known earlier on as Phoenix or Dark Phoenix. There was a storyline where Gray commits suicide, something you never experienced in a comic book, especially not in the 1980’s. Now, I haven’t been into The X-Men since the 80’s, but I definitely remember the image on The Uncanny X-Men #136, citing the death of “the child of light and darkness”.
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    Now go back to the album cover. Is West suggesting that he is “the child of light and darkness”, the dark beast and the woman of light complexion, of good and evil, two opposite forces uniting as one?

    I think that will be a recurring theme for him in the next two years, the idea of renewal and resurrection of himself and hip-hop, if he is exploring the idea that hip-hop is dead. Is that what West is doing, and if so, is he doing it well? Maybe the unique imagery is fooling us into thinking this is good, or as B+ stated, “Runaway was like anorexic Cocteau”, in reference to filmmaker Jean Cocteau.

  • Compared to most hip-hop music videos, even the more independent works, this is fairly avant-garde and it may move someone to question West and whether or not he’s evil, demonic, or a disciple of Lord Satana. In a recent tweet, West said he calls his works “commercial art” and mentions it almost as if it was an epiphany. He is a commercial artist creating art, that’s what an artist is, but in a time when the public is unsure of what they’re seeing and hearing, that art is either unknown or brushed off as being too high-brow, especially by a black artist, as if great works of art by black people or anyone “of color” does not (or cannot) exist.
  • It’s not exactly a color thing, but it will be brought up because that is what’s being presented in the artwork for the cover and the imagery in the video. You see an ugly beast on the cover, that’s one issue. You see a ballerina on another cover, what makes one more beautiful and accepted over the other? Is it the colors and shades used, or are we in control of the unseen and unknown beast, as portrayed on the cover? Do we put blame on the beast when it is evil and sinister, and do we only praise what’s beautiful when it has an established and accepted look? Watch the video, it’s very elegant, and when was the last time you said that for a hip-hop video? It’s not hip-hop, and yet the nature of hip-hop suggests that it is. Hip-hop, at its best, has always been about a sponge that sucks up anything and everything, and spits it out in a new way. Writer/journalist Todd “Stereo” Williams watched the video, and posted on Twitter that “(The Pharcyde) did the ‘white servants’ thing in the “Runnin” video 15 years ago, because Runaway features scenes that look like it could have been pulled from that video. In a recent Twitter search about the “white servants” in the video, a lot of people are taken aback by it, but it was done before to great effect.

    While it may not be 1995, it’s 2010, and a younger generation who have no idea of the references and suggestions might thing it’s revolutionary, but they’re not. The execution is great, but what I’m more fascinated with is more or less the telling of the story, whatever the story may be.

  • If anything, Runaway: The Movie and his latest music is making people discuss and decipher the art. Everyone knows what it’s like to go into the club, talk in the club, get high in the club, and drink up and sigh in the club, maybe get a little nub while piling up on the grub. Now, he’s giving you maybe not something different, but “something else”. That “something else” has existed for years in other places, but now it’s being presented to a new audience, a new generation, in a nicely dusted fashion. It’s the telling of the story that will determine its fate, and we’re only in the intro of the telling of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Maybe the end credits to this story will roll on December 20, 2012, the day before the much hyped end of the world, and maybe that beast on his album cover will “dominate and smile over us for all eternity (or its last 24 hours). Either that, or he’ll laugh at it all and start on his next album, to be released on the end of the world’s first anniversary in 2013.

    (Mahalo nui to B+ of Mochilla for the feedback and last minute addition to this article, and Donald Ely for reminding me of the crotch ID error. I wrote this article late in the evening, I’ll blame that.)

  • RECORD CRACK: New label brings vinyl releases to metalheads

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    My Metal Club is a new label dedicated to bringing quality heavy metal to today’s vinyl junkie. The focus of this label seems to be to bring heavy metal to the fan who wants them, and more specifically to bring it on vinyl. The label is scheduled to release exclusive releases by Metallica, Pantera, Monster Magnet, and Anthrax among many others, and all of them are legitimate, nothing unauthorized. The metal community is very supportive of vinyl, as there seems to be an overwhelming amount of new metal albums released on a regular basis, especially in 2010.

    Each release will be available directly from the label, or through stores that regularly stock quality vinyl. What’s also interesting is that while My Metal Club is associated with Caroline/EMI Label Services, the labels who plan to participate with them range from cherished indie labels like Century Media, Metal Blade, and Nuclear Blast, but also Island Def Jam and Warner Bros., so it seems that these labels are uniting together (in spirit at least) with My Metal Club to bring the music to those who still show support by spending their money on it.

    Labels of all genres: take note.

    VIDEO: Melvins’ “Electric Flower”

    Solid sounds with solid visuals from one of the more solid bands ever created, Melvins. The video was directed by Mark Brooks, so feast on this.

    (Video courtesy of

    RECORD CRACK: Bobby Long unleashes white 10 inch EP

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    British musician Bobby Long is touring the U.S. and is bringing his music to the people not only through performances, but through a brand new, 5-song 10″ EP called Stranger Songs. The EP features three songs from Long’s forthcoming album, A Winter Tale, and two exclusive tracks.

    The EP will be available at his shows beginning next week, along with the usual vinyl merchants. Here is where you’ll be able to see him live.
    Oct. 22 Madison Theatre Covington, KY
    Oct. 23 Carnegie Music Hall Pittsburgh, PA
    Oct. 24 The Town Ballroom Buffalo, NY
    Oct. 25 Northern Lights Clifton Park, NY
    Oct. 28 Terminal 5 New York, NY
    Oct. 29 Wellmont Theatre Montclair, NJ
    Oct. 30 Electric Factory Philadelphia, PA
    Nov. 1 Calvin Theatre Northampton, MA
    Nov. 2 Calvin Theatre Northampton, MA
    Nov. 3 State Theater Ithaca, NY
    Nov. 5 Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel Providence, RI
    Nov. 6 State Theater Portland, ME
    Nov. 7 Capitol Center Concord, NH
    Nov. 9 Toad’s Place New Haven, CT
    Nov. 10 Metropolis Montreal, QC
    Nov. 12 Kool Haus Toronto, ON
    Nov. 13 House of Blues – Cleveland Cleveland, OH
    Nov. 14 Crowfoot Ballroom Pontiac, MI

    You can keep up to date on all of Long’s adventures on Twitter by clicking to @BobbyLongNews.

    FREE MP3: Black Eyed Peas’ “The Time (the dirty bit)”

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    Black Eyed Peas are not dead, which will be to the disgust of millions of people who cannot stand what the group has turned into. The group used to be one of the more hated groups in hip-hop, being blamed for being wanna-be Native Tongue rappers to trying to be too boho. In 2010, they are now one of the most hated groups in pop music, and these guys do not care, because “I Gotta Feeling” still gets airplay 16 months after the fact, and that’s 16 months of royalty checks you do not have.

    Because they are not dead, their hints about their last album being The E.N.D. was nothing more than a sales pitch, for their new album will be called The Beginning, due out on November 30th. Here is the first track to be released, called “The Time (the dirty bit)”.

    VIDEO: Black Breath’s “Unholy Virgin”

    Black Breath represent the mighty metal underworld of Seattle, and they’re signed to Southern Lord, who released their debut album Heavy Breathing in March.

    The band will be spending their November in Europe for a tour, so here are the dates:
    November 4 – Essen, DE @ Panic Room
    November 5 – Copenhagen, DK @ Stengade
    November 6 – Stockholm, SE @ Swahili Bob’s Fest Vol. 5 w/ Crude
    November 7 – Oslo, NO @ Garage
    November 8 – Gothenburg, SE @ Truckstop Alaska
    November 9 – Hamburg, DE @ Hafenklang
    November 10 – Berlin, DE @ Jagerklause
    November 11 – Prague, CZ @ Klub 007
    November 12 – Budapest, HU @ Durer Kert
    November 13 – Crnomelj, SI @ MKK
    November 14 – Vienna, AT @ Arena
    November 15 – Milan, IT @ Magnolia
    November 16 – Bologna, IT @ Nuovo Lazzaretto
    November 17 – Lausanne, CH @ Le Romandie w/ Knut
    November 18 – Paris, FR @ Glazart
    November 19 – Messnacy, BE @ Rider’s Park
    November 20 – Hasselt, BE @ Muziekodroom w/ Rise & Fall, Nails
    November 21 – London, UK @ Borderline
    November 22 – Manchester, UK @ Star & Garter
    November 23 – Glasgow, UK @ The Arches
    November 24 – Birmingham, UK @ Hare & Hounds
    November 25 – Cardiff, UK @ Buffalo Bar
    November 26 – Tilburg, NL @ 013 w/ Misery Index, Grave, Arsis, more…
    November 27 – Utrecht, NL @ Le Guess Who w/ Torche

    Then they’ll take a break and do a hometown show on December 30th with Neurosis and Wolves In The Throne Room.

    SOME STUFFS: Pigeon John to open for DJ Shadow on forthcoming tour

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    Pigeon John will be joining your favorite DJ savior, DJ Shadow, on a forthcoming tour starting next week Monday in Vancouver, British Columbia.

    DJ Shadow & Pigeon John Fall 2010 Tour
    Oct 25 Mon Vancouver BC @ Commodore Ballroom
    Oct 26 Tue Seattle WA @ Showbox at the Market
    Oct 27 Wed Portland OR @ Roseland Theatre
    Oct 30 Sat Las Vegas NV @ House of Blues
    Oct 31 Sun Los Angeles CA @ House of Blues
    Nov 1 Mon Anaheim CA House of Blues
    Nov 3 Wed Albuquerque NM @ Sunshine Theater
    Nov 5 Fri Dallas TX @ House of Blues
    Nov 6 Sat Houston TX @ House of Blues
    Nov 7 Sun New Orleans LA @ House of Blues
    Nov 9 Tue Atlanta GA @ Loft at Center Stage
    Nov 11 Thu Baltimore MD @ Rams Head Live
    Nov 12 Fri Toronto ONT @ The Phoenix
    Nov 13 Sat Montreal QUE @ Club Soda
    Nov 14 Sun Boston MA @ House of Blues
    Nov 15 Mon NYC @ Irving Plaza
    Nov 18 Thu Cleveland OH @ House of Blues
    Nov 19 Fri Chicago IL @ Park West
    Nov 21 Sun Denver CO @ Ogden Theater
    Nov 23 Tue Salt Lake City UT @ The Depot

    Before the tour begins, Pigeon John will do two dates in Colorado this week. Keep in mind these shows are NOT part of his tour with DJ Shadow.
    Oct 22 Fri Colorado Springs CO @ The Black Sheep
    Oct 23 Sat Durango CO @ The Abbey Theater

    SOME STUFFS: Crystal Castles organize tour in 2011

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    Crystal Castles are proving you can be heard and known without any level of mainstream airplay, enough for them to plan out a small tour next year in late winter/early spring. Check them out.

    March 2 San Diego CA – House of Blues
    March 3 Pomona CA – Fox Theatre
    March 4 San Francisco CA – Warfield Theatre
    March 6 Portland, OR – Roseland Theater
    March 7 Vancouver, BC – Commodore Ballroom
    March 8 Seattle, WA – Showbox at the Market
    March 11 Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
    March 12 Chicago, IL – Riviera Theatre
    March 13 Royal Oak, MI – Royal Oak Music Hall
    March 15 Philadelphia, PA – Theater of Living Arts
    March 16 Washington DC – 9:30 Club
    March 18 New York, NY – Terminal 5
    March 19 Boston, MA – House of Blues
    March 26 Miami, FL – Ultra Music Festival
    April 2 Toronto, ON – Sound Academy