VIDEO: Sole’s “The Long War (Lupe Fiasco Words I Never Said Detournment)”

Sole has been very active in the last year with an intense amount of new music and video projects he has been taking part in, which has even surprised Sole himself. He will be going on tour in a few weeks and if this pace is any indication, it may become a must-see tour this year.

In this track, he speaks about how fed up he is with record labels and he is not holding back on his thoughts.

OPINION: Has the foodie movement replaced music as the new high?

A few of you may have read the headline and said “wait, but John, you’re the music man, you’re music’s biggest fan, do you think that’s true?” Keep in mind that I’m a fat man who loves food, and we Hawaiians are known for our love of food. It’s two different animals altogether, but a recent column by music insider Bob Lefsetz made me think only for a few seconds. I realized that while the current love for the different foodie movements will not replace a love for music 100%, there is a certain level of fun, fanaticism, devotion, and elitism that is shared between the two communities, but are they really communities? Well, if you’re a regular visitor of this website, you’re a music fan, right? Then you know that you want to seek people who share some of your views. The same applies to foodies.

Food-related programs are all over the networks and on cable, there are networks dedicated to foods, and if you know where to look, you can watch incredible food programming from around the world. New Zealand and Australia have food scenes that are quite good, but they are just as good as the food scenes in the U.S., just as it is in Canada, just as it is in Europe. Now I looked back at what I just wrote, and it has the feel of reading a scene report in a punk magazine. I bring the punk thing up because Lefsetz had read an article about reading an article about a sandwich. A few years ago, reading about a sandwich would not gain much attention, but with social media as it is, people are able to react, comment, and send that sandwich article to find its share of fans. He looked at how the foodie communities are on a new level of things, which he felt was similar to what the music scenes were like not too long ago, before an important element changed the way people made, released, and consumed it. Now, food has of course been around forever, and we’ve always focused on foods in music, television shows, and movies. There’s an accepted awareness, and through that a celebration allowing people to say something that seems like a no-brainer: we love to eat:

This food renaissance is what music used to be. People can’t stop talking about it, can’t stop reading about it, can’t stop spending their money trying to titillate their taste buds. The food truck scene is like indie or punk, a reaction to the establishment that captures the heart of the adventurous.

With bands making so much money during the MTV era, music became about money. And now with money more prevalent in Silicon Valley and on Wall Street, music no longer gets the best and the brightest, but Snooki’s, the marginally-talented having a go before they settle into a life of drudgery.

Personally, I agree. I live 3 1/2 hours away from an incredible food cart scene in Portland, I live in a town where there are some very good taco trucks. I was raised in Honolulu, where lunch wagons were treated like kings. Everyone had their favorite spots, which were often favorites of my parents. I believe my favorite food truck “spot”, the legendary Tsukenjo Lunch Wagon, coincided with my favorite record spot, Music Box Records. My dad loved Tsukenjo, my mom loved Music Box, and that would be the roots of my love and appreciation of both.

20 years ago, if you wanted to know about a great food spot, you had to do the research in real time. You’d have to wait until the Friday newspaper to pick up a local or regional newspaper and see what was going on. Here’s a technique that used to be considered advanced, if not extra “nerdy”: public libraries stocked phone books from around your state and from large cities. It’s one thing to call the phone directory, but it was cool to be able to browse through the Yellow Pages and see what restaurants were in a city, what may be a pizza spot that wasn’t the big names. Now, as a record collector I’ve done the same thing. There are stories from countless hip-hop DJ’s and producers who have talked about going into new cities, ripping out the “Record” section from the Yellow Pages so that the next DJ would not know about the hot spots. If that section was already torn out, someone was out looking for records too. Vinyl junkies would go through microscopic classified ads in Goldmine, Record Collector, DISCoveries, and in the back of Rolling Stone, writing to record finding services and waiting two to three weeks for a reply, in the hopes someone had the record you’ve been looking for for years.

Tonight, I saw a commercial on TV about a new fish sandwich that Wendy’s was selling, or at least a new version of a fish sandwich. The fish used was called “North Pacific Cod”, and I thought okay, what exactly is “North Pacific Cod”, and if it is Alaskan, why couldn’t they call it Alaskan? Or is the fish from the Canadian West Coast? A quick search lead to a few forums that were heated with debates that came across like people getting pissy over who recorded the best non-LP B-sides. I’m aware that foodies are enthusiasts, but not on this level. People were talking about how fast food restaurants stopped using cod years ago, and that “North Pacific Cod” is just a brand name of sorts for pollock. That lead to people talking about how pollock is a lackluster fish that is weak, which then got people talking into how McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish was great 20 to 30 years ago before they changed the formula. This lead to people talking about how much sodium is in a typical fast food fish sandwich. These guys went deep the way music junkies will challenge each other about preferred Medeski, Martin & Wood tours and setlists. It made me laugh, but I then realized that I understood. People love food and want to know what makes that kind of food tick for them, just as people want to know why they love West Coast jazz better than jazz from New York, or how Japanese jazz is more eccentric and bold than European jazz or how European jazz should be considered a genre all its own. If you don’t believe it, hunt down a food blog or forum. You’ll be surprised.

Everyone is an information junkie, and the internet is a great place to find fellow obsessives like yourself, which really makes you want to get to know people who share some of your interests, and discovering what they’re into, be it food, music, or otherwise. I grew up tasting a wide range of foods but my own likes and dislikes were limited because for years I refused to try things. Now, I’m much more bold. I’m now writing and editing my first book, which combines my love of music with a love for food. I’m part of this movement and it feels great. In my podcast I always talk about how people can send me music, suggestions, gripes, and hot sauce. It’s not a joke: I love hot sauce and want to know what moves you. I like sauces, i enjoy going to new places to discover a local and regional ketchup or BBQ sauce I have never tried.

Is it silly to even describe these collectives as “scenes”? You can call it what you want, but behind the names and banners are people who want good food, will comment about bad food, and will go out of their way to find what they want so they can have their favorite spots. In music, you have scenesters and DJ’s who are called “tastemakers”. Now there are people who are looking for the people to make that taste, and become “tasteseekers”.

To this day, when I travel to a favorite city or want to go to a new place, my schedule is designed on what record stores I want to go to and what I want to have as a meal. Yet I also know that if I drive down a street and see something out of the blue, I can now take a risk, turn around and go to that new place. I can stop in the parking lot, click an app, and see what others are saying. It’s not unlike going out to garage or yard sales on Saturday, having a map on what houses you want to go to, but also taking a risk or two because the look of the house “feels good to you”. Maybe there will be good records, maybe not, but you’re going to take that chance. Just as record conventions have become the mecca for vinyl junkies of all ages, food conventions are growing in attendance. As a kid, I went to something in Honolulu called the Food & Product Show, and you could walk around and take free samples of whatever people were selling. Now, I seek food conventions not only as a way to try a new sauce or two, but perhaps to network my book and find future projects as a writer, food, music or otherwise.

It may seem childish, but it is child-like, the idea of celebrating something so common and yet… tasting something either will make you remember when you tried it the first time, or make you revive a fond memory, or you simply want to know why you held yourself back for so long on trying a certain country’s cuisine. It’s very much like music when you discover a genre, get overly excited, and now want to immerse yourself in all of the variations, knock-offs, copy-cats, and on and on and on. Foodies are like that too, and the great thing is that there’s so much out there. Now get to exploring and organize your bookmarks of recipes you want to try out in the near future. Go.

SEPARATED @ BIRTH: Dionne Warwick & Madame

On Twitter, DJ Tyriq Stiles wondered if he was the only one who thought singer Dionne Warwick, who hosted the show Solid Gold for years, had a strange resemblance to another frequent guest on the show, a puppet known as Madame. Madame was an extravagant diva that was the brainchild of Wayland Flowers, who was a staple of countless television talk and variety shows in the 60’s and 70’s (I remember Flowers and Madame when they were judges on The Gong Show.)

Anyway, here are the two ladies, together at last… or is it once again?


OPINION: Natalie Portman “outrage” over her not dancing 100% in “Black Swan”, oh me oh my!!!

Natalie Portman is this year’s Jennifer Beals, in that people are complaining about Portman not doing all of the dancing in Black Swan, just as Beals did not do all of the dancing in Flashdance. Going to movies is paying to see a story and the myths it contains, and creating a myth means doing things that are not real or do not actually exist. We all know actors for the most part do not do their own stunts, and some do not do their own singing. Some do, but most don’t.

There are two articles going around about how “fans are outraged” over how Portman, who portrays a ballet dancer in the 2010 film, apparently did not dance at all or did very little. Um, is this really new or is the issue that people who complain can be heard and read in amplified form, and it’s not just a rumor discussed amongst family, friends and co-workers? This Huffington Post article touches on how the movie studio had to respond to the allegations, while the woman who was Portman’s dance double says Portman only did five percent of the actual dancing. There, end of story right? Sadly, we all know it’s not going to be.

The dancer who did most of the dancing is Sarah Lane, which is probably listed in the movie credits but did anyone bother to read the credits? As with album liner notes, I would say no. Yet by revealing in an article, complete with handy profile photo, who she is, what are they trying to prove? The sinister side of me says she’s an opportunist who will probably become a judge on one of those dance talent shows that people seem to love these days, or they’ll give her a reality show where she auditions and teaches people but not bother showing the real struggles of a dancer in the entertainment industry. The decent side of me says that perhaps it will help Lane to get more jobs and movie opportunities, but now that she has been revealed behind the curtain, does she want to seek the spotlight or remain in the background?

Who benefits from this the most? The fans, who can now say “ha ha, we KNEW it wasn’t Portman” and if so, what do fans really gain from it? The DVD will remain in a box or the digital file will remain on a hard drive, ignored. Blog pages will not have any comments for years, and now what? When did it start? I don’t remember people getting furious when it was revealed most of the decent vocals on Paula Abdul‘s hit songs were actually done by Yvette Marine, whom I have called Abdul’s auto-tune. Abdul’s singing voice is not that good, and producers have always “buttered up” songs with singers who could do the job. A lot of times, the best part of songs are the background vocals not only because they have the hooks that become lifetime earworms, but because they sound good. No one ever said “did Janet Jackson do all the background vocals in that song she did for The Nutty Professor 2?” or “I bet Toni Braxton didn’t sing everything in “He Wasn’t Man Enough”.

But back to Portman. If people are truly complaining about actors not really dancing or singing in their videos, I would hate to see them when they discover how much they really don’t do in other roles they’ve appeared in. Are people that gullible these days, or can’t separate reality from high-budget depictions? Maybe technology has made it possible for us to see and hear anything and everything in an instant, we’re able to find out about news events as they are happening, to community with people in tragedy and joyful moments, and yet it’s almost as if simple comprehension is something that is “not cool” anymore. Natalie Portman is an actress, she puts on an act in her films, and… by the way, the films she stars in are not really “hers”. They are created by a movie studio. Did you all know this?

We live in a time when we no longer have to go to a library to discover things and do research, we are all linked to some of the greatest libraries in the world, and yet this whole “Portman rage” makes it feel as if we’re slowly making Idiocracy a reality.

OPINION: Return To The 36 Chambers, 16 years later


March 28, 1995.

16 years ago, hip-hop music was in a good place. Method Man had become THE man of the Wu-Tang Clan, who were becoming the hottest group in the land. Yes, it was still “the land”, Wu-ness was appreciated overseas but hadn’t become a worldwide movement just yet. In the summer of 1994, as “C.R.E.A.M.” was still getting airplay, the Gravediggaz made itself known in August. A few months later, Method Man released Tical (Def Jam). News surfaced that everyone in the Wu-Tang would release their own solo album, signed to whatever label wanted to snap them up. That had been the plan, a plan that was unheard of in any genre. The Beatles all went solo but they had Apple Records, which was their own label. Crosby, Stills & Nash expanded to include Neil Young, who had been signed on his own as a solo artist after leaving Buffalo Springfield. Then when CSNY splintered off, that allowed Young to explore his solo muse while CSN all released albums on Atlantic. Then when Stills wanted to form another group, and Crosby & Nash wanted to become a duo, it too went through Atlantic. That would change years later when Stills found himself on Columbia, and Crosby & Nash made ABC Records their home. The members of Kiss wanted to release four solo albums on the same day, and with much hype and a lot of money put into the campaign, they did. In hip-hop, groups like Digital Underground and the X-Clan all had intentions of being a group while having members in the collective going solo. It worked for a few of them, but it did not equal the fanaticism that would become one of Wu-Tang Clan’s trademarks.

16 years ago, Ol’ Dirty Bastard was obviously the crazy guy in the group. In the spring of 1994, MTV had begun airing a half-hour interview with the group that was edited with live performances of the group. It was then that Wu fans discovered that for Russell Jones, he liked to keep it old school, he loved keeping it dirty, and since he was raised without a father, he decided to take that identity as one of monikers, claiming that there was no father to his style. In that interview, he said he was Ol’, he was Dirty, and by default he was a Bastard. It was self-deprecation at its best, but there was humor mixed in with the bravado. He may have seemed reserved in that interview, but once you turned on the microphone, the man was ruthless. Up until that point, rap music was still about walking back and forth on a stage and you were either “cool, calm, and collected”, wanting to “fuck bitches”, or were ready to “bust a cap on your ass”. It may have come as a surprise that when Ol’ Dirty said “first things first, man, you’re fucking with the worst, I’ll be stickin’ pins in your head like a fucking nurse” with the kind of uncontrolled pandemonium similar to a water hose moving uncontrollably, it was as if he was ready to confront anyone that came in eye contact with him. He may have sounded and appeared to be controlled, and maybe later in life he was. But in those early years of the Wu-Tang Revolution, he was the young kid who was motivated to do better because he had no father. If there was no father to his style, who would dare tell him what to do? If he was to play the role of an only child, then he was going to be an unwatched kid ready to pull out some surprises.

Looking back, Return To The 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version (Elektra) seemed like any other hip-hop solo album, at least from the outside. It was a simple photo of Ol’ Dirty’s food stamp identification, but once you opened it up, you were in his Disneyworld. The intro consisted of him saying he would take things back to the days of Clarence Reid, a singer/songwriter known in some circles as Blowfly. Instead of singing Roberta Flack‘s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”, ODB decided to take it to bed and sing it as “The First Time Ever You Sucked My Dick”. When he began to sing, obviously showing that he wasn’t a professional singer, and had the vibrato during the word “balls”, I am certain some people must’ve said “this guy cannot be serious”. I laughed my ass off, and he did too by stopping the singing and telling everyone that what you will hear will be bangin’. With a click to a sample from the English dub of Master Killer, The RZA started to plot out the continuity that would become a major part of their music for years. Throughout sound and metaphor, the listener discovered that at the Shaolin temple, there were only 35 chambers. There was not a 36th, and in kung fu movies this was absolute. In Wu-Tang’s world, their home of Staten Island, New York was nicknamed Shaolin. The voice continues, and he said that he knew this, but with bravado, he said “but I want to create a new chamber.” The abbot asks “oh, and what would that be?” Then we explore for the first time what that 36th chamber is/sounds like. It is a Return To The 36 Chambers, or in this case, we’re going back to what made ODB who he is, his origins.

No one realized on March 28, 1995 how much of an influence the sample from Richard Pryor in the intro to “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” would be. The sample was Pryor talking about how someone told him “what the fuck, you can’t even sing”. Yet in entertainment, if you’re going to make an impact on anyone, sometimes you have to make sacrifices. Even if you can’t sing, you do your best to sing anyway. A sell-out move? Perhaps, but as Pryor clearly says, sometimes you have to sing to get not only attention, but “the pussy”. Then ODB commits to getting some pussy by strutting his vocal style and singing “oh baby, I like it raw/yeah baby, I like it raw”. What the hell is this rapper from the Wu-Tang Clan doing, singing on his own album? Being a rapper and singing on it was still something that didn’t happen as frequently as it does now, it’s almost expected these days. But in 1995, you were a rapper and you still rapped, that was your bread and butter. Here he was singing, and from Malcolm McLaren‘s 1982 album Duck Rock you hear a woman on a phone saying “I like the way you talk”. In the context of this album, it seems the lady likes the fact ODB is singing. ODB is making an impression on the ladies, and it seems, metaphorically, he is about to get the pussy. At this point, he metaphorically goes in and then proceeds to go deeper. He’s immersed, and he’s not coming out until he pulls himself out. He’s Dirty, and he was setting up what would become the mystique of his music and his persona for the remainder of his life.

I will not analyze each song, but here are a few things to consider. It had been later established that each Wu-Tang member would release an album not in the style of another rapper or album, but carrying the same kind of vibe that equaled some of their personal favorites. Some would say “oh, this album has a Strictly Business feel” or “this definitely has the same power as It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back” or “it is like an updated Long Live The Kane. On the album, Ol’ Dirty would refer to “bring it on back”, including in “Brooklyn Zoo” (“you want to react, bring it on back”) and “Dirty Dancin'”, and it seemed that if there was a switch in emphasis on what made good hip-hop great, the guys in the Wu-Tang were saying “let’s take it back”. Whether they were commenting on the shift from the East to the West, or wanting things to stop being glossy and shiny and remain gritty and street, it didn’t matter. The Wu-Tang were hungry and ready to be heard, and if that meant taking it back a few years to allow fans to remember where hip-hop came from, they were going to do it and they did. If N.W.A‘s Straight Outta Compton, originally titled From Compton With Love, was the group’s abusive love letter to Los Angeles, then Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (LOUD/RCA) could not be a greater soundtrack for New York City. With Return To The 36 Chambers, ODB was a building inspector and allowing everyone to come along for the ride.

“Brooklyn Zoo” is still a nice swift kick in the face, and is very much like Eric B. & Rakim‘s “Paid In Full” in that it has a lot of content and power for a song that consists of one single verse. “Hippa To Da Hoppa” sounds like a mutated old school track from the mid to late 80’s while “Rawhide” was of the future with its slightly off-center production. “Damage” was a great example of how The RZA produced his tracks and how he would end up making what he did. Apparently the song was not made specifically for ODB, but for anyone who wanted to have the song. It was intended to be a track for The Genius so he did his track normally. Somewhere down the line, The RZA felt that perhaps ODB should do the song, using the exact same lyrics. The final mix heard on the album is not a proper duet, but rather The RZA popping buttons off and on, alternating between ODB’s and Genius’ vocal tracks. This is why some of them are cut-off during mid-stream of a word or sentence, it’s not seamless by any means but this goes back to when The RZA was all about analog production and wanting to “keep it warm”. Sometimes his productions sounded like very rough demos, but the kind of demos you’d love to hear over and over again. To my knowledge, The RZA has not released full versions of “Damage” with complete verses from ODB and The Genius, nor do I know if they have been bootlegged or circulated in MP3/FLAC form. Did other Wu members do their own vocal tracks as well for the song? There are a lot of variables and possibilities, but so far what lurks on any existing multi-tracks is unknown outside of their immediate circle.

Before the first half of the album ends, ODB decides to do a song based on an old track he had done for years where he talks about about going to school and loving the classmates that’s turning him on. Killah Priest shares his views on what he likes too, and then ODB reveals that he’s down with dirty ladies. All of a sudden, his deepest fantasy comes true when his teacher wants to teach him a course in oral sex. ODB is like “what the fuck?” but does he stop? No.

The first half is over, and while he says that Part II is coming up, most people did not hear the proper introduction to “The Stomp”, due to the songs played in the background. In the intro, ODB is now spending some intimate time with a lady, and isn’t afraid to tell her that she is now his bitch.

Throughout the album, ODB is basically unleashing what was said to be a number of his classic routines, along with old school and comedy flashbacks. It wasn’t just taking it back to old school hip-hop, but schoolyard games when things were more innocent. If anything, Return To The Chambers was meant to be comedy relief in a genre that perhaps began started to take itself too seriously. It was still a young music, but it was finding itself in suits, it was not just a mere million dollar industry, various people had grander visions of the music and the community willing to spend their money on anything and everything that had to do with the boom bap. In fact, maybe when KRS-One spoke about the Return Of The Boom Bap, maybe he too wanted to “bring it on back”.

Yet despite the humor, sex rhymes, and word play that ranged from the infantile to dropping serious knowledge, there is a moment in “Going Down” that I always felt was the center point of the album. In the song he has a woman yelling at him at a rapid pace. As a means of finding some sense of personal and inner space, he sings to himself Judy Garland‘s “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. It showed, for a few seconds, that this man who had no father to raise him was very much a young kid at heart, was still loving music and life as if he was a young kid with friends who would have his back, no matter what. It was a brief crack into who Russell Jones was as a person. At the start of the album, the Pryor sample said that sometimes you have to sing to get the pussy and here he is on the album singing as if he’s wanting something better in his life, and hopes that by going over that metaphorical rainbow in the promised land, he’ll find it. You can cue up Raekwon‘s “Rainy Dayz” if you wish to continue with a bit of Wu-Tang continuity.

The vinyl and cassette version of Return To The 36 Chambers ended formally with “Cuttin’ Headz”, and a lot of times finding bonus tracks on another format are placed there to just fill up space. While “Dirty Dancin'”, originally released on The Jerky Boys soundtrack as a Wu-Tang track, is one of the bonus tracks on the CD version, it almost seems out of place. Perhaps it could have been released by “Give It To Ya Raw”, the B-side to “Brooklyn Zoo”. If there is a proper way to end Ol’ Dirty’s first album, then that honor belongs to the second bonus track, the incredible “Harlem World”. To this day, I still feel it is one of the best tracks Ol’ Dirty ever released. Yes, he obviously brings him elements from various well known songs but by using Kool & The Gang‘s “Hollywood Swingin'”, he creates a timeline that the listener must follow. He sings that he remembers something, so again we “go back” to the 1970’s. Eventually we hit the reference to a 20th century modern day C.H.U.D., or “cannibal humanoid underground dweller”, which takes us to 1984. Eventually, we realize that Ol’ Dirty has ended his adventures and we get to hear someone beating his ass as he cries out to his mom. That’s it.

It seems very random and scatterbrain, and yet within the madness was someone who was not afraid to be a man while revealing a softer side, as if he was Sears. He remained old school throughout the album with reflections of some of his musical influences, and as for being dirty, he didn’t care who he offended because he knew someone else might get off at it too. As for being a bastard, there was no one up until that point who had the guts to do what he was doing, in the way he did it. He had a level of confidence in his style that was incredible in the first four years of the Wu-Tang post-36 Chambers, but then things started to fall apart at an eerily slow pace. Maybe he felt that people were getting into the humor and prankster ways of his persona, and that’s what he ended up doing until his death. There was very much a serious side to Mr. Jones but he also knew that it was best to overshadow things with humor and twisted sexual tales. Fast forward to the song “Diesel”, originally released as a non-LP track, where he opens up the song by saying “I need help, i need help, the government is after me, I need help, someone help me please, someone help me, they already did 2Pac in, Biggie Smalls, someone help me, someone help me please”. It had been said that it sounded like he was paranoid and under the influence of something. If it was a substance of some sort, Ol’ Dirty was no longer the guy who was “trying to get up and be somebody”, he was becoming someone who wanted to hide over, beyond, and under rainbows if he could find that promised land. He sounded uglier and more disgusted. By saying the line “insecure about my ding dong, married to Babylon”, perhaps he was doing nothing more than reflecting a mirror on the community he came from and the people who may have felt the same way. Either that, or he knew that whatever drugs he was doing was consuming him, and this was nothing more than an audio diary towards his uncertain future.

Did he need to do songs with En Vogue, Mya, and Macy Gray? If anything, he stayed true to his passion for music, and if he had to sing in order to get what he felt was rightfully his, he did. He became everyone he established. He became Big Baby Jesus, he was Dirty McGirt, he was Ol’ Dirt Schultz, but he was always Unique Ason, the original U-God. Yet behind the layers of comic book stories, fantasies, and verbal attacks to the mind, body and soul, he always remained Russell Jones. Yet by being branded Russell Jones, he knew that no government name was going to hold him back from whatever he wanted to do, in music and in life. No father to his style, no true name to the shell that tried to contain him, and yet in life he was beyond life, always searching. Maybe he wasn’t searching for something more, I think he was comfortable with what he had. The ego of more was in his music, but there was some sense in the mind of his. I think he always knew that wherever he laid his hat would be home, be it mental or physical, and throughout his life he tried to find a sense of home that he could never find in the first half of his life. Ol’ Dirty Bastard was someone who had the balls to say he was willing to take a chance to create a chamber, a 36th chamber in a place where only 35 had existed. It was a bold way to say that the Wu-Tang Clan was ready to put their foot in the door to continue the traditions of what came before, but showing that the future can be incredible if you allow it to be. It’s sadly fitting that ODB died at the age of 35, two days before his 36th birthday. He did all that he could to reach the unobtainable 36th chamber, and yet perhaps in life he knew he could never get their alive. It was too big of a goal, his heart got in the way and unfortunately it was his heart that gave out on him.

He was tragedy and comedy all wrapped up into a witty lyricist who was not perfect, yet never lived as if perfection was something worth striving for. Within his flaws was an uncontrolled child who played beyond his curfew, and a man who refused to be played, although his personal demons did end up playing him for the fool he truly was not.

“You want to react? Bring it on back.”

r.i.p. Russell Tyrone Jones.

REVIEW: Death Kit’s “Devadasi” (7″ single)

Photobucket Dreamy, airy pop, maybe even close to synth-pop as synth-pop gets? Well, it’s good pop music from Death Kit, whose new single on Fort Lowell will be enjoyed by those who have a love for pop craftiness.

“Devadasi” is the A-side that sounds like some of the best British pop of the early 80’s and early 90’s, two distinct eras that still has its share of fans around the world. “I Can Make You Love Me” appears here in remix form by […music video?], and it has a nice dance groove which brings to mind the whispers of Tears For Fears pre-Songs From The Big Chair.

Despite its synthy textures, Death Kit are also capable of stripping the wall of sound down and going at it acoustically (as shown here), but what they’re able to do in any context is very enjoyable. I welcome more singles, and in time a full length.

(You can order the “Devadasi” single by Death Kit by heading to the Fort Lowell Records blog.)

VIDEO: The Roots with Bootsy Collins’ “Tear The Roof Off The Sucker (Live on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon)”

If you missed last night’s Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, Bootsy Collins sat in with The Roots throughout the show. While on, they were able to perform Parliament‘s “Tear The Roof Off The Sucker”. Here it is.

Bootsy has a new album coming out on April 26th called Tha Funk Capitol Of The World.

REVIEW: Ini-Herit Skill’s “Beats For Breakfast”

Photobucket Running at 35 minutes, Beats For Breakfast is a production resume album of sorts by producer Ini-Herit Skill. With a title like Beats For Breakfast, I would’ve liked it had he played with a concept or theme, which he does with the titles. While he didn’t do that, what he did to is push all of his efforts into making some nice music, and nice this is.

The 10 tracks on here have the kind of feel you would expect in hip-hop throughout the 90’s: semi-familiar hooks and samples layered over booming beats that are well centered and groomed. The instrumentals here are ready-made for anyone to rap or sing over them, and that’s what these are, ready-made songs that highlight Ini-Herit Skill’s capabilities in sound and he is very good at what he does. Some of the tracks I liked include the philosophical “Chillin'” and the potentially anthemic “Let Me Eat“. Even if some of the samples used may be familiar to a few listeners, it’s nice to hear them differently so that it’s not just “aaaah, he used what Kanye West used.” And and all sounds are for the taking.

There were one or two songs where I would’ve liked a slightly grittier sound, maybe a bit more distortion, pitched down a bit more, or mixed more wide instead of just being censored, but those can often be my elitist listening/production preferences at play. Ini-Herit Skill, as it stands, has inherited skills from the producers of the past while paving his way towards the future. Anyone who loves cool jazzy and soul samples will like what he does with them here, but I can also hear someone who is capable of twisting anything given to him. Be on the lookout.

(You can preview the album by clicking the 4-song sampler on the Bandcamp player below.)

SOME STUFFS: Spring tour dates for Crystal Stilts

Let’s be honest: doesn’t this photo look like your old P.E. teacher taking your classmates out for a nice trip at the pond behind his house. Scary, isn’t it? Well, maybe not, but the truth is this is not a special weekend with your gym buddies, but rather a band called Crystal Stilts

The band is releasing their follow up to the Shake the Shackles EP on April 12th with a full-length, called In Love With Oblivion (Slumberland), and they are going to hit the road in support of it. You can have a preview of the album by checking this song out, called “Through The Floor”. Crystal Stilts – Through The Floor by Slumberland Records

If you were moved by the track, or you’re already a fan and are anxious to know where they will play, either you’re patient and didn’t just hit the tour dates first, or you like how I write. I would hope you’re the former. Nonetheless, patience comes to those who wait.

Sat-Apr-16 New York, NY Le Poisson Rouge #
Sun-Apr-17 Brooklyn, NY Music Hall of Williamsburg #
Sat-Apr-23 Raleigh, NC Kings Barcade
Mon-Apr-25 Birmingham, AL Bottletree
Tue-Apr-26 New Orleans, LA Circle Bar
Thu-Apr-28 Houston, TX Fitzgeralds (upstairs)
Fri-Apr-29 Austin, TX Austin Psych Fest 4 at Seaholm Powerplant
Sat-Apr-30 Dallas, TX Club Dada
Tue-May-03 Phoenix, AZ Rhythm Room
Wed-May-04 San Diego, CA Casbah
Thu-May-05 Santa Barbara, CA TBD
Fri-May-06 Los Angeles, CA Natural History Museum
Sat-May-07 San Francisco, CA Rickshaw Stop
Sun-May-08 Sacramento, CA The Hub
Tue-May-10 Portland, OR Mississippi Studios
Wed-May-11 Seattle, WA The Crocodile
Thu-May-12 Vancouver, BC Biltmore
Fri-May-13 Kennewick, WA Red Room
Sat-May-14 Boise, ID Colorcube
Sun-May-15 Salt Lake City, UT Urban Lounge
Mon-May-16 Denver, CO Larimer Lounge
Wed-May-18 Minneapolis, MN 7th Street Entry
Thu-May-19 Madison, WI High Noon
Fri-May-20 Chicago, IL Empty Bottle
Sat-May-21 Detroit, MI Magic Stick
Sun-May-22 Toronto, ON Sneaky Dees
# = w/ Spectrum

Crystal Stilts “Through The Floor” from Slumberland Records on Vimeo.

SOME STUFFS: Soulive release new live DVD

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The guys in Soulive seem to be more busy than ever, both as a group and individually. Together they released this week a new DVD called Bowlive: Live At The Brooklyn Bowl and for this one they have welcomed a number of their music friends, including ?uestlove of The Roots, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Warren Haynes, and as you can see by the cover, many more. Check it out.