Los Angeles vocalist Snoh has released a new song called “Bad Things” and for this, she was able to bring in Common for a nice verse to make it sound nice and warm. Snoh is originally from Sweden but is living in L.A. to let the United States and the world know about her and her singing talents. Perhaps this song with Common will make people turn their heads twice in 2015, so be early and do it now in 2014. The song was produced by No I.D., who produced the full EP to come from Snoh called There Will Be Sunshine (ARTium QOQ/Epic).
Nobody’s Smiling (Def Jam) is what I would call “comfort zone Common”, in that everything on this album is what Common fans have come to expect from one of Chicago’s all time best MC’s. The flows remain strong, the lyrics are poignant, and the songs hold up from start to finish. There are no surprises and nothing mindblowing, but don’t think it means that this is bad. By all means, this is a solid album from start to finish and there are no disappointments whatsoever, it’s the type of Common that has made people want to hear more, the songs that may be bold and daring but make a swift turn around to let you know he’s still the classiest and styling man around. This is the Common you loved 10 to 15 years ago, and he shows why he understands what people want to hear.
If you’re looking for something negative in this review, let’s see if I can come up with something. At this point, it’s hard to say if people want to hear a bold and daring Common, if they expect to hear him do some dance tracks or throw in some dubstep or do a duet with Ariana Grande, and maybe that can happen with the next album, EP, or song. For now, no thrills, it’s straightforward and to-the-point Common so if you want to expect good music, this is him in his comfort zone. It’s hard to say if someone like him would be willing to throw out different expectations, especially at a time when MC’s are more of a risk factor for musical efforts than ones involving publicity. It may be one of many reasons why this album is called Nobody’s Smiling, no one wants to be involved in doing bullshit and this is a no-bullshit album. Maybe next time, he’ll throw out the unexpected but for now, not now.
These may have been two names you never thought you’d see or hear together but now it’s reality. Their collabration is called “Dear Diamond”, which has been turned into a stunning video, or at least stunning to those who wish to be stunned, dazzled, or even razzled.
Blaqstarr has two EP projects coming out very soon, including Trinity and a Baltimore Club Music release, and is currently promoting the Blaq-files 2002-2006 EP on Jeffree’s/Mad Decent.
6th Sense (Sean-Touré Remix) – Common from The Big La, Todd Kelley on Vimeo.
Sean-Touré had his eyes set on the music of Common and decided to embrace all senses with doing a remix of “6th Sense”, the song he did with Bilal. Check out the recreation.
Yancey Boys have a nice one with “Quicksand”, and by welcoming Common and Dezi Paige, you know that’s a ball in the goal right there. Need further convincing? The instrumental is from the Dilla vaults. Boom: GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!
People who are in tune with 9th Wonder’s Jamla label know how much he and others have been pushing for people to become aware of Rapsody. Songs with her have been dropped here and there, and then word of an album materializing was out. The album has finally been released for all to hear, and best of all, she’s making it available for free. It’s called She Got Game and it’s safe to say when you, your main man and your mama hears this, they will all repeat the name of this album. The entire package is hosted by DJ Drama with a wide range of special guests and producers, and now you can take it for a car test, courtesy of DatPiff.
It is not the first time there has been discussion of a fifth Beatle. Eddie Murphy once created the the character of Clarence Walker for Saturday Night Live, whose claim was that he added the word “man” in songs such as “I Want To Hold Your Hand, Man”.
In reality, one of the true “fifth Beatles” was the late Billy Preston, who jammed with the group in early 1969 which lead to him not only sitting in with the group, but being the only “extra” Beatle to receive a credit on their records for “Get Back” and “Don’t Bring Me Down”.
As for Kanye West, what business isn’t he getting himself into as of late? This is also not the first time West has come close to being within the Beatles circle, as he put together the Late Orchestration: Live At Abbey Road project.
Now, with the help of the Tutankhamun Brothers (Mr. Troublesome & UveBrother), The Beatles and West have united again, at least in spirit.
The Brothers have put together What’s A Black Beatle, a new mash-up project putting together Beatles instrumental portions with Kanye West’s verbal portions, and what you get is something quite nice. Even though The Beatles multi-tracks have been made available since the release of their Rock Band video game, where the possibilities of remixing and edits have been endless, this is brand new and quite nice. Stream and listen, or download it for free before the man takes it away, man.
For other Tutankhamun Brothers projects, click here.
A lot of people have wanted to see the end result of the Suite For Ma Dukes performance that was created in honor of the late James “Dilla” Yancey, and now it has been released. While it is certain it will be released on its own, you’ll have to purchase the full DVD box set it is in, but it’s worth the cost of admission.
Timeless: The Composer/Arranger Series (Mochilla) was, as the press material says, “the name of a concert series that was created in homage to the composer/arrangers who have influenced hip-hop in the most literal and profound ways.” In other words, it is a much deeper way of experiencing the music that influenced a cast of producers, DJ’s, and fans than just reading interviews.
Ethiopian jazz musician Mulatu Astatke was someone whose music may not have been massively spread in the same way Miles Davis and John Coltrane, but his influence has spread around the world for his unique musicianship, compositions, and arrangements. A recent reissue of his work by Strut Records (my review can be found here) explores what he has been known for, primarily in hushed circles but now people are getting a chance to hear his genius. For some elitists, jazz should be purely American and only American, but by going directly to the primary source of that jazz, Astatke comes full circle with it as an unspoken means of communication, and to finally see him performing this live is incredible.
Things get lifted to a higher level when Eothen “Egon” Alapatt introduces an artist who was a big influence on him and a number of people. He’s interrupted by MF DOOM briefly before Egon speaks on finding Verocai’s album, and asking the crowd if they have a specific pressing of the album, the “must have” pressing (record nerds know the deal). Before this segment, we see a photo collage of Verocai in the studio, and almost 40 years later, we see him as he is today, in the flesh, tall and lanky, ready to play. As soon as he gets the orchestra and band ready, there’s something you feel will happen. Then “Karina” begins, and it’s true magic. It’s the unfolding of the album, the equivalent of seeing a music video for the first time after staring at album covers and reading liner notes for years. In this case, it’s in the flesh, in your face, and live. You are seeing your imagination and admiration come to life, and it’s happening, song by song. Those in the crowd know these songs by heart, and to hear each song get applause less than five seconds after each one is sensed is very moving. It’s soulful, it’s funky, it made an impact on hip-hop in a small way, and it is that “outside” admiration that has managed to make him bigger outside of his home country of Brazil. You see Verocai smile a bit, and you know he’s feeling it too. 18 songs later, and you wish he would play another 18.
Suite For Ma Dukes is the music of Dilla recreated by Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and a 60 piece orchestra. As a record collector, you’ve probably gone through countless records by big bands, high schools, and Air Force groups, and yet you enjoy them because it’s small parts of a big puzzle unknown and unnamed. These big bands will not hesitate to cover the music of a musician, band, or composer. Dilla was known for not just sampling known and unknown tracks, but to do it in a way that doesn’t exactly sound like the original, he was funky and got a lot of attention because people liked his work. To be able to hear his works recreated by a 60-piece orchestra is a trip, because now you’re hearing one’s sample-based intellect turned into reality, it’s not a drum machine or sampler you’re seeing, but each sound reproduced as traditional composition, notated note by note, beat by beat. You’ll hear familiar sounds, familiar beats and rhythms, and one can only imagine what it would have been like of Dilla was alive to see and more importantly, hear this. The crowd goes nuts as soon as they recognize things.
One of my favorite moments is when “Stakes Is High”, the song Dilla produced for De La Soul is performed. Various special guests roll up on stage, showing love and support for the music Dilla created, and… I should also state that most of the songs performed in Suite For Ma Dukes is very much a suite in the jazz and classical sense, all done instrumentally. The orchestra is getting down, the guests are getting down, and conductor Ferguson is banging and head-nodding, showing his appreciation for the feeling he is helping create. All of a sudden, out from the crowd of special guests on the stage comes Posdnuos with microphone, and the crowd absolutely goes nuts. It turns from a controlled jazz and classical performance to one where one could imagine people in the crowd pointing at the stage, placing hand to mouth, and saying “oh shit, that’s motherfucking Plug One!”. In place of Dave (Trugoy) was Talib Kweli, and to see the smiles on the entire orchestra… they know what’s going on. It was such a moment for me, especially as a De La Soul fan, I almost started to tear up. It’s a great song unfolding and revealing itself, from our imaginations to the reality, and it looks and feels good. As Jurassic 5 once said, it’s about holding on to what’s golden, and this was truly a golden moment. The cinematography is incredible, true to the photographs of Brian “B+” Cross and Eric Coleman (who directed this), one of my favorite shots is at the intro to “”Don’t Nobody Care About Us”, when you see the drummer about to get ready, he’s looking at Atwood-Ferguson’s cue as he conducts. The music is causing the drummer’s sound barrier to vibrate, and it makes Atwood-Ferguson look like a cross between the album cover of Johnny Harris‘ Movements and the music of Don Ellis At Fillmore. When the drummer finally kicks in, instant chicken skin. As you see Atwood-Ferguson vibrating and rocking you realize: that’s how a lot of us feel when we’re listening to hip-hop. The effect works.
The entire DVD was beautifully shot in black & white, and the extras on the DVD’s, featuring everything from behind the scenes footage, photo galleries, and interviews only add to the greatness of this box. What I liked is that while hip-hop is far from dead, people are acknowledging the influence and its influences by archiving what has existed, so that those in the future will know what it meant to people. Just as jazz has become America’s classical music, hip-hop music is very much that for its followers, creators, and admirers, even though the powers that be will never make it so. Hip-hop, at its best, has never been about what anyone else thought, it was done because there was an unspoken movement to make it work. The Timeless treats Astatke, Verocai, and Dilla as legends, or at least humble musical spokesman for those who were not able to speak, as musicians and producers who had a need to be heard. This is honor, and I hope Mochilla will continue to “unfold” and “reveal” more artists and producers like this in the future.
As a producer, it is an extreme honor to have your music created in this way, and one can only show support for a “fellow producer” who was shown this kind of respect. To see one’s hard work, determination, and creativity turned into a project like this… it’s a beautiful thing. Job well done.
Hoc n’ Pucky
There’s a new documentary DVD out now that looks at the impact of one Jason Mizell, a/k/a Jam Master Jay, an essential part of the hip-hop group Run-DMC. Here’s a sneak preview of it. The documentary features interviews with Common, Kid Rock, 50 Cent, and many more.
If you’re interested, you can buy it from Amazon.com by clicking below.