VIDEO: Saul Williams featuring Emily Kokal’s “Burundi”


Saul Williams has been keeping himself busy and if you follow him on Twitter, you know this is true. He is about to release a new album at the end of teh summer called MartyrLoserKing and you can check out one of its tracks called “Burundi”. The song also features Emily Kokal so in order to have the full meal deal, you’ll have to wait until September 18th to have it. Soon come.

VIDEO: Weaves’ “Take A Dip”


With CMJ on their minds this week, Weaves prepared a video by heading into a church and/or temple for musical worship with their video “Take A Dip” and when I dip, you dip, we dip, including Weaves.

You may or may not see them in clothes of worship this week, but if you are in NYC, find out where they’re playing and with whom… well, below:

October 15… Brooklyn, NY (Ran Tea House (Force Field PR showcase) {8:00pm} *
October 18… New York, NY (Santos Party House (Rice + Cheese showcase) {8:00pm} #

* = w/ Joanna Gruesome, The History of Apple Pie, Celestial Shore, etc.
# = w/ Saul Williams, Odonis Odonis & HSY

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VIDEO: Odonis Odonis’ “Are We Friends”


The audio and visuals in “Are We Friends” is straight out of the 1980’s, when you could harden up your sound with mechanical beats and create a video by fooling around with your cable box. Dean Tzenos, Denholm Whale and Jarod Gibson know exactly what they’re doing, and as Odonis Odonis they’re going to take those things to CMJ next week. They’ll hit the road in Canada for a small handful of shows in late November:

October 17… New York, NY (Shea Stadium) (IMPOSE + Terroreyes + The Needle Drop showcase) ~
October 18… New York, NY (Santos Party House) (Rice and Cheese showcase) ^
October 19… New York, NY (2 Havemeyer St.) (My Social List day party) *
November 29… Hamilton, ON (Baltimore House) #
November 30… London, ON (APT) #
December 1… Kitchener, ON (NEW FWEST) #

~ = w/ Billy Woods, Wreck And Reference
^ = w/ Saul Williams, HSY, Weaves
* = w/ Weekend, Hunters, HSY
# = w/ Teenanger, Soupcans

SOME STUFFS: 9th Annual Afropunk Fest returns in August

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Look at this, I think the poster/flyer speaks for itself to where I almost don’t have to explain what’s going on. Just look at it and head out there if you can, right? However, I should let you know what’s going on.

First off, the obligatory introduction as to what Afropunk is:
AFROPUNK is an influential community of young, gifted people of all backgrounds who speak through music, art, film, comedy, fashion and more. Originating with the 2003 documentary that highlighted a Black presence in the American punk scene, it is a platform for the alternative and experimental. Remaining at the core of its mission are the punk principles of DIY aesthetics, radical thought and social non-conformity. AFROPUNK is a voice for the unwritten, unwelcome and unheard-of.

The 9th annual Afropunk Fest is bringing together a lot of talent in one place. Headlining will be Chuck D. & DJ Lord of Public Enemy, who will be performing Fear Of A Black Planet in full. Also scheduled to appear include ?uestlove (of The Roots), Saul Williams, The Coup, K-OS, Danny Brown, Jean Grae, Theophilus London, Mykki Blanco, LE1F, and so many more. In fact, more artists are being pulled in for the Afropunk Fest as you read this. Everyone will be gathering at Commodore Barry Park in Brooklyn on August 24-25th, so if you want to consider this one of your end-of-summer events, this would be a great way to celebrate the season. For updates and more information on the festival, head to AfroPunkFest.com.

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REVIEW: Saul Williams’ “Volcanic Sunlight”

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Magical doors, I’m looking for the fucking magical door, that’s what I need.

When Saul Williams starred in the film Slam, which in part focused on his style of slam poetry, it was this line that stood out in the film more than anything, because I feel the same way. I know my strengths and weaknesses, I also know my capabilities, but why is it that I can’t seem to find any level of… I don’t know, selfish adoration but in truth just constant and consistent work? Williams has been doing some powerful work for over 10 years, and in recent years has added singing in to his work. Truth is, there has always been vocalizing in his spoken word pieces, it was just never made to be the emphasis. Now his singing is a primary focus, and some have said that as he presents himself in this persona, he has shied away from what he became known for. Bur has he? I say no.

Williams remains a poetic man, or at least someone who writes well, has an incredible sense of saying what his own his mind, and doing it with depth and power, he says things like a jazz musician understands the silence between notes. It’s just that these days, he has done more singing and to be honest, his singing voice is not bad. Lenny Kravitz and Garland Jeffries came to my mind, and in some of the tracks on Volcanic Sunlight, hints of Elvis Costello too.

Musically, this might not appeal to those who felt he was a derivative of hip-hop in the late 90’s. Some might go so far as to say he’s doing music to appeal to white people, as it’s very new wave-ish and sometimes rock oriented. The more I ponder on what “white music” is, the more I understand that much of what is accused of being white is actually rooted not only in soul, jazz, and gospel, but musical styles that are native to other countries. Williams sounds like what hip-hop could be like today, a manic sponge that takes everything but you still know who is the one waving the name tag around. It could be an Outkast album if it wasn’t for Williams’ voice. If someone wants to stereotype this as “white music”, they’re really not listening deep enough. If Williams’ is doing something, he’s doing a variation of a variation that also happened to be a variation of what came before. Away from being genre specific, it’s an exciting album musically, and the music tells the tale that Williams may not be able to describe in words, both go hand in hand.

Williams remains a storyteller, he just happens to do it a bit differently than he did a decade again. Then again, it may not be so different. Volcanic Sunlight represents a burst of energy that can’t be controlled, and who knows what would happen if it truly bursts into flames. If people still want to call this phase of Williams’ work as “persona”, then it’s a persona I hope will keep creating for a long time.

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SOME STUFFS: Saul Williams gets hot on The Volcanic Sunlight Tour

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Saul Williams has had an adventurous career thus far, and who could imagine he would be where he is today? Where is he? We don’t know, but what we do know is that he’s been touring around the world off of the strength of his Volcanic Sunlight album (review coming soon), and when he returns home to take a break, he will return to embrace the American homelands with a few excursions into Canada for what he’s calling The Volcanic Sunlight Tour. He will be here:

Fri. 17-Feb… Brooklyn, NY (Music Hall Of Williamsburg)
Sat. 18-Feb… Boston, MA (Brighton Music Hall)
Mon. 20-Feb… Hoboken, NJ ( Maxwells)
Wed. 22-Feb… Philadelphia, PA (World CafĂ© Live)
Thu. 23-Feb… Washington, DC (Black Cat)
Fri. 24-Feb… Chapel Hill, NC (Cats Cradle)
Sat. 25-Feb… Atlanta (The Masquerade)
Sun. 26-Feb… Tampa, FL (Orpheum)
Mon. 27-Feb… Orlando, FL (The Social)
Wed. 29-Feb… New Orleans (HOB)
Thu. 1-Mar… Houston (Fitzgeralds)
Fri. 2-Mar… Dallas, TX (Sons of Herman hall)
Sat. 3-Mar… Austin, TX (Mohawk)
Mon. 5-Mar… Albuquerque, NM (The Launchpad)
Tue. 6-Mar… Phoenix, AZ (rescent Ballroom)
Thu. 8-Mar… Los Angeles, CA (El Rey)
Fri. 9-Mar… San Diego, CA (Soda Bar)
Sat. 10-Mar… San Francisco, CA (Slims)
Mon. 12-Mar… Portland, OR (Doug Fir)
Tue. 13-Mar… Seattle, WA (Neumo’s)
Wed. 14-Mar… Vancouver, BC (Biltmore)
Fri. 16-Mar… Salt Lake City, UT (Urban Lounge)
Sat. 17-Mar… Denver, CO (Marquis)
Mon. 19-Mar… Minneapolis, MN (Triple Rock)
Tue. 20-Mar… Chicago, IL (Bottom Lounge)
Wed. 21-Mar… Cleveland, OH (Grog Shop)
Fri. 23-Mar… Toronto, ON (Great Hall)
Sat. 24-Mar… Montreal, PQ (El Cabaret)

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REVIEW: Copyright Criminals (PBS’ Independent Lens)

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This week, PBS affiliates throughout North America are showing a documentary called Copyright Criminals, as apart of PBS’ Independent Lens series covering works by independent filmakers. The film takes a look specificially at the world of music where samples have become something of value.

If you’re a regular visitor of my website, you should know what a sample is. If you came here from a Google search and somehow stumbled onto my page, here it is. The word “sample” is described in the film as “to use a segment of another’s musical recording as part of one’s own recording”. In the early days of digital sampling, and I’m specifically talking about early 1980’s when Art Of Noise were some of the pioneers in taking other previously recorded sounds and rhythmically turning it into something else, it wasn’t even called “sampling”, or the act of using a “sample”. Remember this, as I will bring it up again.

The documentary primarily focuses on hip-hop music, since it is a music that became a billion dollar industry by making music from other people’s music. The documentary, directed by Benjamin Franzen and Kembrew McLeod interviews various hip-hop DJ’s and producers, along with lawyers and “music industry insiders” looking at both sides of the sampling equation. While it does describe what sampling is and how creators and fans of hip-hop music and production have turned it into a form of art in comparison to other forms of art, it didn’t take on a cratedigger mentality to dig deeper. In other words, it only scratched the surface. Producers such as El-P and Shock G. talked about their craft, George Clinton spoke on how it felt to create music that would become a huge influence, while Clyde Stubblefield talked about he simply wants to be recognized as the man behind his beat. Sure, he’d love the money too, but he knows the logistics of the music industry and the legal system, and it’s humbling because if he was ruthless, he would make huge demands. It’s almost as if he still senses James Brown lurking in the distance, leery of taking any legal action against the Godfather of Soul.

I think as a surface, slap-butter-on-the-roof-until-it-falls type of documentary, it’s okay. However, one can easily find old archival news footage of some of the artists interviewed in this doc and discover much more informative information. Matt Black of Coldcut was briefly seen here, and yet he was a major part of an MTV news story that also covered De La Soul. As for De La, they did mention their use of “You Showed Me” by The Turtles and how that made a huge impact on their career, for better or worse. While the group and producer Prince Paul did have to give a list of samples used, they only submitted the obvious ones. The Turtles sample was taken from the 45, played at 33, and it became a not-so-obvious one. That is, until a daughter of one of the Turtles (not sure if it was Howard Kaylan or Mark Volman heard the song, played it to his father, and he knew exactly what it was. That trippy, Beatlesque sample was just a Turtles song slowed down. All of this information was not mentioned in the film. The doc did cover the Biz Markie/Gilbert O’Sullivan case, but again, very briefly.

It did touch on the fact that you cannot, under any circumstance, sample any Beatles songs. Yet if you weren’t paying attention, you might have missed the reference to The Betales being a group who also included “found sounds” in their works. I would have loved to have known more about this, but it’s barely a nick.

What was also omitted was earlier examples of sampling, they made reference to blues and jazz often paying “homage”, but they never used the word “homage”. It also focused on black artists, which almost suggested that black artists were the only ones who had taken and delivered, as if they could not come up with things on their own. While Led Zeppelin were seen and heard as part of a video collage, no one mentioned how Led Zeppelin were huge musical thieves.

What exists on Copyright Criminals is good, but it was like grabbing a rock, allowing it to skim the surface of the water, and saying “is that it?” An extra half hour could have been spent on digging deeper, and maybe there’s extra footage on the festival edit of the film or on the DVD version, since PBS does have regulations as to how long their documentaries can be. If anything, perhaps it will encourage more people to discover what sampling is all about. I felt Jeff Chang was someone who revealed an incredible amount of information, coming off as a historian and in truth just a fan of the sounds within the grooves. Yet with Chang throughout the film, I thought it was somewhat funny that some of his closest friends, arguably what we’d call true “copyright criminals”, were not in the film. Then again, if one needs to know more, then can be like Latimore and dig a little deeper.

(Copyright Criminals is a part of PBS’ Independent Lens series, which is being shown on PBS throughout the week, check PBS.org for air times in your city/region.)