If collaborations are the glue that holds the world of hip hop together, mixtapes are the solvent that throws everything back into chaos. Hastily produced, legally questionable and often free of cost, these pseudo-albums typically find rappers appropriating each others’ beats as they spit a few lines in an effort to build hype for upcoming projects. They’re also a great way to get a feel for rappers you haven’t heard before (or simply haven’t heard from in a while). The latter was the case when I first read on Pitchfork about Clipse’s mixtape, Road to Till the Casket Drops. I hadn’t been keeping up with the duo, which is comprised of Virginia-based artists Malice and Pusha T, but I took notice when they released this tape in December of 2008 to promote their Play Cloths clothing line and upcoming album. Highlights include a very tight track in “Addiction,” as well as two songs, “Swagga Like Us” and “Swing Ya Rag,” that borrow beats from T.I.’s commercially successful album Paper Trail. I’d say that both of Clipse’s renditions surpass the originals, but Jay-Z appears on the original version of “Swagga Like Us,” and I’m not about to anger the music gods by insulting the great H to the Izzo V to the Izzay. Let’s just say it’s an awesome mixtape and leave it at that. Check out Clipse’s version of “Swagga Like Us” and click here to download the rest.
Monthly Archives: May 2011
It’s an amazing time to be a music fan. Not just because of availability and diversity, both of which are greater than ever before, but also because the wellspring of creativity that the Internet has tapped flows in music’s consumers and performers alike. Case in point: Yours Truly. This incredible project is based in San Francisco, and is dedicated to filming performance videos that are uncommon and revealing. It’s art born out of art, and each episode is filled with personality and care that leave a lasting impression. One of my favorites features Middle Brother, a band that’s comprised of members of Deer Tick, Dawes and Delta Spirit. The video of their song “Daydreaming” is strikingly intimate, with tight camera angles and band members huddled close to one another, singing lyrics that are likewise revealing, as if they could be whispered in a confessional. It’s a beautiful video of a beautiful song, and I hope you enjoy it. If you do, listen below to another fantastic tune from their eponymous album called “Middle Brother.”
Discovering a new band is like moving to an unfamiliar city. Relocating means new street names, new restaurants and new experiences. Finding a new band brings you new sights, sounds and perspectives, along with the hope that they’ll book a concert nearby, so you can dig even deeper. Both make the world seem like a slightly bigger place than it was before. So when you find a band that kicks ass and hails from your beloved hometown, all that’s familiar is filled with renewed possibility. The feeling is electric, and hearing White Laces for the first time was like stepping on a live power line while walking through my living room. I found out about White Laces from Richmond Playlist, an awesome blog that covers both local bands and nationally touring acts who are stopping in town. Right away, I loved how complete they sounded. Complex musical ideas are executed thoughtfully, as chaos and calm work hand in hand to paint vivid and cohesive sonic pictures. I wanted to hear more, and when I saw their 12” EP at Deep Groove, I knew it was meant to be. Check out their song “Sick of Summer” and if you dig, head to their page on SoundCloud to hear more.
There are still people who believe that music can help bring peace to the world, and it warms my heart to tell you I found some of those people today. I just learned about the Voice Project, a non-profit organization that seeks to bring comfort to the women who have fallen victim to the decades-long war in Northern Uganda. To raise money, the organization has asked musicians cover each others’ songs, so that our enjoyment can be turned into sponsorships and donations. It’s a beautiful concept, and I think I found the most beautiful song on the whole site – Kitten covering “The Greatest” by Cat Power. Thanks to my coworker Susie and Hype Machine, I’d heard Kitten’s song “Kill the Light,” and I’d heard Cat Power’s song “The Greatest” numerous times, but hadn’t delved too much deeper into either artist. This captivating rendition is overflowing with soul, and it’s definitely inspired me to check out Kitten’s Sunday School EP. Watch their amazing, 15-year-old lead singer cover “The Greatest” above, and try out “Kill the Light” below. And be sure to stop by the Voice Project’s page to support this worthy cause.
My big sister Cary is the coolest person I know. From an early age, she had awesome taste in music, and was always willing to help me see the light. But of all the recommendations she’s given me over the years, I’m thankful for one above all others: the Beatles. Her Beatles obsession began in middle school, and while mine wouldn’t kick in until much later, she passed on an appreciation for their songs as sacred texts, along with a few of the Beatles posters that once covered her bedroom wall-to-wall. My vinyl collection also didn’t start until long after hers, and it was actually a story I heard on All Songs Considered while driving home for Thanksgiving that made me so eager to seek out my own copy of the White Album.