Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Snoop Dogg reincarnated as Snoop LION

Posted By on Tue, Jul 31, 2012 at 4:55 PM

In case you haven't heard, Snoop Dogg is dead.

Diplo and Snoop's forthcoming album is more than your typical hot producer/iconic artist collaboration; it's Snoop Reincarnated — hence the LP's title and corresponding full-length documentary, both to be released by VICE. Snoop and Diplo held a press conference last night at Miss Lily's, the Jamaican-themed record store and restaurant in New York, hosted by Sway (MTV, SiriusXM). Snoop talked about how his Jamaican getaway turned into a Rastafarian rebirth, leading to the co-creation of a reggae/dub album, under the moniker Snoop Lion.

“I didn't want to be Snoop Dogg on a reggae track...I wanted to bury Snoop Dogg and become Snoop Lion, but I didn't know that until I went to the temple and received the name Snoop Lion from the Nyabingi priest,” said Snoop. “From that moment on, I started to understand why I was there and was able to create something magical in this [Reincarnated] project...something I haven't done before in my career.”

When speaking on the album cut "No Guns Allowed," Snoop also sounded like he's ready to grow past some of the gangsta rap clichés that he helped cement 20 years ago.

"There's a lot of killing going on in this world, and nobody ever speaks on it until it happens. And I'm tired of it ... It's so tragic that people are still doing stupid things with guns," Snoop said. "I could have never made a song called 'No Guns Allowed,' because I'm supposed to be a gangster and we supposed to keep one on us at all times ... But after looking at my life and what it is now and my kids, and all the things that go on in life, I feel like it should be no guns allowed."

If it sounds like a big joke or some disposable vanity project, the music might convince you otherwise. Recently leaked track "La La La" is a heavy dub with Snoop singing reggae over it. Snoop's also received some heavyweight co-signs from the likes of Rohan Marley, who was in attendance at the press conference, and Bunny Wailer, who appears in the above trailer for the documentary, which debuts at this year's Toronto Film Festival.

"La La La," Snoop Lion (produced by Major Lazer)

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Discovering Willis Earl Beal is all about the journey

Posted By on Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 10:51 AM

Authenticity. Music critics and consumers alike (interchangeable terms nowadays) have been obsessed with it lately, thanks in part to Lana Del Rey-gate.

There's something about the emergence of folk-blues outsider and XL Records signee Willis Earl Beal that triggers an equal but opposite reaction. His story is compelling in a way that lends credence to his music, as a recent Liberator Magazine feature confirms:

Much like older performers like Blind Willie McTell or Robert Johnson, Beal has been shrouded in myth and legacy because his tale is so intriguing. Not to say that his story is untrue, but when told who he is, and where he’s come from, he registers in a part of the brain meant for long-ago and far away heroes of folk-lore. Blind Willie McTell is said to have known Georgia like the back of his hand, learned from his wandering the state with only a guitar, playing songs for those who would listen. Robert Johnson supposedly sold his soul to the Devil at the Crossroads to be able to play guitar as well as he could. It’s with this sort of legend Beal comes to us. “Already my story has been embellished, and I didn’t do it” he claims. It is his story which really makes us want him.

But beyond his life's narrative, whether designed or deconstructed, is his unbranded blues. There's a difference between mining old material and embodying it. And it's in performance that Willis Earl Beal's identity rings true. You believe he's lived it, whatever it is, because you feel it when he opens his mouth and starts to sing like a backwoods Baptist shouter on that fire-and-brimstone shit.

People talk a lot about how the Internet has impacted the business of music and the way it's consumed, but it's the mystique behind the music that's taken the biggest hit. Sometimes, when I stumble across an artist now that intrigues the hell out of me, like Beal, I'm less interested in Googling all the possible facts and label-manufactured lies than I am in hearing the truth. One note at a time.

If you still haven't seen his performance in Berlin yet, you should watch it — the whole 36 minutes — because there's a story here that's totally intangible. But as it slowly reveals itself, tempered with his tall lyrical tales and bucket-full of raw talent, it confirms everything you hoped you knew about him.

Now if I find out down the road that Willis Earl Beal was never a wanderer, but some cat with a generic name whose major label debut went wood back in ’08, that would be weird. But no weirder than his tryouts for Simon Cowell's "X Factor" TV talent show that went viral a while back:

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Santigold says shut yo 'Big Mouth'

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2012 at 12:57 PM

Mermaid Gaga is chickenhead of the sea to Le Tigress, no?
  • Mermaid Gaga is chickenhead of the sea to Le Tigress, no?

Just when you thought there wasn't enough beef in the world of female-centric electro synthy dance-pop and stuff, Santigold returns wearing the crown on these bizzos. She shut it down in Williamsburg last night according to Spin, and today she's dropped her new animated video for "Big Mouth," the first single for her Spring 2012 album Master of My Make-Believe.

Now that Santigold is part of Jay-Z's Roc Nation fam, might she be taking a page from rap by throwing a supposed verbal jab at Lady Gaga (around 1:28 mark)? I imagine there's some backstory here that I know nothing about, but my most credible source for historical info, Wikipedia, is protesting today so I can't get my research on. #FAIL. But in my estimation Lady Gaga isn't deserving of a mention (diss or otherwise) from Santigold. Then again, taking the small stuff so literally and talking shit about it on the Internet probably makes me part of the problem here. Me and my big mouth.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Little Dragon tweaks 'Cocaine' for the Internet

Posted By on Wed, Nov 30, 2011 at 7:31 PM


"Cocaine is a helluva drug." — Rick James

If you still haven't come down from that Big Boi tweet that featured revealing footage of the ATLien in Stankonia Studios with dreamy Swedish electro-soul band Little Dragon, here's another Little Dragon collabo bound to make you all giddy inside.

The group just released a remix of the song "Cocaine," originally recorded by the Internet — a duo compromised of OFWGKTA's DJ Syd the Kyd and Matt Martians. Little Dragon's remixed version is as intoxicating as the original, but with more BPMs and breathy vocals from Little Dragon lead Yukimi Nagano.

The Internet's debut Purple Naked Ladies drops Dec. 20. Check the tracklist and more MP3s below the jump:

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Flosstradamus and Kid Sister bring that juke back

Posted By on Wed, Nov 30, 2011 at 1:01 PM


Back in 2008, Kid Sister recalled in URB getting her cherry popped at the former Chicago teen dance club Jubilation:

“That was the first time I heard Percolator. Cashmere sold the mixtape out of the back of his car. Reel 2 Reel was my first show. ‘I like to move it, move it.’ It was him and two lesbian dancers with dreadlocks. I was fucking shocked. Dancing brings me back to this time that was all about having fun. There’s a song, I could play it for you right now, ‘She got a big old dookie booty, I got a big old dookie booty.’ I grew up with that song. Maybe it’s the endorphins. I like shakin’ my ass. You know, people get a little buzz when they get to movin’.”

A fitting childhood account since the Chi-town DJ duo Flosstradamus — co-starring her brother Josh "J2K" Young — drops its EP, Jubilation, today. In addition to the Kid Sister track "Luuk Out Girl" (below), it also features Chicago's Danny Brown on "From the Back" — a song that sounds equal parts triple-X and G-rated, if that's possible.

Brown also appears on Kid Sister's new EP Kiss & Tell. He's featured on the track "Gucci Rag Top Remix." Check below the jump for the Tumblr-esque video.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Niggy in Paris: Saul Williams drops Volcanic Sunlight, from France, with love

Posted By on Mon, Nov 14, 2011 at 4:27 PM

  • Sony France

As Kanye West would say, Saul Williams is definitely in his zone. For the last two years, the prolific wordsmith and occasional rock star has been residing in Paris, where he completed his latest studio album, Volcanic Sunlight (Sony), co-produced by Renaud Letang. Released in Europe last year, the follow up to his Trent Reznor-produced industrial epic The Inevitable Rise and Fall of Niggy Tardust dropped stateside on 11.11.11, and it’s the avant-gardist's first flirtation with danceable pop.

But don’t get it twisted. This ain’t “Niggas in Paris." Rather than wax poetic on material excess and black excellence (see: Watch the Throne), Williams has crafted a simple but unorthodox love affair that’s less spoken word treatise than trance-inducing treaty.

In Part 1 of our interview, the Morehouse College alum talks about raising his daughter (a former student at Atlanta’s Inman Middle School) in Paris as a single dad, giving record labels the middle finger, and France's hottest socioeconomic commodity: love.

When I heard you were living in Paris, I immediately thought of famous black expatriates like—

Saul Williams: James Baldwin … Richard Wright … Nina Simone?

Exactly. Obviously they were motivated to leave America by the kind of racism that doesn’t necessarily exist now, but do you see your move fitting into that tradition at all?

Naw. I can’t say that I do. Although, it’s not a bad list of names. My coming to Paris was kinda random. I’ve never really dreamt of living in Paris. And I pretty much came here, one, because there was a producer here that I wanted to work with, that’s Renaud Letang, the guy that ended up producing [Volcanic Sunlight] with me. I’ve been a fan of his work for years. I could’ve just come to record the album here, but when I started having that idea, I was looking for a place in L.A. where I was living, and I bumped into a friend in Paris while I was on tour. He showed me a place that cost the same thing that I was paying in L.A., and that’s when it hit me, like, “Oh shit, I can live in Paris for the same price as what I live in LA? Then why the fuck am I in LA?” So it was really more of a practical thing.

What are your days and nights like there? What do you do in Paris? What’s your lifestyle like?

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Listen: Kate Bush, 50 Words for Snow

Posted By on Mon, Nov 14, 2011 at 10:42 AM

  • Courtesy of Kate Bush

If you've ever fantasized about being snowed in with Kate Bush, here's your chance. NPR is now streaming her new album, 50 Words for Snow (Anti-), which drops Nov. 21.

It's beautiful and seductive wrist-slitting agony, per her usual, and her second release this year, following May's Director's Cut. Here's NPR's 50-word review on 50 Words:

Powdery fantasia. Contemplative. Winter matins. Playful. Opium reverie. Grounded. Ghost story. Sensual. Artistic recalibration. Unhurried. Drummer's holiday. Quiet. Ode to the white keys. Imaginative. Exploration of the lower register. Floating. Mother-son duet. Solitary. Snowed-in erotica. Collaborative. Joni Mitchell answer record. Inimitable. Supernatural space odyssey. What we'd expect from Kate Bush.

You know, the kinda shit "cool, quiet, real sensual type[s]" like Big Boi can appreciate.

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Free music: The Stuyvesants' The Finer Things

Posted By on Fri, Nov 4, 2011 at 2:30 PM


Rabid music consumers undoubtedly know that the Brooklyn-based instrumental duo the Stuyvesants dropped a new two-volume album, The Finer Things, a few weeks ago. Casual listeners, however, may not be hip to the latest batch of soul-tinged joints by the crew (which consists of producer Allan “Algorythim” Cole and record collector Darien Victor Birks, aka Flwrpt) — so we’ve decided to help everyone out by posting a fresh link below for easy downloading.

Oh, and yeah, The Finer Things — just like The Stuyvesants’ first album, Brooklyn’s Finest — is totally free … meaning you don’t have to a pay a damn thing for some great sounds. But, the group’s website does offer T-Shirts and other merch for sale … just in case you’re feeling generous.

Anyway, enjoy: http://thestuyvesants.com

Bonus: Here's a look and a listen to a tune off the pair's debut album:

The Stuyvesants • Panty Dropper from MVMT on Vimeo.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Is Beyonce stealing 'Love' from New Edition?

Posted By on Mon, Oct 17, 2011 at 6:20 PM

With the rumors flying over her alleged deflatable baby bump, Beyonce lets the twins peek on her brand new video for "Love on Top" from 4. In case you're wondering, it was filmed before she began to show.

Of course, her detractors won't rest. This time they're up-in-arms over claims that she's jacking choreography again — which would make the third time this year (see Beyonce's "Countdown" vs. Belgian choreographer Teresa De Keersmaeker's 25-year-old ballet Rosas danst Rosas; or Bey's 2011 Billboard Music Awards performance vs. a 2010 performance by Italian pop star Lorella Cuccarini).

But surely the video for "Love On Top" is an obvious tribute to New Edition's 1988 hit "If It Isn't Love," especially since the R&B boy band isn't nearly as obscure as Bey's other recent "inspirations."

Then again, maybe the Queen B is just getting her Bob Dylan on?

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Is Saul Williams' emotionally intelligent Volcanic Sunlight out of step with times?

Posted By on Tue, Oct 11, 2011 at 12:34 PM

"For this album, I wanted to put words that didn't get in the way of the music, you know. Before I always let the words dominate. Music had been more so a release of my anger or of my angst. And that's part of what I was letting go — because I'm on to the new, I'm on to the next." — Saul Williams, on recording his forthcoming album.

November 11, 2011: That's the U.S. release date that's emerged for wordsmith and music experimentalist Saul Williams' album Volcanic Sunlight, released last May in Europe. For several months, the former Grand Slam Champion and Morehouse alum has been teasing the LP with videos, like the one above, in which he talks about why he chose to record in Paris and why the resulting Volcanic Sunlight is a fuller expression of his personality than 2007's Trent Reznor-produced The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust! or older releases.

Perhaps the City of Love infected Williams, because Volcanic Sunlight is also the avant-guardist's first attempt at love-themed pop album — "It’s my attempt to articulate what I feel when I feel love,” he's said — which hasn't necessarily been received with welcome arms by early reviewers who've come to expect something more challenging from Williams. Of course, such critiques have everything to do with the politically-charged times we're living in and the resulting hunger people have for music that speaks directly to that. But maybe the late-comers to the conscious party should just peruse his back catalog. Dude's been there, done that. Time to evolve.

Plus, what could be more revolutionary right now than love? Judging from the album's first videos — for the songs "Explain My Heart" and "Dance" — Volcanic Sunlight is going to be a hell of an emotionally intelligent groove.

See both vids below the jump:

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