Who's checking for this?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sadly for The Clipse, that's the most relevant question that can be brought up when discussing Till the Casket Drops. "Suffering" another push back until December 8, I'm not quite sure how much buzz "I'm Good" or "All Eyes on Me" will create. Personally, I'm not a fan of either track, though I do enjoy The Neptunes production on "I'm Good". I was really hoping for "All Eyes on Me" to be scratched from the final tracklist. I didn't get my wish.

1. "Speaker Freem" (prod. by The Hitmen)
2. "Kinda Like a Big Deal" feat. Kanye West (prod. by DJ Khalil)
3. "Popular Demand" feat. Cam'ron and Pharrell (prod. by The Neptunes)
4. "I'm Good" feat. Pharrell (prod. by The Neptunes)
5. "Life Change" feat. Kenna and Pharrell (prod. by The Neptunes)
6. "All Eyes on Me" feat. Keri Hilson and Pharrell (prod. by The Neptunes)
7. "Never Will It Stop" feat. Ab Liva (prod. by The Hitmen)
8. "Money On The Roof" (prod. by The Hitmen)
9. "Champion" (prod. by The Neptunes)
10. "Showin' Out" feat. Drake (prod. by The Neptunes)
11. "There Was A Murder" (prod. by DJ Khalil)
12. "Follow In My Footsteps" (prod. by DJ Khalil)
13. "Counseling" (prod. by The Neptunes)
14. "I'm Good" feat. Rick Ross (remix)

There's enough interesting here for me to go and get Till the Casket Drops, but I'm a Clipse fan (read: stan) so what's going to get you to get it?

"it's in the details"

Friday, October 09, 2009

NOTE: This is actually the first proposed post of my new blog entitled How I Got Over. It's still in development. Check back here for the Details (zing!).

While perusing the October issue of Details, my friend and roommate started asking me a series of questions which I responded to. Unfortunately, I soon realized that I was confirming my existence as a "pretentious tool". Thankfully, I don't put too much stock in what an intern at Details thinks, but I thought it was kind of funny. Others haven't taken it so lightly. In The Globe and Mail, Russell Smith used the piece as an excuse to chime in with the ever popular gender debate. Anyways, here are my reactions to some of Details pretentiousness indicators.

"You think about the lighting in restaurants."
When I was 10, my mother took me to Outback Steakhouse and it was dark as Yinka Dare. I couldn't read the menu and I let it be known, word to Tim Hardaway.

"You want to go to Japan for the shopping."
Kind of true. Indeed, Japan has a lot of exclusives from labels that you'd think would break off a piece for their U.S. based consumers. Levis, Nike, North Face, Vans, and shit, even Lee withholds goods and saves them for the Japanese. We took Dragonball Z and they got fashion exclusives. Damn.

"You invest in vinyl."
DJ Premier, ?uestlove, and all you non-iTunes DJs, you are pretentious c/o Details.

"You think Zach Galifianakis is just so funny."
Honestly, I didn't even know who Zach Galifianakis was until The Hangover, but yes, he was the highlight of the film. I can easily admit that I'm a) waiting for the blu-ray and b) anticipating The Hangover 2. The Ecstasy toast, epic.

"You miss the warmth of 35mm film."
I use my iPhone to take pictures. I don't miss anything. Cameras, we off that.

"You can name an architect who isn't one of the Franks."
This one is easy. If you've been to Dulles Airport (DC), you should be able to name drop Eero Saarinen. Right?

"You’re a Facebook fan of a food cart or truck."
I am a Twitter follower of Sweetflow Mobile. I don't see anything wrong with knowing the location of mobile frozen yogurt. If you are in LA, you have to know where Kogi is. If you are in DC, you have to know where the Fojol Bros. are. You just have to.

What? Where else should you write notes? Mead notepad? Napkin? Hand?

"You know this great little tapas place."
So, does that mean tapas are now pretentious? Over the last year, we've been needling molecular gastronomy. It's about time we moved on to something else. By the way, Columbia Firehouse in Old Town has a nice small plates menu.

"You use periods instead of dashes in phone numbers."
Stylistically, periods are better than dashes. It's called being with the times, try it.

"You have a thing for typefaces."
I bet the design team at Details weren't too thrilled to lay this piece out.

"You photograph your food."
Guilty! Seriously, I only photography food when it's a special occasion, I am traveling, or if it just looks like something that should be memorable. I wanted to start a food blog, back up now.

"Your favorite late-night host is Craig Ferguson."
This one was unexpected. I figured Details would have picked Jimmy Fallon because he has that "I just woke up and suited up" look and he's backed by The Roots.

"You think the only acceptable fast food is In-N-Out."
Let's be reality. Chic-Fil-A, Five Guys, and Shake Shack are equal or better than In-N-Out. In fact, there is no better fast food experience than a clump of breading from a Chic-Fil-A sandwich.

"You listen to Grizzly Bear."
Get with the program, "While You Wait for the Others" is an incredible piece of music. I'll give Details a little leeway on this though because I don't know what a Veckatimest is.

"You frequent a bar without signage."
Frankly, the only bar that I "frequent" is Sticky Rice on H St and it has a sign. On the other hand, I enjoy Hell Burger in Arlington and it's devoid of a sign. Wait. This one is just dumb.

"You have a favorite animated documentary."
There are animated documentaries? Okay, that fellow is a pretentious tool.

"Saying 'off that' after things you aren't currently in to."
I'm just kidding. That wasn't one of things, but I own up to this and offer it up as a pretentiousness indicator. Hov knows what I'm talking about, "Whatever you about to discover, we off that."

the man who walked around the world

Thursday, September 24, 2009

+ johnnie walker "the man who walked around the world" ad starring robert carlyle [video]

to put it simply, this is an incredible ad. the content is the history of the johnnie walker brand as narrated by robert carlyle. more impressively, it's shot in a single, continuous take. recently, the long take was brought to the forefront of film in children of men. check this video for more about long takes.

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"i got big plans to blow up"

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

+ charles hamilton feat. crooked i "tears of fire" [audio]

sorry for the lack of posts, but for the last few days, i've been contemplating writing a post about the much maligned charles hamilton. mind you, i never bothered to listen to a hamilton track until his recently shelved album this perfect life made its rounds on the internet. like any mongerer, i downloaded his "debut" and gave it a listen. for the most part, it's incredibly boring. maybe i'm in that cudi zone now, but this perfect life seemed incredibly stale. i've changed my stance on kid cudi since my first listen and i can say that man on the moon is competing with veckatimest on my daily playlist, but i don't see myself changing my mind about hamilton. besides being unnecessarily full of himself, hamilton's character is boring. he likes pink. he likes sonic the hedgehog. he gets punched by females. he speaks to the dead. he gets incessantly hounded. that's it, right?

hahaha, you caught me. the only reason i bothered to bring up charles hamilton is because "tears of fire" sounds like an expertly crafted track from the heatmakerz. oh, you remember them? it's a shame that dipset disbanded and turned into jim jones and friends, skull candy kids or whatever, and cam'ron. "tears of fire" would have been the perfect backdrop for the original pink proponents. hamilton described "tears of fire" as "saying goodbye to the pain that holds one back". oh, that's deep, but who is going to save me from the pain of listening to crooked i rap? imagine if cam'ron got a hold of this track. let that thought simmer. it would be bonkers.

p.s. i didn't want to bother uploading the track because i had a feeling that nobody wanted to listen to it more than once.

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"john stockton couldn't assist you"

Friday, September 18, 2009

in preparation for the upcoming nba season, yahoo sports has been compiling lists of the top (fill in the blank). top draft busts, top moments, top six men, top this, and top that. for the most part, those lists are fairly easy to create. there isn't too much critical thought required to create a list of the top draft busts in our era. there are obvious selections like kwame "flaming faggot" brown (credit: michael jordan) and darko milicic. for top six men, of course you would write in manu ginobili and leandro barbosa. as a fan of both basketball and general thought, i wanted a list that required more than stating the obvious. i wanted a list that would cause uproarious discussion. i wanted a list that made me think. after racking my brain for about five minutes, the only alternative i could think of was a list of the top white american nba players who played primarily after 2000.

i started making the list, but i strayed and started throwing out names like dirk nowitzki (german), steve nash (canadian), and tim duncan (kind of black). i realized that making a list of the top white (general) players isn't too difficult because you can include marginally well adjusted players like hedo turkoglu and bonafide stars like manu ginobili. you see, i'm trying to keep it strictly white american because that immediately raises the difficulty quotient. off the top of my head, i couldn't name ten white american players that were widely accepted as great. strictly staying in the post 2000 era eliminated players like larry bird, chris mullin, and fringe players like rex chapman. somebody like john stockton who retired in 2003 wasn't included because he played the majority of his career in the 90s. this caused the pool to be infinitely smaller and definitely more difficult to come up with something. anyways, i'm probably going to miss some because the white american nba player is just so inconspicuous. here we go...

+ brad miller
years active 1998 to current
teams charlotte hornets, chicago bulls, indiana pacers, sacramento kings
achievements 2x nba all-star
why he's on this list i find it hilarious that the first player i thought of was brad miller. sure, he's a 2x nba all-star, but brad miller is the epitome of mediocrity. never great, but never useless, he's made a living off of mid-range shooting, attempting to rebound well, and getting lumped in trades. he looks like he either lives in a cabin or works on a construction site. he's probably the kind of man that goes home after a game, guzzles a beer (read: budweiser, coors, pbr), and shoots cans with a pellet gun.

+ kirk hinrich
years active 2003 to current
teams chicago bulls
achievements jersey retired at kansas
why he's on this list simply stated, kirk hinrich was a god at kansas and had a promising nba career that was derailed by a sequence of unfortunate events (read: injuries, derrick rose being born). hinrich is intense and while nobody would declare him a lockdown defender, he put more effort in a single defensive assignment than steve nash has put forth in his entire career. a couple of seasons ago, dwayne wade and pat riley cried about hinrich's intensity on defense. basically, wade was like this, "wah! wah! kirk hinrich slapped the shit out of my wrists! wah!" gully. hinrich's nearly the prototypical white player except for the fact that he can't shoot. in that regard, he's like the white jamal crawford. oh shit, remember this?

+ brent barry
years active 1995 to current
teams los angeles clippers, miami heat, chicago bulls, seattle supersonics, san antonio spurs, houston rockets
achievements 2x nba champion, seed of rick barry, 1996 slam dunk champion
why he's on this list brent barry is one of those players that never realized or cared about his true potential. he had the ability to do nearly everything. in fact, it's harder to make a list of things he couldn't do on the court. at 6'7", he was capable of running the point and coaches and commentators marveled at his versatility. to date, he is the only white slam dunk champion and hits 41% of his shots from beyond the arc. despite his natural abilities, barry has been a disappointment. there was no excuse for a player of his caliber to have career averages of 9.3 ppg and 25.9 mpg. seriously though, he had the ability in him, just watch the video. this fool didn't even bother to take off his jacket.

+ jason williams
years active 1998 to current
teams sacramento kings, memphis grizzlies, miami heat, orlando magic
achievements 1x nba champion, respect from black people
why he's on this list he's white chocolate. he's had far more exposure than any white american in the nba since larry bird. he couldn't shoot, defend, avoid turnovers, or play intelligently, but shit, he was fun to watch. all of his deficiencies didn't matter because he put fans in seats and exhilarated them night in and night out. whereas rafer alston toned down his game and sprinkled flourishes of his streetball background, williams flaunted it and taunted opponents with his unorthodox abilities. oh, did i mention he was gully? after being swept by phoenix in the 2005 nba playoffs, he was quoted as saying "i'm happy. i go home and see my kids and my wife and i'm ok. all of this shit is secondary to me." winning, shooting well, etc. yes, all that shit was secondary to white chocolate, but honestly, i couldn't care less either. *passes off elbow at full speed*

+ david lee
years active 2005 to current
teams new york knicks
achievements none
why he's on this list you see how hard this list has been? i've included a player (see: brent barry) that has done literally nothing in his career and david lee, a relative nobody. he might play for the high profile new york knicks and he's probably well known by fantasy basketball managers, but seriously, do you know much about david lee? he's a double double waiting to happen. he might have no ability in the post, no mid-range jumper, no actual basketball skill, but he has a few things going for him. he works hard and he knows where to be at all times. he's not out there making faces and yelling like pau gasol while simultaneously getting yammed on. you don't average a double double by being some sucker. lee knows where to go when the ball is up for grabs. he makes the most of his limited offensive ability and takes advantage of put backs and follow ups.

+ mike miller
years active 2000 to current
teams orlando magic, memphis grizzlies, minnesota timberwolves
achievements 2006 sixth man of the year
why he's on this list until last year, mike miller had strung together a solid career. he's a good (and sometimes excellent) shooter that fills up well in other categories. he's never been on a good team, but he plays fairly well for shitty teams. he looks like a cross between a hillbilly, penn gillette, and eminem. other than peja stojakovic, i haven't seen a player, white or black, that could drain threes on a consistent bases so effortlessly. for example, he had a run in 2007 where he hit at least seven three-pointers in three consecutive games. unfortunately, he has the mentality of brent barry and probably will amount to nothing but a white dude that shot a lot of 3's for shitty teams.

some other decent white american nba players include: mike dunleavy jr. (nevermind), chris kaman (grizzly man), kyle korver (ashton!), wally szerbiak (pre-cavaliers only), troy murphy (actually decent), and luke ridnour (lol).

wow, how did i even get six good players out of that...


"this is a foreground"... what's good this week

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

+ 1
what nixon time teller p watch (white)
price $55
why i'm not a watch person, but i can't help but like the clean silhouette of the time teller p. the all-white watch appeals to my sense of luxury. i've always wanted an all-white watch, but chanel was too expensive and crooks & castles too exclusive. i've been missing out until nixon swooped in and released this budget-friendly time piece.
where nixonnow.com

+ 2
what grizzly bear | veckatimest
price $7.99
why one of the most critically acclaimed albums of 2009, veckatimest is a melancholy mix of indie rock and psychedelic folk. for me, grizzly bear sits somewhere between the frenetically paced tv on the radio and the slow musings of fleet foxes. it's a strong album from back to front, but there are a few tracks that i'll highlight in a future post.
where amazon.com

+ 3
what honey bunches of oats w/ almonds
price $4-5
why straight up, this is fucking good cereal.
where grocery store

+ 4
what "hopkins student kills man with samurai sword"
price death
why john pontolillo is a badass. i know, death isn't a joke, but john went himura kenshin on a would-be robber. he probably came out of the shadows like saito. you know what, i'm not a nerd. kenshin was the only anime series i watched in full and he was super gully. i bet that john was a fan as well.
where e. university parkway, baltimore aka edo, seat of the tokugawa shogunate or read the baltimore sun

what duffel: visual trip planner
price free
why i've been using duffel since it's been in its beta stages. for a frequent traveler like me, it's an irreplaceable resource. i'm not spontaneous, so i like to plan extensively. with duffel, you can plan a trip to basically any city because it utilizes google maps to pin your locations. basically, you have a web-based tack board and map at your disposal. you can map out activities, restaurants, bars, hotels, shops, and even flight paths. i highly suggest.
where duffelup.com

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how to cook

Monday, September 14, 2009

who's happy for the start of another work week? certainly not me, but at least it allows me to get back to posting after a leisurely weekend vacation. the mtv vma's were this weekend, but considering that it's a third tier awards show, there isn't much to note other than a) wale got a lot of face time in preparation for his debut album, attention deficit b) the camera panned to asher roth once every 15 minutes c) kanye west got drunk and got everybody riled up and d) jay-z's sense of self-importance was on full display. while the kanye west/taylor swift/beyonce debacle seemed poorly staged and managed, i'm sure the mtv talking heads are smiling as all the major news outlets, blogs, and what not were busy dispatching venom towards kanye. seriously, facebook and twitter blew up with overly emotional younglings as mtv executives mimed "dance, puppets, dance". luckily for kanye, he's one of the few celebrities who can eat negative publicity easily. i would say this tidbit tells the story well.

"MTV wasn't complaining on Monday. Televised on MTV, MTV2 and VH1 simultaneously on Sunday, the awards show was seen by 11 million people, according to Nielsen Media Research. That's up 21 percent over last year and was the most-watched Video Music Awards since 2002."

well, that's enough with the tmz-ing.

it seems like there's some people out there who appreciated the last post so i'll try to keep it going with the advice/gimmicky commentary. i might as well make this official and call it "the most interesting man in the world guide to living" or some nonsense. without further ado, here is the next set of principles for you to live by.

+ cook dinner, roast a chicken
reason men should know how to create at least one (impressive) dinner and a proper roast chicken is the simplest and most satisfying meal you can learn. sure thing, a woman that can cook is sexy, but she'd probably be sexy with or without that skill. on the other hand, a man can significantly up his chances and relative worth by doing something unexpected of him like properly roasting a chicken. ironically, this is extremely easy and even the retard from the hangover or rain man could do it.

+ simple roast chicken recipe
what you need
paper towels, 2-3 lbs. whole chicken, kosher salt, black pepper, 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme, 2 tbsp. unsalted butter (opt), roasting pan, functional ears
what to do
1) preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
2) pat dry the chicken. seriously, make the chicken as dry as possible.
3) generously season the chicken with salt. make it rain on the bird. my salt is in a ramekin/bowl and i get two or three good four finger pinches of salt. this isn't an exact science so you'll have to experiment. just don't be stupid and over salt.
4) with your hands, place the chicken in a roasting pan and place in the oven. do not cover it with foil or whatever nonsense.
5) set your timer for 50 minutes and listen for it to ring.
6) after 50 minutes, check on your bird. if the skin is golden and crispy, it's good to take out.
7) this is optional, but i would definitely do it. cut 2 tbsp. of butter into little strips and evenly disperse it on top of the chicken skin.
8) pull the leaves off the fresh tyme and sprinkle it down on the buttered chicken. season to taste with black pepper. no more than a few grinds.
9) now, you can either butcher the chicken or just serve it straight up. personally, i would butcher it and cut out the two leg/thigh combos.
10) realize that you can't just serve chicken. you'll need to dummy up some side dishes. here are some ideas: corn, green peas, green beans, or mashed potatoes. if you need recipes for that, send me an e-mail. don't be afraid to use canned vegetables, you've already impressed with your roasting skills.

+ "oh shit, you don't know how to make proper mashed potatoes" recipe
what you need
2 lbs yukon gold or red bliss potatoes, 1.25 cups heavy cream, kosher salt, black pepper, 2 sprigs fresh thyme, 2-4 tbsp. unsalted butter (depends how buttery you like things), cold water, pot w/ cover, potato masher
what to do
1) take your unpeeled potatoes and place in a large pot filled with cold water on the stove.
2) cover the pot, set the burner to the highest setting, and get your water rapidly boiling.
3) once the water is rapidly boiling, reduce the heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
4) after 15 minutes, check your potatoes. if you can easily run a paring knife or fork through them, then they can be mashed. if not, they need more cooking, son.
5) after the potatoes are sufficiently tender, drain the water off, but keep the potatoes in the pot. cut the heat from the stove, by the way. you have a little choice. you can either keep the potatoes peeled, which i prefer, or you can peel them using your fingers not a peeler.
6) now, throw everything else in the pot (cream, butter, thyme leaves-removed from stems, and season to taste with salt and pepper). be extra nice with the salt and somewhat with the pepper. you are trying to boost the flavors. season, mix. then taste. season, mix, then taste.
7) take your masher and mash out. feel free to add more cream if you like it creamier...
8) serve with your incredible roast chicken. these potatoes should taste so good that you won't need gravy.

+ other posts in this series
part one: martial arts, drinks, cigarettes, etc.

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the most interesting man in the world

Friday, September 11, 2009

while not yet into my mid-20s, i have come to accept that it's due time for me to become more responsible, more professional, and in a sense, more manly. no, i don't mean that in a derogatory sense, but there are certain qualities and material possessions that a true man's man should strive to attain. okay, the first step in becoming more mature is to admit that i did not really have such a revelation. in fact, i was more so inclined to create this post due to a combination of the film taken and the dos equis advertisements featuring the most interesting man in the world. consequently, you may receive this post as tongue and cheek or an actual, real world guide to manliness.

+ joint-lock or chokehold
reason look, i'm not telling you to join the bandwagon, start watching ufc, and sign up for jiu jiutsu classes. taken made it abundantly clear that men should learn some kind of defense/immobilization technique. sure, bryan mills was on a 96 hour quest to save his daughter from a lifetime of drugs and prostitution, but his manipulation of people's faces was awe inspiring. i can't verify the accuracy of this account, but an astute viewer on wiki answers placed the death toll in taken at 7,000. imagine compiling that body count or 32 even. personally, i can successfully apply the kimura and hammerlock on unfortunate individuals. i have yet to find myself in a situation where my skills were tested, but unless my foe is wielding a blade or pistol, then i'm pretty confident in my chances.

+ multi-tool
reason this is two-fold. actually, the reasoning should be many fold. as mentioned in the previous "article", a man with a blade is a dangerous individual. if you aren't adept at disarming a person, you might as well even the playing field and produce a blade of your own. i kid, maybe. additionally, a multi-tool is useful in non-life threatening situations. the original swiss army knife included a blade, reamer, bottle-opener, screwdriver, wire stripper, and can opener. if you can't find use for all of these tools, then you are either a) invalid or b) not a man's man. my grandfather always had a victorinox swiss army knife on him. fortunately, he didn't need to stab anybody, but it came in handy to open cans and tighten screws. these days, leatherman is the popular manufacturer for multi-tools.

+ drink of choice
reason drinking is the past time of a true gentleman. yes, that sounds corny, but it's true and by drink of choice, i don't mean bud light or pbr. men should have a "real" drink of choice, preferably one that includes fine spirits (liquor, fool). my drink of choice is the gin (tanqueray ten) and tonic (schweppes) with a sliver of lime. as far as "mixed" drinks go, it is among the quintessential man drinks for the mere fact that it was invented by the army... the british army... of the east india company. generally, people dislike gin because it tastes putrid, but i am not just any people... i am a man. on any given night, i can consume 3 to 4 properly made gin and tonics before embarrassing myself. there is no "official" ratio for the gin and tonic. thus, one may encounter a gin and tonic that is one glass gin with a splash of tonic or equal parts gin and tonic. either way, it is served on the rocks and garnished with lemon or lime.

+ lighter, pack of cigarettes
reason i am not advocating smoking. i do not smoke myself. having these items at your disposable is for illusion and conversation. numerically speaking, 19.8 million women in the u.s. are smokers. putting that number into context, 17.4% or for my purposes, nearly 1 in 5 women are smokers. say you are out on your nightly routine and hitting up clubs and lounges, you need a break once in a while and decide to step out. guess what friend? there will be a handful of ladies seeking a young man, preferably you, for your assistance in either lighting their cigarette or furnishing one for them. if you have a lighter snugly fit into your sportcoat, you are in luck as you've managed to break the ice without saying a word. while this tactic is not the most mature, it certainly is manly. of course, this is not a guarantee, but according to uncrate answers, why risk losing out on the possibility of making "friends"? if you do find yourself in such a situation, i can provide testament to the fact that it's effective.

+ preferred film, album, and book
reason if you have one of each, you are prepared for instant conversation. this is the cultural opposition to my advice to keep a lighter and pack of cigarettes. if you are conversing with people in a casual, non-bar setting, being or having the appearance of being cultured proves your joie de vivre. it's rudimentary proof that you have interests in life. it may change per conversation, but always have a set or at least one to provide when questioned. currently, my preferred film is inglourious basterds. my preferred film of all time is the good, the bad, and the ugly. if i can tell you have no interest in westerns or classics, my preferred film is either city of god, goodfellas, the shawshank redemption, miller's crossing, or drunken master 2. my preferred album is return to cookie mountain by tv on the radio. in some situations, my preferred album is only built 4 cuban linx by raekwon. generally, my preferred book is no reservations by anthony bourdain. this set of preferences has been partially molded by the reality of general interests and my own genuine favoritism. by the way, in terms of travel and dining, bourdain is the fucking man's man... that didn't come out right.

well, that's all for this friday. feel free to share your thoughts and suggestions. stay tuned for more tips on being a man's man in the future!

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"second time around"

last week, i hastily reviewed the three prominent hip-hop releases from kid cudi, raekwon, and jay-z. i broke down my thoughts on each track, but i didn't compile an overall score. being a mathematical genius, i composed a complex equation to normalize those numbers and produce an initial score. after having a few days to let each album soak in, i changed my final score accordingly and provided final thoughts. read on, friends!

+ kid cudi - man on the moon
initial 58/100
final 72/100
thoughts cudi is a good artist, but he still can't sing or rap. what he can do is select thought provoking production and craft memorable hooks and choruses. while man on the moon has grown on me immensely, this album would be better served if everything was kept in tact and cudi's attempts at rapping were discarded. maybe i was judging the book by its cover because dear god, that was one of the worst album covers i've seen this decade. i can't lie though. i find myself listening to this album more and more.

+ raekwon - only built 4 cuban linx pt. 2
initial 84/100
final 84/100
thoughts yes, this album sounds incredibly dated and would have been better if it met a pre-2000 release, but ob4cl2 is still dope. the production is vintage and top shelf while raekwon and company keep everything flowing smoothly as they weave in and out of the coke drama. there is classic material in there, but a handful of production missteps and sometimes stale lyrics keep it from achieving the lofty heights of its predecessor. for me, it won't get better with time... unless we were somehow able to revert time.

+ jay-z - the blueprint 3
initial 75/100
final 70/100
thoughts i didn't want to harp on this before, but jay-z has severely regressed as a rapper. there are moments of clarity where jay-z shows glimpses of his previous greatness, but they are few and far between. we are mostly left with a listless jay-z that's content with delivering passable verses. production wise, the timbaland tracks were indeed awful and we all would have been better served if jay-z had continued working with sean c and lv. personally, this is nearly a one and done listening experience.

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what to do in the district

Thursday, September 10, 2009

i'm going to richmond and virginia beach, but you might want to check this out.

stussy's adams morgan day block party is happening this sunday, september 13th. you should probably just print out the flyer so you can remember it. dj excel and stereofaith will be performing for the crowd. while you're there, you might as well hit up commonwealth and for the greater good as well.

+ the details
where stussy - 1781 florida ave nw
metro dupont circle or u st
when 12 to 5pm

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"the sky might fall"

Monday, September 07, 2009

+ "in my dreams"
feature none
producer emile
notes kid cudi's singing seems completely off key. emile's production is reminiscent of the matrix. i feel like slowly contorting my body to dodge kid cudi's soundwaves.
first look score 1.5/5

+ "soundtrack 2 my life"
feature none
producer emile
notes kid cudi has a passable flow, but lyrically, he's kind of thin. he's not that technical. you won't find yourself rewinding to hear "what did he just say?" moments. as for production, emile crafts an airy and spacey background that can be best described as sparse. the highlight of "soundtrack 2 my life" is the chorus. it's been said before, but kid cudi can craft and perform a hook.
first look score 3/5

+ "simple as..."
feature none
producer plain pat
notes the vocal sample is well integrated, but it just seems weird. as with the first two emile tracks, plain pat continues the simplicity. once again, kid cudi displays a fairly competent flow, but his song writing seems incredibly simple. the common interjections work well to bridge the gaps, but it seems like he's trying to go over your head.
first look score 2.5/5

+ "solo dolo"
feature none
producer emile
notes this one has a little more to it, production wise. if it wasn't obvious yet, kid cudi has no obligation to follow convention on his debut album. if you are looking for 16 bars, chorus, 16 bars, etc., you aren't going to find it here. what you will find is sporadic rapping, seemingly random singing, and operatic build ups.
first look score 3/5

+ "heart of a lion"
feature none
producer free school
notes to be honest, kid cudi reminds me of an amateur rapper. he just happens to be backed by expensive sounding production. when you listen to myspace rappers, you can tell that their homemade production was made in fruity loops or is simply garbage. with kid cudi, the sound is very clean so it gives the aura of professionalism. "heart of a lion" falls flat.
first look score 1/5

+ "my world"
feature billy cravens
producer plain pat
notes this sounds like a 808 leftover. kid cudi has a very lazy style. it would work better if he was saying anything of substance. the chorus is awful. there's nothing good i can say about this. everything seems so random.
first look score 1/5

+ "day n nite"
feature none
producer dot da genius
notes by now, you should know the track that put kid cudi on the map. this is what i expected when the kid cudi album fell on my lap. unfortunately, kid cudi didn't collaborate with dot da genius further. lyrically, this is terrible, but it's incredibly catchy. that's the difference that makes this track memorable and his other tracks disappointing and confusing.
first look score 4.5/5

+ "sky might fall"
feature none
producer kanye west
notes it isn't hard for me to admit that i'm in love with this track. i think it's expertly crafted from front to back. strangely, i think this is kid cudi's strongest and most lyrically adept track. kanye west created a simple, yet hauntingly effective background as cudi drearily sings "the sky might fall". it's the most complete track on the album thus far. the new additions to the track work well except for kid cudi's bridge, but even that isn't enough to ruin this.
first look score 5/5

+ "enter galactic"
feature none
producer illfonics
notes wow. i don't think i can even comment on the singing or rapping. it's dreadful. the production is the saving grace. i think this would have been much more effective as an instrumental. fortunately for dj's, "enter galactic" can be mixed easily in any house set. kid cudi takes himself incredibly seriously and he's trying to impart that perceived knowledge to the listener, but it comes across as disingenuous and pretentious.
first look score 3/5

+ "alive"
feature ratatat
producer ratatat
notes ratatat is generally awesome even though all their tracks virtually sound identical because they only know one guitar/synthesizer setting. you could take kid cudi out of this and it would just sound like an outtake from lp3. it's disappointing to hear kid cudi because he seemingly had a lot of potential, but he has absolutely no idea how to construct a track. it's not even about concentrating on rapping or singing. he needs to improve dramatically in all categories.
first look score 3.5/5

+ "cudi zone"
feature none
producer emile
notes goodness. kid cudi cannot rap. he hasn't had a single memorable line. his flow is relatively spot on. he displays that ability here, but lyrically, he is abominable. the production has been fairly good so far and emile does a good job here especially on the strings. kid cudi has been spotty on the singing. on this track, he is in the zone and his chorus is strong.
first look score 3/5

+ "make her say"
feature kanye west, common
producer kanye west
notes other than "sky might fall", this is probably the best produced track, but it doesn't fit on this album at all. kid cudi's vocal contribution is awful, but kanye west and common rescue this track. the video for "make her say" was also well made and that adds to the overall score and reception of this track. honestly, i don't see why kid cudi couldn't work with his label head and improve his rapping. kanye west has shown noticeable improvement on every album and hopefully, we see the same from cudi.
first look score 4.5/5

+ "pursuit of happiness"
feature mgmt, ratatat
producer ratatat
notes once again, ratatat deliver with the production. they can't do much wrong since they do the same thing over and over again. mgmt are another of my preferred indie bands and they try their best to help cudi here. "tell me what you know about dreams"... i don't know, man. kid cudi is really trying to push this art house agenda with music that should be going over our heads, but it's just terrible. man on the moon is definitely an album that requires an instrumental release.
first look score 3.5/5

+ "hyyerr"
feature chip tha ripper
producer crada
notes see, this is new age production with substance and feeling. sadly, it's blatantly obvious that chip tha ripper is leaps and bounds better than kid cudi. i like this track though. kid cudi does his best bone thugs n harmony impression and it works well with this production. right after i typed that, kid cudi started rapping, meh.
first look score 4/5

+ "up up & away"
feature none
producer free school
notes this sounds like it's from another album. i guess it's an apt track to finish this album. it makes no sense. kid cudi does a solid job with the chorus and he attempts to rap. i'm sure that the good family is somewhere giving kid cudi props on his artistic endeavor, but for me, it's been largely disappointing. while my review has seemed harsh, it's not all that bad. i can see myself listening to this album repeatedly because it has solid production values and a lot of catchy choruses.
first look score 1.5/5

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"you can be my drug dealer girl"

Thursday, September 03, 2009

"she take a bone like a rib eye steak at ruth's chris"

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

here is my first look review of raekwon's only built 4 cuban linx pt. 2. it's been a great day for music. make sure to scroll down to read my thoughts on the blueprint 3. let's go!

some listening material to begin:
+ raekwon feat. ghostface killah & suga bang "cold outside" [audio]
+ raekwon feat. inspectah deck & RZA "black mozart" [audio]
+ raekwon feat. inspectah deck & ghostface killah "mean streets" [audio]
+ raekwon feat. inspectah deck & masta killa "kiss the ring" [audio]

+ "return of the north star"
feature papa wu
producer BT
notes it's the intro.
first look score n/a

+ "house of flying daggers"
feature inspectah deck, ghostface killah, method man
producer j dilla
notes recycled dilla production, but i'm not complaining. the album version is much better than the initially leaked version. i approve.
first look score 4.5/5

+ "sonny's missing"
feature none
producer pete rock
notes generally, i dislike pete rock, but the production is quality on "sonny's missing". the brooding pianos followed by the tense horn loops is hauntingly beautiful. raekwon parlays his lyrical expertise into a short story complete with murder, interrogation, drug use, gang violence, and a lot of posturing.
first look score 4.5/5

+ "pyrex vision"
feature none
producer marley marl
notes marley marl? seriously? where did he find this dude? "pyrex vision" is less than a minute long, but the guitar loop and bubbling in the background makes it sound lush. raekwon lazily flows through this as he describes his drug spot. the tracks are seamlessly blending into each other.
first look score 4/5

+ "cold outside"
feature ghostface killah, suga bang
producer ATL
notes oh shit, i don't know who ATL is, but his production is epic. it reminds me of the scene in kill bill where lucy liu and the bride have their final showdown. suga bang is the worst name i've ever heard, but he's sangin'! raekwon and ghostface killah are trading barbs to perfection, but i can't get over this beat. it's fucking wild. this is a beyond perfect track. seriously, i want to stab someone with a samurai sword.
first look score 10/5

+ "black mozart"
feature inspectah deck, RZA
producer RZA
notes oh no! i can't believe RZA used this sample, insanity! this is vintage RZA, dope. raekwon isn't letting up on the lyrical side of things. the singing is kind of off putting, but when inspectah deck energetically comes on, it more than makes up for that. it's feeling like a second birth for the whole clan. wow, RZA's vocal addition was quite strange.
first look score 5/5

+ "gihad"
feature ghostface killah
producer necro
notes get out of here, necro!? raekwon going in with the drug talk. this sounds like a generic necro production, nothing too interesting going on there. ghostface killah is hilariously misogynistic, classic. "she take a bone like a rib eye steak at ruth's chris"! the ad libs at the end are comedy.
first look score 4/5

+ "new wu"
feature ghostface killah, method man
producer RZA
notes we've all heard this by now, but it's still as dope as the first time. they all go in. straight up, ran train on this.
first look score 5/5

+ "penitentiary"
feature ghostface killah
producer BT
notes LMAO. i don't know why i like this because the production makes me want to have a seizure. raekwon trading lines with ghostface killah is a team that cannot be touched. i can't listen to this too many times in a row. sonically, this is kind of terrible, but i love it.
first look score 4/5

+ "baggin crack"
feature none
producer n/a
notes i don't know if this an official track. the drum programming is amateur, but raekwon is making the most of it. it's just non-stop rae-isms.
first look score 3/5

+ "surgical gloves"
feature none
producer the alchemist
notes you can tell this alchemist almost immediately. the chop is kind of grating, not the best sound. this doesn't sound like raekwon. i thought mf doom had substituted until the second verse. flow is lazy and off at times. a lot of randomness and it's not structured well. can't say i like this much.
first look score 2.5/5

+ "broken safety"
feature jadakiss, styles p
producer scram jones
notes can't get enough of the kung-fu samples. primary sound is almost identical to "surgical gloves", but is mixed much lower. it's kind of like video game music. there's a repetitive sound that's kind of annoying. jeez, it's going on the entire time. on the other side of things, they all do a stand up job. styles p sounds like he's rapping on another track, but lyrically, it's nice and standard lox material.
first look score 3.5/5

+ "canal street"
feature none
producer icewater
notes this sounds familiar, but i can't put my finger on it. it sounds like a robber's theme song. raekwon is on point. i'm kind of glad that the production is so unassuming. we're witnessing the rebirth of raekwon.
first look score 3.5/5

+ "ason jones"
feature none
producer j dilla
notes raekwon's heartfelt tribute to odb. it's touching especially with the background music from j dilla. it's kind of a strange track to listen to as it's a tribute to both the fallen wu-tang member and a display of the late j dilla's talent. this is the "put your lighters in the air" track.
first look score 4.5/5

+ "have mercy"
feature beanie sigel, blue raspberry
producer icewater
notes wow, blue raspberry? i didn't even know she was still among the living. come to think of it, i haven't heard beanie sigel in a minute. icewater is an adequate producer, but he hasn't done anything really interesting. it's keeping the same mood as the previous track. introspective and haunting, i think it's a good balance.
first look score 4/5

+ "10 bricks"
feature cappadonna, ghostface killah
producer j dilla
notes a redux of an already dope track from champion sound. the high pitched strings make me think there are bees around me. corny, i know, but i really do feel like i'm about to get stung. the chorus is poorly delivered, but the verses are prime. it's always nice to hear cappadonna in all his off kilter glory.
first look score 4.5/5

+ "fat lady sings"
feature none
producer icewater
notes "we going ricky retardo"! icewater is marginally more interesting on "fat lady sings". you can't say he's formulaic, that's for sure. the singing is extremely grating, but raekwon's short story is nice.
first look score 3.5/5

+ "catalina"
feature lyfe jennings
producer dr. dre
notes search through the archives to find my full write up of "catalina". i like!
first look score 4.5/5

+ "we will rob you"
feature slick rick, masta killah, GZA
producer allah justice
notes oh, slick rick!? story wise, this is flawless. the production is fairly standard and nothing to place attention to, but lyrically, this is perfection. you can easily visualize the scene they are describing, especially GZA. the chorus is very corny, yikes.
first look score 4.5/5

+ "about me"
feature busta rhymes
producer dr. dre
notes the production feels a tad out of place, but this is a perfect example of what dr. dre can do with limited ingredients. i approve of busta rhymes in a guest role. i think that's where he performs the best. if i wasn't considering this in the context of the album, i would probably rate this higher.
first look score 4/5

+ "mean streets"
feature inspectah deck, ghostface killah
producer allah mathematics
notes nearly epic production from allah mathematics. it's not "cold outside", but it's in the running for second. i think my neck is about to crack. this might be the best chorus on ob4cl pt. 2. inspectah deck has murdered every guest spot he's done on this. i mean, it was a given that ghostface killah would handle his co-star status, but inspectah deck surprised me.
first look score 5/5

+ "kiss the ring"
feature inspectah deck, masta killa
producer scram jones
notes damn, this sounds like celebration. the sample is hilarious, but scram jones bodied it. this is a perfect ending. "frontin' like i know i'm the king, i live alone though" raekwon is telling us we just witnessed a classic and i'm close to believing him. once again, inspectah deck just vince carter over frederic weis'd this track.
first look score 5/5

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"eating ya'll food leaving dishes"

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

if you've been roaming the internet in the past day, you've probably managed to snag a "copy" of the blueprint 3. i've been sitting on my pilfered jay-z goods, but i decided to give it a listen last night. without getting into great detail, my first impressions are as follows.

some listening material to begin:
+ oh, the powers that be deleted my joints!

+ "what we talkin' about"
feature luke steele of empire of the sun
producer kanye west, no i.d.
notes production is quality. jay-z appears to be in top form and effortlessly moves through the track. i've never heard of luke steele and it won't be too soon if i ever hear him again. overall, a more than solid intro.
first look score 4/5

+ "thank you"
feature none
producer kanye west, no i.d.
notes once again, the production is quality. the kanye west and no i.d. partnership works. jay-z sounds right at home and delivers both quotable and well constructed verses. his flow is flawless. he lays rest to his detractors, of the competing mc's sort, with the third verse. "thank you" might be my favorite track on the blueprint 3.
first look score 5/5

+ "d.o.a. (death of auto-tune)"
feature none
producer no i.d.
notes i've enjoyed no i.d.'s production since "d.o.a." was released. in contrast, i haven't thought too much about jay-z's contribution. i think it's kind of corny and "salty old man" like of jay-z to pull this card. the first verse is "meh", but jay-z marginally improves the quality through to the end.
first look score 3.5/5

+ "run this town"
feature kanye west, rihanna
producer kanye west, no i.d.
notes the beginning of this track is epic as rihanna croons out the hook as gritty guitars get pulled in. kanye west and no i.d. deliver again. unfortunately, jay-z comes out flat and uninteresting. the second verse is a complete throwaway. the third verse by kanye completely steals the track. it's reminiscent of eminem's turn on "renegades". like nas would say, kanye murdered jay-z on his own shit.
first look score 4/5

+ "empire state of mind"
feature alicia keys
producer al shux
notes can't say that i've ever heard of al shux. he provides standard, but inspiring work. jay-z does an adequate job. he doesn't say much of note. it's soothing to hear alicia keys' voice. her tone and inflection on "empire state of mind" remind me of chris martin of coldplay. it's odd, but it works.
first look score 4/5

+ "real as it gets"
feature young jeezy
producer the inkredibles
notes oh, this is tight! young jeezy ad libs can make anything better. the production by the inkredibles gets me pumped up. this could be the next "roc boys" is marketed properly. jay-z and young jeezy both deliver on their verses.
first look score 5/5

+ "on to the next one"
feature swizz beatz
producer swizz beatz
notes if you've been in a club in the last two years, you'll immediately recognize the justice sample. subsequently, you can recognize any swizz beatz production within seconds of it coming on. not a boring track, but swizz beatz is pretty formulaic. jay-z flexes lyrically and the flow is vintage. subliminals at weezy? sign me up!
first look score 3.5/5

+ "off that"
feature drake
producer timbaland
notes lmao.
first look score 1/5

+ "a star is born"
feature j. cole
producer kanye west, no i.d.
notes finally, a misstep by kanye west and no i.d. "a star is born" is a negative! the drums are horrid! in a reverse moment, jay-z does a commendable job until the middle of the track. the flow is reminiscent of "my humps" era black eyed peas. j. cole performs clean up and does well. considering he's on roc nation, i think he's one to look out for.
first look score 3/5

+ "venus vs. mars"
feature none
producer timbaland
notes chorus is pathetic. production is sad. jay-z is near perfect. it's hard to like this track because of what's wrong with it, but jay-z murders it. individually, i think this is his strongest performance.
first look score 4.5/5

+ "already home"
feature kid cudi
producer kanye west
notes frankly, the strings are incredibly annoying, but the horns are perfect. with that said, the balance simply works. kid cudi could become the no auto-tune version of t-pain or better yet, the next akon. i can see him crafting a career on choruses and hooks alone. lyrically, jay-z is on a roll as he puts in another strong performance.
first look score 4/5

+ "haters"
feature kanye west
producer kanye west
notes the productions sounds like a leftover from the 808s sessions. that's not necessarily a bad thing as i think the production is quality. "haters" works best when jay-z and kanye west are going back forth. i have to say that "eating ya'll food leaving dishes" is a classic line. the singing at the end was unnecessary and odd.
first look score 4/5

+ "reminder"
feature random singer that sounds like rihanna
producer timbaland
notes finally, timbaland has production that's not horrible. i'm glad that hov put the stops on a solely timbaland produced album. the production is fairly strong and sounds nothing like timbaland, but maybe that's a good thing. side note, the chorus is awful, aww! jay-z steps on the toes of prospective haters and declares himself the best, after the beatles that is. jay-z is on the preemptive here. he doesn't want the internets hating on him
first look score 4/5

+ "so ambitious"
feature pharrell
producer the neptunes
notes if this is what the neptunes were submitting, i think jay-z you should have considered replacing the timbaland productions. vintage neptunes. i'm looking forward to what else they gave to the clipse. i haven't decided if this is a complaint or not, but "so ambitious" reminds me of a lot other tracks. jay-z gets a little introspective and handles his section while pharrell absolutely murders it on the bridge. the last verse is memorable. this is a combo that works.
first look score 5/5

+ "young forever"
feature mr. hudson
producer kanye west
notes another 808s leftover, but i can't say i like this one as much. the synths sound like a programmed loop. i don't see what the big deal with mr. hudson is. i don't think he adds much to this track. the idea of this track is kind of humurous considering jay-z is old as shit, but he is still trying to remain relevant. could that be what's he's going for? i wish this was an itunes bonus track because "so ambitious" would have been a perfect closer.
first look score 2/5

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"cause this is louis vuitton dime night"

Saturday, August 29, 2009

as the school year starts, the rest of us in the working world are gearing up for a return to business casual attire in the office, colder weather, and the continuous search for grown up clothes. like everyone else, i have my wish lists and my own sense of style, but here are some pieces that every man should consider in some form. by the way, you'll need flash player in order to view the slideshow.

+ 1
what j. crew ludlow legacy blazer
price $298
why every man needs at least one premium blazer. j. crew has steadily increased their quality with the opening of their mens shops and outside collaborations. while a little pricey for a mall brand, the ludlow legacy blazer is intricately detailed and the inner silk lining will keep you nice and cool. the brushed exterior wool in a rich navy keeps this classic.
where jcrew.com

+ 2
what gap medium chambray shirt
price $44.50
why the stylish director jake davis has proclaimed that this is a good introductory shirt for those interested in chambray. chambray has become a prevalent look in recent months, but if you are thinking twice about the denim look, keep it affordable yet stylish.
where gap.com

+ 3
what j. crew x levi's 501xx slim-fit selvedge denim
price $265
why i wasn't joking about the j. crew collabs. levi's produces it's original money maker for j. crew complete with selvedge detailing. a cheaper alternative would be to grab the selvedge denim from uniqlo in nyc. unfortunately, they don't have an online store so you'll have to make your way to broadway to cop a pair for $80.
where jcrew.com

+ 4
what palladium baggy canvas in stonewash metal
price $70
why boots are an integral piece of any man's wardrobe. with palladium's boots, you don't have to walk around looking like paul bunyan's little brother. with a nice pair of denim, you can take these to the street and keep it rugged and refined.
where palladiumboots.com

+ 5
what incase monochrome slider case for iphone
price $34.95
why let's be honest, the iphone is the quintessential accessory for the modern person. sure, the blackberry may hold the edge in terms of office productivity, but the iphone has revolutionized the mobile handheld. want to keep your iphone fresh? put it in one of incase's famed slider cases. the new monochrome colors are definitely suited for a man's palette.
where goincase.com

+ 6
what makr minimal black wax flap wallet
price $120
why makr wallets are handcrafted using premium leathers. besides looking brolic, these wallets are 100% american made. support your countrymen and keep your money safe, get a makr wallet.
where makr.com

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DJ AM dead at 36

Friday, August 28, 2009

+ TRV$DJAM "fix your face vol. 2" [album]

as you may have heard by now, DJ AM was found deceased this evening in his new york apartment. it seems surreal considering around this time last year, he and travis barker were involved in a learjet accident that resulted in the deaths of four people. after surviving the horrific crash, DJ AM went on to become the friday night dj at rain nightclub in las vegas as well as continuing his worthwhile collaboration with barker and producing two stellar mixtapes. i can't say that i know much about his other projects, but the "fix your face" series was among my favorite dj mixtapes in the past few years. i can't think of a better way to honor his memory than listening to him do what he did best. rest in peace.

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what to do in the district

Thursday, August 27, 2009

since i've been living and working in dc for nearly two years, i thought that it might be a nice idea to inform any local jesus piece regulars on happenings in the area. i'm not part of the young and the banging set or anything similar, but i do try to go out either to enculture myself, get lifted, or to merely have a good time exploring what my locale has to offer. in an effort to have a weekly column, i will be posting local events every thursday.

phillips after 5 is a once-a-month program at the phillips collection near dupont circle. the program typically includes live jazz, gallery talks, modern art exhibitions, a fully catered buffet, and cash bar. films and demonstrations have also been a part of the programming. admittance is by donation, but i've heard that attendees usually "donate" $10-12. the phillips collection has extended hours with programming every thursday evening from 5 to 8:30pm. tonight, they are screening the bride of frankenstein, demonstrating indian henna body art, and discussing fragmented figures in painting. dj donald syriani is set to spin international house music and the event will feature a buffet by geppetto's catering.

+ the details
where the phillips collection - 1600 21st st nw
metro dupont circle
when 5 to 8:30pm, every thursday

'95 live occurs every thursday night at steve's bar room near dupont circle. it was created by the monsters of streetwear in this area: commonwealth dc, stussy dc, and for the greater good. '95 live is strictly devoted to the 1990s and you should expect to hear everything from hip-hop to indie to electro. attendees are eligible for giveaways from commonwealth, stussy, and hellz bellz. in an effort to get the girls in, steve's bar room is offering free champagne from 9 to 11pm. fellows will have to settle for the standard beer and rail drinks at regular prices, but fortunately, there is no cover. this week's featured dj is geometrix.

+ the details
where steve's bar room - 1337 connecticut ave nw
metro dupont circle
when 9pm to 2am, every thursday

the newseum, located in penn quarter, is offering half-price admission through august provided that you mention "wtop" when purchasing your tickets. personally, i have never been to the newseum, but i heard that the exhibits are sufficiently interesting and interactive. i have a passion for all things media so the half-price deal is more than enticing to me.

+ the details
where newseum - 555 pennsylvania ave nw
metro archives-navy memorial-penn quarter
when 9am to 5pm, through august only

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"you've got the body, now you want my soul"

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

being born in the 1980s, there were three succinct pieces of media that i have remained enamored with into adulthood: hall and oates, miami vice, and music videos. going in alphabetical order, i'll begin this retrospective series with a look back on hall and oates.

+ hall and oates "greatest hits" [album]

the 1980s proved to be the backdrop for a pop music revolution and produced some of the finest songs ever recorded. being an integral part of the scene, hall and oates were gods of the early mtv era. their unique blend of rock and roll and rhythm and blues helped to define the music of the 1980s. other than michael jackson, you would be hard pressed to find an act from that period that surpassed them in terms of critical acclaim, number one hits, and overall popularity. although hall and oates first appeared in the 1970s, the bulk of their notoriety originated from their contributions to the following decade. while there are numerous songs in their discography that merit discussion, "i can't go for that", their number one hit from private eyes, seemed the logical choice for me. not only did "i can't go for that" affirm their broad appeal, but it was one of my first musical memories.

the accolades for "i can't go for that" were numerous and somewhat surprising. it was inevitable that hall and oates would top the billboard hot 100 after their previous single "private eyes" achieved that same feat 10 weeks earlier. the surprising part for hall and oates (and pop music in general) was that "i can't go for that" also topped the hot soul singles chart which is now known as the hot r&b/hip-hop songs chart. needless to say, that was an incredibly rare task for white artists to accomplish. to put it into perspective, neither eminem nor vanilla ice (come on "ice ice baby" was huge) have come close to topping the hot r&b/hip-hop songs chart. if that wasn't enough, "i can't go for that" also topped the hot dance club songs chart.

chart success was only part of the "i can't go for that" legend. in further testimony to hall and oates crossover appeal, "i can't go for that" has been covered by r&b artists and sampled on numerous occasions by well-known hip-hop acts. those acts include de la soul, heavy d, 2 live crew, mac dre, mf doom as king geedorah, notorious b.i.g., and gnarls barkley. some weren't obscure songs either, "say no go" from 3 feet high and rising and "crazy" from st. elsewhere both integrated "i can't go for that" in some fashion.

i can remember a few instances where i copied jean claude van damme's epic dance sequence (click here to watch the video) from kickboxer and the intro to "i can't go for that" was the perfect foil for the shoulder shimmy. as a child, i didn't fully appreciate the depth of the music, but i definitely acknowledged the funky rhythms. the drum pattern and sounds were typical of the 1980s, but what set "i can't go for that" apart from its contemporaries were the air-like keyboards, guitars, and intense saxophone solos. daryl hall, who proclaimed himself as the "head soul brother in the u.s.", flexed his vocal muscles like arnold schwarzenegger and lou ferrigno at a family picnic. it's near impossible not to become entranced when he sings:

"i'll do anything that you want me to do. yeah, i'll do almost anything that you want me too. yeah... but i can't go for that. no, no can do."

as an integral piece of my music rotation, hall and oates has endured an early childhood obsession and remained as one of my favorite acts of all time. not only does their music conjure up memories, but it's so well crafted that it's relevant even in comparison to today's technologically advanced creations. if you really want to kick the ballistics a la nino brown, the basic formula of "i can't go for that" was korg keyboard + drums + guitars + saxophone. does that sound somewhat familiar to you? it's inherently the same formula as the neptunes. well, that's a wrap for the first of this three part series. stay tuned for the next chapter!

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"it's the smell of this money"

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

+ raekwon feat. lyfe jennings "catalina" [audio]

if you weren't excited for only built 4 cuban linx pt. II, now might be a good time to start. i reckon that raekwon won't get anywhere near gold sales or fill your afternoon ride home via the radio, but he might just release the most important hip-hop album of the decade. sure, that's a lofty statement, but surely you have to realize how people have been wishing for an adequate follow up to his debut album. it's almost certain that pt. II is going to sound dated. it's about ten years late, but all of that will get thrown out of the window when raekwon and his team craft the most cohesive hip-hop album since... well, since only built 4 cuban linx.

"catalina" is raekwon at his finest. frankly, we know that raekwon is sharp lyrically and he rarely (if ever) disappoints. his main problem after only built 4 cuban linx was either pride or outright refusal to follow his initial formula. he waded away from the production and structure that helped to craft one of hip-hop's few conclusive classic albums. so far, it looks as if raekwon has invited the work of the well knowns and only took their premium contributions. dr. dre's work on "catalina" is no exception. he provides what is, in theory, the quintessential dr. dre production. the piano loop is simple, but enticing. the drums aren't complicated, but they are well layered and expertly sequenced. the accompanying sounds, like the slight whirl in the background, only add to the sonic landscape. lyfe jennings serves as a sublime bridge between raekwon's well crafted verses. every piece of the "catalina" puzzle seems like it was chosen and recorded specifically for this song and not a haphazard mish mash of personalities and styles that seemed to be the norm for raekwon's previous releases. only built 4 cuban linx pt. II is shaping up to be 24 tracks of pure, unadulterated hip-hop. it's about time...

extra extra extra

+ raekwon feat. ghostface killah, gza, inspectah deck, and method man "house of flying daggers" [video]

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"we all come here to see if you wanna go pro"

Monday, August 24, 2009

here's a slice of media that i find more interesting than hip-hop: films. this past weekend i was able to watch inglourious basterds and (500) days of summer.

+ inglourious basterds
by quentin tarantino
with brad pitt, christopher waltz, diane kruger, and eli roth
in 252 mins.

after it's first weekend at the box office, inglourious basterds is on course to be tarantino's most successful film commercially, but it's critical plaudits have rivaled his other films like pulp fiction and reservoir dogs. reportedly, it polarized the critics at cannes, but it's met widespread praise since it's release stateside. personally, i agree with the masses and i think it's the finest film i've seen this year.

when you walk into a tarantino film, one should expect a breadth of pop culture references, witty dialogue, homages to films that tarantino appreciates, moments of comedy, and stylized violence. inglourious basterds fulfills those requirements fashionably. tarantino has described basterds as his "spaghetti western but with world war II iconography". additionally, i would add that basterds took the sharp dialogue of pulp fiction, stylized violence and revenge plot of kill bill, particles of the dirty dozen, and converging stories of once upon a time in the west to create a film that transcends genres and labels.

tarantino's characters may be the strongest he has ever written. for instance, colonel hans landa (christopher waltz) is perhaps one of my favorite characters in film, period. waltz geniously portrayed "the jew hunter" as both a ruthless and charismatic figure. waltz provided much of the films most memorable lines and stole each scene he was involved in. the film's big name, brad pitt, didn't disappoint as lieutenant aldo raine aka "aldo the apache". his thick southern drawl, tilted facial expressions, and declarations of cruelty provide the backdrop for a character just as memorable as jules winnfield or bill. i won't soon forget pitt's delivery during the scene where sergeant donny donowitz aka "the bear jew" (eli roth) gears up to bash in the head of a nazi prisoner:

"actually werner, we're all tickled ya said that. frankly, watchin donny beat nazi's to death, is the closest we ever get to the movies. donny! got a german here wants to die for country. oblige him."

tarantino has always been a master for dialogue, but he displays his ability to create a level of tension where you are screaming for characters to do something because you know what will happen, but he keeps you waiting to an unbearable point. it makes for gripping cinema. without giving away too much, some scenes to look out for are the first scene between col. hans landa and the dairy farmer, scene in the underground bar, and basically the entire last chapter.

inglourious basterds is definitely a must see film. while the middle portion of the film may seem to drag on for some, the chapters that include the basterds will more than make up for the dialogue dense middle. my only complaint is that there wasn't enough of the basterds, but i heard that tarantino saved some of the footage for a prequel. i can't wait.

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"you can't bring the future back"

Sunday, August 23, 2009

it looks like jay-z decided to funnel "off that" to the internets and the blogosphere has had the track in it's clutches for the past 24 hours. my review for this track can be summed up in two words: utter garbage.

to begin, the production is fecal matter at worst and lukewarm at best. i doubt that there is a soul that would consider this to be among timbaland's finest offerings. it's shameful that timbaland would even qualify this track as an adequate backdrop for jay-z and drake. in the early development stages of blueprint 3, timbaland claimed that he was producing the entire album. after hearing "off that", i think we are all grateful that his statement was merely ambition and not the truth. it's quite possible that this is all timbaland is capable of. it's possible that he spent what remains of his talent during his escapades with justin timberlake and nelly furtado. it's possible that he produced "off that" without the aid of danjahandz. that's a lot of possibilities, but i would conclude that timbaland simply settled. the thumping and powerful drums that were his trademark and sought out by "super producers" like kanye west were conspicuously absent. the melody was simple and lacked the intense layering of his r&b work. the intermittent sonic additions seemed to detract rather than add. "off that" was bland. it was an effort devoid of actual effort. honestly, the last timbaland production i appreciated was "ayo technology". years ago, he said hip-hop was boring to him. i guess he had to bring his musicianship to meet that standard...

for me, it's difficult to review jay-z. historically, i accept that jay-z is a revered icon in hip-hop and that he's widely considered one of the greatest mc's ever. personally, i have never liked jay-z as much as his rabid fans or hip-hop luminaries in general. i consider the blueprint to be a classic album. i think the black album is mostly great and i enjoyed a handful of tracks from reasonable doubt. my main gripe with jay-z is that he gets extremely lazy with his lyrics and he's apt to jump on whatever the bandwagon is in regards to ad libs, flow, and other lyrical trends. lyrically, the final verse on "off that" is an exemplary display of garbage. he takes note worty lyrical shortcuts like "fidduck" and needless repetition. it seems like he's competing with timbaland to see who's willing to accept mediocrity first.

the last piece of the puzzle is drake and unfortunately, nobody thought it would be a good idea to let him flex his lyrical prowess. he's relegated to chorus and bridge duties and there's little to even grade him on. he sounds like drake. he flows like drake. nothing else happened for him to even matter in the overall context of the track. if "off that" was supposed to be a widely anticipated showcase of the old and new, it completely failed. if drake was allowed to deliver a complete verse, he might have saved the track. at the least, it would temporarily put a stop gap on the dude's head in his lap fiasco.

despite my scrutiny, "off that" has a chance to become one of the last few hits of the summer and prep jay-z fans for blueprint 3. for the common music fan, i think the track will quench their desire to have the three heavyweights together and they won't mind or notice the faults. that is unless they were searching for the next "my love" because "off that" falls short of even decent pop music.

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