Archive for the rap Category

Nerd Lunch Extra Helping – Run-DMC

Posted in movies, music, rap, Run-DMC with tags , , , , , , on September 18, 2013 by Paxton

Nerd Lunch Podcast

While Nerd Lunch is on hiatus, I got together with Matt Ringler from Schlock Treatment and Tim Lybarger from The Neighborhood Archive to discuss Run-DMC and their entire musical catalog. But since this week is the 25th anniversary of their fourth album, Tougher Than Leather, we try to focus on that.

tougher_than_leather

We begin by talking about our first experiences with rap music.  We talk about how we discovered Run-DMC, our favorite Run-DMC albums and songs and we even touch on the long forgotten Tougher than Leather movie that was released the same year as the album.

Lots to talk about and discuss in this episode.  So don’t be a sucker MC.  Download this episode today and relive the glory days of one of raps greatest musical groups.

Download this episode from iTunes or listen to it on Feedburner.

Or listen to this awesomeness online right here.

Nerd To Dos:

We didn’t do them this episode, but Matt and Tim do have some related recommended reading for you to check out.


Matt says for a good history on rap as a genre, check out Dan Charnas’ The Big Payback.


Tim recommends Adam Bradley’s Book of Rhymes.

Suprisingly, I’ve not read any books on the subject of hip hop. That kind of surprises me that I haven’t yet. But, a book I’ve had my eye on for a few years now is:


Raising Hell: The Reign, Ruin, and Redemption of Run-D.M.C. and Jam Master Jay

LL Cool J’s senses destroying debut in the movie Krush Groove

Posted in movies, music, rap with tags , , , on April 19, 2013 by Paxton

LEB

This week, The League is asking us —

“What moment in pop culture had you saying “Now, that’s how you make an introduction!”

One thing popped into my mind as the perfect example of a bombasic and awesome introduction.  This week I’ve been writing an article ranking Run-DMC’s studio albums in order of my personal preference as well as researching the group Run-DMC in preparation for the 25th anniversary of their album Tougher than Leather.  So that is why this particular movie introduction was on my mind.  I’ve talked about it several times on my blog. It happens during one of my favorite movies of all time, Krush Groove.

Krush Groove

Around the middle of the movie, Run-DMC and uber producer Rick Rubin are holding auditions. A young lady finishes singing a song and as they are escorting her out and are closing the auditions, a group of three guys storm in. The one in the middle is LL Cool J. Amongst the protests of Jam Master Jay and Rubin that the auditions are closed, and without preamble, LL yells “BOX!” at his friend who proceeds to hit PLAY on the suitcase nuke-sized portable stereo in his hand. The beat starts, LL paces the floor like a caged tiger for a few seconds and then proceeds to TEAR THE ROOF OFF THE STUDIO with the opening verse to I Can’t Live Without My Radio.

It’s hard now to really put this scene into the proper context of 1985. I saw this movie in the theater and the scene blew my young mind. LL’s delivery and aggressive lyrics mixed with the minimal bass-filled beats were like a jackhammer tearing away at my preconceived notions about rap. This scene made me an LL fan for life. And while LL has certainly mellowed over the years, he still has it in him to create an energy filled rap track.

Check out his most recent single, WHADDUP, with Chuck D, Tom Morello and Travis Barker.

Other top introductions from around The League:
Pop Rewind talks about being introduced to movie franchises like Batman and Terminator via their sequels
Brian at Cool and Collected talks about great 80s rock intros
Diary of a Dorkette talks about being introduced to She-Ra
Goodwill Geek talks about his introduction to Thundercats
Both Batcave Toy Room and Las Vegas Yankee talk about Superman: The Movie.

The Grammys + a rant against modern rappers

Posted in Beastie Boys, music, pop culture, rap with tags , , , on February 21, 2013 by Paxton

I Love Rap

I love music, but TODAY’S music mostly leaves me cold. And not just the music, the artists themselves feel like used car salesman  They only want to sell me their product, not actually entertain me with a good song. And the s**t that goes on the radio is 90% crap.

Now, I realize I sound like an old man, but you can’t tell me that vintage Van Halen, Motley Crue, Run-DMC and Beastie Boys aren’t better than anything else out right now.  Plus, there really isn’t any “rock and roll” on the radio anymore. It’s all R&B riffs and hip hop filled with astonishingly not subtle euphemisms for sex.  And as a rap/hip-hop fan since the early-to-mid 80s, I will unequivocally say that today’s rappers are f**king terrible.  Can I get that off my chest?  TERRIBLE.  Lil Wayne may be the worst rapper I’ve heard in my entire life and the 80s were filled with bad rappers (I’m looking at you Tim Dog).  And don’t get me started on Drake, or Kanye West, for that matter.  That could be a whole other article.

And how unoriginal are all of these modern rap songs?  Where are all the storytellers in hip-hop?  The Slick Ricks, the Rakims, the KRS-Ones, the Chuck Ds?  There is no one of their skill rapping today.  Check out this video from 1991, The Piper by MC Cheba.  It’s better than literally 99% of hip-hop released today.  It tells a story with a very smooth and slick rhyme and a funky bass line   He’s not spending the entire song telling me how much weed he smoked or chicks he’s banged or how much  money he has.  Which I don’t personally have a problem with rappers doing, but it gets OLD after 300 rappers talk about it on all their songs.  Another good story based rap, The Mission by Special Ed.

But I’ve digressed…

Now that this article was high jacked by my rant against modern rappers, let me try to steer this ship back on course.  The Grammys.

Grammys

For the reasons above, I’ve sort of become jaded with the music industry in general.  However, did anyone else watch the Grammys? I didn’t.  I haven’t watched it in YEARS, but my wife DVR’d it and I wound up watching it with her a few days ago.  Wow, I really liked the new format where they mashed up artists into different performances.  For the first time in a LOOOOOONG time I felt like the artists were actually on stage having fun performing and not just doing it as a commercial for their song.

The highlight of the night, for me, was probably the closing number with LL Cool J performing his new song with CHUCK muthaf**king D!  Chuck is 50+ years old and still gets after it better than any other rapper on the radio (however Cool J should have given him more to do than yell the hook).  Cool J was also joined by Travis Barker from Blink-182 and Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine.  It’s actually a pretty great song.

Here’s the performance.  If you want to hear the actual single, listen here.

And how cool was it that Cool J gave a shout out to MCA, the recently deceased member of the Beastie Boys?  Cool J got his start around the same time as the Beastie Boys on Def Jam records.  You can see them together in the movie Krush Groove.  I’m surprised they never collaborated, to be honest.

Anyway, while Cool J was the highlight, there were several performances that totally surprised me in how much I enjoyed them. Here are a few of them.

This was a memorial tribute to Levon Helm, the deceased drummer of The Band. This group probably had the least star power of any of the other performances, but damn, it might be the best performed song on the whole broadcast. Elton John, Zac Brown, Mavis Staples, Mumford & Sons and Alabama Shakes singer Britney Howard brought the house down with an awesome performance of “The Weight”. This was definitely an eclectic collection of talent but the end result was bonkers it was so good. I’ve actually been looking up Zac Brown and Alabama Shakes songs on YouTube because of this.  And this performance in particular is the blueprint for why this new “mash up” format works.

Bruno Mars’ performance was fantastic.  He normally does, but he looks like he’s having so much fun.  And then Sting comes out and does his thing, then out comes Rhianna and the Marley brothers for a tribute to Bob Marley and it just looks like everyone is happy and really enjoying the performance.  I know I was.

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I go ahead and rank the Beastie Boys’ albums in order from best to worst

Posted in Beastie Boys, music, rap with tags , , , on December 7, 2012 by Paxton

I’ve been thinking about doing this for a few months.  Usually ideas like this kick around for awhile until I finally have to say, “ENOUGH, VOICES IN MY HEAD!  YOU WIN, I’LL WRITE THE DAMN ARTICLE!”  And writing the article will silence the voices…for a little bit.  This is how my three part article on New Coke was written.  You’re welcome, by the way, for that little “peek behind the curtain”.

So, the Beastie Boys released their first album, License to Ill, in Nov 1986.  I bought that album, on tape, either later that year or early 1987.  I had just started getting into rap at the time.  I listened mostly to Run-DMC and The Fat Boys.  I liked both group’s rap style, which wasn’t surprising since both of them were on Def Jam Records, famously portrayed in the movie Krush Groove.  And, not surprisingly, The Beastie Boys were also a part of the Def Jam family.  They even had a track on the 1985 Krush Groove soundtrack that I had completely forgotten about when License to Ill was released.  That first album blew me away.  I loved it and listened to it non-stop until I completely wore the tape out and had to buy another one.  I have been a fan of the Boys ever since.

The Beastie Boys released 8 official studio albums beginning with that first one in 1986.  There were also several other compilations, EPs and video albums that were released at various times throughout their career.  However, I’m going to focus on the main 8 studio albums.

Here we go, The Beastie Boys albums in order of my personal preference.

License to Ill
1. License to Ill (1986) – Their first studio album and, to me, their best.  You will never convince me otherwise.  I learned pretty much every song back to front.  It is still the album I listen to first when I want my Beastie Boys fix.  You can tell they are very much influenced by Run-DMC on this album to the point that their song Slow and Low is a cover of an unreleased Run-DMC song.  Some of my favorite tracks include Fight for your Right (To Party), Paul Revere, No Sleep till Brooklyn, She’s Crafty, Posse in Effect, The New Style, and Hold It Now (Hit It).  Essentially, the whole album is a classic.

Check Your Head
2. Check Your Head (1992) – This, their third album, is amazing.  Whereas Paul’s Boutique (see below) was a more experimental rap album, this one is a grittier version of License to Ill.  This is the album where the Beasties abandoned synthesizers and began playing all their own instruments on every track.  They also started using on this album the “echo voice” effect for which they’ve become known.  The soundscape of this album is just awesome and I love it to death.  Classic tracks include So What’cha Want, Pass the Mic, The Maestro, Jimmy James and Professor Booty.  Just so you know, I think So What’cha Want is probably my favorite Beasties song of all time.  This album was remastered and re-released in 2009.  This re-release added a bonus disc which featured extra tracks like The Skills to Pay the Bills which was the B-side of the So What’cha Want single.

Paul's Boutique
3. Paul’s Boutique (1989) – It may be a bit controversial that Paul’s Boutique is not higher on the list.  This was the B-Boys’ second studio album and the one magazines like Rolling Stone love to pretentiously put as a “greatest album”.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s really good and offers a nice variety of traditional and “experimental” rap.  The singles Hey Ladies and Shake Your Rump are really good as are the tracks The Sounds of Science, High Plains Drifter, B-Boy Bouillabaisse and Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun.  The Beasties were really stretching themselves to try something new on this album, but the important thing is that they didn’t overreach.  An almost perfectly formed experimental rap album.  Perfect parts traditional + experimental rap.

Hello Nasty
4. Hello Nasty (1998) – This is a great album.  The Beasties turn back to the synthesized sound for this record.  Most of the songs sound highly processed like they were run through a computer.  It’s a fun one to listen to and I keep forgetting how much I really do enjoy it.  Songs I like from this album include Super Disco Breakin’, Put Shame in your Game, Unite, Remote Control, Intergalactic and Three MCs and One DJ.

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I listen to one of my old mixtapes from 1996

Posted in music, rap with tags , , , on August 16, 2012 by Paxton

LEB

The assignment for the League this week wants us to talk about mixtapes.  Specifically our own mixtapes.

What songs were forever being looped on your car’s stereo [tape deck] back in high school?

I loved mixtapes.  I made dozens of them over the years.  Mostly for myself, but some for friends and some for “the ladies”.  I would make the mixtape and listen to it on my portable headphones whenever I would go somewhere.  I could be seen bobbing my head while walking along listening, most likely, to my current crop of hardcore rap songs.

My mixtapes usually weren’t random. I tended to theme them by genre. I had rap/hip-hop tapes, Disney soundtrack tapes, oldies/Motown tapes and novelty song tapes (ie Weird Al and Dr Demento). However, most of my tapes back in the day were hardcore rap because that’s what I listened to. And when I labeled the tape, I usually used a lyric from one of the songs on the tape.

Well, as for today’s assignment, I don’t need to recreate a mixtape because I still have a box of my old mixtapes in my basement. So, I just pulled out one of those mixtapes, popped it in my tape player and gave it a listen.

Below is Side 1 of today’s mixtape. I labeled it “I Think You Better Recognize”, but that’s hard to see because the ink has faded over time. That is actually the title of a song by Sam Sneed, but that song for some reason doesn’t appear on this mixtape.  You may be wondering how I know this is from 1996, which the easy answer is that the newest song on the tape is from 1996.  Which may not be entirely correct.  But that was around my last year in college, so that sounds about right for these songs.

So let’s take a look at the song list for Side 1.

Mixtape Side A
1. N-Trance – Stayin’ Alive
2. Run DMC – Rock Box
3. Quad City DJs – C’mon ‘N Ride It (The Train)
4. MC Lyte (feat Xscape) – (Keep On) Keepin’ On
5. DJ Quik (feat AMG, 2nd II None, Hi-C) – Skanless
6. Ice Cube – When Will They Shoot?
7. 2Pac (feat Stretch) – Pain
8. MC Ren – Bitch Made N***a Killa
9. D-Nice – Time to Flow
10. Eazy-E (feat Knocc Out and Dresta) – Real Muthaf’n G’s
11. Coolio (feat WC) – U Know Hoo?
12. Too $hort – Hoes

This first side had a bunch of good songs. I had a lot of fun listening to them again. Surprisingly, I remember nothing about that Coolio song, U Know Hoo? I don’t remember it and I don’t know why it’s on the tape. That’s just odd.  You’ll notice lots of NWA/Ruthless Records influence with Eazy-E, MC Ren, DJ Quik and 2nd II None.  I also always enjoy Bee-Gees influenced rap songs like the #1 track in this list as well as Wyclef Jean’s We Tryin’ to Stay Alive (which I know was on other mixtapes I’ve done).

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