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the overlook hotel autumn writer’s retreat



This is the part where I write a witty ironic blurb plugging the Overlook Hotel as the perfect writer's retreat, and then I don't because it's not that funny, my tooth hurts and I need a cigarette.  So instead I just run a bunch of links for new joints you should cop.

M.O.A.T. [instrumentaliste division] :: Dday One



I don't remember when I first came across DDay One's stuff; I used to spend hours and hours scouring rap blogs for new shit and just hoover it all up.  See, I came up in the record store days with no pockets.  I'd agonize over which records I could afford to buy, and dream about being in an endless record store where they had everything and you could listen to anything.  Hey presto, papi: internet.

I got really into instrumental hip-hop a couple of years ago, and it seems like the '00s were definitely their peak period.  Problem has always been separating the great from the meh. Partially, we got eighty gazillion Japanese DJs putting out so many instrumental jazz-hop LPs you could have a whole website built around nothing but.  Led by the late Nujabes and Fat Jon--to get opinionamated now--this shit mostly sounds the same, goes for the noodly-sounding bullshit, and when it does get a groove on ruins it with pathetic flute loops or weak-ass female vocal hooks.  And the beats?  The beats are weak as fuck.  Some of it is good, no doubt, but it's not head-nodding.

Remember when illbient and trip-hop were actually a thing?  That made it easier, I guess, because the line's really blurred between 'electronic' and 'instrumental hip-hop.'  If I'm on the fence, I listen closely to the beats.  Do they go dit-dit-dit-dit-dit?  Electronic, get the fuck outta here with that.  Do they go boom-bop-bop-boom-bop-bop-boom?  Hip-hop.

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M.O.A.T. [indie MC division] :: C-Rayz Walz



So in Greek mythology, you had the Titans who ruled over the Golden Age.  Cronos was the king Titan, but because he heard this prophecy his kids would overthrow him, he'd eat them as soon as they were born.  This one time his wife gives him a rock instead and raises the kid in secret.  When Zeus grows up he cuts his pop's stomach open and frees his siblings, who all grew up in there with only that baby-Zeus-sized rock to play with.  (That must've pretty much sucked.)  They establish the Olympic pantheon of the Greeks, Romans and all those paintings and sculptures of swan rape and flying sandal wearing naked muhfuckas from your high school art history class.

Where was I going with this?  Uh...shit.  Oh, right: if we cast El-P as the Zeus of the millenial indie-rap pantheon, the best and most overlooked MC from there is C-Rayz Walz.  He's like the Hephaestus of that click, the blacksmith god: he stays underground steady pounding iron and steel.

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the overlook hotel’s famous breakfast buffet



A roundup of recent(ish) bangers.

I can't embed other players up in here, so deal with it.  Not gonna break the list into cute categories like 'eggs to order' or 'bacon tray' because that's stupid.  Also not gonna put 'em up in one big zip file because I keep it legals.

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libyan technique :: ibn thabit



What we're seeing across North Africa and the Middle East is a youth revolution, driven by disenfranchisement and a lack of opportunities.  Hip hop has always been the original soundtrack for that.  It started in the city Ford told to drop dead, and since "The Message" it's been the theme music for angry young people whose rage is against poverty, ghettos and repression--political, racial and economic.  Public Enemy made politics and fist-up rebellion their sound, and the torch's been carried by a handful since then.

Hip hop's been international for years, go get a late pass.  I remember reading about Polish MCs in crumbling Soviet-era projects saying they couldn't understand the words of hip-hop, but the beats and the message still spoke to them.  There are ghettos all over the world, and hip hop is there.  OK, sure, it gets watered down here and over there as party music, gangsta posturing and fake rebellion in fitteds and sagging shorts, but on the real it's what Chuck D (in his Hannah Arendt moment) called 'the CNN of the ghetto,' now more than ever.

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more towels for room 237!



Some shit what's been lighting up my earholes lately.  (Yeah, Shaolin Vs. Wu-Tang is dope, but you knew that, right?) Read the rest of this entry »

live at the overlook :: blueprint



Blueprint is one of those wickedly talented, underrated and undercelebrated cats, just as nice on the mic as on the boards, which is rare indeed.  (RZA, I'm looking in your direction: Please. Stop. Rapping.)  Coming hard off the Greenhouse joints, he's dropped a free sampler for y'all:

In preparation for the release of the new Blueprint Who EP that I will be dropping next week, the upcoming tour w/ Atmosphere, and my upcoming full-length album Adventures in Counter-Culture scheduled for release on Rhymesayers Entertainment later this year, I created this free “Best of Blueprint” mix.  I hope it will serve as a refresher for those who are already familiar with my music, and a good introduction to those who are new to my music. [props to Bloggerhouse]

Get it here.

You can grab a couple more free DLs and breathe deep:

Now you see what I'm talking about?  Get over to Weightless and cop some CDs.

the overlook hotel :: ‘a’ is for…beats?



There's a lot of bitching going on about the internets and music...aside from the business/pirating side, cats complain that the ease of putting stuff out there electronically makes for too much material to sort through. Bitch, please. You want record labels to decide what we should listen to? Radio stations? Bloggers? What what?

Sure, you could spend your whole life listening exclusively to Japanese instrumental hip-hop, or digging through Bandcamp, but that's a whole lot better than being force-fed Rick Ross like a goddamn foie gras goose, ain't it?  Yeah, there’s more out there than anyone could physically listen to, and a lot of it’s garbage, but it gives a voice to anyone who wants to make themselves heard.  And the bigger the digital crates, the more the hidden gems.  As the warrior-poet Ice Cube once said, the bigger the cap, the bigger the peelin'.  So here's some beatmakers who begin with 'A' as a taste.

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prince paul vs. the world



When people rate their '90s producers, I never understood why Pete Rock came close second to Premier and Prince Paul way down the list.  (Not to be confused with this Prince Paul, or this one or this one, though it's typical wacky PP stylee that they all share the same name.)  I mean, Pete Rock's done some great joints, no doubt, but he kinda defined a sound in the way Nathan's defined hot dogs.  It's just a type of frankfurter.

Prince Paul produced a steady string of some of the most creative and groundbreaking LPs before going for the gusto and cutting loose with the best (and only successful) concept records in all hip-hop, and some of the most innovative.  And the funniest.  Not too many actually funny cats in hip hop.  And I mean check the man's credits--Stetsasonic, 3 Feet High & Rising, Gravediggaz, Chubb Rock, Big Daddy Kane, Latifah, 3rd Bass, B.D.P., remixes galore.

Anyways, two of his unreleased LPs have seen the light and coming from his best era, they're slammin':

Resident Alien - It Takes A Nation Of Suckers To Let Us In (1990) [via Bloggerhouse]

Horror City (1995) [via T.R.O.Y.]

And if you don't have Prince Among Thieves, Psychoanalysis or Gold Dust, you should go buy them.  No money?  Paper route, motherfucker, paper route.

close cover before striking



So for some reason I started collecting acoustic covers of hip hop, some amateur and some professional.  Jet from the Overdrone hooked me up with some, and others came from this insightful post over at Cover Laydown.  Then I found the vast trove of Youtube covers.

A lot of people get really pissed off at these; I guess they think they're insulting or mocking.  But it's far too much work to learn to play a song just for a stupid joke.  The literally thousands of covers you can find on YouTube are sincere in their own way; they're not blackface or wiggery, they're covers on the ukelele or $15 Target guitar.  This is not appropriation but, like any good covers, transformation and re-working within the musicians' (sic) genre, instrument and voice.

There are some covers I don't like, like the Ben Folds cover of "Bitches Ain't Shit" or the Obadiah Parker "Hey Ya", and most heavy metal covers.  There's a lack of contrast, or not enough cognitive dissonance, or something, that makes them uninteresting.  Then there's Duran Duran's "911 Is A Joke", which is just...too what-the-fuck.

I know I said last post these are not hip hop, but transforming music into something your own, and feeling it so much you gotta spit it--well, that is hip hop.  Look at the ukelele kid.  Holy shit, that is one un-gangsta motherfucker right there.  I especially love the comments:

Fallenknight155: You Fagget motherfucker why would you disgrace that song it's a rap song not one of your gay club songs. If I ever see you in the streets I'll deck you you in your chin

ChrisWestaway: i am ready to fight you.

But he loves "Bring The Noise" that much...?  That's the power of hip hop.  It makes some cats uncomfortable that kids at North Springfield Middle School know all the words to every song on Liquid Swords, but that didacticism is 20 years out of date and does not dilute hip hop one bit.

I keep thinking about that line in Michael Herr's Dispatches where he says "I saw a platoon [of Marines fighting in Vietnam] done up in Batman fetishes, it gave them a kind of dumb esprit."  There's a dumb gravitas to, say, "Gangsta's Paradise" which becomes a dumb mournful gravitas when it's remade into something off the Liquid Sky soundtrack.  There's a root in the blues in "The Message" which isn't apparent until it's covered as a blues song.  Is there an essential quality to "C.R.E.A.M." that is lost, or retained, when it's covered in the style of John Cougar Mellencamp Unplugged?

Or, you know, not.  I don't know, maybe I've lost my fucking mind.  They are pretty hilarious though.

Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuttin' To Fuck Wit - Joey, In The Dining Nook / Tubas Ain't Nuttin' To Fuck Wit - ThatKidsFine / Acoustic Wu-Medley - Sam The Recordmann / Cash Rules Every Acoustic Melody - Joe Reilly / Bring The Boise - Chris Westaway / Fuck The Police (Karaoke Version) - Joe & Derek / You're Gonna Get Yours - Joel Badeaux / Fight For Your Right (To Party) - S-Word / Gangsta's Paradise - Battery / Straight Outta Compton - Nina Gordon / The Message - Willy Mason / Gin & Juice (Deep Thoughts Mix)