When a hip-hop head ponders the history of hip-hop in the NorthEast, you won’t have to look far before encountering Boston heavy hitter Slaine. Whether his group work with Special Teamz or La Coka Nostra (watch for a new album soon) or his solo work, he’s consistently towed the line of painful subjects and aggresive partying for decades. Still verbally murdering the competition while capturing a fun but taxing period of his life, Slaine dropped his latest effort, ‘The King Of Everything Else’ this week. Inspired by a pep talk with a close friend at a low point, he brings artists like Ill Bill, Madchild, Tech N9ne, Apathy and Bishop Lamont to assist. With many layers and facets, he still also juggles music with a thriving acting career.
Following on from last week, can bad songs come from great albums? This is a much trickier question to answer. On any album, good or bad, there will always be weaker songs and stronger songs. The weaker ones may not be “bad” per se, and may only be weaker in comparison with other songs on the album in that they might be regarded as good songs if they were on another album. In this instance, “weaker” is a subjective term whereas “bad” is an objective one. In some cases, ‘weaker’ may also be seen as another term for filler and if a band has to put filler in album to make it long enough, then that suggests there is not enough decent material, so how could it be a great album? Looking through the list of albums that I regard as five star albums, I cannot identify a “bad” song on any of them and certainly no filler.
Entering that final bend and onto the home strait.
To any passionate fan, it’s obvious random “digging in the crates” online can yield unbelievable finds. Will remain ever grateful to the universe for bringing me to the music of producer/master musician/composer Mark de Clive-Lowe. Drawn into his expansive discography via his dope ‘Renegades’ project and witness to his live show experiences which attract some of the best musicians around, I connected with Mark last year as he prepared his latest statement album, ‘CHURCH’. Since its release in late May, my ears daily enjoy the full sound explosion of jazz, electronica, African beats and soul and hear something new with each listen.
As we head towards the end of summer days and folks savor each vacation moment possible, I was busy breaking into a “cold sweat” at last night’s James Brown Celebration at the Hollywood Bowl. Timed well with the recent release of the Godfather of Soul’s biopic in theatres last week, the diverse crowd settled in to ‘let the funk flow’. After a brief intro by three-time Grammy winner Christian McBride, the house band full of legendary musicians including JB trombonist Fred Wesley supported the lineup featuring Bettye LaVette, Aloe Blacc, Angelique Kidjo and D’Angelo.
Do great songs always come from great albums? Not always, would have to be my reply. Obviously great albums tend to have great songs, though some so called great albums would not get my vote as such. But there are number of tracks on this list which come from albums which I despise (though others may think they are great); and some from albums which it would be hard to define as great by anybody’s standards. It would appear that some artists, in an otherwise routine and unremarkable career, have that one moment of inspiration which results in something truly great and, no matter how hard they try, they are going to find it hard to repeat. Such songs can still be called ‘great’
Closer to the apotheosis we come with the next twenty.
Repping for a generation of music lovers, equally comfortable listening to Seether and Three Days Grace as they are Tech N9ne and Eminem, AZ artist Cryptic Wisdom returns this week with his latest album ‘X’s and O’z’. Melding hip-hop spitting with rock singing for years, he honestly reveals personal pain, struggles and consequences of previous bad choices. Going from “talking to himself” as the “man in the mirror” to striking a cord with fans around the world, he’s authentic to the core.
The teens keep rolling on, and the half way point is just about here.
It’s been a good decade for music, but all decades have high points. There are standout albums up to this point. The best of them are filled with strong cuts.
Vampire Weekend-Contra (2010)
Wild Flag-Wild Flag (2011)
Frank Ocean-Channel Orange (2012)
Parquet Courts-Light Up Gold (2012)
Taylor Swift-Red (2012)
I didn’t include anything from 2013. This doesn’t mean the Savages couldn’t crack the top 10 by the end of the decade. Maybe my tastes could change, as well. A shuffling of the order is always a possibility.
It’s not a case of debut albums can’t be in the list, since Wild Flag resides at No. 2. There have been high level recordings from various styles.
My heart sags, since there isn’t any jazz to highlight at this point. Maybe a compilation could make the top 10. There’s no heavy metal represented here.
Converge could list of top cuts for the decade, but probably not. Post punk is about as hard rocking as I can get excited about it. But there is Tomahawk…
Swift is about as pop as I can get in the enthusiasm department for this article. Quadron does give me hope for the upcoming years. Maybe there’s some great EPs or YouTube releases for me to discover in the mean time.
Now this list cannot claim to have any originality in its concept. Several organisations have produced their own lists. Of Rolling Stone’s top 500 songs as chosen by their staff, 132 of them are on my list. British newspaper the Guardian ran a list of 1000 songs, chosen by music critics and 98 are on my list. UK radio station XFM also made a list of 1000 songs chosen by fans, DJ’s and “experts” (that makes me nervous from the start). 138 of their songs are on my list. What does this say about me (or them)? And why would there be a minority of songs on my list on theirs? Well, Rolling Stone has, not surprisingly, a preponderance of American music, so that might offer some explanation. XFM is the radio station for what I have previously derided as “Mainstream Indie” and any list which has “Mr Brightside” by the Killers as its number one is of dubious taste anyway. As for the Guardian, well it is often too hip for its own good and, frankly, I am less interested in the atonal musical output of some Kazakhstani Anarcho-Syndicalist collective of vegan transvestites than that terminally politically-correct newspaper would be.
Anyway, enough criticism of my competitors. On with the list, the definitive list
When a music connoisseur mentions the words “DJ Muggs”, several things come to mind. One of the best hip-hop producers of all-time? One of the best producers of all-time, period? That guy from Queens behind all your favorite Cypress Hill classics (he’s working on the next album right now) and the unforgettable House of Pain’s “Jump Around”? The guy who’s collaborated with U2 and Depeche Mode and just recently released an EP this week called ‘Vita E Morte’ with a new multimedia collective featuring Andrew Kline, Brevi, and Sean Bonner named Cross My Heart Hope to Die (CMHHTD)? Yeah, that dude.