Archive for October, 2008

Prefuse 73 on touring, and… other stuff

Friday, October 17th, 2008 | News | No Comments
Prefuse 73 on touring, and... other stuff

If you’ve ever been somewhere unfamiliar, heard a twisted, futuristic, hyper-produced, soulful blend of hip hop & breaks and wondered what the fuck it was (and maybe where you could get a copy)… chances are it was Prefuse 73 currently on the label – Warp. That’s how I stumbled across them several years ago when my brother had “One Word Extinguisher” on high rotation, and now that new album “Preparations” has been released October 15, I can only wonder what the future holds today.

Hailing from Barcelona, Prefuse is now based in New York (much to his dismay) as so many musicians do, to be within cab fare of many of the artists he works with including Beans, GZA, and Diverse to name a few of my favourites. While Prefuse 73 is a producer, and ‘One Word Extinguisher’ was in the most part, an instrumental album, it featured a smattering on eclectic emcee’s, beatboxers, and varying vocalists, that somehow managed to latch onto the strange and fluctuating emotions carried in this epic ‘masterpiece’ Prefuse had created.

In an interview on www.drownedinsound.com , Scott Herren, a.k.a Prefuse 73, seemed extremely dissillusioned with the industry, and especially touring going as far as to say:

“If it was up to me, I wouldn’t tour at all, and just play one-offs and festivals that seem cool, or shows with my friends that’d be like family reunions.” His eyes roll, fingers clench; he’s visibly distressed at the prospect of his upcoming US dates. “Playing night after night, senseless shows in the US in the middle of Bumfuck Nowhere with five people in the audience… to sell three more records? What’s the point? Get in your car, drive to the next biggest city. I only asked to play five shows this time in the US. I’ve ended up with 30. After here I tour the US straight away, and from there it’s Japan and Australia… and I have a son to take care of. His mother’s in a band too, on tour with Blonde Redhead, so things are getting tight. Nobody’s listening to me though, and someone needs to listen to me before I put my foot down and cancel shows. I don’t want to do that, but does anyone in the office want to take care of my kid for a month? Of course not. It’s not their responsibility, but it’s definitely mine, and I want to be a good father. I am way more concerned with my son than being a musician and putting out a good record.”

Prefuse 73 w. School of Seven Bells – The Class of 73 Bells

“I do insist on good hotels. That’s my one rock star bad habit. I tour for no money – I usually go on tour to comply with Warp’s wishes, and to make them happy, and to promote the record and make fans happy – but I don’t want to be in any shitholes. Put me in a bling hotel, and I’m gonna be happy. I want to wake up and feel good in the morning, ‘cause you can feel shit on tour. For me that’s worth it. People are like, ‘Yo man, that’s stupid – you’re not gonna come home with any money’. But I don’t want to make money this way – I don’t want to make money as an entertainer. I am a musician, and a producer – I’m not a clown, and if I tour it’s because someone asked me to, not ‘cause I have to go tour.

From the music I have enjoyed by Prefuse 73 over the years, and the awesome reports I have heard of his live shows (with instrumentation as opposed to DJ sets), I’m confident this album is worth checking out, and will most probably get plenty of play in my car and over dinner as ‘One Word Extinguisher’ did at my pad.

From my experience in the music industry working with artists, musicians, and on tours however… his outlook on the relationship between releasing music and touring is so far out of whack with any logic, especially given his constant references to earning money to raise his child being a priority, that it could just be that this eccentric dude is as crazy as his beats.

either way… check it out for sure:

www.myspace.com/prefusion1973

www.prefuse73.com

…bs

and thanks to www.drownedinsound.com for an interesting interview.

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The Pharcyde to rock Good Vibrations in 2009

Thursday, October 16th, 2008 | News | No Comments
The Pharcyde to rock Good Vibrations in 2009

Earlier this year, hip hop history was made when pioneering West Coast crew, The Pharcyde, were to reunite for the Rock The Bells hip hop tour across the States; fans were to be treated to live performances from the four original members, who hadn’t performed together for 10 years. Now, as far as I was concerned, this was a pretty big deal. I mean, for me there are certain artists and groups that you dream of seeing in your lifetime, A Tribe Called Quest or the original Wu-Tang lineup would be a couple just off the top of my head, and The Pharcyde are another. Imagine my delight then, when the Good Vibrations promoters announced this past weekend that The Pharcyde would be joining the festival’s tour across Australia next February!

Yes, that’s right, next year you will be able to catch Fatlip, Imani, Bootie Brown and Tre (SlimKid3) Hardson on stage together, belting out hip hop classics such as “Runnin”, “Drop” and “Passin Me By”. Provided you are in Australia, that is. And if you’re not, GET HERE! Best known for their album “Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde”, the group are immortalised as hip hop legends and clearly had a major effect on a new generation of artists who were uncomfortable with the gangsta rap angle that was popular at the time. Once described by Rolling Stone as a “pack of class clowns set loose in the studio”, their wacky story-telling rhymes and comedic lyrics brought an alternative hip hop flavour to the table, and has obviously influenced the likes of Jurassic 5, De La Soul and Del The Funky Homosapien.

Check out the dope video for “Drop” above

Joining The Pharcyde on the Good Vibrations tour is another legendary hip hop crew in The Roots. No strangers to Australia, the world’s best hip hop band always impress with their tight live shows and huge back-catalogue of classic tracks. Expect to hear some new material as well, with their latest album, “Rising Down”, having been released earlier this year. Also touring is up-and-comer Wale, who you may have in fact heard on “Rising Down”, or his Seinfeld-inspired mixtape, “The Mixtape About Nothing”; definitely an artist to watch. Many more acts are sure to be announced, and with Good Vibrations consistently having the highest quality headlining acts (last year; Kanye, Cypress Hill and Pharoahe Monch, the previous year; Snoop Dogg, The Beastie Boys and Jurassic 5) you’d be wise to get your tickets and travel plans sorted now.


Good Vibrations Festival 2009 tour dates:
Sat Feb 14 – Sydney, Centennial Park
Sun Feb 15 – Melbourne, The Nursery – Flemington Racecourse
Sat Feb 21 – Gold Coast, Parklands Showgrounds
Sun Feb 22 – Perth, Heirisson Island

To check out more info look at these sites:

The Pharcyde Fansite

The Pharcyde at MySpace

Fat Lip & Slim kid 3

…cracked

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More Than A Trillion

Monday, October 13th, 2008 | Interviews | 1 Comment
More Than A Trillion

VG: Today we chat with Jody Lloyd, the New Zealand musician behind the project Trillion: To start I thought I’d get you to tell us a about yourself, what you’re currently doing and your history in the music business, etc…

JL: Well, I started rapping kind of seriously in 1990, when I was 18. I recorded a few tracks in a studio. A year or so later I won a rap competition (performance, not a battle) and 6 months later (1993) teamed up with co-creator/rapper and friend Eli Foley to form the duo Dark Tower. Our first gigs used instrumental versions of American rap stuff as backing. Then I purchased a sampler, so I could build my own unique music. I had no musical experience, but come from a musical family, my dad was/is a folk musician. About the same time I got the sampler, Mark Duff moved into my flat. He was a keyboard wizard and also knew a lot about recording on computers, which at the time was a fairly new way of working. After we acquired a grant, Mark guided the recording of our first EP ‘Real Zealmen’. And Andrew from Salmonella Dub helped us release it. The EP would become the first rap release from the South Island of NZ. and the hit from it, Zealman, would acquire a cult following, and also be picked up by the NZ high school English curriculum and studied as a modern example of NZ language in music.

I made a second CD which had collaborations between me and a selection of Christchurch singers and musicians. It got picked up by Universal Music and I became the first NZ artist to sign a licensing agreement with them. I would later be ditched by them, but at the time I thought this was my big break. She’ll Be Right Records began as the label which licensed the music to Universal, and when the relationship expired I continued the label as an independent in 2002. Firstly releasing my own Trillion albums, then expanding it to include other acts. Currently (Oct 2008) we are up to the 25th release (18 of which were produced by myself) with roughly 15 active acts involved. last year we had a 10 year She’ll Be Right Records anniversary tour which involved nearly everyone ever released by the label. It was a really good time.


What were some of your main musical influences growing up?

As a young child I was really in love with my parents Beatles records. I used to listen to them over and over. I wanted to be in The Beatles. then at about aged ten, my interest turned to The Beach Boys. After that I began listening to things like Terence Trent D’Arby and INXS… From there I discovered break dance music. At 14 I went to the U.K with my dad and bought a tape: Beat Street Soundtrack, and a 7″ record: Wipeout by Fat Boys. That track changed my life. The Beastie Boys were all over the news when I was in London. I didn’t get their LP till I got back to NZ. So, Fat Boys taught me I could sample the music I liked and put it with the beats I liked. Beastie Boys taught me it was okay for white guys to do rap. And Upper Hutt Posse told me that I could do it in NZ. When I was about 17 I got really into post-war blues. But one of my strongest influences I didn’t realise for a long long time; my dad. I grew up around his music, he played acoustic guitar, harmonica and various whistles. This “folky”, “acousticy”, natural feel comes through in most of my production.


I first heard of you in the nineties when you were part of kiwi hip-hop group “Dark Tower”, who had a uniquely “kiwi” style in a time when most people were copying American rappers. Do you see yourself as someone who defines the NZ identity through your music?

We never set out to represent the ‘NZ identity’ or be cultural ambassadors. Our angle was purely to try and be us in our music, the best we could do. Incidentally… and sadly, most NZ rappers are still copying American rappers. It’s a disease.

I’ve seen some of the work you have done to draw attention to “serious” issues, like genetic-engineering and Aspartame for example. When you approach your music do you firstly think about what message you want to communicate, or how it will sound to an audience?

Music is possibly one of the strongest ways of communication, everyone likes music, and listens to it. So it becomes a good vehicle for sending out a message. When undertaking a ‘message’ song. I don’t think of who my audience will be, I just make the song as good and as accurate as I can. Although I have become aware of Internet searches, so now when I write a song that I want people to know about or learn something from, I make sure the key words that people will search for are in the title.

You obviously wear many hats in your role as engineer, producer, songwriter and lyricist. Do you see yourself more as an MC/vocalist, an arranger/composer or some kind of harmonious mixture of both sides of the coin?

Music for me is a therapy as much as it is something i want to make a living from. I don’t really see myself as an emcee even tho I rap. I don’t rap to be the best or to puff up my chest. I rap ’cause I like the exploration of language and rhythm and rhyme. And also it’s a way of telling people my thoughts and ideas without actually talking to them. Call me a rapping producer.


Can a jack of all trades, still be a master of some?

Ha ha, a jack of all trades can master them all. I spend a lot of time in every aspect in the creation of an album, right down to the cover artwork. I think it’s healthy to keep changing hats. each process brings something different to the next. As long as I have a built in quality control mechanism, i believe i can be a master of them all. That doesn’t mean I want to battle you on the mic by the way. Battle MC isn’t in my list of trades!

Which is your favourite part of the music making process?

It’s a good feeling nailing a tight rap verse in the studio in one take. I really like constructing music, or finding a primo sample or a weird record that no one will ever know about. It’s also pretty great to hear what other musician can add to a track. sometimes all it takes is an acoustic guitar strum, or a little lick for a track to come alive. I’ve had the privilege to work with some of the best musicians in NZ. Also it’s a real buzz hearing a song which I’ve constructed in a studio, being played out by my band, and then performing it…  listening to a really nice finished track over and over and over and over can be nice and hypnotising.


The latest Trillion album Silent Invisible came out earlier this year, how would you describe the album?

I would describe it as; a masterpiece, a concept, a journey. Masterpiece, not in an arrogant way. I spent a lot of time on it, and invited the best musicians I knew to play on it. It took me 3 years and everything is in it’s right place. The lyrics are probably the best work of my life ever. Concept, it combines a spoken word element which runs through it, and almost all tracks lead into each other. Journey, it tells a story, basically of a guy finding himself but in the setting of the New World Order. It tackles the issue of loneliness and it’s counter balance; aloneness. Thematically it covers political and social issues, relationships and personal discovery.

You recently relocated across the Tasman Sea, how are you finding living in Melbourne?

Melbourne is great, the best move of my life. I should have come here a long time ago. But if I had, I probably wouldn’t have fallen into such a deep hole that inspired the creation my masterpiece SILENTinvisible. Melbourne is full of artists, musicians and venues. Not such a great position to make a living from music, as there is so much stuff going on. But most of the people I meet, especially in hip hop, are really supportive and interested, whereas in NZ I feel like a tall poppy that they want to cut down. Hip hop scene here is really interesting and diverse too. Imagine a ragtime/gypsy band with a rapper.

What are the main projects and ideas are you focusing on for the future?

I’m just organising gigs in Melbourne for Jim Christy, a 63 year old poet from Canada who I produced an album for. it’s called God’s Little Angle. go find it, it’s really good. I’m also performing a bit around Melbourne with Eneti Waretini, and also playing lagerphone, political puppet show and raps in Pataphysics. Also I also met my super best friend about 6 months ago in Melbourne. Super best friend is like a girlfriend but way better cos you do lots of other stuff together, like making things, music, art and films. I’ve almost finished an album inspired by her. It explores areas which I haven’t been to before, in production and lyrical content. My last album is a bit sad, there’s so much war and hate in the world, I thought it’d be nice to make a whole about LOVE to try and balance out the world a bit. It’s called Loops Of Love. Should be out this summer, hopefully through an Australian label. I’ve also recently bought a video camera, so will soon be making all sorts of filmy things; for gig projections, for music videos and doco’s and live performance recordings for music and theatre stuff.

Find out more about Jody’s Past, Present and Future at:

www.trillion.co.nz

Includes the FREE Downable “Garage Sale EP”
for your listening pleasure!

Photobucket

the GARAGE SALE (EP): is a bit of a mish-mash of tracks that are a bit humourous and topically too unrelated to fit into the SILENTinvisible or Loops of Love LP’s. Popping Bubbles is taken from the Rusty Springs EP by The Incredible Braking Wheel (2007), and Cold Touch of Dawn is a live version of a track on SILENTinvisible recorded live in Sept 2008 in Christchurch. The EP also contains a small montage of music from Loops of Love. ENJOY IT – It’s free! (any donations welcome)

“When you walk in the forest – let it go
when you climb up a hill – let it go
there’s a war in the world
you’re a flower turn and curled
heart and mind work best unfurled
let it go.”

(Let It Go- Trillion)

Queries By …Yossarian

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Death of a Muse – a tribute to J Dilla

Sunday, October 12th, 2008 | News | 1 Comment
Death of a Muse - a tribute to J Dilla

J Dilla may have already passed from this world, it appears however, that it will take some time before his impact on the musical community leaves us. Inspired by ‘LA Weekly’s’ interview with J Dilla’s mum (a.k.a. Ma Dukes) following his passing, Solillaquists of Sound, on ANTI-/Epitaph Records, have decided to return to his mother, a token of the impact J had on so many during his short life.

For those of you who don’t recognise him by name, it is not uncommon, but perhaps you may know him from Slum Village, or perhaps some of the tracks that he has made with repeat collaborators Common, Erykah Badu, Busta Rhymes, The Roots, Hi-Tek, Kanye West, Madlib, Pete Rock, Talib Kweli, ?uestlove, D’angelo, The Pharcyde, QTip, De La Soul, Janet Jackson and A Tribe Called Quest just to name a few. Honestly, while familiar with some of his work, until researching for this article, I had no idea what an impact J Dilla has had on my life throughout his career.

The song “Death of a Muse” which features J-Live, Chali-2na and Ma Dukes herself, has been posted online for a minimum donation of $2 for anyone wanting to support Ma Dukes current situation, brought about by the illness and surrounding hardships of her late son. As well as losing her son, Ma Dukes was left with serious hospital bills, and even lost her house during the time that she took care of J, in his final stages. This honourable gesture will see 100% of proceeds go to Ma Dukes, and hopefully alleviate some of the emotional as well as financial stresses that have since seen her health decline also.

www.insound.com/madukesdonation

Having heard of this plight at www.okayplayer.com , I was compelled to show my support by downloading this track. Having heard the song, I was compelled to run and get my credit card, and post this message to anyone who was a fan of J Dilla, or even just a fan of community and humanity. Let’s not forget also in amongst the circumstances that brought the track into existence, that ‘Death of a Muse’, is also just a really great track.

J Dilla – Won’t Do

DiViNCi, of Solillaquists of Sound told Sean Kantrowitz at www.okayplayer.com “We’re honored to be helping Ms. Yancey. She’s the type of person that makes you proud to be a human being. Despite all that she’s been through, she’s a rock of unwavering strength, faith, and humility. That gives us all the more reason to do our part to see that she receives everything she deserves.”

If you would like to hear or download this track and support the cause, go to:

www.insound.com/madukesdonation

Or to check out more from J Dilla, Check out:

www.myspace.com/jdilla

www.stonesthrow.com/jdilla

and finally, if you have a true appreciation of lyrically conscious Hip Hop, be prepared to be amazed by his discography at:

www.wikipedia.org/wiki/J_Dilla

…bs

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Yaheard? Blackalicious – Blazing Arrow

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008 | News | 1 Comment
Yaheard? Blackalicious - Blazing Arrow

If you’ve managed to get to one of the Parklife events currently being held across Australia, then you’d have been lucky enough to witness one of the most legendary underground hip hop crews going round. I’m talking about Blackalicious, Bay Area residents, alongside the likes of Jurassic 5, Lyrics Born and Dilated Peoples, and purveyors of some of the finest hip hop I’ve had the pleasure of listening to. If you’re like me and loathe the way hip hop has slowly imploded on itself over recent years, then you can take heart from the fact that albums like ‘Blazing Arrow’ exist. Timeless, and near flawless are two things that first come to mind. People Under The Stairs got it right with their ‘musical dope’ sample; ‘Blazing Arrow’ is my musical dope, and I get just as high hearing it now as I did when I bought it back in 2002.

The second full-length album from Gift of Gab and Chief Excel, ‘Blazing Arrow’ is an amazing collection of songs that push boundaries, provoke thought, and more often than not, get your head nodding. Blackalicious are part of the ever-diminishing pack of artists that are staying true to their roots, something that is apparent on every track of the album. Featuring a diverse array of guests such as Ben Harper, Chali 2na, Zach De La Rocha, and Gil Scott-Heron, as well as production assistance from Cut Chemist, ?uestlove and DJ Shadow, it is much more a musical journey than an album.

The first five tracks of the album alone will blow you away; you will be listening wondering how it could possibly get any better, only to be struck down by the following track. And the one after that. If I had to write this review in one sentence it would be simply: Good tracks – all of them, bad tracks – none enough said. From the funky organ-laced intro, into the bouncy-bass line of the title track, with its flute and horn-laden chorus and awesome Harry Nilsson sample from “Me and My Arrow”, to the intense chanting hook on “Sky is Falling”; you don’t know what to expect next! What you get is the smooth groove of “First in Flight”, where Gil Scott Heron steps in and blends beautifully with Gift of Gab, his soulful crooning proving he only gets better with age. Chali 2na and Lateef lend a hand on “4000 Miles”, a happy head-nodder that takes the listener on “a journey through music”; Chali 2na bringing his usual imposing bass-packed game (probably the best track he’s featured on, next to Roots Manuva’s “Join the Dots”), and Lateef kills it with his wandering party rhymes.

One of the major standouts is the furious “Chemical Calistenics”, where Cut Chemist steps in and throws everything at Gab, only to have it thrown back twice as hard. The two battle it out with beats and rhymes, with Gab spitting some incredibly complex lines incorporating the periodic table, really demonstrating his talent on the mic with the ability to change it up mid song and match his flow to the beat perfectly. “Make You Feel That Way” is another really strong track, a dreamy feel-good track with a haunting trumpet sample segregate Gab’s nostalgic verses that touch on all things that “make you feel that way:

“How you felt when you first heard the Daddy Kane,
Rakim, KRS, hey I had that tape,
Cooling out with ol’ girl on a phat ass date,
Find a hundred dollar bill, wow man that’s great,
Get promoted at your job up to management,
Plot a long time finally your plan has made it,
Time I feel I wanna shout, man its real that way,
When I think of things that make you feel that way”
“Nowhere Fast” is solid with ?uestlove’s cracking drumbeat, Chief Xcel’s cutting and Gift of Gab’s devastating rhymes tearing up the track, and the Ben Harper feature “Brain Washers” is not-so-surprisingly good also. Really though, I could sit here and tell you about each individual track; “Paragraph President” and “Aural Pleasure”, featuring the funky and soulful Jaguar Wright on the hook, are must listen tracks for sure also.

Gift of Gab is a bit of a ballsy name to call yourself really, when you think about it. But if anything, this is an understatement in this case; Gab is so fresh, creative, deep and profound in his rhymes, he is easily one of the most skilled and technically refined rappers you’ll ever hear. On a technical level, his flow is smooth as silk, his wordplay is intricate without going over your head, and his command and delivery are excellent, he effortlessly changes up his rap style depending on the song’s concept. And his combination with Chief Xcel is something special, the diverse production styles across the album really do take you on a journey, with little segues between many of the tracks that keep the album flowing brilliantly, such as the trademark DJ Shadow breakdown after the De La Soul inspired “Paragraph President”. He creates a cohesive sound that’s organic as well as progressive, lush and atmospheric, and the assistance he receives from outside producers can only be described as touches of genius. Yes, it’s safe to say the production is almost as brilliant as the rapping.

I’m happy to call this one of the most inspiring hip hop albums I’ve ever heard, it was released at a time when I was searching for exactly what it offers, and it has subsequently shaped my hip hop tastes since; another fine example of hip hop being made for the right reasons. I would recommend ‘Blazing Arrow’ to people that aren’t usually hip-hop fans, to those that still think hip hop is all about bling, bitches, and gangsterism; this album will go some way to clearing that misconception for sure. Full of soulful grooves, liquid beats and thoughtful lyrics, ‘Blazing Arrow’s’ well-delivered fusion of melodic funk, jazz and hip hop creates one of the richest, most captivating albums ever released.

If you are lucky enough to be in Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch, then you can still catch Blacklicious in October touring with Gift of Gab’s new side project, The Mighty Underdogs. Always one to rock the party, Gift of Gab is sure to put on a performance that is not to be missed, so get your tickets now! Check out the dates below
9th Oct – Auckland at Fu
10th Oct – Wellington at San Fran Bath House
11th Oct – Christchurch at the Civic

You can hear more of Blackalicious at

www.myspace.com/blackalicious

…cracked

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