URB VOL .18 NO.156 NOV/DEC 2008
MY F1RST ISSUE
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Destiny awaits you…
DECEMBER 4TH, 2008 WWW.PRINCEOFPERSIAGAME.COM
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A New Hero Emerges—Master the elite, acrobatic fighting style of history’s most agile warrior. Alcohol Reference Mild Language Mild Suggestive Themes Violence
An Epic, Open World—Your choices determine just how the story evolves.
A Deadly New Ally—Your partner, Elika,
is your greatest weapon against the darkness.
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DJ’S ARE SO OVERRATED.
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Introducing the all-new TRAKTOR SCRATCH PRO and TRAKTOR PRO. Enjoy movies with Richie Hawtin and Grandmaster Flash discussing everything from gigs to kites and rockets at listentopro.com. And while you’re there, check out the new TRAKTOR SCRATCH PRO, which combines digital DJing with unprecedented tightness and true vinyl feel. And TRAKTOR PRO, well, it further sets the professional standard when it comes to all digital DJing. Whether you DJ with turntables or a controller, TRAKTOR products are your ultimate weapon. So what are you waiting for, visit listentopro.com.
11/2/08 8:10:56 AM
www.ars-berlin.com Photo: Peter Poby UR156_Native.indd 5
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November/December 2008 Issue: One Fifty Six
MY FIRST ISSUE HEALTH :: 46 Examining the bizarre frequencies of Vegenaise with LA rockers DAMON ALBARN & JAMIE HEWITT :: 50 Trade their Gorillaz masks for a new simian EVIDENCE :: 54 At the scene of the crime with the Dilated People DEADMAU5 :: 58 Meet dance music’s new big cheese 88-KEYS :: 62 How a producer got a message from God to rhyme about the vaj-jay-jay
MY FIRST ISSUE :: 66 Kool Keith’s first strip club James Murphy’s first band Elliot Lipp’s first sampler Kid Acne’s first bad trip Mr. Lif ’s first time voting Marnie Stern’s first guitar Cold War Kids’ first favorite book Crooked-I’s first punch Slug’s first cover Luckyiam’s first time drinking breast milk as an adult Prodigy’s first moment of clarity Charles Hamilton’s first battle Nina Sky’s many firsts ...and many more.
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DIATRIBE : 16 Letter from the editor, Brandon Perkins DIATRIBE : 18 Letter from the publisher, Raymond Leon Roker OUR TRIBE : 20 The extended family URB.com : 22 Binary bites back
24 Busy P and Bloody Beetroots party with WeSC 26 Events: Decon CMJ Bash, LA Fashion Week + more 28 jeffstaple 1-2-1 with Marc Ecko 30 Video director Timothy Sanccenti 32 Eddie Cruz’s 5 Senses Gift Guide 34 Mad Decent visual artist D-128 36 Kingston spitfire Terry Lynn 39 Sail away with Layertta 41 Illa J steps outside his brother’s shadow 42 Sinischi Osawa’s electro heart 43 Little Boots disco fever 45 Home alone with Michna
LEAD REVIEW 83 Q-Tip f inally gets deshelved CD REVIEWS 84 Black Milk, Deerhunter, Kid Sister, Madlib, Shiny Toy Guns, Tommie Sunshine + more SINGLES 88 Cam’ron, Le Le, Crystal Stilts, The Gray Kid DVDs 90 Al Green live, Flaming Lip’s Christmas special
BACK IN THE DAY 96 Rewinds with Evidence | 12 |
photo: Phil Knott
INSTUDIO 92 Guitar magic with Bloc Party, studio shifting with People Under the Stairs
11/14/08 10:59:04 AM
PRESIDENT + Creative director Raymond Leon Roker Editor + Content Director Joshua Glazer senior Editor Brandon Perkins Creative Direction By Aerosyn-Lex Mestrovic David Genlser The KDU www.thekdu.com MARKET Editor Jolie Nguyen CONTRIBUTING Editor Michael Vazquez PRooFREADER Chris Martins ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) Muchas Props
Phonics Jen Boyles, Andrew Cohn, Timothy Cooper, Eddie Cruz, Alex “Dweezy” Dwyer, Daiana Feuer, Paul Glanting, Lindsey Evan Holiday, jeffstaple, William E Ketchum III, Som Khamsaysoury, Noah Levine, Lauren Mooney, Jason Newman, Chris Pacifico, Thomas Quinlan, Jorge Rodriguez, Ryan Rodriguez, Karen Ruttner, Dennis Sebayan, Khalid Strickland, Justin Strout, Terrence Teh, Ben Zoltowski Images Pete Ambrose, Kristin Burns, Curran Clark, Danny Clinch, Maud Constantin, Fernando Decillis, Magomed Dovjenko, Lionel Deluy, Pixie Felton, Clay Gardner, Sam Gezari, Ben Harris, Zak Hawthorne, Phil Knott, Andreas Larsson, Derori Gila Loral, Peter Dean Rickards, Jana Taylor, Eric Vogel, Matt Wignall Advertising + Marketing 323.315.1701 ( email@example.com ) publisher Raymond Leon Roker Media Sales + Business Development Nathalie Ramirez ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) Midwest sales Michael Sanders, Graffiti Group ( email@example.com ) interactive SALES Blackrock Digital ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) MEDIA SALES & EVENTS COORDINATOR anthony Asencio ( email@example.com ) URB.COM Web DEVELOPMENT BKWLD ( bkwld.com )
Since Day One: Moms (and Dixie) Recognition: Doris Payer, Trevor Seamon, Dana Meyerson, Paul Tollett, Phil Blaine, Bill Fold, Stacy Vee, Skip Paige, Megan Newcome, Spencer Chow, Kate Prichard, brothers from other mothers, Alex Greenberg, Katherine Frazier, Heathcliff Berru, Brock Korsan, Angela Gee @ US Concepts, The KDU, jeffstaple, Ryan at Imprint, Theresa and Mai at Tease, Anomaly Agency, Karma at Red Bull, Joey at Taste NY, Karrie at Cielo, Kyle and Kurt at Guitar Center, Vidette at Flynt, New York City, Peter, Jason and Alma @ Decon, Amish, Leonard and Doug @ Ripe Digital, Weezy F Baby, Sean Patrick, Robert & Paula Glazer, Peter & Anna Maria Payer, Scott & Carol Perkins, Abudullah Ahmad, Sam Spiegel, Posso the DJ, Matt Goldman, Gracie Liu, C-Town, Alexis Florio, Anne Lee, Dirty Dave, Sarah Doo-Wop, Eddie Cruz, Khairi Mdnor, Ryan Babenzien, Gee Roberson
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URB is a conversation about music, ideas and culture. Our aim is to celebrate a tribal past while embracing our techno future. This is a manifesto of (our) music and life. It’s like that so say it loud. . .Pillage the future before it exploits you, homeboy. Word is always bond.
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Big Kid INTERNS: Pat “Mayo” Carroll, Roella Caparas, Michelle Centeno, Christina Chiavoni, Arturo Covarrubias, Norman “Top Bananas” Foote II, Jason Kordich, Lester Lawenko, Elizabeth Lopez, Ben Meredith, Lysette Simmons, Kristen Tambara, David Valdez, Dan Vidal FOUNDERS Raymond Leon Roker + Mark Bankins
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cover photography by : Eric Vogel www.ericvogelphoto.com styling : Paloma www.hellastyle.com retouching : Amari Lyn www.amarilynstudio.com
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14 | URB.com
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photograph by Lana Burrows
raymond leon roker: my first blog Right now, like I’ve increasingly been doing most nights, I’m sitting on the sofa splitting my attention between the TV and the keyboarding, pounding out thoughts into pureroker.blogspot.com. The television viewing is a lifelong habit, but my first blog is a totally new addiction. Though tonight, I’m not just sending another stream of sharptongued opinion into the vastness of the Internuts like I’ve been for the last year or so. I’m sitting here writing about blogging, and it isn’t easy. Since the early days of this magazine, I’ve typed out Op-Ed pieces, known as Diatribes. My pieces would typically go through several rounds of copyediting and proofing, re-writes, second-guessing and various fine-tuning. I’d watch my words get laid out (if I wasn’t laying out the issue myself), only to then wait about two weeks before it came back from the printer permanently affixed to paper in ink. As soon as the magazine was off to press, I’d want to change a word or two, knowing that it would be at least a month before I’d get the chance to pick up the conversation again. For my entire media career, all I’ve known is the methodical plodding of good writing and the slow bake process of printed media. Then, earlier this year, everything changed. I was invited to share my thoughts on the mega influential Huffington Post, a left-leaning news and pop culture site run by political socialite Arianna Huffington. Up until then, my voice had been largely relegated to the niche publication you’re holding. Suddenly I was being asked to go public in front of the HuffPo’s several million visitors a month. This virtual leap marked my departure from the confines of the tried and true URB audience and took me public. I would now be shown what I already knew: I needed to expand my voice beyond the pages of my beloved rag. Writing for a major blog was a natural evolution.
Blogging is now where I do 99% of my philosophical waxing. A few months ago, I decided to refine my audience and start my own site called pure/ROKER (http://pureroker. blogspot.com/). It feels like another natural progression after enjoying the printed stage for so many years. Though, at times, it can be like an echo chamber, where you’re not quite sure if there’s anybody out there. Your site’s traffic numbers (http://www.google.com/analytics/) can go from exciting to depressing in the course of one week—or a day. And it’s hard to know what posts will elicit a response. Launched over Labor Day weekend, the site is my continuing journalism and media education plus POV launching pad...all in one. Or, simply, it’s a damn fine digital soapbox. Two-way communication is probably the most gratifying part of having a personal blog. Comments, praise, criticism, direct feedback and return links are the signs of life you crave. But beware. The ease of the medium can goad you into constantly running your mouth like some non-stop Twitter feed. The only limiting factor is your stamina for writing—which in my case has seen me develop into an almost daily poster, either on my Facebook page, the HuffPo or my blog. Oftentimes the most important discipline is knowing when not to say something. It may be cliché to say, but there has never been an easier time to start a personal blog. I’m the perfect example. Taking the plunge has helped me even better understand the Web, social media and the technology that’s engulfing and empowering my business. It turns out that there was plenty I didn’t know, so every day is a new discovery along the information superhighway’s learning curve. The plug-and-play software and ready-set-blog sites that are available make it as simple as registering a catchy name. I use Google’s Blogger and I’m very happy with it. (I sat befuddled for a year with a WordPress site that is still stalled). The next step is to enhance the look and functionality of pure/ROKER. In the meantime, don’t be a stranger. You know where to find me.
Raymond Leon Roker [ Founder ]
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THE COOL KIDS Exclusive New Track
FREE DOWNLOAD Hit 2KSPORTS.COM/COOLKIDS Catch them on the 2K Sports Bounce Tour with Q-Tip and special guests. © 2008 Take-Two Interactive Software and its subsidiaries. All rights reserved. 2K Sports, the 2K Sports Logo and Take-Two Interactive software are all trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. All other marks and trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
11/4/08 8:24:03 AM
Our N O W
L I V E
Jorge is a Manhattan-based, Silver Lake native who spent three golden years in Chicago. A self-described media-whore, he’s worked in TV, film, music, publishing and mobile. When he’s not holding down a day gig or out dancing, he’s writing about it for Earplug, BPM, and Resident Advisor. He’s also contributed to Remix, Urban Latino and Vibe. Peep a profile on Michna in this issue. “It’s great to see how far DJ culture has evolved and to be a part of it.”
Behind-the-scenes at our 88-Keys cover shoot, plus a video collection by director Timothy Saccenti featuring Animal Collective, Jamie Lidell and others.
London born and bred, 28-year-old Terence Teh can’t seem to pull himself away from the grimy love/hate capital of the UK for more than a couple of months. He’s a music, art and fashion writer (Dazed & Confused, AnOtherMan, Wound) who throws the sporadic, yet never-not-ram-up party Thugs & Hugs and various art shows, recently collaborating with the Aaron Rose’s Beautiful Losers documentary, Nike and London Film Festival and sitting down with Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewitt in these pages. affiliates-studios.com
Lionel is a great story teller. He was born in a tiny village in the south of France. With a camera always in his hand, he dropped out of school at a very early age and moved to Paris. Stories from his youth are like a French mix of Trainspotting, Snatch and Studio 54. From being an Alpine Ranger in the French army to falling asleep all day on a nine-foot tall speaker in the early days of Ibiza, he’s done some crazy shit...but the camera has always been there. Like when he photographed Health and Michna for URB #156.
DOWNLOAD Exclusive DJ sets and podcasts by 88-Keys, Acid Girls, The Glass and more.
WIN Enter for your chance to get a VIP DJ lesson from Nina Sky
Curran Clark is a New York transplant in LA. She went to NYU, where she sold loose joints outta Washington Square Park. Her work is often dark, Francesca Woodman/Ralph Meatyard influenced. For instance, she enjoys long walks on the beach, but really enjoys them when a bloated body washes up on shore. She has frequently covered the “left coast” although she hates people who call California the “left coast.” One day, she’ll shoot a non-female for URB, but see her work with Little Boots and Nina Sky here. You can check out her stuff at curranclarkphotography.com
Sam Gezari is a Los Angeles based artist. Originally from the Northeast, he moved west to make photographs in a different environment. Getting involved in creative endeavors, he started working behind the scenes and now makes a living as a Set Designer/Art Director on industry related projects. His continued drive is photography and his work is exhibited in Los Angeles, Austin and New York. His multi- and single-exposure flicks of Evidence on page 54 are otherworldly. Check out more at samgezari.com.
Ben Meredith started off as a single-celled organism and over time grew into size 12 shoes. Those shoes took him to the University of California, Irvine, where he graduated with a focus in African American Studies. His passion for hip-hop culture and politics, along with all kinds of music, landed him an internship with URB. He enjoys DJing, makin’ tunes or spending weekends couped up proof reading with the URB crew. Peep his interview with Illa J in this issue.
DISCOVER New music every week at URB.com/Next1000
RATE Daily reviews of the latest releases
Getting away from the stuffy environment of Orange County, marketing/advertising intern Kristen Tambara recently moved out to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the music industry. For her, music is an art form that can evoke emotions and it allows her imagination to flow. When she’s not busy as a bee at URB, you can find her on the basketball court or taking advantage of LA’s numerous hidden gem restaurants, making her a glutton for punishment.
Andrew Cohn is a screenwriter from Ann Arbor, MI, currently residing in Los Angeles. When forced to be a productive member of society, Cohn works as the Senior Editor at FOUND Magazine and the Creative Director for the independent, multi-media production company 21 Balloons Productions. He is also a regular contributor to GQ, The Believer, The Eastern Echo and now URB (check his piece on Laryetta). He also likes donuts and baseball.
How does one begin to describe the loveliest, most talented intern on God’s green earth? Well, when Lysette Simmons isn’t championing poetry’s relevance to the mainstream, she can be found lurking the halls of UCLA’s music school, or slaving away in the URB office. But this babe isn’t just brainy; a fierce competitor, Lysette won second place in her 3rd grade shuttle run! If she doesn’t make it as a world-renowned poet, we’re sure Lysette will take the high road and live the life of a starving artist.
NEW BLOGS all day; NEWS, MUSIC, and more! | 18EVENTS |
11/6/08 2:38:07 PM
11/4/08 8:33:03 AM
LOVE DRUNK PUNCHES
illustration by Dale DaRos
I’ve never punched another person in the face. Never felt my clenched fist smash up against some dude’s smart mouth. I’ve never bitch slapped—a man or a woman. Never heard the deafening clap of my open palm smacking the shit out of someone. No swing of mine has ever generated the type of noise that can silence a room, incite further violence or spark a chorus of “ooohs.” My little brothers have fucked dudes up. So have all my friends. At some point in their lives, a good majority of the rowdy girls I roll with have caught some skin in their rings, too. My brothers were lovable bullies in high school and there’ll always be unlovable bullies at rival schools without a sense of humor. The unfunny motherless kids got punched. Probably with the approval of my moms. One of the homie’s was out in Austin when some D-Bag made a momma joke and you better believe that deserved a fierce reprimand. Bitch-slapped. And because the homie was rolling with Cee-Lo, the D-Bag got kicked out of the club. And in eighth grade, Richie’s sister grabbed this one tween by the hair and straight walloped the poor girl ‘til her braces bled. I’ve had my opportunities. Shit, moments have passed me by where some slimy hipster was just begging to get knocked out. Whether it was the pizza-faced motherfucker at Cinespace who tossed my hat onto the packed dancefloor (I went looking for the vintage Burberry cap rather than responding accordingly) or the homeless guy who tried to stab me (a passing pedestrian and his pit bull broke up the potential disaster), I’ve had legitimate excuses to get that first punch out of the way. Both of those are morally apt reasons for physical violence…and such instances are not alone in my archives. I’m 26. That ain’t old, but it’s well past the point where most men in America first got their knuckles dirty on some dude’s chin. I’m convinced that I’m the oldest man alive to never have punched. This is all purely anecdotal, but the thing with someone’s first punch is that it’s always an anecdote. My sample group—and I’d wager that it’s everyone’s sample group—has stories for days. But so many debuts have universally drunken narrations: cherry-popping, acidtripping and album-buying all have a sentimental spot in our memory banks. Hence, URB #156: My First Issue. Various artists on their various firsts. Not every story is heroic. In fact, more stories end with the debut punch-thrower catching a beat-down rather than victory sex with a hot girl at the party. And if the story behind losing your virginity isn’t awkward and embarrassing, then you’d probably sound like a dick if you tried to write it in 200 words or less for a magazine. Not exactly a winning proposition for an artist trying to sell an image of cool. Thus, there isn’t an incredibly intimate story about My First Sex from a musician you love. You don’t even get my debut deed, not even in 10 words or less. But you do get Living Legends’ Luckyiam waxing philosophically about the first time he drank breast milk as an adult. And the first masturbatory moment Atmosphere’s Slug ever shared with a journalist. And James Murphy’s first time producing a “dumb” band. And, naturally, Heartbreak’s first heartbreak.
Even as this is 88-Keys’ first cover, there’s no reason to further bastardize the now belabored word….first. After all, this is a rapper/producer whose entire album is about “the vagina.” Also contained within URB #156: beat-freak rodent Deadmau5 gets his tech on and another man of many masks, Damon Albarn, manipulates a Mandarin opera for another simian-based project. And Dilated Peoples’ Evidence offers a peak into his new projects and Venice’s gentrified past. Two quick personal notes: (1) Congratulations to URB’s Editor + Content Director Joshua Glazer and his shared nuptials with his beautiful bride, Doris. (2) Serious apologies to Gee Roberson, who we mistakenly referred to as Lil Wayne’s “unofficial manager” in URB #155. Dude is very official, partnering with Kyambo “Hip Hop” Joshua for their management company, Hip Hop Since 1978, and helping guide Kanye West’s career since 1998. Our bad, but there’s no reason to beat myself up about it. Because in the end, I know the first person that I’m going to punch. It’s Robert Horry. With three different teams (Rockets, Lakers, Spurs), Big Shot Bob hit back-breaking buckets against my Phoenix Suns. And when Horry actually played for us, between his stints with the Rockets and Lakers, he threw a towel in the face of then-Suns’ coach Danny Ainge. Horry was traded after 32 games into an ugly season; the Suns are the only team in his entire career that he didn’t hoist a trophy with. Then he checked Steve Nash into the scorers table and it really was the last straw. This man ruined my sports childhood. He may be 6’10, but I have a plan. He’ll be standing in the same room as me and I’ll run and jump-punch the dude…and sprint along my carefully-mapped exit route as if my life depended on it. I won’t stop running for several miles. Then I’ll light a cigarette. Because there was a first time for that, too.
- Brandon Perkins [ Senior Editor ]
“My president is black, my Lambo’s blue/ And I’ll be goddamned if my rims ain’t too”
11/14/08 11:23:48 AM
11/14/08 10:35:06 AM
CNN (not of the streets, but of the mainstream media) just did a piece that asks why the Internet is so darn mad. Apparently, it has something to do with “anonymity,” but we say fuggit mad lulz @ teh geys anonymous. URB.com has its share of anger from its peanut gallery, but also lots of thorough conversation. Check the site for a surely in-depth discussion on the annotated footnotes of Prodigy’s conspiracy-laden letter, jeffstaple’s 1-2-1 interview with Marc Ecko, a Health podcast from Acid Girls and extended pieces on Kool Keith, James Murphy, Killer Mike and more. Plus, there’s always a chance to get geared up with free shit...like it was your birthday.
“Feed him rappers, feed him beats/I’m sick, you would die if you dare ate me.” This could sum up Pheo, a quintessential SoCalian MC, but it still doesn’t quite do it. He has the hiphop blend most look for: soul, funk, and good beats.
Brooklyn beat maestros pH10 have been making the dance ﬂoors of their home turf and beyond just a little ﬁlthier for the past decade. Their sub-rattling jungle/ drum & bass sound is sure to make hips shake and feet step at uncontrollable speeds.
MY F1RST ISSUE models wearing kool keith’s lingerie URB 22 | URB.COM
Pacif ic Division
Paciﬁc Division—an LA County trio individually recognized as Like, Mibbs and B-Young—creates hip-hop as breezy and warm as the sunkissed legs displayed by one of the area’s beautiful girls. Overﬂowing with an uncompromising homage to the Golden Era, dudes got lyrics for days.
11/6/08 11:37:59 AM
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ÂŠ 2008 Avid Technology, Inc. All rights reserved. Avid, M-Audio, the â€œ>â€? logo, Torq, Xponent, X-Session and Conectiv are either trademarks or registered trademarks of Avid Technology, Inc. All other trademarks contained herein are the property of their respective owners. Product features, speciďŹ cations, system requirements and availability are subject to change without notice.
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11/3/08 12:55:55 2:28:45 PM 11/6/08 PM
CRAZY 8’s Sweden + WESC + Beats = Wild game of cards
There are more than a few crazies out there who think the apocalypse will occur on a significant-sounding day and time. It’s more than likely a lot of them flocked to Stockholm, Sweden on August 8, 2008, for WESC’s 08.08.08 party. Hey, if you’re going to go out in a blaze, go out in the coolest way ever: While partying in the streets! Often called “08ers” because their area code is also 08, Stockholmians came out in astounding numbers to the brick-paved Stureplan plaza in the middle of the city on a cloudy Friday night to see the likes of Ed Banger honcho Busy P., Italian masked men Bloody Beetroots, and Swedish Mafia heroes Sebastian Ingrosso and Steve Angello. Arranged by uber-stylish hometown lifestyle brand WeSC (We are the Superlative Conspiracy)—a name synonymous with colorful, technically sound DJ headphones—08.08.08 had the makings to be the city’s most memorable party to date. Passing the hours before the gig with the WeSC crew devouring some much-anticipated sushi, drawing promotional posters and flying remote control helicopters willy-nilly around the hotel, Busy P joined URB in his room at the Scandic for some R&R. Excited to play on the Romeo-&-Juliet style balcony overlooking what was to be 50,000 attendees, Busy (a.k.a. Pedro Winter) said events like this are the types he looks forward to, mostly because of the element of surprise.
“It’s my first time in Stockholm,” the lanky Frenchman said. “This is completely unique and I’m just a little scared because when you play for such a big crowd probably 80-percent of them won’t know who I am or what I’m doing. I hope they don’t run away!” Elsewhere in the hotel, longtime buddies Tommy and Bob—known together as the Bloody Beetroots—were preparing like luchadores to don their Mexican fighting masks and slip into anonymity behind the turntables. De-costumed for our interview, the two jokingly held up pieces of free fruit to cover their mugs for the photos. “The fact that it’s going to happen just once is amazing, we were very looking forward to this gig,” Tommy enthuses, taking a large bite out of his banana. “We are going to have a huge crowd and really do it, and give them all our energy.” Minutes before the first note hit the cold Stockholm air, you could feel a shared sense of sheer anticipation and uncertainty—would the socialist Stockholm police truly allow an event of this caliber to go off without a hitch? Comically stationed on a large trampoline-like fixture in the middle of what was now a sea of not 50,000 but 100,000 revelers, police seemed more than overwhelmed. The Beetroots took their perch at the top of the balcony attached to a nightclub in the plaza, and the sardine-packed crowd raised their arms in jovial unison in what was definitely coming off as a celebration of their city. But then: silence. That is, aside from the grumbling and shouting of patrons who would rather be dancing than grumbing and shouting over musicless space. “MUSICA! MUSICA! MUSICA!” They shouted at the balcony, where a helpless Busy P. stood upon order from the promoters to
turn off the sound. Apparently, the city was not expecting such a success from the WeSC troupe, and according to organizer Konrad Bergstrom, he was told to hold off on Busy P’s set until people became bored and retreated back to their homes. Then and only then would they be allowed to commence. The anticipatory vibe thickened, and the crowd thinned. So much planning. So much effort. After almost an hour and a half, Steve Angello burst into the room leading up to the balcony with a grip of CDs in his hand and shouted determinedly, “Screw this, I’m going to play anyway! I’ll play for just this room if they’ll let me,” and started setting up his gear in the VIP. And then, out of nowhere and after about two hours, the first notes rang out, vocals from Beastie Boys’ “Fight For Your Right To Party” echoing throughout Stockholm in defiant triumph: “YOU GOTTA FIGHT! / FOR YOUR RIGHT! / TO PAAAAAARTAAAY!” Busy P. was going to slay this crowd that had thinned to the “proper amount” and he was going to do it with panache. Cheers rang out through the streets, and after Busy was done making his mark, the Swedish House Mafia (sans Axwell) made their hometown proud with the remaining few hours left in the night, smiles on everyone’s faces from promoters to partiers, like they had overcome The Man. “This was a huge success that I could not have dreamed of,” said Bergstrom, after the streets were cleaned and sleep was finally attained. “When I heard all the people scream I was totally stoked, it was certainly one of my best moments in life.”
By Jen Boyles
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11/14/08 10:46:28 AM
© 2008 Greyhound Lines, Inc.
Our upgraded terminals are brighter, cleaner and just all-around better. With our new, helpful greeters and flat-screen TVs, you’ll feel right at home. So don’t be surprised if you’re a little disappointed when you have to leave. It’s normal. Visit greyhound.com for schedules and tickets.
11/14/08 10:31:17 AM
& LIFESTYLE Decibel
Never Not Fresh
LA Ol d Skool THREAD TRADESHOW
LA STREET KINGS
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11/14/08 10:32:49 AM
LA FASHION WEEK and VOTER REGISTRATION party MODEL BEHAVIOR New York x Los Angeles
The transition into fall has been a good one and we’ve covered all grounds in the past couple of months…. Ending our hellishly hot Summer was the Street Kings’ Rock the Bells after party, with DJ Muggs and Pac Div (one of this year’s Next 100). Following that, we hit up THREAD LA for indie designer goods. We gotta stay fresh, right? We then trekked up North to the Decibel Festival and submerged ourselves in four days worth of electronic music. L.A. Old Skool featured movies taken from the Delicious Vinyl archives, displaying LA’s roots in Hip Hop from 1982-1989. Bouncin’ on over to Imprint Lab, we had the honor of hearing taste-makers, like Hiroshi Fujiwara and jeffstaple, discuss various aspects of pop culture phenomena. Meanwhile we got our party on, there was a lil something goin’ on called the Presidential election. Oh yeah, we got in on that too with the Voter Registration Party (and fashion show) with DJ ?uestlove and Travis McCoy from Gym Class Heros. To wrap it up (kind of), we landed at the CMJ festival in New York and partied with Decon at Never Not Fresh, featuring Evidence, Aceyalone, and this month’s cover star: 88-Keys. We’d love to pass out but the holidays are around the corner, and as well all know, that just ensues more stress and more parties.
11/14/08 10:33:19 AM
With JEFFSTAPLE & MARC ECKO
Everyone, in some capacity, knows Marc Ecko. Maybe you’ve simply seen the recognizable Rhino logo in your local mall. Maybe you’ve seen some of his other brands like Zoo York, Avirex or 50 Cent’s G-Unit Collection. Or, maybe you occasionally read his magazine, Complex. You might have played his video game or voted on what to do with Barry Bonds’ home run record ball. And you’ve probably seen the infamous YouTube clip of Airforce One, apparently being tagged by Marc in the middle of the night. I’ve been a fan of Ecko (p.k.a., Echo) for a long time now. First as a consumer, then as a business owner. I was drawn to the company’s keen design eye and level of detail. Mind you, this is an urban market where there seems to be little regard for even the most minor of minutia. Marc and I crossed paths a while ago, back when his headquarters was inside a school in South River, NJ. So when I sat down with Marc today for this 1-2-1, I already knew everything that needed to be known, right? Not a chance…
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11/2/08 1:59:40 PM
Jeff: So, taking it back to the beginning... Did you go to art school? Marc: No. I didn’t. If you go way back to the beginning in like 6th grade... I would go to the Route 1 flea market in North Brunswick, New Jersey, and there would be the airbrush stand doing tees for people and I found that really cool. And when I would travel into Trenton, Philly and NYC for family trips, I would see all the trains and graffiti. Airbrushing was kind of like the stepchild of graffiti. I knew that was what I wanted to do. I think that in all of our lives there are these objects and narratives that we link onto. And early on, I loved the positive reinforcement I got from my family. Even though it might have been something scribbled on a napkin, it was a big deal. It was a skill set that I had that other family members or friends didn’t necessarily have. So it kind of defined me and it bigged me up. You can’t underestimate the value in that. Where did you go for college? I went to Rutgers College of Pharmacy. My dad was a pharmacist. It’s interesting to reflect on it now. Maybe it was the time, coming off the Reagan years and the sense of how practical it would be to just become a pharmacist, earn $60K and work at the CVS. I went to the dean of the pharmacy school, who was probably the first person in my academic career to give me really sound advice. He was like, “Son, this is what you’re passionate about. You got the parachute of youth. You don’t want to be 40-something and reflecting, ‘I could have.’” It sounds so cliché. But man, it is true. What I was really saying at a young age, because I was into graffiti and illustration and art, was that I was expressive. But this gave me cover because it was masculine. Graffiti was like a gateway to being expressive but it was like the aggro version of being artistic. Like a hardcore MC who really is just a poet at the end of the day. Right, a poet! Which is about as emo as you can get! But for me, life is about passion hunting. I know that sounds very corny, it sounds heavy handed, but I have yet to find a better meaning for it.
When you made that decision to leave, where was the state of your business? There was no business. It was mostly one-offs for people here and there with the promise of a business. I was promoting what I was doing aggressively. Through my cultural network, I became very good friends with Anthony Marshall and Danny Castro from The Lyricist Lounge. And I would paint at their events. That summer, I would go on to print my first six t-shirts. I then went to the “Jack the Rapper” convention in Atlanta, and just sold t-shirts to rappers and music industry people and that’s how it started. In the beginning were there any screw-ups? My life has been like “When it rains it pours.” You know, you’re on this wave, and you just got to try and stay on that bitch and not fall down. [Laughter] It’s all relative, too. People think if you’re successful that somehow you get extra add-on power-ups like if life was a video game. It doesn’t work like that! My life has been one big series of many, many mistakes, all kind of glued together, and I just polish it enough on the outside so people think it’s actually a big success. What did you learn from that? Baptism by fire is the best way to learn. And the most important people that I work with are the ones that exhibit to me that they can be thrown into a situation and learn. Then, re-exhibiting what they learned by doing it over and over correctly. You have to have a tolerance for fuck-ups. You simply cannot micromanage every facet of it, regardless of the size of your business. Was there ever a time where you thought, “That’s it. There’s going to be no more Ecko Unlimited.”? Oh, hell yeah. It’s “more money more problems.” One of the big things that happened to me was that we didn’t register our trademark properly. The spelling of my name is “E-c-h-o”. And I had been nicknamed Echo because I have a twin sister and I came out second. So, when I got that cease and desist letter from the company Echo Design
Group, that they started 85 years ago, they had every right to tell me to stop. That was a painful experience. That, coupled with all the mess that I managed to make for myself with pursuits of bad production and inventory, I eventually got myself seven to eight million dollars in debt. That was one of those moments where I was like, “Make the wolves go away!” Every event I went to, every party I went to, every tradeshow, I owed someone money. And it’s the worst kind of way to owe people money. Your friends on their credit cards! Some of your staff… It was bad. And there were tears more than three nights a week. It’s hard not to become emotionally attached to something. It’s important to be able to discern and not let that stuff take you off course. I’ve conditioned myself to not over think it. Life’s really not that deep. I think parenting and the experience of being a parent helps give you confidence in being able to say that. It’s how you make people feel in life that’s really important. So if you can make people feel something in your business, that’s great. You’re generally gonna be more successful. Conversely to that, when did you feel like “I made it. I’m good.” I haven’t felt that. I think I’m just coded that way. All of the fuss, the fancy office, that’s not what keeps me coming to work in the morning. I’m just hungry. There’s this inherent desire to want to discover something new. I think there is this cycle in how I create. And I’ve made peace with that. I just try not to disturb the cycle. I have this thing I call “Nostalgia Paralysis.” My theory is that people are paralyzed over the past, and it becomes crippling. You see it in industry. You see it in arts. You see it in culture—the way things were, or the rules that were assigned by the thought leaders of that space, is how you must conduct business. I’m the dude that likes to unplug that whole shit. Sometimes I’m right. Sometimes I’m wrong. But I just pick myself up and keep it movin’. photography by Dorothy Hong
11/2/08 2:00:05 PM
11/4/08 8:42:03 AM
THE5SENSESofDEF The holidays are around the corner and to prevent the horror of any useless gifts being given, we got street wear hustler Eddie Cruz (Undefeated, Union, & Stussy) to drop some holiday tips. Based on the five senses, scope Eddie’s choice in stores and gifts for the season of giving.
Store: Union Gift: Visvim Subsection candles Designed by Parisian perfumer Blaise Mautin www.unionlosangeles.com
Store: Du Vin Wine & Spirits Gift: Querciabella Chianti Classico www.du-vin.com
The dopest wine spot in LA. My little secret hidden off San Vicente and Robertson (not so hidden anymore). Ask for their biodynamic bottles— organic wine made the old school way, still crushed by foot. A suref ire way to impress the receiver. Warning, the guys in there are like John Cusack and Jack Black in High Fidelity. Tough to impress, but they got the shit.
For those who have everything, get them something from the Visvim brand out of Tokyo. They offer unique fashion items and accessories that do what the Japanese do best—take something already made and do it with a really dope twist. Casual luxury with a twist of street.
Store: Intelligentsia Gift: Five pound bag of their “Black Cat Classic Espresso” www.intelligentsiacoffee.com
Part of the new indie-coffee-maf ia, along with Stumptown (Portland) and Cafe Vida (Seattle). Intelligentsia hailing from Chicago, now in Silver Lake, is the truth. Once you go black (cat, that is), you never go back.
Store: Supreme Gift: Miles Davis/Supreme Limited Edition CD www.supremenewyork.com
Any gift from the S dot says a lot. You might have to stand in line or call in a couple favors. But at least you put some effort into trying to get something special.
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11/2/08 6:39:28 PM
SIGHT Store: Jacks Vintage Eyewear Gift: Vintage 1980’s Ray-Ban Wayfarer www.vintage-eyewear.com
Taking the sight sense literally, you can check out Jacks on La Brea. He has vintage and new sunglasses. And if he don’t have it, he will f ind it. He can be grumpy and his little dog might hump your leg, but he’s got the goods.
Store: Wanna Buy A Watch Gift: Heuer SS Autavia Chronograph. www.wannabuyawatch.com
Classic bling! In this new dress-down age, where everyone wears jeans and Chucks, a dope time piece can be the ultimate accessory. You can leave the house looking like the Big Lebowski everyday. If you got the right watch on, heads will recognize your baller status.
Photo: Florian Koh
Store: UNDFTD Gift: “The Running Man” set by Reebok www.undftd.com
Shameless plug. We couldn’t do a gift guide and not place some of our shit there, right? Don’t hate the player. Hate the game. But for real—inspired by the Daft Punk helmets, these sneakers will be exclusively available at Undefeated for Christmas in gold, silver and black colorways.
Location: Shadow Boxing (LA) Gift: Boxing lesson from Gabe Johns 323.549.3903
Give the gift of whoop ass with a boxing lesson. They will get to train like a boxer and get in really good shape, while at the same time learning how to land a really good left hook. The best gift ever!!!
11/2/08 8:59:02 PM
11/4/08 8:44:38 AM
11/4/08 11:57:46 AM
PROJECT GUN WAY Kingston spitf ire Terry Lynn has got the message on her mind
by Ryan E. Rodriguez photography by Peter Dean Rickards Jamaica: sun, sand, one love, one heart, and the highest per capita murder rate in the world. The geographic heart of Jamaica is its capital, Kingston, home of Buju Banton, Beenie Man, Sean Paul, and nearly half of the aforementioned deaths. Deep within the criminal winter that blows cold over Kingston’s Waterhouse area is a personality that differs from the prototypic Jamaican artist. Thirty-one-year-old spitfire Terry Lynn, ninth of nine kids, chants the wrath of discontent, reprimanding her island for letting homicide turn into convention. “Some people don’t understand geography, biology or mathematics, but people can grab a message that’s being infused into music,” Lynn says. “I hope that grassroots people around me can identify what the problems are, that’s the first step.” With a message that scolds those who blindly accept the poverty stricken status quo, opposition is an inevitability for which Lynn insists she is ready. Recalling Jamaican folk hero Nanny of the Maroons, Lynn says: “She faced opposition and died for what she believed in. I’m not thinking I want to die, but whatever comes with this change is something you have to face. People yes and people no, but whatever it is, I have to stay true to what I do.” A self-proclaimed soft-speaker, her opinions, raucous delivery and .357-toting in her “Kingstonlogic” video show listeners just how angry Jamaica can make her. Where does the lyrical tenacity come from? “King Yellowman inspires me, but more over, it was lyrically being challenged by guys in the street, having to defend myself as a woman against male counterparts. I was not going to be beat.” Kingstonlogic 2.0, out this month, carries the truthful sting of realist verse, colliding on electro canvas. The sound is a very intentional complement to otherwise serious banter. “Innovation with sound relates to the message. [This] new way of doing things kind of fits into the way I want to express myself. The gritty dark side of the sound feels like a part of what I’m trying to say, the frame matches the artwork.”
11/4/08 11:59:30 AM
THE OWNERS MANUAL
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6/25/08 11/4/0810:45:44 8:48:40AM AM
SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN Swiss duo Larytta make Stateside headway with some Friends of Friends Since 2004, Larytta (pronounced lar-eet-a) has been creating their own distinct brand of modern-pop from within the picturesque confines of Lausanne, Switzerland—a city better known for its jawdropping landscape than its electronic music scene. With their third release, Difficult Fun, the duo of Christian Pahud and Guy Meldem deliver another untamed blend of experimental, genre-bending beats coupled with catchy, playful lyrics. Larytta’s sound is more pop than IDM, effortlessly weaving elements of R&B and electro, indie rock and glitch, hip-hop and world beat. The music that Guy and Christian create is as multifaceted as their lifestyle. The two met at the Lausanne-based art school ECAL in 2003, when a mutual friend asked each of them to play his party. They saw it as an opportunity for collaboration. “Both of us were too lazy to do it separately, so we did it together,” jokes Christian. Upon graduation, Guy started his own graphic design company,
Körner Union, while Christian joined rock band Honey for Petzi. But the two continued their musical partnership in their spare time. In 2005, the duo released a self-titled EP on their own Creaked Records. In 2007, they put out their second EP, Ya-Ya-Ya, which created a strong buzz for the group. They quickly became one of those trendy bands to post on message boards, their name uttered within the halls of college radio stations and record shops alike. “We try to do a lot of different stuff and to be eclectic, but we try to compose pop music as well,” says Guy. “Sometimes mainstream doesn’t like it, and sometimes the indie crowd doesn’t like it. But that’s where we are. . .stuck somewhere in between.” For Larytta, “stuck somewhere in between” isn’t such a bad place to be. Their sound crosses over so many different musical styles it’s hard to classify. The duo’s unique strain of electro-pop is unorthodox yet precise—as unconventional as the men themselves. The twosome has already shared the stage with artists like Jamie Lidell and Justice, and recently announced plans for a split EP on the new Friends of Friends label here in the U.S. The label’s founder, Leeor Brown explains: “The concept is that we [the label] invite an artist to do half an EP, then that artist invites another to do the other half. After that, they invite another artist to do the artwork and design.” Sounds simple enough. by Andrew Cohn photography by Maud Constantin
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11/3/08 8:26:52 AM
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11/13/08 10:12:18 AM
BRØTHER JØHN From Detroit to Delicious Vinyl, Illa J steps to the mic and out of J Dilla’s shadow. John Yancey might be a name you recognize. It’s probably because you’ve heard of James Yancey, aka J Dilla, aka John’s older brother. May he rest in peace. Having adopted the moniker Illa J, little brother moved to sunny Los Angeles and paired up with Mike Ross of Delicious Vinyl to dig up some old Jay Dee beats and experiment. It resulted in his first album, Yancey Boys, a match made in, well, the Yancey gene pool. Rhyming over production by someone as epochal in the hip-hop world as J Dilla, Illa J shouldn’t be surprised that he’s facing some critical ears and raised eyebrows straight out the gate. But his confidence overwhelms any jitters, while he stays respectful and diffident. “I don’t really feel like I’m in his shadow...I’m embracing it,” he says. “A lot of people are gonna like it because it’s my brother’s music, and a lot of people are interested to see what I’m gonna do over it. For some, it will be a whole new experience.” Illa J not only raps over the freshly uncovered Dilla beats, but shows his vocal versatility by singing as well. This passion is nothing new. Both his mother and father sung in the church choir, so he grew up with it. “I was gonna do a singing album before I even thought about doing the rapping thing. I’ve never thought of myself as a rapper.” Whether it’s crooning or rhyming, both are up to par with the family standard in Yancey Boys, but the album begs one question in particular. Dilla beats are obviously in short supply, so what is the next step for John Yancey? “I’m writing songs for my next album. I’ll have my band together, lotta instruments,” Illa J says. The next album will revolve around his desire to explore songwriting and live music. The path that Illa J has taken is a precarious one, stepping too far to one side and it might seem like he’s capitalizing on tragedy. But if John continues on the straight narrow, making music “from the heart,” then Brother James’ legacy will be properly honored.
by Ben Meredith Photography by Pete Ambrose
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11/3/08 9:00:56 AM
OSAWA From Japanese dance/pop star to electro live-wire.
By Terence Teh Photography By Pi xie Felton
“The first live recording from Fatboy Slim, On the Floor at the Boutique, when I first listened to that, it really gave me the inspiration to step into this realm,” says Shinishi Osawa, the ’90s Japanese dance/pop star (with the group Mondo Grosso) turned electro live-wire. Like Norman Cook, as opposed to Fatboy Slim, his softly spoken answers mask a crazed onstage persona. And today the stars align, as Shinichi, now signed to the Cook’s Southern Fried Records, sits in a quaint London pub, itching to head south. He’s about to DJ the Big Beach Boutique party in Brighton, the same south coast sweat-down where that influential live big beat album was recorded a decade earlier (don’t call it a comeback!). Donning a rather dapper getup from his own twoyear-old fashion label Useless (inspired by the likes of Hedi Slimane and Nicola Formichetti), Shinichi offers insight into Tokyo clubland and how his brand of pounding electro—one part glitched-out bliss, two parts epic euphoria—resonates with his loyal crowd. “Japanese clubs have a very powerful energy and there’s a massive respect to the DJ. WOMB in Tokyo is my favorite venue. Even though I might be playing someone else’s records, I want it to be a live show. In Japan nobody is doing what I do, linking, producing, DJing and live remixing.” Although he’s been releasing music since the early ’90s, The One is Shinichi Osawa’s long-awaited electro opus, released domestically in 2007. Just peep the wild YouTube footage of his album launch party at WOMB for proof. A year later, and the rest of the world is catching up, no doubt aided by album-opener
and blog-heater “Star Guitar.” The song is a stunning, kaleidoscopic speedway remix of the Chemical Brothers’ hit laced with the dreamy tones of Brooklyn gal trio Au Revoir Simone. “I just finished remixing ‘Kelly’ for Van She, ‘Aurora’ for Alex Gopher and The Whip’s ‘Black Out’,” he says with a smile, obviously more than happy to do his part for East meets West sonic relations, remix by remix.
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11/3/08 9:24:10 AM
NEW SHOES Disco DJ/songstress Little Boots makes big tunes by Som Kham saysoury photography by Curran Clark
Having just wrapped up a photo shoot on the second floor of A Club Called Rhonda on Hollywood Boulevard, you could see in her eyes that Little Boots has had a long day. A couple radio interviews, hours spent slaving in the studio, the hair and make-up sessions—and just now having her picture taken in a thickly warm room for the past hour, she's relieved to be sitting down, sipping on a Corona. "I'm not very good with poses," says the petite songstress from Blackpool, England. "You know, I just sit there looking bored. But the club looks pretty cool with the mirrors and stuff." Our current location also merits mention. "This is odd," she comments, sitting in a small alley in front of the venue. "This is definitely the weirdest place I've done an interview." New to the interview in the alley thing (but apparently not new to interviews), Victoria Hesketh currently has the stateside blogs in a rage for her already-released single, "Stuck on Repeat," a sultry, Italio disco slow-burn produced by Joe Goddard of Hot Chip. No wonder it demands plays, over and over again. Goddard is also onboard to assist in the fulllength effort Boots is currently working on with producer Greg Kurstin (Kylie Minogue, Lily Allen, Beck, Red Hot Chili Peppers). The details are still in the works, but look to IAM SOUND for the U.S. release. According to the good ol' Wikipedia, the name Little Boots is a reference to Caligula, the insane Roman Emperor famously played by Malcome Mc-
Dowell in the X-rated film produced by Penthouse publisher Bob Guccioni. Victoria has yet to see the flick, but it was a friend who started calling her Little Boots after discovering the cult classic. “Everyone says that I have to see it. I hear it’s so pervy.” Either way, the name just suits her in a crazy-cute-sexy way. And yes, her feet are tiny. An hour later, as Hesketh takes to the decks, she opens “A Fifth of Beethoven,” the camp disco classic that feels of perfect vintage amidst Rhonda’s ‘70s greeco-roman decor. Ambiguously gay hipster boys grind with their not so ambiguous brethren while the room heats up to sauna levels. It’s not quite orgiastic, but it definitely has a sexual energy that has been missing in the bellows of recent club land. Maybe it just needed a little boot in the ass.
11/3/08 9:43:57 AM
Tricked Out Selling stolen meat and tickling the trombone with Michna As the title of Adrian Michna’s album, Magic Monday, suggests, sometimes making it in the music business takes a trick or two. “At Winter Music Conference, I actually did a couple of card tricks for [Ghostly International chief] Sam Valenti. He liked my Miami-Detroit connection, so I sent him a demo,” on cassette no less. “Most of the time it just ends up in the garbage. So I asked Diplo for a contact. When I heard back from Sam he said, ‘I don’t have my tape player hooked up.’ Then two months later, I get an email from him saying, ‘We want to talk to you about a release.’” Maybe the trombone had something to do with it. While certainly a noble instrument, it’s not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of electro, hip-hop or drum & bass—the three styles that Michna works with most often. But there it is, nestled smoothly among the “needle drops” and street samples, in downtempo grooves like “Italian Visitors,” sounding like Mantronix’s sentimental waxing, and skittering along on funkier numbers like “Bumper Car Masters,” conjuring names like Prefuse 73. Before alighting on the Ann Arbor, MI imprint, Michna went to school in Miami where he was part of System Frequency Crew. From there, he was couch surfing in NYC and then teaching trombone in Vienna. DJing in China as Egg Foo Young, and back in New York, while working at one of city’s few remaining record stores, he had East Village characters try to sell him everything from stereos to soup to stolen meat. It was all part of the hustle. “I was working every kind of crazy job. I was proctoring SAT tests for the Princeton Review before I got the job at Etherea Records. I was offered a full-time job with Princeton, but I had to take the SAT as part of it, so that didn’t work out.” Academia’s loss is music’s gain. “The rest of 2008 is all rehearsing, playing out, doing a mix of live and DJ shows.” He’s also been doing remixes for Andrea Parker’s label and working on alternate versions of Magic Monday. But don’t expect Michna mixes by others any time soon. “When you think about classic artists like the Orb, most of those records are different versions and don’t involve other people. Those remixes are collectible now. That’s what I’m going for.” Sounds like it’s working. By Jorge Hernandez Photography by Lionel Deluy
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11/11/08 1:16:09 PM
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11/5/08 10:00:19 AM
WHY SHIT LOOKS WEIRD
Esoteric LA rockers Health examine the bizarre frequencies of Vegenaise and vampire squids from hell. by Daiana Feuer photography by Lionel Deluy
On Venice Beach, the real and bizarre shape a quadratic landscape. Trivia and nature blend harmoniously as far as the eye can see. Beyond a pavement strip where aliens sell magnets, tree men dance on stilts, poodles pull their owners on rollerblades and tan muscle men wear spandex, there’s a long, flat beach stretching out into blue sky like an unrolled carpet. Occasionally, a plane flies overhead pulling a banner for Diddy’s bougie vodka. Otherwise, the beach is empty and sterile. The chatter strips down to sea and sand, consciousness’ symbolic skivvies. What remains to contend with is Health. The band crawled out of The Smell, a stinking crevice leaking out of a Downtown LA alley, a music venue straddled by a Mexican polka dance club and a soccer-themed bar where no matter what you order, they hand you a Corona. The Smell is where the band recorded last year’s “Glitter Pills” shortly after their split 7-inch with Crystal Castles (and CC’s “Crimewave” remix), which instigated the Health/ Disco CD with remixes by Acid Girls, Toxic Avenger, Curses! and others—as opposed to their healthnoise.com website (the album is just called Health). All this activity charted them on every blogger’s drool-o-meter from LA to Ireland. And now has them opening for Nine Inch Nails and Of Montreal. Health made it all the way to the Venice shore, (not) to talk about music. But where does Health come from? Literal Origin: BJ Miller, John Famiglietti and Jupiter Keyes are natives to SoCal, and Jake Duzsik is from Seattle. Jake met Jupiter at Claremont College, at the far ends of LA, nearing desolate obscurity along San Bernardino County’s border. They suggest BJ came from Craigslist’s casual encounter section, or that John met BJ working at a strip club. Perhaps John and BJ met in a restroom. Tucking his own silky locks behind his ears, John noticed BJ’s long flowing hair in the mirror and asked, “Do you happen to play
drums?” BJ had some jazz fills, some paradiddles. So the boys said, “You’re in.” United by a fondness for burritos, smoothies and having J’s in their name, each band member carries a unique set of cards. BJ (Benjamin Jared) knows constellations and makes political jokes. He got naked at Burning Man. John has played Dungeons and Dragons. . .a lot. He’s into sorcery. Jupiter likes the ocean and studies the Zodiac to please his astrologist mom. Jake doesn’t believe in that stuff. “It is what it is,” he says, crumbling sand in the air. Jake’s haunted by Black Sabbath riffs at night and never saw The Lion King in English—though Jupiter has. He says, “Oh, that’s a great movie.” Conceptual Origin: They sought a simplistic word seen all the time. Medicine. It kind of rolls off the tongue, but there was a ’90s LA shoegaze band called Medicine. Health. Not a great band name to say aloud, but (written down) it looks cool. Jake: “Our music’s kind of sterile and weird sounding. Also, taken out of the context, if you used really minimal art, or the music was really intense, [the name] could seem sort of oppressive: always in caps, ‘HEALTH.’” John: “We thought it was a little deep, but it’s technically not the best band name in the world.” Jake: “It’s book-ended by two soft sounds, so if you’re in a loud place and someone’s like, ‘Oh, what’s your band called?’ and you’re like, ‘Health!’ Invariably they hear ‘Elf.’” Jupiter: “For me, that scene in Planet Earth when they go way down deep into the caves and reach the Chandelier Ballroom? That’s our music, right there.” John: “It’s Yavin 4, the jungle planet, at night. Star Wars: A New Hope. It’s a jungle planet with shitty ’70s futuristic technology.” Jake: “Like Blade Runner. It looks all futuristic and technological, but it’s the imagined future from URB.com
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a Philip K. Dick novel interpreted by Ridley Scott. There’s hot androids.” Jupiter: “Two or three suns shooting out different colors.” Jake: “Archaic, but futuristic. A technological, post-apocalyptic jungle, wonderscape land.”
Surrounded by sunshine blanketing the shore, Health crouches in a circle near the water, barefoot, digging holes and building sand plateaus, shaping sci-fi profundities. They notice, not only do they all wear Nikes (save BJ), but that they each have holes along their pants’ crotches. Quietly, BJ’s made quick work of his structure/ sculpture, busying his hands in the sand. “I want to explain mine,” he says. “These are not boobs. This is a replica of the power plant on the way to San Diego, just before Oceanside. I dream of being an engineer.” “Very bad location for a nuclear plant, I might add,” John adds. Nuclear hypotheticals abound when it comes to Health, who act out fist fights with their amps and create screeching electrified andromedas. They thrash, pound, angelically purr or scream like banshees, whittling expression down to primitive syllables reconfigured through poetic noise paragraphs. An older person told me my generation is marked by oversaturation. All the cartoons, movies, comics, TV and video games seep into our creative output. Stylistically, we’re an information and textural onslaught. Our art tends towards extremes but, in its
benign violence, demonstrates our control over the wild and crazy. Chaos is a sandbox, and we wield the pails and shovels. Considering the context, does Health draw inspiration from external things? Jake: “No.” Jupiter: “We don’t write songs, we channel them.” BJ: “The same way I’m channeling this sand alien with breasts.” Jake: “That looks like a nose and eyes.” BJ: “It’s an alien with gargantuan nuclear power plant boobs.” John: “You should add a third one and you got the girl from Total Recall. [In a high voice], ‘I wish I had three hands.’” Jake: “The scene where they go to the red light district on Mars. Schwarzenegger goes there to find this woman who’s a prostitute but she’s also part of the resistance to overthrow the oppressive regime that controls the oxygen. And there’s a woman with three boobs. Pretty cutting edge.” But what, if anything, might define the stuff this generation is made of? How does touring with Trent Reznor feel? What lies beneath the “Crimewave” and noisy association, electron transfusion from amp to mic? BJ: “Nitrous. Cheesecake. I am made of the feathers of a bald eagle. God bless America!” A small plane passes by, this time, bannerless. John: “I wanna be some kind of viscous…” BJ: “...mucus.” Jupiter: “...peanut butter.”
Jake: “...Gak.” All: “Oh, Gak!” Jupiter: “Vegenaise. All purpose.” A vegan mayo substitute, “Vegenaise” combines oil, apple cider vinegar, brown rice syrup, soy protein, salt, lemon juice and mustard. “Goes good on everything,” according to Health. John: “I wanna be good-ass taffy.” Jake: “I wanna be made from rocks from the bottom-bottom of the ocean that are hundreds of thousands of years old.” Jupiter: “I wanna be made of vampire squid. It has iridescent tentacles. The thing is, why is it using light to trip out its predators when you can’t see down there anyway?” BJ: “That’ll let ’em know something’s going on.” The “vampire squid from hell” has a dark red body so it blends into abysmal darkness 3,000 feet under the sea. When threatened, the beast from beneath activates two light organs on the end of its body and envelops itself in a squiddy skin cloak, shrinking the lights on its mantle, or butt, so a predator thinks it’s farther away. When the predator accidentally knocks into the vampire squid, it releases a dust cloud of glowing particles to confuse the attacker. Health tackles nature’s strangeness with determination. Seeking answers to the world’s mysterious why’s and how’s, the guys shine a light on their own obscurity. Their weird music fits well on the Smell’s chalkboard, on a list with No Age, Abe Vigoda, the Mae Shi, Anavan and some more charmingly noisy
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monkey in the middle Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett trade Gorillaz for another sort of simian. By Terence Teh Photography by Phil Knott
Down a leafy suburban street, in a typically quiet West London neighborhood, lies a rather rusty yet otherwise inconspicuous metal door. That is, of course, except for the words “Zombie Flesh Eaters” hand-scrawled in black pen above the buzzer. It’s a crude and knowing clue to revealing the two creative geniuses who lurk behind that steel: eccentric visionaries from the brash, postpunk Brit Pop culture of the ’90s; co-conspirators working beneath the vacant, inky stares of motley freaks with names like 2D and Noodle; and, in 2008, resurrectors of the long lost art of the Mandarinlanguage pop opera, starring none other than a simian-faced anti-hero from China’s Ming Dynasty known simply as Monkey. “It came straight out of the blue around threeand-a-half years ago,” says Jamie Hewlett, reclining in his suite, the design and animation studio that houses the Gorillaz headquarters and the recording studio of Hewlett’s creative cohort, Damon Albarn. “Damon said, ‘someone’s asked us to do an opera,’ which didn’t really sink in. But then he said it was an opera version of Monkey. . . We both have fond memories of the TV series as children of the ‘70s.” Grammy-award-winning conceptual artists get plenty of offers, but Monkey (or Monkey Magic!)— with its surreal flights of fantasy, live-action kung fu and freakish facial contortions--is a certified cult classic. Its origins are in the great Wú Chéng’ēn folkloric novel Journey to the West, an epic about spirituality whose protagonist was literally a monkey who’d mastered the Tao, immortality, and the art of being a mischievous pain-in-the-ass. He was the undercover circus jester “yin” to Bruce
Lee’s stone-cold killer “yang,” and he kicked and connived his way across the Chinese tundra to recover a handful of lost Buddhist texts. “We were at the end of the Gorillaz album Demon Days and we offered a free trip to China to work on an opera. We couldn’t really say no,” says Damon, slouched on the studio’s sofa, weirdly sipping from alternating mugs of water, coffee and tea—perhaps some kind of Eastern elixir balancing act. “We had to get to the country, spend as much time as we could catching up with the Chinese.” They’ve been five times since. The writer/director of the opulent new Monkey opera is Beijing-born New Yorker Chen Shi Zheng. He approached Damon to compose the music and Jamie to create the production’s stunning costumes, animations and props (the latter in collaboration with Brit artist Gavin Turk). “We met Shi Zheng in Hong Kong, went out and had many drunken conversations. The next day we had terrible hangovers driving across the border. And that’s how we entered mainland China,” laughs Damon, flashing his mischievous grin and gold tooth. “But we’re still here, so it couldn’t have done us too much harm.” In July, “Monkey: Journey To The West” opened for a week run at London’s Royal Opera House to rave reviews. It’ll be performed to an audience of over 150,000 (total) through November and December at a theater alongside the 02 arena built exclusively for this show. Also within spitting distance is Matter, the new three-story club owned by Fabric. All told, it’s pop culture in bed with the famous fat lady of opera—and boy is she singing (and no, it ain’t over). Theirs is a salubrious
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EVIDENCE DOESN’T RESPECT RAPPERS, HE RESPECTS KEVIN FEDERLINE At the scene of the crime with a Dilated People. by Brandon Perkins photography by Sam Gezari
At the bottom of every water bottle is a number that references the plastic’s toxicity and rate of decomposition. It may be a governmental band-aid akin to the color-coded terrorism warning system, but it’s a constant reminder of America’s lust for unnecessary waste. For every 7/11 liquid purchase, there’s a 1-7 scale of faux-environmental fuckery. The lowest end is more biodegradable, while the highest end might be less toxic. It’s a scale of green that amounts to varying shades of gray. That 99-cent Arrowhead bottle will recycle better, but the plastic’s toxin will “leach” into your water supply after just a few refills. On the other end, the closer a bottle gets to “7,” the thicker it gets and the more room it occupies in this nation’s many landfills. Oh, and 7 is also banned in baby products in many states…because it’s toxic? Maybe the moderate position is the safest and most ecologically sound, maybe the 3-4-5 markings are the sweet spots, or maybe you’re still drinking from a poly-based danger lurking in the shadows. These are the intricacies to every facet of life, but few people obsess over them the way Evidence does. In his ever-expanding house in Venice, CA, the hiphop veteran enthusiastically details the pros and cons of each grade of plastic. His girl got him a “7-other” coffee cup because it has the most recycleability and the least toxins. In everyday life, it’s a $2.99 to-go mug from Starbucks. In Evidence’s life, it’s a fairly apt analogy for his art. Evidence’s album titles are supported by encyclopedic references. His concepts have their genesis deep in his decade-plus catalog. Names have reasons. To a grip of early-‘00s rap fans, Dilated Peoples kinda sounded like a diseased, furry pencil topper...a Weeple. But to Evidence, when triangulated with bandmates Rakaa and DJ Babu, “Dilated Peoples sounded like an army.” On the back of genuinely energetic shows and a classicist underground ethos, Dilated built the fervent kind of fan base that makes six weeks in Europe a payday and not some U.S.-dollar-be-damned vacation. It became international. But even though Evidence liked the group’s moniker, he didn’t yet care for concepts. “Throughout my whole career, Rakaa was always
adamant about a concept,” Evidence says. “He didn’t really wanna write unless we had a topic, and I was very much like, ‘Let’s just spit 16 [bars] each and it’s free that way. People enjoy us and it doesn’t seem bogged down.’ Now, I’m getting older and I’m really starting to understand what he was talking about...I don’t think I can really approach anything unless I have a concept. That’s not to say the concept can’t be ‘wreck shit,’ but it is playing a huge direction in my new vision of myself and how I’m perceived.” Evidence’s new direction came in two steps. His debut solo album, The Weatherman LP—released in 2007—was the first part. Critically acclaimed, especially in independent hip-hop circles, The Weatherman was a concerted effort to reflect on the man that he had become. In the sincerest of fashions, Evidence turned the microphone microscope inwards, away from a patented dissection of wack rappers and towards the trials and tribulations of his own life. “Since that day I’ve really had a difficult time rapping about rapping,” he says. The second step came while riding high on the success of that LP. Thinking ahead to the next project, he told his manager—the same man that Ev credits with coaching him into this new period of self-reflection—to “step his game up.” “[I told him] there’s 30 people right now on MySpace that would move to Cali, do everything for free and hustle, just to have the opportunity to be my manager. They would show me how bad they want it,” Evidence says. He isn’t afraid to get animated in conversations. “He was like, ‘I respect that and, yes, I’ll step it up. But you need to step your fuckin’ game up.’ And I leaned back, I almost dropped the phone. I was like, ‘What do you mean? I have one of the most celebrated albums of 2007 on the underground, I haven’t stopped touring since, I have my merch set up, I’m on my MySpace every day, my website’s being built...what more could I possibly do?’” His manager, good ol’ Brock Korsan, was asking Evidence to step up the productivity. It’s an era that Lil Wayne may have created, but the Charles Hamiltons, Crooked I’s and Mickey Factzes of the World Wide Web URB.com
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are putting out new music at an insomniatic blog-roll rate. Rappers with lyrics for days are releasing raps on the daily. The challenge from Evidence’s manager was one of prolificacy. If anyone has checked URB.com in the recent months, it’s apparent that Ev has stepped up to the challenge. From the simplicity of a 32-second in-studio YouTube video with LA rapper Blu, to a plethora of empeefrees, he’s jumped into the dub-dub-dub tub with both feet. The only clock in the Dilated Peoples studio on Olympic Boulevard occupies the upper right hand corner of the lab’s Mac, and Evidence is wary of its shameless ploys to steal his attention from the always-ongoing Pro Tools session. Perhaps only dedicated basketballers shoot more after-hour free throws. He sits in the studio with the homies—but often alone—making beats and rapping over them. That Charles Barkley stick-to-itness results in The Layover Mixtape (a collaboration with DJ Skee, out nowish), The Layover EP (in stores November 25), Cats & Dogs (sophomore solo jump-off, out this winter), Kids, Inc. (an alter-ego, stoner supergroup featuring Evidence, 88-Keys and Alchemist), a “for real group” with just Al, another Dilated album, and plans for days (and days). MENACE II PHOTOGRAPHY Behind Evidence’s freshly-painted house just beyond the football field of Venice High School, the MC/ producer mimics a swan-dive off his newly built deck into a pool yet to be dug. He meticulously picked out the new color, driving around and holding up paint swaths to the surrounding homes. He designed the deck and spearheaded its completion, tooth and nail. When everything is said and done, it’ll be two steps out of a sliding door to swim laps in the Southern California mornings. And for good measure, there’s a studio two steps from drying off. A few minutes later, in the front yard, a neighbor stops by and yells for “Mike” from the seat of a white pick-up truck. Born Michael Perretta, Evidence abides.
The man, his truck idling in the street, has two things to discuss with his neighbor: (1) Mike’s sex was too loud the other day and (2) he’s sorry that his wife screamed hateful, hateful obscenities at Mike because he was blaring Stevie Wonder the other afternoon. That shit only happens in real life…or when a journalist is looming in the driveway. The minute that his neighbor drives the final 15 feet home, Evidence opens his front door and talks about the filth-filled berating he received from the man’s wily wife. Vile and evil are the simplest summations. He offers little more than a smile in regard to that first point of discussion. Other than the flat-screen over the fireplace, a stark black-and-white photograph of Michigan in late autumn is the living room’s focal point. Evidence’s mother, Jana Taylor, snapped it one morning while photographing Henry Ford’s kin on one of a few annual visits during the ’70s. It was taken from the still of a porch, looking out onto bare Midwestern trees that vacantly fill much of the frame. Somehow, the air looks breezeless. The calm is tangible. Taylor passed away after a battle with cancer while Evidence was on tour with Dilated. Its effect on him is apparent in the 2007 documentary about the group, Release Party. He closes The Weatherman with a selfproduced song called “I Still Love You,” and while the genuine sentiment feels just as real as “Hey Mama” or “Dear Mama,” Evidence’s strings are far from those that tracked Kanye and Tupac’s dedications. It stutters angrily, soars on the back of building string sections, and ends with a radio interview from the vault. On the static-backed clip, Jana Taylor speaks about her choice to quit acting in favor of being a mother [her most visible role being on General Hospital], and her subsequent photography career.. “[She] set the blueprint in what I do. My mother was a respected actress. She had bills paid. She was doing well. But she got pregnant and decided she didn’t want to act because she wanted to be a mother. She got pregnant in her 30s, so by that time, you know, it
was like, ‘I’m gonna have a kid now, that’s it…’ She started taking photos of me with a camera that was a gift. People liked those. “[She was] the first photographer who was ever let into Denzel Washington’s home, Tracey Ullman’s home, Kevin Costner’s home, shooting their families. Real shit. I did the same thing. Real shit out of nothing. I got an ASR-10, some turntables, sitting in my garage, people coming over. Didn’t know what I was doing. Doing it for the love. This starts paying the bills. I’m my own boss, she’s her own boss. I just mimicted her. She set a blueprint and I just followed it, [but] with music.” When Perretta was in grade school, “Mom bounced on Old Man” while living in Santa Monica, far above her means. She took her only child to Venice, long before the exit of crack—and subsequent entrance of property taxes—made it one of the most attractive neighborhoods in Los Angeles. As late as the mid-’90s, it was far from desirable. Trash littered “lawns”—some were just 200-square-foot concrete slabs—and teamed with broken screen doors and dilapidated porches to create an enduring symbol of LA’s many hip-hop era ghettos. Think Ice Cube and Chris Tucker sitting on the stoop. A few 30-to-100-unit apartment buildings and a stand-in-the-street crack trade rounded out the neighborhood. Perretta’s home was on a quieter corner, but certain streets were bleak. And dangerous. He had to sprint through drug-dealing stretches of pavement to get to a friend’s house. It was reality, but it was also a game, albeit a heart-pounding affair. The cars that tried to part the sea of milling bodies were rare, only playing if they really, really belonged there or made a really, really wrong turn. Then and now, windows are left open in Venice’s perennial summer. On that awkward teenage cusp, Perretta’s bedroom was open to a hip-hop thump in the middle of the night. It came from Quincy Delight Jones III’s studio. Son of the Grammy legend and a musicmaker in his own right, QD3 was getting a parade of
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HEADSPACE Deadmau5 is the newest star on the international dance music circuit. This is how he became the big cheese.
By Dennis Sebayan Photography by Phil Knott
Joel Zimmerman’s story is one filled with dichotomy. It’s a tale that pits the old school against the new school: the digital vanguard against the analog purist, and the DJ against the live musician. Heck, this chronicle is even about MIDI against Open Sound Control. And right in the middle of it all is an artist who wears a cartoon mouse head to his breakout performances. In just two years, Zimmerman has skyrocketed to fame as Deadmau5, an alter ego that blends technology, innovation, dance music and flashy onstage antics into one. Born on January 5, 1981, on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, Zimmerman never really aspired to become the world’s fastest rising dance music producer, but in 2008, he is. He took a shotgun approach to his early career as a computer programmer, gravitating toward any area that was “developing fast [with] new methodology for working.” “I always had a backup plan of being a designer or a programmer,” he says. For a minute, he thought he would become a Flash guru, but developments in the ways music could be made steered him into production. “If it’s more fast-paced than my attention span,” he explains, “that’s the kind of thing I want to do. Music was a natural choice.” The Deadmau5 pseudonym materialized in 2005 when a mouse crawled into Zimmerman’s computer and died, leaving smelly remnants for him to uncover. The round mouse head logo, which has become synonymous with his work as a DJ and producer, was the first fully finished model he completed while exploring the world of computer 3-D modeling and animation.
The head started out as a “bit of a laugh” in the beginning, until he began using it as a branding tool for his freelance web design projects and for his label, Mau5trap Recordings. “A friend of mine from Los Angeles sent me a picture of him drunk, passed out on a couch,” he recalls. “I superimposed the head on him in Photoshop [and] sent it back to him as a laugh. It became one of those ‘you’ve got to do that’ things.” He began in 2004 to produce singles in earnest, eventually landing them on the playlists of the world’s top DJs, including Sasha, Carl Cox and Dubfire. When progressive stalwart Chris Lake passed Zimmerman’s single “Faxing Berlin” to a certain Pete Tong, Deadmau5’s fate as a wanted producer was sealed. In 2007, he was the recipient of the Canadian Juno Award for his collaboration with Newton Davis on “All You Ever Want.” By September 2008, Deadmau5 became the highest selling artist on MP3 outlet Beatport. “Faxing Berlin” and the single “Not Exactly”—both appearing on his new full-length, Random Album Title—had already moved more than 30,000 units at the online music shop. Contrary to popular opinion, Zimmerman does not practice his Deadmau5 antics in front of a mirror, nor does he wear the mouse head to bed. The first time I saw him live was during a 20-minute set at Ultra Music Festival in Miami last March. The appearance served as a teaser for anyone who hadn’t heard of Deadmau5 before the Winter Music Conference. While he jumped around looking like dance music’s first ever cartoon mascot, films of Zimmerman skateboarding played on giant projection screens behind him.
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Fast forward to September and I meet the man behind the mask, just hours before a rare DJ gig at Cielo. Looking weary, Zimmerman is two weeks into a Beatport and Puma-sponsored 52-show tour across three continents. “Touring drains your soul completely,” he says. “It’s not so much showing up to a club, playing a gig on your feet for three hours, as it is being on a flight every morning and every night.” A few minutes into the conversation, he lets his guard down. We talk about his live setup, which comprises two laptops (one is a pure live machine containing clips, MIDI sequences and VSTis; the other contains full audio tracks), an Allen and Heath XONE 42 mixer and two devices called the Anomaly and the Lemur. During his sets, he uses the XONE 42’s four channels, configuring the first two with laptop A and the last two with laptop B. The Anomaly and Lemur are two pieces of equipment—“essential tools to moving forward” —that place the Deadmau5 live act apart from the rest. “They’re both very modular,” he explains. “Two artists can buy them and never do the exact same thing with them; they’re customizable to the degree of changing the control surface [and] programming new ways to use set devices.” While he’s interfacing on the XONE 42, he’s utilizing the two touch-screen grids to punch in commands,
apply FX and adjust sliders. When he purchased his Anomaly, it didn’t come with a manual or software, only a power supply and the box. This forced him to do research, learn a new programming language and discover Open Sound Control, the protocol it uses to communicate. “It’s MIDI 2.0—you can send the signal over the Ethernet,” he tells me. While OSC is similar to MIDI, he believes “it is faster and smarter.” OSC is now Deadmau5’s “protocol of choice” for synchronization and control-sending language. “MIDI should just fuck off and die already,” he says. “It’s so clunky and unreliable. We have fiber-optic technology to send this very conversation halfway around the world and back in less than two milliseconds. Why do we still have sync problems with electronic instruments?” Later that night, I’m at Cielo, surrounded by the flock of managers, agents and publicists who make up Zimmerman’s entourage. For a Tuesday night, the club is completely filled. His manager invites me to check out Deadmau5 in the booth. The “rare DJ set” is usually a lazy excuse for a producer to make some money by showing up at the club with a case of CDs. Yet I find Deadmau5 actively working the four sliders on the mixer and interfacing the two touch screen devices. The set sounds like an expertly crafted journey into minimal, progressive
and techno. Almost more exciting, tonight, Deadmau5 has revealed a new blue mouse head. Whenever he puts it on, stroboscopic eyeballs scan the crowd—everybody goes wild. Deadmau5 is coming up at a pivotal point in dance music history, where new technology is enticing DJs to visit the live music realm, and viceversa. “The DJ comes out on top in the nightclub over a lot of live PAs,” he admits, “because it’s playback of mastered product.” But while some are resistant to the idea, Zimmerman fully embraces the new hands-on technology. “It can help you stop worrying about certain aspects, allowing you to develop new areas.” The beauty of club culture is that it’s constantly evolving, from the people and the venues to the music and the way that it is relayed. It started with vinyl, then the CD DJ threatened to usurp the purists. Soon, the Ableton and Serato DJs started blogging their way into the club’s PA. Through it all, the integration of new developments has always called for an upward battle. And now, Zimmerman is facing trial by fire. Recently, Deadmau5 cast himself as the “up-andcomer versus [the] DJ guy” in an interview for DJ Magazine. The publication ended up putting his ubiquitous big mouse head on the front cover alongside his quote, “The Day of the DJ Is Just
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“There will always be something I want to do that’s extremely impossible”
Gonna End,” as the headline. “The whole fucking article basically said that I did it,” he says. When an artist comes up in a competitive scene known for its elitism and resistance to new forces, there’s bound to be a backlash. Likewise, critics and dance music fans tend to lump him into the new school of DJ/producers, downplaying his credibility as a viable act on the global dance circuit. Deadmau5 has become a colorful posterboy punching bag of sorts. But he’s not down for the count. Zimmerman will continue embracing new innovations, modifying his set to include the latest developments. “Things will never get satisfactory because there will always be something I want to do that’s extremely impossible,” he says. “The electronic music scene can best be described as a roller coaster,” he explains. “Along the timeline, you’re going to have high points and low points. But at the end of the fucking day, old school DJs and new school DJs have to get on this fucking thing. And it’s going.”
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CIRCUMVENTION Futuristic throwback producer 88-Keys took a message from God and turned it into an album about the vagina. By Jason Newman Photography by Eric Vogel
“Once I heard People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, I felt like I had to be a part of hiphop. I didn’t know how. Hell, I didn’t even know what a producer was. I just knew I had to figure out how to make music ’cause that shit was crazy.” For posterity’s sake, let’s attribute the above quote to Charles Misodi Njapa, better known as 88-Keys, on September 18, 2008. But let’s also co-sign it to anyone—and there are more of you than you think—who’s ever had a similar revelation to albums like A Tribe Called Quest’s debut. After a brief flirtation with fame in the late’90s, crafting gems for Mos Def, J-Live, and Black Star, 88’s current mix of Golden Age beats with diverse genres, coupled with a geek-like obsession for fashion and the Internet, has made him a movement personified. For anyone who watches old rap videos on Youtube, scans hip-hop message boards in the office and can’t empathize with 50’s problems, 88-Keys feels your pain. Throughout various stages of the genre over the past 10 years—think Mafioso strings, handclaps, etc.—we could find 88-Keys (named years ago by legendary producer Large Professor) with an MPC and a crate full of records, waiting on the word of God (more on that later). With his debut album, The Death of Adam, dropping after a decade-plus in the game, this moment stands as the producer’s resurrection, rather than just the next act in a hiphop career. “WE’RE ON A MISSION FROM GOD” “I’m a talker. I’m definitely a talker,” he says, lounging in a Cosi sandwich spot before a DJ set later that night. It’s true. Like the best raconteurs, everything is a story, and a conversation with Keys is not so much linear as labyrinthine, filled
with backtracks, dead ends, and stories-within-astory. It’s this same ability that helps carry Adam, a fictional narrative that eschews the standard producer compilation in favor of a concept album about, well… “The vajayjay,” says 88. “Excuse me?” “The vag,” he says, clarifying, as in vagina. “I got this word from God: this is what your album’s gonna be about. Get to work, my child.” So it is written, so it shall be. Adam, a cautionary tale about a man who takes the “hit it and quit it” philosophy too far and reaches his titular demise, challenges the listener both musically and conceptually. Tracks like the Kanye West-assisted “Stay Up (Viagra)” recall the ’90s horn-drenched production of Pete Rock, yet the scope of the album includes genres—psychedelic rock, sunny pop, modern rock—previously untested by the artist. “I didn’t want to make a ‘typical producer’s’ album,” says Keys. “I spent a lot of time listening to [Hi-Tek’s] Hi-Teknology, [Pete Rock’s] Petestrumentals and [J. Dilla’s] Donuts. I love, love, love those albums, but I honed in on what I didn’t like about each of them and tried to apply that to my own. I knew I didn’t want a strictly compilation or instrumental album.” YOU HAVE NO FAITH IN MEDICINE Adam is an album that, had 88 taken his parents’ career advice, might never have existed. The son of Cameroonian nurses and brother to a doctor, Keys was pressured early on to pursue a career in medicine. But for the teenager, beats always trumped heartbeats. (“I set up my life early so that I had no other option but to do music to survive,” he says matter-of-factly.) Born and raised in the Bronx URB.com
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“Things had slowed down for me a lot in the game. I still produced every day, but the industry wasn’t too kind to me,” recalls the self-confessed eternal optimist. “I was definitely in my valley. Looking back, I know it wasn’t in God’s design [to blow up yet]. We hadn’t gotten to that part of the script, but I think things are coming full circle now. Back when the Neptunes and Lil Jon hit, I didn’t start making keyboard beats and 808s with the claps. I always stayed on some Tribe or De La Soul shit. That’s my mentality to this day.” In recent years, though, the landscape has unquestionably shifted in Keys’ favor. Throwback rap. Renaissance rap. Whatever you call it, the mainstream infiltration of what was formerly delegated to a smaller “backpacker” community has been full swing in recent years. “If I had to coin it, I’d say it was ‘Tribe Vibe.’ My whole shit has been like, man, I fuck with Tribe Called Quest. That’s the music that changed my life, and I always had a feeling that if I stuck to my guns, my talent would be recognized.” Says J-Live over the phone: “His sound is classy. Not just classic, but classy. Like well-dressed music: athletic and comfortable, but very sharp in an ‘I need to look good dancing’ sorta way. He makes rough and rugged [sound] crisp and clear.” ASHES TO ASHES, DUST TO DUST In 2006, a British label contacted the producer via MySpace in an effort to license a few songs. So began the birth of The Death of Adam. Though that deal would eventually fall through, it re-ignited a newfound creativity in the producer, who originally planned Adam as a 20-track (plus) odyssey whose story would be mainly told through the beat’s style and vocal samples. With the help of executive producer and longtime friend Kanye West, the project evolved from beat CD to polymorphous style-hopper. Drawing from the worlds of rock (Shitake Monkey), soul (Bilal, J*DaVeY) and hip-hop (Redman, Little Brother’s before moving to West Hempstead, Long Island, at 13, Keys grew up in a strict, heavily religious family that helped him form a strong devotion to God that lasts to this day. When asked about certain life decisions and career moves, Keys frequently refers to “God’s plan” for him. Walking through West Hempstead as a teenager, the producer stumbled upon a building with various luxury cars parked outside. On a whim, he went inside, “thinking it was some Mafia shit,” only to discover the Music Palace, a recording studio that has produced everyone from Busta Rhymes and LL Cool J to Nas and Mobb Deep. After landing an internship at the famed studio, the budding beatmaker worked his way up to assistant engineer, spending virtually all his free time trying to master whatever equipment was available. “The co-owner told me, ‘If you’re gonna learn anything here, the most important thing is the Akai MPC 3000.’ I didn’t even know what it was. It just looked like a prop from Star Wars. I wanted my beats to sound like DJ Premier’s as much as possible. I wound up staying there ’til five in the morning trying to figure out the damn thing.” After selling the very first MPC beat he produced, Keys started building up his toolbox, adding an ASR-10 (on the advice of Pharoahe Monch) to his Akai S950. It was in his Long Island basement, at
the age of 21, where classics such as Black Star’s “Thieves in the Night” were born. At the time, though, familial and cultural clashes were threatening to derail the producer’s career before it started. Frequent fights over his future eventually led to young Charles being tossed from his parents’ home. But the Lord works in mysterious ways. “My parents kicking me out was the absolute best thing they’ve done since birthing me,” says 88. “I didn’t have a dime to my name. My mother gave me a week to find a place, but for some reason, something was telling me not to panic. That’s how I live my life to this day. I just try to be the best person that I can be and put everything else in God’s hands. But I didn’t know this at the time.” Atheists take heed: within 48 hours of receiving the eviction notice, the producer was fielding calls from Mos Def and J-Live asking for beats which would eventually land on Black on Both Sides and The Best Part, respectively. Based mainly on the strengths of those projects, the beginning of the decade saw the producer steadily hustling beats, working with everyone from Beanie Sigel (“Watch Your Bitches”) to Musiq (“Babygirl,” “Dontstop,” “Her”). But with the Dirty South’s popularity, thug bravado rap, trap music and squelchy synths, soul men like our protagonist had more optimism than opportunity.
“My parents kicking me out was the absolute best thing they’ve done since birthing me.”
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We all remember our first.. Some of those firsts are bigger than others, but the majority of lifeâ€™s debuts are always memorable. URB rounded up some of our favorite artists for their premier excursions into every corner of life. From the strip club to acid trips, heartbreak to drum machines, these are those stories.
MY FIRST STRIP CLUB
Kool Keith gets truly alien by figuring out how to keep the strippers off his lap
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MY FIRST DRUM MACHINE Tim Simenon of Bomb the Bass It was a track called "Being Boiled" by The Human League that triggered the inspiration to buy my first drum machine—an early generation Dr. Rhythm. About the same time, I also bought my first synthesizer, which was the monophonic Yamaha CS-01. I then set out to recreate the "Being Boiled" beat, as well as the noise at the beginning of the track, which I later discovered on the CS-01 was called "white noise." I love that sound! Even though what you could do with the Dr. Rhythm was limited with regards to the programming of the machine, it was a very good starting point and the experience gave me a taste of what could be done with a drum box and that was when I began to save up for my next drum machine, the Roland TR-808!
MY FIRST PLACEMENT Loyalty versus commerce plays out in the sale of Black Milk’s first production
MY FIRST REMIX Master mixtaper DJ Benzi speaks on his debut blend “My first remix to blow up was a re-working of Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It.” I was working on a project in 2004 when The Game’s “How We Do” was huge, and I noticed not only were the two songs similarly titled but they also sounded perfect mashed together. That’s how I do it.”
The first beat I sold was on Slum’s Trinity album—it was called “What Is This.” Me, T3 and Young RJ were all sitting in a room, going through beats. . .but I had some songs at the end of the CD of this group that I was in called Ten Speed and Brownstone. T3 bobbed his heads to all the beats, but you could tell his reaction to [the eventual “What Is This”] beat was more hype. He tried to play it off; he looked like he didn’t want to ask me at first. He was just playing the song a couple times, and he gave me that look, like, “Dog, I need this.” At first I was like, “Naw, that’s my group’s song.” Then a couple of days passed and I thought about it. I was like, “Fuck it, I’mma sell the beat.” I got like $700 for it. That’s where it all started.” as told to William E Ketchum III
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MY FIRST DRUM CIRCLE The director of Boredom’s famed 88 Boadrum event, Hisham Bharoocha was wowed by the mania I really don’t remember ever playing a jam with a bunch of Djembe drummers. I didn’t live in the States during high school, so maybe I never experienced that, for better or worse. I have played drum kits with other people before. The first time I did that was when I was playing in this band Pixeltan. It was a loft show and we decided to play part of our sets together as one mega-group. If you haven’t seen Brian Chippendale play drums, he is a maniac power drummer. His arms look like a cartoon drawing of hands turning into blurred lines, super fast and unbelievably loud. His stamina is like a race horse, he can play forever. And I mean forever. We both played kit drums and the two bassists from each band played their instruments, but all I remember is that it turned into a tribal dance party. The show was totally packed. I remember the feeling of “I want to die I can’t keep up with this volume” when I was playing. Brian was just too powerful of a drummer to play along with, but I survived.
MY FIRST PRODUCTION LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy asks how super smart dudes can make such a dumb band It was at an 8-track studio in Manhattan. I went with Dung Beetle, which is my all time favorite band. The bass player was Nick Butterworth, who is the guy who went on to run Rock The Vote and Sonic Net and MTV and all that stuff. The drummer was Bruce Cooley, who went on to be a big man at FEMA and then disappeared. The guitar player was Rob Reynolds. He is a painter and super genius and super smart dude. It basically was a band of super smart dudes who were possibly the dumbest band I’ve ever seen.
MY FIRST SAMPLER Discussing fruity loops with Eliot Lipp After years of making loops with a dual-cassette recorder, my BFF Jeff finally got this Roland MS-1 in ‘95. We figured out how to use it pretty fast, but before long, Jeff felt restricted by its limitations and coughed up the money for an Akai MPC 2000. I inherited the MS-1 and have embraced its simplicity ever since. My whole first album was made using the MS-1. The sound on that record came mostly from me running around San Francisco with a mini-disk recorder, jacking samples from listening stations and my friends’ record collections. At this point, it has become a bit of a novelty in my studio, but I still use it to get that classic grimy sound. URB.com
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MY FIRST MORPHINE Head Like A Kite’s naked dispair Why is it that most of my “first times” seem to involve nudity? My introduction to morphine upped the ante by mixing in humiliation with full-frontal exposure. But I’m getting ahead of myself. In the spring of 1999, I was the #1 ranked pro-am Northwest road bicycle racer, which led to a cushy mountain-bike racing sponsorship. But all that ended abruptly while racing down a fast descent, when I collided with another racer, breaking my collarbone and plummeting to the dirt trail so hard that my helmet broke in half. The last thing I heard was my collarbone snapping—a crushing sound more thunderous than any John Bonham “When the Levy Breaks” drum mashup. An ambulance crew arrived immediately, and fearing I might have a broken back, they filled me with morphine and cut off my bike shorts and jersey with scissors to inspect my now naked body. I’m not sure what hurt more—my shoulder or my pride, as I lay naked in front of the spectators while the crew slowly scooped me up and put me on a stretcher. I’m sprawled out on the race course for all to see and they cut off my clothes! I mean, didn’t someone think of at least shading me with a blanket? It was like Paramedics Gone Wild.
MY FIRST "WE THE BEST!!!" DJ Khaled ponders the first utterance of his infamous catchphrase “[In 2007], Rick Ross and I were just talking about working on different projects and him working on his album and I was working on my album and the shit we’re accomplishing, shit we wanna do. And we were just having a conversation like, bluntly, you know, saying this vibe in the studio, and after he said all that stuff I was like, ‘We the best.’”
MY FIRST WEED “First time? Shiiiiit...I smoke so much I don’t remember who I smoked with last week!!! Damn.” - The Alchemist
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MY FIRST FAVORITE BOOK
Nathan Willett of Cold War Kids
The fi rst book I read from Kurt Vonnegut was “God Bless You Mr. Rosewater.” It was the fi rst novel that inspired me to think critically of both conservative and liberal governments and the flaws that both sides have. It’s also inspired me a lot in the last year of constant candidate information. In our new record, there are a lot of different tensions existing in the different characters. One of the central ideas is that there are two different types of characters. There is the artist who wants to break free, but is constrained by being a public servant working in a more institutionalized setting. The opposite
MY FIRST PUNCH “I was a little kid. I jumped out of the tree because he was fighting my homeboy. I punched him, he cries and says he’s going to tell his motherfucking big brother. I had nunchucks because I was into some Bruce Lee shit back then. I came back swinging the nunchucks and big brother was like ‘Oh, OK.’” _Crooked I
is a person working in a more free, artistic setting who wants to give back to the people around him, but doesn’t really know how to do it. That kind of theme is a big one on the record, but it really came from that Kurt Vonnegut book, which is a lot really about the flaws that all governments have, and the flaws of conservatism and liberalism. It’s about the most basic form, that humans need to be caring and loving regardless of what the government is. as told to Lysette Simmons / photo by Matt Wignall
MY FIRST VOTE
Tittsworth was a former Bush baby “I actually voted Bush his fi rst time around. It was all about lower taxes to me. On all of the other major issues, I was clearly Democratic. Flash forward a decade later and I would experience many things that would make me question taxes less (and big business more). Recently, I spent several hours on YouTube collecting funny John McCain clips to drop throughout my new DJ mix, The John McCain Experience. I try to stick to the issues, but his blunders are so numerous and painful, they’re really hard to ignore. All i can say is vote Obama, bamas.” Download The John McCain Experience mix on URB.COM/PODCASTS
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MY FIRST GUITAR
This isn't Lilith Fair strumming from Marnie Stern, Kill Rock Star’s latest rock star My first guitar was a foam green Dan Electro Japanese reissue. It was my first electric and I had saved up a few hundred dollars from my day job to buy it. I had heard that the girls from Sleater-Kinney played on Dan Electros and so the guitar store owner suggested the reissue because it was within my budget. I still use it. It’s twangy and tinny and the high treble works great for single plucked notes, which I use a lot in my songs. It reminds me of the first few years I spent learning how to play the guitar while sitting in my East Village apartment in NYC. I don’t clean my guitars very much and the other day I was thinking that the fingerprints left on the fretboard are the imprints of my very young hands. The pickups stopped working for a while so I read a manual on the internet and I opened it up and soddered the wires back together. It worked for a while, and I felt like a real badass. But when it broke again I had to take it into a shop. When the guy opened it up and looked at it he said: “Did a blind person work on this guitar?”
MY FIRST VOTE
Mr. Lif breaks his voter booth veto My fi rst time voting was in 2004. I felt it was so important to keep G.W. Bush from getting a second term that I shed my cynicism about the voting process and fi nally visited the polls. My theory about voting wasn’t much different than the typical cop out theory many people use (“Voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil.”). As has been evident in my music, I don’t agree with many of the ideals upon which our government is based. I didn’t feel like any politicians were worth anything, and really, my participation in the 2004 elections wasn’t indicative of a belief in John Kerry as much as it was a realization that America would continue to spin into oblivion under G.W. Bush’s leadership. As for this election, I am once again called into action to fight against the possibility of more Republican leadership. Barack Obama represents
a level of professionalism and power on the world stage that is not regularly associated with the black community. He is already projecting more positivity than I’ve witnessed from any politician just by demonstrating professionalism and the image of a strong black family to the public. All that being said, he is a politician, and I will never fully surrender my trust to any of them. Regardless of who is elected, my agenda will remain the same. Read, learn, study, spit fi re at the government, build with the people, remain raw.
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MY FIRST RAVE
Before E took over, members of U2 were smoking hash in Scotland, at The Glass’ first all-night affair Dominique: Voodoo (Dublin c. 1989) was Dublin’s first acid house night at Club McGonagles. I used to throw all format/retro club nights at the same spot for teenagers so I could get in for free even though I was under age. Everyone was on acid (except me) because it was before E’s became easy to get and it was a really good small party. Download The Glass DJ mixes @ URB.COM/PODCASTS
Glen: Sides DC (Dublin c. 1990) was where you went to hear the great mixture of music that occurred just before house became the universal club sound. Hip-hop, acid, Detroit techno, ragga, disco,early drum n’ bass/hardcore/ breakbeat. Mick Hucknall (Simply Red) was dancing with the rest of the crowd. Adam Clayton (bassist U2) was busted smoking hash. Eventually rave took over and the place got out of control with dealers and cops. Still, every time I sit down to make a track, I measure it up against something I heard in that era.
MY FIRST CONCORDE TRIP Sasha takes a ride on Air Trance
The first time I flew The Concorde was in 1998 when John [Digweed] and I were playing all night at Twilo in New York for our residency and we had to play Homelands in England after our set on the same day! Homelands was the biggest electronic festival at the time, which happened at the start of summer, so we really didn’t want to miss it. So we pushed the promoter to pay for the Concorde (which wasn’t too hard to convince), which was a delight in itself. As soon as we boarded The Concorde they served us champagne and cavier, but we completely missed it, as it was the only time we could sleep before the festival. To be honest, it could’ve been an eight hour flight, and I wouldn’t have noticed the difference. I definitely felt the difference from being 60,000 feet up in the air versus 30,000 feet. The odd thing was, The Concorde itself isn’t much wider than a SUV with a lane down the middle. It was surprising to see how small it was. It was quite spectacular getting across the world in such quick timing. I just wish it was still going. There are so many shows I missed because I can’t get across the ocean that quickly anymore! 74 | URB.com
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MY FIRST MOMENT OF CLARITY Mobb Deep’s Prodigy recalls the evil as he pens a letter from prison—raw, real and unedited (...continued from left) This one book didn’t make me see it all, no it was the combination of other things I’ve read, studied, seen and experienced. “Leviathan 666” just helped connect all of the dots to make me see it’s all real... Dr. York has since been set up by the FBI and Illuminati players and is now serving 135 years in a federal prison. His own son, “Jacob York,” who was deep in the rap business back in ‘96 orchestrated the entire set up. Africa Bambatta and Prodigy are the only two famous rappers who speak for Dr. York and know he’s innocent. Jay-Z and Jaz-O were both raised (in their teenage years) in Dr. York’s Nuwabian community in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Look at JazO’s “Originator” video and you’ll see them holding up Dr. York’s pictures, wearing his garb and f lashing his symbols. Jay-Z knows the truth, but he chose sides with evil in order to be accepted in the corporate world. Jay-Z conceals the truth from the black community and the world and promotes the lifestyle of the beast instead. I am revealing some astonishing information if people will just do a little research and see. Prodigy, Dr .York, and Africa Bombatta are the truth. Jay-Z is a goddamn lie. I have so much fire in my heart that I will relentlessly attack Jay-Z, the Illuminati and every other evil that exists until my lights are put out. Which is damn near impossible cause my power in the streets is incredible. I fear nothing and no one. I’m fearless cause the truth has set me free 76 | URB.com
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MY FIRST GROWN MAN HAT Even if he’s not lacking hip-hop stature, Hollywood Holt is a tiny dude. So what’s the secret to the Chicago MC’s rap game command? Maybe it’s his hyperbolic energy or maybe it’s all in the hat. Just don’t expect dude to be rockin’ a fitted. “[Diamond Jims] are well made hats. Grown man hats. When I was 14, my dad got me a Sadora first. A black one and it was real nice. He would tell me that if you get a well made hat then it will last forever. It got fitted to my head and still fits. I like spending money on quality things. I collect hats. As I got older I didn’t like the Sadora look. One day I went into the hat store and they had a shorter brimmed hat. I have a small head. I found the Diamond Jim and it has a short top and diamond shape to the head. You can wear it with anything. I love it. I started collecting those; the first one I got was in Texas. Now I have like 12 of them. I can wear it with a suit or t-shirt and shorts. You can wear them dressy or not dressy. They can be stepped on and it will still be good.” as told to La’Juanda Knight photography by Andreas Larsson
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MY FIRST BATTLE
Charles Hamilton meditates profoundly on self-control and the futility of machismo
was trash. So I knew it, and I knew I was better than them, but it was about getting through their ego, you know what I mean? ‘Cracking that Teflon vest called The Ego that these niggas had. So it was at Rice High School and basically the dude had a bunch of pre-written shit, so I basically had a conversation, explaining to him why his verse was trash, why if he’s a hustler, why he’s wasting time being in a Catholic School...like I was using conversation and people were bugggin’ out, cuz I was like breaking down like why it doesn’t make sense: if such and such can gain you this much income...Like muhfucka, stay in the streets for all that...And I lost that battle because I didn’t talk about guns and I didn’t have ‘em hyped. It was just like ‘Oh shit, like he really just insulted this dude’s whole gangsta candor.’ And they respected that. So, my first battle I lost, but now, I’ll make you wanna kill me. Believe that. I don’t think people wanna battle me.” as told to Michael Vazquez
“My first battle? I was the underdog; I was dressing waaaay more preppy than I am now. And my friends were always like—cuz they knew I rapped—they was like ‘Yo, man, you spit! What the fuck you scared to rap for?’ And the dudes that were considered the spitters were just absolute garbage, like these dudes
MY FIRST RHYME
Joe Budden’s brand of Mood Muzik had to have its genesis somewhere. Here, he talks about those first few bars. I don’t remember exactly what I said. I remember I was 14, and I was really high with my friends. I was just trying to be funny. We were thinking of things to say to try to humiliate one another. I wasn’t influenced by any particular rapper; I was just motivated by holding my ground around other people. So my first rhyme was essentially a battle rap. as told to Amorn Bholsangngam
"The first time that I can remember conscious experiencing racism was when i asked my grandmother, 'Why is Jesus white?' and she just said, 'He just is.'" - Killer Mike
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MYMANYFIRSTS Nicole and Natalie wrote their first song when the identical twins were just 7 years old and obviously titled it, "Sisters." Together, as Nina Sky, they prep their sophomore album—which will feature everyone from Rick Ross to Sean Paul—and get lackadasical on their backin-the-day cycle. What’s the first rule of getting along? Nicole: Our mom raised us to be really close. Our relationship is natural. We don’t even think about it. Natalie: No, I have a rule. You can’t fart around me. We don’t get along if she farts around me. Nicole: Except the other day she broke her own rule. We’re sitting next to each other and I hear this noise, and I’m like Natalie, you broke your own rule. And she was like, “Oh my god, I didn’t realize I farted.” So that’s her first fart too.
What was you first fight? Nicole: We have different stories, but I remember one time we were in our first apartment in Queens and we were wrestling on the bed, and I knocked Natalie’s tooth out. My brother was filming it. And he was like, “How do you feel?” And she was like, “This is very…interesting.” And walked away crying. First time you went to a club? Nicole: We were 16. Our brother used to have a lot of pull at clubs, because he used to promote and DJ. We went to Tunnel, Limelight, Exit, like all these clubs when they were poppin’. Natalie: Our mom would tell us the only way we could go out was with our brother. So we’d leave, go down the block, then I’d go my way, Nicole would go her way, he would go his. And whenever he was coming back from the club, say 5 o clock in the morning, we’d all meet up, go home, like, ‘great time tonight ma!’ Who was your first celebrity crush? Nicole: My first crush was on Angelina Jolie. Natalie: Our room was filled with posters. Angelina Jolie, The New York Liberty, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, The Backstreet Boys, Biggie.
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How was your first kiss? Nicole: I don’t remember my first kiss. I was notorious for kissing boys so I don’t even remember the first one I kissed. First grade player, yeah. Boyfriends, lots of boyfriends. Natalie: I was in fifth grade, cut lunch recess and played spin the plastic fork in the staircase. So I thought it was going to be a tap kiss but he put his tongue in my mouth and I was like “What?! It was supposed to be on the lips!” I was disgusted. It was terrible. I didn’t know what to do. What was your first tattoo? Nicole: My first tattoo was a sun that I regretted so much. The world will never see. It’s ugly. The way that they did it, it was like inside of it was shaded black, but the way it was shaded black, it has the Batman symbol in it. So I have a sun on my lower back with a Batman symbol on it. But I’ll leave it there forever because it’s my first tattoo. Who has good first tattoo stories? Especially when you’re 16.
By Daiana Feuer Photography by Curran Sympson Makeup: Jamie Harper Hair: Maisha Oliver Stylist: Charlie Altuna & Jany Natalie: Top by Diesel, skirt by Maggie Barry, jewelry by Cubannie Links Nicole: dress by English Clientele
MY FIRST HEARTBREAK Heartbreak singer Sebastian Muravchik reminisces on a muse lost “I was 13 and didn’t know how to talk to girls. I couldn’t express my feelings of teenage love—a sentimentalization of maddening sexual desire. One night at a classmate’s house party, I got very lucky. The image of her naked body stayed with me for as long as sex remained a crippling obsession in my life (about eight years). I did touch her but was so excited I couldn’t feel my hands. I remember tears almost falling out of my shaking eyes sockets, but mostly I remember being numbed by the experience, not being able to feel my body. “At school on Monday she said, “You’re very sweet,” which in teenage dialect means “I don’t ever want to see you again.” I am not sure she even meant she was leaving me, but we didn’t talk again. I just looked at her from a distance and imagined being with her. A few weeks later I started my first band.” URB.com
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11/4/08 8:53:28 AM
The Renaissance 4 stars
(Universal/Motown) After two aborted follow-ups to 1999’s Amplified, a pop-heavy and divisive solo debut, the nasal wordsmith finally delivers on the promise of Kamaal the Abstract and Open’s shelved curiosities with a concise collection of feel-good jams. The fact that Amplified disgusted fans of Q-Tip’s seminal work with A Tribe Called Quest at the time (it has since gained hallowed ground on the martrydom of J Dilla) is another story all together. The highlight of The Renaissance’s swinging 42-minute soul session comes near the start with the Mark Ronson-produced “Won’t Trade.” A Chicago piano-hall group dance perfectly sets up the MC’s mono-rhythmic intricacies, finding the often-conflicted rapper comfortable in his own niche and high on the hip-hop life. The track bleeds with precision into J Dilla’s R&B-flavored “Gettin’ Up,” a fun, confident flesh tale that’s sexy enough to excuse Tip’s fire-dousing “We’re like Ruby Dee and Ossie” visual. As expected, when the sole focus lies on Q-Tip without the aid of guest stars—featured vocalists Norah Jones, Raphael Saadiq and D’Angelo keep mostly to the chorus—there’s a looming threat of lethargy permeating The Renaissance. “You,” “Fight/Love” and “Dance On Glass” settle into a quiet-storm flow that sounds more like a post-coital nap than the rest of the outing’s candlelit-loving vibe; but they’re well spaced-out. Dilla’s tracks, and the revitalized Q-Tip who accompanies them, fall in line at the right moments and propel the rest of The Renaissance to the kind of Harlemnights lushness found on Tip-cohort Common’s Be. The Renaissance showcases a Q-Tip ready for grown man status. He’s more relaxed on the mic than ever and whereas Amplified couched its crossover in psych-jazz high-mindedness, Tip and his producers seem to be at peace here, delivering an accessible, appealing and, maybe more importantly, releasable set of tracks. by Justin Strout photography by Danny Clinch
CD REVIEWS PG.84
Black Milk, DJ/rupture, Kool Keith, Deerhunter, Eagles of Death Metal, Jake One, Johnson & Johnson, Kid Sister, Shiny Toy Guns, The Sea and Cake, Wild Beasts
Robin Thicke, Telepathe, Cam’ron, The Kills, Le Le
Al Green Live, No Age, Flaming Lips sci-fi
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11/5/08 11:31:21 AM
ALBUMS YOU NEED TO KNOW
“The Dazzled” become integral to the ’60s sunshine swing pulsing through “Prismatic Room.” Dig deeper with this one, and soundtrack your next midnight séance: dripping candles, opium clouds and a roomful of heavy eyes— drugged-out swagger seldom sounds so charming. Ben Ziltowski DEERHUNTER Microcastle
BLACK MILK Tronic
(Fat Beats) Black Milk does what a lot of producers think they can do: rap. Thing is, dude raps well, especially over his own Motor City audio mechanics. His rhymes may not blow your mind, but they won’t make your head hurt either, and not fucking up an album can actually go a long way to cementing its success. When things don’t align for Black Milk, the MC, he’s likely trying too hard to check each box on the trad-rap thematic checklist. The unremarkable relationship trouble track, “Without U,” and music-love-dedication joint, “Bond 4 Life,” are, at best, predictable. That said, visits from Pharoahe Monch, Sean Price and Royce Da 5’9” go a long way to showing how well a clean-up-hitter spitter can knock one of Tronic’s speaker-box knockers out the park. And on beat-bangers like “Bounce,” “Hold It Down” and “Give The Drummer Sum,” Black thrives on his own, finding strength in lyrical risktaking that ultimately makes the Milk name ring thicker and sweeter than ever before. Alex Dwyer BLUE SKY BLACK DEATH Slow Burning Lights
(Babygrande) BSBD’s prolific instrumentality has yielded seven studio releases in just over two years. Mellow vs. mellow is the mood game that BSBD plays, and Slow Burning Lights is no different. Even so, cats used to hearing their electro-swoon as a backdrop for raps from Hell Razah, Jean Grae and Holocaust may be thrown here. Singer Yes Alexander fills
an Enya-like role throughout, using her passion-dripped and mostly unintelligible words as instruments rather than the means for a message. As for consistency, this album has it in spades, yet the moments where BSBD steps up the pace are where Yes shines most. “Tokyo Underground” affords her a rare opportunity to be clearly heard, moving hand-in-hand with a progressive rhythm that avoids the usual baggage. On “Once Away,” BSBD’s Kingston and Young God tinker with plucked guitar and electro-twinkle, leaving space for Yes to deliver. If you’re looking for variety, prepare to be lulled to sleep. If not. . .well, no harm in keeping that pillow handy. Alex Dwyer
(Kranky) The key word in the title of Deerhunter’s third album is “micro.” Here, the mad musical savant otherwise known as Bradford Cox spends extra time focusing on the nuances of the Atlanta crew’s warped sonic prowess—their considerably dark take on spiraling indie pop. For fans, it may be too much of a mixed bag, lacking as it does the lurking aggressiveness and forced blasts of noise that D-Hunter is known for. Still, Microcastle doesn’t stray far from the second half of 2007 breakthrough Cryptograms, and instead represents a refining of that lilting creepiness that Cox continues to swath his vocals in. Those with a strong affinity for Liars, a more ascetic band that Deerhunter has weathered endless comparisons to, may not embrace Microcastle, but the album should be up the alley of anyone who fancies multi-layered, feathery psych-pop (see “Little Kids”) or even scratchy Krautrock (“Nothing Ever Happened”). The ’Hunter may not have bagged a 14-point buck this time around, but Microcastles is still good enough to stuff and mount on the wall. Chris Pacifico
CRYSTAL STILTS Alight of Night
(Slumberland) The aptly titled debut by Crystal Stilts, Alight of Night, is so deeply steeped in the ghosts of ’50s twang, spooky surf rock and unhinged vocals that to play it during daylight hours feels almost unlawful. The sulky tenor of singer Brad Hargett will undoubtedly be compared to Ian Curtis’ irreverent gloom, although the vocals here serve more as mood-defining drone than doomed provocation. Aesthetically, Crystal Stilts seem to exist somewhere between the reverberating vapors of the Jesus & Mary Chain and the brash lo-fi of rockabilly punks Black Lips. Deceptively primitive-sounding, Alight of Night is the definition of a “grower”—individual songs can seem bored with themselves the moment they begin. But listen to the album as cohesive piece, and the four minutes of tambourine shake on
(The Agriculture) With his first release since being repatriated to Brooklyn after half a decade in Barcelona, Jace Clayton’s Uproot traverses the scope of global musical sophistication he’s tread since his genre smashing Gold Teeth Thief (just find it son), but with a tempo far more becoming of his emerging stature as as a godfather to whom Diplo and Co. should be forever beholden to. With the erratic pace of a kangaroo on rocket-powered ice-skates, the austere vibrations on Ghislain Poirier’s “Ignadjossi” should
knock Third World dust out of remote speaker crevices. Conversely, the clean and docile beat on Atki2’s “Winter Buds” would make an ideal soundtrack to sashimi eaten on transparent tables. Rupture’s audio pinballing isn’t always successful however as Jenny Jones’ slow-paced “Capilano Bridge” is sloppily placed in the mostly uptempo album’s center. But even with the occasional miss, the nearviolent style-hopping is more than welcome where Rupture is concerned. But the prodigal son has spun on five continents and catalyzed the threeturntable party set, so it’s a relief that he’s able to explicate his exploits on wax at home. Paul Glanting
Dr. DoOom Dr. Dooom 2
(Threshold) Paired with the proper producer, the quirky Kool Keith has little difficulty churning out classics, and Kut Masta Kurt has definitely been the guiding hand behind at least a few of those. For their newest collaboration, the duo revives Keith’s Dr. Dooom alter-ego, a B-movie mix of mad scientist and cannibalistic killer, to once again regulate on his most infamous other ego, Dr. Octagon. From the gate, Keith is in full Doc Dooom mode: stalking chicks, cutting up corpses and decimating the dorks devastating the music business—people like Simon Cowell (“Simon”), rappers with stale subject matter (“StepN-Fetchers”), fans and industry folks who won’t let Dr. Octagon die (“R.I.P. Dr. Octagon”), and media pundits who take advantage of their position to the detriment of artists (“Always Talkin’ Out Your Ass”). Kurt’s production backslides a bit toward the sounds of their prior Diesel Truckers collaboration, although he does stick with the crunching drums and creeping horrorcore samples that gave First Come, First Served its dark, demented vibe. While almost as good as that first Dooom album, only time will tell if this sequel can become another timeless classic in the Kool Keith catalog. Thomas Quinlan
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11/5/08 11:12:10 AM
eagles of death metal Heart On
(Huume) In the club, everything glows black-light purple and the many bobbing faces are frozen with pursed lips. The international DJ of the week with an unpronounceable name has his bag of tricks and he just might, at any minute, pull out a platter that’s a veritable arsenal of anthemic vocals and riffs. In fact, he might pull out Convivial. But Luomo’s fourth album cuts techno 101 cheesecake into nine palpable slices, thematically reaching real depths through shallow waters and abstractions thereof. “Slow Dying Places,” for example, regards experiential despair: “So hard to be alone/ So hardcore.” The song then answers those fearsome feelings with, “All is not black/Maybe it’s sad,” repeated enough times that the listener begins believing the sun will shine again, summoned by Johanna Iivanainen, whose accented gentility peppers the album. “Have you Ever?” conjures eternity broken down into simple terms: “Have you ever had the time to wonder?” which is broken further into a million echoing pieces. “If I Can’t,” featuring Jake Shears of Scissors Sisters, is flowery in both the perfumed and sexual senses of the term—think bees spreading flower semen around the world. “Love You All” would be the raison d’être for an apiary gang, their love song, dropping lines like, “What if I want to love you all?/ Don’t want to waste your beauty, aw.” With every track clocking in at about seven minutes, Convivial may fulfill not only the needs of the insatiable dancefloor, but the wants of those looking for relief of daily life’s mundanities. Daiana Feuer
THE DEARS Missiles
(Dangerbird) From its aureate silences to its soaring harmonies, the Dears’ latest effort, Missiles, is a true testament to meticulous sonic invention. Theirs is a careful patience that even extends to the album’s method of release (it was finished in April, but held back until the band could find the right distributor). When The Dears make an album, they truly care, and here, their attention to detail manifests as a dream-like hour of textured synths wooing bare acoustics. Missiles takes on myriad themes, with the spirit of rebirth and renewal overarching all. The album is slower than previous releases, supposedly “paced for love making, because that really makes everything better.” One thing is for sure; every song is equal parts soothing and wrenching, with Natalia Yanchak’s increased vocal contribution adding a healthy degree of intrigue and eerie beauty (her onalbum relationship with Murray Lightburn nearly rivals that of the Arcade Fire’s core duo), Missiles is defined by its bluesiness. The lyrics in “Lights Off” conjure a deep-seated loneliness, while the railroad chug mimicked on “Crisis 1 & 2” hints at the long road that leads to a sense of belonging. Meanwhile, the title track exemplifies the overall sound—sweet, unembellished notes working themselves up into an emotional and aural crescendo. The album culminates in “Savior” where chants, church organ, and a children’s chorus gives the final song, and hence Missiles itself, a feeling of absolution. Lysette Simmons
(Downtown) Eagles of Death Metal fulfill the checklist of rock ’n’ roll awesomeness like few other bands these days: 1) each member has a bad-ass nickname; 2) they rock full-chord “open D” tuning; 3) they’re homies with Dave Grohl and Jack Black; and 4) in honor of third album, Heart On, they now have their own heart-shaped pancakes on the Denny’s menu. But Eagles’ secret might not be a secret at all; the band, not unlike the girls they famously court (on record, at least), just likes to have fun. Considering the success of 2006’s Death By Sexy, EoDM faces a seriously raised bar. Maybe that’s why Jesse “Boots Electric” Hughes and Josh “Babyduck” Homme wrangle an extensive posse (including Brody “Queen Bee” Dalle and Kat Von D) to raise some hell again. Heart On is decidedly less lo-fi than previous releases, but the boys don’t travel far from their amphetamine-fueled, blues-based, hand-clapping signature sound. However, EoDM lovers might catch a little something new on tracks like “(I Used To Couldn’t Dance) Tight Pants,” with its talk-box guitar effects, and “Now I’m A Fool,” which flirts with a Hawaiian slide. Aside from that, it’s killer drums and catchy blues progressions that won’t take “no” for an answer. Get your sleazy dance on at a greasy bar with a PBR. Lysette Simmons
free blood The Singles
(Rong/DFA) Upon listening to the sweaty, slow-burn of Free Blood’s standout, “Royal Family,” one might envision a team of dead-white, blackeyed cheerleaders violently bleacher-stomping through all manner of nightmares. Former !!! singer John Pugh announces, “I can taste the blood in your mouth,” while fashion designer Madeline Davy begs, “To whom do you pledge allegiance?” Together, the Rong/ DFA duo of Pugh and Davy delve into a disheveled, occasionally sinister, and more often infectious new cross-breed of leftfield dance, art-damaged funk and early ’80s disco. And while their sound fills nearly all current DFA prerequisites, there is something deeply
deeply confrontational guiding Free Blood that eludes their peers. Chalk it up to overblown creativity or downright boredom, but these two seem to revel in recklessly careening through their influences at break-neck speed. Blinding vocal shards and carcrash electric guitar blend with baritone sax moans and stark, shambled beats. Unfortunately, after six mightily exciting originals, the disc wanders into remix territory. While the seminal Manchester disco DJ Greg Wilson successfully takes a hand remixing FB’s “Grumpy,” the other handful are borderline immemorable. No huge consequence though as Free Blood’s own tracks are plenty sultry—ample food for you to sharpen your teeth on. Ben Ziltowski
Sebastien grainger Sabastien Grainger and The Mountains
(Saddle Creek) Don’t expect an acoustic, folky, whine-about-my-feelings record from Sebastien Granger just because he’s signed with Saddle Creek now (remember, they’ve been home to a fairly diverse crowd, including Cursive, The Faint, and Spoon). And let’s just get this over with now: yes, Grainger is best known as drumming/ singing half of Death From Above 1979. However, Sebastien Grainger and The Mountains represents the next stop on Grainger’s artistic journey; a departure from the sexy dance-punk of DFA that moves towards a catchy, rock-heavy sound. This album isn’t quite as infectious as You’re A Woman, I’m a Machine, but who cares? Grainger didn’t make it for DFA fans. In fact, his ideal number one fan has probably never heard of DFA. The first track, “Love Can Be So Mean,” introduces some of the melodic elements that characterize the album overall. Synths still get to party postDFA, but they share the dance floor with acoustics this time. Grainger’s drums serve as the album’s backbone, but the guitar truly fleshes out the sound. “Niagra” was recorded on a night of heavy drinking, and we can thank Grainger’s girlfriend for convincing him to put it on the album. Aside, Grainger’s lyrics are largely introspective, though he still sings them loudly. Expect a slew of remixes to start popping up. Likely tracks are “Who Do We Care For?” and “Renegade Silence” (which features his side project, The Rhythm Method). Grainger plans to change the image of each future release, so it will be interesting to see where he takes his music next. Lysette Simmons
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11/5/08 11:13:12 AM
Kid SISTER Dream Date
japanese motors Japanese Motors
(Vice) Japanese Motors are a refreshing treat to spur out of Orange County, seeing to it that the bulk of bands stemming their geographic proximity are made for the Hot Topic circuit (i.e. fat emo kids with jet black hair parted in one direction who still mope over that girlfriend who dumped them in eighth grade.) Blending a poppy surf rock knack with garage laden melodies, singer Alex Knost croons in a quasi-stoner/ wave rider meets rockabilly baritone as Nolan Hall’s staccato guitar licks breeze with the ambiance of beach birds on “Single Fins & Safety Pins”, a catchy ode to lazy and sauced-up summer living. Numbers like “Regrets a Paradise” fuse power chords and slithering African poly-rhythms, which are followed by an album’s worth of peachy sequencing. Japanese Motors provides an SPF for the ears and enhances the semblance of sun-baked beach shenanigans so in deeply that this fall release will leave you weeping over summer’s end before the album clocks out. Chris Pacifico
johnson & johnson Johnson & Johnson
(Tres) Johnson & Johnson is a project that both golden era and progressive hip-hop fans can appreciate. This collaborative effort between MC Blu (Below the Heavens, C.R.A.C.) and producer Mainframe takes listeners on an often humorous journey through life in the LBC. Featuring a sonic landscape comprised of jazz-inspired melodies, Blu’s lyrics create some very entertaining narratives. One of those narratives, “Go For The Gust Room,” details the need for a room where gamblers go to compensate for their losses (via women, food and drink). The one thing that stands out about this project is Blu’s swagger on each of the tracks. By shying away from over-the-top metaphors and sticking to very clever wordplay that embodies the “you can’t get with this mentality,” Johnson & Johnson’s debut effort is refreshing because it is everything that many of these other projects try to be but fall short of. Jason Kordich
3 stars (Downtown) There had to be a point where the ‘80s nostalgia moved from Marly Marl’s 808s to “Kids, Incorporated.” That moment happens on the first full song of Kid Sister’s much delayed solo debut, Dream Date. “Life on TV” is as Disney as Disney gets...a big PG explosion of a song that cutely brags of success and popularity like a Miley Cyrus theme song. It’s not so in-line with the underground club aesthetics that act as tenement to the Chicago scene that birthed Kid Sis, but it’s always been the MC’s game. Amanda Blank she is not. “Family Reunion” is more feel good fun/cheese (depending on your disposition), with a Redman-sounding David Banner rhyming about the wonders of summer get togethers (on a release that drops in January). Dream Date contains all the hits that put Kid Sister in the blog-roll vernacular (“Pro Nails,” “Beeper” and “Control”), but the latter two have been reworked a bit from the versions that’ve floated around for a minute. And while the new songs don’t reach that across-the-board crossover appeal, there are some synthed-out gems that get a proper unveiling, most notably “Down Ass Jawn.” But even with the cursing, there’s a debate to be had: Is Kid Sister a character or merely a charactature? Arliss Plaxico
shawn lee & clutchy hopkins Clutch of the Tiger
(Ubiquity) Once, a strange desert guy gave Domino’s Shawn Lee a tiger mask. Next full moon, a fresh dub mix appears inside the mask marked with initials (C.H.). Many moons come and go. “C”lutchy “H”opkins gets signed to Domino, of all labels. But no one ever sees Clutchy Hopkins materialize en vivo. They tell us Clutch of the Tiger was created passing bits back and forth between two talented dudes in different lands, more music magically appearing in the mask along the way… or…might this be psychological warfare? Shawn and/or/as “Clutchy” build an instrumental mystery dubscape, pin clues to tracks called “Two Steps Back,” “Dollar Short,” “Bad Influence,” and “Till Next Time.” Shadow alley situations flank the album’s twisted origin. Each track gets vaguely art film detective scene, a little bit of Airy Virgin Suicides, or a revolving lounge under the spaghetti Mojave moon. Who is Hopkins? Why’s his name in the album title? Much like a tiger indeed, dark vertical stripes overlay near-white to reddish-orange fur, with lighter underparts. Daiana Feuer
love is all A Hundred Things Keep Me Up at Night
3 stars ladyhawke Ladyhawke
(Modular) If you can imagine, just for a moment, the champions of ’80s female empowerment pop—Stevie Nicks, Kim Carnes, Pat Benatar—and imagine their sexy, aurally pleasing way of getting girls to sing into hairbrushes brought forth into the video-game age, you’ve got Ladyhawke. While Ladyhawke (nee Pip Brown, of New Zealand)’s bio lists an impressive lot of collaborators and producers, to rehash them here would run the risk of having her lumped in with the other female favorites of recent memory (see: Santogold, Lily Allen, Robyn, Lady Gaga etc). This music could very easily be perceived as trendy—“Cyndi Lauper for the American Apparel age,” as NME put it—but that sort of classification would lend Ladyhawke an unwarranted stigma. Her eponymous debut is the closest thing to “Betty Davis Eyes” or “Stand Back” recorded for our generation, and yet it isn’t nauseatingly retro. With unassuming style and understated appeal, Ladyhawke will hopefully become the role model to little girls that wastes-of-space like Ashlee Simpson always hoped to be (and failed, miserably). Karen Ruttner
(What’s Your Rupture) A title such like this can’t help but evoke thoughts of restlessness and manic sexual energy. Much to the delight of their fans, both of these things are available in great abundance on Love is All’s sophomore release. The Swedish quintet’s spiky, punky indie pop is driven by frontwoman Josephine Olausson’s exuberance on the mic. Spitting her words with the brattiness and audacity of a recently-liberated, once-repressed schoolgirl, Olausson is relentless in simultaneously intimidating and charming her audience into submission. The propulsive rhythm section and slash-happy, razorsharp guitars, all racing one another to each song’s finish line, provide a suitable backdrop to Olausson’s antics. On Wishing Well, the band never lets up on clobbering its listeners with its formidable attack; if a guitar isn’t shredding, then either Olausson is sneering or a snare drum or a hi-hat is playing hyper-paced syncopations. A Hundred Things also contains quieter moments that work surprisingly well for such a loud record, providing a much-needed respite from the nervous scramble of the rest of the album. Amorn Bholsangngam
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what the world spins while spinning. 156_CDS.indd 86
11/5/08 11:13:47 AM
Madlib: the beat konducta WLIB AM: King of the Wigflip
SHINY TOY GUNS Season of Poison
(Rapster) On the heels of the last two Beat Konducta albums (and the intriguing and delightful The Dudley Perkins “Expressions” Instrumentals), Madlib does it again. WLIB AM: King of the Wigflip is just like flipping the stations on an imaginary radio dial for the ideal throwback block party. A random smattering of samples, raps, and beats somehow seems so cohesive with Madlib: The Beat Konducta working the tables. Fresh favorites are “Blindfold Test #10 (He Don’t Play)” ft. J Rocc, a complex turntable demonstration that sounds at times like a vintage mystery cartoon, “The Thang” ft. Prince Po with its fun n’ sunny neighborhood beats vibe, “What It Do” ft. Talib Kweli sounding like flawless flows atop a romantic movie score, and “Yo Yo Affair Pt. 1 & 2” ft. Frezna, a hybrid between nostalgic hip-hop and delicious neosoul. It’s a rare thing to find so many talented collaborators (notably Guilty Simpson, Oh No, & Murs) on top of the skills of such a creative and accomplished selector as Madlib. WLIB AM puts an odd twist on oldschool and dresses to impress. Lindsay Evan Holliday
(Universal Motown) L.A.’s Shiny Toy Guns generated more than a little buzz a few years back with We Are Pilots, their debut album based on both catchy, electro-tinged rock and pop and a extraordinary level of fan interaction (they had a web-based trackable GPS attached to their van fer fook’s sake!) Having already gone through two female singers, the boys have enlisted Sisely Treasure, former Cooler Kids singer and Pussycat Dolls present hopeful, to co-chair vocal duties on their follow-up. Treasure’s aggressive style deftly balances Chad Petree’s more melodic side, and sees the band straddling the line between insistent, hard-hitting rock and Coldplay-esque balladry. Jason Newman
The matthew herbert big band There’s Me And There’s You
4 stars (!K7 Records) For an album that raises a voice of protest against war, government injustices and other societal ills, this second offering from this Matthew Herbert-led collaborative jazz project sure is an upbeat affair. There are lots of disjointed choruses of flashy horns and peppy rhythms with vocalist Eska out in front delightedly delivering pointed lyrics chastising the media, the government and religious institutions. She handles the overt messaging, and Herbert underlines her points with subversively polemic samples that unpretentiously work their way into the rhythms and refrains. Sounds of matches rattled in Parliament’s basement, the beep of his prematurely born son’s neonatal incubator, condoms dragged on a floor, and nails being hammered into a coffin make allegorical statements, and field recordings from the West Bank deliver their message directly. The developed avant-jazz compositions stand out just fine, but with all their consequential underpinnings, Herbert and the band are swinging on all levels. Noah Levine
PRGz Fear and Loathing in Hunts Vegas
(Mad Decent) PRGz, the mysterious Alabama group behind one of our favorite songs of last summer, “Wood Grain,” has teamed up with Diplo and Benzi for a new mixtape, Fear and Loathing In Hunts Vegas. Thankfully, this tape is exactly what we were hoping to see from PRGz: an under-the-influence cruise through southern rap highways in the next millennium. Nearly half of the disc’s songs are remixes in one way or another, and in several cases, the new versions can’t hold a candle to their original predecessors. We favor the eerie, glaze-eyed chants of “Wood Grain” over its more upbeat protégé, and the roller coaster rave meets syrupy drudge of “Rollin’” is better than the remix here. At its highest moments, the group is meshing experimental production with equally interesting flows—i.e. “Naturalz Pt. 2,” which sees them hugging a beat that deftly flips Art of Noise’s “Moments of Love.” Even at their lowest moments, on songs such as “The Streetz,” they prove themselves as engaging MCs who can bring extra charisma to solid, by-the-books southern bang. William E Ketchum III SCHOOL OF SEVEN DAYS Alpinisms
(Ghostly International) With a name borrowed from a myth, Benjamin Curtis and twin sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza make music that seems recently lifted from a dream. Curtis left Secret Machines to work with the Dehezas, who similarly left On!Air!Library! Their debut further expands the sounds coming from this onetime techno label as expansive waves and fluttered drafts of guitars, keys and ribbons of noise pass above expertly mapped rhythms, with the Dehezas’ entrancing vocals and reverb-laden harmonies providing a shifting point of focus. Tracks like “Wired for Light,” “Connjur,” and “Chain” flirt with pop conventions and confidently push them into unfamiliar places as songs expand and surround. At more than 11 minutes, “Sempiternal/Amaranth” takes this sonic expansion in a different direction and shows off the depth and range this band is capable of. In Alpinisms, School of Seven Bells have themselves one of the year’s most intoxicating debuts. Ryan E. Rodriguez
THE SEA AND CAKE Car Alarm
(Thrill Jockey) Wasting no time before heading back into the studio after last year’s vitalized Everybody and plenty of touring, Sam Prekop, Archer Prewitt, John McEntire and Eric Claridge are jettisoning their multitudes of sideprojects for the time being and once again making The Sea and Cake priority number one. It’s a solid concept, and Car Alarm picks right up on the coiled grooves of its predecessor with heated opener “Aerial” and “Fuller Moon,” which brings a taut bounce into play. Even though Prekop and Prewitt continue interlocking their guitars over spiny rhythms from McEntire and Claridge throughout the set, something doesn’t quite click often enough this time around. They sound animated on the title track and the moment of twitchy excitement they named “Weekend,” but for most of the disc bouncing bass and snapping drums steadily back the featherweight guitars that pass each other inconsequentially as things drift off focus. Noah Levine
tommie sunshine Relax, This Won’t Hurt A Bit
(Ultra) Tommie Sunshine has always stood out from the DJ pack—and not just because his 6’6” bearish frame is impossible to miss. With a combination of enthusiasm, smarts and a healthy dash of self-promotion, Sunshine was a star even when he was better known for attending raves than rocking them. He caught the electroclash wave just right and rode it to an international career before easily jumping to NYC indie rock DJing and issuing remixes for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Gang of Four as well as some more questionable acts (P.O.D.!?), all compiled on his first mix CD, Ultra.Rock Remixed. Mercifully, techno is back in style and Sunshine is right back with it on his second CD. No theme necessary, this is Sunshine in a more comfortable place, picking out current bangers that blend those old warehouse vibes with catchy hooks. He even goes ahead and drops a Moby cut in there. Full circle indeed. Joshua Glazer
WILD BEASTS Limbo, Panto
(Domino) While the music spins around, open armed and eyes closed, snapping its fingers, the guys all kinda look like The British Outsiders, bred with Ian Curtis. Lead vocalist Hayden Thorpe often conjures a duet between John Lennon screeching the blues and one of the ABBA chicks calling out Fernando, covering both parts in the space of a line. Bassist Tom Fleming’s chops ain’t too shabby either. Add a musical tune weaving Julie Andrews on Rocky Horror and Jeff Buckley on Santeria and we’ve got a tangy new pop sound. Yay. If melodic coincidence tickles your pickle, your panties surely fog up over “She Purred While I Gurred.” Thorpe not only hits the high notes, but transgresses them as tropical devices, shining a dolphin shaped flashlight through the darkness of chorus “I die every day/ To live every night.” “Brave, Bulging, Bouyant, Clairvoyants” similarly affects—a spiraling cowbell of a catchy hook. Not to be taken lightly, dramatic tone and lyrical silliness obscure a sinister impulse throbbing within the album, spitting delightfully mysterious candy machine baubles onto your eager palm. Daiana Feuer
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11/5/08 11:15:36 AM
6. Spirit Animal, “Pony” While celebrating the release of Free Music EP, the artist formerly known as Gray Kid covers Ginuwine’s 1993 single for an X-rated space-age come-on. “If you’re horny, let’s do it/Ride it, my pony” sounds even sleazier here, as the mere notion mines dangerous lust rather than the middle school exploration of the original.
It’s come to our attention that we’re getting older. URB turns 18 in 2009 and as legal adults, it’s time to inject a little Grown Folks Music into our playlist.
in 1.Rob 2.Cam 3.Le
2. Cam’ron / “Bottom of the Pussy Hole”
By title alone, Killah Cam’s comeback empeefree is one of the greatest slow jams of all-time. Balancing vulgarity and absurdity like only Cam can— this being the same man whose cinematic highlight came while urinating on someone and screaming “No homo” —“Pussy Hole” is part skit, part hilarity and, most strangely, part heartbreaking tale of betrayal. “Plus, she’s a squirter.” This isn’t childish toilet humor, it’s real talk.
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ls e Kil 5. Th lep 6 . Te
ge hn Le 7. Jo
lly 8. Po
1. Robin Thicke / “Dreamworld”
3. The Kills / “Cheap and Cheerful” (Fake Blood Remix)
Immaturely enough, R&B might be below contemporary country on most music journalists’ totem pole of cool. That’s why the scribes who like Robin Thicke call it “blue-eyed soul.” (We call racism.) This cut is the definition of grown folks music: sultry piano, gliding vocals and an emotionally resonant forgiveness of Marvin Gaye’s father. It’s proof that R&B can be cool.
Fake Blood takes a hit from one of the sexiest rock albums of 2008, the Kills’ “Midnight Boom,” and kicks the intensity up times a billion. The remix holds down a crystal clear grind with a classic four-to-the-floor beat and a fidget house aesthetic. Fake Blood transforms Alison Mosshart’s voice into robot-babe club vocal samples that really work the trancey crescendos.
7. Le Le / “Breakfast” There’s nothing more important than the first meal of the day. Even if that meal consists of a female metaphor, “Bitch, you breakfast.” We haven’t gotten off on a booty-electro cut about food this hard since making “Sandwiches.” Rhyming “holla, holla, holla,” with “oatmeal and granola!?” But where’s me Lucky Charms? 4. John Legend ft Andre 3000, “Green Light” (Diplo Dade County 1988 Mix) The parentheses above might be the best description of this energy injection for an otherwise disappointing original. Anything with André 3K’s name attached attracts attention, but his verse is buried in the radio hit. Here, Diplo makes the booty clap by bringing the OutKast’s verse forward and funking up the bass beneath him. If this doesn’t blast you back to a more innocent time, when Miami’s sound was ubiquitous, nothing will.
Bobby Evans rocks the nebish chic like a blunted Woody Allen and keeps killing remixes for Delicious Vinyl and, here, IAMSOUND. Turning proud artwanks Telepathe into some molten minimalist groove that’s sweeter like Werthers butterscotch
Chi-town’s very own OBDBI exemplify everything that is wonderful about Chicago. Multi-racial, unique and bringing together musicians from all walks of life for one cause, to play only the best of Central and West African dance music. Lead by Nathaniel Braddock on guitar alongside alto saxophonist Greg Ward, this track was recorded at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio and showcases more of their mellower side with beautifully arranged horns and delicate percussion and guitar work.
Kasai Allstars - “Kafuulu Balu”
The latest installment in the Congotronics series really is a scorcher. What really gets There’s a “ Y ” in the pronunciation of Allá...why? It’s because the Chicago trio has genuine me excited about this track is the ramshackle Chicano roots. Brother Jorge and Angel Ledezma, alongside chanteuse Lupe Martinex, meld beginning but as the track progresses you besoaring indie rock with worldly influences for a potent punch. Their self-f inanced debut, Es gin to hear the musicians start to cook and by that point, it’s game over, really. The exotic Tiempo, is the stone in Allá’s crown. distorted guitars that are dangerously close to taking over the entire track, pushing the song to near psychedelic levels.
88 | URB.com
Starting with a “Silent Night” tempo, this UK songstress gets all bombastic about half-way through her new cut for Mute. But she still sings a pretty fairytale...if the Princess got totally wasted on nutmeg and Percocet.
5.Telepathe / “Bells” (Bobby Evans Remix)
Occidental Brothers Dance Band International - “Ana Masi Ife Uwa”
GUEST RE V IE W ER::: :::WORLD MUSIC
8. Polly Scattergood / “Nitrogen Pink”
Eduardo Mateo - “Tras de ti”
Some call Eduardo Mateo the John Lennon, Syd Barrett or Nick Drake of the highly underestimated Uruguayan rock scene of the ’60s-’70s. Unlike his contemporaries, Mateo pulled his influences from Beatles ’60s psych, bossa nova, jazz and local candombe rhythms. Here, the Nick Drake comparisons are heavy with the bittersweet lyrics, ghostly harmonies and intricate guitar work, add the sparse production and you’ve got a song of absolute beauty.
Kocani Orkestar “Mangelma Stoposto”
Who knew Balkan music could get so funky? The tuba on this track seriously bumps my Honda hatchback like Jay-Z. There is also this underlying Mexican Regional feel to it and I’m sure y’all are familar with those sounds, especially if you live in a Mexican neighorhood. There is some serious musicianship on the whole record but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be sampled by Kanye.
11/7/08 10:11:44 AM
PRO & REG
edIT, “The Game Is Not Over” ft. J-Dilla, Phat Kat & Dabrye (Glitch Mob Unlimited/Alpha Pup) KiD CuDi, “50 Ways To Make A Record” (Fool’s Gold/10Deep) Santogold, “You’ll Find A Way [Switch & Sinden Remix]” (Downtown Music LLC.) Lil Wayne, “88 Shots [Nick Catchdubs aka 908 Remix]” (Cash Money/Fool’s Gold) Atmosphere, “Puppets” (Rhymesayers) Kudu, “Neon Graveyard [Drop the Lime Remix]” (NUBLU Music, LLC.) Fischerspooner, “Danse en France” (Kitsune) Del the Funky Homosapien, “Foot Down” (Definitive Jux)
Brooklyn Academy, “Retarted Party” (Gold Dust) Kardinal Official, “Dangerous” ft. Akon (Interscope) Flo Bots ,“Handle Bars” (Universal) Regulus, “Proving Grounds” (Pro and Reg Records) Grilled Lincolns, “Side Project” Eagle Torch Records Ant Banks, “To the Head” Jive 1992 Heltah Skeltah, “Insane” Duck Down All Time Low, “Umbrella Remix” (Punk vs Krunk) Too Short, “Way Too Real” (Jive) The Advantage, “Bomberman 2” (indie)
New York, NY
Kardinal Offishall, “Burnt” (Convict) Elzhi, “Guessing Game” (Fat Beats) Moka Only, “Mo and Mo” (Urbnet) Al Green ft. Corinne Bailey Rae, “Take Your Time” (Blue Note) Baby Cham, “Hope” (White Label) Shad K, “The Old Prince Still Lives At Home” (Black Box) Erykah Badu ft. Pharoahe Monch, “The Healer (Remix)” (White Label) M.I.A, “Paper Planes” (Kala/Interscope) Enur ft. Vybz Kartel “Calabria Remix” (White Label) The Roots feat. Dice Raw, Peedie Crakk & DJ Jazzy Jeff “Get Busy” (Def Jam)
DJ Warrior ft. Pain Language, “God & Satan” (Cali Untouchables) Roscoe Umali ft. Talib Kweli, “Find A Way” Jeremy Greene ft. Roscoe Umali, “Rain” Bishop Lamont, “Grow Up” Self Scientific x Sick Symphonies, “Together As One” Taje ft. Get It Gang, “Born Gangstaz” T.I. ft. Kanye West, Jay Z & Lil Wanye, “Swagger Like Us” (Atlantic) Strong Arm Steady, “Can’t Let It Go” E-40 ft. Akon, “Wake It Up” Pain Language, “That’s What It Is”
Alchemist ft Jadakiss, Snoop & Pusha T “Lose Your Life” (ALC Records) Devin the Dude “Can’t Make It Home” (Razor & Tie) Termanology ft Prodigy, “Hood Shit” (Nature Sounds/St.) Joell Ortiz “Can’t U Tell” (Koch) Reks, “Cloud 9” (Showoff) Jadakiss ft Jay-Z ,“Who Run It” (Def Jam) Freeway, “Hustlers Prayer” (Roc-a-Fella) Lil Fame ft. Notorious big, “Exclusive” (white label) 88-Keys ft Kanye West, “Stay Up” (Decon) Jake One ft Royce & Elzhi, “Glow” (Rhymesayers)
www.nikkacosta.com www.myspace.com/nikkacosta ® www.stax-records.com
FEATURES THE NEW SINGLE “STUCK TO YOU” 11/7/08 1:06:29 PM
Al Green Live in ‘72
Little Fugitive (KINO) People debate ad nauseam about what constitutes The Great American Novel, but when it comes to film, there’s good reason why Morris Engel’s Little Fugitive remains wildly powerful. Set in the middle of last century in NYC (read: the center of the world at the time), specifically Coney Island (read: the rawest, most life-affirming place in said center), Little Fugitive is transcendent with a voyeuristic mundanity that’s driven by the director’s wandering camera and his obsessive love for magical real-time moments. Engel’s anti-method was unabashedly lauded by Francois Truffaut as indispensable to The New Wave, and its license-granting impact is evident in the works of latter-day directors like Jim Jarmusch, et, al. Filmic significance aside, it’s the story of a kid brother wandering through Coney Island, believing himself to be on the lam after killing his older brother, whose ketchupfaked death (damn, big brothers play some mean tricks) led him to flee to the end of the subway line: Coney Island. There, he discovers America, and it’s as if Weegee’s photo on George Michael’s Listen Without Prejudice Volume 1, came to life: teeming masses of every hue huddling to drink tap water from a fountain; a couple doin’ it—whatever “it” is to a five year old—under the boardwalk; the opportunity to earn money for a pony ride by simply collecting deposit bottles. Couched in these episodes are greater significances: the pony scene perfectly evokes the orphan hero’s quest for a lost father; a message scrawled on a chalkboard used as a lost-and-found leads to a pre-party-line, pre-Twitter orgy of public commentary. Viewers will discover many pieces of America’s past here, and thankfully, director Engels affords us the time to enjoy the camera’s memory. Michael Vazquez
(Revolver Entertainment) There’s baby making music and then there’s Al Green. Scientifically proven to raise estrogen levels and sperm counts, his falsetto is sex in a church. Those soaring high notes and escalating rhythms are the soundtrack for the physical display of passion on top stacks of Bibles piled high on pews under echoing cathedral ceilings. Green’s songs make everyday conception immaculate. They turn prostitutes into virgins, ugly into the epitome of beauty, stale cigarette breath on parched lips into aphrodisiacs for angels. Al Green Live in ‘72 is exactly what it should be: turtle neck under a plaid suit, slow riding rhythms, an intimate setting for an attentive audience, handclaps and horn blasts. Indeed, take’em to church. Brandon Perkins
CHRISTMAS ON MARS The brainchild of Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne turns out to be exactly what you would expect from the “over-stimulated” minds of the neo-psychadellic rockers. When the despondent Major Syrtis, a ranking official on an unsuccessful Mars colony, attempts to boost morale by staging a Christmas pageant, his plans are postponed due to the increasing malfunctions of the dilapidated space station and the unexpected suicide of the pageant’s original Santa. Aside from the ship’s profanity-spewing captain and the Disneyesque ending, this bizarre and moody exploration of human isolation is peppered with few moments of levity. Oh, and did I mention the ever-present vaginal imagery? Yeah, there’s lots of that. Coyne intends the film to be as much a tale of hope as it is of lonely madness. Altering one’s consciousness might help the viewing of this film. Dan Vidal
High School Record / New Video Works (Stop Following Me Productions/ PPM) Angelenos—we’ve come to a point where if you bring up The Smell at a party or a bar or whatever, you’re in danger of getting a once-over and being drawn into a battle of one-upmanship over who you saw, who you went with, and how long ago it was. You can’t win, and you shouldn’t want to, because if you only care about the amazing past few years of LA’s music scene in that sense, then you’re probably a boring piece of shit. But anyway. Dean Spunt (drummer/singer of experimental punk/pop band No Age) just released a DVD compilation, New Video Works, through his record/media label, Post Present Medium. Local LA bands, as well as personal friends of No Age contribute their music videos, live set footage, and home videos of screwing around with friends, instruments and paint. Lots of paint. The content is visually stunning, even at the most lo-fi end of the spectrum with videos like Sissy Spacek’s raucous home recording, “Live @ Il Coral 2005.” Pocahaunted delivers an eerily pretty video for “Warpaint,” with the girls picking flowers by flashlight in a night-time desert romp. “Morning Ritual” and “Sexy Proposal” from Lucky Dragons are the most realistic simulations of an acid trip that you’ll ever see on film. In High School Record, director Ben Wolfinsohn works with actors and actresses pooled from several bands, including Minutemen, Lavender Diamond, and No Age. Spunt takes the lead role of “Caleb,” opposite Mika Miko’s Jenna Thornbill as “Sabrina.” The film is based on the lives of an art-high-school’s quirky students, who deal with the awkwardness surrounding sex, fitting in, love and the like. High School Record tip-toes the line between drama and documentary with its AV-club production quality and cleverly crafted interpersonal relations. And the semi-improvisational script really helps to convey that all-too familiar sense of high school self consciousness. It’s also very funny; watch for Caleb’s “jogging suit, doughnut-hawk punk look” and the kids’ free-spirited teacher, Ms. Farewell. Both New Video Works and High School Record are a testament to what a good thing LA has going on right now in the music scene. For once the musical efforts are truly based on friendship, positivity, and supporting the creative efforts of anyone who wants to be involved. Lysette Simmons
90 | URB.com
11/5/08 2:01:32 PM
NEW THIS MONTH... VIDEO
Go behind-the-scenes of our 88-Keys cover shoot and watch je˜ staple’s 1-2-1 interview with Marc Ecko.
Score limited edition gear, concert tickets, collectable music, movies and games.
Download an exclusive mix of Health remixes by Acid Girls, plus podcasts by ° e Glass and 88-Keys with Izza Kizza.
Read extended interviews with Kool Keith, James Murphy, DJ Neil Armstrong and Killer Mike.
Daily blogs, CD reviews, contests, parties + more
11/5/08 2:10:00 PM
CONSOLE CONUNDRUM People Under the Stairs’ Thes One gets custom to circumvent an age-old argument by Norman “Top Bananas” Foote II photography by Fernando Decillis
In the soon-to-be-ageless battle of analog vs. digital, the debate is awfully familiar. URB sat down with Thes One, from People Under the Stairs, on the heels of their sixth album, Fun DMC, to discuss his new studio setup, the creative process of making this album and if digital can peaceably cohabitate with his cache of analog threats. URB: Can you give us a quick rundown of some of the equipment you have? Thes: At the heart of the studio right now is the custom console. It’s a 24-track, Class A, all discrete recording console…I have Pro Tools coming through Apogee conversion into that and then I also have my MPC coming into that separately. Aside from that, we got all types of compressors, spring reverbs and tape delays. What is the process for getting a custom console built? I wanted a console where half of it could be dedicated to the MPC directly and the other half would be coming back…like vocals and stuff coming in from Pro Tools. You have these ideas, you know, you start jotting them down…and I met with these cats that are well-known, respected engineers. They really made it happen. My man, Ian, he did all the metal work and everything. The actual physical design, I’m real happy with that. Steve Firlotte did all the internal designing and circuitry. It’s really simple and beautiful on the inside, just transformers, optical amps and wire. How would you say your custom console changed your production and your approach to making music? I started off 15 years ago reading Home Recording Magazine and buying little cassette 4-tracks. I had the worst stuff and I used that to the best of my ability. And I had one little compressor and a microphone. I started to hate that compressor and I felt that I pushed it to the limit and I wanted something better. So now that I got gear that’s more custom that I’ve had a hand in helping, saying I want this and this, I’m not using gear that exists and trying to make it work for me. I’m making the gear. I feel like it’s a lot easier for me to make the shit that’s in my head. What are your favorite pieces of equipment in here to work with? It’s funny, I was buying mics, moving up and up until I got a U87, which is kind of a studio standard. Then about a year ago, I got a SM7 and that’s the mic they used for Thriller, Off The Wall and all that stuff. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to the $3,000 mic. Every time we go in the booth, I got the SM7…that mic is like an instrument because the farther away you get from it, the more the tone changes. So when you’re rapping you can really accentuate words by getting up on the mic and it’ll distort.
Weapons of Choice:
Will you ever cross over completely to digital? It’s crossed my mind. Right after we mastered our new album, I was listening to it and the original versions off the console. And, you know, it has to go through all of this shit to get down to a CD. A lot gets lost in the translation. I’d just listen to it and I’d go, “Why am I even bothering?” It’s those moments when I feel like I could just put all this money in the bank, take a nice vacation and then just use Pro Tools. Because when it gets to MP3, it’s difﬁcult to hear the differences. But, really what it comes down to is, I worked my way up to this and it’s a privilege for me to have this. I enjoy it. There’s an entropy to the whole thing that the computer can’t simulate.
An Extensive Vinyl Collection Avalon VT 737sp MIC PRE-AMP/PROCESSOR Gemini PDM 6008 Mixer Lexicon PCM91 REVERB MPC 3000 SAMPLER FENDER Rhodes Shure SM7B MIC Tree Audio “500 Series” Console
92 | URB.COM
11/5/08 12:43:14 PM
Respect 2-Full Page-URB.indd 1 UR156_RANE.indd 93
5/11/08 9:34:17 AM 11/11/08 12:25:54 PM
WELCOME TO THE FLOP HOUSE San Francisco’s Different Fur Recording creates the right atmosphere for creating By Brandon Perkins “Flop house” doesn’t quite cut it, but neither does “recording studio.” Somewhere between the two sits Different Fur Recording. On the quasi-gentriﬁed streets of San Francisco’s Mission District—between a particularly scrumptious falafel spot and one of the city’s premier Pabst Blue Ribbon lesbian bars—the three-story walk-up is only noticeable from the street by a framed Elvis Costello against its back wall, posterized in all his My Aim Is True glory. Founded in 1968 by Patrick Gleeson (a Herbie Hancock collaborator), Different Fur has hosted Devo, Brian Eno and Primus in its live room. The building has changed hands a few times, but the newest incarnation is a hive of activity, with several companies—Mr Roboto Presents (a promotions company), +1 Records (West Coast ofﬁce), Skin and Bones Production and Take Root Records—all calling Different Fur home. Owner Patrick Brown has modernized the studio without losing any of the building’s pastoral charm. There’s a hominess at the studio that creates a barefoot-level of trust. It’s just that comfortable. Packing the amenities of a proper bed and breakfast, it’s a place where The Black Lips can stumble out of their touring van and be siked to ﬁnd a shower and some clean towels. There’s a sauna, too. Which is just kind of weird.
3 Chords & The Truth (plus keys & effects)
Like a mad scientist, Bloc Party's Russell Lisak turns the guitar into a noise machine, crafting sounds you have a hard time imagining coming off of six strings. On the band’s new album, Intimacy, he even drops the axe for a synth or two. URB asks how it's done. by Michael Vazquez photos by Derori Gila Loral URB: Deﬁnitely a different sound on this album. What’s changed in your approach? Lisak: The way we write songs has changed. We did the album with two different producers. One half of it was more traditional with the four of us writing songs together. The other half was more kind of me and Kele at a computer coming up with ideas and writing parts on a keyboard or different instrument. What’s lost or gained by using the keyboard? I’ll always favor playing guitar because that’s what I’m best at, but it’s also nice to use different instruments; it makes you look at things in a different way. I’ll be writing a different style of melody because I’m not proﬁcient at the instrument. There’s one track called “Better Than Heaven” that ended up quite heavy, like a heavy guitarbased track. But I wrote it on the keyboard just to try and come up with a different idea for melodies. You gonna play the keytar anytime soon? They’re kind of hard to come by these days. Was it hard to replay the studio album live? We pretty much worked out the whole album, except for “Zephyrus.” I guess eventually we’ll work it out; the track’s kind of like a programmed beat, some keyboards and lots of vocals, like, a choir. So, to do that justice is going to take a lot more preparation than the other stuff. But the beneﬁt of having all the different sounds we have is you can make a guitar that doesn’t sound exactly like a guitar.
RUSSELL LISAK’S EQUIPMENT LIST: 3 Reverb pedals 3 Delay pedals 2 Pitch shifters 1 Wah-wah pedal 1 Kaoss pad 2 Distortion pedals 1 Tuner 1 Volume pedal
Computer: Solid State Logic 4056/48E, Pro Tools HD 2 ver. 7.3.1, Mac Power PC G5 dual 2.0/4GB RAM, and a vast plugin collection. Mic Preamps: Avalon 2022, GML 8300, Shadow Hills GAMA 8 w/ 4 Iron “St. Ives Type” transformers, True Precision 8 Compressors: Universal Audio LA-2A, UREI 1176LN (2), UREI LA4A (2), RETRO Sta-Level (2), Summit Audio DCL-200, Empirical Labs EL7 Fatso Jr. EQ/Compressor-EQ: GML 8200 EQ, Avalon VT-747SP Reverb/FX: EMT Plate, Lexicon 480L, Eventide H3000 Monitors: Dynaudio BM15A, Dynaudio BM6A, Westlake mains
11/5/08 2:38:46 PM
DJ CONTROLLER WITH 4-IN/4-OUT AUDIO INTERFACE Accuracy and roomy layout of the controls: 2 jog wheels, 12 rotary buttons, 46 push buttons, 6 faders – including a convenient general volume fader. Built-in audio interface: 4 inputs including 2 stereo analog inputs and phono/line-level selectors to connect vynile turntables, CD or MP3 players, ryhtm boxes… and 4 audio outputs (+4dBu and -10dBv) Sturdy metal casing. Delivered with its carrying case. High end software - VirtualDJ® 5 DJC Edition and ﬂawless drivers. Mix all music ﬁles in MP3, AIFF, WAV, WMA, OGG, CD Audio formats, as well as iTunes® library (according to your PC or Mac® OS). Compatible with other MIDI controllers.
AVAILABLE AT THESE FINE RETAILERS: 18 years of expertise in digital sound 6 years of experience in computer DJing Creator of the 1st dual-deck DJ controller with computer audio interface in the industry A worldwide leader in this category
Distributed in North America by : Kaysound © 2008 Guillemot Corporation S.A. Hercules is a registered trademark of Guillemot Corporation S.A. All rights reserved. Microsoft®, Windows® XP and Windows® Vista™ are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. VirtualDJ® is a registered trademark of Atomic Productions. Apple®, the Apple logo, Mac OS® are registered trademarks of Apple Inc. All other trademarks are hereby acknowledged and are property of their respective owners. Photos and illustrations not binding. Contents, design and speciﬁcations are subject to change without prior notice and may vary from one country to another.
11/2/08 9:23:22 AM
A DILATED PUPIL In a 1989 article in People magazine, Jana Taylor details her work at the Para Los Ninos Daycare Center in Los Angeles that helped latchkey kids fi nd the beauty in their very difficult lives through photography. Taylor, who passed away in 2004 after a battle with cancer, was defi nitely worthy of profi le. Her photographs, like the one displayed here of three children in yesteryear Venice, were award-winning, but it was her ability to warmly share that passion with the lessfortunate that truly shines. Taylor also raised MC/producer Evidence (see page 54), mostly by herself, leaving a legacy of observation. photography by Jana Taylor
96 | URB.COM
11/5/08 11:58:25 AM
The Amazon mp3 logo is a trademark of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. PEPSI, PEPSI-COLA, EVERY SIP GETS YOU CLOSER, YOUR CHOICE OF CHOICE STUFF and the Pepsi Globe design are trademarks of PepsiCo, Inc. © 2008 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
www.PEPSISTUFF.com Your choice of choice stuff.™ Collect to get MP3 music downloads, PEPSI fashion apparel, or a chance to win exciting trips, Zune MP3 players and much more.
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. For one (1) free game piece/Official Rules send your name and complete address postmarked by 10/22/08 to: Pepsi Stuff Game Piece, P.O. Box 3418, Young America, MN 55558-3418. No SASE required. Subject to Official Rules at www.pepsistuff.com. Sweepstakes ends 11/15/08. Void where prohibited. Limit 3,000 points per account except as stated in the Official Rules. Limit one account per person. Internet access required. Must be 13 years or older. Winners subject to verification. The Amazon mp3 logo is a trademark of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. PEPSI, PEPSI-COLA, EVERY SIP GETS YOU CLOSER, YOUR CHOICE OF CHOICE STUFF and the Pepsi Globe design are trademarks of PepsiCo, Inc. © 2008 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
11/2/08 9:28:23 AM
On A Mission 2008 Dismantling his enemies with humiliating effi ciency, Q brought the freshness to TAG Records and the world. Hear Q’s new single “On a Mission” at
11/2/08 9:30:24 AM