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Archive for December, 2010

b free daily: “Growing Up Club”

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If you’re in Baltimore, you can pick up today’s issue of b free daily and read my story on DJ Pierre, a Baltimore club producer I’ve written about on here a great deal over the past two years or so. He’s got a remix on that upcoming M.I.A mixtape, which is kinda crazy:

“I wanna keep club music alive,” intones Artaz Pierre Wilkins, better known as Baltimore club producer DJ Pierre, between bites of pizza at the Inner Harbor’s Gallery.

Still weary from a night of rocking-off at The Paradox, Baltimore’s premier club-music venue, Pierre politely backs up for a moment to add, “I don’t think club music’s dead — that’s just what’s in the air.”

If the supremely fast, repetitive style of Baltimore club first proved its existence to the wider world in the late 1990s, then the pulse of the city’s dance music has beat more faintly the past few years. 92Q’s club queen, DJ K-Swift, died in July 2008. Excitement that brewed over Baltimore club veteran DJ Class and his potential crossover hit “I’m The Ish” faded last year. There’s been a recent dearth of local club music in general.

At just 19 years old, Pierre responds to this dearth with a fury of fresh club music. He releases the occasional free download (it’s 2010 after all), but he’s best known for a stream of mix CDs, packed with his latest songs and some from his club producer peers. The forward-thinking club phenom has titled his latest mixtape, released this month, Volume 9: The Future. One of his tracks will appear on M.I.A.’s Vicky Leekx mixtape, set for release on New Year’s Eve…

Written by Brandon

December 29th, 2010 at 6:26 pm

10 Records From This Year That You Probably Didn’t Hear, Or Maybe You Heard Them, But Didn’t Realize Just How Great They Were?


  • Droop-E, BLVCK Diamond Life: What Tim Hecker did to David Lee Roth on My Love Is Rotten To The Core, Droop-E does to Sade.
  • GMane, Sex, Drugs, & Money: Spacey, almost psychedelic, edifying gangster rap. The first digital download I’ve ever paid for.
  • Jim O’Rourke, All Kinds Of People ~ Love Burt Bacharach: My album of the year.
  • Little Brother, Leftback: Seemingly invigorated by their dissolution, Phonte and Pooh rediscover themselves on the album where they call it quits. Strangely appropriate.
  • No Gang Colors, This Is Your God: 11 perfect minutes of noise-metal-hip-hop deconstruction done right. Drink, smoke, drop acid, and fight to this.
  • Robert Hood, Omega: Heady, barely-there dance music made to soundtrack a chintzy Charlton Heston post-apocalypse flick.
  • Starlito, Renaissance Gangster: World-weary like Wayne, weed-obsessed like Curren$y, and far more consistent than both. With Burn One beats!
  • Uffie, Sex Dreams & Denim Jeans: Really! Go listen to it! It’s great!
  • Valient Thorr, Stranger: Wrote lots about this one here. A politically-engaged party metal masterpiece.
  • Z.O.M.E, Welcome To The Zoo On Mars: The tripped-out, youth swag rap all the blogs never got around to discovering.

Written by Brandon

December 29th, 2010 at 6:12 pm

Posted in 2010

Metal Lungies Beat Drop Best Of 2010

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I contributed to the epic “Beat Drop” feature on Metal Lungies. My picks were The Diplomats’ “Salute” (produced by AraabMuzik), Starlito’s “GH” (produced by DJ Burn One), “Stop Playing With Me” from Young Jeezy (produced by Dready), E-40’s “Back In Business” (produced by Droop-E), and “24″ from Little Brother (produced by Khrysis). Read part one here and part two here.

Written by Brandon

December 29th, 2010 at 6:00 am

Posted in 2010, Metal Lungies

MIX: 25 Best Rap Songs, 2010.


25 Best Rap Songs 2010.

Had a few requests for a .zip of these songs, so I decided to make a mix instead (hit me up on Twitter if you want a zip though). Tried to sequence these in a way that maximized listenability and added something of a narrative to the year. So, we begin with ST from G-Side deconstructing Drake’s “Over,” telling the story of his label Slow Motion Sounds, and quipping (the way a rapper in 2010 only could), that his freestyle “will be all over the world” within a few hours. And we end with Bun B and DJ Premier paying a quick tribute to Guru and then, making rap that’s on auto-pilot sure, but is excellent nonetheless. In between, there’s some radio hits, some tracks everybody liked, a few I dare say are slept-on, and probably too much Baltimore hip-hop. Enjoy!

Written by Brandon

December 28th, 2010 at 5:39 am

Posted in 2010, Uncategorized, mix CD

25 Best Rap Songs, 2010.


  • Big Pokey, “Keep On Pushin” (freestyle over Bun B’s “Pushin”)
  • Big Remo ft. David Banner, “Wonderbread”
  • Bun B, “Let Em’ Know”
  • Cali Swag District, “Teach Me How To Dougie”
  • Curren$y, “King Kong”
  • DB49 ft. G-Mane, “Can’t See”
  • Diddy-Dirty Money, “Someone To Love Me”
  • The Diplomats, “Salute”
  • Droop-E ft. 1st Place & Work Dirty, “Hungry”
  • E-40, “Back In Business”
  • Fabo, “Put Some Gik”
  • G-Side ft. Chris Lee, “Money In The Sky”
  • Gucci Mane, “Dats My Life”
  • Lil B, “The Age Of Information”
  • Lil Wayne, “I’m Single”
  • Little Brother, “Tigallo For Dolo”
  • Los, “Stand The Rain”
  • Mullyman, “MULLY!”
  • Rich Boy ft. Yelawolf, “Go Crazy”
  • Roscoe Dash ft. Soulja Boy, “All The Way Turnt Up”
  • Soulja Boy, “First Day Of School”
  • ST 2 Lettaz, “It’s Ova” (freestyle over Drake’s “Over”)
  • Starlito, “Tired Of Being Tired”
  • Yelawolf ft. Rittz, “Box Chevy”
  • Z.O.M.E, “Mars Ball”

Written by Brandon

December 24th, 2010 at 4:17 am

Posted in 2010, Lists

Spin: Ghostface’s Apollo Kids


Reviewed the just completely whatever Ghostface album for Spin. Anybody feeling this one? I can’t help but think of it as something of a response to all the unnecessary hate given to Ghostdini: The Wizard Of Poetry.

Written by Brandon

December 22nd, 2010 at 9:32 pm

Posted in Ghostface, Spin

Spin: J. Cole’s Friday Night Lights


I reviewed J. Cole’s Friday Night Lights mixtape for Spin’s website and it’s close to excellent but well, really annoying too. I’ve not really talked about J. Cole at all, so I’ll use this brief review as an excuse to talk about the guy, so here goes…

Friday Night Lights kept reminding me of Krit Wuz Here and not in a good way. The differences between Big K.R.I.T and J. Cole are non-existent. Both guys are very good at rapping, but are better producers, but are a little too good at rapping for anybody to reasonably tell them to stick to beatmaking, so they go on and inexplicably, they’re seen as the second coming of this or that. Both are insightful, empathetic rappers too willing to martyr themselves and shamelessly promote and mythologize their struggle.

When I listen to both of their album-like mixtapes, I enjoy it for awhile and then feel the need to start skipping around or my head’ll just explode from all the East Coast lyricism meets Southern rap melodicism masquerading as that new, new shit. Next. The only difference really, is that Big K.R.I.T happens to indulge in a lot more ignorance, which makes him “cooler” and more appealing in the contrarian rap nerd circles I run in. J. Cole’s actually better though.

Written by Brandon

December 20th, 2010 at 5:07 am

Posted in J. Cole, Spin

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.


-“Dark Fantasy”
-“All Of The Lights”
-“Monster” and “So Appalled”
-“Devil In A New Dress”
-“Hell Of A Life”
-“Blame Game”
-“Lost In The World” and “Who Will Survive In America”

Written by Brandon

December 19th, 2010 at 9:16 am

Kanye West Week: “Lost In The World” and “Who Will Survive In America”


After the navel-gazing posse cuts concerned with rapping and only rapping, and a quadrilogy of brilliant but petulant break-up songs, “Lost In The World” turns MBDTF back into a Yankee Hotel Foxtrot state of the world/state of one dude’s emotional life epic. We actually get to hear Kanye sonically massage Justin Vernon’s hushed, isolated (and auto-tuned!) cry of “I’m lost in the woods,” into the broader “I’m lost in the world.” He changes the words, he speeds up the melody, and then he piles on the instruments, and adds a ton of guests, until it’s a moving, post-global cry. Then, it simmers down for Gil Scot Heron to explain it all on “Who Will Survive In America.”

The song is assembled before our very ears, from a single voice without music, to a bunch of voices and instruments, and then returning to just voice. Cynics could use this as an example of the meaningless of Kanye’s record, that it’s all for show (the swooping strings, the A-list guests, the arty bent to it all) because what does it ultimately mean? But that is not the point. For Kanye and well, most human beings, the point is expression and emotion, absent of resolution or even, a clear meaning. Gil Scot doesn’t tell us who will survive in America, he just asks it over and over again because he doesn’t know. And Justin Vernon just keeps telling us that he’s lost in the woods and Kanye’s bemoans his fame and institutionalized racism and fashion industry hypocrisy and trifling females and ultimately, just throws his arms up and hands the thing over to the far more cogent, far less up his own ass, Gil Scot Heron.

Kanye’s sole verse here is a spirited burst of confidence, cockiness, and epiphany. A fuck-it-all, last-ditch pitch to the girl or maybe just a girl, any girl, to have some fun. He’s reconciling opposites and making them emotional facts (“You’re my heaven, you’re my hell, you’re my now, you’re my future”) and just kinda saying “whatevz!!!” to all the stuff that’s pained him throughout the album. Sure, there’s still this tortured acknowledgement of how fucking meaningless it is (“lost in this plastic life”) and there’s a deathwish hangover from “Power” (“If we die in each others’ arms, still get laid in the afterlife”) but Kanye’s comfortable, even invigorated by his realization that none of it ultimately matters. The world’s run by chaos anyway, so you might as well seize the moment.

“Lost In The World” is a rebirth. A slow, groan from Justin Vernon becomes a guest-filled death march club beat. Kanye leaps out of depression and confusion, declaring he’s “new to the city” and “down for the night.” The rebirth though, is by way of ignoring all the stuff that’s been sticking in his crawl. Kanye doesn’t actually figure anything out, rather, he realizes that none of this bullshit should really matter, and he says “fuck it.” He’s rapped, reasoned, and produced his neuroses away and well, that’s about as hopeful as MBDTF is gonna get.

The superstar rap and bullshit choir of “Lost In The World” orders Kanye to “run from the lights,” and those are presumably, the same lights that exposed the world to how weird and unglamorous it all is. Calling it escapism isn’t accurate because Kanye’s well aware of all the pain and problems right over his shoulder, he’s just keeping them all at bay for awhile. He’s buying time. Like everything on MBDTF, “Lost In The World” is about catharsis. Acknowledging the pain, expressing it, but never turning it into some life-affirming thesis or anything. Maybe next time.

Nowhere is this irresolution clearer than in the structure of “Lost In The World.” It’s an ideal ending song, one last sigh on an album of sighs, and every piece of it is put in place to maximize the effect of Gil Scot Heron’s “Comment No. 1,” which mind you, Kanye has sliced and diced like he would a dusty soul (or these days, prog-rock) sample. Kanye’s picked the least radical, most accessible aspects of “Comment No. 1,” mainly removing the piercing but for MBDTF’s sake, irrelevant critique of chic white revolutionaries, therefore recontextualizing “All I want is a good home and a wife and children and some food to feed them every night” as a humble, universal desire. This isn’t any different than taking an old Chaka Khan record and turning it into a self-mythologizing hit rap single, though many people will tell you that it is.

If sampling helps keep sounds of the past relevant, well Kanye makes Gil Scot Heron sound current here. It helps that Kanye’s spent much of the album reinforcing this sense that America is on the decline (and blending that decline in with his own issues with fame and love), but “after all is said and done, build a new route to China if they’ll have you,” sounds very 2010, given the current sense that China’s indeed the next world super power–that is, if all the super powers don’t annihilate each other with nuclear weapons first.

Mostly though, Gil Scot Heron, especially when his vitriol for hippies, yippies, and pretty much everybody else is removed, verbalizes the empathy Kanye is too confused, angry, and depressed about to verbalize. He’s the brave bold political poet that Kanye can’t be and maybe wants to be but just isn’t. What’s loud and clear on Kanye’s verse in “All Of The Lights,” and runs through rap-rants about the media, racism, and emotional warfare on every track though often in oblique, confused ways, gets balled-up and concentrated into Gil Scott Heron’s question to everybody. Who will survive in America? Who will survive in America?? Who will survive in America??? When MBDTF ends, it’s no longer about Kanye. It’s finally about all of us.

Written by Brandon

December 17th, 2010 at 10:39 am

Pitchfork: Toro Y Moi – “Still Sound”

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Wrote about the first single from the new Toro Y Moi, which is some disco-like, Rick James punk-funk sent through the polite filter of indie rock, which means it’s awesome.

Written by Brandon

December 15th, 2010 at 8:21 pm

Posted in Chillwave, Pitchfork