No Trivia

Archive for the ‘City Paper’ Category

Best of Baltimore: AllBmoreHipHop.Com

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So, Baltimore City Paper’s Best of Baltimore issue is out today which is always really fun. I wrote the blurb for “Best Idea”, celebrating the website AllBmoreHipHop.Com, which has a ton of free mixtapes from Baltimore artists and stuff. My suggestions, as in, the ones I don’t really think any reader of this blog could deny, would be Barnes’ Blockwork, Mullyman’s WiRemix 3 and Ogun’s Checkmate. Oh yeah, here’s the blurb:

“It’s really simple: A web site solely devoted to disseminating new singles and mixtapes from Baltimore rappers. Bringing Baltimore into the “Web 2.0″ world, AllBmoreHipHop hosts downloadable versions of homegrown releases from rappers established (Ogun, Skarr Akbar) and up-and-coming (Al Great)–but that’s all it does. No fashion tips, no opinion pieces, and no knucklehead comments fray, just MP3s from artists whose music you’d usually only access if you caught them live–or at Lexington Market and had $6 in your hand for a physical copy. And the site’s section for music videos is full of locals such as Mullyman, Tim Trees, 100 Grandman, and Skarr Akbar–a healthy way to feed the hypebeast that dominates the internet rap world in 2009, in a city that could afford some over-exposure.”

Some other “No Trivia” favorites got awards too, young Club producer DJ Pierre and the totally fucking slept-on Mania Music Group. And Mullyman and DJ Class, but you probably already know about them. Other co-signs would be the paper’s two shout-outs to Mondawmin Mall, which is this awesome mall that’s a lot like the one in Dawn of the Dead and is hilariously known as the scary mall white people don’t go to but isn’t all that scary at all. Also, infinite shouts to Andy Nelson’s BBQ and Club Paradox.

Written by Brandon

September 16th, 2009 at 4:04 am

City Paper Noise: My Crew Be Unruly 2


Some of my scatter-shot thoughts on the “My Crew Be Unruly 2″ show along with some very awesome photos from Josh Sisk are up on City Paper’s Noise blog. My words or the photos (or these or these or these) though, don’t really do the event justice at all and it’s totally the sort of thing that I’d encourage any and everybody to come on down to Baltimore to check out. Seriously, if it happens next year–and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t–you can stay with me or my parents or my grandparents or some shit. Also cop the MCBU LP when it’s out in a few weeks!

“With the Artscape DJ Culture stage relegated to some Wind-Up Space shows last Friday and Saturday night-a kind of cruel and confusing shift, given that July is the one year anniversary of K-Swift’s death and club’s massive global growth over the past year-My Crew Be Unruly 2, the second edition of what better become an annual event from now until the end of time, felt even more essential. That it was even bigger and badder than last year’s, even more vital in its delightfully sloppy mixture of any and everybody, wasn’t lost on those attending. Be it it Paradox regulars or goofy kids that don’t normally set foot in the club, an unspoken “this is something special,” got passed all around and rattled between the walls of “the ‘Dox” two Fridays ago.”

Written by Brandon

July 31st, 2009 at 9:33 pm

City Paper: "Bigger Than Baltimore" (Bmore, Philly, & Jersey Club)

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So, my real big article on Club music’s different strains in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New Jersey is up over at City Paper. It’s part of the yearly “Big Music Thing” and I’m really psyched to have gotten so much space to try to figure out the “differences” between each city’s version of Club music. Thanks to Michael Byrne, City Paper’s Music Editor for thinking of me to do this and Arts Editor Bret McCabe for some crucial help on this thing. Also, Sasha Frere-Jones’ quick excoriation of each city’s Club sound was the starting point for this article.

And big thanks to all the people I interviewed, DJ Booman and Jimmy Jones, Scottie B, Emynd, DJ Sega, and DJ Tameil. Sega and Tameil even drove down to Baltimore together to talk to me which was beyond helpful. I hope I did everybody well in this thing:

“Club Music is the new hip-hop!” Philadelphia’s DJ Sega howls his mini-manifesto in Rod Lee’s Club Kingz record store in downtown Baltimore, then laughs. “I wanna get a shirt made that say that shit.” DJ Tameil, of Newark, N.J.’s Brick City Bandits, grins in agreement.

Give it a few years, maybe a generation, and Baltimore club may become the “new hip-hop.” Right now, the city’s homegrown dance music claims a Billboard-charting jam from one of its OG producers, steady interest by music fans worldwide, and burgeoning, autonomous scenes nearby. It’s called “Brick City club” in Newark, “party music” in Philadelphia. To Doo Dew Kidz vocalist Jimmy Jones, however, it’s just called club. “Keep it as ‘club,’” he says. “It don’t make sense to call it ‘Baltimore club’ or anything else. It’s club.”

Scottie B, co-founder of Unruly Records and one of the city’s most fervent club ambassadors, is wry about the name tiff. “You know when people get mad, though?” he asks. “When you brand something that’s already something and brand it something else. Tameil’s branded it through his name–he’s bigger than Brick City. [Philly] started calling it ‘party music’ because New York’s first, Philly’s second, Baltimore’s third, and you can’t go up the chain. Philly’s not gonna call anything Baltimore something.” Fair enough.”

Written by Brandon

July 15th, 2009 at 11:06 pm

City Paper: "Doom Patrol : Doom’s Roundabout Recession Rap Hits Home"


“Absolute power corrupts absolutely” goes the seething hook of “Absolutely” off Born Like This (Lex), the latest album from Doom (nee MF Doom). Most of Born feels similarly hopeless and deterministic–it’s the first post-Obama political album whose cynicism doesn’t feel decadent–but that’s oddly refreshing because last time dude dropped a proper album, it was a toothless collaboration with lightweight producer Danger Mouse that had Doom repping Adult Swim and rapping with Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

On the new one, though, Doom’s rap pals are like-minded weirdo thugs (Raekwon, Ghostface, Kurious, Freddie Foxxx) and, on “Cellz,” the ornery rhymes of Charles Bukowski. “Cellz” places a wonky stumble of drums beneath an extended sample from said scribe (the poem “Dinosauria, We”) that lays out a series of darkly funny, fucked-up ironies of American life: “Born like this, into this, into hospitals which are so expensive, that’s its cheaper to die.” It’s a brilliant collaboration.”

Written by Brandon

April 15th, 2009 at 4:26 am

Posted in City Paper, MF Doom

City Paper Noise: The Lyricists Transmittin’ Live EP

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I’ve talked-up the beats of Baltimore’s DJ Excel a bunch of times now (for sampling Stoner Metal,for making the Baltimore Club equivalent of Tortoise’s “DJ’ed”,for making the beat for E-Major’s “Don’t Worry”), and now there’s his collaboration with Port Huron, Michigan’s The Lyricists:

“Although Bmore Original released the Lyricists’ full-length L3 last year, Transmittin’ Live is the Port Huron, Mich., underground act’s first musical collaboration with DJ Excel. Excel’s blueprint is the boom-bap you expect from a crew called the Lyricists, but one of Baltimore’s most ubiquitous beat makers grabs some of club music’s energy and avant production for the EP, too.

The titular track bumps like ’90s New York, as metallic sci-fi sounds pulse and near-subliminal snippets–part Dilla Donuts style, part clipped Baltimore club vocal–of a blues singer tumble in the background. And it’s all brought back to earth by worker-bee rhymes from Illtone and Rym-Benda, and pragmatic scratches from in-house DJ, Haus Diesel.

More than comfortable spitting hard-ass battle raps, the Lyricists’ real success comes in knowing the right time to rein it in and chill-out. On “The Juggle,” Illtone matches Excel’s woozy strings by ungritting his teeth, and dropping the commanding boom. It makes a song about regret (“stress shows in the form of gray stubble”) palpable.

“Bubble Guts” employs their storytelling and simile spouting talents toward nothing more than a hilarious song about, well, taking a shit. The Lyricists trade lines back and forth (“Yo, my palms are sweaty from grippin’ handicap rails/ Droppin’ logs the size of white whales”) and DJ Haus Diesel punctuates the scat-rap with turntablism mimicking the sound of a diarrhea burst.

With Excel subtly stretching the boom-bap rap form to its limits, the Lyricists actively eschew the grotesque cliches of stubborn traditionalist hip-hop. In the past, the group has done some “rap sucks now” kvetching but, here, they trade it in for self-effacing humor and weary tales of maturation (hometown lament “P.H, MI.” and “Grown Up”).”

Written by Brandon

February 27th, 2009 at 6:38 am

City Paper Noise: Blaqstarr & Diplo "Get Off"

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My first time contributing to the City Paper’s music blog “Noise”. I’ve been polite about it by not complaining before, but really, I wish they’d get my last name right. Either way, this is a really cool and weird record, whatever your opinions on MAD DECENT are, you should check it out.

“Blaq Starr’s dead-set on respectfully wrecking his hometown genre’s trappings, but late 2008’s cloying cover of The Wire theme (featuring M.I.A) and “Bang Hard,” an affecting slow burner that, nonetheless, was on some “fame’s gettin’ to me” business, felt calculated weird–not Blaq Starr weird. “Get Off,” a new single released through Mad Decent–on pink vinyl no less–stretches club’s limits by not trying so hard…”

You can check out “Get Off” at Blaqstarr’s MySpace and on imeem too.

Written by Brandon

January 20th, 2009 at 7:37 pm

City Paper: "Some Girls" (88 Keys & Kanye West)


“GONE ARE THE DAYS OF rap’s dumb pride in straight-talk misogyny. The use of auto-tune puts everything crooned through it in quotes; the safe preface of “this is real talk” tempers a rap that Ice Cube would’ve dropped without caution. Now, anger toward women is couched in twice-removed contempt. It’s a less “offensive,” but oddly more nefarious form of sexism than the umpteenth rapper bragging about running a train on a chick.

Recent albums from Kanye West protégé 88 Keys (The Death of Adam, on Deconstruction) and West himself (808s and Heartbreak, on Roc-A-Fella) both sound brilliant, but are lyrically problematic. Both guys’ relationship raps are absent of insight and oddly confident in blaming it all on the ladies. They’re best enjoyed with the very same caveat given to gleefully offensive ’90s rap classics of the “Dre Day” era: Ignore the lyrics, dig the beats…”

Written by Brandon

December 3rd, 2008 at 5:07 am

City Paper Review: Mount Eerie Lost Wisdom & Dawn

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“Since Mount Eerie, the 2003 follow-up to pretty much certified indie classic The Glow Pt. 2, Phil Elverum has switched his band’s name from the Microphones to Mount Eerie, started selling his music almost exclusively through his web site, and released a impressive mess of singles and full-length oddities with little interest in how they’re digested. This year has already seen the rerelease of The Glow Pt. 2 and a new Mount Eerie EP, Black Wooden Ceiling. The EP is an unexpected homage to black metal, a halfway point between all the nice stuff expected from Mount Eerie and the trebly heaviness of metal’s most evil subgenre…”

Written by Brandon

October 15th, 2008 at 4:04 am

Posted in City Paper, Indie, Mt Eerie

City Paper Review: Jesu ‘Why Are We Not Perfect? EP

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“After last year’s Conqueror, there’s not much more Justin Broadrick can do with Jesu’s mix of indie-rock emotion and hard-ass heaviness. So it’s not a surprise that his recent work strays from that signature sound. But when the music on Why Are We Not Perfect? and a split with art-metal outfit Envy eschews oppressive guitar for electronics, it’s hard to not be a knee-jerk fan and freak out.

Perfect’s opener, “Farewell,” and the titular track kick off like the ethereal intro to so many other Jesu songs, but without crunching riffs or some kind of release–the songs go nowhere. Along with slightly heavier “alternate” versions of those two tracks, “Blind and Faithless” is the most effective, with guitar layers and an odd fried-wire synth surge throughout. Most of the time, though, this new Jesu sound recalls such lame industrial-pop bands as Filter or something. That’s sort of cool in theory–art-metal God makes embarrassingly sincere alt-rock–but Jesu’s appeal was, in part, the ragged disconnect between Broadrick’s whiny vocals and the oppressive mass of crunching guitars. Sissy singing accompanied by sissy electronic accompaniment makes too much sense.

Things work out a little better on the Envy split. The Jesu tracks rumble but also approach danceability. Still, Envy’s contributions are most memorable. Its stuttering microhouse jam “Conclusion of Existence” beats Jesu’s attempts, and on “A Winter Quest for Fantasy,” Envy does crushingly heavy better, too. “Fantasy” starts off light and Chris Isaak-sexy, then explodes into a crescendo of searing guitars and cathartic noise. In short, it’s doing what Jesu should’ve done all along.”

Written by Brandon

August 27th, 2008 at 4:15 am

Posted in City Paper, Jesu

City Paper Article: Old New Hope (Dennis Wilson & Droids)

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I was sitting around the past few days thinking about what kind of image would accompany a pretty weird article on the re-issues of Dennis Wilson’s ‘Pacific Ocean Blue’ and Droids’ ‘Star Peace’ and had images of Dennis Wilson’s face with a Star Destroyer flying above bouncing around in my head and then this like, bearded C-3PO floating around on space-beach drops and it’s better than anything I could’ve imagined! It’s by Alex Fine for those interested.

“THREE DECADES AFTER THEIR original releases, both Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson’s 1977 stoner-pop album Pacific Ocean Blue (Epic/Legacy) and the Droids’ 1978 space-disco relic Star Peace (Repressed) are receiving the re-release treatment, and the coincidence is plenty apt. In the late ’70s, both these albums were wonders of displacement–either too far behind or ahead of the time to achieve much more than a ripple.

If getting Brian Wilson out of the sandbox, onto the stage, and into the studio for 1976’s 15 Big Ones and 1977’s Love You failed to pique interest, Dennis Wilson’s even hazier mix of nostalgia and over-the-hill ennui wasn’t going to top the charts. And the disco novelty appeal of Droids is only superficial: Star Peace is fully-realized electronic music light years ahead of Studio 54, all wrapped around a utopian, sci-fi conceit…”

Written by Brandon

July 2nd, 2008 at 10:34 am