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Archive for the ‘DJ Booman’ Category

Splice Today: Mullyman’s Harder Than Baltimore


So yeah, more off-site content…but I was really happy to get to rant about the new Mullyman album somewhere other than this blog anyways, because Harder Than Baltimore really deserves some praise. It might be my rap album of the year–at least the best thing since Starlito’s Renaissance Gangster–and I think I touched on Mully’s weirder qualities, which are pretty much always overlooked.

Also, Harder Than Baltimore really functions as a kind of meta-commentary on the major label rap album–something I don’t mention in the review because I’m tired of rap reviews that just straw-man the industry/scene to big-up one rapper–as it’s basically all over the place, but never compromised. The dance songs are Baltimore Club-informed (and produced by DJ Booman no less), so they aren’t cheap dance tracks, they’re talking to a dance genre that’s as hard as hip-hop.

Both the title track and the last track, “Deal Or No Deal”, do that thing where you steal a really famous rapper’s voice for your hook, but here, they’re almost commentaries on those rappers. If Jay-Z can brag he “go[es] harder than Baltimore” on a song, well Mullyman’s from the city, you know? If Drake, a former child actor with apparent industry connections is going to fucking brag “Everybody got a deal, I did it without one”, well Mully can actually say that–he started Major League Unlimited right when majors were courting him. The song’s a quiet affront to big-shot self-loathing, self-mythologizers like Aubrey. Mostly though, this is just a really brave, fun, and impeccably put-together album.

Mullyman is a hard-assed, occasionally sensitive rhyme obsessive, who shines on street tracks but possesses the rarefied talent to make pop and dance raps that are just as sharp. Like Baltimore’s version of T.I., he’s versatile but consistent, and keeps his content relatively simple—mostly bragging and stories of growing up in Baltimore—while exhibiting a wider and weirder frame of reference than is really necessary…

Written by Brandon

July 6th, 2010 at 6:28 pm

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

How Big Is Your World? New Rap.

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-Soulja Boy “Love & Hate”

All over Soulja Boy’s Gangsta Grillz tape is a kind of spastic, truly off-the-dome (so it sometimes doesn’t make any sense) style of rapping that’s not that different from the much too talked about Lil B. “Love & Hate” is basically a more down-to-earth and less obnoxiously weird variation on Lil B, all the way down to the strains of melancholy behind the nonsense. “Turn My Swag On” had a hot beat, but there was something sort of depressed and “Here we go again…” about Soulja Boy’s delivery, and it’s here too, due to the hyper-repetitive hook/chant, the constant reminder of his hard-work (“all the blood, sweat, and tears I done wiped from my eye”) and an anti-brag like “Everyday I’m hustlin/Not time for depression”, which implies if he were less busy he’d be depressed.

-Grand Puba featuring Khadija Mohammad “Cold Cold World”

This song’s like catching up with the wacky kid from high-school, now all grown up and a little less funny because that wackiness royally fucked him in “the real world”. At the same time, there’s an awesome refusal by Puba to give into the sadness of the beat or hook entirely and it stems from hard-headed pride and right-minded confidence in his skills. My guess is Puba’s got a ton of horror stories and mistakes he could sit down in front of the mic and “confess”, but the song’s a great deal more affecting by not giving into the depresso-rap signifiers of the production and instead, outlining some of the things he learned about human nature (“one mistake is all it takes/To see who’s real and who’s really fake”) and perserverance (“It ain’t how you fall, it’s how you get back up”). Sad thing: That reference to Lil Jon, Usher, and Ludacris, did Puba record this song in 2004? Probably.

-Dead Prez featuring Avery Storm “Refuse To Lose”

This song is awful because it’s some of the most vanilla political raps I’ve heard in a while, features a Chuck D sampled hook credited as “featuring Chuck D” (a recent trend way worse than auto-tune), and has a tinny hedged-bets between “raw” and “radio” beat…but it does have No Trivia favorite, Avery Storm. Avery’s the right kind of shameless for being okay with soul-whimpering over Chuck D and he gives it his all, as he does on every guest spot handed his way. His bridge, where he sorta sucks his voice inside and sadly hiccups it back out, embraces the high-pitch lack of soul and relative monotone he’s got–he sounds like Travis Morrison from The Dismemberment Plan–and sends out an imperfect emotive yelp that’s sort of the point of R & B anyway.

-Diamond “Tore Up”

This is a good example of a female rapper using expectations for and against her. Diamond (formerly of Crime Mob) can flat-out rap and she’s especially skilled as an aggressive, actually swagger-filled female MC that can rap double-time and all that, and with Crime Mob, that schtick never got old because she was working with killer beats and three other rappers, but on P.ardon M.y .S.wagg, there’s some guests but she’s still gotta anchor the whole thing, so she slows it down, or mixes it up, and even sorta sings. The interaction between Diamond’s shout-rap chant, the slowed and slurred “I need another drink”, and her casual, sinking verses, makes another drinking rap classic. Songs like this or Unladylike’s “Bartender” work as perfect response records to T-Pain, Jamie Foxx, and others’ date-rape R & B drink songs because “Tore Up” or “Bartender” remind you what alcohol does: makes you confused, stumble, etc.

-Egyptian Lover & James Pants “Cosmic Rapp” (Remix)

Another No Trivia favorite, Egyptian Lover. When it comes to dance music, I’m one of those “these kids today” types because postmodern producers like James Pants don’t know anything about a club and the clubs they play to are filled with their buddies that don’t know anything either, so everyone’s dancing to dickless fifth-generation Electro or Club and whatever else made on one another’s Macbooks. This remix is pretty much just an original Egyptian Lover track because industrious Electro’s a constant remix of itself and the same bunch of sounds stretched, flipped, and turned inside-out over and over again. Those post-”Planet Rock”/”Trans Europe Express” thick-rumbles of synthesized strings, garbled vocoder, and 808s stutters of death. The secret to good dance music is that it’s not really all that fun, it’s sort of horrifying and oppressive and filled with dread and menace that circles around you and forces you dance to it, like you had no choice.

-DJ Booman “Pick Em Up” (Unreleased Mix)

From Top Billin Vol. 3 like Emynd’s “What About Tomorrow”, highlighted in the last How Big Is Your World?. There’s just no new non-rap or rap-derived music to highlight, so let’s talk about this alternate mix of The Doo-Dew Kidz classic “Pick Em’ Up”. I talked to Booman about this the other day and was surprised when he told me it was made a day or so after the version that’s now one of the Baltimore Club classics and that it’d been sitting on a DAT since then. My assumption had been that this was a remix he’d done at some point in the past couple of years but only employed when DJ-ing or something. It’s a little less raw than the original, with a few punches of House in there to lighten the mood, but those drill-stutter drums on top of the already devastating and classically hard-as-fuck drums Booman puts on everything make this an interesting footnote to the original.

Written by Brandon

June 25th, 2009 at 10:30 pm