JUNE 15, 2004

Article on an upcoming Nicole Kidman film in censorship hell.  I like the director's music videos and Kidman as an actress and attractive woman, and maybe I'm sick but I'm dying to see that weird scene described here!  Sounds like a very unique story.
 

JUNE 13, 2004

Here are the playlists I did for a two-disc college graduation present mix CD for my cousin, Sarah.
 

Hood - Lines Low To Frozen Ground
Pharoah Sanders - Upper Egypt And Lower Egypt
Sun Ra Arkestra - Discipline
Ground Zero - A Better Tomorrow + I Say A Little Prayer (Roland Kirk Version)
RZA - Ghost Dog Theme (With Dogs And Efx)
Ghostface f/ Sheek Louch & Styles P. - Metal Lungies
Kanye West f/ Dirt McGirt - Keep The Receipt
Sagat - Funk Dat
Madvillain - All Caps
ESG - Moody (Spaced Out)
Can - Moonshake
King Kooba - Fooling Myself (Easy Access Orchestra Remix)
Isaac Hayes - Ike's Mood I
Travis Christensen - Piss-Takes And Mistakes
Boards Of Canada - Kaini Industries (Titsworth's Little Jokey Parody Remix)
Global Goon - bassnvocalz (Titsworth's Rough Edit 11/18/02)
Travis Christensen - Ain't No Mountain High Enough
Travis Christensen - Analyze Dis!
Travis Christensen - Paula Damon
Travis Christensen - Extortion, Briefly Mentioned
Travis Christensen - 9000 gigs (what a freak!) #1
Travis Christensen - ahnold2
Travis Christensen - ballshow
Travis Christensen - Pay Me A Compliment
Travis Christensen - placemat lover
Travis Christensen - 'Think Fish' - Terry Bozzio - homo bath house (2)
Travis Christensen - gat by my side vocal
Harvey Mandel - Cristo Redento
Hugh Hopper & Alan Gowen - Morning Order
Gil Scott-Heron - Peace Go With You Brother
Kelis - Suspended
Asa-Chang & Junray - Hana
Hossam Ramzy & His Egyptian Ensemble - Enta Omri
Beatnuts f/ dead prez - Look Around
Nancy Sinatra - Sugar Town
Ann Peebles - Trouble, Heartaches & Sadness
Madvillain - Fancy Clown
Pixies - In Heaven/Where Is My Mind (live at Coachella 5/1/04)
PJ Harvey - Shame
Orange Dust - Pausel
Aaliyah vs. Human League - The Sound Of The Resolution (bootleg remix by Leila)
Newcleus - Jam On It
Slum Village - Climax (Girl Shit)
In Gowan Ring - To Thrum A Glassy Stem

"Climax" is pretty questionable but, like the awesome font I used on the cover of disc 2 that contains hearts in some of the letters, I didn't notice the awkward content until after the whole thing was done, I was just going by the surface.  On the surface, "Climax" is an amazing song with a ghostly (eerie and bare) beat by Jay Dee.  But I remembered later that the song is about threesomes, which is kind of a dubious message on a CD made for a cousin.  Fortunately, I don't think there are any other gaffs and there's certainly no overriding theme, as you can tell by the variety of the songs.  I didn't want to include much electronic music or overload it with hip-hop.  I did want to highlight fantastic songs from the 60s-80s that still sound fresh today and just give her a batch of songs she'll really like (I hope) from artists familiar and new to her.  I also wanted to give her some music/sounds I made on my computer (no instruments on these, sadly) from late summer 2002 to January 2003.
 

JUNE 3, 2004

Very funny diary entry of Demetri Martin, Conan O'Brien writer and comic.  He's talking about a noisy neighbor. I can totally relate to this; I had a wannabe MC neighbor last school year so I had the same bass-through-the-walls problem.
 

MAY 30, 2004

"I'm Rick James, bitch!"  Still funny, right? .....right?
 

Good news!

Punk beefcake Henry Rollins is starting a new record label focusing on rare and unreleased music from the Washington, D.C., area. "A couple of years ago, it hit me that there was some really cool music from my hometown of Washington, D.C., that was either out-of-print or unreleased and I should do something about that," Rollins wrote in his recent newsletter to fans. Dubbed District Line, the imprint's first releases will be Trouble Funk's Live & Early Singles and the compilation :30 Over DC, which features cuts by late-1970s D.C. bands such as the Slickee Boys, Half Japanese and the Nurses.
Aw yeah!
 

I noticed today two stalwart long-time images on my main page ("Yo, you on my dick, thanks for the compliments / You be fucked up by my Table of Contents" -Black Thought) were missing: "kick the baby" (owned) and my 1998-or-so TheSpark.com image.  The former I just replaced from another site (yay bandwidth theft), the other as you'll see is gone forever.  So let's say goodbye by pasting the image and what it said (stolen from here).
 

EXPERIMENTER
(Dominant Introvert Abstract Thinker)

Hundie Jo

Like just 4% of the population you are an EXPERIMENTER (DIAT). Although you're slightly shy (admit it!), you love control. When a problem comes in your way, you stomp on it swiftly and decisively. You are bothered easily by failure in others and failure in yourself. You don't like people that you don't think are intelligent. Rather than arguing with them, however, you would just as soon ignore them altogether. 
In relationships, you have a strong heart. And because you're introverted, people take you as someone they can trust. But the fact is that in addition to solving problems, you like to create them. So there's a decent chance that you'll cheat on a loved one. If you do, you'll likely get away with it.

You're a good person at heart, but then again, who isn't? 

Huh!  I think some things have changed in the six years since I took the test; I would have liked a re-test!
 

For my own records, this is the definitive info on the shelved 2CD Coil-produced Eskaton compilation The Star Shaped Individual in Society, due as early as 2000 and last realistically talked about in 2001.  This info is assembled from various sources by me.  Artists who contributed:

Coil
ELpH 
Autechre
Screwtape
Matmos
Mount Vernon Arts Lab
COH
Pluxus*
Boards of Canada
ISAN**
Mike Paradinas***
Anal****

* Info from Coil's text-only discography
** Info from Mike Paradinas posting as splodgechops on Xltronic
*** Info from Mike Paradinas' unfinished discography (confirms that it's him)
**** Logical guess (see below)

Confirmed tracks:
Matmos - The Struggle Against Unreality Begins
Mike Paradinas - Droops
Mike Paradinas - Inclement
Anal - The Star-Shaped Individual In Society
The Matmos track was the highlight of The Civil War for me; I never would have guessed it was already three years old.  I'm not sure if the Paradinas tracks were later used on Bilious Paths with new titles. The track by Anal, a Coil related group, appears on a compilation given away to Cornucopea Festival attendees April 1st & 2nd, 2000.  Given the title it was very likely meant for this compilation.

On how it would sound:

I was going to have a track out on eskaton. All made of harpsichord notes played ultr-fast like conlon nanncarrow meets ligeti. but john/jeff & sleazy/pete have had it for 
over 3 years now.
  -Mike Paradinas (here)

It was originally made as a contribution to the compilation "The Star Shaped Individual in Society" at the request of Coil; when this compilation did not materialize we decided to include it with newer material, but it remains dedicated to Geff and Sleazy in spirit.
  -Matmos on their track (here)

The Autechre Visual Discography says it was Gescom, not Autechre, appearing.

Lastly, the original title of the compilation was Eschatology.
 

MAY 27, 2004

Anti-Bush Game.  This shit is off the hook!  Not only is it funny and with decent 8-bit throwback gameplay, it's full of political facts and figures.  Not a whole lot of it was new to me but it put things in a very interesting perspective.  I highly recommend you play it.  On the positive side, it has tons of pop culture and political figures in it (I'll leave you to be surprised) and it's very interesting.  It's a nice mix of nerd and hipster slang/references; not too cool or arrogant for its own good.  On the negative side, it is very time consuming (reading everything and playing it took me almost an hour, although I enjoyed it thoroughly) and depending on your connection it could be a huge load (there are online and offline versions available to play).  In between, it's heavily slanted toward supporting John Kerry, who these emo fucks seem to really think is a savior and the polar opposite of Bush (newsflash...).  In case it wasn't obvious, I do think he's a better choice than Bush by far, I'm just glad I don't have to vote for him because I think he's one of the worst Democratic candidates ever.  Clark and even Edwards were better choices just this election!  Why does everyone want a moderate, big money Democratic candidate?
 

I highly recommend David Bowie's mid to late 70s back catalogue!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

More stuff to listen to: wav's of totally mad cicada bug sounds (1 and 2).  Good to sample for your music or just listen to and be freaked out by.
 

Clear Channel is evil evil evil evil evil evil evil.  Read this about them further denying artists due income.
 

MAY 19, 2004

Never thought I'd come across this: GAYHIPHOP.COM Cypher Session.  Yes, gay rappers do exist and they are ready to battle you, big boy.  (To be honest I just took a look at the link, I haven't had the chance to read it but it looks funny.)
 

Art: Salvador Dali, auto-sodomized by His own Inspiration.  Be sure to check out the whole gallery, it's all very impressive.
 

"To kill time is not murder, it's suicide." -William James, psychologist and philosopher (1842-1910)
 

MAY 10, 2004

Another quality definition from UrbanDictionary.com: scene.  Choice quote: "Scenesters are perpetually infatuated with ones self, taking countless pictures of themselves."
 

I have been having an absolutely terrific time this last week reading Trent Reznor's answers to GOOD fan questions on nin.com.  Click here to check it out for yourself and be sure to click on the archives.  He even answered one of my questions (I posted one as Travis).  It's not only gleeful to read these insightful personally typed responses, it's downright amusing to be exposed to Trent's sense of humor, dorky side, and his surprisingly "emo" sensibility (see the suicide question and answer from 5/10).  I never thought he was a god who was way above normal conversation, I had just heard he was an asshole and not a very deep thinker.  Plus he has built up a mystique over the course of 15 years which he is perhaps purposely lowering by answering these questions so candidly.  I'm really glad he dropped that act and is conversing with his biggest fans because we were thisclose to writing him off after not doing or saying anything in over two years.

I just asked:

i'm sure you're well aware of how contentious "deep," the song itself, was with fans. some liked it but some really didn't, and that was a departure from previously liking everything you've done. in hindsight what do you think of the song? some said it sounded somewhat recycled from the last album while others thought it was merely bland. and some thought it was just a great new song.

also: with tapeworm dead, is there a way we could hear a studio version of "vacant," the song APC did on tour? i figure since it's the only song written by tapeworm that has been heard by the public, we should hear the true version of it instead of your song forever being mired by inferior live audience recordings of another band's rendition (however great). this would be much worse than if the fan-made, file-traded "lee completion mix" of "metal" had been the only full version of that song to ever surface. thank you!

Let's see if I can sneak in this question as "t.c."
 

MAY 4, 2004

Cam'ron can be so adorable!!!!!! (no homo).  You'll hear what I mean after you listen to him break down one of culture's latest and most insecure and unnecessary expressions (Windows Media stream from Hot 97).
 

MAY 1, 2004

Photos of US Torture of Iraqi Prisoners At The Abu Ghraib Prison In Iraq.  I could go off on this subject but I won't.  All I'll say is I think that the military privately encourages or at least condones this barbaric behavior.  There may be a backlash now, but I think if they hadn't been caught it would continue because they perceive the enemy as animals, making the torture and humiliation acceptable.  I think the U.S. (and British) military has historically been abusive.  Just look at Vietnam.  So as not to come off insensitive and ill informed, I also know it is very hard being away from home, especially in a foreign land, facing the unknown with the possibility you may not survive.  I don't mean to belittle or vilify soldiers; I'm sure most of them are good, even those who "lose it."  But I'm not going to make excuses for this.  Cracking under pressure should not entail pissing on brown people and forcing them to sodomize each other.  Look at the photos, it's like something out of a Nazi concentration camp.  Do these soldiers not remember what side we were on?
 

APRIL 30, 2004

Listening to hip-hop makes you really appreciate Depeche Mode's production when you go back and listen. And listening to Depeche Mode makes you really want to produce better hip-hop. And damn, they/Martin Gore wrote some great lyrics, too. Some you can't really appreciate until you've kind of wronged somebody (however unintentionally). Example:

Apologies
Are all you seem to get from me
But just like a child
You make me smile
When you care for me
And you know...

It's a question of lust
It's a question of trust
It's a question of not letting
What we've built up
Crumble to dust
It is all of these things and more
That keep us together
  -"A Question Of Lust"

You know, I always thought these lyrics were hilarious/plain silly (ask Nick). I think it's just because of the way they're sung. Now that I'm older and have experienced more I can definitely appreciate both the words and the not-so-cheesy-afterall way they're sung.
 

APRIL 29, 2004

What the hell?  Play around with this animation.
 

Another multimedia hookup!  Emcee battles.  Check the video section for some big names and good matchups.
 

MORE MORE MORE MORE MORE!!!!!!!!!!  Turntablelab and Hollertronics' Diplo mixes RJD2, free to listen to in its entirety over at Def Jux.  Ingenious mixing of the RJD2 track with heavily chopped and twerked choir vocals and the Neptunes-produced instrumental to "Grindin'" by Clipse.  Cat Power is freaked later and there's a good remixing of "Roses" by Outkast.  Here's a 16MB mp3 (direct linked, so Save As) if that's what you prefer.
 

Yet more mp3's.  Garage/psychedelic rock and lots of it.  Take that, rock revivalist poseur bands!  So sick of hearing people rave about the Yeah Yeah Yeahs or whatever Spin says is this month's "it" band.  Believe it or not, the original stuff is much, much better.  I'll take the Stooges over the Strokes or the White Stripes any day, too.
 

I got the opportunity to ask about the RZA/Rage Against The Machine connection I posted about a few months back.  A supposed Rage expert who worked with the band through their label from 1993-1999 popped by a Zack de la Rocha forum for a few days to take questions.  His response to how true it is that RZA did 11 songs with Rage:

rza and zack and tom worked on a song together for the x-files movie, but it never got finished. tom also played guitar for a wu tang album, but the track "good thing we brought the glock" wasnt released as far as i know. thats all i know about the rza/rage recording connection.
Looks like the X-Files movie soundtrack could've been MUCH better.  This song, along with an early version of "Metal" by NIN and a couple other new songs by great artists that I can't remember, would've been great to hear.  And FYI, the glock song was released on the last Wu album, it's just not in the credits (click here for lyrics).  Musically it does not have guitar so it probably is another mix without Tom.
 

More Nader bullshit, probably the fairest article I've seen so far though.  I can't believe people aren't more concerned with non-voters and Democrats who vote Republican, not to mention Kerry's own shifting platform and shifty personality.  I love how the writer of this article says he'd like to vote for Nader but won't, just because.  People seem to really misunderstand the Electoral system and the concept of the swing state.  Some states always go to one party; Maryland is one of those (Democrat).  If it weren't, if it were another Florida, then I'd probably vote Kerry despite how shitty a candidate he is and probably always will be.  But some states you can vote for Bozo the Clown and not worry about Kerry or Bush losing because it always goes to that party.  So for the writer to just chalk it up as a nobrainer and continue romanticizing the Democratic party while agreeing vehemently with Nader is pretty funny to me.
 

Dead wrestlers.  Sad because I grew up watching these guys (until age 12, I never went back after that).  The whole site looks pretty interesting actually.
 

If a girl looks pretty but boring is she pretty boring?
 

APRIL 21, 2004

You Got Served: Travis vs. Pitchfork Media.
Below is the quasi-essay.  Below that are the short but sweet email correspondences.  I just thought I'd put my thoughts into writing once and for all.

I finally emailed Pitchfork Media to give them a piece of my mind.  I've disapproved of how they handle biz for a long time, and have been vocal about it, but one recent review served as the last straw for me.  Brent DiCrescenzo, one of Pitchfork's most notorious reviewers, decided to take his jadedness toward fun music (and, in my opinion, toward blacks doing "white music," which is historically unacceptable over at Pitchfork, a site that routinely trumpets white rappers) out on the new N.E.R.D. album, Fly Or Die.  Now, I love this very much and as of this moment it's my favorite album of 2004.  However, I can handle a bad review of an album I like.  The thing about Pitchfork is that they have a bitter agenda to assassinate anything with too much of a critical buzz.  Like the gossip mags that created Bennifer, Pitchfork lives to destroy the musical demigods they build up.  Factor in commercial viability and the scathing review writes itself.  I could talk all night about the laughably hypocritical and ignorant attitudes Pitchfork as a staff take toward many types of music (one quickie: if it's electronica, they won't give it a good rating unless it's a "breakthrough," some kind of astonishing advancement in the artform, whereas they are quick to give out 8's and 9's to the latest revivalist garage rock nonsense).  Suffice to say, they possess a very limited view of what music is and should be.

The worst part of this is somehow they maintain an excellent reputation for their reviews and their fun and down to earth attitude about music when their attitude is anything but.  It's hard for me to believe so many smart and cool people can be so oblivious to their agendas.  They are not punk; they are the shockingly conservative, style-dictating, taste-policing system smart music fans should be rebelling against, not followingly blindly.  In my eyes, most of the reviewers are smug poseurs, wannabe-but-never-will-be Lester Bangs with an ax to grind because they're disgruntled, socially inept dorks who only wish they could create something meaningful.  They write frankly terrible creative writing style reviews to cover up the fact that they all have something to prove and to feign "originality" to those who don't know better.

What I would have said in my second reply to Brent, if he would have emailed me back after getting eaten alive, is something like this:
You know when I know to buy something? When you give it a BAD rating. I can't even say review because you almost never get around to talking about the music. (By the way, there are other places to masturbate on the Internet than a music review.) It's clear to me you don't know music. Case in point: Pharrell doesn't sing "fucked you from behind" in falsetto.  Do you even know what that term means? Let me quote something from Jay-Z, who I'm sure is one of your favorites, right? "Do you fools listen to music or do you just skim through it?" I mean, really, Brent, did you even listen to the album once? I think you just fast forwarded through it to find some lyrics to take completely out of context. I'm fine with the fact that the album isn't perfect. There are songs here that aren't great. But you couldn't even give it an honest review, you had to fabricate flaws to give it the 3.1 rating you had in mind before you even heard the record, IF you heard it. Thank you for proving my opinion of Pitchfork completely right with every review you post. I would say I look forward to your next work of fiction but you suck at prose too. Bye.

Below are the actual email correspondences.

>>From: "Travis Christensen" <howisya@hotmail.com>
>>To: brent@pitchforkmedia.com
>>Subject: Fly Or Die review
>>Date: Fri, 16 Apr 2004 17:06:02 +0000
>>
>>it's hilarious how you utterly misunderstood and willfully 
>>misrepresented the N.E.R.D. album in your review. fucking loser.
>>
>>-travis
>>howisya.tripod.com

>From: "Robert DiCrescenzo" <brentdicrescenzo@hotmail.com>
>To: howisya@hotmail.com
>Subject: RE: Fly Or Die review
>Date: Fri, 16 Apr 2004 21:15:25 -0500
>
>wow, a NERD fan!  I guess I owe somebody fifty cents.
>
>get taste,
>brent D

a PITCHFORK reviewer telling ME to get taste! hahahaha! because you are all SUCH tastemakers and not at ALL pretensious. no, pitchfork hold no vendettas at all, you guys do a wonderful job with honest and meaningful reviews that make complete sense and definitely aren't exercises in smugness and contempt. you TOTALLY get good music and don't hold double standards for anything. hey brent, i love how you spent your whole review sharing your extremely interesting opinion of pharrell instead of justifying the low rating for the music! keep up the great work!

get help,
travis

For what it's worth, I do enjoy and agree with some Pitchfork reviews, some of the time.  They just simply don't merit their tremendous reputation.  The droves of people who go to the record store buying whatever gets above a 7 (that means it's excellent in Pitchfork code), and not bothering with whatever sacrificial lamb is put to agonizing death on any given day, are very misled and misinformed.  I highly recommend to any music fans reading this All Music Guide for professional (ie: not self-indulgent and purposely misleading), extremely fair, and comprehensive reviews.

UPDATE! After I initially uploaded this, I found that Pitchfork got slayed even worse by SomethingAwful.com not a day earlier in a hilarious send-up entitled RichDork.

In case you've never heard of Pitchfork Media before, it's one of those uber-scenester hipster indie shithead mags which allocates its time fawning over either "intelligent" bands like Radiohead or super-underground indie acts that nobody has ever heard of and usually have the word "project" or "experiment" in their name. It's a culture of pretending to be more intelligent and obscure than the next guy so your musical cock will be larger than theirs and all the ladies will flock to you like cosmetic surgeons to Thom Yorke's disturbingly mutilated face.
No kidding!  The only thing I'd point out, perhaps as a diehard Radiohead fan, is that even Radiohead take their lumps from them now (see what I said above about Pitchfork living to tear down their own critical darlings to not appear so one-dimensional).

Finally, just to make this the "total package" Pitchfork critique, here's a link to my old thread about the site.

Use this link if you want to point people to this Pitchfork essay (without having to wade through everything else).
 

This is an old entry I had written on paper but not typed. It predates what I wrote about Nader a month ago (incidentally...). Have I become a "shook one"? Have the Dems got to me? I've actually considered not voting for Nader because he's running as an Independent and not a Green, so it's not like he'd be getting them federal funding (and on all ballots). I think this may be another close call, even though Maryland is historically Democrat. Well, yes, it might be a close call, but whose fault is that? Just like it was Gore's fault he lost (including his home state) to a political lightweight when the economy was on his side (the Clinton administration), it will be Kerry's fault if he loses to a president despised by so many people. Let's not even think about whether or not Gore truly "lost." He should have won by a landslide. I don't think Kerry is even as good as Gore and Gore sucks. They better not dwell on Nader in their campaign; they should focus on the half of the population that doesn't vote, that is when they're not working on making Kerry likable and relevant. Sure, they're trying and I applaud their small success. However, they can't rely purely on Bush hate to get in the White House, they're going to have to really make this guy a good leader and someone who will fight for the majority, not reward the elite.

I just find it hard to believe that someone whose current wife is worth $700 million is going to increase taxes for the rich. If he says that he's made enough money already and has no problem giving some back, I don't believe him. People who make hundreds of millions of dollars stop at nothing to make more money. They are addicted to wealth. I don't care how philanthropic they are, people who have that much money do everything they can to sustain their wealth. That's why CEOs and company owners make so much more than 99% of their employees. Look at the Waltons and the reality of working at Wal-Mart, who hire illegal immigrants to save even more money. Look at McDonald's, Nike, Coca-Cola. All of these companies are raking in money by NOT sharing it with others (ie: the lower rungs of the company). Kerry being extremely rich is not the only cause for alarm. I don't know how trustworthy this document (Kerry Vs. Kerry) is coming from the GOP--I imagine context may explain some of these and on many of these points he's addressing the execution, not the original plan--but take a look at these 35 crucial issues Kerry has flip-flopped on. Judging by how recently these supposed changes of mind took place and are continuing to take place, he seems to be a career liar. It's sad that realistically we only have these two choices when there are honest and more qualified people running, regardless of their political leanings. In the end, I obviously hope Kerry wins but even then the future looks bleek.
 

"There's so many people just going over the same ground and so many poor records in electronica that I think people need to start re-assessing it. I think because a lot of the records use sounds and textures people are unaccustomed to it becomes difficult to critically assess them and see through the bullshit. A lot of it is just lazy rubbish. We're basically catering to the one percent who want to dig a little deeper, take in the influences but also move it on. Just get a copy of the MAX software by Cycling '74 and Reaktor by Native Instruments and you won't buy another electronica record!"
  -Hood as reprinted in this interview.

Totally agree! That's why I've kind of grown bored with it and listen to people like Hood (and The Notwist, Telefon Tel Aviv, Squarepusher, Bjork, etc.) who combine electronics with traditional instrumentation. Of course in the purely electronic realm people like Aphex Twin are always going to have me listening because they are just brilliant and know how to push the envelope and remain exciting (RDJ doesn't even have to do piano compositions but those are nice). But really I don't buy much electronica anymore because it's reached sort of the pinnacle of technical exploration and has neglected artistic exploration in the process.
 

I took the liberty to transcribe the first verse of J-Live's "9000 Miles" because it's pretty inspirational and I can definitely relate to it. Now this is a "Hip-Hop Quotable" ("...but you don't hear me though").

My mind speaks mathematics, sometimes I feel English
is a poor translation of my heart's palpitations
That's why I give it to you quarter notes at a time
So that my rhymes are aided by body gyrations
But now it's like each hymn ain't nothin' but a word with
countless synonyms, where should I begin with 'em?
Every sentence is a jail bid lockin' me in
to bars of meaning with so much space between 'em
And it's all real, if I took a little bit of time
to reflect on the unreal my brain might
peel off my mind to reveal this, pegasus Sprewell
wholesale fairy tale echo in a conch shell
But why say it if you can't see it?
I can call it abstract and say take what you want from it
I can do that all day 'til my tongue goes numb from it
But see what good would come from it?
I got somethin' to say, I can't run from it
I gotta confront it, I can't watch while this
music that taught me so much as a child
grows louder every day but the world grows dumb from it
So every line that I draw from my pen
That shapes a letter that makes a word that feeds a verse
is a swim for home, a place with infinite styles
But it feels like 9000 miles...
This is real hip-hop. Verses like this one and pretty much every lyric J-Live's ever rapped are why I love hip-hop and can deeply appreciate it as an English scholar/writer-to-be. This verse is not only written with cohesive flow and perfect style, the images and references are chosen for maximum significance. And if you know much about either music or poetry, you can appreciate J-Live because of his magnificent internal rhyme schemes as well as the fact that he switches his cadence constantly, often within one song. As much as some hip-hop fans talk about Aesop Rock, Cage, and Slug, the only* white emcee I'm feeling is Eminem because he's the only one I've heard who truly has a way with words (to put it crassly, the English language is his bitch). J-Live is even better at this than Eminem (which is saying a lot) and I think it's because he happens to be a (former?) high school English teacher. I love hip-hop because, more than rock, it really focuses on etymology and phonology and I just find that so creative and fresh. Yes, it's like poetry, but unlike poetry I'll listen to it because it has an infectious beat and some of the realest cats would never publish a poem but are unafraid to spit a hot verse about things many poets can't grasp. And don't try to tell me poets are the realest people out there; if I know better as a casual and occasional fan of poetry then you know better.

J-Live's music, including the Always Will Be EP, can be purchased at all good record stores and all major online retailers.

* I actually like El-P's rhymes a lot but he doesn't switch his flow up enough to be anywhere near Eminem's league (or J-Live's).
 

Interesting quote from Jack White of the White Stripes, who I want to like but can't quite muster it.  Even more interesting than his opinion, which I imagine has changed in the year since, is the surprisingly intelligent discussion it spawned on the web page linked.  Personally I disagree with his opinion to an extent.  First off, there are many producers, groups, and emcees who integrate melody into their music.  But also, noise/sound is crucial to the hip-hop genre, as described in the link.  Nonetheless, with much of the music, there is a certain emptiness, especially when it relies on a boring and simple musical loop and the lyrics are banal--essentially, when it's not creative.  The importance placed on lyrics and their delivery, as well as the rhythm which has to be somewhat repetitive in order to rhyme over, can lend itself to boringness and emptiness moreso than rock--which, however stale, in my opinion, is guided by melody.  Jack White should realize though that all types of music can be good or bad and that the so-called restrictions in hip-hop, ignoring the fallacy of his statement, can be musical assets.
 

Another weird Japanese game, this one clearly inspired by TRON. Very fun.
 

Watch Coolio do the damn thing on this German "Comeback" program. The Germans have no idea what they just witnessed.
 

Very cool Depeche Mode TV appearances archive. Click here for tons of videos.
 

More music media! You are getting hooked up in this Do Not Read! You must check out the "works" section of Dokaka.com. Dokaka is a Japanese beatboxer who does a capella renditions of death metal and prog rock, as well as his own original compositions. He recently recorded with Bjork in New York City for her new album. I wasn't sold on the idea but as soon as I heard the first song, "Angel Of Death" (originally by Slayer), I was blown away. You owe it to yourself to listen, it's really that cool. Maybe when Mike Patton and Rahzel tour again he can open!
 

Another dummy making some sense! DMX on recording for Def Scam:

"Yes, I'm done with the music because I refuse to have something that I hold that dear to me be taken so lightly," he barked. "I'm being paid like a slave. All artists are. The record company advances you money. You pay for every aspect: promotion, distribution, recording, everything, everybody. Once your [album] comes out, they get their money back the product should be mine! It's like getting a loan from a bank to buy a house, and once you pay them back, they still own your house.

"Contractually I do owe them, but I ain't giving them shit," he added, referring to Def Jam, his record label. "You know what these muthafuckas do? I recorded 25 songs each album. You know how many songs actually go on the album? Sixteen. They keep the rest of those songs. Now they got songs to put on the greatest-hits album and soundtracks. They've given away some of my best songs for soundtracks and people don't even hear soundtracks. I'm dead serious about my music. They playing with it like it's a toy."


Very useful site for checking weekly airplay for your favorite or not-so-favorite radio stations. I found last week's WHFS chart pretty shocking. I haven't listened to WHFS since the beginning of high school. I know that rock radio plays a lot of these soundalike "punk" bands so that I expected. But I was shocked to see:

#2: CYPRESS HILL/What's Your Number -- This is from their new back-to-basics hip-hop album, right? I guess it's just the weed and "party" factor that does it.
#6: MODEST MOUSE/Float On -- Woah. I bet indie kids are PISSED.
MICHAEL ANDREWS /Mad World (f/ Gary Jules) -- You mean that Tears For Fears cover that the rest of the world listened to throughout 2001, 2002, and 2003? Why is WHFS/America only playing this now?
FOO FIGHTERS/Darling Nikki -- Do WHFS listeners know the original?
JAY-Z/99 Problems -- I knew this was getting serviced to rock radio I'm just surprised WHFS jumped on it. Well, 6 plays two weeks ago and just three last week isn't jumping on it too much, but I expected no play at all.
POSTAL SERVICE /Such Great Heights -- It's weird having IDM artist DNTEL on commercial radio, emo garbage collaboration or not.
RADIOHEAD/There There -- Still? Wow.
BLACK EYED PEAS/Anxiety -- Haven't heard this one but I expected anything on this album to be more of a Top 40 crossover, not "alternative" rock.
Speaking of indie kids, NOSTALGIA AND BORROWED NOSTALGIA ARE NOT IRONIC! Sometimes I just want to grab these skinny bastards by the collar when I see them wearing an Exxon, Coca-Cola, John Deer, Play-Doh, Atari, Mr. Bubble, Transformers, or Thundercats T-shirt. Hey, it's cool to remember some old cartoon you watched or some old product you used to use or drink, but it's not that cutting edge. And referencing fads before your time is just pretensious and slapworthy.

Matter of fact, this whole referring to self or group as "indie" thing gets way under my skin. As much as I love music, I'm so sick of people defining themselves by the music they like--or by the music they TRAINED themselves to like. You are not indie, you are not punk, you are not hip-hop. You are an individual however conformist and emotionally needy.
 

I've never been a Nirvana fan but Kurt was cool.  Here's an awesome quote I just read from his posthumously published journal, talking about the his town's scenesters (including Riot Girrls): "I'm not gonna donate a single dollar to the fucking needy indie fascist regime. They can starve. Let them eat vinyl."  Rest in peace, dog.
 

Another quote, this one from perhaps my favorite episode of Real Time.  This gets right to the point and really sums up the way hipsters act (politics as social activity/elitism).  "So what can people who pretend to care, pretend to do?" -Bill Maher
 

Click here for Subservient Chicken, by far the creepiest interactive experience I've had yet online.  He will do anything; he even popped and locked!  Very scary, especially when he goes up to the camera to wag his finger at you for a bad request.
 

Grand Theft America: must-see animation explaining how 95% of votes from "convicts" in the Florida 2000 election were actually legitimate.  Their ballots were discarded maliciously thanks to Bush's work behind the scenes with his brother Jeb and Katherine Harris, who contracted a private company to build the list with flawed data and opted to not verify any of the names.  Seems like the only person speaking to the public about this is Nader.
 

Speaking of cheaters, I just found this distressing information:

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that the major music labels are looking for ways to increase the prices of legitimate digital-download services, from 99 cents per song up to $1.49 or even $2.49 per song. WSJ also found that despite being freed of manufacturing and distribution costs, albums such as those recently released by N.E.R.D., Bob Dylan and Shakira actually cost more to download ($14.99 at iTunes) than to buy as a CD in stores ($13.49 at Amazon.com).
The audacity is amazing, isn't it?  My cousin Morgan almost downloaded the Outkast double album from iTunes for $20 until I convinced her to let me get it for her at $12.99 in the store.  And they want to RAISE the download prices?  The music industry is such scum.  Even though they're greedy I'm not going to compromise on my vow to buy any album I like (whether I downloaded mp3's and enjoyed them or just trust the artist's output), including major label releases, but they don't make it easy for me.
 

Another animation: Thought @ Work.  Best Roots video The Roots never did!  Funny.  See if you catch the visual gags.
 

After watching "The Wayne Brady Show" episode of Chappelle's Show I have to take back my boast that I'm blacker than Wayne Brady.  Who knew he had it in him?  I can't remember him ever making me laugh like that.  Now what I am wondering is how long until word spreads about this and his core audience--simpleminded white Americans--raise a huge fuss?
 

"Liberty" University rules and punishments.  This looks like a parody or a joke but it's not, it's absolutely bonkers.  It's rare occasions like this that I'm glad I go to Dickinson.
 

You said it better than all.

Yup, that's one thing I have noticed. White folks (especially uppity white collegiate chicks) LOVE to throw around the term ghetto like they know what they ghetto is about. And then they use that term to reference anything that is associated with black culture. Shit, probably the only time they've been to the ghetto was that one time they went to pick up some "good stuff". Everybody seems to be a specialist on black culture, and, even more surprisingly, everyone seems to have the answer to the situational status of blacks in America: "Why don't you people, like, go to school and get educations so you can make something of yourselves." And whoops, there goes affirmative action from up under your feet.
   -Okayplayer Remedial
The white (especially upper class white) co-opting of the term "ghetto" gets on my last damn nerve.  This person described exactly how I feel when I hear this, which is all of the time.
 

You said it better than all Volume II
Here's how I feel about most hardcore IDM listeners and most of the second generation of IDM being produced now:

As for "Intelligent Dance Music", the phrase seems sort of absurd if you take it at face value: the notions of rhythm, "melody" and form found in most alleged "IDM" doesn't even come close to the complex intelligence of your average Saariaho or Xenakis composition, and yet the creepy Mensa-style pretensions inherent in this assertion of supposed "Intelligence" persist precisely because its adherents never exit their own charmed circle, and generally speaking, seem unwilling to try anything other than IDM, thus preventing them from ever stumbling across something that might challenge their notion that they're really brainy and special for digging Autechre. Sure, I love Autechre and the Schematic label, but I also like James Brown and Trouble Funk and Basement Jaxx and Daft Punk- does this make me unintelligent? The snooty attitude towards "real" dance music inherent in the term IDM fits all too easily with the stereotype of the bedroom collector geek who is hopelessly alienated from the bodily hedonism of a decent soundsystem/rave/club party and who thereby fashions a resentment based alibi for why he can't get down. Furthermore, if you consider the sociological origins of contemporary electronic dance music in black and gay clubs in Chicago and New York and then consider the overall "whiteness" and "straightness" of the average IDM artist and fan it all starts to look kind of sinister, like people patting themselves on the back because they are so much more advanced than those savages who leap about to their wild drums or something. Sheesh. That said, I belong to the weblist called "IDM" and occasionally enjoy the discussions there, because I like some of the artists who get lassoed into that category (not to mention that we, occasionally, are lumped into that category too), and because you can occasionally find out about interesting records on that list. Like any other community, it allows for networking and exchange of information which is really useful and productive and powerful- but like any community, it always needs to define itself through exclusion, clique-ishness and the fashioning of some "other" excluded terms: rock music, women, noise, "real" dance music. I've noticed that whenever discussions drift towards anything about gender or sexuality on that list the cluelessness factor jumps off the chart. Matmos is IDM if that only means "might be talked about on the IDM list"- but I don't endorse that term "intelligent dance music" because it's laughable. Rather Interesting Records had a nice slogan that kind of says it all: "Remember: Only Stupid People Call It "Intelligent". When we made "The West" we didn't know about the term, but we knew that we were sick of lazy reviewers comparing us to Autechre and we wanted to ditch all those comparisons and reflect the fact that we love Robbie Basho and Hawaiian guitars. A bit more risk-taking all round would be nice...
  -Matmos, 1999
I reserve the right to agree with them, I wrote a fantastic history of IDM last year and have listened to the so-called genre avidly since 1996.
 
 

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