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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fear and Loathing in Martinez, or...

How I learned to drink a fifth of Jim Beam in two days.

I'm about to ride 6.5 hours on a Greyhound bus in a state of heightened hangover. It was worth it. I sold my car to an enthused French-Canadian, wandered around San Francisco (which was surprisingly dull, or maybe it was just me), bought a $90 bottle of scotch (which I am to afraid to drink, of course), sang karaoke in a bar (this is a big one, folks), saw some great friends, rode on a taxi, rode on a bus, rode on a train...

It was a pretty good weekend, all in all. I will call it resounding success if I don't get stabbed or diseased on the Greyhound.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Murs For President

Murs is an undisputed hero of underground rap. But is he qualified for president?

My favorite L.A. rapper Murs recently released a new album, Murs For President. I was excited about this, as his last three solo efforts (Murray's Revenge, 3:16, End of the Beginning) have been stellar. His collaborations with Slug (Atmosphere) and his 3 Melancholy Gypsies album (with Scarub and Eligh) are thoroughly enjoyable, as well (I will sheepishly admit I have heard next to nothing of his original group, Living Legends).

Unfortunately, the new album is thoroughly underwhelming. As I listen to it again, I try and pinpoint what went wrong. My first impression is that it was rushed; rushed for the real world election so Murs could use his clever title, or so he could get a little soapboxing in, I'm not sure.

And soapbox he does, especially on "The Science" (whose title seems a little late in the game for hip-hop activism). Don't get me wrong on this, I don't ever mind hearing people speak the truth, and I understand that if you have the power of celebrity, you are within your right (and possibly obligated) to use it towards curing social ills. I guess my problem is that I'm no stranger to conscious hip-hop, and I've seen it done better by Dead Prez, The Coup, Nas, Immortal Technique, KRS-One, Public Enemy, and even NWA.

Murs' strengths have always been ballad raps, as I like to put it. He tells cohesive stories with multiple characters and often poignant social and political critiques from his first person view. So when he rhymes about the history of the CIA introducing crack to American ghettoes, I feel like I've heard it expressed better musically. I want people to know about these travesties, but I think Murs should stick to rapping about what he knows best.

Murs is one of the most insightful modern philospher/musicians when it comes to the music industry, touring, money, girlfriends and love, city life, and violence. But he does it best on a small personal scale.

An instant warning flash when I heard about his new album was his collaborations with will.i.am, FFA (Frequent Fergie Abettor) and Snoop Dogg-- I'm going out on limb here, I know, but I've never really liked Snoop. His voice annoys me, his raps are bland... he's listenable at best, but I digress-- Murs has always seemed like a proponent of indie raps, so my first instinct is to cry "sellout".

Instinct is powerful apparently. "Lookin' Fly feat. will.i.am" is the weakest song of the record, and maybe Murs' weakest song ever. Fuuuuuck. It has top 40 disease all over it. Recycled simplistic beats with hi hats in all the right places and dull ass chorus (By the way, I've listened
to this song at least 5 times now, and can't find a verse that will.i.am performs. Maybe just having a feat. credit ruins a song).

"Time is Now feat. Snoop Dogg" fares much better. It's a pretty strong beat, but damned if Snoop's verse isn't as dull as ever. Are you really still rhyming "next episode"? I know it's probably a huge selling point to feat. Snoop, but I'm so done with this.

That being said, there are a few gems on Murs For President. "Everything" has one of those uplifting major chord beats that makes you want to go save the world, and features classic personal anecdotes and real world postulating.

"Road Is My Religion" is another straight-talk first person ideology rap that conjures up Atmosphere's anthem "Cats Van Bags".

This is not a bad album, but could've used some more time and some better guests. Those chosen for talent, not for selling power. But that's not the way to campaign for president, as we are all learning on a moment-to-moment basis. And the way things are going, Murs is definitely not the worse candidate out there.

I'm definitely looking forward to the next album, and will never stop listening to End of the Beginning! Or loving L-dot-A-dot!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Voting for Propostion 8 is Un-American

The US constitution guarantees equal rights for every individual, regardless of race, creed, gender, or any other individuating factor. There is absolutely no reason to deny any one person, or a group of people, a civil right that is offered to every other person.

Banning a person (or persons) from any governmental civil service, based on their personal trait, belief, or lifestyle, is inherently unconstitutional. America was formed with the freedom of every individual a right, no matter another person's opinion.

We cannot allow institutionalized inequality in this country ever.

This is a battle that many groups in America have fought and indeed are still fighting.

Proposition 8 is unconstitutional, and voting in its favor is un-American. It's that simple.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Shit, Guys and Gals

As I prepare my statement for the "legalization of gay marriage", let me entertain with a few tidbits.

A pretty damn poignant rap video from the 90's




And if you like David Lynch or surrealism in general, this is the only political video to watch until the bullshit's over.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Crowds

Here's a little video of Alison Krauss singing "Down in the River...". it gives you an idea of what the crowds were like on Friday evening, the least busy day of the festival. Sorry about the jerky-cam and poor quality sound.

video

Hardly Strictly Moshpit

Went to the HSB fest in Golden Gate Park this weekend, and it was by far the best yet. As a travelling crew, we've finally got it down so it's minimal stress and maximal fun. And the music this year was Hot! Pictures here are a little small, I need a telephoto next year.
























Gogol Bordello was the biggest highlight. I had high expectations and they did not disappoint. They sound great and the live show is blindingly awesome.


video
Alison Krauss and Robert Plant were pretty amazing as well. He has definitely still go it and let's all pray she never loses it.

Heavy Trash is a band to watch for, if you like rockabilly. They started with a song calling out "Peter Cushing", "Hammer Horror" and so on, so they got a plus in my book. They look damn slick too.

We also saw Jerry Jeff, Iron and Wine (barely), the Gourds, Peter Rowan, Richard Thompson (I could see his beret with my binoculars), Bad Livers, Odetta, and Elvis Costello. Damn! And I feel like we missed so much.





















I read that there were 40,000 people Saturday and 100,000 people Sunday. So it got to be a little hard to move around, but was well worth and we'll see you there next year.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Whoops

Preface: I often get calls on my landline for some surgical/doctor's office. I think the phone number is very similar...

Today:

'Ring'

Me: Hello?

Male Caller: Do you do breast implants there?

Me: No... I think you have the wrong number.

Male Caller: SON of a....

And that was it. He fumbled for a second and then we hung up. You probably had to be there, but it was surreal and funny.