Give this post a soundtrack

[…] The mini-fad for referencing turn-of-the-'90s hip-hop may just be
an accident; the samples Pretty Ricky, Lloyd and Musiq Soulchild employ
have been mined by other artists, including Nelly and Ini Kamoze.

But
by vocalizing these hooks instead of just interpolating them, the
younger artists claim a legacy. Lloyd and the members of Pretty Ricky
were barely in grade school when Salt-N-Pepa and PM Dawn were at their
peak; Musiq probably admired De La Soul as a teen. This music echoes
forth like a favorite children's story, a hint of a more innocent, if
not simpler, time.

Perhaps the pumped-up Lotharios of today
want a break from all the bump and grind, and dream of eroticism as a
realm that celebrates not just performance, but as Prince Paul said,
bodies of all kinds.

"The talk turns suggestive," Ann Powers, Los Angeles Times

[…] During her '90s crusade against rap's habit of degrading women, the
late black activist C. Dolores Tucker certainly had few allies within
the hip-hop community, or even among young black women. Backed by folks
like conservative Republican William Bennett, Tucker was vilified
within rap circles.

In retrospect, "many of us weren't
listening," says Tracy Denean Sharpley-Whiting, a professor at
Vanderbilt University and author of the new book "Pimps Up, Ho's Down:
Hip-Hop's Hold On Young Black Women."

"She was onto something,
but most of us said, 'They're not calling me a bitch, they're not
talking about me, they're talking about THOSE women.' But then it
became clear that, you know what? Those women can be any women." […]

"Has rap music hit a wall?" Nekesa Mumbi Moody, Associated Press

[…] Local hip-hop artists Boots Riley from the Coup and rapper and producer
Kirby Dominant express reservations about hip-hop university classes. "One
time, someone came up to me, and said, 'I know so-and-so, they're a professor
at Harvard, they're a big fan of your work,' " Riley says in a phone interview.
"But that doesn't impress me more than any other people feeling that way. I
don't need to be validated by academia because that presupposes that academia
is a pure endeavor and not guided by market forces, which is not the case.

"Anthropology, for instance, was all about studying the natives so they
could figure out how to control them. Again, the natives are being studied."

Dominant, a UC Berkeley alumnus who actually attended the much-publicized
class on Shakur in the late '90s, says that he finds value in hip-hop studies,
provided they take the long view. "With hip-hop and all black music, you can't
talk about the art separate from a lot of other things," he says. "You can't
talk about hip-hop as an art form without talking about the people, the
economics, how and why it was made. You have to be pretty thorough." […]

"Academic hip-hop? Yes, yes, y'all" Reyhan Harmanci, San Francisco Chronicle

Vox Hunt: A Favorite Song from ’06

Audio:  Share one of your favorite songs from 2006.

Pitchfork: There was a track written about on Pitchfork recently, "Something Isn't Right", the first track on Scale,
and the writer, Mark Pytlik, said that you could tell in a few moments
it was a Herbert track. And I think that's true; despite how different
your records sound from each other, there is something there, a thread
through them. I know that at various times you've talked about music as
a way of getting away from ego, but I do feel like there is something
you can't get away from. I'm not sure exactly what it is; to me it
seems like a rhythmic sensibility that informs your work, a swing that
sound like Herbert. Are you aware that a part of yourself is in there,
regardless of the materials you're working with?


MH: I'm not. I'm really not. I know I have patterns and I've always
tried hard to avoid them. There are definitely certain things in my
music, if I'm looking back, "Well, that was a period where I was
experimenting with a certain kind of chord structure or a certain kind
of sound." I've tried really hard, but I'd be hard pressed to tell you
what that sound, what that tangible sound of "me" is. I think rhythm
is, when you talk about rhythmic sensibility, quite perceptive in that
I like to have at least one thing that is at least common or familiar
to the audience. Other than rhythm, the only thing I could say is that
I take a great deal of pride in every single sound I use. I'm always
making sure that I'm not using a pre-set or something that everyone
else has done. I try to be original in every piece of music I do, and
of course I probably fail every time.

Pitchfork: Let me ask you– that moment in "Something Isn't
Right" where he sings, "Do you re-mem-ber?" First time I heard that it
reminded me of "September" by Earth Wind & Fire. I was sitting with
my wife and I asked her, Do you think that's a direct reference to that
song, or is it just a few notes that sound similar?

MH: There is a very slight reference there. It's a reference to the
11th of September because that's what the Earth Wind & Fire tune
was called. I almost had it "Do you remember? The 11th of September?"
But there was no way I could possibly put that in.

Pitchfork: So that's the kind of reference you're talking about, where you embed those kinds of things in the music.


MH:
Exactly. And the record's full of them in different places. It's
kind of like, trying to use every weapon in your arsenal to point
people in a certain direction.

Snap, crackle …

[…] Time changes when you listen to Steve's music. It is, or rather was, so
unorthodox, that the pulse and rate of breathing, thinking, and being,
changes. It's like someone invented an alternative way of keeping time.
A more human way – reflective of the ominous pain inherent in modernity
and the future – whatever it may hold for us. So debased and insulted
by the abomination that is the modern pop single, humans have forgotten
how to actually listen to music
– music that shows us something other
than which clothes to buy, or how much to spend on that Sweet Sixteen
Party, or which ride to pimp. Steve shows us that there is a different
way. Would that we could all listen to him. […]

Sam Gustin, Huffington Post, "Steve Reich Rocks New York"

Peter, Bjorn & John - Young Folks
Peter Bjorn and John - Young Folks (Live in Glasgow)

[…] If lyric poetry is, as Czech novelist Milan Kundera recently wrote,
"the most exemplary incarnation of man dazzled by his own soul and the
desire to make it heard," surely the pop song is the highest
incarnation of all-consuming love and its fundamental need to be
shared.
[…]

Marc Hogan, Pitchfork, "Peter Bjorn and John, Writer's Block"

Gimme an iPod-compatible coffin …


The top 10 most requested songs were:

  1. Goodbye My Lover, James Blunt.
  2. Angels, Robbie Williams
  3. I've Had the Time of My Life, Jennifer Warnes and Bill Medley
  4. Wind Beneath My Wings, Bette Midler
  5. Pie Jesu, Requiem
  6. Candle in the Wind, Elton John
  7. With or Without You, U2
  8. Tears from Heaven, Eric Clapton
  9. Every Breath You Take, The Police
  10. Unchained Melody, Righteous Brothers

Frequently covered favourites, including the traditional song Danny Boy and Bob Dylan's Knocking on Heaven's Door, were among the top 20.

Other somewhat surprising entries on the list included the rollicking rock track I'll Sleep When I am Dead by Bon Jovi and Fame (I Want to Live Forever), the Oscar-winning theme to the 1980 movie and subsequent TV series Fame.

… and a solar-powered recharger, and I b'leeve I'm good to go.

Practicing and performing the mnemonic rituals of a kinetic orality

[…] In The Games Black Girls Play, Gaunt argues that cheers —
songs and seemingly nonsensical chants performed in conjunction with
handclaps and foot stomps — offer entertainment for black girls across
the country, but they also play a more important role. They teach young
girls aspects of "musical blackness," placing them socially in step
with black tradition. The book examines black girls' forays into
popular culture — whether unconscious or deliberate — and what their
invisibility says about hip hop, musicality in the black community, and
when and where girls enter the annals of music history.

At first
it seems like a stretch to claim that the way girls play has influenced
a commercial behemoth like hip hop. But have you heard Nelly's "Country
Grammar"? Its sing-song chorus was sampled from black girls' games, and
Gaunt suggests that the song gained popularity in part because it was
immediately recognizable to black audiences. Gaunt emphasizes that male
rappers like Nelly use such games as material, but female rappers do
not — an assessment that's blurry and not as convincing as her other
arguments; it doesn't help that the aspiring female rappers Gaunt
interviews about why this might be don't offer illuminating
explanations.

And lest anyone think girls have been passive
creators of sampling fodder for boys, over time girls have appropriated
snippets of New Edition's "Candy Girl" and the Jackson 5's version of
"Rockin' Robin" for their own rhythmic use in games, which underscores
the reciprocal and often unexamined relationship between black girls
and popular music. When Gaunt traces the origins of traditional games
like "Miss Mary Mack" by fusing academic prose with vividly rendered
memories, her journey is refreshing, if sometimes daunting in its
technicality. […]

That's the middle of "Playing for Keeps," a Joshunda Saunders review that C. shot my way a day or two after I saw this Yahoo Buzz Log post last week.

Reaching for the stars

There are boxes and boxes of paper and newspaper and receipts and CDs in my room. They can't stay there forever, but they certainly can't stay in the storage unit about a block away from us. I am hopeful that somewhere in there, perhaps in the three green regulation Government Printing Office ledgers, are lists of some of the AT40 lists I used to keep. It's a hope against hope. I have much clearer memories of legal pads snuck out of my mom's home office and pencils honed on the sharpener in the kitchen. When I stayed home and listened to Casey Kasem, I couldn't have imagined the Internet, much less music blogs, Last.fm or Pandora.

Thirty-five

  • Now that I have the sense not to, I can run for president.
  • I'm mo longer lumped in with that highly-sought-after 18- to 34-year-old male demographic.
  • No. 1 song when I turned 18, almost half a life ago? In the U.S., "Good Thing" by the Fine Young Cannibals; in the UK,
    "Back To Life (How Ever Do
    You Want Me)" by Soul II
    Soul featuring Caron
    Wheeler.
  • No. 1 songs today? Hot 100: "Promiscuous" by Nelly Furtado featuring Timbaland; Hot Latin: Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie" featuring Wyclef; Hot R&B/Hip-Hop: Yung Joc's "It's Goin' Down"; Hot Ringtones: Koji Kondo's "Super Mario Brothers Theme"; Hot Country: Kenny Chesney's "Summertime"; Adult Contemporary: Daniel Powter's "Bad Day"; Modern Rock and Mainstream Rock: Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Dani California" (I've only heard three of these seven songs. I must be getting old or something.)

What song makes you happy?

Too many ditties make me go bop. The question implies listening to said song for a while: time-tested, bad-mood-approved. This week's top-of-mind is Terence Blanchard's "Mo' Better Blues," with the O'Jays' "Backstabbers" or Bobby Womack's "If You Think You're Lonely Now (Wait Until Tonight)" as close seconds.

I've also been crushing on the corn-syrupy sweetness of Corinne Bailey Rae's "Put Your Records On."