Editors Note: So I figure that it’s always nice to have fresh voices to the mix, so I asked this next young lady to come and give us some more female perspectives here at our little corner of the blogosphere. She likes to rock and that’s alright by us for sure.
Be sure to check out her other rantings over at Oxymorons and Hangovers where you can read all about her day to day misadventures with “the kiddo”, hanging out on the town with the girls, and… “donkey fucking (???)” If you happen to be one of her coworkers however you might want to think it through, ’cause the next post she writes might be about you. With that I introduce to you “Pretty Lush”.
As of now, the diehard fans are probably on board, tickets gripped in anxious white knuckles. But if not, mark your calendars: Glassjawis resurfacing in SoCal for three dates. While the east coast seems hardly deprived as some few and far between shows have been performed in New Jersey over the past few years (those Jersey fans are again in for a treat when GJ headlines the Saints & Sinners festival in early November), the west coast fans have been in withdrawal.
After a few hiatuses ranging from line-up changes (a regular occurrence since the GJ birth in ’93-’94) to side projects (guitarist Todd Weinstock formed Men, Women & Children; Manuel Carrero with The Jiant and Saves the Day; Durijah Lang with Classic Case; and of course, Palumbo with Head Automatica) to Crohn’s disease (severe bouts of which have kept Palumbo from performing in the past), the Long Island-born Glassjaw have reunited and will be pummeling their west coast fans with a much anticipated return. The dates are as follows:
If you’ve yet to witness a live performance, now is your chance. The aural aggression of this band, classified as everything from progressive rock to punk to ‘screamo’, is a welcome assault. They’re often compared to Fugazi, and Palumbo’s range to Mike Patton (of Faith No More) but for most, their sound is unique and diverse; ranging from ambient to chaotic to hysterical, and back again in perfectly smooth transitions. The harmonies coupled with the chaos is like the shock of salt on an open wound, if ever a thing could feel good and possibly leave you breathless. Palumbo’s voice is unrivaled in that he can tantalize your nerve endings with a croon and in that same breath shred his vocal chords so harshly that the listener is left raw.
Take the melody of Her Middle Name Was Boom in stride with the anger of Hotel of the White Locust and still next to these, the rough sounds of Siberian Kiss. Play these individually and you’ve got eclectic taste. Play these consecutively and you’ve got a damn good album. The ever-changing pace leaves no room for redundancy. And Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence (2000) is only the first full-length. Following their departure from Roadrunner Records, GJ signed on with Warner Bros. and released Worship & Tribute (2002). One listen and you’ll know that the diehards are on to something. You’re bound to sing along on Two Tabs of Mescaline or Cosmopolitan Bloodloss but leave the incantation/wrath of Stuck Pig to the professional.
So for the past few years now my friend Swayze (long story behind that name) has been helping put together this annual Stevie Wonder tribute in New York. This year they’ll be bringing the night to Los Angeles with DJ Spinna and Bobbito Garcia (of Stretch and Bobbito fame for my old school heads). When he told me about the event I wanted to do a post to help promote, but as I was trying to decide what to tracks to post I suddenly realized how much of an integral part Stevie’s music played in my upbringing.
You see the thing is Stevie Wonder’s music was so prevalent in the places I grew up in that I never was able to distinguish between what were his “hits” and his album oriented tracks. It was all just Stevie Wonder… you’re supposed to get excited when it comes on. Considering how much I was bounced around in my youth it’s quite remarkable that this fact remained true with all of the different family I lived with over the years.
Easily one of my earliest memories is watching Big Bird on Sesame Street sing some educational rendition of “My Cherie Amour”. I can’t recall the details, but I distinctly remember associating “the yellow one” with “La-lala-La-lala” I also remember getting a kick out of the California Raisins videos for “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”. In school while learning the seasons I could always reference July as the “hottest month of the year” to remember that was the middle of summer. When I lived with my mom and she’d hit a spring cleaning kick she’d play records all day and I remember the soundtrack for “The Woman in Red” getting heavy rotation when it came out… or maybe that’s just the album cover that I remember the most.
If I were to try and run down a complete retrospective on Stevie’s work in this space here, I most definitely would come up lacking in some shape form or fashion… so instead I’m gonna take it back like Bobbito would for Vibe magazine and just gab on about some associated tunes.
This is just beautiful songwriting here. For me this track negates any questions of whether Stevie still had it after his “classic period”. Of course tracks like “I Just Called to Say I Love You” and “That’s What Friends Are For” would be more popular and win Grammies and all that, but to me, this is what it was all about. It’s also one of the tracks that more prominently displays his vocal prowess which is staggering.
This was one of the tracks Stevie helped write for his fellow Motown artists back in the day. One of the mental images I associate most with this song is a strip from the Sunday comic “Curtis” where he’s scratching the chorus on his dad’s turntable. This was back before hip-hop could really be considered “mainstream” and it played not only off of the notion of physically damaging the vinyl but also “ruining one of the classics”. I remember finding it pretty funny at the time, I wish I could find the image to post.
I think Erick Sermon is one of the most underrated producers out there. Well… maybe not so much underrated, but taken for granted I should say. I remember the first time I heard this and quickly recognizing “Ribbon in the Sky” crossed with “Summer Madness” by Kool and the Gang. Thinking back Sermon really pioneered a lot of what would become the mash-up movement. I wonder how much Z-trip credits him as an influence. Listen to some of those old EPMD tracks like “You Gots to Chill” where he mixed “Jungle Boogie” with Roger and Zapp, or how he threw together Steve Miller Band and ZZ Top for “Only a Customer”.
This is the album that introduced Timbaland to the masses, although he had been ghost producing Devante Swing tracks for some time at that point. I actually wasn’t that big a fan of “Pony” to tell the truth, but it was this song that made me take notice. That guitar lick from “Visions” always got to me and he flipped it nice for this track. Timbo was definitely doing things that nobody else was considering back at that point in time. On a side note, in the lyrics to the original track Stevie states that he knows the leaves are green and I always wondered just exactly how he would know that. (and that’s as close as you’ll get to a blind joke out of me as far as Stevie is concerned).
Thanks to Coolio this is probably one of the most easily recalled uses of a Stevie sample even though I don’t think this track was ever released as a single. I remember playing John Madden football with Ricks while listening to “The Bushman” on WJLB out of Detroit when we first heard “Gangsta’s Paradise”. It had to be the first time anyone had played it on the air, but since it was in the middle of a weekend mixshow there was no announcement as to who it was. We couldn’t figure it out and even though the voice was off, we assumed it must’ve been something from the upcoming Tupac album since lyrically it was so reminiscent of some of the tracks off of Me Against the World and the Thug Life project.
We went to the mall the next morning and asked around about whether anyone could tell us the name of the track. It was funny because we’d walk up to the counter at the record stores and before we could get a word out the clerk would look at us and be like “The new B.O.N.E. album comes out in two weeks guys”. We’d look at each other and laugh, but it would be at least another three weeks before anybody else we knew was up on “Gangsta’s Paradise” Of course by the time it was all said and done with, if we heard it one more time it would have been that many times too many… but I still want to know why the hell LV was sitting in a sauna for the video.
There’s a bit of keyboard in there, but it’s just those three quick notes on the harmonica that make this sample indistinguishably Stevie. I love this track, it’s ‘Pac at his most introspective. Probably my favorite Tupac song of all time. People constantly talk about him as the greatest MC and all that… I’m not gonna get into that debate here, but what I will say is the people who argue that point always want to grab All Eyes On Me to support their case. If you ask me their argument would be much better served if they pointed to Me Against the World. I think it was a much more deep and personal album lyrically and having my own demons as well I related to it much more than I probably should have at that age.
At any rate, the same song was sampled much more blatantly by MJG for “That Girl” a few years later and believe it or not I had actually forgotten Stacy Dash was in the video (how the hell did I do that?). What I did remember though was MJG dancing towards the end. Eightball had the much better solo single if you ask me.
Let’s recenter this journey just a little bit though.
I guess this is considered to be “early” Stevie at this point. Again this is one of those songs that was just always there while I was growing up. Guaranteed to get the party started at family functions and whatnot. I didn’t realize that the song was almost 20 years old even back then.
I guess this was called one of the greatest cover songs ever by some British rag a few years ago. I guess it does rank up there for me as well, but the original is groundbreaking itself. That song is pretty much the sole reason the term “funky clavi” exists. Where the cover excels is the translation of that driving clavinet into such a powerful bass line.
As if this album didn’t make it obvious, Madlib thinks of Stevie as a major influence. There was what could be considered another slightly more subtle shout-out on the cover of the Madvillain album where he’s shown with the E-mu SP1200. Stevie was the first person to own an E-mu Emulator when they first came out. Of course at one point in time all the major hip-hop producers were using the SP, but this day in age I have to think there’s a reason Madlib chooses the vintage E-mu over Akai’s MPC products.
It’s worth noting how pioneering Stevie was with a lot of different synthesizers over the years. One of the stalwarts of Stevie Wonder impressions nowadays is to mimic playing two different keyboards at the same time.
I had to end this with one of the classics. My dad was a huge fan of Songs in the Key of Life, but personally I was a little more partial to Innervisions. The intro of this track is hilarious to me… especially when you consider for some time I used to think he was actually saying “Como tambien Chevrolet?”…which makes absolutely no sense, but works in the skit. The actual phrase ‘Todo ‘sta bien, chévere’ makes a lot more sense in the context of the song, but I still like to think of it as a guy posturing to some girl about how cultured he is and she totally can see though his bullshit, but doesn’t call him on it. Maybe because that’s the same shit I try to pull on a regular basis.
Anyway, for more Stevie goodness, head on over to Get Downnn where Hippo recently posted his thoughts on seeing the man himself in concert not too long ago. And if you’re in the LA area then come on by on September 29th at the Crash Mansion downtown and celebrate the multi-talented wonder that is Stevland Morris. Ladies save a dance for me.
Editor’s Note: OK, OK… I get it. We actually do have a reader base around here. That comes as much to my own surprise as anyone else’s. I still can’t quite explain the unprovoked traffic boost, but I’ll take what I’m given. There couldn’t be a better time to start focusing on the site more either since WordPress has finally allowed us to start utilizing our own code in the mix. (This may have been what prompted The Passion of The Weiss to switch over to WordPress.) What does this mean exactly… well let’s just say be on the look out for a few interesting additional features to the site soon.
Also listen up for a few new voices around these parts as well. From the beginning I expected to have long periods of preoccupation with other personal issues, and that’s why I made this blog a team effort as opposed to a solo project. I just didn’t bank on everyone’s schedules to get booked at the same time, so hopefully adding some more ingredients to the recipe will give our flavor a little more kick… maybe, we’ll see.
Besides if I were to be coming back completely alone right now the posts around here would be really hip-hop heavy for a bit. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I kind of like our eclectic vibe, and right now I’m going through a phase. You can blame Rock the Bells for that. I was reminded of why hip-hop was my first love to begin with after a long period of wondering why I still hung around with her after she’d changed so much. I have to say though… ya’ll disappointed me with your lack of enthusiasm for Public Enemy. I realize there were a number of attendee’s there solely to see Rage, but at a where the acts were stacked that much on the side of a genre PE helped define… it makes no sense that Rage would get more excitement from the crowd doing a Public Enemy tribute… than the original guys got while performing their songs themselves earlier in the day. I’m just saying people… they had Flav, The S1W’s and Professor Griff all in attendance. Do you know how big it is to have those guys all there at the same time is.
Speaking of which… I have to say Parrish Smith is a bigger man than I to be back on stage with a guy that is allegedly suspected (yes I did use a double qualifier there) to have hired a hitman to take him out. Another monumental appearance that should have gotten more enthusiasm out of the audience, but never the less… I was rockin it out regardless. And now just like Eric and Parrish Makin’ Dollars… the Alternakids are back in business. We’ve all had our own personal distractions, some of which you may hear about here in the future… but right now I’ll let “rilla” tell you what he’s been up to as of late and his issues with former unnamed employers.
After months of what felt like an assault on my musical tastes and senses, I’m back to being a free agent of sorts. For the last year, I’ve been struggling to write daily on music and anything music-related, but earlier this year it became apparent that there had been a massive shift in what could be considered music news and what might be considered celebrity nonsense. You see, music is interesting to a lot of people on the interwebs, but it’s never as engaging as a child support payment missed or your wife having cancer or anything like that. Even this nice young man you see above this introduction wasn’t safe from the evil doers.
If it wasn’t another Supahead story, it had to be a “which-rapper/actor-recently-was-arrested-for-beating-his-wife” story and if that wasn’t enough, longer pieces that encompassed news on upcoming albums or their music in general, were shortened and combined with other artist music news, as not to take up the space of the ridiculous TMZ-style stories. In the beginning, they glossed over their desire for”celeb-news”, by reminding us to keep things “current”.
How many times a day would we settle for the sensational news? 5 times. How many actual music related stories a day were there? 3.
Without saying too much, I’m sure the site will see continued success and will perpetuate any sort of stereotype they can for the rest of their time on the interwebs, but what it all comes down to is sacrificing any sort of credibility for “CPM’s”(clicks per minute) and advertisements that take up the entire screen when you roll over them.
After scheduling a meeting with the brain trust of the company to discuss adding video to their site, I learned almost everything I needed to know in roughly the first ten minutes. I was even approached by a writer who had driven more than 100 miles without a recorder, pen or paper to try and schedule an interview that day. Even though I’m running a small production company and have no allusions of my CEO status, I had a still-camera, camera-man, lighting, video camera, a mic, a recorder JUST in case and pen and paper. Their CEO was more concerned with his t-shirt sales and his sunglasses and of course his sleek suit coat in 90 degree weather. Their editor at the show were more concerned with getting a picture with their artist for their MySpace profile, than asking his interview questions from a cell phone that they just put together.
There’s something very oft-putting about someone who says they enjoy a certain group of artists music, but doesn’t know any of the artists you’re introducing them to in the press tent at the concert we’re doing interviews at.
“Who is that? Is that Insane Clown Posse?”
“No, no, the taller one is Brother Ali and the shorter one with the square glasses and crazy eyes is Sage Francis.”
Thanks to the magic of irony, I work in the land of internet marketing, so I can just bask in the knowledge that they aren’t making millions on mere mentions of Kim Kardashian because she had sex with Ray J; who is Brandy’s brother, Brandy you recall was in a traffic accident last year; Ray J, who once made a hip hop album, which wasn’t that great otherwise we might remember the album. Edit: According to Amazon reviewers, Raydiation was horrible.
With that, I’m back. Now that I have that awful monkey off of my back, I won’t be saddled with the thought that I’m ruining the very culture of the music that I love, which made me want to write in the first place. I learned a lot from the experience, but now I’m hoping to undue some of the garbage I started. No more promises of posts, no more promises of interviews and neat little give-aways, allow me to re-introduce myself on this blog, my name is Rilla.
Since no one can touch me now or any of my work (thanks to my lawyers), we should be seeing some old Murs and hearing some new stuff, should be seeing some old words from the Jeanius, hearing some new 9th Wonder and Little Brother and if you’re lucky, maybe, juuuuuuust maybe I’ll tell you which rapper recently started blogging because he couldn’t afford his rent.*
*May or may not be true.
With that I want to wish you all a good night. I’ll let Kanye and Flaco do the talking since this one is off of the Japanese verison of “Graduation”. (H/T)
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