Monday, July 31, 2006
Fans of Batman & Robin will enjoy this, which was posted by both Hillary and my bro recently.

Saturday, July 29, 2006
3 years later, Rjyan's prophecy is getting closer and closer to coming true.


In My Stereo

Friday, July 28, 2006
Karmella's Game - The Art Of Distraction
C Love/DNA - Respect, Vol. 1
Skarr Akbar - The Cerebellum: General Part Four
Profound and Ogun - Oil And Water 2
DK - King Me
B.O.M.B. - King Of Da Streets Vol. 1
Squadre Committee - CD Sampler
Asobi Seksu - Citrus
James Hunter - People Gonna Talk
Shandon Sahm - Knock Yourself Out

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Thursday, July 27, 2006
Styles P., Bully, Snipe and Straw - "Discipline" (mp3)

The D in D-Block stands for the letter grade earned by this pitiful CD/DVD Mixtape. But I do like this dull piano loop posse cut, and one of the few redeeming moments of the DVD is the no-budget video where Styles raps in front of a car wash in the middle of the night, with these two middle aged ladies from Yonkers dancing around as his impromptu video chicks.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

This week in the Baltimore City Paper, I have a piece about the Baltimore Believe Tour. I think it came out as one of my best articles to date, partly because it's not strictly about music and gets into a little of the social and political issues of the Believe campaign. The tour is in its fourth year, and I first checked out a couple shows last summer. When I wrote a Gov't Names post about it last year, I came off kind of flippant and cynical, and one of the commenters rightfully took me to task for my disrespect of the work people put into it. Talking to Richard Burton, you really do get a sense of his vision about all this, and I hope that he gets to keep doing this tour in the future, whether or not O'Malley is still the mayor. It's a really fun, unique event, and one of the best ways to see Baltimore hip hop live. I also got to talk to D.O.G. about the fact that he'd kind of dissed it as "the Baltimore Police Tour" on his freestyle over "Welcome To Jamrock" last year, but had a change of heart and is performing on the tour this year, so that's interesting. Here's the specifics on this weekend's stop on the Believe Tour:

Mayor Martin O'Malley, Baltimore Housing, and 92Q Jams present
Big Phat Believe Festnic

Believing in our Families
$5 Donation ($5 general admission and $10 VIP seating)
Donation goes to helping needy families in Baltimore city
for vendor info, contact Richard Burton at 443 984 3156

July 29th-30th
Frederick Douglass High School
Outdoor Arena
12 Noon - 8PM Rain Or Shine

Hosted by 92Q Saturday
Hosted by Heaven 600AM 95.9FM Sunday

Carnival Rides
Moon Bounce
Crab Raffle
Baltimore's Idol Talent Search

The Stylistics
Harold Melvin's Bluenotes, featuring Sharon Paige

DJ K-Swift & Squirrel Wyde
Choir Boys
Cooli Hi
Eriq J'Mar
Morgan State Universy Choir
and Shadina

For ticket information, call: 443 984 3156

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Movie Diary

Tuesday, July 25, 2006
1. Lady In The Water
J.G. and I were in the minority of people who actually liked The Village, and we're in an even smaller minority with this one, I'm sure. I can see why critics have jumped on this, and people who hated The Village will really really hate this one. But I liked the kind of inverted storytelling devices, the themes about community and catalysts of change, and some of the elements that are really pissing other people off (like the in-jokey film critic character, or the director's role as a prophetic writer, which he was pretty good in). I made a point not to read much about the movie in advance, partly to avoid spoilers, so I didn't even realize how well publicized Shyamalan's struggle with Disney just to get the movie made was. Having seen and liked the movie, I'm not surprised he was met with a lot of skepticism, and that Disney's reservations have been kind of vindicated by the low box office take.

Still, I'm surprised that even in most of the negative reviews, Paul Giamatti gets a free pass. I have kind of have a hard time taking him seriously as an Oscar-nominated actor, since it wasn't that long ago that he was doing shit like Big Fat Liar, and if you ask me he's still a poor man's Joey Slotnick. And I wanted to like him in this, but his stuttering act was just so so so hackneyed. Dude can't even play a character that stutters without hamming it up and sputtering like the cowardly lion. I think I would've rather seen Bob Balaban, who played the film critic, in Giamatti's role. Bryce Dallas Howard has always seemed pretty cute and likeable to me, but that's not really a reason to see or defend this movie, since she's just a weird pasty icky otherworldly being in this. I liked the small role by Bill Irwin, who I always thought was really funny in Hot Shots! and My Blue Heaven. I think the biggest WTF moment for me in the whole movie was Cibo Matto songs being played in the background.

Shyamalan seems like kind of an idiosyncratic filmmaker who deals with a lot of personal themes and just happened to make a couple huge blockbusters, so I'm not really surprised that larger audiences are eventually getting fed up with him. And I do feel kinda bad for him for some of the serious hate getting aimed at him (and I won't mince words, all the "M. Night Shamalamadingdong"-type jokes are straight up racist bullshit). I think maybe because of the earnest and moralistic tone of his work, people aren't even willing to acknowledge how intentionally silly or self-referential the movie is. This article, in which Shyamalan says that with LITW he's giving critics "all the ammunition you'll ever want," is pretty revealing. In any event, I like when his movies are at worst interesting failures, as opposed to Signs, which was just bland and stupid.

2. The 40 Year Old Virgin
This was about as good as I expected it to be, but I've generally always liked Judd Apatow's stuff, and it was good to see him bring in Seth Rogen from Freaks & Geeks and Undeclared. Like those shows, it took some broad comic premises and treated them with some real pathos and sympathy, which is kind of refreshing, since a movie like this could very quickly become a lot of mean, easy target humor (although when it did resort to that, it was usually pretty funny). I do have to say, though, that the ending really dragged and delayed the inevitable to the last possible second, and the song cue was really out of place, an Anchorman-type surreal bit that didn't fit the rest of the movie at all. Also, oh my god, Kat Dennings is so hot.

3. Mr. & Mrs. Smith
This was alright but I wish I had seen it before that Busta Rhymes video came out, though the whole movie I had that terrible song stuck in my head.

4. Serenity
J.G. was a big fan of Firefly, and I've watched a few reruns on Sci-Fi with her, so I was able to keep up with the plot pretty well, although it was one of those movies where the abundance of talky dialogue and loud action sound effects meant I missed about 50% of the words spoken in the movie while constantly turning the volume on the TV up and down. So maybe it was funnier than I realized, it'll probably take me another view to actually get into it. I kind of like the whole jaunty sci-fi comedy quasi-western aspect, but it's no The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. as far as that microgenre goes, and gets a bit soap opera-y.

Sunday, July 23, 2006
Lake Trout - "2" (mp3)

This weekend was Artscape, Baltimore's big annual street festival. I'd only ever gone once or twice before, with my dad way back in the 90's, whichever year Chaka Khan was one of the headliners. And I always mean to get out there but usually there's no must-see musical act for me so it's hard to get motivated. But on Saturday, I decided to get out of the house and go check it out for a few hours, even though J.G. opted to stay home and the clouds and the wind were promising some rain. And of course, it started pouring about 20 minutes after I got there, but at that point, I'd already parked my car and everything, so I decided to stick it out. And really, once you're soaking wet, you just get used to it. And anyway I'd rather that it rain and cool things down, considering how hot it'd been all week.

I stopped fpr a couple minutes to watch Ultra Naté, who's a big international dance music diva from Baltimore. She was doing her cover of The Pretenders' "Brass In Pocket," and to my surprise she rocked it over a straight up Baltimore club beat, although as far as I know she's always performed more traditional house music, so that was cool. I tried to get to the stage were Lake Trout were playing before they started, but they turned out to be all the way on the opposite side from where I entered, so that took a while. I think I still caught about half of their set, though, and they played a good mix of older and newer stuff, and I ran into a couple members of Private Eleanor.

After Lake Trout finished, the rain had stopped and I walked around for a while and looked for something to eat, and ended up going to a Greek vendor and getting a spanakopita, I love that stuff. While I was eating I wandered over to the DJ culture stage. Generally, I avoid anything Hollertronix-related like the plague, but out of curiosity I went and checked out a few minutes of Low Budget's DJ set. There's been a little bit of controversy in the Baltimore club scene over the fact that Artscape didn't book any hometown club music DJ's, but booked a guy from Philly who's built a lot of his reputation on 'discovering' Bmore club. I expected his set to be nothing but snap music and Spank Rock and bullshit like that, but the few minutes I heard were pretty typical crate digger DJ nerd stuff, play a popular rap song (if Jay-Z's "Sunshine" counts as popular), and then play the song it sampled, and it was all really low energy and awkward transitions from song to song. Probably not that different from the sets Peanut Butter Wolf and Cut Chemist played before and after him, and let's face it, pretty much the same fanbase anyway.

I went back to the stage were Lake Trout had played to check out the Secret Machines, who I'd never really heard before but vaguely knew of from all the press they've gotten. They sounded pretty much like I expected, woozy nu-shoegaze, like a less druggy Spiritualized, which works pretty well at an outdoor show. The vocals were terrible and I doubt I'd buy an album, but it was really enjoyable music to stand around and listen to in the pouring rain. About halfway through their set, the rain stopped for a while, and this huge rainbow appeared across from the stage, and there was this nice "A RAINBOW, YOU GUYS!" hippie moment, which was kind of fun. But it started raining again, and they almost cut their set short for fear of lightening, but the audience was really receptive, so they played one last song, which was one of their more upbeat songs and had lyrics about rain and it was a kind of awesome moment. By that point, I was completely soaked, and decided that I didn't feel like hanging around another hour to see some of Common's set, so I went on my way home. Fun day, though.

Saturday, July 22, 2006
Suggested title for the Janet/Mariah duet: "You, Me and Dupri" (although Becker and Fagen might ask for a co-writing credit).

Friday, July 21, 2006
TV Theme Mix Part 2

1. Speed Racer
2. Garfield And Friends
3. Futurama
4. DuckTales
5. Darkwing Duck
6. Talespin
7. X-Men
8. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
9. Captain Planet
10. Tiny Toon Adventures
11. Animaniacs
12. Pinky and the Brain
13. Pink Panther
14. Inspector Gadget
15. Ghostbusters
16. Doug
17. Fairly Odd Parents
18. Care Bears
19. Schoolhouse Rock
20. Do The Mario
21. Super Mario Bros Super Show
22. Smurfs
23. Fraggle Rock
24. Muppet Show
25. Shining Time Station
26. Pee Wee's Playhouse
27. Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers
28. ALF
29. The Price is Right
30. Jeopardy (Think Music)
31. Saved By The Bell
32. Cosby Show
33. Batman
34. Gilligan's Island
35. Monty Python's Flying Circus
36. Sanford and Son
37. Full House
38. Family Matters
39. Step By Step
40. Matlock
41. Happy Days
42. Cheers
43. Who's The Boss
44. Family Ties

My first TV Theme Mix that I made a few months ago was largely comprised of pre-existing songs by known recording artists that happened to become theme songs for TV shows, and this was due largely to my selection being limited to stuff I could find easily on iTunes or in a record store. But a while back after I made that CD, I came across a link on my brother's blog to this site, which is just ridiculously jam-packed full of mp3's of varying sound quality of theme songs from shows I grew up on. So I picked through it and DLed the ones I liked or at least recognized, and tried to put in a halfway listenable 61-minute sequence (I decided to start with the cartoons, end with the live action shows, and put shows that involved puppetry somewhere in the middle). I didn't bother finding the credits for who wrote or recorded most of these, since it would be a pretty futile search to find them all. Some of these were just songs from TV shows and not the main theme songs, but were just too good not to include (like the "think music" from Jeopardy or the "Do The Mario" song from the Super Mario Brothers Super Show).

Thursday, July 20, 2006
Ray Cash - "Here I Stand" (mp3)

One thing I have to give to Cash On Delivery, albums that save the best for the last go a long way with me, and most hip hop albums these days end with some tacked-on remixes or bonus tracks or some bullshit like that. But it works so much better to end with a strong track that actually feels like the last song on an album.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

This week, the annual Big Music Issue of the Baltimore City Paper hits the streets, and I'm really excited about this one, because I have a couple pieces in there, and because pretty much the entire issue is dedicated to Baltimore's hip hop scene. This was Jess Harvell's first BMI since becoming CP's music editor last summer, and I really have to give him props for putting together a hot issue and focusing on hip hop so much in a paper whose readership doesn't necessarily want to read that much about hip hop. Hopefully the City Paper will get enough positive feedback from this issue to balance out the inevitable hatemail. This is one that you should really just pick up a copy of and read from cover to cover, but I'll give you a breakdown of some of the great stuff in this issue:

* The Best Of Both Worlds is my baby, my big article about the history of fusion between Baltimore club music and hip hop. I did a lot of interviews and research for this and I think it came out pretty good, although honestly I'm too close to it to be objective yet. I focused primarily on club producers who also make hip hop, including Booman, Debonair Samir, Blaq Starr, Dukeyman, Rod Lee (who I didn't get a chance to interview), DJ Ron Rico, and Say What (who I did interview, but unfortunately the stuff about him got left on the cutting room floor, so apologies to him). Harvell deserves a lot of credit for greenlighting and editing the piece, and adding his two cents to a lot of the article and helping it take shape, a lot of the turns of phrase and perspectives in there are his. Over the next couple weeks on Gov't Names I'll have posts about each of the producers spotlighted in the article to really share some music and show people what I'm talking about if they're not familiar.

* Baltimore Hip-Hop Trading Cards is an interesting bonus thing that seemed to pop up at the last minute and turned out really nice, with myself, Harvell, and Jason Torres contributing vital stats about some of local hip hop's biggest names to accompany illustrated portraits by Alex Fine of folks like Mullyman, Labtekwon, Huli Shallone, Bossman, Tha Plague, B. Rich, Ms. Stress, Ogun, ShellBe RAW, Tim Trees, Skarr Akbar, and D.O.G. It's definitely a cool little primer for scene outsiders.

* The Come Up by Jason Torres is a thinkpiece about local hip hop that features quotes from a roundtable discussion with DJ K-Swift, Ogun and Wink from Real On Purpose Records, C Love, Mike Mcintosh from Architects Studio, Victor Starr from 92Q, Shawn Caesar from Unruly Records, Ahk from 88.9, Golden Seal, Brown F.I.S.H. and Sekani Williams. It's a really good piece and there's some serious food for thought in there.

* Spitting Game by J. Bowers is a profile of local human beatbox Shodekeh, who I saw perform a few months ago and was really talented and entertaining.

* Stream Of Consciousness by Harvell is about Timmy Grins and TheBreakdownTV.

* Turning The Tables by Jaye Hunnie is about DJ Spontaneous

* And finally, the Big Music Thing is a downloadable mixtape of local music, featuring mp3's by Dirty Hartz, Mullyman, Barnes, Cooli Hi, Rod Lee, and my friends Private Eleanor.

(photo by Frank Hamilton)

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Nicole Wray - "Destination" (mp3)

I think the reason I never warmed up to "Touch The Sky" as much as some people is that it was just never gonna be more than my 2nd favorite Roc-A-Fella jam with a "Move On Up" sample.


Sunday, July 16, 2006
The 4th season of The Wire begins in less than 2 months, and my excitement just jumped up a notch after reading the preview in The Baltimore Sun a few days ago. It's common knowledge that the new season's focus is the public school system, but this is the first I've heard that they're bridging into the new topic by making disgraced ex-cop Pryzbylewski a schoolteacher. He started on the first season seeming like a completely unsympathetic fuck-up who was only still on the force because of nepotism. But by the end of the Season 5 when he finally lost his badge, he'd actually redeemed himself and done some real police work, so it's good to hear they found a way to keep the character in the show and continue his arc. Apparently David Simon is already campaigning to get Season 5 greenlighted, goddamn do I hope it does well enough this year for HBO to keep it going. I finally got completely caught up on the previous seasons a few months ago, and now I've started Netflixing them to help catch J.G. up and so that I can listen to the commentary tracks, which so far have been pretty illuminating.

Netflix Diary

Saturday, July 15, 2006
Man, I went back and checked the last time I did this, it's been like 9 months. In fact, since we got Netflix last year, we've rented less than 40 discs, which is probably partly because we've been following a lot of prime time shows this past season. Hopefully for the rest of the summer we'll start to take advantage of it more.

Super Size Me
Finally saw this after hearing about it forever, and I have to say, it was kinda better than I thought it would be. I don't really feel like I learned anything I didn't already know, but it was entertaining and well put together. J.G. expected it to put her off fast food forever, but I knew better, and I swear, I went to McDonald's 3 times in the week after seeing this. In my defense, it was mainly because I had coupons, not just a contrarian move.

I guess this came out around the same time as Mean Girls, but they seemed really samilar to me in a lot of ways, same kind of plot taking place in very different schools and social circles. Eva Amurri is so hot in this. The movie took place in Maryland but I think the filmed it all in Vancouver or somewhere like that. I think I was fooled while watching it, though, since suburban MD looks more or less like suburban everywhere else.

Resevoir Dogs/Pulp Fiction
J.G. had never seen either, or really any Tarantino besides Kill Bill (which is one of those things that makes me slightly aghast at our 'generation gap,' even though I'm less than 2 years older than her), so we got both of these at the same time and watched them in a row a while back as a little mini-marathon. I'd only seen RD a couple times before and I've kinda decided I don't like it that much all in all, aside from a few great scenes. Pulp Fiction, on the other hand, I saw maybe 3 times in the theatre just in its initial run, when I was like 12 or 13, and it's aged pretty well for me, despite influencing the past decade of shitty crime movies with overlapping, non-sequential storylines about hitmen who make witty pop culture references and so on and so on.

I can respect the ambition of a historical epic like this, but it felt kind of tedious. The idea of having Ralph Fiennes play the men of 3 different generations of the same family was novel, but ultimately he played all 3 characters the same with slightly different facial hair for each one. And each one had a tiresome love affair subplot that seemed to suggest that noone in this family can fall in love with someone who wasn't married to someone else or related to them or something else complicated and tragic.

J.G. decided to rent this because one cable channel kept playing a heavily edited version, and she figured if she was going to watch it she should see it in its full NC-17 glory. I think she expected it to actual justify its misguided 'cult classic' status, though, but it was about as boring as I expected it to be, the occasional entertainingly over-the-top scene among what was otherwise no shittier than your average mainstream rated R flick.

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
I'd seen this already but J.G. decided to rent it, and then we had the disc in our apartment for approximately a month and she never watched it. I don't really know why, she always talks about needing to be in the mood to watch certain kinds of movies, I guess it's kind of heavy at times but I don't really understand that. At the time, it was playing on HBO a lot, so she rationalized putting the disc back in the mail without watching it by saying she'd catch it on cable, but I don't think she ever did. I was actually channel surfing recently and ended up watching it for a little while, and caught the most intense and hardest to watch parts, so maybe I see where she was coming from. I think I'd like this movie a lot more if they cut out all the shit with actors I don't like (Kirsten Dunst, David Cross, Mark Ruffalo) and their uninteresting subplots, even if that stuff is somehow important to the overall movie.

In My Stereo

Friday, July 14, 2006
D-Block - The CD/DVD Mixtape
DJ Drama & The P$C - The Indictment
Papoose - Mixtape Murder
Spymob - Spymob EP
Prince - Dream Factory Remastered
DJ Blaq Starr - I'm Banging
Labtekwon - The Ghetto Dai Lai Llama V. 777
UnReal - Street Heat 3
Born King - untitled street album
Mike Malachi - Malachi's Way


Thursday, July 13, 2006

A few weeks ago, I eulogized Shelby, my father's beloved Great Dane, and even then, I noted that there was a good chance that Dad was going to start looking for a Dane puppy pretty soon. And sure enough, a week later, they went to a check out a litter of puppies and picked one out, and brought her home 2 weeks after Shelby's passing. The name they initially had in mind was Lucy, but after J.G. and I reminded them that that was already the name of one of our kittens, they ended up naming the new puppy Scarlett.

At the risk of coming off soft batch and getting all cute overload on you, that's Scarlett up there. The second time we went to see her on July 4th, we took a few pictures, including the one above of her on my lap, with my incredibly hairy hand in the corner of the shot. Her weight has already doubled since they first went to pick her out, but she's only 20 pounds, and incredibly awkward as she stumbles around on her oversized paws. Dad carries her up and down the stairs of their house, and she hasn't ventured very far from home yet. Usually on the 4th, we watch the fireworks over the harbor from the top of Dad's house, but this year we decided to walk right down to the water, and J.G. and I took turns carrying Scarlett. I think Scarlett felt really safe with J.G., it was good to see them bond. Scarlett is still easily startled by loud noises, but she was really well behaved during the fireworks. And we were right up underneath where they were going off, so close that you could smell the smoke as ashes rained down and fell into your hair. It was kind of fun to carry her all that way, since in probably a month or two, she'll be too big to carry at all. And in a few months we'll be able to take her to the park, and the real fun will begin.

Dad and his girlfriend Linda went out of town this weekend, and this morning I drove them to the airport. They've got someone else watching Scarlett for the weekend, but I went and spent some time with her this morning. We played for about an hour, most of which consisted of her constantly climbing on me and trying to bite me. Hopefully she'll lose the biting habit when she grows up, Shelby never did that. She's a really cute little dog, though, and after a while she wore herself out and had to take a nap. And she's going to be huge before we know it, so it's nice to spend time with her now and watch her grow up.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Junior Private Detective - "Time Like Television" (mp3)

This week on Stylus, I dip into the promo pile and find a pleasant surprise in Junior Private Detective, a Portland group who've made a pretty good, if not terribly unique, indie record.

TV Diary

Monday, July 10, 2006
1. Meerkat Manor
I love Animal Planet for making a completely absurd idea like this into a real TV show. This is the perfect show for someone who constantly watches family pets and wonders what the social significance of all their bizarre actions are. I guess the people who make the show have been observing this meerkat family for years and years, so they know what they're talking about, but sometimes I wonder how much they're just totally making up reasons for behavior or manipulating footage just to keep some semblance of a plot for the show. Either way, it's totally involving drama. As much as I like Sean Astin, though I don't know if he's the best possible narrator for this show. Too often, having Samwise Gamgee describe what's happening kind of makes it seem like a Hobbit story. No, wait, that's totally a good thing.

2. Chappelle's Show: The Lost Episodes
This whole thing kind of has a bad smell to me and I'd almost like to not watch it out of protest, but what the hell, nothing else was on. The one sketch I really liked was the one about posthumous 2Pac songs. Millions of people have made the same jokes before, but the sketch itself did it in a really funny way, Chappelle's Pac voice is hilarious. Still, it makes me kind of uncomfortable to watch the guys who helped Dave make the first 2 seasons kind of turn around and help Comedy Central polish these turds. Even if he handled the whole situation really poorly, I still kind of get the feeling that his heart was in the right place, and he abondoned the show for the right reasons, so I hope the next thing he does justifies all this bullshit and proves that he's not some crazy shut-in now.

3. Rock Legends: Platinum Weird
So, I understand that this is a mockumentary meant to perpetuate a hoax by an actual new band that's pretending to be an old band from the 70's, but it doesn't really work on any level. It's not funny and it's the slightest bit believable. It scans more like an excuse to show off that they've got a lot of really famous friends they can call in to unconvincingly support their bogus origin story.

4. Dane Cook's Tourgasm
Like I said before, this show blows, but I caught this week's episode and they were in Baltimore. I couldn't figure out what college they were performing at (they played a practical joke involving a Terps mascot but I don't they were at College Park), but before the concert they went to Obrycki's, which is a crab house that's like 3 blocks from my apartment. The funny part (aside from them being completely confounded by the whole act of eating crabs like most non-Marylanders) was that they kept making jokes about being in "the hood" as they drove down my street, and I mean, Upper Fells Point is totally not the hood by Baltimore standards.

Friday, July 07, 2006
Producer Series Mix #3: Kevin "Khao" Cates

1. T.I. - "Stand Up Guy" (mp3)
2. T.I. - "Why You Wanna"
3. T.I. - "Why U Mad At Me"
4. T.I. f/ Governor - "Hello"
5. T.I. f/ P$C - "Limelight"
6. T.I. f/ Young Buck and Young Dro - "Undertaker"
7. Young Dro - "Lollipop Gangsta" (mp3)
8. Big Kuntry, Mac Boney and AK - "Bread Box" (mp3)
9. P$C - "#1 Crew"
10. Paul Wall f/ T.I. - "So Many Diamonds"
11. Lil Kim f/ Sha-Dash and T.I. - "Get Yours"
12. Lil Kim - "I Know You See Me" (mp3)
13. Young Jeezy f/ Lil Will, Young Buck and Trick Daddy - "Last Of A Dying Breed"
14. Xplicit - "Flossy" (mp3)
15. Xplicit - "From The Midwest"
16. Dirty - "Gimme Sum Mo"
17. Dirty f/ Pastor Troy - "C'Mon" (mp3)
18. Dirty f/ Khao and DBK - "Keep It" (mp3)
19. Dirty f/ Silk and Mr. Blue - "Lose Control (Candy Man, Pt. 2)"

Khao may not be the Grand Hustle producer people are checking for right now (which would be DJ Toomp), and he's only just now getting his first serious radio hit, "Why You Wanna." But I started really taking notice of him after getting King and seeing that he did some of my favorite tracks, and expecially after the feature. He's definitely good with the smoother, R&B-style tracks, but he's got some bangers too. If you check out his official site, he's actually got a bunch of new instrumentals (with drops over them to avoid beat jacking, of course) available for download in the bottom right corner, which is pretty cool. I never really knew anything by Dirty, who are from Khao's native Alabama, aside from their video "Hit Da Floe" that was a big a few years ago, but the stuff I checked out has been growing on me.

Previously in the Producer Series:
#1: Shondrae "Bangladesh" Crawford
#2: Rich Harrison


Movie Diary

Wednesday, July 05, 2006
1. Superman Returns
I didn't go into this with any particular expectations; I hadn't read many reviews, it's been at least 10 years since I've seen any of the Reeve movies, and I was never that big on Superman to begin with. But whatever expectations I had were definitely surpassed by this, it rocked, as far as special effects and the story and all that. I kinda feel bad for Cyclops, though, he gets cuckolded by Supe in this as bad as he was by Wolverine. The whole movie was about his red eye beam envy. One of the things that Josh pointed out in his Batman & Robin rant was how low the body count was, and how "people generally are never in peril" in that movie, and that's basically how I felt watching Superman Returns. There were scenes that featured bullets flying through the air, runaway cars speeding down busy sidewalks, and all of Metropolis about to be destroyed, and yet I don't think they showed a single one of these things happening without people either dodging out of the way, or Superman saving them. The only people I saw die in the entire movie were Luthor's henchmen. I know it's a PG-13 movie and all, but it was just a little ridiculous. Also, it made no sense to me that Kal Penn was one of the henchmen, since he barely had any lines and wasn't even really a comic relief character. But then I read that he's good friends with Brandon Routh, so I guess that explains that. I think what bugged me the most, though, is that they couldn't cast a natural brunette as Lois Lane, which is almost as bad as not casting a natural redhead as Mary Jane. Why spend all that money on great special effects and then give lead characters bad dyejobs?

2. Madagascar
Caught this on cable recently, and though it was fairly enjoyable, it's kind of amazing how shitty the animation on movies like this and Shrek are compared to Pixar movies. I don't know why more people don't seem to notice or care. Also, I have to admit I lost a little respect for Chris Rock after watching him voice a cartoon zebra who says things like "crackalackin'" and "off the chizzain." And the fact that the Ali G/Borat guy voiced a character with an over-the-top Indian accent helped cement for me the fact that whether or not he's a racist, that dude is definitely an asshole who gets by on a lot of lame ethnic humor. I'm sure someone would love to explain to me that he's not a bigot and maybe that his humor is actually about making fun of bigotry, but whatever, fuck that guy. I'm not trying to be the humorless PC police here, but he's not that funny, and I fail to see why his "watch me talk like and ridicule the foibles of a minority of which I am not a member" shit gets a free pass from people who should know better.

3. Must Love Dogs
Decent boilerplate rom-com to waste an evening with. Cusack seems to slowly be getting puffier and more mumbly in his advancing years (wow, he just turned 40 like a week ago), even as he plays the perpetually lovelorn bachelor. But the dialogue was snappy enough and there were some good twists on the formula, so I can't complain.

4. Boffo! Tinseltown's Bombs And Blockbusters
An original documentary that HBO's been running lately, about the unpredictability of Hollywood, focusing mainly on the post-Jaws blockbuster era. It's kind of short and breezy, with a lot of clips and voiceover, but the interviews are pretty interesting and give you a good perspective on just confused studios are about what works and doesn't work. I tend to be pretty cynical about the film industry and have little or no interest in most big movies, so it's a little weird for me to see all these people speaking really earnestly about how hard they try when usually you can tell what's going to bomb based on the trailers.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Miccio's countdown of every Modern Rock #1 through 2005, modernrock4eva, has been one of the more entertainingly narrow-minded concept blogs the past few months. Sometimes I don't really follow his logic (like when he goes on about The Omega Code), but for the most part it's a pretty exhaustive examination of a radio format with an extremely odd history. He's going to be finishing the countdown in the next week or so, although I'm kind of hoping that at least at the end of the year he'll countdown the #1s of 2006.

Monday, July 03, 2006
Cex - "Baltimore" (mp3)

Over the weekend, while I was finishing up my Stylus review of Actual Fucking, Cex was making the last stop on his recent tour here in Bmore, so I went to the Talking Head on Saturday to check it out. For a couple years, it seemed like every time Cex played a local show, he'd headline at the Ottobar and the place would be practically empty, and I'd wonder why he wouldn't just play a smaller room like the Talking Head. I don't know, maybe the guarantee was higher at the Ottobar or something. So it was kind of cool to see him at the TH for once and pack in a decent sized crowd, even if I personally like hanging out at the Ottobar more.

I got there in the middle of the first act, Lizz King, who was a girl singing solo with this throaty voice that sounded kind of hot. During the 6 songs I saw, she played 2 on a banjo, 2 on an electric guitar, one on an acoustic guitar, and one on a synthesizer, a couple of which had drum machine accompaniment, but basically all the songs were slow bluesy vamps, which really worked well with her voice. She was the kind of charmingly awkward girl who thanked her parents for coming to the show, and then later mentioned that she lives in the Copycat building and needs new roommates and basically invited the audience to come live with her. Her set kind of made the club feel like someone's living room, although the Talking Head's main room isn't really much bigger than that as it is.

The 2nd band, Love Of Everything, share a drummer with Cex on this tour, and are kind of a spinoff or related project of Joan Of Arc. I saw them play a couple shows about 3 years ago, and Love Of Everything were awful then and are awful now. They do basically the same thing as Joan Of Arc, making pretty, generic bedroom indie, that occasionally lapses into something intolerably annoying and pretentious, only the ratio of intolerably annoying stuff is a lot higher with Love Of Everything. The main guy, Bobby, basically talked like a retard between songs, and one song consisted of him actually shouting the word "retarded" and looping it over and over.

I hadn't seen a Cex show in almost 2 years, not counting the Sand Cats show I saw last year. For a long time, Rjyan Kidwell only ever performed as Cex solo, but now he's got kind of a band, with Cale Parks from Love Of Everything on drums, and his wife Roby singing and operating I guess a sampler along with him. The last Cex show had the same people, along with a few more people, and I guess they were playing some of the same material, but of course I hadn't heard the album yet, so I don't really know if it was the same songs or anything. I guess it was similiar, but I didn't like that show too much, and this show was pretty good, probably the most I've enjoyed a Cex show in the 3 years since he stopped performing Being Ridden material. Parks is a really good drummer and basically the onslaught of percussion and synths and samples all really gelled together into this big aggressive sound. Rjyan made a couple references to a rave as the experience they were trying to emulate, but it really felt like a rock show to me.

Their set consisted of 5 of the 8 songs from Actual Fucking, but stretched out to the point that the set was about as long as the album. They started with "Baltimore," maybe the best song of the album and the show, and towards the end Rjyan incorporated samples of Blaq Starr's "Get My Gun" and snippets of K-Swift talking on the radio. Rjyan was wearing a red cowboy hat, a sleeveless flannel shirt, long hair and some pretty serious mutton chops, so he basically looked like a 17-year-old trying to look like Rob Zombie. As a look, it went well with the percussive, confrontational music, though.

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