In My Stereo

Thursday, November 30, 2006
Lupe Fiasco - Food & Liquor
Killer Mike - I Pledge Allegiance To The Grind
The Who - Endless Wire
Sparklehorse - Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly Of A Mountain
Canibus & Phoenix Orion - Def Con Zero
Plain White T's - Hey There Delilah
Flawless Blak - Once U Go Blak...The Mixtape
DNA/Mobb Deep - Street Jeopardy: Your Life Is On The Line
E-Naledge - Street Sampler
Yuk And Cut - CD Sampler

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Thursday, November 23, 2006
Christmas Mix '06

1. The Ramones - "Merry Christmas (I Don't Wanna Fight Tonight)" (mp3)
2. Billy Idol - "Yellin' At The Xmas Tree" (mp3)
3. They Might Be Giants - "Santa's Beard"
4. Jackon 5 - "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town"
5. James Brown - "Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto"
6. Darlene Love - "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)"
7. Mariah Carey - "All I Want For Christmas Is You"
8. The Waitresses - "Christmas Wrapping" (mp3)
9. Kurtis Blow - "Christmas Rappin'"
10. De La Soul - "Millie Pulled A Pistol On Santa"
11. Trick Daddy - "Ain't No Santa (Bonus Mix)" (mp3)
12. Grand Buffet - "Stocking Stuffer" (mp3)
13. Rocket From The Crypt - "Cancel Christmas"
14. The Who - "Christmas"
15. The Pretenders - "2000 Miles"
16. Travis Morrison - "My Two Front Teeth, Parts 2 & 3"
17. The Posies - "Christmas" (mp3)
18. Prince - "Another Lonely Christmas (Extended)" (mp3)
19. "Weird Al" Yankovic - "Christmas At Ground Zero"
20. The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl - "Fairytale Of New York"

Generally I'm loathe to start overtly anticipating or acknowledging Christmas as early as Thanksgiving (I usually don't start shopping or anything like that until mid-December). But almost every year I think about putting together a mix like this (I posted an early version here a couple years ago), and then procrastinate until it seems too close to the date to bother, so I decided to get started on it early this time. I thought about sticking with a theme or focus, like silly Christmas songs or sentimental Christmas songs or hip hop Christmas songs, but ultimately I just threw together all the stuff I could think of that I liked, at least in terms of modern/pop Christmas songs.

There were some toss-ups as to whose version of songs to include, Jackson 5 versus Springsteen, Darlene Love versus U2, with R&B winning out over 80's pop star compilation fodder on both counts (though it really could've gone either way). I've posted plenty of Prince extended mixes here that I've gotten from my friend Mat, but the b-side "Another Lonely Christmas" is a favorite of both his and mine (this version has like a whole different verse and some additional instrumental stuff than the version the hits/b-sides comp). The Posies' "Christmas" is a cover by some band so obscure I can't remember their name right now, but is a highlight of their non-LP catalog. "Stocking Stuffer" might be the funniest thing that Grand Buffet has ever recorded, a superlative I don't throw around lightly. I think "Christmas Wrapping" is my favorite out of all of these though, managing to be both irreverent and modern like a lot of recent Christmas songs are, yet still really sentimental and sincere about the holiday.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006
This week in the City Paper I did the Know Your Product local release round-up with the usual batch of Bmore hip hop: PX (Parts Unknown), UnReal, Midas, and Billo. And there's mp3's over at Gov't Names, of course.

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Sunday, November 19, 2006
Pitbull - "Miami Shit" (mp3)

I'm not nearly as impressed with the new Pitbull album as Tom is, but I do like it, even if I invoked the term 'sophomore slump' in my Stylus review.


In My Stereo

Thursday, November 16, 2006
Jay-Z - Kingdom Come
The Roots - Game Theory
Hi-Tek - Hi-Teknology 2: The Chip
Pitbull - El Mariel
Shareefa - Point Of No Return
Rhymefest - Blue Collar
DNA/DJ Jabril - MySpace Is Solidified
Bossman - BulletProof B
Midas - Pay-Per-View
PenDragon - Return Of The Harm City King

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006
On the other hand, I have seen some bad movies lately, too.


Movie Diary

Monday, November 13, 2006
1. The Departed
I didn't have especially high expectations, but I think I ended up liking this as much as any other Scorcese film I've seen, or even more. I groaned every time he cued up "Gimme Shelter" (although the Nas and Dropkick Murphys songs almost made up for it), but it turned out to be one of those rare Oscar bait movies where the A-list cast were pretty much all in top form, Baldwin and Wahlberg especially. Even the contrived-sounding premise played out in some subtle and surprising ways (although the whole thing of Damon and DiCaprio unwittingly sleeping with the same woman seemed like a completely unnecessary parallel that went nowhere, even if the woman was pretty hot). What I especially liked was how it captured the same depressed blue collar port city organized crime vibe as the 2nd season of The Wire, and how much it focused on the role that cell phones play in these kinds of stories now.

2. The Prestige
As I predicted, this was similiar to The Illusionist but much better, lots of twists to keep you guessing. J.G. kind of figured out one of the big revelations pretty early, but even when you could see stuff coming there was a really good air of mystery to the whole thing. Cool to see Andy Serkis in something where he's not Gollum, too.

3. Fade To Black
Jim brought this DVD over since I'd never seen it and kinda wanted to. It's kind of funny how much a product of its moment it is, Jay getting wrapped up in the idea that he was really going to retire, making a big deal out of headlining the Garden when he's done it like 3 times since then. Depressing, too, considering that this comeback album is probably going to soil the premature legendary status that the retirement helped him achieve. His voiceovers were really the worst part of the movie. I always like in-the-studio footage, though, I wish there was more of that, even when it's like all the deluded producers on the album who really think they've making classic beats, when they've done enough real classics to know better.

Thursday, November 09, 2006
Producer Series Mix #6: Carl "Chucky" Thompson

1. Nas - "One Mic"
2. Nas - "Getting Married" (mp3)
3. Notorious B.I.G. - "Big Poppa"
4. Notorious B.I.G. f/ Eminem - "Dead Wrong"
5. Shyne f/ Barrington Levy - "Bonnie & Shyne"
6. G. Dep - "The Ride" (mp3)
7. Shawnna - "Can't Do It Like Me"
8. Ice Cube f/ Chris Rock - "You Ain't Gotta Lie (Ta Kick it)" (mp3)
9. Biz Markie - "Party To The Break-A-Day"
10. Lil Mo - "Dem Boyz" (mp3)
11. Lil Mo - "Shoulda Known"
12. Shareefa - "No One Said" (mp3)
13. Shareefa - "Fevah (He Don't Know)"
14. SWV - "Don't Waste Your Time"
15. Faith Evans - "Mesmerized"
16. Faith Evans - "You Used To Love Me"
17. Mary J. Blige - "Mary Jane (All Night Long)"
18. Mary J. Blige - "I Love You" (mp3)

Chucky Thompson from Washington, D.C. was one of Puffy's right hand men and a member of Bad Boy's legendary Hitmen production team in the 90's, but I don't know if he really gets enough props relative to the number of absolute classics he's responsible for. I kinda structured this mix as hip hop in the first half, and R&B in the second half, since his resume is crazy in either genre. I think he's got a little bit of a background in Go-Go, like his protege Rich Harrison, who's kind of outshined him in recent years, but Thompson hasn't really put too much Go-Go-style bombast into his beats, aside from "Dem Boyz," which was a huge record in Baltimore last year (Mullyman did a track over the beat, and K.W. Griff did a club mix of it). It was supposed to be the lead single from Lil Mo's album on Cash Money, but I think that deal went sour so she never dropped and that song got slept on in most places. I read a Shareefa interview where she said that Chucky has a studio in Baltimore where they recorded, but I checked the liner notes on her album and it says the studio is in Accokeek, Maryland, which is much closer to D.C., so she must not know anything about MD geography. Like I said last week, though, the Shareefa album is pretty good, especially CT's tracks. On "No One Said" he flips one of the songs from Ready To Die that he didn't produce, "Everyday Struggle," in a pretty creative way, but he did do a few great B.I.G. records (he's also credited with producing the "Flava In Ya Ear" remix, but that was pretty much the same beat as Easy Mo Bee's original track so I don't count that). And Thompson did some of my absolute favorite Nas tracks from his last few albums (he also did "Sincerely, We The People" and the Maxwell joint on the last one), I still think "Getting Married" is almost perfect and is probably the only rap song I'll insist on being played at my wedding someday. The Ice Cube/Chris Rock track is hilarious, mostly unintentionally because of how much it reminds me of "It Doesn't Matter."

Previously in the Producer Series:
#1: Shondrae "Bangladesh" Crawford
#2: Rich Harrison
#3: Kevin "Khao" Cates
#4: Chad Wes Hamilton
#5: Neo Da Matrix


Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Stylus commissioned me to pen the half-hearted dismissal of Lady Sovereign that ran yesterday, and I have to admit that I probably don't have enough fight in me to pull off a serious hatchet job of something I care so little about.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Sonic Youth - "Blink" (mp3)

I have mixed feelings about the tracklist that Sonic Youth announced last week for their upcoming compilation, The Destroyed Room: B-Sides and Rarities. Though they're my favorite band, SY are also one of the bands from which I learned, in my youth as a budding music geek, that buying overpriced import singles for a couple non-LP songs is usually a raw deal (one hard fought lesson that I'm glad those growing up in the mp3 era don't have to bother themselves with). They definitely have a handful of certifiably good and great b-sides, some of which, like "Genetic," were included on the recent reissues of Dirty and Goo. But more often than not, scouring the band's non-album output turns up a lot of inessential demos, alternate and live versions, along with a few songs that sound like they were written with the specific intent of being b-sides (which, in at least the case of "Razor Blade," is literally true). Still, I think I'd be more interested in this contractual obligation of a release if it was more comprehensive, or at least a double disc, or organized chronologically or somehow thematically. As it stands, though, there are several tracks that I've heard and absolutely consider not particularly worth revisiting (especially "Campfire" and the alternate version of "Diamond Sea"), a few unreleased or unfamiliar songs that could be great but probably won't be, and exactly one song that I absolutely love and am excited about finally getting a wider release.

"Blink" was recorded for the soundtrack of some French film called Pola X in 1999. And on a superficial level, it's not unlike a lot of stuff they were doing in the late 90's, in which Kim mumbled elliptical lyrics over sparse improvisation (see "Contre Le Sexisme" or any number of tracks on the SYR releases), material that by and large I have little affection for. But "Blink" is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful pieces of music Sonic Youth has ever made. It's hard to make out exactly who's playing what, but there's at least one acoustic guitar being played, an electric, some kind of organ or harmonium, and a 5/4 rhythm being tapped out on what sounds like the body of an acoustic. Somehow it comes together to form something much more than the sum of its parts, though, at least for me. About a year after the song was released, I was talking to Steve Shelley at a Two Dollar Guitar show, and told him how much I loved the track and tried to ask about how the song was made and everything. But he didn't seem to remember much about it, and I think implied that it's something they just threw together one afternoon and mailed out a DAT of to the film's producers. So for a long time, I felt like even the band didn't realize how great and unique "Blink" is, and its inclusion on The Destroyed Room comes as a surprising bit of validation, a little sign that they remembered it.

TV Diary

Saturday, November 04, 2006
1. Standoff
I've watched this show on and off because it comes on after House, but I don't know if I'll bother keeping up with it, let alone if it will last in general. There have been so many stupid hostage negotiation movies that have played out every imaginable scenario that trying to come up with some new ones to burn through every week seems like a terrible idea, and adding Moonlighting-style playful sexual tension doesn't really help, nor does the fact that Ron Livingston is prettier than the girl.

2. The Class
The other three shows on CBS's Monday night lineup (How I Met Your Mother, Two And A Half Men, and The New Adventures Of Old Christine) are all pretty good and this kind of lame new one is the only thing holding it back from a NBC-Thursdays-in-the-90s dynasty. At first it was on at 8:00 so it was easy to avoid, but now it's at 8:30 right in the middle of things and I'm trying to give it a chance. Aside from the terrible premise, it seems like they've already started segmenting the cast into pairs and trios of characters that do scenes together but barely interact with the rest of the cast, which makes it feel even more fragmented and anonymous than it is. There are some funny bits, although most of them are from the bitchy hot chick (who looks even less like her character from Mean Girls now than Rachel McAdams does), and some of the other storylines are completely worthless (like the couple that bad things keep happening to who are written as so overly sweet/innocent/twee that they come off as borderline retarded).

3. C.S.I.
This is still a pretty good show, in spite of its formulaic nature and the inferior spin-offs. What's bugging me now, though, is how often they seem to put the characters in harm's way as a ratings grab. Considering that the first episode centered around a rookie C.S.I. getting killed at a crime scene, the show has at least been consistent with its thesis, which is that these aren't just lab nerds, they're cops and they're in the line of fire too. But in the past couple years, we've had Brass almost getting killed, Cathering being raped, Nick being buried alive (which was actually a pretty good episode), and most recently Greg getting the crap kicked out of him by Kevin Federline. It's just getting to be a bit much. Also, all the minor characters they've added, even the ones that have been around for two or three years now, like that one blonde woman, still feel really anonymous and unnecessary, whereas the main cast that's been around from the beginning are all pretty well written and have distinct identities.

4. Scrubs
I never watched this in prime time and always kind of assumed it was crap, but now that Comedy Central has started running two episodes a day, I've kind of gotten sucked into it and it can be pretty funny, if wildly uneven and prone abrupt shifts in tone. Sometimes all the wacky sight gags and maudlin sentimentality work, sometimes the only good stuff is the Dr. Cox rants and the bits with the janitor. The second-Becky-from-Roseanne girl is hot, but it seems like there were entire seasons where someone was letting her make really terrible hair and makeup decisions.

Thursday, November 02, 2006
Shareefa - "Assumptions" (mp3)

Given that "I'll Be Around" is probably my favorite R&B track of the past year, it's possible that my hopes for the Shareefa album were just a tad too high, but it's still pretty good. Ski's production style is an unsurprisingly great fit for R&B, and this track sounds like he hasn't switched up his style at all since the Reasonable Doubt days, which he really doesn't need to.