So it's Christmas, and I decided since I probably won't be on the computer for most of the day, and might miss out on a post, I'd leave a quick one here. Here's the concept, I decided to search the word Christmas on my iTunes and post every song that comes up on this post, so heres my Christmas gift to you ... internet ... the results of my Christmas iTunes search....
Jay-z, a legend, an all-time great and one of the best living rappers today. There is no arguing, it's fact. His idiosyncratic flow and velvet smooth way around words is the golden age of hip-hop meets business savvy with a true 90's gangsta rapper thrown in, while always remaining contemporary. I was in the car today, on the way home from 7-11, and as we were cruising through the neighborhood, Can I Get One by Original Flavor came on. It spurred a sudden desire in me to spend the night listening to old school Jay-Z, not Reasonable Doubt though -- which I do consider to be one of the top 5 greatest rap albums of all time -- but older. I also decided to write this post as a tribute, so here it is, a Christmas Eve tribute to one of the greatest rappers to ever step on the scene, Shawn Carter.
Six years before Reasonable Doubt, Jay-Z and his mentor -- as well as one of the rappers Jay-Z would become in a long standing feud with -- Jaz-O, who claims to be the creator of the name Jay-Z, released Originators.
Three years after, Jay-Z was prominently featured in Original Flavor's most successful song, Can I Get Open, off Beyond Flavor , released shortly before the group disbanded.
One year later, in 1994, Jay-Z released his first single, Can't Get Wit That. Here is the rare music video he released along with the song.
Saw The Fighter today. Christian Bale plays Dicky Eklund perfectly, I felt like at first he was overdoing it, but then after seeing footage of Eklund during he credits, I realized Bale was virtually the same person in the movie. Great boxing scenes too. Every great movie needs a great soundtrack to carry it and The Fighter had just that as well. The most prominent song was a favorite of mine, How You Like Me Now by The Heavy. Without a doubt see the movie, and enjoy every second that the powerful horns, driving rhythm and wild shouts of the Heavy grace the entrancing force that is The Fighter. Check 'em out, song and movie, plus the rest of the amazing soundtrack as well.
I am no major Tom Petty fan, in fact he barely existed within my music library, if at all, before this song. It's not that I don't consider him talented, I was just never interested enough. My one memory of Petty was his deadpan demeanor when performing at the Superbowl halftime show, he resembled a zombie or something. Despite this, I Should Have Known It is so dirty, so hard, so pure blues rock, I was taken aback when I first heard it. Its Zeppelin, adapted to contemporary american music, in order to create a monster of a hard blues track. I can listen to this song over, and over, and over, and over. Props Tom Petty, you just earned my respect, and a lot of it.
I discovered Kevin Devine recently, within the past couple of years or so, and found him to be one of the few worthy, and entertaining alternatives to Elliot Smith in my music library. He's not another Elliot Smith, but the atmosphere that his songwriting encompasses fits the mood perfectly. It might be partially because I grew up on Long Island, but I know a lot of Kevin Devine fans, if you listen to him, you fall for his clever wordplay and pop-tinged, well constructed instrumental structures. I listened to him every once in a while over the past, but yesterday changed everything for me.
I went to go see a friend who had just returned from college in the early afternoon yesterday, and as we vibed outside in the chilled December sun, he told me that I might be able to join him, and a few other guys on a trip to Connecticut to see Kevin at the Space, in Hamden. I've never seen him live, I intended to last year at Bamboozle. but it just didn't happen. I knew immediately this was something I'd have to do.
Seeing Kevin Devine live is something anyone who is a fan of the singer-songwriter spectrum of musicians should participate in at some point in their lives. The experience isn't the typical show. It's like sitting in a living room at a small house party, with a group of friends, and watching one of your closest friends sit down with a guitar and belt out some of the most hard-hitting, true, and wonderful songs you'll come across in the contemporary world of music. Devine has a unique ability to connect with everyone watching him in a rare kind of way. Even as he forgot his own lyrics several times, it didn't seem like a mistake, it flowed like is was supposed to happen, a part of the show, he'd just continue to play guitar and wait for a fan to yell to him which words come next, after which he'd just keep going. He played through his entire Make the Clocks Move album, as well as a impromptu Dancing Queen cover after a fan suggestion, which led to a sing-a-long in which the entire crowd participated. There was a Built to Spill cover, a Liz Phair cover, and what almost became a Tenacious D cover.
Kevin Devine has changed the way I see the singer-songwriter-to-fan relationship. He is a true showman, an amazing artist tinged with poetic imagery ("the sky was murder red and the treets were headstone gray, a flaming ferris wheel spun where the sun used to be I watched its buckets dip and dance, I saw a couple making love lock hands"), and pure lyrical mastery, as well as an ability to drag anyone into the hums of his guitar. Basically, see Kevin Devine.
Kevin Devine live in Chicago.
The Liz Phair song Devine covered last night at The Space.