Gilbere Forte's Latest Free Mixtape, Eye of Veritas

Gilbere Forte is what rap should be. At times introspective, at times completely material. Instrumentally, the beats don't all sound the same. On one mixtape he can seamlessly switch between praising his choice of shoes, his choice of women, and discussing the ups and downs of life in music from track to track. This bespectacled rapper creates music for passion, not money. He drops lines like, "While I'm opening her mind/You chasin' her ass". Check out Forte's latest free mixtape, dropped today, Eye of Veritas. 

Eye of Veritas

History of a Beat

Beats have as much of an ability to make a name for themselves as the artists themselves. Certain instrumental tracks in hip-hop become instantly engraved into our minds, the kicks, the snares, synths and subs permeate our mind just as heavily, if not more, then the lyrics that grace them. Kanye made a name for himself creating these iconic beats before he became a symbol of an entire genre. Jay-Z's success is indebted to Kanye's production and ways around a some kicks and a sample.

One J Dilla produced beat has become especially iconic over the years. It may not be engraves in the minds of the masses, but for anyone who truly respects rap,  this beat epitomizes what can be done in the genre. Runnin' by Pharcyde. The minimal beat features and unbelievably catchy, yet simplistic sung chant over laid back guitar. The rhythm is powered by a minimalist beat, consisting of hi hats, a kick. The sound of drumsticks tapping glues the kicks and hats, all tied together by a clap on every other beat. Brass samples creep their way into the beat as well. The beat is simply perfection in instrumental terms.

Marc Mac, half of production duo 4hero, teamed up with a few musicians deemed the Visioneers in 2006 to create a hip-hop instrumental cover album called Dirty Old Hip Hop. Runnin was one of the songs covered in the album. Marc Mac presents the Visioneers added a jazzy vibe to the songs they covered, although most of them were already decently infused with jazz. There are a few non-hip-hop songs on the album as well, which are rebuilt around a hip-hop foundation. 
I couldn't find the Runnin' cover on YouTube, but here is their cover of The World is Yours by Nas, to give you a feel of what Marc Mac presents the Visioneers is all about. 

A few years after the reworking of J Dilla's classic beat on Dirty Old Hip-Hop, Wiz Khalifa was making a name for himself as a talented party rapper who's stoner flow worked wonderfully over unique beats. He took the lazy, melodic Dilla beat and made it his own just as Marc Mac did earlier. 

55 Most Memorable Rap Lines

I'll be back with better posts later on, but to hold you over until I get out of work, here are the 55 most memorable opening lines of rap by the Smoking Section. There are actually some great songs in here, and some equally as good lines from some legends.
Get your literature game on here...
Famous First Words


Up and Coming Seattle Rapper Sol, Making Waves, Dropping Free Tracks

Sol is a 21 year old Seattle rapper who's making a name for himself in the scene. He's got talent and seems set to be a part of the next wave of rappers heading up towards the mainstream. He's also giving away a good amount of music for free, which is actually a very intelligent marketing technique in today's music industry.

The Omaha Scene

Commander Venus
Some people are true artists. They enter the world destined to create music, to be prolific masters, mind set to a constant stream of rhythms and melodies and words. Omaha, Nebraska produced two of the greatest musicians of the mid 90s and 2000s. These two created music together at the beginning of their careers, in high school, but eventually went their separate ways, one gaining mainstream fame as a master of folk infused with sounds of punk, soul, blues and country, Conor Oberst. The other found underground fame as a member of several well known and critically acclaimed groups, Tim Kasher. In 1995, while Conor Oberst was still 14, him and Kasher fronted a band called Commander Venus. Although they were a small indie band still in high school, they were signed and the recording of their second album was excessive, and cost $15,000. Rumors began floating around that Commander Venus was the next big thing, and the future of indie music. The band broke up though, as members got fed up with the "emo" scene.

After leaving Commander Venus Conor Oberst found success as a member of Saddle Creek Records, with as a member of several groups including Desaparacidos, and most famously as Bright Eyes. You can listen to the Bright Eyes latest album here.

Oberst covering Elliot Smith

Tim Kasher found success through his band Cursive. Cursive was powered by Kasher's deep introspective lyrics, idiosyncratic guitar style and powerful rhythm section. Cursive has long been one of my favorite bands of all time. Following Kasher's ugly divorce from his wife, his songwriting became deeply personal, constantly scrutinizing the details of his long divorce. This became a creative force that deeply permeated his songwriting, infusing his music with passion and energy. Here are some of Kasher's highlights.

The Recluse - Cursive

Album of the Year - The Good Life


Canadian Duo Challenges Themselves to Create a Top 40 Hit in 8 Hours

The charts are dominated by the same names. These names come up again, and again, and again and again. The top songs are always very similar. Similar lyrics, similar basslines, similar kicks and claps, similar synths.  These songs are written by the same group of people (Britney Spears’ latest single was first offered to Katy Perry), so its not surprise they all have the same sound. I’d guess that a good 50% of the artists on the Top 40 don’t even write their own music. And that’s not me hating, that’s fact, many musicians in the mainstream realm don’t write all their own music including Perry, Justin Bieber, and Taio Cruz. So what does it take to write one of these songs? Dan Bennet and his collaborator, Dave Wallace, Canadian hip-hop artists recently challenged themselves to find out just how difficult it is to make a Top 40 song. They gave themselves 8 hours to write and record a Top 40 song. The finished product has over 400,000 hits on YouTube and has been downloaded over 5,000 times. Not bad for a joke? The song was written and recorded in far less time then the proposed 8 hours, yet still it received huge amounts of attention. Gene Simmons of KISS even contacted Wallace and Bennet and offered them a contract on his new label. They told Simmons that the song absolutely does not represent their catalog, and directed him to the music they make as a living, not as a joke. Since directing Simmons to their actual music, they’ve yet to hear back. The dancy, synth heavy, “Lights, Camera, Action” is an example of what it takes to create the music that dominates our charts. So what does it take to get into the Top 40? Obviously not much musically, obviously the major labels MUST BASE THEIR DECISIONS OF SOMETHING BESIDES MUSICAL TALENT. Hmmm….

Contemporary Neo-Soul Music Done Right By Mayer Hawthorne and Electric Wire Hustle

Soul music has kind of fallen to the wayside in order to make room for rap and club music, as well as R&B, although all are heavily indebted to the legendary genre. Despite however, decreasing mainstream success for all genres, music creativity is still as alive as ever. The past few years have produced some great new neo-soul acts. Mayer Hawthorne and Electric Wire Hustle are two of my favorite recent soul acts.
Mayer Hawthorne is a former hip-hop producer from California who went the way of soul. He released his debut, A Strange Arrangement in 2009 and has been making waves with his lo-fi, retro soul sound. Apparently, when he brought demos to certain label representatives; they were appalled at his attempts to sell genuine, classic soul music as his own. Little did they know, Hawthorne was not trying to steal classic soul, these demos were his own. Hawthorne played all the instruments as well as vocals on the album. He also produced and the sound is impeccable. This glasses-wearing, skateboarding, nerdy, young producer from California was able to seamlessly create music with a wonderfully perfect retro soul sound to it.

Electric Wire Hustle is a more recent discovery for me. I found them while browsing blogs. They were receiving some pretty heavy praise and I figured, can’t be half bad can it? Wow this New Zealand group blew me away. Equal parts retro soul soundscapes, and J Dilla style instrumentals, this group is shockingly addictive. “Gimme That Kinda” and “They Don’t Want” are both highlight tracks off of the group’s eponymous debut. 

Waters (Rehearsal) - Electric Wire Hustle

Check out Electric Wire Hustle's website here

Dan Nixon Uses a Kinect to Make a Music Video for Young Silence by Echo Lake

Swirls of distortion drenched in reverb, walls of sound echoing through church-like digital spaces grounded by a slow pulsing kick and the crash of cymbals and hi-hats. And that’s just the music featured in the first music video to be made using a Kinect, Young Silence by Echo Lake, directed by filmmaker Dan Nixon. Nixon hacked the Kinect and fed the video into his laptop, into custom software allowing him to manipulate the data and create an art form out of the Kinect’s camera. The song is the single off of Echo Lake’s upcoming debut, due out on Valentines Day. Echo Lake’s psychedelic music is a haunting combination of pop and noise.

Young Silence - Echo Lake


Lupe's Second Single, Bassnectar Always Goes Hard

Lupe Fiasco dropped his second single recently and he dropped the usual, an ill track. He drops some real heavy lines in this and is at his political peak. Skylar Grey sings a hook that doesn't quite equal the one in Dr. Dre's "I Need A Doctor", but the rest of Lupe's track take's care of that, outdoin' Dre by far. Bass is heavy and crunches in your face on top of a rock style drum kit.

Words I Never Said ft. Skylar Grey - Lupe Fiasco

Bassnectar is at the top of his game releasing a consistent stream of fire tracks. Here's his remix of a tunegrape favorite, Ellie Goulding. Like I've said before, her light and ethereal voice works with the signature dark subs and the Bassnectar subs are always heavy.

Lights (Bassnectar Remix) - Ellie Goulding

and speaking of Bassnectar, well, I was never a big Metallica fan but damn...
Seek and Destroy (Bassnectar Remix) - Metallica

By the way, here's a leak from Alexander Ebert of Ima Robot & Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros fame's debut solo, Million Years. Some typical Ebert fun mood and folky soundscape. That's not a diss though, he sticks with a formula that's working for him, as long as he doesn't over does it he still seems to be on a roll.
Million Years - Alexander Ebert

Abstract Beats TV

I made a post about him a few weeks ago, but I'm going to write another. My man Abstract's prolific catalog is worth a look and he's trying to make moves, big moves. Unfortunately the music industry is different these days, and people don't get signed on the potential to make money in the future, they get signed if they make money immediately. Small artists with small fan bases don't get signed. So help out Abstract, spread the word, make Abstract a known name in the music world. He's got the talent, he just needs fans to back him up. Tell people, tell everyone, especially people with connects. Abstract, the real thing, peace.

Abstract Beats TV

Bet This Doesn't Come to Mind When You Think Black Eyed Peas

Before the Black Eyed Peas become in intolerable pop standard group that they are today, they were a hip hop group completely indebted to the Native Tongues movement. Back then they were less concerned by dollar bills, Billboard charts and such, following the path of positive vibes and jazz tinged beats instead. This was pre-Fergie as well. So can we blame Fergie for aiding in the destruction of real rap in the mainstream? Probably, at least a little bit.

Karma - Black Eyed Peas

Joints & Jams - Black Eyed Peas


Two Great Bands to Enhance Snow Day Relaxation.

7ft. Soundsystem

I work for a direct-to-fan music platform that provides artists with the opportunity to bypass major labels and other features of the conventional music industry in order to take control of their business and really access their fans. I was checking out some hot bands on our roster and found these guys, 7ft. Soundsystem. They provide a great combination of reggae and electronic sounds with a constant and heavy sub bass humming through each songs. The digital dub music duo creates some really cool and relaxed vibes, check them out.

Of God and Science

While I'm on the subject of bands found through my company heres another one to check it while you're at it. Of God and Science, a great folk/rock group. Banjos, pianos and acoustic guitars flourish in their soundscapes topped with melodic vocals and a good amount of vocal harmonies. Both bands are worth the time, a guarantee, trust me.

Late Night Playlist + New Wiz Khalifa Track, No Not Rollin Up

Late night playlist time. I'm spending my night on Hypem tonight so I figured I'd make a solid playlist instead of 12,000 posts. So here it is, the late night, here comes February mixtape.

Limit to Your Love - James Blake
A track off UK ambient electronic composer James Blake's eponymous debut. This is a striking track that alternates between sections of piano ballad type music and chorus dominated by a heavy wobbling sub bass.

Days ft. Romy Madley Croft - Creep (Deadboy Remix)
Next is the Deadboy remix of the eerie Days by Creep, featuring the always pleasant and ethereal Romy Madley Croft of The xx.

Devils - Say Hi
Say Hi, formed by Eric Elbogen, is usually known for Elbogen's soft mumbled vocals and quiet guitar. He is best known for mumbling through emotional and quirky lovelorn songs but the single of his latest album Um, Uh Oh is a significant departure from his sound. It seems as if he's taken a que from Modest Mouse almost. I like the way it sounds though and I'm a fan of the change.

Young Folks (Peter Bjorn and John Remix) - Kanye West
Kanye also went with a departure from his more recent sounds for this song. A Plain Pat produced reworked version of Young Folks by Peter Bjorn and John. Good Stuff.

Empire Ants (Miami Horror Remix) - Gorillaz
The Miami Horror remix of Empire Ants by the Gorillaz has a great house sound to it and a banging bass. A great dance track that carries with a solid upbeat vibe.

D.A.N.C.E (Eli & Diplo Remix) - Justice
The Eli & Diplo Remix of the classic track D.A.N.C.E. by Justice features a great funky bassline that really adds to the disco feel and drives it in a more old school direction. Diplo has a magic touch and any track with his name attached deserves attention.

On My Level - Wiz Khalifa
I wasn't a fan of Wiz's single Rollin Up, but he definitely makes up for that unpleasant anomaly with this song. A great minimalist beat that's a departure from Wiz's more recent mixtapes. This brings me back to the Show and Prove stuff he used to do.


Gorillaz Play Crystallized by The xx at BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge

The Gorillaz covered Crystallized by The xx to an interesting effect. It's very hard to recreate the sound The xx have sculpted in their wonderful debut, but the Gorillaz put forth a valiant effort and it turned out pretty cool. The vocals don't work as well as in the original. Damon Albarn's voice lacks the cherub and haunting quality of Romy Madley Croft. They also slowed the song down noticeably. If I had to choose one or the other, I'd choose The xx, but I'm not trying to knock the Gorillaz at all. They made a great attempt at covering the song, and it is good, it just doesn't carry the same mood. Unfortunately for the Gorillaz, mood and atmosphere are two crucial components in the sound The xx have cultivated.

Fleet Foxes First Single, "Helplessness Blues", Shows the World is in Store for Another Successful Fleet Foxes Record

Helplessness Blues celebrates the repetitive aspects of human nature. Singer Robin Peckhold declares that although he was raised to think he was unique and different, he is comfortable with being just a cog in the machine. He is finding comfort in the fact that he is simply a human being. Now this celebration of normalcy is coming from Fleet Foxes, who are following up their highly successful and critically acclaimed second album, Sun Giant. The song seems split into two parts, initially powered by the fast paced strum of of acoustic guitar chords, which later give way to the rhythm section, along with a less prominent, guitar pedal laden guitar. A comforting and masterfully put together example of folk as well as an interesting song lyrically. Peckhold ends the song with the simple line, "Someday I'll be like the man on the screen." Well Mr. Peckhold, you may not be the man on the screen, but you are the man who is soon to be on the radio and all over iTunes yet again. What Fleet Foxes gets out of their music is derivative of what they put in, pure talent.

Right Click to Download: Helplessness Blues - Fleet Foxes

Check in with Billboard to see where I stole the above picture from, read more about the upcoming release and peep some Fleet Foxes tour dates.


Dancing Hats

Put on your dancing hat...

Questlove Discusses his Influences

I just saw a pretty cool tweet from Questlove, on long twit, or something like that. I've never heard of the website but apparently its for long tweets. Anyway, it was him describing the two biggest influences on his drumming style, the drumming of Stevie Wonder and Prince. Yeah, not people known for their drumming, but check out his explanation. Obviously, as the drummer for the Roots, he's a musician who knows his stuff and he name drops a few great tracks as examples of Stevie Wonder and Prince's individual drumming styles.

Love Having You Around - Stevie Wonder

Irresistible Bitch - Prince


Tidbits from Africa

So I'm taking this comparative culture class called "Music of Africa" this semester, and it's the perfect blend of music and anthropology. It's right up my alley because I love to study different cultures, and Africa is as diverse as it gets. I'm not exactly well-versed in the technical aspects of music yet, but I'm soaking up as much knowledge as I can. I’ve learned that a major component of traditional African music is polyrhythm, which has multiple rhythms playing over one another. Sometimes polyrhythm becomes so complex that the music blends, and the untrained ear can’t tell one part from another. This can make African music sound chaotic to Westerners, even though each song’s polyrhythm has a specific organization.

The song I have for you here comes from Ghana and is called “Postal Workers Canceling Stamps.” I suppose calling it a song is misleading, because it is simply Ghanaian postal workers slapping and sliding envelopes, posting stamps, clicking scissors and whistling while they work. This is an example of a “song” that was not created for artistic merit or entertainment, but to accompany the men while they work. They create rhythms and whistle hymns that go along with the pace of their arduous work to make the time go by faster. The tune that they create incorporates polyrhythm as well. See if you can selectively listen and differentiate the parts from one another. The light-sounding thud you hear is a letter being slapped rhythmically several times to bring it to table where it is to be canceled, the lowest, most resonant sound is the marker being inked and the highest-pitched sound is the metal stamp at work.

I’ll post more tidbits if I get introduced to any more note-worthy African music, which I probably will. So stay tuned.


DJ Abstract, Long Island Producer/DJ, Drops Yet Another Ill Track

It takes years of hard work to create music of significance usually. Although you may see a debut album thats a masterpiece, like Nas or Jay-Z, it took years before Illmatic and Reasonable Doubt for both artists to hone their skills. Everyone probably knows someone musically inclined, who's working towards that golden record, the one that will if not send them to the top, at least get them in the door. Some of these people are amazing, some suck. I'm here to focus on the former of course.

Falling (Feels Like I'm) - DJ Abstract

Need I do more then place that video in this song? This is Danny Maurasse. I might be breaking a cardinal rule in journalism by writing about someone I know, writing with a bias, but this is a blog, so who cares. Abstract needs to be heard,  I've been listening to the beats he's been churning out on a regular basis for years. He's not only talented, but a prolific producer who spends hours upon hours perfecting beats and honing his style. Talent, and hardwork, here is someone who deserves to get somewhere. The vocal sample is chopped and rearranged perfectly throughout the entire song in order to create a catchy loop that will be playing on repeat in your head all day. After a one minute modulated, atmospheric intro, the beat drops with stuttering kicks, claps and vocal loops. Over the vocal loops pitched up sitars and guitars strum to an ethereal effect. Everytime he puts out a beat, I'm beyond impressed and I think wow, this is the beat, this is insane, then a month or so later he hits me with another and I think the same thing all over again. Also half of Long Island rap group Dope  Tendencies, Danny, DJ Abstract, is heading in the right direction. He's developed a recognizable style and is constantly evolving as a producer and DJ. Not only does he make beats, but he DJs parties as well. Abstract has everything, and he's only getting better. He's another hardworking DJ in a musical world where anyone can make a song, even me, but Abstract is set aside from most of those other DJs because of the work and talent he puts into every song. Its time people really start spreading the word about him, in order to get him where he deserves to be. 


Creator of Glee has Harsh Words for Kings of Leon and Slash

Glee Creator Ryan Murphy with the Cast of Glee

So incase you haven't heard, the Glee creator Ryan Murphy pretty much cursed out Kings of Leon, and called Slash an uneducated idiot today. Both bands refused to allow Glee to use their music, Kings of Leon because of over-promotion and Slash because he simply hates the show. So, because of this Murphy feels the need to go out and publicly criticize and curse at these musicians? That just doesn't seem right to me. Glee fans might come to Murphy's defense, who in a tirade peppered with several curses said that the purpose of Glee was to inspire young children to take part in music. Why can't a kid be just as inspired to make music by watching Kings of Leon or Slash play, as when they watch Glee. Murphy stated that the show is meant to inspire kids to realize that they to can be singers, but not everyone is a born singer. Some people play drums, others guitar, whatever. What if those people feel more inspired by bands then TV, does Murphy feel the need to publicly insult them as well? Just because someone turns you down does not make them a group of fuckers, or an uneducated idiot as Ryan Murphy seems to think. Nathan Followill, the drummer of the band stated on his twitter "Dear Ryan Murphy, let it go. See a therapist, get a manicure, buy a new bra. Zip your lip and focus on educating 7yr olds how to say f---.". Obviously, I'm with the Followill family and Slash on this. Calm down Ryan Murphy, just cause your show is a hit for some strange reason, does not mean that everyone has to let you use their music.

Knocked Up - Kings of Leon

Neither Can I - Slash

Diplo, Tiesto, Busta Rhymes Record a Song to be Featured on Jersey Shore

Busta Rhymes has been coming up huge lately; he delivered in a way only he could on Chris Brown’s Look at Me Now. Now he has a song with Diplo and Tiesto called C’mon (Catch ‘Em by Surprise). Busta does what he always does in this new club anthem, delivering yet another fast, fluid verse characterized by Busta Rhymes’ idiosyncratic flow. As for the beat behind the Busta, it sounds highly Tiesto. The heavy, pumping bass and dirty synths roaring over the song are heavily representative of the sound Tiesto has come to represent over the years. This gives me the feeling Diplo was around in order to help better adapt the track to Busta’s flow, given his extensive experience working with rappers. Not the most original or groundbreaking of tracks, but there’s no doubt in my mind it can easily be worked into any rave/club playlist seamlessly. Who can actually turn down a combination of Busta Rhymes, Tiesto and Diplo anyway? 

Plus, the song will be featured on Jersey Shore, as confirmed by Diplo himself on his twitter. 

Reclusive Neutral Milk Hotel Frontman Jeff Mangum to Play a New Jersey Festival Next September

Jeff Mangum

In 1998 an album that, in all likelihood, changed the face of indie music forever, was released. The mind behind the music was that of Jeff Mangum. His stream of consciousness lyrical flow and lo-fi recording process melded together seamlessly in order to create In an Aeroplane Over the Sea, an album dedicated to the memory of Anne Frank. For the past decade the notoriously private frontman has made very few public appearances. He has rarely set foot on a stage, or released new material since the late 90s. Despite his agoraphobic tendencies in relation to his fans, Neutral Milk Hotel, the band fronted by Mangum, has developed a cult following over the past decade. The combination of unorthodox instruments, swirls of light distortion over his acoustic, folkie style, and stream of cryptic, yet stunning lyrics has created fans across the universe of music.

Mangum with members of Neutral Milk Hotel
After a decade of mystery, Mangum is stepping into the spotlight again. He has signed on to play the first day of the three-day-long I’ll Be Your Mirror festival in Asbury Park, NJ, on September 30th. The event is to be helmed by Portishead as well as All Tomorrow’s Parties. Audience members however, will need to have a three day pass in order to see Mangum’s solo set at the festival. A few days after the I’ll Be Your Mirror festival he will be playing a non-festival solo show at Paramount Theater, also in Asbury Park. If you happen to be in the area next September, and you’re looking for something to do, check out Jeff Mangum, you won’t be disappointed. 

Oh Comely is without a doubt one of the most perfectly orchestrated pieces of music I've had the pleasure of hearing in my lifetime. Lyrically it is a masterpiece. In terms of the instruments, the movements transition beautifully and the horn solo comes with such a sad, yet royal touch, like a hue of purple pouring out over the soft guitar and Mangum's voice ranging from quiet and shaky to harsh yells. 

Here is an example of Neutral Milk Hotel before In an Aeroplane Over the Sea, as well as a great example of Mangum's use of distortion in folk. 

Funk, Rap, Nu-Metal, Fred Durst, Incubus and Hoobastank, All in One

There is one band that brings a consistent evolutionary quality to the composition of their music from album to album. They have gone from a California nu-metal band to a world famous, platinum selling household name of a band, Incubus. Like Incubus, many bands took to the whole nu-metal, and funk metal scene, combining rap with bits of funk and metal to create, for the most part, some pretty horrid music. Korn came from that scene, so did Limp Bizkit. To put it this way, at one point an army of sound-alike bands, Incubus included, was represented by Fred Durst.

Incubus was different though, and so was another band, Hoobastank. Yes, Hoobastank. The two bands toured together in their early years, Doug Robb's voice even had an uncanny similarity to Brandon Boyd's back in the day, although vocally they would head different directions over the years. Eventually Incubus grew up into an intelligent metal band, and as they gathered sounds from all over the spectrum, created a sound all their own, separate of metal, funk, and rap, although inspired by them all. Hoobastank landed a record deal, and were told to drop the saxophonist and lose the ska sound -- one of the major differences between early Hoobastank and early Incubus -- and thus became who they are today. Incubus has evolved into one of my all time favorite bands, if not then the all time favorite band. Hoobastank, not so much. I do however, always enjoy revisiting the early days of both bands. And incase you hadn't picked up on it yet, the same scene that produced Hoobastank and Incubus, Red Hot Chili Peppers too, although a couple years earlier.

For an example of Incubus' first demo, Closet Cultivation Demo Tape, check this link out:
Pillow Your Eyes - Incubus
That led too this, Take Me To Your Leader, a great example of Brandon Boyd's percussion skills.
Check Boyd's dreads, this is when they got the turntables in their as well, played by DJ Kilmore.

next up, they turned up the metal: New Skin - Incubus

Then came Make Your Self, which contained a few hits, namely Drive. After that, Morning View. Morning View is probably their most widely known album, besides maybe their more recent stuff. They've come out with more since then, including my favorite, A Crow Left of the Murder. They also released a greatest hits, Monuments and Melodys. The guitarist Mike Einziger actually went back to school around the same time they were putting together and releasing that greatest hits. He now has a music degree from Harvard. I am always anxiously awaiting their next move, but for now, I'm satisfied with perusing their catalog from the early rapidly spit raps of Boyd, to their more recent stuff, like Midnight Swim

and as for early Hoobastank, I'm a fan, but you be the judge...


Get Through That Morning with Young the Giant

The mornings crawling by, and snows falling, and I'm getting ready for the long commute to work, hoping music will bring me over the depressing horizon brought on by lack of sleep, and below freezing weather. This morning, after a brief bout of Sublime, I have left this task up to Young the Giant. I love a good hook in the morning, to latch on to, something to take with me into then day in order to give me that little boost. My musical caffeine. Young the Giant can do just that for me, always with a catchy hook to throw down, I can listen to I Got over, and over and over and over again. I Got is perfect for those dull mornings, where all you need is that extra little boost. When you need that musical goodness in the morning like nicotine in your veins, allow Young the Giant to warm you up, I promise you won't be disappointed.

I Got - Young the Giant
My Body - Young the Giant

I Got  - Young the Giant
Rock is dying but its not dead yet....


Lessons from J Dilla

J Dilla is a legendary figure in music, known for his unique beats, and occasional raps, he worked with some of the most talented names in music and is respected throughout the music community. Although slow to rise, he had begun working with some very big names in rap at the time of his tragic death in 2006, from the blood disease TTP. As his career was peaking he had been working with some pretty famous names in hip-hop such as Busta Rhymes, Common, A Tribe Called Quest and Pharcyde. He crafted some memorable beats, some of the more original, and more beautifully put together beats. His had the ability to turn the beat into something more. On the occassion where there is a rapper gracing Dilla's tracks, the raps often fall into the position of pacing the track or falling into an instrumental, positive effect on the music. But the focus is not the rapper, the focus is Dilla and the captivating efforts he put forth. Currently I'm listening to The Shining, which was only 75% completed at the time of Dilla's death. He literally lived for music and spent his dying days in the hospital bed on a laptop, always creating. The final album released while he was still alive, Donuts, was released on his 32nd birthday, three days before he died. The Shining features the likes of Common, Busta Rhymes and Black Thought among others. Busta Rhymes was one of Dilla's biggest supporters. The album was finished by Karriem Riggins; an instrumental version was released as well. Dilla is an inspirational person, someone who lived for what he loved. Not rich at the time of his death, he died doing what he loved. How could you not respect a person like that?

Love Jones - J Dilla

Geek Down ft. Busta Rhymes - J Dilla

Body Movin' - J Dilla


One of the Best Mixtapes I've Heard in a While

Yet another post, I’ve been very busy catching up with tunegrape lately, I’ve been exceptionally slow on posting over the past few days. Today has been a day of musical discovery and introspection at work though, so of course the logical effect of that is a flow of posts on tunegrape. I just found this mixtape on DatPiff and it starts out with a tribute to Guru, which is always a plus. Statik Selektah brings it immediately with a production style highly influenced by Dj Premier. The combined sound of production and Guru shout outs is evidence enough that these guys are dedicated disciples of Gangstarr. The landscapes of the beats are characterized by sampled vocals, scratches and wonderful instrumental samples. Statik Selktah took Premier’s style and threw his own twist on it, sprinkling a little bit of Boston into Premier’s Brooklyn based, child of acid-jazz-esque style. Frank the Butcher makes a point to acknowledge hip-hop bringing together Boston and New York.  Frank the Butcher has a well-put together flow and is lyrically advanced. He brings some thought and social commentary to his lyricism, something which I am always a fan of. I’m still on my first listen, a few tracks in, but as each song goes by I am convinced more and more that this is one of the best mixtapes I have heard in a long time. 

As Close to Nirvana as a Band Will Ever Be Today...

David Grohl during his time as a drummer with Nirvana, he would eventually take up the guitar and become lead singer of the Foo Fighters.

Rock music is slowly crumbling within the mainstream, as albums give way to singles and guitars give way to DAW software and MIDI replications. However, generation after generation as rock has been diving headfirst into the underground, seemingly about to leave the mainstream for good, something comes along that brings it right back to the top. I’m not saying the Foo Fighters are that band, but they surely are one of the few remaining bands proudly carrying the torch of rock and roll in mainstream music. Like I said in my previous post, destruction breeds creation. When Kurt Cobain was shot – by himself or by some Courtney Love hired hitman is besides the point – the path was paved for David Grohl to carry on the torch of Nirvanas brand of music. Over the years Grohl has streamlined the sound, giving it more pop appeal and basic rock foundation, the music is less raw, less pure aggression, but still basically good rock music in the end.
The Foo Fighters have an upcoming release in store and have recently released a 30 second clip of their first single, “Bridge Burning”, on their website. Not only has Foo Fighters released their next single, but they are as close to Nirvana as they have ever been. Butch Vig, the producer of Nirvana’s iconic Nevermind, is behind the Foo Fighters’ upcoming untitled album as well. Krist Novoselic, former bassist of Nirvana who seemed to drop off the planet for the most part after Cobain’s death, is contributing bass and accordion to the album. Finally Pat Smear, the touring guitarist for Nirvana and member of the legendary punk group, as well as one of my all time favorites, the Germs, has rejoined the Foo Fighters’ as a guitarist. Almost Nirvana’s entire touring and production line-up from the Nevermind era is behind the next Foo Fighters album. Can’t help but be excited? 

A Nevermind product of Grohl, Novoselic and Cobain...

Breed (Live) - Nirvana

This is a Call - Foo Fighters

The Pros of Pop Music Probably Outweigh the Cons in the End

In an age where pop has become a manufactured commodity, and more of a product then a form of art, it is refreshing to see that an artistic spark still exists within pop music, through bands such as folk-pop group She & Him.  Pop music has made a bad name for itself after allowing years of tweaking by major labels and a revenue-centric flow of singles.  In reality though, in a genre ruled by the likes of Lady Gaga, the Black Eyed Peas and Justin Bieber, there is talent to be found. Pop is a widespread genre of music, and many artists have woven the pop appeal into their own sounds to create catchy, yet original songs. Blink-182, for example, was never a band based on musical talent. Sure, Travis Barker is a well-studied and talented drummer in his own right, but surely not the best. What Blink-182 had was an uncanny ability to write pop hooks. Rivers Cuomo of Weezer has a binder filled with hundreds of detailed pages, outlining the qualities and similarities of his favorite pop songs, in an effort to create a pop-music-writing guide. Destruction breeds creation, and the barren wasteland that is mainstream pop music is dotted by many oasis’s brimming with talent.
She & Him

So what brought about this urge to come to the defense of the pop genre? Well, like I mentioned before, one of those talented pop bands that should replace the Biebs on the top of the charts is She & Him. She & Him consists of the instrumental talents of M Ward and the graceful and innocent voice of Zooey Deschanel. I first hear the vocal talents of Deschanel in the movie Elf, where I was blown away by her voice. When I heard she was forming a group with M Ward I immediately jumped on the idea, but forgot about it pretty soon after. Over the years I have acquired a few She & Him tunes and one of their more recent ones, Don’t Look Back, has once again caught my attention.
The song is bright and poppy, overflowing with Beach Boys-esque vocal harmonizations, bubbly piano, a light touch of guitar. If you could capture the fun of a childhood summer and turn it into instrumentation, it might sound like something similar to Don’t Look Back. Deschanel’s voice tops it all off perfectly, like tires on a car she drives this song forward until the end with her irresistible voice.


Chill Beats and Reggae Flows are the Ingredients

AmpLive is a DJ to know. Half of the group Zion I, as well as of Radiohead-Remix-Controversy fame, he has carved out a niche for himself marked by cool synths, futuristic sounds and lasers and chilled out vibes. He was almost sued by Radiohead's former label after remixing a few tracks from the band, but Radiohead, who had recently released their album on the name your own price price scheme, as well as several internet groups, interfered and gave AmpLive permission to remix away. He brings a jazzy vibe to a futuristic array of synths and sound effects and can smoothly transition from one genre to another throughout Zion I's albums. I just heard his remix of the Rebelution song, Safe and Sound, and it was more then enough to convince me to swing my mouse over to tunegrape.  Here is a little review of AmpLive's career highlights in music...


Ryan Leslie: The Man, The Myth, The Legend

Just when you thought that Ivy League schools are cookie-cutter factories where creativity goes to die, out pops Ryan Leslie.  Leslie is a self-taught singer/songwriter/producer from Harlem, N.Y., who graduated from Harvard University in 1998.  He has worked with a slew of artists including Britney Spears, P. Diddy and Beyonce, and even has a few albums out himself.  Of all the musical hats he wears, his producer hat is the most embellished.  He has a natural ear for Pop and R&B, loves the synth and often lends his own voice for hooks or harmonizing.  He has what I like to call the “P. Diddy Syndrome” of producers singing on songs.  But unlike Diddy’s occasional grunts of “Aw…yeah…uh-huh,” Leslie has a smooth singing voice that fits with each track.  You’ll probably recognize his work on Cassie’s “Me & U,” or more recently on Fabulous’ “You Be Killin’ ‘Em.”
Cassie - "Me & U"

Fabolous - "You Be Killin' 'Em"

What is as equally impressive as his producing skills is the way in which he manipulates technology and entertainment to promote himself and others.  The man’s a genius when it comes to social media.  He created his own music-media company called NextSelection Lifestyle, and pioneered the whole artist-making-it-big-via-the-internet phenomena.  He used this method to launch singer Cassie’s career through music video blogs, and that exposure catapulted her single “Me & U” to the number 3 spot on the Billboard Top 100.  Like I said before, the man’s a master manipulator of media.  I probably wouldn’t even know who he was if it weren’t for these YouTube videos of him working his magic:

Ryan Leslie makes “Addition” 

Ryan Leslie Improvises Over "Lollipop" by Lil Wayne 

Just in case you were wondering, those two videos alone have over 5 million views total.  Makes it kind of hard for hip-hop fans to not know who he is, don’t it?  If you go to his website you can see a bunch of in-studio videos like the ones you just saw.  I also read on there that he recently was a panelist for some entertainment and technology summit in Washington, D.C.  He can be booked for lectures, too.  So my question is – when is Leslie coming to Northeastern?

By Courtney Flynn


Smells Like Teen Spirit, Completely Reworked the Right Way

Check this song out, a dreamy rework of Smells Like Teen Spirit by J*DaVeY. This may sound like some kind of grunge blasphemy but I think this song is comparable to the original. The way the decided to approach this cover is interesting, I find it really catchy and appealing. Definitely the right way for them to have done this.

A Diplo Classic

Diplo can turn any song into an anthem, between Major Lazer and his solo work he has created some of the most captivating and impressive music of the past couple years.

I recently heard what I consider to be a masterpiece within his collection, his remix of California Soul by Marlena Shaw. The lad back, atmospheric beat is perfectly put together by Diplo.

Also here is an absolutely dirty mashup of Bloody Beetroots and Lil Wayne...