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