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