My favorite hop hip group and THE greatest hip hop group EVER played Fun Fun Fun Fest. Public Enemy flattened everyone. The fact that 21 years after it’s release, hearing “Fight the Power” can still make me want to break everything in the room speaks to the staying power of the group and the sentiment of the song itself. Amazing. I hope I can see them one day. Check out “Fight the Power”, which should be Occupy Wall Street’s theme song.
One of the highlights of Fun Fun Fun Fest for me was seeing that “too awesome and before their time” band Hum was playing. Going on before Slayer of all acts. The band smashed through their more well known songs, including their hit, Stars. The band seemed nervous while they played, but played a solid set. I can only hope that Hum stay around and maybe records another record. Just to show these bands with the tight pants how they used to rock. Check out “Stars” and “I’d Like Your Hair Long”
Odd Future was one of the acts I wanted to see live this year, but I couldn’t get it together to see them when they came through Ohio. So watching at Fun Fun Fun Fest, I’m almost glad I didn’t go. To say that it was wild was an understatement. What did surprise me was the fact that group leader, Tyler, The Creator didn’t have that many songs in the set, leaving open the opportunity for the whole crew to shine. Mike G, the most laid back of the group stole the show with his complete ease on the stage as he dropped his rhymes. Hodgy Beats also had a pretty strong showing, preforming songs from MellowHype and an unreleased track with Domo Genesis. Sure, in an environment like this, things can get out of hand. Like when whoever hit Tyler with a water bottle, the stage emptied looking for the offender. Those things seem to happen at an Odd future show. Lucky, there wasn’t too much of that going on. At the end of the set, OF beckoned fans to jump the guardrails and join them on stage. It’s what I effectively called “Shit getting extra real” for a minute. The best part of the set? Tyler thanking the crowd for coming to see them instead of seeing Slayer. (Who were playing on other stage at the same time) He seemed very appreciative about it and talked about how Slayer was “over there killing it and you guys came to see us? Thank you.”
Odd Future live proves that hip hop has gotten a very, VERY different look in 2011. You can’t just dismiss rappers as a whole as drug dealing, bottle popping ego maniacs. Punk rock energy infused with beats and swag.
Last weekend, I stumbled on a big festivals show called Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, TX. It was one of those shows where a good handful of bands and artists I like were playing. And thanks to Pitchfork.com streaming the whole show for the most part, (the fiber optics cables for two of the stages got destroyed overnight on Saturday) I got to see almost the whole show. On Sunday, Del the Funky Homosapien rocked the stage. I’ve been a big fan for years and it was cool to see him after years of playing the tapes and CDs. Check out Del rocking “Virus” and “Mistadobalina” from his Deltron 3030 and I Wish My Brother George Was Here LPs.
In this internet-based world I live in, it’s easy to stumble into new music and artists via the various outlets available on the world wide web. (Wow. Seems like forever ago since we used to use that term.) One of the new artists that I found through such outlets is the Canadian jazz/fusion trio, Bad Bad Not Good.
Like a lot of people, I first heard of BBNG from their video on YouTube, covering a number of songs from Tyler, the Creator’s album, Bastard. I have always liked jazz, but felt overwhelmed by the sub-genres and the fact that the genre doesn’t lend well to having a “starting place” or a “jumping on point”. My dad loves jazz and I’ve tried to get some pointers from him and I often browse Wikipedia, but I still have a hard time with the misstress that is jazz. BBNG broke out by covering songs by an artist I was already interested in. The drummer with the creepy pig mask didn’t hurt either. The music was pretty spot on, drifting off into the improv jazz field before bringing it back into the pocket was a sure fire way to hook hipsters, hip hoppers and new jazz listeners.
Since the Bastard medley video, BBNG have gotten a buzz from Tyler, the Creator himself as well as hip music sites like The Needle Drop and others, did another session of songs from Tyler’s Goblin album,released a self-titled EP with an awesome cover of Waka Flocka Flames'”Hard in the Paint” and now have a free mixtape album called “BBNG”. The record is expanding on with the trio have started on their earlier EP. Some original cuts, some covers (the medley of music from Zelda: Ocarina of Time is pretty choice) and freestyle jams is really interesting. The thing that I noticed most is that BBNG don’t shy away from non-standard jazz production and methods like using samples and drum synths. The combination of modern production and a three piece jazz backbone makes the listening experience very soothing, yet staying on your toes wondering what’s going to happen next.
“Fall in Love” sounds like could be a track that J Dilla produced. I could see Common spitting something on that track. The electric piano and use of synths though out the album really in the standout to me.
“Salmonella” and “Camel” are ill as hell and had me nodding my head while giving the screwface like I was listening to MF Doom. The drumming and bass playing by Alex Sowinski and Chester Hansen respectively is the steady line that lets pianist, Matthew A. Tavares, go buck wild all over this record. If a young person were to wonder where to start with the wide world off jazz, why not start with people playing songs they might already know?
I can only hope to catch this cats at some point. I know how it is to make music and not really have a way to tour, so I’m at the very least hoping for some new videos of these guys playing to pop up on their YouTube channel soon. I really enjoy the “BBNG” mixtape and their take on some modern songs that have come out recently. Check them out. If nothing else, you can impress your friends and potential mates with Bad Bad Not Good when they pop up in your iPod/iTunes playlist. You can look smooth as you say “yeah. I’m into jazz. Didn’t you know?”
If you follow me on Twitter or know me personally, I really enjoy hip hop but am fairly unimpressed with the direction its been going in over the last 10 years or so. Maybe it’s the fact that rap music is marketed mainstreamly to the youth and doesn’t really cultivate artists to grow. What ends up happening is that rappers come out, get hot for a few weeks/months and are gone. The subject matter of mainstream rappers is wholly boring to me. Bitches, swag, chains, “oh whoa is me, I’m famous” and all the “I’m richer than you” bullshit isn’t interesting to me personally. So when rap artists come out doing, saying and acting differently from everything on the radio, then I sit up and take notice. This year has brought me Thug Friends, Odd Future, Adam WarRock and others that really had an pretty profound effect on me and my outlook on rap in general. One group that really effected me was Death Grips, featuring Zack Hill from the band Hella.
What drew me to Death Grips was searching for Odd Future videos on YouTube (the MTV for this generation) and found the video for the song “Guillotine” and a review of the record on The Needle Drop music blog. The video was the lowest of low budget videos, yet fit in with the hostile, manic tone of the song and the whole record. I have to admit that this song scared the shit out of me as well, and it’s been a while since any band or group made me feel anything like that before. The late time was when I first heard “Calculating Infinity” by The Dillinger Escape Plan. Their free mixtape album, Ex-Military, is a stunning wake-up call to anyone that has only listened to whatever is the hot artist on the radio at the moment. I relish the idea that a Lil Wayne fan would, somehow, stumble on to the Ex-Military album and get their mind ended by the first song.
Even some of the more subdued moments on the record are hart hitting. “Known For It” on its face is a pretty amazing song, with its light, yet heavily effected keyboard synth line running through the song and its driving, distorted bassline. “Spread Eagle Cross the Block” uses a Link Wray sample (!?!) and still remains funky as hell. “Takyon (Death Yon)” plods and stomps, while the vocals beat you over the head. The aggression in the delivery is what puts it over the top for me. The vocals just steamroll over you when you listen to the songs. Rap music isn’t doing that at all for me. Watch the Throne, with all its production savy, doesn’t exude anywhere close to the emotion and urgency as Death Grips does. Check it out for yourself. It’s free. Word to DJs, producers and remixers, Death Grips have released instrumentals and acappella tracks from the record for mashups with Jay-Z’s “The Black Album” to flood YouTube and music blogs. Check them out at ThirdWorlds.net