Monday, October 31, 2005

Is It Really Alternative When They Have Platinum Bands On Their Covers?

Fellow SPU alumnus/Washington Literacy cohort, Joel Hartse, wrote this statistically interesting, if not accurate, overview of "Alternative Press" magazine. Joel and I worked together for a bit and during that time, it was clear that we had some similar musical interests and others that were vastly different. I still hung onto the pop-punk bands that made high school bareable and Joel allowed his musical tastes to evolve. We exchanged musings on popular culture and some of the bands he let me in on are now favorites of mine. Our rapport during the summer of 2002 is easily one of my favorite memories from the SPU days.

Which brings me back to his take on Alt. Press. You'd think with my fanship of pop-punk, I'd disagree with Joel, but I have, without a shadow of a doubt, always hated this magazine. So I agree with Joel's insight into the rag. Not only is it explotative of "alternative" music, it's also one of the ugliest looking magazines that supposedly covers the indie scene. There are more ads in it than "Vice" and "Spin" and lately the photography on the covers have all looked the same. They're all menacing-looking pop-punk/screamo/extremo bands "vamped" with make-up and clothes baring the names of other bands or companies owned by their peers (see: Atticus, Clandestine, Level 42, etc.).

The thing I've found kind of funny about "Alternative Press" is that in the last 10 years, it has been far from alternative. In the November 2005 issue, of the bands they featured, seven are on major labels, six are on independent labels with major label distribution and promotion, and only one band has African-Americans in it (two to be exact). As far as the lack of women go, that's an issue that Jessica Hopper wrote about in "Punk Planet" a few years ago and I think her stance on it still holds water.

"Alternative Press" continues to be popular because they change with the times, and granted that's just good business, but you have to question their motivation and their devotion to indie music when a few years ago they had Limp Bizkit and Korn on their covers.

These trends continue on because most kids don't feel that they have a choice. Music fans in rural areas -- where they lack an independent bookstore and/or internet -- are not going to know that they don't have to listen to Fall Out Boy or that MTV isn't the ultimate pop music judge. As along as there are magazines such as "Alternative Press" to not break new bands, then there will always be a sect of brainwashed youth culture (i.e.

Related Links:
Ross Siegel interview on Paste Punk
Ryan's Lampoon of Vampire Bands
Wonka Vision Magazine
How To Be a Mallpunk

Friday, October 28, 2005

Hawking Punk for Ca$h

Various Artists
"Tony Hawk's American Wasteland Soundtrack"

Hydrox is the generic version of Oreos. They never taste as good, they aren't nearly as fattening as Oreos. People who buy Hydrox cookies are either too cheap or too stupid to tell the difference. "American Wasteland" is the "punk" version of Hydrox cookies -- it's not very good, nor is it satisfying.

This compilation has a bunch of young (i.e. marketable, popular, MTV-friendly) bands covering old punk standards, and for the most part, it all blows chunks.

Here are the good songs that you should download: "Ever Fallen In Love." That's it. Thursday is the only band that didn't manage to piss on the band that they were trying to cover.

Fall Out Boy's take on Gorilla Biscuits is sad. Walter should take a break from Walking Concert just to kick their asses for ruining a perfectly good song. In fact, that sentiment should be repeated for many of the bands. Emanuel's cover of The Stooges' "Search And Destroy" sucks; Taking Back Sunday adds girlish screams to two Descendents songs; and Saves The Day actually manages to destroy the Dead Boys' "Sonic Reducer" so badly that it sounds like an Nsync song.

Even bands who didn't completely fuck up their covers, like Hot Snakes, Thrice and The Bled, didn't do anything to raise the bar either. They sounded like karaoke versions of the songs they were trying to do. Who ever thought that Alkaline Trio could so be damn mediocre?

It's a pretty sad state of punk rock when these run-of-the-mill Hot Topic bands are completely shitting all over the politics and anything else these bands stood for. "American Wasteland" is a waste of plastic and Tony Hawk should be ashamed that his name is attached to this giant Hydrox cookie masquerading an Oreo.

Monday, October 24, 2005

On The Pharcyde Of Things...

Fat Lip
"The Loneliest Punk"
(Delicious Vinyl)

So almost seven years after Fat Lip's solo release was supposed to have originally come out and all I can write is "Meh." The beats are alright, Fat Lip sounds like, well, Fat Lip, but halfway through the album's first song, "Fat Leezy," it's apparent that listening to "The Loneliest Punk" is an uphill struggle.

Though once the most charasmatic member of The Pharcyde, Fat Lip stumbles when left to his own devices, giving us almost 20 tracks about sex and drugs. In "Labcabincalifornia," Fat Lip's zany rhymes were introspective and natural; in "Punk" he clearly wants to do the "emcee" thing and rap about generic topics. This would've made for a much more interesting record had he decided to (extensively) talk about why there was no Fat Lip for the better part of a decade.

Also without a straight man like Slim Kid Tre, or even Bootie Brown, Fat Lip seems all over the place and songs with promise such as "Freaky Pumps" (with fellow west coast castaways Volume 10 and Shock G) only look good on the tracklisting.

Hopefully this is just a bunch of filler material and Fat Lip has something better in store for the future, otherwise, we should all kiss the Pharcyde legacy goodbye.

Friday, October 21, 2005

the stars scar my ceiling

writer and professional living quote, jessica hopper, wrote this very informative piece about the suicide girls. if you've kept up with the site, most of the information has already been made public, but it's still a great read.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Tragedy Strikes Again!

Tragedy Khadafi
"Thug Matrix"
Fast Life/25 To Life

Tragedy has easily been in the rap game for 20 years, yet notoriety outside the underground seems to escape him. While many emcees who borrowed his street intellect style have gone on to platinum and gold plaques (Capone N Noregea, Nas, AZ, most members of The Wu), Tragedy has remained a small player and is only recognized by true heads and his peers, not unlike Kool G. Rap.

For his latest release, "Thug Matrix," Tragedy has probably made his most commercial album to date (and that includes 1996's "Thug Paradise"). Like the title, "Thug Matrix" as a whole seems to be a little on the outdated side. The flaccid obligatory club jam "On Grind" is something that Diddy and The Family would've put on "The Saga Continues," and the fact that Nature (The Firm) is on it doesn't help the cause.

"Straight Death" is equally boring. It's Tragedy's usual religious/drug rhymes but it's buried underneath a shitty beat and a lazy horn loop.

Those two songs aside, the rest of the songs are pretty good. Again, a little dated, but "The Game" and "Blinded By Science" are relatively strong tracks and signal that Havoc (Mobb Deep) still has some beats left in him. "No Equivalant" with Cormega is a Moog-driven banger; "Salute" leans a little more towards a Dre-style production, but it still maintains a rawness to it.

I wouldn't necessarily say that Tragedy is 10 years too late with this album, but he may be 10 years too late of getting that platinum plaque. "Thug Matrix" is still worthy of a spin or three.


Just recently, I processed a box of CDs from various hardcore labels, though mostly from Spook City Records and Facedown Records and it dawned on me that hardcore bands have the worst, trite, idiotic names in the entire of genre of popular music. This also includes Bay Area/Southern rap and country. Here's a list of some of the bands whose information I had to enter:

Blood In Blood Out (by the way, this is the name of a bad ass Mexican gang movie)
Blood For Blood
Nerve Gas Tragedy
Fight Night
Let It Die
Inked In Blood
xLooking Forwardx
Bloody Sunday

Those kids who made the "This Is You aka The Scene Sucks" videos were right to lampoon hardcore kids all along. Well, seriously intense hardcore kids anyway. The kind who don't listen to anything else but "RARRRRRWWWGGGGGG" (imagine that with a deep, Cookie Monster-esque growl) and really childish "breakdowns" which usually consist of open chord chugging.

Don't get me wrong, I like hardcore bands, but I've just heard so much of it that there should be something relatively unique about the way they play to really catch my attention. It seems that generic hardcore (such as the bands listed above) rely on the following:

1. Being straight edge (i.e. no boozin', druggin', and over sexin')
(I have a whole article I'm working on about this...coming soon)
1a. X'ing up their hands and/or names
2. Having a "crew."
3. Breakdowns (also known as "the chugging part")
4. Dancing/beating people up.
5. Having names that depict images of death, blood, destruction, betrayal, God (or G-D, for all my Hebrew peeps), Satan, children, irony, etc.

Yeah, pretty short list, so you can bet that stretched between the hundreds or thousands of hardcore bands out there, there isn't much to say anymore.

After finishing up that box of hardcore CDs, I thought that I should get in the business of selling hardcore bands their names, having been in a few generic sounding hardcore bands myself. Below I have a sample list of names that you may borrow if you wish:

Catcher In the Die
Blood Machine
Die Before Failure
Rotting Flesh Of The Son
Vultures Smell Blood
Bleed Your Wound
xI'll Never Drinkx
Corpse Like Romance
Kill You XXX
Bloody Sins
The Ghost Of The Priest
xBetrayal Huntersx

Hopefully by now you're either a) done laughing or b) done being angry. So here's a list of hardcore bands worth checking out:

Fall River
Since By Man
Darkest Hour
The Esoteric

Monday, October 17, 2005

2500 kids who watched "American Pie" are gonna be pretty bummed this year

A school in New York canceled prom. Huzzah!

I wish that such a thing happened in my high school before I made an ass out of myself and asked out the two girls who shot me down like Morris Chestnut in "Boyz N The Hood."

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

i only want sympathy in the form of you crawling into bed with me

Fall Out Boy
"Dance, Dance" video
(Island Def Jam)

I don't have cable, but if the internet was ever good for something, then it's becoming a hype machine for oversaturated products. Enter Fall Out Boy, a band whose quick rise to stardom, after spending years as an opening band, is something of mythic proportions. The clip for their new single "Dance, Dance" made me smile and cringe within the same context.

The first time I watched the video, I was entertained. It was shot well and poorly acted, as all music videos should be (are you reading, Andre 3000?). Later that evening, I played the video for my girlfriend and my cousin, both of whom showed very little interest in it, though they are Fall Out Boy fans. I paid a little more attention to the clip and here's my eight cents on it:

1. The acting is terrible, but more than anything, the whole high school thing is pretty stupid. Pete Wentz, Fall Out Boy's bassist and public relations mouthpiece, looks old. The dude is in his mid-20's but he looks like he's 30 in the video.

2. While the Revenge Of The Nerds homage was charming the first time around, it really pissed me off the second. This whole Napoleon Dynamite Geek Chic shit has gotta go. It's redundant as hell. You know what's cool? Videos where humans fight animals. This big budget video should have been Fall Out Boy playing in the Ozarks and then getting attacked by a bear. I would pay good money to see Pete try to swing his bass at a bear, then getting mauled like a mufucka.

3. Considering some of the lyrical content of "Dance, Dance," I don't think high school was an appropriate setting. With lines like "I only want sympathy in the form of you crawling into bed with me" and "Why don't you show me that little bit of spine you've been saving for his mattress," the high school thing should've been vetoed. Since FOB is rolling with Jay-Z now, they should've had an "In Da Club"-type of video. Except in my version, a Rocawear-clad Fall Out Boy beefs with some dudes wearing G-Unit clothes and they have a dance off in an alley like in Wyclef's "We Trying To Stay Alive" video.

Then someone gets capped.

4. The slow motion jumps were dumb looking and Pete licking Joe's guitar was also stupid. Hey man, the guy from Eighteen Visions did the licking bass/guitar thing in the "You Broke Like Glass" video three years ago.

5. While watching the video, it dawned on me that the average budget for a music video by a major label artist is around the $500,000 mark and since FOB are Jay-Z's new golden boys (take that, The Killers), their budget was probably slightly more. But, for the sake of argument, that the budget was half-a-mil, think about all the shit you could buy for that much money. A house. A car. Your own arcade. Fuck, they should've made a real punk video (a shitting looking video done at someone's house on a Hi-8 camcorder) and given the rest to the victims of Hurricane Katrina or the Pakistani earthquake. Or better yet do what the Dandy Warhols did: take that money and buy a warehouse and make a multimedia center where you can have band practice, a recording studio, and a place to live. Fuck, do I have to do all the thinking for you?

Anyway, the video as a video was alright. But if you want to watch a badass music video that's really punk, check out The Blackout Pact's video.

F.A.Q. (or Frikken Annoying Questionz):

With a little time on my hands, I decided to write some information about myself, Chasing Coolness, and some other miscellaneous things before you shoot me a message or just shoot me.

Q: What is "Chasing Coolness" exactly? Were you too stupid to come up with an original name? Why did you blatantly rip-off "Chasing Amy?"

A: Astute as some people are, the origin of the name came from the defunct show "Parker Lewis Can't Lose," where the title charcter was always saying "coolness." Originally, the site was made with a account and Microsoft Front Page. It was ugly and it was basically me talking shit about "webzines" that praised every hip thing under the sun. Eventually, I wanted to get back to doing a Halftime-styled site, but I lacked the time and design talent, so taking on a "blog" format seemed to work best.

Q: What the hell is Halftime?

A: Halftime Magazine is a zine I started in 2002 with my friends Demitrio and Danny. The idea was to do a good looking site, with a print counterpart, both of which would contain different content. Over time, some of my other friends got involved and we interviewed bands like Death Cab for Cutie, Brand New, the Revolutionary Hydra, John Vanderslice, Finch, My Chemical Romance, Rilo Kiley, Coheed and Cambria, and Everytime I Die before they became known on a mainstream level.

In the end, I was doing Halftime with my old roommate, Jiles, as I was finishing up my senior year at Seattle Pacific University and playing in a band. It proved to be too difficult to balance all those projects at once and Halftime gave out.

Q: Is "Jiles" the same "Jiles" from "The Cootees?"

A: Yes. Not that many people spell that name with a "J." But he does.

Q: Shut up! You didn't really play in a band with him, did you?

A: Yeah, I did. Download our music here and here. And while you're at it, download his solo stuff here.

Q: How long have you been writing and how did you get started?

A: I've been writing since I was two. I got started when I put crayon to paper and magical things happened. As far as taking on a journalism persona, my interest began in middle school when I wanted to write about hip-hop and comic books and it became what it is now when I was 15 and started writing for the Seattle Times' offshoot, Mirror.

Q: Why don't you put your e-mail address on the site or allow anonymous comments?

A: People who need to get ahold of me either a) already know my information or b) if they wanted to get in touch with me bad enough, they'll spare the five minutes it takes to create a Blogger user ID.

With anonymous comments, I should go by the old adage, "Don't dish it if you can't take it," but I just don't want to deal with a bunch of stupid ass kids who want to give me shit because I rag on Aiden and Victory Records so badly. If you don't like what I'm writing, then go to another site.

Q: Will you ever allow anonymous comments?

A: I consider it fairly often. Vivan Hua from Redefine thinks I should, and she's got a pretty good sense of perspective, so maybe someday when I don't feel like I'm going to get mauled by 14 year old faux goth kids, I'll allow comments.

Q: And why do you lampoon Aiden and Victory Records so much?

A: Aiden is a joke. There's absolutely no way that a band that is so closely related to an image aesthetic should be that big (re: signed). And Victory Records, Aiden's label, is proof that eventually punk rock ethics give way to making money. I guess it wouldn't be so bad if Tony Brummel didn't criticize major labels the way he does, yet refuses to recognize that his label is a part of that machine.

Q: How should I get started in writing?

A: I don't know. My experience was different from others, I'm sure, so it's up to you.

Q: Why don't you write for The Stranger?

A: I probably make fun of hipsters way too much for their taste. I don't care about "cool" or drugs or anything like that. I like what I like and that's that. One could assume that I have an old school ideal when it comes to editorials and such.

Q: You same to hate a lot of things, do you like anything?

A: I enjoy Aaron McGruder's "The Boondocks" (both comic and show), I love my daughter and my fiancee, and I'm currently taken with finding vegetarian recipes for Filipino and Chinese food.

Q: How can I get my link/CD reviewed/interviewed/lampooned on Chasing Coolness?

A: Message me.

Q: Are you part of the "blogger" world that seems to link up a bunch of famed music writers within the same universe?

A: Only in a roundabout way. The only person that I regularly reference and know personally is Joel, who is the mastermind behind "The Unscene." He's a better writer than I am.

Q: Don't you hate Pitchfork?

A: Not really. I guess I can say I disagree with some of the albums they give high ratings to, but isn't that the nature of the critic?

Q: What's your pet peeve as a writer?

A: I have several. Obvious grammatical errors, for one. And I hate it when MS Word won't recognize that I write in fragmented sentences. That's just who I am! I'm nobody's robot. I also dislike it when up-and-coming publications ask for "writers" and not "critics." When you get someone who is passionate about music, they're gonna be slightly opinionated.

Q: Since you are so opinionated, what is the greatest album of all time?

A: "Control" by Janet Jackson, though, I'm open to suggestions.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

kung fu records: being late on trends est. 1988

Versus The World
"Versus The World"
(Kung Fu)

When I heard that Tsunami Bomb broke up, I was the happiest boy. Alas, the loss of that shitty band, as well as the long time departure of The Ataris, has had Kung Fu putting less crap out into stores and focusing more on their occasionally pleasant "The Show Must Go Off" DVD series. But no more. Now we have Versus The World, a band that sounds like Finch. Exactly like fucking Finch. Who the fuck likes Finch? Finch hated themselves so much that they ripped off Mike Patton a whole bunch on their disaster of a sophomore album. Besides, there's been a metal band called Versus (Vs.) The World for, like, five years now. Anyway, Versus The World is a bullshit band and Kung Fu is, once again, a bullshit label. Better start trying to find those Ozma kids, Joe.

Monday, October 10, 2005

before the blackout? try again, allister

The Blackout Pact
"Hello Sailor"

There must be something in the water out there in Colorado because lately they've been spitting out these awesome bands like crazy: Fear Before the March of Flames, Love Me Destroyer, and now The Blackout Pact.

With a band that just looks so damn dirty it's easy to throw around buzz words like "edgy," "raw," and "ferocity" but they capture this energy that you don't really find in punk bands these days.

When you hear a _______ (insert Drive Thru/Victory/Vagrant/whatever shitty label is hot right now) band, it's usually polished and radio ready. Parents will allow their children to consume something that is without threat to the moral confines that they are raising their kids in. Even a band like My Chemical Romance recognizes that they are more pop than dangerous, as if you couldn't tell by just looking at them.

The Blackout Pact, however, is the real deal Holyfield. Combining the drunken swagger of the Murder City Devils and rocking aesthetic of Hot Water Music, the band's 10 tracks on their debut "Hello Sailor" (Astromagnetics), hits you like an Amtrak train of doom.

Songs like the listener-friendly "You Punch Me, I Punch You," the amusing "If You Dress Up Like Halloween, Ghouls Will Try And Get In Your Pants," and "We Drink So You Don't Have To," soak in a gumbo of major chords, gang vocals, and catchy melodies.

There are a ton of hardcore kids right now who are doing their part in reliving 1995 by forming these revitalist Lifetime/Kid Dynamite/Dan Yemin bands, but many of them barely succeed, if at all. The Blackout Pact easily takes that brand of music and does shots with it, until it's a sound of their own.

It's interesting to see a band capture a sound that isn't really associated with their city (they should probably have New Jersey to thank). Now I wish someone can get me some of that damn Denver tap water.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

review time with chasing coolness funtime theatre

[i lifted this idea from "toyfare magazine." that's what we call attribution.]

"Nightmare Anatomy"

Aiden: Hi! We're Aiden! We just made an album called "Nightmare Anatomy." It's full of ghoulish images like vampires, killing, drinking blood and doing the robot, because those things shock the system and that's what hardcore and punk rawk are all about! We also wear make up and wear lots of black because nobody has ever done those things before and kids are not sick of boys who wear something that is normally reserved for girls.

Victory: Hi, I'm Victory Records! I released the Aiden album because these days I'm all about making some of that cash money scrilla $$$$ ching ching, youknowhatimsayin? Ten years ago, I would release albums that carried messages and meant something to the hardcore community at large, but then I realized that I could cash in on the current screamo/pop-punk phenomena and buy a ridiculously large townhouse in Chicago. I can do this because almost all the bands on my label have their publishing rights assigned to me, so the only way they make money is to tour. And if they don't like it, I will make their lives hell, just ask Thursday, Hatebreed, or Taking Back Sunday. Even though I barely give the good bands on my current roster (Spitalfield, Bayside, Darkest Hour) any support, I will continue to shove cookie-cutter mediocre rock music like Aiden (or June and Hawthorne Heights) down your throats with painfully large and annoying stickers. If you love My Chemical Romance, Hawthorne Heights, Kanye West and Kelly Clarkson, Aiden is your new FAVORITE BAND!

Aiden: That's right, Victory, we're your new favorite band. Despite the fact that Victory gave us a budget we could work with, allowed us to record at good studios in Seattle and with one of the best producers in the northwest, we still managed to make 11 songs into one giant clusterfuck of an album. All of the drums in the songs sound the same and the off-time drum part in "Goodbye We're Falling Fast" sounds sloppy, as if Animal from the Muppets was behind the kit. Some of the guitar parts are cool, but then we went ahead and made most of the songs unbareable with WiL's [sic] painfully awful lyrics and lack of vocal range. But whatever, we still made the kind of album that we wanted, but more importantly, YOU will buy.

Aiden Fan 1 (Purple Hair): OMG! I loooooove Aiden! They are rebels without a pause! They are sooo rawk.

Aiden Fan 3 (Non-Purple Hair Girl): Yeah, I love them. They sing songs about killing people, but it's, like, a metaphor. They are killing the good in relationships because there are no good things about romance. So, like, just fucking kill it.

Aiden Fan 1: I used to listen to NFG and the Starting Line because I totally understood what they were going through. I mean, I know I graduated from high school four years ago, I still get the message. But then I heard Finch and it was, like, game over. I loooove Aiden cuz they know how to express themselves. They're just so different.

Aiden Fan 2 (Creepy Dude): They're not as gay as AFI, and they don't make me feel guilty because I also like the goth chicks who go to their shows. I guess I only like Aiden cuz my girlfriend does.

My Chemical Romance: Hi, we're My Chemical Romance and if you've never heard of us, then you suck. Aiden is obviously ripping us off. At least we had the decency to wait a few years until after Ink & Dagger was no more and 20 years after The Misfits' heyday with Glenn Danzig to bite their brand of undead punk rawk. Just because we play arenas and most of our fans now are 16 year old girls in the cheerleading squad and dude-bro jock guys doesn't give Aiden the right to steal our black-clad vampire-obsessed style. It's just not proper form. Fuck Aiden.

The Misfits (Circa 1980): Hey, we're The Misfits. We're so sick of all these dumb little bands ripping off our style from 20 million years ago and sullying our name by citing us as influences. I mean, AFI was pretty good and My Chemical Romance captured the brilliance of our pop side, but Aiden? Jesus, this makes Glenn want to go and get knocked out by one of the members of Northside Kings!

Schoolyard Heroes: We're Schoolyard Heroes and we have two albums where we talk about vampires and killing people, too. Unlike Aiden, however, our records are way better. The musicianship compliments the vocal prowess of our singer. When we write off-time parts, we can actually perform them. Anway, pick up either "The Funeral Sciences" or "Fantastic Wounds" or both. They're out now on The Control Group.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

mash-ups, remixes, and all the wackness in between

Part of buying a quality 12" single is that you're sure to get some pretty sweet remix tracks. Check 1995's "MVP" by the late Big L, BAM! "Summer Smooth Mix." And smooth it was. Showbiz and AG's "Next Level" side? BAM! "Nite Time Remix" by Premier. But finding remixes these days are pushed to either bootleg white labels or other people's mixtapes.

In the wake of the absence of maxi-singles, the world at large has jumped on the didd-ick of the next best thing: mash-ups. The term itselfs sends shivers down my back. For those over 40, a mash-up is basically a blend, an acapella of one track, backed with an instrumental of another. Despite the fact that DJs in various genres have been doing this for years, it really started to peak when DJs, no doubt from the UK, started using rock records to remix their sides. Soon, stuff like the "Satanic Versus" series and Danger Mouse's original series (like that super dope Nas remix) were all over records stores and being heralded as the second coming of 4th and Broadway.

But the shit really hit the fan when Danger Mouse's own "Grey Album" became the cornerstone of mash-up-ness, as well as a shining example of copyright infringement, sample clearance, and rule #4080. By that time (2004), everybody and their mom used the term mash-up. The worst possible combinations of music began popping up from "The Black and Blue Album (Jay-Z and Weezer)" to Fall Out Boy and Gym Class Heroes (if anybody wants to hear this musical atrocity, e-mail me). Then before you know it, Travis Barker, the little guy from Blink-182, plays a show with that wack-ass DJ A.M. (former DJ for Crazy Town, as it's proudly placed on his resume, seriously, check that shit), where Travis would play the beat of whatever record A.M. was running. What the hell? Haven't these people heard of "Keepintime?" Shadow only played that to open up his last tour for about a year? Jesus.

The fall out of all this mash-up madness, however, brings me to the example of every label in the entire universe putting out remix albums. And I thought mash-ups were bad. Though Verve had released two "Verve Remixed" albums previously, things really started to heat up with album number three, as it featured production from Dntel (the non-singer from the Postal Service) and Danger Mouse (surprise, surprise). Next thing I knew, I was shelving stuff like "Motown Remixed" which, to be truthful, is pretty good. Though for every "Motown" there were horrible remix records such as "Billie Holliday Remixed," "Beatles Regrooved," "Curtis Mayfield Remixed." I think that Billie, Curtis, John, and George should come back from the dead and kick the collective asses of anyone who worked on those records.

My head really exploded last week when I saw this: "Disney Remixmania." That has got to be a sign of the apocolypse. It's clear: we're all in trouble. At first I laughed and then when I saw DJ Skribble's dumbass face on the packaging (clearly for street cred), I felt like going to Disney World and throwing crap at the Tea Cup ride. Haven't these suits pissed on enough graves, musical legacies, and undermined the intellegence of the public enough? Fucking Disney Remixmania?

Enough is enough. No more mash-ups, unless you're blending at the club or on the air. No more remixes unless their own a proper bootleg or 12" single. If I hear about one more wack ass mash-mix-wack-tribute, I'm e-mailing Freddie Foxxx aka Bumpy Knuckles, and we're wrecking shit.

[*note: I realize that in this entire rant I left out Jay-Z and Linkin Park's collaboration. Well, for me to have the most respect for Jay-Z, I had to keep my knowledge of that album to a minimum. I'll respect the man for "Dead Presidents" but I won't respect him for working with a manufactured, pre-fab, crappy second-rate Biohazard and/or Anthrax]

Monday, October 03, 2005

sucka duck, what the fuck? you don't want none of this

Recently, I've peered into the lives of hipsters, both local and national and it sickens me to see/read/hear that they are taking over in the DJ booth. Let me explain, thoroughly.

These days, you can't throw a rock without hitting a hipster party where some psuedo-celebrity has taken it upon themselves to bring their small record collection and iPod over to a club to rock the jams. These playlists usually all run within a similar vein of tunes:

Dr. Dre "Nothin' But a G Thang"
Joy Division "Love Will Tear Us Apart"
The Killers "Mr. Brightside"

Going to a local club like Chop Suey, you can see that sprinkled within their otherwise decent hip-hop and indie rock events, they have DJ nights such as "Hipsters and Fags" where you can hear the sweet, non-sense blending of DJ Fucking in the Streets (yes, that is his actual DJ name). I might not be using this guy as an example if not for two things: 1) he DJs everywhere and, from what I've been told, it has little to do with his lack of skill behind the decks and rather his connections (*note: more power to him if he is able to fool that many people into getting him gigs). 2) he is not very good; I've never seen this cat blend, cut, or juggle. He just fucking plays records.

When I was coming up, blending, scratching and juggling were the least that you could do if you even wanted to call yourself a DJ. I'm assuming the criteria remains in hip-hop, but that doesn't stop rampant hipster culture from infringing on the art of DJing and finding people who perform to lowered standards.

But DJ Fucking in the Streets isn't absolutely terrible. Dude has a good selection; he just doesn't do anything to whet my DJing appetite, nor do anything to raise the bar. It's stupid and useless to get that many jobs if you're not going to excel at your craft.

Cats like DJ Fucking in the Streets are paving the way for lazy DJs. People who play their sets via their iPod. They don't care about the joys of record shopping and getting their fingers dirty. They just download whatever songs they need from iTunes or Napster. Additionally, activities such as digging for breaks and scratching go without heed. Fucking forget about it. These people don't have the patience, nor time, to sit around and practice flare scratches. They're too busy doing coke in some dive bar bathroom.

The popularity of the iPod and CD turntables (though I must say that I find these useful for those breaks that I don't want to bring anywhere) are birthing a generation of people who are pissing on DJ culture in general. Taking that into consideration it's not even a hip-hop thing any more than a drum & bass thing.

Browsing into the club scenes in other major metropolitan cities, I find that celebrities such as Hilary Duff, those stupid Good Charlotte twins, and Ione Skye (the annoying girl from "Say Anything") have all DJ'd in their respective 'hoods. I'm sure taking time/money away from a hungry cat who has learned the virtues of DJ Premier is going to bring your club respect.

While those entrenched in the hipster scene are quick to write this off as a "hater rant" by a bitter hip-hop snob and/or nerd, let me assure you that it surely is. For every one dope DJ who has a resident night at a club, there's about six other DJs who are clawing their way into some shithole bar just to get their shot. In the meantime, nights are being taken away for the sake of getting drug-addled, tight-jean wearing foolios to bring their machines to do the work for them. Sure people will show to the hipster night, but is that really worth the loss of dignity?

Save the DJ.