Wednesday, February 28, 2007

boxing gloves

This has been lingering on the Interweb for about a day now, but in case you haven't heard, Timbaland (sans Magoo) and former Roots keyboardist/receiver of Paris Hilton's herpes, Scott Storch are beefin'! This has seriously got to be the dumbest beef since 1996's Coolio vs. Weird Al.

With the exception of MF Doom, Dr. Dre and Pete Rock (and maybe a few others), there aren't too many notable producers who should rap. The fact that Tim and Storch were even allowed in a vocal booth is mind boggling. When you choose "producer" as your primary position in Hip-Hop, you're almost promising the world that you'll never, ever rhyme. I'm not sure whatever happened to the nobility with beat makers when they were more respected for their dusty fingers, as opposed to starting beef with each other. I mean there is a reason why DJ Premier and Marley Marl have been able to stay strong in the rap game without having to deal with the kind of stupid bullshit that new jacks seem to put themselves through on a daily basis.

The only positive outcome of this Timbaland Vs. Storch war is that we're promised two of the worst tracks ever.

[Related Links]
Timbaland featuring Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado, "Give It 2 Me"
Scott Storch and Nox, "Built Like Dat"

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Friday, February 23, 2007

worst. remix. ever.

Fall Out Boy
"This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race (Kanye West Remix)"
(Island Def Jam)

This lazy, hastily put together remix courtesy of Diamond D-biter/overexposed demigod, Kanye West, is about the worst song I've heard in the last month. It actually might be the worst song of the year. Not that I thought too much of the song to begin with, but the verse that 'Ye drops is as confusing as his style of dress. Sample lyric: "The arm race made them raise their arm straight to the top/Who knew?/Right now they got the number one spot/Do you want that?/Me too.../They figure 'Ye dress tight, so we gon' dress tighter/He dress white, so we gon' dress whiter."

Huh? What? Actually that last part is pretty funny because he over emphasizes "whiter."

The drums seem like they were taken from one of those old "Drum Crazy" loop records that Tower used to sell for like $6. The pianos are buried so far beneath the mix and the vocal sample that you can't really tell they're there. Because of this travesty of a song and remix, both Fall Out Boy and Kanye should be banned from recording for at least two years. Believe that.

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the greatest hip-hop marketing since st. ides' crooked i

For those of you who were not privy to "Rap City" during the Prince DeJour/Joe Clair days, you might not be familiar with Crooked I. Crooked I was a fruit drink for children that was manufactured by St. Ides. The bottle was shaped like a 40 oz (although slightly smaller) and came in several flavors, not unlike Kool Aid. I'm sure St. Ides went along with the name since "Crooked I" was the slang term for their malt liquor. Crooked I and Rap City were always concurrent in my head because you couldn't watch an episode of "Rap City" without seeing five commercials for the C.I.

Well Crooked I is no longer the worst idea associated with hip-hop. I give you Hip-Hop Abs.

(Please take this time to watch the infomercial at the link. I'll wait.)

Hip-Hop Abs? I'm not sure which part of this is better, the fact that they keep mentioning that you DON'T have to do sit-ups or crunches to have well-defined abs or that their dance moves are straight out of a 1991 Heavy D video.

Best of all, Hip-Hop Abs is run by Shaun T, a dancer whose closest relation to hip-hop is that he was in "Beauty Shop." I bet he didn't even roll blunts with Latifah.

This is the kind of shit I'd expect back in 1995, maybe, but 2007? C'mon, people. This is almost as bad as Punk Rock Aerobics. Didn't we already have to suffer enough of this kind of crap with "The Grind." While we're on the subject, didn't Eric Neis have his own line of hip-hop dance exercise bullshit? Yeah, look how well that did.

Sorry, Shaun T, I guess I'll catch you at the bus stop nursing a Crooked I with your magnificent abs.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Calling Out "The Stranger" on Their BS

For whatever reason, I have this weekly ritual where the first thing I do after I get off the bus on Thursday mornings is seek out a copy of "The Stranger." It's been this weird thing I've done since 2000, probably because I'm no doubt a creature of habit. Yet week after week, I find myself reading "The Stranger" less and less. It still takes up space on my desk, but for the most part, I'll glance over upcoming shows and DVD reviews. The only columns I go out of my way to read are Dan Savage's "Savage Love" and Steven Humphrey's "I Heart TV." The rest of the paper is just bunch of jumbled crap with interesting pieces buried within.

I think the final straw was trying to read about the progress about the new Vera Project, which seemed more like an ad for a venue I didn't really care for to begin with. Also trying to read Eric Grandy's (aka DJ Fucking in the Streets -- his name, not mine for him) eponymous column is a chore. It actually reminds me of these writer "exercises" that my friend Patrick and I used to do in which we'd randomly select an artist or band and try to make them sound like they were changing popular music with some vague adjectives.

For example:

Patrick: Dose One
Ryan: Dose One takes the esoteric nature of college rap and pairs it with a street savvy hint of intellect.

See, it's dumb. It's the kind of crap you'd read in Pitchfork, but for whatever reason, Grandy's writing style, albeit a little less hyperbolic, is like that.

Additionally, I feel like I've been reading about the same bands over and over again. You know, I do like Kane Hodder, but it seems that whenever they have a show, they have to be covered. Seriously, we know the band is good, but they don't need to be in every damn issue.

I think I've felt this way about "The Stranger" for a long time, but the reality is that it really is the lesser of evils as far as local publications are concerned. I suppose I could read the "Seattle Weekly," but I'm not an affluent DMB jockey with money to burn. I could read "Exotic Underground," but I have too much self-respect. So there it is, "The Stranger," the paper that I'll think of as "never being as good as 'The Rocket,'" yet I'll carry on my weekly rituals because I just don't know any better.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Redux: Silverstein's "When Broken is Easily Fixed"

Just because a band is proficient at playing their instruments doesn't necessarily mean that their talent will translate well to wax. Case in point: Canada's Silverstein, whose 2003 album "When Broken is Easily Fixed" (Victory) is a shining example of how the screamo subgenre has ruined a band's potential.

The album's ballads, "Giving Up," "November," and "Forever and a Day," are really strong songs, but sadly, there's only eight listenable songs on the 12 track album. Anyway, I put this record on yesterday and after I removed four crappy songs, I found the rest of the album to be a little enjoyable.


Friday, February 16, 2007

Ghost Rider? Oh Hell Yes...

I've long given up on an accurate portrayal of any of my old comic faves. Though the "Spider Man" franchise has been minimal in sullying the comic's legacy, the upcoming third installment -- which introduces Venom -- doesn't look too promising. So why the hell am I so amped about "Ghost Rider?"

First of all, "Ghost Rider" stars Nic Cage, who has been in maybe one or two good movies ("Face Off" and "Raising Arizona"); but the great thing about Cage is that he's able to ham it up like no other and his take on Johnny Blaze, the stuntman who signs his life way, recognizes the whole theme of being an Evel Kinivel-type: showy, loud and, as I said before, hammy.

I'm actually relieved that writer/director Mark Steven Johnson (who unceremoniously fucked Daredevil) decided to use the Johnny Blaze story arc, versus the nineties Ghost Rider, Daniel Ketch, whose transformation was accidentally forced by tragedy. The nineties "Ghost Rider" was backed by a world that bathed in its own filth, from drug peddling thugs to high powered corporate villains, it was very much a response to a Bush Sr-led urban world.

The film version of "Ghost Rider," however, with all its glitz, slick special effects and beautiful stars (Eva Mendez, what up) best reflects the excess of Hollywood and the many Americans who choose to ignore what's going on outside the comfort of their Ikea furnished homes.

I'd much rather have my Ghost Rider as big and bad ass as possible since the finger wagging version wouldn't bode well for anyone. I don't watch movies to be preached at, I watch them to see shit explode, which -- judging from the trailers -- "Ghost Rider" won't fail to deliver.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

when interpol and pop-punk collide...

The Ataris
"Welcome the Night"

Before the kids started wearing make up (again) and started trying to ironically sneak in R&B and hip-hop hooks into their songs, there was once The Ataris, a quartet of chunky dudes who wore "Black Flys" and "Porn Star" t-shirts and played Descendents covers like it was nobody's business.

When you watch a band evolve, it's a lot like watching your leftovers in a microwave: it seems like like it's a slow process, when in reality, it only took a minute to get your food hot; but I suppose you also have to make sure you can stop it from exploding and making a mess all over your microwave.

I feel like I grew up with The Ataris, as I've spent much of the last seven years listening to them, yet I have this sense that I couldn't hit the stop button on the microwave soon enough. If you're looking for the band that blessed us with standards such as "San Dimas High School Football Rules" or "Make It Last," then you'll be sorely disappointed.

"Welcome the Night" is a really weird, inconsistent record that plays more like a mixtape than an actual cohesive album. It opens with the synth-heavy single, "Not Capable of Love" then segues into "Cardiff By the Sea," which sounds like a Jimmy Eat World throwaway. "The Cheyenne Line" has a guitar riff that flat out rips off Get Up Kids' "Red Letter Day."

After awhile, many of these songs all sound the same and it's really is a chore to try to distinguish one from the other. I wish I could say that this was an interesting record, but it's like Kris Roe went through Pitchfork's Top 50 from the last three years and cherry picked his favorites. While I'm all for bands changing up their sound and opting for something different, this departure is so all over the place, I feel like I'm listening to five bands instead of one.

At least they're not doing some wacky cabaret shit; if that happened, I'd lose my damn mind.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007


chasing coolness presents the 25th annual vee-day heartbreak tape:

side ay:

1. christopher gutierrez, "true love and the damage done"
2. dustin kensrue, "pistol"
3. kevin devine, "guys with record collections"
4. max roach, "lonesome lover"
5. sarah shannon, "all we will be"
6. the perceptionists, "love letters"
7. ozma, "eponine"
8. dj shadow, "six days"
9. ryan star, "back of your car"
10. say anything, "total revenge"

side bee:

11. alkaline trio, "we can never break up"
12. smashing pumpkins, "disarm"
13. tribe called quest, "find a way"
14. the monkees, "a little bit me, a little bit you"
15. leigh nash, "ocean size love"
16. the jealous sound, "anxious arms" (remix)
17. hi-five, "never should've let you go"
18. joe bataan, "ordinary guy"
19. maritime, "tearing up the oxygen"
20. r.e.m., "at my most beautiful"


Monday, February 12, 2007


"When you're 26 and you haven't figured out your life yet, that shit ain't cute." -- Sarah H.

Prophetic words told to me nearly three years ago by an old friend. I've always kept those words in my head, even though I never thought I'd ever reach 26 without some sort of accomplishment. So here I am, 25 and I'm still sort of circling around, attempting to find that "dare-to-be-great" situation we all hope for when we're 18 and stupid. I can't really afford to be circling, though. I feel like I've sort of been biding my time lately. While I do write songs on a daily basis, very little comes of it because it seems forced. How many times can I write about friends lost, politics and failed romances before it becomes this trite stanza and all I have left is a Taking Back Sunday record?

So here's the deal: I've decided to go back to school and get my Master's Degree, and if all goes well, I may even continue on and get my Doctorate.

I loved school and I love learning, I hated the people, but that's really a different story. I've chased the dragon of being in a band since I was 17 and it seems like it's time for me to choose another path.

I enjoyed my short time with this band, I feel like they will go onto greater places without me and perhaps they'll be fronted by a singer who has the time, committment and liver to hang with them. But for me, the sober, shy, self-aggrandizing fool, my stop's here.

I'd like to thank all of Greg, Sean and Andrew's friends who made my experience in this band a sunny one. Most of all, I'd like to thank the G,S, and A who allowed me to write silly songs that had been taking up space in my Hilary Duff notebook for a year or so.

While I'm not at school or at work, you can read some of my ramblings in Redefine Magazine and (coming very soon) High Voltage.

Stay greasy and I'll catch you suckers later.

Ryan P.
L.I.R. Class of 2007

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Looking Back at the Greatness of Tha Row

This morning, I opened a copy of the new Death Row Records retrospective, "15 Years On Death Row." This is the latest in a series of "greatest hits" packages that Suge Knight has released to try to keep his sinking ship afloat.

This particular collection includes a DVD that contains all, if not most, of the music videos from the Row's catalog (including a particularly funny extended version of "Let Me Ride"). Many of these videos from the Dr. Dre period (1993-96) are iconic examples of the popular gangsta rap subgenre. It's a wonder how West Coast hip-hop even functioned before Dre and Snoop were showing teens around the nation that Southern California could be best described with Five B's: Booze, Bimbos, Blunts, Ben Davis shirts, Buckets, er, cars.

The ironic social commenting clip for "Lil' Ghetto Boy" is a rare that I didn't even know existed. In fact, in some of the scenes with Snoop rapping, you can still see the time code at the bottom of the screen, who knows if was ever meant to be screened. It is also a stark contrast to the hooky dance rap that populated the MTV and BET airwaves thanks to groups like Bell Biv Devoe, Kris Kross and Snow. Likewise, the video counterpart also seems to be a response to Lionel C. Martin, a popular video director whose videos often glamorized singers and rappers as wealthy entertainers, often being above their fans.

Death Row's early videos are raw and amateurish since they were done by rookie director, Dre. But simultaneously, the videos are honest -- if not in their depiction of how the Row's rappers thought Black America should be, then it reflected the label's interests and exploits.

So even if you own the best of Death Row's albums right up until the release of 2Pac's "Makaveli" album, I'd still recommend copping this three disc collection. You may have all the songs, but to have a milestone of hip-hop, even one with negative connotations, packed onto one little DVD, is worth the price of five posthumous 2Pac albums.

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even on a vay-kay, i couldn't stay away

coming soon to the internets near you...ryan p aka chasing coolness on....

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

gone fishin

...catch you scrubs next week...

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

the new bright eyes ep...

Bright Eyes
"Four Winds EP"
(Saddle Creek)

For the past few releases, Conor and co. usually put out a teaser EP that preceeds the full-length. "Four Winds" preceeds their newest album whose title escapes me at the moment. So far this EP sounds pretty good and I'm a little excited about the new record. Admittedly, I'm not the biggest Bright Eyes fan in the world, especially after Oberst halted work on a new Deseparacidos record for the "I'm Wide Awake/Digital Ash" bonanza. But if "Four Winds" is any indication, then the new album might be the best one yet.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

some more ol' bullshit i'll probably like by year's end

I remember listening to what would be Recover's final album, "This is the Year I Disappear," thinking that it was one of the worst records I'd heard in quite some time. Let's rewind for those who aren't down with the pop-punk:

Back in the day, around 2001 or so, there was this band from Texas called Recover who tacked onto the "screamo" genre earlier than any other band west of Ohio. What set this band apart from any other Atticus-sponsored crapfest is that they actually wrote pretty good songs. Singer Dan Keyes had this ridiculously melodic voice and they had some pretty crazy riffage in their songs.

By the time their third record (and first for a major label) came out, they'd pretty much taken out all the hardcore aspects out of their band and turned into a bona fide pop rock band. Blah.

Or so I thought.

As months passed, I found myself enjoying the record a lot more and though I believe that it'll never a hold a candle to their debut, "Rodeo and Picasso," it's still worthy of a spin from time to time.

Some time last year, demos for Keyes' new band (a.k.a. himself), Young Love, started showing up on the Internets and I simply wrote them off as another former pop-punk dude getting in touch with his inner hipster (see also: Gabe Saporta, Darryl Palumbo, Fall Out Boy) by making really, really horrid dance music.

Young Love's debut "Too Young To Fight It" came across my desk this morning and I must say that while it's not my cup of tea, I can see why people would buy this record. It's insanely catchy and groovy (not in that Shaggy sort of way). Surprisingly, former Elektra honcho and notable hip-hop producer, Dante Ross, produces two tracks on this album. They also happen to be the best songs on the record. Coincidence? Probably not.

Anyway, as I'm listening to the lead single "Find a New Way," I'm still resisting myself from enjoying this album. I don't know how long that'll last, though.

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Friday, February 02, 2007

the greatest cable television show

I know it's been on for a bit, but I finally caught on to VH-1's "Ego Trip's The White Rapper Show." I don't have cable, but thanks to the powers of the Interweb, I finally had the chance to watch this show. God bless the man who invented the Internet (big ups to Al Gore).

This program is easily the greatest television show on cable. First off, anyone who read "Ego Trip" magazine back in the day, or read any of their books ("Ego Trip's Book of Rap Lists" and "Ego Trip's Big Book of Racism") will realize that not only is the show entertaining and comic, but it's also a great social experiment, probably moreso than "Beauty and the Geek."

The main premise (if you haven't heard) is that 10 would be White rappers duke it out for $100,000 and respek (word to Ali G). The show is hosted by the man who discovered Nas, MC Serch and features cameos from the likes of Prince Paul, Kool Keith, Juelz Santana and Brand Nubian. Those aspects aside, the contestants all hail from varied parts of the United States (and one girl from the UK) and each is unique in their delievery and swagger.

The thing I enjoy most about this show is to see how these contestants view their role and place in hip-hop. Most of the time, it's outright silly, but then there are some moments where the lightbulb goes off.

For example, Persia -- who might be poised to win it -- drops the N-bomb several times on the inept, yet sweet, John Brown. Persia's reasoning is that as she's from Queens and rolls with Black people, she has every right to use it. This kind of ridiculous logic reminds me of suburban kids who have, like, one Black friend or acquaintence and use the N word as if they were saying "the." Unlike, many uneducated people, however, Persia is punished by wearing a heavy necklace which reads: "N-WORD." That's the best example of poetic justice.

As Hip-Hop languishes in its third decade of existence, it's still mind-boggling that a rapper's skin tone is relevant, as opposed to their actual talent. Of course, this is television and it is an Ego Trip production, so perhaps the real joke's on us, as it's given hip-hop fans a forum to discuss such topics. At the very least we can talk about how Dasit looks like Dose One's little brother, but, y'know, wack.

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

backed with vs. lily allen

Backed With updated? Um, no. Well sort of.

I don't know if it's because I use Firefox, but I can't get Blogger to publish the latest Backed With post, which is a shame because I brought out the big guns.

My posts have been a little negative lately, I'm going to blame winter, but I'm also going to blame all these labels who keep releasing really crappy records. For example, on my desk at work, I have Lily Allen's debut album that everyone has been raving about.

Reality chiggity check: This is garbage.

Maybe it's because she's some passable, skinny British chick, but people seem to be fascinated with this broad. I can see this being a hit back in 1996 when everybody in high school had a No Doubt sticker emblazoned on their Trapper Keeper, but in 2007? Seriously, people need to check themselves before they wreck themselves.

I guess she's just another disposable limey in a long line of overexposed Pitchfork darlings (whose alma matter include M.I.A., Lady Sovereign, and Mike Skinner), but there's something to said about taste. I mean, this is coming from a guy who compared New Found Glory to The Cars, so really, aren't the people who buy this crap willing actually end up losing in the long run? More so, it's interesting to see how a predominantly Black genre like Ska (or hip-hop, for that matter) is suddenly a critical hit when it's done up by a girl of light complexion. Are hipsters still afraid of the other?

Anyway, if you can get past the liquid diarrhea of lyrics, Lily Allen's "Alright, Still" is slightly less annoying than "Arular" but it's definitely the kind of album I would kick the shit out of to release whatever pent up aggression I have about Blogger not working, the winter season or how it took half-a-season to get a good episode from the "Gilmore Girls" this year.

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