<i>Other Music from a...</i> Different Kitchen <$BlogRSDUrl$>

Friday, August 29, 2003

Just got sent this article ("Graffiti Backdrop at Dean Rally Irks a Republican") by a friend. This Oddo guy is an idiot. I'm not even that big a fan of graffiti art myself but respect it as one of the pillars of hip hop culture. It's sad that so many years later after this artform already made the jump to the gallery scene, there are still people like Oddo who don't realize this is something positive and see graffiti for the unique modern artform it is and instead still view it solely as something "blighting the urban landscape."

This was a comissioned piece of art used in conjunction with a campaign event for a politician who, for better or worse, is connecting with much of a very disaffected electorate and getting them excited about the political process again and bringing more progressive liberal points of view to the current mainstream political dialog. Councilman Oddo, Mayor Bloomberg and others who think like them need to whip out their credit cards and order Style Wars, WildStyle, Subway Art and Dondi White Style Master General: The Life of Graffiti Artist Dondi White before they speak on this issue again.

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Thursday, August 28, 2003

More fun and games to idle away your valuable time: click here to check out the new online game "RockStarter: Create your own damn band."

I promised myself I would stay away from writing about the California Governor's recall race as no smart-ass or sarcastic commentary I could come up with would trump the absurdity of what's happening out there right now for real but when this came up about Arnold Schwarzenegger on the "The Smoking Gun: Archive" yesterday, I couldn't resist. Of course, all sorts of nay sayers are coming out of the woodwork trying to undermine Arnold's "candidacy" by unearthing this old interview from 70's adult magazine Oui. My take on this is that first, the mere fact that he's even running what both he and, more amazingly, much of the mass media consider a credible candidacy, it's unlikely that this interview will affect that perception. Second, if George Bush, as a perpetual failed businessman, draft dodger and reformed cokehead and alcoholic can become president of the United States without anyone seriously calling him on any of those issues, there's no reason why Schwarzenegger shouldn't have the opportunity to skate through and do the same on a state level in California, right?

Ah, Californians and their fetish for electing B-movie actors governor. Here's hoping this is one trend from out West that doesn't go nationwide.

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Wow, I just heard about this (the rush hour power out in London today) as I was listening to London radio station XFM online (see link at left to check it out for yourself). I'm no conspiracy theorist but this is way too weird a coincidence--first the power goes out in the US a couple weeks back and now in London, England. Hmm, what do these two countries have in common in terms of major geo-political events this year? Between this and the computer viruses, there's been a lot of very strange stuff happening in the last couple of weeks. If this isn't the work of terrorists or very malicious hackers, at the worst it does show you how vulnerable we are to attack from anyone who may want to do us harm. Forget about planes or buildings being attacked, a couple of key strokes by the wrong person and we could all be on our knees in a deep panic. OK, now I do sound like some kind of conspiracy nutcase. Back to more life-affirming thoughts....

On the other hand XFM also played the new single by The Strokes called "12:51" right before the news which sounded pretty good (although the vocals sounded a little buried in the mix). Their chug-along retro guitar style was still intact but the track had a very Cars-like feel to my ears with its new wave/80's keyboard melody. If this is any indication of what the new album (supposedly to be titled "Room on Fire") is going to sound like, these guys look like they' should escape the sophomore slump no problem.

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I read a couple of articles recently that really gave me pause about where the world and in particular the US may be going in the future from an economic point of view.

Robert Samuelson's "A Crackup for World Trade?" in the August 25th edition of Newsweek magazine, which you can read here, examines the implications for the world economy and the US's standing within it based on the growing negative balance of trades the US had been building up in recent years. He paints a pretty scary picture about how, if other countries don't replicate the US economy’s ultra consumerist pattern of spending and debt build-up, instead of hoarding their trade surpluses, the global free-trade market will eventually collapse. He makes some arguments for how the free markets only help make poorer countries richer if everyone does their part by buying goods from each other. He points out that this will only happen if Europe, and the Far East buy more US goods and Latin America gets out of debt. In the meantime, the US loses more jobs, our trade deficits continue to grow as we buy more than we sell to others and the dollar depreciates. Now the latter factor makes imported goods relatively more expensive to US shoppers which should slow down their thirst to consume but if foreign shoppers don’t pick up the slack by buying more US exports which should be now relatively cheaper, there could be real problems.

An August 17th Op-ed column in the New York Times by Louis Uchitelle entitled "As Factories Move Abroad, So Does U.S. Power" (you can read an abstract here but may have to pay a small fee to read the whole thing), talks about exactly what some of those problems are. Manufacturing companies, from cars and computer chips to clothes and sneakers, have moved their factories out of the US to take advantage of cheap foreign labor and we buy those goods when they are exported back to us. His argument goes that as this trend continues, we increasingly lose our power to buy from others if we are not actually manufacturing goods to export to other countries and make money from.

Now I am far from a socialist or radical left-wing thinker and think that a free-market economy is probably as good a system as you’re gonna get if it’s working right and everyone plays fair (hello heavily-government subsidized US farmers!). But reading these articles, it's pretty clear that the seeds for future problems with US economy (from which all other power a country can wield, political, military or otherwise flows) seem to be getting sown now. As the current government snowballs us with scare tactics about “possible” future attacks on the US by terrorist or foreign “evil-doer’s”, half-truths to justify pre-emptive military actions and chips away at everyone's civil liberties under the guise of protecting those same "freedoms" (thank you John Aschroft & co.), the looting of the economy with tax cuts that don't benefit anyone but the super-rich (check your property, state and municipal tax bills next year before you jump for joy about getting a rebate check) and record breaking federal deficits continue unchecked and unquestioned.

I live a pretty good life now even as I have time on my hands to write because I don’t work full time. On the other hand, it scares me a little wondering whether it'll always stay this good or if anyone else even cares about what’s happening to the US in the long term. This is really way too much stuff to tackles in a web log but I think y’all get the idea. Sh!t is very real. That’s enough ranting to cover the musings on politics party of my web log mandate for a while. Back to the regularly-scheduled glib talk about music some time soon.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2003

For all you bandwagon riders who have been waving the punk-funk (aka disco-punk) flag for the last year or so, get ready for Mu, a left-field collabo between house producer Maurice Fulton and his Japanese wife Mustumi Kanamori which you can check out here, the web site of TIGERSUSHI recordings, possibly the coolest record label on the planet right now.

The album is called "Afro Finger and Gel" and is coming out on September 1st as far as I know. I think Trevor Jackson (of Playground fame) is putting it out in the UK through his Output label but I'm not sure who's putting it out in the US. The album was preceded by a single earlier this summer which I picked up from my good friends and neighbors at Halcyon Records in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. The single was called "Chair Girl" although most people (if they were like me) flipped straight to the B-side and spun "Let's Get Sick," a madcap slice of electro-breakbeat punk-house lunacy, which would tear up any discerning dance floor.

Also big up to my man Mick in London at Pure Groove-679 Recordings (home of the Streets) who sent me a very cool single by Grafiti a couple weeks back which is a nice slice of what I like to call "geezer electro"™. If you like the Audio Bullys, the Streets (or Dizzee Rascal to an extent), you know what this is gonna be about and you need to check this out immediately. Ironically it looks like 679 is distributed by TigerSushi in Japan. Does this prove the adage "Great minds think alike?"

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Monday, August 25, 2003

Here's a funny web page I just came up on called the Google Smackdown. The basic idea is that you put in two phrases or words (like "Jay Z" and "50 Cent") and this page automatically calculates which one comes up on google's search engine more and declares them the winner in this internet-based version of a wrestling-style Smackdown. I know it's kind of puerile and stupid but it's also mildly-addictive at the same time.

Just copped a new hip hop mixtape ("Big Mike presents "The Muth-fu**in Champ is Back!!!") from my man down on Fulton Mall in B-K to keep up with what's poppoin' hip hop-wise. I mean, is there any point to buying most of the hip hop albums that come out nowdays? Even at the discount sub-10 dollar price point you can get 'em at Best Buy or Circuit City first week, you can get a mixtape with the hottest joints off upcoming albums months before release with some exclusives and freestyles to boot for 5 bucks or less on the street? You do the math. I'm not hating and I'm not one of those cats who thinks hip hop was just better back in the day. I actually think there a lot of great singles coming out right now--I love the Jae Mills' "No No No," Timbaland & Missy's "Cop That...," the new Kelis single "Milkshake" (yeah I know it's not technically a hip hop record but the Neptunes produced it so that's close enough for me) and the Young Gunz single that came out a few weeks back just to name a few that come to mind right now--but classic albums are few and far between. Two of the better ones this year have been Joe Buddens and David Banner. Inspector Deck's The Movement album was better than I would have expected and what I've heard of the Little Brother album I like and would recommend for those who think early 90's East Coast hip hop was the pinnacle of the music's creativity but other than that I can't think of much I'm real excited about.

On the other hand, this mixtape game is getting real out of hand too. One of the new tapes I looked at had a track listing Tupac dissing Ja Rule called (I think) "F-ck Murder Inc"--WTF? Murder Inc., Ja Rule and Gotti were barely on the radar screen when Pac died but he had the foresight to record and leave a dis track for them in the vaults before he died? If Pac did (or if this track is legitimately about them as oppposed to just being a generic battle track whose target isn't clearly specified), he truly was the greatest MC of all time--lol. Of course tracks like that coming out only fuel the "Pac is alive" conspiracy theorists out there. Needless to say I passed on that tape (although I won't lie, I looked at it for a while). Interestingly enough though the new XXL has an article on the making of the Makaveli album in their new issue which has Afeni Shakur (Pac's mom) on the cover and is dedicated to looking back on Pac's legacy 7 years on (yes, can you believe it's been that long already?) from his death. The fact that Pac's influnce and legacy is so strong within hip hop is only more proof of how weak the game has become.

Speaking of game though, I'm hoping Dre's new protgee The Game lives up the promise he's shown on recent Whoo Kid mixtapes I've heard. Yeah , he sounds like Black Rob a bit but he can definitely spit and with Dre behind the boards you could be looking at a worthy follow-up to 50 from a critical and sales point of view. Hip hop needs some new blood to get people excited again, that's partially why 50 blew up so big this year but, as much as I like a lot of his music and respect his marketing savvy, he's been so over-played this year on TV and the radio that I'm already sick of him. To end, the new Mary album is out tomorrow. While I'm skeptical of her reunion with Puffy and it's stated goal of trying to recreate the vibe on "What's the 411?" and "My Life," if the first single is any indication, the new album should be hot and not the backwards nostalgia trip it might have become.

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Friday, August 22, 2003

OK, there is still some sanity in this world based on reading this update on Fox News's ridiculous lawsuit against Al Franken's new satirical book. Just to stick it to Fox even more I might have go out and buy a copy of the book which I probably wouldn't have done under normal circumstances. Now where's that shortcut in my favorites folder so I can at least get it on discount?

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Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Welcome to my brand new web log. I've set this up out of boredom but hope something interesting'll come out of it for me and for anybody who somehow manages to stumble upon it and reads whatever I end up posting here.

For my friends who have been inundated with the emails I send out periodically about the debacle in Iraq (or even here), I'll now just add the links here instead and save you some space in your inboxes. Also I hope to put cats up on some cool music and other stuff I came across in my endless surfing on the web so check back as I hope to post at least once a week and maybe more if I can get into a good groove and have enough on my mind or that I've come across that's worth sharing.

In the meantime, I think the Neptunes are dropping their label compilation "Star Trak presents... Clones" with collabos from Kelis, Nas, Busta, Supercat, The Clipse and some other newer artists they're developing tomorrow so check it out here at their official website.

Also, if you're open to checking some slightly different sh!t, look into this kid from England named Dizzee Rascal. He's only 17 (I've heard) but he's mixing UK garage with hip hop beats and rhymes in a way that sounds a lot cooler than you would imagine from that description. For those who liked The Streets (and I was one of them although I had to ignore the ridicuclous "he's the British Eminem" hype he got in the media because it was totally off point. He was more like a John Cooper Clark figure for the UK's Post-Raver generation), this is coming from that angle but more urban and less "Loaded" magazine/larger lout/lad-ish in vibe. I swear that more open-minded Hot 97-type heads over here could get into this kid if they had an opportunity to hear it and gave it a chance to sink in. Then again I though Ms. Dynamite had a shot at blowing up here and, so far, she's sank without a trace (and that wack Nas remix of "Dy-na-mit-ee" I've been hearing isn't helping her any either). Here's a link to Dizzee's website though and you can also listen to mp3's of his newest single on his UK label's (XL) web site here.

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