Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Recent music

We've already established I'm quite the consumer. Though I have been saving rather responsibly, like I stated in the linked post, I buy what I like. And it's been a while since I did a music post. Know particular order. Annnd herrrre weeee go!:

Well I have to start off with The Blueprint 3. My man Jay-Z. I must say this is some of the best hip-hop and rap music I have heard in a long time. He KILLED it with this album! I'm talking about EVERY SINGLE SONG is off the chain good. Jay hasn't showed this much of himself since Reasonable Doubt. Stylistically they are identical albums. Reasonable Doubt, Jay's first, was a straight up outpouring of his life experiences up until the point of the album. Well, that's exactly what Blueprint 3 is, an outpouring of his experiences since Reasonable Doubt. Since this is a full music post, I'ma end this here. I think I need to do a post just about this album later.

Just as, if not more important to me, is the release of The Chair in the Doorway, the new album from Living Colour. I must say it is good to have the guys back together and making some awesome music again. I've been a fan since '88 when I first saw the video for Cult of Personality. I have every album. They sound way more cohesive and focused on this album than the last one. I'm still in the process of digesting this album but know that I LOVE IT! Great music from a great band.

Let's see, what else. Oh yeah, Alice in Chains found a new singer and have released a new album, Black Gives Way to Blue. I must say they found a great lead singer 'cause he fits right into the sound that the band is famous for. It's also interesting to note that the singer, William DuVall, is Black which I think is massive cool. Not enough Black people representing in rock these days. At least not in the spotlight anyway. Ever since I found out about this I wondered if the rest of the band noticed any ignorance at their shows and in fan responses. And by ignorance I mean ethnic prejudice. I'm sure they have and I wonder what the original members think about it. Anyways, the album is good. I just got it so, like the above, I'm still digesting it but I like it.

Back to hip-hop and rap. Q-tip released Kamaal the Abstract and Grand Puba released Retroactive. Both of these cats are from the old-school but they still make very good music. In the last couple of months I've been collecting Boot Camp Click albums. So far I've got, Casualties of War, Chosen Few, and Still for the People. Also from the Duck Down camp, I've acquired Shell Shock the solo album by Rock of Heltah Skeltah. Do I need to say all of these are GOOD!

The Black Crowes have released a double album called, Before the Frost...Until the Freeze. I must say that I like this release a hell of a lot better than their last one, Warpaint. Something about Warpaint I just didn't like that much. Still don't. It's not a bad album just...I don't know. This new one, however, is great! And a really cool thing about the release is the CD is Before the Frost and ...Until the Freeze is a download. There's a card in the CD sleeve with a code and website. I thought that was just brilliant. Great use of technology. I've previously posted about the Black Crowes, so I'll refrain from gushing about them now. But they are one of my favorite bands.

OH! OH! I almost forgot! Megadeth has a new album, too! Endgame. I've been a fan of Megadeth ever since my friend Chris let me listen to Rust In Peace (years ago!!), which to me is still one of THE BEST metal albums EVAR!!!!!! For that alone I will always be a fan. Thematically, leader Dave Mustain has always kept the band on course from album to album, and he is still on course. His observations and speculations of America and it's relation to the world has been a seemingly, and quite possible obsession, but he does it well. It still hasn't gotten old. At least not to me. I think Endgame is awesome.

And, oh yes, M.O.P.!!!! Finally The First Family has released an official studio album. FOUNDATION! This whole album is FYRE!!! Almost makes me wish I was from Brooklyn this album is so damn good. Almost. (I am from the South Bronx!!!!) But yeah, if you're a fan of straight hardbody Hip-Hop you needs to get this now!

And speaking of hardbody Hip-Hop, I cannot believe I almost forgot to mention Only Built for Cuban Linx Pt. II the classic follow up to a classic! Chef Raekwon is still cookin' up some marvelous shit to get your mouth watered! And of course Ghostface Killah is along ridin' shotgun and most of the Wu and a few extended crew is coming behind in the backup vehicle to make sure you get it.

And keeping it Wu, Ghost just dropped a new album, Ghostdini The Wizard of Poetry. All I have to say is this is Ghost doin' Ghost! If you're a fan you already know.

Damn, I KNEW I was forgetting something important. Returning to Duck Down we have Survival Skills the collabo album from The Blastmaster KRS-ONE and Buckshot. Talk about some great Hip-Hop. Some people say the old-school ain't in touch with modern times BUT KRS and Buck released the single Robot, which is about auto-tune and everbody sounding the same, BEFORE Jay released D.O.A. Of course I'm not saying nothing against Jay, I'm just sayin'.... This is a very good album. And it's KRS AND Buckshot! Come on!

Oh yeah, I know I'm mad late but I just got LL's Exit 13. I must say I feel kinda bad for waiting so long to get it because it's really good. I said kinda because the reason I waited was the previous two albums I wasn't too impressed with.

It's been a minute already but I guess I should mention Blackout 2 from my boys Method Man and Redman. We already know how they do. This is still on heavy rotation with me. Come on, TWO premier emcees killin' it. And also B.O.M.B.S. by the combustible Busta Rhymes. Busta is an elite lyricist, no question, but he has never released an album that was consistently good all the way through, just my opinion of course. This is the first time I put on one of his albums and felt no need to hit the skip button. At all. Busta has finally released an album on par with his lyrical prowess. I'm really happy about that, too.

And I just remembered some more. JEEZE! This year seemed like the year for awesome collaborations in music. First up Streetsweeper Social Club, the collabo of Boots Riley, from awesome Hip-Hop/Rap group The Coup, and Tom Morello of the phenomenal bands RATM and Audioslave. Both of these artists have rather intense soci0-political slants in the music they create so as unlikely as this collaboration may seem on the surface, it couldn't be a more perfect fit.

And then we have Slaughterhouse, a super collective of seriously not-to-be-fucked-with battle emcees. Royce the 5'9", Joe Budden, Crooked I, and the relative newcomer Joell Ortiz. All ready this may sound like a recipe for disaster, however, THIS SHIT WORKS! WELL! These four cats bring their individual styles and bravados and go all out on every track yet the stereotypical rapper egos do not get in the way. At all. These cats know what they each bring to the crew and there is a mutual respect for each other that is very apparent on the whole album. But you know every time they each got in the booth they were trying to murder each other! But they're having fun with it, despite being deadly serious about the art of emceeing. I am so still feeling this album. This is another one that is on super heavy rotation for a long time. By the way I must mention my favorite track is titled, 'Cuckoo'. That shit is hilarious!

And lastly we come to Chickenfoot, the collabo album from four veterans of Rock'N'Roll! Sammy Hagar on vox, Michael Anthony of Van Halen on bass, Chad Smith of the RHCP on drums, and the stupendously awesome Joe Satriani on guitar! To be honest with you there are very few ways that this can go wrong. All of these guys have been around for a very long time in music, so, they're just jammin' and coming up with some very cool, very good, straight to the gut, no bullshit Rock and Roll. Period. The musicianship on this album is second to none and yet you can tell these guys are just having fun and doing it well. Oh yeah, I must also mention the CD sleeve because they used a special heat sensitive ink on it. In normal temperature the sleeve is black but if you press your hand to it or breathe on it, like your trying to fog up a window, then your see each of the four guys in some performance pose. Just a cool little somethin' to go along with the awesome music. Very cool.

I think that is about it. No wait, just remembered some more. I rarely buy R&B stuff but I have some I must mention.

Maxwell's BLACKsummers'night is very very good. And newcomer Laura Izibor's album, Let The Truth Be Told is actually very good. You wouldn't expect a black chick from Dublin, Ireland to express so much soul (Betcha didn't even think there were Black people IN Ireland! Shows how much you know. We're everywhere!), but she does. And she does it well. I implore you to leave your preconceptions and prejudices at the door and check her out.

Okay, that's it for now. I'm tired. I'm sure there's a few more but I can't remember them and really don't feel like typing anymore anyway. Maybe I'll do the BluRay/DVD list next. LAterz.


I've been interested in aikido for a number of years and finally found the time and a dojo/sensei I felt comfortable with about a year ago (I am actually a bit embarrassed that this is my first post about it). What really intrigued me about aikido is that it is a martial art that emphasizes balance between defensive and offensive combat. It is not about meeting force with force. To look at and, to be honest, practice, most other martial arts are mostly offensive combat arts. Understandably so if you know anything of human history, know matter what culture you explore. But aikido, looking at and practicing, is very defensive. However, the martial aspect is very present. Just look at some early Steven Seagal movies. Though the main focus of aikido, at least to me, is to redirect the aggressive energy from an opponent back at that opponent with as little violence as possible, you realize that in properly controlling the energy of the opponent you actually control the opponent physically. And with that control you can really do some damage. Now I have no problem with a straight up fight but I don't really like to and if there is a better way to put someone down without damaging myself, which is more likely meeting force with force, then I'm all for it. And by redirecting their force and putting them down I can choose to hurt them or not. I like the control and the choice. And I'm a bit obsessed with balance so this happens to be a perfect martial art for me. I've done others but this is by far the most comfortable fit for me, though I must say I'm actually glad of my previous martial arts experience. Recent situations and my current school schedule have made it very difficult to go and I SO miss practicing! My only available time to go to the dojo is Monday and I really need to start going again even if it is only one day a week because I really miss it (I did it last fall semester so I'm just being a bit of a slacker this year. I suck.) Anyways, the reason for this post is my sensei, Gary Snyder, posted a short documentary on fb about his dojo/art gallery space. I've told anyone who'll listen about how super cool this space is and the documentary shows the space and how super cool it is, so now you can SEE it. I'd like to also add that if you live in NYC and you are interested in aikido let me know and I'll give you the info on the dojo so you can come and check it out. Watch the documentary below.

See! Very cool! You even get a glimpse of Shuji Maruyama sensei, the founder of Kokikai Aikido, the style of aikido I am learning. He taught Gary sensei. My very first class that I participated in was instructed by Maruyama sensei himself, which I took as a very positive sign that I should stick with this dojo! Maruyama sensei lives in Japan and only travels to the States once or twice a year so my very first class was kinda special to me. I've since been on the mat with sensei a few more times since and let me tell you first hand, he is NO JOKE! Tossed me like a ragdoll. Interestingly it is rather fun and uncannily hysterical to be thrown by him. I assume it's his energy. Even when he's manipulating your body like a puppet there's no aggression or negative energy. He just radiates so much positive energy that when you're picking yourself up off of the mat you find yourself laughing. Trust me, it isn't just me. It happens with everyone I've seen him demonstrate on. Even Gary sensei.

I need to go back.