Monday, August 29, 2011

The Best Music You've Never Heard: Michael Jackson

Note: For MJ's birthday, I've re-posted part 1 and 2 of a series I wrote in July.

Part 1

Don McLean’s mention of 'The Day The Music Died' (from “American Pie”) refers to February 3, 1959: the day Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper died in a plane crash outside of Clear Lake, Iowa.

Unfortunately, June 25 2009 serves as another unofficial reference to that verse: the death of the The King of Pop.

Last weekend, radio stations across America played Michael’s greatest hits; I thought it would be nice to do something different. Instead of Michael’s chart-toppers, we’ll instead look at some of his lesser-known recordings.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Old School Fridays - "Got Distracted On Her Way To Grandma's House"

I never knew that there was an official video for this song. Sure, it's not too fancy... but with the subject matter (prostitution), what else could they do?

I love the comments about this song on youtube; some of my favorites:

  • Classic, awesome song. I love it dearly. However, I hate that they play this on the slow jams program. #moodkiller
  • My dad named me after this song. I love listening to this song sometimes, the beat is so smooth. I used to hate he named me after the song after listening to the words but hey like I he loved music and this song is beautiful.
  • they made a song about a hoe sound magical! Now thats talent, Lost and turned outtttttttttt! I LOVE THE WHISPERS!!!
Speaking of which... has there ever been a better song about this subject?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Podcast Episode 5 - Tribe's Vibes

After last week's blog post on Midnight Marauders, we (the royal we - meaning I) wanted to keep focus on A Tribe Called Quest; instead of highlighting favorite songs, the focus is instead on originals sampled by the hip-hop trio [excluding Jarobi].

I primarily stayed with samples from the ATCQ holy trinity: 1990's People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, 1991's The Low End Theory and the previously mentioned Midnight Marauders album from 1993. I also threw in a few joints that fall in the Tribe sphere (either produced by or a cameo from a group member).

While most of the podcast is jazz (Grover Washington, Roy Ayers, Dianne Reeves, etc) we also include some funk and soul.

Enjoy. Podcast listing after the bounce.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Boom Clap Bachelor's "Skynd Dig Langsomt" shows that good music crosses borders

I just can't get this song out of my head... it goes to show you that good music crosses all the borders and barriers that we (humans) put up. From what I can gather, 'Skynd Dig Langsomt' is Danish for "Hurry Slowly'... which totally matches the mood of this vibe.

And is it just me, or do you hear touches of Lupe Fiasco's "He Say, She Say" in the chorus?

Video after the bounce.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Waiting on (more) new(ish) Jill Scott

Jill Scott's The Original Jill Scott from the Vault (Vol. 1) will be released on August 30th; I've been waiting for a while for Hidden Beach to drop the album - specifically because I love "Comes to The Light (Everything)" (Jill's track from the Can't Buy Me Move soundtrack).

I guess until then, I'll have to keep this youtube clip on repeat.

My Favorite Albums: Midnight Marauders

My love of A Tribe Called Quests’ Midnight Marauders starts, like most stories, with a girl.

I was a junior in high school and was on campus late one Saturday evening for an anti-drug rally. There were some girls from a neighboring town in attendance and I had taken a liking to one of them. The rally ended at 10PM, but their ride was late… so I chivalrously (and maybe selfishly) volunteered to wait with them. It was cold, but that’s ok: I let lil shorty wear my Starter jacket (and didn’t wash it for a month afterward because it smelled like her), let her sit in my dad’s Ford Escort Hatchback, and passed the time by trying to come up with the cryptic words to the chorus of “Electric Relaxation”.

“Electric Relaxation” was to 1993 as “I Need Love” was to 1987. Q-Tip was the smooth operator; Phife was the realist (I love the line: ‘I like ‘em brown, yellow, Puerto Rican, or Haitian’). Ali Shaheed Muhammad masterfully reworked Ronnie Foster’s “Mystic Brew” (played by Raphel Saadiq on the track) into an instant classic.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Old School Fridays - "During the Gunflight, We Fell In Love"

I just saw L.A. Reid in a promo spot for Simon Cowell's X-Factor. He's come a long way from The Deele.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Old School Fridays - "Now Take A Deep Breath"

I was mousing around on the web a few days ago, and came across Oaktown 3.5.7's 'Juicy Gotcha Krazy'... which featured background vocal from Angela "just be Angie" Boyd.

That got me thinking of B. Angie B.'s 'I Don't Want To Lose Your Love'. I love the horns in this remake of the Emotion's hit.

Monday, August 08, 2011

My Favorite Albums: CooleyHighHarmony

I have to give my brother credit; he was the one that originally suggested that we pool our money and buy Boyz II Men’s CooleyHighHarmony. I liked “Motownphilly”… but I wasn’t sure if I was ready to go half on an $8.99 purchase.

Lucky for me, I listened to my brother: it was probably the best music purchase I ever made.

I’m not insinuating that CooleyHighHarmony is an album that will stand the test of time; actually it sounds somewhat dated when you listen to it today. However, 1991 was a special time in my life. I was leaving middle school and heading to high school. I was just turning 14 years old and was in the throes of puberty. Coolyhighharmony (along with Jodeci’s Forever My Lady and Tevin Campbell’s T.E.V.I.N.) were the soundtrack to that time in my life.

I love just about every track from that album; however, one will always stick out: the Nathan Morris penned “Please Don’t Go” – arguably one of my favorite songs ever recorded.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

My Favorite Scores: Batman (1989)

While I loved what Christopher Nolan has done with Batman series, I still hold a special place in my heart for the 1989 Tim Burton movie. His Batman kicked off a new re-interest in comic-book inspired movies and television – with some good (Batman: The Animated Series, The Flash) and some bad (the 1990 Captain America movie).

My favorite parts of Burton’s movie are when we get to see Batman without the mask; in other words, when we can see Bruce Wayne in his true persona, without the airs he puts on to fool the general public. There are three scenes that really capture those moments:
  1. Bruce checking the tapes [watch here] – A great back-to-back view of the duality of Bruce Wayne
  2. Bruce hanging upside down [here, at the 16:45 min mark]– Ok, so maybe he’s taking the bat thing a little too seriously
  3. Bruce in Crime Alley - [start at the 3:45 minute mark below] - I'll be the first to admit that this scene has one gigantic flaw: Batman, the worlds greatest detective, doesn't realize that Vicky Vale is following him. However, if you can ignore that, then this is a great scene. There's no talking, but plenty of emoting, as Bruce Wayne (played by Michael Keaton) looks tortured over this parents death, and the life that he's adopted as a result. As stated on
[Bruce Wayne (played b Michael Keaton)] displays a full range of emotions, showcasing a man barely able to cope with his double identity. It slowly tears away at his sanity, as he tries to lead a normal life while still being an avenger of the night. 

Elfman’s soundtrack is the perfect accompaniment, displaying the full range of emotions, themes and tones portrayed throughout the film. It’s a dark reimagining of classic movie scores whilst still being entirely original. And it’s that originality that makes this so wonderful to hear.

Elfman's "Flowers of the Past" (simply titled "Flowers" on the album release) is the perfect accompaniment to the scene below. Like Bruce Wayne, it's moody, conflicted, and ultimately heroic. [Skip to the 3:45 minute mark]

Friday, August 05, 2011

Old School Fridays - "I Want To Run My Fingers Through Your Hair"

Turtleneck and suit? Check. Spastic dance moves? Check? Unibrow? Check. Then it must be a late 80's music video from Al B. Sure!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

My Favorite Scores: Carlito's Way

Last week, I blogged on the Rocky Original Motion Picture Score. That post got me thinking about how the most iconic scenes from my favorite movies are bolstered by their musical scores. Over the next few months, I’ll share a few thoughts on some of my favorite scores. First up: Carlito’s Way.

Carlito’s Way is a 1993 crime drama directed by Brian DePalma and starting Al Pacino. The three sentence summary: Carlito Brigante is an incarcerated drug dealer just freed on a technicality. Vowing to go straight, Carlito finds himself in situations where his sense of honor and loyalty pull him into law-breaking activities. Those decisions play out with dire consequences - with him ultimately losing his life, though not before he can get Gail, and his unborn child, off to safety.

I have three favorite scenes from Carlito’s Way:
  1. The ‘Where’s my cheesecake?’ scene (which is great, until the syrupy “You Are So Beautiful” is introduced)
  2. the ‘Big Time’ scene (famous for introducing the phrase ‘here come the pain’)
  3. The rooftop scene [below], where Carlito tracks down Gail, his old flame. It’s eerily reminiscent of the rooftop stalking scene in The Godfather II; however, where DeNiro’s actions are nefarious in nature, Pacino is… well, the following excerpt [from] explains it better that I can:
Spying on her ballet class from an adjacent rooftop—a scene that visually echoes Rear Window and Body Double, but trades menace for helpless romantic longing—Carlito is moonstruck. Keeping the rain off his head with a trash can lid like a knight using his shield as an umbrella, he just watches her dance; De Palma zooms closer to him and closer to her, literally removing the distance between Carlito’s memory of Gail and Gail herself.

Patrick Doyle, the score’s composer, does a bang up job with Carlito & Gail (the name of the piece in the scene). Check the scene, and the music from the score, below: