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JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Album of the Day 10/15/11

As we do pretty much every day, our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues all the way to #1. Saturday’s album was #473:

Public Enemy – Apocalypse 91: The Enemy Strikes Black

The iconic conscious hip-hop group followed up the erratic Fear of a Black Planet with this erudite, entertaining, snarling, politically-charged 1991 lyrical masterpiece. Although many of the references here are necessarily of its Bush I/first Gulf War era time, the criticism is timeless: the anti-racist broadside A Letter to the NY Post; the haunting, murderous By the Time I Get to Arizona (directed at then-governor Fyfe Symington, who abolished the MLK holiday there), the equally ferocious How to Kill a Radio Consultant; the cynical More News at 11; the bitter, eerie outsider anthem Get the Fuck Out of Dodge; and an antidrug/antibooze rant, 1 Million Bottlebags. But there’s plenty of upbeat stuff too: anthems like Nighttrain, Can’t Truss It, Flava Flav’s unusually pissed-off I Don’t Wanna Be Called Yo Nigga, the deliriously powerful Shut Em Down and an early rap-metal number, the band’s remake of the classic Bring Tha Noise, recorded with Brooklyn nu-metalheads Anthrax. Here’s a random torrent.

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October 16, 2011 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rap music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Album of the Day 3/15/11

Every day, our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues all the way to #1. Tuesday’s album is #686:

Ice-T – The Iceberg: Freedom of Speech…Just Watch What You Say

Before Ice-T was the leader of a metal band, or a character actor specializing in cop roles, he antagonized them with his lyrics – which were usually brilliant. This 1989 album by the self-styled “inventor of the crime rhyme” is the highlight of his rap career. It opens with a long, Orwellian Jello Biafra spoken-word piece over a Black Sabbath sample. The rest of the album mixes the verbal gymnastics of the title track and Hit the Deck with crime rhymes like the ominous drive-by scenario Peel Their Caps Back and the rapidfire, desperate Hunted Child, the hilarious The Girl Tried to Kill Me and the ferocious, antagonistic, politically spot-on This One’s for Me. The only dud here is an interminable party rap with one forgettable cameo after another. Here’s a random torrent via fromthaold2thanew.

March 15, 2011 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rap music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Album of the Day 3/11/11

Every day, our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues all the way to #1. Friday’s album is #690:

Ice Cube – Death Certificate

Hmm…how do we follow the subtle urbanity of Chet Baker? With this cruelly obscene 1991 golden-age hip-hop classic. Ice Cube may be best known as the goofy guy from the Friday movies, but he was one of the world’s most formidable lyricists before Hollywood came calling and he gave it up. Time after time, Ice Cube gets it. Whatever was happening that year, he nails it. Black girl killed by bodega owner who thought she was stealing memorialized in Black Korea. Young black guys turning to crime since corporate America won’t hire them? A Bird in the Hand. Cops who’d rather watch a guy bleed to death in the hospital than solve a crime? Alive on Arrival. One of the best anti-Bush I numbers, I Wanna Kill Sam, lots of hilarious comedy stuff like Givin’ Up the Nappy Dug Out, Look Who’s Burnin’ and the high school reminiscence Doing Dumb Shit along with the vicious dis No Vaseline, aimed at his old NWA bandmates since he felt they’d sold out. Here’s a random torrent.

March 12, 2011 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rap music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Album of the Day 2/15/11

Every day, our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues all the way to #1. Tuesday’s album is #714:

Apache – Apache Ain’t Shit

Raw to the extreme, Apache’s only album, from 1994, is typical of so many promising hip-hop artists from the era: signed and then abruptly dumped when their labels realized how difficult it was to move serious weight – in terms of records, that is. And that was 17 years ago. The gleefully crude single that won him notoriety and made him a target of the goody-goody anti-rap crowd was Gangsta Bitch, ostensibly a prime example of hip-hop misogyny. Ironically, Apache generously gave some choice cameos on this album to female rapper Nikki D, including the tongue-in-cheek Tonto and the perversely amusing Who Freaked Who. Otherwise, he was a man of his time, whether with the irresistibly hilarious Blunted Snap Session, the street hustler numbers Make Money – a Biggie ripoff – Get Ya Weight Up and Ways of a Murderahh, the cynical Do Fa Self and the brutally sarcastic title track. There’s also a seventeen-second rant that earned him slightly less controversy when the right wingers branded him an anti-white racist – although it’s likely that he had more white fans than black ones. Apache died in 2010. Here’s a random torrent.

February 16, 2011 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rap music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Album of the Day 2/11/11

Every day, our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues all the way to #1. Friday’s album is #718:

The Alkaholiks – 21 and Over

This album might as well be called 21 and Under: it was a rite of passage for high school and college kids back in the 90s, and still keeps the party going when everybody’s half in the bag. Back in 1993, when everybody else was rapping about pot, these California “hip-hop drunkies” carved out a niche for themselves with some of the funniest drinking songs in recent memory. What’s most impressive is that nobody stumbles, nobody slurs their words, and the rhymes are as sophisticated as anything coming out of the East Coast at the time. And they were great in concert. The big hit was Only When I’m Drunk, whose catalog of drunken misadventures is more cautionary tale than boast. But with the opening cut, Likwit and Last Call, they definitely have the beer goggles on. Can’t Tell Me Shit, and Bullshit, are where the booze gets into the muscles. Ganja finally makes an appearance on an update of the Rick James hit Mary Jane, where it’s obvious that the crew have no objection to other types of intoxication. Not the deepest album out there, but it’s also not stupid. Their two other albums, Coast II Coast and Likwidation are also worth a spin. Much of this is streaming at myspace (but be careful, you have to reload the page after each song or else you’ll be assaulted by a loud audio ad). Here’s a random torrent.

February 11, 2011 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rap music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Album of the Day 1/11/11

Tons of new stuff in the pipeline: Winter Jazzfest, gypsy music downtown and a great album by an Iraqi freedom fighter. In the meantime, as we do every day our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues, all the way to #1. Tuesday’s is #749:

Immortal Technique – Revolutionary Vol. 2

Pretty much what you would expect from a lyrical genius with an awareness of the world around him. Immortal Technique gets universal props for his style, but nobody casts as wide a net and brings in so much knowledge. This is his 2003 response to 9/11 and the terror of the Bush regime. The Cause of Death is the most spot-on critique issued by any musician since that time, Freedom of Speech re-emphasizes the CIA-Bin Laden connection and Bush’s crackdown on human rights that followed, and Leaving the Past drives the point home yet again: “Humanity’s gone in a gravity bong done by a Democrat/Republican Cheech and Chong.” “Immortal Technique is poison to the Patriot Act,” he snarls on The Point of No Return, a crystal-clear portrait of a world gone forever. Peruvian Cocaine sympathetically explores the world of the terrorized peasants who make the stuff (Tech has no sympathy for the drug lords). The Message and the Money and Industrial Revolution are two of the funniest and most apt critiques of the music industry ever written; Crossing the Boundary equates cultural imperialism on the part of American multinationals with the corporate hijacking of rap. The 4th Branch is a slam at the corporate media; Harlem Streets and Internally Bleeding paint a surreal picture of the everyday horrorshow in impoverished America. Mumia Abu-Jamal also guests eloquently on a couple of tracks including Homeland and Hip-Hop: “Do you think duct tape and color codes will make you safer?” Is this the greatest rap album ever made? One of them, anyway. Here’s a random torrent.

January 11, 2011 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rap music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Album of the Day 11/3/10

Every day our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues all the way to #1. Wednesday’s album is #818:

2Pac – 2Pacalypse Now

2Pac’s 1992 debut album was not a commercial success, in fact, it would be another couple of years before he’d release another one. This one’s aged awfully well. He wasn’t yet the effortless lyrical stylist he’d become by the time Strictly 4 My Niggaz hit in 1994, but he also wasn’t slinging ganja-fueled nonsense like he did on the Makavalli albums and all the outtakes that were released posthumously. The bare-bones production puts his wrathful rhymes here front and center. Tupac Shakur may have presented a goofball personality offstage, but in front of the mic, or on a movie set, he was dead serious, fearless, unrepentant and mad as hell. The jokes are grim, the humor is black, and the disses are murderous. The titles are pretty much dead giveaways: socially provocative stuff like Young Black Male, Trapped, and Soulja’s Story; the high point of the album, I Don’t Give a Fuck, the original of the bitterly prophetic Brenda’s Got a Baby and gangsta stuff like The Lunatic. Like two of his lyricist colleagues from back in the day, Ice Cube and Ice-T, his rapping started to take a back seat to his film career; too bad we’ll never know what else this multi-talented guy could have done. RIP. Here’s a random torrent.

November 2, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rap music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Album of the Day 10/7/10

Every day our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues all the way to #1. Thursday’s album is #845:

Kool G Rap and DJ Polo – Wanted: Dead or Alive

One of the most successful lyricists to come up out of Marley Marl’s legendary Juice Crew posse, Kool G Rap’s machine-gun rhymes vividly chronicled a city gone wild, crack dealers (and pretty much everybody else) pitted against the cops, the drama played out before a backdrop of crushing poverty and the fatalism that goes with it. Kool G Rap didn’t exactly romanticize it, either, whether in the rapidfire cinematography of this 1990 album’s opening track, Streets of New York, the gangster swagger of the title cut or Money in the Bank, the bluntly confrontational Erase Racism (with cameos from Big Daddy Kane and Biz Markie) or the hilarious but cruelly cynical Talk Like Sex and Rikers Island. His slurred, blunted delivery was a big influence on both Nas and Biggie Smalls; his third and final album with DJ Polo, Live and Let Die, from 1992, is also worth owning, as is his 1996 solo debut, 4,5,6. Over the years, he’s managed to maintain commercial success without straying from his generally harsh, unsentimental vision of urban life. You can take a gangster off the street, but you can’t take the street off the gangster. Here’s a random torrent.

October 6, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rap music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Album of the Day 9/3/10

Every day, we count down the 1000 best albums of all time all the way to #1. Friday’s album is #879:

2 Live Crew – Live in Concert

The first-ever live hip-hop album, it’s an urban supremacist’s wet dream, an all-white audience of Arizona college kids rapping along with every filthy lyric, frequently drowning out the group onstage: “Face down, ass up, that’s the way we like to fuck.” This may seem pretty tame by teens standards but at the time the album came out in 1990, it was radical. As with the Dead Kennedys, the right wing had tried to put the group out of business with an expensive obscenity trial after witnessing the explosive popularity of the 1989 album As Nasty As They Want to Be. But the rappers won the case, and this is their response, a bigot’s worst nightmare. Neither Luke, the group’s leader, nor his sidekicks Brother Marquis or Fresh Kid Ice, could ever rap worth a damn, but their puerile sex jokes, and ability to get the totally crunk crowd to respond to them, are often hilarious despite themselves. This has all the band’s hits from the period: Me So Horny; Face Down Ass Up; We Want Some Pussy; If You Believe in Having Sex; The Fuck Shop; Brother Marquis’ completely inept Throw the D, and the Springsteen ripoff/parody Banned in the USA. There are a lot of torrents out there and many that appear to be for this album are in fact other concerts (which are often very funny themselves): this one appears to be the real deal.

September 3, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rap music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Song of the Day 3/8/10

The best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues every day, all the way to #1. Monday’s song is #143:

The Coup – Underdogs

No other song as succinctly and accurately captures the raw desperation of inner city poverty as well as this Clinton-era classic from the Oakland hip-hop crew’s 1999 cd Steal This Album. “I’d tear this shit up if I really loved you – and so would you.”

March 8, 2010 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment