Lucid Culture

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.

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

Album of the Day 1/27/11

Every day our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues, all the way to #1. Thursday’s album is #733:

Naughty By Nature – Poverty’s Paradise

Ever now and then we feature something on this list that was popular nationwide: this 1995 smash (it made the Billboard top ten, for what that was worth) is one of them. Best known for their comedic 1989 hit O.P.P. (i.e. Other People’s Parts – the joke is that you can change the last “P” according to gender), this tight and amusing crew put New Jersey on the map for hip-hop during the golden age. This one perfectly balances hook-driven hits with surprisingly complex, pensive narratives about ghetto solidarity and survival through hard times – the title, and the brief narrative on the album, reflect that. The big party anthem is Clap Yo Hands; the drug-slinging ghetto entrepreneurs are represented on City of Ci-Lo, Hang out and Hustle, Slang Bang and Klickow-Klickow. Feel Me Flow, a huge radio hit, is a homage to technical excellence that lives up to its boasts; Craziest is an irresistibly catchy shout-out to fans around the world. The strongest and most memorable tracks here are the conscious ones: Holdin’ Fort, the suprisingly bitter, spot-on Chain Remains and the wry World Go Round. Here’s a random torrent.

January 27, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 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

In Memoriam: Guru

Guru (an acronym for Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal), the iconic, paradigm-shifting founder and rapper of hip-hop legends Gang Starr and creator of hip-hop jazz died yesterday after spending much of the previous two months in a coma following a heart attack. He was 43. Born Keith Elam in Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1966, Guru founded Gang Starr in 1987 and released a handful of singles that achieved enough regional success to catch the attention of New York DJ Premier. In 1989, Guru and Premier released their landmark first album No More Mr. Nice Guy, followed by five others, the last, The Ownerz, in 2003. One of the originators of the East Coast hardcore style, Guru’s hard-edge, rapidfire, syncopated delivery matched the uncompromising seriousness of his lyrics. Particularly critical of what he felt was a drift in hip-hop toward popstar meaninglessness, Guru remained relevant and true to his origins even as he celebrated his own achievements as a wordsmith on joints like Check the Technique, Take It Personal and Code of the Streets.

In 1993, in the wake of the duo’s finest album Daily Operation, Guru teamed up with a diverse crew of jazz artists including Branford Marsalis, Donald Byrd and Ramsey Lewis to release the first of his four Guru Presents: Jazzmatazz series of albums, showcasing jazz improvisation over a hip-hop beat while taking a somewhat more lighthearted lyrical approach than he took with Gang Starr. The final Jazzmatazz album was released in 2007. Guru also released two solo albums during the decade. He is survived by a son. His longtime collaborator Solar (no relation to the French hip-hop artist MC Solaar, whose career he springboarded here in the US) released a controversial posthumous letter ostensibly written by the rapper distancing himself from DJ Premier, with whom he had split after the duo’s final album together seven years ago.

April 20, 2010 Posted by | Music, music, concert, obituary, rap music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment