Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

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.

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March 15, 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

Song of the Day 5/12/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Tuesday’s song is #442:

Body Count – Cop Killer

Over a melody that very cleverly quotes Los Angeles by X, future tv character actor Ice-T talks justice and revenge in the wake of the Rodney King scandal, 1992. The right-wing backlash was so vitriolic that the label caved in, recalled the album and reissued it without the track; copies from the era are a collector’s item (we have one). Mp3s are everywhere.

May 11, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 2/11/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Wednesday’s is #532:

Boogie Down Productions – Bo! Bo! Bo!

Three years before Body Count did Cop Killer, KRS-One wrote this triumphant hip-hop anthem about a black kid out minding his own business and then having to deal with a homicidal, racist cop. From the 1989 cd Ghetto Music: The Blueprint of Hip-Hop.

February 11, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 12/2/08

The top 666 songs of alltime countdown continues, one day at a time all the way to #1. Tuesday’s is #602:

NWA – Fuck the Police

This one you know, it’s a rite of passage, a staple of every 13-year-old boy’s playlist, but when it came out in 1988 it was just short of revolutionary. Straight Outta Compton wasn’t the first gangsta rap album (that was Ice-T’s first one), but it’s probably the best and this is what got them in so much trouble (and sold them so many records), Ice Cube, Eazy-E and Dr. Dre all determined to piss off as many people as possible and succeeding brilliantly. MP3s are at all the usual sites although the vinyl version sounds best, especially if you have a system with good bass boost.

December 2, 2008 Posted by | Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review from the Archives: Onyx/Ice-T/Public Enemy at the Ritz, NYC 11/23/92

Long, hot, memorable, political show, the 90s version of what a Pistols/Clash double bill must have been. Onyx opened, ominously, with two female rappers joining them onstage. Their biggest hit with the crowd was the audience-participation hit Throw Ya Gunz. House of Pain followed, turning the venue into just that, doing to rap what Pat Boone did to R&B. As could be expected, the 90%-white audience loved them. Ice-T, however, was a blast, a razor-sharp intellect at work trying to galvanize white support for what amounts to nothing less than a revolution. As in dancehall, the trend in live rap is to truncate the songs so as to fit as many into the set as possible, and Ice-T did his best to oblige: Iceberg, Peel Their Caps Back, Drama and Word all received this treatment. Full length jams he did included O.G. Original Gangster, You Played Yourself, I Ain’t New to This and his closer, the theme from the movie New Jack Hustler. High point of the night: he asks the audience, “Am I up here to tell you to overthrow the government [sparse applause]? No. Am I trying to get you to go out and kill your mother [more applause]? No.  Do I want you to go out and kill a cop [massive appause]? No. We just wanna get butt naked and fuck!” he yelled, and proceeded with LGBNAF in its entirety.

Public Enemy followed with an exhausting and exhaustive performance, playing until both Chuck and Flav were hoarse and everybody was more than ready to head for the subway. Their set was mostly newer material, including a full-length version of I Gotta Do What I Gotta Do along with short versions of Night Train, Bring the Noise, Hit the Road Jack and Burn Hollywood Burn. They took the sound effects off several numbers including the controversial, excoriating Welcome to the Terrordome, the iconic Fight the Power and the murderously anti-redneck By the Time I Get to Arizona, giving Chuck’s lyrics the opportunity to strike with maximum impact. Chuck eventually tired and left things to Flav, who with clock on a chain around his neck provided 911 Is a Joke, Yo Nigga and NY Post. They finally closed the show after 2 AM with full-length if tired versions of Who Stole the Soul, Shut Em Down and Can’t Trust It. It was all that.

[postscript: who would have thought in 1992 that in fifteen years’ time, Ice-T would be best known not for singlehandedly inventing gangsta rap, but for his work as a tv and film actor typecast as an undercover cop! – ed.]

November 24, 2007 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Concert Review from the Archives: Canibus at Tramps, NYC 9/17/98

Got there on time, about quarter after nine. By the time I got inside (mega frisking – no great surprise, after all: this was a hip-hop show), McGruff was finishing up. He didn’t embarrass himself – it seems that Canibus is choosy about who rides with him. Surprisingly, the crowd wasn’t as energized as it usually is for hip-hop at this venue (one of the few in town south of 125th St. that’s willing to book rap at all). Canibus came on shortly therafter and delivered only a 30-minute set – the advantage for those who came out tonight was that nobody had to stand on the accursed floor here long enough for their feet to hurt). Although Canibus only has one album under his belt, he’s already in the upper echelon of rap lyricists. He also has a stage presence I’ve only seen in a few hip-hop artists: Chuck D, Ice-T and KRS-One. To drive home his talent, much of his show was just him rapping without any backing tape or support whatsoever: he’d do a verse, then they’d turn the DAT on again, then there’d be a pause (“Yo yo yo….”), then on with the show. His most impressive bit was a freestyle: again, without the DAT running. Other high points of the night were the acerbic, politically-charged Nigganometry from the new album, and then, predictably, his monster hit Second Round Knockout, to close the show. Mike Tyson didn’t show up to contribute anything. The sound was fantastic: you could hear every word, and the backing tape was pleasantly low in the mix, mostly low, computerized bass rather than the trebly, feedback-prone screech that it usually is here for rap shows. It’s unlikely that someone this talented and bound for stardom will be doing any more appearances at such a relatively small venue.

September 17, 2007 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment