Friday, October 31, 2008


Alright, this is not the type of thing we usually do around here, but I know our seven or so readers will really enjoy it, and it's Halloween! And this is terrifying in some ways, but mostly just hilarious. Also because last week's guest appearance made us remember how much we miss Maya Rudolph.

Whitney Houston [SNL]

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wale Rescues "Warwick Avenue"

"Warwick Avenue," a Duffy song that in its original incarnation is perfectly nice but also perfectly boring, gets the shot in the arm it needs from Wale. Apparently it's from a new Wale/9th Wonder/LRG mixtape. via okayplayer.

Wale ft. Duffy - "Warwick Avenue" [okayplayer.]

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

MTV Does Something That Doesn't Suck

This week MTV launched, a website that does one thing and does it well: music videos, and lots of them. No commercials, no clips of Paris Hilton's BFFs. Just videos. This must be what all those old people are talking about when they complain that MTV doesn't play music anymore! There's something for everyone, but I'd recommend starting here.

MTV Music [MTV]
De La Soul - Itzsoweezee [MTV Music]

Monday, October 27, 2008

Don't Mug Yourself: Lily Allen

This new Lily Allen song was posted to her MySpace profile today. I like the beat, in fact I really love it, but the lyrics are getting more preachy with each listen. Combined with her recent fits of blogorrhea (which, it should be said, I enjoyed reading), it's making me worry that Ms. Allen's gonna hit the sophomore slump hard, with an album preachier than 10,000 Maniacs.

"Everyone's At It" [MySpace Stream]
Lily Allen's Blog [MySpace]
10,000 Maniacs - What's the Matter Here? [YouTube]

The Roots + Gym Class Heroes + Estelle, Congress Theatre, Chicago, 10.24.08

Here's my mini-review of Friday's show at the Congress Theatre in Chicago. It can also be seen on TimeOut Chicago's blog. Black Thought, please wife me.

No matter what the context, where the venue, or who they are opening or headlining for, each and every single time that I have had the privilege of seeing Philly’s finest live (Friday night’s show at the Congress Theatre being my 18th), they have delivered. And by “delivered” I don’t just mean that they sounded as good as they do on their albums, or that they had engaging stage presence, exuded flawless musicianship or improved on their recorded catalogue. By “delivered,” I mean that every time I see them, they make me understand just why it is that people make and perform music in front of a live audience in the first place. Simply put, the Roots remind me why I love live music.
Choice cuts off of their Blade Runner-esque album Rising Down (“Get Busy,” “Criminal”) were interspersed with classics from Do You Want More?!!!??! (“Proceed,” “Mellow My Man”) and Things Fall Apart (“Next Movement,” “Step into the Realm” and of course, their second most famous song, “You Got Me,” which featured the lovely Estelle, whose set I unfortunately missed, on Erykah Badu’s chorus and then it transformed into a ten minute opus at the Hendrix-like fingers of guitarist Captain Kirk, as he took over vocal duty during his face melting solo and scatted us through “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and “Who Do You Love,” before bringing us back to worrying about what club he went to with his homies) and an especially exquisite and goose bump inducing Fela Kuti tribute was performed during Rising Down’s Afrobeat inspired “I Will Not Apologize,” adding a significant amount of funk and brass (courtesy of sousaphonist and Brass Heaven alum Damon “Tuba Gooding Jr.” Bryson). As always, the J.B. like tightness of the group (which would make ?uesto either James Brown or Fred Wesley, maybe both) kept the hour and a half set rolling at a perfect pace; each song got ample and special treatment, but there were no unnecessary pauses, shout outs or unwanted insights, and the unabashed joy that this twenty-year old group has playing together could not be contained. Cholly Atkins would be damn proud of the two-step that bassist Owen Biddle, Douglas and Bryson had going on.

And oh, some group from upstate New York that Patrick Stump shit out while he was listening to a Limp Bizkit record opened.

Top left, the best picture ever taken.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Allido Records CMJ Showcase: Rhymefest Steals Ronson's Show

I listened to Mark Ronson (pictured below, left) for a long time without ever knowing who he was, what he did, or why he deserved my undying adoration. It started with the music blogs I read posting "Devil's Pie" in the run-up to the release of Rhymefest's (pictured, right) 2006 debut, Blue Collar. This was something that didn't blow my mind, exactly, but came close: here we have 'Fest rhyming over a beat that's made of the Strokes' song "Someday," with very little in the way of editing the original down. It is sad that using some early 00's indie rock as the basis of a hip hop beat could even be considered "mind blowing," but such is the state of hip hop today.

Anyway, once the album dropped later that summer, I snatched it right up. It was worth every penny--the album drips with Rhymefest's exuberant and often funny verses, and it has not left my iPod since. The emcee has an energy like few others, good natured but still street. He also has songwriting and production skills, which doesn't hurt. He's not afraid of far-flung genres, sampling the aforementioned Strokes hit, collaborating with Citizen Cope on a reworking of his tune "Bullet and A Target," and even collaborating with the then-recently deceased Ol' Dirty Bastard on a cover of "Build Me Up Buttercup," simply titled "Build Me Up."

It wasn't until a year or more later that I realized another name in the Blue Collar production credits: Executive Producer Mark Ronson. This was after I'd spent the better part of 2007 reading articles about this wunderkind producer, Ronson, producing the Lily Allen debut Alright, Still and putting the Dap Kings in the same studio as Amy Winehouse and having the masterpiece that is Back to Black emerge (say what you will about Winehouse's trials and tribulations--the fact is that album holds up). Not to denigrate Rhymefest in any way--he's a production powerhouse in his own right and has a Grammy to prove it--but it looked like there may have been more at work on Blue Collar than I thought. Ronson's got the eclectic taste that hip hop, and for that matter soul, R&B, rock, and pop needs these days.

It was with all this in mind that I frantically bought tickets to see the Allido Records CMJ showcase at S.O.B.'s this week (Allido is Mark Ronson's boutique record label). The show was on Tuesday night, and the bill was too good to be true, if a bit misleading: Rhymefest, Wale (another Allido emcee), new signing the Rumble Strips (UK chamber rock, but it was hard to tell), Daniel Merriweather, the Dap Kings, and a DJ set by Ronson himself.

We got to the club and waited for about an hour through a DJ set by... not Mark Ronson. Whoever was spinning, he was pretty good, mostly older hip hop stuff with some newer cuts as well. Then Mr. Allido himself took the stage, introducing "the first act we ever signed," Rhymefest. Fest took us through an exciting but all too short set, playing for no more than twenty minutes. The set included a stripped down version of "More," with Fest regaling us with an a cappella, almost stand-up version of that song's best verse ("This mano a mano, how you gonna catch mono from a girl that work at McDonald's?"). He also brought living legend Rahzel on stage for some impressive beatboxing, teasing us that the two of them want to go on tour together. Before the set was over, Fest performed "Ain't No Sunshine," the song from Man in the Mirror that, like every song on that album, samples Michael Jackson, but in a nod to the family affair vibe of the showcase, remixed the cover version of that song by Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, adding another layer of homage to a song that was already Rhymefest riffing on Michael Jackson riffing on Bill Withers. All in all, a fantastic set. I only wish it were longer, to say nothing of the fact that Rhymefest was the first opener. But it was hard to complain after seeing such a strong performance from one of my favorite artists working today. Oh, and there was an Obama rap. Total package, as far as I'm concerned.

Next up was the Rumble Strips, a new band from some crazy land called "England" that have just signed to Allido. They seem to take a page from the Arcade Fire book of swapping instruments, or dropping them altogether from time to time. The songs, however, had a much more straightforward tilt to them. The highlight of this set was a cover of Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black," a somber march of a tune in the hands of the Rumble Strips. I'll be watching this band to see what comes from them, because their set was quite enjoyable.

Next up was Daniel Merriweather and the Dap Kings. What to say about Mr. Merriweather? He's a perfectly competent British soul singer, known mostly (to me, anyway) from appearances on various Mark Ronson projects, such as "Stop Me," the Smiths cover on last year's Version album (a record of covers where Ronson had the Dap Kings play on almost every track to great effect), or spots on Fest's Man in the Mirror mixtape, also produced by Ronson. What made the set for me was the Dap Kings, who can take any artist and move them from the "just okay" into the "fucking marvelous" just by playing behind them. Bugs Bunny could win a Grammy if he sang in front of the Dap Kings (in fact, this is exactly what Ronson's plan for Winehouse was, and now she's got a... oh, nevermind). So the set was great, though it never reached the transcendent levels that the Dap Kings tap into with their permanent lead singer/powerhouse, Sharon Jones.

Here I must admit that after the Dap Kings played, I bailed. From most accounts (though not all), Wale played a pretty good set with DC go-go band UCB backing him up. Ronson never played his DJ set, from what I heard from my friends who stayed, and whispers in the crowd of "Amy Winehouse is the special guest" were, unfortunately, never confirmed. This show was far from perfect, but its family vibe and strong lineup made it one of the most memorable I've seen in a long time. Hit up the links below for more on the Allido Family.

Allido Records [MySpace...official site currently under construction]
Mark Ronson Presents Rhymefest in The Man in the Mirror [Legal Download, click to start]
Rhymefest [MySpace]
The Rumble Strips [MySpace]
The Dap Kings [Daptone Records]
Daniel Merriweather [MySpace]

Friday, October 17, 2008

Different Meaning Since You Been Gone: Levi Stubbs, R.I.P.

Levi Stubbs, lead singer of the Four Tops, passed away today. He was 72. One of the most iconic voices of the crossover soul movement headed up by Motown, Stubbs will always be a singular voice in pop music.

There's not much to be said in this space that hasn't been said already in obituaries all over the place. The New York Times has a particularly good one--did you know that the Four Tops originally signed to Chess Records in 1954, as jazz singers rather than the pop group they became when they were signed to Motown? It was there that Berry Gordy put them to work with the Holland-Dozier-Holland songwriting team and the group we know today took shape.

A soul music legend will be greatly missed.

Because YouTube didn't have any decent "Bernadette" videos:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

If you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it.

Much buzz (i.e. hating) has been circulating the internets about Mrs. Hov's upcoming double-disc release (titled I Am Beyoncé and I Am Sasha, set to drop November 18th) and her latest video clip for "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)."

Among the charges: B ripped off Bob Fosse (did anyone think to ask if the homage was on purpose? And as idolator points out, Fosse is not the only one who has been ripped off, I mean, imitated, in the world of music videos), B's bad girl alter-ego Sasha (who made her TV "debut" during the sizzling B/Prince duet at the 2004 Grammy Awards) could be akin to Garth Brooks' Chris Gaines (I won't even entertain that), B's website Who Is Sasha Fierce? is a poor choice for album hyping (don't get me started on how tame that is in comparison to most musicians' album hyping bullshit) and B is not progressing as an artiste, because "Single Ladies" sounds like "Get Me Bodied," one of the many solid gold hits off of B'Day (uh, the songs both have hand clap heavy beats and are up tempo dance jams, how terrible).

As those closest to me know, I consider Ms. Knowles to be the perfect example of the consummate performer: she can sing, she can write, she can produce, she can dance, she can act (decently enough anyways, and I am eager to see how she does in the upcoming Chess Records biopic Cadillac Records, where she stars as Etta James) she has class, she isn't a trifling gossip monger and above all, she entertains the shit out of her audience. There have been missteps (the video for "Check On It" comes to mind, it looked like a Playtex ad, "Cater 2 U" set back women's rights a few decades, but she redeemed herself with "Ring the Alarm" and before you say anything, her mother's poor wardrobe choices for Destiny's Child don't count as mistakes), but overall, her decade long career has been for the most part, enviable. Especially her solo career. But I am not all hot and bothered because I adore Beyoncé and am blind to her artistic short comings. I am annoyed because critics and general naysayers alike are missing the point. Fools are saying a double album could possibly "derail" her career and that it's a terrible decision. I'm sorry, what? Since when was taking a risk tantamount to ending your otherwise solid career? In my mind, Beyoncé is one of the last true pop stars standing: she respects the context in which she came from (Tina Turner, Diana Ross etc.) she is innovative ("Crazy in Love" uses the most bad ass horn sample of all time, from day one as a solo artist she was bringing the heat) she is sexy without being straight up foul (I mean, who else could make a song about their pussy and sound as sweet and catchy as B?) and she has a sense of humility and humor. All in all, she gives these little biddies a run for their pop star money. But all of a sudden, she wants to do a split personality project and her name's as good as Taylor Dayne's. So far, the two tracks that have been released, the aforementioned "Single Ladies" and the infidelity ballad "If I Were A Boy" (I imagine a lot of the ballads will be along the lines of the beautiful and somewhat disturbing "Resentment," B'Day's closer) have not unimpressed me in the slightest, and in fact, "Single Ladies" is my life. Watch the video and tell me she isn't having the most fun out of anybody making pop music right now. How much more fucking sassy can you get with a chorus that goes "if you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it"? It's also a return to the straight up dance video. Just style for days: three chicks, black and white film, high cut leotards, stilettos and Bridget Bardot hair. And she's all sweaty and out of breathe at the end, laughing. This shit is some of the best self-esteem boosting post-relationship drama music out there, and if I Am Sasha is filled with "Freakum Dresses" and more "who the fuck you think you are, you ain't got it like that" anthems then sign me the fuck up. Girl, you my hero.

Sasha takes over, below.

Everything is Boring.

British hip hop is something that not everybody gets. To a lot of Americans, it's not even something that exists. For some reason people find it hard to take an English accent seriously when it's spitting rhymes. I can't say why this is, but I know this much: Mike Skinner, who is the one-man-band that is The Streets, is the epitome of this effect. Not making any attempt to sound tough or even vaguely from the streets, Skinner's rhymes are something I'd call pub rap. In any case, he's managed to craft a handful of really enjoyable records.

The Streets' fourth full-length, Everything is Borrowed, dropped last week. It continues the trajectory established by the first three Streets LPs: as Mike Skinner develops a more adept understanding of pop hooks, his lyrics seem to get stupider and stupider. "I want to go to heaven for the weather/Hell for the company" is a fine lyric, I suppose, but when used as the central refrain of a song and repeated roughly 200 times in a song ("Heaven for the Weather") it becomes a bit grating. And this is a shame since the song's beat is one of the most appealing of his career.

The worst part about this record is that the above is the most interesting thing I can think of to say about it. It's not bad, really, I didn't need to turn it off immediately or anything, but there wasn't a song that grabbed me on the whole thing. Yes, the production sounds better than it ever has, continuing to improve on what Skinner did on his previous LP, 2006's The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living. I for one never tire of the hard, cutting beats that Skinner crafts. But this record is still a snoozefest. There's none of the sharp with that made his 2002 debut, Original Pirate Material so much fun, or the intricate storytelling that he proved himself capable of on 2004 Pirate follow-up A Grand Don't Come for Free, one of the best hip hop concept albums to date. But on Borrowed, Mike seems to have run out of things to say. Maybe it's time for him to take a crack at producing tracks for another artist.

The Streets [myspace]

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Recording Live from Somewhere...

Hello Everybody, and thanks for coming.

Welcome to Two Day Old Shit, a new music and arts blog that we've been working on for a few months now. Your bloggers here are two writers with varying levels of employment and varying interests in music journalism. Formerly located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, they've both moved back to their hometowns, with Ben back in New York and Isabelle holding it down in Chicago. This ish is bi-coastal if you count Lake Michigan. We're not sure where this blog will go, but we're starting out with at least two posts a week (maybe more) focusing mainly on music. It can be popular music, it can be underground music, it can be something one of us heard in a commercial or blaring from a passing car. As the name implies, this blog will have less to do with finding the newest, buzziest band and instead focus on quality. This may mean that you will be reading quite a bit about Isabelle's Holy Trinity: the Father (Marvin Gaye), the Son (Prince) and the Holy Ghost (D'Angelo). This could also mean that 3 Feet High and Rising gets more mention than Tha Carter III. Classic, postmodern, next level, retro, current, 4 minutes ago, it doesn't matter. If it makes us feel real good inside, if it makes us feel like dancing, if it moves us, if it makes us go "ooooooooooweeee," than we're going to write about it, regardless of what other heatseeking tastemaking sites around the web might do. Mostly, we will write about soul revival hero Duffy*. In this virtual land of mp3 blogs, news aggregators, social networks and video journals, 2DOS is a humble attempt at a return to classic music journalism: writing about music.

If you have any material that you would like us to hear, read, watch and consider, please get in touch via email (link in sidebar) and we'll be happy to pass along our addresses.

Respectfully and sincerely yours,
Isabelle and Ben

*That was a joke. We plan to write plenty of posts underlining the damage that we see her hypothetically causing to the pop music landscape should she be allowed.

You Down with O.P.P.?

Tonight was the fifth installment of Vh1’s Hip Hop Honors. Tracy Jordan a.k.a. Tracy Morgan (oh wait, it’s the other way around) hosted, and his jokes about family court and baby mamas kept Treach and company rolling in the aisles. Which was a good thing, because the Hip Hop Honors, and music induction ceremonies in general, rarely bring the funk. The hardest working band in show business, the Roots, played house band again, although combined with all the DJs on stage and the general jive turkey that is televised performances, their efforts went fairly unnoticed (which unfortunately, they are used to). This year gave nods to Cypress Hill (seriously), De la Soul, Slick Rick, Too $hort, Naughty by Nature and Isaac Hayes, whose contributions to hip-hop were vast to say the very least.

Highlights included Michael Rapaport, a.k.a. Mr. Hood Pass, introducing De la Soul and revealing that he had named his son Maseo, Vin from Naughty by Nature hollering “girl you look GOOD” to Eve while she paid homage to the Ruler, Slick Rick (he’s right though, girl is THICK) and Cee-Lo crooning “The Look of Love” as Mos Def rhymed, “who the fuck is this? Pagin’ me at 5:46 in the mornin’ crack a dawnin’…” over the Roots instrumentation. Major bummers included Kid Rock’s trashy ass paying respects to Too $hort, Flavor Flav being invited (Chris Rock is right, that fool needs to be taken OUT), Travis McCoy’s skanky mug in my face acting like he’s somebody and Wyclef Jean bringing out his guitar and strumming “No Woman, No Cry” during the Naughty by Nature finale (no wonder Lauryn went crazy). The night’s best wardrobe choice is top right. Obviously.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Never Go Pop

Madvillainy is one of the albums that really opened my eyes to how stale and unimaginative a lot of hip hop is. Now, that's not the point of the album, it's more of a side effect. The record is one of the strangest I've ever heard, in any genre. The beats still move, though, and the lyrics contain substance of a sort that I'm sorry to say is rare these days. It's a record that proves that it doesn't have to be the same old thing all the time in the genre of hip hop, even if that's what we're given most of the time.

Not only does this album have my favorite song of all time about getting high ("America's Most Blunted"), it also exposed me for the first time to two of my favorite artists of all time.
Madvillainy is the first and, up until now, only LP-length collaboration between producer Madlib and emcee MF Doom (he of the metal mask and Dr. Doom career motif). Since hearing Madvillainy, I've spent the better part of the last five years tracking down different Madlib projects, side and otherwise. There's his collection of albums of beats, released under the name Beat Konducta (Vol. 3-4, Beat Konducta in India, is particularly good). There's Quasimoto, Madlib's chipmunk-esque psychedelia project. And let's not forget Lootpack, Madlib's more straightforward hip hop group from the late 90's. This really just scratches the surface, and is to say nothing of all the production he does for other artists (Q-Tip and Erykah Badu released songs produced by Mad in the last year). Oh, and he finds time to run a label, Stones Throw, which can hook you up with almost all of this work.

Rumors have been swirling pretty much since Madvillainy came out of a followup collabo. Trying not to get my hopes up, I never really believed it. Doom and Madlib are both constantly dreaming up new, usually codenamed side projects (Doom's Dangerdoom with Dangermouse, or Mad's Jaylib with J. Dilla) to keep themselves busy. Plus, there's also what I'd call the "one album effect," where an album is so much more valuable for not having any others before or after it. Look at the Sex Pistols or Black Star.

Well, I still don't think a followup will ever arrive. But this summer Stones Throw released a sequel of sorts. Madvillainy 2: The Madlib Remixes envisions Madvillainy as it would sound if it were produced by... uh... Madlib. Okay, fine, that doesn't make sense, but it doesn't need to. Some people have been calling this a fans-only release, and that's exactly what it comes across as: a small thank you token from Mad to all his loyal fans. This album isn't essential like the original Madvillainy, but it succeeds by being even more nutso than the original and reflecting just what Madlib is into these days. If you want to see if Madlib's production is up your alley, grab Madvillainy, a Quasimoto album (they're all great) or one of his mixtapes. But if you enjoy what Madlib puts out there already, do yourself a favor and grab what amounts to a concept mixtape . You can look at it as a cynical move to sell copies of a throwaway recording, but you'd to much better to see it as Madlib letting the fans in on a private project of his own. Let's hope this starts a trend.

I'll leave you with a classic vid from the original Madvillainy. If you don't want to hear more after this, I don't think you're reading the right blog. "All Caps":