Good Music / Bad Music

Bad Music

Lavoisier – Fake Rappers

by on Nov.29, 2009, under Bad Music, Good Music, Video

I haven’t been updating during this holiday weekend, obviously. However, I can’t leave people hanging, either. And so, please enjoy this insightful lecture from Lavoisier regarding fake rappers.

It gets the rare categorization of both good music and bad music. Good for Lavoisier…bad for radio rap. Enjoy!

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The Black Eyed Peas on SNL – Seriously…What the Fuck?

by on Nov.16, 2009, under Bad Music, Video

“Must get boring for the other two guys in Black Eyed Peas. How many hours a day can one spend thinking up awkward dance moves?”
                                                —Christian Finnegan

Back in college, I used to get together with my friend, Conan, for no other reason than sharing hip hop and rap music. To be honest, he would do the majority of the sharing, and as we smoked and talked in front of a computer, I learned a lot. Most of what he shared with me has since risen to higher heights. Perhaps none as much as the Black Eyed Peas.

I bought their 1998 release, Behind the Front, within days of my introduction to them. I was drawn to them for the same reasons as Conan. They were conscious, positive and completely against materialism and hype. They were real. They were part of the good side in the balance on which rap and hip hop teetered at that time. Would it end up there, embracing something earthy, unifying and mentally evolved? Or would the whole thing collapse into a racially degenerative, socially destructive, new age Amos and Andy dressed up as a fashion show?

I think we all know what the outcome of that was. In case you are fortunate enough not to keep up with such things, I present to you exhibit A: The Black Eyed Peas on last week’s Saturday Night Live.

Okay. Maybe I’m being too much of a hater. The Black Eyed Peas are fun, right? Sure! And so is Hannah Montana. So is Britney Spears. I’m not hating on the fun. I’m pointing out the absurdity. I mean, what the fuck is this? It looks like a bunch of kids singing karaoke.

Of course, it’s not just karaoke…it’s backwards karaoke! Where in karaoke, the vocals are real and the musical accompaniment is canned, with the Black Eyed Peas, the opposite is true! There are musicians actually playing their instruments (presumably), but the vocals, if not lipsynched, are certainly autotuned. Either way, it’s completely brainless.

Why is this cool to anyone? Shouldn’t the band be in the spotlight since they are the only ones actually doing anything creative? Who are these four jackasses jumping around and blocking them from the cameras? Is this really what entertainment has devolved to? Better ask a 12 year old, I guess. I’m sure that’s what a Black Eyed Peas focus group would tell you to do.

And look at those stunning and pricey fashions. So much for being real. I guess they are the kind of “rappers” that are only against luxury, so long as they are unable to afford it. Obviously, these worries have gone away from them now…and taken with them all sense of purpose, depth and imagination. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s call a spade a spade. This is pure pop…brought to you by Dr. Pepper. Just try to find a casual snapshot of the Black Eyed Peas anywhere online. You can’t. All that exists out there is glossy, air brushed and tightly controlled PrOPaganda.

Don’t get me wrong. Music and money can be a beautiful thing together. Look at all that this combination has allowed acts like The Flaming Lips, Beck and of Montreal to throw down over the years. A part of me even wants to believe that the Black Eyed Peas really do want to be tuned into that ultracreative wavelength. But you know, it’s pretty fucking difficult to have an interest in their confetti without some kind of parade or circus to back it up.

Here is their third and final song from SNL:

Deep shit, huh?! Not at all. Not even interesting shit.

There was another song they did between these two, but I can’t find it online anywhere. This is most likely because, as hard as this may be to believe, it was even more embarrassing than the other two. “Frontman,” will.i.am, even picked up a keytar (yes a fucking keytar) and pretended to play it. Thank God he had on his big, douchebag sunglasses so we didn’t have to look him in the eyes. Now that would be awkward.

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freesoulJAH – Light Headed

by on Nov.03, 2009, under Bad Music, Good Music, mp3

light-headed_coverSo I get this email from this dude called freesoulJAH. He’s encouraging me to check out his 2007 release, Light Headed. Now I also put an album out in 2007, myself, and as far as the music reviewing business goes, that shit is dead. However, I can’t really resist mentioning this release for a couple reasons. First of all, you can download the whole thing, which is always a treat, no matter what it is. Second, I’m so conflicted on this release that it earns this strange categorization of being in both “Bad Music” and “Good Music.”

freesoulJAH signed his email to me, “with peace.” He doesn’t seem to be the kind of guy that seeks conflict, and maybe he’s trying to get on my good side in advance. I don’t know, but he doesn’t seem to be the kind of guy that deserves to have his feelings hurt either (unlike Buckcherry or Asher Roth). So though my case about this album could perhaps be more effectively made by presenting the evidence of “good music” before that of “bad music,” I’m going to cover the bad of it first. All in all, it’s because I’d rather freesoulJAH smoked his dope, read this review and came away saying, “Okay..that’s cool…that’s fair.” You know…instead of saying, “Those be some negative vibes, mon!”

I’ve got to poke a little fun at the guy though.

So okay. Bad news first. freesoulJAH initially comes across as a ridiculous stereotype and I cannot, in good conscious, argue otherwise. A visit to his website reveals a dread headed white Rastafarian looking dude. (“What does being white have to do with it, mon? Why you be such a racist? Jah’s love is for everyone!” Right?) His site decor is apparently fashioned in the colors of Ghana or the Congo, most likely. Maybe Bolivia, but I doubt it because Bolivia isn’t a very cool place to most enlightened Rasta homies.

“It takes a lot for me to really like modern reggae music,” I think to myself as I shake my head in a complete lack of faith in freesoulJAH. Then I read the titles to his music. Suddenly, a thought hits me…

“What is this crap?”

Here are but a small sample of song titles that make me sigh, roll my eyes and swear off weed forever so that I don’t ever act like this: “Peace to the People,” “Can You Feel My Love,” “Love Your Brother,” “Singing to the Birds” and the list goes on and on. (Those are just my favorite…to make fun of.) Alright! Peace and happiness and love and blah blah blah. That’s all fine and well, but can’t it be a little more poetic? A little more obscured? Of course love your brother. Of course peace to the people. Anyone that gives this album half a chance after looking at the album cover sure as shit isn’t hoping to meditate on Slayer.

What the fuck, freesoulJAH?

Okay. Then I gave this heaping pile of Jamaican wannabe shit a listen and was amazed to learn that it’s not actually a heaping pile of Jamaican wannabe shit! It’s just immensely misrepresented. Hence we move into that which makes this good music.

freesoulJAH is not another fly by night dumbass Rasta wanker and this is not a reggae album. Though everything this guy advertises is contradictory to what he actually does, he deserves some credit for throwing it back to a movement that everyone respects but few people attempt (or attempt well), the beat generation. On closer inspection, there is evidence that freesoulJAH may even be aware that this is his true niche, as he does have a song called “Next Beat Generation” tucked away among those other, more sterile titles.

Granted, his lyrics are still not all that prolific. Some of them are pretty much just the song titles repeated over and over again. Yet, I can forgive this because freesoulJAH is getting high and making shit. It’s minimal. It’s rough. It’s beat poetry…for better or for worse. That I can respect.

You listen to all this shit on the radio and you hear cookie cutter bullshit, formed to spec for the purposes of making more money and feeding more cocaine to superficial music executives. Focus groups and demographics testing can tell you that the beat in the new Miley Cyrus “song” should include a different kind of snare because children under the age of 14 will like it better. Then some guy gets in there with a computer and makes the change to make Billy Ray’s daughter a corporately constructed, achy breaky star.

Fuck all that.

I imagine freesoulJAH’s process to be something like this: He plugs his guitar and a mic in his 8 track, hits his bong a few times, then lays it the fuck down. It’s great to him because he’s stoned and his overdubs make it better. Then other people also like it because they are stoned, which is a much better reason than liking something because everyone else likes it, or because the sound is like everything else you listen to.

As for me, I’m not stoned, and I can still hang with this. Not repeatedly, mind you. Not at a party. Not in my car with a girl. But late at night, as the evening winds down and the politics of the day resonate around, it’s listenable because it’s real.

You’re a quirky dude, freesoulJAH (and “State of the Union 2007” is, like, uhhh yeah…) but as far as I’m concerned, you’re still in the cool club. Sorry for the negative vibes, mon.

Download freesoulJAH’s beatnik bullshit here. (Then burn it to a CD-R, write “New Unreleased Hannah Montana Album” on the front with a Sharpie, and give it to the nearest 12 year old girl.)

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Kanye West, How Could You be so Heartless?

by on Sep.15, 2009, under Bad Music, mp3, Video

Everybody knows about it, and here is the closest thing to it still available on youtube:

First of all, I don’t generally give a shit about any aspect of MTV, let alone their overtly metrosexual, excessive and excessively lipsynched, shitfest Video Music Awards. Their idea of good music was sold to a conglomeration of coked out CEOs a long, long time ago. So let’s be clear that the forum is insignificant. Kanye West is full of shit in any setting this could have possibly taken place in.

Taylor Swift. I have not seen her winning video and I don’t care what happens in it. I do know for a fact that she started out her career as a professional song writer with Sony AND she can actually play an instrument. Credibilitywise, this already puts her leaps and bounds above almost every other pretty face on eMpTy-V. However, even if she was as crappy as, say, Lady Caca, it’s still her damned award that she earned fair and square through backroom corporate deals. Kanye had no right…

…unless, of course his actions are a result of other backroom corporate deals. And would this surprise anyone? Look at how much attention it’s drawn to the Video Music Awards. I even heard Sean Hannity’s stupid ass talking about it. And who was on the debut episode of the Jay Leno Show the next night? Kanye! Of course! What convenient timing! It’s almost as convenient as the close-up reaction shot of Beyonce immediately after Kanye said her video was one of the best ever! (Remember…that Sacha Baron Cohen and Eminim thing was totally fixed.)

And what about Beyonce’s video for “Single Ladies?” One of the best videos ever, Kanye? I think he should of said, “one of the most underproduced and overrated videos ever.” Sure, it’s gimmick exploded all over the face of American culture, but come on. One of the best videos ever? Not even close. It’s just three girls dancing in front of a white screen. I would like to believe that one of the “best videos ever” actually took some time, perseverance and innovative cinematic artistry to conceptualize and produce. I guess it’s just one more symptom of America’s descent into mass mental retardation.

What the hell happened to this guy?

Of course, he was kind of wrong then. George Bush actually didn’t care about poor people. (He did do a few really good things for Africa during his presidency.) Regardless, at least Kanye’s opposition made sense then. How do you go from taking out your aggression on old white men who won political races under circumstances that were questionable at best, to taking out your aggression on cute, self-made, nineteen year old girls?

You know what my favorite Kanye West song is? This one.

Fuck you, gay fish.

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Exotic Birds & Nine Inch Nails shreds

by on Sep.10, 2009, under Bad Music, Video

I sincerely love everything I have ever encountered by Nine Inch Nails.  I sincerely believe that Trent Reznor is genius in the studio.  However, there are two Reznor centered clips floating around the internet that keep returning to my head for some reason.

First is this Cleveland local news interview with Trent before his discovery of fishnet arm thingies.

Okay. Maybe Exotic Birds was totally fucking awesome back in the day. According to my vantage point, however, I’m feeling a bit disturbed by the new waviness of the whole thing. Thank God for godlessness. I couldn’t imagine Trent continuing on any other way. And thank God (or some derivative thereof) for shattering his dream that was Exotic Birds.

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Also check out the Nine Inch Nails video from the “shreds” series. Anyone not familiar with “March of the Pigs” needs to know this is NOT the original audio track from this video.

nine inch nails shreds

You’ll have to click that link to watch since the guy who made it has selfishly disabled the ability to embed it from YouTube.

I’m not sure what the traditionally serious Reznor thinks of that clip, but I think it’s a hilarious antithesis of what Nine Inch Nails actually is.  Well worth a watch or two.

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Chris Brown – Douchebag Extraordinaire

by on Sep.05, 2009, under Bad Music, Video

A few nights ago, Chris Brown appeared on Larry King Live with his lawyer and his mommy.  If you can bring yourself to do it, you can watch his stupid ass here…

Okay.  Let’s discuss.

Music reviewer, Bill Lamb, hailed Brown‘s album, Exclusive, as “an admirably clean record that is unlikely to raise any fears from parents concerned about content.”

Now let’s be clear.  Chris Brown is dancing for the white man.  As a result, he’s very wealthy and also very young.  New money breeds arrogance.  And now it’s sitting in front of Larry King wearing a dumb ass baby blue bow-tie.

So he comes on the show to clear the air for beating up his pop star girlfriend, Rihanna.  Fine.  But as soon as Larry King asks him what happened that night, Brown says that he doesn’t want to talk about it…over and over again.  So why is he on the show?  (Maybe he should be doing Zack and Cody again, instead.)

We learn that this is not Brown’s first time roughing up Rihanna.  There are, in fact, two other documented situations.  The lawyer answers for those and, not surprisingly, Larry King lets him dance around it.  Ultimately, he allows Brown to dance around the entire interview.  Normally, I would think dancing is what Chris Brown does best (?) but here, it’s pathetic.

What’s his excuse?  What are his feelings on what happened with Rihanna?  Something like, “Shit was crazy!  I don’t even know!”

When King shows a video apology that Brown recorded, Brown mentions this:

“I had some help with the wording, but it was from my heart.”

Gee.  I wonder who helped him with the wording?  His publicist, perhaps?  Isn’t all of this just a thinly veiled attempt to save his career by displaying to America that he is a nonthreatening, aw-shucks, all singing, all dancing black guy – perfectly safe for the children of the white guys that he’s making all that money for? A BABY BLUE BOW-TIE.

Playing the victim, Brown and his lawyer have plenty of blame to pass around for the media, “haters/bloggers” and, in the recent issue of People magazine, Oprah Winfrey.  Yes.  Oprah Winfrey. Oprah apparently did an episode of her show about domestic violence and she dedicated it to Rihanna.  About that, Brown said this to People:

“I commend Oprah on being like, ‘This is a problem,’ but it was a slap in my face. I did a lot of stuff for her, like going to Africa and performing for her school. She could have been more helpful, like, ‘Okay, I’m going to help both of these people out.”

Wow.  He went to Africa, sang and danced, and believes that to be a burdensome favor?  What an ass…especially for someone who calls music his passion.  Most people would be grateful for such an opportunity – even as tourists, let alone performers.   Then again, most people are not Chris Brown. He’s young, wealthy and spoiled – very, very spoiled.

Now this being a music review site, I better mention something about Chris Brown’s music, which I used to have to give constant airtime to when I DJed briefly at a coked out, miserable, republican sports bar. I know it well enough to say that, just like that coked out, miserable, republican sports bar, Brown’s music can be described in the following terms:  trite, white, and culturally regressive.

Fuck you, Chris Brown.

 

Don’t give your money to Chris Brown.  Instead give it to someone who is actually saying something:

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