Archive for December, 2008

Now you can listen to my playlists!

December 21, 2008

Check out my new page on 8tracks, a cool website where members can create and share playlists.

So far I’ve only finished the Back 2 school mix from September, but I hope to put in more soon.

8tracks is pretty easy to use, but has some quirky features due to the legal restrictions of sharing music online.


Five feet from the Jeanius herself

December 13, 2008

On 6th Avenue between 8th and 9th Streets, there’s a small sign for Fat Beats record store, which is up a narrow staircase above the storefronts. I’ve walked on that block countless times without noticing it.

dsc011691Half an hour before the show is to start, there were still only about ten people in the store, which is only about the size of my apartment. We waited around, browsing the albums. It’s all hip hop, and mostly vinyl. It’s cool that this place is still in business, at a time when even Tower Records can’t stay afloat.

The place filled up quickly, and after a while we were all standing shoulder to shoulder and starting to sweat. My umbrella was still wet, my legs and back were starting to hurt, and besides the expectant crowd, there was still no sign of a show starting anytime soon. I was beginning to wish I hadn’t come.

Then DJ Evil Dee came in the door, unannounced (at least to us). After greeting some staff people like old friends, he hopped into the DJ booth and started spinning on the electronic turntables. With each new beat he put on, the crowd bobbed their heads in appreciation, and chatted excitedly with each other about their favorite obscure albums and mix tapes.

Two tall guys in front of me were blocking my view of the DJ, so I finally tapped one of them on the shoulder and asked to stand in front of him. That was a good move: I was now about five feet from the DJ booth.

DJ Evil Dee

Finally, almost an hour late, Talib Kweli and 9th Wonder showed up. They squeezed their way through the crowd to make it to the DJ booth, Talib did a bit on the mic, and 9th and took over the turntables.

9th Wonder

Finally, Jean Grae showed up. With a laugh, Talib introduced her as “the greatest lyricist in the world.” She crammed into the DJ booth with Talib and 9th and joked about how hot it was in the store. (Indeed, Talib had sweat streaming down his face and had already taken off his hoodie.) She chastised the crowd for not showing up to her Highline Ballroom concert and only showing up now because it was a free show.

9th and Jean did a few songs from Jeanius, including my favorite, “Don’t Rush Me,” which she said was the very first song they had made together, and that it was extra special because she even got 9th Wonder to sing a little bit on the track. Jeanius indeed.

Jean Grae

After a few Jeanius tracks, Jean did some a cappella verses. Talib attempted to do one of his new songs a cappella, but after some trite rhyme schemes (like fly/high) and stops and starts, he forgot the rest and gave up. Then they did a couple of Kweli’s songs, and Jean joined in on some verses.

The funniest moment came when Talib Kweli started his song “Black Girl Pain” and Jean Grae said, “Where are my black girls?” There was silence. So she was like, “Black girls? … Black girls?” (There were definitely some black girls in the room, but I guess they weren’t very vocal about it or they weren’t in Jean’s view.) Her directness was refreshing.

Soundtrack: Gunnin’ for That #1 Spot

December 8, 2008

I just watched the documentary Gunnin’ for That #1 Spot, about some of the best high school basketball players in the country coming together for a game in Rucker Park in Harlem. The movie was pretty good, but kind of boring, as I’m not that into basketball.

The soundtrack kept me entertained, though. The movie was made by Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys, and in all the reviews of the film that I read, the soundtrack was highly praised. But I was surprised to see that the soundtrack is not for sale yet, and there isn’t even a track list anywhere. So I started to figure it out for myself….

Here are the tracks from the movie that I could identify. They’re generally in order, but there are also a lot of songs missing—there were a bunch of jazz and funk and other old-school tunes that I couldn’t identify but I wish I could.

  • 50 Cent – “Hate It Or Love It”
  • Ludacris – “Number One Spot”
  • Kool and the Gang – “Hollywood Swingin'”
  • N.W.A. – “Straight Outta Compton”
  • Fat Joe – “My Lifestyle”
  • Jay-Z – “Lucifer”
  • Staples Singers – “Let’s Do It Again” (written by Curtis Mayfield)
  • Jay-Z – “My 1st Song”
  • House of Pain – “Jump Around”
  • M.I.A. – “Amazon”
  • Nas – “Halftime”
  • Joe Budden – “Pump It Up”
  • M.I.A. – “Pull Up the People”
  • Jay-Z – “Dirt Off Your Shoulders”

Also, somewhere in there there was supposed to be a new song by the Beastie Boys called “Bass Line Is Nice.”

Let me know if you know of anything else I’m missing.