/*Google*/ /*Hosting*/ February 2009 | SFCritic Music Blog


I Got My Ass Kicked

It was late when they got to me. I was walking down Mission wearing blue shoes, a red shirt, and yellow baseball cap. Seriously, I'm color blind so I can't tell the difference. I guess it was the wrong colors for this time of night. I thought I'd be fine--it was just two blocks to the bus stop, and if I waited there, the bus would come and I'd be home.

I got to the bus stop, and that's when shit went down. Across the street there was a McDonalds, and I could have sworn I saw Ronald McDonald himself--yes I had a drink, but it wasn't absinthe. Behind the bushes they gathered.

"Walk it out, walk it out," blasted from across the street, and I had heard about the Tubbies, but I thought of them to be a myth. Out from behind the bush appeared four monsters of green, red, blue and yellow. At first they just stood up, arms crossed over their chest, looking at me. "Am I really the only one seeing this," I thought.

Shit got ugly. "What color you claim," yelled the green one.

I managed to murmur a tentative, "I don't have a color," but they just kept looking at me with those big eyes, and smiling. You think that shit is scary on TV, see them live and it's even worse.

The music got louder, and they started walking over to me. Than they did this dance, before they beat me up. It's true, I was beaten up by some teletubbies.


Poor Lily

Thanks to Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse, there has been plenty of gossip in the last two years. Unfortunately, gossip can tarnish a singer's career, e.g. Chris Brown. Lily Allen has been trying to get things straight, but recently, she's faced with a new blunder.

The New York Times interviewed Allen for their Arts sections. Being a reputable news organization, Allen allowed the NYT writer, Melena Ryzik, to enter her home and conduct the interview. During the interview, some photos were taken for the article.

Often news organizations syndicate their photos to other news agencies. To Allen's horror, after trying to remain absent in tabloid magazines, the photos taken by the NYT were published in British tabloid "Ok."

In this dispute between Allen and NYT, it's unusual to side with the often considered brash and lush singer, over the respectable NYT, but in a myspace posting, Allen explains her feelings and well--she seems justified. Allen does not criticize Ryzik, but points directly at the NYT's misuse of the photos taken.

The conflict raises two interesting issues: privacy and reputation. Allen allowed the NYT to enter her private space (her home) and assumed her reputation would not be harmed by a highly reputable source. The NYT used their reputation to gain access to Allen and her private life. Their reputation might also enable them to maneuver any repercussions.

Ultimately, gossip is just gossip--but when reputations are key in maintaining business, one wrong move can lead to someone getting burned. Below is Allen's myspace blog:


So, something has been really bugging me and I have to get it off my chest. A few months ago Ambrosia my press agent and friend called me very excited saying the New York Times asked if they could do a piece about me for the cover of their Arts section. It goes without saying The New York Times is an incredibly prestigious publication , so of course we were all very excited at the prospect. The plan was that a NYT reporter would fly in from New York, hang out at my house for a little while do the bulk of the interview there, to make it feel more relaxed and then we’d go out for dinner after. The reporter could not have been more lovely, she was called Milena and she did indeed come over to the house, I showed her round, she helped me pick out my outfit ( an ISSA patterned all in one, louboutins, hoop earrings just in case you were wondering) . Then she got out her Dictaphone, we did an interview for an hour, hour and a half and then went out for dinner. We went to this restaurant called the Wolsley and ordered a bottle of wine Iwasn’t really drinking at the time , but I was having so much fun with Milena and I felt so relaxed and chilled I decided to let my barriers down a little. Anyway, we ate diner, I had Wiener Schnitzel she had Duck and we shared a pickled cucumber salad thing , some friends dropped by for a drink at the end of the meal , it was a lovely evening. I actually left Milena with my friend Louis in the end, as I had to go and meet someone else for another previously arranged dinner, I knew she was in London alone and she and Louis seemed to get along so I felt happy leaving her in his care. I gave Milena my email address and contact details and said if she thought of anything else she needed for her article all she need do is ask, and I bid them both farewell . Thinking back , I did feel a little awkward about her paying for dinner, but she insisted.
Earlier on in the day a photographer whose name escapes me came round to the house to take a picture to accompany the NYT piece, they wanted one picture of me in my home setting. Seeing as the piece was so intimate and the biggest part of the interview had been conducted at my house. It is unusual for me to allow photographers into my home but these seemed like special circumstances and after all TNYT is one of the most respected news publications in the world.

The article came out little over a month ago and it was great, a really nice piece with a picture of me sat on my sofa, on the cover of the arts section.

The next time I saw Milena was in New York a couple of weeks ago, I played a gig at the Bowery Ballroom and had an after party at the Spotted Pig, we had a drink and I thanked her for the article as it was very complimentary ,it’s not often people write nice things about me.

Now I want to be clear, this has nothing to do with Milena she is a reporter and that is all. The reason what I’m about to tell you is so hurtful is because I had a really nice time with her and I feel that I will only ever feel badly about that day in London from now on .

When you read magazines such as NOW, People ,US weekly, Heat, More etc they print pictures that they buy from other magazines for instance, I’ll do a shoot and an interview with SPIN magazine or Observer Music Monthly and they might syndicate those pictures or sell them to other magazines. These magazines will then print those pictures alongside a whole bunch of quotes lifeted from previous interviews. This can be incredibly misleading and tedious as I would never sit down and do an interview with most of the tabloidy magazines. I’ve been trying t clamp down on this more recently, and now, when I do a photo shoot , I get the magazine to sign a contract saying they wont syndicate the photographs without my consent. I don’t do this because im a snob, it’s more because the more credible magazines are unlikely to take me seriously and work with me if it looks like I’ve been doing interviews with whoever will listen.

Now, last week, when I was in LA I got this email from Murray Chalmers , who does my press in the UK
“this is exactly why i want everyone to use photo contracts! i dont know who these at home pics were done for but they have been sold to OK which is a pain in the arse as it looks like we have done OK...”
there was then a link to OK’s website with the tagline “ World Exclusive, At home with Lily Allen”. Needless to say I was mortified, in fact I was in tears, 6 photos of inside my home for everyone to see, and a made up interview that was very misleading. All this because I’d let the NYT photographer into my home. I was furious and got on the phone immediately.

I assumed we had one of these contracts in place, but the American PR agency assured me the NYT have an unwritten agreement with the PR’s and nothing like this has ever happened before, they were as upset and angry as I am.

In the end I got an apology from OK,but the NYT refuse to accept what they have done is morally wrong. Everybody assures me this is completely unheard of for the NYT to act in such a cheap and disgusting way.
I found this on an email trail, its an explanation from the NYT

I am sorry to say that we have no record or recollection of your client
or her representatives ever requesting any restriction on our
exploitation of the photographs. Indeed, it is not our general policy
to accede to such restrictions, so it is certainly not something we
would have agreed to without a written agreement confirming such

As the copyright owner of thousands of photographs, a significant part
of our business, like most news organizations, is the syndication of
photos to third parties. This is very standard in the news business and
I'm sorry that it comes as a surprise to your client. Under the
circumstances, we are unable to provide you with the assurances you have

I do hope, however, that our correspondence sheds some light on this
issue for your client's future arrangements.

Uuuuurrggh , so patronizing, and gross. The world has become a dark place when The New York Times considers OK magazine to be “the news business”. Sorry if that made for tedious reading but, I think the NYT have behaved really badly and I wanted to vent . It’s one thing posing for a picture fro TNYT and wholly another letting OK into your house, and I didn’t even get paid ☹

Lil x


Deerhunter: Noise Pop Opening Night

This is the night of show, chronicled by every twenty minutes or so, until I had too many beers. Enjoy:

7:20 There are two lines that seem too long for this back alley nightclub. A hearse pulls up to the front entrance of Mezzanine. Through the window I can see a drum set. The car is huge and some poor guy is going to be forced to find a place to park it.

7:40: I’m still waiting in line.

8:03 We’re in and yes—free stuff! Filter magazine, cool—but free Red Stripes, well that’s just what I wanted after work.

8:05 Dntel couldn’t seem any more disinterested. He stands over the two decks like he’s been studying them all day and just wants to put them up on the shelf.

Pop chips, beer, and Dntel: just your average bar scene for indie hipsters.

8:20 My girlfriend walks up to a deserted bar table, and looking at the fifteen or so empty Red Stripes says, “We should be hanging out with these people.” Plan: finish this drink before 8:30, and get one more in during the special. The crowd is loose, promotional flyers are scattered on the floor, if the beers were free any longer this would become a shit show.

8:25 Oh snaps! They’re out of Red Stripe, Guiness it is. (Yo advertisers check me out: I’m pluggin!) The mass exodus to the second floor is beginning. Crazy, one person goes, and EVERYONE is now going. Guess I’ll go too.

9:00 Upstairs is hot, and downstairs is crowded. Beats are banging with eclectic styles from psychedelic techno to African grooves. Vibes are chill. It may be Fat Tuesday, but this crowd isn’t flashing anything.

9:30 It’s the opening celebration for San Francisco’s Noise Pop indie music and art festival, and I’m one of several journalists. Cameras are snapping from the top of the stairs. Man, I got to get a business card.

9:33 BOOM! BooooMMM! Now that’s a bass. Hidden from the stage, I was mislead by the techno rhythm, as it’s overpowered by a female vocalist whose gruff voice sounds more heavy metal than techno-melodic-pleasant.

9:55 “Can I take off my tights. I’m not trying to be a slutty band girl,” said the female vocalist of Lilofee. As she shouts over the mic, the band furiously keeping pace, I feel I’m drowning in a dark satanic world. She sounds like Orgy—you know the 90s band that covered The Cures “Blue Monday,” with a heavy metal tone—oh you don’t know, surprise, surprise—wonder why.

10:00 Time to get away from the stage. Oh look, Toyota merchandise. Thanks Antic (plug). If smoking wasn’t enough to kill you, free ice cream bars, and Rock Band the video game in the back of a car—thank you corporations.

10:10 After chatting with my fellow smoking compadres we’ve reached a consensus—the first group was not for us.

10:20 Did they just raise the sound levels? Earplugs—check. Wait, to my left is a guy leaning again the banister alone; looking around aimlessly—I think I’ll hold on to the plugs.

10:30 It’s official: the crowd drinking in anticipation having been forced to wait so long—are drunk. A girl in front of me stumbles around, looking for a guy to look back at her. She meets an equally drunk fella, and well, you know the rest.

10:45 Waiting for an hour sucks. Rumor has it the second band is a no show.

10:50 A hazy mist dissipates as the light focuses on the center of the stage where Deerhunter emerges. Their weapon: ample amounts of noise. My first suspicions are correct, the levels were raised.

A deafening noise, created between a cross of feedback and extended notes reverberate through the crowd. People look at each other wondering “Is it loud or am I really old?”
I take out the earplugs, and instantly reinsert them—no thanks.

11:05 Familiar with Deerhunter, but never a follower, their music blends heavy rock with a more current Coldplay emo-rock. Though tonight, their, amplified to a max, is discordant, rough, and spacey. After three songs, I’m growing tired of the sharp shrills, and am unfamiliar with most of the music. I suggest leaving, and as we’re walking out, I hear some familiar chords, it’s “Never Stop.”

So I listen to this song, relishing the track I know and then, with a handful of free gear, I call it a night. I’m a working man now—bedtime.

Check out below for other live reviews:

Rock's Promising: Live Review of Glasvegas and Von Iva

There are No Boundaries for Alice Russel, Live Review


I'm Going Hunting

Tonight SFCritic will be attending/reviewing Deerhunter for Betterpropagand.com. Their set will feature their most recent album, Microcastle. "Agrophobia," a single from the album, has been on repeat on my playlist. Take a listen and come back soon for a review of the show:


About Me Posts

"If you've been tagged, you must post 25 random things about yourself," the chain letter that is dominating Facebook. Well, I thought I might include my own random 10 things about music and me. Ten seemed more manageable. Check it out:

1. MF Doom is changing his name, it's now DOOM. Diddy or P. Diddy or Puff Daddy, helped in the name change.

2. Joaquin Phoenix's interview with David Letterman will lead to a new celebrity trend, "Drugged out and acting stupid." Meanwhile, Chris Brown wins the trophy for "Stupid," among other monikers.

3. At a hookah bar in SF, the Egyptian owner jammed Backstreet Boys, "Everybody." I hadn't heard the song since I was twelve and visiting Prague--and I would've preferred to have kept it that way.

4. My girlfriend and I had the same ringtone: "(Sitting on) The Dock of The Bay." So I changed mine.

5. I got a speed ticket while driving and listening techno. This was after I sarcastically wrote about banning techno music in cars because it encourages speeding. Talk about irony.

6. My roommate is addicted to Teddy Bear's self-titled album, and plays the album at least twice a day. I introduced him to it, and will never again share music with him. I now hate Teddy Bear.

7. I partied with the Killers. Okay, well actually-I was in the same VIP section, but "partied" sounds cooler. I swear--I'm cool.

8. SNL has recently aired more memorable rap songs than most radio stations. Have you seen the Natalie Portman rap, "I wanna fuck you too!" Me too Natalie--me too.

9. Auto-tune was cool when Funkadelic used it--now it's just redundant.

10. I'm no longer a "beginner journalist," but just a "journalist," as my writing workshop buddies informed me. Look Ma--I'm a big kid now!


Medina Green!

This is a gem I found. Back in 1994, before Mos Def had a solo career, or even an acting career, he was rapping with his younger brother and sister. The group was called Urban Thermo Dynamics, or UTD. Soon after some success with their hit "Crosstown Beef," Mos met up with a dude named Talib Kweli, and well--Blackstarr was formed and Mos was like "Peace fam!"

UTD left a gem with their track "My Kung Fu"

SOTD: Raydar Ellis & Quite Nyce "Love Is"

When writing for Betterpropaganda.com, I occasionally cover the SOTD. This is most recent example:

Quite Nyce & Raydar Ellis - "Love Is"

"That’s what love is made of," plays the hook. Reminiscent of Detroit soul, Champs vs. The League deliver a cruising love joint on “Love Is.” Filled with EQ distortions, and softened piano keys the track moves with a coolness like Talib Kweli’s “The Blast.” Comprised of Raydar Ellis and Quite Nyce, the two emcees spit clearly, with lyrics more interesting than “Yo girl I love you, drop them panties.” No, the lyrics are quite nice—filled with positivism like "I radiate a raw form of fresh / it seeps through my pores and beats in my chest." As the track progresses, where most hip hop beats become monotonous, “Love Is” holds together with a piano that pushes the drum pattern into a head bobbing groove.

If you liked this check out:

El Michels Affair: Enter the 37th Chamber

Asher Roth: "I Love College"

N.A.S.A.'s New Album


Cover Me Up

"Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so faaarr away," sung Billy Foreman, before I grabbed his guitar and smashed it on the ground. He was a lousy singer, and an even lousier cover artist and I hated camp that summer. It's one thing to have awful original material--at least you can claim yourself as an artist--but, it's another totally musically unjust THING to mess up a perfectly great song with a bad cover. Unfortunately for Billy, he's not an artist and he's a terrible singer with a broken guitar.

These days cover songs are one of the easiest ways for bands to be heard. In this blog alone (proof that their cover made them famous), I've referenced two covers: Lykke Li's "Hustlin'" and Far's "Pony." Though these bands aren't yet Billboard celebs, singing familiar song to a new tune is both a new and old trick to success.

Celebrities famous for something other than music or sex-tapes, do it. They do it all the time: Scarlett Johansson covered Jeff Buckley's "Last Goodbye," Mandy Moore covered Rhinna's "Umbrella" (though Mandy started as a TRL singer, and sucks still), Jada Pinkett with her band Wicked Wisdom covered the Dilligener Escape Plan's "Unretrofied," and the list goes on. Since celebrities already have a following, it's not surprising their covers don't have to be all that great to be heard.

For aspiring musicians a cover can make their band. When I was little, Cake's Fashion nugget hit the stores, and "I Will Survive," originally performed by Gloria Gaynor, was their big hit. Dynamite Hack's fame grew from their cover of Eazy-E's "Boyz N Da Hood." "Killing Me Softly," by the Fugees--need I say more?

Even successful artists will do a cover here and there--why not be pompous? Nelly Furtado covered Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy," during an in-studio performance at BBC radio. She probably was like, "Shittttt--I'm a good singer, I like that song, people will listen." And they do.

They will listen enough that bands like The Beatles will try and fuck their shit up and be like "Your shit is bollocks, that's my music." After The Beatles success, people got down to "original music" (in quotes, because what TRULY is original). This was also due to the number of law suits filed by The Beatles. Cover bands/songs became cop outs for less talented artists.

But that wasn't always the case. Everyone knows Elvis Presley didn't write his own music or even Frank Sinatra. How many people have you heard cover "Mack The Knife," or "(Sitting On) The Dock of the Bay." Like Presley's stolen music, a lot of black artist's created hits that topped the chart, but were performed by white artists. Little Richard, Bo Diddley, and Chuck Berry had their music blow up only to have white people cover it and make more money (i.e. Pat Boone: look at his 'early career').

I Hope as the SFCritic that explained some about the importance of the cover song.


N.A.S.A. Prepares for the Launch

N.A.S.A.'s new album "Spirit of Apollo" is coming to a store near you! N.orth A.merica S.outh A.merica, bringing the Americas together! The album is a collaboration of so many hip hop names over Brazilian funk. This album is getting mad hype. With all these guest appearances, it's not surprising: Kanye, Chuck D, Charli 2na, KRS-1, Del The Funky Homosapien, The Cool Kids, Ghostface Killa....
The album hits store on the 17th.

Here is the Official Tracklisting:
1. Intro
2. The People Tree feat. David Byrne, Chali 2na, Gift Of Gab, Z-Trip
3. Money feat. David Byrne, Chuck D, Ras Congo, Seu Jorge, Z-Trip
4. NASA Music feat. Method Man, E-40, DJ Swamp
5. Way Down feat. RZA, Barbie Hatch, John Frusciante
6. Hip Hop feat. KRS-One, Fatlip, Slim Kid Tre
7. Four Rooms, Earth View
8. Strange Enough feat. Karen O, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Fatlip
9. Spacious Thoughts feat. Tom Waits, Kool Keith
10. Gifted feat. Kanye West
11. A Volta feat. Sizzla, Amanda Blank, Lovefoxxx
12. There’s a Party feat. George Clinton, Chali 2na
13. Whachadoin? feat. Spank Rock, M.I.A., Santogold, Nick Zinner
14. O Pato feat. Kool Kojak, DJ Bãboa
15. Samba Soul feat. Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, DJ Qbert
16. The Mayor feat. The Cool Kids, Ghostface Killah, DJ AM, Scarface
17. N.A.S.A. Anthem

Seriously, how did this many artists get on one album.

N.A.S.A. "Money"


"Hip Hop"

If you liked this check out:

Kutiman: ThruYou

SOTD Charles Tree: "It's The"

A Message With Jay Z

Valentines Loving

Maybe it's because I'm older. The R & B songs of today, just don't do it for me. Not to say that Ginuwine's "Pony," was a classic song, but the newest remake--well, why did they do a remake in the first place? Being the SFCritic, I had to find the right playlist for valetines, and DJ Sober had it: Satin Sheets. A concoction of all those R&B songs that made your pubescent booties shake. From Mark Morrison's "Return of the Mack," to D'Angelo's "Lady," this mixtape is a freak shake (I'm practicing my rhymes for Freestylemadness.com). Take a look:


Far - "Pony" Rock Cover


Got Some Change?

Passion Pit has Chunk Change. That's the name of a band, and their album. I'm trying to be concise.

The band from French Kiss records has created quite the stir in my head. The first time I heard their song "Sleepyheads," was similar to my first dosing. It went smoothly, and I remained calm. Since, times have been rough. I keep hearing "and you said it was like fire down the brim," and then that electric guitar slices the beat, and I can't stop fidgeting, or what I like to call dancing. Now I itch for the song. It's on repeat in a bad way. Listen with caution:

Also check WallPaper. remix of Sleepyheads, which the Passion Pit awarded as the best remix of the song.

You Know, That Seems Unlikely

Some days you're off, other days you're off on too many drugs. This is a hilarious clip, featuring Joaquin Phoenix on The David Letterman Show, discussing his new movie, but most importantly: his future rap career. Yes, I said it--he's going to rapping to crack heads near you.


I <3 College Because I'm Stupid

Asher Roth is described as one of the hip hop stars of '09 by XXL and BET--are they on crack? His new music video, "I Love College," is basically the stereotype of white prepsters, or a retake of Old School. Here is the video below:

Asher Roth: "I Love College"

In this video Roth mentions his liking of "thirsty Thursdays," beer pong, girls, and pizza. Wow, this guy is deep. It can be argued, the white boy from Morrisville, Pennsylvania is keepin' it real. Shit, for all I know, he might be just a white boy prepster.

Since the success of Eminem, the market for white rappers has steadily grown. From Paul Wall to MC Paul Barman, the types and styles have grown tremendously from say--the days of Vanilla Ice.

Thing is, who's really fooling who? Is this a growth in hip hop, where white rappers can now compete indiscriminately of their skin? Or are record labels, and black entrepreneurs (DJ Drama put Roth in the limelight)noticing a market to exploit? Even the title of this song seems hokey. The main purchasers of hip hop are young white males, and well, this song is clearly about young white males in college.

Murs, a LA rapper who is often denoted as backpack rap for his thought provoking lyrics, and consumption by white audiences, talks about the change in market demographics in his song, "And This is For":

Why wouldn't you abort me, my own people have
I feel I should have the scans white rappers have
It's sad but that's the way it is
What's the reason that my album doesn't sell like his?
And don't front like you don't why the hell that is
It's because he's white, you can relate to his face
Through the years you've been taught that Black is unsafe
Plus it's only natural for your own to be embraced

It makes you think...what's really happening? Man, I wouldn't critique this culture if I didn't love college so much.

I'll Show you My Cyber Guns

Upon reading that title, I'm sure you might be confused, disgusted, or possibly surprised. SFCritic has come across a new discovery: cyber battling. Think you're lyrically ill--well the internet is your oyster, and now's it time to get down.

FreestyleMadness.com has created a hip hop forum for all those closet MCs, like me. Upon joining the site, you can battle whomever, and potentially win prizes. This is huge! You create a profile like myspace/facebook, and from there the sky is the limit.

Who wan test the SFCritic, I get ridic-ulous with my flows, before you know what hit ya! BLAT BLAT!


Not NOW, Sorry

As critics our daily routines of judging and critiquing require us to remain distant and observant, but when a critique becomes personal—it’s easy to be at a loss for words. SFCritic likes Nightmares on Wax (NOW). George Evelyn, DJ and musician, and the face of NOW, creates down-tempo house fused with hip hop, reggae and funk. Whenever I am driving or sitting around having a brewski, NOW is a perfect compliment with its groovy rhythms, eclectic styles, and unobtrusive sounds. Calling it “background music,” is overly simplistic, but the music doesn’t demand your attention; which was probably the reason I left mid-performance.

As a DJ, and not a turntablist, it’s difficult to entertain, or reproduce one’s music live. Ramble Krohn, better known as RJD2, a DJ and a hip hop producer, was recently on tour and his performance consisted of him playing several instruments including the cello, guitar, and violin. However, NOW’s performance was a DJ and two vocalists. While most of NOW’s music lacks lyrics, some songs have vocal loops. These loops performed live were monotonous. To add salt to a wound, both vocalists were decent singers, but nothing special. The performance lacked focus, with the vocalists sharing the limelight, Evelyn, though the man behind the original music, was overshadowed. I wouldn’t suggest seeing NOW, now—or anytime.


Blu & Exile Beneath The Heavens Tour

Is hip hop dead? Before looking Below The Heavens, maybe you’d say yes--but Blu & Exile are a bright light illuminating the soul in hip hop. Their first release has been reviewed by several magazines as one of best rookie albums in 2008. The up and coming duo has been touring with fellow rising star Wale (pronounced Wall-E) and U.C.B. It’s Saturday night at the Mezzanine and the average age is young for an SF show, suggesting the underground following of these acts.

My friend loves to dance, and upon being invited to a hip hop show, he must have thought it would be a dance party. Thing is—hip hop hasn’t always been T-Payne-auto-tune and bling/booty raps about “up in da club!” Instead, Blu raps about struggle, raising kids, growing up, and relationships. Exile’s beats are banging, but they are more Pete Rock and J Dilla than Timbaland. To my friend’s dismay the dancers were outnumbered by head bobbers swaying side to side, from front to back, uh huh uh huh—yeah, what.

Blu & Exile bring a sound from the Golden Era. Their raps are personal, their beats are soulful—it’s a sound you have to dig through old hip hop CDs to find. On stage there are keepin’ it real (if you can say that without sounding cliché). Their image is simple: jeans, t-shirt and cap. Not overly animated, nor sluggish, Blu seemed comfortable on stage. The duo had a chemistry similar to Gangstarr (DJ Premier and Guru), with a mutual respect for each other skills.

“That shit is from five years ago, it didn’t look like this, y’all are hot” said a humble Blu about the crowd at Mezzanine. They’re grounded--no gold chains, no grills, no references to bitches and hos—this isn’t the hip hop you’ve heard on the radio for the last five years. Blu’s lyrics are truthful and his flow is confidant, “but if I say I rap, you’ll be looking for my range, gold chains and my strap / and I can act conscious, but if we talk politics / you’ll notice I’m out of the loop.” Exile is creative and soulful whereas most producers are redoing pop successes. Their set was highlighted by Exile’s finish as he slammed on the MPC like a piano, rewriting a guitar sample into a Led Zepplin “Stairway To Heaven”-eqsue rendition.

After the show, I asked my friend for his thoughts: “If you’re into that, than I say go, if not--don’t,” a simple statement, but true. Blu & Exile bring a style of hip hop which for current listeners of consumer hip hop is different. For me, I’d go—I loved it, but as the SFCritic I also like fellow California underground rappers Zion I, People Under the Stairs, and Murs. The self-declared “soul provider,” Blu & Exile are the reason critics like SFCritic haven’t given up on hip hop.


We're Indie! Who F'in Cares?

"Indie" is both a genre and an artist's statement. During the 70s, 80s, and 90s, "indie" was a style of grunge/punk/garage rock, and a cultural style of music and listeners. These days it may mean an artist has an "alternative" sound, though "alternative" is no longer actually "indie," or literally, the artist isn't signed to a major label.

Recently, SFCritic noticed on a blog that Fleet Foxes were fighting accusations that the band had signed to Virgin Records (oh no! major label!). Lead singer Rob Pecknold denied the allegations adamantly stating:

"Fleet Foxes will never, ever, under no circumstances, from now until the world chokes on gas fumes, sign to a major label. This includes all subsidiaries or permutations thereunder. Till we die."

Shit man, that's gangsta--they'd rather die than sign to a label! Last time I checked, thousands of people are trying to get signed--BY ANYONE. The whole "indie" thing is way pretentious. I mean really, who's an artist fooling--they want to make money right? With the album sales failing, more artists have looked into other methods of selling their work. I no longer feel like an artist is "selling out" by leasing their songs to commercials (you gotta do, what you gotta do).

So who cares whether a band is indie or not--if the music is good, than that's all that matter.


New Music To Listen

Tim Fite's "Big Mistake." Never heard of him, enjoy:


Sharon Jones is a Soul Queen

It’s a Wednesday night at the Warfield, and the place is packed and ready for Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings. The blockbuster soul grooving duo has everyone riding their train. Noah had forty days on the ark, and Sharon Jones had way more than hundred days and nights, waiting for the world to see her anointed queen of soul. The 52-year-old singer’s time in the limelight has been short, but her experience dwarfs her contemporaries. You’d never know how amazing she really is, until you see her live.

Standing a mere 5’1”, Sharon Jones stage presence might as well be 10’. Her amazing voice is only a part of what her show has to offer. Whether doing the hustle, teaching a twelve year to “Be Easy,” delegating stage dancers, or singing her ass off—Sharon is a performer and entertainer. With record sales plummeting, stage presence is everything for the success of a band, and Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings have nothing to worry about.

Even Lou Reed can’t say bad things about Jones. Recently returned after touring with Reed, Jones has perpetuated herself into the forefront of the soul singer revival. Her voice is strong, commanding and yet soulfully smooth, a combination few singers can boast. Matched in skill, The Dap Kings perfectly balance Sharon’s presences; together they form a soul train without brakes. The Dap Kings may be “backing,” but they’re also basking in their own fame after their stint with Amy Winehouse.

Listening to Sharon Jones is like smelling soul food cooking from way outside the house, and being reminded of that feeling of old goodness. At her best, the singer is comparable to the great soul singers of her generation; I’m talking Aretha Franklin, Etta James and Tina Turner. When both are at their best, the group’s feel is equitable to Curtis Mayfield.

Throughout her performance, Jones brought members of the crowd on stage. “Uh uh not you,” Jones said to a dancer trying to get on stage. Jones, “calls the shots.” Leading the way, the band played hits from their newest album 100 Days, 100 Nights. Then there were dance lessons. “You remember the boogaloo?” Jones asked the crowd. Instructing the crowd, Jones showed off her boogaloo, mashed potatoes, and pony (these are dance steps if you didn’t know).

It was the twelve year old who stole the show. “Let me keep this light, Andrew you got to BE EASY,” Jones said to Andrew, dressed with jean pants to his waste and a tucked in polo shirt. When he hopped onto the stage, the boy got down. Showing off his robot-dance moves, circa Napoleon Dynamite. Introducing the song “Be Easy,” Sharon Jones schooled Andrew on ways to treat a woman; meanwhile, excited by the crowd’s attention, Andrew randomly interrupted into dance steps, blushing occasionally. Be easy Andrew.

*Here is a video "Andrew's Performance"

No show should go without a small appreciation of Obama. After talking about the need for change, Jones did a rendition of Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come,” which sent chills down my back. Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings create music that is so soulfully classic that it could be just re-released from forty years ago, and you would be easily fooled.

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