Tag: Guilty Simpson

Musings: A Decade of JOVM

I started this site 10 years ago today. . .

There aren’t many things in my life that I’ve done for every single day for a decade that I’ve loved as much as this very unique little corner of the blogosphere. When I started this site, I  didn’t — and couldn’t — imagine actually having readers, let alone readers across the US, Canada, the UK, the European Union, Australia and elsewhere. After all, this sort of work is deeply rewarding and yet strangely isolating.

I couldn’t have imagined the over 1,000 shows I’ve covered all across the New York Metropolitan area. I definitely couldn’t have imagined it being possible for be to cover shows for JOVM in Chicago while on a business trip for a day job; nor would I have dreamed of the possibility of covering M for Montreal last fall.

I couldn’t have imagined being a panelist on a Mondo.NYC Festival panel on PR and promotion for indie artists.

I couldn’t have imagined having a cameo in a JOVM mainstay’s video several years ago. (It’s a noticeable and prominent spot towards the end of the video, too. No one has called me up for acting gigs, so I may need more work on that. Or I need to stick to the writing and photography!)

I couldn’t have imagined photographing Patti LaBelle, Snoop Dogg, Charles Bradley  Sharon Jones, Nile Rodgers, Roky Erickson, Philip Bailey and so many others, as well as this site’s countless mainstays.

What will the next decade hold? I don’t know. If you asked me that question last November, I’d probably discuss my the very real possibility of repeated visits to Canada for festivals like Canadian Music Week, Montreal Jazz Fest and M for Montreal — with the hopes of building a deeper Canadian audience. I’d talk about my interest in music from across the African Diaspora. I’d spend time talking about my interest in covering acts outside the US. I’d also speak about my interest in wanting to cover more artists across the diverse LGQBTIA+ community  — particularly those of color. I’d probably also mention my deep and abiding interest in covering women artists and women led acts.

Live music won’t be a thing for quite some time to come. And whenever it does, the landscape will be different — and something we’ve yet to envision. So far, beloved venues have been forced to close because of economics. That will continue for the foreseeable future. What will happen to bands, who no longer have a place to play, where they can hone their sound and their live show? Who knows? After watching an industry-based panel, I don’t feel particularly optimistic about things in the short term. Some of us will figure out a way to adapt and survive; others sadly, won’t.

But in the meantime, JOVM will continue. It’s only the first decade, as far as I’m concerned!

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I also wanted to talk a bit about some of my favorite albums of the past decade. This is by no means a comprehensive list; but I think that they might give some insight into the inner world of JOVM. And

Montreal-based DJ, production and electronic music artist duo The Beat Escape — Addy Weitzman and Patrick A. Boivin — can trace the project’s origins back to a short film they collaborated on when they were both in college. “We made a short oddball work; a video piece that followed two characters through a psychedelic waking dream,” the Montreal-based said of their initial collaboration together in press notes. Interestingly, since that collaboration, Weitzman and Boivin have continued working together on a series of creative endeavors that have combined their interests in music and visual art, including a lengthy local DJ gig, which eventually led to the creation of The Beat Escape.

Released in early 2018, the Montreal-based duo’s full-length debut Life Is Short The Answer’s Long thematically and sonically found the duo returning to their origins — somnambulant, atmospheric art that feels like a half-remembered waking dream. Personally, the album’s material evokes a weird two-and-year period of international and domestic travel, in which I’d wake up in a hotel room and briefly wonder where I was, what time zone I was in and if I was even in the right place. Additionally, it evokes that weird sensation of everything being the fundamentally the same, yet different. If I’m in Grand Central Terminal, I think of Frankfurt-am-Main Hauptbahnhof and of Amsterdam Centraal Station. If I’m traveling underneath an elevated train, I’m reminded of the Chicago loop and so on.

I obsessively played Life Is Short The Answer’s Short through my time in Montreal. And now whenever I play it, I can picture specific locations, specific paths I took to get there, certain Metro stations with an uncanny precision.

Throughout the course of the site’s decade history, I’ve written quite a bit about Superhuman Happiness. The act has managed to survive through a number of different lineup changes and sonic departures necessitated by those lineup changes — and from the act’s core members following wherever their muses took them, Hands though is a joyous, mischievous yet deeply intelligent work that will make you shout and dance. Considering the bleakness of our world, this album may be much more needed than they ever anticipated.

Deriving their name from a Vladimir Nabokov short story about a traveler, who finds a place so beautiful that he wants to spend his life then but who cruelly  gets dragged back to brutal reality, the Dublin, Ireland-based act Cloud Castle Lake — currently Daniel McAuley (vocals, synths), Brendan William Jenkinson (guitar, piano), Rory O’Connor (bass), Brendan Doherty (drums), and a rotating cast of collaborators, friends and associates — received attention with 2014’s self-released debut EP Dandelion, an effort that firmly established the act’s uniquely sound: deeply influenced by and indebted to  Alice Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders, the Irish act pairs McAuley’s tender and soaring falsetto with cinematic arrangements and expansive song structur es.

Released in 2018, the act’s Rob Kirwan-produced debut Malingerer is an ambitious, challenging and breathtakingly beautiful work that’s part film score and part cosmic meditation, full of aching yearning.

A couple of years ago, I caught the Irish act play at Rockwood Music Hall, as part of the Lower East Side venue’s monthly Communion showcase — and their set was met with awed and reverential silence.

Stockholm, Sweden-based garage punk outfit Sudakistan — Michell Serrano (vocals), Maikel Gonzalez (bass), Carlos Amigo (percussion) Juan Jose Espindola (drums) and Arvid Sjöö (guitar) — have one of the most unique and perhaps most 21st Century backstories of any band I’ve ever written about: four of the band’s five members emigrated to Sweden from South America with the remaining member being the band’s only native Swede. With the release of their debut album, 2015’s Caballo Negro, the members of Sudakistan received attention across Scandinavia and elsewhere for crafting material that draws from Latin-tinged garage punk rock with lyrics sung in English, Spanish and Swedish. Interestingly, the alum is arguably hardest and most mosh pit friendly of the band’s albums to date, the album’s material found the band expanding their sound through the incorporation of non-traditional punk rock instruments — seemingly inspired by the band’s desire to make each of their individual roles to be much more fluid. . “It was much more of a collaboration between the five of us,” the band’s Michell Serrano explains in press notes. . “Things flowed differently. Carlos sings on two or three songs, and Mikael sings on one. We swapped instruments quite a lot, and because we had access to everything in the studio, we were able to use some piano, some acoustic guitar and some mandolin, too.”

Additionally, the album’s lyrical and thematic concerns draws from the band members’ everyday reality with each individual member contributing lyrical ideas. “Our first album was made over five years, rather than five months, so the themes on it weren’t as heavy as this. Now, we’re talking about a lot of the things that we’ve gone through together since we started the band, as well as personal things – like, why do I keep repeating the same mistakes. We talk about pursuing our own Swedish reality, but that’s just because we’re living in Sweden – it’s relatable in any other country, I think,” Maikel Gonzalez says in press notes.

The album’s material resonates in an age of divisiveness, xenophobia, fear mongering and strife because its an urgent and passionate reminder of what’s possible with cultural exchange, empathy and curiosity —  bold new ideas, new takes on the familiar, as well as equality for all with everyone’s story behind heard, understood and championed. One day that will happen but we will have to work our asses off to get there.

Several years in the making, the highly-anticipated and long-awaited collaborative album from the late and beloved Brooklyn-based emcee Sean Price and acclaimed Philadelphia-based producer Small Professor86 Witness is slated for a February 8, 2019 release through Coalmine Records and Duck Down Records. The album’s latest single “John Gotti” is centered by a moody and noir-ish  RZA-like production featuring tweeter and woofer rocking boom bap beats, twinkling and arpeggiated keys that’s roomy enough for an All-Star squad of ringers that includes AG Da Coroner, JOVM mainstay Guilty Simpson and Your Old Droog and Sean Price to spit rhymes full of wildly inventive wordplay, complex rhyme schemes, amazing pop cultural references that include 80s movies, old-school cartoons, childhood games — and murderous intent. Simply put — this is some pure street shit without silly shtick or gimmicks.

 

Both as a solo artist, who released four highly acclaimed albums during his life — 2005’s Monkey Barz, 2007’s Jesus Price Supastar, 2012’s Songs in the Key of Price, and as member of Boot Camp Clik and of one half of hip-hop duo, Heltah Skeltah, and as a member of Random Axe with Guilty Simpson and Black MilkSean Price established himself as one of underground hip-hop’s most beloved and renowned emcees.  Since his death in 2015, there has been quite bit of material release posthumously, including Coalmine Records’ Record Store Day, Black Friday release, “Refrigerator P,” a collaborative effort between Philadelphia-based producer Small Professor and Sean Price that features Price’s Heltah Skeltah partner Rock. Of course, if you’ve been frequenting this site throughout it’s almost eight year history, you’d know that I prefer my hip hop to be rough, rugged and raw street shit — and this track is arguably one of the most rugged tracks I’ve heard this month, as Price spit bars full of references to the Super Bowl XX Champion Chicago Bears over an enormous and menacing production featuring a looped string sample and tweeter and woofer rocking beats. The hook features Price teaming up with his longtime Heltah Skeltah partner Rock while renowned turntabilist DJ Revolution scratches. Certainly, this track should stay as a reminder of Sean P’s incredible talent and how sorely its missed.

 

 

 

 

Over the past 12-18 months, I’ve written quite a bit about Therman Munsin, an up-and-coming New Jersey-born emcee, who has had a long-time collaboration with Hempstead, NY-based emcee and  producer Roc Marciano, which has resulted in a number of blogosphere attention grabbing singles. And as you may recall, “Plastic Surgery Face,” an album single off Munsin’s full-length debut Sabbath featured a guest spot from one of my favorite, contemporary emcees,  Guilty Simpson trading gritty, gangsta shit bars full of murder, mayhem and braggadocio over a menacing production featuring a looped, twisting and turning organ sample paired with stuttering beats. “I Ain’t With the Evil Empire,” Sabbath’s latest single features the up-and-coming New Jersey-based emcee trading gritty, NYC area gangsta shit bars with Infamous Mob‘s Big Twins  over a warm,  70s blues-inspired production featuring a looped wah wah pedal-based guitar sample paired with big, tweeter and woofer rocking beats.

 

 

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past year or so, you may recall that I’ve written about Therman Munsin, an up-and-coming New Jersey-born emcee, who has a long-time collaboration with Hempstead, NY-based emcee and producer Roc Marciano through a number of singles and Munsin’s full-length debut SabbathSabbath‘s latest single “Plastic Surgery Face” features Munsin and Marciano collaborating with one of my favorite contemporary emcees Guilty Simpson — and in fact, the single features the two emcees trading gritty, gangsta shit bars full of murder, mayhem and braggadocio over a menacing production featuring a looped, twisting and turning organ sample paired with stuttering beats.

 

As an obsessive music fan and as a blogger, I become a fan of particular labels, frequently admiring their rosters and their overall output — and over the years, I’ve become an enormous fan of Stones Throw Records, a Los Angeles-based indie hip-hop label, who have released the work of an impressive array of artists across hip-hop, soul and funk including the imitable Homeboy Sandman; Dam-Funk and his various collaborations with the likes of Snoop Dogg, Slave‘s Steve Arrington and others; the great Mayer Hawthorne, whose Impressions: The Covers EP landed at number on this site’s Best of List several years ago; Detroit‘s and arguably the country’s best contemporary emcee Guilty Simpson; hip-hop’s most beloved producer J. Dilla; Vex Ruffin; and counties others. The renowned label has recently started a subscription service: for $250 USD plus a one-time, flat-rate shipping fee, subscribers will received every new Stones Throw Records vinyl album released throughout 2017 as soon as the label receives them — and this includes singles, double albums, 12-inch singles, 45s, box sets and special edition reissues.

2017’s first vinyl release will be Madlib and J. Dilla’s Jaylib Remixes for the first time ever on vinyl — and it’ll include a previously unreleased track “Da Ruckus,” which was originally recorded back in 2002. Additionally, the first vinyl shipment will also include a bonus LP Oh No‘s Ultimate Beats & Breaks, a 17 track instrumental hip-hop album, which also marks the long-awaited return of the Ultimate Breaks & Beats series, a series which can trace it origins to the original series of DJ-friendly compilations that was released between 1986-1991 or so. Created by Lenny Roberts, a Bronx-based record collector, and studio editing partner “Breakbeat” Lou Flores, their Ultimate Breaks and Beats series came about as sampling was beginning to take shape. And as you can imagine, the series was instrumental to the increasingly sample-based hip-hop of the period; but also managed to influence electronic dance music and pop as DJs and producers started using the series to help them create some of their genre’s seminal works.

 

“Breakbeat” Lou Flores is reviving Ultimate Breaks and Beats — this time as a producer series, debuting with an album by renowned producer Oh No, which was made entirely from samples from the original UBB series. Check out the  first single off Oh No’s Ultimate Breaks & Beats, “The Troubled” a swaggering track that features twinkling piano chords, tweeter and woofer rattling beats, warm but distorted blasts of horns and vocal samples coming out of the ether. And while nodding at J. Dilla,  the track possesses a cinematic quality just underneath its crowd-pleasing hook.

 

2015 has been a busy year for Detroit‘s Guilty Simpson as Stones Throw Records released his latest full-length effort Detroit’s Son earlier this year, and he’s released a couple of incredible, non-album singles featuring collaborations with a number of internationally-based producers. Simpson’s latest single “Greatness” is a collaboration with London-based producer Stone Tone, and it’s comprised of Simpson’s gruff baritone rhyming about being determined to succeed in the face of all odds, haters, duplicitous snakes and others over a production featuring a looped, twisting and turning piano sample, soaring synths and strings, which give the song an inspirational feel, while being bolstered by boom-bap drums. Simply put, the track is real hip-hop and not that bullshit you’d hear on your conglomerate mainstream hip-hop radio station, as the song features an incredibly talented emcee actually saying something relevant and meaningful over dope beats. Certainly, after playing the song you should feel as though you could (and should) go out and there and achieve your own dreams — right this very second.