Thursday, November 30, 2006

Notes: Georgia Anne Muldrow - Olesi: Fragments Of An Earth

I first heard Ms. Muldrow on the Platinum Pied Pipers disc Triple P (which might get it's own review one day; it is one of my smart playlists) and since I have made my journey back into the depths of indie hip-hop, her name kept popping up. So it seems that she is the first woman who is signed to Stones Throw Records, which it seems is at the forefront of the indie hip-hop movement. They already have Madlib and MF Doom doing records for them and in independent hip-hop you only need like 2 to present legitimacy.

So I heard her EP. Interesting. And now the full length.

I must say, even as I listened to it, I wasn't sure how to explain it. Off the bat, I can tell you there are a select few who will enjoy this music. Georgia Anne (I think I just love her name; she seems like good people) sings and raps and makes her own beats. I can consistently say that the beats are always something to look forward too. My head was nodding the whole time. Often her singing is discordant and arrhythmic. And the raps come from nowhere and they are often at odds with the beat as well.

This is not sit down and read to it music. It's not even get up and dance to it music. I still liked it though. It's worth a listen. You either like it or dislike it.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Perfomance: Il Barbiere di Siviglia

So Nitro and I traversed up to Lincoln Center to see a performance of Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville). This was particularly exciting because it was directed by the Bartlett Sher, who also directed Light in the Piazza which me and Nitro especially enjoyed last year.

And this performance did not disappoint. Rossini's music is some of the most challenging. At this point I wish I had taken theory and had a greater understanding of what I was witnessing. Sadly I must resort to what I have gleaned over all the practices I have sat through. Each of the main parts, which consisted of a bass, a baritone, a soprano, and a tenor, each had their share of challenging runs.

Each of them did their parts especially well. Gladly, each performer was not just singing but they added some real thought into what their characters were doing. Charisma was oozing from the set, especially from the barber played by a Swede and the too short Rossini tenor from Spain.

The production values were very excellent as well. Since I started to attend Broadway musicals and now the opera with more frequency, the sets have always interested me because most times you have to use the same basic structure unless you have enough time during an intermission to make extreme changes. But no detail was spared and it all worked together, even the random donkey.

If you can, you should catch this production. It's a treat

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Notes: Kidz In The Hall - School Was My Hustle

I know I have been absent for a while but sadly I have been working myself like a dog so when I put on some tracks, I don't have time to waste wondering if I'm going to enjoy it or not. So I've been sticking with the proven favorites as of late.

Amazingly though, I have found ways to enhance my musical experience at work. And so I have procured a copy of the new album School Was My Hustle by Kidz In The Hall. Now there is a plethora of reasons for me to be attracted to this record. First off, they were Okayplayer featured artists, which is the online home of The Roots, Jill Scott, and a bunch of other people I rock. Second it is underground rap. Third, these guys are Ivy Leaguers (Penn) so you have to hear what they really sound like. Fourth is the fact that this is a release from the long dormant Rawkus Records which used to be the standard bearer for progressive hip-hop.

From the first track, I already felt a pull back to the olden days, around the mid-90s. They kind of remind me of a Camp Lo type group. Smart lyrics, soulful beats. I'm really feeling Ritalin, an energetic two-minute romp that comes right after the intro. And it's quite apparent that they are college kids cause they keep referencing songs that were before their time like Wheelz Fall Off ('06 Til) which definitely takes inspiration from Souls of Mischief's '93 Til Infinity. But honestly this is really good stuff. They even have a track that uses the same sample Mr. Carter used for Show Me What You Got which seems pretty peculiar since the albums have dropped so close to each other, but honestly The Kidz Don't Stop sounds like the superior record.

I might actually go out and purchase it.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Live Notes: John Legend (w/ Robin Thicke & Consequence)

You know I really like Robin Thicke. I saved the New York Times article from the time that he (then recording as just Thicke) and Justin Timberlake were both releasing their first albums. The article focused on the return of blue-eyed soul and I privately rooted for him. While Justin had multi-platinum success with Justified, Thicke never cracked the Billboard 100 though he made some ripples on the Heatseekers charts.

Fast forward a couple of years, add his first name, a hook up with Star Trak, and a more stylish wardrobe and haircut, and you have Robin Thicke in his current incarnation. Of course I got a snippet of the new album and was rocking "Got 2 Be Down" featuring Faith Evans till my hall got sick of it. Which is why I decided to see if he was performing any time soon. Lo and behold a date with John Legend. I like John Legend. I'll pay 25 beans for that show.

Funny though that Boston public transit system. Red line down? Shuttle bus? Uhhhhhhhh.

So since Boston wants to be all timely with it's shows, I actually missed a chunk of his set. And I missed Consequence who must have got on even before the advertised showtime. But as a walked in I was treated to that awesome falsetto. And he is quite the showman. I'd like to see him in a more intimate club setting with people who are crazy for the music. He did rock it last night with the short time I did see him.

So next up was Mr. Legend. The last time I saw him live he was still John Stephens and I had only gone to that show because he did a decent Stevie cover at an open mic and his was one of the names I remembered. Wow from little underground hole to Best New Artist Grammy and multiplatinum sales. I don't know why I feel a kinship with Legend. Well actually I do. Both black. Both attended Ivy institutions, though he graduated. And for some reason I can tell he loves the old school, but actually does throw on some Dipset sometime, and I kinda feel the same way.

Anyway, he came in and funked up the place for his first two songs. From that point on he never lost his energy. By the end of the night the dude looked like he visibly lost weight. He did a pretty good representation of what pleases the people, an underrated task even though he only has two albums of material. The second one almost doesn't count cause it just came out two weeks ago so the populace wasn't as familiar. But he did such a great job of seamlessly weaving in and out of the new songs that you wanted to go buy the new joint right then and there.

He says he got the name Legend because his contemporaries said his voice sounded like something from the old school. I really cannot deny this. Something in that voice is warm. There's a subtle warble that brings soul to every note. I wonder if it is smoke tinged. It sounds aged though so I totally understand the Legendary connection. And from the way he rocked out and had church and moved hearts, it would be a shame if people weren't be likened to him in 20 years.