Monthly Archives: March 2009

Rap Is A Bad Influence

The beginnings of almost any lifetime passion are defined by the confidence it offers you as a child. The kids in my neighborhood couldn’t afford a real musical instrument, let alone lessons. The local schools touted paltry art budgets that had us using the nubs of half-eaten crayons out of an old coffee tin and well-worn watercolors for an hour every other week.

Here, there are two arts through which a young boy can find his voice — basketball and rap. It takes a hefty diversion to distract children raised in a place where crime is a self-sustaining spiral and only two kids on the block have fathers. We were lucky. We found our diversion.

It began on a lazy summer day in an upstairs bedroom. My cousin from the suburbs brought along a tape recorder and the most basic of beatboxing skills. What resulted from our day-long session was a line by my little brother that has been burned into my memory,

“You can see me go as Bassey’s smiling/ His name is Bassey Cocoa because he’s bileing.”

Looking back on it now, the line doesn’t make much sense. But we couldn’t have been any more than 10 years old at the time, and tales of this epic diss would be recounted for years.

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All The Saints' New Video For "Sheffield"

After tearing the city of Austin, TX a new one with some sonically punishing performances, All the Saints have released a music video for the song “Sheffield” directed by Woody Stockridge from their debut full-length album Fire On Corridor X. Pick up the album now on Touch & Go Records.

A&SB's Guide to Successful Freestyle

Daamn. dude. That spring break hangover lasted longer than I thought it would. Sorry for the lack of postage… Shit! I left Jason passed out in the bathroom of that motorhome where we got shwasted with this dude Fred and his totally slutty daughters on the outskirts of Tijuana. While me and Dave go scour the gutters of the Southwest’s highways, here are some helpful hints from the bottom of my heart.

Since my move from the urban center of Milwaukee to Whiteysville, I can’t help but notice some atrocious freestyle rap at house parties. Making it up as you go along isn’t easy, but anyone can freestyle effectively with a few simple measures. In an effort to improve the morale and bolster the hopes of these downtrodden rappers, I am proud to present Air and Sea Battle’s Beginner’s Guide to Freestyle Rap: College Edition

1. Start quietly

There’s no better way to make a fool of yourself than to yell a rhyme about the cupboards you’re staring at during a party. Freestyle requires picking up momentum and confidence, but most importantly, it requires showmanship. What could be more dramatic than someone hushing your entire crew as your words crescendo to a near yell? Plus, you can always cheat by repeating the lines you mumbled earlier.

2. Cheat

No, you shouldn’t pre-write. Writing a freestyle rap beforehand will be obvious, no matter how hard you try. And never forget — rap is all about gaining a nearly unhealthy level of self-confidence. Being a confident liar is fine for toddlers, but not for a self-respecting emcee.

Nonetheless, you can always buy yourself time to think up new words with simple rhetorical tricks. For example, ask someone in the rap circle (a naturally occurring phenomenon when Homo sapiens engage in the ritual of freestyle) a ridiculous question and ridicule his answer. Repeat one line over and over, pointing at each member of the circle just to make sure they get the point. Make up words that rhyme with the names of your friends and define them in the most insulting way possible. Or put your ear to a fat guy’s gut and ask if he is hungry. These theatrics will serve a dual purpose: to buy time and make your freestyle more memorable.

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Findlay Brown – Love Will Find You

Findlay Brown MYSPACE

Like Morrissey? What about Roy Orbison… ? Now mix those two together and have a former bare-knuckle boxer from the UK write the songs and you will find yourself with Findlay Brown. Though the songs on Love Will Find You teeter on Neil Diamond-esque AM Gold, we find that in this day and age of music it’s actually a breath of fresh air. Check out the new video for the title track below and pick up this record when it hits stores this Spring.

Anatomy Of A Remix – Sleep Station: Flight 1

When we began the process of remaking these Sleep Station songs, Flight One seemed too hard a nut for us to crack. Essentially, we started each track of the EP by taking snippets of acoustic guitar and the tempo from these Sleep Stations songs and branching them out into hip hop inspired tangents – both lyrically and sonically.

Thankfully, Gavin was able to do a smooth job of cutting apart the one area of the song we could add a credible beat to – the very beginning. With that small loop, Gav put in a sparse atmospheric beat along with tiny shreds of the rest of the song and looped it so I could get a sense of the tempo and downbeat I’d be writing for and start arranging a chorus.

The album Hang In There Charlie is about two astronauts in the mid 70′s on a secret mission who protest the conditions of the space station, and are subsequently left to die in space. Eventually, NASA relents and lets one pilot go home, the other must die alone.
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Dino Spumoni – My Last Bow [Review]

Video records of Spumoni’s farewell performance at p.s. 118 in Greenpoint have been lost, save the above still image captured from a security camera in the school cafeteria

Dino Spumoni, once the undisputed king of New York City pop, takes a wistful look back in his latest and final album My Last Bow. Spumoni’s sensational run was largely defined by his legendary in-show antics at Manhattan’s old Circle Theater, most notably his debut of chart-topping single Smashed.

“Darling, you left my heart/ In pieces on the floor/ So tell me why shouldn’t I/ Break some things of yours?/I’ll smash your lamp/ the antique chair/ … Darling – POW – I’ll smash ‘em all”

Ever since, Spumoni’s lyrics have revolved around a comic zeal for chasing women at the expense of his own, or everyone else’s physical well-being. His next hit, No Touching – said to have been debuted at a demolitions-worker convention – seemed to perfect these themes.

“You’d better not touch my gal,” Spumoni crooned in halted, almost threatening tones. “I’ll pop you in the kisser pal.”

In My Last Bow, Spumoni makes it painfully clear that his partying days are over, and the same goes for his time as an inspired songwriter. (Some would argue it became clear when he released YO Dino Raps in the mid-90′s) In the title track Spumoni wails, pathetically, “Life was a gas/ but that gas has passed,” over a somber piano melody that falls down sonic stairs, much like Spumoni’s painful attempt at introspection, “I’ve gone from top of the pops/ to the back of the class.”

By the end of his opening tune at P.S. 118 the students seemed morose and inconsolable. One large-nosed child with a southern twang sobbed to his football-headed friend, “This really bites, Arnold!”

My sentiments exactly.