#GuelphMusicClub, Pt. VIII: Siblings

calvinhobbesnap

Quiet week for the #GuelphMusicClub.

Despite my late entry, it appears I am the first (ONLY?) to submit for the latest topic.

Is this a sign of things to come or the result of the hectic summer many of us were predicting?

Preferably, the latter.

With Hillside (@HillsideFest) having just wrapped up, MusicLives (@MusicLivesCA) making the transition to print, and myself preparing for my cousin’s upcoming wedding, I can’t even begin to imagine how busy everyone else must be.

‘Tis the season.

Special shout to Sound in My Memory (@soundinmymemory) who has done an admirable job in taking the reins.

I just hope everyone is having some fun as we enjoy the last of the dog days.

We will see you all back soon, no doubt!

PS. Welcome aboard to @andythequizzer who blessed us with an excellent debut last week.

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Siblings.

Therein lies the rub this time around.

It was actually trickier to nail down my favourite here than I had originally presumed.
Clearly, I was far from being alone in that sense!

My first instinct was to focus upon the gods on Earth known as the Isley Brothers.

By coincidence, I had the opportunity to see them in the live setting exactly 10 years ago from today’s date at SARSStock.
(remember that?)

FYI, they were masterful.

Then, I was thinking about bestowing the virtues of Robert and Dean DeLeo, two players who are – due to a lifetime of being confined within the walls of vanilla-rock – often overlooked and subsequently underrated in regards to their above-average songwriting and production skills.

Ultimately, I chose to nix that idea because of their willingness to openly associate themselves with this guy:

chesterbennington

But, in the end (it doesn’t even matter!?), I always prefer to shine a light on some of the lesser-knowns.

That’s why I decided to center this blog post on one of my fave rap groups..

JUGGAKNOTS

juggaknots

The Juggs (@juggaknots) are an underground rap crew hailing out of NYC.

Upon their formation in the early 90s, they primarily consisted of brothers Kevin and Paul Smith, otherwise known as Buddy Slim (producer) and Breezly Brewin’ (MC/producer), respectively.

After some time spent toiling away in music industry limbo, the duo were discovered by living legend, Bobbito García (@koolboblove), of the world-famous Stretch Armstrong & Bobbito show on WKCR-FM.

It was this association that would enable the Juggaknots to release their debut EP, Clear Blue Skies, in 1996 through Bobbito‘s fabled Fondle ‘Em Records label.

clearblueskies
This vinyl-only release was pressed as a limited run and physical copies have grown exceedingly rare. The A-side was labeled the Butter side, with the B-side known as the Barber side.

The project resulted in one of the most profound and compelling releases of the 90s.

Breeze Brewin’, as he would come to be known, laces the record with a razor-sharp wit and thought-provoking lyrics that are spit with an effortless and conversational flow.

He is largely devoid of the stereotypical rap braggadocio and instead, often chooses to humbly reflect upon sociopolitical issues that affect his own community and beyond.

For instance, take the title track in which Breeze raps from the point of view of the white son who falls in love with a black woman and due to this, discovers his father is a racist bigot:

JUGGAKNOTS – “Clear Blue Skies”
from the EP, Clear Blue Skies (1996)

That being said, the record is peppered with a lot of great humour and is about as far as it gets from being preachy and militant.

The EP didn’t really get its due props until it was re-packaged with 11 extra tracks and re-released in 2003 as Clear Blue Skies, Re:Release.

Given that the original release is long out of print, if you would like to hear Clear Blue Skies as it was originally sequenced, take your Re:Release copy and listen in the following order: 1, 2, 3, 11, 5, 9, 7, 20, 16.

Here’s another track that showcases the grimier side of early Juggaknots:

JUGGAKNOTS – “I’m Gonna Kill U”
from the EP, Clear Blue Skies (1996)

And Buddy Slim cannot be given enough acclaim for his beat work here.

The soundscapes are dark, dusty, and soulful, adding just enough mood and grit to make the words resonate that much further.

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It always seemed like Breeze was poised to break out.

His lyricism had always been next-level and he clearly garnered the respect of his peers.

Not only was he a member of two underground super-groups – one known as the Indelible MC’s, the other being the Weathermen – but he also managed to land the lead role in Prince Paul‘s (@DJPrincePaul) “hip-hopera” masterpiece, A Prince Among Thieves,which is, in my opinion, perhaps the greatest concept album ever made in the history of hip-hop.

Here’s a taste of all three:

PRINCE PAUL – “A Prince Among Thieves”

INDELIBLE MC’s – “Weight”

WEATHERMEN – “5 Left in the Clip” (RJD2 remix)

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In spite of these accomplishments, the Juggaknots remain a niche / “in-the-know” indie rap crew.

After a decade-long layoff between albums, they released their sophomore LP, Use Your Confusion, in 2006.

They also upped the sibling-quotient with this record, adding their sister Peridot Smith aka Queen Herawin as an official member of the group / 2nd MC.

She really shines on the following track which is basically a solo joint. And speaking of siblings, it was produced by Oh No (@ohnothedisrupt), the brother of Madlib (@madlib):

JUGGAKNOTS – “Daddy’s Little Girl” (prod. Oh No)
from the LP, Use Your Confusion  (2006)

Use Your Confusion has aged gracefully, in my opinion.

As mentioned previously, the respect the group commands is quite apparent through the tracklisting alone, as they managed to acquire features from icons such as Slick Rick (@iamSlickRick), Sadat X (@SadatX) of Brand Nubian, and Nine, among others.

There are also a few songs that show how they were again, ever-so-slightly ahead of their time.

The title track works as a fine example of this, with the production sounding like something the majority of rap has only begun to experiment with:

JUGGAKNOTS – “Use Your Confusion”
from the LP, Use Your Confusion  (2006)

Using the 10-year rule, I am really hoping the ‘Knots return in 2016 with some fresh lava.

These days, the crew is quite passive with the music, as they all double as full-time school teachers.

I also wanted to acknowledge the elusive 4th member of the squad, DJ Boo. I have heard whispers that he is also a relative, perhaps a cousin, but that cannot be confirmed.

In any case, there is no question that the Juggaknots are the ultimate when it comes to sibling rap crews.

To cap the post, here is one of the most recent works from Breeze Brewin’, as he was featured on J-Zone‘s (@jzonedonttweet) comeback 45:

J-ZONE – “the Fox Hunt” (feat. Breeze Brewin’, Prince Paul & Oxygen)
from the 45, the Drug Song (remix) b/w the Fox Hunt  (2012)

thejuggs

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#GuelphMusicClub, Pt. VII: Video Games

justindelrey

(no Lana Del Rey)

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I was pretty excited to partake in this week’s #GuelphMusicClub assignment.

I’m going to go in a whole bunch of directions with this one so bear with me.

When it comes to my favourite video game music, it would be impossible to narrow it down to only one song.

Saying that, there are two choices that immediately came to mind and I have to acknowledge them both here.

To start, let it be said that the Legend of Zelda series has already been listed and rightfully so.

A lot of people will immediately think of Super Mario Bros. when it comes to legendary video game music, the impact of which cannot be questioned.

mariovslink
However, the score to the Zelda games are just as iconic, perhaps even more so in the eyes (ears?) of the really nerdy 80s babies.

I have never owned a Nintendo 64 so while I hear many people say that Ocarina of Time represents the pinnacle of the series, I am partial to A Link to the Past from the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) console.

Many hours were spent playing this game to completion. To this day, I consider it to be one of the most perfect games ever made.

Whenever I used to bring Link to the Great Fairy Fountain, I would take some time to reflect and listen to this loop over and over..

“Fairy Fountain”
from the Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES – 1991)

Dreamy, huh?

Am I just on some nostalgia shit or is that not a great fucking melody!?

Actually, if you wanna get familiar with some awesome Zelda music in an unconventional way, check out Team Teamwork‘s awesome free tape, the Ocarina of Rhyme.

Here’s the remix they put together using my pick as the main sample:

Slim Thug & Mike Jones – “Still Tippin’ (Team Teamwork remix)”
from the Ocarina of Rhyme (2009)

And just in case you want to compare it against the original.. 😀

Mike Jones – “Still Tippin'” (feat. Slim Thug & Paul Wall)
from Who is Mike Jones? (2004)

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As I implied earlier, this is going to be a very self-indulgent post..

Keep in mind, Zelda was my 1A, so to speak, with this next one serving as my 1B.

MATTAFAK, I guess that means these picks are kinda like the Leafs (@MapleLeafs) goaltending situation, except not shitty. U MAD???

My next pick is taken from one of the most badass games of the 90s, Donkey Kong Country.

Nintendo really turned a corner with this game. You could say their partnership with Rare was the video game equivalent of Disney linking up with Pixar.

You remember how crazy those graphics were?

I mean, they managed to make a gorilla riding a big-ass ostrich look realistic as fuck.

my man ride a rhino no sweat too tho

rhinos ain’t no thing neither

I always fucksed with the underwater levels pretty heavy in this game.

And that leads me to..

“Aquatic Ambience”
from Donkey Kong Country (SNES – 1994)

Honestly, I still listen to this track to this day.

I like to claim responsibility for introducing this one to the Ambient Chillout & Trip Hop room on turntable.fm (@turntablefm) back when that was still the spot.

(that goes double for Blue Sky Black Death [@BSBDmusic] but I digress)

Can you believe this game was so popular that they actually pressed the soundtrack to disc under the name DK Jamz?

And it sold fairly well, I remember when it was on the walls of my local HMV (@hmvcanada).

Talk about different times!

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I also just wanted to touch upon how rich the audio side of video game development has become.

In his latest #GuelphMusicClub contribution, Mat Calverley (@matcalverley) was the first to mention composer Jeremy Soule, a man who I became familiar with upon the completion of Skyrim – the fifth installment in the Elder Scrolls series.

The music was so integral to the experience of that game that I didn’t think it could be topped.

And surely not so soon.

But Gustavo Santaollala may have done just that with his score for the Last of Us.

Please watch the following video:

The soundtrack in its entirety is something else. I highly recommend checking it out.

These video games are really upping the ante now that the original scores are coming courtesy of Academy Award winning composers!

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BONUS GAME:

Just for kicks – some select video game samples in RAP!!

Camu Tao – “Death”
from King of Hearts (2010)

sample taken from Ranger X
(Sega – 1993)

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Statik Selektah – “Punch Out” (feat. Big Shug)
from Spell My Name Right (2007)

sample taken from Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!
(Nintendo – 1987)

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People Under the Stairs – “Gamin’ on Ya”
from FUN DMC (2008)

sample taken from …
TOO MANY TO COUNT!! YOU TELL ME!! (in the comments, perhaps?)

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Kudos if you got to the end of this post!
I had fun with it!

Crate Diggers: Shepard Fairey

obey
Crate Diggers continue to move a little left by shifting the spotlight onto Obey / Shepard Fairey with this latest episode.

Did his name ring a bell? If not, you are likely familiar with him without realizing it due to the following poster:

lol.

lol.

Shepard Fairey has long been known for his underground street art but obviously achieved a new level of notoriety once he decided to go all bRoBaMa and blatantly appropriate the work of others without giving credit.

He’s still cool tho.

Even though a lot of his shit always kinda reminded me of a hackneyed Aidan Hughes.

But who cares, right!?
This program is about nerds nerding out on records.
And this dude is definitely a fuckin’ NERD.

His enthusiasm and his anecdotes make it a fun episode.
And the dude is an icon, regardless.

TAKE A LOOK AT EPISODE NO. 28 BELOW

Also, follow the creator of the Crate Diggers series on Twitter, @Jasonrnewman

More New Bowjia: “In Your Nature”

bowjia

Bowjia (@Bowjia) are BACK with another track off of their highly anticipated upcoming full length, Ballooniverse.

This latest track is available as a free download to their SoundCloud followers.

You can also stream “In Your Nature” below:

Anyone who knows me knows how big I am on these guys. The diversity of their young catalogue continues to astound me.

They are beginning to make some serious moves on the low and I feel it is only a matter of time before their name picks up in terms of industry brand recognition.

For those who missed my previous Bowjia post, they also leaked a new track to radio last month entitled, “New Tropics“.

Check that out below:

Loe Pesci – “Headbangers” (Official Video)

Old song, new video.

One of my personal faves from Loe Pesci (@LoePesci), not to mention the ultra slept-on Moon Boots (@MoonBoots_OGHK), producer of this track.

Pretty cool that he gave it the video treatment. Featuring a prominent cameo from Bender (@Al_Bender) of Flight Distance (@FlightDistance).

The King of the Dot (@KingOfTheDot) standout had been quiet for a while but that appears to be changing with these new visuals combined with his recent return to the international battle stage.

peshanime

He hasn’t been quite as prolific over the past few years but in my opinion, Pesh was in contention for best rapper in the Canadian underground at one point.

The potential remains but he has a tendency to go dark for a while.
Nevertheless, Canada should know about this guy.

CLIFF NOTES:

  • One ½ of rap duo, OG Hindu Kush (@OGHinduKush), which also features another nasty Canadian MC in Osa (@OsaHK). The pair dropped their debut album, In 3D, in 2011 – one of my favourite releases of that year.oghindukush

expensiveheat

  • Earlier in 2012, he dropped his first official solo LP, GOOD x 2. This is the album from which “Headbangers” originally appears.

goodx2

agl

  • His most recent track was released to the internet at the beginning of 2013. Check out “Small Vikings” produced by Joe Black below:

#GuelphMusicClub, Pt. VI: Classical

After being late with my contribution to last week’s sports posts, I decided to jump right into the next topic.

The newest #GuelphMusicClub assignment deals with our favourite classical songs.

this dude is freaking out!

this dude is just freaking right out!!

Now, I am about the furthest thing from a connoisseur when it comes to this particular genre, yet several melodies immediately popped into my head when I began to ponder my own selection.

Unfortunately, my limited knowledge meant I had no idea what any of these pieces were named, who the composers were, or even the slightest frickin’ clue as to how I would go about finding any of that information.

When are they going to invent a version of Shazam that can identify the tune you are whistling? That’d be EXTREME!

Alas, all of this means that my selection(s) won’t end up as the most original of picks.
But it shall have to suffice.

Beethoven – “Moonlight Sonata” (1st mvt.)
as interpreted by Claudio Arrau

When it comes to classical music, I tend to gravitate towards the shit that makes you want to throw yourself off of a bridge. This one does that for me.
(I’m still here, though.. SORRY PLAYER)

The “Moonlight Sonata”, as it has come to be known, picks up in terms of pace and dynamics in the 2nd and 3rd movements, but it is the first part that is by far the most recognizable.

It is said that Beethoven fell in love with one of his pupils and dedicated this piece to her.

Soon after, he proposed to her, though her parents made it clear that she was forbidden to marry him.

Most likely because his name was Ludwig.

In spite of all this, the music itself remains as evocative today as it did upon its release many centuries ago.

And Arrau‘s interpretation is arguably the most gorgeous of them all.

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Speaking of Claudio Arrau, I’m gonna use him to up the Guelph quotient here by posting his excellent version of Chopin‘s “Fantaisie-Impromptu, Op. 66“:

Where is the relevance? Because the piece serves as the basis for “Cranky Banditz” by the Bourgeois Cyborgs, a (now-defunct?) duo led by the legendary Guelph oracle, Noah23 (@THENOAH23) who kills the second verse here:

Shout out Baracuda tho who is still doin’ it.
And apologies to MadadaM (ill producer) for sample snitching.

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Honourable mentions:

Bach – “Air on the G String”


beautiful.

Liszt – “Consolation No. 3”


ethereal.