Friday, November 28, 2008

In Dreams I Talk to You

I dreamed last night I was born a thousand years ago... Actually, I dreamed last night that I went to a great new record store. There were people dressed as giant beer bottles, and they were handing out cheese samples. A woman asked me if I knew anyone who could get her some "legal speed". I said no. Then she asked me if I knew anyone who knew anyone who could get her some legal speed.

Suddenly I was wrestled to the floor by a man who wanted to look at the records I was standing in front of. He wouldn't let me up until I sang "Boom Boom" by John Lee Hooker. Finally, I ran into my old friend Chris (who hasn't called me in months). "Have you found any good records?" I asked him. "If I had, I wouldn't still be here," he replied. Damn! Why would you talk to me like that in my own dream, Chris??? Anyway, that was some record store.

I set up a playlist on where you can listen to some of my favorite new songs of 2008. Unfortunately, it appears that you have to log in to to listen to playlists. You can do that fairly quickly. Set up a free account, become an online DJ, and add Underneathica to your favorites. (Everyone's a blogger, and most people are DJ's.) You can listen to my latest blips here without logging in.

Friday, November 14, 2008

My Smile Is Stuck -- I Cannot Go Back to Your Frownland

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I Nominated My DJ for President

Two wonderful things happened on Tuesday. We elected a man who has pledged to end the war in Iraq; promote access to healthcare for our 47 million uninsured; reduce taxes for all but our wealthiest; and restore our financial stability and our tarnished reputation abroad. These are tall orders for a man who is currently choosing his Cabinet members (and a dog for his daughters). But the act of displacing the current occupants from the White House is a giant step in the right direction.

The other great thing that happened on November 4th was the return of the rapper known as Q-Tip. I say this with no intention of diminishing the historic significance of our 44th President's election. Q-Tip's journey has also been hard-fought and unlikely.

After his 1999 solo debut, Q-Tip recorded an ambitious album called Kamaal the Abstract, but Arista refused to release it. He changed labels and made an album in 2004 called Open, but J Records wouldn't release it. Q-Tip recorded Live at the Renaissance in 2005, but Universal/Motown (his third label in 10 years) shelved it until now. Wikipedia has a list of Q-Tip's myriad guest appearances during the past 20 years. (Yes, it's been that long since "Black Is Black".)

The Renaissance includes guest vocals by D'Angelo (another performer who hasn't made a record in years), Norah Jones (on the excellent "Life Is Better"), and Raphael Saadiq. Q-Tip raps fluidly over syncopated rhythms on "Johnny Died" (which dates back to Open) and "ManWomanBoogie" (which samples a Holger Czukay bassline!) The single, "Gettin Up", is upbeat and infectious; "Official" is a hot slice of boom-bap; and the anthemic closing track, "Shaka", pays tribute to Q-Tip's father and the late JDilla.

I don't listen to a lot of new hip-hop. I miss the glory days of Rakim, Quest and the Jungle Brothers. The only other rap album I paid any attention to this year was Mingle by the Saturday Knights. It's hard to get excited about speeded-up soul samples, auto-tuned vocals, and unimaginative rappers that Q-Tip calls "nursery rhyme n*ggas that play like they crime figgas". It's great to hear Q-Tip again.

Q-Tip and J.Period: Q-Tip for President (courtesy of
Saturday Knights: Count It Off (buy Mingle and vote for their video).