Shot Of Rhythm

[ Friday, December 08, 2006 ]


Good news

For those who've paid any attention to this blog over the last few months, you'll understand why this is some of the best, and in certain ways, surprising news I've heard in quite a while. For those who are newer visitors to the Shot Of Rhythm universe, check out previous entries on Inner Sleeve here, here, and here. These are by no means the only cases of Sleeve-based writing on this blog, but they'll serve the purpose well enough.

Thanks to Jeff Ash for pointing me in the direction of this news. More on music later today or tomorrow.

On the box right now: Nas, HIP HOP IS DEAD.


Dove With Claws [8:23 AM]

[ Thursday, December 07, 2006 ]


And you don't stop

I apologize for the relatively scattershot quality of recent entries, but I'm right in the middle of end-of-semester craziness, which makes more coherent additions a bit difficult to find either time or energy for. Luckily, there's been plenty of noise around the music world, which allows me to spotlight a few this-and-that kinda things that y'all should be paying attention to. Today, I present a bit of hip-hop, with another new Beyonce tune thrown in at the end for yer "Girl Power" pleasure.

First is Pigeon John, a Bay Area-based Quannum rapper who's carved out a comfortable niche for himself within the "conscious"/backpack rap community over the last few years. While my interest in that genre (even at its best) is relatively close to minimal, I've certainly been struck by a few of the cuts off of John's last record, THE SUMMERTIME POOL PARTY. It seems like he's aware of what so many "conscious" MCs fail to recognize: however good the lyric, however "uplifting" the message, the hook and beat better be good if anybody's gonna give a damn. This track, which I heard in a record store and caught me off guard, is the best example of that.

Pigeon John - "Weight Of The World"

Next is the mighty Mos Def, whose new album - TRU3 MAGIC - drops next week. Here's a brief preview, which suggests that - after the spotty NEW DANGER, which definitely had its highlights...and its lowlights - Mos might be a bit more back on track. The rest of the record isn't always as compelling as "Sun Moon Stars," but it seems that Black Dante is ready to settle into his sung/rapped, easy-rolling groove once again. I really believe that Mos has a couple albums in him that are even better than his masterful debut, BLACK ON BOTH SIDES, and - while TRU3 MAGIC isn't quite it - it's good enough to help me keep the faith a while longer.

Mos Def - "Sun Moon Stars"

Then there's Ghostface Killah, who's already released one fine album this year, and is about to drop another worthy effort. This track, which already leaked onto the web a couple months ago, is Ghost at his sunniest and most energetic, a vibe for him which gets lost in his starker atmospheres and lyrical themes, but which - for me - is just as interesting and worthwhile. MORE FISH drops next week.

Ghostface Killah (feat. Trife Da God and Mr. Maygreen) - "Good"

Finally, Beyonce continues her year-long winning streak with "Beautiful Liar," the origin of which I'm not sure of, but which is certainly good enough to stand with the best stuff on B-DAY, an album that sounds better to me every day.

Beyonce - "Beautiful Liar"

On the box right now: Taylor Hicks, TAYLOR HICKS. More on this later.


Dove With Claws [6:43 AM]

[ Sunday, December 03, 2006 ]


The club, the church and the war

Three more tunes floating around the World Wide Web, each of which has a newfound place en mi corazon.

-First is Ciara and 50 Cent's new single, the club-knockin', beat-rockin', sizzla-shockin' banger "Dope Boyz." If pop music has proven anything, it's that there are infinite combinations of melody, rhythm and arrangement to make you wanna shake something loose. While Ciara is not my favorite of the one-word-three-syllable R&B divas (Beyonce, Rihanna and the late great Aaliyah are certainly higher), she's definitely has her moments.

Ciara (feat. 50 Cent) - "Dope Boyz"

-Next is Paris Bennett, from AMERICAN IDOL, the combination gospel shouter/jazz stylist whose uniquely premature talent wasn't built to last on the Idol juggernaut, but which - given the right contexts - could become really interesting, even unique, within big-game pop music. And by the right contexts, I think I might mean something like this.

Paris Bennett - "Dreamin'"

-Lastly, and by far most importantly, here's The Roots' version of Dylan's "Masters Of War," recorded at a recent Radio City Music Hall Dylan tribute, which - according to basically every source - the world-famous Roots crew completely owned after this blistering, jazz-impulse take on Dylan's polemic masterpiece. Dig how, even after "Star-Spangled Banner" gets put through the looking glass, Questlove, Captain Kirk and the rest have room for "Machine Gun" and "You Dropped A Bomb On Me" in the 9-minute mix. In a year when The Roots have more than established themselves as second-to-none, a triumph of this magnitude is almost too much to take. (I said almost.) This is a mash-up of historical proportions, and my vote for the bootleg performance of the year...or maybe performance of any kind. Here's to the funky, funny, frightening truth.

The Roots - "Masters Of War" (live)

On the box right now: Mos Def, TRU3 MAGIC. The mighty Mos returns. More later...


Dove With Claws [5:12 PM]