Saturday, 17 March 2007

Hip Hop


So I thought I could talk about how a Jewish kid growing up in the suburbs got interested in hip hop.
It wasn't through my brother, who wrote for lots of hip hop magazines (and still does) and received dozens of demo tapes in the mail.
And my parents were terrified of my the genre, and seemingly black music in general (except for my dad's weird admiration for Eminem, all based on watching 8 Mile. As my dad says, "I like that Eminem. He's VERY talented.")
It was my now friend Ari Zilnik. He was friends with a bunch of my friends. I had heard he was a DJ, so I thought it'd be cool to share some of my parent's old records with him.
He came over with my friend Josh and we went crate digging in my basement. I kept bringing Ari records at school, and we became fast friends. I had heard an RJD2/ Aceyalone song on a blog and told Ari about it.
Ari burnt me the entire Magnificent City album it came from, which was my first hip hop album. I actually don't love that album so much now, but it was the shit at the time.
My tastes got more voracious. As I started to be aware of the rap on the radio, I realized how shitty it was, for the most part. So I started acquainting myself with golden age hip hop from the late 80s and early 90s.
And that's where I'm at now.
I think it's the samples. When I was younger, I used to mess with voice recording software and YakBaks. I find it endlessly fascinating how producers and DJs can manipulate a sample to make it utterly unrecognizable. Ex: Jay Dee using a 60s folk record and making it sound like an old soul record for Jaylib's "The Red". "Shine on, straight arrow" became "All night long" in his capable hands.
Rest in peace, Dilla.
(for those unacquainted with the YakBak:
http://www.optigan.com/yakbak.html)

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Spike Jonze's Music Videos

I went a bit of a binge the other night.
I sat and watched Spike Jonze music videos for about an hour on Monday when I was supposed to be working.
As much as I like some of his movies (Adaptation didn't really click with me, but Being John Malkovich was intriguely bizarre.
Jonze suffers from a problem I think a lot of music video director-turned-movie directors suffer from. (I make no excuses for McG, however. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McG)
Their ideas are brilliantly creative and delightful in the framing of a short-form music video, but feel strained and willfully quirky over the course of an entire movie.
Michel Gondry is another example of this, as well. I enjoyed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but the whole thing would have worked better as a short film.
But enough criticism. Watch Jonze's video for Biggie's "Sky's The Limit".
It's a brilliant take on Bugsy Malone but for the rap community. The attention to detail is astounding: one scene shows Puffy (now Diddy, of course) watching a preschool aged Busta Rhymes's music video.
Also: predates the vid for Three Six Mafia's "Poppin' My Collar" by several years!



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