Sunday, June 15, 2008

Diplo vs The Roots part 2

Diplo brings more of his style to the mix. As a result, he opens the ears for new music and a new journey in the mind of the listener. Of course to keep the partee going he will drop familiar party songs but his ear for new, exciting club oriented music has made a name for himself over the years and influenced what other djs are playing and listening and mixing. He has done this with amazing fervor, flavor and worldwide acceptance. Yet people still do not know who he is. On the other side, The Roots have experimented with their albums to my surprise and satisfaction, but their show has seem to diminish. Maybe they are getting lazy or unfamiliar with what a good hip hop band is or used to be. They pretty much created and heightened but now they are so jammy that it is scary. Yes i know the show should be consistent each time but maybe that is problem. Hip hop is about keeping it fresh and new. However, Black Thought says it best "I done lost my passion."

Monday, June 9, 2008

Why Diplo is better than The Roots

Ok, look at me like i am crazy. But I attended The Roots Family Picnic in Philly on saturday in the sweltering heat. There was a main stage and an inside stage where the air conditioning was the highlight at first. A few small acts started the day off and the sponsors of the festival were begging for your attention all day. Forget them, the reall deal is Diplo. After watching a set by some unknown act from France that replaced Deerhoof and Gnarles Barkley, Diplo slammed the people with a ferocious thunder bass booming move your feet brilliance and to parapharse "this is my intro." Damnnnnnnnn. After that set, i was sweating like a madmen ready to kill. Punk mania from a DJ. Yes sir. Then a chillled out, watched a few people dance around to the sounds of Tec9ine and a flurry of mixtape djs from Philly. Then i smoked a little, met a few mates from DC and Jersey respectively, smoked a little more and vibed out to the sounds of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. The Cool Kids rocked the main stage before them. Did Chitown proud fo sure fo sure. Then The Roots stepped into the ring. Now i am from philly so i expect mass mania all night. Then started the night with some new joints that are hot from the album. They even broight P.O.R.N. and Hub just to really represent the past and the future. But then, Jam Hour began. I am not sure why. Some old stuff but more mixtape BS from a live band. Look, i know that is how they came up. They covered songs or partially covered songs in order to energize the crowd but this Philly. We are already fans. More disappointing than that was no guest appearances from Malik B, Peedi Crak, Jill Scott, Talib Kweli, Common, Mos Def and the list goes on. I was hot, I was sticky and i was pissed.

Friday, June 6, 2008


Worldwide The Death Set
[Counter/Ninja Tune; 2008]
Rating: 6.8
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The fusion of rap and heavy metal in the mid-1980s was as inevitable as it was initially novel, what with the premium both genres place on earthquaking drum beats and aggressive phallocentricism. But somewhere in the journey from "Rock Box" to Limp Bizkit, rap was effectively divorced from its true spiritual white-boy cousin-- punk rock, with which it shared roots in the underclass, modest, DIY means of production and a certain outspoken candor. It's a connection that wasn't lost on everybody-- most notably, the young Beastie Boys, but where the Beasties felt it was a prerequisite to drop their guitars in order to pass the mic, some 25 years later, the opening salvo from Baltimore's Death Set proffers another option for another rap-savvy punk-rockers: "Listen to This Collision".

For Death Set, the collision is not just musical-- hitching revved-up buzzsaw guitars to machine-gunned low-budget beats-- but demographic and, most notably, physical. Upon stumbling into their afternoon South by Southwest set last March, I was greeted with the sight of beardo indie-rock dudes and neon-hatted Spank Rock look-alikes bum-rushing the stage with equal gusto, while Death Setters Johnny Siera and Beau Velasco-- flanked by two drummers-- stood gleefully in the centre of the melee, as stage-diving bodies flew around them like storm debris. That the band are denizens of Dan Deacon's Wham City should come as no surprise, but a Death Set show presents a new utopia: Slam City.

Their debut disc, Worldwide, can't match that display for sheer visceral thrills-- its compact, lo-fi production inspires less of a pogo and more of a vigorous head-nod, and with 18 over-caffeinated tracks in 25 minutes, the album feels like a particularly sweet treat that passes through your system far too quickly. But as we approach the impending global oil crisis, the disc's unbridled enthusiasm presents itself as a viable alternative energy source. Worldwide adopts the ghetto-tech machination and chest-pumped posturing of early-80s rap, but-- in the words of a classic "Mr. Show" sketch-- without all that rap. Instead, the shout-it-out-loud exhortations of "Intermission" and "Impossible"-- Worldwide's surefire circle-pit instigators-- expose rapid-fire flows and punk-rock sloganeering as products of the same bratty insolence.

A great deal of Death Set's charm lies in how their toothsome double-guitar attack is deliberately undermined by their tinkertoy beats and new-waved keys; when the band try to overcompensate with the aggro, like on the robo-hardcore thrasher "Day in the Wife", they sound like they've arrived 10 years too late for the Atari Teenage Riot. But Siera and Velasco mostly know that, with their helium-high, munchkin voices, they're not going to fool anyone with a hardcore pose. Like Ween in their infancy, their band is really a vehicle to play out basement rock-star and gangsta fantasies-- Worldwide is littered with cheekily self-aware shout-outs to "the muthafuckin' Death Set"-- but in their hearts of hearts, they're just a couple of softies: with endearing blitzkrieg-pop confections like "Had a Bird" and "Selective Memories", Death Set appear no more threatening than a couple of kids on Christmas morning waiting to unwrap the new, all-Superchunk edition of "Guitar Hero".

-Stuart Berman, June 06, 2008