Friday, June 17, 2011

Ahoy and Avast!

Dating back to the Viking raiders of the early Middle Ages and their Muslim counterparts in the Mediterranean, pirates have long been renowned for their unparalleled seamanship, their savage ferocity and their propensity to bust the occasional rhyme. Sadly, while the Somali pirates of the modern era have forgotten their hip-hop roots – I blame Gilbert and Sullivan – one privateer and his motley crew are keeping the art form alive. Witness as Captain Dan and the Scurvy Crew lock lyrical cutlasses with Admirality of His Majesty's Royal Navy. Surely it's the fiercest round of lyrical pirate warfare since Calico Jack battle rapped Blackbeard on the windswept beaches of Jamaica in July of 1716.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Radio Free Hipster Ep. 112: Steal Big Steal Little

My thoughts on music sampling are as follows: Take what you need, be never deny it. I reckon that is tantamount to steal but don't lie which, while not exactly biblical, is a pretty measured statement of morality.

There are those among us who would say that mash-ups, that sample-heavy mixtapes, that unauthorized remixes in general are the basest form of musical expression. And to those people I give a hearty fuck you. To my mind, it's like saying that re-purposing sound chips as instruments or re-orchestrating your favorite TV theme is somehow artistically bankrupt. It's like saying that borrowing from the past negatively impacts the future.

And that's some bullshit.

So enjoy the following collection of dirty cheats and their filthy illegal music. Because, just like their predecessors, they are merely building on the music that came before. They're just a bit more honest about it than those ancestors.

Download Radio Free Hipster Ep. 112: Steal Big Steal Little [hosting provided by Antisoc] Size: 68.3 MB Running Time: 48:09

Show Notes:

Intro: Baddd Spellah – "Radio Free Hipster Theme (feat. Beefy)"
Is there unauthorized sampling in this theme song? Only my hairdresser knows for sure. 

Track 1: The Reborn Identity – "American Days are Over"
The Reborn Identity does some of the most engaging and understated mash-ups I've ever heard. 

Z's 1st interlude: "Despite the fact that it is an integral part of our national identity."
The notion of representative democracy? Stolen. Personal liberties? Stolen. The very land I am standing on? Wait for it – stolen. 

Track 2: MC Frontalot - "Good Old Clyde"
I actually included this one way the hell back in episode number 48

Track 3: Positive Attitude - "Killin' My Boner"
Surely the strangest thing to come out of Akron, Ohio since DEVO. 

Track 4: Mastgrr - "Cooking by the Book (Lil Bigger Mix)"
The word "infamous" comes instantly to mind. 

Track 5: A-1 - "Family Matters"
Gonna take this opportunity to once again pimp A-1's After School Special. It is the very epitome of a tightly themed modern mixtape. 

Track 6: DJ Tripp - "Dynamite Pressure"
The importance of including an "Under Pressure" boot shouldn't be lost on most of you. 

Track 7: mc chris - "MC Chris Ownz Paper Planes (M.I.A. Remix)"
Originally included in Radio Free Hipster Ep. 68. 

Track 8: K.Flay - "ON the bridge"
I still jam out to K.Flay's MASHed Potatoes. 

Z's 2nd interlude: "So think about that shit."
Did the whole Verve affair change the way I feel about the music of the Rolling Stones? No, but it continued to erode my faith in the traditional music biz. 

Track 9: Illbotz - "Tales of an 8th Grade Dooshnut"
"Used to call me Shitty McShitShit from Shitville and Shit, shiiiiiiiiiiiiit!" 

Track 10: DJ Fox - "Club Can't Use Somebody"
Am I the only one that thought "Club Can't Handle Me" was another goddamn Black Eyed Peas song? 

Track 11: Kabuto the Python - "American Song"
While I love the hell out of this track, I do reserve the right to be offended on behalf of various European hip-hoppers. 

Track 12: Antisoc - "A Completely Original Song"
Thanks to my buddy Tim for suggesting this one. I think it wrapped up this set quite nicely. 

Z's final interlude: "It did prepare the modern musical palate for the backlash that is the current mash-up phenomenon."
The more oppressive the IP-versus-fair-use debate gets, the more widespread and inventive bootleg remixers will become in response. 

Track 13: Jay-Zeezer - "Surf Wax off Your Shoulder"
This one is, if you can believe it, from way the hell back in episode 5!

Common knowledge holds that good artist borrow while great artists steal. I would argue that all artists do both, be it consciously or otherwise.

The trick is to wear your influences on your sleeve, to – and I'm saying this a devotee of the Modern Language Association – cite your sources. This blog is, for example, a little Lester Bangs, a pinch of Seanbaby, a dash of Bill Hicks and a great big ol' goddamn chunk of Jerry Holkins. I would never deny otherwise.

More to the point, this podcast is really just a glorified hybrid of Beefy's classic Just Another Lazy Podcast and my UK brother Tim's Radio Clash. (Okay, and maybe a tad bit of Wolfman Jack.) So if I ever find that someone has stolen my format or shtick please remind me to kindly shut the fuck up and take it.

The true strength of the internet, my friends, is that it allows us all the chance to steal quickly and more discriminately. And as digital culture evolves we shall surely morph into more perfect thieves, beautifully repurposing the old to fabricate the new.

Monday, June 13, 2011

That's the Anthem

In another time, in another life I was a musician myself. I gave it up eventually because, frankly, I wasn't particularly good at it, and I've never felt that was any great loss to the listening world.

The one thing I do miss, though, is songwriting. Again, that's not saying I was particularly adept at it, but I always enjoyed the process. Lyricism is a peculiar art, one where the sound of the words is as important as the meaning, and I've always believed that such is where the true magic of language lies.

So when my pal John Anealio approached me about co-writing a proper tribute to our fellow GeekDads I was honored. John's an amazing musician and an impeccable songwriter, but he still wanted me to help him carve a genuine song out of the larger idea he had going in.

Using a melody and some scratch vocals provided by John, I started writing down tiny snippets. These odd little vignettes based on things that I saw or did during an average week – everything from driving to work to watching Doctor Who – were eventually pared down into some simple verses that Sai Anealio then polished to a brighter sheen.

Still, my meager contributions are nothing compared to John's fantastic performance and skillful production, not to mention his underlying verse-chorus concept that got the ball rolling. He really managed to combine the best of both his straight-ahead, guitar-guy sound and his bigger, broader electronic sound into a truly unique outing. (Hell, I'd go so far as to call this the most John Anealio-y John Anealio song yet!)

So give it a listen. I'm really happy with how it turned out, and I hope you dig it too.