The Cipher 04/20/11: “Disco Dynamite”

April 20th, 2011 by | Tags: , ,

it’s dynamite

created: I get out ahead of things until I hit that point where I’m suddenly not. I’m gonna try to double my output soon, I think. More of more than ever before.

-I like Tonci Zonjic’s work a lot.

-a new weekly feature on digital comics to buy

been broke before, all i’m saying’s get dough

consumed: Sore throat’s gone! But my voice is still kinda raaaaaaaaspy. (yo, I totally forgot that David Banner was in this joint. The old Banner, too, back before he turned himself into a sex symbol!)

This interview with David Simon is excellent. Reading this guy always makes me want to do more and do better, and hurt whoever deserves it. He’s dead-on about everything he says, too, from newspapers to how America is more than willing to eat its young.

-Sometimes you just read this stuff and get depressed, like the train is already off the tracks, sailing down the cliff, and we’re just waiting for the impact.

-Soundtracks… I’m listening to Blu right now, so bump this while you read. I’ll be listening to DJ Quik before this post is done, so put this joint he did with Kurupt on.

-Actually, bump that last one first so that I can talk about it.

-“9x Outta 10” is absurd rap, with this brutal beat and sample haunting Kurupt’s sideways verse. And then Quik fades in, Kurupt fades out, and then it stops–

-But it’s gonna start again, where it started at, ended up, and restart again. Get your mind in the right position before it start again.

-I can’t tell you how much I love Kurupt’s performance on this song. Quik came through in a huge way with the beat, creating a beat that’s simultaneously classic boom-bap (ignore the sample, and just listen–it ain’t that complicated) and like a dirty, grimey version of early Kanye, but Kurupt’s delivery is just… it’s not all over the place. He’s too good for that and everything lands where it’s supposed to be. But he breaks from how rap songs usually get broken up and completely changes how the song sounds. You can’t drop a regular verse on this track after this, and I don’t even really want the instrumental for a ringtone (yes I do).

-Kurupt came with that tongue-twister Jenga skyscraper flow, just pulling out blocks and putting them where you wouldn’t expect them to go. The chorus blends into the verse, Quik’s verse is part of Kurupt’s verse, and the sample bleeds and bends until it’s not even words any more, it’s just music.

-Two things: that shot of Kurupt breathing out smoke is incredible. “Don’t talk to me no more about no motherfucking money.”

-Quik and Kurupt are west coast legends. I’ve been a fan for years. Longer for Kurupt, I think, ’cause I liked Tha Dogg Pound a whole lot.

-More on drinkin’ smokin’ straight west coastin’:

-I bought two albums today. One was DJ Quik’s The Book of David, which I’ll come back to in a bit. I’m listening to Blu’s Her Favorite Colo(u)r right now, the other album I bought, and it’s got about ten minutes left. I haven’t listened to Quik’s record yet, but I liked Blu’s joint back when it dropped for free, unmastered, in 2009.

-I’ve tried to put what I like about Blu down on paper before, but trying again couldn’t hurt, right?

-I just got distracted for like ten minutes trying to ID the piano from Blu’s “Pardon”. It’s from Curtis Mayfield’s We the People Who Are Darker Than Blue”. He chopped up Mayfield’s vocals (that’s Mayfield going “Pardon me brother”) and sped up the music.

-Blu’s whole sound is really interesting to me, and that brief burst of sample digging kinda illustrates why. He’s not particularly lyrical (like “I’m lyrical miracle dropping bombs like spherical dirigibles”). He comes across as genuine in his rhymes, like a normal dude who just likes to make music and is talented enough to have a national platform.

-His beats tend to be these relaxed, soulful joints that I really dig. He’s not really about pumping out hits. Every rap song out right now sounds like Lex Luger produced it. Luger is dope, but that’s wack. Blu’s a nice corrective. You can just vibe out to his music, put it on in the background, and get your bougie smart-art cat on.

-And when it comes to songs that have some knock… well, listen to “Disco Dynamite” again. He can do that, too. I’m assuming him and Mainframe co-produced that joint, and maybe I’m wrong, but that beat is undeniable. It’s not as “What did the shotgun say to the head?” as Kurupt and Quik’s “9x Outta 10”, but it’s a definite headnodder. He’s got that Raekwon Juggernaut flow, just kicking rhymes.

-Also the girl(s) at 2:00 and 2:05.

-Quik’s album just came up on iTunes.

-Versatility is nice. You could definitely put Blu in a lane if you wanted to, maybe because of his movie and music samples, but he knows how to pull in these disparate influences and sources and create something new. Some of his songs positively meander. He’ll drop a verse, let the sample breathe for a minute, drop another verse, and out. A minute or more of no vocals, and the beat just riding out. I like that a whole lot.

-DJ Quik I have less to say about, but I dig him a lot, probably for similar. If you put a Quik album and a Dr. Dre album in front of me… I’m gonna grab the Quik record. Dre is dope when he tries, but his perfectionism and stage fright basically make him a dude who has coasted for at least ten years now. Quik has consistently put out dope tracks for everyone from 8Ball & MJG to himself to Tupac. You can be a genius producer, but if you never bother to produce, why should I care?

-Quik’s name is David, too, so that’s bonus points right there.

-Quik didn’t ever really fit into the West Coast sound. He wasn’t G-Funk enough for the mid ’90s and he didn’t have that hypnotic Dr. Dre knock of the late ’90s into the ’00s. But he’s versatile, too. “Do Today” just came up on iTunes and it goes. Apparently it’s got part of The Family’s “Screams of Passion” in it, and it’s definitely got that ’80s synth funk pop sound. Quik’s dope with the keyboards, really.

-Quik was an alternative to Warren G, Battlecat, and Dre, but never took that hard turn toward New York that Alchemist did. I don’t think he ever had that underground, Dilated Peoples/Hiero/Murs sound, either. He’s always been his own dude. Someone with a better sense of history than me could probably tell it better.

-I bought Portal 2. What’s up with not having a body in first person games? You pick up and hold things constantly, but never see your arms. You run around and jump, but never see your legs. I don’t think the water even splashes when you move through it.

-It’s this weird uncanny valley thing, and it keeps me from getting engrossed in the game. It’s a reminder that it’s fake, like some schmuck in a comic book mugging at the camera or saying something like, “We’re not in a comic book, Captain America! Life doesn’t work like that!”

-Angie Wang is a dope artist and I swear she finds the best games. She’s working on a book for First Second right now. When it’s announced and ships, buy it.

-Play that one. I’m finding a strange amount of enjoyment in these arty/non-violent games. It forces me to mentally shift gears, so that it’s not about competition so much as the experience in and of itself.

-Achievements, trophies… all that stuff is stupid. I reject being a completionist or proving my worth. I’m all about the experience now. Scores don’t matter. Rankings don’t matter. I don’t care. Is it fun? Am I interested? If I spend five minutes with it, will those five minutes keep my attention?

-These little art games tickle a part of my brain that rarely gets tickled when I play games, whether for pleasure or for work. They’re nice.

-A bit more about music…

-Jim Jones, “Everybody Jones.”

-This song goes.

-The beat is hot, and while Jimmy does more or less his regular flow (“We Fly High,” “Pop Champagne,” “Get Like Me”), he’s pulling that ’90s jiggy swag into 2011 more or less intact. This whole joint is just “Capo got stuff and girls like him. Harlem!” It’s a shopping list set to music, the 2011 equivalent of a poster of a Porsche on a teenager’s wall.

-Jones’s swag has been interesting lately, though. Him and Dipset had that whole pink Polo thing on lock, but at some point, probably shortly after Dipset broke up, they got into that rock star style. Skull & crossbones, wallet chains, properly fitted jeans (which is tough, for real), kick game vicious, chains back to ’90s size but either solo or in absurd numbers… the swagger is definitely black, for lack of a better word, but at the same time, it isn’t. Rock star rapper swag.

-The neon green and purple that Jones is sporting is fresh, too. It pops against his otherwise regular clothes. I couldn’t pull it off, but I’m definitely down to swagger jack some of his normal style.

-I bought another album, though it was the other day. Exile & Free The Robots’ LA Series 10.

-It’s a vinyl project, so it probably loses a little in the translation to mp3. Exile did one side, four songs that combine to form one long song, while Free the Robots did the other side. It’s not really a collaboration. It’s the tenth in a series of records about LA.

-I don’t want to say too much about it, because I think I want to do an Albarn post on it, but I dig it a whole lot. Both sides are good, but Exile’s wins by a mile.

-The thing about Exile’s half is that all the words I want to use it describe it are negative. His songs sound like the aftertaste of poison on your girlfriend’s lips after your last kiss or like looking at a broken, rotting building feels.

-I mean that in a good way, is the thing.

-“There was a hole here. It’s gone now” music.

-Even the track titles… “Distopian Utopia,” “PCP Laced Beedies,” “Love for Sell/Bots have feelings,” and “Dawn of the Nothing.” All of that feels wrong, like a body that’s about half as warm as it should be.

-Exile made this little four song sequence that crawls up under your skin and whispers in your ear while you sleep. I’m really glad I bought this joint. It’s music to think about.

-It sounds like parts of Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira feels, and that’s already got a mean soundtrack (here and here) that’ll sit in your hindbrain.

-Exile worked with Blu on the Below the Heavens LP. I recommend that joint.

-Gonna ride out to some Blu this week, I think. I’m looking forward to No York, his next full-length of original material.

TheExplaNation from Johnson Barnes on Vimeo.

a new shooting star, falling off the roof

David: Hellblazer 278, Hulk 32, Thunderbolts 156
Gavin: vivaaaaaaa las vegas

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10 comments to “The Cipher 04/20/11: “Disco Dynamite””

  1. Say, I remember you were excited about Treme last year before its debut. (I believe you described it as a “problem.”) So what did you actually think of it?

    I thought it was quite good, but I can see how the deliberately slow pace might have been off-putting to some.

    I don’t go for achievements for their own sake, or for rankings, but because I like to try to master everything the game has to offer. Example: right now I’m playing Arkham Asylum. (I’m always about a year behind current gaming, because I refuse to pay more than $20-30 for a game.) The only achievement I haven’t “won” is the one for beating the game on hard. Well, right now I’m playing it on hard, but only because I’m enjoying the challenge. When I get 100%, that’s just a nice bonus.

    Counter-example: The other game I’m playing is Ultimate Dragon Age Origins. I’m enjoying it, but I can’t see myself playing through it more than twice (if that). So I doubt I’ll get all of the achievements, but I don’t really care.

    I prefer games that “give” you things for completion, like artwork or bonus levels or whatnot. Having just a “trophy” seems a bit hollow.

  2. @clay: There are some games I like to master (Ninja Gaiden is probably the biggest and most recent example), but overall, yeah, I just sorta play until I get bored and move onto the next.

    Treme was okay. I ended up not finishing the first season. I’ll have to sit down with it again at some point, but honestly, it sort of wandered around and I had trouble staying interested.

  3. I would definitely suggest you revisit Treme. Most of the plot threads that seem to meander early on build to a nice climax at the end. But the show’s not about plot, really. It’s about character and setting, slice-of-life stuff. And music, excellent music.

  4. Did you miss Covert Coup? Curren$y raps his ass off on that.

  5. Haha thanks, dude, I’m glad you like them. The indie/art/experimental game scene is really rich in talent right now and it’s booming. (I kinda wish they’d break out of the 8bit aesthetic but it does in all practicality allow experimental programmers to make simple, beautiful games without needing to hire an artist.)

    Have you already played Small Worlds? http://armorgames.com/play/4850/small-worlds

  6. David, you writing about hip-hop is fucking dope, i appreciate coming to a good comic book blog site and reading about my other passion. Much love man, if you ever come to Perth, Australia, hit me up.

  7. @Angie: I have! But it’s been months. I dug that one, too.

    @Vince Cicchino: Thanks man. if you want to read more, I’ve got a few more over here, and more to come.

    @Adam K: Yeah, I’ve got it. Curren$y over Alchemist beats is real interesting.

  8. @ David: Been keeping up with it for a long time, bro. Too good! You and me got a lot in common, not just comic books and hip-hop but your love for Japanese lore, kung-fu flicks, all that. Good to find a kindred spirit.

    Just made my own blog, got a couple pieces you will probably like. Have a peep when you get the chance:


  9. oh and I added a link to 4thletter on it, hope that’s cool.

  10. @david brothers:

    @ David: Been keeping up with it for a long time, bro. Too good! You and me got a lot in common, not just comic books and hip-hop but your love for Japanese lore, kung-fu flicks, all that. Good to find a kindred spirit.

    Just made my own blog, got a couple pieces you will probably like. Have a peep when you get the chance:


    oh and I added a link to 4thletter on it, hope that’s cool.

    sorry for the post cloning. just getting used to all of that @someone business..