monday mixtape haterism

May 6th, 2013 Posted by david brothers

monday mixtape haterism from brothers on 8tracks Radio.

Eight songs here, which should play in random order. The list:
-Curren$y – Armoire feat. Young Roddy & Trademark – The Stoned Immaculate
-Aesop Rock – Getaway Car feat. Cage, Breeze Brewin – None Shall Pass
-B-Rock & The Bizz – My Baby Daddy
-Angel Haze – Realest – Reservation
-Copywrite – Light’s Out feat. Catalyst – The Jerk
-Johnson & Jonson – Hold On John – Johnson & Jonson
-The Alchemist – Flight Confirmation feat. Danny Brown & Schoolboy Q – Russian Roulette
-Joell Ortiz – Nissan, Honda, Chevy

I spend a lot of time listening to the same ol’ songs. I have a little iPod Nano I use for music, an eight gig joint, and I tend to keep it stocked with favorites, albums I want to revisit, and new mixtapes or albums. The downside is that after a day or two, I realized I know everything on the iPod by heart, so if my mood changes and I want to hear a certain sound, my choice is to either listen to something hot that I’ve temporarily played out or to just deal with it.

So I changed things up. I made a smart playlist in iTunes, told it to populate randomly, and gave it a size limit of five gigs, so I could still have a few favorites loaded up. I’ve got something like sixteen thousand songs, but only a fraction of that stays in heavy rotation. This is a way to correct my course and rediscover things I forgot.

This mixtape is a semi-random selection of eight songs from my 5 GB playlist. I pretty much flicked down the iTunes list and grabbed the first ten songs that caught my eye, and then pared it down to remove dupes. It’s tilted highly in favor of rap (no surprise), but also toward the past five years, which was a legitimate surprise. I don’t listen to a lot of ’80s rap, but I love joints from the ’90s and early ’00s. That’s not represented here, I don’t think. I am pleased at the diversity of styles, prestige, and content here, though.

Aesop Rock’s “Getaway Car” has one of my most favorite beats ever, and Aes Riggedy Rock, Cage, and Breeze Brewin go in so hard, and the Camp Lo sample is disgusting. It’s ugly, a mean mug of a sample that’s just the best thing ever this morning. I’ll show up for Breeze anyway, but it’s lovely this song is so ill in general.

“My Baby Daddy” was the jam when I was a kid. I guess I was 14 or 15, but that song goes now just as much as it did then. Maybe you had to be there, like with “Ya mama smokes crack rock!” “Mama, please stop, ’cause they pickin’ on me!” Be careful out there, tho — a lot of people think it was JT Money (including my iTunes, for some reason), because of his single “Who Dat.” “My Baby Daddy”‘s music video is super ’90s too.

Here’s the answer song from Anquette:

I always liked answer or sequel songs. “No Scrubs” vs “No Pigeons,” or how Beanie Sigel’s “In The Club” came out of Jay-Z’s “Do It Again.”

Copy’s “Light’s Out,” featuring Catalyst, has one of my favorite aspects of rap music: when the beat drops out at the end and the rapper just keeps going. Copywrite is nice — “if it ain’t MHz or Weathermen it’s a piece of shit!” — but Catalyst getting those extra few seconds is spectacular. I know it’s calculated or whatever, but it feels like just unbridled creativity spilling out. It makes the raps better, even if they’re just aight, and I’ll never stop loving it. I react to it like I reacted to Canibus kicking 100 bars in a row.

Johnson & Jonson (bka Blu & Mainframe)’s “Hold On John” actually has an iller sample than “Getaway Car.” It’s a perfect pairing of sample, tone, and subject matter. It should go without saying, but Joell Ortiz can spit, too.

True story: I had this big plan this year to go full freelance. I’ve been doing freelance since 2003, and it’s mostly been a side gig to a day job, or a way to help pay my student loans. It’s never been enough to live on, and I’m starting to feel like I might have missed that window, thanks to a combination of bad timing, comfort, and… probably pride. Definitely pride.

ComicsAlliance closing caught me by surprise, because it’s one of a couple things I took entirely for granted when drafting this big plan. I sort of assumed that the site, and the money, would be there while I looked for more. I placed a few singular pieces elsewhere around the internet (I placed five pieces at four outlets that were new to me), but nobody’s biting for what I’m best at or a regular gig. And now CA is gone, so I don’t even have the homebase I was hoping to hang onto while I tried to branch out.

I’m pretty discouraged. I hadn’t realized quite how much until late last week, long after the praise online had died down and I had a chance to think about it. I utterly hate when plans bend and warp, especially when I felt like I had a chance to hit the mark. On top of that, I apparently alienated a few close friends by writing about comics, the money was never great (it was more than welcome, don’t get me wrong — I’m still very grateful for the chance and the checks), and my difficulty elsewhere has me thinking like… “Is it worth it?”

I dunno. I’m still processing. I think I was too ambitious, maybe, but also too focused, in terms of what I can write about. But I’ve spent enough of my time feeling bad. Now it’s time to do something else.

Once a week, for as long as I can hold out (months, looking at what I’ve got banked and planned), I’m going to post a new piece at stories.iamdavidbrothers.com. I’m thinking of alternating fiction and non-fiction, but don’t hold me to it. The first story’s about Karen. I hope you dig it and come back on Friday for the next one.

Thanks for reading.

The Following‘s first season ended last week. I’ll have a longer post later, I think, but here’s a short review of the last episode:

Open thread. What’re you reading/watching/hearing/enjoying?

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monday mixtape david

April 1st, 2013 Posted by david brothers

monday mixtape david from brothers on 8tracks Radio.

Eight songs here, which should play in random order. The list:

-Adina Howard – Freak Like Me – Do You Wanna Ride?
-Aesop Rock – 6b Panorama – Float
-Anthony Hamilton – Sucka For You – Back To Love
-Arrested Development – People Everyday – 3 Years, 5 Months And 2 Days In The Life Of…
-Asher Roth & Nottz – Gotta Get Up – Rawth
-Atmosphere – Good Times (Sick Pimpin) – Seven’s Travels
-Angie Martinez – Live at Jimmy’s
-Al Green – I Want To Hold Your Hand – Love Ritual

Originally, I had wanted to make this eight songs about death or dying, but then I woke up this morning and it’s gloomy out, so instead these are eight songs about enjoying your life, though some songs are more down than others. That strain runs through it, though — “life is beautiful.” It’s why we put up with all this nonsense that life throws at us. One day somebody pretty is gonna smile at us, we’re gonna see some movie we like or hear some song we love, and smile by accident.

Aesop Rock’s “6B Panorama” is one of my favorite songs. I love storytelling joints, and this one isn’t a story so much as a scene. It’s just what Aes Rock sees when he looks out of his window, and it’s so simple but deep that I can’t help but love it. I honestly love Aes’s delivery on “I saw a blind man with a dog screaming ‘someday I’ll see it all’/ and then he sat down with his hammer and saw.” It’s delivered like the stinger at the end of an episode of Peabody & Sherman on Rocky & Bullwinkle.

“6B Panorama” is about appreciation, I think, and that’s something I have a hard time with. When I’m in a bad mood and everything tastes like ashes and I hate everything I love, I wallow. I try to focus more on appreciating what I see on a day-to-day basis these days. I moved last year, and while I can’t see the sunrise or sunset, I can stand on my balcony and still enjoy the morning. There’s always something to look at and appreciate, right? I forget that sometimes.

It helps that “6B Panorama” is a killer bit of writing from one of rap’s best writers, too.

This mixtape is smiley face music, even if it’s a sheepish smile. “People Everyday” is probably the outlier, but it’s such a happy-sounding song about whipping somebody’s behind that I couldn’t resist, not to mention that flawless outro.

The instrumental version of Atmosphere’s “Good Times” was my alarm for two or three years, and it’s strange how weird it sounds to me now. I associated it with snapping awake and being late to work for so long that just hearing the opening of the song makes me physically anxious, though I know in my head that it isn’t a big deal. It’s like a spike of anxiety that slowly fades into suspicion. Basically, don’t make your favorite songs your alarms. I ruined Aesop Rock’s “None Shall Pass” that way, too.

I do a mean version of “Live At Jimmy’s.” Get at me.

Alex Pappademas interviewed DOC for Playboy, with a hat-tip to taterpie for the link. This interview? It’s fantastic. It’s wide-ranging and it put me up on things that I never even knew. I had an uncle who was into MC Breed as a kid, and finding out that DOC worked with him was a revelation. This is must-reading, but maybe not if you’re at work.

I liked Kiel Phegley interviewing Jim Rugg about his new project Supermag. Rugg is ferociously talented.

I liked Andrew Wheeler & Joe Hughes’s take on the Rick Remender Hobo Piss Avengers thing. It’s got an… academic approach, I guess is the best phrase to use, that I’m no good at. I don’t process this kind of conversation that way, which is why I rarely (a brief search says “never” on 4thletter! and mostly in jokes on twitter) talk about like, “white privilege” as a concept. It’s not what I’m good at, but Wheeler is, so give it a read. I also dig this more fan-oriented take.

Here’s a link to a transcript of the diversity-oriented panel I was on at ECCC, if’n you’re curious. I think the panel was pretty good, but I also think that I talked way too much. It was nice, though. The panel is continuing over here on Tumblr, if you’ve got questions/want to discuss things.

I reviewed Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon’s BPRD Vampire, which is very pretty but thin. I wrote about a scene I like a lot though. It’ll be a good book, I think, but weak first issue.

I wrote about… me? Kind of. It’s about learning to trust my taste and accepting the connections my brain draws between otherwise disparate projects. My brain’s smarter than I am. Next week’s I’m David will focus on a similar subject, but with a bulletproof twist.

I saw GI Joe Retaliation. Here’s the first trailer I found on youtube:

I still love that reaction to the North Korea joke. “Bro! What?! C’mon! I just GOT this job!”

I loved it. I’m sure people are gonna say it’s stupid or “turn off your brain” or whatever, but trust me: stay engaged, especially if you’re into the Joes. It’s a treat, and it’s exactly what a toy/comic movie should be. Is delightful a weird word to describe a movie? ’cause GI Joe was a delight on par with Fast Five or Dredd/The Raid. It’s a proper action movie, basically, with some devastatingly good jokes, shockingly solid casting (keep an eye out for dude who played Dick Casablancas in Veronica Mars, for instance), and some well put-together action scenes. A few fights were a little too blurry for my tastes, but by and large? Utterly, completely enjoyable. I saw it in Imax 3D and had a time.

Open thread. What’re you reading/watching/hearing/enjoying?

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Music, 2012: Aesop Rock’s Skelethon

December 12th, 2012 Posted by david brothers

Aesop Rock, “Nickle Plated Pockets” (2002): “The prickly outer shell’s genetic; it helps defense mode/ But it also helps to fuck up a couple of sacred friendships”

I’m a pretty private dude, I feel like. I’m good at making friends or whatever — I got jokes, son, get at me — but I spend a lot of time in my own head. When I run into trouble, my first thought is to handle it myself instead of asking for help. This goes from getting really bad news to just venting problems to friends, really. I’m not that guy, for whatever reason. There’s a gap there for me. I tend to think that it comes from moving every couple of years all through my formative years. I had to learn how to make friends real quickly, but I also had to learn how to forget them, you know? But maybe that isn’t it. I don’t know. I am careful who I let inside my circle, though, and the inner inner circle? That’s probably just me and the wall.

Aesop Rock, “1 of 4 (Thank You)” (2002):

This ain’t a burner for the whips (no it isn’t)
This ain’t even Aesop Rock fly earthworm demeanor (no it isn’t)
My name is Ian Mathias Bavitz and I was born in Long Island, New York, ’76, before Graham and after Chris… okay
In August of 2001 my seemingly splinter-proof brain bone scaffolding imploded
I kept it on the hush, but nearly tumbling to the cold hard concrete on near bodega trips for cigarettes and soda shook me to casper
Dizzy with a nausea chaser, motor sensory eraser
Agoraphobe tunnel vision, guilt, self loathing arrangement
Rose rapidly outta fog I’d never fished in

I got depressed after high school and didn’t realize it until I was dropping out of college four or five years later. I got caught flat-footed and had no idea how to process what I was feeling. I didn’t even really know what I was feeling. It felt like drowning in space, or suffocating in air. I usually call it a black cloud these days, because I like that image. My friends knew something was up, but not what. I remember one guy saying that there were two Davids. One told jokes. One was prickly. I didn’t get it at the time, but I appreciate being told that now.

I didn’t ask for help. I didn’t know I needed help, I think. I spent a lot of time alone. It was the new normal. You want to know how to be productive on your comics blog? Get depressed and don’t do anything but write, because writing is the only thing that doesn’t taste like ashes in your mouth. I’ve never been a therapy guy, but I should’ve let that prickly outer shell down more often than I did. I should let it down more often than I do.

I got put onto Aesop Rock in high school, back when I was backpacking and a hardcore def.jukie. I dug him and then I dig him now. I dig him partly because he put into words a mode that I struggle with. Back in the day, it was obfuscated beneath thick language and hard metaphors, thanks to his style. Now it’s this, from “Cycles to Gehenna” off Skelethon: “Here is how a great escape goes when you can’t take your dead friends’ names out your phone.”

Or this, the third verse of “Gopher Guts”:

I have been completely unable to maintain any semblance of relationship on any level
I have been a bastard to the people who have actively attempted to deliver me from peril
I have been acutely undeserving of the ear that listen up and lip that kissed me on the temple
I have been accustomed to a stubborn disposition that admits it wish its history disassembled
I have been a hypocrite in sermonizing tolerance while skimming for a ministry to pretzel
I have been unfairly resentful of those I wish that acted different when the bidding was essential
I have been a terrible communicator prone to isolation over sympathy for devils
I have been my own worse enemy since the very genesis of rebels

Aesop Rock has routinely and casually scooped my guts out since I first started listening to him in 2001 or so. He was the headliner of the only show I’ve been to, back when the Bazooka Tooth tour came through Athens. He’s a dude my favorite teacher described as writing tenth grade poetry, and he’s still a writer I’m massively jealous of. I study Aesop Rock.

It’s hard to put this into words that make human sense, but listen: I’ve greatly enjoyed the times that Aes has savaged me and my emotions. It helps put things into perspective, show me the options I have at my beck and call, and forces me to own up to my own emotions and shortcomings. It gives me a chance to see where I’ve been and where I’m going. It inspires awareness.

Aesop Rock has a way of laying complicated and horrifying emotions bare. There’s something so honest and straightforward about his style, even when it’s obscured by wordplay, that hits me right in the soul. It’s not a tearjerker, I’m not that guy, but if I was that guy? Sobbing in the shower at what I’ve made of my life. Instead, I just think it through and try to make it better next time.

Skelethon is his latest, and it’s a high watermark, both in terms of emotional content and sheer skill. He’s escalated his emotional onslaught at the same time that he’s refined and nearly perfected his style. He’s still got a chance at being Rap Game Heideggar, but his rhymes aren’t as dense and opaque as they used to be. The density is the same, but you don’t have to work as hard to divine his meaning. He used to be difficult. He’s still difficult. But now, there’s something about his delivery and approach that makes him feel easy.

Maybe it’s because I’ve grown up listening to his music, and this is the musical equivalent of being able to identify a director’s tropes and interests. I don’t know, but I feel like at one point in time, Aesop Rock was an axe. He would hit something and it would break and leave you a mess. His style was enjoyable but bulky and heavy. Now he’s a knife in the dark. He’ll sneak up on you with something that’ll rip your soul bare.

He sounded like an underground rapper, the mental image that people come up with when you say underground rapper, for years. Now, he sounds like something different. More confident and more effective.

Skelethon makes me feel good, even when it’s reminding me of past horrors. I’m not saying that Skelethon is his best album. It is definitely among his best. I don’t think anyone would argue with that. But I do think that if someone told me it was his very best, and I could tell they believed it, I couldn’t fault them at all. Skelethon is tremendous. I’m happy to own it.

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