April 6, 2018

My Gut Reaction: Dr. Octagon - Moosebumps: An Exploration Into Modern Day Horripilation (April 6, 2018)

Less than two months ago, DJ Q-Bert casually announced live show dates for a reunited Dr. Octagon, a group made of Q-Bert, rapper Kool Keith, and producer Dan “The Automator” Nakamura. This was, in and of itself, quite the story, as Keith and The Automator had stopped working together roughly two decades after the release of their only album, Dr. Octagonecologyst due to creative differences (Keith really hated Dan back then, is all I have to say). But as aloof this announcement was, it was accompanied by another important tidbit that was provided in such a nonchalant fashion that one would think they accidentally left it on the first draft of their show flyer: these performances were in support of a new album. Yes, the alt-hip hop gods have smiled upon us, as the world is currently burning at the hands of white supremacists, deplorables, wealthy assholes, and a self-aggrandizing orange McNugget dragging the name of the United States through the mud in his quest to somehow become the worst human being in all of existence: Dr. Octagon had reunited, they were actively touring, and new music was coming our way sooner rather than later.

The question that immediately popped up in the mind of the average fan was, of course, “Hey, isn’t Dr. Octagon dead?”

April 1, 2018

Something Different: Night Drive - Position I (EP) (September 3, 2013)

Night Drive is a modern-day synth-pop duo that understudies for New Wave giants The Human League, with a twist of Duran Duran and maybe some Depeche Mode during those three minutes scattered throughout the group’s career where they experienced some form of joy. It’s made up of Rodney Connell and Brandon Duhon, hailing from Austin and Houston, Texas, respectively, and their music is marketed as “inspired by sci-fi cinematic landscapes… that explores the darker currents of abstract emotion”. While that sounds like a bunch of bullshit buzzwords thrown together at the last minute by a publicist that really needed to submit some copy to a local alternative newspaper in order to promote an upcoming club show, it is fairly accurate, mining similar territory as acts such as Digitalism or Crystal Castles, whom I've had to stop listening to because of Ethan Kath’s (allegedly) rapey ways.I'm telling you, separating the art from the artists is getting more and more difficult in the current culture.

March 16, 2018

My Gut Reaction: PRhyme - PRhyme 2 (March 16, 2018)

The duo PRhyme is made up of rapper Royce da 5’9” and producer DJ Premier. If you’ve been a reader of this blog for any number of years, I would think that you already knew that, especially since I had explained this back when I wrote about their self-titled first album. Hell, if you frequent any hip hop site on the Interweb, you should already know this fact. But as they ventured into the promotional cycle for their sophomore collaborative effort, PRhyme 2, the duo of Ryan Montgomery and Chris Martin threw out some interesting breadcrumbs regarding the freshman album, one of which I will proceed to use in an effort to fill out the following paragraphs.

February 28, 2018

My Gut Reaction: Eminem - Revival (December 15, 2017)

If you’re reading this post, that means I made it: one new post a day for the entire month of February. Obviously, this will be followed up by another break on my part, but not of the “lengthy hiatus” variety: I just need to recharge my batteries and plot my next move. I also have a bunch of emails to respond to regarding Reader Reviews and whatnot, so if you’ve sent me something during the past few months, I will respond to you, and I apologize for the delay: I just kept putting off reading the messages in order to focus on this project. While you wait for some more new content, I suggest you catch up on the rest of the month of February, listen to some of the projects discussed, and leave some goddamn motherfucking comments, as this blog lives and dies based on audience participation, and I assume you two want me to keep writing, correct?

So for the final write-up of the month, let’s discuss the career of Marshall Mathers.

February 27, 2018

My Gut Reaction: Canibus - Mind Control (June 21, 2005)

With his reign as one of the three hip hop Cameo Kings winding down as the 1990s came to a close, Germaine “Canibus” Williams has had a tough time navigating our chosen genre. His career appears, on its surface, to be as haphazard and happenstance as life itself, with many of his creative and business choices seemingly made without any of his own personal input. Even the major decisions he does make, such as joining the military after the release of his fourth album, Mic Club: The Curriculum, or signing with Wyclef Jean’s camp for his debut, Can-I-Bus, concluded with very little impact caused by his own hand, such as getting kicked out of the military for smoking weed (um, his rap name is Canibus, what was everyone expecting), or getting kicked out of Wyclef’s crew and subsequently fighting with him.

The sixth Canibus album, Mind Control, is yet another project on which Germaine had no hand in its fate. Click through to learn more.

February 26, 2018

My Gut Reaction: LL Cool J - Authentic (April 30, 2013)

Lip Sync Battle’s James Todd Smith, who performs under the alias “LL Cool J” so as to avoid both process servers and his in-laws, has been an institution within our chosen genre damn near since its inception, and he’s made his mark over the course of his thirty-five year career. He’s been nominated to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he’s the first rapper to be honored at the Kennedy Center Honors, he’s been nominated for multiple acting awards (including an Emmy and a bunch of NAACP Image awards), he’s hosted the Grammy awards ceremony five years in a row, and he even has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. None of this would have been possible without rap, a fact he is fully cognizant of, and he periodically returns to the game in between acting jobs to sharpen his skills, put on some of the new blood, and to generally remind everyone of his first love, which is a tangible product that can be purchased in the form of thirteen studio albums and two greatest hits collections.

Yep, we’re going back to the LL Cool J reverse chronological review well today.

February 25, 2018

Something Different: Beyonce - Dangerously In Love (June 23, 2003)

So here’s the deal, folks: I’m fully prepared for today’s post to be ignored, dismissed, and likely trashed in the comments. But I don’t give a fuck: there is something about the ascension of BeyoncĂ© Knowles that has fascinated me throughout her career, something more interesting than her actual musical output, and after completing her husband Jay-Z’s discography again earlier this month (at least until he drops something else, which, well, who knows if/when that’ll happen), I found myself thinking about her own body of work, both as a member of the group Destiny’s Child and as a solo artist. There’s an evolution that happened with her music: she hit a point where the love songs took on more raw and poignant feeling, and where she celebrated her independence with far more confidence and audacity than she ever did on her former crew’s “Independent Women” (both parts). I think there’s a fascinating parallel between her own work and that of Shawn Carter, and I’m not just referring to the whole Lemonade / 4:44 cheating thing, and I wanted to discover for myself whether that was the case, or if I was just imagining shit.

So, because this is my blog blah blah blah, today’s post will explore BeyoncĂ©’s debut solo album Dangerously In Love. Tomorrow we’ll get back into some more rap shit, but today’s as good a day as any for me to start yet another project I may not ever finish.