He Has Risen
Giving yourself a crazy hyberbolic title in hip-hop is hardly new; there's already been a world's greatest, several kings of New York and a couple hundred Best Rappers Alive. But never has there been a MC with the stones to totally christen himself the returned son of God.
Enter Sean Price, whose "Jesus Price Superstar" arrives next month (or as Price's ad says: "The Savior Will Be Recognized Jan. 30." Christians will likely be surprised to learn that the son of God's return now has a street date; J.I. does not believe that was predicted in the Old Testament, but it's been a while since CCD).
Price is pictured in what J.I. already considers the best promo card of the year (top that, you punks in Arcade Fire!) putting a dangerous finger to his lips as if to say, "Shh ... Jesus Christ is back, and he's totally rocking a diamond-studded Pirates cap. Pittsburgh in '07, baby!"
We at J.I. find this all ridiculous. Clearly if Jesus were to come back as a rapper, he'd be Skee-Lo, or possibly one of the Ying Yang Twins. "Jesus Price Superstar" drops on Jan. 30. Shhhhhhh.
Don't Skip Sxip
Sxip Shirey's Web site describes the eccentric performer as a circus and theater composer. We think he described his occupation better at his recent Joe's Pub solo show.
"I make big, f*cked-up circus music. I'm like the ringleader of a big, dying circus. The circus of the apocalypse," he said, as he prepared to bang out one of the most wonderful, demented and bellicose themes of bedlam that has ever blessed a crappy Casio keyboard.
He followed the song up with a dirge he wrote for his own funeral, composed (naturally) on harmonica, with loops, distortion pedals and a human beat boxer. That was followed by a classic country tune with the help of numerous, talented guests. After that, music crafted using only marbles whirling in glass bowls and toy hand bells. The man is an entertainer.
Shirey was followed by New York drag/trans-gender performance legend Baby Dee (who has recorded extensively with Antony of Antony and the Johnsons), who strummed heartbreaking tunes on harp, warbled sad torch songs on piano and crowned the evening with a pair of silly songs. It was one of the most hypnotizing and gratifying shows we had been to in a long time.
We caught up with another one of Shirey's projects, the Luminescent Orchestrii, for a "Balkan/gypsy/Appalachian/punk dance party" at Union Pool. It's safe to say that we are no scholars of Balkan or gypsy music (drinking at Bulgarian Bar and spinning Gogol Bordello does not count), but it's also safe to say that this ensemble charmed the boots straight off of us. The Orchestrii's show was packed with lively rhythms, mysterious compositions, a belly dancer, colorful lyrics and a fan base that is as much a part of the art as the music is.
The group will be touring in the Northeast and South this winter, so mark up your new calendar.
Saying Goodbye To The Sex Machine
Jaded Insider was awoken on Christmas morning with the news that James Brown had died suddenly in Atlanta. Brown may have accidentally become the most important musical force in hip-hop thanks to the enduring funkiness of his grooves, but his tunes also inspired millions of people to shrug off their inherent lack of rhythm and dance the proverbial night away.
J.I. specifically recalls a college party, circa fall '95 in Bloomington, Indiana. The place was packed, the refreshments were flowing and James Brown was on repeat. You couldn't not dance when Brown's music was on. You could look like a fool and still feel funky. And you could make the world's greatest entrance, a feat J.I. still chalks up to a friend who burst into the room that night and was in the center of the dancefloor, doing his best J.B., within seconds. Earlier in the evening, he was your ordinary average 22-year-old undergrad with no moves. But James' music almost made it too easy to counter reality: he made it possible for you to transform yourself instantly into the life of the party.
Christmas isn't usually the occasion for a dance-a-thon, but J.I. will most definitely be commandeering the stereo tonight to pay tribute to the man who put the fun in funk and the hip(s) in hip-hop.
K-Fed, We Hardly Knew Ye
Rough week for backup dancer Kevin Federline. Well, they're all rough weeks for Kevin Federline. Still, any week in which you're signed up for a WWE match and called a douchebag by "Weird Al" Yankovic probably ranks as his second-worst of the year.
On Monday, Federline will squander the last four seconds of his fame in a "Monday Night Raw" match against WWE big-shot John Cena. Wait, John Cena? Really? Wow, the WWE is boring now. John Cena makes us long for the days of the hideous WWF ethnic stereotype, like The Iron Sheik or Slick. The match airs 9 p.m. EST on the USA network.
Meanwhile, in his most recent "Al TV" special, J.I. favorite "Weird Al" Yankovic turned in this interview with Federline, a nine-minute nearly NSFW tour-de-force that is worth every last second and will nicely kill the last few work hours until the holiday. (If it doesn't, check out Al's interview with Jessica Sampson (CQ!!) here).
We at J.I., in the interest of fairness, have spent a good bit of time trying to be reasonably sympathetic toward Federline, but seriously, this is the speediest career arc we can remember seeing ever. Jesse Camp didn't have it this bad. You have to imagine Federline plummeting, arms all over the place, punctuated by that weird "Gaah!" scream that comes up in all the "Star Wars" movies. But as Federline himself would say: Don't hate the player. Hate the (fake) game.
The Ballad Of Sean And Yoko
It's no secret that JI has a love for the new Sean Lennon album -- enough to brave the rapidly declining New York temps to head to the Bowery Ballroom for the 31-year-old reconditioned singer/songwriter's live show. And we say "reconditioned" in only the most loving way -- he owes a lot this time around to his Dad's former group (the Gap Band) but his lyrics have moved into a bitter realm, a jaded insider, if you will.
As this JI sidled up to the bar about 20 minutes prior to Lennon's set, the path was cleared and Yoko herself (minus extortionists) was quickly ushered into the balcony. Sheryl Crow stunt-double herself, Martha Wainwright, was spotted, along with Vincent Gallo and Teddy Thompson.
Aside from one cut from his first album, Lennon stuck with his "Friendly Fire" arsenal. And for the most part, he recreated the mood and passion pretty well. The smoothness of the production might have caught up to him a bit; it did sound a little rough and gruff around the edges. Lennon himself was in a great mood, excited about finally having a guitar tech ("someone to change my strings!). Things almost got ugly as some dude near the front tossed some sort of aluminum sculpture toward the stage, in the general direction of keyboardist Yuka Honda. He wasn't too happy about this but played it off well, dedicating "Dead Meat" to "that guy."
What was most satisfying: here's a guy who has been in the spotlight since birth. His friends are way more famous than our friends. Heck, he even knows Lindsay Lohan. Yet with all that cred, he still was very humble at the end. Headlining the Bowery Ballroom was monumental to him, and he was extra excited that he sold it out. He even told us so. Maybe this JI will take some direction from that JI. Probably not.