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Twista Talks Hip-Hop Censorship

He may not have testified yesterday (Sept. 25) on Capitol Hill during a House of Representatives hearing about the language used in hip-hop, but Twista's got some strong opinions to share about the issue.

"When Ice T and N.W.A. were doing their thing, they took rap music to the courts and that's how we got parental advisory stickers on our products -- the same way you've got movie ratings and theaters that won't allow underage children in unless they are with an adult. Why are they singling out music then? Once the parental advisory sticker is on it, it becomes a parental issue if your children are still listening," the Chicago rapper tells Jaded Insider.

In addition, the fast-spitting MC also questions the call for censorship in rap music when the Internet allows for content to be so accessible. "You can see an animal f*cking a human on the Net these days, but we can't say curse words? To me, we're living in an era where this shouldn't be an argument. This should've been argument before we had so much access. I mean, you can turn on the TV and see two women kissing. Hip-hop is just the scapegoat."

Twista went on to criticize those in hip-hop that once participated in making and/or promoting rap music but are now asking for rap artists to clean the music up. "This is what I don't want to hear from Russell Simmons and Master P. Don't eat off porn and then say I don't like porn. Don't get rich off of football and then say you don't like football. Don't get rich by being one of the most foul-mouthed rappers and now say you don't think we should curse in our music.

"People need to respect each other's cultures," Twista continued, "because at the end of the day, rappers rhyme about what people want to hear, otherwise we wouldn't be making money off of it."

September 26, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

One For Sorrow, Two For Joy


We'd be remiss if we didn't disclose that we have this soft, sympathetic spot for Counting Crows. "August and Everything After" got us through the horror show that was fifth and sixth grade; "Recovering the Satellites" got us thinking critically about popular music and the term "evolution" when applied to a band. The CD for "Hard Candy," the Crows' last studio effort released in 2002, made for a very good coaster.

That goes to say, we were very nervous going into the listening party last week for CC's forthcoming double-disc "Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings," due Nov. 6 on Geffen.

Frontman Adam Duritz was uncomfortably shy in his introduction to the songs, of which only six were played. "We're really proud of this," he said before scuttling off. His dreadlocks are still omnipresent, but shorter, and he has really nice skin.

As the play button was hit, most people took this as their cue to start talking.

It's important to note the role of producers in this effort: appropriately, Gil Norton (Pixies, Foo Fighters, Counting Crows) was essentially manning the "Saturday Nights" disc while Brian Deck (Iron & Wine, Modest Mouse, Josh Ritter) got "Sunday Morning." The joke writes itself as the different songs were, erm, night and day.

Things kicked off with the "Night" side, and the very aggressive and imperialistically-themed "1492" that peaked with an angry guitar solo. It starts with a roar of lyrics ("I'm gonna be a cowboy in the end I guess/I bought a gun cause it impresses/All the little girls I see/And then they all wanna sleep with me") and ends with dystopia ("Now I am the king of everything/I am the king of nothing"). "Hanging Tree" is fueled by tambourine and very electric guitars, with lots of "me" statements: "I am a lion," "I am a child of fire," "I got a pair of wings… and I will fall down through the sun this evening." It's becoming clearer Duritz our narrator is having some self-loathing issues. This is brought home on the piano-led "Cowboys": "This is a list of what I should have been but I'm not."

Whoosh. Seven songs of this? The "Morning" is welcome, indeed, the chest-beating continues, but prettily. The three songs played for us, "Washington Square," "When I Dream of Michelangelo" and "You Can't Count on Me" were incredibly sweet melodies, and a mild return to the Counting Crows' earliest set. Upright bass hums through, with plucks of an acoustic guitar intertwine lyrics of regret. It's the latter song that has the most catching chorus ("So if you think you need to go/If you wanted to be free/There's one thing you need to know/And that's that you can't count on me"). We could probably do with night and morning switching off more frequently.

September 25, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Preach On, David Banner

Banner_6 Last night (Sept. 19), J.I. sat in on's Social Lounge featuring Dr. Cornel West, David Banner and Master P, among others. The panel discussion, held at Pace University's Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts, was part of a series of events for the hip-hop Web site's annual "All Hip-Hop Week," and was moderated by Chuck "Jigsaw" Watkins, one of the site's founders.

Though J.I. walked in fashionably late, we still managed to catch some of the night's most intense moments, as the panel -- which also included radio host Wendy Williams and rapper Pharoahe Monch -- discussed issues such as Al Sharpton's call for censorship in rap music, Don imus' racial slurs, Jena 6, the race for presidency and many other concerns.

Dr. West schooled us on everything from "Ofrah" Winfrey (as he hilariously called her throughout the entire night) to Barack Obama (whom he says is the better candidate but needs more of a backbone) and the state of hip-hop (stating he's disgusted when he hears rappers say they are in it for the money and not the art). But the second most exciting moment of the night was when Master P, who made it only for the last 45 minutes of the three-hour discussion, got into a verbal back-and-forth with David Banner about respect and Master P's recent decision to make clean music (as in, no n*ggas, bitches or hoes).

"It's easy for you to say 'don't use the N-word' now after you done made a billion dollars off the word n*gga," Banner yelled at P from across the floor. "Instead of you hugging Oprah, come down and holler at us, the ones that are still down in the trenches."

"We got angry people in here, that's what it is, and I'm not angry for anybody being successful. They angry cause they not at that level," Master P replied.

The discussion was interrupted by an eager audience member who tried to sneak in a comment via a mic that was set up at the front of the auditorium, but Banner shut him down quick!

"Hold on dawg, let him talk. Go make a record then you can come up here," Banner said to the persistent audience member.

Turns out the guy, wearing a security man uniform, was apparently on the clock and wanted to get his question in before his break was over. J.I. felt sorry for him for a second.

David Banner V. Master P

Banner, who was the most vocal panel member of the night, also went in on his dislike of Sharpton. "I think he has altered motives, but that's just my opinion," he said. "Who gave him the opportunity to tell Kramer that black folks forgive him? We didn't say that. And why is he stomping on our CDs, going from radio station to radio station [to] stop them from playing our records before you talk to us? He attacked us first." That's just some of Banner's rant. Watch the video below for more.

Banner Goes In On Sharpton

J.I. left the discussion feeling enlightened, with a newfound respect for Banner and with the desire to sign up for one of Dr. West's classes soon.

September 20, 2007 in Music | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Ride The Wave, Where It Takes You

Rogue_zach_01lRogue Wave's new album, "Asleep at Heaven's Gate," features the biggest sounds yet from the Oakland-based indie rock outfit, but on Monday (Sept. 17) in New York, the quartet was more interested in keeping quiet.

Indeed, at a Nolita-area loft, Rogue Wave celebrated the release of "Asleep" with a six-song acoustic set. Seated in front of an audience of invited guests (who themselves were mostly sitting on the hard-wood floor and enjoing Heinekens and Coronas), the group turned in gorgeous versions of "Lullaby," first single "Lake Michigan," "Ghost," "Missed," the unrecorded "You Read My Mind" and a cover of the Neil Young obscurity "Birds."

Looking at guitarist/keyboardist Graham LeBron, frontman Zach Rogue (pictured) said with a laugh, "I'm like, dude, turn it up, but then I realize he's not plugged in." Rogue claimed the group was rusty after a long layoff from touring and some recent trial-by-fire dates with Feist, but everything sounded mighty fine to these ears.

Meanwhile, J.I. is pleased to report that drummer Pat Spurgeon is feeling great after a recent kidney transplant and is ready to hit the road with the band this fall. Joining Rogue Wave on tour will be the Alaska-by-way-of-Oakland band Port O'Brien, whose shouty vocal stylings will appeal to fans of Modest Mouse and Wolf Parade.

September 19, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

ACL Fest: Regina On TV

Spektor_regina_01lAt the risk of writing about another television taping on this blog, I'll roll the dice on this one, and hope for the best. Besides, going to the ACL fest and not seeing a live taping of the storied show from which the event takes its name would be just sad. For us.

If you don't know what to look for, the studios could be a tricky place to find. It's on the sixth floor of "Communications Building B" on University of Texas's campus, in a building that doesn't really have any windows. When entering, you must go in groups of 10, up an elevator. Once you arrive on six, you're ushered into a small television studio, with the Austin skyline mural facing you. Old Austinites are pouring cups of beer for you to take -- as many as you'd like, in fact.

The studio has three tiny bleachers that surround the stage. There are three cameramen in the front, but mostly everyone has a great view. They also provide, as the show depicts, standing room on the floor. And when they're about to start, it's a bit odd. They don't encourage the audience to do certain things at certain points, or clap, or smile, or look pretty. Instead, the MC just welcomes you and turns the stage over to, in this case, Regina Spektor.

I don't know what's going to make the final cut versus what isn't, so I won't spill everything. Regina said she wasn't a fan of doing television tapings, but watching her was a different story. She acted like a seasoned veteran, gazing directly into the camera with playful, yet sultry looks that only a pro could pull off. A few of the audience members were shouting out requests, which hopefully gave her a sense of comfort. She joked with us, cursed when she botched songs and generally was able to develop a rapport that you rarely get within the confines of any type of concert.

Gorgeous versions of "Samson," "Fidelity," and John Lennon's "Real Love" were set highlights, if we were forced to choose. Her ease at blending classical-sounding song arrangements with poppy vocal melodies is captivating, but its the silly/serious dichotomy that she champions in her lyrics that kept the audience mesmerized.

Needless to say, when I heard reports of Arcade Fire fans waiting 14 hours to get into their taping this past Friday, it all makes sense. The acoustics are more than fantastic, and you get a chance to see an artist up close and personal, without constrictions. I'd be hard pressed to find another situation that can provide a music fan with such an experience. -- Michael D. Ayers

September 19, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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