BEST OF 2015: Album/CD of the Day… Oddisee’s THE GOOD FIGHT


oddisee
Oddisee’s THE GOOD FIGHT- After seeing numerous best of list in 2015 extolling Kendrick Lamar’s TO PIMP A BUTTERFLY I offer up THE GOOD FIGHT as a dissenting opinion. Good on any musician who can get accolades, but I’m of the mindset that the only thing good and creative about TO PIMP A BUTTERFLY is the title and that the actual album is juvenile and perhaps unnecessarily ignorant… to the point of stupidity.

There may be a positive message somewhere in TO PIMP A BUTTERFLY, but somewhere in the 15th N word this and F that, I became extremely bored. It was almost laughable, in that it seemed I was listening to a 14 year old that had just learned how to cuss and was doing it all the time, rather than an adult who should be able to put together a lyric or perhaps an entire song without the crutch of expletives.

And I know he is doing it because that is what his label wants him to do, what they want to sell to urban children as the extent of music, but it does a grand disservice to everyone.

It’s analogous to the comedian who goes on stage and does fart jokes, it may get a laugh or a chuckle when you’re a kid, just hearing it, but somewhere along the way you want more out of your humor than the lowest common denominator, You want wit, and perhaps a bit of wisdom. And the same for music, you get to the point where you want of your music, a bit of wit and wisdom.

THE GOOD FIGHT offers that bit of wisdom, delivered by a rapper with real skills and a social conscience, and the ability to sell his message without the crutch of constant cursing.

In any sane world you can not listen to the flow, the lyrics, the speed, the melody, the entire package that is Oddisee’s THE GOOD FIGHT and not rate it as not just the superior album by miles, but the superior performer. One is the work of an adult talking about you and me and the world striving toward better, and one is the petty ramblings about bitches and hos, not done particularly well.

The praise for TO PIMP A BUTTERFLY and the relative obscurity of THE GOOD FIGHT, perhaps indicative of a generation of children raised and sold on profanity over performance and mendacity over musicality. Well THE GOOD FIGHT is an excellent album for people raised on awful rap/gangsta ‘music’ to see what great Rap actually sounds like. Grade: B+.

Get your copy at the link below:
The Good Fight

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NOW & THEN:DEAD ISLAND TRAILER vs LIGHTS OUT’s “IT HAPPENED”

Okay, spurred by a recent trailer I got the idea for this post called NOW & THEN, a new reoccurring posting that will contrast, so called, hot new things and breaking news; with classic or overlooked older items.

There is always this generational thing where people of a certain age look at current items, be it films, music, books, sports, and call them crap and pine for the good old days, and on the other side of the coin you have people, also of a certain age, who have a tendency to look at anything that is not current or today and call it old fashioned or irrelevant.

Being someone who cherishes both the old, and can embrace the new when it’s great, I think both of those previous positions are very limiting.

Everybody can have an opinion, but your exposure to other things, your foundation in the medium you’re talking about, says a lot about the weight and worth of your opinion.

If all you watch is romantic comedies, or Kevin Smith slacker films, and yet you want to have an opinion about what a great film is, not knowing that the romantic comedy you glorify, is nothing but an iteration of a Cary Grant film made 70 years ago… your opinion while colorful, may not exactly be valid or valuable.

Same way it limits you, if all you listen to is HipHop or Heavy Metal or any single type of music consuming it… but not knowing there’s a rich range of influences from a variety of music informing every beat or sample you bob your head to, and a rich history of lyrics having meaning beyond the profane.

(And no, I’m not hating. I was listening to rap and heavy metal before most of you reading this I reckon. But I was also listening to folk, country, soul, jazz, calypso, classical, blues, etc. And I think that has made all the difference. While guanranteeing no expertise, such a diverse grounding, grants you at least the ability to speak from a wide perspective, rather than a narrow one)

[Twista is an example of an actually talented rapper, unlike many who are paid just to curse at women, act ignorant, and look stupid. Twista is perhaps no stranger to those vices, but when he wants to he can actually craft, relatively misogynist-free/genocide-free music… that is actually fun. His ‘Tattoo’ is one of his fast and fun songs. Listen to a nice mashup of it here!]

Restricting yourself to just one thing, being unwilling to grow beyond your comfort zone, is analogous to someone who sticks their fork into the cake, just enough to taste the icing, but not actually enough to taste the cake, and then wants to have an opinion on the cake.

That opinion isn’t worth much.

And that goes for all of life, the more you marginalize or segregate your experience, or allow your experience to be marginalized, be that marginalization with films, or music, or reading, the more incapable you become in competing… in anything.

And that is the problem with too much of America, too much of the world, increasingly people speak without taking the time to be informed about the things they speak on.

Seemingly that is what happens when consumers only consume one thing, and aren’t required to think about that thing, they become… un-moored when introduced to anything that challenges them slightly. To anything that is not… their stereotype.

Here in NOW & THEN, I’m going to do my bit to combat that tunnel vision, by giving you both something current and something classic to consume, to experience, to integrate into your storage banks. Be it movie trailers, films, music, books, comics, personalities, news… I’m not saying you’re going to love the things I post, though my attempt is that you will hopefully enjoy at least one of the things posted.

And I’m going to try and have those distinct things in each post, be united by some common thematic or structural thread, so it makes a nice comparison between old and new.

Well that’s the idea. Without further ado let’s get to this installment’s… NOW & THEN:

THE NOW: Feb 2011

I’ve caught the hoopla on this trailer for a new game called DEAD ISLAND. The hoopla goes thus:

“In the last twenty-four hours, zombie horror game Dead Island has climbed into the top trending topics on Twitter and has merited coverage by numerous blogs and entertainment sites thanks to a provocative three-minute “announcement trailer.” ‘
–The Collider

View the trailer here and see what passes for horror today.

THE THEN: 11 May 1938

LIGHTS OUT, a famous and quite ground-breaking radio program that ran (to unprecedented success) from 1934 to 1947, the brainchild of boy genius Wyllis Cooper (and later Arch Oboler), is recognized as one of the first shows to bring suspense and horror to the still young medium of radio.

Broadcast Wednesdays at midnight, when previously only languid music programs played, LIGHTS OUT reinvented that time-slot as a witching-hour. And the whole nation quickly got in the habit of starting Thursdays just a little bit sleep deprived, having spent the previous Wednesdays cuddled in front the radio, listening to the dire voices of the id. In May of 1938, 73 years ago, one of the most disturbing of those voices called “It Happened” was aired, to a world that was between wars, and between horrors.

Listen to the radio program here and see what passed for horror seven decades ago.

Well that’s this installments NOW & THEN, hope you enjoy what you see/hear and if so, feel free to email or post your comment on which selection was most effective… Now or Then. 🙂 . Also feel free to mention what common theme unites the two things. Be right, and who knows, I might even toss in a gift for correct responses. 🙂 .

Till Later!

THE POINT OF NO RETURN or All I Ever Knew of God REVISITED

This is a post first published over two years ago.

It got a couple hits recently.

I read it, having not read it in over two years… and I thought it said things that still need saying.

And I think it manages… to still say them well.

I don’t recycle posts, as I’m long-winded enough, and insane enough that I always have topics for my rage or my reason. But this post seemed… especially timely to me, and worth the limelight… one more time.

Without further ado:

I’m not a fan of profanity, be it the n word, c word, b word, whatever. I don’t have a knee jerk reaction to profanity, I just think your language defines you and yours, and sometimes it traps… you and yours.

So that said, I’m not a huge fan of rap.

More precisely, I don’t like what it has become. I don’t like hip-hop. I don’t like this glamorization of ignorance, this pretense of hardness by too many men who own nothing.

Not even themselves.

You want to be a tough guy. You have a wife, you love her till the stars go dim, you have kids… you raise em right. You teach them to walk with their head held high.

You do this, you do these things, in this world… where you can be broken for walking out your door, if you can do these things in such a world.. that makes you a tough guy. How well or how badly the women in your life live, mothers, sisters, wives, friends, daughters… these things define a man.

Not simply screaming, not cursing,not defiling… but striving, sometimes crudely, sometimes failingly… toward something better for you and yours, in a world that is increasingly not about better.

Those definitions of “tough guy” and “man” are hard ones, and I have met very few, myself included, who rate them.

But sometimes the attempt is enough, the striving earnestly toward those ideals…the striving even though victory not promised, and defeat virtually assured. The attempt to succeed, even when every day you fail… has value.

Once upon a time, rap was filled with men, with tough guys who screamed… for the love. BDP, PUBLIC ENEMY, PARIS, ERIC B, TERMINATOR X, even NWA. And of course the fathers of Rap, men like THE LAST POETS and GIL HERON.

But that was when rap was coming from the streets, rather than the board offices of SONY and TIMEWARNER. Corporate mobs who promoted their Gangsta Rap to the exclusion of all else, who take every virtue and twist it till it’s a vice.

That is America defined.

It is that place, where all virtues are twisted until they are vices.

Blues and Rock, vilified colored music, until they could paint it white… and sell it… and call it Elvis. Rap, same thing. Vilified urban music, until they could paint it white… and sell it ….and call it Eminem.

They can replicate the noise, but somewhere the heart is lost.

They, commercial America- the sellers of standards, have a way of only glorifying the worst.

It really is, about co-opting and corrupting any positive movements… before they can grow.

Which is why more people know the name Eminem than Paris, know Rocky than Joe Frazier, know Arnold Swarzenegger than the man he executed… Stanley Tookie Williams; because America is that place where they sell the lie, when the truth is the wrong color.

So the best stuff in America, will never make the top 40 in America. They don’t play it on the radio, or show it on the TV, or teach it in the schools.

The best stuff in America, the worthy stuff, the positive stuff, you have to hunt for, but it’s worth the hunt.

So I hate Sony Rap, and Time Warner Rap, and Corporate America defined rap. But I love real rap, rap about waking you up, from pervasive nightmares. Conscious rap. Spoken Word. Hip Hop. Call it what you will. I love the people who are still making it, people who are out their… still screaming…”WAKE UP!”

A few that you won’t hear on the radio, but you really should do everything in your power to hunt up, are:

PARIS of course, anything by this soldier, this… prophet of rage. Who for three decades… has held the line. Has held the goddamn line. His DEVIL MADE ME DO IT is one of the great albums of all time.

The usual suspects of Public Enemy, BDP, mentioned above. Also Rage Against the Machine.

And one I want to introduce you to is IMMORTAL TECHNIQUE:REVOLUTIONARY VOL II. I picked it up because of Mumia Abu Jamal, his words on it.

I love courage in people, I love people who speak to you in these volatile times not of sneakers, or cars, or hos… but of volatile times. This CD all the songs are good, some better, some worse (again I can only deal with so much profanity), but there is one song… that is exceptional. And it is worth having the CD for this single song.

I know when I hear something great, and something true, because we live in a nation and a world, where both greatness and truth… are endangered commodities.

So when I hear them…

When I hear these disused concepts… combined… it’s a beautiful thing. I get chills. I listened to THE POINT OF NO RETURN the first song on this CD, the song in question, … and it gave me chills.

I love people who will rage, RAGE…not against you,but FOR YOU! Who will bleed their guts out, rip their flesh off, for the mildest hope… that they can save you, that they can… wake you up.

A lot of people talk about God, and those who talk about him the most, typically know him the least.

Bible thumpers give me a swift pain, I’ve never met one who didn’t lie himself to sleep.

All I’ve ever known of God, any real proof, comes from people who are always outnumbered and always outgunned. Comes from the voice of… sinners and saints. And whether it’s a 16 year old Palestinian girl eulogizing friends who blew themselves up, because their death was all they had left to fight with,… or a man on death row, for not sitting down…. still standing up, or young men on a mic who have watched their neighborhoods become occupied cities and decide to speak against it… whoever the voice comes from, when it’s both great and true… it brings me to my knees.

And those are moments when I believe in God.

That some people, can go on in a world such as this… and still care so deeply, about anything. Those are moments that spur you to want to make a difference, be a better man, make a better world.

Give you the desire to fight hard… one… more…. moment.

That for me, is all I know of God.

And those moments are rare things. And listening to this song was one of them.

I had thought there were no more prophets of rage.

I have never been so glad to be wrong.

Pick up the CD, listen to the song, and if it gives you chills. Share it with a friend, and make your world a better place.

Try.