RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Friday, May 25

MNZ: Mass Appeal Issue 45

Mass Appeal is a great great magazine, and I'm glad to see the R.A. the Rugged Man not writing for them no more was just a goofy work last issue. This issue cover story is on Transformers and they've got this dude inside featured who has the maddest dork collection of Transformers ever assembled. It amazes me grown men get into this shit. I mean, I don't think I barely got into the shit when I was a kid, mostly because my broke-ass folks couldn't afford Transformers, so I'd get Dollar General knock-offs that rarely survived one or two battles with my Dollar General G.I. Joe knock-offs in the muddy ditch in front of the house. Pieces of shit.
Nonetheless, the fun thing about Mass Appeal is how geniunely enthused it is. I am used to the internet, where everybody hates everything, and if something is good, you learn to overanalyze it until it sucks. Every hot chick is ugly and every ugly chick is exotically beautiful. Every great movie is overrated and every Korean action flick nobody has seen is the best cinematographic bullshit since Birth of a Nation. The catchy rapper on high rotation on BET is ignorant but you have to check out the myspace of this vegan muslim dude from Madison, Wisconsin, with a parasitic twin who beatboxes and they rhyme about underground societies battling shadow governments, all in iambic pentameter. It's craziness. Which is why when I get a Mass Appeal, it makes me excited to go take a shit, because I know it'll be some good fun shit like reading Redman play video games to review them, or just some retarded story about a graf artist conning the cops or some wacky bling culture southern rapper over-emphasizing his spiritual orientations for Mass Appeal. I mean fuck, I even liked Livingroom Johnston's stupid shit this month.

MNZ: Juxtapoz June 2007

It's funny, last month I complained about how shitty and predictable Juxtapoz is, and then the new issue in my mailbox is chock full of shit I want to cut out and duct tape to my camper studio walls. I don't know what's on the newsstand cover, but the subscriber cover is one of the crazy awesome drawings by some Mode 2 dude who is graf-nerd-art-dork royalty in Europe or something. His stuff is the best shit I've seen in Juxtapoz in forever, because it's drawings for one, but it's crazy fun weird good timed fun starring BBW women. It's like those paintings that J.J. supposedly did on Good Times, but drawn in pencil on yellowy paper. When I'm rich, I'm gonna buy some of that dude's stuff.
Also the Usugrow dude's ink on paper posters is better propaganda than Obey bullshit. When I own a mountain, I'm gonna hire that dude to draw up the no trespassing posters I mount to the razor wire fence at the base of it.

Thursday, May 24

MNZ: ARTnews February 2007

Free bin at the library hook-up, and I usually like getting ARTnews to keep up with the stupid art world. This issue's cover story is Feminist Art, and it's nice to see a mag where feminist art means something more than just being some tattooed chick taking empowering pictures of your tattooed friends in their underwear. I never quite understood how repossessing your objectified sexuality was a feminist action. Plus, there's some China lady in here with some textile arts, and textile arts are my favorite shits. Sure, doing graphic design of your graffiti tag in front of fake communist propaganda is all the rage, but let me see you try to embroider that shit with some silk thread, even a little corner of it, you lazy fake-ass bitches.

EWA100 - #41. Mobb Deep - Shook Ones pt. II

41. Mobb Deep - Shook Ones Pt. II (Loud. 1995. From the LP The Infamous)

Raven Mack: This is one of those smooth criminal songs, where it’s some serious trifling behavior being glorified, but it’s done in such a great way that it makes white people pretend they’re gangstas and talk in Tony Montana voices. Mobb Deep was great and all, but I never rode their jock intensely, mostly because both of those guys were too cutesy-looking to be that hardcore, which when they started doing pussyhound sell-out tracks, it made perfect sense to me. Still, this beat is the most non-Wu Wu-intense beat from that time period in rap, so it was kinda like hearing a sick RZA track with some non-Wu dudes rapping over it, and when one of them says something like “stab you in your face with your nosebone”, it gets your blood pumping. Used to be you’d get hyped over party shit, but laws have become so stifling in our lives, floating eyeballs running around making you take drug tests for your parole officers/guidance counselors, that the violent shit has taken over from the party shit. It’s more stimulating to hear somebody violently revolting against all this bullshit than to hear somebody just getting drunk, sniffing coke, and wrecking a new car around an oak tree.
Actually, it’s not; they’re both stimulating. I’m a bitch hippie in that self-destruction has always been my method, because if I was to stab some dude with his own nosebone, who’s to really say he deserved such a stabbing? Not me. I probably think this way because I read the Bhagavad Gita and Tao Te Ching and have learned to be open-minded enough that nothing makes absolute sense anymore. If I were brilliant and technologically-advanced, I’d genetically modify together some better aspects of Mobb Deep along with M.O.P., then take my time machine – which is sitting on platinum 28s that are purely cosmetic since a time machine doesn’t actually physically roll along the time line – back to whenever wack-ass year it was that Pulp Fiction came out and blew up and the stupid illegal Canadian I was painting with kept telling me like very seven minutes how he’d already seen that movie nine times and was going again when we got paid on Friday, and I’d release my Mobb Deep/M.O.P. monster on a violence-happy society and make millions, except of course, my creation would probably turn against me, but since it wasn’t a Hollywood sci-fi man’s creations gone awry flick, I’d just jump back in my time machine and scoot on home, after a stop-off in the late ‘20s to fuck me a couple of flappers.

Mike Dikk: When The Infamous was released, it contained all of the elements I didn’t like in my hip hop music. Uncharismatic monotonous flows coupled with minimalist and somewhat morose beats. It’s all very boring stuff on the outside, but Mobb Deep really sells it. They used that bare bones shit to bring their fantastical violent and nihilistic “reality” to life.
I hate to get all “White people be like, BUT Black people be like” on you, because I find it the hackiest form of comedy out there, but you’re more likely to get a product out of depressed and angry black teenagers that actually scare white folks for years to follow than you do from white kids. I know Punk Rock was built on being dangerous and scary, but that was when it was brand new. Now most adults only see it as a phase the kids are going through. Sure, there are things like Minor Threat’s “Out of Step” that still sounds raw and angry and completely legit to this day, but things like that are few and far between.
I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but in all likelihood, a lot of the stuff found on The Infamous is highly fabricated. These kids, and yes, they were kids, not seasoned hitmen, met each other in an art school, not on a street corner. I’m sure there was some reality in there. I don’t know if it was specifically Havoc and Prodigy’s reality, but when you’re young and angry at the world, you’re filed with enough piss and vinegar to make figurative mountains out of molehills.
When you get older, you realize all teenagers are dumb and full of shit and too cocky for their own good. Some gifted young folks rise above all the typical teenage bullshit and make masterpieces within their preferred art form. When you’re young, you don’t have the same bindings that an older person might have. The world is yours and your conscious hasn’t fully matured, so you can be like “Fuck the world” and not worry about the consequences, because there aren’t any really. If Mobb Deep failed as a rap group, they would have had to go back to school. If you fail as an adult, you have a chance of becoming homeless with nothing to fall back on. The grown-up mindset could never craft a record like The Infamous and have it sound half as realistic as it does. The same way no one in their mid-twenties could ever re-create “Out of Step”, but people are still trying.
“Shook Ones - Part II” is the apex of all that pent-up teenage frustration, anger and depression. Instead of scrawling their thoughts in some lame ass journal, Havoc and Prodigy took out all their aggression on record. Weaving a serious paranoia-inducing song with enough raw energy (albeit, still kind of uncharismatic) to rival even the most caustic punk and hardcore. This song is teen angst at its absolute best, but in the typical critic’s eye, it’s always looked at as some realistic hardcore rap masterpiece, and not the teenage rebellion it really is.
This is really the only Mobb Deep song I could lose my shit over. The Infamous is a great record and it still stands the test of the time as a completely unique LP that has been often imitated (even by the group themselves) and never duplicated, and it’s not because there aren’t people out there doing dirt like the dirt that’s getting done on The Infamous. It’s more because there isn’t anyone out there that conveyed it as well Mobb Deep did. Some people might bring up Wu, but they were coming from a totally different angle in my opinion. As I was saying though, “Shook Ones - Part II” is the only Mobb Deep song that really moved me. There’s something about it that raises it above all the rest of their gun talk and project Rillness. They don’t give a fuck on the rest of the album, but they really, really don’t give a fuck on this one track. It’s an essential song as far as rap music goes, and I still find it hilarious that someone on the White Rapper Show thought this was a Digital Underground song. That’s like mistaking a penis for an enlarged clit.

Download: Mobb Deep - Shook Ones Pt. II

(Track is .m4a format. Sorry non-iTuners.)

Watch the video: (long version)

Wednesday, May 23

EWA100 - #42. Masta Ace - Born To Roll

42. Masta Ace Incorporated - Born To Roll (Delicious Vinyl. 1993. From the LP SlaughtaHouse)

Mike Dikk: I’ve always viewed Masta Ace as a rapper in a class by himself. Not necessarily because of his ridiculous rapping skills. That goes without question. See, Masta Ace has been around basically forever, but his fanbase is decidedly foreign and/or underground. Although, it’s not the same way Kool Keith has a decidedly foreign/underground fanbase. Ace doesn’t fall under that whole dorm room sci-fi nerd rap category. He’s more for people who have been down with rap music for a long time and remember him from back when he still had videos on television.
This is why it’s hard for me to write about him without feeling like someone will jump out of the bushes and out-Masta Ace me because I’m really not even close to an expert on all things Ace. I spent most of Masta Ace’s early career getting him mixed up with Mellow Man Ace, who, for the most part, sucked, because he rapped in spanglish, which was a style of speak that would later be turned into some movie starring Adam Sandler and the Golden Girls that I’ve never seen because I don’t have a vagina. The confusion caused me to avoid Masta Ace for a while, which I kind of regret now, but I’ve managed to catch up with his discography over the past few years. I would hear his songs here and there while growing up but I could never shake off that, in my mind, this was the dude who sang “Mentirosa”. I honestly didn’t find out about his flourishing 21st century album output until early last year, and just like everyone else who’s bothered to listen to them, I now find those records completely essential. Ace really needs to get mentioned on more mainstream type Top MCs lists, but he doesn’t seem to be bitter about it or anything. Hell, Kool Keith has made an entire career out of being bitter about being overlooked in the overall Old School legend canon, but Ace is humble enough to just let it go and put out top quality shit well past the average rapper’s expiration date.
I don’t really know how the people in the Internet Masta Ace Cult feel about “Born To Roll”. I don’t know if they would find it blasphemous that in our Expert Whiteboy opinion, we chose a remix to another song as the all-time best Masta Ace song ever, but come on man. The bassline and drums on this track are simply destructive. Buildings are crumbling in my head just from thinking about it. I can’t even imagine how Masta Ace and his I.N.C. crew reacted when they first heard this beat. I bet it was similar to how I react when I beat a fierce competitor in Madden, except multiplied by a hundred billion.
There’s a good amount of songs on this list that I find personally awesome, and I’d completely understand if someone else didn’t feel the same way about the song, but this is a legit 100% official top 100 hip hop jam of all-time. Fuck, this is the definition of JAM. To top it all off, Ace is rocking a motherfuckin’ Neal Anderson jersey in the video. How did he even FIND a Neal Anderson jersey?

Raven Mack: I can tell you exactly where I lived when I bought the "Jeep Ass Nigguh" single. It was a shitty apartment on Granby in Richmond, lead paint, one roommate was unemployable good friend and the other seriously would lay in bed all day long and eat nothing but potato wedges from the gas station on the block. No shit. I remember this time so well, because that was a four or five month period I lived there, and it was before the heroin junkie or the serial rapist moved in. But I bought the "Jeep Ass Nigguh" single, and still have it to this day, off the Slaughtahouse, Inc. record, because that single was on clear vinyl, which, when you consider hip hop is a DJ-oriented form where dudes have to be able to see the grooves of a record, is a very fucked-up and asshole thing to do. "Jeep Ass Nigguh" was one of my favorite songs off that album, which is a classic album.
I don't know when it was - maybe the video or a mix show or whatever - but when I heard this song again as "Born To Roll" over that insane bassline, it cracked my skull. I bought that single too, which came out officially as part of the Slaughtahouse, Inc. hype brigade, but was so damned awesome it became the main song off of Masta Ace's next album. Seriously, you can argue with people over shit like whether the Muggs or Pete Rock "Jump Around" was greater, or any number of remixes, but it's always a close argument. There is no close argument between these two versions, and not because one is so much better than the other, but because it's like two completely different songs. I can't think of any other song ever that's been done twice in two such completely different ways, yet both being worth your time.
And I still have both singles, "Jeep Ass Nigguh" on clear vinyl and "Born To Roll" on regular folks vinyl, though I think I probably play the "Born To Roll" about ten times to every time I play the other. If we had talked about shit on this list in depth and not just voted time and time again and me and Mike had talked up this song like we just did, it probably would've finished much higher.
Also, at the time, with his shit being so on-time and the greatest shit coming out, I seriously had to be convinced it was the same Masta Ace who was in the Juice Crew. I mean, you read a shitty Source column and you know it's the same dude, but it was hard to believe. Mike made the Kool Keith mention, and I can just tell you right now that Kool Keith doesn't make this list, so fuck off hipster fuckwads and go pick up a 12-pack of PBR to go watch World Cup soccer and shit. Masta Ace was two times better than Kool Keith back when it was the '80s and nobody had solo careers really and one was ultramagnetic and the other was juicy, and then in the '90s, Masta Ace was still four times better, just he didn't rap about schizophrenic bullshit all day long, which confuses hipsters into thinking somebody's clever.

Download: Masta Ace - Born To Roll

Watch the video:

Tuesday, May 22

EWA100 - #43. Souls Of Mischief - 93 'Til Infinity

43. Souls Of Mischief - 93 'til Infinity (Jive. 1993. From the LP 93 'til Infinity)

Raven Mack: It's weird how things change, because when Del came out with Heiro and this single dropped, both the lyrical flows and the beat cracked my skull. I was convinced till up about last September that this was one of the greatest beats ever in the existence of the hip hoptical music. And saying crazy shit like "dial the seven digits, call up Bridget, her man's a midget..." and so on and such... way different for the time. Strange series of events because nobody would have allowed Del to do his black Beserkeley hippie schtick on I Wish My Brother George Was Here if he hadn't have been Ice Cube's cousin. And if that hadn't have been such a success, mostly with the white folks (IRONY! as the best song is that "dark skin girls are better than light ones" song), Heiro wouldn't have been allowed to bum rush BET in the mid '90s.
It's also funny, because like any musical movement, you get more great shit (Casual's Fear Itself LP comes to mind, especially "I Didn't Mean To"), but then you move into the third wave of Pep Love solo joints and the like, and the movement loses it's luster. Sure, I know on the internet, Heiro has come back and been the True Shit for a while, and every time they fade away, some documentary about how weird Del is or him doing vocals with an artsy anime band or the Automator or something will pop up and Heiro will gain some a touch of semi-mainstream attention for a minute or two; but for the most part, Heiro has been kinda obsolete for a while outside of Del.
But when a movement rises up and then falls back away into obscurity, like the rising and ebbing tides of an ocean of material consumer culture, you get left with high water marks. "93 'til Infinity" is most definitely the Heiroglyphics high water mark, maybe even more so than any individual song by Del.

Mike Dikk: I remember buying this in cassingle format either because it got a good write-up in The Source or because of the promotional Heiro stickers that were included in that particular issue. It’s pretty amazing that I used to be moved so much by the offer of a free sticker to go buy the thing that sticker was promoting. Now I wipe my ass with free promotional stickers on a daily basis and don’t buy anything ever, even if it came with a free promotional blow job.
I didn’t really like this song the first time around. I think it might have been a bit too crunchy for me at the time and I could have been going through one of my super serious hardcore phases where I couldn’t listen to anything un-rugged. I do enjoy this song quite a bit now though, since I am a grown up and can listen to anything I damn well please without worrying about the shallow judgments of other high schoolers.
Another big reason I enjoy the song a lot more now is because it’s about one of my biggest hobbies - chillin’. There aren’t many songs made these days about chillin’, and that’s a real shame, because there are a lot of us out there who enjoy chillin’ more than hearing about some dude with a lot of money who spends it on dumb shit. It must be so embarrassing when those types get audited and the repo guy is taking away their zebra skin diamond encrusted super toilet while they wonder how they could have possibly been so fucking stupid with their money. That’s all bullshit anyways, because not many rappers can actually afford such things, especially after wasting all of their advance money on really sweet giant medallions shaped like their record label mascot.
Back to chillin’ though. This really is a great song about chillin’ and how dudes plan to chill ‘til infinity, which is something everyone can get behind. I would really like it if someone can supply me with a list of other songs about chillin’ so I can make a mixtape, then compare and contrast the songs to make an EWA 100 sub-list to figure out who has the chillin'est song about chillin’. If anyone wants to help me with this project, please get a hold of me. Actually, that’s a trick, because if you were really all about chillin’, you wouldn’t be wasting your time making my lazy ass a list of songs about chillin’. Seriously though, someone make me that list.

Download: Souls Of Mischief - 93 'Til Infinity

Watch the video:

Monday, May 21

EWA100 - #44. Black Star - Definition

44. Black Star - Definition (Rawkus. 1998. From the LP Black Star)

Mike Dikk: Black Star and their single “Definition” came out during a time where it felt like underground “backpacker” rap could finally destroy mainstream “jiggy” rap once and for all. Of course we all know that didn’t happen, but it’s crazy to think all the way back to seven years ago that so called underground rap like all that shit on Rawkus was selling just as much, or even more, than whatever bullshit passes for mainstream rap today.

I suppose most people could argue with me about the statement I’m about to make, but I feel this song was more about being released at the right time more than it being a really great, memorable song that stands the test of time. I’m not saying I don’t like the song, but its retooling of old school concepts was really a breath of fresh air for the time. I don’t think it would have had the same impact if it was released two or three years later, or even earlier for that matter. It came out at just the right time when people were really getting sick of Puff Daddy and Bad Boy Records, and white people were finally ready to embrace their afrocentric soulful sides. Suburbanites were throwing away their No Limit medallions left and right and grooving to the non-threatening sounds of Talib Kweli and Mos Def.
I don’t really remember the logistics behind it, but after Black Star’s lone LP was released, they decided to go solo. Mos Def did Black on Both Sides, which a lot of people liked almost as much as Black Star. I’m really not one of those people, and it’s safe to say neither Mos nor Talib really did anything that great afterward. Maybe a song here and there, but never anything as monumental as this single or the LP it’s from.
That brings me back to my whole point that this song was more timely than it was classic. If these guys were so fucking awesome, why didn’t they ever do anything to rival it? They are basically still relevant only because of this record, and that’s a long time to coast off of one pretty awesome release. I won’t lie though. I think Mos Def is a good actor, and he coined the term “Tall Israeli”, which is a fancy way of saying Jews Who Run The Media, and it’s hard to hate on anyone for coming up with something that clever.
I still have hope for Talib too, but overall, I think there were a lot more people, including people who helped make this list, that liked Black Star a lot more than I did. So their combined abysmal failures aren’t really heartbreaking to me. I was more concerned when Onyx decided to release like eight bad records in a row to the point where it caused this weird reverse psychology effect on my brain where I now also hate their one good record in spite of all their purposely shitty records. So it’s probably for the better that I never put Black Star on a pedestal as the saviors of Conscious Rap and only regarded them as a pretty decent rap group that didn’t suck as much as all the other groups that were sucking at the moment.

Raven Mack: The Black Star movement was probably right at the end of my buy-everything-by-Rawkus stage in material consumption. And I dug Black Star well enough, and still have this single on vinyl, but were I to have represented these guys on this list without the cluttered help of a panel (you'll have to forgive me as I'm about to get mad expert whiteboyish), there's no doubt in my mind this would not even be here and in it's place would be "Fortified Live", which was released as a Reflection Eternal single, which was Talib and Hi-Tek's group, with Mos Def and Mr. Man of the Bush Babees on it, because that song is a motherfuckin' classic and a half. So much so, that they made a shitty second-rate remake of it on the Black Star record (that "twice inna lifetime like a Haley's Comet" song, which is a pile of shit compared to the original).
And I have to admit, I bought Black on Both Sides excitedly after this, though never through them on any pedestals, because I'm mostly a fan of unconscious rap, where people aren't yet aware of their self's standing in the village of hip hop, and by the time I had played Black on Both Sides, I realized Mos Def was mostly a Sunday afternoon throwback show, retooling older shit.
In fact, that brings me to what influence "Definition" has on my life nowadays. My oldest kid is now 8-years-old, and being the offspring of retarded people, she has pretty retarded musical tastes. "Definition" was her favorite song when she was like 4. I do not know how it came to be this way, but she loved it. (I think maybe my wife copped my Black Star tape without me knowing, perhaps thinking it was a reggae tape of some sorts due to the cover.) Well, I busted out the single to play for my daughter, who danced in the Christmas lights gleam for fifteen minutes straight, to the radio verson, the original version, and the instrumental. This led to me making tapes of radio versions of singles for my kid to listen to, because I don't need my sweet little kids running around going "fuck" this and "fuck" that. But about a year ago, I was digging through some old tapes and I dug out By Any Means Necessary by BDP, which has "My Philosophy", which is where Mos Def phonetically sampled the hook for "Definition" from, and I played it for my daughter to see if she recognized it. She did, and I figured this would be some grand illumination for her, so I stood at the stove, probably cooking some roadkill deer meat or some shit in the frying pan for dinner, expecting some grand nugget of realization from her, and the song ended and she goes, "Play the real one now, daddy." And my kid's not even a retarded kid doing the chicken noodle soup dance or whatever and shit like a public school kid. (So you know, I'm a kook homeschooler, not a privileged private schooler. We're too broke for that shit, so we figure if the kids gotta learn crazy shit, according to the law, we'd rather it be our crazy shit.)
So I guess I can appreciate a respect for the old school, but somewhere along the way I lost respect for Mos Def since a ton of his shit was just old school songs redone with his murky voice. And Talib is like that guy that always should've been something but never really amounted to nothing. I can dig on Talib a ton when he's in the zone, but I'm not one of those weird whiteboy types that think Black Star is like seriously the greatest shit ever to have been rapped, who usually date white girls who think Lauryn Hill is the greatest thing to ever have been rapped.
But yeah, this is a great enough song, but if you have to seek shit out and you're not rap dork enough to already have the entire Rawkus catalog on your beatpod robot machine, you should seek out "Fortified Live" as well, because it better captures that freestyle happy-for-life hype mode that made underground rap when Rawkus was a torchbearer back then so goddamned awesome, before underground got too nerdy and scientific and anime-like and broke into three thousand different little camps of "must-hear" collectives that tended to give me headaches after too much listening.

Download: Black Star - Definition

Watch the video:

Thursday, May 17

EWA100 - #45. KRS-One - Step Into A World (Rapture's Delight)

45. KRS-One - Step Into A World (Rapture's Delight) (Jive. 1997. From the LP I Got Next)

Raven Mack: I think by this point in personal history, I had adapted to a red-eye drinking longhaired horseshoe-playing lounger, so hyper-boom bap KRS style had become a little much for me. Don’t get it mixed… I still liked getting buckwild and loud, but KRS by this point had become sort of redundant, becoming the other end of his “old school artists don’t always burn” line from the previous decade. The Return of the Boom Bap is a great record, easily the greatest non-BDP thing KRS ever did, and this song, to me, sounds like it should’ve been on that album, because it has that hype feeling and nostalgic flow, whereas a lot of his other stuff off the later KRS albums bored the fuck out of me.
KRS is strange, getting caught up in some weird hip hop god complex, starting that church of hip hop or whatever he was all about at one point, and getting too hung up on politics. I think whenever you have someone from a sensory-based music form – rock-n-roll or hip hop or whatever – get all caught up in politics beyond the most basic of outlooks, to the point where they’re trying to convince you Clean-shaven Dirtbag #1 is WAAAAAY better than Clean-shaven Dirtbag #2, they have completely lost touch with whatever it was that made them successful music fuckers in the first place. Music should be an escape from bullshit like that. If I wanted to be aware, I’d go look at my bank balance and sit in the corner of the kitchen where the floor is sagging from probable termite damage and think about how I just got ripped off of $1300 for a job I did for some fat lady who wears too much make-up. I don’t want to be aware.
I could go into the whole “historical perspective” of using the Blondie rapture bit in this song and how that original Blondie dabbling in hip hop culture was the first exposure a lot of the world (meaning white people) had to the rappitty things what with the loud booms and people twisting around on their heads on top of cardboard with spraypaint cans rattling out a scary urban jungle jingle in the background. But that would be too smarky and smirky and dorktastic of me. I think if you haven’t heard most of the shit on this list, the best suggestion I can give you is you should seek it out (or get a dub from me when you come by the house), just to dig into this music. I’m sure there’s a ton of people in that whole Whole Foods organic food non-chemical dishwasher detergent Bush is the new Hitler set that would love love love upon some KRS One music from over the years, that may have never heard of him before. And if one overly-conscious hippie kid secretly starts bumping Criminal Minded when nobody is around to hear, then this stupid list will have been worth it.

Mike Dikk: I honestly had no recollection of this song before this list came up. Things like that happen every once in a while, but the situation of me not remembering this song is especially weird because I owned this CD. I remember where I bought it, I remember where I listened to it, and I remember other songs on it, but for some reason, this song really escaped me. It’s made even weirder by the fact that this was the big single off of that record and everyone around me had no problem remembering it. I feel like I’m on some Project Monarch shit and one day I’ll hear this song at just the right moment and assassinate some prominent figurehead. This song is my Catcher in the Rye or my Frankie Goes To Hollywood “Relax”.
I actually objected to this song being so high on the list because I really don’t remember it at all, but then I asked a few random people and they all told me it was a pretty big deal when it was new. I couldn’t tell you either way because someone or something doesn’t want me to remember this song.
Because of these circumstances, I really can’t comment about how I felt about the song when I first heard it, and how it fits in with the rest of the list. I know if I were to personally pick a KRS One solo song to be on here, it would have been “Mad Ism”, but that doesn’t work either, because that was really a Channel Live song. Not to spoil it for any Channel Live superfans, but that song didn’t make it, but up until last week, I thought it was on the list and I was anxiously waiting for it to show up, but it’s not here at all. That kind of pisses me off, because I would have pulled hard to get that song on this list and now I’m stuck here trying to put together 300 words (that’s my self-made minimum word count for these entries) about a song I don’t even remember. Lucky for me, I just went over my 300 word quota and I can stop writing any minute now. Oh before I go, I wanted to say Debbie Harry was pretty hot back in the day. Thanks for reading.

Download: KRS-One - Step Into A World (Rapture's Delight)

Watch the video:

Wednesday, May 16

EWA100 - #46. Kool G. Rap & DJ Polo - Ill Street Blues

46. Kool G. Rap & DJ Polo - Ill Street Blues (Cold Chillin'. 1992. From the LP Live And Let Die)

Mike Dikk: I wish I had a story about how I discovered Kool G. Rap, but much like Santa Claus, I don’t remember a time when he wasn’t in my life. Sometimes your mind bookmarks very specific memories, and other times you’re left with this kind of blur where as far as you know, you’ve always been down with something and it doesn’t matter when you found out about it.
Like I said in the write up for “Road to the Riches”, Live and Let Die was when I became an active fan of Kool G. Rap, and it was all because of this song. I don’t even know if the memory I’m about to recollect was physically possible, but it’s the only specific mental bookmark I have under “Kool G. Rap”, whether it’s a real memory or something my drug addled brain conjured up, I’ll never know.
There was this discount shopping place, much like a Big Lots, called Stratford Town Fair where I grew up. It’s still there, but I haven’t been there in decades. I remember it being a real grimy type of place that always smelled like glazed doughnuts and dirt. They had arcade games near the door that I’d play whenever I was there, which was usually with my friend Kenny’s family when they went shopping there and I tagged along because I had nothing better to do. For some strange reason, I remember hearing “Ill Street Blues” for the first time while I was playing video games at Stratford Town Fair. It’s not really the type of song you would expect to hear over a supermarket’s speaker system, and I’m not even sure if Stratford Town Fair had an Electronics section, but that’s what I remember and I’m sticking to it.
It was like I was Woody in White Men Can’t Jump and for the first time, I didn’t just listen to Kool G. Rap, I could HEAR Kool G. Rap. The song had so much going for it: the tricky ass rhyme scheme, the bluesy beat and a lot of violence. It’s no surprise I immediately fell in love with the song right there in the games section of Stratford Town Fair in my memory, which may or may not be real.
It may come as a surprise to you, whoever YOU are, but I don’t really talk much about music in real life. I do with my good friends, but I won’t just start blabbing about shit with people I don’t know that well. I don’t know why, but talking about music with someone you don’t know that well always turns into a big dick measuring contest where the people involved will try and one-up with you with some crusty old inconsequential music fact that you didn’t know because you went outside when you were little. I’m not saying I wouldn’t be guilty of this, because I probably would without even knowing it, but that’s the exact fucking reason I don’t participate in such nonsense. I don’t want to be THAT guy.
Furthermore, the internet (yes, I know I’ve mentioned “the internet” a lot) has allowed everyone to share their opinions and views with everyone else, myself included. This sometimes causes me to second guess my own opinion, and then I have to go back and rethink my own fucking opinion that I developed without the help of the internet to see if I really think my opinion is better than the consensus opinion. I hate this, because it makes me feel like a douche and a dork all at the same time.
I don’t want to have a meticulously planned argument on why Song A is better than Song B ready at all times. When I’m thrust in situations like this, I sometimes resort to an ignorant third grade frame of mind, and say something like “Song A is better than Song B because it just is, asshole.” My point being, whether or not my memory of hearing this song is correct, and whether or not you agree with me, “Ill Street Blues” is the best Kool G. Rap song because it just is asshole.

Raven Mack: I had heard some Kool G. Rap & DJ Polo stuff before this, but not with my wholeheart into listening to it, but when this came out, I was hip deep into weed-sales money, so I had fresh issues of The Source and Rap Pages and Rap Sheet, and a stack of vinyl singles and full-length cassettes every Tuesday to sink my stoned-out ears into. I bought this single first, and not only did the piano sample beat just fuck me straight up, to where all we did was sit around and want to freestyle to this beat, but Kool G. Rap's lyricism was like a cyborg from the future hanging out with a bunch of cavemen. We never really did freestyle over it much, and thinking back to that point, when other songs like "'93 'til Infinity" or "L.I. Groove" would get heavy spins on the turntables for freestyle sessions, this one never did, because you knew you couldn't just freestyle and not think about how much you sucked compared to Kool G. Rap. I ended up buying the full length tape strictly because of this single, and to this day, I would say this is one of my all-time favorite rap albums. It has a concept running through it, the beats all relate to each other and it's not a pack of hired guns - at least it doesn't sound that way, and the guest rappers complement the tape, as spice rather than just a steady stream of other dudes to help you forget it's just one rapper's album, like most modern CDs are, more of a mixtape than an actual album.
To this day, it amaze me how so few people realize how great Kool G. Rap is. I mean, the internet is on his dick for a few years now, but the internet doesn't really count in real life, because everyone knows that internet cool is real life fat fuck sucking on a Super Big Gulp, and real life cool uses his mom's Gateway computer to check his hotmail once a month. But the only person in real life I've ever had a conversation with about how great Kool G. Rap is was this dude I used to roll with Hlad Cess. We grew up together, and then went to college and shit, but he ended up living with this chick in Richmond and I went over to her house where he was chilling and we got mad high and were watching videos on BET before like an NFL wild card game, and "Ill Street Blues" came on and he was like, "That's the shit," and I was like, "I got that single with the instrumental," and he was rolling another fat joint and saying, "No shit man. You gotta hook me up with that shit." And I was like, "Yeah man, I will." And then we smoked the joint he rolled up and walked to the store to buy a couple of tallboys before the wild card game, and I don't think we got up too often after that.

EDIT: After thinking about this, my fake memory might have been of "Streets of New York" because the timeline just doesn't add up right. I don't know. it's not important. - mike d.

Download: Kool G. Rap & DJ Polo - Ill Street Blues

Watch A live version of Ill Street Blues from a TV show I don't recognize. There wasn't a real video for this song, was there?

Tuesday, May 15

EWA100 - #47. 2Pac - Keep Ya Head Up

47. 2Pac - Keep Ya Head Up (Interscope. 1993. From the LP Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.)

Raven Mack: Tupac is one of those guys who has reached legendary status within the rapping world, but more for his overall effect as opposed to individual tracks. I think this is one of the few singles he did you could consider being a monster jam, at least while he was for real alive, and not just fake Bigfoot Elvis alive. And I'm not much of a Tupac fan, as his style, though pretty melodic and always sounding as if it was double-tracked, becomes far too repetitive, which I guess is normal if you're doing like three songs a day or whatever ridiculous shit he was supposedly doing which has allowed there to be a Tupac-CD-of-the-Month Club ever since he died over a decade ago.
But for as much as Tupac underwhelmed me, I love this song. I don't care about any of that "he's a hypocrite for doing this song but sodomy raping some chick" argument, because this is a great great positive song, and the beat is ridiculously awesome - one of those beats I could play for hours while doing monotonous stupid work-a-day chores and get lost in my mind to forget how I waste the hours of my physical existence chasing dollars. I also don't understand the whole forcible sodomy thing always because the best line of defense for the victim seems to be, literally, right in front of your face.
But fuck all that seriousness. This song is about women and how a man is telling them to hold their head up and be strong, and it's empowering for women to hear this, but also serves the purpose of making the man seem like he's down with the most important aspects of feminism, like simple respect and washing the dishes once in a while and cunninglingus. These things are important to women. And when you show you are hip to these things, but not some poetry-writing, flute-playing, deflated-testosterone of a man, but an actual strong physical presence of a man with a twinkly-eyed smile who can kick an actual ass but still be down with the aforementioned simple respect and dishes and clitoris nibbling, then you are mad in. It is in our deeply buried DNA that dudes want to kick ass and have great sex and women want to take care of kids and keep things straight and in order, and that's how it is. But we've got brains that write books about studying brains, so we make up all these different justifications for how all sorts of unnecessary shit like gay marriage and women Presidents and satellite warheads and chunks of cement shaped in honor of dead soldiers are really necessary for us to be human in 2007. You know that shit, when someone acts all incredulous about something in the news, saying "I can't believe we're still dealing with this in 2007," as if the calendar turning another page means all of a sudden stupid-assed humans aren't stupid-assed humans.
So yeah, this song is the greatest thing Tupac ever did, and if there had been more of this Tupac instead of the gangsta pulling his shirt up to show off his THUG LIFE tattoo Tupac, maybe when I went to the flea market, instead of the framed pic of Biggie and Pac with a gun and fake $100 bills inside, there'd be the velvet paintings of a praying Tupac looking all Jesus-like that I've always wanted to own to be able to hang on my wall next to my Willie Nelson velvet painting and my crop art portrait of Socrates.

Mike Dikk: I don’t like writing about Tupac. I don’t even like talking about Tupac. He’s on my list of Things I’d Rather Not Discuss along with: Pantera, The Boston Red Sox, Meatloaf (the guy AND the food) and The Golden Girls. In fact, I got up and cleaned my apartment to put off writing this entry for a few hours.
Tupac is a guy that benefited from dying before everyone had the internet. I find it hard to believe in this fickle internet world, that Tupac’s legend status would have held up. The internet is all about deconstructing shit and making it lame, and Tupac has a LOT to deconstruct, mainly the fact that he changed personas almost as often as Madonna.
“Keep Your Head Up” was fortunately recorded during Tupac’s Conscious Rapper period - the only real period I can tolerate. I’m not necessarily bent out of shape because the guy was more a character than real person. I understand that music is nothing more than entertainment and you have to revamp your image in order to continue making money. What really bothers me is that he pulled that Gangsta shit and everyone just assumed Tupac had secretly been a Compton G his whole life despite living on the East Coast and going to ballet school or whatever fancy art shit he did when he was young. By the time Tupac was a gangsta, he was more Bishop from Juice channeled through Eazy-E’s AIDS-infected penis more than he was the real life Tupac Shakur. The most hilarious part of it is that he had no prior arrests until taking on this gimmick. That is fucking ridiculous, and I guess somewhat commendable that you would want to live your gimmick so much to the point of getting in trouble with the law to sell it.
I feel like I’m leading a one man hate parade right now, so I should say some positive things. I DO like this song, despite not liking Tupac as a person. I also think Tupac was the most poetic rapper that ever lived. I don’t particularly like poetry, and his real basic and redundant flow kind of took away from his more poetic lyrics, but honestly, if Tupac wasn’t a rapper he could have easily been some poet that nerds study in nerd poetry school. That’s what pisses me off about all these dudes who want to be Tupac. They steal the flow, but they don’t have the lyrics or talent to back it up. It’s probably why it was so easy for Tupac to record 18 songs a day and have 36,000 songs in the vault before his death. This dude was on some serious (insert famous poet name here... Robert Frost maybe) shit whether he knew it or not. Plus, I seriously doubt writing about shooting imaginary people and being an imaginary thug would be that hard for someone with that kind of gift. I’ve never listened to any Tupac A.D. material, but I assume there are more “California Thugg Ridaz” type songs as opposed to "Keep Ya Head Up"s. Writing that kind of content was probably as easy as taking a shit for him, and why bother challenging yourself from beyond the grave if you successfully dumbed down your music while you were still breathing?

Download: 2Pac - Keep Ya Head Up

Watch the video:

PP: Part Eight

So I went to this demolition derby outside of Harrisonburg last weekend, but they never got it started fast enough, and I had to leave at 1:30 or so to make it to my oldest daughter’s ballet recital at 3 pm in Charlottesville, plus had to buy flowers because every little girl doing ballet on a stage in front of strangers has watched enough Angelina Ballerina in her life to expect some goddamned flowers after the performance. Well, it was hard to want to go talk to people at the demo derby to get pics, because a lot of the people had mad angst, which is why I guess they enjoy wrecking cars into each other on purpose. However, this car had a really old guy dressed like he wanted to shoot Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda, and two younger kids, and I imagined they were grandpa and grandkids, and there were red painted antlers on the roof and that weird shiny confederate flag helmet, and they seemed like really great guys to talk to more, but I was afraid they thought I was some sort of stupid fag with my Polaroid camera and dreadlocks, so I wandered off before the old guy thought I was Dennis Hopper or Peter Fonda.

These two kids saw me taking instant pictures, so rolled up to ask if they could have one. Young redneck princesses with no shame to ask some strange freak dude to take pictures of them for them to probably tack up on their wall at home or put in a shoebox. I doubt these chicks even know about myspace or the Insane Clown Posse or probably not even about how you get herpes. It made me love them, not in a creepy older dude way but in a happy to see such simplicity in such a screwy hyper-speed modern world way.

There’s nothing really fancy about this little Chevy, except I was awestruck by it’s shiny chrome rims, it’s well-waxed blue paintjob, and that weird sun visor it was sporting outside of some garden center along the road. So I pulled over and took a picture while some old folks stared at me like I was Osama Bin Laden.

This is actually the picture that made me decide to buy a regular camera to start making prints from (old school regular, not digital robot regular, because I have one of those stupid bitches already), because this chick was stoked I was gonna take her picture and was beaming even more cutesy pre-algebra class-like, but the Polaroid wouldn’t snap, so she toned down her made-up perfect beauty by the time my button finally clicked. I love this girl. Seriously, I do.

PP: Part Seven

The first car I ever had was a ’69 Ford Futura, which was a fancy limited edition Falcon. This guy just looks so laid back, laying there on flat whitewalls with red spray-painted rims. The color of the car was rusted, but not into earth tone rust, but into a mix of blue and green. Had I started my feng shui junkyard in my field yet, and had I had money to waste on such idiotic notions, I definitely would’ve asked the old fucker polishing his New Balance sneakers (no shit, that was what he was doing) out front of this place how much he’d take for this hunk of shit.

Another wooded lounger. This is one of those cars that Bugsy Siegel or Karl Malone might’ve got killed in, or somebody might’ve ran moonshine with it, or F. Scott Fitzgerald could’ve been sitting in it on a hill in Baltimore when he wrote the national anthem and shit. Now, it’s just rotting away in the woods in central VA.

Old Dodge trucks are great looking trucks, and orange is a great looking color. Put them together, snake the doors and hood, and let a pile of leaves come billowing out the driver’s side opening, and for me, that’s plenty reason to waste a dollar’s worth of Polaroid film.

A car called a Rambler is a nicely named car. This particular one’s tireless position on the ground and lengthy Volvo-like appearance was interesting to me. Thus, I took this picture. It’s odd, because when you have rusted vehicles sitting in the woods, earth tones are in full effect; yet stupid hippie fuckers get all uptight about shit like old cars rotting away in the woods. I’d trade a million sniffs of patchouli in the air for one glimpse of something like this along a mountain path.

PP: Part Six

Old schoolbuses bought at auction, school name just barely marked out with cheap watery black spray paint, and stuffed with old pianos or furniture or whatever the fuck, and with a couple of decorative bulletholes. Seriously, I could look at pictures of dilapidated schoolbuses all day long.

I have discovered that, thus far, my favorite Polaroid of a car to take is to find those random junkers, not part of organized junkyards, that sit along the edges of the woods, where plant’s are starting to sprout up enough to swallow them back up. This lounger was chilling on a gravel road that heads to a state park that I wasted a few hours at last week because I didn’t really feel like working that much. Not that any of us do, but I am my own boss, which doesn’t really help pay the phone bill, but it has its advantages.

To have enough junk vehicles in your possession to make a decision like, “You know, I think I’ll start using the bed of that one particular truck right over there by that pile of pine logs that aren’t fit for indoor burning in the woodstove to store all my extra unused milk crates.” That’s some shit I aspire towards, and I had to get rid of most of my junk vehicles a year ago before a big party we had at the house. I’m down to just one and it ain’t even a truck. I’m still young though, and this is America, where the useless acquisition of consumer obsessions is fully endorsed and encouraged by the powers that be.

Often times, I take for granted the fact I live in a semi-rural area and get to drive by weird old trucks with like seven thousand dollars worth of Mad Maxish barely necessary things welded and bolted onto the fronts. I am glad to be sharing our impressive makeshift poverty of style with you, Mrs. Anonymous Internet. I know you won’t enjoy it, because you are a fickle bitch, just like your mother Al Gore. But fuck you, I’m doing it anyways.

EWA100 - #48. Leaders of the New School - Case of the P.T.A.

48. Leaders Of The New School - Case Of The P.T.A. (Elektra. 1991. From the LP A Future Without A Past)

Mike Dikk: It’s absolutely scary to think about how much I’ve listened to this song in my lifetime. On average, I still listen to this song about once a week, and I have no real concrete explanation for it. I have a lot of little explanations of course, but there’s no Bigger Picture.
In my mind, there has never been an over-two MC group to capture this much hyperkinetic energy on one track. I should change that to read POSITIVE hyperkinetic energy before someone mentions the Wu Tang Clan, who definitely possessed just as much energy at one point, but their's was more relentless and unforgiving, while LONS was figuratively bursting at the seams and bouncing off the walls and any other two cent cliché you can think of.
The content of the song also guaranteed it would get a lot of airplay out of me, since I’m a sucker for most songs that portray lovable losers in a high school setting. It was something I could relate to at the time. I’m not really the overly nostalgic type that embraces his high school experience. I don’t look back at those years as the best time of my life or any dumb shit like that. In fact, I could probably put my entire four year high school career on a five minute highlight reel and be happy with that. I think I just like hearing OTHER people admit that they didn’t really fit in that well. “Teachers hate me, girls don’t date me, ‘cuz I’m C Brown (CLASS CLOWN)” will speak to me infinitely more than any Kurt Cobain teen angst bullshit misunderstood lost soul posturing.
Coincidentally, I don’t like when normal people tell me they didn’t fit in in high school. It’s more reassuring when it’s done in song form and there’s a coinciding music video for some reason. Oh, and it has to be done in a lighthearted joking manner. Another good example would be Eminem’s “Brain Damage”, which remains my favorite Eminem song, and one of the only tracks of his that I still like. I still wouldn’t put it in the same league as “P.T.A.” but I figured I should provide another example so you know where I’m coming from.
But yeah, Leaders of the New School really hit on something with this song. Unfortunately, like most groups, one star shined brighter than the others and The LONS only really struck absolute synergetic gold with this one single, which is why you can never invest too much interest in group hip hop, because it’s inevitable that it will end up ugly. It’s why the Hip Hop Group is basically dead, save for some indie rap acts that would no doubt go solo if the situation arose.
The bottom line is, if you were to only judge a rap group by their best song and nothing else, The LONS would make my top five list with no trouble. I imagine this is the kind of lighthearted happy pappy hip hop that Raven hates, so please read on as he pisses on the pretty picture I just verbally painted.

Raven Mack: I'm gonna be completely honest here (which is to suggest I've previously just lied my ass off in reminiscing fondly and waxing pathetically through this list)... I never listened to this song before we made this list. No shit. And Busta Rhymes, for my experiences in life, went straight from "ROWR! ROWR! Like a dungeon dragon," to "WHOO! HA! Got you all in check," both of which weren't singular bad actions, but beyond that, he's been so commercial that one time I was in a shitty meat market bar in Richmond and his video was on the cable TV screen with no sound since they were probably playing some stupid shit instead over loudspeakers, and his video was in closed captioning, which was hilarious to me, probably because at that point in life I drank a lot and borrowed a ton of xanax from the dude I rolled with (peace to my man Born King who I never see no more motherfucker), and shit like Busta Rhymes videos silent but with closed captioning were great fun. Then I'd invariably pick a fight with someone or break into an abandoned house to steal construction tools or try to help Born King duct tape a girl to the ceiling to see if duct tape was strong enough to do shit like that.
I could go back and listen to this song, because I let my internet welfare ass (rural dial-up) download it one night, and it's the type of old school song I can throw on my wife's beatpod machine and when we're riding around with the kids in the car, we can play it and the kids love the old school and it makes us feel hype as adults as well, and the littlest kid will want to hear "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" and the oldest will want to hear Andrew Bird if the youngest kid gets to pick a song, and we ride to the store with the beatpod playing to go get some wild salmon and basmati rice because we are white people. We are really white people.

Download: Leaders of the New School - Case of the P.T.A.

The video for "P.T.A." on Youtube does not allow embedding. If you would like to see it, click here. Instead, here's a "freestyle" session LONS did on Canadian station Much Music, back in the day. The Fu Schnickens also show up at the end. The "Freestyle" is really just verses from other songs. Mostly Scenario II.


AFFORDABILITY: Okay, for some reason Coors, Coors Light, Budweiser, and Bud Light like to price themselves as if they are some sort of actual great beer, when it’s the same shit taste as any other cheap can of beer, except not so cheap. However, they both run mad commercials, therefore causing stupid fucks to identify with the brands. Coors is over $8 a 12-pack, which for a shitty beer, is ridiculous. Tecate was the same price and I was about to get that instead today, but the new light yellow boxes of the Coors 12-pack confounded me, as I save my empty 12-pack boxes for other endeavors (siding the insides of a couple “found” campers I have on my property), and the yellow is a purty color. Still though, $8 for a shitty 12-pack? 1 out of 5.

DESTROYABILITY: Like any cheap beer, it’ll get you drunk if you drink fast enough. It promises 5% on the can, which I guess is slightly higher than regular cheap beers that aren’t iced up, but I don’t know. I don’t remember it fucking me up more than other shit like Old Milwaukee or PBR. But I’ll trust the can. 3 out of 5.
LABEL AESTHETIC: Here’s where Coors shines. Soothing yellow can, mountains and some gangster ass crest-worthy lions in silver, plus a little catch phrase of “A brand that has stood the test of time…” with an actual (or maybe pretend) Coors dude’s signature behind the quote. That’s class for a cheap beer. (Note: couldn't find a picture of the newer cans, so had to use one of an old can that was crushed for some reason, which is what I thought about doing with a can to fit on my scanner, and then I realized that's where I hide my favorite porn mag in the house since my wife never scans anything.) 5 out of 5.
CORPORATE MASTER: Figured it’s Coors, which were probably Nazis smuggled out during Project Paperclip to the mountains of Colorado, because first dude’s name was Adolph Coors, and plus there’s mad neo-nazis and crazy supremacists out in Colorado. However, label brags upon some company called Banquet, which is probably just some new name they gave themselves when everybody was caught up in what Nazis they were (which also is probably why they couldn’t be available on the east coast – with all the Jewish influence – before a decade or two ago, because if you remember Smokey & The Bandit, them dudes were smuggling Coors back east). Still, you can’t drunkenly wreck your car into a convenience store without hitting a Coors poster, so they’ve got some corporate clout. 3 out of 5.
OVERALL AMBIANCE: When I was a kid, my folks ran with a bunch of longhaired hippie redneck good ole boy fuck-ups who told great stories. One dude who had the biggest beard when I was a kid that I saw regularly – Harold – he drank nothing but Coors. That makes it awesome. Few years back, I was laid over in the Roanoke bus station and Harold supposedly lived there, so I looked him up and called and he was on disability because of breaking his back in some forklift accident, and his son who I used to play with and fight with all the time, he was now the assistant manager of a Red Lobster, and it was all too real, and depressing. Harold told me he didn’t drink anymore, which means he didn’t drink Coors anymore, which means when this guy you never met named Harold was awesome in life, he drank Coors all the time; and then when life sucked for him, it was probably because he didn’t drink anymore Coors. 4 out of 5.
TOTAL RATING: 3 and 1/5 stars!

Beck’s Dark

AFFORDABILITY: At least where I lay my head, Beck’s and Beck’s Dark are on the lower end of the high-end of the beer aisle. So if you’re gonna go over to some fancy fucks house to eat shit like boneless chicken breasts wrapped in bacon with some fucking sauce and asparagus or snow peas or some shit, this is the perfect beer to bring for them to drink with you. 3 out of 5.

DESTROYABILITY: I enjoy a Beck’s Dark buzz, and I enjoy the taste of getting towards that buzz. I have memories of it putting me on tilt, but this could be because of me regularly getting 12-packs of it for me and the ol’ lady to sit around on a Saturday night playing Parcheesi while listening to Hank Williams III, which of course, is all a polite precursor between us to start acting like teenagers in a dorm room on the living room floor. 4 out of 5.
LABEL AESTHETIC: Nothing super-special, but there’s sort of hidden lines in the background, and plus some crazy key in a crest on it. Also, foreign words, and it has that wonderful foil label at the top of the bottle if you are the nervous type who likes to be picking at shit all the time. I think regular Beck’s has silver foil, but Beck’s Dark has gold foil, and I bet if I was more careful about removing it in the summertime when the humidity causes bottle sweat that loosens the glue, I could make a nifty folk art diorama of the West Virginia state capital building. 3 out of 5.
CORPORATE MASTER: Straight up, it’s a product of Germany, and imported by Beck’s America with a listed address in Norwalk, CT. Motherfuckers ain’t fuckin’ around, although Germany and Connecticut ain’t exactly the heritage of folks that I like to share my cup of tea with. 4 out of 5.
OVERALL AMBIANCE: It’s hard for me to find fault with it. Were I a richer dude, this’d be the beer I drank 9 of each night. As it stands, it’s close enough in price for me to drink 9 of a week while I fill in the gaps with cheap cans of bloodstream corrector. 4 out of 5.
TOTAL RATING: 3 and 3/5 stars!

Yuengling Black & Tan

AFFORDABILITY: Yuengling products are the cheapest of the “good” beers you can possibly buy, with 12-packs of bottles ringing up for less than 12-pack cans of shit brands like Budweiser and Coors in many places I frequent with my rapidly disappearing credit limit. So if you’re looking for a glass to grip instead of a can to clutch, there is nothing better than Yuengling beers. And the Black & Tan is usually on the cheaper end of their varieties. I would’ve bought Porter, but I was being a Jew that day in the store and this was a dollar cheaper per six-pack than the Porter. 5 out of 5.

DESTROYABILITY: Black & Tan will fuck you up, but I have also found in my extensive research that it’ll hurt your brain to if drunk in quantities enough to make you hilariously drunk. This does not bode well for tomorrows. And I always have this fear that the type of alcohols that put a piledriver on your brain are also the ones that secretly double dropkick your liver at a more impactuous level. 2 out of 5.
LABEL AESTHETIC: Pretty gay actually, with an eagle and a banner proclaiming “America’s Oldest Brewery” as if that mattered to 34-year-old drunkard Raven. The one time I went to Pennsylvania to see a dirt track race there, the car that won the late model class was sponsored by Yuengling and painted up like the Porter label and it was pretty nice. A car painted up like this label probably wouldn’t win many features, or if it did, it’d look chumpy doing so. 1 out of 5.
CORPORATE MASTER: Yuengling seems to be one of the few major brands not made by major assholes. I’m sure in actuality they’re distributed by Bohemian Grove Freemason Man-boy Love Association Local 666, but if I don’t know about it, then it’s all good by me. 5 out of 5.
OVERALL AMBIANCE: The Yuengling brand is linked to many an adult memory of drunkenness for me, however the Black & Tan variety is the least linked to that. I still hold them all together (actually, just the Lager and the Porter and the Black & Tan, because nowhere around here really has Lord Chesterfield’s Ale, probably due to political sensitivities towards the black community, and why the fuck would I buy a light beer when beer belly allows me to zen buddhist tantric 69 with dreadlocked chicks?) in my mind, but Black & Tan is also known to me as the one that causes me to need Goody’s headache powder the next day, which I never buy because instead I just drink a big jar of water, which doesn’t help either so usually I just lay around on the couch hoping something good comes on my three stations, which it doesn’t, which means I drink more beer out of boredom. 3 out of 5.
TOTAL RATING: 3 and 1/5 stars!

MNZ: Vice Volume 14 Number 4

My apologies to avid Vice fans, for my other review from last week, as the second stupid issue that showed up in my mailbox wasn’t nearly as annoying as the first, though it still had its moments. I guess my favorite part of Vice is finding out where some of the stupid fags who annoy me on the internet get their hip bullshit from. That Skinema dude is funny enough I’ll probably pay some crusty punk runaway kid on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall three bucks to shoplift his new book for me.

Friday, May 11

EWA100 - #49. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince - Summertime

49. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince - Summertime (Jive. 1991. From the LP Homebase)

Raven Mack: Let me be honest here for the first time in my life about this song... I'm a teenager, and we live in the country and the American World had yet to reach that point where even refrigerator boxes underneath an interstate overpass had a satellite dish on them, so all I got to watch on the TV was whatever the metal antenna contraption on top of the house could harvest from the sky. No MTV, and I doubt I even knew BET existed back then, if it even did, but I got on Saturday nights whatever that rap video show was that was hosted by that Dee Barnes chick that Dr. Dre beat up. They played this video forever on that show, and even though I was far enough into adolescence to strive to be the coolest, meaning I liked cutting edge shit and wore my hair funny, because like any teenager ever on the earth, fuck my parents, you know? So outwardly, I would never admit to ever paying attention to this video or song, or much less even liking it, because yo, this is that stupid Fresh Prince dude always rapping that cornball shit about going clothes shopping for school or in that show that had Carlton and Lennox Lewis' dad as the butler, so fuck a "Summertime". But you know what? I love this song. This might actually be the only song by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince I would admit to liking, and that's after being learned the history of hip hop and thinking Jazzy Jeff may or may not have been the inventor of the transformer scratch.
It's kind of funny to compare and contrast the outlook on life between this song and "It Was A Good Day" by Ice Cube, both of which are warm weather, feel-good hits, but Cube's is all happy about not having to shoot people or getting your car stolen or having some sex with a girl you just got all high, and Jeff and Will's ditty is about cookouts and flirting with pretty girls. "Summertime" is more about feeling good to your heart, whereas Cube's anthem is more about not having things get in the way of you getting your's. Two entirely different concepts. "Summertime" is not manifest destiny, corporate greed on the grass roots level, Grand Theft Auto: New Jack City-onomics, but instead just actual carefree happiness, all tingly in the moment. And as much as I hate shit like that, "Summertime" can break through that even in a jaded blackheart like me, and make me yearn for a nice breeze, sitting a picnic table with nowhere to go any time soon, not even when the sun goes down or maybe comes back up either.

Mike Dikk: If you’re skipping around and you missed my previous “Straight Outta Compton” write up, you might want to go back and read that, since I lightly touched on the album this single came from, and elements from that write up may or may not continue on to this one.
I never had a problem with The Fresh Prince’s early goofy rapping nonsense. Even at age 9, I could see that all of his songs were essentially the same song over and over again. I was a big fan of the Nightmare on Elm Street films so I was arbitrarily a fan of “Nightmare on My Street”. I thought Mike Tyson was the coolest so I was arbitrarily a fan of “I Think I Could Beat Mike Tyson”. I knew parents didn’t understand, so I was arbitrarily a fan of “Parents Just Don’t Understand”.
See? It’s all the same shit. Take some topic that appeals to a nine-year-old, make a goofy colorful video and BAM! Instant hit. There was a place for a rapper like that back in the '80s. All of the Fresh Prince songs were harmless fun, and though, the critical asshole in me would say none of them are exactly essential, I still remember a good amount of lyrics from most of those songs.
There’s no one like that these days. Even bubble gum rappers who are meant to appeal to “tweeners” still sing about fucking. It’s all about fucking in the 21st century. There is no one rapping about Freddy Krueger, and if they were to rap about Freddy Krueger, it would most definitely be about fucking Freddy Krueger... in his ass.
I don’t know if all this was pre-meditated, and Will Smith knew these songs would lead to a surprise hit TV show or not, but that’s what it did. Soon after that, he lost all his street cred, which is a weird occurrence, since he really did just make songs for 9-year-olds, but either way, he wasn’t considered a “real” rapper anymore after his television success. No one thought The Fresh Prince could successfully return to rapping, because I guess that sitcom money would have gotten to his head and he couldn’t relate to the previous 9-year-olds he used to make songs for.
Then DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince released “Summertime”, which was basically their swan song big hit single before Will kicked Jeff to the curb like Uncle Phil did periodically on episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and to use a tired commercial phrase, it was quite the Monster Jam. Not only did The Fresh Prince Will Smith manage to successfully return to rapping, but he made a song that appealed to people above the age of 9. I would go as far as saying this song appealed to an age bracket as high as 15 to 16.
The Will Smith of today is a very rich man who gets paid a lot to make movies and I believe at one point he was even nominated for an Oscar, so talking about his past music career is kind of uncomfortable for most people who take music seriously. Because of that, this song will get shit on, but anyone who would shit on this song secretly likes it. It is virtually unhateable, and publicly berating this song is much akin to how closet gays will pick on an outed gay to make themselves seem less gay somehow. It’s okay to be gay these days, and it’s okay to admit you like “Summertime”.
On a personal level, this entire record kicks up some bad memories for me, and you’ll know why if you did as I instructed and read my “Straight Outta Compton” blurb, but if you didn’t, there’s a good chance I got this LP in place of the Straight Outta Compton LP one Christmas. I am not ashamed to publicly praise “Summertime”, but the full length record Homebase is still a festering pile of shit.

Download: DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince - Summertime

Watch the video: (BONUS: CLICK HERE to see the making of the Summertime video)

Pabst Blue Ribbon

Yep, I drink the trendiest beer of all, although I guess it was trendy in Richmond when I still lived there 8 years ago and has now trickled all the way down to where when you go to rich kid college parties, the kind with Indian exchange students and shit, even they drink PBR now.
AFFORDABILITY: At my local run-down supermarket, PBR is now half a dollar cheaper than Old Milwaukee even, so unless you want to get into the Milwaukee's Best section of beer, which I think is pretty much reserved for people under the age of 19 or hobos, then it's about as cheap as you can get. 5 out of 5

DESTROYABILITY: All cheap beers destroy you as you pummel them into your liver, so my rating in this category is more for how you feel about it. Pabst does not hurt your innards like other cheap beers may do. Still, it's cheap beer that is unfortified, so you have to get forearm deep into the 12-pack box before you start to feel anything of note. 4 out of 5.
LABEL AESTHETIC: Pabst Blue Ribbon cans are neat-looking enough, but once filtered through the pop culture memories of how many dumbasses you've seen wearing PBR t-shirts or, worse yet, PBR mesh "trucker" hats, the label loses its luster. 2 out of 5.
CORPORATE MASTER: PBR is still claimed by the Pabst Brewing Company, but somehow like one of every two cheap beers is owned by the same company, which I don't remember being Pabst, maybe Miller, and like every cheap beer ever's name is owned ultimately by them and just continued so that different regional dumbfucks or national dumbfucks can attach to whichever name they want and drink themselves silly like our grandfathers used to do. 2 out of 5.
OVERALL AMBIANCE: Probably could be higher since bikers and rednecks used to drink this shit exclusively back in the day (as in that Johnny Russell song "Red Necks, White Socks, and Blue Ribbon Beer"), but of course every anthropology major ever sitting next to you at a cleverly-named college town bar has probably already explained this history to you by now. Not many bikers or rednecks drink that shit anymore, so it's sort of a dead fact, since I don't think if dead bikers and rednecks who used to like this shit are zombified and looking for their brains, they're not gonna eat a bunch of college grad hipster doofus brains because it's soaked in PBR. In fact, perhaps all this is just a long-term marinade plot by such forces to that there's a healthy harvest of brainy PBR-drinking types for when this inevitable redneck biker zombie invasion takes place. 2 out of 5.
TOTAL RATING: 3 stars!

Red Stripe

Red Stripe is like a secret beer that I only allow myself to enjoy at home, for reasons I will get into later. But I bought a big stubby double deuce yesterday, to complement the cheap 12-pack to come. And I drank it, so I'll pretend someone cares and put my very important expert whiteboy thoughts into the intarnet machine.
AFFORDABILITY: I just got a fat check cashed, motherfucker, so it's mad affordable, at least the double deuces are. Usually, if I get on a good beer kick, I usually only buy the bigger bottles (pints, 22s, etc.) because I have a hard time buying good beer six-packs when I start breaking it all down cost per ounce and shit in my head, which I usually always do, being a child of the Dust Bowl migration. 3 out of 5 (in big bottles, but not in six-packs).

DESTROYABILITY: Though I often times wonder if it's not like Mexican beers in its laziness to alcoholify my bloodstream, I will admit, if you pound a few big boys of Red Stripe, it gets me feeling good. 4 out of 5.
LABEL AESTHETIC: The label looks like it should be, without the brand name, what a flag of some country would actually be. In fact, if it wasn't for the Jamaican bobsled team, if someone asked me what the flag of Jamaica was, I'd answer that stupid red, green, and yellow striped shit hippies use as curtains in their front room. And then when the person told me that wasn't the Jamaican flag, my second guess would be the Red Stripe logo without the words. 5 out of 5.
CORPORATE MASTER: Made my some colonial warlords named Desnoes & Geddes Limited, and imported by Guinness, and I bet all three of some dudes with those three last names go out African big-game hunting to get albino giraffes to stuff to put in their great room where they smoke really kush weed rolled up into blunts where the paper is the dried skin of old Japanese dudes with those crazy all-over fish tattoos. 2 out of 5.
OVERALL AMBIANCE: Here's why I don't drink Red Stripe publicly. I am a white guy with dreadlocks, so it took a lot of actual realization that I like Red Stripe to buy it in front of people. And every time I pick up a bottle or six-pack of it, I feel like Mr. Dumbass Cuntface Stupidfuckle, for being a white guy with dreadlocks buying Red Stripe. I know if I saw that shit happening, I would be expecting said dude to pay for his shit with a credit card, and then go out to his Subaru stationwagon with Phish stickers, which he'd fire up and the doodling sounds of Jerry dicking around while in heroin haze would come out the always-open window, and off would go said chump, visualizing whirled peas all the way to his rental home where his dogs Kaya and Marley are probably curled up by the door waiting for him, hoping to go to the river again for the ninth time this week. So because I imagine that bullshit, I know people see me and imagine that bullshit, and that makes me feel sad inside. Not really, but I don't want motherfuckers all bugging and shit, so usually I carry around a couple of cans of vienna sausages too, to really confuse the issue. 1 out of 5.