Exponentially fresh.

Today I had a little conversation with the homie Amir in which we were talking about the “old” New York. You know, that scary place where people sold crack on corners and mugged people and shit. All that stuff that still happens rather rampantly in the farthest reaches of the outer boroughs, aka East New York. Sure, rich model broads and stockbrokers still do drugs I can’t afford, there is still a “peep show” sign here and there around Times Square area, and apparently prostitution is still a thriving and widely accepted business. But the city is definitely a happier, safer place, where people like me can walk home through previously warzone-like neighborhoods with relative ease. Not to say that I’m a wimp or even look very out-of-place, but I’m not exactly the type that looks like they’re going to fuck someone up.

Anyway.

My partner in conversational gem dropping then said this:

Emphasis on that last line: “hip-hop is so much safer now”.

Say. Fucking. Word.

Rememeber when Suge Knight was dangling Vanilla Ice from a balcony? Or when Tru Life was on the streets running up in Mobb Deep’s studio and pistol whipping muhfucks? Actually, remember when Tru Life was on the streets at all?

Just like how there are good and bad sides to the gentrification and crime clean-up that NYC has seen in the recent years, there are good and bad sides to this twinkie softness creeping up not-so-subtly on rappers and their resulting rap shenanigans. I like to draw the metaphor of hipsters moving into Bushwick being the same shit as the internet changing up the music industry.

Once upon a time, Bushwick looked a lot like this:

And the people here looked like this:

Yeah, mad gangsta, and mad dead. In fact that’s a photo from 1979 at Joe and Mary’s Restaurant in Bushwick of the murder of noted Italian mafia associate Carmine Galante.

Anyway, Bushwick pretty much still looks like this. The main difference is that now the people that live here, especially in its western half, look like this:

And they opened businesses like Beauty Bar on Broadway, where the hip folk descend to drink cheaply and take photos like this:

A far cry from the drug wars and blight that was happening here a few decades ago.

Once upon a time, rap looked like this:

Come to think of it, pretend Ja Rule’s face isn’t on that, because I can’t forget about this song:

The utter irony in this is that he’ll be on his way to jail next month for two years on a gun charge. Someone give that man a hug (unless you’re his cell mate, please). I think he’s confused. Not that you can’t be a loving man and own a gun, I know a ton that do, but romping around as 2nd string talent to Jennifer Lopez in a music video to a song that conjures up images of butterflies and daffodils in my head? Not exactly Israeli-made desert eagle material.

Anyway, now rap looks like this:

With a dash of this:

And just as I enjoy being able to hit up Mr. Kiwi’s at Myrtle and Broadway 24 hours a day for vegetarian, organic, and overpriced goodness as much as I enjoy being able to kick it in music studios with little worry that I might catch a stray bullet in an elevator on the way out (“sick leave” doesn’t exist for a freelancer anyway so that would be extra, extra unfortunate), there is some extra soft shit going on now that could use a proper 1980′s style ass kicking.

Twitter didn’t exist in 1998. Neither did Worldstar, or if it did it wasn’t nearly what it is now. Messageboards were the vintage counterpart to comment threads. What was a nahright? Hell, what was a blogger? Picture messaging? Skype? All those picture/video/messaging services that give people like Kat Stacks ammo with which to fuel their fame?

Life was different. If you wanted to call someone out, you had to do it the normal way: in person. People got made examples of to teach them lessons. Now, in the present, on any given day I can go to my inbox and see a new email blast from VladTV about the latest C-List celebrity “Twitter beef.” If your beef can be contained in 140 characters, your beef ain’t beef. I’m callin’ you out like Taco Bell’s faux-beef. If your beef requires multiple tweets, your beef is actually a phone call you were too lazy to make mixed with a desperate need for attention. I think the latest one was Nelly and his old manager. Or the guy who was never really his manager. Or whatever the fuck they were saying. Hell, just a little while ago our favorite bald headed female Amber Rose took to the tweets to say “fuck Vibe magazine.” And what did Vibe do? The EIC released an official statement on their website, and then of course, twitter blasted it out. If this was 1998 you know what she would have done? Ran her bald and sexy ass into the Vibe offices and slammed that issue down on a desk and caused a fucking scene, behind the scenes. Or something. It wouldn’t have involved running straight to Twitter and hiding behind the safety blanket of public support in the form of retweets and the ability to delete something after you write it. If she wanted to take shit public, what she really would have done is run to one of the competing magazines and aired out her feelings about Vibe through a story with their journalistic foes.

Oh yeah, that’s so menacing and scary, and I’m sure they will retract the whole article and apologize to her. Except they didn’t, they stood by the article, so all this accomplished was drawing more attention to an article she doesn’t agree with. Way to go.

Bloggers have it out for eachother, one day I will refer to this era of the music industry as “The Keyboard Wars,” rappers who talk a tough game are getting aired out courtesy of direct messages by video vixens thirsty for some limelight to accentuate their baby oiled frames, and the worst enemy to record labels is now the advent of file sharing websites. And what does anyone do about it? Talk. Tweet. Email. I’m not saying that the era of violent rap beef should be reinstated, because killing people over the entertainment industry of all things is just ass backward. Killing people over anything is really a pretty shitty solution in most cases. But if people begin to think that they can just pop off at the mouth, in public at that, without getting properly checked for acting out of pocket? Shit is only going to continue to spiral more and more out of control.

In fact, when shit does hit the fan and some furniture starts getting thrown around and people are getting their ribs kicked in, people find it comedic now. Oh, these internet chumps finally got mad and stepped away from the mouse pads, eh? What a bunch of clowns, right? Nah. The clown shit is popping off at the mouth and using the internet to stir up problems. Maybe Suge Knight does need to come back through and regulate some of this shit. I don’t know. Just like the residual bad shit that still remains in Bushwick can have a plus side (like still being able to buy caffeinated Four Loko on the block and coming up on a $10 iPod deal from a crackhead), some of the sketchier shit in the rap business was keeping this recklessness out of control. Can you imagine the day when Sean Price shows up at some blogger’s door ready to punch their nose into the back of their neck for trashtalking him or leaking his album, or when Lil Kim actually girlfights Keyshia Cole off of Twitter on the streets of New York? Exactly.

This is dope. According to the homie Torae…

Recorded for comedian Russell Peter’s upcoming DVD, “The Green Card Tour LIVE from the O2 Arena”.

Russell recorded his new live DVD on September 23rd & 24th in London at the O2 Arena in front of over 30,000 fans. The new special DVD was shot with 11 cameras in full HD. Tentatively titled, RUSSELL PETERS: THE GREEN CARD TOUR Live from the O2 Arena, will be released in May / June of this year. The DVD is in the final stages of editing and the cover art is being finalized. The DVD is 30 minutes longer than the broadcast edit and features over 60 minutes of extras including; Deleted Scenes, Bloopers and Behind The Scenes footage.

Oh, and here’s the clean version of the track for your iTunes.

[BONUS DOWNLOAD] Masta Ace feat. Wordsworth – I refuse (Clean) (prod. by Marco Polo)

J-Scrilla’s beat gets adorned with Sketch and Nipsey Hussle bars. Virginia Tec-9 out for free online this summer.

[DOWNLOAD] Sketch feat. Nipsey Hussle – Nightmarez (prod. by J-Scrilla)

This week someone I consider a musical hero was taken from us. Gil Scott-Heron’s voice influenced my writing, the music I listen to, and more. It was people like him who so passionately and articulately spoke out about injustice and struggle who motivate me to try my best to do the same. Though the last few years of his life were certainly difficult and he is hopefully free of pain and at peace now, it still definitely hurt to hear that he was gone.

His delivery of words, his cadence, his calm yet furious anger, the tone of his voice, the passion behind his work, the pain that translated through his songs…it created a final product so utterly moving that I can hardly think of any other person’s music I’ve ever heard that can do what his does to me. Nina Simone, perhaps. He was definitely a legend.

For this week’s Sunday Sounds I bring you a few of my favorite Gil Scott-Heron tracks. This is what I listen to when I gaze at the NYC skyline on a summer night to make sure I remember to slow my own life down a bit sometimes. RIP, Gil Scott-Heron.

Angel Dust

From Secrets, “Angel Dust” has been sampled quite directly by some of my favorite artists including Hasan Salaam and Joell Ortiz. Scott-Heron’s drug use was widely known, and with “Angel Dust” he gave listeners a glimpse into that life.

17th Street

Off of his album with Brian Jackson It’s Your World, “17th Street” is an ode to Chelsea, the neighborhood he lived in at one point. This just makes me want to dance – the instrumentation is crazy.

Waiting for the Axe to Fall

“brother living in a cell, doin’ time at the county jail, you might think his life is hell, but he told me that’s the first room he ever had to himself, waiting for the axe to fall

We Almost Lost Detroit

This track is even more important in the present as the world has been watching the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. “We Almost Lost Detroit” challenges nuclear power, in such a poetic way that you barely realize it. It has been sampled by Common among various other notable emcees. This performance of the song was dope.

A Legend In His Own Mind

The story of the ladies man. “well he loved pretty women from Canada to Mexico, and he loved to see them coming and hated when they had to go, macho man before macho ever came to town, and the only problem was not enough of him to go around, you know he had more romances than airplanes got gauges, had more romances than a phone book had pages, he’s a legend in his own mind, and God’s gift to women, on a day God wasn’t giving up a thing”. I feel like playing this song when I see how some of the men in New York City stay acting sometimes. Should have paid more attention to this track years ago.

I’ve been to a few of the Magnolia Bakery locations throughout NYC, but never took the time to write about it. I don’t know why, seeing as how its sugary paradise. For real.

Magnolia Bakery reached O.D. popularity status when Sex and the City showed it on an episode where the quartet of cosmopolitan carnal curmudgeons went there for cupcakes. Well, you know what? I don’t like cupcakes. So I’ve never tried one. Eff your cult following.

What I have had is their banana pudding. The blueberry crisp. The apple crisp. The mini pumpkin cheesecake with gingersnap crust. All of which are pictured above, except the apple crisp. Oh, yeah, there’s a red velvet cheesecake up there too. Yes, red velvet cheesecake. Their cheesecakes are rich, though not the best I’ve ever had (the G.O.A.T. cheesecake award goes to Alexandria Pastry Shop’s seasonal mango cheesecake, in Virginia), but I love the fruit crisps and the banana pudding.

First, the crisps. They don’t skimp on the crumb topping, which is essential for me. If you put a bowl of crumb topping in front of me, I’ll eat the whole thing. Without accompaniment. Don’t ask, it’s just one of my weird food quirks. I love it. And I love fruity desserts. This is nearly impossible to fuck up for me, but I do wish they had a few more flavors. It’s berry season, can I get a strawberry rhubarb crisp? Maybe a peach one in the summer? Mixed berry? Because, ironically, apple and blueberry are two of my least favorite fillings you can possibly put in front of me. I’d kill for a sour cherry rendition of this.

And then comes the banana pudding. I grew up in the South, (er, Mid-Atlantic, not the deep South), but had a mother who didn’t really do the banana thing, so I’m no banana pudding expert. But I know enough to know that this shit is like drugs. You can get it in 12 or 16 oz. containers. Get the 16 oz. and just take it home. I promise. I don’t know what the hell they’re putting in this stuff, I don’t even really know how to describe it, but it’s fucking amazing. There is no reason banana pudding should be this good. I mean who the hell spazzes out over banana pudding anyway? Off the break that should tell you something.

Anyways, all I’m saying is don’t get caught up by the Sex and the City hype. Fuck those cupcakes. Eat banana pudding.

Also important to note: Some locations don’t have seating, so you’ll be forced to take stuff to go. The locations that do have seating will be very busy and you will fight for a seat. Their coffee is also decent but save your money and go to Dunkin.

Magnolia Bakery, various locations in New York City

Love this concept – in fact it’s quite similar to my “iPod Five” series here at the site, except way more condensed, and in video form. Whereas I tell people to tell me the first five songs their shuffle function goes to, this guy was going up to random people on the street that had headphones on simply to ask them what song they were listening to at that moment. Some of these are kind of unexpected answers. I definitely sit at the subway staring at people wondering what song they’re listening to on a daily basis, though. Makes me wonder if anyone has stared at me and wondered the same thing. I thought this was an interesting little clip, albeit toward the end I got a little bored. Still, I commend this guy for having the balls to go up to strangers with a camera. Not the easiest thing ever. Love the guy at the very end who put down his banana to say he was listening to Lady Gaga. Oh man.

I wish I could go to this. But some of my California readers can, so this is for y’all. I’m looking at you, Peas.

Okayplayer is giving a few lucky people the opportunity to snag some passes, and even a photo pass to get that nice vantage point to get flicks of your favorite artists holding mics to their faces. The lineup is looking nice though, for real. Little Dragon, Lupe Fiasco, Talib Kweli, Bilal, Pharoahe Monch….heywaitaminute. Are any of those jazz or reggae? Hmmm. Whatever.

According to Okayplayer, this is how you win:

Okayplayer is teaming up with reggae specialists LargeUp to offer you the chance to win a free pair of tickets to the 25th Annual edition of the legendary JazzReggae Fest at UCLA, which takes place this coming Sunday May 29th and Monday May 30th (don’t worry, it’s Memorial Day–school’s out). The line-up on “Jam Day” includes OKP favs Lupe Fiasco, Little Dragon, Bilal, Talib Kweli, and Pharoahe Monch. “Reggae Day” (Monday) features LU favs Gyptian, Steel Pulse, Tanya Stephens, Los Rakas, J Boog and Wailing Souls (whew).

To enter your name in the drawing, just tweet the following phrase: I want 2 win tix to the 25th ann #JazzReggae festival @ UCLA this Sun & Mon thanks to @largeupdotcom and @okayplayer! (you have to follow us both to qualify). We will collect all entries and choose a winner by Friday 3pm PST (again: be sure to follow us so we can DM you details on how to collect your tickets).

IN ADDITION: one lucky winner will also receive a photo pass so you can be all up in the mix of action capturing this epic line-up of live performers…pics to share with your unborn kids when you explain how they were conceived when Bilal did an encore of “Is This Love?” at JazzReggae fest 2011. Repeat: winners will be chosen THIS FRIDAY so commence to tweeting!

One thing people ask me about a lot in my actual real life off the internet is tactics to marketing their music (or brand, or other product, etc.). In most cases people want to know how they can better utilize the internet to promote themselves. How to stand out. I figure maybe I’ll start addressing some of the questions people bring to me, or just things I happen to think about relating to the topic, here at the site. And, as always, if you want to submit something or ask a question, you can always hit up untitledtype[at]gmail. It’s not like I’m a marketing genius or anything, I’m really not (if I was I’d have like a million twitter followers, right?), but I do know a few little things.

Today, I said something on Twitter that I’d like to elaborate upon right quick.

Many artists these days are hiring Public Relations professionals, teaming up with DJ’s, or getting their friends to help blast out their newly released mp3′s to as many contacts as possible. Of course word of mouth is an important aspect of getting your numbers up, but who is doing the talking also matters. Let’s make a hypothetical situation, shall we?

Let’s say that among the various things that Kim Kardashian does, but doesn’t seem to do well (like sex tapes [open to debate], reality TV, and singing), she decides she wants to start a boutique PR firm and help upcoming rap artists by sending their materials to her bevy of important industry contacts and then hopefully gaining them media opportunities, etc. off the strength of their product. Let’s also say that Jay-Z found some time in his day to do the exact same thing with different clients.

Kim K. and Jay-Z both know a lot of people. The “right” people. This can’t be argued. But as far as Hip Hop is concerned, which person’s opinion would you trust more? As a member of the media, I’d be way more likely to open an e-mail about a new artist coming from Jay-Z than I would from Kim K, never mind that Kim K’s artist may actually have more talent. What has she cosigned in the past? Skechers? Well, they’re still ugly kicks. Midori? Yeah, still not drinking that, and neither is anyone else I know. Meanwhile, on the Jay-Z side of life, Carol’s Daughter seems to be doing well (and I’ve heard good things about it), Roc Nation is chillin’, and nobody ever questions what Jay-Z is or isn’t good at doing, unlike Kim K. See what I’m saying with this?

It goes beyond a person’s prior success stories and aptitude for business tactics as well. If they’re a person who deals with multiple clients, are the other people they’re representing also people you want to be associated with? Does the person cosigning your product have a reputation for being a shady, sketchy individual? Have they done people dirty in the past? Does their taste in music generally suck? Sure, people may change for the better over time, but trust if you know about some things in that person’s past, so do other people. Though that may have nothing to do with your music, you need to consider how that will reflect upon you if you hire them to be a brand ambassador of sorts to people you need to be working with. Choosing someone to help you handle e-mail blasts or field media opportunities should not be a matter of choosing the cheapest price or picking out your most accessible friend who knows the most people and is enough of a “yes man” to give you that semi-public and oh-so-important cosign.

In summary, to quote Nas: “you should watch the people with you, let them street rules hit you, if you hang around snitches you get judged for that, cuz you condone it, you know it ain’t no love for that, it’s slugs for that, oh you ain’t know your man was talkin? That’s why you stand with em, til you both land in a coffin?

[BONUS DOWNLOAD] Nas – Association (featuring, and prod. by Stic.Man of Dead Prez)

Some people reach for White Castle when they’re hungover, but may the deities help them. I reach for some carb heavy amazingness from one of my neighborhood’s many Dominican/Mexican/etc. restaurants. I usually stick to shit within walking distance of my crib, but this time my circumstances were a little different and I found myself on Bushwick’s western side craving some serious eating. I found an open parking spot on Bushwick Ave. and looked up and saw Los Arcos.

It advertises itself as Mexican, and it certainly has a Mexican-influenced menu (quesadillas, burritos, mole sauce, flautas, fajitas, etc. are abundant) but I chose the pollo guisado (stewed chicken) lunch special, which felt more like the food I get at the local Dominican spots than something they would serve up at a Mexican joint. But whatever, welcome to Bushwick.

The special, which will run you a mere five bucks, is rice, your choice of red or black beans, and your choice of rotisserie chicken, stewed chicken, pork chops, stewed beef, pork, or a “Liliana Plate” (avocado, cheese, lettuce, and pico de gallo….aka a salad), all served up together in one of those aluminum pans. It’s a healthy portion of food – it definitely fed me all day, but I’m also a moderately sized person who doesn’t eat too much. Either way, it was only five bucks. Seriously? That’s a dollar cheaper than my usual go to spot. Score!

The chicken was moist, the seasoning wasn’t bad, yet it still didn’t blow me away. Maybe because this is really a Mexican place and I probably should have ordered the mole burrito (flour tortilla with Mexican or white rice, pinto or black beans, melted jack cheese, and chicken in a homemade mole sauce, $7.50), or something from their “Mexican Plates” section of the menu. But whatever, I’m a cheap bastard. They also made me quite a good coffee – sugar and milk ratio was just right.

Los Arcos delivers locally, is open from 11am-11pm daily, and is right outside the L train at Montrose Ave. I wouldn’t go out of my way to go here, but if I lived within walking distance I’d return. Actually I’m lying, I want to try the mole burrito.

Los Arcos, 255A Bushwick Ave., Brooklyn, NY

Starz enlists Vaughn J alongside Sheek Louch for the remix to “Life or Death.” It works if you like this kind of thing. I know at least one of you does.


[DOWNLOAD] Starz feat. Sheek Louch, Vaughn J – Life or Death (remix)

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