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Big Boi’s charming obsession with Kate Bush
12.13.2017
12:07 pm
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It’s no surprise to hear that a top hip-hop musician has eclectic musical tastes—in many cases it’s part and parcel of what enables such a person to ascend to such heights. And yet some instances of fanboy fandom stick out, such as the nearly obsessive adoration for the music of Kate Bush on the part of Antwan André “Big Boi” Patton of OutKast. He’s been talking about Kate Bush for years.

OutKast’s status as a legendary hip-hop act stems from the release of their third album Stankonia in 2000, which featured “B.O.B.” and “Ms. Jackson.” (The global hit “Hey Ya!” wouldn’t happen until 2003.) It was Stankonia that prompted SPIN to give the act a cover in March 2001. In that story, reported by Sacha Jenkins, Big Boi attested to his love of Kate Bush:
 

Everybody samples, but there’s a lot of not so creative sampling out there. When we sample, we sample for sounds, not for the structure of the whole damn song. It’s about being creative. With us, we listen to everything: Gil Scott-Heron, Minnie Riperton, James Brown, Parliament-Funkadelic, Led Zeppelin, the Doors, Kate Bush—I go deep into her music.

 
While it was the young Antwan Patton’s grandmother who instilled in the young lad a love of music, it was an uncle who tipped him to Kate Bush. As he told the Los Angeles Times in 2010, “[She] became my favorite artist of all time. Her and Bob Marley would tie for first. I used to listen to ‘The Kick Inside’ and ‘Wuthering Heights’ and ‘This Woman’s Work’ and just admiring the style of music she was making, from the production side of it to the lyrics,” he said. “It was kind of mind-blowing. I was like OK, I wanted to be like her. My thing was if [the music] was jamming, if it felt good [I liked it].”
 

 
In a 2004 profile of the band in the pages of The Guardian in the U.K., Big Boi was in the middle of a similar spiel when his cellphone sprang to life, revealing Boi’s chosen ringtone to be a well-known Kate Bush single from 1980: “‘I consider me and Dre to be funkateers, man. Growing up, we listened to everything and I think that gives us the ability to make a free-flowing type of music. It doesn’t matter whether it’s country, reggae or rock and roll. Kate Bush is my favourite artist of all time.’ As if on cue, his mobile starts to ring, trilling out a rendition of ‘Babooshka.’”
 
It’s become something of a quest of Big Boi’s to collaborate musically with Bush, as he told British GQ in 2010, but he’s been somewhat stymied by the fact that it’s very difficult to make contact with her: “I’ve been trying for some years now. She’s like a kinda recluse. She lives somewhere in a castle around here and plays some sort of oversized piano like the Phantom of the Opera! You can hear music come out the windows! I’m looking for her, know what I’m saying? That’s my dream collaboration for sure.”

Big Boi also appeared in Running Up That Hill the BBC documentary on Bush that came out in 2015. Earlier this year Big Boi experienced a breakthrough of sorts when he managed to meet with his hero for dinner. On May 11 Boi was in London and taped an appearance on Mistajam’s program on BBC Radio 1. During the program he indicated that he had gotten in touch with Bush and learned that she was still in a bit of a hiatus: “I think her son’s going off to school so she’s taking a little break.” Boi expressed optimism about working with her someday even if it is not his very next project. He used the radio’s airwaves to reach out to Bush, saying, “Kate, if you’re out there baby, I’m in town this Saturday. Let’s go see King Arthur or something together, ya feel me?” You can hear the full plea below:
 


 
Lo and behold, the next day Big Boi’s Twitter feed featured a signed photo of a Before the Dawn, the 2016 “presented by the KT Fellowship”—the album is credited as a Kate Bush release in Discogs—with the text “Just Had Dinner with Kate Bush! mind-blowing”:
 
Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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12.13.2017
12:07 pm
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Cat scratch fever: Yes, there is a DJ turntable so that cats can ‘scratch’
05.03.2017
11:02 am
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All that scratchin’ is making me itch!

Anyone can become DJ nowadays. All you need is two turntables, a mixer, and a stack of club music singles (or a USB stick). Today it was announced that actor Vin Diesel was working on his career in EDM, so clearly anyone can do it. Even a puddycat.

Thanks to the internet’s love of anthropomorphic puns and a general lacking of musicianship elsewhere in the animal kingdom, now your feline friend can become the next Grandmaster Flash with this cat scratching DJ deck from the fine folks at Suck UK. Modeled after the Technics 1200, the weapon-of-choice among many vinyl DJs, the cardboard kit features a spinning, “scratchable” deck and moveable tone arm. In no time whatsoever, your kitty will be scratching, scrubbing, tearing, and scribbling like your own fuzzy lil’ DJ Jazzy Jeff.
 

 

 
The set is on sale right now for $24 on Amazon. If your cat is more of a bedroom house producer, they also carry a laptop scratch pad with a customizable desktop background.
 

 

Posted by Bennett Kogon
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05.03.2017
11:02 am
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‘How you like me now?’: Charlie Brown & the Peanuts gang quote Wu-Tang Clan, Snoop & more


Peanuts characters ‘Peppermint Patty’ and ‘Charlie Brown’ riffing on lyrics from ‘Protect Ya Neck’ by the Wu-Tang Clan. Painting by artist Mark Drew.
 
I’m a huge fan of artist Mark Drew—especially his “Tape Stack” paintings which can be found on greeting cards. I grab a few whenever I’m lucky enough to come across them.

In 2013 Drew created gallery-sized paintings based on one of his many zines. The zine in question featured images of the gang from Charles Schulz’s Peanuts comic mashed up with lyrics derived from 80s and 90s hip-hop. So instead of good old Charlie Brown uttering his famous phrase “good grief,” we get finally get to see Chuck slaying his nemesis Lucy with a line from “Let Me Ride” by Dr. Dre: “Fuck around n’ get caught up in a one-eight-seven.” Which seems about right given the fact that Lucy probably deserves to get a cap in her ass for all those times she denied poor Charlie the pleasure of kicking that goddamned football.

When Drew debuted the paintings at the China Heights gallery in Sydney, Australia he called the show “Deez Nuts” in tribute to the moniker adopted by failed 2016 presidential candidate high school student Brady C. Olson. Images of Charlie Brown and his homies Snoopy, Linus, Peppermint Patty quoting their favorite hip-hop lyrics follow.
 

Peanut’s character and notable meanie Lucy reciting a lyric from Public Enemy’s 1988 jam, “Louder than a Bomb” in a painting by artist Mark Drew.
 

Quote derived from the 1992 song by Dr. Dre, “Let Me Ride.”
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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02.06.2017
08:49 am
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Deconstructing Positive K’s 1992 hip hop anthem ‘I Got a Man’
02.01.2017
10:57 am
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Bronx’s Darryl Gibson (better known as rapper Positive K) made the scene in 1989 with “I’m Not Havin’ It,” a duet with hip-hop’s pioneer feminist MC Lyte. The unique song detailed a man’s attempts to seduce a woman as she fended off his advances with hilarious comebacks. Three years later, Positive K would recreate this magic formula on his debut hit single “I Got a Man.” Due to a change in record labels, MC Lyte was not able to reprise her role on the song, which left Positive K to record the female parts himself by pitch-shifting his voice in the recording studio. This clever studio trick was extremely effective, catchy-as-hell, and the song peaked at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1993 making him one of hip hop’s first one-hit-wonders.
 
Thanks to simple, modern-day editing software, YouTube user Ryan McNeill has created the “De-Chipmunked Remix” of the song. As he puts it, “When the female parts are slowed to 80%, you hear that Positive K is, in fact, macking on himself the entire time.”
 

 
“I wanted to do something in rap that had never been seen before,” Positive K told the Village Voice in 2014, who carefully re-examined the song over 20 years later as a possible “example of street harassment.” After his debut album The Skills Dat Pay Da Bills failed to produce anymore hit singles, Positive re-recorded his song “Carhoppers” for the music video version as yet another duet with himself. While the Emotions sample driven remix was a pleasing and incredibly catchy tale of rejection, it failed to generate any of the attention of its prototypes.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Doug Jones
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02.01.2017
10:57 am
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Black Noize: Remembering Proper Grounds’ anguish rap metal (or ‘Madonna discovers rap metal’)
01.11.2017
03:51 pm
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Remember the record industry? It was nuts, man. REO Speedwagon had their own plane. Black Sabbath had a $70,000 cocaine allowance. Jimmy Page had his own fucking castle. Michael Jackson, that guy...well, never mind. The point is, if you sold enough records, you could basically do whatever you wanted.

In 1992, when she was sandwiched between her 80’s pop-hit peak and her 00’s disco-feminist golden age, Madonna was generating so much income that Warner Brothers financed her own media empire. Maverick Entertainment was formed initially to release her Erotica album and the infamous Sex coffee table book (i.e. the one with Madonna’s vagina and Vanilla Ice’s penis), but they also operated as a subsidiary of Warners, signing bands and making movies. There were, naturally, high hopes for a Madonna-led entertainment company. She was known for pushing the envelope and edging mainstream culture away from the center and into weirder, kinkier territories. So who knew what she would unearth with Maverick? Could be anything. Crazy, mind-blowing shit, right? We already had full-frontal Maddy getting her freak on in Sex, what could possibly come next?

Spoiler alert: In 1995, they released Jagged Little Pill, one of the biggest selling records of all time. Which is great for Madonna and for Alanis Morrissette, but it wasn’t exactly a cutting-edge release. And most of the Maverick-y stuff that came before it was even more underwhelming. Remember Canadian Bacon, John Candy’s last film, the only non-documentary that Michael Moore ever made? That was Madonna’s thing. So were soft-grunge cretins Candlebox. Maverick would eventually be the home of cuddly mainstream enterprises like Britney Spears, Michelle Branch, and the Twilight twinkling vampire movies. The Brink’s truck continued making regular deliveries to Madonna’s house, but any dreams of the company living up to the name were pretty much dashed when they signed the Backstreet Boys.

But there were actually a couple of early glimmers (rays?) of light suggesting that, hey, maybe Madonna knew what was up all along. For one thing, she signed DC hardcore heroes Bad Brains and released their reggae-heavy ‘95 album God of Love. Unfortunately Brains’ mainman HR was on a real tear that year and assaulted a bunch of people, including the group’s own manager, hastening the band’s (brief, but career-tanking) demise. And she also discovered LA rap-metal pioneers Proper Grounds.

Many would cite Rage Against the Machine as the first significant band to tread this thorny path. Rage are not a metal band and they don’t have a rapper, but okay, sure. Ice-T would point you to his incendiary thrash metal outfit Body Count. But that was a just a rapper playing metal.There were one-offs like the Public Enemy/Anthrax mash-up “Bring the Noize”; the lesser-known Sir Mix-a-lot/Metal Church head-spinner “Iron Man” in ‘88, and if we stretch even farther back, the mysterious hooded rapper The Lone Rager, who spat out a brief history of the genre back in ‘84’s ridiculous “Metal Rap” (“And Metallica? Spectaculah!”). 24-7 Spyz offered up funk-metal that edged into hip-hop territory, and Schoolly D, in his bid to wipe out rock n’ roll once and for all, merged metal riffs with hilariously angry lyrics on his 1988 album Smoke Some Kill (“Fuck Cinderella, fuck Bon Jovi, and motherfuck Prince, man.”). All that shit existed, sure. But none of them merged the gritty realities of life on the street with the intensity and velocity of heavy metal in the same way that Proper Grounds did.
 

 
Proper Grounds were, essentially, a panicky Grandmaster Flash with grungy guitars. Or maybe Stone Temple Pilots with scratching. Formed by frontman The Sandman and bass player/producer Danny Saber, they had a deep-rooted social consciousness that neatly subverted the mindless violence and material worship that engulfed rap in the 90’s and their take on metal, was elastic and acrobatic, avoided the genre’s chest-thumping excess. They called their particular brand of noise “anguish rap metal” and that pretty much says it all. Songs like “I’m Drowning,” “Backwards Mass,” and “Money in the Depths of a Plagueless Man” were so dark they were practically gothic. Their sole album, 1993’s Downtown Circus Gang, was a stark snapshot of life on the streets of LA in the wake of the ‘92 riots, bitter and hard and raw and real. Perfect for the 90’s, really.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Ken McIntyre
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01.11.2017
03:51 pm
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Before ‘Atlanta’ there was Donald Glover’s ‘Clapping for the Wrong Reasons’
01.09.2017
06:00 pm
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Last night Donald Glover and Atlanta won well-deserved Golden Globes for “Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy” and “Best Actor in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy” for the show’s creator, writer and star. Despite these awards—and a slew of others Atlanta and Glover have won or been nominated for—I’d wager that much of America has still to catch up with the FX network’s breakout new hit. If you fall into that category, you need to change that status, stat, jack.

Several friends of mine were raving about Atlanta after it premiered in September, but I was too preoccupied with hate-watching a reality show called “Election 2016” to take much notice at first. By the time I finally sat down to watch Atlanta, five episodes had already piled up and I greedily watched all five one right after the other. Had there been more I’d have watched the entire series then and there. I loved Atlanta. My wife loved it as much as I did. There is so much great television on today that to designate just one show as the very “best” is a difficult task, but even still, Atlanta is what comes immediately to mind when I ponder what that one best current TV show would be. With Rotten Tomatoes giving Atlanta a 100% approval rating and Metacritic bestowing upon it a 90 out of 100 score, clearly many other people feel the same.

It was a few episodes in—the one where Earn wants to sell his sword to raise some quick money—when I put my finger on exactly what I believe makes Atlanta feel so fresh and special—and just that much of a cut above anything else—in a sea of admittedly ultra great competitors. Dig the shot where they walk into the pawn shop. Watch the choreography of how the camera moves, watch what the actors do, notice the color palate going on. “Clearly the director [Hiro Murai] has watched every single Godard film” I remarked to my wife, but that’s what it was: Atlanta is shot like a European arthouse film that is bogged down by exactly zero of the standard tropes of American sitcoms. It’s one of the most cinematic things ever produced for TV that is, essentially still a situation comedy. Compare and contrast it with, say, Seinfeld. There are a lot of things you could find that the two shows had in common, but stylistically speaking, there are just about none.
 

 
With the sharpest writing around, a cast of some of the most charismatic young actors working today and the insanely brilliant comedic timing of Ivy League-trained thespian Brian Tyree Henry as “Paper Boi” there’s already a level of excellence afoot here, but again, it’s the attention to detail that gives the impression that we’re looking at a finely cut diamond. Another key element of Atlanta‘s success is the incorporation of casually oddball events that call attention to themselves just for a moment before the characters move on. Who doesn’t have quirky encounters on a daily basis? Atlanta is great at capturing how mundanely surreal life can be—not something that’s easy to accomplish—and does so better than anything else currently on television

Which brings me to Clapping for the Wrong Reasons, a short film that Glover wrote and starred in (playing himself to a certain extent) and Murai directed. Clapping for the Wrong Reasons was produced to promote Glover’s second Childish Gambino album Because the Internet in 2013. Filled with the same sort of attention to small details as Atlanta, Clapping for the Wrong Reasons—which takes place high in the Hollywood Hills under much different socio-economic circumstances—plays slower but has some wonderful (and wonderfully strange) moments. I don’t want to imply that it was a dry run for Atlanta—because I do not think that was the case—but if you’re hankering for something more produced by the same creative team, it’s the next best thing.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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01.09.2017
06:00 pm
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‘Kool Thing’: Kim Gordon’s 1989 interview with LL Cool J that inspired the Sonic Youth song
01.04.2017
09:14 am
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In the September 1989 issue of SPIN magazine, Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon interviewed LL Cool J to get a feminist perspective on the male-dominated world of hip-hop. The result was an awkward and unintentionally hilarious conversation that served as the inspiration for the 1990 song “Kool Thing” (which was Sonic Youth’s first major label single). At the time, LL was promoting his third studio album, Walking with a Panther, the cover which depicted the rapper posing alongside a cuddly and adorable black panther sporting gold chains.

“I had a thing for male Black Panthers, I also loved LL Cool J’s first record, Radio, which was produced by Rick Rubin.” Kim recounts in her memoir Girl in a Band. She had said publicly that Radio was one of the albums that turned her on to rap music, and that “Going Back to Cali” was one of her favorite music videos because as someone who grew up in L.A. she appreciated “the humorous way it made fun of the 1960s archetypal Southern California sexy white-girl aesthetic.” LL’s publicist couldn’t believe that anyone in Sonic Youth knew about LL Cool J and happily granted an interview which took place during a rehearsal break for an upcoming tour. “I’ve never interviewed a pop star before, and having just seen LL on The Arsenio Hall Show I’m nervous.” Kim prefaced in the SPIN magazine interview titled “Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy.”

“When I — the Lower East Side scum-rocker, feeling really, really uncool — arrive at the rehearsal studio, the dancers are taking a break. They’re real friendly; we talk about my shoes for a second. They are three girls — one of whom, Rosie Perez, is in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing — and a young boy. A bunch of other people are just hanging out. LL is preoccupied talking to some stylists, gesturing about clothes. Occasionally he shoots a look my way; I have no idea if he’s expecting me or he’s just looking at my out-of-place bleached blonde hair. LL slowly approaches, checking me out but stopping to talk to friends. I jump up, walk over, grab his hand, introduce myself and say, ‘Can I shake your hand?’ He’s aloof. I marvel how boys who’re tough or cool to cover up their sensitivity keep attracting girls and fooling themselves.” Kim and LL sat down at a nearby empty studio and she began the interview by asking him to sign her Radio CD. She then gave him a copy of Ciccone Youth’s The Whitey Album (a pseudonymous side project of Sonic Youth and Minutemen/Firehose member Mike Watt). When she told LL Cool J that The Whitey Album sampled beats off his records he laughed out loud and said, “I got a CD in a couple of my cars, I’ll play it.”

They began discussing sports cars and LL’s newly purchased home he called “Wonderland,” as LL flipped through The Whitey Album CD packaging. He pulled out and unfolded an insert which featured a photograph of a young girl with dozens of black & white flyers for hardcore shows plastered all over her bedroom wall. “Who’s this girl? It must have been a long time ago for it to say The Negroes.” LL mistook a flyer he noticed for Necros (a punk band from the Detroit music scene.) “That’s the Necros, an early hardcore band. Are you familiar with the early hardcore scene?” “Uh-uh, what is that, like heavy metal?” “No, not at all! It was basically kids talking to other kids. The Beastie Boys were part of that. I remember when they were a hardcore band.” LL processes the information and then quips, “The Young and the Useless?” (referring to an early 1980s punk band that included future Beastie Boys member Ad-Rock, and so, cool points for LL Cool J). “That was another band. The Beastie Boys had their same name when they were a hardcore band. Hardcore was so fast that if your ears weren’t attuned to it you couldn’t understand it. It wasn’t meant for anyone outside the scene. Like rap music, some of it is so fast, unless you’re familiar with the slang you can’t get it. That’s why so many people who were into hardcore listen to rap. It’s something that excludes white mainstream culture.” Gordon explained. “That’s interesting, I never really knew anything about that.” Cool J said.
 

Photo from Ciccone Youth’s The Whitey Album CD insert fold-out
 
While Kim Gordon’s connecting the dots between hip hop and the early hardcore music scene made for a great start to the interview, things then took a dive when she asked him about the females fans who admire him. “What about women who are so into you as a sex object that they take a picture of you to bed with them and their boyfriends or husbands start freaking out?” “It’s not my problem,” LL responded. “The guy has to have control over his woman.” Gordon plays along without confronting LL Cool J about his misogynist comments. “Are there any female sex symbols that you relate to?” Kim asks, “Oh yeah, every day on the way to work.”

“It was totally ridiculous for me to assume that we had anything in common” Gordon later admitted in a 1991 telephone interview with the Phoenix New Times. “That’s why I tried to make the article show how elite and small the downtown scene that I come out of is. I was trying to make fun of myself. I don’t know if that came across.” Six months after the interview was published, Sonic Youth recorded the song “Kool Thing” at Sorcerer Sound Recording Studios in New York City. Although LL Cool J’s name is never mentioned, the song’s lyrics contain several references to the rapper’s music. Kim Gordon sings “Kool Thing let me play it with your radio” (a reference to LL Cool J’s single “I Can’t Live Without My Radio”). The lyrics “Kool thing walkin’ like a panther” are a reference to the LL Cool J album Walking With a Panther. She repeats the line “I don’t think so” over and over again which is also a repeating line in the LL Cool J hit “Going Back to Cali.”

Elissa Schappell, author of the short-story collection Blueprints for Building Better Girls, perfectly summarizes the clash between Gordon and Cool J in an essay she wrote for the anthology book Here She Comes Now: Women in Music Who Have Changed Our Lives:

“Kim was able to take the disastrous interview and elegantly turn it into something much larger than its parts. Working at SPY I was used to putting myself into the path of trouble, and when it found me I took notes. Kim had taken notes and then transformed the experience into a sharp and witty social critique of gender, race and power that you could dance to. ‘Kool Thing’ is more than Kim’s assault on LL Cool J’s ego, but a self-mocking jibe at her own liberal politics. The sarcasm in her voice when she addresses ‘Kool Thing’ (Public Enemy’s Chuck D) in the breakdown is self-mocking — the female voice inflated by privilege and naïveté. (‘I just wanna know, what are you gonna do for me? I mean, are you going to liberate us girls from the white male corporate oppression?’)

More after the jump…

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Posted by Doug Jones
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01.04.2017
09:14 am
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Game of Microphones: Hip-hop/‘Game of Thrones’ mash-ups

000gammicro2pac.jpg
Tupac.
 
London-based artist Madina produces Hip-Hop designs for posters, pins, T-shirts and sweaters. He was the designer behind the best-selling GoldenEra Hip-Hop stamp collection—previously featured on DM.

Now Madina has launched a range of clothes and prints titled Game of Microphones featuring a mashup between the Kings and Queens of Hip-Hop and George R. R. Martin’s The Game of Thrones.

Check out the full set here.
 
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Biggie Smalls.
 
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Ice Cube.
 
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Full set on a T-shirt.
 
More ‘Game of Microphones,’ after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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12.27.2016
11:23 am
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Comedy gold: The Beastie Boys’ hilarious ‘Hello Nasty’ late-night infomercial
11.22.2016
04:38 pm
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Ad-Rock as John, the over enthusiastic audience member at a juice extractor demonstration.
 
I was up late one San Fernando valley evening in 1998, channel surfing through cable television when I happened upon a very bizarre infomercial advertising a product called “Sure Shine.” It caught my attention and I immediately stopped flipping: the commercial boasted that this multi-use product could wash your hair, polish your car, clean your kitchen counter, AND be used in the bedroom, as a spermicide. The number to call on the screen was 1-888-711-BSTE. This had to be some kind of hoax! It wasn’t exactly a hoax, rather, an ingenious marketing tactic used to promote the Beastie Boys highly anticipated Hello Nasty album on the hip hop groups’ own record label Grand Royal.

Calling the 1-888 number that flashed on the screen throughout the half-hour parody led viewers to where they could pre-order Hello Nasty and have it delivered to their doorstep on July 14, the ad also included the URL for Grand Royal’s newly launched website. The low-budget infomercial was directed by none other than Tamra Davis, wife of Beastie Boy Mike D, whose impressive credits include music videos for N.W.A., Sonic Youth, as well as major Hollywood studio films like CB4 and Billy Madison. It ran for several weeks on cable stations in Northern New Jersey, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Manhattan, N.Y., Cleveland, Portland, Philadelphia, Houston, and Washington, D.C.
 

A disclaimer scrolled over the fake products that read “If you order NOW, you will not receive any car care products, but you can order the record, CD, or cassette of the new Beastie Boys album ‘Hello Nasty’”
 
This incredibly amusing advertising concept starred the Beastie Boys themselves: Mike D (a.k.a. Mike Diamond), MCA (a.k.a. Adam Yauch) Ad-Rock (a.k.a. Adam Horovitz), who, in the name of sketch comedy, slapped on fake wigs, phony moustaches, ponytails, and took on various roles to sell fake get-rich-quick scams, psychic hotlines, and even a food processor that played beats from Hello Nasty. The Beasties comedy chops hold up strong, with a parody style well ahead of its time pre-dating Adult Swim, Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, and so many others who a decade later would become popular parodying public-access television with bizarre faux-infomercials in a very similar fashion.

Director Tamra Davis spoke with me about how using a Home Shopping Network style approach to sell Hello Nasty came about: “Ian Rodgers (Grand Royal’s president of new media) was working with the Beasties on how to direct sell and market using the internet. This was all super new and I definitely remember us all thinking about how crazy it would be if you were at home watching TV in the middle of the night and this came on. We thought it would be hilarious.” This wasn’t Ian Rodgers’ first innovative approach to marketing in new media. After he wowed the Beastie Boys by giving a demonstration of the internet in 1994 (they hadn’t heard of it yet!) he created an (unreleased) CD-ROM entitled Don’t Mosh in the Ramen Shop, and in 1998 became one of the very first people to use MP3 technology to upload live recordings to the net while on the road with the group during the Hello Nasty tour.

The late-night infomercial was incredibly effective, with phone lines lighting up and pre-orders filing in whenever and wherever it aired. A Grand Royal telephone operator explained that a few viewers called in just to ask if the ad was real or not. “Some people have been like ‘Are you just going to go out and charge up my credit card?’ And I’ve just been telling them, ‘No, this is legit.’” Greg Pond, a cable programming coordinator at TCI San Francisco said, “This isn’t the first time that our cable systems local-access channels have been used to promote a well-known group of musicians. We aired half-hour spots for Tricky and Pulp, but those were just videos and information about the artists. They were nothing like the infomercial the Beastie Boys produced.”

Beastie Boys fans will be thrilled to see Ad-Rock as John, the over enthusiastic audience member in a juice extractor demonstration. Mike D as exercise guru Jack Freeweather in the “8 Minute Workout” that promises amazing results. “Whatever you’ve been doing in the past, you’ve been doing it wrong. Let Jack make it right.” Mike D returns later as thick-accented “Miklious Toukas” of CEO GR International. In my favorite segment, MCA plays a get-rich-quick character named Bill Swenson, a.k.a. “The Money Man.” A perfectly straight-faced MCA wearing thick, dark-rimmed glasses and a pink sweater around his neck expresses: “Money makes you feel good, money is so underestimated in our society, money is the thing that everyone needs to feel great and be who they are.” Tamra explains there was never a script for the infomercial, “We had all the ideas of the characters and what would happen but it was all improvised as far as what they said or what the guests would say. Some things they did were such inside jokes that if only five of us got it, it was worth it.”
 

MCA as Bill Swenson, a.k.a. “The Money Man.”
 

Mike D as thick-accented “Mikilous Toukas” of CEO GR International.
 
Extras casting helped fill out the traditional studio audience when they taped the ad in New York City, as well as friends, family, fellow Grand Royal labelmates, and even some real people like the Beasties stylist Tara Chaney and Tamra and Mike D’s doorman Joe. E.Z. Mike (a.k.a. Michael Simpson) from the Dust Brothers can be seen in the crowd applauding next to none other than record producer and studio engineer legend Mario Caldato Jr. Any Beastie Boys fan knows him as Mario C. by his frequent shout-outs in lyrics such as “That’s a record ‘cause of Mario” on the song “Root Down” and “Mario C likes to keep it clean!” on “Intergalactic.” Matthew Horovitz (Ad-Rock’s brother) plays Kenny Star of “Hollywood Psychics,” and Ad-Rock’s best friend from elementary school, working actress Nadia Dajani, plays Peg of “The Juice Ladies.” Actor Russell Steinberg (son-in-law of Diane von Fürstenberg) and DJ Frankie Inglese appear as Mike Lathers and Graham Noodledish of “Fantastic Finds,” showing off a miracle cleaning product that can only be applied using a compact disc.
 
Keep reading after the jump…

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Posted by Doug Jones
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11.22.2016
04:38 pm
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Some thoughts on seeing Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s big concert for Hillary Clinton last night
11.05.2016
06:50 am
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I was at the Wolstein Center on the campus of Cleveland State University last night to see the much-heralded free “get out the vote” concert for Hillary Clinton featuring Jay-Z and special guest (everyone knew who it was ahead of time) Beyoncé. I had a marvelous time, it was really excellent to see America’s favorite pop stars (pretty much) alongside the soon-to-be-first female president (deep breath) on the same stage. I hadn’t actually gotten the memo that Hillary would be there as well, so it was a wonderful surprise to see her. Wisely, Hillary kept her appearance brief and let the audience enjoy its gift of excellent, free music.

A few thoughts:

1. Big arena rap shows are an awful lot of fun.. I don’t have a big point to make here, just that rap audiences put rock audiences to shame. It may have been an unusual situation because the doors opened around 5 p.m. and nobody actually performed until about 9 p.m. DJ Steph Floss was tasked with keeping the audience engaged for virtually all of that time, and he did so by playing countless rap songs by the likes of Drake and J-Kwon and Lil Wayne and so forth. The engagement of the audience during this whole stretch was impressive. Whole sections were vibrating due to the motion of people dancing, and there were frequent impromptu singalongs when Floss would cut out the volume, and so on. These people were into it. Rock audiences seldom give opening bands, often consisting of several human beings playing actual instruments, the time of day, much less pre-recorded music. This audience treated the pre-recorded music the way a rock audience would treat the Strokes. In general, the role of the audience singing along to almost everything enhanced the show.

2. Donald Trump and his organization could never have organized an event that was anything like this. During his remarks in Pennsylvania the same night, Trump essayed a jab at the Wolstein event, saying that he draws huge crowds and doesn’t need “J-Lo and Jay-Z” to do it. And that’s true enough. Just ask Scott Baio. But Trump’s line sparked another thought, for which it helped to be present in the arena last night.

It is simply this: Trump and his organization have shown no ability to mount a show like this. Hillary Clinton can and did do it. The show featured several high-profile rappers in a boda-fide arena show with a great many specialized voting-specific graphics that were specific to the event. Having been at the Wolstein from about 6 p.m. to about 10:30 p.m., I can attest that the event was very well run.

One of the biggest worries about Trump isn’t so much his terrible racism/xenophobia or the effects his awful policies would have but just his sheer incompetence and inability to execute long-range plans. This insight about the arena show addresses that concern. In a way I’m really complimenting Hillary here, she has high standards that were utterly reflected in every aspect of this event. Trump has shown in this campaign that he cannot manage a large organization (preferring a small one), and his “ground game” and internal polling operations are widely believed to be laughable. Trump may make fun of the Dems’ coziness with creative superstars, but Trump wouldn’t be able to leverage such relationships even if he did have them.

Amusingly, I don’t think the word Trump was mentioned a single time from the stage. It was a kind of game, they’d say “her opponent” or whatever and move on to something else.

3. Beyoncé is the one person in America you want behind you if you are a Democrat. Simply put, Bey is amazing. It’s not exactly an original thought. Before she went on, Jay-Z had occupied the stage for many songs, and had demonstrated why he is considered a rapper of unusual flow, presence, and intelligence. He was very, very good. Chance the Rapper, Big Sean, and J. Cole all had extended turns while Jay-Z rested up, and they all were deserving of the roars of appreciation they received from the audience.

Beyoncé made all of them, including Jay-Z, look like amateurs.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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11.05.2016
06:50 am
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