Sunday, June 26, 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Genius Rap

If you were born in the 1980s, your first exposure to Tom Tom Club's "Genius of Love" was most likely the sample in the infectious Mariah Carey hit, "Fantasy". Some time in college when I was taking more of an interest in the evolution and development of hip hop music, I learned that "Genius" had links to rap even when it was first put out by the Tom Tom Club in the early 80s. Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth were the rhythm section for Talking Heads. If you watch Stop Making Sense, you can even see Chris Frantz doing some proto-rapping while drumming on the song. He keeps mentioning James Brown. It's pretty funny.

I had never heard the two original rap songs based on "Genius of Love" until reading about them in Dan Charnas's new book The Big Payback. One is from Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde called "Genius Rap". It predates the second reinterpretation, "It's Nasty (Genius of Love)" from Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. I love how these early rap songs, first of all, are SO long, and the entirety of the tracks would get played on the radio. It's also interesting that producers hired studio musicians to rerecord exact replicas of these disco/funk songs rather than just looping a recording of the original track. I'm not sure why they chose to do that, since they still gave a percentage to the original artists (in the case of "Genius," it was something like 10 cents for every record sold).

As a side note, did you know the original creative force and producer behind "Rapper's Delight" was Sylvia Robinson? How many female producers are there today in any genre, let alone in hip hop? Pretty interesting backstory.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Cruisin Classics '03 - '10

I posted a month ago about why I like to listen to music loud. Looking back, this seems a terribly mundane topic to write about. It's also a shame because I could have boiled down the four paragraphs of my rationale into two words: Lame Drivers. I am listening to Crusin Classics '03 - '10, a collection of their songs over the bulk of a decade from Providence, RI and then New York. Singer/guitarist Jason Sigal is a DJ at WFMU and, in the years I've known him, has been a big disseminator of garagey, noisy power pop. (One of my first exposures to Guided by Voices was watching him perform in a GBV cover band wearing an oversized Celine Dion T.) According to

In our youth, Lame Drivers were courted by a larger record label who thought we sounded like Bruce Springsteen and The Clash. Young Lame Drivers were also compared to a “dirty mix of Replacements/Stooges-influenced pop”, “like a young Replacements or Guided By Voices“, “like the Buzzcocks getting a reacharound from the Descendents,” “rock hard in Jesus & Mary Chain fashion”. More recently, Lame Drivers one Lame Drivers song was compared to Pell Mell and their music was described as “filled with hooks, it’s got a punk influence, power-pop influence, indie rock, psychedelic, all my favorite rock elements“.

Lucky for us all, we can buy or download Cruisin Classics and listen to 27 awesome tracks and trace the evolution of one of my favorite bands. Do yourself a favor and take a listen. "Superbomb" packs chaos, tight riffs, and something about pork tenderloins (?) into only 1:04. "Last Call for Violence" is something like an anthem. "Lemme Get Those #s Down" is a standout from the early days and was a fan favorite of ours back in Providence. Their sound now as a three-piece is leaner. Check the December 2010 performance below.

By the way, Jason, If I wrote that "Little Child" channeled Thin Lizzy and "Train of Thought" was like a rough-and-tumble Kinks (Arthur era), would you add me to your site? Except I guess Thin Lizzy would never write something as cool as this: "And on the bright side/ we're really docile/ we're really flexible / And in our downtime / we lose our eyesight / playin around with primitive fire tools." Fuck yea.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Briefly, Like Six Words (2)


TV on the Radio, Nine Types of Light (2011)

*Post written and submitted by Claire Harlan Orsi in Lincoln, Nebraska.