Like Soybomb, I’ve been finding less and less time to post. It’s time I reevaluate my priorities and start from square one, seeing as how this is one of the ways I maintain my sanity. In keeping with the theme of square one, this Sunday’s hip hop post is dedicated to the label that essentially started it all.

Sugar Hill Records was founded in 1974 and quickly churned out many of the hits that put hip hop on the map. Sugar Hill’s artists, from The Sugarhill Gang to Melle Mel to Grandmaster Flash, had a distinctive style that combined the disco sounds of the ’70s with a break beat groove. The music was rudimentary in its earliest stages, but was unequivocally fun party music. To this day, if you put on the “Rapper’s Delight” record at a party, it will inevitably bring a smile to people’s faces and have them singing along…”I said a hip-hop/the hippie the hippie to the hip hip hop you don’t stop…”White Lines” and “The Message” are also without question two of the best rap songs ever recorded. And you can’t beat the ridiculous outfits cats used to wear.

Sugar Hill Gang – “Rapper’s Delight”

Grandmaster Flash – “White Lines”

Grandmaster Flash – “The Message”

Apologies for the lack of posts this past week. Instead of posting random rants about the latest sneakers, manga, etc., I’ve been working late and just finished up moving to my new place. Let me just say, outside of stapling copies for work, my least favorite thing could be moving. From beginning to end, there are no redeeming qualities to moving at all. None. Period.

Everything about moving is a hassle starting with finding the new place. In the NYC area, I can either shell out $4000 for a parasitic realtor to show me the “greatest/newest place on the market,” or I can place my trust in random craigslist ads and pray the stranger doesn’t stab me and harvest my organs. And once you find that perfect place, or most likely settle for a “it’s not that shitty for the price” place, you think things are going to get easier. Nope. Wrong.

Next comes the packing. I’ve moved every year for the past six years, and each year I say the same things “Why do I have so much stuff?” and “I’m definitely not buying anymore this year.” Obviously, I never follow through with my promises, and I end up with even more stuff. However, before you start packing you need boxes. I usually end up scouring the neighborhood stores or garbage bins like a hobo looking for boxes. With them in hand, you can finally begin moving your life into their new cardboard compartments.

Finally comes moving day, which I think is the worst part of it all. It feels like running a marathon with two left feet. You wake up at the crack of dawn to get the UHAUL truck, except when you get there you realize the rest of the city had the same idea. After waiting in line for 1hr, you have in your hands the keys to a tank.  A UHAUL might possibly be the most dangerous thing a normal person could drive (for driver and pedestrian). After a couple near misses and a 20min parking job, you’re ready to start loading up the truck. Depending on how well you packed, this part could go smoothly. A couple of hours later, sweat-drenched and back aching, you’re ready to drive to your new fixer-upper. That’s when, sitting in your truck, you realize you have to move all stuff in the truck back out and into your new place, and think “Why am I doing this? My old place wasn’t that bad.”

Anyways, that’s my rant for the week. I’ll tone it down for my next post.

Last week I received terrible news from my friends down in D.C., the Windows Media Center that we all enjoyed is no more. Apparently, the Media Center was unable to survive the short relocation to a new home across the street. I guess the greatest things in life are fragile. For those of you who might be thinking that I’m overreacting have probably never experienced the joy of Media Center.

Let me start by introducing Windows Media Center, in which Microsoft integrated their Media Player software with the XP operating system to provide users with a home entertainment hub. In non-dork terms, this means that your normal PC can become a movie-showing, mp3-playing, tv-watching, panty-dropping machine. All you have to do is connect your PC, running Media Center, to an HDTV and a decent sound system.

Our Media Center was setup over the LAN for our townhouse, and we were able to access everyone’s music (ranging from Weezer to Ratatat), movies (Finding Nemo to Koyaanisqatsi), and pictures (drunk college pictures to…drunk college pictures). Granted, there is a lot more functionality to Media Center, but we were pretty content listening to music while random pictures scrolled in the background. Most nights out ended with us coming back and blazing up the Media Center for a late night music session. I especially suggest this if you just spent the last 4hours at a bar listening to Guns ‘N Roses and Lynyrd Skynyrd

Anyways, as a tribute to our lost friend I dedicate this post to Media Center (2006-2008). However, plans are already in works to rebuild the server with a Linux Media Center edition. OpenSource FTW! I’ll update once things go live.

Summer is already moving too fast. I feel like July 4th is equivalent to the season’s halftime. I wish there was a way to slow down the passage of time and control the seasons…Hey, whaddyaknow! Seems Fleet Foxes had that same idea when they came up with the video for “White Winter Hymnal” from their recently released self-titled debut. You’ll have to check it out at Pitchfork since they have the exclusive, but it’s a sweet video. Employing claymation to great effect, the video depicts a group of friends, likely the band members, controlling the seasons with the turning of a wheel. The song is poignant and the album as a whole is even better. Listening to it might even help you relax and keep the summer from getting away from you.

Here’s a live version to hold you over until you catch the video:

The Wackness generated so much buzz at Sundance this year—even taking home the Audience Award for Dramatic Film—that I was unable to see it at the festival. I finally caught it yesterday during its New York City theater run at the Angelika Film Center on Houston St. I had been eagerly anticipating the film, largely due to its setting: the summer of 1994 in New York, an era in which the city was still viewed as a gritty and dangerous place, a perception then-new mayor Rudi Giuliani was eagerly trying to alter. I was also excited to see the film for its soundtrack, overflowing with mid-90s East Coast hip hop including tracks from Nas, Mobb Deep, Wu-Tang, Tribe and Biggie. In the summer of 1994 I was 12, and like most summers, I spent a week or so in the city visiting family. I listened to rap almost exclusively back then, and for me hip hop provided the perfect backdrop for a city I viewed as immense, exhilarating and intimidating.

It was with this mindset that I watched The Wackness, and left the theater having seen my favorite movie of the summer thus far. The film tells the story of two lost souls: Luke (Josh Peck), a student graduating from high school, and Dr. Squires (Ben Kingsley), a psychiatrist and the father of Luke’s love interest, that form a friendship as they battle their demons, deal with women and try to grow as men. (Luke also deals Squires weed). The story has heart and is laugh-out-loud funny, particularly with the slang-heavy dialog full of words like fly, dope and fresh. It also made me want to get a boombox and switch back to cassettes. The soundtrack was the icing on the cake, and paid a lot of respect to Biggie, whose debut Ready to Die was released in ’94.

In honor of The Wackness and Notorious, here are some classic vids from Ready to Die:

“Warning”

“Juicy”

“One More Chance”

This morning I celebrated the birth of our nation with a big ass helping of Frosted Mini Wheats (Maple & Brown Sugar edition). The site of those sugary nuggets tumbling into the bowl had me feeling giddy and I eagerly coated them with 2% milk. As I shoveled the last scrumptious morsels of rectangular goodness into my face I began thinking: what else epitomizes democracy and free will, the very cornerstones of our nation’s founding, better than cereal? Honestly, when one walks down the cereal aisle, the options are endless, and quite frankly, sometimes overwhelming. I firmly believe that if John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were to take a gander down the cereal aisle at the local Food Emporium, they would be overjoyed at the abundance of choices with which Americans are blessed. If forced to make a choice themselves, I believe they would go for Cheerios, the most fundamentally sound cereal on the market. Rich with nutrients and solidly composed of honey and oates, Cheerios are quintessentially American and would have JA and TJ ready to engage in semantic battles in no time.

I then began thinking of all the cereals that I’ve consumed in the quarter century I’ve spent on this earth. For nearly a decade of my childhood I was a loyal customer of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. It was one of the few cereals my mother and I could agree upon. From her perspective it was healthy enough, and from mine, Cinnamon Toast Crunch had just enough brown sugar to earn credibility amongst my peers. As I slowly gained autonomy from my mother’s dictatorial breakfast food decision making, I began to venture into more sugar coated cereals, namely Cocoa Puffs and Frosted Mini Wheats. There’s nothing better than eating a cereal that leaves the milk a completely different color than when you began eating. As I’ve grown older and wiser, I’ve begun to appreciate the merits of a healthy breakfast and have gravitated towards more fiber-rich cereals like Kellog’s Smart Start and even Raisin Bran, a cereal that I detested as a child. I believe that if my ten year-old self saw my 24 year-old self eating Raisin Bran, he would kick my ass. But now there’s a variation that includes crunchy bits of granola that livens up the taste. When I’m feeling adventurous these days, I’ve been opting for Cocoa Krispies, which much like this blog, explode with flavor.

As many cereals that I’ve eaten in my years, there are so many that I haven’t even tried. I’ve never spent much time with Cap’n Crunch, Count Chocula or Kix. Never explored Life, Apple Jacks or Chex. Never tasted Honey Bunches of Oates, Boo Berry or Smacks. There are so many in fact, that one could probably pick one cereal to eat each year for the duration of a lifetime and still not try all of them. That’s what I call choice. God Bless America.

Let me know what some of your favorites are and if you’re bored, check out a full list of cereals here at Wikipedia.

Chill Swedes

July 3, 2008

I’m feeling rather lazy, being that it is the holiday weekend. It’s also hot as balls in our apartment, which is never conducive to creative thinking. In a feeble attempt to cool down our living room, we’ve propped up a box fan in front of the a/c unit to spread the cold air. It’s not really working. MacGyver would be ashamed.

So, to ice down your eyes and ears on this sweltering July evening, I thought I’d share a few chill tunes from Swedish electropop acts Tough Alliance and Air France. The first video is for “First Class Riot,” my favorite song from the Tough Alliance’s most recent release A New Chance. The second is for “Beach Party” by Air France—this video makes me really want to go back on vacation. (Air France was just deemed “Best New Music” by Pitchfork by the way).

Feel the breeze.

“First Class Riot”:

“Beach Party”: