Make Warpaint not War

November 2, 2010

I like girls that sing. They’re pretty cool. And a lot of the badder music I’ve heard lately has featured girls singing lead. Relax, this is by no means a qualifier, but merely an observation from a dude who grew up on Mobb Deep and Wu Tang and counts Toro Y Moi, Washed Out, Atlas Sound, Flying Lotus, etc., amongst my favorites of the year. But when I hear a great record fronted by a woman, I get extra jazzed, because it’s outside my normal wheelhouse. Plus there’s the underlying sexual intrigue. Nah mean?

So in addition to the previously mentioned Best Coast, Tennis and Glasser, I’m digging Warpaint. What’s not to love about a group led by three LA girls…called Warpaint. Count me in. Combine killer bass, ethereal/detached vocals and some jangly, darkish rock instrumentation and you get a formula that kills shit, on the “I’m too cool for you anyway” tip.

“Undertow”

“Warpaint”

“Elephant”

36 Chambers of Chambers St.

November 4, 2009

It was on Chambers St. of all places, the street that I call home, on which my Wu-Tang knowledge was tested. I had seen this day coming for a while now, I just hadn’t expected it to come in such a drunken verbal delivery. I own a Wu-Tang t-shirt, you see, and given the warm weather last Saturday, I decided to wear it to brunch. I am, it should also be noted, by virtue of my dear mom and dad, a skinny, pasty white dude. On the way home, as me and my group of friends stopped obediently at the crosswalk on Church & Chambers, I overheard someone say, “Watchuknowaboutwutang?” Naturally assuming I was being called out, I searched the crowd for my inquisitor. Standing in front of me was a guy who looked to be in pretty rough shape. He held a brown-bagged brew and as my buddy later noted, the film on his teeth made it look as though he had one big horizontal tooth. He had those funky ass finger nails too.

“What?” I said.

“Watchuknowaboutwutang? Namefivemembasfuhmerighnow.”

The funny thing is, I welcomed the challenge to my fandom. I wanted to prove that despite by goofy white-ness, I have every right to be a fan and wear a sweet t-shirt as the next dude.

So I said, “RZA, GZA, ODB, Masta Killah and U-God. Want me to keep going?” I surprised myself with Masta Killah and even second guessed that he was, in fact, a member. Not just some affiliate like Cappadonna or Killah Priest. But it didn’t matter. Dude was immediately taken aback, looking like he even sobered up for a second.

“Hahathasscoolman. Thasscool. You from the Isle?”

“Nah, not from Staten man, just a fan.”

He then proceeded to tell me that ODB has a new record of unreleased material coming out soon. Which appears to be true. Turns out A Son Unique, which was supposed to be released in 2005, is now set for release next week. I traded info about the new ODB doc that screens in Harlem next Tuesday.

As we neared my apartment, I could tell he wanted to keep talking. But I had to go.

“Okman. MaybeIseeyouaround.”

“Yea man,” I said. “Maybe.”

Then we gave each other dap and went on our separate ways. Wu-Tang forever.

The Wu is back on September 8th, led by Raekwon, on the forthcoming album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II. It’s about time this new generation is reminded of how hip hop was and should be. Below is a track from the album.

Sick video, sick song, going be a sick album.

“House of Flying Daggers”

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”