Archive for the Opinion Editorial Category

Alt-J, In Love Again

Posted in Life Perspectives from T.S. Niebeling, News, Opinion Editorial with tags , , , , , , , , on Sunday, August 26, 2012 by Terry Scott Niebeling

In life we encounter smells and visuals that automatically take us back to a time; a campfire, a family member, a favorite food.  It is refreshing as a flashback, and an important reminder of what truly matters.  Like lighting a smoke, or taking a pull.  I feel music is the same.  As in love infatuation is the feeling of love, and love is the feeling of infatuation.  I found that love again in a song.  This song inspired me to write about music a bit, especially when I feel that life has taken hold and there is nothing to do but take it in.  When other music seems unimpressive, when music seems as trivial to write about as ideas, as everyone has an opinion.  As we all have our own ideas.  I hope this song inspires the love within us all.

***

We sat bedside and she played what she told me would change my mind.  I hadn’t heard of Alt-J and I was astonished.  I still don’t know much about Alt-J and I have heard his CD 4 or 5 times over.  I was blown away.  I guess that is what smoking pot and discussing topics on someone’s bed in their parent’s house affords.  More intellect than we could forget, I took this song with me.  I must have asked her who she was playing ten times before I finally remembered.

The genre of occupation which lead me to this situation was in the food industry of Minneapolis.  I sat splayed in a bed with an intelligent girl listening to what I feel is innovative and incredibly catchy; I relate the album to having a hint of Simon and Garfunkel with Andrew Bird and overdubbing styles of Queen.

She said:  We seldom appreciate the techniques now, she discusses.  Do you know how hard it was to do this in the past?  They almost wore through tapes creating masterpieces which we listen to.

She said this all with so much excitement.

I acknowledged and pay penance, I knew this but wanted to effectively show her it struck a cord.  Her taste in music was as good as nothing a few weeks back and now I know its importance, it is stuck in my head.  It is not as important to find and possess a thing, as it is to share and hold it for others to see, take in, and understand.  Or maybe just to investigate and discard.

The simple beauty of music is there is always a special song for a special moment; this is my last month.  Weddings, first-dates, a dance.  This song will be engrained into my psyche until something new changes that, or forever.  Whichever it is, I would like to take a moment for music appreciation and say this song is stuck in my head and changing me for the better.  I hope a song does that for you.

I feel a music flashback is just as strong as a flashback brought by a smell, or a visual.  Indy rock, as in Alt-J, is incredibly good at capturing me in a sense of melancholic nostalgia.

Do yourself a favor and find someone who means something to you, turn this song on really loud, and embrace each other.

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Reaction Editorial: Did Jay Electronica Ghostwrite for Nasty Nas?

Posted in News, Opinion Editorial with tags , , , , , , on Monday, August 20, 2012 by Tim Althaus

Obviously, I’m a little late with this post because this whole whirlwind of speculations started last week. According to most of the articles that I’ve read, Jay Electronica was supposedly responsible for ghostwriting duties on Nas’s Untitled album; even more revealing, renowned Hip-Hop journalist Dream Hampton claims that Mr. Elec-Hanukkah could be responsible for more than meets the eye – at least 6 tracks. Of course, Mr. Elec-Yarmulke came out and publicly admitted (via Twitter) that the accusations were absolutely false, and Stic Man of Dead Prez followed suit. It’s hard to be clear if the rumor is true or not, but it definitely raises some valid questions in the Hip-Hop community.

The whole Hip-Hop universe seemed to be in a daze from dismay, but I’m still not sure how I feel about the news. Believe it or not, ghostwriting is a fairly common practice in Hip-Hop, and it really shouldn’t surprise anyone. Artists like Royce Da 5’9″ and Skillz have been writing for other rappers like P-Diddy and Dr. Dre for years. It had even been rumored that Gillie Da Kid wrote the vast majority of Lil’ Wayne’s hit album, Tha Carter

With that being said, let me pose this question: Why are people making a such a big deal of this particular issue?

The reasons – at least to me – are pretty clear.

Rappers that use ghostwriters aren’t usually considered by many as great lyricists. We all know that Dr. Dre, P-Diddy & Lil’ Wayne have sold millions of records worldwide, but the word “lyricist” doesn’t come to mind when thinking about their talents – performer is more applicable. If anything, ghost writers made their music more tolerable.

Nas is credited for writing one of Hip-Hop’s most magnificent manifestos – Illmatic. Even though the ghostwriting accusations don’t stem from Illmatic, it rubs me the wrong way to think that Nasty Nas had another emcee write his rhymes. Imagine if the scientific community found out that someone else wrote part of Aristotle’s work: all hell would break loose, and pandemonium would ensue. Nas is considered one of the foremost founders in the East Coast Hip-Hop scene, so this rumor holds a great deal of significance. Any way that you look at it, this whole issue is just a hard thought to stomach.

Nas is an artist that has withstood the test of time; even though a lot of people would consider some of his releases sub-par compared to Illmatic, he’s still considered one of the greatest lyricists of all-time – without question. If the ghostwriting rumors are true about Untitled, I can’t help but wonder if ghostwriting was prevalent in his previous releases. This whole controversy could end up becoming a slippery slope with no foreseeable end.

Even though Jay Elec’s good friend FWMJ verified that Jay wrote on Untitled, I still don’t know what to believe. This is what it all boils down to in my eyes: Back in 2006, Nas was bold enough to name his album Hip Hop is Dead; if he is guilty of using ghostwritten rhymes, then he might also be guilty of killing the very art form that personified his career.

Evacuation: Lollapalooza

Posted in Music News, News, Opinion Editorial with tags , , on Sunday, August 12, 2012 by Eric Gilardi

I have been attending Lollapalooza for the past 4 years now, and I have never been part of an evacuation. For that part, no one has ever been part of a mandatory evacuation at Lollapalooza since it’s inception in 1991. Evacuation is such a scary word and seemed like an extreme measure to take at the time. I am going to tell you why it was the right move and how it all went down from my perspective.

I had watched the weather that morning, and the trustworthy meteorologist said that we would be alright. A possible scatter thunderstorm during the day with the severe weather hitting the Chicago area later that night after Lollapalooza was already over for the day. When the text from a friend came in: “How is the rain?” I simply replied with: “What rain? lol”. At that point, I thought I better check the radar on weather.com as the city skyline was getting draped with a very dark, swirling line of clouds. The radar wouldn’t come up, as my phone was not cooperating at the time, but I did see that there was a severe thunderstorm warning in effect until 4:15 pm. Then the unthinkable happened – Alan Palamo of Neon Indian made an announcement at 3:10 pm that they were to be done playing in 10 minutes and that everyone had to leave Grant Park.

At that point, I do not think the crowd believed they had to leave; I know they didn’t want to leave. My group of friends didn’t want to leave the park either. The security ushered us out like a herd of cows, forcing us out in to the streets of Chicago.
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Reaction Editoral: The Source Ranks The 50 Greatest Lyricists of All-Time

Posted in News, Opinion Editorial with tags , , , , , , , , on Monday, August 6, 2012 by Tim Althaus

There is one thing that I have to ask before I descend any further into this post: is the opinion of The Source and its writers even relevant anymore? I personally feel like it has become one of the most watered down and bland Hip-Hop magazines on news stands; most of the articles, if not all, are full of information that is readily regurgitated without any effort whatsoever. Here’s the sad part: I remember when I was younger and The Source was my primary means of getting information on the Hip-Hop game. Sadly, times have drastically changed; magazines like Wax Poetics and Respect fuel my fire when I need some gasoline, and if I’m really hard up, I’ll go to XXL.

I was at Barnes & Noble the other day, and something on the cover on the July issue of The Source caught my eye: “Top 50 Lyricists”. I had to humor myself and take a look at what the brilliant reporters over at The Source had to say about this issue. With a tagline like “Now in an age when lyricism is taking a backseat to celebrity, The Source brings you the top 50 lyricists of all-time in an effort to put some focus back on the platform”, you would think that they actually had a great list – not quite.

I will admit that there were a lot of names that I didn’t even expect to see on the list – Pharoahe Monch, Black Thought, Guru & Big L to name a few. At the same time, there were emcees that I did not agree with at all, and the ones that I thought should have been included were very low on the list. In my opinion, some of the greatest emcees in the history of the game didn’t even get a nod at all.

Just a few of my main gripes with this fine piece of literature:

– How do you even include Rick Ross or Lil’ Wayne on this list? Aren’t they the epitome of lyricism taking a backseat to “celebrity”? I think so, and I can assure you that lyricist isn’t the first adjective I would use to describe The Teflon Don or Mr. Carter.

– Black Thought was ranked #34. What? You’re kidding right? Mr. Trotter deserves a top ten nod, especially amongst artists like Lil’ Wayne and Kanye West – who were all featured higher.

– Royce Da 5’9″ ranks in at #48 – just five spots below DMX. I don’t really think that I need to comment on this one too much further; most people reading this article probably agree that Nickel should much closer to top twenty.

– It’s great to have Lil’ Kim and Queen Latifah on the list representing the females, but in all honesty, Jean Grae and Rah Digga are both far better lyricists than the aforementioned women.

– I’m very happy that GZA & Method Man got a nod on this list, but GZA should have been higher without question; furthermore, where in the hell is Ghostface Killah? Tony Starks didn’t even make this list, and he should have easily cracked the top 15.

– Cats like Masta Ace & C.L. Smooth, and MF Doom didn’t get any recognition – not even an honorable mention.

– Although artists like Skyzoo and Elzhi are younger and haven’t garnered as much recognition as the rest on this list, they possess an enormous amount of skill, and if I had a say, they would have gotten some notoriety.

I really could go on-and-on about this list; they got a lot of things right, but outside of the top 10, they got even more wrong. At the end of the day, I can only voice my opinion and hope that people within the Hip-Hop community will open their eyes and realize that there is much more out there than what is seen on TV and heard on the radio.

You can view the entire list here.