Posted tagged ‘idiocracy’

My Twitterview with SCARFACE

June 30, 2010

"Come and take a ride with the Bradster."

Welcome back to PopularOpinions. Today we’re unveiling the first in a series of interview I’ve conducted on Twitter. These “Twitterviews” are the result of my conversing with someone of importance in rapid succession to the point of getting a fair amount of information in 140 characters or less. Our inaugural post comes from my interview with legendary Houston rapper Scarface. We were both on Twitter at 4:30 AM ET the morning of March 21st, 2010 and chatted it up on music, movies and his career.

What Geto Boys release are you most proud of?

Resurrection.

Do you still consider Odd Squad’s Fadanuf Fa Ery’body the best album Rap-a-Lot ever put out?

In my opinion, yes.

I agree. I also feel Poppa LQ’s Your Entertainment, My Reality is the most under appreciated.

I feel ya.

When was the last time you performed with a full Go-Go band?

Wow, over 10 yrs ago.

What was it like working with director Mike Judge (Office Space) in the movie Idiocracy?

He’s a funny dude.

My favorite rapper of all time.

We give Twitter a Five Out of Five

So until next time…let’s agree to agree!

Chaz’s Best of Rap-A-Lot Compilation – FREE DOWNLOAD & HISTORY LESSON!

June 7, 2010

A Symbol of Quality

As I’ve stated many times on this site, rap music is awesome. It’s a subject I’m passionate about and will gladly discuss for hours on end. Among my favorite topics of that of Houston’s Rap-A-Lot Records. Formed in 1986 by then-car dealer James “J Prince” Smith, it has honed Hip-Hop to some of its highest heights. Along with breaking the regional glass-ceiling that plagued southern rappers throughout the 80s, the label’s been home to some of the genre’s most respected and beloved artists such as Scarface, Devin the Dude and UGK’s Bun-B. It’s a label whose catalog is deep with a roster full of artists that each bear a distinct sound while maintaining the label’s standard of quality output.

In recognition of VH1’s Hip-Hop Honors acknowledging the label tonight, I’ve decided to share my Best of Rap-A-Lot Compilation I made back in 2007 at the height of my Rap-A-Lot fandom. I’ve always felt the Houston sound is perfect for this time of year, with the entire country being baked by a brutal sun the label provides the perfect soundtrack for anything from backyard barbecues to after-hours antics. I tried to not include more than one song from each album and I know there are some glaring omissions whose albums I didn’t have at the time as many of the label’s releases are either out-of-print or inaccessible depending on where you are, so I’ve decided to add the five most regrettable cuts at the end.

His awesomeness, J. Prince

I know there’s also some of you who never have/wanted to give any rap music south of the Mojo Nixon line a chance. This mix and entry is also for you to hopefully provide some context and level with you as to why these artists are praised and why their music is dope. Enlighten yourself, fool.

DOWNLOAD THE ENTIRE MIX HERE: http://www.4shared.com/file/USpWvM1G/Best_of_Rap-A-Lot.html

Tracklisting:

1) Seagram “2 For 1”
– Starting things off we have the late Seagram. A Bay Area favorite, Seagram is most known for being the first in rap to use the “Double Dutch Bus” ‘izzle’-speak, predating E-40/Snoop Dogg/Missy/Fran Drescher with 1992’s “Straight Mobbin.” I opted instead to open this collection with “2 For 1,” to help ease in those of you not familiar with country rap tunes by having Seagram utterly destroy a medley of classic breaks (re: samples) for five minutes. Welcome to Rap-A-Lot

2) Convicts “Peter Man”
– One of the most sought after records in the RAL catalog is the debut of (future-Geto Boy) Big Mike and (future-Blac Monk) 3-2 as The Convicts. Their self-titled release is a concept album from two, you guessed it, Convicts behind bars. An industry favorite, it’s constantly eluded to on several certified rap classics. One listen to “Peter Man,” and many moments of Dr. Dre’s The Chronic are going make a lot more sense.

3) Geto Boys “Mind Playing Tricks on Me”
– The label’s biggest hit and an canonical rap song, “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” is truly one of the genre’s biggest triumphs. It also lead to a popular viral Star Wars video and one of the best St. Ides ads of all time.

4) Poppa LQ “South Central Soldier”
– In the early 90s, the label expanded with Rap-A-Lot West and one of the best releases from the imprint was Your Entertainment, My Reality by Poppa LQ. Under-appreciated even in Rap-A-Lot circles, this reinvention of the one-time “Native Son” Laquan was one of rap’s most dramatic metamorphosis resulting in the perfect implication of the Rap-A-Lot aesthetic in the West Coast soundscape.

5) Geto Boys “Crooked Officer”
– When Willie D left the Geto Boys, he was replaced by aforementioned Convicts member Big Mike. The result was the trio’s darkest album Til Death Do Us Part. A midst a much more brooding production, one of the album’s highlights was the scathing “Crooked Officer,” one of the best corruption songs ever recorded.

They know how to play 'em.

6) OG Style “Catch ‘Em Slippin”
– Dearly departed duo OG Style consisted of ‘Original E’ Eric Woods and producer DJ Woods (UGK’s “One Day”). The first single off I Know How to Play ‘Em,, it features my favorite usage of that Meters sample ever. Love this song.

7) Geto Boys “Gangsta of Love”
– The ORIGINAL version that appeared on their 1989 Grip It on that Other Level album is among the most savagely “ig’nant” sex songs ever recorded. Steve Miller caught feelings and had the sample replaced (with “Sweet Home Alabama”) when it reappeared a year later on their 1990 Rick Rubin produced self-titled American debut.

8 ) DMG “Psycho”
– The FIRST Minnesotan rapper to break national*, St. Paul’s DMG put the Twin Cities on the map with 1992’s Rigormortiz. Short-but-sweet, “Psycho” at first listen sounds like the best Scarface song that Face didn’t make. Midwest represent.

9) Geto Boys “Do It Like a G.O.”
– Label president J.Prince does the intro on this jump off that expresses the frustration of being a Southern voice that gets largely ignored by the media at large. This features the infamous DJ Ready Red “at’cha/statue” line Mr. Lif referenced in the Revenge of the Robots documentary, as well as arguably the absolute angriest Willie D ever sounded.

Bushwick Bill AKA Dr. Wolfgang Von Bushwickin the Barbarian Mother Funky Stay High Dollar Billstir

10) Menace Clan “Kill Whitey”
– Perhaps the most famous obscure rap group, made highly Googled by unintentionally hilarious white-supreamicist websites for their leading examples that rap music as a whole is racist, Menace Clan’s 1992 album Da Hood features some of the glossiest production in the label’s catalog. Yes, it’s possibly the most explicitly racist rap song you’ll ever hear, but if you can listen to Wagner, you should be able to divorce the message from the music and appreciate Menace Clan too.

11) Odd Squad “I Can’t See It”
– Off Fadanuf Fa Ery’body, the album Scarface considers the label’s best, comes Devin the Dude’s first group the Odd Squad. Tied for my favorite rap album all time, it features “I Can’t See It,” the solo-cut from member Blind Rob Quest that remains rap’s best anthem for the vision impaired.

12) Scarface “I Like P***y”
– If “Gangsta of Love” was notable for its brash explicitness, “I Like P***y” off Face’s solo debut stands out for its Epictetus-level stoicism. Off a haunting bassline, Face flexes his storytelling ability to almost-realtime describe an average sexual encounter.

13) Big Mike “Havin Thangs”
– Produced by UGK’s Pimp C, Big Mike’s debut solo single is one of the most revered cuts in the RAL catalog. The sleeper hit off the Dangerous Minds soundtrack, it’s also the song a girl I dated in college believed should be McDonaldland character Grimace’s theme music when the fast food chain decides to finally toughen up their image.

14) The Terrorists “F**k the Media”
– One of the earliest recorded responses to how rap is viewed in the media, this song off the duo’s impossibly titled Terror Strikez: Always Bizness, Never Personal makes the argument that rap shouldn’t be subjected to such particular scrutiny and that the music should stand for itself, best articulated with the line “Ask why I rap about violence and not peace, ho get out my face before I burn you with some hot grease.”

"Come and take a ride with the Bradster."

15) Scarface f/ Ice Cube & Devin the Dude “Hand of the Dead Body”
– Off my other favorite rap album of all time The Diary, Scarface’s “Hand of the Dead Body” sees him joined by Ice Cube to offer the best response from an artist perspective to the critiques of rap’s violent nature. What makes “Hand of the Dead Body” special is that it’s a reactionary record that by-passes the media itself to speak directly to the listeners as to why these allegations are frivolous. It dissects the arguments from both sides and stands the centerpiece of one of the most honest albums ever released.

16) Devin the Dude “Do What You Wanna Do”
– Alleviating the pressure is Devin the Dude’s “Do What You Wanna Do,” a relaxing smooth cut that oozes cool. It’s as uplifting as laid back gets.

17) Geto Boys “Damn, It Feels Good to be a Gangsta”
– Yes, the song from Office Space, implemented into cinematic immortality by fellow Texan Mike Judge. Enough’s been written about this song, so instead I’d like to use this time to stress how awesome Face was in Judge’s follow-up Idiocracy, stealing the show in the greatest post-credits scene in movie history.

18) Devin the Dude f/ Snoop Dogg & Andre 3000 “What a Job”
– Closing things out is the recent cut from the Dude that celebrates the realities of the rap life instead of bemoaning it. The passion on display here really captures what later-RAL releases have been about – a love for the craft doing whatever possible to offer something fresh and unique to the Hip-Hop nation. At a time when it’s been easier than ever for music to become homogenized in oversaturation and a career in the field seems as unstable as ever, “What a Job” is a testament to the label’s passion and quarter-century of quality.

We give Rap-A-Lot Records a Five Out of Five

Oh, and here’s another live five –

(also noteworthy – Do or Die, Ganksta Nip and UTP)

For further reading check out Andrew Noz’s Top 25 Rap-a-Lot songs and his 2004 Rap-A-Lot Week coverage.

So until next time…Let’s Agree to Agree!

*MC Skat Kat DOESN’T COUNT!

When Did Commercials Get Super Weird?

May 12, 2010

Can it be it was all so simple then?

Has anyone else noticed that the average commercial is super friggin’ weird these days? As a product of the 80s, I grew up on the crime side, the New York Times side believing that the entire point of a promotional tool was to get the consumer to purchase a product. These days, as the mega-conglomerates would have you believe, not so much. They just want your attention and want you to think it doesn’t matter whether you buy it or not because they’re just that cool. Did it begin with the Quizno’s hideous Sponge-Monkies or Pepsi’s strategy to trap children in their bottles? Regardless, we’ve become a generation who wants whatever weirdness on top of weirdness you can throw at us in order to fork over the hard-earned cash we don’t have for your awful product that we don’t need. Quite frankly, this is why we are all dead on the inside the greatest country in the world. Here’s some example of how far into the abyss we’ve descended.

Pledge “Glass Box”

Beginning our journey is a reminder that modern commercials exist with the rational of the irrational and completely illogistical logistics. Without delving too far into NYUnicorn cultural studies post-modernist “othering” rhetoric, you’ll most often find cleaning products ads targeted toward women. Therefore, what better way to remind them of what they were put on this Earth to do than make the act of cleaning the most demeaning task possible? In a commercial that had to be directed by Sardu, a woman is “trapped” in a glass box and forced to clean it without so much as a protest or a plea. While this isn’t as bad as the one where a woman is screaming to be let out of the box at the end of it (not a joke), which has conveniently vanished from YouTube, the disembodied male voice gives the entire spot a bizarre misogynistic repressive sadomasochist vibe all from cleaning allergens. Did they really need to say the woman was “trapped?” At the risk of sounding oversensitive, when a woman is trapped in a glass house I have to throw stones and ask “Who is this supposed to appeal to?”

The Chicas Project “Sharing”

Whereas the last commercial brought up the possibility of the commercial not having a clear target audience, this one for Mun2’s The Chicas Project appears to be deliberately pursuing the wrong one. I first caught this in the summer of 2008 while channeling surfing and the image of siamese twins caught my attention. Two girls who enjoyed partying enough with each other to SURGICALLY SHARE THE SAME BODY?! This is the stuff that great 70s exploitation films are made of. AND THEY CHOKE EACH OTHER OUT IN FRONT OF THE PIZZA MAN? Sign me up, ring the alarm and sell me a t-shirt – I have a new favorite show. Even the name The Chicas Project gave the whole thing a jovial but morbid edge. Imagine my disappointment when the promo turned out to be just an attention-grabbing one-off for another reality show about two girls trying different crazy things! Im sure for what it is, this show on the youth-orientated Telemundo sister-station is fine, but it’s saddening such a bizarre premise seemingly raised on so much organic free-range awesome has gone to a 30 second waste.

Old Spice “P-P-P-P-P-POWER!”

Just when people thought time-tested deodorant Old Spice couldn’t go any further off the creative deep end than their I’m On A Horse Super Bowl ad comes this series, directed by the ambassadors of absurd Tim Heidecker and Eric Weirheim. Starring one of my Honest-to-Gosh favorite actor’s, Terry Crews AKA President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho, Tim and Eric at least want to convey to you that Old Spice’s body wash is a quality product. What’s crazy is, unlike their Absolut ads, this isn’t a viral campaign. This is a nationally prime time syndicated commercial seen by every single demographic. While I love these ads, as does my Father who coincidentally was born a generation before me, I have to wonder if these are really going to catch on with everybody the way a Wasssssup or Can You Hear Me Now did and if so, where do we go from here?

I'm so gaffing the pilot episode for this series.

If anything, my greatest hope is that such outside the box factory thinking can expand beyond commercials into more standard programming. Sometimes cult followings crossover, and when that happens we’ve historically been all the better not only for better art, but the seeds planted for future generations that continue to defy convictions while managing to not suck. Abbbbbbdominals.

So until next time…Let’s Agree to Agree!