Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I Can't Forget Today I Shot That Bad Bitch Down


Johnny Cash - "Cocaine Blues (live)"
At Folsom Prison, 1968

Damn ya'll, sorry I just haven't been around. For some reason I just haven't been too motivated to write much about music recently... it might be because there's not alot going on (and what there is has been getting covered plenty well as is). It might also be because myself and the rest of the gang here have been getting out most of our snarky complaints in person--we need to work on that. (Real life's also been getting in my way recently... bitch, bitch, bitch.)

Anyway, since I don't have anything too interesting to write on my own at the moment, I'll point your attention to a very interesting and well-written post by Brandon Soderberg at the newly-revamped hiphopmusic.com.

Rap & Country

As a rule, I really don't listen to much white folks music. Dunno why, the bulk of it just never spoke to me (even though it maybe should). That said, I've been a Johnny Cash fan since way back in the day. (Granted, when it comes to Cash my own "back in the day" is still pretty late in his career, but it is years before he died, so that should be something.) Anyway, while the Soderberg post is good because it goes beyond comparing rap and country in terms of the old "Johnny Cash talked about killing people!" argument, I'm still posting one of my all-time favorite songs, because I feel like it.

I know, I know, it's already a classic album and I'm not exactly presenting you with something obscure, but the Man In Black dropped the b-word way back in the 60's........

uh, bitches.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I'll Make You Hit A Note Like Minnie Ripperton

Missed us?



Under the pleading of Elijah, who requested the next BTBS post contain good music lest we lose the respect of our readerbase (the three out of the eight that aren't personal friends anyway), I racked my brain for quite some time as to what could be posted to follow up Whistle Week.



Mojoe, a duo repping San Antonio, Texas, seemed like a logical choice. Consisting of Easy Lee and Tre, they describe themselves as "The Roots meet Outkast over dinner with Marvin Gaye at D'Angelo's house," a line-up of hip-hop and R&B that, if true, I couldn't be mad at. Of course, their debut classic.soul.ghetto is not the promised musical medley. I'm sure if they were I would've have found out about them based off the strength of something more respectable than the cool colors of some online banner.



But they are damn good to listen to.


Mojoe-"Gumbo Groove"


The appropriately titled "Gumbo Groove" is the kind of effortless funk Mojoe was meant to do, four minutes of smooth guitars, 70's bass, porn bongos, sung hooks and fun raps. Though neither Lee nor Tre are the best rappers, singers or lyricists they put all of what they've got together to create something that most artists today lack- style. classic.soul.ghetto is front-to-back cool-as-hell jams. Good to vibe to, good to get down to.


Mojoe-"3rd Coast Anthem"

What's most surprising about Mojoe is how unSouthern the group sounds, particularly considering the success it has received recently. In fact, "3rd Coast Anthem" 's buzzing bassline, piano keys and slighly Parliamentish chorus sound more akin to the left. The shit's still crazy dope though.


Mojoe-"Funky Lac"

Whatever sound they're behind though, their drawls still keep the affair below the Mason-Dixon. And the content often reveals their down home roots. "Funky Lac" finds Mojoe trading lines about their whip of choice, "Gold Tooth Diva" and "Voodoo Coochie" (goddamn I love that title) talk about those southern ladies, and "True Jewels" reminisces about lost legends like Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield and DJ Screw.

So, yeah.
There you go. No sarcasm. No rapper bashing. Just good music y'all should peep.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Whistle: The Saga Begins


Whistle - "Rest In Peace"

Whistle - "Just Buggin'"

Whistle - "Barbera's Bedroom"
Whistle, 1986

Whistle Week concludes!

What better way to end a week that began with a Star Wars parody then back at the beginning? Today we cover the self-titled Whistle, otherwise known as where it all started. (No idea what "it" is, though.)

Since I was the first one of us to think of downloading a Whistle album, I was the one lucky enough to get the first, and by far most tolerable, of their records. First of all, it has the utterly bizarre "Just Buggin'" which I elaborated on before, and which is most assuredly the highlight of their catalogue.

But don't get it twisted, these fools were churning out softbatch R&B from day one, apparently. The 10-song album breaks down like this...

Tracks 1-3: rap, tracks 4-5: R&B (with love in the title of both), track 6: nonsense rap, track 7: weak instrumental, track 8: R&B, track 9: 12" version of previous R&B track, track 10: 8 minute reprise of same R&B track that ends with a skit where a chick punches one of the rappers in the mouth.

Yeah, that's a recipe for a classic right there.

Anyway, the album starts off with "Rest In Peace" which is the hardest Whistle ever gets. I guess it's their attempt at mid 80's shout-rap, because they yell over a shitty guitar riff about how:
"And if you don't like the party and you start to beef,
Then we'll make sure you REST IN PEACE!"
and...
"Attention! Let's face the facts,
And if you don't want to listen we'll break your back,
'Cause we're Whistle (goofy-ass whistle sound) and we're that bad!"
Well, they are from Brooklyn, so can their yelling threats of violence over a guitar be seen as an M.O.P precursor maybe? I suppose anything's possible.

But if you think the lyrics to that one are lackluster, good lord you should hear the lone rap cut of the second half, "Just For Fun" (which still has a sung chorus).
"We like to go to the beach and eat peanut butter!
Then we wash it down with some pina colada!
If the temperature rrrrises we won't get hotter!
If we do we'll jump in the water!"
Now, granted, this sounds like it could be some fun silly shit, but trust me, these motherfuckers yell it with serious, almost angry, conviction. It's really, really strange.

Oh, but that's just the rap my friends, as my colleagues have already made plain, these fools sing too. Thankfully, this first record only has one syrupy, painful ballad, which is the mercifully 4 minute long "Chance For Our Love". I won't subject ya'll to it, don't worry. The album's real centerpiece is, of course, "Just Buggin'", but I feel like if Whistle had had it their way it would've been "Barbera's Bedroom". The whole thing is basically "holy shit, I fucked this chick, but don't tell her that I told you!" and so it comes across real pathetic. It's kinda bouncy though, and rather fun to laugh at what a fucking loser the guy is being.

Did it need three versions? Hell no, but it is fun to hear a rapper who started the album threatening to make you "rest in peace" get punched in the face for spreading stories about a woman who he probably didn't even sleep with in the first place. Oh, and let's not forget that he (or one of them) spends the album's middle cut begging "pleeeeease love meeeee."

So, what did we learn from Whistle Week? What great lesson did this specific concentration of ours teach us and, by proxy, you the reader? Umm, there's always been shitty rap songs, and rappas ternt sangas have always been a bad look.

Oh, and Whistle sucks. I promise ya'll some good music next time.

Herein lies the legacy of Whistle's "Transformation"

"Best" Track-Hello Skeezer

Worst Track-Mirror of Love

Bleh. This whole Whistle Week thing was a fun idea when we were simply bandying it about and making fun of the shitty music we were casually skimming over. But now that I have to actually delve into this shithole that is their second album, I find myself regretting constantly for going along with all this. However, I have an obligation to fulfill, so dammit I'm gonna do it.

So here we are at Whistle's second album, which is entitled "Transformation". I'm assuming the album title is in reference to the group's movement towards R&B and away from hip-hop, which is strange for a couple reasons:
For one, the album is a split between this "new" R&B Whistle and the "old" Hip-Hop Whistle, though there is actually more time spent on the album doing Whistle's equivalent of Hip-Hop rather than the R&B crooning that makes up the first five songs.
Secondly, I'm pretty sure they were doing this stuff on the first album too, though I'll have to wait on Eli's review to be certain, so I don't know how much of a "transformation" was taking place, especially since none of the lyrics on the title track make any reference to any of this, but more on that stuff in a minute.

First, let me tell you now that none of this shit is any good at all. The album divides itself into two halves, which I would call "Bad and Worse" if the worst stuff wasn't actually at the beginning. All of the R&B joints suck rightous testicles, whether they are more uptempo like Falling in Love or Is this Love (notice a trend in these song titles) or ballads like Right Next to Me, Still My Girl, or the especially heinous Mirror of Love, they all exemplify the same thing. These guys aren't especialy good singers, and their songwriting is glossy schlock of the most pussified variety. The worst offender of this lot, and therefore of the album, is certainly the aforementioned Mirror of Love. All the ballads were excruciating, but this one makes it worse by bringing in an especially shitty female singer to "duet" with whoever is singing on this song that is actually from Whistle (that's another thing, as far as I can tell these guys, as indistinguishable as they are when rapping, just sound like one damn person when the singing is going on), and some truly atrocious synth lines are added to the mix, which only make the lyrics about how "the mirror of love is cracked" pour salt into the open wound that is this song. Good lord.

So, nothing else really to be said about the other R&B tracks other than that they are minutely more tolerable than Mirror of Love, we move on to the Hip-Hop half of the album, and...Surprise! It sucks balls too. It's all bunch of sub-Run DMC style brag rapping about how good either they or their DJ (who gets his own tribute song on One and Only) are, or just talk about trying to get with chicks that will later do them wrong on the R&B joints. It all blows, but more in a "god this is really fucking boring" kind of way rather than the "writhing in pain and tearing at my eardrums" kind of way the first half did. It also seems like the band ran out of material, since all of the songs run between 4-5 minutes until last two songs, which run at two-and-a-half and one-and-a-half minutes respectively, the final track And This is True (what is true you ask? That they are Whistle apparently, since that's all I was told in this song), just features one of the rappers (maybe Doobie, which was the only name I could pick out, they're all just as bad as each other) giving a terribly stilted rap about his idea of what rap is, over a track that is a mesh of horribly awkard soul singers, an especially loud snare drum, and some random electric guitar lines put in for no discernable reason.

Which brings me to the production, and I think you know by now what I'm gonna say about it. Let me just say this: with one exception, there is an loud, incredibly dated snare drum sound in every song, no matter what kind it may be (the one exception is Right Next to Me, which has enough vomit-inducing string sections to make up for it), the DJ-ing, in spite of what the boys might tell you, is not impressive. These are all mostly your typical old-school rap stuff, with some bongos thrown in on B-Boy, which I would say would be the best production on the album, though that's not saying much. I guess the best track would have to be the two-and-a-half minute Hello Skeezer, which is just the guys talking about these women (who are the skeezers here), but it gets best track because it's shorter than the others without being insufferably annoying like the final cut is.

Look, I've already written more on this album than I did on Outkast's infinitely better debut, and that's just a waste. It sucks, don't buy it, Whistle is a horrible group that will hopefully never see the light of day again. I'll give this bitch the 2 out of 10 she so richly deserves, it'd be a 1 but the second side isn't quite as heinous as the first.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Whistle Wheek Episode 1: The Empire Strikes Whack

Tell me, what's your biggest complaint about Andre3000?
Alright, what about Lauryn Hill?
Cee-Lo Green?
T-Pain?

Exactly, they were all phenomenal rappers who have all but abandoned the form for singing (although reports tell me T-Pain is planning a move back to rapping, so fans worry not).

Bring in Whistle.

From all accounts, the group had been rather conflicted about whether to sing or rap since their debut, but Eli could probably tell you more about that. As their career moved further and further along, their ties with rapping became greatly lessened. Always and Forever, their third studio album released in 1990 reads like a textbook on how to make an incredibly forgettable r&b album. When your lead single, and album title, is a direct cover of an already popular song -Heatwave's 1978 single "Always and Forever,"-one can quickly guess how enjoyable the rest of the album will be.


Whistle-"Always and Forever"

To be fair, "Always and Forever" is easily the best song of the front half of the album. Whistle lacks both the ability to write a catchy song and to sing well, so aping someone else's melody is a good look. The first half of the album, literally the first 5 tracks out of the 10, are all painfully slow love ballads, or "love" ballads I should say. Songs like "Whatever Happened 2 Us 2" and "Do You Still Care" show how inept Whistle can be at holding down a woman.


Whistle-"Bad Habit"

The sixth track on the album, "Bad Habit" kicks off the "New Jack Swing" half of the album. Just about as unremarkable as the first half, I at least found these upbeat numbers to be a little more listenable than as they don't really rely on Whistle's ability to be skilled singers. Much like the first half however, asking me to distinguish one song from the next, with a few notable exceptions becomes quite the daunting task. "Bad Habit" distinguishes itself from the rest of the tracks by containing the only rapped verse on the whole album, one of the tracks samples Flavor Flav and "Geesed" gets points for introducing me to a new slang term.


Whistle-"Geesed"

Ultimately though, the back half falls victim to the same ills of the fron half. Whistle is still a group of lousy singers, and their songs are mad soft. "Acting Like You Love Me" and "Geesed" still show how women always manage to get the better of Whistle, and honestly, that's not what I really want to hear from my R&B.
In a year of monster R&B hits like "Real Love," "Rhythm Nation," "It Never Rain (In Southern California)" and um..."Poison," such mediocre, unimportant drivel is highly inexcusable and unforgivable.

Considering the lack of reviews on this site, scoring this album would be arbitrary. but I'll put it like this: out of the 10 tracks on this album, I would make love to 1 of them, and that's only because I've misplaced my Best of Heatwave at the moment.

Friday, June 8, 2007

You Haven't Experienced Real Player-Hatin'!

Sorry 'bout that big build-up to Whistle Week and then nothing... personal shit (like laziness and the uniform awfulness of Whistle's records) has delayed the supposed reviews slightly. But they will happen, rest assured.

Anyway, here's a strange nostalgia trip for ya'll. A series of corny-ass Sprite ads, clearly from the late 90's due to everyone wearing goggles on their foreheads, featuring a pretty strange fucking lineup of rappers as Voltron. I kinda don't wanna tell you who's in this, because it'll be better as a surprise. Unless, like me, you actually remember these goofy things.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Beware... Whistle Week Begins!


It's theme-week time here at Better Than But Sex because... well, we decided.

So here's the deal. Your boy Elijah is currently between apartments, and so for the next week or so I've in fact been living with Petro and Nazty Fresh, in what may have now become the Better Than Butt Sex house. (Ummmm, no... homo?) Last night we were doing what we often do; which is talk incessantly about rap music while flipping through Music Choice channels in the background to see what random fucking songs that shit decides to bless us with. Fresh decided to check the Old School channel.

We were greeted by Whistle's "Just Buggin'". Now maybe we're just new jacks, but lord knows none of us had heard of motherfuckin' Whistle (certainly didn't seem notable enough to have a "best of" album, which is what the song was credited to) and the track itself was a frightening barrage to the senses, constructed by one of the strangest riffs ever put down. Here is said song, and the video (which we mercifully didn't discover until later, otherwise our brains would have melted).



Dayum. And here I thought UMC's "Blue Cheese" won the award for Strangest Video In Retrospect. Personally I found "Just Buggin'" oddly compelling in its utter strangeness, but Nazty Fresh simply couldn't take the damn thing after too long.

Anyway, Petro did some research, but almost all he could discover about Whistle was that, apparently, their later albums were on some smoothed out R&B shit, which we simply could not reconcile with the--ahem--sound of "Just Buggin'". So eventually the three of us decided to head on over to Albumbase our local record shop and each, er, cop one of Whistle's three (count 'em, three) records. I think I lucked out by laying claim to the first, and probably most overall hip-hop, album of the three. It also has an eight minute opus titled "Barbera Punch Em In the Mouth" that I just can't wait to get to.

Despite much trepidation, reviews are coming soon. And Whistle Week rolls on...

Monday, June 4, 2007

Aaaaaand... Revisited



Ok, so I know everyone's already posted this, but with all the goddamn coverage we gave to this song in our first fledgling weeks I figured I really had to throw this one up here.

That, and it's a genius fucking video. The fact that it starts with a wedding, not so surprising... but that it continues with that motif the whole way through is some kind of wonderful. I believe Petro, who was watching over my shoulder, was the one to remark "Pimp C probably would tell a story like that at a wedding reception." Of course, they coulda just been rushed and lazy; note that everyone has only one outfit. Amongst all the great cameos, a newly-beardless David Banner going crazy in Bun B's passenger seat is definitely a real fuckin' highlight.

Oh, and Andre represents for all the Black Scots out there--word to Samuel L. Jackson and Nazty Fresh!

Friday, June 1, 2007

King of New York Alternate Reality (AKA Elijah's worst nightmare)

Going through my entire itunes library on shuffle the other day, something I seldom do (I'm a sucker for playlists), I came across this song.


Prefuse 73 feat. Aesop Rock-"Sabbatical With Options"


An interesting song, if you don't mind Aesop Rock "delivery" or Prefuse 73's "hip-hop production," one line in particular caught my attention. At the 1:59 mark, Aesop spits "Tigers and bears who will hold down New York/ I will be back to reclaim if I'm bored."

This got me to thinking, what if Aes Rock really was the king of New York? What would that entail? How would it shape the rap game?



To start this admittedly bizarre argument, we'll need a referrence point. So, we'll compare Aesop's hypothetical success to once, or possibly current if that's your thing, New York king Jay-Z, who now carries all the mainstrream appeal of Mr. Lif or Slug from Atmosphere, who themselves now carry the success of Method Man and Redman respectively.
A parallel of albums would further justify the comparison; both released crtically acclaimed albums in '03 before taking a previously unprecedented hiatus from recording. Though Aesop Rock's Kingdom Come, None Shall Pass, has not come out yet, the first single, also the album's title track, will shed some light on what the new sound of New York would be.


Aesop Rock-"None Shall Pass"

Icy, dark and stripped-down, it is decreed that this is the new party sound under the rule of Rock. "None Shall Pass" would be the kind of jam one would be drooling over before it was even heard just by looking at the line-up: another Aesop Rock/Blockhead collaboration. To all you underground, backpacker nerds, think of it like when Hov and Just Blaze make some of that dull, horn-ladened, "get up and move" tediousness. Weak. Fast cars, women and booze don't make up a party anthem. I mean, a party song about partying? How trite. Where's the political conspiracy? The ironic pop culture referrencing? I'm pretty sure "Show Me What You Got" doesn't even use the word "laser" once. Yawn.


A king is only as good as he is versatile. So what should the King of New York do to show that he can roll with any style? How about get behind a beat used by up-and-coming New York group Wu Tang Clan and then do a track with the king of the West Coast, Del Tha Funkee Homosapian. Now that would be fire.


Aesop Rock & Del Tha Funkee Homosapian-"Preservation"

But of course, the King isn't all serious. I mean, anti-party party tracks and coast-to-coast chest thumping (Just listen to how proud they both sound on "Preservation." They're both so used to the crown that they don't have to sound interesting or even awake anymore!), takes a lot out on the greatest spitting for the East Coast. So, what do you do for fun?


Aesop Rock feat. MF Doom & Slug-"Put Your Quarters Up"

Tracks about video games. Forget about pimping, fellas, Aesop's got a whole new kind of game you can spit: high scores. And can we discuss that MC dream team? Number one, it's refreshing to hear cats like Doom on the mic. All this underground hubbub about MCs that can switch flows and styles and completely "destroy" tracks (Busta Rhymes I'm looking at you) is just so corny. I think it's great that Doom can rhyme with the same style and voice over anything you give him. That shit's skill. And Slug, where do I start? Number one, that whole northern Midwest region is blowing up these days. I mean, Eyedea's coming out hard. My man Brother Ali's doing it real big and my homey P.O.S. has definitely got next. And of course Atmosphere is doing their thing. I don't know who this "Lil Wayne" character is, but I bet he can't spit about his personal drama like Slug can. I bet he can't open up and reveal how he's feeling like Slug can. And I know he can't make an esoteric referrence to the 80's like Slug can.

Bonus Thought: If Aesop Rock is the Jay-Z of New York, that would most certainly make El-P his Kanye West. And just like Mr. West, El-P's a "progressive" enough artist to get down and work with artist's that aren't as popular as he is. As evidenced here:


El-P & Ghostface Killah-"Hide Ya Face"