Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Talib Kweli - 4 Hours, 3 Discs And 2 Years (a misshapedmixtape)

I realize that I skipped last week. Posting a tape that is. Turns out it's not a good idea to work on three mixes at the same time. Multi-tasking = fail.

Also, I'm getting a job job now. So that may hinder the sick amount of time that I spend on this shiznit. Bloggity blah blawg. But it is so fun. When it's not feeding my hoarding tendencies that is (I tell you, fingernail clippings and mp3s... I can never throw them away). Anyway, to those of you that are worried, I promise I will not quit the blog. And SOMETIMES I swallow the fingernails (when I chew). So that helps to keep those from accumulating too much.

What was saying? Oh yeah, I promise I won't forsake you forever. Though next year may mean more infrequent visits. Or less frequent. Double negs? Bi-monthly humpty dances. Trouble begs. That wasn't a double neg after all. Keep your hovercrafts out of the bubble baths.

I'm tired as shit right now coz I overstretched myself on this Talib action. This is what I did: First, I put together a gorgeous (if I do say so myself) tape with selections off of his two most recent studio albums, "Gutter Rainbows" (2011) and "Revolutions Per Minute" (2010). The latter was a collaboration with Hi-Tek (Reflection Eternal) and was the better album of the two. But "Gutter Rainbows" has some great songs on it. And then there's this little group thing called Black Star? You might have heard of them? 1, 2, 3... Mos Def and Talib Kweli-eee-ee. Yep. They're back together. Dropped two singles this year and an album will come out in 2012. Call me excited. It better be good.

So yes. Talib Kweli. The BK MC. I made that first mix. It was sub-80 minutes. Ready to post. Hoist the sails. But then I did more. Lots more. Four hours of Talib. Is that too much? Nah. Am I tired as shit? Did I already mention that I'm tired as shit?

I do it for the love, mane. Great songs here. And they're all from the last two years. Wait, I lied. The last ten tracks on this mix (#54-#63) are from 2009 (and actually the Royce track is from '08) but I decided to add them because they were simply too good. And I really liked the idea of hitting the 4hr/3cd mark so I could top my previous double-LP drop and completely overwhelm you with Lil B-multiple-MySpace-page-levels of sma'mazing music. Also, I liked the idea of referencing the Palme d'Or-winning cool Romanian abortion movie for the title of this tape. Romania can always use more love.

Believe it or not, I actually had to cut a ton of tracks that Talib featured on from the last two years (partly because I scrambled to track down every single one, which was a silly, silly thing... but I was 98% successful at in the end).  Regardless, my interweb virtua-crate-digging led to discoveries of some pretty sweet artists I'd never heard of before. That's one awesome thing about Mr. Kweli -- he has such a great collaborative/giving spirit about him (which, when it's done in an authentic way, is something I love about hip-hop in general). So yeah, I wanted the second and third CDs of this mix to represent that: the best and most interesting features from Kweli. So yeah, no Gucci Mane "Poltergeist" -- which was interesting... but more in a "how the fuck did that terrible idea come to be?" way.

About Talib. Hmmm... You already know, right? So yeah, he's always been one of my favorites. But I must confess that he kind of meandered off my grid sometime around, oh, 2002-ish. I don't know why exactly. "Quality" (2002) was a pretty decent album. But it seemed like his days of putting out classic material ("Black Star" & "Train Of Thought") might be over. So I moved on to other stuff. So it goes.

Be that as it may, Talib Kweli is firing on all cylinders now. These last two years have been ridiculous -- for both the quality of his material AND the quantity. I mean, he's always been a  prolific artist... but he's taken it to another level now.

So yes, this download is ginormous. 450 MB, what what? But definitely worth it. Especially the first tape/discus (first 21 tracks) which pulls from the studio material. Essential listening. And the new Black Star stuff. You have heard the new Black Star stuff already, right??!?? Gah.

The other two discs (disc two is twenty tracks and disc three is twenty tracks -- but with two bonus tracks that would NOT fit on a CD, so don't you try breaking the 80 minute barrier, danger danger! ok?) have lots of fantastic songs. And yes, I made an extra effort to put on the (relative) no-name artists who bring it. I'll be keeping my eye out in the future for Derek 32zero especially. Even though he spells Derek the wrong way. Rack of spices. I lack the vices. Inside joker. Ringside mocha.

Here's the tracklist, already (go to bed, self!) -- get your download link in "the comments" (or right click on the picture jpeg thingie, that's cool too):

CD 1:
101 - Black Star - Fix Up
102 - Black Star - You Already Knew
103 - Gutter Rainbows
104 - Cold Rain
105 - So Low
106 - Self Savior (ft Chace Infinite)
107 - Wait For You (ft Kendra Ross)
108 - Uh Oh (ft Jean Grae)
109 - Palookas (ft Sean Price)
110 - Tater Tot
111 - Strangers (Paranoid) (ft Bun B)
112 - In This World
113 - Got Work
114 - Just Begun (ft Jay Electronica, J Cole & Mos Def)
115 - Lifting Off
116 - Ballad Of The Black Gold
117 - In The Red
118 - City Playgrounds
119 - Back Again (ft Res)
120 - Ends (ft Bilal)
121 - My Life (Outro)

CD 2:
201 - Talib Kweli - 1st Time (ft Consequence)
202 - Statik Selektah - The Thrill Is Gone (ft Styles P & Talib Kweli)
203 - Joell Ortiz - So Wrong (ft Talib Kweli, Brother Ali & Jean Grae)
204 - Hezekiah - Fired Up! (ft Talib Kweli & Bahamadia)
205 - Break Science - The Alliance (ft Talib Kweli)
206 - Union - Time Leak (ft Talib Kweli)
207 - Mistah F.A.B. - In My City (ft Talib Kweli & Royce Da 5'9'')
208 - The Next - This American Life (ft Talib Kweli & Immortal Technique)
209 - Talib Kweli - Papers Please
210 - The Away Team - Set It Off (ft Talib Kweli & Rapsody)
211 - Fashawn - Life's A Bitch (ft Talib Kweli)
212 - Bun B - Don't Die (ft Talib Kweli, 88-Keys & Colin Munroe)
213 - Kanye West - Chain Heavy (ft Talib Kweli & Consequence)
214 - Chrisette Michele - Let Freedom Reign (ft Talib Kweli & Black Thought)
215 - Doc Ish - Is It A Dream (ft Joe Budden, Talib Kweli, Sean Price & Angelica)
216 - Animal Farm - Test Of Time (ft Talib Kweli)
217 - Kyle Rapps - Universe Traveler (ft Talib Kweli)
218 - Derek 32zero - Lift 'Em Up (ft Talib Kweli)
219 - Quincy Jones - Ironside (ft Talib Kweli)
220 - MED - Classic (ft Talib Kweli)

CD 3:
301 - 9th Wonder - Never Stop Loving You (ft Terrace Martin & Talib Kweli)
302 - Lostribe - No Other Word (ft Talib Kweli, N8 The Gr8 & Maryann Hunter)
303 - Statik Selektah - You're Gone (ft Talib Kweli, Colin Munroe & Lil Fame)
304 - Toki Wright - Trakhouse (ft Emazin, Talib Kweli & I Self Divine)
305 - Stat Quo - Allright (ft Talib Kweli)
306 - Cory Mo - Gettin To The Money (ft Talib Kweli, Killer Mike & Mitchelle l)
307 - Jean Grae - R.I.P (ft Styles P & Talib Kweli)
308 - The Foodchain - Fucc Niggaz (ft Talib Kweli)
309 - Blaqstarr - War Of The Roses (ft Talib Kweli)
310 - Clinton Sparks - G.O.O.D. Music (ft Common, Talib Kweli & Consequence)
311 - Talib Kweli - Someday (ft Torae, John Robinson & Tiffany Paige) 
          (Madwreck Remix)
312 - Bamboo Bros. - Let It Go (ft Talib Kweli & Kendra Ross)
313 - The New Congress - Anguish, Love & Romance (ft Talib Kweli)
314 - Melanie Fiona - Give It To Me Right (Remix) (ft Talib Kweli)
315 - Shaun Boothe - Concepts (ft Talib Kweli)
316 - Alchemist - Therapy (ft Evidence, Blu, Talib Kweli & Kid Cudi)
317 - Royce Da 5'9'' - Give Up Your Guns (ft Talib Kweli & Raekwon)
318 - Chester French & Clinton Sparks - I'm So Tall (ft Bun B, Talib Kweli & 
           Mickey Factz)
319 - Skyzoo - When I Rhyme (ft Talib Kweli & Reks)
320 - Talib Kweli - My Favorite Song
321 - MC Hush - Let It Breathe (ft Talib Kweli) [BONUS TRACK]
322 - KRS-One & Buckshot - Oh Really Remix (ft Talib Kweli & Geo) 
          [BONUS TRACK]

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Miranda Lambert – This Country Ain't So Bad After All (a misshapedmixtape)

So here’s the thing. I hate country music. I mean really, REALLY hate it. There have been a few times in my life when I’ve even been subjected to listening to country music RADIO… usually while trapped in someone else’s a moving vehicle… and that was some touch-and-go shit. I mean, most radio stations suck and are stuck in a quagmire of stale baseball card bubblegum slobber, but when you add a “twang” to some really, really bad lyrics it is like a deep-fried-racquetball-testes-sandwich with barbeque sauce.

Okay. I do like SOME country music… you know, Johnny Cash (of course), Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Iris DeMent, Gillian Welch, Bob Dylan, Wilco, Nappy Roots, Andre 3000… wait… were we talking about country music? Shit. I guess I don’t really know what THAT is, so I’ll stop.

Anyway, a couple of years ago I decided to give Miranda Lambert a shot. She kept popping up on Metacritic with super duper lauded albums, so I figured I should give it a shot. And hey, my wife likes country music (when she gets real upset she reverts to a Kentuckian country slang… it’s cute), so I thought that if nothing else it would give her something new to throw into her rotation. And here’s the thing: it turns out that Ms. Lambert (Miranda not Adam) is legit. She writes her own stuff, she’s got an incredible voice, her songs rock, the ones that don’t make you well up (e.g. “The House That Built Me”... unless you have a tin heart), she’s gorgeous, and she’s bad-assed to the maximus (case and point:  “Gunpowder & Lead” -- a song about a battered woman who goes “Hey Joe”-style on her lover)... and "White Liar" and "Kerosene" REALLY blow yr socks off as well.

Every single one of her releases (she has four full-length albums) is worth checking out (along with her mad decent “supergroup” album that she put out this fall as Pistol Annies with Ashley Monroe & Angaleena Presley) -- though a good starting point is “Revolution” (her third album) which is pretty much the cat’s pajamas. Wait though… actually this TAPE is the best starting point :)

Crap. I am SO bad at self-promotion.

So yes, this mixtape, entitled “This Country Ain't So Bad After All,” is a MUST download. Coz I’m the coolest. Even if you claim to hate country music (like me) this might change yr mind. It is more on the rock end of the spectrum (and I picked the rocking-est of her songs coz that's just me... AND her band can REALLY rock it out too). I also added in a Pistol Annies sonic and her cover of Loretta Lynn’s song “Coal Miner’s Daughter” which was on the “Tribute To Loretta Lynn” album. The song also features Loretta Lynn. And Sheryl Crow. So that’s neat.

I really dig Miranda’s songs that feature her wicked-whipsmart sense of laissez-faireish Liz Phairesque humor. “Only Prettier” is the best of those. Give it a few listens for sure.

I put this together around Thanksgiving time, which explains the double-entendre album title “This Country Ain’t So Bad After All” (insert Jay-Z saying, “I said country… get it?) and the fact that there are twenty-four tracks for the 24th of November. I'm not gimmicky, but my alter-ego sure is.

If you want to listen to music that would fit more into the “This Country Sucks, After All” category, I recommend checking out Immortal Technique’s free new mixtape, “The Martyr” (except I think that quite a few songs off of that tape kind of suck, but the track with Killer Mike, Brother Ali and Chuck D TOTALLY redeems the whole thing).

Thanksgiving actually made me feel happy to be living in the USA again. It’s not so bad. And the Lions aren’t either. Not that I care (that much).

Happy belated Tryptophan Day, everybody.

Voila: the tracklist for Miranda Lambert – “This Country Ain't So Bad After All (a misshapedmixtape)”... and if you want to download it, check for the link in the "comments":

01 : Gunpowder & Lead [Crazy Ex-Girlfriend]
02 : Only Prettier [Revolution]
03 : Fine Tune  [Four The Record]
04 : Me And Your Cigarettes [Revolution]
05 : All Kinds Of Kinds [Four The Record]
06 : Sin For A Sin [Revolution]
07 : Guilty In Here [Crazy Ex-Girlfriend]
08 : Takin' Pills (with Ashley Monroe & Angaleena Presley)
        from [Pistol Annies - Hell On Heels]
09 : Maintain The Pain [Revolution]
10 : Down [Crazy Ex-Girlfriend]
11 : Mama's Broken Heart [Four The Record]
12 : Kerosene [Kerosene]
13 : White Liar [Revolution]
14 : Dry Town [Crazy Ex-Girlfriend]
15 : Baggage Claim [Four The Record]
16 : The House That Built Me [Revolution]
17 : Greyhound Bound For Nowhere [Kerosene]
18 : Oklahoma Sky [Four The Record]
19 : Love Song [Revolution]
20 : Famous In A Small Town [Crazy Ex-Girlfriend]
21 : Mama, I'm Alright [Kerosene]
22 : Coal Miner's Daughter (with Loretta Lynn & Sheryl Crow)
        from [Coal Miner's Daughter: A Tribute To Loretta Lynn]
23 : Makin Plans [Revolution] [BONUS]
24 : Look At Miss Ohio [Four The Record] [BONUS]

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tom Caruana Presents The Wu vs. The Beatles - McCza, Ghostface Harrison, J.Lennon The Chef & Ol' Dirty Ringo (a misshapedmixtape)

Okay, I guess I decided I should make a quick mixtape for this week after all. It IS Thanksgiving week... so I thought people might want some good traveling music. I was debating between Wu-Tang and The Beatles. And then I was like, wait, Tom Caruana did that dope-ass mashup mixtape of BOTH OF THEM two years ago that a lot of people slept on. Perfect.

And actually, Caruana's crafted something that IS really close to perfect... especially considering that mashups (particularly mashup albums) are usually novelty items whose appeal wears thin after... oh, about the second listen. THIS is a definite exception... and deserves a place next to Danger Mouse's "The Grey Album" which also picked from the Beatles back-catalog and combined Liverpoolian-loops with Jay-Z's not-classic (by Jay-Z standards) "Black Album." But yeah, "The Grey Album" rocks... and I'm a BIG Danger Mouse fan (as you can see from last week's Broken Bells post).

However, I would go so far to say that Caruana's product is even BETTER than what Danger Mouse put out -- this could partially be because I have always been a hard-core Wu-Tang fan, but it's also because I think that Tom Caruana's sampling is less heavy-handed and he has created fresh SOUNDSCAPES for the Wu's cadre of MCs to demonstrate their special techniques of shadowboxing. In other words, he's making NEW beats, not just flipping a sample with an "I know that!" signpost attached to it. In fact, many of the tracks on Caruana's mixtape (which was called "Wu-Tang vs. The Beatles: Enter The Magical Mystery Chambers") pull from other artists' covers of Beatles songs and other (relatively) obscure material. So yeah, it's actually quite a challenge to "name that sample" as the album progresses. Please post your findings in the comments section! It'll be fun!

I will cheat a bit... in Arts Beat (a section of the New York Times online material), Caruana did reveal the source material contained in the especially epic sounding "Uzi (Pinky Ring)" (which has verses from 8 of the original 9 founding members of the Wu... ODB was incarcerated when "Iron Flag" -- the album this song was on -- came out):

“Uzi (Pinky Ring)” has got a lot of samples on it. There’s “Glass  Onion” (U-God), then it went to an Arif Mardin version of “Glass Onion” (Raekwon), then when Ghostface comes in it goes to “Getting Better,” then RZA comes in and it’s a Ramsey Lewis version of “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey.” Then Method Man comes in and that’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Then Inspectah Deck comes in and it’s a cover version of “Hey, Jude.” [Note: he doesn't name -- and I don't know -- the sample on Masta Killa's part]. And then GZA’s at the end, and that’s “Why Don’t We Do It In the Road.” - Arts Beat (January 26, 2010)

Anyway, if you love Wu-Tang this is a MUST listen. And if you love The Beatles (and who doesn't), see if you can pick it all apart and fall in love with the WTC at the same time.

I know that the rather recent Wugazi mashup (Wu-Tang vs. Fugazi) which was done by Doomtree affiliates is getting hyped now (and it is worth the free download), but Caruana's pretty much kicks the shit out of that (though the first track on Wugazi: "Sleep Rules Everything Around Me" IS killer). And Doomtree is great (especially Dessa and P.O.S.'s solo material... which is ridiculously dope and I will NOT do misshapedmixtapes for because their albums are solid the whole way through and are must-buys). Just saying.

Anyway, back to Tom Caruana. Evidently he's a music teacher in the UK and took two months off to put together this Wu-Tang vs. Beatles compilation. He has also put out a lot of other stuff on the Tea Sea Records website, I am especially intrigued by his new "Okayplayer: The Bollywood Remake" album... but unfortunately I haven't had time to give it a listen yet.

As far as "Wu-Tang vs. The Beatles: Enter The Magical Mystery Chambers" goes, there were only six tracks on the original 27-track album that I didn't really care for (not that they were terrible, just not up to the VERY high quality of the rest of the tracks)... so I omitted those and did some other minor re-sequencing and tweaking. So yeah, this is the version to the "Magical Mystery Chambers" album that I listen to. And it's been FAR MORE than twice. It's blisteringly rad. I also added "The Heart Gently Weeps" as a bonus track. It was on the Wu's "8 Diagrams" album and is Beatlematicmadness as well (with John Frusciante and Erykah Badu on the track too... what! -- RZA you are a crazy genius).

Here are the tracks on "Tom Caruana Presents Wu vs. Beatles - McCza, Ghostface Harrison, J.Lennon The Chef & Ol' Dirty Ringo (a misshapedmixtape)" [dl link in the "comments"]... I wrote in the featured artists on each track in the order that they appear for those of you who might not be obsessed with all that the Shaolin crew has done. That'll assist you in following that end of the equation at least. Help me with naming those samples tho :) Happy Triptophan Day to all! Enjoy:

01 : Wu vs. Beatles (Intro)
02 : C.R.E.A.M. (ft Raekwon, Inspectah Deck & Method Man)
03 : Got Your Money (ft Ol’ Dirty Bastard)
04 : Uh Huh (ft Method Man)
05 : Criminology (ft Ghostface & Raekwon)
06 : Daytona 500 (ft Raekwon, Ghostface & Cappadonna)
07 : Labels (ft GZA)
08 : Smith Bros (ft Raekwon)
09 : R.E.C. Room (ft Inspectah Deck)
10 : Wu vs. Beatles (Skit) (ft Ol’ Dirty Bastard)
11 : Mighty Healthy (ft Ghostface)
12 : Clientele Kidd (ft Raekwon, Fat Joe & Ghostface)
13 : Cutting It Up (ft Raekwon, Polite, Chip Banks, Ghostface & Trife)
14 : Release Yo Self (ft Method Man)
15 : City High (ft Inspectah Deck)
16 : Run (ft Ghostface & Comp)
17 : Uzi (Pinky Ring) (ft U-God, Raekwon, Ghostface, RZA, Method Man,
        Inspectah Deck, Masta Killa & GZA)
18 : Back In The Game (ft Inspectah Deck, Method Man, GZA, Raekwon,
        Ghostface & Ron Isley)
19 : Save Me Dear (ft Ghostface)
20 : Wu Tang Cream Team Line Up (ft The Harlem Hoodz, Raekwon,
         Inspectah Deck, Method Man & Killa Sin)
21 : Wu vs. Beatles (Outro)
22 : The Heart Gently Weeps [BONUS] (ft Raekwon, Ghostface, 
        Method Man, Erykah Badu, Dhani Harrison & John Frusciante)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Broken Bells - rEProduced (a misshapedmixtape)

I'm going to take next week off (possibly), so that is my reason for posting two tapes at once. Also, I haven't posted a rock tape since September (don't worry, I have a doozy career-spanning behemoth planned for the end of this month!). Also, I've had this mix laying about for awhile anyway, so I figured it would be easy enough to throw up here quickly. So here comes the word vomit.

Broken Bells have three amazing songs that I love. I mean love love. They have helped to carry me from Southeast Asia back to the U.S. They give me chills. They are the anti-thesis to the new terrible Coldplay album. They are that hyphen that didn't belong in that last sentence. Yes, they are that cool. But no, I'm not going to tell you which three songs they are.

This is an EP-ish lengthed doohickey (third in my rEProduced series). It's probably not technically speaking an EP... it was going to be just six tracks off of their self-titled debut (which came out in 2010), but I ended up adding three more ("bonus") songs off of the strange but wonderful EP they released this year.

Danger Mouse is a great producer. James Mercer (from The Shins) is swell. And The Shins are (/were?) a great band. In fact, I think that The Shins MIGHT be doing something next year. I'm not sure about that. I've been out of the loop on rock music.

Anyway, I have listened to the Broken Bells debut album in this form for quite some time (meaning the first six tracks of this tape). And it's magical. Good music. Download. Support the artist. Their debut album is altogether mad decent. Buy a bell and don't break it. Whatnot and wherefore. Icebird (the new RJD2 project) kind of reminds me of this. In a good way. Check that out too. Keep it rocking, world. Good night.

Here's the songs on "Broken Bells - rEProduced (a misshapedmixtape)" [with your link to 'em in the "comments"]:

01 : The High Road
02 : Vaporize
03 : The Ghost Inside
04 : Sailing To Nowhere
05 : Trap Doors
06 : October
07 : Windows [Bonus Track]
08 : Meyrin Fields [Bonus Track]
09 : Heartless Empire [Bonus Track]

Lil Boosie - Boosie's Blues (a misshapedmixtape)

This (above) is Lil Boosie's letter to Alex, a troubled fifteen year old who appeared on the television program "Beyond Scared Straight" in August this year and named Boosie as a role model. "Beyond Scared Straight" actually looks like an intriguing program (it premiered on A&E this year and builds upon the concept of the 1978 documentary "Scared Straight"). I've worked with a lot of youth that could be on this show. Anyway, you can hear the soundbyte from Alex's appearance on this mixtape (track one)... which is fitting because it sets the tone for the Baton Rouge MC's litany of laments and regrets that are featured on this week's tape, "Boosie's Blues."

Lil Boosie? On this blog? Seriously? Yes indeed. I realize that I'm coming completely out of leftfield on this one folks. I'm guessing most of you (white people at least) have never heard of him. Or if you have heard of him it's probably for all the wrong reasons. As you can see from his letter to Alex, Boosie is in prison. This puts him in familiar company. I can rattle off of decent sized list of rappers that have been incarcerated/arrested in recent years: T.I., Lil Wayne, Gucci Mane, Waka Flocka Flame, Young Jeezy & Mystikal (and that's just naming southern rappers). The difference is that Boosie is still there (I just found out that Mystikal had been released from prison... which is actually semi-old news).

Actually Mystikal is a fairly good comparison to Boosie as an artist. Or some people have compared Boosie with Ja Rule. I'm not a fan of Ja Rule (he did help launch J-Lo's singing career... bastard), but the comparison is valid. Boosie, like these two artists, raps with vocals that rumble. The SOUND of his voice is cinematic... it drips with emotion and earnestness. Basically, everything he says sounds awesome. How could it not? And, more importantly, he NEVER comes across as faking ANYTHING. He is a true storyteller. I don't know what else to say. No one is doubting this dude's credibility. 

Okay, but here's the thing: most of Lil Boosie's music is, in my opinion, not that good. He is one of those artists that puts out 90% mediocre (or club-oriented) songs. Maybe that's a bit harsh. I am lumping most of his hits into that category, so someone obviously thinks they're good. But it's just not my cup of tea... these songs often focus on acts of debauchery (partying), gaining material goods for oneself, having sex, making threats, and being an all-around bad ass. Oh, and it's often misogynistic too. 

Let's focus on the other 10% instead. And wow, are these twelve songs (featured on this week's mixtape) phenomenal. If you're familiar with Boosie's mainstream material, this will catch you completely off-guard. He pours out his soul on these tracks and looks deep inside. And it's really fucking great. Though if you get offended easily by gangster rap (how you feel about "The Chronic" is a good litmus test), then you might just want to steer clear of this one. But I encourage you not to. These songs are stories that you should sit through at least once. They're important to hear.

I'm not going to go into the charges that Boosie faces or the "Free Boosie" movement on this post. Whether he is guilty of the crimes he's been charged with or not (he maintains his innocence on the murder charges) is irrelevant in a way. Boosie's letter to Alex, and the songs on this tape, speak to the tragic trajectory of Boosie's life... a trajectory that too many youth from marginalized and low-income communities also follow.

So here it is. Don't expect any apology songs a la T.I. Also, don't expect him professing to becoming a changed man like Lil Wayne (who is a codeine-free/alcohol-free free man now). Boosie spits equal parts pain and vitriol. It's the blues.

By the way, today (November 14) is Lil Boosie's 29th birthday. So yeah... "Happy birthday, Mr. Torrence Hatch." And if this incarceration marks the end of your music career, you have left us with some gems. Thank you for opening your heart to the world through your poetry.

Here is the tracklist for Lil Boosie “Boosie's Blues (a misshapedmixtape)" below with the album that it came off of in parentheses (check for download link in “comments”):

01 : Intro - Scared Beyond Str8 [Clip]
02 : Devils (ft Foxx) [Incarcerated]
03 : No Mercy [SuperBad]
04 : Where Would I Be [unreleased]
05 : Goin' Thru Some Thangs [Bad Azz]
06 : If I Could Change (ft Lil Quick & Money Bag$) [The 25th Hour]
07 : Hatin' [Bad Azz]
08 : Bank Roll [SuperBad]
09 : Betrayed (ft Webbie) [Incarcerated]
10 : I Ain't Mad At Cha [The 25th Hour]
11 : Long Journey (ft Webbie) [Incarcerated]
12 : Pain [SuperBad]
13 : Mind Of A Maniac [SuperBad]
14 : Outro - Boosie's Letter To Alex (read by his cousin)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lowkey - The Model U.N. (a misshapedmixtape)

First of all, I'm fucking annoyed with the U.N. I may or may not have been at a film festival last weekend that was sponsored by the local chapter of the U.N. and that may or may not have something to do with it. But whatever. That's not for this blog. My filmmaking is work. This is meant to be fun.

My favorite show on television right now (because "Mad Men" is still on hiatus) is "Community." It's guaranteed hilariousness... and is often times transcendentally awesome (my favorite episode all time is the one where they play D&D for the whole show). This season, their third, has been fucking KILLER. And (to circle back to the U.N.) their "Model U.N." episode was right on the money. Brilliantly executed.

Somehow, this episode seems like a perfect pairing to Lowkey's latest album, "Soundtrack To The Struggle."

Well, wait... actually it's not. Actually "Soundtrack To The Struggle" is pretty much the best COMPLETE hip-hop album I've heard in a LONG time. I feel bad about even doing a Lowkey misshapedmixtape for this reason (but I think he's flying under the radar in the US, so that's my justification). In truth, "Soundtrack To The Struggle" is an album that needs to be heard in its entirety. It plays like a documentary (like a documentary SHOULD be... not a promotional video done by the U.N. about dying kids in Africa that makes poverty somehow sexy... damn it, I need to stop on that).

In short, just promise me that you're going to buy "Soundtrack To The Struggle" after you listen to this mixtape. It'll make me feel MUCH better. Coz this mixtape, though it does feature my top-favorite Lowkey songs, feels quite incomplete in comparison to his proper album. So many GREAT tracks and poignant interludes that hold the album together. Oh, and for further Lowkey awesomeness, check the youtube linklings that I have to his official music videos down below (they are the bluey/purple songs in the track list) because they are pretty neat also.

Quick note on Lowkey (in case you're still like, "What the fuck kind of mixtape is this?... Can you please get to the point?"): Lowkey is an English-Iraqi MC/activist. He raps about shit that is important. He's wicked smart. And he flips some pretty dope rhymes too. Anything else I could possibly say about him is CERTAINLY better said by Lowkey himself.

And as for "Community." I love it. If you want to see the episode that I culled samples from (to intersperse throughout this mixtape), you can check it out here on Hulu. Of course, you can only watch things on Hulu if you live in the USA. If you don't live in the US, well, then... sucks for you! (actually this link expires tomorrow, so maybe it sucks for everyone)

Maybe that last line irreverently sums up the point of this whole post/mixtape. It's the smugness that is captured poignantly within the model U.N. episode from "Community." It's the anger Lowkey expresses on "Soundtrack To The Struggle" when he's blasting Obama and America's heinous international relations. And it's me, grimacing to see my film packaged into a festival promoting the good work that the U.N. is doing world-wide. Ummm... remember the work I did in Kosovo six years ago? Fuck.

Here's the tracklist for Lowkey - "The Model U.N. (a misshapedmixtape)" [with yr download link in the "comments"... I also highly recommend checking out the jumpoffs to his music videos below]:

01 - "look it up!" (community s3e2)
02 - Obama Nation
03 - Hand On Your Gun
04 - Terrorist
05 - Something Wonderful
06 - Dreamers (ft Mai Khalil)
07 - "crisis alert!" (community s3e2)
08 - Cradle Of Civilisation (ft Mai Khalil)
09 - Long Live Palestine
10 - Dear England (ft Mai Khalil)
11 - Haunted (ft Mai Khalil)
12 - Terrorist Part 2 (ft Mai Khalil & Crazy Haze)
13 - Million Man March (ft Mai Khalil)
14 - "blue u.n. wins!" (community s3e2)

Beyoncé - Fo(u)r rEProduction (a misshapedmixtape)

This might be a curveball to ya'll... but I actually really like Beyoncé's music. Okay, not all of it... but when she is on her game, she is brilliant. And her voice absolutely DESTROYS other artists that you might lump her in with (mistakenly) such as Shakira, Gaga, Rihanna, Brittney, Nicole Scherzinger or Katy Perry. Why do I name those artists? Well, they're sex symbols of our generation (and Scherzinger's on the "X Factor" so I think that's why her face popped into my head). And they're all pretty HUGE pop stars. No doubt. But do they have Beyoncé's heart or pipes? Hell no. So if you haven't given delving into Beyoncé's solo career much of a chance before, here's your opportunity. Because she is more than her ear-worming smash hits or the "Bootylicious" video that branded her (I would actually argue that it is because she did become a "brand" that it became easier for many of us to dismiss as an artist). In truth, Beyoncé is a pure, unique talent. And, what might be even more surprising to those out of the know, she has consistently put out very good ALBUMS. I would give three-out-of-four at least a B+ (her third, Sasha Fierce, is the only one that I don't care for... pretty inconsistent, so it wouldn't make the grade by me).

Beyoncé's latest album (4) is a bit of anomaly. She has released four singles off of it so far (on the radio) -- “Run the World (Girls)”, “Best Thing I Never Had”, “Countdown”, and “Party" -- and I don't really care for any of them (so they're not on this mixtape). In fact, I think that these four songs misrepresent where Beyoncé is as a person now. She is pregnant after all. These aforementioned songs are juvenile (which makes them good radio songs I suppose). But when B's on her grown-up shit, she is so sultry, smart and sweet. "1+1" is a flat-out brilliant song... and I can't imagine anyone EXCEPT Beyoncé being able to pull it off (maybe Whitney circa '92).

With all of those plaudits said, some music works better for me in a short-form small dose versus long-form. Beyoncé's latest album falls into that category. So I cut it down to seven songs (note the EP in "rEProduction"). In fact, this mixtape is shorter than 30 minutes long. So there's no excuse to not give it a chance -- if you're worried that even listening is going to ruin yr "indie coolness cred" :) -- but I must say (as you can see from the mixtape title) this is bedroom music more than anything. That said, I don't want to misrepresent this as a str8-up "getting freaky" mix. In looking at relationships, it's equal parts questioning and certainty. It's intimate. And yeah, actually... the last track on this mix IS str8-up freaky.

Anyway, I hope that you enjoy this one and that it works to push those of you who have had a pre-existing Beyoncé stigma. Now I'm curious to see what kind of music she comes out with AFTER she has a baby.

Speaking of which, one reason that I put a steamy R&B mixtape out this week is because so many of our friends are pregnant, just had babies, or thinking about having babies. So yay on you guys!

We're happy with our dog for now.

Here is the tracklist for Beyoncé - Fo(u)r rEProduction (a misshapedmixtape)” [you can find the download link in the “comments”]

01 : 1+1
02 : I Care
03 : I Miss You
04 : Start Over
05 : I Was Here
06 : Rather Die Young
07 : Dance For You

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Macklemore - White Privilege (a misshapedmixtape)

First of all... yikes! I've fallen behind on my posting! Never fear, I'm going to make up for lost time in the next couple of weeks... All that said... I might be a bit less eloquent on the write-ups (coz I am still trying to find a REAL job... though I do WISH that I could get paid for blogging... sigh....)

Okay then. This mixtape features select cuts from the Seattle MC, Macklemore. To be honest, I didn't even know this dude existed until like last month... but he has some fantastic songs out. So I wanted to introduce you to him in case you haven't heard of him. He is an excellent songwriter, ranging from rapping about his former addiction to cough syrup ("Otherside"), the implications of coveting expensive sneakers ("Wings"), the question of whether it's cultural-pillaging to be a Caucasian rapper ("White Privilege"), and, last but not least, a tribute to the Seattle Mariners ("My Oh My"). I appreciate someone rapping about their baseball team... I wish that Royce/Danny Brown/Elzhi would drop a Detroit Tigers song (produced by Black Milk and/or Apollo Brown).

That said, a lot of the songs contained on the mixtapes that Macklemore has dropped (he has four that I am aware of) don't really appeal to me. I mean, the dude has a party song about being Irish that (while it seems to be pretty popular from the look-in on youtube), I personally find to be stupid as shit. I mean, House Of Pain pulled off this kind of thing (quite awesomely), but Macklemore just doesn't do it for me. In fact, I find it rather embarrassing.

I'm going to move on (after all, this mixtape is a mixtape coz it separates wheat from chaff to save you the time of doing it yourself), but it does worry me to hear how often Macklemore makes reference (in his releases) to the fact that he wants to be a pop star (and I understand, he hasn't released an official album yet and he needs to get paid)... but he's an artist that thrives operating under the radar. I worry about hip-hop artists reaching for stardom. What is the cost? I have officially kicked Wale off of my radar because of this fact (his latest release is mediocre.... at best)... which is sad because Wale's earlier stuff showed such hunger and had deeper substance. This is a topic for another post.

Anyway, all that said (overstream vs. underground), Macklemore DOES have other great songs. In fact, he has EXACTLY fourteen great songs. So here they are, presented in misshapedmixtape form (after doing some extensive digging) to get you acquainted with him. If you like what you hear, I recommend scoping out his visuals on youtube (this link takes you to vids uploaded by his frequent collaborator and producer, Ryan Lewis). Macklemore has some love songs and other shit that I didn't feel deserved making the cut... but they're okay if you're into that kind of stuff. However, the last track I put on this mixtape, "The End," is a touching ode to prom night that samples a piano line from Antony & The Johnsons (unless my ears deceive me).

So here it is [with download link in the comments], the tracklist to Macklemore - "White Privilege" (a misshapedmixtape):

01 : Vipassana (ft Ryan Lewis)
02 : Fallin
03 : Wings (ft Ryan Lewis)
04 : City Don't Sleep (ft Don-P)
05 : Otherside (ft Ryan Lewis)
06 : I Said Hey
07 : Make That Money (ft Ryan Lewis)
08 : White Privilege
09 : My Oh My (ft Ryan Lewis)
10 : The Magic
11 : Ego
12 : Hold Your Head Up (ft Xperience)
13 : Can't Hold Us (ft Ray Dalton & Ryan Lewis)
14 : The End (ft Ryan Lewis)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Deolinda - Neo-Fado (a misshapedmixtape)

If Aloe Blacc or Raphael Saadiq (two of my favorite contemporary artists) can be called neo-soul (which in actuality is not really a proper label for either), then I figure the Portuguese group Deolinda can be called neo-fado. I have been listening to Deolinda for the last couple of years after being put onto them after reading some dude's blog (where else?) and their music comes from such a soulful, heart-place (which is a BIG reason why I’ve been more and more attuned to world music in recent years… because it seems that so much American [esp. Caucasian] music comes from such a head-place – in short, it doesn’t make me FEEL much).

Anyway, neo-fado (a made-up genre name that I just coined and, coincidentally, the name of this mixtape) is in reference to the Portuguese style of music, fado, that can be traced back to at least the 1820s according to wikipedia. Oh, and the word “fado” also translates to English as meaning "destiny" or "fate." However, unlike traditional fado music (which is mournful and is traditionally performed in all-black attire), Deolinda have put their own twist on it... and the stunning vocals of Ana Bacalhau don't hurt either. This is the kind of music that you can listen to a lot and never grow tired of it.

A little backstory: The band is named after the fictional character of Deolinda, a 40-year-old spinster who lives with her cats and goldfish in a Lisbon apartment and watches through her window as the world goes by. This "character" is merrily unmarried, in love and out of love, and writes her own songs by peeking through the curtains of her window, drawing inspiration from the old gramophone records that once belonged to her grandmother and by the bizarre and strange life of her neighbors.

I am job-hunting today, so I’m cutting some corners on this write-up. The fact that I can’t speak Portuguese is a good excuse also. Though Portuguese has GOT TO be the most beautiful language in the world...

To read more about Deolinda, I highly recommend checking out this fantastic article that was posted on The Bluegrass Special website [note: Deolinda sounds nothing like bluegrass, so sorry/happy to disappoint depending on which side of the fence you're on in that regard... but hey, everybody likes Carolina Chocolate Drops, right?]

My biggest task in this week's post was to attempt an English translation of one of Deolinda’s songs (working from a rough English translation that a native Portuguese speaker posted on the internet), which seemed like a good thing to do, as their song “Parva Que Sou” relates to my state of being right now. Deolinda performed “Parva Que Sou” at the beginning of 2011, and though it has not been officially released as a single, it has been a sensation in Portugal and in Europe (see youtube video here).

One would imagine that “Parva Que Sou” will appear on their third album, which will face the daunting task of trying to equal their first two records: “Canção ao Lado” (2008) and “Dois Selos e Um Carimbo” (2010). I wonder if "Parva Que Sou" may in fact mark a shift in the Deolinda-aesthetic, as its message seems to come from a younger voice and not from the mouth of a 40-year-old spinster? Maybe it is the niece of Deolinda. I am not sure. Regardless, this mixtape features tracks from those first two albums, plus a live version of “Parva Que Sou” as a bonus track.

And here is my attempted translation “Parva Que Sou” ("What An Idiot I Am")… excuse any mistakes… like I said, I was working from an existing translation:

I belong to the “without a wage” generation
And I do not mind this being so
What an idiot I am

Because things are bad and will stay so
I’m lucky enough to even be an intern
What an idiot I am

And I keep thinking, what a stupid world
Where to become a slave, one must first earn a degree

I am from the “homes given to us by our parents” generation
If I already have everything, why want anything more?
What an idiot I am

I keep putting off having a husband or children
And I still have to pay off the car
What an idiot I am

And I keep thinking, what a stupid world
Where to become a slave, one must first earn a degree

I am from the “why bother complaining” generation
There is always somebody worse off from me on TV
What an idiot I am

I am from the “can’t take anymore” generation
As this situation has gone on for too long
And I am not an idiot
As I keep thinking, what a stupid world
Where to become a slave, one must first earn a degree
Without further ado, here is the tracklist for Deolinda – “Neo-Fado (a misshapedmixtape)” [peep the download link in the “comments”]:

01 : Mal Por Mal
02 : Fado Toninho
03 : Não Sei Falar De Amor
04 : Contado Ninguém Acredita
05 : Eu Tenho Um Melro
06 : Lisboa Não É Cidade Perfeita
07 : Fado Castigo
08 : Ai Rapaz
09 : Canção Ao Lado
10 : Garçonete Da Casa De Fado
11 : Clandestino
12 : Se Uma Onda Invertesse A Marcha
13 : Um Contra O Outro
14 : Não Tenho Mais Razões
15 : Passou Por Mim E Sorriu
16 : Sem Noção
17 : A Problemática Colocação De Mastro
18 : Ignaras Vedetas
19 : Quando Janto Em Restaurantes
20 : Alvalade E As Portas De Benfica
21 : Canção Da Tal Guitarra
22 : Fado Notário
23 : Parva Que Sou (Live)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Lupe Fiasco - L.ast A.lbum S.ans E.rroneously R.ecorded S.ongs (a misshapedmixtape)

[Pre-warning: this post is my shambling mess of a ramble of some loose-thinking semi-logic... and there's no download link... so buy the tracks and then re-sequence them like this (oh what fun!)... see comment below...]

"I remember bein' in Chicago the day Obama became president-elect. He was playin' basketball, and I was actually in the gym where he was playin'. The people I was with was shakin' hands and takin' pictures, and I was like, I can't shake his hand because I don't know what he's gonna do. It would be dishonest of me to shake his hand 'cos I don't really believe in the American system like that. So I went home, because I didn't want to go to Grant Park to be in the midst of the madness, and watched his speech on television. As soon as he said, 'We need to get our troops out of Iraq,' I was like, 'Yaaaay!' But then he said, ' … and get 'em to the real war in Afghanistan,' and I was like, 'Aw, fuck. I gotta pay for some more bombs.' That kinda pissed me off." – Lupe Fiasco (quote from the March 3, 2011 issue of The Guardian)

Lupe Fiasco doesn’t fuck around. He is a free thinker. He challenges us. He challenges himself. He’s a brilliant artist. I consider Lupe to be one of the greatest writers of our age (rappers are in the Norton Anthology now too, in case you didn’t realize it).

Then, last March I heard “Lasers” (his third album). Simply put, I was flabbergasted. His first two albums were perfect 10s for me. Not many albums of the last five years are up there for me. But then “Lasers”? This one was... um... maybe a 6... with a couple songs that flat out sucked. What the shit happened, Lupe?

Well, many would say that the answer to that question is simple: Atlantic Records.

"We wanted Lasers to be a humongous record. There are so many ways of doing that. You can approach it in a very sleazy way – just throw money at it, go get a lot of the big-name artists, let them hijack it for you and just ride that wave into success. Or you can knuckle down and try to make a really great, different, classic, Kid A kid of thing, with commercial appeal and broad subject matter. The label wanted to do it the sleazy way." – Lupe Fiasco (from The Guardian

So why am I posting about this on misshapedmixtapes? After all, none of this is news to anyone who remotely follows good hip-hop (and therefore has heard ALL ABOUT Lupe’s fallout with his label on the internet).  

I guess the reason I’m writing about Lupe today is that on Tuesday night (this week) the whole “Lasers” saga came full circle (in my eyes).

Here was Lupe on stage at the BET Hip-Hop Awards performing “Words I Never Said” (a song off of what has become a commercially-successful "Lasers" album) while wearing an #OCCUPY t-shirt alongside Erykah Badu providing backing-vocals (who was concealed for most of the song behind a burka).

And you know what? It was awesome. It’s a great song. And I can’t fault his message. It rings true. And while I’m sitting on my ass watching the baseball playoffs, I’m sure that there a lot of Lupe fans (or other smart free-thinking people… maybe Animal Collective fans?) who are out and part of the #OCCUPY movement now. And this movement has a lot going for it. I think that it’s pretty neat.

So, in that way, the BET performance felt redemptive of what has been a strange past twelve months for Lupe. However… while watching the performance, I couldn’t help but getting a weird double-take feeling in seeing Lupe in full-on activist/protestor/bad-ass mode. After all, it was last October when the whole “petition to release the album!” movement was going on in full-force and a number of Lupe’s fans protested outside Atlantic Records' offices in New York City on October 15, 2010 (Atlantic and Lupe had reached a stand-off at this point and Atlantic was seemingly never going to release ANY of his shit).

I’m all for protesting and exercising our right to free speech and shit… but what did those Lupe fans end up with? A pop-rap album with SOME good shit and some songs that completely blow (Trey Songz needs to step off my favorite artists’ albums). This doesn’t even mention the song that DIDN’T make the (label’s) cut and was passed on to his label-mate B.o.B. – who made “Nothing On You” a smash hit. [sidenote: I have heard Lupe’s verses on the original, never-officially-released “Nothing On You” and they were probably the most lackluster lines that he ever wrote… so maybe it never seeing the light of day was for the best. {side-sidenote: I thought that B.o.B. actually pulled the whole “pop-rap album” off remarkably well – even though the cool-kid critics gave him SHIT for it… though I hope that he can one day break free of Atlantic Records and can put out the kind of music that he wants to… or just keep dropping mixtapes on the side that are better than his actual albums like most rappers do these days} end side-sidenote. Wait. [re-start with side-sidebar {oh yeah, I put Lupe’s version of “Nothing On You” as a bonus track to this week’s misshapedmixtape coz it’s REALLY bizarro to listen to}.].

(Fuck worrying about putting periods inside or outside of brackets/parentheses?!?! I’m going to protest that!).

Where was I? Oh yeah, I guess I’m just thinking out loud about where this whole #OCCUPY movement fits in as its own populist movement? What expectations do we have for it? In short, what’s going to be the net gain? I don’t mean to sound cynical (a number of my friends are into the #OCCUPY movement and I respect them for that), but what are we going to end up with?

(I want to put a footnote here but I don’t know how to do it on blogspot. As you can tell from this post [spoiler alert] I’m attempting to equate #OCCUPY with “Lasers”… and while I’m not sure they’re perfectly synonymous to each other, I do want to cite the earlier Lupe quote that he had hoped that “Lasers” would be “a Kid A kind of thing, with commercial appeal and broad subject matter.”) {Follow-up question: how many people have listened to Kid A and even know what the message behind it is? I saw Radiohead at Bonnaroo. I would say maybe 10% if I was being generous}

I truly adore Lupe. He can be sage-like. I respect the fact that he didn’t shake Obama’s hand at the basketball court… and that “Words I Never Said” calls Obama out (lyric: “Gaza strip was getting bombed, Obama didn’t say shit / That’s why I ain’t vote for him, next one either / I’m a part of the problem, my problem is I’m peaceful / And I believe in the people.”) He’s brave. No doubt.

That said, we need to tread carefully in these times and keep our heads on as straight as possible and our expectations in check. Coz maybe in the end, our protests will bless us with something like “Lasers”… an album that is exasperating and in the end falls short in SO MANY WAYS.

As you can tell, I’m a pessimist. But that’s just because I used to be such a die-hard, never-flinching optimist... who springs from the grave, leaping gracefully onto my right shoulder now and screams: “Hey! In retrospect “Lasers” did have its moments of greatness and (by re-sequencing the album and cutting out the bullshit) it can be appreciated and treasured! Think globally, act loca---”…

So I’m going to do a misshapedmixtape on “Lasers.” 
Shit, I BETTER do one. I’ve written enough about it already!

I could go into an in-depth analysis of each of the strange creatures that inhabit Lupe’s “Lasers” album as songs (Exhibit A would be the ultimate fuck-you-to-the-label-if-you-listen-carefully-to-the-lyrics Modest Mouse sampling song that Atlantic Records forced on him and Exhibit B would be the really grating “State Run Radio” that I hate SO MUCH but I had to put on this mixtape because it’s basically the theme song of this post).

However, in the end, all of that would serve as side-chatter to my main concern of living in this modern age as an artist/human being. Lupe was quoted saying that the process of “Lasers” made him suicidal. As an artist, he was UNABLE to compromise. But he was locked into a contract. And we, for better or worse, are locked in the American system and/or any number of other disconcerting big intangible thingies.

I’ll stop my post here… because I’m not exactly sure where I’m going with this… Instead, I’ll let Lupe finish this off:

“Solzhenitsyn put it very quaintly. Basically, there's a duality in everything – there's two sides to every story. Sometimes they complement each other, and sometimes they conflict… I can be Picasso if you want that, and I could do Guernica for you all day. Or, if you want me to paint your dog, I'll come to your house and paint your dog. Once I know my role, I'll play my role to a T. If I'm supposed to be the slave artist, chained to the desk, painting poodles, so be it. Make me rich! You'll get rich in the process as well. But I'm gonna let the world know I'm painting poodles." – Lupe Fiasco (from The Guardian)

Here's the tracklist for Lupe Fiasco - "L.ast A.lbum S.ans E.rroneously R.ecorded S.ongs (a misshapedmixtape)" [you can check for a few added notes -- I obviously added lots of songs that weren't on the original album -- in "comments"... but no link]:

01 : Letting Go (ft Sarah Green)
02 : Words I Never Said (ft Skylar Grey)
03 : Beautiful Lasers (2Ways) (ft MDMA)
04 : Break The Chain (ft Eric Turner & Sway)
05 : All Black Everything
06 : If You Want To (ft Travis Barker & Pharrell Williams)
07 : State Run Radio (ft Matt Mahaffey)
08 : The Show Goes On
09 : Till I Get There
10 : I'm Beaming
11 : Shining Down (ft Matthew Santos)
12 : Never Forget You (ft John Legend)
13 : We Can Do It Now (ft Common & Jennifer Hudson)
14 : Resurrection (ft Kenna)
15 : Don't Look Down (ft Mos Def, Kanye West & Big Sean)
16 : Don't Stop! (ft Pharrell Williams & Kanye West)
17 : The National Anthem (ft Thom Yorke)
18 : Us Placers (ft Pharrell Williams, Kanye West & Thom Yorke)
19 : Building Minds Faster
20 : Tightrope Remix (ft Janelle Monáe & B.o.B)
21 : Nothin On You (ft Bruno Mars & B.o.B)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Nneka - From Africa 2 U (a misshapedmixtape)

I know that I am two days late on this one. But trust me... it's worth the wait. 

Nneka is a Nigerian/German artist that I'm not going to classify. Coz labels are usually lame and sell things short. And I'd probably call her post-post-colonial or something retarded like that. So I won't. 

Anyway, she is GREAT. If you like female artists such as Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu or Mystic (or, to name some newer artists: Janelle Monáe, Dessa or Santogold) then be prepared to fall in love. All six of those artists are among my top-favorites... and Nneka is pushing her way up to join them.

So yeah, that's my pitch. Download this shit already.

A bit more context, Nneka released her latest album, "Soul Is Heavy,” last week in Europe (not yet in the US though). "Soul Is Heavy" follows the two excellent albums that Nneka already released ("Victim of Truth" in 2005 and "No Longer at Ease" in 2008). Unfortunately, neither of those albums ever officially crossed the Atlantic, but there was a 2010 release ("Concrete Jungle") that packaged some of her best songs together on an album for an American audience.

This mix features my personal favorites culled from all three Euro-released albums (including her latest... plus a J.Period remix and two other songs off of an EP) painstakingly sequenced to feel like a real album. I probably spent TOO MUCH time on this tape... but I think that in the end it actually flows together better than "Concrete Jungle" did (in general, Nneka does cover a lot of ground and different styles in her releases, so it was a good challenge).

I hope it serves as a proper introduction to Nneka... though I did omit some fantastic songs ("Come With Me", "The Uncomfortable Truth", "Beautiful" and the album version mixes of "Heartbeat" and "Walking" are just some that come to mind), in part because I wanted to encourage you to actually BUY Nneka's stuff (that you can find). These are the types of artists that we need to support (especially in the USA).

An added bonus is that this mix has a manageable length that can fit onto one CD (if that's still the way you prefer to digest yr musical vitamins... actually I try to shoot for sub-80 minutes most weeks).

You'll find the download link in the "comments" section... and here's the track list below:

Nneka - "From Africa 2 U (a misshapedmixtape)"

01 : Africans [Victim Of Truth]
02 : Camouflage
[Soul Is Heavy]
03 : Focus [No Longer At Ease]
04 : Showin Love [Victim Of Truth]
05 : Heartbeat (Remix ft Nas) [Heartbeat EP]
06 : God Of Mercy [Victim Of Truth]
07 : Sleep (ft Ms Dynamite) [Soul Is Heavy]
08 : Walking (J.Period Remix ft Jay Electronica) [The Madness]
09 : Soul Is Heavy [Soul Is Heavy]
10 : Suffri [No Longer At Ease]
11 : God Knows Why (ft Black Thought) [Soul Is Heavy]
12 : Changes [Victim Of Truth]
13 : Mind vs. Heart [No Longer At Ease]
14 : Stay [Soul Is Heavy]
15 : Kangpe (ft Wesley Williams) [No Longer At Ease]
16 : Burning Bush [Victim Of Truth]
17 : Shining Star [Soul Is Heavy]
18 : From Africa 2 U [No Longer At Ease]
19 : V.I.P. [Soul Is Heavy]
20 : Heartbeat (Chase & Status Guitar Mix) [Heartbeat EP]