Filed under: Miscellaneous
With Google Reader finally shutting down tomorrow it was time to get as much of the content back up on this site as possible, as Reader was acting as my own form of archiving.
What you see here is the majority of the content I produced between the end of 2006 and July 2009 when I moved to New York City. Use the different categories on the left hand side to navigate through the content. All links are dead.
Filed under: Miscellaneous
So what the hell has happened to FDB in 2009? Well, as I’ve commented on several times one of the major changes in my life this year has been the purchase of my first property. This has been stressful and time-consuming but worth it given I’m now on that infamous ladder. Solicitors + estate agents + insurance companies = no time for blogging.
More significantly, I’m also on the brink of leaving the UK. Back in January I went through a relatively grueling interview process for a job at the United Nations International School in New York City. The beginning of the year was fraught with preparation and worry, as were the following couple of months as I waited for news on whether I had got the job or not. I did. In just over two weeks I will be in New York City on the hunt for apartments and gearing up for the greatest adventure of my life. Needless to say this is hugely exciting but incredibly daunting particularly given that I leave behind my girlfriend (only temporarily), family, and a network of friends who I have had in Bristol for nearly a decade. Evidently FDB, blogging, and the internet in more general terms have been way down my priority list for some time now.
So what lies ahead for this modest little corner of the internets? To be honest, I’m not sure. Imagining myself in New York City is still a pretty abstract concept in itself, so the thought of sitting down on a Tuesday night and rattling off something about a drum break is bizarre to say the least. It may be the case that living in the mecca of all things hip and hop means I have an insatiable desire to share music and musings with you; it may also be the case that the city and life is so absorbing that I don’t. Right now, I just can’t tell.
I want to thank everyone who has regularly (or irregularly for that matter) visited this spot over the last few years and want to give a particular shout out to my internet brethren without whom running this blog would not have been the life enriching experience that it has been. You know who you are and we’ll stay in touch. If you have voyeuristic desires to see how my personal life in the US progresses you can do so at Five Borough Brits, a blog I’ve set up to keep track of my movements in the greatest city in the world.
But let’s mark this moment with some music, shall we? Here’s some recent stuff I’ve enjoyed and recommend you check.
Chris Read presents The Legacy: World’s Greatest Jackson Tribute Mix
This does what it says on the tin. And then some. If you’re not already familiar with Chris’s sensational mixes then why not start here: The Legacy is technically and musically masterful and my hands down favourite piece of post-Jacko tribute material currently available. You done did it again Chris.
5 O’Clock Shadowboxers – The Slow Twilight
If you’re at all in tune with the internet hip hop blog scene then you can’t have failed to notice this release from my boys Zilla and Douglas. Dudes even picked up a review in HHC digital this month. The Slow Twilight is a brilliantly put together little package that brings something genuinely original to the table and although not all of it is to my taste this is as refreshing and innovative as hip hop gets in 2009. Kudos fellas.
Prafit – ‘New York Swing’
Third installment from this duo hailing from Long Island and a truly bangin’ track that’s already featured on Hot 97 care of Peter Rosenberg. It’s so rare that something new gives me that old hip hop ‘buzz’ without feeling tired but ‘New York Swing’ does so with aplomb. Rolling keys, big drums… nothing to complain about here so get familiar.
I’m outta here for now. Thanks again.
Nothing like an exciting sample find to bring this blogger temporarily out of stasis. I’ve been listening to The Infamous a ludicrous amount of late and enjoying it as much as ever, but it’s the undeniably great ‘Trife Life’ that has seen the most action. It’s always been one of my favourite beats on the album and epitomises the dark, murky aesthetic that Prodigy and Havoc achieved with such aplomb on this legendary LP. But then, you knew that already.
Only one key sample source at play here besides drums and it’s Norman Connor’s ‘You Are My Starship’, a sweet mid-70’s R & B cut featuring vocals by Michael Henderson, a bassist who had played with Miles Davis during the earlier part of the decade. The opening section of the song is immediately recognisable as the introductory section of the Mobb Deep cut, but it’s what happens after this that is perhaps more interesting as it represents some pretty visionary production at the hands of Havoc. Listen closely to the first couple of bars that mark the start of the first verse at 0.44 and you’ll hear that distinctive bassline nestled in amongst all the other elements of the Connor’s groove that ultimately form the backbone of ‘Trife Life’. It’s an extreme use of a low pass filter that to me is only matched by Large Pro’s work on ‘Halftime’ in terms of sheer depth, where all other components of the sample source are pretty much obliterated. Ultimately it’s this truncation that makes the melody here feel like it’s swarming around you: it’s just not possible to get a particularly clean sound when extracting the bass from such a busy source, but of course this would detract from the end result even if it was and be far less effective. ‘Trife Life’ was born to be dirty.
The other flurry that I love is the use of the two bars of sax that drop in at 1.57. A similar aggressive filter must also have been applied to remove this from the original source, so much so in fact that I’ve actually failed to acknowledge it as a saxophone until hearing the sample. The way it balances out the bass-heavy groove throughout the rest of ‘Trife Life’ is devastating, floating loftily during the chorus sections and intermittently breaking out during the verses providing that sense of space that prevents the song from monotony.
And Havoc knows how great this beat is. Just as you think it’s all over the groove comes right back at you, and when the fade out begins that sax drifts into play again. So menacing and yet so beautiful: that’s what The Infamous is all about, right?
Filed under: Album Reviews
What’s this?! Digital Existence has landed a forceful jab and hook to the otherwise relentless onslaught of Real Life? It’s the comeback of the century!
Well, maybe the week. But this new Mos Def album has got me all excited and I had to briefly give it due props in case you’ve ignored it due to the dubious charms (read: I didn’t like either of them) of The New Danger andTrue Magic. I’m loving The Ecstatic right now. Save for a few missteps the beats are good to great growers and Mos is blistering throughout. You can hear that DOOM obsession in full force here and it works wonders. The prophet has returned! Do. Not. Sleep.
Oh, back up a minute… a group of solicitors and a mortgage exchange seem to be hovering around the edge of the ring. Digital Existence’s brief flurry of activity looks set to take a trouncing: brace yourself buddy, this could get nasty.
It’s not long until I’m able to fill y’all in on exactly why FDB has fallen into such a stagnant state over the last few months, but I’m assuming you’re not losing too much sleep over it. If you are, just end yourself right now because there’s not gonna be a significant change any time soon. At the moment real life continues to beat my digital existence into a whimpering, bloody pulp and it’s showing no signs of letting up just yet. In fact, it just pulled a mallet out…
Still, a swift counterblow has provided me with just enough respite to share this jewel of a track that hasn’t left my headphones in a minute. I’m really starting to get a taste for this 70’s Brazilian material, and Maria Bethania’s ‘Mariana, Mariana’ is just one of the reasons why. Enjoy: I’ll see ya when I see ya.
Filed under: Producers
Beats From The 90’s Vol. 2 Preview (Ghetto Man Beats, 2009)
Good news for fans of K-Def and indeed that ‘real’ hip hop, as the Jersey legend’s follow-up to his utterly fantastic Beats From The 90’s Vol. 1 is (tentatively) due to drop this July. I loved the first edition of this series and the provided preview confirms that this should be similarly bangin’, so watch this space for more news as it reaches me. Shouts to richdirection once again for the hook-up.
For those of you who have been following my ‘work’ for a while, you may well remember the piece I put together for Oh Word back in February last year on Illmatic where I deconstructed all of the key sample sources that went into the production of the album. The second installment in this series is now beginning over at The Passion of the Weiss, and this time it’s Reasonable Doubt that is receiving the full album deconstruction treatment.
Part 1 is already up over at Jeff’s spot now, with further installments throughout the week. We took the decision to break this bad boy up a little because at over 3000 words in total for the whole album, I doubt your internet dented attention spans would have made it through the whole piece in one go. I know mine probably wouldn’t. Enjoy and make sure you chime in with some comments to make me feel like the labour of love was worth it. Huge props to Jeff for the opportunity to let the piece reach a wider audience than it could ever have hoped to here at FDB.