Saturday, June 19, 2004

What the Helen of Troy is that?

Whut up y'alls? Yes, I have returned triumphantly from Vegas. It was a good time. Sure, my cousin and I attended a conference on "How to Get Paid by Uncle Sam" (as in companies getting paid on their government contracts) which was pretty boring and not super-applicable to our company. Oh well, it was in Vegas, so boo hoo hoo. I didn't gamble much (my cousin lost about $70), and we didn't go out and cause too much trouble, but it was fun. Tuesday night we went to HipHopSite (see below) and then ate dinner at In 'n Out, which was pretty damn awesome. Friday afternoon we tried to find a taco/tequila joint called the Pink Taco in Vegas' Hard Rock Cafe, but my cousin didn't know where it was like he thought he did, and we ended up walking down most of the strip and back, about an hour and a half in near 100 degree heat. Boo, I really did want to see the Pink Taco, haha. Overall, my first trip to Vegas was pretty cool.

On Tuesday night, after getting checked into the hotel and everything, we took a taxi to the actual store site of HipHopSite, which was, as advertised, three rooms of wall-to-wall hip-hop. I got all nerded-out and wore the Digable Planets shirt I got in an HHS promotion, and told the guy at the register about how cool it was to be at their store and all. Super-nerd-gushing is one of my specialties. Anyway, since it was the release date for the new Beastie Boys album, "To the Five Boroughs," they were giving away bunches of posters and stickers with each purchase of the album, so of course I picked one up (along with a pile of other stuff, ha). I'm still in the middle of listening to it, but I think my two favorite things about it so far are the texturedly awesome artwork (including all the lyrics and funny "Editor's Notes" on the lyrics) and the lead single. Most of the beats are good (and MixMaster Mike's turntablism sure DON'T suck!), though not extra-original, but most of the rhymes are pretty simplistic. I know that's always been the Beastie Boys' style, so maybe it's just getting old, like alot of their cultural references. At this point, since the boys are still revered in pop culture and they put out albums so in-frequently, every album is an event. Just like "Intergalactic" six years ago (!!!), a new Beastie Boys single can definitely light up a summer for me, and "Ch-Check It Out" is no exception. And maybe being addicted to buying new BB albums isn't too bad, considering they've put out three actual albums in the last 10 years. But it would be nice to hear something a little more inspired (and less cheesy) than "To the Five Boroughs."

In other recently released albums, the new one from Antibalas, "Who is this America?", is pretty damn awesome. I've been a fan of these guys for a few years, but after listening to it once, I'm starting to think it might be my favorite one yet. As can be expected from any self-respecting NYC-based Afrobeat Orchestra in 2004, the record is rather political, but their cries are alot more inspiring than similar attempts by the Beasties. Sure, there are some damn long songs, but I think they're getting better at making actual songs and not just endless Afrojams. And as always, the thunderous horn section (including ass-kickin' Martin Perna on bari sax, UGHHHHHHH!!!!) does it for me. A song will chill out for a minute or two with a keyboard solo or a nice bass groove, then the horns bring back the PAIN and the FUNK is ON! Highly recommended, so go pick one up from their new label (and one of my favorite websites), Ropeadope.

OK, one more. I finally got around to buying and listening to the "Pretty Toney Album" from Ghostface, and it's pretty tasty. I don't know where I rank it personally with his other albums, but he definitely does the old "takin it back to the old school" thang better than our aforementioned Jewish friends (wow, this post is turning anti-Beastie Boys, sorry). The skits are a little much at times, but overall there's lots of funny/infectious jams. Another top album of 2004, I'm sure.
OK, it's time to cut off another monster post from your truly. I'm back in Columbus for a long time now, so in the words of Edan, "Let's Be Friends." Or friend-friends. Peace in da Middle East, yo!!!

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