Miles Raymer, Reader music writer, is obsessed with . . .
Native Instruments’ Massive synthesizer and Korg’s NanoKEY2 keyboard Massive is a polyphonic software synthesizer with enough oscillators and filters (and options for routing them into one another) that you have the potential for thousands of sounds before you even touch the virtual knobs or built-in step sequencer. It retails for $199, but if you already own certain Native Instruments gear you can download it free. I control this great-sounding synth with a $50 keyboard that weighs less than many paperbacks. If you could take this setup to the 70s and show it to Brian Eno, he’d shit his kimono.
Scott Walker, Bish Bosch The most challenging avant-garde pop album of the year is full of dizzyingly dissonant tones of unknown origin, painfully pregnant pauses, and the gravitational pull of Scott Walker’s disconcertingly intense personality. But it’s also packed with fart jokes, bitchy insults directed at unnamed targets, and unexpected references to heavy metal and dubstep—it’s as entertaining as it is unsettling.
Action Bronson & Alchemist, Rare Chandeliers With the spring release of his shambolic mixtape Blue Chips and a summer spent solidifying its impressive buzz into the foundation for a move beyond Internet fame, Queens MC Action Bronson has had an eventful 2012. He could’ve finished it by releasing a handful of half-assed tracks and his fan base would’ve been fine, but instead he teamed up with Alchemist to record a full-length that improves upon nearly every great thing about Blue Chips. Bronson’s lyrical obsessions with women, weed, and fine dining result in some of the most hilarious lines from a rap record this year, while Alchemist’s fuzzbox-funk production provides some of its best guitar licks.
He asks . . .
Andrew Barber, founder of hip-hop blog Fake Shore Drive, what he’s obsessed with. His answers are . . .
Complex’s list of the 100 Greatest Hip-Hop Beats of All Time Well damn if that wasn’t a tough list to make. I think Complex did a solid job listing 100 dope rap beats, but 100 is just too short. A hundred picks seems daunting, but this thing could and should be 500. The list understandably leans toward early east-coast boom-bap stuff, but I would’ve liked to have seen at least one Battlecat beat on there. It’s absolutely worth the read, however, and you’re sure to learn a few things.
Another Ma$e comeback I’m probably one of the biggest Ma$e fans on earth, but the powers that be have to cool it on giving this man so many chances. Every few years he pops up when some executive or rapper puts the battery back in his back. In 2012 it was Kanye and G.O.O.D. Music, and while it was dope to hear the pastor once again, I’d rather see these opportunities given to Juvenile or Trick Daddy or Peedi Crakk or somebody. Mason’s entire career has been a disappearing-and-reappearing act.
Too $hort & E-40’s double album I had high expectations for this one—two Bay Area titans coming together for two albums, broken into separate projects titled Function Music and Mob Music. Unfortunately, both discs (er, both .zip files) fall flat. This is one of those things that should’ve happened in 1998, not 2012. Where is Ant Banks? Where are K-Ci and JoJo? At least B-Legit was invited. D-Shot didn’t get the memo, I guess. I just don’t care to hear Short Dogg and 40 Water rapping over ratchet instrumentals—I want dope-fiend beats. Jive Records really messed up by not capitalizing on this in the late 90s.
He asks . . .
Tree, Chicago “soul trap” MC, what he’s obsessed with. His answers are . . .
Four kings onstage This first video is a small clip from a larger piece that’s also searchable on YouTube. It shows a moment in history lost forever in the form of legendary singers and performers—the best, I might add. Michael Jackson, B.B. King, James Brown, and Prince live onstage at the Beverly Center in LA back in 1983. Seeing that
three two of these individuals are dead now, I felt an undeniable attachment to the legacy they left behind. This video was definitely worth a glimpse and/or mention.
The first music video ever? After doing much investigation (well, not too much—just Google and YouTube) I think I may have uncovered the world’s first and oldest actual music video. This footage shows what I think to be somewhat famous Sioux Indians dancing, drumming, and performing on camera in 1894. The music video has definitely come a long way!
Music from the 1930s that would get a parental advisory label now Trying to come up with something noteworthy for this article, I went back and found a song that I’d previously discovered on YouTube, Lucille Bogan’s “Shave ‘Em Dry”—which is probably one of the most surprising items I’ve ever come across. Her raunchy jargon would fit right in with current-day abrasive music in any genre, but this song was recorded and released to the masses in 1935, when American women had only had the right to vote for 15 years and black people in general were widely disenfranchised. So this video really shook me to the core. I don’t know if I was bothered by this vid or just ridiculously intrigued. Take a listen and tell me if I’m trippin’ or did she really just say that?