Music: Five of the best artists you’ve never heard of (the Hip Hop edition)

Hip Hop by Tom NashIt’s about time I finished the trilogy I started last year with the Instrumental Hip Hop Edition and continued with an introduction to the most criminally underrated and underappreciated Hip Hop groups of our time; CunninLynguists.

This time around, I’m going to share a selection of songs from more artists I feel don’t get the praise they deserve. Those artists are, in no particular order:

Sean Price
The king of ignorance. If you like Hip Hop that’s cynically formulated to moisten teenage girl panties (I’m looking at you, Drizzy), Sean P is not for you. If you like whiplash-inducing boom-bap and your rhymes full of witty punchlines and wordplay, you might just have found your new favourite rapper.
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Music: When rappers sample songs you know (Part Two)

Hip Hop by Tom NashIf you didn’t catch Part One when it went up (there’s less pointing and laughing… About the same amount of Phil Collins though), or you fancy refreshing your memory, click here.

This post has caused me issues. It seemed so easy at first; think of some horrendous rap songs that sample a well-known track in the backing beat. What could be easier, right?

Wrong.

The first three choices blooooooow, of that there can be no doubt. And there was no chance I was putting a link to anything featuring Professor Green’s strange nasal accent on my website (when he says ‘ahhhhh’, he means ‘eye’, apparently- I know, mind= blown, right?) so his decimation of Where is My Mind by The Pixies is something you are going to have seek out and be outraged by on your time. But if I’m completely honest, it got tough quick, as the majority of songs I remembered as being terrrrrrrible, actually had a weird novelty value upon revisiting.

You try playing that X-to-tha-Zee track below and not cracking a smile when he starts dropping knowledge over that loop. Go on. It can’t be done, unless you’re dead inside.

Who knew Toto’s Africa would work as a rap track? And how awesome is DJ Premier for including the ‘biff, baff, POW’ Batman sound effects in that beat for Snoop Dogg? All the awesome, that’s what. You know what I mean.
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Music: When rappers sample songs you know (Part One)

Hip Hop by Tom NashThe sample. Nothing in music is more divisive. Some say categorically that anyone that uses samples is not producing art and cannot be considered a musician. These people tend to anger quickly, which is ironic considering the reputation of the genres they look to belittle and demonise. The rest of us, I don’t know, get worked up over more important issues, hopefully…

The most famous genre for sampling is, of course, Hip Hop. Without sampling, Hip Hop simply wouldn’t be a thing, making it as integral a part of the music and culture as ridiculous slang, big-ass bass and weird hand movements to accentuate rhymes… *Rap hands*

Think nothing good has ever come from sampling? I raise you a Paul’s Boutique by The Beastie Boys, a Three Feet High and Rising by De La Soul and an Entroducing by DJ Shadow… Never heard of any of these? Do yourself a favour and go catch up, as the ‘well-known’ samples below will probably be a mystery too. Run along, youngblood. Shoo; go learn.

Let’s face it, unless you know the source material, most of the time you wouldn’t even know you were listening to a chunk of some other song, unless someone pointed it out to you. Did you know the Arctic Monkeys have sampled Ennio Morricone (seriously- Google him)? What about Royksopp sampling Parliament/Funkadelic? Even bastions of whiny dad-rock U2 have sampled other artists (Harold Budd and Brian Eno, if you’re wondering).

When it comes to sampling, I guess ignorance really is bliss.
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Music: The best artists you’ve never heard of (CunninLynguists Edition)

Hip Hop by Tom NashHello, dear reader(s- ever the optimist). The site’s been updated and now everything is in one, easy-to-navigate place and that’s super.

So what better way to celebrate the sleek, sexy new design and layout than a sleek, sexy new blog post? None, that’s right. Great minds, eh?

Last time out, I shared a selection of artists that make beautiful, yet gangsterific (it’s a word) instrumental Hip Hop type stuff. Now it’s time to look at some folk what do the rappity-rap stuff… Where you going?

Well that was the idea, anyway. Turns out this lot need a post to themselves.

People that know me well can click away now, as they are probably sick of hearing me witter on about this group. “Who, Tom? Tell us!”

Umm… It says who in the title.
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Music: Five of the best artists you’ve never heard of (The Instrumental Hip Hop Edition)

Hip Hop by Tom NashSo I just realised that since I started doing this, my bio has mentioned my love of the oft-maligned genre of music known as Rap or Hip Hop (I know, white suburban fella likes Rap… Shocking!) and I’ve never written about it.

While those of you remember me mentioning that I write for Music Liberation will know I’ve covered a couple of Rap albums over there, other than the occasional tweet, I’ve never written anything about the music I claim to be ‘passionate’ about. Well, we’re going to change that.

In a break from the usual moaning about stupid people/things, the following is a list of (in my humble opinion) AWESOME Hip Hop artists that you need in your life. I’ll ease you in with some instrumental stuff.

*Please note, if your taste in music is dictated by Fearne Cotton, Kiss 100 (Is it still called that? Don’t answer- don’t care), or any television music channel, this piece won’t be for you.

Same goes if you’ve ever said “I can’t understand a fucking word they’re saying” or “it all sounds the same to me” when the topic of Hip Hop has been brought up in conversation.

Something vacuous is bound to be on E4 or ITV2, go gurgle in front of that while the grown-ups talk.*

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Open-mic nights: Your list of performers

Open Mic Nights by Tom NashIn my last post about who you see on the beach, I mentioned ‘The cunt with a guitar’. Some of you may have thought ‘that’s a bit harsh’, but I don’t. I stand by my sentiments.

However, I do feel I should acknowledge that not everyone that aspires to a career in the music industry is a cunt (although I understand that it helps if you are). This post should sort that.

While I can still buss out a mean ambulance siren on a recorder and during my teens was often found spitting fiyah over Drum & Bass beats, nowadays my own musical ability is limited to solo Crystal Palace chants when I’m walking home drunk. While living in a university town, I have discovered that there are plenty of venues that allow the musically inclined to share their talent with the world. Here are a few of the usual suspects at these ‘open-mic’ nights:


The first timer
Usually quiet and almost apologetic when they first hit the mic, maybe the first couple of bars are a bit shaky and they miss a chord or two, but by the second verse (provided their audience isn’t a bunch of unsupportive arseholes) they get well into it and generally reveal themselves to be:

The annoyingly good
Maybe you met them some time and didn’t like them, maybe you made a judgement on their appearance and accent as they made their introduction, or maybe you’re one of the people that never learned an instrument and is a little bitter about it. Whatever; the details don’t matter. As this person starts playing, you just hope that they suck. When it is revealed that they don’t, it can either come as a pleasant surprise or simply fuel your hatred further. Your choice…

The downer
This chirpy fucker steps up to the microphone and declares that they are going to sing ‘…a song I wrote when I was coming down off pills.’ Exactly what you’re looking for when you’re drinking vast amounts of depressant. They will then try to suck as much life out of the room as is possible in three minutes. Then they’ll probably play a dreary cover of Wonderwall to try and perk everyone up.

The performance poet
Too middle-class to get away with rapping, their uniform appears to be a shit beard, a lisp and being slightly miffed at something. They tend to stand too close to the mic while they blurt out a muffled and fuck-strewn stream-of-consciousness and will then swagger around the pub like a cardigan-wearing Fonzie for the rest of the evening. I blame Scroobius Pip for every single one of them.

My mate John
The Peter Jackson of open-mic nights. The only man in the world that can take a three minute song and make it last ten minutes but not add anything that wasn’t in the original. The only man in the world who can make an Elvis Presley number sound like something by Bob Dylan. The only man in the world who can get away with singing half a verse before stopping and deciding to play something completely different.

John, we salute you.

Check out the links page of my website for some annoyingly good musicians that I recommend you keep track of, along with some excellent writers (that aren’t as bitter, judgemental and sweary as me), illustrators, photographers and designers (graphics, jewellery and other craft stuff).

http://thewritetomnash.co.uk

Beaches: The sun is out and so is the flesh

At the Beach by Tom NashWell, summer’s been delayed here in the south-west it seems. But we have had enough good weather for me to do this post.

As is British tradition, whenever the sun peeks through the clouds for an extended period of time, it’s off to the nearest body of water to proudly display parts of our bodies that we don’t even like our other halves looking at on most days.

While you’re there, you might just run into:


The arsehole parent
This character has already been noted by my esteemed homeslice Luke Tucker in a far more eloquent manner than I ever could, but fuck it, I’ll have a pop anyway.

So this is the parent that spends the entire day bollocking their kids at full volume, no matter how small the indiscretion. In the process they ruin any opportunity for their children to have fun and the people unfortunate enough to be near them to relax and enjoy themselves too. They do this under the guise of ‘good parenting’, blissfully unaware of the pity everyone feels for their poor, hen-pecked offspring, who will probably move out at sixteen into a shitty bedsit with a pervy landlord that they’ll have to sleep with when they can’t make the rent… And it all starts here on the sand…

The arsehole child
Occasionally with the arsehole parent, but more often with some fucker that is blissfully unaware of what a odious human they have produced. This is the little shit that thinks they can do what they like and runs about screaming, kicking over sandcastles, shitting in the sea and just generally being abhorrent. If you make eye-contact with their owner, they just give you that dopey shrug and grin combo at says ‘What you gonna do, eh?’

Fucking discipline your child, that’s what.

The muscle-man
On a rare break between gym sessions (like the last time we met them), this is a chance to grease up the abs and guns and go show those bad boys off. Ideally they like to keep moving, as just like sharks dying when they stop moving, these lot need to be exercising at all times, incase they start losing muscle-mass. So you will usually see them swaggering up and down the waterline in pairs, or occasionally jogging, but only if it’s midday and it’s about 30°c. And they always seem to be wearing wrap-around sunglasses…

The horny teenage boy
This fella brings at least one horny teenage wing-man with him and a frisbee too. The general plan is to locate some lovely laydeez and start bussing their mad frisbee skillz near them. Strategically placed ‘stray’ throws provide opportunities for closer inspections and then, if those inspections prove positive, another can be a conversation starter. Especially if you hit the pretty one in the face.

The cunt with a guitar (sorry Mum, but no other word was even close to being as appropriate)
Usually found in the evening by a fire that would make Ray Mears weep in shame, the fucker never rings ahead to check people would be interested in hearing him play, he just turns up with his axe and starts strumming away, ‘entertaining’ his companions (and anyone else unfortunate enough to be in earshot) with awful stop-start renditions of songs by Bob Dylan and whatever depressing indie folk band/singer students think they’re cool for listening to at the moment, until he forgets the words in the second verse or stops to explain that the chord progression in the next bit is quite difficult and he hasn’t quite mastered it yet. Oh, and he’ll play Wonderwall at some point too. They always fucking play Wonderwall*.

The pervert
Know who this is? Every bloke! Why do you think we buy mirrored sunglasses? Duh.

Oh no… I’ve let the secret out. Fu-uck…

*Yes, it is a good song. But try listening to it out of choice after you’ve heard at least one person shit on it at every open-mic night you’ve ever been to.

http://thewritetomnash.co.uk

Concerts: Who’s in the crowd

Concerts by Tom NashUnless you’re one of those weirdos that has no interest in music (freaks), most of us have been to see at least one live musical performance. Whether it was at a massive venue like the O2 or a small club like The Luminaire in Kilburn (RIP), chances are someone below attended:


The die-hard
It’s not hard to spot this lot. At the very least they’ll be decked out in a band tee-shirt. If you’re at a festival they’ll probably have a banner or a fucking flag. If it’s a small gig, they strong-arm their way to the front so the band/artist can see that they know every word to every song. If you’re really unlucky, one will end up behind you and you’ll have no choice but to listen to them ruin your favourite group/band/artist’s entire catalogue with their tone-deaf warbling.

Which in all honesty is preferable to:

The wannabe groupie
They fight the die-hards for the optimum front spot (which is how mosh pits start) and if successful they spend the entire show trying to have eye-sex with the singer or any random band member that glances vaguely in their direction. They also scream. A lot. In fact, if there’s a posse of them, this will occur every time the audience is addressed.

You can break them up by deploying:

The mosher
Sweaty, sexually frustrated boys with bad hair… I gather. I wouldn’t know, you couldn’t get me to a Metal gig if you paid me.

The tall bloke
You notice him as you arrive and think ‘I hope he doesn’t end up in front of me’. Next you find your seats or a decent spot with a good view of the stage. Then the fucker comes and stands directly in front of you. Of course, the big fellas tend to not have been hugged enough as kids so if you ask him to move he’ll throw his toys out of the pram. It’s best to just relocate.

The people that look like your mates
You’ve drunk/sniffed/smoked a bit too much during the course of the evening and make a quick dash to the loo. You then head back to where you think your mates are. Maybe you even spot the back of their heads. You tap one of them on the shoulder to recount the amazing tale of your bathroom trip and that’s when you realise you were standing a little further to the left and a bit closer to the front…

The aspiring artist
Again, I don’t know how this works at other shows, but you always get at least one at a Rap concert. You might be having a smoke outside or simply waiting for the show to start, but chances are someone will approach you and offer to ‘buss some rhymes’ for you. No matter how non-commital your answer, they will. Following their performance they will explain that they plan to give their demo to the artist(s) performing…

Yeah, good luck with that.

http://thewritetomnash.co.uk

Music: Levels of appreciation

Hip Hop by Tom NashThis was originally about Hip Hop music specifically, but I realised you could change the genre and artists and the points would remain the same. So, here are the six levels of music appreciation:

Level 1: Awareness of the existence of music.
Their CD collection is probably made up entirely of Now That’s What I Call Music compilations and albums by X-Factor winners (*sigh*). They tend to have their car stereo tuned to Radio One too. If they can’t sing along or dance to it, they won’t really get it. It is safe to bet that these are also the people that do that moronic ‘ooh-ooh’ thing to just about any song that plays in a nightclub.


Level 2: Appreciation of particular songs.
This person has probably downloaded a few albums, for the singles they liked and songs that remind them of their youth. They might have even bought a CD or two in their time.

A good example is those people who liked ‘Crazy’ by Gnarls Barkley a few years back, bought the album expecting more of the same, were disappointed and are now confused by this Cee-Lo Green character, as they thought he was Gnarls Barkley. Don’t even bother trying to explain who Danger Mouse is.


This is the person (if they’re in their late 20s or 30s) who knows all the words to ‘Jump Around’ by House of Pain or ‘Ice Ice Baby’ by Vanilla Ice but couldn’t name another song of theirs if they tried. Although being able to name another Vanilla Ice track isn’t necessarily a good thing… Bad example…

Level 3: Appreciation of particular artists.
At this level, the signs of elitism begin to show. They may have a few pop artists in their collection but their taste is becoming more refined. A twenty year old who just discovered the Beatles probably falls into this category, as does anyone who believes ‘this artist understands me’.

Level 4: The old school fan.
Not sure how this works with other genres but in Hip Hop you get two types: The ‘proper old school’ who bemoans all modern Hip Hop and claims the genre peaked in the late 1980s and the ‘not quite as old school’, who bemoans all modern Hip Hop and claims the genre peaked in the late 1990s. They reel off lists of artists you should be listening to, not this rubbish, and will disregard anything new without giving it a listen. I’m guessing every subculture has their own equivalent.

Level 5: The fan-boy or ‘Stan’ (in reference to the popular Eminem track).
These are the people that ceaselessly promote, defend and praise a particular artist or label’s product, particularly online. Put something negative in the comments on a My Chemical Romance Youtube video and see how quickly the hate spills forth, if you would like an example.

Now occasionally this is warranted. For example, two ‘underground’ Hip Hop labels, Rhymesayers and QN5, consistently release exceptional work. Due to this, over the last ten or so years they have built a devoted fanbase that will attack any naysayers with venom. When it’s an artist (in the loosest sense of the word) such as Ke$ha, it’s a bit harder to fathom…

Level 6: The true elitist.
This person bemoans the quality of the artists featured on the radio and praises the lyricism, skill and artistic integrity of whoever it is they listen to. They might check out Kanye West‘s new album, as it’s getting superb reviews but that’s it. If it ain’t obscure, they ain’t interested. Look through this person’s music collection and you probably won’t recognise a single name. And that’s the way they like it. Artists who get radio play are strictly off limits and if someone they previously championed becomes popular in the mainstream, they will immediately label them as ‘sell-outs’ and stop following them. People who happily listen to chart music are viewed with distain that occasionally borders on hatred.

Want an example? Have a look at how the internets reacted to the news that the ‘saviour of Rap’ Jay Electronica had signed with Jay-Z‘s label…

http://thewritetomnash.co.uk