4 Great Gangstarr Tracks

Dropped as a single in 1994, ‘DWYK’ featuring Nice, Smooth and Kid Capri was a non-single/single from their fourth album ‘Hard To Earn’. I say non-single/single as outside of Japan this cut didn’t make the album as apparently Premier himself didn’t think this tune would be as popular as it was and they released it as almost a throw away track.

Whilst they’ve made better tunes, this is still supremely catchy and has a great laid back vibe which is only enhanced by the video which predominantly features chicks in G-bangers running up and down the beach near Coney Island as Guru, Greg Nice and Smooth B throw down a verse a piece and Premier transformer scratches horns over the top .

With a forceful beat based around the ‘Synthetic Substitution’ break and a good filtered pass of the bass line from Clarence Wheeler and The Enforcers instrumental cover of ‘Hey Jude’ by the Beatles, the track is a driving force to be reckoned with and features scratched in snippets of another Nice & Smooth tune ‘Funky For You’ which is good in its own right.

<Check Red Alert in the background and the significant repping of Cross Colours >

Actually on a few of these old Gangstarr tunes, Premier loved cutting in samples of artists he either produced for or worked with, so tunes like ‘Just to Get A Rep’ which was on 1991’s ‘Step Into The Arena’ album, also feature a snippet of ‘Funky For You’, notably in the “Stick up kid is out to tax” line which is used prominently in the chorus (such as at the 25 second mark on the clip below).

‘Hard To Earn’ also featured ‘Now You’re Mine’, which stands as one of the best tunes Gangstarr made IMO.

Despite this album having some great cuts and being a little more hard ass than its predecessors (perhaps in response to the gangster rap onslaught of the previous two years), Guru and Premier took a break from recording after this and didn’t release another album for about 4 years. Whilst that is a shame, it allowed Guru the latitude to do his second Jazzamataz album and Premier to cut some great tracks for Group Home and Jeru (amongst others).

Although they wouldn’t hit the heights of this album again, Gangstarr certainly left a legacy of great material and ‘Check The Technique’ with its massive Marlena Shaw sample isn’t merely bragging or just trying to rip of Eric B and Rakim when it states:

” Your raps crazy wack, so don’t try to pull that
You’re lackin’ the vernacular, I’m slappin’ ya and cappin’ ya
And closin’ your jaw, cause you can’t mess with Gangstarr
The Guru and Premier always dope with the blessed beats
Dance your ass off hobbes, check the technique”.

Check it.

Written and Posted by Horatio Cornblower. Copyright 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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Umbrella magazine

umb8_cover_lo

Since the weekend I’ve been delving into the eight issues of Umbrella magazine that have been published to date.

This was purely a chance discovery, due to a passing reference in the new edition of the Phil Thornton “Casuals” book (a review of that is coming post haste).

This is a sort of leftfield men’s mag, with articles on design, dressing, food, travel, music and socio-political issues. It exists mainly online, where all issues can be read or downloaded to iphone/ipad for free. Or, in an unabashed appeal to commodity fetishism, if any particular issue takes your fancy you can order a hard copy for your collection for about US$20 a pop.

As you would expect from a publication referenced in Phil Thonton’s book, at least some of the publishers seem to have a strong association with the terraces, so there’s plenty of football articles, the menswear section often focuses on Stone Island and CP Company and much love is shown to Boys’ Own fanzine. The first issue features a frothing-at-the-mouth appreciation of “Selected Ambient Works” by Aphex Twin and a reminisence by “Away Days” author Kevin Sampson on how he made the “Short Film about Chilling” documentary with The Farm. So this nails the “Eastern Terraces” demographic dead-on.

A kind of Wallpaper magazine by and for post-casuals, presented in nice, intellectually-undemanding (I mean that in the best possible way), bite-size, easily digestible chunks.

Highly recommended!

http://www.umbrellamagazine.co.uk/

Posted by Gunter Sacks

A fantastic comeback by L-Vis 1990

l-vis-1990-ballads

Finally caught up with the new L-Vis 1990 EP on Night Slugs.

A couple of years ago I was quite into his “Forever You” EP.  I’m always going to be a sucker for 80s Chi-town style house tracks, so I lapped up cuts like “Do You Remember?”.

After that L-Vis 1990 released his hotly anticipated debut album on a major label. But it was a case of going too pop, too fast. From what I understand the album didn’t get the mainstream success he was expecting either.  Frankly, I can’t be assed to even post any tracks off that album.

After that I pretty much gave up on him, and went on my way thinking that Jam City was by far the most talented of the Night Slugs crew and that maybe the only other one who could hold a candle to him was Bok Bok (I really must do a long post about the greatness of Jam City soon). So even when people started saying some good things about L-Vis 1990’s more recent releases like his entry into the “Club Constructions” series, I couldn’t get motivated  to pay attention.

But finally the amount of praise being heaped on his new “Ballads” EP made me believe that rehabilitation might be at hand. The clincher was when critic after critic asserted that L-Vis 1990 was operating in a Jam City mode now.  I still consider “Classical Curves” to be maybe THE best album of 2012, and was surprised that almost no other producer had been able to pick up that baton and run with it.

And indeed, Ballads has the stamp of Classical Curves-era Jam City all over it. The cover artwork is like a sister piece to the Classical Curves cover. And if you heard this without knowing who the producer was, you would guess Jam City immediately.  But that’s not a bad thing when Classical Curves was so amazing and so few producers have been able to ape it thus far.

Of the three tracks on here, my two favorites are “Ballad 4D” and “Signal”. “Not Mad” is also good, but not quite as engaging and perhaps tainted by having been previously released next to so much mediocre material on the “Night Slugs Allstars Vol. 2” compilation.

To complete the whole conceptual feel of it, Night Slugs made this lovely short promotional video for the EP. I can’t believe that as of writing it only has 887 view on You Tube while some absolute tripe by Skrillex probably has a 1,000,000 views…so check it out.  Some true futurist bizness innit…..

Posted by Gunter Sacks

Cracked Actor (1975 Bowie Doco)

So I recently tracked down a good quality copy of the 1975 documentary ‘Cracked Actor’. Filmed during David Bowie’s 1974 Diamond Dogs tour of the United States, it features him during his thin white duke stage when he was living up to the character’s name in a blizzard of powder and paranoia.

Originally made by the BBC for their Omnibus series, the film follows Bowie from stage to stage and from hotel room to hotel room, as he meanders his way round the western states in the back of a limo and prepares for his gigs.

Bowie is an evasive interviewee and like Mick Jagger is well aware of public personas and myth making. You rarely get the feeling he’s being entirely honest with the documentarians, but merely playing a character, despite this tour being about him supposedly ridding himself of his most famous one (Ziggy Stardust).

There are some good performances in here though and the viewer is made aware of just how extravagant a 1970s stage show could be – with Bowie riding cherry pickers and emerging out of huge jewelled gloves whilst singing songs like Rebel Rebel and Moonage Daydream.

The film (though interesting in parts) is far from superlative, so for the casual Bowie fan like myself this film is mainly a curio piece. As with the Rolling Stones ‘Cocksucker Blues’ (1972), I was principally watching to catch glimpses of insanity and rampant chemical abuse such as the following example at the 5:40 mark on the clip below…

Or 22 seconds into this one…

The director seems a bit confused sometimes at what direction he’s taking, but at only 54 minutes it nonetheless manages to document one of the more special periods of Bowie’s career, if not one of the most famous.

Written and Posted by Horatio Cornblower. Copyright 2013. All Rights Reserved.

Sergio Tacchini Colorado Windrunner

I like me some Tacchini.

Nice materials and generally tasteful styles which along with Fila epitomise a certain era of the 1980s. Created by Italian tennis player Sergio Tacchini in the mid 1960s in order to add a splash of colour to an otherwise staid looking game, the brand later expanded to various types of casual wear over the next few decades.

Notable wearees include John McEnroe at the height of his career as well as Aryton Senna and a variety of casuals who discovered them whilst abroad on away games.

The Colorado Windrunner Hooded Jacket is a classic looking match day top. Not dissimilar to the Sergio Tacchini – Masters McEnroe Tracksuit Top, it is a simple two colour piece made from light material with a zip right down the middle. It is a considerably less well known (or obvious) design than the Dallas (which featured so prominently in Nick Love’s film ‘The Business’), but more contemporary and stylish in my opinion.

There is a logo stamped on the zipper as well as one on the chest and an inner piece features on the inside of the collar to keep the wearer warm. The top itself is very light and comfortable with good sized pockets on the sides.

I got mine in navy blue…

But they are of course available in a variety of colours…

Not too pricey and worth checking out.

Written and posted by Horatio Cornblower.

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Embrace Vice

It’s no secret that I think the last few years has been a golden age for TV, completely surpassing and supplanting the movies.  It still continues with shows like Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones (the successor to The Sopranos), Dexter, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Archer, Justified, Louie, Mad Men, Spartacus, Walking Dead, and True Blood.

Therefore, as a major fan of HBO (Sopranos, Oz, Deadwood, The Wire) and an occasional reader of Vice magazine, I was truly excited to hear that HBO has started a Vice reality news show – a mix of gonzo journalism and danger tourism.  For those of you who don’t know – Vice is a mag that revels in articles and guides such as Stalking for Beginners, Pickpocket Pointers, My Babysitter Was a Gay Porn Star, Fuck The Police (No I Mean I really Fuck Them), Sammy Devil Jr. The Candy Man Was a Satanist, Stompers Reunion: Look Back in Anger – A Guide to Hooliganism, The Vice Guide to Shagging Muslims and Bukkake On My Face: Welcome to the Ancient Tradition of the Japanese Facial.

Over the last few years, the Vice company has expanded into a kind of international journalism-meets-adventure tourism that was first laid out in a web series called “Vice Guide to Travel” and now, in a new HBO show in half-hour news form, will bring together two stories exploring, as host and Vice co-founded Shane Smith puts it, the “absurdities of the human condition.” The first episode travels to Maguindanao in the Philippines to look at election violence, then to Kabul to examine an epidemic of child suicide bombers. The second follows North Korean defectors as they’re smuggled to Thailand where they’ll be able to apply for refugee status, then journeys to the Line of Control between India and Pakistan in Kashmir.  The third episode screened last night in the states.

The season is now going to run to ten episodes and is apparently devoting its entire June 14 season finale to the show’s recent week-long trip to North Korea. VICE founder and series host Shane Smith had previously reported from within North Korea (see Vice Guide to Travel – http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL10943F1A08C72A17), but was barred from returning to the country because of his critical documentaries on the regime. Determined to return and chronicle the reclusive country under its new leader, Kim Jong-un, Smith sent a team of correspondents and a production crew, including VICE correspondent Ryan Duffy, NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman, and three players from the Harlem Globetrotters on a cultural exchange in late February. Dennis Rodman in North Korea !  The potential for cultural exchange is enormous, particularly if he’s dressed up as a ladyboy.

Worth checking out.

Posted by: Porfirio Crane