Click Banner To Return To Homepage

Friday, July 31, 2009


Being an Indiana native (Bloomington to be exact), I was excited to find out that Jason Bitner is creating a documentary film based on his incredible LaPorte, Indiana book. LaPorte, Indiana the book is a collection of beautiful photographs Jason purchased from local LaPorte establishment B & J's American Cafe during a road trip meal break. Bitner, who spent hours sifting through hundreds of photos, hand selected each photograph to create an unforgettable visual time capsle. I instantly fell in love with the book after purchasing it three summers ago.

Lucky guy that I am, Jason agreed to do an extensive interview with me about the book. In case you missed it, here is the link.

Now, nearly two years since our interview, in which Jason hinted at a documentary film project, a film is in the works.

LaPorte, Indiana Trailer from Joe Beshenkovsky on Vimeo.

The film is going to be directed by Joe Beshenkovsky and produced by Bitner.

These guys need your help in raising funds for the film. They are trying to raise 7,500 dollars in the next three weeks. To find out more about making a donation, click here.

To learn more about the film, click here.

To purchase the Laporte, Indiana book click here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Producer Spotlight: Minnesota

I don't know if it's something in the water, I've been smoking some unusually good green, or it's just the general summertime vibe (doubtful, seeing that I live in Western Mass), but every single purchase and download as of late has sounded like pure fire to me. I feel like I've been some sort of zone with selecting music.

Example: A few days ago while mellowing out after work, I was digging through a folder of random 90's tracks I'd download from a blog months ago. One of the tracks in the folder was Money Boss Players' "What U Saying". Prior to the other day, I had never given this song a listen.

I was floored by the production on it. Minnesota, a major contributor to some of the best MBP material, makes one of the most unconventional street bangers I've ever heard. Somehow the happy swing/big bandish sound of his beat perfectly complements the not so happy lyrics Money Boss spits.

Download Money Boss Players "What U Saying".

After obsessing over "What U Saying" for a few days, I decided to throw together some other tracks produced by Minnesota. I was aware of some of his major productions (“I’m Not A Player”), while there were a few that I was stunned to learn he had produced (i.e. Jemini's "Brooklyn Kids" and Pudgee's "Think Big." ) This is far from a complete list (just check the man’s Discogs credits), but more of a little appetizer to show you just how talented this guy is.

Download "We Don't Need It" by Lil' Kim.

This Lil' Kim joint was a complete rediscovery for me. In fact, I’ve been kind of rediscovering the entire Hardcore album as of late and realizing that it’s kind of ill. I mean, that song “Drugs”? That’s some classic shit. While some might write this one off as an overly glitzy late 90’s production, I dig the sample choice and composition. Not quite sure how I feel about the X Rated call and response chorus. You be the verdict.

Download "Think Big" by Pudgee Feat Biggie and Lord Tariq.

I remember first hearing this bad boy on Mister Cee's Best of Biggie mix tape. I was kind of in awe of Pudgee when I first hear him spit; he had some unmatchable energy and funny punch lines. According to this interview with Pudgee, Lord Tariq appears on the track as a sort of deal made between Pudgee and Minessota. The beat used on “Think Big” was originally going to be used by the Money Boss Players. Minnesota would eventually offer the beat to Pudgee in exchange for getting Lord Tariq a slot on the song. The rest, as they say, is history. Sadly this track never got an official release due to sample clearance issues.

Download "World Go Round" by Naughty By Nature.

This is a surprising cut that didn't remember or skipped over until doing research for this post. To be honest, I never really gave Poverty's Paradise a good listen, even though I own that jammy. I found it in a cut out bin somewhere and basically bought it for “Clap Your Hands”. This one is topically appropriate for the excellent use of a Michael Jackson sample. I’m also really feeling the baseline Minnesota utilizes here.

Download “Brooklyn Kids” by Gemini The Gifted One

Fellow blogger DJ Espionage described the combination of sample and drums on "Brooklyn Kids" to "marching through mud with a swagger." I concur. And I mean that in a good way. This is such a somber, soul shattering song that I'm surprised Minnesota and Jemini never worked together again. The unmatchable quality of this song alone makes me wish they'd done an entire album together. “Brooklyn Kids” might be the pick of this litter.

Download “Killed in the Crap Game” by Money Boss Players.

This is one of the more bugged out/experimental productions I’ve heard from Minnesota. It features some crazy distorted guitar samples and some nice “The Message” interpolations on the hook. There's also a shout out from Lord Tariq to Springfield, Mass. Well, that is if you consider threatening the lives of state troopers a shout out. With Lord Tariq spitting so hard on a few of these tracks I’m surprised that much of the population at large knows him for little else besides “Déjà vu”.

Download "Gangsta" by Trick Daddy Feat Baby and Scarface.

An interesting collabo of Trick, Baby, and Scarface. Not my favorite song of the lot, but definitely worth a listen. I like it because it shows the range of artists that Minnesota has worked with.

Download "Modern Marvel" by Mos Def.

This is one of many tunes Minnesota has made for Mos. It’s definitely different, but I’m feeling Mos singing on the opening and like the general vibe of the track. I know The New Danger was no Black on Both Sides, but it certainly had its moments. When an album fails to meet lofty expectations, people seem to have a hard time admitting that it had even a few redeeming moments.

Does the track have to be nearly ten minutes long? Maybe not. But it’s a nice modern soul effort from this duo and Minnesota really seems to have nailed the vibe Mos was going for.

Download "The Panties" by Mos Def.

I love this song. Fucking love it. If Mos crooning over this incredibly smooth sample doesn’t get you and your main squeeze in the mood for love, I don’t know what to tell you. I love how Minnesota waits to drop the drums for nearly two minutes. It’s especially effective because the percussion is not at all what I was expecting the first time someone played this for me. A+ effort from both of these guys.

Download "NY Giants" by Big Pun featuring M.O.P.

Although NY Giants can’t stand up against “I’m Not A Player”, it is a pretty cool track. I like the collaboration of Pun and M.O.P. I think Pun as a solo MC fit nicely with Danze and Fame. I wonder if Pun would have continued using Minnesota’s soundscapes if he was alive today.

There is very little background info on Minnesota available online. If you have some you want to share, holla. To read a cool interview with him, click here.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Cold Duck Complex presents Freshwater: Bad Love

Click to Enlarge.

If you're from Western Massachusetts and involved in the local music scene, you're probably familiar with Cold Duck Complex. I've been following them since I was in 10th grade and consider myself fortunate to have seen them rip countless venues from Amherst, MA to New York City. In fact, I'm one of those privileged enough to witness their birth at local coffee shops and high school talent shows. Growing up with the guys in CDC and watching them grow as people and musicians has been a privilege.

As is to be expected with any band, there have been some changes since the early days of Cold Duck. They've changed keyboard players, experimented with new styles, and moved to different parts of the country. What has stayed the same is their impeccable ability to make great music. That ability is sure to be present on the groups' new project, Cold Duck Complex presents Freshwater: Bad Love. Freshwater promises to satisfy CDC loyalists while simultaneously starting a new chapter for group members. Bassist Joe Cardozo, fresh off of kick starting indy label M.I.T.E.!, is central to the new album. Cardozo calls Freshwater, "a vehicle for me to continue to produce, perform, and record in collaboration with Platypus Complex (MC), Makaya (Drums), Jeff (Keys), and Darby (Keys), as well as other musicians, emcees, and vocalists, while still keeping the Cold Duck Complex collective intact."

This new album already gets a big co-sign based on the tracks I've been able to check out. I can't wait to hear the final product. For folks on the east coast, there will be a small tour to celebrate the albums release. Dates are as follows.

Cold Duck Complex/Freshwater CD Release shows:
July 21, 8:30pm -- The Annex, New York, NY
July 23, 10pm -- The Lily Pad, Cambridge, MA
July 24, 10pm -- The Iron Horse, Northampton, MA

To wet your appetite, I've decided to include two choice cuts off of Cold Duck's past two albums.

The first, "I've Got a Friend", is a personal favorite. I vividly remember it's premiere at a show in Northampton, MA. Centered around an abusive relationship, I still get goosebumps when I hear this one. "I've Got a Friend" comes from their most recent recorded effort, Enough.

Download "I've Got A Friend".

Buy the Enough album.

This next track is off of their 2003 release Figureheads. The song offers Platypus Complex's unique perspective on the events and aftermath of 9/11. It's a very emotional tune that features some of the most intense and hard hitting lyrics ever spit by PC. I'll always remember the context of first hearing "Wake Up", in early demo form, on a car ride down south. It was played for me while driving past NYC for the first time post 9/11. The song, mixed with the visual intensity of the towers being gone from the skyline, made everyone in the car go silent.

Download "Wake Up".

Buy the Figureheads album.

I bought the lead single (which kicks ass) off of the new Freshwater project at Amazon for 89 measly cents. You can do the same by clicking here.

Robot Video- KRS One and Buckshot

This is a special video for me because one of my best friends, dancer Jedi, is featured in it. We grew up together, went to high school together, go on summer vacation together with the same group of friends every summer (for the past 11 years!), etc. I want to give him huge props for following his dreams and getting to perform in the video of a true hip hop ICON. Check for him around the 2:08 mark.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Rugged Man Be Who The Man Is

I just got an email from my dude RA The Rugged Man, co-writer of the recent horror flick Bad Biology, about his upcoming directorial debut. Rugged's first film is called God Take, God Give. According to RA, it is going to be “an insane mockumentary” based on the life of his father, Staff Sgt. John A. Thorburn. If you read my articles, you may remember this interview I did with RA that focused on Staff Sgt. Thorburn and the importance of the song "Uncommon Valor". For those unfamiliar with the song, RA rhymes a biographical verse about his father's Vietnam war experiences alongside Vinnie Paz over a Stoupe beat. Upon hearing the song, I instantly put RA's verse in my all-time Top 5. It hasn't moved out of my personal Top 5 yet. I'm happy to see Staff Sgt. Thorburn and RA continuing to collaborate on creative projects. To read the full write-up of God Take, God Give over at Fangoria, click here.

Download "Uncommon Valor" by Jedi Mind Tricks featuring RA The Rugged Man.

Bonus: I've really been feeling this joint I randomly discovered yesterday. "Ring Kings" by Hostyle featuring RA The Rugged Man

Friday, July 3, 2009

Slaughterhouse- Move On

Slaughterhouse Joell Ortiz Joe Budden Royce Da 5'9 Crooked I

Lately I haven't been able to get enough of this track. I'm particularly impressed by Joell Ortiz, who I had very mixed feelings about. I also love to see Royce doing his thing; it seems like he’s working hard on making a big comeback. This is about as good as it gets if you're into multiple rappers just annihilating a beat.