Pop Life

Saturday, January 31, 2004


and you know what really sucks?
he just bought that scooter

  • A friend of mine mentioned this story to me last night and I had to find out more but in Taiwan, a dead whale exploded in the middle of a city street (see pic above!) as workers were transporting it to a research facility. Unfortunately, the heat in Southern Taiwan caused the internal gases within the whale to build up and next thing you know, BOOM, it's a shower of whale guts. As if that isn't great enough, there's this hilarious quote from the Taipei Times:
      Scores of men have visited Tainan's Sutsao Wild Life Reservation Area where professors, students and volunteers were working on the corpse of a male whale, because they were curious about the whale's genitalia. The whale's penis measures 1.6m in length and it looks like a thick water pipe. More than 100 Tainan City resi-dents, mostly men, have reportedly gone to see the corpse to "experience" the size of its penis.
    (Now, you can't bring up a new exploding whale story without mentioning the granddaddy of all exploding whale stories.)

  • William Hung mania continues. The latest is this radio interview that Star 100.7FM did with William. Not only is the American Idol rejectee down-to-earth candid, but he was such a good sport, singing Phil Colllins' "Two Worlds" for the radio DJs. Like I said before: Hung is one bad ass mo-fo. I mean - you just know he's like the greatest karaoke singer ever.

    What I like most about him is that he's utterly sincere. There's nothing pretentious about dude - he's just this super real guy. Apparently, he's getting to be a regular celeb on campus, where I'm still waiting to see my proposed t-shirt: "He Bangs!: I Hang With Hung" appear. If you haven't seen the footage of William yet, here's a Windows Media file with this audition). Peep how he takes his criticism like an adult, unlike all those weepy whiners who walked out, crying like babies, because Simon said some mean words. Hung was a straight souljah, no doubt).

  • Same friend who told me about the exploding whale story also mentioned Mr. Cranky's Movie Reviews. I'm sure he's not new to a lot of other folks but this was my first time stumbling upon him. Not every review written on the site is quite as hilarious as others, but I had a five-minute laughing/coughing fit reading their review of Kangaroo Jack. Not having seen the movie, I can't speak as to how accurate they are, but I find it hard to believe that the movie could be any funnier than the review itself - here's one of the best paragraphs from it:
      Only once my eyes adjusted to the darkness of the theater and I saw exactly which segment of America was flocking to this movie did I realize that bottom was yet to come. Near the front, a woman sat in the middle of a ring of empty seats, weeping profusely. Ten rows back sat another man, reciting the Lord's prayer with feverish intensity. In the back row, two homeless men were already well into a masturbation contest. In the front row, three kids being force-fed quality time by their weekend dad stopped licking dried soda off the armrests only long enough to start screaming in terror once "Kangaroo Jack" was finally unveiled.

  • This is such a cool story - in rural Cambodia, residents have email access through a travelling WiFi connection that rolls through on scooter five days a week. Folks are already calling it the electronic pony express. (spotted on gizmodo)

  • Speaking of cool stories, this one had me wishing it was real: "Disgruntled Asian Tattoo Artist Inks His Revenge" - all ya'll folks who see dumb ass hipsters who rock kanji tattooes, without knowing what the lettering actually means, know the deal. (shout out to the SJ Metro's Todd Inoue for forwarding this over)

  • This is probably old news to many of you but I just discovered Sub Pop's parody of Pitchforkmedia.Com, called Pop Dork. Nothing but comedy.

  • Speaking of Pitchforkmedia.Com though, they have one of the most entertaining and innovative ways of writing a music review I've ever seen. Scroll down and witness the full majesty of Nick Sylvester's review of Daft Punk's new Daft Club. Awesome.

  • Dan Leroy of the Cleveland Scene wrote a solid piece on why hip-hop albums never seem to come out on time (all my fellow writers holla!). I spotted that story on Clyde Smith's Hip Hop Logic blog, which is also where I discovered Hiphopnews's very useful album release schedule, though, as Leroy points out, take all those dates with some large sprinkles of salt.
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  • Thursday, January 29, 2004


    I alluded in my past blogs to the fact that I've been dissed on record by a few folks, namely the People Under the Stairs, Louis Logic and most recently, Jean Grae. People have constantly asked me what the back story is and if I planned to respond in some fashion. In this month's new issue of URB Magazine (with Adam Freeland on the cover), where I've been an editor and writer for over eight years, I wrote an editorial ("Diatribe" as they call them in the mag) that deals with these issues.

    There's a problem - the magazine printed the wrong editorial. Sort of.

    What happened was that I wrote an initial editorial that was a tad bit angrier but later decided that I needed to shed more light than heat and try to look at the big picture rather than get caught up in some tit-for-tat beef. So, I revised the editorial and sent it again but somewhere along the way, a miscommunication must have developed and URB ended up printing the original "O-Dub is kind of pissy" version and not the "O-Dub, Elder Statesmen" edition. About 70% of the same content appears in both versions and it's not like the original editorial says anything I don't truly feel but as a matter of public record, I much rather have the revised version run because I think it's more meaningful and forward-looking.

    Therefore: HERE IS MY EDITORIAL as it was meant to be seen.

    Tell a friend.


      As an addendum, Jean Grae recently wrote an open letter to Allhiphop.com. It is, to say the least, a little despairing as Grae gives voice to the frustrations that independent artists have the world over. Shit is tough out there and the human cost - like in any endeavour where the chips are stacked against you - can be heavy. Notice, I say all this with no judgment, certainly no sarcasm, and absolutely no residual bitterness. I'm genuinely sorry Grae is having a tough time with it, particularly because I think - as I always have - that she's talented. And as my editorial makes clear, I think she acted way out of line in attacking me but that does not mean I don't understand some of the frustrations she deals with. (originally seen at hiphopmusic.com)

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    Wednesday, January 28, 2004


    Ok - I admit, I'm totally obsessed with DJ Danger Mouse's The Grey Album (available now!) I went back and listened to the Beatles' The White Album for the first time ever and was just amazed by how good the Beatles were. I mean, yeah, I feel stupid saying that since they're the fucking Beatles for god's sake but despite growing up, listening to them and buying their anthologies, I never listened to The White Album in its entireity and - damn - it's incredible. If you slept like me, go get this album, now.

    Second of all, I'm absolutely floored at Danger Mouse's deftness in how he chops up the Beatles' songs into little sonic fragments and then rebuilds them into his beats for Jay-Z. There's nothing lazy to his sampling here at all - he's doing Timbaland-type work to program these tracks to perfection. Check out what he does on "99 Problems" - he's lifting at least three or four differnt elements from "Helter Skelter" to make that beat happen.

    Me and Hua were so impressed by the quality of DM's production, we did the ubėr-nerd thing and actually cataloged the samples (excluding drums) that Danger Mouse uses for The Grey Album. This is as close to accurate as we've figured out so far but it may yet evolve with more listening and input.

    The Grey Album/White Album Sample List.

    (FYI: I have a review upcoming in the San Francisco Bay Guardian that properly reviews the album)

    Also, speaking of interesting remix news - Hiphopsite.Com News is reporting the possibility of an Illmatic remix album.
      "there are rumors that Columbia is jumping on the remix bandwagon by discussing plans to remix Nas’ Illmatic, with a similar take on how the Black Album was initially supposed to appear (ten tracks, ten different producers). Only problem, word is Columbia are having problems tracking down the original masters of the LP.

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    staying one step ahead of the Beatles' copyright attorneys

    I can't remember for certain but I'm fairly sure that Hua first put me up on this Danger Mouse: Grey Album mix-CD which takes Jay-Z's BLack Album and remixes it by only using tracks off of the Beatles' White Album.

    Now...as an idea, you might either find this incredibly brilliant or ridiculously pretentious and as Hua pointed out, it's still a gimmick, high-concept or not. After all, The Grey Album follows right on the footsteps of Lt. Dan's The Black Album: Back to Basics, MF Doom's Nastradoomus and the one that started it all: 9th Wonder's God's Stepson. This all said, gimmick doesn't mean it's bad, and in this case, I think The Grey Album is fantastic, unquestionably the best among all the remix-CDs that have come out yet.

    It's not just that Danger Mouse challenges himself to only use one album as the source for all his remixes - that's part of the gimmick. It's that he does a great job on refitting Jay-Z over these various beats pilfered from the Fab 4. Not everything works - for example, DM's remix for "Public Service Announcement" is rhythmically awkward, like it's always a half step off somewhere. However, the bulk of the mixes sound fantastic and DM sounds like he and Prefuse have been practicing their MPC skills since his drum programming delivers more chops than a Chinese cleaver. The other thing too - Danger Mouse avoids using the really obvious melodic signatures from most of the Beatles' songs. One exception is "As My Guitar Gently Weeps," (a track that Ghostface also recently used on a mixtape exclusive cut) which DM laces underneath "What More Can I Say".

    My favorite remix so far is DM's take on "Justify My Thug", whose original (by DJ Quik) was probably one of my least favorite tracks on the album. This time around, DM hushes the vibe, laying down a mellow guitar line that is surprisingly effective, and as a result, the song sounds totally different (and in my opinion, better).

    In just a few weeks, The Grey Album is going to be joined by lord know's how many other similar projects (refer back to Hua's blog for more info on those). Not having heard The Brown Album or The White Album or The Magenta Album (ok, that last one was a joke...but who knows?), I can't really say who's will be the best. But, Danger Mouse lays down a challenge to be outdone and I'm willing to put down good money that his mix will reign supreme at the end of it all.
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    Tuesday, January 27, 2004


    and it makes great smoothies too

    Turnbalism might be a "creative cul-de-sac" as I've read elsewhere but I'm heartened to know that folks like Q-Bert are striving ahead - naysayers be damned. I mean, this new QFO Turntable w/ integrated crossfader, at the very least, LOOKS cool and that has to count for something. Plus, Q-Bert makes it seem so damn easy.

    I'm still waiting to see if scratching is going to be able to go anywhere now that everyone has seemingly learned every trick in the book. I've met 18 year olds who've been scratching since junior high school and even they're jaded. I thought some of this new digital technology, like Stanton's Final Scratch or Serato's Scratch Live would push things forward but I have yet to see major shifts along these lines so far.

    New addition: I just read about Numark's new PT-01 Portable Turntable (see pic below) and while I'm glad more companies are bringing back portables into the market, you'd think someone on their design staff could create something better than this plain box. I mean, it looks fully functional but with other competitors like Vestax and their Handytrax out there, you really need to step up your game and get smaller or at least, better looking. Please, please, will someone convince Audio Technica to bring back the Mister Disc/Sound Burger (scroll down and click on the "Mister Disc" box). Seriously, these were some of the best portables ever made - I've owned three over the years (current one is fire engine red, zow!) and even though I've collected over half a dozen others, including the venerable Columbia GP-3 and the Handytrax, the Mister Disc/Sound Burger is still top ranking.

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    write your own caption

  • My man Joseph Patel, aka Jazzbo, aka Joey Crack, aka Joseph and Mary Jesus Chain, aka oh, never mind...has finally got his Crunkster blog going. Consider yourselves warned.

  • People can argue over who the best music writer is out there, but hands-down, XXL's Elliot Wilson is the most entertaining scribe in the business. Up until he helped improve the mag's editorial content, he was pretty much the best (and sometimes only) reason to read the magazine. Read his thoughts on this ridiculous Eminem/Source debacle.

  • This is not a joke: apparently, Al Franken decked a heckler outside of a Dean rally. Dude is hardcore - I can't wait for his talk radio show to kick off. (spotted at the blueprint)

    yeah, this dude,
    sucker punching fools.

  • There is a fascinating set of conversations brewing about Peter Landesman's NY Times Magazine story on sex slaves in America. On one side, there has been a movement (whether big or small, I'm not sure) to discredit Landesman's methodology, even casting aspirations that his reporting might be suspect. Jack Shafer in Slate has reported on it and so has blogger Daniel Radosh in a series of entries. Offering a retort against Shafer, Radosh and other doubting Thomas-es has been Sasha Frere-Jones on his blog, as well as Julianne Shepherd whose comments are posted on Sasha's blog. The real heat comes from Jessica Hopper's scorching post.

  • On lighter blog fare, Hiphopsite.Com's J-Smooth takes on Jessica Hopper of tinyluckygenius fame. It's all love but they've taken this "play beef" to new heights now that J has recorded - are you ready for this? - a battle song dissing Jessica. Shit is so hot, I hear Dame Dash and El-P are in a bidding war to sign J-Smooth to the Roc and Def Jux respectively.

  • Hey, I'm not exactly a big fan of how the FCC deals with obscenity on radio and television but I detest Clear Channel even more so I'm kind of happy that Clear Channel is getting slapped with a $755,000 fine for airing a sexually explicit and "inappropriate" program on four Florida stations. Of course, $755,000 to Clear Channel is probably what they collect in payola every hour but still...
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