PRhyme's DJ Premier and Royce da 5'9" at the Highline Ballroom
Phoned-in sets are closer to a norm than a rarity in hip-hop, but there was certainly no lack of energy during the performances of DJ Premier and Royce da 5'9" — who together make PRhyme — at the Highline Ballroom last night. DJ Premier's ear for flipping cool jazz and shag-carpet soul samples, along with his penchant for pairing them with dusty drum grooves, has made him one of the most influential producers in hip-hop. Premier is still good at the key aspects of his job (from riling up the crowd to frenziedly dicing up vocal snippets on the turntables), and Royce — a close and longtime Eminem affiliate — raps like a much less world-weary artist with a great deal more to prove. Playing to a packed-to-the-gills Highline Ballroom at the outset of a lengthy national tour was no doubt responsible for a good deal of the duo's unflagging energy, but it was also clear that both parties were propelled by a still-fresh excitement for their new material and the younger talent joining them onstage.
Gang Starr flanking Fat Beats owner Joseph Abajian, who unfortunately saw this coming
In 1997, Paul Rosenberg, the attorney of an aspiring rapper from Detroit calling himself Eminem, was walking along 6th Avenue in the West Village with ten copies of an independent 12-inch vinyl single titled "Just Don't Give a Fuck." His mission was simple: try to persuade a record store called Fat Beats to stock it. He'd heard the store mentioned on Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito's WKCR college-radio show, and thought it crucial to launching the career of an underground rap artist.
Sound of the City roots for the home team and so does Impose Magazine's Jeremy Krinsley.
Alia Raza did the above video for Violens, a band that plays soft-heeled indie pop that is not in any way Lansing-Dreiden light, despite the band's frontman being first and foremost a member of that collective. For better... or worse, "Violens are just a good, honest rock band."
What happens when the internet crowns a band like Animal Collective for the umpteenth time? The past coronations for Feels, Sung Tongs and Strawberry Jam (average Pitchfork score: 9.1) would have been enough to secure their critical patronage for a few lifetimes, but isn't it dangerous to throw so much creature worship into the laps of one mild-mannered, thoughtful, potentially brilliant, endlessly engaging and surprising group of musicians? Sigh. Join the bandwagon or get rolled under it! Best of 2009! 9.6! Or the most ebullient (god save Animal Collective), by Uncut, as pointed out by Idolator: "Right now Merriweather Post Pavilion doesn't just seem like one of the first great records of 2009, it feels like one of the landmark American albums of the century so far."
Love, theft and violence as the recession hits New York's mainstream hip-hop full-scale: 50 Centslashes the price of his mansion, faces a cancelled reality TV show, loses his car deal(?), and bungles another single, while Jay-Z loses bank support for his hotel project, Jim Jones jumps on Jay-Z's best friend (while shopping for high end scarfs), throws self at cops, but not before jumping on an Asher Roth track. (Asher Roth jumps on terrorist? We're still in disbelief.) Queen Latifah's robbed but repping Jenny Craig for another year (keeping those pounds down). Plus, Lil' Kimvows revenge for those who might defile her via Biggy biopics, as more of his demos surface.
These Are Powers are back in town after a mammoth tour through Europe. Their album is coming out in February, they're playing a lot of upcoming shows, they lit up Cake Shop for New Years, and are receiving some of their first legitimate hate commentary on Vegan. Consequentially, Todd P is waking up from an early winter semi-hibernation of sorts with more regular, larger events, including a big-ass Brooklyn vs. Baltimore faceoff on the 30th (These Are Powers are playing it).
It's been a good 24 hours for rap nerds on the Internet. First came the link to a two hour Rosenberg late night HOT 97 DJ show made up entirely of DJ Premier production ("And to let you know-I did not get close to everything. This is just SOME of the best of Primo.") This is, to put it plainly, what rap sounds like to someone born in the '80s on the East Coast--the pure, undiluted essence of the thing. It is amazing how easy these 140 minutes are to listen to; it's like breathing.
The show doubled as a teaser for a 92Y talk between Premier and Rosenberg that went down last night. The world being what it is, Nah Right has the video up already, and the trivia is absurd: the origin of the "Nas Is Like" sample, the revelation that Biggie never knew how to drive, the Lord Finesse record that never made Ready to Die, Premier on porn, and on and on. This is absolutely destroying my day.