Glenn Branca (8) and Frankie Lymon (9) Face Off As Our Search For The Quintessential New York Musician Continues

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The Round of 64 for Sound of the City's own version of March Madness—in which you, the Sound of the City voting public, help determine the quintessential New York musician—continues, and you get to vote on who makes it to Round Two. This face-off pits two evenly matched heavyweights: leading light Glenn Branca (seeded eighth in the Uptown division) against eternal teenager Frankie Lymon (in at nine). Entertain the arguments below, then cast your ballot at the bottom of the page.


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Brooklyn's Nitty Scott MC Gets A 16-Bar Break On BET

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"Oh, snap, it's the real-life rap Halle Berry..." And lo, with 16 bars rapped over an instrumental spun by underground hip-hop gate-keeper DJ Premier, a new star was born at the BET Hip-Hop Honors earlier this week. Well, maybe—at the very least, the performer in question saw her profile increase considerably after stepping up and spitting the standout rhyme in a freestyle cipher alongside Houston's Lecrae, singer/rapper Estelle, and a guy from France. (Hence the clip being dubbed "International Flow.")

Those lyrics came from the Brooklyn-based Nitty Scott MC, who has spent the formative period of her career doing what all other upcoming rappers are meant to do: releasing free songs and mixtapes, hoping that online buzz somehow sky-rockets, and (if we're being honest) praying for a lucky break. If early online reaction is anything to go by, Scott received her break the other night.

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Peter Rosenberg's What's Poppin' Vol. 1 Takes The New York Hip-Hop Scene's Pulse

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New York City rappers have been cast as something of the rap world's whipping boys for more than a few years now. Not only is it fashionable to paint the city's scene as still stuck in the '90s—that's, er, despite the man who effectively runs rap, old man Jay-Z, being pretty proud to hail from Brooklyn—even sympathetic profiles of the city's up-and-comers feel the need to ponder whether the MCs in question can break some sort of curse of the five boroughs. But this way of thinking is bunkum at best, and a cliché at worst.

But those people who've even casually cocked their ears toward the underground know that NYC rap has been doing just fine of late; a unified scene and a common vision have been slowly forming. Radio warrior Peter Rosenberg's first installment in the What's Poppin' mixtape series might not be an outright statement of hometown health, but with over half of the tape's 23 tracks showcasing artists who call NYC home, it's a timely reminder of the scene's promise.


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Download: Epstein's Post-Punky Beach Jam "Seashells & Starfish"

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Plenty of YIMBY pixels have already been spilled on Roberto Carlos Lange, whose project Helado Negro greeted us two years ago as a breezy summertime treat. His alter-alter-ego Epstein keeps HN's hazy asphalt steam heat, but trades the fluttering guitars for trunk-rattling 808s, and his vulnerable warble for vinyl crackle. Epstein turns Lange's love of hip-hop—birthed on Boogie Down Productions and Buffy the Human Beat Box—into a reverb-soaked, psychedelic throb. His recent album Sealess Sea (out now via Asthmatic Kitty) is built on record loops filtered through his trusty MPC—he describes his composition style as "grab a random stack and see what could get built." But the record's bubbly, gauzy feel feels more at home with contemporary loop-mutants like Panda Bear or Black Moth Super Rainbow. The humid, soupy drums on "Seashells & Starfish" are so heavily distended that the whole piece rolls over into post-punk territory, a gorgeous place where This Heat meets Prefuse 73.

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The Ten Best Hometown Productions By Large Professor

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Large Professor cuts an outside figure in the New York hip-hop scene these days. As a producer who also happens to rap in an endearingly economical manner, he's integral to any overview of hip-hop's storied golden era--he tutored under Paul C, contributed production input to Eric B & Rakim songs, scored a classic with his own group Main Source's Breaking Atoms, and helped kick-start the career of a [then] Nasty Nas when Queensbridge's golden son was still rocking a band-aid over his cheek in promotional pics. But since his late-'80s emergence, Large Pro's solo career has unfortunately faltered, with his intended solo debut The LP caught up in label politics and long-delayed, and his subsequent statement on Matador, First Class, resonating limply at best. As a producer, Large Pro has never caught a particularly pop break either--unlike, say, DJ Premier he's never been handed an opportunity to gallivant with a feisty chanteuse. Instead, he's maintained a dedication to working with grass-roots New York rap talent as if the very idea of cracking the mainstream is absurd.

Large Pro's newest project, the album Still On The Hustle, reunites him with fellow Queens resident Neek The Exotic--a pairing last heard on 2003's Exotic Is Raw set, for which Large Pro handled around half of the production duties. It's a release unlikely to trouble those whose RSS feeds frolic above rap's underground layer, but it's a collaboration that allows Large Pro to continue to dwell in a hip-hop world of his own creation. When I interviewed him a couple of years ago, he was late because he was cycling around Flushing Meadows Park while listening to his iPod--the impression given was that he'd prefer to produce at his own leisurely pace and on his own terms rather than pucker up and play the major-label game. It's a stance that should be applauded. With that in mind, here are ten commendable hometown anthems produced--as opposed to remixed, which would be a whole other lengthy listicle--by Flushing's finest self-proclaimed "live guy with glasses."

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In Memory Of Paul Shaffer's House, The Now-Shuttered Punk Outpost In The Bronx

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Over the last year, those who traveled to the Paul Shaffer House--from Brooklyn, Fordham, Columbia, and SUNY Purchase--had somehow become convinced that the punk house off the Bronx Park East stop was going to be around forever. It wasn't hard; on the best summer nights, the place seemed like Utopia, hosting shows with bills made up of house bands (Minutemen-influenced punk-funk outfit The Genuine Imitations, the all-brothers band No One and the Somebodies) and touring bands, fostering an atmosphere where strangers would be on a first-name basis with one another by night's end. The sets were long enough to work up a sweat, and the breaks gave you just enough time to cool off with a cigarette or make a beverage run to a nearby.

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Exclusive Download: Shark?, "You Don't Love Me (Anymore)"

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Mark Ruffalo is in a Brooklyn band?

Brooklyn's Shark? are a greasy splat of post-garage splendor, a remarkably consistent four-man blast of dive-bar jukebox rock who've been kicking around your Cake Shops and Don Pedros for a minute now--if we were in the business of using words like "underrated," we might consider slapping it on these guys. After giving away two homespun EPs at shows and online, Shark? crowd-sourced finances to record their first studio full-length last summer, ultimately raising more than $1500 and offering benefactors who donated more than $100 the chance to choose song subjects. So what topics did people pick? "Numbers, The Best Day Ever, Chicken N' Eggs, and a dog named Winston," frontman Kevin Diamond writes over e-mail. The tracks, he says, are "weird and fun, we're having a good time writing them. The song about The Best Day Ever is about meeting The Replacements."

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Help Make Art-School Dreams Come True at Throat-Razor's Saturday Benefit With AIDS Wolf, Holy Sheet, and More

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If this poster doesn't make you want to go, don't what will

Laura Perez-Harris is dreaming hard. A 2010 RISD grad, the Long Island native would like to create somewhere in New York where all artists could show their work--an unjuried space where any dreamer with vision could display their pieces, without barriers--and where art students and prospective art critics could pass through and give the displayed work sorts of free-form, unbiased feedback. And there'd be a movie theater and a performance venue and a studio space, and all of these would be "affordable and accessible." Lest this seem like a hash-pipe art-school figment, Perez-Harris would like to point out that there's a place just like this where she went to school in Providence, AS220, a venerable non-RISD-affiliated compound that's successfully done this very thing for nearly three decades, and there's no reason why Brooklyn shouldn't have one of its own.

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Astronomical Kid Will Perform "Stop Looking at My Moms" at the Village Voice Web Awards Tuesday

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via Astronomical Kid's Facebook

Tomorrow night, the Village Voice's first annual Web Awards will take place at Santos Party House from 7 to 10pm. Comedian Todd Barry will deliver the funny, our resident hokey pokey expert Christopher R. Weingarten will spit out the condensed version of his 140 Character Conference Twitter rant, and the winner of New York's best music site will be announced. (Much love to the kind typists who voted for Sound of the City, but we can't do that.) And now we can also announce that Astronomical Kid, the Bed-Stuy high-school freshman best known for defending his mama against sketchy-dude ogling, will open the ceremony with his much-blogged "Stop Looking at My Moms." We have no idea how this happened either.

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Q&A: DJ Spinna on Michael Jackson, Whose Music He Will Be Playing for You and Spike Lee This Weekend

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courtesy DJ Spinna
Spinna, as a little boy holding the Jackson 5 LP Get it Together

Michael Jackson would've turned 52 this Sunday. Undoubtedly many parties shall be thrown around the globe in his honor, but MJ's spirit will most likely be floating over Prospect Park for Spike Lee's second annual Brooklyn Loves Michael Jackson Birthday Celebration. Or if it's anything like last year's event--a sprawling, joyous, dancing-en-masse-in-a-field type of occasion--at the very least the King of Pop will be represented (somewhat accurately) by hundreds of well-meaning impersonators.

The man Spike Lee has entrusted with the gargantuan task of steering Sunday's playlist is Brooklyn's DJ Spinna. No fear, Spinna is no post-death bandwagon jumper; he's been throwing King of Pop tributes long before MJ's passing. And this weekend, the Brooklyn producer will be doing everything short of wearing one white glove to channel one of the most universally loved musicians in modern history. "I honestly feel like while I'm playing, he's living through me and talking to me," Spinna said during our recent chat in the lead up to MJ's birthday festivities. As well as speaking about being a tiny child with a big love for Michael and giving us a rundown of his favorite tunes, he also dropped some hints about what song may or may not be his closer. We'll give you a hint--it probably won't be "Man in the Mirror." That was last year.


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