The Wu-Tang Clan (4) Battle Rammellzee (13) As The Brooklyn Division Of SOTC March Madness Begins

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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. Today, our Brooklyn division kicks into action when its No. 4 seed, the Wu-Tang Clan, takes on No. 13, Rammellzee. Check out the arguments in favor of each, then cast your ballot at the Sound of the City Facebook page.

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People Who Died, Circa 2010

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Jay Reatard, gone but not forgotten.
It is depressing but accurate to note how inexorably the internet bends toward death, and how much of the work of professional critics these days is announcing it, verifying it, and making sense of it (often in that order, unfortunately). Michael Jackson, as in so many other things, proved prophetic in this regard; as we wrote last year, "the TMZ-led, wall-to-wall coverage of Jackson's last hours proved to be an augur of what, by August, was being dubbed the 'Summer of Death'--a phenomenon abetted if not entirely created by the ascendance of Twitter, where user avatars tinted green in solidarity with Iran's dissenters solemnly announced the passing of everyone from David Carradine to DJ AM to Gidget the Chihuahua." That's as true as it ever was. But it also bears remembering at the end of the year--work aside--how many of our best that we've lost. Sometimes it's easy to forget, but let's not. A brief roll call:

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Dave Tompkins Salutes Rammellzee: "I Will Miss Our Annual Halloween Phone Calls"

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Our love for both hip-hop scribe Dave Tompkins (read our "mega q&a" regarding his essential new vocoder-history book How to Wreck a Nice Beach here) and rap/street-art icon Rammellzee (read our obit, following his death a few weeks back, here), so the former's tribute to the latter is essential reading, the perfect combination of poignant and bewildering. Tough to pick a favorite line from stuff like "Men from Zurich challenged Rammel to a transversal alphabet drag race using letters on zip wires" or "Rammellzee once showed me a Polaroid of Rip Cord Rex wielding a leaf-blower under a strobe light. He was wearing a kimono." But to sum it all up, this might be it: "You have no idea what's going on, but just go with it, with the understanding that it may not bring you back in one piece, if ever, but if you worry about such things, then you're probably in the wrong place."

Download: Big Boi Mixtape For Dummies And The Rammellzee Tribute Elegy for a Gothic Futurist

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Between these, your BBQ playlist is covered: Big Boi's self-released offering (available here) is fairly self-explanatory and pretty stupendous; this blog-born Rammellzee mix, though, is equally essential for anyone looking to explore the dearly departed NYC hip-hop icon's back catalog beyond the (fairly) well-known "Beat Bop." It's accompanied by a fine essay/appreciation touting Ram as a crucial sci-fi hip-hop pioneer:

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Remembering Hip-Hop Legend Rammellzee: "You Hit The Bank, You Rob The Money, And You Leave"

The mighty Rammellzee, street-art legend and the pioneering rap eccentric behind "Beat Bop," has passed away. Though confirmed by Fab 5 Freddy, the details of his death remain sketchy, which is oddly appropriate, as even in life he was difficult to pin down. His legends are hip-hop canon, but they're rarely even attached to anything as tangible as a government name. Wikipedia reports a Far Rockaway birth circa 1960, but that's about it. But such details are irrelevant: Like Sun Ra before him, Rammellzee quickly expanded beyond such earthly shackles.

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