The album that has been dominating my life the past 2 weeks has been Jay-Z's American Gangster. While, it doesn't really hold onto the idea of being a concept album throughout, the 70s soul & funk can't be denied and Hova is having fun here. My favorite track, Party Life, has a great hook and the rhymes are hella clever. Although, I always enjoy when the Jigga-man gets mackadocious. I'm still amazed that this is mostly Diddy production (and, RPM, I haven't forgotten about sending you my extra copy).
Outkast gets top billing off of me re-finding Aquemini (which I still believe is their finest album). The title track bubbled up on Shuffle one day and I immediately jumped to the full length. I suggest you do the same.
Most of the rest of the list (Madlib, Little Brother, and De La Soul excluded as they regularly bubble up in my weekly spins) is the result of me starting to focus in what I think are the best albums and songs from the year. I know what tops my list -- the artists behind #s 1 and 2 are both in my top ten here -- while Justice remains controversial in my head.
I haven't been exceptionally happy with my last.fm recommendations of late but these two recent additions to my library are highlights:
There's a shot I didn't post from yesterday's Olvera Street Photowalk. I made several attempts at the picture but with my point and shoot camera and novice skills, it was unphotographable. I stood in the middle of the street, alone, looking towards downtown. It was a gray day. Trying desperately to peek through the hazy skies was the sun. No one else seemed to notice. Where crowds had gathered to watch street magicians or dance to the tunes of one man bands or listen to the Spanish singer who dominated the central courtyard of the birthplace of Los Angeles or pray at the altar in the mission, it was me and my own private sunshine.
It wasn't an uncommon experience on the day. I was excited about the photowalk all week. I'd meet some new folks, do something I don't consider myself very good at, learn a thing or two, and enjoy a part of the city I am very rarely in. Except that once I was there, I found myself tugged away fromthegroup. I followed sounds instead of sights. Children giggling. Delighted applause. Shuffling feet. Sobbing. Anger. Singing. Water gurgling. Dragged luggage.
I misplaced the other photowalkers but never felt lost. Stories began to unwrap themselves from my head and wrap around the scenes I was taking in: The Tale of the Homeless Dancers; The Baptism That Wasn't; The Road to Nowhere; The 31st Avian Brigade; My Father, The Statue.
And, I imagine, the sun watched me from the safety of the cloud cover and tall buildings, enveloping me in a story all its own.
The song can be found on YHU’s penultimate LP Just A Melody,
one of the only albums from their discography that has never been
granted the reissue treatment. This is a real shame, because the album
is a wonderful collection of songs permeated by the group’s funky,
upbeat audio aesthetic, a quality aptly demonstrated by the ‘Light My
I'm trying to light a fire under my own butt. I've never been good at discipline. Self-discipline, to be exact. I have little problem, most of the time, doing the yeoman's work for others but, generally, I don't do a good job of taking care of myself. I'm awfully round these days. I'm a lazy git at home. I've had increasingly hermit-like tendencies. I'm not writing.
These are all related.
I don't like it.
So this weekend has been about catching a blaze. It took me all day yesterday but I cleaned my place. This morning I worked out (it's the return of Hip Hop Abs, y'all), had my vitamins and some Airborne. I'm back on the "eating right" thing. I'm going to accomplish what I set to accomplish for myself today - a car wash, an IKEA run, the photowalk - and, if I do, I'll treat myself to a movie tonight.
Then, if I'm for real, I'll wake up tomorrow and do it all again.
I've noted -- probably on twitter since I rarely post things longer than 140 characters these days -- that I have way more music released this year than I have in years past. With podcasts, music blogs, my emusic subscription, amazon.com mp3 downloads and monthly amoeba runs, I'm awash in music. Hell, I even tested out urge for 6 months this year. As I do chores this morning, I'm listening to my Best of 2007 playlist in preparation for my end of the year music posts (yes, I might actually write things here in full interesting sentences that you may even care about). These two finds, Keren Ann, above, and Big Sir, below, were both randompodcast finds. I'd never heard of either artist before and, in truth, I haven't sought out other music of theirs since but, today, I was reminded why I gave each 5 stars.
300 by Frank Miller (1998, Dark Horse). I didn't like the movie. It occurs to me that I might simply have a problem with media based around Greek and Roman history as I also don't like Gladiator and couldn't get with the Rome HBO series (although I'm thinking about giving that another try). That said, I love Clash of the Titans (I know!) and was very nearly a Humanities major in college focused on the Roots of Western Civilization (even spending my Freshman year of college in a dorm and class structure focused on the subject. Nerd, me? Yes.). Hell, I'm even named from a classic Greek Myth.
I "get" the movie, mind. It's visually stunning. There are these bold, classic archetypes at play and everyone involved commits fully. It just left me flat. After reading the graphic novel, I understand why. Much of the film's story is created from whole cloth. Miller's source material has none of the mysticism or the fantastic creatures. Miller's original also has none of the betrayal and political intrigue that dominates Sparta in the film.
I enjoyed the graphic novel much more than the film. Strip away all that other BS (there is a place for that in the myths of the time) and you've got a spectacular historical tale. One Herodotus was proud to spin. One that makes me want to delve deeper. To learn more of The Hot Gates. To understand the rise of Persia who, by the way, are demonized as the dark skin evil here just as much as they are in the movie. Although, at least in the graphic novel, Frank Miller doesn't emasculate Xerxes. His sin here is hubris. In the film, there's this fay undertone to the character to contrast him with the hyper-masculine Leonidas that doesn't jibe for me. And, to remind myself why I always choose Greece when playing Civilization.