MUSIC

Blueprint relives worst shows of his music career in “What a Night”

There’s always been something about the uneasiness and embarrassment of others that makes the rest of us cringe with curiosity.

Such stories serve dual purposes in that they entertain on one hand and fascinate on the other, as though we can relate in some form or fashion. Or maybe we’re just intrigued by the kinds of far-fetched circumstances we’ve never had a chance to experience ourselves.

Blueprint offers up these types of stories to help quench such an appetite as he shares the most awkward moments from his life on the road in “What a Night,” a book about the worst shows of his music career.

Although Blueprint’s been known for different things at different times in his life, first as a computer programmer, and most notably a producer, emcee and musician, it’ll take some time before his work as an author of books reaches those aforementioned levels.

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Music from the vinyl collection: Bobby Womack, Johnny Cash, Gang Starr, The Stepkids

I considered rushing out to local record stores Friday morning to pick up exclusive Black Friday vinyl music releases. Then I started flipping through my existing collection, deciding instead to stay home and spin the stuff I already own.

Albums by Bobby Womack, Johnny Cash, Gang StarrThe Stepkids randomly made the rotation. Sample some of the best tracks from each below.

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Playlist: Big Boi of Outkast (2003-12)

When it comes to Outkast it seems Andre 3000 gets all the attention. Hardly ever does Big Boi get brought up in the conversation, his efforts often overlooked by the majority of “fans” of the group.

Consider how critics compare the Speakerboxxx/The Love Below double album for proof. But go back and listen to those early Outkast albums and be surprised at how great Big Boi sounds alongside his more recognized partner.

Then once you’re done with that dive into the Big Boi Spotify playlist below, which I’ve compiled using tracks from Speakerboxxx (2003), Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty (2010), and Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors (2012), among a couple of other oddities.

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From The Collection: The Cars – “Candy-O”

Here’s something many people may not know about me: I’ve always been a closet fan of The Cars. Call it a guilty pleasure or call it crazy, but there was something formulaic I liked about this late 1970s, early 1980s group. Was it New Wave? Was it Punk? Maybe it was a little bit of both, with a whole lot of synth pop rock mixed in there to help even things out.

While the band’s first album The Cars (1978) is packed with everything anyone needs to hear when discovering them for the first time, it’s their follow-up Candy-O (1979) that I’ve found myself spinning most in recent years. The groove of the title track is reason enough to give this one a listen.

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Playlist: Wu-Tang Clan solo & affiliate compilation (1997-98)

By the time Wu-Tang Forever was released in 1997 the Wu-Tang Clan were the undisputed leaders of a genre otherwise dominated by coastal beefs and southern cocaine rap. Forever reconnected its members for a double CD that showed the group at their peak following a string of standout solo albums, which I compiled into a 26-track collection back in May.

What followed in the wake of that release were a flood of side projects that incorporated countless affiliates of the group and set the stage for a second dose of solo albums from key members. But before those rolled out near the end of 1998, often overlooked projects during the two year period from 1997-98 featured countless tracks worthy of revisiting.

Missing from this compilation is tracks from Sunz of Man The Last Shall Be First (1998) and La The Darkman Heist of the Century (1998) because neither is available on Spotify. Killarmy Dirty Weaponry (1998) was produced by 4th Disciple and Mathematics but does not feature official members. All songs in this list are produced by RZA unless otherwise noted.

Let me know what you think. The third installment will be released before the end of the year.

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From the Collection: Atmosphere – “Don’t Forget”

Memories, they get me every single time.

To me, this is the one track I identify most with from Atmosphere’s Slug and Ant. The lyrics and keys that carry this beat hit a spot that can’t easily be described. That’s how genuine this track is, at least to me.

But I’m a bit biased, of course, based on this particular moment alone: “I was addicted to the radio. Make my request, and wait for it, holding my finger on the pause button, like, “now, go” – I guess that was the original down-load. Rap videos, and girl’s digits. A 15-pack of blank cassettes for Christmas…”

The day my dad handed me a box of old blank cassette tapes of meetings or seminars he was done listening to still runs through my mind as clear as the day.

I was that kid in the late 1980s and early 1990s recording music off the radio and dubbing copies of the new tape you just bought. But, in order to do so, I had to face my boom box to my brother’s and be sure everyone left the room before hitting record. Ah, the good ol’ days.

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Playlist: Bob Dylan (1962-64)

It seems Bob Dylan has lived a number of different lives over the past six decades since overtaking the folk music scene with his acoustic guitar and harmonica in the early 1960s. He’s somehow managed to remain relevant in some form or fashion no matter how much his arrogance and cynicism rubbed others the wrong the way.

The key to longevity lies in the willingness to adapt and evolve, though not necessarily in that order. What makes Dylan great is that even throughout his changes he’s somehow stuck to the script of writing songs for those that otherwise have no voice.

Dylan’s first four albums provide insight into what was to come in the many years that followed: Songs about life and death; of protest; about the comings and goings of love; and the reality of life’s prejudices.

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Playlist: Wu-Tang Clan Solo Album Compilation (1994-96)

The Wu-Tang Clan hit the scene in 1993 with a debut album that featured nine emcees rapping over gritty soundscapes unheard of at the time in hip hop.

What followed was the release of a handful of solo albums from 1994-96, by six individuals from within the group. The Clan’s creator, The RZA, oversaw the majority of production for each record outside of his involvement with the Gravediggaz.

This Spotify playlist contains 26 tracks from those albums. It opens with one song from each of the selections listed below, in order of release date, and repeats itself throughout. The intent was to include tracks from each solo album that featured other Wu-Tang members. Enjoy.
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Black Sabbath, Ritchie Blackmore & Randy Rhodes featuring Ozzy Osbourne & Ronnie James Dio

Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne released their eighth and final studio album together in 1978. The aptly titled Never Say Die! came out the same year as Rainbow’s Long Live Rock n’ Roll, with Ronnie James Dio on vocals.

Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi eventually replaced Osbourne with Dio just as the decade was coming to a end. Ever since it’s seemed as if Sabbath and Osbourne were destined to move in different directions.

The Spotify playlist I’ve compiled focuses on a three-year stretch involving these individuals. It features every song from Never Say Die! and Long Live Rock ’n’ Roll, along with Sabbath’s first album with Dio (Heaven and Hell) and Osbourne’s first solo effort (Blizzard of Ozz), both of which were released in 1980.

It must be noted that Long Live Rock ’n’ Roll features Ritchie Blackmore on guitar while Randy Rhodes is the lead man on Blizzard of Ozz. There’s 34 songs in all.

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VIDEO: Outkast Returns With Full Setlist at Coachella Festival

Not many in the world of hip hop have been able to duplicate the creative prowess of Outkast over the past 20 years. Just sift through their discography for proof of the unique twists and turns they’ve taken with each album.

Each time they’ve returned to the scene they’ve captured the public’s attention while blending musical borders. And now they’re back in full force in 2014.

Big Boi and Andre 3000 made their long awaited reunion last night at the Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival, which is some sort of gathering that pulls fans from all walks of life and musical backgrounds.

It’s likely that most in the crowd was experiencing the full brunt of Outkast’s funk for the very first time. Lucky for those of us who couldn’t be there, the whole performance can be seen online. It’s not without it’s flaws, but it’s all we’ve got for now. Check the full setlist after the jump.

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Album Review: Johnny Cash – Out Among The Stars (2014)

Disclaimer: Back in the early 1990s I learned that I share the same birthday as that of iconic musician Johnny Cash. Through the years I’ve connected in different ways with the contradictions of such a personality, but I’ve also remained unbiased when it comes to critiquing his body of recorded work.

I’m not much of a country music fan, but I do consider myself a bit of a Johnny Cash aficionado when it comes to the Man In Black’s discography. Though I plan to write more about the subject down the road, the most urgent matter of today is this week’s release of a once-shelved Cash studio album dating back to the mid-1980s.

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