Back in 2012 an album came out that truly got me excited about hip hop again.
A white guy from New York and a black guy from Atlanta, each from different spectrums of the same genre, joined forces to collaborate and plant their freak flag in the middle of a cookie-cutter music industry.
I’ve since come to realize that what makes the 12 tracks on R.A.P. Music by Killer Mike so impressive is not only the atypical production style of El-P, but the passion and sincerity with which the leading character delivers his commentary.
I was in my early teens when dad loaded us up and headed for the outer banks of North Carolina. The vacation rental was stocked with a record player and piles of albums with speakers in all corners of the house.
It was the self-titled debut by The Doors that I remember spinning the most that week.
I’ve since analyzed the band’s career over the ensuing years, long after my 15-year old former self was making out in a theatre during the Oliver Stone film or was initially inspired to scribble poetic drivel of my own.
And so last week while binge listening to The Doors I solicited people for their favorite songs via Facebook and text. I was only slightly taken aback by the responses as not many veered from the typical selections.
It was at the conclusion of The Big Kahuna many years back when I first heard the inspirational spoken word track “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)” by Baz Luhrmann.
The words were apparently written by Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich, who offered up some sound advice for graduating teens preparing to embark on the next phase of their lives.
It’s likely many of those same teenagers, now closing in on 40, wish they would’ve actually taken those words to heart.
The Big Kahuna, starring Kevin Spacey and Danny DeVito, had already riddled my mind by the time this piece of prose began. It served as a worthy backdrop to DeVito packing up his belongings in a hotel room and Spacey checking out at the front desk as each prepared to move along to live another day, ever the wiser for their experiences.
My grandfather has lived through the deaths of nearly everybody he’e ever known over the years. He turns 80 years old this July.
We often chat about this very topic over vodka and tonic each time he makes his annual trip south to pay me a visit. I’ve come to terms with the reality that I’ll be sitting in his seat decades from now sharing similar stories.
If it’s not the recent passing of pop culture figures I’ve grown up with in some form or fashion, such as David Bowie or Prince, it’s the moms and dads of friends who’ve been laying to rest for the final time over the past few months.
I wouldn’t consider this list an absolute “best of” when talking about the songs that came out in 2015. But I can certainly say that I would play each and every one of these tracks on my show if I were still doing the college radio thing at WPRK.
Those were some damn good times, by the way. I miss spinning tunes in that dusty old basement.
There’s plenty of albums I’ve yet to get around to listening to from 2015, so I’m sure I’ll come across plenty more gems to add to this list at another time. For now, enjoy this collection of tracks that abused the speakers in my house and car the most over the past twelve months.
I tried like hell to hold back tears the first time I dressed up as Santa Claus to entertain kids at an income-restricted apartment community in Orlando.
A little girl told me, while sitting on my lap as I was dressed for the part, that all she wanted for Christmas were shoes for her little brother. A young boy said he just wanted for his mom to be happy while another boy asked to receive nothing at all.
Similar requests were made in between the typical interactions of kids asking Santa for toys and gadgets they’ll lose interest in by February.
It was the looks in the eyes of parents and grandparents that made my heart ache most as they soaked up whatever joy these kids were experiencing.
Anyone that knows a thing of two about Scott Weiland is hardly surprised by the news that spread throughout the world early Friday.
Over the course of a decade Weiland fronted Stone Temple Pilots, which built a massive following in the midst of a transition from the grunge era of the early 1990s to the stadium rock scene that followed.
Truthfully, I was lukewarm to STP’s arrival when their 1992 debut Core was put in rotation. The song “Plush” was just too much of a Pearl Jam ripoff for me to ever embrace. But then 1994’s Purple arrived and caught my attention with its layers of depth and groove. In 1996 Tiny Music… Songs From the Vatican Gift Shop took the madness to an unprecedented level, and at that point I found myself in way over my head in the band’s psychedelic rollicking.
You really missed out if you never experienced the Beastie Boys live in concert.
I saw them twice back in the 1990s, first on May 17, 1995 during the Ill Communication tour and again on August 14, 1998 in support of Hello Nasty. Two times seems far too few now that I think about it.
But I’ll never forget the shenanigans shared on the way to and from the Convocation Center in Cleveland, Ohio each trip. Remind me to tell you all about it the next time we see each other.
Until then, relive the Glasgow, Scotland show from 1999 featuring Ad-Rock, MCA, Mike D and Mix Master Mike. I just did, and it was pretty damn great.
I planned to share my disbelief regarding what took place Friday in Paris, then I realized anything I wrote would be best served encompassing the issue as a whole.
That wasn’t going to happen. We just don’t have much time for that nowadays. But the magnitude of the tragedy, much like any other that’s happened during our existence, is a hard reality to digest when confronted with it.
I can’t imagine attempting to pick up and carry on from such tragedy. Or living with the imagery of horror that was witnessed firsthand.
Imagine having to persevere in search of a new perspective. It’s certainly something to think about. Allow Columbus, Ohio’s Blueprint to take you down that path…
One of the best songs on one of the most creative albums of the year comes off even better in video form.
Kendrick Lamar released imagery for “Alright” earlier this week, a horn-infused and repenting track produced by Pharrell Williams and Sounwave. The black and white video, directed by Colin Tilley, pushes the same type of buttons the To Pimp a Butterfly album has already evoked from listeners.
It’s a refreshing seven minutes of cinema. You’ll want to run this one back a few times.
Born in Mississippi in 1925, his music was a reflection of his upbringing. It connected with people of all walks of life and backgrounds, such is evident in videos below featuring U2 and Big K.R.I.T., and it’ll continue to inspire and live on for countless generations to come. Just as it should.