Tuesday, August 5, 2008

In the City/Madlib

In the City

I went down to the city
with an old lady, once
for a concert that they were hosting
in Central Park
I lugged her beat up suitcase
through the streets of New York,
my only respite being the coat check
at the museum, where it could sit on a shelf
while she talked to paintings.

As we sat on the dry grass in the park,
I ate her mildly rotten potato salad.
I ate her slightly sour yogurt.
I ate her chocolate, dandruff and all.

But when the music started, I could barely hear it.
I looked at her, and she just shook her head.
As she sat down, I saw her eyes become wet,
and she started to read her book,
assuming I could hear Tchaikovsky.

We stayed for the first of three pieces.
On the subway, her wrinkled face
was struggling to smile at me.
On the train, she slept,
While I looked at her relaxed face
and tried to rid myself of the
sadness that went from her into me.


Today I will show you guys some hip-hop that sounds a little different than self-glorifying rap. Often, I talk to people who believe that hip-hop is nothing more than what they hear on the radio, when this could not be further from the truth. In reality, hip-hop is the most exciting genre out there, always reinventing itself, with hordes of artists experimenting with the usual formula. The unfortunate part is, this experimentation is not club music, and intellectualism rarely gets on the airwaves, apart from indie stations and NPR.

So, I give you Madlib's debut full length, Shades of Blue, from 2003. It is an instrumental hip hop album (Yes, no rhymes. This is hip-hop, not just rap), in which he samples from the Blue Note discography. For those who don't know, Blue Note is a jazz label that's been around since the late 30's. Madlib takes the tonal experimentation of jazz and the head boppin' beats of hip-hop, and mixes them masterfully. This album is a great place to start if you want to get into instrumental hip-hop. If you MUST have vocals, you can check out Quasimoto, Madlib's rapping alter ego, or Madvillain, a collab between MF DOOM, one of my favorite MCs and Madlib.


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