Album Obsessions: Fear of a Black Planet

If He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper was the gateway drug, Fear of a Black Planet was my graduation to the hard stuff.  The combination of Chuck D’s intensity and Flavor Flav’s insanity really appealed to me and I still maintain that this is the best rap album ever produced.  I bought the cassette tape while on vacation in Kingston, Ontario (which has no relevance to the piece but helps me meet my minimum word count quota) and I’m sure I have listened to the tape front to back hundreds of times.

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In spite of the challenges brought on by the major paradigm shift, the music industry is obviously bored

A few weeks ago my father asked me whether or not downloading things via Bit Torrent was illegal.  I told him yes, but then launched into my standpoint on the “grey area” of the law.  In short:

  • Music wise, it is essentially akin to my father’s extensive cassette tape collection when I was  a kid, all copies of other people’s vinyl (this sentence just lost any readers born after 1987).
  • I personally found I purchased more music as a result of bit torrent (I do not use it any more) as it allowed me to find more new bands and to not have to take a chance at wasting money on something I don’t like.
  • Downloading TV shows is akin to PRVing (or oldschool VCRing)them and then skipping the commercials.
  • You exceed the speed limit even though you know it is illegal.
  • And so on…

There are a lot of ways to try and justify such actions, but the answer to the question is still “yes, it is in most cases against copyright law and therefore illegal”.

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Album Obsessions: He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper

I was certainly exposed to rap before He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper.  Run DMC‘s Raising Hell, the Beastie Boys‘ License to Ill, even early 2 Live Crew (which truthfully frightened me).  I think that DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince were able to bring it down to a level that a young, white, suburban kid could appreciate.  I mean really … my parents didn’t understand either.

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Great Listening Round-Up

Here is a handful of great musical releases from the recent past for you to listen to / watch and enjoy.

Of course I have to start off with Superchunk.  Here is Crossed Wires from an in-store at Sonic Boom in Toronto on December 9, 2010.  I missed this but did enjoy the show that night.


Video from The New Pornographers for the song Crash Years off of the album Together released early in 2010, complete with introduction explaining the Oxfam connection.


She and Him sing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas with Conan O’Brien.


Jeff Mangum played a surprise 10 song set recently, 5 of the songs you can listen to over at International Tapes.


The Rural Alberta Advantage‘s first release off of their upcoming album.  The song is called Stamp, the album is called Departing (due March 1, 2011).  You will have to go to Pitchfork to stream it or Saddle Creek to download it yourself.

Superchunk Live in Toronto

I went to a Superchunk show this week. It still seems weird and exciting to me. I think I just assumed that I was at the point in my life that I didn’t go to shows any more. Anyway, enough about me. First, the facts (and then more about me later):

  • Superchunk played at the Sound Academy in Toronto
  • It was December 9, 2010
  • They were opening for Broken Social Scene
  • Doors opened at 8pm, Superchunk went on at 9pm and played until 10pm
  • The two photos below from the show were taken with my iPhone and then run through Instagram to try to hide the shoddiness

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Beastie Boys Short Film Starring Seth Rogan, Elijah Wood and Danny McBride?

This is seriously the greatest thing I have seen in a very long time.

Pitchfork has the details, but apparently a short film by Adam Yauch (MCA) appearing at Sundance will chronicle what happens after the Fight For Your Right To Party video ends and is stacked with some serious star power.

I cannot stop staring at this picture, which was posted on the Beastie Boys website.  Such a classic photo from my childhood.  I’m still laughing.

The Rural Alberta Advantage Announce New Record

The Rural Alberta Advantage have announced a spring release (March 1, 2011) for their second album Departing, the follow up to the great Hometowns.

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Album Obsessions – Twisted Sister “Stay Hungry”

I always consider this my first real album.  I am still amazed at the fact that I asked my mom to get this for me (at age 9) and she actually did.  I love picturing my mother, who would have been around 40 at the time, walking into Sam The Record Man on her own and picking up this album (on cassette).

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Album Obsessions – Smorgasbord

How many times in your life have you fallen in love with an album?  Not a song or handful of songs, but an entire album.  I think that looking back at album obsessions is  a great way to map out a musical life journey as each album generally represents where you are at that time and often a shift that you are making as you discover something new.  This is the first article in a new series I am doing on the albums that I obsessed over throughout my life.

I got about a third of the way into this list when I remembered this album and had to jump back to the true beginning.  Unfortunately my obsession with Sharon, Lois and Bram’s Smorgasbord was not music related (or is that fortunately?).

While listening to songs like Peanut Butter and Michael Finnegan, four-year old me obsessed over whether I was more in love with the little blond girl or the little brunette girl.  I married a brunette, so I guess that argument has been decided.


Great Mac McCaughan Moments – Public Enemy

File this under great “did that just happen” moments.  Portastatic released a trio of great albums in the aught’s:

  • Summer of the Shark (2003)
  • Bright Ideas (2005)
  • Be Still Please (2006)

After Summer of the Shark set the standard for this new era of band-based Portastatic I was super excited for Bright Ideas, and it did not disappoint.

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