Friday, October 30, 2009

Sam Cooke-A Change is Gonna Come

This blog is all about jams...great songs, songs that have that special something that after your precious 3 minutes and 14 seconds spent listening to it, you decide, you know what? I'd listen to that jam again, right now! Right now! Songs so good, you could have them on repeat over and over, and maybe over again.  Just cuz they're that good. We're not looking for a certain genre, or style, we're looking for songs that will make ya tell your momma, hey momma, listen to this!

Sam Cooke made one of the best songs of the 20th century in "A Change is Gonna Come." Soulful lyrics, a powerful message, and a timely plead, make "A Change is Gonna Come" an untouchable jam and a half. The jam set the standard for many songs to come...Not only hoping for a change, but knowing that a change is coming, Sam Cooke wrote a socially conscious song that has everything that it needs to be a jam and a half. Covered by and referred to by everyone from Bob Dylan and Aretha Franklin, to our president, Mr. Obama himself, ("It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America."). Mr. Cooke wrote this timeless piece in response to two events: his 18th month old son dying in an accidental drowning, and Mr. Cooke and his band being arrested after trying to check into a "white-only" motel. Sam soon realized that his pop career up to then wouldn't be enough.

Something more was needed. Sam Cooke's song, inspired by Dylan's "Blowing in the Wind," soon became an anthem for the civil right's movement, and poetically illustrates the difficulties that we need to overcome to make us a truly united nation. While it's been a long time coming, and many powers that be hope to keep it from coming, the promise of tomorrow is too great to not be seized by us today. This jam and a half is too pure, too strong, to make it deserve anything less than the "Jam and a Half'' title. Applicable to anything from the civil rights movement to the current health care promise, Cooke insists that a change is coming. You'll see. A Change is coming.

I included the original jam and a half, and a Fugees acoustic version. Enjoy

Download Here (original)
Fugees Version

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Impossible Cypher

The hollows and crevices of the internet are the place my man Big Leks calls home, and on his last trip to the pad he stumbled across this diamond. This impossible cipher, the product of modern day science which solely has the technology to bring rap slingers of this type and quality together, is brought to you by the mad doctors at BET for their award show. Now Im not sure how genuine the set up is, but I can tell you that the product is nothin but the realest. So for your enjoyment, the likes of Mos Def, Black Thought, and Eminem brought to you by the chiefs in white coats at BET. But beware, this is that FIRE, like liquid hot lava fire, check it at your own risk, you have been warned.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Manu Chao-Clandestino

They say that we are a product of our upbringing...that who we are today is based on both our nature and our nurture. The experiences we have all had make us unique, and this reflects on every part of our personality and our character. Manu Chao's upbringing reflects a new Europe, one that has changed remarkably in recent decades. Born in Paris to a Galician father and a Basque mother, Manu's music is a fusion of the many cultures and people that have radically altered European cities. Singing in a mixture of Spanish, French, Portuguese, English, Arabic, among others, Manu truly is a child of the new Europe.

One can immediately pick up various influences from Manu's music. An African drum here, a caribbean horn there. Melding together the music of the streets of different cultures, Manu's music is unique and alive. "Clandestino," the first song of his first solo album, Clandestino, is a story about immigrants coming to Spain. Clandestino, translating to underground, refers to immigrants in Spain who are there without papers, those living each day illegally, not sure when they will be caught and sent home. In the song, Manu talks about the Africans who try each day to boat across the Mediterranean, from the Spanish "colony" of Ceuta in Northern Africa through the straits of Gibralter. If they do make it, they become "ghosts in the city," wandering the streets with no identity.

This is a jam and a half because it is classic Manu. Over a simple guitar riff and maracas, its almost as if we hear Manu singing on the side of a street, lamenting over the hardships in his life. Manu takes a strong poke at governments, when saying that his life is prohibited, says the authorities. A perfect introduction to the rest of his brilliant album, musically the song is what a new Europe could be, a cohesive harmony of differing sounds and influences. Manu's family left Spain to escape Franco, but his songs reflect a new Spain, a proud and unique mixture of backgrounds and people.

Download Here (We did have a link here, but got a take-down notice. wear it.....)

Michael Jackson - Human Nature

Normally this aint my style...I swear, but really I feel compelled to throw it down for Mike J. The king of everything from pedophile jokes to pop is the all time leader in controversial conversational topics, but Im tryin to look beyond the social criticisms. Mike J has been keepin it real musically since he was rockin training wheels and that is why, in his death, I feel like its time to take a stand against the destruction of his rep. We all know the background, and we all know the jams, but it seems like over time we've forgotten some of the hidden classic joints that speckled nearly every album he put out.

The first time I heard this track Im sure I had the same reaction as you all, "What the hell is this?! Oh shit its straight Illmatic, It Aint Hard to Tell!!!" And thus I respected the track enough to listen to it. From there I discovered that, in fact, this goofy love tune is a certified R&B Jam and A Half!! Mikey has always known how to take it down right, but he captures that raw emotion and vulnerabilty in a truly specicial way. The last lick to be included on Thriller has been sampled by Nas, Blackstreet, SWV, BoyzIIMen, and has been covered by the likes of Miles Davis. So if you cant take my word for it trust my dogg Nasir. The hook just makes you wanna get your easy grind on with that special lady, and for its truly magnetic qualities Human Nature earns a spot as a jam and a half.

Download Here

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Roots - Game Theory

Whats up to all you cats out there in the blogosphere. My name's Moose and Im gonna be helpin out Big Leks droppin only the choicest of jams for the good people of the world. To me, what the Jam and a Half blog is all about is allowing other people to share the connection that we feel with music. We´ve got the blessing to throw our favorite tracks up here of all different styles and genres to help people hear what they want to be hearin, or what they´ve never heard before. I love music but I aint no doctor so please if you have any comments or jams that you want us to posterize holler at us.

That said, for my first jam I wanted to go with something that Ive been feelin real heavy right now, and that's Game Theory, the title track off The Roots seventh album circa 2006. The Roots have been blowin up for a cool minute now, and Game Theory was both critically acclaimed and commercially successful. For a mainstream audience the album takes up a more serious tone than most of today´s current beats, and Game Theory sticks with this theme keepin the tone heavy and the lyrics real to their roots. This jam walks that fine line of casting some social commentary without getting on the political soapbox and soundin phony. In his first verse Black Thought explodes out the gates using a thumpin rythm to spark the track, and lets everyone know what Philly is really all about.

Using a real classy Sly and the Family sample (Life of Fortune and Fame), and the irreplaceable flavor of The Roots band, the track builds an intensity that carries into each verse forcing the power of the rhymes on you. After a second rock solid verse from Black Thought, Malik B comes in smokin for the closer. Hittin rhymes within lines and spinnin street stories, the jam closes out as hard as it opens. Game Theory sets the tone for the rest of the album with a force that carries you through until the end, but this Jam and a Half has got everything it needs to stand alone as a classic track.

Monday, October 19, 2009


There was a time when Outkast really was “Outkast.” Not too long ago actually. That was before this whole “Put out a double cd, break up, get back together, make a bs period piece, break up, come back and put out a classic jam and a half (Art of Storytelling Part IV), break up, supposedly work on single album and a joint album” phase they’ve been on since after Stankonia. Big Boi’s been around; but Andre 3000’s been missing, on the reg. But god dern, when Outkast was really “Outkast,” they were the greatest musical duo of all time…

Outkast’s second album, also called ATLiens, was a bridge between their insanely promising debut, and their polished masterpiece, Aquemini. With a general theme of outer space and extraterrestrials among us, Outkast included, jams such as Elevators, 13th floor, Two Dope Boyz define and highlight ATLiens. The breadth and depth of ATLiens is unparalleled in rap history, and the ease that Big Boi and Andre are able to completely switch sounds, content, and style on individual tracks shows their unreal musical versatility. While the whole album is one giant jam and a half, and many song could have higher lyrical merit, or a sicker beat, none of them are more a jam of a half than the album’s title song.

Outkast is what Southern Rap could be…no, Outkast is what Rap should be. Over a pounding Outkast/Earthtone Ideas beat, both Dre and Big Boi lay down lyrical magma. Big Boi starts off, laser beams blazing. Did he just say he was cooler than a polar bear’s toenail? Yeaaa he did. Did he say it tickles to see you try to be like Mr. Pickles? Uh huuu…Did Dre tell you that he put his glock away because his lyrics are “a stronger weapon that never runs out of ammunition”? Si chaval. ATLiens (the jam, not the album) may not be the most introspective, otherworldly Outkast jam of all time, but play it a couple times. It's two rappers, who on only their second album, are asking the world, who better? ATLiens is the jam and a half.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Isley Brothers-Voyage to Atlantis

What’s the last place you took a trip to? Vegas? The Bay? For the brave, or foolish, of heart, TJ? I’m sitting in Charles de Gaulle Airport right now, on my way to see a very special someone in Budapest, but even this has a hard time comparing to the epic journey that the Brothers Isley bring you in their epic jam and a half, Voyage to Atlantis.

Probably the funkiest creation since the sinking of Atlantis, the Isley Brothers made something so groovy and pure that even Midas would have a hard touching it. With a warbled guitar taking you down to the very depths of the deep blue, to a place where only mermaids and old guys with tridents dwell, Voyage to Atlantis tells about a man leaving his lady behind, but promising that he’ll always come back to her…but only if they go all the way together. To where? Atlantis of course, the paradise out beyond the sea.

Why is this a jam and a half? If the first listen hasn’t convinced you, and if hearing this crooned from apt 661L hasn’t either, then you probably should stop reading this blog. Not only is this something even Poseidon would have a hard time not jamming to in his watery palace, Big Boi sampled it in his recent jam Royal Flush (off of his oft delayed solo debut) with Andre 3000 and Raekwon.

The Isley Bros rank up there with the Mario and Luigi. the Halpern lair, and Big Leks and Oscar as far as all time brothers go. Let them take you on a voyage.

Download Here

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Calvin Harris-The Rain

After the 25 year old Calvin Harris's debut, I Created Disco, many thought that no matter what he did, he wouldn't be able to capture that unique sound again. They were wrong. His sophomore effort, Ready for the Weekend finds the young Scot perfecting his craft and sound. After the massive summer jam "I'm Not Alone," and the various remixes by some of the hottest DJs around, the hype around Calvin was huge. Full of bells, heavy 80s influence, and mean synthesizers, Calvin 2nd album weaves trance, electronic, pop, and a healthy dose of goofy to create a sound that is familiar, but striking at the same time.

I caught a Calvin Harris DJ set in Hollywood a couple of weeks ago, and was pretty disappointed...I've seen videos of his full live shows, where he has a band, and sings and all that, but the show I saw consisted of a goofy Scotsman and 2 MacBook Pros. My expectations were admittedly very high coming in, and he did manage to get the crowd hyped while mixing in some of his biggest songs (Acceptable in the 80s, You Used to Hold Me). Great crowd, solid venue, but I think everyone left wishing it had been an actual live show. And where was the Humanthesizer?

While his new album has jams for days, the one that sticks out is "The Rain." This is classic Calvin Harris. Starts out with some soul claps and a funky horn melody, quickly drops to a bass line and Calvin singing, and continues from there, grooving along until you find yourself not wanting it to end, like a great movie, or an epic Mario Kart session. With the catchiest chorus this side of YMCA, I guarantee that you will find yourself grooving to this in your room/car/taekwondo class. In fact, I can already see Kai playing this 18 times in a row on an late Saturday night....

Calvin brings fire in Ready for the Weekend, and one jam and half. "The Rain" takes it this time for being an uplifting song that brings people together, while making sure they got their twinkle toes moving. I dedicate it to the Class of 2010, cuz even though we all got a million things going on right now, it might be a good thing to take a seat and smile; everything will be alright...

As always, here is a Download Link and the youtube clip is below. I also added two pictures and a video from the show.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Cœur de pirate-Comme des Enfants

Man...what can possibly follow nina and rodgab? Been mulling this for a little while, and decided to go with someone who most of you probably haven't heard before, the French-Canadian artist, Coeur de Pirate. Having just turned twenty, Coeur de Pirate, real name Beatrice Martin, blew up last year on blogs across the world with her song, Comme des Enfants...Although I'm no french major, or even a doctor, her angelic voice really uplifts the song, binding seamlessly to the simple piano harmony...The strength of her vocals, weaving between timid playfulness and full fledged power, makes the original a fun, easy listen, jam...

But the real jam and a half, and the reason for this post, is the Los Matos Andy Carmichael Remix. Playing casi nonstop in Apartment 651 G last year, this remix is a jam and a half and goes hard. Andy Carmichael somehow kept the innocence of the original, and mixed with a funky bassline and futuristic horns.... guaranteed to keep you moving time after time. Stretching the song out to a full fledged 5 minute jam and a half, Andy found a way to take something that was both so simple, but so pure, and turn into the ultimate club jam...He did what all remixes aim to do, make their song better than the original....and for this, Andy Carmichael gets the 3rd Jam and a Half...good work chief..

Download Original
Download Remix

Original Video


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Rodrigo y Gabriela-Tamacun

To follow up the eternal flame which is Nina Simone-Sinnerman, I bring to you two Mexican guitarists. These two Mexicans started off playing in a heavy metal band in la ciudad de Mexico, but quickly found themselves going nowhere. They moved to Dublin where they played in small time pubs and street corners, until one day Damian Rice heard them strumming away, and asked them to open up for him on his tour...The rest is history. Rodrigo y Gabriela have become internationally renown for their fusion of classical guitar/flamenco with their heavy metal past, and have created a completely unique sound...

Moose and I got put on to Rod y Gab freshman year by a colombian buddy, and intermediately realized the realness of the pair...after missing one show freshman year, and regretting it up to the day we went to their show, we decided we had to go see them in LA...boy, it did not dissapoint....Playing in the famous Orpheum Theater, an old and spectacular theater with a somewhat hesitant crowd, we did our best to give back the energy that Rod y Gab were sending out. Playing jams from their two main albums, but concentrating on their new material, Rod and Gab put on a show for the ages. Although it's hard to believe, it really is just the two of them on stage. Rodrigo picks insane melodies while Gabriela manages to play the guitar while using it as a drum. The two had a completely bare stage, although a large screen behind them showed off their insane hand speed.  Both had unreal solos (check out gabriela's below), showing off the fact that they might be the two best guittarists in the world right now...Rodrigo even used a Heineken bottle (which now resides in our apartment) to make crazy sound effects with his guitar. After being escorted to our seats one time for trying to sneak to the front, there was nothing security could do to stop us doing the encore. We went straight to the front and started dancing with two other people. Rod and Gab saw us and came over while playing to show us some love, and Moose will be eternally jealous that I touched Gabriela's hand haha!

The song I'm picking for the second jam and a half is Rodrigo y Gabriela's Tamacun. Off their self-titled debut, Tamacun is classic Rod y Gab...unreal picking by rod, gabriela providing the pounding heartbeat, Tamacun represents the best of Rod y Gab, and has justifiably shot them into fame...Although I could have picked any Rod y Gab song, Tamacun gets the pick as the second Jam and a Half...

I've added a couple links for some videos that I took on my camera and phone of the concert, and of Tamacun. As always, have posted a link where you can download the song. Enjoy.


Friday, October 2, 2009

Nina Simone-Sinnerman

The first Jam and a Half had to be that fire, lava, magma....Had to be a jam which I've been playing a lot lately, but one that is also timeless, something you can listen to over and over and over again without ever getting tired of....Had to represent the jams that are going to be on here for as long as this blog is up....There is no other option, Nina Simone take's the inaugeral jam and a half....

Why Sinnerman? Because it's 10 minutes and 21 seconds of musical yummyness. This is a jam and a half in every way possible. Crazy vocals? check. Story? check. Emotion? so much that you can hear the mic messing up. The best musical interlude this side of Rosa Parks? check. This song is pure pooowweeerrrrr.....Been sampled a million times in rap songs, yet no one can ever capture the essence of Nina Simone at her purest. If you've never heard this song, be prepared to be blown away, if ya have, just sit back and jam a little...Sinnerman takes the inaugeral jam and a half

With every song, I'll include a download link and the youtube video. enjoy....

Thursday, October 1, 2009

First Post-Hello World

Hello world, it's me again,

Will this be the hottest blog online? Probably, but it will definitely be a good site for jams, new and old...

I'm not going to be rating songs, not going to have a 1-10 scale, 1-5 jalapeños, or 1-5 Red Hill bbq pulled pork sandwiches, but if it's on here, it's a certified "Jam and a Half." And I'm not talking about your traditional smuckers strawberry. I'm talking whether it's the lyrics, the beats, the melodies, the instruments, the message, the voice, the feeling, the _________, it's a jam and a half...

A Jam and a Half is a song that at one point in time, something, for some reason, made it a jam and a half. You never know when it might hit. It might have been the studying for an exam and hearing a lost gem on your ipod, could be that one song that you wake up to singing, could be something that you hear moose yodeling in the shower and look up on Youtube. Doesn't matter where it's from, where you hear it, or why you're feeling it at that point in time. But once it's been deemed a "jam and a half," it will forever be a "jam and a half."

Hopefully I'll have some guest bloggers on here, hopefully AMitch will grace your monitor with a post or two, moomoo might get in, but please no 80's dead...But come back for good music of all styles, all genres, all decades, because we keep it a little groovy around here...