Monday, November 30, 2009

Sublime - Badfish

Introducing a new member of the jamandahalf family (but an old member of my family) Griffin "Crime-Dogg" Halpern, or simply Griffdogg. An all time chiller and world renowned positive vibration distributer, Griffdogg has been doling out knowledge to the people of the planet for years and has blessed us with his wisdom. Thanks brother.

Oftentimes when I play DJ for an eclectic group of individuals, I throw on some Sublime. Not only is it great music, I do it to please the masses. Regardless of the type of music people may fancy, everyone can relate to the energy, passion, and soul that lace every Sublime track. Bottom line, it makes the booties shake. So next time you are kicking it and want to please the heads, do yourself a favor and bump some Sublime.

Sublime, the prominent So-Cal collective, spawned jamandahalfs like it was their job. Fusing punk rock, roots reggae, dub, acoustic, hip-hop, and ska, they forged a defining sound. Sublime’s music characterized their fun-loving, substance abusing, police despising, ganja toking, Dalmatian worshiping, 40 ounce pounding, surf riding, tattooed existence.

This Jamandahalf, Badfish, was featured on the band’s 1991 demo tape Jah Wont Pay the Bills and later released on their 1992 studio debut 40 oz to Freedom. Badfish combines a light dub rhythm, soulful guitar solo, and classic Nowell vocals that please the ears and stimulate the senses. Like much of Sublime’s work the song’s playful sound and surfer lyrics disguise its true context. Most people recognize Badfish as the Jamandahalf it is, while ignoring its metaphors that tell the common story of addiction.

Tragically, Nowell’s ways as a “bad fish” (or heroine user) precipitated his death and the end of Sublime. Symbolic of his struggle with addiction, Nowell tattooed the skeleton of a fish on the inside of his right arm in an attempt to disguise his track marks.

“Lord knows I’m weak, Wont somebody get me off of this reef”

Friday, November 27, 2009

Justice-Phantom Part 1.5 (live)

There's not much more Euro than techno music. For some reasons, most Americans don't get it. We need guitar riffs and lyrics about hard living and our dog leaving us. On the whole, we look for that perceived realness, and love those sing-a-long ballads that everyone knows the words too. Doesn't have to be the best music, but we like those catchy tunes, songs that we can feel good singing at the top of our lungs. And you sure daggone it can't sing along to no euro techo!

Other than techno (and by techno I mean trance, electronica, house etc), what else does europe have that the US hasn't adopted in some way? Great espressos and mixed coffee drinks? I can go to the Mickey D's around the corner for a uber french McCafé any time of the day. Tight jeans and skinny shirts? Have you seen a hipster lately? Even our health care will soon (hopefully) be a couple of shades more Euro soon. But one trend that has never truly caught on is music that I will fit under the giant umbrella of "techno." Despite some artists like Tiesto, David Guetta, Calvin Harris, etc, getting some festival love and larger tours, I would say that American society as a whole just hasn't accepted this music yet, hasn't made it their own. I mean, shoot, I've been trying to convert moose for years; no luck. And he's more american than corn bread and miley cyrus.

But listening to this jam and a half, one wonders when will people start realizing the energy, the emotion, the rawness of a lot of the techno music out there. Constantly evolving, changing, and reaching higher heights,  today's scene could be compared to what happened to hip hop in the late 80s and early 90s: DJs who pushed boundaries, the infusion of new sounds, the reawakening  and revitalization of a style of music. Justice, the french duo, are among the leaders of this current wave, and have a distinct sound, harder than other djs, but without missing any creativity or complexity. Phantom Part 1.5 stands out because no matter whether the beat is building up or dying down, whether it's using a sample of their own song or whether they're just using a pounding bassline, it's pure, unfiltered, energy. The crowd is living for each new movement, each subtle change, and the fusing of their noise and the music of two musicians who after only one album are among the masters of their craft, combines to make a jam and a half.

Download Here

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tweedy Covers Dylan

We got to keep the jams coming and have a lot of buddies who got some serious musical knowledge. Our good buddy Amitch will be providing you guys with a slightly different taste in music along with a generous side of biting wit. See his hilarious Dear Amitch column at

The Legendary Bob Dylan has had countless numbers of people cover his original music, ranging from the crisp cutting vinyl of Joan Baez to the eerily familiar rasp Jeff Tweedy gives A Simple Twist of Fate. Tweedy covers A Simple Twist of Fate for the original soundrack of the Dylan documentary I’m Not There. In Tweedy’s version, deep bass fills the empty hallway of Dylan’s old recording and violins fit eloquently in place of his rustic harmonica. Tweedy pumps Dylan’s lyrics with epic soul, fit for a tremendous score.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cat Stevens - Here Comes My Baby

Im talking about Cat Stevens, or Yusuf Islam as he goes by these days. The British singer songwriter turned Islamic warrior for peace has certainly had one of the strangest runs of any musician I have ever come across. After coming up quickly in the British music scene at the age of 18, he got knocked back to reality by a serious bout with tuberculous, and credits it with shifting his ideology and opening his eyes to the real importance of life. His songs got more introspective and in this period he wrote a lot of the songs that would make him the cult figure he is today.

Cat Stevens is one of my personal favorite artists (yeah I know thats kinda embarrassing), Im all about his classic easy listening tunes; the ones filled with whispered wisdomisms and soulful croons. Great joints like Trouble, The Wind, Hard Headed Woman, and I Want to Live in a Wigwam (thats not a joke...its a jam). But this track aint those, not even close, this is more bubblegum pop than folk; but that doesnt make it bad. Contrarily, it may make it even better. To hear Cat Stevens playing as a youth before his stand against popular culture is a bright glimpse of ignorance's bliss.

Here Comes My Baby
is a classic pop hit, easy on the ears, long on the chorus, and catchy on the beat. Its the same tale of heartache that has echoed throughout the annals of music ever since people started singing or falling in love, one of the two. But rather than being discredited by these plastic qualities, instead it rises above them and shows that music can be great regardless of the style or subject. So please sit back and enjoy the uplifting pop stylings of the one and only Cat Stevens.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Jam Behind the Jam #2: Labi Siffre-My Song

In the second of our ongoing "Jam behind the Jam" series, we bring you Labi Siffre's epic jam, "My Song," a tale of being confident in oneself no matter what the circumstances. Labi, an openly gay British singer, songwriter, and poet, was born in England to a Barbadian/Belgian mother and a Nigerian father. Throughout his life, he performed across the world and worked with a host of musicians ranging from Ike and Tina to the Supremes, released 10 solo albums, and was an activist for a whole host of social causes and issues including the apartheid, gay's rights, and civil rights. Labi was not only covered by Jay-Z in his song Streets Iz Watching, but Eminem used part of his song "I Got The" to create his breakthrough single, "My Name Is."

Wait, wait, wait. What? An openly gay singer/songwriter was covered by Eminem? The same Eminem equally likely to drop a fire freestyle and diss gays? Yea. That Eminem. This Labi. Labi's music is timeless and despite a soft piano melody and smooth vocals, "My Song" is about the hardest thing that someone can probably ever do, stand up for who they are despite haters telling them that they're wrong.  I first heard Labi's song hidden behind Kanye West's song "I Wonder" and immediately I wondered (hehe) where Kanye dug his sample up. Luckily, "My Song" surpassed all expectations. A true Jam Behind the Jam, Labi's spits incredible knowledge and strength over the easiest of grooves. Take it to heart when he says:
"I may not always sing in tune
And sometime you don't hear me
But you don't have to be near me
To know that I'm singing."
And keep singing. We sure do.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Big L - Put It On

Introducing Adam "Grilled Cheese" Johnson, hip hop connoisseur and renowned funky knowledge dropper. Thanks for the post Johnson hopefully this will be the first of many!

50 Cent was shot 9 times, and he survived. He later went on to boast in a song, “Got shot 9 times real n****s don’t die.” Big L was shot 9 times, and he died right there on the spot. I guess he wasn’t as hard as 50 Cent.

But he was definitely more talented. In the mid-90s he was on his way up, breaking onto the scene as part of the D.I.T.C. Crew with artists like Fat Joe and Lord Finesse. His 1995 disc Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous was chalk-full of jams and featured collaborations with names like Kid Capri, Cam’ron, and Jay-Z. It had little commercial success but industry figures couldn’t deny his talent, and he transformed into one of the most sought-after MCs on the east coast. His forthcoming album, The Big Picture, saw him working with legends like Big Daddy Kane & Kool G Rap, and even featured a collabo with the late, great 2pac Shakur. He was slated to sign with Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella Records in early 1999. The sky was the limit—his upcoming record deal would have netted him millions, allowed him to work with the best producers around, and solidified his status as a household name. Then he got shot in the face. Game over.

Fortunately, before his death, he gave us this jam-and-a-half. Lord Finesse’s beat is simple drum-and-bass with a nice xylophone loop thrown in to boot, and it is the perfect canvas for a rapper like Big L to tell us how good he is at stuff. What exactly is he good at? Rhyming, shooting people, and making money, to name a few. But when you can string words together the way he does, it doesn’t matter what your subject matter is because it just sounds dope. People will undoubtedly frown on the lyrical content, but compare this video to other rap videos you have seen—no fancy cars, no jewelry, no shiny suits, no women degrading themselves—just a rapper showing off his skills in the neighborhood where he grew up. It’s quintessential golden-era hip hop—an MC who is making music for the art and not for the money, and a producer who lets his drums do the talking without any special effects. In today’s world of T-Pain & the Black Eyed Peas it’s just plain refreshing.

This jamandahalf (new word, call up Webster have him add it to his book) embodies lyricism like no other. Big L doesn’t have anything profound to say, he just wants to shoot the gift. “I’m known to gas a hottie and blast a shottie//got more cash than Gotti, you don’t know? Betta ask somebody.” Kind of reminds me why I liked hip hop in the first place. Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Miles T. Bird-Riding Trains

From time to time, when we get a little scorched from providing only the hottest jams, we'll drop a dope video or two, with a musical tie-in, clearly. We already brought you one of the hottest cyphers around, so here's something a little more mellow, something to warm your bones on a chilly Cali desert night like this.

I interned in Hyderabad, India this summer, working for a microfinance organization called APMAS. Learned a lot, had a great field visit, and got to travel around India, so overall a pretty good summer, despite what shall forever be known as the "Great Curry Flu of 2009." One thing that impressed me about India are the trains. I took a couple overnight trains, and in some ways they are everything that India is not: usually on time, orderly, efficient, with surprisingly minimal hassle. On the other hand, its hard to think of anything more India than its trains: a sprawling network connecting the biggest of metropolises and rural towns like the backwater Guntakal (try finding that on a map). Entire families offering you food on overnight journeys, chai wallahs walking down the aisles, hollering,  beggars haunting the aisles, looking for change. Although my 6'6'' frame must have been a sight, squishing into sleeping compartments made for men a little shorter and squatter than I am, I enjoyed the rides immensely.

But this post isn't about me. A sophomore buddy of mine was in Bangladesh this summer, working for the most famous of all microfinance organizations, the Grameen Bank, and had a little train ride of his own, something that I wanted to try, but never dared. Him and some friends climbed to the top of the car after it had started and rode for an hour and a half chilling on top with some little kids, kicking it hard (read the full story here). He made an awesome video about it featuring the ubiquitous "Paper Planes" (but still jam and a half worthy) by MIA. If you're wondering why he put that song to a video about riding the top of a train; stop what you're doing, rent slumdogg millionaire, then come chill with us here again. Enjoy the video, because I definitely did. I also added a video of my own where I rented a little motorcyle for a day in central India and rode around. Excuse the poor quality and the weird purple shade, and the lack of cute kids...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Jimi Hendrix - Red House

It has been brought to the attention of myself and the big man that while we are postin dope songs there has been a serious under representation of the electric guitar. So what better way to rep the most recognizable instrument in modern music than with an all time classic. Widely (though certainly not universally) regarded as the greatest guitar player to ever live, Jimi had not only one of the most unique sounds but also styles ever played. Growing up in Seattle the lefty simply took his Supro Ozark, flipped it upside down, started wailing, and never stopped. As Hendrix taught himself to play he developed an unprecedented style nearly impossible to duplicate.

While Jimi's tale took a number of incredible twists on its way to an all too early end, that is a story unto itself. This is simply about a song. A song thats sings the soul of the man himself. Its a blues song and as Jimi sings, lord mercy does that guitar weep. The slow and heavy rythms just set James up to spark the guitar and let the fire speak for itself. It builds, and builds, just pourin on the sauce until Jimi lets you know whats comin, and then lights it. And that my friends is like watching lightning strike, like watching a falling star streak the sky. He tells a story with his solos that doesnt need words, each note is so descriptive that it fills you with emotion. And every string comes off so clean that you understand his meaning just by listening to how he bends each note. So, sit back, turn up the volume as loud as youre comfortable with, and enjoy. I threw in a live clip so you could see the man in action (not to mention one of the funnier hippies of all time on the bongos).

Download Here

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ben Harper-Fool for a Lonesome Train

If you were to take a short walk south-west from CMC, walking along shady, tree-lined avenues and passing quiet houses, one would find themselves in "The Village," the oddly named "downtown" of Claremont, filled with restaurants, boutique stores, and the latest yogurt hot spot, Yogurtland. Although the Village is a great place to grab dinner or a drink, a gem is the Folk Music Center, owned by Ben Harper's parents (Ben himself is a Claremont native and his brother is a big fan of our archrival Pomona's soccer team). Although his suburban roots don't quite account for the soul and power of his music, one gets a better sense of his breadth and depth upon entering the store. Filled with guitars, sitars, banjoes, ukeleles, among others, the influence of growing up to parents who constantly had musicians of all backgrounds and styles come through  for shows and new instruments clearly shows in Ben's music. Whether playing a gnarly slide guitar solo or singing gospel, Ben Harper is one of the most talented and unique artists out there now.

 This Jam and a Half is a bittersweet tune of regrets, past loves, and mistakes. Ben sings as someone who can't quite settle, whether it be with someone or somewhere, and is a fool for a lonesome train, is a fool for leaving situations and people behind. He does so because he does not know better, that is who he is, and who he always will be. He recognizes who he is and the pain he causes (so far away, but I still feel your pain), but is satisfied with the live he lives. Struck with wanderlust and a yearning to go, this person might seem crazy but is "painfully sane." Sung with raw emotion and a perhaps even a vulnerability that few artists can convey, Ben sings as a travelling artist, here one day, gone the next, but gradually making his mark on the world...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Goldfish-Hold Tight

While the Bat Signal might let the Caped Crusader know that something's afoot, there's nothing like knowing that people are living well, knocking back a couple of beers, chilling with good folk around them, loving life. And chances are if they're playing this newest Jam and a Half, they're having a helluva time.

Straight out of the host of the 2010 World Cup (we're going!), Goldfish brings a unique sound, one that is immediately recognizable, but at the same time is a little edgier, has a little extra funk, a little more Africa. On a beat with the funkiest sax since the days of Bill "Slick Willy" Clinton in office, the duo from Cape Town give "Hold Tight" an infectious energy which makes you realize that you don't want the song to stop, ever.

The two members of Goldfish, David Poole and Dominic Peters, met in school and are quietly blowing up. Recently opening up for the likes of Paul Van Dyk and Basement Jaxxx, among others, the two are creating a sound that mixes the rave culture of Europe and infuses it with jazz, live instruments, and African undertones. Not content to simply stick to their macs, their lives shows have them playing the sax, drums, flutes, all sorts of crazyness, bringing a layer of inventiveness to an already flourishing music scene. "Hold Tight" is a jam and a half for all the right reasons, and it doesn't matter if you're looking for a song to let some energy off before an exam, or get a party going, this is it. Goldfish are aiming to up the funk a little, and from what I hear, I wouldn't bet against them. I added the original song and a live version with some instruments. Check out YouTube for some other sick shows.

Download Here

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

John Lennon - Watching the Wheels

Music is all about feeling free to express yourself as you truly are, and here at JamandaHalf we feel as though respect is deserved for stickin your neck out. Whether its Andre 3K singin about vampire love or Willy Nelson puttin out a reggae album (yeah those actually happened) these are the people pushing music forward. Don't be fooled, not all of them turn out to be jams, let alone Jam and a Halfs, but the ones who do need to be recognized.

While some people may feel as though anything related to the Beatles is as mainstream as music can get, they are forgetting the criticism that the four faced after their acid soaked departure from classical pop music in the middle 60's. John Lennon, the real song writer, not to mention spiritual leader and front man of the group, faced the most criticism from the yuppies of the world. Furthermore, as he and his relationship with Yoko Ono received more and more of the blame for breaking up the Beatles, even some of his fans started to turn on the man. It's no wonder he might have been feelin a bit estranged, but in this condition he put together a classic track for all the world's misunderstood.

Watching the Wheels is a celebration of individualism , of doin your own thing, a classy F*** Off to anyone who is mindin your business instead of their own. Lennon wrote the song for what would be his final album released just three weeks before his death in 1980. While the album version is nice, my favorite is the acoustic cut where Johnny pours some real genuine soul into the vocals. Watching the Wheels is a stand for well as a certified Jam and a Half.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Raekwon - Incarcerated Scarfaces

Straight from the slums of Shoalin, a force so cryptic and mystical that a single title fails to encompass all it represents. Im talkin about Raekwon, the Chef, Lex Diamonds, Louie Diamonds, Shallah Raekwon, the Black Stallion, or simply Rae. The master of slang forms one ninth of the original Wu Tang Clan, but it is off his debut solo album Only Built for Cuban Linx that the Chef cooked up a track that would become an all time rap classic. "Incarcerated Scarfaces" is simply the definition of what Rae is all about: (1) kickin the hardest, grimiest, most thuggish raps around, lettin everyone know how it happens in Staten; and (2) spittin one of the most frenetic rhyme styles around.

Few cats have the dexterity of lexicon to include so many rhymes and keep the flow fresh, but Rae relishes each line, fillin em up to the brim. The RZA cuts one of his vintage beats to accompany the chef mixing influence from the far east with the simple and rugged style that he has become so well known for. The combination is an explosion of street flavor and fly rhymin that left a mark on the rap game, that still hasnt faded for those who know where to look. I did hear that you could catch it in Ceaser's Palace eatin salads...
(For best results listen with the lyrics)

Download Here


Juan Luis Guerra-Ojala Que Llueva Cafe

People often say it's the small things in life that count. That it's about the smiles, the winks. That it's about sitting around a room with your best friends, talking about nothing, but having a helluva time. That it's knowing that no matter how far someone is, that they can still feel like they're right next door. I feel that a lot of times, big city living has people forgetting about the little things, pushed aside in favor of long run benefits. What I love most about going to the country; whether it be rural Alachua County, Florida, or in the middleofnowhere Andhra Pradesh, India, is that people still focus on the small things, those bits of sunshine, instead of the cloudy day.

Juan Luis Guerra has got some serious jams, but none more so than this true jam and a half, Ojala Que Llueva Cafe. I first heard this song in my junior year of high school, when my Spanish professor played this song as part of his weekly song quiz. Each week we were given a new song in Spanish that we had to memorize, and even though my taste in music wasn't very eclectic back then, I knew this was a jam and a half....

Juan sings as a poor Dominican campesino, living in the countryside, working to make a meager but decent living. "Ojala" says Juan over and over again. May it. Ojala. But what this farmer hopes for isn't a fatty benz, or a mansion next to hansen, he wishes for little things like less suffering on the farm, being able to plant sweet potatoes and strawberries, and to plow the fields with his loved one. This farmer has it figured out. Even though he lives a life that many of us would consider impossible, he's living with dignity, he's happy, and the only thing he wants are a couple of things that we consider everyday goods. He's got it good.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Jam Behind the Jam: James Brown-The Funky Drummer

This is the first manifestation of a segment me and the Big man like to call "The Jam Behind the Jam." Its a spot where we pay tribute to the legendary roots of music, the artists whose own jams are so powerful and awe inspiring that they in turn spark the creation of other jams. That being said there is truly only one place to start.

Hip hop is a culture that was born out of an oceans worth of musical influences: jazz, funk, soul, blues, and so many more that were woven into the breaks of early hip hop. As both technology and rap stylings progressed, the art of sampling parts of songs to be included cohesively on the track became a staple of the hip hop genre. While rap tracks have sampled everything from Enya to Earth, Wind, and Fire, no artist has been sampled as much as the Godfather of Soul, Mr. James Brown. But beyond this, one key song was laid down in that fateful summer of 1969 that would become the most recognized beat in all of hip hop: The Funky Drummer. It was that day that drummer Clyde Stubblefield dropped a beat that was so funky, they had to name the entire track after it. So funky they had to throw in a "bonus beat reprise" of the track at the end of the side. So funky that it has become the most sampled track in rap history.

Check the stats: its not even close. You want a chart?

...there you go. The song has been used so many times that it is ingrained in what hip hop is and will continue to be. The beat creates a standoff: energy, emotion, and intensity; you could see Muhammad Ali steppin into the ring to the beat, ready to square off. In this same way hip hop tracks have been using it to tip off battles or kick off any track since day 1. The whole song is in fact a jam and a half, but if you want to kick right to the beat you can skip to 5:30 or just check out the reprise. Enjoy.

Big Boi-Shine Blockas

We all got them....They creep up on us...sneankily weaving their way into our headphones...coming on at a party after we've had a couple drinks, playing across your dorm hall...They are there, and no matter how hard you try to deny it, they are jams....jams and a halfs.....maybe even a couple jam and three quarters...naw, that aint even possible.

No matter how much of a music purist/snob you are, everyone's got their guilty pleasures. Those songs/artists that you don't like telling people about. The ones that you listen to with the windows closed and the blinds drawn. But here at Jam and a Half, we're advocating a revolution in music. Sing the music you love. Dance to the songs that everyone else hates. Hype jams even when the world questions...Because in the end, being a jam and a half is not about what Frank your local pizza delivery guy is jamming to, its about what you're feeling in that moment. I'll be the first one to announce that I do, in fact, sometimes like listening to Enya...Moose has an affliction for the sappiest of John Denver songs. There. We said it. That feels good.

This new Jam and a Half comes off of Big Boi's often often delayed solo album, the geniusly titled "Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty." On the first listen, Shine Blockas was a disappointment; Big Boi's lyrics don't bite too hard and Gucci Mane continues to sound mediocre....but don't stop there! Give it another run through....feels a little better huh....I've been jamming to this now for about two weeks, and it feels goooodd. Over a Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes' "I Miss You" sample turned into a beat that drips with soul and swag, Big Boi and Gucci both kill this song. Big Boi, who still has the same mean flow that he did back in the day, is out to show that he deserves his spot as one of the best rappers alive....This jam definitely has it. It has the cool confidence of a rapper who's made it, but is still testing the limits of his talent. It's got a hot new rapper showing that he can keep up with the old guns, and maybe one day be able to teach a young gun the ropes. It's got everything needed to be one of the hottest rap songs of 2009, and could very well take the crown. While I didn't want to admit it at first, "Shine Blockas" is the jam and a half. (Hit read more for a picture that's guaranteed to make you laugh)

 01 Shine Blockas f. Gucci Mane by jamandahalf