Saturday, January 30, 2010

Bob Marley-Acoustic Medley

We've been online for a couple months now, aiming to bring you a eclectic taste of our (and our buddies') favorite music. We've posted about obscure artists and some more mainstream ones across lots of genres. But one artist that we have somehow managed to not post about despite listening to almost everyday is the great Bob Marley.

With a discography as deep and rich as Bob's, everyone has a favorite song. Bob really has jams for days and days and days, and although some of them are overplayed, none of them has become cliche. Marley's timeless music will likely stand as a pinnacle of a genre. No matter how many artists try, no one will ever match the elegance of Bob.

Although I could write jamandahalfs on almost all of his songs, the Acoustic Medley found on Sounds of Freedom is a personal favorite of mine. Going through seven songs, "Guava Jelly/This Train/Cornerstone/Comma Comma/Dewdrops/Stir It Up/I'm Hurting Inside," showcasing some of his lesser known songs (other than Stir It Up), Bob gives the listener a private concert for over 12 minutes. Over a simple guitar riff Bob shows what a master he really was, whether singing about redemption (This Train) or crooning a simple love song (Guava Jelly). Bob's vision and lyrics are spotlighted without the backdrop of his normal band and shine brighter than ever. 

Download Here

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Spinners - Rubberband Man

Some things are funky: psychedelic shades, old chinese food, afros.  Then some things are super funky: Jimi Hendrix on the guitar, Doug Drozd's dance moves, anything ever said by Issac Hayes.  Then there is the Rubberband Man.  Enjoy responsibly, and remember that some things arent quite so funky.  Special thanks to Doug Fresh, much love buddy.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Jam Behind the Jam (Behind the Jam) #4 Fashawn-Samsonite Man

I've been gone for a minute now. First post since January 2nd, and I apologize for the lack of hot music. But I guarantee that this will keep you warm on a cold january night...And to celebrate my return to my online home, I bring you the first jam behind the jam behind the jam. Three takes on one song, but I'll leave it up to you to decide which one is the hottest.

One of my favorite things about hip hop is that through samples used in songs (and sites like this), you can introduce yourself to completely new styles, genres, and artists; taking a step away from the comfort of your favorite music and potentially finding yourself exploring and discovering artists and songs that quickly become your new favorites. Although producers are often derided for just copying music that's already been made, I think the deft use of a sample can make a song that much sicker and improves on the tradition of covering songs. The best producers don't plagiarize, they paraphrase, taking the best part of an old beat and adding the musical equivalent of sriracha on top, adding heat without ruining the flavor. Even some of the most mainstream songs have samples that are so completely obscure, its refreshing...

While the sample of today's jamandahalf isn't as obscure, check the progression of how this jam sampled a jam which covered a jam. Although sharing some qualities, both Fashawn and Billy Paul add something completely new and refreshing to the original Bob Dylan track of "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright," and each version conveys a different meaning. The original Dylan track is the classic tale of a woman not treating her man the way he needed, and the man leaving for greener pastures. With Dylan on his guitar and harmonica, the song has a mournful quality: the man sings of the things the woman could have done to keep him around, but at the end of the day he'll be fine. A perfect example of the complexity of Dylan's songwriting ability, one isn't sure whether to be happy for the man who is leaving his mistreating woman, or sad that the two never really worked out. In stark contrast, Billy Paul's cover conveys an angrier and stronger message. Billy keeps the same story, but injects a confidence and bravado that Dylan's version lacks. There is no hesitation in Billy's voice, no regrets, no second guessing. Once the piano comes in, you know Billy is off, and don't bother looking for him.

Years after the Dylan track was recorded and then covered by Billy Paul, today's jamandahalf features a young rapper from Fresno, California. Only 21 but wise beyond his years, Fashawn released his debut album "Boy Meets World" in October of 2009. Produced entirely by Exile, who is quickly becoming the best producer out there, Fashawn's album is full of dope lyrics, great beats, and a completeness which was absent from most 2009 albums. On "Samsonite Man," Exile flips the Billy Paul version to provide a soulful yet bumping backtrack which lets Fashawn and fellow up-and-comer Blu tell the story of trying to make it in the rap game, travelling from one city to another, not sure where the next paycheck is coming from. While Fashawn and Blu both respect the struggle, and acknowledge the strange combination of skill and luck it takes to make it, neither are looking back. And that's good news for all of us.

So which version do you like best? Let us know in the comments.

Download Fashawn "Samsonite Man"
Download Billy Paul's "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright"
Download Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright"

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Felt-Dirty Girl

My buddy, and fellow wannabe Madrileno, Aleks is a big fan of jamanadahalf, and like we recommend all of yall to do, decided to write up one of his favorites. Thanks a lot Aleks, and I hope you keep them coming...

Murs and Slug, known as kingpins of underground hip-hop, were on tour driving from Oregon to San Fran back in 2001 when a heated discussion broke out about who had the better chance of getting with actress Lisa Bonet.  The argument lasted for a long stretch of the 5 freeway and continued while the tour van pulled into a gas station.  In the Shell's bathroom, while in two seperate stalls, Murs and Slug decided to make a record dedicated to Lisa Bonet with the hopes that one of them would ultimately get to seal the deal with Lisa -may the best MC win.

And so began one of the best collaborations in hip-hop today.  Murs (of Living Legends fame) and Slug (1/2 of Atmosphere) formed the group Felt and released Felt: A Tribute to Christina Ricci back in 04 (similar competition here).  A year later the group brought in Ant (2/2 of Atmosphere) to produce their second album dedicated to Lisa Bonet.  Did either of them seal the deal with Lisa? Who knows.  But with Ant on the beats, the group came up with a song so good that both of them ought to be worthy of the honor.  Ant's funk-infused indie beat literally 
makes your head bob and provides the backdrop for Slug and Murs to rhyme about how they each fell for some "dirty girls."  With slick flows, the two MC's recreate the scene so vividly that you don't even need an imagination to close your eyes and picture this girl's "3 dots tatto'ed between her thumb and her index, 24 waist held the holster for the windex."  Slug's verse reaffirms him as the best white rapper not named Marshall (sorry Asher Roth) and Murs' verse will make any carnivore want to drive 30 minutes outta town for the best veggie burgers around.  Ant's beat can best be described as simply, infectious and together, they make for a certified jam and a half.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mick Jagger - Memo From Turner

It is my great and distinct pleasure to introduce the wise words of Mr. Zachary Ainsley.  Zach is a member of the infamous rap crew N1G and a proverbial fountain of knowledge on many matters not the least of which is music.  An incredible movie and culture connoisseur Zach has been dropping knowledge on me for years, and now he will be dropping it on the community of the world.  Thanks Ainsley for what I hope is the first post of many.
Apologies to The Buggles, but Video Killed the Radio Star was not the first music video. Although Radio Star helped to kick off the pop-music juggernaut MTV in 1981, the world's first real music video premiered nearly eleven years earlier in the criminally under-seen (at least by today's crop of movie-goers) English movie, Performance. The film stars a young Mick Jagger as Turner, a popular British rock star (a stretch, I know) that rents a room to a mafia tough guy who has recently gone on the lamb. As the movie rolls on, Turner and the mafioso engage in a hedonistic game of cat and mouse which eventually reaches its apex when Jagger and one the members of his harem of groupies feed their tenant some not-exactly-garden-variety mushrooms. Predictably, madness ensues. Unpredictably, the movie switches gears into a drug induced musical and introduces the audience to the ultimate diamond in the rough in Jagger's (and the Rolling Stones')  entire catalogue.

Memo From Turner opens with a slide guitar riff that sucks you in immediately and swiftly moves into some spoken word action from Mick that lets you know that he means business. As it continues on, we're treated to the two things every rock song should have: sexual innuendos (“you're a faggy little leather boy with a smaller piece of stick”--not exactly PC) and brazen cries against authority (“the man who squats behind the man who works the soft machine.”) While Jagger builds momentum by continuously oozing sex throughout the song,  it is the gloriously funky slide play of legendary axe-man Ry Cooder that sustains the listener. What Cooder lacks in Keith Richard's coke-fueled lunacy, he more than makes up for with his flat-out ability to play. As the song draws to a close, Mick reminds us who we all work for, but it's Ry who truly writes the checks.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Black Star - Respiration

When the skills of masters intertwine and combine the product is not always greatness, it takes a subtle connection, and only with this do the truly great collaborations come to be.  When the vision and talent of great artists meet it elevates everyone included for the enjoyment of all.  Thankfully as soon as Mos Def and Talib Kweli (circa 97) discovered the magic they could make, they both set aside their solo projects set out to create a full album collaboration.  Black Star, the name a tribute to Marcus Garvey's shipping line, pushes the limits of philosophical exploration, critical social analysis, poetic device and rhyme styling.  I couldve taken any track off the album for this JamandaHalf because theyre all that dope so I stuck with my favorite cut.

Along with Common, the Black Star crew bring the spirit of the city to life by exploring urban culture through rhymes.  A steady dose of personification gives the city the breath and heartbeat that city folk feel the world round.  The tone is dark and ominous but has a special beauty that reflects the hardened passion that each rhymer has for their hometown.  I cant come close to matching the grace and skill of this track's poetic styling in this small intro so Ill let the tune speak for itself.  Please enjoy the lyrical mastercraft of three of the world's finest MCs.

Download Here

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Homage To The Jammers: Putumayo World Music

Griff Dogg is back droppin more knowledge for your mind.  Thanks G :D

As a matter of method, Jamandahalf posts focus on a single artist or group.  Incongruous with the past, this one focuses on a music company.  This post is an homage to some truly knowledgeable cats.  As they say, "game recognize game" and full respect must be paid to the people who, in my humble opinion, do the most to share their knowledge of great music with the masses.  I am one of the many devout followers of the Putumayo World Music Hour, a radio show that is aired weekly in 18 countries around the world and on numerous internet radio stations.  Initially, I stumbled upon the show after getting off from work at a San Diego hostel around 1am on a Sunday night.  I caught the beginning of the show and listened for the whole hour in my car, even though my drive to work took no more than 8 minutes.  Yea, its that good.

Putumayo World Music was founded in 1993 with the goal of "introducing people to the music of the world's cultures."  And over the past 17 years, "the label has become known primarily for its upbeat and melodic compilations of great international music characterized by the company's motto: 'guaranteed to make you feel good!'"  Dan Storper and Rosalie Howarth, the personalities of the radio show, always make good on their promise.

Each weekly radio show has a regional theme.  African Blues, Music of Brazil, Music of Jamaica, Music of Espana, Music of Italy, etc.  I count on the Putumayo World Music House to introduce me to great new music every week.  I am never let down.  I can say that the Putumayo World Music Hour has recommended me to more good, new, music than any other source.  And for that I am truly grateful.  Three cheers to you, Putumayo!

My only knock on Putumayo is that it can take them a long time to update their website with new shows and that their events page on their website is empty.  C'mon Putumayo! Step your game up!

My advice: Go to  Navigate to their radio show using the links on the left side of the screen.  Then click on their radio show half way down the page in the rightish middle of the screen.  The website will let you stream the past three shows absolutely free.  That will keep you busy for 3 hours.  After that, go buy their CDs, which are also available on their website.

1 Love

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Gimmie What You Got - St. Lunatics

This post goes out to the cat who hollered at us through the chat window to throw some love to the lunatics for this classic jam, and I couldnt agree more.  Some songs take you right to the roots of the artist, make you feel who they are, where theyre from, how they feel.  Gimmie What You Got takes you back to St Louis circa 96, when the Lunatics were holdin it down locally as a group of kids that were just comin up.  This was before Nelly blew up, before Murphy Lee was puttin out whack solo albums, even before City Spud got put in prison for a decade.  This was when they were simply reppin their city and their style with nothing to lose.  And you can feel the authenticity.

Each members verse compliments the others filling the song with a diversity of rhyme styles and flows, but the combination is so fluid and natural it leaves the track live with energy.  You can feel more than just the passion of the group, you can feel the fun that they had cookin the jam up.  The content is genuine, the style fresh, the sound great, and I dont even have to mention the killer hook.  Put all these things together and you got a classic rap song, and a true JamandaHalf.

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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Brenda Fassie-Vul’indlela and Nomakanjani

Happy New Year everyone! It’s 2010, and it’s a big year, especially for me and the Mooman. Graduation is looming in a couple of months (and thesisssss), and that we’ll be entering the real world and all that, but to celebrate four great years at CMC, we’re planning a celebration of epic proportions. You are all welcome, clearly. Moose and I, along with infrequent contributor Amitch along with one of my best buddies Kai, are getting to South Africa one way or another. Plane and match tickets are still up in the air at this point, but that’s not the point. The point is, we’re going…

To celebrate our trip, I bring to you a little musical taste of South Africa. We already brought you the modern rhythms of Goldfish, but now we bring you something with a little more African flavor. Brenda Fassie, until her untimely death in 2004, was the face of South African music. And like South Africa itself, she lived a turbulent life. Perhaps most famous for her song "Black President" about Mandela, Brenda was accused of losing her roots for a while, preferring a jet setting lifestyle fueled by drug use and singing mainly in English. Late in her too-short career, she returned to her native tongue, and returned to making hits, including these two. Vul’indlela and Nomakanjani are my personal favorites, and every time I listen to them, I can’t help but get insanely pumped for the Cup. So get up, get your African boogie on, and get ready. 2010’s going to be a great year.