Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Roots feat. Big K.R.I.T.-Make My

There are few things better musically than a rap song that takes its time to drop. My favorite song of all time, "Elevators" by Outkast, knows that good things come to those to wait, and "Make My" by The Roots and Big K.R.I.T. follows that legacy to a T.

I didn't do a "best-of" list for last year, but if I had, Undun by The Roots would have been very very near the top. Today's jamandahalf is a clear standout on that brilliant album, and it truly is an album in the purest sense of the word. Featuring a verse by longtime favorite Big K.R.I.T., The Roots know they have earned the right to ride out for as long as they want to, and that's what they do. Other than said verse by KRIT and a reflective banger by Black Thought, the thing that is most notable about the track is how expansive it sounds. At the beginning of the album, but at the tail end of the life of Redford Stephens, the central character to the story of Undun, both verses focus on taking one final look back on a life of both good and bad before Redford's subsequent suicide. Although the dark lyrics do weigh the song down, there is some glimmer of the triumphant hidden in there somewhere. Finishing an album-long story with a serious dose of class, The Roots give Stephens a proper farewell.

Click here to download

Download The Roots Make My (feat. Big K.R.I.T & Dice Raw)

Monday, January 30, 2012

69 Boyz & Quad City DJ's-What I Want For Christmas

Christmas 2011 is rapidly retreating into the rearview window of 2012, but it's never too early to start celebrating Christmas 2012, right? Kidding there, but Christmas more than anything is all about traditions. My family has done pretty much the same thing for every Christmas since I can remember no matter where we are, of course with a little tweak here or there. One thing that never changes is our Christmas music. My oldest sister starts blasting Christina Aguilera's My Kind of Christmas as early as possible and that is gradually joined by the Three Tenors and some traditional Finnish jams. This year a newcomer hopped on our Xmas Jam scene, on that isn't likely to leave for many many Christmases to come.

The 69 Boys and the Quad City DJ's were among the kings of 90's Southern hiphop and this song took me all the way back to 1st grade when our teacher used to make break out funky dance moves to leave class. The two supergroups take an enternal Christmas class-The Twelve Days of Christmas-and revolutionize it. Featuring dope lyrics such as "I ain't got no chocolate chips/To go along with no glass of milk/But I got some chips and dip baby!/Kool-aid to sip baby!" and "Christmas day the birth of Christ/no doubt/That's what it's all about/Lemme go head stop the beat for a sec.../Show some respect," both verses manage to combine the divine and the absurd over a beat using the best sleigh bells loop ever. So put this on, start getting pumped, because Santa Claus will eventually be coming to town again (And to think, this isn't even the greatest Christmas song ever. This is).

Click here to download

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Rodrigo y Gabriela (feat. C.U.B.A and Anoushka Shankar)-Ixtapa

The best online music "recommend-er" would be the equivalent of a good buddy-aware of all of your music tastes along with your personality; able to think of how the nuances in who you are which would match up perfectly with X new band or Y new rapper. That's why no Pandora will be as good at giving great music recommendations than friends. Luckily one of Moo's buddies passed us an album by this unique Mexican duo named Rodrigo y Gabriela way back sophomore year. Since then I've seen them twice (both times sharing a magical high five with Gabriela) and have consumed their live albums and studio tapes. 

Their newest release Area 52 is perhaps not the long-awaited album of new material some of us were looking forward to; but maybe it's something even bolder. RodGab collaborated with a group of young Cuban musicians along with some other noted artists to essentially recreate some of their most loved jams. From the looks of it, the recording sessions must have just been sublime jam sessions, and the new album is simply incredible-fusing the intense flamenco/metal guitars of Rodrigo and Gabriela with the inclusion of a whole host of new sounds and flavors. This version of "Ixtapa" is a rollercoaster eight-minute long monster of a track that wears many different hats and wears them all incredibly well. Featuring a sitar solo by Ravi Shankar's daughter Anoushka, this song really shows that the duo aren't afraid to share their music with others. In the end, bringing the crew along just makes their music that much sweeter. 

Buy Area 52

Download Rodrigo Y Gabriela Ixtapa (Feat. C.U.B.A.)

Friday, January 27, 2012

AraabMuzik-Lost In A Maze & Underground Stream

AraabMuzik's music is best listened to at high volumes-not in your favorite club or on big speakers, but on your best pair of headphones. Why? Because there is something about his grimy debit album Electronic Dream that's kind of like a untold secret-its music that you don't necessarily want to share with others.

This past weekend on a trip up north I tried to sneak in some Araab on the roadtrip mix. I think a death metal/polka mashup would have gone over better in that Citroen. Adding the sonical equivalent of a black hoody on top of some of the best electronic jams of the past few years, Araab puts out an album that is surprising if nothing else-he used to be best known for producing beats for dipset and videos like this one. On Electronic Dream he flirts with shadows without coming off as too over the top, never falling into the ridiculous depths that dubstep often ventures into. Instead he takes a little bit of that edge and injects it into house, creating a sublime mix. I loved it on the first listen, let me know what you think.

Click here to download "Lost In A Maze"

Download Araabmuzik Lost In A Maze

Click here to download "Underground Stream"

Download Araabmuzik Underground Stream

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hello, Again

It's been a looonnngggg....a long time coming but I knowwwww...it's about damn time for a new post.

Sorry for the wait blogosphere. I've been abusing my duties here, and it's time to hop back on this horse. Why the drought? First of all, music stopped sounding good. I know that might sound kind of strange coming from a music lover, but nothing was exciting me anymore. With a couple gems I picked up from a few end-of-the-year lists, that's changed. I also have to thank going to work for getting me back in the writing mood. What? you might ask. Going to work gave me a fixed amount of time where it was just me, the music, and a bunch of strangers headed to who knows where. Starting back work after Xmas break has definitely gotten me in the mood to write about this music that makes my daily metro drudgery a little brighter. Also, and by far the biggest thing that's happened to JamandaHalf.com in the last month or so, my good buddy Stan and his start-up released a music app for iOS that's been getting nothing but love and features a music list (or "playground") from this humble blog. Download it here and check out some of the best tunes we've written about from the last two years. Lastly, the video below put a huge smile on my face. The Black Stars of Ghana are among the favorites to win this year's African Nations Cup. What do they do to relieve the stress? Have a jam session.

To get out of this drought I'm going to take some advice that a good buddy of mine passed on to me many moons ago: swing away. I'll be swinging away with posts for the next couple days/weeks and so look out for a string of jams coming your way. As always, if you ever feel the urge, your posts are more than welcome. Thanks for coming back.