Human Beings on Paper: Ab-Soul and Kendrick Lamar

Soul: Just the mayhem. You know what I’m saying, the extra, extra pills. Things like that. People are easily influenced. I tell ’em the blunt truth, then I’m just blurtin’ some shit out. Cause real is relative. Anyone who really knows knows that. Just speak to them. It’s just about making those connections.

Soul: People wanna learn man, everybody wanna learn. And you can do it in a way that can still be put it in a playlist for the homies. Nothing weird. No disrespect to Immortal Technique, just using him because you said it. But his stuff, it’s fucking brilliant. I can’t wait to meet him. He not trying to compromise, that’s really him. He probably don’t listen to this shit, because he probably feels this is like brainwash shit—because it probably really is, to the weak minded. But I’m just trying’ to be a chameleon, know what I mean? Trying to get this shit on across the board. Harmonize humanity, harmonize humanity.

A Tiny Pebble Hitting a Huge Pond – An Interview with Bruce Fein

It’s very difficult to have a bad conversation with Bruce Fein. In his answers to my questions about deeply troubling current events, the constitutional lawyer showed why his expertise has been sought by everyone from the government of South Africa to to Ronald Reagan. Fortunately for me, he’s good friends with our editor-in-chief, John Whitehead, who hosted him when Fein came into town from D.C. for a speaking engagement. The sun beat in through the blinds as the longtime allies chatted across a paper-cluttered desk.

Review Review: Bloc Party’s Four

The personal pronoun “I” appears a dozen times in the review in reference to me (it also appears several times in quoted lyrics), which is a lot. In my two previous, decidedly positive reviews, I used “I” a combined four times to talk about the most recent albums of Twin Shadow and Nas. A dozen is a lot for a Four review as well, Spin and Pitchfork, probably the two best known sources for alternative music criticism, both gave the album decidedly negative reviews without ever leaning on first person. Both of them dealt exclusively with the album in front of them, criticizing it for what it did. While I panned the album as well, I justified it by talking about how annoyed I was, rather than by pointing out the parts of the music that were doing the annoying.

Show Review: Okkervil River at the Jefferson

I am inclined to tell you these things largely because my sangria-addled mind was almost totally unable to recognize and/or record many of their opening song choices; I was limited to feeling them in impressionistic (drunk) sort of way. I walked into the Jefferson right after eating tapas for two hours in celebration of a friend’s birthday, and at first I only managed to cross my arms, drift into my own thoughts, and strike what I imagined to be a serious critical pose. Sipping my drink (water at this point), I waited for the energy of the music to steamroll my inner imbalance, as it had for many nights, years ago now, when I read Will Sheff’s lyrics as The Stage Names played in my high school bedroom.

Review: Nas – Life Is Good

“Before there was an audience to watch us / I assure you, there was a process.” Nas has had one of the longest and most tumultuous careers of hip-hop’s mainstream, and as the he claims above, he’s been loyal to his methodology regardless of his circumstances. Instead of running from or flaunting his wealth, he embraces the contradictions inherent in being a multimillionaire who still raps about the problems of …continue…

A Fragrant Interview with Yeasayer’s Anand Wilder

When I called Anand Wilder, the lead guitarist and designated press mouthpiece for Yeasayer, he didn’t pick up, Three times. On the fourth try, he picked up after a couple of rings and quickly apologized, explaining that he was walking around Lower Manhattan and that his phone was about to die. He seemed like a nice guy, and  he “avoiding getting on a subway” for the sake of the interview. …continue…

Interview: Budd Carr on Savages and Having the Best Job in the World

Budd Carr has one of the more easily envied job that I have ever heard of; he picks out the music that goes into major motion pictures. Music Supervisor is generally his official title, and he has played that role for eighty-eight films and television show since 1984, when he got his career started with Terminator. Budd, as he insists on being called, probably is best known for his work Oliver Stone, and indeed promotion of that director’s most recent film, Savages, seemed to be the reason why Carr was giving interviews. When I called him, he had another lined up for right after ours. I had seen Savages a few days before the interview, but, since I thought the movie was terrible, I focused our conversation more on his job generally. …CONTINUE…

Review: Twin Shadow’s Confess Explores the Art of Escape

The act of riding a motorcycle puts before safety and stability, impulse, adrenaline and image. For George Lewis Jr., it’s a vehicle not for traversing physical spaces so much as those of the mind, and it seems to work best when ridden solo. The ride is then somewhat egotistical and nihilistic, and that combination apparently makes quite a good muse for a pop album. Confess, Lewis’s second LP under the …continue…

My Confusion: One More Perspective on the Recent Fiasco at the University of Virginia

  Charlottesville, VA June 18, 2012   I headed towards Grounds about an hour before the Board of Visitors meeting was to begin at 3:00pm. It had rained that morning, and my boots got muddy as I took my normal route to Grounds across the train tracks and down Madison Lane. The television stations were already there, setting up cameras and running wires from their satellite dish and antenna-laden vans …continue…