Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Amy Macdonald - Barrowland Ballroom

Barrowland Ballroom

This is probably my favorite song on the album. I just love the happy and upbeat feel of the music and lyrics. I left it off of the original Amy McDonald post because there was no video for it, but it needs to be heard.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Kanye West - rare gems

There are a few rap artists that have great unreleased catalog of music. Tupac and Nas are the first rappers that come to mind, but Kanye West is the third rapper that I think of.

I remember reading in a magazine recently about how the crown jewel in Kanye's Graduation cd was the song "Homecoming" with Coldplay's Chris Martin. I remember thinking how I thought that version of the song didn't even come close to matching the feel of the original.

The original version was on the advance version of the "College Dropout" album, but didn't show up in the later released retail version. I'm guessing because of sample clearance issues.

I remember that I had three favorites on the advance version of the album and I was telling people how good the album was. It's funny that two of my favorite three songs didn't show up on the final retail version, but yet the retail version was better than the advance version. It just goes to show how much quality material Kanye had recorded for his album.

Here's two rare Kanye gems:

Home - the original version of the song with John Legend left off of "College Dropout" that was later re-recorded and turned into "Homecoming."

Good Night (f/Mos Def & Al Be) - Here's a track that was made available as a bonus track on the Japan version of "Graduation." This is such a better showing for Mos & Kanye (especially for the Mighty Mos Def) than "Drunk and Hot Girls." For whatever reason that made the album, and this didn't.

I feel that "Homecoming" doesn't come close to "Home," but that could be because I loved the original version so much that the newer version just sounded odd to me. I spoke to a friend a couple of days ago who loved "Homecoming" and didn't like "Home." I suspect for the same reason that I liked "Home" (he got used to the newer version, so the original version sounded odd when he heard it).

This is just the tip of the iceberg on Kanye's great unreleased catalog...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Amy Macdonald - This is the Life

We all have those albums that we listen to a couple of times and a couple of songs jump out at us and we find ourselves listening to just those songs and don't pay the rest of the album much attention. Well, usually that's for good reason cause the rest of the album doesn't catch us. Occasionally we miss out on the greatness of an album cause it doesn't catch us at first listen. Luckily, I decided to give this album a second and third listen before it disregarded the rest of it and I'm glad I did. What I found was a great album by a 19 year old Scottish singer/songwriter that'd be impressive even if she was 39 years old.

Her parents must have known that she was going to be something special when she taught herself how to play the guitar fueled with only the passion to write and play songs. That passion that drove her to teach herself how to play the guitar still shines through in her music.

Here's three great songs from the album:

Mr Rock & Roll - This was the first song that caught my attention from the album.

L.A. - This is the newest single.

Poison Prince - Her first single.

This extraordinary debut cd doesn't have a US release date yet, but it is available in the UK iTunes page with 3 exclusive bonus songs. I'm looking forward to hearing much more great music from this talented lady. I can see her becoming a huge critically-acclaimed worldwide star in the future. When that happens you can let everyone know that you were up on her way back in 2007...

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Joe Budden is now free!!!

To celebrate one of the best rappers in the game's release from the hold of Def Jam I'm going to post some classics that he's released since his self titled debut album in 2003 and one song from his debut cd. I'm not bashing Def Jam, but it was clear that they didn't see the greatness in him that the rest of us did when we heard both of his installments of the Mood Muzik series.

Hopefully now we'll get to hear some new music from him. I'm looking forward to hearing Mood Muzik 3 as well as his sophomore album. What separates Joe from most other rappers is that he has a brutal honesty and shares his uncut thoughts in his music.

Joe Budden - Calm Down

In this song Joe shares the story of how he overcame drugs.

Joe Budden - If I Die Tomorrow

In this song Joe Budden looks back at his life and accomplishments if he were to die tomorrow. Though many people would at first think about what they haven't yet accomplished, I like that this is a positive song that focuses on what he's already accomplished. This isn't exactly what you'd expect from a rapper who's only released one official album that went gold but was expected to go platinum.

Joe Budden - Stained

"I pour my heart out on wax you gotta feel me..."

After listening to these songs you can probably see why Joe has such a cult following. He doesn't hold anything back in his music and that's why his fans feel that they actually know him. In a day where most rappers have to get into character to rap, Joe is a breath of fresh air to people who want to hear great wordplay from someone who's real.

Monday, October 8, 2007

My 2 favorite Lily Allen songs

I really enjoyed Lily Allen's "Alright, Still" album for two main reasons. The first reason is that even though the sound of the album is bubble-gum pop (with a hit of hip-hop & reggae influence), the lyrics were edgy.

The second reason is because of the story behind how her album got released. She was signed and her label wanted to send her to the "hit factory" and work with big songwriters & producers to become a manufactured star. Lily refused and instead recorded her own songs and posted them on her myspace page. She got such a following in England that her myspace songs were getting radio play and her label let her release her music her way.

It's good to see that musical integrity still means something to some people. Could you imagine how much better the quality of music being released by these record labels would be if the artists & people had the power (like in this case)? The unfortunate thing is that most artists don't have the luxury to take this stand cause they need the label to support them if they still want to eat. Lily is the daughter of actor/musician Keith Allen and film producer Alison Owen, so she probably didn't need to be a slave to her record label. That still doesn't make her standing up to her record label any less credible in my eyes.

Now that you're up on why I liked this album so much here's some songs so you can see if you'll enjoy it. I'm going to share my two favorite songs from her 2006 "Alright, Still" cd.

DJ Safe's 1st Favorite) LDN

I love how this song sounds so beautiful & upbeat, but if you listen to the lyrics it speaks of how things look great at first glance, but if you look closer you can see things for what they really are.

"When you look with your eyes, everything seems nice
But if you look twice, you can see it's all lies..."

This song describes what Lily sees in London (aka LDN), but really could be applied to almost anywhere. This video gives great visuals of what she describes in the song.

DJ Safe's 2nd Favorite) Alfie

Here's a song that sounds like it could be the music to a Disneyland ride until you listen to the lyrics. Everyone's had a friend that is a weed-head and smokes too much, so almost everyone can relate to this song. That person in Lily's life is her brother, Alfie.

Here's her song trying to talk to Alfie to get him to stop smoking and get out of the house. Though her brother didn't appreciate the song too much (I read that he broke a laptop computer when he first heard the song), I'm glad that she shared it with the rest of us.

Like the LDN video this video offers great visuals of the story that she's describing in the song.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

KRS-One - False Pride

I had an urge to listen to this story by KRS-One yesterday and I thought
that I'd share the story w/ you. I think that this story shows some some
rappers actually are poets...

False Pride by KRS-One by (from his 2001 cd "the Sneak Attack)

Okay now, listen to this..

{*sound effect: seagulls*}

A mystical teacher sat by the seaside

It was about five o'clock cause we heard the free ride

Anyway; the teacher was talking in stride

sitting upon a rock that was wide

and warning against false pride

"Come to where I reside!" a woman cried

and the teacher replied, "Do you serve your fish fried?"

"Yes," she replied, "with potato salad on the side."

And the teacher replied, "Well where do you reside?"

She said, "Up on the hillside, it's not a far ride.

If you came to have dinner, I would be so gratified."

The teacher replied, "It's six o'clock, seven o'clock, you decide."

She replied, "Seven o'clock, do you like stir-fried?"

She was mystified and felt so dignified

The teacher was coming to the house where she resides

So she purified with pesticides

{*sound effect: chemicals sprayed*}

Called her friends up nationwide

{*sound effect: phone being dialed*}

Some of her friends were tongue-tied they felt so glorified

She made steamed fish, baked fish, fish that was fried

Soup, steamed vegetables, potato salad on the side

{*sound effect: food cooking*}

You could smell the bread in the oven far and wide

Natural juices and water purified

Organic fruits brought from the countryside

with silver forks and knives placed side by side

{*sound effect: silverware clinks*}

You could not be dissatisfied;

looking out the window staring at the mountainside,

you would have died

6:59 she's swollen with pride

As the moment intensified, there's a knock from outside

{*sound effect: door knocking*}

She opens the door, for the teacher has arrived

{*sound effect: door creaks open*}

But to her surprise, it was a bum who cried

"Please, I smelt the bread from outside!

One piece," and then she replied

"The teacher is coming, he's soon to have arrived.

You're making me look bad, come on now, step aside!"

The bum then replied,

"When I say I'm hungry I haven't lied.

Give me some of that chicken that you just fried."

{*sound effect: food cooking*}

She replied, "Chicken - fried?

No that's for the teacher, you're not purified"

Then she slammed the door and went back inside

{*sound effect: door closes*}

Sat on the couch with the TV Guide

She looked at the clock, it was 7:09, then 7:30;

he still hasn't arrived

Eight o'clock, she's on the downside

Nine o'clock, by now she's teary-eyed

She's pissed off and her anger multiplied

She cried, then fell asleep dissatisfied

Next day she woke up, and was preoccupied

with meeting the mystical teacher who lied

Where could he hide?

She ran down by the seaside

{*sound effect: seagulls*}

He was there teaching about - false pride

"You lied!" she replied, "You lied!

You said you'd be there at seven o'clock, you lied!"

He replied, "No I have not lied.

I came at 6:59, and you told me to move aside.

I asked for bread and the chicken that was fried.

{*sound effect: food cooking*}

And you said, that I wasn't purified."

She replied, "I wasn't notified!

I had no idea that you was the bum that cried!"

And the teacher sighed, then replied,

"This concludes our lesson on false pride."

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The next great rapper - Saigon (pt 1 of 2)

To celebrate the news of Atlantic Records giving a December 4th release date to Saigon's long awaited debut album "The Greatest Story Never Told" I'm posting the first of two parts to introduce Saigon to many people who might not have had the opportunity to hear his music. I found it kind of interesting that they chose Jay-Z's birthday as the release date. I wonder if they're going to do anything with that. Anyways, back to the post...

Anytime someone asks me who are my favorite rappers in the game now there are only two rappers that come to mind. Cormega & Saigon. While Mega (short for Cormega) has three critically acclaimed solo albums out, Saigon has never released an official album.

You're probably thinking "How is he your favorite rapper if he's never released an album?" Well, the answer to that is mixtapes (AKA Mix cd's. Some still refer to them as mixtapes cause they used to be tapes, but today they're all cd's)

Saigon's first mix cd "Best of Saigon" was released in 2003 with DJ Whoo Kid & DJ Kay Slay and he's been releasing classic mix cds ever since.

I first picked up Saigon's 12" single "Say Yes/Contraband" in 2001. At the time Rawkus was the most respected rap label because they were releasing classic records by the likes of Mos Def, Pharoahe Monch, Reflection Eternal, Blackstar, and many other quality vinyl-only classics. I picked the vinyl single up cause I figured odds are there'd be something good on there cause of Rawkus' track record of releasing quality material. At the very least, I thought that I'd get another dope Alchemist instrumental to use.
I was blown away with the lyricism of Saigon on both Say Yes and Contraband for two different reasons. Say Yes had multi rhyme patterns in a catchy chorus that at the same had a anthem feel to it.

"If you be living for death and don't be giving an F
Then hit a pig in the vest and say yes (yes!)
If you be puffing the cess and laying sunk in the S
Then punch a punk in the chest and say yes (yes!)
If you a gangsta, hustla, thugsta that bust slugs
N*gga that don't trust hugs, and don't f*ck with the bustas
Hold a blunt in your right and raise your left
You blessed so you should just say yes (yes!)"

Contraband blew me away because cause of how his lyrics showed that he was a thinker. It was an ill concept that he asked a question then gave four thought-provoking answers in a multiple choice format while at the same time wove them together with ill multi-rhyme patterns.

"The fourth question's a question that's still in me
Who do y'all n*ggas think it was that killed Biggie?
A, southside crips cause Puffy owed 'em a grip
B, some crazy Pac fan that flipped and unloaded a clip
C, missiles from pistols of government officials
D, the same cat that came back and then sang I missed you..."

How can you listen to that and not think "hmmmm?" I don't think that Puffy did it, but it's an interesting question. The point is that he would raise a question that makes you think? Now ask yourself, how common is that with any music artist?

I'll give one song with this update and give you two more on the next update. After listening to the songs in the next two posts you'll get an idea of some of the incredible songs that this man has already released eventhough he's yet to release his debut album.

The Color Purple - This Scram Jones produced banger is a song where he reaches out to talk to gang members to end gang violence. It's lyrical & catchy but not corny.

"It's been a long time coming but I'm about to change things
Holla at these kids that like to gang bang
whether you real wit' it or just playin' games
whether you maintain or bangin' that thang thang
if you're bumpin' this in your whip you should change lanes
slow up and get your brain on the same frame
we all bleed the same blood through the same veins
we all need the same love, feel the same pain..."

To purchase Saigon merchandise (cds, dvds, etc) you can go to his store here. And before anyone asks, yes this is the same guy from the HBO tv show Entourage (where he plays himself). (that's in the acting sense, so my words don't get twisted)

Monday, October 1, 2007

Vanessa Carlton - Heroes and Thieves (10/9/07)

I've always liked Vanessa Carlton's albums. She's pop, but she has her own unique sound. Almost every song sounds like a climax to a musical (not that I've ever seen any besides the South Park movie). She's a singer/songwriter that has a very dramatic piano heavy sound that seems very influenced by her dancer background. You can picture some classically trained dancer doing a routine to almost every song she does.

The success of her debut single 1,000 miles in 2002 was both a gift and a curse. It was a gift because it was hugely successful and made her a household name. It was a curse because after that song ran it's course people didn't want to hear much else from her.

Anyone who gave her other songs a chance were greatly rewarded. Here's some of those songs that made me a fan and had me looking forward to her new album.

Pretty Baby - From her 2002 cd "Be Not Nobody"

White Houses - Lead single from her 2004 cd "Harmonium" I like this song much better than 1,000 miles, but it does have the same feel.

In 2004 her follow up cd Harmonium was released and didn't perform well which led to her and her label parting ways. I was very skeptical when I heard that Vanessa signed with Irv Gotti (of Murder Inc. records). I'm happy to say that it seems like he let her do her and didn't try to get her to sing over a bunch of hip hop beats. What she ended up with is her best album yet.

Here's two songs off of her new album "Heroes and Thieves" that comes out on 10/9/07. I've listened to the cd all the way through 3 times today and I'm going to boldly say that it's one of the best pop albums of the year. If the album doesn't perform well it's not because Vanessa didn't turn in a quality collection of songs. She bares her heart and soul on the album. It was hard to narrow it down to 2 songs to give people an idea of the quality of the album, so I just threw in the towel and posted three.

These three songs are a good representation of the feeling of the album. Vanessa sings most of the album with the feeling that she's singing them to her boyfriend (or ex-boyfriend). I feel that any of these songs could be huge, but "Come Undone" is my favorite song on the album. With the right promotion & video for "Come Undone" she could have another smash on her hands.

My Best

The One (with Stevie Nicks)

Come Undone

If you listen to these songs you'll notice that the piano is not as much in the forefront of these songs as some of her past songs. This theme continues throughout the album. Instead of the piano being as dominant and (at times) overpowering as it was on past albums, in this album the piano is more of a compliment to Vanessa's songwriting & voice. It reminds me of the time when Mariah Carey made an effort to put her high notes more in the background after her Music Box album. She still showed that she had the talent, but it was more subtle.

I liked Vanessa's old sound, but her new sound is an upgrade. Hopefully when October 9 rolls around music fans will think so too.