As rural art forms that have been around for generations, country and folk music have a long history of joining forces to create infrastructure to help support music, principally in festival gatherings, some that have been going on for many years, and some that have reached into urban zones. As an urban art form, and one that is only a few decades old, hip-hop is devoid of the long-standing festival infrastructure roots music enjoys. And as the corporate music world continues to crumble and is able to support fewer artists, while capital and infrastructure to develop upcoming acts continues to contract, hip-hop and indie rock bands have been flocking to traditional roots festivals for support.
One of the great forgotten facts about the United States is that not very long ago the wealthy weren’t all that wealthy. Up until the 1960s, the gap between rich and poor in the United States was relatively narrow. In fact, in that era marginal tax rates in the highest income bracket were in excess of 90 percent. For every dollar you made above $250,000, you gave the government 90 cents. Today — with good reason — we regard tax rates that high as punitive and economically self-defeating. It is worth noting, though, that in the social and political commentary of the 1950s and 1960s there is scant evidence of wealthy people complaining about their situation.
"@basketballtalk: For all the gloom the postponement of training camp inspired, amazing no. of NBA industry peeps are convinced a full season will happen."
Last night, as i was wrapping up my work for the day, i got a text from that just read: “you’ll be charting on Billboard tomorrow. FYI”. They didn’t know the number, they didn’t know any details, they just knew that. Shortly there after, i got an email that said, “you debuted on the CMJ Hip Hop Charts at #3“. Naturally, the first thing i did was text my momma! Then, i got to thinking…
I have been making rap music for a long time, it has been my lively-hood for the last 3 years, and just when i think i can not be surprised anymore, things like this happen. I know this has been the story i have been harping on since the release, but WE did this, no, we are DOING this, with no ad campaign, with no marketing department, with a team of 5 people working day an night pushing “This Is Our Science” to any radio station that will play it, any magazine that will review it, and any person that will take the time to listen. All while a guy named Sparky is covered in tape and shipping invoices in a garage in Connecticut, frantically packing up and shipping out the orders that never stop coming in.
I have never made it on to the Billboard charts…and we debuted at #41 on Hip Hop albums, and #43 on the Heatseekers chart (a chart for new artists…new in the eyes of billboard of course). While i have made it on to CMJ charts before…i have never debuted at such a high number. we landed at #3 on the hip hop radio charts this week! Getting up to #9 on itunes was a total shattering of my expectations…this has just blown my mind.
A lot of people are often confused by how often slip back and forth between the pronouns “I” & “we” when talking about my career, and i would like to explain that, and bring up my final thought about all of this magic that is happening right now:
When i start on a record, it is just me, with my laptop, some nerdy books, and my imagination. However, as the process moves forward, more and more people get added to the equation. Musicians start throwing tracks my way, my producer and i start plotting directions, i run song ideas by friends, i meet with artists to discuss the packaging, homies come into the studio and lay down session work, Congleton engineers everything, a mastering engineer brings it all together, and my manager drives the bus and keeps this whole funny machine running on time. I just counted, and before the album is even released, there almost 50 people that have a direct hand in some aspect of this record. Then you guys get a hold of it…the fans.
You blast in your cars, you plaster it on twitter, like it on facebook, post it on your blog, you play it over the system at your job, you put songs on mixes for the girl you like, and sometimes you just tell someone you love to sit down, shut up, and listen. Once the record is shrink wrapped and in stores, it is out of my hands, it is your record then…and the way you guys have been handling it, is one of the most affirming, inspiring, and exciting things that has ever happened to me.
I made the songs, but my friends helped me make it an album. The label made it available, but you guys made it a success. So forgive me when i use the word “we” when i am talking about my career, but it is very hard to feel like I did this alone, when there are literally thousands of people standing beside me to prove that WE did this together.
WE debuted at #41 on the Billboard Hip Hop Charts WE debuted at #43 on the Billboard Heatseekers Charts WE debuted at #03 on the CMJ Hip Hop Charts WE debuted at #09 on the iTunes Hip Hop Charts WE debuted at #12 on Amazon.com Hip Hop Charts
With no ads, no marketing, no giant pr blitz, no pitchfork, no rolling stone, just word of mouth, hard work and love. This is not MY science. This is OUR Science. Thank you for being my fans, and thank you for being a part of this record.
Congratulations, Andy. Fuck Yeah Astronautalis!! exists because you DESERVE it. You deserve some slightly-obsessed fans who want to expose you to other slightly-obsessed fans, new fans, and people who aren’t fans yet but will be soon.
This is why I love this artist so much. So, so well deserved.
Help Release Levi Strom's new album The Lone Wolf on Vinyl via Kickstarter.com!
The first official release from Big Sur inhabitant Levi Strom since his self titled debut record in 2005. Many of the tracks were recorded live, some right as they were being written. Levi still plays many of the instruments on The Lone Wolf but this time has some help from his friends in the band Cave Country, and fellow LA musicians Trever Beld-Jiminez and Neal Casal. The record almost plays like a greatest hits, which isn’t too surprising considering it’s over 5 years of songwriting, but that’s not to say The Lone Wolf lacks continuety. Actually, to the contrary, The Lone Wolf plays like a record, I mean from beginning to middle to end it’s a real record. Over all this is a soft record, although a few tracks stick out, One Kiss an electro-rock suicide ballad in the vein of 80’s New Wave and Wild Child, a raunchy bar room sing along that smells of early Rolling Stones, in a Stromy kinda way! If you want a taste of the many styles Levi is capable of this record will not disappoint, but be warned that once this thing goes in your speakers it may not come out for awhile, at least until the next Strom record is out.
5. Sage Francis, "Makeshift Patriot": Recorded in October 2001, Sage took just enough time to refine his prose while still exposing his raw nerves. The rapper from Providence, R.I., visited Ground Zero five days after the attacks, and this track recounts his frustration at the bandwagon patriots on the news and in the city, people all too quick to jump in line behind our leaders and cease asking critical questions.
He as much as predicts the subsequent creation of the Patriot Act, warning “Freedom will be defended at the cost of civil liberties.” He decries a media which at the time was panicking America into a patriotic fervor by showing the attacks on the news over and over and over again, while a city and nation in mourning were still trying to heal. Pretty powerful stuff, a snapshot of the times, with an air of urgency, immediacy, and sadness.
It’s unfair, if not uncommon, for a whole lot of young people to think of James Taylor as some kind of grandfatherly wimp, a bald-headed and bespectacled gentle-voiced singer who wouldn’t know a rough day if it bit him.
Alas, the truth is an altogether different story. While Taylor may now seem almost buddha-level calm and centered - a perpetually smiling middle-aged fount of easy-going warmth, your Mom’s favorite singer/songwriter, approved by lite-FM and Starbucks - the fact of the matter is that, once upon a time, he spent nine whole months hospitalized for clinical depression (“It’s an inseparable part of my personality that I have these feelings”), was a down-and-out heroin addict, then, later, a recovering, struggling one. The road he traveled to get to where he’s ended up in today’s popular culture has been an interesting one.
He was the first non-British artist signed to the Beatles’ Apple Records (recording his debut record, James Taylor, at the same time as The Beatles were recording parts of The White Album at Trident Studios), fell back into heroin addiction during these recording sessions, was hospitalized again - and thus, unable to promote his record when it came out - and then, once fully recovered and released, JT went off and got himself into a motorcycle accident that broke both of his hands and both of his feet.
In other words, James Taylor was a bad ass.
Good times were, of course, just around the corner. A year or so after the accident he released his breakthrough record, Sweet Baby James, which, buoyed by the career-defining hit, “Fire and Rain”, quickly became a best-seller. He married Carly Simon in 1972, and released a string of reall good, interesting records throughout the 70s. And thus James Taylor - though with a good deal more hair and still not quite sober (he remained on a methadone maintenance program until finally kicking drugs for good in 1983) - started becoming the James Taylor you now know and (possibly) love.
None of this shows up in the music, or not really any way, at least not in the past 30 years. But that’s okay. The original JT (step off, Timberlake) doesn’t feel the need to parade his past troubles around in his songs to gain any credibility, artistic or otherwise. Instead, he more often concerned himself with a nice finger-picked acoustic melody and the gentle spirit that pervaded even his ‘rougher’ numbers. Still, his gentleness was hard-earned, his peace hard-won. And for a few years there, he was writing some of the best songs in the land.
Editor’s note: we love all these songs. All of them. Well, there were a few tracks off Thank Me Later we’re not crazy about but “Show Me A Good Time” is a banger, don’t even try to deny that. And who doesn’t love Montell Jordan? So yeah, we disagree a bunch here but different strokes for different folks, etc. BRB, we’re gonna go practice the dance moves to “Poison”