Indablog - Indaba Music
News, Sessions and oddities from the Indaba Community
Friday April 09, 2010 at 05:00 PM
The Coltrane Project
John Coltrane is, without question, one of the most innovative and iconic American musicians to ever grace the ears of listeners. Though he only lived to the age of 40, his body of work has become some of the most influential music ever produced, serving as inspiration for every jazz musician to follow. Coltrane had a sound which none could emulate, a sound completely distinctive and unique. In addition, ‘Trane (along with Miles Davis and Bill Evans) progressed the intellectualizing of harmony to another level with his extensive use of exotic modes and augmented based changes. In so doing, he help mold the sound of 1960’s music in a unique and lasting way.
If there wasn’t any evidence that Coltrane’s music had staying power in the Hip-Hop world, Philadelphia hip-hop producer St. Paul has just unveiled his titanic effort The Coltrane Project, a full length release paying tribute to John Coltrane and other artists from the 1960’s with samples from songs by Gil Scott-Heron, Herbie Hancock, and Alice Coltrane. St. Paul began this project back in 2000, and he spent a lot of time conceptualizing how to adequately fuse the lyric driven Hip-Hop with instrumental Jazz. St. Paul says, “since it was an instrumental album, it had to be like a jazz album.” And therefore, he, “was mimicking Elvin Jones’ African influenced rhythms, so (he) could get a feel for how (Elvin) was rocking it.” And thus, St. Paul began shaping his arrangements into The Coltrane Project. In a style akin to J Dilla, St. Paul has sampled, chopped, and composed a beautifully composed album of beats. However, don’t make the mistake of calling this a simple beat CD, it is a story, a symphony, with purpose in every track. One of the most subtle tributes to Coltrane’s memory are the sources St. Paul chooses not to sample from. A Love Supreme, widely considered Coltrane’s magnum opus, and Giant Steps, one of Coltrane’s most striking and revolutionary albums, are noticeably absent from the 13 tracks. However, St. Paul does choose tracks in which the classic quartet of McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones feature prominently.
From the outset, the album has a specific feel, one which continues to the end. The “Intro” is a sample chopped over a beat of an announcer presenting Coltrane, which then seamlessly transitions into the following song with a McCoy Tyner piano intro. St. Paul uses this McCoy sample to build the next track “Wonderful”, which features Johnny Hartman’s vocals from the Irving Berlin tune “They Say It’s Wonderful” sampled from the classic album John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman. Then St. Paul makes the transition into some heavier fare. Directly from the standard based track “Wonderful”, he transitions into a darker sound, featuring Coltrane’s signature meditative solo sound from the song “Alabama”, which Coltrane wrote about a Ku Klux Klan attack on a church in Birmingham, Alabama that claimed the life of 4 school girls. This is followed by a call for “Peace”, which, in addition to featuring more meditative Coltrane on the soprano saxophone and Jimmy Garrison on the Bass, features the very fitting vocals of Gil Scott-Heron. At over 8 minutes, “Peace” shows off St. Paul’s great ability to slightly change up the flow of the beat by adding a groove altering coda. One interesting track is entitled “…And It Goes Like”, which features the vocals of Nina Simone. What gives this track such an interesting feeling is that its driven the whole way through by a very rhythmic, tribal drum sample, and lain on top, providing juxtaposition, are airy pad swells and string samples. Another standout track on this album is entitled “Central Park West pt. 1”. St. Paul uses, to great effect, the melodic material from Coltrane’s beautiful composition “Central Park West”. However, the following track “Central Park West pt. 2”, doesn’t follow part one particularly well, and the beat on part two falls a bit flat when compared to the rest of the album. After two more tracks, including “Tide Rising”, which features Coltrane’s band, Saint Paul closes the album out fittingly with Elvin Jones bashing away and McCoy playing dreamy whole-tone scales, placing a cap on the long musical journey.
This is one album very worthy of a download. You can listen to some samples of the material below, visit St. Paul’s blog to stream the whole thing, or download it for free here.
Wednesday February 17, 2010 at 01:38 PM
It’s always refreshing to have a hip-hop album comprised of conscious lyrics thrown on your desk. Is seems that conscious rappers live perpetually in the underground, playing for audiences bold enough to seek out non-mainstream hip-hop, even while the commercial is so ubiquitous. Contrary to hipsters, most underground conscious rappers don’t live shrouded by choice, its just that quality can sometimes be overshadowed by sheer shock value; lyrics in today’s commercial music scene are becoming more explicit, and the content is becoming less crafted. Even conscious rappers like Mos Def and Common, whose albums are consistently critically acclaimed, have yet to reach the commercial power of Lil’ Wayne or 50 Cent. Maybe Kanye West helped to spark the middle class rap genre, and helped to kill the gansta’ rap chokehold, but it’s been slow going.
Having stated the above, I was surprisingly impressed when I slipped Nilla’s From the Ground Up into my computer. This Canadian MC/ Producer’s style is marked by lyrics with a conscious twang, an infectious voice, a laid back feel, understated choruses, and dark timbres. Nilla doesn’t feel the need to pull painfully at her listeners’ ears by flooding them with words of sex or drugs; though, she’s not too sheltered as to deny them deserving little nods (where appropriate). She’s an MC who identifies with the P.E.A.C.E. movement (People Everywhere Actually Co-existing Equally), and tries to spread that message in her songs- which she does nicely with an Obama montage in the beat poem “Moving Forward Thinking”. Nilla stays consistent and true to her voice through the whole album, letting her lofty thoughts arc through it riding an unbroken thread.
There are some tracks that are true standouts. Nilla’s beatsmithing and production are at their best in the song “Dog Dayz”, a trip-hop beat with some beautiful textures and a catchy hook. The bass line is reminiscent of old soul music, and the guitar lines are harmonically shifty, radiating a wave of complexity. Lyrically, on this track, Nilla weaves flawlessly between straight-ahead rapping and conversational singing, with lyrics whose sonorities complement the track to the utmost. Another very interesting track is actually a remix of one of the original album tracks entitled “I Want (Naked Acoustic)”. This song acoustically features her current band Ell3 with beatboxer MouthPEACE and violinist GN Reina. It’s a track of personal hope and empowerment, and the setting works very well. The original “I Want”, while a very well put together old-school MPC groove, is recorded a hair too fast and contains too many dactyl phrases to allow Nilla to settle into her usually on point flow. On the track “Wake UP!!!”, the intro features an interesting juxtaposition of dirty south hi-hats and live violin. Nilla’s flow on the verses of “Wake UP!!!” plays off the beat well, and occasionally she even phrases things like Weezy.
This album is certainly worth a listen in it’s entirety. Sit back and take in her thoughtful lyrics and production, with a couple of beat poems thrown in (the trippy “Here I Am Again” is blissful). Nilla streams most of the tracks on her Indaba Music page, and her myspace profile at www.nillamusic.com, you can also purchase the physical version of the album here.
Wednesday December 02, 2009 at 05:00 PM
When Jazz started in New Orleans, it brought together, in one place, all of the influence that routinely came in and out of the port city. The marching band drums were consolidated into a single kit, the ragtime piano rhythms and harmonic ideas were brought together with a tuba and a banjo, and the marching band horns became a section in front of the rhythm section. Mash these elements into a club, and New Orleans was transformed into the birthplace for a music that has spanned generations. While, in recent years, Americans have hoisted jazz onto the “art music” pedestal, the simple truth remains that jazz, at one point, was considered a vulgar vernacular music of the day. In fact, the word “jazz” derives from a closely related vulgar word, which I will not repeat (hint: it has to do with sex). The most legendary jazz instrumentalists were strung out on all sorts of drugs: Louis Armstrong was a lifelong Marijuana devotee (where did you think that voice came from?); Charlie Parker, Bill Evans, Miles Davis, Scott LaFaro, and many others were Heroin junkies for part, or all, of their career (Miles kicked Heroin for Cocaine, or so the legend goes). And yet, with this unsavory origin, they were able to create some of the most lasting and beautiful music of all time. Is the development of Hip-Hop all that different? Hip-Hop was also first developed as an underground culture. The first Hip-Hop parties were held in the Bronx during the late 1970’s, riding the wave created by soul and funk artists. DJ’s soon began taking these popular songs and chopping them apart to play the drums separately; audiences were in love. Soon a whole culture developed, with the New York City youth leading the charge. And, just like jazz, it spread from one innovative city to the rest of the country.
With jazz, this journey began up the Mississippi River, moving north through St. Louis, Kansas City, Chicago, then it took the turn east to New York, where, to this day, it remains the jazz mecca of the world. Development of regional styles within jazz began: the Kansas City school (with Bennie Moten, and later, Count Basie’s orchestra), Chicago’s “hot” jazz, be-bop in New York (Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie), and “cool” jazz on the west coast (Lee Konitz and Chet Baker). You can see the same regional development in the spread of hip-hop though the country. As the hip-hop music and culture spread, some regional styles became clear: New York was laid back, focusing on lyricism and cultural statements (the ultimate example is Nas’ Illmatic); on the west coast, it was about banging and so, you saw the emergence of groups like NWA and gansta rap culture; and in the south, stemming from Atlanta and Miami, there was the dirty south movement, focusing on club culture and flash (for example, Outkast’s Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik).
You can even see parallels between the figures of the two musics. Miles Davis was a figure who had a long career, working with many bands across many different styles of jazz and singlehandedly moving forward the progression of jazz. I would argue that Dr. Dre fits the bill for this type of artist in hip-hop. His career started in the beginning of the west coast school, and through his career, he has worked with many different artists. The ones with the highest profiles are, of course, Eminem (midwest), 50 Cent (New York), and Snoop Dogg (West Coast). I would equate the coast vs coast rivalry between Biggie and Tupac to the rivalry (though a friendly one) between west coast saxophonist Lee Konitz and east coast saxophonist Charlie Parker. Lee Konitz and his “cool” school were the direct rebellion to be-bop, the east coast style at the time. Today’s hip-hop and jazz cultures still have parallels. For example, Soulja Boy has emerged to please the masses, with simple, easily understood songs, much like Kenny G has done on the saxophone in helping to popularize the “smooth” jazz idiom. However, on the other side of the coin, there is Lil’ Wayne whose lyricism is complex and intelligent, and has helped to draw hip-hop out of an early 2000s dark age, back to a music which requires talent and dedication; much like artists like Brad Mehldau, Joshua Redman, and Wynton Marsalis did for jazz in the late 80’s and early 90’s.
With these similarities, it is no surprise that jazz musicians and hip-hop artists have been drawn to one another. Miles Davis’ last album Doo Bop, from 1991, was full of hip-hop beats; A Tribe Called Quest routinely sampled jazz songs, like Weather Report’s “Young and Fine”, and their feature of bassist Ron Carter on “Verses From the Abstract”, both from their album Low End Theory; pianist Robert Glasper has been actively touring with Mos Def; guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel was featured on Q-Tip’s last album, and sat in with his old classmate ?uestlove and the Roots on the Jimmy Fallon Show, and was recently interviewed on NPR where they put his iPod on shuffle and when Biggie came on he knew all the words; and trumpet player Roy Hargrove, with his RH Factor, has toured and recorded with Erykah Badu and Common.
Some jazz fans go out of their way to actively demonize hip-hop without knowing the history of, not only hip-hop, but of “America’s” music is general. Jazz and Hip-Hop are both great, and both are born from the efforts of the rebellious, who set out to fill themselves, and wound up starting new world cultures. So, let’s tip our hats to the innovators of both, the ones who weren’t afraid to do what they felt and by doing so, created America’s lasting, unique music.
Thursday November 26, 2009 at 07:00 AM
Indaba came into existence to promote the spirit of collaboration, and to take back music for the musicians. Collaboration is a cornerstone of the musical process. It is the glue which brought the first musicians together and the stitches which hold together the fabric of the musical blanket. For, where would the world’s music be without the Mighty Fistful, Lennon and McCartney, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Les Six, and Wu-Tang? Collaborative efforts have helped push the state of the art, and society is all the better for it. The online community, with its reach and widespread availability, is, of course, the next logical step in the evolution of the collaborative art, and Indaba is here to create the platform. With a growing community of 320,000+, our members are incredibly diverse, and have come together to form communities and sub-communities of like minded (and atypically grouped!) musicians, all with the drive to push the state of the art. Several group projects have been started, and recently, the Paper Cha$erz family has complied enough material to finally release their album through the Indaba platform.
Paper Cha$erz Mixtape Vol. 1 is the first full length rap album created solely through collaboration on Indaba. This mixtape stems from the efforts of Indaba members St. Paul and Kava-1. They have released the music for the music’s sake in the form of a free mixtape. These two collaborators, according to St. Paul, “were looking for a way to help artists gain exposure” and that they, “both looked at Indaba as a great opportunity to do so…Indaba was there for us at the right time”. They made an extraordinary effort to pool the skills of several Indaba members together, even outside the realm of music, to help market, promote, and push the album. For example, Indaba member Yunique D., an MC from Cape Town who contributed the track “Street Life” to the mixtape, agreed to use his South African label to procure airtime on local radio stations. St. Paul notes that the most difficult part was combing through the trove of great talent on the site. He and Kava-1 searched for months to find the right blend of artists for the mixtape. The talent that they did recruit was as diverse as the music. Participants from three continents came together to collaborate on the tape (a map of all the participants can be found here), and, the music represented is drawn from all walks of the hip-hop ethos. This inter-continential effort, made simple by the use of Indaba, assuredly creates a cultural melting pot, and shows that hip-hop has become, over the past two decades, a true international musical language.
Paper Cha$erz shows no signs of slowing down. Already, St. Paul, Kava-1and the Paper Cha$erz family have put plans into motion to release another herculean collaborative effort in the months to come, appropriately titled Paper Cha$erz Mixtape Vol. 2. MCs and vocalists wishing to be part of round two should join the session, check out the tracks, and get in touch with St. Paul. It’s sure to be another collaborative Hip-Hop tour de force.
Friday November 20, 2009 at 10:00 AM
DOWNLOAD THE MIXTAPE HERE!!
With a titanic effort spanning three continents, and with participants from Stockholm to Cape Town, the Paper Cha$erz family is ready to release their first mixtape, created completely on Indaba Music. If descriptions were comprised of one word, the word for this mixtape would be diversity. Not only is the music encompassed in this album diverse, but, the collaborators and the subject matter is diverse. Spearheaded by the underground Philadelphia producer St. Paul and Canadian MC Kava-1, the mixtape has finally come to fruition after months of planning and recording. One of the standout, and rather surprising, qualities of the mixtape is the subject matter. Though the mixtape is titled Paper Cha$erz (Vol. 1), many of the songs focus on social issues, either personal or in story form, which circumvent the need to tout all the usual mainstream showings of bling, rims, iced grillz, and paper. Let’s face it, one of the things that made Illmatic such a dominant hip-hop force was, while Nas’ wordsmithing was impeccable, its continued, track after track, social commentary and imagery; and it is refreshing to see that this mixtape often follows in the Illmatic tradition. Of course, that’s not to say that the whole mixtape is socially conscious or personal. Tracks like “My Grind On”, “Paperchasin Anthem”, and “FreshChick” show the more commercial side of the tape.
There are several standout tracks on the mixtape. The Paper Cha$erz family hits hard from the first track on the mixtape. “It Don’t Matter” featuring MCs Sunny Tuff and Gangalee, is a bold condemnation of the commercial music industry, and glorifies the underground scene. The beat is catchy and well produced, which adds to the overall vibe of the track. Its hook claims, “You could be the best lyricist and don’t prosper/ or you can be the worst MC and make it to the top/ It don’t matter, it don’t matter”, and later, Gangalee notes, “…just ‘cause you’re dope on the block/ don’t mean the A&R’s gonna feel the same.” With the emergence of “MCs” like Soulja Boy and Gucci Mane, it’s easy to see where this commentary is coming from. Anyone who has been true to the hip-hop tradition from the first cypher knows that unfortunately, sometimes second rate rapping is more marketable.
Another standout track is “Just 17”. MC Kava-1, one of the mixtape’s organizers, paints a great picture of a down-on-his-luck 17 year old, which weaves together a story of loss, maturity, coming of age, and the trappings of poverty into some pretty clever rapping. It’s refreshing to hear more image and story driven rapping, especially a story that continues from the beginning of the song and follows through to the end. Kava-1’s flow is dead on, and it’s easy to hear some of his more old school and underground influences. There’s also a lot of texture to notice in the beat: subtle vinyl noise, effective chops, and some nicely chosen samples.
In a total 360, the track “My Grind On”, is a banging, hard hitting, dirty south beat. MC ALLINGATOR focuses on more commercial ready material: the hustle and the need to be on your grind. This is more of a tribute to the Paper Cha$er name than the other tracks and is more club ready than the other tracks. In terms of subject matter, ALLINGATOR effectively provides one of the nicely placed and refreshing breaks from the heavier fare of the Paper Cha$erz mixtape.
One of those heavier tracks is “Gotta Be More” by MC Jah I Witness. Jah chooses to create three portraits with his words. The first is a boy looking for a way out of the ghetto, either through education or through something else. The second scene is a woman whose man is in prison, and is looking for something to fill the void. Lastly, and perhaps the hardest hitting, is the portrait of the crack fiend who has been shunned by the world, falling deeper and deeper into a hole; one with “quick highs and long lows”. All of these images are codified by a fitting chorus, a message that there’s “Gotta Be More” than their status quo. Jah’s more melodic, Drake like approach to his flow, is very appropriate and does the subject matter justice.
St. Paul and Kava-1 have managed to pull together a good crew of artists, with a promise to release more in the future. “This is just the beginning!”, says St. Paul. There’s already another indaba session up for volume 2.
Tuesday August 04, 2009 at 09:00 AM
News items tangentially related to Jay-Z, who 1) just performed on Friday at the All Points West Festival, taking the place of the Beasties, who had to sit this one out after Adam Yauch was diagnosed with cancer:
2) The album artwork for the highly anticipated Blueprint 3 has been released. You may find it strangely familiar; the Secret Machines influence is especially striking, I think, but they forgot to include The Borg’s cube ship in the list.
3, which may be a stretch) Barrelling evermore toward overexposure, Episode #7 of “Auto-Tune The News,” which is the sort of thing that should never, ever, be taken past an Episode #4, has hit YouTube. I haven’t watched it myself; I decided to boycott after Episode #6 addressed Sarah Palin’s resignation, simply because I don’t like the implication that she can somehow be made more comical.
3a, still a stretch) ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Here we have Episode #2 being performed on keyboards, quite possibly by the same guy who Auto-Tuned Jay’s “Death Of Auto-Tune” the week after it came out.
As you may remember, we’ve looked at this sort of cyclical stupidity before, specifically with REAPER’s ability to use video game controllers for MIDI input. Oh, who am I kidding — this is actually kinda brilliant.
3b, where “b” stands for “back on track”) Said extermination campaign isn’t going so well, by the way, as Antares says sales are up as a result of all the hype over the track.
You’re welcome — I bet you’re sure glad to have your street cred back! Tune in next time (HA GET IT?), when we’ll check in with Das Racist to get the latest, unless I think of something else to write.
Tuesday June 09, 2009 at 10:10 AM
Sick of the cutthroat grind of the music world? Recession hitting
your pocketbook a little harder than you had expected? Well, it’s your
lucky day — leading hip hop magazine XXL is looking to hire a sales gangsta who can help them get that cash money.
Subject: Referral Help – Hip-Hop Magazine Sr. Account Executive
We’re in search of a sales “gangsta” for an Advertising Director position at a leading Hip-Hop and Rap Culture Publication
Location: New York, NY
Compensation: $60–70K Base, $130–200K OTE
Experience Level: 4 years
A heavy hitting, large and in charge, Hip-Hip and Rap Culture
Magazine needs a Advertising Director. They need YOU to be charismatic
and hungry enough to sell print campaigns to national business
accounts. They want YOU to know the language and Culture of Hip-Hop, be
innovative and creative enough to make the tough sell, and smart enough
to sell urban and youth culture to companies that might not see it’s
YOU must come with prior sales experience (i.e. They want you to
bring in the cash money,) an active account list and strong
relationships (i.e. know the right people who will give you dollars.)
You will be selling a
combination of traditional paging and must be able to pitch/concept
Idea” integrated programs (They need you to “bring it” and “shut it
Our clients’ work environment is cool, calm, and collected. Build your
empire and the world is yours.
- 4+ years of Online/Print Sales
- Hip-Hop Knowledge
- Be a sales solider
- Bachelor’s degree
- Excellent written and verbal skills
- Aggressive follow-up and closing skills
“Cash Rules Everything Around Me, C.R.E.A.M. Get the money, Dollar, dollar
bill y’all” – Wu-Tang Clan
As always, generous bonus rewarded for referrals.
It’s 100% OKAY to repost this ad anywhere.
I, for one, am looking forward to finally having a job interview in
which I’m not the only one awkwardly spouting off Wu-Tang lyrics.
Thursday June 04, 2009 at 10:55 AM
Last week, ten years after The Chronic: 2001 (which, it should be noted, actually came out in 1999) and a good five years after the original release date for Detox,
Dr. Dre finally unveiled a small chunk of his wildly anticipated third
album, finally giving us a tangible handle on the elusive
Problem is, it was in a Dr. Pepper ad.
Dre’s entry in the soft drink’s “I’m A Doctor” campaign, which opened
with spots by Dr. J and Frasier Crane, has him booting a scrappy young
techno DJ from the booth at a rooftop party and setting an icy cold can
down on the turntables, at which point a few heretofore unreleased bars
of his trademark G-funk wobble out from the speakers and all the
This borders on unfathomable; Dre’s artistic perfectionism in the
studio is the stuff of legend, and commercial licensing has always been
shrewd as a business move, but not so much as an artistic one. So why
on earth would he unveil his next opus, rumored to be his last, with a
corporate logo attached? Dude doesn’t need the money. This can’t
possibly be building his fan base in any meaningful way, and the hype
surrounding this album has fully been at fever pitch for about five
years and shows no signs of abating. He has at least a few more years
before we can start chalking up these sorts of shenanigans to senility.
Lord only knows. I suppose in the meantime we should all just milk
whatever enjoyment we can from the stupidity of the whole situation,
which is admittedly quite awe-inspiring — it feels a little Snakes On A Plane, right? Remember, this is the same company that so brazenly taunted Axl Rose just before he finally came through with Chinese Democracy. Both are extremely significant milestones; Dr. Pepper, it seems, may soon be a serious force in the music world.
Hey, at least it’s not Starbucks.
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Friday August 06, 2010 at 12:00 PM
Wednesday August 04, 2010 at 03:40 PM
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Sunday July 25, 2010 at 11:24 PM
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If you want to know about IP law - this is the place. CC is defining the cutting edge of music licensing.
Stop making sense David Byrne. Seriously, you make too much sense to us - it's scary. When are you coming by to hang out?
Fairly relevant to Indaba :)
If you want to know what's happening in the new music world...
Wired + Music + Eliot = amazing
Our favorite NYC music-scene blog from our favorite CMJer.
Super-hip music blog. A must for anyone serious about the NYC scene.
ll the news that fit to print ... about music, that is.
Gawker Media's music blog. Perfect if you like a little snark with your music news.
In his own words - "First in music analysis"