Peter “P Smoov” Robinson is one of the finest examples of a local iconoclast. He has taken what many people know of hip-hop and completely turned it on its ear. He is one half of the uber-ambitious group Fresh Espresso as well as one third of blog darlings Mad Rad in addition to creating some of the hottest beats Seattle has heard in a long time. His mastery in not only found on the boards but also in ability to destroy a mic and stage with reckless abandon. I’ve know Peter for several years now and find it amazing that he went from studio rat to stage impresario in a relatively short period of time, showing skills it generally takes years to hone in the past year of party rocking. You may know the stage version of Smoov but that is just the tip of the iceberg. He runs one of the most influential studios outside of the big three (Boiler Room, Pharmacy, and Undercaste) helping innumerable local artists find “the sound” on a shoe string budget. The 48 hour beat making sessions are paying off though as his placements increase and his creativity found new limits to test. Over the next few weeks I will be back with two more parts of the P Smoov puzzle hoping to get everyone familiar with his unique form of genius. Meanwhile you can check him out with Mad Rad or Fresh playing all over the town.
April 3rd with Fresh Espresso at Nectar opening for Kero One
April 9th with Fresh and Mad Rad at Robots vs. Monsters II at Columbia City Theater
It is hard to describe the music of K’naan. He is highly creative, and at times schizophrenic, he is all over the board in terms of influence and style. He goes against convention with the intent to destroy all boundries created by the mainstream music machine. At the same time he rages against said machine he is embracing it (or maybe being embraced by it). On his new record “Troubador” he bounces from track to track showing occassional glimses of greatness. The whole thing is listenable with very few missteps but when Mettalica’s Kirk Hammett comes through for the 107.7 approved “If Rap Gets Jealous” the conceptual side of things goes a bit awry in my opinion.
K’naan was born and raised in Somalia escaping on the last day the American Embassy was open during the horrendous war there in the early 1990s. He must have seen some shit, felt the pain and heard the cries of a war Americans have never experienced. This could the making of a very disenfranchised, pissed off, and militant man but K’naan isn’t the product of his enviroment, he’s a product of hope. He preaches love, unity, and equality in uber well articulated prose cultivated during his time as a well reknowned spoken word artist. He learned to rap before he could even speak english, listening to some of the greats and copying the phonetic patterns in their delivery. He is the fucking truth.
Tonight at 8pm at Nuemos you can catch him live.
Coming out of the underbelly of Ballard this three piece is definitely a band to watch out for in the future. Their brand of grungy punk is nothing new on paper but where they stand out is in their execution live. Drunken, hard-hitting, and relentless they are an irresistible force meeting an immovable object (h/t Gorilla Monsoon). They just posted a few demo recordings on their myspace and one major thing that stands out when listening, they have an unhealthy love of intros and outros. If they can tighten up their sound and cut out some of the musicianship fluff for their debut record (tentatively titled “Womb Temperature”) they should be able to firmly solidify themselves as an “It” band in the local rock scene. They are performing Friday 13th at Merchants in Pioneer Square for anyone wishing to check out these up-and-comers before they are playing the bigger rooms.
It seems to me The Cure is a very polarizing group, you LOVE them or you HATE them. I know no one with only a passing interest in the band, I’ve know plenty of people who have no clue of who they are, but no one without a strong opinion. For those who LOVE them you probably already know all the words to the song as any good fan should, but to those who HATE them I submit for your approval “Just Like Heaven”. Who doesn’t like a love song right? You may hate Robert Smith’s voice, or hair, or the generation of hot topic goths he indirectly spawned, but you SHOULD respect good songwriting. Though I don’t think this is the best song The Cure every recorded I do think it resonates with just about everyone. And just for fun I have tacked on the sweet mashup version that is making the rounds
The Cure vs. Commodores – Easy Heaven
“Show me how you do that trick
The one that makes me scream” she said
“The one that makes me laugh” she said
And threw her arms around my neck
“Show me how you do it
And I promise you I promise that
I’ll run away with you
I’ll run away with you”
Spinning on that dizzy edge
I kissed her face and kissed her head
And dreamed of all the different ways I had
To make her glow
“Why are you so far away?” she said
“Why won’t you ever know that I’m in love with you
That I’m in love with you”
Soft and only
Lost and lonely
Strange as angels
Dancing in the deepest oceans
Twisting in the water
You’re just like a dream
Daylight licked me into shape
I must have been asleep for days
And moving lips to breathe her name
I opened up my eyes
And found myself alone alone
Alone above a raging sea
That stole the only girl I loved
And drowned her deep inside of me
Soft and only
Lost and lonely
Just like heaven
Released in 1976, A New World Record, was the record that helped ELO breakthrough in the UK. It was much more focused pop music than previous efforts and really showed what Jeff Lynne could do as a songwriter. It gave ELO their first top ten record in the UK as well as their first gold single in “Telephone Line”. Every time I hear “Telephone Line” I can’t get Steve Buscemi putting on lipstick out of my mind. Other great songs on the record are the amazing “Livin’ Thing” and “Rockaria!”, as well as the Monster.com approved “Do Ya?”
This past Sunday myself and Seattle Subsonic’s own dj100proof attended a show that no one in the local hip-hop scene made any mention of, Mickey Avalon, Dirt Nasty, and Beardo at The Showbox at the Market. After we left we realized why, although the bill consisted of rappers it was decidedly not hip-hop.
Avalon, Nasty, and Beardo along with Andre Legacy make up the Hollywood based Dyslexic Speedreaders, the messiahs of trashy chic. The crew has built a dedicated fan base with their obscene charisma and even more obscene lyrical content. They are frequent performers at the 80s Hair Rock Mecca the Whisky a Go Go as well as the Troubadour and The Roxy and once a year like clockwork they roll through Seattle with their unique blend of shit bag rap.
A couple years back I was in attendance for Avalon’s first Seattle performance at the High Dive in Fremont and I was blown away. Mickey’s tattooed-heroin-thin body, flowing hair, and guyliner really sold his tales of living on the streets of Hollywood working as a street hustler and “selling cock for rock”. Fast forward two years and the whole package is comical in a sad way. Gone is any notion that the 33 year old Avalon (government name Yeshe Pearl) had done any of the things that made his first record listenable. It has been replaced by the crippling realization that it is all just an act. “You didn’t know that?” you may be thinking. I knew it wasn’t real but I was able to suspend my disbelief which is the watermark of any true performer. Now I have seen too many videos and comedic shorts from Avalon and Dirt Nasty (also known as former jerk-off pornstar/MTV VJ Simon Rex) to respect them as rappers and now have to look at them solely as actors, which quite frankly they aren’t that good at.
Doors for the show opened at 7:30 we arrived at 8:15 expecting the show to be minutes from starting and were treated to a 45 minute wait for the night’s opener Beardo. The strangely beardless Beardo or as he likes to be called the Trailer Park Hero took the well dressed stage and performed the song “American Anthem” a completely derivative gut bucket rock jam that left me wholly unimpressed with his ability to play guitar. As he stumbled through his set of uninspired rapping and singing I began to look around me. The crowd was weird, not in the Live Action Role Play sort of way but more so in the “How are there 1500 people here to see this shit” vein. The bar was filled with sad looking date rapists who reeked of the tepid stench of defeat lingering in their replica Tatupu jerseys. The all ages section was teeming with teenage girls in revealing clothing trying so hard to be the trashy sluts Mickey and Dirt glamorize. Disgusted with my surroundings I had to try to focus on the music, big mistake. I can handle bad rap music, I have listened to enough good music to know that the majority of contemporary hip hop sucks but I can still enjoy it. Unfortunately Beardo is nearly unlistenable and when the intro to The Clash’s “Straight to Hell” started the music blog bubble I’ve been living in burst. The crowd went insane for Beardo’s take on MIA’s “Paper Planes” which he has changed to the oh-so-clever “All I wanna do, is Sex and Drugs” and I was asking myself, “Why are people still so hyped on this song? Didn’t it come out like two years ago?” and I realized that the kids these days get their music from limited sources and songs that broke on blogs didn’t break for them until much much later, none the less Beardo gets a major fail.
Dirt Nasty took the stage in slacks (which weren’t even Dickies) a plaid shirt with the top button buttoned and Locs. He was the epitome of a poseur, an actor acting like a rapper, making a mockery of the art I have been actively involved in the last decade plus. Usually this wouldn’t bother me but for some reason I was extremely offended by the 1500 people in attendance laughing along with Dirt Nasty at the joke that is hip-hop. His performance was stale, a rehash of his much more refined music videos, and his interaction with the crowd was poor, 3rd world poor. It was clearly an all-ages show; he saw all the kids on the floor and all the adults at the bar, so why did he keep asking the underagers if they had any whisky? Is that where the kids are at these days? Are they shitting their shorts for mentions of cocaine and whisky? The answer is yes. The reason these fucking goofballs are so popular is because what they are portraying fits in with what these kids are used to. What shows like “The Hills” and “Gossip Girl” (and whatever other shiteous program you want to lump in here) are selling, privilege and manufactured celebrity.
By the time Mickey took the stage with his two “Hooker” dancers I was completely spent. The larger than life dirtbag had been exposed as just another MTV made celebrity doing whatever he can do to remain famous. The whole experience made me sick and we left shortly after the start of his set, happy to go back to the real world, where wackness isn’t confused with wacky and rapping is still an element of hip-hop.
Wanted to introduce myself before I started posting, they call me Big Rob or Large Robert in some circles. I run a hip hop promotion company called People United Saving Hiphop and I’m one of the founders of the Graffiti Rock monthly. My aim as a contributer will be mostly on the history side of things as I feel Seattle needs to have the most educated music fans in the world if we are going to be the Music Capital Greg Nickels wants us to be. I will also look at the societal aspects of music and examine this crazy thing we call the Seattle music scene.