Thursday, October 27, 2005
COLOSSUS | West Oaktown |Om Records
Charlie Tate debuts his East Bay hip-hop collective Colossus with an homage to his newfound home: a bold set entitled West Oaktown. Having done stints supporting Roy Ayers, Fred Wesley, Gil Scott Heron, and James Brown, you’d expect a heavy dose of funk ‘n’ soul in Tate’s beats, but West Oaktown goes even further, creating a fresh blend of acid bebop and abstract hip-hop.
With Tate’s penchant for big bass running through the whole project, Colossus compiles a diverse team of local Bay Area MCs like Capitol A, Delphi and Regi B to back the flow. The heady stew ranges from the smooth montage of city sounds on the opener “Innacity” to a crooner’s ballad, with Simeon’s falsetto vocals on “If You Knew My Mind.” Blending in perfectly, Roots Manuva turns up for two well-matched guest turns: “You a Grown Man Now” and “Thripney Bits.”
It’s all truly refreshing to hear—a sound that’s reminiscent of The Roots’ early brand of organic hip-hop jazz, with a heavy emphasis on the jazz. So much, in fact, there’s a second disc presenting the original tracks touched up with a more conventional hip-hop flavor for the non-connoisseurs to appreciate. (BS)
THINK DIFFERENTLY | Wu-Tang Meets the Indie Culture | Babygrande
Wu-Tang associate Dreddy Kruger compiles an impressive line-up of MCs and producers for this remarkable concept album courtesy of Wu-Corp’s in-house label, Think Differently. There’s plenty of big-draw names on this project, bridging cliques and coasts, even artistic forms (showing off their connections to Jim Jarmusch in two “Infomercials”). Wu-Tang, of course, makes a solid appearance, with RZA, GZA, and the memory of ODB representing for the Clan proper, while lesser-known Killa Bees like Prodigal Sunn fill the gaps.
The pairings are as eccentric as you could hope for in this open-field round robin—the most notable being a long-awaited meeting between RZA and MF Doom, a synthesis that yields the first single, “Biochemical Equation,” an interesting juxtaposition between Doom’s smooth rhyming and RZA’s slowed, cotton-mouthed verses.
By far, however, it’s Preservation’s production on his two collaborations late in the project, the eponymous “Preservation,” with Aesop Rock and Del Tha Funky Homosapien, and “Give It Up,” featuring RA the Rugged Man and J-Live, which stand well above the typical fare. With the MCs trading verses in flawless, complimentary agreement, there’s no finer example of the meeting of these two cultures. (BS)
THUNDERS, KANE & NOLAN | You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory | Music Video Distributors
Three fifths of the world’s greatest rock and roll band (The New York Dolls) that no longer walk the earth, captured 18 years ago at the Roxy in LA, on DVD. Given that the star of the show was a notorious junkie and his cohorts also horrific substance abusers, one would expect a travesty.
It isn’t. Excellent sound and much better than average visuals complement what must have been either a rare night of sobriety or really good drugs, as the patron saint of dope-fiendery himself never sounded better. Not missing notes during his patented screech and skronk guitar solos, remembering the right lyrics most of the time and actually dancing steadily on his feet, Thunders redeems himself completely here—he was never this animated again. Plus, the Dolls’ rhythm section is rehearsed and if they couldn’t be called “tight,” they ain’t a mess either.
Most of the material is old blues standards plus ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll like Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Booker T and Jimmy Reed. This is raw, primal gear served very hot and very sublime. Order immediately! (JA)