Posts Tagged ‘philadelphia’

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Auto-tune Rap is Automatic Crap

October 23, 2008

As a straight-edge suburban white guy who just started getting into rap and hip-hop over the past two years, I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do. Now, thanks to Sirius radio, I think I have a pretty good grasp on the current state of hip-hop. I can now pick out artists and songs that I like and dislike, but more importantly, I’m breaking it down and learning what is is about these songs that I like or don’t like. One major pet peeve for me and major trend lately is the use and overuse of auto-tune.

Li’l Wayne is probably the best example of overusing the auto-tune. That’s like his signature sound, and I’m here to tell you that his signature sound is complete shit. Auto-tune has its respectable applications in music recording. When used in moderation, it does exactly what the name implies; it takes your already decent singing and just subtly fixes all the pitch imperfections. Now if you crank it to 11, you get the dramatic electronic voice effect with bubbly steps between notes. It sounded awful when Cher did it back in ’98 and it sounds even worse today.

It’s unfortunate that todays rappers have to resort to gimmicky audio tricks to make themselves stand out. Li’l Wayne, T-pain, even Kanye West is starting to use it. You might not even notice it enough to give a damn, especially when the the effect is applied to the whole song. But take the all-star ensemble track “Swagger Like Us” and it’s easy to pick out the weakest link. I love the M.I.A. sample, I love the verses by Kanye and Jay-Z, but as soon as Li’l wayne starts slurring his way through elctronic auto-tune world, I’m ready to change the station. The reason artists like Jay-Z and Kanye command such respect and staying power is because they have obvious raw talent. They’re more than a catch phrase or gimmick effect. Hearing Kanye’s “Love Lockdown” was a total disappointment. The hook is there, it’s definitely a catchy song and it’s nice that he’s doing some singing as a break from the rapping, but he’s smart enough and talented enough to pull it off without the auto-tune. Instead, he overdoes it and the song is ruined.

I can only hope this is a short-lived trend and we will grow out of it soon. The only good thing I can see is that, with the current hip-hop scene so watered down with terrible music, it will leave room for some truly talented artists to rise up and blow us away. I like what I’m hearing from Lupe Fiasco, and I think eminem is coming back at just the right time. Now we just need a new Outkast album and we’ll be set.

In other news, Matisyahu and Flobots are coming to Philadelphia next week. You might scoff at the orthodox Jewish reggae rapper and the kids behind “Handlebars” after I just ranted about gimmicks, but they’re both amazing. I’m looking forward to some real positive, danceable tunes. If you have not heard Matisyahu’s “Live at Stubb’s” album or Flobots debut “Fight With Tools”, do yourself a favor and start downloading today.

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…like a wounded animal

April 7, 2008

It’s been a few weeks since my qualifying ride for Ride The Lobster, and my wounds from the heinous crash on day 1 have all healed. I was surprised then to see on the Official Ride The Lobster Blog, a nice funny little post about me and my qualifying ride crash. The blog seems to focus more on the progress of international riders, with countries like Korea putting together internal races of their own to get the 3 best riders in their country to go to Nova Scotia. We’re hardly a USA Dream Team, and I’m probably not even the best rider in Philadelphia, so to be included in a post on a blog that highlights the best of the best around the world is pretty cool.

So we’ve registered as a team and put all of our chips in the middle of the table. All systems are go. Now we just need to focus on getting in shape, getting our gear in shape, and getting the four of us up to Nova Scotia.

In DreamRapper news, I got back together with the band yesterday after taking a month off to focus on moving and unicycling and healing. My hand is still a bit messed up so my guitar playing is a little weak. We’ve got a lot of new songs and we’ll be heading to the studio next weekend, so stay tuned for that. Also, our new apartment has a little more space for my music gear. I should be able to finish up the last of my dream raps soon.

-Kyle D

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Road Rash with a Side of Chips

March 18, 2008

Team Unicycle Max took a beating this past weekend. My dad and I were both riding our 2-day qualifiers and each had a pretty heinous crash. While my shoulder took most of the damage on my spill, my dad described his knee as sounding like a bag of chips. In a third act of cosmic hosery, my brother called to tell me about his emergency room visit and diagnosis of pericarditis, a viral inflammation of the lining of the heart. So while this is something that usually goes away fairly quickly with regular doses of asprin, it does keep the kid off his unicycle with the big race only 89 days away. We’ve all got some healing and recovering to do, but I’m feeling good about it. I still have some numbers to crunch on the 2-day qualifier, but we should all be officially qualified and registered by this weekend.

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So this March has pretty much been the month from hell. Taxes, bills, training, moving…all the worst parts of life decided to get together and have a class reunion this month. I had to tell the band that I couldn’t jam on the weekends this month because too much is going on. Hopefully they don’t bail on me altogether and we can still record some stuff next month. In the meantime, I’m just trying to take it easy, heal, recover, and get ourselves into a new apartment. Stay tuned.

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Live Philly Hip-Hop Tonight!

November 26, 2007

So I joined a hip-hop/alternative band recently. I’m playing guitar, Dave G is on drums, and DuPont Menage is on the mic with Dave 2 adding backup. We’ve only played together as a group twice now, but tonight will be our first performance out in the wild. Every Monday night, the World Cafe Live hosts a Philly Rising open mic competition sponsored by Discmakers. We’re just playing 2 songs tonight, but it should be a good time. It’s been 2 years since I last performed with a band, and already it feels good to jam again. Dave G’s got good jazz-funk sensibilities on the drums, but knows how to kick up the rock when the time comes. DuPont’s lyrics are smart, creative, and focused. My guitar playing is a little rusty, and I don’t have 5 other instruments and distortion covering up my inadequacies, but it’s sounding good. So if you’re in Philadelphia tonight around 9:00pm, come to the World Cafe Live at 31st and Walnut to hear our groove in Serenading The Culture.

Philly Rising