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Tuesday, 7 March 2006
Adventures in Lo-Fi...
Now Playing: office noise...
Topic: 2003 reviews (Apr.-Jun.)

time to start revisitng some of the reviews that have built up over the years. seeing as how i constantly say "welcome to camp lo-fi" during the introductions of each podcast, this album has earned a spot in my heart. check out the player below to hear selections from this album...

Adventures In Lo-Fi
Record label: BBE/Rapster
Format: 2xLP/CD/MP3
Release date: 25 March 2003

(Review originally posted to BSOTS website April of 2003)

“The Beat Generation” series has been (more often than not) one spectacular album after another, allowing producers like Jaydee, Pete Rock, Jazzy Jeff, and DJ Spinna to do what they feel. This time around, it’s King Britt’s turn to shoot the gift. Things have moved fast and furious for this former silkworm that tagged the tables for Digable Planets in the early ‘90s. The Sylk 130 project quickly made him an international sensation, producing the ‘70s tinged When The Funk Hits The Fan and the ‘80s nostalgic Re-Members Only. His latest journey is decidedly different, however, and rooted in present-day urban electronics and future soul. Adventures In Lo-Fi affirms King Britt’s understanding of the ever-changing nature of black music.

Special guests are in full force on this album - a crowded affair, but never an uncomfortable one. MCs all up in the spot, of course. Bahamadia shines lovely on “Transcend,” proving she’s still one of the smoothest in the game. Brother Britt crafts a potent beat underneath, a hip-hop/R&B hybrid that doesn’t leave a bad aftertaste. “Cobbs Creek” from Re-Members Only gets revisited on the remix tip. It was over ten years ago that Pos and Trugoy clowned on the hip-house craze with “Kicked Out The House” from their De La Soul Is Dead album. Yet here they are straight rhyming dead center underneath the disco ball, beats simmering to a midtempo house resemblance. The roller skating jam strikes again. A number of less familiar cats make their presence felt on the mic, particularly Moses Gunn (“About Face”) and Will Brodie (“Apollo Creed”). Then there’s Britt’s long-time homie Capital A trying too hard to be hard on “Caught Out (There),” but I ain’t mad at him...especially since the rhyme flow and beat structure work so well. Still, he’s more at home on “Next Plateau,” throwing out his best lines for the ladies.

Soul sisters also represent for the lo-fi ride, most notably Ivani Sanitilli on “Superstar” and Sylk 130 collaborator Alma Horton (here as Lady Alma) on “Love’s Time.” The finest moments on this album are saved for spoken word artist Rich Medina. Shades of Gil Scott-Heron can be heard in his social commentary - both “Planetary Analysis” and “A Foreigner No Longer” are phenomenal. I could mention star appearances from Dice Raw (The Roots), Madlib as Quasimodo, Cherrywine featuring Butterfly of Dig Plans fame, but I think the point’s been made. Adventures In Lo-Fi continues the high standard within “The Beat Generation” series and for producer King Britt. Sometimes a soundtrack for head nodders, sometimes dance floor friendly, sometimes sounding like the Motherland on Mars. All hail the King.


Posted by macedonia at 4:11 PM EST
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Monday, 6 March 2006
the neverending swimsuit competition
Now Playing: Nightmares on Wax - In A Space, Outta Sound
Topic: chloe's rants

this rant was brought to you by...

[due to either lack of friends or the fact that i just didn't trust anyone (more than likely the latter), a number of contributors were conjured up in my head to make it look like more people were writing other than myself. chloe knuckles was one of them. i liked her. she had spunk. she didn't take any crap. i suppose a little bit of my wife is in her. apparently, chloe was so convincing that many people thought she was a real person, including good friends of mine. based on the strength of the rant below, a good friend wondered if it was possible to get her interviewed by Bust Magazine. perhaps i'm more of a male feminist than i like to admit to myself. this will always remain my favorite of chloe's rants. it was originally published in ON THE VERGE v2.0 e-mail monthly for March 1, 2000.]

the neverending swimsuit competition (or "who wants to be...")

I’m wearing this skimpy number that I didn’t even decide to put on. Some guy told me that he was able to hear me better when I wore it. Judges way off in the distance shake their heads and laugh at me. I’m blinded by the lights on the stage when this voice out of nowhere told us all to hoist our chests forward and giggle. I walked off the stage, put one of my high heels through the assistant producer’s forehead, and placed a shit-stained tiara on his dome. I filled up one of the prize automobiles with cash and drove off.

I’ve got a million dollars for anyone who will bring me the heads of britney spears and christina aguilera.

"what makes you feel / and why you gotta be / like you got the right / to look her up and down / what makes this world / so sick and medieval / i know you don't know..." - Beastie Boys, "Song For The Man"

no, I do not feel like smiling today. All I feel like doing is riding the train and getting to my destination. Don’t tell me to smile. Did you really think that I would just because you said to? “you’re such a beautiful lady, you should smile more…” yeah, and you should throw yourself onto the third rail, so what are you saying? Do you really want me to smile? Would that get you off? Okay then, here’s what you need to do…KEEP YOUR PIE HOLE SHUT FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS TRAIN RIDE. You do that and I’ll flash the widest Kool-Aid grin you ever saw while dancing a ballet. Can you do that for me?

If you even knew how sexy my brain was, you would strip down to your cerebellum and expose your cerebral cortex, but no. “you’re such a beautiful lady, you should smile more…” could you be any more pathetic? What seminar did you take to learn corny-ass lines like that? I hope you’re on this train to go back there and demand a refund.

Let me guess, I’m a bitch now, right? Stuck up? Snotty? And all because I stood up for myself and told it like it is? Yeah, that figures. Just trying to be nice? The nicest thing you could’ve done was not to say anything. You being silent for a 24-hour period would be worth a million of those lines that you have at the ready.

You know, not for nothin’, but it’s crowded in here. Could you make it your personal agenda right now not to merge with my insides?

…c’mere. Sit down beside me. There’s something I gotta ask you. I just wanna know…what are you gonna do for me? I mean, are you gonna liberate us girls from MALE WHITE CORPORATE OPPRESSION? Huh? Don’t be shy…(fear of a female planet?) - Sonic Youth, “Kool Thing”

I recently came across this excerpt from an issue of Mass Transportation from 1943. The article was aimed at male supervisors and the steps they should take in order to ensure a positive environment for their female employees. I won’t go through all of them, but here are a few to give you some idea of what our mothers, grandmothers, and aunts had to put up with:

  • "Retain a physician to give each woman you hire a special physical examination - one covering female conditions. This step not only protects the property against the possibilities of lawsuit, but reveals whether the employee-to-be has any female weaknesses which would make her mentally or physically unfit for the job."
  • "Give the female employee a definite day-long schedule of duties so that they'll keep busy without bothering the management for instructions every few minutes. Numerous properties say that women make excellent workers when they have their jobs cut out for them, but that they lack initiative in finding work themselves."
  • "Give every girl an adequate number of rest periods during the day. You have to make some allowances and [she] is more efficient if she can kee her hair tidied, apply fresh lipstick, and wash her hands several times a day."
pretty insightful, eh?

“anything that you want in this world, you have to work hard for it.” It was a principle that my mother taught me a long time ago. However, judging from the success of game shows like Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Greed, and Twenty-One, there are many who are either in denial or never learned the principle to begin with. And just when I couldn’t take anymore of the hype, I saw the ads for Who Wants To Marry A Multi-Millionaire? I was dumbfounded. Dozens upon dozens of women all lined up for the attempt to tie the knot with someone that they had never met, but who had loads of cash. Ever get the feeling that the FOX Network really gets a sick pleasure out of delivering lowest common denominator television programming? Well, some of the general public must like it that way; supposedly 28 million viewers tuned in to watch the mockery of a sacred institution. Like jrs said during our conversation about the show, “this CAN’T be the year 2000.”

“Was the title WHO WANTS TO BE A GOLD-DIGGING WHORE already taken?” - Stephanie Miller, comedienne.

Female and full is my X chromosome, no longer held in check by the madonna/whore complex set up by men. You know, either a woman’s a bitch or a queen, a saint or a slut, Lauryn Hill or Lil’ Kim. That’s too simple, too feeble-minded. Most of us are somewhere in between. This goes for everyone, both male and female. Nine times out of ten, there’s more to a person than what you see on the surface. Why should it be any different for women?

RESPECT YOUR MOTHERS. RESPECT YOUR SISTERS. And for pete’s sake, give that phone number shit a rest. What do I look like, 411?

{chloe knuckles}

Posted by macedonia at 4:50 PM EST
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Thursday, 2 March 2006
caught up in GOD...
Now Playing: soudds of a cleared-out work place that got to go home early due to inclement weather...
Topic: music appreciation

maybe it's because the Lenten season's upon us, but i've been listening to a lot of gospel and gospel-related projects lately. currently in heavy rotation within my mp3 jukebox are the following:

VARIOUS ARTISTS - Heaven's Radio
this is a collection of vintage gospel and radio broadcast excerpts compiled with loving care by Kevin Nutt, host of the fantastic Sinner's Crossroads radio show on WFMU. the station's currently in telethon mode and asking for donations from their listeners. there are a vast number of "DJ premiums" that you can get if you donate a certain amount. Heaven's Radio is Kevin's premium from 2004, now made available online via the WFMU blog. apparently, he put together a funk gospel premium for this year. i only imagine...

GEEEZ 'N' GOSH - My Life With Jesus
GEEEZ 'N' GOSH - Nobody Knows
an Atom Heart project. it's like gospel glitch. sanctified click-house, if you will. totally taken aback with these releases, both of them quite beautiful. some of it's for quiet reflection, some of it can be worked into a house set. if you want to know more, i go into further detail here.

just copped this one the other day. not straight up gospel, but focuses on how gospel influenced soul music and how those with gospel backgrounds made the crossover into soul while still retaining that gospel feel to their music. so you have some gospel, some soul, and songs that are somewhere in between. artists include Aretha Franklin, The Staple Singers, Della Reese, Bobby Bland, Clarence Smith...this one's great. don't see it leaving my jukebox for quite some time.

Posted by macedonia at 4:58 PM EST
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the lost writings of testosterone boy
Now Playing: Dead Beat Radio (eastvillageradio.com)
Topic: rants de macedonia

where the hell am i?  and how do you get back to the womb?

[okay, so long before there was Both Sides Of The Surface, there was a monthly email newsletter called On The Verge, which ran from January 1999-December 2001. a bunch of music reviews written as well as a number of rants. since it's Women's Herstory Month, i figured i'd start off with an early rant of mine in regards to the topic of women. this was originally published in the ON THE VERGE v1.0 e-mail monthly for March 17, 1999. there are references to certain celebrities that will bring home how dated this is. the line about Lauryn Hill is either ironic, dead-on or both, given all that she's been through since this was written...]

the lost writings of testosterone boy

Don't ask me about estrogen. I don't understand it, I don't pretend to understand it, and all of you ladies out there are just gonna have to deal with the fact that most of us men don't, m'kay?

It was about five years ago that I had a dream. I had a dream that GOD was elected president, but the sisterhood had voted for Mother Nature. Her popularity had just about tripled after she had held a fundraiser to get Eve out of jail. Meanwhile, Adam was on Hard Copy talking about how Eve had paid Lorena Bobbitt to "do a little job for her." She had met with Anita Hill earlier the same day.

And right about now, Monica Lewinsky would be asking for her services (no more jokes about her "love handles," please. My ears can't take it).

Jump cut to now: I'm lost in a world of ultra-flesh that is not of my own making. 15 year-old boys gaze longingly at women they will never meet, be they Playboy pin-ups, Victoria's Secret angels, or female celebs that decided to cover up the right spots of their naked selves on the covers of Details or Maxim. In the midst of all of this, I have to wonder how many decided to skip classes on how to be a sex symbol while keeping your clothes on. More than likely, Gillian Anderson would be teaching this course.

Trying to sidestep fleshworld isn't exactly the easiest of all things, but anything to avoid being the typical male. Can you imagine my surprise on that terrible day when I woke up and realized that I was one?

Jump back to five years ago: I turned a street corner only to see Sharon Stone encircled by a group of women. Between giving her swift kicks to the mid-section, they shouted repeatedly, "What were you thinking? WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!?"

I watched in amazement as Angela Davis stood beside me, shrugged her shoulders and said, "Y'know, she really wasn't helping matters much; the bitch had it comin'." She pointed out towards the street. "Phallus patrol's on the move, brother. They don't take too kindly to Y-chromosomes. You'd better go." Then she threw up a power fist and kept steppin'.

You wanna know what amazes me? When somebody like DMX can stand up on stage in front of tens of thousands and ask "where my bitches at?" and women actually scream with delight. You'd think his dumb ass would get booed off the set, but OH, NO. The ladies in the crowd still said "Ow!" right on cue. WHAT'S THAT ABOUT?

And all these years, I wondered why the nice guy never got the girl. Thugs and players got it made. Fellas, it has become apparent to me that if you want a woman to obsess over you, act like she doesn't exist. Ignore her like she's a chain letter. Don't even bother calling her for two weeks.


But like I said, I ain't the one to ask about the ways of estrogen.

That's about the point when I throw on my headphones. Ear travels bring me to Nina Simone. She doesn't know me from Adam, yet can somehow sing about my pain that I can't even find words for. And Betty Carter brings me out of my darkness with vocal sunshine. And the present-day sirens: Lady Miss Kier, Beth Gibbons, Martina Topley-Bird (yin to Tricky's yang), Bjork, Esthero, Tracey Thorn - each taking my emotions for a different turn.

I'll tell you what I dig - those sistas that's coming full force, making their own music and owning their own labels, like DJ Rap, Miss DJax, The Angel and Nicolette. Sayin' "this is how it should be done for the sisterhood." Women that respond to bass, straight up ball breakers like Riz Maslen and Andrea Parker, creating dark sounds that exorcise their personal demons. And hip-hop females holding their own on the microphone, goin' back to Sha Rock, the Plus One element that was down with the Funky Four. The same feeling when I dote on MC Lyte, Roxanne Shante or Sweet T, on ahead to Apani B-Fly Emcee and the Ladybug Miss Mecca. And whenever Bahamadia speaks, my face is aglow diggin' on that flow - like she's always up to somethin' sinister. or Ursula Rucker closin' out Roots joints with ill urban poetics, heartfelt and introspective.

And as for Lauryn Hill, sista woman is laughing in the face of everyone who told her that she couldn't do it.

The scribes, I'm down with them, too. Read them before I read the brothers: mothers Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison, Nikki Giovanni, bell hooks, Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston, Terri McMillan...read 'em all. Got vexed, infuriated and still finished the books.

And the list goes on. Talented sisters, too many to mention.

But, don't ask me to explain estrogen. Me Mars, you Venus, i-ight? It’s like that. I ain't in the mood for no verbal beatdown. It’s hard enough dealing with my own hormone, for real.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

dear sisterhood -

i'm sorry that i haven't always treated you the way that i should have (Lord knows i haven't), but never let it be said that i haven't given you the props that were due you. when you need a ear, you know where i'm at. oh yeah, one more thing...


{jason randall smith}

Posted by macedonia at 3:21 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 2 March 2006 3:22 PM EST
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Wednesday, 1 March 2006
Now Playing: feist - mushaboom

this is my new buzz word in regards to both sides of the surface. visually, the site represents what happens when you have a basic knowledge of html, but your real passion is writing and talking about music. you don't have to tell me that the site's unwieldy - i already know. i'm a blog-centered person. it's easier to maintain and more personal and immediate.

so i envision holy war in the mental being the place where the action is, meaning that i want to slowly relocate the rants and reviews into the blog. right now, it just makes sense to me. so we'll start it off with some older rants from the On The Verge newsletter days (B.B. - Before BSOTS) for Women's Herstory Month, then follow it up with some writings based around the Lenten season - also some archived material. plus it gives me an excuse to revisit all this old writing. same for the reviews, too - there's some older stuff that got reviewed a while back that's now available digitally, so it'll be good to resurrect some blurbs on those releases and give them some much-deserved shine.

all in attempts to make this online humble abode of mine "blogcentric". (dag nabbit, i like that word.) stay tuned...

Posted by macedonia at 5:13 PM EST
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Tuesday, 28 February 2006
BSOTS 014 - vibes on the black hand side (pt. two)
Now Playing: silence...and the constant hum of the hard drive...
Topic: my podcasts

here's part two...just managed to squeeze it in before march first comes and dark-shaded souls aren't important for another 365 days. some rock, some soul, some hip-hop. from the sublime to the surreal to the just plain scary (you'll know it when you hear it...). i think the actual title of the blackalicious joint is "your move" instead of "you move," but i only go by what they tell me in the pmn.

speaking of which, the network features a version of bettye lavette's "let me down easy" (the beautitful closer of this podcast) that i can't seem to find anywhere else. did a search of sister's lavette's albums on amazon.com, but only found a live version and an uptempo version for the clubs. and it's not on her album from last year, I've Got My Own Hell To Raise. that one's on some cover tune/redefining soul concept album type stuff, where lavette takes on works from singer-songwriters like sinead o'connor, aimee mann, and others. thought i could find some information at epitaph, since they released that album. but bettye's profile and discography isn't even up there yet. they're making it hard for a brother that wants to come correct for the listeners.

so for now, the whereabouts of the version i played are unknown to me. my apologies. any soul scholars wanna help a brother out, please do...

download ||| subscribe

add to my PodNova

qpe*mcgarrett (buy it at bleep.com)
blackalicious*your move (feat. life savas) (buy it at amazon.com)
teba, crosby & red lion*blackness anthem
phil moore browne*occupants of dead space
wade austin*who bears the love (buy it at luv-productions.com)
pesa #2 (psa from public enemy)
dalek*classical homicide (get the MP3 here)
bettye lavette*let me down easy

background music:
qpe*milk (buy it at bleep.com)
madlib*understanding (comprehension)

other key info: afropunk documentary, hoodhype podcast, daily source code

Posted by macedonia at 12:56 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 28 March 2006 5:57 PM EST
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Tuesday, 14 February 2006
BSOTS 013 - vibes on the black hand side (pt. one)
Now Playing: blackalicious - you move (feat. life savas)
Topic: my podcasts

this show is a result of seeing what i could do about celebrating black history month and doing it via podsafe music. i think i fared better than i thought i would; this will definitely be a two-parter. still not entirely sure how i feel about this show. maybe it's my bad mood, maybe it's being really hard on myself, maybe it's being REALLY upset over dilla's death. actually, i feel like i talked way too damn much on this show, but what's done is done.

this podcast includes hip-hop, soul, drum and bass, and some leftfield electronics. the show was pretty much recorded when i found out about Jay Dee - totally shocked. so i recorded a brief statement in light of that, which serves as the introduction for the show. also, the roy ayers song is not called "soul in the whole," but "funk in the hole." with that said, let's get started...

download ||| subscribe

add to my PodNova

in memoriam: james yancey aka jay dee/j dilla
nadir*the revolution is now (buy it at cdbaby.com)
hired gun*dedication
jadox*it does not compute (feat. mane azeem)
j dilla*airworks (buy it at itunes)
roy ayers*funk in the hole (platinum pied pipers remix) (buy it at rapster records)
nadir*superstar (buy it at cdbaby.com)
daniel givens*light travel (fetch the future) (buy it at bleep.com)
sankofa bass project*on the mountain top
theory*the towers

background music:
qpe - until
soundscraper - forty days fortified knights

other key info: voxunion.com, nadir's official website

Posted by macedonia at 12:16 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 28 March 2006 6:06 PM EST
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Monday, 30 January 2006
news round-up for january
Now Playing: dread daze - free your mind
Topic: articles

i'll keep it brief: a number of articles this month worth checking out...

Michael Eric Dyson turned in something special this month in tribute to MLK. be on the lookout for what sounds like an eye-opening documentary on hip-hop. it's a perspective that needs to be told. the fact that a brother's taking the lead this time shows hope for the hip-hop masses yet.

can't believe we've lost three great men of soul: two of them singers, another a songwriter. finally, inspired by the latest rolling stone magazine cover, sister rosa clemente penned an article in regards to Jesus, hip-hop, and kanye west. sigh...i get the point, but i'm more than skeptical (as evidenced by my response to the article found in the comments section).

Posted by macedonia at 5:09 PM EST
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BSOTS 012 - survival vibes from 2005 and elsewhere (pt. three)
Now Playing: prince paul - confessions of a beat junkie
Topic: my podcasts

this show concludes the 2005 overview while still allowing a few songs from other years to sneak in and be a part of the fun. click here to download the show.

add to my PodNova

show notes are as follows:
ekayani and the healing band*lazy afternoon sun (buy at CDBaby.com)
david last*the push pull (buy at bleep.com)
baba israel and yako*state of emergency
tricky*antimatter (buy at amazon.com)
roche/louis*sizzle (buy at solosrecords.com)
lovespirals*love survives (buy it at lovespirals.com)
speak*essence (evan stone's pmn link)

other key info: the femm nameless, bleeps-oh-six compilation, macedonia's faves of 2005

Posted by macedonia at 12:10 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 28 March 2006 6:03 PM EST
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Sunday, 15 January 2006
macey's faves of 2005
Now Playing: NFL playoff game: chicago bears vs. carolina panthers
Topic: music appreciation

wanted to make sure i got around to writing about albums and songs that stayed on my turntable, in my CD/media player, or just got stuck in my head this year. for some of the choices, i'll include links to where you can stream or download songs. collect them all and you'll have a BSOTS best of 2005 online mix tape of sorts. can't say no to free music, right? plus, hopefully it'll help lead you to some works you may not be familiar with or encourage you to drop dollars on a release you may have been curious about. i would also provide a list of releases i didn't get around to, but why depress myself like that? let's do this...


MARK DE CLIVE-LOWE - Tide's Arising [ABB Soul]
everything that this man's been involved in, i've liked. *Tide's Arising* does not disappoint. uptempo and downbeat future soul that keeps the body and the brain engaged. check "Slide," "Heaven," and "State Of The Mental" for the best moments.
click here to stream or download "Heaven"

DANGERDOOM - The Mouse and The Mask [Epitaph]
when i first learned about the heavy use of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim lineup on this project, i thought somebody was joking. somehow or another, Dangermouse made it work. as for MF Doom, to call him a clever wordsmith is putting it lightly. Doom's just sick, a rhyme sayer that will always have you hitting the rewind button just so you can make sure he said what you think he said. yeah, this one's a keeper.

FULL - Desperandum [Handpicked/Madpeeps]
the "rocktronic charismob" tightens up its game and manages to make an accessible avant-pop album with rock guitars firmly in hand while losing none of the free jazz sensibility that made their previous effort so engaging. lead vocalist Ms. Wings is a star that shines even brighter on this release. the whole world needs to know about this band.

JNEIRO JAREL - Three Piece Puzzle [Ropeadope]
Brooklyn native. Philly resident. MC/DJ/producer. it's insane how great this album is. somewhere between A Tribe Called Quest at their pinnacle and the finest moments from Madlib's catalog is Jneiro Jarel. no lie. go cop this joint. NOW.

DAVID LAST - The Push Pull [theAgriculture]
whimsical and just plain fun, David Last's debut channels dub through demented dancehall and carnival-style hip-hop beats. expect the unexpected.

JAMIE LIDELL - Multiply [Warp] - UK
never would i have expected an album like this from one-half of Super Collider. a wonderful mix of past, present and future soul, and Jamie gets kudos for crooning his ass off. sounding like an updated version of a Michael Jackson/Quincy Jones collaboration one minute, then classic Stax Records 45s the next. brilliant.
click here to stream or download "When I Come Back Around"

M.I.A. - Arular [XL]
perhaps my wife said it best while watching M.I.A.'s backup dancers shake their rumps across Central Park's Summerstage: "she's not a revolutionary...she's the daughter of a revolutionary." point taken. even so, this remains one of the best political/party albums to come out in a long time. my joints include "Galang," "Sunshowers," "Bucky Done Gun," and "$10."

NNNJ - Monkey Straddle [theAgriculture]
perhaps the strongest release from theAgriculture in 2005, this debut album from Nnnj bowls you over with shape-shifting maturity. jazz-inspired dub occasionally flirting with hip-hop rhythm structures, a number of the songs almost take on an otherworldly quality. words are hard to come by, but it makes more sense with each and every listen.

NOUVELLE VAGUE - (self-titled) [Luaka Bop]
here's another project that could've fallen flat on its face if it wasn't handled correctly. take two guys with a love for '80s synth-pop and punk tunes, throw in some vocalists and have them sing the lyrics to said tunes (even though they never heard the originals), then dress it up in a cocktail lounge background. doesn't sound good on paper, does it? do yourself a favor and listen to it anyway - it's great. covers of Joy Division, Depeche Mode, The Cure, and a bunch of others. guilty pleasure of the year.

PREFUSE 73 - Surrounded By Silence [Warp] - UK
some weren't down with this album, claiming that producer Scott Herren got his pseudonyms mixed up and spiked his Prefuse 73 efforts with too much Savath & Savalas. perhaps that's because this album represents Herren's most kaleidoscopic view of hip-hop yet, as well as his most star-studded. while the representation of MCs is strong on this effort (El-P, Ghostface, Beans, Aesop Rock, GZA, Masta Killa...), some of the best collaborations are with The Books, Claudia & Alejandra Deheza, and Tyondai Braxton.
click here to stream "Hideyaface"

PLATINUM PIED PIPERS - Triple P [Ubiquity]
one of the best hip-hop soul full-lengths to drop in who knows how long. Wajeed and Saadiq bring their A-game on this one. special guests include Sa-Ra, J-Dilla, Tiombe Lockhart, Georgia Anne Muldrow, and others. fantastic.

ROOTS MANUVA - Awfully Deep [Big Dada] - UK
while nothing on here isn't as career-defining as his underground classic "Witness (1 Hope)," Awfully Deep has all the elements to make this Manuva's breakout album. clever rhymes, tight beats, and choruses that stay in your head for weeks on end. further proof of why Americans have no business frontin' on UK hip-hop any longer.

SOUND DIRECTIONS - The Funky Side of Life [Stones Throw]
possibly Madlib's finest moment this year. an offshoot of the Yesterday's New Quintet project, the Beat Konducta leads a jam session featuring members of Breakestra, Antibalas, the Dap-Kings, and others introducing original tunes and remaking sampled classics. if you needed any reminder that jazz is Madlib's first love, here you go.

STEVE SPACEK - Space Shift [Sound In Color]
lead vocalist for the group Spacek comes through with his solo debut. slightly more down to earth than what he does with Spacek, but still miles ahead of a lot of soul releases out there. beats supplied by GB, J-Dilla, and Spacek himself.
click here to stream or download "Dollar"

DWIGHT TRIBLE & THE LIFE FORCE TRIO - Love Is The Answer [Ninja Tune] - UK
much props to Carlos Nino for getting brother Trible together with the best in present-day beat-making. spiritual jazz vocals float over head-nodding rhythm structures supplied by Madlib, Sa-Ra, Daedalus, J-Dilla, and Nino. Absolutely stellar.


THE ALMIGHTY K.O. - "George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People" [MP3]
the fact that it uses the instrumental for Kanye's "Gold Digger" (another song that got stuck in my head throughout 2005) is only half the story. made in response to President Bush's actions during the Hurricane Katrina crisis, K.O. comes correct with humor undercutting the anger. sometimes you need to laugh to keep from crying, and clearly K.O. understands this. even better than Mos Def's "Katrina Klap."

BLOC PARTY - "Tulips" [Dim Mak]
this song wasn't on their EP, nor did it appear on their Silent Alarm full-length. the tenderness and sensitive interplay between the band members on this song makes it one of the strongest in their catalog.

BOARDS OF CANADA - "Chromakey Dreamcoat" [Warp] - UK
i have yet to hear the latest album by BOC, but if the rest of it holds up to this song, it'll make for quite a session.
click here to stream or download this song...

CAURAL - "She's Everywhere I Look" [Consumers Research and Development]
i hold Caural (real name Zachary Mastoon) in the same regard as someone like Prefuse 73. this piece taken from the Hazardous Materials compilation is proof positive of his mind-blowing talent. heavy drums, melancholy piano, and dreamy, meditative chords equals continuous rewinds.
click here to download or stream this song...

COMMON - "The Corners" [Geffen]
i could try frontin' on this one, but it's no use - the minute Kanye's production kicks in, i'm head noddin' HARD. plus Common sounds hungry on the mic again. and it never hurts to have The Last Poets put in their two cents as well. this is how a single from an album is supposed to sound...

DARONDO - "Didn't I" [Ubiquity]
of the three songs i've heard so far from the Gilles Peterson Digs America compilation, "Didn't I" stays on lock in my head. it's the ultimate soul slow jam, and i can't believe that no one's unearthed this one already - it's too pretty to stay unnoticed. straight up - this is baby makin' music right here...

EDAN - "Fumbling Over Words That Rhyme" [Lewis]
taken from his Beauty And The Beat full-length, Mr. Humble Magnificent schools us with a positive education in hip-hop MCs. probably one of my favorite hip-hop songs of 2005. (side note: don't sleep on the track "Torture Chamber" either, featuring a hungry-as-hell Percee P on the mic...)

FOUR TET - "Smile Around The Face" [Domino]
Kieran Hebden nailed it with this one. swirls of sonic happiness shower down on you everytime you play it. absolutely impossible to be in a bad mood when this one's on - song titles don't lie.

JAMIROQUAI - "Feels Just Like It Should" [Epic]
the lead single off Dynamite, Jay Kay and company still manage to surprise. the song's a spaced-out, guitar-driven good time. some still weren't convinced, so Sa-Ra came in and worked their magic with a remix. either version will do.

KOUSHIK - "Be With" [Stones Throw]
some focus on the brilliance of Madlib to the extent of overlooking the rest of Stones Throw's roster. if you do, you'll miss out on great artists like Koushik. "Be With" brings the harmonies of '60s psychedelic rock into hip-hop's playground. gorgeous doesn't even begin to describe it...

LITTLE BROTHER - "Lovin' It (feat. Joe Scudda) [ABB]
Phonte Coleman, Big Pooh, and 9th Wonder just kept bringing it to us. This single from their major label debut The Minstrel Show is essential head nod material.

M.E.D. - "Nightlife" [Stones Throw]
produced by Madlib for the Push Comes To Shove album, this joint should've been stamped heavy rotation on mainstream urban radio stations across the country. M.E.D. sounds great on this one and the beat compliments him nicely.

OUT HUD - "One Life To Leave (A Requiem)" [Kranky]
featuring members of !!!, this was the rockin' rumpshaker of the year. slinky synths, killer female vocals, and a bassline that kept you movin'. hearing this was all you needed to hear to know that the album was gonna be the bomb.
click here to download or stream an alternate version of this song...

TV ON THE RADIO - "Dry Drunk Emperor" [MP3]
between the war in Iraq and Hurricane Katrina, TVOTR was given plenty to write about. and it all came out in one brilliant composition. blazing guitars, vocal harmonies that evoked pain, anger, and even a glimmer of hope. just...plain...beautiful.
click here to download or stream this song...

Z-TRIP - "Breakfast Club (feat. Murs and Supernatural)" [Hollywood]
taken from Z-Trip's debut album - a reminder that rap joints are supposed to be fun. smiles are Kool-Aid wide when this one's on the soundsystem. rhymin' about breakfast cereals and saturday morning cartoons...now, that's what i'm talkin' about...
click here to download or stream this song...

Posted by macedonia at 5:01 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, 15 January 2006 5:18 PM EST
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