We live in a city ripe with new music from local artists. People are in a positive mood because you can feel the upswing in the air, thanks to successful indie venues and fledgling record shops.
So, when I tell you Birmingham is home to one of the foremost soul music sites on the internet, you’re allowed to be shocked, but you must immediately dive into what you’ve been missing all along.
BamaLoveSoul.com is a sahara in what I hear alot of people call a “wasteland” of local music coverage.
Hey now, we resemble that comment. Back to BLS though. The co-op of local artists & writers has just curated the second incarnation of “On Deck”, a love letter to what is really happening in the world of chill hiphop and soulful new music. Its not releasing until February but I got to listen for myself and I’m smitten. And proud. I used to say “Birmingham needs this” when good things happen, but we’re in such a better place entertainment-wise since I began this site back in 07 that I now say “our city deserves this”. Stay tuned. I will post every link for y’all to listen the day it drops.
I defy you to find someone who cant find a track to get lost inside within the first listen of “On Deck 2”. Mine was GDNA’s – “Calm”. The closest I’ve come to electronic music lately is local boy Balcony View, so I’m no expert. But I do have a new insight into my own musical palette. Damn. Thanks, BLS.
I wrote in detail about Solange’s SAINT HERON effort a few months back and please let me eat the shit out of my own hat right now. Birmingham knocked her record out of the water. Legit local artists? Check. New & exciting acts from all over the world chosen by a Birmingham native? They gotchu.
Coachella music festival rolled out its lineup announcement this week and the biggest news from said announcement is the reunion of the ATL’s finest, OutKast. Finally a reunion we can all actually care about. Andre 3000 and Big Boi have not released an album together as OutKast since the year 2003. It’s been a long time coming so this week I thought we needed a reminder of just how important OutKast is in the history of Hip Hop with this throwback jam from the year 1994. “Player’s Ball” comes off the very first OutKast record “Southernplayalistcadillacmuzik”.
Here’s a video from Pitchfork’s video series called “Frames” where Big Boi tells a story from the early days of OutKast set to a hilarious cartoon.
Tonight at 433 20th Street South, there will be a coming together of what might be the best emcees, poets and singers in the city.
Baron Amato is home from NOLA for the holidays and so it’s time to show out.
I CANNOT EXPRESS HOW I EXCITED I AM! ALL CAPS!
BHAMFM has done features on the beautiful Jazz’Mine Garfield and Baron Amato, so we cannot wait to see the local artists they’ve recommended (including Indyah, Eugenius, Chris Jay… they’ll all be there). Tonight, for $5 you can see the most soulful artists in town at a cool new venue called the Foreign Exchange Experience.
Next week, we will be interviewing Eugenius & Haruskii, two of the guys on the bill who are also putting the show together.
Need some chill in your life? Time for something new? Head on down. BHAMFM approved for sure.
Watch below for some hints as to how it’s going down tonight.
Something I’ve accepted is that I will never, ever listen to everything when it comes out. I do what you probably do- look for posts like this, or get lazy and hit up Metacritic and see what floats to the top. For instance, I didn’t listen to Silence Yourself by Savages until TODAY. It came out in May to wide critical acclaim. I like it a lot, but I’m not even going to begin to act like I can write about it right now. I do have a few things I listened to this year that I really liked for longer than 8 hours. Fortunately, we have some monsters of musical consumption on this site who will give you some deep dives in the coming days. I feel like I didn’t discover enough this year and will endeavor to get weirder in 2014. With those caveats, here’s what I really liked this year.
Pixies – EP1– This was surprisingly good, and utterly unexpected.
Daft Punk- Random Access Memories– The first Daft Punk album I didn’t get bored with.
That one Lorde song– was pretty good. I thought Rick Ross was a contradictory choice on it, but hey, whatever.
Phoenix and Arcade Fire put out albums that I find impenetrable. I don’t know if it’s me, or them.
And now my top 4:
Mikal Cronin MCII– I dearly, dearly love this album. It sounds like nearly everything I liked growing up. It’s simple and melodic. I get really bored with “dude and a guitar” music (sorry, Kurt Vile) and I kind of get that feeling here. But, this is “guy and a guitar and electricity and a backing band”. Thank God.
So So Glos- Blowout– I tried to get fellow writer for the site Phil into the So So Glos. He said they sound like bad Rancid. He may be right, but he can go to hell. I love this album. When I have to do some coding or need to shut off my workplace from my ears, this is it. It’s fast, loud, dumb, and fun. If you for some reason pay attention to what I write I know you are probably sick of hearing about this band. Maybe I’d stop if you’d start listening. Ever think about that?
Vampire Weekend- Modern Vampires of the City– Well. This is unexpected. I actually hated Contra quite a bit. So I had negative expectations for this. I expected a Weezer-esque turn, full of songs fit for Olsen Twins movies (or whoever represents the modern shitty child stars that I don’t keep up with because I’m 38 years old). I expected so little. But then I heard “Step”. That song. What the fuck is playing in that song? A harpsichord? I don’t know. I’m not going to Google it and look smart here. I feel it in my bones, I feel it in my bones. I loved this band from the start, but recognized that their music was simple, jangly and vaguely Paul Simon. That was alright with me, but I understood the rightful criticism that they were a step above the Wiggles. Maybe I’m just boring and like the obvious things, but this album feels like a validation. This feels like the best album of the year. But it’s not.
Yeezus- Kanye West– I wrote this as one of my first posts when we relaunched. Before the endless, clueless interviews. Before that video of a song I love that we shall never speak of again. And after rereading it, I think I was harsher then than am I am now. Because the one thing you can say about Yeezus is that nothing sounds like it. I’m blasting it right now while the wife is out of the house. The windows are shaking to the bass of “I am a God”, which according to Spotify was written by Kanye West and God. And I love it. It’s at times ridiculous and stupid. But there is nothing else like it. In a year when all the major rappers put out an album that sounded exactly like you expected, this stands above them and all else to me. I sincerely wish he’d released Yeezus and then disappeared to hang out with his new kid and not done any press. I wish I didn’t know how he thinks the fashion industry is bringing him down, and how Nike won’t release his shoes. But I do. I understand, quite clearly, that Sway does not have the answers. I cringe, I wonder if I’m just helping build him up to be more than he is. Maybe I am. I ain’t got the answers, man.
Oddly, one of the last things Lou Reed wrote was a wonderful dissection of this album. He said it better than me.
CHILDISH GAMBINO – BECAUSE THE INTERNET (Releasing this Tuesday, 12/10)
“When you spitting real shit, eventually you throw up.”
I had a conversation with a friend recently regarding the profound isolation that’s becoming exponentially present in our supposedly anti-isolation society. The conversation started with me stating my usual “concert complaints” of gratuitous smartphone usage, specifically present at Kanye West’s triumphant Yeezus date in Atlanta (and, assumedly, all dates of the tour). The spectacle is being witnessed by roughly 20,000 people a night – in person. Yet, the intimacy and immediacy is somewhat lost (or at least perverted), as the average attendee is viewing a large portion of the show not through his or her own eyes, but through their phone. Fuck, someone in front of me was even holding up their iPad to capture selfies (with Kanye and his mountain serving as a mere backdrop) during a solid hour of the 3 hour show. These types of conversations are circular, however, as I always end up both defending and criticizing this generationally unique phenomenon of intimate non-intimacy. Without those phoners – and without the Internet at all – would we even have a public figure as riveting as Kanye West? The conversation ended softly, more or less falling apart as I plugged my iPhone back into the wall charger and ignored it for Netflix. The conversation in question was all text messages, but does that truly make me a hypocrite? I’m part of the problem, which is not to say that the “problem” is even necessarily a problem. The problem has become the solution but no one is steering the ship in the right direction. We’re lost.
“Man made the Web. You don’t need a name.”
Enter Donald Glover. Specifically, enter his brilliant new album Because the Internet – a meditation on the generationally unique isolationism that keeps me – and many others – awake many nights, pondering life navigations. The Internet, as argued on this album and by Glover in interviews surrounding its release, provides a limitless world to anyone with WiFi. Yet, that very limitlessness has crippled our generation by painting a vision of life so broad and so infinite, that most of us end up cowering beneath it. For the first time in human existence, people can truly be anything and anyone they want. Nothing – and no one – is untouchable. One’s own identity is, more feasibly than ever before, actually in the hands of the individual. Perhaps, then, such an unprecedented gift as limitlessness possesses a strong learner’s curve. It could be said that my generation would benefit from some conscious rewiring.
A new identity born of a conscious reinvention of what has become a subconsciously constant reassignment process by trivial outside forces (wage, sex, race).
It’s quite clear on Because the Internet that Glover has done some serious rewiring of his own. He doesn’t appear to be any less lost than anyone else, but he does exhibit a refreshingly candid and inspiringly self-aware thesis on what it means to be truly “born of the Internet.” As anyone who even just casually participates in pop culture already knows, Glover has risen from a YouTube icon (DerrickComedy) to a respected writer (30 Rock) to a TV star in his own right (Community) to a… rapper?
In fact, not at all.
Glover would be more fairly described as, simply, an artist. “Music journalism at large” seems to cling to this beautifully broad title as something mystically unattainable. That line of thinking, of course, has grown increasingly obsolete among actual artists. I mean, why can’t I write, sing, act, direct, paint, design, and produce all at once? The given answers are usually pumped-up non-answers (“you can’t be good at everything,” etc.). So, then, I suppose, we remove the contraction from the discourse. Why CAN I write, sing, act, direct, paint, design, and produce all at once?
Because, well, the Internet. That’s why.
“We are the dreams of our parents lost in the future who hide the deepest desires and wear a mask like a lucha.”
Our future is brightest. We are the envy of our circumstantially narrow-minded forefathers. Glover, like Kanye before him, understands this deeply. However, the unique strength and power of Glover’s work – something I assume will carry over from this album into his upcoming FX series Atlanta – rests in the societal immediacy of his position. At 30 years old, Glover is still sitting at our table.
01 The Library (Intro)
02 I. The Crawl
03 II. worldstar
04 Dial Up
05 I. The worst guys (feat. Chance The Rapper)
06 II. shadows
07 III. telegraph (“Oakland” by Lloyd)
08 IV. sweatpants
09 V. 3005
10 Playing Around Before The Party Starts
11 I. The Party
12 II. no exit
13 Death By Numbers
14 I. Flight of The Navigator
15 II. zealots of stockholm (free information)
16 III. umm
17 I. pink toes (feat. Jhene Aiko)
18 II. earth: The oldest computer (The last night) [feat. Azealia Banks]
19 III. life: The biggest troll (andrew auernheimer)
Lately, I’ve been sharing stories & detailed interviews with the stars of our city’s hiphop and R&B scene. This week, one of my personal favorite singers — from anywhere, not just Alabama — talks about conquering confidence issues to becoming an immensely talented voice who collaborates and creates with every relevant emcee in town. Meet JazzMine.
BHAMFM: You have one of the most beautiful voices in Birmingham. Who/what were some major influences that fostered your talent as a child?
Jas’mine: Well, first off, thank you! I was always the kid that was pushed up front. It seems like I could never escape the spotlight.. and I didn’t mind because that’s home for me. I was in many oratory competitions, essay contests, choirs. You name it, I did it! I just loved to perform. As a child, confrontation was hard for me. So was the ability to be understood. Performing in any realm or writing, for example, was life to me. I was understood and even then I just didn’t care what others would think of me. Life has to be another push of influence. I’ve always been an observant, laid back, kool kat, spelled with a K because — hey — we all belong in that “cool society” (laughs). I was this way as a child because there was wisdom in every step, every situation, every bit of time that my mind spent analyzing the truth, which then translated into creativity.
BHAMFM: What part of town did you grown up in?
Jas’mine: I grew up on the west side of town. Forestdale mainly, but my roots are deep in the Ensley area. I attended a private school, Holy Family, from preschool all the way through high school. It was the best school I attended simply because who “I am” grew right from that area.
BHAMFM: Your song “Intoxication” is my favorite R&B song of the year. The production value is amazing. We’ve posted it on our site a few times! How was the song born & who did you work with to record it?
Jas’mine: Keep on posting and sharing! Yeah, it is one of those songs that means a lot to me. There was a time in my life where I had lost myself. I mean, I couldn’t even look in the mirror because my image was resting in the eyes of someone else. We all have those times where we fall into our flesh and the only way we can cope is through wordily substance — not realizing that we are only destroying ourselves. I, like so many, tried to drain those thoughts we can never escape by having what we would consider “a good time”. I remember in the midst of everything that nothing was truly going to waste but myself. Many times I’ve slapped myself in the forehead and so many times I’ve had to sit back and say “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”. So I brought these lyrics to play. I’ve always been a huge fan of the original song sampled, “Feel Like Making Love” by Bob James. That was also my first time working with the amazing AP SWAYZE! He sent me the song and I think I might have screamed a little. Ok, ok… ALOT.
BHAMFM: You’re an outspoken Christian. You always seem to have such a positive outlook on life, whether it’s sharing verses from the gospel or getting giddy when you post on Facebook about being in the studio. Would you share a little about your role as a Sunday school teacher and singing at your church?
Jas’mine: We have to understand how grateful and blessed we are. I don’t force my faith on anyone, but I know what God has done for me. I know that regardless of what you may go through, every blessing has its lesson… so we must learn. I remember being little and always praying for wisdom and not really understanding what I was asking for. It was those times when everyday seemed like hell, but you understand there is a breakthrough coming. Knowing what peace really is. What love truly means. We have to experience the wrongs to truly understand those things that are right. Everyday is Sunday School for me! When I’m on stage or even just recording, I feel that I’m in class. It’s a message of breakthrough I want to share. Before, I was one of those who couldn’t stand church. I was way too busy worried about those around me judging. Later I learned “Who cares? They don’t matter!” I gotta say, I’m honored to know the truth within my spiritual relationship with God.
BHAMFM: You have a very modern sound melded with a classically soulful voice. Who are your favorite artists on a larger scale? From any time period?
Jas’mine: Nina Simone, Erykah Badu, Esperanza Spalding, Kanye West, Nora Jones, Hiatus Kaiyote and Laura Mvula. These are my top for more than just there amazing talent, but for not being afraid of just being themselves. They made me not only fall in love with using metaphors in my composition, but also making me feel proud of just being “JazzMine”.
BHAMFM: Who have been the your favorite people to collaborate with in Alabama?
Jas’mine: There’s so much talent in Birmingham! So far, KLUB M.O.N.S.T.A. and Eugenius are amazing. Eugenius is just his own creator; I LOVE IT! I love those who step outside of the box, because it motivates me to run around the outskirts as well. And KLUB MONSTA, well they are just AMAZING. I was able to be a part of their mixtape “Separate, but Sequel” and their latest record “CANVAS.
BHAMFM: How many records/singles/EPs do you have out that people can buy? Perfect stocking stuffers for folks with impeccable music taste!
Jas’mine: I’m currently working with an amazing group “Beats for Change” for an amazing EP release. Also, my newest EP “Write Every Wrong” will be releasing soon as well. So until then feel free to head on over and grabby my current stuff on my Bandcamp!
BHAMFM: What is an absolutely essential record that everyone must listen to, in your opinion?
Jas’mine: Geesh. This is tough without saying my own (grins). Currently, I would have to say the entire Hiatus Kaiyote album. If you understand good music, then you’ll ride the waves of AMAZING VIBES!
EDITOR’S NOTE: Jas’mine is planning to grab her guitar and hit the open road in the near future, so check back in with us for tour dates & shows!
Editor’s Note: Trace William Cowen returned from Atlanta forever changed. You may have been expecting a review of the Kanye West’s Yeezus tour, instead you get an audio/visual experience. One last announcement. No sports bra, let’s keep it bouncing.
Inspired by my attendance of Yeezus at Philips Arena in Atlanta, I invite my readers to accept and embrace the idea that Kanye West truly is the voice of our generation. In the spirit of visual art, I have chosen to forgo the traditional “review method,” opting instead for a more involved experience. Please press play on the SoundCloud link below. Then, swiftly MUTE the embedded YouTube video and press play. Both should be playing simultaneously.