Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Meeting the Neighbors


Part of what makes musicblogging so appealing to me is how it gives voice to the voiceless. If you've got music that you love, that tells people something about who you are or where you're from, this is a way to share that with the world. Musicblogging also lends an immediacy to the music; there's the potential to put you on to what's hot RIGHT NOW.

Shamelessly few of us are just kids shouting out what's hot; most of us are long in the tooth musicgeeks in varying shades of jade. Not Government Names tho'. They're a pirate radio station that plugs you into an international underground rap world that doesn't wear backpacks.

Recent offerings include music from E.S.G, Chamillionaire, David Banner and Lil' Flip.

Spit that shit, gentlemen.

My name is Dylan. I'm 20 years old. I drive a delivery truck for a living and I enjoy writing about rap music. Government Names was started by Al and me. It's become a collaboration between a bunch of people Who are interested in being down and can write. It doesn't have any consistent focus or goal, per se; we've written about everything. Our first post went up in May of 2004.

My name is Al Shipley. I’m 22 years old and live in Baltimore, Maryland. Six months ago, I started the team rap blog, Government Names. More recently, I started a solo blog (Narrowcast) just to have an outlet for stuff that wouldn’t fit on Gov’t Names. I’ve been writing about music in one way or another for a long time, mostly on the internet. It feels good to have an outlet that’s more semi-permanent and all my own. Over the past few months, Gov’t Names has really surpassed my expectations and everyone involved has stepped up to the plate to make it something we think is worth checking daily.

Why "Government Names"?
Al: Government Names is just a phrase I always liked. It’s used in hip hop a lot and evokes the hip hop life well without explicitly reference to it. I think I proposed some other really lame ideas to people before that one clicked; it was dlk’s idea to make it plural.
What are the criteria you judge a song by to decide if it's post-worthy?
Al: It basically comes down to whether I feel like I have anything worthwhile to say about it. It also helps if it’s very new and I can be one of the first people to hype it. Usually if every other blog I read or associate with has already written about a song, I won’t bother with it unless I feel like I have a unique perspective or a dissenting opinion.
Do you have a favorite music critic?
Dylan: Ethan Padgett is the only music writer that i take really seriously right now. I take most of how I do straight from him, from the way he's writing right up to the way I think on things.
Check the N.O. roll call and this early Master P roundup.
Five desert island discs?
1) Nas - "It Was Written"
2) Nas - "Lost Tapes"
3) Nas - "Nastradamus"
4) Nas - "God's Son"
5) Sarah Harmer - "You Were Here"
Do you consider yourself a "music journalist"?
Al: Not really. I take professional music journalism/criticism fairly seriously, which is why I don’t particularly want to go pro with it. I have had some writers I respect encourage me to pursue it professionally, which is flattering, but I like writing about music for fun. What little semi-professional experience I've had tended to suck some of that fun out of it.
Recommend three other musicblogs.
1: Gel & Weave is kind of Gov’t Names’ sister site; they started right around the same time as we did and there’s a lot of mutual respect between us and them. Anyone who enjoys us should definitely be reading them.

2: Dip Dip Dive is Tom Breihan, a fellow Baltimore native and one of the only people in the blogosphere who I’ve actually met and get to hang out with now and then. He’s also a really good writer; look out for his work in Pitchfork, the Baltimore City Paper and Neumu.

3: Jess Harvell is another writer I respect and he just recently converted his blog to the MP3 blog format.
Who's your favorite producer?
Dylan: Da superproducers: DJ Paul and Juicy J.
What's the best live show you've ever seen?
Dylan:I saw G-Unit and Kardinal Offishall last year. Everyone was going wild by the time shit got started: looking fabulous and beautiful, fat little high school girls smoking weed in corners and kids fighting in the stands. The Whoo Kid gunshot sound effects were so loud over the arena speakers that it shook your ribcage. We snuck down to the floor and it was like a riot. Later on, we hit the Whoo Kid afterparty, where some Indian posse cats fought with G-Unit security and tried to snatch Young Buck's chain.

Al:Probably the Boredoms at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C.; June, 1999.
Do you hope to someday make a living with something music? What's your Dream Job?
Al: I’m definitely going to be putting out records at some point in the future; whether I caever turn a profit off it is anyone’s guess. The only thing that’s less realistic than music to expect to make a living off of is the internet.

Dylan: I'd like to be a highschool english teacher, I think. I guess that's what I've always planned on doing.

I just finished a month working in a beef plant on a non-stop line, hundreds of cows a day. I was working at the station right after the hide gets peeled off; our job was to carve the neck out so the head was hanging on by the windpipe and esophagus. Then we'd secure the esophagus with an elastic band, cut the windpipe and hang the head on a rack to be cleaned and broken down by the head line workers. The money was really good but it's brutal work and you get soaked in hot blood.

The good thing about tedious manual labor jobs is you've got these huge stretches of time where your mind is free to wander. That's how i've always written things: map it out in my head then lay it down as fast as possible.
Describe the space you do your writing in.
Dylan: Pale blue couch, laptop set up on leather footstool in a downtown apartment over the korean grocery store. Cute little asian girls from the university are buying phone cards to call home and nervous chinese ladies are slouched in idling lexuses, waiting for their husband to run back out. Kids are selling in our alcove and ducking in the stairwell when the pearly white Crown Vics roll past or wandering back from the circus tent the church sets up in the empty lot beside our block on Rriday nights.
How difficult is it to maintain the site?
Al: Not very hard at all because there are several contributors; two of them are as prolific as I am. If I’m having a busy week, I don’t have to worry about not having anything new on the site for people to see because everybody else will hold it down.
That old chestnut dinner party is at your house and you can invite three musicians living or dead. Who are you inviting?
Dylan: Shawnna. Eve. Remy Ma.
What was the greatest motivation for you to create your site?
Dylan: Al and I wanted to write some bullshit about songs we were feeling. There weren't really many rap blogs when we started and most of the ones that have come up since then are still pretty lame. They're either for some sort of hipster guys or they're written by journalists that would rather be writing about movies or the war or money and NOT the music or they're just shitty. Or a mix of all three.

We just wanted to write about stuff we liked and not be lame.
Has meeting with an artist ever left you feeling tongue tied?
Dylan: I don't know about tongue tied. Shocked, sometimes. With lots of southern dudes, it's pretty easy to get in touch with them. You just have to call them up or e-mail them and they're right there! Like I wanted to interview Fiend, so I just called the number for his record company in a magazine ad and he answered! I talked to him for like ten minutes. It was the same deal with pretty much everyone else but it still surprises me.
Drop by Better Propaganda and pick out a track to hype.

Dylan: Paris - "What Would You Do?"
I like this. It starts with some George Bush chopped up speech talking about "we are mounting a sustained campaign to crack down on every american...." calm, fatherly voice over beautiful jazzy beat you'd use to talk about smoking weed on. -- interrupted by: "FEDERAL AGENTS WE ARE ARMED," kicked in door sound effects, thin-voiced hook girl, drum loop, spooky x-files theme keyboard. paris talking about bush administration opportunism. old man voice, deep and deadly serious.

Al: The Oranges Band - “Finns For Our Feet”
These guys are from Baltimore, and they do good work. All of their songs are pretty much the same jangly chug, and this one is as good as any.


Travis and Jonathan been doing that Jackie Harvey ish long before that mufucka broke his first EXCLUSIVE!

It's the ONLY place to get Rwaffles.

"Because you don't wanna offend anybody."
Filboid Sudge is blogging Academy Award winning Tom 'n' Jerry animator Irvin Spence's 1944 day-by-day cartoon diary. It's really beautiful stuff and a healthy part of your daily blogroll.
Prussian Blue and Panzerfaust.

I gotta warn you: racists REALLY don't keep a backbeat (lack of negro blood, dontchaknow). I couldn't find a single track I liked on the latter page and the lil' Klan Kiddies aren't nearly as good as the hype led one to believe.

Disappointed by White Power music again. Darn.
Taking a step in the direction of Podcasting, I purchased a Playstation compatible microphone for use with the computer and also figured, what the hell, let's try this Get on da Mic that's been catching my eye for the last few weeks.

Do not make my mistake. "Get on da Mic" SUCKS.

Oh, the SONG SELECTION is incredible, no doubt. Rap along with Dizzee Rascal and the Ying Yang Twins? Where do I sign up?

Unfortunately, the game execution makes it absolutely unplayable. The voice recognition is so bad as to be a joke; I found that if I just screamed into the microphone for four minutes I'd ace the stage. SO weak.

I _am_ having some fun with my backup choice though.

Miccio, you karaoke "Burn"! Go get it!
Sabadabada's Brazilian music is a must download collection. Don't, whatever you do, miss the Quarteto Em Cy!

Related topic: remember the mogambi giant post of new musicblogs from, oh, Friday? I've got another thirty or so since then.
Herve Trouillet's animated trailers are very impressive.
Shoegazing at Popstar Feets.
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it is to tell me who sings this amazing theme song for Detroit's Monorail.

Heck, I'd settle for an MP3 file. Anybody?

"People Movin' to the Rhythm, Take A Ride Take A Ride!"

Would that we could.
Bart Van De Vel Wallpaper
Osymyso is dropping his new album, one track per week, online.

Late to link and this has already found it's way around the internet but if you haven't seen Hardly Art, Hardly Garbage's "Hip Hop Quarterbackin'", now's the time.

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