Vince Staples Brings Reality Back to Gangsta Rap

Categories: Albums we like

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Carlo Cruz / Red Bull Content Pool

Vince Staples isn't trying to be hard when he tells stories about his gangbanging past. He also doesn't care much for smoking weed, wearing bling, banging bitches or clearing out his bank account to make an Instagram video.

Instead, Hell Can Wait -- the 21-year-old Long Beach emcee's anticipated debut Def Jam EP -- dropped this week as a "Fuck the Police" for the new generation. It's filled with all of the ballsy storytelling, truthful street depictions and silky poetic verse that has been missing from gangsta rap for over a decade.

"Back in the '90s, music used to emulate the streets, but now the streets emulate music," Staples says.


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The Natives' 'Last Of The Natives' Released Today on Porch Party Records

Categories: Albums we like

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The Natives
Senay Kenfe (left) and Garreth McDaniels

With a message planted in the conscious lyrics of late 1980s New York hip-hop and beats stuck firmly in diverse-as-hell Long Beach, The Natives is The International City's contemporary answer to groups like A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul.

Though The Natives' new album--Last of The Natives, out today on Porch Party Records--doesn't even begin to touch the original Native Tongue Posse's timeless knack for layered sampling (nor is there a chorus on the whole thing), it still follows DNA strands through two generations of musical evolution, giving Afrofuturism a lyrical update over splayed out electronic beach beats that could only be rap fodder for SoCal kids.


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The Album is Not Dying, Despite What You May Have Heard

Categories: Albums we like

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From the Shangri La art
Tell this guy about the death of the album.
By: Michael Corcoran

"The album is dying in front of our very eyes," Variety columnist and music business know-it-all Bob Lefsetz wrote recently based on weak LP sales, including Katy Perry's Prism, which sold only about 220,000 copies in its first week.

"If your plan is to increase your audience, spread the word and make money, suddenly the album just isn't working anymore," he continued. "We've turned into a nation of grazers. And the artist's job is to constantly be at the smorgasbord. Not to deliver one big meal that is picked at and thrown away, but to constantly provide tantalizing bites to the public."

As if Bob Lefsetz knows anything about "the artist's job."

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Puig Destroyer: Kicked in the Balls But Keeps on Going

Categories: Albums we like

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Friday night's 9-0 ass-whupppin' of the Los Angeles Dodgers by the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 of the NLCS dashed the World Series hopes for our neighbors to the north, and essentially closed the books on another baseball season in California.

The shell-shock of Dodger Nation could be felt all the way down here in Angels Country, as surely more than a few Angels faithful turned their sights towards Chavez Ravine at some point last year with their beloved Halos plumbing the depths of the AL West for much of the 2013 season. Because apparently, unlike Chicago, where you're either a Cubs fan or a Sox fan, you can get behind both SoCal MLB franchises without incurring excessive acrimony for crossing over. As a Midwest transplant, this is something that I was shocked to learn.

I was hipped to this dynamic by former Thrice drummer and OC lifer Riley Breckenridge, who released a project EP this summer titled Puig Destroyer, a grindcore tribute to Los Angeles Dodgers rookie sensation Yasiel Puig, a freakishly fast and powerful outfielder who defected from Cuba last year and signed himself up with the Dodgers at $42 million over seven years so as to say, ¡en tu cara, comunistas!

We caught up with Riley, who's finally coming to grips with the end of the Dodgers playoff run, to talk about dual fandom in SoCal baseball, Puig's freakishness, and his latest musical endeavor, Puig Destroyer which, despite the Dodger's recent craptastic performance, is soldiering on to a new EP which will hopefully be out soon.

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Top 10 Emo Bands of the '90s

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Emo wasn't always shorthand to describe Hot Topic pre-teens with black hair spending their parent's money on My Chemical Romance merch. In the 90's, emo went through a revival period looking back to bands like Rites of Spring and Embrace. Today, some music scenes are seeing a revival in emo music as well. Bands like Algernon Cadwalladar, Into It Over It, Tigers Jaw, and Snowing are creating the sounds of the latest emo revival. Like all good things, many emo bands are short-lived. All the bands on this list have either broken up and reunited or have just called it quits all together. Whether you call it post-hardcore, emo, screamo, emotive hardcore, or whiny-teenage music, emo will always be coming in and out of style. Here's our list of the Top 10 Emo Bands of the 90s.


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10 Rock en Español Albums to Listen to Before You Die

Categories: Albums we like
Cafe Tacuba: los reyes

Every Mexican I know has been laughing these past couple of weeks over Rolling Stone's lame attempt to get wabs to pick up their magazine--oh wait, you didn't hear about it? Where they did a double-cover featuring one in English and another en español--in the back, of course? Hey, Jann Wenner: Plessy v. Ferguson was found unconstitutional a while back, you know?

About the only thing that didn't outright suck was their list of the 10 greatest "Latin rock" albums of all time, and that's only because it was written by my good pal, Ernesto Lechner, who, next to Josh Kun and Enrique Lopetegui, was the best critic of the genre back in our salad days (and I wonder what their list would be?). But even Ernesto's list had to be partly watered down for gabacho tastes (seriously, che: Abraxas?), not just in the album choices, but in that title of "Latin rock," a title for a genre no one has used for a decade (the preferred choice for critics is "Latin alternative," although for the diehards, it'll always be rock en español)

Any 10-whatever-your-modifier list is always wrought with danger, but let me make a case for mine. It'll have some of the greatest albums in the genre, sure, but consider this a simultaneous list for gabachos who want to know what all the fuss is about the genre and for rockeros who need some self-reflection about a genre that once seemed poised to rule the world but is now stuck in a rut of reunions and Zoe ripoffs. This list won't include the pioneers ala Charly Garcia, El Tri, Botellita de Jerez and others because that's the advanced level, chavos: this is for the rookies. And definitely no Brazilians--that's another list. And so, let the second-guessing begin!
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10 Punk Albums to Listen to Before You Die

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Coming up with 10 punk albums to listen to before you die is a lot harder than you'd think. For starters, it's a morbid thought, which makes you start asking yourself why in the hell you're thinking about punk albums when you're only gonna die, so who cares?

Second, the best material of many (if not most) punk bands is featured on singles, not full-length records. That's why you won't see Minor Threat on this list because even though they are punk rock royalty, their sole album (1982's Out of Step) isn't as good as their EPs. Or, on the flipside, you got a band like Red Cross, whose first EP is
unfuckwithable, but EPs aren't albums and therefore not included in this list.


That said, there are still plenty of full-length punk records that everyone should most definitely hear and more than likely own.

Here, in no particular order, are 10.

See Also:

*10 Jazz Albums to Listen to Before You Die

*Top 25 Greatest OC Bands of All Time

*Top 10 Band Wally George Band Interviews From the Hot Seat

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10 Classical Albums to Listen to While Studying or Writing

Categories: Albums we like
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Philip Glass 

In 1993, the famous book by Don Campbell, The Mozart Effect, convinced millions that listening to Mozart can have a substantial effect on cognition.  Now, the debate over whether or not music improves intelligence is filled with psychologists, neurologists, teachers, and musicians with so many different takes, it's hard to know the truth.  But one thing neurologists know for sure is that music "activates the brain regions related to attention, semantic processing, motor functions, and emotional processing," according to a study in Brain: The Journal of Neurology.  It also helps relax the person studying.  So before I get too nerdy, let me start.  This is a list for all those times you go to coffee shop and want to drown out the annoying couple playing crossword puzzles; this is a list for all those times you have a block, while you're writing your term paper or a poem; this is a list for anyone who wants to hear good music, while still memorizing the order of all the dead presidents, without being interrupted by lyrics.  These are my favorite songs to listen to while studying and writing.    

See Also:
*10 Jazz Albums to Listen to Before You Die
*John Coltrane's 'A Love Supreme': The Story Behind the Album
*John Harrington Incorporates Jazz and Jay-Z On Stop Time's New Album

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Zedd Tells Us Why He Dislikes the Phrase "EDM"

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Anton Zaslavski, aka Zedd


Anton Zaslavski, better known by his DJ alias Zedd, is no stranger to the music world growing up in Germany with two musician parents. By age four, he'd began playing the piano and drums and receiving training in classical music. "I played classical music until I was 12 years old and realized it wasn't as cool," says Zaslavski. "Then I joined a rock metal band and played the drums with them for almost 10 years." He played in Dioramic, signed by Lifeforce Records, even once he began his electronic music producing career in 2009. "Once I started touring as a DJ I flew back to Germany to make another album with the band, but it just didn't make sense for me to stay in the band if I was always away," Anton says. With hardly any accent, you could barely tell he's only been touring the States for a year.

Zedd's interest in electronic music came from hearing Justice's "Cross" which made him want to produce electronic music and incorporate it with his band. "I knew Daft Punk and Justice but that's it," he says. "I really just did it for fun. Then one day I sent Skrillex a remix and next thing you know he brings me on tour and my life is changed." Anton went from playing a show with his band once or twice a week to DJing for three months straight after releasing songs on Dim Mak Records and OWSLA (Skrillex's label). "I do miss my family and friends from home but you kind of get used to it," says Zedd adding that when he does get a break he goes straight to the studio.

See Also:

*Slander: Two Former OC Frat Boys Help Take TrapStyle Worldwide
*Nocturnal Wonderland: Our Recap From A to Z
*Singularity Highlights the M in EDM


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Meat Your New Favorite Band: The Hoagies

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Marcos Godoy Godchaux

If Lookout! Records still existed, Orange County foursome the Hoagies would be the ideal group for the label. Take one part three-chord punk a la the Queers and one part '70s rock a la the Donnas and you've got the Hoagies.

However, there's more to the Hoagies than just a fascination with '90s Bay Area punk. You see, the Hoagies like sandwiches. A lot. So much in fact that the foursome (singer King Hoagie, guitarist Tony "No" Bologna, drummer/keyboardist Sloppy Joe and bassist Rye Bread) are about to release a 12-song record titled Cold Cuts that includes songs such as "Rye or Die," "I Wanna Grinder" and "I'm Gonna Put It In Your Pita."

Joke and/or themed bands almost always suck, but don't go dismissing the Hoagies as the punchline to a joke no one ever told because the songs are actually really good. In fact, Cold Cuts is so rockingly catchy that I, a vegan, not only enjoy the record, I'm thinking about getting a pastrami on sourdough right this second.

OK, that's a lie, but I did like the songs enough to devote an entire six minutes coming up with questions to email the band. Here, in not even remotely close to their entirety, are their pickled answers. 

See Also:

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