Category Archives: Music

El-P: Definitive Jux ‘on hiatus’

…[As] a traditional record label DEF JUX will effectively be put on hiatus. We are not closing, but we are changing. The process is already underway, and the last several months (for those wondering what the hell we’ve been up to) have been spent dealing with the technical aspects of wrapping up the label in it’s current form and re-imagining our collective and individual futures.

In 2000 starting a traditional record label made a lot of sense. But now, in 2010, less so and I find myself yearning for something else to put my energy into. I also see newer, smarter, more interesting things on the horizon for the way art and commerce intersect, and as an artist and an entrepreneur, I’m eager to see them unfold. The evolution of this industry is, in my opinion, exciting, inevitable and it would be nice to see the DEFINITIVE JUX brand be a part of it. In other words, maybe we can turn this hoopty in to a hovercraft.

After over 10 years of existence, Definite Jux (formerly Def Jux) records is, according to founder/rapper El-P, officially on hiatus. The company, which has released some of the most seminal underground hip-hop records from the likes of El-P himself, Aesop Rock, Cannibal Ox, RJD2, Murs and Del The Funky Homosapien, will continue to sell it’s catalogue and even release one final record, Camu Tao’s posthumous King Of Hearts,” alongside a 10th anniversary compilation/retrospective album. As the quote above explains, though the company is not 100% shut down, where the future will take the company is up in the air, but one thing could be said for sure, the music industry is losing one of the greatest indie hip hop record labels to ever be.

For this blogger, my relationship with the genre of hip-hop has always been a little rocky. Through my high school years, the genre itself was a four-letter word, and even the idea of enjoying a hip hop record would be the most foreign concept in my mind. While it would be Public Enemy’s “It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back,” that would smack me into reality and understand that there was thoughtful, well done hip hop that wasn’t the top 40 cookie cutter that filled the radio waves, I will always recall the first time El-P’s “I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead” and finally, for a lack of a better term, getting it. The production so polished yet ultimately raw, the delivery as biting and passionate as the blistering beats beneath it. This was the rap record I was dying to discover, yet never knew I was looking for.

While Stones Throw’s releases, marred in layers of samples and heavy jazz influences, and anticons outright weirdness would never pull me completely into the indie hip-hop world (my appreciation for the work of Madvillian and J-Dilla aside), Def Jux records was always the source I’d go to for an appropriate hip-hop fix I needed in my life. Will this be the end of all the artists Def Jux brought into my conciousness, in this day and age thats an obvious no, but there is still room to mourn the end of a movement, or in this case, an indefinent hiatus.


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Zzzz…sorry, what should I care about again?: Grammy Edition

So, I was toying with the idea of live-bloging the annual parade of the Recording Academy of Arts and Sciences complete incompetence Grammys, but I got out of work a little to late and my roommates also decided to use the living room, so well, that kind of put the cabash on that idea.

Alas, I kept up with my annual masochistic tradition and paid attention to who won, who got screwed over and those who never, ever, deserve to have the phrase “Grammy Award Winner” attached to their name, but do (Black Eyed Peas, I’m looking at you).

As to why I subject myself to this masturbatory show of the recording industries parade of successful P.R. campaigns and tween-minded product testing, I point you to the 2007 Grammy’s, which will probably be the last time the awards show does anything right. If you can’t remember that far back dear readers, that was the year the Dixie Chicks dominated the awards show for their post-Bush fiasco record, “Taking The Long Way,” which, in this bloggers humble opinion, is still one of the greatest contemporary Country records of all time and not to mention one of the angriest records of all time.

Now, I’m no fool, I know a large part of their Grammy sweep in ’07 was incredibly political and a big screw you to Bush on the Academy’s part, but I’m willing to let that go for the sheer fact that it was a) the greatest record of the year, and b) I also appreciate a big middle finger to the Ca$hville, TN music industry which ran with its tail between their legs and abandon the best thing to come out of that state’s music machine in decades.

This year is no different, I was incredibly disappointed weeks ago after reading the nominations list, whoever wrote down with a straight face Beyonce’s “…Sasha Fierce” as one of the best records of the year is nothing but a damned fool. Yes, “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It”) took over the world last year and deserves all the praise and recognition in the world, but does the Academy really expect us to believe that and the Black Eyed Peas were two of the best albums of the year? Pah-lease. I was also highly amused by the Globe’s wonderful piece of “no fuckin’ duh” journalism in this little piece by Sarah Rodman, popularity is the key? Really? Someone give this lady a Pulitzer for BLOWIN’ MY MIND.

But well, it’s all said and done, Beyonce reigned supreme, people continued to let the Kings of Leon think they will be relevant in 2012, and justly Lady Gaga netted two wins (I will fight anyone that says Gaga doesn’t deserve any best Pop category award, fact). The Zac Brown Band got the kiss of death and won’t be heard of again after a few months. And, as in every year, the one hope I had for an artist getting their just praise failed miserably, it of course fell in the all so popular Best Contemporary Folk Album category, which I know you were all dying to see on the show, what a let down, with Neko Case getting screwed after releasing theĀ  best record of last year “Middle Cyclone,”surprised? No, but well, like I said, I have a level of a hope that borders of masochism sometimes.

But hey, Lil Wayne didn’t get shit — so you win some and lose some.

Edit: Oh, and Elton John, you’re back in my good graces, welcome back. The song has always been “Meh” to me, but he definitely made this so much more epic.

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Zzzz…sorry, what should I care about again?: Coachella 2010

Coachella Music & Arts Festival

As a new year dawns, so comes the rush to be excited over the cavalcade of music festivals that will bring us dreaming of summer. Per usual, the behemoth of indie music festivals, Coachella, released this week their 2010 lineup, with headlining spots going to Jay-Z….Muse….and Gorillaz. Wait, is this the same music festival that brought the world the long awaited My Bloody Valentine reunion? Kraftwerk? Cocteau Twins?

Now, don’t get me wrong, there is still TONS to get excited for. Following suit with tradition, Coachella has a long awaited reunion show in Pavement, let’s just forget the fact that this reunion was announced last year. On the flip side, it seems Coachella is continuing a new tradition of bringing on acts that don’t quite follow their history of being on the cutting edge of bringing fresh acts to a large stage, be it last years Paul McCartney headline, Roger Waters and Prince of previous, with this years being Radiohead tribute band British superstars Muse to headline the second night.

Yet, there are some aspects of this years festival that do hold true to the festivals roots (snark free assessment, promise). From the long list of smaller, indie darlings (the xx, Florence and the Machine, Little Dragon, and Elitist Scum approved Little Boots) to the first US show of the recently hell frozen over reunion of Faith No More, and even Public Image Limited.

It still must be said that what makes a festival is the headliners, and it seems year after year what was once the music festival of record, has fallen to the likes to SXSW and Bonnaroo, favoring big name closers that don’t entirely follow the format of the rest of the festival, in order to sell tickets. Which then, hey, business is business, and who knows, maybe next years Ticketmasterchella 2011 will be an even better year, with the evenings closer Miley Cyrus really bringing the house down.

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