"If we can't learn to live together, we're gonna die alone"

Thursday, January 20, 2011

LETS GET WITH IT - WoMass is in the Building.. Introducing MOKE N TONE

I swore to get down to these brass tacks so here goes. I grew up West a' Worchester and I've been repping the 413 for quite some time. At one point I like to think I was right in the heart of a movement. The Pioneer valley, while certainly steeped in a rich tradition of musical output and forefathers, had something of a groundswell in the late 90's which led to the arise of several musical acts that got a chance to see things farther down the career path than many ever get a chance to. Stardom, I suppose, is really measured in the eye of the prospective star. But for my money it was a special time. I got to be part of, and many of my friends got to experience, something really special and I think we raised a bar. I'm definitely nostalgic for the early 2000's. It was livin' on top of the world time. That being said as we enter 2011 there are some artists arising (and many that have been working on that rise for awhile) that need to catch some love. My tastes run the gamut, so I'm gonna throw a bit of an eclectic mix at yinz and see what sticks...

Western Mass Hip Hop
Honestly this is a tough road to travel. Hip-Hop is a much maligned medium on its best day. So much of the qualifications for greatness also seem to stem from pedigree, or specifically, origin (City, Block, etc.). Realism and credibility are constantly a question and rationale for quality. There is really no other genre of music where your background is so closely scrutinized. This has, of course, been equally Hip-Hop's bar-setting beauty and fatal flaw. I've long grown out of caring who and where good music is made, I just care if its good. I'm happy to report that Hip-Hop does in fact live and even thrive in Western Mass.
     First up in a class of emerging Western Mass's true sounds is a not-too-little dude by the name of Mokeout. Moke as he is knonw round the way is an MC is the real tradition. In a world of hooks and disappointing synth-horns, Moke has made a point of RAPPING. Can he do the "make it rain" thing? Yah, if thats what you're into. But believe if thats extent of your interest then in Moke's eyes you probably have a lot to learn about this thing of his.
Who's up for a quick game of cricket? Reeeal quick.
     Visiting Moke at home the first thing you notice is that the main feature of his domicile is an absurd collection of composition notebooks and legal pads. Unfortunately if I had needed to borrow a page to jot down some notes there would be no sheets available. Moke literally spends every waking moment with a pen in his hand and a notebook within arms length at the absolute furthest. There a several bookshelves. They're all filled with his own work. Spending an afternoon with Moke gives me a chance to hear him rap in several different timbres at several speeds and with a multitude of concepts and subjects. Again, in the truest and oldest of traditions, the man draws from his own experiences. His words run off the page with stories of raising his son as a single parent and figuring out how to get over to that end. He writes constantly and actively tries to capture exact sensations of the moment. So it's no surprise that the man who is living through the same political upheaval and financial crisis that Americans are now experiencing every day has a sense of honesty and self about his words that I find easy to identify with. Knowing that Moke is doing this not just for himself but for his future and the future of his family is visceral and it comes across immediately in his delivery. He can easily relaxes into party joints where his flow melts over the edges of his closest cohorts, two producers with very different styles by the name of Live and Tone, and reverses into extreme angst, agitation and palpable emotion when his subject matter changes to life, love and easily his most important asset, his son.
Moke (right) with producer Tone of Problemaddicts Fame
     Hearing Moke's flow makes me shiver. It's good to know that in the depths of the western mass winter some flames can't be doused. His hunger for affirmation leads one to believe that the only thing that can keep this MC from widespread recognition is himself. In 2011 we will find out exactly how far that ambition will take him.

Video for "False Flags" featuring Moke and Tone as well as frequent collaborator Tools.

Alright thats it for this edition. Bobby got tired fingers.

Socially (Media) Aware

At the risk of some sort of fanboy mutation I would like to formally declare my undying allegiance to Pandora Radio. If you are not a user I can't think of one good reason not to go sign up today. Most folks I know have a hard enough time finding a radio station they can tolerate. Introduce the minding-numbing to self mutilating effect of radio commercials (somehow even worse than television commercials, I think due to the fact that so many of the voices are not professionals) and end up right in that spot equidistant from ROCK and HARDPLACE. The Music Genome Project, an initiative designed to create algorithms to determine what it is about music that people identify with, graciously created this product and if you aren't on board I must reiterate: SIGN UP TODAY. You'll be glad you did. Put in the name of your favorite artist, or even better, put in the name of artists you barely know but whose style you like. See how quickly your mind is blown. Its like, lightspeed.

ENOUGH with the Snarking

A weird combination of ideas and events transpired to get me to a realization. No need for the over-snark or just downright condescending overtone. I'm gonna do my best to accomplish a few things:
1. Showcase music - that was my original intention with this page, to bring some spotlight to Wo-Mass and beyond so  I'm gonna try to get back to my original MO
2. Re-structure the tonality. I'm not interested in offending people with my posts. I certainly have opinions and I dang-well will be voicing them. But I thank I can do it in  a less flam-y
more audience-embracing type of writing. Heck knows there are plenty of blogs full o' swears, tears, spears and jeers. So while it goes against every fiber I'm gonna attempt to take me low-rear quarters out of the speech.
So try to enjoy...
Also, Today's tidbit: Andrew Garfield in his new Spider-Man digs. This is the kid that wowed me pretty good in the Social Network and I think had a pretty nice dramatic turn in his mostly rhetorical dialogue with Robert Redford in Lions for Lambs...
He's got three claw-marks across his chest suggesting to me what most people already took for granted, The Lizard will probably be his first villain nemesis...

Oh, and Emma Stone is playing Gwen Stacey. Remember, this is Spider-Boy, high school version of Parker. Mary Jane is just a glimmer in his eye in this part of the continuity. I'll take Stone. She's been good in everything so far. As disappointed as I am with Sony's decision to reboot, it's shaping up to be a strong one..


Most of the Science Fiction Vehicles in the known multiverse TO RELATIVE SCALE

PANDORA's BOX - Some of what I'm Listening to..

Showing some of my most recent Pandora Station Selections. If you want a serious 90's hip-hop "fire-and-forget" party mix, I always recommend "Black Sheep Radio"