Consider my faith in humanity restored when a track as tough as Lorde’s “Royals” makes popular-music airwaves. Read the rest of this entry »
God love Detroit. God just love it, shine His good Grace upon it, and let it be good. The Lord be with you and also with Detroit and all its people and all the things that make me, and longstanding fans of Detroit Hip-Hop Read the rest of this entry »
Frank Sobotka deserved more credit. First go-round with The Wire I spent untold hours ripping Frank, the docks, the unions, and Season 2 from belly to blue collar bone. He was the worst, they were the pits, Season 2 was the boring Black Sheep of the aptly superlative-laden Best Series Ever. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve got a special treat for you this evening.
Every now and again I lurk in the comment section of TSS and check out what people are talking about, even when I’m taking excessive, extended, unnecessary breaks from writing. And every now and again there is a conversation among those of us who are increasingly challenged in the youth department that sparks a comment from the younger sect along the lines of “Man, ya’ll sound old as hell talking about being in high school in the ’90s.” Read the rest of this entry »
‘Round about Halloween, several television stations will begin to run Star Wars movies ad nauseum clear through the end of the year — oh glory of glories, thanks be to TNT. Little X-Wing fighter pilots and young Anakin Skywalkers will knock on our doors in droves tomorrow night, because there’s something about All Hallows’ Eve that brings the kid and The Force out in all of us. Read the rest of this entry »
New Orleans may be the only city in the continental United States that I love more than Detroit, and if I lived any closer than a country-length away I would get married there. I’ve spent a grand total of three nights and four days within its watered borders, but its vibrant food, people, art and music have breathed lasting life into me and my relationship. And it’s where my significant other and I began to imagine and discuss what we wanted from and for our marriage. Read the rest of this entry »
“When I first met my SpottieOttieDopaliscious Angel, I can remember that damn thing like yesterday…”
Pages, dare I say volumes, of TSS have been devoted not just to Outkast, but to Aquemini as a stand-alone work. And no matter how many people claim it as their favorite album, it still feels personal to me. Read the rest of this entry »
The year was 2007 and every L.A. scene-ster girl with a scarf around her neck and sangria in her hand had a crush on Miguel. He was about a foot shorter than the lot of us, and just by eyeballing his weight versus any one of ours, we knew we could take him in a fight. Never you mind that he had a super hot girlfriend and couldn’t be bothered to care less about any other woman in the room. Miguel was still the sexiest woopdie-doo that side of the Mississip. Read the rest of this entry »
Hate is a strong word, and the brother of Love. Hate is Cain. Hate is the vengeful, rumble-vision demon within us that clouds our judgement and makes us weaker versions of ourselves. I don’t like using the word “hate,” and I avoid it whenever possible. I choose Love.
But let me say, unequivocally, I hate Creed. Read the rest of this entry »
At the far and dark end of Blue Valentine, a movie-goer will walk away with the vague sense that true love is never true, and a better pass time than courtship might be a clumsy walk along the lip of a cliff. Unplanned pregnancies, quasi-rape and mutual marital loathing abound. Suffice it to say… Worst. Date movie. Ever. Read the rest of this entry »
Round about the time I was a hipster-wipster slam poet, there was this open mic night that brought out a smattering of locals every Sunday, and the best among us was yet another elle-cee.
There was Rapper McRedHead, MC Baldilocks, Rusty Fizzle Televizzle, Ren and Ten, me, and then this woman; this MC who rocked the mic so hard the hairs on the back of your neck would spring forth whole ponytails of life. Read the rest of this entry »
Leaks happen when promo copies and advance releases are sent to those irresponsible few music journalists, bloggers and chronologists who use their power for evil. Or when an industry insider lets a big ego get the best of the product he’s holding. Or when a few confidants betray their artist friend. Or when a manager becomes disgruntled. Before you know it the distant drip, drip, drip of a faulty faucet rushes deep into the cavern of the ears of the masses, like some Niagara Falls of song. And it all starts with that one evil-doer and his or her promo and power, or so they say.
They. The proverbial They, that shadowy group of finger-pointing, holier-than-thou, stone-casting folks who bear no brunt of the responsibility for why albums like Bilal Oliver’s progressive Love For Sale are shelved indefinitely.
Well this is the week of Airtight’s Revenge. And we here at TSS held our advance of Bilal’s new album with unflappable stoicism and white knuckles, because this is a project you want to own and you need to pay for. As I found out from the man himself, projects this comprehensive come along after a lot of time, consideration and artistry. And for that, you must reward the laborer to enjoy his harvest.
Bilal Oliver has been a brawny, muscled force in music’s Homeland Security Department of Quality Over Quantity. Whether you first heard his smokey tone wisp over the horn and organ cover of Radiohead’s “High And Dry,” or hook on the inside of the door to Common’s classic “6th Sense,” or float lithely betwixt the roots of a career and man that grew from the line “Sometimes I hope I live to see 25,” you know Bilal.
Because we wouldn’t leave you, our faithful friends, in complete want of cost-free entertainment, here’s our 15-minute opportunity to get to know the man a bit better, and find out how an artist gets flood insurance against a leak in the age of the Internet.
TSS: So are you happy that you lived to see 25?
Bilal: (Laughs) Yeah. Yes, I’m very happy about that.
TSS: Well, what has happened in the past 10 years that you feel you’ve grown as a person or an artist that has brought you to this point that has brought you to Airtight’s Revenge?
Bilal: I mean a lot of shit has happened. I’ve done some awesome shows, I’ve done some cool collaborations with good people, and personally I’ve had some beautiful children and I’ve got a cool little family going now.
TSS: As an artist, what is it about Airtight’s Revenge that defines who you are now? Explain to me a little about the evolution of this album; how you came to the album name and how you created the music.
Bilal: The name Airtight’s Revenge was kind of addressing the last couple of years. One of the reasons why I hadn’t put out an album in the last nine years was because the album I was doing in 2006/2005 was bootlegged. It was the album I was doing for Interscope.
TSS: The Love For Sale album.
Bilal: Yeah. And I’m really addressing the fact of it being bootlegged, me leaving Interscope, and kind of being in the wind for a minute from all of that. A lot of people would have been done, you know what I mean, and just finished by now. But me? Some really cool things happened, like I got a really cool underground following who really love my music and love to come out and see me perform. So it kind of gave me new legs and a new drive for this thing to just make music and just follow my heart and my own intuition on things. Thing will work out. And no matter what has happened to me, I’ve used that to get better. So my resilience is just my continued drive for this thing. And “Airtight” is just an old nickname.
TSS: After all that happened with [Love For Sale,] it blew me away that you were going to release this song “Free,” for free. What made the decision to actually put something out and give it away, even though a whole album of yours was basically given away?
Bilal: Well, I couldn’t clear the sample, and I really liked the song, so I just put it out that way. The sample, they weren’t going to allow me to clear it, so I just put it out.
TSS: You don’t have any animosity toward the Internet at all?
Bilal: Nah. I know I should, but… it was messed up how it happened, but if it was never bootlegged no one would even know about it, because my label didn’t really understand Love For Sale. So it kind of turned into a bittersweet kind of thing for me, really. Like at first when it was bootlegged I felt like “Aw shit, like, this is bootlegged, everybody’s going to have it.” But what it really turned into was me doing like nonstop shows and touring. It was almost like I had an album out. So, I’m not mad.
TSS: That’s pretty big of you.
Bilal: [Laughing, does impression of LC] “I want you to be mad! I want you to be really mad!”
TSS: I’m not surprised, listening to your music, that you’re not angry. I guess if I were in your place, I’d be angry.
Bilal: It’s nobody for me to be angry at, so, fuck it.
Finesse of a low-budget video must be rooted in talent. A weighty skill set is the boiled-down, made-from-concentrate, rap extract a Hip-Hop video made in handheld night vision must begin with. It is as essential as Adam’s rib was to Eve. Read the rest of this entry »
Nothing like a little Hip-Hop philanthropy to go a long way.
“The backstory for “Yo Momma on Ya” is even crazier….the hook and the flow is originally created by a well-known homeless guy named Red, who was first recorded by the folks at the HVW8 Art Gallery in Los Angeles. Red was living in the alley behind their gallery. His performance became a YouTube favorite Read the rest of this entry »
“Have we come too far, to turn it all back around? Or is it too late, to start again?”
Mr. Oliver gave you your Free song, and now he’ll give you another in “Restart.” But folks, it’s time to start thinking about shelling out your dollars for this artisan of all things Soul.
Bilal gave us “Free” after coming off a progressive album called Love For Sale that was never really for sale because we, the keyboard elite, downloaded the crap out of it like diamond thieves in a turd-cave industry that may or may not have let the burglars in the back door. That he forgave enough to shake off ill will and give us yet another track for free, is beyond me. Here we get the first single from his forthcoming Airtight’s Revenge. This one is just as aptly titled, as he had to restart the process of album creation under the hope and prayer that this one wouldn’t be hijacked and shelved.
Thank God for release dates. September is coming up quickly, so be prepared to open your wallets for a man who deserves it and has worked doubly hard for his due diligence. Airtight’s Revenge is crazy.
Every lost angel’s favorite hipster hangout meets every DJ’s favorite DJ. The weekly anticipation of The Do-Over comes from the “who the hell is DJing this week?” because they keep that info under lock-and-key until the final moment when they call out Rhettmatic or Madlib or A-Trak. Or, in this case, Jazzy Jeff. Read the rest of this entry »
A gentleman and a scholar.
Senator Such’n'So wears quilted pants and matching bow ties, and he often greets people with the humor-tinged, “Hello, taxpayers. And fine Americans you are.” We are Americans who know humor is rooted in truth; we are, in fact, taxpayers. The label never feels condescending, because it’s truthful, and his quilted pants and tie are ballsy, respectable choices that don’t go without regard. Read the rest of this entry »