Hip-hop top 100

I was asked on Quora to give a list of my favorite hip-hop songs, because what better source is there than a forty-year-old white dad? (I am literally a mountain climber who plays the electric guitar.) I did grow up in New York City in the 80s, and I do love the music. But ultimately, I’m a tourist in this culture. For a more definitive survey, ask Questlove or someone. These are just songs that I like.


Continue reading

One for the treble, two for the bass

I’ve been hearing this line in a lot of hip-hop songs: “One for the treble, two for the time” or “One for the treble, two for the bass” or some variation. I wanted to find out what everybody’s quoting. After some internet detective work, here’s what I’ve got.

The phrase is a play on the opening of Carl Perkins’ Blue Suede Shoes, as made famous by Elvis:

One for the money, two for the show
Three to get ready, now go, cat, go

For the hip-hop world, the main reference point seems to be Spoonie G’sSpoonin’ Rap” from 1979. Old school! Spoonie’s line is enigmatic in its meaning.

You say one for the treble, two for the time
Come on y’all, let’s rock the [whistle]

Continue reading

The Beatles were an electronica band

Update: hear my 5.1 surround remix of “Here Comes The Sun.”

Why are the Beatles still so cool? By which I mean the late Beatles, Revolver onwards. I like Please Please Me as much as the next guy, but it isn’t why the Beatles are cool now. No, I mean the last few records, especially Sgt Pepper, the White Album and Abbey Road. If any of these albums were released next week, Pitchfork would go ballistic over them. Three quarters of the indie rock of the past ten years descends directly from Abbey Road. Why do we all still care so much?

Continue reading

God don’t ever give me nothing I can’t handle, so please don’t ever give me records I can’t sample

The title is a lyric by Kanye West on Common’s track “They Say.” A hundred percent of my musical energy right now is coming from and going into sample-based music. To wit:

Records I Can’t Sample


Me vs Michael Jackson vs Herbie Hancock vs Missy Elliot vs Kanye West vs Fab Five Freddy

mp3 download, ipod format download

Synth strings played on video game controller MIDI.

Just about every music purchase I made in the past year was to get high-quality samples. I use my CD collection as a valuable hard-copy backup of a vast, well-recorded sample library. For just about any song except the major masterpieces, I’d much rather listen to the hook repeated endlessly over a hip-hop beat than the song itself. Reason and Recycle are only too happy to oblige me. Being able to effortlessly homebrew my own dance music has given me some insight into how good it must feel to make your own cheese or wine or shoes or sushi or computer programs.

Continue reading