Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Free music and advertising: How Microsoft's Kin allowed me to see Big Boi for free

June 3, 2010

The other Sunday I got a wild email. It said in big bold letters “Jay Electronica + Big Boi + Yelawolf FREE show in ATLANTA: This is a secret show in ATL next THURSDAY!”.  Well, when I saw that I felt special, and was excited at the chance to finally see Big Boi, the shorter half of OutKast that has been aggressively working to uphold the OutKast name.

As the days passed I found the event on Facebook and that it was actually a marketing ploy by Microsoft, for the Kin; some new cell-phone that is being released. Of course, as an avid rap fan, I was going to have to check out their event with no intention of ever buying a Kin.

Well, it was a great marketing scheme. I waited with friends for an hour in the hot Georgia sun (it was still going strong at 7 p.m., and doors opened at 8) to guarantee my spot.  Walking into the auditorium, there was a humongous stage in the front with 3 open bars. Before the first act (Jay Electronica) went onstage, 9th wonder was spinning at a smaller booth. This was an incredible value.

Both opening acts put on 30-minute quickie shows, with Big Boi performing for about 40 minutes.  I had seen Yelawolf before at a smaller venue, so it was interesting to see the Alabama-bred rapper go all out for a much bigger crowd.

I was excited to see New Orleans native Jay Electronica perform, but he had the worst show of all. Jay Electronica never completed a whole song. Well, he did; but every time he did a song, he asked the DJ to cut the beat so he could “do it acapella” to allow the crowd to listen to the lyrics of his songs. While I appreciate quality wordsmiths, to do the same gimmick with every song and not allow records to play out was irritating.

When Big Boi finally got on stage, he ripped through the OutKast catalogue, up to his most recent tracks that are part of his album Sir Lucious Left Foot, dropping July 6th.

So in a free show with solid acts, what could be bad? Well, the acoustics of the place were bad. On top of that, the production of the concert was terrible. During Yelawolf’s set, the sub was at such a high frequency that my vision was getting fuzzy. I may have vomited if I had had a full stomach.  During Big Boi’s set, both the DJ and Big Boi were obviously irritated by the terrible mixing of the show.  I was grateful for the performers for putting on a great show.

However, with my ears pounding after leaving the auditorium due to crappy production, why would I trust the product that was being advertised? If Microsoft wants to woo people to buy the new Kin, then they have to step their game up in quality of events.

Owl Hours an imperfect affair

November 3, 2009

I have never heard of either Awol One or Factor before listening to their collaboration Owl Hours. Awol One, the MC, and Factor, a producer/dj, look like they have released a promising release with Xzibit backing Owl Hours as executive producer, and features from the likes of Xzibit and Aesop Rock. At spots the LP shines, but there are a lot of trouble spots.

The good about Owl Hours is Factors broad, eclectic production. The songs flow seamlessly together, but the variety of styles found when listening to Owl Hours is impressive. From the grungy boom-bap sound of “glamorous drunk” to the laid-back jazzy groove of “Darkness”, Owl Hours shows the scope of a competent producer.

With sound production, it seems that Owl Hours would be perfect, but it isn’t. This is due to Awol One’s rapping ability. Most of the time, Awol One sounds like a less adept Sage Francis.  With tracks such as “Brains Out” with Awol One rapping ” I’m being sick and tired of being stuck in the same route/ I got a date with myself and we be blowing my brains out”, the comparison is pretty solid.

Fortunately for the album, there are a few tracks with solid features that really shine, but unfortunately for Awol One everyone outdoes him.  The grungy synths along with Myka 9’s dungeon family-esque groovy chorous, and Aesop Rock’s complex excentric lyricism on “Stand Up” make it a great funky track.  “Waste The Wine” is an example of a solid party-rocker that, has Tash and E-Swift being the main features, with Awol One riding backseat lyrically. Both of these examples, make the listener forget that this is an effort by Awol One.  Owl Hours is recommended listening to hear Factor’s solid, unique production, and for the few excellent tracks with great features.  Awol One’s rapping, however, is ultimately forgettable.

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of instrumental music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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