With all the internet-melting hysteria over Justin’s return to music after a six-year hiatus, less publicized and less intentional was an Outkast sort-of reunion.
When recording Channel Orange, Frank Ocean intended Outkast to appear on his track “Pink Matter.” However, Outkast’s estrangement prevailed and only Andre 3000 appeared on the track… until now. With this remix, and Big Boi’s addition to it, we have the closest thing we’re going to get to a new Outkast track.
With the digitally driven democratization of music creation, what can we call an instrument these days? Who qualifies as a musician?
As it often is, the purist’s argument is tempting. It’s easy to clear one’s throat, gather the right gravitas of righteous indignation, and proclaim that instruments are what instruments have been: the presence of a demo version of Garage Band on your Mac doesn’t create music any more than does Guitar Hero.
As a music fanatic, I almost feel compelled to take a stand on this side of exclusivity. The respect I have for live musicians borders on reverence, and its rarity elevates the impact of this talent.
But here’s the thing: I have (almost) enough respect for what people can create through the re-mix. The ability to take create an entire song around a sample is the background of hip-hop music. With that fact, the turntable became an instrument. And the more recent technology that enables us to create music from a hyper-kinetic tableau of pop culture (think Girl Talk) has turned the laptop into an instrument. Yes, it has.
Now just because you know how to loop a beat doesn’t mean that you have musical talent. Trust me, I know this from experience. Aside from spectacularly futile short-term jaunts with the clarinet and the guitar, I’ve had no success whatsoever with traditional instruments. I guess that’s one of the reasons that I’ve been drawn to dj-ing: considering my creation as the selection and sequencing of music. Using ideas and juxtapositions and builds to create and bend moods and atmospheres. I’m still somewhat amateurish at it, but it’s quite fun and quite the creative challenge. Here’s an old mix that I hadn’t shared digitally prior to now. Enjoy this mix from 2003, I’d imagine for some of you it will be a nice bit of nostalgia and for others perhaps a bit of a musical discovery. If all goes well, you should be able to click here and download the zip file with the music. If that link doesn’t cooperate, try this one: http://www.mediafire.com/file/ujvy1tnzydo/Holiday%20Mix%202003.zip
And here’s the track list. Do hope you enjoy it, holler if there’s anything that you’re particularly liking. Am I a musician? Probably not. But an improving dj? Perhaps.
For the last few years now, the host of the best dance parties in the world has been a guy by the name of Greg Gillis. Known as Girl Talk, he’s blown up our understanding of what makes dance music great by taking all our collective musical memories and cuisinarting them into one crazy-nuts dance fiesta. The resulting experience sparks innumerable knowing smiles of recognition just as it compels you to wave your arms in the air like you just don’t care. Even though most mash-ups have a shelf life after which their novelty wanes, every one of Girl Talk’s *songs* still makes me want to dance on a moment’s notice.
My favorite Girl Talk story went down at the 2008 Lollapalooza, amidst a heat wave, a press of people, and an unexpected flurry of ice. Continue reading →
Day number three of The 30 Days of Music: a song that makes me happy.
It’s awfully strange that I would associate anything that makes me happy with the Dallas Fort Worth airport, but that’s precisely where I experienced the true happy-making power of this song. On my way back from a day in some Dallas office park, I walked by the TGI Friday’s that qualifies as the finest food option in DFW. There, in the “window seat” table that faced onto the concourse was a family of five– three kids ranging from 8 or so to 15, and their two parents. On first glance, they didn’t look like the happiest bunch of campers. But, then again, we were all in the TGI Friday’s in Dallas– joviality was in short supply all around.
But all this changed when, as walking into the restaurant, “Hey Ya” kicked into gear on the sound system. And then, immediately, it happened. All five family members, without apparent consultation or premeditation, broke out into full chair dances. Mother, father, son, daughter, younger daughter: each moved to bust it out right then and there without regard to… well, anything. It was awesome.
Some songs just have that effect. I can’t really explain it intellectually, as there are plenty of songs that have a structure or whatnot that would lead something like Pandora to bundle in with this gem. But there’s just something about a song like this that brings a smile to your face, a dance to your chair, and a wave of happiness that you just can’t quite explain.
So it’s that story, from the unlikeliest location, that provides the song that makes me happy. And, as we’ve probably all heard this song once or twice before, I’ll share a mash-up of it that combines the appeal of the original with “guest appearances” by Queen, Jay-Z, The Streets, and others. I hope you enjoy it.
By the way, daily blogging is hard! I’m slipping this one in under the deadline with only about an hour and twenty minutes to spare. But thanks for all the interest in yesterday’s post– see you tomorrow.
As we continue our on-again/off-again flirtation with warmth, I thought I would share a beginning of summer mix from back in the day. Listening to it for the first time in a while, I was reminded that it’s one of my favorites. Dire Straits-inflected remixes, a crazy Prince/Jet mash-up, Eleanor Rigby through a steel drum, Outkast meets Queen, Jay-Z and Punjabi MC, it goes on from there. It’s just plain fun. Continue reading →