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ISSUE 45
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ADER
ADER
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THE FADER MAGAZINE
APRIL 2007
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PANDA BEAR SEARCHES FOR GOODNESS•PRODIGY’S PAIN•BLACK LIPS’ MUSICAL MAYHEM GYPTIAN’S ONE DROP RASTA POP•SUNDAY STYLE AT SWAY•PORTRAITS FROM KABUL
THE FADER MAGAZINE
APRIL 2007
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45
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Bill Callahan in East Christchurch, New Zealand, photographed by Derek Henderson, February, 2007.
30 FADE IN
32 NWSPRNT Artists, authors, gadgets and gadflys
44 STYLE The most crucial looks
GEN/F
54 DG Yola
56 Dion
58 David Vandervelde
60 Munga Honorable
62 Turf Talk
64 Wild Beasts
66 Bunji Garlin
GREENPAGES
140 Vinyl Archeology Finger Waves
142 Mixtape: Musics
146 Jedi Mind Pix Favored tunes from favorite DJs
148 Beat Construction Van She Technologies
150 Dranks
152 Events
154 Stockists
156 Appendix
160 FADEOUT
Fader 45
April 2007
Contents
45
18 THE FADER
®
20 THE FADER
Fader 45
April 2007
Contents
45
FEATURES
72 Bill Callahan The Rising
80 Polow Da Don It Don’t Stop
88 Panda Bear The Love Movement
96 Gyptian One Drop Pop
102 Black Lips Res - Erection
108 Prodigy Hard Times
114 Portraits of Kabul Blink of an Eye
126 STYLE Sway
Polow Da Don and Rich Boy in Atlanta, GA, photographed by Matt Eich, February 2007.
FOUNDING PUBLISHERS
ROB STONE AND JON COHEN
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
ALEXANDRA WAGNER
CREATIVE DIRECTOR
PHIL BICKER
DEPUTY EDITOR
WILL WELCH
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ERIC DUCKER
SENIOR ASSOCIATE EDITOR
LINDSEY CALDWELL
ASSOCIATE EDITOR
NICK BARAT
ONLINE EDITOR
PETER MACIA
STYLE EDITOR
CHIOMA NNADI
CONTRIBUTING STYLE EDITOR
MOBOLAJI DAWODU
EDITORIAL PRODUCTION COORDINATOR
ALIYA BEST
PHOTOGRAPHY COORDINATOR
DOROTHY HONG
CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
EDWIN “STATS” HOUGHTON
INTERN
SAM HOCKLEY-SMITH
WRITERS
DANIEL ARNOLD, WILL CREELEY, RANJANI
GOPALARATHINAM, EVET JEAN, STEVE LOWENTHAL,
CAROLINE MCCLOSKEY, JAQUES MENASCHE,
LUCY MORIESON, KARIN NELSON, SAM RICHARDS,
CHRISTOPHER JAMES RICHTER, EVAN SHAMOON,
MARGARET WAPPLER
PHOTOGRAPHERS/ILLUSTRATORS/STYLISTS
DAVID WALTER BANKS, JUSTIN BORUCKI, JAMES
BRICKWOOD, TODD COLE, ALISON CHURCH, VENETIA
DEARDON, STEPHEN DUPONT, MATT EICH, LAUREN
FLEISHMAN, DEREK HENDERSON, KRISANNE JOHNSON,
CARL KIILLSGAARD, NIKOLAS KOENIG, ANDREW KUO,
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22 THE FADER
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ALSO AT FRED SEGAL FUN
KRISANNE JOHNSON
Photographer
Assignment:
“One Drop Pop,” page 96,
“Shots Fired,” page 64
What happened:
Krisanne Johnson shot not one
but two stories for this issue in
Kingston, Jamaica: Gyptian
and Munga Honorable. On
her first day of shooting,
Krisanne went along with
Gyptian to the spots he
frequents around town. “You
could immediately see his life
and the influence it has on his
music,” she says. After driving
into a more rural Kingston
that she may not have been
privy to as a tourist, Krisanne
managed to spend a full day
with the Honorable one—who
kept it casual. So casual, in
fact, that at the end of the
day Munga fell asleep in his
chair, mid-shoot. “He had
sunglasses on,” she says.
“But everybody was like, ‘He’s
out.’”
Where to see more work
www.krisannejohnson.com
DAVID BANKS
Photographer
Assignment:
“Res-Erection,” page 102
What happened:
The lensman for the Black Lips
feature, David got his chow
on in Atlanta, eating with the
band at Harold’s BBQ—a spot
conveniently located next
to a federal penitentiary. “I
think everyone was packing
heat,” David says. His goal
was to capture the band’s
“youthful exuberance,” so he
hung out with the boys in their
highway-worn tour van and
stuck around for their epic
poker games. Says Banks, “I
looked for the subtle moments
when they forget the camera
and just act how they are.”
Where to see more work
www.davidwalterbanks.com
24 THE FADER
DEREK HENDERSON
Photographer
Assignment:
“The Rising,” page 72
What happened:
Bill Callahan, formerly
known as Smog, is known
for being shy and somewhat
withdrawn, so Derek took
him out to Birdlings Flat,
a relatively isolated area
of East Christchurch, New
Zealand (which Callahan
was passing through on tour).
“I’d heard his music and I
liked his lyrics, so I wanted
to go somewhere destitute,”
says Derek. “He seems to write
about desolation.” And as if
on cue, Derek and Callahan
ran into a huge pitbull on
the Birdlings Flat beach. “We
all froze. It was a standoff. It
looked at us, and we looked
at it, and we were like, ‘Holy
shit!’ It was one of those
moments.” Despite this, Derek
had no trouble with the snaps.
“He’s talented,” Derek says of
Callahan. “The soulfulness
comes out in the pictures.”
Where to see more work
www.mapltd.com, The Terrible
Boredomof Paradise and the
forthcoming Waikato River.
CAROLINE MCCLOSKEY
Writer
Assignment:
“Res-Erection,” page 102
What happened:
This issue, FADER fave and
Brooklyn resident Caroline
McCloskey got the heat on
ATL’s raucous sons, Black
Lips. After touching down in
Atlanta, she accompanied
the band to a Yo La Tengo
showand then to a bar on the
edge of town called Southern
Comfort, where the Lips were
recognized by everyone
from the band on stage to an
old high school teacher. The
infamously wild group was
very affable and subdued
throughout. “They were sweet
as hell,” Caroline confirms.
Where to see more work
Time Out NY
Fader 45
April 2007
Contributors
©
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STATS’S MENTOR
What’s up FADER...jus finished read the
whole mag...i must give u guys props...am
amzed howwel u all familiar with the whats
happening within the whole caribbean
musice scene...you all really digging the
vibe i guess...writing better than those kats at
those urban mags (wont call no names)!! lol
goodwork
Daniel Lyons
GOOD EYES, BUT YOU MISSED THE USED
BAND-AID AND THE RAT POO
Hey FADER staff,
I really enjoyed your Light Bright
collaborators spread and hope that you guys
do something like that in the future. One thing
I noticed though, on the Becky Stark and
Devendra Banhart page there seems to be a
hair caught in the Devendra lightbright!
Maybe his beard is just getting out of control.
I love the magazine!
Ty
OOPS!
In our DC hip-hop story [Issue #44, “New Slang”], the
photos of Wale were shot in Riggs County, MD, not Bowie,
MD. Our bad.
26 THE FADER
Wyle out with us on The Let Out—two hours of remixes, exclusives and the newest/oldest hot shit spun live by the FADER editors. Every
Friday from 6-8pm, East Coast time (motherbitches) on www.eastvillageradio.com, IM “EastVillageRadio” to get at us in the studio, boyo.
Fader 45
April 2007
Letters
INSTANT VINTAGE
Were the fashion spreads in issue #44 vintage
photographs? I couldn’t tell if the photos
from the “On the Corner” story were recent
pictures or archival Indian images. Please
let me know as I would very much like to
purchase the silver sandals worn by the
gentleman on pg 164, and I’mhoping they are
not rare ’70s finds.
Best,
Crispin Willows
Crispin: All the images in the “On The
Corner” were made by photographer Andrew
Dosunmu in 2006, which kind of makes them
vintage. The sandals are from Dior Homme.
We care about you. Ride safely, respectfully and within the limits of the law and your abilities. Always wear an approved helmet, proper eyewear and protective clothing, and insist your passenger does too. Never ride while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Know your Harley® motorcycle and read and understand your owner’s manual from cover to cover. © 2007 H-D. Harley, Harley-Davidson, and the Bar & Shield logo are among the trademarks of H-D Michigan, Inc.
Live by it.
Fists forward and boot heels to the wind. Exposed metal slathered
with chrome. Fat rubber steamrolling an endless slab of highway.
A V-Twin motor feeding your ears. Any questions? Didn’t think so.
www.harley-davidson.com.
THE FADER 29
ometimes like little tiny gold coins or drizzle, good music falls from the sky
and into our laps. We were all having a sort of humdrum early
’07, plaintively listening to Konvicted b-sides and, like, “12:51,”
when the sky turned grey and a whole gripload of really good
music started raining from the heavens. We’re not saying we
weren’t all jazzhands and smiles, collecting the tunes in buckets,
but it was overwhelming. Which brings me to the subject matter
of Issue 45: The Just Another Issue Filled with Amazing Jams, No
Big Deal Issue. Legions of heartbreakers and the heartbroken
have been following Smog genius Bill Callahan as he’s woven
his spell of song over the last 20 years. We were curious to see
what would happen when we put the man’s new album, Woke
on a Whaleheart, on ye olde hi fi and it was weird because all
of us started holding hands immediately, searching for grace in
the unseen. Actually. Obviously, we put him on the cover.
For the last couple months we’d been alternately throwing
some D’s and throwing some cheese, listening to Mobile’s young
gun rapper Rich Boy and his cache of remixes when it dawned
on us that it was time to shine the light on his (and several other
artists’) Not So Secret Weapon: producer Polow Da Don. Polow’s
been crafting heatrocks for everyone from Fergie to Ludacris
to the Pussycat Dolls to (gasp!) R Kells himself and we’re pretty
damn near convinced that he’ll be a household name ohhhh,
sometime around yesterday—which is [cough] why you’ll also
find him gracing our back cover. And in the frenzy that resulted
from this monsoon season of new music, we also dipped into the
maniacal rock frenzy that is ATL’s Black Lips, the one-drop rastafari
thesis of Jamaica’s Gyptian (serious times!), Animal Collective’s
Panda Bear and his new set of blissed-out good vibes and the
growling, vicious return of Mobb Deep’s Prodigy. Folks, when I
say it’s raining I mean It. Is. Coming. Down. Out. There. Bring an
umbrella, pull on the galoshes, put the cat indoors. What’s an April
shower when you’ve got us?
ALEX WAGNER
On the covers:
Bill Callahan photographed
by Derek Henderson.
Polow Da Don,
photographed by Amanda
Marsalis.
Fader 45
April 2007
Editor’s Letter
S
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PHOTOGRAPHY DOROTHY HONG
32 THE FADER
NWS
PRNT
• Adult Swim and Stones
Throw’s Chrome Children
compilation was already
partially conceived by the
time Dan Garcia was swept
up into the mix. Adult Swim
was a client of Garcia’s
production company Super-
Fi and this was his first stab
at music video direction. He
was able to choose one of
the three songs and decided
to direct a tribute to J Dilla.
The result was a video for
“Nothing Like This,” a story
about love and loss that
leaves you feeling sad and
unsettled. Garcia explains,
“Things don’t work out in
the end, but that’s kind of
how life is.” Together with
his selected crews, Garcia
put together three distinct
videos: Madlib’s “Take it
Back,” J Dilla’s “Nothing
Like This” and Madvillain’s
“Monkey Suite” within a
one month deadline. Good
to know we’re not the
only ones who can make
miracles under pressure.
LINDSEY CALDWELL
www.danielgarcia.tv
• For the last two years,
Dutch photographer
Hellen van Meene has
been traipsing all over
the world finding insane,
beautiful, pathos-inducing
kids from St Petersburg
to Morocco. Van Meene’s
eerie, ethereal portraits
of these young ones were
recently exhibited at NYC’s
Yancey Richardson gallery,
and the folks at Schirmer/
Mosel Publishing have
thoughtfully printed up a
book for those who missed
it. Meaning people all over
the world can take these
strange little creatures
home for themselves. And
they won’t even have to pay
a babysitter! ALEX WAGNER
www.hellenvanmeene.com
• In his video for “The
Great Salt Lake” by Band
of Horses, director Whitey
McConnaughy captured
the sunny side of slack by
filming one of the group’s
weekly softball games.
The result is pure ragged,
beery glory. Portland-based
McConnaughy has made the
wild out fun happening in
the Northwest his specialty,
whether that means the
Thermals getting spazzy for
“A Pillar of Salt” or Panther
doing the James Brown in
“You Don’t Want Yr Nails
Done.” When asked if there
is a recurring theme in his
work, the former skate video
director replies, “I almost
always lose money on them,
is that a theme?” ERIC DUCKER
www.whiteyfilms.com
• There’s always been
something kind of iffy about
the Kings of Leon: between
the strange names in the
songwriting credits, the
mansions-n-models Terry
Richardson spreads, the
perfect rock & roll back
story (traveling preacher’s
sons are TALENTED and
RURAL and also HOT?!?)…
it feels like they sprung
forth, fully formed, fromthe
mind of an A&R in LA. That
said, THE JAMS WON’T
QUIT. On the Followills’
newalbum, Caleb leans on
tidy imagery like She looks
so cool in her new Camaro/
It’s black as coal and it
go, boy it go go go and
lets the huge instrumental
arrangements tell the rest of
the story. The band is three
albums in, and questions
about cred seem silly in the
face of all the great songs.
WILL WELCH
P
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. ©
H
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34 THE FADER
cultists who had previously
known themthrough urban
legends and dubs from
Japanese laser-disc. And the
legends all turn out to be
true: Fando & Lis sparked
a riot at its 1968 premiere,
Holy Mountain (bankrolled
by John & Yoko) is the
most expensive film ever
produced in Mexico, and an
adaption of Dune starring
Mick Jagger, Orson Welles
and Salvador Dali—with a
• In 1970, John Lennon and
Yoko Ono introduced El
Topo, Alejandro Jodorowsky’s
shamanistic mindfuck of a
Western at the Elgin theater
in London, but it wasn’t
until 2006 that Jodorowsky
and Lennon’s notorious
biz manager Allen B Klein
finally agreed to release the
work on DVD. A newbox set
makes his first three films,
Fando & Lis, El Topo and
Holy Mountain, available to
score by Pink Floyd—was
never finished. Suffice to
say, as Jodorowsky did, the
films “ask of cinema what
most North Americans ask of
psychedelic drugs.”
EDWIN “STATS” HOUGHTON
MAGICAL HISTORY TOUR ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY FINALLY SEES THE LIGHT OF DVD
image to come
NWS
PRNT
36 THE FADER
ANIMAL KINGDOM BASTARD CHILDREN OF THE DRUMMING MUPPET
IMAGE ANDREW KUO
NWS
PRNT
• In his work with the
musicians of new young
Britain, director Nima
Nourizadeh has been able
to effortlessly capture the
personas of champs like
Lily Allen, Lady Sovereign
and Jamie T without coming
off as a flagrant image
pusher. However it’s his
work with humor and Hot
Chip that is the bestest of
his best. The clip for “Over
and Over” parodies special
effects-reliant videos,
presenting Hot Chip as
willing participants in the
technological nonsense and
perfectly distilling the band
to what they are—awesome
and absurd. ERIC DUCKER
www.partizan.com
38 THE FADER
• Products of a migration that began with Jamaicans doing
construction on the Canal, black Panamanians like Nando
Boom, El General and La Atrevida drew the blueprint for
reggaeton back in the early ’90s, but never made much
noise outside the Nuyorican market. El General exhibited
the greatest longevity, incorporating merengue and
“raperos” into later hits, and a 2002 collabo with Vico C—the
Johnny Appleseed of Puerto Rican reggaeton—cemented
his missing link status. But serial name-checking from
artists like Daddy Yankee and Tego Calderon has driven
new demand for this first wave, elevating their status from
dollar-bin novelty to collector’s item. What’ll you give us for
our original Pocho Pan & Bacan “Bo Bo” 12-inch?
EDWIN “STATS” HOUGHTON
• Paris, Je T’aime collects
eighteen short films by an
impressive international
roster of directors and
actors, and as the title
suggests, each is about a
different neighborhood in
Paris and each is about
a different aspect of love.
Sure it’s a ball to watch
Ben Gazzara and Gena
Rowlands reunite, Maggie
Gyllenhaal get stoned
and the Coen Brothers go
weird in the Metro with
Steve Buscemi, but there
is a simple, romantic joy to
director Gurinder Chada’s
segment. The story is
• When Ghostface Killah
shouted out Anthony
Acid in his verse for Mark
Ronson’s “Ooh Wee” back
in 2003, it seemed like
just another unexpected
reference pulled from
Ghost’s deep mind pocket.
Then the Staten Island
house DJ remixed the Staten
Island MC’s raunchy club
jam “Tush” in 2004, and
liner notes reveal that
Acid recorded and mixed
almost all of Ghostface’s
Fishscale, More Fish and
the Theodore Unit’s 718,
as well as producing his
recent “Greedy Bitches.”
It turns out the two met
back in 2001 and after
moving back to Shaolin
from Miami, Ghost chose
Acid’s Reddline Studios
as his new homebase.
Though Anthony Acid is
most known for music to
listen to when crossing the
Verrazano Bridge, his hip-
hop roots include work with
Mercury of the Force MDs
and fellow genre-straddler
DJ Skribble. “In today’s hip-
hop or R&B you find a lot of
producers borrowing from
house music,” Acid reasons.
“‘SexyBack’ is a four on
the floor house track, TI
sampled ‘Gypsy Woman’
and all the South records
have those techno house
keys in them, they’re just
slower in tempo.” ERIC DUCKER
www.myspace.com/33853927
NWS
PRNT
simple: feminine featured
teen boy sees striking teen
Muslim girl by the water,
girl trips, boy helps girl up,
boy and girl talk, girl goes
to the mosque, boy waits for
girl, girl leaves mosque with
grandfather, all three walk
away together…swoon.
ERIC DUCKER
www.firstlookstudios.com
• Hold onto your pants
friends and fiends! For the
second edition of the FADER/
Southern Comfort limited
edition 7-inch we hollered at
our folks in Kingston, JA and
put together a likkle slab of
vinyl that is jampacked with
dancehall finery. Issue 42
cover star Mavado is on the
a-side over a riddimby Issue
43 Beat Construction-featured
producers Daseca while
the b-side is a new tune by
Mavado’s Issue 39-featured
homie Busy Signal over one
of the biggest riddims of ’07
(so far), created by Issue 43-
featured clash titans Black
Chiney Soundsystem, plus
there’s kitty cat cover visuals
by London-based artist Jack
Duplock. Got it? Didn’t think
so! You really, really have to
hear it to understand.
WILL WELCH
www.thefader.com
FREDPERRY.COM/SUBCULTURE
40 THE FADER 40 THE FADER
SLU releases have ranged
fromthe punk cabaret thump
of Dandi Wind to Vancouver
DJ Paul Devro’s baile funk
Toma mixtape series, and the
discs act as both a needed
chronicle of a right now
Canadian underground
and a testament to Kuo and
label partner Patrik North’s
obsessive love for new, weird
pop—and we’d be saying
that even if we didn’t spy Kuo
helping label pals Crystal
•“It’s very important to us not
to be seen as yet another
‘Canadian Girlfriend,’
appreciated with a constant
tinge of ironic coddling,” says
Summer Lovers Unlimited
founder Douglas Ko of the
ideals behind his Montreal-
based record label, founded
three years ago as an
antidote to the “safe, granola,
guitar-based indie” many
had come to associate with
the country’s musical exports.
Castles plug in keyboards
at a FADER showlast fall,
only to spend the whole set
dancing like a maniac next
to the stage. NICK BARAT
www.myspace.com/
summerloversunlimited
ANTIPOP GET SMITTEN WITH SUMMER LOVERS UNLIMITED
NWS
PRNT
©
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Temptation Has
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I R R E S I S T I B L E
Enjoy Heineken Light Responsibly.
heinekenlight.com
42 THE FADER
CLEANING UP THE LYRICS OF BRIGHT EYES
breakdowns—that it’s almost
kind of embarrassing for us
listeners: our emotions are
toys in his hands! Rather
than re-inventing the wheel,
Oberst has perfected it,
breathing new life into the
top secret codes for the
Great American Song with
lyrics that are honest but not
necessarily direct; angry but
not lacking in nuance; strong
but in tune with shyness
and fragility. His newalbum
Casadaga stole our hearts,
thanks in part to a shaky,
circular burner about drugs,
rebirth and renewal called,
appropriately, “Cleanse
Song.” WILL WELCH
• Recently it struck us that
Conor Oberst is so good
with a song—with familiar
instrumentation, riffs and
tropes; with bridges, pre-
choruses and verses; with
words and turnarounds and
NWS
PRNT
Take the fruit from the
tree, break the skin with
your teeth
Is it bitter or
sweet? All depends on
your timing
Like a meeting of chance with a train station glance
Many lifetimes had past in an instant reminded
Of a millstone house in a seaside town
When your heart gave out in a mission bed
So your wife gave birth
to a funeral dirge
As you
woke up purged as a
wailing infant
In Krung Thep, Thailand
CLOTHES AND SHOES FOR GUYS AND GIRLS
©
2
0
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STYLE
44 THE FADER
• Nestled in an unlikely
clearing of light amongst a
warren of downtown New
York streets, Project No 8 is
a modern shop of earthly
wonder. Housing designers
like Bless and Boudicca,
founding designer Elizabeth
Beer and art director Brian
Janusiak have also made
the space a place for their
favorite artists to tinker with
new ideas—like Danielle
Aubert’s oddly arresting
Microsoft Excel drawings. “I
guess the project is a way to
curate a world around us,”
says Beer. Powered using
ambient energy (heated
flooring = the future!), the
Project No 8 universe is
100%energy efficient, minus
any dubious eco-store
trimmings. CHIOMA NNADI
www.projectno8.com
• “Referential” might
detract from the quiet
beauty of the artist Paul
P’s renditions of the faces
and figures of young
men, all of which were
sourced frompre-AIDS gay
magazines. Published by
recently minted mavens
powerHouse Books, Paul’s
monograph, Nonchaloir,
includes over 2,000 reprints
of his paintings: lovely,
shaggy profiles, looks of
disbelief, indifference,
angst and ecstasy. Paul
utilizes the vocabulary of
late 19th Century art, but
even through some of the
pointilistic haze, we glimpse
the immediacy of his
subjects—and the palpable
longing and confusion
surely has a soundtrack to
match. See Paul’s work in
the MoMA collection, or if
you’re abroad, check his
collaboration with Hedi
Slimane for last spring’s
Dior Homme campaign.
RANJANI GOPALARATHINAM
www.powerhousebooks.com
• These days, the simple
idea that a handbag should
get better with age has
been lost in a sea of trendy
diamante-studded hobos
whose width happens to
be directly proportional to
the size of their wearer’s
checking account. Snooze.
Endymion, a line of bags
designed by former fashion
writer Kerry Johnston and
her stylist friend Arianne
Tunney, is an attempt to
counterbalance a little of
that “it” bag mouth-frothing.
The collection has six lovely
shapes at its core, all of
which are accented with
subtle nautical hardware—
and we think they’ll age
quite nicely. CHIOMA NNADI
www.endymionleather.com
• Japanese fashion designer
(and Comme des Garçons’
second-in-command) Junya
Watanabe is a man of few
words, preferring to make
his bold statements—
tailored leisure-suits in
burgundy and cobalt
stripes!—on the runway.
Clearly, Watanabe has
never encountered a color,
nor pattern, he didn’t like.
For his latest project, he’s
teamed up with Converse
on six limited-edition
low-top Chuck Taylors,
each more dazzling and
deafening than the next.
Folks, nothing screams
I’ve got my fashion freak
on like a pair of multicolor
madras kicks. KARIN NELSON
www.converse.com
• As we get older we
start to think about fancy
home goods because our
grandparents check in on
us to see if we’ve prepared
for marriage, life, and
so on. To get answers for
them we went on a search
for food containers that
work with our city life and
style. Lorena Barrezueta’s
Gourmet Collection is
right in the middle of fancy
bone china and aluminum
delivery table wear. Either
in bright colors or classic
white with 22k gold edges,
you “apprecate the details
in the things that you don’t
usually appreciate,” says
Barrezueta. This is my china
pattern, grandma!
LINDSEY CALDWELL
www.lorenabarrezueta.com
46 THE FADER 46 THE FADER
dress. By taking the edge off
the industry’s earnestness,
the Delhi-based designer
reminds us that fashion
is as much fantasy as it is
function. CHIOMA NNADI
www.manisharora.com
happy, and sometimes
even laugh,” says Arora,
whose influences are rooted
in the film industry of his
hometown, Bombay. Aside
from Arora’s joyful use of
color, there’s a playful sense
of humor that underpins his
work, from the silhouettes
of droopy-eared dogs
that sit panting under hot
pink chiffon to the layered
sequined feathers on a
rainbow-colored toucan
• When Manish Arora
showed his spring collection
last year in London’s
Natural History museum,
it was as if the fossilized
creatures and botanical
exhibitions had come to
life. Some models sported
pink and amber butterflies
for lips, while others
sprouted huge flowers from
their heads in thick pastel
bunches. “Wearing clothes
should make a person feel
WILD LIFE MANISH ARORA WEARS FANTASY ON HIS SLEEVE
STYLE
PHOTOGRAPHY DOROTHY HONG
46 THE FADER
S
T
Y
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IN
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C
H
IO
M
A
N
N
A
D
I. M
O
D
E
L
M
A
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G
IE
L
E
E
.
Los Angeles Miami New York San Francisco Georgetown Santa Monica
South Coast Plaza Dallas Ala Moana Stanford Topanga Houston Montreal
Toronto Opening Fall 2007 - Las Vegas Atlanta energie.it
48 THE FADER 48 THE FADER
least, with the use of peace
symbols, doves and so on.
S: Misha is really against
politics and I’mnot interested
in it either, but I think it’s
important that people have
that sense of freedom.
Sometimes, having to wear
your bike helmet or having
to put your seat belt on,
there’s always someone
telling you what to do and
you forget that you can
just say no and be free
and individual. So there is
[Shauna gives the finger]–a
lot of that in our work.
M: But it’s a friendly fuck you.
When you think
about collaborating
internationally do you think
about yourselves as an
Australian brand?
that I can make things fromit.
What do you mean when
you say that food plays a
big part in what you do?
M: I think everything comes
down to sharing, and food
allows you to share. That’s
why we make so many
things, and I guess we have
to sell some stuff because
we’ve gotta keep a business
to be able to make things, but
also making the free things
like the CDs or the little zines
or whatever. It’s just the idea
of sharing, that’s really what
drives us.
What about politics?
M: I hate it.
Lots of your work seems to
drawon it—aesthetically at
A
ustralian
duo Perks
and Mini
(government
names: Misha
and Shauna),
have been working together
as PAMfor around six years
now, producing their ever-
radical fashion line, working
on international installations,
making music, mixtapes
and their book series and
zines. When we caught up
with them amid sawdust
and paint fumes, they were
putting the finishing touches
on their newly-expanded
Melbourne store, Someday,
and helping visiting homies
Diplo, Spank Rock, Justice
and Busy P rifle through
their latest collection.
You both seem heavily
involved with music and
your record collection is
legendary. Howdoes music
play a role in what you do?
M: Music and art—visual
information—and food,
even things like incense, are
really important to us, they’re
all very sensual. It’s part
of basic human existence.
Getting inspired by visuals
and making visuals is a
bit dangerous, but music
provides you with something
really abstract, and for me,
it’s nice to take it in a way
SYNCHRONICITY PAM MAKES ART AND FASHION IN TANDEM
STYLE
M: Not at all. Everyone is just
a human.
S: But I appreciate where I’m
fromand I feel like because
we are Australian, there’s
this freedom, which you
don’t have when you come
froma country that has a lot
of history. Like when we
first started—just to walk into
Colette and sell our T-shirts—
a lot of people wouldn’t have
the gall to do it. But it wasn’t
that we had gall, it was, “Isn’t
that what you do if you want
to sell T-shirts in a shop, you
go in and ask them?” That
sort of innocence is really
Australian.
What can we expect from
PAM in the future? We’ve
heard you plan to start a
free newspaper?
M: Well it’s not really a
newspaper, it’s more like a
giant zine in the form of a
newspaper. It’s called the
Free Independent Times. It
will be free, independent,
and it’s of the time.
Who’ve you got writing for it?
M: Ari Marcopoulos,
Thurston Moore and Nieves.
So many people.
S: You have to make the time
we live in interesting. And it’s
kind of up to you to make it so.
EVET JEAN AND LUCY MORIESON
www.perksandmini.com
Misha and
Shauna of PAM
at their studio
in Melbourne.
“IT’S JUST
THE IDEA OF
SHARING,
THAT’S
REALLY WHAT
DRIVES US.”
PHOTOGRAPHY ALISON CHURCH
50 THE FADER
lacey veils and twinkling
oversized gems for the ladies.
Bad hair days might not be
such a disaster, after all.
CHIOMA NNADI
www.coranyc.com
her newline, Cora. A snug
fitting felt number boosts
off-kilter swagger with a
left-leaning bulbous crown.
Another—black with sleek
leather trimmings—gets
a three-tiered silhouette
recalling the contours of a
Chinese battleship. Then
there are the amazing
hidden extras—optional zip-
on linen drapes to protect
your neck (think latter day
Lawrence of Arabia),
• Citing London’s Buffalo
movement of the late ’80s
as one of her inspirations,
designer Nashay Morris
takes the building blocks
of hat design and turns
them on their head with
HEAD START CORA GETS AT THE CORE
STYLE
PHOTOGRAPHY DOROTHY HONG
S
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songs
pictures
playlists
share wir
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54 THE FADER
Y
ola Da Great is only 19, but goddamn
if dude’s mind isn’t much older. Ask
him about it. Age? “That ain’t even an
issue. I’m a fuckin real nigga,” proclaims
the valedictorian of Atlanta’s Class of ’07.
Yola talks like he raps, which means every
syllable carries weight; each deeply-
drawled word pushes as much Georgia air
aside as possible. “Atlanta’s gutta, man,” he
says slowly, as an introduction to where’s he
been for the past 19 years. “That’s what I’m
bringing to the table.”
Turning to the block after a rough
childhood on Atlanta’s West Side, Yola got
his name in the trap. “Used to be movin
and workin on the block,” he explains. “Try
to go by my re-up name, but I put a lil twist
on it, a lil edge—so I got DG, Yola Da Great,
yessur!” Nowthe man is known variously to
fans in Atlanta and beyond as DGYola, Yola
DG, or even occasionally Lil Yola. But the
“Lil” is a hand-me-down—it no longer fits
right. Not after the way Yola’s stomped out
cuts on mixtapes over the past year and a
half—including his own, Really Really In the
Streets. And not after the way he’s knocked
out shows all through his resurgent South,
from North Carolina to deep Florida. And
especially not now, not when the release
of Gutta World, his major label debut on
Atlantic, beckons. “I been really killing the
South,” he casually volunteers.
Since Yola’s anthemic hit “Ain’t Gon
Let Up” first broke in the infamous Atlanta
nightspot the Poole Palace, his grind has
been furious. Backed by ATL players like
DJ T-Rock, Yola’s aggressive “gutta music”
quickly found an audience among locals
tired of what Yola calls “the bullshit side” of
Atlanta’s musical export. More fight music
than ATL-style rollerskate bubblegum, Yola’s
trademark call from “Don’t Make Us,” his
collabo with DJ Unk, says it best: You say
motherfuck me? I say motherfuck YOU! “You
can dance off it if you want to, but you won’t
catch me dancing,” explains Yola, happy
to be asked. “I don’t do all that snappy-
snap shit.”
As the interviewcontinues, one can’t help
but notice the insistent chirps of the little
kids in the room with Yola: they’re cheerful,
loud, squawking. And though Yola’s verses
sparkle with a certain wibble-wobble,
breakfast cereal sugar high enery—Nooo,
I ain’t gon shut up!!—he’s nothing if not
focused. So when his grown man voice is
juxtaposed with the children’s shrieks
piercing the air, the contrast illustrates just
how old young Yola already is. Collected,
poised, DGYola has the distinct air of a man
who’s already seen more than most: “I’m
19, dog,” he says. “But mind state of a 50-
year-old!” WILL CREELEY
PHOTOGRAPHY BRYAN MELTZ
Yola and a youngun
in Atlanta’s West End
neighborhood.
GROWN UP
QUICK
DG YOLA
STAYS AHEAD
OF HIMSELF
“YOU CAN
DANCE OFF IT
IF YOU WANT
TO, BUT YOU
WON’T CATCH
ME DANCING.”
GENF
THE FADER 55
56 THE FADER 56 THE FADER
F
or Cincinatti-based singer Dion, the grand
prize of the 2003 Midwest Talent Search
turned out to be way more than a modest demo
deal. The DJ and producer Hi-Tek was on the
panel of judges that surveyed the field of 300 or
so participants, and Dion’s medley of original,
self-penned songs made him the winner,
leaving the rest of the contestants to make a
beeline home to filmaudition tapes for Making
the Band. Hi-Tek, meanwhile, scooped Dion
up to sing for Hi-Tek Productions, starting with
a track on the 213 album called “Twist Your
Body.” In the years that followed, Dion went
on to sing on tracks by big timers like 50 Cent,
the Game, Talib Kweli and on Hi-Tek’s latest
Hi-Teknology, Vol. 2: The Chip. Dion also signed
to Dr Dre’s label Aftermath Entertainment, but
was only granted one visit to the Interscope
offices to sing for the execs, and was dropped
when they didn’t hear a single. Dion reflects on
the moment saying, “You know you win some,
you lose some. I was really looking forward
to it. That kind of set me back, like, ‘Damn, I
wanted to be on Aftermath.’”
Dion is currently in Cincinnati and in the
studio with Hi-Tek, pulling together songs for
his first album—which will also include tracks
fromRaphael Saadiq and Aftermath producer
Focus—and shopping for a record deal.
Despite his misfortune with Interscope, he’s
stuck with the same mix of Smokey Robinson
falsetto and Marvin
Gaye sweetness that he sang with all along.
And on “Let it Go” he sings Steppin out on
faith, ready for whatever/ It’s written so can’t
worry bout what’s next/ ’Cause you never know.
He lists the likes of Shirley Caesar, Donnie
Hathaway and Miles Davis as influences—and
even though he’s capable of giving 50 or
Game a thugged out hook—he’s completely
unapologetic for having a straight ahead,
for-the-ladies sensibility with his own music.
“I’man R&B singer,” he says. “You know what
I mean? No fake gangster love, not this way. I
write frommy soul.” LINDSEY CALDWELL
THE TALENT
SHOW
DION MAKES
THE BEST
OF THE
AFTERMATH
“THAT KIND
OF SET ME
BACK, LIKE,
‘DAMN, I
WANTED
TO BE ON
AFTERMATH.’”
Dion listening to
Marvin Gaye’s Trouble
Man at home in
Cincinnati, Ohio.
PHOTOGRAPHY MATT EICH
GENF
58 THE FADER 58 THE FADER
O
n David Vandervelde’s debut album
The Moonstation House Band, there’s a
liner note that reads, “Thanks to Jay Bennett
for inviting me into his special playhouse for
the two years of making this record.” That
playhouse is Chicago’s Pieholden Studios,
where the then-19-year-old Vandervelde lived
for two years, sleeping on a mattress in the
control room, crafting a dazzling set of songs
that harken back to rock & roll’s glam& glory
days. The self-proclaimed “studio hermit”
emerged from the studio that helped birth
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot to spend four months
crashing out on couches—and recruiting
friends to help him send out CD-Rs with his
email address. One of them landed in the
hands of Chris Swanson at Secretly
Canadian, who wanted to see the band live.
“I was pretty much just like, ‘Yeah, I’ve got a
band,’” Vandervelde says. “We had a party
in our house and there were a few people
hanging out. And I was just like, ‘This label is
interested in my band, do you want to learn
a fewtunes and go down to Bloomington and
play this show?’” Halfway through his first tour
opening for Bobby Bare Jr, members of Bare’s
band were backing Vandervelde to close out
the last two songs of his performance, playing
“Murder in Michigan” and a cover of the
Stones’ “Cocksucker Blues.”
It’s fitting that Vandervelde would carry
“Cocksucker Blues” around with him—he’s a
pupil of rock & roll’s most notorious innovators,
admittedly weaned on his father’s vinyl copies
of the BeeGees and the Left Banke—but his
songs still live in the present. While
Moonstation House Band at times channels
Bowie and Bolan in its sexed-up vamp
and pixiedust passages, the songs remain
postmodern in attitude and lyric. Vandervelde
chides cruel anti-heroines and plasters his
hooks over double entendre: he snarls, Didn’t
someone tell you it’s raining/ Cause you forgot
your jacket on the second floor. It might be a
rhetorical question about emotional pain or
STDs—then again, Vandervelde has said it’s
“an actual situation about my first girlfriend
and her rebellious high school years. She was
so hot and never listened to her mom.” It’s
obviously a little less direct than “Cocksucker
Blues,” but by now, Vandervelde is an old pro
at gussying up a story with equal parts scuzz
and glitter. CHRISTOPHER JAMES RICHTER
MELLOW GOLD
DAVID
VANDERVELDE
JAMZ GEMS
“I WAS JUST
LIKE, ‘THIS
LABEL IS
INTERESTED IN
MY BAND, DO
YOU WANT
TO LEARN A
FEW TUNES
AND GO PLAY
THIS SHOW?’”
David Vandervelde at
the Kitty Moon Bar in
Chicago, IL.
PHOTOGRAPHY CARL KIILSGAARD
GENF
myspace.com/josstone
jossstone.com
virginrecords.com
The new album
featuring
“Tell Me ‘Bout It” &
“Tell Me What We’re Gonna Do Now”
feat. Common
Common appears courtesy of Geffen Records
© 2007 Virgin Records America, Inc. and Joss Limited. All rights reserved.
60 THE FADER
SHOTS FIRED
MUNGA
HONORABLE
STRINGS HIS
BOW
GENF
60 THE FADER
M
unga Honorable is the answer. The
question, for selectors and dancehall
professionals, is “Who are you checking for right
now?” For chat-board color commentators
on the skirmishes in Jamaica’s open-ended
musical combat it’s “Pussyclaat...a which dutty
ras sing dis???” The buzz and extra question
marks are all for “Bad Like I,” the 45 with
which Munga launched his deejay career
last year by naming names and licking shots.
“It could be slated as a DJs song, indirectly,”
Munga says modestly, between mastications
on a sasparilla chew-stick. Busy Signal fear
Aidonia, I don’t was the first line of the verse,
followed with Dem ’fraid fi shoot him, I won’t/
Dem a flatline…Munga hold high note.
Playing off a feud within a rival crew to his
own advantage, Munga violated every rule of
military strategy, declaring lyrical war on at
least two fronts with a single line and instantly
commanding dancehall’s center stage.
The 38-bar tour de force that followed started
as a short freestyle overheard by selector
Cool Face while Munga was cutting dubs
for small scale soundsystems—“What we call
‘ghetto sounds,’” he says—at Vendetta studios.
When producer Don Corleone heard the lines,
“him skin color change,” Munga says, but
two weeks later Corleone recorded them on
the throwback “Sweat” riddim, and quickly
took Munga under his wing. Yet Munga has
changed strategy with almost every 45 he’s
dropped since, beginning with the soca-ish
“Flippin Rhymes,” which shares a backing
track with Sean Paul and Rihanna’s “Break
it Off.” “I started my career as a feud artist,”
Munga says. “’Bad Like I’ was like, ‘Yeah.
Garrison. Grrrrr.’ But ‘Flippin Rhymes’
established the versatility.” “Earthquake” is
another jump up tune built around a sing-
song taunt in an auto-croon vocoder style,
while “Came to Take My Place” is pure JA
crunk, slowand ominous in a Bone-Thuggish
way that is credible as straight ahead
rap even as it displays a certain rastafied
inflection. Munga is in fact a rasta, one who
came up in Capleton’s camp and voiced
for one drop labels before connecting with
Corleone. Conscious themes and rootsier
rhythms offer yet another vein to his sound
but what all his tunes have in common is
a distinctive writing style built on simple
freestyle constructions, deadly in a soundclash
but also more transparent to non-Jamaican
listeners. No doubt sensing platinum method
in the madness of his forward-on-all-fronts
strategy, Don Corleone is keeping Munga
close to Vendetta studios, accumulating a war
chest of material for a summer LP release.
Munga, with characteristic caution, says simply,
“2007 is mine.” EDWIN “STATS” HOUGHTON
Munga at the gates
to a friend’s house in
Kingston, JA’s Cassia
Park neighborhood.
PHOTOGRAPHY KRISANNE JOHNSON
“I STARTED MY
CAREER AS A
FEUD ARTIST.”
THE LONG AWAITED FOLLOW UP TO THE CLASSIC “RHYME RELATED” FROM THE RENOWNED GROUP COMPRISED OF
TIYE PHOENIX, MR. COMPLEX, DJ SPINNA & SHABAAM SAHDEEQ
FEATURING GUEST APPEARANCES BY: PHARAOHE MONCH, LITTLE BROTHER, SLUM VILLAGE, LARGE PROFESSOR, PLANET ASIA & MANY MORE**
PRODUCTION BY: DJ SPINNA & MORE
A CLASSIC RETURNS... APRIL 24TH, 2007
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Mr. Complex
Shabaam
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**APPEARANCES NOT FINALIZED
62 THE FADER 62 THE FADER
B
y the time rap history books catch up
and canonize this first decade of the two-
thousands, Turf Talk’s 2004 debut The Street
Novelist will be remembered not as an early
salvo in the hyphy movement, but a minor
hip-hop classic, slotted right next to Spice 1,
MC Eiht and the rest of the West Coast’s thug
elite. The beats on Novelist are banging and
futuristic, no less party-ready than any other
moon rocks fromthe Bay, but Turf used themto
drop corkscrewrhymes about hiding drugs in
the shrubs (“Bundle Bush”) and talk about how
it fucked up his hustle when the government
took away food stamps. The albumstayed true
to Cali rap’s starched Dickies lineage while
blasting into another orbit entirely, and in the
process established Turf Talk as the state’s
young turk.
Shuffling between Vallejo and Los Angeles
as a child, the rapper born Demar Bernstein
grew up idolizing his older cousin, Earl “E-40”
Stephens. “40’s the tree, and we the branches,”
he says. “In LA I would have Federal posters
up on my wall, Mr Flamboyant posters.” The
cover of Turf Talk’s new album, West Coast
Vaccine, even features the MC hooked up
to an IV on an operating table surrounded
by stacks of albums, including E-40 and
The Click’s Down and Dirty. “I always try to
impress 40,” says Turf. “But every time I think
I’m gonna get him in the booth, he tears me
apart. I’ll do a verse, and he’ll say ‘Ugggghhh,
I like that, Turfy!’ Then he’ll bust the same style.”
The family members share an affinity
for unlikely lyrical detail and a consonant-
grinding delivery—who else could make
gangster rap sound harder just by pronouncing
the Rs?—but Turf Talk has always distinguished
himself with a grimier approach. This past year,
Turf saw his biggest mainstream recognition
to date, touring Europe for two months as an
invited guest of DJ Shadow, who featured the
MC on the bouncy single “Three Freaks.”
“Shadow showed me this is a real career,”
he says. “I didn’t do rehearsals before I left to
Europe. Now I always soundcheck with my
DJ.” Despite any newfound professionalism,
West Coast Vaccine doesn’t see Turf Talk
abandoning his soil for the glamorous life any
time soon. “I got shot, went through family
problems, politic problems,” he says of the
album’s genesis. “I got slaps, but this is not
really a friendly album.” NICK BARAT
Turf Talk waits to get
into the BARS Awards
at California’s San
Mateo Expo Center.
PHOTOGRAPHY THEO RIGBY
“SHADOW
SHOWED ME
THIS IS A REAL
CAREER. I DIDN’T
DO REHEARSALS
BEFORE I LEFT
TO EUROPE.
NOW I ALWAYS
SOUNDCHECK
WITH MY DJ.”
GENF
GOT SLAPS?
TURF TALK
GOES ABOVE
& BEYOND
hcjcg mcghmcghmcghm
m
64 THE FADER
GENF
64 THE FADER 64 THE FADER
B
ritain’s Hayden Norman Thorpe was 16
when he finally accepted that he wasn’t
going to make it as a professional footballer.
Luckily he’d been working on a Plan B since
primary school, a group called Fauve (named
after the early 20th Century art movement),
later translated into English as Wild Beasts.
Forming a band was a bold move in itself for a
footy-playing Northern lad. Forming a band as
utterly strange, as effete yet resolute as Wild
Beasts, surely took some bottle.
“I don’t really listen to music at all, I keep
my head in the sand,” says Thorpe, instantly
batting away all the standard questions
about influences. “It’s easier that way—I hate
the feeling of something else getting into my
mind.” On hearing the rarefied romantic
racket of recent single “Brave Bulging Buoyant
Clairvoyant,” you can almost believe him.
There are strong notes of Orange Juice, but
whereas contemporary bands like Franz
Ferdinand have streamlined that Postcard
sound into an efficient pop machine, Wild
Beasts have added fresh layers of intricate
whimsy: echoes of Kate Bush or Jacques
Brel, and in Thorpe’s extraordinary, lusty
falsetto, hints of a young Morrissey. Bassist
Tom Fleming cites the Beatles, Marvin Gaye,
and “people who have made thoughtful pop
records,” but concedes, “We can’t agree on
any influences. There’s something accidental
about our music.”
Thorpe’s lyrics are audacious. He rhymes
“toddler” with “mollycoddler,” and urges us
to seize the day, to “swig the bottle, slap the
face of Aristotle.” “I think it’s important to use
language to be silly and entertaining, while at
the same time to make an underlying point,”
he reasons.
The only other band ever to come from
Kendal—a small town on the edge of the
Lake District famous for its Kendal Mint Cake,
a bizarre sugary confection beloved of hill-
walkers—are the equally eccentric British
Sea Power. It must be something in the water.
Or the cake. Wild Beasts have since moved
lock, stock to Leeds, but there’s no doubt that
isolation has helped nurture Britain’s most
unique new pop prospect. “We’re determined
to make music that opens people’s eyes,” says
Thorpe. “If any of our ideas sound remotely
close to anyone else’s, they’re out the window.
We relish that challenge. We’re not lazy
bastards.” SAM RICHARDS
Wild Beasts at Camden
Lock, London.
YOUNG
WHIMSY
THE
ROMANTIC
YELPS OF
WILD BEASTS
“WE CAN’T
AGREE ON ANY
INFLUENCES.
THERE’S
SOMETHING
ACCIDENTAL
ABOUT OUR
MUSIC.”
PHOTOGRAPHY VENETIA DEARDEN
66 THE FADER
GENF
66 THE FADER
S
itting on an interview couch wearing an
oversized Kangol and white T-shirt, Bunji
Garlin performed an impromptu accapella
rendition of his single “Brrrt” this past fall on
Trinidad music network Synergy TV. The title
of the song comes from onomatopoeic gun
talk—Seh dem have di BRRRT, when dem
bus di BRRRT, when dem pass di BRRRT,
when demrise up di BRRRT—but when Bunji
deliberately slowed-down his delivery to
point out specific lyrics, viewers realized the
club tune isn’t a celebration of the gangster
lifestyle, but an angry critique: Seh dat yuh a
real bad man, every day yuh walk around di
streets with a chrome nine, I dun knowwhat’s
yuh deal bad man….
“Brrrt” has been a success for Bunji on a
number of levels. Recorded on Massive B’s
“March Out” riddim, it is one of the rare
tracks by a soca artist to recieve spins on
dancehall mixshows from Hot 97 to the BBC,
and was even included on the newest edition
of Greensleeves’ definitive Biggest Ragga
Dancehall Anthems compilation. More
importantly, the hit bolstered Bunji’s position
as a Caribbean chameleon, capable of
switching between lyrical themes and sonic
styles with ease. Musically, “Brrrt” is tailor
made for artists like Mavado and Elephant
Man, but Bunji brings the right swagger and
delivery to match. But when he was crowned
Trinidad’s International Soca Monarch in 2004,
he won the competition for jumping around
on stage to the hyperactive soca of “Warrior
Cry,” with a live show highlighted by his floor
length Japanese kimono and an oversized
glove that shot fireworks out of each finger.
So far, the new year of carnival releases
has already brought out Bunji’s dancehall-
tempo, anti-prejudice anthem “Black” right
alongside the march-ready “Fire,” where he
declares himself not only soca’s warrior, but
the “keeper of di flame.” Yet it wasn’t always
so easy for Bunji to slip between worlds. When
he first started making inroads in Trinidad in
the late ’90s, fans didn’t know what to call his
sound: was it soca? Dancehall soca? Ragga
soca? Two summers ago, following comments
by Jamaican one-drop artist I-Wayne that soca
was “devil music,” Bunji pit island against
island by responding with “Yu Mad or Wha”:
Yu mad or wha, yu bad or wha? A yu alone
wan dis Trinidad or wha? Oppose a whole
nation like yu bad or wha? Garlin may be a
firestarter for debates among soca fans (and
foes), but he has never lost respect for sticking
to his guns. NICK BARAT
Bunji Garlin in a
Trinidad recording
studio.
PHOTOGRAPHY PHILIPPE MCCLELLAND
YU MAD OR
WHA, YU BAD
OR WHA? A YU
ALONE WAN
DIS TRINIDAD
OR WHA?
BULLET
POINTS
BUNJI
GARLIN’S
CROSSOVER
SOCA SPIT
y
o
u
n
g
j
e
e
z
y
i 8
8
5
©2007 Boost Worldwide, Inc. All rights reserved. BOOST, BOOST and Logo, Boost Walkie-Talkie, Where You At? and Logo, BOOST MOBILE, BOOST MOBILE and Logo, and the Logo are trademarks and/or service marks of Boost Worldwide, Inc.
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®
“YOU W
GeT HU
YOU
YOUR
UP AND
TALL”
ON’T
Rt IF
KEEP
HAnDS
STAND
BILL CALLAHAN . POLOWDA DON . PANDA BEAR . GYPTIAN . BLACK LIPS . PRODIGY . AFGHANISTAN . SWAY STYLES
Bill Callahan, the mysterious man behind Smog, sheds the stage name—and a little of the darkness, sadness and black comedy—to pull his gospel in just a little bit closer.
T



e H

RI
sing
STORY MARGARET WAPPLER PHOTOGRAPHY DEREK HENDERSON
THE FADER 75
BILL CALLAHAN
F
rom1988 to 2005, Bill Callahan made music under
the name Smog. Sometimes, to obscure matters
even further, he would spell it as (Smog). Like his
ex-girlfriend Chan Marshall and his occasional
collaborator Will Oldham, Callahan had a penchant
for aliases and projecting a brooding, intellectual
darkness. He became a prolific fixture in underground
music, releasing 11 albums along with a streamof
cassettes and EPs. Callahan’s songs carried a distinct smudge of perversion and black
comedy that quickly earned hima certain reputation, and a certain following. Even as
the music kept coming and the tours kept getting booked, he maintained an extremely
shadowy and unpredictable public persona. He came off as dark and unknowable, a
moving target. With each newrelease, certain lyrics reinforced this image of Callahan
the Loner. His devoted fans fetishized those lines—the ones about solitude or sex or
depression—imagining themselves to be like Bill Callahan, whoever or wherever he
was, further entrenching his myth.
But now, without making much of it, Callahan seems to be subtly breaking that
circular feedback loop between himself and his listeners by quietly adjusting his rules.
With his new albumWoke on a Whaleheart, he’s restructured his side of the dynamic,
even if he’s not convinced anyone on the other side is really paying attention.
Smog started when Callahan, at age 22, self-released Macramé Gunplay, the first
in a series of four cassette tapes. Each one reiterated his clumsy, repressed desire for
others, for a better self, for some kind of masterwork to settle around himlike a cloak.
He played his guitar paranoid-close, like it was his enemy. Tearing and scratching at it,
Callahan forced the instrument to squall and squawk over a roiling sea of static and
hiss. By the time he made Forgotten Foundation in 1992 (his first of many albums for
Chicago’s Drag City label) he had made his voice the flagship vessel for his struggles.
With a range that included atonal punk wail, salt of the earth moan, smugly detached
statement and desperate whine, he conveyed a young man uncomfortable in his own
skin. But insecurities didn’t keep himfromplugging away, no matter howoften his
ideas lead himinto emotional cul-de-sacs. For almost two decades Smog, the concept,
functioned as a windswept pasture where Callahan’s favorite tattered identities—the
perpetual stranger, the jilted lover, the bleak-witted barfly—could roam. On this barren
landscape he could indulge all his musical impulses, fromexperimental noise rock to
confessional folk-bramble to loping country.
Callahan recorded his visions of the world in an attempt to understand his place in
it and to get the clarity he always wanted. He restlessly sought out the kind of well-
worn vision that he admires in Kris Kristofferson, Randy Newman and Willie Nelson,
and with his latest album, Callahan seems to have found some of it. A clear-headed,
transcendent record rich in natural imagery, Woke on a Whaleheart is the follow-up to
the deeply meditative A River Ain’t Too Much to Love. Released under his birth name—
Bill Callahan, no alias—Woke on a Whaleheart is the first record of the new post-
Smog era.
Speaking slowly in his molasses baritone over the phone from Tokyo—where he
is on tour with Joanna Newsom, his sometime collaborator and girlfriend of three
years—Callahan often lets his sentences trail off or restarts themjust when they’re
nearly finished. He cracks jokes in the same dry, mildy-inflected tone in which he talks
There are ideas about Callahan in need of
revision, but he doesn’t feel an urgency to set
any records straight. “I think people
stopped listening ten years ago
anyway,” he says.
Callahan’s light goes on as
Joanna Newsom walks into
the room.
and follows them up with slight, whispery laughter. He will thoughtfully answer any
question, but he doesn’t feel the need to express everything.
Like most artists who have been making music for close to 20 years, there are
several ideas about Callahan in need of revision, but he doesn’t feel an urgency to
set any records straight. “I think people stopped listening ten years ago anyway,” he
says of his own music. It’s an interesting comment froma songwriter whose fans pick
apart every word he utters, start websites named after snatches of his lyrics and quote
his lines back and forth to one another to entertain themselves in bars. It’s as though
Callahan, the moving target, has realized that even as he’s kept moving—literally to
Georgia, Chicago, California and Texas, but also by keeping to himself and staying out
of the press—he’s been pinned down, reduced to a caricature anyway.
Just as John McEntire and Jim O’Rourke, two producers who have worked with
Callahan, have been permanently lumped into the postrock genre, Callahan has been
stubbornly categorized as lo-fi, a designation that hasn’t really been true for at least a
decade. “When people call me [lo-fi], I’mnot sure what they’re implying, but I still get
offended,” he says flatly. “I also just don’t want to think about it. All those ideas, those
labels, are just hanging out there like mosquitoes.” Yet what dogs Callahan even more
than the lo-fi tag is his reputation for being a sad sack and somewhat of a bastard.
It’s a narrow, though somewhat understandable, conclusion. On “It’s Rough” from
1995’s Wild Love, Callahan sings, When you’re down on your luck/ And you just can’t
cope/ When the times are bleak/ And the friends are few/ Don’t turn to me/ ’Cause I’m
no hope/ Don’t turn to me/ ’Cause I don’t knowwhat to do. Then he offers the advice,
Maybe you should have a drink/ I don’t knowwhy you ever stopped anyway.
Though Callahan admits that his lyrics “might’ve been spurred by things happening
in my life,” he insists there is a separation between himself and the narrator of his
songs. “I try to stay away fromit being me. I don’t think I write in character as much as
Randy Newman does, but it’s probably closer to being in character [than being me],”
he says. “I always think I’mtelling universal stories.”
Whoever it was telling the stories in Callahan’s work, Callahan recently felt compelled
to distance himself fromthat person. And so he had to get rid of Smog, an identity that
remains not fully understood by most listeners. Over email, a mediumwhere Callahan
communicates in the same poetic and formal tone of his lyrics, he writes, “Smog was
an entity. My idea at first was to have songs that were so fragile and fragmentary, they
couldn’t possibly be covered by anyone else. Not even myself. I just wanted the songs
to exist in that one form, like charred things that were left over froma fire.”
Smog was also about Callahan being in control. Although he has collaborated with
plenty of musicians, he more or less told themwhat to play. For Woke on a Whaleheart,
Callahan asked Neil Michael Hagerty, former vocalist and guitarist for Royal Trux, to
write the arrangements and co-produce the album. Hagerty’s current band Howling
Hex has opened for Callahan and Newsom, and for this album Hagerty aimed to
capture some of Callahan’s live dynamic. “I put Bill in the category of having a personal
relationship with his audience,” says Hagerty. “His shows have a very consistent level
of energy—even in a slow song, it never dragged. There was a tension, but not in a
negative sense. It was a pulling fromBill and the audience, both tugging on the same
song. I wanted to keep that intensity in the record.”
Before they began recording, Callahan sent Hagerty some demos with a list of
ideas. “I didn’t want to make an indie rock record. All these prejudices are attached to
that [sound],” Callahan says. “[Hagerty] said he wanted to keep it generic. It’s not
“I don’t think I write in character as much as
Randy Newman does, but it’s probably closer
to being in character [than being me].
I always think
I’m telling universal stories.”
Woke on a Whaleheart is
Callahan’s 12th album and
the first under his own name.
BILL CALLAHAN
76 THE FADER
the most flattering word to hear about your music, but I understood what he meant.”
Woke on a Whaleheart isn’t generic, but it’s a subtle work that gains traction
through repetitious, circular builds and the stark power of ordinary language. It
is also an album steeped in easygoing gospel. Deani Pugh-Flemmings, the leader
of Olivet Baptist Choir in Austin, Texas (Callahan’s hometown since 2004), sings
glowing back-up vocals on nearly all nine of the tracks, adding a proclaimatory edge
to the proceedings. Callahan has been flirting with gospel in his music for a while,
but on “The Wheel” he goes all in, utilizing the traditional technique of speaking
a line first as a prompt for the congregation, then immediately singing it over, with
emotion reinstated. And on “Day,” Callahan sings his own hymn of hope: Some
would ask, What are we to do/ With a world that crumbles to the touch?/ A world that
spins and dies where it stands/ Like tryin ain’t enough?/ To family is all you can do/
To family is all you can do/ Even if it’s just us two.
Woke on a Whaleheart celebrates not just the shedding of Smog, but also a revelation
for Callahan about the way he wants to make music. “I feel I’ve settled into a new
approach or feel that will take me ten, 20 years to unravel,” he says. “Ever since A
River Ain’t Too Much to Love, I’ve been trying to lessen the division between guitar and
voice. I’mtrying to make things more difficult instead of easy.”
A River Ain’t Too Much to Love spotlighted Callahan’s voice and guitar-playing,
which was more sophisticated and nuanced than on his previous work. With lots
of finger-picking and separate rhythms for each of his two instruments, Callahan
took beta blockers for a few months in order to play the songs on tour. “I want to
push myself, push my guitar and singing to a place where I have to take stage fright
drugs,” he says with a laugh. “They made me really sleepy, but I ended up mastering
the songs.”
The guitar, which has been Callahan’s constant companion, has only recently been
reconsidered, something Callahan says he owes to Newsom. “I think the way she
loves her harp, howmuch she loves playing it, has inspired me to try to play the guitar
better, or just be more considerate of it,” he says. “I used to regard it as something
that shouldn’t be there, or just the barest minimumthing to get the words and melody
out.” The influence is mutual. Newsomsays it was Callahan who suggested she ask
Van Dyke Parks to arrange the orchestral parts of last year’s Ys, and performing live
together has inspired both musicians. “Playing music with Bill is much more thrilling
than I should even admit,” Newsomsays. “When I play with Bill, I get to drink beer
and so forth. I can’t do that when I play my own songs, cause the harp parts are too
complicated.” Catching themlive, it’s easy to see her excitement. She sits behind an
electric piano, striking bouncy keys to Callahan’s more staid guitar, jogging her legs
and tapping her feet.
For Callahan, playing with Newsom, who’s become a cornerstone of the avant-folk
scene, has exposed himto a new audience outside of the circle that tried to grab him
so tightly over the years. “If the audience is all rooting for you, it can be too easy,”
Callahan reasons. “They’re going to laugh at all your stupid jokes just because they
like your music. I find it really rewarding if I get one person that says, ‘I came to see
Joanna, but I bought your CD too.’ That’s a triumph for me.”
At 40, Callahan has more than a few grey hairs salting his toy soldier haircut. Now
his pensive expressions sit better on his still boyish but subtly lined face. “Every
year I’ve gotten older, I’ve been more comfortable and happy,” he says. “You’re not
supposed to enjoy it, but I do. You learn more about what you’re supposed to be doing
and who you’re supposed to be spending time with.” And though he wants to keep
himself out of it, Callahan knows that bright comfort is all over Woke on a Whaleheart,
even in the hanging moments of doubt. “I don’t think there’s a single sad thing on this
record,” he says. “But I don’t think anyone’s going to notice it.”
“If the audience is all rooting
for you, it can be too easy. They’re going to laugh
at all your stupid jokes just because
they like your music.”
“Changing the name is a way to
physically demarcate a change,”
Callahan says of Smog.
&
BILL CALLAHAN
THE FADER 79
O



N’
T


sT
Op

t


I

D
Blazing the endless night with your next fast breaking, big talking, superstar producer—Polow Da Don
STORY ERI C DUCKER PHOTOGRAPHY MATT EI CH
82 THE FADER
I
t was Tuesday, coming up on midnight, and sticking
to his usual schedule, producer PolowDa Don hadn’t
even gotten to work yet. Instead he sat by a blazing
heater on the tented patio of Atlanta’s R Thomas
Deluxe Grill with his personal assistant Noah Betzing,
the rapper Rich Boy and Rich Boy’s manager Bianca
Mendez. In front of him were the remnants of his
chicken wings dinner. The final mixes of Rich Boy’s
self-titled debut albumwere due for mastering last
week, but Polow had given himself until Thursday to
get it all done. Time was running out, but no one seemed too worried about it.
Rich Boy’s albumis the first release on Polow’s Zone 4 label, an imprint backed
by Interscope. Polowproduced ten of its 16 tracks, and in early 2007 the first single
“ThrowSome D’s” unexpectedly became the biggest rap song in the country, even
though it had been floating around generally unnoticed for more than a year. The
mandatory posse remix (co-produced with Lil Jon and featuring Andre 3000, Jim
Jones, Nelly, Murphy Lee and the Game) was out, as well as another version by
Kanye West where Polow’s beat remains untouched and West adds two newverses
of his own, shifting the subject matter fromrims to tits.
The success of Rich Boy’s “Throw Some D’s” certainly had a lot to do with the
way the Mobile, Alabama MC stretched vowels fromhis mouth like taffy, but it also
came during Polow’s ascendance as the new go-to producer for pop, hip-hop and
R&B hits. Now when talking shit about music on the radio, Polow has to preface
his comments with an explanation that he’s referring to music on the radio before
six months ago, the time when his hot streak began. Before then, his sporadic
credits included Ludacris’s “Pimpin All Over the World,” a supersonic remix
for Mya’s “Fallen” and a brilliant-but-rejected re-imagining of Gwen Stefani’s
“Luxurious.” Then two Polow productions, “London Bridges” by Fergie and
“Buttons” by the Pussycat Dolls, achieved summertime ubiquity.
Since then he’s provided lead-singles for Mario and Young Buck, delivered
the stunning bionic grind of Kelis’s “Blindflold Me,” gone to Chicago to work
with R Kelly, been pegged to help Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger on her solo
material, and taken Ciara out of roller skating jams and into panting ballad
territory with “Promise.”
The Rich Boy albumhad to be done by Thursday morning because that was when
Polow was scheduled to fly out to Los Angeles for Grammy weekend and all the
meetings, parties, appearances, tributes and pomp that come along with it. Then
there was the Grammy ceremony itself, which he would be attending for the first
time. Polowdidn’t knowif the songs he’d produced for Fergie, the Pussycat Dolls or
Jamie Foxx were nominated for anything (they weren’t), but he knew that Ludacris
and Mary J Blige would be performing “Runaway Love,” and that was his too. The
28-year-old also knewthat he wasn’t up for the Producer of the Year award.
Before getting busy, Polow stopped by Zac Recording Studios to see Outkast’s
Big Boi, who was laying down a verse for Rich Boy’s “And I Love You.” Big Boi has
nearly 15 years of experience in the game and has sold millions of records—since
the beat came fromhis longtime collaborator Mr DJ, this meeting wasn’t a creative
one. It was more of a political move, a gesture of respect.
Wearing a crisp black Beatles T-shirt, Big Boi sat in one of Zac’s darkened control
rooms, two pads of paper at the ready while three white pillar candles burned
on three separate paper plates. As Rich Boy fell back towards one of the corners,
Polow and Big Boi shot the shit about Bubba Sparxxx and how Big’s partner Andre
3000 had been ripping all the remixes he’d been jumping on with actual raps. Before
they left, Big Boi told Polowand Rich Boy, “I’mjust happy to take it home for you.”
Soon Polow was in the passenger seat of his white Jaguar as it rolled through
the empty streets and highways of outer Atlanta, ending at House Studios in
the northern suburbs. The art for Rich Boy’s albumhad already been printed, so at
Polow resting, post-game, at Crunch
Fitness in Buckhead, ATL.
“I’VE BECOME THE MAIN GUY, THAT MEANS PRODUCERS ARE FOLLOWING ME. EVENTUALLY
POLOW DA DON
WHAT THAT MEANS IS REAL MUSIC COMES BACK, BECAUSE WHAT I DO IS REAL MUSIC.”
84 THE FADER
NOW WHEN TALKING SHIT ABOUT MUSIC ON THE RADIO, POLOW HAS TO PREFACE

HIS COMMENTS WITH AN EXPLANATION THAT HE MEANS MUSIC ON THE RADIO
BEFORE SIX MONTHS AGO, THE TIME WHEN HIS HOT STREAK BEGAN.
POLOW DA DON
this point they were just making sure that all the songs listed and credited actually
existed. Rich Boy still needed to lay down a couple more verses and record an intro,
while Polow needed to tinker with the mix on a few songs, add some gun shot
embellishments and record a verse of his own for the song “Good Things.”
Everyone involved in the making of Rich Boy had been at it for several days
straight and their eyes were narrowing into slits. Polowdispatched a Studio House
assistant to the grocery store for raspberry herbal tea, Splenda, Aquafina water and
the energy drink Red Lion if they had it (Red Bull if they didn’t). At 4:45AMthere
were still a few more hours of work until quitting time. “A thing you should know
about me,” said Polow, “is that I don’t sleep.”
Built off a teeter-tottering sample fromSwitch’s “I Call Your Name,” “Throw Some
D’s” is actually a secret history lesson on Polow and Rich Boy. The chorus comes
fromRich Boy’s verse on the remix to Bubba Sparxxx’s “Back In The Mud”—Rich
Boy’s first nationally released song, his first official collaboration with Polow and
the only available artifact of NewMoney, a down south supergroup that Polowand
Timbaland were putting together with Rich Boy, Sparxxx, Pastor Troy and Sean Paul
of the Youngbloodz. The lines fromPolow’s verse I never slip/ I never fall/ A lot of
hoes give me their numbers but I never call first appeared on “Can We Do This,” a
song by his old group, JimCrow.
Jamal Jones aka Polow Da Don was raised in the southwestern part of Atlanta,
in the Zone 4 police patrol area that his label name refers to, and grewup hoping
to become an A&R for a record company. After two years at Morehouse College
he dropped out to focus on his rapping career. Jim Crow was a three MC crew
that signed to Sony in the late ’90s when major labels finally realized there might
actually be money in Southern rap. The group released two albums before breaking
up and are best remembered for popularizing the phrase “Holla at a playa when
you see him in the streets” to the point that it was regularly heard on ESPN’s
SportsCenter. Polowconsiders their debut albumCrow’s Nest an Atlanta rap classic
on par with Outkast’s first three records, Goodie Mob’s Soul Food and Kilo Ali’s early
’90s regional releases.
When Polowwas in JimCrowhe would always give his opinions to the producers
they were working with, yet it wasn’t until after the group separated to try solo
careers that he started making beats himself. Unlike the Neptunes or Lil Jon, Polow
doesn’t have a signature sound. Part of his talent is his versatility and his ability to
find unexpected but effective pairings between vocalists and tracks. The restrained
soul of “Runaway Love” allows Ludacris to ditch his cartoonish pussyhound
character and make a post-Crash foray into maturity, while the puppy love piano of
“First Piece” provides a fascinating counterbalance as Juvenile and his cronies in
UTP lyrically get Geto Boys-level repugnant. Even on “London Bridge,” the closest
song Polow has to a calling card, the strutting drums match Fergie’s confident
delivery, but the sirens and jarring horns that define the song are pure panic.
Polow is a detail-oriented producer prone to dropping in unpredictable touches
like triple-time claps and clave breaks that either ignite like turbo-boosters or
decimate like shrapnel. There is a depth to his songs that most producers ignore
in their quest for catchiness. “I’ve become the main guy,” he said. “That means
producers are following me. What that means is real music comes back, because
what I do is real music. When that happens, then I did my job.”
In person Polowcarries himself with quiet confidence, but his quotable, outsized
ego has become an essential part of his identity. In interviews he takes casual jabs
at industry kings like Jay-Z and Jermaine Dupri like it’s no big deal. This cockiness is
just as crucial as the “King of the White Girls” image he pushed in the “ThrowSome
D’s” video by delivering his verse fromthe backseat of a convertible as three chicks
seemingly plucked froma Tri Delt sorority house sing along with him.
Polow is messing around with a solo project called Gorgeous Jones that takes
his persona to its most ridiculous extension. “Gorgeous Jones is basically a day in
Rich Boy on the set of Young
Buck’s “Get Buck” video.
“I DON’T FEEL LIKE I’M PROPERLY STAFFED TO WORK THE WAY I WANT TO WORK.
the life of a movie/rock star,” he explained, staying vague on the musical specifics.
“Everything he does is perfection. Dudes want to be himand girls want to see him.
He’s arrogant, but entertaining. He’s a lovable guy, almost like Johnny Bravo if he
was a rapper.”
Following Tuesday’s late night session, Polow’s Wednesday got started around 5PM
at Crunch Fitness with a Peach Punch smoothie and pick-up basketball. On the court
he led fast breaks, drained some jumpers, bricked others, cherry-picked for easy
baskets, connected on touch passes, yelled at his teammates to get their hands up
on defense and argued when it was over. “When his browgoes up, that’s when you
can tell he’s mad,” said one of the other regulars from the sideline. When Polow
came away from his fourth and final game with an L, he drove home in a stank
mood. Though he’d lived in his white-columned, high-ceilinged luxury apartment
for a couple years, the place remained for the most part empty and undecorated.
“I just sleep here,” said Polow. “That’s why I’mnever here.”
Taking one of the custom-designed Ken Lo hoodies from a metal rack in the
dining room, Polowheaded down to the video shoot for Young Buck’s “Get Buck,”
a big and blustery track he produced. Atlanta may currently dominate hip-hop, but
the community itself is small and interconnected. As Polowand Rich Boy stood in
the parking lot of a check cashing spot waiting to filmtheir cameos, a procession of
folks who were somehowpart of the rap game came by to get Polow’s cell number,
give Polow their cell number or give Polow their cell number to give to someone
else. The marching band and step team sequences were almost done shooting
when Polow spotted Young Buck posted up by a monitor with the clip’s director,
Bernard Gourley. Polowcalled out, “Buck! What it is?” The rapper replied, “It’s you.”
Once the video wrapped, the next stop was Soapbox Studios for a quick session
with Phil Tan, Jermaine Dupri’s longtime engineer who also mixed most of the
Neptunes recent hits and Rihanna’s “SOS.” After he explained the touch ups he
wanted on Rich Boy’s extra-shinning club jam“On the Regular,” Polowwent to the
studio’s kitchen. There he ran into Rico Wade, a founding member of Organized
Noize, the production team that defined the sound of Atlanta rap in the ’90s. As
a way of congratulations, Wade pontificated on why people had embraced Rich Boy,
saying that his high skin fade reminded themof their country heritage. Amidst local
superstars like TI and Young Jeezy’s envy-inspiring talk of Bentleys and Phantoms,
there is something almost quaint about Rich Boy’s pride-filled claim on “Throw
Some D’s” that he just bought a Cadillac. Wade contended that Alabama is still the
real South, a state where everybody has an uncle and the penalty for a narcotics
case is almost as bad catching a murder rap. “It’s like Atlanta ten or 15 years ago,”
he said.
At one in the morning, according to Mobile time, Rich Boy officially turned 23 and
Polow took himout for a laidback celebration of table dances at the Pink Pony. In
the car afterwards Polow admitted that finishing the Rich Boy albumwould be a
load off his mind and that doing it hadn’t been easy. Earlier that night he learned
that a song he’d spent several pre-dawn hours working on wasn’t included in the
final tracklist. Not having to finish it saved himtime right now, but it had been a
waste of his energy. “I don’t feel like I’m properly staffed to work the way I want
to work. I want to worry about zero personal, day-to-day type shit if I choose to,”
Polowsaid. “We’re all doing this for the first time on this level.”
Over at Stonehenge Studios there was an empty vocal booth and an engineer
available, so Rich Boy booked himself a later flight to Los Angeles and got working
on what had to get done. Polowlaid out on a leather couch waiting for himto finish,
one foot on the cushions and the other one on the floor. He lazily talked about
maybe going to Hawaii for a break before coming back from California, and his
Sidekick continued to buzz with every new and unanswered message. It was then,
in the silence, that Polowput his hood up and finally closed his eyes.
POLOW DA DON
Polow holds the door of an Atlanta
apartment building.
&
THE FADER 87
WE’RE ALL DOING THIS FOR THE FIRST TIME ON THIS LEVEL.”
Noah Lennox and the infinite struggle for sweetness
STORY ALEX WAGNER PHOTOGRAPHY TODD COLE
T


e
h
LO VE
mO VE
M
e n
t
90 THE FADER
PANDA BEAR
A
t first, you’d think Person Pitch was
recorded in the desert—among
the spindly ocotillos and the rangy,
extraterrestrial cacti, outside of
crappy one-horse Tucson and its
quicksand gentrification, somewhere
in the dusky purple mountain
majesty of Mount Lemmon. All the
rocks and breathlessly huge spaces, with their
echomaking possibilities and promises of freedom from
currency, pessimismand subways. But the albumwasn’t recorded in the desert,
although its maker, Noah Lennox—better known as Panda Bear from Animal
Collective—happened to be in Arizona for a few weeks in the late winter of this
year. Together with his bandmates Dave Portner, Josh Dibb and Brian Weitz, and
with help from producer Scott Colburn, they were sequestering themselves in
a local studio to imagine the songs for a forthcoming Animal Collective album—
perhaps channeling the mystic juju of Tucson’s rearview mirror dreamcatchers
and looming natural world into something billowing and triumphant, to be
released at a later date.
As it turns out, Person Pitch, Lennox’s second solo album, was recorded in his
home studio in Lisbon, Portugal, where he lives with his wife of three years and
their two-year-old daughter. Lennox describes the studio as “seriously the most
basic, jerryrigged set up,” but if he was using free software and a bootleg mic to
record the album, you can’t really hear it in the overlapping layers of owls and
doowop and reverb that wash over the seven songs. If Person Pitch sounds like it
was birthed in the Great West, in all its ambitious, open spaces and sonic bigness,
it also very much sounds like a small barnacle-covered apartment on the Tejo
river, someplace far away and flooded with sunlight and too much love.
The four members of Animal Collective have been making self-described “weird”
music for the last six years, the psychedelic qualities of which are heightened
by their stage names (Panda Bear, Avey Tare, Geologist and Deakin), use of face
paint and a willingness to get dirty and mix unlikely sounds and samples as if
they were pudding and apple juice. But at the very core of their band is a glowing
ember of pop—tangible, sad, uplifting melodies and harmonies that just happen
to be accompanied by lyrics involving sticky shoes, Chinese ballet and tunas in
Tennyson’s tubs. Lennox and Portner are the primary architects of Animal
Collective’s songs, and not surprisingly, the melodiousness of Person Pitch is
as solid—as perfect, really—as anything the group has done to date. “I feel like
when I listen to an Animal Collective album, I can be like, ‘This part of the song,
there’s a lot of me in that part,’” says Lennox. “But with Person Pitch it’s just
like flooding with me—me-ness. An Animal Collective record would never have
so much reverb over everything, be so watery. That’s a kind of sensibility that’s
particularly mine.”
It took Lennox two years to record the album, swiping sound effects off the
internet, burying his own vocals in blankets of whatever he found and tweaking
the samples themselves while he waited for the birth of his first child. Only at the
end of the process did he invite frequent collaborator Rusty Santos to Lisbon to
mix the tracks. “[Santos] got there and was like so bummed that I had this crappy
“I feel like when I listen to
an Animal Collective album,
I can be like, ‘This part of the song, there’s a
lot of me in that part.
But with Person Pitch it’s just like
flooding with me—me-ness.”
Panda Bear, bka Noah
Lennox, outside of the studio
in Tucson, AZ.
92 THE FADER
“I thought, What do I think is cool?
Stuff like a guy walking an old lady across
the street, I think that’s cool. Good deeds—
and doing good stuff for yourself
and for other people,
as cheesy as it sounds.”
equipment,” Lennox explains. “Like, This is such BS.” Santos took songs apart
and cleaned themup, but by far his biggest contribution was to unearth Lennox’s
vocals. “On every mix, it was Ok take the vocals up, take the vocals up,” he says.
Even though Santos had his way at the mixing board, it’s still difficult to hear
exactly what Lennox is singing about—“soul” could be “son,” and “love” might
really be “above,” but you get the sense that it’s his intention to let each phrase
live by whatever interpretation it receives.
Midway through the recording of the third song on the album, “Bros,” Lennox’s
daughter was born. “It’s not like I was writing the songs, [thinking] She’s really
gonna love this!” he offers, “But…that sense that you’re expendable—the circle
of life hits home heavy when you have a kid, at least it did for me.” Nearly the
longest song on the album, “Bros” clocks in at 12 minutes and 30 seconds and
is filled with movements that range from light ragas to melancholy, chiming
harmonies that are eerily similar to those of Brian Wilson—so much so that they
demand comparison. But ultimately, where Wilson’s music had a plasticine quality
that gave his work a supernatural, ghostlike aura, Lennox’s music is dirtied and
sullied with his own heartbreak and humanity. Somewhere around the three
minute mark of the song, you can decipher the cry of a woman, then of a child and
then of an older man—the cries of Lennox’s wife, baby and himself, respectively.
Depending on the listen, they sound full of woe or full of joy. Lennox says that
“Bros” is the zenith of the album.
Growing up middle class in Baltimore, MD, Lennox attended one of the Waldorf
schools, which emphasize a holistic approach to learning—paying an equal
amount of attention to the inner emotional life of a child and his or her intellectual
development. “For better or for worse it was very white, middle-class Lacrosse-
playing Baltimore guys,” he explains. During his time in Tucson and in press
photos, Lennox is sometimes seen wearing a cashed out, loosely fitting Orioles
baseball hat—maybe an ironic fashion statement when paired with a bleach-
splattered cutoff sweatshirt, but then he adds, “My older brother is a mega
athlete guy—he’s like a tennis pro now. If you have an older brother who’s
really good at sports, you get crazy about losing and kind of get obsessed with
winning.” Lennox continues, saying that Person Pitch is the first time he’s lassoed
his attention deficient habits and worked on something really intensely, focusing
on the songs and the quality of their sound.
September of 2004 sawthe release of Panda Bear’s first solo album, Young
Prayer, which was created on the heels of an extended period of depression. Of
attending high school at another Waldorf school outside of Philadelphia (there
are only a handful in the country), Lennox says, “It was a sad time—the beginning
of my sad times, which I think lasted for a while.” Three years of college in
Boston ended when Lennox dropped out—“I kind of lost it for a little while,” he
explains—and a move to New York followed thereafter. Though Lennox began
recording with Animal Collective, the death of his father in 2002 prompted the
release of his first individual body of work, Young Prayer: it’s a spare, eight-song
EP that is very much a meditation on sadness and sorrow, but with moments
of poetry that come close to wistfulness and some sort of redemption. In the
aftermath of Young Prayer, Lennox says, “I didn’t want to do anything that even
approached that really serious and somber psychic matter. I just got tired of
feeling that way, and feeling like it was a major waste of time to be thinking
negative about everything. This albumhas a lot to do with that, me wanting to feel
PANDA BEAR
Lennox has been jamming
with Animal Collective
members for a decade.
94 THE FADER
positive and make music that makes me feel good and hopefully other people feel
good, as much as I can.”
Person Pitch begins with a song called “Comfy In Nautica.” It’s built around an
echoing, processional vocal that proclaims, Goodness is having courage/ Courage
to do what’s right. With this earnest pedagogy, it recalls a time gone by—maybe
an all-boys choir fromthe ’50s giving a gauzy valediction to their alma mater—but
then Lennox overlays the vocals with bubbles, a lion roar and the zoom of a
Formula 1 racetrack, and continues his chorus with I try to remember always/ Just
to have a good time. “I’mreally stoked about the way a certain pair of shoes can
make me feel,” he admits. “I started thinking about coolness—I just started kind
of to not like it, the whole concept of coolness. So I thought, Well maybe I’ll try
and come up with my own definition for it. What do I think is cool? Stuff like a guy
walking an old lady across the street, I think that’s cool. Good deeds—and doing
good stuff for yourself and for other people, as cheesy as it sounds. So the song’s
a bit about that: wishing people wouldn’t only feel comfy in Nautica. Feel like they
needed to put on a certain brand of clothing to feel like they’re awesome.”
The album runs through several glimmering tracks that recall twilight and
rebirth, but it ends with the song “Ponytail.” Because of its length and lack of
multipart development, the song might otherwise feel like an afterthought, but in
its reflective, haunting send off, it’s one of the album’s standouts. When my soul
starts growing/ I get so hungry/ And/ I wish it would never would stop growing
is looped over and over again atop echoey keys and a warm, fuzzy wash—Panda
Bear’s “me-ness” in Technicolor. It sounds a lot like a lullaby. Though he considers
it a “really cheesy cut,” it’s telling that Lennox chose to end the album with
it. “When I wrote it, it was really spontaneous and I was washing dishes or
something in the morning,” Lennox explains. “And the melody came into my head,
and I got really hungry too. And I was thinking that, Man this is like a time in my
life when I’mreally getting older, somehow. Kind of goofy.”
In speaking about Rock Music Now, the idea of goodness—the search for its
origin or its progeny, or simply the search for a way to be good in a complicated
time—is a very powerful ethic. Lennox, in this way, rubs the same stone as many
of his contemporaries—Animal Collective, of course, but also bands like Softcircle
or Brightblack Morning Light or Arcade Fire, for that matter. There’s a shyness
guised as irony or weirdness or perhaps just being too stoned that quiets the
power of their message; a self-effacement that masks what, in many ways, is
a sermon about the brevity and power of life and love. Lennox hasn’t played
too many solo shows for Person Pitch; at press time, he had only performed
twice in Europe but was readying himself for a handful of gigs in England and
the US. “There’s been a couple shows recently where it’s been kind of like a total
disaster,” he says. “I played this show in the north of Portugal—probably like
30 people showed up, ten of which were people who had set up the show. And
people were not into it at all, they just talked the whole time. After I finished, I
was like I got two more songs, let me knowif you wanna hear them. And this guy
calls up and in Portuguese is like, ‘So uma!’ Which means, Just one! And I was like,
Alright—so I played just one. It’s kind of nice to have that sort of thing every once
in a while, so you don’t think you’re sweet or anything.”
AYouTube clip of another solo showshows Lennox clad in a greenT-shirt, silver
wedding band on his right hand, clutching the mic. He’s working—sweating—his
way through “Bros,” in what sounds like a pretty noisy venue—people are
definitely talking over him. The song sounds different, louder, awkward: the
samples not nearly as fluid as they are on the album, certain basslines ratcheted
up to a weirdly distorted trance-like thump, Lennox’s own voice buried, willingly, in
the din. At a certain point, it really does seemlike a tragedy. Until you realize that
it was perfect—however it was played. &
“[Santos] got there and was like so bummed
that I had this crappy equipment.
Like, This is such BS.”
PANDA BEAR
Lennox hid sounds “so you can
listen to the album and still think
Did I hear something there?”
STORY EDWIN “STATS” HOUGHTON PHOTOGRAPHY KRISANNE JOHNSON
O



N
e

dr
p o p
Op
Gyptian’s brand of rasta-lite throws a lion into the rat race
98 THE FADER
“R KELLY BAD TOO! R KELLY COME LIKE HE’S A REGGAE ARTIST.




T
he problem with trying to interview rastas
is that they have their own language.
Their very own. It’s English, but not the
same English or even the same patois
that’s known to the rest of the world. Ask
a straightforward, Journalism101 question
about musical influences and you might
get an aphorism like “You cannot wake a
sleeping lion” by way of an answer. That particular afro-koan is proffered
across the table of an unused conference roomat VP Records in Jamaica,
Queens by a reggae singer called Gyptian, a young dude with a very old
soul and a regal aura heightened by a crown of budding locks. Listening to
him talk makes it clear that rasta is not so much his religion as a sort of
counter-religion, a general disbelief in conventional rules and hierarchies.
Counter-culture demands counter-language to go with it, and, in his
style of speak, divisive pronouns like “you,” “we,” “me” are all replaced by
“I,” and downpression is the opposite of upful livities.
This logic is built right into the name Gyptian. Windel Beneto Edwards
earned the epithet “Egyptian” from the dreads around Portmore—a
community of studios and musicians that’s easy distance from Kingston,
but not part of it—for wearing a T-shirt tied sphinx-style around his head
and constantly twirling the curls on his chin in a pharaonic manner. “I
just take off the [e]vilous and it jus’ naturally become Gyptian,” he says.
That was in 2005, right after the 22-year-old moved to Portmore and right
before he was unexpectedly thrust into the spotlight with the very first
tune he released. “Serious Times”—a slow, mournful reggae ballad that
rhythmically suggests both a funeral march and a nyabinghi drumchoir—
became the anthem of that particularly bloody year. From the States it’s
hard to get an idea of the song’s ubiquity and its resonance, but consider
that it beat out both Damian Marley’s “Welcome to Jamrock” and Jah Cure’s
“True Reflections” as the Most Important Song of 2005 in a Jamaica Star
readership poll. In the midst of ever-higher crime rates, it became the
rallying point for a revival of conscious reggae the likes of which Jamaica
had not seen for 20-plus years, but its timeliness was deceptive. Gyptian
originally voiced his lament for street violence in 1999 for former Wailers
guitarist Earl “Chinna” Smith, but it was never released until he moved to
Portmore and re-recorded it for another producer. Somehow, this backstory
of dreamdeferred did not detract fromthe relevance of the lyrics—which
put drive-by shootings straight off the daily headlines into the biblical
time-frame of seven times rise and seven times fall—but actually added to
their power, cementing their prophetic inevitability, the inescapable feeling
that they were meant to be heard in that place and that time, over those
particular drums.
When we speak in Queens, Gyptian is very much in a different place and
time. Instead of a ghetto red hot summer, there is a distinct brickness to the
Gyptian derived his
name from the nickname
he earned around the
Portmore area outside of
Kingston.
GYPTIAN
NewYork winter blowing outside, and his debut albumMy Name is Gyptian
is dropping on VP just in time to lay claim to whatever Christmas money
reggae fans have set aside. By this time, Jamaica’s collective imagination
has turned away from spiraling gun-violence, instead focusing on the
constant traffic stops police employ to combat it. Funeral marches have
been replaced as the soundtrack of the moment by the stop-and-go bump
of Buju Banton’s “Driver A” and Stephen Marley’s “Traffic Jam.” “Serious
Times,” meanwhile, has just barely filtered into the periphery of North
American consciousness outside the core reggae community via word of
mouth and a one drop compilation actually called Serious Times on XL
Recordings, leaving Gyptian somewhere in the deadly time warp that exists
between Jamaican grassroots success and international distribution. For
better or worse, Gyptian’s own albumcontinues exactly in the same mode
as “Serious Times,” a mode that could be called “rasta lite”—power ballads
driven almost totally by melody and not at all by the characteristically
Jamaican emphasis on bass and snare. The songs bear some resemblance
to ’70s roots, especially the plaintive quality of Gregory Isaacs’s “Night
Nurse,” but it’s almost impossible to discuss their appeal without the
reference point of R Kelly, for several reasons, but mostly because both
singers glide along the same molecule-thin membrane between brilliance
and Disney-fied saccharine. Hallmark-isms like Have I told you that I’ve
always loved you/ Have I told you that I’ve always cared? totally fail to
derail melody of the kind that gets anyone—rocker, soccer mom, dogheart
killer—open when no-one is looking. This melodic propulsion—so strong
on “Beautiful Lady” that it carries the song right through bar after bar of
rhymeless lyrics like waves over a reef—works because of a certain stream-
of-consciousness spontaneity. The lack of calculated strategy highlights the
fact he could be singing names fromthe Kingston phonebook or scatting
nonsense syllables and it wouldn’t dilute the song’s power much. Although
it contains some disappointments and notable omissions, My Name has
more than its share of such moments; with the careless generosity of
a young artist, Gyptian flings away tune after golden tune that some biz
savvy composer could have stretched out into a million-dollar portfolio of
commercial jingles.
Despite some elements in his sound that seem to directly contradict
it—the spare nyabinghi drums, the rasta cryptographics—Gyptian seems
more or less cool with this essential popness. “I an’ I listen to a lot of
overseas artists,” he says. “Celine Dion, Mariah Carey an’ Whitney Houston,
Patti LaBelle. Boys II Men over deh so, Beyonce.” When I finally play the
Kells card, he looks animated for the first time. “R Kelly bad too! R Kelly
come like he’s a reggae artist. Yah mon, R Kelly mighty, mon. Mighty, mighty
brother…him an Brian McKnight. Bad singer.” But pressed on whether
he aspires to sing over the kind of production those artists popularized,
or how his overall project might be different from theirs, it’s back to
parables. “I’m not the artist to separate from music,” he says. “Wherever
I hear music, ears dem cock up. Like Shabba say: deejay ears cock up
when they hear boom riddim. That is music, an if you a go part it up into
calypso, R&B, dancehall, scat, that would be more like havin Christianity
inna music, you get me? Because in Christianity everything differentiate:
Seven Day church, Apostolic, Ebenezer, Catholic. Everyone praise god on
a different day in a different church. But rastaman now, he must get up
YAH MON, R KELLY MIGHTY, MON. MIGHTY, MIGHTY BROTHER...
HIM AN BRIAN MCKNIGHT. BAD SINGER.”
THE FADER 101
an live! Sunday, Monday, whatever day.” This particular metaphor and its
non-denominational stance are especially close to Gyptian’s home because,
as he’s quick to point out, he is the son of a Seventh Day Adventist mother
and a rasta father (who, appropriately, ran a roots soundsystem called
Faddatone) and it’s this upbringing which he credits for his musicality and
his outlook on life. In speaking with Gyptian, I try to translate his reasoning
into some sort of thesis about the present moment for reggae and its
place in the scheme of things—how even if one drop is a sub-niche of a
sub-culture, by music industry standards it’s about ready to be recognized
as pop music on its own terms—but it’s just about here that Gyptian
melodramatically hits stop on the tape to lay out a conspiracy theory
involving Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. The remainder of our conversation
that day is off the record.
Some months later the LP is out and selling respectably well, cracking some
urban charts, but so far without the adds to the key stations in London,
Miami or New York that foretell major label interest and real numbers.
Speaking over the phone about touring behind the record, holding down
a solo bill for the first time, Gyptian is too busy seeing the world to care
much. He’s just shot a video for a new 45 called “My Fadda Say”—possibly
to balance out “Ma Ma,” which starts off the LP. If there were such a thing
as royalties in Jamaica, Gyptian could live for the next thousand years off
the remittances fromMama and Fadda’s Day alone. But the real tribute to
his father’s rasta legacy is not the just in the song’s melody (it’s as addictive
as any of his other tunes), but in its throwback to the utopian aspirations
of his roots generation, the radical lack of focus on royalties or doing real
numbers. If American hip-hop-style capitalismis now the industry blueprint,
it seems almost logical to assess non-American music the way bankers do
developing countries. Jamaican artists are so routinely evaluated this way,
by their potential to make the leap froma subsistence economy of reggae
45s to a larger market with all the trappings, that it’s almost impossible
to imagine the spirit free enough to see music not as a ladder into the
industry, but as an escape route out of that rat race. But that’s more or less
where Gyptian seems to be with it. “It’s more like a free flow,” he says. “It’s
not about money ’cause, to be frank with you, iffa money I wouldn’t be
here. It’s fromthe music, right? I sing because that’s what I do: music, not
money. You deal with a whole heap of things in this life yunno, but you can’t
sell your soul for it. I tell you I start fromnuthin, until it take me right here
so—music that, nothing else but music.” Questioned again as to where that
flow might be carrying him, he replies, “Me? Just the higher heights a life,
man. That’s where I’mgoin; the higher heights of life.”
Throughout all these conversations, the word Gyptian uses most
frequently is “naturally.” It conveys the positive sense of “not-synthetic”
and also “of course,” as if to say in response to my various queries about
crossover strategy, record labels, markets: Yes but, what’s that got to do
with life? Why waste breath on them when the point is not to carve out
a better record deal or even a greater musical legacy, but to discover a
greater way of living? A record deal is just a means, the songs themselves
are just documentation…rasta-colored hallmark cards from the higher
heights of life.
GYPTIAN
&
“I’M NOT THE ARTIST TO SEPARATE
FROM MUSIC.
WHEREVER I HEAR MUSIC,
EARS DEM COCK UP. LIKE SHABBA
SAY: DEEJAY EARS COCK UP WHEN
THEY HEAR
BOOM RIDDIM.”
The Black Lips—the most banned band in America—is raising such a perfectly hellish storm that everyone who kicked them out is now angling to have them back STORY CAROLI NE McCLOSKEY PHOTOGRAPHY DAVI D BANKS



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104 THE FADER
“I got this fire extinguisher and I
and there was this

she was really tough and she
I was with these two pretty girls,
out of my way
blood started coming
out of my nose, I’m spraying
I
t’s Saturday evening in
the Virginia Highlands
neighborhood of
Atlanta, and the Black
Lips are sitting around
the living roomfiguring
out their night move.
Joe Bradley, the band’s
drummer, spins a blue
marble on the coffee
table. It’s his birthday—he’s 23. Bassist Jared Swilley
and guitarist Cole Alexander are kicking it on the
couch with a glass of red wine. Ian St Pe, another
guitar player (and at age 29, the band’s senior
member), is on the cell-horn setting up tickets to the
Yo La Tengo show later, just down the street in Little
Five Points. Cocks remain in pants, tongues are in
their rightful owner’s mouths and no one is bleeding
fromany visible orifice. Given the civilized tableau,
who’s to knowthat the night will end on the outskirts
of town, at a roadhouse out beyond the Perimeter
(aka I-285) in a joint rife with Mexican cowboys and
parking spots for rigs? Right now, these boys with a
reputation for perpetrating vandalismonstage and on
vinyl have a rare night off and goddamn, they’re not
performing for anyone.
The list of venues that have blacklisted the Black
Lips is long and distinguished: Mercury Lounge
and its sister club, Bowery Ballroom, in New York;
the Black Cat in DC; the Knitting Factory in LA;
40 Watt in Athens; Buffalo Bar in London;
Gleis 22 in Munster. Spit, piss, blood and fire
figure prominently in the litany of offenses, and
underground folklore about the band has morphed
into a giant, international game of Telephone, with
accounts of members variously swapping spit,
trashing equipment into shards, setting off fireworks
onstage and pissing into their mouths and/or onto
the crowd. So it’s not for nothing that Black Lips
shows have achieved a certain mythic status among
the urban animals who attend them. But the scrappy
band from Georgia has clearly been tapped by the
wand of the charmed instead of the damned, because
every one of those clubs has overturned the sentence
and invited them back for another round of pagan
spectacle.
None of this loose gossip is especially remarkable
to the Black Lips themselves, who play upwards
of 200 shows a year and are consequently hazy on
the Whats and Hows (the Whys are irrelevant) of
any particular one. Although, you know, there are
exceptions. “One show we played at Buffalo Bar, I
got this fire extinguisher and I started spraying it
everywhere,” Alexander recalls fondly. “And there was
this butch-dyke owner chick and she was really tough
and she just, like, came out of the fog. I was with
these two pretty girls, and she just ripped ‘em out
of my way and started whacking my face in—blood
started coming out of my nose, I’m spraying her at
the same time…Yeah, that was awesome. We got
banned from there.”
BLACK LIPS
Previous spread: Cole Alexander riding around Atlanta, Georgia in the Black Lips tour van.
THE FADER 105
started spraying it everywhere,
butch-dyke owner chick and
just, like, came out of the fog.
and she just ripped ‘em
and started whacking my face in—
her at the same time.” -COLE ALEXANDER

At left: Joe Bradley at the Earl in East Atlanta. At right: Ian St Pe and Cole Alexander at the Earl.
This is not manufactured bravado. Black Lips have
just learned how to unplug their brains and submit
to whatever larger force possesses them on a given
night once they get under the hot lights. But they
also understand the value of turning it on. “We’re
entertainers,” says St Pe. “If I want to hear a CD or
a record I’ll put that on. If I go see a show, I want
to be entertained. Sometimes it seems like people
expect us to act crazy now, but I’m no puppet. We
never know what’s going to happen when we get
on stage.” Swilley grew up in Dunwoody, Georgia,
listening to his pastor father preach before a
congregation of thousands. “At my Dad’s sermons
they speak in tongues and people freak out and go
crazy and scream,” he says. “I don’t believe in God
personally, but I like that energy. It’s directly related
to our shows—they’re about putting on a showwhile
preaching their message, and we’re about delivering
our songs while putting on a show. But everyone in the
band gets their showmanship fromdifferent places.”
Something about the band’s native charisma makes
people, even cops, want to give them a break. “I
remember we got busted on tour one time, as we were
driving throughTennessee,” says Swilley. “It was around
the same time as Bonnaroo, and I guess the policy in
that county is to pull over every out of state van or car.
So they pulled us over and we had a little bit of weed
and mushrooms, and some Xanax. They had already
written the ticket, but we ended up singing Lynyrd
Skynyrd with the cops and stuff, joking around. They
had to take us to jail because the mushrooms were
a felony. But we made them laugh—we played Rock,
Paper, Scissors to see who was gonna take the charge.
In the end, they apologized for pulling us over and said,
‘Y’all have a good time on tour!’ And when we went back
to court, they dropped almost all the charges, wiped it
off our record and the DEA apologized to us.”
Because here’s the thing about the Black Lips:
they’re charming as hell. They like each other. It’s
genuine. Everybody writes and everybody sings; all
songs are credited to the entire band. There’s no
diva bullshit, possibly because the members of BL
have toughed out two of life’s more radical trials
together: the gruesome years of adolescence and the
demoralizing calisthenics of trying to make a living
from music. “We started playing together in high
school for talent shows,” says Alexander. “A lot of
bands came out of [Dunwoody High],” adds Swilley.
“Tilly and the Wall, some guys from Deerhunter, a
couple of people who play with Bright Eyes. It makes
coming home for Christmas pretty fun.” The Lips
hit the road early and hard, powering through the
indignity of going broke playing for empty rooms. It
was a triumphant adventure. “The first tour we had
was horrible—we were eating out of garbage cans
and sleeping in homeless shelters,” says Alexander.
“All the shows fell through. We got to New Orleans
and they were like, ‘What show?’ The bar was closed,
so we ended up playing for this one bum who was
hanging out. But we’d never been anywhere. We
thought we were on top of the world.”
106 THE FADER
“We ended up singing Lynyrd Skynyrd
with the cops and stuff,
joking around.
They had to take us to jail
because the mushrooms were a felony.
But we made them laugh—we played Rock, Paper,
Of course, nobody would even blink at the
Black Lips stage antics if they couldn’t back it up
with decent noise. Rooted mostly in ’60s garage
dissonance, their jams also contain trace elements of
the mutant array of sounds accessible to the modern
ear: gospel, punk, R&B, country, death metal. The
hairy, acid-blasted, deliciously mangled result is party
sugar and destroy sauce all at once. Since 2000,
the Black Lips have produced two seven-inches, a
couple of LPs on Bomp! and, in 2005, Let It Bloom—a
silly-catchy record packed with odes to the Redneck
Rivieras (I got a tattoo of a dolphin on my belly
button/ And Bobby got a tattoo that said Panama City
Beach 3003) and tracks that make you wanna grab a
piece of rotten fruit and just squeeeeeze it through
your fingers. But even for this workhorse band, the
past year’s been unusually busy. Since signing with
Vice last winter, they’ve been busting ass, touring
the world and making three new records, including a
live set recorded in Tijuana, a collection of outtakes
fromLet It Bloom(tentatively titled Last of the White
Niggers) and a studio release set for the end of the
summer. “It’s weird, it’s like people think we’re a new
band or something,” says Alexander. “We’ve been
together seven years, but I guess it seems like we’re
a new band because we’re starting to get a little more
attention.” Bradley adds, “Rolling Stone chose our
third album as Best Debut Album.”
To record the live album, Los Valientes Del Mundo,
Vice rented out a joint in Tijuana, gave out free beer
and tequila, hired a mariachi band to play between
songs and let the magic flow. “The crowd was like
50 or 60 percent Mexican, plus some drifters from
San Diego,” says Bradley. The Hot Snakes’ John
Reis, who the band first met while playing a show
in California, worked the boards during the set.
“He rules—he drinks the best cigars and the best
tequila,” says Swilley. “And he has perfect teeth.
They’re amazing.”
Back in Atlanta, the Yo La Tengo show is swarming
with kids. Black Lips haven’t seen the band before
and don’t really know the music, but Ira Kaplan’s been
kind to themin the press and they’re curious to check
it out. Inside the theater, people are either seated or
standing in the aisles like beatific zombies, rapt and
motionless—the energy is almost the direct opposite
of a Black Lips show. After admiring a couple of
songs, the band ducks out and pilots the car toward
no man’s land, eventually landing at Southern
Comfort, a giant hall filled with picnic tables, Stetson
hats and hundreds of good ol’ boys. The Black Lips
are the youngest people here by a good 15 years,
but this is more their speed tonight. The house band
gives them a shout out (their pedal steel player sits
in on the new studio record) and conversation veers
towards the Great Mercury Lounge Incident of 2006,
in which the Lips got booted for, ostensibly, pissing
on stage and then refusing to stop playing. “We were
banned for life as they threw us out,” St Pe recalls.
“They turned on the house lights and pulled our mics.
But come on, we play music for a living—we’ll just
do an instrumental set. We refused to stop, and then
the bouncers came up. And then Wolfmother went on
after we got kicked out. It was great: the front man
was acting all cool, standing there in Cole’s piss. But
I guess the almighty dollar speaks, because now that
we’re on Vice and people are kinda showing interest
in us, they asked us back. So we’ll be playing there
next time with a friendly smirk.” &
Jared Swilley at home in Atlanta’s Virginia
Highlands neighborhood.
BLACK LIPS
Scissors to see who was gonna take the charge.”-JARED SWILLEY
STORY NI CK BARAT PHOTOGRAPHY LAUREN FLEI SHMAN

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The rock-bottom revitalization of Mobb Deep’s Prodigy
THE CLIP FOR “MAC 10 HANDLE” FEATURES A SWEAT-DRENCHED PRODIGY IN A

HE SWINGS KNIVES AT DEMONIC HALLUCINATIONS IN THE MIRROR, RAPPING I
FILTHY APARTMENT, SWIGGING LIQUOR AND WIPING FINGERPRINTS OFF BULLETS.
SIT ALONE IN MY FOUR-CORNERED ROOM STARING AT CANDLES, HIGH ON DRUGS.
W hen it comes to confessionals on
wax, fewget realer than “You Can Never Feel My Pain,” the
final song on Prodigy’s 1999 solo album, HNIC. Over some
lite R&B keys froman Angela Bofill record, the Mobb Deep
member details his lifelong struggle with sickle cell anemia:
1974, motherfucker I was born with pain/ My moms and
my pops passed it down to me/ So don’t talk to me about
“Can I feel yours?”/ Cause I ain’t feelin you at all, your pain
isn’t pure/ You cryin cause you broke from the projects/
That’s not pain, that’s emotions, you a bitch/ I’mtalkin bout
permanent, physical sufferin/ You knownothin about that/
You just complain cause you stressed/ Nigga, my pain’s
in the flesh/ And through the years that pain became
my friend.
Ever since they were introduced to the world as axe-
wielding post-pubescents on the cover of their 1993
album Juvenile Hell, Prodigy and Havoc of Mobb Deep
were never your average thugs. Their goth depictions of
outer-borough life made albums like Hell on Earth and The
Infamous East Coast classics, melding wild-out energy with
an introspective uneasiness, both musically and lyrically.
Where other groups would write a song about partying,
the Mobb would compose “Drink Away the Pain.” Even
when boasting about how they’d rock you in your face and
stab your brain with your nosebone, there was always an
underlying sense of claustrophobia and internal conflict
that fueled the menace. New York got a nigga depressed,
Prodigy declared on Infamous single “Survival of the
Fittest,” so I wear a slug-proof underneath my Guess.
In the late ’90s and early ’00s, when the group polished
up their songs and videos to keep pace with the rest of an
increasingly jiggy NewYork City, they lost the dusted-out
loops that helped define their earlier work but maintained
their unhinged aura as dudes who might pop Cristal but
wouldn’t hesitate to break the yellow bottle and cut you
with it. Much of that spirit could be attributed to Prodigy.
Fromhis appearance—skinny, tattooed and wifebeater-ed,
accessorizing only with bandanas, doo rags and giant
chains—to his progressively more abstract and paranoid
lyrics that were peppered with references to melancholy
and self-medication, he cultivated a complete mythology
around not giving a fuck. On songs like HNIC mission
statement “Keep It Thoro,” he would even lay it out in
those exact, raspy words: You just a groupie/ Oh you
Prodigy takes aim in
a game of Big Buck
Hunter in Williamsburg,
Brooklyn.
PRODIGY
gangsta? Then shoot me/ Who gives a fuck, really/ I miss
my nigga Twin, kill me/ So I can join the rest of my folks,
up in the heavens. It was a casual admission, a glimpse
into Prodigy’s psyche made more shocking because of its
offhandedness. It didn’t matter whether or not you believed
what he was saying—it worked because he believed it.
Last year, Prodigy tattooed a script “G-Unit” logo on his
right hand, a symbolic gesture commemorating Mobb
Deep’s signing with the crew (50 Cent got the Mobb
insignia inked on his wrist in return) following a one-album
stint on Jive records in 2004, a series of abortive indie
projects following 2002’s Infamy LP, and Jay-Z’s vicious diss
track, “Takeover.” That song was first performed at Hot
97’s Summer Jamconcert in 2001, complete with Jay’s now-
legendary Jumbotron projections of a nine-year old, sequin-
clad Prodigy photographed at his grandmother’s dance
school, along with the devastating line, You was a ballerina,
I got the pictures, I seen ya.
Blood Money, the group’s G-Unit debut, was supposed
to be a true comeback album for Mobb Deep. But the
final LP was a muddled affair, heavy on nondescript club
beats and glossy, out-of-character collaborations with 50
like “Outta Control” and “Have a Party.” Sales-wise, the
disc was an even bigger disappointment, failing to sell
even 300,000 copies despite heavy promotion and three
expensive videos. Even the gospel-tinged “Pearly Gates,”
the album’s one real standout, was marred when Prodigy’s
lyric Tell that nigga Jesus I’ma see himwhen I see him/ And
when I see him, I’ma beat himlike the movie was censored
on retail copies of the disc. “I was happy with the music we
put on there and gave to the world,” says Prodigy, tersely.
“After Blood Money I just wanted to keep it moving,
you know what I’msaying? Now we on to the next project.
That’s howwe work.”
This past winter, Prodigy linked up with longtime
collaborator Alchemist to record some new songs,
ostensibly for an HNIC follow-up. “We were watching the
old video for [Capone N Noreaga and Mobb Deep’s] ‘LA,
LA,’ where P had the gold Mac 10 chain around his neck,”
recalls Alchemist. “We were like, ‘We gotta bring back that
feeling.’ Not bring back the old music, because we never
go backwards with that, but if we could capture the old
vibe….” The duo recorded what has become their joint
albumReturn of the Mac in two weeks of intense in-studio
inspiration. “We was on a mission,” says Prodigy. On
the new album, the instrumentals blend throwback drum
112 THE FADER
breaks and evocative samples from soundtracks like
James Brown’s Black Caesar score and the Quincy Jones
Ironsides siren used throughout Kill Bill, along with vocal
snippets of Biggie, Ice Cube, Tupac, Big Pun and others—
all talking about Mac 10s—sprinkled in for flavor. The
result is a cinematic, imaginary GothamCity that doesn’t
recall any era in particular, and Prodigy uses it as a
lightning bolt to electrify a grimy, Infamous-style flow that
sounds as vital coming out of his lungs as ever. “[Return
of the Mac] was just an excuse for me and P to dumb out,”
says Alchemist. “Every song is about a Mac 10 loosely,
every song is about New York loosely, we kind of threw a
bunch of things in the pot and came up with this body of
art that is dope to me.”
Return of the Mac was originally intended as a mixtape,
but a self-financed video by Prodigy changed all that.
“He just went and did it, he didn’t tell me about it,” says
Alchemist. “He didn’t put out any press releases, or send
any emails like, ‘Yo, come check the new Prodigy video.’
He straight put it on YouTube out of nowhere, and people
started telling their friends. That’s what set this off on a
bigger scale.” The clip, for “Mac 10 Handle,” featured a
sweat-drenched Prodigy in a filthy apartment, swigging
liquor and wiping fingerprints off bullets. He swings
knives at demonic hallucinations in the mirror, rapping
I sit alone in my four-cornered room staring at candles/
High on drugs. It was a heavy video, made more intense
not only by its low-budget production values, but by the
life-versus-art emotions that it stirred. Prodigy embracing
the darkest recesses of his persona for musical inspiration
was not a new development, but choosing to depict
himself at rock bottomfollowing so many personal attacks
and professional disappointments gave the song real
pathos. “It’s just another joint,” Prodigy says. “To me, it
was just another day in the studio. But I’mhappy if it makes
people feel a certain way.” Alchemist is more succinct
about what he sees as the video’s appeal. “I don’t think
[Prodigy] is offended when people are like, ‘Yo, that video
is hot when you are all fucked up,’” says the producer.
“He’s an artist, he grew up in a family of artists, he’s been
in movies before. P doesn’t sit in the crib all day sweating,
spitting out Henny on the wall. But for the sake of the video
it was dope. It was like, ‘I am so glad you are stabbing
the couch instead of walking into the club with a bunch
of bitches.’”
Return of the Mac is going to be distributed by Koch this
spring, but has already been used as a point of contention
in the high-profile war of words between 50 Cent and Koch-
affiliated Cam’ron, with Prodigy’s sales figures and contract
details discussed in heated on-air radio conversations
between the two. “People follow our every move, what
we’re doing on the business side, everything,” says Prodigy.
“It’s nothing new.”
Regardless of whether or not this album—or the
forthcoming HNIC sequel—brings Prodigy back to the gold
and platinum heights of earlier Mobb Deep projects,
cutting to the bone and reminiscing with Alchemist has
certainly revived his creativity. On “Legends,” one of the
album’s final tracks, Prodigy spits over a Dionne Warwick
sample last flipped by J Dilla on Donuts, and it’s one of his
most self-aware storytelling moments to date: Dirty little
fuck/ Learnin howto aimmy pee/ Older niggas in the hood
used to try and thug me/ Til pops gave me a knife, told me
handle my things/ And if not, when I came back, he would
handle me/ I put my first lil fear in niggas/ I was gassed/
Started hangin with the others that was on the same shit/
Had my first taste of gunfire early in my years/ Gang fights,
we was jumpin niggas/ We was just kids. Whereas the
rest of Return of the Mac celebrates the nihilism of The
Infamous, “Legends” adds a reflective storyteller’s edge to
P’s usual style. “We used to cut out of school and go to
Coney Island to record songs almost every day,” he says,
and there’s warmth in his tone as Prodigy speaks on the
Mobb’s wild, fake ID teenage days. “You grow out of a lot
of shit,” he says. “But you can never change.” &
PRODIGY
“HE’S AN ARTIST, HE GREW UP IN A FAMILY OF ARTISTS,
HE’S BEEN IN MOVIES BEFORE.
P DOESN’T SIT IN THE CRIB ALL DAY SWEATING,
SPITTING OUT HENNY ON THE WALL.
BUT FOR THE SAKE OF THE VIDEO IT WAS DOPE.
IT WAS LIKE, ‘I AM SO GLAD YOU ARE STABBING
THE COUCH INSTEAD OF WALKING INTO THE CLUB WITH
A BUNCH OF BITCHES.’” - ALCHEMIST
114 THE FADER
PHOTOGRAPHY STEPHEN DUPONT TEXT JACQUES MENASCHE
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Portraits from Kabul
THE FADER 115
116 THE FADER THE FADER 117
118 THE FADER THE FADER 119
120 THE FADER THE FADER 121
122 THE FADER THE FADER 123
O
n March 13, 2006—the day Stephen Dupont made these
photographs—the big picture in Kabul was more bombs,
more drugs and more poverty. It’s an old story by now: the
foreign promise unfulfilled, the failed reforms, a country
immune to money, schools and eight-part programs,
always reverting to its savage nature. It didn’t help that
Stephen and I had spent the better part of the previous
three weeks in a mental hospital. Whatever other effects
that may have had, it turned this city into a sort of violent burlesque of junkies,
electroshock patients and amputees.
This body of work is not about the big picture. It’s about all the small ones, the
16 particular, like-no-one-elses you see here. As journalists we use individuals
as emblems, symbols, small faces to make big judgments. But obviously, any
single Afghan, any single story, is more ambiguous, murkier than that. Take the
man I met at the orthopedic hospital six hours before these images were shot.
About 40 years old, he was fromMadianshar. I’d been there once in 2001, a kind
of Wild West ghost town over which the Northern Alliance and the retreating
Taliban were trading missiles. That day, listening to the whistling shells, the
journalists hunkered down inside a yellow house. It might have been
his, this house, the one that every night he ringed
with nine landmines for protection. Every morning he
dug them up again. But one morning, not thinking, he
dug up only eight. The ninth he stepped on, blowing both his legs off.
“We have an expression for this,” the doctor in the hospital said slyly. “He dug
his hole…then he jumped into it.”
What does this story tell us? Neither nothing nor everything. And that’s the
way it usually is. Having been in many places where pictures were taken, many
times I’d seen the images that emerged and didn’t recognize them. Inevitably
they made the incidental appear central, manipulated light and angle to overstate
drama, honed in on every spot of violence and destruction until they completely
erased the less photogenic truth surrounding these places. In short, they had
almost no relation to the scenes that I myself had witnessed.
But there’s no slight of hand here. This is merely a record of how it was. The
images can’t convey how, ten minutes after we arrived, we were surrounded by a
hundred people pushing and pleading to get into the chair with the curtain that
Stephen had rented fromone of the local photographers. Howthe excitement
of the crowd would grow until it inevitably climaxed with a policeman swinging
a steel truncheon, chasing us farther down the road. But what the pictures
do convey, what they document, is that there is always a moment. The finger
pointed, the next subject selected, the die cast—and it didn’t matter if it was a
young boy, a cop, or a man with elephantitis. He sat in the chair and as if by some
secret signal the crowd went silent and the man squared himself toward the lens.
The cop checked his swing. The buses stopped. And the movement of the
world froze, as if anticipating its place in a volume some months later, out of
time, timeless.
These sessions unfolded over a cluster of locations within two hundred yards
of each other, in three hours, between 3 and 6 PM—roughly one picture every
two minutes. In the gap, these faces. The faces these 18 Afghans present to
you. They confound, rejecting every attempt to be tidily stored away in the
mental filing cabinet, yet strike that deep-timbered tone: recognition. It says,
I don’t know that man; I know that man. I don’t know that place; I know that
place. When I am—you are, he is—staring life in the eye, in the tripping shutter
of the camera, life blinks first. F
THE FADER 125
KABUL
PHOTOGRAPHY DOROTHY HONG STYLING MOBOLAJI DAWODU
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138 THE FADER THE FADER 139
140 THE FADER
King Sunny Ade Juju
Music (Mango 1982)
A real melter from a whole
’nother continent. Marie Ely
from Marfa, Texas first played
this for me. I had no idea King
Sunny was bringing the steel
guitar like this. Mr Demola
Adepoju definitely comes
at slide playing with a fresh
take on the original Hawaiian
style. “Eje Nlo Gba Ara Mi”
sounds like the past and the
future, uniquely blending
Nigerian music, slide guitar and
electronic dub effects. This
record looms like a mysterious
gateway to an unknown land
with a strange mist pouring out
of it.
The steel (Hawaiian slide) guitar is capable of producing magic and amazing sounds. It can move and float
within a piece of music like no other instrument, adding a mysterious mood to any recording. I was 22 when
my father bought me my first lap steel guitar up in Mendocino, California, a beautiful Hawaiian model from
the 1930s. I quickly felt the instrument’s incredible potential for creating motion; it could move like the sea
and cry like a seagull. I’ve actually met a man who can’t listen to the steel guitar because he gets seasick!
PS Will you, Dear Reader, record my next favorite? The lap steel guitar can be played to good effect almost
instantly, and in many ways, so please take up playing the steel guitar...and transform your world!
PPS David Gilmour’s slide playing just might be the reason Dark Side of the Moon is the biggest albumever.
Farmer Dave Scher is a Los Angeles-based musician and a former member of Beachwood Sparks and All Night Radio. He has played
and toured with artists including Jenny Lewis, Dios (Malos), the Like and the Tyde. He recently co-produced Vietnam’s self-titled
albumand Johnathan Rice’s upcoming release.
140 THE FADER
GP
VINYL ARCHEOLOGY
FINGER WAVES
THE TIMELESS, BOUNDARY-LESS LULLABIES OF THE STEEL GUITAR
THE FADER 141
Debashish Bhattacarya
Calcutta Slide-Guitar, Vol
3 (Riverboat Records 2005)
Debashish Bhattacharya once
said, “Onstage, when I get deep
into the raga, I forget everything.
First, I forget where I’m sitting.
Then I forget what I’m doing.
And, finally, I forget my name
and who I am.” Excellent!
Bhattacarya mixes the classical
musicality of the Indian ragas
with the Hawaiian slide guitar
sound he was exposed to when
he was three. He’s designed
several of his own instruments
that weave the two traditions
together. The result induces a
similar effect to Ravi Shankar’s
playing. Great listening all
around, though a little goes a
long way for me.
David Crosby If I Can
Only Remember My
Name (Atlantic 1971)
Hey you hippies, listen to
this. On this album, Jerry
Garcia’s beautiful pedal steel
guitar playing floats like a
whale/manatee and soars like a
falcon/eagle. Ethereal business.
The crowner for me is the
end section of “Laughing,” a
true moment of majesty and
purportedly one of Jerry’s own
favorite performances.
The Flying Burrito
Brothers The Gilded
Palace of Sin (A&M1969)
Sadly, “Sneeky” Pete Kleinow
just passed away in January.
An inspiration to all who came
after him, in his work with this
band—that included Gram
Parsons and Chris Hilman
of the Byrds—he expanded
the boundaries of pedal steel
playing, widening the style with
innovative technique and the
colorful use of fuzz and echo.
(It’s fitting he also did animation
and special effects on projects
like the original Gumby cartoons
and The Empire Strikes Back.)
Pete Drake The Amazing
and Incredible Pete
Drake (Starday 1965)
Some people don’t believe
it when they hear “Satisfied
Mind”—their brains can’t
handle it! Mr Drake was
a fixture on the Nashville
session circuit in the ’60s,
though here we see him
beating Peter Frampton, Bon
Jovi and everybody else to that
“talk box” sound by a decade.
But a talking pedal steel? OUT,
man! I tried to recreate one
and felt an electric current
coursing through the plastic
hose. I thought I was going to
get electrocuted. It’s also a bit
tough to travel around with,
but someday….
Santo & Johnny In the Still
of the Night (Canadian
American 1964)
The classic “Sleepwalk”
transcends its time and place
with its heavy mood. I don’t
think it’s possible to carry on
with business as usual when
this undeniable heart-melter
comes on. I first connected
to it when I was eight and
saw La Bamba. Check out the
powerful way it’s used in the
opening and closing scenes
of the film, but from then on
you might end up hearing the
cry of “RI-CHIE!!!!!!” every time
it plays.
Various Artists Hawaiian
Steel Guitar Classics 1927-
1938 (Arhoolie 1993)
This collection is a great way
to get into the sounds of the
original Hawaiian masters,
who played with a wild style
that beautifully combined skill,
finesse and humor. As a kid
I got this on cassette after
reading a review of it in my
mom’s copy of Entertainment
Weekly (it got an A+) that
connected these old recordings
with the “wacky” music used
in the original Bugs Bunny
cartoons. The sliding sound
was a huge fad in the 1930s,
and many companies did good
business making and selling lap
steel guitars. As 78rpm records
aren’t that convenient, comps
like these come in handy.
THE FADER 141
Beachwood Sparks Once
We Were Trees (Sub
Pop 2001)
Egomaniacal narcissistic
bastard? Perhaps, but this
album possesses the traits
we’re looking for. I tried a
pedal steel for the first time
with this one, recorded at J
Mascis’s house out in snowy
Massachusetts. A slip on some
black ice during a snowball
fight had me finishing the
album on crutches. Check
out “Juggler’s Revenge” for
the atmospheric pedal steel
washes amidst Mascis’s guitar
leads, the shimmering textures
on “The Goodnight Whistle”
and the bridge in the middle
of “You Take the Gold”
where you will hear some
liftoff achieved.
142 THE FADER
The Blow Poor Aim:
Love Songs (K)
Eric told me the mailman
just brought him the
TENTH ANNIVERSARY
reissue of Baz Luhrmann’s
Romeo + Juliet soundtrack.
Just, like, yesterday I was
a teenager watching that
flick in an actual theater
on an actual date, fumbling
around under some(one
else’s) actual mall-bought
clothing. Portland duo the
Blow didn’t wait ten years
to reissue their awkward
and amazing Poor Aim: Love
Songs EP (complete with six
extra, mostly unnecessary
remixes of the original’s
lonelyheart dance-pop) but
I still find myself drawing
parallels between the two.
Did I mention I’m writing
this on Valentine’s Day?
And feeling old? Is this what
it sounds like when doves
cry? NB
Dolly Parton Jolene (Legacy)
There’s a grungy Mexican joint in LA where you can get a
cheap and deadly margarita and spackle-worthy refried beans
while staring at a blacklight poster of Dolly on the wall. It’s like
living in Fernando Lamas’s ribcage and if it ever gets gentrified
with Patrón, I’ll never go back because that kitschy, neon-
saturated portrait will have been tainted by d-bags. That’s how
I felt about Jolene. Its title track and “I Will Always Love You”
were paled by countless covering twits (Jack White excepted),
until I listened to this remaster. I’d forgotten how the simple
arrangements—meandering slide guitar, drawling bass, brushed
snares—all bathed Parton’s angelic twang in a Smoky Mountain
sunset and howher plainspoken lyrics took on the weight of the
world through her weary, yet resolute voice. Listening again,
I remember Dolly didn’t get covered because she was tacky
emblem, but because she’s a brilliant singer and songwriter. PM
GP
MIXTAPE
MUSICS
COMPILED BY NICK BARAT, LINDSEY CALDWELL, ERIC DUCKER, SAM HOCKLEY-SMITH,
EDDIE “STATS” HOUGHTON, STEVE LOWENTHAL, PETE MACIA, SAM RICHARDS
Curses! “Hungry
4 Love” 12-inch
(Institubes)
Luca Venezia has a talent
for making music I like by
using elements of music
I hate, appropriating the
tackiest rave sounds into
his bass-heavy mishmash
of house-grime-whatever
party music. Made under
his new moniker Curses!,
this single is full of subtle
layers that build into
massive climaxes that are
a little more unhinged
and loose than Venezia’s
material as Drop the Lime.
It’s these dense electronic
peaks that elevate the
music beyond good song
status and into CERTIFIED
JAM territory. SHS
the dance floor, lots of
blow and adultery are
afoot and Too $hort just
pulled up in a DeLorean
wayback machine. Despite
the “soul sessions” heading,
this is not so much dirty
disco as dirty dance rock
alongside aggro acid house
and Jimi Hendrix samples.
What it really feels like
is an accidental Disco D
tribute, demonstrating just
how much his ghettotech
aesthetic has become the
go-to club sound from
Philly to France. To sum
up: hug it out, you little
bitches. ESH
Various Artists
Stax 50: A 50th
Anniversary
Celebration (Stax)
50 years ago the brother
and sister team of Jim
Stewart and Estelle
Axton started the Stax
(St + Ax) record label in
Memphis, TN. Born from
Satellite Records, Stax
landed 167 R&B singles
on the Billboard Hot
100 charts that you not
only know by heart, but
probably have burned up
a wedding dancefloor to.
Otis Redding, the Staple
Sisters, Sam & Dave, Rufus
Thomas, Jean Knight, Eddie
Floyd and Isaac Hayes
are all on this two disc,
must-have chronicle of
Memphis soul and R&B.
Mazel tov! LC
Stretch Armstrong
T5 Soul Sessions Six
(Triple Five Soul)
Though built mainly from
modern remixes and
blog re-edits, Stretch
Armstrong’s new mix
recalls Manhattan’s
excessive early ’80s:
“The Dominatrix Sleeps
Tonight” is the hot new
12-inch, chopped-up
pieces of Eddy Grant’s
“Electric Avenue” litter
B Cause Super Disco
Hyphy (fouronefunk.
com)
The craziest thing about
Super Disco Hyphy is not
that B Cause seamlessly
blends some of the best
Bay rappity raps with a
lot of great disco, but
that in doing so he has
re-imagined Northern
California as the birthplace
of hip-hop. Suddenly
“Tell Me When to Go”
becomes less hyphy and
more late-’80s block
party via a loping funk
bassline. Other songs are
even more discocentric,
which is totally fine by me,
considering that disco is
sorta like hyphy’s uncle
who is getting kind of fat
and wears the same shirt
every day but is still cool
and will let you ghostride
his Camaro. What I’m
trying to say is that pretty
soon hyphy will be fat
Uncle Disco and we’ll
all be listening to trance
rap. SHS
144 THE FADER
Barrington Levy
Englishman
(Greensleeves)
Since veteran roots label
Greensleeves are about
to celebrate their 30th
anniversary, this 1979
classic is no doubt the first
drop of what promises to
be a torrential downpour
of reggae reissues. If so,
it’s an auspicious jump
off. Englishman is arguably
Barrington’s best albumand
every other tune (“Sister
Carol,” “Look Youthman,”
“Don’t Fuss Nor Fight”) is
a genre-defining proto-
dancehall hit. But the best
moments are the awesome
and spooky departures
from Levy’s usual MO. The
thunderous echo on “Send
a Moses” and “If You Give
to Me” are revelations
precisely because they’re
so clearly outside the
overall dancehall thrust of
Barrington’s style. ESH
David Rodigan and Sting International The Kings of
Reggae (BBE)
The real genius of BBE’s expert-curated Kings of… series is
hownon-definitive it is. Instead of the middle-ground consensus,
the selectors make the call on what they think the essentials
of a genre are. So for the reggae disc from the encyclopedic
Englishman, David Rodigan, you do get the chestnuts “Police
& Thieves” and “The Harder They Come,” but they slide in
amongst the recent Germaican piece “Caan Hold Us Down” from
Gentleman and John Holt’s righteous “Police in Helicopter.”
Whereas Sting International, the producer behind many of
Shaggy’s hits, keeps it strictly ’80s. Most of the tracks on this
collection didn’t make it to the old The Story of Jamaican Music
box set (slept on!), but after hearing Marcia Griffiths repeatedly
intone Surely we’ll never die like it’s killing her on “Dreamland,”
you’ll curse the dark forces that conspired to keep it away from
you for so long. ED
GP
other hand, are HOUSE
MUSIC, recorded live at
Café Mambo in Ibiza. Sure,
the soulful thump of the
Dennis Ferrer and Peven
Everett jams aren’t really
an everyday listen for
this kid, but damn if Vega
doesn’t get me going all
night long/ say what? with
this one. NB
Calvin Johnson & The
Sons of the Soil self-
titled (K)
When you’re the King
of Olympia, WA and
Creator of the Indie
Rock—as Calvin Johnson
is—you don’t really need
to do anything new, so
he’s doesn’t. Prompted
by Khaela Maricich of the
Blow and Jason Anderson,
Johnson formed the Sons
of the Soil and re-recorded
hits from his back catalog
with a live band of his
K-related progeny. The
resulting album is the
messiah mingling with
the masses, moaning over
tunes more raucous and
gregarious than any of
his previous recordings.
Johnson hasn’t changed,
but the tunes have, for the
better. PM
Various Artist The
American Tapes 500
Box (American Tapes)
For the last 16 years Wolf
Eyes’s John Olson has been
putting out handmade
LPs, CD-Rs and cassettes
on his American Tapes
label—making it America’s
premier source for cracked
electronics. Some releases
are limited to a couple
hundred copies, others,
five or less. For the label’s
500th release, Olson
compiled a box of 19
CD-Rs, one DVD, a one
sided 7-inch, a cassette
and a poster featuring all
new material. Each box is
handmade and features
one of a kind artwork by
Olson. “In classic Michigan
form we took the joke
WAAAY too far,” says
Olson. “I wanted AM 500
be me and [wife] Tovah’s
first kid.” There’s always
the 1000 box. SL
Louie Vega Mix The
Vibe: For the Love
of King Street (King
Street)
It’s a little weird seeing
house used as a catchall
phrase these days. Cool
jacket Ed Banger tracks,
jittery electro squelches
from West London
basements, sped-up
Baltimore rap loops…I can
dig on the populism that
sort of usage implies, but it
doesn’t always feel like the
right fit. The 28 tracks on
this new mix by Master at
Work Louie Vega, on the
MIXTAPE
MUSICS
Cajun Dance
Party “The Next
Untouchable/
Buttercups” 7-inch
(Way Out West)
Followers of the Lafayette
folk tradition will be
disappointed to find that
Cajun Dance Party is not a
zydeco fiddle troupe, but a
fresh-faced five-piece from
London. So fresh, in fact,
that in their home country
they are presently barred
from drinking, driving or
voting. And yet they deliver
two portions of breathy
pop classicism with the
assurance of men (and
one polka-dotted woman)
who have been exercising
their democratic right since
Thatcher. Felt and Pulp are
just two of the one-syllable
bands whose dreamy jangle
they resemble, and whose
spirit of indie haplessness
they look to transcend. SR
DJ Technics “He
Loves Me” (white)
The Jill Scott original is
kind of a snoozer, but
Technics transforms
it into a club anthem
in the tradition of the
best soulful disco/house
classics. Bmore tracks
are certainly a dime a
dozen at the moment,
but this manages to
transcend being just a
remix. So crucial.
Klaxons “Golden
Skans (Erol Alkan’s
Ekstra Spektral
Rework)” (DGC)
Erol is my favorite
producer in the
burgeoning European
electro scene, because
he doesn’t let technology
get in the way of his
musical instincts and
really knows how to let a
track build. He is proving
himself to be a master
of reinvention and this
Klaxons mix might be his
best yet.
Teddybears ft Neneh
Cherry “Yours To
Keep” (Big Beat)
I was a really big Neneh
Cherry fan back in the
day, and her second
album Homebrew was
severely slept on. This
has some really sweet
harmonies over a
groove pretty similar
to the Teddy’s own
“Punkrocker.” Good to
hear Neneh back in top
form.
The Glass “Come
Alive (Stretch
Armstrong remix)”
(Plant)
Stretch gives the Glass
a New York freestyle
treatment that suits
them perfectly. This
track is really addictive—
I can’t stop playing it. I
even find myself falling
asleep with the chorus
going round and round
in my head. Crack attack
indeed!
Soft Tigers “Mr Ice
Cream” (Bang Gang)
Sometimes it gets so hot
all you can do is sit in the
shade with a Pimms and
lemonade with cucumber/
mint/strawberry garnish.
And then some band will
come along and put that
feeling into a rugged-ass
rump shaker of a track
that’ll have all the kids
dancing some crazy dance
that’s even girlier than the
drink they were holding.
Tepr “Minuit Jacuzzi
(datA remix)” (white)
Not much room for
standing around when
this comes on, and if you
insist on it, you’re likely
to have your drink spilled
all over your new jeans.
There’s like four bars of
intro, then straight into
fat leads and choppy
sounding chords, no
mucking around. Another
French dude who’s killing
it on the electronique tip.
C’est tres dope, no?
KIM “Party Machini”
(Modular)
Sydney-based Presets dude
Kim dishes out a track that
makes you feel like you’ve
been blended up in a giant
piña colada and served up
in a steel drum to some
alien who drinks it and
then pees you out into the
cosmic reaches of outer
space. Serious fun.
Kid Sister “Pro Nails”
(Fool’s Gold)
We’re definitely feeling
this one at the minute.
Cool pitched down vocals
at the beginning, gnarly
A-Trak scratching in the
background and some
sweet half-time switch-ups
in the beat. We caught
A-Trak when he was in
Sydney. His fingers are so
fast! He was definitely that
kid in school who tapped
you on the shoulder and
when you turned around,
no one was there.
Jessie Rose & Sinden
Me Mobile EP (Made
To Play)
I don’t know anyone else
who has this, and I cant
figure out why. A jacking
midtempo house beat
with a retarded bassline
and a toasting Vybz Kartel
on top of it?! Rose and
Sinden are on the top of a
short list of people really
keeping me interested in
music.
JJ Fad “Eenie Meenie
Beats” (Ruthless)
The last cut on the pop
side of Supersonic is a huge
secret weapon. This is a
reprise of their supersonic
motivating rhymes that
we all know and love, but
with a huge flip of said
script. Ol’ girl comes in
with her Twista tongue
and really gets the joint
shaking, and then Dre
goes ahead and tries to
make my head explode
by chopping up the vocals
in a stuttery fashion.
Bananas!
Natasha ft Clipse, “So
Sick” (Jive)
I am calling it right now,
this is the “Me and You”
of 2007. Super bass heavy
beat, a pop singer/rapper
attempt that doesn’t
really cut the cake (don’t
mean to bag on girl, just
saying…), and then Clipse
going in hard on their guest
appearance. This song
makes me feel like summer
is already here. Or it could
be that I live in Texas,
where climate change
doesn’t exist.
Various Artists Booty
Shake Vol 2 (white)
The first time I played this
out in a long while, your
boy got nothing but girls
going nanas over the Miami
bass version of “Thong
Song”...sucks to be me.
Another secret weapon
on here is the booty remix
of TX anthem “Sippin on
Some Syrup” from UGK
and Three 6 Mafia—there’s
some corny, Halloween-like
arrangements on it, but the
bass is lowest of the low.
146 THE FADER
BAG RAIDERS
Sydney, Australia’s Bag Raiders have made
a name for themselves in the Oz indie scene
thanks to wild club gigs (often blending live
electro performance and MicroKorg riffery with
good ol’ fashioned DJing) and crafty remixes for
their countrymen Muscles and the Valentinos.
Give a shout to Chris, Gus and Jack at myspace.
com/bagraiders.
PRINCE KLASSEN
When he’s not buying vinyl for Austin’s
Waterloo Records, you can catch lone star
Prince Klassen rocking the Beauty Bar and the
Whisky Bar each weekend, as well as co-DJing
the fun monthlies PRPL DRNK and Swoll.
Check himat centralbooking.blogspot.comand
myspace.com/princemotherfuckinklassen.
DJ ELI
Eli Escobar has been a NYC nightlife fixture for
nearly a decade, spinning everywhere from the
old Stretch and Bobbito radio show on WKCR to
velvet-roped havens like Bungalow 8. He’s also an
on-point producer, dropping indie instrumentals
for the likes of MF Doom and now crafting
uptempo remixes for clubs worldwide. Download
Eli’s rarities at outsidebroadcast.blogspot.com,
and say hello at myspace.com/eliesco.
GP
JEDI MIND PIX
RECOMMENDED LISTENING
FAVORED TUNES FROM FAVORITE DJS
148 THE FADER
T
hough their
MySpace page
would have
you believe
otherwise, there are
precisely zero females in
Van She Technologies.
Instead VST is comprised
of Michael Di Francesco
and Nick Routledge, one
half of the Australian
outfit Van She. Under the
Van She Technologies
name, Di Francesco and
Routledge create thrilling
remixes as confusing and
unpredictable as drunk
sex. VST infuse their tracks
with newwave, house and
electro sensibilities to make
hyper-saturated filth—
drums stutter and bounce,
while synthetic sounds
writhe on top of them.
There’s some minimalism
at play here, but the sound
is thick and heavy like a
’57 Chevy.
In their remixing, Van
She Tech add a strutting,
confrontational element
to the originals. In VST’s
hands, the chilly “Are
You the One”—from
their countrymen and
Modular labelmates, the
Presets—takes on the thrill
of a knife fight on a New
York City dancefloor. When
reconstructing like-minded
English groups the Klaxons
and New Young Pony
Club, Van She Tech make
“Gravity’s Rainbow” and
“Ice Cream” prance and
then pound.
Drum machines and
synthesizers are a definite
part of Van She Tech’s
arsenal, but there’s also
plenty of live (if highly
processed) guitar as well.
Similar to their roles in Van
She, Routledge handles
the computers, guitars and
effects, while Di Francesco
plays synths and pretty
much everything else. “We
usually jump around a lot
to create a vibe,” Routledge
says of their creative
process. “But never on
the mixing desk. If we
have one, that is.”
Though they continue
to accept new remix
challenges, including
tracks by MSTRKRFTand
Tiga, the pair is trying to
concentrate on finishing
the first full-length Van
She album. Expect the
newjams to sound “more
party, weird party,” as Di
Francesco puts it. “The
kind of party you have
with yourself with the
music turned up in a really
dark roomin the middle
of the forest with just the
TVflicker, like a newage
campfire.”
The recognition of
Van She Technologies’
handiwork comes amidst
the recent burst of
Australian electro-rock-
dance bands, all of whom
seemto be remixing each
other’s tracks into larger
than life, Technicolor
sound extravaganzas.
“There are a lot of dirty,
heavy people in both
Melbourne and Sydney,”
Di Francesco says. “I also
think everybody here just
worked out that you can
use distortion pedals on
synthesizers.”
EVANSHAMOON
GP
BEAT CONSTRUCTION
DISTORTION DOWN UNDER
REMIXERS VAN SHE TECHNOLOGIES BEAT UP THE BEAT
PHOTOGRAPHY JAMES BRICKWOOD
148 THE FADER
150 THE FADER
Trago Silver Tequila
A few months ago, when it
was winter, two well-dressed
and classy ladies in fitted
black pants swung through
the office with some kinda
Inspector Gadget-style briefcase
(lots of snaps and some sort
of polyurethane coating.
Also a ginger-haired niece
named Penny, yar har har!) in
which there was a curiously
rectangular bottle of Trago
Silver. They also brought some
dubious low carb geranium-
flavored Snapple to “chase
the dragon,” which I politely
declined for reasons that I (and
a signed NDA) can’t disclose
right now. At any rate, the
Sisterhood of the Traveling
(Black) Pants informed me
that in taste tests all over the
world, Trago beats Patrón
like a fat kid beats a Twinkie
at the 10AM low-blood sugar
recess period. Did I believe
them? Have you tried to
blindfold yourself with two
cups of magic juice at 7:42 PM
and assumed anything that
happened could be considered
definitive and/or legitimate? It’s
a celebration, bitches!!!! AW
Appleton Estate Reserve
Jamaica Rum
It’s hard for me to talk
meaningfully about Appleton’s.
Not because it’s all been
said before—though I guess
it has since they’re roughly
2.5 centuries deep in the
game—it’s because it’s actually
the only thing I drink. You can
explain the color blue to a
blind person if you’re eloquent
enough, but how do you
describe blue if all you can see
is blue? I can only tell you my
story: I used to be the type of
girly-drink drunk who imbibed
cuba libres cause the Coke
masked the terrible taste of
the alcohol. Then one evening
I was with [Ed: cough] Sean
Paul and crew at the Caymanas
Club in uptown Kingston and
realized the rum itself tasted
damn good. I would say it’s
actually tastier than the Coke
except that with Appleton &
Coke it’s clearly a mission, not
a competition. Since tasting
the color blue I’m a one-drink
drunk and much happier for
it. ESH
Horin Gekkeikan Sake
Sometimes you go to the local
liquor spot and ask for a classy
dry junmai sake and dude is all:
“We have some shoju!” and
then, “Also, sake is made with
rice—I think?—and this one
should be good?” PS to the
World: if you work in a liquor
store, nothing should end in
a question mark. I needed
definitive answers, Madison
House Liquors! At any rate,
I kept upping the price point
on the shelf and somehow,
miraculously a phantom ninja
bokkle of white mystery
Horin Gekkeikan Sake arrived
on my desk. I’m not saying I
remember the circumstances
that led me to this Moment
of Redemption, but right now,
Intern Sam is sitting at my
desk talking about the merits
of Pacific Northwest Bra Rap,
a German book about Can
and Being John Malkovich, and
I am like, into it? I don’t know
anymore because my fingers
can’t feel the keyboard—this
shit is playing glissandi on my
teeth!—but folkery of the
Folk World—I believe it! AW
Level Vodka
Super premium vodka brands
have sprung up all over
the place like mushrooms
and/or locusts and we, like
the blinded proles that we
are, just keep paying more
and more cash to taste, well,
nothing. The folks at Level aim
to teach us journalists about
adding “seasonal flavors”
to our vodka in the hopes
of sparking a flavor massive
trend with you folks in the
humanworld. Witness: the
Level people packaged up
our bottle with goji berries
(word to the wise: they’re
full of antioxidants!), fennel
seeds and yuzu. And okay,
after we got over the initial
shookness at having our very
own in-house sachet of goji
berries, we were like mad
scientists, infusing our vodka
with all sorts of thises and
thats. Here’s the magic drink
we came up with: one part
Level infused with goji berries
plus a quarter teaspoon yuzu
extract. Chew on fennel
seeds. Rinse. Repeat. Try at
your own risk—and pack the
dental floss! LC
GP
MIXTAPE
DRANKY DRANKS
COMPILED BY LINDSEY CALDWELL, EDDIE
“STATS” HOUGHTON, ALEX WAGNER
PHOTOGRAPHY NIKOLAS KOENIG
150 THE FADER
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i .·ovL· e.vo¡ i .v··e..v ..o·v..e.¡
152 THE FADER
GP
EVENTS
FADER 43 IS#UE RELEASE PARTY
ELECTRIFIED CLASSICS WITH THE STARS OF FADER 43
• Last month, we jetted (er, Jet Blued) out to LA to enjoy the warm(er) weather and
visit the home of the artists covered in our story for FADER #43 on electrified soul music.
We were jazzed to get Ty & Kory, Ta’raach, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Dudley Perkins,
Blu Jemz and DJ Pubes to break out the jams in celebration of the issue’s release.
Despite the overzealous door staff (Dudes! Take a deep breath!), we had one heck of a
time, and those of you who were there—and those who missed it—should gather round
and reminisce with us on that winter night in LA, where a sexy glass bonfire kept us
warm and the Bud Select poured like rain.
PHOTOGRAPHY ROBERT YAGER
THE FADER 153
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154 THE FADER
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.
HEAD START
CORA www.coranyc.com
LACOSTE www.lacoste.com
SWAY
CATHERINE MALANDRINO www.catherinemalandrino.com
D&G www.dolcegabbana.it
DKNY JEANS www.dknyjeans.com
H&M www.hm.com
ISSEY MIYAKE www.isseymiyake.co.jp
JC DE CASTELBAJAC Available at N Harlem in NYC and
David Lawrence in Seattle
GP
STOCKISTS
WHERE TO BUY THE
LOOKS YOU LOVE
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NEWYORK HAT COMPANY www.newyorkhatco.com
OPENING CEREMONY www.openingceremony.us
RAY-BAN www.rayban.com
UNIQLO www.uniqlo.com
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PHOTOGRAPHY MATT EI CH


F ALREADY POPPIN thefederation’s planet rock GEN
Talk to the members of Bay rap collective the Federation individually, and each one will drop a variation on the same cheesy metaphor about leaving Virgin Records to release their new album It’s Whateva on Warner Brothers. “Maaan, Virgin was like a Pinto…” with the current deal being a Bentley, Benz, etc. A much closer representation of the Federation’s supermassive approach is the gleaming white Cadillac SUV riding on the back of a gleaming white flatbed tow truck while 15 people hang off the sides and pop collars on the roofs of both vehicles in the video for their lead single “18 Dummy”—but even dudes riding a truck riding another truck is too earthbound a visual. The Federation makes music to ghostride spaceships to. “When I first heard ‘18 Dummy,’ it sounded like rap meets rave,” says Doon Coon, one of the group’s three MCs alongside Goldie Gold and Stressmatic. In the song’s first minute,
listeners are bombarded by CHOOM CHOOM CHOOM bass kicks, spastic blinks of melody, and a computer-voice chorus from Federation producer Rick Rock, all underneath a free-associating verse by Coon that references El Niño, various Northern California neighborhoods, serpents, baby powder, Red Lobster clam chowder, Remember the Titans, kites and the Triton synthesizer, before unexpectedly breaking into song: If you sleazy all you beezies say, We loooove you Cooooon…. It’s some out- there shit, even in a regional rap scene where rainbow-tinted goggles and ecstasy grimaces are considered pretty normal. Speaking between drinks at a WB barbecue (“Steven Spielberg just walked by, Seal…hella rock bands.”) Rick Rock is nonchalant about his group’s inventiveness. “That’s just the beauty of this group that I got—I don’t know if they’re the tightest rappers or if they’re not, but
collectively it’s special with me and them,” he says. “I could go to Pluto, and they’ll be right there on Pluto, like, Let’s get down. That’s exciting for me.” As a hired gun, Rock has crafted hit singles for the likes of Busta, Mariah, Jigga and their platinum ilk, but he uses Federation songs as his real pop playground. Perhaps more striking than “18 Dummy” is “Stunna Glasses at Night,” where Rock jacks Corey Hart’s ’80s nugget “Sunglasses at Night” (“I even got a white boy to sing the chorus,” he boasts) and flips it into a hyphy theme song. It’s unabashedly, shockingly catchy—and as such, it’s one of It’s Whatever’s most adventurous moments. “It’s not finna go pop, it is already!” says Doon Coon. “At first I was kind of scared people would think we were selling out, but…fuck these motherfuckers, man! This is gonna be big.” NICK BARAT
©2006 Samsung Electronics America, Inc. All rights reserved. Samsung is a registered trademark of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.
imagine up to 35 hours of battery life Z5 www.samsungfreedom.com
POLOWDA DON
“It Don’t Stop”
pg 80
JimCrow Crow’s Nest (Sony 1999)
First off, Polow claiming that the debut from
his old group is on the same level as Outkast’s
early albums and Goodie Mob’s Soul Food is
ridiculous. (Very little in this world is on the
same level as early Outkast and Soul Food.)
That being said, there are some definite cool
breezes on here, filled with king-size hooks
and eazy/sleazy production from Jazze Pha,
Mr DJ and Organized Noise. ED
Gwen Stefani “Luxurious (Zone 4
remix)” (unreleased 2005) & Fergie
“Glamorous” (Interscope 2006)
Polow was commissioned to remix the fourth
single from Stefani’s Love.Angel.Music.Baby and
next-leveled it by adding jetsetter panache.
Stefani used some bogus excuse to reject it,
but Polow’s take impressed Interscope head
Jimmy Iovine so much that it got him a gig
as the only other producer on Fergie’s solo
album besides Will.i.am. In the end Polow’s
track for the “Luxurious” remix (with the
already existing Ludacris guest verse) became
the class-conflicted “Glamorous.” So in effect,
Stefani’s brush-off resulted in Fergie’s mall hair
in the song’s video and “London Bridge” as
well. Nicely done. ED
Rich Boy ft Andre 3000, JimJones,
Nelly, Murphy Lee and the Game
“Throw Some D’s (remix)”
(Interscope 2006)
A national congress of rappers got a piece of
this star-making single that Polow produced.
On the remix co-produced with Lil Jon, the
false minimalism of the original beat remains,
but the playground touches are replaced with
cyber swooshes, making it pointless to put
Daytons on the Cadillac’s wheels since they’re
just going to fold up before the car blasts off
into hyperspace. In response to the beat, the
newly revitalized Andre 3000 takes off in such
a lyrical sprint that it takes a minute for the
present to catch up to the future. ED
156 THE FADER
BILL CALLAHAN
“The Rising”
pg 72
Smog Julius Caesar (Drag City 1993)
“Stick In the Mud” is Julius Caesar’s perfect
asshole. Sung over a scratchy riff and a
sarcastically snooty cello, Bill Callahan cuts
himself down (as usual), but this time he takes
you, Lou Reed and the album he’s ending
down with him, with all the effort of a half-
raised eyebrow: There’s nothin I’d rather see/
Than for you to fail/ And where is the beauty/
That I once had?/ Where is the beauty/ I had
just once?/ I hate songs with questions in them/
I feel like I’m becoming a stick in the mud/ I feel
like I’m becoming a Lou Reed—Mistrial in the
mud. DA
Smog Knock Knock (Drag City 1999)
Back in ’97, Bill Callahan ditched the city for
Prosperity, South Carolina (pop 1,047) with
his then-good-time-gal Chan Marshall. As the
story goes anyway, Marshall was eventually
chased from Bill by evil spirits. Out of that
break-up came Cat Power’s Moon Pix and
Smog’s Knock Knock. But the epic bum-out
that every fan saw coming never came.
Running more on resignation than heartache,
Knock Knock is a rural hip-swinger, complete
with a kiddie choir that opens Let’s move to
the country, and closes I hope you found your
husband and a father to your children. DA
Smog A River Ain’t Too Much To
Love (Drag City 2005)
Recently I was talking with a friend on IM
about various Smog records and somewhere
along the way he said, in three successive IM
bubbles, something kind of perfect: “That’s
why River works…Hooks…So awkward.”
The point is it takes a tricky and awesome
kind of artist to make an album full of hooks,
and to have those hooks make the songs
awkward, and to have the awkwardness
of the songs be what makes the album so
incredibly good. WW
PRODIGY
“Hard Times”
pg 108
Prodigy HNIC (Loud 2000)
P’s solo debut is uneven as a whole, but the
gold is worth sifting for even if you aren’t
a sucker for late-’90s Nautica jacket jamz.
“Keep It Thoro” might be the most definitive
Prodigy song not called “Shook Ones Pt II,”
the Cormega collab “Three” shows off P’s
underrated gift for storytelling detail (Fuck a
cab/ Let’s take cracked-out Yolanda’s Saab),
and “Diamond” even shows off some very
early Just Blaze board work—but the real
highlight is “You Can Never Feel My Pain”, a
heartbreakingly candid account of throwing
IV poles at doctors and growing up “cold
hearted” from sickle cell anemia. NB
Mobb Deep “Cobra” (white 2005)
Though the beat got more recognition as an
instrumental favorite for mixtape soldiers (50,
Peedi and Budden all took turns murderizing
it), the DJ-exclusive “Cobra” was originally
intended to quell breakup rumors (Just when
you thought it was over/ The Mobb came
around and put the game in a cobra) after the
duo’s sudden departure from Jive Records.
The wobbly face-smacker is a perfect
testament to the creative chemistry between
Prodigy, Havoc and honorary Mobbster
Alchemist, who provided the beat. Check
YouTube for a European Vacation clip of all
three performing it on tour, complete with
bow-throwing caucasians galore. NB
Mobb Deep “Capitol P, Capitol H”
(G-Unit/Interscope 2006)
Some would argue that Prodigy’s “V-S-O-P,
A-S-A-P” flow on Mobb Deep’s recent Blood
Money album is proof that his best work is
behind him. But when he’s not talking about
being “heaven’s gift, heavy on the wrist,” he
drops abstract, antisocial jewels: My baby
moms left me, cuz she couldn’t put up with my
foul attitude/ I’m so fucked up, and I love it/ It
got me to where I’m at dunn/ If I had to do it
over, I wouldn’t change a thing. NB
P
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(B
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A
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), M
A
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T
E
IC
H
(P
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O
W
D
A
D
O
N
), L
A
U
R
E
N
F
L
E
IS
H
M
A
N
(P
R
O
D
IG
Y
).
GP
APPENDIX
REAL LIVE MUSIC!
UNSTOPPABLE COPPABLES FROM ABOVE AND BEYOND THIS ISSUE’S PAGES.
COMPILED BY DANIEL ARNOLD, NICK BARAT, ERIC DUCKER, WILL WELCH
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Björk
Interpol

the Jesus and Mary Chain

Arctic Monkeys
Jarvis Cocker • Sonic Youth • Faithless • DJ Shadow • Peeping Tom • Brazilian Girls
Peaches • Felix Da Housecat • Rufus Wainwright • Stephen Marley featuring Jr. Gong • Nickel Creek
Digitalism• Tokyo Police Club • Comedians of Comedy • El-P • Julieta Venegas • Gogol Bordello
Benny Benassi • Circa Survive • Silversun Pickups • Gillian Welch • Tilly and the Wall
David Guetta • Amy Winehouse • Noisettes • Evil Nine • Busdriver • Brother Ali
FRIDAY APRIL 27
Red Hot Chili Peppers
the Arcade Fire

Tiësto

the Decemberists
the Good, the Bad and the Queen • Travis • Kings of Leon • Gotan Project • the Rapture
LCD Soundsystem• Blonde Redhead • the New Pornographers • the Black Keys • Regina Spektor • Hot Chip • MSTRKRFT • !!!
Peter Bjorn and John • Ozomatli • Ghostface Killah • Fountains of Wayne • Jack’s Mannequin • Sparklehorse • the Nightwatchman
Roky Erickson & the Explosives • Cornelius • CocoRosie • Andrew Bird • the Frames • the Fratellis • Justice
Pharoahe Monch • Fields • the Cribs • Girl Talk • Mike Relm• DJ Heather • Yeva • Pop Levi
SATURDAY APRIL 28
On the
Main Stage
Rage Against the Machine
Manu Chao

Air

Happy Mondays

Paul Van Dyk
Willie Nelson • Crowded House • the Roots • Kaiser Chiefs • Damien Rice • Placebo
Explosions in the Sky • Konono No.1 • Richie Hawtin • Soulwax Nite Versions • Infected Mushroom• Lily Allen • Amos Lee
José González • Spank Rock • Rodrigo Y Gabriela • Against Me! • Ratatat • VNV Nation • Junior Boys • the Feeling
the Kooks • CSS • Klaxons • Tapes ‘n Tapes • Teddybears • Lupe Fiasco • Mando Diao • Grizzly Bear • Mika
the Coup • the Avett Bros. • Anathallo • Fair to Midland
SUNDAY APRIL 29
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Sound System
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