Thursday, September 25, 2008

Songshine: Open Mic show in Trevor's Edge

Yeah folks, waz de scene? Yuh boy not as brisk with the posts these days but that will be rectified eventually. The development and promotion of Hitchhiker's Guide to Uwi aka my album has been taking up a significant amount of my time since strangely, I happen to be attempting to make a quality product (go figure). In spite of that, I've somehow managed to make time to take in the latest album by TI called "Paper Trail". Don't ask me how I managed to get my hands on it but it's worth the buy if you're wondering and if you're still in doubt you can check out two songs from the album here and here.

Recently it's been coming to me fervently - like those mosquitoes with dengue, that to get yourself out there as an artiste, you really need to hit up those open mic shows in Trinidad. It may be surprising to some but there are numerous one mic shows being held periodically in various 'holes' all over sweet T+T and almost all of them are patronized by a dedicated, hardcore following. In fact, some of the organizers of these shows have become very enterprising in their marketing since I guess they realize that numerous potentials have zero clue of their existence and thus they have begun to wield the power of Facebook for good. Of this set, Songshine is one of the more established.

As a show, Songshine features a win-win host of characteristics; it's located in a decent-looking, air-conditioned bar (Trevor's edge) that is several rungs above the 'hawk and spit' level, features soft lighting on stage that works to great effect and is hosted by none other than Gillian Moor, who is totally dedicated. Songshine also has a very interesting recurring theme in that at each show, which occurs monthly, a different artiste/group is venerated as the main act. Previously featured acts include OzyMajiq, Sheldon Blackman and the local rap group Spotrushaz. The fact that there are featured acts in addition to the assembly line of relatively unknown performers serves to draw in the uninitiated and broaden the audience beyond the militant who 'fed up' with what plays on the radio (yeah, I'm stereotyping lol). Maybe that's why Trevor's is always packed for every show.

So yuh boy Face was there last show performing for the second time in Songshine and I did my thing. Trust me, it's a good way to boost your performance skills and build your confidence in front of an audience with the safety net that they won't boo you unless you're Britney Spears bad. If I keep improving who knows, maybe I will become one of the featured big artistes. Anyways, check out the videos. Da Face out.

Chromatics performing in Songshine

Make it hapn performing in Songshine

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hitchhiker's Guide to Uwi: album coming soon

Yeah folks, well you've read the title and now you know what it is for March/April 2009. "Hitchiker's Guide to Uwi" is the crazy concept that I came up with about roughly two years ago which is basically, an album that gives many diverse snapshots of uwi (University of West Indies) life. It is a 'concept album' in the truest sense of the word which is defined by Wikipedia as: "an album which is unified by a theme, which can be instrumental, compositional, narrative, or lyrical". On this album, I write every song from the perspective of someone that is in their final year of university and has seen it all. And to allay any fears, this album is not dense in 'you had to be there', uwi-type stuff; anybody who enjoys good, creative and lyrical music can enjoy this album.

Now I don't know how many of you reading this are actively involved in music and would/could understand, but when I'm not frustrated in trying to make the highest quality product of this album, I feel blessed to have the privilege and the means to make this album a reality. It's an exciting feeling because most of the topics on my album have never been written about in Trinidad before and I'm more worried about making this thing a classic rather than griping over possible radio play. Even the cover art is going to turn some heads as is definitely on some intergalactic-type sh*t. The dude who's working on it is a bonafide genius fuh real.

"Hitchhiker's Guide to Uwi" is going to have about ten tracks and maybe one bonus track with a few interludes if necessary. As you may notice, the title is taken from the book "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" which is an invaluable book for wanderers looking to traverse the galaxy and similarly my album is an invaluable cd for wanderers looking for knowledge and/or an exposition of university life. The album is most likely going to be distributed by tru2culture which has recently added several more locations to the list of stores that it distributes cds and dvds to and therefore it shouldn't be too hard to find the album when it drops (you can search for the group on facebook for more information on tru2culture).


1 Intro
2 Ah won't pretend
3 Uwi girls
4 Jennifer
5 Stress
6 I don't care
7 Bad karma
8 Raining Shots
9 Originality
10 Uwi is a game
11 Forever (bonus track)

I've already released the tracks "Uwi girls" and "Jennifer" which you can listen to here. You can also download both tracks here.

The album for sure won't be more than $40TT and will be mixed and mastered to the highest quality (it's being mixed by "Beebo" and mastered by "Mice"...those in the industry would know dem two) so mek sure and get it when it comes out next year. Da Face out.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Trini vagrant strikes again

Now as a disclaimer, I'm letting you know that this post is bare nonsense and has nothing to do with anything. I'm just getting you all back up on your neighborhood friendly Trini vagrant so make sure and check out the vids.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Underground Trini album pick of the month (August): THE ISSUES LIVE

Yeah folks, Da Face here. Last night, I represented in the 2nd anniversary of "One Mic" and thankfully, I much improved on my performance (wish yuh was there eh). Much big up to Skeeto, Akila and Gamma for their drive and consistency, which has contributed to making "One Mic" the phenomena that it is. And for all you folks who want to be down with the One Mic crew it's so simple; just join the damn group on facebook nuh. That so hard?

Anyway, so I finished recording this ultra-hard track with Skeeto called "I won't pretend" some time last month that is like (gasp) really hard and will definitely step on some toes and what not and then he lets me know that he has a mixtape that he is letting out. So me being me, I purchase it one time and start bumping it, taking in the concepts and the lyrics etc. For those who don't know Skeeto, he's a dude who raps authentic trini like me with a very poetic, rapso-oriented flow that is versatile enough to tear up straight up hip hop beats like "Go" produced by Kanye West and "All about the Benjamins" produced by Bad Boy among others. Usually, Skeeto is a 'backpacker' type of rapper'(I consider him a local Talib Kweli) in that he usually spits knowledge but he gets playful on this record at points to the extent where he dedicates a song to Mr. Headbutter himself, Zinedine Zidane. Good stuff.

As I told Skeeto already, I personally found that he had too many interludes on the mixtape although to be fair, most of them are poetic, spoken word pieces which I found didn't mesh well with the rap beats but other people didn't share my opinion. Nevertheless, there is much to like here and about four songs which are the among the best that I've heard this year in any genre which says a lot for a $20 mixtape. So do me a favour nuh, vibes de man and cop his mixtape. It will be one of the best $20 that you have ever spent.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Violence in de Music

Yeah people,
"Is Da Face back again with no mask so feel free take my stuff at 'face value'".

Ah know...I does be on some real sh*t.

Over the last week there has been much bickering and hollering about an old rap video that had been in the You Tube archives for a while now and emerged to rear its violent head. Honestly, with the exception of some dangerous 'props' being flaunted in the video, there isn't, in my opinion, anything really shocking to be found within the lyrics as most of the motifs and barbs expressed are standard in the gangsta rap genre. If anything, the target of the verbal whipping aka Babylon is the only real controversial point of this particular fiasco but it does raise questions about the influence, artistic virtue and ramifications of the music released by other bad men on wax (and sometimes off) like your Movados, Bounti Killas, Fiddy Cents etc.

The real question that I have been wanting to ask for a long time is whether one can always take what someone says over a beat as factual especially when it falls in the cartoonish, Quentin Tarantino-like exaggeration that you only hear from the hardest of the hardcore artistes. I mean, come on, do you really believe that 50 cent, who has recently topped Forbes richest rap artistes list, would jeopardize his riches that he got without 'dying trying' to 'buss a cap on a homie'? Or do you think that Jay Z, who now rubs shoulders with Steve Jobs and Gweneth Paltrow, would still be dealing 'weight' on some lonely corner and defending the piss-drenched area as if his life depended on it? Even so, I would admit that from the way they talk, their swagger and the malice that they put in their voice, even I let my mind escape sometimes and wander into this fantasy land where you kill but never be killed, where all women accept the worst punishment but still swoon on command and money follows you around like a bad ex. Yes, it can be very entertaining.

But despite my sometime enjoyment, one thing never falters for me; I know it's a story. It's just art...well sometimes it is. It's like watching the Godfather or playing Grand Theft Auto 4 in that you respect the plot and the characters, even get astounded by the nihilism and the realism of the violent situations but if you're sensible, you know it's make-believe. Sometimes it's exaggerated to the point that I don't know how it can be taken seriously, something like the traditional Trinidadian midnight robber boasts of conquering hell or being the son of Satan. Sometimes I wonder though, if the fans of this kinda music would like it so much if they realized that it doesn't represent reality like 95% of the time. I do and I still can occasionally enjoy it so maybe I'm unique.

And now here's my point. Music is an art form that is primarily meant to entertain. You can lecture all you want about responsibility and people needing to learn something from music but the bottom line is that people won't even give you a listen if they can't enjoy it. I mean, you learn lots of stuff in school but putting your teacher's voice over the beat to 'Jumbie' won't win you road march. At the end of the day, good music is good music and uninspiring lyrics and lame concepts occur in the 'best' and 'worst' of topics. I will listen to an engaging tale any day of a drug deal gone sour and the ensuing violence that occurs once it is accompanied by good lyricism, nuanced storytelling and a voice that emanates mood and atmosphere. And my ears will switch off if an inspirational and educational reality tune plays and it lacks feeling, a unique take on played-out subject matter or is lazily delivered. Whether the violent rap song was actually a good song seems to have mattered little within all the media commotion but whether violent or non-violent, I think all music should be measured by the same yard stick. Da Face out.