Katajjaq or Inuit Throat Singing

A week or so ago I was watching Ray Mears’ Northern Wilderness, his new series, on BBC2, about the history of exploration in the wilderness and wintery northern reaches of Canada. In the episode I was watching, Mears visited with Inuit to hone his igloo building skills, as one does, and learn more about the people. Anyway, one segment covered katajjaq, or Inuit throat singing, and, I’ll be damned, if it wasn’t mesmerizing.

Sadly, I haven’t got an mp3 to share. However, there are plenty of videos on the Interwebs and here are two that show you just how interesting and rich katajjaq is. The first one features the infectious Billy Connolly being astounded by the two performers.

This one is nearly six minutes long and was, apparently, part of a video application for the Traditional Performer category for the 2008 Artic Winter Games, You need to watch the whole thing to see the variety of styles on display. Simply incredible.

Classics: EPMD, “Strictly Business” and Erick Sermon, “React”

I was messing around in iTunes and when I mess around in iTunes without a purpose there are a few songs I end up playing. “React” is one of them. Which then sent me to YouTube to dig up some EPMD videos.

As a result of my excursions you get the video of the EPMD Golden Age of Hip Hop classic “Strictly Business”, Erick Sermon’s 2002 single “React”, and a reminder about EPMD if you a) didn’t know about them (shame on you) and b) forgot about them (seriously, dude, shame on you).

The laid back flow of “Strictly Business” isn’t for everyone and the production value is shocking compared to the technical wizardry Just Blaze cranks out for “React”. But, even 20 years later “Strictly Business” and the album it fronted are lauded as part of a critical surge for rap and hip hop.

Erick Sermon – React (ft Redman)

Backtrack: The Beatnuts, “Off The Books”

The Beatnuts

You may have asked yourself where the folks from 100b went? I mean, heck, the apartment has been empty for more than a month. You tried ringing the doorbell. You checked with the super. Their mail has been spilling out of their mailbox. Well, I can say we’re back and any squatters in the apartment are just gonna to have to get out.

The folks in 100b were busy throughout June. Then, we, again, took stock, and discussed how we run things here in our favorite little corner of Music Land. In the end, the Bean, Tamboosh, and I all think we have come up with a schedule and way of posting that’ll be both more enjoyable and easier to manage for three adults with stuff to do when we aren’t hanging out in 100b.

As for myself, I stopped buying new music a while ago. I was just accumulating so many CDs and individual tracks that I could listen to something new or rarely listened to for months without stopping. So, my new plan is to begin digging through music I already have and music sent to 100b HQ and let people know all the good stuff out there they may have missed. That should get aDawgg out of his 100b funk.

To kick it off, though, I’ve got a favorite underground hip hop track, “Off The Books” from The Beatnuts’ 1997 album Stone Crazy. “Off The Books” marked the first time Big Pun alias Big Punisher alias Christopher Rios appeared on a recording in his short music career and life.

We’re baaack …

The Beatnuts – Off The Books (ft Big Pun and Cuban Linx)

100best: Jay-Z

Jay-Z

From the projects to the stage to the boardroom, hip hop performer and entreprenuer extraordinaire Shawn Carter – alias Jay-Z – has established himself through 10 (soon to be 11) albums as perhaps the greatest hip hop artist of all time. He is now almost a charicature of himself so it is easy to forget just how good this guy actually is. It’s our job here at 100b to remind you.

100best: Jay-Z.

Out.

aDawgg:

Eight years on, The Blueprint is a classic for good reason. Released at a dramatic time in U.S. history (9/11/01), the double platinum album broke in two uber-producers (Kanye West, Just Blaze), cracked the stranglehold Timbaland had on the genre, and helped return sampling as a cornerstone of hip hop production. Even the notoriously negative Bitchfork lauded it as the #2 album of 2001. “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” is a testament to the ability of Jay-Z to remain commercially successful without losing relevance and credibility in a genre that shakes off fakes with ease.

Jay-Z – Izzo (H.O.V.A.)

Bean:

My choice was based purely on gut – no Jay-Z song packs a punch as hard as “99 Problems”. The opening line and beat busting out of the speakers hit you right in the guts. And although his singles are usually damn catchy, I’ve never really been taken by Jay-Z’s lyrical style. “99 Problems” is different – it’s the first time I’ve really wanted to listen to him. Plus, that beat is incredible: part fuzzy guitars, part raw industrial drums. It doesn’t so much pop as explode, and gives Jay-Z a raw power I’ve never heard in him before.

Jay-Z – 99 Problems

Tamboosh:

I’ve had a crush on the man since I don’t know when, so picking a favorite had to be easy as pie, right? No pie. Jay-Z’s songs can be rated by impact, entertainment value, and pure lyrical wizardry. Every category has multiple contenders; which surpasses all of them? The instant impact “99 problems”, “Jockin’ Jay-Z” or “Roc Boyz” have? The incredible lyrics on “Dead Presidents”, “What More Can I Say” and “d’Evils”? Or the boombastic fun that’s “Big Pimpin’” and “Dust Your Shoulders Off”? The one that checks all the boxes for me is the unstoppable “Heart Of The City”.

Jay-Z – Heart Of The City (Ain’t No Love)

Poptastic Day: G. Love & Special Sauce, Yeah, It’s That Easy

G. Love & Special Sauce

I bought Yeah, It’s That Easy simply based on the name of the band and the cover of the CD. I was walking through Amsterdam Central Station in 1997 on my way to a party and ducked into a small branch of a CD chain store in the station. The cover artwork caught my eye. I remember thinking to myself, “With a name like that and a funky cover, this has to be good.” It was one of those risky buys that either tanks completely or succeeds wildly. This isn’t my normal CD purchasing method. I like to hear a few singles off an album or give it a listen before spending my hard-earned duckets on it. So, it was seriously out-of-character for me to plunk down the cash for Yeah, It’s That Easy.

And, brothers and sisers, I didn’t regret it. The album quickly became one of my favorites and still is. Giving it another listen before putting together this post, I realize just how much fun G. Love & Special Sauce can be. It’s a perfect blend of hip-hop, blues, and cheesy goodness. Have a listen. I’m sure you’ll agree.

G. Love & Special Sauce – I-76

From The 100(mail)b(ox)

Woodhands

The goofy-looking guys you see before you are Woodhands, from Toronto, Canada. Remember them from high school? Maybe freshman year at college? They were the guys you cool people probably thought were geeks (note that I didn’t say us cool people). Now they have the kids up and moving it to the beats they weave and you might even wish you were them a little bit. Woodhands, not the kids, though that might also be the case.

Dan Werb and Paul Banwatt bring a purely-created (no samples or nothing) dance vibe meant solely to rock the party. And, given their cover of the Eddy Grant 1983 hit “Electric Avenue” had my head boppin, I think you’ll have to agree Woodhands achieve their goal well. Electro-pop, digi-beat or whatever you want to call it, these creations can’t help but bring a smile to your face and have you interested in hearing more. The Bean doesn’t like the Eddy Grant original and thought the Woodhands cover was something to hear. That’s saying something.

Woodhands – Electric Ave

Check out Woodhands at their digital hangouts: MySpace and Facebook.

Want more? Buy Heart Attack at Paper Bag Records

Classics: The Fugees, The Score

The Fugees

The Score blew up in 1996 and there was no looking back for Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill, and Pras Michel. The Fugees’ second album flowed out of speakers around the world with a combination of superb bass drops, verbal hijinks, and unparalleled class that simply left weakass hip hop in the past and helped propel the genre into a new century.

I have no research to back me up, but I imagine few albums have been career-makers or-propellants to the extent The Score was for the three members of The Fugees. Even the runt of the trio – Pras – parlayed the success of this monumental album into side-projects and exposure. The Score is that good.

Refresh your memory with one of the non-single tracks, “How Many Mics”, a track that lets the rhymes and flow shine without the distraction of pumped up production and little sampling (only The Moody Blues’ “Twilight Time”).

   The Fugees – How Many Mics