I’m taking a class on hip hop and the media this term, and part of the class involves blogging. You can read what both my peers and I have to say about hip hop and the internet here. This is really aiming to be a pretty academic blog, so there should be some interesting insights.

But seriously, if you enjoyed what I had to say on this blog, check out my new stuff.

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So it should come as no surprise that this is pretty much the best post of all time.

Not to hate on ‘Ye’s design sensibility or anything…

Just kidding. Almost everything important, at least as far as hip hop goes is right here, thanks to Skillz. This is a great track:

Skillz – Rap Up 2008

I’ll be doing a couple other wrap up posts over the next couple days, probably.

And now that I’m blogging more erratically, I can post this:

Oh, also, here’s some new (old) Kanye.

So it’s been over a month since there’s been anything of interest on here. We dropped the ball on our up-to-the-minute coverage of 808s and Heartbreak the week it came out. We all sort of concurrently decided that our interest in blogging and music criticism had faded.

But, it’s been a month of reflection for me (not really), and I’m on vacation, and I’m back in America, where I have been doing music criticism for the last four years in some capacity, so I’ll still be on that grind somehow. From here on out, I’ll be resuming my music editorial duties for The Carl, so you can probably catch the odd blog post from me over there at their website.  I guess it’s bizarre to keep blogging on here, but I plan to start updating at least a little more frequently because all my unexpressed opinions need a home. I’ll also try to link to stuff I write elsewhere. And this way Greg and Gabe have a home if they ever want to come back. So welcome to the New Everything All of the Time, more commonly known as Some Stuff Occasionally.

The point of this is that I want to make a shout-out to my cousin Hannah, who I recently discovered has a good hip hop blog that you can now find on our blogroll.

Also, here’s some music I’ve been listening to lately:

The Foreign Exchange – Leave It All Behind: Laid-back R&B from Phonte of Little Brother. You can lounge to this all day.

The Very Best – Esau Mwamwaya & Radioclit Are The Very Best: Classified as Tropical/Dance in its genre column, this mixtape is worldly and dancy, references the entire spectrum of bloggable music, and is fun as hell. Also it’s available for free download here.

Blu & Exile – Below The Heavens: I’d been meaning to listen to this for a long time, and I wish I had done so earlier. Blu is a great MC: expressive, autobiographical, funny, and emotional, and Exile’s beats are gorgeous. This is one of the best hip hop albums I’ve heard in the last couple of years, and it deserves all the praise it’s gotten.

Black Milk – Tronic: It’s past imitating Dilla and on to its own legacy for this collection of great beats and hard-hitting raps from one of Detroit’s finest.

Those are my notes for now. Welcome back. Oh, also that Greg’s not writing anymore, I’m not putting up those social bookmarking links. Nobody used those.

This blog might have, though.

Anyway, besides that, I just wanted to mention how much I like Chris Brown, because I didn’t realize it until recently. But seriously, don’t even try to tell me everything about this isn’t awesome.

I don’t think I’ve heard him spit anything that wasn’t at least pretty good, and generally he’s fire.

I wish I could say that I was the one to break some obscure Beijing folk sensation to the indie blogosphere, but Beijing’s most interesting band already hit Pitchfork over the summer, so you may already know about them. Regardless, I saw them live for the second time last night, and I can safely affirm that you should know about this band.

Chinese folk music is rarely seen as being a particularly forward genre, and Mongolian folk music is even more obscure, but the sounds of Hanggai’s music, which incorporates a drum set and electric bass, not only is timeless, but is actually quite avant-garde in a society that is hurtling towards Westernization as fast as it can. Listening to Hanggai really does conjure images of Mongolian steppes, with its expansive, nostalgic sound. The otherworldly drone of the Mongolian-style throat-singing, which provides an interesting bassline for much of the vocals, is also indescribably cool. And for every song that bleakly echoes lone string instruments and plaintive singing there is also one with infectious camaraderie, particularly the frantic “Drinking Song,” which actually strikes me as a pretty great drinking song. The first time I saw Hanggai, the whole crowd rowdily joined in on this one, although last night’s show was more subdued. Accompanied by an older singer dressed in classical imperial clothes and missing their charismatic lead singer, the band stuck to the ethereal sounds that characterize the bleaker half of their music, creating a soundtrack for introspection or long train rides through the Mongolian steppes.

To summarize, you should listen to Hanggai.

Hanggai – “My Banjo And I”

Hanggai’s Web Site

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Did this song come out in the US? Because this song was number one on the South African charts a while back, and I’ve heard that it didn’t even come out in the US, let alone chart.

In any case, it’s pretty money. And it was inescapable in South Africa for like two and a half months.

Also, I imagine everyone else has heard “Good Good” by Ashanti, because it apparently came out forever ago. I heard it for the first time on the in-plane radio station on my flight back to the US last night. Apparently this track peaked at 30 in the Billboard Hot R&B/Rap charts, and didn’t chart on the Hot 100. If that isn’t proof that the music business is completely unfair and makes no sense, I don’t know what is. Because this track is really fucking catchy. Plus the music video (after the jump) is good.

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