Apr 15 2014

Frankie Knuckles RIP: A Revolution That Forgot Its Revolutionaries

AfterParadise Frankie Knuckles RIP: A Revolution That Forgot Its Revolutionaries

Frankie Knuckles passed away earlier this month (RIP). Sadly I don’t think I ever caught him live, but I was well aware of his legacy and impact. I enjoyed reading all of the tributes written about him – many from fans and fellow DJs whose lives he changed forever. Even major news outlets like USA Today and The Economist showed their respects to the house music icon, which was genuinely surprising to me. Never before had the history of house been discussed like this in mass media. Chances are it won’t happen again.

The dance music world may have paused momentarily to honor Frankie, but soon the knowledge and appreciation of house’s storied roots will continue to erode at its usual brisk pace due to fading memories, generational turnover, and mortality.

Unlike hip hop, dance music doesn’t have built in acknowledgement. Through name dropping, resurrected rhyme schemes, sampling, and even recycled fashion and iconography, even a casual rap fan will eventually discover the likes of Run DMC, the Sugar Hill Gang and Kurtis Blow. Thanks to rock n roll’s integral role in American culture, any modern rock fan could converse at length about the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix or Bob Dylan.

House music is different. Its story remains largely untold.

While Frankie Knuckles rightfully earned legendary status, many of his deserving peers did not. Ron Hardy, Arthur Russell and Walter Gibbons all died young and have already faded into obscurity, their life’s work completely unknown to the hundreds of millions who currently dance to music they helped create. Others are still alive, but have been relegated to obscurity regardless. Jesse Saunders and Farley Keith will not be having CNN – or even a Grantland – tribute articles written about them.

I remember watching a documentary on house music and learning that a teenaged Paul Oakenfold used to frequent the Paradise Garage and danced to sets by Larry Levan. If it wasn’t for that rare interview, I would have had no idea about the connection between European rave culture and the OG American disco clubs. I was a fan of both artists and a huge music nerd, but even that fact was unknown to me until recently. These days, does your average Ultra or EDC attendee even know who Oakenfold is? Would they even care to learn?

Maybe by its own design, house isn’t meant to be documented or remembered. Cross generational continuity is difficult to maintain in a youth driven dance movement. It didn’t help that many of those early DJs and dancers lived on the fringes of society: black, Latin, gay, and inner city. Seldom do these groups get to write history, and furthermore countless were lost to the AIDS epidemic and drug addiction back in the 80s.

Also, they often say that people dance to forget. As is the case today, to say that those early days of house music were hedonistic (and thus hazy) would be an understatement. That doesn’t mean that the magic that a great house DJ creates on the dance floor is any less real, but just like magic, those moments are fleeting and ethereal. House music blew up and overtook the world, but left precious little standing in its wake.

It’s a revolution that forgot its revolutionists.

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Post by Roger Jao

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doublecougar Frankie Knuckles RIP: A Revolution That Forgot Its Revolutionaries


Apr 9 2014

Brooklyn’s Inky Jack drop “Freedom” single

inkyjackfreedom Brooklyns Inky Jack drop Freedom single

The Brooklyn beat madhouse that is Inky Jack just dropped a new track, “Freedom“.

This is the first taste from their new EP ‘Infrared‘, coming out in June, and if last year’s self titled release is anything to go by it’s going to be pretty special.

Mixing everything from dub and reggae to synth and rock, the Inky Jack boys put on quite a show. We’ll be keeping an eye out for upcoming tours and more goodies from this duo.

TRACKS:

doublecougar Brooklyns Inky Jack drop Freedom single


Apr 9 2014

Introducing Zero Calories

zerocalories2 Introducing Zero Calories

Zero Calories is a new teenage crew coming out of Minneapolis and ready to remix your eardrums. The duo consisting of DJSIDEREAL and Sam McNaughton are dropping a new remix each week in the build up to Soundset 2014, where DJSIDEREAL will be sharing stages with the likes of Atmosphere, Nas, Earl Sweatshirt and Chance The Rapper to name just a few.

The first two remixes have already gone live and are definitely worth checking out.The first one is twerk mix for Sage The Gemini ft. IAMSU! for the track”Gas Pedal“, and the second brings a posi vibe to a Travi$ Scott track that features 2 Chainz with Upper Echelon.

The coolest thing about this Zero Calories duo? Sam Mcnaughton and DJSIDEREAL are only 19 and 18 respectively. Still, they’re teaching some of the older folk in the game a lesson or two on how its supposed to be done (although they do look like they could amp up their calorie intake like they do with their tracks)

Make sure you check back next Tuesday when the duo will be unleashing the next track in the series via their soundcloud.

TRACKS:

doublecougar Introducing Zero Calories


Jan 12 2014

Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: Chance The Rapper – ‘Acid Rap’

Chance The Rapper Acid Rap Albums of 2013 Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: Chance The Rapper   Acid Rap

Taking over from Kendrick Lamar as this year’s biggest rap breakthrough Chance The Rapper offered up one of 2013′s most exciting albums while seemingly ignoring everything that was “hot” around him. The samples retain an old school quality that allows for Chances upbeat verses to shine.

All of the hype is warranted. All of the praise is deserved. Chance the Rapper, not Kanye, put out the best rap album by a Chicagoan this year. No knocks to Ye as he still made my list, but what Chance did with this thing must be applauded. The cohesiveness of the album, matched with its stellar production and features, and Chance’s originality in his tortured crooning and wacky sing-rapping is one of the best things that happened in 2013 musically. It’s acts like this that are ensuring that new rappers in 2014 and beyond cannot expect to be taken seriously, unless they’re willing to bring something seriously great to the table” – Daniel Benny 

“‘Acid Rap’ was this young rapper’s second self-released mix tape and it put Chance in the spotlight for being the next rapper to watch. The album is surpassingly upbeat which is always refreshing in a genre that is dominated by put-downs. Acid rap was released right before summer and it” – Robin Petering

TRACKS:

doublecougar Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: Chance The Rapper   Acid Rap


Jan 12 2014

Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: Janelle Monae – ‘The Electric Lady’

Janelle Monae Electric Lady albums of 2013 Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: Janelle Monae   The Electric Lady

For her fourth and fifth Metropolis suites Janelle Monae made an all out statement and cemented her spot as R&B royalty. For an album that featured guest spots from some of musics biggest names there is only one real star on this album and that is The Electric Lady herself.

Monae already was a critical darling, but with this album she no doubt has ascended to the Queen of R&B (Sorry Bey). Song for song, this album does not dip in quality, nor suffers from any staleness. The elements that make this album great are so strong, from its exploration into nearly every fact of R&B/Soul from MoTown until now, its continued concept-story of a future run by cyborgs and android entertainers. But maybe the most impressive thing about Electric Lady is even when Monae enlists R&B Royalty like Prince, Erykah Badu, & Miguel to sing alongside her, you never question that she is the real crown jewel here -Daniel Benny

On paper, ‘The Electric Lady‘ shouldn’t work as well as it does. It’s a double album featuring tons of skits and big name guest stars. Typically that’s a recipe for disaster in the world of pop. However, Janelle Monae is bigger than pop. Sure her songs have a pop sensibility, but if you listen closely you’ll realize that she’s a vessel for over 50 years of black music tradition. She’s channeling bits of Motown, Hendrix, Aretha, James Brown, Quincy Jones, Prince, Michael Jackson, hip hop, and the civil rights and women’s movement in her songs. Her role as cultural torchbearer is even more apparent if you are lucky enough to see her live: truly immaculate stage presence and showmanship” – Roger Jao

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doublecougar Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: Janelle Monae   The Electric Lady


Jan 10 2014

Cougar Microbes Albums of 2013: Haim – ‘Days Are Gone’

 Cougar Microbes Albums of 2013: Haim   Days Are Gone

It’s hard to say that Haim came out of nowhere considering they had already been heavily namedropped as one of the artists to watch for 2013. The good news is once the girls dropped their debut  it showed that much of the hype was justified. With a phenomenal live show in their arsenal, worth losing friendships over, long live these sisters.

The feeling I get when I hear an album’s concept executed flawlessly is a smile that starts in my belly, and slowly works its way to my mouth. That’s the only way to explain the warmth that the retro-lusting artistry of ‘Days Are Gone‘ gives me. Ariel Reichstag really killed in 2013 helming two of the year’s best albums (this one and Vampire Weekend’s), and you can really hear his touch combined with the HAIM sisters years of dedication to songwriting. In the time since loving this album’s near-perfection, I’ve come across a few bands that you’d have to describe as simply “Post-HAIM”, making me hopeful that we are moving into an era of 1000 Stevie Nicks’s. I could go for that” – Daniel Benny

Days Are Gone‘ visited the garage sale of 80’s mainstream and turned it into something cool and fresh again. Haim have fashioned a fantastic debut filled with the hooks and irresistible, guilty-pleasure synths, and the overall result is sleek, sexy and tight”. – T.R. Wicks

Skinny Jewish girls who truly know how to rock – a rare breed indeed. Charming vocal harmonies, lyrics with life advice you wish you’d heard sooner, and the lead sister shreds on guitar” – Jabes

20140107 034257 Cougar Microbes Albums of 2013: Haim   Days Are Gone

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doublecougar Cougar Microbes Albums of 2013: Haim   Days Are Gone


Jan 9 2014

Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: Run The Jewels – ‘Run The Jewels’

Run The Jewels Run The Jewels albums of 2013 Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: Run The Jewels   Run The Jewels

When El-P and Killer Mike combine there is very little than they can do wrong. The eponymous ‘Run The Jewels‘ album was released for free online and seemed like the total antithesis to the previous year’s big Kanye/Jay-Z‘s ‘Watch The Throne‘ collab  proving that if you had any hip-hop aspirations you should have probably sat 2013 out. Case in hand the video for their ‘A Christmas Fucking Miracle.

In a year that saw high profile releases from Kanye, Jay-Z, J. Cole, Drake, Earl, & Tyler & more, it’s El-P & Killer Mike who outclassed them. 10 Tracks of straight bangers, each one as lively as the last, filled with tough-talk, brash call outs of the status quo, and beats that make me have to give hip hop producer of the year honors to El-P for the second straight year“. - Daniel Benny

20140107 034257 Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: Run The Jewels   Run The Jewels

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doublecougar Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: Run The Jewels   Run The Jewels


Jan 9 2014

Cougar Microbes Top Album of 2013: Vampire Weekend – ‘Modern Vampires Of The City’

Vampire Weekend Modern Vampires Of The City Albums of 2013 Cougar Microbes Top Album of 2013: Vampire Weekend   Modern Vampires Of The City

Vampire Weekend showed inventive by the bucket loads on their eponymous debut album and 2010′s ‘Contra‘ but there was a feeling that Ezra Koenig and co. where at times too smug for their own good. ‘Modern Vampires Of The City‘ saw the four piece take the best elements from their previous work and focus it towards an album that is a pleasure from start to finish.

More introspective, less brash. Cryptic lyrics coupled with restraint gave way to perfectly formed songs such as the long-time-coming “Hannah Hunt” whilst the energy stored up could be released raw punk style in “Diane Young”. The intelligent observations suit Vampire Weekend as they set about maturing into adults rather than dying young” – SamI’ve already waxed poetically about this album here and 6 months later I still love ‘Modern Vampires of the City‘ just as much” – Roger Jao

20140107 034257 Cougar Microbes Top Album of 2013: Vampire Weekend   Modern Vampires Of The City

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doublecougar Cougar Microbes Top Album of 2013: Vampire Weekend   Modern Vampires Of The City