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T-Pain needs very little introduction. The man has solidified his status as a pop culture icon and genuine trendsetter of the twenty-aughts by popularizing the now ubiquitous auto-tune. Some hate him for it, while others (such as, um, the record buying public) can’t get enough. Kayne has made an entire album with it. Andy Samberg’s Loney Island crew used it for possibly the funniest SNL segment in years. Countless indie bands are copping it. T-Pain is a living legend, which is why I jumped out of my computer chair when I heard he was coming to the Telus Theatre tonight (March 17). You bet I’ll be there.

There’s a lot I could say about T-Pain that everyone already knows. Yeah, he’s sprung, he wants to buy you a drank, and he wants you to take your shirt off and swing it round you head like a motherfuckin’ helicopter. I thought it would be way more interesting to clear up some widespread misconceptions that both lovers and haters have about his use of auto-tune.

Even though listeners almost universally associate his name with auto-tune, crystalized by the fact that Apple’s auto-tune app is called none other than ”I Am T-Pain,” the man didn’t invent it and wasn’t the first to use it. And anyone who has listened to music for more than the past fifteen years knows he definitely wasn’t the first to make his voice sound like a robot. I don’t say this to detract from his work; more to celebrate it, and show that it stands in a long line of robotical vocal modifications that goes back to the early twentieth century.

By those standards auto-tune is a very recent invention. It first appeared in popular music with Cher’s 1998 hit ”Believe,” currently playing in a hair salon and/or mall near you:

This inspired a mini-trend of auto-tune use, not nearly at T-Pain levels, with songs like Janet Jackson’s ”All For You” and Gigi D’Agostino’s ”La Passion.” Lots of artists soon started using the effect in concert for pitch correction, raising all kinds of questions about the authenticity of live performance. (Remember lip syncing scandals? This is the new that.)

Without getting into audio engineer lingo, basically, the effect works by taking a voice signal and changing the pitch to the closest note in a particular key, making it literally impossible to hit a sour note. Of course this particular process requires computers running the types of music editing software that only became widely available from the mid-nineties onward. So where did all that older robot music come from, like Peter Frampton and Kraftwerk?

Turns out we can take this back way further than the 1970s. The first device resembling auto-tune to be used in popular music was a bizarre mechanical thing called the sonovox. Invented by Gilbert Wright in 1939, the sonovox allowed users to make any instrument ”talk” by holding two speakers up to their throat and mouthing words; the sound was manipulated by the user’s vocal cords and came out through another microphone. It first appeared as a novelty item (TALKING HORNS!!!) in the Kay Kyser film You’ll Find Out:

The cartoon train in question was none other than Casey Junior of Dumbo fame, who made his first appearance here in a cartoon short. He made his full-length debut that same year:

Read more here

Long Beach newspaper Press Telegram just reported that Nathaniel D. Hale aka rapper Nate Dogg has passed away at the age of 41. The cause of death is still unknown but Nate had suffered 2 strokes already a few years ago. Our prayers go out to him and his family. Hip Hop lost one of its legends today and Nate will surely be missed. R.I.P Nate Dogg. Let’s hope he’s on Detox!

Just a few  days ago, Kanye West (Who rarely tweets anyone) tweeted ‘Donjazzy’. Does this mean that a colaboration is in the makings? Mr Endowed, aka D’Banj also mentions in an interview with Mtv Base that there’s a possibility of Donjazzy producing the likes of Beyonce, JayZ. Interesting huh?

F reddie Gibbs doesn’t understand what’s happened to rap. Unapologetically gangsta —with the criminal record to back it up — the Gary, Ind., rapper looks around at these sensitive types, fashion bombs and party boys populating contemporary hip-hop. He rants about it, he rhymes about it (“Rap is for … divas,” he raps), he tweets about it. Lordy, does he tweet about it. When his feed isn’t spewing about the Bears, it’s jabbing at other rappers he judges to be inauthentic.

“It’s all just corny,” Gibbs said during an interview last week from Los Angeles. “It’s n—-s doing something because the next man is doing it. The way everybody be rapping now — they say a word, they use this metaphor, talking a lot of bullsh–. Dudes with hairstyles, all kinds of dumb sh– in rap … not enough originality. Boys who grew up in the suburbs, talking sh– about the streets. … I speak my mind. I’m throwing out shoes. Motherf—–s need to put ’em on and wear ’em.”

But Gibbs is no dummy: “Kanye? He’s one of the most talented motherf—–s doing it, doing music, period. I’d definitely work with him.”

Indeed, while young rappers like Drake top the pop charts and Kanye West has once again raised the bar of what a hip-hop album can achieve, Gibbs, 28, is stubbornly old-school, a gangsta rapper fresh from the mold of Tupac and Biggie and telling tales of hard days on the streets of Gary. He dealt drugs. He took them (he used to sprinkle Oxycontin in his joints). He shot and was shot at. He robbed freight trains.

That’s the past, but it’s the near past. His rap career just started a few years ago, the result of boredom while dealing drugs out of a friend’s recording studio in Gary.

“So I can’t say I’m all the way detached from that,” Gibbs said. “I’m still on probation [18 months for a gun charge]. I’m still a street dude. … I walk with God. I’m not worried about nothing. But I’ve lived a lifestyle that’s dangerous, and still could be. I move with respect. I’m not Superman out here [in L.A.]. I watch where I’m at and go places I’m familiar with. I could still die like Tupac.”

A daily awareness of something like that is why his raps ring with a rarely heard integrity, even though our conversation was littered with the usual gangsta boasts (“Be sure to print that I’m the greatest rapper of all time”).

“Product, I pushed that / I just pray my baby brother don’t follow my footsteps,” he confesses in “Live by the Game.” Gibbs shows up on a new online track, “Field N—- Blues,” with Mikkey Halsted (including superb piano and production by No I.D.), rapping, “Mama was the mail lady, Daddy was the Po’s / secretly they both despised the life that I had chose.” On “The Ghetto,” from last summer’s mixtape “Str8 Killa No Filla,” Gibbs tries to distinguish the place from the people.

“The ghetto ain’t all negative,” Gibbs said. “Just because you’re from the ghetto doesn’t mean you’re a dope dealer or a crackhead. There’s a lot of good people in Gary, people from the ghetto who went on to be doctors and lawyers. I want to be a success story from Gary, not just a statistic. This whole project is my quest to redeem myself and do better. It’s all an open book.”

Naked and honest, maybe, but not lucrative. Gibbs had a shot at traditional commercial success, getting signed to Interscope Records in 2005. But by then, gangstas were passe. Interscope didn’t know what to do with him, and Gibbs refused to follow trends. One of his recent singles, “National Anthem (F— the World),” states his stand:

Never change my style up for any of them, I’m strictly thuggin’

Lotta n—-s made a name off banging and hustling but really wasn’t

I built my name with no features or some expensive budget

Come from mine, cause I co-sign, can’t coincide with the sh– I’m bustin’

Interscope dropped him without so much as a single, but tracks like that and dozens of others have been hot links online for two years. The way Gibbs has put his music out there for fans to discover is one of the reasons he’s booked as part of this week’s Tomorrow Never Knows, a festival of largely forward-thinking musicians booked through the weekend in three Chicago venues. Gibbs has yet to release a full-length album. In two years, he’s thrown out five mixtapes, one EP (last year’s crackling “Str8 Killa”) and single after single online.

He is, however, at work on a full-length debut, “Baby-Faced Killa,” promised later this year (though yet another mixtape, “A Cold Day in Hell,” is coming in February). After starting a career on batches and singles, what’s he got to say over a whole album?

“This album will be a soundtrack of a day in my life, myself and others from my city,” Gibbs said. That “city” is still Gary, even though Gibbs is now based in L.A. “A day in my life is about heartbreak and violence. There’s drugs, but there’s good times and joy. There’s probably some stuff I shouldn’t be rapping about, really” — he laughs — “but, hey, no apologies.”

And what if it doesn’t happen? What if he doesn’t make a million bucks and start hanging with Kanye in Hawaii? How does he pay his rent without dealing again? I ask this, and Gibbs stops boasting for the first time, ever so briefly. He goes quiet, pensive. He has no idea.

“Well,” he says after a brief hesitation, “that’s the million-dollar question.” Another pause. “I’ll figure whatever else I’m good at. If music don’t work out — and I don’t see that happening ’cause I’m the dopest and freshest — I don’t know.” Another pause, longer. “That’s a great f—ing question. I don’t know. I just pray every day I’m going in the right direction. I ain’t in nobody’s jailhouse or nobody’s cemetery. That’s gotta be good enough.”



New Book on Southern Hip-Hop

Publicerat: 2011/01/14 i News

The South got somethin’ to say, and a new book is hoping to be an added voice.

Dirty South: Outkast, Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, and the Southern Rappers Who Reinvented Hip-Hop tells the tales of some of Southern rap’s biggest acts while simultaneously trying to unpack the stereotype that the music is simple or stupid. Author Ben Westhoff sat down with Luke Campbell, Big Boi, 8Ball & MJG and Scarface to try to create a comprehensive history of the area’s contributions to hip-hop. He dissects the histories and influences of artists and producers from Atlanta, Miami, Houston, New Orleans and St. Louis while also tracking the career trajectories of Nelly, Timbaland, the Neptunes, Geto Boys, UGK, T-Pain, the Hot Boys, T.I., and more.

Dirty South tells of some of the most important Southern movements and moments, from the creation of 2 Live Crew, to the rise of labels like Rap-a-Lot, No Limit, and Cash Money to Lil Jon’s crunk takeover and plenty more.

The book will be available in May of this year through Chicago Review Press.

Teena Marie, the award-winning Rnb singer-songwriter has died her manager said Sunday. The performer was 54. Marie was found dead by her daughter after apparently dying in her sleep, manager Mike Gardner said.

”Teena was a black voice trapped in a white body,” said Cathy Hughes, founder of Radio One, a broadcasting company that targets African-American and urban listeners. ”I would always tell her that she was one of the greatest vocalists of our time.”

Among her songs were ”Lovergirl,” ”Portuguese Love,” ”Ooo La La La,” and ”I’m a Sucker for Your Love.”

One of her best tracks…

Vodpod videos no longer available.