Bohemian Guitars Blog

  • Nate Dogg: Classic Hip-Hop At Its Best

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    For the past five years, give or take, I have talked extensively with my friends about how I wanted to start a classic hip-hop station. I wasn’t sure if it existed elsewhere but in Atlanta it was a hole worth filling. The radio has been plagued with generic pop, bad rap, and classic rock stations that are like watching reruns of Seinfeld (sure I love them, but I know every episode and its getting kind of old). Well once “97.9 the OG” launched, it wasn’t long till I was blowing up with texts. “Looks like someone beat you to the punch.” Or “Hey you have to check out this new classic hip-hop station, it’s incredible.” So the next time I found myself in the car, I tuned to see if this station could possibly match my long time, well-crafted playlist. They didn’t disappoint. Bringing me everything I could have wanted and more. Starting in the late 80’s and going all the way to the early 2000’s, this station brought me classic after classic. I was hooked. I found myself taking the long way home, enjoying traffic, and just loving being in the car listening to all these throwback songs. The more I listened the more that one voice became a constant. It’s a voice that has been missing from the modern hip-hop world. A voice in my opinion is the heart and soul of the classic hip-hop sound. So this is a toast, to the late great Nate Dogg. [ezcol_1third] [caption id="attachment_1426" align="alignright" width="246"]Nate Dogg Nate Dogg[/caption] [/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_2third_end] Though Nate Dogg had a fine career and has created a discography worth listening to, when I refer to him as the heart and soul of classic hip-hop, I am referring to the songs he’s featured on. His sounds and style were so unique and incredible that it could accompany any rapper out there. With close to 60 different tracks he’s been featured on, Nate Dogg comes through my speakers almost every time I tune into this new radio station. Some of the highlights are songs like: Area Code (by Ludacris), Can’t Deny It (by Fabulous), Next Episode (by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg), Regulate (by Warren G), 21 Questions (by 50 Cent), I like That (by Houston), Till I Collapse (by Eminem) and Gangsta Nation (by Westside Connection). And that’s just scraping the surface of the epic list of features Nate Dogg has been a part of. [/ezcol_2third_end] There are certain aspects to hip-hop that help map the growth of the genre. When Rick Ruben and Russell Simons added heavy bass to the songs they were producing for artists like Run DMC and The Beastie Boys, game changer. When Dr. Dre mastered the G-Funk sound and created a quintessential west coast feel, game changer. There’s so many different characters in the history of hip-hop that are worth mentioning but as I drive around listening to this radio station I realize that there is one that should be talked about more. If you wanted a voice that would be hard and soulful at the same time, you called Nate Dogg. If you wanted a laidback, infectious voice, you called Nate Dogg. Basically if you wanted a massive hit, you called Nate Dogg. He is clearly missed, and there is obviously a piece missing in modern hip-hop. So if you find yourself tuning in to this new radio station or jamming to the classics anywhere, keep an ear out of that spectacular voice. You’re bound to hear it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1plPyJdXKIY

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  • Rancid: Honor Is All We Know

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    ALBUM REVIEW: Rancid, Honor Is All We Know

      Jordi Castells @jcastells9 3 stars out of 5   “I’m back where I belong. I’ve been gone way too long and I’m back where I belong”. With this decree, Rancid kicks off Honor Is All We Know; their 8th studio album in their 21 year career, coming off a 5 year hiatus since 2009’s Let The Dominoes Fall. The album starts off strong, with the previously mentioned chorus shouted out “Oi-style” by Tim Armstrong and Lars Frederiksen on a song that could feel at home in any of their previous albums. Unfortunately such a strong intro is diluted by the second track. Raise Your Fist is a bland, paint-by-numbers shadow of the songs Rancid used to write, relying on one of the most over-used chord progressions in pop-punk, and weighted down by ambiguous political protest lyrics that just don’t sound genuine coming from 40-somethings. [ezcol_1third] [caption id="attachment_1416" align="alignright" width="246"]Rancid Rancid[/caption] [/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_2third_end]Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Rancid, and I know that age never kept Pete Seeger from belting out the protest tunes in his twilight years, but it really seems like Tim is just phoning it in with the lyrics, especially after deeper songs in their previous work like Warsaw, Bloodclot, Radio Havana, Antennas, It’s Quite Alright and Born Frustrated, to name a few. Songs in which it really felt like there was sound reasoning behind the protest.[/ezcol_2third_end] There’s something to be said about Rancid, and that is NO ONE expects them to reinvent themselves. They know who they are, and are perfectly comfortable with it, and so are their fans. Tracks 3 and 4 remind you that Rancid are, at heart, four brothers who just want to make the kind of music they fell in love with as kids. Collision Course is a very fast (clocking in at 1:57) 3-chord Ramones-style rock and roll ditty, and Evil’s My Friend is a mean-sounding ska tune that would get anyone moving on the dance floor. The rest of the album fluctuates in the same fashion; a couple of songs that sound classic Rancid here and there (In The Streets, A Power Inside, Now We’re Through With You), a couple of songs that seem fresh (Face Up, Already Dead) and a few songs that would have been better off as B-Sides. Although Brendan Steineckert’s drums give a youthful feel to the rhythm section, one thing that is painfully missing is a sweet bass solo by Matt Freeman. Brett Gurewitz’s production seems like it has fallen into a comfortable middle-age slump. If you are --or were—a fan of the 90’s punk rock revival, you will definitely enjoy this album. If you’re looking for something new, steer clear. Rancid have become the weird, old uncles who won’t take off their leather jackets for dinner, but are still fun to hang out with.

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  • Sean Parker: Forever Changing the Music Industry

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    Over the course of music history there have been a number of different people who have changed the face of music. There have been so many different artists who have altered the way people thought to market their music. As well as artists who created new avenues of music for people to follow.  Moments in time like the commercial success of the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson, and Nirvana redirected the path of the industry. Yet out of all the great artists who have changed music, I think the person who has transformed the industry the most isn’t a musician at all. No one has made a bigger impact on the music world than Sean Parker. It only lasted around 3 years, but what Napster did will have forever changed the music industry. Sean Parker along with two others created the first file sharing platform specializing in the sharing of MP3’s. Napster was born in the summer of 1999. In two years it grew to 80 million users worldwide. The industry saw the dramatic changes that were coming and tried to fight back, shutting Napster down in 2001, but it was too late. There were hundreds of copycat applications all over the internet. Music had been set free. [ezcol_1third] [caption id="attachment_1403" align="alignright" width="246"]The Napster logo Napster[/caption] [/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_2third_end]Sean Parker and his partners just wanted to create an easy way for people to share these MP3’s. I don’t think they could have seen the colossal impact they would have all over the world. Records stores closed down all over the country. Even franchises that seemed untouchable like Towers Records closed their doors. No longer were consumers slaves to the purchase of an entire album for the pursuit of one song. You could find anything on Napster: old albums, unreleased music, live shows, and popular singles. Creating your own mixes and burning them onto a CD, building a collection of your favorite hits.[/ezcol_2third_end] Artists were no longer bringing in the same amount of money for releasing albums and the labels suffered. This little piece of the explosion probably left the most damage. The Beatles proved a long time ago that being Pop and being commercial for the teens was where the money was. The labels were no longer willing to risk working with artists who didn’t carry that same appeal. So genres like pop, hip-hop and country, which were all commercially successful, thrived while others have suffered. I’m not sure I can think of the last great rock band to come out post the creation of Napster. Sean Parker wasn’t done with the music industry after Napster either. After being involved in a number of groundbreaking startups including being the first president of Facebook, Parker wanted to get back to his first mission. Finding a way to give people infinite music at their fingertips but this time legally. He discovered Spotify. After investing 15 million dollars in the company, Parker negotiated the music rights with Warner and Universal. He brought the app to the US and created the partnership between Spotify and Facebook. [ezcol_1third] [caption id="attachment_1404" align="alignright" width="246"]Spotify Spotify[/caption] [/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_2third_end]The reason Spotify is so successful is because it gives people a bit of everything. Users can listen to radio like Pandora, as well as search endless artists on their own. And once they find artists they like, they can research and find similar artists to follow. Users are able to build playlists, and because of the connection with Facebook, you can follow your friends’ playlists or they can follow yours. It wasn’t too long into Spotify’s popularity that they began to offer a premium package. For just ten dollars a month you can now have commercial free, endless songs on your computer and phone. While apps like Napster crushed the careers of the small bands at the time, outlets like Spotify and Youtube have revived the artists.  It’s a huge avenue for musicians to release their music and be found by the masses.[/ezcol_2third_end] Artist come and go, while most are viewed as just another performer, some impacted the world. Some changed the way we view music and some changed how the industry views artists. Yet I stand by my thought that there isn't a single artist out there who affected or dented music like Sean Parker did. A computer programmer and entrepreneur, not a musician, holds the title in my eyes.

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  • The Congress Is In Session

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    Photo credit: Tim Dwenger

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  • I Listened To Them Way Before You Did

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    When you look back at the past 15 years and the growth of technology, you can see how it has affected the music world. Crediting Napster, iPods, Youtube, and Spotify; the landscape of music has been changed forever. There are so many different venues to consume as well as distribute music. However, beyond the obvious changes to the industry that we all know so well, I have noticed something else you can credit to the technology boom. With the birth of online music sharing, we also have the birth of the Music Snob. Now don’t get me wrong, people have been bashing on different music for way longer than the internet has been around, but let’s define a music snob for a moment. Google music snob and you get lists of criteria that might indicate that you are one. Things like: hating on what’s on the radio, being anti pop music, complaining that songs are overplayed, and stating that you liked a band before they “got big.” Truthfully I think we all have a little music snob in us. People enjoy finding bands that no one knows about. They are possessive of their music. They want to show it to their friends and take credit for discovering it. If this is the criteria for being a music snob then it must have been impossible to partake in this growing trend prior to the burst of the internet. Let me explain. With all these outlets of music and how easy it is for someone to put their stuff out there, the consumer has a large amount of music available for discovery. It becomes easier to avoid and dislike what is considered pop. Before all these channels the radio was really all anyone had. And there was a lot less stations to listen to as well. You were basically captive to what was popular. I quote my parents when they say, “We just listened to what was being played.” Not as common to be a music snob pre-internet. [ezcol_1third]02_MusicSnob_246x250[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_2third_end]I think about the Beatles. The Beatles were basically the first Boy-Band, yet everyone listened to them. Now I know you’re going to say the Beatles aren’t like today's Boy-Band because they were incredible musicians and are considered maybe the greatest band of all time. But it wasn’t till a couple albums in that the Beatles started pushing themselves and creating the music that was considered revolutionary. When they first came on to the scene they were just four good looking guys doing 50’s pop music. While good, it was very generic. Had there been the same outlets of music and the large amounts of music snobs that there are today, maybe people would have looked elsewhere and given up on the Beatles before they had a chance to become, THE BEATLES. Thank god we weren’t living in the era of the music snob back then, but what does that mean for the people making music now?[/ezcol_2third_end] As more and more music becomes available, I expect more and more people to turn toward this culture of the music snob. A person is able to find the specific music that is their cup of tea and avoid what isn’t. Maybe it’s not a bad thing. This philosophy definitely gives bands an opportunity to be heard. I myself do extensive online searching for bands and love finding ones that have never been heard. It’s an ownership mentality and I take pride in showing my new finding to my friends. Yet, I have a feeling it limits the lifespan of bands and doesn’t allow groups to be as innovative as their predecessors. It will be years before we will know for sure if this theory is true or not. All we do know is that with the birth of the internet, came the birth of the music snob.

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