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Monday, Mar 22, 2010
Recording artist/producer PC Muñoz mines for gems and grills the greats.

This V-C-V was first published March 14, 2006 on pcmunoz.com


“Dear Mama” - Tupac
Written by Tupac Shakur, Joe Sample, and Tony Pizarro
Contains a sample of “In My Wildest Dreams” by Joe Sample, and an interpolation of"Sadie”, written by J.B. Jefferson, B. Hawes, and C. Simmons
From Me Against the World (Interscope, 1995)


Me Against the World, the Tupac album on which “Dear Mama” first appeared, is lyrically one of my favorite hip-hop albums of all time. It was a commercial success, and I always say that if Tupac had been a guitar-slinging rocker, critics would have injured themselves thumbing through their thesauruses in their attempts to locate the vocabulary to properly praise the emotional insularity and foreboding themes of this record. But alas, it was the mid-‘90s, and Tupac was hip-hop through and through. Not only that, he had “Thug Life” tattooed across his abdomen, a felony conviction on his record, and an infamous attempt on his life still fresh at the time of this release. So, in 1995, Me Against the World was often seen as another “gangsta” record, despite the intense, spiritually-driven themes Tupac explores on this album.


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Sunday, Mar 21, 2010
Now, I was taught back on my block...

In the music of the disenfranchised, it should not be a shock to anyone to often find a motif of unity. After all, the artists in question tend to be driven to create their music by a sense of difference, of outsidership, and in turn, their core audience can very much relate to that feeling and are thus drawn to the music.  In the rock pantheon, this is a constant source of inspiration: The Who’s “My Generation”, the Ramones’ “Cretin Hop”, and Sham 69’s “If the Kids Are United”.


Naturally, this tradition carried over into rap music, especially in its developmental years. Examples of what this writer likes to call “posse anthems” include but are not limited to “Posse on Broadway” by Sir Mix-a-Lot, “Too Much Posse” by Public Enemy, and “Rollin’ wit’ the Lench Mob” by Ice Cube. Like the above-mentioned, these tracks express a departure of the artist from what can be termed the mainstream, but also makes clear that the artist is far from alone in this, citing the allegiance of the artist’s friends and compatriots.


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Friday, Mar 19, 2010
What does the original "anti diva" share in common with Orlando?

The sun has finally peeked through the clouds in Manhattan. It almost feels like spring. In fact, the afternoon is ideal for a wedding.  That’s exactly what Carole Pope notices as she strolls through Central Park. In just a few days, she’ll jet up to Ontario for a three-night stint. For the time being, though, she’s content to ponder what quality she shares with Orlando.


Like the title character of Virginia Woolf’s literary masterpiece, Carole Pope has challenged convention throughout her career, first as the trailblazing front-woman of Rough Trade and then as a solo artist. Her autobiography Anti Diva (2001) traces one of the most compelling life stories in popular music. Described by Pope as, “a comment on the times, beginning in the summer of love. It drags me kicking and screaming into the 21st century”, the book was recently optioned for the screen.


The forthcoming biopic is just one of many projects Pope is currently undertaking. Between recording a new album, promoting her last record (Transcend), and touring the film festival circuit for Suck (2009), a rock and roll vampire story that pairs her with Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop, and Moby, the “anti diva” is as prolific as ever.


While taking a moment to appreciate the beauty of a Chinese wedding, Carole Pope checked in with PopMatters for this latest edition of 20 Questions.


1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
A Single Man. Usually anything about death or where the character’s really feeling lost, I can relate to.


2. The fictional character most like you?
I’d like to think it was Orlando (laughs). I just related to the character’s ambisexual being. I love that book.


3. The greatest album ever?
Wow. It might be the Beatles’ White Album. When it came out in 1968, I remember playing it on my Seabreeze or whatever I had. I think pretty much all the songs are mini-masterpieces. They’re very visual, which I relate to.


4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
Star Wars, because I remember Bill Murray singing the theme song on Saturday Night Live (laughs).


5. Your ideal brain food?
I guess fish. I love spicy tuna. It just seems like really clean food.


6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?
I guess the fact that we actually got a record deal, as Rough Trade, for our second album, Avoid Freud (1980).


7. You want to be remembered for…?
I think just being outspoken and being innovative and doing a lot of things before other people did, even though I don’t get recognized for them…she said bitterly! 


8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?
Definitely Bowie. He’s such a chameleon.


9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?
I wish I’d written one of Bjork’s songs, because I worship her. I think that she’s really an amazing, innovative artist.


10. Your hidden talents…?
I can cook, though that’s more of a hobby. I’m obsessed with music and art.


11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?
Being true to yourself. Maybe it’s my advice to me! I think I advise myself. I think it just evolved from being an artist. The minute you’re not true to yourself, you create traps.


12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?
Probably my guitar.


13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or…?
I would feel best if I had some Prada, but I don’t (laughs). I wear a lot of G-Star. There should be some designer who designs clothes for dykes. It could be somewhere between men’s Prada and G-Star, as far as I’m concerned!


14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?
Probably my friend Tim Blanks, because he’s the most confusing and interesting person I know. I am met him in Toronto. He used to live in Toronto in the late ‘70s, and then he turned into this fashionista. Now he writes for Style.com, which is Vogue online. I wish he’d write an autobiography.


15. Time travel: where, when and why?
I’m kind of drawn to the court of Louis XIV. I don’t know why. I’d want to be a guy, though (laughs), or dress like the guys. The women had to wear all those corsets. Maybe I could just be like a peasant, I don’t care! No, I’m lying. I’d want to be the Sun King.


16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?
I wouldn’t hire a hit man, I’d be the hit man. I would probably go on a spa vacation.


17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or…?
Chocolate. It chills me out. I don’t eat a lot of it, but it’s a little treat, a little something at the end of the day.


18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?
Right now it’s the city, but that could change. If I was rich, I’d live in Europe—I would live in London or Rome—but New York City is the next best thing.


19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?
Hello, can I get some equal rights over here?


20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on now?
I’m working on a new album, Transcend. “Johnny Marr” and “Shining Path” are on iTunes. Suck is premiering at MoMA. I just did another movie in Toronto called Trigger, directed by Bruce McDonald. My guitar player and I and some drummer we never worked with performed a song. Bruce McDonald is a really great Canadian filmmaker. He did Hard Core Logo (1996). More movie work for me! I would love to do more film scoring.


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Thursday, Mar 18, 2010

Man, the American rock and roll scene just got discernibly smaller.


I’ll defer to the bigger Big Star fans (of whom there are many) to properly eulogize this American rock icon.


I’ll simply say, for now, that while many people (understandably) associate Chilton’s best work with the ’70s, he was still making serious noise in the ’90s. Quite by chance, as we eased past Y2K, I stumbled upon the truly bizarre, and beautiful, album he made with Alan Vega and Ben Vaughn, 1996’s Cubist Blues.


If you are a fan, or if you are curious (check out the clip below and I dare you to not be hooked) it comes highly recommended. This is midnight of the soul mixed with ’50s Beat energy and what Elvis would sound like if he had ever tried to channel Jerry Lee Lewis, drunk. Only one million times deeper and darker and, for my money, more satisfying. This is at once deliberate, narcotic and wonderfully disorienting. It’s like you walked into the wrong bar and stumbled onto a one-off jam session featuring a bunch of bruised and wily underground legends, laying it all on the line for nobody but themselves. Which is exactly what this album is.


Back in September 2003 the east coast was about to get rocked by a hurricane named Isabel. We knew it was coming, and it was one even the TV weathermen couldn’t get wrong. We didn’t know how bad it was going to be and fortunately, for D.C. denizens, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. It got darker and later, and once the wind really started blowing and the rain began pounding down, I knew exactly what album I needed to have playing. Cubist Blues came through for me before, and has come through since, but I’ll always consider this an ideal soundtrack for a hurricane.


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Wednesday, Mar 17, 2010
Nergal, leader of Polish metal act Behemoth, is charged with offending religious beliefs in his home country. Are metal fans really justified in their outrage?

The band Behemoth has always been blatant in their views about religion. All of their albums are pervaded with anti-religious and pro-Satanic lyrics, themes, and images. The band’s live shows are also filled with similar ideology, as frontman Adam “Nergal” Darski can’t go more than ten minutes without shouting some anti-Christian epithet that gets the crowd roaring. This has always been a risk for the Polish blackened death metal stars, since many areas of the world—including their own home country—protect the religious views of citizens under law. Behemoth experienced this firsthand when Ryszard Nowak, head of the All-Polish Committee for Defense Against Sects, attempted to sue the band in 2008 for tearing up a Bible onstage at a September 2007 concert in the city of Gdynia. In Poland, it is a criminal offense to offend a person’s religious beliefs, but in order for someone to be charged with such an offense, at least two complaints need to be filed. So the case was dismissed at that time. However, on Monday, March 8th, the case was re-opened and Nergal was formally charged after an unspecified number of other complaints were filed for the Bible-tearing incident. Nergal is pleading not guilty, but if found guilty, he will face up to two years of prison time.


The knee-jerk reactions of the metal community were predictable. Metal fans immediately cried foul, insisting that Nergal’s actions were protected free speech. A number of metal news websites began publishing stories decrying Poland’s laws as archaic and intolerant. Nergal’s own testimony under cross examination in the case’s first hearing was that his actions onstage are part of artistic license and not meant to offend religious beliefs.


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