Music

Beanie Sigel: The B. Coming

Lee Henderson

This is another insanely over-produced rap record for old people who still want gangsta but none of the loudness associated with it.


Beanie Sigel

The B. Coming

Label: Roc-a-Fella
US Release Date: 2005-03-29
UK Release Date: 2005-03-28
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This album came out a minute ago and so we can look at it without all the hype of Bean's incarceration for weapons violation and the split between Jay-Z and Damon Dash confusing the issue. Beanie followed Dash, not Jay-Z, and with that a lot of hopes for this record were dashed. The critics went into their healing mode, promising that it wasn't so bad after all. My colleague at Pitchforkmedia said, "The album's producers weave a grand, sweeping tapestry to give Sigel's lament the heft and majesty it deserves." Ha ha ha! Sweeping tapestry. Yeah, right. No, I'm sorry. Majesty? Since when is majestic a good thing from anyone besides John Williams? Majestic gangsta rap, no less. I'll tell you what this is. This is another insanely over-produced rap record for old people who still want gangsta but none of the loudness associated with it. Thanks to Jay-Z, who cuddled Beanie when it got cold and tossed him overboard when he split with Damon Dash, The B. Coming is a desperate attempt to maintain the loyalty of the Hova's huge fanbase. This is gangsta-lite, or adult contemporary gangsta, or gangs -- dad rap, or something like that. Anyways, Beanie Sigel's record sounds like it cost a million-trillion-faffillion dollars to produce, you know what I mean? Great for suburban housewarming parties. Welcome to our new home, Beanie! Loved your last record, and don't you look handsome on the cover. Help yourself to the aspic -- it's fresh! Come right in and make yourself comfortable, what's your name? Freeway? Well, shucks, have some of that chips and dip, why don't you? Aren't you a nice fellow, Mr. Dogg, thanks for popping by. Mr. Killa Cam is over there in the corner talking to my wife Susan, who, I should mention, loves to eat skeet and spends all her money at Ikea.

Oh, who am I to complain? Who doesn't prefer soul samples cranked up to Smurf and beats that sound like Phil Collins was brought in for drums (a la ba-doom doom of "In the Air Tonight"). No, it's not ethical for me to say anything other than apart from a few guest rappers, I hate this album.

Produced by Heavy D, "Feel It in the Air" is a seraphic opening track, sultry and innocent and majestic, to the point that I have no idea what Sigel's rapping about. I'm so completely seduced by the Raphael Ravencroft sample and the weaving and bobbing beat that I could care less if Sigel is rhyming for me the solution to world hunger. "I Can't Go On This Way" is produced by Aqua, and is a bit more minimal, intended to highlight the straight-talking raps of Sigel and guests Freeway and Young Chris. The hackneyed soul sample sped-up in the background (can someone make it a law to STOP BITING SUPREME CLIENTELE??)... it's the kind of bullshit rap McTossaway track that someone Rakim's weight would just destroy. Ghostface on this track? This pitiable beat gets buried dead and pissed all over with Crystal urine. Beanie Sigel and Freeway do okay on top of this thing, too, but not really. In reality, Freeway sounds like he's been eating public school lunches for too long and is having an impossible time trying to take a poop. Young Chris has some urethral problems. Meanwhile, Sigel goes:

With no union, and no benefits no dental plans
I can't eat off no hundred grand
I got cavities that need fillin'
You can't feed a nigga Peanut Chews
Now put ya feet up in a nigga' shoes
A lack of green'll give a nigga blues
A sip of purple make a nigga rule
Make a drunk person speak a sober tune

That's a pretty cool, socially alert rap, if you ask me. That's what I'm talking about. Whereas "One Shot Deal", featuring Redman and produced by Bink!, is a doofus Rocky anthem track that has none of the true aggression of an LL or even a Lil' Wyte track. The lyrics are fine, but the whole thing is buttered up so heavy with overdubs and compression and cymbal splashes that I start to dream about Beanie Sigel collaborating with Peter Gabriel. Why not? I'm sure he's available. It's not until Peedi Crack and Twista spit some major Godzilla all over "Gotta Have It" that I feel any sense that this album is more than just about another boring pop star with a microphone attached to his ear and a piano player on one side of the stage in a cloud of theatrical fog. Produced by Chad Hamilton, it's still one phazer sequence too many. But this is obviously a new genre of rap music, and I'm not giving it enough credit. As part of a genre whose high point is perhaps Snoop's Rhythm & Gangsta, and slapped into consciousness with Common's Be, Beanie Sigel's album slides in between these two classics. The Neptunes-produced "Don't Stop" features the Dogg himself, and this is truly the weakest rap song on the planet. This thing is limp as a dead dandelion. Both rappers suck on this track and the Neptunes suck even harder. It sounds like Snoop and Beans paid people to write the words and other people (impersonators) to say them, and never even came to the studio the day it was recorded. If you like musicals you might enjoy "Bread & Butter", a track inspired by a deceiving woman and Broadway dance-sequences. Finally on track fourteen (of fifteen!), Jay-Z makes an appearance ("It's On" (no, it isn't)) just so he can chorus:

Once again it's on
Young run through you niggas, like a glitch in the computer nigga
I'm the shit I'mma sewer nigga, This is Jay everyday, no days off
Ferris Bueler nigga

There's no glitches on this CD, unfortunately. It might give it some life. The highlight is "Purple Rain", a tribute to the Houston love affair/addiction to cough syrup mixed with Codeine. The track features the inimitable Bun B. of Houston's UGK, and his 16 bars kill this album dead.

Quoting Bun B:

Way back in '94, Bruce still had his gate up
he called over to his house and he poured me an 8' up
I asked him what it was, he said Bun, get your weight up
this is lean, them white folks call it pearlmethozine
shit, but we goin' call it drink dog, cause that's what we be doin' to it
now take this big red and pour about a 2' into it
I said 2's and 8's, that the fuck is you trippin' on
he said man thats an ounce of the cough syrup that you sippin' on
so shit I poured it, I sipped it , then I tipped some mo'
I fired up a green monster, and I hit that ho'
started relaxin', shit and to my surprise
I was noddin' off, lookin' at the back of my eyes
they tried to wake me up, but shit I just kept yawnin'
I fell out in my chair and woke up there the next mornin'
God bless my nigga, cause it's then I been spawned
on my white muddy cup of Texas tea at all

After his verse, I've got nothing else good to say. Trade this album for UGK's Dirty Money and forget you heard of Beanie Sigel and his worthless attempt at mainstream love.

4

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


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White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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Music

The Best Dance Tracks of 2017

Photo: Murielle Victorine Scherre (Courtesy of Big Beat Press)

From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

In June of 2016, prolific producer Diplo lambasted the world of DJ's in an interview with Billboard, stating that EDM was dying. Coincidentally enough, the article's contents went viral and made their way into Vice Media's electronic music and culture channel Thump, which closed its doors after four years this summer amid company-wide layoffs. Months earlier, electronic music giant SFX Entertainment filed bankruptcy and reemerged as Lifestyle, Inc., shunning the term "EDM".

So here we are at the end of 2017, and the internet is still a flurry with articles declaring that Electronic Dance Music is rotting from the inside out and DJ culture is dying on the vine, devoured by corporate greed. That might all well be the case, but electronic music isn't disappearing into the night without a fight as witnessed by the endless parade of emerging artists on the scene, the rise of North America's first Electro Parade in Montréal, and the inaugural Electronic Music Awards in Los Angeles this past September.

For every insipid, automaton disc jockey-producer, there are innovative minds like Anna Lunoe, Four Tet, and the Black Madonna, whose eclectic, infectious sets display impeccable taste, a wealth of knowledge, and boundless creativity. Over the past few years, many underground artists have been thrust into the mainstream spotlight and lost the je ne sais quoi that made them unique. Regardless, there will always be new musicians, producers, singers, and visionaries to replace them, those who bring something novel to the table or tip a hat to their predecessors in a way that steps beyond homage and exhilarates as it did decades before.

As electronic music continues to evolve and its endless sub-genres continue to expand, so do fickle tastes, and preferences become more and more subjective with a seemingly endless list of artists to sift through. With so much music to digest, its no wonder that many artists remain under the radar. This list hopes to remedy that injustice and celebrate tracks both indie and mainstream. From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

10. Moullinex - “Work It Out (feat. Fritz Helder)”

Taken from Portuguese producer, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist Luis Clara Gomes' third album Hypersex, "Work It Out" like all of its surrounding companions is a self-proclaimed, "collective love letter to club culture, and a celebration of love, inclusion and difference." Dance music has always seemingly been a safe haven for "misfits" standing on the edge of the mainstream, and while EDM manufactured sheen might have taken the piss out of the scene, Hypersex still revels in that defiant, yet warm and inviting attitude.

Like a cheeky homage to Rick James and the late, great High Priest of Pop, Prince, this delectably filthy, sexually charged track with its nasty, funk-drenched bass line, couldn't have found a more flawless messenger than former Azari & III member Fritz Helder. As the radiant, gender-fluid artist sings, "you better work your shit out", this album highlight becomes an anthem for all those who refuse to bow down to BS. Without any accompanying visuals, the track is electro-funk perfection, but the video, with its ruby-red, penile glitter canon, kicks the whole thing up a notch.

9. Touch Sensitive - “Veronica”

The neon-streaked days of roller rinks and turtlenecks, leg warmers and popped polo collars have come and gone, but you wouldn't think so listening to Michael "Touch Sensitive" Di Francesco's dazzling debut Visions. The Sydney-based DJ/producer's long-awaited LP and its lead single "Lay Down", which shot to the top of the Hype Machine charts, are as retro-gazing as they are distinctly modern, with nods to everything from nu disco to slo-mo house.

Featuring a sample lifted from 90s DJ and producer Paul Johnson's "So Much (So Much Mix)," the New Jack-kissed "Veronica" owns the dance floor. While the conversational interplay between the sexed-up couple is anything but profound, there is no denying its charms, however laughably awkward. While not everything on Visions is as instantly arresting, it is a testament to Di Francesco's talents that everything old sounds so damn fresh again.

8. Gourmet - “Delicious”

Neither Gourmet's defiantly eccentric, nine-track debut Cashmere, nor its subsequent singles, "There You Go" or "Yellow" gave any indication that the South African purveyor of "spaghetti pop" would drop one of the year's sassiest club tracks, but there you have it. The Cape Town-based artist, part of oil-slick, independent label 1991's diminutive roster, flagrantly disregards expectation on his latest outing, channeling the Scissor Sisters at their most gloriously bitchy best, Ratchet-era Shamir, and the shimmering dance-pop of UK singer-producer Joe Flory, aka Amateur Best.

With an amusingly detached delivery that rivals Ben Stein's droning roll call in Ferris Bueller's Day Off , he sings "I just want to dance, and fuck, and fly, and try, and fail, and try again…hold up," against a squelchy bass line and stabbing synths. When the percussive noise of what sounds like a triangle dinner bell appears within the mix, one can't help but think that Gourmet is simply winking at his audience, as if to say, "dinner is served."

7. Pouvoir Magique - “Chalawan”

Like a psychoactive ayahuasca brew, the intoxicating "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique's LP Disparition, is an exhilarating trip into unfamiliar territory. Formed in November of 2011, "Magic Power" is the musical project of Clément Vincent and Bertrand Cerruti, who over the years, have cleverly merged several millennia of songs from around the world with 21st-century beats and widescreen electro textures. Lest ye be worried, this is anything but Deep Forest.

In the spring of 2013, Pouvoir Magique co-founded the "Mawimbi" collective, a project designed to unite African musical heritage with contemporary soundscapes, and released two EPs. Within days of launching their label Musiques de Sphères, the duo's studio was burglarized and a hard drive with six years of painstakingly curated material had vanished. After tracking down demos they shared with friends before their final stages of completion, Clément and Bertrand reconstructed an album of 12 tracks.

Unfinished though they might be, each song is a marvelous thing to behold. Their stunning 2016 single "Eclipse," with its cinematic video, might have been one of the most immediate songs on the record, but it's the pulsing "Chalawan," with its guttural howls, fluttering flute-like passages, and driving, hypnotic beats that truly mesmerizes.

6. Purple Disco Machine - “Body Funk” & “Devil In Me” (TIE)

Whenever a bevy of guest artists appears on a debut record, it's often best to approach the project with caution. 85% of the time, the collaborative partners either overshadow the proceedings or detract from the vision of the musician whose name is emblazoned across the top of the LP. There are, however, pleasant exceptions to the rule and Tino Piontek's Soulmatic is one of the year's most delightfully cohesive offerings. The Dresden-born Deep Funk innovator, aka Purple Disco Machine, has risen to international status since 2009, releasing one spectacular track and remix after another. It should go without saying that this long-awaited collection, featuring everyone from Kool Keith to Faithless and Boris D'lugosch, is ripe with memorable highlights.

The saucy, soaring "Mistress" shines a spotlight on the stellar pipes of "UK soul hurricane" Hannah Williams. While it might be a crowning moment within the set, its the strutting discofied "Body Funk", and the album's first single, "Devil In Me", that linger long after the record has stopped spinning. The former track with its camptastic fusion of '80s Sylvester gone 1940s military march, and the latter anthem, a soulful stunner that samples the 1968 Stax hit "Private Number", and features the vocal talents of Duane Harden and Joe Killington, feels like an unearthed classic. Without a doubt, the German DJ's debut is one of the best dance records of the year.

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