The Amazon Cloud, A First of Its Kind

Before I begin typing up praises for this new venture, let me say that although I am an Amazon Associate this blog post is NOT being forced by Amazon. Now, unto my blog post...

Now, if you are a loyal Amazon shopper for music then this will come as the best news since they started selling digital music. If you are a loyal Amazon shopper for music with a small hard drive or a nearly-full hard drive then this will come as the best news since you found out about the internet. According to their website, Amazon has become the first music store to have a cloud drive and player for the digital music you purchase!

This is big for several reasons. The best and most obvious benefit of the cloud drive and player is that it takes up NO space on your computer, not even an app or software to install it. Everything (I repeat, everything!) is stored in their datacenters and all you need is a URL (plus your Amazon username and password for purchasing purposes) to access it. Another reason why this is beneficial is because the enjoyment doesn't end at your computer: with an Android-supported system, you can have full access to your music collection to-go on your phone or tablet.

An iType of SIDENOTE: Amazon has not officially made this supportive for Apple/iOS products. However, there is a way that Apple lovers can enjoy this too. According to GeekWord, users must download iCab Mobile on their iPod/Phone/Pad. In the browser, change the Browser ID to Safari 5 (Mac), convincing the cloud that it's not Mobile Safari, and you're in there like swimwear! For more in-depth info, check out the Amazon workaround guide on Mashable and cut to "Alternative Two: iCab to the Rescue." Sorry webOS, nothing's available!

To kick things off on the right foot, Amazon is giving away five FREE gigabytes of storage on the cloud drive, so get started now!

Oh, and once you open your cloud drive be sure to purchase music from my Amazon aStore! It's been updated with the latest and greatest music available on Amazon.

Govinda Talks About Sexiness of Violin

I must personally say that as I was working on a preview of Atlanta's MaMaJam (happening tonight at the Five Spot btw, so read about it here), I would've never imagined the things I learned about sensuality within the most technical music genres and instruments.

What dub and electronic music and violins have in common is that they have a neglected sensual side (more about it can be read in my Examiner article here), most of it due to the attention of its technicality. Think: most people focus on the arrangement and production of dub so much, the lines in-between, connotations, and cultural background - heck, even the cries within these sounds (if you listen carefully) - are all pushed aside. There is something like a cry or yearn or desire that a violin and other sounds within dub and electronic music makes, but it's a sound that goes unheard.

Enters Govinda - a violinist and dubstep/electronic music artist. Rarely do you see someone successfully integrate two musical paths that require much-needed attention, unless you already eff with Govinda. He makes the violin and electronic music sexy from an exotic standpoint, creating his own lane. I spoke with him while journo-ing on MaMaJam over the phone about sensuality and his development as a violinist.

This is an excerpt of what we discussed, so if it sounds like stuff came out of nowhere then ignore that feeling. Ha!

Also, check out his album Universal On Switch in the music player above!

How have you developed as an artist over the years?

Until out of college, I only listened to classical music. After college, I decided I wasn’t really good as a violinist, well, a concert violinist who plays symphonies, so I decided to make up my own compositions. There’s a lot of violinist out there who are doing contemporary music, but it’s more used for solo pieces. For me, it’s just a small piece of what makes up Govinda. The violin is usually a focal point live, but it isn’t a focal point in the music. Over time, it developed based on the things I was inspired by, which were the sensual kind of quality and the haunting quality of the violin. Also, the sexy quality of the violin and the mysterious quality. All these things helped design the music and how it sounded.

It’s rare to hear someone say that the violin is sexy. What do you mean when you say that?

The sounds that come out of it, the emotions that it brings out, the feelings that it brings out for people, which tend to be more on the sensual side. You don’t really think of the sounds of the violin in the way you think of the sounds of a tuba or the drum. It evokes a different feeling and emotion, and I would say in general the violin and other string instruments are more sensual in nature. Then again, I don’t really know what it is! Maybe it has to do with the body shape of the instrument, haha.

Oh, is that not your cup of tea? Is the body shape of the violin the kind of chicks you go for?

Nope, that’s my cup of tea. I like anything sexy.

Not very many people I know in music talk about violin like that, especially the sound of it because it’s usually used so technically. Now that I think about it, I could see that.

My whole life I was raised in an environment where sensuality was a big part of our life. I was raised by my mother who taught us differently. We were allowed to watch sex scenes on TV, but not violence, so we would have to cover our eyes when somebody on TV was shooting, which is pretty much the opposite of people. I grew up in this world where it was like sex and sensuality is a natural part of humanity and being alive. That’s why the music and the shows are very sensual. We have dancers, mainly with the female body, who dance provocatively. A lot of what I do is super sexy because that’s what it’s all about for me. Well, NOT what it’s ALL about, but a big part of it.

I got you. It’s not overly sexual or hypersexual.

Not exactly, I mean, not to say we haven’t had strippers and poles onstage but it’s not really what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to have more of a tasteful sensuality rather than just balls out, like tits and ass and sex on the stage. I mean, I’m not saying we’ll never do something like that one day and surprise people, but that’s not really our goal, or what we’re doing.

Will all that unfold at MaMaJam?


Ok. Well, what all will you be doing at MaMaJam?

Yeah, I play the violin live and we’re gonna have dancers. We’re also gonna have hoopers and belly dancers, also fire dancers and whatever the promoter is putting together. My part will definitely involve lots of live music and violin playing, and an overall performance that most people don’t expect. It’ll be fun and interesting.

Video: Abby Gogo Rocks Out at Star Bar

For Examiner, I caught some sweet, colorful footage while covering the SXSW Send-Off Party for Back Pockets, Reptars and the video performers Abby Gogo.

Abby Gogo, in one word, is versatile. They flip their garage rock sound in just about any way possible - from the slow, noisy kind to the fun and fast kind. They have punk tendencies and lyricism, but they successfully complement it with an experimental and quite sluggish music.

In this video, the band performs "Louder Than Dreams," a sick single off their self-titled album. The song shows off how versatile these cats are, with riffs that go against their typical repertoire and with lyrics that can amp up the coolest person (even though you can barely hear them in the video, thanks to the bad sound). Overall, Abby Gogo is a fun band to listen to and see perform.

Atlanta's lucky to have such a diverse local music scene! Well, at least I'm glad to witness all of it.

Oh, and check me out on YouTube because I always try to upload music videos!

Album Review: Lupe Fiasco - L.A.S.E.R.S.

LasersLupe Fiasco has quickly become one of the greatest lyricists of our time - easily! Blasting his way into the hiphop scene with Food & Liquor, he took folks away from worrying about how blinged out they had to be and ultimately provided a totally new perspective within the hiphop community. Conscious lyricism at-heart, Lupe made his music appreciative by old heads, young'ns, and even the non-hiphop listeners. He actually had enough of a following to form together so that this album would see the light of day.

Little did the people know that this would be the album that had millions shouting "We are not losers. We are L.A.S.E.R.S."

The opening wasn't half bad, to be frank. It was typical Lupe Fiasco, spitting prolific rhymes aimed at breaking through the minds of the socially oblivious. Production was on-point for this portion: tense, energetic to the point of awakening for Lupe's conscious lyrics and it even rocked out from a Japanese Cartoon/punk-pop standpoint. "Words I Never Said" is the strongest track on the entire album as it possesses everything that Lupe wanted to get across to his listeners, executives and maybe himself. However, it wasn't strong enough to carry fans through the other 40 minutes of L.A.S.E.R.S. (yes, even with Skylar Grey's amazing voice!).

Once the album hits "I Don't Wanna Care Right Now," Lupe becomes cliche, pop-ish and confusing. He goes from putting out a dance record to acting like a baby about it in three songs or less, as present in the middle of this album. With L.A.S.E.R.S., Lupe has his fans thinking that he is either taking an exaggerative and sarcastic leap into pop culture or he put that kind of material out because of the flack his label gave him to satisfy their demands.

Overall, Lupe has some random lyrical content in his head. There's little to no conceptual records on there, and nearly every song could leave listeners trying to figure out where he's going. "I Don't Wanna Care Right Now," "All Black Everything" and "Words I Never Said" aren't as complicated and abstract as the rest of his records, but lyrically Lupe wasn't as adventurous as he was in Food & Liquor and The Cool.

One thing that is blatantly present in L.A.S.E.R.S. is some mildly depressing lyrics. Almost every title has some sort of gloom to it, except for "The Show Goes On," Lupe's least moody track. However, this isn't even a depression that can be felt by his listeners, but only himself. He stingily writes rhymes laced with tantrums, depression and obscurity.

Too much was done to bring L.A.S.E.R.S. into existence. When was the last time you heard of different cities forming marches for an album release? And for Lupe to put out such garbage after all his fans have done for him (garbage that he even admits is garbage), should let fans know that he ignored their cries for new Lupe Fiasco music.

Star's Grade: D+ (this grade may be biased because I was one of those people who wanted L.A.S.E.R.S, but I don't think he disappointed anyone more than me with this record.)

White House Band Takes on SXSW: Who Are They???

All month this month and last month, there has been all kinds of artists getting their ish together for SXSW. One band who has tons going for them next week - including a new EP, tons of firepower and spunk - is the White House Band. Who are they and what in God's name is a "New Vogue" sound? David E. Beats explains below.

How did you come together and form the White House Band?

I was doing my thing solo, and decided that if I wanted to take things to the next level a band would be needed. I found the guys, and the rest is history! 

Why name yourself after the home of the Oval Office anyway? How often do you guys get the label “political group” because of your name?

Never. I'm from DC, and I always wanted a band called The White House Band. I try to keep the content non political! 

Can you further explain “New Vogue,” aside from it being a fusion of hard rock, hiphop and blues?

It’s just a new style of music period, where things don’t fit in the standard urban/pop categories. 

The whole rap and rock fusion with any band almost immediately gets people to hesitate to listen because of how many bands are clichéd with it. What separates WHB from the typical rap/rock group?

We are different because I don't want to cliché it. I just literally want real hard rock songs with me rapping over them. 

Overall who are your musical influences?

We literally love everyone. From Kanye to Led Zepp to Thin Lizzy etc. It would take too long to name.

Tell me about your creative process because I see on your site that all of you except Elder write lyrics. Take me through a studio session with you guys from getting a concept to writing out the song to executing it. Do you guys sit and come up with content think-tank style or is it just a matter of the song being based on how you guys feel that day?

Songs come about usually when I come thru with a riff or idea. Then we just build off that. Literally. It’s that simple. 

What’s the deal with your new project The Stimulus Package, content-wise? What should I be looking out for when I bump this? Should I be ready to party? Chill? Spaz? Think politically? Call my mom or my kids to tell them I love them? What kind of record is The Stimulus Package?

Just be ready to enjoy a good record. We're all about entertaining, and we just want people to feel entertained!

What will be the next project from WHB? What material should we be expecting from you now that Stimulus is out?

Expect more groundbreaking shit. Basically

How do you plan on further developing as musicians?

Easy, doing more live shows, seeing what the crowd likes and dislikes and keep hitting them with what they like!

What do you look forward to the most at SXSW?

Playing some of the most bangingest showcases out there!

Ok, besides performing, what’s another thing you look forward to the most at SXSW?

That about it. Maybe the warm weather! 

Is this your first time at SXSW? What should folks expect from your show at SXSW?

This is not the first time but it is the first time we will be making an impact down there. Just expect to be entertained. And to have fun!

What’s your ultimate purpose as musicians and as a band?

To entertain. Music first above all else. I just want to have fun and I'm sure you all do too!

Where can people find you and keep up with you guys ?

Public Radio & TV (De)funded??? UPDATE: NPR Defunded.

It seems like whenever publicly-ran entities take one step forward, the next move will bring them two giant leaps back... What a stinking rollercoaster public radio has been on!

Remember the post about the Local Community Radio Act Passed? Well, weeks later there's been a blow to keeping public media alive. February 19, the House has passed a bill that cuts ALL financing for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for the year 2013, according to a report from the New York Times. While President Obama is trying to increase funding for the CPB, $6 mill increase according to NY Times, "a collective $75.8 million for other public media initiatives, like the Dept. of Education's Ready to Learn Program, was eliminated from the President's budget."

Does the Corporation for Public Broadcasting sound familiar? (HINT: you might hear it at the end of every show on PBS or NPR) Well, CPB is responsible for a chunk of PBS' and NPR's funding. This includes such amazing broadcasts as All Songs Considered, World Cafe, hell, even Arthur and The Diane Rehm Show!!!

While small town public radio has protection with the latest Local Community Radio Act, big-time national public radio and TV is about to suffer! Sure, things can change between now and 2013 (including the whole 2012 thing), but the last thing we need is the process in eliminating radio and TV that has always been for the people. Think of how many times news was broke thanks to NPR? How much you learned from the oh-so-neighborly Mister Rodgers? Happy Trees, anyone? Let's not talk about Reading Rainbow.... And then radio: although NPR itself is enough to lose, what about the massive amounts of job creation that came from NPR (also the ample internship programs provided by them)? A cut from the government's funding would harm the hell out of public radio!

NPR isn't sitting quietly on this issue. While an NPR exec has been caught in a sting video saying that eventually public media will be better off without federal funding, the PMA (an initiative between NPR and the Association of Public Television Stations) has shown outrage regarding the House bill. "To dismantle a public broadcasting system that 170 million Americans regularly rely on for lifelong learning, in-depth news and public affairs programming, and world class - all for the sake of reducing one year's federal budget deficit by less than three thousandths of one percent - is to recklessly defy the will of the American people, who routinely rank public broadcasting just behind national defense as the best use of taxpayer dollars," PMA President Patrick Butler said on NPR's website.

Although there is some truth in the possibility of public media without federal funding, it is scary to see how fast Congress is pulling out assistance from corporate public entities like CPB, NPR and PBS. It's like when it comes to eliminating funds - even if it's 3/1000 of 1% of the federal budget deficit that is dedicated toward educational and cultural programming - the government is becoming a bit too scissor-happy for things the people value the most.

Fortunately, you can act now by signing a petition made by that states "Congress must protect NPR and PBS and guarantee them permanent funding, free from political meddling."


Oh, and by the way, All Songs has been streaming outrageously amazing performances and uploading some of the best video footage from SXSW so broke-arses like me can witness the glorious festivities. Yeah.