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Recommendations for May 20, 2012

Mix: “Eight and a Half’s mix of forward-thinking-future-beat instrumental hip hop” by Eight and a Half
Yeah, the title is too long, but it also expresses the difficulty of figuring out exactly what to call a lot of this stuff (what IS Flying Lotus, for instance?). Last week, I posted a Tokimonsta remix of an Eight and a Half song (that is also featured in this mix); apparently, they are a group made up of members of the Stills and Broken Social Scene, and they released a record last month on Arts and Crafts. Anyway, I don’t love everything in this mix, but a lot of it is great.
Article: “With Spotify and Its Ilk, There’s No ‘My’ in Music Anymore” by Randall Roberts
I grew up in a place where, until like 1996, there was literally no place in town that sold CDs— and the first place that did was a video rental place that had a selection of about 30 albums. There were places that sold tapes, like the grocery store, but, again, their selection was limited. You could sometimes find surprising things— I bought Edutainment by Boogie Down Productions, out of a case maybe two and a half feet square at the Tuba City Trading Post— but you certainly couldn’t count on finding the particular thing you were looking for. To get most things, you either had to drive 75 miles to the nearest town of any size, or order it through the mail (which meant filling out a form by hand a writing a check). CD burners were around eventually, but they were way beyond the price range of anybody I knew; you could make a tape copy of things, but that was slow and every copy was reduced in quality. 
The point is, for me, owning a real, physical copy of a record was the goal— and a lot of the stuff I was reading about was simply unavailable, too small or obscure to be readily obtainable. I knew FAR more names of bands and artists than I could possibly get ahold of. 
This piece is about the fact that having a physical copy of an album— or even “owning” it, in the usual sense— is now kind of irrelevant (or at least getting that way). With services like Spotify and Rdio, it is easier and easier to hear anything you want, when you want. It’s possible to overstate this— the fact that I couldn’t buy Katy B’s album last year (legally) in the US without waiting six months for the US release or paying $35 for an import shows that the walls have not all come down— but it certainly true that physical media are less and less important, and it makes less and less sense to think of any particular release as difficult to find. Like the author, I feel a bit of nostalgia for obscurity, but in general I think this is entirely a good thing.  
Song: “Corpcore (Kingdom Remix)” by Fatima al Qadiri
al Qadiri, described here as a “Brooklyn-via-Kuwait-via-Senegal experimental producer,” is hard to describe. Her music is mostly electronic, and incorporates influences from, broadly speaking, Middle Eastern music. This is a remix of one of the pieces from her last album. It is dark and droney and pretty great.
Album Stream: “Cancer for Cure” by El-P
El-P used to be the owner/manager of the label Definitive Jux, which is now “on hiatus”; it was one of the most forward-looking hip-hop labels. His new solo record will be out Tuesday, May 22, but you can listen to it here before then. It will not be for everybody; El-P’s sensibility is unremittingly bleak and his production is dense and maybe a bit noisy. But it also has an incomparable energy and intensity, and sounds like nobody else. Perhaps more importantly, unlike so many rappers— including many that are better than he is, at least in technical terms—he seems to have something to say.

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