THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING BAND-A Degradation Theory

"...my music is perfect, you could go back to Beethoven and s***, but as far as this lifetime, though, this is all you got." -Kanye West Since the Second Industrial Age began in the late 19th century, human civilization has been continuously shaped and reshaped by notable advancements in technology. With every relevant invention or improved method of production, merchants scurried for the latest competitive edge while their customers rushed the market in search of Read more

ROOM TO BREATHE (Chase The Sample Super-Mix)

Wooooooooo, this is fun!  When it comes to music, I love taking a concept as far as it can go, so the 'Room To Breathe (Chase the Sample Super-Mix)' is a perfect example of my arguably unhealthy obsession with developing a good theme to its full conclusion.  In the past, it was 'Meatshake' or 'Einstein Buys a Monkey' but in 2016, I came up with the idea of singling out an element from my Read more

ROOM TO BREATHE-The Free LP

I am very pleased to announce that Unique Records will be releasing my first ever solo album 'ROOM TO BREATHE-The Free LP'.  This record contains ten, high-velocity, Hip-Hop tracks for listeners who enjoy intricate, action-packed rhyming skill showcased over fresh loops and funky drums.  Lyrically, I pushed myself as far as I could go with regard to style, pace and feel and the result, in my untrustworthy opinion, is a seriously cool collection of Read more

THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING BAND-A Degradation Theory

Posted on by andycooper in ANDY'S ANGLE, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
historic music groups

Thinning personnel of musical outfits over the past 100 years (starting from the upper-left): The Philadelphia Orchestra (1916), The Duke Ellington Orchestra (1937), The Dave Clark 5 (1964), The Ramones (1977), LL Cool J (1986), DJ Pauly D (somewhere in Miami Beach right now)

“…my music is perfect, you could go back to Beethoven and s***, but as far as this lifetime, though, this is all you got.” -Kanye West

Since the Second Industrial Age began in the late 19th century, human civilization has been continuously shaped and reshaped by notable advancements in technology. With every relevant invention or improved method of production, merchants scurried for the latest competitive edge while their customers rushed the market in search of goods that made life more comfortable and convenient.  As horse-drawn buggies gave way to Volkswagen Bugs and telegrams became text messages, the music business also updated its methods for delivering songs to listeners.  Starting with Thomas Edison’s phonograph in 1877, recorded music has been continuously manufactured for the public in constantly updated and increasingly cost-efficient forms.  From wax cylinders to vinyl discs to open reels to cassette tapes to compact discs to MP3’s, the means by which we listen to music has become less expensive to manufacture and easier to access.  While most of us love cheap and easy, it might be worth asking what, when it comes to our music, we may have given up for the sake of expediency. Read more

ROOM TO BREATHE (Chase The Sample Super-Mix)

Posted on by andycooper in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Wooooooooo, this is fun!  When it comes to music, I love taking a concept as far as it can go, so the ‘Room To Breathe (Chase the Sample Super-Mix)’ is a perfect example of my arguably unhealthy obsession with developing a good theme to its full conclusion.  In the past, it was ‘Meatshake’ or ‘Einstein Buys a Monkey’ but in 2016, I came up with the idea of singling out an element from my song ‘Room To Breathe’ and creating what you might call a sample-chain which links that particular part to a bevy of other Hip-Hop classic like a giant line of falling dominoes.  Of course, you would probably need to be a well-schooled aficionado of Golden Era Rap to really appreciate what is being presented but, even if there’s only eight who care about stuff like this, this is seriously cool.

For my late 80’s/early 90’s people, I challenge you to follow this funk family tree from James Brown to the end of the bloodline and pick out all the different audio-bites to determine why one leads to another; believe me, they’re all connected.  Some bits sampled the bit heard right before while other clips share a common sample ancestor with the following clip; see how this works?  The first three people who can give me a complete list of all the samples that play from 0:22 to 3:30 and explain the chain will receive a signed ‘Room To Breathe’ 7″ single which I’ll personally mail to their home along with enough cash to buy a snack.   

I’ll get you started:

Jame’s Brown’s ‘Blind Man Can See It’ was sampled by Das EFX on ‘They want EFX’ which sampled EPMD’s ‘Underground’ which sampled Grover Washington’s ‘Hydra’ which was sampled by A Tribe Called Quest on ‘Check The Rhime’ which sampled Biz Markie’s ‘Nobody Beats The Biz’ which sampled Steve Miller’s ‘Fly Like An Eagle’ which was sampled by EPMD’s ‘You’re A Customer’…get the picture?

Here’s the link to download this track: https://uglyduckling.bandcamp.com/track/room-to-breathe-chase-the-sample-super-mix

 

 

ROOM TO BREATHE-The Free LP

Posted on by andycooper in RAP RELATED, THE FREE EP | 1 Comment

room to breathe coverI am very pleased to announce that Unique Records will be releasing my first ever solo album ‘ROOM TO BREATHE-The Free LP’.  This record contains ten, high-velocity, Hip-Hop tracks for listeners who enjoy intricate, action-packed rhyming skill showcased over fresh loops and funky drums.  Lyrically, I pushed myself as far as I could go with regard to style, pace and feel and the result, in my untrustworthy opinion, is a seriously cool collection of material.  Along with my own production work, I had help from Jungle Josh and Young Einstein on a few numbers, plus, I got excellent tracks off an up-and-coming UK duo called ‘The Allergies’ and my good friends, the ‘True Beatz Crew’ from Berlin. 

Speaking of good friends from Germany, I need to mention that this project really got started when my old pal Henry Storch who, for years, ran the Unique Club in Dusseldorf and maintains a funk label with the same moniker, heard these songs and excitedly proclaimed to me, “This music needed to be out on vinyl!”-who am I to argue with a insistent German?  A few weeks later, my lovely wife Tina snapped a photo of me trying to act aloof and we sent them off to a talented artist named Christian ‘Chrispop’ Beermann who crafted a vibrantly colorful jacket, I couldn’t be more pleased with the design.  And now we’re off!!!

Let me give you the lowdown on the songs… Read more

DO YOU NEED TO BE REAL TO BE REAL?

Posted on by andycooper in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
slim

Slim Jesus spreading his gospel

kayu

Ready to die?

Recently (and unfortunately), I found myself watching Hip-Hop journalist DJ Vlad’s interview of ‘Slim Jesus’, a 19-year-old, white rapper from suburban Ohio.  Slim Jesus has recently experienced a jolt of success from his half-tempo, ode to gun-wagging called ‘Drill Time’ and the accompanying video which features him and his buddies pointing lasered-up glocks and techs toward their cameraman.  On ‘Drill Time’, Slim, who some have mockingly compared to the cartoon character ‘Caillou’, brags incessantly about his vast collection of firearms and a gleeful willingness to use them before delivering his final line:

Ain’t afraid to catch a body and skip out from state to state/
and if there’s a witness, I’mma kill ’em too and I’mma beat the case

Now, there’s really nothing new or shocking about a song like ‘Drill Time’ and one could comfortably make the argument that Slim Jesus’s brand of tough-talk has become passé in Hip-Hop culture; I wouldn’t disagree.  But, I did find one thing particularly refreshing about Slim Jesus which brings me back to the interview I referenced above.  When DJ Vlad quizzed him about street credentials, Slim happily admitted that he had absolutely no connection to crime.  In fact, SJ laughed off the idea of being involved in street work as “Stupid” saying, “I make music and I’m not out here doing some dumb shit trying to ruin what I got goin'”.  When asked why he rapped about guns and murder, Slim unashamedly and inarticulately leveled with his interviewer, “That shit is dope.  If i rapped about driving around in a car and listening to country music, no one would give a fuck about that shit.  I make music about shit that sounds cool”.

Of course, the notoriety of ‘Drill Time’ and Slim Jesus’s admitted lack of street credibility quickly led to a backlash from so-called, ‘real’ street artists like ‘Lil’ Mouse’, ‘Chief Keef’ and, most famously, ‘The Game’ who kindly expressed a fear for ‘Slim’s’ safety lamenting, “Lives can be lost playing those games, be careful Slim Jesus”.  In one sense, I can completely understand any negative reaction caused by a fully fabricated ‘Gangsta’ act and, particularly, the resentment felt by folks who actually endure the dangers of a criminal life.  On the other hand, am I to believe that most ‘Gangsta’ rappers actually live out the lyrics in their songs?  And the bigger question, should they?

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UGLY DUCKLING AND THE BOTTOM LINE

Posted on by andycooper in ANDY'S ANGLE, RAP RELATED, THE UGLY (DUCKLING) TRUTH | 41 Comments

Not long ago, a guy named Matthias contacted EARTOTHETRACK.NET and requested that I write a column about the difficult realities of surviving (I don’t use that word jokingly) as a small-time musical outfit like Ugly Duckling.  Normally, I would stay a mile away from a topic like this because, for me, it’s difficult to imagine that any reader would find a nominal

u.d. backstage

Ugly Duckling backstage in 2014. We, of course, demand gigantic guitar tuning pegs to be mounted in all of our dressing rooms

Hip-Hop group’s struggles compelling or entertaining.  In fact, I generally assume that most people take an interest in music with the intended purpose of escaping their own daily drudgery, not to empathize with the plight of working-class Rap acts who are, at the very least, chasing their dreams and avoiding 9-to-5’s.  Plus, it must be recognized that no authentic aspiring artists (with the possible exception of Gene Simmons) ever joined a band expecting to become wealthy.  We may have fantasized about the gratifying thrill of an audience’s approval and a bit of adventure, but any actual musician’s earliest hope and plea was to simply make a living doing music.  With that clearly stated, it would, in my opinion, be pathetic and condescending to write anything that came across as whiny or ungracious but, in this case, I’ll share some of my more challenging band experiences for, if nothing else, the sake of Matthias’s interest…

 

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BEFORE GAYE VS. THICKE, THERE WAS FANTASY VS. FOGERTY

Posted on by andycooper in CLASSIC POP, STORY BEHIND THE SONG | Leave a comment
john-fogerty

John Fogerty performing in 1970

john-fogerty-lawsuit_5

Fogerty doing an imitation of himself in 1984

From 1968 to 1971, John Fogerty took Creedence Clearwater Revival to the top of the Rock’N’Roll world scoring ten consecutive top-5 hits, many of which featured B-sides tracks that also charted.  All but one of those hits (Suzy Q was a cover) were written and arranged by Fogerty who also held down lead vocals and guitar.  As CCR’s popularity grew, John Fogerty’s prominence became a divisive issue within the group and the other members (Stu Cook, Doug Clifford and Tom Fogerty-John’s older brother) argued for greater influence in the band’s future direction.  So cantankerous was the situation that Creedence eventually split at the height of their fame and never worked together again. Usually, band breakups are ugly but this one became particularly acrimonious when Cook and Clifford (Tom Fogerty died in 1990) sided with the group’s former label ‘Fantasy Records’ when the company took John Fogerty to court for copyright infringement in 1993.  Extraordinarily, the Fantasy lawsuit actually claimed that John Fogerty’s 1985 solo single ‘Old Man Down the Road’ was a Creedence rip-off which essentially meant that Fogerty had, according to Fantasy, plagiarized himself.  It was as if a teacher accused their student of cheating off his own paper… Read more

WHAT IS HIP-HOP AND WHY ARE WE STILL DOING IT?

Posted on by andycooper in RAP RELATED, THE UGLY (DUCKLING) TRUTH | 13 Comments
Ugly Duckling on stage at Brixton Academy in London

UD on stage at Brixton Academy (photo by Nick Sayers)

As Ugly Duckling prepares to embark on another European tour, I can’t help but wonder why three 40-year old men, and the audiences who come to see our show, continue to participate in a youth culture like Hip-Hop.  First off, I think we need to establish what ‘Hip-Hop’ actually is because, throughout the history of Rap music, B-boys and girls have generally disagreed about the fundamental definition of the genre.  Whether arguments have revolved around “Being basic”, “Keeping it real”, “Holding it down” or acting “2 legit 2 quit”, there has never, to my knowledge, been a true consensus on Hip-Hop authenticity.  Is Rap for everybody or strictly a Black art-form?  Is it gold teeth and over-sized T-shirts or tight pants and funny haircuts?  Making mad money or staying underground?  Civilizing the dumb, deaf and blind or deftly slapping the dumb until they’re blind?  Difficult distinctions indeed.  But I do believe that there are certain ties that bind all of us in the world of Hip-Hop and I would like to present five of them here… Read more

1-800-TOM-JONES

Posted on by andycooper in CLASSIC POP, SAY WHAT?! | Leave a comment
"Hello, Police? Someone stole my trousers!"

“Hello, Police? Someone stole my trousers!”

During the mid-1970’s, Welsh Pop vocalist/Chippendale’s dancer Tom Jones had become so financially successful that he, like many British music celebrities, fled the United Kingdom to avoid a taxation system which deducted up to 98% of all unearned income (recording/publishing royalties) over 20,000 pounds ($70,000 in today’s money); yikes!  While Ringo Starr relocated to Monaco, David Bowie headed for Switzerland and The Rolling Stones exiled in France, Jones went west and settled, like ‘The Fresh Prince’, in upscale Bel Air, California (‘Harold Wilson was up to no good/started taking taxes in my neighborhood’) where he would go on to powerfully impact a young, Carlton banks.  But that’s a different story… Read more

THE STORY OF A FAMOUS DOG

Posted on by andycooper in CHASIN' THE FUNK, STORY BEHIND THE SONG | Leave a comment
THE STORY OF A FAMOUS DOG

“I wrote what?”

‘Atomic Dog’ is an Electro-Funk symphony and a futuristic ghetto-opera rolled into one.  Although this messy masterpiece wasn’t a massive commercial success, 1982’s ‘Atomic Dog’ became a classic in the streets and its basic groove has been sampled to spawn more Hip-Hop songs than any column of a reasonable length could list.  Unsurprisingly, the tune was created in a most unusual fashion…

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MY AFTERNOON AS A STAR: Ugly Duckling on ‘Top of the Pops’

Posted on by andycooper in RAP RELATED, THE UGLY (DUCKLING) TRUTH | 5 Comments
TOTP

I’ve got my passport and fifty dollars in that silly pouch around my neck

Recently, when I writing about Jimmie Nicol* and his strange experience as a temporary Beatle in 1964, it reminded me of a time when I, very briefly, was thrust into the unlikely position of Pop-Idol. In June of 1999, Ugly Duckling (the silly, hip-hop band of which I am a member) was given the opportunity to gig around Western Europe for 2 months as the opening act for rap legends ‘The Jungle Brothers’.  At this point in time, Rod, Dustin and I had never taken part in a musical tour and none of us, aside from brief, depressing trips across the Mexican border, had actually left the United States so, as one might imagine, we were very excited and completely out of our depth.  None the less, we over-packed our needlessly large suitcases and boarded a ‘Virgin Atlantic’ flight from LA to London with grand expectations on our minds and newly printed passports in our hands…

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