rap music

#464: “Would anybody tell me if I was gettin’…stupider?”

FLATLINE

GETTING MORE TALE #464: “Would anybody tell me if I was gettin’…stupider?”

Can popular music make you dumber?  That depends on who you listen to.

Youngsters growing up in the 60’s and 70’s would be forgiven for thinking that a “light year” was a unit of time.

“And here I sit, hand on the telephone, hearing a voice I’d known, a couple of light years ago.”

Joan Baez wrote those words, which certainly paint an image in your mind, but she misused the words “light years”.  A light year isn’t a unit of time.  It’s a unit of distance.  A light year is how far light can travel in a vacuum in one year:  It is 9,460,730,472,580,800 meters.   Such mistakes were common; even George Lucas made the mistake in the first Star Wars.  He wrote that the Millenium Falcon is the ship that made the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs.  A parsec is not a unit of time.  It too is a measurement of distance – 3.26 light years!*

If you’re a Billy Joel fan, you’re probably familiar with “The Ballad of Billy the Kid”.  There have been a lot of myths and half-truths about the Kid in cinema, but Joel wasn’t aiming for accuracy.  Therefore it didn’t bother him to write that the Kid was hung, when he was actually shot by Pat Garrett.

These kinds of mistakes are not terrible sins.  Most people would be forgiven for not knowing how Billy the Kid died.  Nobody is getting their science lessons from Joan Baez.  However, it is important to take note.  Kids today are impressionable, and sometimes take the words of their pop heroes as gospel.  Let us hope this is not the case with the rapper who calls himself B.o.B.

Now, B.o.B. is one of those folks who does not believe the Earth is a sphere.  B.o.B. believes the Earth is a flat disc — he is what they call a “Flat Earther”.  Forget everything you know about the universe, about how gravity works, or even that trip you took to Australia two summers ago.  According to B.o.B., whose science credentials include dropping out of school in the ninth grade, “I didn’t wanna believe it either.”  However, “there’s no way u [sic] can see all the evidence and not know.”

I wonder if the Flat Earthers and the Hollow Earthers ever get together for a good old-fashioned rumble to decide who is right?

Recently, B.o.B. has picked a fight with Neil deGrasse Tyson, world renowned astrophysicist and surely one of the smartest people alive.  B.o.B. questioned the “international laws” that “prevent you” from exploring Antarctica and the north pole.  “What’s there to hide?” asks B.o.B.  I don’t know what international laws he’s talking about.  The Top Gear guys drove their cars to the (magnetic) north pole without violating any laws.  Nobody “disappeared” Jeremy Clarkson afterwards (though some would like to for other reasons).

Clearly frustrated with his attempts to talk sense and science into the rapper, Tyson tweeted “Flat Earth is a problem only when people in charge think that way. No law stops you from regressively basking in it.”  In response, B.o.B. replied in the way he knows best: in song.  His brand new song “Flatline” mocks Tyson for his stance.  The cover art is an aerial shot of a city.  The lyrics refer to science as a cult, and advise Neil to “loosen up your vest”.  Tyson responded with class:  “Duude — to be clear: Being five centuries regressed in your reasoning doesn’t mean we all can’t still like your music.”

Don’t listen to B.o.B. for your science facts.  How do we know the world is round?  Because B.o.B. uploaded his track to Soundcloud.  He did this via the internet, which people connect to every day using satellites.  These satellites circle in geostationary orbits, something impossible if the Earth were a disc.  In fact, we have been using satellites since 1957.  Unfortunately in this age of “I only believe in what I can see,” it seems B.o.B. has taken the technology for granted. “Flat line, flat line, you fooled us for the last time,” he raps cluelessly.

Still confused?  Here’s deGrasse Tyson.  Take it away, Neil!

B.o.B. sampled this video (the part where Tyson trips over his words at 40 seconds in) in his song to mock the scientist.

 

* The Star Wars expanded universe retroactively explained this by saying that Han Solo did make the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs, by achieving the shortest distance through a treacherous region of space.

 

 

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MOVIE REVIEW: Snoop Lion – Reincarnated (2013)

SNOOP LION – Reincarnated (2013 Vice films)

Directed by Andy Capper

What the hell?  It’s not April 1.  Are you on the wrong site?

Nope, it’s me, LeBrain.  And today we’re going to be talking about a Snoop Lion movie.  Snoop Lion, aka the artist formerly known as Snoop Dogg.

It may surprise you to learn that Snoop Dogg/Lion entertains me.  It was one of my old staff guys, Matty K, who exposed me to Snoop’s music.  I enjoyed the humour in the lyrics and his smoove voice.  He’s funny. And, let’s face it, who didn’t think he kicked ass as Huggy Bear in Starsky and Hutch?

Reincarnated is a documentary that chronicles Snoop’s transformation from gangsta to peaceful Rasta.  This process included a visit to Jamaica, to record his first ever Reggae album (Reincarnated) with such talented artists as Bunny Wailer, Damien Marley and Stewart Copeland of The Police.  (Snoop: “We got the drummer from The fuckin’ Po-lice!”)   He also had the last surviving Wailer.  The creative process of the album is observed, and it’s always fascinating to me, to watch songs evolve.  Snoop’s singing voice does well with Reggae.  He is a natural fit, and he had some damn good guidance there in Kingston.

Snoop discusses his early adult life as a pimp bluntly and honestly, but says that he wasn’t comfortable with that lifestyle and image any longer after his friend Tupac Shakur was killed.  The night Tupac died is described in full detail; a heavy moment in the film.  After this, Snoop decided on a change of lyrical direction, under the guidance of Master P of No Limits records.  Louis Farrakhan became a guiding force to Snoop at this time, and Snoop was inspired by the Nation of Islam to clean up his act.  The process of transformation led him to many moments of epiphany, but the death of his friend Nate Dogg in 2011 really hit him hard.

I won’t lie to you, there’s a shit-ton of weed in this movie.  One memorable scene involves a trip up a mountain with some local Rastas (where they grow the herb) to smoke the herb.  While climbing down the mountain, Snoop’s cousin falls down laughing, and can barely stand, having smoked so much.  You will even see Bunny Wailer smoking a pipe made out of a carrot, I shit you not.  It’s there, it’s part of it.  If that’s not something you need to see, fair enough.

As fascinating, sincere and transformative the movie seems, I did wonder if Snoop has maintained his Rasta values and practices?  Or if this too was a phase?  In researching for this review I found that Bunny Wailer has since accused Snoop of “outright fraudulent use” of Rastafari.  This issue comes up in the film itself in a segment with Bunny.  He does not seem to like the commercialization of Rastafarian culture, through popular music, images and style.  It seems that since the movie, he lumps Snoop into that category.

Be that as it may, I’m only going to review the film, regardless of that controversy.  I enjoyed it, quite a bit actually, and I’m putting the album on my Amazon wishlist.

4/5 stars

Part 225: Bait & Switch

WEIRD FOO EP_0001

RECORD STORE TALES Part 225:  Bait & Switch

One Wednesday afternoon in 1997, I was working alone. A gentleman in his mid-20’s walked into my store. He browsed the hip-hop section and I asked him if he needed any help finding anything. He said no, and was pleasant enough. About 10 minutes later, he approached the counter to make a purchase.

I knew immediately there was a problem. In his hands was a used copy of Puff Daddy’s brand new smash hit album, No Way Out. It had one of our Bargain Bin stickers on it, priced at $5.99. However the album was a fairly new release, and any used copies we had were always priced at $11.99. I’d never put one of them in my Bargain Bin, ever at this point. You just didn’t throw a new release into a sale bin. As Puffy said, “It’s all about the Benjamins.”

I couldn’t rule out staff error, so I double checked. Each price tag had a stock number on it. That stock number told me the location of the actual CD; the discs were all kept safely behind the counter.

Sure enough, I referred to the stock number which led me to a completely different CD, one that was common for our Bargain Bin. It wasn’t staff error. This meant that somebody switched the Puff Daddy price tag with another CD, from our Bargain Bin.

I knew this wasn’t going to be easy.

“OK, I have a problem here,” I began, as gently as I could. After all, I had no way of knowing for sure that this guy switched the tags himself. It was probable that he would, very few people would switch a price tag and leave it. I could even see where the tag was peeled off and re-applied. “This CD isn’t actually $5.99. It’s supposed to say $11.99. It looks to me like someone switched the price tags. I’m not saying it was you…I’m sorry about this…but I can’t sell you this disc for $5.99. $5.99 is less than we actually paid for it.”

He shrugged. “That’s not my problem. You have to honor the price tag.”

“This price tag,” I countered, “links back to a CD by Hole. I can sell you that CD for $5.99, but not Puff Daddy. This is a brand new release, we never put new releases out in our Bargain Bin.”

Then he got fancy. “Are you familiar with the Bait & Switch law?”

I was. From Wikipedia:

First, customers are “baited” by merchants’ advertising products or services at a low price, but when customers visit the store, they discover that the advertised goods are not available, or the customers are pressured by sales people to consider similar, but higher priced items (“switching”).

“This isn’t a Bait & Switch,” I argued. “Somebody else switched the price tag. Like I said, this tag right here links back to Hole, not Puffy. I can sell you Hole for $5.99, for Puffy, you’d pay $11.99. Again, I’m not saying you switched it. But somebody did. I’m sorry about that but I can’t lose money on this CD because somebody switched a price tag on me.”

“Legally, you are obligated to let me have that CD for $5.99. You’re in violation of Bait & Switch laws. Do you want me to get the cops involved?”

I knew he wouldn’t do that. “You can do that if you want, but what’s to stop me from going over to Walmart, taking a price tag from a $2 bag of chips, and putting it on a CD myself? Would Walmart have to sell me that CD for $2?”

Cool as a cucumber, he just shrugged.

It was at that moment that my boss walked in.

“What seems to be the problem here?” he asked.

I explained the whole situation, how somebody switched the price tag, and how he wanted Puffy for $5.99. I explained how I was 100% certain of the situation, and how the stock code on the price tag led me to a $5.99 Hole CD.

One issue that I had with my boss was that he didn’t always stick up for store managers in situations like this. I could never predict if he would stick up for us or cave.  So what did he do? He apologized profusely and he rang in the CD for $7.99 or something like that. The customer was happy as could be, so polite.

He strolled out knowing he’d won. I wonder who he scammed next?

I walked over to the Puff Daddy section to see if I could find evidence of the missing but correct price tag. Sure enough, what did I find? A Hole CD, with a poorly applied $11.99 price tag on it, in the hip-hop section not far from Puffy. And what did that $11.99 tag’s stock code lead me to? The spot that the Puffy disc occupied.

An $8 scam was hardly going to break the bank, but I felt about two feet tall, because I knew I was right. I never let anybody else scam me in that way again.  But that’s another story…

Gallery: Linkin Park edition Soundwave Transformers figure!

A few months ago, I did a video review of one of my favourite Transformers toys, Soundblaster aka Soundwave.

Linkin Park must dig him too.  Check out this article at Seibertron.com, for a full gallery of Botcon 2013 photos of the official Soundwave – Linkin Park Edition figure! It’s really cool looking.  The set contains recoloured G1 Soundwave, Ravage, Ratbat, and Lazerbeak figures, all done up in gold.  According to the Linkin Park website, Joe Hahn is behind the colour choice.  Only 2000 will be made.

SEIBERTRONclick the pic to get to the gallery!

Part 207: Make ‘Em Say UHHH

RECORD STORE TALES Part 207:  Make ‘Em Say UHHH

Working in a used CD store, not only did we get to see lots of cool stuff, but we got to look inside.  Anything that appeared remotely interesting, cool, amusing, or weird, you could open up the booklet and have a look.  Some of the oddest things that amused us were the ads inside releases from No Limit Records.  No Limit is a rap label.  They heavily cross-promoted all their artists, and their roster once boasted Snoop Dogg himself for a couple albums.  You’d see ads for all their albums (all the art obviously done by the same people), and…sometimes…an ad for the talking Master P doll!  “Make ‘Em Say Uhhh!”, as seen below…

Uhhh! Na na, na na.  Uhhh!  Na na, na na.

Next time on Record Store Tales….

FLASHBACK!

REVIEW: The Tom Green Show – The Complete Series – Inside & Outside the Box (2005)

Thanks Dave FM for the chance to meet Tom Green!

GREENTOM GREEN – Inside & Outside the Box – The Tom Green Show: The Complete Series (2005 VSC)

As longtime LeBrain readers know, I was named King of the 4-O’clock 4-Play by Craig Fee on Dave FM.  I won a lot of stuff on that show.  One of the best things I won was a pair of tickets to see Tom Green at Crysalids Theatre, 9/22/11 with my best buddy Peter.  Tom was great, it was a celebration of the true spirit of stand-up comedy and he stuck around to take photos and sign stuff with everybody afterward.  I don’t think Tom Green gets enough respect for being an innovator as a comedian.  That’s why I felt inspired enough to write this review.

The most important thing to know about Tom Green:  MTV ruined Tom Green!  The MTV years, although peppered with some genius sketches such as “Undercutter’s Pizza”, was not at all what the original Tom Green Show was about.

This 3 disc set comprises Tom Green’s entire Comedy Network shows. In other words, the good stuff.  The weird stuff.  The offensive stuff.  The stuff that Jackass ended up ripping off (particularly Bam Margera).  Best of all though, this is the pre-fame stuff.  Tom Green could still run around downtown Ottawa without people knowing it was for a TV show.

You will see herein:

* Tom throwing all of Glenn Humplik’s clothes out of a plane in an evil double-cross.
* Tom burning Glenn’s shirt.
* Will Ferrell proclaiming that he hates Glenn and wants to punch him.
* Tom turning grape juice into pee (for science)!
* The dead raccoon.
* Tom demonstrating how a bus cannot move if you place your face on the bus.
* Repainting his dad’s car with a huge portrait of two naked women (the “slutmobile”).
* “Scuba Hood”.  He robs from the poor (fountains in malls, apparently) and gives to the rich (banks).
* Hanging his painting, “Tiger Zebra”, in the Ottawa Art Gallery, and then defacing it.
* and much, much more….

What you won’t see:

* You won’t see any bums on Swedishes.  That’s MTV stuff and not even half as good as this earlier stuff.

What I still like about the Tom Green show is that it is seldom mean spirited.  He picks on his friend Glenn a lot, which I can’t help but think that Kenny Hotz ripped off later on.  Everything else was done in this pseudo-naive childish fashion, and that is why I can watch The Tom Green Show over a decade later and laugh like the first time I saw it. This DVD for me has rendered obselete all of his old VHS tapes that I collected religiously. That stuff is on here, and it’s as fresh as ever.

I wonder whatever happened to Glenn’s clothes?

5/5 stars