Rhymefest & Thom Yorke Review

This week on the show Jim and Greg welcome a hip hop star on the rise—Rhymefest. Plus, they’ll review the new record from Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke and take a look at the life and times of Syd Barrett.

Rhymefest
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The 2006 Nielsen Soundscan midyear report came out this week, and some of its findings are surprising. While the buzz seems to be that the music industry is being killed by digital music sales, which increased by 77% from 2005, albums are only down by 4.2%. So Jim and Greg aren’t consoling record executives just yet. The more significant revelation? The disconnect between what critics enjoy and what people buy may be even greater than previously thought. The number-one selling album of the year so far is not by a venerated rock artist or a hip-hop star—rather, it’s the soundtrack to High School Musical, a Disney made-for-TV movie. The tween phenomenon shows how young girls still have much of the buying power in the industry. Coming in second is country/ pop act Rascal Flatts. And a further scan of the list reveals that Jim and Greg were only compelled to review two of the records on it: Mary J. Blige’s The Breakthrough and Taking the Long Way by the Dixie Chicks. Hopefully that trends turn around in the months to come. Otherwise Jim and Greg will have to score that interview with Zac after all...

Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett died this week at his home in Cambridge, England. Barrett started the band, which he named after two American bluesmen, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, in 1965. After releasing The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (which was recorded at Abbey Road the same year as the other British psychedelic hallmark, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band), Barrett became a superstar. However, as Jim and Greg explain, this natural frontman shunned the spotlight. Barrett became a heavy LSD user and was likely suffering from schizophrenia. By 1968 he was forced to leave the band. He subsequently made two solo albums, but eventually went into virtual exile. Yet his influence on the band, and on future musicians, remained strong, as bandmate Nick Mason tells Jim. Mason, like all Pink Floyd fans, understood what a talent Barrett was and wished he had intervened to prevent such a tragic end. Still, Barrett’s legacy lives on through his music. Listen to Baby Lemonade, one of Barrett’s last performances with members of Pink Floyd, as well as David Bowie’s cover of See Emily Play.

Rhymefest

Rapper Rhymefest joins Jim and Greg on the show this week. Rhymefest, born Che Smith in Chicago’s Jeffrey Manor neighborhood, is one of many Chicago rappers slated to be the next Kanye or Common. But Rhymefest is no novice to the scene. A longtime staple of the city’s battle rapping scene, Rhymefest initially claimed fame after defeating Eminem in an emcee tournament. He later helped to pen Kanye West’s Grammy-winning song Jesus Walks. But now listeners can hear some of Rhymefest’s own work, from his major label debut Blue Collar, released this week.

Two of the tracks you’ll hear are Devil’s Pie, which is based on a sample of The StrokesSomeday, and Bullet, which samples Citizen Cope’s Bullet and a Target. Rhymefest plays Bullet and explains the story behind this track to Jim and Greg. He recounts being at the mall, and seeing a promotion to win a brand new Hummer. But upon further investigation, the rapper discovers that this is not a sweepstakes he is signing up for, but rather the U.S. Army.

The Eraser Thom Yorke

The Eraser

Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke recently put out a new album, The Eraser. It’s his first solo album, though as he explained to Jim and Greg a few weeks ago, it’s perhaps unfair to label it as such. Many of the tracks were composed by members of the band, and it was produced by longtime Radiohead collaborator Nigel Godrich. But the record is credited to Yorke, so Jim and Greg decide to stick with the term solo. Jim has long resisted jumping on the Radiohead train, though he’s always enjoyed their rhythm section as well as their live performances—so it’s interesting that this album, which lacks the bombast of their live shows, is the one to finally teach Jim to stop worrying and love the Yorke. He gives it a Buy It rating. Greg, a longtime Radiohead fan, is actually the dissenter here. He likes the record, but finds it to be merely a modest production, earning a modest Burn It.

Testimony: Vol.1, Life & Relationship India.Arie

Testimony: Vol. 1 Life & Relationship

The number-one album this week is India.Arie’s third release Testimony: Vol.1, Life & Relationship. It’s the first number-one record for the neo-soul singer, who previously achieved success with Acoustic Soul and its hit single, Video. But while they admired the earlier album’s stripped-down and sensual approach, neither Jim nor Greg find the new effort to be successful. Even though it means well, Jim says that he despises Testimony and its pseudo-self-help lyrics. Greg agrees, citing cliché after cliché as reasons he won’t be going back for another listen. This number-one record gets two Trash Its.

Jim

Just as Rhymefest was inspired by The Strokes’ song Someday, which he sampled in his track Devil’s Pie, Jim, too, was inspired to choose it as his Desert Island Jukebox song. While the Strokes don’t have a typical hip-hop sound, Jim explains that their rhythms, which echo a New York subway train, have a very hip-hop beat and momentum. The man largely responsible for that sound is drummer Fabrizio Moretti, who Jim admires for being a masterful, simplistic drummer, if not for a few other reasons.

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