Strange Famous Records

LI(F)E album: artwork by the legendary Shepard Fairey

The new album Li(f)e by hip hop iconoclast Sage Francis is an impassioned and timely critique of cultural hypocrisy and organized religion. The record’s cover art has been created by renowned artist and illustrator Shepard Fairey who first gained notoriety with his “André the Giant” street art and later with his iconic Obama “Hope” poster. For the cover of Li(f)e Fairey has employed his distinctive agitprop style to create a suitably provocative image of an unwavering and winged Francis caught in the crosshairs as flames rise beneath him.

THE MUSIC

Musically Li(f)e is refreshingly unique. Francis’ biting and sardonic wordplay now further empowered by Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 03

B. Dolan’s record release show!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72pnDFNEQzU&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

The “Fallen House, Sunken City” record release show on 2/27/10 at Jerky’s in Providence, RI was one of the best shows I’ve ever been a part of for a variety of reasons. Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 28

B. Dolan “EARTHMOVERS” video and photos

B. Dolan and I flew out to Kansas City from February 19-22 to film the video for his “Earthmovers” song (www.FallenHouse.com for more info on that album!)

I was prepared for high quality work from the director, Kyle Harbaugh, but the kind of things he worked out for “Earthmovers” is beyond anything we could have Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 24

“Fallen House, Sunken City” is going to slay you.

B. Dolan’s new album “Fallen House, Sunken City” is produced entirely by ALIAS. It features P.O.S., Cadence Weapon, Buddy Peace, “What Cheer?” Brigade and it drops on March 2, 2010. Check out the video and download the first single for free at www.FallenHouse.com

go to www.FallenHouse.com for all info

go to www.FallenHouse.com for all info

Two years of pain-staking labor…on March 2nd the child is born. There’s so much I’d like to say about this album but it’s probably best that we let the music speak for itself. If you’re half excited as we are about this project then it’s going to be a hell of a year for B. Dolan, Alias, myself and everyone else at Strange Famous Records. Please check out the details and updates as they funnel in at www.FallenHouse.com

If you are bored by linernotes then don’t read any further. If you love linernotes, here are mine for now: I’d like to thank Danny Brown for putting the FallenHouse webpage together in a matter of days. I’d like to thank Uncle Pete for the album artwork. I’d like to thank Irena Mihalinec for the web designs and all the meticulous work she does to make us look as pretty as we do. I’d like to thank Storm and Amanda for helping things run more smoothly in the SFR barracks. I’d like to thank Dan & Jacob at Pretty Picture Movement for their work on the video trailer. I’d like to thank Prolyphic and Kyle Harbaugh for the video work people haven’t seen yet. I’d like to thank P.O.S., Cadence Weapon, Buddy Peace, and “What Cheer?” Brigade for their contributions to the album.  I’d like to thank Buck 65, Graematter, Evil 9, and Reanimator for their help with the remixes (there’s no telling when these will be released.) And, most of all, I’d like to thank Dolan and Alias for seeing this project through even while tensions ran high and the world seemed to be crumbling around us.

I’m sure I’m missing someone but this list will do for now. I’m very fucking excited to have this album finally finished and released on SFR in 2010. Oh yeah…I’d like to thank the fans who are helping generate excitement and promotion for this album. There’s more to come as the release date approaches.

:-*

Jan 25

middle relief

Hi.

Back on January 13, a website called Slate ran an article about Jay-Z and his interest in art (http://www.slate.com/id/2241208/pagenum/all/#p2). I found this article and the response to it disturbing on many levels. Where to begin?

First of all, the basic thesis of the article seems to be, “isn’t it interesting that Jay-Z (of all people!) has taken an interest in Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst?!” What the hell is that supposed to mean? What’s being implied here? Lots of people are interested in modern art. Why is it particularly noteworthy if Jay-Z is interested? Considering the answer to that question gives me the creeps. Is it simply because he’s famous? I’m sure lots of famous people like art. Is it because he comes from the lowly world of hip hop where the expectation is that rappers are only supposed to be interested in… I don’t know… porn and guns? Or even more sinister, is it because he’s black?

Why Jay-Z? Would it be a story if it was George Clooney instead? “George Clooney likes art! Fascinating!” Would it be a story if it was a musician from another genre? “Surprise! Wayne Coyne from the Flaming Lips digs Jackson Pollock!” (I don’t know if that’s true. Just a made-up example). I’m a big fan of Manet. Is that a headline grabber?

Second… The article suggests that what motivates Jay-Z’s interest in art is simply the pursuit of another material status symbol. “I don’t really like art, but I pretend to because it makes me seem fancy…” (not a real quote either). I don’t know what’s worse – being accused of such a thing, or the thought of it actually being true!

I find the whole thing to be so condescending that it makes me want to barf. But it gets worse!

Many of us have our heads so far up our asses that our response is, “Oh, that Jay-Z is so pretentious!” There’s this tide of anti-intellectualism and low culture glorification that has brought us to the point where somehow it’s a bad thing to have sophisticated tastes!

So again I ask, “what’s worse? Making a big deal out of someone reading a book or dissing them for doing so?”

In the last few years I don’t know how many times I’ve seen a website or a magazine go out of its way to point it out when I rapper mentions he likes some indie band. I’m sure you’ve seen it too. “Kid Cudi likes Vampire Weekend!” Jesus! Who cares?! Remember how everyone freaked out when Jay-Z went to a Grizzly Bear show?

Sure Jay-Z’s fame plays into this kind of hype. But whenever I read/see/hear this kind of thing, it always has a whiff of condescension and subtle racism. And when people get up in arms about it because they think it’s a compromise to one’s authenticity, it runs a little deeper. To be super-blunt about it, white people have long fetishized black culture and so when a black person takes any interest in white culture, it upsets our expectations. So we either react positively with “pleasant surprise” or negatively because they’re not black enough for us anymore…

White people can be so retarded.

Just a thought,

Buck

ps – follow my ass on Twitter – @bucksixtyfive

Jan 24

Evel Knievel Defeats Nihilism in Seattle

Yes sir.  It’s heckler jumping time again.

And, oddly enough, we once again found ourselves in Seattle doing it.

This review comes to us courtesy of ‘Desert Penguin’ from the Strange Famous Forum.

Only 2 dates left on the ‘Orchestra of Strange Tour’!  Sleep, B.Dolan and Cecil Otter in Boise, ID tomorrow and Reno, NV on Sunday!

REVIEW:

Nectar Lounge, Seattle, 1/06/10

It was your typical Seattle crowd. Laid-back if not standoffish, conceited if not narcissistic. But that did not matter. This was the northwest, after all, and here amongst all the trees grows an abundance of eccentrics. Potential game-changers. There’s one at every show and you just can’t predict how they will affect the experience. Ladies and gentlemen of the Strange Famous Forum, I present to you The Nihilist.

This little lightning rod of a man was our x-factor. Now, I’m not saying the show would have been lost without him, but he certainly changed the entire atmosphere of the club. The first three sets of the night were performed in front of a late-arriving, slightly disinterested crowd. This, however, was not a reflection on the performances of the artists. Dark Time Sunshine, Cecil Otter, and JFK were all equally impressive in their presentations of hip hop, yet ultimately unsuccessful in getting the crowd involved.

I knew there was the potential for this to change during B. Dolan’s set with his penchant for pageantry. However, even after opening his set with a self-described “mindfuck,” and proceeding to make it rain in receipts after a spot on Andrew Dice Clay impression, all while mowing through bangers new and old, the crowd was still just…well…Seattle. About halfway through his 50 minute set, Mr. Dolan commented on his perceived lack of crowd support which was quickly met with “It doesn’t matter,” from one of the more lively crowd members. B. followed with another comment that again was responded to with an “It doesn’t matter,” from the same guy. B. attempted to speak one more time and was cutoff before he could even finish with another “It doesn’t matter.” And thus, The Nihilist was born.

We didn’t realize it at the time, but the trajectory of the entire show was forever altered in that instant. What seemed like harmless banter between emcee and audience would lead into a much bigger, more monumental moment. B. went on to continue his set with his newfound perspective, angling through another song or two before breaking out a staggering spoken word rendition of “Still Electric” that was met with mostly too loud conversations about the latest episode of Jersey Shore and how Facebook still doesn’t have a “Don’t Like” button resonating from the bar. It was at this point that I officially became embarrassed to be a part of this crowd.

Sometimes you gotta get knocked down before you get back up. This is where a less savvy performer will usually give up and mail it in, but it’s also where a virtuoso can really make something happen. Here is when the years of watching a crowd control master work his magic pays off. Bernard decided to nix the next song and go directly into his Evel Knievel act. He ripped off his clothes in fury, revealing his stunningly patriotic jumpsuit, complete with a shimmering red cape. He gave a rousing speech, dedicating his stunt to the unfortunate crippled boy suffering from cancer of the AIDS he met at Seattle Children’s Hospital earlier that day.

As I understand it, this is typically where B. makes a death-defying leap over a monitor, but he knew this moment needed to be better than that. It was going to take something breathtaking to captivate this crowd, and B. knew just what he had to do. He had to jump The Nihilist. The crowd went crazy as the young nonconformist climbed on the stage to risk his life for the sake of entertainment. Surely, any slight miscalculation in Bernard’s approach could seriously injure the entertainer, and potentially kill our new favorite bearded freethinker. It was an amazing act of bravery by the slender skeptic, but after all, what did he have to live for? The tension built, the crowd chanted. There was no turning back now. You could see a slight bit of reluctance growing in Bernard’s eyes as a bead of sweat rolled down his temple. He knew what he had to do if Sleep was going to enjoy the raucous crowd he deserved. B. reared back, took three steps and lunged forward. And just like that the moment was over. The crowd was electrified. “The Final Countdown” blared through DJ Zone’s turntables, and everyone present knew that something great had just gone down. Something we would go home and tell our Moms about after the show. A story we will be telling our little sister’s friends for years to come. We were there when B. Dolan jumped The Nihilist.

After bringing the house down with his mind-blowing feat of acrobatics, B. proceeded to rip through two more songs before handing the well-prepped crowd over to Sleep. The audience would stay in tune for the entirety of Sleep’s set as he properly rocked their balls off, but I wonder just how it all would have went down if our scraggly-haired friend had never made his philosophical beliefs known in the middle of B.’s set. I guess we’ll never find out, but y’know what? It doesn’t matter.


The Nihilist praying to nothing before giving up his body to B.


B. informing The Nihilist that he can’t sue if something goes wrong.


Look at that fucking ghost orb/halo over B.’s head. That’s all you need to know about this moment.


Will he make it?


A newfound swagger.

Jan 08

Backwards K

Hey nerds.

First let me explain that I write a blog post about once a week, but then read it over, tell myself it’s stupid and then delete it. Here’s another attempt…

Over the holidays, I went out to my father’s house in the deep country to grab some records and baseball cards and connect with my roots. I also ate sugar until I got a migraine headache. During the day, lots of friends, neighbors and family members came and went. It made for great people watching and conversation over-hearing.

One visitor/family member that I either didn’t recognize or didn’t know had lots of satanic tattoos. I wanted to ask her about them but didn’t get the chance. But she did get me thinking. It brought me back to my old days, in the middle of nowhere and reminded me of the mindset I and a lot of my friends had when we were growing up (even if we never talked about it).

When you grow up in the country, the city becomes an intimidating place – it’s fast, it’s loud, it’s bright. You see it and feel overwhelmed by it when you visit. You’re bombarded by images of it on TV (used to be, lots of popular TV shows were set in the country, but you rarely see that anymore these days), which reminds you of how unsophisticated you and/or your hometown is. And when you’re confronted by it (when you meet people from the city), you usually end up feeling alienated and embarrassed.

No one likes to feel that way, so what often happens is that we reject it. We reject the things that make us feel bad about ourselves. We think to ourselves, “I’m not like people from the city and trying just makes me feel like shit, so screw it.”

When I was growing up, most of my friends began to come to these kinds of realizations in junior high school. The result was that people fell into one of three groups – let’s call them ‘the rejects’, ‘the try hards’ and ‘the nobodies’. ‘The rejects’ were the ones who turned their backs on the city and/or “proper” society at large and 99% of the time, this meant getting into heavy metal. ‘The try hards’ tried in vein to keep up with the city kids (and their music) and probably failed and suffered a lot of secret shame unless their family was super-rich (but where I grew up no one was super-rich). ‘The nobodies were the rarest breed. They were the ones who somehow never stopped to think about these things, were oblivious and probably lost themselves almost completely in their studies and hobbies. For the record, I was probably somewhere between a ‘reject’ and a ‘nobody’: I had no interest in girls, I made good grades and only cared about baseball – but my friends were all total rejects.

The point of all this is: heavy metal. Heavy metal is a shield. It allows you to turn your alienation into your own kingdom. It makes you immune to the harsh judgments of the pseudo-sophisticated city crawler and further, can be used as a weapon to administer a little intimidation of your own, if need be. Becoming part of a culture that accepts you gives you strength and confidence. Ultimately, your embarrassment turns into pride.

This isn’t to say that heavy metal is just for kids from the country, of course. Metal is the shield of rejects everywhere. And I haven’t made country music and culture part of this discussion at all. But obviously, that’s where a lot of country folk find their identity. Remember, this whole thing started with the girl with the satanic tattoos and I think it’s a safe guess that metal is part of her lifestyle (I’d love it if I was wrong though). And where I grew up, very few of the kids I went to school with were into country music. A few, for sure. But lots and lots of them got into metal and that’s interesting to me.

So then, this got me thinking about the way culture works and how we all create worlds for ourselves when we’re young, and about the need we all have to fit in somewhere. Then this got me thinking about my career and those of some of my friends. What’s interesting is that I have a lot in common with many of my weirdo hip hop peers. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that many of the artists on SFR and Anticon don’t come from big cities. And those that do don’t come from major hip hop cities like New York or LA. We probably all suffered some kind of inferiority complex when we were younger.

I can’t speak for my friends. But I can tell you that when I started out, back in the early 90′s, all I wanted to do was make songs that wouldn’t be out of place next to songs by groups like Black Moon, Brand Nubian or Wu-Tang. For real! And before I found an audience outside of my hometown, everything was fine because the hip hop heads there were all as backwards as I was.

Starting around ’93 or ’94 or so, I started to find a bit of an audience in other parts of the world. But what I found in a greater number than fans, was haters. The music I was making was definitely being criticized and torn apart, but to an equal or even greater extent, I was being made fun of on a personal level. Where I was from, how I looked and how I spoke was a joke to a lot of people. All of a sudden, right when I thought those days were behind me, I was right back in junior high school. What a nightmare.

At that point I probably should have given up and started a metal band, but I didn’t know how to play guitar. So instead, something strange happened: I stayed in the world of hip hop, but retreated into the woods and explored my alienation through the music. I became a full-fledged reject. I rejected the mainstream and any attempt to fit in anywhere. But the hard part was, I couldn’t find other rejects with whom I could build a community.

In ’96, my ultimate alienated-weirdo statement, “Vertex” came out. This album became a lightning rod for hip hop hatred, but now I was beginning to relish it. It was also a lightning rod for rap rejects worldwide. It was through this distress signal that I began to find allies like Sage and Sole and assorted other drifters.

The thought I’m left with is that it’s interesting/perverse that – in a way – I was created by the people who have hated and continue to hate me. Know what I’m saying? If I was never rejected by the city kids in the first place, I’d probably be making shiny fake hip hop songs right now. I would never have found myself. Weirdos are created simply by calling a person a weirdo. And knowing what I know now, a little alienation is good for you. It forces you into an empty room with mirrored walls. I was ashamed of myself and where I came from when I started out, so I pretended to be a lost member of Black Moon. It was an act. I was a fake. Then, essentially, I was called out on it (thank goodness). I had to choose to either give up in defeat and shame or embrace who I was. Voila. I kept going.

Now, I’m not exactly the girl with the satanic tattoos, but at least I can relate to her.

Another typically stupid blog post from your friend and fellow outcast,

Buck 65

Dec 31

Howard Zinn’s “People’s History” Masterwork Hits the History Channel

Zinn’s ‘People’s History’ Masterwork Hits the History Channel
By Dave Zirin, AlterNet
Posted/Printed on December 11, 2009

http://www.alternet.org/story/144486/

“On December 13th, a date I’ve basically had tattooed on my arm like the
guy from Memento, The People Speak finally makes its debut on the
History Channel. This is more than just must-see-TV. It is nothing less
than the life’s work of “people’s historian” Howard Zinn brought to
life by some of the most talented actors, musicians, and poets in the
country. Howard Zinn and his partner Anthony Arnove chose the most
stirring political passages in Zinn’s classic A People’s History of the
United States, creating a written anthology called Voices of a People’s
History of the United States. Those “voices” have now been fully
resurrected by a collection of performers ranging from Matt Damon to
hip hop artist Lupe Fiasco to poet Staceyann Chin.

The People Speak also showcases John Legend reading the words of
Muhammad Ali, Kerry Washington as Sojourner Truth, David Strathairn’s
take on the soaring oratory of Eugene Debs, and Morgan Freeman as
Frederick Douglass asking, “What is the 4th of July to the American
Slave?” There are also the words of women factory workers read by
Marisa Tomei, rebellious farmers personified by Viggo Mortensen, and
escaped slaves voiced by Benjamin Bratt.

Certainly the lunatic right will howl to the heavens after seeing
“liberal Hollywood” perform the words of labor radicals, anti-racists,
feminists, and socialists. In fact, aided by the craven Matt Drudge,
they are already in full froth, campaigning online to get the History
Channel to drop The People Speak before its air-date. If it weren’t so
contemptible, their actions would be almost quaint, like a virtual book
burning.

But beneath the bombast, their hostile aversion to “a people’s history”
speaks volumes about why we need to support this project. This is a
country dedicated to historical amnesia. Our radical past holds dangers
for both those in power and those threatened by progressive change. We
need to rescue the great battles for social justice from becoming
either co-opted or simply erased from the history books. Our children
don’t learn about the people who made the Civil Rights movement.
Instead we get Dr. Martin Luther King on a McDonald’s commemorative
cup. Because of our country’s organized ignorance, endless hours are
wasted in every generation reinventing the wheel and relearning lessons
already taught.

One reason Barack Obama made so many of us feel “hopey”
during the 2008 election season is that he seemed to understand and
even take inspiration from our “people’s history.” Candidate Obama
would invoke the odysseys of abolitionists, suffragettes, freedom riders,
and Stonewall rioters. He linked his campaign to this history with a slogan
from today’s immigrant rights and union struggles: Si Se Puede, Yes We
Can.

And yet this Presidency in practice has been like watching George W.
Bush with a working cerebellum. Send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan?
Say nothing in the face of racist rallies held outside the capitol?
Tell LGBT people to shut up and wait for their civil rights? All in a
year’s work. The Obama administration is now counting upon the American
people, to once again, quietly go with the flow all while pretending we
never saw this movie before. This is why The People Speak matters. It’s
aimed at reclaiming our hallowed history from all who would profane it:
to resurrect our past as a guide to fight for the future.

There are those who will wrongly see The People Speak as a kind of
“spoonful of sugar” approach to education. Get a celebrity to recite
the words of Susan B. Anthony and all of a sudden, we’ll all want to be
history buffs. But this isn’t Hollywood “slumming” in the land of
radical chic. It is instead a bracing spectacle where our sacred
history is reimagined by performance artists of tremendous craft.
Consider the dramatic task at hand: they are attempting nothing less
than turning politics into art. If Zinn and co-producers Arnove, Damon,
Josh Brolin and Chris Moore pull this off, it holds the potential to
introduce a new generation to Sojourner Truth, Eugene Debs, and perhaps most importantly of all, to the works of Howard Zinn.

As Zinn himself once said, “Knowing history is less about understanding
the past than changing the future.” This is the grand adventure of
Howard Zinn’s life. I encourage everyone to come along for the ride.
Get your friends and family together on Sunday night and experience The
People Speak. Then take them by the hand and pledge to be heard.”

Dave Zirin is the author of “What’s My Name Fool? Sports and Resistance
in the United States.” Read more of his work at Edgeofsports.com.

Dec 13

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Sleep of Oldominion's new album "Oregon Failure" (produced by Maulskull) is OUT NOW! SIGNED CD and MP3 Download available here.

SFRstore EXCLUSIVE! Prolyphic & Buddy Peace Limited Edition, Tri-Colored, Hand-Screenprinted 7-inch Vinyl! Features Sage Francis & Metermaids. See all available options here.

B. Dolan will be joining Sage Francis on the Copper Gone Tour this May! Check out the latest installment of his "House of Bees" mixtape series here.

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