Peep this: The story of me and a 4-pack of Brother Thelonius Monk Belgian Style Ale


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Its a Friday and I am in the midst of a midwestern rainy day. I just endured a 2hr workout, paid my rent and I just got home after spending too much on a Halloween costume. Now I am suddenly hit by the sudden urge to eat and drink a polite brew ski while I await a later engagement involving a group of my fellow inebriates and some ladies. So I find my way to the local beer purchasing centre, with the intent to dive into a six pack of good old Milwaukee’s PBR. Then I come upon a strange site the sight of a brew aptly named “Brother Thelonius: belgian style abbey ale”,. Now I don’t know what it was but my brain decided without further calculation to purchase this because lord know we (meaning my body, my brain and my soul) decided we need to drink this because we might just be sipping the nectar that nourished the mind of a man whose music is a conundrum I am constantly trying to understand. So I got home and I put on “Monk underground”.

Hearing Monk for the first time, was equivalent to coming upon ODB for this first time. Both of them have styles that have no precedent. They are both bastards inters of the fact that their styles were never fathered. You could hint at the origins of their styles but never come close. Thelonius thumps away at the piano and sounds like a drunken monk. He plays in attacks the keyboard with great weight and a strange sense of time. Yet even with the seemingly uncoordinated nature of his execution he manages to weave sonic ideas that can be melodically sublime as well as rhythmically dance worthy.

The album I put on has many shinning moments but non as worthy as “In walked bud”. A beautiful timeless piece of jumpy and excitable jazz joy. You can literally hear monk make the piano laugh and jump for joy. Despite the joy of this song, the song was a dedication to bud powell an early bebop innovator. A man whose style was equally as original and daring as monks. Yet the story goes that

Thelonious Monk was playing a gig in Philadelphia. Powell was also in Philly that night. Powell went to hear Monk play and there was a police raid. As the police were dragging Monk out of the club, Powell yells out “Stop that man, you don’t know what you’re doing, the guy you’re pushing around just happens to be the world’s greatest pianist.” Monk told that story too, and throughout his life felt that Powell took a beating that night that was meant for him. In honor of that night, Monk composed “In Walked Bud.” And there have been many others who’ve written tunes in honor of Powell. Powell never fully recovered from the blows he took to the head that night. He was 20 years old at the time and for the remainder of his life he took pain killers, drank heavily, used narcotics and spent time in and out of mental facilities. In the early 1950s he spent a year and a half in a psychiatric hospital and most agree that was the turning point in his career.

(Original material from http://www.wnyc.org/story/92144-remembering-harlems-finest-bud-powell/)

It bares testament to not just monk but the human spirit that even with such looming tragedy; Monk composed a piece thats as much about happiness as much as it is about facing the conundrum that was and still is black life in america.

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Mining 4 beats: FKA twigs & Inc


FKa twigs and Inc is a collaboration made in heaven. Both approach singing by vocalizing with a very light touch. Their beats or music functions more as soundscape. In the case of this song the track wraps itself around the vocals providing a moody melancholic hazy sounding song. The combination of FKA twigs strange almost inaudible whisper with the equally strange and light harmonizing of inc make for a song charged with high sexual tension.

Peep Game: WhatEva You Do lisTen to Action Bronson


In my opinion Action is the most consistently interesting rapper. Largely because this cat has attitude and style for days. When I first heard him I was suffering the perceptual disease that stated that dude sounded like GFK. In all honesty after listening to dude for more than 3-years his style is original as fuck. But you can hear the G.Rap and the GFK but what makes him phenomenal is dude has wit. Wit is a hard instinct and ability to cultivate. Because wit demands a high propensity for novel ideas, but novel ideas that spill into humor. Humor is a kind of intelligence you don’t find a lot in the world. Bronson’s wordplay and delivery all appeal to this ability. His wordplay is as psychedelic as any serious drug filled record from the 60’s.

What Bronson has is a great sense of humor mixed with a very street diction. I tend to be very wary of rappers that try to hard to be intellectual. Bronson is straight up street music but manages to paint vivid funny pictures of his lifestyle.

Peep Game: CoMMon tHe LiGht


Common and his soulquarian movement was a reaction to the saturation of east coast gangsta in the late 90’s and early 00’s. This song and album really required brave listening at least on my part. If you are a kid over-dosing on the hyper-active cadences of DMX and Jay-Z its difficult to make sense of commons slower spoken world rap style. In particular the song “The Light” is slow and brooding in a way that demands that the listener pays a little bit more attention than the average song. But to its credit the chorus and the melody had that catchiness thats steeped in nostalgia. As i became a more active listener I fell in love with this song. His word play is very deliberate,calm and has clarity. He isn’t attempting complex expressions of love and he was explaining everything in a clear and succinct way.

Personally this record kind of introduced me to common but also destroyed the idea of rappers as these unemotional cold beings. In this record I was confronted by a very rare humanity and vulnerability. Its a brave record in the fact that his style reflected a cadence that was odd at the time. He sounds like he is talking and that gives the song an intimacy that kind of helps get the message across even better.I recommend this record for anyone that says that Hip-hop is pure vanity.

Gubelye


All great stories and myths have an accompanying equally mythical sound and nothing sounds more magical than Ethio-Jazz, which always condors images of orthodox ethiopian church imagery and all the mystic exploits of the countries saints and martys.

Beautiful Paranoia: Schoolboy-Q


Q has a style thats packed with a sense of menacing paranoia, thats exacerbated by his versatile cadence. His ability to speed up and slow down his cadence works well because it emphasizes his emotional state. Then one cannot ignore the dudes lyricism which isn’t steeped in high brow-mindedness but is pure street music for street people, but not so muddled that you cannot understand him.