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No Limit Records: gold albums in the golden era

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The “golden era” for rap music is generally considered to be the late 1980’s to late 1990’s. There were countless classic records from West Coast and East Coast rappers (plus many from Midwest rappers, especially in Detroit, Flint, and Chicago). Down south, however, Percy “Master P” Miller had designs of his own, having started his No Limit Records after making a name for himself in California with such albums as 99 Ways To Die and TRU’s “True”.

Anybody who remembers the rap scene back then, will certainly remember how No Limit took over the rap game from 1997 to 1999. I was a teenager then, and it seemed as if No Limit released an album every damn week. They released dozens of albums, from stars such as Snoop Dogg, Master P, and Mystikal…to the forgotten, such as Steady Mobb’N, Lil Soldiers, and Magic…to the hood favorites, such as Kane And Abel, Fiend, Soulja Slim, and C-Murder (who is Master P’s brother).

On Master P’s Ghetto Dope, he infamously sampled Eric B and Rakim’s “Eric B For President”, flipping the “make rap like this” into “make crack like this”, while rapping step by step instructions on how to cook crack cocaine up. P literally equated selling records to selling dope.

And, like every successful dopeman, Master P flooded the market with a consistent product that sold heavily. No Limit albums were easily recognizable, with the ridiculous Pen And Pixel covers (which crosstown rivals Cash Money Records would take to an even gaudier level), the different colored plastic jewel cases, the repetitive song titles and lyrics (how many No Limit songs had “Get Em” in the title? A LOT).

Good thing the music stood out, which was predominantly from the criminally underappreciated Beats By The Pound (yep, another drug/music analogy). Considering they produced THOUSANDS of songs in a relatively short time span, the beats on No Limit albums were rarely repetitive, and were like musical drugs for us teenagers cruising around listening to them. My favorite No Limit beats: “Break Em Off Something” from Master P (RIP Pimp C from UGK), Young Bleed’s “How U Do Dat”, and “No Limit Soldiers” off of TRU’s True To The Game. The Roland 808 drum machine’s closed high hat sample is one of my favorite musical sounds…it sounds almost as good as playing guitar power chords while the active guitar pickup is getting distorted to hell through a Mesa Boogie amplifier. This is one of the reasons I fell in love with southern rap music: that high hat.

And Beats By The Pound were the best southern rap producers, with the arguable exceptions of DJ Paul and Juicy J of Three 6 Mafia, and Mannie Fresh. In a golden era focused on lyricism, Beats By The Pound proved music could trump lyrics. I knew a few people who would buy damn near every No Limit record: they may have never heard, or even heard of, the artist or group on the album…but they knew that the beats would be hard as hell. And they usually were. Which is a strong testament to how good BBTP were as producers, and how good No Limit marketed themselves.

No Limit Records was a pioneering independent music label, and they had plenty of gold and platinum albums to back it up. Sure, most of them are probably best forgotten…but the TRU albums, the Down South Hustlers comp, and Master P’s Ice Cream Man, Ghetto D, and MP Da Last Don had some classics on them. Go check em out on YouTube, cause that’s what I’m about to do…

Greg Ginn is still cooler than you

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Greg Ginn hasn’t had the best of reputations. Between his contentious relationships with ex-Black Flag members, recurrent allegations of non-payment of album royalties, and allegations of abuse toward family members, Ginn just hasn’t seemed very cool lately. Especially compared to his brother Raymond Pettibon, who has had somewhat of a renaissance in the art world in the past decade. Nonetheless, Greg Ginn is still cooler than you. And here’s why:

1. He founded the most important American punk band that isn’t the Ramones.

Black Flag is widely acknowledged as one of the most important bands in the punk rock scene. Not only that, but Black Flag basically started the American hardcore punk scene, due to music that was faster and heavier than traditional punk rock, with the angry self-involved lyrics that hardcore music is known for. Ginn, who wrote the majority of the music, who was the leader of the band, and who released the music on his own record label SST (Solid State Tuners), is the biggest reason why.

2. Greg Ginn is a hugely underrated and influential guitarist.

When people talk about great guitar players, it’s rare for punk rock musicians to be mentioned. Then again, Ginn was never constricted by conventional punk rock “three-chord” songwriting, and he thought nothing of playing atonal guitar solos or adding some jazz influenced riffing. When Black Flag slowed down and got more progressive, it pissed off a lot of people…but it would eventually influence a hell of a lot more people. Some of his finer work was with his instrumental band Gone, which featured the bad-ass rhythm section of Andrew Weiss and Sim Cain, who would later be poached by former Black Flag vocalist Henry Rollins to start the Rollins Band.

3. Greg Ginn was the biggest singular influence on the 1980’s independent music scene.

SST Records in the mid-1980’s was a ridiculously prolific indie label. At one point or another, they signed Sonic Youth, Soundgarden, Bad Brains, Husker Du, The Minutemen, the Meat Puppets, and Saint Vitus…all of whom released albums that, for the most part, are considered classics today.

4. Greg Ginn was a big influence on how bands would tour, record, and get exposure.

With Black Flag, Ginn would be responsible for booking shows himself, with tour schedules that bordered on insane. He would rarely turn down a show, and saw the importance of getting maximum exposure for minimum expense. He did all album production in-house, and he got some quality album recordings. He would inspire countless bands to stop waiting for record label handouts and to get out there and do it themselves. D.I.Y.

5. Greg Ginn doesn’t give a fuck about what you or I think of him.

What has Greg Ginn done in the past 5 years? Well he released the latest Black Flag album, “What The”, which wasn’t very good, largely due to the shitty production and laughable cover (the cover was created by Ron Reyes). He did a performance at Coachella in 2012, which was basically him stoned out of his mind jamming on a guitar while backing tracks played. He lost a court case where he had tried to get exclusive rights to the Black Flag name, and in the court of public opinion he may have lost even more. He kicked Reyes out of the band in 2013 and enlisted skateboarder Mike Vallely to become the new frontman, and did a short tour in 2014. And…that’s pretty much it.

The consensus between most people is that Greg Ginn is basically an asshole. Well, I’ve never met the guy, nor have I done business with him, but he doesn’t seem like an asshole at all. He seems like a laid-back stoner who has no tolerance for bullshit, and who is (rightly) defensive about the backlash that he gets. I’m sure part of it is good old brotherly animosity between him and Pettibon (Pettibon did the album art for almost all of the Black Flag albums and designed the famous “bars” logo). I’d guess that the laughably juvenile Reyes album design on “What The” was actually a big fuck you to Pettibon.

Regardless, Ginn doesn’t give a fuck about you. He doesn’t give a fuck about me, and he surely doesn’t give a fuck about this article if he happens to be reading it. Give him a guitar, a solid state amp, and some fire ass weed and he’s gonna do his thing.

 

Protect Ya Shk(reli)

Martin Shkreli, the “most hated man in the world” and recently indicted former Turing Pharmaceuticals C.E.O., just recorded a video dissing Ghostface Killah of the Wu-Tang Clan. For those who are unaware, Shkreli was the person who bought the Wu-Tang Clan “Once Upon A Time In Shaolin” album for $2 million. Ghostface called Shkreli a “shithead”, which led to the making of this amusing video:

 

A few thoughts:

-Shkreli is small AF. Seriously, one of Ghostface’s gold eagles is bigger than this dude.

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-What’s with the fake goons in the background? Rocking North Face hoodies and affecting tough guy voices doesn’t make you intimidating. Those guys remind me of some drunk frat boys who just listened to a Stitches song.

-“I butter your bread”?!? What the hell is that supposed to mean? Sounds sketchy.

-How would Shkreli actually erase Ghostface’s rapping from those CD’s? Seriously…

-It’s bad karma to mock Killah Priest for being arrested and “copping pleas”, when Shkreli will undoubtedly cop any plea that the feds offer his skinny ass.

-“Don’t ever mention my name again, or there will be more of a price to pay than this video.” Potential repercussions be damned, Ghostface has mentioned Shkreli the Shithead a few times on Twitter since then.

I think Ghostface summed it up best on his 1996 song Daytona 500: “Rhymes like retail, make sure shit sell / from where we at to my man’s cell”, since Shkreli will ultimately be listening to “Once Upon A Time In Shaolin” in his prison cell.

 

 

We can get paid $100 just to read an email? Sign me up!

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The Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) is an incredibly important tool that forces transparency on businesses and governments that, many times, would rather keep things on the “DL”. Of course, this tool can come at a high cost, as a local high school student recently found out.

Chris Robbins, a Plymouth-Canton (Michigan) high school student, decided to submit a FOIA request for emails pertaining to the school’s policy regarding blocked websites. The school district sent him an almost $9,000 bill, which is apparently because it will cost $100 to read each email, when it will cost $50/hr with a 2 hour time allotment. Why it would take 2 hours to search a single email is beyond me. Even if you were to double, triple, and quadruple check each email, it shouldn’t take any more than 10 minutes for each one, and that’s being extremely generous.

Personally, if I wanted to pay $100 an hour just to get screwed, I’d walk down to Michigan Avenue and find a hooker. Last I heard, they charge considerably less than that, which means you’re getting even more bang for the buck! Oh, I love terrible puns.

 

Jericho the lion is not dead, releases statement on dead friend

Cecil the lion was brutally murdered this past week by an American dentist in Zimbabwe. No, the lion didn’t die from a heart attack from reading his dental bill; he died from an apparent staged hunt. These staged hunts consist of rich people with high powered rifles who kill big game, and are the types of people who would cower in fear if that rifle jammed up and it suddenly became a fair fight. His friend Jericho was also reported to have been killed, but it turns out that it was a hoax. Since Jericho is actually alive, I decided to fly down to Zimbabwe and get an interview with him:

Good morning Jericho, I offer my condolences to your friend Cecil.

ROOOOAAARRRR…. (I look for my lion interpreter)

Thank you. I do appreciate how many people worldwide have been concerned about Cecil. But, the truth is, Cecil and I have been living hard lives here in Zimbabwe. He had been suffering for years, and he is in a better place now. I can’t call it heaven because of President Mugabe’s religious persecution against Christians, but I assure you it is something LIKE heaven.

Wait, so all of these people outraged over his killing have misdirected hostilities?

That is a good way to put it. Mugabe has been in power for decades now, and ever since his racist policies of stealing farmland and animal conservation parks from people simply because they were white, our lion prides have had less and less places to safely live. Lions like Cecil have been killed constantly in Zimbabwe for many years now, and it is ironic that it takes an American doing it to finally shed light on it.

Is Zimbabwe really as corrupt as you say?

Oh, it’s worse. Zimbabwe is one of the places with the most censorship and corruption in the world. Us lions actually have it easy compared to the millions of human beings who have suffered, and thousands who have been tortured and killed due to Mugabe’s regime.

What do you think about these canned hunts?

Well, us lions are apex predators, and no one can fuck with us, not even human beings. Unless they have a gun, of course. Why would someone want to shoot us? So you can brag about it to your friends and coworkers, much like when American policeman needlessly shoot unarmed human beings? We just want to live and let live.

I understand. Is there anything you wish to say to the American media?

I would ask that the outrage directed at this man for killing my friend should also be directed at Robert Mugabe for his decades of inflicted suffering upon us lions. He stole land from landowners and gave it to people who don’t care about us lions. And his corrupt regime has allowed people to poach our population for many years now. Also ask yourselves if stealing lions from their natural habitats and imprisoning them in zoos just so people can point and stare at us is not another form of animal cruelty. Please become informed about my country, and animal conservation groups that will help us live in peace. Thanks…I mean, ROOOAAARRR!

April Fools! A short look at hypocrisy in politics

We seem to have a history of hypocrisy in politics. From the “Religious Freedom” laws being passed or introduced in many states (a thinly veiled excuse to discriminate against people, which doesn’t seem very Christian to me), to the “Right To Work” laws that allow the firing of any worker without cause, things are getting ridiculous. It almost sounds like a George Carlin stand-up monologue. “Near Miss? NEAR MISS? No, it was a near fucking HIT!!!”
In case our politicians run out of ideas, here are some new laws they could introduce:
The Anti-Hypocrisy Against Gays Act: This means if you go on record backing the discrimination against gays, then you shall not be able to participate in gay sexual acts. Seem simple enough? Obviously not for the several politicians who have gotten caught with male escorts in the past few years.
The Loving Family Act: This means if you are a married politicians, you shall not participate in adulterous acts. Seem simple enough? Not enough, since a politician who DOESN’T cheat on their spouse is the exception, not the rule.
The Truth In Drug Use Act: If you are addicted to prescription pills, then you have no right to talk about the illicit drug use of others (Rush Limbaugh is a good example). Clean up your own house before pointing out how dirty other houses are.
The Equal Financial Opportunity Act: If you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth, or benefited from tax loopholes, corporate welfare, and unethical business dealings to become wealthy, then you have no right to complain about the poor people in our country who are simply trying to get by the best they can. And you can quit the charade of believing you understand how it is, because unless you’ve ever struggled financially (being homeless or starving, not only being able to afford a Mercedes C-Class car), then you have no idea.
Happy April Fools Day! Just remember: everybody plays the fool sometimes, especially in Washington D.C…