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I wrote a letter to the New York Times.


I'm getting sick of the way the MSM torques the story of Outkast to fit into their misguided ideas about what's good and bad in the group's music. (quick guide: rap stuff = bad, singing stuff = good)

I was excited to read this piece in the New York Times Magazine about Outkast, but I ended up so annoyed I wrote this letter (reprinted below, given that it's basically Dungeon Family Week and all):

When I saw that the Times Magazine featured a piece on Outkast this week, I was delighted. I wrote my undergraduate thesis on the group a few years ago, and believe there are few groups in any genre who can match 'Kast. The piece itself, unfortunately, did not live up to my hopes.

In order to tell his apparently pre-ordained story, which amounted to "the further apart they grow, the better the group gets," Mr. Dee offered a complete misrepresentation of the group's early career. The group's first three records, and particularly ATLiens and Aquimini, their second and third releases (which Mr. Dee dismisses out of hand), are generally considered within the hip-hop community to be their best. On those records, they represented themselves as much more than just "two dope boys in a Cadillac," as Mr. Dee asserts. Indeed, they offered one of the most complex identities of any popular music group of the time. Their complex relationship and personae have always been part of their music. Outkast may have had their first gargantuan pop hits with Stankonia, but they were interesting and important well before the pop world picked up on them.

My impression from reading the piece, frankly, was that Mr. Dee doesn't actually like hip-hop. Otherwise, why would he be so strongly privileging other forms? I'm tired of the mainstream media feeding me the "hip-hop is so limited, but this guy mixes hip-hop with XXXX!" line. And goodness knows that if Mr. Dee was a hip-hop fan, he certainly wouldn't write anything as silly as this:

"In their brand of Southern hip-hop there had always been traces of the more outward-looking, less preening, light-on-samples rap of bands like De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest."

You would be hard-pressed to find two more sample-heavy groups than Tribe and De La, while Outkast have used live instrumentation extensively from the start. Indeed, while Mr. Dee seems to find the presence of producer/vocalist Sleepy Brown on Big Boi's hit "The Way You Move" a "telling" sign of dissension within the group, it was Sleepy who both played and sang on the group's first hit, "Players' Ball." And of course, his comment implicitly devalues preening and samples, two of the basic building blocks of much hip-hop music.

Mr. Dee's piece is very well written, but it demonstrates clearly that he has no idea what he's writing about. Comments like the one quoted above betray the fact that he is only too happy to apply rock & roll values to the hip-hop world.

Within your very building, you have one of the most insightful urban music critics in this country, Kelefeh Sanneh. Maybe you should have run this silly piece by him before you put it in the newspaper of record.

Convert MP3 Stream to Podcast


I'd hate to see any of you use this knowledge to VIOLATE COPYRIGHT LAWS, but here's a fascinating how-to on coverting MP3 streams to iTunes-able mp3 files, and even to podcasts (with a feed and everything).

Paul F. Tompkins in Philadelphia


Live in Philly? Want to see a great comedy show? Well here's your chance. As part of my continuing effort to promote great comedy shows in places that don't always get them, here's the details of Paul F. Tompkins' Philly extravaganza:

PAUL F. TOMPKINS, who is a comedian, is coming to Philadelphia to do comedy. Like stand-up type comedy, only funny. This will take place from WEDNESDAY AUGUST 23RD thru SATURDAY AUGUST 26TH, and will also include two other people doing stand-up comedy who call themselves Buddy Fitzpatrick and Ed McGonigal. All of this comedy will occur at a comedy club on SANSOM STREET that your people call HELIUM.

Your instructions are to make plans to see Paul F. Tompkins do comedy, and to share those plans with other people and advise them that they should make a similar plan. There. Stop reading.... NOW.

Suggest a guest thread (mid-to-late August edition)


It's been a while since we've done this, and my tank's running low after a bunch of flat-out rejections, so let's start the SUGGEST A GUEST train movin' again. Suggest your ideas for guests below!

Remember the qualifications:

Anyone really really famous is a great suggestion, but only if you're friends with them and are willing to give me their email address and reccomend us :).

People with books that either just came out or are coming out are great. Same with CDs.

Anyone coming to Santa Cruz, Hattiesburg, or New Concord, Ohio in the future for something is great.

They should be of interest to people in general, not too insidery. (ie the "Probably no web comics or nerdcore rappers." rule)

Triple points for great women, this show has been a real sausagefest lately, and I hate that. And yes, I'm still trying for Amy Sedaris but no promises.

People with movies are tough but especially if it's an indie film, suggest anyway. Same deal with TV. I'll try but I usually fail, unless it's a real small channel.

The last couple of these gave me a lot of really great leads and ideas that I followed up on, and I really appreciate hearing from you all! Please know that I refer back to these all the time when I'm trying to book guests.

I pledged to public radio today.


KCRW in Los Angeles, to be specific. I'm a huge fan of their shows The Treatment and The Business, and I wanted to do my part. I couldn't give a lot of money, but as far as I'm concerned, they've earned something from me.

Which reminds me... are you a supporter of The Sound of Young America?

Maybe one day The Sound of Young America will be supported by a grant from the Ford Foundation or underwriting money from the Gap, but in the meantime, it's supported by people like you. Before every show, you hear the voices of the folks who give a couple dollars a month to help keep the program afloat.

The money you give pays my costs. It doesn't pay my receptionist, or pay for studio time, it just covers the things that come along and cost money. In the next couple months, for example, I'll need to pay for registration to the big podcasting conference, and I'll need a new monitor to replace the relic that occaisionally goes green on me that's sitting on my desk right now.

You can make a big difference for two bucks a month. Even if you're broke as a joke (and I know about that, believe me), your budget can probably handle it. If you're doing OK, you can give five or ten a month. My hope is that whatever you can offer, you'll offer something.

Your radio pal,
PS: To those who already give: thank you. Seriously, thank you.

Dracula's Super-Spooky 9/11 Candle Vigil


Sound of Young America super-fan Asterios and his sketch group, Overtime, wrote and performed this sing-long short, which Jordan sent over my way. Delightful!

Also, distasteful.

Suing guitar tab websites?


Isn't that a bit over the top?

Fun fact: the music publishing industry is not only suing (or rather, threatening to sue) free guitar tab websites, they're not really offering any legal online alternative.

A small handful of sheet music sites now sell guitar tablature. Mr. Keiser, of the Music Publishers’ Association, estimated that, including overhead costs, tablature could cost about $800 per song to produce, license and format for downloading.

$800? Are they gold-plating the downloads? Perhaps they're hiring Eric Clapton to record the tablatures? Holy mackarel.

Dungeon Family Dedication


Over on his XXL blog, TSOYA listener/pal/rap guru Noz offers a great rundown of The Dungeon Family, the Atlanta crew which spawned Outkast, Goodie Mobb and more. He's got bios, videos, songs, everything. I was just listening to the Witch Doctor album and thinking about how many dope projects even the B-team of the DF have put out over the years. For a bit of history on the crew, check out this piece from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

He's even got a video (which I didn't even know existed) from Joi's superb unreleased LP "Amoeba Cleansing Syndrome," on which she channeled the great Betty Davis to funky effect.

Lupe Fiasco - "Daydreamin'" f. Jill Scott


Lupe Fiasco is a real talent... though I have to admit that if this record hits, I'd be surprised. I love it, of course. Also love the E-40 eyeglasses Lupe's rocking :).

"I had to turn my back on what got you paid / I couldn't see - had the 'hood on like Abu Ghraib / but I'd like to thank the streets that drove me crazy / and all the televisions out there that raised me."

Patton Oswalt & Friends in Oakland 8/27


TSOYA is cosponsoring this show because it's Patton plus my two favorite Bay Area standups plus two of the best up-and-comers. It's cheap. It's going to be awesome.

And it's completely un-advertised, so we're relying on you to spread the word. If you live in the Bay Area, or know anyone who does, please come or tell your friends. Post this flier on message boards: or on your myspace, help any way you can think of. Hopefully we can get this thing sold out and everyone will see great comedy and hear about TSOYA.

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