Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Kinda Sorta Music Review #1 - Hydrophonix!

Today I have a review and some news on music that's on the personal tip that I was excited about. But first, a word from our sponsors...

I feel at this point the need to give a little background again on what exactly I'm representin' music-wise, here's a little personal history on why I like what I do and what's influenced me, etc.

I was born in the Bay Area of Northern Cali, in Castro Valley, and we lived in and around all the suburbs and cities in the area, namely Oakland. For anyone who doesn't know, Oakland is predominantly a Black American community, so as must be obvious, a Korean family up in there was a bit on the odd side. Anyway, my dad taught martial arts up there and most of his students were black, which didn't matter at all to my dad, he just wanted to teach people who wanted to learn. This ended up in me being raised in good part on both Korean food and soul food, as well as on jazz/R & B/hip hop music. Interestingly enough I didn't get seriously into Oakland hip hop until after we moved to LA. Anyhow, I had a lot of music in my life in those days in the Bay Area. A few of my dad's black belts ended up having some success in the music industry in jazz and hip hop. One of them became one of the pre-eminent jazz bass guitarists of our time (although to me he's a dude who used to help babysit me and change my diapers) and another became a manager for a few notable hip hop bands. A lot of the music I ended up listening to during my formative years was soul, funk, old Motown, and big band.

I think my older sister ended up pulling away from these genres of music to be a bit of a rebel, so she ended up listening to a lot of rock music. Since she drove me to and from school and everywhere else, I ended up listening to a lot of different types of rock music, and later on, a LOT of horrible 80s music. (And on the NFL tip, because my whole damn family are Raiders fans, to be a rebel myself I'm a Chargers fan now. Ha.)

The combination of the two parts of my upbringing has essentially led me to enjoy most types of music, and ultimately be a fan of hip hop AND rock music in all its various forms and incarnations.

...And now back to our regularly scheduled programming...

As mentioned previously, I've heard a few hip hop oriented bands of some note that I actually's been a while in my mind since I heard any good hip hop, but I suppose part of it can be attributed to the fact that sometimes I just don't CARE anymore because I have no faith things are gonna get better. But I just hope and pray that some of these bands can gain some commercial success because I think we really need thinking type music to make a comeback.

And as I posted previously as well, a band that caught my attention when listening to Pandora was Hydrophonix. I thought their song "Jungle" really reflected a lot of my feelings about news media (which for the most part is really conservative, don't let those Republicans lie to you...we all know that Fox News is hardcore to the right, don't get it twisted.) and about the state of affairs in America in general. Some lyrics that stood out to me were:

"MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News the networks all the same no matter which one you choose
Just a secret disguise for the political guys
The Senate and the House representin' corporate lies"

"This land is only for rich
The middle class is now the poor and the poor don't exist
I resist, reserve the right to keep my freedom of speech
The Constitution is just a contract that our leaders will breach"

When I was listening to this song, I swear I was a member of a Baptist congregation, I was seriously saying "TELL IT!" and "THAT'S RIGHT!" along with the lyrics, because I felt they resonated so strongly with my own feelings on a LOT of topics.

Well imagine my surprise when I received an email this past Sunday from the peeps at Hydrophonix! I guess they noticed I had mentioned "Jungle" on my blog so they emailed me to let me know they appreciated the props. They further asked if I'd like a copy of their cd, to which I said HELL YES of course. (C'mon I AM Asian, and we're notorious for being cheap. I mean Jay-Z even put us out there in Girls, Girls Girls, saying a Chinese girl was bootlegging his shit) I was even more surprised when they came through and I got a cd in yesterday's mail. Come to find out they're based out of LA, so heyyyy now!

I'm not generally a music critic or even a competent music writer, but I'll say this about their album. It's very well put together, and all the peeps of Hydrophonix do seem to be exceptionally talented. Most of their self-titled album seems to be on a variety of topics but again, as I noticed when I first heard "Jungle" its all thinking type music. Their track listing is as follows, with a little commentary of my own on some tracks:

High -
Seems to be a little intro on the band in general and a little taste of what themes to expect on the rest of the album.

Bringin' the Funk Back -
With my own fondness for funk, let's just say consider the funk BROUGHT BACK. The guitars, horns, the soulful vocals, the lyrics..."We comin' funk like afros and pinky rings". That says it all.

Ego -
Still very funky, and I think is an admonition of what happens if you let your ego get the best of you. It's a problem these days.

Hollywood -
Word to them naming a song after the city I currently represent. This song also seems like a statement on the "Hollywood" mentality, and how you can't ascribe to it or else it will ruin you.

Drugs -
The theme of this song I am sure is self-explanatory, and seems to be a sort of warning to overindulgence in drugs. I like them not being too preachy on it, but still putting the warning into it.

L.A. -
Ah, this song joins the long list of many songs about the City of Angels. All the good, all the bad, everything. But overall there seems to be the feeling of pride in LA in it. Seems like artists and groups from all genres have done songs about L.A. - like Tool, Hole, the Distillers and Ozomatli did a song with the same name, the Game, Madonna, Beck, Ice Cube, MURS, Frank Sinatra, Atmosphere, People Under the Stairs, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against the Machine, Sublime, Dr. Dre...and the list goes on and on.

Happy Feet -
This is their dance oriented song I think...combining a lot of different genres successfully...a little rock, a little funk, a little hip hop. I like it!

Jungle -
See above.

Actions -
As Redman said, it's time for some ACTION! Kind of a commentary on their own views, the music business, and sort of a call for everyone to take some action and DO something in their they say "Action, louder than words, and never lie"

Electionaire -
Ahh reminds me of a lot of old blues and funk...obviously talking about the elections...and a call for change in our country, for the better.

I'm not affiliated with Hydrophonix in any way, but I really feel the need to support local music and bands that are trying to put out some good thinking music, so I'll ALWAYS support that. Anyway, apparently they're doing a new project called Urban Assault, which should be interesting. If you wanna check them out, and I suggest you do, here's a few places you can go:

Hydrophonix on Myspace

Urban Assault Music on Myspace

New video with Chino XL!

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