Feb 202011

They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!

What a year for Rihanna! In 2010 she scored four number one singles, a number one album, a successful tour and numerous collaborations. The girl knows how to keep herself busy. And today, she turns 23 years old. That’s right, 23, with five albums and countless chart-toppers and awards under her belt. Feel inferior yet?

To celebrate, we’ve assembled five genre-crossing covers of her tunes for your enjoyment. It seems everybody has taken a crack at covering Rihanna – even the Chipmunks have had a go – but we’ve sorted the wheat from the chaff for you. Check them out below. Continue reading »

Sep 302010

Recently we’ve seen quite a few Roots posts (1, 2, 3). We’ve also seen some Jimmy Fallon. We haven’t yet posted the two together though (funny, given that they hang out five nights a week). Well now we can. They’ve even brought along Justin Timberlake, the best third wheel ever.

The trio (Timberlake, Fallon, Roots) takes us through a four-minute medley of rap hits from yesterday and today on last night’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. It starts with the Sugarhill Gang and ends with Jay-Z (“Empire State of Mind”). In between they tackle Eminem, Tupac, Kanye, Soulja Boy – well, pretty much everyone. Even the Roots’ own “The Seed 2.0” gets the Timb-Fall treatment. Continue reading »

Sep 272010

Song of the Day posts one cool cover every morning. Catch up on past installments here.

As far as celebrity feuds go, the ongoing EminemMariah Carey beef (if you can even call it that) must be among the least interesting. Two artists who have no obvious reason to dislike each other trading media barbs and writing diss tracks? Meh. Being the slightly classier individual, Carey at least had the good grace to deny that “Obsessed,” her fuel to the fire, was about Em. Too bad she then went and dressed up as him for the music video. Sigh.

Let’s just move on. May Ling is a Portland-based musician building a following one raucous house party at a time. On High Score and Records’ free summer mixtape, she covered Carey’s “contribution” to the feud. Removed from the inane cultural context, “Obsessed” improves dramatically. Ling’s ghostly slow-grind vocals help. Continue reading »

Aug 232010

Celebrities love “Islands.” Shakira covers the xx song under the name “Explore” and now Gossip Girl Taylor Momsen performs the tune with her band The Pretty Reckless. She takes it one step further, though, mixing it with Eminem’s current hit “Love the Way You Lie.” Despite a shaky start, the acoustic mashup works better than you’d expect. Sticking with Rihanna’s chorus is a smart call. One gets the impression Taylor wouldn’t be much of a rapper.

This one comes from the BBC’s always-terrific Live Lounge program. Download the cover below. You can hear the full interview/performance at BBC.co.uk. Continue reading »

Apr 122010

I get nostalgic remembering all the turn-of-the-century fuss over a potty-mouthed white rapper corrupting the nation’s youth.  With two wars and an economic collapse to deal with these days, such worries seem almost quaint. Eminem began his comeback last year with some hits (“3 a.m,” his show-stealing verse on Lil Wayne’s “Drop the World”) and some misses (his still-parodying-1999 “We Made You” video, most of Relapse), but the world of absurdist violence and middle-school homophobia just wasn’t the same without Marshall Mathers.

Lounge-O-Leers – The Real Slim Shady
The Lounge-O-Leers occupy the same territory as Richard Cheese, bridging the gap between music and comedy.  Here the duo recites pensive spoken word over a lounge-hop beat.  Bonus points for coming up with so many sound effects to play over the naughty words.  [Buy]

Destressed – Just Lose It
You know that jugband-bluegrass “Gin and Juice”?  Same approach here.  But with more cowbell.  [Buy]

Royal Native – Criminal
The band posted a disclaimer with this piano-and-melodica cover: “We would like to point out that all the lyrical content…is Eminem’s not ours – especially the homophobic stuff, which is most of the song.”  Helpful.  [Buy]

The Script – Lose Yourself
In many people’s minds (read: the media, parents) Eminem stands for violence and misogyny.  No doubt he’s done plenty to fuel such perceptions, but this self-empowerment anthem still sounds more honest than all the blabbering about chaining his ex-wife in the basement.  [Buy]

Tori Amos – ’97 Bonnie & Clyde
Amos set the gold-standard for Eminem covers with this heart-wrenching ballad, delivered without a hint of irony.  [Buy]

Bryce Larsen – Crack a Bottle
You may have already forgotten last year’s big comeback single “Crack a Bottle,” but believe it or not it was Em’s second ever number-one hit.  [Buy]

Aislin – Guilty Conscience
If my conscious was a screamo vocalist, I’d avoid robbing convenience stores too. Actually, I’d probably avoid that regardless.  [Buy]

Jeffrey Lewis & Laura Marling – Brain Damage
This must be the only rap song ever to use the word “ornery.”  Study S.A.T. vocab with Professor Mathers!  [Buy]

Streetwize – My Name Is
I can’t believe I did a post on Dr. Dre and never came across Does Dre, an “urban jazz” album covering songs written or produced by the Doctor.  [Buy]

Emily Reay – Sing for the Moment
When you cover “Sing for the Moment” you get two songs for the price of one, since the original so heavily samples “Dream On.”  Reay wisely avoids attempting that falsetto.  [Buy]

Dr. Dre Productions

 Posted by at 2:46 am  1 Response »
Nov 172009

In the music world, Dr. Dre must have the highest influence-per-album ratio this side of the Sex Pistols. He dropped The Chronic in 1992, 2001 in 1999 and Detox in…well, don’t hold your breath. The man can be forgiven for turning his third album into hip-hop’s Chinese Democracy though. After all, it takes time to produce practically every hip-hop hit of the past twenty years. Dr. Dre discovered N.W.A., Snoop Dogg, Xzibit, Eminem, 50 Cent, The Game… The man’s production discography is ridiculous (see for yourself), but here are some high points.

The Escape Frame – Nuthin’ but a “G” Thang (Dr. Dre)
Dre’s first hit single came out in January 1993, rocketing to #2 and bringing guest star Snoop “Doggy” Dogg along for the ride. This emo-tastic cover comes from the Punk Goes Crunk compilation, which sounds exactly how you would expect. [Buy]

Kevin Davis – Fuck tha Police (N.W.A.)
Ben Folds pioneered the ironic-white-boy gangsta rap cover (and we’ll get to him), but Kevin Davis took the genre to another with this folksy acoustic number. Friend Jason Lamb joins in on harmonica, turning this into a feel-good fireside jam. It’s a laugh riot, but Davis’ admiration of the original comes through in every acoustic pluck. [Buy]

Bryce Larsen – Crack a Bottle (Eminem)
Em’ released his grand comeback album this spring. Yet, alas, it wasn’t so grand. Blame it on releasing this average song as the first single (with Dre guesting) or blame it on the “We Made You” video skewering the exact same people Shady did ten years prior. On his Hip-Hop Un-Popped! covers disc though, Larsen makes the case for Marshall Mathers 2.0. [Buy]

The Gourds – Gin and Juice (Snoop Doggy Dogg)
Like thousands of other uninformed users, when I first got this one off Napster in the dark ages of music piracy I thought it was by Phish. This is despite the fact that this bluegrass-twang singer sounds nothing like Trey Anastacio. Phish phans though, don’t despair… [Buy]

Phish – California Love (2Pac)
…cause we’d never leave you hanging! This one is by Phish, taken from a 1998 Portland jam in the middle of “Tweezer.” Wah-wah guitar and pulsing synth give it a space-age vibe that makes you want to get up and noodle dance. [Buy]

Ben Folds – Bitches Ain’t Shit (Dr. Dre)
The Dre cover against which all others will forever be judged. And for good reason. Would anyone even remember this non-single without Folds? This recording comes from his Bonnaroo 2008 performance, where he claimed to be retiring the song because people would approach him on the street as…well, listen for yourself. [Buy]

Skinny Beats – In Da Club (50 Cent)
You probably thought the world had no need for a reggae 50 Cent cover. How wrong you were. [Buy]

Aislin – Guilty Conscience (Eminem)
Dre plays the role of Eminem’s conscience here, being all, “Hey buddy, maybe let’s try not raping and murdering everyone you come across today.” The fact that Dre’s part is recreated here but some thrashcore shouter though seems more like the angel on your shoulder busting your face with a lead pipe. [Buy]

Brady Harris – Who Am I? (What’s My Name?) (Snoop Doggy Dogg)
Hey Snoop, make people would know your name if you didn’t change it so darn often! Born Cordazar Calvin Broadus, he became Snoop Doggy Dogg, then dropped the Doggy, threw in some random “izzles” and confused a nation. Yeah man, what is your name? [Buy]

Nina Gordon – Straight Outta Compton (N.W.A.)
Gordon recorded this “coffeehouse” cover at a 2005 concert, miraculously keeping a straight face throughout. Sadly she quits after Ice Cube’s opening verse, leaving MC Ren and Eazy-E straight outta luck. [Buy]