Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Kode Street - Kode To The Streets (DJ Shakim/Love Me Or Hate Me Entertainment)

I've heard this Kode Street guy on a couple of Architects Record Studio's mixtapes over the past few years, but I never really heard more until recently when his management got in touch to send me some music, including this mixtape. They were telling me about how they're really working him in other markets and not really worrying about Baltimore, so I was kinda surprised when I got the mixtape and saw all these familiar names from Bmore on it, including guest spots by Comp, ShellBe R.A.W., Ckrisis and XO, and production by Rod Lee and Debonair Samir. The song with Rod Lee is called "Do You" and the guy who e-mailed me tried to say that Rocko jacked the song from them for "Umma Do Me," but that shit don't really sound the same and the chorus is a phrase lots of people say, I think they're kinda delusional about that. It's just a short little 45-minute mix and between all the guests I don't necessarily feel like I have a great sense of who he is an artist still, but he's got a nice flow. "If you think it's like The Wire, ni**as lyin'/ 'cause that shit don't end after no half an hour" would be a hot line if he wasn't wrong about how long an episode of the show is.

Kode Street - "Heaven" (mp3)
This is my favorite track on here, dope beat from Samir and dope to see a beat credited just to Samir with no other co-producer putting their name on it.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

My posts on the Baltimore City Paper's Noise blog over the past month or so have included a new Club Beat column with Jimmy Jones, write-ups of the Baltimore Music Conference and the the Making The Right Moves Entertainment Conference (both of which were big disappointments), and live reviews of the following concerts: The Beatnuts/Profitt Productions/Bear and Cutthroat (pictured above)/Bash Brotherz/Resn and Finesse @ The Ottobar, Graffix/B-Amazing @ the Black Hole Rock Club, Ruthe Charles/Johnny 3 Legs/Chazter @ Fletcher's, Turtle Neck Store/The Extraordinaires/The Art Department/The Microwave Background @ The Ottobar, Kix @ Ram's Head Live, Squeeze @ the 9:30 Club, Faraquet/Statehood @ the Black Cat, and the Pretenders/Hold Steady @ Sonar. It's been a pretty great month for shows.

(photo by Al Shipley)

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Haze - The Orchestration: The Mixtape (The Dungeon Music Group)

This is your garden variety mixtape over borrowed beats, but I kinda like this more than I usually do. There's kind of a running theme with almost every song have the word music in the title, like "Smoke Ride Music" or "Baby Making Music" or Nothing Gonna Stop Me Music," and so on, and this dude Haze is kind of an average rapper, but he's got this kind of earnest, serious vibe that I like, really seems to like and respect the music.

Haze - "Perfect Day Music" (mp3)
Man, I remember when I was a corny little kid I thought Arrested Development were the shit, kinda funny to hear someone rap on this beat now but it actually doesn't sound dated at all.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Next Friday I'm going to be one of the judges at the Scribble Jam preliminary at Sonar, where Baltimore MCs and producers will compete for a spot at this year's Scribble Jam, should be a fun night.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Vision - The Art Of War (Star Status Entertainment/B.M.W.B.)

Vision a.k.a. Dirty Earl is an MC affiliated with Star Status who gave me a bunch of his mixtapes a while back and seems to drop new ones at a crazy pace. At one point on this one he says he's on "album number 17," and I kinda believe him. I wrote about one, Still Here in July, but I think I like this one a lot more, just a longer, more complete release with more memorable songs. He's on a lot of street talk and the usual shit, but he's got a good eye for detail that makes his lyrics interesting to pay attention to. There's a few guest appearances on the last few tracks by Block Hugga and Black Plague.

Vision - "Alcoholic" (mp3)
I think he performed this at 5 Seasons the night he started hosting the new Hip Hop 101, pretty good song, feels like it could catch on with people as one of those kinds of dysfunctional party songs.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

UnReal - "Politics As Usual" (mp3)
I don't jump to post every topical or political record that comes my way, or every Obama record even though that's how I'm voting, but this is a pretty good song. Good to hear something new from UnReal, UnReal, I know he's got a lot of unreleased music stockpiled up right now that I think people are really gonna feel whenever it comes out.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

The September/October issue of Mic Life Magazine is out now, and I wrote a feature in it about A-Class, the Korean-American MC who's been kicking ass on the Baltimore battle rap circuit for the last couple years. There's also a cover story on the death of DJ K-Swift, which includes a a list I contributed to of all the tribute songs that have been recorded for her in the past couple months.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

DJ Big L - Operation: Pay Attention Vol. 2 (Harm Squad Entertainment/Club Kingz Records)

Supa DJ Big L spins Baltimore club on 92Q, and kinda came up as part of K-Swift's Club Queen Entertainment, although unfortunately he couldn't make it out to the interview I did with the other Club Queen folks a while back, so I haven't met dude. But I picked up this CD recently, although it's already about a year old, I'm not sure if it's a sequel to The Reality - Season 1 which I wrote about a couple years ago, or it's a follow-up to another release titled 'Pay Attention.' DJ Big L is also part of Harm Squad and Club Kingz, so he's tight with Rod Lee, and this CD is about half tracks from Rod, and it's cool to have some of the tracks he did after The Producer that haven't appeared on any of his own albums yet. It also features tracks by KW Griff, Say Wut, Blaq Starr, Chris J, and King Tutt, among others, and is available at both the Club Kingz Record Store on Park Ave., and at the Sound Garden.

Wax Musicians - "Here We Go" (mp3)
I have no idea who the Wax Musicians are, but I've been seeing their name on more and more Baltimore club mixes lately and really like their tracks, especially this one. I love how this track just takes one vocal sample, and runs it at 3 different speeds so that each has its own pitch and rhythm, and kinda turns that into a hook in and of itself.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

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Friday, September 19, 2008

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

M.C.F. - U.S.A. Tonight

M.C.F. (which stands for "Money Comes First") is the name of a hip hop group from Baltimore, and I first heard them when their song "Liquor Bottles" appeared on the B-More Vibe Magazine mixtape last year. The group is comprised of the rappers R.A.W. Leaf, General Milzz, and Sylence, and this mixtape features solo tracks from each as well as some posse cuts. R.A.W. Leaf is also a producer, and did a handful of tracks for this release, which also features a lot of freestyles over industry beats. I don't feel like I learned too much about these guys from listening to this release, it's solid and they've got some skills but it's all just a little generic, from the name of the group on down to the general sound and lyrics, although R.A.W. Leaf's got some nice beats. Maybe later there'll be solo releases and I can get a better idea of who these guys are individually. The whole release is available for free download on DatPiff.com.

Sylence - "Slide" (mp3)
This one's a Sylence solo track but he beat is by R.A.W. Leaf, definitely my favorite on here.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The City Paper's 2008 Best Of Baltimore Issue is out today. The categories I selected winners for and wrote blurbs for this year are:

Best Summer Jam: Mullyman's "Party Walk"
Best Local Album: Beyond Hamsterdam: Baltimore Tracks From "The Wire"
Best Female MC: Symphony of G.E.M.
Best Male MC: Ogun
Best Hip-Hop DJ: P-Funk
Best Beatmaker: DJ Booman
Best Club DJ: Scottie B
Best Club Music Producer: Say Wut
Best All-Ages Space To See Bands: Charm City Art Space
Best Place To Hear Hip-Hop: 5 Seasons
Best Local Music Blog: Aural States
Best Radio Show for Local Music: The Internet
Best Auto Repair Shop: Central Service And Repair

There were also a number of winners I had nothing to do with that I fully approve of, including Best Upgrade: Wye Oak, Best Song: DJ Excel's "That's What A Pimp Does", Best Excuse To Stay Home: The Baltimore Taper, and Best Band Website: Whatever Doesn't Crash Our Browser. And then there's the reader poll, which gave out awards to a whole different set of winners, including Sonar for Best Place To Hear Hip-Hop, which should make P-Funk happy since he already gave me an earful about the fact that he would've rather had the club win an award than himself. Congrats to all the winners, hopefully each of you got your invites to the party in time and that I'll see you there tomorrow.

Oh, and I have a review of that shitty movie Righteous Kill somewhere in the back of the paper this week, I don't see it on anywhere online, though.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Go Hard Clik - B-More Street Movement (Money In Da Bank Ent.)

Money In Da Bank Ent. is B.O.M.B.'s label and it seems like in the past year that he's been performing everywhere he's been really making the other artists on his roster a priority and getting their names out there, too. I guess this is a group with a bunch of different MCs involved, but the focal point seems to be Shy, who has 6 solo tracks on here and appears on a lot of the posse cuts, and she won the Queen Of The Mic competition last week, so congrats to her. This CD is kinda grimy, beats with gunshot samples and all that, and a lot of flowing over a lot of good old 90s beats, although as usual I wish there was more original production.

Go Hard Clik - "Do Me A Favor" (mp3)
This one's my jam on here.

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Monday, September 15, 2008


Thu Sep 25
$20 ADV
$25 DOOR

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

410 Pharaohs f/ David Banner - "Pull Shorty (Remix)" (mp3)
The long-awaited album by the 410 Pharaohs (Labtekwon, DJ Booman and Jimmy Jones), 410 Funk officially dropped this past week, and is in stores and on iTunes and all that. It's a great album and I have a lot to say about it, but I'm not gonna review it just yet, and I'm about to get up with Jimmy Jones for an interview. So for now I'm just posting this non-LP track, a remix of one of the album's songs featuring David Banner rapping on a Baltimore club track. Banner either really did his homework or they gave him a list of Baltimore places and things to namedrop, because his verse mentions Morgan State, Park Heights, Choices, Hammerjacks, Paradox, and Cherry Hill, but either way, pretty cool.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Letter To K Swift

Dear Swift -

Weeks have gone by and hours have past, but there hasn't been a minute that we have forgot about you. Not having the words to say or the sight of your smile in the office has been the hardest thing for us to deal with.

Knowing that you had the biggest weekend of your life surrounded by your friends, music and Baltimore meant the world to you. You took over the Paradox and owned your DJ booth, you grabbed the mic at ArtScape and gave your final introduction with pride and respect to your peers after ripping the turntables and blessing the mic over a sea of fans...

We've always supported you with whatever you wanted to do and we're honored to carry on your dream...

Now that the phones have stopped ringing, the emails are no longer in the inbox, the blogs have stopped posting and the rumors have vanished we can now take time to remember you the way we knew you best, as our "Club Queen"...

It is now our responsibility to continue your work... And refresh the minds of those who had an opportunity to know you and bring life to those who didn't know who you were.

Everything that you did for your community we will continue to see it through, everything you taught the next generation we will continue to teach and everything you did for music we will continue to let people hear.

"Your heart will continue to beat through your music"...

-The Unruly Records Family

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Friday, September 12, 2008

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

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Big Moon - Hear Me Clearly (HeadNod Entertainment/Worldwide Recordings)

Big Moon is an MC that I first heard a couple years ago on a mixtape by Real2Real, and the members of that group make several appearances on this mixtape. I don't know if it's partly because his name reminds me of Black Moon, but this mixtape gives me kind of that grimy mid-90s NYC vibe, even when the beats are more modern he kind of has this no-nonsense persona that you don't hear a lot of rappers with anymore. PenDragon did the cover art and appears on a drop on here.

Big Moon - "Whole Different Animal" (mp3)
I like this sample, sounds like maybe Al Green? Second verse is some funny shit: "What the fuck is the world comin' to?/ the old heads are tryin' to teach the white heads what hip hop is/ and then you got the White Rapper Show/ I ain't a racist, but goddamn, how many Eminems do you want?"

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Kessino - Catch 22 The Prequel (Triumphant Music Group)

This one's been sitting in the stack of CD's on my desk for a few months, I vaguely remember seeing this guy live, I think at 5 Seasons, and getting a copy of his mixtape and listening to it once or twice, but it never really left an impression on me. Listening back to it now, I see why, because everything on here is just stiflingly generic and predictable, from the movie dialogue interludes to the beat choices to the subject matter. Dude is actually still talking about "the trap," and I barely even hear rappers from Atlanta focus on that anymore, and that's their shit. I mean some of these tracks are Kessino's earlier work from 2004 or 2005, but he's got no excuse on the new stuff. It's a shame, too, because the guy can really flow, but all the other aspects of the CD just put me to sleep. This mixtape is a prequel to Kessino's album, so maybe he's got some songs with real concepts or hooks that he's saving for that. You can buy it on his MySpace.

Kessino - "I'm Talking 2 You" (mp3)
This is dope, one of the tracks where I can really hear his potential.

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Monday, September 08, 2008

The 2008 Baltimore Music Conference is coming up, and runs from Wednesday to Saturday next week, and I've always missed it in previous years, so I'm looking forward to checking it out this time, it looks like there's gonna be some good shows and seminars happening throughout the vent. I'm just gonna go as a spectator and see and review some parts of it, but my friends at Mobtown Studios are among the sponsors and Mat from the studio will be appearing on a couple panels. The lineup is full of different genres of music and people from all over the place, but there's a good number of Baltimore hip hop, club music and R&B artists performing (A-Class, B-Amazing, DLake, James Nasty, Natural Remedy, Pro & Reg, Reina Williams, Wordsmith, etc.) and some folks from the local rap scene hosting events (Pork Chop, Steez, Florida from Strictly HipHop), should be fun.

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Skarr Akbar - Suicide Sunday: Top 40 Freestylez (DJ Radio/Akbar Enterprize/U-Turn Ent./AGS/The Arabz Corporation)

It seems like for every Skarr Akbar mixtape I hear, there are 2 or 3 more that I miss, but I try to keep up as much as I can. I got this one from him at the same time as The Epidemic earlier this year, but I know he's got more current stuff out there. This is kind of a cool theme mixtape, though, picking out 40 freestyles from older mixtapes. I know I bitch a lot about mixtapes that rely on flows over industry beats, but Skarr's always excelled at those and I think it's fine for him to base a whole release around that. I do wonder if he actually went through his extensive archive and picked out the best of the best, or if this collection was just kinda thrown together. Maybe sometime I'll try to pick out my favorite Skarr freestyles and see how many of them are actually on here. Either way, this thing hangs together pretty well, I think because he's a producer he has a good ear for what beats he'd sound right on.

Skarr Akbar - "Show U How 2 Do This Son" (mp3)
One of my favorite old old Skarr freestyles, over a real underrated Just Blaze beat.

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Government Names FAQ 1.1

1.0 originally posted on Sept. 6, 2008 - questions #1-28
1.1 updated on Sept. 9, 2009 - questions #29-44

After running this site for 4+ years, I'm getting more e-mails than ever, and have always welcomed music submissions, and am humbled by the fact that people in the Baltimore music scene care about what I do enough to send me their work. At this point, about 2/3rds of my music posts over the past 6 months have been tracks or releases sent to me by the artist or someone involved with the project, and the rest is stuff I took the initiative to buy or find or track down myself. And I try to write about every full-length release I hear, and pick the best possible song to spotlight as a download from each one, whereas I'm more picky and opinionated about what singles and individual tracks I post. Either way, responding to e-mails quickly and helpfully is important to me, although sometimes I lose my patience like anyone, or get tired of going through the whole ritual multiple times a week, sometimes multiple times a day. And sometimes, I'm just dealing with people who need to get their shit together before they talk to me (true story: a while back someone had me go downtown, pay for parking, and wait over an hour for them to show up, and then handed me a CD with no artwork or tracklist, which I won't write about because I can't review a CD without song titles). So I'm trying to streamline that process and make it easier for everyone involved, especially me, and the first step is creating a Frequently Asked Questions section that I can refer people to. I'm still going to get back to people personally whenever possible, and don't want to come off like a dick with a flippant answer, but now and then someone's gonna ask something I'm really sick of answering and I'm just gonna show them this page and refer them to #14 or #3 or something.

Q: How can I get my album or mixtape covered on the site and what are your requirements for submissions?
A: If you e-mail me privately, we can work out whether you can mail me a copy or drop it off to me personally or send me a download link, or even let me know where to buy it. I prefer to get physical copies of CDs with all the artwork and liner notes whenever possible, but if a download is the only option or the most reasonable one, that's cool. Big involved press kits with pictures and bios don't really do anything for me; if that info is on your site or can be emailed to me, that saves a lot of printing and postage for you, and I don't have to throw it out later when the mess in my apartment is getting out of control. People who I see out at shows or who reach out and talk to me like a person and not a customer or a career opportunity always make a bigger impression on me than people who put a lot of effort into seeming "professional" in all the ways that don't actually matter.

Q: Can you post the flyer for my event?
A: If your event features local Baltimore hip hop artists playing in a Maryland venue (or in some cases, Baltimore artists playing out of town), yes. If it's a show by national/touring artists with no local artists on the bill, no. If it's just a rock concert with hip hop or club music or R&B artists, no. If it's just a DJ night or dance party with no performances, probably not, unless it's a Baltimore club DJ spinning club music.

Q: Can you post my press release or bio?
A: No. I post flyers and occasionally promotional copy for shows, but I don't post about artists or their releases unless I'm using my own words and giving my own opinion.

Q: Can you post my flyer right now even though the event is weeks away?
A: No. If I post it more than 2 weeks before the event, it will definitely fall off the page before it happens, and I'm not going to post the same thing twice.

Q: My album isn't out yet and/or doesn't have a release date and/or doesn't have distribution yet. Can you review it now?
A: I prefer to review releases that are already available to the public, whether as a retail product or a free download, or in some rare cases shortly before a definite release date. Getting an advance copy is cool, and gives me a chance to write about something when it's brand new, but I'm not gonna write at length about something that the reader can't hear for themselves anytime soon. There's already enough bullshit in the mainstream rap industry feeding into hyping an album that won't be out for months and months, on an indie level I think it's better to focus on the here and now.

Q: I gave you a CD a week ago/a month ago/6 months ago. Why haven't you posted about it yet?
A: Because I choose what I write about when I write about it, and this is not a Burger King review factory where you have it your way as fast as you desire. Sometimes I write about something quickly because I'm excited about it and want to share it with people right away, sometimes I write about something quickly because it sucks and I don't want to take the effort to listen to it more than once. Sometimes good stuff gets shuffled to the bottom of the stack and forgotten for a while for arbitrary reasons. I literally have a stack of roughly 50 CDs on top of my desk right now that I haven't written about on Gov't Names yet that I plan to at some point. I try not to let things sit around for more than a year, but considering that I do this for free out of my own compulsion and love of music, I'm not really gonna apologize if it's not always an airtight operation.

Q: You've posted my music in the past, why haven't you posted any of the last 15 things I sent you?
A: Maybe I haven't gotten around to it, maybe I only post music that often by artists I really really like and you aren't one of them, maybe you fell the fuck off.

Q: Can you post about my DVD?
A: I try to do DVD wrap-ups now and again when I have a few new ones, but it doesn't happen very often, because to be honest I would rather listen to a hundred mixtapes before I sit through one hip hop DVD. They mostly suck, to be honest. I mean, I'm sure yours is the best that's ever been made, but as a whole they're pretty boring.

Q: Can you review my CD for the Baltimore City Paper?
A: Maybe. Again, I write about almost everything I get on Gov't Names, but I write about maybe 10% or 20% of that stuff for the City Paper, so I'm only going to bother with the best or most noteworthy or interesting stuff I hear. And I am just a freelancer contributor, so I pitch things all the time but it's up to editors whether I actually get to write about them. If your #1 priority is getting written about in the City Paper, you should send your CD to every editor and writer that covers local music for them, not just me because I happen to be the most accessible.

Q: Can you interview me for the City Paper?
A: I'm even more selective with my feature articles than I am with my reviews, and I tend to choose to write about people because I see a story there, whether they've brought up the idea or even know who I am. So if you're going to ask me straight up to do one, I need to know what the hell there is to write 1,000 words about you before I even think about answering that question, and more than just garden variety "rags to riches"/"I'm going to change music" bullshit, like actual past accomplishments or your unique personality or perspective. If you can't make me excited about your music and your story to write a great article about you, then I'm the wrong person to write about you and you should go talk to other writers. Some people I know for years and hear several projects from before it feels like the right time to give them some kind of serious coverage, so I'd rather build with people and hear from them consistently than just be asked for a feature right out the box.

Q: Can you come to my show and review it?
A: The answer is probably yes, because I cover live music twice a week for the City Paper's Noise blog and am pretty much constantly looking for shows to check out, although obviously it all depends on whether I'm free that night (or if I feel I've already covered the event or venue or the other artists on the bill too much lately).

Q: Can you write about my film/clothing line/lemonade stand/etc.?
A: Probably not. I'm a music critic, first and foremost, and now and again I cover things that aren't explicitly music-related, but there are a lot of other writers you'd be better off asking.

Q: Can Gov't Names sponsor my event?
A: Maybe, if that doesn't involve me providing any funds.

Q: Can the City Paper sponsor my event?
A: I write for the City Paper on a freelance basis, and am not a full-time employee or representative of the publication or its parent company, and have no

Q: Can we make a prize for our battle that you will write an article about the winner?
A: No, I write about what I want to write about and it would be unethical to put my writing up for auction.

Q: Can I pay you to write about me?
A: No. That's against my personal ethics as a journalist.

Q: Can I pay you to write a bio for my press kit?
A: Maybe, although if I like you as an artist, I'd rather give you press coverage than write your promotional copy, and if I don't like you as an artist, I probably won't be interested in writing a bunch of positive things in your bio that I don't really mean. Unless the money's really really good, then maybe I can muster up the enthusiasm.

Q: Can I cut-and-paste or liberally borrow from something you wrote about me for my press kit or website?
A: Sure, if you put it in quotation marks and credit myself and the outlet I wrote the words for by name, and provide a link if possible. This is an entirely imaginary question, by the way, people never ask before doing this.

Q: Can you post my music video that I hired a director for and put a lot of money into looking as good as possible?
A: Sure, probably.

Q: Can you post my shaky camcorder YouTube video of my freestyling or lip syncing to a song in front of a brick wall?
A: Probably not.

Q: Can you post my new song "featuring" a big mainstream star that sounds suspiciously like I just added my vocals to a hit single already on the radio?
A: Unless you dropped the best verse of your life on it, I probably won't bother posting it. And if it is the best verse of your life, why'd you put it on a half-assed "remix" of a song by someone you don't even know?

Q: Can I put your name or the phrase Government Names on my event flyer or CD liner notes?
A: I'm fine with that most of the time, if you let me know in advance. However, bear in mind that I probably wouldn't write professionally about any CD or event that has my name or my site's name displayed prominently on it, since that would probably look like some kind of unethical conflict of interest, even if in reality it isn't.

Q: Can you judge our MC battle/producer battle/etc.?
A: Maybe. I've done a few and they're fun, but it's gotten to the point where I have to say no as many times as I say yes because I don't want to do that every week.

Q: Can you get me signed or make me a star?
A: No. I'm a big fish in a small pond, and some people here act like I'm important, but in terms of the mainstream music industry, on a national level or even just in Baltimore, me writing about you will not make you famous. I can give you a first impression to my readership, and I can introduce you to dozens of artists and producers and journalists and studios and labels and share my knowledge of the scene with you, but anything beyond that is on you.

Q: Can I quote you or use you as a reference for an article I'm writing?
A: Yes, sure, anything for a fellow music writer. But I do reserve the right to be bitter about the fact that writers seem to read my work and base their own work upon it much more often than editors seem to read my work and ask me to write for their publication.

Q: Who are the other writers on Gov't Names and what happened to all the mainstream Southern rap coverage on this site?
A: GN was founded as a collaborative blog with multiple contributors, but after they all kind of dropped out after the first year, I became the sole proprietor and decided to make Baltimore music its permanent focus.

Q: I'm not and never have been from Baltimore or anywhere else in Maryland. Can you post my music?
A: Nope! Geography is the criteria that dictates the content of my site, and there are millions of other sites that don't have that restriction that you can talk to.

Q: I have some new songs on my MySpace page, can you post a link to them?
A: If you send me an mp3 or a CD, or let me know where I can buy/download the music, then I will check it out and consider posting it. But I'm not gonna just link to streaming audio on MySpace.

Q: Can you post the release date for my new album?
A: If you want to leak a song to me that I can post in advance, and I like it, I will consider posting abuot the album in advance. Otherwise, I'll just wait until it's out to write about it.

Q: Can you post that you 'heard' that I sold 10 thousand copies and that labels are in a bidding war over me?
A: Fuck no. I'm not here to pull the wool over the public's eyes just to make you seem more important or successful than you really are. Give me solid evidence of your accomplishments, and I will post about htem.

Q: Can I write for the City Paper?
A: I'm just a freelance contributor, I have no say at all in that kind of thing. I can tell you who to contact and give you some advice, but it's not like I can just 'put in a word' and make it happen, and you need to have your shit together and know what you want to write about, and have some clips ready before you talk to anybody.

Q: Hey man, any good shows coming up?
A: Please don't ask me this. Especially not out in real life when I don't have a calender in front of me. You can go here and see the last 20 flyers I've posted, and invariably there'll be several upcoming events there.

Q: Hey man, who has new music out?
A: Once again, you can look at the damn blog and see for yourself, please don't make me hold your hand through this shit. You can go here and see the last 20 mp3s I've posted.

Q: What's so-and-so up to?
A: There's a search function at the top of the page! Type their name in, and see the last few things I've posted about them! I'm begging you!

Q: Here's my new song/album, can you give me some feedback?
A: If I post about or review your record, I will say what I think about it. But if you want me to give my opinion to you one-on-one I'm probably not going to put a lot of effort into it beyond "that was alright." If we have a rapport or you're really ready for me to be brutally honest and give you constructive criticism, the maybe I will take time out to explain what sucks about your music and why it sucks, but probably not. I don't have a lot of time for private consultations.

Q: Your review/post/article contained an incorrect fact!
A: Thanks for the clarification, I will try to correct it.

Q: Your review/post/article contained an opinion I disagreed with!
A: That's because it's my opinion and not yours, fuckin' duh. If there are other writers and bloggers who would think highly of your music, then go get them to give you coverage, and get some thicker skin before you send me anything else.

Q: Can you e-mail/call me when you post about my music/publish a review?
A: No. Find it yourself, or use the search bar to find posts about yourself or people you're trying to follow. I am not your personal Google Alert.

Q: Can you bring/mail me a copy or several copies of the issue of the City Paper you wrote about me in?
A: No, run your own errands. Or find the article on the CP site and print it out.

Q: Do you have business cards?
A: No. My e-mail link is at the top of the site, and I might give you my phone number if you ask for it. Maybe.

Q: You know that CD I sent you? Can you post about it now? How about now? How about now?
A: I do this site in my spare time on my own schedule for no pay, out of my love for music and my love for Baltimore. You might think you're just being "on top of your business" by micromanaging me and checking up with me constantly, but it's mostly annoying and makes me want to do this less.

Q: Can you come out to meet me for a dinner meeting/listening party/studio session/sewing circle/etc.?
A: If I say "no" to this kind of invitation, don't take it personally. I work a 9-5, and usually when I'm done the only way I'm not going home to be with my family is if I'm getting paid to cover an event or interview somebody, so if someone asks me to come out for something else kind of casual and optional and non-essential, I'm probably really really not going to be interested.

Q: Can you re-up the mp3 link you posted 5 weeks/5 months/5 years ago?
A: Occasionally, I will do this. But if the song is readily available to buy on iTunes or at some other online retailer, I will refer you to that. Don't tell me you can't afford to spent 99 cents on the song or, god forbid, buy a CD.

Q: Please take down the mp3 you've posted, it is in violation of copyright law and/or we object to you giving this music away for free.
A: I have never ever ever ever had an independent artist say anything like this to me. However, I have had Blogger take down posts with the weird DMCA thing on behalf of labels/publishers, in which case they don't bother to e-mail me, but only rarely do I post anything that major labels have any ownership of. But if this is ever an issue, please contact me directly and I will happily comply.

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Friday, September 05, 2008

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Rod Lee - Vol. 3: Operation Shut Em Down (Club Kingz Records/Morphius Urban)

This is the 3rd out of Rod Lee's first 4 albums, all released independently between 2001 and 2004, that have been part of Morphius's reissue series. As I mentioned a few months ago when I wrote about Vol. 2, the only one that I'd never been able to find an original pre-Morphius pressing of was this one, Vol. 3, so it's cool to finally hear it, although I know and love a lot of these tracks from when they were out at the time. It's mostly Rod's own tracks, along with some songs by K.W. Griff, DJ Technics, and Davon (credited as "Dayvon"), among others. This and all the other reissues are available at the Club Kingz Music Store, which is finally open, as well as a lot of other stores and online retailers (although so far only Vol. 5 and the Vol. 1 reissue are on iTunes).

Mike Mumbles & The Crew - "Charlie Brown" (mp3)
Real talk: this is probably one of my all-time favorite Baltimore club tracks, real top 10 material, but I never owned a copy of it or even really knew who produced it until I picked up this reissue. This CD must have come out when old Motown and classic soul samples in club music were at their peak, because it's got a lot of those: "Mr. Postman," "Boardwalk," "Tina's Theme," "Seen Her," "Going To The Chapel" (which I played at my wedding a few months ago), all those jams, plus this one.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

This week in the City Paper I wrote a feature about Mania Music Group, a local label featuring the rappers Midas, Kane and Ron G. (left to right in the pic above), and the producers Headphones and BeaLack. I've known Midas a couple years now and I've been shooting the shit with Kane for a minute, and met most of the other guys when I went to do the interview. So I really like these dudes and think they're talented and wanted to communicate their distinct personalities and strengths in the article, and I think that comes across in the article. I posted a song by them on Gov't Names last week and they've got a whole free compilation album on their official site, and are about to drop a whole bunch more music in October.

(photo by Rarah)

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Ron Rico - Music In Me Instrumentals (Music In Me Productions)

Ron Rico is a producer I've written about a few times before on here, including about his previous instrumental release, Extra-Terrestrial Instrumentals Vol. 1. I've had this more recent one for a few months, and decided to write it up for last week's City Paper because they were asking for local reviews and I was just really enjoying this, nothing real fancy, just a nice mellow beat tape with some pretty awesome production work on it. Check out Ron Rico on MySpace, shit maybe check out this CD and think about buying one of these beats.

Ron Rico - "Player" (mp3)
This shit bangs.

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Monday, September 01, 2008

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Some new videos I've been meaning to post for a minute:

Here's the video for Bossman's "I Wonder," which was his tribute track for K-Swift produced by One Up (I posted it last week but it was a version with Raheem DeVaughn on it and I had it under the title "Missin' U" because that's what his MySpace page called it). The video looks amazing, since it was done by the same Sleeping Giant Media folks who did the 100 Grandman video I posted a while back.

E Major has a new video for "We Got It Going On," it's short and not as slick as his last video but still pretty cool. Look out for E Major being featured in this Tuesday's issue of B.

I hadn't heard anything from The Boy Blesst in a minute, but he just e-mailed me about his video for the song "Barry White."

So apparently this cat Substantial is from Baltimore and has been getting some play on MTV channels with his latest video, "It's You (I Think)," and before Jade Fox put me up on it I had never heard of this guy before in my life. I'm not mad at that at all, though, I think it's great that someone from here is making big moves outside the local circuit, and it just goes to show that some cool things escape the notice of even a know-it-all motherfucker like me.

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