Coming Soon: Beats From Oakland

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I remember how much fun i use to have making beats. I mean FUN, man. Way back when I was in high school. I had a big stereo, a dual tape deck boom box and a little micro turntable system. My mom was away for days at work so I usually had the run of the house. I’d cobble together all three of the systems like MacGyver, until if could play beats on a turntable, samples using the dual tape decks and then record the mix all on the big stereo. I’d never been happier.

These days, I have to say the ‘fun’ hasn’t been there. The last couple collections of beats, Music For Escalators & Elevators, and Unfocused were cool to make and listen to. But they were more compilations of unfinished songs, than a real project. I love some of the tracks in those groups, but most of them were directions I gave up on.

With “Beats… From Oakland”, I’m trying to build the project the way I use to. No pressure.. no expectations.. just FUN.

Real talk: I’ve been collaborating with a lot of people who I consider ‘real musicians’, most notably my brothers in music who I collaborate with in the Cross Country Collective. Trel and Doug have real music backgrounds and play actual instruments, so I’ve always felt like I was the weak link. It’s never been anything like feeling inferior.. more like just different. This has led to a lot of stop-gaps in my creative process. I’ve always thought that I needed to ‘do more’ with my trax.

It took me awhile to realize that I lost track of why I do this. I’ve never wanted to be an musician, artist, or producer. I never wanted to make this my profession because I KNEW the moment I had to compromise my creativity to earn a living, it would no longer be fun. Unbeknownst to me, it didn’t need to be a profession. I actually self-imposed that creative compromise. Somewhere along the way, I got lost in the bottomless pit or Facebook and Twitter accolades.

It took me a minute to get my head straight.. creatively. I had to remember that this is something I do TAKE AWAY  the stress. I never did this for some type of acceptance into the indie music fraternity. I did this because it’s a part of me. I need to mess with beats because i’m addicted to the process. If i feel banging on the wall for 20 minutes if a spoon is a HOT BEAT, then that’s what I need to do. It’s not about pushing your work out to the masses. It’s about building your ‘dream’ sequence of beats. It’s about being able to pull out beats you worked on a decade ago, and still nod your head when you play them. That’s what I’ve been doing the passed couple of weeks. Going through my bandcamp site (biglavstodd.bandcamp.com) and cycling through the work I’ve done over the past few decades (that’s right, I said DECADES).

So with Beats.. From Oakland, I’m taking it back to when I did beats that made me feel good. This isn’t some talent showcase. This will be my love letter to Hip-Hop which has been with me since I heard my first Marley Marl sample. Simple, repeative, head banging beats, hopefully worthy of my favorites from the Boom Bap Era.

Beats.. From Oakland will be a free download on October 1st, 2011.

Preview: “Not Here Anymore”
[haiku url=”http://toddkelley.net/mp3/Not%20Here%20Anymore.mp3″ title=”Not Here Anymore”]

Finally, An MTV Show I’ll Enjoy: Death Valley

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A year ago, vampires, werewolves and zombies mysteriously descended upon the streets of California’s San Fernando Valley. Death Valley is the dark comedy that follows the cops that capture the monsters, and the camera crew that captures the cops.

Follow the horrific yet comedic exploits of the newly formed Undead Task Force (UTF), a division of the LAPD created to combat the emergence of monsters in the San Fernando Valley. Death Valley showcases the outrageous and courageous men and women working the toughest beat in the US: Death Valley.

Balancing dark humor with horror, the show is built upon cold-blooded conflict and character driven comedy, following the cops bent on keeping the streets safe from the presence of the paranormal. Documenting each case of zombie, vampire and werewolf encounter is the daring camera crew that is embedded within the task force, quickly revealing that the monster problem goes much deeper than anyone could have possibly imagined.

Full of subtext about living in today’s insane world, Death Valley is at its core a fun, non-stop thrill ride featuring chases, hardcore kills, and extraordinary creatures. The zombies are disgusting, menacing and brutal, the vampires are dangerous, smart and powerful and the werewolves are beastly and insane. From “blood-for-sex” prostitution busts to undead traffic jams, every call from dispatch will take you to a place you’ve never been: right to the bleeding heart of Death Valley.

#listening: “The Sender”, Median

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I’ve been a Median fan since the first time I heard the 9th Wonder-produced “Comfortable” back in 2006. I believe that was the second song I ever heard from the Justus League Collective, right behind Little Brother’s “Whatever You Say”. Interestingly enough, I was all about the songs and not the artist. But when “Median’s Relief” dropped in ’07, I was completely onboard.

With so much time between releases, it’s easy to expect and artists to ‘shift’ their style to align more with the current state of the industry. Todays constant lack of emphasis on lyrical content and more on ‘catchy’ hooks, presents an interesting dilemma for todays Hip-Hop artist. Is there a comfortable medium between ‘fame’ and ‘the art form’? I don’t know how much milage Median will get in the world of MTV and Clear Channel radio, but his fans with rejoice with “The Sender”.


[haiku url=”http://toddkelley.net/mp3/special.mp3″ title=”Title of audio file”] Special featuring YahZarah + Phonte + Bahamadia

Real talk: This is one of my favorite releases of the year, so far. It doesn’t hurt that the production was done by some of my favorite producers: 9th Wonder, Khrysis, Kev Brown, Zo! and Amp. Solid tracks done by Fatin “10” Horton and Astronote round out the solid production list. Somehow they managed to keep the production under each producer’s personality, yet keep the entire project cohesive.

The mix of Jamla and Foreign Exchange Music guest artists is a dream come true. Coming from the FE camp, I’d expect excellent input from Zo!, Yahzarah, Sy Smith and Phonte (new Tigallo, new Tigallo..). And then you bring over Jamla alumn Sundown, Big Remo, Rapsody, King Mez and Halo, an it guarantees quality performances from both artists AND producers. AND just when you think it’s done, throw in a spot from Philly legend, Bahamadia and you’re good.

All in all, this is another in the long long of solid, quality hits coming out of the Foreign Exchange camp. Normally I’d call out a few songs that I like the most, but that wouldn’t do “The Sender” justice. This is one of the few Hip-Hop projects that can actually qualify as a ‘project’. If you’re like me and watching your pennies, this is a no brainer. If you’re a FE Music fan, just pick it up and thank me later.


Purchase “The Sender” Online

+FE Music Store | iTunes | Amazon


Tracklist

01. Take A Chance feat. Phonte
02. Bright Individual
03. Open My Thoughts
04. Turn Ya On feat. Phonte and Big Remo
05. Crazy Visions
06. Okie Dokers feat. Khrysis
07. Fresh Breath feat. Sundown of Actual Proof and King Mez
08. Sizzlin feat. Rapsody
09. Right On feat. Halo
10. Hi Five
11. Special feat. Phonte, YahZarah, and Bahamadia
12. Kiss the Sky feat. Sy Smith
13. The Sender

“Lost In Love” – Tyler Woods

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Another banger from 9th Wonder’s Jamla group. Produced by E. Jones and directed by Kenneth Price.

Music Of The Moment

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I can’t believe that Hip-Hop is dominating my listening these days. I’ve been on the ‘outs’ with the current state of rap music for a while. But luckily, a lot of indie groups like Actual Proof and Floyd The Locsmif is droppin’ hot releases. Thanx to twitter, kinding these projects are a lot easier to find. Check these six out. Click on the cover art to grab it.

#watching: Justified

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Justified was one of those shows that everyone told me was good, but I didn’t care to watch. I peeped the part of the first episode, but it didn’t grab me. It turns out the plot line didn’t really kick int until the 3rd or 4th episode. The show is so quirky, but excellently written. Most shows can’t successfully weave in ‘one-off’ stories into the overall storyline so well. Marhal Raylan Givens is a laid back country boy with law enforcement training. What does that mean? It means if he tells you he’s gonna shoot you, chances are he’s gonna shoot you.

About Justified

Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens is something of a 19th century-style officer in modern times, whose unconventional enforcement of justice makes him a target with criminals and a problem for his superiors in the U.S. Marshals Service. As a result of an eager but “justified” shooting of a Miami fugitive while on assignment in Florida, Givens is reassigned to Lexington, Kentucky, in a district that includes his hometown of Harlan, a rural mining town in the east of the state.

Justified Official Website

Dream Come True: Joss Whedon To Direct The Avengers Movie in 2012

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I know i’m late, but this finally feels real. After being burned on the whole Wonder Woman fiasco, i didn’t want to believe that Joss Whedon would bring about a false positive. But now, after seeing this damn poster, I’m about to lose my f’n mind. AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!!!

Joss Whedon Updates Progress on The Avengers; Discusses Sequels and Comic Book Inspiration

Since landing the job directing The Avengers, writer-director Joss Whedon hasn’t said much about the upcoming comic book adaptation. During the 2011 Comic-Con, Whedon discussed working with an ensemble of characters he didn’t create, and later praised his cast.

With a preview teaser for The Avengers showing the first brief snippets of footage from The Avengers finally online, Whedon talked to Potimal (via Latino Review) about the progress on the movie.

[ READ ENTIRE ARTICLE AT reelzchannel.com ]

Reading: Uncanny X-Force

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One of my favorite comic storylines of all time was the awesome Age Of Apocalypse, which ran through Marvel Comics X-Books in the 90’s. It basically told an alternate timeline story if the villain Apocalypse conquered the world. This new universe was filled with twisted versions of Marvels heroes that banded together to help restore the timeline.

Much to my delight, Rick Remender is taking Marvel’s secret mutant assassins, X-Force back into that universe to help an ailing Arch-Angel who is slated to become the next Apocalypse.

A lot of interesting stuff Remender plays off of. But the coolest thing has to be the Wolverine/Jean Grey thing. There’s Wolverine meeting up with his long dead lost love, Jean Grey. But she’s the Jean Grey from the Apocalypse timeline, and she lost the love of her life.. which happened to be alternative timeline Wolverine.

There’s a lot of other stuff going on, and we’re only on issue two of the story arc. Let’s hope that some of these characters will crossover to the 616 universe. (i.e. Sabertooth and Wild Child!!!)

Final Cut Pro X Test Video: XBMC Media Center

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Lately, I’ve been trying to get over the learning curve of the new Final Cut Pro X. A lot of people have been pissed off by the total 180 that Apple pulled with this new version. It resembles iMovie for than Final Cut (you can import iMovie projects but not earlier FCP projects), and the new ‘magnetic timeline’ is the bane of the non-linear editor’s existences.

For me, it’s been more of a positive thing. True, the learning curves truly sucks. I’ve been using Final Cut Pro since it’s beta testing days. I had been in the hell that was Adobe Premiere, and when I saw that Apple was developing a video editing app, I was already onboard.

This video is just a some screen capture video i made of my media center using Camtasia. The initial footage was around 15 minutes and i did some quick cuts to take it down to 3 minutes. The logos were jpg files with effects from Motion 5 and the title graphics were generated using Final Cut presets.

Nothing special. I’m just excited my Final Cut Pro game is getting better.

Final Cut Pro X + Motion 5

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it’s been a little over a year since Apple’s Final Cut Pro transitioned from a ‘hobby’ app to one of my most useful professional tools. My goal was to spend the year transitioning out of Adobe video tools (Premier and After Effects) and relying solely on the entire Final Cut Studio Suite. But as time went on, and my job got more intense, I didn’t have the time for the transition. Although I moved away from Premier and relied on Final Cut Pro as my main video editing tool, the transition to from After Effects to Motion grind to a hault. Although robust in its own right, Motion just didn’t seem to be the powerhouse that Adobe After Effects is. Plus, it took me SO LONG to get into that program and now I’m pretty proficient. And add to the fact i’ve invested hundred of dollars in templates. I just didn’t seem that important to switch.

That is, until I peeped Final Cut Pro X. Apparently, built from the ground up, FCP-X is sporting a whole new interface, it looks like a monster. I watched the introductory video and it looks like they’ve cleaned up all the negative aspects that you had to work around in the previous version. I’m loving the dark interface. I’ve always liked how After Effects and Shake looked. It feels nicer when you’re dealing with bright video. They stand out more and work better for color correction (don’t ask me why. I just does.

And then… there’s Motion 5, which also has an interface update. It looks like it’s more integrated with FCP and the UI seems to be much easier to work with than it’s earlier version. I decided to purchase both Final Cut Pro and Motion today. Why? Well, one BIG thing in it’s favor is the price. With the previous FInal Cut Studio, you were pushing out almost $1000 for the entire Suite (Final Cut + Motion + Color). This new version (which seems exclusively for download from the App Store) runs a total of $350 for Final Cut and Motion (there is no more Color app. It has been integrated into Final Cut Pro X)

After playing around with it all, I can say i’m pleasantly surprised. Even thought there’s a slight learning curve for the UI changes, it runs and performs like a dream. I have it running on my iMac at work and my Macbook Pro 17″. Since it’s a 64bit app now, there seem to be no ‘preview renders’ needed for transitions and most effects. I haven’t played with it enough so i can’t say. Motion seems to be a bit ‘buggy’, but i’m sure that’ll be fixed over the short run with updates from the App store.

All in all, I can’t wait to get my feet wet with a project. I’ll do a full review in a week once I get the hang of the entire suite.

New Media Center: The Mac Mini

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So a week ago, the 4TB G-RAID drive that holds all my movies and tv shows started to act up. Wireless transfers of media that use to take a few minutes were taking an hour. Videos would take almost 30 seconds to play and would periodically freeze while I was watching. I tried running diagnostic tools, but all I got were messages to back up my data and reformat the drive. I started panicking because I didn’t have anyspace CLOSE to 4TB to back up my data. So with a heavy heart and a slight case of buyers remorse, I forked over $370 and bought a second 4TB G-RAID to act as my transfer drive, and then added space for content. The G-RAID drive has been the best media drive I’ve ever had. So I decided to stick with what I know.

So I got the drive, daisy-chained it to my old one using a firewire 800 cable (I LOVE FIREWIRE800)! Aaaaand I started copying over the data. i didn’t  think 4TB would be that much of a pain to copy over firewire800. I was wrong. I forgot my first drive was in the process of failing. The transfer was going to take 30+ hours!!! I didn’t panic, though. That was ok. I could do two days without media content. So I copied and I waited.

About 4 hours into the transfer, the Macbook Pro started acting funny. The screen froze and when i tried to move the mouse, the screen went blue! So i let it sit for an hour. I was hoping it would straighten itself out and I wouldn’t lose that 4 hours of transfer. But alas, nothing happened. I did a hard reboot and instead of the clean grey apple logo popping up, I got a foreboding grey folder with a question mark icon. I already knew that I was screwed. Somehow my hardrive got hosed. but before I could do anything the folder went away and I got a black screen with a little primitive white grimacing mac box on it. NOOOOOOO!!!! Logicboard failure!!!! So what i thought would be a simple hardrive replacement, actually turned out to be a dead logicboard. I had two options. I could take the laptop in to be services or i could just break down and buy a proper mac to be the media center. I chose the latter.

So with a heavy heart and an EXTREME case of buyer’s remorse, I scurried down to the Walnut Creek Apple Store and spent a GRIP on a shiny new Apple Mac Mini.

Setting up was a breeze (once i got the wireless keyboard and Magic Trackpad to sync). I promptly installed xbmc 10.1 and attached my two G-RAID drives to it. At first I was a little disappointed with the screen resolution. the 1600×600 was the highest resolution offered through the onboard HDMI port. But then I remembered that the miniDVI port was the real graphics powerhouse, so i used my HDMI/miniDVI adapter and presto, full 1080p resolution.

Aw we speak, my data transfer should be finishing up (went from 30+ hours to 12). And xbmc is scraping the hell out of my content getting the right metadata for all movies and tv shows. I spent WAY too much money on tech this week. Add my new iPad 2 being delivered on the same day this all happened and you get the spot i’m in. But i can’t complain. Just take the hit and enjoy my toys!