Pittsburgh | The Wonderful World of Carminelitta

Video blog: Episode 5 – Marseilles, Orte & Travelling

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Picture of The Wonderful World of Carminelitta episode 5

I haven’t updated the blog in a little while, as I am on holidays and don’t necessarily find the time to do that, but I wanted to share a little something with you. My last video blog dates back to September/October, so I thought it would be nice to show my face again and share some of my experiences with you. The Wonderful World of Carminelitta episode 4 was all about Chicago, music and my newly-found love for travelling and this new episode is an extension in a way, as I tell you about my more recent trips to Pittsburgh, Marseilles (France) and Orte (Italy), where I am now, until the end of the week. I hope you will enjoy this little sneak peak and be inspired to explore the world yourself. More updates are coming soon, with some new music so stay tuned!

Before I leave you, here is one of my favourites pictures of Orte, a lovely medieval village surrounded by mountains. It is very peaceful and a great change from busy London.

Picture of Orte, Italy

Video interview: Idasa Tariq

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Picture of Idasa Tariq

To continue with this busy and productive start of 2012, I now present my first interview of the year, with Binghamton/Pittsburgh MC and producer Idasa Tariq. I can’t remember exactly when and where I discovered the talented young man, but I have been following his releases for a little while and really appreciate his work. Idasa is among the most driven, focused and hard-working artists I know and he is definitely an inspiration when it comes to taking the right steps to achieve your dreams and goals, as well as staying as independent as possible. With a new record label, websites and other endeavours, he is clearly going places and it is a great pleasure for me to see him do his thing. In this interesting video interview, he tells us about his musical path, Pittsburgh and Binghamton, future projects and collaborations among many other things. Without further delay, let me present to you Idasa Tariq, in his own words…

Now that you are more familiar with Idasa Tariq, and in case you missed it, discover Pissed Off Soul Man. You can head directly to his Bandcamp page or simply click on the link below. Enjoy and spread the word.

Find out more about Idasa Tariq on Facebook and Twitter

Newness for your ears: East Liberty Quarters, ELQ

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Cover artwork for East Liberty Quarters 7

I told you about Jon Quest and his latest mixtape very recently and I already have some new music made in Pittsburgh for your ears. I actually find this quite appropriate as I am about to visit the place for the first time next week, something I am of course very excited about.
East Liberty Quarters (ELQ) is the coming together of three talented producers from the City of Bridges, Grand Ear, BusCrates 16-Bit Ensemble and Nice Rec. While I told you about the first two numerous times, I have to admit I was not familiar with Nice Rec and his music before hearing his collaboration with them. The trio already delighted our ears with their debut release, the East Liberty Quarters EP several months ago and they are now back with some funky niceness to make you move your body and forget about the cold. This winter treat is soberly entitled East Liberty Quarters 7″ and is a two-track project that has had my head nod seriously for the past ten minutes or so. Trust me, it is almost impossible not to be hypnotised by the rhythm and get in some kind of trance while following the beat. The three producers added a great dose of synthesisers that give both tracks a futuristic and spacey edge.
Holiday and Streetlight are the perfect Friday night/weekend tracks and they should get you in the mood before you head out for the night or help you release the little energy you have left when you come back home. Right now, it is a great way for me to release the stress and tension from this long working day and it sure puts me in the mood to enjoy a nice, productive and music-filled weekend. I have a slight preference for Streetlights, which takes me even further in this exploration of future funk/boogie and puts a huge smile on my face while I let my head and body be possessed by the music.

You can discover East Liberty Quarters 7″ on ELQ’s Bandcamp page or simply by clicking on the link below. The EP is available as a digital download from the site, but also in vinyl, which I highly recommend. I know I’m getting mine when I’m in town! Enjoy and spread the word.

Find out more about ELQ on Facebook

Newness for your ears: The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest: Season 2, Jon Quest

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Cover artwork of The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest: Season 2

I already had this discussion (hmmm… monologue, really) several times, so I won’t lecture you again about the appropriateness of the label “newness for your ears”. To make it short, any music that is new to your ears can be described as new music, without there being any need for “late passes” or other shame-inducing tokens of any sort. Now that the debate is closed and the issue settled, let me tell you about this mixtape that came out back in October…

I actually first heard of Pittsburgh-based MC Jon Quest with volume 1 of his Real Adventures last year and it was a great pleasure for me to discover the second season of said adventures, as it is now making me quite happy to share my thoughts about them.
Growth is a beautiful and exciting part of life, which is all the more appreciated when it is expressed through art. With this new mixtape, Jon Quest proves that he is indeed a very talented and worthy member of the hip-hop culture. While The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest was a sort of introduction, a way for people to get familiar with his music, this second opus is a confirmation of his talent and a testimony to his evolution as a man and as an artist. Also, as was the case with the first volume, the MC surrounded himself with the best producers and artists that Pittsburgh counts and the project sounds like a family reunion of sorts. Something that is quite rare with mixtapes is that most of the production is original and I need to give a big shout out to all the producers involved, as the musical background is quite exceptional here (special mention to Shade Cobain, BusCrates and Geeman).

When it comes to the content, that is where Jon Quest’s growth is most obvious, with an improved flow, his trademark writing and story-telling skills, as well as more introspective and serious topics (PSA Parents, Cold Heart and Bad Mother are a few of my favourites and struck me by their darkness and insight). Another highlight for me is Old Timer, where the MC explores a vicious circle of evil and presents different points of view by entering several character’s bodies and minds. To help Jon Quest shine and showcase his skills, several artists from Pittsburgh take part in the project, including his Varsity Squad partner Beedie, present on several tracks and singer Ricardo Iamuuri, who gives Cold Heart even more depth and beauty. As this is a mixtape, most tracks are quite short and I have to say this really made me want to listen to more from the young MC and hope for an EP or full-length in the near future. While I cross my fingers, I’ll be listening to The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest: Season 2 on repeat and encourage you to do the same.

You can download the mixtape HERE. Don’t hesitate to spread the word! Now, to give you something to enjoy right now, here is the video for Season 2 Intro (Step Up), produced by Shade Cobain. Visuals are most of the time a great way to enjoy music even more and this is clearly the case here.

Find out more about Jon Quest: Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp

Album review: TEARS, Shade Cobain

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Cover artwork for Shade Cobain's TEARS

After DiViNe SeVeN’s INTROSPECT LP last week, I am catching up with another release I have been meaning to tell you about for ages. Shade Cobain, who is among my favourite producers, dropped his latest project TEARS on August 15th, in collaboration with JiLLz Worth’s Them Fighting Words and the album is, once again, a must-have. Big shout out to iNanz for yet another amazing artwork. Now, let me tell you why you need some “TEARS” in your life…

Shade Cobain describes his latest album as “the musical memoir of a 365 day grind” and once again puts a lot of himself into the music, creating a very personal, yet universal project. As he presents different steps and phases in this constant struggle that life is, including highs and lows, he touches upon an element that is still quite taboo in our society. Indeed, it is quite rare to hear people admit to crying or see them do it openly. Those tears may be due to anger, frustration, sadness or even joy and you can feel all of those emotions in the music, as the producer once more found the perfect samples and blending of instruments to reflect what was on his mind and heart. I guess this is me being too sensitive and emotional again, but I did cry when I first listened to the project.
As usual, a great importance is given to drums, which are hard-hitting and will most probably give you a serious head-nod but we can also find a wide variety of influences and genres, giving TEARS a more global reach and making it more than a hip-hop project. Another of Shade Cobain’s trademarks is present here, that is the relevance of the titles, which always emphasise the feeling expressed in the instrumental and make the music speak as words would.

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Album review: INTROSPECT, THE LP, DiViNe SeVeN

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Cover artwork for DiViNe SeVeN's INTROSPECT, THE LP

As is sometimes (err.. often actually) the case, I got slightly side-tracked and overwhelmed by music in the past weeks and months, which created a delay in me writing this review. But this INTROSPECT LP is such a beautiful album that I had to tell you more about it. I hope DiViNe SeVeN and you won’t be too mad at me for taking so long and that it will be worth the wait. Now, let me tell you more about this excellent album…

One of the things I appreciate most about artists, on top of providing quality music, is their ability to evolve and explore different ways to express themselves, to touch upon new subjects or at least to approach them in a new way. As the title suggests, this INTROSPECT LP  is a journey into the heart and mind of DiViNe SeVeN, where he is extremely open about what’s going on in his life and what his various experiences taught him. This is not to say he was not already sharing personal thoughts and feelings on other projects, but this is the overall concept of the album and he goes a little further than previously. He is obviously not the only one to create such an album, which sounds like a diary, but it is precisely because it is his that it is so original and unique.

What struck me at first as I listened to the album was the production, which is a slight departure from what he is usually doing, with a great use of soul and jazz samples, giving the album a particular, somewhat nostalgic touch. Once again, this is nothing new and many artists are using this kind of samples, but I feel it fits perfectly here and helps convey the feelings expressed, while creating the appropriate atmosphere for the listeners to immerse themselves in. There is a very intimate, thoughtful element on this album and the different vocals sampled as well as the instruments (mainly horns and piano) make us travel back in time at the same time as we discover the world DiViNe SeVeN is depicting. While he is talking about his past and current life, the music makes us reminisce on our own history and remember the good and bad times. Something else that is quite new and a very welcome addition is collaboration with singers, who add another smooth soulful touch that blends perfectly with the overall feeling of introspection.

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Album review: Cobainish Theory, Shade Cobain

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As promised in the previous post, I will now tell you a bit more about Shade Cobain’s latest project. In case you missed it and if you need to get familiar with the ‘man of many theories’, have a look a my latest interview with the talented Pittsburgh-based producer. Now, without further delay, here are my thoughts on Cobainish Theory…

I have to admit I had rarely been that impatient to hear an album as I have been with Shade Cobain’s Cobainish Theory. After listening to the incredible Anti-Love Theory, I was really wondering what Shade would come up with on this new project. I had high expectations and those were not only met but clearly exceeded. The amazing producer seems to always grow and improve his craft and I can say this project is not only my favourite by him but probably his best so far. Also, it sounds like a mixture of his previous releases, but on a higher level. As he explained in the interview, “Cobainish Theory is a project that brings all of my other projects together. It’s a little bit of Cassette Theory, a dab of Anti Love Theory.” Shade Cobain is a very versatile producer who always loves to experiment and explore different sounds and this latest project brings all his influences and inspirations together, not only in terms of music but also when it comes to the feelings and themes he is touching upon. While Anti-Love Theory was dealing with love and some personal experiences, it still had a universal appeal and didn’t dig too deep into the producer’s own story. With Cobainish Theory, it seems like he went further and opened up a bit more, telling some of his story, presenting you his own ‘theory’. Also, his other project Cassette Theory was an ode to hip-hop, clearly focused on the culture and paying homage to the ‘golden era’. This spirit of hip-hop is obviously infused in the beats here but there is much more than that. Shade Cobain is not a hip-hop producer, he is making music, period. And that means he is weaving his music with many different sounds and genres, making it universal and original at the same time. Cobainish Theory is therefore a slice of Shade Cobain’s life, a way to get into his brain and heart, experience his feelings and relate to his thoughts.

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Interview: Shade Cobain

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I think the only way for you never to have heard about Shade Cobain is to visit this blog for the first time. If that’s the case, I must advise you to do your research: first of all, check out my Musical Architect interview with the talented Pittsburgh-based producer. Then, discover his amazing projects: Cobainish Remixes Vol. 1, Cassette Theory Beat EP, Anti-Love Theory and Roy Porter’s Sound System: Beat Review EP. Now that you are up to speed, you can learn more about Shade Cobain, through the man himself… I am really thankful to him for taking some time to answer my questions. I also need to give a shout out to JiLLzWorth from Them Fighting Words for presenting all of Shade’s projects and to Nanlib aka iNanz for this amazing cover artwork. Get familiar!

First of all, for people who have never heard of you, could you introduce yourself? 

I’m Shade Cobain. Man of Many Theories and student of music. Coming from Pittsburgh, Pa. And represent TFW and NBSK!!

More and more people discover your music lately, and you now have supporters all around the world. How do you feel about this evolution in your career? 

I’m humbled by the love and support. I’ve never thought the music would spread so fast. It was a year ago, I was just trying to get a spark in my city. And just have people all over the world… DJ’s, promoters, bloggers, producers, and legends that I grew up listening supporting me… it’s a wild feeling, yet humbling.

When I first interviewed you, you didn’t have that many projects out, but in the meantime you released numerous EPs and collaborated with quite a few artists. You are actually incredibly creative and productive. What inspires you and keeps you going?

I challenge myself. Plus I have a creative and inspiring team around me. Which inspires me. So I just create. Learning new things within myself, then translating it through music.

You just released your latest album, entitled Cobainish Theory. How do you feel about this? And could you tell us a bit about this new adventure? 

I think Cobainish Theory is a project that brings all of my other projects together. It’s a little bit of Cassette Theory, a dab of Anti Love Theory. But with a little bit of maturity within sound. But it does tell a story of the past year. The experiences of acceptance, me being confident, and a bright future. I hope the listeners really get into this one and leave listening to it learning a little bit more about me.

All your projects are very different and you always create a new ‘Theory’, a new concept. Is it important for you to constantly evolve, to explore new ideas and sounds? 

Always!!! I don’t see it no other way. I’m a person who doesn’t just conform and settles in my real life. Constant elevation. So why would I do that to my sound… haha!!

Something else that is quite remarkable about your music is how personal it is, how you really pour your heart and soul into it. That was clearly noticeable with Anti-Love Theory but it seems like Cobainish Theory is also a way for you to express some of your experiences and feelings. Do you think it is becoming easier for people to be that open in hip-hop and music in general? And do you think people can relate to this level of honesty? 

Well that’s why I think people gravitate to my music, just because I am honest. But I feel some artists must stay true to themselves. The dollar at times makes the artist not allowed to be “open” or lose focus on who they are. But that’s when you as the person must remember why you are really doing music in the first place.

Thanks to social networks, you seem to have found many like-minded people and fellow music lovers who share the same energy and have the same creative vision as you do. Is it important for you to connect with people in this way and create a bridge with them, even when they live on the other side of the world? 

I feel like it’s the best way. I see some artists clown some artists by using Twitter as a main vehicle. Look!!! From one year, I was sending beat tapes to the artists in Pgh, to have well respected artists. Social Networking works. Plus it lets me be family with the ones who support! We are all a team!!

As I said earlier, you are always busy producing music, putting out projects and working on different collaborations. One of those is Varsity Squad, your group with Pittsburgh MCs Jon Quest and Beedie. The album is scheduled for this fall and you already released a few tracks. Could you tell us a bit about this new group? 

In a few words, THEY ARE MY FAVORITE GROUP, since Little Brother… enough said! Haha!! But they are two talented MC’s from Pittsburgh, that I’m blessed to work with.

You have also been performing recently, opening for ‘big names’ in Pittsburgh. How do you feel about those new experiences and would you like to tour in the US or maybe abroad? 

It’s dope! It gives a chance to put my face and sound to the “big names”. Well me and the TFW/NBSK team is in the works of starting one up in the future.

Anything else you would like to add? 

I love all the love and support from you Marion. You are an important part to the buzz of music and I appreciate that! God’s Peace

Now that you know Shade Cobain a bit more, it is time to discover his latest project, the amazing Cobainish Theory. I will most definitely tell you more about it in the very near future. But you can already get familiar and support!

Homage: Dilla Tribute Mix by Grand Ear

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    I can’t say I’m a true Dilla fan as I am far from knowing most of what the late producer created but I definitely appreciate his music and recognise his genius. I think I really started getting into beats and being truly interested in the music-making process around the time I discovered his music (very, very late I have to admit). Of course there have been mixes celebrating Jay Dee’s music every year since he passed, by a huge number of different producers and DJs. This year is no exception and we have already seen and heard of many such tributes since February 7th and there were probably even more released today. There may have been some controversies or ‘debates’ as well but I’m not interested in any of those. I am all for celebrating music and really that’s all that matters to me. Now, one of the producers I discovered last year, and whose work I greatly appreciate, sent me a very interesting mix and I want to share it with you. Grand Ear aka Geeman, is a very talented musician I already told you about on several occasions and he put together this tribute to pay homage to J. Dilla and his legacy. The Pittsburgh producer is sharing his mix as a free download and all I can say is press play and indulge! Oh, and TURN IT UP!

    As it says below, this mix can’t be played on here so just click on the link below or visit Grand Ear Soundcloud page HERE

        Newness for your ears: Roy Porter’s Sound System Beat Review EP, Shade Cobain

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        Cover artwork for Roy Porter's Sound System: Beat Review EP

        I am usually attracted by music that makes me think, touches me or makes me curious (most of the time, all of those). As much as I love music, my knowledge and culture is very limited, which is something I’m always trying to change. Shade Cobain’s previous releases definitely made me feel good and touched me (in case you missed them, discover his Cassette Theory Beat EP and his beautiful Anti-Love Theory). He is a very versatile producer who always comes up with fresh and innovative ideas. You can’t say any of his projects are alike and that’s something I admire about him. This time, with this tribute to one of his favourite drummers Roy Porter, he presents a very interesting (if way too short) project that really made me curious. I listened to the EP a few times and then was prompted to do some ‘research’ on Roy Porter. I headed to YouTube to listen to some songs of the album and was immediately enchanted. I am far from being a specialist of jazz but I really appreciate this musical genre, which I am discovering in more depth, mainly thanks to artists using samples or referring to jazz classics and musicians. I need to thank Shade for allowing me to discover Roy Porter and his universe through this EP.

        Coming back to the EP itself, it is obviously based on samples from Roy Porter’s Sound System: Inner Feelings but Shade adds his own touch and magic, giving a very modern twist to the originals while staying faithful to them. The result is an energetic and funky EP that will have your head nod and your feet want to make it to the dancefloor. The only thing I would have to object is the length of the project. It is indeed quite short and left me a bit frustrated. I would have wanted the music to go on forever and take me to a dreamland where worries disappear. But Shade is a busy man and he has been spoiling us with a lot of music this year so I won’t hold that against him. What I will do, on the contrary is keep listening to Roy Porter’s Sound System: Beat Review EP on repeat, as it is quite impossible to play it once, it is like some kind of addiction. It’s the kind of addiction I don’t want to be cured from though and I need to thank Shade once again for providing it.

        You can get your fix as well by going to Shade Cobain’s Bandcamp (where you can also find his previous releases) or simply by clicking on the link below. Listen to it, download it and spread the word about it!

        The EP is presented by Them Fighting Words, shouts to JiLLz Worth for the great work! You can find more goodies on the website

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