Schizo prowl: From corn to cool

Okayplayer's True Notes Vol. 1  (a compilation);
Masta Killa's
No Said Date;
Vast Aire's
Look Mom No Hands;
Righteous at Garden of Sheba;
DJ Dingus at West Main

This weekend couldn't have been more of a blur. So much went down. I barely know where to begin.

Rewind to a week ago. Sunday I decided it was time to clear my head. I needed a long drive so I packed up my bags and headed for my favorite northeast city: Philly. Of course I needed music for the drive. A quick stroll through Plan 9 and I was three CDs richer and ready to roll...

The first disc I popped in was Okayplayer's True Notes Vol. 1, a compilation of tracks put together by none other than The Roots' drummer/producer/afro with a personality, ?uestlove [yup, that's the spelling]. On paper, the CD is a classic with new tracks from Freestyle Fellowship's Aceyalone, Richmond's own Skillz, North Carolina's Little Brother, a few N.Y. reps, and of course a new track from Grammy winners The Roots.

Now listen close. I am only going to say this once. Save your money. This album isn't worth the price of the packaging (which, however, is very impressive). True Notes isn't that bad, but it doesn't come close to showcasing the true talents and creative ability of the artists it enlists. Save for Little Brother, Skillz, and newcomer Jean Grae, it is almost sad coming from a camp that has never failed to impress me.

Next up was the solo debut from Wu Tang Clan 9th member, Masta Killa, titled No Said Date. He debuted as a member of the Clan in 1995. Here we are, 10 years later, and he is just now dropping a solo album. I got one thing to say about it, too: This album is one undigested corn kernel from being a mound of pure s***. Next!

Finally, with almost no hope left on my drive, I pop in Vast Aire's Look Mom No Hands. Vast Aire made a name as one half of the underground Def Jux legends Cannibal Ox. After his partner's jaw was broken by a crazed fan, Vast set out to record numerous solo tracks with a variety of under-the-radar producers. The result was a mix-tape of sorts that appeals to the grittier, raw side of your musical sensibilities. His slow, drawn-out flow makes it easy to miss the profound symbolism in his imagery. A great writer once said, "Don't be so quick to understand me." The same applies here. Take your time and ride the brainwaves of a brilliant poet.

Yeah, so I made it to Philly without chucking my CD player out the window in frustration. The ride home was more enjoyable. I only listened to certified authentic artists like Nas, Radiohead, and Bill Frisell.

I came home in the mood to see music, so I immediately headed out the next Saturday. Garden of Sheba was hosting hip-hop by a local cat called Righteous. He was nice. The sound system wasn't. I didn't want the jacked up speakers to taint my opinion of him... I bought a CD and headed early.

After blowing nearly half the evening, I made my way to Charlottesville's newest venue, West Main, located in the old Awful Arthur's space. There is something haunting about West Main's location. I can't quite finger it, but I really like it. The venue itself is in the basement.

There is a nice-sized dance floor, stage, and bar area that is separated from the performance area. All in all, the joint is really classy. It feels open and inviting and at the same time still has a hint of naughty because of its underground location. A DJ by the name of Dingus was spinning an ecclectic mixture of just about anything that can be found on vinyl to an empty house. I can imagine this place gaining popularity quickly.

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