This month has been a great month for me when it comes to listening to music. I cleaned up my Google Music account and uploaded a bunch of new albums and albums that I hadn’t yet gotten a chance to listen to. Unfortunately my Last.fm scrobbling wasn’t authenticating properly on my phone and browser so there’s a good 10-day period where nothing was logged.
Highlights of the Month
Jungle – Jungle (2014)
I think the soundtracks to EA games are vastly underrated when it comes to talk about teams that put great soundtracks together. I have fond memories of the NHL, FIFA, and Burnout soundtracks as a kid. Much is said, rightly so, about Rockstar’s ability to create a perfect sense of time and place with their soundtracks. I think that discussion often crowds out the achievement when a game is intended to appeal to multiple geographic markets, tastes, and cultures that have differing reference points to a game. I think FIFA is a prime example of this challenge as the musical tastes of Europe, Africa, and South America are often different than that of North America’s, and especially in the context of different broadcast productions of the sport.
I hadn’t paid any attention to Jungle when it was released but after seeing a bit of buzz about it, I decided to hop on board to see what I was missing. I had no idea I had listened to Jungle frequently as part of the FIFA soundtrack in between games on my climb to Division 1 online and loved it. I really enjoyed this album as a whole and will likely revisit it quite a bit going forward.
A Tribe Called Quest – Beats, Rhymes and Life (1996)
Tribe was the first rap group I ever fell deeply into. Even though Beats, Rhymes and Life came out when I was transitioning from velcro to shoe laces, I have distinct memories of riding around in my uncle’s 1994 Impala SS bumping Motivators on the short drive from my nonna’s house to the local Blockbuster. It was there that we would pick out two games to rent for the week that I would inevitably spend all of my free time playing. I still remember the smells of cologne masked cigarettes (Jean Paul Gaultier to be specific), the hard plastic of the rental boxes, and the rich foods my nonna was cooking in the basement. It goes without saying that the sounds of the funky diabetic, Phife, Q-Tip, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad were huge parts of my childhood and an integral part of a ritual I miss dearly.
When I heard that Phife died at the age of 45, I couldn’t quite believe it. I spent the whole week listening to ATCQ albums and trying to pay respect by reliving rituals that were now inaccessible. I even made a trip to Detroit to eat the Dimestore special Banana Bomb in tribute. One thing that I could relive was listening to my favourite ATCQ album, Beats, Rhymes and Life. I don’t think you can top an intro like Phony Rappers and a closer like Stressed Out. It even has a classic “Are you on point, Phife?” line tucked into 1nce Again.
Miike Snow – III (2016)
I loved the first Miike Snow album and enjoyed the second, but I adored the first single off of this album. Genghis Khan is a great head bobber and danceable track on its own, but the Goldfinger inspired video just takes it to a new level. Topped off with a great track collaboration with El-P and Killer Mike’s Run The Jewels project makes me wish I had spent more time listening to it this month, even if it was my most listened to album.