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March 07

PIZZASAURUS REXVIGALANTEE

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Pizzasaurus Rex
Traveling Today on Yesterday’s Maps

(self produced)

Given that the entirety of entertainment media right now consists of stories about a bimbo white trash singer who married an idiot, got divorced and shaved her head, or a dead ex-striper who married an eighty-year old millionaire and obviously popped enough pills to make Elvis look like an amateur, it’s good to occasionally turn off all that crap and just listen to some nice music, and Pizzasaurus Rex does just fine, be it take-out or dine-in.

Formed five years ago, this six-piece group has traveled quite a bit around the Midwest, playing a simple blend of country-rock and pop, where the guitarists (four, count’em, four guitarist: Barker Gee, Nate Comer, Jesse Schwitz and, well…Stevo) play their guitars with a pure and impressive skill matched by clear vocals and excellent arrangements.

The first track “Bananna Phone” starts this tasty lizard (note to self: excellent band name-Tasty Lizard!) off just right, with an unpretentious toe-tapper, but the last two tracks, the plaintive “Puerto Rico” and rockin’ “Kick Out the Bags” really show these guys chops (or slices, whatever), falling somewhere in between Springsteen and KC local Velvet Freeze, to give you some perspective (listen for a while after the last track, and there’s a little surprise!).

You might notice that no label is listed: that’s because most labels are too busy trying to find five pre-pubescent boys who can dance in sync without dropping their little black microphones to bother with musicians (If you do not play an instrument, YOU ARE NOT A MUSICIAN, AND YES, THAT MEANS DJ’S, TOO!!). So if you happen to like real music instead of the cacophony of noise made by guys wearing eye-liner, go to this group’s My space account and order a hot and steamin’ pie from Stevo and the boys!

You may now return to your standard entertainment crap. Enjoy the photos of the dead fat chick. — Brandon Whitehead (posted 03/09/07)


Vigalantee
A.N.I.M.A.L.

Phatahdat Records

Being a music critic sometimes means you are forced to talk about the worst aspects of the music industry: Most of it is about the stupid, the greedy, the foolish and the fooled, people you wish would shut up and go away. Bad music is just bad music, something at worst you just grit your teeth through until it’s over (sort of like every time our President opens his mouth). Crappy hipster bands, indulgent models or actors who decide they’re musician’s overnight — critics have been through it all and survived. But at the same time, with a silent shame seldom talked about, hardly a word has been said by all those “experts,” national and local, about music that is killing black people.

There’s no point in giving yet another white-man history lesson in the evolution of rap music. If you’re a fan, you know it: but that emergence of urban inner-city kids, sick of radio stations that catered to whites, who started mixing their own music about what they saw out their window every day, has been as enslaved as any African-American ever was.

You can argue that hard-core “gansta” rap just reflects life as it is on the street. You can argue that it’s a lifestyle, a brotherhood, an attitude that resists being kept down by the man. Given the fact that most big-shot music critics are as white as this one, most won’t even touch the subject with a ten-foot pole, other than to quietly pass it over to the few black pundits out there, who frankly seem to be as inept as at putting their finger on the problem as the rest of us.

A few years ago the new 50 Cent CD showed up in the mighty eKC online music pile. The music was ok, the subject matter the same tired crap of bitches, drive-bys and ‘ballin, and it probably made a billion bucks being thumped out of Escalades. But it also brought up a question, one that this honkey has wanted to ask Mr. Cent and the rest (who, hopefully aren’t packin’) for a long, long time.

Is this the best you can do?

Is this the legacy of all those talented, incredible black men and women who weren’t allowed to buy a ticket to the same theaters that they performed in, who traveled together to reduce the chance that someone might take a dislike to their attitude and leave them hanging from a tree? Well, if you think so, I hope your mama is real proud.

The fact is, it’s not the black community that perpetuating all this: it’s (big surprise!) the rich, white corporate guys, in their nice safe suits and pleasant smiles, who got their money on their mind, and their mind on your money because selling hate has always been as easy as eatin’ pancakes.

But, if you want, if you think maybe the best way to beat a demon is not to act like it, but to turn your back on it, if you think that you want your music back, all you have to do is look, because there are still musicians out there who create real Rap and R&B, without the hate, the corruption, the hopeless violence and ridiculous posturing. Like those first rappers, they sell their CDs out of the trunk of their car, they perform at local clubs and street parties, and believe it or not, nobody has to get shot.

Roger Suggs, a k a Vigalantee is what was this music was meant to be, before it got bought up, repackaged, manipulated and humiliatingly drug through the dirt (yes, there is an album review somewhere in here). A.N.I.M.A.L. is his third album, a fantastic mix of poetry, classic street-beats and blues harmonies that should outsell ol’ Two Bit’s crap ten-fold. Every song here makes you want more, and “Yes, Indeed!” the first track, a poem by Doc V, should be required listening for any young man, black or white.

“Grit, Grind” is as street as anything, but instead of glorifying the worst of his culture, he asks for understanding, without judgment or scorn or pandering derision. His friends (Prosper, Shado, V.O.W. and many others) have come to love the music, not smack it around for some more money, and it’s pretty clear this music loves him back, because this is simply one of the best albums of the year.

So, this is your job, if you even think of calling yourself a fan of Rap, old-school or new: get a copy (he has a website easy to find and purchase one), tell your friends, bug your radio station and DJ’s, “Have your heard this, man? You should listen!” because if you don’t, then nothing’s gonna change, and you’ll never get the music they stole from you, from all of us, back again, and that’s one more crime nobody needs.

Peace out. — Brandon Whitehead (posted 03/09/07)


 
 
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