Sunday, March 18, 2012

Guante & Big Cats!: TO YOUNG LEADERS (Live at Occupy MN)

This is a video of me performing the new Guante & Big Cats! song "To Young Leaders" live at the Occupy MN site this past Fall.  I also spoke there during the big opening rally.  I've talked and written a lot about Occupy already, so I want to focus on this song for this post.  Our new album, "YOU BETTER WEAPONIZE," is coming this Fall, and though we're not going to release the lead single for a minute still, this is the first peek at an actual song that's going to be on the album.

This track is also the album's mission statement in a lot of ways.  Just about every song on the album is a concept or topic song; this is one of the few more general straight-up rap songs, but it really gets to the core of my artistic and political philosophy; the album's title isn't just there because it's a pun; it really means something to me.  I'll include the lyrics after-the-jump.

And just a note on the beat.  If you've been following Big Cats!'s work with The Tribe & Big Cats!, you already know that this guy is one of the BEST producers in indie hip hop.  This track is bone-crunchingly huge on a good club sound system.  It knocks here too, but wait until you here it in your car, or at a show.  It's just nasty.  And the whole album is like that.  I can't wait to show you more.

Finally, be sure to check out Guante & Big Cats!: WINTER IS COMING as well as Guante: Lightning for more peeks at the new album.  Lots more coming.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Michael Lee's "Pass On" and Why Spoken-Word Continues to Matter

I really like this piece.  If you like it too, check out Michael's other poems in the related videos.  He's got some really strong material and is only getting better.

Now don't get me wrong.  I don't think this is a perfect poem.  I don't think the writing or delivery is flawless.  But I do think it's pretty damn good, and that it taps into something profound and beautiful.  If you don't, that's fine. But I'm tired of having every spoken-word video on the internet turn into a referendum on spoken-word as an art form.  So I'm using this poem as an opportunity to push back.

Without fail, when a spoken-word poem gets posted on a major blog or website, the same comments always pop up:
  • "Too much poet voice."
  • "Too melodramatic; overly sincere; too loud."
  • "A 'real' poet doesn't need the theatrics to be good."
  • "It's too flashy; it's just style over substance."
  • "It's well-done, but it's not poetry."
Now, are there specific instances when those critiques apply?  Sure. There are plenty. But my argument is that those critiques are constantly applied to EVERY spoken-word performance, no matter how good or bad it may be. So I just have a few bullet points for the haters, as it were, to keep in mind:

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Guante: "Lightning" (A Capella)

Guante -- Lightning (Acapella) from Unique Techniques on Vimeo.

This is actually the a capella version of a song on the new Guante & Big Cats! album, YOU BETTER WEAPONIZE. The album version will be very different, but I wanted to share this now.  It was recorded at the A Loud Heart album release party at Honey in MPLS.  Big thanks to Patrick Pegg and Unique Techniques.

I wrote this after giving the keynote speech at the Tomorrow's Leaders Today conference and hearing so many stories, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes inspiring, and then thinking of my own life.  This is one of those "realest shit I ever wrote" type of songs for me, and the theme of focusing so-called negative energy into something constructive is something I tend to write about a lot because it resonates with me a great deal.

For more information on the new album (and a new song you can DL for free) check this link.