Three volumes in and A Blackwatch Christmasyet again nabs a spot on the nice list, showcasing a smattering of Oklahoma artists with charming new holiday standards. This year shakes up the status quo with two themed halves — serving up dusty, countrified Christmas ditties on the Holly-Tonk side and soulful hip-hop carols with Jingle Beats, both with joyful returns.
It has been a relatively rocky road for Weatherford alt-country outfit Green Corn Revival, which has seen its share of highs (acting as backing band for rockabilly icon Wanda Jackson) and lows before an (amicable) split in the road led half of the original lineup to forming Honeylark.
Oklahoma is quickly becoming the indie Christmas music capital of the world, it seems, with yearly compilation albums featuring everyone from Stardeath and White Dwarfs to Graham Colton. So it makes sense that Colourmusic — freak-poppers hailing from Stillwater — would craft a full album of original, offbeat holiday tunes themselves.
The Oklahoma City metro has a thriving garage rock scene. With seasoned acts like Broncho and Copperheads carrying the modern-day torch, the way has been paved for a flock of gritty, young, guitar-centric acts. But nascent Norman trio Poolboy has a knack for riotous hooks that few of its contemporaries can boast.
A lot of hip-hop critics’ criterion for great rap is in the combination of social criticism and delivery. I agree, and I don’t think anybody’s climbed further up that totem than Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones.
Hardly in his 20s, the self-educated, middle-school dropout’s debut, “Illmatic,” captured life in early ’90s New York ghettos with more imagery than any series of photographs and in truer, grittier, more dizzying prose than any novelist could. Or has.
Now 38, Nas debuted the video for “Nasty” yesterday, and if it’s any indication of the forthcoming LP, “Life Is Good,” then we’re in for another high-caliber album. The video was shot in his home neighborhood of Queensbridge, and just look how elated those little kids are to see him and mug for the camera. Actors can’t do that. Watch:
And now a few lyrical samplings:
Self-aggrandizement: • “Queensbridge leader, no equal / I come from the will of Ezekiel / to pop thousand-dollar bottles of scotch / smoke pot and heal the people.” • “I’m skinny, but I’m still too big for a Bentley” • “Gotta bunch a niggas in prison, braggin’, sayin’ it was Nas I used to hustle with”
Insults: • “Your flow cheap as limousine liquor” • “Any rebuttal to what I utter gets cut”
Philosophy: • “I guess entertainment means blatantly lyin’”
Allusions • Jackie Onassis • “Carlito’s Way” • Faith Evans • Michael Jackson
Nas’s technical game is as impressive as ever. I’m excited to see if his production and concepts on “Life is Good” are on par.