I could freestyle to a dolphin and a tambourine – @Jodyhighroller world’s funnest & funniest MC

NeonIcon1_HomepageBanner2

Riff Raff is your favourite funny rapper.  His 2014 CD, Neon Icon, is filled with weird and hilarious rhymes and infectious, pulsing beats.  It’s official, you can no longer sleep on Riff Raff, aka Jody Highroller, aka the Versace Python, aka the White BLANK, aka Peach Panther aka James Franco’s muse.  Riff Riff is pure excess and energy.  His life and music is an unapologetic caricature of 90s extravagance and the Dirty South subculture.  I don’t get it, but I love it.

Most funny rappers bore me.  Besides, The Real Slim Shady and My Name Is, most of Eminem’s supposedly funny raps just seemed lazy to me.  Tyler the Creator, Devin the Dude, and 2 Chainz are just not the MCs I keep on a tight rotation.  I have a pretty low tolerance for stereotypical humour (Black people be late; Indian moms be making curry; Japanese girls be giggling, etc.)

The difference with Riff Raff is that he’s happy to be that over-the-top lothario 24/7.  I don’t know where the persona ends and the man begins.  After an all-night Google deep-dive into his career, I wonder if even he knows the answer.

Aquaberry Dolphin is one of my favourite songs on Neon Icon. Riff Raff’s flow is comedically slow, like he recorded his rhymes at his regular cadence, typical of slow-drawling southern rappers, and then slowed down the track further. But the beats are still fast and fresh which makes it sound like he’s teaching, talking nice and slow so you don’t miss the grandeur of his claims between shots of jaeger.

I’m on a beach, David Hasselhoff (what?)
Hassle me I’m Tim McGraw, I don’t pass the ball (no)
Ball hard, fourth quarter, shoot the lights off. 

Riff isn’t preoccupied with dropping the hottest or most current references. He used to be in a rap group with Andy Milonakis and Simon Rex.  I don’t think he cares what mentioning Tim McGraw or David Hasselhoff will do for his street cred.

 The mansion, three-stories, living room with trampoline
Mi casa so big it took the maids the whole week to clean
I don’t like to drive Versace jeans in the limousine
 I could freestyle to a dolphin and a tambourine. 

He’s a self-professed alien. He’s working on breaking into the WWE.  He rocks neon braids, reportedly has had sex with thousands of females, including  a three-way that involved a dolphin and handful of magic mushrooms and has a deep connection to Bart Simpson.  He personifies everything I fear about  “Spring Braaak,” but I can’t help but be intrigued by his flagerance and authenticity.   I can’t wait to see what he does next.

 24AD36AA00000578-0-image-a-8_1421197598471

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Life Gets Busy and Hard & Sometimes You Need to Just Get Stoopid

This is my gift to you, the #GetStoopid Playlist.  It’s meant for sweaty dance parties, calling in sick to work from the Airport and not being able to see straight.

Hey, summer: I missed you! Now let’s lose our minds.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It Ain’t No Fun to Be Lonely

There’s something to be said for having a distinct sound.  And after just two albums, you’d be hard pressed to mistake an Alabama Shakes song for anything else. At first listen, their music conjures up images of campfires, singalongs, and swaying back and forth in a crowd at [insert name of ‘of-the-moment’ summer rock concert here] just like in all those beer commercials that start playing as soon as the snow thaws.

But discounting Alabama Shakes as another southern rock group with a bluesy influence is a discredit to this band that is at once soulful and sarcastic, melodic and tangent-filled; succinct and meandering.

Their new album, “Sound & Colour” is weird. It’s dance-y and catchy and filled with random tongue-in-cheek lyrics and sweeping vocal acrobats from our very own Janis Joplin, Brittany Howard.

Lead singer, Brittany Howard, is my spirit animal. Her voice is so malleable.  She’s part gospel queen, part riot girl, part David Bowie disciple and totally free.  I feel like her after 3 Mike’s Hard Lemonades. Undefinable, unfeathered and open.  She shares her heart, her humour and her proclivities through her voice in a way I haven’t heard in a very long time.

Right now my favourite song on Sound & Colour is Shoegaze. It reminds me of drunken fights at the beach and long road trips in the summer.  It makes me think of those late-night conversations that start in a haze of smoke and alcohol but irrevocably end up changing your view on life and relationships.

This song makes me think about everyone is so over dramatic about things these days.  Not every night out is a music video montage.  Not every meal is instagram-worthy.  Not everything is literally #epic.

Whether you subscribe to the “140-character culture” or “Insta-life with filters” there’s no denying that there’s a overwrought preciousness to the zeitgeist. (If I see another #MotivationalMonday quote, I fear I will #PullthePlug).

“Let’s all make memories
Precious and temporary”

Shoegaze is a song for those nights that are fun and crazy but you’ve around long enough to know it’s not necessarily life-changing.  The title takes its name from the 1990s sub-genre that stood for long, meandering songs with little attention to lyrics but still evoked a distinctive sense of mood and character.

This song makes me smile.  It’s a sarcastic reality check, reminding me that no matter how self-indulgent I can become with the power of a keyboard and the ability to share whatever asinine thoughts I have at the moment with the world, everything is not everything.  Every wardrobe choice does not need to be an #OOTD.  Every melancholy moment isn’t the #worstdayever.  Every drunken night isn’t #epic.  But I do believe, there is a song for every person in every moment and that is #TrueRomance.

“It ain’t no fun to be lonely
But I was not truly lonely” 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are You Down With It?

I have no shame in admitting I still have a lot of love for Girlicious. Never heard of them?  Well, you’re not the only one.  They were a girl group created by Pussycat Dolls founder, Robyn Antin and stars of a reality competition show on the CW about the formation of the band called The Pussycats Dolls Presents: Girlicious. 

As cheesy as that all sounds and it was, so gloriously cheesy especially this Youtube clip which I still enjoy watching for the histrionics, the music was still surprisingly good.  In fact, their CD, Girlicious, is such a great part pop record that I bought it twice. Once on CD and then once on iTunes when I couldn’t find the CD for a few months.

Girlicious is one of the greatest pop CDs of the last 10 years.  For the record I also think, Britney Spears In the Zone, N.E.R.D. In Search of, Selena Gomez Stars Dance, and Robyn Body Talk are in the running for Top Five.

My favourite song on the CD is Stupid Shit.  I always love songs that say inane or crude things in a sweet voice (That explains my addiction to R. Kelly and basically all 90s R&B).  Their songs are confident and upbeat and unapologetic yet sweet.

I have so many favourite lyrics from this song.  But more than the lewd lyrics and sing along chorus, I love the overall vibe of this song.  Do stupid shit.  Who cares.  Get what you want and don’t apologize.

Oh yeah I’m vicious so delicious all the boys wanna eat
Go head and hate me baby, sa sa salty but sweet.

I’d go so far as to say that Stupid Shit is a feminist anthem.  These girls are more than happy to use their bodies for what they want as much as their male counterparts.  They are taking control of their bodies and using them for wild fun and they are inviting their male suitors to join in but only on their terms.

You want tell everybody
baby girl she with me
But I aint even trippin pimpin
I’m just doing my thing.  

Whatever the feministic or sexually exploitive message, I love it.  Life is full of far too many  responsibilities and worries to not be able to wild out every once in while.

I’ve been having a recurring dream lately where I go away for a weekend without telling anyone.  Just show up at the airport and buy a ticket to anywhere but here.  When I get there, it’s late at night and I check into a fancy hotel filled with hoity toity business people there for some major conference.  I sneak out the back door of the hotel and under the cover of night just start tagging the beautiful city streets, knocking over trash cans, breaking windows, buying illicit drugs, just doing all this bad shit that I really know better than to do especially in a strange city.  But it’s exhilarating and inspiring and anonymous.  It’s stupid, dangerous shit but once in while you just need it.

Girlicious__Nic_Nat_Chrys_Tiff_by_TheUh_OhOreo

Posted in dance, Music | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

@Hozier Slays Ariana Grande and Warren G

There’s nothing I love more that a great cover and there’s no better place to hear a great, unique cover than the BBC Live Lounge. Check out this amazing cover Hozier did over the weekend mashing up Ariana Grande’s “Problem” and Warren G’s “Regulate.”  I really hope he plays this at his show in Vancouver coming up!

mic. drop.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

All We Wanna Do is Take the Chains Off

“Be Free” by J Cole isn’t a song I listen to that often.  The truth is: I can’t. Nowadays, whenever I hear the lines:

All we want to do is be free
All we want to do is be free

I hear the (slightly paraphrased) last words of Eric Garner:

All I know is I can’t breathe
All I know is I can’t breathe

It makes me think of his wife and his video death and it’s just so god-damn depressing.  The song leaves me very nervous, weary and reminds me how hopelessly out-of-touch I am with real world problems.

If there’s one thing I will take away from 2014: it’s that this world is so fucked.  Between disappearing airlines; kidnapped Nigerian school girls, Malala, and the litany of racially charged shootings of young black men in the U.S.  I have never felt so simultaneously lucky and guilty that I was graced with the good fortune to live on this temperate, sleepy Island while my brethren trying to go to school in Nigeria or Pakistan are being persecuted, kidnapped, shot and raped. Or are being choked to death on the streets of New York; or shot in the back in the suburbs of Missouri; or on a subway platform in San Francisco; or on a playground in Cleveland; or a hundred other places and times young, unarmed black men have been shot by authorities in the last year or two.

It’s embarrassing.  I actually can’t stand to read about it, because I’m embarrassed that people still react like that in this day and age.  It’s disgusting to watch the media and politicians try to rationalize or subjugate this type of behaviour – this type of epidemic.

And I’m in denial
And it don’t take no x-ray to see right through my smile
I know

All year, I saw the stories about young black men being shot pop up and I would devour the information like a nebulous made-for-tv movie.  I’d skim the stories, read the social media hashtags,  scan the photos, but I couldn’t sit and really absorb the information. I couldn’t watch the sobbing parents nervously reading prepared speeches to angry mobs outside of courtrooms and pundits calling for cooler heads to prevail over the calamities of injustice.  I didn’t want to.  I’m not a racist.  I know these shooting are bad.  Why do I have to know all these details?

It took me a while to realize why the details matter.  Why everyone should have an image of these boys and men when they hear the names Michael Smith, Travyon Martin, Tamir Rice, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner and the hundreds of other unarmed, young black men that were shot to death by authorities. It’s because this is real and happening right under our noses. If we don’t pay attention and really work to understand why this is happening –  it will be happening on our doorsteps next.

140824-michael-brown-4p_98a645e4e00131864161045b0edd09e7 medical-examiner-trayvon-martin-lived-in-pain-for-up-to-10-minutes Oscargrantkilledbypolice2                  i                                                       ericgarner2372CEF800000578-2846889-image-18_1416849811041

I was re-reading one of my favourite books, “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” by Alex Haley that I was reminded of one of my favourite quotes, by Black Panthers leaders Eldridge Cleaver:

There is no more neutrality in the world.
You either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem.

It may seem a bit far-fetched to feel that up here in Canada, in my self-exiled bubble of kisses, unicorns and giggles, I can help stop police brutality against young black males in the United States but I really believe, in a small, minuscule way, it’s true.  I have to.  Otherwise, what’s the point of caring?

Please give me a chance
I don’t wanna dance
Something’s got me down
I will stand my ground.  

It’s so easy to be apathetic.  I loathe apathy. Even Kurt Cobain was disgusted with his predicament having become the poster child for apathy when I believe it was his hyper over-sensitivity and cripplingly insecurity that was perceived as apathy by the media.  I understand apathy  is a natural part of growing up, but adults without opinions or adults who are too lazy or too preoccupied with their own mundane lives to educate themselves and develop some sort of understanding on the greater crises facing our world today are the worst.

J Cole is anything but apathetic.  He’s travelled throughout Ferguson.  He uses his music, interviews, social media and image to give a voice to the struggles that he remains connected to.

Ooh, I’m letting you know
That it ain’t no gun they make that can kill my soul
Oh, no

So what do can we do about the persecution of young black men in the United States?  It starts within yourself.  You can begin by examining your own stereotypes about all races and types of peoples and coming to terms with how they evolved and how they impact the ways you interact with people.  You can educate yourself. You can educate others.  You can donate to charities that support causes that are important to you.  You can volunteer.  You can write your politicians.  You can create art that is inspired by things that matter to you.  You don’t have to drive to Ferguson and join a riot to show your support for the families of these fallen men.  You can live your life in a way that honours their memories and help create a generation that does not fear young black men or police or tolerate injustice.

All we want to do is be free
All we want to do is be free
All we want to do is take the chains off
All we want to do is break the chains off.  

BvBTbLdIcAE1jxC

Posted in hip hop, police brutality, race relations, rap | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Best Music from Seven Seasons of Sons of Anarchy

With the Sons of Anarchy series finale coming up on December 9th, it’s hard to not get nostalgic over the last seven seasons of mayhem, machismo, brotherhood, love, dysfunction, loyalty and betrayal. Instead of getting depressed over the end of Jax Teller, I thought I would remember one of the things that surprised me the most about this show:  the music.  Nobody does a musical montage like SOA. Kurt Sutter and Bob Thiele have found a way to weave new or re-interpretated music into some of the most pivotal scenes of the show. The music on Sons of Anarchy elevates the drama, the lyrics provide a deeper prospective to the turmoil on screen and the musicians chosen are rarely known beyond their smaller, niche markets.  I would have never heard of The Forest Rangers, White Buffalo, Noah Gundersen, Joshua James or Greg Holden without Sons of Anarchy and now all these artist are in heavy rotation on my iTunes.

I’m dreading the series finale on Tuesday but I’m super curious to see what song Kurt chooses for his last SOA musical montage.

12. Lullaby for a Solider – Maggie Siff. This song is from Season 6, episode 9, “John 8:32.” Juxtaposed with all the anxiety and stress of the episode which culminates with a terrifying scene between Jax and Lowen when Jax finally realizes what Tara has done.  Maggie’s sweet voice reads like a collective sigh for the audience.  Something wicked this way comes.  She’s resigned to it.  It’s extremely sad and somewhat haunting.  What more can the caged bird do but sing.  She sings for her hopes, her mistakes and her sons.

May you always be brave in the shadows
‘Till the sun shines upon you again
Hear this prayer in my heart, and we’ll ne’er be apart
May you stay in the arms of the angels

11.  Till It’s Gone – Yelawolf  This song was in the Season 7 premiere, “Black Widower.” SOA has featured Yelawolf before, but I was so happy to hear this newest song on my favourite show.  The beat is like Jax’s frenetic heartbeat.  Hard and fast – driven by a deep-rooted pain and thirst for revenge that he can’t comprehend.  Jax thinks he is being a man by trying to avenge Tara’s death but he is too clouded by his pain to realize that he is basically being  coward- avoiding his kids; avoiding his wife’s grave and suppressing his feelings with violent bravado and rash decisions.

You handle your own when you become a man And become a man when you handle your own Ain’t much I can do, but I do what I can But what can I do if I do till it’s gone? Oh oh

10. Forever Young – Audra Mae.  It’s so rare to see a happy moment in Sons of Anarchy but this cover of the Bob Dylan classic was used in the beginning of Season 1, episode 12, the “Sleep of Babes.”  Baby Abel is finally coming home from the hospital, Clay and Gemma are being all cute in the kitchen; Tara tells Jax she loves him sleepily – Jax is worried and stressed but you can’t have everyone happy at the same moment – this is Sons of Anarchy after all. I love this cover because the singer’s voice is angelic but also a bit gritty and sleepy.  This song humanizes the SOA family because it illustrates that despite the extreme lives they live; they still want the same fundamental things for their children.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you. 

To be honest, I never really thought about the lyrics of Forever Young before I heard this cover on SOA.  Jax obviously wants his newborn son Abel, to grow up surrounded by love, be strong, righteous and true.  But as the series unfolds, we see that Jax’s pursuit of the truth about his club, about Tara,  and about his Father lead him to make some terrible, terrible choices.  Ultimately, the truths break him.

09. Family – Noah Gundersen. This song was used for the musical montage at the end of  Season 4, episode 6, “With an X. There’s a lot that happens: Jax beats up Ima, Unser leaves a death threat in Tara’s car; Juice is a fucking mess.  But everything that everyone is doing is in the name of their “family,” either their biological family or their chosen family.

And someone lies bleeding
Someone got violent and did not think twice
And I watched you my brother
Making a fool of the moon tonight

If you don’t know Noah Gundersen, I strongly urge you to get into him. He writes some of the most heartbreaking and truthful lyrics  I have ever heard.  I know this song is the same music as Day is Gone, but it’s a testament to how beautifully painful this song is to me that I’ve basically included it twice.  For me, this song is about how family can be so cruel, and reckless and crazy, but you stay with them because you feel it’s the right thing to do or you’re scared to forge ahead alone. So you numb yourself to dull the pain and pass the time until it’s all over.

8. Can’t Make it Through the Night – Deadstring Brothers. This song is from Season 2, episode 11, “Service.”  I can’t find anything about this band online; I’m not even sure if they are still together.  Actually when I first heard this song, which plays when Clay and Gemma get it on at the Teller-Morrow office, I thought it was the Rolling Stones.

She hold me close and life looks easy
Well, Im still cropped by her sight
The pain never leaves me
And I still can’t make it through the night.

I love this song so much because the lyrics are so straightforward and it sounds like something someone would get up to sing after a few to many drinks and a rowdy drunken fight with your partner.

7.  Goodbye Dear Friend – Deer Tick. Technically this song is not from a Sons of Anarchy episode but since the cast seems to blur the lines between their real lives and their acting lives, I will too.  I first learned about this song from this Goodbye Opie video, that still makes me cry every time I watch it.  Deer Tick wrote this song about a friend that died in a house fire.  For me, it makes me think about a certain friend, who was one of my closest friends for a brief but intense period of my life.  She didn’t die or anything but we just burned out of each others lives.  But sometimes, I’ll see an old photo or hear an old song and think about her and how inseparable we were and now I’m not sure I would recognize her if she was standing right in front of me.

Some stories break your heart
And some with such applaud
Buried deep inside, where it’s ok to cry
Some boys won’t shed a tear
Oh, but I tell it like this here
It can break down and get me where it hurts the most

Deer Tick is a pretty amazing rock band. They even have a Nirvana cover band called Deervana.  The lead singer’s voice is so gravelly and solemn that I was pretty surprised to discover that the band does a lot of cool, happy, rockabilly songs too. One of my favourites is called In Our Time, which is about how cool they used to be before they had kids and responsibilities.

6.  John the Revelator – The Forest Rangers.   This song is featured in Season 1, episode 13, “The Revelator,” and is arguably the most iconic song from the series.  I don’t know much about the Bible so this song was completely new to me when I heard it on the show.  I was instantly intrigued.  The melody and the bluesy twang are basically begging you to tramp around your house failing your arms around looking for John the Revelator. What I really love about the song is the sense of defiance in the delivery of the lyrics. It mirrors the defiance in Jax, who now knows what Clay and Tig have done.

5. The Lost Boy – Greg Holden. This song is from Season 5, episode 4, “Stolen Huffy.”  This is the episode with Opie’s funeral.  It’s sad but in true SOA fashion, the main storyline is  juxtaposed with some random car chases, fights and a random guest starring turn for Disney princess, Ashley Tisdale.   It’s a testament to how perfect this song fits the character of Opie,that I have read two books about the Lost Boys of Sudanread countless articles, watched the documentary, and still this song, which was written about the Lost Boys of Sudan, makes me think of Opie’s skull getting crushed; Jax’s horrified reaction; that old photo of Jax and Opie that Jax places in Opie’s kutte pocket and not the real heroes that actually inspired this beautiful song.  Oh you beautiful manipulative bastard, Kurt Sutter!

A hero into the masses, to those born without chances
There’s a freedom that everyone deserves
I know there’s greed and there’s corruption
I’ve seen death and mass destruction
But I’m telling you, and I hope that I’m heard

4. Come Healing – Leonard Cohen.  This song was used in the musical montage at the end of Season 6, episode 1, Straw. I got into Sons of Anarchy a bit late- I think Season five was airing and we were given the season 1 DVD which we devoured in like two days.  Then we bought all the DVDs and were embarrassingly hooked.  So much so, that I started getting my BF to shave his beard like Jax and he ‘suggested’ I get highlights and wear my boots more often.  Season six was the first season we watched live and to be honest, I didn’t realize how popular it was.  But when I heard this Leonard Cohen song in the episode (which is one of my favourite Cohen songs of all time), I was shocked. First I was surprised that Leonard Cohen let his music be on Sons of Anarchy.  Then I was shocked that SOA could afford to get the rights to his music.  He’s probably the most famous person to have his music on the show (not including artists who have allowed their music to be covered). This song is so beautiful and poignant that it helps the audience understand (somewhat) why Jax cheats on Tara.  He is not doing it out of malice or lust or bitterness.  He is looking for solace in the midst of the chaos of his life.  He needs healing.

Oh gather up the brokenness
And bring it to me now
The fragrance of those promises
You never dared to vow 

3. Make it Rain – Ed Sheeran. This song is from the musical montage at the end of Season 7, episode 12, “Red Rose.”  I don’t know if there’s another song that so succinctly conveys the emotional turmoil woven throughout the whole series.   I love Ed Sheeran but had no idea that he could be so bluesy.  I had never heard of Foy Vance (the songwriter) but I can say definitively that I am now a fan.  After an emotionally tumultuous episode that saw the death of three major characters, this song was a catharsis. This rain is a baptism on my soul, anyone?

Well I know there can come tears from their eyes
But they may as well be in vain
Even though I know these tears come with pain
Even so, I’m just the same.

2. Day is Gone – Noah Gundersen.  This song is really too sad for me to listen to that much.  It is from season 6, episode 13, “A Mother’s Work.”  There is a beautiful cover of this song by Brittany Myers that I listen to more than the original because it doesn’t make me as sad.     This song is about regrets the lyrics are so painstakingly honest and so true to what Jax must have been feeling.  I find this song so sad because although I’ve never come across my partner murdered on my kitchen floor; I have been confronted with the pain I’ve caused to someone I love.  I’ve hurt people sometimes due to rash decisions; sometimes due to petty grudges I can’t seem to shake; sometimes due to my own closed-mindedness or unwillingness to listen.  To face that truth can be life altering.  Nobody wants to see the people they love in pain, and when you know it’s because of your actions, it’s impossible to stomach.

But its too late, to go back.
I can see the darkness, through the cracks. 
Daylight fading, I curse the breaking. 
The day is gone.

1.  Crash This Train – Joshua James.  This song is from Season 6, episode 7, “Sweet and Vaded.” I relate to this song so much.  The way it plays in this SOA episode is like a train wreck.  Tara plays Unser; fakes her miscarriage; manipulates Jax.  It’s all too much to take.   Tara was the morale centre of the show and now she has become what she despised.  It’s inevitable that all her lies will come crashing down around her.  Even she shows signs of wavering when she watches Jax from her hospital bed; when she makes eye contact with Unser in her office.  But she can’t stop now.  She can’t crash the train.  She’s on it now and there’s nothing anyone can do to help her.

To the mothers and to the fathers who’ve done the best they could.
Cuz raisin’ youngins in a messed up world, it ain’t so understood.
So I’ll cover my ears, and my eyes, pretend that love’s the same.
Cuz with one court’s signature, it all becomes erased.

Sons-of-Anarchy-Season-7-Poster-Jax-sons-of-anarchy-37466980-2025-3000

There you have it.  Thanks Kurt and co. for the memories.  I’ll miss SOA for sure, but the music I found through the show, will keep it on my mind and in my heart always!

Posted in folk, indie rock, Music, Television | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments