June 9, 2016 2:30 pm

I’ve been using Tidal for a few months now. When I first joined, I thought that it’s horribleness was just a meme meant to make fun of Jay-Z and the product itself wouldn’t be so bad. As it turns out, all of the hype is to be believed. Tidal is horrible. I don’t even want to go into detail about it, please, just take my word for it. Do not use Tidal. Jay-Z, one of my all time favorite rappers, had lead me down a rotten path.

But because I’m lazy, and because I know he’s gonna get Kanye too keep Cruel Winter exclusive to Tidal for at least a month, I’m sticking with the misery like a 1950s marriage. Ever since I’ve drastically lowered my standards, it’s actually been pretty okay, kinda! So when the Brooklyn rapper’s streaming service kept sending me alerts last week, insisting that I listen to Pusha T’s new single “Drug Dealers Anonymous” featuring Jay-Z, I naturally obliged.

What followed that was a less than an ideal experience. Holding up his end of the Drug Dealer bargain, Pusha had his exemplary cocaine kingpin raps front and center as usual and I was grateful for every second of it. After Pusha came Jay-Z, which is when things got ugly.

Having already expressed some real hatred over hashtags and retweets on his last record, Jay is no stranger to showing flashes of his true corny middle aged dad self. However, that was three years ago, and all of his paternal cantankerousness was spread across Magna Carta Holy Grail well enough for it to be a non-issue. His Corny Dad levels have increased dramatically since then, though. He is now fully infected with Corniness.

The verse Jay had on “Drug Dealers Anonymous” was ripe with a myriad of ‘Back In My Days’ to choose from, as well as an attempt to reach out to us snake people™ by ending it with him saying “Damn, Daniel” in an all too sincere fashion. Yes, “Damn, Daniel.” The internet meme that has swept the nation. And to counterbalance that, he went into the Hip Slang time machine to retrieve ‘Bling Bling’ from 1999 a few lines prior. It was rough. And that’s without even even mentioning the ‘Google Me, Baby’ part.


Seriously, it was rough.

To put it lightly, 2016 hasn’t been the best year for Jay. It’s bad enough that he’s lost his touch as a rapper and Tidal continues to get nothing but venom from the masses, but after Beyonce released Lemonade, her world-stopping, deeply personal memoir of an album about unfaithfulness, his image has taken quite a few blows. If we kept track of rapper approval ratings, his would be at Bush levels right about now.

What he needs is a shift in tone. It would tarnish his legacy if he tries to release another album, or if he continues jumping on these tracks, only to embarrass himself. His now rampant Corny Dad aesthetic does not mesh well in the world of Hip-Hop, but there are other outlets more accommodating to this behavior that needs to be embraced as a way to build up some much needed love.

It’s possible he can redeem himself by simply coming off as a relatable father who makes uncomfortable jokes and wears questionable clothing. None of this is a stretch for him. So what can he possibly do to help him be seen as this new persona to the public eye? Simple: star in the next Grown Ups film.

grown ups 2 poster 1For those who don’t know, Grown Ups a huge buddy comedy centered around Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, and David Spade. They all each have a wife, kids, or at least some type of adult responsibility, which is crazy because, like, they’re still basically kids themselves! And boy, oh boy, when they get together, it’s like they’re back in high school all over again. Whether it’s having fun  objectifying their friend’s daughter as a group activity, or public urination, these guys know how to let loose.

Also, if you’re into a little more ‘headier’ comedy, don’t worry, Sandman and Co. have just the thing for ya: Toe based puns! Seriously, nothing makes me smile more than seeing Chris Rock, one of the most thought provoking stand-up comedians of all time, call his mean step-mother ‘Toe-bocop.’ You know, like Robocop, the Peter Weller vehicle. I’ve seen each Grown Ups movie at least 10 times.

I honestly have no clue if they’re even planning on making a Grown Ups 3, this is is all speculation. But if they ever do decide to go for the trifecta, adding Jay-Z to the fold would give this franchise brand new legs. Just imagine all the stale ’99 Problems’ jokes they’d let fly without consequence, never leaving out his penchant for ‘Back In My Day’-ing. Would Jay be able to bring his buddy Memphis Bleek along for the ride? Grown Ups can be the one hit Bleek’s been missing his whole career.

And perhaps the most important benefit here is that it would be hard for the outside world to view Jay as a sexual entity after 90+ minutes of slapsticky pratfalls and inane fart jokes. From a multitude of personal experience, I know this to be true. Beyonce will never have to worry about another affair after Jay unwittingly eats a sandwich that David Spade sneakily put dog poop in after he pulled off a successful “made you look” as a distraction. This seems like a win-win.

By choosing to hone in on a softer, more affable side to his personality, Jay-Z would do wonders rebuilding his good name. Right now, he’s nothing more than a cheating entrepreneur who probably wears a fanny pack when he raps. All he has to do now is stop the rapping and embrace the fanny pack. Giving up being cool can be challenging for someone of Jay-Z’s stature. Thankfully, the entire cast of Grown Ups knows exactly what he’d be going through, as they’ve been through it themselves.

April 1, 2016 2:02 pm

On the surface, music and comedy share a great deal of similar DNA when it comes to their craft and how they present their work. But humans share about 80% of the same DNA with the duck billed platypus, yet very few of us look like the end result of a drunk scientist trying to put a rubberized handle on a beaver. So while comedy may not get the credit it deserves as an art form, it winds up opening a considerable lane for it to make fun of a lot of institutions that become very stuffy from how overly revered the artists get. Music is one of the leaders in stuffiness, which is why I always take great joy when a comedian is able to adeptly insult the medium in an incisive way. Here are a few of my favorite examples:

Chris Rock – Defending Rap Music

I’m limiting this list to one joke per comedian because if I didn’t, it would just be a collection of funny Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle bits. They’re seriously lightyears ahead of any other comedian on music. And the way Rock is able to combat the issue of rap being taken seriously from all these different angles is genius. It’s a conversation every rap fan has had to have at one point, and the only defense for a lot of rap songs are that it sounds fucking dope. As a person who lives in a very politically aware climate of 2016, it could lead to a lot of inner conflict. But most of that inner conflict falls by the wayside when it’s 1AM at the bar.

Andy Kaufman – Underdog

Trying to explain why an Andy Kaufman joke is funny leads down a snobbish rabbit’s hole. You’ll either think his coyish attempt to lip sync the lyrics to the Underdog theme song is hilarious or corny. I agree with both sides wholeheartedly.

Hannibal Buress – Odd Future and Young Jeezy

First, Young Jeezy as a real estate agent needs its own HGTV show pronto. Second, Hannibal Buress is able to get to the crux of Odd Future’s faux-edginess better than any credited music critic. Third, spam email is the worstest.

Tig Notaro – Taylor Dayne

Tig’s deadpan delivery is at its best in this 11 minute epic about her frequent run-ins with ‘80s pop star Taylor Dayne. And Taylor Dayne never remembered Tig, despite her deliberately saying the same exact thing to Taylor Dayne each time: “Excuse me. I’m Sorry to bother you. But I just have to tell you. I love your voice.” That’s just the life of an ‘80s pop star, guys. Alt-comedian icons come out in droves just to compliment you. It’s hard to tell them apart after a while.

Eddie Murphy – James Brown

A lot of Eddie Murphy’s stand-up material from the ‘80s would be ripe for Tumblr blog post fodder, but there’s no denying how he’s able completely become the figure he’s impersonating, from the voice to their little idiosyncrasies. Murphy’s James Brown impression is arguably his best and has contributed to the unparalleled success he had on SNL. It was such a good impression that Brown himself wanted Murphy to play him in a biopic.

Mindy Kaling – Illegally Downloading Music

Although she isn’t known as a stand-up, I always loved Mindy Kaling’s joke about online piracy when she performed it at Comedy Death Ray. The bit is a little obsolete now, but it takes me back to those halcyon days of Limewire when I would download incorrectly titled Taking Back Sunday songs and give my laptop about a billion viruses in the process.

Matt Braunger – Jim Morrison

This cartoon of Jim Morrison riding shotgun, drunkenly crooning about whoppers is an indispensable visual aid for people who might find themselves in a contentious situation with a Doors fan. It’s an unenviable position that oftentimes leads a lot of gobbledegook poetry being read aloud. Let the animated Lizard King serve as a distraction and leave the scene immediately.

John Mulaney – Salt And Pepper Diner

One day, John Mulaney and his friend decided to use the music from Tom Jones in an impromptu psych experiment on an unsuspecting diner full of innocent families and possible schizophrenics. What exactly would happen if you play ‘What’s New Pussycat’ over and over and over again? Well, a lot of madness.

Aziz Ansari – Kanye West

Examining Kanye as a character become an everyday sport at this point, but very few people could say they were able to experience The Kanye up close and personal. And since Aziz is a complete outsider to Kanye’s world, he was able to magnify all the tiny, little, crazy things Kanye seemingly does on an everyday basis and thinks nothing of it.

Dana Gould – Clown Fucker (A Morrissey Tribute)

From the pretentious vocabulary, to the dark sing-songiness, Dana Gould creates the quintessential Morrissey parody with Clown Fucker. The crowd even gets in on the fun, and joins him for the final chorus. I’m assuming Morrissey’s never heard this joke, which is a shame because it would be a treat to read his pithy hate statement about the whole thing.

Dave Chappelle – Prince

Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories: Prince from Anthony Dufrense on Vimeo.

I’m counting this as stand-up because not having one of the Charlie Murphy related stories on a list like this would be criminal. Every word Chappelle says as Prince has been quoted hard from day one. You really couldn’t go one pick-up game in the mid-00s without hearing something along the lines of ‘shoot the J.. shoot it!” or “game: Blouses.” And Murphy’s fully engaged narration sets the tone perfectly throughout.

When MSI Was Pink
September 7, 2015 4:17 pm

In 1990, Manhattan’s East Village hadn’t yet developed into the glorified shopping mall that’s become so popular with big-haired tourists and yogis alike. It was still fertile ground for people who wanted to create. And it was within this landscape that the band Mindless Self Indulgence, and the character of leader Little Jimmy Urine, were born.

MSI, as fans know them, ripped the music scene a new asshole when they released Tight in 1999. If you were a teenager in the early 2000’s, there’s a good chance you were hanging out in a musty basement somewhere shouting the lyrics to “Bitches” from their year 2000 release Frankenstein Girls Will Seem Strangely Sexy. But what happened before that?

Bootlegs of MSI’s earliest work have been circling the Internet for at least a decade. Finally, their early work is getting the attention it deserves. Pink, coming September 18th on Metropolis Records, contains 15 never-before-released MSI tracks, plus covers of “Personal Jesus” by Depeche Mode and “Girls on Film by Duran Duran. The album is a snapshot of who MSI was from 1990-1997; a celebration of being young and dirty in New York City.

ATYPICAL SOUNDS spoke with singer and writer Little Jimmy Urine (born James Euringer) about the new/old album, what it was like growing up in the city, and what’s in the future for Mindless Self Indulgence.

Your new album Pink is comprised mainly of previously-unreleased music from the early days of MSI. What made you want to release it now?

JU: Well first off, people were selling the self-titled record on eBay for like 500 bucks and I was not seeing any of that money. And I was the only one who had Pink in my possession. But fans knew about the record since the early 2000’s from the Internet. Whether you like Pink or not, one thing is true – it is the most anticipated record of ours because fans knew everything about it for so long but no one even had a bootleg of it. In fact the “bootlegs” that went around were never Pink, they were other bands using the name to promote their own bad music to my fans. So I was like “Fuck that, I am going to put out the real Pink.”

Pink also has covers of “Personal Jesus” and “Girls on Film”. What attracted you to these? Has 80’s synthpop been influential to your sound?

JU: I think synthpop is influential to every single person that has ever worked with electronic music equipment, period. Even if you’re anti-synthpop, that is also synthpop influencing you to do something different. For me, I love melody and 80’s synthpop has some of the best melodies and songwriting ever.

As far as covering “Personal Jesus” and “Girls on Film,” my number one reason to cover a song is, “Can I make a bangin version of this song?” Most people cover songs because the song means a lot to them, but all my covers are based on, “Does the MSI cover slam the fuck out of the original song in some way?” And honestly “Personal Jesus” is my least favorite Depeche Mode song ever – I am a “Strangelove”/”Black Celebration” guy myself. But man does the MSI version kick ass, so of course I’m going to cover it.


Will you be touring to support the album?

JU: We won’t be.

Do you and your wife [Morningwood vocalist Chantal Claret Euringer] ever collaborate?

JU: Hell yeah! All the time. She did a lot of the little vocal samples and background vocals on Pink, How I learned To Love MSI, and If. We’re both working on stuff all the time and we ask each other’s opinions, help each other with lyrics and melody here and there, talk about art production, business etc. My wife is super talented at so much stuff so, of course, I love to work with her.

You have your own record label, Uppity Cracker. Can you speak a little bit about the process of setting up and running an independent label?

JU: Well, it’s really easy; you just make up a stupid name and get an LLC.  Then BAM! you’re in business. It’s just a good thing to have an imprint even if it just handles your own music. But really just go on the internet and look around you can probably find a video on YouTube that would walk you through the whole thing.

Uppity Cracker was started in 1999. Do you think setting up an independent record label is something that could still be done today?

JU: Yeah, easily. Record labels are not magic they are just small business. If you can open up a cupcake shop you can start an independent label. But it will have less cupcakes…

MSI has been around for a reasonably long time, and I’m sure some of your fans have grown up with you as well. Do you keep in contact with any of them? Are there fans you recognize that come to your shows?

JU: Of course, and I am sure that is the case with a lot of bands. But I think even more so with Mindless Self Indulgence because we have always come right off the stage literally at the end of every show and mingled with the crowd no matter how big or small the show or festival is. So being in the crowd every night for twenty years you get to know the regulars.

Growing up in New York City, how great was the temptation to cut class and do something fun?

JU: That is all we did! We grew up in an X-rated adult mall basically. With a bus/subway pass for free transportation that took you anywhere and everywhere 24/7. We would go to 42nd Street, play video games, go to peep shows and jack off, sneak into movies, go to comic book shops. It was the greatest.


Who has the best pizza in New York?

JU: Joe’s Pizza on 6th & Bleecker, and Stromboli on St. Marks & 1st.

Have there been any New York venues you’ve performed at that you enjoyed going to as a teenager? Was it a special experience for you?

JU: CBGBs, Irving Plaza and Webster Hall definitely had that full circle effect of “Man I saw a ton of shows here, and now we’re selling out three nights in a row here, holy crap!” type of feeling.

As a musician, have you ever felt pressured to “grow up”? How do you respond to this criticism?

JU: Nope. One of my biggest influences is Mad Magazine – it’s a subversive satire written and illustrated by smart, talented guys. But it’s also considered lowbrow humor for kids. As long as I’m me I am happy, and I have always been me and I will continue to be myself. It is very satisfying.

What do you see in the future for MSI or your other projects?

JU: I love Mindless Self Indulgence. That’s my favorite band because it’s the band that pays my rent and I will do it for as long as I am physically able. But I do not want to see Jimmy Urine on stage in a wheelchair. And as for other projects, I do a lot of work for TV, movies, comics and video games which are all things that I have loved since I was a kid. So I sleep very well at night.

Listen: Mindless Self Indulgence