Archive for June, 2010

Devil’s Pie?

We already peeped it on our Twitter feed, but it is worth three minutes of your time to pop to the Urban Daily who have scooped the first D’Angelo interview in nine years. Obviously the alleged struggles the man has had with creativity/abuse/image/life were off limits and D, in his own words, was simply wanting to let people know that he was cooking up something real nice for us. This is of course the news that we have waited long to hear, but the proof will be in the eating of course.

For now we can just hope that the intention bears fruit, and the Messiah still has his golden touch, because there is no doubt that the man has created two of the greatest musical statements of the admittedly now not so recent age. Will his new material be relevant, well we’ll just have to wait and see. But there is evidence in the brief interview that he is searching for inspiration in all the right places, not least of all the bands he describes as truly epitomising black music, not least the all-black funk outfits of the 1970s. It’s not for us to unpick this definition, but there is something of a resonance for the 12bar crew in the artists and collectives he talks about being heavily into at the moment that are worth pausing on. Bootsy Collins, the Bar-kays, Black Merda, the Afro-Punk community members such as Bad Brains or Fishbone. To this we might add the likes of feted British funk rock pioneers Cymande, or proto-disco funkers Kleeer, Parliament-Funkadelic, or The Meters, Rasputin’s Stash, Baby Huey, the list can go on and on and extend to other art forms and cultural touchpoints.. We have been fascinated for a while in the notion of black identity and empowerment in musical scenes. We haven’t really thought it through in any way, but you’ll be the first to hear if we do.

In the meantime it is refreshing in a way to know that D’Angelo is ploughing his own path of influences to feed into his own undoubted precocious genius. Let’s not forget that there were pretty much ten years between “Brown Sugar” and “Voodoo” so the hiatus is not necessarily cause for concern. And in the meantime his brief re-emergence has already got us thinking. So for now let’s touch again on those possible influences just for the glimpse it might give us into that “something nice” he might be cooking.

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Twelve Bar on June 30th 2010 in Music

and we gave him the Rolling Stone cover?

So seeing that Jigga man has made his fourth Rolling Stone cover got us thinking about just how iconic the magazine is. Yes it has its critics, and yes its writing has fluctuated in terms of quality and relevance over the years, but you can’t hate on a publishing icon that has out-grown its humble beginnings to be a true cultural touchpoint. Like us its name is rooted in some ways in the blues (named after Muddy Waters’ 1948 classic), and like us it is stylistically sensitive. But if we make even half the impact that Rolling Stone has on popular culture and musical appreciation we’ll be doing alright, and if we make it onto the cover, well, you’ll know it’s all love. And so in its honour we thought we’d bring you some of the magazine’s classic covers. There are so many to choose from, but with that awesome scripted title, it is a true trademark of success, and something of a design classic.

J Hendrix

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Twelve Bar on June 25th 2010 in Music

Drop it like it’s hot

Everybody on this post will recognize the genius of the Spike Jonze-directed video for The Pharcyde’s 1995 hit “Drop”, a highmark amongst many in the group’s relatively brief career, and still a touchstone in rap music’s visual history. But I wonder how many will yet have come across the semi-homage of Canadian emcee Shad, himself rapidly becoming a firm favourite of our’s for his inventive and humorous wordplay, reminiscent indeed of The Pharcyde’s own finest moments. See how the cipher turns.

Anyway the tune in question is the simply heavenly “Rose Garden”, from Shad’s recently dropped TSOL long player, a sparkling sunshine of a song, with a reverse-spliced video to match. And while you’re at it check the brilliant video to his 2008 hit “The Prince Still Lives At Home”, another inspired homage. With K-os, Shad and of course Canada’s number one export Drake, perhaps the northern territories are taking the game over by stealth. Watch this space.

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Twelve Bar on June 25th 2010 in Music

It’s All Love Episode XI (Fats Shariff aka Fatsarazzi)

When your brand is established and all the cool guys love what you are doing everyone wants to be your friend. Before that though it’s a different story. When all you’ve got is a few t-shirts in a box, an amazing idea and a huge amount of heart, finding people to vouch for you who can actually think for themselves and aren’t afraid to put themselves out there and stand behind something new and innovative is not the easiest thing. Take it from us – we’ve been there and done that – and that’s why the one and only Fats Shariff aka Fatsarazzi is such an amazing individual.

From the very first day we met him, this guy had our back and is the living and breathing embodiment of our It’s All Love philosophy. Despite the fact that he’s more busy than anyone we’ve ever met and has spent the last fifteen years chronicling street culture everywhere on the planet, he’s someone who will always make time for you and always offer sound words of advice.

He’s also pretty handy when it comes to taking snaps so when we reached out to him and asked him to bless us with a few images which summed up the phrase “It’s All Love” to him, we weren’t surprised that he kindly obliged. Here’s just the tip of the iceberg of his work and we’re looking forward to many more great shots in the pipeline.

Fats – It’s All Love.

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Twelve Bar on June 23rd 2010 in Music

Musing On Sade

Is it her voice or her incredible looks or the combination of the two that makes Sade so beguiling? We were reading an interview with Fat Joe the other day and he revealed a fact that most people don’t know about him is that he listens to Sade every day. Irrelevant fact in many ways, but I kind of know where he is coming from. Maybe not every day, but there is definitely something timeless about Sade’s music (Sade as in the group, as opposed to the individual singer, the common mistake when referring to Sade). Her voice is not the strongest, and in fact is the subject of much debate itself as to whether or not she can really cut it live, but to us this is slightly irrelevant as well.

It is the elegance and grace of her vocals that really gets us every time, and there is a magical quality to it that is as soothing as a hot honey and whisky on a winter’s day, or a the lapping of the waves on a tropical beach. Both settings work, and that in part is the magic. But she looks so fine as well, itself an ageless beauty. Is this a gratuitous reason to show one of our favourite photographs, play some killer Sade tracks, or show some defining album artwork? Again, irrelevant when any one of those things is reason enough to celebrate briefly the music of Sade. Her love is king, and from where we are standing, it’s all love.

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Twelve Bar on June 17th 2010 in Music

Ready For The World?

We’ll admit it, Kanye can puzzle us. We’re not entirely sure about the MTV Awards outburst, his frontline fashion show appearances not to mention his oft-questionable outfits, his monster ego, his Air Yeezys, 808s and Heartbreaks.

But one thing is for sure, when the man steps behind the boards and then in front of the mic, the musical world just has to sit up and take notice. It is easy, now that he is such a massive star in the musical firmament whose mouth and razzle dazzle can be blinding, to be obscured to the man’s immense talent. But don’t ever let the smokescreen fool you. Kanye is one of the most creative and innovative musicians out there. And this is proven once more by the first leak from hotly anticipated new album “Good Ass Job”, the drum-driven prog-rock sampling, Dwele featuring “Power”. Not only are his lyrics once again on point, the correct mixture of braggadocio, social commentary and pure flow, but the beat is classic and yet modern and relevant. It moves rap forwards in a time when it is in some parts in something of a crisis.

But that is for another discussion. For now let’s focus on the song at hand, and the unavoidable sample that literally powers it to great heights. Because here is the nub of Kanye’s brilliance as a producer at least. There is no other beat-maker in the world who would use the prog-rock insanity of King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man” to construct a beat from. Period. That he even knows the tune is an indication of how deep Kanye goes. It is inspired, though an exploration of the work of King Crimson will have to wait despite being well worthy of our attention also.

For now let’s just give props to the Louis Vuitton Don, and welcome him back to the limelight. We liked his self-imposed slightly sulky hiatus from the game, because it only makes his return all the more exciting. Like he immortally said, I’ma let you finish, but later, because for now the time is ripe for pure appreciation. Listen to the power.

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Twelve Bar on June 17th 2010 in Music

Blowing Through The Jasmine In My Mind

We’ve been holding off on doing an Isley Brothers post for some time, but fate’s hand has played a part in prodding us out of our tardiness with the news that bassist and youngest brother Marvin has passed away aged just 56. And so while we pass on our condolences to the Isley clan, and mourn the passing of a member of what is truly one of the greatest musical dynasties of recent times, and one of hip-hop’s most sampled acts, what better time to celebrate their music than now. It was only a few weeks ago that we were rolling around in the sunshine when “For The Love Of You” came on the FM dial, essentially adding a magical ingredient to what was already a great day, making it in a wonderful afternoon in one moment.

The bassline, as you’d expect, is huge, while the vocal harmonies are immense, from the opening hum and the “Well, Well, Well”, through to the close. It is insane how sweet the Isley’s musical harmony is. And the same is true of virtually every track they produced in the 1960s and 1970s. But let’s cut to the chase here. Any band who can pull off the outfits that they did, basically out-macking the world, whilst producing futuristic funk that is still unsurpassed in its texture of sounds, are clearly some kind of alien beings from the planet pimp. Rest in peace Marvin, and respect to the Isleys. It’s all love from this end.

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Twelve Bar on June 15th 2010 in Music

In The Backstreets Of Panama City

We slept first time round. We don’t mind admitting it. And yet a recent influx of Latin American flavour for the crew has reminded us why the global impact of music is so key to what we do. Twelve Bar is as universal as the all love ethos it espouses, from the streets of LA to the barrios of Panama City, we’re never far from a soundtrack.

Will ‘Quantic’ Holland has always been of interest, but his most recent long player alongside his self-defined Combo Barbaro – “Tradition in Transition” – released in summer last year but touring the world now, is a cut above. Deep deep funk, with a soulful twist which only his relocation to Colombia’s salsa mecca Cali could have generated. Highest class musicianship meets a culture that has music as its very DNA. The result, a psychedelically sultry record of perfection that oozes heat from every pore.

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Twelve Bar on June 11th 2010 in Music

It’s All Love Episode XI (Free & Easy)

When it comes to denim magazines, Free & Easy in Japan is pretty much the be all and end all.

Getting love from them is about as high an accolade as a company can receive so we can’t even begin to tell you how happy we are to have been featured in their June 2010 edition as part of an interview they conducted with denim guru Micki Schneider.

To really appreciate the article you’ll need to be able to understand Japanese and you’ll have to go out and buy the magazine for the full story but, if you can’t, take this as official validation that our selvage denim is as good and possibly even better than we are telling you it is.

New styles are releasing shortly online and in select boutiques worldwide so look out for them and supplies are extremely limited so be quick to avoid disappointment. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

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Twelve Bar on June 10th 2010 in Music

When the wind blows, i see my Polos and Timbos

We don’t really need an excuse to delve into the back catalogue of perhaps the most innovative and influential of all producers that the rap game has given us. Timbaland must be a prophet or at least a time-traveller of some description given the prescience of the sound he crafted from out of nowhere. We could find a million ways to define his genius, but here are just two examples, one from each coast. Jigga’s massive “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” from 03 and The Game’s “Put You On The Game” two years later.

And why these two songs in particular. Well each feature a Timbo trademark of sorts, easy to spot once you know to look, and a signal of the ease with which he constructs his sound scapes. For, tucked in to the outros to each song, Timbo rips to shreds his own beats, chopping, re-sequencing, cutting and basically just demonstrating what a don he is. Inspired in its own way, or perhaps just a master of his own art, bored by his own genius? You can decide.

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Twelve Bar on June 8th 2010 in Music