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Tag: rap

Úlfur Úlfur ain’t cryin’ no “Wolf!” up Iceland way

Saturday, 20 January, 2018 0 Comments

Icelandic rap is a thing. And Úlfur Úlfur are among the biggest names on the Icelandic rap scene. Úlfur Úlfur translates as “Wolf Wolf” and, like the Canis lupus they are named after, Arnar Freyr and Helgi Sæmundu are howlingly fierce and furry. They are also very funny and their only concession to the dominant lingua franca of rap is liberal use of “motherfuck”. The entire combination means full houses for their gigs in Iceland and millions of plays across every music medium.

Tarantúlur is a song about the white trash Icelandic dream of cars, dudes, babes, hot dogs and drag racing. This is as far from the craft beer-swilling mobs of Reykjavik with their PC cult of Björk one can get.


Rhymin’ and rappin’ with Big Ben Jonson

Sunday, 6 August, 2017 0 Comments

Ben Jonson The great English playwright, poet and actor, Ben Jonson, died on this day in 1637. He wrote what is considered his first important work, Every Man in His Humour, in 1598 and in a 1616 production one William Shakespeare appeared in a leading role. Shortly after the play opened, Jonson killed Gabriel Spencer in a duel and was tried for murder. He pleaded “benefit of clergy”, which meant he was allowed to face a more lenient court by proving he could read and write Latin. Jonson spent only a few weeks in prison, but shortly after his release he was again arrested for failing to pay an actor — not Shakespeare. Life was turbulent for Ben and all those who knew him.

Were he alive today, Big Ben would be a successful rapper, no doubt. He’d love the bling, the booze and the booty and his rhymes would be golden, and platinum. See, the rhymin’ came easy to Big Ben J, which is why he had mixed feelings ’bout it. Yo!

A Fit of Rhyme against Rhyme

Rhyme, the rack of finest wits,
That expresseth but by fits
True conceit,
Spoiling senses of their treasure,
Cozening judgment with a measure,
But false weight;
Wresting words from their true calling,
Propping verse for fear of falling
To the ground;
Jointing syllabes, drowning letters,
Fast’ning vowels as with fetters
They were bound!
Soon as lazy thou wert known,
All good poetry hence was flown,
And art banish’d.
For a thousand years together
All Parnassus’ green did wither,
And wit vanish’d.
Pegasus did fly away,
At the wells no Muse did stay,
But bewail’d
So to see the fountain dry,
And Apollo’s music die,
All light failed!
Starveling rhymes did fill the stage;
Not a poet in an age
Worth crowning;
Not a work deserving bays,
Not a line deserving praise,
Pallas frowning;
Greek was free from rhyme’s infection,
Happy Greek by this protection
Was not spoiled.
Whilst the Latin, queen of tongues,
Is not yet free from rhyme’s wrongs,
But rests foiled.
Scarce the hill again doth flourish,
Scarce the world a wit doth nourish
To restore
Phoebus to his crown again,
And the Muses to their brain,
As before.
Vulgar languages that want
Words and sweetness, and be scant
Of true measure,
Tyrant rhyme hath so abused,
That they long since have refused
Other cæsure.
He that first invented thee,
May his joints tormented be,
Cramp’d forever.
Still may syllables jar with time,
Still may reason war with rhyme,
Resting never.
May his sense when it would meet
The cold tumour in his feet,
Grow unsounder;
And his title be long fool,
That in rearing such a school
Was the founder.

Ben Johnson (1572 – 1637)


Coffee cold, chess hot

Saturday, 13 February, 2016 0 Comments

Fact-crammed sentence coming up: In 1968, the Oscar for Best Original Song was awarded to the French composer Michel Legrand for The Windmills of Your Mind, which featured in The Thomas Crown Affair, starring the late Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway, who was 75 last month.

The film also included a jazz tune, Coffee Cold, by Galt MacDermot, the Canadian composer who had just written the music for Hair, his greatest commercial success. The 88-year-old MacDermot enjoyed a moment a decade ago when his music became popular in the hip-hop scene: Busta Rhymes sampled Space from MacDermot’s 1969 album Woman Is Sweeter for the chart-topping Woo hah!!, rapper MF Doom sampled the MacDermot song Cathedral for his Pennyroyal, and Oh No released an entire album of MacDermot samples titled Exodus into Unheard Rhythms.

MacDermot’s music here is a perfect complement for two great actors in their prime.


Action Bronson raps on Mayweather vs. Pacquiao

Wednesday, 29 April, 2015 0 Comments

His father is an Albanian immigrant and his mother is a Jewish New Yorker. Before embarking on a career as a rapper, Arian Arslani worked as a chef and had his own online cooking show titled “Action in the Kitchen“. Then, he broke his leg. Cuisine’s loss was rap’s gain and Arian Arslan reinvented himself as Action Bronson. With Floyd Mayweather Jr vs. Manny Pacquiao dominating the news cycle, even rappers have an opinion.


Wanted: a Foster of fenestration

Tuesday, 13 May, 2014 0 Comments

Dan Hill cannot be accused of inactivity. Along with writing the City of Sound blog, which stands at the crossroads of urban design, culture and technology, he’s “executive director of futures” at Future Cities Catapult, a global centre of excellence on urban innovation, and he somehow finds time for the job of adjunct professor in the Design, Architecture and Building faculty at the University of Technology in Sydney. In this piece for Dezeen on the challenges posed by crumbling city infrastructures, Dan Hill is on song:

“Though it once seemed unlikely that we would have a Steve Jobs of thermostats and smoke alarms, it turns out that’s the culture Nest emerges from. And perhaps it suggests that we also need an Isozaki of insulation, a Foster of fenestration, a Prouvé of plumbing, a Rogers of rewiring, an Utzon of U-values… and more importantly again, a development or investment model that enables service retrofit within a market shaped to value that.”

Language note: Dan Hill applies alliteration there to nice effect and the use of words beginning with the same sound, which was once popular with poets, is now beloved of rappers. The late Tupac Shakur’s If I Die 2Nite is typical: “My enemies scatter in suicidal situations / Never to witness the wicked shit that they was facin.” By the way, most of Shakur’s songs revolved around themes Dan Hill would be familiar with: violence and hardship in crumbling cities.