• Downtown at Arnold's tonight (Friday), catch influential cult hero Paleface, a man who has been on the cutting edge of contemporary music's continual fascination with traditional Folk music and an influence on some of the more adventurous musicians who seek to translate that vintage spirit into their own voice. Over the past 20-plus years, the singer/songwriter has been an Anti Folk torchbearer and an Indie Folk mentor, first learning songwriting and lo-fi recordings from underground legend Daniel Johnston in the late ’80s. From there he went on to teach a few tricks to roommate Beck (pre-fame), help the so-called "Freak Folk" scene grow freakier and folkier and collaborate frequently with pals The Avett Brothers. Whether directly or indirectly, if you dig today's "Indie Folk" — or any brand of slanted or subversive Americana — you've likely heard the results of Paleface's unique influence. Click here to read more.
Paleface's show tonight at Arnold's is free and — icing on the cake — great local Folk Pop group Shiny and the Spoon opens the show at 9 p.m. The gig will also be the first one for which Arnold's has commissioned a special concert poster. Crafted by talented local artist Keith Neltner (who has done commissioned poster art for Alice in Chains, Modest Mouse, Hank Williams III, The Avett Brothers, Cake, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and many others), the prints (pictured above) are available for $25 while they last (only 50 were pressed).
Here's Paleface's video for his ode to NYC, fittingly titled "New York, New York."
UPDATE: Arnold's just announced this afternoon that Paleface has cancelled due to illness. A rescheduled date is in the works. Shiny and the Spoon is still performing.
• After the best summer series yet, the final MidPoint Indie Summer concert on Fountain Square goes down tonight at 7 p.m. And the every-Friday series is going out with a bang, featuring a flawless triple bill of local acts. Things get started with superb modern Soul translators The Guitars, who will be followed by the duo R. Ring, featuring Dayton, Ky.'s Mike Montgomery (longtime local engineer ad musician, currently with Ampline) and Dayton, Ohio's Kelley Deal (The Breeders). R. Ring spoke with CityBeat's Brian Baker about the project in this week's paper. Read it online here.
Headlining tonight's Fountain Square concert is Wussy, the now-veteran four-piece that is gearing up for some huge happenings on the horizon, including tour dates with The Afghan Whigs and Heartless Bastards and a trip to the U.K. by co-frontpeople/singer/guitarists Lisa Walker and Chuck Cleaver (playing as a duo) for several shows in support of the band's first U.K. release, Buckeye, a retrospective that came out to glowing reviews this summer. Read more about Wussy's many goings on here.
Here's the skate video by Kristian Svitak that R. Ring helped re-soundtrack. After DEVO's record label removed the video because it used the group's song "Mr. DNA," Svitak got together to record a new version with Deal and Montgomery. The song in the re-edited video was so popular, R. Ring released it as a limited edition single and local label Phratry Records released it digitally. (Click here to get your own copy.)
• Popular local Gypsy Jazz favorites and Django Reinhardt devotees The Faux Frenchmen celebrate the group's 10th anniversary tonight with a show at downtown's Blue Wisp Jazz Club. A decade ago this fall, the band (which features esteemed local musicians George Cunningham, Brian Lovely, Paul Patterson and Don Aren) made its debut, starting an every-Monday residency at former Clifton restaurant Tink's. Over the years, the band has only gotten more popular, drawing attention from outside of Cincinnati and performing numerous road dates (this fall they return for their sixth appearance at the annual Jazz at Chautauqua Festival in New York).
The band's anniversary show begins at 8:30 p.m. and admission is $10. Here's a clip from the Frenchmen performing on another anniversary — Reinhardt's birthday (taken from one of their annual appearances on WNKU in honor of Django).
• The performers for the weekly "Friday Flow" concerts at Washington Park are always a bit of a surprise because the lineups have been announced within only a week or two of the performances. It's also a surprise because the featured act is usually something pleasantly unexpected. Dayton Funk greats Lakeside ("Fantastic Voyage") popped up one week and Neo Soul star Dwele launched the series this summer.
Tonight's free Friday Flow concert is another cool, unanticipated treat. Just announced earlier this week, the show will feature R&B singer Chrisette Michele, a Hip Hop hook-singer extraordinaire (with Jay-Z, Nas, The Game and others) who has also had a successful career on her own, releasing a handful of acclaimed, charting albums for Def Jam.
The other headliner is Rob Base, a Hip Hop artist most know from his 1988 hit with DJ E-Z Rock, "It Takes Two."
Because of the volleyball tournament in Washington Park tonight, gates for the concert won't open until 7:30 p.m. Another change from the usual Friday Flow flow (also due to volleyball) — no food, drinks or coolers will be permitted (this weekend only). Extra food vendors will be on hand to feed the masses.
Click here for even more live music events going on tonight in Greater Cincy.
The music he made with groups like The Light Wires, The Great Depression and The Brothers and the Sisters helped make singer/songwriter Jeremy Pinnell one of many local music fans' favorite songwriters. Pinnell's folksy songs were marked by his ability to convey — with an almost uncomfortable accuracy — the kind of dark, ominous emotions most people try to bury. His words, his melodies and especially his muttering yet soulful voice had that rare ability to effortlessly do what most writer's strive for their whole career — to make a deep connection with the listener that goes beyond a hummable hook or slick guitar solo and buries itself deep inside their conscience.
Having practically every person who heard his songs immediately captivated wasn't enough to keep those projects together. Pinnell seemed to ride the waves of success each act experienced (on varying levels), then the band would break up before the project's full potential was reached.
After another dry spell, Pinnell returns to the local stage tonight at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine for the live debut of his latest project, Jeremy Pinnell and the 55's. Once again, Pinnell has hooked up with some gifted collaborators to create more soul-stirring songs to shatter what's left of your fragile, blackened heart.
The 55's reteams Pinnell with one of his earliest musical partners, Cameron Cochran (currently with Pop Empire). When they were 18, Cochran and Pinnell were pals playing Country songs together at their buddies' Punk Rock shows. Cochran says "The Voice" was already in place.
"He had that voice that would shut up a room," Cochran writes in a press release. "It didn't matter what the show was. He would open his mouth and everyone listened."
The two went their separate ways eventually, but recently reconnected. Cochran is vague about the circumstances of their last project ending and this one beginning, saying only that it is a tale of "heartbreak, tragedy, love and redemption" worthy of a Country song. Indeed, the 55's sound is somewhere between AltCountry and Indie Folk, with the timelessness of those genres' precursors driving everything. The band is rounded out by drummer Chris Alley and bassist Ben Franks; Cochran adds spectral atmospherics with his pedal steel guitar work and hovering backing vocals.
Some of the 55's material has come out via a handful of wonderful live videos shot by local photography superstar Michael Wilson. Below, check out one of the clips by Wilson, who is also working with Cochran on a series filming at The Emery Theater called "One Shot Music Videos" (referring to how Wilson shoots each in one continuous shot without edits).
Tonight's show at MOTR is free and starts around 9:30 p.m. Visit JP & the 55's on Facebook here.
MPMF news and musings: The official MPMF.12 "Kick Off Celebration" is set for Wednesday, Sept. 26, in the Hanke Building just off Main St. (215 Michael Bany Way, between 12th and Reading). The free, open-to-all (21-and-up) party starts at 6 p.m. and will feature music from DJ Ice Cold Tony (who will be laying down some mash-ups featuring MPMF artists) and great Cincy rockers 500 Miles to Memphis will blow the rest of the roof off with a set starting at 9 p.m. There will be giveaways, free Vitaminwater, free Eli's BBQ (while it lasts) and a chance to win a pair of VIP tickets to the CityBeat-sponsored New Year's Eve blow-out at Bogart's featuring music by The Afghan Whigs.
And now, with the countdown down to just 8 days, here are our daily MidPoint Music Festival 2012 picks …
Tennis (Denver, CO)
It’s been a breakthrough year for Colorado Indie trio Tennis, starting with the winter release of its stellar (and highly anticipated) sophomore full-length, Young and Old, on Fat Possum Records. After touring its comparatively lo-fi, critically-lauded debut Cape Dory (crafted by core duo Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley), the duo took its vintage Pop songs into the studio with The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney, who helped give the songs a more direct punch (resulting in the addition of a drummer to the fold). Where acts like Best Coast and Jesus and Mary Chain rewire the classic Pop of the ’60s, Tennis write songs that often recall the ballads of ’50s Pop, something more evident and effective on Young and Old, which charted well and performed exceptionally at college radio. The band’s songs have been used on TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy and are becoming favorites in the fashion world, and they’ve also made a fan out of the Republican (one of "the good ones") daughter of an almost-President, Meghan McCain, who tweeted her joy that Tennis had become the soundtrack to her summer this earlier this year.
You'll Dig It If You Dig: Lesley Gore, Dusty Springfield, the house band for Mad Men (if they had one). (Mike Breen)
Tennis performs at the Know Theatre on the Bioré Strip's Main Stage Saturday, Sept. 29, at 11:45 p.m. Here's Tennis' clip for their swoony tune "Pigeon."
The Bonesetters (Muncie, IN)
Bonesetters don’t necessarily sound like a lot of bands but they fit well in the Midwestern construct of talented groups crafting a complex sound out of relatively simple ingredients. Sparse guitar melodies, both plugged and unplugged, are appointed with spartan rhythmatism, unexpected instrumental counterpoints (mariachi trumpet, keening violin, gentle vibes, wheezing harmonium) and a quiet sense of Indie Rock urgency on Savages, Bonesetters’ full-length debut from late last year. It’s easy to understand why Muncie loves Bonesetters, it’s harder to understand why they don’t play here all the bloody time.
Dig: Clem Snide, My Morning Jacket and Gomez making high lonesome carnival Surf Rock for emo hodads. (Brian Baker)
The Bonesetters perform Thursday in Washington Park at 5 p.m. Here's the band's debut album, which you can sample below, then download the whole shebang for free.
LOCAL LOCK PICK
The Dukes Are Dead (Cincinnati, OH)
Rock & Roll
If you’re a local Rock fan who has yet to catch a live show from exciting Cincinnati foursome The Dukes Are Dead, you’ve missed out on some great shows … and you only have this one more before The Dukes Are Dead are dead. In just a couple of years — first as “The Dukes,” before adding “Are Dead” to avoid confusion with the 17,000 other bands with the same name — the foursome amassed a loyal following and even got into theater, becoming the house band for the local staging of “Rock musical” Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. Though the band’s last show (sure to be a debauched blow-out) is this one at MPMF, there is hope for fans — in their farewell note on Facebook, it was announced that the members will each continue to pursue making music in the future.
Dig: No-nonsense Rock & Roll, bands with names that turn out to be prophetic. (MB)
The Dukes Are Dead's final show is Saturday, Sept. 28, at 8:30 p.m. at The Drinkery. The kind gentlemen of The Dukes are also giving fans some final recorded music as a parting gift — sample below then click on the player to download your free copy of the five-track EP, Before We Died.
Click here for full MPMF details via the official MidPoint site.
The Cincinnati natives of hugely popular Brooklyn-based Indie Rock band The National have recorded a song for the upcoming soundtrack for the second season of HBO's critically-acclaimed series, Game of Thrones. The soundtrack is due June 19. The National is the only group featured; the rest of the soundtrack album is the instrumental score, written by Ramin Djawadi and recorded by the Czech Film Orchestra and Choir.
According to Spin, the band members took the words from Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin's 2000 novel, A Storm of Swords. Check it out below.
Last Friday at Bogart's, CityBeat and the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards presented a showcase featuring some of the best new local bands of 2012. (Check out some pics from the event here.) This coming week, four brand-new acts (featuring musicians from other established groups) will be playing their first shows ever. Here's a round-up of the new bands (possible nominees for next year's CEAs?) debuting.
• Joey Cook of Indie Pop greats Pomegranates has a new solo project called Danny and His Fantasy. Cook — who also headed up the side project Firs and has done a few solo shows with friends and bandmates — leaked the great track below via YouTube a couple of weeks ago. The piano-laden track "Too Out of Touch" is a great slice of dancey and wonderfully melodic Pop, highlighted by Cook's soulful falsetto, that wouldn't be out of place on an of Montreal record.
Danny and His Fantasy's debut show is this Friday at Mayday in Northside. Cook will be joined at the free show by Phil Cogley, the Indie Pop maestro from Columbus who performs under the name The Saturday Giant. Cogley's been making waves from our state's capitol, recently earning a slot on Columbus Alive's annual list of "Bands to Watch" for 2013. Locals Speaking Suns also perform.
• Also Friday, Pop Goes the Evil plays its first live show. The new crew debuts at MOTR Pub, playing a free show with Indiana rockers Left Lane Cruiser. Pop Goes the Evil is fronted by singer/guitarist Lucas Frazier, formerly of the popular, kick-ass local Rock outfit The Dukes Are Dead. The new group — rounded out by drummer Jordin Goff (also of The Yugos) and bassist Evan Roberts (organist for heavy local band Grey Host) — has issued a couple of great music videos, showcasing a swaggering, energized Pop/Rock sound that's not chasing any trends, opting instead for a more timeless appeal.
Here's the second single from Pop Goes the Evil, "Golden Apple."
Shinedown has been touring on its most recent album, Amaryllis, for the last two years and has just started its Carnival of Madness tour to complete touring on the record. It is the band's biggest, brightest and loudest tour yet. With each album, Shinedown's rocking sound shows bigger energy and different sides, as well as different looks.
CityBeat was able to catch up with bass player Eric
Bass to discuss life on tour and the close bond the band members have,
even after all these years. Shinedown will be tearing up the PNC
Pavilion at Riverbend on Saturday night on its Carnival of Madness tour
stop with Papa Roach, In This Moment and Skillet. (The concert is sold out.)
CityBeat: You guys have really been successful with the last couple albums. You have been on the Billboard charts for over two consecutive years. Did you ever expect that would happen?
Eric Bass: Did I ever expect it? I always hoped it would happen, I guess. You work really hard. We have this thing we say: "Keep your head down, stay humble and move forward." We are blown away by the success. To be honest with you, if you had told the 17-year-old me this was what was going to be happening, he’d be ecstatic. I can’t say that I expected it to happen. We wanted it to happen. We worked really hard for it. We are not surprised, I guess you could say, because of the hard work. It is a true blessing to be able to do what we do and have the success we have had.
CB: The band has been touring constantly. How do you make time to write new songs on the road?
EB: We actually don’t write on the road. We like to separate the two. We go home when we are done with this tour. We will lock ourselves away for a year and write as many songs as we can. Then, when we are done with that, we will go out and tour again and complete the process. We wrote “Diamond Eyes” on tour because it was for a movie soundtrack. That was the first experience we had with that. It worked out and everything went well with it. We work really hard when we are on tour. We are a go-go-go all day long band with interviews, meet and greets and that sort of thing. So there is really not a lot of time to get in and be creative like that. We prefer to separate the two and that creates the situation where each record is pretty different from the others because they are different times and you are not overlapping time periods. You are separating into blocks. It makes the records really interesting.
CB: I have photographed you on your last couple tours. Your shows have grown larger and larger with more pyro and turned into huge Rock shows. How did you guys prepare for Carnival of Madness?
EB: Well we started talking about it two or three months ago and we said, “It’s not going to be small.” That was the whole thing. We were going to make it as big as we could possibly make it. We are bringing our whole sound system with us. We are bringing our own lights. We are bringing our own pyro. We basically have carnival performers that are out with us. It is just a conscious, concerted effort to, every time, step your game up. We have sort of become known for that when we do these big headlining runs. We don’t want to disappoint anybody. People paid good money and want to see a great Rock show and that’s what they are going to get.
CB: You actually have carnival performers on stage with you?
EB: We actually do, yes. It’s going to be fun. I think everybody is going to really enjoy the show.
CB: The first show was this past weekend. How is it going so far?
EB: We are one down. We have the second one tonight. The first one was great. Internally, we found a couple things we could do differently, do a little bit better. We are definitely going to do that. The first show was great. The crowd was very receptive. It was awesome. I think tonight is going to be even better. Then the Cincinnati show, by that time, we will be well-oiled machines and veterans.
CB: Shinedown has a huge social media presence. Why is it important for you guys to stay connected to your fans in that way?
EB: Because the fans are the reason we get to do what we do. We never forget that. The fans are the boss, the most important thing. The fans buy the tickets, they buy the records. I have to say, and it’s going to sound cliché but it’s not meant to be, we have the best fans. Our fans are ridiculously loyal. We like to keep up with them. We actually know … you would be surprised how many fans we know. I’ll see fans at meet and greets that I will know from Twitter. We keep up with them and we know what’s going on. We like to hear what they have to say. They are going to let us know if something is not right. They will let us know if they don’t like something, if they like something. It’s a great tool to utilize as well. You get instant feedback on what you are doing.
CB: What are your hobbies outside of playing music all the time?
EB: It’s kind of funny. I say all my hobbies become my jobs. I produce records. I do a lot of songwriting. I engineer, mix records. A lot of my hobbies have become my job.
I am a golfer. I enjoy golf a lot. More recently, I have started building model airplanes. I needed a quiet hobby I can sit in my house and do. It is something I have found solace in. It may be a little geeky, a little nerdy, but it is fun.
CB: You actually co-wrote “I’ll Follow You” correct?
CB: I love that song. I know it is the new single and it is out, but what is the story behind the song?
EB: The story of the song is pretty interesting. The piano part I had for a couple years. I had been playing it in sound checks. We don’t write on the road, but if it’s something someone in the band hears, “Hey remember that. Record that.” We are pretty in tune with that sort of stuff.
We were out on our acoustic tour that we did on the end of our last record cycle with Will Hoge, a great singer-songwriter from Nashville. Nobody had really said anything about the piano thing I had, so I thought maybe it will be good for Will.
So I hit him up and said, 'On the next day off, I want to show you this piano piece I have got and we can write a song.' He gave me his number and said to give him a call. I gave him a call the day of, I called him like three times, never went to voicemail, never picked up.
The next day, I was like, “I called you three times.” He said, “It never came through. I don’t know what happened.” That day at soundcheck, Brent was like, “What’s that thing you are playing?” I was like, “Man, I have been playing it for three years.” He finally woke up to it. We actually had the recording that day at sound check kind of going through the song. Some of the lyrics are actually in there from that first time we ever played it through, he and I.
If you fast forward six months when we finally wrote it, finally sat down and wrote the song, it happened seamlessly. We wrote it in like two hours, the whole thing was done. Lyrically, it is about the person in your life who is your best friend, your spouse or your girlfriend, your boyfriend or someone really close to you, that person you will always be there for and they will always be there for you.
CB: The band took a different turn on the latest album, playing with the full orchestra. How did that concept come about?
EB: We talked about how Madness had a lot of string-sections stuff. We just talked while we were writing the record about how to make this record a little bigger and a little more grand. That was the first thing that came up, we need to do something with horns and full orchestra, rather than just string sections.
It was fun. It was a blast to be in there to watch that stuff be recorded, watching your vision come to life was amazing. There is very little that we do that is not a conscious decision. We kind of see what we want to do next. We were talking about our next record the other day on the bus. We will probably start working on that next year. We already kind of got an idea for it of what we want it to be. It is pretty phenomenal to have this type and level of instruments on something you have worked on. You pinch yourself every once in a while because it’s so cool.
CB: You guys have been together for some time. Are you all still friends? Do you still hang out?
EB: It’s pretty funny, we love each other so much. We all still ride the same bus even though we don’t have to. We, all four of us, camp out in the same place. We work out together every day. We eat together every day. We really are brothers. We have our moments of getting agitated with each other and angry with each other. There is something different that I don’t see in a lot of bands we travel with. There are some, but they are few and far between. You get a group of people that genuinely like each other and genuinely get along.
I can count on one hand the times I have been up in someone’s face in my band, that I have been that angry with someone. We just don’t get like that. We talk things out. If there is a problem, we sit down and we are very honest with each other. We don’t harbor any animosity toward each other for anything.
“I’ll Follow You” is out right now and is a song Brent and I wrote. Everybody in the band is happy as hell about that because it is doing well. “Bully” is a song Brent and Zach wrote, and I was happy as hell that was doing well. A lot of people get caught up in the unimportant stuff, like who makes more money or what’s going on with this or who’s more popular in the band. We don’t care about that stuff. It’s about the band, the entire group. We all really care about each other. We hang out when we aren’t on tour. It is really a blessing.
CB: It is amazing you guys spend so much time together and it is still like that. There aren’t many people I could spend 24 hours a day with?
EB: We see each other more than we see our wives and girlfriends and our families. We are married. We have to get along. There is no way around it. You can tell on stage. We smile at each other on stage. We joke around. We throw picks at each other. It’s genuine. It’s not an act. You can tell bands on stage that don’t like each other, and you can definitely tell bands on stage that do, and we are one of those bands that really like each other.
The air seems sweeter here in the front of the website, the sun a little brighter and the deadlines a little more immediate, but as Uncle Ben once reminded Peter Parker, with great power comes great responsibility. So here we are in relatively short order with a batch of new reviews and a few more older titles in my continuing quest to revisit the deserving releases from the not-so-waning months of 2011. We’re getting there, slowly but surely. Read them while they’re hot; there’s more where they came from.
On this day in 2002, rapper for the Pop group TLC, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes died in a traffic accident in the Honduras. The star was allegedly trying to pass a truck, but another vehicle was coming the opposite way when she made her move. To avoid it, Lopes swerved off the road. The Mitsubishi Montero Sport Lopes was driving flipped, hit a couple of trees and threw all four passengers out of the vehicle. Lopes died from head and neck injuries; the other passengers survived.
Left Eye was just a month away from her 31st birthday.
Lopes' casket was engraved with lyrics from the TLC hit "Waterfalls" ("Dreams are hopeless aspirations, in hopes of coming true, believe in yourself, the rest is up to me and you"). Lopes gave an interview to MTV News about her first solo album, 2001's Supernova, in which she described her song/poem "A New Star Is Born," which was dedicated to her late father. In the interview, she said, "That track is dedicated to all those that have loved ones that have passed away. It's saying that there is no such thing as death. We can call it transforming for a lack of better words, but as scientists would say, 'Every atom that was once a star is now in you.' It's in your body. So in the song I pretty much go along with that idea. I don't care what happens or what people think about death, it doesn't matter. We all share the same space."
There are a lot of Left Eye remembrances going on in cyberspace today since its the tenth anniversary of her death. Check out word on a new track — and some remembrances from her former TLC pals — featuring Lopes and Bootleg of the Dayton Family here.
Here's a video tribute to Lopes put together by a fan and set to "A New Star," followed by an earlier different kind of tribute to TLC by Cincinnati's own Afghan Whigs (who just announced their first non-festival reunion date in the U.S., scheduled for October in New York City).
Born This Day: Musical movers and shakers sharing an April 25 birthday include: Jazz/R&B saxophonist Earl Bostic (1913); legendary Jazz vocalist Ella Fitzgerald (1917); influential Blues guitarist Albert King (1923); wildly successful songwriter and producer (with writing partner Mike Stoller) Jerry Leiber (1933); bassist for Classic Rock band CCR, Stu Cook (1945); singer for Prog band Marillion, Derek William Dick, much better known as Fish (1958); singer for Synth Pop legends Erasure, Andy Bell (1964); original Jane's Addiction bassist Eric Avery (1965); and the "Father of Hillbilly Jazz," fiddler Vassar Clements (1928).
Clements' improv approach to Bluegrass was a revelation. Putting a Jazz twist on Roots music makes him a spiritual godfather of the whole "Newgrass" movement.
Clements grew up in Florida and taught himself to play violin at the age of 7. When he was 21, he joined Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys, recording with them in the early ’50s. Word of Clements' prowess and innovative style traveled and he became an in-demand session player. In 1971, Clements joined John Hartford for the groundbreaking Aereo-plain album, widely considered one of the first "Newgrass" records. Hartford and Clements were joined by Norman Blake, Randy Scruggs and Tut Taylor for the album, which was produced by David Bromberg.
During his 50-year career, Clements would go on to become a crucial part of the progressive Bluegrass movement of the ’70s, including appearances on a couple of other trailblazers — the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's Will the Circle Be Unbroken and Old and in the Way, featuring Jerry Garcia, David Grisam, Peter Rowan and John Kahn. By the time he passed in 2005 at the age of 77 (from lung cancer), Clements had played with everyone from Paul McCartney, The Monkees and The Grateful Dead to Stephane Grappeli and Woody Herman.
Here's Clements performing with the Del McCoury Band in 2003.
Today is the 15th anniversary of the murder of celebrated rapper Christopher Wallace, aka the Notorious B.I.G. (aka Biggie Smalls, aka Big Poppa, etc., etc.). Since his death, Wallace's status has risen considerably and he's widely considered one of the best MCs to ever hold a mic, for both his smooth, laid-back flow and lyrical prowess.
Caught in the middle of the East Coast/West Coast feuding of the time, Wallace (a NYC native) was killed while in California promoting his soon to be released sophomore album, eerily titled (in hindsight, as was his debut's title, Ready to Die) Life After Death. On March 9, Smalls attended the Soul Train awards show in L.A., where he presented Toni Braxton with one of two awards she would win that night (and was booed by the West-leaning coastal feuders in the audience). Wallace left an afterparty at 12:30 a.m. later that night and, about 50 yards from the party entrance, a black Chevy Impala reportedly pulled up next to the vehicle the MC was in and someone in the Impala shot Wallace four times in the chest. He was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead March 9 at 1:15 a.m.
Despite various theories, confessions and extensive investigations, the case, like that of West Coast star rapper Tupac Shakur (killed about six months prior in similar fashion), remains unsolved.
Life After Death came out 15 days after Wallace's murder. It went to No. 1 on Billboard's album chart instantly. Two more posthumous B.I.G. records were cobbled together — 1999's Born Again, featuring tracks culled from unfinished ones on which Wallace had been working, and the similar Duets: The Final Chapter from 2005, which was widely criticized due to the posthumous pairings with artists many felt Wallace would never have worked with in his lifetime. The album's guests included Eminem, Twista, The Game, Nas, Nelly, Scarface, Missy Elliott, R. Kelly, Bob Marley (?!), Korn (?!?!) and West Coast MCs Snoop Dogg and 2Pac. Amazingly, unlike the posthumously prolific 2Pac, the album really was "The Final Chapter"; the only other Biggie releases to come out after that were a 2007 greatest hits collection and the 2009 soundtrack to the film Notorious, based on Wallace's life and death.
Time magazine's website posted a music video playlist tribute today here. And below is "Living In Pain" from the Duets release, which featured Big and Pac, plus still-alive performers Nas and singer Mary J. Blige:
Click on for Born This Day, featuring Bow Wow, John Cale and Ornette Coleman.