Monthly Archives: August 2013

Pandora Battle: East Coast Hip Hop vs. West Coast Hip Hop

coastcattle

This weekend’s runs were mixed in location, speed and overall feel, even though both Friday afternoon’s and Sunday morning’s runs were both four miles.

Friday afternoon found me in the gym back on the treadmill with a 7:30 minute per mile pace for the first three miles. The last miles I revved up the pace to 10 miles per hour, or 6 minutes per mile. At that speed on a treadmill, each step carries a stronger force, and therefore louder crash, than a step at a slower pace. At 10 mph, my steps echoed through the entire cardio section at the gym, garnering awkward looks from Max Fitness elite. I take it not many people go 6 minute per mile pace on treadmills.

Saturday was a day off from running as Katie and I went down to the French Quarter for the Red Dress Run. It’s not an actual run, but a bar hop with everyone in red dresses. I wore the finest red skirt Baton Rouge’s thrift stores had and Katie wore a red Target dress, which turned out to be the most popular choice of the procrastinating guys out there.

I don't know why it looks like Katie is trying to pinch my nip

I don’t know why it looks like Katie is trying to pinch my nip

Sunday’s run was outside, but still feeling the effects of Saturday’s events, it wasn’t easy to get through. At Mile 1 I was fine, at Mile 2 I felt the hand grenade, at Mile 3 the Vieux Carre at Hotel Monteleone made its presence felt, and at Mile 4 whatever whiskey and rye drink I was handed later at Hotel Monteleone voiced its dissatisfaction of the run.

Luckily, at least the music was good. I combined Friday and Sunday’s run music into another Pandora battle, similar to last week’s ‘90s Alternative against Today’s Alternative. Except this week, it’s a battle that’s raged for more than two decades and has claimed the lives of two big-name rapper in Tupac and Notorious BIG. Yes, that’s right, it’s East Coast hip-hop vs. West Coast hip-hop.

DMX — “Ruff Ryders Anthem” vs. Dr. Dre — “Keep Their Heads Ringin”

1

The first showdown is a good one. You don’t get many bigger West Coast rappers than Dr. Dre, and against any other East Coaster, he would win going away. But this is DMX, and while Dr. Dre’s “Keep Their Heads Ringin” was huge in 1995, “Ruff Ryders Anthem” was huge when I was entering high school in 1998.

With all due respect to the movie “Friday” and its soundtrack, you got knocked the fuck out, man! Point East Coast.

East Coast: 1
West Coast: 0

Method Man — “All I Need” vs. Tupac — “Ambitionz Az A Ridah”

2

What makes me qualified to decide this rap battle? Absolutely nothing. I am the last person who should decide if West Coast rap beats East Coast or vice versa. I do own multiple Tupac, Dr. Dre and Ice Cube CDs, along with the aforementioned “Friday” soundtrack, and I have a few Kanye West, Jay-Z, Notorious BIG and 50 Cent CDs. So I don’t feel I’m biased in this battle.

This round, though, is all Tupac. There isn’t much that’s going to beat Tupac in an East Coast/West Coast battle, minus a drive-by shooting (sorry, I had to). I won’t deny it, he’s a straight ridah, you don’t wanna fuck with him. Point easily goes West Coast.

East Coast: 1
West Coast: 1

Styles — “Good Times” vs. Snoop Dogg — “Gin And Juice”

3

The West Coast starts off the battle by bringing out its big guns. Dre, Tupac and now Snoop Dogg. And these aren’t even current Dre and Snoop Dogg songs, which can easily be beaten by lesser East Coast rappers. Instead, these are their biggest works next to “Nuthin’ But A G Thang,” which I have because I think I stole my brother’s Chronic album like 20 years ago.

Meanwhile, East Coast returns with Method Man (OK) and Styles (Who?). This one could get ugly soon. Point West Coast.

East Coast: 1
West Coast: 2

50 Cent — “21 Questions” vs. Tupac — “Can’t C Me”

4

East Coast rap is refined. You can tell they went into a studio and worked it over and over again until is was perfect. The beats match with the lyrics and everything is in harmony.

West Coast rap is raw. The beats are matched up, but there is a lot less harmony in the music. That missing perfection, though, is replaced with genuine emotion.

It all comes down to which type of music you prefer. Like I said, I have both of these artists’ CDs and I listen to their music often, but for a run, “21 Questions” is probably the worst 50 Cent song to play. Like I said, ugly fast.

East Coast: 1
West Coast: 3

The Game — “How We Do” vs. Dr. Dre — “Fuck You”

5

Again, where are the big-name rappers, East Coast? Where’s Notorius and Nas? Where’s  De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest? Or go further back to Sugarhill Gang and Run DMC? I know I said Dr. Dre and Tupac are hard to beat, but “Rapper’s Delight” or “My Adidas” can do it.

Instead, the station gives me The Game and “How We Do” vs. Dr. Dre. Point West Coast. Game. Set. Match.

East Coast: 1
West Coast: 4

Jay-Z — “Girls Girls Girls” vs. Warren G — “Regulate”

6

The match is over, but we’ll recap the final two songs briefly. I love Jay-Z and the Black Album, but “Girls Girls Girls” isn’t that.

Craig Mack — “Flava In Ya Ear” vs. Ice Cube — “You Know How We Do It”

7

Again, big name West Coaster. Ugly.

If only Briantology was around in the mid-’90s, then Notorious and Tupac would still be around and maybe the hip hop scene would have peace. West Coast dominates this rap battle, but don’t for one second believe it’s the best hip hop out there. Pandora doesn’t have a Southern Rap station, but if it did, Lil Wayne, Juvenile, T.I. Ludacris and the countless other hip hop artists to come from God’s heartland would destroy any coast. Make ‘em say, Uh!

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Pandora Gets All Ballady

LOVE

After a Wednesday off, I returned to running on Thursday with a 5 miler outside. Yes, that’s right, outside. The temperature stayed down to just the low 90s as opposed to the upper 90s it’s been this week, so I figured I would take advantage of it by getting out of the gym for a quick run.

In previous months, there would always be the same five or six people running down Kenilworth Avenue at around 5 p.m. I don’t know their names, what they do, how far they’re running or anything about them, but we always give each other the classic, casual head nod as we pass. Thursday, I noticed I was all alone out there.

I always thought I was being somewhat of a little bitch by heading indoors during the late July/August heat, but, if Thursday’s run is any indication, that is what many people in south Louisiana do. So it’s good to see that I’m not being a puss by hitting the treadmill.

Thursday’s Pandora music station, though, might change that. I wasn’t in the mood for anything loud or fast. Sunday’s run showed me I could have gone with Today’s Alternative Rock again, but instead I opted for Classic Rock Love Songs, aka ballads! Fire up the lighters, everyone.

Bryan Adams – “Heaven”

What can you say about the singer who gave us “Run To You,” “I Do It For You” and “I Finally Found Someone”? When it comes to awesomely bad love songs, he is the master. Plus he owns the baseball stadium anthem with “Summer of ’69.” There’s no better way to start a ballad playlist than with Bryan Adams and “Heaven.”

He is also one of the few Bryans out there who I can forgive for spelling his name incorrectly. I loathe the name with a “Y” instead of the classic and timeless “I” version, but I give him a pass.

If this is how the playlist starts, it isn’t too hard to see we’re in heaven.

Eagles – “Hotel California”

Then I get this song, which I can’t stand. Also, love song?

Journey – “Faithfully”

Now, THIS is more like it. I said the playlist couldn’t start any better than with Bryan Adams, but Journey comes in and proves me wrong.

Everyone knows about, and karaokes to, “Don’t Stop Believing” but Journey’s “Open Arms” and “Faithfully” are arguably two of the greatest cheesy ‘80s love ballads. “Hotel California” was a miss in the playlist, and there will be many others to come, but this is an ideal song to include.

Less than four more miles to go. Four more miles of a steaming hot road. A road that ain’t no place to start a family.

Aerosmith – “Dream On”

As with “Hotel California” and now this, there will be a few questionable choices in the Classic Rock “Love Songs” playlist.

REO Speedwagon – “Keep on Loving You”

3 Doors Down – “Here Without You”

There will also be some questionable genre selections in the “Classic Rock” “Love Songs” playlist.

The playlist was going so well up to this point, and that isn’t to say “Here Without You” is a bad song. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not good, but at least it is a love song as opposed to a couple other ones on here. Still, considering the classic rock theme that was prevalent until this point, this song seems way too out of place not to notice it.

Rather than transitioning from smooth ballad to smooth ballad, this playlist is everywhere. I’ve seen some inconsistencies before (Beach Boys in the British playlist) but these jumps aren’t just oversights. Either Pandora is confused with classic rock or love songs or it’s trolling me. Either way, the station isn’t winning.

Pat Benatar – “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”

At least it’s a classic rock song…

The Outfield – “Your Love”

Edwin McCain – “I’ll Be”

Holy crap, this might be the best way to end a playlist and/or run ever.

I have an embarrassingly strong love of this song, and I don’t care. It is close to impossible for me to listen to this song and not shout out the chorus. Right now, I’m at work finishing this post with the song playing and I’m having the hardest time not screaming out “I’LLLLLLLL BE YOUR CRYING SHOULDER.”

Katie right now, I’m sure, is shaking her head reading this right now because she has had to endure multiple Brian renditions of this song when it’s on the radio. I would apologize, but I’m not sorry.

It is the greatest fan of my life.

This playlist was everywhere. Classic Rock Love Songs had some non-classic rock and non-love songs, but it had all of my heart.

LIGHTER

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Pandora Plays Sleigh Bells

sleigh

After a slow start to the month, I have found my stride (rimshot) and finally got some miles in the past couple of days. A 6 mile run on Monday was followed up with a 5 mile run on Tuesday.

The fact that these runs took place on a treadmill did not help matters. If you’ve read this blog for some time this summer, you’re well educated on the ridiculous heat in Baton Rouge this summer, making outside runs, even in the morning hours, a sweaty pain in the ass.

The good news, though, is August is about 25 percent done, and after August, the heat should subside. So for the next three weeks I’ll likely stay at the gym, sweat over three treadmills, get dirty looks from the socializing gym-goers and watch E! or Fox News on the TVs.

But at least I’ll have Pandora to keep me occupied during those runs.

Tuesday’s station was Sleigh Bells, a duo described as “American noise pop” on Wikipedia.

 

Sleigh Bells – “Comeback Kid”

Why Sleigh Bells? Doesn’t this selection feel a bit random and out of the blue?

Absolutely. But I heard the band’s song “Rill Rill” on Monday and thought it would make a decent station to listen to because I have no idea what other bands or songs would fit with Sleigh Bells.

“Comeback Kid” was released in 2012 and was a constant on Sirius/XM’s AltNation station, so I know it well. I am by far no expert on Sleigh Bells. I wouldn’t even consider myself a fan, maybe just someone with a casual affinity to their sound. “Comeback Kid” has a similar sound to Sleigh Bells’ other hits, so it’s nothing too impressive.

Song Energy: 7/10
Run Motivation: 5/10
Overall: B-

 

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Maps

 

The Bird and the Bee – Polite Dance Song

Easily my favorite song of the playlist, even if it isn’t a good running song. Check it out.

 

The Naked and Famous – Young Blood

Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

 

Sleigh Bells – “Tell Em”

“Tell Em” is probably the best gym song you’ll get from the Sleigh Bells Pandora station. The hard beat and loud crashes throughout will drown out the grunts from even the broeyist of bros.

Like I said, I don’t know much about Sleigh Bells, but I am familiar with this song as it was played constantly a couple of years ago. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, it’s just that something new would be nice.

Song Energy: 8/10
Run Motivation: 7/10
Overall: A

 

Silversun Pickups – “Lazy Eye”

This will always be my favorite Silversun Pickups/Carson Daly moment.

 

Tegan and Sara – “Walking with a Ghost”

I hadn’t heard anything from Tegan and Sara up to this point except “Closer.” This song is better by far.

 

Sleigh Bells – “A/B Machines”

A Sleigh Bells song I hadn’t before heard. Pandora was listening to me!

 

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Kiss Kiss”

I’m not really sure what to make of this station. I expected bands like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to be there, but The Bird and the Bee, Tegan and Sara and Naked and Famous not so much.

 

The Xx – “Intro”

I could have done without this.

 

Late Of the Pier – “Random Firl”

Last song of the run, and it’s a song I hadn’t heard much before. After The Xx, I can appreciate this song a lot more. Even if it isn’t a great running song, it still beats the crap out of the previous selection.

This playlist was an interesting one to say the least. There were a few really good songs, some decent ones and one pretty terrible song. But at least it ended with a song I like.

Song Energy: 6/10
Run Motivation: 6/10
Overall: B-

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Alternative Rock Battle: 90s vs. Today

altern

It’s been a long few days at work, so I apologize for not updating the blog. Right now I’m sitting in the DMV because these clowns didn’t file the right paperwork when I was in a few months ago so I have to do it again. I’m No. D317 and we’re up to D309. This could take awhile and I’m using this time to update my progress with the Pandora challenge.

I also didn’t update the blog last week because there wasn’t really much to update. I ran on Monday, took Tuesday off and planned to run the rest of the week. But a work emergency had me working a 12-hour day on Wednesday, 10 hours on Thursday and left me dead tired on Friday.

I did manage to run Saturday and Sunday, a 4 mile run followed by a 5 miler. Since I had a rough week and just wanted something familiar, I chose 90s Alternative for Saturday and Today’s Alternative for Sunday and compared the two. Which decade has the better alt rock? Let’s find out.

Nirvana — “Come As You Are” vs. Foster the People — “Pumped Up Kicks”

These were the first two songs played on the runs, and it brings up an interesting debate. On the 90s side, we have one of the biggest rock bands in the decade despite the fact that it stopped producing music early in the 90s. Today’s Alternative counters with a band that isn’t a big name necessarily but has one of the biggest hits in the past three years.

I know there are a lot of Nirvana fans out there, and I’m one of them WE’RE UP TO D310 but I have to give this one to Foster the People. “Come As You Are” by far isn’t Nirvana’s biggest hit. It’s probably No. 3 or 4 on the Nevermind album. “Pumped Up Kicks” is the biggest song Foster the People have and probably will ever have. For that alone, point goes to Today’s Alternative.

90s Alternative: 0
Today’s Alternative: 1

WE’RE UP TO D311!

Stone Temple Pilots — “Interstate Love Song” vs. The Lumineers — “Ho Hey”

This is an easy decision here. Stone Temple Pilots wins this one going away.

“Hey Ho” is a fine song for a movie trailer, but it’s unbearable to hear on the radio or in this case on a run. WE’RE UP TO D312. WE’RE ROLLING NOW. It’s slow and whiny, which I’ll come to find out is the MO for Today’s Alternative music.

No one can argue with Stone Temple Pilot’s impact on rock and its energetic D314! sound. “Interstate Love Song” isn’t their hardest song, but it’s one of their most popular, and for good reason.

Point goes to 90s Alternative.

90s Alternative: 1
Today’s Alternative: 1

D315! HOLY CRAP WE’RE CLOSE!

Red Hot Chili Peppers — “Under the Bridge” vs. Red Hot Chili Peppers — “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie”

Holy crap I hate the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I mean, I absolutely cannot stand to hear any song by that band. They’re total crap in my opinion, and there’s only one song by them that I can tolerate, and that’s “Under the Bridge.”

The reason I can tolerate this song is because in high school when we’d travel to away track meets, we’d break out in an acapella rendition of “Under the Bridge.” It wasn’t good, but it passed the time and ticked off our coach.

Any other RHCP song that isn’t “Under the Bridge,” including “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie,” automatically loses.

Point 90s Alternative

90s Alternative: 2
Today’s Alternative: 1

Tonic — “If You Could Only See” vs. Linkin Park— “Burn It To The Ground”

This is an interesting matchup. Linkin Park’s high energy, up-tempo song against Tonic’s slower, but with more ranges song. Each one is a strong song on its own and each one makes a decent running song, so it’s hard to compare the two.

Like every tough decision I make in life, I make a sports analogy and use past results to figure out a winner. “Burn It To The Ground” is a faster, stronger song with punishing, bruising notes. Similar to an SEC football team (You may already know where I’m going with this). “If You Could Only See” has substance and some star parts that will do damage when in the right set, but the depth isn’t there. Similar to a Pac-12 football team.

So SEC football vs. Pac-12 football. I believe we all remember what happened in 2011 when LSU faced Oregon. The Ducks put up a good fight, but they couldn’t sustain the LSU depth and punch. LSU won, and so, too, does Linkin Park.

Point to Today’s Alternative.

90s Alternative: 2
Today’s Alternative: 2

D316! WHY IS IT SLOWING DOWN?

Nirvana — “Heart-Shaped Box” vs. Mumford & Sons — “I Will Wait”

Like I said before, I’m a Nirvana fan. Not a huge one like many people I know, but I did have a Kurt Cobain poster in my freshman dorm room (Mostly because my roommate said I needed a poster of something to get rid of the dirty wall color).

“Heart-Shaped Box” is also my favorite Nirvana song of all time. Many die-hard fans despise this song because it’s essentially a love song to Courtney Love, but I think it’s great.

Mumford & Sons is dying for me. Very quickly, too. I liked the band when they first became popular around 2009, but there’s only so much “Little Lion Man” you can hear before you agree that they really fucked it up this time. D317! YES! BRB! Add that every song Mumford & Sons has sounds the same, and we’re going on four years of hearing basically the same song.

Point 90s Alternative

90s Alternative: 3
Today’s Alternative: 2

WE’RE DONE AT THE DMV! THAT WASN’T BAD ACTUALLY!

Smashing Pumpkins — “1979” vs. Capital Cities — “Safe and Sound”

It’s an elimination game for Today’s Alternative in this best-of-seven series, so this is a big matchup. Unfortunately for them, 90s Alternative comes out with its best performance up to date.

You can beat The Smashing Pumpkins, but you can’t beat “1979.” It’s by far the best song on the Melancholy and Infinite Sadness double album, and that’s including “Bullet with Butterfly Wings.” This album had a big impact on me growing up. I dreamed about getting older so I could ride in the back seat of my friends car because of this song.

“Safe and Sound” is a good song, but there’s no question which song wins here. Despite “1979” being slow for a running song, it still dominates.

Point 90s Alternative

90s Alternative: 4
Today’s Alternative: 2

Third Eye Blind — “Semi-Charmed Life” vs. Imagine Dragons — “Radioactive”

The match is over, but we still have one more song to go, so let’s do it anyway. Although, again, it’s not pretty for Today’s Alternative.

Nothing, and I mean absolutely, nothing can beat “Semi-Charmed Life.” The song first appeared on the 90s Hits station in my first Pandora challenge post, and I was happy to see it return for the 90s Alternative.

“Radioactive” is good, but holy crap it’s overplayed. Everyone needs to stop playing it on the radio and for the love of God stop making sports montage with this song in the background.

Point 90s Alternative

90s Alternative: 5
Today’s Alternative: 2

90s Alternative dominates the faceoff. I liked Today’s Alternative, but it’s sound doesn’t compare to the 90s Alternative sound. Today’s sound is slower, whinier, more depressing compared to the 90s (and the 90s had two songs sung by a guy who blew his head off!).

Am I getting old and thinking they just don’t make good music like they used to? Perhaps. But I will still love the 90s.

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