20 Watts

ISSUE 21 | Reviews: Usher’s Raymond v. Raymond by 20watts

20 Watts reviews Usher's Raymond v. Raymond and gives it a 13/20 watts.

Part of Issue 21 coverage!

PREVIEW: VISIT Usher’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 13/20 Watts

Like Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks, Tom Petty’s Echo and Bruce Spring­steen’s Tunnel of Love, Usher’s Raymond v. Raymond is an album inspired by divorce. And just like those albums, Raymond v. Raymond does not offer one cohesive perspective on the complex situ­ation.  Instead, as the album title implies, Raymond v. Raymond presents two differ­ent sides of the R&B artist – the heartbro­ken-yet-resigned ex-husband, “ready to sign them papers” and the sweet-talking flirt, mackin‘ it on the rebound.

Jay-Z recently made a far-reaching prediction that Usher could be the next Michael Jackson.  Except Jackson would never have sung the words, “When you step up in my Porsche Carrera, better not touch anything.”  Yes, for three minutes and twenty seconds, Usher unfortunately sings about how “amazing,” “courageous,” “fantastic” and “awesome” (in that order) he is in the song “Radar.” Here, we are bombarded with the second Raymond – the cheesy creeper in the club, spinning one-liners out of his leather pants pocket. There’s no evidence of Jackson-esque pop music revolutionism to speak of on Ray­mond v. Raymond. Continue reading

Comments Off on ISSUE 21 | Reviews: Usher’s Raymond v. Raymond

Mix Fix: “Two Weeks of Hip-Hop” by The Hood Internet by tjwell01
March 9, 2010, 1:26 pm
Filed under: The Mix Fix | Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Hood Internet is the fastest-growing DJ sensation

PREVIEW THE DJ: The Hood Internet’s MySpace

LISTEN: “Two Weeks of Hip-Hop” (Dead Prez v. Grizzly Bear) by The Hood Internet

This isn’t so much about the song, but about the DJ–The Hood Internet. These guys are all over the place, and they back up the hype with fun and clever mash-ups like this one that mixes Grizzly Bear with Dead Prez. Who else is so stoked that someone made a gangster remix of “Two Weeks”?! [Raises his hand]. Top that with mixes like Jay-Z and M83–these guys challenge the range of great music. They’re a must-hear now act at this year’s SXSW as well. They have great taste and people are spreading the word, and maybe you should do the same.

–Jett Wells

Comments Off on Mix Fix: “Two Weeks of Hip-Hop” by The Hood Internet

Mix Fix: “I Can Go Thug” by Rusko Vs. Ludacris (Twerkshop Remix) by tjwell01
February 23, 2010, 2:22 pm
Filed under: The Mix Fix | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Twerkshop is my favorite DJ group right now.

PREVIEW THE DJ: Twerkshop’s MySpace and Facebook Page

LISTEN: “I Can Go Thug” by Rusko Vs. Ludacris (Twerkshop Remix)

It’s official, Twerkshop is my flavor of the week, and maybe next week. All I needed to hear was this remix of Rusko Vs. Ludacris‘ “I Can Go Thug.” The style is highly industrial but with so much more finesse than computer beeps and bops. I want to say these Orlando, FL guys sound like Big Mouth five years down the road. Once I stepped into the Twerkshop world, I found their masterful collection of mixes featuring Britney Spears, Amanda Blank and Jay-Z. Good DJs have mixing talent and flex original content, but it takes a great DJ to mix great content and still make it wholesome and original. These guys have that greatness in them. Like what you hear? Download their greatest tracks from their Box.net account here. Focus on the Pon De Floor Mix and the Jay-Z Vs. Glitch mix as well.

–Jett Wells

Words of the Week: An interview with Aaron LaCrate by tjwell01

Aaron LaCrate, a big-time DJ/hip-hop mogul, is an SU Alum.

Each Monday, 20 Watts is poised to feature a new exclusive artist interview! Here we present our WORDS OF THE WEEK!

PREVIEW: Aaron LaCrate’s MySpace and his website.


From the age of 10, Aaron LaCrate has been a prolific music talent from the streets of Baltimore and went onto launching his record label and clothing line, while also collaborating with Jay-Z, Lily Allen, The Cool Kids, Gorillaz and Mark Ronson–oh, and I did mention he went to Syracuse University? He’s been a secret famous alum until now, and the stories of his DJ days at SU are eerily familiar and fascinating. After rising to the top of the underground DJ/hip-hop scene, the fellow orange wanted to reach out to share his story.

20 Watts: Talk a little bit about being a young DJ in Baltimore when you were a kid…

Aaron LaCrate: It was great. It was nothing like it is now. There were no DJs back then, there were these electronic stores that sold records, stereo equipment and car stereos, so for me I had to assemble a mobile sound system. I had to go to the Goodwills and the flea markets, whichever way, I had the two different turn tables. It was really exciting back then because it was uncharted territory. There was no way to learn how to mix, no way to learn how to do anything, but to go on your own journey and find people that would like you enough to share that information with you. It was almost a very subculture thing. It was a testament to your personality and your character to how far you would get, in a lot of ways.

Continue reading

Comments Off on Words of the Week: An interview with Aaron LaCrate

20 Watts Reviews Dan Black’s Un by Marc Sollinger
February 16, 2010, 10:25 am
Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: , , , , , ,

Dan Black creates enjoyable, poppy fun on Un

PREVIEW: VISIT Dan Black’s MySpace
: 14/20

Dan Black makes pop music.  With that in mind, Un is an album of pure, sugary, exuberant, pop music.  Yet it is intelligent at the same time. Un is pop you don’t have to feel guilty listening to.  And it just so happens that it’s really, really good.  No, Un is not a perfect album. It’s not even a great album. But it is one of 2010’s most fun and enjoyable recordings thus far.

The music on Un is fairly simple.  Black re-imagines contemporary hip-hop and R&B, and gives them an epic, electronic sheen. In essence it sounds as if The Postal Service listened to a lot of Jay-Z, with a little bit of jj thrown in.  There’s also a funk/dance-floor influence, especially on songs like “Yours” and “Pump My Pumps”.  But although Black does wear his influences on his sleeve, Un’s sweeping electronic arrangements, and his wonderful, perfectly pitched voice make it a breath of fresh air. Continue reading

Comments Off on 20 Watts Reviews Dan Black’s Un

Words of the Week: An Interview with Semi Precious Weapons by tjwell01

Semi Precious Weapons' Justin Tranter says they are "a filthy rock band."

Each Monday, 20 Watts is poised to feature a new, exclusive artist interview! Here we present our WORDS OF THE WEEK!
PREVIEW: Semi Precious Weapons’ MySpace

Led by filthy rock n’ roll purist Justin Tranter, Semi Precious Weapons, are the gritty opener act touring with Lady Gaga on her Monster Ball Tour, but don’t be fooled–these guys are quite the showmen themselves. They keep it simple: they want to party, and they want you to have fun, and they do it in high heels. They started out like your average rock band, but the road they took to get to where they are now is anything but average. Keep a look out for their debut LP You Love You at the end of March.

20 Watts: Describe your band’s overall attitude and style.

Justin Trantor: The overall attitude is to make balls-to-the-wall rock n’ roll that kicks ass, and is really fun. We want people to have fun, to party, we want people to get laid. I think that’s what the whole point of rock n’ roll should be, and another important part is danger, excitement, and kids’ parents should be mad at them for listening to us–all of those good things. Obviously we also get the glam label thrown at us, and I think that’s just because I wear high heels, but there’s definitely a lot of worse things to be called than glam.

20W: Some people say you’re like the glam version of The Sex Pistols. Ever heard that before?

JT: I think my favorite quote was that we’re like The Sex Pistols if they came out of the Warhol scene. I think that’s our favorite description of our band ever.

Continue reading

MIX FIX: Jay-Z Vs. Jimi Hendrix (TimG Mash) by tjwell01
February 2, 2010, 1:28 pm
Filed under: The Mix Fix | Tags: , , , , , , ,

The King of New York clashes with Hendrix to make one insane mashup


LISTEN: “Voodoo Problems” by Jay-Z Vs. Jimi Hendrix (TimG Mash)

Jay-Z is mashed up with everyone these days, whether its the Beatles, Oasis, Radiohead, but until now, none really mixed that well, and now Jimi Hendrix sounds like Jay-Z’s missing counterpart all of these years. With Hendrix’s savage solos mixed in with Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” classic, the result is a devastating success. TimG, the mash-up artist really strung this together well, and now I respect single-artist mash-up DJs now. Just because “Voodoo Child” crashes in the beginning, this song rocks hard from the beginning and you can’t let go till the music stops.

–Jett Wells