The Serpico Mixes: The Unreleased Disc

In a joint collaboration with my weekday roommate and Bronx ally Skip Serpico, I’ll be discussing a mix CD a week. He makes them, I listen to them and provide my in the moment commentary. You, hopefully, read said commentary and maybe open up your musical horizons. You can come here every week for the Serpico Mixes. And you should also visit Skip’s site, Fission Spaghetti, for his musings on food and Saturday Night Live (and more!)

 Orange is the color of not being released.

Orange is the color of not being released.

Mix #38

Theme: Unreleased

 Being an unreleased track is the Top Secret government docs of the music world. (image from blog.riverfronttimes.com)

Being an unreleased track is the Top Secret government docs of the music world. (image from blog.riverfronttimes.com)

Universal Pictures Theme- Ooo, something good’s about to happen.

Pull It by DMX ft. Cam’ron – The music and production is excellent on this one with the exception of I’d like the vocals to be a bit more front and center during the verses. But that’s nothing new for me, we know.

I will always love a good DMX growl/scream. Even if your track is an acoustic love song, you’d do well to include that element.

Case in point, I’m a lot more charitable to this song than I think I would be if not for the production and the scream. It is a bit ugly in the earphones, truth be told.

Goodtimes Pt 2 by Ghostface Killah- There’s a lot happening in this song but it sadly does not add up to much. Ghostface sounds for most of it like he’s shouting not to get drowned by his production.

When She’s Mine by Pete Yorn- Pete Yorn does Beck, I guess. It’s not bad but I can understand why he wouldn’t release it.

Hova Song by Jay-Z- I will say this from the outset. Jay-Z gets me. He understands how I consume music. Buy the CD, open it, read the liner notes. Music consumption as God intended.

I don’t know about that window thing though. In the winter? It gets cold here in the Northeast.

Mr. Carter sounds a little…tired here, I suppose is the best way to put it. Actually, uninvolved might be better. The lyrics are good, but the vocals seem listless.

Well Well Well by The Lox- This, on the other hand, is a seriously lazy beat.

Normal by Foo Fighters- Dave Grohl’s voice seems less insistent here than typical, which is a credit to the song. It’s a bit generic, but listenable.

The Macs and Dons by The Notorious B.I.G.- A solid offering from B.I.G. Very much of the era.

My Way by Kanye West- Very Graduation era West. So, you know, great.

Brand New Game by Elliott Smith- Even unreleased Smith is good. Very good.

Feel Like Me by Clipse ft. Pharrell Williams- No need to say this song features Williams, the structure and music give it away. I like that Williams sound, for the most part, so I’m good with that. What I’m not quite clear on is why Williams is doing the hook as an homage to Geggy Tah’s “Whoever You Are”.

That’s Sexy by Q-Tip ft. Andre 3000- This is nice. Fun. Lots of fun. I think it might be a little shallow, but I don’t much care.

This Solemn Day by Iron & Wine- I believe this is an early unreleased track from Iron & Wine which makes its self-assured presentation all the more impressive.

Déjà vu by Nas- Sometimes one aspect of a song can completely take you out of it. Here it’s the foreground loaded “Déjà vu”. I quite like the rest of the song but that phrase in the chorus is so ugly that I don’t see me revisiting it all that often.

Letter by Wale ft. John Mayer- I have a weakness for John Mayer’s “Room for Squares.” I somehow heard him before that album was released wide and, I don’t know, it is like imprinting. So I know we all think he’s kind of a terrible guy, but I can’t hate that album and that’s where this song pulls it’s sample from.

I respect the earnestness of Wale’s offering here. Mentioning to the President he should forgo cigarettes? There’s something tremendously appealing about that. My favorite Wale track so far, I think.

Just One of the Guys by Jenny Lewis- Nice big slide guitar sound here. I enjoy the theme of the song, about that drive to be one of the cool girls (one of the guys, in the parlance) and also wanting to be, you know, someone who might get a date now and again. The straightforward contemplation of belonging and how sometimes the comfortable can keep us from what we want.

Next Time by Common- I’m sorry but Common is not an artist who can pull of the phrase “a bright ass.” He’s working hard here though which I appreciate. Too bad he forgot to tell his music or the lyrical sample. They seem to be interested in backing up a different song.

Hardware by Black Thought- Another track that’s a victim of things not quite fitting together. I like the individual elements but as a complete product they just don’t work.

Red Red Red Red Wine by Ryan Adams- Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Adams brief Springsteen/Mellencamp phase. No surprise, he’s really very good at it.

A Dog and A Fox by Foxy Brown-DMX sounds a lot more classically DMX here than above, oddly enough. Aggressive without much purpose, but it does get the blood flowing. I think Foxy Brown may hate me though. That’s what this song is about, right?

Ghetto Love by J Dilla ft. Truth Hurts- Fine. Sort of ends before it gets anywhere though.

Losing Horns from The Price is Right- What a sad sound to end on.