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Tuesday Lite Post: A Bloggers Identity Crisis

by Travis on May 8, 2007

I walked into work Monday afternoon after another weekend of not being around the Internet at all, logged on and went straight to my email. One of the first emails I read is from a fellow blogger with a link to a site that, in my interpretation, sheds WYDU in kind of a negative light. I click the said link and head to the “blog” (actually wordpress, but what’s the difference), on the blog, the author, “G”, posts up a recent letter that was written by Def Jux’s lawyer to and The letter demanads that remove all links to their music and videos that appear on Blogger, essentially meaning, all bloggers that have links to Def Jux’s music are in the line of fire. This is the first instance that I’ve heard of a record company taking on Blogger. I can’t say this surprises me at all, what does surprise me is that it’s taken this long for something like this to happen. I’m shocked that blogs and bloggers haven’t been targeted before this with the amount of new “album blogs” that have jumped up on the scene and it was just a matter of time before something like this would happen.

So far, I have yet to see or hear of any fallout over this letter, but I’m sure we will see something in the near future (anyone know anything about WordPress?). Where does my site come in all of this? In his introduction, the author mentions a Def Jux blog site, which I’m unfamiliar with, and then mentions that he is surprised that sites like wakeyourdaughterup and hhbootleggers are allowed to continue posting up albums like they are. I took the context of the article in negative manner and as kind of a jab at something that I take great pride in and basically questioning my ethics as well, which is something I do all the time myself anyway, but I don’t need someone else doing it for me. As I’ve said in the past, I don’t have the desire or time to participate or instigate some kind of “e-beef” war of words (although those can be very entertaining). I’m beyond petty little squabbles and I’m not naïve enough to believe this blogging thing is really important enough to get my panties in a wad over. I wasn’t necessarily angry, but I felt compelled to get my two cents in, as I usually do, and respond, to what I perceived as unjust criticism to something that I have honestly put my heart and soul into. Here is my “retort” to his including my site in the “Axis of Evil”:
Travis Says

I guess this is where I’m supposed start swearing at you for including my blog in this write up when you clearly are not that familiar with what I do and my stance on the music and the culture. I won’t do that and just chalk it up to lack of facts on your part.
First off, if you have visited my site (instead of maybe causually looking at it), 98% of the albums I post up are of the out of print variety, albums you either have to pay a fortune for on ebay, or you are going to buy used at a store, which the artist doesn’t see a dime of anyway. There is not ONE new album on that site, meaning released in the past few years. I refuse to do that. I consider what I do as keeping music that othewise that might have been forgotten about alive and keep the legacy of such artists as Groove B Chill, No Face, The Colored Section and others fresh in peoples minds so their music doesn’t get lost in obscurity.
Second off, I write about each particular album to educate those who might have slept on that particular artist or album. I think of myself as being very different than those blogs that don’t write a thing and just toss up 10 new albums a day. If you read my blog, I think you can see the passion and love I have for the music and the culture.
I believe I’m doing more good than harm and the feedback I’m getting from BOTH artists AND labels has been all positive. In fact, this is the first negative response I’ve ever gotten to my blog. This is an email I recieved from Yaggfu Front, which is the kind of music I share on my blog (but you’d know that if you actually READ my blog):
The guys and I really see that blogging is akin to a new type of public radio…and bloggers are our own personal PR deejays. Back in the day I had the chance to dj at NCSU, and used the oppurtunity to put people up on tunes I thought people should give a listen to…amazing some 10 years later and you guys are doing the same thing with the same! And from your home most times…empowering listeners!” – Yaggfu Front
I have recieved positive feedback from artists such as YZ and others while labels such as JuJu Records (one of the small indy labels you write about) who is the home for J-Ro of the Alkaholiks, have given me praise and material to share with my readers. Again, the fact I have over a 1000 readers a day and not one negative email from an artist or label as an indication what my agenda is and they undestand it. It is also an idication that I do not post up stuff from Def Jux or any other label with in print material still readily sold in stores nor will I in the near future.
In the future, I suggest you do your homework and know what you are speaking on before you start naming names in articles such as this. I’d be more than happy to discuss in greater detail, you know where to reach me.
Regards, Travis
May 7th, 2007 at 3:07 pm

I get my two cents in and all is good, so I think, and go through the rest of my workday without really giving much thought to the matter. Before I get ready to leave work, I decide to check if he allowed my comment to be seen and replied to it. Not only has he replied to it but he does so in my own preferred method of dry wit and dripping sarcasm, and even better so than I can….bastard!

G Says
I guess this is where I’m supposed to defend my journalistic integrity and point of view. But since you’re clearly not familiar with what I do and my stance on copyright and the culture I won’t do that. I’ll just chalk it up to a lack of disclosure on my part.
First off, if you would have read my post (instead of maybe casually looking at it) and if (cough) I would have written more clearly (cough), you’d notice that 98% of the words have nothing to do with the intent of your site. What I was trying to comment on is the fact that what unsanctioned mp3 sites do is illegal in nature. Altruistic, hip-hop-hero feelings aside, someone owns the copyright to the music you give away. And you’re right about the fact it’s not the artist most of the time (although times are changing).
Secondly, the only reason I included your site, since there are many mp3 sites to choose from, was because I like your site, I
frequent your site and as you share with us, you have a passion for this music and culture. So much is clearly evident in your past writing and frequency of posts.
To me, your site is a great example of the contradictory nature of mp3 blogs and unlicensed distribution of music in general. It’s a topic I dedicate a lot of my toilet-time to. Too dense to get into here but lets just say I firmly believe some artists see the benefit of the mp3 site scene, big labels are warming up to it and lawyers still hate it because they have to try to figure out the schematics to retain profit-control.
For what it’s worth, I very much appreciate your feedback and your point of view. I didn’t mean to sound negative about your site and I take full blame for not being clear in what I wrote. You’re correct in differentiating yourself from the other two sites I mention. I should have been more careful when looping you in. Keep doing what you’re doing. But at the same time, don’t be naïve and think what you’re doing would be seen as “more good than harm” by everyone and anyone. Don’t forget, this is a business for thousands of people.
Lastly, thanks for writing and for the advice on doing my homework. I honestly wish I could “research” my posts prior to writing but if I attempted that I would post even more infrequently than I do now. If you want to discuss further get at me: people @ grandgood (dot) com. I’d write more but I have to go walk my dog.

…bloggin’ for no apparent reason since ’04
May 7th, 2007 at 8:36 pm

Okay, I can deal with that and he has some valid points as well. He was right about a few things. I wasn’t really familiar with his blog (busted), and I didn’t really know what his stance was on the issues (guilty as charged). I did read the whole post, a few times actually, but my main beef was with my blog being singled out as what I percieved as all that’s wrong with blogging and offering full albums to the readers. During my usual “45 minute to get eight miles” drive home, I started thinking about a few points he brought up in his article and also in his response to my initial rant. One being the original intention of his post consisting of the validity and moral and ethical responsibility of bloggers in general, mainly us “album bloggers”. The other issue I was mulling over was my own sort of “blogger identity crisis” of sorts. Both issues got me thinking, and what do I do when I think? I resort to making the rest of you read my disillusioned blabbing.

As an “album blogger”, I do have somewhat of a guilty conscience in what I’m doing. Offering, what in essence is illegal copyrighted material, has always been kind of a two-sided issue with me. It has been discussed to near nausea in the past on message boards, blogs and in the media. With the popularity of the “album blogs” quadrupling in the past six months, it’s definitely an issue we are going to have to face, since usually all good things come to and end.

If you’ve been following this blog on any consistent basis, or if you have just read through some of the archives, you will know that I started this blog originally as a “single track blog” in the same view as Cocaine Blunts, Steady Bootleggin, Soul Sides ect. Of course we weren’t getting more than 50 visitors a day, but that might be due more to the fact that I didn’t really promote the blog either. It wasn’t until we started offering full albums that we started getting a steady stream of supporters and visitors to the site. I honestly wrestled with the idea of switching to an “album blog” or just calling it quits all together. I went with the later. Do I have regrets about my my decision to offer full albums? No, I don’t, for reasons I mentioned in my rebuttal to our new “nemesis”. I make a conscience effort to try exclude any album that is still technically in print. This leaves the obscure albums that internet wax nerds sell on ebay for hundreds of dollars, such as the Fondle ‘Em issued version of MF Doom’s debut effort, Operation: Doomsday (I’ll sell mine for a mere $75). In all respect, I have a hearty dislike for those kids trying to get rich on ebay more so than I do any blogger, but that’s not the point.

My stance on downloading has always been treading that thin line between right and wrong. On one side I’ve spent literally thousands of dollars on music over my some 25+ years of buying music and 20 years of hip-hop purchases. I’ve been burned at least half the time by buying some album that has one or two good songs and the rest is outright junk. Some fault lies with the artists themselves and some fault lies with the labels trying to lump all of us in one category and offering us all the same garbage over and over. This has been happening WAY before blogs, message boards, or file sharing programs were ever introduced to the masses. Does this make what we are doing right? Probably not, but I refuse to ever buy another album before hearing it again. I know, there are snippets and the such I can listen to, but part of owning an enjoyable album is being able to hear it all the way through multiple times. Does it sound like I’m making excuses for my actions? I probably am, but I don’t necessarily feel all that guilty about it. Make quality music and the majority of us will buy it. It’s an age old argument, but I believe it holds a lot of merit in the grand scheme of things.

Sites like Hip Hop Bootleggers have also been responsible for me discovering groups and artists I otherwise might not ever checked out. So far this year, acts such as Drunken Immortals, Storm Davis and dislfex.6 are all albums I’ve enjoyed from downloading there that I would have NEVER checked out otherwise. Even Def Jux’s head artist, El-P has the internet to thank for my $15.99 being in his pocket. I would have NEVER EVER bought his new solo album, not in a million years. But I downloaded the promo version, and even after the first listen, I wasn’t all that impressed, so even if I would have listened to snippets, I probably still wouldn’t have given another listen or thought to his album. After hearing countless “evil” bloggers give him props for his album, I gave it some more listens and low and behold, I finally started liking it and like I do with all albums I like, I went and bought it. Amazing how that works.

Back to my own moral issues. I do still believe I’m doing more good than harm. I’m not going to kid myself or anyone else though and think I’m the hip hop blogging version of Robin Hood, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor,
but my goal has always been to keep the music alive that otherwise might be forgotten. Would anyone besides us thirtysomethings really give two squirts of piss about Son Of Bazerk if I hadn’t declared my love for his music multiple times on this blog? Maybe, maybe not, it’s hard to say, but the majority of people under thirty might not be influenced to go check for his music if it wasn’t for my blog or other blogs like mine. They might not have ever heard of him and what a shame that would be. Who really loses there? Instead, his music and legacy is being kept alive by some snot nosed, law breaking , self righteous blogger. In some sort of unconscious way, I think I justify my guilty feelings of sharing copyrighted music by doing the write ups and limiting the amount of music I do share and definitely my unwillingness to share in print material is directly influenced by those guilty feelings. I’m not sure there is a clear answer. The “man” will more often than not, look down on us “Robin Hoods” and we in turn will blame them for offering us up subpar material that we won’t spend our hard earned beer money on. It’s all going to come to a head sooner or later…..stay tuned.

I realize I am looked at as an “album blogger”, meaning my claim to fame is offering up albums for the public’s consumption. I’m not sure I’m completely comfortable with that label, hence an impending “blogger identity crisis” on the horizon. It’s always been my intentions to offer more than just albums in terms of education, my own opinions and views of the artists and albums I cover, but if I didn’t do something like that, would people still give a rat’s ass about what I wrote? I’ve asked that question many times the past few months as I struggle with the direction I want to take this blog. It was when I asked myself that question a few times that I realized I was also lying to myself about something else. I’ve always said I never gave a rat’s ass about what people think of the blog and that I would do this if only 10 people read this blog. The previous statement might be true, but I realized I do care what people think. I do enjoy the recognition I get from being “Travis from WYDU”. Sure, it’s a small thing and in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t mean shit, but I enjoy the props I receive from other more “professional bloggers” such as Jeff Weiss and Oliver Wang. I enjoy being able to go on message boards such as or and people are talking about your blog or they comment on how good your blog is when you make an “appreance”. Nothing like a little online (psudeo) celebrity to pump up ones ego.

Over the last few months, I’ve been trying to steer the blog in a different direction, although somewhat unsuccessfully. I’m kind of like that crack junky that can’t kick the habit or someone who is afraid to go in a different direction because he is comfortable with doing what he’s doing. It’s my desire to be more of a writer and have a site that people check out for other reasons than a blogger who’s claim to fame is sharing albums. In the same sense though, I still hold on to the “little guy” spirit that us “album bloggers” entail. It’s kind of like do I want to separate myself from what I’m known for and do opposite what my “fans” expect of me or do I want to stay true to my “roots”. I have great respect for the “pro’s” such as Jeff Weiss and Oliver Wang, but I also think “album bloggers” such as Dart Adams, Jaz and Dan Love all have the same goals and mentality as I do. Maybe what I’m trying to say is getting lost in translation, it is getting late and maybe I’m making a bigger deal out of this than is really needed. I guess I’m trying to figure out what I want out of this blog. I do this because I love hip hop and the culture. I can’t rhyme, I can’t produce and I can’t DJ, so I write about, because I’m better at that than the other stuff, barely. A leopard uncomfortable in his own spots….that’s me.

(My Guard Cat, as she protects a box of CD’s)
Well, that was fun, nothing like a little online therapy to get shit off your chest. Time to jump into some music. Another Sunday Lite post a couple days late as usual lately. This time though, I’m not going to concentrate on hip hop, but I’ll venture into something that I’m beginning to find I have love for. We are going to venture into a territory that is well covered by sites like Soul Sides, And It Don’t Stop and Ear Fuzz, the soul/jazz/funk sites that do a great job of educating newbies like myself of legendary artists. Personally, I have to credit Scholar and Souled On on really giving me that push into exploring different kinds of music that these sites covered. The past six months or so, I’ve really dove head first into exploring some of the classics from these genres. It started as just a curiousity where some of the samples came from in some of the Hip Hop classics such as that crazy horn sample in “TROY” (Tom Scott – Today, but I’m sure 90% of you knew that already), but just the beauty of some of the music from the past is…..breath taking in a way. Plus, even though I can’t produce worth a shit, I always listen to things that I would want to sample (the first seven seconds of Etta James “My Dearest Thing”).

Here are a few tracks that I’ve discovered that I really like. I’m not going to pretend that I know much about these artists or songs, I’ll leave that to the professionals, but hopefully some of those out there that are curious about some of this stuff will hear something new and will want to explore a bit more deeply.

Gene Harris & The Three Sounds – Put On The Train (Blue Note, 1971)

Gene Harris actually goes way back for me. My mother, being a trumpet player herself and being heavy into Jazz used to play Gene Harris a lot while I was growing up. It also helped that Mr. Harris relocated to my hometown of Boise, Idaho in the 80′s and did a lot of shows there. He still has the Gene Harris Jazz Festival at Boise State University that is an anual event.

I actually saw Gene Harris live during the 1994 Boise River Festival. My girlfriend at the time didn’t agree much when it came to music, but we could agree on most Jazz music, so her and I spent the warm summer day in a park on a blanket listening to Gene Harris play his piano and go to town. After the concert, I tried to sell her on A Tribe Called Quests “Low End Theory” which was going good until “Infamous Date Rape”came on and it was all over for ever converting her to a Quest fan.

Beastie Boy fans might recognize this as a sample from “What Comes Around” that appread on “Paul’s Boutique”.

Readers of Souled On will already be familiar this track, but I love it so much, that I figured people need to hear if they haven’t already. It’s no secret that I love a good beer or 10, so since I’ve first heard it, it’s been my “last call” song a few times over the past few months. Great music to chill out to before you head off to spinny land.

More of my sample source curiousity coming into play. To me, this is one of the hardest breaks ever. This track has been sampled by everybody from Black Moon, to The Chemical Brothers, to Tha Alkaholiks. Good stuff.

The main sample used on my favorite “Donuts” track, “Time: Donut Of The Heart”. Being the 70′s baby that I am, I always liked the Jackson 5 and anything Michael made from “Thriller” and earlier. The Jackson 5 was another group my mom would play often and while I’m not sure if I remember hearing this track, it did have some bit of familarity to it.

Alright, this probably has more hip hop roots than anything. I’m not sure what I’d called in terms of musical genre’s, but it’s a essential piece of the culture’s history that one has to least hear. I remember seeing this on “Yo! MTV Raps” thinking “what the fuck is this shit”, but I can appreciate it now.

Another artist my mom weened me on, I’ve always had an apprecition for good Ragtime/blue grass, which is what I guess you’d call this. Sure, it’s not your typical wine drinking Jazz or trying to get laid Soul music, but I always liked it.

Yeah, son Mario was probably more famous (then again), but from what I’ve heard from Melvin, he was pretty damn funky. This track was sampled by Main Source on my favorite track from “Breaking Atoms”, “Snake Eyes”.

I first heard Etta James on a winter mix by DJ Eleven (not that you should know him), she had the first track on his mix entitled “Stormy Weather” and I loved it. Being the lazy SOB I am sometimes, I didn’t really check for her music though. About two weeks ago, I was getting ready to go to bed, finishing up some writing and the TV station was still on the same station I had just watched “South Park” on. My least favorite show of all-time is probably “The World According To Jim”, it’s just a stupid show, which most sitcoms were in it’s day. In this particular episode, they were playing this song, “At Last”, and I knew I had heard the ladies voice before and was betting that it was Etta James that I heard on the mixtape. I was right, I found some more of her music and I love it, great for Sunday afternoon hangovers.

I guess I can’t be a psuedo music critic without name dropping Amy Winehouse in every few posts, so I’ll try to do it more often. Despite looking like a cheap used hooker, I don’t have a problem with Miss Winehouse’s music. I’m getting the feeling some of the uber cool Jazz and Soul geeks are upset with her and I can see where she does sound like an Etta James or something, but I’m not upset with her.

This track came from her first album “Frank”. I first heard of her music on “The Lawn”, the Justus Leagues forums around Decemeber and checked this album out first. It’s not as good as her new one out now, but if you liked it, you should check out “Frank”.

This is my favorite song on “Frank”. If you have spent anytime in a club or a bar, this song should hit pretty close to home. The song is about those chicks you see in the club every night, night after night, trying to get on some high priced dude, but usually ends up going home with anyone she can. The first bar/club job I had was when I was 23, I was a doorman/bartender for the most popular joint in Boise at the time and I saw a couple chicks that fell into this category. Especially when I was a doorman, it was my job to watch people and I’d watch these skanks work the room, but most of the guys already knew/had her, so they’d blow her off. It was the same thing four or five nights a week.

I think that’s all I’m going to cover for now….haha
That is all…..

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