The Humble Preoccupations of Just Jack

Jack Allsopp found solace in hip hop and house music during the days of his youth in North London. Now as an artist with the modest pseudonym Just Jack, his rhythmic vocals lay down catchy melodies over pop-funk dance beats that’ll satiate your electro-inclined taste buds. Jack’s rap delivery is also distinctly British sounding, similar to Mike Skinner from The Streets, especially on such tracks as “Glory Days,” where his calm reflection rides comfortably over a Stevie-worthy beat.

Even with such mainstream success as grabbing number two on the UK Singles Chart for “Starz In Their Eyes” and collaborating with Kylie Minogue on “I Talk Too Much,” Jack’s groove-inducing jams don’t lack on the side of lyrical substance. The weight of Just Jack’s newest album, Overtones, wasn’t lost on Benjamin Squires at Music Spectrum either. In fact, Ben’s found that “there’s a way to outline a whole adult Bible study based on each track of Overtones.” It’s a rare gem to find so much room for reflection with such danceable music.

Get Behind Me, Hunger!

Various Artists
Serve3: Artists Against Hunger & Poverty / Hard Rock International & The Orchard / BUY

‘Tis certainly the season for political discourse. Yet regardless of party affiliation or political creed, there is one belief for which we can all reach across the aisle: no one should have to go hungry. This ideology has fueled the anti-hunger organization World Hunger Year (WHY) since its founding in 1975 by revered singer/songwriter Harry Chapin and New York radio personality Bill Ayres. Along the way, WHY has garnered fervent support from musicians both legend and nascent, from Grammy winners to underground heroes, including rockers, rappers, crooners and everything in between.

Hard Rock International, living up to its decades-old motto of “Love All, Serve All” has partnered with WHY for the third annual installment of the Serve benefit series, appropriately titled Serve3. My Morning Jacket, Joss Stone, the Boss, Starsailor, Avril Lavigne and many more lend their voices and songs to this star-studded compilation featuring rare, remixed, or previously unreleased material. The notable rarity exception: John Lennon’s masterpiece “Give Peace A Chance” is included courtesy of Yoko Ono, who succinctly sums up WHY’s mission: “Let’s all work together to make a world without hunger as soon as humanly possible.” Now there’s a sentiment we can all vote for!

MP3: Toby Lightman – Color

Music To Vote By

As the political campaigns on both sides of the fence beat their drums louder, election day draws nearer and we find the time to make a decision upon us. It has already been a historical campaign thus far – with a female up for Vice President on one side, and an African American leading the Presidential polls on the other. Tensions are high as people strengthen their opinions and passions boil to a fervor. It is in such a heated political climate that great music has been produced in the past, and the 2008 election is no different. We’ve put together some of our favorite tracks to soundtrack this year’s election day.

Mr. Lif – I Heard It Today
First in a series of political singles recorded in anticipation of the 2008 presidential election by acclaimed Boston/Philly MC. Mr. Lif reaches out to build awareness on current political issues and agendas for not only Americans, but for the entire global community. Since he is releasing a new single every few weeks as part of this ambitious project, he is able to react to and comment on immediate topics.

Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – This Land Is Your Land
The funk revivalist and soul sensation that captured our hearts with such tracks as “100 days, 100 nights” and “What Have You Done For Me Lately?” brings us another timeless favorite with her rendition of the Woody Guthrie classic. Ms. Jones plays “high-fiber soul that recalls the best of the JBs and The Meters. Nary a gutbucket beat, horn blast, or chicken-scratched and honeycombed guitar riff are wasted.” [Pitchfork]

Bono and the Soweto Gospel Choir – One
U2’s world famous Bono pairs up with this internationally acclaimed 26-member vocal ensemble. The Soweto Gospel Choir earned an American Gospel Music Award for “Best Choir” and a Gospel Music Award for “Best International Choir.” The choir’s debut Voices From Heaven went to number one on Billboard’s World Music chart, while their second and third albums Blessed and African Spirit won them the Grammys for “Best Traditional World Music Album” two years in a row.

Sunnyland Slim – Be Careful How You Vote
This remastered reissue from Sunnyland’s own Airway label features blazing guitar solos behind his deep vocals and rolling piano. Mr. Slim uses his famous Chicago blues style to both inspire and motivate us. Even though this song was written long ago, the core message is timeless and still rings true today.

Ra Ra Riot On Mania TV

Syracuse indie pop troupe Ra Ra Riot recently played a show to tons of eager LA fans at Sunset Blvd’s The Echo. Mania TV’s At The Show was lucky enough to snag some footage of the band in action. You can take a look at all four episode’s at Mania TV’s website where you’ll find performances of “Each Year”, “A Manner To Act”, “Can You Tell”, and “Dying Is Fine”. And, of course, after their stellar performance, At the Show host Brendon got a chance to hang out with the band for a little chit chat and tomfoolery. The result? He took two Ra Ra representatives to a swealtering video store to peruse movies about Michael Moore stalkers, shy people, and sky pirates. Yes, sky pirates…

Mr. Lif Gets Political on I Heard it Today

In September indie rapper Mr. Lif announced that he would be recording and releasing his newest solo album track-by-track, using current events such as the presidential election and economic crises as his inspiration, and releasing a new track every three weeks starting September 23rd and winding up just as the nation swears in our next Commander in Chief.

So far Lif’s unleashed two new singles – “I Heard it Today” and “The Sun” – and two free tracks – entitled “Presidential Report, Vol. 1” and “Vol. 2”. His third single, “Welcome to the World,” is scheduled to hit digital stores on Election Day, November 4th. And the full album, also entitled I Heard it Today, will hit stores on Inauguration Day, January 20th, 2009. Lif’s also been broadcasting the process from his own I Heard it Today News Network throughout all of this, giving fans a direct look into the recording process. The Daily Rind caught up with him to talk about the project.

Why did now seem like a good time for I Heard it Today ? Did you conceive of this album due to the current political climate, or is this something you’d been thinking about for a while?

The album came about because I feel that this incredibly unique and important era in human history should be documented. Of course there’s lots of press about the housing crisis, energy crisis, and many of the other adversities we face. I’m just doing this in my own way.

You have an online show called I Heard it Today News Network. What news outlets do you tend to follow? Have there been any that you’ve been especially following during this election?

I’ve been keep my ear to as many news circuits as I can, so I know what’s being pumped into the collective consciousness of the people. The “I Heard It Today News Network” is usually just a means for me to update my fans on the development on the album and other things that are going on with me. If I choose to address politics on there, I’ll cover some issues from time to time.

You’ve been going out of your way to be in direct contact with your fans throughout the recording process. Why do you feel it’s important to be so connected to your fans through your I Heard it Today News Network, your MySpace page, etc?

I appreciate my fans. Keeping in touch with them fuels my efforts even more. People share their stories of
hardship as well as their triumphs. They voice their opinions and we discuss things whether we agree or disagree. My fans have largely shaped the “I Heard It Today” album, and I’m hoping the work I’ve done will make them even more proud to support me.

What’s the most interesting/important thing you’ve heard today?

I’ve heard mixes of my record. It’s due in 2 days, so all my time is dedicated to fine tuning.

MP3 : Mr. Lif – Presidential Report, Vol. 1

MP3 : Mr. Lif – Presidential Report, Vol. 2

Watch : Mr. Lif – I Heard it Today News Network