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Saturday, July 23, 2011

SpinTunes #3 Round 3 Review: Kevin Nalty

YouTube has been a pretty important tool for spreading the awareness of SpinTunes & I've contacted many of our competitors in the past via YouTube. Kevin Nalty is a legend on YouTube, and knows more about viral marketing than I could ever hope to. Since I've been a fan for a long time, I thought it would be cool to get him to review a round of SpinTunes.

Mall Pranks
Here's one of my favorite videos that he has made.
It’s an honor to judge SpinTunes #3 round-3 rap challenge. I can distinctly recall the day I first met a rap fan in 1986. He was a classmate, and after he played me a few Beastie Boys tunes at his house, he agreed to drive me home. But on route he told me he was going to steal a computer by smashing a store window with a brick. I politely asked to be dropped off at a corner before his crime, and he later told me his theft was a fail… the window display was a prop.

Rap has come a long way since the late 1980s, and is now threaded into the fabric of nearly every musical genre. This collection is difficult to rank, however, because you’ll find yourself see-sawing between assessing the rap song and the artist. In many cases the musicians are gifted but in the wrong genre. In other cases we’ve got a nice rap composition that’s tarnished with an element that doesn’t mix. I like spinach and ice cream, but not together.

To offset my temporal disadvantage (old age) I recruited three teenage girls to help… my daughter and her cousins. I trust the artists will take no offense since we’re a motley crew with various tastes. We listened, debated, and listened again. Some songs shot up the list after a few plays, and others began to grate on us. The lesson is that you can’t underestimate rap artists. A song can crumble with just one odd loop, misplaced singer, or flare that doesn’t match the hip-hop sound. The mix of speech, prose, poetry and song is easier to criticize than master.

Ross Durand - Camp Romance
This was at first just a “guilty pleasure,” but it began to grow on us. The infections chorus chants Kumbaya, which was an African American spiritual song from the 1930s and campfire favorite. It doesn’t technically belong in the rap category but it made us all smile and got the most replays of our judging session. The mix reminds us of Jason Derulo’s “Don’t Wanna Go Home,” which borrows from Harry Belafante’s “Banana Boat.”

Matt And Donna - Anatomy Dance
It’s Beach Boys meets High School Musical in this kids favorite. Was it a pure rap? Nope. But we like the chorus and the melody and it’s got one of the most professional mixes of the pack.

Wait What - Six Years Seventeen Days
He’s lost his girl, Jennifer, and he’s trying to get over this six-year relationship. Even his Netflix cue reminds him of her. Before we get too sympathetic, the singer also has some Fatal Attraction going on: “If you had a rabbit I might make stew,” he warns. This singer is cool and quirky, even though we all agreed he needed a Red Bull. The song has an interesting depth, though, and my opinion seemed to change each time I listened to it.

Pat And Gweebol - Tickitock (Top Tad)
This is a solid rap with some of the best lyrics of the bunch. It’s a bit amateur, but with some better sound engineering you could envision this song leading this round. Is he rapping? I’m not sure, but he’s got great potential if he can get his voice to come less from his throat and more from his diaphragm. The female accompaniment is nice, and the duo has something I’m sure many will like.

Charlie McCarron - Trail In The Snow
We all liked Charlie’s voice even though it’s clearly designed to accompany an acoustic guitar. The song had a “movie trailer” vibe with a very cool choir. It may be a bit too subdued (maybe nasal) for most rap enthusiasts, but it’s definitely getting “Trail in the Snow” an honorable mention.

The Offhand Band - Not Cool
This song made us giggle, and I am not sure that was intended by the creators. It has some nice elements, but it appears to be trying too hard. Still, I have to admit that I’d more likely replay this song than some of the ones that took higher honors. There’s something “earworm” about the chorus, “not cool.”

Jon Eric - The Dance
We really liked this tune – especially the introduction. I’d like to see Jon performing at a piano bar, however. Can he rap? Maybe, and the song has a nice composition. It’s just that he and his female backup singer have definitive chorus voices and theatrical flare, and that just seems to clash with the percussion.

Edric Haleen - Sarah
Edric is professional Broadway material, and “Sarah” was initially my first pick. But like “The Dance,” it’s just out of category here. Edric slips into rap after two minutes, and his song has cool elements. If it didn’t clash with the soul of rap it’d be my favorite.

The Boffo Yux Dudes - It’s All About The Benjamins
I suspect there are some drunk college kids that would berate me for not selecting this as a winner. It’s funny, quirky and the rhyme is good. And while the rapping is actually among the best, the ominous chorus just freaked me out. Sorry.

Steve Durand - A Place For Love
Durand’s song has a “Big Band” and jazz groove. While it’s nice, we couldn’t reconcile the jazz flare with rap music. This song does get points for its clever lyrics (“Can’t make love in an open cubicle”) and hipster vibe.

Dr. Lindyke - Politics And Promises
Does anyone else remember Baz Luhrmann’s “Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen)”? This song, say the kids, is “not what you normally hear in rap.” It’s like an old dude accompanied by a high-school acapella group. But who am I to speak? I’m an old guy judging rap songs with my daughter and her friends. “Politics and Promises” had a nice beat and it grew on me.

Ethan Ivey - Entry 3
This is a song with strong rhyme and structure, and if it was recorded differently it would take a higher ranking. But the voice pops on the mic, and the recording sounds amateur. Still, it gets cred for its lyrics and the videogame-like loop.

Jutze - My Friend Kay
I thought it was a bit “William Hung,” but the girls felt it was more Will Smith (specifically the Prince Bel-Air). I think in highschool I would have picked this one as my favorite simply for the sampling of the word “penis.” It has a cool scratching, retro vibe with banjo and horn loops.

Caleb Hines - Two Musicians
Two Musicians has a haunted intro that we might play at our Halloween party. In fact we waited eagerly for Vincent Price’s manic laugh. Is this guy 12 or 50 years old? We’re not sure, but there’s an intriguing subtle melody here. We wanted a higher pace of stronger voice. Said my niece, “it sounds like the guy recorded it under a bridge while smoking pot.” I’d put that comment on my musical resume.

Menage’ a Tune - Roman Road Map
This is the “cringer” of the album, and was perhaps recorded by that odd woman down the street… the one that talks to her dog. My daughter urged me, “please say something nice about it.” So here it is… it was nice when it was over.


  1. Wow!! Hey, Nalts!! Nice to have you as a guest judge!! --Dave (WhistlersBrother)

  2. Dave- thanks, WB! You put the intu in spintunes. I have no idea what that means.