Fedor vs. Henderson Confirmed for July 30 Strikeforce Bout, Set to Prove Nothing

With the announcement that Fedor Emelianenko and Dan Henderson will square off at Strikeforce’s forthcoming July 30 event, so too comes an important question: why?

Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker has explained that the impetus behind the bout can be found in Henderson, who apparently pleaded with him for the match, “at any weight, anytime, any place.” But a number of other factors also exist which add to the odd nature of this pairing.

ESPN points to “multiple sources” in placing the cost of the fight, noting that Emelianenko is set to earn a $1.5 million purse while Henderson is set to gain $800,000; a strikingly high price tag for a non-pay-per-view fight. Sure, the bout is certain to attract fans to Showtime and will likely help build ample leverage when it comes time to renegotiate the renewal of Strikeforce’s contract, but is the price worth it showcase a fading star taking on the current Light Heavyweight Champion in a non-title heavyweight bout? Someone at the promotion’s now-parent company Zuffa has to be taking note, and there will certainly be a few key members of the company monitoring Coker and the financial outcome of the event.

And in terms of the outcome, what exactly is the optimal scenario for Strikeforce? Is there one? Pairing the company’s two most marketable and notable names against one another is a great tool to stir up interest, however it’s going to be difficult for either fighter to walk away from the match a true winner. If Emelianenko wins, he does so over the much lighter Henderson who will be fighting outside of his comfort zone at heavyweight. And if that happens, there really isn’t going to be any impact on Henderson’s career; fans are likely to write it off as a bad experiment and he’ll return to defend his belt in the promotion’s shallow light heavyweight division. If Henderson defeats Fedor however, a much more complicated scenario presents itself.

On his heels after back-to-back losses, “The Last Emperor” has little to gain in the match regardless of the outcome, and simply put: if Henderson defeats the once-feared Russian great that could very well mark the end of his legendary career. Not only will Fedor have failed to challenge for Strikeforce’s heavyweight crown, but the once dominant heavyweight will have lost to someone who was competing as a middleweight as recent as last spring. And if that happens, again considering the recent Zuffa takeover, his options concerning fighting in American are only that much more slim once the fight ends. If the match does conclude with Henderson’s arm raised at the end, be sure to consider that there’s little to no room in the UFC for the fighter, and there isn’t likely to be a home for him in Strikeforce either.

As far as remarkable marquees go, Emelianenko vs. Henderson is killer. No matter how it ends however, it does little to help further Strikeforce as a promotion and could even go to speed up the eventual absorption of the company by the UFC if it isn’t a mammoth success. The match is certain to be interesting, but as it stands now it doesn’t appear that there will be any winners when two of MMA’s all-time greats face off July 30.

Moby “Destroyed” Review

Destroyed stands as quite the milestone for Moby as it is his tenth full-length studio album, coming nearly two decades after he issued his self-titled debut. It also serves as somewhat of an artistic retrospective for the multi-faceted artist: A soundtrack to his own personal insomnia, Destroyed takes on a variety of sounds that have echoed throughout his entire career. While the familiar sounds that are laced throughout the album translate as rather comforting, the album itself seems to be the outcome of a rather crucial artistic period in Moby’s career. The electronic ease which flows throughout Destroyed comes at a time when it isn’t impossible for the average producer to shake a solid album out of their figurative sleeve. Recognizing this himself, Moby recently expanded on that the idea in an interview with Wired.

“Now literally anyone with a laptop, or even an iPhone, can make decent-sounding records. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I mean, it’s a lot more egalitarian, but it seems like there is something to be said for spending a long time figuring out how to make a record, and then spending a long time actually making a record. Now it seems like there is an awful lot of people making records that are quite good, but not an awful lot of people making records that are truly great. That’s the downside to remarkable software. You can sit down with Reason or Ableton and literally in a couple of hours make a very good-sounding record. But then a lot of people become contented with that, rather than pushing themselves to making something that sounds great.”

This statement is increasingly crucial as the 15-track release plays out, but not in the sense that it reinforces the intent and execution of Destroyed, but that it questions its purpose. It would be a bit dramatic to suggest that Moby might simply be another faceless Soundcloud DJ had he started his career some two decades later than he did, but relating his aforementioned statement to how Destroyed actually plays out, such a conclusion might not be too far from the mark.

Opening with the airy, winding synth of “The Broken Places,” the slow winding nature of the album is again stressed in the piano & beat driven “Victoria Lucas” and the bubbling “Blue Moon”; the latter being a track which also finds its pace through focusing on Moby’s calm, layered vocals. One aspect of the Moby’s music that hasn’t historically been as acclaimed as others has been Moby’s lyrics — often criticized as too scant to hold up to his rather impressive instrumental capabilities — but within a minimal framework, “Be The One” and “The Day” challenge this by each offering unique, emotional hooks.

While the former revolves around the idea of relational complication (“I’ll never see what you wanted, love… I was the one when you needed love”), “The Day” thematically surrounds the emotions Moby felt regarding the passing of his mother. Solemnly repeating “I will be right here/Til all the pain just disappear/I will always stay/Til all this light just kills the day,” the ode progresses into one of the most emotionally inspiring songs on Destroyed, combining the poignant lyrics with an equally moving soundtrack. Though not maintaining a lyrical focus, the theme of “Lie Down in Darkness,” which follows “The Day,” serves as a wake for the feelings which the track introduces: a familiar soulful hum Play-fully awakening the chant “Now that you’re gone…”

Just has he did with Wait For Me, Moby utilizes a selection of female vocalists throughout Destroyed, this time Emily Zuzik and Inyang Bassey contributing to “The Low Hum,” “Rockets” and “The Right Thing.” Unlike his last release however, the album includes a variety of tracks which interject a bit of animation to the flow of things. “Sevastopol,” for instance, serves as a quirky instrumental which rekindles an old love for gliding synths and a focused club sound, while “After” adds a brush stroke of swooping electronica.

As has been a recurring theme over the course of his career, the album does dip into the realm of symphonic electronics, but in the case of Destroyed Moby assumes this sound late in the recording. While the final four songs all bear a similar tone, flow and consistency, they unexpectedly add emphasis to the idea conveyed by Moby through his Wired comments. Following “Stella Maris” the album reaches a dramatic peak with the seven-minute “The Violent Bear It Away.” Yet despite coming to what might seem a logical conclusion, Destroyed still floats on with the eight minute “Lacrimae” before ending with “When You Are Old.” It’s during these tracks that revisiting one of Moby’s thoughts becomes crucial: the idea that artists have grown increasingly likely to become satisfied with “good-sounding” music rather than striving for something great.

In the case of Destroyed, a focus on self-editing could have possibly given it a desired succinctness, rather than allowing the album to wind on past the point where it remains engaging. Even eliminating the album’s final ten minutes wouldn’t offer enough evidence to suggest that Destroyed is as complete a piece as the musician’s delivered in the past though. Moby’s a talented and well-rounded musician whose obsession toward analog electronics and Heavy Metal alike have helped him grow as a remarkable musician, but without the previous barriers to entry that once allowed Moby to develop his talents as a producer (and DJ, even) an aimless trip through electronic sounds of the past seems far less appealing. As long as electronic music exists, Moby will likely be revered as one of the giants who helped shape its history. But while it sounds good throughout (quite good at times, even) and serves as a welcomed summation of his past two decades of work, the largest milestone which Destroyed might represent may be that it stands as his least essential album to date.

Hail Mary Mallon "Garfield" Video

Considering how darkness in rap has become so closely associated with such recent shock acts as the polarizing Odd Future, it’s refreshing to be introduced to a group such as Hail Mary Mallon which doesn’t make a desperate grab for attention while driving a sincere sense of nervous energy. Not unlike last month’s “Smock,” “Garfield” rides over Big Wiz’s mellow production as Rob Sonic and Aesop Rock weave their rhymes around one other, echoing the bleakness of the video itself. “Garfield” is taken from the group’s debut album Are You Gonna Eat That?, which is out now digitally but won’t drop in stores until June 7.

Lil Wayne & Rick Ross "John" Video

Originally released under “If I Die Today,” “John” finds Lil Wayne stepping into the Maybach framework, he and Rick Ross doing their best to repeat “I’m Not a Star” while putting just enough of a spin on the track to sound unique. While “6 Foot, 7 Foot” remains the tightest new song to appear on the wildly anticipated Tha Carter IV, hopefully whatever follows avoids taking such a well-traveled path as “John.”

Moby "The Day" Video

As explained by Dolimite Films, “This started out as a video contest for Moby and ended up being a labor of love that left us not caring about the competition. This is a story that we think will effect a lot of people.” Contest or no, I can’t see how they’d come up empty on the last part of that statement.

In brief, the video emotionally cuts into a very real circumstance that many people are thrown into everyday, simply asking: What would you do? What would you do if you were in a relationship and the person who you’re dedicated to was taken from you? What would you do if you found out that they were in a horrific accident, came out alive, but would never be the person that you were in love with again? What would you do if you were their lone hope for return to any semblance of a “real world”? The acting and narrative only heighten the emotions surrounding the questions, but underlying is another which is less obvious: What would you do if you unintentionally became the burden of someone you love to a point where they would no longer be the person YOU were in love with? Heavy stuff.

Moby "After" Video

The concept of this video from director John Irwin: “In a sterile and controlled future, suicide rates have risen and the powers-that-be are looking into the cause. An operator resurrects a female victim and sifts through her psyche, trying to understand the mechanics of her suicide.”

Repeating “But my mind was low,” Moby characteristically moans above a series of swooping electronics throughout the better part of the track “After.” The interpretation of this particular video will be different for everyone, but those five words stuck out as vastly important given an idea that I once read surrounding something called “Levels of Understanding.” To paraphrase, the thought revolves around the realization that these different levels of understanding can either expand or contract our perception of the world around us; liken it to standing either atop a skyscraper or at street level in an ultra-condensed metropolis. From the top of the building we’re able to better identify the scope of the world around us, but from the street it may appear as though the world is nothing greater than the cramped area that surrounds; a feeling of tunnel vision could kick in to further minimize the true depth of the surrounding environment.

This becomes a bit more relevant when considering Moby’s minimalist lyrics and the disheartening theme of the video. In comparing the high and low levels of understanding to moods, if a mind is low it drops down to that low level of understanding, so narrowly attached to what’s immediately around it that a person cannot see outside the small bubble that surrounds them. Perhaps things would be different in a “sterile and controlled future,” but in the present I feel that the idea makes a lot of sense. If you find yourself at a low point, give things a moment, a day, a week or even a month and your level of understanding, along with your mood, is bound to rise.

Hoping That the Glitter Turns Gold: Pat Lee

Not long ago Birmingham, Alabama’s Pat Lee dropped the first taste from his forthcoming Nameless EP in the form of the Gold Panda-sampling “You.” Now the 21-year old rookie is back with a fresh take on “Stairway to Hip-Hop Heaven” by Slovenian producer Gramatik. Rapping over the remixed Led Zeppelin classic, Lee initially takes on lazy listeners before focusing his eyes toward the future, daydreaming about what might await him “at the top of the stairs.” The DJ FOTO-produced Nameless is set to drop in the coming weeks.

Dyslexic Postcards “Now They Know”

The choice adjective used to describe Miami’s Dyslexic Postcards seems to be through using some form of the term “debauchery,” and having seen the rugged group perform live it’s not all that difficult to figure out why. Crushing the small reformed cowboy bar Betty’s in Nashville a few weeks back, the five-piece literally destroyed on stage (floor), thrashing around beer cans just as they did their instruments. But for as wild as the set was, such craziness is actually kept quite restrained on the group’s recently released debut EP.

Spare the Altar doesn’t overwhelm at six tracks deep, nor does it dull the senses by sticking to a single sound the whole time through. The fuzzed over fist pumper “Give Me Reason to Die,” for example, is evened out by “Shakes That You Make,” which serves up a dicey, sloppy synth bit below a near-pop rock bubble. The standout on the release is the same song as was the highlight of the live show however. Cheekily opening to the Budgie classic “Breadfan” (though the sound is far closer to the much beloved rendition by Metallica), “Now They Know” continues by marrying electronic spazz and an evenly deadly guitar and vocal pairing. For more from the group head over to their Reverbnation page.

Is Black Noize The 615 King?

Often an album or song will represent a thought or theme that runs through an artist’s mind for a simple period of time, but when asking slept-on MC Black Noize about his new album you get a very different answer. “The significance of the title 6:15 Daydreamsz is that it describes everything about me” he explained recently via email. The 615 representing Nashville’s area code, Noize went on to explain the title’s meaning which is also represented visually on the album’s cover. “The Daydreamsz part comes from me as a person. First off, I feel that the sun and moon are my yin and yang.” As he continued, he explained further how the literal representations on the cover offer insight into his own personality, “Day equals the sun, Dreamsz equals the moon. Also, Day describes the side of my personality that is lively, upbeat, bright, etc. [while] Dreamsz is the side of me that is relaxed, thoughtful, deep, etc.” This might not seem like a leap into deep philosophical introspection, but the ability to recognize who it is you are, even on the level of what duality exists within you, is an important one; certainly one apparent throughout 6:15 Daydreamsz.

Rapping since the age of 14, the still-young Noize approaches his debut solo mixtape with a bit more confidence than a typical rookie might be thought to do. Much of that has to do with his previous efforts, dropping two Snap Sessions releases with his old group the Remedy, but much might have to do with his own progression and the presence that comes with it. “I want to be the king of this city,” he commented when asked about his self-appointed label of “The 615 King.” “Plain and simple. We got plenty of talent down here in Nashville and I want to be above the competition so I’ma call myself ‘The 615 King’ cause that’s what I envision as real. Not to be cocky but it shouldn’t be long before people start realizing that I deserve that title. Eventually I want to be at least one of the best from the South. That’s the harder challenge!”

It’s not that these tracks necessarily stand above the rest as the best on the mixtape—though they are my personal favorites—but Black Noize’s flow over Lil Wayne’s “Let the Beat Build” and J. Cole’s “Who Dat” stand as prime evidence of this focus. Take his closing rapid release in “Let the Beat Build,” for instance:

“I Am… The 615 King, and I am so 615…You think I’m lyin’?/Nigga I am the King of the 6-15/Killa on the beats/On the realest on the streets/Blow kush from Miami so feel my heat/When I come to defeat/I’m warrior, horrible, I’m sendin’ hell to ya whole aura doe/Spray art from my tongue like an aerosol/Damn shame anybody’s a target doe/When I hit these rappers with a harder flow/Calm it yo/ OK, my bad, but these niggas make me mad/Talkin’ bout they got swag when they ain’t never had shit/Make these non-gymnastics perform a back flip/Weezy get at me, bring the beat back, bitch!”

These two songs find Noize’s slightly grizzled flow working within the masterful hooks and beats of each track, but it’s his ability to avoid sounding like a just another generic bush-league MC rapping over already amped beats that propels him to a higher level.

Is Black Noize “The King”? Not yet. But right now he’s got the wind flowing beneath his lyrical wings and is only likely to make an even harder case for his argument when he drops the tentatively titled Jungle Juice and Captain Crunch in August. Until then, 6:15 Daydreamsz is available as a free download right here.

The Lonely Island fear. Michael Bolton "Jack Sparrow" Video

The tracklist to the Lonely Island’s upcoming sophomore release Turtleneck & Chain looks like one gigantic 19-track joke; which is good because, well, it’s actually supposed to be one gigantic 19-track joke. The comedy troupe, comprised of Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone and Andy Samberg, have taken on ridiculous levels of cheekiness for the new album, including many Saturday Night Live pieces including Akon’s “I Just Had Sex,” Rihanna’s “Shy Ronnie 2: Ronnie & Clyde” and Justin Timberlake’s “Motherlover,” in addition to a wide range of additionally odd inclusions. Take a selection of tracks featuring grimace-inducing titles the likes of “Japan” (too soon?) and “No Homo” (still, really?) and this new offering which debuted as an SNLDigital Short last night, “Jack Sparrow,” which features Michael Bolton. The premise: The Lonely Island crew is set to record a club-stopmer with Bolton; Bolton is obsessed with Pirates of the Caribbean and takes things in an unexpected(ly hilarious) direction. “Turns out Michael Bolton is a major cinefile” is about all that can be given away without ruining it. Turtleneck & Chain will be released May 10 via Universal.

I.B.E. feat. MaLLy & K.Raydio "The Pad"

Releasing a condensed mixtape utilizing a selection of J Dilla beats last year, simply titled I-Dill Picture, young Minneapolis MC I.B.E. (Intelligent Black Enterprise) is on the verge of dropping yet another release in the form of an introductory mixtape by the name of That Tape. An introduction to what? An introduction to his full-length debut This That and the Thirdwhich, as explained through a recent video interview, is set to follow shortly after and will be “completely produced by Benzilla.” What a coup for such a relatively unknown artist to pull off such a talent to back him for his first time out! For more from That Tape, I.B.E. has also dropped “What You Look Like,” but to get your ears on something solid first, check out this new collaboration with vocalist Krysta Rayford (aka K.Raydio) and Minneapolis standout Mally, who will be releasing his own album, The Last Great, some time late this summer.

Ducki McFli "The Eclipse"

Nashville MC and one half of production duo P.U.S.H. Productions, Ducko McFli has just released a new album of instrumentals under the banner of Smoked Out. Highly soulful in their sourcing, the collection is also accompanied by a pair of lyrically inclined songs which will appear on his upcoming solo set, Insomnis Veritas. Aside from the Sofa Brown collaboration, “Pulp Fiction,” the other rap-strong track included on Smoked Out is McFli’s funky, scratch-heavy “What Can I Do” which also appeared on Life’s in a Blur, the recent mixtape rom 17 year-old MC Evan Blocker. Smoked Out can be downloaded for free in its entirety from McFli’s Diary of a Real MC Tumblr page.

Elemental Zazen "Hollow Heart"

True perseverance resides on a sliding scale somewhere between working through life’s daily chores and it’s most tragic and unusual twists. Everyday everyone who survives can say “I have persevered!” but in the case of Seattle MC Elemental Zazen such a statement takes on a tremendously unfortunate extreme. In 2006, after already losing a family member, he was sent back to square one himself as his house burnt to the ground, taking along with it practically everything he owned. Still in his mid-20s, Zazen (born Jason Trefts) was diagnosed with a brain tumor the following year which found him being rushed into surgery. If we’re talking perseverance, I think we’re talking Elemental Zazen. Following his 2009 sophomore release The Glass Should Be Full (which can be downloaded for free via Potholes in My Blog) comes his latest album, Nothing To Lose But Change, boasting a deep cast of talented artists ranging from Jake Oneto Fashawn to Jean Grae. One other familiar face who jumps in on the album is Canibus, who complements Zazen’s relentless personal drive with his own focused snap on the J. Ferra-produced “Hollow Heart.”

T. Daily "It's All Over"

Originally written by Curtis Mayfield (as were many of the era’s songs released through OKeh Records), Walter Jackson’s 1964 single “It’s All Over” has had an interesting history, one which eventually found the song used as a sample on “Music is Power,” the second single from Richard Ashcroft’s 2006 studio release, Keys to the World. Most recently, albeit on a far less glorious scale, the song was again used by Memphis native T. Daily on his Goonies-themed mixtape Never Say Die (The Goonies) when it dropped earlier last month. Working through such lines as “You the gamblin’ type, either that or you blind/’Cause even in a full house I’m still one of a kind,” Daily capitalizes on the royal sounding swings of the original to refocus the track from the heavier sounding beats on the rest of the mixtape. For more from Daily, the entire release can be streamed or downloaded for free via Dat Piff.

Lady Gaga "Judas" Video

As enthusiastically bold as the music videos for both Lady Gaga’s “Judas” and “Born This Way” are, each leaves a lingering taste of unexpected emptiness. Be it the hazy, winding religious commentary of the former or the rigidly acted out space-birth of the latter, the concepts of the videos are quite unique but the final products themselves surprisingly don’t boast that much anticipated “whoa” factor, especially considering the bizarre lead up that has slowly helped build the wild character that the singer has adopted. At this point, considering the two lukewarm singles, the most remarkable and shocking thing that could come from Ms. Germanotta would be if Born This Way actually turns out to be wildly enjoyable when the album is released later this month.

Status Reign "The Chorus"

Having been slowly releasing new material since early last year—February’s “Dedicated” and last summer’s “Tonight” being just two examples—Minneapolis MC and Background Noise Crew member Status Reign has now released his full-length debut album Brutally Honest. While the record retains certain likenesses to similarly focused artists from the Twin Cities it’s difficult to question the thoughtful presence that the MC holds down behind the mic. In addition to the two aforementioned tracks one of the album’s other standouts, which has subsequently also been floating around for nearly a year now, is “The Chorus.” The song’s production feels quite determined when working alongside the MC’s weighty tone, the head-bobber revolving around a story of betrayal and a polluted relationship. For more from Status Reign, the entire full-length is presently available via Bandcamp.

Ink Project "Snake"

Comprised of Melanie Dymond (vocals, production) and Jez Lloyd (keys, production), Ink Project is an interesting electronic duo out of South London whose individual tracks focus on everything from bouncier pop (“Flicker“) to such slow ambient creepers as “Eye of Glass,” which debuted earlier this year on Gilles Peterson’s BBC Radio1 show. Another standout which follows such a relaxed, crawling pace as the latter is this chilled out bubbler titled “Snake.” Though it’s billed as a non-album release, it’s hardly a stretch to expect something as similar as these gentler samples when the duo drop not only their first EP next month, but their debut full-length some time later this year.

Openmic "Non Fiction"

Presented by 2Ls, Nashville firestarter Openmic dropped his much anticipate For The Rebels mixtape yesterday. Having already dropped “The Code” and “Can You Blame Him?,” the MC further cements his place among the south’s finest young lyricists with the album, but one track in particular — be it on the release or when he performs it live — stands out above the rest as one of the greatest indicators of the wisdom at work behind the mic. Dropping references to Jay-Z and A Tribe Called Quest, “Non Fiction” adds a unique sense of depth on the release, helping carve out the MC’s place for himself within the city’s deep pool of talent. Be sure to either head to 2Ls or Dat Piff to stream or download the free release.

Matic Lee "Ghost"

Following his recent Dragonball-inspired track “Flyin’ Nimbus” comes “Ghost,” Matic Lee’s play off of Ray Parker, Jr.’s “Ghostbusters” theme. The Nashville MC cuts hard with the self-produced track, lyrically firing at haters and naysayers alike. While just recently releasing his Smoke and a Mirror album, it would seem wise to keep an eye on the MC’s Twitter account as new music seems to be dropping on the regular.

Mac L "40 Acres and a Deal"

Mac L, aka Mac Tha Knife, is an interesting character. The Nashville-based MC essentially served as my own personal introduction into the city’s rap scene and was the focus of an introductory feature, “Finding Community in Ca$hville” back in January. With such a background it’s with great pleasure that CB is able to unveil a new track from his forthcoming Raw Material mixtape, titled “40 Acres and a Deal.” Playing off of Kanye’s “So Appalled,” Mac tackles politics, social constructs & personal legacy in the new track, certainly lending a sense of excitement to the forthcoming release. Watch for Raw Material as it’s set to drop some time this summer.

Party Trash "Night Flash"

New from Joseph Volmer of Murfreesboro, TN’s Blastoids comes a fresh LP under the banner of his haunting solo project, Party Trash. The minimalist electronic howls featured throughout the new ALONErelease are echoed strongly in the album’s hazy lead single, “Night Flash.” The progressive sounds of the witch house feature’s synth come as a strong contrast to the freak-rock of Volmer’s mainstay, but are entirely engrossing by their own right. The entire album is available for streaming via Party Trash’s Bandcamp page, and a limited edition cassette version of the release is set to drop in the near future via Clan Destine Records.