By Jaime Lees
By Roy Kasten
By Melinda Cooper
By Jeremy Essig
By Roy Kasten
By Daniel Hill
By Chris Kornelis
By Gina Tron
What about the new Jay-Z?
I haven't heard it yet. I bet it's pretty brilliant. I heard some of it, I think it's brilliant.
What about the 50 album?
I didn't listen to it. Did you?
No. What about locally? The new Trae record?
I didn't hear it. But locally, man, I'm on anything local. I really want local artists to rise and become national.
Who have you got your eye on locally right now?
Does he have something on the way?
I hope so.
Did you hit the green?
I hope I did.
What was the last record you got really excited about?
Mine. Or Kanye's.
What did you like about the Kanye record?
I liked its originality. That wasn't a bad drive, was it?
No. Are there any rock albums that came out this year that you liked?
No one came out. Who came out?
Well, Spoon had a pretty big record. Radiohead.
I didn't download [the Radiohead]. I want to buy it because I really love that band.
What's your favorite Radiohead album?
I really like [starts singing, more or less on key] "Don't leave me hiiiiigh, don't leave me dryyyyy ..." ["High and Dry," from 1995's The Bends] I love that song. I'm going for eagle right here. [swings] Awww, slow down, ball! Shit. I fucked up my eagle. Fuck!
[Scarface two-putts for a bogey]
Do you download music? Do you have an iPod?
I have an iPod.
Do you still buy CDs?
I buy everything that I like.
Tell me more about Product.
One guy's from Mississippi and the other kid's from San Francisco. I think it's some of the most brilliant rap put together from different parts of the world.
Have you ever thought about making an album with your band? [Scarface occasionally performs, playing several instruments, with a fourteen-piece live band]
I want to. Contractual obligations may not allow it, but that's a big dream of mine, to be able to make an album with a rock band. I've got a rock band, the Sick Man Psycho Bastards. I'm the lead singer.
I know you did A&R for Def Jam [signing Ludacris and T.I., among others]. Are you still doing that for Rap-a-Lot?
No. I don't do that no more.
You said earlier you've been playing a lot of blues. What kind of blues are you into?
Old Delta blues. Muddy Waters' old plantation recordings. Robert Johnson, Blind Willie McTell, Son House.
That was a little later, but yeah, he's good.
What have you been listening to the most recently?
Reggae. Peter Tosh, Bob Marley. The old one-drop reggae.
Do you go out and see a lot of music?
No. I don't really know what's going on, man. I'm totally out of sync with what's happening right now.
Do you think the local rap community is as strong as it was a couple of years ago?
I hope it's as strong as it was. [yawns] Excuse me. I think you have to grow up in anything you do. Not grow up, but you've gotta grow with your fan base. I think that's the secret of what music is. If your fanbase is 25 and older, it's going to be hard to sell to kids [who are] 13, 12.
Do you worry about that with your records?
No, I just make music, man. I know who my fan base is. See, I'm kind of cheating, man. I grew up with a houseful of musicians. My cousin is Johnny Nash, "I can see clearly now, the rain is gone" Johnny Nash. So I know what to do just by watching what he did. He had a brilliant career. He wrote one of the biggest songs in music history.
On your mom's side or your dad's?
Ummm... on my grandfather's side.
Did you get to hang out with him much?
Did he give you lessons or anything like that?
— Chris Gray
Lawrence, Kansas, eco-journalist Simran Sethi prunes some continent-spanning tunes
Like Godzilla leaving green footprints, eco-journalist Simran Sethi has taken over the small college town of Lawrence, Kansas. Since moving to the trendy prairie hamlet from New York City, Sethi has spotlighted her favorite local businesses on Oprah and the Sundance Channel's Big Ideas for a Small Planet. As an environmental correspondent for NBC News, she talked to Al Gore about the massive tornado that devastated the tiny town of Greensburg, Kansas. She has been on Martha Stewart's show and is the host of Sundance' s The Green Online. And before she was loco for eco, Sethi was a news anchor for MTV News in India and Singapore.
She's been everywhere, man. In fact, she's often too busy saving the planet to monitor new releases with the assiduity of a music geek, but that doesn't mean she doesn't like a good jam.
Though Indian in heritage, the petite, vivacious 36-year-old grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina — and we could hear it in her slight twang when we caught up with Sethi to talk about her list of the music, among other things, that kept her going this year.