Listen the mix above. Download the whole shebang here.
Every now and then, after months of trawling the same dozen or so bodegas and ethnic video/CD stores, a simple wrong turn down an unfamiliar street or alleyway can lead to discoveries of a musical nature never before imagined.
Such a misstep two or three weeks ago resulted in my stumbling onto the Mother of all Motherlodes of indy Hong Kong hip-hop and rock the city of New York has yet yielded. Yes ... I remember it as if it was just yesterday [wave-y "flashback" screen] ...
It was Friday, 6:15 p.m. I had had a horrific week at work and was both famished, not having had a proper breakfast or lunch, and exhausted. After hopping the 7 train from Grand Central over to Bryant Park, I leaped onto the first thing that came: a D train. Why? My train is the F. I had planned, in fact, to take the F not home but to the last stop in Manhattan, East Broadway, where I was going to march several doors down to Lan Zhou Noodles: I had planned to inhale a bowl of Pork Chop Noodles ($4.50) and a Coke ($1.00). But when the D train pulled up and the doors opened with a rusty smudge, I nudged my way in, pulled by an invisible force ...
My addled thinking was this: D stops at Grand Street. Striking distance to Lan Zhou. When I exited the train at Grand, I hurried down Chrystie, the sound of the dough being WHACKED hard against the marble table by the guy "hand pulling" them at Lan Zhou in my head. I could smell the thick broth of the soup.
Normally, had I been less famished, I'd have sauntered one block over to Bowery to hit my favorite two Hong Kong Video/DVD places, then turn left on Canal, where I'd pop briefly into the Vietnamese sandwich place to see what treasures lay in their dusty CD bins. But not this evening. I was ravenous. I was being "hand-pulled" to Lan Zhou.
But, wait--what was this? P Tune & Video Co the sign outside the Video/CD store at 75 Chrystie Street read. (See photo above.) I bit my lower lip. I ignored the growling of my stomach. I popped in.
Two and a half hours later I emerged from the store, an ungodly number of CDs now filling my backpack. I was dizzy to the point of hallucinating with hunger and hunched over under the weight of the CDs, inching along to Lan Zhou as though I had just come down from Everest.
I don't even remember eating the noodles. I'm sure they were great--they always are. I do remember suddenly realizing, once I was on the F train headed home that the sheer number of CDs was not something I necessarily wanted my wife to see. I had never been entirely clear on just how many CDs purchased in one outing would technically be "grounds for divorce," but I was clear that I wasn't interested in finding out. Using my apartment key, I began to peel the wrapping off a full 2/3rds of my purchases.
My plan was simple: Once home, I would "stealth" the unwrapped CDs into the growing pile on the floor near the CD case. My wife would see them, but not actually recognize they were new. Then, acting "normal," I would sit on the couch and unwrap the remaining third of the CDs as though that was all I had bought as Nada and I shared details of our workday and laughed or fumed about all of the various bullshit that had gone on in the poetry world that week.
In the months and weeks to come, I'll be featuring a number of the artists included in the playlist above--all of whom I found at P Tune--in individual posts. Until then, here's a smattering of context for what's there:
* The first song is actually the only thing included NOT by a Hong Kong artist. It's Taiwanese rapper MC Hotdog, who in this tune makes great use of what sounds like James Brown's "Good Foot" and a keyboard lick from Stevie Wonder
* Next up, the unfortunately named Ketchup (I say that because they're next to impossible to find via Google, for obvious reasons), covering an old Rebecca Pan song, Solid Gold Rickshaw
* I have no idea who the next act is, but I do know the producer's name: Gaybird. Fabulously breathy vocals, whoever it is
* Next we have the popular hip-hop duo Fama, from their CD "Money U Spend I Collect"
* Neo-rockabilly band Chicken Rice from their CD "Lucky 7"
* The Pancakes, "Abenteuer," from their (well, actually "her") first CD, "Les Bonbons Sont Bons"
* "Crazy Children" by LMF, or Lazy Mutha Fucka, Hong Kong's most notorious, and in many ways most thrilling, hip-hop band of all time
* A electric but still folk-indy sounding song from the most recent CD, "Poetics," by My Little Airport
* My absolute favorite song of the bunch, a cover of Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" by Hong Kong cinema superstar Anthony Wong
* "照做," from a recent CD by hip-hop band 24 Herbs.