Friday, December 23, 2011 0 comments

Listen: The Roots - Undun

The Roots never cease to amaze me. This has to be one of the freshest albums I've heard in a long time. I usually wouldn't say that something is classic before its time but I think this will be an album that I'll look back on 10 years from now. Although I've heard many critics who are disenchanted with them not being "hiphop" enough. Their new album "Undun" might bring about more of that same sentiment because of the soulful hooks from known and not-so-well-known artists. The album also ends with 4 instrumental tracks, which is atypical for any "hiphop" album. I listened to the album without knowledge of the concept of it until reading a couple reviews and coming across the short film below. I could tell their was some underlying thread throughout the album but reading more about really helped me overstand it all. The story is about the life of a fictional character, Redford Stephens, who you will see is not so "fictional".

 "undun is an existential re-telling of the short life of one Redford Stephens (1974-1999). Through the use of emotives and Redford’s internal dialogues the album seeks to illustrate the intersection of free will and prescribed destiny as it plays out ‘on the corner’. Utilizing a reverse narrative arc, the album begins as the listener finds Redford disoriented–postmortem–and attempting to make sense of his former life. As he moves through its pivotal moments he begins to deconstruct all that has led to his (and our own) coming undun."

The album plays seamlessly is solid from beginning to end. My favorite tracks are The Other Side, Lighthouse, Tip the Scale and Stomp.

The Roots - UNDUN from The Ghettonerd Company, LLC on Vimeo.
Friday, December 9, 2011 0 comments

Top 5 Places to Eat

Located in the neighborhood on the corner of 8th Ave in Oakland, this spot has delicious and affordable Lao and Thai food. The Champa Sampler is one of my favorites and includes Lao Sausages, Fried Rice Ball Salad, and Fried Spring Rolls. The catfish dish, I think #51 is also a typical favorite of mines. Interestingly the chicken pho there is actually pretty good too. Wash it all down with a BeerLao. It's always for $2.

2. Cactus
Located in the affluent Rockridge area of Oakland, this is a spot most "regular" people might not even think about going to unless you live in that neighborhood. The first time I came here I thought the food would be overpriced considering the clientele it was serving but it's actually pretty affordable and good, my 2 favorite things about any restaurant! The crispy tacos are the bizness! There's always a daily special that can be hit-or-miss depending on what you're craving but its worth trying if you're indecisive. The salsa is also crackin'. The tomatilla and the one with pineapple are top choice. The daily agua fresca flavors are always bomb and you can end your meal with a savory alfajor cookie.

Located in the Temescal neighborhood, this spot is place to go if you're in the mood for some sushi. They also have sister restaurants called Drunken Fish and Miyozen but this location is best. Its fairly small and intimate. I think they have a happy hour or early dinner special. My favorite thing is something that my partner and I found out when we saw the chef serve one day, its called sashimi salad. I think it's on the menu but it's easy to overlook. 

4. Ao Sen
This is my favorite spot after a Saturday morning run around Lake Merrit. Although the Pho here is pretty good, the best dishes to get are the broken rice plates with shrimp and/or pork. I don't think many places do their rice up this way. 

Not too far from the Oakland/Berkeley border is a nice little Ethopian spot. I can't say I know too much about Ethipian food but almost everything I've tried here is good. Just pick according to the veggies and meats you like. The waitress/waiter can also advise you on what to get if you're stumped. They have these things called "Denitch Tibs", that look like lightly fried potato chips. Sambussas are also good starters.