Microphone Golden

WTF Report: “Putin Jam”

Until a few months ago, I knew very little about Putin. Yes, he was Russia’s president. Yes, he sometimes made lassos out of pythons to hunt tigers with. That was essentially the full extent of my knowledge.

Recently, with all the wonderful happenings in Ukraine, I started reading a lot more about Mr. Putin.

That’s how I came across the following video gem, in which Putin demonstrates his English skills in an attempt to address the International Exhibitions Bureau:

This video evokes a curious bouquet of feelings. It manages to simultaneously be awkward, hilarious, and deeply terrifying.

On the one hand, Putin looks like a shy kid during his first ever English oral exam—tugging nervously at his sleeves, struggling to find a confident stance, eyes darting across the teleprompter to keep up with the strained flow of speech. It’s objectively amusing.

On the other hand, Putin’s are the eyes of a cold-blooded madman. His jaw barely moves as he squeezes out the words. He has nothing but utter contempt for being forced into this uncomfortable position.

All I’m saying is, I hope the cameraman wasn’t foolish enough to make any jokes about Putin’s performance. If he did, may he rest in peace. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend you to openly joke about Putin either. You never know when the KGB is listening. They could be behind you right n…

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Guest Expressed: “The trouble is in the translation”

We all know how easily things get lost in translation from, say, Chinese to English. Yet you don’t have to look that far. Translation problems are all around us, even when we speak the same language.

Rachael McGimpsey shares some amusing thoughts on the issue in her third (wow!) guest post on Nest Expressed.

Enter Rachael:

Americans and the British are supposed to be speaking the same language: English, but often things can get a little lost in the translation.

Today I am bringing you four examples.

The first two being:

1. Spotted Dick
2. Knocked up

Spotted Dick is known to the English as “a pudding made with currents” – which explains the “spotted’, but no one can seem to explain the “dick” part.

Spotted Dick to an American: …well…*blush*….let’s just say it has nothing to do with pudding.

So, beware, unsuspecting foreign traveler, because if you walk into a supermarket in the USA and ask the manager: “Would you be so kind as to show me were you are keeping your spotted dick?” –You are very likely to get punched in the nose!

Knocked up in British can mean: “being ill”, “to be worn out”, or “fatigued to the point of exhaustion”.

In America being knocked up, may very well have something to do with “being worn out to the point of exhaustion”, still it has a very different meaning: finding out you have been impregnated.

So the sentence: “Sally was knocked up after having a spotted dick” has two very different mind pictures depending on if your speaking “British” or “American”.

So, just keep in mind where you are and to who (or is that to whom?) you are speaking when talking about being knocked up or about your spotted dick.

The next two on my list bring some confusion as well.

3. A rubber
4. Pissed

A rubber in America is slang for a condom.

In England a rubber is an eraser.

So, if you come to America, dear British cousin, and you want to erase something do not ask for a rubber, because here a rubber is only good for erasing your chances of becoming a parent.

Pissed in American usually means to make very angry.

In England pissed can mean you are very drunk.

So, the sentence: “I was very pissed, forgot all about using that rubber, and now I will have to live with my mistakes”, has a much gentler kinder meaning in England than in the USA.

So, fellow American if you are planning a trip to England, or if you are English and are coming to America sometime in the future, it may be wise to brush up on some common slang terms native to the populace.

Because, depending on what side of the ocean you are on, the slang term you use could convey a very different meaning to the one that you had intended.

You can read more amusing musings of the above kind on Rachael’s humorous blog. If you’re the serious type, check out Rachael’s more serious blog. If your attention span is only enough for 140 characters, follow Rachael on Twitter.

Top 12 white rappers who aren’t Eminem

Marshall Mathers, better known as Eminem, took the rap industry by storm ever since he was discovered by Dr. Dre back in 1999. No other white rapper until then had such massive and sustained success. He had also paved the way for a multitude of other white rappers, who were either inspired by him to get into rapping or whose image was helped by his worldwide recognition.

There’s no denying it – Eminem is a freaking rap genius. There’s no other artist out there who can rap so eloquently about murdering women, killing parents, slaughtering innocent bystanders and all sorts of other homicidal topics. And don’t forget his tracks on drug addictions, beefs with other rappers and suicidal fans. But what if you need a break from hearing about all of that violence and drugs? I know, unlikely, but try and imagine that hypothetical scenario. Or what if you want to hear about it from some other whitey other than Slim Shady?

Well, I bring to you the list of white rappers (who rap in English) that I personally listen to and find pretty awesome. Note that these are my favourites, so don’t start sending me hate mails about what an asshole I am for not including some artist you like. Although if you want to pitch in with some good names I’ve missed – do drop me a line. The list is in alphabetical order and not in order of how awesome these artists are. Because as I’ve already mentioned – they’re all awesome.

1. Apathy

Real name: Chad Bromley

Country of birth: USA

A rapper and producer from Connecticut, Apathy released his debut album in 2006, entitled Eastern Philosophy. You know, Connecticut, East Coast, get it? This was followed up by Wanna Snuggle? in 2009 and Honkey Kong just a bit over a month ago. He’s also released a bunch of mix tapes of his previous underground work over the years. He collaborates broadly with other rappers (then again, which rapper doesn’t?) and is in The Demigodz Crew and Get Busy Committee. Check out good old Wiki for more on Apathy.

My favourite tracks:

Checkmate

I’m a Demigod

It Takes A Seven Nation Army To Hold Us Back

The Recipe

Winter

2. Asher Roth

Real name: Asher (Paul) Roth

Country of birth: USA

More mellow than most other rappers, Asher Roth so far only has one “proper” album out there – Asleep In The Bread Aisle, released in 2009. To hype up the release of this album Asher has also released The Greenhouse Effect mixtape. Not unlike other rappers, Asher raps a lot about how great he is. However, he generally keeps his lyrics cleaner than most and avoids topics like hard drugs and violence – but cut him some slack, he’s good anyway. Asher is an Eminem fan, but finds it annoying to be constantly compared to him, dedicating a whole song (“As I Em”) to this matter. He recently announced that he’s working on a second album, which will be entitled Is This Too Orange? I guess we’ll find out whether it is!

My favourite tracks:

As I Em

Bad Day

Lark On My Go Kart

Perfectionist

Sour Patch Kids

3. Brother Ali

Real name: Jason/Ali Newman

Country of birth: USA

Brother Ali takes the whole “white” thing all the way to “albino”. You’ll often hear trivia about how he’s got albinism and is legally blind. Another piece of trivia you’ll hear is that he converted to Islam later in life, changing his birth name “Jason” to “Ali”. He’s an amazing rapper bringing meaningful lyrics to the table. He often discusses issues of politics and race. Brother Ali has a number of albums under his belt, the most recent one being Us. He’s collaborated with other white rappers on my list, like Slug and Classified.

My favourite tracks:

Daylight

Self Taught

Truth Is

Uncle Sam Goddamn

Us

4. Classified

Real name: Luke Boyd

Country of birth: Canada

Classified is an incredibly prolific rapper and producer (meaning he essentially makes all of his own beats). His most recent work from earlier this year is entitled Handshakes and Middle Fingers and is the second album he releases under the Sony Records label (previous ones of the 14 albums so far were independent releases – impressive). His rap name gives him plenty of ammo for puns like “being Classy” and “don’t skip Class” – ammo that Classified uses on quite a few occassions. Classified takes a more moralistic approach to rap and usually steers clear of violent topics. He also produces tracks for other rappers.

My favourite tracks:

Desensitized

Get Out The Way

Listen

Problemz

Separate The Music From The Gimmicks

Trouble

5. D-Sisive

Real name: Derek Christoff

Country of birth: Canada

Another prolific Canadian rapper, D-Sisive went through a tough patch in his life following his mother’s (2001) and father’s (2007) deaths. Heavily affected by these D-Sisive went on to channel the raw emotions into release of four albums in rapid succession – two in 2009 and one in 2010 and 2011 each. His last album – Jimmy Goes Bye Bye – was released for free online, as well as its predecessor Jonestown. Many of D-Sisive’s lyrics deal with tragic events in his past: deaths of parents, being bullied, etc. This often makes listening to his lyrics and tracks an emotional rollercoaster. And if you don’t like rollercoasters – what’s wrong with you?!

My favourite tracks:

Glorious

I Love A Girl

Mr. Daydream

Questions

Riot I Caused

6. Ill Bill

Real name: William Braunstein

Country of birth: USA

Following the disbanding of Non Phixion, which Ill Bill was a part of, he broke out as a solo artist with a début album What’s Wrong With Bill? in 2004. You may have noticed a patter here – rappers often ask questions in their album titles. Usually the answers are provided within,  so do take a listen. Since then Ill Bill released a few more albums, some in close collaborations with other artists. Ill Bill’s lyrics are often edgy and aggressive, yet normally carry a political or moral message at the same time. I know, trippy. He’s already working on a few other albums, so stay tuned.

My favourite tracks:

Kill Devil Hills

Overkill

Pain Gang

The Anatomy Of A School Shooting

White N****

7. Mac Lethal

Real name: David McCleary Sheldon

Country of birth: USA

Nobody knows what Kansas City born Mac Lethal has against regular commercial albums. What we do know is that he’s got “only” two of them out there so far (with one more – Irish Goodbye – to release shortly). The number of his mixtapes, however, hovers around the 20 mark (or maybe I just gave up counting at around that point). A proud winner of Scribble Jam Festival in 2002, Mac Lethal is also a co-founder of Black Clover Records label (also, one of the approximately 7 remaining users of MySpace). Similarly to D-Sisive, his rap career was affected by his mother’s death, when he scrapped a work-in-progress album 11:11 and then subsequently re-recorded it to release in 2007. Don’t worry though, most of the “scrapped” songs are found on the numerous mixtapes we’ve already talked about.

My favourite tracks:

Baby Powder

Bloom

Jihad!

Sledgehammer

Tell Me Goodbye

8. Promoe

Real name: Nils Mårten Ed

Country of birth: Sweden

Promoe is one of the few European representative in the sea of North American rappers. He’s an active member of Looptroop and is also its only rapping member with an active solo career. Releasing albums in both English and Swedish, Promoe performs fantastically in either language. His lyrics are often politically charged. He has an eerie fondness of his beard and hair, neither of which have been cut or properly groomed for years. He’s one of the two rappers on my list whom I’ve had the chance to see perform live in Copenhagen, when Looptroop were warming up for Atmosphere (see Slug at the end of my list). He didn’t disappoint!

My favourite tracks (only from solo albums in English):

Colgate White

Calm Down

Headache

KKKampain

Songs Of Joy

9. Redrama

Real name: Lasse Mellberg

Country of birth: Finland

Redrama is another Scandinavian artist who does a great job of rapping in English. Redrama has three commercial albums out there, latest one (The Getaway) containing the most of my favourite tracks. Before going solo he was part of a rap group called Alien Allies. Also, in 2001 he won an English-rapping championship in Finland. Shut up, it’s a big deal over there! Redrama’s lyrics mostly revolve around himself – his past, his skills, and his dreams – but that doesn’t make him any less interesting to listen to.

My favourite tracks:

Hang It Up

Music

Rest Of Your Life

Rise

Way You See It

10. Sadistik

Real name: Cody Foster

Country of birth: USA

Maybe the least known of the crowd, Sadistik has a fantastic album out there called The Balancing Act. All songs on the album have a minor tonality. All are fantastically produced and atmospheric. He also released an E.P. in 2010 called The Art Of Dying. Sadistik stands out from the mainstream rap crowd with mesmerizing tracks and lyrics that are pure poetry (in both word construction and content). Here’s hoping that he’s got more albums coming up!

My favourite tracks:

Absolution

Angel Eyes

Ashes to Ashley

Playing God

Searching For Some Beautiful

11. Sage Francis

Real name: Paul Francis

Country of birth: USA

Sage Fancis has also been a winner of Scribble Jam Festival in 2000 (see Mac Lethal’s entry for more). He’s the founder of an independent hip hop label Strange Famous Records and three of his seven albums were released under this label. Much of his work is “spoken word” rather than traditional rap. His lyrics are profound and can often be intensely political.

My favourite tracks:

Call Me Francois

Clickety Clack

Dance Monkey

Makeshift Patriot

Waterline

12. Slug

Real name: Sean Michael Daley

Country of birth: USA

Slug is probably better known under the rap group’s name Atmosphere, which currently consists of him and a DJ named Ant. Slug actually used to be the group’s DJ when it was first formed (Ant wasn’t on board at the time). After its formation the group went through a schizophrenic phase, changing names from Mental Subjects to A Rhythmic Culture to Urban Atmosphere to, finally, just Atmosphere. Somewhere in between all of this name changing Slug began rapping, Ant came on board, and then Spawn (the other original founding member) left the group. Atmosphere have released numerous albums over the years, some of them available to the fans for free online. I’ve seen them live at a concert in Copenhagen (that Looptroop warmed up for) and was instantly hooked.

My favourite tracks:

Always Coming Back Home To You

Get Fly

Little Math You

The Arrival

The Things That Hate Us

Trying To Find A Balance