The chronicle of one man, John Noggle, and his long, strange journey through the underground.

Read the origin story here


A Pot of Boiling Water

 

LOS ANGELES — The victim stands in place, her shadow cast above an empty bucket. A confused look washes over the magenta-skinned girl; not unlike the expression each dead president shows from its place on the ground around her.

BlocBoy JB has become the subject of controversy after throwing money toward the homeless last week. One of the aggrieved, reported to be a child, has been identified as a “foam-American” — a federally recognized demographic since 1969.

The incident took place on December 12. Carrying several stacks of greenbacks in a pail, BlocBoy JB — credited with popularizing the “Shoot,” dance, — poured-out the currency at random. Eyewitnesses estimate the episode lasted several minutes. However, aside from several paper-cuts, no physical injuries have been reported. Dimes, nickels, and pennies were not observed among the debris.

One child was affected by the Memphis rapper’s actions. Lily, a seven-year old, was caught in the cross-fire of legal-tender. Recently homeless, Lily has been staying with friends on Sesame Street. Other outlets have reported that Lily and her family were evicted from their home, although a cause has not been provided.

Jim Henson created Sesame Street in 1969 as a public television sanctuary for muppets. The safe-space is currently produced by Sesame Street Workshop: a non-profit organization that focuses on childhood education; placing an emphasis on empathy and compassion.

Bigbird, an eight-foot-tall bird with yellow-feathers, has traditionally served as Sesame Street’s spokes-figure. But diversity is a Sesame Street priority. Lily, moreover, is not the first “homeless” character; a credit belonging to a green muppet named Oscar the Grouch. Mr. Grouch, when asked for commented, suggested that BlocBoy JB should “look alive”. Afterward, Mr. Grouch, whose fur was matted and unkempt, tossed several pieces of newspaper and an orange peel before slamming the lid on his trash can.

Philanthropy has long been a part of hip-hop culture. Most notably, Ol’ Dirty Bastard expressed that “Wu Tang is for the children,” at the 1998 Grammy Awards. Other charitable efforts, though, have taken place as well.

Famerica Records rapper Ralo took an interest in the destitute. In 2016, the Atlanta-based artist stood on the back-seat of a convertible and dispersed $30,000 dollars to homeless people. The incident with Ralo —  not to mention BlockBoy JB’s charitable giving, — was captured on cell-phone video and uploaded to social media.

BlocBoy JB did not immediately respond to a request for comment. At press time, the author has no reason to believe that the Drake collaborator holds any prejudice toward muppets or the larger puppet community.

But whether your insides are soft and spongy, or made up of blood and guts, how about some songs that can be enjoyed either way?

The Soup Stone

  • Like a drop of oil in a kettle full of hot water, Sleepy jumps-out at you. First, it’s the hit-hat rolls; turning up the heat on the up-beat. The djembe hits on half beats, though, that really gets “boss up,” to pop
  • The parachute deploys early. At first, you might get the impression that pint made one too many adjustments in the garage — concerns, quite frankly, that are best left in the shop. Strakt comes out the gates strong. The engines blazings on “T194,” and the down shift from double-time is by design; letting all of the cylinders get to work.
  • The snooze button is within reach. Zalean, though, who apparently has to wake up — on a count of still being dreaming —  prefer to wait it out. Eventually the clock has to wear itself out, right? Plus, “High All Weekend (Good Dream)” makes the wait worth your wait; opening the harmony in time for Cementhead to sing his piece.
  • The volcano display seems harmless. From a distance, alem world (a.k.a. sprite lee) holds the box of baking soda over the cone filled with vinegar and offbeat hi-hats; threatening to cause an eruption. But “mind” is about subtle power; sustaining the burst until melody shifts keys.
  • lil safari and lil jonny walk on the fresh ice. You’d think, this early in the season, that the artists would be careful. But the steps on “C12H22O11” are anything confident in their lack of safety. Hi-hats, starting after the first 16 beats, are joined by a snare roll on ¼’s that try and break through the surface. As it turns out, living on the edge can have its benefits.
  • New generation of mobile technology has been in the news. Networks are being upgraded from 4G to 5G and world governments have taken notice; arresting a Chinese telecom executive earlier in December. So when lil pokedexxx says, “Running from the cops cause I got 5G,” the line carries with it some added cultural relevance. But fret not,    the trio — comepleted by Marcelean and gurushawty, — are not corporate spies so much as a in it “4 the cash,”  two rich synths, and a luxury keyboard for good measure.  
  • The season is ripe for hunting. Idaho, for the first time in two decades, was due to allow sportsmen to collect up to 23 bears this year until the courts got involved. But there’s still plenty of game for Brophie and guala to hunt — just listen to KapeThaGoat say “Red dots on your face like it’s hunting season. “get u a bag,” at any rate is about killing the beat; which BEATBYJEFF tries to do with a monotone bass one the verse kicks-in.
  • Shift4 puts-in the cheats codes before starting — there’s no other explanation “CVS Booklet” The low-end guitar shouldn’t be able to keep the melody going and the keyboard seems too subtle, but they both hold on while the second guitar breaks through. Then there’s g neutral & JaySwerve that take the track beyond expert mode.
  • The individual parts on “Lip Gloss” aren’t great. LIL MAMA raps well. The style, reminiscent of an old bounce flow, would fit into an old Gangsta Boo record without much effort. Likewise, LIL TRVSH evokes distant memories of cloud rap — a soft keyboard harmonized by the vapors from a synth. It’s when the sounds combine, though — at the moment aggressive tone spills over the cool run, —  that the track becomes a time capsule: sealed and ready for delivery.
  • JBAND$ is holding the planchette. Slowly, the producer guides triangular piece over individual letters. Then, Richie Dtn — influenced by spirits, — helps to move the Ouija session from the game board to the sound board. The result is Dopewell17”: where new and mysterious harmonies can always be conjured.
  • Good advice is hard to come by. Everyone has something to say, but fewer people have substantial words to contribute. So when Morgan Marsh says, “Treat people right, you never know when you might need them,” you’d be wise to listen. After all,  Polo,” is about teamwork. baatchoy lays a harmony with a phasered guitar, if not the two keyboard parts, while mouse gives the bossa nova flute more than a jazzy rhythm; combining the jittery digital hi-hats with the analog drum samples.
  • It’s hard to properly braise a meal. There’s more to slow cooking than a pot, ingredients and time. But in listening to “Woo,” you wouldn’t know any better. G Montana let’s the stew marinate; allowing all of the flavors to come together before its time to serve. A full thirty-two beats play on the intro before the drums are added, along with a downward tempo shift; replacing the tape effects with kick drums; muted to a point where they resemble a heartbeat.
  • M Aa Xx is, NeverPleased.” The rapper wants the things that he has never seen. So it makes sense that, every couple of bars, the flow is fine-tunes; finding new ways to acquire all of the good. Then there’s Cash Bently, confident in his abilities, who is willing to rely on the old classics: a soft vibraphone melody that is given texture by a string harmony.
  • Hollywood can write a good love-story. The task has become routine over the times. Sometimes, opposites will attract. While perfect for each, at other times, love interests might be star-crossed. The trick is to keep the audience intrigued —  a task that WEEAB0¥ᵁᵂᵁ has mastered. In a lot of ways, “MOEDRIP” is a standard rom-com. The crisp hi-hats lead into the snare while bass hops from accent to accent; the run cuddling up to you all the while. But the formula works, and it works well.
  • G4UZ3 sings his body electric…or something to that effect. 7H3 WØRLD 15 NØ7 3NØUGH,” after all, can be used as a portable power generator in its own right; powring the run with an deep keyboard and the vocals that harmonize with it. Know that the the tune, as much industrial or EBM track — especially with the heavy crash cymbals in the chorus — as it is a rap song doesn’t lack voltage.

A mattress is never a just mattress. Sleep technology has come too far for anyone to sleep on springs, or even memory foam. The future is here and Lincoln + SpookJamie + Deucie have bed made from “Kitten Fur”l for belly, side, or back-sleepers: a high-register synth melody, contrasted by a minor key keyboard harmony, over a rhythm that provide support and ventilation. Meanwhile,  ace uzumakii comes by with the best bedtime story since Slinky Malinki

  • The keyboard is central to the sample on “’til that love dissipates..” Soft drums — some muted kicks beneath a quiet hi-hat/snare combination — don’t mug for any attention so much as guide the KING Benjo & Dirt toward their destination. But once Jaco starts rapping after the first sixteen, the harmony really takes shape; a guitar playing on the front as a harp strums on the back-end. Keep an ear on the fusion bass, too. Great effort has been put in the mastering, so turn up the volume and soak-in the sounds.
  • EDU4RDO is, “Riding big-ass trucks.” Street lights flash red, telling the man to stop, can stop this vehicle’s forward — no matter how many bells and claps honk! throws into the mix. The artist is determined to go about it  “on my own;” and armed with a full arsenal of different flows and melodies, he might just be able to do so.

Mixtape Round-up: “drugs calling” is a short EP, but doesn’t lack in noteworthy production credits; jakesand and 16yrold among the names joining zellyocho … the perennially prolific dretti franks returns with a new full-length; producing 13 tracks for WIFIGAWD oxykodone has lots of producer friends, and on Street Pharmacy the Florida rapper introducers MexikoDro, NeiiBur, and StoopidXool … “Feel the Same” is a quick  Lil Pokedexxx EP with all og abi production … KirbLaGoop is a SoundCloud legend, and “Pain” is, with all Fish Narc production, is the myth’s latest chapter

Some leftover both

“It says here,” the judge read-out, “That you assaulted man with a frozen chicken.

 

A beat passed. The air was filled by the stenographer typing, then the air conditioner kicking into gear.

 

Finally, the judge responded. For the first time all morning, arm lifted and a finger pointed toward the door, the justice raised his voice. In an honorable tone, the robed-man proclaimed, “Get the hell out of my courtroom!”

I spent a lot of time with homeless people in 2008. When kids go to college, many try finding themselves in the outside world. The journey, however, is prone to detours. While some pupils gravitate toward religion, others prefer brotherhoods and sisterhoods of a more modern variety; possessing equally big houses that enforce just as many questionable rules. For whatever reason, since lost to time, my friends and I regularly spent hours at the corner-store — in the middle of the night, too — talking to all manner of vagabond.

Lou was a regular. But once the patio furniture was installed, the man became a fixture. The development came much to our benefit. Lou wore a grey beard to his chest, and carried a rucksack — a keepsake from some long-ago trip the Vietnam War veteran made to his VA. A keen observer might have found it hard to tell which was heavier: the man or the bag. Behind the mouthful of teeth stained by grape-flavored fortified wine, though, was a gifted raconteur.

Told between plumes of thick smoke from a hand-rolled cigarette, Lou’s stories were prime entertainment. The narrative above, with the cold poultry turned weapon of war — Lou was hungry and had been caught shoplifting the bird — is one example.

A different anecdote places Lou outside — in the desert. One day, the man was hiking and noticed a plant. The shrubbery seemed ordinary at first. Save for its thorned fruit, the bush was an unspectacular part of nature. But Lou, a citizen scientist and amateur explorer curious to learn more, did humanity a favor; grabbing the mysterious item. Did he eat the fruit? Of course not…Lou smoked it instead.

What kind of story did you think this was going to be?

The tale ends on a cautionary note. Surprising or not, the plant made Lou high — a feeling he burned off by wandering the arid plains. “The craziest trip,” anyone can imagine, Lou would say. Then, with an effortless deadpan, the man would turn to his audience and ask, “Have you ever heard of Jimson Weed?”

Remarkably, Jimson Weed does exist. The plant exists and its fruit can be (inadvisably) consumed. Jimson weed, as tends be the case for Sonoran desert flora — the now notorious salvia divinorum comes to mind, — is one of those plants which straddles the line between intoxicant and literal poison. What matters, though, is that Jimson weed is real; providing me with enough of a reason to believe another one of Lou’s stories.

Lou was a musician before falling on hard times. Once in a while, the man reached into his bag and pulled out an instrument — happy to play the harmonica for anyone willing to listen. I witnessed the musical performance twice. Lou was not gifted at the mouth organ. But after finishing his routine, the man would wipe the spit from his chin, then transition into the spoken word coda. “Did you know,” asked the man, now staring ahead seriously, “I used to play harmonica with Willie Nelson’s road show?”

I’ve never researched Willie Nelson’s touring bands. On some level, I prefer not knowing the truth. Maybe, however unlikely it might seem, Lou did play with the Red Headed Stranger. But does it really matter? Suppose for a second I learn that my fellow gas-station patron exaggerated or, worse yet, made up the entire narrative: Would it take away from all the other tales of intrigue? The outlook, as a magic eight-ball might say, is not so good.

I don’t know whatever came of Lou. A few years later, I saw the man accused of assault with a frozen chicken; he was getting off the bus, and the woman spending the day me was spectacularly confused. Lou and I exchanged a few words. Lou, who said he had gotten clean, weighed more than I remembered. I was glad to see him doing better. The interaction was short, and soon we parted ways. “Who was that,” the woman asked me once we sat down. I told her not to worry about it.

To keep with the theme, this week I’m making a suggestion out of left-field. Wesley Willis was homeless and not a trained musician. Hell, Wesley Willis — by most standards — wasn’t a musician at all. The Chicago artist had a template and hardly, if ever, veered from it: three verses (three or four bars long), a hook, and a minute long bridge (mostly button mashing ‘Fill’ on the keyboard) before delivering a signature sign-off. Alas, what made Willis enjoyable wasn’t his creations’ complexity, so much as the salubrious simplicity.

Vaya con dios,

Noggle


John Noggle is a madman who fancies himself a writer. The only tastes he’s ever curated have eventually been flushed. He currently lives in Spokane, WA, where a random person on the street once lectured him on Lil Wyte. Follow John on Twitter @BoggleUrNoggle.

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