Fiend - Cool Is In Session

Hi, readers of Stereogum! My name is Tom Breihan, and I’m the older of the two new guys around here. A few internet eons ago, I wrote the Status Ain’t Hood blog for the Village Voice. For the past couple of years, I’ve been a staff writer at Pitchfork. And yes, that means Brandon and I just acted out our own ’80s body-switching comedy. He’s Judge Reinhold. I’m Fred Savage.

A few things about me: I’m tall enough that complete strangers point and stare. I come from the beautiful town of Baltimore, Maryland; perhaps you’ve enjoyed our byzantine crime dramas on television. I’m a dad. This past weekend, I moved from Chicago to Virginia, which was not fun. I like dogs and nachos and professional wrestling. I really, really like rap music, so you can expect to see some more of that around here.

For my first post, my new bosses here at Stereogum have graciously allowed me to pick a new song to share. I’ve chosen one that brings together two things I enjoy: Sleepy-eyed New Orleans stoner-rap and British second-wave ska. Back in the late ’90s, Fiend was a raspy-voiced firebreather and one of the most animated figures on Master P’s No Limit Records. But more recently, he’s linked up with fellow No Limit veteran Curren$y and become a drawling elder-statesman type. On “Ghost Town,” he raps over the Specials’ spectral ska classic of the same title.

It comes from Cool Is In Session, the new Fiend mixtape and the second excellent tape he’s released this year. (See also: Tennis Shoes And Tuxedos.)

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Comments (15)
  1. Who told Fiend he could have a record cover with decent graphic design? We need to take him back to the N.O.

  2. 1) Where in Virginia?

    2) Saw Fiend perform with Curren$y a few months ago. Great stuff! That Tennis Shoes and Tuxedos mixtape is way underrated.

  3. Great dub feel to this track. I always enjoyed your reviews at Pitchfork, look forward to your Gum posts.

  4. Looking at your P4K reviews, I see you’ve covered Opeth, Jesu, Nachmystium, Refused, Trash Talk, Watain, Torche, High on Fire, Mastodon, and Tombs. Along with adding to Sterogum’s hip-hop coverage, it would be really awesome if you kept up the rich tradition of Stereogum metal/hardcore coverage that Brandon started. Either way, based on your reviews, you will almost undoubtedly be my favorite Stereogum writer.

    • Though I have to say, you’re diss of “Umbrella” in your review of Good Girl Gone Bad is, IMO, off base. That song stands as the sort of compelling event-pop that got me back into pop music at a time when I thought I was too indie for that sort of thing.

  5. I like hip hop and it would be cool to see and hear more hip hop on stereogum, but not stuff like this. I liked The Specials original version of the song but this was weak. Artists I hope to see covered in the future: Aesop Rock, Doomtree, B Dolan, Busdriver, Buck 65, Atmosphere, Felt, Mos Def, Homeboy Sandman, Sage Francis, Nyle. Stuff like that. Bring the backpack. No lil wayne or mac millar please.

    • Backpack underground hip-hop from the early 00s is tight but it’s a pretty narrow subsection of a really diverse genre. Asking a hip-hop guy to only cover that sort of stuff is like asking the rest of the writers here to only cover Joanna Newson, Devendra Banhart, Animal Collective, Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver, and other woodsy weird folk-tinged indie. While that stuff is often really interesting, it represents only a small portion of what exists in indie music. And likewise, guys like Sage Francis, Aesop Rock, Mos Def, and El-P have great complex often politically-oriented rhymes, they aren’t the be all and end all in hip-hop. Lil Wayne is as inventively weird as any figure in hip-hop right now. Guys like Fiend and Curren$y make great vibe music, not to mention are pretty prolific creators of weed-related wordplay. Rick Ross/Gucci/Waka may not be the best lyricists but have crafted really distinctive interesting personas for themselves. The swag generation is doing really interesting stuff with introspection and with really wacked out crazy ambient/experimental production. Big Boi, G-Side, and Big K.R.I.T. are killing it with tremendously funky dirty south slice of life type stuff. Hip-hop is too diverse to be pigeonholed into a single subgenre.

      • Yeah, I get what your saying. I wasn’t really demanding that backpack rap be the only hip hop covered, I was just stating that I’d like to see more of it. Seeing as this writer is new to stereogum, I figured I’d put my input in early while he, hopefully, is still reading and taking advice from the comments. When I was younger I used to listen to a lot more rap but as I got older a lot of it started to bore me. I enjoy a song about smoking bud every now and then, but rappers just talking about doing or selling drugs, and their “riches”, and their designer brands, and killing people cause they’re thugs seems so contrived to me. I like to think of hip hop as a movement with a positive message. It doesn’t have to always be serious though. I can get down with a song about eating cereal and watching cartoons on a Saturday morning, or about comics, or a good ole fashioned fuck the police song, or songs that aren’t really about anything other than displaying the artist’s rhyming abilities and flow, or songs about sex, or even about killing people if its done funny or with some emotion put into it(ex. Sage Francis- Hang Time). I guess its the mainstream popularity of hip hop that emphasizes the balling club bangers while intellectual or heart-felt lyricists are passed over that irks me. While I get that hip hop is diverse, the style of the artists I mentioned are also quite diverse. There are similarities, socially conscious raps, great word play, as you mentioned, politically-oriented rhymes, but they each have there own distinct style. Example: I listen to Sage because his raps are more like poetry to me(I really enjoy his spoken word), I listen Aesop because his flow is epic and rhyme schemes are so goddamn intricate, Atmosphere just seems down to earth to me, El-P produces great electronic beats, Buck 65 has an odd country-western flavor to him and some of his stuff reminds me of Tom Waits(especially Talkin Honkey Blues). And I’m sorry but I can’t get into Lil Wayne at all. Scratch that apology. I hear younger people talk about how great of a lyricist he is and how great his metaphors are and I feel tempted to ask if they know what a metaphor is. Gucci Mane is also terrible IMO. I haven’t heard any of Big Boi’s solo stuff but I do enjoy Outkast.

        • I’ll admit, Gucci ain’t a great rapper. Lil Wayne is dope though. He may be spouting out random bullshit a lot of the time but he’s got some really imaginitive lines in songs like “Mr. Carter” and “A Milli”, a flow that you have to admit is pretty unique, and a pretty solid sense of humor. And you should really check out the Big Boi album that came out last year. It’s great all the way through. I do like all the guys you mentioned though (except I haven’t heard much Atmosphere). Sage Francis did spoken word at my college a couple years and I heard it was really, really good (though I didn’t get a chance to go). A lot of drug/bitches/street rap can sound silly and cliched these days (I’m not buying the new E-40 stuff that people have clung to this year) but there are some true artists from the past decade or so that are finding new, personal, honest ways of dealing with the subject matter (Ghostface/Raekwon for sure, Clipse, and while I don’t necessarilly see CanOx really as drug rap, that stuff does come up in some of their songs, and if you haven’t heard the Saigon album that finally got put out this year, you should. If it weren’t for label issues, he could’ve been the next Nas).

          Not that you were knocking modern hip-hop really, but if you don’t like the direction hip-hop is going in these days, I have two words for you: Shabazz Palaces. Black Up is seriously the best album in any genre I’ve heard all year.

  6. meh… Id prefer to just listen to “ghost town” by the specials. Fiends lyrics do nothing to make it better.
    Fiend sounds like he could be OK if he could just create some of his own dub & beats.

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