Prairie Pop: Mobb Deep’s past, present and future

Mobb Deep

“I got you stuck off the realness / we be the infamous”—Prodigy rapped in the opening verse of “Shook Ones, Part II,” Mobb Deep’s classic 1995 single—“you heard of us / official Queensbridge murderers / the Mobb comes equipped with warfare, beware.” Grimy, blood-soaked and unrelentingly bleak, Mobb Deep’s albums were filled with first-person tales delivered over menacing beats and minor key samples. Prodigy and his partner-in-musical-crime Havoc sounded like they had roamed the mean streets of New York since they were old enough to lift a banana clip. The reality, however, was a little more mundane. […]

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Prairie Pop: A guide to the Bob Mould oeuvre

Bob Mould

On Thursday, Aug. 15, the Bob Mould Band will totally rock the roof off the Englert in support of the singer-guitarist’s superb 2012 release, Silver Age. This is reason enough to be super-psyched, but wait, there’s more! Mould has been mining his deep back catalog—performing songs by Hüsker Dü and Sugar, his two previous bands, […]

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El-P Interview: Lucy in the sky with dizzle

Last year, Killer Mike and El-P steamrolled their musical competition with their respective albums R.A.P. Music and Cancer 4 Cure. Both artists have garnered plenty of attention over the years—Killer Mike made his initial splash on Outkast’s 2000 album, Stankonia, and El-P began in the early 1990s with the late, great Company Flow. But in 2012, their profiles skyrocketed. The outstanding Cancer 4 Cure further developed the producer and MC’s singularly dark, claustrophobic musical vision, but El’s production work on R.A.P. Music was the knockout punch. […]

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Prairie Pop: An interview with Yo La Tengo

Yo La Tengo

Yo La Tengo’s brand of drone-rock is certainly hypnotic—narcotizing even—but their live shows are never boring. That has much to do with this threesome’s restless desire to switch up their act with each tour. I’ve seen them stage a variety show with comedians, perform straight-up rock shows in clubs, use a spinning wheel that lets […]

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Prairie Pop: The story of Quirk


When Too Much Joy frontman Tim Quirk played Riverfest in the early-1990s, things didn’t go well. Mother Nature unleashed a shitstorm of epic proportions, so after a long delay, the gig was relocated to a club downtown. Adam Sandler, the opener, was the first to face the out-of-control audience… […]

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Prairie Pop: For those about to pop

Regular Prairie Pop columnist Kembrew McLeod has turned over this month’s edition to Umläut Nideldick—the famous German song doctor and rock and roll life coach. The following text is drawn from Nideldick’s keynote address at the 2012 conference of the Eurovision Academy of Musical Arts. […]

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Prairie Pop: Jonathan Richman’s playground punk

Most proto-punk legends don’t write songs like “I’m a Little Dinosaur” or “Ice Cream Man,” but Jonathan Richman isn’t your typical rock ‘n’ roll dude. Since forming The Modern Lovers in 1970, he has made a career out of defying expectations.

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DOWNLOAD: The “ILLBOARD” Hot 100 playlist – Kembrew’s guide to going (instru)-Mental this Christmas

DOWNLOAD THE PLAYLIST If you’re like me, Christmas songs probably send you into a murderous rage that ends with a trail of bloody reindeer and a decapitated Salvation Army Santa (those incessant ringing BELLS!). Fortunately, I have a plan to combat this musical menace that does not involve bloodshed. What you need is an impenetrable […]

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Prairie Pop: Putting the Mental back in Instrumental

My son Alasdair turns two next month, and lately he has been immersing himself in the wild world of sound. If mom walks up the creaky wooden stairs to his bedroom, he’ll say, “Mommy sound!” Or, when I crack open a PBR, Alasdair points to the can and blurts out, “Daddy sound!” A train whistle […]

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Prairie Pop: The Chump and the Champ

At the beginning of his professional boxing career, Cassius Clay was primarily known for winning an Olympic gold medal and possessing a loud mouth. Most sportswriters hated him, especially the old guard, who felt he was not properly deferential. The racist treatment by boxing crowds and journalists certainly would have justified Clay throwing his Olympic […]

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