Sign up for our newsletters    

Baltimore City Paper home page.

The Love Child of Electric Light Orchestra, Too $hort, the Aphex Twin, and Don Cherry

January 16, 2007

If nuclear warheads were minutes away from turning the Cheesecake Factory and Best Buy to cinders and we had time to save only one local musician for City Paper‘s fallout shelter–canned vegetables and AA batteries don’t come cheap, you know–it’d probably be Blaq Starr. No offense to anyone else, of course: We’re just big fans of his idiosyncratic (love those vocals), city-conquering club hits, whether they’re soft as Twinkie filling (“Ryda Gyrl”) or hard as a battleship’s hull (“Tote It”). Plus anyone who has provided us with as many catch phrases–hooks that ram their way into your subconscious for days, showing up when you’re waiting in line at the grocery store or sitting in a job interview whether you want ‘em there or not–has got something going on. (Hands up, thumbs down, hands up, thumbs down . . . )

So we’re glad to see the man getting some love in the wider world, But it seems odd that a guy who provided Def Jam with a minor regional hit in Young Leek’s “Jiggle It” (and potentially another one with Duece Tre Duece’s version of “Hands Up, Thumbs Down”) is making his national debut via the auspices of that old colonial imperialist musical gadabout Diplo. Diplo’s Mad Decent label releases two Blaq Starr EPs this March, Supastarr and Shake it to the Ground, the second featuring reworks by techno dudes Claude Von Stroke and Switch. The press release describes our man BS as “Something akin to the marriage of The Clipse, Radiohead, Carl Craig, and Peter Gabriel,” which even in the overpopulated realm of overexcited PR has us ROFL’ing our asses off. (If you’re reading, BS, we’d love a club tune to the melody of “Solsbury Hill.”)

In addition, Blaq Starr has shopped beats to the forthcoming M.I.A. and Yung Joc albums. (The problem, of course, is that finding good beats isn’t really M.I.A. or Yung Joc’s main problem.) He’s also, as City Paper contributor Al Shipley pointed out, the guy whose tunes are playing in many, if not most, of the Baltimore club YouTube clips, making him the unofficial soundtrack composer for the “Best Reason for the Internet”. So if you’ve got someone else who you think should be in the fallout shelter instead, we’d sure love to hear it. (For more info visit, and order his sick solo mixtape I’m Bangin’, or, neither of which seems to actually have any information about these EPs yet.)