Minimum Gauge: Radiohead Responds to Theft by Releasing 18 Hours of Stolen 'OK Computer' Sessions

Plus, the block Biggie Smalls grew up on in Brooklyn now bears his name, Wu-Tang Clan becomes the first Hip Hop act to headline the Ryman and Elvis Costello and M.I.A. accept British honors thanks to their moms

click to enlarge Radiohead - Photo: Alex Lake
Photo: Alex Lake
HOT: Radiohead Beats Thieves to the Punch

News circulated recently that 18 minidiscs' worth of unreleased music recorded during the sessions for Radiohead's OK Computer had been stolen and the thieves were demanding $150,000 for the material. To kill the marketplace for the hackers, the band decided to release all of the music on Bandcamp today. The mid-’90s rarities collection will be available for the next 18 days only and full downloads cost £18 (about $23). All of the proceeds are being donated to Extinction Rebellion, which is described in a press release as "a socio-political movement which uses nonviolent resistance to protest against climate breakdown, biodiversity loss, and the risk of human extinction and ecological collapse." Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood said in a statement that the music was "never intended for public consumption (though some clips did reach the cassette in the OK Computer reissue) (and) it’s only tangentially interesting. And very, very long. Not a phone download. Rainy out, isn't it though?"

WARM: Rap City

Following the recent naming of an entire district in Staten Island to honor Wu-Tang Clan, another New York City borough has now paid tribute one of its favorite sons/iconic Hip Hop legend. The block where Biggie Smalls grew up in Brooklyn has been renamed Christopher “Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace Way. As Stereogum reported, at the dedication ceremony, city council member Laurie A. Cumbo said renaming the street serves as a reminder of the neighborhood’s roots in the face of what is probably the most well-known example of gentrification in the United States. “When new people come to our community, don’t get it twisted and don’t forget,” Cumbo said, “we made this borough what it is today.”

Speaking of Wu-Tang Clan, the group recently became the first Hip Hop act to headline the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. The 127-year-old Ryman is one of the most legendary venues in America, nicknamed “The Mother Church of Country Music” because of its role as host of the Grand Ole Opry in its early days and a haven for the city’s Country music elite. It has also hosted Jazz, Pop, Rock, R&B, Classical music and any number of other entertainment endeavors (even boxing matches) over the years. So, uh, why so long to embrace Hip Hop? Some who spoke to NPR for a story on the Wu-Tang gig said the venue had tried to book Hip Hop artists in the past (like 50 Cent and, er, Insane Clown Posse), but the size and old-church vibes weren’t appealing to them.

COLD: Honored to Honor Mom

A couple of unlikely music stars were recently among those recognized by Queen Elizabeth’s “Birthday Honours” for their good works and contributions to society. And both likely wouldn’t have accepted their esteemed awards were it not for their mothers. Outspoken rapper/singer M.I.A. received an MBE and said she accepted to honor her mother, a Sir Lankan immigrant who has “hand stitched” the metals for the last 30 years,  a job she took because she didn’t have to know English. Elvis Costello, meanwhile, now has an OME. On his website, the Rock legend said he was initially set on declining the honor (because he’s not a fan of British royalty and Prime Minister Theresa May, who recommended him), but his mother told him he should be “gracious” and accept. Costello said that receiving the award “confirms my long held suspicion nobody really listens to the words in songs.”

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