The Round of 64 for Sound of the City’s own version of March Madness—in which you, the Sound of the City voting public, help determine the quintessential New York musician—is a little jam-packed today, with six matches on the docket. (The schedule and results so far are here.) Now we head across the river, where the Notorious B.I.G. (he of the currently gentrifying Bed-Stuy neighborhood) faces off against Oneida (they of the recently gentrified Monster Island complex) in a battle of Brooklyn old and older. Check out the arguments in favor of each below.
A preference for lovingly inscrutable sub-cyborg jams? Byzantine nicknames? Marathon on-stage displays of hypnotic power? Myriad, equally enticing offshoots? Yes to all, because that’s just how Oneida rolls. Brooklyn’s finest and most inventive avant-garde quintet crib liberally from African music, Krautrock, minimalism, noise, agit-prop, good ‘ol rock and roll and roughly fifteen dozen other genres to arrive at its own sonic language that rewards headphone use, and almost defiantly so. It’s too early to measure their influence, but there’s nothing to suggest that it won’t be meaningful in the “everyone saw the Velvet Underground and started a band” sense. Bonus: Oneida is incapable of repeating itself. Double Bonus: Oneida is all up on various festival bills. Also, Rated O was an endlessly replayable triple LP. How rare is that?
The Notorious B.I.G.
Despite his iconic physical heft, Biggie’s charm came from his economy. He rapped for the everyman—there were no dictionary-swallowing indulgences—and even when he hit the Versace highs, he relayed his raps as if grounded on his beloved Bed-Stuy street corners. His career was cruelly cut short, but his murder also meant that his legacy is brilliantly summed up with just two albums, both brimming with his wit, story-telling, and dark sense of humor. March 9 may have just passed, but in New York City every day celebrates Big.