Recently, I sarcastically quipped, “That’s pretty hot.” Someone suggested my comment was a Paris Hilton thing. No. It is not a Paris Hilton thing. Sorry. She did not come up with hot. I’ve never heard anything so outrageous. But I love the Urban Dictionary definition that explains of That’s Hot, “It can be used in whatever situation, and it will always make sense.”
That lame interchange got me thinking about the words hot and cool. I think hot is a very ephemeral (yet no less real for its ephemerality) and finicky label, and cool is deep and lasting and easy. Hot is describable: a fashion fad is hot and any tween can tell me exactly how and why. But cool embeds in something or someone and is very hard to parse out. Cool is used incorrectly a lot; Malcom Gladwell (who I dislike) and a PBS Frontline talk about the Coolhunt and the Merchants of Cool, respectively, to make some important points about marketing, but because it’s the fad-ish world of marketing, I think instead they really mean the “Hawkers of Hot.” Yes, yes I did just come up with that phrase. Thank you very much.
Cool, as far as music goes, definitely has its roots in (cool) jazz. You can’t deny Miles Davis’ Birth of the Cool (buy it). And, seriously, what’s cooler these days than jazz rap songs. Particularly ones just chock full of Blue Note samples–for more on this, see Soul Sides. Check these cool songs out on YouTube, and then buy them to go on your next party mix:
Also very cool: Galactic. On their 2007 album From the Corner to the Block, they’ve gone way more rap/hiphop/dj style from their funk/jam roots (see the album Vintage Reserve). The tracks have been aptly described as “ass-burning grooves.” Watch the video for the title track here or download it here courtesy of My Old Kentucky Blog.
Galactic is touring in some great midwestern (Lawrence, Kansas) and mountain towns in February, sometimes with Blackalicious’ Gift of Gab, sometimes with Chali 2na (of the sadly defunct J-5), and sometimes with Ohmega Watts, who I dig on first listen.