Apr 21, 2012

BAM Shuffle Culture - Show Review

So after attending the BAM "Shuffle Culture" night hosted by Questlove last night in Brooklyn, I was exposed to some new groups that I had never checked out before. Willis Earl Beal and Jeremy Ellis were the 2 standouts to me. Beal does a sort of Ben Harper delta blues sound and Ellis does a lot of chopped jazz samples with a bit of boom-bap drums.

Overall, I enjoyed the show. I was hoping for more over-lapping of sounds and more of a "mix" but to assemble 5+ musical acts on one stage and make any sense of the mini-palooza that is is, is a success in itself I guess. The end of the show was Kenny Mohammed and Rahzel battling with Questlove on beats, but that part of the show seemed "muddy" at times with 3 people vying for audio "space".

It was cool to sit in a concert hall and hear any semblance of "hip-hop" and in the end we all heard snippets of groups we may want to check out more of. Hopefully, this will serve as a regular event for lesser known groups and audio-physical mash-ups of genres that may be the future of how we ALL hear music.

Below are some clips of Jeremy Ellis and Willis Earl Beal if you are interested.



Apr 20, 2012

Age 35 in Hip-Hop Years

I am glad to say that I grew up in Hip-Hops "Golden Era". Though I grew up in Kentucky, where the only rap we knew of was whatever was on TV, the range of stuff I saw introduced me to music that I have never stopped listening to. I was in high school from 1991-95 and I didn't realize at the time, but I was witnessing the evolution of hip-hop in it's most acclaimed hour.

Most of my afternoons were spent watching Rap City on BET, recording it on VHS so I could remember artists like EC Illa, OC, Nas, Bush Babees next time I went to the CD store. I was always a fan of Rap City because it was on in early afternoons (right after school for me) and seemed to play any video by any artist that rapped.

A few videos stick out to me as transformative for me. OC "Times Up", Smif n Wessun "Let's git it on", Outkast "Git up, Git out", Ec Illa "On Ill", NWA "Always into Somethin", and Nas "Ain't Hard to Tell" were all videos that stuff out to me as interesting, among others. I was so into the sounds coming out at the time, that I flooded my CD collection with every cassingle and remix of everything that I could get in my small town.

These videos, CDs, cassettes and some vinyl carried me into my college years from the Rawkus era to the Bling era and the eventually to an era where all of the things I liked were suddenly underground. Master P, Cash Money and Suave House were gaining popularity at this time and seemed to have dominated every set of speakers on the street. I can't say that some of these songs weren't catchy, but I still wanted to hear the range of music I used to see on Rap City and heard from friends.

Flash forward 10 years later and things are not really evolving into anything I am interested in, in terms of mainstream music. Luckily, the internet has allowed me access to songs that I can decide if I like (most of the times I don't) by checking it out on Youtube or a million other sites. I find it hard to believe that folks like lil' Wayne (who I thought was cheese-mo as a kid) is considered one of "the greats". It seems like if it is not a Cash Money artist on the radio, then there is at least one of them as a guest feature.

Needless to say, I haven't listened to the radio in almost 15 years. I don't sit down and make it a point to write down an artist or listen to anything that isn't commercial free or catering to a 10 year old. It is sad that I have to scour the internet for "grown man" hip hop AKA non-money related or psuedo house music. I am still an avid fan of the "Golden Era" mentality and mindstate, but it is more difficult to find quality tunes in any public forum.

I realize that I sound like an old man and at 35, I know people think I AM an old man, but I find it hard to believe that people like Eminem, Kanye West, Busta Rhymes or any of these groups (who are also 35 or older) can want to make music that sounds like Casio synthy, tinkerbell songs when they grew up on the same thing I did. I wish that there was a television channel (not that I have a TV) for artists like 9th Wonder, Murs, Del and Hieroglyphics, Ruste Juxx, DJ Premier, Apollo Brown, Oddisee, I Self Devine or any number of artists who make a broader range of content in their music then what you will hear on the radio.

I know those days are gone, but it seems odd that groups like U2, Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney can keep making tunes and getting press, but if a hip-hopper older than 21 tries to make an album, nobody wants to hear it anymore. I do and probably will till I die. If I am the only one in a nursing home listening to "Sound Bwoy Buriel" then so be it. It makes me happy.

Apr 18, 2012

Shuffle Culture - The No Attention Span Generation: Hosted by Questlove

I recently read an article in the Village Voice about Questlove (of The Roots) and his hosting of a live performance of "Shuffle Culture". He is hosting a show hear in Brooklyn (BAM) on April 20 which features acts like Jeremy Ellis, Sasha Grey, D.D. Jackson, Rahzel, Kenny Muhammad, and Deerhoof. The line-up alone shows the various tastes that will be in the building and may open peoples minds to other forms of music and entertainment they may not otherwise know about.

Though Questlove is not the first one to notice the trend of "carrying around an entire record collection of all genres in your ipod", he is one of the most famous faces to speak about it, so it works. Exposing folks to music they have never heard or never took the time to listen to should make for an interesting experience. Despite the fact that anyone can Wikipedia research everything, then act like an expert, makes it hard to tell who really enjoys anything anymore or who just wants to appear to enjoy everything for "cool" points.

I am going to the show out of curiosity and I will report back what it is like to live inside of a rockstars ipod.

Apr 17, 2012

Nas - Behind The Music

There is something about the BEHIND THE MUSIC series that always makes me watch the full story of an artist that I already knew and somehow makes it interesting AGAIN. It is nice to see the BTM series do some features on the stories on legendary hip hop artists. Looking forward to seeing the full post at some point.

How Do U want It? - Tupac Hologram Madness

I have to admit that I didn't think I would ever be discussing a new Tupac performance in 2012, but the recent hologram performance at Coachella was amazing for many reasons. Reason one, it somehow makes the more standard rap show (where guest star verses are either edited out or cut the whole song short) more interesting to hear in its entirety. Reason two, cause it is mofo'n crazy what holograms can do these days. Technology had Tupac yelling to the crowd, doing his typical, shirtless on-stage moves and interacting with Snoop Dogg. How this can be accomplished in front of audiences and be captured on video without looking to unreal (at a distance) is pretty phenomenal.

Maybe, one day all of the greats can send an avatar to your hometown to perform while they lay on the beach somewhere or in their grave.

Question. Would you pay for or even want to see an all-hologram show if it featured Big L, Big Pun, Biggie Smalls, Jam Master Jay, Tupac, and other greats?