Monday, January 31, 2011


Over the past few days, news has been spreading from news links, social media, and blogs about illness affecting Clive Campbell, the Jamaican-born icon known to the hip hop world as DJ Kool Herc.  It's a sad state of affairs because the troubles of Kool Herc are tied in to this ongoing health care reform debate.  From my understanding, Kool Herc is in need of immediate surgery and medical attention, and unfortunately, there is no health insurance for this strong pioneer.  So goes the proverbial hip hop story.  Record labels operate moreso as banks instead of musical partnerships, so it is something very rare indeed if an artist has insurance from a label standpoint.  Kool Herc is no different than the independent contractor who is self-employed, and may forego insurance coverage to handle a multitude of other bills or expenses, or just can't afford coverage.

This is a travesty on so many levels, because hip hop is a culture built on respect and history, and no other figure in the hip hop world deserves more respect.  Do the knowledge when it comes to Clive Campbell, his historic 1520 Sedgwick Avenue address, which is regarded as the focal birthplace of a culture I love, and how countless individuals have been influenced by him.  If you don't know, here are some basics, and I hope this gives you the impetus to find out more information about this very positive figure.  Born April 16, 1955 in Kingston, Jamaica, Kool Herc was surrounded and influenced by the sounds of local sound systems, and brought this musical aesthetic to Bronx, New York at the age of twelve.  His name was derived from being tagged as "Hercules" because of his stature and build, even at an early age.  The name Kool Herc was given to him once he joined a local Bronx graffiti crew called the Ex-Vandals, according to urban lore.  With the rugged nature of living in the urban jungle at the time, music was something that Kool Herc couldn't shake.  At some point, Herc, and his sister Cindy Campbell, started hosting parties at the infamous address that is highly regarded as hip hop's birthplace, 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Morris Heights section of Bronx, New York.  August 11, 1973 is the date credited as the unofficial date that ignited the hip hop fuse.  At that legendary recreation room party, Herc was spinning tunes that may have ranged from James Brown, The Jimmy Castor Bunch, Booker T & The MG's, and countless other joints.  The difference-maker for DJ Kool Herc was that he innovated and pioneered a style that up to that point wasn't showcased, highlighting and isolating "breaks" within the songs, pivotal points within a record where a bare percussive beat was played by the drummer, and Herc would backspin double copies of the same record to extend the beat, giving birth to the breakbeat for dancers to showcase the latest 70's dance moves.  Looking back, that blueprint is responsible for how true dj's rock a party in the 80's, 90's, and into the 21st century.  I guarantee there are a multitude of stories and events that can be highlighted as benchmarks within the hip hop diaspora when speaking of DJ Kool Herc.  I will write a much more comprehensive story on Kool Herc, because right now the important notion is helping out this brother, just as you may want to help out a family member.  He IS a family member, from the Hip Hop Family.

What my charge is for the hip hop community, and individuals in general, is to research first, then assist in whatever means possible.  There is a fund set up accepting donations, according to credible sources within the culture.  Donations can be sent to the following address:

P.O. BOX 20472

PayPal payments can also be forwarded to the sister of Kool Herc, Cindy Campbell.  The e-mail address for PayPal payments is the following:  I implore the hip hop community here in Baltimore, DC, Virginia, North Carolina, and beyond to donate and help.  Whatever you are able to help with, I am sure would be greatly appreciated.  No slight to new age celebrities such as Ted Williams and Antoine Dodson, but if individuals can garner endorsements and monies from relatively short-lived celebrity, why can't those that have devoted a great portion of their life to a culture that is responsible for an unfathomable amount of revenue for record companies and their ilk.  No being on a high horse or pedestal from me, because I am just as responsible as any of those making millions and millions from a culture that has been used, raped, and sometimes left for dead.  However, hip hop culture is resilient, as is DJ Kool Herc.  Show this dynamic brother that we all indeed love him and want him to continue, with God's grace, as the innovator and pioneer he is within the hip hop landscape. 


Credited sources:

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Is Baltimore Even A Part Of The DMV?


  With the 5th Annual DMV Awards slated for March 5, 2011 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, the notion that comes to mind as a true Baltimorean is the often discussed, yet sometimes swept under the rug notion of Charm City not being a part of the DMV.  With DMV being an acronym for DC/Maryland/Virginia, conventional thinking would be that Baltimore, being the largest city in the "M", would have to be a part of that ongoing conversation.  Unfortunately, that is not always the case.  From an outsider looking in, they may not truly understand the dynamics of Baltimore and Washington, DC as almost polar opposites.  I don't quite see it that way, but our two cities do have distinct differences, even though these cities are separated by a mere 38 miles.  Baltimore is a blue-collar city, so the personalities and ideals may reflect that, while DC, being the Nation's Capital, is more of a cosmopolitan locale.  Musically, Charm City is well-known for its Club Music scene, and the District of Columbia has Go-Go Music as its heartbeat.  Both are dynamic signature sounds that represent each city. 

     The issue gets trickier when you take into consideration that the music scene for the DC region also includes Northern Virginia and Prince Georges County (along with Montgomery County, Charles County, and even Anne Arundel County).  I remember living in the Annapolis area years ago, and I was quite shocked to hear the younger set blasting Go-Go from suburban speakers, instead of what I deemed as more traditional hip hop music.  Many individuals that I came into contact with in Annapolis considered themselves as part of the DC scene, even though Anne Arundel County is a part of the Baltimore Metropolitan Area.  Quite confusing indeed!  It can get much deeper, but I don't want to lose sight of the original discussion, so I may discuss the differing lines of demarcation at a later timeframe.

     With me being a part of the 80's Baltimore hip hop scene, I still had a great appreciation for what DC had to offer musically.  From Trouble Funk, E.U., Rare Essence, Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers, and even Junkyard Band, I loved the percussive nature of the music, which to me was a close cousin of hip hop.  But growing up in my blue collar city I didn't quite notice the same appreciation surrounding me.  Baltimore and DC have always seemed like two different entities altogether, with Baltimoreans saying DC was too far, and DC folks maybe not wanting to drive "up to Baltimore".    Either way, both cities and surrounding areas have much to offer, not only each other, but to the rest of the world. 

     Now the topic at hand is Baltimore's inclusion or exclusion in the DMV region.  I'm hoping that for the DMV Awards in March Baltimore is going to be represented, because we as a whole need to support each other.  It goes without saying that the debate will continue regarding DMV and DC/Baltimore.  Whatever you consider us, just make sure that you respect us!  I will be in attendance to witness the region's best artists from different genres, be it R&B, Hip Hop, and other categories.  I am sure that this year's 5th Annual DMV Awards will be a fascinating event because of the wealth of talented individuals in the District of Columbia/Maryland/Virginia region.  Tickets are available for this gala event, so visit htp:// for further information.  Support great music and artistry!

Monday, January 24, 2011



New Video----Talib Kweli, "Cold Rain"

Courtesy of MTV2 and my Okayplayer family is the new video from Talib Kweli, "Cold Rain".  This is a nice precursor to the full-length release of Gutter Rainbows for tomorrow, January 25.  Too bad I won't be using WorldStarHipHop for video clips any time soon! We'll discuss that issue a little later...

              "COLD RAIN"

First Quarter Expectations---2011

Hello Blogosphere!  Wisdom is back to surmise on expectations for the First Quarter of 2011.  Are those expectations GREAT or LUKEWARM?  From a musical standpoint, there are projects that I'm hearing about that are going to drop this first portion of the year. 

Talib Kweli is slated to drop Gutter Rainbows tomorrow, January 25th, and from what I've listened to thus far, Talib is still a force to be reckoned with in the hip hop world.  He is definitely one of my favorite lyricists, because he comes from a poetic aesthetic when it comes to his construction of rhymes.  Over the years, Talib Kweli has fine-tuned his delivery, once a jumbled collection of dope rhymes that took a little deciphering in order to understand, to a cohesive and smooth lyricist that should be on everyone's list as one of the best emcees. 

W.A.R. (We Are Renegades) by the incomparable Pharoahe Monch is slated for February, 2011, and I know, know, KNOW this is going to be dope.  Monch is one of those emcees who I NEVER question when it comes to material, because he has been an avant-garde lyricist since his early 90's Organized Konfusion days with another equally slept-on talent Prince Po.  This album should satisfy the tastebuds of those salivating over dope lyricism and brash, underground beats.  If his last release, Desire, is any indication of the direction for this album, then be on the lookout for an epic release. 

Chicago-based emcee and also a lyricist supreme Lupe Fiasco is finally releasing Lasers, after much delay due to label issues.  I've heard a couple of cuts, so I am pretty sure we are going to be treated to top-notch lyricism and eclectic production.  I'm just hoping that the direction of Lasers doesn't venture into TOO much pop territory.  I don't want to witness Lupe falling into that proverbial trap of trying to satisfy the masses and sacrificing his ultimate artistic vision. 

February, 2011 is also the expected timeline for the release of Arms & Hammers from Left Coast artists Strong Arm Steady.  Strong Arm Steady is a dope collective of like-minded emcees Krondon, Mitchy Slick, and Phil Da Agony.  Very underrated, but highly talented, Strong Arm Steady should be a crew to watch in 2011 and beyond due to their lyrical talents and dope beat selections.  I'm looking forward to this release!

The two largest entities in hip hop are destined to join forces on an epic album:  Jay-Z and Kanye West.  I'm hearing that March, 2011 is the anticipated release of Watch The Throne.  I have no words for this as of yet, because I'm salivating at the prospect of upper echelon talent such as Shawn Corey Carter and Kanye Omari West on an album together.  Truthfully, I was a little underwhelmed by "H.A.M.", the just-released joint from these two powerhouses.  I guess the stakes are so high with these two together that anything less that a five-star production is a total disappointment.  I'm not going to bet against Jay and Kanye, because I'm sure these two are going to pick up where their collaborative efforts on The Blueprint 3 left off.

Jean Grae is poised to release Cake Or Death, a creative title for newest release in March, 2011.  Not only one of the dopest female emcees, but one of the dopest emcees PERIOD.  If you haven't witnessed the cleverness and delivery from Ms. Grae, just pick up Cake Or Death when it is released.  You will be a believer at that point, trust me!  To get a taste of just how off the wall Jean Grae is from an intellectual standpoint, just follow her on Twitter under @JeanGreasy.  I'm hoping her free-thinking ways will translate to an album that will garner critical and monetary attention.

Raekwon is set to follow-up his 2009 release Only Built For Cuban Links...Part II and 2010 trio album Wu-Massacre (along with Meth and Ghost) with Shaolin Vs. Wu-Tang, an album entirely devoid of production from RZA, the mythical head of the Wu-Tang empire.  I'm hoping that the musical backdrop for this album serves Raekwon well.  The album is slated to have lyrical contributions from Ghost, Method Man, Inspectah Deck, and Black Thought from The Legendary Roots Crew!  Sounds like a potent concoction indeed.  This album should see release March 8, 2011.

The return of Goodie Mob is something that hip hop fans have been clamoring for over the course of the past decade or so.  With Cee-Lo experiencing much success outside the realm of the Goodie Mob umbrella, it's only fitting that he join forces with his Dungeon Family brethren to give the Dirty South and everyone else what is needed in today's lukewarm musical climate.  I believe that the album is mostly completed, with a March/April 2011 release scheduled.  If it isn't released this quarter, I'm not upset, because I want this as yet untitled project to be worth every dime invested.  I'm sure that it will be a dope release.

Blu is a slept-on, and relatively unknown entity from the Left Coast.  Along with producer Exile, among others, Blu has been crafting very unique and dope music, reaching a pinnacle with Below The Heavens in 2007.  His 2011 release will be entitled HerFavoriteColo(u)r/The Godlee Barnes LP, with Godlee Barnes serving as the production alter-ego for Blu.  The album is a fourteen-song collection of the inner thoughts of an emcee.  Look for the double LP/CD release March, 2011.

Will we EVER see the release of the Saigon album The Greatest Story Never Told?  February 15, 2011 is the timeline for the oft-delayed album to finally see the light of day.  I'm hoping that the delay hasn't spoiled interest in this album, which created so much buzz in the industry a few years ago.  Under the guidance and production of Just Blaze, I'm hoping that The Greatest Story Never Told holds up to its advanced billing.  We shall see.

Smif-n-Wessun AND Pete Rock together for an entire album?  Monumental is the aptly-named project featuring sole production from Soul Brother Number One himself, Pete Rock.  This album has been in the making for the past few years, and will see its culmination with a February, 2011 release.  "Prevail" is the first single released, featuring Raekwon, and it is indeed a banger.  The rest of this album should follow suit, so cop this joint when it is released next month!

Along with these albums, there are countless other releases slated between January-March of this year.  This should make for a pretty interesting 2011 in hip hop.  Let's hope for the best!

Saturday, January 1, 2011


It's a New Year, filled with anticipation and prospects.  For the hip hop landscape, it is no different.  2011 is upon us, and I foresee many positives on the local and national hip hop scene.  I want each and every one of us as artists and consumers to respect the craft, and take a look forward at what this 2K11 timeframe has in store.

From a local standpoint, there are some artists to seriously consider as viable hip hop talent.  Gods'illa, a DMV hip hop collective of like-minded brethren, has been on the underground circuit in the DC region for quite awhile, having performed with hip hop luminaries such as Brand Nubian and the Duck Down collective.  2010 saw this very talented group release the debut Up And Up Presents...Gods'illa:  The Album.  The album is dope indeed, and I am fortunate to have seen them perform and interview Acem, Truth, and Powerful, the three who collectively form the breakout group known as Gods'illa.  I am sure that this group will be on the national hop hop radar on a grander scale, spreading conscious hip hop.  You can follow Gods'illa at'illa.  They have a nice Twitter presence and following.  Also check their UAU Open Mic Series at Club Liv in DC. 

Also hailing from the DMV region is Phil Ade', a crafty and talented lyricist signed to the 368 Music Group imprint helmed by Raheem Devaughn.  2010 saw Phil Ade' release his very quality mixtape The Letterman.  The standout track that 93.9 WKYS blasted during the second half of the year was "Toast 2 Life", featuring Kevin Ross on the silky smooth vocals.  The anthemic tone of the song was accentuated by sharp, witty lyricism, a staple from the artist known as Phil Ade'.  With the DC/MD/VA area supporting this dynamic talent, he is poised to showcase immense abilities on a broader scale in 2011.  He can be followed via Twitter at

A little closer to homebase here in the Baltimore area there are artists on the rise that deserve serious attention here and elsewhere.  The name that should garner immediate attention is Mullyman, an artist who has been on perpetual grind mode for the better part of the 21st Century.  Recently relocating to the music mecca of the South, Atlanta, for more visibility and networking opportunities, Kevin Muldrow is setting himself in position to do bigger things for 2K11.  With his Harder Than Baltimore album circulatimg throughout the underground, and media exposure on MTV2 and other outlets, it only makes sense that the new year will place Mullyman on the national stage.  With Major League Unlimited as his independent base, the business side of this tried and true lyricist is in a good state.  Mullyman can be followed at

In Baltimore, say the name Nephew, and you will find a faithul following.  Nephew brings an energy and vigor to a scene often noted more for Baltimore Club than true hip hop music.  Witness this artist perform numerous alvum and mixtape cuts, and you will see how the audience reacts to his spirited persona.  Phewturistic Biography set the stage for a full-fledged takeover.  It will take one time, and one time only, to feel the passion behind Nephew as a reality-based emcee.  From personally witnessing his ascent through the Baltimore underground, 2011 and beyond holds promise.  Listeners and consumers can trace the steps of Nephew via

Jade Fox is a name that rings volumes around this region.  She is not only a dope female emcee, but a DOPE emcee period.  She has been trudging the underground scene for a good while, blending sharp lyricism with sometime eclectic musical stylings.  Her most recent mixtape offering, JFK Mixtape Vol. 1:  Eternal Flame, is a collection of original beats, allowing it to feel more album than actual mixtape.  On the mixtape, she flexes lyrical muscle over production from dope peoducers such as UnheardOf and Tytanium.  With her model looks and rugged lyrics, Jade Fox brings a unique perspective to the hip hop game, because there is indeed substance beyond the allure.  She is poised to unleash her talents on an unsuspecting hip hop world, and I envision the next twelve months as the launching padf or Jade Fox on the national front within this hip hop spectrum.  Look for this complete package on

On the national hip hop radar, there are a few individuals to look out for this year.  I base this off of certain criteria:  buzz, potential, lyrical ability.  The first artist that comes to mind is a NC emcee that goes by the name of Rapsody.  She is a potent blend of lyricism and wit, with a razor-sharp delivery.  She comes from that MC Lyte, Jean Grae, Bahamadia school of true underground hip hop.  Truthfully, I've been noticing this 9th Wonder protege for a few years now, going back to 9th's Dream Merchants album.  What struck me about her was 9th only including her in a few snippets between actual songs, but the snippets were better than some of the actual material!  Not taking anything away from the artists on that slept on 9th Wonder compilation joint, but Rapsody showcased how dope she was from that standpoint on sheer lyrical talent in just a few seconds with each snippet.  As part of the NC collective known as Kooley High, Rapsody has been a key component on various group mixtapes and albums, including the most recent Kooley High release Eastern Standard Time.  More recently, Rapsody has released her anticipated solo offering, Return Of The B-Girl, a free downloadable joint that raised a few eyebrows.  Her buzz is definitely apparent, it is just a matter of time before this North Carolina-based artist has the ears of the hip hop nation.  Once that occurs, listeners will catch more than just a glimpse of the lady known as Rapsody.  Check her out via

Another emcee creating a buzz through media outlets is Dee-1, a New Orleans-based artist.  He is what you would consider a thinking man's emcee, bringing thought-provoking imagery to the forefront of his lyrics.  Want proof?  "Jay, 50, & Weezy" could be deemed as a track looking to promote hip hop beef, but it is just the opposite.  When I first witnessed the video to this gem a few months ago, I was instantly amazed at how Dee-1 positioned himself as a witty, clever lyricist that could actually stand toe to toe with other industry behemoths.  The song is a testament to this notion, because it actually is a wake up call instead of an actual diatribe or verbal attack.  Dee-1 is a force to be reckoned with, and the world outside of the N.O. will soon catch wind of his verbal dexterity.  David & Goliath was the first independent album released by Dee-1, garnering praise throughout the Louisiana underground for his dope lyrical content.  I Hope They Hear Me and I Hope They Hear Me 1.5 are also attention-grabbing mixtapes released by this independent artist on the rise.  Visit Dee-1 at to see what this former middle school teacher is about and to connect with him.  I'm sure that the hip hop world will be blessed with Dee-1 on the horizon, ready to bring his Louisiana viewpoint to the world.

There you have it, local and national hip hop artists that are on my 2011 and beyond radar.  Each emcee mentioned has a unique flair, talent, and God-given ability, and I strongly believe that Gods'illa, Phil Ade', Mullyman, Nephew, Jade Fox, Rapsody, and Dee-1 are poised to have a larger impact on the hip hop nation during the next twelve month period.  Remember, artistry is not necessarily about numbers, so looking for first week Soundscan results comparable to Eminem may be an unfair assessment.  What I believe these artists possess is the ability to bring a different, positive spin on this thing we call hip hop, and I think that the Hip Hop Nation as a whole is ready, willing, and able to deal with some upliftment and mental challenging.  There are others that are poised to do big things in 2011, so if you know of an artist that has the potential and drive to be a true hip hop artist, let us know!  The Jay Electronicas, J. Coles, Lupe Fiascos, Georgia Anne Muldrows need company as newer artists with equal buzz and artistry.