Wednesday, May 30, 2012


D.J. Jazzy Jeff.  Jeffrey Townes.  The best DJ in the world.  My biggest influence in hip hop (next to Awethentic and Speech).  Since I was a sophomore in high school, Jazzy Jeff has been on my radar because of his cutting edge techniques on the Technics (pun intended).  Again, he is the best DJ in the world.  I can go on and on about his influence on subsequent turntablists, but I won't.  This Fuse Crate Diggers episode shows Jeff in his vinyl element, musing over his obsession with records.  He doesn't necessarily consider himself a digger, but a lover of records and music.  He just happens to have a large amount of records in his Illadelph arsenal.  Watch this dope nine-plus minute video, courtesy of Fuse and YouTube.  Just viewing this has inspired me to continue on that neverending quest for vinyl and records.  I don't have the close to twenty crates of records any longer, but the love will ALWAYS be there. 


Watching this dope Fuse TV episode of Crate Diggers, you find just how serious music is to the one christened Peter Phillips.  Pete Rock has amassed an awe-inspiring amount of records over the past few decades (reportedly in excess of 100k).  Coming from the same crate-digging aesthetic as Soul Brother #1, I can truly appreciate his total dedication to the craft.  It seems that looking for that perfect sample is not revered like it once was, but that's okay.  There are quite a few beatsmiths still looking through dusty vinyl or now utilizing technology to the point of searching from an online standpoint.  Either way, Pete Rock shows the hip hop world exactly why he is one of the dopest ever.  Look at the video courtesy of Fuse, and watch some other episodes of Crate Diggers.  ONE LOVE VINYL AFICIANADOS!


Nasir Jones has done it again.  He has crafted another thought-provoking joint with "Daughters", a song I can surely relate to at this point.  What more can you say about his prolific career?  Of course he has some missteps along the way, but who doesn't.  His trajectory within hip hop is almost unparalleled.  He has almost made an entire career on sheer lyricism.  "Daughters" is another feather in that pimped-out, Don-inspired cap that Nas has been wearing since the 1990's.  Like the title implies, the song is his fatherly perspective on having a daughter.  He doesn't sugarcoat the topic, but instead speaks the realistic view on his position as a very famous father with a daughter that has to deal with growing up in her father's far-casting shadow.  The picture painted by Nas is vivid, as usual, and those brothas within the hip hop diaspora with daughters, young and older, can surely relate.  Crafted by No I.D., the song is a great marriage between beat and rhyme.  The video, directed by Maryland native Chris Robinson, is a look through the eyes of Destiny Jones, the teen daughter of Nas.  If this is any indication of what to expect from Life Is Good, the tenth studio album for the dynamic lyricist, we should have a gem on our hands when it is due to be released July 17th.  Looking at this video, I think about my own twenty-year old daughter who is coming into her own as a young woman in this shifting world of ours.  I'm glad that I'm getting that opportunity to witness this next phase in her life.  On that note, I say peace to all the brothas within hip hop culture that are strong fathers and shining examples for their daughters.


I feel for Lupe, I really do.  Fam gets so much backlash, even though he is one of the dopest lyricists to enter the realm of hip hop over the past decade or so.  Even on his worst day lyrically, he will run verbal circles around the majority of the game.  So what exactly is the problem?  There are a few layers to this somewhat complex story that need to be addressed to give a little clarity.  The latest issue to come to the forefront is the Lupe Fiasco track "Around My Way (Freedom Ain't Free)", the slated first single from the album Food And Liquor 2:  The Great American Rap Album.

Taking advice from his business partner and manager Chill, Lupe decided to put a spin on the Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth classic "They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)", rhyming over an interpolated version of the iconic Pete Rock creation.  Per the unspoken rules of hip hop, this was a definite no-no.  Why?  Didn't Pete Rock sample the bulk of his song from a Tom Scott joint?  I believe that the issue is two-fold.  The first issue of contention was utilizing such a dope joint that had special meaning for Pete and crew.  Just looking at some of the subsequent tweets from Pete Rock, you get that sense that he felt that the song itself is an untouchable one.  I tend to agree with this mode of thinking.  As a hip hop head, there are certain songs that you just don't touch, no ifs, and or buts.  "They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)" is one of those untouchables.  The second issue that I believe comes into play is Lupe and camp reaching out to Pete Rock for input/blessing.  This is up for debate, because Lupe contends that he tried to reach out for support from Pete Rock for the project, but The Chocolate Boy Wonda doesn't agree.  I'm not exactly sure what to think in this instance.  My thought process when I immediately found out about this controversy was for Lupe to hit up Pete or vice versa.  What we have instead is a relatively quiet back and forth banter between the artists.  Pete using Twitter to voice his displeasure on the less than stellar beat remake; Lupe going on Sway In The Morning to vent because of Pete Rock's reaction to the track.

It makes for good blog fodder, but I'm not one for the negative back and forth.  Hip hop does have its issues that need to be addressed.  I hope that soon, the two entities in question can come to an understanding about this latest Lupe "fiasco".  Truthfully, I don't think Lupe meant any harm whatsoever.  I think the issue is more generational than anything else.  Remember, for VH-1 Hip Hop Honors, when Lupe was selected to pay homage to the venerable A Tribe Called Quest.  He at first was apprehensive because he wasn't an avid Tribe fan (that caught me off guard given his lyricism).  He later relented, at the request of Q-Tip.  What transpired during the show was Lupe forgetting some of the Phife Dawg lyrics to "Electric Relaxation".  He spent a good while explaining away that unfortunately unforgettable performance.  I still remember though Lupe, but it's cool. 

Bottom line is that Lupe, for all of his talent and quiet bravado, is at a crossroads.  He is not as young as this newer crop of artists within the hip hop world, and he is not quite old school.  His new album will be a make or break joint.  L.A.S.E.R.S. was a disappointment in my eyes (the musical backdrops didn't live up to the lyrical barrage we come to expect from a Lupe Fiasco).  I'm hoping that he returns to a more organic sound with the appropriately named Soundtrakk.  I'm hoping that he is able to balance artistry and business so that it doesn't impact his creativity.  I'm hoping that he doesn't abandon his left of center lyrics for a more emo-way of rhyming, which will cater to a less than palatable music.  These are just the musings of someone that truly respects Lupe.  I laud him time and time again, be it on Twitter or on my blog, because I feel that an artist of his caliber comes around few and far between.  At this point, the wave that Lupe Fiasco was riding has now been occupied by a certain Cali artist with the name Kendrick Lamar.  Lamar is now the chosen one, and he is handling his career properly from my vantage point.  I can't say the same for Lupe.  Can he reclaim his rightful place within hip hop, or has the tide turned (continuing with the surfing analogy)?  We will find out Summer 2012, barring any more Atlantic Records issues.  Right now, the album release is slated for September 25th. 

In closing, I have so much respect for BOTH Pete Rock and Lupe Fiasco.  Pete Rock will go down in lore as one of the dopest beat maestros in the still relatively short history of hip hop culture.  Lupe Fiasco will be hailed as one of the dopest lyricists that hip hop has ever seen.  BOTH artists can learn a thing or two from each other, and once the egos and bravado are put to the side, I sense that some truly dope things can come from this latest "fiasco".  What do you think?

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Watch The Throne still has plenty of life, with Jay-Z and Kanye releasing the long-awaited video for "No Church In The Wild".  I've been plotting my own treatment for this video since the album debuted August 8, 2011.  Listening to the Frank Ocean-crafted hook, and fusing that with the retrospective lyrics, makes for a potentially dope video, if handled properly.  I'll keep my videography skills at bay for the time being, as French director Romain Gavras was enlisted to bring the song to life visually.  You won't find Ocean, Jay, or Yeezy in the video, but what you will see is powerful imagery that has a world appeal.  The video was filmed in Prague, Czech Republic in April.  Let me know what you think of the video.

One Love!

Friday, May 25, 2012


I can't believe that the event of all events for my favorite group EVER will soon be upon us.  The 5th Annual Roots Picnic, at cool Philly spot Penn's Landing, will be happening June 2nd and 3rd (which also happens to be the SAME WEEKEND as The Capital Jazz Festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion).  Well, I'm hoping to make that 90 mile trek up I-95 North to the City Of Brotherly Love.  At The Roots Picnic, "brotherly love" will surely reign (of course we're not leaving out the beautiful sistas).  Brotherly love, as in a shared love and passion for musical styles, will be the modus operandi.  DJ Low Budget, one-half of the Hollertronix with Diplo, provides the musical mixture for our listening pleasure.  The mixtape is an amalgamation of music from a diverse set of artists, such as The Roots (of course), Wale, De La Soul, The Tune Yards (get to know them NOW), Rakim, The Beastie Boys (R.I.P. MCA), Danny Brown, Kid Cudi, and countless others. 

If I get the golden opportunity to FINALLY experience the Picnic up close and personal, I will make sure to bask in the glow of all the artists I've been wanting to see for years.  De La and Rakim comes to mind when I say this.  Before I digress any further about the virtues of Golden Era Hip Hop 101, I will allow the D-O-P-E mixtape offering from Low Budget to speak volumes.  Enjoy the Soundcloud-assisted joint, allowing it to be a precursor to the good things on the horizon at Penn's Landing on June 2nd and 3rd.  One love to my Okayplayer family for supplying the goods, as expected.  Okayplayer has a way of spoiling its tried and true followers.  Glad I'm a Charter Member (check the resume AND technique blogosphere)!  Membership has its benefits (pun is proudly intended).  Don't forget to cop tix for the 5th Annual Roots Picnic (shameful plug), and witness a slew of artists sharing the stage with the dopest hip hop group PERIOD.  One love blogosphere!

Monday, May 21, 2012


> Camp Lo x Ski Beatz – Fort Apache (EP) - Photo posted in The Hip-Hop Spot | Sign in and leave a comment below!

I have an affinity for the sonic creations of Camp Lo and Ski Beatz.  Ever since the Camp Lo classic debut Uptown Saturday Night, the synergy has been quite apparent.  Ski has always had his nimble fingers on the pulse of Camp Lo's heartbeat, providing a cinematic soundtrack part retro and part neo.  What you get is a dope concoction of filtered musicality and avant-garde lyricism steeped in abstract wordplay.  It should come as no surprise that the six-cut EP, Fort Apache, is a dope piece of hip hop for year 2012 and beyond.  If this is any indication of what to expect from these creative cats in the near future, then the rest of the hip hop community should take notice.  Camp Lo still has something to say in their quirky, whimsical, slick, fly manner, and tight jeans and swagger won't change that perception.  In conjunction with DD172 and BluRoc Records, Fort Apache is brought to the world as another piece of the Camp Lo puzzle.  Take a listen at Fort Apache and let the music speak for itself.  Special thanks for the Dame Dash-sponsored DD172 and BluRoc Records for continuing to push the envelope.  It seems that Dame is more interested in art instead of strict commerce. 




Nasir Jones is doing special things in 2012 and beyond.  He is set to release another video from his tenth studio album, Life Is Good.  "Daughters" is Nas' open letter and confessional about a subject he knows about all too well.  With his daughter Destiny now a teenager, Nas reveals yet another side to his complex facade with "Daughters".  Judging by the overwhelming response from this new song release, I take it that Nas is on the right path.  Here is a behind the scenes look at the making of the video for the song, courtesy of Complex Magazine.  The video is being directed by Maryland native Chris Robinson.  Stay tuned for more from Nas.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


The place, Gaston, North Carolina.  The year, 1936. A star was born.  This star shined brightly for seventy-five years, and it won't be dimmed any time soon.  That star was the Godfather of Go-Go.  Chuck Brown touched so many lives during his unprecedented reign, leaving an indelible mark on a city, a music, a people, and a culture.  Sample Sunday, where I commonly share the links between old and new, can't do justice to the influence of the great Mr. Brown.  It will take MUCH more than a simple sample-based posting to touch on just how deep this musical icon is entrenched in the fabric of DC and surrounding areas. 

Let me start off by saying that I owe much of my introduction to Chuck Brown (and The Soul Searchers) to my long-time friend, musical colleague, and DJ partner Awethentic.  When he moved from Northeast Washington to East Baltimore in the mid-1980s, he brought with him a vast musical knowledge and deep crates of vinyl.  He single-handedly fueled my fascination with diggin' in the crates for beats and breaks.  We would forge a life-long friendship that had its roots in a shared love of hip hop, and music in general.  We would spend hours, day and night, searching for that break that we could sample in the Casio SK-1.  Archaic by today's standards, but VERY effective during those heady high school hip hop years.  Finding beat after beat, break after break could be a daunting task, and we searched high and low for music from many genres.  Of course, with Awethentic coming from that DC aesthetic, he would always hip me to something go-go related.  The name Chuck Brown ALWAYS came up, along with Trouble Funk, E.U., and Rare Essence.  DC Scorpio, The Junkyard Band, and others permeated the DC scene, and seeped into my B-more state of mind.  Of course, it still led back to Chuck Brown.  When we would venture to various local record stores in the area, like Music Liberated, Charm City Records, Jet Set Records, and countless others, we found some gems.  Like it or not purists, Ultimate Breaks and Beats was a great teaching tool for budding hip hop heads.

If you don't know by now, this multi-volume collection of obscure, and not-so-obscure, records was somewhat of a catalyst for myself and Awethentic, because we would now have another weapon in the arsenal to create what we felt was ahead of the curve hip hop.  Now how does this all relate to Chuck Brown, you may ask?

Ultimate Breaks and Beats, Volume 12 included The Soul Searchers classic entitled "Ashley's Roachclip".  The Soul Searchers was the funk-influenced, go-go infused outfit that Chuck Brown led as lead vocalist and guitarist.  "Ashley's Roachclip" appeared on the second album release from The Soul Searchers, Salt Of The Earth (1974).  Salt Of The Earth was an album on the Sussex Records imprint, refining the sound that The Soul Searchers brought to the masses with their '72 release We The People. 

"Ashley's Roachclip" is so dope.  I realized that when I was a little East Baltimore tyke.  I realized that when sifting through dusty vinyl with Awethentic.  I realize that now even more with the unexpected passing of the go-go icon on May 16th of 2012.  The intro flute, courtesy of Soul Searchers member Lloyd Pinchback, made way for close to six minutes of funk and acid jazz fusion.  The instrumental was classy and classic, and it served as the basis for SO MANY hip hop-based productions.  "Jackin' For Beats" by Ice Cube.  "Down The Line" by Nice & Smooth.  "Set Adrift On Memory Bliss" by the oft-maligned P.M. Dawn.  I can go on and on, but there are a couple of creations that warrant attention.  Exhibit A is a very familiar joint to hip hop heads:  "Jack The Ripper" by LL Cool J (included as a bonus track on the album Walking With A Panther).  This 1987 diss record, aimed at old school pioneer and lyrical wordsmith Kool Moe Dee, upped the ante on the seemingly neverending battle between the two emcees.  Rick Rubin, along with Dwayne Simon, Brian Latture, Steve Ett, and LL, contributed to the production of this song that could be found on the 12" version of "Going Back To Cali".  It served as a response to the Kool Moe Dee diss "How You Like Me Now", and is another cog in the machinery that has been LL Cool J.

I can go on and on (and on and on) about the sonic beauty of "Jack The Ripper", but there is yet another joint that also carries the DNA of "Ashley's Roachclip".  Take a look at Exhibit B.  "Paid In Full", from the 1987 4th & Broadway album of the same name, was a perfect marriage of beats and rhymes for Eric B & Rakim.  "Thinking of a master plan" was the dope lyrical intro by Rakim Allah, and it set the tempo for the one verse manifesto of arguably the dopest lyricist the hip hop world has ever seen.  Credited production for the song was Eric B & Rakim (I'm not quite sure if Large Professor or Paul C was part of the production equation at the time).  Nevertheless, the song has indeed served as the template for merging lyrical and sonic entities.

Exhibit C, from the same Golden Era of hip hop, comes from the Kings from Queens, Run-DMC.  "Run's House" is another gem that owes its sonic life to Chuck Brown and The Soul Searchers, liberally sampling a portion of "Ashley's Roachclip"  Hearing the booming voices of Joseph Simmons and Darryl McDaniel over one of the dopest hip hop joints ever never gets old.  This song has also managed to sound fresh into the 21st Century, even serving as the backdrop for the MTV-based show of the same name, "Run's House".  Tougher Than Leather, the 1988 follow-up to Raising Hell, was deemed as another feather in the fedora hats of the Queens-bred trio (R.I.P. Jam Master Jay).

Much respect due to all the mentioned entities in this Sample Sunday edition.  Rest in beats to Chuck Brown.  You have left a legacy that is undenied and unmatched.  From nothing, you created (along with a few others) a musical sub-genre that is most definitely DC in nature and sound:  dark, gritty, energetic, rhythmic.  I will never forget your contributions to go-go and funk music.  You are an icon.  You are The Godfather of Go-Go.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012


No person in hip hop is more deserving of accolades and appreciation than The Roots ?uestlove.  I have so much admiration for his musical IQ and acumen.  As most of you already know by now, I am a huge fan of The Roots, from ?uest to Black Thought, and each of the interchangeable players that have performed with the Philly collective over the past few decades.  A Day In The Life:  ?uestlove follows Ahmir Thompson through a busy day, resulting in over twenty-three minutes of candid footage and dialogue.  Watch and enjoy the next 23:01, courtesy of Hulu.  This is Episode 10 from Season 2 of A Day In The Life."> name="allowFullScreen" value="true">" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"  width="512" height="288" allowFullScreen="true">


Thursday, May 10, 2012


Cass Corridor Films is the responsible entity for the "Rebirth Of Detroit" trailer, signaling the June 12th arrival of the new J Dilla project.  Maureen Yancey, mother of Dilla, has been very instrumental in keeping the legacy of her talented and highly revered son alive, with his passing in 2006.  Fans worldwide still regard him as one of the dopest producers ever within the hip hop community (and music in general).  His widespread fanbase has developed into a cult following, because his musical production in a short period of time has indeed stood that test of time.  I'm definitely looking forward to the June release of the new project, culled from music produced before illnesses took their toll on James Yancey.  With May being recognized as Lupus Awareness Month, it is only fitting for the unveiling at this time of this most anticipated album.  View this trailer leading up to the album, directed by Oren Goldenberg.  You can follow Ma Dukes (Dilla's mother) on Twitter for more info regarding his J Dilla Foundation at the following:  @OfficialMaDukes.  Peace to the lasting legacy of one of the greatest:  J Dilla!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Your favorite rapper's favorite Christian rapper has a new project droppping soon on May 10th.  Lecrae Moore, known in the hip hop and Christian music world as just Lecrae, will be unveiling Church Clothes to the gospel and secular worlds, hopefully to great fanfare.  The mixtape, released through Reach Records (founded and co-owned by Lecrae himself), will be hosted by DJ Don Cannon, and this will be the first official Lecrae-based mixtape.  Lecrae takes a decidedly secular approach when making and marketing his music.  Truth be told, nothing is wrong with this approach, because his message is crystal clear:  making sure that the masses take hold of his words.  I don't see Lecrae as the preaching type, but someone who is real with his lyrics and image, and that is the key to him making that move across Christian/secular boundaries to be accepted and embraced.

The new video that recently dropped for the project is also titled "Church Clothes", with a few cosigns from cats such as underground phenom Kendrick Lamar (who really is taking that next-level step along with Lecrae) and 9th Wonder.  I remember an internet convo I had with 9th via Okayplayer about him possibly working with a Christian hip hop artist, and him not really considering that as an option at the time.  That conversation came about because of my dope NC cousin J Real (who is also a Christian hip hop artist using the genre to spread the Good Word).  Shout out to J Real for hippin' me to Lecrae.  He was on my radar a few years ago, but J gave me a real lesson on who Lecrae was as an artist that was trying to blur the lines of the music, making sure that he was staying true to his ATL by way of Houston roots AND delivering a poignant, spiritual message.  "Church Clothes" is just that joint to be street and tabernacle at the same time.  From his appearance on the BET Awards Hip Hop Cypher to now, Lecrae is poised to make noise, a joyful noise to say the least!  Enjoy the video from this Grammy and Dove Award-nominated artist, and support Church Clothes.


Monday, May 7, 2012


When you hear the name "Black Hippy", envisioning flower power wrapped in a cloak of ebony could be the thought process.  When you hear the collective Black Hippy, billowing clouds of smoke and dark, visceral flows would be closer to the truth.  Comprised of four unique, individually dope emcees, Schoolboy Q, Ab Soul,  Kendrick Lamar and Jay Rock, it seems that the time is right AND ripe for the emergence of a younger set that focuses more on skills and less on this invisible force named swagger.  The de facto leader (at least lyrically) from this lyrical quartet is undoubtedly Kendrick Lamar (last name Duckworth), who instead of using a contrived moniker, utilizes his birth name, giving creedance to the notion that he is an artist focused on substance.

Born and raised in Compton (nod to the West Coast pioneer DJ Quik), Kendrick Lamar Duckworth absorbed his environment like a hip hop sponge, taking in the good, bad, positive, negative.  Images of Compton are often of the slanted media type:  murder, mayhem, drugs, single mothers raising children, gang activity. Lamar didn't necessarily subscribe to this imagery, even though he has indirectly been influenced by his environs.  Who wouldn't be?  Good student.  Both parents in the household.  However, there is a dichotomy within Kendrick Lamar.  Witnessing uncles playing with guns.  Having a father that was part of the infamous Chicago gang Gangster Disciples.  This dichotomy, this duality, is what has been evident internally for the extremely talented lyricist.  What all of these elements did, from his birth in 1987 (when I was a seventeen year-old lad immersed in the burgeoning artform of hip hop) to the present, was created a very honest, introspective, reflective artist, part of that lineage from Nas to Lupe (and a few in between).

Top Dawg Entertainment was fortunate enough to identify and cultivate the talents of a young Kendrick, signing him at age sixteen to a deal.  Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith, a Nickerson Gardens resident, founded TDE on basic hip hop principles:  Charisma, Substance, Lyrics, Uniqueness, Work Ethic.  This five-point gameplan can now be found in the TDE studio, a constant reminder of the REAL keepin' it real mantra.  Over the course of a few years, Kendrick Lamar was able to create such an undeniable buzz, starting with Youngest Head Nigga In Charge (when he went by the nomenclature K. Dot).  That mixtape title alone solidified the thought process for the talent, leading to his signing with Top Dawg.  Training Day followed a couple years later, a mixtape compilation of twenty-six joints birthed from the mental of Kendrick Lamar.  C4, influenced by Weezy's Tha Carter III, dropped to critical acclaim on the underground circuit.  The path was being laid for Lamar to infiltrate the underground ears with complex, multisyllabic rhymes.  (O)verly (D)edicated was the the joint to forge a love affair with hip hop purists and lyrical aficionados, especially with the dope cut "Ignorance Is Bliss", where Kendrick Lamar discussed so-called gangsta rap, but punctuated each verse with that credo (ignorance is bliss).  This painted the picture of the deeply conflicted, and illuminated the pen game of Mr. Duckworth.  This probably was the catalyst for Kendrick meeting with Andre Young, known to the music world as Dr. Dre.  The album with the most buzz, yet most likely to never come out, Detox, was on the radar, and this undoubtedly opened doors to arenas, figuratively and literally, that may have never been offered previously.  More good, better yet, great things, were in store.

Being included in the vaunted XXL Magazine 2011 Freshman Issue did nothing but propel Kendrick Lamar into the conversation as one of the great young emcees of the day.  Section .80, a very, VERY dope mixtape, or rather album that, in my humble opinion, was one of the strongest releases PERIOD in 2011, traveled the information superhighway, making frequent stops on its online voyage.  The standout on Section .80 was a powerful manifesto from Kendrick Lamar, "HiiiPoWer".

"HiiiPoWer" showcased elements of a revolutionary 'Pac, poetic Nas, and fluid Souls Of Mischief, neatly wrapped in raps beyond the earthly years of Kendrick Lamar.  Listening to the song is one thing, but watching the video, directed by Fredo Tovar and Scott Fleishman for Aplusfilmz, brought the vividness of the words to life.  There was a more in-depth meaning with the song and video than putting out a dope joint.  Kendrick attributed the song to a dream, where Lesane Parish Crooks visited him.  According to man accounts, this Lesane Parish Crooks was the name placed on the birth certificate of Tupac Amaru Shakur, one of the biggest influences for Lamar.  Deep indeed.  One of my favorite songs and videos at the moment, to say the least.  Section .80 also included other dope joints, including "A.D.H.D.", "Rigamortis", and "Kush & Corinthians", among others.

Kendrick Lamar could have utilized Section .80 as a proper album introduction, hailing him as the next coming, but that is just not the case.  I believe that he is prepping an album for the ages in Good Kid In A Bad City.  How apropo of a title.  Even with the machine now behind him, with Interscope, Aftermath, and TDE all taking part in the unveiling of the proposed 2012 release, I feel that Kendrick Lamar is just the artist to not let the hoopla get the best of him.  He was able to survive in an environment that has claim all too many victims.  He has been able to bring the art of lyricism to the forefront in a place and time where lyrical skills are not as important as that overused four letter word:  S-W-A-G.  He will be prepared for the long haul, because he is the coming...of Kendrick Lamar.  Not another Tupac.  Not another Nas.  Not another Drake (whatever that may be at this moment).  Just Kendrick Lamar.  Nothing more, nothing less.  The world will be a better place for the coming of Kendrick Lamar indeed.



In this day and age of continued racism, police brutality, and blatant profiling, something as profound as The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 is STILL a necessity.  I'm from that school of the black fist raised high and proudly, symbolizing strength in a race and color that continually fights for equality, even with President Barack Obama at the helm.  Showcased at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011, this collection of archival footage featured revolutionary rhetoric from the likes of Angela Davis, Bobby Seale, Kathleen Cleaver, Huey P. Newton, Stokely Carmichael, and others.  Hip hop heads such as Talib Kweli and Erykah Badu also spoke on the ills that affected the masses.  Giving it spin of it being a mixtape, and being scored by Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson and Om'mas Keith, you get the picture of how a movement forty years ago is still relevant to this day.  The footage was discovered in the basement of a Swedish television station after decades of being in the dark.  Watching this historic footage on 16mm film gives it that feel of grimy, gritty times in the 1960's and 1970's.

Goran Hugo Olsson is the responsible party for comprising The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975, putting together a film that will stand the test of time undoubtedly.  With civil unrest occurring close to home in smaller locales such as Cambridge to larger urban areas like Baltimore, this film brought the images front and center for everyone.  Even in 2012, the climate of this film can still be felt far and wide, with unrest seemingly at every turn within Black America.  In the midst of the Trayvon Martin saga, watching this film will reaffirm that the struggle continues, and we all need to do our collective parts to alleviate those struggles.  Even outside of Black culture, this film has much importance for ALL segments of the population.

Watch this trailer of The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975, and be sure to cop the movie online or in physical format (if possible).  Special thanks to Okayplayer for being a catalyst in making the hip hop community aware of this very important piece of documentary.  BLACK POWER!


First and foremost, I want to send out my deepest condolences to the Yauch family and the Beastie Boys for the passing of Adam Yauch, known to the musical world as MCA.  Less than a month after being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, his untimely passing has shocked the hip hop community, and entertainment in general.  His presence, both from a musical and philanthropic aspect, will be missed.  The Beastie sound will always endure, namely because of the vision of MCA in forming the collective as a punk outfit at the end of the disco era.  Hardcore punk was burgeoning, and this new, undiscovered artform that really didn't have an identifiable name, was slowly bubbling on the underground.  It came to be hip hop, and the Beastie Boys were ahead of the curve, as three white cats with the musical aesthetic placed their stamp on hip hop culture.

One of the things that set the Beastie Boys apart was their embracing of sampling as a viable musical tool.  Going back to their infancy stage with Def Jam, sampling has been a staple of MCA, Ad Rock, and Mike D.  Not to say that was the only thing they focused on, because, again, these cats were musically inclined, and they incorporated that musicality into their various projects and albums.  One album that I'm inclined to focus on is the 2004 To The 5 Boroughs, released on Capitol Records.

This album, a collection of sixteen prime cuts, was a testament to the group's allegiance to their home turf (especially after 9/11 a few years prior).  It also showcase the the Beastie trio handling the production, instead of collaborating with outside entities.  This made for a unique listening experience, with To The 5 Boroughs sounding like simplistic, futuristic retro (if any distinction can be made for this album).  A standout cut on the album is Track 14, "The Brouhaha".  This two minute, thirteen second joint is vintage Beasties, with each emcee (and indeed, these three are the very definition of emcees) tackling the track like the hip hop professionals they are.

"The Brouhaha" is a layered cut, taking the body of its sonic construction from the 1967 orchestral entitled "Love Is Blue", by Paul Mauriat.  Mauriat was a French pianist and orchestra leader of Le Grand Orchestre de Paul Mauriat.

This orchestral collective reworked the Andre' Popp cut (originally titled "L'Amour Est Bleu"), making it the perfect joint for the Beastie Boys to utilize for "The Brouhaha".  Elements of orchestral music, semi-psychedelic, and easy listening made "Love Is Blue" the song of the moment during the latter part of the 1960's, with the Mauriat-led tune charting at #1 for five weeks in '68. 

Included on the 1967 album Blooming Hits, released on the successful imprint Philips Records (a subsidiary of the great Philips conglomerate), the single has sold over one million copies worldwide.  Blooming Hits has also reached that milestone, showing the international acclaim that Mauriat had with his music.  The Beastie Boys definitely dug in the crates for this gem, mining music that is often overlooked from a sampling notion.

I'm sure that we will not see the last of the Beastie Boys, even with MCA transitioning to that next hip hop dimension.  Visit for all things Beastie.  On the home page you will find a touching tribute to Adam "MCA" Yauch, and you can also view video, discography, and other pertinent pieces of Beastie info.  Also, cop that newest Beastie Boys treat, Hot Sauce Committee Part 2.

Peace to those that have viewed my Sample Sunday series, and I vow to continue until there is no more sampling to discuss...the sampling saga continues!


Musical Links:

"The Brouhaha":
"Love Is Blue":

Saturday, May 5, 2012


Filmed in 2004, and released to critical acclaim in 2006, this concert film is dope, utilizing various video clips from those in attendance for a Madison Square Garden homecoming of sorts for the Beastie Boys.  With the passing of MCA, it would only be right to see the hip hop triumverate in their element, showcasing hip hop in its purest sense. 

Beastie Boys - Awesome I Fuckin Shot That from Karsten Elmer on Vimeo.

Special thanks to Vimeo for having this full-length joint available!


Vimeo Link:

Rest In Beats-----MCA From The Beastie Boys

It came as a shock to hear about the passing of a hip hop pioneer, MCA from the legendary Beastie Boys.  Adam Yauch, known to the hip hop and music community as MCA, was only forty-seven years of age, succumbing to cancer of the parotid salivary gland May 4th.  Over the years, the Beastie Boys were able to stay relevant and true to their own roots, blending hip hop, punk, and electronica aesthetics into a cohesive blend not seen within the scope of music in this day and age.  From Licensed To Ill to their most recent Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, the group has laid a path for hip hop heads to follow.  MCA definitely was a guiding force within the crew, directing videos under the pseudonym Nathanial Hornblower, along with contributing lyrics and musicality to the Beastie Boys sound.  That sound isn't readily categorized, and you can attribute that to the group having a musical sensibility that hip hop didn't really have in its infant stages, at least from a purist aspect.  Because the Beastie Boys were a punk music outfit in the late 1970's before signing to Def Jam in 1985, they were able to bring an element not seen in hip hop at that point.  MCA, Ad Rock, and Mike D paved the way for musicianship and eclectic sampling within hip hop and beyond, influencing The Roots, Pete Rock, Large Pro, Q-Tip, Kanye, The Pharcyde, and everyone in between.  Even in the 21st Century, at a time when the younger hip hop set looks at anyone above thirty as "old school", MCA and the Beastie Boys were able to carve out their own niche, sounding retro yet fresh and innovative with each release.  "Triple Trouble", from To The 5 Boroughs album released in 2004, is a testament to their fun, innovative, and true to their hip hop roots mindset.

This post is not an obituary for MCA, or the Beastie Boys, for that matter.  The philanthropic works of MCA and his musical brethren will live on, from their political causes in Tibet to the war in Iraq.  Even with the recent Occupy Wall Street movement, MCA was very vocal, making a recent NYC appearance on behalf of the Occupy stance.  Less than a month ago, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted the Beastie Boys into its organization, making the hip hop trio only the third hip hop group to be inducted (along with Run-DMC and Public Enemy).  I don't believe that we will see the last of this group, because music is still to be made, and causes are still to be fought for in this day and age.  I'm sad though that I didn't get that golden opportunity to see the group at the Virgin Festival at Pimlico Racetrack in May 2007.  I still recall that day being one that, as usual, I had to work like a slave to become a master.  I relish the notion that the Beastie contingent, led by one of the founding members, showed the B-more crowd what true hip hop was all about.  If you don't know what a Beastie Boys event is like, take a look at the 2006 documentary/concert footage Awesome:  I Fuckin' Shot That (taken from 2004 footage of a Madison Square Garden concert).  I will post that entire concert footage for the world to see. 

Peace to MCA...your influence is wide, your legacy is intact, your music is dope.  Thank you for being the true embodiment of hip hop culture, no matter race, creed, or background.


Source Credits:


Wednesday, May 2, 2012


His music has been sampled numerous times in hip hop, and you may have never even noticed.  He has written for top-notch artists, and you may have never attached his name to their projects.  You may listened to his music on "Quiet Storm" formats throughout the years, but never knew the name behind the vampy chord changes and smooth, melodic vocals.  Remember "Good Love" by Anita Baker, sampled by A Tribe Called Quest for "Stressed Out"?  If not, get familiar with the name Gary Taylor.

I've been such an avid fan of Gary Taylor for the better part of two-plus decades, and just like the Taylor-penned  classic for The Whispers "Just Gets Better With Time", he indeed has been a timeless commodity within the music world.  Nine albums deep into a discography that many soul artists would be envious of, starting with the 1983 debut G.T. and 1987 album Compassion, this artist continues to paint aural pictures at his own crafty pace.  He is set to release a new collection of romantic cuts for the mature, grown, and sexy sector, Acoustic Therapy.  I am certain that this album will continue that tried and true path that Taylor has mapped out since the latter part of the 20th Century. 

There are quite a few albums within the catalog that I am very fond of, especially the 1998 release Love Dance, which included a favorite with the same title.

After listening to this song for the first time, I had no choice but to buy the CD (that's right, a compact disc for my 21st Century digital music lovers).  I managed to play that CD over and over AND OVER again, helping to calm the sometimes savage beast that is Wisdom.  The musical family that houses the talented Gary Taylor is Morning Crew Music, the Los Angeles-based imprint that has been an integral part in the musical career.  Hands on is an understatement when speaking of Morning Crew, because it has that familial spirit that is missing in mainstream, contemporary music.  That is not by accident.  If anything, Morning Crew is just an extension of Taylor and his musical aesthetic.  Morning Crew Music, I've had the wonderful experience of witnessing, will provide that personal touch that harkens back to bygone days within the music sphere.  Visit the website to view the vast discography and information about Gary Taylor for proof:  I've had music sent to me via mail within a few short days directly from the Music Crew family, with a personalized message attached to my purchase, making that selection one that will stay within my mental forever.

I know there are quite a few seasoned individuals, mostly women, that have a familiarity with Taylor and his music.  I've had conversations about his collaborations, albums, and lack of touring opportunities.  One thing I can safely say about Taylor is that he ALWAYS has a demand for live shows, so Taylor visiting the DMV region on May 13th is going to be a special treat for fans and newcomers alike.  The Birchmere, in Alexandria, will be the place to be for all to witness his quiet genius.  I say quiet because he lets the music, sometimes ambient, sometimes atmospheric, speak on his behalf.  Since I was an quiet, intellligent lad of thirteen, Taylor has been giving the audience what they desperately want, and need, on his own terms.  He doesn't let pressure or sales dictate his musical production.  The outcome is an organic piece of artistry that stands on its own two musical feet.  Those two feet have slowly, yet surely, stepped into a musical space that is occupied by a select few, so select that I can't even divulge any names at the moment. 

I'm glad that Taylor has forged a path of chance, not giving in to any industry indulgences to dilute his music.  When Acoustic Therapy is released for the world to experience, that title will be aptly applied.  Listening to Gary Taylor over the years, at least for myself, has been an acoustic therapy, and I am excited AND grateful for him occupying that sometimes lonely place within music.  Gary Taylor, I salute you!  You are indeed worthy of this Gemstone Series story!


G.T. (1983)

Twitter:  @gblackness

Photos courtesy of Morning Crew Music website




Definition:  a condition or achievement that is longed for; an aspiration

Unsigned is a 78-minute hip hop documentary detailing the aspirations and dreams of up and coming emcees on the underground circuit.  It gives a voice to those who may only be heard on local mixtapes or ciphers with other budding lyricists.  It is a rare sight when these individuals are given the opportunity to speak about their respective passions and how that equates to being underground, unsigned talents.  No matter location, gender, subject matter, or modes of hip hop expression, the stories are similar, because the ties that bind them are one and the same:  a love for hip hop culture.  Directed by Ri-Karlo Handy, Unsigned is a needed documentary, even if it is a little rough around the edges.  No matter, the ultimate goal has been achieved by Handy, placing the cameras on hungry artists, allowing the lens to narrate the stories along with the persons involved.  Five years after its making, this documentary has much validity within the unsigned, independent world of hip hop music.



Courtesy of Snag Films (@SnagFilms), you can view the informative documentary entitled Becoming BarackThis 41-minute look into the years leading up to the election of our nation's first Black president is a dope introspective.  With the impending November primary election looming, it is a good opportunity to see what America, specifically Black America, fell in love with when it came to President Barack Obama.  Hopefully this short viewing will spark more dialogue, and guide those without any designs on voting to the polls, in order to make their respective voices heard in this most important of elections.  Special thanks goes to director Robert Yuhas and executive producer Stuart A. Goldman, who collectively brought their vision to the viewing world.  From the urban environment of Chicago to the social dichotomy known as DC, President Obama was, and continues to be, a dynamic figure for the disenfranchised and middle class denizens.