Another year has passed. As the ball dropped and everyone went wild, the first thing on my mind was how is the music of 2007 going toÂ top last year’s?
I have compiled a list, in no particular order,Â of seven albums that are guaranteed to please the ears.
1. Talib Kweli and Madlib – Â Liberation
2. Pharoahe Monch -Â Desire
3.Devin the Dude -Â Waitin’ to Inhale
4. Ghostface and MF Doom – Swift & Changeable
5. Little Brother – The Getback
6. El-P – I’ll Sleep WhenÂ You’re Dead
7. UGK – Underground Kingz
While James Brown is not exactly considered underground, “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business” hasÂ definitely had anÂ influence onÂ EVERYONE in the music industry.
Brown was not only a musical genius of soul and funk, but anÂ inspirational innovator.Â He is known as “The Most Sampled Artist in Hip-Hop.”
From Afrika Bambaataa toÂ Kool Mo DeeÂ to Cypress Hill to De La Soul toÂ 2Pac to Nas, Brown will be remembered and his music appreciated by billions ofÂ fans worldwide.
In tribute to the late J Dilla, BBE Music has teamed up with Imeem.com for an exclusive run of the new video from The Shining. “Won’t Do” can be viewed at JDilla.iMeem.com
The final version of the much-awaited video features Common, Will.I.Am, Black Thought, Frank N Dank, and J Dilla’s younger brother, John Yancey.
Offered along with the video is photos, and behind the scenes footage.
â€œJ Dilla was one of the most influential producers and artists in the hip hop music scene, and imeem is thrilled to be able to premier the video for “Wonâ€™t Do” and provide a community for his many fans to share, interact, and discuss all of his great accomplishments,â€ said Steve Jang, VP of business development and marketing over at Imeem.
Yes, you heard correctly, Madvillain is the next hip-hop star to be immortalized by his own action figure.
Toymaker, Kidrobot, and Stones Throw Records teamed up to create this giant-fisted figurine guaranteed to knock-out anything in its path. (This includes other Kidrobot creations: GorillazÂ and Q-Bert.)
It will be available in two colors on January 11, 2007.Â ItÂ coincides with the release of Chrome Children 2.Â Find outÂ more artist info around the New Year.
Check out other artists who will never live down there plastic careers:
Notorious B.I.G.; not one, not two, not three, but four
Public Enemey; Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Chuck D Exclusive, Flavor Flav Exclusive
It was the coldest day in New York City this past Friday, which could be why it is ironic that I found myself listening to DJ Eleven’s Summer Madness.Â One of the hottest tracks on the album is Devin the Dude’s “Lacville 79;” a song about his old beat-up Caddy.
While most rappers brag about their sparkling 22′s, here is Dude telling it how it is about his less than perfect car. You have to give him props!!!
Although born in St. Petersburg, Florida, Devin CopelandÂ spent the majority of his life in Texas. His southern country twang compliments his laid back flow like nothing I’ve ever heard before.
He paired up with Rob Quest, a blind rapper and producer, in the late 80′s to form the Coughee Brothas. The duo joined DJ Screw, later replaced by DJ Styles, and Jugg Mugg and became known as the Odd Squad.
The group was signed immediately to Rap-A-Lot Records in 1992 after CEO James Smith heard the groups demo. Their debut Â Fadanuf fa Erybody, released in 1994.
Unfortunately, the group’sÂ album did not reach the commercial success like they had hoped. Scarface, of Rap-A-Lot, approached Devin about being apart of his newÂ group, Facemob. After the one and only album releasedÂ in 1996, The Other Side of the Low, the group split.
Devin released his solo debut, The Dude, in 1998 and created a tremendous underground following. It also caught the ear of veteran producer Dr. Dre. In 1999, Devin joined Dre on the track “Fuck You” from the 2001 album.
Since then he has released Just Tryin’ ta Live, Chopped Up, and To Tha X-treme. He has worked with legends such as De La Soul, Raphael Saadiq, UGK, Nas, and Xzibit. His inspiration: Richard
PryorÂ and Skateboarding.
Check out Devin the Dude’s video for “I Ha.”
What should have been a night of honor turned into a night of anger, fear and general pissed-off-ness when the Justo Awards went wrong.
As previously reported, the 10th Annual Mixtape Awards, held yesterday (Thursday) at Harlemâ€™s World Famous Apollo Theater, were meant to honor the industry’s hottest mixtape DJs and underground artists as well as its charismatic founder Justo Faison who tragically died in a 2005 car accident.
However, as Allhiphop reports, the crowd wouldn’t even shut up long enough for a moment of silence for Justo as requested by actor/director Bill Duke.
“I loved him like a brother and I came here to give respect to him,” Duke implored. “He deserves one moment.”
When people loudly protested as DJ Clinton Sparks accepted his award for Best Club DJ, hip-hop founding father Luv Bug Starski (pictured) stepped in and put the children in place.
“If you don’t win,” he admonished in rhyme, “suck it up and take it on the chin.”
More pictures from the 10th Annual Mixtape Awards…
Photos: Eon Goddard
Several rap acts are up for this year’s PLUG Awards which recognize artists and music related media that don’t fit into the category of “mainstream.” The nominees for hip-hop album of the year includes the late J Dilla for two releases; The Shining and Donuts. The ceremony will take place February 10, 2007.
Here’s the other nominees for the category:
Cadence Weapon – Breaking Kayfabe
Dabrye – Two/Three
Dr. Octagon – The Return Of Dr. Octagon
J Dilla – Donuts
J Dilla – The Shining
Masta Killa – Made In Brooklyn
Mr. Lif – Mo’ Mega
Pigeon John – Pigeon John And The Summertime Pool Party
7L & Esoteric – A New Dope
Soul Position – Things Go Better With RJ And Al
Spank Rock – Yoyoyoyoyo
The Coup – Pick A Bigger Weapon
Other noms go to Mr. Lif for Best Album Art and Del the Funky Homosapien’s 11th Hour DVD for Best Music DVD.
Visit www.plugawards.com for a full list of nominees.
Stumbling into one of my favorite local music shops in Santa Monica, Hear Music on the Promenade, I became mesmerized by the track blasting from the surround sound. One of the salesman pointed to the large TV screen.
“It’s Wax Tailor‘s ‘Que Sera’,” he said. “His album, Tales of the Forgotten Melodies,Â has beenÂ ourÂ biggest sellerÂ this week.”
Wax Tailor, born JC Le Saout, released this debut album in 2005 on the French label Lab’Oratoire. It took nearly a full year to hit stores in the States (on DECON).
The spooky and organic flows of the entire album is some of the most phenomenal music I have heard since, well, the great composers of the past century, i.e. Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Most of the albumÂ is instrumental,Â mixed with a few key lines from cult classic films of the 1940′s, i.e. Alfred Hitchcock, whileÂ layered with jazz, soul, hip-hop, and blues.
On “Damn That Music Made My Day” Wax vents forÂ fifty seconds by mixing lyrics from early hip-hop legends, i.e. Public Enemy, Cypress Hill, and A Tribe Called Quest. “Our Dance” features the soothing vocals of the one, the only Parisian Charlotte Savary. The Others bless us with their presence on deux (two) tracks; “Where My Heart’s At” and “Walk the Line.”
Check out the video for “Our Dance” (courtesy of YouTube.com).
Ten years later, this familial trio is back by popular demand. Breezly Brewin, Buddy Slim, and Queen Herawin, a.k.a. the Juggaknots, released Use Your Confusion in late October. And although it seems that they might have disappeared for a while, fellow New Yorkers knew they weren’t sleeping!
They’ve been in the studio ever since the release of their debut album, Clear Blue Skies, in 1995. According to critics and fans alike, it was well worth the wait! Check out the album’sÂ trailer with the self-titled track, “Use Your Confusion,” as its backdrop.
The Juggaknots hooked up with Sadat X, Slick Rick, Wordsworth, and producer Oh No on Confusion. The album’s artistry isÂ a conglomeration of a decade’s worth of influence, innovation, and creativity!
Check out the tour dates on theirÂ Myspace page.
Most Americans are in the dark about the hip-hop scene, and maybe just the music scene period, in the United States’Â great northern neighbor.Â Well, please, allow me to shine some light.
Rob the Viking, Madchild, and Prevail make up Canadian supergroup, Swollen Members. Their debut album, Balance, was released in 1999 onÂ Battle Axe Records. It received incredible reviews, even though it took some critics as long as two years to get their hands on a copy. Featuring guest appearances from Evidence (of Dilated Peoples), Mix Master Mike, Del, and Everlast, they definitely have gotten off on the right foot.
Two years later, Bad Dreams, is released. It hosts several notable musicians, Chali 2Na (of Jurassic 5), Planet Asia, and The Alchemist. Listeners and critics agree the album’s highlights, includingÂ ”Full Contact” and “Ventilate”Â makes Bad Dreams “a great follow up to Balance.”
Monsters in the Closet is a collection of new and old remixes, revamps, and rebuffs. URB magazine gaveÂ the album optimistic reviews, whileÂ some fans were a little disappointed by the Members 2002 release.
Swollen Members were under a lot of pressure in the studio for the past four years. Black Magic was released in September and everyone has beenÂ praising the group’s comeback.
With an obvious fascination with the darkside (Bad Dreams to Monsters in the Closet to Black Magic), Swollen Members have used every facet of their imagination for inspiration. Whether it be Madchild’s obsession with gangsta movies (i.e. City of God and Carlito’s Way) or his musical influencesÂ of Willie Nelson, James Taylor, and Bob Marley; or Prevail’s philosophical interest into books like The Alchemist and Catcher in the Rye or his admiration for the legendary Fishbone; or the Viking’s love forÂ snowboarding and Orwell’s 1984; Swollen Members aren’t even close to ordinary. They can’t be, they’re Canadian.
Long Island duo, Darc Mind, have been the latest buzz. With the late-August release of Symptomatic of a Greater Ill, fans and critics are wondering what the hell took so long?!?!?!?!
Recorded between 1995 and 1997, when Loud Records came a-tumbling down, so did the hopes of Darc Mind of releasing the album as planned.
Nearly a decade later,Â Symptomatic is releasedÂ byÂ Anticon Records. Darc Mind’s debut albumÂ is a perfect combination of traditional gangsta rap and the then-emerging backpack rap.Â
MC Kevroc and Producer/DJ GM Webb D (a.k.a. X-Ray) have not been shy about promoting their late but great album. They were spotted with KEXP in New York City at the CMJ Annual Music Marathon.
So what ifÂ Symptomatic of a Greater IllÂ is a mere ten years behind? The album is a timeless classic from beginning to end. So stop complaining and listen to it already!
Planet Asia has been around since the beginning of time. Well, maybe not that long, but it sure seems like it. He is talented, has completed several projects, and worked with just about everyone in the industry. So whatÂ keeps Planet Asia underground?
It could be that he refuses to conform to what popular culture wants him to sound like. Or it could be that he enjoys playing in front of a smaller audience of faithful fans, than a larger crowd of fair-weather followers. It’s highly probable that it’s a combination of the two.
It’s very appropriate to callÂ Planet Asia’sÂ latest album “the grand finale” ofÂ The Medi-Cali Trilogy consideringÂ the title of his debutÂ LP, The Grand Opening.Â The Sickness and The Diagnosis were released earlier this year. The release of the final installment, The Medicine is what every Asia fanatic has been waiting for all year.
With special visits from Black Thought, Prodigy, Dilated Peoples, and production by Evidence, The Medicine might cure just about anything.
Although heÂ ventures away from Cali Agents partner, Rasco, that Fresno spirit is still present. And if you haven’t heard, be prepared to either love him or hate him, for all the same reasons!
Do you know why he calls himself Planet Asia? Find out here.
Is it true that Planet Asia worked for Amoeba Records? Learn the truth here.
I have listened to Black Ice’s The Death of Willie Lynch and try to get past the fact that spoken word is usually enjoyed as a performance, not as a recording. This talented poet is exactly that, a POET.
He was part of Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam on Broadway. Later on, Mary J. invited him to join her on “The Breakthrough Experience,” as the opening act.
As a poet, I have attended many poetry readings and am always amazed at how beautiful it is to hear the authenticity of theÂ author’s voice.
Black Ice’s poetry on The Death of Willie Lynch is phenomenal. However, I think its power of originality is lost when it is listened to repeatedly. Poetry is not meant to be read the same way everytime, especially not by the poet. It’s ability to adapt to the emotions of the authorÂ AND the audience is imperativeÂ to its delivery.
While Black Ice is deemed by critics to be “more coffee house than concert hall,” their are a few tracks that are much more traditional as far as ‘songs’ go. These are all tracks featuring artists/musicians/not-slam-poets (per se).
Black Ice uses his poetic abilities to express himself on the devastation of Huricane Katrina in “The Ugly Show,” lust inÂ ”TakeYaTime (f. Musiq Soulchild),” and familyÂ in “The Real.”
“I’m not just a poet. I’m a motivational speaker, I’m a debater, and I’m an MC. There are so many other elements to me. I’mÂ really just an artist,” Black Ice admits. Even I can agree with that!
It’s no secret that Nashville has been breeding talented musicians for the past century. However, it is somewhat surprising to hear a rapper spawn out of mostly country-rock territory. That could be whyÂ Dwight FarrellÂ doesn’t sound like anything before.
Dwight, more popularly known as Count Bass D, has been a musician since before he can even remember. Gaining a scholarship to the Wyoming Seminary Boarding School in Pennsylvania, he learned how to play multiple instruments. Growing up in the Bronx, London, and Ohio, Count felt the most at home in Tennessee.
It was his lyricism, however, that caught people’s attention. And in 1993, he landed a recording contract with Pete Nice (3rd Bass) and Bobbito’s Hoppoh imprintÂ on Columbia Records. Â
Using pure instrumentation (mostly played by Count himself), he released his debut album, Pre-Life Crisis. The success of the album remained underground, but this 21-year old MC was only at the dawn of his career.
Count spent the remainder of the 90′s fusing his creativity with other innovative artists such as Kool Keith and MF DOOM. He recorded and independently distributed 12″ singles and focused on performing at colleges and radio programs.
Count even co-hosted a weekly radio show on WRVU Nashville with Egon Alapitt (who now runs indie label Stones Throw Records) and assisted in managing the indie-rock label Spongebath Records.
Building up to the release of Dwight Spitz in 2002, Count proved to fans that he can work a beat machine just as well as his instruments. Rolling Stone declared Dwight Spitz a “headphone masterpiece” (February 2003).
Traveling around the globe a few times. Count has issued limited editionÂ albums which can only be found in Japan and the U.K. He has worked with Victor Wooten of Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, Grammy-nominated Van Hunt, and on MF DOOM’s Mmm…Food.
In 2005, Count released another cult classic; BEGBORROWSTEEL. Embracing the successful elements of his previous release, this album reflects his experimentation with talent inside and outside the hip-hop arena.
The Count is back with Act Your Waist Size. The album has an acquiredÂ taste. So pucker up and give it a listen!
Act Your Weight Size Review
Interview With The Count, Part 1
Interview With The Count, Part Deux
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The six gentlemen that make up the Los Angeles-based super-funk, super-fresh group, The Elevaters have proven to be moreÂ than musicians, but performers as well.
Miles Gregley, lead vocalist, has been known to add his hip-hop flavor. However, Miles has missed out on the last three Elevaters’ shows to pursue his acting career in the theater project “N.W.C.”
In no way shape or form, has this done any damage to the group’s stamina. With Ben Hall as Beatbox extraordinaire, David Noily on gui-tar, Sam Golzari as keyboardist, Itai Shapira on bass, and Andre Morton banging on drums, The Elevaters have made Miles’ absence invincible.
At 14 Below on September 29, 2006, Ben (A.K.A. Ben E. Beats)stepped up from his usual spot (to the right of Andre A.K.A. Jellyroll Morton) and pumped up the crowd. Mr. Simple (A.K.A. Sam)Â on keyboards grabbed the mic and made it his own.
One week later, they headlined at one of the hottest spots in Santa Monica, The Temple Bar. Dressed in black pants, white-collars, black ties, top hat, complete with suspenders, the remaining five Elevaters (minus Miles “Ellington”) rocked the crowds, yet again!
String junkies, David (A.K.A. Smokey Milk) and Itai (A.K.A. Magic Johnson), broke-out in separate solo’s that hushed the audience, but only long enough until the group joined back in with “Lady Love.”
It’s almost unbelieveable how popular The Elevaters are becoming. Most of them met in the theatrical halls of U.C.L.A. and started performing on the touristy Third Street Promenade. Next thing they knew they were playing at hot spots in downtown Santa Monica.
This past Thursday they made their debut at the infamousÂ Viper Room on the Sunset Strip. Part of Can of Jam, a centralized L.A. live music production company that helps local artists connect with other musicians and their audiences, The Elevaters continue Jammin’ at The Mint on October 28, 2006.
The group’s energy and musical brilliance reaches the audience during each song, at every performance! Be sure to check them out at a venue near you! If you aren’t in the area listen to a few of their tracks on their Myspace page and look out for their full-length album due out by the end of this year!
* Download and read Lori Bartlett’s encounter with The Elevaters inÂ September 29, 2006′sÂ Santa Monica Daily Press (p. 15).