Archive for the ‘Nostalgia’ Category

Earl Sweatshirt: on ‘Tyler, the Director’, ‘Taco the Socialite’.. More Great Stories (Uncensored w/ Rosenberg @ SXSW 2013)

June 7, 2014

This summer’s Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago features a somewhat predictable, but well-chosen lineup of popular hip-hop talent.  Among them is a young, creative and rap genius, who’s been at the top of my “must-see in-concert” wish list for over two years: Earl Sweatshirt from Odd Future.  Although Earl’s not headlining  the final day of the reputed #PitchforkFestival (duties being handled by Kendrick Lamar, who deserves many of the same compliments critics afford to Earl Sweatshirt), if the majority rock/cross-genre concert audience was to have only one “ambassador” to grassroots hip-hop music gracing the roster, I would want it to be Earl.

Not simply because of the numerous, reputed (and controversial) comparisons of Earl to a young, Illmatic-era Nas, but also because of his apparent humility and authenticity, and intelligence… qualities that are lacking among many aspiring and current stars in today’s rap game: land of the incessant #CoolandTough fuckery… Rosenberg is also well-aware of what Earl could be to the world hip-hop community 10 years from now (whether Earl gives a shit or not).  Intrigued enough for a continuation to their first interview in spring 2012, which was held almost immediately upon Earl’s return home to the surprise of OF’s massive success from a completely different reality, Rosenberg caught up with Earl in Austin during SXSW…

In the living room of Earl’s Austin, TX rental for the week- along with one of OF’s ‘elders’, Domo Genesis, offering anecdotes as he rolls up off-camera, and without consistent interruption from Tyler, Rosenberg leads an unadulterated, non-PC follow-up to his 2012 Hot 97 Interview to address peoples’ unanswered questions.. most of which lead to entertaining narratives for fans who follow Odd Future… This could be the first time I’ve laughed through a YouTube video that’s more than 10 minutes long, let alone 20.. Rosenberg manages to unearth comments from Earl on his top-5 emcees, the “garbage” some of he and Domo’s OF comrades listen to, plus impressions of Taco mingling with Hollywood’s red carpet club- all in his own brand of dry humor that works perfectly with Rosenberg’s style… Great stuff:

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Vintage Video: O.D.B + Busta Rhymes’ Impromptu Public Cypher

April 26, 2014

By the looks of things, specifically Busta Rhymes’ slender build, and the Tommy Hilfiger and Helly Hansen jackets scattered about the audience, I’d say this video is about 20 years old, from 1994-95…  If so, BR unveils a verse that would become part of his famous, hit debut single “Got You All in Check” and continues to freestyle after it’s over.  The vintage nature of the shoot is also evident in the fact that Old Dirty Bastard appears in “Brooklyn Zoo” form, dropping punchlines during his heyday, before going overboard with aliases.. and crack cocaine.

The owner of the video labels it a “battle” when it’s clearly not… but it’s nonetheless rare footage of two now-legendary hip-hop icons still on the rise, entertaining the public at a time when they were hiphop’s next generation…

 

#FridayFix: 5-Year Memorial … [Part 1]

January 8, 2013

Like most people, I’m prone to fits of nostalgia at the turn of a new year and, more personally, day dreams about how my life might be different (for better or worse) without the occurrence of certain events and milestones… Searching the seedy back-alleys of Google Images during “Christmas break”, I coincidentally managed to unearth a gallery of fliers from Public Axis’ founding endeavor, “The Friday Fix” at Medusa Lounge- the small, stageless, aesthetically-perfect venue’s first and only live hip-hop showcase- which ended abruptly a little more than five years ago after a solid 24-month run.

jun2007

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Here and there, the event played host to traveling independent acts like Qwel, Substantial, Cymarshall Law and Flex Mathews, but The Friday Fix trademark was its dedication to (and in some cases, introduction of) top shelf, Philadelphia-based underground emcees.  It was also marked by emphasis on quality over quantity, mixing and matching 2-3, diversely talented artists on each month’s bill in an attempt to continually weld respective fan bases into a cohesive “scene”.  At its pinnacle, rosters were booked five months in advance, and the potential for disappointment rested not on unheard-of performers (now a contemporary plague, see: too many rappers), but on Medusa’s moody speaker system.  Ironically, the only potential for disappointment in the eyes of the bar’s owner was the high-likelihood of well liquor, blunt smoke, and spectator-emcees galvanizing unplanned cyphers and improvised sets that scared away all Spankrock fans among her hipster regulars (which my regulars loved).

apr2007

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Good timing was at the root of the project’s success.  Along with the inception of 215HipHop.com, “Hip-Hop Lives” on first-Fridays, various !llvibe Collective monthlies, the activities Karma Response Unit Records, and wherever Reef the Lost Cauze was performing, FF played its part in creating an underground subculture outside the red tape of Clear Channel events and the influence of commercial radio-endorsed “crack-rap” that already laid claim as the “Philly hip-hop scene”.

oct2007

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Most importantly, and back to my original point, each flier triggers its own collection of memories that, in retrospect, carved my niche in the Philadelphia music scene and still today embody my company’s business model.  If it weren’t for this event and the relationships made through it, it’s very possible that I’d be a different person, living in a different city with a different career.  Without caring what “different” could mean, I’m thankful for Jim Redz, John Kahn, Young Harrison, Nex Millen, Portia (I still want to marry you), everyone that rocked without a promise of compensation, THOR Takeover, and the former members of Beat Garden Entertainment for helping to perpetuate this every month for two years…

Over the next few weeks, there will be more posts to come on the most notable installments of The Friday Fix…

mar2007

#1 Instrumental Hip-Hop Album of 2012: *Cool Story, Pro* by Small Professor

December 31, 2012

On a hazy weekday afternoon circa 2005, during my occasional routine of MySpace “window-shopping” for undiscovered emcee talent to book on upcoming events, my attention was jolted by the name of a young, Philadelphia-based producer known as Small Professor.  My initial reaction, ignorantly misguided by his avatar of a vague, low-res ‘Wheelchair Professor-X’, was, “Okay, so is dude a paraplegic and/or scientist moonlighting as a beat-maker?  [Why else would someone justify such a bold appropriation a hip-hop pioneer’s namesake?]  …Whether an expression of homage or a convenient opportunity for self-deprecating humor, I better hear some BEATS.”

 Small Pro-black&white pic

Within minutes, my apprehensions dissolved in the echoes of Small Pro’s “Jamal Gray” instrumental (first track on the mix from link).  Its sublime harmony was most impressive for how perfectly it catered to Jamal Gray, aka THE LAST EMPEROR, our (coincidentally) mutual favorite emcee.  In the following seasons, Small Pro’s gift for absorbing specific techniques from a pack of influences and retrofitting them to a heavily melodic style.  Turning away from overdone 808’s and synths that suffocate the soul/funk/jazz elements inherent to Hip-Hop music built distinguished resume of contest victories and concept-based remix projects, plus instrumental collections, complete with irreverent titles and eccentric imagery, all of which amassed critical acclaim online for their musical vision and cohesive presentation.

…As the timeless saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.  For the forward-thinking Small Professor, the value of a melody is quite the same…  Since the early-2012 release of his Gigantic, Vol.1, MC compilation album, Smalls has continued to harvest his fan base through Bandcamp with a trilogy of sequels to 2011’s reliable Jawns instrumental projects, setting the tone for his latest musical evolution, Cool Story, Pro

csp1+2 (500x2)

Cool Story, Pro is not a drastic departure from its preceding releases, but it’s much, much more than an arbitrary collection of great hip-hop beats.  Best appreciated when played in its undisturbed entirety, each chapter of the glowingly soulful, 25-track opus is coupled with implicit titles like “She’s The One (I Think)”, “Signs”, and “Get Over It Already.”   The titles, as complemented by the dreamlike ambience, moody drums, and emotional vocal samples that weave throughout them, guide the listener through a kaleidoscope of all the sentiments that highlight the timeline of a romantic experience.  To me, Cool Story, Pro could play as the beginning-to-end cinema soundtrack to a love story that needs no dialogue… and subsequently wins ‘best movie’ at the Sundance Film Festival.

MHz – A Legacy

October 30, 2012

With all the hysteria surrounding Meek Mill’s and Kendrick Lamar’s recent, breakthrough studio albums, it’s likely more than a few good projects will be trampled in the crowds.  Rallying behind ‘mainstream’ debuts of the underground’s young champions is almost instinctual, but today bears another landmark release deserving of attention from grassroots hip-hop’s most fervent supporters… The MHz Legacy LP showcases Copywrite, Tage Future, Jakki Da Mottamouth and RJD2 working together on an album for the first time in well over a decade despite the passing of their most charismatic member, the late Tero Smith (aka Camu Tao).  While “unsung” isn’t a strong enough comparison for the buzz of this release against that of Dr. Dre’s and Rick Ross’ protégés, a cult following of fans have been waiting for another MHz full-length since before K. Dot spit for Punch, before the first Flamerz mixtape was pressed to CD.

Clockwise from top-left: Copywrite, Tage Future, Jakki, RJD2… Click to hear new album on iTunes.

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Before Tero’s untimely death presumably sealed the fate of the group, collaborations and accomplishments of its solo entities solidified their reputation as some of underground hip-hops finest- even without more than an appropriately titled Table Scraps album under their collective belt.  Early MHz vinyl singles were a cornerstone of the pioneer independent label, Fondle ‘Em Records, which laid way for Copywrite and Camu Tao to be catalysts in the rise of Definitive Jux Records as leaders of the Weathermen conglomerate with El-P, Tame One, Cage and others…

Camu Tao w/ Aesop Rock… Click for Camu’s posthumous Def Jux release, King of Hearts

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I’m certain “Kendrick Lamar is going to change the game” is a frequent comment among hip-hop circles right now.  The ambitions today’s generation of purists has for volcanic underground acts like K. Dot, Danny Brown and Slaughterhouse are tantamount to the expectations many fans had for the Weathermen 10 years ago…  In fact, imagine a more dynamic, bugged-out version of Slaughterhouse, and you’ll have MHz…  Now more than double the number of group members, and you’ll have the Weathermen.

Although I haven’t had much time to digest MHz Legacy, it’s so far the evolution I’d hope for after such a long hiatus.   For the most part, they make no failed attempts at recreating the dusty, lo-fi ambience of their original catalog; and although the Camu Tao’s psychedelic influence is absent from this project, it seems each track was produced with the question, “how would Tero want this to sound?”, in mind.  Clever wordplay, electric delivery and edgy soundscapes are still the group’s trademarks, once again amalgamating into a forward-thinking aesthetic that challenges hip-hop’s contemporary norms.

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The Lost Public Axis Podcast (2010)

April 26, 2012

Sometimes, regression can be a good thing- like this podcast for example…

Assembled this summer 2010, Overhead & Undersells is a collection of  leaks, remixes and other unreleased joints- most of which are appearing for the first time on a cohesive project.  Amidst a cavalry of releases from Small Professor, Zilla Rocca, and Curly Castro during, and since the time this was compiled, the 40 minute gem mixed by DJ Son Raw fell on the backburner for a while, but it’s too nice to be forgotten.  And with the onslaught of expectation-challenging material still to come from the artists on this mix, Overhead & Undersells serves as a marker for some of the earlier aesthetic milestones of these artists’ ever-elevating sounds.

DOWNLOAD: Overhead & Undersells… Thanks to Fresh from 33 Jones for hooking up the cover art!

Public Axis Podcast Volume 1

Some of My Favorite Show Fliers

January 5, 2009

This first is a crazy flier from ASK? in celebration of Reef the Lost Cauze and Nico the Beast’s dual CD release party in April 08.   I challenge anyone to make a rap show promotion that looks more like United States currency………..

Side note:  this is the first time I’ve ever been bribed for a performance slot on a show.  This Patra look-alike approached me at the entrance (I hate working the door at my own shows) with a $20 bill that looked like it had been used everywhere besides someone’s ass.  When I resisted, she upped the ante with another $20.  I told her she couldn’t pay me $400 for a spot and she started crying.  Al Mighty swooped in like he was Camden’s Dr. Phil and somehow appeased the situation without any sexual advances…  Nothing but class over here.

After 12+ months of scowering the darkest corners of the Google Images database for backdrop photos to use on FRIDAY FIX fliers, this one was too great to pass on any longer.   I’ll never forget the look on the Staples clerk’s face when I submitted this one for print.

One of DJ Akshun’s best designs to date.   The concept’s self-explanatory, unless you’re more obvlivious to pro-basketball than I am.   College hoops is much better viewing, but fuck it.  I doubt eveyone would have recognized plays on the St John’s, Villanova and Georgetown logos.

All the way back in July of 2006 when I was still living a free man (which actually makes it seem like 5 years ago).  First and only live  hiphop show at the Bubble House, with the exception of Innermission 215’s spoken word series.  Props to Lauren Lopez on the design- I think this was her first and only flier not done for a hippy music show.


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