Shake The Dust @looseluggage @saturdavejake @nas #hiphop

I came across this documentary about breakdancing because Nas was somehow involved with it and it caught my eye.  It turns out that Nas executive produced the film, but I can see why someone like Nas would pay to get a film like this out there for people to see.  Shake The Dust is an international documentary that highlights b-boys and b-girls from across the world.  This film was so inspiring because it tells real stories of people in Colombia, Cambodia, Yemen and Uganda, but not in a light where they were victims.  Hip hop started out in the park, but it was created by people that were focusing their attention, passion and creativity on creating a new culture.  The same can be said for each person interviewed in this doc.  All of the interviewees had a common thread where hip hop/breakdancing was their outlet that pointed them in the right direction.  It's much more real than I was expecting because first it highlights how much hip hop means to these people who have very little.  Then, it proceeds to tell the story of several unique and special human beings.  Then, at the end, it focuses on how hip hop gave these b-boys and girls the confidence, how it has shaped their lives and what they've learned from it.  The most poignant part of the film, in my opinion, is how mature, level headed and humble these amazing people were.  They haven't become rich from dancing, but they know that they have been connected to something larger than themselves and you can see how grateful they are.

In the United States, it's so easy to lose sight of what's import because there are so many distractions.  But the young people in this film give a good reality check and reminder of how lucky we all are.  Every thing in our lives can be an opportunity to do something spectacular and every trauma is an opportunity to have an excuse to give up hope.  One of the young men in the film quoted Ghandi and it's so appropriate to this point:

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world" 

 

Now live it

shakethedust.org

looseluggagemedia.com

 

Ronin

Black Messiah @thedangelo #music

black messiah.jpg

Black Messiah, D'Angelo 2015


Contrast Black Messiah with To Pimp A Butterfly and I think it's clear that the racial bias, structural racism and police brutality have a heightened sense of importance in our country right now.  Who you speak to will determine if they think it's long overdue or that it's an over sensationalized trend of bad apple police officers.  Regardless, it's impossible to ignore what's currently going on within the United States.  If you're familiar with the blog, my tweets, etc, you know where I stand on this, but that's not what this post is about.

Black Messiah is what I was hoping for from To Pimp A ButterflyBlack Messiah is musically forward, diverse, representative of the times and it emphasizes issues similar to To Pimp A Butterfly.  The transitions are so smooth that you will be abruptly disappointed when the last track ends.  D'Angelo's rightfully renown career has been resurrected after setbacks which nearly prevented his art to continue.  I fully expected D'Angelo to make it to the level he is now back in the 00's, but it wasn't in the cards.  Brown Sugar changed my life and Voodoo was a great album too.  I was hoping for more projects and collaborations from D'Angelo over the past 15 years, but my interest in R&B faded after D'Angelo and Maxwell faded from the scene.  To this date, my interest has only piqued when Maxwell dropped BlackSummersNight and now Black Messiah brings me back to the genre temporarily.  The whole trap soul era has me seeking soul music in other places.

D' Angelo's style is still defiantly analog and fresh as if he never left.  It's an album I wouldn't hesitate to let my kids listen to when they're young, but I would probably skip past the "cracker Christ" clip from Farrakhan.  Other than the Farrakhan clip, there isn't much else that's overtly racially aggressive on the project.  It's not militant or angry, which I can appreciate when it comes to artists that address racial issues, because that's where the majority of artists go.  For the most part, D'Angelo gets his message across without being literal or forced.  Also, Black Messiah achieves all of this while remaining uplifting.

Black Messiah is a perfect summer album for lounging.  It's a project that lends itself to be heard from beginning to end.  The genre mash-up is welcomed because creativity and experimentation is few and far between.  D'Angelo's influences like funk, Prince, soul, R&B, rock, Spanish music and hip hop all make their way onto the project.  The record plays like a contemporary historic interpretation of music over the past 75 years.

Ronin

Las Vegas Bvld EP @itsxmusic #hiphop #kidswithgunz

Man.  The video X dropped today hit me by surprise.  Since I first heard MyFwenz, I knew I like X's voice and lyrics, but this little EP and video impressed me.  If you want a few tracks for free, make sure to click the album artwork and follow the links.

I'm a couple weeks late on the project, but it's dope from beginning to end.  His voice and storytelling reminds me of Dotropolis (Chicago), but that's a compliment because I listen to Native  all the time.  I'm listening to the EP now and I suggest you do too.

Ronin @ra_nyc

Bloomsday by @esbe88

If you've heard the two music projects I've put together, you would know I'm a fan of Esbe's music (BRTH A N8TN and The Red).  Recently he released a project called Bloomsday and it's something you should definitely support.  Bloomsday's sound is smooth, creative and classic.  High quality production gets Esbe thousands of streams on SoundCloud, but he has a perfect balance of familiarity and creativity that makes the music feel right.  The element of surprise comes from his ability to make it all feel new and comfortable.   I spent a few days wondering London, recording my experiences and I had Bloomsday on repeat.  Naturally, the video project will feature his music, but it's what Esbe's style of music inspires me to do.  Check out the project by clicking the album artwork above, download at BandCamp and enjoy!

Ronin

Run The Jewels 2, @killermikegto @therealelp #hiphop

RTJ2, Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P), 2014

What more can I say about Killer Mike and El-P?  This is an "I told you so" moment because I've been listening to El-P and Killer Mike for a long time now.  My attitude toward a lot of the music industry has centered on the fact that clowns get record contracts and exposure because they will do the dance, fit the role and be the puppet.  Artists like El-P and Killer Mike have stayed true to their art, kept experimenting and now, they are reaping the benefits from teaming up with each other and pushing the envelope.  Artists like these two deserve the recognition and it's encouraging to see them get to the level of coverage they are.  Put simply, media coverage doesn't necessarily mean that the artists is better at what they do, but in this case it does.

RTJ2 is my favorite album of 2014, easily.  I love hip hop and 2014 has been a slow year for me not only because my life has been changing course, but because I think there has been a lot of garbage out there.  If you don't have RTJ2, get it!!!  Also, check out my drawing inspired by the first night I heard the project.  Just as a side note....there are dope collabo projects out there like Barrel Brothers, The 1978'ers, Prhyme and a few more.

RTJ2
RTJ2

Ronin

Void.Spirit.Sound @jdotodot @quintonkilgoeII

Void.Spirit.Sound is a collaborative EP between J. Manifesto (mc), Qman1 (producer)
and Ronin (Executive Producer/graphic design/director/cinematographer/editor).
Another video for the track, “Represent” featuring Lafayette Stokely is in the initial
stages of planning.  Make sure to stream/download the project and watch the video.
Ronin

NOTEWORTHY CLASSIC……….V12 Black Star @MosDefOfficial @TalibKweli and #hiphop #soul #TBT

blackstar-club-nokia1 Mos Def and Talib Kweli are Black Star, Black Star  1998

I've never seen a duo of mc's that compared to Black Star since they dropped this underground culture bomb.  It's a no-brainer to me, but after hearing kids going to Coachella in LA were like, "who is Outkast?", I figure I shouldn't assume everyone knows about this album.  Black Star is by far one of the best hip hop albums I've ever heard.  It's an album for people that want to think about the world around them because it's based on real life in the streets of NYC, but not through the lens of a drug dealer or gang banger.

Dropping in 1998, Black Star offered raw intelligent lyrics, dope production and soulful representations of what hip hop can aspire to through storytelling from these two late golden era lyricists.  Mos Def's style/humor and Talib Kweli's sharp/smart, tongue-twisting delivery made them a grounded team going against the grain of the glamorous, money flaunting rap in the mainstream.  Years later, when I was in college for architecture, I was still listening to Black Star.  Respiration was a standout track to me where they make the lyrical Avengers of hip hop when they teamed up with Common.  If you don't have it....get it and study it!!!

The production credits are something special too.  Hi-Tek, J. Period, Da Beatminerz, J. Rawls, Ge-ology, Pete Rock and 88 Keys all produce tracks on the album and Talib Kweli co-produced a few tracks as well.  The sounds are representative of Brooklyn with Caribbean influences as well as straight NYC boom-bap beats.  There are unique samples from BDP, Slick Rick and Style Wars (graffiti movie) and the samples used pay respect to the culture instead of abusing technology and the original work by adding to it and making it into something special and new.

Hip Hop soul from 1998 to 2014

It's crazy how much the music industry has changed in the past 15 years.  It makes me sound old, but as I grew up with hip hop and watched it explore it's limits based on the world of vinyl, it's amazing and somewhat disappointing to see that the pendulum hasn't swung back  from the money-centric, testosterone filled misogynistic garbage on the radio/tv.  (Black Star talks about on Children's Story.)  I don't think linking misogyny to mainstream rap is controversial because misogyny is NOT representative of hip hop at large.  It IS definitely representative of the rap that makes it on the tv and radio though.

1995 thru 1998 was an important time because it was the beginning of when underground artists lost their opportunity to get their unique style out on a new platforms like BET, MTV, etc.  Yo! MTV Raps and The Bassment (1989-2005) on BET were the only legitimate places where you could go and hear discover raw artists.  That was a shift from the early 90's because before these hip hop specific shows existed, you would see these raw videos mixed in with all of the more "popular" videos.  Also, they weren't originally segregated by genre which made the statement that it all was music.  In 1998, to catch wind of those new ground breaking artists, you had to dig just like a producer digs through vinyl crates for those "gems".  You had to dig because these hip hop tv shows became platforms for the more popular artists exclusively, which was based on record sales.

In the late 90's, the backpack vibe was in tune with the listeners because at the time, hip hop heads looking for something unique/different had to really search for that important CD that could define a year or more of your life.  Backpackers were associated with freestyle cyphers, parks, skateboarding, dj-ing and graffiti.  The most dominant and influential musical genre of the past  40 years (hip hop) had been pushed back underground and only the acts that followed the prescription defined by the marketing teams, record labels and self imposing rules for success took over.  This is pre-internet hip hop and it's not a surprise that it ends up being the same now that the internet has made it's impact on music in general and we can all look back.

When you contrast Black Star to that "acceptable" mainstream model of 2014 or 1998, you can see why hip hop has made such a large impression on  my life.  First of all, it connected me to larger issues within the African American community.  Far before I ever knew about the 5 Percent Nation, I related to some of the more spiritual ideas with the lyrics from artists like Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Wu-Tang, Nas and a long list of other NYC artists.  Speaking about knowledge of self, seeing the god within you and the emphasis on pride and education made a big impact on me and put me in touch with my own views on religion during the time.  The 5 Percent Nation was apparently built on the parts of the Nation of Islam as taught in Harlem, and Malcolm X.  Not all of these artists went as far as the Nation of Islam and early Malcolm X with their outright racism.  To me, racism is racism and it takes the responsibility of each individual to change the world instead of blaming history to reinforce their sense of feeling like a victim.  Being a victim means that you will never overcome those issues, and I've never been one to let things get in my way, including myself.  All you have to do is look back to Malcolm X to see that even he saw through the racism within the Nation of Islam and became more of a humanist and a true revolutionary as a result.  There was a variety of perspectives from these NYC hip hop artists/lyricists as well.  Based on lyrics, some simply objected more to the institutional reality of racism and the use of the economy as a weapon against the poor.  Identifying amoral, illegal and unjust practices in our country is really based in a history of activism and not extremism.  Guilty by association means that these concepts often get confused with extremism within the African American culture.  Regardless, I removed the negative messages from the inherent good and I was left with a meaningful relationship to music based on history, education, pride, soul and creativity.  Black Star is representative of this time for me and it reflects the potential of music to teach history, serve as a means of expression and show it's ability to connect to something beyond oneself.

 

Ronin

Fulvio Di Piazza

 

Fulvio Di Piazza 

Roughly a year ago, I went to a show at the Jonathan Levine Gallery in NYC and I was lucky enough to see an exhibition of Fulvio Di Piazza.  His style is like a new surrealism that takes landscape paintings and transforms it with a combination of scale, texture, composition and lighting.  One of the most amazing things to experience by looking at Fulvio Di Piazza's work is variation in scale.  You have to stand close up to a 8 foot wide painting to see that there is a fuzzy, oil painted texture.  And if you walk back about 10 feet, you see these incredibly detailed, meticulously crafted compositions of animals, human busts, landscape elements like volcanoes, etc.  All of the larger forms are broken down into elements of the natural landscape as well.  Seeing the incredible images online is only really half of the experience of Fulvio Di Piazza's artwork.  If you will only see these paintings online, they're still amazing, interesting and masterful.

 

 

 

Ronin

Rhythm Roulette by @MassAppeal #hiphop #beats

Rhythm Roulette, Mass Appeal

For someone like me who just got a Akai MPC 500 for Christmas and considered hip hop to be part of who I am, a video series like Rhythm Roulette was something I appreciate for several reasons.  First, it's simple.  Blindfold a producer in a record store.  They pick 3 records at random to sample from to make a beat and they record the process.  That's beautiful.

A lot of people don't have any clue what goes into the music side of hip hop because they only hear the melody and the beats aren't performed live.  Some people don't even understand the lyrics either.  I had a conversation someone a while back had no idea that Homecoming (Graduation) by Kanye West was about Chicago...and she called herself a "hip hop head".  What people hear on the radio is one thing....Rhythm Roulette is something completely different.  They get well respected and talented hip hop producers to do what they do and document it.  It's honest, creative and real, which is what the hip hop that I like is all about.  Check out the full playlist above.

Enjoy!

 

Ronin

Don't Drink the Kool Aid @DenmarkVes #hiphop

Don't Drink the Kool Aid, Denmark Vessey, 2013

I've never heard a rapper who's rapping style and quality of voice that reminds me of J. Dilla until I heard Denmark Vessey's Don't Drink The Kool Aid project.  Dilla's influence on production is obvious, but Vessey's tendency to drift to and from the beat reminds me of Jay Dee. Obviously, Vessey has his own style and influences, but the fact he's from Detroit and made his way from Chicago to LA draws more comparisons to Dilla for obvious reasons (for me). I don't mean to obsess over this, but I could easily see Vessey collaborating with MED too.

[audio mp3="http://ra-nyc.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/2.-Power-Of-Thought.mp3"][/audio]

Vessey is affiliated with Dirty Science, (Blu and Exile) and House Shoes.  If you don't know who House Shoes is, there's not much I can do for you. For me, I just learned about Denmark Vessey and it's exciting because even though there are a lot of projects coming out daily, creative, skilled lyricists don't come around very often.  That's what he shows on this project and it's definitely something you should check out by clicking the link below.  The name alone, "Denmark Vessey" says a lot about the artist.  Denmark Vessey is a historic figure in African American history.  He was a slave that bought his own freedom and planned a revolt in South Carolina.  His plans were discovered and he was executed before his plans could happen.  The fact that he chose this historic figure as his name also shows some depth and knowledge that I respect.

[audio mp3="http://ra-nyc.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/7.-Casual-Fridays-feat-Quelle-and-J.r.-Blac.mp3"][/audio]

Don't Drink the Kool Aid is a collection of 21 tracks that range from up to down tempo and cover a range of topics.  There's an overall sense of humor and light hearted approach that a lot of people can identify with. It's not trap, ratchet or whatever everybody else is putting out right now and that makes me respect the project and Vessey even more.  Check it out, follow and download below!

Download Don't Drink The Kool Aid here

Follow @zackmoorish on SoundCloud

 

Ronin

Divine ScienZe 2: The Wake Up Album @dopescienze @kingidivine @divinescienze

Divine ScienZe 2:  The Wake Up Album, Divine ScienZe, 2014

Maybe I'm biased because I was blessed enough to be involved with the making of "Hero", where Divine ScienZe rocked all of my tees for the video, I location scouted and "Enjoy Tonight" was filmed at my loft in Bed-Stuy, but it's a lot more likely that Divine ScienZe just creates dope hip hop music.  This is the second installment of the Divine ScienZe collaboration between the Brooklyn MC ScienZe and the talented dj/producer King I Divine from Atlanta/Queens.  The Wake Up Album brings more of that home grown, hip hop soul that people need and love.  Since the last installment, the hip hop scene has definitely taken a turn, but a few things that will never go out of style are intelligent lyricism and dope hip hop beats.  You'll get that from Divine ScienZe.

With featured artists like Chuuwee, Dom O. Briggs, the full Dopeleage crew, Fresh Daily, among others should spark interest of anybody that's even slightly plugged into the Brooklyn hip hop scene.  If this is the first time you're hearing about Divine ScienZe, check out the first post about their project giving the back story.  Stream it, download it, buy it.  

 

PS.......my favorite tracks are Easels featuring Sharmelle Hunte, The Coffee featuring Dom O. Briggs, The Pond feat. Alpha Memphis and No Chaser feat. Dopeleague.

 

Ronin

Re-Branding Love and Hip Hop

Just to put it out there.....I haven't habitually watched tv since 2008.  And I don't watch episodes of tv shows online either.  Movies on the projector at home or basketball games in a bar are really the only times I watch content previously only available on tv or in a theater.  Just a few weeks ago, I watched Love & Hip Hop because my fiancee downloaded it as a guilty pleasure.  I was completely amazed at how ignorant, shallow and ignorant it was (yes I know I repeated myself).  This show literally made me embarrassed.  It was so stereotypical, naive and ignorant I couldn't help but feel offended at how ready people are to accept this ignorance as mainstream.  Is this what hip hop is in 2014?  No, and I'll explain why.

The only person currently involved in hip hop is Joe Budden (and I exclude Budden from this rant completely).  There rest of the cast are terrible-to-mediocre R&B singers, Peter Gunz, who dj's randomly and other people "involved" in the "industry" to varying levels of degree and success.  That doesn't mean I don't give Peter Gunz credit for his cultural hit in the 90's. I guess you could make the argument that Gunz is in the industry because he dj's, but the point is since the show is supposed to be about hip hop, everyone should be involved in hip hop somehow.  I'm going to sound like the biggest hater in the world right now.  But..............oh well.

People love the ignorant portrayal of black and latino people and Love & Hip Hop reminds you just how many people are willing to play that role.  On the first episode I saw, there was a DNA test to establish the biological father of a child, a man cheating on his common law wife of 12 years who he had children with, a couple dealing with their relationship over the phone while the man was in jail and a constant battle of egos and adults acting like overgrown children.  It was like watching every Maury Povich show combined into one episode.  If only these people were as dedicated/talented musicians as they were capable of creating drama and getting attention, the show would be worthwhile.

There are millions of creative people out there working their asses off to get the opportunity to showcase their talents and what people watch is Love & Hip Hop?  The word "Love" should be removed from the title because nothing in the show focuses on the passion, creativity or dedication it takes to be a successful artist.  Nothing about this show is about "Love" and that includes the relationships in the show.  Love and Hip Hop should just be called "The Real World:  Harlem" or "Hoodrats of NYC". Love and Hip Hop is representative of something in the real world, but it's not hip hop.

If I were to re-brand Love & Hip Hop, I would follow a kid going to school, working a part time job to help out and is talented as hell on the mic.  I would show his ups, downs and show it as the reality and insane level of competition in 2014.  Hip hop is also a culture.  So, this re-branding would show a click of artists that go out to support each other, put in their work on their own skills and projects and also do the networking side of the grind.  Also, my version of Love and Hip Hop would follow the creation of a full length project from an artist from beginning to end.  There's no shortage of artists that would contribute to something like this and it would/could actually be pretty dope.  Instead, you get stereotypical melodrama that focuses on ignorance, gossip and superficial egomaniacs.  If it's accidental that all of the negative aspects associated with hip hop actually make it into the show, then that's unfortunate.  In my opinion, you have to first seek something positive before you can find it.  The same applies to this logic in reverse.

In my version of Love and Hip Hop, it would show the hard work, creativity and networking needed to succeed in the quickly changing music world.  But that's not glamorous enough to make people tune in, is it?  Instead, VH1 created a "reality" TV show that stereotypes minorities by misusing the name of the most popular genre in black music, hip hop.  It's no different than a Tyler Perry movie/show really.  When I get on the train in NYC, I see young black men taking their kids to school.  I see black men, women and families going to work, school and I see people doing the exact opposite of what content providers are so quick to broadcast.  I know hip hop artists from NYC that have children and are proud as hell to be an active and healthy part of their kids lives.   I see female mc's that have never even thought about stripping because they love themselves and you can tell.  That doesn't mean they have to hide from their sexuality, but it also doesn't mean they have to rely on it exclusively.  I've met so many talented hip hop artists that are dedicated to their craft and they are the one's that will make it.  People watch Love and Hip Hop for some reason though, and that's a whole other blog entry (which maybe I'll write about in the future).  I don't Love and Hip Hop and all other incarnations of this ignorance because of everything I've already said and what it means to me.  The question is what does it mean to you? And if you like watching this garbage, why? What does watching programming like this say about you?

 

Ronin

"Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton: This is Stones Throw Records " (Documentary Film) @stonesthrow

Buy Tickets to the film here

Click here to enter the Super Fan Contest

(if you win the Super Fan Contest, you will get VIP passes to the screening of the film with a Q&A with co-founder Peanut Butter Wolf and the official Stones Throw afterparty)  <----you'll have to beat me for them!!!

 

Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton Sneak Screenings Tour-

Q&As by Peanut Butter Wolf and Live Performances by PBW, J Rocc, Jon Wayne & Knxwledge:

Wed 2/26 - San Francisco -Noise Pop HQ (5pm Screening + Q&A > 8pm Afterparty) Fri 2/28 - Vancouver, BC - The Vogue Theatre 7pm Screening + Q&A > Afterparty  @ Fortune Sound Club Sun 3/2 - Brooklyn, NY -  Indie Screen 7pm Screening + Q&A > Afterparty @ Music Hall of Williamsburg Mon 3/3 - Philadelphia, PA - PhilaMOCA 7pm Screening + Q&A > Afterparty @ Boot & Saddle Tue 3/4 - Boston, MA - The Brattle Theatre 8pm Screening + Q&A > Afterparty @ Middle East Downstairs Wed 3/5 - Montreal, QC - The Rialto Theatre 7pm Screening + Q&A / Afterparty @ SAT Thu 3/6 - Toronto, ON - The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema 9pm Screening + Q&A / Afterparty @ Coda Fri 3/7 - Detroit, MI - Emagine Royal Oak Theatre 7pm Screening + Q&A > Afterparty @ Magic Stick Sun 3/9 - Chicago, IL - The Logan Theatre 7pm Screening + Q&A > Afterparty @ Empty Bottle Mon 3/17 - Los Angeles - Arclight Hollywood 7pm West Coast Premiere + Q&A > Afterparty @ Dim Mak Studios Wed 3/19 - New York City - Village East Cinema 7pm East Coast Premiere + Q&A > Afterparty TBA

Produced & Directed by Jeff Broadway Co-Produced & Edited by Rob Bralver Written by Jeff Broadway & Rob Bralver Executive Produced by Jason McGuire