R.I.P. J-Arch

Hip-hop lost a talented, charismatic, and amazing voice yesterday in the untimely passing of J-Arch. #RebelArmz




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Cormega’s Warned You

Mega Philosophy in stores next week!


The Question on Everyone’s Mind


50 Cent Paying for Friends?

50 Cent - Animal Ambition CDs, T-Shirts, Posters. Headphones. Hang Out – 50 Cent Shop

You’d think having an extensive collection of moderately successful kinda crossoverish radio songs would result in a level of success that would at least entitle said person to a motley collection of hangers-ons and fanboys. Well, no matter how many times “Magic Stick” gets the throwback joint of the day, 50 Cent is still looking for friends.

Now for the good news/bad news scenario. The good news? That could have been you. You were that close. The bad news, it’s not you. It’s someone else, who was willing to shell out $4,999 for the privilege of spending a weekend with Curtis in Connecticut. That’s right. The 50 Cent, the “In Da Club” and glorified quarter water guy, is willing to give up a weekend to hang out with you and two of your friends for the low-low price of $4,999. And at that price, it’s still cheaper than joining a fraternity, and 50 probably doesn’t have to roofie his chicks either. That’s for the college bros and Officer Ricky.

Although it’s too late for you to be 50 Cent’s friend and buy the luxury, you can rest assured tonight knowing that someone, somewhere, stepped up to the plate and is going to have an amazing weekend at the G-Unit Compound.

Marco Rubio Big Ups Pac

Who would have thought that Republican Senator from Florida Marco Rubio had such defined opinions about hip hop?

Weezy Has Been A Bad Bad Boy

Lil Wayne

Damn Weezy you got schooled by the legend Stevie Wonder. I love Weezy’s sex talk (PAUSE!) but I agree this one was a bridge too far. Damn homie!

Stevie Wonder is not happy with Lil Wayne’s vulgar lyrics that reference Emmett Till, a black U.S. teen whose murder in 1955 for allegedly whistling at a white woman changed the national conversation on race and civil rights.

The R&B legend says the rapper’s disturbing verse should not have made it beyond the recording studio for the world to hear.

“You can’t equate that to Emmett Till,” Wonder said. “You just cannot do that. … I think you got to have someone around you that – even if they are the same age or older – is wiser to say, ‘Yo, that’s not happening. Don’t do that.’“

Wonder, who says he is a fan and friend of Lil Wayne, made the comments when asked what he thought of the controversial lyrics in an interview Thursday.

On a remix to Future’s song “Karate Chop,” Lil Wayne compared a rough sex act to the tortuous death of 14-year-old Till in Mississippi. Following a crude reference to rough sex, Lil Wayne indicates that he wanted to do as much damage as had been done to Till.

Till’s family has asked the rapper for an apology, and Epic Records, Future’s label, said the official song will not feature the vulgar words and is employing “great efforts” to pull it down.

Wonder, 62, hopes the 30-year-old Grammy winner understands the perspective of the Till family and chooses his words wisely in the future.

“Sometimes people have to put themselves in the place of people who they are talking about,” Wonder said. “Imagine if that happened to your mother, brother, daughter or your son. How would you feel? Have some discernment before we say certain things. That goes for me or any other (song)writer.”


Hip Hop Vs.Obama



Here is a really dope piece from one of my favorite political sites, The New Republic about hip hop’s shall we say, “mixed” feelings about President Obama


At a pre-inaugural party three nights ago, rapper Lupe Fiasco lived up to his reputation for stirring controversy when he played an extended, 30-minute version of his anti-Obama track “Words I Never Said.” For this, he was thrown off the stage by security guards. It’sunclear whether Fiasco was booted for repeating the song’s lyrics ad nauseam or for what StartUp RockOn, the concert’s organizer, described in anofficial statement as a “bizarrely repetitive, jarring performance.” The debacle raises legitimate questions about the wisdom of hiring a politically charged rapper, who routinely bashes Obama, to perform at a party in honor of Obama. But more important are the questions it raises about Obama’s relationship with hip-hop itself, which has gone downhill over the last four years.

During the 2008 campaign, many declared that Obama would be America’s first “hip-hop president,” and not simply because of his race. Whereas previous presidential candidates, Democrats and Republicans alike, treated hip-hop as politically radioactive (remember Clinton’s “Sister Souljah moment”), Obama was eager to embrace it. Betting that he could energize young voters with his hip-hop credentials, he encouraged artists like Jay-Z and Diddy to campaign for him, even perform at campaign events, and he told interviewers about his love of, and appreciation for, hip-hop—at times even singling out performers such as the Fugees, Kanye West, and Jay-Z.

The hip-hop community responded. Although the genre is rooted in antipathy toward the political establishment, and American presidents in particular, rappers lined up in support of the man they hoped would be the first black president. A number of performers—including Busta Rhymes, Young Jeezy, and Nas—indicated that they would cast their first votes in a presidential election, ever, for Obama. And far more drew upon his rhetoric of hope and change in their songs, releasing a barrage of records and mixtapes inspired by Obama’s campaign, including major tracks such as Nas’s “Black President” and Young Jeezy’s anthem “My President.” Fittingly, when Obama was inaugurated in January 2009, Diddy, Jay-Z, and Beyonce had some of the most coveted seats available.

Jay-Z and Beyonce—stalwart supporters (and fundraisers) throughout the 2012 race—were in attendance again at Monday’s inauguration, but the love for (and from) hip-hop hasn’t been the same. Although he said in a 2008 interview that he saw a place for hip-hop in the national dialogue, his engagement with it has largely consisted of slips and quips—calling Kanye West a “jackass” for interrupting Taylor Swift at the Grammy’s,joking at the 2012 White House Correspondents’ Dinner that he sings Young Jeezy to Michelle, revisiting the Kanye remark, and so forth. Yes, he has maintained a close relationship with Jay-Z, self-proclaimed hip-hop royalty, but perhaps more telling was his 29-song campaign playlist for 2012: It didn’t have a single rap song on it. This year’s inaugural playlist is revealing as well; while it does have songs by Nick Cannon and the Far East Movement that would qualify as rap, these aren’t exactly the names you’d expect from the man who claimed to “love” hip hop.

As I argued in an article for The Guardian last summer, many rappers haven’t been feeling the love either. Some, like Immortal Technique and dead prez, have been critical of Obama from the beginning, as has Lupe Fiasco, who became Obama’s most high-profile critic in the hip-hop community. The song that got him yanked offstage this week, “Words I Never Said,” includes the incendiary line “Gaza Strip was getting bombed / Obama didn’t say shit / That’s why I ain’t vote for him.” In subsequent interviews, he doubled down on his criticism, at one point saying, “To me, the biggest terrorist is Obama in the United States of America” and at another describing Obama as “someone who is a great speaker, but kills little children.” Not exactly the kind of guy you’d expect to tone it down at a pre-inaugural concert.

Other rappers have been far more ambivalent in their support. Speech, of Arrested Development, supported Obama in 2008, but came out for Ron Paul in 2011, saying he’d become disillusioned with Obama. But then, as the election approached, Speech hopped back on the bandwagon, taking to social media in support of the president and encouraging others to vote for him. Killer Mike came out in support of Obama in 2008, but on R.A.P. Music, one of the best albums of 2012, he went on the attack. On the song “Reagan,” he characterizes Obama as “just another talking head telling lies on teleprompters” and goes on to compare his foreign policy to the Gipper’s. Yet, even as that song was raising eyebrows across the country, Mike was insisting in interviews that he wanted Obama to win reelection, going so far as to claim that black voters would sell out their race if they didn’t support him in 2012: “If you don’t vote for Obama this time you’re a fuckin’ race traitor,” he said.

The list of mixed signals goes on. The pro-Obama anthems and interview shout-outs of 2008 have been replaced by a much more complex tension. In 2013, things appear headed in the same direction, not only with Lupe’s on-stage antics, but also Big Boi’srecent statement that although he thinks the president “is a nice guy,” he voted for Gary Johnson.

To some extent, all of this was predictable. Whereas in 2008, Obama was on the verge of becoming America’s first black president, by 2012 he had become part of the mainstream political establishment—something hip-hop has always been more comfortable attacking than endorsing. Obama’s record after four years also opened him up to criticism. He appeared to distance himself from the hip-hop community, perhaps viewing it as a liability after the ascent of the Tea Party, but more important was his lack of attention to the pressing concerns facing black America generally. Hip-hop author and activist Bakari Kitwana, whose organization Rap Sessions in 2012 conducted numerous town halls on hip-hop and the youth vote, put it to me simply: “We need candidates who can really be responsive to our issues. Obama demonstrated in his first term that he’s not that candidate, and I’m not expecting that that’s going to change.” Fredrick Harris, a Columbia Professor of Political Science, made a similar point over the weekend, noting that Obama “has spoken less about poverty and race than any Democratic president in a generation.” This, combined with a foreign policy that liberals would be howling about if a Republican were in office, has left some members of the hip-hop community with doubts. And if rap music is, as Chuck D once said, “the black CNN,” then rappers have a responsibility to call it like they see it, regardless of who’s in office.

Barring some significant shifts in policy over Obama’s second term, this fraying relationship isn’t likely to be mended. But for Kitwana, there is hope to be found in hip-hop activism. “At a grassroots activist level, I think there were more young activists who used hip-hop to engage their constituents in 2012 than in 2008,” he says. “There were not only more people participating, but there was a more sophisticated approach to organizing.” Yes, Lupe Fiasco and others may be dissatisfied with the president’s first term, but the broader role of hip-hop in politics, Kitwana says, is bigger than the president: “The Obama administration is just a blip on the radar screen of a long journey that we’re engaged in, and I think people who are really serious about the role hip-hop political organizing can play in electoral politics are looking past the Obama years to 2016, 2020, and beyond.”

In the meantime, we may begin to hear more voices of dissent from within the hip-hop community. Everyone understands that a president’s first term is largely about securing a second, but now that Obama has done that, it’s time for him to start delivering to the constituencies that were instrumental in getting him elected.  If he doesn’t, expect more rappers to echo the disappointment in the Blue Scholars’s 2011 song “Hussein”—about Obama, not Saddam—which opens, “This ain’t the hope or the change you imagined.”

Via The New Republic

Can’t Knock The Hustle- Guerilla Black Edition


Biggie impersonator, unremarkable rapper, and former Target security guard Guerilla Black has been nabbed on credit card fraud. Despite the tile of this post, he evidently HAS been knocked for this hustle!


Compton rapper Guerilla Black was arrested in connection with a major credit card fraud investigation, police said Wednesday.

The 35-year-old rapper, whose real name is Charles Tony Williamson, was taken into custody Wednesday morning by local officers and agents from the U.S. Secret Service, according to the Manhattan Beach Police Department.

Black and four others were apprehended by authorities who served search warrants at seven locations across Los Angeles County. Black was on a pre-trial release after being indicted by federal authorities in Washington on fraud charges, Manhattan Beach police said in a statement.

In the Los Angeles-area fraud case, Black and the others allegedly took in profits in excess of $20,000 a month, according to police. Local authorities said the fraud resulted in losses at financial institutions in the United States and foreign countries including England, Switzerland and Nigeria.

A 2005 Times article noted that Black has a voice and appearance that some people have said are similar to Notorious B.I.G.

Black was born in Chicago and raised in Compton. Before becoming a rapper, he worked as a security guard at Target.

Via The LA Times

Living Off Your Parent’s Fame: N.W.A. And Run-DMC Edition

It’s an homage to N.W.A and Run-DMC’s sperm — a brand new reality show starring the sons of rappers from the famous hip hop groups … and it’s currently being shopped to major networks … TMZ has learned.

The name’s the best part — sources close to production tell us, “Seeds of Hip Hop” will star Dr. Dre’s son Curtis Young, Eazy E’s son Eric Lynn Wright Jr., MC Ren’s son Anthony Dunbar, E’40′s son Droop-E and Jam Master Jay’s son Jason Mizell. They’re all in their 20s.

We’re told the show was created by music producer D’Extra Wiley (who was also a founding member of the 90′s R&B group II D Extreme) and will be about the boys trying to make it on their own — while trying to escape the shadows of their famous dads.

It’s currently being shopped to VH1, TV-ONE, FUSE TV and BET.

We’re told the production company behind the project is so confident the show will sell, it already has plans to start shooting in a month.


Double Your Dose Of Cappadonna!

Cappadonna grew up with and attended grade school in Staten Island with the members who would eventually construct the seminal rap group Wu-Tang Clan.  However, it wasn’t until 1995 that he made his recorded debut, appearing on Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx LP; and was soon thereafter anointed as the official tenth member of the group thanks to the serious darts he spit on the instant classic “Ice Cream.” In 1996, he played an integral role on Ghostface Killah’s Ironman LP. During 1997, his Wu affiliation not only continued, but flourished as he contributed on the Clan’s second LP, Wu-Tang Forever (which is now 6X platinum).


Though he continued to be a regular fixture on all Wu-Tang Clan related projects, Cappadonna’s solo debut, The Pillage, was released in 1998 and it was executive-produced by RZA and included cameos from Method Man, U-God, and Raekwon. The Pillage instantly impacted upon its release and it debuted at number #3 on the charts and was quickly certified Gold.
Cappadonna was again predominantly featured on the Clan’s 2000 release, The W, and followed up with his sophomore solo-project project, The Yin and the Yang, which reaped similar commercial and critical success. Cappadonna’s third solo project, The Struggle, was released in 2003 and Cappa reaffirmed his status within the crew by contributing to the Clan’s fifth-studio LP 8 Diagrams in 2007.   Cappadonna inked a new solo-deal with Koch Records shortly thereafter in 2008 and would go on to release his fourth official solo-project Slang Prostitution with Koch in 2009 and The Pilgramage in 2011.


While the legendary MC has remained an active voice within the Wu-Tang collective, touring, contributing to classic Soundtrack (High School High &Don’t Be A Menace) cuts and as a member of Ghostface Killah’s Theodore Unit and the more recent commingling with his Wu-comrades on RZA’s The Man With The Iron Fists OST on the Wu-Tang Clan reunion track “Six Directions Of Boxing” and appearing on the Wu-Tang Clan & D-Block project Wu-Block. The “Papi Wardrope Kings” renaissance continues with his new double-disc solo-project, Eyrth, Wynd & Fyre, which will be released by RBC Records on February 12th, 2013. “Eyrth, Wynd & Fyre represents the energy and elements of life. The changes that the earth generates, the turbulence of life; if the wynd is not in your favor, you cannot fly high. The Fyre is the truth, it just can’t be denied, the truth hurts, but it also builds character” states Cappadonna.

 Cappadonna’s “Eryth, Wynd & Fyre” will feature production from Stu Bangas, J. Glaze & G-Force (among others) and feature guest appearances from Solomon Childs, Sav Kills and shows that Capp’s “PLO Flow” is just as sharp as ever as Cappadonna laments  I’m just trying to be the best I can be for my fans, I just want to be loved for my art, I want them to see my passion and as long as people are still feeling that and applauding, I’m going to keep milking that cow the best I know how. To be releasing this project with RBC Records (who has also released projects from Tech 9Nne, DJ, Quik, E-40, Too Short & more) is a blessing, its always good to be among the legends.  We have all been in the game for many years; it feels good to be a part of that and to have a home.”


Tracklisting and credits for Cappadonna’s Eyrth, Wynd & Fyre:

Disc One:

1.) “In The Dungeon” f/ Show Stopper (produced by: J. Glaze)


2.) “Hustle Game Tight” (produced by: J. Glaze)

3.) “Puffed On Pride” (produced by: J. Glaze)   

4.) “Boogah Hill” (produced by: J. Glaze)

5.) “The Better Life Movement” (produced by: J. Glaze)   

6.) “Real Life” (produced by: J. Glaze)  

7.) “Pull Ya Life Together” (produced by: J. Glaze)   

8.) “Creature Feature” (produced by: J. Glaze)   

9.) “The Body Rock” (produced by: J. Glaze)   

10.) “Rap Is Like Crack” f/ Solomon Childs of Theodore Unit (produced by: J. Glaze)


11.) “Children Of Israel” f/ Show Stopper (produced by: J. Glaze)   

12.) “God Forgive Me For My Sins” (produced by: J. Glaze)

13.) “Net Surfin” f/ Show Stopper (produced by: J. Glaze)

14.) “Back To School” (produced by Whaul)

 Disc Two:

 1.) “Free Lunch” f/ Lounge Mode (produced by Keelay & Zaire)

2.) “Real Talk” f/ Lounge Mode (produced by Cosmos Shines)

3.) “Welfare” f/ Sav Killz (produced by Chris Bay)

4.) “Bar B Que” f/ Lounge Mode (produced by DJ Snips)

5.) “Actual Facts” f/ Sav Killz (produced by DJ Snips)

6.) “Rep Ya Borough” f/ Lounge Mode (produced by Kevlaar 7)

7.) “Live Ya Life” f/ Lounge Mode (produced by Cosmos Shines)

8.) “Chains” (produced by Stu Bangas)

9.) “Socializing” f/ Lounge Mode (produced by Keelay & Zaire)

10.) “It’s A Man’s World” (produced by Kevlaar 7)

11.) “Baby Mommas” (produced by Keelay & Zaire)

12.) “Ease On Down The Road” (produced by Keelay & Zaire)

13.) “We Hood Rich Now” (produced by Stu Bangas)

14.) “Uncle Gem’s Rice” (produced by G-Force)



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Now THIS Is Gangsta



Afghanistan’s first female rapper says threats won’t stop her from making her voice heard.

“How long should we keep this silence?” Sosan Firooz said in an interview with CBS. “There’s a need for people to rise up. And others should follow.”

Firooz and her family have begun to receive death threats since the 23-year-old released her first single, “Our Neighbors,” on YouTube earlier this fall.

“Listen to my story! Listen to my pain and suffering!” Firooz says in the song, which boasts over 75,000 hits on the website.

The young woman has been hit with a series of menacing text messages demanding that she stop performing. Her mother recently received an anonymous phone call with a similar message.

“They told her ‘If your daughter appears on TV again, we will cut off your head,’” Firooz explained.

But none of the risks have deterred Firooz, who makes history performing in front of men, clad in western clothes, in a country where social norms keep women out of the spotlight.

“Everyone wants to be unique, to do something no one else has done before,” said Firooz, who hails from an impoverished neighborhood in north Kabul.

Firooz’s music hits on a variety of different topics, including the repression of women and her desire for a peaceful Afghanistan.

She also raps about the difficulties of growing up as a child in neighboring Iran. She and her family fled there during the Afghan civil war of the 1990s.

“When war started in our country, there were bullets, artillery, rockets. All our trees were burned down. The war forced us to leave our country,” she raps in Dari, one of country’s two main languages.

“We are hopeful for the future in our country. And we request that our neighboring countries leave us alone.”

Afghan singer and composer Fared Rastagar, who helped Firooz record her first single, said the danger of being a woman on the stage in Afghanistan is real.

“Some female singers have stopped singing because of threats from the Taliban,” Rastagar told CBS. “Some have left the country.”

The producer, however, praised Firooz for continuing to put herself out there despite the risks.

“I admire Sosan for her courage and appreciate the support of her family,” he told the AP when Firooz’s single dropped.

“Rap is needed here. We need to bring changes in all parts of life including music.”

Via The New York Daily News

Rick Ross Has Some Major New Competition…

DALLAS (AP) — A Dallas police lieutenant whose officer husband was killed while on duty three years ago has been put on administrative leave as officials investigate her side job as local rapper Lucille Baller, who in one song threatens to shoot anyone who messes with her.

Lt. Regina Smith, who oversees burglary and theft detectives for two patrol investigative units, also runs Big Rush In LLC. She started the music production company and independent record label after the 2009 death of her husband, Dallas Sr. Cpl. Norman Smith, who was nicknamed the “Big Russian.”

“Don’t push Ms. Lucy, because you won’t like the consequences. Mess with me or I will shoot a (expletive), cuz Lucille Baller, she been to hell and back,” Lt. Smith raps in a song that has since been removed from Big Rush In’s website, according to The Dallas Morning News.

The newspaper and WFAA-TV both reported that Smith has been placed on administrative leave.

Smith did not immediately return calls or an email to The Associated Press seeking comment Wednesday. A Dallas police spokesman also did not return calls to the AP.

In another video on the website, Smith is seen talking with a group of friends around a table, telling them that people in the music industry have already taken advantage of her.

“You know what I would do to somebody who try to take advantage of me? You see this bullet right here,” Smith says, holding a bullet in her hand. “I’ll stick it from their rooter to the tooter and bring it out.”

Smith then brings out a human silhouette target riddled with bullet holes and says, “I’m not here to play with these jokers. If they think they going to take advantage of me, they got another thing coming.”

In another scene from the video, Smith brings out a revolver that is not loaded and practices firing it in front of a friend. She points the weapon, which she calls “Miss Lucy” at the silhouette target.

Smith writes on the Big Rush In website that the record label was created “out of tragedy and loss, yet progresses forward fulfilling God-Given dreams.”

Charles Payne, the man convicted of killing Norman Smith, was sentenced to life in prison.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

Via The Grio

Career Of The Future G.O.A.T. Derailed By The Player Hating Po-Po

A would-be rapper’s burgeoning musical career hit a snag last week, when police pulled him over in the school bus he allegedly stole from the west side of the state so he could drive to Detroit to record music, according to a release issued by police Tuesday.

Washtenaw County sheriff’s deputies arrested Josiah Daniel Curtis, 25, of Grand Rapids at about 10 a.m. on Thanksgiving after receiving a call reporting that someone was driving a school bus erratically on eastbound 94 near Zeeb Road in the Ann Arbor area.

“We had a unit nearby, and they saw the bus swerving and weaving,” Washtenaw County Sheriff Sgt. Geoffrey Fox said. “When we stopped (it), he told us he was headed to Detroit to work on some music.”

WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids reported that Curtis attempted to steal seven school buses from a locked lot in Wyoming, crashing several into a loading dock and fence before making off with one of the vehicles.

He made it most of the way across the state until his run-in with the Sheriff’s Office, Fox said.

Curtis, who has had several run-ins with the law, was driving without a license, authorities said.

His colorful mug shots appear across the Internet on websites that follow crimes.

He was arrested and charged with receiving and concealing stolen property.

He is incarcerated in the Washtenaw County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bond.

Via The Detroit News

Afrika Bambaataa Goes Ivy League

This Is Your Brain On Freestyling



In the worldwide cultural juggernaut that is hip-hop, it’s widely understood that the spontaneous lyrical improvisation of freestyle rap is the genre’s purest form of creation. More often than not, how well a rapper navigates this stream-of-conscious realm is the yardstick by which talent is measured.

But what’s happening in the brain during this creative “flow” state? It’s a question that researchers in the voice, speech and language branch of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) wanted to find out.

“Our interests were in the neural correlates of creativity,” Dr. Siyuan Liu told Discovery News. Liu was lead researcher and one of the co-authors of a new study on the brain activity of freestyle rappers published inScientific Report. “Previously we did a study on jazz musicians when they improvised the melodies. The other part of music is lyrics, so we thought it would be interesting to study the brain activity when the lyrics where improvised as well.”

Four years ago, the publication of the jazz study caught the eye of Daniel Rizik-Baer, a hip-hop enthusiast and producer with a background in social work and community building through art and music.

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“As I read the study I thought that freestyle rapping would be a perfect fit, a better fit than the jazz improvisation for what the team at NIH was studying,” said Rizik-Baer, an outreach director and production manager for the Levitt Pavilion Pasadena. So he emailed one of the study’s co-authors, Dr. Allen Braun, chief of the NIDCD voice, speech, and language branch and pitched the idea. Four years in the making, that pitch has come to fruition with the publication of “Neural Correlates of Lyrical Improvisation: An fMRI Study of Freestyle Rap.”

“It’s really a piece of a larger puzzle,” said Braun, also a co-author on the study. “What is the hallmark of the creative process?”

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Liu, Braun and the rest of the team scanned the brain of 12 freestyle rap artists as they rapped over an 8-bar musical track created by Rizik-Baer. Rappers were first tasked to improvise rhyming lyrics and rhythmic patterns. In a second trial, they performed a well-rehearsed set of memorized lyrics.

During the freestyle segment, researchers saw increased activity in the brain’s medial prefrontal cortex but a decreased activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal region.

“The medial part of the frontal cortex plays a role in self motivation and the integration of information,” said Liu. “On the other hand, we know that the lateral part of the frontal cortex actually plays a role in attention, self-monitoring and other executive functions.”

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What this means is that freestylers enter a “flow” state, which researchers described as a “complete immersion in creative activity, typified by focused self-motivation, positive emotional valence and loss of self-consciousness.” Their creative gate is wide open.

“It’s the absence of attention,” said Braun. “When the attention system is partially offline, you can just let things fly and let things come without critiquing, monitoring or judging them.”

“It’s almost like you’re able to think faster,” said Rizik-Baer, who was also credited as co-author of the study. “You’re able to incorporate multiple perspectives without thinking about it.”

Mike Eagle, another credited co-author and hip-hop artist in Los Angeles, says he feels relaxed in the flow state.

“I allow my body to feel the beat and keep the rhythm,” he said. “Mentally, I am attempting to reorganize all the words that I know into the best possible combinations within the confines of the rhythm.”

The study also showed that freestyling increases brain activity in the the perisylvian system (area of language production), the amygdala (area linked to emotion) and cingulate motor areas, all of which help Eagle and other freestylers achieve optimum fluidity.

“We think this freestyle improvisation, in itself, could be characterized by a big network linking together, combining motivation, language, action and emotion,” said Liu.

Braun says it’s not so much that these systems are heightened, but that they’re more tightly connected.

“These patterns suggest that they’re not monitoring or censoring so closely,” he said. “So this may allow connections, novel ideas and novel associations to emerge more naturally without being cutoff.”

As for addressing the out-of-body experience that people often describe while immersed in this flow state, Braun and Liu said any evidence of that is purely speculative. However, increased brain activity in the medial prefrontal cortex and all along its mid-line does suggest that freestylers tap into the subconscious.

“There’s literature that goes back to Benjamin Libet. It says the voluntary activity produced by, we think, this part of the brain occurs well before you’re consciously aware of that movement,” explained Braun. “There’s good evidence for that. The fact that we see very strong activation in this part of the brain is not inconsistent with the idea that freestyle rap may be organized outside of conscious experience.”

Next on the research team’s agenda: looking at brain activity during the other half of the creative dichotomy.

“We think that the creative process can be divided into two phases. The first phase is the spontaneous and improvisatory phase,” said Liu. “The second phase we call the revision or refinement phase” where “people try to adjust what they generated from the first phase and make it better.”

Liu’s curiosity is simple: “What is happening in the second phase.”

But for now, Rizik-Baer is just happy to see his idea come full circle and said the project’s cross-cultural exchange was a true highlight.

“When a lot of people see hip-hop, they run the other direction,” he said. “But Dr. Braun was open minded enough to look into it.”

Rizik-Baer said he and other rappers don’t need academia or scientific studies to legitimize hip-hop or freestyling. However, that the study juxtaposed hip-hop’s often negative portrayal in the media was a nice confirmation of freestyling’s deeper, cognitive impact.

“To put it bluntly, this culture and art form that is perpetuated, for the most part, by young African-American males, has a highly intellectual component to it that really shows large, complex levels of brain activity,” he said. “To me that was important.

“It’s about moving beyond the limitations that we place on ourselves. That’s a big part of creativity — not letting social pressures or thoughts of what’s right or wrong dictate what we’re doing. It’s letting go of those chains and allowing our brain to be free.”



Via Discovery


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9th Wonder Schools Y’all

When 9th Wonder’s career in hip-hop began to develop at North Carolina Central University in Durham in 1998, it wasn’t necessarily in the classrooms or libraries. With classmates Phonte Coleman and Thomas “Big Pooh” Jones, 9th (born Patrick Denard Douthit) formed the group Little Brother, a reference to their position relative to their musical inspirations such as A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul; in other words, the new generation learning from and building on their predecessors’ achievements.

Fourteen years and one Grammy Award later, 9th now qualifies as the proverbial “older brother.” Having survived the industry’s tumultuous digital revolution, his own departure from Little Brother, and hip-hop’s fractured support base over the past decade, he’s accumulated a wealth of experiences that can help teach the next generation, just as he learned from inspirations like J Dilla and Pete Rock. But there’s one significant difference — those guys never had a class at Harvard.

“I have been in college preparatory programs, walking on college campuses, and sitting in classrooms since I was 14,” said 9th by phone from North Carolina. In May, he was invited to become a Hiphop Archive fellow at the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard, a three-year program highlighted by his co-teaching a course next semester. He is calling it “The Hiphop Cipher: ‘These Are the Breaks.’  ’’

“I understand that Harvard is arguably the most prestigious university in the United States if not the world,’’ said 9th, “but to me it’s not as intimidating as people would think it is. It’s a great opportunity and a groundbreaking situation to have somebody like me on that campus teaching something that people wouldn’t even put with the name of Harvard.”

The appointment of 9th as resident fellow is the latest and perhaps highest-profile story of hip-hop’s ongoing integration into higher education. As the music and culture have matured, colleges and universities have turned their attention to examining hip-hop in various contexts: Author Michael Eric Dyson has taught sociologically focused classes on Tupac Shakur and Jay-Z at Georgetown University, while rapper Bernard “Bun B” Freeman and the Roots frontman Amir “?uestlove” Thompson hold down teaching gigs at Rice University and New York University, respectively.

But 9th’s teaching career began in 2006, when he taught a class on hip-hop history at his alma mater, and continued with another course at Duke University in 2010. In speaking to students a generation younger, the challenge became to connect with an audience that’s also been raised on hip-hop, but may not share the same conception of it.

“People get the culture of hip-hop confused with the rap music industry, and that’s two different entities in itself,” 9th explained. “And that’s why some people feel like, what’s the reason to teach what I see on TV or what I see on the radio? What’s the depth in teaching that? They’re right! There is no depth. But there is a depth in teaching something that started in 1973 and started a way that turned into something else.”

He continued: “We understand that there is two if not three hip-hop generations now, going on four. It was a unique experience to teach that class and reach that generation of kids who walked and talked and watched a lot of TV but didn’t have a sense of where it came from as far as the culture is concerned.”

“It’s not your average thing where the professor says, ‘I’m smart’; it’s really, ‘I’m trying to figure this out,’ ’’ said Marcyliena Morgan, executive director of the Hiphop Archive since its founding in 2007. She will also co-teach the undergraduate class with 9th in the spring, which will focus on examining “content and what is going on socially, politically, and artistically” in hip-hop. “He’s really a person who’s incredibly knowledgable about the techniques he uses, but interested in ideas and theories, and interested in working with anyone who is engaged in those things, and that works perfect for the Hiphop Archive and Harvard in general.”

The academic setting also provides some relief from the incessant and often hypersensitive buzz of the Internet, where thoughtful discussion of musical preferences often devolves into digital mudslinging, as 9th experienced last year when his seemingly innocuous comments about Jay-Z and Kanye West’s much-hyped “Watch the Throne” album (“It’s not for me,” he wrote) sparked a media mini frenzy on rap websites and discussion boards.

“We live in a generation where everybody has to like the same thing and if you don’t, you are scrutinized for it,” 9th said. “That’s what I found funny about that situation. It was like something you have to be on just to be in the in-crowd. That’s something that I think this generation is afraid of, of not being in the in-crowd. In the academic setting, you are free to think and free to have an opinion, and that’s what it’s all about.”

It should be noted, of course, that 9th is not simply a detached observer of hip-hop; he remains as active and busy as ever, and by year’s end will have full-album production credits on three different projects. The local hip-hop scene should benefit from having him around, as he predicts he will be actively working within it after he moves to the area next month. Whether in Harvard’s lofty classrooms or through a pair of speakers, one thing is sure: 9th will be teaching.

“I believe that a majority of us that’s in the culture that’s able to articulate what the culture is about are truly the ones that are supposed to teach,” 9th said. “We are just now realizing that we are the ones. Just like they created a book for calculus or sociology, we need to create the book that’s about our terms, because every book was created by someone saying ‘This is how it is.’ We need to create the book and I believe that’s going to happen.”

Via The Boston Globe

My Only Comment On The Election

Everybody’s Favorite Cousin Is Coming To Town Soon…


On November 13th Hempstead, NY’s CuzOH! Black will release his debut EP, “Everybody’s Favorite Cousin”, via WeGoinin.com.  Full of heartfelt lyricism inspired by real life events CuzOH will make you feel like you knew him for many years; hence the title. Featured guests include his cousin Wordsmithand Double Up Entertainment’s Paul Rivers Baily, while the production is handled by JS Aka The Best, Benny Rome, Capish, Street Level & Moe Productions.

Whether it’s “No Winter Coat”, “A Graphic Ending or “Marvelous Motivation”, CuzOH! Black shows some good range as an artist and does a great job taking the listener on a journey through reality/fantasy at times. We have to thank CuzOH! for making a project that will suit the needs of hardcore HipHop fans and commercial fans alike; something he has been chipping away at for the past few years.

Hardly new to the scene, CuzOH! Black originally went by the name “Black Knight” and is the only other artist signed to Wordsmith’s independent label NU Revolution Entertainment LLC. His track record spans 6 years appearing on all of Wordsmith’s Mixtapes along with his solo albums and collabo project with HipHop legend Chubb Rock called “Bridging the Gap.” Needless to say he is prepared to reach another level musically and rep is hometown of New York.

Raised in Hempstead CuzOH! Black already has an uphill battle as a rapper in the increasingly flooded mecca of HipHop saying, “with all the MC’s in NY it was important for me to stand out. I felt like it was important for me to tell a different story though I come from the same struggle as my neighbors. I needed to create a sound that represented the vast experiences I collected over the years.”

CuzOH! Black’s goal of becoming your favorite cousin will soon be realized when he becomes a household name or you invite him to live in your guest room to record his next project!

Everybody’s Favorite Cousin will be available November 13th, 2012

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Peep It Here

Fab 5 Freddy Ain’t Nothing To Fuck Wit

Long before he appeared in the hip-hop movie “Wild Style” or hosted the equally seminal TV show “Yo! MTV Raps,” Fred Brathwaite was a teenager in Brooklyn with two main interests: art and Bruce Lee.

His genre of choice was graffiti, which, like rapping, breakdancing and beatboxing, was just beginning to take shape on the streets of 1970s New York. At the same time, Bruce Lee’s star was rising in the U.S., where Mr. Brathwaite first watched his films in Times Square.

“New York City in the ’60s and ’70s was a time of much civil unrest,” Mr. Brathwaite says. “To see this minority stand up against authority and oppression was inspiring.”

Known today as Fab 5 Freddy, Mr. Brathwaite is now an accomplished artist (Sotheby’s recently sold a graffiti-inspiredwork of his for $23,750), and he’s combining his two original inspirations for a collaborative art project in Bruce Lee’s hometown of Hong Kong.

Titled “Kung Fu Wild Style,” the project comprises 10 graffiti-style recreations of iconic scenes from the actor’s films such as “Enter the Dragon” and “Fist of Fury.” Five were illustrated by Mr. Brathwaite; the other half by Hong Kong’s Chan Kwong-yan, better known as MC Yan.

The artworks will be on display at a pop-up space in the city’s Sheung Wan district, following a free screening of “Wild Style” in the Kwun Tong industrial area. Both Mr. Brathwaite and Mr. Chan will attend.

For Mr. Chan, a graffiti artist and rapper for pioneering Hong Kong rap group LMF, working with Mr. Brathwaite was a no-brainer. “Everyone who loves hip hop has seen ‘Wild Style’ at least once,” he says. “And obviously, I’m a fan of Bruce Lee, who is a cultural icon.”

Mr. Chan made news last month when he and Taiwanese rapper Dog G recorded a rap song titled “Brainwash Education,” supporting Hong Kong students’ protest against so-called national education. The song was banned in mainland China within 24 hours of release.

In response to Mr. Chan’s rebellious ways, Mr. Brathwaite smiles.

“That’s what makes hip-hop unique, man,” he says. “It sends a message to stand up for what you believe in – just like Bruce Lee did.”

“Kung Fu Wild Style” is on show at Pop-up Space (66 Po Hing Fong, Sheung Wan) from Oct. 20 to Oct. 27. “Wild Style” screens at Hidden Agenda (2A, Wing Fu Industrial Building, 15-17 Tai Yip Street, Kwun Tong; hiddenagenda.hk) on Oct. 19 at 7 p.m.

Via The Wall Street Journal


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New York Times Agrees RZA Is The Coolest


IF he were not already recognizable for his gaunt frame or the distinctive W logo on his baseball cap, it would have been easy to spot Robert Diggs — better known as the RZA, the actor, rapper and mastermind of hip-hop’sWu-Tang Clan — by the haul of vintage records and DVDs he was toting here at Amoeba Music.

Wandering between the black cinema and martial-arts video aisles, RZA thumbed through titles he already owned (“Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold”) while picking up some new additions for his collection (a boxed set of action movies produced by the Shaw Brothers of Hong Kong).

Before he exited with $402.94 in purchases, heavily tilted toward Asian action films, a smiling RZA said in his quiet voice, “You can’t say I’m not supporting the cause.”

Based solely on his Wu-Tang years, when he channeled his youthful obsessions with movies like “Five Deadly Venoms”into potent rap albums like “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers),” RZA, who is 43, would seem to possess unquestionable kung fu credentials.

Since then, his movie roles (as in “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai”), soundtrack contributions (“Kill Bill”) and books (“The Wu-Tang Manual”) have given him broader canvasses on which to blend his hip-hop sensibilities with Eastern culture, combat and spirituality.

Now his artistic wanderings have led to a $20 million movie, “The Man With the Iron Fists,” which RZA directed and stars in, and which Universal will release on Nov. 2. As befits its creator’s eclectic style, the film is a martial-arts mini-epic set in a mythical Chinese feudal state, where a dispute between a monarch and a nefarious gang draws in a rogue British soldier (played by Russell Crowe), a madam (Lucy Liu) and a humble blacksmith (RZA).

For RZA, “The Man With the Iron Fists” is a substantial and risky step into the feature-filmmaking world, where he wants to stake out a new career. It has also been a lesson, years in the making, about which of his talents would take him furthest in Hollywood, and which parts of his gruff, street-smart persona he needed to shed.

As a chauffeured town car drove him to a favorite waffle restaurant on Sunset Boulevard, RZA said he was no longer the grandstanding show-off he presented in his musical heyday. Had this conversation occurred a few years ago, he said, “you would have met an arrogant, tough neighborhood guy — which I’ve overcome.”

Not that he makes any apologies for the 1990s peak of the Wu-Tang Clan, when albums by that New York hip-hop collective and solo offerings from band members like GZA, Raekwon and Ol’ Dirty Bastard — largely produced by RZA — were selling by the hundreds of thousands.

“I thought I was the greatest thing on earth,” RZA said. “And you couldn’t say that I wasn’t. I wouldn’t take no for an answer.”

Among the projects from that period that he says he couldn’t resist was a film that he directed, starred in and paid for ($400,000) based on his superhero alter ego, Bobby Digital.

RZA said that one studio offered him about $250,000 to distribute the movie, and another $500,000, but he had his heart set on $1 million.

“At this time, I think I was more conceited,” he said as he sampled from plates of red velvet waffles, onion rings and a vegetarian Reuben sandwich. “I’m not going to take no 250, 500 grand from nobody, during this bloom of my life. I played hardball and the deal walked away.”

A second feature he directed and financed, a martial-arts movie called “Wu-Tang vs. the Golden Phoenix,” similarly languished, and both films remain unreleased.

As the Wu-Tang members went their separate ways, RZA moved his career to Los Angeles, where he focused on film scores and small acting roles. But a part of him continued to dream up kung fu characters and stories — “I got a bad habit of creating,” he said — as he did growing up in Brooklyn’s impoverished Brownsville neighborhood. (Citing one of his unused inventions, RZA described an expert fighter called the Seven-Blow Assassin: anyone who faces him, he explained, “will die by seven blows.”)

In 2006, RZA found an ally in the horror filmmaker Eli Roth (“Hostel,” “Cabin Fever”) when the two men were briefly stranded in snowy Boston after returning from an Icelandic film festival hosted by Quentin Tarantino.

Mr. Roth’s parents, who lived in the Boston area, took RZA in for the night. From that point on, RZA said he and Mr. Roth were “hangout buddies.”

More crucially, Mr. Roth offered to help RZA with the script he was writing, which eventually became “The Man With the Iron Fists.” But that collaboration was delayed for nearly three years, while Mr. Roth worked on other projects. When they finally put their heads together in 2009, Mr. Roth said he advised RZA to think through his imaginary world as carefully as George Lucas knows “Star Wars” or Peter Jackson has rendered the “Lord of the Rings” films.

Using the Wu-Tang Clan as an example, Mr. Roth said he told RZA: “You write different lyrics for all these guys. Yet if a girl walked by, the way GZA would react is very different from how Ol’ Dirty Bastard would react. What Raekwon would say is different from Method Man.”

After helping RZA expand his script from 90 pages to 130, Mr. Roth (who shares screenplay credit) said he did not need to see RZA’s previous films to know he could direct this one. “I trust my gut,” he said. “I know who’s got it and who hasn’t.”

With the producers Marc Abraham and Eric Newman (“Children of Men”), and the blessing of Mr. Tarantino, who is listed as the presenter in the movie’s credits, RZA and Mr. Roth pitched the film to Universal early last year and got their green light.

But where he was accustomed to near-dictatorial control over the early Wu-Tang albums, RZA had to learn to compromise with co-stars like Mr. Crowe, who wanted to see his Jack Knife character develop a fuller on-screen friendship with RZA’s blacksmith.

“As friends, we talk,” Mr. Crowe (who appeared with RZA in “American Gangster” and“The Next Three Days”) wrote in an e-mail. “It is no effort for me to give a friend advice. Film has many gods and you have to understand, as a director, you will be required to please and appease them all.”

That said, Mr. Crowe wrote that he wanted to make the film “because I believe in Bobby Diggs,” and because he had given him his word that “as a brother that I would turn up when he needed me to.”

Ms. Liu, a star of “Kill Bill: Vol. 1” and the CBS series “Elementary,” said she also wanted a more substantial arc for her character, a brothel mistress named Madam Blossom.

“I think the original script had more masculine energy,” she said, “and giving Madam Blossom more of a presence made it a little bit more balanced.” She said RZA was open to her suggestions: “He didn’t say no to any of it.”

More concessions followed during the film’s 10-week shoot in China. After a word from his Chinese producers, who felt their government would not appreciate a scene in which a camera pans across a line of brothel workers framed at a certain angle, RZA cut the sequence from the script. (“It’s not a porno,” he said.)

When the film was edited in the United States, RZA labored to reduce it from three hours to about 96 minutes. Seeking a creative hiatus during this period, he took a supporting role on the Showtime comedy “Californication,” playing an overconfident rapper named Samurai Apocalypse.

Tom Kapinos, the creator and writer of “Californication,” said he was not initially sure what to expect of RZA. “I’ve met a ton of people from the music world, and there’s a lot of insane people out there,” he said.

But when RZA arrived for his first table read “he just wanted people to call him Bobby,” Mr. Kapinos said. “I got the sense that he was there to learn and soak up as much of the process as possible. He was more prepared than some of our core actors.”

Now that he has a properly produced studio movie under his belt, RZA called filmmaking “the perfect medium for a man of my creativity.”

“I’d love to make 10 to 12 films in my life,” he said. “That’s a lot of films, but it’s doable. I’ve still got time.”

Already, he is cultivating ideas for a follow-up, including a potential film version of the Grant Morrison comic book “Happy!” and a still-gestating period piece that would span the 1960s and ’70s, “One Spoon of Chocolate.”

Like many fans of his band, RZA is also contemplating a possible Wu-Tang Clan reunion, one that might coincide with the 20th anniversary of “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).” But the only configuration he said he would accept is one where he has the same degree of control as during the making of that album — which is to say, total.

“I’ve been talking to some of the guys, like, ‘Yo, look, I would suggest that you put down everything you know, and trust me one more time,’ ” RZA said.

If his filmmaking adventures have taught him anything, he said, it was that even in collaboration, artistry ultimately rises or falls on one person’s vision.

Or, as he put it: “I’m Captain Kirk and I’m flying this starship Enterprise. If I’m lucky to have a Mr. Spock on my side, we’re going to go somewhere that nobody’s gone before.”

Via The New York Times

JR&PH7 Will Be Dropping A Banger

Here is the dope looking tracklist and artwork to the new album “The Good Life” by JR&PH7 (Soulspazm Records / Foundation Media). The project will hit digital retailers as well as record stores on November 6th, 2012. The album includes features by Freeway, Phonte, Sean Price, Saigon, Roc Marciano, Ras Kass, Kid Daytona, Torae, Guilty Simpson and many more.

1. Until it’s All Said and Done feat. Sean Price and Skyzoo
2. Goodbye feat. Phonte and Median
3. It Is What It Is feat. Fly Union and Chuuwee
4. Poppin’ Fly feat. Hezekiah and Thomas Clay
5. Makin’ Moves feat. King Mez and Roc Marciano
6. Magic feat. Torae and Mela Machinko
7. Who Want What feat. Freeway, Saigon and Ras Kass
8. Humid Nights feat. The Kid Daytona
9. Silent Symphonies feat. J. Good and Vincent J. Kelly
10. Mellow Relax feat. The Regiment
11. Finding Out feat. Mela Machinko
12. Motor City Movin’ feat Guilty Simpson and Journalist 103 (of The Left)
13. Uncut Raw feat. Caucasian
14. Just Like SAC feat. Chuuwee
15. Never Enough feat. St. Joe Louis

I Don’t Get Realer Than This


KABUL, Afghanistan — “Listen to my story! Listen to my pain and suffering!” Afghanistan’s first female rapper Sosan Firooz pleads into her microphone.

With her first rap song, the outspoken 23-year-old singer is making history in her homeland where society frowns on women who take the stage. She is already shunned by some of her relatives.

But for Firooz, the best way to express herself is through rap, a musical genre that is just starting to generate a following in Afghanistan.

She sings about repression of women, her hopes for a peaceful Afghanistan and the misery she says she experienced as a small child living in neighboring Iran. Her family fled there during the Afghan civil war of the 1990s and the hardline Taliban regime’s rise to power in 1996. During her five-year stay there, she said the Iranians looked with disdain on Afghan refugees.

“I remember while we were in Iran, we were called `dirty Afghans’ and told to go to the back of the line at the bakery,” Firooz, who also spent time as a refugee in Pakistan and returned to Afghanistan with her family seven years ago, told The Associated Press in an interview.



Some of Firooz’s family members have cut ties with her because she appears on TV and sings, her father said. Abdul Ghafar Firooz also said he had to quit his job at the government-run electric department to serve as her body guard wherever she goes.

Her song’s message to Afghans: Stay in your homeland. Those who leave, she sings, will only get jobs washing dishes or working at a car wash. “They will miss their homeland,” she raps in a staccato style, part rap and part hip-hop. “They will want to kiss the dust of their homeland.”

“What is the result of Afghans being refugees in Iran and Pakistan?” she raps in Dari, one of Afghanistan’s two main languages. “Half of them are addicts and the other half are terrorists!”

So far, the song, titled “Our Neighbors,” has only been released on YouTube, with a video that shows a series of pictures of Firooz posing in a hip-hop style gear, with jeans, dangling chains and bracelets. In some pictures, she wears a bandana with skulls, but her long hair flows freely, with no headscarf – a rarity among Afghan women, including the few female singers.

Firooz is also an actress, appearing in secondary roles in a number of local TV soap operas. Earlier this month, she sang at a three-day music festival in Kabul. Because social interaction between men and women are restricted, the musicians played for a female audience the first day and males the last two days.

She is still not yet widely known among Afghans, but she’s breaking traditional rules for women in a very conservative society, where some women don’t go outside without wearing blue burqas that cover them from head to toe. Violence against women is still common in Afghanistan, especially in remote areas. There are reports of women being stoned or executed in public for having affairs with men. Women are arrested and others set themselves on fire to escape domestic violence. Women accused of adultery have been killed or imprisoned.

“We want an end to all cruelty against women and children,” Firooz chants.

Firooz’s uncle has cut off relations with his family because she appears on TV and sings, says her father, Abdul Ghafar Firooz. He says he has quit his job at the government-run electric department to accompany her whenever she leaves the house and protect her as she pursues her acting and musical career.

“I am her secretary, answering her phones. I am her bodyguard, protecting her. When she’s out, I must be with her,” her father said. “Every parent must support their daughters and sons to help them progress,” he said.

Her mother, who does humanitarian work in some conservative, remote areas of southern Afghanistan, says she’s careful not to mention her daughter’s budding career.

“Family support gives me the strength to fight against the problems in our society,” the young singer says.

Rap and hip-hop are just starting to gain popularity in Afghanistan, particularly among the youth. There are a few male rappers, including 28-year-old Bejan Zafarmal – nicknamed D.J. Besho – who have made a few CDs that can be bought in the Kabul bazaar.

Firooz’s first -and so far only – song was arranged by well-known Afghan singer and composer Fared Rastagar, who recently returned from living in Germany and has a recording studio in Kabul.

“I admire Sosan for her courage and appreciate the support of her family,” Rastagar said. “Rap is needed here,” he said. “We need to bring changes in all parts of life including music.”

It might be a long road to stardom for Firooz.

She lives with her family in a mud brick house in a poor neighborhood in north Kabul. She uses an old desktop computer to write her music, but sometimes it doesn’t work. She received an electronic keyboard as a gift from one of her supporters. She doesn’t have the money to make CDs or a more elaborate music video.

All she knows is that rap music allows her to express the pain and sorrow of her only two decades of life.

“When war started in our country, there were bullets, artillery, rockets. All our trees were burned down. The war forced us to leave our country,” she raps. “We are hopeful for the future in our country. And we request that our neighboring countries leave us alone.”

Via New York Daily News

How Not To Attract Corporate Sponsors- Machine Gun Kelly Edition


A Microsoft Store stirred up more excitement than expected when a rapper’s performance got out of hand.

Appearing at Microsoft’s Atlanta retail store last Friday, rapper Machine Gun Kelly quickly revved into high gear, jumping on tables filled with desktops and laptops, throwing a promotional sign, and giving the finger to Microsoft employees urging him to get down.

The rapper also let loose a string of expletives at the store staffers and reportedly stomped on five computers before the staff cut off the music and his microphone, according to Web site AllHip.com. Annoyed that his performance was cancelled, MGK at first refused to get down from one of the tables before finally admitting defeat.

Police then helped staffers escort the “music artist” out of the store. The rapper even proudly tweeted a photo of himself giving the finger to the people around him before he said the police kicked him out.

Microsoft told CNET that it didn’t sponsor the event, and that the company had offered the store for a private event organized by The Source.

“We offer our stores as a venue for the community to use, and this event was not sponsored by Microsoft,” the company said in an e-mailed statement. “While the artist’s behavior was appropriate for a concert, some of it was not appropriate in a store environment.”

Microsoft often tries to draw the crowds into its stores by offering concerts and celebrity appearances, typically at grand openings. The company’s new store in White Plains, N.Y., featured a performance by Lenny Kravitz last Friday.

Microsoft has hired rap stars before. But after the ruckus caused by MGK, the company will probably be more cautious about the acts it lets perform in its stores.



Via Cnet

Way Way Way Too Many Words On Kreayshawn


Kreayshawn is in a sporting mood.

We’re hanging out in the private back room of 300 New York, the flashy bowling alley inside New York City’s Chelsea Piers. A striped bowling shirt obscures the sleeve of tattoos—which includes food and cartoon characters, among other things—lining the diminutive femcee’s spindly right arm. Perhaps it’s the unique interview environment or the fact that the Summer Olympics are in full swing, but the notorious rap instigator seems, well, rather chipper.

“There are some fine-ass girls. Some buff, fine bitches,” Kreayshawn, who has described herself as “an occasional lesbian,” says of the Olympics. “How does it feel, as a guy, to know that there’s some really hot girl that can kick your ass?”

The 22-year-old rapper is in town to promote her debut album, Somethin ’Bout Kreay, in stores Sept. 18. After the music video for her first single, “Gucci Gucci,” went viral in 2011, notching more than 3 million views in its first three weeks on YouTube, she landed a deal with the major label Columbia Records.

“When it came out, people thought I was dissing on bourgeois bitches, and I’m not. I don’t hate on every girl who has a Gucci bag,” she says. “It’s about how you wear it. People wear name brands and think they’re better than someone. That’s where the term ‘basic bitch’ came from—all these basic bitches wearing name brands thinkin’ that it’s chill, but it’s not.”

Kreayshawn, meanwhile, wasn’t born with a silver spoon in her mouth.

Born Natassia Gail Zolot, she first lived in San Francisco before settling in East Oakland. Her mother, who is of Russian ancestry, was a member of the San Francisco punk band the Trashwomen and introduced her daughter to an eclectic array of music at an early age, everything from Afro-Cuban jazz to heavy metal and rap.

‘Kreayshawn goes disco bowling.’

“When I was 11, we moved to Oakland and she was dating a DJ who also rapped and made music,” says Kreayshawn, who does not know the identity of her biological father. “My mom would rap with him, so me and my homegirl would come home from school and just freestyle about anything. We had a song called ‘Chili and Rice’ about how that was our favorite food combination.”

When her mother moved to Canada to live with a boyfriend, 15-year-old Kreayshawn was forced to live first with her grandpa and then her aunt. During this time, she says, she did her “wild-child thing,” which included getting expelled from a few schools.

“I went to Alameda High for a couple months and wasn’t going to class. Really bad,” she says. “There was this tall, Abercrombie model chick and we picked on each other. I told her I was going to throw a watermelon at her and I guess her dad was a lawyer, so they took it as a death threat and I got expelled and sent to a continuation school.”

At 16, she moved out of her aunt’s and began living on her own, taking a job at IKEA as well as enrolling in the GED work program Job Corps. She also began selling drugs on the side to pay her rent.

“It was definitely to get by. I wasn’t trying to kingpin it out,” she says. “Selling weed and pills was easy for me to have my freedom, but that gets really constricting too because you can go to jail. I was driving a pink Mustang everywhere without any license or insurance.”

A year into selling weed and serving as a pimp of sorts for a pair of women who advertised on Craigslist—she wrote the ads, arranged the deal, and drove them to the “meeting”—Kreayshawn began exploring cinematography. She filmed her friends getting wasted at parties and would edit the videos, giving them slick soundtracks.

“I used a Diplo song and he posted it on one of his blogs as a fan video, and I went to MadDecent.com every day to get music and shit, so when I saw my video up there I was like, ‘What the fuck! This is so amazing,’” she says. “It instantly snapped in my head that I gotta do this for real, so I saved up all the money I could, by dealing drugs, and got a camera. As soon as I got my first camera I quit all the stupid shit I was doing and got in the film game.”

“I’m a big porn watcher, so I follow PornHub, naturally, on Twitter. I saw that PornHub tweeted [Azealia Banks’s video] so I retweeted it and she thought I was sneak-dissin’ her.”

Kreayshawn performs on stage at the Old Blue Last in London. (Christie Goodwin, Redferns / Getty Images)


She filmed music videos for a host of Bay Area artists, including Lil B, and her work caught the eye of Patrick Kriwanek, dean of the Berkeley Digital Film Institute, who offered her a full two-semester scholarship to study film. Kreayshawn met her future manager, Chioke “Stretch” McCoy,” after a move to Los Angeles while shooting a video for the rapper DB tha General, and it was Stretch who convinced her to embark on a rap career of her own.

Following the success of “Gucci Gucci,”  the outspoken rapper made headlines when rapper Rick Ross’s entourage came after her while she was serving as a red-carpet interviewer during the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards. In the past, Kreayshawn had repeatedly criticized Ross, a former prison security guard, for being “fake,”  which presumably set him and his crew off. Thankfully, she had her hulking manager there, Stretch, who leapt to her defense. Video of the incident went viral.

“I was doing interviews and he just came down and saw me, and I said some foul-ass shit I shouldn’t have said, and it caught up with me,” says Kreayshawn. “We had issues, but now it’s all good. It wouldn’t have been a fair fight.”

She did, however, take another jab at Ross on the standout track “Left Eye” off her debut LP, with the line: “You trynna play me like a boss / but you’re faker than Rick Ross,”  but she edited the line out of the final mix.

The pint-size spitter also recently found herself embroiled in a Twitter feud with the rising rapper Azealia Banks.

“I’m a big porn watcher, so I follow PornHub, naturally, on Twitter,” she says. “I saw that PornHub tweeted [her video] so I retweeted it and she thought I was sneak-dissin’ her. We ended up working everything out, and we’re going to work on a song together soon. She’s one of the hardest spitters out in the game, period. Male or female.”

Like Banks, Kreayshawn has spoken frankly about her sexuality, saying she has dated both women and men. Hip-hop/R&B star Frank Ocean’s recent coming out as bisexual has turned the once homophobic hip-hop genre on its head, she says.

“I think it is becoming more accepting, and with stuff like Frank Ocean coming out, it raises awareness that gay people don’t have the right to get married…That’s fucked up, and it shouldn’t be like that,” she says. “People are born gay just like people are born whatever color they are.”

When it comes to bowling, however, Kreayshawn is struggling. After hurling several gutter balls, she becomes despondent, eventually wandering over to a nearby table to munch on a platter of buffalo wings. Her manager, Stretch, is faring much better, mixing in a few strikes. When she later retrieves her bowling ball, I notice an interesting tattoo on the back of her right hand, a sexy alien-looking girl smoking weed on a beach.

“I got a prescription from my doctor that says I have to smoke weed,” she says. “When you’re hella stressed out and frazzled, it’s really hard to get creative and clear your mind. Weed can really help you clear your mind, or you’ll think of new, crazy shit while you’re high that you would’ve never thought of sober.”

She pauses, and continues: “It’s amazing that I’m not in jail for selling pot or something hella wack like that. Obviously, I’m lucky to be where I am right now, so there’s definitely an angel watching me.”



Via The Daily Beast

Coming Soon: An Intensive Course On The Art Of Fizzyology

When Lil Fame aka Fizzy Womack (of the world famous Brooklyn duo M.O.P.) and Termanology (of ST. Da Squad & 1982) first came together to make an album, it started out as a solo Termanology effort produced by Lil Fame, who has helmed the boards on songs for Cam’Ron, Cormega, AZ, and others in recent years. But halfway through recording the release, Fame ended up dropping verses and hooks on almost every song, so the two artists then decided to make the LP a true collaboration album. Fizzyology was born. The end result is 15 tracks deep of timeless music and a landmark recording for both musicians.

With Lil Fame handling the bulk of the production, the album has a hardcore feel that will be familiar to Mash Out Posse fans, while also showcasing Fizzy’s growing talent as a producer with some more soulful sounds. M.O.P. fans can look forward to a brand new M.O.P. album very soon, and Fizzyology will give Lil Fame a chance to really shine as a producer in the meanwhile. The album also features Term and Fame going in on the mic over production by the legendary DJ Premier, plus incredible offerings from beatsmiths The Alchemist, Statik Selektah and J Waxx.

They also hooked up with Busta Rhymes and Styles P (who both rock over the soon-to-be Primo classic), as well as long time cohorts Bun B and Freeway.

“Fizzyology” drops on November 6th, 2012 on ST./Brick Records.

Message For The Day: Pull Ya Damn Pants Up!


A 9-year-old Flatbush rapper has co-written and performed a music video exhorting Brooklyn boys and men to pull up their sagging pants.

Pint-sized Amor “Lilman” Arteaga, who co-wrote “Pull Ya Pants Up” with his dad Juan, 37, and spent the summer filming the music video now up on YouTube, refuses to apologize for the toughly-worded tune.

“It’s disrespectful showing your butt off,” said Amor, a fourth-grader at PS 92 on Parkside Ave. “I’m always seeing boys, girls, rappers, singers — everyone is sagging out.”

The nearly four-minute-long clip shows Amor, sporting an American flag jacket, traveling the streets of his neighborhood pointing out wearers of trousers that slouch down their hips and buttocks.

Mixed in are images of “Lilman” rhyming alongside Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz on the steps of Borough Hall in Downtown Brooklyn.

“I’m tired of seeing all these dirty underwears when I am walking down the street. Pull ‘em up!” Amor says on the video, followed by the catchy hook: “Think that you swaggin’ cause your pants saggin’ — Pull ya pants up. Pull ya pants up.”

The junior songsmith started penning the single when he was 7 — inspired by a scolding from his dad who’d caught him running around the Parade Grounds playground in Flatbush with his jeans drooping below his hips.

“Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to be a star. I didn’t want to go through all this nonsense of cursing. I wanted to be positive with my raps,” Amor says.

Last year, a family friend urged the Arteagas to take the boy to meet Markowitz.

The BP then invited the youngster to perform during the Martin Luther King Jr. Concert Series, held in Coney Island and at Wingate Field in Flatbush.

That’s when Amor debuted “Pull Ya Pants Up” to cheering crowds.

“I am so proud. I couldn’t do what he is doing when I was that age,” said Amor’s gushing dad.

Amor’s goal is to get radio stations in the city to play the song and have shows like Black Entertainment Television’s “106 & Park” feature the video.

“His age is a restriction” said Juan Arteaga. “Everyone says he is just a kid.”

But the setbacks aren’t slowing down Amor’s productivity; he’s busy writing what he hopes will be his next hit: a song about violence and bullying.

“There’s too many shootings. Even little people like me are getting killed,” Amor said. “I see a lot of different things on the news. We gotta stop the killings.”



Via New York Daily News

We World Wide Baby


Something about hip hop/rap music is proving to be the most popular tool for African youths to organize and express collective resistance. Just last week, I wrote about the role of rap and hip hop music in Mali as a rising force of youth empowerment against perceived political injustice.  This week, news reports from Angola are showing a similar trend. Rap star Luaty Beirao, aka Ikonoklasta, is helping galvanize opposition to the newly re-elected Angolan President of 33 years, Jose Eduardo dos Santos. Dissatisfaction with President Santos has been on the rise in Angola for the past several years. The majority of Angolans still live in extreme poverty (most reports estimate between 50-60%) despite Angola’s standing as the second largest oil producer and the third biggest economy in sub-Saharan Africa. The 30-year-old rapper uses his music to openly express his views and awaken young people to the power of protest.  In 2011, while protests were heating up in North Africa, Ikonoklasta was busy heating up his own stage  of some 3,000 fans with an exciting show where he sang out explicit language, waved anti-dos Santos flags, and rallied his audience for an anti-government protest to be held the following week. The show was also filmed and then re-posted to YouTube and spread like wildfire through the social media. Not too many of his fans showed up at the protest, but subsequent rallies and protests cropped up in the same place, and later, in other parts of the country.

Angolan Rap artist Luaty Beirao aka Ikonoklasta

Mr. Beirao keeps paying for his bold stand against the ruling party. He and a few other musicians were detained by the police from that concert in 2011. Again on June 11, 2012 Beirao was arrested by Portuguese authorities at Lisbon airport when coming from Luanda. Apparently a package of cocaine was found stashed in one of his bicycle wheels but he was soon released from custody based on strong indications that Angolan police agents had placed the drugs in his baggage to incriminate him. Another time, during a protest in March, Ikonoklasta was hit on the side of the headby police which left a scar he displays by wearing a mohawk haircut.

Ikonoklast describes his music as conscious hip hop and was drawn to music as a young adult because of the political content he heard in their lyrics. The music is not officially banned in Angola, but has been “purposely neglected” as Mr. Beirao puts it, for over 15 years.  Conscious hip hop is not played on local radio or TV but its underground artists are household names and their music circulates throughout the country on pirate compilations. One of the genre’s biggest distributors are taxi drivers. Some claim that conscious hip hop/rap is far more popular than music that is promoted officially in public and private media. Social media like Facebook and YouTube also spread politicized Angolan hip hop across the continent and the world.

Some Angolan artists are also very productive outside of Angola.  For example, the artist DJ Mpula, also known as Pedro Coquenão, is a kuduro artist who raps socially-conscious messages about Angola in much of his music. Kuduro, which has been around since the 1980s, is a music style that combines samples of traditional carnival music like zoucand soca from the Caribbean and semba from Angola. It weaves it into an up-tempo 4/4 electronica dance beat. Pedro’s sound is making its mark as a new kind of Angola-centric style for his inclusion of traditional Angolan rhythms, lyrics, and dances. His new album Batida, released by Soundway Records in March 2012, is a wonderful work. On this particular track, Tirei O Chapeau, the featured rapper, is none other than Ikonoklasta.

Pedro began to make his own tracks in his loft and drop them into a radio show he hosted in Portugal. The very encouraging reaction he got to his tracks gave him the idea to make a record. He sent out instrumentals to rappers in Angola and Lisbon, gave them a rough lyric theme that he thought matched the mood of the track. Before long, recordings of vocals started coming back. He took the album to producer and mixing engineer, Beat Laden, in Lisbon and finished it in 2009. Pedro told Soundcloud in a recent interview that “being half Angolan, half Portuguese gives me the chance to try to translate the countries to each other, on a small scale of course. It’s impossible now a days to live in Lisbon and not to talk about crisis. Likewise, it’s impossible to have friends and family in Luanda and not include the political and social problems that the city has.” One of my favorite tracks on this album is “Yumbala Mixtape.” I like it for the excellent blend of dance groove and serious lyric message. He denounces the general poor living conditions and corruption in Angola. But the serious topic doesn’t deter its overall objective – get up and move.

“Yumbala” Sample

Back to the recent news articles on Angola– following its recent presidential elections, one observation by journalist Peter Wonacott jumped out at me. In his August 30th piece about youth protests, Wonacott says the moneyed elite in Angola live in swank apartment complexes such  as the one called “Nova Vida” (The New Life,) while directly opposite lies a slum complex that residents call “Vida Esquecida”  (The Forgotten Life.)  It reminded me of something I’d heard before, but it wasn’t called “Nova Vida.” It was called “Waga 2000″ and it refers to a development project of luxurious homes and apartments where the moneyed elite and businessmen congregate from all over West Africa. It too is only steps away from one of the poorest slum  neighborhoods of Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. The same shocking divide between rich and poor is decried by hip hop/rap musicians in Burkina Faso today as well.

The trio includes the Burkina MCs, Art Melody and Joey Le Soldat, and Frenchman DJ Form — two rappers and a beatmaker.  They claim to have become the spokesmen for the entire Burkinabe youth, students, shopkeepers, farmers and artists. They deliver the conscious hip hop with their own unique blend of electronic music, hip hop, and warba – a traditional dance of the Mossi, the largest ethnic group in the country. The two rappers protest the condition of Ouaga’s hoods, and the injustice of living day to day without any future, entrenched in poverty, corruption and violence. This track “Sak Sin Paode” (Accept What is Small) is off their brand new album, Waga 3000, named after the Ouaga 2000 development project. The vocals were recorded in Ouagadougou in just two days and their music video was reportedly shot on the fly in Ouagadougou.

“Sak Sin Paode” Sample

African youth find hip hop/rap music an effective means of organizing and expressing collective resistance. In one way, this is not surprising at all. After all, rap in the United States and its Jamaican predecessor, toasting, has been an effective and wildly popular mode of communication among youths for decades. Right here in my own neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia, I regularly drive down one particular street that divides the “the projects” on one side (public housing for low- and moderate-income residents) and brand new condos starting at $600,000 on the other. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that young local rappers on that very street have a rhyme or two about that. Furthermore,  the roots of rap are African in a round about way because the art of storytelling and lyric improvising over a beat is quite ancient and found in many West African musical traditions. What is surprising is the significant differences between the ancient music forms that are the primary source material for hip hop/rap and contemporary hip hop/rap practiced by African youth today.  In terms of musical lineage, tradition, instrumentation, and transmission, the two forms hardly seem related. Rappers don’t rhyme to traditional instruments anymore (though they may use them from time to time in their electronic mixes.) They  aren’t born into a family lineage of rappers as many West Africans are, and they don’t learn the art through a process of face to face transmission from father to son, mother to daughter like the griots did and still do. Rap doesn’t have an African traditional repertoire, style, technique, and delivery that takes years of dedicated practice and sacrifice to master. Today’s African hip hop/rap artists are creating their own, new thing learning and styling themselves according to their own rules and aesthetics. They look to the West and to their own past for inspiration and direction. Similar to the back-and-forth, Circum-Atlantic love affair of the clave between West Africa and Latin America that resulted in AfroCuban, AfroBrazilian and Afro Columbian music, the love affair of the spoken word set to rhythm carries on it’s own stories in African hip hop and rap today.


Via Voice Of America


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In Other Dubious Endorsement News…


Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr. (more commonly known by his stage name Snoop Dogg and/orSnoop Lion) has joined the chorus of celebrities throwing their support behind President Obama. The veteran gangsta rapper offered a spirited political endorsement:

[George W. Bush] fucked up for eight years so you at least gotta give [Barack Obama] eight years. He cleaned up half the shit in four years realistically. It ain’t like you gave him a clean house. Y’all gave him a house with a TV that didn’t work, the toilet was stuffed up; everything was wrong with the house. [The American people] need to give Obama four more years.

If any of that sounds familiar, it’s probably because Bill Clinton basically said the exact same thing at the Democratic convention last week:

No president—not me or any of my predecessors—could have repaired all the damage in just four years. But conditions are improving and if you’ll renew the President’s contract you will feel it…[President Obama] inherited a deeply damaged economy, put a floor under the crash, [and] began the long hard road to recovery…[W]e have to re-elect President Barack Obama!

Snoop Dogg/Lion—who insists that he is the reincarnation of Jamaican singer-songwriter Bob Marley—has come a long way since 2008, when he accused then Sen. Obama of accepting money from the Ku Klux Klan. (Although Dogg/Lion also emphasized back then that “that muthafucker [Obama's] gonna be the president cuz McCain can’t fuck with him. Hillary can’t fuck with him. He’s winning over white people, white ladies.”)

Earlier this year, the rap icon publicly offered to start hitting the bong with Obama. He and the president have some strong, longstanding disagreements regarding the drug war. But that hasn’t proved a deal breaker:

Obama! Allday fuck d rest!!

Via Mother Jones

Make Up Your Mind Nicki, We Are All Waiting On You!




Reports of Nicki Minaj’s endorsement of Mitt Romney have been greatly exaggerated.

“Ha! Thank you for understanding my creative humor & sarcasm Mr. President, the smart ones always do. *sends love & support,*” the singer/rapper tweeted Monday.

She added: “Awesome! Now I can tell my grandchildren that the 1st black President of the United States took the time to address a Nicki Minaj question Expand”

President Obama was asked in an interview with a Florida radio station if he had any reaction to Minaj rapping a seemingly pro-Romney line. “I’m a Republican voting for Mitt Romney, you lazy b——s are f—— up the economy,” Minaj rapped on a recent Lil Wayne mixtape — prompting stories that she had endorsed Romney and embraced conservative economic principles.

“She likes to play different characters. So I don’t know what’s going on there,” Obama told Power 953.

It’s a reminder that the lyrics of any musician cannot necessarily be taken literally — Johnny Cash, after all, did not in fact shoot a man in Reno just to watch him die.

Via Politico

There Is A Reason Your Mother Wanted You To Become A Doctor


Move over Jay-Z, Dr. Dre is now the richest man in hip-hop.

Forbes just published their list of the top earners in hip-hop and Dre has ousted Jay as the number one cash king. Last year, Jay-Z topped the list with $37 million, but this year, Dre’s pretax earnings of $110 million dramatically eclipsed everyone else in hip hop, securing him the number one spot.

Dre’s money doesn’t come from his music, though. In fact, the release date of his long-awaited new album, Detox, has been pushed back more than a decade now. Instead his riches come from his lucrative headphones and speakers company. According to Forbes, Dre’s rise to the top of hip hop moguldom started when he and Interscope Records chief Jimmy Iovine were walking along the beach pondering whether or not Dre should launch his own shoe line. “[Forget] sneakers,” said Iovine. “Let’s sell speakers!” Six years later, Dre is making more money than anyone else in the business, all thanks to Beats by Dre. Last year, according to Forbes, Dre collected $100 million when the company sold a 51% stake in the business to Taiwan-based smartphone maker HTC.

(MOREHow Many of Jay-Z’s Songs Contain the Word ‘Bitch’?)

Indeed, most of the top earners in hip hop seem to be making their money outside of the recording studio. Sean Combs, a.k.a. Diddy, ranked No. 2 on Forbes’ list with $45 million in earnings, thanks to his share of profits from Diageo’s Ciroc vodka. And last year’s top rapper, Jay-Z, raked in $38 million from his ownership stakes in cosmetics company Carol’s Daughter, the Brooklyn Nets basketball team and a venture with Duracell. Jay-Z is one of the few who also actually made money from his music — specifically, Watch the Throne, his 2011 collaboration with Kanye West. (Watch the Throne and the ensuing concert tour helped push West up the list as well; he came in fourth with $35 million.)

Rounding out the top five is Lil Wayne, who brought in $27 million on sales of his latest album, Tha Carter IV, along with profits from his clothing line Trukfit and a partnership with Pepsi’s Mountain Dew.

(MOREDr. Dre Announces Detox Is His Final Album)

Drake (No. 6) banked $20.5 million last year, while labelmate Nicki Minaj (No. 8), earned $15.5 million through a combination of music, tours and product endorsements. Eminem is one of the few artists to make a living exclusively off of his music: He came in at No. 9 on the list, and has now sold more albums in the last decade than any other hip hop artist, according to Forbes. Those royalties, plus an extensive back catalog and sporadic touring, meant Marshall Mathers could still pull in a tidy $15 million last year despite not having a new album to sell. Ludacris was the tenth highest earner in hip hop but he could be one of the most diversified: his $12 million comes from multiple revenue streams, including deals with Conjure cognac and headphone line Soul, voiceover work for RadioShack commercials and his salary as an actor, with roles in such films as Fast Five and New Year’s Eve.

In total, Forbes’ top 20 hip-hop earners pulled in $415 million last year, the most since 2008.

To compile the list, Forbes looked at income from touring, record sales, publishing, films, merchandise sales, endorsements and other ventures from May 2011 to May 2012.

Via Time

Vinnie Paz Is Going To Make Our Fall Ass Kickingly Good

For more than a decade and a half, Vinnie Paz has been a mainstay at the top of the independent hip-hop scene. He is the frontman of both Jedi Mind Tricks and Army of the Pharaohs and one half of the Heavy Metal Kings duo with ILL BILL. In 2010, he stepped out as a solo artist with his album, Season of the Assassin, which featured the popular track, “End of Days.”

On October 22, 2012, Vinnie will release his sophomore solo album God of the Serengeti featuring production by DJ Premier, Havoc (Mobb Deep), Psycho Les (Beatnuts), Marco Polo, C-Lance and more with guest appearances by Scarface, Mobb Deep, Immortal Technique, La Coka Nostra, Army of the Pharaohs, Kool G. Rap, R.A. the Rugged Man and others. The 18-track album promises to add another chapter in the growing legacy of Vinnie Paz’s uncompromising brand of hardcore hip-hop.

Vinnie Paz says, “I got the chance to work with a lot of legends this time around, which was an honor. To be able to work with people that I came up listening to like DJ Premier, Scarface, Mobb Deep, The Beatnuts, Tragedy, and Kool G. Rap is a blessing and a humbling reminder of how far I’ve come since I first started recording demos twenty years ago,” Paz continues, “to make records for a living isn’t something I take for granted and hopefully that passion I have for this comes across in all of the music I make whether that’s with Jedi Mind Tricks, Army of the Pharaohs, Heavy Metal Kings, or my solo stuff.”

Vinnie Paz’s new solo album, God of the Serengeti, available October 22, 2012 on Vinnie’s own imprint, Enemy Soil.

The first leak from the project, “7 Fires Of Prophecy” f/ Tragedy Khadafi is included Here

Best Endorsement EVER!!


On Lil Wayne’s  just-released mixtape “Dedication 4,” rapper-singer Nicki Minaj seems to endorse GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The twentysomething Minaj, who was born in Trinidad but grew up in Queens, can be heard rapping this line on the track “Mercy”: “I’m a Republican voting for Mitt Romney, you lazy b—-es are f—ing up the economy.” But, in the same rap, Minaj also mentions hanging out with zombies, so it’s hard to say exactly what it all means. Regardless of her political affiliation, it is kinda funny how she somehow rhymes “Romney” with “economy.” A representative for Minaj didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

Via The Wall Street Journal

Holy Fuck, Deltron Is Coming Back Bigger Than Ever!

Sidelined by sickness, a rapid rewriting session and the death of his younger brother last year, Del the Funky Homosapien says the on-again, off-again dark sequel to 2000′s Deltron 3030 will finally see the light of day this fall.

Deltron 3030: Event II picks up a decade later in a more desperate and dystopian society, where “there’s no government, criminals run the streets, people battle just to eat,” Del tells Rolling Stone, on the phone from Oakland. “That’s the world we’re living in right now.”

This much-anticipated soundtrack for the year 3040 – “bigger and more grandiose” than its predecessor, says Del – was delayed in part when the emcee came down with Legionnaires’ disease while touring. The bacteria associated with the infection has been known to fester in air-conditioning units.

“I wasn’t in the mindstate to write, that had a lot to do with it,” admits Del, who returns in the sequel to the post-apocalyptic “rock opera” as protagonist Deltron Zero. “But I had been needling at it for years, know what I mean? I wanted to write and I wanted to have some kind of substance to it with the approach, as opposed to the first time, where I was freestyling. It was more like a hobby. I wasn’t really thinking about it that much – I wasn’t thinking it was going to turn into what it turned into.”

Deltron 3030, which also featured producer Dan the Automator and turntablist Kid Koala, cracked the Billboard 200 at a time when more mainstream artists like Ja Rule, Nelly and Ludacris topped the charts. With its densely sampled backdrop of swelling orchestral crescendos, the pre-9/11 concept album foreshadowed an ominous era. It attained a cult following, fueled by Del’s early Nineties singles and Dan’s reputation with fellow underground acts Handsome Boy Modeling School and Kool Keith.

“I’m a huge, huge fan,” says actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who flew from a film premiere in Korea to join Deltron 3030 for its performance at Rock the Bells in San Bernardino earlier this month. After befriending Dan the Automator during filming for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Winstead was invited to the producer’s San Francisco studio in January to sing on a track called “Look Across the Sky.”

“I never really expected it to end up on the album,” she says. “It shows the kind of crossover appeal that it has, that it sparks something in me as someone who doesn’t even really listen to that kind of music, necessarily.”

Though Dan the Automator and Kid Koala finished their parts long ago, Del hit another snag earlier this year when he spent a frenzied week rewriting raps after his lyrics went missing from his computer. “I just sat there at Automator’s house and started writing from scratch to every beat that he played,” he said. “I see it as good, almost. Because I get to just write it over and do it better.”

Dan the Automator says the sequel’s “fairly long genesis” began in 2006. “Ultimately, I would have preferred to put it out sooner . . . But beyond that part of it, I’ve learned more things, I’ve worked with more bands, I’ve gotten more ideas. Basically, I think this record is a lot better than the last one.”

Samples are nowhere to be found on Event II, which will feature original orchestral compositions on songs like “Do You Remember” and “Nobody Can.” Kid Koala scratches bits of keyboard and guitar he recorded and pressed onto vinyl. “For Deltron recordings, I always get in the mindstate of what turntables would sound like in the Blade Runner era,” he says. Del “is like the Orson Welles of rhyme.”

The album, due “October-ish,” says Dan the Automator, is “more of a commentary about where we’re heading,” with undertones of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the banking bailout and the economy.

As for a potential Deltron trilogy, Del warns fans not to wait for a third installment. The avid comic book collector said he would rather pursue scoring a digital comic, and he is in talks with a Pixar artist about multimedia opportunities.

“I want something that got music with it, but I also want dope artwork, too. Something you can follow,” he says. “I try not to get too political.”

Via Rolling Stone

Heems From Das Racist Gets Political


The City Council’s redistricting commission is meeting to hear public input in Queens this evening, and before they do, groups are pushing them to avoid splitting their communities.

One of those groups is SEVA, which is specifically calling for a district that keeps the neighborhoods of Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park intact, as they both contain a significant South Asian and Indo-Caribbean population. And to make that call, they’ve enlisted Himanshu “Heems” Suri, one of the members of the rap group Das Racist, to lobby for their cause.

“This largely immigrant community has been underserved by the city and state for decades,” Mr. Suri wrote in an open letter to Council Speaker Christine Quinn. “The signs of institutional neglect are too obvious; the demise of Richmond Hill high school, the decay in transportation infrastructure, the absence of local programs for our senior citizens, and the lack of capital investment by the city and state are just some of the struggles of this community.”

Mr. Suri argued this dilapidated set of conditions is because of gerrymandering — the process of contorting the boundaries of legislative seats to serve particular political purposes, such as the protection of incumbents or partisan advantage. Over Twitter, SEVA said these two neighborhoods are currently split into four different Council districts.

“Not even one single district office—at any legislative level—exists in this community,” Mr. Suri explained. “It’s time twhat this community is united and has a champion for its causes in the City Council.”

This is not Mr. Suri’s first attempt to influence the redistricting process either. Earlier this year, he released a solo mixtape in conjunction with SEVA in the hopes of getting the community more interested in how political lines were drawn.

Other Asian American advocacy groups are also getting involved. Right before the redistricting hearing begins at Queens Borough Public Library, members of the Asian American Community Coalition on Redistricting and Democracy (ACCORD), an alliance of 14 organizations, will be holding a press conference on the library’s steps, undoubtedly to call for additional communities of interest to be kept intact as well.

Himanshu to Christine Quinn

Via Politicker.com

Holy Fuck, Gunplay Sounds Legit Insane

Gunplay was consuming so many narcotics while making his aptly titled debut mixtape, Sniffahill, in 2008 that he dubbed himself “five-drug minimum” on one of its freestyles. Actually, for meter’s sake, he said it in an abbreviated form (“five-drug mini/I popped ’bout… I forgot about how many”), but the nickname stuck.

“At any given time, I was on lean — prometh[azine] and codeine — coke, X, weed, and maybe Percs or some prescription drug to mellow everything out,” the Maybach Music Group loose cannon says, recalling his preferred drug cocktail circa ’08. “And I would just be in a zone. Those were the days. I didn’t know my ass from a hole in the ground.”

As Gunplay developed his voice on mixtapes like Off Safety and Don Logan as well as releases by the Carol City Cartel, references to drug use became staples of his music. Though just one element of a volatile lyrical mixture equally rife with callous and even occasionally grotesque descriptions of sex and violence (“Dirty bitch got doodoo on her thong/Make a nigga go soft, limp noodle can’t bone,” he grunts on a track called “Always in Some Trouble”), it was Gunplay’s talk about sniffing hooray that made the “human L.A. riot” notorious.

But as common as it is for rappers to boast about $1,000-plus-a-week weed habits, copping to a weakness for hard drugs has, until very recently, been a faux pas in hip-hop — an admission of weakness with potentially career-ending ramifications.

“I knew some people would be like, ‘He snorts cocaine! Awwawawaa!’” an excited Gunplay howls during his sit-down with New Times at Doral’s Huge Music Recording Studios. “But I. Don’t. Give. A fuck,” he says pointedly. “I knew there’s a million motherfuckers that’s snorting that’s going to vibe with this. So I’m gonna make music for them. And after a while, them motherfuckers gonna tell the sober motherfuckers: ‘Man, you trippin’, dawg! You might need to snort a line and listen to dawg’s shit. Or at least drink a wine cooler. Dayum!’”

But the effects of his drug habit took a toll on his breathing and appearance, not to mention personal and professional relationships. Things came to a head on Memorial Day 2008. “That whole weekend, I went hard,” Gunplay remembers of his last coke bender. “I had a corner left of the eightball in the bag, and I put it on the back of my hand, blasted off, and said, ‘That’s it — I’m done.’”

A coke-free Gunplay approached his rap career with renewed focus. “I wasn’t expecting to live this long. So I’m like, ‘Shit, I’m still here? Hold up, let me buckle down.’” And his electric 2010 collaboration, “Rollin’,” with the similarly rambunctious (and then-ascendant) Waka Flocka Flame, was the turning point he needed to propel his career forward following the disappointment of the Triple C’s album Custom Cars and Cycles.

“He on that same crunk shit I’m on,” Gunplay says, referring to the “Hard in the Paint” rapper. “That motherfucker jumps in the crowd, moshing with the people. I’m on that! When he did it, and was mainstream with it, now the public has an ear for that. So when I bring it to the table, they are going to [be more open to it]. It meshed real good, and the public accepted it.”

Released for free online this past February, “Cartoon and Cereal” with Kendrick Lamar was even more revelatory. The pain that’s always bubbled beneath the surface of Gunplay’s rhymes was brought to the fore by some of his most personal lines: “Salt all of my wounds/Hear my tears all in my tunes/Let my life loose in this booth/Just for you, motherfucker, hope y’all amused.”

“That crunk shit is cool, but the easiest music I can make is that heartfelt music, that truth shit that I really want to say without rapping,” Gunplay insists. “But I have to put it in rhyme form. When you hear a Gunplay album, you’re gonna hear that. At the end of that album, you will totally understand Gunplay. I want you to know why I’m so energetic and why I feel so much pain in my heart. The world is [totally ass-backward] to me. And that’s why I act the way I act.”

When Gunplay drops his Def Jam debut, Medellín, there’s a strong possibility he might do so under a different name. Turns out Gunplay isn’t exactly a corporate-friendly moniker. When Maybach Music Group was invited to participate in a freestyle cypher segment at the 2011 BET Hip-Hop Awards, producers not only balked at letting Gunplay appear but also barred the other MCs from even saying his name.

Enter Don Logan, an alter ego the rapper adopted from the 2000 British crime drama Sexy Beast, costarring Ben Kingsley as a determined enforcer capable of flipping from unnervingly calm to raging psychopath in a split second. After becoming a rabid fan of the film, Gunplay introduced the persona on a 2010 mixtape of the same name.

“When I saw his attitude in the movie, I was like, That’s me,” the rapper barks. “We’re gonna make the transition so we don’t have to go on BET and they call me G-Play. No! The name is Don Logan. If you don’t like that, it’s Jupiter Jack. Welcome to my universe! Yeah!”

But Gunplay’s name isn’t the only baggage likely to give him trouble as his profile grows. There’s also the matter of his fascination with Nazi iconography, specifically the large swastika tattoo on his neck. Though there’s nothing to suggest that the MC of mixed Jamaican and Puerto Rican parentage harbors anti-Semitic views, there’s also no justifiable reason in the average person’s mind to get such a tainted symbol tattooed on one’s body.

Still, Gunplay has a fairly complex explanation for the tattoo. And hoping to elaborate, he reached out to New Times after his comments in a recent interview with music blog Pigeons and Planes became a hot topic on Twitter and music websites.

“The swastika was a Chinese symbol back in the day, meaning love, peace, and prosperity,” Gunplay says. “When Hitler picked it as a symbol for his Third Reich, it was right side up. And after he got in power, he turned it to the left, and that’s when it got corrupt.

“That’s basically the same thing that happened with me. We’re born innocent, and the way you grow up — the people you’re surrounded by, the environment — it turns you crooked. It turns you into that bad person, that thug, that undesirable element.”

It’s a forgone conclusion that the flak Gunplay receives for the tattoo will only increase as he becomes better known. Yet he has no plans to cover it up. “If anyone don’t like it, fuck them,” he says before letting out a hearty laugh. “[Unless] I go to prison or they kill my ass, I don’t care.”

Gunplay’s uncompromising brashness leaves little room for indifference. Music websites and online video commenters tend to peg him either as an iconoclastic evil genius, an imbecile, or worse. But with nonthreatening, Drake-style emo rap becoming hip-hop’s new norm, it seems the door is wide open for an incorrigible antihero to make the genre dangerous again, in much the same way that DMX, high and freshly sprung from prison, did at the height of the Bad Boy era some 14 years ago.

“What my mama used to say?” Gunplay asks rhetorically. “Sometimes you gotta play the fool to catch the wise. You might think I’m retarded and dumb. Cool, I like to keep an air of unpredictability around me. I might dap you up, smile, and slap you in the face. I don’t even know what I’m gonna do next.”

Actually, if this rap thing doesn’t work out, Gunplay already has a back-up plan. He’s already preparing to launch his Apples and Onions Executive Escort Agency this fall. The business concept: Export his Miami-style, street-level pimp skills across the United States, starting with Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, to which he’ll temporarily relocate in September to begin operations.

“This has been my dream since I was a kid,” Gunplay says. “Since I broke my first bitch, I always knew, yeah, I’m gonna own an escort service. I’m gonna take this po’ pimpin’ to some mo’ pimpin’.”

Asked if Def Jam might have any reservations about its latest signee treading into such dubious legal waters, Gunplay doesn’t appear the least bit concerned. “If they don’t like it, they’ll be fucked up, ’cause I’m doing it.”

Via Miami New Times

Questionable Career Choices: Lil Wayne Edition


Apparently his broken clavicle and numerous stitches haven’t put a damper on iconic rapper Lil Wayne’s enthusiasm for skateboarding. Although the rapper’s latest mixture, “Dedication 4,” drops on Aug. 15, last week in an interview with Atlanta, Ga. radio station HOT107.9, Wayne confessed that he’s going to be taking a hiatus from his music career to focus his full attention of skateboarding.

“I picked up the skateboard and I thought it’d be a hobby and what happened is it’s a lifestyle. In order to be fully committed you have to live that lifestyle. With these young kids now, you have to be about that life. It’s kind of putting rap on the back burner. Rap is taking a backseat to skating. I believe my fans deserve some peace from me. I’ll be on my skateboard in the meantime.”

In his latest interview Wayne went on to describe a flat-bar and a quarter pipe he has installed in his recording booth, “so as soon as I get off the mike, I just drop the board down and skate.” The prolific rapper, who’s released nine albums, 17 mix tapes and appeared as a guest on hundreds of tracks, has been performing since he was eight years old, when most kids would be asking their parents for their first skateboard.

With his long history behind a microphone, and in front of an audience of millions, perhaps it’s not surprising that he’s stepping back.

“I’m always looking for the next thing to do. It does get pretty boring when it comes to just the rapping and all that type of stuff,” he said.

In the past year, rumors of Wayne’s skateboarding have heated up, as footage of him skating parks began to circulate on the Internet. The multi-platinum, Grammy winner debuted his line of skate apparel, TRUKFIT, during the Agenda Tradeshow this past January, and is currently developing a line of Lil Wayne skate footwear to be manufactured by Supra.

Also, last week it was announced that through a partnership with Mountain Dew, the non-profit youth mentoring program STOKED and the building expertise of California Skateparks, Lil Wayne will be bringing a skatepark to New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward. A New Orleans native and its’ proudest export, besides The Saints and gumbo, the skatepark will celebrate the community’s revitalization after being devastated by Hurricane Katrina almost seven years ago.



Ruste Juxx Is Going To Make Our Fall


Nobody works harder than Ruste Juxx. Just six months after his last album Hardbodie Hip Hop, the gritty Brooklyn MC and longtime Boot Camp Clik collaborator has teamed up with acclaimed Boston hip hop producer The Arcitype to release V.I.C. on September 25th, 2012 through AR Classic Records / Duck Down Music Inc.

On the surface, the title V.I.C. stands for “Victorious Impervious Champions.” Digging deeper, though, it’s a reference to Juxx’s real name, Victor Evans. Thus, V.I.C. serves as an introduction to some and a proclamation to all.


Building off nearly two decades of underground buzz, V.I.C. stands as Juxx’s strongest work to date. He proudly declares, “It’s a fresh new sound, no sampling on the album, no cursing…I’m really proud of it.” With no cursing, Juxx hopes to direct listeners’ main focus to his lyrics and his message. The album is for all ages, and the lack of profanity allows both young and old to indulge in this infectious 15-track offering.

The Arcitype provides the necessary backdrop to Juxx’s aggressive cadence & well-timed punchlines. The Boston producer uses his training as a blues guitarist to create funk-infused, sample free head-nodders He has been cosigned by laudable producers Jake One and Vitamin D. The album was completely recorded and produced in The Arcitype’s studio in Cambridge,Massachusetts.

Several tracks on the album stand out. “Right There With Me,” featuring Sadat X, is a recollected rest-in-peace tribute to Juxx’s late sister. “Rock to the Rhythm” and “The Life I Live” showcase Juxx’s lyrical prowess over The Arcitype’s hard-hitting drums and melded instrumentation.

In the past, Ruste has toured with Wu-Tang alumni Ghostface Killah, Sean Price and Jedi Mind Tricks and been featured numerous times on prominent hip hop blogs 2dopeboyz, Hip Hop DX and Nah Right. Fans can look forward to videos for “Rock To The Rhythm” & “GGTC.”

Rise-Ascend Fights The Power

Rowandan B-Boys

Peep It Here


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Damn Homie! 50 Cent Loses Out On Irish Dough.

A Dublin shop has banned rapper 50 Cent from a lucrative personal appearance after he made online slurs about autism.

Mobile phone retailed Carphone Warehouse has cancelled 50 Cent’s gig at the Dundrum shopping centre in protest.

The American star caused uproar with his autistic comments to an eager fan on Twitter.
50 Cent tweeted: “Yeah just saw your picture fool you look autistic.”

He then told his seven million followers on Twitter: “Don’t want no special ed kids on my time line follow some body else.”

A spokesman for Carphone Warehouse told the Irish Sun newspaper that they have no plans to reschedule the personal appearance by the rapper.

Over a thousand fans were expected at the store with 50 Cent due to fly in from Paris to launch a new range of headphones.

The company announced online: “We have decided not to go ahead with the 50 Cent event on Wednesday in Dundrum, thanks for all your feedback.”

The paper reports that Irish fans disgusted by the star’s comments were quick to praise the decision.

One wrote: “Well done @carphoneIE for dumping 50 Cent over his comments about autism. Way to set an example.”

Another said: “Well done to all concerned for showing that tool that autism isn’t a laughing matter!Thank you for backing us up!!”

50 Cent also hit the headlines last year when he had to apologise for tweeting inappropriate jokes about the Japanese tsunami.

After the disaster, he wrote: “Look this is very serious people I had to evacuate all my h**s from LA, Hawaii and Japan. I had to do it. Lol.”

He later ‘apologised’, saying: “Some of my tweets are ignorant I do it for shock value. Hate it or love it. I’m cool either way.”

Via Irish Central

Justin Bieber Bites Tupac’s Steez; Tupac Rolls Over In Grave

August 28th Is Going To Be Brutal!!


Diggaz With Attitude Track List:
1. Intro (Prod. By Vanderslice)
2. A Word From The Ghetto Child Ft. Smiley Da Ghetto Child (Prod. By Vanderslice)
3. Half Dead Ft. Apathy, Roc Marciano & Planet Asia (Prod. By Stu Bangas)
4. Pharoah Status Ft. Esoteric (Prod. By Stu Bangas)
5. The Gusto Ft. Apathy, Roc Marciano, Alchemist & Evidence (Prod. By Vanderslice)
6. The Brutual Music Collection Agency (Prod. By Vanderslice)
7. Okay, Player Ft. Wais P (Prod. By Vanderslice)
8. Death Wish Ft. Ill Bill, Blaq Poet & Wais P (Prod. By Stu Bangas)
9. Extened Mags Ft. Outerspace (Prod. By Vanderslice)
10. Spyhunter Ft. Blacastan (Prod. By Vanderslice)
11. The Van Sleazy Extravaganza (Prod. By Vanderslice)
12. Casino Royale Ft. Apathy & Blacastan (Prod. By Vanderslice)
13. 1st Degree Murder Ft. Vinnie Paz, Roc Marciano & Celph Titled (Prod. By Stu Bangas)
14. The Realest Ft. Slaine & Ill Bill (Prod. By Stu Bangas)
15. Vikings Ft. Apathy & Wais P (Prod. By Stu Bangas)
16. Black Lung Rap Ft. Reef The Lost Cauze (Prod. By Vanderslice)
17. Thank You & F*Ck You (Prod. By Vanderslice)

Supastition Is Back!!




“After a two year sabbatical and recording 40-something songs only for my own listening pleasure…. I guess, I still have something left to say after all. After years of reluctance about releasing music again, I can honestly thank one acclaimed, yet elusive, producer for lighting a fire under me again. We both felt stagnant with the music we were creating for years with other people. We decided to create a brand new entity to express ourselves. One emcee + one producer = one hell of a concept album. A definitive concept album where every single song follows the story. As you know with songs like A Baby Story, I have a sick sense of storytelling, so don’t expect anything remotely close to being… normal. More on that later though. We both agreed to finish the album first before we shared any of the major details about it.”

“I’d like to thank every single person who continued listening to my music (whether it was just one song or every song in my catalog) during my self-imposed exile from music. The emails and messages never stopped coming in and some of them reached me on days when I probably needed to hear it most. I’d also like to thank my manager,Sav, for stepping up and putting a lot of things into perspective for me. I’ve learned some hard lessons over the past few years about family, genuine friends, business, religion, and just accepting reality. In closing, I just want to extend my gratitude and appreciation to all of those who have supported me in any way. Much love” - Supastition

Us 30 Somethings Get Some Love

“Few would have imagined that one of the most powerful and acclaimed protest songs of the year, “Reagan,” would be about the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s, name-check Oliver North and feature the final words, “I’m glad Reagan’s dead.”

Decades old geopolitical scandals aren’t exactly hot topics among the Facebook generation. Even fewer would have predicted that the song would arrive via a 37-year-old Atlanta rapper called Killer Mike who’d been through the major label system a decade earlier but had since virtually vanished from the national hip-hop conversation while the next generation staked its claim. But now his mature, inventive new album, “R.A.P. Music,” released by the Adult Swim network’s Williams Street imprint, has propelled him from the dungeon to the mainstream.

That sort of thing seldom happens in hip-hop, which in its 30-plus-year history has placed a higher value on youthful energy than aged wisdom. In a genre that Public Enemy’sChuck D accurately described as “the black CNN,” most of the innovation has come from cub reporters in their teens and 20s; few have been the MCs who have jumped into consciousness after hitting 35. There’s a reason why more rappers have monikers beginning with the slang “Lil” (Wayne, Kim, Boosie, Bow Wow, B and Debbie) than there are Ol’ Dirty Bastards.

But this year, a number of the best albums, tracks and verses have come from seasoned yet lesser-known rappers such as Mike “Killer Mike” Render, whose “R.A.P. Music” shows an artist hitting his stride. That it was produced by longtime rapper-producer-former label head El-P, also 37, is notable. El-P’s new album, “Cancer 4 Cure,” reveals a talented musician also hitting an artistic milestone 10 years after his classic solo debut “Fantastic Damage” created buzz in the indie-rapunderground and 15 years after he co-created the rap group Company Flow. (The two perform together at the Echoplex on Thursday night.)

The now ubiquitous rapper 2 Chainz, 35, burst onto the same hip-hop charts that eluded him when he was 28 and his name was Tity Boi (then again, maybe it was the name . . .). The 35-year-old Pusha T’s recent work with Kanye West (35) has matured in ways that few would have expected when his career stalled after releasing “Hell Hath No Fury” as a 29-year-old co-founder of the Clipse. Add in the highly anticipated new album by respected veteran Nas, 38, whose recent tracks sound more energetic and vital than anything he’s done in a decade, and hip-hop’s relationship with age seems to be evolving along with the music.

If history is any guide, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Jazz turned 30 around the time that Miles Davis and John Coltrane started pushing it in new, post-bop directions. Each was then in his 20s, but both kept expanding the definition of the music as they grew older. Davis, in fact, released some of his most controversial and innovative music after he hit 40 in 1966. In a January 1968 interview with writer Arthur Taylor, Davis, then 41, expressed frustration with the state of jazz as it and he were hitting middle age.

“[All] those records they make nowadays … the guys copy off the records, so they don’t have anything original,” said Davis. “You can’t find a musician who plays anything different. They all copy off each other. If I were starting out again, I wouldn’t listen to records. I very seldom listen to jazz records, because they all do the same thing.”

This was around the time he began fusing funk, rock and jazz to create some of his most polarizing and adventurous music. Coltrane died at age 40, a year after releasing the cosmic free-jazz masterpiece “Ascension,” prompting one to wonder where his music would have traveled had he lived another few decades.

Yes, there are outliers, the most obvious beingJay-Z, who at 43 is the most popular and successful rapper in the world. That he’s at his pinnacle of fame is commendable, but the same can’t be said for his sense of artistic adventure — especially considering that at the same age, Davis released “Bitches Brew” and blew a lot of fans’ minds. It’s hard to imagine Jay-Z doing the same this year.

Snoop Dogg has also somehow remained relevant at age 40, but he’s accomplished that not by pushing at hip-hop’s boundaries but by adapting to the music’s evolutionary advances. Raucous party rapper E-40 is as popular as ever at age 44, but mostly because he remains on message — girls, weed, drink, riding — and has built a virtually indestructible sound. The murders of superstarsTupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls in the ’90s are doubly tragic when you contemplate the musical advances never made.

In this context, the recent (completely unsubstantiated) rumor involving Kanye West making a record consisting entirely of sounds drawn from animals can only be encouraging for those advocates of the genre’s evolution (even if it’s an aesthetically dubious proposition).

Not that Killer Mike is a proponent of unchecked hip-hop expansion. On “R.A.P. Music,” he strongly — and wrongly — rails against the current trend of dance rap, ignoring the fact that the moment the genre stops growing is also the moment that the music becomes a modern day version of ragtime. Even if he did declare that “rap is dead” on a song by the same name in 2003 (five years before Nas did the same), as a rapper, Mike has never sounded more relevant, dipping back into his decades of experience and name checking not only Ollie North, but on “Go!” also sampling a snippet of the early hip-hop group the World’s Famous Supreme Team and name-checking ’80s female rappers JJ Fad, ’90s Pomona crew Above the Law and early ’90s R&B singer Michel’le.

As impressive as Killer Mike’s rhyme skills are on “R.A.P. Music,” the record is also his most musically innovative since his first, which was executive-produced by fellow Dungeon Family members Outkast. That record garnered one catchy but forgettable hit, “A.D.I.D.A.S.”; in the intervening years, his releases showcased an able rapper less interested in the genre’s indie fringes.

But by hooking up with producer Jaime “El-P” Meline — Mike sounds like an enthusiastic teen when he proudly declares between tracks, “This album was created entirely by Jaime and Mike” — Killer Mike has hitched his verbal skills to a musician who’s unafraid to push the sound of hip-hop forward. Beats and rhythms stutter and jump; mysterious analog synth lines float nebulously in the background, adding a level of doom that locks in with Mike’s lyrical attitude. At its best, the pair ride on heavy grooves that not only sound shockingly new but also ultra catchy.

That’s something El-P has always done, though, even if his incursions have in the past made more of an impression in indie rap circles than with the mainstream. On “Cancer 4 Cure,” though, the Brooklyn-born artist has found his voice again. Having shuttered his acclaimed label Def Jux in 2010, El-P seems to have since devoted more time to has craft.

The album’s opener, “Request Denied,” immediately signals a change. Unlike the syrupy, gloomy sounds that typified his early work, the track’s music sounds like futuristic drum n’ bass, coupled with frantic percussion, thick organs and the kind of adventure worthy of a living, breathing genre whose recent forays into rapid beats-per-minute thumpers may be redirecting the music, but only in the most superficial of ways.

But Killer Mike best captures the reason for his artistic vision in his album’s title track. Backed with an urgent, futuristic El-P beat that feels downloaded from 2018, the rapper in the song’s verse describes all the music that hip-hop contains, from funk to soul to rap and jazz, and then offers a long list of musicians worthy of admiration.

Few among those he cites are artists interested in stasis. He name-checks, among others, Robert Johnson, Nina Simone, SadeJames BrownRay CharlesStevie Wonder and Outkast. He also cites, notably, two primo jazz works: Miles Davis’ “Bitches Brew” and John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme.” Exactly.”

Via The LA Times


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Labba X 730 – The Album is Coming Sooner Than You Think

50 Cent Receives The Ultimate Homage

MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. — The goose 50 Cent is on the mend.

Named for the rapper who survived nine gunshot wounds, 50 Cent the waterfowl now needs a new home. The goose was brought into a northern Arkansas animal hospital with a damaged wing.

Conner tells The Baxter Bulletin (http://is.gd/xFrtLw ) that workers initially wanted to name the goose Tupac, after the late rapper, but that they settled on 50 Cent because he recovered from his shooting.

Authorities don’t know who shot the 50 Cent the goose. Conner says he’s hopeful someone will adopt the animal.

Via The Washington Post

Waka Flocka States The Obviously Obvious

Waka Flocka Flame‘s 2010 debut album, “Flockaveli,” was filled with muscular production, fiery rhymes and stupefying yet catchy-as-hell hooks (sample chorus: “Pow, pow, pow, pow/Bitch, I’m bustin’ at ‘em!”). For the much-anticipated follow-up, did the rapper make a point to hone his lyrical craft?

“If you’re looking for lyrics, throw it out the window. Go throw on ‘Watch the Throne,’” Waka Flocka Flame (real name: Juaquin Malphurs) says of his sophomore release, “Triple F Life: Friends, Fans and Family,” out Tuesday (June 12) on Brick Squad/Warner Bros. Instead, the Atlanta native says he wanted his new album to declare, “I’m still the king of the clubs, still the king of the singles, Mr. 808.” Case in point: Early single “Round of Applause,” featuring an equally buoyant Drake, is built around the line “Round of applause, baby, make that ass clap!” and has sold 304,000 downloads, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Dismissing complex lyrics in favor of adrenaline shots and ad-libs has worked for Waka Flocka Flame before-after all, cacophonous anthems like “No Hands” (2.8 million downloads) and “Hard in Da Paint” (432,000) helped “Flockaveli” score a surprising No. 6 bow on the Billboard 200 in October 2010. The rapper, meanwhile, quickly transitioned from a protégé of Atlanta MC Gucci Mane to a star in his own right.

With “Triple F Life,” the challenge was fleshing out a rising star whose anthems had made him fairly anonymous by design. “He had these huge records, but there was still a disconnect,” Warner Bros. Records senior VP of marketing Ashaunna Ayars says.


Waka Flocka Flame started the transition by stepping out of the shadow of mentor Mane, who gave Waka his start in the So Icey rap crew. After the two released joint album “Ferrari Boyz” last August, Waka founded Brick Squad Monopoly, a Warner imprint that includes Wooh Da Kid and YG Hootie, and which exists separately from Mane’s 1017 Brick Squad label. “He’s going that way in his career, I’m going this way in my career,” Waka says of Mane. “We’re still cool, but it’s on to being my own man and making my own mark.”

The next step was raising Waka’s visibility. After the rapper started recording “Triple F Life” last December, an intense round of early promotion began, with a clip for “Round of Applause” released in February, and press days that stacked 10 interviews daily in March. For Waka, who previously wasn’t interested in giving interviews, it was a real change. Now he was embracing the jaunts with journalists, several months before his album’s release date. “I want to be more into the process — eat, sleep, shit, breathe music,” the rapper says.

Meanwhile, Ayars says Warner’s marketing strategy was “not to limit” Waka Flocka Flame, and capitalize on any crossover potential he displayed when “No Hands” (featuring Wale and Roscoe Dash) climbed to No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 2011. “Triple F Life” includes more thrilling but senseless bangers like “Let Dem Guns Blam” and “Rooster in My Rari,” along with some pop-leaning collaborations withNicki MinajFlo Rida and B.o.B. Current single “I Don’t Really Care” sports an indelible hook from Trey Songz and has sold 203,000, according to SoundScan.

More new tracks have been unveiled on Drake’s Club Paradise tour, a 27-city trek that shuffled Waka, Meek MillJ. Cole2 Chainz and French Montana as openers. The rapper says the tour – which kicked off May 7 and wraps June 17 – was simply the result of good friends wanting to hit the road together. Though Waka established himself as a headlining artist last year, the decision to support Drake had ulterior motives.

“A Drake audience is very diverse,” Ayars says. “It’s not just urban, it’s not general market, it’s a little bit of everything-and we felt like that is the same type of audience we want for Waka.” Once the tour ends, the rapper’s team will eye summer tour opportunities, including festival slots and the international market.

The promotional blitz is far from over: In-stores are scheduled for this week, along with spots on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” “106 & Park” and “ESPN First Take.” Despite the swelling profile and hectic schedule, Waka still turns to his mother, Debra Antney, to manage his career and keep him grounded. “To watch him grow — as a man, as a CEO, as an entrepreneur with his own label,” she says, “is a real proud moment.”

Via Billboard

Beats For Brothels II Is Coming!!


Beats For Brothels, Vol. II is an enigma of sorts. A unique structure comprised heavily of instrumentals and decorated with the Ghastly Duo’s vocals interspersed throughout the project. Breaking the mold of the first in the series, Volume II is designed for an authentic listening experience as the structure dictates intended feelings and emotions crafted by The Groggy Pack.

1. Trembling Fever

2. Eye
3. Reign Dance
4. Last Breath
5. Whole Wide World
6. Caipirinha
7. Adorn
8. Black Cloak Lifestyle
9. Prolapse
10. D. Flutie
11. 91%
12. What Am I
13. Befoul
14. Frequency Levels
15. Schemes
16. Sick Perv
17. Cover Blown
18. Cotard Delusion


GZA Is Much Much Smarter Than You

On an early May afternoon in the offices of Neil deGrasse Tyson, the director of the Hayden Planetarium, a model of Saturn caught the eye of a 45-year-old high-school dropout, and a lyric was born.

“I thought, this is probably the longest spinning record in the world,” said GZA, the hip-hop artist and founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan, referring to the ring system surrounding the planet. About a week later, the words crystallized and he offered them over a vegetarian lunch on the Upper West Side.

“God put the needle on the disc of Saturn / The record he played revealed blueprints and patterns,” he rapped in his signature rhythmic baritone, offering a taste from his forthcoming album, “Dark Matter,” an exploration of the cosmos filtered through the mind of a rapper known among his peers as “the Genius.”

Informed by meetings with top physicists and cosmologists at MIT and Cornell University, “Dark Matter” is intended to be the first in a series of albums that GZA—born Gary Grice in Brooklyn in 1966—will put out in the next few years, several of which are designed to get a wide audience hooked on science.

“Dark Matter” is scheduled for a fall release. Another album will focus on the life aquatic, a subject he’s fleshing out with visits to the labs of marine biologists and researchers, as well as meetings with the likes of Philippe Cousteau.

“After ‘Dark Matter,’ he said, “we’ll be back on earth, but in the ocean.”

In between will come “Liquid Swords 1.5,” for which GZA will re-record the lyrics to his beloved 1995 album “Liquid Swords,” backed by live bands.

Composer and producer Marco Vitali, a Juilliard-trained violinist, is helping to score “Dark Matter.” He recalled a recent meeting in which GZA explained the images that the music should convey.

“We talked about frenetic energy, outer space, molecules crashing into each other, organized chaos,” Mr. Vitali said. “The grandeur of the fact that the universe was born in a millionth of a second, in this explosion that created billions of stars, these overpowering ideas that are bigger than we can conceive. How do we make the record feel like that?”

In other words, how does one score the majesty of the entire universe?

“We don’t have the answers yet,” conceded Mr. Vitali. One thing he does know is that the score will utilize “the power of an entire orchestra,” likely one from a smaller European country, to keep costs down.

For GZA, a major challenge is convincing skeptics for whom hip-hop and an academic subject like physics seem incompatible.

“It’s gonna sound so boring to most people,” the rapper said. “There have been times when I’ve been told, ‘Oh, you’re doing an album about physics? I hope it’s not boring.’ They don’t get the idea. Because rappers are so one-dimensional, so narrow-minded, it comes off corny.”

Still, he believes that “Dark Matter” will tap into the innate curiosity of listeners—even those with no outward interest in science.

“I don’t think people have ever really been in touch with science,” he said. “They’re drawn to it, but they don’t know why they’re drawn to it. For example, you may be blown away by the structure of something, like a soccer ball or a geodesic dome, with its hexagonal shapes. Or how you can take a strand of hair and can get someone’s whole drug history. They’re different forms of science, but it’s still science.”

He plans to package “Dark Matter” with a short illustrated book that may also include the album’s lyrics and a glossary, “like an epic textbook,” he said.

Penny Chisholm, a professor of environmental science at MIT, said she’d welcome the chance to use a GZA album as a teaching tool. She met with him last December when he came to visit her lab, where she researches the ocean phytoplankton Prochlorococcus, the most abundant photosynthetic cell on the planet.

“He’d been doing his homework on the oceans,” Ms. Chisholm said. “I was struck by his appreciation of the complexity of ecology and physics, and his views on life. I think he’s now on a new mission, and he could play an important role in getting various messages out through his art form—about the earth, and science. That’s why I’ve become a fan.”

It’s that kind of academic inspiration that a young Gary Grice could have used growing up in Brooklyn in the 1970s. He was always smart: Before he was the GZA, he could recite nursery rhymes backward and forward.

“He was the Genius, and we called him genius because we knew that he was a genius,” said Raekwon, another founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan, the legendary Staten Island hip-hop crew formed in the early ’90s.

But as he came of age, the city’s blossoming hip-hop scene exerted its own gravitational pull, drawing him away from the classroom. He cut class most days, staying home to write lyrics or hang out with friends and make demos.

“I thought I knew more than what they were teaching in school,” he said. “When you look back on it now, it’s foolish to be cutting because we had so much more opportunity than now. When I look back at high school, or even junior high, we had all the things that kids don’t have now: woodshop, ceramics, metal class, electric class, graphic arts, graphic design.”

Instead he poured his efforts into music. A first album, “Words From the Genius,” failed to make a splash in 1991. Two years later, he and eight friends—including two cousins, who would become the RZA and Ol’ Dirty Bastard—released “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers),” a critical entry in the hip-hop canon. His solo follow-up, “Liquid Swords,” went gold, winning acclaim for its sophisticated lyrics.

Despite have left school in the 10th grade, GZA nurtured his affection for science as he developed his skills as a lyricist.

“There were certain things that grabbed my interest, such as photosynthesis, such as us living off plants and plants living off us,” he said. “You look at everything in that light—so if I’m looking at ice cubes, I might start thinking about absolute zero, or Fahrenheit and Celsius. There’s so much that can make me think about science.”

In 1995, when he released “Liquid Swords,” GZA solidified his stature as the Wu-Tang Clan’s most recognizable lyricist with lines like “I be the body dropper, the heartbeat stopper / child educator plus head amputator.” Nearly two decades later, “Dark Matter,” with its rejection of the braggadocio and violence often found in hip-hop and its embrace of poetry and natural imagery, could finally enable this father of two to seize that mantle of “child educator.”

“There’s no parental advisory, no profanity, no nudity,” he said. “The only thing that’s going to be stripped bare is the planets.”

Via The Wall Street Journal