Thursday, February 19, 2009

::A Requiem for Dilla. A Rose For Ms. Yancey::

By now you know that every February for the past 3 years since his death, Dilla celebrations commence in major cities across the globe like clockwork. You know that the indelible impression he left on hip hop is felt by heads from all corners of the globe. Unfortunately, you probably also know about the legal entanglements involving his estate. The insurmountable medical bills he left behind. His legion of recording artist friends rhyming and singing over posthumous instrumentals on their albums in attempts to alleviate the financial strain on his family. It is true that with greatness comes responsibility. Unfortunately, Dilla's rich legacy has allowed a far too literal interpretation of this cliche.

On February 3rd, lauded hip-hop photographer and director B+ in tandem with Carlos NiƱo and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson released Suite For Ma Dukes EP on iTunes. I know, I know. While I'm sure many of you may feel you've exhausted yourself on Dilla donation drives and tributes, feast your ears on what appears to be more than just another Dilla homage project. The Suite For Ma Dukes EP is comprised solely of orchestral renditions of four select Dilla productions: "Find My Way," "Fall In Love," "Nag Champa," and "Antiquity".

Priced at $3.96, proceeds from the EP will go to Dilla's mom Ms. Maureen Yancey. If you're in LA, the concert performance of this EP will be held at the Harriet and Charles Luckman Fine Arts Complex at Cal State University on February 22nd:


Judging from the EP, this seems like an interesting approach to honoring Dilla's legacy. Any Cali folks planning on attending, feel free to chime in with the full report after this weekend. In the meantime, cop the digital EP on iTunes here. For all you vinyl lovers, Mochilla will be releasing a limited vinyl version of the EP in April. Stay tuned to their website for details.

::Band Of Brothers::

I've been listening to this album all week. Non-stop. Seriously. It's so crazy to think that if it wasn't for some crate digging audiophile nerd like myself, this gem wouldn't have even seen the light of day. I've been in Google mode with these kats for the past two weeks and managed to glean some pretty brow raising info. Like the fact that Clive Davis tried to sign these guys near the end of his Columbia Records tenure, but the guys balked at his suggestion to change their name. Or that scant copies of the original 1976 indie 7" pressing of "Politicians In My Eyes" usually fetch handsome sums between $600 and $1,000. Yeah. Exactly.

Some lucky bastard in the blogosphere (Dan Bolles @ Seven Days Blogs) got the chance to interview Death lead vocalist and bassist Bobby Hackney Sr. in December. Here's the link. Pretty dope Q&A. Hopefully this release from Chicago-based indie Drag Records will shine a little more light on the pink elephant called Black rock. Because no matter how many Lenny Kravitz records you dump onto your iPod, it will never measure up to the mountains of lost and forgotten treasure that got shunned simply because it didn't fit into a viable box. Pick up a copy of the Death album ...For the Whole World To See on CD or vinyl.

Monday, February 16, 2009

::Dumb Rappers Need Teachin'::

Lesson A:

Man, Roxanne Shante was THE female rapper back in the day! UTFO, Sparky Dee, The Real Roxanne, and a slew of other hip-hop artists from the 80s all felt the wrath of this spunky teenager from the Queensbridge Projects. Her career instigated the concept of the dis record and paved the way for all the larger-than-life female emcees that eventually supplanted her like Salt N Pepa, Queen Latifah, Foxy Brown, Lil Kim.

But in addition to the legacy her rap prowess afforded her, this video is truly a shining testament to life after hip hop. Contrary to popular belief, all old school rappers aren't resigned to working shitty jobs in the service sector and living with their moms in the projects after their careers fall off. There are plenty of folks that have made quite the transition. But this story takes the cake. Unlike most artists, she had the rare opportunity to take advantage of a sleeping giant. Guess it really pays to have a down-ass management/ attorney team thinking about your future as a young artist. And the funny thing is, she's probably banking more paper now than she was at the top of her rap game. Because no matter how much money you're making as a hip hop artist, somebody is probably making more money off your career than you. That's just the way the business model is structured. Alas, if only more hip-hop artists today would think about the long term vs. the short term like Shante eventually did. Hell, even every hustler knows you can't sell dope forever. Because, many rappers with vanity record label imprints and hip hop clothing lines do we really need?!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

::Ladies & Gentlemen...The Future of Hip-Hop::

Yeah...I said it. To all the non-believers...give the game up. I've been mulling it over for the past few years, and I'm convinced.
Our chapter as the pace setters in this beloved genre is coming to a close. We've bastardized, condensed, constricted, restricted, watered down, commercialized, raped, and pillaged one of the final frontiers in the cannon of American music. Relinquished it's true intention, power, and potential for a cheap thrill like a crackhead pawning a precious family heirloom. Marginalized our brethren who refused to follow the same template, seeking to carve out new paths in sound. We've had a hearty, yet volatile 30 year run with it. I think the sun is setting on our glorious day. European labels have been making innovative strides in sound, investing in some of our more unorthodox stateside soundsmiths along the way. Looks like the U.S. is behind the curve...1nce again. This Jazzy Sport comp is just a more recent example of what can happen when you think outside the box and eschew the stifling stats of sales and trends for visionary strides in art. Sample the future right here.

5x7 (that's 7" vinyl, for you dummies)







1x14 (14-track CD)

The choice is yours.

Europe and Japan only.

Monday, February 9, 2009

::Death...from above::


Vintage Black rock from the Motor City, y'all. Stay tuned.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Upscale Magazine's February 09 issue is here!! Check my review of the Miles Davis 50th anniversary deluxe box set of Kind Of Blue (p. 102)!


Yet another issue of Wax Poetics featuring my musings is on newsstands NOW! In this issue dedicated to Philly, the city of brotherly love, check for my RE:Discovery on the 1979 Dexter Wansel album Time Is Slipping Away (p. 20) and my profile piece on 70s R&B vocal trio First Choice (p. 104)! HOLLA!