Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Youth Speaks perform @ The Steinbeck Center

Some more video from Friday night's performance @ The Steinbeck Center. Members of Youth Speaks performed as part of the spoken word showcase. The event also featured yours truly. You can watch that video in the media player to the right. I have a few more of these lined up and I'll post them as the week unfolds. Cheers.

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Jacob Tsypkin "Choke" @ The Steinbeck Center

My boy Jacob Tsypkin performs his piece "Choke" as part of the spoken word poetry event held @ The Steinbeck Center on Oct. 24. I'll be posting up a few more of these throughout the day.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

"The Beat's" Top 10 Obscure Songs

Saw this on the boards @ Okayplayer.com, where they posted 100 of the best obscure hip-hop songs. To see the compiled list and downloads, go here.

Seeing some of these songs got me reminiscing. Alot. So much so that I decided to come up with a top 10 of some of my favorite obscure hip-hop songs. This is not a definitive list, just some that I rounded up after reading this post. It will definitely be a fluid list, maybe even a semi-regular event when I'm hard up for a topic. We'll see.

Anyway, this list is in no particular order. If I can, I'll update it with some downloads later on:

My Opinion - Mac Mall
Sideshow - 415
In Summer I Fall - Derelix (O.G.)
What's My Weapon - Eyecue (Hobo Junction)
My Synopsis - E-Rule
Whole Kit and Kaboodle - MadKap
Kadijah - Dirt Nation
Check The Vibe - Dred Scott
All Over a Ho - Mz. Kilo
How You Want It, You Got It - Jungle Brothers

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"Chinese Democracy": Is this for real?

By no means am I a huge GNR fan, but they have to be acknowledged for their pop culture contributions and just for being such excessively egotistical rock stars (the stories of Slash's drug excesses alone are junkie hall of fame worthy).

But now that "Chinese Democracy" not only has a release date but a corporate sponsorship attached to it, it looks like a go. I got this in my e-mail today:

* * * *
First Single – “Chinese Democracy” – Premieres on Radio on October 22
* * *
Pre-Order Begins Today at www.bestbuy.com/chinesedemocracy
* *
MINNEAPOLIS, October 22, 2008 – Best Buy and Geffen Records announced that one of the most highly anticipated albums of all time, Guns N' Roses' Chinese Democracy, will be available beginning Nov. 23 at Best Buy and BestBuy.com on CD, vinyl, and digital downloads. The title track, the first single from the album, was released to radio today, October 22. Chinese Democracy is the first album of new material from one of rock's most influential bands since the 1991 simultaneous releases of Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II.

Of course, GNR jumped the shark a long time ago, but now they're in the same league as bands like The Eagles, who only release their albums at Wal-Mart. At least CD will be available for digital download.

Haven't heard the lead single yet. Not sure if I want to. If anyone out there cares to give a review, feel free to do so in the comments section. Peace.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Review: Alex Lee's "Headphone Heroes EP"

She's going by her government name these days, but not a whole lot else has changed for Alex Lee on her latest release, the EP “Headphone Heroes.”

Blessed with fly looks, style and vocals that suggest the butter smoothness of Ladybug Mecca mixed with the gritty wordplay of Bahamadia, the MC/singer formerly known as A.Lee is an 831 original, even if she now resides in the Yay Area. On her latest set, the Seaside-native explores every angle of her talent — crafty lyricism, jazzy, harmonic vocals, and confident charisma — to reveal a tad more about the gifted hip-hop soul artist.

“Headphone Heroes” picks up where her first effort, “The Channel,” left off. Easy vibes percolate through the lead track, “Doin' It,” produced by London beatsmith Majhik. On this foreign exchange collaboration, freaked through the magic of MySpace, Lee melts into the groove with silly but sultry stream of consciousness rhymes, shouting out her UK brethren and her daddy with one flip of the tongue.

Revealing her girly-girl side on “I Just Wanna Dance,” she flirts innocently while laying out what she wants, reassuring her suitor “Ain't no need to worry, I ain't a goldigger/but I'll dance to it, old school to Jigga.”

The beats, provided by her elementary school friend Jon "B.B." Bomarito, Vermont-based producer S.K. and the production duo Sonica, are airy and elegant, befitting Lee's smoothed-out soul.

Lee utilizes her singing voice to ample effect, pulling melodies out of thin air and fitting them into each orchestration lock tight. Lee's skill lies in her seeming effortlessness on the mic. She's so at ease that the listener is lulled into a trance while Lee provides the theme music to the perfect quiet storm.

When she does bring the thunder, it erupts into a dance floor banger “Bam! Boom!” Sounding like a rhyme super-hero, Lee matches the comic book title with super woman rhymes: “They ain't fuckin with me/but oh well, to hell with it/ you can't tell I'm the best female to spit it/but the gender ain't an issue/blessed like ahh-choo, so I need a tissue.”

The definitive jam, “CaliSoul,” takes the theme music from your favorite Dockers commercial and transforms it into a love letter to the Golden State. Celebrating medicinal marijuana, undocumented Mexican laborers and Mac Dre slappin' in the trunk, Lee does her home state proud.

At a trim 9-tracks, “Headphone Heroes” is a sample of the funk Lee has to offer. Sadly missing is the track “Hotter” that appeared in the recent season finale of “America's Top Model.”

Also absent is any real introspective music that might reveal more of Lee's personality, but that's just nit picking. Ultimately, Alex Lee lives up to her super hero moniker. With any luck, “Headphone Heroes” just might save hip-hop music from its stale self.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Emcee Cambio: "Astrotraveling"

Astrotraveling by Cambio from Javier Goin on Vimeo.

Cambio of Para La Gente released this clip for the song "Astrotraveling" off his album "The Bridge Called My Back." Directed by Javier Goin (http://vimeo.com/javiergoin). It's a good look for your boy.

Cambio will be performing Nov. 7 at Monterey Live along with J-Scrawls, The Cranks and my group, Baktun 12 (shameless plug). More info to come.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

MProv's Last Performance in Monterey

Local beat box phenom M-PROV recently gave his final performance at The Rubber Chicken Poetry Slam (which I co-produce every Wednesday @ East Villeg Coffee Lounge in Monterey).

The art of beat boxing is rarefied, and luckily M-PROV has been holding it down here on the Peninsula. Sadly, he's seeking greener pastures and heading out to the big city, the rotten apple, NYC, to live the fabulous life of a beat boxer in Babylon.

While his talent will be sorely missed locally, I wish him well on his journey. Props to M-PROV and his beat boxing, saliva-spitting, harmonica-blowing bad self.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

De La Soul tribute on VH1 Hip-Hop Honors

Now this is how you pay tribute. I've always switched between De La and Tribe as far as my all-time favorite rap group. Last night, it was De La (but I reserve the right to switch back to Tribe at any time).

This is just awesome. I'll have a more thorough overview later on today. Stay tuned.

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Monday, October 06, 2008

Hip-Hop Honors tonight; Alex Lee, Redemption later this week

Tonight is VH1's Hip-Hop Honors show, which has become an unofficial hip-hop hall of fame induction ceremony.

This year's honorees include Cypress Hill, De La Soul, Naughty By Nature, Slick Rick and Too Short. It's a deserving class, and all of them are in my favorite artists of all-time list. I'll blog on the show tomorrow.

Also this week, your girl Alex Lee (formerly A.Lee) is performing Wednesday night @ Monterey Live. Show starts at 9 p.m. It's a release party for her new EP "Headphone Heroes," which is a terrific record. Support your girl.

Saturday brings the second installment of Redemption, the b-boy dance competition and showcase. This one goes down @ Fit Athletics, 880 Tioga Ave. in Sand City. Show doors open at 5 p.m., show starts at 5:30 p.m.

That is all.

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

9G's (for the last time, I promise)

The final video of my flight with the T-Birds has finally arrived. You can click on the media player to the right to view the video, titled "Riding With The Thunderbirds Take 2."

Thanks to our web goddess Lisa for converting the cockpit footage for me to edit. Since I'm a trained print journalist and by no means a video guy, this takes a bit longer than it might for other trained professionals. Luckily, I'm learning.

Here's to the brave women and men who serve in our armed forces, and to squeezing every drop of pub and press I could get out of this story. Enjoy.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The End of "Rap City"

So Rap City is coming to an end. Read the story below from SOHH.com for the details.

I guess it's about time, since they shifted the show's time slot around and I didn't even know when it was on anymore. Plus, I couldn't tell you the name of the hosts since Big Tigger left.

At it's peak, Rap City was daily appointment television for me during my teen years leading into college. I grew up watching it during the Prince DuJour into Joe Clair/Big Lez era. I followed it until shortly before Tigger left.

During high school, they would show a lot of different videos and artists that didn't get play on MTV at the time.

Probably the coolest thing they introduced was "The Booth," where rappers would go into the recording booth and spit "freestyles," usually pre-written joints that weren't recorded on albums to that point.

Eminem and Jo Jo Peligrino (!) were some of my favorite booth moments. I remember Prodigy doing a really lazy verse, looking and sounding like he was stoned out of his mind. Cam'ron also had a really good booth sesh.

There are no real definitive Rap City moments, unlike, say, Yo MTV Raps, which had tons of classic moments. Rap City simply brought hip-hop into the mainstream with its consistency. Unfortunately, at some point, they started playing the same 5 videos over and over again.

The one moment I do remember vividly is the first time I saw Puff and Mase's "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down" video. They played the video non-stop. That was when hip-hop jumped the shark.

Anyway, peace to Rap City. I'm going to miss it, sort of.


Popular hip-hop music video program “Rap City” has ended its run on BET after 21 years on the network.

While SOHH first heard about the rumor last week, BET has announced the official word on their website earlier today. According to their Sound Off blog, “Rap City” will be replaced by “The Deal” hosted by DJ Diamond Kutz.

The new hour long series will consist of old and new elements from “Rap City.” Hip-Hop videos will continue to play but now they will be accompanied by pop-ups with facts on the given artist/song. The Booth, which was a staple on “Rap City” for artists to showcase their freestyle skills, will also remain a segment on the new series.

More than just a place for hip hop videos, Rap City gave fame to several hosts throughout the years, the first of which was Chris Thomas in 1989. He was followed by Hans Dobson, Prince Dejour and Joe Clair who debuted as host in 1994. Leslie Segar (a.k.a “Big Lez”) shared hosting duty with Clair from 1994 to 99.

The series evolved to “Rap City: Tha Basement” in September of 1999, with host Big Tigger. Mad Linx, J-Nicks and DJ Q45 all held short lived stints in the last three years.

BET has plans to run a “Rap City” finale but a date for the special has yet to be announced. “The Deal” premieres on BET on November 10th.

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