Marc Cabrera has nothing better to do than watch a lot of movies and television, and listen to a lot of music. Luckily, he has a job that pays him to blog about local and national arts, entertainment and pop culture. He can be reached at email@example.com.
It's been a while since I dropped one of these, but the nerdcore supastars came through Monterey last week and blessed me with an interview.
MC Lars is a long time friend of "The Beat." I first met him at Stanford University for an interview in 2003. Since then, he's been all over the world touring and spreading the gospel of post punk laptop rap. His homies ytcracker and MC Frontalot are at the helm of the Nerdcore scene, which is literally a bunch of self proclaimed nerds rapping about what they know.
ABOVE: A clip of TheSaurus vs. Tantrum at Scribble Jam '08. TheSaurus was the 2008 Battle Champ.
The best rapper on the planet resides on the Monterey Peninsula. Believe it or not, it's true. TheSaurus, the 2008 winner of Scribble Jam, the annual summer festival held in Cincinnati, has two world rap battle championships under his belt and is the one of two two-time Scribble Jam battle champions.
Freestyle MCing is as raw as it gets, and TheSaurus has devoted his entire life to the artform. Thursday night, opening for Alex Lee at Monterey Live, he flashed some of his impressive skills while showcasing his recorded work. He can definitely throw down the nice lines off the top, at one point chiding his Peninsula homie "this guy can't pick up a barbell/He's from Carmel." Coming unrehearsed, the punchlines hit just right.
One song big-upping the 831 was a nice reminder that this guy knows his place of residence and despite the acclaim he's received, he's a hometown boy to the fullest. I have video that I'm working on of the show, but you can check out one of his freestyles above and get a recap of Scribble Jam below.
I was completely unmotivated Saturday night, so much so that by the time me and my girl got off our lazy butts to drive to Santa Cruz and watch Ozomatli at The Catalyst, we missed the entire show!
I've seen Ozo a minimum of 20 times (real talk), followed them the past 10+ years as they've gone from underground buzz band to "Sex and the City"/"Never Been Kissed" pin-up boys to a zillion-Grammy-Award-winning critical fave to their current incarnation as a reunion band. Jurassic 5 MC Chali 2na, who recorded with the band on its first two releases, has signed on for this recent tour.
Which made my absence all the more a bummer. Turns out me and my girl are fighting bronchitis, but that hardly seems like an excuse. As we got up to the ticket booth, Eddy Dees (booking agent/cool dude) looked at me, then looked at the time, like "you're barely showing up now?" I figured we'd catch at least the last 4-5 songs, but they shut their set down well before midnight, so no luck.
After the show, I ran into Wil Dog on the street. He's always been a cool guy who remembers me and my crew. I told him that I missed most of the show and I was bummed because I missed Chali.
"Oh, man, he's amazing," was his reaction. Yeah, I know. Thanks for rubbing it in.
Above: G4 TV spot with MC Lars, YT Cracker, MC Frontalot and Del (!)
The Digital Gangster tour comes through Monterey Live at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 22 (early show!). Featuring MC Lars, MC Frontalot, and YT Cracker.
Above is a TV spot that also serves as a sort of mini-doc on Nerdcore and its current stars. Yes, this is for real, and "The Beat" is all over it this week. In fact, we might as well start calling it "Nerdcore Week" because that's what we got. I'll be posting an interview with all three artists performing at Monterey Live later on this week.
Longtime friend of "The Beat" MC Lars returns to his home turf with a few of his rhyme co-horts, MC Frontalot and YT Cracker, as part of the "Digital Gangster Tour."
Lars is a really cool guy with a genuine interest in hip-hop music and culture, so I can't front on dude, but his music isn't for everybody, especially those who can't appreciate a good "Weird Al" Yankovic song or are too hardcore to be nerdcore. YT Cracker may have one of the worst MC names of all-time, but that's kind of the point.
These guys just make me smile, and the beat on this one is almost, sorta kinda but not really hardbody. Love Lars "hardliner/49ers" line.
Final thought: this song could be an anthem for the white guilt movement if these guys took themselves seriously on it, which they thankfully don't. More Nerdcore to come, whether you like it or not.
This is all the way live. One of those really fun things you wish you could have been at. These are, like, all of my favorite MC's on one stage. Only guy missing was Hov, but oh well. Who do you think rips it the most? Let me know.
Wasn't sure if I could find anything to post today until I came across this little nugget. Granted, I haven't listened to it yet, but I'm sure it's going to have some quality stuff. Zion I can do little wrong in my book, and if they're just going to give the music away, best believe I'm taking some.
A really creative video from Pugs Atoms featuring Deuce Eclipse (Zion I familia, bay area MC) and Dave Ghetto. If you're not up on Deuce Eclipse, please get your weight up. Dude is seriously nice.
The above pic was taken about three months ago, backstage at Rock The Bells. That was when I saw Redman and Method Man live. The show was so good, I had to go back for a second turn on Saturday night at The Catalyst in Santa Cruz.
Saturday's show was, not surprisingly, very similar to their RTB show. Given the long list of shows that these guys have scheduled throughout the year, it makes sense they would travel the same show.
They opened up with a remix of "Da Rockwilda," their homage to Cypress Hill's "Hand on the Pump." Oddly, they re-organized their entrance as if they had mistakenly used the wrong intro music, then came back out to the strains of "1,2,3,4."
Combined, their catalogue of solo and group material is considerable. Meth can pull from both his individual work as well as his Wu-Tang Clan material, while Red has five albums and two collaborative projects (Def Squad and his work with Mef) to siphon. It's a good collection to choose from.
Red hit the crowd off with "Time For Some Action," which sounded great over the sound system. Meth followed with "Method Man," and the packed crowd went all kinds of berzerker.
I appreciated the wildin' out on stage and the crowd support, but you could tell the guys were in cruise control for certain bits. Going back to their tour schedule, it's gotta be tough getting up on stage every night and keeping up the energy these two possess. It's just not human.
I imagine they must be about od'd on 5-hour energy drinks. Red looked extra-high (although I don't know what he would look like not high), but kept toking with the crowd whenever they offered fresh blunts (which was all night). My girl wondered if he ever worries that the stuff they give him might be laced. He certainly didn't appear too concerned.
The fun stuff happened toward the end of their set. After the obligatory ODB tribute (which wasn't as contrived this time around compared to past renditions), they pulled out "Da Rockwilda" again, which may have explained why they fudged the intro.
Then, Meth did that thing where he stands up on the crowd like Jesus walking on water, Red jumped up on the club's balcony railing, standing about 10 feet over the crowd, and dove in! Some rock star ish, for sure, but he pulled it off without hurting himself. The crowd ripped off his Tony Parker jersey, but you could tell he genuinely loved it and genuinely was relieved he didn't mess himself up. That was ballsy.
While those were highlights, I think I'll while before seeing them again. At least another 3 months.
Received a note from the Band Dad for August Sky, announcing the band is performing Nov. 15 @ Giovane's, 348 San Juan Grade Road, Salinas. They'll be performing with my friends My Refuge. Show starts at 8 p.m..
As I reported yesterday, August Sky and Population 5 are in the running for KFOX's "Last Band Standing" competition. To vote,visit www.kfox.net and look for the "Last Band Standing" link. Both August Sky and Population 5 are in the 18 and under category.
Some newness from Zion I, Oakland's finest. The video is a bit hokey, but entertaining. I'm pretty amped about anything new from the camp. No word on a release date for their next album, but given the amount of attention Atmosphere and Murs have recieved this year, Zion I should be right up there with them. With the right push and some good fortune, they could get some MTV bumper shots anyday now.
Antenna (Unofficial Video)
I'm feeling this song a little more than the "Juicy Juice" single. Both songs are cool, but this one is a little more in Zion I's wheel box. Love the Amp Live production. Dude is slept on hard.
Population 5 and August Sky made it through the first cut in the 98.5 KFOX Last Band Standing contest. Both bands submitted a CD with three classic rock covers and we were chosen from about 80 entries to go on to the next round of judging.
Both are in the "18 and Under" category and are hoping to go to the next round. To get there, they need to get people to go online at www.kfox.com/pages/lbs08_vote_now.html and vote for the bands.
Voting ends at noon on Friday. Four winners in each category move on to the next round, where they get to perform in the KFOX studios. They'll pick two winners from that group, then they perform live in the studio. The following week they announce the winners for each category. Each category winner receives prizes and, more importantly, gets invited to do lots of gigs sponsored by KFOX.
Speaking on the fact that both bands were in competition, Population 5 manager/roadie/band dad Ernest Griffin-Ortiz insisted that there was no animosity on either side and both bands are cheering one another on.
"Although we're competing against each other in this contest, the members of August Sky and Population 5 are very supportive of each other. We believe that success is a renewable resource -- and there's plenty to go around for everyone."
A couple of cool happenings going on this weekend, from the Peninsula all the way to South County. I've also got a few poetry/hip-hop gigs going on, so this counts as a gratuitous, shameless plug. Here you go:
Friday night, Candyman (the rapper, not the horror movie monster) performs at The Castle in Soledad. Y'all remember his early '90s hit, "Knockin' Boots." That was the jr. high dance special for me. Dust off your Z-Cavaricci's and black boots and get your groove on. Also performing will be Mic Quin, Alcatraz and Sammy Sluggz. Show starts at 9 p.m. Admission is $15. The Castle is located @ 140 Oak St., Soledad.
Also Friday night, my group Baktun 12 will be performing live @ Monterey Live, 415 Alvarado St., Monterey. We'll be doing our annual Baktun 12 Variety show with special guests The Cranks, DJ Mike J, Brown P, MC Cambio, The Joint Venture (J-Scrawls & DJ Mike J), and spoken word poets Jacob Tsypkin and Gayleene Badiango. Rubber Chicken Poetry Slam host Garland Thompson will emcee the event. Show starts at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $7 at the door. For information, visit www.montereylive.com.
Saturday night, renowned Chicano poet Jimmy Santiago Baca will be performing @ The Cesar Chavez Library in Salinas. Baca wrote the screenplay to the movie "Bound By Honor," a true Chicano classic. He's a bad dude, and I'll be opening with a spoken word set of my own. Come by, it's free. Show starts @ 7 p.m. Cesar Chavez Library is located at 615 Williams Road, Salinas.
One last note: Redman and Method Man will be performing Saturday night at The Catalyst in Santa Cruz. For info, visit www.catalystclub.com.
A little video I found of Common partying hard on election night. It's gotta feel good for him, both being from Chicago and being the first rapper Obama on record (he gave Obama a shout out on the remix to Jadakiss's song "Why" way back in 2005).
My poem "The Basics" has become completely relevant now that Obama is in office. I have the line that goes "By the year 2030, our nation's president will most likely have listened to old school rap." I'm going to have to change that to say that now, we have a president who listened to old school rap and bumps Jay-Z and Ludacris.
The official hip-hop prez has been elected. Can't wait for the inauguration.
Just a quick reminder that today is election day, so go handle that. Oh, and here's some ish-talking courtesy of MC Jelly Donut. Not an endorsement or anything, I just thought this was funny as hell.