Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Beat Video Blog w/ Reflection Eternal

Yes, indeed. We had the privilege of interviewing Hi-Tek and Talib Kweli during Rock The Bells '09. Enjoy!
Special thanks to camera girl G for handling the Flip Cam. This was by far the most exciting and fun video I've put together. Share your thoughts, por favor.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rock The Bells '09 mini-recap

Team Beat & Reflection Eternal (Talib Kweli & Hi Tek) together at last. Oh Fa Sho' (more after the jump).
So RTB '09 is a wrap. I took Monday off to recover, so give me a late pass for posting this a full day after the fact.
Truth is we didn't get to experience a whole lot of the festival because we were busy chasing down interviews. So a good portion of the day was spent back stage waiting for Reflection Eternal (pictured above) and Tech N9ne (pictured below).
So I can't give a full-fledged festival review, other than to say that the few acts I did see (Slick Rick, Reflection Eternal, The Roots, Busta Rhymes) and a few I caught glimpses of (Raekwon, Evidence & Alchemist, KRS-One) were pretty good bordering excellent.
Sound at Shoreline Ampitheater was excellent a couple of weeks ago for No Doubt, but for a hip-hop setting, the bass was so muddy and loud you couldn't get a full appreciation for the musicians on the main stage. Over on the Paid Dues second stage, sound quality was a lot better, and honestly this type of festival is better suited for a smaller second stage, where fans and performers have a better chance for interaction. That's what makes for a better hip-hop show.
As for my interviews, I have nothing but good words. Kweli and Hi-Tek were great for the brief meeting we shared. Both have this understated presence about them that is ultra-cool. They were really cool about letting me video tape my interview (when I asked if I could use my Flip Camera, Kweli said non-chalantly "I fucks with the Flip Cam." Very cool.
Tech N9ne was a great interview overall. I've interviewed him before, so it was nice to have that mini-history to draw upon. He's a really cool, but serious cat. His interview was the most in depth and personable.
Oh, and in case you didn't notice, that's my future wife in the pic above. I had to put that out there so Kwe and Tek and N9ne and their crew weren't trying to put the moves on her or anything. I'm just saying tho.

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Friday, August 07, 2009

The National Poetry Slam championships 10 years later

Ten years ago, I was 22 years old and competing in the National Poetry Slam Championship.
Just writing that sentence is proof of how old I am, but also proof that at one time in my life, poetry was really the only thing I truly cared about.
This week marks the 20th anniversary of the National Poetry Slam, taking place in West Palm Beach, Florida. More than 60 poetry slam teams from across the nation competed.

For the uninitiated, a poetry slam is competitive poetry match where judges, picked at random, give numeric scores to poets based on performance and content. It was invented by Chicago poet Marc Smith as a means of promoting poetry in the community beyond the academic set.
I discovered in 1998, at the urging of a friend. I was writing a lot of rap lyrics at the time, not doing much with them. My journalism career was already well underway, but I still had a strong desire to do something creative.
My friend would pick me up at random to go out of town and hit up open mics, wherever we could find them. Sometimes, we'd travel as far as San Francisco and Oakland just to get our creative fix.
One night in Santa Cruz, we stumbled upon a poetry slam, signed up, and proceeded to earn a majority of 9 and 10 scores for our two poems. From that point, I was hooked.
That lead me on a path to the 10th annual National Slam Poetry Championships in Chicago, where I competed as a member of the first and only Santa Cruz/Salinas national slam team.
Competing in the National Poetry Slam is like being in the freak olympics. There were cross-dressing poets. And cowboy poets. And hip-hop poets. And Guatamalan/Iranian/Muslim/Catholic poet.
To fit in, I died my hair green. It just felt right.
Over the course of five days, I experienced a flash flood of culture and talent that would carry over for a decade. I still slam on occasion, nowhere near the number of times from those early days.
I've been in a bit of a creative rut of late, and I know at some point I'm going to have to get over it. But thinking back to those early slam years, and marking more than 10 years as a slam poet, I'm reminded of how awesome an experience it is.
So props to the folks out in West Palm Beach duking it out right now to be slam champions of the world. Hopefully one of these days, I'll be able to get back there myself.

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Set Times for RTB '09 @ Shoreline Ampitheater

The folks @ Guerilla Union just posted up the set times for the Shoreline Ampitheater
stop of the 2009 Rock The Bell festival. Full sked after the jump.

On the main stage, I'm curious to see who fills the TBD slot before Reflection Eternal is set to perform. My guess is Common, since A) he's scheduled to perform according to the festival's Web site and B) him and Kweli could potentially support each other's sets.

Also, I'm kinda bummed that Slaughterhouse is performing the second stage. To catch them, I will have to miss most of Busta's set, which is not a good look. Also, to catch Buckshot and M.O.P., I'll have to miss what I presume will be Common's set and RE. Decisions, decisions.


NAS & DAMIAN MARLEY 9:05 - 10:20 PM
BUSTA RHYMES 8:15 - 8:45 PM
BIG BOI 7:30 - 8:05 PM
THE ROOTS 6:40 - 7:20 PM
TBD 5:00 - 5:40 PM
HOUSE OF PAIN & LCN 4:10 - 4:40 PM
RAEKWON 3:30 - 4:00 PM
TECH N9NE 2:50 - 3:20 PM
CHALI 2NA 2:20 - 2:40 PM
THE KNUX 1:50 - 2:10 PM

OPENING DJ 1:00 PM - 1:50 PM
KRS-ONE (Host)


RZA 8:40 - 9:10 PM
SLUM VILLAGE 7:20 - 7:50 PM
SAGE FRANCIS & B. DOLAN 6:40 - 7:10 PM
M.O.P 6:00 - 6:30 PM
BUCKSHOT 5:30 - 5:50 PM
NECRO 4:30 - 4:50 PM
PSYCHO REALM 4:00 - 4:20 PM
SHORT DAWG 2:30 - 2:50 PM
MICKEY FACTZ 2:00 - 2:20 PM
TABI BONNEY 1:30 - 1:50 PM

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Black Francis coming to Henry Miller Library Aug. 14

Big, bald, chubby, Matt Pinfield-looking Frank Black aka Black Francis is coming to Big Sur for a special show @ The Henry Miller Library. If y'all are like me and got a late start on the Pixies, no sweat. The band has been pretty much in non-stop reunion grind mode the past few years, and they are set to go on tour to support the 20th anniversary of their seminal release “Doolittle,” which features the song that helped me discover the band to begin with, “There Goes Your Man" (now a romantic comedy staple).

In preparation for that tour, Black Francis (Franky baby's solo project) will hit Henry Miller Library @ 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14, with support acts TBA.

In the meantime, you can check out this blog post from the Seattle Times, featuring a few homebrew videos from his Seattle show.

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Rock The Bells Lineup @ Shoreline Ampitheater

There has been no official time slot list released for this Sunday's RTB Festival at Shoreline Ampitheater. But combing through the official festival Web site, I have been able to acquire the line-up based on scheduled appearance dates for each artist. Lineup after the bump.

According to the Web site, these artists are scheduled to appear at the Aug. 9 festival date:

Nas & Damian Marley
The Roots
Busta Rhymes
Big Boi
KRS-ONE (Host)
House of Pain w/La Coka Nostra
Reflection Eternal
Tech N9ne
Sage Francis
Eyedea & Abilities
Slum Village
Chali 2na
Evidence & Alchemist
The Knux
Psycho Realm
Mystyk Journeymen
Mickey Factz
B. Dolan
Tabi Donney
Supernatural (Host)
MURS (Host)
Pete Rock (Host)

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It's Rock The Bells Week!

Hard to believe this will be my fourth year attending Rock The Bells.I know, time flies, right? But it's been an annual highlight and thanks to the power of archiving, I can give a quick re-cap of my previous RTB experiences (more after the jump).

For a recap of the the 2008 RTB, click here and here.

For some reason, I didn't chronicle the 2007 festival on my blog, but to get a wrap-up of the 2006 festival, click here.

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Monday, August 03, 2009

R.I.P. Baatin of Slum Village

Signing in a bit late with this one, but gotta give final props to Baatin, one of the original members of Slum Village. He passed away earlier today. AP swipe after the jump Detroit rapper Baatin dies of unknown causes at 35
Associated Press
3:36 PM CDT, August 3, 2009
DETROIT - Authorities say Detroit rapper Baatin, who co-founded the group Slum Village, has died in his hometown. He was 35.

The rapper, whose real name was Titus Glover, was found dead Saturday. The Wayne County medical examiner's office hasn't yet determined the cause of death, but county spokeswoman Vanessa Denha said Monday there were no obvious signs of trauma or foul play.

Baatin founded Slum Village in the late 1990s with high school classmate James (J. Dilla) Yancey, who died in 2006. The group won critical acclaim in 2000 with its national debut, "Fantastic Vol. 2," followed in 2002 by its highest-profile commercial release, "Trinity." Baatin left the group that year.

The Detroit Free Press says Baatin rejoined Slum Village for its upcoming album, "Villa Manifesto," due Sept. 22.

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DJ Kazzeo Blog - 07.30.09

DJ Kazzeo at it again.

Man, this guy is too much. Calling out Gen. Steele of Smif n Wessun and Michael Vick. Guns blazin'.

Sure glad this guy is on my side, because I would hate to incur his his video blog wrath. Big up Kazz!

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