Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Memory Lane - Onyx

On any given day, while listening to music—whether sitting at my desk at work or driving to wherever in my car—chances are I'm listening to underground/independent Hip-Hop. It's not to say it's the best music in the world, but it's what suits me. However, don't get it twisted, underground/Indie is not synonymous with "substance" or "good". Like any genre of music, there is a fair share of greatness, mixed with complete and utter useless garbage.

In any regard, my recent focus has been on AOL Radio's '90s Hip-Hop channel. What Hip-Hop fan knows anything about anything can deny that the late '80s through late '90s were the shining moment of Hip-Hop? If they're intelligent, no one will deny that. In fact, they would probably get filled with nostalgia at the brink of discussion and start name-dropping their favorite artists and songs from the golden era of music (actually late '80s - mid '90s).

With that being said, I have reacquainted myself with one of my favorite groups of all time, Onyx. In the same respect as the Wu-Tang Clan, Onyx helped to pioneer East Coast Hardcore Hip-Hop with their debut album, Bacdafucup. The entire narrative of the album focuses on stick-ups, robberies, flexing your artillery muscles, and of course, the occasional sex talk.

Now, with the exception of Onyx and a very limited few, I've never been a huge fan of gang vocals in rap music, because most people have no real clue how to execute it properly, but Onyx get it done like a hardcore punk band, which is why they were able to team up with a band like Biohazard on more than one occasion (Judgment Night, Slam). When the chants come in at the end of a line delivery, it's not just to sound loud, or because members think they don't get enough mic time. No. The gang vocals not only add to the passion and energy of the crew, but they reinforce the brutal messages in the lyrics, adding extra emphasis to their dark, grimy street tales.

17 years later, Bacdafucup is still a gem, albeit others who followed over the years have attempted to one-up their predecessors. Few are memorable, but those mad face bald heads will forever be legends.

Do yourself a favor and listen to Bacdafucup, whether it's your first time or you're revisiting the album. Give yourself an opportunity to relive 1993. But as a fair warning, it is an extremely unrelenting, aggressive album.

Onyx - Throw Ya Gunz

Onyx and Biohazard - Judgment Night

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Soundset 2011

Last Thursday I took a trip out to Minneapolis, MN to spend time with some friends and check out Soundset 2010, the annual independent Hip-Hop music festival put on by Rhymesayers Entertainment. Curious about who performed? Check out the archives at SoundsetFestival.com. The site contains the show lineup, videos, and pictures.

With this year's show already come and gone, and being as amazing as it was, and last year's show being great too (I didn't see 2008), I developed a list of independent and legendary acts I feel deserve a shot at rocking the Soundset stages and tents.

Unfortunately, it looks like the majority of the acts I listed, I personally feel earned time on the main stage, so my other stage list will be a little light.

Main Stage

The Cool Kids
Blu & Exile
A Tribe Called Quest
De La Soul
Goodie Mob
Dungeon Family
Gnarls Barkley
The Roots
Public Enemy
Pete Rock & CL Smooth
Bone Thugs N Harmony
Ice Cube
Jurassic 5
The Beatnuts
Kool Keith
Little Brother
Camp Lo
Sean Price/Boot Camp Click
Mos Def
Talib Kweli
Pharoahe Monch
Jean Grey
Mr. Lif/Perceptionists
Soul Position

Fifth Element Stage

F. Stokes
Soulcrate Music
Joe Good
Oh No
Jay Electronica
Reef the Lost Cauze
J. Cole

B-Boy/B-Girl Tent

DJ Danger Mouse
DJ Shadow
DJ Qbert
DJ Premiere
DJ Honda
Mr. Len
Flying Lotus
Gaslamp Killer
Pete Rock
King Britt
Dan the Automater
Kid Koala

Hosted by

Sway and King Tech
Fab 5ive Freddy

I'm not saying this should be the lineup for the next festival, but I am suggesting that any of these people would be great for the festival. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to post them here. Please keep in mind that this is an event put on by RSE, so certain performers won't fit the scheme of things. Trust me, I want M.O.P. too, but it's not going to happen. I'm also aware that it would be highly unlikely for Joe Good to accept an invitation, because he doesn't rap anymore, but a guy can dream, right?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Update of the American Fangs Update

In the last post I labeled the new American Fangs song as Pressure. Well, I did some sleuthing, and I believe from the list of songs the band has recorded, Future sounds most likely to be the title of this heavy gem. If you have the AF EP, or you have at least heard it (highly recommended), a few of the songs will look familiar. If you haven't listened to Future yet, check the video below.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

*NEW* American Fangs

American Fangs wrapped up three dates with the Deftones recently, and posted this brand-spankin'-new video last week! It's for a new song off of their upcoming full-length album. I don't know the title of the album or the song, but I'm going to label it as Pressure.

Pressure is a huge relief in a world dominated by Warped Tour bands like Attack Attack and Bullet for My Valentine. If that's your thing, then more power to you. It feels like it draws influence from '90s bands such as Pennywise and Pantera. Maybe it's the deep bass, aggressive playing, the breakdown, and the gruff vocal delivery. I don't know. What I do know is that I want (that's read: need) more of it!

If you feel like you want to punch, kick, and possibly knock someone upside the head, then you're definitely feeling this track.

Keep an eye open, as the Fangs plan to tour this summer in support of their upcoming release.

Check out the video below.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

American Fangs x Deftones

First off, thank you once again, American Fangs for funneling people over here to read my stuff. I appreciate it.

News Flash! The American Fangs x Deftones concert for today, April 27 at Club 101 in El Paso, TX has officially SOLD the F OUT! Once again, if you're in Texas, and you like American Fangs or Deftones, you should try to grab tickets to one of the two other shows this week in Corpus Christi or Mission.

I would go, but the Northeast is a long ways away from any part of Texas.


Monday, April 26, 2010

American Fangs

Have you heard of the American Fangs? You know, that band from Houston, TX. No…not them. The American Fangs! If you’ve read a past post of mine, then you would know I started following at the end of October of last year when they slid through Philly with Saul Williams on the Afro-Punk Tour.

I made a really bold move by purchasing the group's self-titled EP before actually seeing them perform, but I assumed I would like them anyway, and I was saving myself time and possibly a rush at the merch table later on in the evening. Well, I was right. I watched those guys tear up the stage, while after the show I listened to the EP on my way back home.

The very next day I was on the Fangs' Twitter page, and I let them know I gave them a little spin on my blog (this one). Well, they thanked me for it, and even reached out to me when they came back to Philly for their stint with State Radio. Regardless of the snowstorm that was taking place throughout the day, I braved the unforgiving interstate system and hit the Electric Factory for another great performance, even though I was late. After all, who ever starts a concert on time (I heard Wilco is very prompt)?

Since early January, the Fangs have been going through the numerous stages to release their debut full-length album. The band has taken road trips to and from New York City and back to Houston, rocked some shows at home, as well as in Louisiana, and are steadily knocking out step, after step, after step, and documenting it all with video.

Needless to say, I’m beyond excited for this band to drop some new work on the masses! Word on the street is that AF plans to do another tour this summer. In the meantime, the group is going out to support the Deftones Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday this week! Is that huge, or what? If you’re in Texas at all this week, be sure to nab some tickets to one of the few shows happening.

Be on the lookout for these guys. I guarantee they're going to be one of those groups me and a select few will know of in a few years when the rest of the world is just catching on. Do yourself a favor, and get with the program now. Nobody likes to have to catch up on a catalog of music. Nah uh.

Seriously...listen to them.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dear Co-Worker

I’ve been using Twitter I think since July of 2009, and somewhere over that short span of time, I started tweeting events occurring in my office that annoy me. Mainly, it was directed at one person in particular.

In any office setting, there is a certain amount of professionalism that is expected from all employees. While I may not be the most upright citizen, let alone ever being in contention for an accolade such as “Employee of the Month”, I still attempt to hold myself with a particular level of dignity and respectability.

Friends who follow me on Twitter have commented via Twitter, text messages, and in-person that they enjoy my passive-aggressive, yet humorous take on my daily workplace frustrations. After all, it’s much easier to vent about my frustrations in a comical manner, than it is to play nanny for an adult older than myself.

Essentially, I’m posting this, because I have given much thought to people’s requests for a “Dear Co-Worker” Twitter page, or a “Dear Co-Worker” blog. Honestly, I would love to do it. I think it would be great, and with all of the potential positive outcomes that could arise from such a venture, I regretfully have to decline to move forward on such an endeavor.

The reality of the situation is this; we live in a world where very little is sacred, and every man, woman, and child is held accountable for their actions in public and private, as well as virtual settings. While it would be entertaining for me to provide friends and strangers alike with a good laugh from time to time, I feel that the risk for exposure is too great. It’s not that my place of business would catch wind of my musings, but the fact of the matter is, it’s very possible, and the idea is a little too threatening to me.

I would hate to jeopardize my employment, because someone put the pieces of the puzzle together, with the resulting picture being my face. Unfortunately for all of you, that is not a reality I am ready to take on.

The thought of going “private” has already crossed my mind, but doesn’t lend itself to logic. A Twitter page or blog of that nature is one I would appreciate being seen by as many people as possible. Limiting it to those that I know is a defeated idea in and of itself.

I truly am sorry, but please understand that I need to be a responsible, mature human being about the matters at hand.

Thank you

Friday, February 5, 2010

Don't Blame the White Man

Earlier today, I went to the public library up the street with a co-worker of mine, so that she could pick up some books and other materials for her kids at home. While she looked around in the reference section upstairs, I poked around at the DVDs. I always gravitate towards the movies, even if I don't actually carry my library card on me. On a side note: I do plan on eventually taking my card to the library and borrowing some documentaries and films I haven't seen yet (Vertigo, Metropolis, BrĂ¼no).

As I was standing there sifting through the arrangement, I overheard a woman speaking to one of the librarians (is that a correct term for everyone at the library?). The conversation went something like this:

Woman: "Yeah, I'm homeless, see. And I just came here to Delaware recently on the train. I need to use the internet but can't get on the computer."

Librarian: "Okay. I think what we need is an ID from you. One moment please. *Looking to a co-worker* What do we need?"

Co-worker: "You would need to show us a valid ID and *something inaudible*"

W: "Here you go."

L: "I'm sorry, I can't take this. This isn't an ID, it's a social security card."

W: "Please, I just need to use the computer. I don't see what the big deal is."

L: "I'm sorry, but those are the rules. I didn't make them up, and I can't wave them just for you."

W: "That doesn't make any sense! I don't see what the problem is..."

L: "The fact of the matter is, ma'am, you came in here earlier, gave me a completely different story, you said you came to town on the Greyhound bus, then when I asked to see your ID, you just flashed something at me. You didn't even show me what you had in your hand. What you just showed me is a social security card. I can't use that. I need to see a valid, state-issued form of ID."

The woman continues to cause a scene, being loud, obnoxious, and rude. I can't recall everything that was happening, but I'll continue.

Remaining calm, the librarian says,

L: "Ma'am."

W: "I ain't your ma'am!"

L: "It may be best if you just leave."

The disgruntled woman continues to holler about whatever.

L: "Okay, you need to leave."

W: "This is ridiculous!"

L: "You need to leave."

W: "You should let me use the internet! It's Martin Luther King's birthday!"

L: "I didn't know that was part of the rules."

W: "Well, it should be!"

The woman storms out of the library, and proceeds to scream and yell on the street. I know this, because I still heard her as I stood in the DVD section, near a window.

Let's get a few things clear. What I am accounting really happened, number one. Number two, it happened today. Do you know what today is? It's Friday, February 5, 2010. Dr. King's birthday was last month. Yes, it's Black History Month right now, but it doesn't give any person of color a pass to behave like a complete jerk. Yes, the woman was black, and the librarian was white. The color of both women is completely irrelevant.

Allow me to point something out. Today's scenario was a case of a person trying to accomplish something (what I don't know), and when it didn't work out in that person's favor, there was an attempt to turn the tables, and be made into the victim of discrimination. Did the woman have a library card? No. Did she have a photo ID? No. A social security card does not guarantee that you are who you say you are. I know, a photo ID can be forged, but it's more likely to be of the person holding it.

I myself, like so many others out there, am beyond sick and tired of people trying to get ahead by using the struggles and accomplishments of others. Name-dropping Dr. King will not work in your favor, I'm sorry. What King stood for, and died for was not to have a person 40 years down the line, manipulate the rules, because they don't live according to the same standards as the majority. My president's black. So what?! Yes, I voted for Obama, but not because I relate to him racially. I also didn't look to Obama like he is that family member you don't speak to until they come across money. I voted for him, because he made me believe that it was possible for people to unite and achieve the greater good through both words and actions.

Honestly, I'm not trying to preach peace, love, and tolerance, but I would really appreciate seeing people act with a sense of accountability sometime before I die. For anyone refusing to get on-board with what should be happening, you're not forcing those who look down on us to search for a reason to look down on us any longer. If anything, too many are reinforcing negative, stereotypical archetypes. It's not racism every time a white person tells a person of color, no.

So where do the excuses and handouts stop? I would definitely like to know, so I can take a photograph of the last person in line.

I don't know where else to go with this, but let's try a little harder.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

25 Hip-Hop Albums to Hear Before You Die

Sorry, folks, but this is just the list. I've been working on/revising this list (on and off) since August or September, but battled with myself on how to execute it, or just flat-out got distracted and set it aside.

What I plan on doing sooner or later (hopefully sooner) is to do an extended version of the list, by writing small blurbs about each album, including why I think it's special.

Let me just say before giving you the goods, that this list in no way reflects my opinion of the 25 greatest Hip-Hop albums of all time, although some of these titles belong there. You can feel free to agree or disagree with this all you want, as we all have our ideal group of greats. By all means, please reply and even give me your idea of what you think belongs on a list of this nature, whether it's on here or on Twitter. I will say that I am unapologetic for the list being heavily East Coast in nature, as I'm from the East. And yes, I count 2Pac as part of the East, as he is from Brooklyn, NY, was raised in Baltimore, and even talks about NY in his earlier work. All the West Coast noise he was yelling didn't really come until Death Row signed his death certificate by getting him out of jail.

Similar to my music video list, this is not the first, and it will not be the last.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Now with no further ado, I present the list in no particular order (because I'm lazy):

1. 2Pac - Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.
2. Notorious B.I.G. - Ready 2 Die
3. A Tribe Called Quest - Midnight Marauders
4. Tha Pharcyde - Bizarre Ride 2 Tha Pharcyde
5. Ice Cube - The Predator
6. Public Enemy - It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
7. Wu-Tang Clan - Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
8. Nas - Illmatic
9. KRS-ONE - Return of the Boom Bap
10. De La Soul - 3 Feet High and Rising
11. Fugees - The Score
12. Deltron 3030 - Deltron 3030
13. Common - Resurrection
14. Run DMC - Raising Hell
15. Dr. Dre - The Chronic
16. Jay-Z - Reasonable Doubt
17. Black Sheep - A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
18. Pete Rock and CL Smooth - Mecca and the Soul Brother
19. Mos Def - Black on Both Sides
20. Kanye West - Late Registration
21. El-P - Fantastic Damage
22. Camp Lo - Uptown Saturday Night
23. Gang Starr - Moment of Truth
24. Outkast - ATLiens
25. Eric B. and Rakim - Let the Rhythm Hit 'Em

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

It's Almost Here

I've been on a ridiculous hiatus. In November I spent time with my extended family for Thanksgiving, ran off to Minneapolis for the third time in one year in December for the Doomtree Blowout V, ran back to spend time with my extended family for Christmas, dipped to Virginia and DC, hit Maryland, and came back home. New Years I kept things pretty low (as always), but my stress levels went through the roof with my job, so needless to say, blogging wasn't even a consideration as far as priorities go.

It's now January, and I was working on a "Before You Die" list back in August/September that never saw the light of day. It's a list of 25 items that I was planning on doing a small write-up for each one, but my attention goes in whatever direction the wind is blowing. I'm sorry.

Like I said, I've been working on it again, because for one, it needs to get finished, but also, I want it to be tiiight...! I'm really digging this thing, and I can't wait to share it with others. Maybe people will benefit from my suggestions.

Please remain patient.