Drugs are malo

There’s a video floating around the webs that has Cudi saying that he no longer smokes the wacky weed. I feel you. Although Mary Jane was always a part of popular music, it wasn’t a signifier of hip-hop stardom until the mid 90s or so. Blame Cypress Hill or Redman, I guess. Smoking weed out of blunts revolutionized the entire cigar industry. I mean, how many delis now carry every flavor of Dutch known to man? At least the ones near the projects do. On the West Coast it’s Swishers, on the East, it’s the almighty Vanilla Dutch.
I’m glad Cudder is going to leave that weed alone. The stimulus from drugs only does so much good if you’re not a cancer patient. Plus, who likes to walk around acting like Shaggy?

If you continue to smoke trees, do so moderately, if at all. And leave those $2 blunts alone. Also, if you’re good at TOR, check out this online drug dealer reported by Gawker.

It’s SLR, not XLR…

Above, the trailer for Rubber. The news of this film, directed by a French DJ, is like summer 2010 old, but I saw this trailer the other day and haven’t heard of  the movie showing in the states in any theaters, yet.  It’s a movie that really bends the mind when it comes to the concept of character. Can a tire be a character? At the J-School, they’d say no (well, depends…).

Experimental French electro (this time by Mr. Oizo, who directed the movie, and one half of Justice, Gaspard Augé) isn’t my passion, but definitely the music I most like to work to. Thinking about it, from the looks of my work, maybe I need to change soundtracks?

Rubber has some music attached to it that’s definitely worth a listen. It touches on the zeitgeist of electro/industrial/computer noise music that’s been getting mainstream love as of late. Flying Lotus even remixed the lead song on the soundtrack, adding his Lotus-ness to the noise. You can listen to choice cuts from the soundtrack by following this link and scrolling to the bottom of the post. My favorite cut is Tricylce Express, if only because it sounds like a Justice song with that sinister build-up and Daft Punk-like refrain at the top. [Link via http://www.bad-fotography.co.uk ].

Mr. Oizo, who you can read about here, has had his share of mainstream love too. Flat Beat, (I know you remember that sock puppet) put him on the map for us non-electro heads. That song was always on The Box and MTV.

Right now, he’s helped to pioneer the digital filmmaking age by doing his latest feature all using a Canon 5D. I’d be fronting if I said I was a camera expert. I started taking the photo life seriously just last year and have years to go. Studying digital media I came to find out that the Canon and other video SLR cameras like it are necessary tools in the future of journalism. With video a main part of the news cycle the digital SLR cameras not only take the high-quality photos you publish, but also the video narratives you publish on a news site.

In this blog post Mr. Oizo, at a performance last month in New York, geeks out on the benefit of shooting a movie with a Canon 5D Mark II (I have no idea what it means after “Canon”).

There was a time when wanting to make a movie required at the minimum a video camera that could cost you a couple thousand dollars. Now, well…Canons and lenses can still be expensive as hell, but you can buy a lower-end SLR and still do something magical.

The site Newsvideographer.com looks at a few cameras and the results of their video capabilities in telling stories. Roger Ebert was stanning hard on this short video about a snowstorm that was filmed on an SLR. The man compared it with a Russian classic.

Pointer Culture Funk

I’m just finding out that the Pointer Sisters sang this song in the early 70s.

I was listening to Saturday NPR and the closing music on one of the segments used this song to play out on. Some synapses in my brain started buzzing and all that conditioning the Children’s Television Workshop and pre-school embedded in me started to show itself. I started singing “1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12.”

This discovery probably gets made every hour around the globe. Some 80s baby stumbles on some childhood theme song and then they do a post on it. Here’s mine.

  • Someone remixed it already.
  • Sesame Workshop knows how catchy it still is.
  • Grant money created those songs. According to the wiki article :Sesame Street was conceived in 1966 during discussions between television producer Joan Ganz Cooney and Carnegie Foundation vice president Lloyd Morrisett. Their goal was to create a children’s television show that would “master the addictive qualities of television and do something good with them”,[2] such as helping young children prepare for school. After two years of research, the newly formed Children’s Television Workshop (CTW) received a combined grant of $8 million from Carnegie, the Ford Foundation, and the US federal government to create and produce a new children’s television show.”
  • It’s actually called “Pinball Number Count.”  Considering this a serious piece of music, the wiki article states: “Music for Pinball Number Count was composed by Walt Kraemer and arranged by Ed Bogas. The vocals were provided by the Pointer Sisters. The arrangements in the eleven films reflect musical idioms commonly found in 1970s urban culture, predominantly funk and jazz, though other styles including Caribbean steel drum music are also represented. The number-specific middle sections contain one of three different (presumably) improvised instrumental solos over a basic progression, respectively featuring soprano saxophone, electric guitar, and steel drum. Consistent with an abbreviated jazz structure, a prearranged head and turnaround / coda are played during the common starting and ending animation sequences. The vocals work in similar fashion with improvised shouts of the numbers 212 during the middle section and a return to the arranged counting at the end. The song is mostly in the time signature of 4/4, with every other couple of measures in 3/4, and one measure that goes into the one 4/4 bar before the open solo section [which is in 4/4] is in 5/4.”
  • The Pointer Sisters really were the business in the 80s.


  • Now, they play the Bronx

Mexican BeatBox Battle


Hip-hop is either really innovative nowadays, or returning to its pre-80’s roots. The elements that’ve grounded hip-hop culture for the past three decades  fell out of vogue on the home turf some time ago. Rappers over 40 see more paper by going to Europe than during a Rock the Bells tour. (Dave told me something to that effect.)

In Mexico, where hip-hop culture is trapped in a kind of pre-mainstream fabric that used to house it here in the U.S., the second installment of a beatbox contest will have its second competition. Beat boxing isn’t something you see a lot of rappers doing these days. It’s relegated to a Justin Timberlake gimmick. But for all you 80s babies, you know how often you’d hear someone beat boxing on the subway or on TV:

Beatbox Battle Mexico is the brainchild of Berlin b-boy, beat boxer Dj Mesia. He’s an ambassador for American-style hip-hop, and travels the world doing workshops and competitions. Two years ago, I traveled to the middle of nowhere in the state of Mexico to a bar where Mesia was holding the first beatbox battle. It was an impressive presentation with highly practiced Mexico kids and a grown-ass man here and there, spitting rhythms into a mic and trying to belittle their competitors. I remember a Michael Jackson impersonator with a mean routine out beat-boxed the competitors. Mesia told me that trips to Mexico to meet up with a girlfriend inspired him to start a beat box competition there. While German ties with Mexico are a couple centuries old, it’s interesting to see this transnational effort to keep hip-hop culture alive in the world.

This event is seriously in the middle of nowhere in the state of Mexico. Good for the local kids and a hallmark of hip-hop’s travelling powers, but hard as heck to find if you’re unfamiliar with travelling outside of Mexico City. Luckily, someone made a map for this event.

If you live in Mexico and want to enter the contest, e-mail producer Speedy speedysrecords@hotmail.com.

Oscar wins:Trent Reznor v.s. Three 6 Mafia

It was a hardcore piece of ignorance when a Gangsta Boo-less Three 6 won an Oscar in 2006 for “Hustle & Flow”.  At the time I was happy to see another non-conformist event at the Oscars. Tonight, while not nearly as non-conformist as gold-tooth wearing Southerners taking the stage at the Kodak Theater, Trent Reznor won an Oscar for a movie score that tugged on the strings of digital darkness more than selections from Daft Punk’s Tron: Legacy score, one of my favorite’s of 2010.

As any music fan knows, Reznor is the gee-O-dee of industrial rock. Along with a guy named Atticus Ross, who worked on an industrial jazz tech album called The Negro Inside Me (?!!!), Reznor crafted a score that pegs the inner darkness, “alienation and isolation” of a super nerd with extraordinary money-getting powers.

You can still download a free sampler of the The Social Network score, here. Take a listen:

Track via Stereogum.com

Requiem for Dr. Dre’s Kids’ Music Careers

For those who already know of my obsession with wanting to report on Dr. Dre’s children, I promise this is the last post (unless someone pays me handsomely to do a follow-up, or either Hood Surgeon or Manaj become newsworthy).

When I was on the trail of Hood Surgeon some 4 years ago, I also came to know Manaj (pronounced Mi-NAJ), a woman from Southern California’s San Fernando Valley who also rode the “I come from Dre,” wagon. She was pushing a documentary called Daddy’s Shadow at the time. She even had a little online marketing action going that included a description of the flick:

Daddy’s Shadow is a feature-length documentary centered on my quest to break into the music industry despite my legendary multi-millionaire father’s objections and lack of support.

A-huh. Right.

I got to meet Hood Surgeon, who confirmed that Manaj was his sister. I attempted on several occasions to meet up with her, but each time the plans fell through. I found her a bit more intriguing that the young Curtis McLemore, mainly because of the mess Manaj seemed to be in. She was coming out and saying that Dr. Dre stood in her way and didn’t want her in the industry. Okay. To make matters all the more interesting, she was planning to put out this documentary under a company called Wigga Wreckords, which was run by a guy calling himself Judge M.

I spoke to Judge M who told me his name was Matt and that he was a computer programmer. He seemed pleasant enough. I could tell he was just trying to ride Manaj’s affiliation to see how far he could go in the industry. Amazon show’s he had a .99 offering entitled “What a Wigga Iz.”  He later got really defensive on the phone when I started to ask him about why he was working with Dre’s daughter, and asked him to respond to her allegations he was somehow manipulating her. Later I saw the cover of his album. This is wrong on so many levels. So many levels.

I wish I was making all of this up. But it’s true.

Just to prove it to you, after the jump is my unedited working draft from this story. Several drafts of it were sent to colleagues and editors whose interest level was something like -10 on a scale of 1 to 10.

Continue reading “Requiem for Dr. Dre’s Kids’ Music Careers”

Corridos Found in Translation



So the homeboy Manny Wheels was looking for the transcription to the corrido we used in our previous video together. He’s crafting a long-form report on the corrido situation in Nueva York, look out for that in a few months. I think he can get it up in the Voice, but we’ll see. Biters everywhere. Best of luck to you Mano.

This is probably not that newsworthy to some, but when a group of this stature (like K-Paz de la Sierra, above) comes to Brooklyn, that’s a rare occasion. If you’re looking for something to say about K-Paz, there’s always the story about how their former lead singer was found hanged with cigarette burns on his body. A narco-style kidnaping/murder for sure.  Not that Brooklyn or NYC is a stranger to narco-style murders.

Big Payback

Today was a proud day for my inner hip-hop journo. The J-School featured not only 1, but 2 intellectual hip-hop heads who took the stage to share their success with the journo-youngstas. Generally, these aren’t the types of cats who are sweated by the academy, but with at least 2 of the journo-youngsters dedicating their Masters work to hip-hop themes, it’s a sign that the mainstream has totally taken the edge out of things. I can’t wait to read these Masters projects.

One of the alums, a man whose career I’ve followed for some time now because of his dedication to hip-hop journalism (in addition to yoga?) has really added some cultural knowledge to the history of the form in his book, The Big Payback. He was interviewed on stage in a private event just for our Spring Prep Day. He explained his book writing process (two hours of sleep while writing his tome and holding down a day gig) and read from his book. His 600 page joint is being heavily touted by all manner of smart opinion makers such as NPR and O-Dubb. The section of his book that he read had to do with Andre Harrell, but since I was mad hungry the only thing that stuck out to me was when he said something about Beefsteak Charlie’s. You’ll have to read the book to figure out what that’s all about.

Do you remember those old Beefsteak Charlie’s commercials?

Continue reading “Big Payback”