I Know Huh X Wayneandwax X Postopolis!

Above, Rapper 2Phase on the mic (center), at a January 2010, rap event near Centro.  It was a 7 hour rap show in a hall connected to Cría Cuervos, a punk/goth space. Pictured is the entire concert stage, the bar was off to the right.

For my presentation today, I invited 2Phase and Yoez. More about them during our chat, but I wanted to give a little background on why I chose these two, of the literally hundreds of rappers trying to get their voices heard in D.F.

2Phase was one of the first rappers I saw perform when I got here in the winter of 2008  (Listen to some tracks from his 1st album, here and here.). He was performing in another punk space, El Under, in Colonia Roma. The reason why I picked him is because, first, he speaks English. And, two, he´s not only a rapper, but a producer for Revolver Productions. I felt that he could talk about, not only the rap scene, but also the technical aspects of production and getting product and merch out to the masses.

Yoez is a rapper I heard a lot about, because she was a member of D.F.´s  first all-girl rap group Rimas Femininas. I researched this group for a story that appeared in Latina magazine, but I never got a chance to talk to Yoez. Her work is personal and she´s got a stage presence that can´t be ignored. I´ve seen her destroy crowds at Foro Alicia, usually over some heavy West Coast beat.

*Super shouts to Wayne Marshall for inviting me as a guest.


Moment of truth

News came out Tuesday morning, just in time for the morning drive shows, that Guru died sometime Monday. He was just 43.

Reports say  it was due to complications from cancer — minus the heart attack I blogged about here. But what´s causing a stir for music fans isn´t the prognosis, but the unclear information about Guru’s relationship with his Gang Starr cohorts and a letter he wrote on his deathbed.  Important matters considering this is a guy whose body of work helped shape hip-hop culture in the 1990s.

Being in Gang Starr is part of his legacy, and the legacy of NY/Boston hip-hop.  An odd letter to fans,  allegedly via Guru (one of those, if ¨If I die, make sure they get this¨, type of letters) , just opens up more questions about Guru’s relationship with his new music partner and his former DJ.  Not to mention the shock most fans felt over a death too early. Too soon.

The letter calls Guru the sole creator of Gang Starr, and puts a big X over the name of DJ Premier. This whole thing is dragging Gang Starr´s name through the mud. It´s  a shame. I can only think of Eazy-E and Too Poetic of Gravediggaz, as rappers who´ve died from natural causes, so early in their lives. Without the subsequent drama.

Still, many knew that Guru and Premier had  a fall-out for unknown reasons some years back, when he started a controversial working relationship with hip-hop producer Solar (no relation to the French rapper).

I first learned about this riff back in 2007, when I interviewed Big Shug for thesmokingsection.net. In the interview, he mentions Solar and the rift between the original Gang Starr members.

It could just be internet chatter, but are you and Guru not on the best of terms right now?

Shug: Basically, Guru, man…he stepped off to do his own thing about three years ago. So me and Premier continue to represent for Gang Starr Foundation, what have you, and everything that sprouts from it. Like, Premiere has year-round records at Headquarters studio and I have Team Shug and some other various projects. We haven’t spoken to Guru in about three years, but that’s by his choice and he’s doing his new thing with his new producer. His name is like Suna Son, Solar or something.

So officially, Gang Starr doesn’t consist of Guru anymore?

Shug: I mean, it’s not functioning right now. Gang Starr will always be known as Guru and Premier, but they not together right now. I don’t know if they’ll ever be together again, but you can never rule things out. He’s just out there doing his new project with his producer named Clown Solar or something. I don’t know. He doing some clown shit.

You directing any lyrics at Guru on the new album.

Shug: It depends. On “Just Don’t Stop” I’m more or less talking about where cats is at with the music and how they sound better with Premier.

When you read the letter, it becomes clear: there was bad blood between Guru and friends.

I do not wish my ex-DJ to have anything to do with my name likeness, events tributes etc. connected in anyway to my situation including any use of my name or circumstance for any reason and I have instructed my lawyers to enforce this. I had nothing to do with him in life for over 7 years and want nothing to do with him in death. Solar has my life story and is well informed on my family situation, as well as the real reason for separating from my ex-DJ. As the sole founder of GangStarr, I am very proud of what GangStarr has meant to the music world and fans. I equally am proud of my Jazzmatazz series and as the father of Hip-Hop/Jazz.

Check out DJ Premier´s weekly mix show on satellite radio. DJ Premier: Live From HeadQCourterz, Friday 10PM to Midnight (ET)

Manny Pacquiao of DJs


Pac Man proved his dominance again this weekend. According to the New York Times Manny´s pull on the Filipino people is such that even the gangsters take a break on a Pacquiao fight night. He´s the first from his country to be such a huge international cultural icon. Before him, who were the heroes little Filipino boys and girls looked up to?

For kids wanting a career in music, perhaps Neil Armstrong is someone to take that title. Filipino Djs, especially those from California ( Neil reps NY) are really holding together the art of turntablism, party deejaying and hip-hop mixtape culture. Neil even spoke against the RIAA pressure on the mixtape industry some years ago.

DJ Neil ¨Armstrong¨ Rodriguez, is  a New York-bred DJ who rose up in the turntablist competitions ruled by the Bay Area.  He started taking turntables seriously in the mid 90s after earning a chemical engineering degree, and has been growing more ultra-successful in the last 5 years.

There was this gig as tour DJ for Jay-Z for several years, (here’s a Q&A I did with him in the Spring of 2008), which led to deejaying gigs in China during the Olympics. He no longer tours with Jigga, but has a nice job as spokesman for the Adidas/Star Wars campaign. He also released a free mixtape this month that´s dedicated to Jay-Z.

Rodriguez has crafted a mixtape ouvre that’s taken the concept of a  Ron G “blend” tape a lot farther than maybe it was supposed to go. His mixtapes tap into raw nostalgia at times, and sometimes just hinge on an emotion. Check ¨Warmfuzzy¨.

I´m not Filipino, but a Filipino national who immigrated to Newark, NJ, during the turn of the Century did marry into my family. This is him below. I´ve heard he was good at martial arts, but that could´ve been a stereotype passed down through the generations. He was known as ¨Pop¨.

To hear more Neil Armstrong mixes, check out a mixtape/soundtrack to travel he did. The excellent classic rock filled “Extraordinary” mix, part of his All Out Kings series. And also check out his updated podcast page, where you can hear his “Warmfuzzy,” mix. Hear this mix from L.A.’s The Do-Over.

Continue reading “Manny Pacquiao of DJs”

I Too, Miss Mr. Magic

Maybe my google search box isn’t working right, but I can’t find any mainstream press, other than MTV and ET, mentioning the passing of Mr. Magic. No New York Post, NYT…no one. Kudos to Gawker for running something fairly early.

Mr. Magic was the glue that binded the people to hip-hop culture and music. The first supa-star hip-hop radio DJ. What Ralph McDaniels was to video hosting, Mr. Magic was to dropping bombs on hot songs.

The first time I actually paid attention to Mr. Magic, was one Friday night when my cousin Reg asked his mom to turn on “Rap Attack.” Reg was always glued to the radio like that back in the day. We were probably in 2nd or 3rd grade and this rap stuff was all the trend in Linden and Newark, all the kids like Reg were showing their affiliation by buying countless tapes: BDP, PE, Run-DMC, the Christmas rap album. You name it, Reg bought it. It wasn’t long before he had turntables and I was trying to scratch up DWYK to the worst of my abilities.

Mr. Magic made a lot of that possible. That historic show on WBL(-kickin-)S was always a mainstay on a drizzly or snow crazy Friday or Saturday night. I can’t say I remember a lot of shows, but I know when I started finding stuff online, it brought back tons of memories from my days as a shorty. With that, R.I.P, Mr. Magic, my aunt Vicky, DJ AM, and GM Roc Raida.

Listen to some of the mixes and read more for yourself.

Old School Hip-Hop Tapes blog says he’ll be upping Mr. Magic show mp3’s all weekend.

If you need something to bump in iTunes right now, look here.

I think Cold Rock Da Spot actually gets his name right.

Of course, there’s tons (like hereand here)to read and learn about Mr. Magic.

Doble H en Mexico

rappers,niñadioz,dioz,mexicanrappers, rap, mexico,rap en español
RAPERA´S DELIGHT: D.F. via Monterrey rapper Niña Dioz tears it down at the Spanish Cultural Center in Downtown Mexico City.

I just read a post over at the always interesting Mija Chronicles regarding hip-hop culture in Mexico, or maybe its lack thereof.  A topic I´ve been focusing on for almost half a year.

Let me first say that the Mija is a friend of mine, so in no way am I trying to clown her, but when I read these graphs:

I haven’t read a whole lot about why hip-hop isn’t big here, but I wonder if it has to do with the fact that in Mexico, there seems to be a culture of quiet acceptance when things go wrong. Politicians stealing again? Sigh, shake of the head. Yep, that’s what they always do. No water? Yeah, but that’s just the way it is. The general notion seems to be to keep your head down, and make sure your family is fed. Not strike back at The Man through politically aware lyrics.

That still doesn’t answer the question about why American hip-hop culture hasn’t seeped in more. Mexicans have embraced plenty of other aspects of American culture — fast food, sneaker boutiques, Wal-Mart.

I was like oh, boy (rubbed my hands together like a plotting mad professor) gotta get to back to blogging.

Before I continue, let me just give you a little context:

See, back in 2005, ya boy was sitting in the dungeons of  a newspaper (clocking decent loot), wondering to himself: How can I get the heck out of here? And it dawned on me…write. So I wrote. And I wrote about hip-hop, because, frankly I listened to enough 89 Tech 9, been to enough Rock Steady Crew reunions, the Apollo, Summer Jams, you name it to know more about this music and culture than, perhaps,  your average person who writes for a newspaper. At least that´s been my experience.

That said, I thank every reporter who didn´t realize Snoop dropped the Doggy Dog years ago, didn´t know Ceelo Green had a career before Dangermouse, doesn´t know who Paul Wall is, can´t tell me which rapper sampled in the opening of Biggie´s “Ten Crack Commandments”, or tell me what sippin syrup refers to. Thank you oh peddlers of popular culture. Thank you, you helped me find my way.

Back to Mija´s blog.

Hip-hop culture vs. rap music…yes, it´s more clear cut than the “I´m Black” vs. “I´m African-American” debate.

The Mexican embrace … of sneaker boutiques is totally hip-hop culture. So, if we just look at that BAM! we got hip-hop culture in plain view. Other than that..commercial radio out here is more apt to play Zoe than Jay-Z, but if you blast ” Big Pimpin ,” most Mexicans in their 20s will start bobbing their head to this familiar jam.

I won´t get into it all right now, because I´d like to give this all more thought.  And more posts, dig.

There´s a lot of evidence that hip-hop culture is as part of the mainstream fabric of Mexican society as anywhere. Now, the economics here are different, so you don´t see hip-hop pushed into people´s faces like you do in the States. I don´t know, maybe it´s the lack of suburban white people in Mexico that keeps hip-hop at a more humble existence here. But it´s here. And don´t worry, I lace you with the knowledge. I´ve got some adventures to post about, female emcees, and the rest. Stay tuned.

  1. In the meanwhile, learn about political hip-hop in Mexico.
  2. The O.G. DJ you should try to hire if you want your expat friends to experience real hip-hop, Mexico-style.
  3. See why all the love for bumpers and rappers.
  4. Why it´s just a liiiiitle racist down here.
  5. Just who is that girl in the pic up there?
  6. Sometimes we don´t JUST write about rap. But maybe “we” should.

“…Shaker Heights” to “Transformers” Cudi and Cleveland Rap

FRIENDS of KANYE:  Taz Arnold,left, of SA-RA Creative Partners, and Kid Cudi at The Hundreds BBQ '08 in L.A.'s Fairfax District. Both are signed to Kanye West's G.O.O.D Music label.
FRIENDS of KANYE: Taz Arnold,left, of SA-RA Creative Partners, and Kid Cudi at The Hundreds BBQ '08 in L.A.'s Fairfax District. Both are signed to Kanye West's G.O.O.D Music label.

Plain Pat what up!?

I’ve always wanted to holler that.

Scott Mescudi owes a lot to the Pat, the former Def Jam A&R who gave Kanye support and also works as Cudi’s manager. The rapper is set to be an international star. Not bad, Cudi is booked for  Lollapalooza 2009, in addition to getting an introduction to the world via a Kanye West video.

Cudi, who’s from Shaker Heights (not the hardest section near Cleveland, or is it?) just put out his latest mixtape. It’s more or less a compilation of several mixtapes he’s appeared on, including his first.

But it’s a good way to re-hear some gems like this track with Jackie Chain:

and this song, too:

This photo of Cudi at SXSW 2009 was taken by deannadentphotography.wordpress.com/

Continue reading ““…Shaker Heights” to “Transformers” Cudi and Cleveland Rap”

Mexico City’s ‘Conscious’ Rapper: BocaFloja

MEXICO CITY'S PEOPLE'S MC:  Bocafloja or "Lazy Mouth" inside Kaya nightclub
THE PEOPLE'S MC: Bocafloja or "Lazy Mouth" inside Kaya nightclub on Tamaulipas in D.F.

According to M-1 of Dead Prez, Bocafloja is down with the R.B.G movement. That was something I learned listening to the intro of Boca’s last CD.  However, my curiosity about the guy above first peaked when a professor studying “global hip-hop,” told me in so many words that Bocafloja is the truth.

In other words, he’s the  real deal.

(….See a clip from his show and hear the Dead Prez intro after the jump)

Continue reading “Mexico City’s ‘Conscious’ Rapper: BocaFloja”