That time I went to a barrio in Venezuela to talk to a religious rapper

It was Twitter that led me to this chamo. The story I worked on before that was about bitcoin or something.

I wanted to get back to something that had the potential to entertain in a city that was hyper violent and barely had toilet tissue. It came in the form of a group of guys who made home movies to show to the hood and also rapped on the side.

The leader, Joe, was a rapper who had the story of redemption through God and beats. I met a bunch of guys who were doing some reggaeton-rap stuff. They made a movie that reminded me a little of “I’m Bout it”. It was mostly because of the production value. It’s always the production value with these hood movies.

We went to their hood; their community center. It was beautiful, rising there were the slums, the barrio that ran up the mountain.

And I was safe, because the Garcha twins were right there with me.

The twins were working on Marty’s movie. We had all worked on Marty’s movie by this time.

Watch the video at the top if you haven’t already. It took some time and some care. Plus the kid from the La Linea hood, who hops on to bust a rhyme around the 4:34 mark is everything about hip-hop culture.


Can’t Work to Hip-Hop


There are no express trains on the Mexico City subway system. If you have a stop on the other side of the city, you just have to wait for the ride. You can try transferring to a different line, but there’s no express stops like we have in NYC on the 2 and the 3.

My mind works like that sometimes. There’s no express and the work has to get done at it’s own pace. Music often helps, but one thing I noticed is that I get it done faster and better if I’m not listening to something that’s “jamming” as they say.

I remember reading an interview by one of the editors of F.E.D.S or Don Diva magazine, one of those true-hood crime rags, and he mentioned working out of his car. That wasn’t so interesting, but what did make me catch notice was him saying how listening to hip-hop music was a deterrent to his concentration. I agreed. It’s always been hard for me to study or get work done listening to Wu-Tang. I’ve always been way more focused cranking up the Mozart or on occasion Nancy (not Frank) Sinatra.

Recently, I’ve been big on the house mixes. Given my soundtrack listening proclivities of late, I’ve been digging some old Thomas Bangalter mixes (yes, the Daft Punk dude). They’re a little darker at times, sometimes a little less happy.



Miami Heat

It was a  hot August in N.Y.C. Like 90 degrees, with an extra 5 degrees of thick humidity slathered on top. I’m trying to get my professional on and not wear shorts to class. But damn it’s hard. I’m not a stinky guy, but I sweat a lot. Multiple showers help.

I’m taking a break from the regular news cycle and hyper-local coverage that’s grinding me down at the moment. I feel like the luckiest cat, really.

Working with so many sound and picture files, and transferring them to professor laptops for class critiques has made me break out old thumb-drives I haven’t used before. On one (literally), I found notes from a piece I did for the Source magazine back in 2007.

It was a transcript from a conversation I had with Luther Campbell. The story was on cursing in hip-hop. Remember that non-controversy? At this point in my celebrity interviewing career, I was still finding myself. I wonder why I didn’t write out the entire transcript. Well, from what I remember, Uncle Luke was so erudite that I just let him monologue until I had enough. I think I also got to talk to Too Short for this piece. I hope I find that transcript somewhere, too.

For anyone who hasn’t heard of Luther Campbell or listened to a 2 Live Crew album (check the video above), let this mini- Q&A be your guide:

Luke: The way  I look at it is any time there’s a presidential election is when everybody use hiphop as a scapegoat. And the first thing that they do is they look at the whole lyrics situation, you know? They attack hiphop for lyrics and all that. It’s like this: because hiphop don’t have no bonafied leaders in it, and all the leaders is selling the soul of hiphop, you know what I’m saying, and they just selling it for profit. We needed to be attacked.

Until we get  a true bonafied leader in the hiphop business, and at that point we can then move on in the right direction. When these kinds of issues come up [cursing in lyrics] we will have somebody representing us truly, and not for the dollar.  People like Russell Simmons and all them, they don’t truly represent the artform, in my opinion. They sell the soul of the artform. And so they’ll go get those usual suspects and they’ll have these conversations with them about lyrics, and then if it’s for some kind of profit behind it…. You know, up on Oprah; to sell hiphop down the river, where we all as hiphop artists said we boycotting Oprah. They up on Oprah, cross the line, fucking boycott.

We need a leader.  It’s everybody’s fault, it ain’t these big individuals who run around here selling this shit, keeping it awake. It’s everybody involved, because the magazines put certain muthafuckas on the cover, the TV put certain motherfuckers on the cover.

These magazine’s, these TVs, they keep glorifying these niggas who’s selling the business down the river, and they put them on the cover and then they put them on the TV, and nobody knows that they full of shit.

Q: You’ve been dealing with this shit since day one, has any of this changed at all. Hiphop lyrics?

LUKE: It’s the same thing. I ain’t no different than 20 years ago, it’s the same thing. It ain’t no different than 20 years ago. Hiphop lyrics saying the same thing. I mean, when was the last election? Think about this here, you know who they was talking about in the last election? They was talking about Eminem.

If you really think about this shit, every presidential election hiphop comes under fire.

And before Eminem, it was me.
Keep going four years, now we at another fucking presidential election.  It’s always a fucking pattern.

And you know who profits? They gonna get Russell, they gonna get Benjamin Chavis, they gonna get Puffy; and they take Puffy down to the Republican convention ,and they parade him and the other niggas up around there. Nobody says this,  I’m looking at this man on TV at the Republican Convention.
Come on man, let’s be realistic, I ain’t read that shit nowhere. I had to look and  see that shit on “Hannity and Combs.”  If I ain’t sit here looking at that shit on CNN, CNBC and FOX, I don’t know what’s going on.

What do you think about the lyrics in hiphop? You started this whole shit. Yeah, I know what I started, but then I know at the same time it’s deeper than this. We ain’t nothing but pawns in the game, man they use us. They gonna crucify us, then you know what they gonna do? Cut a deal with Russell and Puffy, then they gonna go out and say..

The bottom line is this: The PDs, you know, they put the music on. That’s who put the music on. The people at the TV stations, that’s  who put the videos on.  Ask me a question, I don’t think “I’m a Freak” should be played on the radio.  Because when I made the record “Throw the Dick”, which legally can be played on the radio, I made the song “Throw the D,” because I don’t want my daughter, I don’t want nobody’s daughter, riding around in the back seat of the car singing shit they don’t know what they singing about, when it’s a bad word. I don’t want that. Really it’s the PD and the video people.

If the song got a word in it, go back into the studio and flip that shit around. That’s how you clean it up.

I ain’t here to be saying you can’t say freak. You can say freak, you can say pussy, you can say dick, you can say ho, you can say nigga, you can say all them words that you want to say. You can put them on records, but that shit not be played on the radio. Don’t put no ho the radio, don’t put bitch on there. PD don’t put that on the radio.

It’s not the artists fault, it’s not the record company’s fault, it’s not my fault, it’s the fault of the PD because he regulates what gets played on the radio.

I created the Parental Advisory sticker. That sticker is on there for a reason. I never intended, nor does any artists every intend for kids to get this music.

The artist ain’t the problem because all we doing is talking what the hell is going on in society, there’s some freaks there’s some hoes, there’s some bitches and some niggas in society. So don’t bother with us talking about changing no words.

Beat conductors Postopolis!

Sometime ago, Harvard stopped producing Simpson´s  writers and started producing DJs. Above, the byproducts of the late 90s.  To the right, the Pitchfork-approved, globetrotting soundboy intellectualDJ/Rupture. To the left, the M.I.T. professor and ethnomusicologist whose curiosity about Mexican rap gave this blog a humongous boost. Thanks for including us, Wayne (Friday at 5:30 pm, CDT), live streaming.  Party on.

For upcoming Mexico City gigs featuring this Postopolis! duo,  check here.

A dose of Brazil

Ask the governor of California what he likes best about Brazil (as seen in the video above) and he might not say the music.

Brazil is famous for so many of its natural wonders. But its music…let´s just say there´s much more to it than baile funk.

Check out this mix of Arthur Verocai productions. He´s had a resurgence in popularity, thanks to music blogs and lovers of bossa nova remixes worldwide.

Stream or download: DJ Nuts Verocai mix (via)

Winner Is . . . Flex or Nigga?

WHAT'S IN A NAME?: Jumbo screen flashed the name and mug of one of the most anticipated performances at El Evento 40 held earlier this month at Aztec Stadium in Mexico City.
WHAT'S IN A NAME?: Jumbo screen flashed the name and mug of one of the most anticipated performances at El Evento 40 held earlier this month at Aztec Stadium in Mexico City.

Felix Danilo Gómez was going by “Flex” as he collected his 8 trophies at last night’s Latin Billboard Awards (list of winners here). He beat out all the competition to take home the top Latin album and song of the year. Nevermind that everytime he accepted an award, the “N” necklace he sported swung back and forth like a reminder of his more popular nom de plume. You can check out post-show coverage from AP and Miami Herald.

One of the highlights of the awards show had to be the grouping of bachata crooners Aventura, Akon and reggaeton kings Wisin & Yandel. Take a look:


Continue reading “Winner Is . . . Flex or Nigga?”

“…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

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”