Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mag - "The Truman Show" Live

When I first heard MaG back in January, I was truly impressed with his sound. So when I got the opportunity to check him out live this week I jumped at the chance.

I caught the Bronx MC's 45 minute set at The Delancey with a six piece band and definitely glad a made the long drive south to see it. He took the crowd through previous material as well as some new joints from the upcoming project. I grabbed some video of the "The Truman Show" from 2009's 'I Ain't Goin' Back to Retail.'

I had a great time at the show and the band was on point. I've have seen many Hip-Hop artists working with live bands but I have NEVER seen one with a Ukulele. That was wild to see. Sidebar: I had a damn good hard cider to sip on while I vibed to the music too. Second one I've had in about 4 days time that was on point.


After grabbing some quick photos and video I got to really soak in the music and I'm really digging MaG's craft. He delivers "everyman" topics with great style. I'm looking forward to hearing what he gives us on the new project.

Watch MaG get busy and download 'I Ain't Goin' Back to Retail' and other works at the link below.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Villa - 'Pack Light, Travel Far'

'Pack Light, Travel Far' is a brilliant mantra. I've always aimed to live my life this way even though I didn't know what to call it. It's so easy for people to get lost in the shuffle of living in America. We often plant our feet firm and cross our arms and refuse to open ourselves up to greater possibilities due to fear of the unknown. Villa's newest album explores those possibilities but how does it stack up to the previous 'Inertia' LP?

If I had to describe it in a word, it would just be ... different. Villa obviously found a comfortable creative space with producer Brandon Rossi. 'Pack Light, Travel Far' is entirely produced by the long time collaborator and the pairing works perfectly. They've both found their "it" thing and sharpened that skill into a complete theme. The project is dope! No two ways about that. I love Villa's work and this project is no exception.

For all that is right with this album though, there was still something missing for me: variety. Where 'Inertia' gave me different landscapes this project fell short of that. Villa and Rossi's "it" thing is so sharp and precise that it's almost sterile and that's not a good thing. The content is there. The craftsmanship is there. It's just too much of the same. I'd equate it to visiting Giza, Egypt. After the first couple of pyramids, you'll be kind of over it. That doesn't take away from their beauty or the effort given to craft them but there isn't much else to see after the first couple. They were all built the same. Most of 'Pack Light, Travel Far' is pyramids. Great structures on their own but less impressive standing next to each other.

The Sphinx among them is "Polos With No Logos." This was the track that gave me the most excited energy. Brandon Rossi leaves the boards to drop his own brand of delivery on it and it is the most standout moment for me.

Check the free download below, complete with album art and a 12 page booklet in .pdf format. Enjoy!

Kiah Victoria - "Thinkin Bout You" Music Video (Cover)

image via artist's website

The last two weeks have been overloaded with talk of Frank Ocean. Between his "announcement" and the release of 'Channel Orange' there was more than enough ammo for fanboys/girls and haters alike. During that span, and given the amount of music I search for and listen to daily, I've heard TONS of covers of the ubiquitous "Thinkin Bout You." Let alone that this song released almost a year ago.

Many of the covers are very good. None of them were as good as this. Not Yuna. Not Karina Pasian. Not Braelyn. Not Tori Kelly. Not n'an nudda soul. NONE. Again, many are really good and most of them are over 500k views on YouTube. What Kiah Victoria has done is on another level, however. She has taken ownership of this song. Move over Frank Ocean. You wrote a great song for Kiah.

This is what inspires me to do what I do. I aspire daily to have this level of mastery here on this blog.

 The entire production is other worldly. The restructuring, composition, harmonies, timing ... all impeccable. I'm entirely entranced by this version and instead of heading to bed for the night, I'm looping this song and dreaming of another time and place. It's 1:30 am at the time of this writing and I should be in REM sleep already!

Kiah Victoria's ability to strip this song down and build it up again into this stunning arrangement is nothing short of amazing. She did something very different while maintaining the quiet, melody and simplicity of the original song. Sink your teeth into this and fall in love with Kiah. I know I did....

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival 2012

"Busta Rhymes up in the place. True indeed."

The Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival was thrown into overdrive last year. The show was already a large success but when headliner Q-Tip brought Kanye West to the stage, it was immediately thrown into a new level of popularity. For 2012, the venue was moved to the more open and BEAUTIFUL Pier 3 and the masses came out for a hot day of music, dance, art and food.

If you happened to catch last years Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival main day, then you also witnessed Busta Rhymes' surprise performance during Q-Tip's set. You will also know that while Busta was as dope as ever, he was not in the best shape. He was winded and not as energetic as we all know he can be. He performed his verse from "Look At Me Now" and couldn't keep up with himself. This year as headliner himself, Busta showed why none of these new acts can hold a candle to him.

Busta was in incredible shape this time, well rehearsed and ON FIRE! He calmly walked out to front and center stage and only asked one question: "DON'T THIS $#!T MAKE MY PEOPLE WANNA....!?" Mayhem ensued and the mood was set. The show was supercharged energy from start to the event planners and NYPD shutting his mic off.

He went through hit, after hit, after hit in snippets and the crowd was crammed on top of each other trying to be as close as possible to the energy on stage. It was amazing to watch! If I wasn't so busy trying to capture photos and video for y'all, I would have cut a damn fool out there. If Busta's energy alone was not enough, he brought special guests, Smif N Wessun, Buckshot, J-Doe, Reek Da Villain, Phife Dawg, Q-Tip, the legendary Slick Rick (which was epic) and believe it or not....

After almost 19 years of doing his own thing.... Leaders of the New School!

While my video work sucks in unbelievable ways, I captured the moment for those of you who did not or could not make it. Brooklyn Bodega and the BK Hip-Hop Festival facilitated one of the greatest moments in Hip-Hop history! I'm so thankful that I was there to witness it first hand.

Check the video below (start with your volume low) and a few select photos from the day. Can't wait to see how this all plays out next year!

Acrylic Painting of Biggie on Canvas 

Artist @DanielleBKNYC live painting Jay-Z 

General Steele (l.) and friends

Busta Rhymes and Spliff Star interview with XXL. 


Leaders of the New School. Charlie Brown (lc.), Dinco D (r.) 

BONUS: The next generation.

Koontown Killing Kaper OST

This blog post is going to assume that you saw the film 'Bamboozled' by Spike Lee. I'm going to operate on that assumption for the entirety of this post so as not to derail the main train of thought. If you haven't seen the film .... shame on you.

DC author Bill Campbell wrote a book called 'Koontown Killing Kaper'. I haven't finished the book yet, so we'll get into that at a later time. I've actually been talking to Mr. Campbell for a couple of weeks now and we'll have a formal sit down and discussion for your viewing pleasure in the near future. For now, we're going to dig into the 'Koontown Killing Kaper' official soundtrack.

Campbell, often "regusted" with the images and sounds of Black popular culture reinforcing negative stereotypes, decided to satirize the themes. The story of Genevieve Noire is told and how she saves Koontown from vampire crack babies who are killing all the town's rappers.

Yes, you read that properly.

The soundtrack is a wonderfully irreverent collection of brief songs supporting the satire. With titles like, "Bulletproof Prius Music" and "Crackbaby Beats" it's easy to get the gist of how the music compliments the book. I was particularly impressed with the depth of the concepts. The classic soul samples allude to Blaxploitation films of yesteryear and the artists offer up verses that not only mock popular Rap artists but also challenge them lyrically. From the totally absurd "The Nigga Song" to the weighted "The Ballad of Night and Grey" the team manages to balance the serious with the ridiculous magically. 'Koontown Killing Kaper' truly is a brilliant project. 

Check the stream below and SUPPORT this very important project! I'll tell you like Bill Campbell told me; "If you ain't Koonin', you ain't tryin'!"