Archive for April, 2007

Newcleus


Newcleus

Jam On It Download
Jam On Revenge (The Wikki Wikki Song) Download
Computer Age Download
from Destination: Earth – The Definitive Newcleus Recordings (2005, Jam-On Recs.)
Stream this album

This takes me back about 12-13 years ago when my friends and I would meet up at lunch time at Hayward High’s infamous K-Hall, where the Hayward Combo Breakers crew formed and created a lasting impression that even now people still talk about. Alot of us didnt even know how to dance and we all had extreme love for hiphop and hiphop culture and over the years, We became real good at what we did. We linked up with some new freshmen/sophomore kids who just got to school. They held weekly bboy practice sessions at Weekes Park Rec. Center (by Tennyson, for my Hayward folk)… Those were fierce sessions and 2 of the dopest bboy crews back then (and to this day) also practiced there, Miscellaneous (with members from Moreau Catholic) and the world famous Rock4CE (with members from Tennyson & Mt. Eden reppin).

Rock4ce were too sick! You had your straight battle cats with all the power moves and you had your smooth classic top rocking/floor rocking bboys like my homie Paul Ruma aka PAULSKEE. I owe alot to that dude, he dropped mad knowledge on me when it comes to hiphop. Dude taught me how to properly Uprock and do combinations of floor moves. At the time, We would just jump into the circle… Paul taught me the importance of bboying to the breaks of the beat, hence the term , BBOY or Break Boy. You needed to have a style to you. To have the ability to learn the basics and come up with your unique style that would set you apart from the rest and the skills to battle, if it ever came to it. PAULSKEE went on to be one of the leading forces in today’s modern BBOY scene. If you are a true BBOY, You def know everything he has done for hiphop culture.

Times like that remind me of the classic hiphop. The funk, the soul, the breaks the old skool DJ’s looped up to create hiphop. In the 80’s, synthesizers and computers came about and these ultra funk cuts became the norm as tracks like Planet Rock blew up. What you have here is all the classic hits and the essential releases by these Hip-Hop & Electro Funk pioneers! In putting this album together, NEWCLEUS did not set out to do a “Greatest Hits” or “Best Of” collection, even though all of the real hits are represented here. What they instead set out to do was to present the songs that they believed most clearly defined Newcleus, and present them in a form that best matched the way they were intended to sound. These are the DEFINITIVE Newcleus recordings. All the BBoys/BGirls out there, rejoice! You probably already got these in your collection.

Sacred Hoop 2007

 


Sacred Hoop

Smokebomb Download
Worst Person Download
Cremona Download
from Sleep Over (2007, The Hoop LLC)
Buy at iTunes Music Store

The Hoop done it again. Eighteen tracks of pumpin’ hip-hop power, beginning with the ominous gully-cry, “18 to Nothin’,” and concluding with the spiritually apathetic, “Don’t”. This album proves that Sacred Hoop has a deep, abyss-like, bench when it comes to b-boy talent. “Cremona” becomes absolutely Utopian with the crucial off-season acquisition of Z-Man from 99th Demention, as well, anarchist DJ Marz stomps a size 12 footprint in the Sacred terra-firma with his vinyl attacks in the absence of DJ Fondouglas, marking a brand new burn-it-all-down era in Hoop-lore.

24/7 BBoy

Written by Omniscion

I was born and raised to the beat, I’m not considered the average black guy, and I’m not considered the average hip hop head, but I am both. I don’t wear ridiculous over-sized clothes, and I rarely buy new gear, I work hard, 7:30 to 4:30, Monday through Friday and I drive a beat up old car with a weak stereo (while my girl has a nice car). I watch about 30 minutes of TV a week (at the most) and I spend most of my time in my office at home listening to hip hop and playing video games and discussing hip hop in detail with my friends over ventrilo. I live and breathe hip hop. Not that radio madness, real elemental Hip Hop.

My first memories of hip hop are blurry at best, things like listening to AM radio hip hop shows at 5:30 on Thursday with my older cousin while he explained who everyone was and taught me how to pop-lock. But I recall 2 things in particular very clearly; The first is purchasing EPMD – Strictly Business with my own money (I was like 12), and the second is going to a banquet with my friend, Kwasi and his mother. while everyone is really excited this baseball guy is talking at this dinner, Kwas and I are writing terrible rhymes on the back of the dinner place-mats about the food and how bad it was.

About maybe 4 years later comes my next clear hip-hop memory. I and the same friend are in the car with our “producer” going to a hip hop show at a Sacramento north area high school. We’re performing, but we’re nowhere near the top act. The first two guys to come out are thuggish imitations of Los Angeles cookie cutter image at the time creased and colored and mumbling at everyone about drugs and fighting and death. It was like an illness. We were on the edge ourselves. It was what everyone was doing and we weren’t old or wise enough to know better, but somehow we did. the music was in us, the KRS, Big Daddy Kane, The Biz, LL, Ultramagnetics, the Audio Two… all that stuff was bouncing around in our heads all the time. Kwasi and I used to play a game where we would recite a quotable and the other would have to finish it and name the artist and album. When the time came we got on stage, I remember reciting what we had all rehearsed so many times and Kwasi (known as K-style) calls for our producer to drop the beat and he gets the crowd to clap and I felt sort of frozen “it could all fall apart” is what I was thinking and then I said it, “we’re going to do this the way it was supposed to be done!” and it was like I wasn’t saying it, like there was something else taking hold of me. I wondered if this was what people in church felt like when the Holy Spirit took hold of them in church. It was like that maybe, but I felt like I was surrounded by devils and the crowd was looking for me to lead them out of it all safely.

We free styled for a good 15 minutes. I came from the head flawlessly, K-style did a written and so did Mike (mic), the crowd was involved and everyone was propping us when we left the stage. We were the youngest group and only ones to represent real hip hop. The headliners did the same as we did, it kind of made me angry because I had seen them before and they have never bothered to try and freestyle at any previous shows. I tried to battle their group leader after the show, but he acted like he couldn’t hear me. But he could hear me, and some of the people in the cipher wanted me to get my shot at him. I never did.

The group eventually fell apart. Honestly, it was my fault I couldn’t bring myself to do gangster music after I felt the energy from a real freestyle session and that’s what was selling, so it was what our producer was pushing. K-style had always been better than everyone else in presence and lyrics, and he had also always been a bit rougher under the exterior than me as well. For him to do hardcore style stuff wasn’t much of a stretch. I was out for sure when I realized I could live my life content to battle kids on the sidewalk in Davis, downtown sac, and occasionally off of florin or in Arden mall. That’s what I was built for, I felt like that’s what it was really about. Some people want to make money from it, but in the end, all we want is to feel good. Battling cats made me feel good. I finished high school the hard way (at continuation school), did 2 years in college till I realized I would much rather have money for fun than an education. I continued through a string of horrible futureless jobs until around 24 years old, I settled down. I didn’t need to battle anymore. I just wanted to hear it, I liked to school cats, but I needed to really apply my mind now, I had to get on with my life. I didn’t want to be 30 years old sporting the hottest new styles with my kids under my arm while I try and get some chickens number during their weekend visit.

Now, just to recap my life as a b-boy for you: when I was 12 I started backpacking, I hit the streets with my walkman and I didn’t look up till I was around 22. Alternatively, at about 17 I started smoking weed and I hit the trees hard. One night, at about age 24, I was smoking with my friend Gabe and we came to the conclusion that we needed to get things done. We were surrounded by the hoodiest of hood-rats at the time and we just looked at them and realized that these weren’t the kind of women we would be happy to see our children with or around. I absolutely stopped smoking weed and never looked back. I made moves too, just to back it all up. On a side note, Gabe is still a DJ and damn good one, he spins house at several clubs all over town and works a full week if not more. He took his time and made life out of it while he was working as a salesman. I went back to technical school and got a degree in microcomputer operations. I was an artist, doing graph at some point and I was a computer nerd trying to make web pages at some other points. I liked video games and I loved music. Before I made the choice to go back to school I didn’t know what to do.

To get through school I did a bunch of office jobs till I hooked up with EarthLink and did tech support for 3 years. EarthLink tech support went Indian right after my scholastic career ended and I got my degree. At the time my degree was worthless. The tech industry had died and so did my hopes with it. I did several jobs to survive and ended up at a video game store for another 3 years where I met customers who were guys just like me who had done well. We all had one similarity. We all woke up one day and decided that we wanted to be an adult or at least successful, and none of us gave up hip hop. Not even slightly. It revitalized my soul to meet people like that and one day I was mentioning some of my issues at work to a guy and he told me straight, “you made it this far, you only got a little ways to go. It doesn’t seem like they’re going to take you any further here.” Those words hit me like a truck, and with the next big dispute at work, I quit on the spot and found myself on the street again leaving that place behind not to look back. I was imprisoned in my own self image for three years, believing I couldn’t do any better, even after I had made an effort to really get somewhere. In two weeks I got a job making double what I had made after 3 years there, and I left that job too. Currently I work in a nice office with a door, at my own desk, with my own phone, and my own distinctive job to do. I intend to stay here a long, long, time. At my desk I have two computers and I make web pages most of the day when I’m not goofing off in email or in the break room with my coworkers (most of which are my own age). But I promise you, if you ever see me working quietly and keeping my eyes locked on my screen, part of my meditation is listening to hip hop in a headphone ear-bud in my left ear. I’m 32 years old, I’m still a b-boy and a hip-hop-head and no matter what I’m doing, what I’m wearing, or who I’m working for… nothing can ever really change that.

Soundtrack to this story:
DJ Krush – Light (Can You See It) Download
from MiLight (1997, Mowax/FFRR)

Pablito’s Way

 


Motion Man

Confidence Download
Pablito’s Way Download
I Crack Tall One’s (Instrumental) Download
from Pablito’s Way (2006, Threshold)
Buy at iTunes Music Store
Stream from RealNetworks / Rhapsody

The first thing you notice when you pop in this CD is that this Motion Man guy is on some other ish-in a good way, that is. Not exactly readily recognizable outside of Cali, Motion Man has been around for more than a decade. Freestyle sessions on the influential “Wake Up Show” with Sway and King Tech (who makes a cameo bigging up MM as one of the best MCs to ever bless the show) got his name out and eventually a major label deal. When that didn’t work out he teamed up with Kutmasta Kurt in 2000 and the rest, as they say, is history. Pablito’s Way (Threshold Recording) is Paul Laster, aka Motion Man’s second solo and definitely a walk on the weirder side for those unfamiliar with Bay Area product.

With Kumasta Kurt handling all of the production, he makes sure that no two songs sound the same. The muy picante title track explodes with congas and horns lending it a Spanish feel while MM lets you know in case you hadn’t realized, that he’s doing music his way. “Crack Tall Ones” is about what it sounds like: drinking beer. Dull topic, but not when set to a sped up high-pitched vocal over nod inducing drums. It also features Bay Area rapper Mistah FAB who “Cracks bottles over heads of models” instead of drinking with them. Another standout is the frenzied “Megalo Maniac”, which boasts an Bahngra song sample, a la Truth Hurts’ “Addictive” and Motion Man’s off-kilter flow rides shotgun perfectly.

Fellow strange one Kool Keith joins MM on “Professional Experts”, where the two trade verses over an organ and what sounds like live drumming that will make you scratching your head. Other guests include Gift of Gab from Blackalicious and Bay Area legend Too Short. On the dark “Sleeping Giant”, Motion Man addresses the inevitable comparison his voice will have you make: “Artist Direct called me Black Eminem/No beef with you Marshall Mathers/Slim Shady/My awkward ass style was born early ’80s/comparing is crazy.”

Motion Man brings an animated and unique approach to rapping that proves he really does make music Pablito’s Way but that’s also what makes it sometimes hard to get. But, even if you can’t quite figure out what Motion Man is talking about, at least the beats will make you keep listening.

DJ Drez – Jahta Beat

 


DJ Drez

Time Download
InI Download
The Road Download
from Jahta Beat (2007, Say It Loud Music)
Buy at iTunes Music Store

Described as, “an exploration through hip hop and downtempo with a focus on vibrations from India to North Africa” ethnic percussion and vocal work, piano, sitar, ambient synths, flute and even some deft turntabalist work create a mesmerising spiritual LP that calms the senses and encourages clarity of thought.

With ‘Voice’ and ‘Contact’ being the best examples of this majestic sound there are also flashes of snappy raw grooves like in the funky bass and chopped vocal samples of ‘Morocco’ the ice cool vibe, dope beats and sparse spoken word segments of ‘Inner Vision’ and the loose bhangra funk of ‘Time.’ And at 15 tracks long you’ll certainly be getting your money’s worth. A small victory.

P.O.S. – Punk Rock & HipHop


P.O.S.

 

Yeah Right Download
What’s That Buzzing Download
Bleeding Hearts Club Download
from Audition (2006, Rhymesayers)

Whether falling of the stage or falling off his bike, P.O.S probably puts a little too much of himself into everything he does. His live show is machine-gun patterns, flailing, and giggles. Occasionally a bloody lip. Usually his, sometimes yours. His production is like a field recording of a drunken blacksmith. Disjointed but compelling, because yo, what is dude making?

Much has been made of P.O.S’s punk rock past; the tattoos and piercings, the skater fashion, the high school pictures of young P.O.S. sporting a frohawk. Fact is, P.O.S is not a cross-over artist. He has been rapping as long as he’s been thrashing. His punk sensibility doesn’t make him less of a rapper, it makes him more of a musician. P.O.S fuses the angst and sincerity of punk rock with the bass, wit, and lyricism of underground hip-hop. On his first album, P.O.S raps, “We went from lower-lower class to lower class to upper-lower class.” And he is living his own tongue-in-cheek rags-to-sportier-rags story.

Ipecac Neat, P.O.S’s debut full-length album, was self released to unanimous praise in 2004. Recognizing P.O.S’s raw energy and talent Rhymesayers Entertainment, the reigning princes of the underground quickly signed P.O.S and re-released Ipecac Neat. Since then P.O.S has been around the country three times performing with Atmosphere and has gained an increasingly enthusiastic fan base with every pass as he prepares for the release of his sophomore album, Audition on January 31st, 2006.

What forces conspired to create P.O.S? A chance encounter one day at a cousin’s house, seven year old Stefon discovered a bass guitar. Allowed to take it home, he banged the hell out of this old hobby bass for two years without realizing he needed an amp. The bass guitar led to stef unearthing the music of punk rock. It was easy to learn and had the right aggressive energy. He now had an outlet, music. Not just any music but punk rock. He knew this was for him but didn’t always feel the same open arms from the scene as a black punk.

Body surfing at a festival, a thirteen-and-a-half-year-old Stefon kicked a kid named Kai in the face. Two weeks later while moshing at a friend’s house party, he kicked Kai in the face again. They’ve been friends ever since. The two started the punk band Om and recorded a couple tapes with album titles like, Themes for Young Lovers. P.O.S also drummed for Cadillac Blindside before founding Building Better Bombs, who still tours today.

Punk Rock was P.O.S’s first love, but after being introduced to rap by Crescent Moon (Oddjobs/Kill the Vultures), BAMF (Mike Mictlan), Company Flow’s Funcrusher album and Rhymesayers Headshots cassettes he began rapping as a hobby. Back in 1996, at fifteen years old, P.O.S joined his first rap experiment, Room 237. Based on the hotel room from The Shining, this initial experiment generated nothing more than piles of cassette recordings but Hip Hop had taken hold of him. In 2001 P.O.S along with rapper Syst, and DJ Basis founded the group Cenospecies. The crew was short-lived, releasing only one album: Indefinition. In 2002’s City Pages Best of The Twin Cites issue, Cenospecies received “Best Band To Break Up In The Past 12 Months”. The kid even falls apart pretty.

Enter Doomtree. Remember the perpetually black-eyed Kai? Well along with Kai, P.O.S regrouped and formed a production duo known as Doomtree. Over the next couple of years, the duo grew into a formidable crew of rappers, producers and dj’s, including: Mike Mictlan, Sims, Dessa, Cecil Otter, Marshall Larada, Bobby Gorgeous, Emily Bloodmobile, Lazerbeak, Paper Tiger, Turbo Nemesis, and Tom Servo. Heading up this collective P.O.S delivered their first full-length album, Ipecac Neat. Boasting innovative production, and an emcee that managed to be clever and earnest at the same time Ipecac received much critical acclaim:

Album of the Year –The Star Tribune

“This is the type of record Hip Hop fans should be pleading for.”
–Minnesota Daily

4 Minnesota Music Award Nominations

4 Critics’ Choice Award Nominations

The letters of the P.O.S acronym remain the same today, but the meaning constantly changes. Promise of Skill. Product of Society. Piece of Shit. Pissed Off Stef. Everyday is different and each definition has a purpose. P.O.S, a rapper/producer that also fronts a punk band, an artist influenced by Minor Threat as much as Dr. Dre, a musician that is self-taught to play guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and can still ride a skateboard. From seventies funk to eighties hardcore to nineties rap, P.O.S has the unique ability to incorporate all his influences into a cohesive style without being calculated or contrived.

Audition, the sophomore album from P.O.S is his first real step, what he sees as his audition to the world. A first step after years of preparation, to say more with less and to present smarter songs while blending redefined styles. The songs are shorter, punker, louder and overall more abrasive while remaining grounded in Hip Hop. Audition features a unique blend of guest appearances; Slug of Atmosphere, Craig Finn of The Hold Steady, Greg Attonito of Bouncing Souls, Maggie of Digitata and Doomtree’s Mictlan. The majority of the album is self produced by P.O.S with additional production by Emily Bloodmobile and Lazerbeak.

Life prepares you with the experiences necessary to make great songs. Music provides the outlet. Performing cultivates the songs. Time gives you the patience to master your craft. It’s been a long time since a young Stefon picked up a bass guitar and P.O.S is definitely on his way to lower-middle class.

Busdriver – Kill Your Employer

 


Busdriver

Kill Your Employer Download
Kill Your Employer (Daedelus Remix) Download
from Kill Your Employer 12″ (2006, Anti Records)

On the tenuous fringes of what can be deemed ‘rap’ there lies the reviled LA maverick, Busdriver. Who for years has been wowing unsuspecting audiences with his patented visceral onslaught of rants, rhyming and displaced musical sensibility. Whether sitting-in with unlikely cohorts such as; Islands, Daedelus, Z-Trip, TTC, Boom-Bip, 2mex etc., or plowing throw his enthralling solo sets, there is a distinct brand of showmanship employed and at least a handful of concert-goers who are maladjusted enough to submit to the shear unadulterated thrill ensued. BD has no desires of cooling his jets either. At this very moment he is most likely booking shows, selling shirts or writing raps for someone else’s album. He’s rapidly becoming a fixture in the US market and a favorite among unlikely groupings of young people. He puts it simply by saying, “This is the grassroots, off-kilter, rap intelligentsia… undertow that your friends talk about”. Say no more.