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‘It tells you a story, and makes you want to to dance!’: Fantastic 1981 hip-hop report
12.17.2014
03:41 pm

Topics:
Hip-hop

Tags:
rap
1980s
hip-hop


How wholesome do The Sugarhill Gang look right here? It’s kind of surprising that parents weren’t rushing out to buy their kids some records by these nice boys.
 
I have to say—I was pleasantly surprised by this 1981 20/20 feature on rap music. Not only is it overwhelmingly positive, touting the artistic merits of black youth culture, it really does a decent job describing the phenomenon to people new to the concept. There’s a little bit of history on spoken word black music and the viewer gets a mini-tour of Harlem and the South Bronx. Plus you hear some samples and comments from legends like Kurtis Blow and (of course) Debbie Harry.
 

 
The only real gaff that I suspect is the reference to the “big boxes”—I have a feeling they mean to say “boom boxes” but something got lost in translation. That part of the segment actually includes a woman criticizing the aversion to boom boxes as a racist bias. (Edgy!) “Big boxes” aside, I say well done Steve Fox! You accurately predicted the longevity of a now institutionalized art form, and you have a great early 80s mustache!
 

 

 
And Part 2 is here!
 
Via 1981

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Highlights from the world’s first Juggalo art exhibition
12.08.2014
07:17 am

Topics:
Art
Hip-hop
Music

Tags:
Juggalos
Insane Clown Posse


AWJA
 
British artist Lucy Owen put herself through a crash course on America’s most amusingly violent subculture, the magnet-bedazzled Juggalo “family” that regularly congregates around events run by Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope, better known as Insane Clown Posse. The annual convention of the band’s facepainted fans has become a riotous annual tradition in the Midwest known as the Gathering of the Juggalos, complete with bands, standup comedy, Faygo, wrestling, helicopter rides, crystal meth, and, at a guess, third-degree burns? 

Owen became intrigued by an online forum encounter with a self-identified Juggalo who claimed to be ridiculed and mocked constantly—something I just did myself. Quoth Owen:

“The negative reaction from the other people on the forum was so intense, I was wondering if he’d just admitted to being a child molester or a mass murderer. ... So I started to research it. What I found was a subculture so profoundly bizarre—at times shocking, and other times plain funny—that I felt compelled to start exploring it through my work.”

Owen immersed herself in ICP’s music and headed for Detroit, the band’s home base, and not only attended the Gathering but also followed the band on tour for dates in the Midwest. The fruits of her research can be seen in the 27 paintings of Where the Juggalo Roam, a show that opened last Friday at Start Gallery in Detroit; it runs until December 20.

I have to say, these paintings are quite deftly turned out, a darn sight better than (no offense) whatever image the phrase “Juggalo paintings” was likely to call up.
 

Psychopathic (detail)
 

America’s Tortured Brow
 

Abomination
 

Fuck Gainsborough
 

Poster Boy
 

Paperman
 

Murder Is to Crow as Family Is to Juggalo
 

New Gotham
 
More Juggalo masterpieces after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Tom Waits meets Aesop Rock is actually a good idea!


 
It’s been over ten years now since Danger Mouse’s notorious Grey Album—a brilliant full length CD that mashed up a capella tracks from Jay Z’s Black Album with remixes of Beatles songs from the White Album—became a cause celebre due to EMI’s attempt to suppress it over the unauthorized use of the Beatles’ material. That move Streisanded all over the place, turning the extremely limited underground release into one of the most-downloaded albums of 2004, one that went on to rank #1 in Entertainment Weekly‘s year end best-of list, and to show up in the Village Voice‘s Pazz and Jop list. It’s so typical—left alone, the album would have remained an insidery bit of DJ culture esoterica, but the effort to bury it instead brought the mashup phenomenon in remix culture to the mainstream.
 

 
Since then, many DJs have endeavored high-concept mashup albums, but most have fallen short of Danger Mouse. Hippocamp Collective and DJ BC put out at least three Beatles mashup albums between them, with varying levels of inspiration. A duo called The Silence Xperiment did an album called Q Unit, combining 50 Cent’s rapping with Queen remixes, which was pretty good, though the world had already known since Vanilla Ice that Queen’s grooves are sufficiently potent on their own that they need a special kind of suckage on top to make a lousy song out of them. There’ve even been mashup tributes to unlikely subjects like AC/DC, Iron Maiden, and the practically ancient Australian entertainer/sex criminal Rolf Harris. (Actually, The Rolf Harris Mashup CD is beyond bonkers, and kinda totally rules.)

And still, ten years after Grey, contenders continue to appear. Someone using the name Aesop Waits released Tom Shall Pass this year, with remixed Tom Waits music beds underpinning vocal tracks from rapper Aesop Rock’s acclaimed 2007 album None Shall Pass, and I’ll be damned if it ain’t half bad at all. Since Waits’ old-timey rhythms and timbres don’t easily lend themselves to hip-hop treatment, the DJ here had to go to some effort to make this combination work, and to my reckoning, he (she?) did a good bit better than 50/50—the demented circus-falling-down-a-flight-of-stairs stylings of Waits’ music complements Aesop’s complex and impressionistic lyrics better than I’d have guessed. The best include “Reeperlawn,” “Undercomb Kids,” “Singapore Harbor is Yours,” “Knife Dance for the Whole Family,” and “Dark Heart of Istanbul.” (Each title is itself a mashup of the titles of the combined songs, if you didn’t catch that.) The tracks that fail are the ones that lean too heavily on extraneous drum loops, basically stomping all over the grooves inherent in the Waits samples, prompting wonder at what the point of even using them was in the first place.
 

 
Stream the entire “collaboration” after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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‘My Rules’: Glen E. Friedman book documents hardcore punk, hip hop, skaters and YOU NEED IT
09.18.2014
07:18 am

Topics:
Art
Books
Hip-hop
Music
Pop Culture
Punk

Tags:
Glen E. Friedman


 
I don’t normally write posts and say “you must own this!” but… you’ve gotta get this! Glen E. Friedman’s new My Rules (Rizzoli) is simply stunning. A real masterpiece! I was happier than a pig in shit when I got it in the mail a few weeks ago. It was a very pleasant—and unexpected—surprise indeed. I couldn’t wait to unwrap it out of its packaging and tear through it! The book is a glorious MONSTER, with huge color photographs and amazing B&W images. Hugeness is a major factor in its favor, and the hardcover is sort of “quilted” and textured in a manner unlike any book I’ve ever owned. As an object/publication, it’s… a simply stunning presentation of a photographer’s life’s work, one of the best you’ll ever see. An event! Who is there… what ONE photographer was around as many important scenes as Friedman? Hip hop, hardcore, skaters, he was there, he was in the midst of it and with this book you really get a sense of that. It’s not just a bunch of amazing photographs, the selection becomes a sort of autobiography of the person who documented all of these moments: He was there.


Darren “Buffy” Robinson - Fat Boys - 1985 - Venice Beach, ©Glen E. Friedman
 
Glen’s work splendidly captures historic moments in time. Moments of 70s skate culture, punk, post punk, hardcore, 80s hip hop and early-90s indie rock. Underground cultures that will never happen again (or at least not as cool as they were then!). I have to admit though, I got really nostalgic and almost a bit weepy while looking at these photographs. They reminded me of being young again. My youth. Something I ain’t ever going to get back. They drummed up memories of me hanging out with my childhood friends (some sadly deceased now) just kicking it in my parents’ basement playing records or driving around in my first boyfriend’s pick-up truck blasting Minor Threat. Fun times. Good times.

I love this book for so many reasons.


The Make-Up - 1995 - New York City, ©Glen E. Friedman
 

Think of any iconic image of Run DMC, Black Flag, Minor Threat, Public Enemy, and Beastie Boys, or the gravity defying revolutionary skateboarding legends Tony Alva, Jay Adams, or Stacy Peralta. It is almost certain that Glen E. Friedman was the man behind the camera. Since the mid-1970s as a young teenager, Friedman has been chronicling quintessential moments of underground and counterculture movements.

Glen E. Friedman’s My Rules serves as a history book for the three powerhouse countercultures—skateboarding, punk, and hip-hop. From the earliest days Friedman was present to capture the pivotal and defining moments in music and street movements that were largely unknown or ignored. The energy and rebellion comes through in these famous and some never-before-seen iconic images.


Moses Padilla - 1978 - West LA, ©Glen E. Friedman

As a side note: It was extremely difficult for me to pick the images for this post. I mean, they’re all so damned wonderful! ALL of them! Here are a few choice selections from My Rules below:


Jello Biafra - 1981 - Hollywood, ©Glen E. Friedman
 

Flavor Flav and Chuck D. - 1987, ©Glen E. Friedman
 

Junk Yard Band - 1986 - Washington D.C., ©Glen E. Friedman

More after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Ice-T covers Suicidal Tendencies
06.17.2014
07:41 am

Topics:
Amusing
Hip-hop
Music
Punk

Tags:
Suicidal Tendencies
Ice-T


 
This could be viewed as a ballcap-tip between African-American and Hispanic exponents of ‘80s SoCal gang culture. Or I could be viewed as a pasty Jewboy from the Ohio ‘burbs who should seriously just shut his matzah-hole about ‘80s SoCal gang culture. But whatever, this rules!

Ice-T’s notorious rap-rock crossover band (be cool, just because the genre they spawned sucked balls doesn’t mean they did, but if that’s how you wanna play, go ahead and blame Eno for new age) Body Count released their new album Manslaughter last week, and it features a cover/update of “Institutionalized,” the classic and definitive 1983 Suicidal Tendencies song that pushed hardcore perilously close to the American mainstream. But instead of ST singer Mike Muir’s litany of parents-don’t-understand grievances, Ice-T airs 21st Century complaints about Xbox, Oprah Winfrey, ISP customer service, nosy co-workers… it’s pretty nuts.
 

 
For comparison’s sake, here’s the original, from Suicidal Tendencies’ debut LP.
 

 
And because it almost feels obligatory, here’s Ice-T ranting about somewhat more serious matters on “Cop Killer,” the song that made Body Count so notorious to begin with.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Kiss My Baadasssss: Ice-T’s guide to Blaxploitation

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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The whitest rap battle in history—on ‘Jeopardy’
05.20.2014
07:33 am

Topics:
Amusing
Hip-hop
Race
Television

Tags:
Jeopardy
Alex Trebek


 
Seeing Jeopardy host Alex Trebek and perpetual winner Ken Jennings recite classic hip-hop lyrics is one of the most amusingly dad-like things you will see all week.

Hearing such acutely caucasian people reciting lines from “Insane in the Brain,” “Mo Money Mo Problems,” and “The Humpty Dance” almost has the same effect as those classic Steve Allen bits where he recites pop song lyrics as poetry—and oh God, how I tried to find you a video of Allen’s jaw-droppingly hilarious reading of Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff”—but it’s not being played for laughs.
 

 
Kidding around about whitey’s white whiteness aside, Trebek actually does an uncommonly dignified job at this, but then again, it’s not his first rodeo. I especially enjoy the moment at the end where everyone blows it on the one white artist in the bunch, and Trebek unleashes his inner Canadian on that song title’s pronunciation. Awesome.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Hip-hop and you don’t stop: ‘The Big Break Dance Contest,’ 1983
05.08.2014
01:25 pm

Topics:
Hip-hop

Tags:
breakdance


 
Made at a time when you saw breakdancers pulling windmills and body popping on their cardboard everywhere you turned in NYC, The Big Break Dance Contest is a wonderful time capsule of the early days of hip-hop. Produced locally by WABC, it’s literally a breakdance contest from 1983 with the top prizes being $2500, an appearance on New York Hot Tracks and a role in the movie Beat Street. Hosted by actress Leslie Uggams and the host of NYHT Carlos De Jesus, the B-Boy crews seen here include the Magnificent Force, Uptown Express, the Fantastic Duo, the Flash Dancers, Larry Watson and Jason Twigg, the Heartbreakers and the Dynamic Breakers.

After a short introductory documentary on early hip-hop culture with Afrika Bambaataa and other members of the Zulu Nation, the contest begins. There’s a even a goofy Burger King commercial with a hip-hop theme that was recorded during the airing that they purposefully left in.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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N.W.A. alumnus Ice Cube waxes philosophical on modern architecture
04.01.2014
06:56 am

Topics:
Art
Design
Hip-hop

Tags:
architecture
Ice Cube
Eames


Ice Cube reenacting this famous photo of Charles Eames
 
A few days ago, a friend and I were discussing the bourgeois assumption that the “lower classes” do not enjoy “high art.” Part and parcel to this snobbery, there’s the idea that the wealthy are automatically “cultured,” a myth easily dispelled by a quick glance at the nouveau riche so often paraded on reality TV. Anyone can be tacky, but rich people have the means to really take tacky to its highest heights—and I say this as a long-standing fan of “tacky!”

Still, it’s always nice to learn that a former hardscrabble member of the hoi polloi has staked their claim to the artistic traditions of the monied, so I was pleased as punch to learn that Ice Cube has a penchant for modern architecture, specifically for modernist husband and wife duo, Charles and Ray Eames. Apparently Ice left El Lay to study architectural drafting at the Phoenix Institute of Technology before his career with N.W.A took off. The video below is a promotion for “Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980,” an exhibit that ran from 2011 to 2012 at the Getty Institute. As Ice opines the beauty and dynamism of Los Angeles, the parallels between the prefab design of the Eames and rap are made obvious, when he declares, “They was doing mash-ups before mash-ups even existed.”

Nowadays the name “Ice Cube” can illicit a little bit of disdain in a certain crowd—his acting in family-friendly movies apparently cost him some kind of mythical “credibility.” But from the looks of the man in this video, he’s clearly still just a guy who likes what he likes, and he doesn’t really give a fuck what anyone else thinks.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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‘Inside Out’: Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s wildly entertaining life on parole


 
It’s safe to say that for virtually every moment from the time that Wu-Tang Clan became prominent around 1993 until his sad death in 2004, Ol’ Dirty Bastard—“Russell Jones” to the law enforcement community—was in some kind of legal trouble. He was convicted of second degree assault in 1993 and was arrested for failure to pay child support in 1997. A year later, he pleaded guilty to attempted assault on his wife and was also arrested for shoplifting. It goes on from there. In 2000 he was assigned to a court-mandated drug treatment facility but escaped—as a fugitive he met up with RZA and spent some time in the studio. In Philadelphia he was eventually captured. (DM previously reported on his endlessly interesting FBI file, released in 2012.)

After spending the next two and a half years in prison in New York, he was released on parole on May 1, 2003. Sensing an opportunity, ODB’s manager, Jarred Weisfeld, arranged for VH1 to have a crew follow ODB around for his release and the first few weeks out of jail. The end result was “Inside Out,” which can be viewed below. Actually, it’s a little unclear what this video is—IMDb.com lists the running time as 60 minutes over two episodes. This video isn’t that long, however. What I think this is is episode 1 of “Inside Out”—not sure there was an episode 2—followed by a brief remembrance section that likely doesn’t have anything to do with VH1. In any case, it’s wildly entertaining.
 
Ol' Dirty Bastard
 
The life of a mentally troubled rap star is as crazy as anything you’re likely to find. A stretch limo filled with family, friends, and business associates (of course these lines overlap) is there to meet him upon his release. He is immediately presented with a gift of 500 condoms. As the father of 13 children by multiple women, ODB sniffs out the subtext: “They don’t want me makin’ no more babies!” At his press conference the same day as his release, who shows up to take part? Of course, Mariah Carey.

Eventually ODB’s interest in the ladies alienates his sort-of ladyfriend Raquel, who promptly flees back to LA. Within days he’s photographing a silicone-enhanced Playboy model and hitting on women in the street. Meanwhile his new relationship with Roc-A-Fella records is proceeding with the usual complications. We see a few cordial encounters with RZA as well.

The special presents a glimpse of actual parole life that’s not often available on TV. We see ODB successfully pass a drug test and we’re told that, as messy as his life was, he was able to adhere to the 9pm curfew imposed on him. When he signs the paperwork before his release, he’s told that he’s agreeing that parole officers can visit his home more or less anytime, and sure enough, we get to see such a visit. All goes well, except for ODB’s lingering paranoia after the fact.

ODB never really got the psychological help he needed, but nobody could say that he lived an unfulfilled life. “Inside Out” is excellent evidence of both parts of that equation.
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Deaf people: Don’t masturbate. Also, 50 Cent


 
Some smartass/genius has procured a sign-language video, evidently produced by Jehovah’s Witnesses, meant to instruct the deaf on why it’s important to avoid the evils of masturbation, and set it to the music of rapper/actor 50 Cent (that’s pronounced “FIDDY Cent,” in case you didn’t know, he said, whitely), of Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ fame.

I really wish there was something… anything I could add to this, but the sign language gestures for tossing one off turn out to be pretty much what you’d expect.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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