‘Nobody Canna Cross It’: Forget Auto-tune, Jamaica’s DJ Powa riddim-izes the news

If you’re looking for some news-video manipulation that’s funkier than the the Gregory Brothers’ oft-annoying high-register hip-pop treatments, you’re in luck. Out of Kingston, Jamaica’s University of Technology comes marketing student Kevin-Sean Hamilton, who as DJ Powa created the tune and video for “Nobody Canna Cross It (Di Bus Can Swim)”, the most viral video to come out of that country.

Cut from a TVJ report on flooding from the Yallahs River in eastern Jamaica’s St. Thomas parish, “Nobody Canna Cross It” spotlights the declarations of river worker Clifton Brown, who Powa’s made into a folk hero with a sick backing track and some deft video editing. It’s a perfect example of the unique way that Jamaicans find humor in bad news—or as they say in patois, “tek serious mek laugh.”

Of course, both Brown and the song  have their own Facebook pages, and thankfully, Kingston-based videographer Simon “Sno” Thompson (a.k.a. Yosef Imagination) is looking to set up a fundraiser to help build that bridge for the people of St. Thomas.

After the jump: DJ Powa’s take on last year’s deadly unrest in Tivoli Gardens in West Kingston…

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Discussion
Richard Morris’ ‘Tyler: The Creator, or an Old Skool Sexist?’

Amid the ongoing internet brouhaha surrounding Tyler The Creator’s lyrical content, this article from the website Soundblab is the best I have read on the subject so far, and pretty accurately nails the problems I have with Tyler’s approach to writing about sex and abuse. Yeah, I get that he’s still a kid so hasn’t had a great deal of real life experience in these areas, but like so many of the other excuses brought up in this debate, that’s still pretty weak. Richard Morris writes:

Now, there are three arguments being put forward to explain, excuse and otherwise justify Tyler’s lyrical concerns. These arguments are the same ones which get put forward time and time again when hip hop artists produce dubious lyrics: he’s just reflecting his background; he just repeating what’s everywhere in hip hop culture; he’s playing with a persona. A moment’s reflection is all you need to work out that that last excuse can’t exist with the first two. Either Tyler is honestly reflecting where he comes from and the culture he’s surrounded by, or he’s concocted a character as satire or narrative aid. It can’t be both.


However, if you still want to buy into any or all of those arguments listed above, fine, but I have a question for you: where are all the songs by female artists about attacking and raping men? If that seems a ridiculous thing to ponder, ask yourself why. Why does it make sense for a man to rap about raping a woman but not the other way round? The answer, when you pick it apart, is probably that there would be no audience for those kind of songs. Similarly, there’s not much call for songs where gay artists have a go at straight people. No one would buy into that kind of stupid prejudice. Gay activists would condemn it as counter-productive.

Tyler, the Creator has identified an audience and, with the media’s help, he’s milking that for all it’s worth. That audience is primarily made up of white young men. A couple of weeks ago, Hamish MacBain took Tyler to task in the pages of NME, pointing out that Odd Future had bypassed the traditional hip hop audience, instead crossing over quickly to the kind of alternative music fans who read Pitchfork, the Guardian and, hey, Soundblab. It’s exactly these alternative, typically liberal-leaning fans who repeatedly let hip hop artists off the hook when it comes to misogynistic and homophobic lyrics.

For me the problem is not so much that these excuses are not applicable - it’s that twenty years after the release of Death Certificate we’re still having the exact same debate. We’ve not moved on. It’s disheartening to see that popular hip-hop has devolved into a negatized musical format whose primary function is to piss off suburban parents, and where shock tactics outweigh genuine insight. Much of the blame for this can be heaped on the feet of the media, but surely the music is just as much at fault too? Because to me Tyler’s lyrics do not feel in any way transgressive. Really, they don’t, they’re the same old thing I have heard countless times before. If you do think they are transgressive, then I would say you are part of a social group that has thankfully never been subject to the threat of rape or abuse. Tyler’s lyrics simply re-enforce the status quo, and as such they’re just boring.

Read all of Richard Morris’ excellent article here. Soundblab also has another article defending Tyler’s lyrical content, by James Bray, which you can read here.


Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
Graffiti Rock: Hip-hop storms America’s living rooms in 1984

Graffiti Rock‘s Michael Holman and DJ Jimmy Jazz
Before Yo! MTV Raps and Rap City hit the markets in the late ‘80s, New York culture maven Michael Holman first made the move to put hip-hop culture on TV with the show Graffiti Rock.

In 1984, Holman—who played music with Jean-Michel Basquiat and Vincent Gallo in the legendarily obscure band Grey—got a bunch of banker friends to put together $150,000 to shoot the pilot for the series at Madison Ave. and 106th St. It screened on WPIX channel 11 in June 1984.

Holman turned the show into a seminar on the culture. Alongside future superstars Run D.M.C., Kool Moe Dee and Shannon—and cameos by “Prince Vince” Gallo and Debi Mazar—he featured his own crew the New York City Breakers, pieces by graf artist Brim, and hilarious slang translations. For the time, the show is pretty slick and ready for prime-time. Holman picks up the tragic story from there

So the show airs and actually does much better than people thought! We got great ratings and aired in 88 syndicated markets, nationwide. But when we went to Las Vegas to sell the show at NAPTE (National Association of Producers of Television Entertainment) we hit a wall. First, the station managers (the people responsible for purchasing new shows in their markets) didn’t understand why “Graffiti Rock,” and hip hop was different to what Soul Train was offering. Secondly, certain stations wouldn’t take the chance to buy “Graffiti Rock,” unless other, larger markets did first. Chicago was waiting on L.A. to bite, and L.A. was waiting on New York. But the major New York syndicated stations at the time, were controlled by unsavory characters, and they wanted money under the table to put the show on the air! My main investors refused to deal with these forces (I of course would have done whatever I had to to get it on the air, and am still pissed they didn’t play along!)...

Graffiti Rock proved a legendary snapshot into what hip-hop TV was about to be. What a shot in the arm it would have been for the culture. Gnarls Barkley would later lovingly spoof Holman and the show for the video for their 2008 hit “Run” and before that, the Beastie Boys sampled Holman’s excellent little seminar on scratching in pt. 2 on their tune “Alright Hear This.”

I’ll leave part 3 of the YouTube of Graffiti Rock off this post in an appeal for you to reward a culture hero like Holman by buying the DVD.

After the jump: more Graffiti Rock

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Discussion
‘Monie in the Middle’: True Hip Hop Stories

“Old skool” rap icon Monie Love—where she at?—tells the wonderful tale behind the lyrics to her signature hit, 1990’s “Monie in the Middle,” in an episode of True Hip Hop Stories. I still play this song all the time. It’s unbeatable!

After the jump, watch the original video for “Monie in the Middle.”

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Video of Dr. Dre as a child on game show ‘Child’s Play’
02:12 pm


Dr. Dre
game shows
Child's Play

I wonder how old Dr. Dre is in this clip? Four? Nonetheless, he’s as cute as a button and charming on the late-70s game show Child’s Play

UPDATE: There’s a lot of speculation on the Interwebs that the little boy is not Dr. Dre.

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
Terry Riley and Big Boi spotted eating together at Burger King
01:53 pm


Terry Riley
Big Boi

I’d truly like to hear a collaboration by these two. Why not ?
Previously on DM : Metzger on Terry Riley
Thanks Ned Raggett via Brassica


Posted by Brad Laner | Discussion
‘She’s Mad’ - the worst song of all time?
03:50 am



I’m freaking out over how insanely BAD this is (not bad meaning good but bad meaning terrible). Seriously folks, I need help, I mean is this FOR REAL?! First up I can’t stop giggling, but secondly it raises a lot of questions. “Why?!” being one, closely followed by “Maybe she’s mad because he wrote this sucky song about her?” And who the hell is “Mayberry”?

Well, at least one thing is for sure - this gives lie to the myth that “making music is easy with Autotune.” Kind of. I’ve messed around with Autotune before (if you own a Mac you have a cheap version as part of Garageband) and know that these guys have to be doing something really wrong for it to sound this bad. In all fairness though, this was uploaded over two years ago. Maybe PtheG has improved since then?
PtheG - “She’s Mad”

Oh the humanity.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
The great lost Vin Diesel / Arthur Russell collaboration

No, this is not a joke. An old audio clip has been unearthed of a teenage Mark Sinclair (aka Vin Diesel) rapping over a beat by legendary NY avant-dance composer Arthur Russell under the name Second Edition. This is bizarre not so much for the music, but for the idea itself. Diesel, the lug head, $20 million action star and Russell, the stoned, gay, downtown disco bohemian trying their hardest to make a primitive rap tune work. It seems like a match made in an alternate universe, but no, it definitely comes from this dimension. It has been discovered on tapes owned by renowned guitarist Gary Lucas, who has this to say on his Soundcloud page:

Fragments of an aborted recording session at Battery Sound NYC in 1986 which brought together fledgling rapper Mark Sinclair—today better known as the actor Vin Diesel—and avant composer/dance music maven Arthur Russell in a project midwifed by Gary Lucas, who discovered Mark Sinclair rapping and break-dancing on the streets of the West Village, and greenlighted by Geoff Travis of Rough Trade Records and Barry Feldman of Upside/Logarhythm records.

“I’m the Man of Steel” the teenage Sinclair asserts, foreshadowing his stellar ascent as a worldwide action movie hero (“Triple XXX”, “Pitch Dark”, and most recently the #1 box office hit “Fast Five”)—but even Diesel is no match for Arthur’s crafty diabolical beats, which keep dropping “the one” out from under him, breaking up Sinclair’s delivery and eventually rendering the session useless.

“It’s the white part of me fucking it up!”
—Mark Sinclair at the recording session

Unfortunately embedding has been disabled, but if you really are curious to hear it (it’s not amazing to be honest) you can do so here.

Thanks to Steven Hall

Previously on DM:
Arthur’s Landing: ‘Love Dancing’

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
Rapper jumps on the bandwagon releases shitty Bin Laden is dead song
12:05 pm


Hot Rod
Osama bin Laden Is Dead

Expect a deluge of really bad Osama bin Laden death songs. Here’s one by a rapper from Phoenix, Arizona calling himself Hot Rod. He was at one time a protege of 50 Cent.

“My musical ear has expanded. Now the music I make is fuckin’ incredible and I can’t wait to unleash it to the world.” Hot Rod.

Mr. Rod, put it back on the leash.

Via The Daily Swarm

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
Listen to Beastie Boys’ ‘Hot Sauce Committee Part Two’ in full

So the Beastie Boys are back, with their new album Hot Sauce Committee Part Two.

There’s an interesting/confusing story about this release - the first Hot Sauce Committee record was due to drop in 2009. At the same time as HSCPt1 was being recorded, the ever-prolific band recorded a bunch of extra material for NSCPt2, and scheduled the release of the sequel for early 2011. Unfortunately the release of HSCPt1 was delayed when MCA discovered he had cancer (which he thankfully pulled through), but HSCPt2 remained on track for a spring 2011 release. And so here it is - but now with the track list swapped for that of HSCPt1. The real HSCPt1 is scheduled for release later this year, presumably featuring the material that was recorded for HSCPt2. Those Beasties, they so crazy.

So what does it sound like? Well, listen for yourself:

Hot Sauce Committee Part Two by Beastie Boys
Hot Sauce Committee Part Two will not be available to buy until May 3rd, but you can order it in advance on Amazon.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
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