Guru of Gang Starr - Keith Elam, has died from cancer. His passing is complicated by the sometimes bizarre actions of his business partner Solar (not to be confused with MC Solaar) during Guru's seven week hospital stay. [more inside]
Granite State of Mind - an ode to New Hampshire by SuperSecretProject, copping the blueprint from Jay-Z's Empire State of Mind
The Free Art and Technology (F.A.T.) Lab is an organization dedicated to enriching the public domain through the research and development of creative technologies and media. You may know them from such projects as How to build a fake Google Street View car, public domain donor stickers, internet famous class, the first rap video to end with a download source code link, or their numerous firefox add-ons (such as China Channel, Tourettes Machine, or Back to the future). FAT members have been hard at work standardizing various open source graffiti-related software packages, including Graffiti Analysis, Laser Tag, Fat Tag Deluxe and EyeWriter [previously] to be GML (Graffiti Markup Language) compliant. Fuck Google. Fuck Twitter. FuckFlickr. Fuck SXSW. Fuck 3D. FAT Lab is Kanye shades for the open source movement.
From the Borough of Brooklyn comes Dollar Van Demos: a showcase of talented musicians, rappers and comedians performing inside a dollar van with real passengers. [more inside]
A Common Misunderstanding of the Lyrics of Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind: The intricacies of rap lingo dissected by the intelligentsia, with predictable results. [more inside]
Die Antwoord is a "next-level rap-rave krew" from South Africa. Their incredible video, Enter the Ninja, is probably the best introduction to the group. The group consists of a white MC named Ninja, his mulleted wife Yo-Landi Vi$$er, and DJ Hi-Tek (aka Leon Botha), a painter who at 24 one of the oldest living sufferers of progeria syndrome. Further viewing: Zef Side. [more inside]
Seamless rap in 5 Languages (SLYT)
SomBy were the winners of the Liet International 2009 song contest for minority european languages and cultures. Sámi rock, you say? But wait, there's more! There's Alit Boazu from the Norwegian side, and Tiina Sanila, a Skolt Sámi singer from Finland. And yes, there is Sámi metal, from the band Intrigue. There are plenty other Sámi musicians across Sápmi and outside of the genre of rock, of course. There's Amoc, an Inari Sámi rapper from Finland; Adjágas who are folky and bluegrassy at times; Niko Valkeapää, who is more ambient and electronic; and of course, Mari Boine, recently knighted for her long career of artistic work (translation). [Sound, MySpace warnings] [more inside]
Eminem's "Lose Yourself" re-envisioned as a high school math course. The math and film departments of Madison East High School collaborate on a video, starring math teacher Philip Galarowicz. Not to be confused with The Rappin' Mathematician (hear "The Number Line Dance" here), or these high school math rappers, or the rap battle of TI-83 and Fitty Slope. The quadratic formula, rapped. The quadratic formula, rapped again. The quadratic formula, rapped, strangely compellingly, by a teacher in a tie.
Izza Kizza - I'm The Izza Kizza (lyrics nsfw) by Yoram Benz of Decon Media (YouTube channel). [more inside]
Tony Award nominated actor Lin-Manuel Miranda presents a rap about Alexander Hamilton from the perspective of Aaron Burr titled "The Hamilton Mixtape." [more inside]
Russell Jones, aka The Ol' Dirty Bastard, aka Ason Unique, aka Osirus, aka Big Baby Jesus, aka Dirt McGirt, aka Joe Bananas, aka Ol' Dirt Schultz. Always for the children.
Five years ago today Russell, also known as The Ol' Dirty Bastard, passed away in a recording studio in New York City while finishing what was to be his final album. [prev] He is remembered by those close to him. [more inside]
Sung in incoherent pseudo-English, Adriano Celentano's Prisencolinensinainciusol (1973) could be thought of as an early example of rap.
Bill Cosby Presents the Cosnarati: State of Emergency The project includes songs about frustration, incarceration and .... [more inside]
It was 30 years ago today... October, 1979: Rapper's Delight by the Sugarhill Gang was released. A few days later, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five gave us the tighter and catchier (IMHO) Superrappin'. Hip Hop had arrived. Here's a charming interview with a New York City paramedic who, as a very young photographer on the South Bronx scene back in the day, was the unofficial photo-documentarian of the birth of hip hop.
R.I.P. Mr. Magic. Mr. Magic's Rap Attack on WBLS was the first and for some time the only commercial radio outlet for hip hop. On October 2 Mr. Magic, John Rivas, passed from a heart attack. Previously 1 2 3.
Doomsday vs. Lyric (YT). From Rhyme Spitters 2006, a documentary of an annual Chicago tournament of freestyle emcee battles – completely improvised verbal battles between two rappers where insults are brought to a lyrical form that's often hilarious, often very politically incorrect, and usually NSFW. It's usually not taken personal by either party – in fact, it's not unusual in these battles to see a rapper smiling in appreciation of a particularly well-crafted insult that just came from their opponent. See also Rhyme Spitters 1, 2, and 4, each hour-long documentaries online at Vimeo featuring tons more battles.
Amazing to see how differently Shakespeare's work has been dealt with in music: there is Jerry Lee Lewis doing a blues on Othello. David Gilmour, former Pink Floyd lead singer, guitarist and songwriter, turned Sonnet 18 into a touchingly beautiful ballad. The Metal Shakespeare Company wrote a heavy metal song about Hamlet (III/1), "To bleed or not to bleed". And yes, there is Shakespeare rap, too: William Shatner (the very same!) raps about Caesar and British rapper Akala thinks he is a reincarnation of the bard. Last but not least, the Beatles tried their luck at Shakespeare, too (no music this time): they did a skit on the famous Pyramus and Thisbe scene from A Midsummer Night's Dream (very rare footage!).
Mark Skillz, hip hop historian of a sort and an occasional writer for Wax Poetics, represents the old school of hip hop and lets others tell their stories on Hip Hop 101A. From Eddie Cheba recalling his time as a top DJ in the small world of hip hop in 1977, to the life of Sparky D, who took up the good fight for UTFO and started the Roxanne Wars, one of hip hop's first rap battles. Read up on the fall of funk and the rise of Planet Rock, and reminisce with Reggie Wells about the birth of hip hop from black club deejays in Manhattan who were refining a slick style of talk over disco records to open hip hop jams in the park. As a bonus, Wells throws out a playlist straight from Club 371 (videos after the break). [more inside]
Roxanne Shanté, considered by some to be a queen of hip hop, got Warner Music to pay for her PhD in psychology. Except, a Slate investigation says it never happened. [more inside]
Hip-hop has another warrant of bourgeois respectability to place on the shelf: Run-D.M.C. have had a street named after them in Brooklyn.
Jason Derulo's song "Watcha Say" which debuted at 54th on the Billboard Hot 100 and is currently 5th on the Itunes Top 100 list prominently samples Imogen Heap's song "Hide and Seek" without giving her credit. Sampling in rap music has a long and controversial history.
Last week, Eddy Temple Morris, a DJ on UK radio station XFM, challenged Twitter to remix as many songs as possible into 10 minutes. The previous record was held by Wizard of Deekline and Wizard - it is now held by rapper, producer and all-round renaissance man Akira the Don, who managed to fit a staggering 210 tracks into 1/6 of an hour. He's just put together a video to accompany the mix - watch it here
If you were a child of the '90's, then Regulate by Warren G and Nate Dogg was probably your jam. Here is a critical analysis of the song by comedian Sean Keane. If only all gangsta rap had such deep meaning.
Back when he was younger, Jay-Z was a merciless, ruthless killer in the "beefs" which define hip hop politics. [...] As Jay-Z got older and more powerful, the marginal benefits of such battles declined and the costs increased even as the number of would-be rivals escalated. Just as the U.S. attracts resentment and rhetorical anti-Americanism simply by virtue of being on top, so did Jay-Z attract a disproportionate number of attackers.Marc Lynch compares international relations to rap feuds, with Jay-Z as the hegemon and up-and-comer The Game as the "insurgent." [more inside]
It's a hip hop guide to neurobiology, so just sit back, relax and go with the flow (of ions as they pass through the cell membrane). (via)
Arlington: The Rap (SLYT)
This is what it would sound like if hip hop was translated to proper form trust me the results are nothing short of amazing!
Del The Funky Homosapien has two song packs available for free download. His newest album, Funk Man (the stimulus package), is available for the price of your email. All available at Bandcamp.
In 1988, the hip hop came to the Mormons, thanks to The Walter & Hays Band and their Mormon Rap (lyrics video). Though mocked by some, others take it seriously. Annoyed that there's only a version with guys singing? Morgan made a girl version. [more inside]
Easy access to the internet and simplified technology for recording songs and videos might do great things for the future of pop music. Or it might be like this. [more inside]
Division: Work it out! - these girls be spittin the math.
Ten winners in the Goethe Institute's Schiller rap contest.
RoboCop Rap - The whole film, condensed down to ten mins, in rap form. SLYT. NSFW.
The Hardest Rapper Alive (SLYT; NSFW language)
Way back in 1984, when rap was still in its infancy, a now-obscure Brooklyn trio called UTFO released a record entitled "Roxanne, Roxanne". UTFO cancelled an appearance at a show promoted by now-legendary figures Mr. Magic and Marley Marl, and when a teenage girl named Lolita Shante Gooden overheard them discussing the cancellation and their anger over it, she offered to record a diss track as the titular Roxanne, and became Roxanne Shante. UTFO responded with their own "Real Roxanne", and thus began a ridiculously long series of answer records involving everyone from the fictional Roxanne's doctor to her grandmother. Now you can listen to them all without spending a fortune: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10 [more inside]
Some of the biggest questions/That's ever been asked/Do you know where life is going/Can you tell where it starts?
Assignment details: Discuss the following: We know that life exists on Earth, and has taken billions of years to evolve into the things we see today. But has this happened anywhere other than Earth? Well, to help sort out this headscratcher of a question, NASA has commissioned MC Oort Kuiper, aka Jonathan Chase, a grad student at the University of Glamorgan, to write a rap about it. "Astrobiology" appears in the European edition of Astrobiology Magazine.
Meet gold-toothed Vegas rapper Thug "Money Man" Presley, cousin to The King. Real name Kristopher Presley, Thug has been serving time in jail and just pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter for running over someone with an SUV in 2004. [more inside]