30 years ago, Rick Rubin was a college student, living in NYU's Weinstein Residence Hall, room #712. It was there that Def Jam Records was formed, shifting the focus of hip-hop from the MCs to promote the DJs, too. Rubin and his label quickly outgrew the dorm, and he hasn't been back since. Recently he returned, and the adventure was captured and put into context by Rolling Stone Film's mini-documentary, Rick Was Here. New footage rolls alongside old, with some animations to bring a few audio-only stories to life. [more inside]
Copyright Criminals, the 2009 PBS Documentary, discusses the complex artistic and legal history of sampling in music, featuring interviews with both the samplers (Chuck D, De La Soul, Shock G, El-P, DJ Qbert) and the sampled (George Clinton and Clyde Stubblefield). via egotrip
Busta Rhymes is back with his 9th studio album, Year of the Dragon. It's free* for a limited time from Google Play, and also available to stream and download from DatPiff**. If that wasn't enough, Google Play put together a 21 minute biographical documentary on Busta Rhymes, with Busta and some close collaborators talking about his last 20 years. [more inside]
Tony Silver, the director of the groundbreaking hip-hop documentary Style Wars passed last night. He was a family friend of mine, and had been sick for several years with a irreversible brain condition. Style Wars is considered by some to be the best hip-hop film ever made, and by everyone to be the first. It was shot at the very start of the 1980s, when graffiti was still hip-hop's dominant form, and the idea of graffiti as art was brand new. I recommend checking out the deluxe DVD edition of the film Tony put together a few years ago after many years where it was only available as an expensive educational-only VHS, but you can also check out the 1hr 10m version on Google Video.
A new documentary on the Jonestown Massacre (YouTube) raises a few key questions about The People's Temple and mass suicide; yet the most pertinent quandary at the moment (posed by New York Magazine) has little to do with tainted Kool-Aid and instead focuses on an unfortunately named rapper from Harlem. This week, it's Jim Jones versus Jim Jones.
Big Fun in the Big Town Incredible German-produced documentary on hip hop and NY street culture from 1986. Features interviews and performances from Grandmaster Flash, Doug E Fresh, Run DMC, Roxanne Shante & Biz Markie, Schoolly D, and more.