Thursday, September 2, 2010

Big News: Word Is bond

If your a fan of hip-hop 4 the people, my creation. For the time being you will only be able to find my posts on "Word Is Bond.Com". After an interview with one of their members "bob42jh" i've decided to join their team of top writers and music fans. Much thanks to the people who have helped me with this blog espcially Kyle Murdock, Andy Brooks (Homecut), Omar Tull (Pack FM), and Raashan Ahmad. To fans of HH4TP like Freddy Laz and the guy who wrote about me for his own site, much respect for the support and hopefully i'll come back and post here in the future.

Peace - Paddy Lane.

Friday, August 20, 2010

"Rapper" Joaquin Pheonix to release documentary

Theres been much debate on Joaquin Pheonix. Has he really quit acting to pursue a career in hip-hop? Perhaps we will be closer to knowing the truth when a new documentary about the last year of his life is released in September. To be called 'I'm Still Here: The Lost Year Of Joaquin Pheonix'. The film will feature P Diddy working with the increasingly bizarre celebrity trying to produce an album. Joaquin has been out and about 'performing' some of his new material.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mellow Orange - Last Resort

"Mellow Orange Music Present "Last Resort" ep. An album inspired by artists staying true to their art form and doing what they do best. This album and its music is last resort in a world that is truly dominated by commercial/radio contemporary music. However it may also be the last resort in an effort to find a place/music that people have been waiting for... "

This recently released project is an all star effort from some of the most respected underground names including Raashan Ahmad and Ohmega Watts.

Pras Speaks Out

Following the news that Wyclef is running for President, fellow ex-Fugees member Pras has come out to say he dosn't support the decision of his one time band mate. Speaking to MTV news, Pras showed his support for Wyclef's rival instead.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wyclef Jean Runs For President

Hip-hop legend Wyclef Jean has announced he is to run for the presidency of his native Haiti. He has stepped down from his posistion as Haiti ambassador and will run in the countries next election on the 28th of November. His vast wealth plus his popularity with the youth means he is now in a strong posistion to run for office. Wyclef was influential in aid for the country after a terrible earth quake caused havoc. His success in America is a rags to riches tale. Before forming The Fugees, Wyclef couldn't speak a word of English. Yet he built up his career from scratch and his become one of the most popular musicians of his time. In a strange twist, Wyclef's uncle has also decided to run president, yet the two were quick to play down any petty rivalries.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Cut Chemist - Sound Of The Police

Cut Chemist, real name Lucas Mac Fadden, was the man behind the beats for legendary hip-hop groups such as Jurassic 5 & Ozomatli. Yet for quite some time now, the talented producer has branched out as a solo-artist. This week sees the release of an incredible project celebrating African music, Soul, Latin & Funk. It seems Cut Chemist is a master of all forms of music. The album is best described as a throwback to the days when the DJ was the reigning king of hip-hop.

The death of J Dilla coupled with the rise of Madlib has caused a recent surge in the popularity of instrumental hip-hop. Cut Chemist deserves his place alongside those greats for embracing the cultures of various forms of music while putting his own spin on things. “Sound Of The Police” breaks down into two parts. There are small vocal segments yet the album maintains a party feel. Incorporating the sounds of African rhythms is essential to the LP's make up. Horns, drums and scratches are the most prevalent sounds while Cut makes sure to constantly renew energy with plenty of surprises. In a very fitting release for the album Cut Chemist performed it live supporting Ethiopian musician Mulatu Astatke.

Interview With Popular Youtube Fan Bob42jh

With nearly two million upload views and over five thousand subscribers. Bob42jh also known as Rob is becoming a popular source for underground hip-hop music. Bob's music selections are obsucre yet adhere to the highest standards. There is an emphasis on new music and ambient instrumentals with positive, skilful emcees appearing on tracks. Make sure to join his channel and help the underground movement grow. Today he took some time out to talk to Hip-Hop 4 The People:

1 Hey Bob, how did you first get into hip-hop?

Hey, my first memories of hip hop was when I was like 7-8 years old, I remember sitting in my brothers bedroom he was about 14 at the time and he had Biggies 'Ready To Die' album playing whilst we played computer games. He was a huge fan of 2Pac, Biggie, Nas and all those guys that were doing it in the early nineties. As time went on I started listening to Common, The Roots, De La Soul and ATCQ and during my early teen years mainstream music was getting worse and worse (50 cent, Ja Rule and all them other fools) so it was around that time that I started digging deep to find new music that I liked.

2 Your YouTube channel is fast becoming a great source for rare music, how do you find the selections you decide to post, and what is the criteria you use?

Thank you, with each post I take my time selecting each track. I only upload a track if I really like it, sometimes I hear a track I don't like it straight away but eventually I’ll end up uploading it a couple weeks after I first hear it because I often over scrutinise a track! I have an office desk job which is boring so I spend most my day listening to music. The thought process in deciding what to upload is usually when I’d put that track on my mp3 player - if I’d listen to it again time and time again. I think it’s this that has made my channel popular, allot of people on YouTube they upload 1000-2000+ songs, some of them are great others are average. With me I try and only upload songs that I’m really feeling so I know when people log on and they check out what I’ve uploaded hopefully it won't be a average track that doesn’t stand out.

3 What do you believe are the problems of mainstream hip-hop?

There’s so many problems that I couldn't list them all but truth be told it also comes down to the listeners there the ones buying the music, but I honestly believe that if people had a source for better/"real" music then people would realise there’s so much more to Hip Hop then this fake thug r'n'b rap scenarios that are played out on the radio day in day out. The main problems lie with the Radio stations, DJs and Record Labels; they’re the ones who sell us this image of buffoonery! There’s no variety on the radio it’s the same old shit - gangsta man talking about his cars, money and bitches with some average R'N'B singer with his shirt off in the video, it’s played out, its tired.

That’s why now record labels are now turning their attentions to the Drakes and Kid Cudi's to give the peoples something different but in reality there no different it’s just an image change to the 'norm'. These people sell themselves everyday to the record labels they sell out, start rapping over a track sounding like a damn transformer! But the kids love it because they don't know better!

It sounds like I got a lot of hate for the mainstream but in actuality I’m happy that mainstream Hip Hop is garbage because it makes you appreciate people like Atmosphere, Blue Scholars, Cunninlynguists, Substantial, Panacea...etc! It don't anger me that their underground I’m just upset that there underpaid! 12 year old kids isn’t downloading music there buying there Drake albums with their dads credit cards. I feel that people are more inclined to download underground music because it’s harder to get hold of. I understand that I do the same from time to time!

4 What are your top four hip-hop albums of all time?

It’s such a hard question and in all honestly it’s properly something that changes weekly and because my taste has evolved and changed over the years. Here are 4 albums that I’ve probably listened to the most over the years:

Cunninglynguists - A Piece of Strange, Nujabes - Modal Soul, Last Emperor - Palace of the Pretender and Madvillain - Madvillainy

5 Have you ever taught about producing beats or rapping?

I've never really thought about rapping simply because I’m rubbish with words! As for producing I’d love to do that but I’d doubt id be any good that’s why I do what I do at the moment, I promote artists & share good music! A lot of times young aspiring artists send me music to upload and if I don't like it they feel that I’m hating on them! So promoting artists does have its downsides too!

6 The mixtapes you have made are top quality, how long on average do you take to put them together and how do you decide what fits?

Thank you, the compilations take a couple hours what I usually do is select the first and last track which are usually always instrumentals I then select a few of my recent uploads and a few other tracks I know people will like based on what else is on the compilation. I start off with 30 tracks and trim it down to 15-16; I burn them all onto CD and play it at work, home...etc till I decide what to keep. The criteria for my compilations is simply what would I put on a disc if I was going away this weekend if I had to select some tracks that I’ve been listening to recently.

7 Have you ever had any problems with copy-right laws? Do you think artists have a negative perception of their material being used online?

Oh yea, I’ve been in contact with labels, YouTube, Artists, Managers, Legal Staff...etc. 95% of the artists I upload are very appreciative, many of them send me music to upload, others I ask for permission. Sometimes I don't ask for permission but most of the time people are happy for me to upload there music because it then gets a bit of attention.

Some labels send me stuff too! It saddens me when a record label do a DMCA (copyright claim) against a video of mine or they email me asking to remove a video, because all I’m doing in doing their jobs for them! I always fight it, I’ve been in contact with YouTube several times and in the end I’ve had strikes removed. I’m helping spread their artists/labels music to over 5,000 subscribers! In this day and age if you’re an underground hip hop fan without the internet how on earth would you find out that Panacea have a new album? Or Sage Francis is in your town doing a concert? You wouldn't know! The Internet has helped underground Hip Hop reach listeners round the world.

It’s created a scene, a buzz! In regards to the way artists feel about their music being used online I think overall it’s a positive reaction as long as it’s being used correctly. If someone is spreading download links and bootlegs then that’s a can be a negative thing, but if someone is playing your song and providing a couple thousand of people with a link to BUY your album then I really do not see how that is a negative thing!

It’s the whole copyright thing that has made me think about closing my channel because I don't want to wake up one day and see that YouTube have deleted it! I would much rather end things on my own terms then see a year of work go down the drain! If I lost my channel I wouldn’t start it back up I’d quit.

8 Will fresh hip-hop ever make the radio?

I don't think so, you will always get the token track that makes a rare appearance but I don't think I’ll ever turn on the radio and hear CYNE! I don't even know if I want to hear it on the radio either!

9 What are the artists you believe will be the future of hip-hop?

The artists that I’m really excited about are artists like Ian Kamau, Late Bloomers, Marcus D (Marcus D is a producer from Seattle who has a great sound, make sure you all check out his previous release: Revival of the Fittest and be sure to check out his collaborative release with Substantial under the name Bop Alloy! He also has an EP called Shoshin coming out soon!)

I think the future lies with artists like Panacea, Substantial, Reki, Blazo, Day Blues, Exposition, Dem Southernfolkz, Kuroisoul, Know Juander (he dropped the best EP of 09!), Hus / Tha Connection, Berry Weight (check them out Crazy instrumentals!) and I’m loving Shad too! There’s so many to name really it makes me laugh when I hear people say Hip Hop is dead!! Because to me it’s crazy right now! So many dope artists doing these things, taking the music to new levels! I wouldn’t have it any other way!!

10 Have you ever taught about taking the movement further perhaps getting a job on radio or starting an independent label?

I would jump at the chance to do either! If I ever won the lottery I’d start my own label for sure! But I’m a realistic person! I’m happy doing what I’m doing now working with my channel, working with artists, working on my blog. One thing I try and do is stand out from other people who just upload music; I try and bring people new stuff, unique sounds, variety.

One thing that I’m currently looking at possibly doing is releasing a digital download with several artists where the proceeds go to charity. I’m lucky enough to be to have contact with so many dope / humble artists so hopefully that can happen!


I just want to say thanks to all the people who send me messages thanking me for introducing them to new artists - that’s all I want to do. It makes me happy when I find someone like Reki on MySpace and then I upload his music and he then goes on to produce for Digi Crates Records! The amount of appreciation people show me is overwhelming! It keeps me doing what I do, I don't see what I do as anything special but it goes to show the lack of good blogs spreading good music.

Want to say thanks to every artist who has reached out to me who is appreciative that I’ve uploaded there music! Thanks to you for doing this interview with me, I thought it would be pointless, like what do people care what I have to say or do I even have much to say! But after feeling the repetitive strain in my hands I’m guessing I got allot to say! Keep listening to real music people and I don't expect or ask anyone to buy every album they hear! But sometimes just buying a track or two or sending the artist a message and letting them know you’re listening - that goes a long way!

Rob also helps run a popular music blog: Word Is Bond

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fresh 9th Wonder Interview

Code Emphasis is a blog similar in style to HH4TP which looks to interview the most repsected underground artists. This month they managed to get 9th Wonder who is the man behind beats for Jay-Z, Little Brother and more. In this interview he talks about his latest projects as of July 2010. Make sure to check it out as 9th Wonder is a progressive artist with big plans.

Slum Village - Villa Manifesto

This week sees the release of “Villa Manifesto” rumoured to be the last Slum Village LP. The 13 track album features unreleased Dilla verses aswell as production from the man himself. Another exciting element is guests like Little Brother and De La Soul which make for a true hip-hop event. The focus is on lyriscm, yet the music never gets too preachy. The group is heavily influenced by the Detroit strip club scene which is evident within the lyrical content.

Wheter your a collecter of underground hip-hop or new to the music “Villa Manifesto” will be one of the years more interesting prospects, even if its just for the standard of personal alone. The new single is a raw slice of hip-hop featuring Illa J, the brother of J Dilla. Illa J's debut album in 2008 is considered a classic and “Reunion Part 2” is his first outing since his break through material released two years ago. Fans of Slum Village include Common and The Roots.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

New Music

The Last Emp - Fine Art

Reflection Eternal - This World

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Some Underground Classics

Bored of the hip-hop you see on tv? This is a taste of things they don't show you:

Moe Pope - Rock Me
Moe Pope who was part of Mission with Raashan Ahmad before it became The Crown City Rockers. He's now gone solo and this is one of his best efforts to date.

Kidkanevil Feat. Homecut - Kranium Rock
Rare first appearance from Homecut on film. Real British hip-hop music at it's best. While i like this style, to see Homecut's progression now is awesome.

Raashan Ahmad Freestyle Challenge

Recently a video popped up online of Raashan Ahmad challenged to freestyle while driving. "Spittin' In The Whip" is the name of the show which seeks out emcees to try the challenge. Strangely the presenter dosn't even seem to know Raashan's name! still it's well worth watching to see a true artist in his element.

Rare K-Murdock

If your like me and you NEED your favourite artists entire discography then the news of this hidden treasure will come of great interest to you. Before there was Panacea, K-Murdock worked with Raheem DeVaughan, the best neo-soul singer of today, although don't call him that to his face. Raheem has never liked the 'soul' tag, yet along with Wes Felton and K-Murdock, a supergroup of hip-hop and soul was born.

Branded "The Crossrhodes - Limited budget, Unlimted Quality" it is the sole lp of the group. The problem for us fans has been getting our hands on it, until now. K-Murdock has announced via his blog that he has copies to sell, but they are extremely limited. From what i've heard the production on this has that relaxing sound we've come to love, with soft piano chords and light snares. You can hear a taster of the album here:

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I'm Back......... Fancy A Sprite?

Much apologies if you've missed my posts lately, I've been overly busy. I'm back now so rest assured you'll be getting the best hip-hop news and music;

"First name greatest! last name ever!" you sick and tired of hearing that?? so am i. But since Drake became a marketers wet dream, we better get used to it. Your going to see his face every time you switch on your television. I know his fans will say I'm "hating", your damn right I'm hating, i don't see much to like. Hip-hop and selling you things is the ultimate marriage of contradiction. Hip-hop by it's very nature is a non-commercial entity.

Drake is a talentless actor, raps simplistic garbage but looks the part. And by that i mean the man looks like something a ten year old girl would be into. His biggest claim to fame is being Lil Wayne's right hand man and 'shutting down the mall' without an album out. Perfect example of the pure hype that is Drake. The true reason to care about this, is that through media promotion he will become the face of modern day hip-hop, sad really. Over the last couple of months The Roots, Nas and others have released gems yet it will be Drake who the 'fans' will talk about.It's bad enough mainstream music is strategically marketed thus altering its creative elements. Now artists are directly asking you to buy products irrelevant to music. I can't imagine Drake spends to much of his own time drinking sprite either. According to his mixtapes hes a champagne man. Ideally i would urge you to stop drinking sprite.

I also think we should track down the name of the man behind the Sprite advertising board. Then we should give him a copy of Distant Relatives while informing him that sprite is far to sugary to be considered a viable beverage option. If you value your teeth and eardrums, join the anti-sprite hip-hop 4 the people protest.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Gangsta Rap: Fact Vs Fiction

How many fans of gangsta rap obsess about the 'realness' of the lyrics? my guess is quite a lot. Taking pride in bragging about gangbanging, murder and stealing is the main objective of the music. Millions of teenage boys idolise 50 Cent, Dr. Dre, The Game and many others for their 'true O.G.' image. But when it comes down to it, how many of us truly believe that these people have blood on their hands? The bodycount of men who died at the hands of Dr. Dre, despite his tough lyrics, is most likely to be zero. And thank god, as why would anyone hope their favourite rapper has killed another human being.

When young fans talk about keeping it gangsta, it's simply playing with fantasy. Rappers become idols like movie stars, in the mould of Arnie & Sly Stallone. Realistically if these people commited the crimes they rap about, we would have no respect for them. An example is Big Lurch. You've probably never heard of him but his short rap career was cut short when he killed and ate, yes ate, a young woman. Now in prison for life, his album "It's All Bad", wasn't much of a success. And as to be expected the man is taught of as scum.Compare this reality to a Game LP, his fans swear by his 'realness', but how many people would support him if he carried out real murders. He'd most probably end up like Big Lurch. Hated and imprisoned. When rappers do go to jail, it's for gun possesion. No dead bodies, no shots fired. Early videos of Tupac show his real nature as a sensitive member of the Baltimore school of the arts, while Dr. Dre (1st On Left) spent his days in Compton dressed like this:Of course a lot of rappers come from the streets and have a long list of felonies. DMX, T.I., 50 Cent amongst others have the jail time to back it up. But the heroes in gangsta rap always fall the victim and rarely the perp. Big.L, Proof, Biggie and Pac all died murdered. They go out like heroes, fallen to the game. Like Dead Prez say about gangsta rappers: "there just people with ideas, there just like me and you when the smoke and camera disapear".

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Hip-Hop Artist

Most people thinking about a career in hip-hop take up rapping or producing. But there are so many more opportunities out there. The art form is as vast as your mind's ideas. Take a look at Khalil Gill's new promotional video. He expands hip-hop's capabilities by drawing his favourite artist's, very cool:

Khalil Gill Profile from Heron Gibran on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Kid Cudi Arrested

Of all of the mainstream so called 'new school' acts i've always had a bit of time for Kid Cudi. Ok so his auto-tuned singing can get a bit annoying and he makes a lot of music about the same tiring subjects of parties and girls. But no one can deny the man puts passion in his music, his debut album featured narration from Common and the mixtape that put him on the map was brilliantly crafted. So news of his recent arrest somewhat surprised me.
The story goes that Cudi was arrested by police last week in New York after harrasing a young woman, breaking the door of her apartment and destroying her phone. He was also found to be in possesion of a controlled substance. No doubt some people will view this as adding to his 'street cred', but really he sounds like a tosser to me. Last year he punched a fan in a case of mistaken identity, he later apoligised but it seems hes eager to constantly play the hard man. How about setting a good example to your young fan base instead Cudi?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Shad - TSOL: Album Review

Shadrach Kabango hails from Canada. He has a natural talent for making pure inspirational hip-hop music. A lot of exciting emcees are coming out of Canada right now including K-Os and K-Naan. Shad is just as good as those artists. TSOL is his third album released at the end of May 2010. Check out his music:Themes:

How many people try to emulate the likes of Talib Kweli and it comes off sounding forced? Shad dosn't fall into that trap. This is uplifting music, but it's not corny. He comes with plenty of witty wordplay and strong punchlines. Clearly Shad has spent years working on his craft. Theres an authentic feel to the lyrics. He mainly focus's on his own view of the world. A lot of the music is getting to know the artist's perspective on life. He's also that good he could handle the best battle rappers with ease. It's the type of hip-hop where you'll sit there thinking 'cool, i know where he's going with this', only for him to flip his lines into something crazy or clever.


The production is very similar in style to Kanye West's gospel-soul style of hip-hop. The standard of beats is astonishing considering the producers are virtually unknown, even in underground hip-hop circles. DJ T-Lo, Ric Notes, Relic the Oddity and others handle production. If Lupe or Common find out about this album surely they will make use of these talented producers. Shad belongs in that class of artist. "Rose Garden" is catchy as hell, sampling that gospel element made popular by the neo-soul movement of Dilla. In fact, even the video serves as a homage to The Pharcyde's "Drop" in quite a humourous fashion.

The album opens up with a relaxing instrumental that uses a slow drum beat and scratches to maintain that hip-hop sound. Then it breaks into "Rose Garden", which feels like you've been asleep only to wake up to a heatwave. "Keep Shining" keeps those big band sounds and is consitant with the spirtual vibes of the music. The album is thirteen tracks long and feels like it breaks into two parts. The opening part of the album is pure cheerful soul, an interlude seperates these sounds to the latter part of the lp. "Listen" and "At The Same Time" are slightly more introspective and minimalistic in their instrumentation. "We Myself And I" and "Outro" are more guitar orientated with slower tempos. Shad shows his versatility by switching between these styles.



Just below classic status. Shad is one to watch because i feel that theres a perfect album in him someday. 'Til then bump this because it comes so close. This is the best album of the year since Panacea and Nas set the bar just a month ago. The Roots are coming soon with their effort and hopefully they can reach this standard as one of the highlights of 2010 in hip-hop.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Illuminati Theory: Just What Is It About?

Hip-hop fans have always loved a good conspiracy theory. From 2Pac's death right up to Guru's mysterious requests. Strange occurrences relating to a much larger answer have always served as a source of speculation. The latest theory is the Illumanti's influence over hip-hop and the music industry. A quick search on youtube of popular hip-hop videos and you will notice a lot of comments that point to the occult nature of the images. The theory goes that behind major music videos are people working to push the agenda of secret societies.

When commenting on this issue, it's important to separate fact from fiction. The Illumanti, Freemasons & Secret Societies are all the subjects of an ever increasing amount of books and films. Think the new Dan Brown and Sherlock Holmes movies. So is there any truth to their existence? Well, their control over world affairs can often be overstated, but an examination of the facts show these groups do in fact exist. The most blatant evidence was "Propaganda Due" a scandal which exposed their powerful influence. This was not a 'Roswell' story but a factual truth which shocked much of Italy.

The three groups interlink and operate in different forms. The strongest connection between them is their goal to control the masses through belief in the occult and subliminal messages. So the real question is not if these groups exist, but rather to what extent to they influence our media. Historically, religion, cults and propaganda have always shaped to some extent the trends in Hollywood. Examples of bizarre cult influences include Tom Cruise and Isaac Hayes. These much respected celebs hold allegiance to the hideous cult of Scientology. It would not be unthinkable that some hip-hop stars of today belong to some similarly sinister groups who prefer to stay hidden.

The most staggering evidence comes from Jay-Z. As an artist, I am a huge fan of his music. However, a lot of strange symbolism is starting to appear in his videos and rather than blindly let them sail by me, I choose to analyse the messages he is sending. It is beyond doubt that his work is laced with occult images; all that's left to answer is what his motives are. One thing's for sure Jay-Z is fully aware of the controversy.

Check out this photo below of him on the set of "Run This Town":

This shirt is no accident, "Do What Thou Wilt" was the message of the satanic freemason Aleister Crowley. The music video itself is also full of masonic imagery mainly regarding torch bearing and power shifts. It's important to recognise Jay-Z works with director's who delibaretly put these messages in the videos, nothing is accidental. In 1996 Jay wrote a song called "D'Evils" the lyrics were as follows:

"Whoever said illegal was the easy way out couldn't understand the mechanics and the workings of the underworld. Lifes ills poison my body, I used to say 'fuck mic skills,' and never prayed to God, I prayed to Gotti (a known freemason).

My soul is possessed by D'Evils in the form of diamonds and lexuses. Was thought to be a pleasant guy all my fuckin' life. So now I'm down for whatever, ain't nothing nice. Throughout my junior high years it was all friendly. But now this higher learnin' got the Remy in me. Liquors invaded my kidneys. Got me ready to lick off, mama forgive me. I can't be held accountable, D'Evils beating me down.

Dear God, I wonder can you save me?
Illuminati want my mind, soul, and my body
Secret society, tryin' to keep they eye on me"

Lyrically this song addresses the Illumanti and Freemasonry. It talks of his hopeless acceptance into their lifestyle. Despite publicly denying he is a member of a cult Jay loves to continually play with his audience. A recent video "On To The Next One" is again full of dark subliminal images.

Have a look at these freeze frame shots:

^ Dehumanisation. A sinister aspect of freemasonry.

^ Bamphomet. The horns represent the Masonic devil god.

This song does not mention devil worship, so why do these images appear? Perhaps Jay believes they simply look cool. Maybe he wants to stir controversy. Or maybe Jay-Z is a member of a cult? I will let you decide. However, the new trend of satanic images does not stop with Jay-Z. Let's take a look at a recent Lil Wayne single "On Fire". The woman he raps about in this video is indeed the devil.

When you add these themes with Christina Aguilera's latest video (in which she performs an orgy in a church) or Rihanna's devilish messages in "Umbrella", a pattern begins to emerge. The fore-mentioned artists along with Beyonce and Lady Gaga are all lacing their music with satanic imagery. They also happen to be the most successful artists of the modern music scene. Perhaps the key to their success are rewards for their pro-illumanti messages.

Remember even if the artist's themselvs don't understand the symbolism in their music videos, perhaps the directors do. The video for "Paparazzi" was directed by an open Satanist, here he is on the set:


I believe we should all look closely at the lyrics and imagery of our favourite music. Like 2Pac said don't just nod your head to the beat, listen to what the rappers are saying. Decide if it's a message you agree with. This can only be a positive thing. But be smart. It is easy to single out images and lyrics to make something look one-dimensional.

For all this devil imagery, there is a lot of Christian imagery too. Think Kanye West "Jesus Walks". So don't start declaring every artist you hear or see to be part of this. I've read a lot about Nas being a member of the Illumanti, this is sensationalism and lacks credibility.

On the flipside, don't be sheep, the media like to push agendas at us, and certainly cults have the ability to influence our music. Just like Scientology have control over movie stars. Trust your gut instinct on what is pure and honest art.

*Much thanks to the Vigilant for helping me research this topic*

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pack FM - IFHR: Album Review

A concept album from talented underground emcee Pack FM. Comes with an optional package deal that includes t-shirts, stickers and a damn "i hate rappers" dartboard. But will the music live up to the hype?


Each track feels like Pack is eager to prove a point. He comes direct with blunt lyricism focusing on his life as an emcee. It seems Pack has a lot to get off his chest with this album. Promoters and rappers bare the brunt of his anger. However, there is a confidence to his lyrics that show he enjoys the disconnection between himself and lesser artists. He has no plans to unite the hip-hop world, if anything he wants to distance himself from the industry. His history of battle rapping comes to the forefront on this LP.

There is a defiant nature to this work. Pack is refusing to give into the demands of success in 2010. When LL Cool J released “Mama Said Knock You Out” the lyrics were angry yet there was a joy in which LL rapped, happily knowing he was destroying his opponents. That spirit is in IFHR and it makes for above all a fun battle record. Expect some disses and skilful rhyming patterns from a man who likes to do things his own way. There are little surpises to be had but plenty of consistancy from Pack FM.


Production is handled by several different underground producers. The album opens with a skit which sees Pack in a support group talking about his frustrations with rappers. “IFHR” is the first record on the album, a back drop of guitars and drums complement Pack’s quick-firing lyrics. “Nasty” is the lead single which further incorporates rock elements. While tribal chanting and violins create a dark atmosphere on “Wanna Know”, an album highlight.

Of the opening six songs, three are skits, this gets frustrating when you consider it’s been four years since the last album. They are genuinely funny but it still leaves you wanting more from Pack FM. “Flux Capacitor” is a retro-style beat. Pack raps over little more than boom bap drums and electronic samples. The 1980’s hardcore vibes continue with “Take Our Place” which samples the infamous “UFO” by ESG.

Despite the different producers, the sounds stay cohesive. Most songs feature old-school hip hop drums and raw guitar solos. “Sire” is a genuine moment of great hip-hop from Pack FM. The album ends with a song called “I Fucking Like Everything”, a typically funny song which talks about how Pack isn’t as negative as you might think. This is followed by a skit in keeping with the album’s themes and a bonus track “Absolutely Positive”.



After a long wait, IFHR is a decent addition to the Pack FM catalogue. It is commendable that he has no intentions of watering down his style to suit new trends. If you love battle records you won’t be disappointed with this effort. However, I would say this is strictly for fans familiar with his music. If your new to Pack start with “whatduzfmstand4”, then work your way onto this.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

John Forte: Water Light Sound

John Forte is an artist who many know little about. He produced two songs on The Fugees album 'The Score' aswell as releasing two solo albums. His music is of a rare high standard and his life is an astonishing tale of ups and downs. His songs are similar in style to Wyclef Jean and The Roots. Yet unlike those artists, John is the victim of his own mistakes.

This year will see the release of a documentary which tells his story. John served seven years for drug offences until amazingly he was bailed out with the help of George W. Bush. The film will be released after John's new album "Water Light Sound" will drop in the coming months. Now that he has changed his life around he works as a teacher and helps with inner city youth projects.

After been released from prison, John immediately set about recording and put out an EP dealing with social issues. He touches on subjects such as prison and ghetto life. Last year he released a video with Talib Kweli rapping over the Kanye West instrumental for "Homecoming". Expect some gems from this man soon.

Monday, May 24, 2010

What We Can Learn From Hip-Hop In Brazil

How would hip-hop look today if it wasn’t controlled by large business corporations? To best answer the question I researched extensively the structure of hip-hop in Brazil. The art-form is the music of choice for much of the youth of Brazil. However, the entertainment world is not as lucrative and the chances of striking it rich through hip-hop music are slim to none.

This leaves the artists right to expression untainted. There is no hidden agenda of rappers controlled by outside forces. Instead young aspiring talents take control of hip-hop in any way they see fit. There is an equal opportunity for an emcee to be heard whatever the direction of style they take.

Of course as rap was exported to Brazil from the U.S. many choose to copy stereo-typical elements of the genre. But for the ones that don’t, an opportunity to highlight social problems and criticise corrupt sections of society presents itself in ways previously unseen. As hip-hop is the most direct form of lyrical expression, a realness comes across which has the power to change the landscape around it.

It is used primarily to educate the masses on the reality of Brazilian slum living conditions. A far cry from lavish excesses. The culture is far more connected to local communities than the glitz and glamour world of MTV. Below is a video by Brazilian hip-hop artist MV Bill which depicts ghetto life in a less than favourable fashion.

In America, artists like Immortal Technique and Dead Prez are marginalised. In Brazil they are the norm. Through interaction with hip-hop, people from all walks of life are educated on realities often hidden from mainstream views.

The true beauty of the music in Brazil is that it works side by side with local community organisations who see the value of it’s educational properties. Many artists are directly funded and supported by groups which look to highlight and solve the problems within society.

Anderson Sa is the founder of Afro Reggae a modern day movement similar in style to Afrika Bambaataa. A former drug dealer, his ideology is to use the method of hip-hop to promote the value of education. With the support of Amnesty international, Afro Reggae run workshops for disadvantaged youths in slums, turning them away from a life of crime.

Perhaps if Tupac Shakur had the support of such positive organisations, things would have turned out differently. The U.S. medias obsession with petty squabbles was ultimately a factor in the loss of it‘s greatest hip-hop icon. But then there is so much to be learnt from a culture undisturbed by commercialism. A culture where artistic growth is allowed to thrive to be a real force for good.

The story of Afro Reggae is told through the movie “Favela Rising”, it should inspire all of us to know that change is within our own capabilities. We don’t need to rely on politicians and we don’t need to rely on Interscope to deliver us the next rap star. Mention hip-hop to someone on the street in America and it will probably conjure images of idiotic males glorifying prostitution and guns.

In order to take back our music we need to desensitise ourselves from the popular choice and strive to uplift our culture. The emcees of tomorrow can be the men that change the world through an exciting artistic medium, we just need to realise it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Raashan Ahmad Download

"I wanted to share some rare party joints I’ve been involved with over the last year or so with some of my favorite emcees."

- Raashan Ahmad



Gift of Gab, Aceyalone, Chali 2na, Lateef with Production by Headnodic, Descry,

and of course Raashan Ahmad.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Get To Know: Pack FM

If your new to Pack FM, and just seen his interview on my blog, here's some great videos of him in action:

1. Freestyle:

2. Live:


3. Plucking Daisies:

XXL Freshman: The Praise Of Ignorance

Can someone tell XXL that gangster rap died in 1996?

Have a look at the cover above. This is the list of rappers which XXL declares to be the future of hip-hop. Not that we should care, but as it's the best-selling hip hop magazine it makes you wonder what the new generation of readers will try to emulate. Instead of progression, the selection is a depressing glorification of ignorance. There is little understanding of lyricism, creativity, artist development and ability to inspire.

Of the ten selected ‘freshman’ only two show any real promise, J. Cole and Fashawn. Nipsey Hussle, Pill, OJ Da Juiceman, Wiz Khalifa, Big Sean, Freddie Gibbs, Jay Rock and Donnis make up the rest. XXL declares these to be a 'new breed of hustlers' which clearly focus's on the larger than life personality of the act's, rather than the music. The list's saving grace is twenty-one year old Fashawn. A young emcee showing lyrical ability far beyond his years. Particularly eye-catching are his lyrics on “Stars”;

“When I was young, I figured if I became the stars
Maybe they wouldn't seem as far
Maybe I wouldn't dream as hard.

Wanna stop, but all I hear is that applause
I'm addicted to the energy it causes
I wanna relive it every minute, that star-dom

Know I'm a shine despite all of my hardships
I consider them lessons instead of losses.
My old Nikes wouldn't fit, so I tossed 'em
They wasn't fit for the fire I had to walk through
A lot of disappointments, a lot of promises
A lot of niggas fell off, they lack confidence.

They had a dream but didn't know how to conquer it
It's not your accomplishments, it's what's inside of us

A star is a star and it shines regardless
Of the money and the fame, it's what's in your heart
So many stars”

The limited rappers selected should learn to write lyrics with meaning like Fashawn. Bar him and J. Cole the cover promotes artists which are simplistic and void of imagination. When I first heard “O.J. Da Juiceman” I taught it was a parody of garbage rap music. Unfortunately, he’s for real. Surely declaring someone to be the future of hip-hop should require skills? Yet OJ is the lyrical equivalent of a whinging toddler proclaiming to be richer and more successful than his competitors.

So who should have made the list? Dom Kennedy and XV are emcees who although not perfect, deserve recognition ahead of talentless loud mouths. All we can do as fans is support new acts like Homecut and choose to ignore the 'stuck in the past' selections of magazines such as XXL. No wonder Pack FM hates rappers. Hip-hop should have a bar of quality set high. We should honour timeless creations which expand the mind, forget a bunch of actors trying to sell you an image.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Interview With Pack FM

Pack FM's debut album “whutduzFMstand4?” won UGHH album of the year in 2006. Four years later, May 2010 see's the release of the Brooklyn native's second solo-lp. As one of the underground's most crtically acclaimed artists it's great to see him take some time out for hip-hop 4 the people.

Questions i asked Pack FM:

1 After a long wait for your second album, what should fans expect?

2 Are you hoping to gain success on a mainstream level or looking to appeal to a more underground following?

3 How do you explain the difference to people between emcees and rappers?

4 Which other forms of music do you draw influence from when creating new material?

5 If you could work with any artist past or present who would it be?

6 What are your earliest memories of hip hop?

7 What is your favourite song you've recorded?

8 If you weren’t an emcee which career would you choose?

9 And finally have you any plans to tour outside the U.S.?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Nas & Damien Marley - Distant Relatives: Album Review

*this review took a long time to write, if you use it, credit me* (c) Patrick Lane.

Release Date: May 18th, Universal Republic/Def Jam


‘Distant Relatives’ is a concept album which says that we are all brothers on this planet, it is also a reference to the relationship between the two men, who despite their differences share so many things in common. Nas and Damien Marley have a chemistry seldom seen in collaborating artists. Their flow bounces off each other, transcending cultural boundaries. This album is a spiritual experience. The songs serve a purpose; to enrich the soul.

Nas and Damien come from backgrounds which allows them to speak on issues in way’s other artists couldn’t. It gives an authentic feel to the lyrics which are seeped in history and politics. “As We Enter” opens the album with real swagger, the lyrics boast of the artist’s credentials while reflecting street ethics. “Tribes At War” sees the introduction of K’Naan, an African emcee who’s fast becoming one of the most exciting talent’s of his generation. The song has a military feel to it, which is a continuous theme on “Strong Will Continue”.

These are lyrics which promote the prosperity of the African people. The songs tend to criticise greed and corruption, “Leaders” features Stephen Marley and denounces political oppression. While “Friends” discusses the values of companionship. The most prominent message in the opening part of the album is the strength of warfare and knowledge in overcoming oppressive situations. The artists themselves act as guides to a better standard of living.

“Count Your Blessings” is an expression of a humble reality. It’s a positive mantra for the listener to focus on. It touches on positive thoughts in the face of adversities. Nas and Damien are clearly well educated and use their voice to champion the cause of the poor. “Dispear” is a revolutionary vision, a commentary on corrupt ruling classes and the power we can have through knowledge and action. The song plays like a call to arms for the oppressed to rise up.

“Land Of Promise” is about cultural empowerment, a dream for a better Africa. One where the kingdoms former glory is restored. This album looks to uplift the youth with messages real to everyday life. The gospel feel of this work makes the LP at times very moving. “In His Own Words” gives praise to God through tough conditions. The struggles of ghetto life are comforted through Marley’s lyrics “Jah told you, in his own words, I’ll see you through.” The artists although speaking on things real to them, speak for entire nations with their ideology.

“Patience” in the words of the artists is a discovery of the world before this world. There are so many layers to these lyrics that they can be studied at length with many things to be got from the messages. As Nas declares “this is for all the knowledge seekers in the world” the song questions whether science really has all the answers. One of the more criticised moves of the LP was to include Joss Stone and the dreaded Lil’ Wayne on “My Generation”, amazingly he dosn’t manage to ruin the song which exceeds expectations.

Although I would have preferred a feature from someone like Talib Kweli I can just about stomach his presence. Clearly the purpose of the music is to elevate their own race and heritage yet they are sure to be all inclusive in their message. As the human race holds its origins in Africa we can all be considered ‘distant relatives’. With that in mind, unity is a strong element of the music, ‘We are all sons of Africa’, proclaims Nas on “Africa Must Wake Up”. It features a return for K’naan and is the perfect ending to a classic album.

“Can you blame my generation? Subjected to gentrification!
Depicting their frustrations over ill instrumentation.
‘Cause music is the way to convey to you what I’m facing,
Placing my life in front of your eyes for your observation”


Nas on “My Generation”


Besides being award-winning artists in their own right, Nas and Damien Marley are sons of famous musicians. Nas is the son of jazz musician Olu Dara, while Damien’s father needs no introduction. The influences of such rich family trees can be felt through the sounds of ‘Distant Relatives’. Damien’s brother Stephen handles a lot of the production, with the two brothers working with Nas to create a hybrid of reggae and hip-hop. As the theme of the album is to honour Africa, plenty of African sounds mix with the already unique styles of Nas and Damien.

The lead single and opening track “As We Enter” is the most straight forward hip-hop beat, an up tempo club banger. “Tribal War” uses African chanting and drums, the first glimpse of the albums exploration into the sounds of Africa. A heart-beat with piano chords set off a chain gang vibe to “Strong Will Continue”. A heavy track that uses guitars for a big impact. In comparison, “Leaders” incorporates a more acoustic aesthetic to complement the drum filled opening of the album.

African vocals set the intro for “Friends”, which is darker than previous songs. Nas and Damien seem at ease over both dark and head-nodding beats which is a strength of their music. “Count Your Blessings” is a cheerful acoustic complementary to Damien’s smooth singing voice. The album at times has a frantic feel which adds to the cinematic vibes of the songs, as is noticeable on “Dispear”.

“Land Of Promise” is pure dub-step reggae which sees Damien Marley at his very best. His singing abilities allows him to switch between styles with ease. The versatility of the music makes for unpexeceted jewels. “In His Own Words” uses a gently strung guitar and hand claps with gospel vocals to create a spiritual piece. It plays as a heavenly glimpse of the positive sounds of ‘Distant Relatives’.

The album has no songs which you'd want to skip. The cohesive nature of the records makes for a fully immersing LP. This is all the more admirable given the changing nature of sounds which come together to form 'Distant Relatives'. "Nah Mean" is one of the more straigth forward hip-hop booming beats which complements the come down of "Patience". The songs set up the grand finale perfectly:

"My Generation" is simply quite a beautiful moment on the album, a choir of children accompanied by Joss Stone sing the chorus, while Nas and Damien rap over a slightly harder piano beat. Lil’ Wayne must have borrowed Nas’s rhyme book to write a genuinely inspiring ending verse.

The album concludes with “Africa Wake Up” featuring the return of K’Naan. A poignant message told through violins and laid back piano sounds. Nas describes this album as “world music”, a sound which crosses the boundaries of genres. With the help of Jamaican musicians and production by the Marley brothers, a fresh sound for 2010 will be a long time remembered.



The most anticipated hip-hop album of the year delivers. This is the best rapper alive combing with one of music's best creative sparks, a must have record.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

H.E.L.P. - Hip Hop Educational Literacy Program

Imagine if your school teacher was an emcee and the subject he taught was hip-hop. Well for some lucky students, that dream is now a reality, because Asheru teaches in Washington DC. For 13 years he has taught as well as produced incredible hip-hop music. And after feeling aggrieved with the education system failing to connect with the youth, he has created H.E.L.P. standing for "Hip Hop Educational Literacy Program".

His idea was simple, to engage students with books filled with their favourite hip-hop lyrics and therefore they will get the oppurtunity to learn important tools like literacy analysis. Asheru is sure to pick songs and artists of the highest calibre such as Nas and Common. While the books themselves have been endorsed by Krs-One (pictured above with Asheru) and Dr. Cornel West of Princeton University. NBC recently picked up the story:

View more news videos at:

Aside from making a real difference to the youth, Asheru's music is critically acclaimed by fans of underground hip-hop. He wrote and performed the theme song for the popular 'Boondocks' cartoon. While many proclaim his debut LP "Soon Come" to be a classic album. Recently Asheru released a stand alone single which featured an emcee from South Africa as part of his project to unify hip-hop globally. Here you can listen to Asheru (verse 3) on his brand new single 'Love On The Go':

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Panacea - 12 Step Program: Review

Released: May 4th Independently.

Purchase: Online

So the new Panacea album is here. The fifth in the series, up until now they've had a near perfect discography, can they do it again? Producer K-Murdock sent me the advance last week so I took my time over this one. I decided to break the review down into two parts, themes and sounds. So here it is:


This album is a celebration of life. An exploration into the soul of mankind. Each track represents a step, a new adventure with a lesson to be learnt. In many ways, the songs on show represent the values of the emcee Raw Poetic who expresses himself through philosophical poetry over beats.

To really get a sense of Panacea (meaning the cure for everything), you must pay attention to the lyrics of each track. In my interview with K-Murdock last month he told us that Panacea always try to create stories through songs. To let these tracks sail over your head lyrically would be to miss out on the stories.

Everybody will take what they want from the records. My own feeling is that the LP teaches us that life is short and finding your true identity by letting go of worldly influences is key to achieving your hopes and dreams. It might sound a bit pretentious, but if you approach it with an open mind you will hear the purity in the music.


4. Sync-in City - A song with a double meaning. It questions the reliance some people have on their towns, proclaiming identity should be found outside of maps. It's also a humorous reference to the fact Washington was built on a swamp and every year it sinks just a little.

5. Blue Oceanwave - The theme of this song is removing your soul of all harmful influences. We go on an adventure to the ocean were our character baths away all of his demons after owning up to his faults and failings.

11. Immortal - It seems to be the mind set which our character recovering from past troubles eventually reaches. It's a state of being which allows the soul to live on through eternal influence and memories.

I find it amusing that Raw P says he has no time for religion, when he may have just created one :)


Sonically, K-Murdock is way ahead of the game here. There is a tremendous cohesion to each track which makes the album fantastically replayable. In an age of short attention spans and mixtapes this LP demands you play it all the way through.

"The Long Pull" is the curtain raiser for what your about to hear. Murdock combines soft snare drums with relaxing chords of the piano. The raw hip hop element comes back in with a sample of Rakim's "Been A Long Time". Whilst track two is the head nodding "Collard-Fried Grey Sky", this song has a party element to it and is a candidate for hip hop song of the year.

Murdock makes full use of the equipment available to him in "Stumble Home". He employs a range of obscure electronic noises to make the song work. Each contrasting sound achieves an awesome balance, which is testament to Murdock's skills as a producer.

"Sync-in City" is another classic, the ambient intro sets the tone for the laid back feel of the music. Whilst track five "Blue Oceanwave" is full of waves crashing and crazy sound effects alongside a funky bass line. Murdock admits to using more synth's on this album than any other which is evident on the tracks that follow.

The album climaxes with real celebratory tones on "Revolution World Crazy" which some people have compared to G-Funk. But it's track eleven "Immortal" that steals the show, the first time I heard this I taught of it as a possible lead single, apart from it being insanely catchy it manages to encompass all of that unique Panacea sound.

No wonder this album was released on Raw P's birthday, the whole thing feels like a celebration of triumphant hip hop music. If you close your eyes you can almost hear the fireworks. The last song is "Incubator Purgatory", a mellowed out conclusion to a bombardment of colour.

HH4TP Official Rating:

* * * * *

I have to give this five stars, a lot of us bloggers find it hard not turning our posts into Panacea tribute pages. Along with Blu & Exile, Panacea can do no wrong right now and it'll take a great effort to beat this for album of the year. Nas & Damien, it's over to you.....

MF Grimm Visits College

MF Grimm a.k.a Percy Carey took some time out last week to talk to students in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. The students of Rider University were treated to a lecture from Grimm in which he discussed overcoming great adversities to become a successful writer and emcee.

In 2007, Grimm released his first graphic novel detailing his life. "Sentences: The Life of MF Grimm" was nominated for two Eisner Awards, which are considered the most prestigious awards in the comic book industry. His life itself reads like something striaght out of a comic book, he's survived been shot, grew up next door to Morgan Freeman and while serving in prison he studied law and managed to launch a case which saw him set free.

A lot of people think of Doom when this man's name is brought up, the two were once friends and long-time collaborators. Yet anyone familiar with the lives of the two men would know that Doom has resorted to cheating fans out of their money with fake shows while Grimm spends time putting back into the community.

Part two of his novel is expected this month along with new music to follow up his classic album "The Hunt For The Gingerbread Man". Below is a link to my favourite Grimm track of all time "Scars & Memories", the lyrics to this are truly special as he wrote it from his hospital bed after finding out he will be paralysed for the rest of his life following the shooting incident.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Concert Review: Gil Scott-Heron

Gil came out to a deafening applause, no fanfare or music to welcome him, just picking up the microphone, he opened up by saying "when your as good as me, you don't need no introduction, you just come out!", and with that he set the tone for the evening, when this man talks he commands respect, the grandfather of hip-hop music, the room hushes up to hear his every word.

Not knowing what to expect, the crowd were treated to a comedy routine from Gil, amusingly he touched on topics such as the difficulites of touring Europe during the time of a freak volcano eruption & the reasons why he dosn't like Black History Month. After giving Richard Pryor a run for his money, he sat down to the piano. He then performed an old African piece and songs from the early part of his career.

This led neatly into him being joined on stage by his fellow musicians, when the celebrations really began. Oddly, he seemed to ignore songs from his new album "I'm New Here". Those who came expecting to hear "Me & The Devil" (vid below) or "New York Is Killing Me", were instead introduced to some jazzy style songs from the 70's. Not that the majority of the room seemed to care, the average age was over 30 and all felt the vibes Gil was creating.

One hilarious part of the show was Gil commenting on hip hop artist's and their tendency to sample him, "I didn't know i'd been sampled by Tupac Shakur, Kanye West, a real cool brother called Common and others so i had to run home to listen to it when people told me, all i taught was.... sh!t sounds the same to me!" a memeber of the audience then shouted out "and Mos Def!" to which Gil replied "hey... Sh!t happens".

Also absent from the show were some of his well known poetry readings such as "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" & "Whitey On The Moon". Ending with much loved classic "The Bottle", he then came out for an encore to delight of a much excited audience.

Gil Scott-Heron - "Me And The Devil" from Adam F. on Vimeo.

Gil Scott-Heron Live In Tripod

Me & my friend Shane took these photos at last night's Gil Scott gig in Tripod:

Thursday, April 29, 2010

M.I.A. Video Banned

The video for M.I.A.'s latest single "Born Free" has been banned from youtube for it's violent and shocking content. Created by controverstial music director Romain-Gavras, at 9 minutes long the video makes for gruesome viewing. The concept of the song is to question the truth of our freedom in democracies such as the U.S. Who is really 'Born Free' with such heavey military and government control at work?

The video focus's on an out of control army rounding up those who are different, in this case people with red hair, and sending them off to a military camp to be brutally murdered. My own take on this is that the video is a reference to America's war's in Vietnam and Iraq and the little justification for such actions.

M.I.A, Born Free from ROMAIN-GAVRAS on Vimeo.

Anyone familar with Romain's work will already be aware of his ability to shock and horrify fans, he was the director for electro act Justice's "Stress" video (below), in which a gang of thugs set about carrying out random acts of law-breaking and thievery.

Jus†ice, Stress from ROMAIN-GAVRAS on Vimeo.

A lot of people argue on wheter or not these videos promote violence, personally i feel the director is using his artistic vision to create thought provoking pieces which don't hide from any uncomfortable truths about the world around us.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

How The Record Industry Works

Like everything in life, once something becomes popular, people will figure out a way to make money from it. In order to understand why mainstream hip-hop is in the state that it’s in, you need to have an understanding of how the record industry works. Ask yourself what the goal of a record label is and who exactly calls the shots? Here is a diagram of a typical set-up of a record label:

At the top sits the record company president, notice just below to the right of him is a stack of money, representing 'business affairs', this is because he is essentially a business man concerned with making money through music. Typically, he will be a white male with little interest in the arts but a strong knowledge of business and how to run a successful company. Think Simon Cowell. Just below the boss and his business men are a team of college graduates which the men at the top use to sell their products on ground levels.

It is the A & R’s job to sign new acts. He works in conjunction with the promoters and marketing department. Notice the term artist development listed beside promotion. In recent years, the name of this section has been changed to "product development". It is a fact that all major labels see their acts as products to be sold. Now If your wondering why hip-hop is producing poor yet best-selling artists in the mainstream you have to question the motives and decisions of the A & R‘s.

It is their intention to sign puppets that will produce songs which can be marketed at a young, impressionable audience. The best way to do this is by selecting acts which can give teens unattainable goals. The majority of hip-hop acts signed on major labels are made to look tough, rich and rebellious; everything that a young male may wish to be. The product then becomes something the listener will continuously purchase in the hope he can emulate the lifestyles of the act.

Nightclubs, radio stations, music channels and concert promoters all form unspoken pacts with the record labels. This is why just a small amount of acts receive all the air play. No-one would say Lady Gaga is the best singer of her generation yet her constant promotion means she is played more than all other pop acts. The end result is that casual music listeners assume the most played and talked about acts represent the best of their genre.

The truth is hip-hop music is a culture formed by people on the streets. In it’s original form it wasn’t created for making money, rather it was created by us and for us. The talentless acts you see on television are the record companies picks for the biggest money makers. They are moulded pawns of rich white men, often the early careers of these artists don’t resemble anything like the finished version you see on music television. This is because now they have been reshaped to fit the system, i.e. the product has been developed.

Bryan Williams (I won’t bother promoting his on stage persona) runs a subsidiary label of rap music to which he signed his son Dwayne Carter. Dwayne is the ultimate moulded rap star, he was brought up by his father to act, behave and live a certain lifestyle which could be percieved glamorous. An A & R’s dream, the label 'Cash Money Records' is under the ownership of Universal Records. Pictured on the left below is Doug Morris, boss of Bryan Williams and Dwayne Carter.

In this video Bryan talks about his philosophy with regards to hip-hop, it promotes a lifestyle which his boss Doug hopes you buy into:

So to sum up this video, here is Doug's product telling us he dosn't give a fuck about music, the only thing he cares about is money.

As people we have to stop supporting this joke of a system, if you search hard enough you will find the artists the record labels don't want you to know about. People who make honest music to uplift, inspire and educate.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Concert Review: Digable Planets

90's Jazz-Hop group Digable Planets are an example of what people refer to when they talk about wanting hip-hop to be like the old school. Back then the focus of groups such as this was on THE MUSIC, something that the mainstream eventually lost focus on. Their blend of Jazz and uplifiting hip-hop was ground breaking at the time and remains still at the forefront of this exciting sub-genre.

They appeal now to hip-hop heads who refuse to buy into today's garbage and are marginalised to small crowds such as the room in Crawdaddy. Brought in by promoters Choice Cuts at 24 euro a ticket, some people may question a price like this for a group who havn't released any new material since the 90's. However like R.A.T.M. these cult bands are very much in demand due to a select audience of avid listeners.

Support act UGO was first to open up the show and while i didn't expect much, i was actually quite impressed with his thought provoking lyrics and ability to hype up the crowd. He even covered a version of the Oasis classic "Champagne Supernova" which worked very well.

Step up Ladybug Mecca, Doodlebug and Butterfly aka Digable Planets. They started with some striaght classics from their debut album "Reachin'", changing the words of 'Pacific' from 'New York is..' to 'Dublin is red hot'. Incrediblly, nearly 20 years after it's release all three members retained their silky smooth flows. The show was interrupted briefly to fix a problem with Ladybug's microphone and then it was back to the music.

Doodlebug encouraged the audience to ignore race, colour and creeds and join forces under one new hip-hop flag. With plenty of cannabis in the air, Digable Planets were in their element feeding off the crowds energy. Performing for a near two hours they broke into much loved material from their second album "Blowout Comb". Even dedicating some songs to the recently passed Guru. They then finished with their trademark record 'Rebirth Of Slick' which got the biggest cheer of the night.

All in all these intimate gigs make for cracking concerts and i would recommend anyone to fork out the money if their looking for a good time. Let's just hope for some new material from the group soon.