In Miles Davis’ autobiography, the jazz legend states that the 1960′s marked the decline and depreciation for jazz music, the apparent death of a culture. Words from music critcs and people’s urge to move was what sparked the popularity of rock ‘n’ roll and the Motown Sound in the 60′s, sparking the revolution that included less brass horns and more vocal ones. People wanted more with music and they got it, leaving jazz to be something for the old and boring folks. The only jazz that was popular around this time, according to Davis, was jazz music that was more “free” and less structured like jazz music of the previous decade. Improvisation was heavy and going outside of the musical staffs was what excited people of this era. Among these artists that have embraced the “new thing,” the “free form,” were Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, and John Coltrane, an already a developed jazz musician from around the way.
During this period, John Coltrane believed that his best music came from a spiritual vibe, bringing about a spiritual attitude to his music. It was a way to say that his greatest musical efforts are escalated by forces that are unseen, in a sense that he subconsciously comes up with the music he ends up with. Digging deep within, if you may, a sense of spiritual expression. An elevated creative imagination that would be highlighted in his work until his death in ’67. With the help of this “free form” and his dedicated religious beliefs, Coltrane came up with some of the most legendary pieces that jazz as a genre has come to offer. One of those pieces were the four parts that builds up his finest work, A Love Supreme, released in 1964. With this album, Coltrane shows that jazz has came a long way. In the many changes that have been highlighted through the past century, jazz has grown into a true art. A Love Supreme ensures this.
According to Miles Davis, John Coltrane’s album wasn’t an album, it was a prayer. Not even in the sense of being a gospel – this was clearly jazz music – but in the sense of revitalizing religious gratitude that was faded in years of alcoholism and being strung out on heroin complemented with stardom that wasn’t asked for. Broken down into four parts, ALS displays the aesthetics of jazz with Coltrane’s talent on the saxophone and the newfound “free form” that has taken over the genre. You can hear the how free Coltrane is with notes hitting every angle from start to finish in “Acknowledgement.” Nothing aligns with anything. You have your percussion and your brass, now let’s just jam and make the most of it. No more succumbing to the one-two modal vibe that was seen in Miles Davis’ classic Kind of Blue effort, it was all about going with what your heart was desiring and Coltrane was one of the best to do this. Vocalizing the saxophone whereas the listener was actually paying attention to what it has to say rather than just vibing out to it. This was his call to a higher being in the form of speaking a language that he was fluent in: music. The results came out beautiful and you are left with A Love Supreme, the precursor to this newfound sense of expression that would later be emphasized in years to come, where it was all about expressing yourself, whether spiritual or however you want to call it. The greatest music comes from within. Word to the Trane.
Remember Goonie? He was the rapper I’ve featured on here more than twice, you know, when I was actually an active and dedicated blogger and had a knack for putting niggas on. He had that one web series and a couple of tracks that was featured on here. Well, since my hiatus, Mr. Burrito made a significant transition from music to fashion, developing a brand with some folks called New Youth. Now when I first saw “NY ’12″ on his Twitter avi eons back, I thought the dude got registered to NYU (the banner was purple, I was jealous for a moment, son). But when I saw the term “New Youth” being thrown around and retweeted, it all made sense and him confirming an upcoming clothing brand, it all made more sense. So now I’m here writing another feature on Goonie, this time on a fashion tip. It’s about to be summer (in some areas, this is already the case) and for those who have no idea of what New Youth is and complains about how hot it is, this is the post for you to embrace, for Burrito and Co. provides you with an addition to the Spring/Summer catalog, featuring the white tank top with a camo layer boxed logo and a black tank top with an abbreviated stamped logo showered over buttocks. It’s all in the pictures below, courtesy of the good fellas at New Youth themselves.
Like what you see? Yes, the tank tops (well, if that influences you into purchasing, that works too). Well, these exclusive tanks are going on live for presale now and start shipping on the 7th of May, so yes, go ahead and check that out now. Both in black and white, unisex and at a decent price too. A good investment for a long summer. Make sure to stay posted with New Youth as well.
Last night, after wars with self for not being able to catch sight of the documentary highlighting the paths and travels of A Tribe Called Quest, I finally managed to find Beats, Rhymes and Life online. A documentary directed by Michael Rapaport, this documentary highlights the history and inside scope of my favorite rap group, a rap group that is found to be one of the greatest rap groups of all time. Innovative, creative, different, A Tribe Called Quest has proven to provide a stepping stone for rappers (even myself) to be true to oneself and never let a genre limit one from being different. I can really say that there’s De La Soul to thank for that, but hey, who are we really talking about here? The fusion of jazz and samples, the play on words, the brilliant combination of Tip’s smooth delivery and Phife’s high-pitched tone, the fun, the vibes, these things highlight everything that make A Tribe Called Quest a spectacular asset to hip hop as a culture.
The documentary itself has proven to clarify that impact. It’s been a hell of a journey for the four members, but it was a journey well-taken that has lasted from early childhood to 1998 with attempts to relive the journey well into the New Millennium. People have always wondered why Tribe has broken up the way they did. Well, this film was around to answer such questions and bash any speculations. A standout in the film included the inside scoop of our beloved rap act, with complications that have risen since Midnight Marauders that still surface to this day, eventually leading to the breakup in the first place. Though it does seem that film embraces the negative vibes that have poisoned the group, it does nothing but make it clear as to why things went down the way they did. With each member expressing themselves with how they feel about each other, the inside incidents, the film does nothing but express the truth behind such matters. I’m not a fan of drama, but you can only handle so much curiosity. Sorry, Tip, I understand how much you don’t like the film, but Rapaport had some good stuff here.
The documentary itself was well worth watching. Great editing, footage usage, valued interviews and lack of narration. It reassured the value that I’ve placed on ATCQ, my very first favorite music act and still is to this day. I’m actually listening to Beats, Rhymes & Life writing this. Though the negativity that has surfaced around the group made a bulk of the film, the positive stuff still stood out and made me love Tribe even more than ever. Digging deep into why A Tribe Called Quest is so great, getting into the history of every album they have made, the environment surrounding how it was made, what it was like, that kind of stuff, and even the music being played. An all-around good documentary. Not like any documentary is even horrible, but this is for hip hop. This is a documentary for the hip hop head to see. A group with as much impact as Tribe deserves this type of tribute. Apparently, they still have a six-album contract with Jive Records that has yet to be fulfilled. Will it be fulfilled, we may never know.
I know, eye no, aie nough. I’m fronting again, but bear with me, I love my website a lot. I’m just on trip mode. Blame college, hopeless romanticism and content from a beloved creation for that. At least give me the decency to attempt to make a brief comeback to let y’all know that a new affiliation is amongst us. The brainchild of a good friend of mine from around the way, Taylor Polydore, and company from the University of Illinois, The Stoop Ent. is an outlet we need to highlight the talent that has been bestowed upon our generation on the come up. They just featured your boy and Cyde on that shit too. Swaggy, young niggas runnin’ the game. But yeah, y’all should totally check out that piece. Taylor’s up there making some moves and you guys will be one of the first to take part in something that’ll be very dope in the future, so click that picture to peep game. We out here! Gone.
PS. Be sure to check out the “Links” section on the left hand side for other affiliations. They ain’t on there for decoration.
Quite fitting title for a new update on this blog. My good friend, Toby Darling, particularly known as Scottie for the project’s sake, drops his debut EP entitled The Detour for the listeners and thinkers. Really good stuff and a story one can link to. Detours can be rough, but why stop? Click that image to download.
It’s about that time. January 20, 2012 is the date that I’ll have in thought for the rest of my life. In the future, which is very bright, you’ll see why. It’s funny though. Around this time last year, I had intentions of dropping something of an EP. I had the concept, the direction, the drive, the creativity, the title, a fucking set date, and none of it surfaced. I decided to let the project go. I wasn’t going to rush myself to make what I felt would be five half-good tracks. Nah, I wasn’t going out of my way to do that. Not at all. Will I make it in the future? Nah, probably not. Will there be elements of what could’ve made this EP? Sure, probably, but why bother?
Before the start of my summer vacation of the same year, my friend, Edwin Cordova, whom I made “Spiel” (which we actually recorded exactly, if not, almost a year ago) with, insisted that we should put our lyrical skills to the test by making a collaborative EP. Of course I was down. I thought it would be something to make up for the missing project that I thought I’d be cooking up. Besides, what better than to work side by side with Edwin (we’ll call him Cyde), one of the very few rappers from Clarksville, Tennessee who was actually up there lyrically? Like my missing EP, we had the concept, the title (that I came up with after catching sight of my aunt’s license plate, 1D3RY), the direction, the drive and creativity, and we even had instrumentals to rap on, which included three MF Doom instrumentals and two Flying Lotus ones, making it a five-track effort. We were set, we just needed the lyrics. The thing was, however, I was in Virginia for most of the summer, so I couldn’t work on it immediately, but I did see this as an opportunity to compose some lyrics for it, in which I did. I ended up coming up with three raps, one that would end up being “Flounder Filet Delight,” and just needed to come up with more to fill the void for this tentative EP. Coming back from VA, I had those raps prepared, while struggling to come up with more, and was ready to record with Cyde, who also had a couple prepared. Now if it wasn’t for college that was coming around the corner by the time I got back home, we would’ve had more done, but we ended up with one song called “Eucalyptus,” which was over the Doom beat of the same title. Sighs. Another setback for what could’ve been a great project.
Now in college, and completely out of touch with the will to make music, I ended up recording the last of my few good raps, which ended up being “Flounder Filet Delight,” in the dimensions of my apartment bedroom on campus, only to proceed doing nothing more. People were willing to work with me. Nothing really came through, except for an appearance on Toby Darling’s EP, which I’ve yet to rerecord. Even Cyde stopped rapping, but see, he ended up taking his hand at producing, which would soon bring about the writing edge that I’ve abandoned for a good minute. During the semester, I decided to not even think about dropping any more projects, I’ll just drop some low-end shit for the future. You know, demos, compilations, just shit that I can consider throwaways when I actually put the dedication into an “official project.” I was tired of thinking of the idea of official projects, when I’m not following through with, but it didn’t stop me from writing. I ended up writing different songs, most of them being one well-developed verse, this time with the beautiful vibe of Cyde’s instrumentals. I felt the need to grow and branch out lyrically. Talk about shit, whether random or an element of my life, polish my craft, all that good shit, and the instrumentals were just the way to do that. For some reason, I felt this was Cyde’s intention to get me back on track. The instrumentals were great. This guy has only made beats for like a few months and just gets better every week. You can just hear it. The hard-hitting drums and the unique sampling. This nigga is fucking sampling. We’re talking from loops to compositions. People have said that they’ve been making beats since they were twelve, I can only imagine what Cyde’s shit would be like in three years. I don’t think I could handle it. No need for me to rave too much about them because you’ll hear it for yourself, but just know that the raps I ended up constructing ended up being recorded during Christmas Break after my first semester of college.
Three sessions, each one better than the last, over the span of the last two weeks of my winter break. It took Cocoa Dyno-Bites, Miles Davis’ autobiography, classic music selections, old movies and Cyde’s willingness to work with me to put my shit together to make this project. This wasn’t even intended to be a project at first, but hey, it works. When you download it, it’ll be called Wondery EP, yet it has ten tracks, though the time limit is eligible. Call it what you want: EP, album, mixtape, whatever. I’m going to call this an experience, a thought, a progression, an idea of growth, a something your mom would love. I called it what I was going to call the collaborative five-track joint that was supposed to be done last August, which is funny because it’s still a collaborative effort between the same two people, just different from what was thought of. I’m going to call it Wondery. You may ask what it is. Well, you just read what it was not too long ago. Thank you. Enjoy.
I love the 90′s. Aside from the fact that I was born during this decade (1993 is what matters), the 90′s is shown proof to be one of the greatest decades to ever go down in the 20th Century. The fast-paced, zany lifestyles ranging from fashion, music, television, movies and anything that has seen the light in pop culture references, the 90′s was a heavy hitter when discussing eras. If I had a wish, I would want to live during this decade at my current age. Imagine. Something worth talking about to my kids, ya know? As a hip hop head, this was heaven in a nutshell, and how much would I like to get a taste of that experience, right? I’ve wanted it so much that I’ve managed to dig for material on the Internet just to get the essence of this decade. I’ve been caught up doing things like searching rips from shows on YouTube, making a primary source out of my mother to get a glimpse of life in this decade, and even coming across digitized rips of radio shows and mixtapes via cassette tapes. This is where technology of the 21st Century becomes truly valuable.
The first thing I’ve dug up was an old Funkmaster Flex mixshow from hip hop’s infamous powerhouse, Hot 97, live from April 16, 1993. Want to find an old Flex mixshow? The Flex without the driving shoe? The Flex without the bomb droppings? Search Google and this would most likely be the particular show that pops up. Hearing this was a whole new experience for me. I’ve got the taste of what radio was like in the 90′s: worth listening to. I imagine being a New Yorker just chilling on the stoop on a Friday and turning on the boombox to tune into Flex’s Friday Night Street Jams at seven o’ clock. Please believe this would be one of the most exciting moments to ever start up a weekend. This is where parties can truly jump off, where all one can possibly do to find music was turn on the radio. Funk Flex was your man to turn the party out. Mashups, classic hits that knock, famed rappers dropping shoutouts, and even live freestyles were what made this rip so special. Hearing Michael Jackson’s vocals from “Remember the Time” on top of Chubb Rock’s “Treat ‘Em Right” will never happen on radio again.
Another rip I came across was an episode of The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show broadcasted live on June 10, 1993 from Columbia University’s own, WKCR 89.9 FM. Thinking about the upcoming rappers I listen to now, this definitely would’ve been my type of show. A college student with a deck of blank cassette tapes to record the show that ran from 1 in the morning to 5, eastern standard time, ready to catch the wave in my walkman while walking from class to class. This was on a completely different level from Funk Flex’s mixshow. This was on a college radio station, this aired during the “safe harbor” hours, so profanity was seldom censored, this included rappers that were up and coming dropping by for interviews and freestyle drops (most of them that have set out to become some of the biggest names in hip hop today), new records that weren’t getting play were getting play, demos, it was just everything a satellite radio show wish they could’ve thought of. This one included mixes from DJ Stretch Armstrong and the host, Bobbito Garcia, a dynamic duo, Black Moon dropping by, and news of a Puerto Rican Day Parade. Great stuff that has me itching for more. If only radio could be like this today.
The last find of mine were a couple of Ron G tapes. Ron G was a radio DJ, infamous for his mixtapes. I actually found one from my mother’s collection back then, and this is what brought me to trying to find them on the Web. The ones I ended up finding were called Double Trouble, a collaborative effort with Tripple C (1996) and a couple of other joints from around the same year, ’95 or earlier. Ron G was on the same level as Stretch and Bobbito. He was mixing tracks under the radar, like an upcoming Jay-Z’s “Politics as Usual” and “Dead Presidents.” One thing that made him stand out was his stand alone approach and appeal. If anything, he was the combination of Kid Capri, Flex, Stretch and Bobbito. Amazing comparison for those listening to his tapes while riding through the block in New York, ya know? Mixtapes today can never possess the flavor of a Ron G tape. Ask Nas and Phife Dawg.
So with this post, I elaborate on the beauty of cassette rips. These things are the hip hop head’s time machine. Put them in and you’re put in the zone that you want to be in if your appreciation for 90′s hip hop is up there like mine. All it takes is a search bar and you’re there. As much as I want to have stuff like this in my life span, I’m glad I was able to have the secondary experience.
As my month-long winter break comes to a close, I prepare myself to go back to the humbling campus of University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, with a new year and new possibilities ahead of me. I’ve grown to love these long breaks because one, they’re relaxing and settling, especially taking a break from sleeping on a bottom bunk in a dormitory and two, because it’s a period of introspection. That’s how I look at my breaks, a period of self-therapy and assurance with the help of a reliable iTunes library, a couple of good people like my mother, sister and a few friends, and realizations of my surroundings. Despite this break being lazy, it was also productive and something of a learning experience. I’ve watched a lot of movies, I’ve listened to a lot of good music, I’ve had my share of good experiences, I’ve read pages of Miles Davis’ autobiography and I’ve also did what I intended to do since months before the break: make music. I’ve recorded a total of six songs, with three about to be recorded later on this week, and I must say I have something great in my possession. With instrumentals made by my friend, Cyde, I’ve managed to compile some lyrics that have been scribed over the past few months and bring them into the light as I record them in the perimeters of my bedroom over these instrumentals with Cyde chilling in the cut ready to put his mix and master skills to the test. I must say, this break was pretty good, as I get ready to head back to Chattanooga, I pause and reflect on this period of Wondery. Yeah, that’s what it was. Wondery. You’re looking towards some light in a somewhat brighter future, Wiggs.