Hip hop & AOL: Lin-Manuel Miranda shares his influences for Hamilton's 'My Shot'

The entire Rotten Tomatoes interview (above) with Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda is terrific and insightful. But I was especially struck by the part where he shares the songwriting process for "My Shot." His influences were hip hop and the AOL dialup chime:

"I'm grabbing from the influences and paying homage to those influences."

screengrab via Rotten Tomatoes Read the rest

Kraftwerk's connection to R&B and black DJs in America

Pioneering hip hop musician Afrika Bambaataa's love for Kraftwerk is evidenced by his groundbreaking 1982 electro track "Planet Rock" (above). Indeed, Bambataaa's underground DJ sets in black nightclubs were a key point-of-entry into the United States for many international electronic musicians in the early 1980s, from Yellow Magic Orchestra to Gary Numan. I hadn't realized though that Kraftwerk readily acknowledged that it was a two-way musical conversation: Black American music, particularly R&B, was a massive influence on Kraftwerk's music. In The Wire, John Morrison writes:

In an interview with Dan Sicko, the late author of Techno Rebels: The Renegades Of Electronic Funk, former Kraftwerk percussionist Karl Bartos gives an essential statement on the influence of black R&B on the band's work: “We were all fans of American music: soul, the Tamla/Motown thing, and of course, James Brown. We always tried to make an American rhythm feel, with a European approach to harmony and melody.” When exploring the band’s early work, this rhythmic influence does occasionally peek its head up through their abstract sound. On “Tone Float” (the title track from founder members Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider-Esleben’s pre-Kraftwerk 1970 debut album as members of Organisation), the band can be heard experimenting with a rhythmic framework similar to the “Bo Diddley'' beat, the heavily accented drum pattern that dominated rock ’n’ roll in the 50s and early 60s. For their first release as Kraftwerk, the “Bo Diddley” beat remerges, albeit with an aggressive Jazz flair courtesy of drummer Charly Weiss providing the driving pulse for the the album’s ten minute closer “Vom Himmel Hoch”.

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The Library of Congress is launching an open-source archive of hip-hop samples dating back more than a century

Citizen DJ is the brainchild of Brian Foo, a 2020 Innovator-in-Residence Program at the U.S. Library of Congress. The goal of the project is simple: to provide free audio and video samples to encourage creativity through remixing. Or, in Foo's words:

Cultivate the creation of new and transformative music using free-to-use audio and video materials from the Library. Connect the general public with culturally significant, underutilized, and free-to-use audio and video collections available from the Library. Engage communities, such as secondary school students and amateur musicians, that may have a strong relationship with hip hop music, but little to no existing relationship with the Library or the Library’s materials. Provide the general public (in particular, those with little to no formal research training) with the tools and resources to navigate the United States copyright system in the context of sample-based music creation. Contribute to human-computer interaction research and best practices for search and discovery of large audio and video collections.

As for why, specifically, to take a DJ/hip-hop approach to this kind of project?

Today, collage-based hip hop as it existed in the golden age is largely a lost (or at best, a prohibitively expensive) artform.

I believe if there was a simple way to discover and access free-to-use audio and video material for music making, a new generation of hip hop artists and producers can maximize their creativity, invent new sounds, and connect listeners to materials, cultures, and sonic history that might otherwise be hidden from public ears.

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Right now: Watch this rapper attempting to freestyle for 33 straight hours for charity

San Francisco poet and musician Watsky is attempting to freestyle rap for 33 straight hours to raise money for the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund supporting musicians and music industry workers affected by COVID-19. From the YouTube page:

how does watsky pee? - he has a mic on his shirt, continues to rap, and pees standing up. how does watsky eat? - one of his cups is a strawberry smoothie.

View this post on Instagram

For those of you wondering what’s up, here’s what’s up ❤️

A post shared by W▵TSKY (@gwatsky) on May 5, 2020 at 12:01pm PDT

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The legend of Biggie Smalls' belt

In 1997, The Notorious B.I.G. (aka Biggie Smalls) visited the Manhattan offices of The Source, then the most influential hip hop publication in the world. Biggie was there for a photo shoot and took off his size 52 pleather belt to change clothes. He told Source writer Rigo “Riggs” Morales to hold on to the belt and he'd grab it later. Biggie forgot. A couple weeks later, Biggie was killed in a drive-by shooting. A few years later on his last day at the magazine, Riggs instructed the office's incoming resident, writer Aliya S. King, that Biggie's belt was never to leave that room. Over two decades, nine people were charged with keeping the belt safe Over at Level, King tells the tale of Biggie's belt and why it matters so much to her:

It didn’t feel like a monumental relic or symbol of hip-hop history. It wasn’t one of Big’s infamous Coogi sweaters or the Versace sunglasses that he wore or shouted out in his rhymes. It was a no-name brand size 52 belt. And yet, Riggs decided it needed to stay in that spot. “That belt doesn’t leave this office,” Riggs said to me.

I nodded.

“Not under any circumstances,” he continued. “It stays right there. Right on that hook. Unless Big himself comes here to get it, it doesn’t move.”

“I got it.”

“If you move offices or if you leave The Source, the belt stays here. You can tell the next person who moves in here.”

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Watch the 1983 breakdancing documentary that inspired the movie Breakin'

Directed by Topper Carew, "Breakin 'n' Enterin'" (1983) documented the Los Angeles B-boy scene emerging at Venice Beach and MacArthur Park's Radio-Tron nightclub. Keep your eyes peeled for a young Ice-T, Michael "Boogaloo Shrimp" Chambers, and Adolfo "Shabba-Doo" Quinones who all appeared the following year in Breakin'. The dancing in this documentary is much better than in the feature film though -- more complex, raw, and aggressive.

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Video: Gangstagrass's first live video: authentic bluegrass/hip-hop mashup

Rench writes, "Relix magazine just premiered this live video of Gangstagrass (previoulsy), the pioneers of authentically mixed bluegrass and hip-hop. The energy crackles on this captivating stage performance. Can't decide which is hotter, the emcees dynamic flow or the banjo and dobro players going into overdrive on the solos. Read the rest

Stephen Colbert connects hip hop song verses to Tolkien via Gilbert and Sullivan

Get a glimpse into Stephen Colbert's brilliant brain as he connects Chance the Rapper and Childish Gambino's "Favorite Song" to Lord of the Rings' "Song of Eärendil" via Gilbert and Sullivan's distinct rhythm. What a big ol' Tolkien nerd, he is! Read the rest

Watch this terrific video for a concept album of 15 one-minute songs

Tierra Whack created an album where each song's video can be published as an Instagram post. Watch Whack World in its entirety here. Read the rest

Watch Trump "endorse" Eminem back in 2004

In 2004, MTV aired the "Shady National Convention" to promote Eminem's satellite radio venture. The rapper's onetime pal Donald, acting as the “Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Cash,” introduced the real Slim Shady:

“When the Shady party called and told me there’s going to be a convention, I said it’s gotta be a really big one and it’s gotta be right here in New York because this is the best city anywhere in the world, am I right? Of course, I’m right. I’m always right. I’m Donald Trump, I’m always right...

“I know a winner when I see one, and Donald Trump is telling you right now Slim Shady is a winner... He’s got brains, he’s got guts and he’s got Donald Trump’s vote!”

Boy how things have changed. Below, the clip from Tuesday night's BET Hip Hop Awards:

(People) Read the rest

Wu-Tang Clan's Ghostface Killah launching cryptocurrency

Dennis Coles, aka Ghostface Killah of the Wu-Tang Clan, has co-founded a cryptocurrency company called Cream Capital. The name comes from the Wu-Tang Clan's 1993 jam C.R.E.A.M. ("Cash Rules Everything Around Me.") Apparently, the company now holds the trademark on the phrase "Crypto Rules Everything Around Me." Cream Capital is planning an initial coin offering on November 11 to raise $30 million. Apparently those tokens can be traded for Ether on the Etherium blockchain.

"Ghostface Killah is a longtime business partner of ours," Cream Capital co-founder/CEO Brett Wesbrook told Pigeons & Planes. "I personally connected with him during a Reddit AMA on /r/hiphopheads last year when he was seeking tech-inclined people to work with in future technology focused projects. Dennis is a very forward thinking person and has a keen interest in emerging technologies. It's hard to ignore blockchain tech today even when you're a busy, touring hip hop artist.

"He doesn't have any technical background with cryptocurrencies. However, remember that Wu-Tang is for the children. He is very focused on what the youth and millennials are interested in. He is a very solid businessman and has surrounded himself with bright individuals with a hunger for bring new, groundbreaking technologies to market...

"His work capacity will be laying out a framework for which cryptocurrencies are more familiar to everyday people." Read the rest

Forty years of hip hop masterfully cut up into one song

And if you don't know, now you know. (The Hood Internet)

Featuring:

2 Pac, 50 Cent, A Tribe Called Quest, Afrika Bambaataa, Audio Two, AZ, Beastie Boys, BG, Big Pun, Biz Markie, Black Rob, Black Sheep, Blackstreet, Bobby Shmurda, Boogie Down Productions, Busta Rhymes, Cali Swag District, Cam'ron, Chamillionaire, Chance The Rapper, Clipse, Common, Craig Mack, Cypress Hill, David Banner, De La Soul, Dead Prez, Digable Planets, Digital Underground, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, DJ Kool, DJ Quik & Kurrupt, DMX, Doug E Fresh, Dr. Dre, Drake, Eazy-E, Eminem, Eric B. & Rakim, Funky 4+1, Gang Starr, Geto Boys, Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, GZA, House of Pain, Ice Cube, J-Kwon, Jadakiss, Jay Electronica, Jay-Z, JJ Fad, Juvenile, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Kid Cudi, KRS-One, Lauryn Hill, Lil Jon & The Eastside Boys, Lil Kim, Lil Troy, Lil Wayne, LL Cool J, Ludacris, Madvillain, MC Shan, Meek Mill, MF DOOM, Missy Elliott, Mobb Deep, Montell Jordan, MOP, Nas, Naughty By Nature, Nelly, Nicki Minaj, Notorious BIG, NWA, Ol Dirty Bastard, Outakst, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, Petey Pablo, Pharaohe Monch, Public Enemy, Puff Daddy, Quad City DJs, Rich Boy, Rick Ross, Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock, Run-DMC, Salt N Pepa, Scarface, Schoolly D, Sir Mix-A-Lot, Skee-Lo, Slick Rick, Snoop Dogg, Soulja Boy, Sugarhill Gang, T La Rock, T-Wayne, T.I., Terror Squad, The Fat Boys, The Fatback Band, The Fugees, The Game, The Pack, The Pharcyde, The Roots, Three 6 Mafia, Tone Loc, Tyga, UGK, Usher, UTFO, Warren G, Whodini, Wreckx-N-Effect, Wu-Tang Clan, Ying Yang Twins, Young Gunz

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Notorious B.I.G. sculpture is actually a giant paper coil

Felix Semper paid tribute to the Notorious B.I.G. in the only way he knew how: by sculpting a slinky-esque coil of flexible paper into a remakably lifelike work of art. Read the rest

40% of Wikipedia is under threat from deletionists

Readers recently saved the hemovanadin article from Wikipedia's ongoing extinction event through extraordinary measures, but that's just one of over 2 million stub articles deleted or at risk of deletion by Wikipedia's entrenched bureaucrats. Today's example is Chickenhead, a notable hip-hop song killed by deletionists in 2015. Read the rest

David Axelrod, incredibly influential soul/jazz/rock composer and producer, RIP

David Axelrod, whose 1960s and 1970s production and compositions melding jazz, soul, and rock had an indelible impact on contemporary hip-hop and R&B, has died at age 83. From Billboard:

Born in Los Angeles in 1933, Axelrod produced his first album in 1959 and went on to become a pioneer in combining jazz, rock and R&B in recorded music. He spent several years working for Capitol Records in production and A&R in the 1960s and went on to release more than a dozen of his own albums.

While a contemporary of, and somewhat analogous to, idiosyncratic composer/arrangers like Van Dyke Parks, Axelrod was much more influenced by jazz, as reflected in his orchestrations and his own compositions. He produced David McCallum's Music: A Bit More of Me, the 1967 release featuring "The Edge," a song that famously turned into the predominant sample in Dr. Dre's 2000 hit "The Next Episode." He also collaborated with the Electric Prunes on their bizarre 1968 album Mass in F# Minor, and when the group splintered in the middle of recording, he finished it with session musicians.

So sad to hear about the passing of musician/composer #DavidAxelrod. He was so immersed in creativity and so pure with his arrangements he WAS hip hop. And understood and appreciated hip hop culture (most cats would get guarded about time moving on & easily take the "NO!!!!!!!!" disposition if they aren't informed. David embraced and often reached out to producers and beatmakers for cool collabos) he appreciation for music and his ability to recognize musicianship is what I'll take from him.

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Jaelyn the Alien definitely does not want to see your penis

Jaelyn the Alien, aka Baby J, says:

"So this music video was inspired by a numerous amount of recent events that include random people on the internet (meaning instagram,twitter and SNAPCHAT users) sending me pictures/nudes of their penises. Whether that is them jacking off or just the classic penis picture. This video is my response to the people who send me their revealing photographs.

(ItsBabyj1, thanks UPSO!)

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Public Enemy action figures by Ed Piskor

Boing Boing comic artist Ed Piskor, creator of the stupendous Hip Hop Family Tree, designed this set of Public Enemy Action Figures! They're sculpted by Tomohiro Yasui and stand around 4" tall. They're articulated at the neck, shoulders, hips, elbows, and knees.

Pre-order them from Presspop Toy for $60/set: PUBLIC ENEMY Action Figure Set (via Dangerous Minds)

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