Rapathon 6 & Audition Date Info!

The Stop Gun Violence Rapathon Auditions/Rehearsals

On April 6th The Hip Hop Culture Center in Harlem will host a Rapathon at the Kennedy Center located at 34 W. 134th St. starting at 10am.
This event will showcase talented Emcees helping to change the culture of gun violence through “Positive Bars”!

The Rapathon is open to anyone with a love for Hip Hop and the ability to rhyme for 90 seconds straight without cursing. If you think you got what it takes, come be part of this positive community event.

Auditions/Rehearsals will be held at the Kennedy Center/ Harlem Mothers Save office on;

Sunday March 17th 2:30 – 5:30 PM (@Harlem Mothers Save office 2471 Frederick Douglas Blvd & 133rd St. )

Tuesday March 19th 6:30 – 9:00 PM (@Kennedy Center 34 W. 134th. St.)

Thursday March 21st 6:30 – 9:00 PM(@Kennedy Center 34 W. 134th. St.)

Sunday March 24th 2:30 – 5:30 PM (@Harlem Mothers Save office 2471 Frederick Douglas Blvd & 133rd St.)

Tuesday March 26th 6:30 – 9:00 PM(@Kennedy Center 34 W. 134th. St.)

Thursday March 28th 6:30 – 9:00 PM(@Kennedy Center 34 W. 134th. St.)

For more info and to contribute, check out: http://www.rockethub.com/projects/15193-the-end-the-violence-rapathon-for-harlem-mothers-save

RAP BATTLE OF THE WEEK: BRAND NEW LOCATION!

The Hip-Hop Culture Center and Freestyle Mondays present the RAP BATTLE OF THE WEEK!

Once a week, the Hip-Hop Culture Center will be bringing you the best in freestyle rap competitions from Freestyle Mondays’ Off-The-Head Gameshow Battle at its NEW LOCATION at Ella Lounge!

But this isn’t your average rap battle. With a spinning wheel AND a plinko (Plink, Yo!) board determining what the topic is, MCs will have to stay on-topic as they come of the top!

In honor of the new location, we’re giving you a special TRIPLE SHOT of battles this week!

First, we kick things off with a first-round battle in the first battle at the new location with the 47% taking on the 53% as Rabbi Darkside takes on PremRock!

That same night things heated up in the C-Block round as Chaz Kangas and B.S. attempted to cockblock each other in rhyme form over the love of a female!

As as another special BONUS BATTLE we have the LAST BATTLE AT OUR OLD LOCATION EVER as LEX RUSH took on the mysterious EL GATO in the No-Rules No-Writtens Round in the FINALS of the August 2012 Championship!

Stay tuned to H2C2 for more battles and be sure to check out the Freestyle Mondays Off-the-Head Gameshow Battle the FIRST MONDAY of EVERY MONTH at our NEW LOCATION at ELLA LOUNGE at 9 Avenue A!

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Chances are, if you have even a passing interest in hip-hop, you have an appreciation for both Staten Island’s favorite sons, the Wu-Tang Clan, as well as the intricacies and/or influence of jazz music. Finally, two visionaries had the foresight and abilities to combine them. Shaolin Jazz – The 37th Chamber was an idea conceived by Gerald Watson and executed to perfection by DJ 2-Tone Jones, effectively bringing the world of Wu-Tang and Jazz together. We had the opportunity to speak to both 2-Tone Jones and Gerald Watson on how this project came together.

What was your first exposure to hip-hop?

2TJ: (laughs) Mine is pretty specific. When I was younger, I remember a few songs here in there. But the first time I remember walking through the door and really experiencing hip-hop was ninth grade when I had a good friend named Cody in Geometry class. Before the teacher came in the room, he started freestyling. This was the first time I ever experienced a freestyle, and it was mind-blowing. The teacher walked in the room and he started rapping about his socks and bottle cap glasses. I was blown away. I’m looking around like “Does anyone else think this is as amazing as I do now?”

GW: My first intro was right when Run-DMC’s first album came out. They had the white jackets and the hats on the cover. It was that tape and De La’s first joint. I was at a festival that my parents were vending jewelery at. It was the first time I was given a bootleg of anything. I had no idea what bootlegs were. I kinda knew who Run-DMC were and I didn’t know at all who De La was, but I thought these cats looked ill. The cassette looked faded because the dude had clearly Xeroxed it, but I listened to it and I was clearly opened.

2-Tone, I read an interview where you said you feel, when attempting projects like this, people get caught up on the lyrics of a record and not really the “essence.” What best exemplifies the “essence” of a record?

2TJ: I like that cat J.Period because of the way he crafts stuff together and they fit [how] the lyricist raps his verse over that track. That’s the goal, but it also sounds like something they would have rapped over as well as how the project is arranged with the different sound effects. I pay attention a lot to small details, and whole albums that are cohesive. You get a sense of Wu-Tang by hearing things click with the interludes and skits between albums.

Gerald, as a big Wu-fan, what made you think Wu-Tang would lend itself to jazz so well?

GW: Um, I didn’t. (laughs) Honestly, I had no idea. It was just kind of a thought that “you know, I haven’t seen this before” I asked 2-Tone about it because this project, which was created for an art exhibition I had done, was just supposed to be a jazz mixtape. Instead of that, my thought turned to doing a jazz-Wu-Tang mix, and even at that point I didn’t think what that would have sounded like. He took it and he ran with it well.

What’s the response been like from Wu-fans?

GW: It’s hard to decipher, but they’re happy though. When we first dropped it, it was tweeted everywhere. A lot of Wu-Tang fans referenced different artists they heard on the projects and songs they like. We struck a nerve with them and Wu-Tang in general. We know the management company has retweeted the project and given us props, which says a lot.

Do you have any plans for the next project?

2TJ: We had some ideas in the mix, but at this point we want to take more time to really execute things. I’m eager but, at the same time, a little nervous. Shaolin Jazz set our bar, so whatever we do next has to be on its level or better. But, I have no doubt we can do it.

DOWNLOAD Shaolin Jazz: The 37th Chamber HERE

Interview conducted by H2C2’s Chief Media Liaison Chaz Kangas

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RAP BATTLE OF THE WEEK: AJ vs. Albert Rhymestein!

The Hip-Hop Culture Center and Freestyle Mondays present the RAP BATTLE OF THE WEEK!

Once a week, the Hip-Hop Culture Center will be bringing you the best in freestyle rap competitions from Freestyle Mondays’ Off-The-Head Gameshow Battle at it’s NEW LOCATION at Ella Lounge!

But this isn’t your average rap battle. With a spinning wheel AND a plinko (Plink, Yo!) board determining what the topic is, MCs will have to stay on-topic as they come of the top!

This week, we come down to the final round of May’s Off-the-Head Gameshow Battle Championship! After a grueling one night tournament of some of the most challenging freestyle themes, it comes down to Albert Rhymestein and AJ in the finals! Each MC gets two 30 second rounds, so you can expect lots of freestyle responses and white-knuckle MC action to crown the second holder of the official Freestyle Mondays Championship Belt!

Stay tuned to H2C2 for more battles and be sure to check out the Freestyle Mondays Off-the-Head Gameshow Battle the FIRST MONDAY of EVERY MONTH and STARTING THIS MONDAY we move to our NEW LOCATION at ELLA LOUNGE at 9 Avenue A!

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Just think, after almost four decade of people calling hip-hop a fad, not only is it a multi-billion dollar industry and cultural force, but it’s extending firmly into the world of academics. While there has been a recent phenomenon of colleges teacher hip-hop courses, the biggest gesture of hip-hop entering the world of education occurred just a few short weeks ago with the announcement that Afrika Bambaataa would be a visiting professor this year at Cornell.

We asked some of our favorite H2C2 MCs to drop some bars with their reaction to this great news, and we encourage our readers to respond back with some rhymes of their own.

Check the rhymes HERE – http://h2c2harlem.com/news/

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RAP BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Benny Els vs. Baba!

The Hip-Hop Culture Center and Freestyle Mondays present the RAP BATTLE OF THE WEEK!

Once a week, the Hip-Hop Culture Center will be bringing you the best in freestyle rap competitions from Freestyle Mondays’ Off-The-Head Gameshow Battle at 116 Macdougal!

But this isn’t your average rap battle. With a spinning wheel AND a plinko (Plink, Yo!) board determining what the topic is, MCs will have to stay on-topic as they come of the top!

This week, we come down to the final round of April’s Off-the-Head Gameshow Battle Championship! After a grueling one night tournament of some of the most challenging freestyle themes, it comes down to Benny Els and Baba in the finals! Each MC gets two 30 second rounds, so you can expect lots of freestyle responses and white-knuckle MC action to crown the first holder of the official Freestyle Mondays Championship Belt!

…and as an added BONUS this week (since our battle last week was preempted due to our EXCLUSIVE interview with MALCOLM SMITH – the NEW YORK SENATOR who DEMANDED LIL WAYNE APOLOGIZE for DISSING NEW YORK) here’s a BONUS BATTLE from last August that pit BENNY ELS against SARAH TONIN as GABBY DOUGLAS vs. MICHAEL PHELPS!

Benny Els’ Music can be heard at http://soundcloud.com/bennyels

Stay tuned to H2C2 for more battles and be sure to check out the Freestyle Mondays Off-the-Head Gameshow Battle the FIRST MONDAY of EVERY MONTH and coming to a new location soon!

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An Interview with State Senator Malcolm Smith

Last week, an east coast fervor was stirred when chart-topping MC Lil Wayne stated “I don’t like New York.” Wayne made the comment in an interview after a free show in Manhattan, and attributed his sentiment to the resistance the city has shown him in the past as well as his feelings toward being arrested within the city’s limits. those five words reverberated throughout the music world, alarming many, including New York State Senator Malcolm Smith. Senator Smith held a press conference in Times Square, demanding that Wayne apologize for his words. We had the chance to speak to the Senator in regard to both his growing up in hip-hop’s home, as well as what further actions against Wayne and others he plans to take.

When was your first exposure to hip-hop?

My first exposure probably goes back to LL Cool J, Run-DMC, Jam-Master Jay. I grew up with all of them and that’s why I count Queens as being the home of the hip-hop movement. Yeah, it started in the Bronx, but it clearly got taken to another level when Queens got a hold of it.

Would that make LL Cool J and Run-DMC your favorite MCs?

Yeah, absolutely. As a matter of fact, LL and I still do a basketball tournament together. Every year, for the past ten years called Jump and Ball.

What was it about Lil Wayne’s comments that you found incendiary enough to warrant an apology?

Well, most importantly, I think it was that it sent out the wrong message to the 50 million tourists who we have come to the city. And then obviously, you have the fan base he has that he’s pretty influential over. My position is, I feel if you don’t like New York, you don’t have to come to New York. Obviously he makes his money here, millions of fans buy his music. Nicki Minaj actually lives in the area that I represent. I just thought it was a statement that wasn’t warranted.

Would your feelings be different had Wayne’s comments been in a song as opposed to being in an interview?

Nope.

Do you feel you would have been as offended if it was an artist of comparable stature in any other genre of music, as opposed to hip-hop?

Listen, it doesn’t matter, no matter what celebrity it was. It could have been an actor. I love this city. I’ve been in love with this city. I have my family here. This is one of the greatest cities in the world. As an elected official that represents the state and the city, I’m not over anybody saying bad things about it. I understand his position as it related to why he feels that way because, obviously, what happened with Summer Jam and also he was arrested for possessing a gun. He shouldn’t have a gun in the city of New York, that’s not what it’s about. Matter of fact, if he wants to join me in my gun buy-back program, that would be good. I think he can turn a negative into a positive and send a good message to his fan base.

So you would still be open to working with Wayne in the future in event that would encourage positivity?

Absolutely, if it’s a positive cause. But again, if he feels he doesn’t like New York, he’s entitled to his opinion. He doesn’t have to come back, just like I’m entitled to my opinion about what he said.

In the event Wayne does apologize, would you pursue apologies from any further artists in the future who might bad mouth New York?

I will stand up for New York to anybody. Artists, another politician, a movie star, the President – I will still stand up for New York. Does not matter.

Would that include past artists too, such as Randy Newman for his comments on New York in “I Love L.A.?”

Well, I mean, anybody that wants to bad mouth New York, I’m prepared to stand up on behalf of [New York] and that’s that.

Interview conducted by H2C2’s Chief Media Liaison Chaz Kangas

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RAP BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Cannibal vs. Zombie

The Hip-Hop Culture Center and Freestyle Mondays present the RAP BATTLE OF THE WEEK!

Once a week, the Hip-Hop Culture Center will be bringing you the best in freestyle rap competitions from Freestyle Mondays’ Off-The-Head Gameshow Battle at 116 Macdougal!

But this isn’t your average rap battle. With a spinning wheel AND a plinko (Plink, Yo!) board determining what the topic is, MCs will have to stay on-topic as they come of the top!

This week, we landed on the FOOD CHAIN round, placing two competing species for genus lyrical dominance! John O. (of the Gecko Brothers) holds it down for the CANNIBALS while reigning champ Albert Rhymestein (Dollar Coffee) represents the ZOMBIES!


ALBERT RHYMESTEIN VS. JOHN O.
ZOMBIE VS. CANNIBAL

Albert Rhymestein’s music can be heard at – http://dollarcoffee.bandcamp.com/

John O.’s music can be heard at – http://thageckobrothas.bandcamp.com/

Stay tuned to H2C2 for more battles and be sure to check out the Freestyle Mondays Off-the-Head Gameshow Battle the FIRST MONDAY of EVERY MONTH at 116 MacDougal in Manhattan!

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If you’ve watched a hot hip-hop music video online in the past two years, chances are it was a production from Ricky Shabazz and the Boom-Bap Boys. We had a chance to sit down with director Nicolas Heller, the brains behind the camera, to find out what goes into to making the of the most creative hip-hop videos in the game today!

What was the first music video you recall ever seeing?

The first music video I can recall seeing is “Getting Jiggy With It” by Will Smith. However, I really want to say it was “My Block” by Scarface because that was the first video that REALLY stuck out to me. Made me realize hip-hop videos could be creative.

When did you decide you wanted to begin shooting music videos?

I decided I wanted to start making music videos my Junior year of college after making 10 short films and hardly getting any recognition from people outside my circle of friends. Music videos were my chance to piggy-back off of a musician’s success.

Which video was your first, and how did it feel going through the video making process for the first time?

My first music video under the Ricky Shabazz and the Boom Bap Boy alias was “Destroy” by C-Rayz Walz. I really lucked out with that one. This was around the time I began feeling very discouraged in regards to my shorts not getting attention. My friend, Will Kowall, who is heavily involved in the underground hip-hop scene brought it to my attention that C-Rayz was going to be in Boston and was looking for someone to shoot a quick video for him. I nervously approached him with a really insane idea where he gets chased down by furries in the wilderness and ultimately gets shot in the face. He dug it. We shot it, and the rest was history.

Now that you’re several dozen videos removed from those early works, what’s one piece of advice you would give yourself when you were starting out?

I REALLY wish I had held off on shooting my more complicated treatments instead of rushing into them with little experience and no budget. I would love to re-shoot a bunch of my old videos. Don’t think the musicians would be too thrilled about that tough.

A few of your videos deal with continuous take shots. What intrigues you about that particular style?

I think it looks badass. My inspiration comes from gangster movies from the 80’s and 90’s. Directors had a tendency of building tension before someone gets the shit kicked out of them by dropping a dope song, and in one continous shot, have the protagonist makes his way over to the antagonist and beat them senseless. I would find those scenes more interesting than any fight scene with cuts every two seconds.

Have any artists ever shown resistance to your concepts? Did they eventually realize you were right all along?

Artists show resistance all the time. It’s really hard to convince these guys to take risks. Especially if they are more established. I am usually able to meet at a common ground though.

Have you shown any of your videos to your family? Which videos are their favorites?

My parents watch all of my videos whether I like it or not. They both follow me on Twitter and Instagram, so it?s pretty hard to hide any projects from them. For the most part, they really enjoy all of them. I think the only one that ever disappointed them was “Grateful Dead of Night” by Moe Pope. In the video, I had a half naked woman chained up by zombies who eventually devour her. They needed to have a talk with me after that one.
Their all time favorite video of mine is “THANX” by Fresh Daily. It’s kind of upsetting considering I shot that two years ago.

What do you believe makes for a quality video?
Damn. A lot. I’ll go with the less obvious answer: Making the artist look cool. You have to approach videos from a consumer’s standpoint. No one is gonna buy an artist’s album if they look foolish in their video. No matter who the musician is, if a filmmaker makes their client look like a cornball, they haven’t done their job properly. It’s tough though. There are a lot of corny musicians out there. I certainly have failed a couple times.

If you could do a video for any hip-hop artist alive or dead, who would it be?
That’s a loaded question. It would really depend on whether or not I had complete creative control. If I had this control, I would like to do videos for Cam’ron, Juicy J, 2 Chainz, Gunplay, Chief Keef, Ghostface Killah, Scarface, Project Pat, etc. However, there is no chance in hell I would be able to get any of those artists to even consider listening to one of my wacky treatment ideas.

Some artists I think I could collaborate really well with would be: Action Bronson, Lil Ugly Mane, Flatbush Zombies, Riff Raff, Mr. Muthafuckin’ Exquire, El-P, ASAP Ferg… Damn, the list goes on.

Finally, if I got to choose one dead artist to shoot a video for, it would be Eazy-E or Ol’ Dirty Bastard.

What?s one video you would suggest somebody checking your work out for the first should look at to get the best idea of your style?
It was made with a 2 person crew, and $15 budget. But I would suggest everyone watch “GUTS” by Juan Deuce and Falside. This is probably the only video I ever directed where I had 100% creative control. I think it shows. Now imagine giving a treatment like that to Cam’ron… C’mon son.

Check out all of the Ricky Shabazz and the Boom-Bap Boys Productions at Rickyshabazz.com and follow Nicolas Heller on Twitter at @RickyShabazz

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RAP BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Lil Kim vs. Kim Jong-il

The Hip-Hop Culture Center and Freestyle Mondays present the RAP BATTLE OF THE WEEK!

Once a week, the Hip-Hop Culture Center will be bringing you the best in freestyle rap competitions from Freestyle Mondays’ Off-The-Head Gameshow Battle at 116 Macdougal!

But this isn’t your average rap battle. With a spinning wheel AND a plinko (Plink, Yo!) board determining what the topic is, MCs will have to stay on-topic as they come of the top!

This week, we landed on the Superstar round, assigning each MC to rap from the perspective of a worldwide superstar for lyrical dominance. Cold Stone Steve Awesome (AKA Stack That Paper) got the guise of Kim Jong-il whereas Chaz Kangas represents Lil Kim!


COLD STONE STEVE AWESOME VS. CHAZ KANGAS
KIM JONG-IL VS. LIL KIM

Chaz Kangas’ music can be found at http://chazkangas.bandcamp.com

Stay tuned to H2C2 for more battles and be sure to check out the Freestyle Mondays Off-the-Head Gameshow Battle the FIRST MONDAY of EVERY MONTH at 116 MacDougal in Manhattan!

Don’t forget to LIKE us on Facebook!