Archive for 'Blog'

Kiss It Goodbye: KISS FM and WBLS Announce Merger

Last week an unfortunate transmission was felt by the hip-hop community with the announcement of prominent New York station 98.7 Kiss FM’s merger with longtime rival WBLS.

We asked some of our favorite H2C2 MCs for their thoughts on the matter, and they were happy to respond in rhyme form!

Check out their bars and be sure to leave your own thoughts in rhyme form here – http://h2c2harlem.com/news/

Photographer Simone Green

One of hip-hop’s most respected photographers, Simone Green was right in the thick of things during Death Row’s 90s dominance. Along with being behind some of the most memorable images of that era, she’s recently released her book Time Served: My Days and Nights on Death Row Records available now at www.Deathrowtimeserved.com .

Tomorrow through July 29th, her work will be on exhibition at the Auburn Research Library, in Atlanta, Georgia. We had the chance to sit down with Simone and discuss her new book as well as what it was like being *the* Death Row photographer.

You’ve mentioned in the past that your photography became lucrative once you started shooting for Death Row. Prior to this, where were you shooting?
I worked at “Soul Train,” and I did some freelance work at the Jack the Rapper convention.

You’ve mentioned a level of bullying at Death Row. Had any of it ever stemmed from your photos?

(Laughs) No, they never had a problem with my work. Even now, with so much that went on and I had to get closure. I had a conversation with Suge and he straight-up apologized, but we didn’t have a problem when it came to my work.

The bullying was everybody there thought they might step out of line, and everyday something could happen. One day, it was me. But, in terms of my work, I had my first experience at Death Row on the “Doggy Dog World” video shoot. It was such an experience seeing that incredibly artistry on another level.

The image of Death Row, from the cover arts to the promotional images, conveyed a very specific style. When working, did Suge give you any specific instructions or boundaries?

No, not very outward or noticeable. One time I was late for a party Dre was having. He said I was too late to shoot what he wanted, so he sent me home. Otherwise, I had no other instructions. Suge wanted everything shot though, every time he was seen he wanted pictures taken.

One incredible thing about your work is that you own the rights to all your photos. Knowing Suge never got that in contract, were there ever any discussions regarding the rights?

No, never. Really, I don’t give that away and we would have had a problem. When I first took photos, I demanded respect. Knowing by-lines and rules, I had to get it and did it. I’ve learned if you don’t mention it, they don’t mention it. I had a cousin who was hard on me for getting photos. I couldn’t sing or dance, so I had to be the best at it.

After the book’s release, have you been in contact with anyone from Death Row?

Just Sam Sneed, nobody else.

What’s one photo from your time at Death Row that you consider the quintessential Simone Green at Death Row photo?

The one with Snoop where the shadow falls off him. Snoop’s easy to photograph. He slips into any mode for any kind of picture.

Out of your entire body of work, which photo are you most proud of?

There’s one of a Teena Maria live performance. I did her make-up and photographed her in Atlanta at one of the last shows she did before she died. There’s a real feel to the picture.

Why do you prefer shooting on film over digital?

With digital, you lose a slight bit of detail. You can see the softness better on film. Digital swings at you sharp and it can look overdone, whereas film tries to calm that down.
I also like the hands on feel of working with film. I like being in the dark room and watching the film develop. It really feels like mine.

Interview conducted by Chaz Kangas

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Brian McKnight’s Teaching WHAT?!

Brian McKnight

Earlier this week, shockwaves were felt through-out the music world when Brian McKnight revealed his surprisingly vulgar new song. We asked some of our favorite H2C2 MCs for their thoughts on McKnight’s new direction, and they responded in rhyme form!

Check out their bars and be sure to leave your own thoughts in rhyme form here – http://h2c2harlem.com/news/

Tupac Shakur: Hologram If You Hear Me!

Hologram If You Hear Me

As you may have heard, the big story in rap this week is the 2Pac hologram that played Coachella last weekend. We asked some of our favorite H2C2 MCs for their opinion on it, and you can read their bars as well as submit some rhyming comments of your own in our brand new news section here – http://h2c2harlem.com/news/

Irish Contribution to Hip Hop

Top O’ The Blog Post To Ya,

With St. Patrick’s Day this month, we here at the Hip-Hop Culture Center decided to take a look back at some of the Irish contributions to hip-hop. With the Irish having such a rich culture and hip-hop being an avenue where cultures flourish together, we thought it would a Pot of Gold to look at what the Irish have given the hip-hop nation. Of course, there’s no way this could be completely comprehensive, but we hope you enjoy what you hear and it moves you to check out what the land of James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and Jonathan Swift have done with hip-hop!

Sinead O’Connor and MC Lyte – “I Want Your Hands on Me” (1987)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3jeDT-vLa8
In 1993, an Irish hip-hop collective called The Marxman released 33 Revolutions Per Minute, an album combining traditional Irish music with elements of hip-hop. Included with the compilation was this 1987 collaboration between Sinead O’Connor and MC Lyte from theA Nightmare On Elm Street 4 soundtrack.

House of Pain – “Shamrocks and Shenanigans” (1992)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXwtHJQ66Rk
Of course the first name that comes to mind in terms of Irish hip-hop is House of Pain. Frontman Everlast, DJ Lethal and Danny Boy wore their proud Irish heritage on their sleeves, bringing a different definitively Irish sound to hip-hop. While this wasn’t the first time we saw Everlast or the last, this follow-up single to “Jump Around” was unquestionably the man at his most Irish.

Slaine – “99 Bottles” (2010)

Part of rap supergroups La Coka Nostra (with the aforementioned House of Pain) as well as Special Teamz (with Boston favorite Edo G.), Slaine’s been making a name for himself over the past five years for both his music as well as his acting, most notable a memorable role in Ben Affleck’s Gone Baby Gone. The look and feel of his 2010 single “99 Bottles” is something of a spiritual successor to “Jump Around,” and makes for perfect St. Patrick’s Plundering.

Macklemore – “Irish Celebration” (2009)

Seattle-based Irish rapper Macklemore has been having quite the 2012. Appearing in both “The Source’s” Unsigned Hype column as well as “XXL’s” Freshmen 2012 list, he’s got a lot of eyes on him looking for what he’s going to do next.

Mac Lethal – “Jake & Olive” (2011)

Off his latest album Irish Goodbye, named for the act of leaving a bar without saying goodbye, former Scribble Jam battle champion and YouTube pancake-flipping sensation Mac Lethal brings us “Jake & Olive,” a touching true story about his Ireland-born grandparents who came to America and…well, I’ll let Mac take the story from here.

Rap Battle: Oshea vs. Nugget

Ireland has its own rap battle leagues as well. The biggest one, DFI, features some of the top Irish battle talent battling both one-another as well as established names overseas who have traveled to Ireland to take part. Here, Irish favorite Nugget takes on UK’s Don’t Flop battles champion Oshea is one of the most anticipated battles of 2012.

Irish Graffiti

Of course, the Irish have contributed to the other elements of hip-hop as well. Here’s a 1997 news feature on the beginnings of Ireland’s graff scene. As you can see, they’ve developed a very fresh and definitively Irish approach of their own!

New FREE Releases

It’s a big month for new releases, namely FREE ones! That’s right, if you’re still waiting on that tax return, this weeks brings you plenty of option that can fit your budget perfectly!

Action Bronson & Party Supplies – Blue Chips
From Hot 97 to the Food Network, Queen-born Action Bronson has been everywhere as of late, wowing hip-hop fans with his storytelling, sense of timing and one-of-a-kind references, carried by an unmistakable charisma through two of last year’s best received projects Dr. Lecter and Well Done. Bronson returns with a Reebok-sponsored mixtape Blue Chips a collaboration with Fools Gold producer Party Supplies and featuring appearances from Roc Marciano, Meyham Lauren, Kool AD of Das Racist and wrestling great Ron “Farooq” Simmons.
FREE DOWNLOAD – http://www.complex.com/music/2012/03/mixtape-premiere-action-bronson-party-supplies-blue-chips

Fresh Daily – The Brooklyn Good Guy
Brooklyn favorite Fresh Daily returns with a new release sponsored by Converse and recorded solely in his home borough. Executive produced by Benamin, The Brooklyn Good Guy features appearances by MURS, Melo-X and Black Spade.
Free Download – http://www.livemixtapes.com/mixtapes/16363/fresh_daily_the_brooklyn_good_guy.html

King I Divine & ScienZe – Divine ScienZe
Brooklyn meets Queens on the new mixtape collaboration from ScienZe and King I Divine. Featuring Maffew Ragazino, Blu and Sene
Free Download – http://www.2dopeboyz.com/2012/03/13/king-i-divine-scienze-divine-scienze-mixtape/

Soul Khan – Wellstone EP
Produced entirely by fellow Brown Bag All Star DeeJay Element, Soul Khan’s new EP sits among his most thoughtful work. Named after the beloved late Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone, the EP also features the soulful stylings of frequent collaborator Akie Bermiss and Blu-affiliate Sene.
Free Download – http://www.djbooth.net/index/mixtapes/entry/soul-khan-wellstone-ep

UTK – Members Only EP
One-half of The Beatards and a favorite of freestyle comedy collective Freestyle Love Supreme, UTK drops his Members Only EP this week. With a heavy electro-pop influence, it’s the most cost effective way to light up your dance floor today!
Free Download – http://utktheinc.bandcamp.com/album/members-only-ep

Last month saw the unfortunate closing of Southpaw, one of New York City’s most beloved music venues. With a wide range of artists, exciting vibe and great sound, its ten year run was one of many great memories. Southpaw also had a reputation for giving New York hip-hop a home, even at times when it wasn’t popular to book MCs in the city.

We spoke to Clarence “Jah C” Fruster, one of the names synonymous with the venue, to reflect on Southpaw’s decade of dynamite.

In 2002, what was the genesis of Southpaw?

When Mikey Palms & Matty Roff purchased a 99 cent store and converted it into a venue with a vision for music and nightlife in New York City. That was unparalleled at the time.

How different were the shows when Southpaw first opened compared to now?

The Rub was always at the core of the club’s monthly calendar, from start to finish, so when you hear people speak of the venue not having hip-hop roots, they are full of shit. The Rub held it down and helped pay the bills, every month.

Aside from that the booking skewed towards legendary rock, country, soul and hip hop acts. Then, it grew to be able to break indie rock bands, as well as some Americana. In the last 5 years, emerging hip-hop and more urban musics took hold through the changes in the neighborhood necessitating that shift, as well as my booking as a result of ownership believing in my abilities.

One of Southpaw’s most celebrated features is how it would bring in many classic hip-hop artists who seldom get the chance to rock proper shows in the city. Who was the first old school artist you brought in?

The first old school act I ever booked was CL Smooth, but that was when the owners of Southpaw bought Galapagos and asked me to take my smaller works and expand it into a monthly at Public Assembly, which it was renamed as. When I took on larger shows at Southpaw the first old school act I booked was Nice N Smooth.

Does any particular show or moment stand out that first made you realize Southpaw was something special?

When I first attended The Rub, prior to my working there, Justin “Kray” Cox of Southpaw, Nuk Fam, & EVR’s Chances With Wolves would invite me out and I’d come and have the time of my life, affordably and safely, without pretension.

My mind was blown.

What’s your favorite show that you’ve seen at Southpaw?

I love way too many musics to be able to answer that properly. My answer to that changes daily. Just to throw some out there I’d have to say Kendrick Lamar’s New York headline Debut and The Menahan Street Band

One thing I’ve always loved about Southpaw is the look and feel of the venue. The posters of previous shows and record sleeves on the wall really emphasized how special music is. Where did the idea for this layout come from?

I have no idea honestly. Kevin Omen, my former bandmate and the stage manager at Southpaw for 6+ years would put up posters and line the green room walls with the bands set lists. The records on the wall and much of the artistic “salvaged” design comes from the venue’s original manager who ran the place for the owners for some 8-9 years, Kenan “Kool Kear” Juska of EVR’s Chances With Wolves.

With Southpaw closing its doors, what made you decide on the final artists for the go home?

The closing event was a mix of people who reached out to me, it came together rather organically and we pulled together a versatile pool of talent from various corners of hip hop with very little time or notice. The closing was abrupt with about three weeks notice for everyone on the staff, which was crushing.

There were a mix of artists who were always supporting my work at the club, always requesting to play, some who were mainstays & some who I had wanted to book and needed to get up there. Talking with Jessica Estevez of iHeartdilla and Justin “The Company Man” Hunte, my co-hosts/partners on the event, made the decision very simple. That was the one song event.

You can find more from Jah C at:

Twitter.com/TheGreatHustler
Facebook.com/TheGreatHustler

PremRock rocks the crowd at the Bowery Poetry Club

The Hip-Hop Culture Center presents Rap-a-Thon veteran PremRock and Willie Green performing “How’d You Get So Fresh” off their self-titled album available NOW at http://premrock-n-williegreen.bandcamp.com/album/premrock-willie-green

Stay tuned to the Hip-Hop Culture Center for all the latest in Hip-Hop!

New Releases – February 28, 2012

It’s a week with a leap day, which means you get one more day this year to enjoy the latest that rap has to offer! Here’s what will be on store shelves and in your iTunes this week:

Biz Markie – The Biz Never Sleeps

The Diabolical one’s classic album is FINALLY back in print this week and has never sounded better! Along with some of the Biz’s best tracks like “Just A Friend,” “The Dragon” and “Spring Again.” This version also restores the deleted track “A Thing Named Kim” and includes the never-before-on-CD alternate mixes of “Just A Friend” and “Spring Again.”

Ecid – Werewolf Hologram

One of the midwest’s favorite producers, Ecid returns with a new album that comes with a 16 page book. Werewolf Hologram also includes appearances by the late great Eyedea, Awol One and Kristoff Krane.

Gensu Dean – Standard Life

In the tradition of classic SP-1200 produced hip-hop comes Gensu Dean. Having produced for everyone from Ol Dirty Bastard to Royal Flush, his debut album Standard Life arrives with a great deal of anticipation. But with that anticipation comes a red carpet of featured guests including Brand Nubian, David Banner, Organized Konfusion’s Prince Po, Roc Marciano, Large Professor and Count Bass D.

Lazerbeak / Edison – The Kill Switch LP

One of the cornerstones of the Doomtree collective, who seem incapable of doing wrong at this point, Lazerbeak teams up with San Francisco producer Edison for The Kill Switch. It’s the season for instrumental hip-hop, and for fans of the genre this should be a must-hear.

Madlib – The Black Tape

The long-rumored 13th installment of Madlib’s Medicine Show is finally here! The Black Tape is the mix of hip-hop’s best (as well as best of the worst) MCs blended with brand new Madlib beats.

Planet Asia – Black Belt Theater

King Medallions is back! One half of Cali Agents, Planet Asia returns with Black Belt Theater, a star-studded reminder of why he’s such an underground staple. Joining him are Talib Kweli, Camp Lo, Ras Kass, Fashawn, Mistah FAB, Torae and more! Production includes Oh No and Khrysis.

Too $hort – No Trespassing

Fresh off one of his biggest tours, Too $hort brings us his 19th studio album in No Trespassing. With song titles like “Playa Fo Life,” “Porno Life” and “Respect the Pimpin’,” it’s good to see his “freaky tales” are as potent as ever. No Trespassing features appearances from 50 Cent, E-40, Snoop Dogg and more!

NEW FREE DOWNLOAD OF THE WEEK:

Hodgy Beats – Untitled EP

Odd Future member and one-half of MellowHype, Hodgy Beats steps into his own with his unexpected Untitled EP. Bringing his brand of cynical slapstick fun to beats from Juicy J,The Alchemist and Flying Lotus, Hodgy’s growth as an MC between this and the already critically acclaimed Blackenwhite is staggering. If you’re already on the fence about Hodgy, listen with caution as he’s about to electrify it!

Available now at http://ofwolfgangkta.myshopify.com/products/hodgy-beats-untitled-ep

Hip-Hop at the 2012 Grammy Awards

In the 23 years since the first Best Rap Performance award was given to DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince during the ceremony’s pre-show, last Sunday’s Grammys Awards proved how far hip-hop has come.

The 54th Annual Awards were hosted by LL Cool J, both the first Hip-Hop artist to host the show as well as the ceremony’s first host in seven years. The telecast was the second highest rated Grammys in history.

The night’s big winner was Kanye West who swept the four hip-hop categories, winning both Best Rap/Sung Collaboration and Best Rap Song for “All of the Lights,” best rap album for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and Best Rap Performance for his song “Otis” with Jay-Z off of their Watch The Throne album. Kanye was not present to accept.

The In Memorial montage of all the artists who died in the past year covered those we lost in hip-hop as well. Among those remembered were Heavy D (whose “Nuttin’ But Love” was played during a portion), Sugar Hill Records founder Sylvia Robinson, Nate Dogg and Cali Swag District’s Montae “M-Bone” Talbert. Later in the telecast host LL joined The Roots drummer ?uestlove in a moment of tribute to recently deceased “Soul Train” host Don Cornelius.

While Drake and Common were featured presenters and both Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne performed, the most unexpected hip-hop moment of the night was lifetime achievement award winner Glen Campbell performing his iconic “Rhinestone Cowboy” and filling social media sites with flashbacks to the DJ at the dance scene in High School High.