Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Spanish Hip-Hop 102

So I'm sitting over at Root's working on filling up the new CE word-press site (which should be ready by the end of the week), and in the background this horrible movie was on starring Omarion as this kid living in Puerto Rico trying to bridge the gap between rap and reggaeton. It was so corny, I needed to cleanse my ears with some real Puerto Rican representation, so I leave you with two of my favorite artists from that region.

Rap/reggaeton legend Eddie Dee:

And the super-swaggerific Tego Calderon:

[REVISION: After posting this, then reading more about Tego Calderon on the wikipedia page about him, I learned that he actually turned down a role in that movie I mentioned earlier ("Feel The Noise") and chose instead to appear in John Singleton's "Illegal Tender" out of respect for the director.]

More to come on these two cats...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Another Mark Twain quote...

"Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow."

-- Mark Twain

Friday, May 22, 2009

Haitian vibrations...

On the last post about rapper Okai, there was a link that took you to a page of Okai's label/crew Regime Change. In case you didn't check it (which I hadn't really either yet), the featured video was of Haitian artists Negus (pronounced nee-GOOSE') World Order, doing a song called "Fret Kash", which features Okai, and other Haitian artists Sha and Siameze (who is a dope Haitian female MC). The beat is a little on the cornball side (kind of repetitive dance-hall pop), but I just love the way the language sounds...all the MC's are really dope, with unique and versatile styles. The dance steps are pretty funny...Siameze is superhot, and her voice is like butter. I'm feelin' the guy that comes on right before her, too. I wish I could understand what they were saying...big ups Okai and Negus!


Okai on Regime Change Music Website

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Okai tellin' it how it is...

I discovered this artist by making a station for Pete Philly and Perquisite on Pandora. A couple different Okai tracks popped up, and I really liked what I heard. After checking his whole album, Dekonstruktion of the Mind (which you can listen to for free here on LastFM), I was unfortunately more impressed by the production than the vocals. Most of it sounded a little unmotivated and lackluster compared to the live energy captured in the performance above, maybe I got spoiled by seeing that first. I did read somewhere that he was donating a portion of the record sales to Action Against Hunger, and I really respect that. Check out a couple of his tracks on the album, I did like "Phish To Come", and here is the video for another of the albums better tracks.

Quote of the day....

"The universal brotherhood of man is our most precious possession, what there is of it."

-- Mark Twain

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wisdom for cooling the flames...

Often when I get discouraged I seek the calming words of a wise soul to control my emotions and understand the pain. This book has been a tremendous help in that area:

Pops let me borrow it a while back, and I keep flipping it open every now and then just to read a couple chapters over again. You can pick it up anywhere, start at any section, and get something useful and encouraging out of it. It is all about being mindful of what we are doing at all times, whether eating, walking, speaking, etc. It deals specifically with becoming aware (mindful) of our anger and the way we interact with it and others. He doesn't feel it is healthy to ignore or bottle up our anger, on the contrary, he wants us to love our anger, and nurture it as if it were our baby. Once we understand where it comes from, only then can we begin to calm it in ourselves and others. I love the metaphor he uses about watering the positive seeds and starving the negative seeds. It makes so much sense, especially in terms of a relationship. We must encourage the positive behavior, and find a way to turn arguments and negative energy around. By doing so the flower (and the relationship) grows healthy and beautiful.

Learn more about the fascinating life of Thich Nhat Hanh by clicking the picture below.

Here is his home:

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Pete Philly and Perquisite...

Positive hip hop at it's finest, this Dutch hip-hop superduo caught my ear a few years back on a mix a friend made for me. Their music was so refreshing and authentic...and my prejudiced ass couldn't believe it when I found out Pete was a white kid out of Amsterdam, originally from Aruba. With that accent and swagger, I would have sworn he was from the States...hmmmm, Philly perhaps?

[CORRECTION: I was just informed that Pete Philly is actually of latino descent...this just further exemplifies the way we categorize people based upon superficial characteristics.]

Before you continue, take a moment to check out these two masterpieces from their debut album, Mindstate.

"Grateful," a great video accompanies this one:

...and "Hope" featuring the legendary Talib Kweli. Pete's first and last verse are especially note-worthy on this heartfelt anthem about keeping the faith in the face of war and adversity...great overall song and vibe, one of my favorites for sure:

They seemed like such cool and down to earth people, so when I stumbled upon their Myspace page, I had to hit them up just to let them know how much I appreciated what they were doing for rap music, and that in my opinion, "Grateful" was "an eternal classic." A few days later, Pete hit me back and said thanks, and that he had gotten the chance to check us out and was really feeling it. We sent them a package of wax and CDs, and they returned the favor. We were eventually asked to do a remix of "Lazy," one of the songs off of Mindstate. They were in the process of doing a ReMindstate project (same concept, but all remixes by their favorite artists). We were honored, and Pete seemed to like what we did, because he ended up dropping a verse and some extra singing vocals on it, which was not the original plan. You can check it out below on this lo-fi version that someone ripped to the tube:

Anyway, those two albums, plus their last full length release, Mystery Repeats, are available on the US label ANTI-, which is also home to amazing artists and friends from Orlando, SoliLLaquists of Sound, and Australian singer-songwriter Xavier Rudd.

Do yourself a favor, and take the time to learn more about Pete and Perq. Make sure you buy all their music, and check out other releases on Perquisite's own label, Unexpected Records. For current info, you can check their official website. Show them some love! I'll leave you with two more stand-outs from Mystery Repeats -- I can't help it, everything they do is worth sharing.

Here is "Empire":

and "Time Flies," also from their sophomore release:

Don't sleep...

Friday, May 15, 2009 of the last shows...

I found this CD of Live On Arrival performing live at Wild Wing Cafe in Marietta! It was December 15, 2001, and J-Mil was free-styling on a track with Lael so it had to be towards the end there. Not our best show, but we do some of our best songs, old and new, and it doesn't sound half bad. It was recorded by Daniel Blair and I have ripped the mp3s and uploaded them to a zip file available here on sendspace, so if anyone wants to grab it for the collection, feel free. It is pretty monumental, if I'm not mistaken, it's the birthday of Tony Sewell...RIP.

from left to right: Tony Sewell, myself, Jon Thompson (sitting behind the guitar), Joel Cordle, Nick Hines (squatting)

photo by Max Barash (circa 1994)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

San Francisco - It's Official...

...Hameen is taking a vacation to the left coast. Taking a week off work, flying out to San Fran with the lady. I did get the chance to visit the city years ago while visiting a friend in Palo Alto, but didn't get to spend much time there. From what I remember it was awesome!

With a plethora of commercial driven "free" sites telling you "what to do" in San Francisco, it's hard to not get overwhelmed and lost in an abyss of bullshit. So basically, I'm looking for any input on creative (and inexpensive) things to do there. If you have ever been, please let me know what you consider to be a must-see or -do while in San Francisco, Please don't hesitate to drop an email, comment, would be much appreciated. I definitely look forward to sights like this...

Root and I will be there from the 24th of July to the last day in July, then heading back to the A-Town, so we're also looking for any cool folk to link up with while there. We will be staying at the Stratford - looks like a dope spot, and we got a great price for right downtown. It was actually recommended by a friend, so when the super-deal popped up, we got real excited (good looking, James)!

So, I will most likely be on a San Francisco kick for the next month or two while I get geared up to make the most out of this trip. Get ready...

The More Loving One...

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.

Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total darkness sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.

-- W.H. Auden

Friday, May 8, 2009

Soul has no color...

Adele is such a is fascinating the number of brilliant female singers that are coming out of the UK lately. I'm sure that they have always been there, but it is nice to see some of them finally getting more attention in the states. I am thoroughly impressed and becoming more and more intrigued with each new song I hear. Who would have thought that some British white girls would come busting out of the woodwork to help save soul music and fill the void created by the ever too prevalent "autotune" fad. It is enough to easily justify an entire month of posts, but for now, let's check out a couple stand-outs.

Here's the one and only Adele doing her thing:

Alice Russell is another of England's well kept "blue-eyed soul" secrets...been around for a minute.

Here she is at a live show in Paris...flawless voice, and quite the personality as well!

I was reading reviews and searching around for music, when I stumbled upon a great little post/discussion about Alice Russell that spawned from one person's awakening to her own prejudices and preconceived notions about how soul should "look". Mtume ya Salaam starts off revealing her shock in discovering Alice's race: "At first, I’m embarrassed to say, I started hearing Alice’s records a little differently. I’d hear a little something in this note or that one which ‘betrayed’ her whiteness. I’d imagine that some lyric or the other ‘revealed’ that she was actually from Suffolk, England as opposed to Detroit, Michigan or Memphis, Tennessee. Basically (although I didn’t see it then) I was exposing my own prejudices. In retrospect, it was a fairly sad and pitiful experience." It continues on, if you are interested in reading it, you can find it here. I thought it was very insightful and honest.

Anyway, are these ladies' respective websites, go and get all of their music!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

An introduction to Onra...

First of all, another happy birthday to my brother TK who turned 29 on the first of May. A seemingly endless well of positivity, I hope he has thoroughly enjoyed his birthday weekend. Today, I spent the majority of the day immersed in my usual internet perusal of cool new music (which is really just searching a couple trusted blogs and branching out from there). The first to catch my attention was a Vietnamese French producer named Onra. (Check him on Myspace.) A tasteful producer with a very Dilla-esque sound, he went to Vietnam back in 2006, and came back with a bunch of vintage vinyl he found while crate-digging on the streets of Saigon. His latest project showcases the beats he made out of the old gems acquired on that excursion, and is entitled "Chinoiseries" (see definition and reference here). I have yet to hear more than a few selections from this project (available along with his other releases on, but what I have heard is really refreshing.

Here's a taste of "Chinoiseries" courtesy of the tube:

The album I have been bumping while writing this is a project he did with another producer named Quetzal on BoBun Records in 2007. It is called "Onra & Quetzal Present Tribute", and it is entirely sampled from classic soul records. It is a very relaxing listen, and highly recommended if you like instrumental hip-hop in the Dilla/Madlib vein. I found a site that had a megaupload link to grab the whole album, click the album cover below to download it while the link lasts.

It looks like they put out a "Tribute 2" in 2008. I'll have to check it. In the meantime, check out this record of Onra's courtesy of's called "1.0.8" and it is dope! The site is okay, not too familiar with it, I logged in and it still made me keep pressing play after each song, but at least it let me listen to the entire album.

Off to go get some lunch...
Find out what motivates, captivates and rejuvenates me on my never-ending quest for knowledge and art.
Peace, fam, thanks for checkin' in...