Archive for June, 2008

RZA’s new project – WuChess

Saturday, June 21st, 2008 | News | No Comments
RZA's new project - WuChess

Monday saw the beginning of WuChess, www.wuchess.com a new website allowing you to play chess online . Founded by RZA of Wutang Clan, the site will also feature news relating to the WuTang Clan. RZA, 38, who is set to tour Europe again this year with the Wutang Clan learned the game of Chess when he was just 11, from the girl whom he also lost his virginity to. RZA explains the similarity of chess to the Wutang Clan “because its a game of war – it’s about battle. And Wutang was formed in battles, from challenging each other”.

Playing nearly every day (along with cousin and co-fouder of Wutang GZA) saw him take out the Hip Hop federation belt in San Fransisco last year taking on a mixture of rappers and martial artists. The conclusion seemingly to turn your passion into your business, much like his musical career. Under his alias Bobby Digital, RZA releases “Digi Snax” in July this year which is sure to be an eclectic blend of sounds from many nations as he always delivers. Check out the video for Tragedy below as an example of the RZA’s ongoing theme of battle, martial arts, strategy, and chess.

RZA, GZA, and Bill Murray in the collection of short films Coffee and Cigarettes

Opensouls Interview

Thursday, June 19th, 2008 | Interviews | 2 Comments
Opensouls Interview

Hey everyone, today we’re speaking with New Zealand’s Opensouls, a fine product from across the Tasman. The nine-piece collective is yet another Kiwi group making waves with energetic lives shows displaying their brand of funky hip hop laced with elements of jazz, reggae and soul.
So firstly, tell us a little about Opensouls for those out there who don’t know. How’d you form and who makes up the crew?

We formed out of the collapse of a former band 5th Floor. We have a horn section, keyboards, synths, guitars, bass, drums, percussion and vocals. Tyra Hammond – Vox Bjorn Petersen – Vox Julien Dyne – Drums Chip Matthews – Bass Harlin Davey – Sampler / Keys Steph Brown – Keys (currently in New York) Jeremy Toy – Guitar, Keytar Isaac Aesili – Trumpet, Percussion and a revolving horn section depending on availability.

Big things have been said about your live show, what can a crowd expect when you hit the stage? Any plans for a few shows on our shores in the near future?

We have plans to get across the ditch soon. We try and bring a party to every gig we play. It’s a big band and such a big dynamic that when it works it is a guaranteed good night out.

Your style of music is a product of so many different influences, obviously a result of the different tastes and experiences in music the various members bring to the group; where did it all begin for the Opensouls?

I’m not sure where it all began but myself and the drummer Julien Dyne share a similar love for soul and jazz music which is the backbone of our sound. Dare I call it jazz music but that is the music that keeps your mind thinking and continually challenges how you perceive music. An extension of that is artists like Tribe Called Quest, Premier and Pete Rock who took the jazz vibe and re-hashed it without ever making it sound like acid-jazz.

The musical community in New Zealand seems to effortlessly intertwine itself; how has this affected the way the Opensouls operate?

It effects us in a sense that there are heaps of people to help us out and to give us advice. Sometime that advice is a waste of time because you can only follow your own path but sometimes having so many people that you can potentially bounce ideas off of is very refreshing.

The various elements that make up your sound mean that you are not bound to any one genre when it comes to collaboration, are there any standout artists that you’d love to work with?

Thats a tough question. You never know how well you will work when collaborating until you are there doing it. I would love to get Liam Finn to produce a track for us. He is a stand out right now. Of course, if Chaka Kahn came knocking we wouldn’t say no. I have always wanted to play with Van Morrison. Soulful Irish music is big on my list.

Jeremy: Recently you picked up an award in New Zealand for Best Producer for your work with Hollie Smith on her album Long Player, how was working with her and do you have plans for anymore side-projects?

Working with Hollie on her album was a great experience for me. Hollie had set idea’s about how she wanted her album to sound so I took my role as the person to push Hollie outside of her musical comfort zone. She is a massive fan of Voodoo and Mama’s Gun and really wanted her record to be in the same vain as those records. I showed Hollie and the band the influences D’angelo, Erykah Badu, J Dilla and Questlove had when writing those albums and we tried to create an album that was not only influenced by these contemporary musicians but also by the musicians from the 60’s and 70’s that laid the foundations for the type of soul music Hollie plays. I am involved in other side projects. An Australian singer Tim Guy, he now lives in New Zealand. www.myspace.com/timguymusic Tim writes some of the heaviest music I have heard, really well crafted songs. I am also doing demo’s with the Sami Sisters www.myspace.com/thesamisisters . They are 3 sisters with an undeniable talent for writing songs that grab at your heart strings and kick you to the kerb.

Your debut album, Kaleidoscope (released in April 2006), was mastered in Los Angeles by Stones Throw Records master engineer Dave Cooley. Did you get to go over there for that? How did the connection come about?

The connection with Dave Cooley came about when we needed our first 12″ record mastered. I got in hold of him via the Internet not knowing he had done any work for Stones Throw, all I saw was a quote from J Dilla saying that Dave’s studio was good, that was enough of a selling point for me. As he was mastering the tracks we found out his history with Stones Throw and we were blown away that such a heavyweight engineer was helping us out. From our initial contact his studio now works for heaps of New Zealand acts incl. Mark De Clive-Lowe, Nathan Haines and Eru Dangerspiel.

Recent reviews have compared your sound to that of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Breakestra and Quantic Soul Orchestra; how do you feel about these comments? Are these artists that you draw inspiration from?

It is a hard comparison to take. Those artists are at the top of the food chain when it comes to Soul music. Yes, they are an influence but we are very aware that they have their sound and we need to develop our own sound, not just try and replicate what they are doing. I am more inclined to draw inspiration from outside the funk genre. I think there is more to learn from artists like Jeff Tweedy, Townes Van Zandt or Elliot Smith who communicate something through lyrics that only great songwriting can achieve.

As the Opensouls are involved in a variety of New Zealand crews (such as Che Fu’s The Krate’s, Ladi 6’s Verse Two, Recloose, Solaa and Tyra Hammond’s funk band The Tornado’s), is the Opensouls a side project for individual members, or are their other endeavours the side projects? How do this all work for the Opensouls?

This band is a crazy dynamic. I think we all will agree that when we get together and play live that it is the closest, best bunch of people that we could play music with. We all go out and work for other artists, as musicians we have to do that to keep our minds active but when we come off tour from those job and play as Opensouls we all realize that this is the one project worth putting in the hard yards for.

Hip hop is winding an interesting road through music history, what do you think of the current state of hip hop? And where do you feel that you fit on the hip hop spectrum?

I don’t know much about the current state of Hip Hop. To me there is always going to be a stand out release that may fit in to the Hip Hop Genre but its always something a bit left of field. Madlib is still ruling, Common seems to be hanging in there, Erykah Badu’s new album captured the vibe. There are some amazing things happening in Europe but it is more on the techno side of Hip Hop. As for what is on television top 40, I couldn’t care less. I think Hip Hop is in a good position as far as where it sits in the industry. It needs to be an underground music, it needs that constant low hum that works away while the top 40 slowly eats itself and decays.

What’s next for the Opensouls crew? New albums in the making? Future tours on the horizon?

We are working on our next record. We have a 7″ about to be release which will get to Australia in select vinyl stores, Northside Records etc. Hopefully if the Australian radio and television stations are nice to us you will hear our next single “Dollars” on the airwaves.

You can check out more of Opensouls at:

www.myspace.com/opensoulsspace

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K-os YES!

Friday, June 6th, 2008 | News | 14 Comments
K-os YES!

Canadian emcee K-os is set to release his new album entitled YES! in 2008. An amazing emcee with a reputation for innovation, K-os repeatedly reinvents his style as an musician, songwriter, singer, and super producer. In his own words the album includes “break beats – strings- tabla’s- and keyboard wizardy to be exposed..” an offer he is sure to deliver on.

Weaving Rock’n'Roll and Hip Hop with a string of different styles and production techniques seemlessly allows K-os to captivate audiences winning six Canadian Urban Music awards, a Source award, and a Grammy nomination along the way among many more

K-os – Man I Used To Be

Originally standing for “Kheavens Original Sound”, K-os now goes by the name “Knowledge of Self” making sense having enjoyed his poetry rap art of story since his first release in 2002 “Exit”. In 1996 Despite receiving an offer from BMG, k-os shyed away from the music business later saying that at this point in his career he had several albums finished, but was dissatisfied with his music. K-os labelled his music “pretentious and derivative,” and said he was “still trying to figure out who he was.” I guess he worked it out huh…

K-os – Crabbuckit

You can check out more of K-os at:

Updated article – Album released including new video for the single “4-3-2-1″
www.myspace.com/kos
www.wikipedia.org/wiki/K-os

YES! Follows Exit 2002, Joyful Rebellion 2004, Atlantis Hymns for Disco 2006

…bs

Foreign Exchange – ‘Leave It All Behind’

Sunday, June 1st, 2008 | News | 1 Comment
Foreign Exchange - 'Leave It All Behind'

Phonte of Little Brother & Dutch producer Nicolay form Foreign Exchange

Dynamic duo Phonte of Little Brother and Dutch producer Nicolay have teamed up to release the follow-up to their critically acclaimed Connected from 2004. Leave It All Behind will hit the shelves later this year, with Nicolay recently posting this on his Myspace: “Let me cut right to the chase… the new FOREIGN EXCHANGE record is almost finished! We are currently working on one of the last tracks, which is the title track, ‘Leave It All Behind’, already one of my personal favourites”.

The first albums’ smooth blend of hip hop, R&B and electronic soul was achieved with the two members having never physically met each other. Brilliant production and Phonte’s compelling lyricism resulted in what is in my opinion a straight-up classic.

Foreign Beggars
Phonte spoke briefly about the album on HipHopDx.com a while ago, when asked if the album would be similar to Connected, Phonte stated: “I can’t tell people what to expect. What I can tell them NOT to expect is ‘Connected Part 2.’ This is a totally different record with a different energy, but it’s still me and Nic doing what we do. I feel like this is the kind of record I’ve wanted to make all my life; I can’t wait for the world to hear it.” That makes two of us, Phonte.

You can check out Nicolay’s site at: www.nicolaymusic.com for more updates. or maybe you want to check out they’re track belowSincere

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Nas

Sunday, June 1st, 2008 | News | No Comments
Nas

Nas has announced that the controversial title of his new album has had to change. Originally slated to be released as “N*gger”, the Queensbridge MC appears to have finally given way to industry pressure, changing the title to simply “NAS”.

In a statement to AllHipHop.com, Nas said “It’s important to me that this album gets to the fans.”It’s been a long time coming. I want my fans to know that creatively and lyrically, they can expect the same content and the same messages. It’s that important. The streets have been waiting for this for a long time. The people will always know what the real title of this album is and what to call it.”

Nas & Jay Z perform together

Two of Hip Hop’s controversial rappers unite when Nas and Jay Z perform together

That said, there is certainly a waft of corporate sellout in the air. The title has had much attention since it was announced late last year, and major label demands have obviously played a part in this decision. But it could all have been a big publicity stunt from the beginning? Who knows these days, let’s just hope it’s another classic from the God’s Son. The album will be released in July on Def Jam Recordings.

You can check out more of Nas at:

www.godsson.net

www.myspace.com/nas

also well worth checking out is Road to Zion which Nas featured on with Damian Junior Gong Marley in 2005

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