Poetry

Omar Musa – Australian Slam Poet

Monday, January 12th, 2009 | News | 1 Comment
Omar Musa - Australian Slam Poet

I stumbled across this article the other day and thought it’s worth noting that the Australian scene is opening up more to the art and culture of hip hop. Omar Musa took out the title and $5,000 as the prize money for the Australian Slam Poetry championships.

Good to see poets coming up locally…

you can check out more if Omar Musa at:

His myspace

…bs

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Bobby McFerrin – Don’t Worry, Be Awesome!

Monday, November 24th, 2008 | News | No Comments
Bobby McFerrin - Don't Worry, Be Awesome!

You might remember Bobby McFerrin from his smash hit in 1988 ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’, or maybe from one of the TEN Grammy awards that he has received over his career, but like me you may not have given him much thought lately. From a musical family with his father Robert Sr Mcferrin being the first African American to be a regular in the New York Symphony Orchestra, it is no surprise that Bobby embarked on a musical pathway, the result of his exploration however cannot be understood by any influence or guidance he may have had, creating new realms of possibilty for artists to follow. On Saturday evening I was introduced to a video of a 2005 performance ‘Live in Montreal’ he held showing off his amazing talent for creating vocal pieces of art that defy logic and possibilty. His ability to fluctuate between four vocal ranges, combine accapella sounds with the beat he creates tapping on his chest, and the use of polyphonic sounds in which he creates 2 and 3 part harmonies from one vocal box are just extroadinary, and as for the musical pieces that he creates with these talents – they are just breathtaking…

Check it out:

Bobby McFerrin – Drive

As if his vocal talents aren’t enough, in 1994 Bobby Mcferrin was appointed creative chair of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and has made regular tours as the conductor for symphony orchestra including those from San Fransisco, New York, Philladelphia, Cleveland, Chicago and London.

Not much needs to be said when you have seen his performances, so I will leave those of you who are as inspired as I am can check out more of Bobby at:

www.bobbymcferrin.com

…bs

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YaHeard? Binary Star

Thursday, September 18th, 2008 | Reviews | 3 Comments
YaHeard? Binary Star

Back in the early years of high school I wasn’t much of a hip hop fan, bar the Snoop Dogg and Ice T cassettes i had dubbed off my friends older brothers. But after being introduced to the likes of Jurassic 5, Dilated Peoples and Gangstarr, my interest grew. Enjoying the underground side of things, I sought more artists like these and managed to stumble across something that well and truly tipped the scales for me, one of the dopest underground albums of all time; ‘Masters of the Universe’, released in 2000 by Binary Star. Jam packed with clever metaphors, punchlines and rhymes that need to be studied, this album is a shining representation of what underground hip hop is. Uh.. hang on, what underground hip hop used to be, I should say; they don’t make ‘em like this anymore.

After meeting in prison, MC’s Senim Silla and OneManArmy (a.k.a OneBeLo) recorded and independently released their debut album, Waterworld. Only about 1000 copies were pressed and distributed in 1999, and in the following year it was remixed, remastered, and re-released, as ‘Masters of the Universe’. Despite only selling 20,000 copies, the album received wide acclaim and would be high on the list of any respectable underground hip hop fan. Unfortunately the two split after this was released, citing creative differences, and have never reformed. However, both artists have released solo material in recent years (Senim Silla – The Name, The Motto, The Outcome, OneBeLo – S.O.N.O.G.R.A.M) and feature on each others albums.

Although the strength of this album lies in its MC’s, the beat on the first track, “Reality Check”, is mesmerising. Strings blast out of the speakers followed by a piano loop that builds with an ominous presence, before it fades and lets the beat rock just long enough for them to flip it, laying down lush piano and harps with OneManArmy unleashing his first verse. And this verse is a great reflection of what the rest of the album offers; OneManArmy dropping countless witty punchlines and rhymes that will have you nodding your head (”Rodney King ain’t ever felt a beat like this”, “I’m bad to the bone but X-ray’s can’t even see this”). “Conquistadors” is up next with its simple but effective bassline and cracking snare. The duo exchange metaphors and battle raps enthusiastically, Senim Sillia setting the tone from the first lines with “Feel the rhapsody, fill this joint to capacity, Senim grab mics with pitbull tenacity”. He keeps the ball rollin with the first of his solo tracks on the album, “Slang Blade”, where he rips it for two and half minutes straight without a hook over one of the best beats on the album

The two MC’s have fun on “Binary Shuffle”, bouncing along over a pretty simple bouncing beat with them chanting;

“Do you want to hear about the money we got? (oh no!)
Talk about the people we shot? (oh no!)
Bragg on the clothes we wear? (oh no!)
Do you think what we saying’ is fair? (oh yea!)
Do my crew rock the mic for days? (oh yea!)
Do my crew keep it live on stage? (oh yea!)
Do Binary Star got the flow? (oh yea!)
Don’t these wack emcees got to go? (oh yea!)”

A track that starts off like that is always going to appeal to me, and its especially refreshing listening to it in this current hip hop environment. “Fellowship” sees Athletic Mic League and Decompoze “rock heads like Mt Rushmore” with the dynamic duo, in another head nodding beat with a funky bassline. Decompoze and Senim Silla shine on this track, both ripping their verses to shreds. The title track, “Masters of the Universe”, sees the duo rapping together as “The Two-Headed Dragon”, weaving in and out of each others rhymes at a quick pace. Yet another track that is full of memorable lyrics, you’ll need to listen to it several times before get it all.

One of my personal favourites is “Indy 500″, which only actually features Decompoze. This track is a salute to the underground, where Decompoze rhymes about making it big but staying independent and true to why you’re making your music.

“All we need is beats and rhymes to go and spark it,
As long as we got the underground yo, we got a market,
I don’t need a major to tell me how to run it,
cause my goal’s to win the Indy 500″

The track starts off with a sample from a movie that really sets the tone, before Decompoze enters, just speaking about the industry at first, until a gritty beat drops over a superbly mellow piano loop. Easily one of the best tracks of the album.

“Honest Expression” has Silla and OneManArmy deliver a dope commentary on keeping it real as an underground hip hop artist and staying true to the artform instead of telling lies just to sell records. The track starts with a fantasticly appropriate martial arts movie sample about “Honestly expressing yourself”, before the two MC’s come in together and lay down some of the most refreshing rhymes of the album:

Senim Silla:

“Dig – I’ma put it on the table,
I ain’t a thug nigga and playa, I ain’t playful,
I’m just Senim Silla, a man without label,
Standin’ on my own two just tryin’ to stay stable,
Speakin’ what I know to only what I’m able”

OneManArmy:

“I ain’t hardcore, I don’t pack a 9 millimeter,
Most of y’all gangster rappers ain’t hardcore neither,
Whoever get mad then I’m talkin ’bout you,
Claim you fear no man but never walk without crew”

I love hearing tracks like this, hip hop artists making hip hop for the right reasons. And doing so with a precision and skill that sees them easily capable of mocking those who are abusing the art form for its payout.

I’ve listened to many dope hip hop albums over the years, but I consistently struggle to find music that can match up to this. I could write all day about each and every song, as they are all pretty damn good, and all feature the trademark metaphor-heavy rhyme-style that will have you rewinding to catch lyrics often. Even after eight years in my possession, it still rates high on my playlists. OneManArmy and Senim Silla have an amazing chemistry, and through their creative wordplay and raw honesty they have created a true underground hip hop classic.

Anyway, times up.

Do hip hop a favour, don’t sleep on this if you haven’t heard it.

You can catch Binary Star at:

www.myspace.com/4003715

or at OneManArmy’s record label

www.subterraneousrecords.com

Peace

…cracked

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Typical Cats

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008 | News | No Comments
Typical Cats

Despite their name, the refreshing style of poetry and jazz coming from these three emcee’s and DJ from Chicago is anything but typical. You might catch them dropping playful raps that challenge the limits of story telling, or you might catch them slumping into slow and simple jazz licks, either way all of their incredible vocal flows take you on a journey of rhyming and timing.

Made up of MCs Qwel, Qwazaar and Denizen Kane, with producer/DJ Natural, and assistance from Kid Knish, Typical Cats came together as a group on the WHPK Wednesday Night Rap Show, an independent Chicago radio station on FM 88.5 covering the South Side of Chicago.

The three emcee’s individual lyrical styles have you come away from their albums feeling like there were three solo artists battling each other, but with a unique tamed aggression. Their self titled album brought a lot of attention to some otherwise fairly underground artists. The album put on display the many flavours Typical Cats have between them, floating effortlessly from hard hitting speed rap, to lazy jazz poetry in a half a beat, telling stories with words, piano’s, and anything else they felt like.

It is as hard to describe Typical Cats as it is to find decent video footage of their performances, so the below video will at least give you an idea of their style…

Aside from Typical Cats, these emcee’s make regular noise in the Chicago and bay area freestyle scene. Denizen Kanes’ other projectI was born with two tongues’ see’s him spending much time in Oakland where he performs with this spoken word community. Qwel on the other hand has been involved in 16 albums since the release of their debut album ‘Typical Cats’ in 2000, working on collaboration projects with Maker, Jackson Jones, Meaty Ogre, Mike Gao, Silence, and Robust just to name a few.

You can check out more of Typical Cats at:

www.myspace.com/typicalcatscrew

check out ‘Snake Oil’ and ‘Quleoquiallisms for the relaxing simplicity:

www.myspace.com/typicalcats

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Floetry … Damn

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008 | News | 1 Comment
Floetry ... Damn

Having only recently heard of this amazing duet, we know little about them. What we know is that people need to hear this. So check out some of their appearances below…

Floetry – Everybody Heard

Meeting originally through their mutual love for basketball, Marsha and Natalie both studied at the Brit School for Performing Arts & Technology. Natalie came to attention in the music industry as a founding member of the performance poetry group “3 Plus 1″ which was making plenty of noise around London, Birmingham, and Manchester. After inviting Marsha to join her on stage to perform at a spoken word night, together they cemented their signature style in a piece they had created called “Fantasize” (below). Seamlessly combining their talents for singing and spoken word, they deliver a powerful performance unlike anything in the world of poetry or hip hop today…

Fantasize – Floetry

Damn…

If your still reading this, then I can assume you like what you see here. Def Poetry Jam has been a source of inspiration for many people as well as artists we know. Well worth a look at, perhaps best introducing yourself through the appearances posted on www.youtube.com

Another breathtaking poet featured throughout Def Jam Poetry worth checking out is Black Ice seen below:

Damn

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