Rock The Bells 2011 Brings Big Hip Hop Names Back To The Roots

This year’s Bells, which came through Governors Island…

Classic-rock stars love to fetishize their own work in concert. There’s everything from Roger Waters’ hugely successful tour of “The Wall” to Deep Purple blowing out every track from “Machine Head” to an upcoming string of Steely Dan shows at the Beacon Theater (scattered dates from Sept. 14-23), with each devoted to a different disk from the group’s sterling catalogue.

If rockers can acknowledge the respect and awe awarded certain works, why can’t hip-hoppers? That question came to nag Chang Weisberg, wrangler of the annual Rock the Bells tour.

Starting last year, Weisberg challenged his headliners to deliver their most cohesive and resonant works in their entirety, including Snoop Dogg (who singled out “Doggystyle”) A Tribe Called Quest (lionizing “Midnight Marauders”) and Rakim (re-creating “Paid In Full”).

This year’s Bells, which came through Governors Island Saturday, ups the ante. Artists will serve up no fewer than 11 mint hip-hop touchstones, including Nas on “Illmatic,” Lauryn Hill with “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” Erykah Badu on “Baduizm,” Cypress Hill with “Black Sunday” and Mobb Deep rechristening “The Infamous.”

“Those albums can stand with any classic rock work,” Weisberg says. “They mean as much to the fans and they remain as relevant as when they came out, which is the sign of a classic.”

The idea for a live canonization of seminal works began three years ago with Cypress Hill (whose annual “Smoke Out” tour Weisberg also organizes). “I said to them, ‘You’re the Pink Floyd of hip hop,” he says. “So why don’t you do ‘Black Sunday’ front to back?”

At first, the guys were reluctant, since they weren’t sure they could re-create all the instrumental parts. But the result went over well enough to encourage Weisberg to pursue it further.

Not all the acts were instantly keen to play along. Mos Def and Talib Kweli told him their “Black Star” CD “was never meant to be performed live,” Weisberg recalls. “But I said, ‘At the end of the day, it’s how you interpret it.'”

Another problem, according to the promoter, is that “most hip-hop acts don’t rehearse.” And this would require lots of it. But eventually they all caved. “To see all the members of Wu-Tang rehearse ’36 Chambers’ was surreal,” Weisberg says. “Normally, I can’t get them to get together 10 minutes before a show.”

“Rock the Bells” began in 2004 with a reunited Wu-Tang as its first headliner (just four months before Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s death). In the years since, Bells has focused its character on hip hop’s most lyrically ambitious, and alterna-minded, stars.

“It’s an education,” Weisberg says, “a way to learn where hip hop came from.”

In that sense, the focus often falls in the rearview mirror, with ’90s hip hop posited as the genre’s peak. At the same time, the fest has featured emerging names, some of whom have gained great currency after their appearances. Two years ago, Bells featured a then-little-known Santogold. Last year, it introduced many to B.o.B. and Wiz Khalifah. This year, Weisberg singles out Mac Miller and Curren as names to look out for, as well as the comically minded Childish Gambino.

“Next year, he’s going to have the number-one record in the country,” he predicts.

At the same time, Bell’s headliners blatantly push heritage hip hop, emphasized by all the reunions, comebacks and CD re-creations. Weisberg plans to keep that motif going. His ideal track-by-track replays?

“Jay-Z doing ‘Reasonable Doubt,’ The Fugees doing ‘The Score,’ The Beastie Boys doing either ‘Paul’s Boutique’ or ‘Ill Communication,’ and Outkast doing whatever they want.”

His ultimate coup?

“If N.W.A. reunited with Easy-E’s son,” Weisberg says without hesitation. “I’m putting that out there. It’s Chang’s dream.”

Rock the Bells: Governors Island, Saturday, noon to 11 p.m. with Lauryn Hill, Nas, Erykah Badu, Cypress Hill, Mobb Deep and more than 25 other acts.

Source: New York Daily News

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25 Years Of Def Jam: How The Sound Of New York Came To Rule The World

Without hip-hop we wouldn’t have Obama…

Public Enemy

Public Enemy, hip-hop’s most thrilling and innovative group and an early signing to Def Jam, in London’s Hyde Park in 1987. Photograph: David Corio/Redferns

‘Without hip-hop we wouldn’t have Obama,” says Russell Simmons, co-founder of Def Jam Recordings, media mogul and the original template for every entrepreneur on Forbes magazine’s now annual “hip-hop rich list”. There’s plenty of truth in his words.

Back in April 2008 while still on the campaign trail, Barack Obama famously dismissed criticism from Hillary Clinton by brushing specks of imaginary dirt off each shoulder. Pundits applauded his ability to rise above the mud-slinging without even saying a word. But for a different audience, weaned on hip-hop, there was a second meaning: Obama was deliberately mimicking dance moves from the video to Jay-Z’s 2004 hit “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”. Here was a potential president who at least spoke their language. Simmons adds: “It’s not just black kids. White kids who grew up on hip-hop have progressive politics. Hip-hop influenced a generation who helped put Obama in the White House.”

President Obama – Brushes Dirt off[yframe url=’’]


Def Jam influenced that generation more than any other label. The standard view, that it’s hip-hop’s equivalent of Motown, doesn’t quite do justice to the company’s achievements. Which is something anyone flicking through its official history, Def Jam Recordings: The First 25 Years of the Last Great Record Label, published this month, will quickly realise.

Buy Def Jam Recordings: The First 25 Years of the Last Great Record Label by clicking here.

Although not the only label to export the music and culture of inner-city America to the world, Def Jam is the most significant, artistically and commercially. Key signings have altered the art form, among them LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, Jay-Z and Kanye West. And in 1999, when Simmons sold his remaining 40% share of the company to Universal, it was worth £135m.

Def Jam was founded in 1984, by which time Simmons was already a manager and promoter, steering the careers of rap’s breakout solo star Kurtis Blow as well as the charismatic trio that featured Simmons’s brother Joseph, Run-DMC. Growing up in Hollis, in the New York borough of Queens, Simmons had run with gangs and sold drugs as a youngster, although not on any significant level. He remained close enough to the street to be in exactly the right place as hip-hop emerged. Falling in with Rick Rubin, who became his Def Jam co-founder, made for the the oddest of couples.

A 21-year-old aspiring record producer from the Long Island suburbs, Rubin was keen on all things confrontational and loud, be it punk, metal or rap. Still a student at NYU, he received demos in the post and held meetings with emerging talent such as a teenage LL Cool J in his student digs.

LL Cool J – Radio[yframe url=’’]


Rubin and Simmons were outsiders and happy to be so. An early interview with record industry bible Billboard, quoted in the book, has Simmons declaring that he would be releasing records that “nobody would distribute but us”. Today he credits the more arty, downtown Manhattan scenes with giving him more early support than mainstream black music business, then dominated by lightweight soul and what was left of disco.

Success came quickly: within three years LL Cool J was hip-hop’s biggest star; Def Jam was home to its most thrilling and innovative group, Public Enemy, there were significant inroads into the pop charts with the Beastie Boys’ multimillion-selling Licensed to Ill, produced by Rubin; and a growing influence on culture in general.

Beastie Boys – Brass Monkey[yframe url=’’]


Alongside the flyers, posters and behind-the-scenes photos included in The Last Great Record Label is an old advert from Volkswagen, featuring a Golf with the circular VW badge missing and the slogan: “Designer labels always get ripped off”. The ad, doubly clever in hindsight, cashes in on the fact that, at the time, Beastie Boys fans were swiping the badges to copy the band’s Mike D, who wore the interlocking VW symbol on a chain round his neck as a joke, mocking the trend for rappers to sport heavy gold neck wear. Approval from hip-hop’s audience kept Volkswagen relevant – a boon for the car company, then best known for the first incarnation of the Beetle, a symbol of the 60s counter-culture that was long past its sell-by date. Soon other big businesses also moved to cash in on hip-hop’s popularity.

As for music’s impact in Britain, Def Jam’s package tour of 1987 is considered something of a landmark moment. On the bill were Public Enemy, LL Cool J and Eric B & Rakim (not on Def Jam but managed by Simmons). The beginning of Public Enemy’s London set – air raid sirens and the words “London, England! Consider yourselves warned!” – would be recorded for posterity, opening the group’s brilliant, intensely political second album, It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. “You had the so-called British invasion of America by the Beatles 20 years before, and we thought of this as the reverse, a hip-hop invasion of Britain,” says the group’s frontman Chuck D. “We had a mission, which was not to match the hype, but exceed it.”

Seeds were certainly sown. A year later, Russell Simmons’s management arm would sign up one of the few prominent UK rappers of the era, the late Derek B. And Nation of Millions was the first Def Jam release bought by a young DJ Semtex, who now fronts BBC Radio 1Xtra’s flagship hip-hop show. He insists that, “Public Enemy educated me as much as the school system”. Semtex also helped set up the UK arm of Def Jam in the early 1990s, working in A&R. But there would be no British Public Enemy: big-selling Tim Westwood compilation albums were more in tune with British tastes.

Derek B – Get Down[yframe url=’’]


Nevertheless, Semtex’s first signing, Fatman Scoop’s party anthem Be Faithful, topped the singles chart, and he gained an insight into the label’s longevity. “They have an intensive approach to business, loyalty to artists, and respect for hip-hop culture,” he says. “No one wants to be responsible for the demise of the heritage that’s been created.”

Of course, there have been bumps in the road. Rick Rubin left as early as 1988, although he’s now so revered as a producer that in 2007 he was named one of Time’s most influential people on the planet.

The Beastie Boys departed after one album, and the mid-1990s, when gangsta rap and Los Angeles ruled, were not kind to an operation with such deep New York roots. But a late-90s alliance with Jay-Z was another masterstroke. He was even the label’s president for a while, taking Kanye West and Rihanna under his wing before departing two years ago.

Hip-hop itself has changed enormously of course, becoming mainstream enough to be referenced by the US president. Although, according to Russell Simmons, that doesn’t mean it’s gone soft. “It still has power,” he says. “You still hear people say, rappers are so sexist, they’re so gangster. They’re not. They’re mirroring what’s going on in society, some of it positive, some negative. Which is what poets have always done down the ages.”

Source: The Observer – UK

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Hip Hop In Kathmandu – Funky Fresh Elements

Keeping up with the rhythm powerful rhyming…


KATHMANDU: Keeping up with the rhythm powerful rhyming lyrics flowed at the House of Music, Thamel on September 3. Whether the lyrics were about woman, expressing gratitude, politics, rising up or about life, the words reached out and touched the hearts of everyone there.

Such was the scenario at Funky Fresh ELEMENTS where hip hop artistes from both commercial and underground scenes poured their heart out in their own style.

Performers like Ujjwala Maharjan, Yama Buddha, Gaurav Subba, Yanik Shrestha and Aidray overwhelmed the crowd with their hard hitting poetry recitation. One by one, they came on the stage and performed their inspiring poems like Thank You, Phoenix, Yo Prasango, and Life is Divine to name a few.

Seeing them perform enthusiastically with passion the crowd couldn’t stop cheering and applauding. “Hip hop music has a language which is universal,” said performer Shrestha from the stage.

Yet another element of hip hop music came forth with performances of Manas Ghale from Nepsydaz and the Funky Fresh Crew. Even a rock band like Albatross couldn’t stay away from the stage. The band collaborated with Lyrics Indy Project to perform cover numbers like Bulls on Parade and Rise Up among others.

Sharing on his connection with hip hop, Sunny Manandhar of Albatross explained, “Hip hop came from rap. And I have always loved rap and hip hop music. I like the beats and the noise that is in a way music that is used in hip hop.”

The event was held to celebrate the conclusion of a workshop on hip hop held from August 21 to 28. It was organised by Funky Fresh, a universal hip hop movement in collaboration with Eleven11 and House of Music.

“This hip hop movement is all about taking hip hop music out in the streets as a connotation of peace and unity and thus taking it away from the gangster outlook,” said Spandan Lama Mocktan, CEO of Eleven11.

Source: The Himalayan Times

LexZyne Info: Rap came from Hip Hop.  Rap actually is an element OF the Hip Hop culture.

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[New Video] Pete Rock And Smif-n-Wessun ft. Freeway – Roses

Don’t wait for your fam, your folks, your…

smiff-n-wessun freeway

Another new joint from Smif-n-Wessun and the new Classic album Monumental.  Don’t wait for your fam, your folks, your people, your loved ones… to pass on before letting them know how you feel about them.

Now press play and pass it on.

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Pete Rock & Smif-n-Wessun ft. Freeway- Roses[yframe url=’’]


Buy Monumental by Smif-n-Wessun by clicking here.


Vicious Cycle / The Co-Op Rock The Bells 2011 In Dallas, Tx

Vicious Cycle and the Co-Op opened up for…

Vicious Cycle and the Co-Op opened up for Raekwon, Ghostface Killah and Cappadonna rock Dallas for 2nd show of the Rae Ghost/Mobb Deep Tour at the House of Blues for Rock The Bells.  Check out some of the footage from their show.  They truly Rocked it!


Vicious Cycle/The Co-Op – Rock The Bells 2011 – Dallas[yframe url=’’]


Raekwon, Ghostface, Cappadonna, and Mob Deep do their thing at the Rock The Bells show in Dallas, Texas this year.  “Mr. Who is that? A-yo, The Wu is back..”.  If you didn’t catch it, here’s a glimpse.

Raekwon, Ghostface and Cappadonna – Rock The Bells 2011 – Dallas[yframe url=’′]


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Turn Your Speakers Way Up: Respect It!!

Old School Scholar would like to once again thank our…

Old School Scholar would like to once again thank our megamix creator GrandSinister Ice for sending us the track outline of the megamix two. It contains 10 segments and bits of 37 tracks for all you beat junkies and nuts.

Also, if all you Hip-Hop Djs have notice, what makes this megamix much different from the rest, is… Read the rest by clicking here.

Turn your speakers WAY up… NOW… press play and lets go!!

OldSchoolScholar – Old School Hip Hop Mega Mix[yframe url=’’]


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Blu, What Happened? “Jesus” Reviewed

More often than not when Blu’s name is brought up… hip-hop star Blu may not be a fan of getting reviewed but in truth he has little to fear from hip-hop critics. More often than not when Blu’s name is brought up, praises are offered for his honesty and sharp delivery, praising his ability to connect with audiences by BEING real instead of “keeping it real.” I’ve actually found it kind of hard to find anybody with something bad to say about Blu, which makes me wonder why he has it in for hip-hop writers. Perhaps he had a bad experience very early in his career which he hasn’t gotten over, but the who/what/why is something we don’t and may never know.

Perhaps that reluctance to be reviewed, whether positively or negatively, is what led to the ambiguity behind this release. It initially leaked on Bandcamp under the singular and cryptic moniker of “B.” After word of the album spread it didn’t take long for hip-hop heads to figure out C is for Cookie and B is for Blu, which makes one wonder – why do it at all? Furthermore, why take it down once everybody had figured out the mystery? Perhaps the real answer for this enigmatic behavior is that Blu simply wanted to build some buzz for B. It’s not exactly an alter ego, but as we all learned from Keith Thornton, the nom de plume is easily changed while the man under the mask stays largely the same. So call him B, or call him Blu, it really doesn’t matter what you do. All that matters is that he got people talking, and perhaps coincidentally or perhaps not, most of them weren’t critics.

There’s no hiding any more though. B’s “Jesus” came out digitally on July 26th and will be out on compact disc August 30th. The press kits hails the fact that this “mystery project” will get “a proper release” but these days a digital drop date is pretty much synonymous with a proper release as we are slowly but inexorably moving away from going to stores to buy albums. Whatever version you’ve got, “Jesus” is the kind of title that may provoke people as being sacrilegious, but I find it’s basically inconsequential. You could have called this album “Reuben” or “Cat” or “Horseshoe” or “Zephyr” and achieved the same effect. It describes nothing about the album whatsoever with the sole exception of the title track, which was produced by Madlib:

“I was six when I played Jesus, nowadays I could play a demon
Back of my mind, hear my ma speaking
To a kingpin, from an ink pen
Askin he then, what he believe in?”

Madlib play the smooth note for Blu here, layering up a lightly tapped drum track with a cool guitar riff and Blu’s slightly distorted vocals. It sounds like he got a little too close to the mic and didn’t equalize the volume, but since it never gets better or worse it occurs to the listener this is an intentional artistic choice. I don’t think it detracts from the song so it’s certainly not a negative criticism, just a note to those hearing it for the first time of what to expect. And speaking of what to expect, the album declares itself to be “New Shit” right at the start yet Blu never utters a single word, letting the samples of someone..  Read the rest by clicking here.

Buy “Jesus” by B by clicking here.

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Blu – Doowhop[yframe url=’’]


Check How It Happened: Mos Def

Regarded as one of the most promising rappers to…

Born Dante Terrell Smith on December 11, 1973, in Brooklyn, NY, Mos Def began rapping at age nine and began professionally acting at age 14, when he appeared in a TV movie. After high school, he began acting in a variety of television roles, most notably appearing in 1994 on a short-lived Bill Cosby series, The Cosby Mysteries. In 1994 Mos Def formed the rap group Urban Thermo Dynamics with his younger brother and sister, and signed a recording deal with Payday Records that didn’t amount to much. In 1996 his solo career was launched with a pair of high-profile guest features on De La Soul’s “Big Brother Beat” and Da Bush Babees’ “S.O.S.” A year later, in 1997, Mos Def released his debut single, “Universal Magnetic,” on Royalty Records, and it became an underground rap hit. This led to a recording contract with Rawkus Records, which was just getting off the ground at the time, and he began working on a full-length album with like-minded rapper Talib Kweli and producer Hi-Tek. The resulting album, Black Star (1998), became one of the most celebrated rap albums of its time. A year later came Mos Def’s solo album, Black on Both Sides, and it inspired further attention and praise. Yet, aside from appearances on the Rawkus compilation series Lyricist Lounge and Soundbombing, no follow-up recordings were forthcoming, as the up-and-coming rapper turned his attention elsewhere, away from music.

Bush Babees – S.O.S. ft Mos Def[yframe url=’’]


De La Soul – Big Brother Beat ft Mos Def[yframe url=’’]


Mos Def – Universal Magnetic[yframe url=’’]


During the early 2000s, Mos Def acted in several films (Monster’s Ball, Bamboozled, Brown Sugar, The Woodsman) and even spent some time on Broadway (the Pulitzer Prize-winning Topdog/Underdog). He simultaneously worked on the Black Jack Johnson project with several iconic black musicians: keyboardist Bernie Worrell (Parliament/Funkadelic), guitarist Dr. Know (Bad Brains), drummer Will Calhoun (Living Colour), and bassist Doug Wimbish (the Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash, Living Colour). This project aimed to reclaim rock music, especially the rap-rock hybrid, from such artists as Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst, who Mos Def openly despised. What made Black Jack Johnson so anticipated though was not so much the supergroup roster of musicians or even Mos Def himself, but rather the lack of black rock bands. Following the demise of Living Colour, there were few, if any, that had attained substantial success. Mos Def hoped to infuse the rock world with his all-black band, and during the early 2000s, he performed several small shows with his band around the New York area. In October 2004, he finally delivered a second solo album, The New Danger, which involved Black Jack Johnson on a few tracks.


Black Jack Johnson – Hip Hop[yframe url=’’]


Black Jack Johnson – Blue Black Jack[yframe url=’′]


Two years later, after a few more acting roles — including the Golden Globe-winning Lackawanna Blues and the Emmy-winning Something the Lord Made, both of which were made-for-television movies — Mos Def released his third solo album, True Magic (2006). A contract-fulfilling release for Geffen, which had absorbed Rawkus years prior, the album trickled out in a small run during the last week of 2006. Bizarrely, the disc came with no artwork and was sold in a clear plastic case — though its single, “Undeniable,” did manage to grab a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Solo Performance. The Ecstatic, released on the Universal-distributed Downtown label, followed in June 2009; at that point, Mos Def had significant acting roles in Michel Gondry’s Be Kind Rewind (in which he co-starred with Jack Black) and Cadillac Records (he played Chuck Berry).


Mos Def – Ms Fat Booty[yframe url=’’]


Mos Def – Undeniable[yframe url=’’]


Mos Def – Priority[yframe url=’’]


Regarded as one of the most promising rappers to emerge in the late ’90s, Mos Def turned to acting in subsequent years as music became a secondary concern for him. He did release new music from time to time, including albums such as The New Danger (2004), but his output was erratic and seemingly governed by whim. Mos Def nonetheless continued to draw attention, especially from critics and underground rap fans, and his classic breakthrough albums — Black Star (1998), a collaboration with Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek; and Black on Both Sides (1999), his solo debut — continued to be revered, all the more so as time marched forward. Mos Def often used his renown for political purposes, protesting in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Jena Six incident in 2007, for instance.

Source: MTV

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Mos Def – Brooklyn[yframe url=’’]





Torae – For The Record Produced By Pete Rock, Diamond D

Brooklyn, New York emcee Torae is at…

Brooklyn, New York emcee Torae is at work on his third official album. The Coney Island native has yet to release a title or label for the project, however through Twitter, it has been confirmed that Queens, New York legend Large Professor and Virginia’s Nottz are contributing tracks.

While 2009’s Double Barrel was a full collaborative effort with producer Marco Polo, 2008’s Daily Conversation featured production from the likes of Khrysis, Black Milk and DJ Premier.

Marco Polo & Torae – Double Barrel[yframe url=’’]


Torae – Switch  Produced by Black milk[yframe url=’′]


Earlier this year, Torae, who also serves as head of A&R for Soulspazm Records, released the retail mixtape Heart Failure.

(July 23)

UPDATE: Billed as Torae’s “solo debut,” For The Record will release November 1. In addition to the previously reported Nottz and Large Professor contributions, esteemed producers such as Pete Rock, 9th Wonder, Diamond D and previous album-partner Marco Polo are involved. The album will be released on Internal Affairs Entertainment.

To view the tracklist click here.

Source:  HipHopDx

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