Archive for May 20, 2011

Article: Jadakiss Says ‘I’m Top 5′ Among Hip-Hop’s Dead or Alive by Nadeska Alexis

Jadakiss’ fans have been patiently waiting on new music from the Yonkers native — it’s been two years since he released ‘The Last Kiss’ LP — and now he’s ready to say thank you for the support they’ve showed him over the years.

On May 24, Jadakiss will put out his eighth mixtape, ‘I Love You (A Dedication to My Fans),’ in honor of those loyal followers who have stood by his side over the past decade. “Why sugarcoat it?” he tells the BoomBox, in reference to the mixtape’s sentimental title. “It’s just how I was feeling.”

‘I Love You,’ which Jada describes as a more heartfelt compilation than his previous, three-part ‘The Champ Is Here’ series, will include features from Rick Ross, Styles P, Teyana Taylor, and if all goes as planned, almost each track will have an accompanying video. First up will be the visuals for ‘Hold Me Down,’ which have already been filmed.

The new mixtape will precede Jada’s fourth solo album ‘Top 5 Dead or Alive,’ due out later this year on Island Def Jam. The 35-year-old rapper, who sold over 3 million copies of his 2001 solo debut, ‘Kiss Tha Game Goodbye,’ and spawned three hit singles with 2009′s ‘Kiss of Death,’ chose another direct title for his fourth LP. “If you’re just focusing on lyrics, I feel that I’m in the Top 5 with anybody,” he explains. Besides the title’s bold statement — a topic that has been fiercely debated for years in the hip-hop community — his number one focus remains on satisfying his loyal fan base. “I just want it to be better than the last album and I want the fans to appreciate it,” he says.

After the release of ‘I Love You’ and ‘Top 5 Dead Or Alive,’ Jada will begin work on the long- delayed LOX album, which he hopes will be released by early 2012. During a break from the recording process, Kiss speaks on the rappers he puts in his Top 5, who he’ll tap for his forthcoming album and what it was like to meet the king and queen of Swaziland.

‘I Love You (A Dedication to My Fans)’ is a very straightforward mixtape title.

It’s been 10, nearly 15 years, that my fans have been supporting me, so I really love them. Whether it’s Jadakiss, the LOX or D-Block supporters, I really appreciate them and love them for real. You’re spending your money on my music and my concerts and shows, so, I love you, real talk.

Did any particular event inspire the title?

Me and my homies always say, “I love you,” to the waiters, flight attendants or anyone that’s helping us. And one day, while I was saying it, my friend said, “You should name your new mixtape that.” And I thought, you know what? You’re right. ‘I Love You (A Dedication To The Fans)’ and it just took off from there.

How will it compare to ‘The Champ Is Here’ mixtapes?

If you follow ‘The Champ is Here’ series, it’s always real hard, and this is still hard but it’s a got a little bit more of a softer feel. There are more joints for the females, more heartfelt songs, more real-life issues. It’s also ride-out music, the songs that you might start bopping to and start thinking about your ex-girlfriend, or one of your loved ones that’s no longer here, or one of your close friends that’s incarcerated, or somebody in the hospital. That kind of music.

Following the mixtape will be the new album, ‘Top 5 Dead or Alive.’ Do you consider yourself to be an underrated rapper?

I consider myself to be blessed but a lot of fans and other people think I’m very underrated. They feel I should be on a higher pedestal than some artists who get praised more, because they feel that I’m better than them. But coming from where I’m from, I’m just happy to have a chance to take care of my family and receive the financial blessings from the work I put in. People always complain but it can always be worse. So why complain?

If I never sold 10 million records, or if you take away all the accolades and money and you’re just focusing on lyrics, I feel that I’m in the Top 5 with anybody. You can go get anybody in the world, strip us of everything, put us in the studio with a track, and I’m Top 5. I don’t care who you bring, I’mma be able to come out standing. That’s how I feel about that.

If you’re one of five, who else is included in the ‘Top 5 Dead or Alive’?

It’s so hard because this whole thing is blown out of proportion with the number system — the Top 10, the Top 5 and all of that. Everybody goes off different things: record sales, deals, this and that, but if you just strip all of that and put it to lyrics, I’m there. But I would always say Jay-Z, Nas, Biggie, Tupac and not even including myself I’ll put Eminem and Styles P in there. That’s my personal list.

What features and production have you lined up for the new album?

I didn’t really get into the big name producers or artists on this album. Most of my features will probably be favors from somebody that I did things for previously. Styles and Sheek [Louch] are going to be on there, and there will be some of the new artists I’m signing, trying to break in and working with. Along with that, maybe a Drake, Weezy or Jay-Z feature — one or two good ones — and that’s about it. I ain’t going too crazy with it.

Does the title ‘Top 5 Dead or Alive’ indicate that this album is set to be a classic?

Everybody tries to make a classic, but you’ve just got to make something that’s a thirst quencher at the moment when it comes out. People will always remember it like, “I don’t know what was happening then, but I remember that ‘Top 5 Dead Or Alive’ came out and it came out at the right time.” All I try to do is fill the void from the last time I came out with some good product that was appreciated.

Will it be a more emotional record like ‘I Love You?’

‘Top 5 Dead Or Alive’ is very heartfelt, with a lot of pain on it. I’m just painting everything around the pain, so there will still be party joints and story joints. It’s just classic Jada, with a 2012 twist. I’ve already shot the video for ‘Hold Me Down,’ and then I’m going to shoot the rest as viral videos. I’m trying to shoot videos for all of ‘I love You.’

The new LOX album has been constantly delayed because of label troubles. Has there been any progress recently?

I think we finally got untangled so hopefully in the near future, sometime around the fourth quarter of 2011, or the first quarter of 2012, we should be coming your way. We’re still early in the process now, because we just got the politics out of the way entirely. Now we’re able to move on with the creative aspect and get to the next step.

You recently did a benefit concert in Swaziland. Are you enjoying the opportunity to perform internationally?

Yeah, Swaziland is actually a kingdom — it’s the last kingdom in Africa, so that was an experience of a lifetime. I met the king, the prince, the queen, and it was really like ‘Coming to America’ in real life. I’m supposed to go back to Johannesburg in June and I just got a couple more offers that I’m trying to set up.

Watch Jadakiss’ ‘Can’t Stop Me’



Article: How Hip-Hop Is Keeping Malcolm X Alive by JT Langley

With today being the birthday of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, better known as Malcolm X, I figured it would be a good tribute to throw up a collection of various hip-hop projects and media built from th influence of one of the African-American community’s most influential leaders. Samples of his speeches, shoutouts, and tributes aren’t difficult to find throughout the hip-hop spectrum, and artists speaking openly of Malcolm X outside of their music only further proves his lasting influence on the genre.

Below is a collection of tracks featuring bars about Malcolm or clips of his speeches, as well as some various videos and interviews demonstrating emcees showing their support of the human rights activist whose efforts at attaining equality resonate 46 years after his death. Had he not been assassinated, Malcolm X would be 86-years-old today.

Here’s a clip of Mos Def reading from Malcolm X’s “Message to the Grass Roots” that was delivered on November 10, 1963 at the Northern Negro Grass Roots Leadership Conference where he discussed the nature of revolution in regards to the African Revolution and Negro Revolution, as well as differences in what he dubbed the “house Negro” and the “field Negro.” This was one of Malcolm X’s final speeches before his departure from the Nation of Islam. Many have noted these as some of his most political words.

Mos also usual a sample from Malcolm in his song “Supermagic” from his ’09 album The Ecstatic.

In January of 2011, the hip-hop group Actual Proof dropped a pair of mixtapes titled The Talented Tenth: The Malcolm X Experience and The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Experience, each set to celebrate the lives of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Hit the link to read my review, and listen to the full pair of mixtapes in the player below:

Dead Prez, being major hip-hop activists for Afrocentricity and the African-American tradition, have been dropping tracks with Malcolm X mentions since their debut album Let’s Get Free. Here’s a pair from their discography:

Dead Prez – “Malcolm Garvey Huey” and “PolitriKKKs”

This past February, Talib Kweli spoke on Malcolm X in an interview with MTV News during the celebration of Black History Month:

“Without trying to disrespect anybody’s beliefs, [Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X] are our prophets for our generation. In the scope of history, they haven’t been gone for too long. Someone asked me ‘Do you think the spirit of King is in hip-hop?’ And if you think about it, hip-hop wouldn’t exist without King. Our whole movement is based on Dr. King and Malcolm X.”

On Wu-Tang Clan’s track “I Can’t Go To Sleep” from their millennium album The W, RZA drops the line “They shot Malcolm in the chest front of his little seeds”:

Ghostface Killah also uses a Malcolm X speech sample in his song “Malcolm” from his 2000 album Supreme Clientele.

One of the more popularly known Malcolm X mentions pops up in the intro of Public Enemy’s track “Bring the Noise” from the sophomore ’88 album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. A cut sample is taken from Malcolm X’s “Message to the Grass Roots” speech in which the chant “Too Black, Too Strong” is repeated. The full clip of the speech cut is below the track.

“It’s just like when you’ve got some coffee that’s too black, which means it’s too strong. What do you do? You integrate it with cream, you make it weak. But if you pour too much cream in it, you won’t even know you ever had coffee. It used to be hot, it becomes cool. It used to be strong, it becomes weak. It used to wake you up, now it puts you to sleep.”



Article: Jill Scott Defends Common; Weighs In On White House Controversy by Chuck “Jigsaw” Creekmur

“I would hope that my son grows up to be like that man.” – Jill Scott on Common.

When Jill Scott speaks, she speaks with conviction and from a pure place. So, when Common was vigorously attacked by the far Right for views that he’s expressed in the past, those that know the Chicago rapper and the full breadth of his work were stunned. Both Common and Jill were invited to the White House by President Obama and The First Lady for “An Evening of Poetry,” meant to be a night of creative and artistic expression. It morphed into a crusade to malign the president and the artists a mere week after the killing of Bin Laden. Jill Scott was no exception to the collective gasp. Scott takes a moment to reflect on the White House controversy and represent for her fellow poet and musician.

AllHipHop.com: What were your thoughts on the whole controversy with Obama and Common, and yourself. You were thrown in there as well a little bit. Do you have any thoughts on that? And it’s a little bit hindsight now.

Jill Scott: I’m trying to understand — I don’t understand it, quite frankly. I know, I know Common; I’ve known Common for years. This is not some, some angry person. He has a point of view and an opinion, and in the United States we are, we should be able to speak our mind, particularly artists. When you censor the artist’s thought, when you censor creation, you’ve got — that’s a serious issue in society. I don’t understand that. What Common said, a lot of Americans, and a lot of — and I won’t even say Americans, I’ll say human beings — felt the same way about President Bush.

So I got confused; because he spoke his mind there’s a problem? There were people on street corners saying the same thing. But because . . . he’s articulate, there’s an issue? Because he can rap? Because his voice may hit more communities, there’s a problem? People write books and speak their opinion. People — for some reason with Hip-Hop — I think they called him the vile rapper. I don’t know, like, I laugh at that because I know that man. That’s one of the kindest, most gentle, most positive people I’ve ever met in my life, and I would hope that my son grows up to be like that man. So I’m confused. He’s a good father to his child; he’s a good friend to his friends. And I’m real confused by that whole, I don’t know what that was.

Below are some clips of music and White House performances.

Common “8 Minutes Til Sunrise” – Featuring Jill Scott



Article: Nuyorican Poets Bring Hip-Hop Style to the Brooklyn Museum by Jonathan Mandell

The performers in this collaborative series don’t let the august columns cramp their unique mix of poetry and performance art

Regie Cabico is a former Nuyorican Poets Cafe Grand Slam champion, which means he knows how to put his poetry over to a demanding crowd. He is also a former resident of Fort Greene, and indeed wrote an entire book of poems based on his life in Brooklyn, “I Saw Your Ex-lover Behind the Starbucks Counter.”

Yet, when Cabico goes on stage tonight at theBrooklyn Museum, along with other Asian and Asian-American performing artists in the fifth in a series of six events sponsored jointly by the museum and the Nuyorican Poets Café, he is going to tread carefully. At least for the first few seconds.

“I like to see how raunchy I can get in a crowd and I’m going to have to feel it out,” he says. He will start with his most anthologized poems,Check One, “pertaining to Filipino American identity … and I hope to get seedier and sexier from there.”

That’s fine with Daniel Gallant, who for three years has been the cafe’s executive director. “The Brooklyn museum is family-friendly, but our position is that we prefer to give poets free rein,” says Gallant.”It will all be thoughtful and sensitive even if it’s confrontational.”

For four decades, the Nuyorican Poets Café has helped define the culture of the Lower East Side. Its vivid mix of poetry, hip hop, stand-up and performance art — and music and video and theater – has traveled around the country and around the world via the touring artists who gain their reputation at the café. There are still long lines in front of what is now the most dilapidated building on East Third Street between B and C in Manhattan, the now-gentrified block that is the long-time home of the cafe.

But efforts of the café as an institution to branch out beyond its building, and not just to schools, began to intensify under Gallant.

In the most extensive collaboration so far, a group of Nuyorican Café poets, musicians and dancers have performed on the third Thursday of every month since January at the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Auditorium on the third floor of the Brooklyn Museum. Each month, there has been a different theme – one focused on female poets; another, African-American; a third, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender. The two remaining programs will present Asian poets this month and Latino poets on June 16th, accompanied, as always, by dancers and musicians. (Obviously, the Nuyorican – New York Puerto Rican — has gone beyond its original roots.)

The audience for the museum series has not been precisely the same as those who typically crowd the East Village café. There are more of them, for one thing; the auditorium holds about 200 people, about twice that of the café. They are also more comfortable; there are seats for everybody.

Mahogany L. Browne, host of the famed Friday Night Slam Series at the café, had never performed at the Brooklyn Museum before. But she lives nearby in Crown Heights, and drew a crowd that included people from the neighborhood who already knew her work. The people who attended the museum event, Browne says diplomatically, “were very interested and invested in the happenings on stage, though they may have been a bit quieter than a normal Nuyorican crowd.” And what is a normal Nuyorican crowd? “The Nuyorican Poets Cafe is a special place. Not only is it a mecca for poetry, but the people walk in wired and ready to experience anything.”

If the intimate setting of the cafe is intense, Gallant says, “there’s something more laid back and accessible about the experience at the museum.”

For his part, Cabico is sure the audience will be receptive to what he does – which he calls “slam poetry” and which he considers “a unique American art form like jazz” – given that Brooklyn is now full of “spoken word gatherings.”

He is excited about tonight’s event, which also features Tahani Salah, Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai, and Pandora Scooter, with music by pianist Nisha Asnani. “I love the line-up of performers most of whom I have worked with as collaborator and teacher. All of us are doing our own thing and showing that Asian American spoken word is varied. This is an unprecedented moment for the Nuyorican Poets Cafe to support a gathering like this.”

The poem with which he will open his set, Check One, begins:

The Government asks me to “check one” if I want money.

I just laugh in their face and say,

“How can you ask me to be one race?”

I stand proudly before you a fierce Filipino

who knows how to belt hard-gospel songs

played to African drums at a Catholic mass-

and loving the music to suffering beats,

and lashes from men’s eyes on the capitol streets

It ends:

I have danced jigs with Jim Crow and shuffled my hips

to a sonic guitar of Clapton and Hendrix,

waltzed with dead lovers, skipped to bamboo sticks,

belleted kabuki and mimed cathacali

arrivedercied-a-rhumba and tapped Tin Pan Alley-

and you want me to dance the Bhagavad Gita

on a box too small for a thumbelina-thin diva?

I’ll check “other”

Tonight’s performance of Nuyorican Poets Café takes place at 7 p.m. at the Brooklyn Museum’s Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Auditorium on the 3rd Floor. Free with musuem admission of $10, $6 students and senior citizens. Advance museum ticket purchase recommended, which can be done .