January 27, 2012

Rewriting History?

Marely Marl & MC Shan in better times
Several months back I wrote about D-Nice's website, and in particular I suggested you might want to review some of his short documentaries where old school artists reflect on their rhymes, records and events from that era.

One of my personal favourites was from Masta Ace who gave his account of how Marley Marl's classic The Symphony came about (see the link above if you haven't yet seen it).  Well, in recent days, MC Shan has seen this clip and has decided to put up a response to it as he thinks Marley has misled Masta Ace and the others who appear on The Symphony and he wants to set the record straight.

Initially I was curious to hear the other side of the story and clarify the facts around this piece of history, but to my surprise what has started out as an attempt to set the record straight, has turned into something much bigger and in some ways it's more interesting.

Now I've never really been into gossip or hearsay, and I don't care much for hip hop beefs (unless of course they bring out the best in an artist and provide us with some banging tunes (Cool J vs Canibus and Jay-Z vs Nas spring to mind)).  But this is something different.  This is more about artist integrity.

Watch the series of clips for yourself and see what you think, but to me it seems as though Marley has something to hide.  Shan is explicit in his accusations towards Marley, yet Marley never calls Shan a liar.  Instead he attacks his skin complexion, who he hangs out with etc.  But aside the issue that started all of this debate, there are other interesting bits of history being shared, such as Shan's involvement with recording Rakim, Kane providing his own beats and plenty more.

Shan and Marley aren't going to acheive very much from these discussions, they'll no doubt end up agreeing to disagree, but whilst it continues I'm loving the little side stories that are embedded within this debate.
Shan also promises to record further (unrelated) videos that provide more hip hop history, and these are potential gems for us to look forward to.

January 25, 2012

Hip Hop Legends DVD (2007) - Repost

Update - I'm reposting this article as I have now found links to a downloadable copy of this documentary to replace the Megavideo version. 

This is an interesting documentary that is really worth watching. The production quality with its cheap graphics and basic editing isn’t the greatest, but what it lacks in presentation it makes up for in content.

Instead of seeing the usual bunch of contributors who always seem to be readily available to tell their version of the history of Hip Hop, the film makers made the effort to track down some of the less familiar (but often more important) names and get them to provide the commentary.

This results in the viewer seeing some insightful claims and memories, such as Pow Wow claiming that Lovebug Starski invented the term Hip Hop and Bambaataa decided to use it as the name for the evolving culture.

It also steers away from using the same archive footage that any long term Hip Hop fan has seen 100’s of times before. So I can reliably report that you won’t have to watch Kool Herc driving through the Bronx with his ‘Herculoid’ speakers in the back seat of his convertible, or hear Malcolm McLaren talking about his 'first experience' of Hip Hop, nor will you see any mention of Blondie, Fab 5 Freddy or the Sugar Hill Gang!

Instead we’re presented with many new and original clips. Ok, the clips aren’t anything to write home about and the producers haven’t managed to uncover any unseen clips of Kool Moe Dee battling Busy Bee, but what they have got helps to give the film a different feel to the usual trip down Hip Hop’s memory lane.

The main focus of the film is about how the whole culture got started during the 1970’s (which seems to be slightly at odds with the films title). It explores Kool Herc bringing the sound system style from Jamaica to the Bronx, Bambaataa working with gang members to form the Zulu Nation, how breaking, DJing and MC battling evolved and it gives us a timely reminder of what Hip Hop culture was originally all about. The narrators repeatedly express their concern for what Hip Hop has become compared to it’s original intentions and foundations (but keep in mind that this film was released at a time (2007) when the phrase ‘Hip Hop is Dead’ was in wide use).

The main contributions are from DJ Skribble, DMC, Bambaataa & Grandmaster Caz. But there are also many appearances from rarely seen pioneers such as Pow Wow from the Soul Sonic Force, EK Mike C from Crash Crew, Busy Bee and old skoolers Rob Base & EZ Rock.

Download is 700mb in two parts:

Mike Check

January 23, 2012

Do it like a G.O.

Just as J-Zone launches his new book Root for the Villian - Rap, Bullshit and a Celebration of Failure he avoids shameless promotion, but instead shares his top 5 Favourite Rap-A-Lot Albums from the 1990's (and mentions his book!). 

Root for the Villian is available to buy right now, and is a highly recommended read.  For those who might not be familiar with J-Zone's music and lyrics, he has insanely funny punchlines, speaks his mind in a refreshingly different way and he's one of the few people that is happy to self criticise and laugh at his own misfortune.  It's a rare talent to to be able to turn a negative into a positive in the way that J-Zone does. 

Now instead of interviewing Mr Zone about his new book, Ryan Proctor had the great idea of discussing with him his 5 favourite albums from the Houston based label Rap-A-Lot Records.  It's a great interview that also provides a solid reminder of a unique style and brief era in hip hop's history. 


Also, if you're a fan of J-Zone's production style then you might like to read his Top 10 tracks that he produced but didn't rap on.  It's an interesting and diverse selection of work from his extensive catalogue, with some rarities that you may not have heard before (and it's nice to see Al Shid getting the props that he deserves).


It's a good thing J-Zone has written his book, because if nothing else, it's made me include him in this blog much sooner than I would have done if it had been left to me (I should be ashamed for not including him much sooner!). 

Mike Check.

January 15, 2012

Rec your life.

It always makes my day when i discover a dope new artist. You might be saying to yourself, "well you're easily pleased", but as my almost beautiful, live in, go back to her mum's for a bit, live in, "i'm going to stay with friends", live in, "i think we need some space", live in 'but things need to change' lover, would eagerly confirm this is not the case. So you may wish to consider familiarising yourself with the San Fransisco dwelling, Ferris Bueller loving, Jerry Rice autograph hunting, Richie Cunning.

Mr. Cunning is part of the Rec League, and a highly regarded MC in his own right. Much more information can be found at their Microphone Headquarters, Routinefly.com. If i know Fear of a Wack Planet readers like i think i do, you'll all be particularly interested in the 'Free Music' section, which contains a thoughtful critique of the suppression of blues musicians in post war Eastern Europe. Not really, Beats and Rhymes are gratis in that mo fo. They are a relatively new label, and this is certainly apparent in Richie C's fresh and uplifting flow that relies on skilful wordplay and no little humour.

I first encountered our microphone manipulator on his Late Night Special mixtape, where his easy going manner and highly entertaining flow were married with an innovative set of beats that nodded respectfully to Hip Hop's roots, whilst undoubtedly offering some funky finesse. However what resonated most was that it was the first time in some months where i wasn't compelled to kaboom the LCD screen indiscriminately. Whilst some tracks, after repeated listens, were stronger than others, i can genuinely state that seven months later it is still on the iPhone and still getting listened to in its entirety. Off all the accolades The Cunning meister has achieved and has yet to achieve, i am reliably assured by sources close to the artist, that this is the one that keeps him going when life punches him in the face. No sign of my troublesome Rhyme Attention Disorder at all; the G-Unit, different story.

Don't take my word for it, like i need to tell you that, check him out!

January 6, 2012

Blogwatch - December 2011

Although 2012 is now here, I've taken the usual look back over the last month of 2011 and pulled together some of the highlights from around the internets various sites and blogs etc.  Although the Xmas and New Year parties have now finished, I've decided to lay on a retrospective buffet of hip hop for you to feast upon, there's plenty more after the jump:

Public Enemy in Concert
The boys over at the T.R.O.Y. blog have found this great recording of P.E. live in concert.  Although it's a recent concert, they showcase many of their hits from over the decades.  Why not digest nearly 2 hours of truly classic hip hop?

January 1, 2012

New for the New Year

Well 2012 is finally here, and as everybody talks about their hopes, dreams and ambitions for the year ahead, it seems more fitting for us to look at some new material instead of our main focus on the golden era and old school. 
There are always plenty of promises from artists about their forthcoming material, and plenty of critics citing a certain album to be 'the one' for this year, but in so many instances I find these claims to be huge let downs.  For example, how many releases did DJ Premier promise last year that never appeared?  I'm not hitting on Premo, he's a busy man and there are probably valid reasons for the delays, but as a fan I don't want someone to dangle a carrot that cannot be eaten!

So here are a couple of gems that I'm bumping right about now that might just be worth your further exploration.  These are available to purchase/download right now too, so you won't have to wait until Dre's Detox drops to own them for yourself.

If you haven't heeded my buddy Randy Mack's advice and downloaded Elzhi's (free) album Elmatic yet, then maybe this video will tempt you.  It's a beautiful video that really captures the specific era of Detroit when the then unknown emcees were battling for recognition and reputation.  Using rare and unique archive footage, catch glimpses of Royce 5' 9", Jurassic 5, Eminem, Proof and many more whilst Elzhi takes you down his Memory Lane.  It's a fitting tribute and compliments Nas's original.

Jedi Mind Tricks
This is the latest single to be taken from JMT's 7th album Violence Begets Violence.  Featuring former Outsidaz emcee's Young Zee and Pacewon and produced by Mr Green, this shows that JMT are still a forced to be reckoned with despite departing from Stoup the Enemy of Mankind.