September 25, 2012

Kool Moe Dee - Unsung

If you're under the age of 30 and have an interest in hip hop history, then this is essential viewing.  If you're over 30 (and are a b-boy/b-girl who's aging gracefully), then this is pure nostalgic pleasure and Kool Moe Dee's significance to hip hop should need no introduction.

As a pioneer of the speed rap style, one of hip hop's first intellectual rappers, and the legendary slayer of (the king of his time) Busy Bee, Kool Moe Dee's place in hip hop history is already assured.  But this documentary adds more depth to Moe Dee's contribution and contains many other interesting nostalgic moments as well as interviews with other legends from that era.  Moe Dee makes a good contribution himself and discusses his long running feud with LL Cool J and it's explained how the infamous red Kangol hat that was associated with LL Cool J ended up under the wheels of his jeep on his How Ya Like Me Now LP cover (see above).

Interestingly the programme highlights Spoonie Gee recording music before the Sugar Hill Gang's 1979 release of Rapper's Delight.  It also shows Kool Moe Dee performing on the US TV programme Graffiti Rock which the Arsonists and Non Phixion later paid tribute to in their video for their 14 Years of Rap collaborative single.

This documentary was originally shown recently on TV One's outstanding series Unsung.

Mike Check.

September 19, 2012

Art of Rap

Well, after all the hype, opinions and criticisms, if you haven’t yet seen Ice-T’s rapumentary Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap then here is your chance. Although a minority have criticised it for one reason or another, the majority seem to have welcomed its presence and feel that it fills some of the gaps that previous documentaries have failed to cover. And, it does attempt to cover the art of emceeing, rather than being a collection of interviews with old schoolers talking about how hip hop got started.

For me, this film is a welcome addition.  No single film is ever going to document hip hop perfectly, or explain the art form in consierable detail, and no matter how many people you interview there will always be an alternative opinion from someone.  But hey, it's that complexity that makes hip hop so compelling and captivating to such a broad audience.

Given that this is Ice-T’s directorial debut, I think he’s done a pretty good job. Yes it could have been better and yes it could have included so-and-so. But in fairness to Ice-T, I guess this is what happens when you have to make the film a certain length and appeal to broad enough audience that you can justify the filming costs and get it onto the big screen. With that in mind, I think we’re onto a winner. After all, when was the last time you saw a rapumentary hit the big screen like this one did?

The DVD was released yesterday and although I can’t confirm it, it appears to be longer than the film, so I’m guessing it will contain additional footage and interviews, which may go some way to pleasing the critics.

Mike Check

Note: - To get the film to play without the advert, make it full screen. Alternatively, you need to click a little x that usually appears somewhere beneath the green 'download' button.  This will close the advert and allow you to play the film at the smaller resolution.  Don't download the advertised software as you don't need it and it'll probably screw up your computer.

September 16, 2012

Saxon Scoundrels - The B Boy Master Files

These days when most people first get online the obvious thing, I would imagine, would be to look for porn. Not so in my case you'll be pleased to know as the old school b boy in me never died so my first mission was to find out some old records I wanted but never had enough money to buy. I remember searching for two records in particular, 'You Can Make It' by Charlie Brown and The CB Girls and 'Little Cezar' by Elliott Ness & The Untouchables. One of the websites that came up was one called 'Trakfinder' and it was run by a chap by the name of Russell and he called himself the MP3 Genius. There was also a message forum where you could discuss whatever you liked musically speaking as long as it was old school related. I was a little nervous at asking for stuff at first but thought what the hell, he can only tell me to cobblers so I asked for both the aforementioned tracks in mp3 format and they appeared within a few days in my inbox and I was delighted I can tell you. He also had some cut 'n' paste, Latin Rascals style mixes for download, namely 'Locked In To The Boss' parts 1 and 2 and they were  unbelievably dope. I discovered this limited 7" single pressed on orange vinyl to make it extra special and released on Freddy Fresh's B Boy Beats and Pieces label which has more of the same razor sharp editing and is the first where he teamed up with his partner in scoundrelling Ictus and they contribute an offering each, both of which I'm sure, will blow you away.

September 8, 2012

Scratch That

I'm sure many of you will already have seen Scratch, the feature length documentary on DJing and turntablism released in 2001.  But whether you've seen it already, or missed it the first time around, it's an excellent film that truly captures the world of the DJ and is certainly worth another watch.

The most poignant moment for me was seeing DJ Shadow sitting in the basement of a 2nd hand record store surrounded by towers of vinyl and telling how it's a humbling experience being a part of the big pile of people's broken dreams, and how every artist will eventually end up there.  So true, and it also highlights the many dedicated, lonely hours that go into making those beats and giving those broken dreams another chance at being heard, even if it is only for a few seconds.

Mike Check

September 2, 2012

Nobody is on holiday!

I thought this was the holiday season when everybody went away and the internet hit a periodic lull.  Nope.  The US heatwaves and the UK washout seems to be keeping people indoors, so there's been plenty of interesting stuff to keep me entertained this month, and here are a few things that I think you might appreciate, read plenty more after the jump:

Eventually - Show & A.G. LP Is Coming

For nearly a year it's been talked about, leaked, hyped, pre released etc etc, but it seems that it's now actually going to happen for real.  This is the first track from the full LP and if it's anything to go by then the LP will be some real grown man rap (at last).

Total Eklips

French beatboxer Eklips gives us a Hip Hop history in 4 minutes of top notch beatboxing .  He covers everything from Planet Rock, to Tupac, Public Enemy to Dr Dre and everything significant in between.  It's good fun trying to name the tunes and keep up with how quickly he flips them.