2015 DMC NYC Regional winner DJ Dwells photo above and all photos used in this Amoeblog
are by kind permission of Ignacio Soltero (more pics/info here and here)
DJ battles and skratch music are enjoying a peak in both popularity and creativity right now. Age matters less than passion and commitment when it comes to skills and style displayed in turntablism. And Lord Finesseis a hella funny guy! Those are just a few of the things made quite apparent in Manhattan recently at the highly competitive but ever-entertaining 2015 DMC New York City Regional DJ battle where 15-year-old DJ Dwells took the title for the second year in a row, with the Bay Area's DJ Dstrukt coming in second, and As-One in third place.
Overseen by Christie Z-Pabon (pictured right), the smoothly run, perfectly on schedule four-hour event took place on May 23rd at Webster Hall where the widely diverse and appreciative audience proved the point that the turntable-based art form, which has gone through some highs and lows in popularity over the past couple of decades, is indeed in a most healthy state currently.
Below is the latest in an ongoing series of featured articles, spanning several years, on the topic of Krip-Hop written by guest Amoeblogger Leroy F Moore Jr. Leroy is both a pioneer of that hip-hop sub-genre as well as the founder of Krip-Hop Nation, the umbrella group that links hip-hop artists with disabilities from all over the globe. For this article the artist/activist/author discusses fellow Krip-Hopper Fezo (aka Fezo Da Mad One), his brand new and final album, and retirement from hip-hop. Leroy is currently finishing up his soon to be published book The Black Kripple Delivers Poetry & Lyrics (Poetic Matrix Press).
Fezo "Alter Ego" (2008)
Keith Jones, the artist known as Fezo, and I first met in person at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, MA back in 2004. The Missouri-born, Sacramento-based Krip-Hop artist and I instantly bonded. That was probably because we have so much in common. We are both Black men with cerebral palsy, and are both of the same age. At that time, eleven years ago, we were both in our mid-thirties. Furthermore we are both poets, both activists, and we each share a passionate love of music.
After taking over the Disability Caucus at the DNC by organizing Black disabled advocates to bum rush the Caucus to make sure diverse voices were being heard, Fezo and I made our way to a music studio to drop some songs and to talk more about Krip-Hop Nation. As we got our headphones on Fezo shared some news with me, made all the more dramatic by the fact that, due to his mic being turned on, was amplified throughout the studio. "Leroy, Hip-Hop is not ready to face its ableism so I have two albums left before I retire from Hip-Hop," he announced to my disappointment. Upon hearing this my mind screamed "NO!" because for once I had met a Black disabled activist/artist whose raps spoke to me, and whom I fully understood because of my own experience as a poet, activist, and founder of Krip-Hop Nation. I could relate firsthand to all the shut doors he had faced.
Ennio Morricone's score for Sergio Leone's "Once upon a time in the West"
Good, it's about time! That seems to be the general reaction by fans of Ennio Morricone to the news that there will be a feature documentary on the iconic Italian composer whose vast body of work spans writing music for 500 plus films and TV shows, in addition to countless contemporary classical compositions. His Amoeba online store page offers almost 200 titles! There have been pieces done on Morricone, such as the 1995 BBC TV documentary, but never a full feature scale documentry.
As recently reported by Deadline, director Giuseppe Tornatore, who first worked with Morricone on Cinema Paradiso, will begin shooting the documentary on the life of the legendary prolific 86-year-old composer in two months. It will be a unique documentary structured to reportedly, "highlight a side of Morricone that has never been revealed."
As a fan I cannot wait for this documentary. Amoeba.com's J.Poet so accurately noted; "Ennio Morricone is one of the few musicians to have invented a new genre. His soundtracks for a series of Italian western films by director Sergio Leone, many starring Clint Eastwood, created “spaghetti Western” music by mixing surf guitar, classical, pop, rock, electronic, avant-garde, and Italian music and sprinkling it with samples of birdcalls, gunshots, footsteps, animal noises, and whistling. The sound became as popular as the films they were part of."
N.W.A are routinely credited with creating the genre known as gangsta rap, which is a fair summation since it was these West Coast rappers who inspired a whole new unstoppable generation of hardcore gangsta rap recording artists. However, these LA rappers are predated by fellow LA-based artist Ice-T who in turn was predated by the true O.G. (Original Gangsta) -- Philadeplhia's Schoolly D who in 1985 unleashed the original gangsta rap record. Entitled "P.S.K. What Does It Mean?" and released on his own small indie label, Schoolly D Records, the record with cutting by DJ Code Money was an ode to the Philly street gang that the rapper (born Jesse B. Weaver, Jr.) was associated with. The initials P.S.K. stood for the Park Side Killas gang and their song dedication was brimming with references to gangsta activity: guns, violence, sex, and drug use, with usage of the N word ("sucka ass nigga tryna sound like me"), which was something uncommon though not totally unheard of in rap records up to that point.
Although originally considered a regional rap record with likely little appeal beyond its immediate hood, the distinctly hardcore rap record struck a nerve with music fans well beyond Philadelphia. The NJ-born, LA-based Ice-T adapted its style for his single, "6 In The Mornin" (later entitled "6 'N the Mornin'), released a year later in 1986. It was also included on his 1987 debut album Rhyme Pays.
Last night's episode of the HBO comedy series Silicon Valley had me cracking up and nodding my head in agreement when one of its lead characters offered a funny, succinctly accurate summation of Sade's musical output. Entitled "Adult Content," the episode was the seventh in the ongoing second season of the sitcom created by Mike Judge and Alec Berg about the challenges of the fictional South Bay start up Pied Piper. The episode contained a scene in which T. J. Miller's hilarious character Erlich Bachman (pictured above) imparts some sage advice on setting the perfect sex-inducing mood for a date to his nervous, lesser experienced roommate/co-worker Dinesh Chugtai (played by Kumail Nanjiani). The best music to play is Sade, he tells him. But he quickly clarifies not just anything from the British Nigerian singer's three-plus-decades-long career that has spawned a string of releases including six official studio albums.
"Early Sade, before her arrangements became too baroque," he further advises Dinesh. Later in the episode, Sade's "Sweetest Taboo" (off her second album, 1985's Promise) is heard playing. Look for Sade's music, including her debut album, Diamond Life, at Amoeba where you will also find Silicon Valley: The Complete First Season on both DVD and Blu-Ray. See trailer below along with video for Sade's "Sweetest Taboo." Meanwhile Silicon Valley, which was recently nominated for an Emmy and renewed for a third season, airs Sundays at 10pm on HBO.