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B.I.R.T.H.D.A.Y. MAN: METHOD MAN TURNS 38 TODAY

Posted by Billyjam, April 1, 2009 09:45pm | Post a Comment

"M.E.T.H.O.D. Man" (1993)
method man
Birthday greetings are in order for living hip-hop legend Method Man who celebrates his 38th birthday today. One of the founding and most prominant members of the Wu-Tang Clan, in recent years he has been more well-known for his rhyme partnership with Redman and his acting career, which includes a role on the HBO series The Wire.

Born Clifford Smith, the young Method Man grew up in New York on both Long Island and Staten Island (aka Shaolin), where he would help form one of hip-hop history's most popular and influential groups, the Wu-Tang Clan.

As a member of Wu-Tang, Method Man had the distinction of being the first solo star to emerge from the rap supergroup that also featured Rza, GZA, Ol Dirty Bastard, Raekwon, U-God, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, and Masta Killa. The group's groundbreaking 1993 debut heavily showcases his talents and includes the hit single "Method Man."

The song's refrain M-E-T-H-O-D was drawn from the previous decade's Hall & Oates hit "Method of Modern Love" from their 1984 Big Bam Boom album. Within just a year of the Wu-Tang debut method man and redman how highalbum, Method Man released his own debut solo album, 1994's Tical on Def Jam, featuring such timeless hip-hop tracks as "Release Yo Delf," "Bring The Pain," and "All I Need" (a later version of this song won a Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group under the title "I'll Be There for You/You're All I Need to Get By" with Mary J. Blige). 

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KUTMASTA KURT INTERVIEW

Posted by Billyjam, March 31, 2009 06:20am | Post a Comment
kutmasta kurt
Kutmasta Kurt
is the ever- active Los Angeles based producer, turntablist/DJ, and label owner of Threshold Recordings. The Bay Area transplant, who started out at KZSU radio and who released his first record twenty years ago, is best known for his longtime collaborations with such artists as Kool Keith and Motion Man with whom he  worked jointly on the Masters of Illusion project and also individually on numerous other projects. 

Kutmasta Kurt embarks on the Dr. Dooom Vs. Dr. Octagon tour this week with former Ultramagnetic MCs frontman  Kool Keith. The two artists have worked on such projects as Dr. Dooom and Dr. Octagon as well as such Kool Keith albums as Sex Style, Diesel Truckers, and Matthew. Kutmasta Kurt also produced the Ultra (Kool Keith + fellow former Ultramagnetic MC Tim Dog) album Big Time in 1996.

Additionally he occassionally dons a long fake beard (see pic left) and morphs into his fun Funky Redneck alter-ego. As such he released the 2004 album RedNeck Games, whose original name had to be changed due to pressure from the Olympics Committee.

I recently caught up with Kurt to ask him about this run in with the Olympics folks and the reaction his Funky Redneck persona typically generates, his illustrious recording career, the status of his record label in these digital downloading times, his favorite recording equipment, and his earliiest hip-hop memories.

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FRENCH OSCAR-WINNING COMPOSER MAURICE JARRE DIES AT 84

Posted by Billyjam, March 30, 2009 04:48pm | Post a Comment
maurice jarre
Maurice Jarre
, the French conductor and Oscar-winning composer, and father of electronic music composer and producer Jean-Michel Jarre, died yesterday (March 29) at age 84. The cause of his death has not yet been announced. The composer, who had over 150 movie soundtrack credits to his name, won Academy Awards for his orchestral scores for the films Doctor Zhivago in 1965, Lawrence of Arabia in 1962, and A Passage to India in 1984.

Other films that the extremely prolific artist composed the scores for include The Train in 1964, Ryan's Daughter in 1970, The Man Who Would Be King in 1975, The Message in 1976, Dead Poets Society in 1989, Jacob's Ladder in 1990, Ghost in 1990, Witness in 1985, The Year of Living Dangerously in 1982, Fatal Attraction in 1987, No Way Out in 1987, The Damned in 1969, The Tin Drum in 1979, and Circle of Deceit in 1981. Jarre, who lived for many years in Los Angeles to be close to the Hollywood film studios, was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his a passage to indiacontribution to the art of film.

Born in Lyon, France in 1924, he began his third level studies as an engineering student at Lyon University and enrolled in the engineering school at the Sorbonne. But it was against his father's wishes that he quit engineering and switched to music, dropping out of the Sorbonne and soon after enrolling at the Paris Conservatoire. According to the UK Telegraph, it was there that he studied under the Swiss composer Arthur Honegger, the timpanist FĂ©lix Passerone and Joseph Martenot, inventor of the Martenot Waves, an electronic keyboard that prefigured the modern synthesizer and which Jarre would often use in his film scores.

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Why Is The Ratio Of Female To Male Rappers Still So Uneven? Conscious Daughters + Monica Lynch Weigh in on the Topic: Women in hip-hop Part IV: Women's History Month

Posted by Billyjam, March 27, 2009 05:00am | Post a Comment
queen latifah all hail the queenWhy, after all these years, is the number of female rappers still radically less than that of their male counterparts? Is it really that not as many women want to be rappers? Or rather that they are being shut out and discriminated against, and simply not encouraged to be hip-hop artists? Encouragement ultimately comes down to sales figures, so is that not enough hip-hop fans support women artists? 

"Women can't rap" used to be the common criticism of females heard back in the day. Interestingly, these days the ratio of female rap fans has grown, yet the number of female rap artists has not grown proportionately. 

To answer these questions, which have always puzzled me, I asked a few women who have been in the business for a while: CMG and Special One of the longtime Oakland female duo The Conscious Daughters, and Monica Lynch, the president of Tommy Boy Records during the years 1981 - 1998 where she was instrumental in launching the careers of such artists as Afrika Bambaataa, De La Soul, Digital Underground, House of Pain, Naughty By Nature, and Queen Latifah. She still works closely with Queen Latifah, helping guide the artist, actor, investor, product spokesperson's with her music-related endeavors.

"When you look at rap as a subset of the hip-hop culture at large, you see that a vast vast majority of the DJs were male, a vast majority of the graffiti artists were guys, the vast majority of the breakdance crews were men, and the vast majority of the rappers were male. So it was just an extension of the origins of hip-hop culture being a predominantly male cuture," said the former Tommy Boy president, who firsthand witnessed rap music morph from supposed "fad" into an unstoppable global cultural movement.

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WOMEN IN HIP-HOP PART III: 1990 & 1991

Posted by Billyjam, March 24, 2009 11:39am | Post a Comment
The years 1990 and 1991 were pivotal for women in hip-hop and are captured in the series of videos below. Despite the uneven ratio between female and male artists, those two years captured a time when many more female emcees were being signed and promoted by major record labels than in previous years, or years since, for that matter.

It was also a time when just about every hip-hop crew or collective had at least one female member whom they gave full support to. Queen Latifah was part of the Flavor Unit. X-Clan's Blackwatch Movement included Isis and Queen Mother Rage, while the extended BDP crew included Ms Melodie and Harmony. Meanwhile, Yo-Yo had the backing support of the post-NWA Ice Cube.

The beginning of the 90's was also a time when sisters in rap looked out for one another and joined forces to throw some memorable all female hip-hop events. There was the 75 minute 1991 Sisters In The Name of Rap concert, with YoYo, Salt-N-Pepa, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Roxanne Shante, Def Dames, Silk Tymes Leather, Nikke? Nicole!, (dancehall artist) Shelly Thunder, Tam Tam & others and hosted by Dee Barnes. This killer show was a Pay-Per-View TV concert taped at the Ritz in NYC in late '91 and released the following year on VHS. (I still have my prized copy.) 

Also in 1991, on Valentine's Day, there was a 5-hour all female rap concert at the Los Angeles Sports Arena that included Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Yo-Yo, M.C. Trouble (R.I.P.), Harmony, Nefertiti, Michie Mee, MC Smooth, and Nikki D. While, according to all reviews at the time, this female rap showcase was an off-the-hook event, its attendance figures were far from impressive. Only 3,700 people showed up at the 15,200-seat LA Sports Arena. Perhaps the promoters booked too large a venue for this event, but had it been an all male rap showcase featuring the leading men of rap of the day, it would have undoubtedly sold out.

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