Grandmaster Caz truly loves hip-hop. The Bronx born native lives and breathes the culture of hip-hop in all its elements and has done so for almost every year of its four full decade lifespan. Grandmaster Caz is also a most humble guy. He has to be considering that, despite the fact he is one of the most influential and important pioneering figures in hip-hop, the average music fan doesn't really know much about Caz or the importance of his place in hip-hop history. Of course the fact that his legendary crew The Cold Crush Brothers, who introduced to the most via their appearances in the landmark 1983 Charlie Ahearn directed hip-hop movie Wild Style, never released an official album or the fact that Caz never got credited for the verses of his that Big Bank Hank borrowed for the Sugarhill Gang's breakout megahit rap single "Rapper's Delight." Maybe this was all for a reason: something to test Caz's commitment to hip-hop. If so he has passed that test with flying colors and, unlike so many figures in the history of hip-hop who fall off or fade away after a few years, decade after decade Grandmaster Caz has been a consistent contributor been to the culture that defines him and that he, in turn, helps define.
A while in the making the anticipated documentary about Peanut Butter Wolf's (PBW) revered Bay Area founded / LA based Stones Throw Records label, previewed above, will get its world premiere screening during next month's 2013 LA Film Festival when Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton (This Is Stones Throw Records) will screen on both June 21st and 22nd. Via concert footage, interviews, never-before-seen archival material, and "inner-circle home video and photographs" the film traces the rich and illustrious history of the label that was founded in 1996 and in the years since has released quality material from such talents as Madlib/Quasimoto, Madvillain, James Pants, Dam-Funk, Karriem Riggins, J-Rocc, Homeboy Sandman, Quakers, Strong Arm Steady, J-Dilla, Aloe Blacc, the late great Charizma (PBW's musical partner who was killed 20 years ago) and Wolf himself - to name but some. Advance tickets and more details on the ten day (June 13 - June 23rd) LA Film Festival.
Above is one of the three key components (the red colored portion) of the latest public art exhibits in ever changing public art installation space that is Madison Square Park (MSP) Red,YellowandBlue is the simple yet descriptive title of this new exhibit that was unveiled earlier this month (following 2½ years of planning, conceiving, reworking, and production, plus an additional eleven days of installation) and will remain through September 8th in the park that is bordered by 23rd and 26th Streets, and Fifth and Madison Avenues in the Flatiron district of Manhattan. The ambitious work of sculptor/artist Orly Genger the Red, Yellow and Blue installation contains 1.4 million feet of layered, painted, and hand-knotted rope that are threaded through steel posts and drilled into the park's lawns to hold in place.
Of the three colors my favorite is the yellow (see pic right) since it is to my eyes the most natural. In fact when I first unexpectedly encountered it - stumbling upon the artwork earlier this week while walking through the park - at first glance thought it was a hedge or some large plants I was seeing. A traveling installation Red, Yellow and Blue will next travel to near Boston, MA after it finishes its run in NYC, when it takes up residency at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in October. More info on its current MSP exhibit.
The Bullitts feat Yasiin Bey, Jay Electronica, & Lucy Liu "They Die By Dawn" (2013)
Just done working withJay-Z as executive music consultant forThe Great Gatsby soundtrack (pictured left) The Bullitts (aka producer Jeymes Samuel) now collaborates with a cast of high profile names for the brand new urban-western video above for "They Die By Dawn." Featuring Erykah Badu, Michael K. Williams, Isaiah Washington, Jesse Williams, and Rosario Dawson, and set to an Ennio Morricone inspired spaghetti western hook the glossy new video, that is both written and produced by The Bullitts, and culled from the producer's film: They Die By Dawn The Bullitts single features Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def), Jay Electronica, and Lucy Liu and is taken from the forthcoming album: They Die By Dawn & Other Short Stories that is due to drop this summer. Watching this new cowboy themed hip-hop video reminded a previous era western starring some hip-hoppers turned actors: the Mario Van Peebles directed Posse from 20 years ago about the story of a posse of African-American soldiers and one ostracized white soldier that starred rappers Big Daddy Kaneand Tone Loc alongside such others as Peebles (who had directed New Jack City two years earlier), Stephen Baldwin, Blair Underwood, and Billy Zane. With hip-hop and other music the musically diverse accompanying soundtrack (produced by Peebles) for the 1993 film featured such artists as Sounds of Blackness, Tone Loc, Neville Brothers, Melvin Van Peebles, and Top Choice Clique. Below is a trailer for that movie.
In the number one position with a bullet on this week's Amoeba Hollywood Hip-Hop Top Five chart is French Montana'sExcuse My French. Pretty impressive considering that this is the first release by French Montana- well the first official release following a dizzying string of over two dozen mixtape releases by the rapper - all of which paved the way for this major label (Interscope Records) debut. Excuse My French by the Moroccan-born, American rap artist known as French Montana (not to be confused with UK hip-hop instrumental artist Young Montana?) comes in both the regular 13 track Excuse My French CD edition and the 19 track Deluxe Excuse My French CD version. Of the new album the Amoeba.com reviewers write, "French’s flow comes out like melted butter over the popping “Ain’t Worried About Nothin’,” one of the album’s catchiest songs, and the eerie, slow-motion “Marble Floors,” which finds French bragging about how his exquisite flooring lures the ladies alongside a winning roster of collaborators". Indeed one of the advantages, it would seem, of upgrading from DIY mixtape status to major label official release status is that you can afford to pay some high profile artists to make cameos on your album. And on his new release French Montana does that does that, and some, with an impressive long list of collaborators lending their talents. These include such rap and RnB artists as Raekwon, Ne-Yo, Lil Wayne, Drake, Nicki Minaj, 2 Chainz, Snoop Dogg,Birdman, Rick Ross, Diddy, Fabolous, Trey Songz, The Weeknd, DJ Khaled, Mavado, Ace Hood, Jerimih, Scarface, Machine Gun Kelly, Red Café, Los, Chinx Drugz, Young Cash, and Max B. But what is truly noteworthy about this is that he didn't have to pay any of these guests (with the exception of the latter incarcerated Max B) since, according to an MTV News story published this week, they all gladly did their cameos for the love. So that was what he must have meant when he rapped "money don't mean nothin'" in the aforementioned "Money Don't Mean Nothin.'" However, it is hard not to notice in the popular cameo-heavy video below (including Diddy whose Bad Boy Records with distribution via Interscope he has this major label deal) for this lyrically repetitive single that there is over the top product placement of the vodka brand Ciroc that Diddy has a vested interest in.
French Montana "Ain't Worried About Nothin' (explicit)" (2013)