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New York State of Mind Amoeblog #95: Hip-Hop Celebrated, DJ Dwells Interview, West Indian American Day Carnival

Posted by Billyjam, August 27, 2014 03:00pm | Post a Comment

        

 

What a great week it has been for hip-hop in New York City! On top of the big 2014 DMC US Finals at Webster Hall in the East Village on Saturday (reviewed on Amoeblog here) and the following day's nearby Battle Ave DJ battle at Turntable Lab, there were clubs and concerts galore, an amazing True School Park Jam yesterday, the Harlem Hip-Hop Festival - part of Harlem Week - over the weekend, and first annual International Hip Hop Parade on Saturday. The parade took place in none other than the "Boogie Down" Bronx, the borough where hip-hop was born 41 years ago, with many legendary figures in attendance including the three grand marshals of the parade Melle Mel, Grand Wizzard Theodore, and Kool DJ Red Alert (who afterwards called the parade "a great event to recognize this unstoppable culture that was born in the Bronx."). The organizers of the parade, which took place along Bathgate Avenue to a positive response from onlookers, say that they plan to travel to a new location each year for the event, noting that their mission statement is one of, "showing the positive side of Hip Hop music through technology, education, and expression."  More info.  

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2014 DMC US Finals Winners: Proof That Prep For Prestigious Battle Starts At Young Age

Posted by Billyjam, August 26, 2014 01:00pm | Post a Comment

2014 DMC US Champions Top 5 (Showcase style: six minutes each DJ)
 

1st: DJ I-Dee (Fairfax VA)

2nd: DJ Dwells (NYC)

3rd: DJ Ease (Rochester NY)
(aka
 International Ease)

4th: DJ Esquire (Brooklyn NY)

5th: Ichy the Killer (San Jose CA)

DJs I-Dee and Dwells - the winner and runner-up respectively in this year's heated 2014 DMC US Finals DJ battle presented by Rane, that took place Saturday night at Webster Hall in New York City - are both examples that battle DJing is something that many get into at an increasingly younger age. They're also proof that the DMC is indeed as it claims to be the "most prestigious" and important competition for DJs out of the many other battles over the years - since it's the DMC that these two (like most DJs) strive towards winning, and that each have meticulously studied videos of past DMC competitions for inspiration in bettering their skills in preparing for battle. "When I first started DJing seventeen years ago, when I was ten, I picked up a whole bunch of DMC tapes," said the new US DMC battle champ DJ I-Dee in his acceptance speech for the title that will take him to the UK in October for the 2014 DMC World Championships. "My goal was accomplished ten years ago when I made the [DMC] US Finals. And everything after that has been a complete bonus," added the Fairfax VA DJ [seen in above pic c/o Arvee Eco Photography who supplied most of the photos for this review - others c/o Christie Z-Pabon of DMC/Tools of War].

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New York State of Mind Amoeblog #94: AfroPunk Festival, DMC US Finals, Charlie Parker Jazz Fest, Outdoor Movie Screenings

Posted by Billyjam, August 20, 2014 12:38pm | Post a Comment

Back in 2007, I interviewed James Spooner, maker of the 2003 documentary Afro-Punk, about the  AFROPUNK Festival, which was directly inspired by his film. The director/producer told me that he never dreamed that his passionately produced, low-budget documentary would go on to  jump-start a burgeoning cultural movement, inspire the BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) annual arts festival, and name him as its co-curator.

"Afro-Punk was a film about being a black punk rocker in a white world. And we had a really good few screenings at BAM.... that escalated into doing a series with a bunch of other films that evoked the same feeling of black thinking or black rebellion all telling the 'other' black story," Spooner told me at the time, adding that the folks at BAM had the idea of building a whole festival out of it. Now in its tenth year, AFROPUNK Festival has grown exponentially into a much bigger and broader event with a lineup that is off the hook and transcends the subgenre that gave it its name.  





James Spooner's "Afro-Punk" 2003 documentary that inspired the AFROPUNK Festival


Among the myriad of diverse acts scheduled for this year's festival, are Bad Brains and Fishbone - both of whom were in Spooner's documentary - along with such others as  Meshell Ndegeocello, The Internet, Body Count, the Cro-Mags, CX KiDTRONiK, D'Angelo, The Bots, Trash Talk, SZA, Alice Smith, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings King Britt, and tons more. The newly-expanded AFROPUNK festival includes, in addition to punk, lots of DJs and producers performing. This year presents a special Tribute to DJ Rashad - the  influential late Chicago footwork producer who died back in April. Performing will be members of Rashad's Teklife crew, Chicago footwork pioneer RP Boo, Dance Mania ghetto-house originator DJ Deeon, Lit City Trax founder DJ J-Crush, and The Era dance crew from Chicago.  Another sign of the expanding festival is the newly added AFROPUNK AFTER DARK, which organizers say, aims to transform the neighborhoods of Brooklyn into a captivating playground of music and culture events in venues starting at 10:00pm and including the Black Weirdo party and King Britt's celebration of Sun Ra's centennial, The Beautiful Noise.  The AFROPUNK Festival 2014 happens this Saturday and Sunday (August 23rd & 24th) at Brooklyn's Commodore Barry Park and other locations. For full listings and ticket information click here.

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New York State of Mind Amoeblog #93: Jeff Koons, Shadow & Cut Chemist, Museum of Jewish Heritage, Subway Token Sucking +

Posted by Billyjam, August 13, 2014 12:13pm | Post a Comment


People seem to either love him or hate him (or are jealous of all the money he makes) but they all know who he is; American artist Jeff Koons whose instantly identifiable, simple-yet expensive, balloon-animal like, large scale sculptures made of stainless steel sell in the tens of millions of dollars. One of his pieces sold at a NYC auction last year for $58.4 million!  For a lot less money, now thru October October 19th, you can get to see his art up and close and personal and judge its value for itself for the ongoing Jeff Koons: A Retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art. With a total of 120 works by Koons on display this Whitney exhibit, which opened in late June, is the most comprehensive retrospective curated of the living artist to date (in fact there hasn't been a full show on his overall body of work in two decades) and as such is well worth visiting.  Spanning various mediums - not just sculpture - Koons work on exhibit includes such iconic works by the pop artist as the gaudy yet popular Michael Jackson and Bubbles (right), Balloon Dog, as well as the premiere exhibition of such new Koons pieces as the unveiling of his large scale Play-Doh that he's reportedly been busy working on for over twenty years. The Whitney Museum is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 11am to 6pm and is located at 945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street, New York, NY 10021. For general info click here. And for info on free tours here.

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New York State of Mind Amoeblog #92: Amoeba In NYC, Concert Guide, NYC Rated #1, Free Phone Charging Stations + more

Posted by Billyjam, August 6, 2014 12:55pm | Post a Comment

Amoeba Music in New York City? Yes, inside Urban Outfitters @ Herald Square

Representing Amoeba Music and being in New York City, I am often asked by record collectors and music fanatics if Amoeba might ever open a store in New York City. While I would have answered that question with "Unfortunately, probably not" before, I can now cheerfully reply that Amoeba Music has a scaled-down but impressive record shop inside the recently-opened new Urban Outfitters in Herald Square across the street from the flagship Macy's. There inside the three-level, 57,000 square foot flagship Urban Outfitters the California-based Amoeba has proudly set up shop and curated a diverse assortment of over 400 vintage vinyl titles. Ranging from classic rock and punk to jazz and soul and more, these vinyl titles (mostly first pressings) are in excellent condition, shrink-wrapped, and all come with a bonus Amoeba sticker inside. They are priced at $20 an LP. You will find the Amoeba section conveniently located on the street level of the new store that opened in June, sharing space with Urban Outfitters own impressive music section (new vinyl, turntables, headphones, etc.) and other shops such as Intelligentsia cafe, Hairroin Salon, and a Bikestock bike repair station. Urban Outfitters is located at 1333 Broadway between 35th and 36th Streets. Open 9am - 10pm Monday to Saturdays and Sunday 10am to 10pm.
 

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