Amoeblog

New York State of Mind Amoeblog #11: Beard & Mustache Competition, Letterman Tix, Alicia Keys, Lennon Anniversary, The Coup + more

Posted by Billyjam, December 5, 2012 12:00pm | Post a Comment

Likelihood of a Billy Joel and Alicia Keys duet at the 12-12-12 Sandy Benefit, NY Beard and Mustache Competition open to both men and women, 32nd anniversary of John Lennon's murder expected to draw large crowds to Strawberry Fields, DJ legend Danny Krivit does a special holiday styled dance party for his long running 718 Sessions, Bay Area artists The Coup and DJ Shadow visit NYC this week, copping last minute tickets to The Late Show with David Letterman, a review of last weekend's 8-Ball Zine Fair, Cannibal Ox reunion, and an NYC-themed rap music video by Ja Rule are among the items covered in this installment in New York State of Mind - the weekly Amoeblog series in which I report, from a New York City perspective, on music and other entertainment and happenings in the Big Apple.

Open to both men and women, The 3rd Annual NYC Beard and Mustache Competition is happening this weekend in Williamsburg. Not to be confused with the equally popular 5th Annual Coney Island Beard and Mustache Competition that took place a few miles further out in the borough of Brooklyn (home to many a mustachioed fellow), this Saturday evening's event is being presented by the Gotham City Beard Alliance whose mission statement is "To promote tolerance and acceptance of all facial hair. The GCBA desires to help our local community, through donations from events planned by GCBA or volunteering at non-facial hair related events." At this weekend's GBCA event there will be a series of facial hair competitions that anyone can sign up for on the night. Just get to the venue by 6:30pm for the 7pm start time of the the three hour event. And note that the male leaning competition is not for men exclusively. Women are also encouraged to enter by making their own beard and mustache creations that will be judged in such categories as Most Realistic and Most Fantastic. Saturday, Dec 8th, 7pm at Warsaw: 261 Driggs Ave. in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Phone: 718-387-0505 Tickets and more info here. Club directions + general info here.

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Sampling The Beatles In Hip-Hop Music

Posted by Billyjam, September 3, 2009 10:25am | Post a Comment

"The Grey Video" (Danger Mouse "Encore" Beatles meets Jay-Z)
 
Everyone loves The Beatles, including rappers and their producers, so it makes perfect sense that hooks, drum beats, high hats, stabs, guitar riffs, vocal soundbites, etc. etc. from the Fab Four's vast and varied Wu-Tang Clancatalog would provide an ample sampling source for hip-hop producers and remixers. RIght? Yes, but only if done legally-- provided that the owners of the copyrighted Beatles material were to give permission to the interested producer(s). And this is not something that happens easily. In fact, The Beatles' catalog is often referred to in hip-hop production circles as "the holy grail of samples," since it is so hard to get permission to sample the Liverpool lads' music for hip-hop songs. 

That's why it was such in 2007 when Wu-Tang Clan announced that they had secured the first fully legit sample of the Beatles' music. They reportedly got granted permission to sample the White Album's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" for the Wu-Tang album 8 Diagrams. As it turned out, it Dhani Harrisonwasn't technically a Beatles sample clearance, but rather the go-ahead to replay the George Harrison penned Beatles tune with none other than George's own son Dhani Harrison (reportedly a major Wu-Tang Clan fan) playing the guitar bit on the track that also featured guest vocalist Erykah Badu.

Of course, The Beatles' music has been sampled many times in hip-hop (without permission) over the years, most famously on Danger Mouse's career-launching, incredibly popular (albeit totally illegal) 2004 release The Grey Album, where he liberally sampled the entire Beatles' White Album in a masterpiece mash-up that is beautifully blended with Jay-Z's The Black Album. The fact that it was an illegal recording didn't stop people from hearing it either. The album, which was sold as a bootleg, was traded and given Danger Mouse the grey albumaway in CD format and downloaded for free, thus making its way to countless iPods and music collections.

Hip-Hop Author Marcus Reeves Discusses "Somebody Scream! Rap Music's RIse To Prominence in the Aftershock of Black Power"

Posted by Billyjam, July 19, 2008 12:24pm | Post a Comment
Marcus Reeves ("Someboday Scream!" author)
Marcus Reeves
, former editor of the the Source hip-hop magazine and contributor to such publications as the New York Times, the Washington Post, Rolling Stone, and Vibe magazine, recently had his book Somebody Scream! (Rap Music's Rise To Prominence In The Aftershock of Black Power published by Faber and Faber Inc.

Like Jeff Chang's critically acclaimed hip-hop history Can't Stop Won't Stop, Somebody Scream likewise takes an analytical look at hip-hop -- a musical form that, like rock before it, is now all grown up and going through its own kind of mid-life crisis. Cornel West called Reeves' book "a strong  timely book for the new day in hip-hop" and he is right.

I recently had the opportunity to catch up with the East Coast based author to talk about his new book, Somebody Scream,  and its subject matter: hip-hop. Here is that dialog:

Amoeblog
: First up, how hard is it writing a book on a topic that is still unfolding around you as you report on its subject matter?

Marcus Reeves: Surprisingly, it wasn’t that hard to write because before I even started I had a beginning, a middle and an end. I’d already picked out who were the most influential rap artists—the ones who lead their particular era—strung their stories together by chapter and let the narrative unfold.Marcus Reeve's book "Somebody Scream!" And the narrative was easy because, like so many who’d watched the story of commercial rap over the last 30 years, it was also the story of my life. All the history and events that the music reflected, and I talk about in the book, were things I lived through and impacted my life. The last chapter of the book, which discusses what events shape the music now, helped capture all those moments that were still unfolding.

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