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18 Year Anniversary of the Death of Def

Posted by Billyjam, August 27, 2011 01:15pm | Post a Comment

Exactly eighteen years ago on this date, the word DEF was officially laid to rest. It was that day when Rick Rubin - who initially was a part of Def Jam but later broke away and set up his own Def American Records label, which in turn morphed into American Records -- supposedly officially layed the dated hip-hop slang word to rest. This he did via an extravagant funeral service and even went so far as to get a legal death certificate, buy a real life size casket, secure a plot at the Hollywood Cemetery (which is still there to this day), and hold a faux solemn, funeral ceremony with Rev Al Sharpton acting as officiator.

Rap music industry vet and author Dan Charnas worked for Rick Rubin at Def American's headquarters in LA at the time and in his recently published book, The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop, he dedicates some space to the topic of the death of "def." This week I caught up with Charnas via phone from his New York home office to ask him about this date back in 1993 when the word "def" was laid to rest.  Charnas, who had already been working a couple of years for the brilliant (but oft quirky) Rubin, recalled how, back as early as 1991, his boss had told him, "Eventually I am going to change the name of Def American to just American. And eventually I am going to bury it. I am going to have a funeral." Charnas said that then Rubin asked with a laugh, "And then what's Russell gonna do?"  Charnas recalled of Rubin, "It struck his Bud Abbott-esque need to prank Russell [Simmons of Def Jam]," and that the death of def was combined with other factors. "It was the fact that he wanted a divorce from his past. The fact that there was some consumer confusion. The fact that he could prank Russell a little. The fact that the word was very much out of style," said Charnas. "So he wanted to do a grand piece of performance art."

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Ethan Miller of Comets on Fire and Howlin' Rain Chats

Posted by Miss Ess, August 1, 2008 02:19pm | Post a Comment
ethan miller, comets on fire, howlin rain

Ethan Miller
is one of the Bay Area's best musicians. He formed the psychedelic/noise, super intense comets on fire, ethan miller, utrillo kushner, ben chasney, ben flashman, noel von harmonsonband Comets on Fire in Santa Cruz in 1999. The group has met with much success-- Comets was signed to Sub Pop, has toured all over the world and released four great albums. After relocating to Oakland, around 2004 Ethan brought together another outlet for his creativity, the riff-heavy Howlin' Rain. Howlin' Rain has released two exceptional records and was recently signed to musical luminary Rick Rubin's label American Recordings, which should bring the group's heavy rockin' sound to even higher highs. Check out Howlin' Rain's performance at Amoeba back in March here.

What follows is my recent chat with Ethan about songs that make him cry, his old piano teacher, and why the studio is what really windshowlin rain ethan miller his clock.

Miss Ess: Is there someone in particular who recognized and nurtured your musical interest/talent when you were young?

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