The Season of Sole comes to a close this week, and for the fourth and final feature in the series I’m bringing you an emcee whose kick game is just as sick as his lyrical one. His name is Taajwar and his song on the Know You Got SOLE soundtrack, titled “Kick Game Sick,” is no joke. A Crown Heights, Brooklyn, native who’s experience on the mic dates back well over a decade, and even includes recording at Chuck D’s home, Taajwar is just as serious about his music as he is his sneakers. In fact, it’s his love of hip-hop that keeps him rhyming, as he explains “once I started seeing it devolve I had to do something, cuz if we don’t steer the course of our own music its gonna change into something that we hate instead of something that we love and built.”
Taajwar has built something great with his music, and this week I caught up with him to find out more about what he’s done over the years, including the boost he received from his brother, how he’s looking to pay it forward, and the delivery he hopes to get from Nike Chairman Phil Knight.
From Matt Sonzala, formerly of HoustonSoReal and now of AustinSurreal
To Whom it May Concern,
And as this is an "open letter," I mean all y'all. All of you who are or should be concerned about the situation happening at 97.9 The Box in Houston."
It pains me to write this letter, as this week, I along with every lover of hip-hop music and culture have already been hit hard by the passing of Keith "Guru" Elam. When Guru, the voice behind Gang Starr, passed away on Tuesday, I and plenty of other people pulled out our old Gang Starr records and celebrated the life of one of hip-hop's most engaging and important MC's. We listened to his music as we mourned our collective loss.
As I listened, I personally began thinking hard about hip-hop, and what it has become. Listening to his deft word play and deep, meaningful lyrics, often about street life, I felt a jolt of energy flow through me, like something I haven't felt in a long time. I realized while listening to this music, some of which is 20 years old, how much hip-hop music has taught me throughout my life. This week - tragically through Guru's passing - I remembered that hip-hop music is a serious gift to our generation.
And the loss of Guru made me think about how much we need to respect its power.
When I heard about 97.9 The Box (KBXX) banning Trae tha Truth, I honestly brushed it off. Fact of the matter is, Trae has the support of the streets of Houston. And I figured that an MC of his stature in the community probably doesn't really even need a station like The Box.
Then on the night of Wednesday April 21st, I got the news that the Kracker Nuttz - a group of three incredible DJ's who have been on KBXX for over 12 years, and were always rated extremely high in the market as they were not afraid to take chances and play certain hip-hop music that exists "outside the box," - had been fired from KBXX for playing a Chamillionaire song that featured a verse from Trae.
I then realized that this situation affects a lot more than just Trae.
Seattle, Washington-based emcee D.Black made waves late last year with the release of his highly celebrated sophomore album, Ali-Yah, on Sportn' Life Records/MYX Music Label. Showcasing his development as an artist since his emergence onto the hip-hop scene, Ali-Yah features 14 soulful, yet heavy-hitting, tracks chockfull of insightful lyricism, smooth delivery, and bangin' production, which was supplied by powerhouses Jake One and Vitamin D. "Yesterday" and "The Return" are just two of the many standout tracks that ended up on countless mixtapes and catapulted Ali'Yah onto many year-end lists.
With all the critical acclaim that the album has received, it seemed only natural to release an instrumental version for public consumption, which D.Black is proud to do. A lifelong advocate of music and its unmistakable power, D.Black hopes aspiring emcees will take these expertly arranged beats as a foundation for their own inspired verses.
Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, D.Black's musical roots are deep, with his mother and father both involved in pioneering hip-hop groups in the Seattle music scene. In 2006, D.Black released his debut album, The Cause & Effect, a huge regional success, allowing the emcee to share the stage with Nas, Freeway, Bun B, Clipse, Paul Wall, The Boot Camp Click, and more. After being mentored by Vitamin D, a staple and veteran of the Seattle hip-hop scene, D.Black began making a name for himself by working on projects with producer Jake One. One such collaboration resulted in D.Black being featured on Jake One's White Van Music, on the track "God Like," helping to cement the Seattle emcee as a household name beyond the Pacific Northwest. Jake One and Vitamin D were also both instrumental in helping D.Black create his new album, offering guidance and production on the record. D.Black's new album, Ali'Yah, is now available everywhere via Sportn' Life Records/MYX Music Label.
HIP HOP STAR JIM JONES TO TEACH 6 WEEK COURSE DESCRIBING THE IN’S AND OUT’S OF THE MUSIC.
INDUSTRY MUSIC BUSINESS 101 BEGINS SOON AS PART OF ENTERTAINERS 4 EDUCATION ALLIANCE MISSION!
(New York, NY) Class is in session and this time, hip hop superstar Jim Jones is the teacher. Tuesday, April 27, 2010 kicks off a 6 week high school course, entitled Music Business 101, presented by Entertainers for Education Alliance (E4EA). Jim Jones will be heading the class along with numerous selected guest speakers. After class Jim will head over to Fordham University to lecture on aspects of the music business at 6pm on April 27th 2010.
The course will give 25 lucky students a once in a lifetime opportunity of learning the behind the scenes of the music industry. “Jim has been a longstanding E4EA board member,” said Tonya Lewis, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Entertainers 4 Education Alliance Inc. “He is a true hip hop talent who will teach and inspire kids about the many aspects of the music industry. We know he will have a positive impact on the kids.” As a recording artist and industry executive, Jones will provide a real life perspective to students. Music Business 101 will reveal the fundamentals and business practices of the music industry and also explore creative content, artist management, music operations, music business threats, opportunities and networking. Even more interesting Jim Jones will discuss intellectual property issues, production and distribution models and potential entrepreneur opportunities that are available.
WHO: HIP HOP SUPERSTAR JIM JONES and Entertainers 4 Education Alliance
WHAT: Music Business 101, 6 week course
WHEN: Launch date April 27th, 2010, and every Tuesday thereafter for 6 weeks 3:30-5:30pm
The final single from Skyzoo's critically acclaimed album THE SALVATION. Produced by Best Kept Secret. Directed by Artemus Jenkins. Starring Skyzoo, Skarr Akbar, & introducing Shaunetta Squalls. THE SALVATION is in stores now via Jamla/Duck Down Music. Click here to purchase: http://bit.ly/bzyHPx
After releasing a slew of tracks off their compilation project, Invasion Vol. 1, and a successful Dope Winter Ball Tour, the Town Techno purveyors League510 are proud to release the title track and first single off their album, To The Beat. Playing off League510's imaginative back-story, "To The Beat" depicts their exciting journey to planet Earth as TK, Mont, Mr. Knowitall, and DJ Blacksmith lead an alien invasion landing in the Bay Area.
Joining forces with their extraterrestrial sound waves and eccentric effects, "To The Beat" explodes with color, animation, and outlandish costumes, courtesy of Axiom Media Group and Tim Lillis. The video looks like a scene from a video game with League510's laser guns and power meters ranging from "Normal" to "Town". League510 explains, "With the help of a young Oakland native, we transformed ourselves to fit in, then realized the ills of this new planet and the mistake in adopting those new behaviors." They continue, "Instead, we set out to right these wrongs with the help of our newfound friend. All is well until the villain, the embodiment of all ignorance and cause of Oakland's turmoil, shows up and an epic battle ensues." Rather than death rays, League510 shoots Town Techno rays, injecting their music into everyone around them. Spoken like the leaders they are, League510 proclaims, "We may be aliens and you may not understand us, but there is no need to fear us. Believe in the League!"
Look out for League510's Earth invasion from Clear Label Records, To The Beat, in Spring 2010.
Emcees TK, Mont, Mr. Knowitall and DJ Blacksmith better known as League510 are pioneers of a sound that is all their own, Town Techno. With a sound that is out of this world, League510's musical journey began in a galaxy far away from ours. After traveling the universe for years, they entered our galaxy and our planet shortly thereafter. With sights on our world, the quartet chose to land in the hills east of Oakland, CA. After hiding their ship deep in the hills they approached this new town with great curiosity and were immediately amazed by the vibrant culture that they found. Adopting the Bay Area scene as their new home, League510 wasted no time in beginning their new musical journey here in our world. Using advanced abilities, the four emcees quickly mastered the art of sound and gave birth to Town Techo, a form of music that would unite the people in heightened awareness; to show them to take action, to appreciate the fun in life, to believe in themselves and to believe in The League.
About Clear Label Records:
Founded in Oakland, CA in 1999, Clear Label Records has established itself as one of the top independent labels in the Bay Area. The company is owned and operated by Tajai Massey, renowned recording artist with the group Souls of Mischief and the crew Hieroglyphics, who brings a unique perspective to the label utilizing his experiences as a major-label recording artist turned independent label owner & successful touring musician. Clear Label is home to recording artists of many genres such as Chris Marsol, Baby Jaymes, FamSyrk, Deep Rooted, League510, and more. Through a partnership with Pushing the Beat (PTB) called ClearBeat, the label is also home to Oakland’s hottest street artists including Beeda Weeda, Shady Nate, D-Lo, Sleepy D and others. Look for full-length releases from all of these artists in the near future. For more information, please visit http://www.clearlabelrecords.com
If you don't know about DJ Halo you'll definitely want to check out this free 45+ mix, which is a promo for his May 12th show at Good Life in Boston, MA. Halo also spins every Friday and Saturday night at Karma in NYC.
Now available for free download is the The Heart & Brain "Mbodiment" Album Sampler! TzariZM & Vis Major have completed an album of straight head-nodding Boom-Bap goodness that any Hip-Hop head will appreciate from start to end. Along with The Brain, Vis Major, on the mic and the Heart, Tzarizm, on the production, this joint is definitely nothing less than the title itself. "Mbodiment" features guest appearances from Supastition aka Kam Moye, Akrobatik, Butta Verses, Wordsworth, Critical, MidaZ the Beast, Illustrate of Grey Matter and more. Get ready to feel the MBodiment of Hip-Hop!
Peep the tracklisting: 1. Intro – Fetus Musik 2. Live Sh!t 3. Jazz Kickin' 4. Ol' Man 5. Heart Beat Check (Interlude) 6. Time iz Money feat. Critical & Tamara Bernard 7. Rockstarr (R.I.P. Jimi) 8. The Heart's Message 9. Bottle Fead 10. The Setup feat. MidaZ the Beast & Illustrate (Grey Matter) 11. Life's Desire feat. Mylodic 12. My Heart Beatz feat. Butta Verses & Sekani 13. The Lung Breathez (DJ YNOT) 14. Lounge Ontop feat. Sienna Blayze 15. Serious feat. Supastition & Akrobatik 16. Brain Wave Check (Interlude) 17. Mis-Takez 18. To Love To Miss feat. Wordsworth & Illustrate (Grey Matter) 19. On The Market 20. Blood Line: Life & Death 21. This Hard Life Goes 22. Blood Transfusion (Enderlude)
Having just recently premiered an edited version of the video for "Curtain Call," the lead single from the album, LeftBack, Little Brother is excited to bring fans the uncensored version of the video. The aptly titled "Curtain Call" signals the opening salvo from what is the celebrated group's last album. "We gonna do this thing one last time," Phonte begins on the track. With the deep fried southern bump that has seasoned Phonte and Big Pooh's music from day one, (courtesy of beatwrecker Khrysis) it's almost easy to miss the bittersweet nature of the track, as the acclaimed duo bid a fond farewell to their fans.
The clip was directed by video maestro Matt Koza (whose resume includes clips for RJD2, Foreign Exchange and others), and captures the kinship of the Hall of Justus family. Koza cites the release as the "final curtain call for the play of the decade." With cameos from the likes of Chaundon, Justus honcho Big Dho and Jozeemo, Koza captures the crew clowning around backstage (which the director notes is the fun-loving essence of the LB/HOJ crew). This imagery is juxtaposed with the crew standing before a packed, elegantly dressed crowd on hand to catch the fictional (but sadly imminent) last appearance of the mighty Little Brother. Surveying the pop-rap landscape it's safe to say that today's hip-hop is rarely crafted as caringly as "Curtain Call", and for a song that signals the end, it feels like a new beginning. Just try not to get misty eyed as the rap giants give each other a loving pound and part ways at the end of the clip.
Little Brother's fourth and final album, LeftBack, is available Tuesday, April 20 via Hall Of Justus.
Little Brother, the Durham, North Carolina group formed in part by Phonte and Rapper Big Pooh, released their debut album The Listening on ABB Records in 2003. They are now gearing up for the release of their fourth album, LeftBack, which will be the last of Little Brother’s illustrious career, available now via Hall Of Justus. Continuing the tradition they set with the critically acclaimed third release GetBack, Big Pooh and Phonte have enlisted multiple producers for LeftBack, both from within and outside of the Justus League camp. The album features production from the likes of Khyrsis, Denaun Porter, J.Bizness and guest vocals from Torae, Truck North, Jozeemo, Chaundon, Median, and more.
Even though some of the things said about Primo this week weren't kind, it seems he chose to take the high road. This official statement comes from the DJ Premier Blog, "The Only Fansite Approved by DJ Premier" on the web:
IT WAS A SAD DAY FOR ME TO GET CONFIRMATION ON THE DEATH OF A MAN WHO I WILL CONTINUE TO CALL MY BROTHER, KEITH ELAM, BETTER KNOWN AS GURU OF THE LEGENDARY GANG STARR.
FROM 1988-2004, WE EXPERIENCED SO MUCH SUCCESS TOGETHER THAT WE WERE ABLE TO EXPAND OUR BUSINESSES INDEPENDENTLY AND GIVE EACH OTHER WHAT GURU CALLED “CREATIVE SPACE”, BEFORE PLANNING TO REUNITE FOR OUR 7TH LP WHEN THE TIME WAS RIGHT. TRAGICALLY, WE WILL NEVER REACH THAT DAY.
I’VE BEEN ASKED TO COMMENT ON A LETTER SPEAKING ILL OF ME WHICH WAS SUPPOSEDLY WRITTEN BY GURU IN HIS DYING DAYS. ALL I WILL SAY ABOUT IT IS THAT OUR TIME TOGETHER WAS BEAUTIFUL, WE BUILT A HIP HOP LEGACY TOGETHER, AND NO ONE CAN RE-WRITE HISTORY OR TAKE AWAY MY LOVE FOR HIM. ONE THING I WOULD NEVER DO IS PLAY AROUND WITH THE TRUTH ABOUT HIS LIFE.
I WILL CELEBRATE GURU’S LIFE… I WILL HONOR HIS MEMORY… I WILL GRIEVE WITH THE ELAM FAMILY OVER HIS UNTIMELY DEATH… I WILL REMEMBER THE GANG STARR FOUNDATION AND ALL OF THE ORIGINAL MEMBERS OF GANG STARR WHO CAME BEFORE ME – WE ALL KNOW EACH OTHER… MOSTLY, I WILL CHERISH EVERYTHING WE CREATED TOGETHER AS GANG STARR, FOREVER. I’M GONNA MISS HEARING HIS SIGNATURE MONOTONE VOICE WHEN HE WALKS IN THE ROOM, BUT THE SONGS WILL ALWAYS BRING IT BACK TO ME….HIS RHYME FLOWS WERE INSANE, AND I WILL NEVER REMOVE HIM FROM MY HEART AND SOUL…….REST IN PEACE TO THE MAN WHO FELT “SATISFACTION FROM THE STREET CROWD REACTION” … I LOVE YOU GOO…….DJ PREMIER