Category Archives: music

Some may know him as “Van the Man”

For many, it’s almost impossible to think of Van Morrison without conjuring up the lyrics to “Brown Eyed Girl.” The two have almost become synonymous, much to the artist’s dismay.

Although Van may seem like “an Irish prick” sometimes, it may actually be warranted. Discover some more about the legendary musician, as Kory French defends and honors one of his favorite singer/songwriters of all time.


Another Lady Lamb the Beekeeper video for you!

I must admit, there’s something irresistible about Lady Lamb the Beekeeper. All in all, it looks like I’m not alone on this. Lady Lamb performed at Brooklyn Vegan’s showcase at SXSW this past Wednesday, and I’m sure it did not disappoint. Although I wasn’t one of the fortunate one’s to be graced with Lady Lamb’s voice via live performance, I can always dream about it while watching some Live Studio sessions. So take your pick, or pop on both for your listening pleasure.

DJ Rekha hits up NPR for a little chat session

She’s the host of Bhangra and Beyond, and she’s hittin’ up NPR for a fireside chat. DJ Rekha breaks down the world of “bhangra,” including its immense influence on American music. Now used in many tracks from artists such as Jay-Z, bhangra has been taking off largely due to DJ Rekha’s passion.

So feel the rhythm and the beat, and give a listen to the show that can give you a whole new genre to appreciate.

Sway, from Death or Freedom, jams at Spoonbread Too in NYC

Sometimes Hear & There episodes only make me wish that all concerts were more like this. Today’s episode is no exception. Taking one electric guitar to soul food stalwart, Spoonbread Too, Sway (aka Steve Clarke from Death or Freedom) performs his song “Nobody Listens.” Filled with a somewhat eerie/dark melody, the composition comes to life in a beautifully crafted piece. I must say, the end verse sends a chill down my spine.

For Freedom or Death tour dates, including some shows at SXSW, check out their Myspace page. Don’t forget to read the band’s recent review by Jim Fussili over at The Wall Street Journal.

Setlist: BTR Hip Hop Show

The luscious voice that opens up DJ Wayne Ski’s Tuesday afternoon Hip Hop Show doesn’t hold back what she feels for him or the beats he plays: “I got you. Can I get you more than once a week? I can’t get enough of that Hip Hop Show on”

So what is it that makes Wayne Ski’s Hip Hop Show on BTR separate itself from the rest of the Internet hip hop stations? It’s the delicate mix between classic and fresh that Wayne Ski spins that keeps his listeners thinking they just “can’t get enough.”

“Basically, the beats sound like New York City underground hip hop Radio in the 90s blended with the new sound mix show,” explains Wayne Ski in an email on the style and sound of BTR Hip Hop. “Heavy beats and dope rhymes. Boom Bap Rap as most people like to call it.”

The BTR Hip Hop hour on Tuesday afternoons is a “show that features new artists as well as underground hip hop legends [who are now] on the independent route.” This special blend helps promote new talent while tapping into the listener’s desire for the nostalgia. Take this week’s show for example, we get everything from the very scratched up and redelivered Bumpy Knuckles to the much more smooth and ‘opulent’ Gangalee. “The best part of the show is that I get to play artists who some people have no idea who they are, but once they check out the show they know exactly who they are.”

Another portion of Wayne Ski’s talent that shouldn’t go missed are his colorful mic breaks. One of BTR’s more full-personalities on the mic, I found myself listening to what he had to say about the music just as interesting and entertaining as listening to the tracks themselves.

Take, for example, a message he shares with his listeners at about the halfway point in his show. With a creative way of delivering what is happening in hip hop news and the latest rap music scene, as well as a sense of humor in keeping it real with musician-friends, followers, and fans; DJ Wayne Ski is never short of entertaining antics: “You don’t have to follow me. You can if you want to, but you don’t have to. But if you do, I’m pretty sure you’ll be entertained in some way. shape. or form.”

His programming technique is “simple,” he says. “Basically, I want to hear the studio shake when I turn a song all the way up. And of course I must get the crazy head nod going. Once that happens it’s going on BTR.” Wayne Ski explains to me that “most of the artist I feature I already have relationships with; so once they send it in–it’s on.”

Just like all hip hop, the music on BreakThru’s Hip Hop hour is not about sound only. In respecting the true values of the hip hop form, Wayne Ski makes sure to feature music “that has a message.”

“It’s not just about kicking it or having fun. I would like my listeners to challenge themselves to listen to what the artist are saying.”

Link to this article:

– Kory French

Liner Notes: If There Is No Father To His Style, Call Him ‘Bastard’

“To the public he was known as Ol’ Dirty Bastard but to me he was known as Rusty. The kindest, most generous soul on earth.”

-Cherry Jones–mother of ODB

This past Saturday (November 13th) marks the sixth-year anniversary of the death of Russell Tyrone Jones, the rapper more famously known as Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Strangely enough, on this past Monday (November 15th) he would have been 42.

It is a daunting task to try and write a thousand-word obituary on a man I hardly know anything about. Sure, I remember playing basketball to Wu Tang Clan tracks when I was in high school; but that was only as a result of the pressure and persistence of a very close friend or mine who demanded his hip-hop CDs get as much play time as my overdone, and inappropriate in comparison, classic rock repertoire.

It was not long before I began to recognize my own closeted affection for the Staten Island collective, soon thereafter, and much to the surprise of my good pal Chris, I was requesting the Clan each time we got into his truck to head off to football practice, drink rye and ginger ale at a bush party, or cruise the ‘dangerous’ redneck streets of my hometown. What was this kung-fu stuff? I didn’t have a clue. What I did know was this:

Two indisputable certainties: 1) I had no idea what this guy was rapping about, and couldn’t relate to any of it. And 2) It didn’t matter, because oh baby, I too, “like it raw.”

A guy who comes onto the scene with a name like ‘Ol’ Dirty Bastard’ backed by a group called ‘The Wu Tang Clan’ presents an immediate problem–or so one would think. And while I feel guilty now for once thinking this way, the more I learn about ODB, the less guilt I feel. It was shock that became his modus operandi, a style that would separate him from his contemporaries. I speculate that the reaction I got from his music was the very response he was looking for. He wanted his audience to hear his music and watch his performance with a “what the fuck just happened” state of disbelief.

A case in point (his most famous case, to be exact):

One does not jump on stage during the fortieth Grammy award ceremonies (1998) in Rockefeller Plaza to interrupt the “song of the year” recipient speech without full consciousness of intention and desired result. You see, in 1998 the Grammy’s were still not recognizing the rap-portion of the ceremony as a television worthy event; and this pissed Dirty off. Frustrated that the awards for hip-hop were handed out a day earlier, during a non-televised ceremony, despite the fact that the genre of music was over two-decades old and while immersed in American culture, ODB took advantage of this moment to share with the rest of the country the injustices of a biased music industry. While many viewers saw it as a form of “distaste,” others applauded Dirty for his stance against racial prejudices in a country and industry that is supposed to be a leader in the disintegration of exactly that.

A lot can be said about the life of Russell Tyrone Jackson that this article does not have the time nor space for. (As a side not, if you are interested I suggest Digging for Dirt: The Life and Death of ODB by Jaime Lowe, which was the primary research source for this article). I could have spent much of my time filling you in on all of his sexual escapades that led to fatherless and unsupported children. I could have gone into detail over his trouble with the law, time spent in and out of  the US’s notorious and discriminatory prison system, and the somewhat lengthy criminal record he managed to acquire over his thirty-five years in this world. Finally, I could have discussed his personal battle with drug and alcohol abuse, supposed and much disputed mental instability, and the official cause of his death: “Accidental overdose from a lethal combination of Tramadol [a painkiller] and cocaine.” But none of this gets down to the core of the man known as Ol’ Dirty Bastard.

Time is the ultimate equalizer. The further we move away from nineties hip-hop, the more we come to recognize it as a major player to a much greater subversive trend. What we often fall guilty of when thinking about these acts of subversion is that it is individual ‘people’ who make the parts to these cultural shifts. Ol’ Dirty Bastard was one of those people. In other words, while our language is mostly predicated on the idea that ‘hip-hop’ stands alone as viable, sustainable American culture, we should be thinking about the people that made it this way. It wasn’t some anomaly born out of thin air. It was a culture built on the character and subcultural styles of artists and performers like Russell Jackson.

Alas, forget my self-prescribed verbose haughtiness. It is said much better in the vernacular of the culture:

“What’s the world without Dirt? Just a bunch of fuckin’ water.”
– Rhymefest

Link to this article:

– Kory French

AOTW: Chico Mann

While guitarist Chico Mann takes a break from his band, Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, he has developed a multi-layered, electronic fusion sound that’s been blowing up dance floors in New York City and Miami. Mixing Afro-beat, freestyle, Latin, and synth-heavy electronic beats, Chico Mann has brought sounds of far away and far past, with music of the future, just beyond our reach, and called is “electropical.”

Born in NYC to Cuban parents, Marcos Garcia was exposed to music and the business from birth. His father owned a Cuban music record label and his mother often wrote compositions for the artists whom he signed. Garcia was involved in piano and guitar lessons from very young, and though he was told to steer clear of the music industry, it seemed to be his fate. In 2002, after a few jam sessions with Antibalas, he was asked to join the band permanently and has been developing his sound ever since.

The new artist Chico Mann released his first solo album, Manifest Tone, Vol. 1, in 2007, and the following two volumes in May and June of 2009. In doing this, he introduced the world to a fusion of sound as blended as the city he hails from. “It’s an expression of uniquely American music in the sense that it has all these different elements hooked together in one stew. It’s also very urban, very Latin and very multicultural in that it draws from African and funk music,” he says in an interview with James Rawls for Spinner.

Now signed to Wax Poetics records, Chico Mann is releasing his second full-length album, called Analog Drift, on November 16th. These twelve club-tronica, Latin-Afro-freestyle tracks are impossible not to dance to, his cover of Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” is just one example.  He recently wrapped up the promotional tour, which included a stop at South By Southwest, and plans to be back on the road in 2011. For the time being, check out to buy the digital CD, join the mailing list, and keep up to date on this revolutionary new artist.

Link to this article:

– Carly Shields