Amanda Seales and Kris Bowers Bring Jazz to Wu-Tang Classics at ‘Mo’ Betta Wu’ Show in NYC

Killandra Bea

Words by Korby Benoit

Amanda Seales and Kris Bowers recently debuted their live collaboration Mo’ Betta Wu at (Le) Poisson Rouge in New York.  Mo’ Betta Wu is a one of a kind show where the artists reinterpret hip hop classics by the Wu-Tang Clan as jazz standards. It all results into a spirited and comedic performance that will amuse hip hop heads and jazz cats alike.

Backed by an accompanying 4 piece band dubbed The Shinobis, Seales handles all the vocal duties as the character Killandra Bea (the name is a play on the term ‘killa bee’). Killandra is a long-time resident of Staten Island’s Stapleton housing projects. She is bold and quick witted, as she engages the audience with clever quips in between the reworked Wu-Tang bangers. Songs like “C.R.E.A.M.”, “Shimmy, Shimmy Ya” and “Triumph” are presented in a manner in which most hip hop fans would never imagine.

Seales flexes some impressive vocal range, while the arrangements of jazz pianist Kris Bowers  manage to retain the head nodding appeal of the original Wu-Tang material. The beats are easy to recognize yet unfold in new ways. This was a significant challenge for, Bowers as he explained, “That was a worry of mine as an arranger. Whether or not people were going to hear the samples through what we were playing. So I was glad that the audience picked it up.”

Much of the show is driven by the chemistry between the artists and the audience. Amanda Seales displays a certain awareness which allows her to be playful and improvise much of her performance as Killandra Bea.  She states, “It comes from a genuine connection to the audience. I’ve been really lucky to have that intuition and to be able to feel.  And this is going to sound really existential, but to be able to feel beyond what people are showing me. It’s what helps me be a good comic. It’s what helps me be a good DJ and good performer.”

With the 20th anniversary of  Wu-Tang’s seminal Enter The 36 Chambers upon us, as well as other hip hop masterpieces such as NasIllmatic, it is refreshing to see artists pay homage. Perhaps projects like Mo’ Betta Wu are a way to remind us of hip hop’s limitless potential.

Photo: Black Rock Coalition (Santana Retrospective Redux) @ Joe’s Pub, NYC – April 8

Photos by Eddie Pearson

The Black Rock Coalition brought together a dynamic tribute to Carlos Santana at Joe’s Pub. The show featured an hour and a half of Santana’s biggest hits as well as some special guests, including Vernon Reid (of Living Colour) and local Brooklyn Guitarist Marcus Machado.

NYC: Jon Batiste @ Webster Hall – April 19

 

jon

Jon Batiste will be joined by his Stay Human band to perform some soulful tunes off their recently released their debut album, Social Music, at Webster Hall on April 19. Opening will be the popular NYC based hip-hop group, Phony Ppl. Don’t miss it!

Enter our contest to win tickets to the show!

Event Details
Jon Batiste and Stay Human Live
w/ Phony Ppl

Saturday, April 19
7PM

Tickets: $20
Purchase tickets

Danny Brown and Bodega Bamz Bring Detroit and Spanish Harlem to LES

Danny Brown

By Chelsea Whitaker

Danny Brown made an impact on the rap world with his album Old, released late last year. The innovative, grime influenced beats mixed with a lyricism and an attitude true to his Detroit roots struck a chord with both hipsters and hip hop heads.

Bodega Bamz has similar blend of creative production and locally influenced lyrics, but instead of Detroit, Bamz showcases Spanish Harlem to the world. He found his own niche among fans of New York hip hop ever since his 2012 mixtape Strictly 4 My Papis blended trap with Latino culture. Cosigns from A$AP Mob and Peter Rosenberg helped cement him as part of the new New York.

Both Danny and Bamz have created their own branded cliques – Bruiser Brigade for Danny, and Tan Boys for Bamz. These reference specific lifestyles while allowing fans worldwide to connect to each artist on a deeper level. Both Brusiers and Tan Boys were in the building for the Bowery Ballroom show in NYC, creating a blend of cultures that is totally NYC. Zeelopers opened the show by spitting nerd-rap verses over trap beats. The crowd responded graciously to his nostalgic references and constant energy.

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