Lately, some new artists have hit the interwebs who are down right addictive and, if all goes well, they will be giving fans the shakes on a massive level. J. Cole’s “A Dollar and A Dream II” affixes graceful metaphors about the throes of quarter-life insecurity to a generous piano melody that makes a clean break from the ever-ubiquitous synth-hop. Jay-Z scooped the North Carolina MC as the first signee to his newly-formed Roc Nation imprint; a move that makes sense since Cole has the same low-key cleverness that has rendered Hov a mega-bajillionaire. He’s young so his mixtape The Warm Up has the requisite knuckle-headed sneaker and swagger rhymes. But the clean production has the classic brooding sensibility of jazz-sampled hip hop from Slum Village and Little Brother. Tracks like “I Get Up” and “Losing My Balance” are that good good.
By Mawuse Ziegbe
The 2009 All Points West Music and Arts Festival in New Jersey’s Liberty State Park was kinda like an open-air high school lunchroom where shaggy rockers, glittery rappers, and freewheeling artsy kids all held court in their respective corners. Spotty showers soaked the first day of the weekend-long festival which left dedicated (a.k.a. fool-headed) fans tramping through glutinous mud to the sounds of Vampire Weekend, The Knux and Peanut Butter Wolf. The Pharcyde rocked loopy hits like “Runnin’” and “Passin’ Me By.” The original line-up was in full effect – including a formerly dreadlocked Tre sporting an appropriately Jersey Corleone hat – and showed love to J. Dilla by playing Slum Village jams like “Raise It Up.” Q-Tip deployed his trademark energy, grooving through Tribe’s hits and busting out a quirky yet charming cover of Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature.”
The All Points West festival announced that Jay-Z has been added to the bill for Friday, July 31. As we recently learned, Beastie Boys were forced to cancel their headlining appearance at APW's opening night --as well as all other engagements--when MCA was diagnosed with cancer. For those requesting refunds based on this news, ticket refunds are available at point of purchase for Friday single day tickets only. But if you're asking for a refund, you might be insane. The news is bittersweet, our thoughts are with MCA and we're all hoping for a speedy recovery. But this surprise replacement is not too shabby.
This show will mark the U.S. festival debut of Jay-Z, who last year performed at a variety of overseas festivals including the U.K.'s Glastonbury, Denmark's Roskilde Festival, Norway's Hove Festival and the O2 Wireless Festival in London. In a review of a recent show, the Los Angeles Times' Ann Powers said, “Jay-Z shows are fun because the rapper is so adept at spinning liquid gold; his mouth is one of the most nimble in the genre's history, and he uses it to present thoughts that are sharp, funny and resonant”.
By Mawuse Ziegbe
Puberty would not have been the same without LL Cool J. Honestly who was hotter than shirtless, lip-lickin' LL in 1995? Coolio? Tag Team? Exactly. And yet when Estelle and LL Cool J took over Terminal 5 for the Grammy and T-Mobile tour I was not prepared for how totally phat it would be. Estelle was aiight - she was two-steppin' and bitching about her ex-boyfriend - entertaining but all things I could see any sloshed slag do on a Saturday night. LL weaved through his 20-year-plus repertoire flexing to hits like "Doin' It," "Rock The Bells," "Phenomenon," "I Need Love," "Headsprung," and "Radio" with the energy and abs of a delusional MySpace MC. I spent much of the time jonesing for FUBU, Dunkaroos and general nineties awesomeness. So, mad props to LL and the booty-quaking potency of his def beats.
The Roots don't score as many mainstream snaps as LL but they continue to prove their legendary status with events like the 2nd annual Roots Picnic. Following a typically grizzly Chinatown bus ride to the illadelph, I caught Antibalas' fairly uninspired set. Philly's own Santigold often relies on her fussy downtown b-girl look and heart attack-serious dancers to carry a performance. But she actually smiled and flicked her hair a bit more than usual through songs like "Find A Way," "Unstoppable," and "Say Aha." Throngs of mall-accessorized girls thrashed along to "Creator" and Spank Rock made Read more »
Check out this album which features remixes of Al Green's classics with artists such as Jay Z, Common, Fugees, Method Man, MF Doom, Busta Rhymes, The Pharcyde, Notorious B.I.G., De La Soul, AZ, Nas, Pharaohe Monch and Mos Def.
The Green Album is a free download! But if you love the album as much as I do, please donate to Stay True. Stay True is a Philadelphia based non-profit organization dedicated to offering under-privileged, at-risk youth the opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills, and confidence needed to become powerful agents of social/political change in their communities.