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.

Giant Step Logo Named Amongst ’22 Most Iconic’ by RBMA

 

Having just wrapped last week, the Red Bull Music Academy has amassed tons of interesting memories and content to dig into.

Earlier in May, we shared the story on Giant Step’s logo in the RBMA Daily Note; Today, the Daily Note has compiled 22 different stories on iconic logos and Giant Step’s logo is once again featured on the site.

Also featured are logos from Public Enemy, Fool’s Gold, Fania, Studio54, Def Jam, Wu Tang, and Run DMC, amongst others. Check out the stories on the RBMA website.

New Track: Wu-Tang – “Legendary Weapons” + Free MP3

 

Wu-Tang returns with another free teaser for us, and this time it’s the title track, “Legendary Weapons.” The understated track features Ghostface Killah, AZ, and M.O.P. with production by Noah Rubin. Get ready for the album to drop on July 26 – soon!

Wu-Tang – “Legendary Weapons” [MP3]
 

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New Track: Wu-Tang – “Laced Cheeba” + Free MP3

 

Gearing up for their new album, Wu-Tang has released a new single to whet our palates. “Laced Cheeba” features Ghostface, Sean Price, Trife Diesel, and is produced by Noah Rubin. Complete with Kung-Fu intro, “Laced Cheeba” is the perfect dungeon-esque rap tune that’ll make you want to throw up the Wu like it’s 1997. The group will release its 6th studio album, Legendary Weapons, on July 26th.

Wu-Tang – “Laced Cheeba” [MP3]
 

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El Michels Affair Interpolates Wu-Tang Classics On Enter The 37th Chamber

coverWith the release of their finally-completed album Enter the 37th Chamber, El Michels Affair steps out of the shadows of the retro-soul trend and establishes their status as one of the most exciting and versatile bands in modern recorded music.

In 2007, their two smash 7″ singles featuring instrumental reinterpretations of the Wu-Tang classic songs “C.R.E.A.M.” and “Bring Da Ruckus” prompted a contract with indie hip hop powerhouse Fat Beats Records to record an entire album of Wu-Tang Clan interpolations.

Led by saxophonist/organist Leon Michels and producer/engineer Jeff Silverman, El Michels Affair began as a loose collaboration of session musicians (including members of top-selling acts Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, the Budos Band, and Antibalas) that looked to blend some of the vibrant quality of soundtrack records with the recording aesthetic of early reggae, and the rawness of 60′s rock–they called it ‘Cinematic Soul.’

Stream “C.R.E.A.M.,” “Uzi (Pinky Ring)” and “Can It All Be So Simple” here.