Tuesday, March 16, 2010
I was at Donwill's listening party and there's wine and cheese (sponsored by www.wineandbeats.com) and I couldn't have been more in my element. The ambiance was reminiscent of a Native Tongues reunion except it's 2010 and hip hop has chosen to relive it's roots inside of evolution with the likes of Nicky from the group HEAVY, Spec Boogie and Che Grand in attendance .The growth is what you could call a guy named DonWill. The evolution of hip hop is a Brooklyn based group called Tanya Morgan. The newest piece to the catalog of classic hip hop is the album "Don Cusack in High Fidelity".
Of course this album is an absolute Ode to the 2000 movie classic High Fidelity with John Cusack, which was a remake from the 1995 British Novel of the same name. A movie that entails a man that goes through the journey of trying to find himself when his last relationship falls apart without his apparent knowledge. While owning and working at a record store with two other friends, he's able to come across many people including women who fall victim to his extensive music collection. He then goes on a hunt to track down his top 5 ex girlfriends to find out what is it about him that made them leave. Donwill brought the movie back to life by remaking the movie. The album is the soundtrack of the remake yet it also holds the true life details of Donwill's last year or so of love, relationships and music.
The intricacies of love & hate, falling in love & breaking up and infatuation & lost admiration are all the things that happen in this album. Donwill allows himself to embody the character of Don Cusack who is a replica of John Cusack by taking pieces of the movie to make a perfectly synced album. Debates throughout the movie surface all throughout the album. It opens with the classic epiphany of how pop music encourages heartache, pain and lost from its many love songs. "What came first? The music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns or watching violent videos like some sort of cultural violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, pain, misery and lost. Did I listen to pop music because i was miserable? Or was I miserable because i listened to pop music?"
"Now, the making of a good compilation tape is a very subtle art. Many do's and don'ts. First of all you're using someone else's poetry to express how you feel. This is a delicate thing."- High Fidelity. The album automatically is equivalent to the uniqueness of the movie. Taking you on a roller coaster of emotional turmoil that tends to happen throughout any relationship. The mere idea to redo a movie who's entire making is based around nothing but the importance of music was sheer genius.
"When you find that somebody to love, sometimes you gotta find some way to love that somebody." is how the first song "Laura's Song" starts off. An open Donwill dishes out all his epiphanies on how the relationship began and ended in one song. A song dedicated to the woman of his past that embodies the character of Laura, the main girl.
Ranging from childhood heartache to college wifeys , the song "Top 5 breakups" has a very old school flow with a beat to match. Throw this song into 1992 and it would fit perfectly next to Bonita Applebum. It is a walk down memory lane with the women that broke his heart in the best and most gruesome ways. Quick and straight to the point are the stories on how the relationships were and how they ended. While each verse explains the story of how the women came and went, the chorus starts off in a way with the denial of Laura not even being that important, yet by the end of the song an adult point of view bumps Laura right in the top 5 list "with a bullet".
The beats follow the chaotic moments of feelings that fly through this album. A perfect marriage with beats to rhymes is Championship Vinyl which happens to be the setting around the entire movie and album. It is also the name of the record store. As three music connoisseurs run a record store, the song depicts how the days play out while working there. Turning the skits from Dick (Todd Louiso), Barry (Jack Black) and Rob (John Cusack) who run a record store to Von Pea, Che Grand and Donwill put a funny twist on everything. Listening to how the customers get cursed out for having a hugely different taste than that of a normal music buff is hilarious.
One of the most dramatic and funny songs on the album has to be Ian's Song. This is the area on the album where Don finds out that his ex has left him for Ian ex neighbor. Making references to how when they were still together they could hear Ian having sex in the apartment above them. "No one's having better sex than Ian."
Relationships, love, lost and heartbreak is what surrounds Donwill's new album. If you haven't seen the movie High Fidelity it's definitely classic piece that's worth seeing. So rather than give every detail of the album, here's a tip for you. March 23rd Don Cusack in High Fidelity. He's got special collaborations with artists, such as Peter Hadar, Nicky Guiland, Opio and many others. To find Donwill online, follow him on twitter at www.twitter.com/donwill. And if you need something to hold u down until the album drops, you can download Laura's Song (mixed by DJ KingMost), the mixtape at www.donwill.bandcamp.com. Enjoy!
Monday, March 30, 2009
“Inside the lyrics of what some would call “commercial underground hip hop” are stories of soldiers who have fallen victim to beats that left them with their own souls spilled out across tracks that were presumed to be the “Next Big Thing”. Inside of these moments of exposed artistry lies a creativity that is left to not be duplicated or fully understood… just accepted and appreciated. These are the feelings that come over any emcee, singer, producer or artist when it comes to finishing a project. Inhibitions have been laid to tracks where masterpieces have been created more often than naught. So to deny the pulchritude of such a moment would almost be blasphemy.” -JwaStar
That’s what happens when I sit and listen to great hip hop reinvent itself over and over again. It’s something that I have to find and explain in words so that even the simplest of minds can understand what a winning moment looks like to Hip Hop. Not only Hip Hop but music and any form of artistry. The triumph of even writing these moments is not even something I’m sure I could ever truly explain in depth.
This year has already been one of an amazing stature. I was able to see Phonte perform twice in NYC last month which was wonderful. Missing moments with his other half left a slight damper on my mood but to know that Pooh is utterly busy in the studio should keep any fan of LB wanting more. The greatness of being able to see the evolution of what Hip Hop is a beautiful thing to witness (even if others aren’t totally accepting of it). Very similar to Kanye West, Phonte has picked up the emotion of soul music and crafted it into his new work. He co hosted a show in NYC at the beginning of last month called “Hip Hop 1942” it was a tribute to jazz and hip hop that was fused from the past and now. Great show and performance behind a fabulous 6 piece band along with special renditions you wouldn’t expect from the Phonte. He’s allowed himself to be totally immersed in what R&B means to him. The difference between rap music and soul music can be a huge one and a quite small one at the same time. Phonte has been able to merge his creativity and love of both sounds into something that is extremely appreciated on both levels of the game without going too far left away from either category. With the Foreign Exchange and Little Brother, his range of things to do in between the two is limitless. Here’s a little treat into what you missed in March!
This week with Little Brother I got a little bit more in depth with Phonte and got to get an extreme understanding of what it was to be in a relationship with any music artist. These are the things that woman would like to know. I also got to get deep to the core realizations of what juggling marriage, career and children look like inside of Hip Hop as well. Understanding the dynamic of men and their choices has always been difficult and there is definitely something to be learned from Phonte’s point of view of the subjects.
Pooh recently released “The Comeback” video and is working heavy on his next album release, Delightful Bars. You can call this album, the album in between the real album to come, Dirty Pretty Things. Pooh is hard at work traveling between Cali, NY, and North Carolina. His hustle and drive appear to never stop. The production on Delightful Bars comes from the familiars such as Khrysis , 9th Wonder and Illmind. He also gives some newbies a moment to shine such as The Co-op and Phonix and many others on this "in between" masterpiece. Check the video if you haven’t yet.
You can also check for a new mixtape coming out by Resevoir Dogs, which consist of Pooh, Chaundon, Jozeemo and Joe Scudda that will be mixed by DJ Warrior. You can find Pooh touring soon in the fall and don’t forget to get that mixtape Rapper’s Delight which is already out and ready to cop.
When speaking with Big Pooh I got down to the nitty gritty of what spectators really think about Pooh and his opinions on it. Who’s the better rapper? Why can’t I find a LB album when I want it? What’s up with the distribution? How is it with Phonte taking the lead? A ton of questions came up when it was time to speak with Pooh because at the end of the day, he’s a really down to earth guy who believes in his work and so do I!
Sooner than later we can start to look for a new album from LB that’s gonna be called LeftBack. It’s the songs that didn’t quite make it to GetBack and a couple of new pieces from the boys to hold us die hard fans over. As far as catching them out in your town, you can check for the guys on myspace at www.myspace.com/phontigallo and www.myspace.com/rapperbigpooh , Twitter @Phontigallo and @RapperBigPooh. You can also catch them on Facebook. This month also has a great interview up with Pooh on www.okayplayer.com. You can also find out more about Little Brother from their website www.hallofjustus.com. Don’t forget to check in with Phonte on www.gordongartrellradio.com. Peace.
Monday, February 23, 2009
The epitome of Hip Hop lies in the lyrics of many men with many emcees running through tracks just to find the moment where the marriage of real music proceeds. I thought I found real hip hop in my expedition for hope. In verses I found Ninth Wonder’s high hats hitting me low in my soul. I flexed with the lyrics that gave truth to where Little Brother’s thoughts thrived from. An extreme appreciation for the crew as the 3some they began as is something that I could never truly explain. Discovery into the new depths of what hip hop is comes to me inside of a Godly type class. I’m forever indebted to Hip Hop, ode to the culture.
Keeping up with Little Brother can be so difficult. Like any group or artist on the road and the grind, finding time to sit down to actually have an interview with me wasn’t peaches and cream. Between trips to Hawaii, traveling all over the US and beyond creating separate albums and working as a team, the ambition of what these emcees have had to endure to get to this status is the same drive they gave me to run them down to do this interview. I feel extremely dedicated to what I want to get across in the light of showing my true love and appreciation for these artists and respecting what HARD WORK looks like.
Phonte has actually come out with a new Foreign Exchange album “Leave It All Behind” with Nicolay. You would’ve had to been under a rock to not have noticed it’s blowing up in the hip hop scene. J The two of them along with the band are touring in a city near you. They’ll be running through B-more, NYC,
Go to www.myspace.com/phontigallo to get more info on what’s popping with them. You can also catch the latest edition to Gordon Gartrell Radio which Phonte's podcast on the music traveling through his everyday life and his opinions on what's poppin off everyday news. His twist on things is always entertaining. Go listen at www.gordongartrellradio.com.
This week I got down with Pooh to discuss the ins and outs of what a relationship
looks like inside the industry. There is a fine line between networking and getting down with an individual when the world of work gets involved. Pooh gave me an in depth understanding of what a man who’s about his business, looks like, sounds like, and moves like. After this listening to this piece everyone should get an “A” on “Relationships Inside The Industry: 101”.
Rapper Big Pooh also recently brought out his new solo album “Rapper’s Delight” this past September. And you can check out this link to his newly released behind the scenes footage of "The Comeback" video.
***These interviews were done over this past summer so excuse some of the material if it sounds slightly dated. Due to the economic differences that we as a people have endured and rendered we are now priviledged to have cheaper gas and a black president. (Obama endorsed dopeness) Enjoy!***
Pooh's Interview part duex
Phonte's Interview part duex
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
What is the definition of a great music group? Is it their stature of success, their way to move amongst their peers inside this flaccid industry, to sustain growth with Numbers, Sales, Billboard Chart Scans? Or maybe it can be just the way they make you, as the listener feel. What is music if it doesn’t move you? If it doesn’t get to the depth of signature hip hop where a realm of understanding comes in? So in walks Little Brother.
I remember the first time I heard Little Brother. It was in March of 2003, I was actually sitting in an UConn dormitory. An ex of mine whom I had just met was getting me comfortable to the outskirts of NYC and chose to ease me in by playing some music. “Whatever You Say” came on and as it began, I felt a feeling of amazement. I asked “Who’s this?” and he said Little Brother. “Who?” Not sure of who they were I already knew that I was in love.
Quickly after that I was able to find their album, ‘The Listening’ that had that amazing song on it. And I realized it was a group from North Carolina. Oddly surprised, this album seemed well above it’s time inside of what was to come out of the south but I’d take it and roll with it. Little Brother began to get heavy rotation inside anything that delivered sounds to me and thus my fascination begun.
Two emcees on the mic, CHECK, one phat dj on the set, CHECK! Turntables, mics, speakers and sound checks make up the crew now known as Little Brother. Over the years I’ve been privileged enough to see many different renditions of their shows and I’ve always been pleased. This past summer I flew to Tampa to watch one of my closest friends, Dynasty, open up for them. There is where I made the connection to not only interview them but to also interview their DJ. I wanted to get a more in depth look at what makes up the dynamic mixture of a rap group and what dedication looks like.
Get a better understanding of what the industry looks like from Phonte, what relationships look like inside of being an artist from Pooh, and what a struggle to the top looks like from DJ Flash. These men give their perspectives on each area of a life that is forever moving while making names for themselves inside of Hip Hop. Check back each week inside the month of January to see what the group is up to and where they’re going in future dates. Also catch a new piece the exclusive interview with them here at Jwa’s Starz.
***These interviews were done over this past summer so excuse some of the material if it sounds slightly dated. Due to the economic differences that we as a people have endured and rendered we are now priviledged to have cheaper gas and a black president. Enjoy!***
DJ Flash Interview
Check for DJ Flash by going to www.myspace.com/djflashofjmusicgroup
Check for Rapper Big Pooh at www.myspace.com/rapperbigpooh
Check for Phonte at www.myspace.com/phontigallo
I hope everyone enjoys what Little Brother will have to offer you with my interviews in the next couple of weeks. Check back here each week for a new part to the interview and to also to find out what's good in their worlds.