Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Nothing Gives Good Music Back to Gettysburg

After my struggle this past summer to find hip-hop friendly venues in Gettysburg, I never thought there would be a place for a hip hop show in my hometown. However, last night I was proven wrong by The Nothing at their "A Little Thanks Given" concert at the Ragged Edge, a coffee shop typically more accustomed to singer-songwriters than DJs and MCs. The Speak Easy has played a few open mics at the Ragged Edge before but we never got a crowd quite as hype as what The Nothing got to see last night.

I was surprised that there even is another hip hop group in Gettysburg when I read Adam Michael's article in The Gettysburg Times but the trio of emcees, Solomen Pade (Kendrick Johnson), Wallypeanuts aka Mar (Jamar Tyler), and Teddy Holmes, along with DJ Doug Shue, thoroughly rocked a standing-room-only crowd on the second floor of the coffee shop.
I had my camera off for the beginning of Mar's introduction to this next song, "There Ain't No Love," and I really regret that because it was best song of the set in my opinion. Essentially, Mar said he was watching Oprah one day and saw her talking about a list of the happiest countries in the world and America was not very high on the list, in fact we did not even break into the top ten. He said that with the amount of wealth and prosperity we have in America, we should have health care for everyone that needs it and education for anyone that wants it.

Mar said he wasn't trying to be negative. Judging from the crowd's response to his song, he had no real reason to worry about ruining the good times. While a lot of political hip hop songs gets panned for being too preachy or angry, I thought Mar's song struck a good tone with an audience that could appreciate the substance of Mar's material. The song's straightforward message energized a crowd that had taken a little extra time to warm up. I think part of this was because the three MCs were on the floor with the audience. I even had to stand on top of a chair to get these videos. While the crowd was mostly still, occasionally bobbing their heads or raising their hands in the air, they were keenly focused on every word from the group.

I think the video really reflects how well their mix turned out. The show, which was supposed to start at 7, was delayed about a half hour for the sake of perfecting the mix. With most hip hop shows, I usually hear someone complain about how bad mixes make it impossible to understand a word the musicians are saying, even some of the best MCs can have bad mixes. When I saw the Wu-Tang Clan at second day in New York for Rock The Bells 2007, the mix was terrible; the instrumentals were too soft and it made the group sound like they were just shouting. But when I saw them at the Trocadero Theatre last year the mix was perfect and they could exhibit their mastery of their craft. Even artists like the Wu can get ruined by a bad mix and The Nothing showed they knew how to run things themselves.

Here's the last two songs from the set:

You can hear songs from The Nothing's latest release, Digital Villains, at their website...
...or you can buy the whole album on Amazon.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Today's Temple Bell Tower Cipher

In case you live under a rock, every Friday Temple students gather at the Bell Tower outside Paley Library to rap, sing, dance, play instruments, or anything else your soul desires. They call it the Freestyle Friday ciphers. These guys are real motivated cats, many are making music all over the place.

With so many people in the cipher, it becomes difficult to track down every MC that comes to the cipher and find out what other music they are producing. The Turbo Times wants to change that... so here's the beginning of an attempt to centralize the work of those musicians.

Verbatum Jones frequently updates his twitter with his music.

Next to Verbatum in the videos is Aime, who's music I still haven't found online yet, but he is featured on a song with Verbatum called "Lazy Afternoon" on Jones' myspace.

Mic Stewart's band GuerillaFunk has been playing gigs around Temple a lot recently. They've been hitting up house parties and shows at Maxis.

DJ B Free posts his beats for others to use on his Facebook page.

There are rappers who frequent the ciphers who aren't in the videos posted here.
A lot of the people missing from the November video are on this video from last March.

EMC Karma hustles his CDs and tickets to concerts to make a living when he's not stuck at work, he's a truly independent musician. Here is some of his music at his myspace.

Lee G and Delon create an interesting duo. Delon mostly makes beats but his surreal half-rap half-poetry style is always a favorite when he makes an appearance. I really regret the fact that I haven't made it to one of Lee G's backyard bashes yet. Anyways, their website is right here.

Faze Two plays guitar in GuerillaFunk and is a truth-telling cipher regular. He's also got a group called the Dead End Kids.
The Alien Architect rocked the second half of the cipher today with a guitar in hand but didn't get any face time for the camera. His music is here.

That's all I've got for now... don't feel offended if I didn't feature you in this article, email me at or contact me any other way you can if you want your music on full display.

Home Taping Is Killing Record Industry Profits

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Foundation Magazine: Laying the Bricks for Hip Hop and Journalism's Future?

In a series of strange occurrences on April Fool's Day 2008, Chris Malo, the editor-in-chief of mixtape magazine Foundation, found himself at the other end of a Lil Wayne rant against mixtapes. After leaving the awkward encounter at the star's Atlanta mansion, Malo knew he had valuable material but he also knew he had to use it wisely.

Although Foundation started as one of the get-rich-quick schemes pitched to Malo by his partner, B. Mack, Malo is more concerned with the editorial side of the magazine than the business end of things. Despite his idealistic approach, Malo had to weigh the business consequences as well as the ethical complications for “pissing off the biggest guy.”

Despite Lil Wayne's hatred for mixtape Djs, he considers himself the Arthur Nobel of mixtapes. His comparison is right in that he detonates the competition by dropping multiple "bombs" of mixtapes and stealing beats from well... everyone. He then honors the people who make mixtapes, except instead of handing out money and peace prizes, he sues them.

“We're concerned about our integrity but we also have a 'fuck you' attitude towards a lot of stuff,” Malo said. Lil Wayne's manager said Wayne was sorry but he still would not grant another interview to Malo. Malo had to consider whether going forward with the material was worth risking access.