If you are a hip-hop fan, you know that February is J Dilla Month. So in honor of the late and great producer, I offer to you the 15th Anniversary Edition of The Shining LP (Japanese Import). This is one of many posthumous albums that was released after the Detroit producer’s death on Feb. 10, 2006.
The original album, released on August 22, 2006, boasts guest appearances from Busta Rhymes, Common, D’Angelo, Black Thought, MED, Guilty Simpson and fellow producer Madlib.
Two of my favorite tracks on the project is "E=MC2" featuring Common and "So Far to Go" Featurng Common and D’Angelo. I could play those two songs forever.
J Dilla will be sorely missed. But his music will last forever. Take a listen below and enjoy.
Back in June, Nas released his 11th album NASIR, which was produced entirely by Kanye West. There were no visuals accompanying the release, until now.
The good folks at Mass Appeal (of which Nas is a creative partner) and Def Jam dropped a new short film featuring the hip-hop icon performing all of the seven tracks from the album.
Directed by Rohan Blair-Mangat, the 16-minute-long film also features a cameo from Slick Rick who Nas sampled on his anti-police brutality track “Cops Shot the Kid.”
There are a lot of great moments in the film including the “White Label” segment with Nas donning old-school Gucci gear and spitting his bars in front of a vintage Mercedes Benz. The “Adam and Eve” segment gets a spiritual theme with Nas rapping in a church. The Queensbridge neighborhood (Nas’s native hometown) is also the star of this enthralling film as well.
For Stan “the Man” Lee, founder of Marvel Comics, who died today (Nov. 12) at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to family representative (via The Hollywood Reporter ). He was 95.
Born Stanley Martin Lieber on Dec. 28, 1922 in New York, the visionary writer/publisher created iconic comic-book characters such as Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, Black Panther, Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Thor, X-Men, the Avengers, the Defenders, Conan the Barbarian, and so many more. Marvel started in 1939 as Timely Publications, and by the early 1950s the name was changed to Atlas Comics.
The Marvel branding began in 1961 with the launch of the The Fantastic Four and other superhero titles. Along with Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, and many others, Marvel Comics delivered some of the greatest mythological figures of the 20 century through television, books and films. Lee also wrote a monthly comics column, “Stan's Soapbox,” and ending them with his signature catchphrase, “Excelsior!”
"I used to think what I did was not very important," he told the Chicago Tribune in April 2014. "People are building bridges and engaging in medical research, and here I was doing stories about fictional people who do extraordinary, crazy things and wear costumes. But I suppose I have come to realize that entertainment is not easily dismissed."
As a kid growing up in the ‘hood, I would spend half of my allowance money on Marvel comic books. My favorites were the Incredible Hulk, the Avengers, Conan the Barbarian, Thor and the Defenders. Unlike DC Comics, Marvel's superheroes were people I could identify with because they had character flaws and hang-ups. For example, when Bruce Banner gets angry he turned into the Hulk and destroy everything around him. While people saw the Hulk as a menace, he was actually a gentle giant who is simply misunderstood. We all have that David Banner/Hulk "you wouldn't like me when I'm angry"-personality inside all of us.
However, before Lee's death, there have been questions about the vitality of his estate. According to The Daily Beast, Lee appeared to be the victim of "Hollywood charlatans and mountebanks" who are allegedly stealing money from his estate. According to one source close to the situation, “It’s a real fucking mess over there. I think his money will be gone in a few weeks...Stan and [his daughter] J.C. (Joan Celia) Lee are literally being picked apart by vultures."
After news broke of Stan Lee's death, his surviving family members issued a statement thanking fans who sent their well-wishes and condolences. It reads:
"J.C. Lee and all of Stan Lee's friends and colleagues want to thank all of his fans and well-wishers for their kind words and condolences," a family statement read. "Stan was an icon in his field. His fans loved him and his desire to interact with them. He loved his fans and treated them with the same respect and love they gave him."
Stan Lee will be sorely missed, but his imaginative spirit and Marvel Comics Universe will live on forever. 'Nuff said.
Peep the tributes/condolences to Stan Lee via social media below (click the link).
Today (Nov. 9) is a great day in music history - two classic albums that shaped and transcended hip-hop turned 25 years old.
On Nov. 9, 1993, the Wu-Tang Clan and A Tribe Called Quest released their seminal albums, Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers and Midnight Marauders, respectively, on the same day giving rap fans endless hours of head-nodding material.
Both albums offered two different musical compositions in rap. On Enter the Wu-Tang, veteran producer RZA delivered a cacophony of sounds that consisted of concrete-breaking beats and sampled vocals from kung-fu flicks. The album's unpolished production sounded like RZA recorded the project in his basement -- gritty and unfiltered.
Meanwhile, ATCQ had already released two classic albums - People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm (1990) and The Low End Theory (1991), an impressive accomplishment from the iconic group. Unlike Enter the Wu, the production on Midnight Marauders was polished as the rap trio continued their creative fusion of hip-hop and jazz. Lyrically, Q-Tip and the late Phife Dawg delivered inventive rhymes that dealt with their day-in-a-life circumstances growing up in Queens, New York.
Both are unadulterated classics and I'm not going to even entertain a debate on which album is superior, instead, let's enjoy them for what they are - timeless masterpieces.
"We at 25 years, we know we have arrived at our destination. We're grateful for everyone that’s been a part of this,” said RZA about the LP's 25th anniversary (via Billboard ). “When we said 36 Chambers, the word chamber was giving everybody an idea that you will go through different chambers in your life. It's many things that you have to pass through in order to master yourself."
The RZA also revealed that the borough of Staten Island, N.Y. (native hometown to most of the Wu-Tang Clan members) will recognized Nov. 9 as "Wu-Tang Clan Day."
On the internet, they are a slew of tributes and retrospectives on both of these albums. Check out the list below (click the link):
Can we please have a moment of silence for legendary jazz trumpeter Roy Anthony Hargrove.
The 49-year-old musician passed away on Friday night (Nov. 2) in New York. According to NPR, the cause of death was cardiac arrest. Hargrove's longtime manager, Larry Clothier, told NPR that he had been admitted to the hospital for medical issues related to kidney function; he had been on dialysis for many years.
Born in Waco, Texas in 1969, Hargrove was an enormously gifted musician who was discovered by iconic trumpeter Wynton Marsalis while he was still in high school. He would often sit with Marsalis and occasionally play sideman to his band. After high school, Hargrove attended Boston's prestigious Berklee College of Music but left after one year and began his musical career in New York.
Hargrove was a brilliant experimenter in jazz. He was among the first to incorporate elements of hip-hop music into his repertoire back in the early '90s when doing so was often frowned upon by jazz purists. He created the RH Factor, a collective of artists that included like-minded musicians like James Poyser, Jonathan Batiste, and Bernard Wright, among many others. Affiliated members included Steve Coleman and Greg Osby (both of whom are part of the illustrious M-Base Collective).
“I think that music is so spread out,” he explain to veteran journalist/historian Nate Chinen about the RH Factor in 2003 (via JazzTimes). “There’s so many different worlds within music to be explored. Why limit yourself to just one?"
"When I was going to school at Berklee I noticed that there were a lot of cliques that had established themselves. There’s group A, group B, divisions and then subdivisions," he continued. "Because in the funk world you would have the straight-up fusion cats, and then you have cats that play behind straight-up R&B, and then you would have gospel in the middle of that. And in jazz, you would have cats who only played like Bird, bebop. And then the Trane cats. And you would have the progressive guys who were more into original music. So it was wild for me, because I would just go in and out of each one of these. I just never believed in limiting yourself to one way of playing.”
Hargrove's creative Neo-bop sound can be heard on his 1990 debut album Diamond on the Rough and on 1992's The Vibe. These two albums are the precursors to the late Guru's Jazzmatazz series. Greg Osby's debut effort 3-D Lifestyles (1993), Branford Marsalis' Buckshot LeFonque project (1994) and Herbie Hancock's Dis Is Da Drum (1994) are just a few albums that followed in Hargrove's progressive lead.
But Roy Hargrove Presents The RH Factor: Hard Groove project is his visionary take on the jazz, soul and hip-hop fusion. Overall, the album is a meticulous jam session with Hargrove's fluttery horn riffs highlighting the band's infectious live instrumentation. Standout tracks include the jazz-hop-inflicted "Poetry" (featuring Q-Tip and Erykah Badu) and the soulful love ballad "Kwah/Home" (featuring Anthony Hamilton).
Hargrove's musical amalgam wasn't regulated to just hip-hop, he dabbled in different genres of music as well. On his 1994 album Blues 'n Ballads, he incorporated blues to his jazz compositions and on 1995's Parker's Mood, Hargrove teamed up with bassist Christian McBride and pianist Stephen Scott to pay homage to the father of bebop Charlie Parker.
Hargrove also delivered his beautiful trumpeting on other artists' projects. He performed on Common's 2000 album Like Water for Chocolate, as well as on Erykah Badu’s 2000 project Mama’s Gun and her 2003 effort, Worldwide Underground. He also contributed his brass arrangements on both D’Angelo’s revered albums Voodoo and Black Messiah.
Among Hargrove's accolades include two Grammy Awards -- one for Best Jazz Instrumental Album in 2003 for Directions in Music and Best Latin Jazz Performance in 1998 for Habana, his stellar Afro-Cuban album recorded in Havana.
After hearing the sad news of Roy Hargrove's passing, artists such as Questlove, Erykah Badu, Eric Roberson, Anita Baker and many others tweeted their condolences.
You can read some of their tweets below.
The Great Roy Hargrove. He is literally the one man horn section I hear in my head when I think about music. To watch him harmonize with himself stacking nine horn lines on mamouth 10… https://t.co/ytaw0i8RWV
I have no words over the loss of my dear brother of 31 years. We played on a lot of sessions together, traveled a lot of miles together, laughed a lot together, bickered on occasion - and I wouldn’t change our relationship for anything in the world. Bless you, Roy Hargrove.
R.I.P Roy Hargrove, King. Everyone speaks to your incredible artistry which can certainly never be denied but, I learned in watching you that the truly great consider others. You were… https://t.co/JZ1cbQpSoF