Monday, December 31, 2007

Green Sketch "So Long...For Now" out NOW!

T.Q.D and Phingaz = Out Now! Click on the picture to get yours for only $8!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Jay-Z To Step Down As Def Jam President

(Swiped from Billboard)

Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter will step down as Def Jam Records president when his contract expires this year, he and Universal Music Group announced today (Dec. 24). The rapper will continue to record for Roc-A-Fella, the label he co-founded in 1996, which is part of the Universal-distributed Island Def Jam Music Group.

In a statement announcing his departure, Jay-Z acknowledged the artists and executives he had worked with during his three years as label president, including IDJ chairman/CEO Antonio "L.A." Reid.

He added, "It's time for me to take on new challenges. I am pleased to have had the opportunity to build upon the Def Jam legacy, helping to move the company into a new era of artistic success."

Reid stated, "Jay made it clear to us that he feels the time has come to take on different challenges in his life. While we regret his decision to move on, we certainly respect it ... While he will continue to be one of our signature artists, he will nonetheless be missed in this executive capacity."

In an interview earlier this month with Billboard, Jay-Z said any decision about his future with Def Jam would not be "about money." It's really about trying to invest in the future, trying to invest in maybe coming up with a new model. Because going in hard making records with artists and throwing those records into a system that's flawed is not exciting for me."

"It's not the music; people ingest music the same way. It's just that the model of selling CDs has changed," he continued. "So doing things the typical way is not in the best interests of anyone and not exciting for me. My whole thing is, how do we invest in the future? If everyone is committed to doing that, then I'm sure there's a deal to be made."

Monday, December 24, 2007

Jazz pianist Oscar Peterson dies

(swiped from BBC & Pitchfork Media)

Oscar Peterson, the legendary Canadian jazz pianist known for his breathtaking displays of speed and agility, died Sunday, December 23 at his home in Mississauga, Ontario, according to various news sources. He was 82 years old. According to the Associated Press, the cause of death was kidney failure.

Peterson was born in Montreal on August 15, 1925. He grew up in a musical family, and was influenced by Art Tatum and Nat "King" Cole at an early age. While only in high school, he played in a band with trumpeter Maynard Ferguson and performed regularly on Canadian national radio. In 1949, Peterson performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City, launching his international career. He signed to Verve in the early 1950s, and went on to play with such greats as Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, and Charlie Parker. His reputation for velocity and virtuosity grew and grew in the decades that followed, and he attracted a large international following. A 1993 stroke weakened his left hand, but Peterson continued to play for years to come.

Throughout his lifetime, Peterson was given countless honors and awards, including many Grammys. He was given his own stamp in Canada and Austria. He also started blogging in 2000.

Since the news of Peterson's death hit on Christmas Eve, tributes from the jazz world have been pouring in. The Associated Press quoted the following statement from Herbie Hancock: "Oscar Peterson redefined swing for modern jazz pianists for the latter half of the 20th century up until today. I consider him the major influence that formed my roots in jazz piano playing. He mastered the balance between technique, hard blues grooving, and tenderness ... No one will ever be able to take his place."

A message from Peterson's family on his website asks that those seeking to honor the pianist's memory can make donations to World Vision or Christian Children's Fund.

Video: Oscar Peterson Trio: Live in Italy 1961

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bootsy Collins hosting James Brown tribute show

LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - Funk legend William "Bootsy" Collins is staging a tribute concert to his mentor, James Brown, near Cincinnati on Saturday.

Proceeds from the event, at the Madison Theater in Covington, Ky., will go toward the rebuilding of Brown's early recording home, Cincinnati-based King Records, and the eventual launch of a museum. Brown died Christmas Day 2006.

Featured acts include Public Enemy frontman Chuck D, rapper Lil' Boosie, guitarist Buckethead, bassist Freekbass and Brown's most recent band, The Soul Generals. Also on tap: an appearance by members of the JB's, Brown's original backing unit, as well as his longtime MC Danny Ray.

"We didn't want a rock star hoopla kind of thing," said Collins, who started working at King Records when he was 15 and was touring the world with Brown by the time he was 17. "I want to keep the focus on Mr. Brown; I don't want people to forget what he's done. To me, he's like the Martin Luther King Jr. of music."

Collins said the city of Cincinnati has also signaled its support for the museum. He envisions an interactive experience whereby young people can learn about music and instruments, participate in workshops and perform live.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Grammy-winning jazz producer Joel Dorn dies at 65

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Veteran record producer Joel Dorn, who worked with such artists as Roberta Flack, Max Roach and the Neville Brothers, died of a heart attack on Monday in New York. He was 65.

Dorn, a one-time disc-jockey at a Philadelphia jazz radio station, was perhaps best known for his work with Atlantic Records' prestigious jazz stable between 1967 and 1974. Working alongside the label's jazz chief, Nesuhi Ertegun, he brought a pop sensibility to works by musicians such as Roach, Herbie Mann, Les McCann and Eddie Harris, Mose Allison and Rahsaan Roland Kirk.
Dorn once said his two biggest influences were songwriting duo Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, and producer Phil Spector.
"To this day before I go in and make a record, I'll throw on 'Be My Baby' or a Coasters record," he said.
In the pop field, he helped set Bette Midler and Flack on the course to stardom, producing their debut albums. He and Flack won consecutive record of the year Grammys, for "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" (1972) and "Killing Me Softly With His Song" (1973).
He also ventured into rock with the Allman Brothers Band's second release, 1970's "Idlewild South," and Don McLean's 1974 album, "Homeless Brother." (McLean was the inspiration for the songwriters of "Killing Me Softly...")
Dorn "bridged the worlds of jazz and pop with enormous skill and grace, never compromising the integrity of his artists and their music," said Edgar Bronfman, Jr., the chairman and chief executive of Atlantic's Warner Music Group Inc parent.
Dorn left Atlantic in 1974, and worked for other labels' acts, such as Leon Redbone, Lou Rawls and the Neville Brothers. His collaboration with the latter spawned their 1981 breakthrough "Fiyo on the Bayou."
In his later years, he formed his own labels, and oversaw reissues of classic jazz albums for Columbia Records, Rhino Records and GRP Records. At the time of his death, he was a partner in the roots label Hyena Records, and was working on a five-disc tribute to his mentor, "Homage A Nesuhi." He is survived by three sons.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ike Turner Dead at 76

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Rock 'n' roll pioneer Ike Turner, who rose to fame in the 1950s and became a star performing with his ex-wife Tina Turner, has died at age 76, said an official with the performer's management company.

"Ike Turner passed away this morning. He was at his home," in San Marcos, California, outside San Diego, said Scott Hanover of Thrill Entertainment.

Hanover did not have any further information about the cause of death.

Turner helped pioneer rock 'n' roll in 1951 when his band The Kings of Rhythm recorded the song "Rocket 88," a tune widely regarded as the first record in the nascent genre. The Chess Records release was credited to the band's saxophone player Jackie Brenston "and his Delta Cats."

As a guitarist and pianist, Turner played with the likes of B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon in the 1950s. He married Annie Mae Bullock in 1958, she changed her name to Tina, and they enjoyed such hits as "River Deep, Mountain High," "Proud Mary" and "Nutbush City Limits."

The pair won a Grammy in 1972 for "Proud Mary," and earlier this year Ike Turner was awarded again with the record industry's top honor for his traditional blues album, "Risin' with the Blues."

After his and Tina Turner's 1976 divorce, Ike Turner was crippled by a cocaine addiction and was widely vilified in the mid-1980s as Tina Turner mounted a huge comeback and said she had suffered abuse and humiliation at his hand.

The Turners were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Various Artists - Background Noise Crew Sampler, Vol. 1

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Friday, December 07, 2007

UGK's Bun B Remembers Pimp C: 'It Just Wasn't In Him To Not Say What He Felt'

(Swiped from MTVNews)

Two years ago, the "Free Pimp C" movement hit its zenith. Incarcerated for aggravated assault, Pimp C was absent from the Houston hip-hop scene just as the next generation of rappers — Paul Wall, Mike Jones, Slim Thug, Chamillionaire — was about to make its mark nationally.

The young ones knew the score: They owed much of any success they might achieve — and, more transparently, their sound — to Chad Butler, a.k.a. Pimp C, and they waved the flag emphatically in his honor. The "Free Pimp C" movement was strong enough to cut across the terse, territorial friction between North Houston and South Houston; it was powerful enough to cool long-standing beefs between locals; it united a fractured scene on the verge.

No one kept that movement alive more than Pimp C's partner in the group UGK, Bun B. The underlying sentiment for his tireless efforts was "hope," Bun B told us when we met with him in the spring of 2005 for "My Block: Houston." Bun was on a mission, dropping his partner's name in every rhyme, wearing "Free Pimp C" gear at every opportunity, talking about the day his partner would be released from prison and UGK would be reunited — and the Houston scene would be whole again. Just last summer, the group scored its first #1 album and, just today, Bun learned that "Int'l Players Anthem" has been nominated for a Grammy.

There is no hope for another day now, though, with Pimp C's passing on Tuesday. Houston, the entire Dirty South and all of hip-hop has lost an icon. But Bun B has lost a brother. The two friends were not the same men in adulthood that they were when they started UGK as teenagers in 1987, but there was a fundamental, intimate bond that existed beyond hip-hop and the music industry: They were, in essence, family, and now Bun has lost the person that's been closest to him for the longest. By his own admission, he will never be the same person again.

As reactions continue to pour in from the hip-hop community, in one of his first interviews since Pimp C's death, Bun B talked with us in an emotional, heartfelt interview about the loss of his brother, remembering Pimp C as a passionate artist and an even stronger man. Here's what he had to say ...

MTV: You've said that rapping was a hobby at first and not your dream, but that music was something Pimp cared about deeply. Can you tell us how important music was to Pimp?

Bun B: Pimp was very respectful of the [musicians] that came before him. R&B, jazz, different blues and stuff; he was a big Wes Montgomery fan, he was a big [John] Coltrane fan, he was a George Benson fan. He was really respectful of music in that sense and he was respectful of the fact that he knew the opinions and the way that our elders looked at our music at the time; this was in our earliest inception. His father was a musician and was highly critical of rap itself — not him but rap in general, the old saying that it's a bunch of noise.

Above all things, he wanted to show the musical inclinations of UGK — we didn't just sample the music. Pimp worked very hard to get live musicians to play music and record live organ sounds. And reaching out to Leo Nocentelli from [New Orleans funk legends] the Meters and saying, "I want this sound on the guitar and nobody can really play this sound on the guitar but this man," and going to the man and asking him, would he do it? And imagine one of the Meters — instead of sampling them, having one of the guys there playing the riff for you. That was his commitment. And because of [Pimp's] love ... that was the reason a person like that would consider recording with some 20-year-old kids from Port Arthur, Texas. And he was extremely, extremely passionate about showing that. If nothing else, UGK's music was at its very least musical. It had a full, rich sound. And that's kind of what separated our music from a lot of people, it had that live instrumentation.

MTV: When I talked to Slim Thug this week, he compared Pimp to Lil Jon in terms of laying the foundation for Texas' sound like Jon did for Atlanta. But our own Sway made the comparison of Pimp and Jam Master Jay, as far as the swagger behind the group.

Bun B: I kind of understand where you draw the distinction from. And believe me, that is extremely high company to be held next to, and I appreciate the compliment. I'm sure [Pimp] does too. I sit and I think about what you're saying right now and there really is no one to compare him to, for me. And I guess that's how close I am to the situation in general. Keep in mind, his favorite rapper was Run. I totally understand the Jam Master Jay-swagger reference. If you really look at it, Bun B and Pimp C — Run-DMC. We definitely derived a lot from not only them, but our peers: the Whodinis and the EPMDs and the Geto Boys. We learned a lot from all of those people. His swagger, though, I have to say, it was definitely influenced by the Big Daddy Kanes and the Run-DMCs, and even the Steady Bs and Cool Cs of the world. We listened to it all: Eazy and Cube and Too Short and all these people. At the end of the day, when it's all summed up, [though,] he was uniquely Pimp.

MTV: Pimp was recently in the news for some outspoken comments he made about Atlanta not really being "the South," and some unflattering comments about his peers. But instead of these comments painting him in a negative light, in ways they humanized him as a real person, not just a rapper.

Bun B: He was passionate. He wanted to be as honest with people as he could — almost to a fault, you know? And it's just ... it's kind of hard to really put a lot of that into words, the kind of man he was. But everything he loved — everyone he loved — he loved hard and embraced it fully. He was very passionate if he felt a certain way about things; he couldn't hold it in, he couldn't filter himself, he couldn't be politically correct. It just wasn't in him to not say what he felt. Whether he felt he was right or wrong at the time, he spoke from his heart.

He said a lot of things over the years to a lot of different people about a lot of subjects. And at the end of the day, even if you didn't agree with him, you have to give him credit and respect the fact he was willing to stand by what he said. So many people can be wishy-washy about statements and what they do, and very few give a damn about anything anymore. You know what I'm saying? And he really cared about everything and everyone, and just wanted everyone to be their best. He wanted rap to be the best. He wanted Southern hip-hop to be the best. He wanted everyone involved to be the best. He never looked down on anybody. He never made anybody feel small. He tried to uplift, especially. Sometimes that honesty can come across the wrong way, and sometimes it can be taken the wrong way, and sometimes people don't want to hear it. And that's why, even though if I [didn't agree with] how he felt, I couldn't tell him to not speak from his heart. There's a lot of things that we didn't agree on. There's a lot of opinions I had on things that he didn't agree on, but he was down with me. It was documented he didn't want to do [the Jay-Z collaboration] "Big Pimpin'," but he rolled with me on that. And that's just the relationship we had. That's just the kind of person that he was. He didn't know how to love a little; he didn't know how to care a little.

MTV: He didn't want to do "Big Pimpin'," but with "Int'l Players Anthem," he was behind that one and ...

Bun B: Yeah, I initially didn't want to do it. But [that song], the way you think of it, it's not the one that we set out to create; it ain't the one that you hear now. It went through a series of changes. That was a song that he heard on Project Pat's album and was like, "Yo, I really want to rap to that." And I was like, "Why would you want to rap to a beat that someone already rapped to?" He was like, "Because it's jamming, the record label didn't really promote it, and people didn't really hear that beat. DJ Paul and them made such a great beat, Pat went off on it, nobody got to hear that track! It's too jamming to just let go away like that, we need to bring it back." We have different moments where there's different songs that he wants to do that I feel like I don't want to do or feel like we don't need to do. But I trusted his judgment and at the same time he trusted mine.

MTV: UGK were in pursuit of recognition for so long and it got to the point where the group's influence was overwhelmingly recognized. And for Pimp, he was in jail when the recognition began to enter its heights, but the last two years for him were the fruition of that journey. It's almost as if everything came full circle.

Bun B: I just got a call about a few hours ago that we got a Grammy nomination. Me and my VP from Jive [Records] were talking about this, because we been on this label for 15 years. We've known these people longer than we've known a lot of people in our lives. And he can always remember Pimp telling him, "We going to the Grammys," and them looking at this little kid from Port Arthur like he's crazy: "He may make some good music and sell a few records, but what they do? That kind of stuff doesn't go to the Grammys." And 15 years later, a song I told him we shouldn't do and he was adamant about it — and he got his Grammy nomination just like he always wanted. I'm so happy for him. I'm so proud of him. Because he did it exactly like he wanted to do it: on his terms. We had a nomination before with Jay-Z — and we were very blessed and honored for that. But that was Jay featuring us — this one was us. Not taking anything away from Outkast, because that definitely comes into play. But at the same time, us putting Outkast on the record was his vision — seeing things a little further — and God putting together a plan for us. [He pauses.] I'm really happy for him. I know he just popped a bottle! Because in all honestly, this is what he wanted [to win a Grammy]. He's gonna put a Grammy on his mama's shelf. He's gonna put a Grammy on his mama's shelf, man. [He pauses again.]

MTV: How important has the fan support been for you and Pimp's family?

Bun B: I know I'm not alone in my grief and my pain. And it's not just his family and closest friends — there was a lot of people who loved him, there was a lot of people that were hurt before, when he went to prison, and they carried us so far and held us up for so long. They brought us to where we are right now. I know they're hurting right now. I feel their pain, I hear their prayers, I hear them on the radio. And I thank them and I love them, and I just want them to know Pimp loved them too. There's nothing more that Pimp loved more beside his family and children than his fans. He appreciated them so dearly. And he knew what it meant because of the way he loved music, and the way he loved different people and to be admired like that.

I just thank the fans for not being afraid to call in and say how much they loved him. Because his family and friends and myself included, we all need to hear that, and it's good to know that. I'm not alone right now. It's really good to know that, and I thank them for it. And I love them and he loved them, too.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Kanye West and Amy Winehouse lead Grammy nominees

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Rap star Kanye West scored a leading eight nominations for the 50th annual Grammy Awards, the music industry's highest honors, organizers said on Thursday.

British pop/soul singer Amy Winehouse, whose promising career has been sidelined by drug and alcohol problems, followed with six Grammy bids.

Five acts received five nominations each -- rock band the Foo Fighters, rapper Jay-Z, hip-hop producer Timbaland, pop singer Justin Timberlake, and R&B singer T-Pain.

Winehouse, 24, was nominated in all four of the top categories: record of the year, album of the year, song of the year (a songwriter's award), and best new artist.

Her second disc, "Back to Black," will compete for album of the year with West's "Graduation," the Foo Fighters' "Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace," country singer Vince Gill's "These Days," and jazz pianist Herbie Hancock's "River: The Joni Letters."

Winehouse's autobiographical single "Rehab" will vie for record of the year with the Foo Fighters' "The Pretender," Timberlake's "What Goes Around ... Comes Around," and tracks from two R&B singers -- Beyonce's "Irreplaceable" and Rihanna's Umbrella," featuring Jay-Z.
"Rehab" and "Umbrella" were nominated for song of the year, alongside country star Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats," pop band Plain White T's "Hey There Delilah," and singer/songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae's "Like a Star."

The field for best new artist is dominated by women: Winehouse, Canadian singer/songwriter Feist, country singer Taylor Swift, R&B singer Ledisi, and the female-fronted rock band Paramore.

West's categories were mostly in the rap field, including nominations for best rap album ("Graduation") and two entries for best rap song ("Can't Tell Me Nothing" and "Good Life").

Selected List of Grammy Nominations

Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal · Bon Jovi - "(You Want To) Make a Memory" · Daughtry - "Home" · Maroon 5 - "Makes Me Wonder" · Plain White T's - "Hey There Delilah" · U2 - "Window in the Skies"

Best Hard Rock Performance · Evanescence - "Sweet Sacrifice" · Foo Fighters - "The Pretender" · Ozzy Osbourne - "I Don't Wanna Stop" · Queens of the Stone Age - "Sick, Sick, Sick" · Tool - "The Pot"

Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal · Daughtry - "It's Not Over" · Green Day - "Working Class Hero" · Nickelback - "If Everyone Cared" · U2 - "Instant Karma" · The White Stripes - "Icky Thump"

Best Metal Performance · As I Lay Dying - "Nothing Left" · King Diamond - "Never Ending Hill" · Machine Head - "Aesthetics of Hate" · Shadows Fall - "Redemption" · Slayer - "Final Six"

Best Rock Song · Lucinda Williams - "Come On" · The White Stripes - "Icky Thump" · Daughtry - "It's Not Over" · Foo Fighters - "The Pretender" · Bruce Springsteen - "Radio Nowhere"

Best Rock Album · Daughtry - Daughtry · John Fogerty - Revival · Foo Fighters - Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace · Bruce Springsteen - Magic · Wilco - Sky Blue Sky

Best Pop Vocal Album · Bon Jovi - Lost Highway · Feist - The Reminder · Maroon 5 - It Won't Be Soon Before Long · Paul McCartney - Memory Almost Full · Amy Winehouse - Back to Black

Best Female R&B Vocal Performance · Mary J. Blige - "Just Fine" · Fantasia - "When I See U" · Alicia Keys - "No One" · Chrisette Michele - "If I Have My Way" · Jill Scott - "Hate on Me"

Best Male R&B Vocal Performance · Raheem DeVaughn - "Woman" · Musiq Soulchild - "B.U.D.D.Y." · Ne-Yo - "Because of You" · Prince - "Future Baby Mama" · Tank - "Please Don't Go"

Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals · R. Kelly (featuring Usher) - "Same Girl" · Chaka Khan (featuring Mary J. Blige) - "Disrespectful" · Rihanna (featuring Ne-Yo) - "Hate That I Love You" · Angie Stone (featuring Betty Wright) - "Baby" · T-Pain (featuring Akon) - "Bartender"

Best R&B Song · India.Arie - "Beautiful Flower" · Rihanna (featuring Ne-Yo) - "Hate That I Love You" · Alicia Keys - "No One" · Musiq Soulchild - "Teachme" · Fantasia - "When I See U"
Best Contemporary R&B Album · Akon - Konvicted · Keyshia Cole - Just Like You · Fantasia - Fantasia · Emily King - East Side Story · Ne-Yo - Because of You

Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group · Common (featuring Kanye West) - "Southside" · Fat Joe (featuring Lil Wayne) - "Make It Rain" · Shop Boyz - "Party Like a Rockstar" · UGK (featuring Outkast) - "Int'l Players Anthem (I Choose You)" · Kanye West, Nas and KRS-One - "Better Than I've Ever Been"

Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package · My Chemical Romance - The Black Parade · Panic! at the Disco - A Fever You Can't Sweat Out · The White Stripes - Icky Thump · H.I.M. - Venus Doom · V/A - What It Is!: Funky Soul and Rare Grooves (1967-1977)

Producer of the Year, Non-Classical · Howard Benson · Joe Chiccarelli · Mike Elizondo · Mark Ronson · Timbaland

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Outkast's Big Boi, Swizz Beatz, Slim Thug Remember 'Real Honorable, Real Cool, Really Respected' Pimp C

(Swiped from MTVNews)

When your first name is Pimp, obviously you are a bold, bold man. But aside from his endearingly brash appeal, Pimp C was somebody who his friends and industry counterparts describe as genuine, big-hearted and funny.

Pimp C (real name: Chad Butler) was found dead Tuesday in his Los Angeles hotel room. As half of UGK, named one of MTV News' Greatest Hip-Hop Groups of All Time, Pimp's influence was far-reaching, both personally and professionally.

"He was one of the funniest guys I ever met," Swizz Beatz, who worked on UGK's most-recent LP, Underground Kingz, said Tuesday night. "His character had me on the floor the whole time. I thought I was the only person in this industry who had some humor, not trying to act like a killer all the time. ... It's sad he went out. It's sad for hip-hop."

"You kept it trill way before I had a deal," Lil' Flip raps in a Pimp C tribute song, "RIP Pimp C," released Wednesday morning (December 5). "I can't believe we lost you and [Big] Moe the same year/ We miss you, homie/ We got your back though."

Pimp wasn't just a person his peers looked up to professionally; many also considered themselves fortunate to become friends with him.

"My initial reaction was disbelief," Slim Thug said Wednesday. "I just talked to him the other day. Me and Pimp were cool, for real. I always talk to him and Bun B on the regular. He always reached out to me and made it be known, 'I got love for Slim Thug,' in interviews he did and everything. He always showed me a whole lot of love. So that's why it hurt to see a good dude like that go.

"I remember soon as he got out of jail, I went to his video shoot," Slim added. "And just approaching him like, 'What's up? I'm Slim Thug.' And he was like, 'Man, I already know about you. I got love for you, and I respect what you doing. Here goes my number. Call me if you need anything.' I still got his card. Man ... I just want to send my condolences out. I'm just sitting here seeing this happen and wishing Pimp would just wake up."

"He was cool as hell," said Outkast's Big Boi, who was noticeably distraught when he spoke of his friend and "Int'l Players Anthem" co-star during a Tuesday phone call. "He was real laid-back, down-to-earth. We would talk from time to time. We hung out at a couple of clubs a couple of times. He was the real thing. He wasn't putting on a front or acting out a character: That was really him. Real good dude. So much fun and charisma.

"Once [Outkast] got in the game, we recorded a couple of tracks with each other," Big added. "We kicked it. Pimp C was living in Atlanta. ... He came to the house when we had our little parties. He's just my dog. Real honorable, real cool, really respected."

Big said being around Pimp and Bun B was definitely like being around family — his longtime musical clique, the Dungeon Family. "It's like having a crew," Big said of working with UGK. "They're like an extended part of our Dungeon Family. They were real close with [Big] Gipp and Rico [Wade] and pretty much everybody down with us all the way down. When the studio came, it was time to bomb on the tracks and make hits. It was like having Goodie Mob in the room, you know?"

Like many hip-hop fans, especially in the South, Big and Andre 3000 were influenced by the Underground Kingz at a very early age. "We had UGK tapes; we would listen to them on the way to high school," Big Boi said. "[We listened to] them and 8Ball and MJG. They were two of the groups we looked up to when we was coming up.

"It was the lyricism, man," Big added about what attracted him to UGK. "They were so real and blunt and honest with it. They said what they wanted to say. They were from Port Arthur, Texas, and represented that and told you what they went through. People have to realize the legacy of Pimp C is gonna live through the music. The boy got a hellafied catalog."

A lot of the classic songs in that catalog were produced by Pimp. "Dope," Big said of Pimp's beats. "Some of the most funkiest, vintage, country rap tunes you ever heard. If you go back and get the CDs and read the credits, you'll see some of your favorites were produced by Pimp C, as well as him and Bun B together. His talent went a long way as an MC and as a producer.

"A lot of people don't know that he made damn near all the beats on the old UGK albums," Big Boi continued. "He had a whole other sound. He gave Texas its sound. He was our Lil Jon, when it comes to a sound. You hear Jon and you know ATL, crunk music. Well, Pimp gave us our own sound out here, with what him and Bun were doing with UGK. He was cold with it. He was a genius at what he did with that."

The UGK legacy grew by leaps and bounds in 2007. The legends were finally able to capitalize on years of adulation with their first #1 album, Underground Kingz, and their biggest single, "Int'l Players Anthem."

"I think that [2007] was the rebirth of UGK," Swizz Beatz said. "They came with a fresh sound, got a new audience, stepped up their lyrical, reached out to a lot of people like myself and Outkast, brought in another side of UGK that was embracing the industry and showed everybody was rocking with them. It was amazing. And the album was good music."

"Bun B stayed down with him 300 percent [while Pimp was in jail]," Big Boi said. "He kept the UGK name and the Pimp C name alive. When Pimp got out, them boys reconvened and put the album together like [Pimp] ain't miss a day. It's a shame to see it go down how it went, now especially with them doing what they doing. It's a sad situation."

Pimp's mother, Weslyn "Wes" Monroe, told Port Arthur's KFDM News, "It's a terrible loss to the industry."

"What a nut he was," she added with a light smile. "C loved this community. He didn't leave, even when he came home [from jail], he chose to live here. ... So we need a tremendous support from the community."

UGK's Pimp C: An Underground Legend Who Defied The Mainstream

(Swiped from MTVNews)
'I didn't want to do it,' MC told MTV News in 2005 about 'Big Pimpin',' the duo's landmark collaboration with Jay-Z.
Pimp C, who was found on dead Tuesday (December 4), and his loyal UGK partner Bun B reached their highest peak in 2007 as far as mainstream love was concerned. The Port Arthur, Texas, natives' latest album, Underground Kingz, debuted at #1 on the Billboard albums chart, they were voted into the top 10 of MTV News' Greatest Hip-Hop Groups of All Time, and their single "International Players Anthem" was easily their most successful song. It was the culmination, and you could say coronation, of years of respect from their peers and the press for gritty verses and enduring opuses.
Pimp (real name: Chad Butler), who produced much of the group's catalog, was the eye-catcher of the duo because of his flashy ways. Minks, diamonds, grills and Bentleys were the minimum for him. But despite all of their influence, respect and success, UGK rose up from the underground and often resisted mainstream compromise.
"We dropped [Too Hard to Swallow, the group's major-label debut] on February 21, 1992, and it sold, like, 40,000 copies in two and a half months, mostly in the Texas region," Bun B told MTV News in a 2005 interview about his group's origins. "Lake Charles, Louisiana; Jackson, Mississippi; places in Texas — those were primarily the first cities to support us. Because we were small-town cats, we spoke from a small-town mentality, and a lot of the small-town people felt that and latched onto it immediately."
"Pocket Full of Stones" was the overwhelming crowd favorite from the release. "Everybody in my family was clockin' loot," Pimp rapped. "Sold my Cadillac and bought a Lexus Sports Coupe/ I got a house on the hill, got a boat on the lake."
During the next half-decade, UGK would garner a reputation as one of the most sonically reliable acts in rap, with back-to-back classics: 1994's Super Tight and 1996's Ridin Dirty. While multiplatinum plaques evaded them, UGK were heralded in the streets as if their albums were diamond-certified.
Pimp and Bun, friends for most of their lives, were not just Southern superheroes or ghetto superstars — the absence of artifice in their music and the integrity in their voices inspired the new generation of MCs that we hear today. Nearly every artist from the South will say they have been influenced by UGK.
"You know how Jay-Z is to New York? UGK was Jay-Z to us," David Banner told MTV News in 2005. "Pimp C by far is one of the tightest producers ever."
And while down-bottom heavyweights such as Banner and Lil Wayne might say UGK laid the foundation for the South, Pimp and Bun's reach extended far beyond any one region. Jay-Z loved the group's grit so much that he asked UGK to appear on one of his biggest-ever singles, 1999's "Big Pimpin'." Pimp C was hesitant at first.
"It sounded like a pop record to me," Pimp told MTV News' Sway during a prison visit in 2005. "I didn't want to do it. It scared me, because I didn't know how people was going to take us going in that direction. But I remember Jay telling me, 'Look, family: It's going to be the biggest record of your career. If you don't do it for yourself, just do it for me.' That was good enough for me, so I jumped on it."
Superstardom eluded Pimp and Bun because they weren't able to capitalize on their momentum. Feuding with their label, Jive, led to them not dropping another album until 2001, long after "Big Pimpin' " had made its big splash.
A year later, UGK's most lengthy hiatus began when Pimp was sentenced to eight years in jail for aggravated assault. With Pimp incarcerated, Bun B proudly held his team's banner by igniting the "Free Pimp C" movement in Houston with hats, T-shirts and shout-outs conveying that message. While Bun flourished as a solo act with a myriad of guest appearances, underground freestyles and his acclaimed LP, Trill, neither he nor the fans doubted that UGK would ride again.
The ever-flamboyant Pimp was released from prison in December 2005 and made his impact felt almost immediately. Artists such as Ludacris, Chamillionaire, Scarface and Gucci Mane all called on him for guest verses. His latest solo album, Pimpulation, came out in July 2006 (The Sweet James Jones Story was released in 2005 while Pimp was incarcerated). Pimp also introduced the combination of Lil' Boosie and Webbie, who have had a string of big street bangers such as "Wipe Me Down."
Recently, C caught some controversy because of his forceful comments on topics such as drug rap, Atlanta, the South itself and New York rap, but his O.G. love remained intact. His death is obviously a shock, and most of the people MTV News reached out to on Tuesday to speak about UGK's legacy were too distraught to comment. He's definitely another hip-hop legend gone too soon. Pimp C was only 33.
The "C" in Pimp's name stood for his real name, Chad. He and fellow Port Arthur, Texas, native Bun B — real name: Bernard Freeman — met in high school. Pimp, whose rap alias was Sweet Jones, loved music from an early age, and the influence of his trumpet-playing father (who played with soul legend Solomon Burke) had a profound influence on the music he went on to make. The sounds he heard as a child, which ranged from Motown to Bobby "Blue" Bland, served as muses for Pimp's beats and rhymes — influences that will be heard in hip-hop forever.
Head here for an in-depth feature on UGK from 2005.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

RIP Pimp C of UGK (1974-2007)

(Swiped from MTVNews)

Pimp C of the long-running Texas hip-hop group UGK was found dead Tuesday (December 4) in a Los Angeles hotel room. He was 33.

Few details were available at press time, but according to TMZ, the rapper's body was found at the Mondrian Hotel Tuesday morning after the Los Angeles County Fire Department responded to a 911 call. The MC (real name: Chad Butler), was reportedly dead when officers arrived on the scene.

A press release issued on behalf of his family Tuesday reads as follows:

"It is with great regret that I must confirm that Chad Butler, a.k.a. Pimp C, one half of the legendary UGK, was in fact discovered dead this morning.

"Manager Rick Martin is asking that everyone please respect his family and those close to him at this time and refrain from rumors and innuendo.

A formal statement will be released later this afternoon. Thank you all for understanding."

Inquiries made to the West Hollywood Police Department and the Mondrian Hotel by MTV News were inconclusive at press time; a police spokesperson said the body has not been officially identified.

Based in Port Arthur, Texas, UGK — Pimp C and Bun B — formed in the late 1980s and released their first album, Too Hard To Swallow, in 1992. While the group long enjoyed a strong underground following, Pimp C was perhaps best known in recent years for the "Free Pimp C" campaign launched by Bun B. Butler was sentenced to eight years in prison in 2002 for failure to comply with probation restrictions following a conviction for aggravated assault, but was released late in 2005..

In the wake of his imprisonment, Bun B. brought greater fame to the group as scores of hip-hop fans donned "Free Pimp C" T-shirts at shows and shouted the refrain in call-and-respond chants lead by Bun B.

The buzz helped the group's comeback LP, UGK: Underground Kingz, debut at #1 on the Billboard charts upon its release in August. The album spawned the hit single "International Players Anthem," the video of which featured an all-star cast including OutKast, Three 6 Mafia and others.

Early this year, UGK was voted the #10 Greatest Hip-Hop Group of All Time in an MTV News feature.

UGK entered the mainstream in 1999 after collaborating with Jay-Z on the single "Big Pimpin' " from the Brooklyn rapper's Vol 3: Life and Times of S. Carter. Pimp C said the song, UGK's most mainstream track, was a collaboration he wasn't entirely fond of at first, as he felt the track was too soft for his group's image.

MTV News visited the rapper in prison and spoke with him regarding his tribulations while being incarcerated. Upon his release from prison, Pimp C became an outspoken critic of hip-hop glamorization of jail.

"It's not a party. It's not fun," Pimp said. "Jail affected my whole family. My family got locked up. My group got locked up. I lost when I went to prison. That's something to be ashamed of, and that's not a badge of honor. My youngest son was 8 years old when I went in. I came back and he's a teenager. I can't get them years back."

Monday, December 03, 2007

Nas Exclusive: MC Reveals Details, Song Titles From Controversial Upcoming LP

Rapper unleashes even more strong words, but emphasizes that album is 'not an attack on any race.'

(Swiped From MTVNews)

If you thought Nas was being controversial with an album titled Nigger, wait until you hear some of the song titles he has for the project. The MC reached out to MTV News earlier this week to reveal a bit more about the work-in-progress.
"I have a song called 'The Fear,' " he said. "The full title of the record is 'The Fear of the Black Man's D---.' That's some sh-- you can get comedy [from], or you can get some seriousness from it when you talk about the barbaric castrations that happened in our past — which is very serious, nothing to laugh at."
Nas also said that despite the serious name of his project — which has already set off a firestorm of controversy — the LP will be balanced, and he emphasized that he is not singling out any one race.
"It's not an attack on white people at all," he promised, regarding the record's content. "It's knowledge; it's understanding for all people. It's not an attack on any race."
Nas clarified that he will be combating a myriad of racial slurs, not just the one after which he named his album.
"It's about the attacks that have happened to blacks, whites, all ethnicities," he continued. " 'Mick' niggers, 'guinea' niggers, 'kike' niggers. I have a song called 'You a Nigger Too.' "
"It's all over the place," he added. "Balance is so important because there's a fun level to the [album] too. There's an attractive, sexy, aspect to it; a stylish aspect, a flashy aspect. It takes negatives and makes them good."
While Nas had originally hoped to release the album next month, rather than rush the project, he decided to take his time and rescheduled the album's drop date for February: Black History Month.
"Just to get the sh-- all the way right," Nas said of what caused the delay. "I was still working and it was a few weeks away from a release date. It was impossible, the timing was off. I was running into the holidays. I'm always coming out in December so I guess I was used to it, but I had to force myself out of that. I couldn't force the album out if it wasn't done."
The album's production is almost over, however, and Nas said Jermaine Dupri and Diddy will be helping him to close out.
"It's in the developmental stages," he said of the tracks Diddy is bringing to the table. "The potential could go anywhere. I'm writing a lot of sh-- down, and it just sounds crazy. The direction is totally right. Sometimes when you sit down and write, you don't know how it will go. But this is totally right."
Thus far, Salaam Remi, Stargate and DJ Toomp are the most notable names who have delivered beats to Nas.
"DJ Toomp is a humble cat," he said of the Atlanta producer who has earned his biggest credits working with T.I. and more recently Jay-Z. "He has talent way beyond his years. He's got every style you need: rock joints, R&B joints. I don't wanna give it all away, but he's the type of dude that can go anywhere. Toomp is my man, he's got knowledge and that's important when you're working on your umpteenth album. It means something.
"Working with this music, if you don't have no knowledge of self, I can't work with you," he continued. "You have to have some knowledge of who we are. You can't just go in there and throw on a beat like, 'Here's a hot beat.' That don't mean anything. I need a producer. All the tracks were made for this record — you can feel the passion in the beat-making. It's time to build, '08, this the movement we on."
Nas said that no one he reached out to was reluctant to work with him on this project, and said he has not been surprised by the support he's gotten from his peers, despite the controversy surrounding his choice of album names.
"They get it," he said of supporters such as Alicia Keys, Method Man, Russell Simmons, as well as Island Def Jam Music Group Chairman Antonio "L.A." Reid. "We know what time it is. This [album] is a small thing. [Making music] is what I do, so this is part of the way I fight. But people all know what we been going up against this year and the year before and the year before. I ain't saying nothing that's foreign to them."

Lupe Fiasco Talks The Cool, Cheeseburgers, Retirement

(Swiped from Pitchfork Media)

Lupe Fiasco's got a mind that runs a mile a minute, and a mouth that can keep up with it. The sharp-tongued Chicago MC will follow-up last year's well-received Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor with Lupe Fiasco's The Cool, due December 18 from 1st & 15th/Atlantic. We phoned Lupe and did our best to keep up as he talked about the character-based concept behind The Cool, the album's darker hues, the infamous cheeseburger track, radio and comic book spin-offs, Child Rebel Soldiers, Cornel West, and his plans to "retire" after his third album.

There's a lot going on on The Cool, but the basic idea revolves around three previously mentioned characters-- what Lupe calls his "three evil angels"-- depicted in symbol form on the record's cryptogram cover. The first character, the Cool, is a zombie hustler of sorts based on the Food & Liquor song of the same name.

"I expand on the story," Lupe explained. "I introduce two other characters, the Game and the Streets. The Streets is a female. She's like the action personification of the streets, the street life, the call of the streets. The Game is the same way. The Game is the personification of the game. The pimp's game, the hustler's game, the con man's game, whatever."

He continued: "Then they've got supernatural characteristics. Like the Cool, his right hand is rotted away. The only thing that rotted away was his right hand. It represents the rotting away of his righteousness, of his good. And the Streets and the Cool kind of have a love affair going on. So she's represented by this locket. And the locket has a key and it's on fire. And as a gift to the Cool on his rise to fame, she gave him the key. And the key represents the key to the Streets. So she wears a locket around her neck at all times.

"And the way the story goes, she has given that key to tons of people throughout time. Al Capone, Alexander the Great, whatever. She's giving them the key to the Streets. Fame and fortune-- but also the prices.

"The Game, he's represented by a stripped-down skull, a skull with dice in his eyes and smoke coming out of his mouth. The billowing smoke is actually crack smoke."

"It's not a full concept album; it's more spread over like five [tracks], really abstractly."

It's also apparently going to spawn a franchise. According to Fiasco, there are plans afoot to spin The Cool into a horror-themed radio program, complete with Vincent Price-inspired voice-overs. "To really tell it," says Lupe. "Because I think it would be corny to try to be spooky on a hip-hop record. We're actually going to tell it as it is, like a horror psycho-thriller kind of situation."

Indeed, folks will notice a less-than-sunny vibe to the new disc on the whole. "This album was influenced more from the dark side. It's more because of the loss I experienced at the beginning of the year," Lupe explains, referring to the deaths of several loved ones. "I'm in a dark, melancholy mood. I'm not a happy camper right now."

After the radio show, according to Lupe, "we're going to do a comic book."

To bring his characters to life, Lupe linked up with California-based artist Nathan Cabrera. "He did the album cover, and when you actually see these characters, you're going to flip. Like the Streets has dollar signs in the eyes; they glow when she gets angry. [And the Game is] so vivid and so fucking terrifying, yo. It's crazy."

Then there's the track "Gotta Eat", on which Lupe, yes, personifies a cheeseburger. Turns out the man is not kidding.

"On this album, I wanted to talk about five or six things directly," Lupe explained. "I wanted to talk about the environment-- which I didn't really get a chance to do-- immigration, rape, drug abuse, and health. And it's like, damn, how do you talk about health dope, though? How do you make it cool?"

"[Part of] the inspiration for The Cool actually was Cornel West. The guy was like, 'If you really want to effect social change in the world, you have to make those things which are uncool, cool. You have to, in essence, make it hip to be square.' And it's more about how you deliver those things, how you package those things for people to digest them.

"Dead Prez did it on one of their albums, but they did it directly. It was like 'Yo, you should eat tofu.' It was dope! But it was like, 'Damn, niggas aren't gonna listen to that.'"

So Lupe had a revelation: "I'm gonna make this cheeseburger a fuckin' Tony Soprano mafia boss. His whole goal is to kill the entire world. He's fast food, trying to kill the entire world. It's really Tony Soprano shit.

"But it's basically about how you gotta watch what you eat 'cause this shit will kill you. If you go through the hood, drug abuse is one thing, fathers not being there is another thing, but then there's also the situation about health. We eat a lot of bullshit. There's no Whole Foods, none of this, none of that. There's like fuckin' hot dog stands and Italian beef places and cheeseburgers and pizza puffs and fried food and shit like that. We're destroying it on all angles."

Fiasco doesn't just talk health, however, he lives it. Articles on the MC often note his refusal to drink or smoke, and that stance still holds true for Lupe. "I don't have a genuine interest in it," he explained. "I don't have a genuine curiosity for it. I don't want it."

You'd think a guy would take a lot of flak for sticking to principles like that, but Fiasco's associates have come to respect his views. "They actually look at it like, 'Damn, I wish I could do that.'"

Yet the music profession has weighed on Lupe, and his plan at the moment is to throw in the towel very soon, at least in part. "Retirement", of course, is a word too often bandied about among rappers, but Fiasco seems to have thought his through. On The Cool he alludes to his next and final album, titled L.U.P.End-- derived from the initials Fiasco would habitually enter into arcade game high score lists.

"I'm at a creative end," he explained. "I really don't think I have that much to say. And I don't want to get to the point where I'm putting out music just to put out music. Especially recording music. I'll still perform as long as a venue will have me and a promoter will have me. Always. Until I'm 100 years old. "But actual recorded music is another thing in itself. The interview process, the radio process, the video process, the budget process-- that shit wears at you, tears at you. And I've been doing the music business for like eight years. And prior to that, on the underground level trying to get to a professional level, about 10-15 years. It's a heavy process and you just get to the point where you're just like, 'I don't know.' It's just like three is enough."

So where will Lupe turn his efforts once he's sworn off recorded music? "I'm going to step back and run my label [1st & 15th]. I've got Matthew Santos, who's my artist. Gemini, Sarah Green, Soundtrakk, just on a more production side. So I've got a full-fledged credible label with credible musicians on it. So I'll sit back and do that. And then I'll talk to different people and get inspired."

And like most hip-hop "retirements," this one seems provisional. According to Lupe, we can still look forward to "a couple concept records" and, "god-willing," an album from the previously mentioned hip-hop supergroup Child Rebel Soldiers, which brings Fiasco together with Kanye West and Pharrell Williams.

What's the word on CRS? "Waiting. Everyone's focused on something else at the moment. [We're trying to find] two or three weeks to sit down and hammer it out. We're all kindred spirits; let's get together and unify that and see what happens."

Lupe's got a few shows lined up to close out the year, including a December 18 album release bonanza at New York City's Irving Plaza with a full live band. A House of Blues-sponsored tour is in the works for January. Finally, The Cool's tracklist has undergone a few revisions since our last report; check that just below.

Lupe Fiasco's The Cool:
01 Baba Says Cool for Thought
02 Free Chilly [ft. Sarah Green and Gemstones]
03 Go Go Gadget Flow
04 The Coolest
05 Superstar [ft. Matthew Santos]
06 Paris, Tokyo
07 Hi-Definition [ft. Snoop Dogg and Pooh Bear]
08 Gold Watch
09 Hip-Hop Saved My Life [ft. Nikki Jean]
10 Intruder Alert [ft. Sarah Green]
11 Streets on Fire
12 Little Weapon [ft. Bishop G and Nikki Jean]
13 Gotta Eat
14 Dumb It Down [ft. Gemstones and Graham Burris]
15 Hello/Goodbye (Uncool) [ft. UNKLE]
16 The Die [ft. Gemstones]
17 Put You on Game
18 Fighters [ft. Matthew Santos]
19 Go Baby [ft. Gemstones]

Live Lupe:
11-30 Urbana, IL - University of Illinois
12-02 Champaign, IL - University of Illinois
12-06 Los Angeles, CA - TBA
12-07 Los Angeles, CA - TBA
12-18 New York, NY - The Fillmore at Irving Plaza
12-27 Honolulu, HI - Pipeline Cafe

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Are you listening?

Background Noise is my new venture, for which I operate as a producer and CEO.

The first release off the label: Green Sketch, which consists of T.Q.D. and Phingaz on the raps, and Phingaz on the beats.

They will be the first release on the label, out on X-Mas Day. Tis' The Season! The name of the EP is "So Long...For Now" which is an excellent way to kickoff the new venture. And after you hear the song "Countdown," you'll come to the same conclusion too.

If you're in town, we'll be having a label showcase on 12/29 at the Terminal Bar with many other folks to celebrate the showcase and the release of Green Sketch. Such luminaries as Ernie Rhodes, Ruthless, Wide Eyes, Cleva & FIC (of the Chosen Few) will be performing along with all of the Background Noise Family.

Click on the picture to hear the songs from other members of the Crew.

Peace to y'all.