After viewing several of the inspirational speeches given at the DNC, it is vital that getting the word out about voting has become more important than ever. So one of my acts on my Background Noise label, Green Sketch, will be performing at an event called Explode the Vote with Brother Ali, Big Quarters, The Usual Suspects and Illuminous 3 at the Coffman Great Hall on Thursday, October 2nd. Click on the image above to purchase your tickets and support the cause. Proceeds will go towards re-electing Keith Ellison.
In addition, the Background Noise Crew made a song about voting called "Time for Something," and it features the homies Orikal and J.L. Magee. You can listen to it below:
Background Noise Crew F/Orikal & J.L. Magee "Time For Something"
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
Mainstream meets underground in a big way on White Van Music, the debut studio album from Jake One. The Seattle producer is part of G-Unit's production team, and in the past, he has worked with 50 Cent, De La Soul, Snoop Dogg, Young Buck, E-40, and Lil Scrappy, among other folks.
For White Van Music, Jake has fused this world with the world inhabited by his new label, Rhymesayers. Thus, the record features appearances from a wide variety of hip-hop heads, including Posdnuos (De La Soul), Busta Rhymes, MF DOOM, Young Buck, Freeway, M.O.P., Slug (Atmosphere), Little Brother, Prodigy, Keak Da Sneak, Black Milk, Alchemist, Casual, Ish (aka Butterfly from Digable Planets), Royce Da 5'9", and Bishop Lamont.
Rhymesayers will release White Van Music on October 7.
White Van Music:
01 I'm Coming [ft. Black Milk and Nottz]
02 Gangsta Boy [ft. M.O.P.]
03 The Truth [ft. Freeway and Brother Ali]
04 Turn It Down
05 God Like [ft. D. Black]
06 Bless the Child [ft. Little Brother]
07 Oh Really [ft. Posdnuos and Slug]
08 Hi09 Trap Door [ft. MF DOOM]
10 Dead Wrong [ft. Young Buck]
11 Kissin the Curb [ft. Bishop and Busta Rhymes]
12 How We Ride [ft. Freeway]
13 White Van [ft. Alchemist, Evidence, and Prodigy]
14 Big Homie Style [ft. J Pinder, GMK, and Spaceman]
15 Scared [ft. Blueprint]
16 Great Sound
17 Get Er Done [ft. MF DOOM]
18 Feeling My Shit [ft. Casual]
19 Soil Raps [ft. Keak Da Sneak]
20 Glow [ft. eLZhi and Royce Da 5'9"]
22 Home [ft. Vitamin D, C-Note, Maneak B, and Ish]
Stream: Jake One: Various Tracks
For the second consecutive year, a few excellent MCs will throw their best verses over a 10-piece live band accompaniment from Rhythm Roots Allstars as part of the Hip Hop Live! Tour.
This year's participants in the tour are Talib Kweli, David Banner, Little Brother, and B.O.B. Kweli and Banner are on board for all dates, while Little Brother will pass opening duties to B.O.B. midway through. The fun begins September 28 in San Diego.
Hip Hop Live! (Talib Kweli + David Banner):
09-28 San Diego, CA - Canes *
09-30 Los Angeles, CA - House of Blues *
10-02 San Francisco, CA - Grand Ballroom *
10-03 Portland, OR - Roseland *
10-04 Eugene, OR - McDonald Theater *
10-05 Seattle, WA - Showbox SoDo *
10-08 Boulder, CO - Fox Theater *
10-10 Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue *
10-13 Bloomington, IN - Bluebird *
10-18 Athens, GA - Georgia Theatre #
10-19 Asheville, NC - Orange Peel #
10-20 Washington, DC - 9:30 Club #
10-23 Philadelphia, PA - Trocadero #
10-24 Boston, MA - Showcase Live! #
10-25 New York, NY - Nokia Theatre #
* with Little Brother
# with B.O.B.
Stream: B.O.B.: Various Tracks
Stream: Little Brother: Various Tracks
MP3: Talib Kweli: Momma Can You Hear Me
Video: David Banner [ft. Chris Brown]: Get Like Me [from the The Greatest Story Ever Told LP]
Friday, August 22, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Part 3 (The Legacy): With the final installment of our three-part series exploring It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, we survey some of the more enduring contributions of this classic Public Enemy record.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Pandora, Other Webcasters Struggle Under High Song Fees
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Pandora is one of the nation's most popular Web radio services, with about 1 million listeners daily. Its Music Genome Project allows customers to create stations tailored to their own tastes. It is one of the 10 most popular applications for Apple's iPhone and attracts 40,000 new customers a day.
Yet the burgeoning company may be on the verge of collapse, according to its founder, and so may be others like it.
"We're approaching a pull-the-plug kind of decision," said Tim Westergren, who founded Pandora. "This is like a last stand for webcasting."
The transformation of words, songs and movies to digital media has provoked a number of high-stakes fights between the owners of copyrighted works and the companies that can now easily distribute those works via the Internet. The doomsday rhetoric these days around the fledgling medium of Web radio springs from just such tensions.
Last year, an obscure federal panel ordered a doubling of the per-song performance royalty that Web radio stations pay to performers and record companies.
Traditional radio, by contrast, pays no such fee. Satellite radio pays a fee but at a less onerous rate, at least by some measures.
As for Pandora, its royalty fees this year will amount to 70 percent of its projected revenue of $25 million, Westergren said, a level that could doom it and other Web radio outfits.
This week, Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Calif.) is trying to broker a last-minute deal between webcasters and SoundExchange, the organization that represents artists and record companies. The negotiations could reduce the per-song rate set by the federal panel last year.
The two sides appear to be far apart, however, with Berman frustrated.
"Most of the rate issues have not been resolved," Berman said. "If it doesn't get much more dramatic quickly, I will extricate myself from the process."
"We're losing money as it is," said Westergren, a former acoustic rocker. "The moment we think this problem in Washington is not going to get solved, we have to pull the plug because all we're doing is wasting money."
The digital reproduction of works in print, audio and video has provoked waves of lawsuits over who should benefit from copyrighted works distributed over the internet. The media company Viacom sued YouTube for running clips. Record companies have sought to punish file-sharers. And in radio, the digital transformation has recharged long-standing disputes over how much performers and their record companies ought to be paid when a song gets played.
By contrast to traditional radio, which broadcast only one song at any given time, Pandora's technology allows listeners to create their own stations, through which hundreds of thousands of song are played simultaneously.
For example, if a Pandora listener expresses a preference for "Debaser" by the Pixies, Pandora will search its catalog for songs that have similar musical qualities and create a station accordingly.
Soon after its launch, Pandora drew raves and listeners. Revenue at the growing company, which is supported by venture capital investors, was slated to rise above costs for the first time in 2009, Westergren said.
Then came the decision by the Copyright Royalty Board.
"I was on the bus when I get this message on my Treo," Westergren said. "I thought, 'We're dead.' "
SoundExchange, the organization that represents performers and record companies, said it supports the higher royalties for Internet radio because musicians deserve a bigger cut of Internet radio profits.
"Our artists and copyright owners deserve to be fairly compensated for the blood and sweat that forms the core product of these businesses," said Mike Huppe, general counsel for SoundExchange.
The Copyright Royalty Board last year decided that the fee to play a music recording on Web radio should step up from 8/100 of a cent per song per listener in 2006 to 19/100 of a cent per song per listener in 2010.
Multiplied by the millions of songs and thousands of listeners Pandora serves, that means the company will have to pay about $17 million this year, Westergren said.
The effect may be even worse for smaller outfits. Many small webcasters have said that the royalties as determined by the copyright board would be 100 percent to 300 percent of annual revenue, said David Oxenford, a lawyer who represents some of them.
"Obviously, that's not going to work," he said.
Even more galling to webcasters is the fact that they pay more for playing a song than traditional or satellite radio, a result of patchwork regulation created as each technology emerged.
Traditional radio pays nothing in performance royalties, though SoundExchange is pressing to change that. Satellite radio pays 6 or 7 percent of revenue. And then there are webcasters, which pay per song, per listener.
Using listener figures from Arbitron for XM Satellite Radio, it is possible to estimate that the company will pay about 1.6 cents per hour per listener when the new rates are fully adapted in 2010. By contrast, Web radio outlets will pay 2.91 cents per hour per listener.
SoundExchange officials argue that because different media have different profit margins, it is appropriate to set different royalty rates.
Moreover, they complain, Internet radio stations have done too little to make money from playing their songs.
Pandora makes advertising money only from spots placed on its Web page, not on audio ads that run between songs. Other stations are similarly struggling to persuade companies to pay for advertising in the new medium.
"We're taking this challenge very seriously," Westergren said. "When we have our board meetings, the central topic is the revenue trajectory, not how happy our users are."
He said Pandora has a 30-person ad sales operation, or about 25 percent of its workforce. The company will soon start running subtler ads similar to those on National Public Radio, too, he said.
"Something like 'The next half hour is brought to you by . . .' " he said.
Westergren and other webcasters argue that Web radio, which generally plays a far wider range of music than is offered by traditional radio, provides invaluable promotion for many independent musicians.
Matt Nathanson, a singer-songwriter who has recorded for both major and independent record labels, said he is worried that the demands placed on Internet radio could "choke" the industry before it gets its footing.
"Net radio is good for musicians like me, and I think most musicians are like me," he said. "The promotion it provides is far more important than the revenue."
Westergren, seemingly wearied by the constant haggling over the issue, signaled that Pandora's investors may also be impatient for an end.
"We're funded by venture capital," he said. "They're not going to chase a company whose business model has been broken. So if it doesn't feel like its headed towards a solution, we're done."
Friday, August 15, 2008
Legendary record man Jerry Wexler, who helped shape the sound of R&B, guided the careers of titans such as Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and Led Zeppelin, and helped launch Atlantic Records into a powerhouse, has died at his home in Florida, according to Rolling Stone. He was 91.
Wexler began his career in the late 1940s as a journalist, writing for Billboard magazine. He invented the phrase "Rhythm and Blues" for the publication for use on what was then known as their "Race Music" chart. In 1953, Wexler joined Ahmet Ertegun as co-head of Atlantic Records, a post he would hold until 1975. The two were instrumental in bringing the R&B music they loved to a wider audience, further incorporating it into the burgeoning sounds of rock'n'roll.
As both a record mogul and producer, Wexler was a tireless promoter of his wares, and in constant pursuit of exciting new sounds in modern music. Of his many successes with Atlantic, a mid-1960s distribution deal with legendary soul imprint Stax was one of his greatest. The arrangement brought Otis Redding, Booker T. and the MGs, and countless others into the fold, introducing the world to the gloriously loose Muscle Shoals sound that characterized the Stax catalog.
In 1966, Wexler signed a young singer by the name of Aretha Franklin, encouraging her to sing in a more natural, less measured style. Her subsequent work with Atlantic-- in particular, the recordings she completed in Muscle Shoals-- remain some of the finest albums of any era.
The late 60s brought a string of British rockers seeking to bump elbows with the soul musicians they'd been ripping off, and Led Zeppelin, Cream, and the like linked up with Atlantic, thanks to Wexler. In 1968, Wexler brought British chanteuse Dusty Springfield to Tennessee to record the legendary Dusty in Memphis, which Wexler himself produced. Also in 1968, Wexler and Ertegun agreed to sell Atlantic to Warner Seven Arts (later Warner Brothers), a deal that lost Atlantic a sizeable amount of money. He told Rolling Stone, "What a mistake. Worst thing we ever did."
Ertegun left Atlantic in 1975, eventually picking up some A&R work for Warner Brothers that netted the label new-wave pioneers like the B-52s and Gang of Four. He struck out on his own later in the decade, producing records for Bob Dylan, the Staple Singers, Linda Ronstadt, George Michael, and many others. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, becoming one of the very first non-performers to achieve the honor. It's not difficult to see why.
Wexler retired to Florida in the late 90s, where he largely cut himself off from the business elements of the music industry. He is survived by two children, and his wife, writer Jean Arnold.
Photo by Dan Monick
In an attempt to bring folks more Lemon-y freshness than a dish soap commercial, Atmosphere have added a second leg of U.S. dates to their "Paint the Nation" tour. The trek now extends into mid-November.
Before the nation-painting begins, Atmosphere have some European dates to finish, starting tonight (August 15) in Zurich, Switzerland. After "Paint the Nation", the duo has also added a trio of Australian dates.
Finally, Atmosphere will play the Take Back Labor Day festival in St. Paul during the Republican National Convention, as previously reported.
08-15 Zurich, Switzerland - Tonimolkerei
08-16 Munich, Germany - Ampere
08-17 Gothenburg, Sweden - Göteborgs Kulturkalas
08-18 Malmö, Sweden - Malmöfestivalen
08-20 Oslo, Norway - Bla08-21 Stockholm, Sweden - Nalen
08-22 Copenhagen, Denmark - Little Vega
08-23 Prague, Czech Republic - Hip Hop Kemp Festival
08-23 Helsinki, Finland - Tavastia
09-01 St. Paul, MN - Harriet Island (Take Back Labor Day)
09-10 Fargo, ND - The Venue *
09-11 Sioux Falls, SD - Sioux Empire Expo Center *
09-12 Omaha, NE - Slowdown *
09-13 Denver, CO - Monolith Festival
09-15 Boise, ID - Knitting Factory *
09-16 Missoula, MT - Wilma Theater *
09-18 Eugene, OR - McDonald Theater *
09-19 Sacramento, CA - Empire *
09-20 San Diego, CA - Street Scene
09-21 Bakersfield, CA - The Dome *
09-22 Santa Cruz, CA - Catalyst *
09-25 Los Angeles, CA - Wiltern *
09-26 Las Vegas, NV - House of Blues *
09-27 Phoenix, AZ - Edge Fest
09-28 Tucson, AZ - KFMA Fall Ball
09-30 Houston, TX - Warehouse Live *
10-01 New Orleans, LA - Tipitina's *
10-02 St. Petersburg, FL - State Theater *
10-03 Ft. Lauderdale, FL - Revolution *
10-04 Orlando, FL - Firestone *
10-06 Atlanta, GA - Masquerade *
10-07 Ashville, NC - Orange Peel *
10-08 Richmond, VA - Toad's Place *
10-10 Baltimore, MD - Ram's Head *
10-11 New Haven, CT - Toad's Place *
10-13 Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg *
10-14 New York, NY - Irving Plaza *
10-15 Providence, RI - Lupo's *
10-17 Portland, ME - The Station *
10-18 Burlington, VT - Higher Ground *
10-20 Pittsburgh, PA - Mr. Small's *
10-21 Cleveland, OH - Beachland Ballroom *
10-22 Columbus, OH - Newport Music Hall *
10-24 Cincinnati, OH - Scribble Jam @ Annie's *
10-25 Nashville, TN - Wildhorse Saloon *
10-27 Royal Oak, MI - Royal Oak Theatre *
10-28 Grand Rapids, MI - Intersection *
10-29 Urbana, IL - Canopy Club *
10-31 Madison, WI - Orpheum Theatre *
11-01 Milwaukee, WI - Riverside Theater *
11-02 Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue *
11-05 Iowa City, IA - Englert Theatre *
11-06 Lawrence, KS - The Granada *
11-07 Tulsa, OK - Cain's Ballroom *
11-08 Austin, TX - Waterloo Park (Fun Fun Fun Fest)
11-09 Dallas, TX - House of Blues *
11-11 El Paso, TX - Club 101 *
11-12 Albuquerque, NM - Albuquerque Convention Center *
11-15 Columbia, MO - The Blue Note *
11-16 Chicago, IL - The Vic Theatre *
12-30 Lorne, Australia - The Falls Festival
12-31 Marion Bay, Australia - The Falls Festival
01-03 Busselton, Australia - Sir Stewart Bovell Park (Southbound Festival)
* with Blueprint, Abstract Rude, DJ Rare Groove
Video: Atmosphere: Shoulda Known [from the When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold LP]
(via Babygrande) The GZA/Genius, Wu-Tang's famed lyrical swordsman, serves up some jewels regarding "Pro Tools," his fifth solo album, set for imminent release on August 19th. The notoriously elusive emcee opens up in this rare and exclusive interview, providing coveted insight into the new album (and his favorite tracks), the current state of hip-hop and also directly addressing the recently leaked, buzzing 50 Cent diss track ("Paper Plate").
Also...log on to www.myspace.com/gza NOW to check out an exclusive preview of the entire "Pro Tools" album. This is an exclusive opportunity to preview what notable blogger/tastemaker/critic Byron Crawford has already coined "shockingly good. The best GZA album since Liquid Swords...very well the best Wu-Tang-related album since Supreme Clientele."
Tune in to www.imeem.com as well for the "Pro Tools" album cover redesign contest for a chance to win a full CD DJ set-up from Stanton worth $1600:
Also look for GZA this summer/fall on the highly anticipated nationwide "Liquid Swords" tour which commences August 21st in Los Angeles at the El Rey Theatre. He plans to debut the new material for the first time ever following the performance of the entire classic "Liquid Swords" album.
GZA/Liquid Swords Tour:
Thu 8/21 Los Angeles, CA El Rey
Fri 8/22 Santa Cruz, CA Moe's Alley
Sat 8/23 Petaluma, CA Phoenix
Mon 8/25 Portland, OR Berbati's
Tue 8/26 Seattle, WA Neumos
Wed 8/27 Vancouver, BC Richards
Fri 8/29 Salt Lake City, UT Paladium
Sat 8/30 Denver, CO Cervantes
Mon 9/1 Dallas, TX Palladium
Tue 9/2 Houston, TX Warehouse
Wed 9/3 Austin, TX Emo's
Thu 9/4 Minneapolis, MN Cabooze
Fri 9/5 Grinnell, IA Grinnell
Sat 9/6 Madison, WI SoCo Music
Sun 9/7 Chicago, IL House of Blues
Tue 9/9 Oberlin, OH Oberlin Collge
Wed 9/10 Baltimore, MD Ram's Head
Thu 9/11 Philadelphia, PA Trocadero
Fri 9/12 New York, NY Irving Plaza
Sat 9/13 Boston, MA Harper's Ferry
Wed 9/17 Tempe, AZ Clubhouse
Thu 9/18 Flagstaff, AZ Congress
Fri 9/19 San Diego, CA Street Scene
MC also challenges Jay-Z, G-Unit (again) on tracks from forthcoming LP.
"It's a hundred different messages you can take from the song," Game said on Monday afternoon, cruising through Houston on his way to a radio station. "It's called 'My Life,' so tune in." The video for the song, from his forthcoming LP L.A.X.,premieres on "FNMTV" Friday (starting at 8 p.m. ET).
"And I ain't no preacher, but here's my Erick Sermon," he raps on the record. "So eat this black music, and tell me how it tastes now/ And f--- Jesse Jackson 'cause it ain't about race now."
It's very provocative — and he goes after Jackson even harder on a different track from the album, "Letter to the King," that leaked on Thursday (August 14).
The song — a duet with Nas — has bars that are lyrically astonishing, and will probably be the pair's most talked-about collaboration yet. Of course, the "King" the duo refers to is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. At times, the two talk directly to the late civil-rights leader as if he were still alive; at others, they ponder aloud about what could have been.
"If Dr. King marched today, would Bill Gates march?" Game raps on the third verse. "I know Obama would, but would Hillary take part?/ I feel the pain of Nelson Mandela/ 'Cause when it rains it pours, I need Rihanna's umbrella/ For Coretta Scott [King's] teardrops/ When she got the phone call that the future just took a f---ing headshot."
If you don't remember anything else about the song, Game's controversial last line will stay with you.
"I wonder why Jesse Jackson ain't catch him before his body dropped," he asks. "Would he give me the answer?/ Probably not."
At press time, Game had not responded to MTV News' requests for comment on why he's going after Jackson — a longtime King associate, who was present at his assassination in 1968 — so hard, but he did speak with us at length about L.A.X. in Houston earlier this week.
Several other noteworthy tracks from the album hit the Net on Thursday (August 14), including "Angel," which features classic name-dropping from an outspoken Game while Common guest-drops metaphors. There's also a song called "Ya Heard" that features the Compton track-slayer engaging in some rap repartee with Ludacris.
Game described the album as "just me taking flight, man. This album is gonna be real special — from beginning to end, it's gonna knock."
Recently on KISS-FM in Phoenix, Game admitted that he's a fan of Jay's music, but predicted that a battle between the two of them would be one-sided — against Jigga.
"I'm young, stupid, disrespectful," Game said. "I haven't lost a beef. I killed a whole group limb by limb — see what happened to G-Unit."
"Buck is in the video for a split second, robbing the liquor store!" Game smiled. "Lil Wayne came out to California — he re-routed his tour bus, made a U-turn for me, [so we could] shoot the video. I think the video is gonna do some great things."
L.A.X. is due on August 26.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
The self-titled album, DOOMTREE, is a landmark for the group and a self-proclaimed beast. With 21 tracks, not only does the record build the momentum of the crew, but it also highlights their talents as solo artists. With an already outstanding catalog including fans of punk and indie rock, and rap purists, this release is sure to rally an even bigger audience with the call for independent thought. As Doomtree says, "The anthems are victorious, the storysongs are full of dream and intrigue, and the bangers reset pacemakers."
Agit-rockers already announced Minneapolis show during the Republican gathering.
This year at least, Rage Against the Machine are bipartisan bomb-throwers. The agit-rockers, who are already playing a show in Minneapolis during the Republican National Convention in September, have just announced another gig during the Democratic National Convention in Denver at the end of this month.
The "Tent State Music Festival to End the War" will take place August 27 at the Denver Coliseum and feature sets by Rage, the Flobots, the Coup, State Radio and former MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer, whose proto-punk band famously performed against the wishes of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley during the violent protests outside the 1968 DNC gathering. The band went home without their instruments, but they did have bloody battle scars from brawls with police.
Rage also know a thing or two about getting shut down at the DNC, as their 2000 set during the party's gathering in Los Angeles erupted in chaos when police rushed in and used tear gas to disperse the crowd. This year's all-ages show will begin at 11 a.m., and tickets are free to those who sign up for the lottery by presenting a valid ID at the Tent State University location in Denver between August 24 and August 26. Winners will be notified by e-mail on August 26.
The Denver protest event is being put on in conjunction with the Iraq Veterans Against the War and Tent State University, a group that works to help young people "take back their campuses and their communities." Tent State plans to erect a "sea of tents" in City Park, Denver, during the DNC and create an "alternative university, teaching tactics and strategies necessary to force an end to this war." Among the guests on tap during the protest are third-party presidential candidate Ralph Nader and former Democratic Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney.
During the protest, Tent State will also host a series of other shows as part of the first Tent State Music Festival, featuring sets by longtime social critic and ex-Dead Kennedys singer Jello Biafra, as well as the Coup, Michelle Shocked, Jill Sobule and some "special guests" during an event they are billing as "4 Days of Love & Action."
The logo for the protest, as well as the slogan, are meant to evoke the iconic poster for the legendary 1969 Woodstock Festival, which promised "3 Days of Peace and Music" and featured a white bird sitting on the neck of a guitar. The Tent State festival, in contrast, features an electric guitar being held aloft by a fist.
The organization has several days' worth of creative protests planned, including the Funky Snake Marches that will wind through downtown to protest the war in Iraq, daily morning gatherings that the group says will "turn downtown into one massive reminder to the delegates and the public of what war looks like" and the erection of mock checkpoints around Denver on August 26 to "mimic the experiences we force on people in Iraq, Palestine and on the U.S./Mexico border."
Other acts scheduled to perform during the Tent State festival include: Melissa Ivey, Blue Scholars, Son of Nun, God-des and She, 8" Betsy, David Rovics, Rachel Bagby, Common Market, Apex Vibe, P Nuckle, Fulcrum, Kombat, DJ Russh and the Flash Mob.
The latest Rage show is part of a growing musical roster for both conventions, which also includes a just-announced Grammy Foundation-sponsored gig featuring Daughtry, Everclear and the Flobots during the DNC; a Service Employees International Union-sponsored show by Rage guitarist Tom Morello, Mos Def, Lupe Fiasco and Steve Earle during the Republican Convention; and various other local concerts in the Minneapolis/ St. Paul area during the gathering.
MTV News and the Street Team '08 citizen journalists will be on the ground at both conventions, sorting through speeches, streamers and ceremony to find the information you need to choose the next president.
What's the world's finest live rap group got in common with a brassy British up-and-comer and a cadre of silly yet sad-sacky emo-rappers ? Well, not a whole hell of a lot...until October, that is.
Yes, the Roots, Estelle, and Gym Class Heroes will join forces for a co-headlining spin around North America this fall. Could it be that we've all been sleeping on Gym Class Heroes, and this is a wakeup call from ?uestlove aimed directly at our brains? Or is this just another step in the Roots' slow crawl towards full-bore emo-dom they set in motion with that ill-advised collaboration with Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump that didn't make Rising Down?
Either way, look for that Wu-Tang/Lily Allen/My Chemical Romance jump off in the spring.
The Roots have a whole mess of European festival appearances to attend to before linking up with Estelle and the Heroes.
08-14 Avenches, Switzerland - Openair Festival
08-15 Salzburg, Austria - Frequency Festival
08-16 Helsinki, Finland - Flow Festival
08-17 Biddinghuizen, Netherlands - Lowlands Festival
08-20 Bergen, Norway - TBA
08-21 Oslo, Norway - Scentrum Scene
08-22 Bodo, Norway - Parken Festival
08-23 Oudenaarde, Belgium - Feest in ‘t Park
08-24 Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic - Hip Hop Kemp Festival
08-26 Moscow, Russia - B1
08-29 Paris, France - Rock en Seine Festival
08-30 Argyll, Scotland - Connect Festival
08-31 Stradbally, Ireland - Electric Picnic
09-06 Madison, WI - SOCO Music Experience !
10-03 Baltimore, MD - Rams Head Live *
10-04 Norfolk, VA - The Norva *
10-05 Myrtle Beach, SC - House of Blues *
10-06 Atlanta, GA - The Tabernacle *
10-07 Lake Buena Vista, FL - House of Blues *
10-08 Miami, FL - The Fillmore at Jackie Gleason *
10-11 Dallas, TX - The Palladium Ballroom *
10-12 Austin, TX - The Backyard *
10-14 Phoenix, AZ - The Marquee *
10-19 Las Vegas, NV - House of Blues *
10-21 Denver, CO - The Fillmore Auditorium *
10-23 Milwaukee, WI - Eagles Ballroom *
10-24 Chicago, IL - Congress Theatre *
10-25 Detroit, MI - The Fillmore Detroit *
10-26 Toronto, Ontario - Sound Academy *
10-28 New York, NY - Roseland Ballroom *
10-30 Worcester, MA - The Palladium Downstairs *
10-31 Asbury Park, NJ - Asbury Park Convention Hall *
11-01 Albany, NY - Washington Avenue Armory
! with the Black Keys, GZA, Benevento Russo Duo, Ha Ha Tonka
* with Estelle, Gym Class Heroes
Video: The Roots (ft. Wale and Chrisette Michelle): Rising Up [from the Rising Down LP]
If you believe Men's Fitness Magazine, Pitchfork's hometown of Chicago currently stands as the 20th fattest city in the U.S. Best believe we're coming for that #1 spot (uh, again) thanks to the tireless efforts of Kanye West.
According to Crain's [via Chicagoist], Kanye's KW Foods LLC plans to open the very first Chicago-area location of the gluttony-forward California-based fast food chain Fatburger. Fatburger will open the doors at their new spot in suburb Orland Park next month, with another coming in January on the south side. Crain's reports that KW Foods has secured the rights to open 10 Fatburger joints in the region, and are currently seeking a lease on a third locale.
Of course, one cannot help but point out the irony of the dude who penned "The New Workout Plan" opening up a restaurant with that particular name, but, shit, man, Kingburgers and Fat Fries make their own rules.
Thanks Kanye! We're back on top, fam!
Video: Kanye West: Champion [from the Graduation LP]
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
LONDON (Reuters) - An Israeli tank crew who killed a Reuters cameraman and eight young bystanders in the Gaza Strip four months ago acted properly and will not face legal action, Israel's senior military lawyer has concluded.
The military advocate-general told the international news agency in a letter sent on Tuesday that troops could not see whether Fadel Shana was operating a camera or a weapon but were nonetheless justified in firing a shell packed with darts that killed him and eight other Palestinians aged between 12 and 20.
Reuters said on Wednesday it was deeply disturbed by a conclusion that severely curtails the freedom of the media to cover the conflict by effectively giving soldiers a free hand to kill without being sure they were not firing on journalists.
Shana, 24, filmed two tanks positioned about 1.5 km (a mile) from where he was standing for several minutes before, in a chilling final 2 seconds of video, his camera captured one tank firing a shell that burst overhead, showering the journalist and others with thousands of metal darts known as flechettes.
"The tank crew was unable to determine the nature of the object mounted on the tripod and positively identify it as an anti-tank missile, a mortar or a television camera," Brigadier General Avihai Mendelblit of the Israel Defense Forces wrote.
But the military lawyer cited an attack that killed three IDF soldiers in another part of the enclave earlier in the day, a separate grenade attack on a tank, the fact that Shana and his soundman who was wounded were wearing body armor -- "common to Palestinian terrorists" -- among reasons for suspicion.
Their blue flak jackets, like the car, were marked "PRESS". The army said the troops could not see those signs. Journalists in Gaza say they have rarely seen militants wear flak jackets.
Mendelblit wrote: "In light of the reasonable conclusion reached by the tank crew and its superiors that the characters were hostile and were carrying an object most likely to be a weapon, the decision to fire at the targets ... was sound ...There is no doubt that Fadel Shana's death is a tragedy..."
"A journalist in action was killed by IDF fire, along with others not involved in the hostilities. However ... the available evidence does not suggest misconduct or criminal misbehavior ... I have therefore decided ... that no further legal measures will be taken."
Reuters Editor-in-Chief David Schlesinger said: "I'm extremely disappointed that this report condones a disproportionate use of deadly force in a situation the army itself admitted had not been analyzed clearly.
"They would appear to take the view that any raising of a camera into position could garner a deadly response."
Reuters wrote to Mendelblit on Wednesday with a number of questions, including asking precisely why the soldiers ruled out the possibility that Shana was a cameraman, why the fact he stood in full view of the tanks for some minutes did not suggest he had no hostile intent and why the tank crew, if concerned but unsure, did not simply reverse a few meters out of sight.
In Jerusalem, the Foreign Press Association said it was disappointed with a report that seemed to give soldiers license to fire on journalists without being sure of their target.
In New York, Joel Campagna of the Committee to Protect Journalists said: "These findings mean that a journalist with a camera is at risk of coming under fire and there's not that much that can be done. That's unacceptable.
"It's difficult to believe ... that the IDF took the necessary precautions to avoid causing harm to civilians -- as it is obliged to do under international law."
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
"Girls are not supposed to be actively seeking something, a girl simply exists for someone to marry or divorce her," says the author of the top-selling book, Ghada Abdelaal. "To say she wants something is seen as impolite."
The book started as a blog, before it was spotted by an Egyptian publisher and printed as a series of comic sketches in which flawed and failed suitors knocking at her parents' door.
A paranoid policeman, a hirsute fundamentalist, a pathological liar and other hilarious caricatures portrayed in sparkling Egyptian vernacular.
The veiled, softly-spoken Abdelaal is a sharp and witty observer of social incongruity in Egypt, a feisty spirit trying to tear up stifling tradition.
She says her target is not Egyptian men but a tradition known as "gawwaz el-salonat" (living room marriage), where a stranger is brought to the family home and the daughter must decide whether to marry him on the basis of this brief encounter.
"People who go for a picnic need to know each other a little longer than that - let alone make a lifelong commitment."
The book's popularity - it is in its third print run with a sitcom in the offing - reflects a widespread anxiety in Egyptian society. More and more young people cannot afford to get married.
Although the book focuses on finding Mr Right, she acknowledges finding an affordable flat remains an almost insurmountable obstacle. Many young people stay engaged for years before they can save up enough money.
"By the time they actually get to live together, they are already tired of each other," says women's rights activist Nihad Abou El Qoumsan. This causes the unusually high rate of divorce among the newlyweds in Egypt, she says.
A new apartment will be given away by a wealthy businessman every day of the fasting and holiday month of Ramadan, in September. Huge numbers have registered.
Some describe it as a social time bomb. Religious customs mean there is no sex before marriage. So how do young people react to this situation?
Sociologist Madeeha al-Safty of the American University in Cairo believes one consequence is sexual harassment of women and rape reaching unprecedented levels in Egypt.
"If you are frustrated, there is the possibility that you take it out [through] violence.
"Some people choose the safer way in moving towards a more religious attitude - not necessarily extremism, but it might reach the point of extremism," she adds.
But anthropologist Hania Sholkamy hesitates to link the problems of sexual harassment and rape to the marriage crisis.
"I don't think people who harass women on the street are necessarily single, or necessarily sexually frustrated. There are many millions of people who are extremely frustrated, but they do not harass women.
"I think the issue is one of violence and gender disparities, pure and simple."
Gender disparities is a theme running throughout Abdelaal's book, from the provocative title questioning the women's passive role in a traditional society to the way children are brought up.
"They ask young girls here when they are three or four, who would you marry… they implant the idea your only purpose in life is to get married.
"Even after she goes to school they tell her that a girl's only future is in her husband's home. So what happens when a girl for any reason cannot get married? Should she set fire to herself?"
"I've lost one of my best buddies and it is not easy to reckon with," Warwick told US TV show Access Hollywood.
Franklin told MTV that Hayes was "an enduring symbol of the struggle of the African-American man and was a shining example of soul at its best".
He was taken to hospital after he was found unconscious next to a treadmill.
Franklin said Hayes was "so musically advanced and timeless in his compositions". She added: "He was loved and appreciated by so many."
Gloria Gaynor called him "a gentleman and an extremely warm and talented artist", who she "respected and admired".
In 1985 Gaynor recorded one of Barry White's songs, You're The First, The Last, My Everything, for Hayes.
"I will miss him and his contribution to the entertainment world and to human kind," she said.
Hayes started his career as a songwriter for the legendary Stax label, penning hits including Soul Man and Hold On I'm Coming for duo Sam and Dave.
Sam Moore told BBC 6 Music he was "just the most, sensitive nicest kind" man.
Portishead sampled Hayes' Ike's Rap on their breakthrough single Glory Box in 1994.
Speaking to BBC News, the band's Adrian Utley said: "It was just cool as hell. We had Isaac Hayes records hanging around. It's purely sonic, it sounded so good. It was just immediately a very cool track.
"I would say we've definitely got him to thank, because had he not written that tune we wouldn't have sampled it and the basis of the music that you hear is his."
He was perhaps better known to a younger audience as the voice of Chef from the hit cartoon show, South Park.
The cause of death was not immediately known.
He was about to begin work on a new album for Stax, the soul record label he helped build to legendary status.
British soul star Jazzie B, who became friends with Hayes after they performed together in the 1990s, described him as "a really nice man" and "as cool as ice".
"He was an equal cornerstone to the evolution of hip-hop, what's come to be known as R&B, and urban music in general," he told BBC News.
"So there's absolutely no doubt that Isaac Hayes will be truly missed and he was a very influential part of music as we hear it today."
Collin Stanback from the Stax label told the Associated Press news agency that the star "embodies everything that's soul music".
He added: "When you think of soul music, you think of Isaac Hayes - the expression, the sound and the creativity that goes along with it."
In a statement released from The Recording Academy, the body behind the Grammys, president Neil Portnow called him a "true renaissance man".
He added: "After laying the groundwork for the Memphis soul sound through his work with Stax Records, his groundbreaking theme song and score for the movie Shaft cemented his status as a musical icon.
"The world has lost a true creative genius and a passionate humanitarian, but his indelible legacy will remain ever present."
Monday, August 11, 2008
Jose Martinez was counting the cash in his till in the city of Aviles, northern Spain, when he came across the coin where Homer's bald head, big eyes and big nose had replaced the serious features of King Juan Carlos.
"The coin must have been done by a professional, the work is impressive," he told Reuters.
The comical carver had not taken his tools to the other side of the coin displaying the map of Europe. So far, no other coins of the hapless, beer-swilling oaf have been found in circulation.
"I've been offered 20 euros for it," said Martinez.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Soul singer and arranger Isaac Hayes, who won Grammy awards and an Oscar for the theme from the 1971 action film "Shaft," has died, sheriff's officials in Memphis, Tennessee, reported Sunday.
Relatives found Hayes, 65, unconscious in his home next to a still-running treadmill, said Steve Schular, a spokesman for the Shelby County Sheriff's Department.
Paramedics attempted to revive him and took him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after 2 p.m., the sheriff's department said.
No foul play is suspected, the agency said in a written statement.
Hayes was a longtime songwriter and arranger for Stax Records in Memphis, playing in the studio's backup band and crafting tunes for artists such as Otis Redding and Sam and Dave in the 1960s.
He released his first solo album in 1967.
In 1971, the theme from "Shaft" became a pop hit and won an Academy Award for best original theme song. The song and the movie score also won Grammy awards for best original score and movie theme.He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
Bernie Mac died Saturday morning from complications due to pneumonia in a Chicago area hospital, his publicist, Danica Smith, said in a statement from Los Angeles.
Bernie Mac blended style, authority and a touch of self-aware bluster to make audiences laugh as well as connect with him. For Mac, who died Saturday at age 50, it was a winning mix, delivering him from a poor childhood to stardom as a standup comedian, in films including the casino heist caper "Ocean's Eleven" and his acclaimed sitcom "The Bernie Mac Show."
Though his comedy drew on tough experiences as a black man, he had mainstream appeal — befitting inspiration he found in a wide range of humorists: Harpo Marx as well as Moms Mabley; squeaky-clean Red Skelton, but also the raw Redd Foxx.
Mac died Saturday morning from complications due to pneumonia in a Chicago area hospital, his publicist, Danica Smith, said in a statement from Los Angeles. She said no other details were available.
"The world just got a little less funny," said "Oceans" co-star George Clooney.
Don Cheadle, another member of the "Oceans" gang, concurred: "This is a very sad day for many of us who knew and loved Bernie. He brought so much joy to so many. He will be missed, but heaven just got funnier."
Mac suffered from sarcoidosis, an inflammatory lung disease that produces tiny lumps of cells in the body's organs, but had said the condition went into remission in 2005. He recently was hospitalized and treated for pneumonia, which his publicist said was not related to the disease.
Recently, Mac's brand of comedy caught him flack when he was heckled during a surprise appearance at a July fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate and fellow Chicagoan Barack Obama.
Toward the end of a 10-minute standup routine, Mac joked about menopause, sexual infidelity and promiscuity, and used occasional crude language. Obama took the stage about 15 minutes later, implored Mac to "clean up your act next time," then let him off the hook, adding: "By the way, I'm just messing with you, man."
Even so, Obama's campaign later issued a rebuke, saying the senator "doesn't condone these statements and believes what was said was inappropriate."
But despite controversy or difficulties, in his words, Mac was always a performer.
"Wherever I am, I have to play," he said in 2002. "I have to put on a good show."
Mac worked his way to Hollywood success from an impoverished upbringing on Chicago's South Side. He began doing standup as a child, telling jokes for spare change on subways, and his film career started with a small role as a club doorman in the Damon Wayans comedy "Mo' Money" in 1992. In 1996, he appeared in the Spike Lee drama "Get on the Bus."
He was one of "The Original Kings of Comedy" in the 2000 documentary of that title that brought a new generation of black standup comedy stars to a wider audience.
"The majority of his core fan base will remember that when they paid their money to see Bernie Mac ... he gave them their money's worth," Steve Harvey, one of his co-stars in "Original Kings," told CNN on Saturday.
Mac went on to star in the hugely popular "Ocean's Eleven" franchise with Brad Pitt and George Clooney, playing a gaming-table dealer who was in on the heist. Carl Reiner, who also appeared in the "Ocean's" films, said Saturday he was "in utter shock" because he thought Mac's health was improving.
"He was just so alive," Reiner said. "I can't believe he's gone."
Mac and Ashton Kutcher topped the box office in 2005's "Guess Who," a comedy remake of the classic Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn drama "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" Mac played the dad who's shocked that his daughter is marrying a white man.
Mac also had starring roles in "Bad Santa," "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" and "Transformers."
But his career and comic identity were forged in television.
In the late 1990s, he had a recurring role in "Moesha," the UPN network comedy starring pop star Brandy. The critical and popular acclaim came after he landed his own Fox television series "The Bernie Mac Show," about a child-averse couple who suddenly are saddled with three children.
Mac mined laughs from the universal frustrations of parenting, often breaking the "fourth wall" to address the camera throughout the series that aired from 2001 to 2006. "C'mon, America," implored Mac, in character as the put-upon dad. "When I say I wanna kill those kids, YOU know what I mean."
The series won a Peabody Award in 2002, and Mac was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Emmy. In real life, he was "the king of his household" — very much like his character on that series, his daughter, Je'niece Childress, told The Associated Press on Saturday.
"But television handcuffs you, man," he said in a 2001 Associated Press interview before the show had premiered. "Now everyone telling me what I CAN'T do, what I CAN say, what I SHOULD do, and asking, `Are blacks gonna be mad at you? Are whites gonna accept you?'"
He also was nominated for a Grammy award for best comedy album in 2001 along with his "The Original Kings of Comedy" co-stars Harvey, D.L. Hughley and Cedric The Entertainer.
Chicago music producer Carolyn Albritton said she was Bernie Mac's first manager, having met him in 1991 at Chicago's Cotton Club where she hosted an open-mike night. He was an immediate hit, Albritton said Saturday, and he asked her to help guide his career.
"From very early on I thought he was destined for success," Albritton said. "He never lost track of where he came from, and he'd often use real life experiences, his family, his friends, in his routine. After he made it, he stayed a very humble man. His family was the most important thing in the world to him."
In 2007, Mac told David Letterman on CBS' "Late Show" that he planned to retire soon.
"I'm going to still do my producing, my films, but I want to enjoy my life a little bit," Mac told Letterman. "I missed a lot of things, you know. I was a street performer for two years. I went into clubs in 1977."
Mac was born Bernard Jeffrey McCullough on Oct. 5, 1957, in Chicago. He grew up on the city's South Side, living with his mother and grandparents. His grandfather was the deacon of a Baptist church.
In his 2004 memoir, "Maybe You Never Cry Again," Mac wrote about having a poor childhood — eating bologna for dinner — and a strict, no-nonsense upbringing.
"I came from a place where there wasn't a lot of joy," Mac told the AP in 2001. "I decided to try to make other people laugh when there wasn't a lot of things to laugh about."
Mac's mother died of cancer when he was 16. In his book, Mac said she was a support for him and told him he would surprise everyone when he grew up.
"Woman believed in me," he wrote. "She believed in me long before I believed."
Mac's death Saturday coincided with the annual Bud Billiken Parade in Chicago, a major event in the predominantly black South Side that the comedian had previously attended.
"It's truly the passing of one of our favorite sons," said Paula Robinson, president of the Black Metropolis National Heritage Area. "He was extremely innovative in putting his life experiences in comedic form and doing it without vulgarity.
"He was an ambassador of Chicago's black community, and the national black community at large."