The creative landscape is changing. Technologies like Pro Tools, the iPod, and peer-to-peer networks have become mainstream in the digital age, creating a wild frontier of sorts in music. Independent artists can reach mass audiences once forbidden to them. These technologies are fostering the rise of “semiotic democracy”—where more and more people are no longer passive consumers of mass media, but active participants in creating culture. Cops vs Lawyers, Issue 3

الثلاثاء، كانون الثاني ٣١، ٢٠٠٦

Turntable at the San Francisco Independent Film Festival

The 8th Annual San Francisco Independent Film Festival kicks off next week. And among the bevy of dope, low-budget films being featured here in town is Turntable. Written and directed by Robert Patton-Spruill, Turntable is the story of three brothers in Boston, and the blurry line that often separates crime and hip hop.

These days Hollywood seems to only delve into hip hop culture in order to show stuffy white folks 'getting their groove back.' Turntable is not this type of movie nor is it another self-serving bio-pic about a living rapper who has harrowed through a whole three albums of a 'career.' But don't get it twisted! Turntable is a dope movie, with plenty of twists, turns and sexy curves. So get out there and support your local film festival, Bay Area!

USA 2006
88 minutes
Film Description

-Women's Building
2/10 7p

-Roxie Cinema
2/12 2:15p

For more information on the San Francisco Independent Film Festival, go to

الخميس، كانون الثاني ٢٦، ٢٠٠٦

SHOUT Best of 2005: Steriods in Hip-Hop

By Thomas Hynes

Image is its own instrument in hip-hop. Rappers today seem more loc'ed than ever, sporting that "fresh on parole look." And as society experiments with its newest chemical fixation, so too does hip-hop take a curious look towards steroids.

Like instruments or lyrics, drugs are an important facet in the musical process. Parker, Coltrane and Cobain had their heroin. Keith Richards has literally done a ton (2000 lbs., 907.19 kg.) of cocaine. You have to fail a urinalysis to even get signed at some labels.

Hip-hop has never shied away from getting high either. You got chronic, crack rock, hare-on, blunts, chewies, woolies... Drugs are as much a part of the hip-hop lexicon as rims or babymammasmmas.

Recently, steroids have come into the spotlight—in sports. Should it come as a surprise that hip-hop has injected itself with image-enhancing drugs? Robin Leach would put it like "From LL Cool J to 50Cent to Usher, buff is the new bling-bling in rap."


السبت، كانون الثاني ٢١، ٢٠٠٦

SHOUT Best of 2005: Afrika Bambaataa

Interview By Bella Bakrania, Bayeté Ross-Smith, & Eddie Mariano

Though hip-hop may be a child of many parents, Afrika Bambaataa taught hip-hop its first steps as a movement. Not long after Kool Herc first put two turntables together, Bambaataa used the music to bring rival communities together. To this day, hip-hop’s original gangsta continues to prove that music can be a catalyst for peace, unity, and social change.

Bella Bakrania: It’s always a pleasure and kinda crazy to hear all the ‘80s tracks rocking the younger crowds once again. How do you feel about that, with your span in hip hop and being able to rock these crowds of many different generations?
Afrika Bambaataa: So many deejays have gotten into the apartheid of becoming a deejay. They say, “I am a ragga deejay, I am a hip-hop deejay, I am a trance deejay, I am a salsa deejay,” instead of just One Nation Under a Groove like George Clinton say. I remember when the techno scene was happening big and the early raves started, I used to go there and there would be 20 something deejays and they all sound the same, so I used to come and break the whole momentum, with REM “Losing My Religion” and going down to some funk and bringing it all the way back up to techno for the next deejay to take on. I was always like that. Trying to bring a whole bunch of records out and play all across the board. Trying to keep that dance scene alive in all styles of music since all music is really dance music. Everybody has got all caught up – “Dance music is only techno or house music”. No, all music— if you can dance to it—is really dance music.

BB: Tell us about your new album out—Dark Matter Moving at the Speed of Light [Afrika Bambaataa and the Millennium of the Gods]—about putting it together and the people you worked with.
It took 3 years in the making. I worked with a lot of these other great recording artists who are also producers that I enjoy a lot. Like Uberzone, Sharaz, Strictly Jeff, Boogie Brown—who was part of my group Hydraulic Funk and also used to be part of the Peech Boys back in the days— and a new young producer coming up DJ Hektek, Dukeyman from the Baltimore Breakbeats, and Gary Numan. It was great honor working with Gary Numan; it was just fun working with all these guys... And a new production team called Fort Knox Five. If you see their records, jump on them ‘cuz all their stuff is slammin’. It was great working with all these people putting out an Electro-Funk album because people were asking for it. I’ve been doing techno, hip-house, flamingo, so I had to come back and do my roots: up-tempo hip-hop.

BB: The album starts out with a tribute to the Indian musical influences. That’s a nice nod to the heavy music production that happens across the world, and has been happening, but people don’t necessarily know about it or tune in to it. Do you play much multi-lingual hip-hop?
Most definitely. I have been playing hindi/punjabi mixes for a long time. I got all the movies and they love it in Africa—the roots of India is Africa too—it’s all one family, we all come from the drum. I play everything. France to Indian style. Spanish to Italiano. There’s different music that I play from different people, sometimes with the instrumentals, sometimes with the languages. In L.A. we was killin’ the hindi remix of Dr. Dre. I went down to Singapore they were going crazy with the hindi mixes.
We got to always respect each others’ culture. That’s my thing. When I travel, I go among the people, I visit different religious places, I go with spirituality. I am not one of them so-called stars that sits in the hotel and says “gimme this, gimme that, gimme a limousine”. I get in cars that are messed up. I go on the train and go visit ‘they houses, and that’s how I understand what’s going on from place to place. I even help out on certain interviews and things and ask everybody, “why don’t you have a community center for the youth?” and start causing a movement in the country to get certain things for the youth.
Travel is a blessing from the Creator, to be among all these different people and places, and to get that vibration, that’s what [gave] the record that vibe, a lot of people tell me the record is a feel-good record with the sitar and all that.

BB: From your span in music, you can talk to people through music—to anyone, of all generations, races, and places.
I just mix it all up, that’s what keeps the vibe going on that floor. Everything is based on that funk. If it ain’t funk, it ain’t happening. Gotta keep that funk alive.

BB: What other kinds of musical changes do you see happening in hip-hop?
I always tell people watch out, this is a very dirty game. James Brown once told me the music industry is 95% business and 5% entertainment. You always gotta be on your p’s and q’s cuz they did a lot of robbing of the early hip-hop groups, as well as the early soul, rock and roll, and reggae groups. It’s still going on now. Now with satellite [radio], it’s really crazy now. The internet’s going to wipe out a lot of stuff anyway, it’s wiping out a lot of these production studios. I did music with Muskabeatz and he came to NY and he did a whole album with me and the Biz Markie, Wu Tang and all in one day in a hotel room on a laptop, that bugged everybody out. People wasted all their crazy money going to a studio. Now you got ProTools.

BB: How do you embrace stuff like the internet and video?
We were always into what we called the electro or the technology side. When we came with Planet Rock in 1982 and we started traveling with all these synthesizers and beatboxes the unions got nervous and attacked us because a lottta people were losing their jobs. But who is better to program drum beats than a drummer? So learn the technology and don’t get mad at it. You’re always gonna have some purists. You’re gonna have people who wanna go with the digital age. It’s a balance between Yin and Yang, negative and positive, agreeable and the disagreeable.

Bayeté Ross-Smith: When you were actually making the songs for Planet Rock, did you have any idea that it could become the type of thing that moved so many people for so many years to come?
I thought it would do its thing for that year, grab a black and white community, then when I saw it snatch all different nationalities across the world it really blew my kind. Then we did the other two records after it, then we did World Destruction with Johnny Lydon of PIL. To see it still last this long and still played to death like it’s a new record and all these remixes you know that’s an honor in itself. I be amazed at how people just chop that record up in so many different ways and make it just as funky as the original.

Bella Bakrania: I’m scared to see how many records you have – you must have thousands just stockpiled. How do you manage? And only you must know where everything is.
They’re in the Dungeon, the Graveyard, and the Bat cave. If I can’t find it I just buy it again. You know that record All This Love by DeBarge? I bought that at least 5 or 6 times! ...I see it, snatch it up and hope it don’t get lost again. I be buggin’ that I can find some things. Most people are trying to run away from vinyl but thanks to hip-hop and dance deejays, they’ve kept it alive. A lot of companies are releasing a lot of these old groups again. Some of these groups are even starting to travel again cuz people are rediscovering the [their] music.

Eddie Mariano: As one of hip hop’s founding pioneers how do you feel about the state of hip hop today?
Well it’s good that you got a lot of brothers and sisters who are becoming millionaires or thousandaires. A lot of people are traveling outside of where they lived, if they lived in the ghetto or the suburb. People gotta look at these people that say hip-hop or these so called radio stations who claim to be hip-hop and R&B, that they really don’t know what hip-hop is, and when they’re playing records they just say “rap”. They forget about the deejays, emcees, breakers, aerosol graffiti writers, and even the fifth element, knowledge.
I think a lot of the rappers have always been saying say we got to form a united front where we can deal with our own problems, our own hip-hop police, and handle our own different beefs that people have, talking about westside/northside/eastside/southside and all that type of foolishness. To even watch the industry from trying to rob you and get some health benefits for a lot of the people that are in hip-hop, to take care of themselves or their family if they get sick.
If you’re gonna be a gangsta rapper, then you better have a gangsta doctor and a gangsta lawyer to take care of your gangsta ass, and a hip-hop judge to be there so when you go there you can throw your gangsta/hip-hop mix sign and symbols and you can get your gangsta ass off. If we are going to claim to be a nation and a culture internationally then we got to start thinking like that. We are seeing that Zulu Nation in this Millennium is all about law, finance, and gettin’ you some land, cuz things are gonna get real funky in this Millennium.

Bella Bakrania: It’s ugly. I feel like a lot of new hip-hop is dividing women and men, it’s just music for strip clubs with videos to match. It’s ugly for the kids.
That’s right. What is that teaching the young kids? You got a 4 year old talking about gettin’ down, “lemme go downtown and get low.” Some people got knowledge and know that but they’re being told they won’t sell music if they’re not doing this. So it’s up to the people to get the word in the street and to call these stations and complain, and hold these program directors accountable to the people. Clear Channel wanna run it by and control things, people gotta get in their ass. It’s coming back to that media monopoly. If we’re still sleeping in that Matrix state of dream, going into—as the Bible say—the Land of the Lord, then you will be taken for that slave and that zombie and next thing you know your mind will belong to the Television. And it’s gonna get deeper as time goes by.

Bam4step, originally uploaded by smallaxe.

الثلاثاء، كانون الثاني ١٠، ٢٠٠٦

Paris is Burning

Interview by Jesse Ducker

“Hip-Hop is at its best when it’s angry.”

During the early 1990s, Paris was just as angry and inflammatory as any Bay Area rapper out there. But for the Black Panther of hip-hop, it was anger with direction, not anger for anger's sake. With his Rakim-esque flow and dark and brooding soundscape, Paris verbally assaulted corrupt politicians, police, and racist institutions, on albums like The Devil Made Me Do It, Sleeping With the Enemy, and Guerilla Funk. They were all integral parts of the period when hip-hop tried to buck the system, rather than suck-up to it.

Paris was off the map through the late 1990s and the early 21st century, before storming back on the scene with a vengeance in 2003 with his Sonic Jihad. One of the boldest statements of the album was its cover, which depicts an airplane hurtling towards the White House, on a kamikaze mission. It was not the most subtle statement ever made, but it was certainly an angry one...

Soon after, Paris officially launched Guerilla Funk Records, sporting distribution through Groove Attack. He set out to using his label to release material by artists that the few surviving major labels were too scared to touch. Paris’ Guerilla Funk is now home to new records by legends such as Public Enemy, as well as a fresh battery of raging hip-hoppers, like dead prez. And he eventually plans to record a new album’s worth of material himself.

Paris plans on using his labels to put out positive, yet confrontational hip-hop. With a sharp perspective on the music business, media, corporate America, and politics, Paris is charging forward and taking no prisoners. And definitely staying angry.

Shout: So what’s coming out on Guerrilla Funk Records?
Paris: We’ve got the Public Enemy album, Rebirth of a Nation, which should be coming out on January 24. We’ve got an album by Kam, one by dead prez, one by T-Kash [Hard Knock Radio, The Coup]. Then we’ve got the Hard True Soldiers compilation with all those artists, plus MC Ren, Immortal Technique, Everlast, and Conscious Daughters.

How did Public Enemy end up putting out an album on Guerilla Funk?
Chuck D had a few guest verses on the Sonic Jihad album. I’ve known them for years, so we just worked something out so that they’d put out an album through Guerilla Funk. It was first going to come out this summer, but we held on for a bit. Now we’re going to release it in early 2006 with a few extra songs.

The community of positive rappers is small. There are a few of us out there that can come and say what we say. And there’s only a handful that do it well and I respect as artists. You can say what you say, but that doesn’t make it good listening.

What was it like working with Public Enemy?
Working on the Public Enemy album was a labor of love. They’re responsible for a lot of people out there rapping right now. And I’m of course a huge fan of their work.

I think the album is one of their best since at least Fear of Black Planet. Maybe since It Takes A Nation of Millions. The way I came at them, I was like, ‘I haven’t felt some of the music you guys have been putting out.’ So I told them if you allow me to have creative control, we can put out this album and I’ll break you off financially. So I produced and wrote everything for Rebirth. There’s only a stigma of ghostwriting if you let there be one. It’s not like Celine Dion writes all her lyrics. She has songwriters writing her material for her. So it went well; Chuck and Griff got in there and kicked their lyrics, and it came out sounding great.

So just to be clear, you wrote all of the lyrics for Rebirth of Nation?
Yeah, but that’s not something we’re hiding.

So how would you describe the state of hip-hop music right now?
The sad reality is that artists adjust their music to what labels are looking for. And most major labels want music that will appeal to a large audience. They want escapist material. So you get all these artists making records that haven’t paid dues and are in the game for the wrong reasons.

But corporate America keeps on trying to sell panic in hip-hop music. It’s a subtle type of racism. The music that they market that’s intended for a wide audience is negative and relies on negative imagery to sell. There’s a wider appeal on spending money. So after a while, the streets only want what the corporations are presenting.

The writing has been on the wall for a while. Hip-hop is just about making money to these labels. There’s no drive to create good albums. Now all you have is a single-driven environment, and its sold to the public as the lowest common denominator. The music is made so that it’s palatable to everyone.

So how does that make you feel, as someone who came up in a different time for this music and someone who runs their own label?
I don’t trip off of what other labels are doing. Labels are adversarial. I set up my own separate entity. It takes pressure off of what we do.

My label is for anybody that’s fed-up with music now. Fed-up with how music has been turned into a commodity. Tired of the constant drone. Tired of the cookie-cutter approach to music. They want more. I’d like to believe that the music that transcends the hypocrisy is on Guerilla Funk.

So when you sign an artist to Guerilla Funk, how do things work?
First of all, I don’t have any artists “signed” to Guerilla Funk. I pay for everything, and let everybody be a free spirit. I just ask that they don’t put out music that’s exploitive or negative. If an artist feels comfortable with the label after they’ve recorded the album, they’re free to come back. But we don’t sign anybody to deals or anything. A lot of the artists are shell-shocked by their experiences on other labels when they come to us.”

So are you surprised with all the trouble that George is facing now as President?
Bush has been an ass for years. You can tell that from watching Fahrenheit 9/11. That movie was a two-hour window of truth. But it’s going up against 24hour news network like FOX News that can spend all of its time making false accusations against it. So they will have more effect on the opinions of people who watch the network.

Does George Bush care about Black people?
George Bush doesn’t care about most people. If you’re not his neighbor or giving money to his campaign, he doesn’t give a damn about you.

How do you see what you do as being part of the solution?
The Sonic Jihad album cover was intended to be inflammatory. I was the first to be up front with it. The album was a hard-truth cocktail. My records are my tool and my weapon against the system. It’s necessary to push buttons like that. On the intended cover of Sleeping With the Enemy, I was hiding in a tree, waiting to assassinate the first George Bush. That’s envelope-pushing. You’re not getting that from a lot of acts out there. I could give a fuck less if people like it or don’t like it.

I’ll tell you this: protesting in the streets is an exercise in futility. People don’t even notice it. Now if Scalia comes up floating in the river, I bet people would notice that.

الأحد، كانون الثاني ٠٨، ٢٠٠٦

Letters to the Editor 5.1

SHOUT recently ran a critical review of local emceee Nate Mezmer's Kill the Precedent. SHOUT will run critical reviews from time to time because an artist may rarely get such feedback from friends and family. So we do our best to ensure such reviews are constructive, and maybe a little funny. Mezmer took offense to this review, so we decided to run both sides of the argument here for your consideration...

EDITOR'S NOTE: Ms. Starlight has respectfully declined Mr. Mezmer's offer for writing lessons.

POINT: By Dusty Starlight
Threatening to kill George Bush, either directly or metaphorically, does not a revolutionary make. Kill the Precedent, Nate Mezmer’s self-described 'call to arms' features over a dozen indistinguishable tracks and one ill-advised anti-war ballad. Mezmer's rhymes, delivered in a grating cadence and laid over simplistic beats, veer from political rage to club-calls for the ladies to feel it in their 'g-spots.' Mezmer's energy is impressive, but what he lacks in range or original ideas he makes up for in mimicry and imitation. Simply put, Mezmer will have something to say one day; he just needs to do his homework.

I understand that a writer is free to say what they want, but as a magazine (that seems to want credibility) you should make sure YOUR writers are on point.

From the beginning the 'title' of my album is completely misinterpreted, which leads me to believe he/she did not really listen to the words, or understand the lyrics? Furthermore, the first sentence of the review is grammatically incorrect and makes no sense whatsoever. Next, the fact that one of my tracks (Bound For Glory) is called an "ill-advised" anti-war song leads me to believe that the writer either doesnt know what "ill-advised" means or that he/she is an advocate of the war in Iraq! After that, he/she calls one of my tracks (Make It Hot 451) a club call to the ladies because it refers to "g-spots" in the hook, However the entire track is about performing hip-hop live at a show and basically crushing wack mc's who rhyme for the loot. I guess he/she didnt get that?

Finally, right after he/she blatantly disses me by stating that im unoriginal and also an immitation, it is written that "Mezmer will have something to say one day; he just needs to do his homework." My question to you and your staff is, are YOU doing your homework? Im of the few MC's in the bay area right now doing anything with hip-hop and social change!!! Besides Boots from The Coup (who is on your cover) and a handful of others, there arent that many cats out there right now doing it like that.

YOU DO LIST Adisa Banjoko as one of YOUR 'Scribes,' well here is what THE BISHOP had to say about my album:
"In a world of fake thugs and overmarketed MC's, its great to hear an artist like Nate Mezmer bring the real essence back to hip-hop."

Finally, your magazine asks the question of "where the left goes wrong" and then saves a page at the back addressing the Tookie Williams execution and 'solidarity.' Well, If this review of my album is any example of a magazine that has anything to do with the left, it is clear that something has gone wrong. DO YOUR HOMEWORK and i'll keep doing mine.



PS_If 'Starlight' needs any writing lessons tell him/her to peep my article on Tookie!