Speech, frontman for Multi-Platinum selling Arrested Development, talks Hip Hop and Music Industry
In 1992, Speech, along with his group Arrested Development, went on to receive countless accolades including two Grammy Awards and being named Band of the Year by Rolling Stone Magazine for the ground breaking “3 Years, 5 Months, and 2 Days in the Life of…” The album launched the band into stardom with constant video and radio rotation for their hit "Tennessee," and later for singles "People Everyday" and "Mr. Wendal." The funky and soulful blend of Hip Hop and R&B delivered socially conscious music in a manner that was palatable to the masses. Despite being adorned with admiration by ...
Talking with entertainment mogul Ice Cube: The “Are We There Yet” interview
When it comes to the pinnacle of entertainment, Mr. O'Shea Jackson, better known as Ice Cube to the world, arrived quite a while ago. As a performer, he's transcended from Hip Hop legend to movie star, all while maintaining credibility in both worlds. As an entertainment entrepreneur, he's successfully conquered the music, film, and now television industries. Counting the "Friday" and "Barbershop" movies, "Are We There Yet" is his third franchise film. This time, he's delivered one of his popular major motion picture properties to TV. The family-oriented sitcom stars Terry Crews (known best as Chris Rock's father on "Everybody ...
STYLES P (All-new, 2nd interview) by Dirty Angel
WITH A FRESH START, STYLES P READIES "SUPER" NEW ALBUM
By Khalid Strickland a.k.a. Dirty Angel
The streets may now rejoice...
When I first interviewed Styles P, around this same time last year coincidentally, the self-proclaimed “hardest rapper out” wasn’t in the best of moods. Although Styles’ sophomore album, “Time is Money”, was set to be released on Interscope Records, the moment was bittersweet. That’s because his excellent solo debut album, “A Gangster and a Gentleman”, had been released four years earlier in 2002. With the airtight singles like “Good Times” and “The Life” (featuring Pharaoh Monch) getting burn on the airwaves, Styles ...
Sharon Jones Reminded Me Why I Like Music
Sharon Jones is one of the most inspirational artists on the show circuit. It’s not just her soulful voice, nor is it her hard and heavy dancing on stage, nor her soothing retro sounds that are reminiscent of class acts such as ‘60’s female groups The Shirelles, The Marvelettes, The Dixie Cups, and others, that makes her such a powerful inspiration. Even Jones’ uncanny, pure energy and movements, that seem to be channeled from the late James Brown, don't make her such a rousing figure. The inspiration is her story: A struggling singer who worked at a state prison as ...
KILLAH PRIEST interview by Dirty Angel
KILLAH PRIEST: AT THE TOP OF HIS GAME WITH LATEST "OFFERING"
By Khalid Strickland a.k.a. Dirty Angel
Brooklyn wins again.
After their legendary movement avalanched hip-hop’s landscape, the Wu-Tang Clan assisted a lion’s share of rappers who have gained notoriety on their own merit. Killah Priest, hailing from Bed-Stuy Brooklyn, is one of these alumni. Priest (as he prefers being called now) made his memorable debut in 1994 on “6 Feet Deep”, the first LP by The Gravediggaz (a group spearheaded by Wu-Tang Clan leader The RZA). In 1995, he appeared on two classic Wu-Tang solo albums: “Liquid Swords” by The GZA and ...
Julian Lennon discusses his new company, career, and the music industry
Insomniac Magazine recently participated in an interview with Julian Lennon to discuss his new release and a brand new company called theRevolution LLC. Lennon and music industry professionals Michael Birch (sold Bebo to AOL for $850 million) and Todd Meaghe (created the first 50/50 artist music store) started the company as a new approach to releasing music and working with artists. The company scouts talent, and then helps set up these artists with their own businesses. The company assists the artists with a variety of business endeavors including: finance, development, digital and physical distribution, promotion, and other important aspects ...
Teena Marie interview: The late, great soul legend discusses her love for, and life in, music.
In honor of the great Teena Marie, below is an interview conducted with her. During our talk, she shares her love for music and discusses a lifetime of creating it. It was with sadness that we learned of her passing, however, we were blessed to have had the opportunity to hear her story first hand. There is no question that her songs will be rediscovered by future generations of music fans seeking soulful inspiration.
Teena Marie Interview
In a day and age of commodity artists who are forgotten shortly after a year or so of a radio hit, and ...
Family Man Barrett of Bob Marley’s Wailers (interview)
Aston "FamilyMan" Barrett, the bassist for the legendary Wailers is responsible for the basslines and other creative elements on many of Bob Marley and the Wailers' classic songs. We discuss his thoughts about why Bob Marley and The Wailers' music continues to resonate with fans decades after its creation. He also discusses his thoughts on current state of music, and how he met and started working with Bob Marley. Yvad, the Wailers' Band's new vocalist shares his views on the power of Bob Marley and the Wailers' music.
Whether you're a musician or an artist, if you aspire to have a ...
Charlie Murphy interview: Big Name in the Stand Up Game
Although Charlie Murphy has appeared in countless films since the late ‘80s, there’s no getting around that most fans started to really get to know him during and after his appearances on The Dave Chappelle Show. Charlie’s skits, some based on his telling of real-life encounters with celebrities while he worked security in the early days of his younger brother’s career, have become larger than the show itself. Plays of some of Charlie’s segments on Chappelle’s show have exceeded the million-view mark on Youtube.com. There are very few people who follow pop culture that haven’t heard the words “I’m ...
What you can learn from harpist Merry Miller about succeeding in the music industry
Merry Miller is an extraordinary artist and businesswoman. Don’t take my word for it, she was named in Crain's New York Business magazine “40 Under 40” issue. She is the former Executive Vice President of Programming at the Learning Annex, and instrumental in building the organization’s revenue from $3 million to $100 million in three years. During that time, she coordinated visits from the who’s who of business and entertainment. She’s coordinated visits from some of the biggest leaders in the business, from Donald Trump to Russell Simmons. If that’s not impressive enough, Elle magazine named her one of the ...
Nomar Slevik has been an artist for a longtime. His first LP “Paper Bullets – An Album Of Duets” dropped in 2004 but he was doing his thing and cultivating his skills way before that. And just when you think he’s hit his artistic peak with each subsequent album or project, he ups the ante proving that he is an extreme talent with no ceiling. For those who don’t know, Nomar is also a paranormal expert that dabbles in Cryptozoology among other things. A lot of what Slevik is about as a person is reflected in his music, which makes him very accessible to the listener. “The Healing Process” is just that, a look into how Nomar the man, views life’s situations.
Nomar Slevik is a poet first and foremost but at times can be a lyrical gunslinger if need be, “Microphones” being the prime example where he trades verses with Canadian emcee Hobs Sputnik on the track. That makes his music something you need listen to when in the mood and even if you are not into poetry in general, there will be some pieces out there that just get to you. This happens with tracks like “Problem Solver” and “The Last Broadcast”.
Most of charm on “The Healing Process” certainly lies in its elusiveness, both on the part of the artist and the album itself. Nevertheless, this is dark, melancholic, brooding or simply raw, the lyrics are not a mere addition of one or two liners, but they are expressing thoughts that can span over a whole verse or even longer, and that are at least as much for the artist’s relief, as they are for your listening enjoyment. If you are not willing to follow NS’s every word, this album offers you enough music to get lost in whether it be based on the unknown (UFO’s, Bigfoot etc.) or a form of introspection. You can even be lured by the sometimes brash/sing song flow, letting the melodic voice be another instrument on the tracks like the beautiful pairing of Slevik and Neila on “Silhouettes”.
Slevik gives us a view of the world through his eyes. He does it in a heartfelt, skillful, and tactful manner, if not super compelling. His production often shows flashes of brilliance as exemplified on ”Determined Birdfall,” ”Re (un)real become,” ”Legend of Forever,” ” and ”Song of the Damned (Remix).” Nomar Slevik complements the angular production with remarkable effortlessness, boasting devastatingly intricate and distinct deliveries that celebrate the boundlessness of rap as a creative medium. Pick this up immediately if you enjoy self-reflecting, lyric heavy poetry, hard to grasp, intelligence demanding, abstract, dark, gloomy and quasi-boom bap hip hop.
”The Healing Process” is a brilliant, transcendent record that surpasses its peers; years ahead of its time both stylistically and musically and completely irrespective of the bullcrap/reality TV rap wave dominating our current airwaves. This album has substance but, one must imagine that somewhere in the end of this “Healing Process” that was poured over in sweat and blood, that Nomar has found some part of himself or recovered some of that “Faith.” Support Nomar Slevik by purchasing “The Healing Process” @ http://www.milledpavement.com/MP052.html. Bless C73Eternal
The business of Hip Hop is full of eclectic characters. Dan Charnas gives us a VIP All Access Pass to the inner workings of the business of Hip Hop with complete insight into many of the accompanying characters. From the early beginnings of Hip Hop with Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa – Hip Hop as we know it has continuously evolved. The genre once considered to be a fad, has now become an integral part of pop music. Hip Hop created moguls and continue to generate billions of dollars on a worldwide level.
Entrepreneurship in Hip Hop has contributed significantly to the bottom line of a growing community of artists, producers, managers, writers, label owners, publicist and other stakeholders. From artists/executives like Jay Z, Cash Money’s Baby and Slim Williams, P Diddy, Dr Dre, Nelly, Ice Cube, 50 Cent, RZA, Eminem, Ice T, and Master P – Hip Hop has generated fortunes for a long line of people…It is virtually impossible to escape the reach of Hip Hop’s influence…even in the mainstream media. From clothing, news shows, to commercials etc., the power of Hip Hop has transcended the bowels of urban ghettos.
The Big Payback: The History of The Hip Hop Business is a comprehensive piece of literature. I would dare say…it is a scholarly work that should be required reading. It should be in the hands of every Hip Hopper and anyone else that thirsts to understand the people behind the business of Hip Hop.
Music industry magazine Insomniac was provided an exclusive interview with the author for this story. Dan Charnas has competently chronicled the business of Hip Hop and the charismatic figures that created a movement responsible for generating billions in revenues. Ladies and gentleman, let’s jump into the Hip Hop business interview:
Hip Hop pioneers don’t get the same respect as other music genre pioneers. Some would say rappers and Hip Hop heads in general do not respect their elders?
I am going to be honest with. I don’t know if that is true. I think the feuding is true because I think there are some people in Hip Hop…younger people… who don’t know their history…who don’t care about their history…who don’t give a damn about anything that happened before the year 2000…people I run into, who don’t know who Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons are…and don’t particularly care. There are some people who don’t know Young Money came from Cash Money. You gotta remember, Hip Hop is pop music now. When you move from the outskirt to the mainstream, you have a pool of fans that didn’t exist before. Pop fans are always fickle…they are not really deep. You probably remember when there was so few of us, a lot of us knew each other, we relived and cataloged things in our mind, remembered mix tapes we heard, remembered records we tried to find, remembered concerts that we saw…I think, among the core audience, there is a tremendous respect for the past. The only friction comes when you have a new generation who wants to break a bit from the past because they think the past is corny…music itself has become so disposable. How do you collect sh*t that comes to you for free? We use to collect records…now you get them for free. Why collect? What’s the value?
A lot of the new heads don’t even know what a record is…they don’t know anything about vinyl.
As a Hip Hop researcher, what significant parallels do you see between Hip Hop and Rock & Roll?
Hip Hop is for all intent and purposes Rock & Roll. It served the same social functions as Rock & Roll did in the 50’s and 60’s. It is the heir to Rock & Roll. It inherited Rock & Roll’s place in our culture. It was a bridge between Black culture…Black people and White youth. It was a bridge for a certain amount of understanding and knowledge. It also became the foremost youth pop culture of America.
Moving on to Ice-T – Do you believe Ice T capitulated or did he just decide to do the realistic thing and move forward during the cop killer controversy?
No, none of my reporting led me to believe anything other than the fact it was a genuine move by Ice T to protect his own reputation and to protect his friends…I never got anything from Ice’s camp or from Warner Brothers that he was ever pressured directly by the record company to remove the record. The only discussion about removing it was before the album was released…and the person who suggested it was voted down by the executives of the company…He didn’t want Warner Brothers to continue to have bomb threats on his behalf and him not wanting to become a one trick pony…and a one issue artist. There were repercussions for him and for other artist down the line because it became easier to spook people.
I remember back in the day when WBLS actually stopped playing Hip Hop. What do you believe was the effect of that decision on Hip Hop?
I don’t want to single out BLS. Let’s just talk about Black radio in general. This is one of the reasons I wrote this book. Do you remember the tsunami song when Ms. Info got into a fight with Ms. Jones. There were demonstrations in front of Hot 97. (People were saying)…They are just using Hip Hop for profit! They basically accused Emmis of trying to degrade people of color for profit. The fact of the matter is, it did not happen that way. The reason Hip Hop ended up at pop stations is because Black radio simply refused to play it. They look down on the artist…they call it a ghetto thing…
I remember back in the day on WNWK…105.9…they use to have shows like Kevin Keith & The Dirty Dozen. I was a member of that show.
They use to be on Broadway. Every Saturday night we use to be up there. Do you remember Hank Love and Half Pint?
I use to give them checks every week.
Also, there were other shows like the Awesome Two. These guys were very valuable in pushing Hip Hop throughout the tri-state area. What is your view of the influence of these types of Hip Hop shows?
They were indispensable back in the day…completely indispensable.
Absolutely, I would agree with that. What is your view of Russell Simmons and his influence over the business of Hip Hop?
CROP CIRCLES720- EX-IS-TEN-TIAL-ISMEchoes of Oratory Muzik
West Coast Hip Hop specifically California has a deep and stoic history. It hit its peak around the mid 90’s and was very much a part of HH’s golden era with artists emerging out of every crevice in Cali. After this period, the culture began to expand domestically and globally, but a shift began where mainstream and commercialism completely took over and many lines were blurred. Although this shift hurt Hip Hop as a whole, authenticity from the underground still prevailed. Artists were still putting out material, but had to be more clever as far as making money off of their craft. Today, with creative marketing/advertisement and building a loyal fan base, artists don’t have to struggle as much. Enter Crop Circles720, a group of young hungry artists on an up and coming indie label named Echoes of Oratory Muzik who use social media among other tactics to spread their message.
Comprised of members like Ailments a.k.a. The Word Man, Clockwize, Artformz a.k.a. Arty Swell, Subtrax and Nat Key Cole, the group came together rhyming on the ill streets of La Puente Cali. In 2004, they released their debut LP “Organized Suicide” and although it didn’t garner the attention it deserved, it was an extremely dope album. The latest release “Existentialism” is a 16-track monster that ups the ante from their previous release. It still has a dark/abstract tone but this time they chose to add more elements and injected more melody without sacrificing who they are. Their styles as individuals are almost incomparable. Though the member’s styles are strikingly different from each other, on this full-length, they have some of the best group chemistry you’ll ever hear.
The intro track typifies that Crop Circles720 sound, but it’s “Cypha 720” that relies heavily on a few but effective layers: a simple and static-laden drum beat, classic yet off-kilter strings and an additional beat line; something akin to what you would hear from Freestyle Fellowship, but with more structure. The stellar production was provided by Abomination Oner, 1985R, Roger Moll’s, Nameless, Vitality and Frank John James. While it seems like a basic equation, the combinations in which each producer creates and arranges the tracks suffice for several production gems. In considering this, the combo of the production with the emcees (like cameos from Memphis Reigns, Neila, Acid reign, Snagneto, Oddeo and Verbal ILL), works well through out the album. Overall each track gets you well acquainted with the group and their psyche.
I like music that provides a gritty, dark introspection, provided it’s done well. The main emcees rap with unfettered fire, attacking everything from social issues to the music industry. Without a doubt, CC720’s work is something to explore deeply, especially for the wonderful sounds generated lyrically and production-wise. For those with patience and a sense of superior hip-hop, “Existentialism” cannot be ignored. It is simply too remarkable. Support Crop Circles720 by visiting their site and BUYING the LP @ http://eoomuzik.bandcamp.com/album/existentialism. Bless C73 Eternal
Run DMC and Aerosmith and Bill Adler (rear) (courtesy of Rizzoli)
I first spoke with Bill Adler in the 80′s when I was just a kid trying to get insight into the entertainment industry. I would call the label that he worked at, and he’d take time to talk. Decades later, in this interview, Bill continues to generously share. What’s changed since those early days, is that the nascent genre of music that he worked on building awareness for so long ago has since become one of the most popular in the world, and immensely important economically to the whole of the music industry. Culturally, the label Adler helped build awareness for so many years ago, has become one of the most powerful and important due to its roster of iconic artists that are known to millions. As Head of Publicity, first for Russell Simmons’ Rush Productions, and then, upon its inception, for Def Jam, Adler’s role was vital in helping to get the word out to the universe about up and coming superstars such as Run DMC, LL Cool J, The Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Slick Rick, and countless others. Although the man who also served as Vice President of Media Relations for Island Records is quite humble when asked about his great undertakings, it’s clear that proper presentation to media outlets about the story of each of these (at the time) new artists, in a genre that wasn’t quite accepted as a legitimate music, was an immensely important part in the launching of their careers.
Def Jam Recordings: The First 25 Years of the Last Great Record Label, a book that Adler co-authored to help tell the oral and visual story of Hip Hop’s most prominent record label, provides amazing insight from a who’s who of important players. From founding partners Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin, to many of the company’s key executives, and even the legendary artists themselves, this book provides a wealth of first hand accounts of those early days of Def Jam, and, in many ways, the genre itself. Visually, the book is comprised of some of the most amazing photographs of Def Jam’s vital players, truly giving an inside historical perspective of the label that helped shape and introduce Hip Hop to the mainstream.
Chuck D on megaphone from the classic video for "Fight The Power" from Public Enemy (courtesy of Rizzoli)
Legendary in his own right, in this in-depth and candid interview, Adler discusses this impressive new book, while openly providing a distinct glimpse into the early days at the label. He shares his great wealth of knowledge about music, media, and his experiences working with Hip Hop’s most celebrated record label from its infancy to dominance of pop culture globally. Let’s begin:
I: If we could go back toward the beginning and talk a little bit about your first encounter with Russell and Rick.
BA: I met Russell first. Really, I was an employee of…Rush Productions before I was an employee of Def Jam, and that’s only because I started working with Rush just a few months before the establishment of Def Jam. The first Def Jam records came in the fall of ’84 and I was working with Russell at Rush Productions in late June of ’84. I met Russ because I was a freelance writer in New York in the early ‘80’s…in the fall of 1980, I did a story for the Daily News about Kurtis Blow who had a national hit called “The Breaks” and I started to hear at the time about Kurt’s manager, a young man named Russell Simmons. In early ’83 I did a story for People Magazine about Disco Fever in the Bronx, and it was Russ who put me on to Disco Fever. That wasn’t supposed to be the crux of the story. It wasn’t supposed to be the subject of the story. I was going to do something more broad, more general, but that place was so compelling I said well I’ll tell the story about Hip Hop by concentrating on this one venue and this one kind of energy center.
In any case, Russell then was, not unlike the way he is now, it’s just that he knew less people. You know, Russell is a world-beatingly charming. He’s got blazing charisma, blazing intelligence, a great sense of humor, and was animated by the sense of mission which was to do work on behalf of this emerging culture called Hip Hop. So he made a big impression on me in ’83 and I stayed in touch with him. Then in ’84, it was going to be a presidential election and Ronald Reagan was up for reelection, and I was not a fan of Reagan, and my idea was well you know I’m trying to think of my own little way, what can I do to derail his presidency or forestall his getting reelected. What I did was I wrote a rap. An anti-Reagan rap and I wrote it with Kurtis Blow in mind because Kurt didn’t write all of his own rhymes. So I thought well I’ll write it and Kurt can rap it, and I brought it to his manager namely Russ. The two of us get to talking and I don’t think he thought much of my rhymes, but he liked me well enough and the two of us got to talking. He kind of flattered me into a job, and so I started working with him.
[Sound clip of Bill Adler answering a question about the making and significance of "Walk This Way."]
BA: Then it was after that that I met Rick; very shortly after I started working with Russ, I met Rick.
I: Please talk to me a little bit about possibly your first encounter with Rick, and what was your first impression of Rick?
BA: Rick Rubin-I don’t remember my first encounter per se. The thing about Rick is that even then he was relatively reclusive. When I first met him, he was still a student at NYU and living in a dorm there. Not long after, within a year, he moved out and he took a place in Lower Manhattan. He never had an office, and he never kept office hours. He was basically a studio rat; then and now. That’s really kind of how and where he spent his life, in recording studios. It sort of the same now, he shuttles between his lovely house in Malibu and various studios, and of course he’s got studios built into his place in Malibu. I will say this in terms of his demeanor, he was much-as the book says. [In the book] Adam Horowitz talks about Rick’s demeanor then. Rick’s basic style was kind of very much taken or inspired by professional wrestling, and characters like Captain Lou Albano, which is to say that he was a screamer and he was loud and aggressive in a kind of comical way. That’s how he was then. He’s not that way now. Now he’s gone 180 degrees in the other direction. He’s very soft spoken… But that’s the way he was then.
I: Right. Let’s talk a little bit about Hip Hop. You mentioned Kurtis Blow; obviously one of the forefathers of Hip Hop and definitely one of the first artists to make a significant name for himself and professionally recordings in the Hip Hop genre. What attracted you to the genre at the time and what were you listening to before you got involved in Hip Hop?
BA: I can’t be coy about this. I’m about to turn 60 years old. In December I’m going to be 60, and by the time I started working with all these Hip Hopers, I was already in the summer of 1984 I’m already 32 years old. So I’m six years older than Russell, I’m whatever it would be, nine years older than Rick. When I started working in ’84, Run DMC those guys are 19 and 20 years old, LLCool J signs up he’s 16. I’m much older than everybody that I’m working with. It’s not surprising to understand that I’ve got a history that pre-dates Hip Hop. I was a music lover. I started playing trombone as a ten year old in a band, and then I was magnetized by the Beatles when they hit in ’64. I was swept up by the music of the day like anybody else. I think probably I felt a little more passionately because really music has been my life ever since. I’m a ‘60’s guy. By the early ‘70’s, when I’m in my early 20’s, I had worked on the radio… Almost every job I ever had was kind of music related.
I worked as a clerk and then a manager at a record store. I worked as a DJ for college radio and then professionally. I started writing about music and that seemed to gain me a little traction. So I worked for an underground newspaper in Ann Arbor, and then I took a job full-time at the Boston Herald in Boston as the pop music critic. I was writing about whatever struck my fancy. In effect, I was my own editor. My tastes were very broad. Broad enough to do that job, so I was going to pay attention to what was happening pop-wise, but I was also going to write about the jazz of the day or stuff that wasn’t current necessarily, or stuff that was left field that struck my fancy. During that time, so 1979 and I’m in Boston and I’m paying attention to what’s going on, and “Rapper’s Delight” comes out that fall and it was phenomenal. It was a great, great record but also it seemed to mean more than the record itself because it was a little bit different…in other words in terms of genre because nobody was singing. You know they were rapping, and also the thing was fifteen minutes long.
There was a three minute edit but nobody bothered to play it on the radio. Every single time you heard it on the radio, the entire fifteen minute song was played which was completely remarkable. I dug it, and I bought it and I started listening to it. I moved to New York July 1, 1980. And by that fall I was freelancing and because I’d dug Sugar Hill Gang, I noticed when Kurt had his hit. Actually what happened was I was still in Boston when he put out a “Christmas Rappin’”. “Christmas Rappin’” was a remarkable record because you didn’t hear it until ten minutes before Christmas. Somehow it just entered the market kind of late and they were still playing it in March; a Christmas song. Just because it was so magnetic. This stuff was so intrinsically sexy. A year later I’m in New York and Kurt has the Breaks, and I went to the Daily News and persuaded them to do a story about Kurtis and so it went on from there.
I: What do you think it is the kinship between those Hip Hop and Punk music? People like [Malcolm] McLaren and the Clash and Blondie. That has dissipated. There was somewhat of a bond, if nothing else, in the spirit of the music that I don’t see today. Can you address that?
BA: What happened was the two scenes were very small, and they were kind of sub-cultural. It seems to me on both sides that divide, the Punk Rock and Hip Hop side there were a very few forward thinking individuals who were able to bridge the divide. On the Hip Hop side somebody like Fab 5 Freddie who had the social range to hang out at CBGB’s as well as uptown and downtown at the Hip Hop spots. He was going to imagine similarities between two cultures and make friends on both sides of that divide. On the Punk Rock side, it seems to me it was mostly English people who were able to make a kind of connection. So you had McLaren, and McLaren was put on to it by Cool Lady Blue and maybe Michael Holman somehow. My friend Janette Beckman is an English photographer who moved to New York in ’83 or so, and she’d documented the Punk Rock scene and then kind of emerging New Wave scene in London up until that time when she came to New York, and kind of began to become exposed to this new Hip Hop scene, she thought that the similarities were a kind of rebelliousness. I guess a kind of like a “fuck you” attitude in both cultures that tied them together in her mind.
I: Obviously the Beastie Boys seemed to have seamlessly moved from one genre to the other, almost effortlessly.
BA: Well that’s because, Horowitz talks about that. Just that in the downtown clubs at that time the DJs-there was no kind of strict respecting of genre. Radio was so corny at the time. It was so straight-laced. Each format was, I called it box but it was more like a coffin. But if you were in downtown New York at the time, you could hear Punk Rock and you’d also hear the rap records that were being played then. The jocks had that kind of range. They could program that kind of music, side by side. It wasn’t discomforting, it wasn’t disconcerting, it wasn’t disjunctive, it made sense. And Horowitz was just a little teenager going to the parties, underage, and listening to it and absorbing it all. It certainly didn’t seem remarkable to him because it was just part of the mix. Along these lines, let me say something about [Afrika] Bambaataa. He is the archetypal Hip Hop DJ, which is to say he has gigantic ears, and he was also somebody who was no respecter of genre. He was a guy who looked for danceable funk in all kinds of music, and he would find it everywhere. Notably “Planet Rock” is built out of Kraftwork’s “Trans Europe Express.”
He made that work for himself. By 1981, he was a solidifying Hip Hop’s affection for rock, or Hip Hop cannibalizing of rock. In any case, he was no snob and he was no square. He was a guy who could hear…he was just somebody who liked all kinds of music which was basically the way musicians listen to the music anyway. The average consumer, I suppose somebody who’s dull, figures well I’m White and I’m going to like rock music or whatever these dark-skinned people do, that doesn’t speak to me. It’s a retarded kind of attitude, and likewise there are Black folks who think if it’s rock-n-roll, these crazy white kids with their guitars and I don’t know what the hell they’re talking about, and fuck them. Mostly, if you’re a music lover, you’re going to find connections between all kinds of music. You’re going to follow those connections and you’re going to follow those leads, and your life is going to be enriched. How about that?
The Beastie Boys and Rick Rubin (courtesy of Rizzoli)
BA: Bambaataa had that attitude in spades and he really created the blueprint for every other Hip Hop DJ and hip hop producer in history. All of them come out of Bambaataa.
I: Obviously, Def Jam’s initial artists and first roster was definitely diverse, distinct, and unique, and tapped into so many different sounds. Do you think that we’ve kind of gone backwards as a genre in regards to it now being very stereotypical? Do you feel that we’re back in that coffin? You’re not going to listen to urban radio and hear a punk record, yet back then, you might hear someone on WKTU mix something like Queen with a Grand Master Flash record. Do you think we’ve gone backwards? [click to continue…]