For Those Who Can't Sleep On Hip Hop

There are countless of hidden gems from amazing artists that impacted the genre, and for a multitude of reasons– politics, resources, and possibly the stars not aligning at that given time– they didn’t receive the full acknowledgement that their music deserved. This happens in all genres, Hip Hop is no exception. The Troubleneck Brothers dropped into the scene during mid 90′s with a hard-edged sound that boasted their love of the art form we call Hip Hop. If you claim Hip Hop, don’t sleep on TNB.


Rap music has moved a universe away from the philosophy that Hip Hop was built upon. No amount of perceived street cred will make some of the drivel that’s been co-opted by the masses authentic Hip Hop. When in doubt, check in with the caretakers and true masters- go back to the essence. Every era has had its share of true Hip Hop, however, mostly, it’s overshadowed by rap void of substance. During the early nineties when the masses bought into acts like MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice as the real thing, a group called Poor Righteous Teachers flew nearly unnoticed by mainstream media. Since those days, fluffy rap has lost it’s Hip Hop card, and instead, for the better part of the last two decades, what’s passed off as Hip Hop has evolved into a culture of flaunting wealth, overt debauchery, and a constant air of illicitness. Once again, check in with the originators. Go back to GrandMaster Flash and the Furious Five’s “The Message.” It’s as relevant today, as it was three decades ago. Check in with Run DMC’s “You’re Blind” or “Hard Times,” those songs’ meanings not only still hold up, but speak volumes about what Hip Hop was born to do- speak for the voiceless and uplift, not degrade.

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Don’t get rap and Hip Hop confused. Here’s a bit of the latter. You’ll notice it’s meant to uplift. Here’s just one of PRT’s documents of true Hip Hop as found on YouTube:

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I Love Your T-Shirt is a site/blog that supports Artists who are on that DIY (Do It Yourself) grind by reviewing their apparel design(s) and driving traffic to those looking to throw their hat into the fashion industry arena. What I think is awesome about the site other than the fact that it supports small up and coming businesses, it also allows those small independent companies to post products, updates, etc, for FREE. Not many sites/blogs allow such freedom without wanting something in return. If you have a product line head to their site ASAP and talk to Ray.

Here’s the scoop:

Recently, teamed up with Mohawk Valley Trading Company to provide info on a healthy alternative. The Mohawk Valley Trading Company is giving away one Maple Syrup T-Shirt with each order of their 32 oz. glass bottle of maple syrup from 12/16/13 thru 12/23/13 with the “Promo Code 111213”.The t-shirt is a Gildan, G200 6.1 oz. Ultra Cotton® T-Shirt made in 100% preshrunk cotton with a Direct To Garment Printed (DTG) image of The Mohawk Valley Trading Company Maple Syrup label and URL on the back.


Next to honey, maple syrup is the most popular natural sweetener in North America and its production predates European colonization. Early Native American societies in Canada and the northeastern United States were distilling maple tree sap making maple syrup and sugar before those geographic boundaries existed. Maple sugar is made from the controlled crystallization of maple syrup and takes several forms. There is no written record of the first syrup production but several native legends persist. Many tribes celebrated the short maple sap collection season with specific rituals.

The Native Americans collected maple sap from v-shaped notches carved into maple trees. The sap was diverted into birch bark buckets using bark or reeds. It was concentrated by placing hot stones into the buckets or by freezing the sap and removing the ice, which is composed only of water.
Sugar maple sap is preferred for maple syrup production because it has an average sugar content of two percent. Sap from other maple species is usually lower in sugar content, and about twice as much is needed to produce the same amount of finished syrup.
When Europeans reached northeastern America they adapted native techniques to make their own maple syrup. The v-shaped notches were replaced with auger-drilled holes. This practice is less damaging to the trees. Bark buckets were replaced with seamless wooden buckets carved from lumber rounds. The method of sap concentration also changed from passive to active. Large amounts of sap were collected and brought to a single area where it was boiled over fires in round cauldrons until reduced to the desired consistency. ‘Sugar shacks’ were built expressly for the purpose of sap boiling. Draft animals were often used to haul firewood and large containers of sap for sugaring. Maple syrup was an important food additive in early America because imported cane sugar was not yet available.
In the mid-1800’s syrup production changed again. Round cauldrons were replaced by flat pans in order to increase surface area and therefore allow for faster evaporation. Over the next 60 year several variations on this design were patented. Draft animals were replaced by tractors and heating methods expanded to include propane, oil and natural gas as well as wood.
The 1970’s represent another period of major changes in maple syrup production. Plastic tubing running directly from trees to the sugaring location eliminated the need for energy and time intensive sap collection. Reverse osmosis and preheating made syrup production more efficient. Recent advances have been made in sugarbush (maple trees used primarily for syrup production) management, filtration and storage.
There are two well known systems of maple syrup grading in use today. One system is used in Canada (where 80% of the world’s maple syrup is produced) and another system is used in the United States of America. Both systems are based on color and translucence with relate to the flavor of the syrup. Different grades are produced by the same trees over the length of the season.
Since maple syrup recipes usually do not specify any particular grade to use, take into consideration that darker colored syrups will produce dishes that a have a pronounced maple flavor.
The Mohawk Valley Trading Company hours of operations are 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. EST, seven days a week. Reach them at (315)-519-2640 to learn more.

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