For Those Who Can't Sleep On Hip Hop

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Professor Michael Eric Dyson is teaching a college class at Georgetown University that focuses on Jay Z. The AP piece in the video below discusses those who criticize the course because of a perception of its lack of validity. However, there are those that believe there is certainly merit in studying the mogul’s rise from poverty to riches. The course, titled, “Sociology of Hip Hop: Jay-Z” features lyrics from the rap mogul and is reported to require reading from Shawn Carter’s “Decoded.”

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When Music Had No Boundaries

December 3, 2011

Below is nearly 30 year old footage of Bad Brains performing reggae to what appears to be a punk audience in Germany. The beautiful thing about this video is the lack of adherence to genre barriers. As hardcore music heroes, this is an another example of the kinship between original Hip Hop and punk cultures. Both rebelled against formats- music was music. Original Hip Hop adopted all genres from all sounds and styles. Today, there’s so much pigeonholing in what is presented as Hip Hop, that much of it lacks creativity in sound and delivery.

Whether Kool Herc, Africa Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash or later Rick Rubin, all of these innovators within Hip Hop chose to embrace diversity in sound. Producers, rappers, and DJs, take a lesson from the architects of the genre and from punk’s Bad Brains, broaden your pallet and invent a new way to present your craft. If effective, the best that could happen is that you make music that’s still celebrated decades later. -I. Vasquetelle

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Hip Hop as with many other genres of music, has an extremely deep history often unbeknownst to its increasing number of fans. Unfortunately, because of the mainstream and the fact that artists are coming and going in the blink of an eye, the history of our beloved art is dying. This brings me to the artist L.I.F.E. Long, a champion among many trying to preserve Hip Hop’s history.

I first heard L.I.F.E. around 98’ when he was part of a group called the Writers Guild. He along with Loer Velocity was an explosive and underrated duo who released an “EP” that surprisingly got little attention. It definitely got my attention and shot them up to one of my favorite groups ever. Unfortunately, after that release, they went on their own routes which saw LL cameo on a number of projects like the Anti Consortium track “What Am I?” A few years later, he released a solo LP by the name “Strugglers Paradise.” It was also a really dope release that again received undeservedly little attention.

Now in 2011, he brings you another solid release named “Across the Globe,” along with Swedish producer Big Ape. You will instantly realize that L.I.F.E. might be just a little something different than your regular backpacker’s favorite emcee, once he opens with the track “The Motive” after the intro “Begintro.” Track after track, L.I.F.E. is unrelenting in his lyrical assault and your neck will definitely hurt from the constant head nod factor that Big Ape provides. With Big Ape fully on production, this LP starts and ends great. And things don’t slow down with the next track “Travelin” featuring Respect the God and Sip Liq. To me, the track that shines the most is “Snake Charmer”, not because it’s a banger per se but, shows L’s story telling abilities to add to his lyrical repertoire. Lyrics like:

“I know this chick around the way, Stacey
Grimy female, used to boost gear out of Macy’s
But that was in her younger years
Now she’s older in the club sippin’ beers
Rockin’ tight clothes to expose her breasts and rear
Hopin’ she could win a man with a career
She’d trip for dollars, fake orgasms and holler
Even though she got two baby fathers.”

I know as a fan, we just want raw battle lyrics but, we need to deal with reality as well.

But as we know, in hip hop things aren’t fair or like they should happen. There are different, if any, rules. We are obviously living in a digital age where things are more accessible. So, it should be easy for a talented artist like L.I.F.E. Long to flourish but, if people aren’t looking, then they won’t bite. It doesn’t mean artists such as these need to quit. Their hard work hasn’t gone in vein. People are listening and I hope someone with some credibility picks this up and makes a big deal out of this. There’s not much else to add to this, apart from that this record can easily be approached with both good and bad opinions, and with an uttering on one’s lips, that it’s not too impressive after all. I don’t think this is the case at all. This is a must listen!!! Other tracks to include are the epic “Nhomadz” featuring Rise, Breez Evahflowin, Swave Sevah and Shabaam Sahdeeq, “The Journey” and my fav “Samurai Code of Honour” with U.G. of Cella Dwellaz and Prince Po. Support L.I.F.E. Long a Big Ape by checking out or

Bless C73

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Ice Cube needs no introduction, he’s conquered music, film, and most currently television. In this interview, Cube talks about his transformation from gangsta rapper to film star and entertainment mogul. He also sheds insight into his journey within this turbulent industry. As well, he gives advice and shares a valuable lesson learned from his own experiences in the entertainment business. Cube also discusses the plight of the recorded music industry, and the importance of putting a value on music. This candid discussion with music industry magazine, Insomniac, is both intriguing and inspirational, and provides a distinct perspective into the success of this talented entertainment icon.

(Listen to Israel Vasquetelle interview the icon and entertainment mogul about his career in movies, TV, and of course the Hip Hop music industry.)

Related article: Ice Cube discusses his television show.

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