For Those Who Can't Sleep On Hip Hop

Graffiti Stories told by Cop

December 10, 2008

Vandal Squad offers a unique perspective into the world of urban graffiti. The book was written by a former police officer, Joseph Rivera, who was actually assigned to New York City’s Transit Police Department during the golden era of graffiti. His job was to chase down and bust graff writers in The Bronx. This book chronicles his work with an array of photographs and stories about arrests. picture-7.png

Overall the book provides the reader with a twisted view that is not usually known. It’s odd to read these stories from the other side of the track, regardless; it’s still an interesting angle.

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(pictured- Lork from Da Honey House and Mr. Rudy Ray Moore.)
70′s exploitation filmmaker, actor, and comedic genius, Rudy Ray Moore passes away at 81. Best known for his character Dolemite, Mr. Moore was also a legend in Hip Hop circles. In many ways, he was one of the first rappers. Edgy rhymes delivered within his films and on stage made him a favorite up until his death. Although many people only know about Mr. Moore’s comedic side, he was inspirational because he was able to write, direct, and produce his films outside of traditional film industry circles. He did this against all odds.

More so than any other film presence, he exemplified the spirit and attitude of the original Hip Hop movement. On the big screen, Moore portrayed a character that today many rappers emulate in songs, videos and even within their personas. Dolemite was brash, flashy, street savvy, outspoken and full of pizzazz. He dressed jiggy before the term existed. He took no shorts from anyone, and had the attention of all the ladies. Regardless of the similarities to today’s rap scene, this fictitious character’s image had much less in common with Hip Hop, than the real man did. Mr. Moore was able to overcome adversity by creating his own brand of humor and art, and delivering it to the masses. He did this without the assistance of the system, and in many ways, in spite of it. In the early days, he would go into a town, pitch to theater operators, book his film for later in that week, deliver the print, and then visit as many radio shows as would have him, to promote the film’s showing. Ultimately, Moore and his movies have garnered massive attention, and for decades have continued to gain in popularity. He was able to accomplish all of this, outside of the traditional Hollywood structure. Mr. Moore will continue to be an icon, and an inspiration to many.

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By Khalid Strickland a.k.a. Black Pacino


Spread luv it’s the Brooklyn way…

Although there are flashes of brilliance, much of today’s mainstream rap music is littered with instant, microwavable songs. Creativity is at an all-time low. It’s no surprise that some of hip-hop’s most inspiring material is being cultivated just below the radar, without major label restrictions.

Shabaam Sahdeeq, a talented lyricist from Brooklyn, has been gaining momentum for years with his quality, street-minded music. As an artist signed to Rawkus Records, Sahdeeq appeared on several of the label’s projects, including the acclaimed “Lyricist Lounge” and “SoundBombing” compilation albums. During his stint with Rawkus, Sahdeeq was featured on the remix of Pharoahe Monch’s hit single, “Simon Says,” and also appeared on 12-inch records with Busta Rhymes, Eminem, Kool G. Rap, Xzibit, Lady Luck, Mos Def, Redman and Method Man. Sahdeeq was also a member of the underground rap supergroup Polyrhythm Addicts, which also featured respected artists DJ Spinna, Apani B. Fly and Mr. Complex. Sahdeeq’s career was sidelined, however, when he was sentenced to pay debts to society behind bars. Hoping to ratchet up their street-cred, some misguided rappers would love to have the bing on their resume. Shabaam, however, refuses to play that card.

“I feel like it’s played out, first of all,” says Shabaam Sahdeeq, a.k.a. S-Dub, during our recent interview. “It’s played out to use jail as a marketing tool. I really don’t want to promote that; where I’m at with it, I’m on some intelligent thug s**t. Jail is played out for many reasons. Like right now, I cannot travel because of my jail record. I can’t tour the way I want to. (I can’t) go to Europe so why would I promote that?”

Shabaam Sahdeeq’s first digital album, Relentless, was recently released on Marvial Entertainment. The album, which has garnered rave reviews and impressed fans both old and new, is hosted and mixed by celebrated DJ’s Tony Touch and J-Ronin. The production on Relentless is in capable hands with Khrysis, Belief, Thorotracks, Nick Wiz and others. Some skilled emcees make cameos on the album, most notably Talib Kweli, Pharoahe Monch, Steele of Smif-N-Wessun, Sean Price and Phonte of Little Brother. When asked what he wants to accomplish with his latest album, Sahdeeq states his humble goals.

“I want to let people know that I’m back in the works,” Sahdeeq replies. “I got released (from prison) in ’05. I’m trying to make a series of releases so people can see my consistency and see my continuous quality of work. This is the first digital album I’m putting out myself with a company called Foundation Media. Retail right now is real funny for underground rap. Sales being down for a major artist; imagine the sales for independent. It’s crazy… it’s hard right now. So I just want to plug into that digital world and throw some ropes on that.”

Cop that.

Shabaam’s lyrics contain thought and technical skill, two elements that aren’t abundant during 106 & Park’s limited rotation. But S-Dub wouldn’t have it any other way and acknowledges that he is of a rare breed.

“Check the songs that are getting the highlight. There’s really not much put into them,” Shabaam observes. “It’s really tools to make you dance and buy ringtones. To me, music should be something you should relate to. So if you’re talking about cars and jewels all the time… somebody poor, how could they possibly relate to that? They can’t. I did that song ‘Stupid Dance’ because I feel like there are so many stupid dances and stupid sayings on the radio. It’s like, a no-brainer to do it. I wanted to show people that I was able to make a song like that and still make fun of the s**t. My people be like, ‘Oh, you probably can’t even make nothing commercial.’ I can make commercial songs, it’s no brainers to make the s**t. But that’s not what I’m into; that’s not what I’m trying to promote.”

S-Dub has a lot of material circulating right now along with his album. He recently recorded a song with Royce The 5’9 and Skillz for a Coalmine Records compilation album. Shabaam has also collaborated with Sadat X and Nick Wiz for a song on Sadat’s upcoming, yet-to-be-titled album. While Relentless marinates online and in iPods around the globe, S-Dub is prepping another album, tentatively titled The Outcome, on Draft Records. Meanwhile, the digital version of Relentless is currently available on iTunes, Rhapsody, Emusic, Napster,,, and The digital version also includes two bonus songs featuring Skyzoo and Sha Stimuli, respectively.

Shabaam Sahdeeq is living proof that good hip-hop music still sprouts from the fertile soil of the underground. Fans of raw, street-centric rap will be wise to give this man their support.

For more information in Shabaam Sahdeeq visit and

Check Shabaam spittin’ fire on “Freestyle 101 at G4.

For more information on Black Pacino, visit or

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By Khalid Strickland a.k.a. Black Pacino

Photos by Eric Russ

AZ and me at The Volstead

The 5th Annual VH-1 Hip Hop Honors hit NYC last week and on the eve of the massive event, there were parties jumpin’ off all over The Apple. A bunch of heavy-hitters were in town for the ceremony and excitement was in the air alongside the smog. I was lucky enough to receive an invite to one of the pre-HHH shindigs and it was tighter than J-Hood’s du-rag. GoodGirl PR and the TLAPR Agency, in association with VH-1, held a “Back to the 90’s” gala at The Volstead, a classy joint that wouldn’t let a hooligan like me enter on a regular night. The party’s other sponsors included Sony BMG, V2 Vodka, XXL magazine and DJ Nickiee (a.k.a. the Princess of the Techniques) and DJ Shogun (four-time Justo Mixtape Award nominee) spun timeless rap records that kept the packed house live.

The evening was monumental not just because of the Hip-Hop legends in attendance at The Volstead, but also because I finally showed up somewhere on time. I picked a great night to ditch my beloved C.P.T. because an hour after I arrived, the bouncers were corralling a horde of people heaped up at the door. But we weren’t in Brooklyn, so folks were orderly and not a shot was fired. It was around this time that my wingman/photographer, E-Boogie, showed up and squeezed his way through the constricting mob to join me in the club. Fortunately for E, the crowd was padded with voluptuous honeys. This was a proverbial “red carpet” affair, so when celebs entered the spot, they’d stop in a designated area and bathe in the photographers’ flashbulbs. DJ Premier was there rocking a t-shirt emblazoned with memorable lyrics from “Time’s Up” by O.C. (“I’d rather be broke and have a whole lotta respect…”). Well, Primo’s definitely respected, and though he never flaunts a piece of jewelry, I seriously doubt he’s hurting for cash.

Another legendary producer, Easy Mo Bee, made it to the party. Like Primo, Easy Mo Bee contributed beats to Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die and it was an honor to chop it up with the greats. AZ the Visualiza was there rockin’ a frozen gold Jesus piece and videotaping interviews for the local TV shows. Longtime friends Teddy Ted and Special K, the revered DJ duo known as The Awesome Two, were also in the house. The WBO Light-Heavyweight Champion, Kendall Holt, made it to the party with his actual championship belt in tow. I spotted ex-Roots member Rahzel, the beat-boxer also known as “The Godfather of Noyze,” posing for pictures with fans.

Me & DJ Premier

Alize was one of the party’s sponsors, and pretty ladies holding trays of free Gold Passion liqueur sashayed around The Volstead. I didn’t get as smashed as usual, though. I’d like to believe that this was due to my iron-willed discipline; I had to interview Scarface the next morning and didn’t want to be hung over. The real reason was that whenever the Alize girls came my way, folks would swoop in like vultures and leave me with an empty tray. I thought I had the freeloadin’ game all sewn up but I must be getting slow with age.

The party was dope and I have to thank Tafia from TLAPR for hooking me up and being very efficient. Not only was “Back to the 90’s” nostalgic, fun-filled and loaded with beautiful women to creep with, I also networked with plenty of movers and shakers. And anytime I can drink, politic and hear rap music other than the five records that loop endlessly on FM radio, it’s a good night.

For more pictures of the “Back to the 90′s” party at The Volstead, visit the FLICKR PHOTO SET.

Special K & Teddy Ted a.k.a. The Awesome Two, with their homie.

Kendall Holt, WBO Light-Heavyweight Boxing Champion

Best shot of the night ;-]

see more pics of the party at THE FLICKR PHOTO SET

For more work, stories by Black Pacino visit and

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“Do Not Give Way to Evil” by photographer Lisa Kahane provides an interesting view into a period of Bronx history. She does this through the pictorial documentation of the New York borough during the late 1970s to the 1980s. These images depict a time of extreme urban blight. The images are sadly reminiscent of the type of urban sprawl that is associated with third-world countries. However, to those who romanticize that era, the pictures are nostalgic. Either way, the photos present a captivating visual study of despair and beauty.

Regardless of the desolation visible within the dilapidated buildings and trash-laden streets, human spirit is evident throughout the book. This is the environment that is responsible for inspiring inner city youths to express themselves in a way that has forever affected style, music and art in society globally. Although this book is about society and not Hip Hop, it would be a challenge for anyone who knows the history of the genre, to not acknowledge the circumstances presented within this book that ultimately gave way to the birth to the dynamic culture. Because of this, “Do Not Give Way to Evil” should enthrall Hip Hop aficionados.

The suggested retail price of this 144 page hardcover book is $35. However, it can be purchased on various major booksellers’ websites for less. –I. Vasquetelle

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