For Those Who Can't Sleep On Hip Hop

CHOPPIN’ IT UP WITH CARTOONIST MARK BODE

By Khalid Strickland a.k.a. Dirty Angel

Mark Bode rockin’ his “Cheech Wizard” hoodie by Puma.

In 1982, while he was attending the School of Visual Arts in New York City, Mark Bode understood just how much influence his late father, cartoonist Vaughn Bode, had on the burgeoning graffiti art scene.  Back then subway cars were traveling, metal canvases used by graffiti artists to display their talents.

“I was waiting on East 23rd (street) for a train and this (express) train went by and I saw this huge production of my father’s work go by,” Mark recalls.  “It just blew my mind.  I was just like, ‘Wow, somebody gave up their freedom to paint a mural based on my father’s material.  Who would do that? I’ve got to meet this person’.  I thought it was just one person at first, and then later when I moved back to San Francisco I realized that other writers were doing it.  I saw it in the streets of San Francisco, and that’s when I knew something was up.”                                         

                                              

Grafitti piece in San Francisco by Mark Bode, Cuba, Stan 153, K-2 and Desire.

When legendary cartoonist Vaughn Bode dreamed up his flagship character, Cheech Wizard, in 1957, he unwittingly created a heavy cornerstone in the evolution of graffiti art.  Through classic graphic novels like “Deadbone”, “Lizard Zen” and “Bode’s Erotica”, Vaughn introduced the world to his groundbreaking, simple-yet-complex style of cartoon art.  A giant yellow wizard-hat with legs, talking lizards and voluptuous, top-heavy nymphs are a few of the colorful inhabitants of the oft-imitated Bode universe.  Mark Bode not only kept his father’s creations alive long after Vaughn’s passing in 1975, the son has also built a formidable legacy of his own. A renowned tattoo artist who has graced many a body with his impeccable style, Mark has also partnered with toy-designers Planet 6 to manufacture a collectable “Bode Broad” doll.  Earlier this year, Puma released a limited-edition Bode sneaker and matching hoodie set decorated with the recognizable Cheech Wizard emblem; fans quickly snatched up the coveted items.  Zack Snyder, director of the blockbuster flick “300”, is slated to helm the film version of Vaughn and Mark Bode’s renowned, post-apocalyptic graphic novel “Cobalt 60”.  During my exclusive interview with the famous cartoonist, Mark Bode let it be known that the symbiotic style he shares with father comes easy to him. 

“Bode Tribute” promo featuring Cobalt 60 & Cheech Wizard, by Marc Bode.

“(Vaughn) realized at an early age that I had the want to be an artist like him,” Mark explains.  “So he would teach me that his characters were real.  He’d go on a walk with me and (say), ‘Cheech Wizard lives over the hill here and that’s where his hideout is’.  And we would go and wait for Cheech to show up and we’d often have lunch or whatever… just sit on the hillside waiting for Cheech to show up.  He’d tell other stories about Cheech while we sat there and eventually it just ingrained it into my head that all this stuff was real. Like he would show me a comic book page and then he’d take me on a walk and go, ‘This is where it happened.  This is where I saw this happen’.  It was really just him imagining it but he would tell me like it was a real story… like it really happened.  So my reality became his at a very early age and as I get my drawing abilities together, I found it real easy to imagine in his world.  So that’s how we started to share a vision.  Now I find it extremely easy to fall into his world.  It’s actually more comfortable there than any place else because that’s a place we share together.  I can keep him alive there.  When I do my own stuff I’m more brooding, more intense about it; and some of my best work is definitely my own.  But whenever I’m in his world, I’m just loving life and I’m smiling so much my cheeks hurt.”

Cobalt 60 by Mark Bode.

Aside from working on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book (the original grittier, darker version), Mark Bode has contributed his artwork to hardcore publications such as Heavy Metal, Epic, Hustler Comics and Penthouse Hot Talk.  Once upon a time in America, adult cartoons such as Fritz The Cat and the classic feature-film version of Heavy Metal  could be seen in theaters.  Nowadays most people dismiss animated films as child’s fare.  Mr. Bode frankly gave his take on why adult-oriented cartoons get the cold shoulder from movie studios. 

“People are still really uptight about sex,” Mark retorts.  “I don’t care how much you put it on the billboards or how you put it on TV or whatever.  We’re still a really uptight civilization, as far as the country goes on a whole… there’s a lot of uptight people still out there who don’t want to see this stuff out.  The big movie companies don’t see it as a profitable market to do x-rated comics (as) animated (films).  This also has directly something to do with all the comic book shops that got busted over the last fifteen, twenty years.  They actually had people going around doing a sting operation; where they’d send a seventeen-year old kid into a comic store, and they would tell them, ‘Go into the corner there where they say ADULTS ONLY and buy this or that comic book’.  And the person would go in and buy it and then the cops would come in and arrest the comic shop owner.  A lot of people ended up in jail and now they’re scared.  So a lot of comic shops won’t even have an adult section.  They’re still doing it down south, they’re still busting people.  And this killed it for this country.” 

“That’s just at the bottom level… in the comic stores.  But if you go up there’s more and more scared people who don’t want to put their money where that is.  In Europe or in
Japan it’s not a problem.  That’s an advanced society that’s comfortable with their sexuality.  We are not there yet.  There’s still a lot of hurdles there.  We’re not going to be having nudity and comic characters together for a little while yet.  I think we’re getting there with ‘South Park’ and ‘The Simpsons’; pushing the boundaries of what you can get away with.  Actually the Cartoon Network has been after me for a while to develop a ‘Cheech Wizard’ cartoon for adult swim.  We’ve been trying to do a ‘Cheech Wizard’ show that hopefully won’t be watered down.  We might not be able to have complete nudity, but at least we can have the big titties and have the scenarios and the harsh language.  That’s what I’m hoping for.”        
                           

The buxom “Bode Broad” doll by Planet 6.

One fourth of hip-hop culture has totally immersed itself in the Bode universe.  But does Mark Bode keep track of hip-hop’s musical element?  

“I do but I think it’s been the other way around for so long.  We actually got bit a few times too… in a good way, but then in a bad way (also),” laments Mark.  “You know, The Beastie Boys… they did (the song) ‘Sure Shot’.  You know (the line), ‘I’m a Vaughn Bode like the Cheech Wizard never quittin’ so why don’t you listen’… that was really cool when I heard it, but then I saw that they used Cheech Wizard on their video and that kind of bothered me.  So I went after them and then they really wined and dined me and took me to concerts and kept me like one of their pets… but really nothing panned out of it.  I could’ve sued them, but they promised me that they would do Bode T-shirts with ‘Beastie Boys’ on them, and we would make hundreds of thousands of dollars.  And it just never happened.  I was hoping to be embraced by hip-hop to the point where I could like, do some album covers… maybe do an animated video for one of the hip-hop songs or something.  And it never really came to fruition.  I don’t know why.  Maybe people just thought that the stuff was just street art, or maybe that it was owned by somebody and they couldn’t afford to buy it… I don’t know.  Del and the Funky Homosapiens (sic), they did a Cheech Wizard thing too, like a homage.  And I got to meet them and they were cool.  But we never did any work together.  It’s like… I would be a lot more into hip-hop if it was my bread and butter.  (Like) if it’s the characters being licensed by me and it goes out the graffiti people.  I never really embraced hip-hop as my place, although it is (because) the graffiti hip-hop movement is the reason we’re still hot.  But actually I like all kinds of music and I’ve always been into jungle… techno music.  When I’m working I like to listen to music that doesn’t have a lot of words, because I like to get lost in the time zone that I’m in.  If there’s too many words I feel like it slows me down; it slows time down.  When I’m working I’m not actually listening to a lot of rap.  The kind of music I love to listen to (are) the deejays that mix ethnic music and the hip-hop altogether.  I’m really into ethnic music.  My wife’s a belly dancer and I’ve been into Arabic music for a long time.  Now that it’s crossing over I really like all those crossovers.”

A pair of Vaughn Bode Clydes by Puma.

For more artwork and information on Mark Bode, visit www.markbode.com .  For Bode Broad dolls, visit www.planet6.com .

For more stories and work by Dirty Angel, visit www.supremearsenal.com and www.myspace.com/blackpacino

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

ETERNIA- IT’S CALLED LIFE URBNET RECORDS

 eternia.jpg

If you want to listen to an album that best describes the current state of Hip Hop, then look no further than “It’s Called Life”. This is not your typical rap album. With this you get 15 cleverly constructed, introspective tracks into the life of Eternia. “ICL” Covers everything from relationships to spousal abuse, as well as the industry too. Many will relate to this emotional and entertaining masterpiece.

 

The “Intro” is a nice opening but, is just there to set up the rest of the album. Things actually get kicking with the banger “Evidence”. While the beat is tight, it’s the lyrics that’ll capture your attention first. With lines like:

 “And that’s the ironic part of this thang,
Like you can’t get respect in this game
Until you’re paid
You can’t make a name for yourself
Until you’ve laid
Tracks down with Kanye”.

“Family” features a dope appearance by Helixx C. of the Anomolies creating a powerful duo between her and E, making it hard to determine who ripped it better. DJ Dopey provides the sick cuts by flawlessly fusing Mobb Deep and Gangstarr samples over a fast supercharged beat. The cameos continue with the soulful “Understand If I” which covers some of the many obstacles men and women endure in relationships. E and Freestyle perfectly relay their messages as if they were actually a troubled couple. Wordsworth and Ken Starr mix it up on the song “Struggle”. A track that’ll get multiple replays.  “Death”, a spoken word piece displays how lyrically advanced Eternia is. Spitting poison tipped x-acto blades such as:

“Minds collide in time when the devil kissed my
Sky good-bye.
Formed third eyes that closed when you died.
Took a shot to my brain and stitched up my
Insides
With rusty needles.”

And E couples this with some flashing verses, rounding out the impression. Eternia shows why she has one of the strongest voices when it comes to carrying a tale. Other notables are “Time”, “Inspiration” and the track “Love” which features a beautiful vocal appearance by her sister on the chorus. All this ends off with the anthem like “Bang” (pun intended). The beats are sick with production by Tone Mason and Rude as well as some others.

 

For all those that slept on E, this will be the rude awakening. Eternia brings back some of the flavor and ease in combination with creativity we were used to, lets say, a decade ago. Some might even say that this effort is too personal, but I think this is what the industry sorely needs. It takes a skilled emcee to make songs of reflection and at the same time observing worthwhile topics. A very influential album for one of hip hop’s most slept on artists. As I stated earlier, this is not a typical Hip Hop ride, it’s a musical experience. Please support this piece of Hip Hop history by visiting http://www.eternia.ca/ or http://www.myspace.com/eternia  . Thanx CyPhEr777

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

neurologists.jpgTHE NEUROLOGISTS- STAFF OF RA (FEAT. LIL’ DAP) B/W THE PAGAN’S HELMET (FEAT. KILLAH PRIEST) EDIFIED GEMS

For those who don’t know, Neurologists have been releasing gems since the mid 90’s til the present, creating an ill and solid formula. Now this formula is being laid out for some of the illest emcees on the planet. On the first track “Staff of Ra”, Lil’ Dap of Group Home fame rips up this middle-eastern styled beat. You get your usual boom bap along with a slew of dope vocal samples. Lil’ Dap has a very discernable and sick rhyme style that many are familiar with. The Neurologists are on point in selecting this beat for Dap to feast on as it clocks in just a little over the 3 minute mark. “Staff of Ra” does enough damage to jump start your appetite.

As you just finish wiping the drool from your mouth, you’re hit again with another gem! Killah Priest decides to make an appearance on the track “Pagan’s Helmet”. As both beats are fast paced, this one is more refined and complex. This track was meant to incite riots. Killah is relentless as usual, throwing lyrical jabs with precision like Sugar Ray Leonard. Neurologists play the corner man in supplying Killah with all the weaponry needed.

Although this is just a maxi-single, it packs a powerful punch. Not only will you get amped over the lyrical content but, the beats are what solidifies this effort. There’s more in store in the very near future so be on the lookout. I know I will! Support the Neurologists by copping this joint @ http://www.myspace.com/neurologists or visit them also @ http://www.edifiedgems.com .

Thanks CyPhEr777

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

cultgroundsfmfonline2.jpg
Saturday May 19th 7pm

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

southern comfort

Southern Comfort” – ANTHONY HAMILTON
(Merovingian Music)

Review by Todd E. Jones
toddejones@yahoo.com

Pain is the essence of Soul music’s beauty. Regardless of race, sex, or class, listeners can relate to the soul singer’s pain. The music of legends like Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, and Issac Hayes has crossed a myriad of conceptual boundaries because it possessed a magnificent universal emotional core. The next generation of soul music artists includes Cody ChesnuTT, D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, and Cee-Lo. Unfortunately, many singers get pigeonholed in the generically broad genre of R&B. While their music may be classified as R&B, these artists surpass the typical sound of the average R&B singer who just needs a pathetically weak slow drum beat that they can moan trite lyrics over. Anthony Hamilton is a soul singer who stands out from the rest. His music has the precious quality that instantly connects with the listener. Although he signed to the extremely commercial label, So So Def (owned by Jermaine Dupre), his music is not a pre-packaged gimmick. Like Cody ChesnuTT and Cee-Lo, Anthony Hamilton creates music that has the potential to be timeless. The songs are overflowing with his pain and love. His debut single, “Coming From Where I’m From” was a poignantly sexy, slow burning track that hypnotized the faithless. After multiple albums on the major label, Anthony Hamilton releases “Southern Comfort” on Merovingian Music. A collection of songs from the vaults, “Southern Comfort” features unreleased material that possesses the intensity of a true album.

Hamilton’s power lies in his genuine emotion conveyed within his voice, intertwined with his flowing hooks and vulnerable lyrics. The opening cut, “They Don’t Know” features a thick heroin 70′s groove. Imagine an old 70′s Blaxploitation movie as the opening credits appear over a ghetto setting. “They don’t know all the things that I be going through”, Hamilton sings with a commanding tone. Produced by Fanatic, “They Don’t Know” is a brilliant representation of the album’s sound and feeling. Hamilton’s vulnerability shines through the pain displayed on the marvelous “Glad U Called”. Produced by Ced Solo, “Glad U Called” is a heartrending track where Hamilton claims that a friend saved him from committing suicide, simply by calling at the right time. “…I’m glad that you called when you called me / Because it stopped me from doing something awful / I’ve been waiting, contemplating of taking this life away from me…” Lyrically, Hamilton paints a vivid picture of the moment. The listener can mentally picture him looking at his gun on the dashboard of his car. Lyrically, he writes about facing specific and general problems. He sings, “…I been working on this since ’93 / and it don’t feel good to me, because there’s war, famine, diseases. / I’m so sick, sick and tired of all that the world is offering…” His blatant honesty gives the track a refreshing beauty. Hamilton adds, “Never thought I’d have to kiss so much ass” Amidst the sorrow, positive sentiments arise in “Never Give Up”. Produced by Ced Solo, “Never Give Up” features an uplifting crescendo for the chorus, which will inspire every listener. “Magnolia’s Room” is a love song about a man struggling with a woman who is fed up with his lack of success. Some songs are not as prominent compared to intense tracks. “Please”, “Fallin In Love Again”, and “Better Love” sound more like typical love songs. “Sailin Away” is a warm closing track.

“Southern Comfort” by Anthony Hamilton is much more than only a collection of unreleased material. The album proves that his major label releases only represent the music approved by the money holders. These songs are too powerful to be shelved. Since “Southern Comfort” is an independent release, fans should consider the album an essential brick in the house of his discography. This love is similar to the listener appreciating an artist’s b-sides more than the LP tracks. His album is especially poignant because his vulnerability and honest approach to music makes a prevailing connection with his listeners. This connection reminds his listeners that they are not alone in their struggles. Hamilton’s emotional expression will comfort those listeners who can relate to his pain. This album may make you take the gun out of your mouth and realize that you should not blow your brains out. “Southern Comfort” by Anthony Hamilton could be that album that may save your life.

Review by Todd E. Jones

toddejones@yahoo.com

NOTICE: This review is property of Todd E. Jones and cannot be duplicated or posted without written permission.

WEBSITES:

Merovingian Music: http://www.merovingianmusic.com
Anthony Hamilton: http://www.anthonyhamilton.com

{ Comments on this entry are closed }