VIDEO: Jean Grae’s “underneathu


Jean Grae seems to be taking a new approach in her new song and video, but then again maybe not. It seems like a flashback to not only mid-1980’s Video Soul, but perhaps it’s on the public access or local telethon vibe. The track is taken from her latest EP #5.

http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=403282097/size=large/bgcol=333333/linkcol=ffffff/tracklist=false/artwork=small/transparent=true/

SOME STUFFS: 9th Annual Afropunk Fest returns in August

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Look at this, I think the poster/flyer speaks for itself to where I almost don’t have to explain what’s going on. Just look at it and head out there if you can, right? However, I should let you know what’s going on.

First off, the obligatory introduction as to what Afropunk is:
AFROPUNK is an influential community of young, gifted people of all backgrounds who speak through music, art, film, comedy, fashion and more. Originating with the 2003 documentary that highlighted a Black presence in the American punk scene, it is a platform for the alternative and experimental. Remaining at the core of its mission are the punk principles of DIY aesthetics, radical thought and social non-conformity. AFROPUNK is a voice for the unwritten, unwelcome and unheard-of.

The 9th annual Afropunk Fest is bringing together a lot of talent in one place. Headlining will be Chuck D. & DJ Lord of Public Enemy, who will be performing Fear Of A Black Planet in full. Also scheduled to appear include ?uestlove (of The Roots), Saul Williams, The Coup, K-OS, Danny Brown, Jean Grae, Theophilus London, Mykki Blanco, LE1F, and so many more. In fact, more artists are being pulled in for the Afropunk Fest as you read this. Everyone will be gathering at Commodore Barry Park in Brooklyn on August 24-25th, so if you want to consider this one of your end-of-summer events, this would be a great way to celebrate the season. For updates and more information on the festival, head to AfroPunkFest.com.

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REVIEW: Pharoahe Monch “W.A.R. (We Are Renegades)”

Photobucket There was a time not too long ago when the lyrics of Pharoahe Monch was considered ahead of its time, futuristic, and yet as the music evolved into new eras, everyone loved him but so-called experts refused to rank him up there with alleged greats. Pharoahe Monch doesn’t need validation, although I’m sure there’s a bit of that ego in him which says “fuck that, of course I want that recognition” but having a hard work ethic has made him one of the best MC’s of the last 20 years. He is now making music in his third decade, how many people from back then can still sound “of the future” and “in the now” without people ever having to think of what came before?

Okay, maybe that last comment was kind of rude so let me say it differently. With quality artists, you always should acknowledge what came before, because they wouldn’t be what they are without everything that lead to it. Yet with his new album, Pharoahe still sounds like he’s speaking to people of the future, hoping for everyone to catch up someday and yet a lot of what he has been speaking about for the last 20 years is being realized today. W.A.R. (We Are Renegades) (W.A.R. Media/Duck Down) is a collection of songs that fits what some would call an audio movie. There are no interludes even though some of the tracks are as long as them. Instead, the pace of the album and how it’s programmed show how important the process of making music is for Pharoahe, as you get a sense of the horrid outlook he has on the world we live in, which maybe is a reflection of how we view ourselves. These songs are filled with metaphors and complexities that show classic Pharoahe, but by taking a deep listen to tracks like “Haile Selassie Karate”, “Let My People Go”, and “Calculated Amalgamation” you realize he has always been speaking like this, it’s just that he’s capable of looking for, exploring, and discussing new stories and ideas. This is the kind of hip-hop that seems perfect for sci-fi junkies, those who seek to use metaphors as ways to speak in code so that those easily offended will not realize they’re evil ways are being exposed. Yet you don’t have to hang out at Comicon’s or Dungeons & Dragons to understand what he’s talking about, he’s direct and to the point at times almost too direct but that’s how he cuts and soothes listeners at the same time. He knows he’s capable of saying something that will make fans go “wow, now this feels good, I sense something great here” while fans will put faith in him, knowing that he’s in control of his destiny and people admire the paths he’s willing to take.

In other words, W.A.R. is what The D.O.C. once called “Rhythmic American Poetry”, a/k/a the essence of R.A.P., a dialogue that isn’t just someone speaking out of his ass just because he admires the sound and smell of his own verbal farts. Pharoahe Monch is a communicator, and fortunately there are enough fans who put faith in what he does in order to keep hearing it year after year. As a hip-hop record, people need to listen to this and understand what proper programming and producing can do and sound like.

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