Stevio...LA LA Lovin' It?

I'm British-born Chinese from Bristol, UK. I’m LA-based. I’m a hip hop aficionado. After 15 years in London I moved to LA to pursue a new career and outlook on life.

Back in the 80s I was a DJ. In the 90s I contributed to the world's first street style exhibition at London's Victoria & Albert Museum. In 2011, I had my first interviews published. Today, I’m keeping busy with music, art, photos and writing.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Absolut visits "Brooklyn" with the help of Spike Lee

As autumn/Fall officially begins I caught this summer video directed by Spike Lee.

This collaboration, which was announced in June, came out of the blue for Spike Lee and he jumped at the chance to collaborate with ABSOLUT to design a limited-edition "ABSOLUT Brooklyn" flavor. As part of this collab, he directed an advertisement which features spoken word poet and long-time collaborator, Lemen Andersen, whose passion for his 'hood gives the video real energy and passion.

A comment I saw on a blog did make it clear that Spike Lee is selling booze to his community. That's hard to dispute. Does ABSOLUT VODKA's commitment to supporting the Brooklyn community with a $50,000 donation of the profits from the sale of ABSOLUT BROOKLYN to Habitat for Humanity - New York City make it alright? I'm sure the home owners of Habitat's newest affordable homes project in Bed-Stuy will feel it's a great collaboration.

"I must say, it puts me in very good 'spirits' whenever I hear that one of Brooklyn's own, like superstar Spike Lee shows us all what it means to 'do the right things' – in this case, promote our home borough and create a partnership that funds Habitat for Humanity as well. It's an ABSOLUT win-win – a philanthropic cocktail with the perfect Brooklyn mixology!" Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz

But, forget about the commercially motivated charity and remember that ABSOLUT has been representing the leading edge arts for decades. So, even if you're not into cocktails you could support could have supported the collaboration without buying alcohol. ABSOLUT, Spike Lee and Fuse Green have created the "Brooklyn Stoop Life" t-shirt with (artist-owned) Brooklyn retailer Brooklyn Industries now SOLD OUT!

Brooklyn Industries' ABSOLUT, Spike Lee and Fuse Green t-shirt

Absolut Brooklyn bottle

Let's not forget the ABSOLUT Concert's the Jay-Z short film. You decide if "the fit is organic..."

"ABSOLUT BROOKLYN features an invigorating blend of red apple and ginger replete in a specially-designed bottle reminiscent of the ubiquitous 'Brooklyn Stoop Life.'
Designed in collaboration with Spike Lee, the bottle is a colorful depiction of the stoop where the Brooklyn-bred auteur grew up - #165.  Harkening back to the decades-long notion that the stoop is truly the epicenter of creativity, culture and community, the bottle serves as an homage to that Brooklyn ideal of stoop life – where memories are made and ideas are sparked through conversation and camaraderie.  Other subtle nods include Brooklyn nicknames on the steps of the stoop and a line from a love letter to Brooklyn written by poet/actor Lemon Andersen.
In addition, the Lars Olsson Smith seal, never before altered on the iconic ABSOLUT bottle, has been "Spiked" – Lars wears a baseball cap and glasses evocative of Spike Lee.
"It was a great honor to be approached by ABSOLUT to collaborate on this project.  Brooklyn deserves to be honored in the best possible light, and I hope Brooklynites from Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill to Bensonhurst, Boerum Hill and Sheepshead Bay feel like I represented Bucktown to the fullest," said Spike Lee.  "It's all about the 718 this summer, so let the ABSOLUT BROOKLYN stoop parties begin."
"Spike Lee is the epitome of what it means to be from Brooklyn.  He has built a masterful career examining this corner of the world, and we knew his vision would lend credence and authenticity to what we hope to accomplish with this flavor introduction," said Ian Crystal, Brand Director for ABSOLUT VODKA. "This is the first time ABSOLUT has collaborated with a visionary on a city flavor and we gave him carte blanche in coming to us with ideas that were truly representative of Brooklyn." ABSOLUT press release

Absolut cocktail recipes

1 part Cranberry Juice
1 part Ginger Ale
Build over ice in highball glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.
1/2 part Malibu® Tropical Banana
Orange Juice
Build over ice in a rocks glass. Top with orange juice and garnish with an orange twist.

2 parts Ginger Ale
Squeeze of Lime
Pour over ice in a highball glass. Garnish with a lime wedge. 

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

B-Boy Summit is happening...LA are you ready?!

It's a big weekend in Los Angeles hip hop circles. B-Boy Summit returns to Los Angeles thanks to Asia One and No Easy Props.

This is one of the most important events since its mission is clear: 
"Without an understanding of the roots and culture of Hip-Hop, the youth of today would not be able to expand on it, further developing the styles into futuristic trends of tomorrow."

Back in the day I still remember going to B-Boy Summit #4 in 1997 in San Diego. Pics below taken from Dexter's Facebook as mine are in the UK. Also, see the end of this post for fresh flyers for some of the Summits throughout the 90s and 00s.

DJ Dexter (Brotherhood,) Dorian and DJ Leacy (RIP) @ SFO airport 1997

DJ Dexter and his adidas shopping booty after the B-Boy Summit
Read below for a history of the Summit and the schedule for the three-day weekend events (Oct 1-3, 2010) in Hollywood and Downtown LA.
"The Bboy Summit was created in 94 due to a need for a community orientated Hip-Hop Event that encompassed knowledge of the history of Hip-Hop Culture with the skills of Bboying and Bgirling (breaking or break dancing).
At that point in time Bboys and Bgirls did not have their own platform in which to come together, dance and pay homage to the traditional dance of Hip-Hop. Each year the event has expanded to encompass Bboys, Bgirls, MCs, Aerosol Artists, and DJs from around the world, steadily building into what is now the foremost Hip-Hop cultural event in the world. Equally, the Summit is proud to be considered one of the most important events for Lockers, Poppers, Waackers, Freestyle and House Dancers to journey too to take part in the annual Soul Fest at the Bboy Summit.
The impact the Bboy Summit Event has had globally is insurmountable, most importantly contributing the transmission of Bboy Bgirl style of dance, as well as street dance in general to the new generation. Without an understanding of the roots and culture of Hip-Hop, the youth of today would not be able to expand on it, further developing the styles into futuristic trends of tomorrow." B-Boy Summit website

October 1-3, 2010
Los Angeles, CA

This year's B-Boy Summit consists of 2 days and 3 nights in the Los Angeles area celebrating and embracing the B-Boy lifestyle and culture we all know and love. As in past years, the Summit will include panels, live art, workshops, classes and of course some of the biggest B-Boy & B-Girl battles you'll ever witness. Be a part of this years Summit and join us for an incredible weekend.

Select one of the events below for a complete breakdown of the Summit weekend including schedules, lineups, directions and more.

The World's Largest International B-Girl Competition is making its way to the United States in 2010. After being held for consecutive years in Melbourne, Australia, Freestyle4 Entertainment is bringing SHE GOT GAME to Los Angeles in collaboration with the legendary B-Boy Summit. Crews from around the world will compete in a 2 on 2 B-Girl Battle to take out the $2500 first prize. SHE GOT GAME is taking place on Sunday 3rd October 2010 from 12pm-4pm at Avalon Hollywood, Los Angeles.

SHE GOT GAME created a world-resounding buzz in its inaugural year in 2007 and continued to do so in 2008. Prominent B-Girls flew to Australia to attend and compete in the event from countries including U.S.A., Japan, Finland, Germany, China, Austria and New Zealand. No other all-female B-Girl competition exists on the same scale as 'SHE GOT GAME' anywhere in the world. Previous winners include USA crew Beta & Vendetta (2007) and Finland crew Taya & A.T. (2008).

The B-Boy Summit is renowned as the pioneering event in breakdancing and hip hop lifestyle since it's inception in Los Angeles in 1994. The Summit's producers, No Easy Props are thrilled to welcome on board SHE GOT GAME at B-Boy Summit 2010 as a part of the 3 day festival.

The day will also feature other events as part of the B-Boy Summit which comprise of a B-Girl Action Panel, MZK Color Warz Crew Battle, Street Dance Theatre Show and Funk Styles Battles. Be sure to get down to the Avalon Hollywood, don't miss out or it'll be game over!

For more information and full Summit schedule-

For any further queries and She Got Game crew registrations please contact

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Ken Swift and Mare 139 @ Hip Hop Theater Festival, NYC

The Hip Hop Theater Festival (HHTF for short) has marked its 10th anniversary this year as it kicked off its 3-week long event in New York, this past Saturday until October 15.

Sadly, I'd never heard of the festival until a friend introduced me to the founder via email, but it seems to have focus on taking hip hop to the stage with a number of original theater productions written and performed by theater professionals from the world of hip hop, rather than the traditional B-Boying, graffiti, DJing or MCing. Does it sound like a hip hop version of the hit TV show, Glee...?!

 "At this, our 10th anniversary, the Hip Hop Theater Festival has come to represent much more than the words 'theater' and 'festival' can connote," said HHTF executive director and producer Clyde Valentin. "We are very excited for this years festival and celebrating a decade of culture in action."

The Bronx is the home of hip hop From the old skool, b-boy legend, Ken Swift (of the Rock Steady Crew,) choreographs his "Swift Solos" - read more below - and Carlos "Mare139" Rodriguez will be exhibiting a collection of commissioned art which features b-boy-inspired stainless steel structures.

oLive Dance Theatre's SWIFT SOLOS from Hip-Hop Theater Festival on Vimeo.

"Swift Solos is an evening-length series of vignettes based on the choreographic legacy of seminal urban dance innovator Ken Swift. This collection of solo and ensemble offerings celebrates Ken Swift's body of work, from B-boy battles to the concert stage. Pivotal to the globalization of "breakdancing" or "breakin", Swift's work as a master dancer spans over 25 years, crossing borders of race, age, culture, and nationality. Presented by Hip-Hop Theater Festival in partnership w/ Dance Theater Workshop"

 Don't miss it Get tickets for Swift Solos here (for Sept 29th, 30th and Oct 1st and 2nd. only!) More information about the HHTF can be found at the website.

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Ma'claim murals in West LA

As a follow up post to my visit to Motana paint store in Echo Park I drove over to West LA to catch more Ma'claim work since I couldn't make the live painting and conversation at Goethe-Institut. You can  read more about the people involved and the on-going German-Cali cultural exchange at the Drowning blog.

To be honest taking pics of Ma'claim's work was poor consellation prize to the event, but better than nothing ;)

Ma'claim mural @ Boombang Design (west wall)

Ma'claim mural @ Boombang Design (east wall)
"The MA’Claim crew began back in 1999 when Akut, Case, and Rusk starting collaborating together. During their initial years together the trio focused mainly on Weimar, Germany. It was Rusk who first connected with Tasso and from there things took off quickly. Each of the four artists already had amazingly strong photorealistic spray skills on their own and together they complemented each other just perfectly and became a force to be reckoned with. It was Tasso who dubbed the crew MA’Claim in January of 2001." Juxtapoz Magazine

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

LA's new Montana (graffiti) paint store...Ma'claim and Risk

Although the new Montana store has been open for a couple of months last night was the official "opening."

Montana sounds American, but I was told it's German, so it was no surprise some of the German graffiti crew were in the house. Parked outside was a truck called the "Mobile Mural Lab." And painted on the right panel was Ma'claim's (Akut, Tasso, Case, Rusk) photorealistic work. On the left panel was Risk's piece.

Ma'claim, Germany
Risk, WCA Los Angeles
 LA's Graff O.G.s I don't know many of the graffiti names in LA, but I did recognize Slick and Risk.

Pic borrowed from Slick's blog
 Live and Direct Supported by LA Art Machine, Ma'claim will be painting live today at the Gothe-Institut Los Angeles which is the German cultural center that hosted another hip hop event this year, the screening of Florian Gaag's Whole Train film. There's also a panel discussion with Retna and Tom Kummer (who I don't know much about.) Read more about Ma'claim at their blog.

"AKUT, TASSO, CASE and RUSK a.k.a. MA’CLAIM have managed to paint their way up to the very top of the international Graffiti scene in no time.  The crew from the former GDR has breathed fresh air into the world of graffiti writing due to their peerless workmanship of a mix of classic graffiti and photorealism.

Their extraordinary productions have set new impulses within the scene. Ma’Claim have attracted an international fan community and are an inspirational source for other graffiti artists. 
Individual members Case and Akut ( one half of the duo "Herakut") already had solo exhibitions at renown galleries in Los Angeles, this is their first visit and collaboration in Los Angeles with the crew." Goethe-Institut

On the move Although there's no website yet you can read about the Mobile Mural Lab here.
"Providing communities with visual space...Free of charge...No permit required."

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Stand up Hong Kong: Mochilla and Vtech make amazing hip hop

What does an Irish guy, a Californian
and a Hong Kong phone company have to do with hip hop?

Everything! If you saw any of the live orchestral renditions of JDilla or video remixes by J.Rocc you may know a little about Mochilla, a creative visual agency in Los Angeles who has been  underwritten by VTech, a 34-year old Hong Kong Chinese consumer electronics firm.

To explain what's going on I had to read J To The Aap's blog. Basically, Mochilla created three awesome live orchestra concerts in 2009 as part of its "Timeless" series. These were recorded and released as a limited-edition DVD set. Then the DVDs were put in the hands of J.Rocc who remixed them live in a VJ fashion. See the videos below.

"Timeless: The Composer/Arranger Series is the name of a concert series that was created in homage to the composer/arrangers who have influenced hip-hop in the most literal and profound ways. Timeless was conceived by production house Mochilla in Los Angeles during February and March 2009 and included the performances of over 150 musicians in front of ecstatic sold out crowds. These three historic events were recorded and filmed in exacting detail with Mochilla's unmistakable style."

The Mulatu Astatke and Arthur Verocai DVDs are fresh, but it's the 60-piece orchestra led by Miguel Atwood-Ferguson that stands out for me. Not only because it was a tribute to JDilla, but it also featured special guests Bilal, Dwele, Posdnuos, Talib Kweli and others. Behind the mixing board was legendary Grammy award-winning producer/mixer, Bob Power who actually worked with Dilla whilst he was still with us, but is probably more famous for in the studio with Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Nas, KRS-One, Big Daddy Kane. This was history in the making!

"The energy onstage was infectious, and the audience was just as emotionally invested in the performance as the musicians. One could feel the grand swoops and shimmering intricacies of the music just by the motion of Atwood-Fergusons hands. When Dwele came out to do Angel, he had to stand back in awe for several moments to take in the beauty of what he was about to sing over.
In true Dilla fashion, one classic begets another, and we got to see that progression take place right before our eyes.Diana Moreira led us through the bossa nova lilt of Stan Getz and Luiz Bonfas Saudade Vem Correndo, containing the famous hook Dilla sampled into the Pharcydes Runnin. Minutes later, the orchestra changed tempo and transformed the bossa nova mood into Dillas inspired jam with vocal contributions by Amp Fiddler, Bilal and Shafiq Husayn of Sa-Ra. Bilal then sang Reminesce and brought the crowd to the verge of rapture.
The night rounded out when Posdnuous surprised everyone and did his verse of De la Souls Stakes is High, and then brought on Talib Kweli to do Doves verse. The chorus which included OhNo, Alchemist, Illa J, Frank Nitty, Rhettmatic, Ma Dukes, J Davey, Houseshoes sang out the refrain Love, Vibration – eventually turning the mic over to the audience to sing along. An encore of Slum Villages Fall in Love left everyone with the sweet high that only falling in love can bring about.
People will be talking about this majestic performance for years and blessed are the ones who were able to see it bloom firsthand." Mochilla

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Official Roc Raida L.A. tribute - this Friday @ Echoplex

Come out and support DJs Boogie Blind, Rob Swift, Rhettmatic, Babu, J-Rocc, Mr. Choc and special guests as they perform at a fundraiser for the late Roc Raida.

This special event is held at The Echoplex in Los Angeles, CA although donations can also be sent via using the email address:

This DJ event is supported by VTech who has been underwriting other music and hip hop events. See my next post on other VTech events that support talented artists and broaden the scope of hip hop.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

UK stand up! Snoop Dogg loves Coronation Street!

On the streets of the 213...Long Beach, California Snoop Dogg rides around in his lowrider pimped out with a DVD system.

But who would've guessed Snoop is rocking the UK soap "Coronation Street" in his ride?! Self-confessed "Corrie" (as it's known in the UK) fan, Snoop, says he's been watching for 11 years! Who knows why...may be the "everyday lives of working class people in Manchester, England" is like being a Rollin' 20 Crip in Long Beach?

To celebrate Corrie's 50th birthday Snoop Dogg taped a video message to show his love for the 161 (the area code for Manchester, UK where Corrie is filmed!)

"Snoop told fans during a visit to Manchester, ahead a concert at the city's Apollo, that he had asked his agent to negotiate him a role.
A spokeswoman for Granada said: "He's obviously a great character but hard to see how he'd fit into Weatherfield." She said they had yet to receive an approach from the performer, whose real name is Calvin Broadus.
He said: "I had my agent reach out to them to see if they could try to get me on and they said they were interested so hopefully it might happen.
"It would be perfect for me to be on the show...I love the whole dynamic, the way it is put together, it is my world, it is something I could fall into." BBC

And in other news...It seems that Snoop isn't the only one who wants in on Corrie. adidas has been pushing it's "Celebrate Originality" tagline to the limit and has been sponsoring "adidas Originals street parties!" This video is adidas's tribute to the UK's longest running soap which featured live sets by Badly Drawn Boy and Bad Lieutenant (Featuring Bernard Sumner from New Order and Stephen Morris from Joy Division.)

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

"Bouncing Cats" at Urbanworld, NYC today!

This weekend the BET Urbanworld Film Festival is showing Nabil Elderkin's "Bouncing Cats," a film that captures how powerful hip hop can be. And how global it is.

The film about the Breakdance Project Uganda (B.P.U.) founded by Abraham “Abramz” Tekya is narrated by rap heavyweight, Common, and also features K'naan, Mos Def and One of the most uplifting quotes from Tekya is: "I think music and dance can help us find peace."

BOUNCING CATS  film trailer from nabil elderkin on Vimeo.

"Uganda has been called one of the worst places on earth to be a child. In the South, children face the threat of poverty and disease. In the North, these threats are enflamed by a brutal, mindless war inflicted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (L.R.A.) that has divided families, displaced millions, and led to the abduction and mutilation of tens of thousands of children resulting in the deterioration of identity and culture.

Bouncing Cats is the inspiring story of one man’s attempt to create a better life for the children of

Uganda using the unlikely tool of hip-hop with a focus on b-boy culture and breakdance. In 2006, Abraham “Abramz” Tekya, a Ugandan b-boy and A.I.D.S. orphan created Breakdance Project Uganda (B.P.U.). The dream was to establish a free workshop that would empower, rehabilitate and heal the community by teaching youth about b-boy culture. Based in Kampala, Uganda, B.P.U. has recently expanded to include permanent classes in Gulu, Northern Uganda. Abramz teaches classes three times a week to more than 300 kids from all parts of the country. Many of the children are homeless, victims of war and poverty, and few can afford proper schooling yet they walk from miles away to attend the B.P.U. classes. As Abramz says, “This is where many people’s pride is. It’s a skill that no one can take away from us.”

Crazy Legs, one of the founding members of the seminal Rock Steady Crew visited Uganda after receiving an invitation from Abramz to teach b-boy classes. What he discovered upon his arrival was both heartbreaking and inspiring. Traveling throughout Uganda, from the southern slums to the war-torn North, Crazy Legs encountered a passion for hip-hop and desire to learn amongst the most squalid conditions.

Bouncing Cats follows Abramz, Crazy Legs, and Breakdance Project Uganda on a journey to use hip-hop culture for positive social change.
" Nabil Elderkin

The trailer features Crazy Legs holding workshops for the kids. To hear him in interview you can find a (poor quality) audio interview here at Boston's "The Phoenix" blog.

Down under Elderkin is an Australian who lives in the U.S. now. He's one of the respected film makers who is a judge for the "Vimeo Festival + Awards." You can see his work for Kanye West, K'naan, Common, Black Eyed Peas, Seal, Nas and Damian Marley and others at his page.

Jeremy Scott adidas experimental video

And a word from the sponsor The film is supported by Red Bull Media House who has been promoting hip hop events around the world for years and has built a platform that has enabled hip hop to be experienced farther and wider than before.

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fat Beats LA now on

As a follow up to my earlier post about Fat Beats LA closing this weekend I want to share this posting from BlackBook. Bobitto's comments below are the hard-to-swallow reality.

Fat Beats closing will be marked as part of the changing state of hip hop. Just like Factory Records closing in Time Square, Mr Bongos in London and countless other vinyl and beat diggin' meccas that I used to visit on occasion.

Fat Beats' wall of vinyl RIP

*UPDATE* I passed through Fat Beats on Sunday 19th with Jason to share the love and was faced with a M.C. cypher outside with rappers passing the mic. Jason pondered, "where will the talent hang out now?" We will see, but tonight they were here.

"Before Joseph Abajian opened the legendary hip-hop record store Fat Beats back in 1994, shopping for hip-hop vinyl in New York wasn’t easy. “I remember having to go to so many different stores to find records. It made no sense in a city where hip-hop was born,” recalls 39-year-old Abajian, whose frustration would push him to turn his relatively modest mom and pop shop not only into an iconic vinyl playground frequented by artists and fans alike, but a meeting place where the craft of hip-hop always took center stage. Now, 16 years after becoming one of the most recognizable ambassadors of the genre, Fat Beats’ Manhattan flagship store at 406 Avenue of The Americas closed its doors last Saturday, September 4. It was the last nail in the coffin of an era that really ended years ago. 

“In the heyday of Fat Beats in the ‘90s, what other record store could you see Premier, Q-Tip and Crazy Legs, coming through to shop or chill, have a DJ scratching it up on the turntables, MCs freestyling, or graffiti writers comparing each others’ work?” ask Abajian. Such scenes were de rigueur at the NY and LA locations, which is also shutting down on September 18. “Fat Beats is not a company that is selling hip-hop; it’s a hip-hop company.” Wu-Tang Clan member Raekwon recognizes Fat Beats’ decade-old support of hip-hop and says the store will be missed. “Fat Beats was a place where real hip-hoppers and lovers of music could go and find inspiration and influence.”
Designed to look like a hip-hop junkie’s bedroom, every inch of the place was covered with posters, stickers and flyers. And let’s not forget the hypnotizing rows of album covers lining the walls. They were part merchandise, part décor. This was the perfect backdrop to their often sold-out in-store performances by artists like Mos Def, Roc Raida and even Eminem. The enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff were made up of DJs and MCs who had a genuine love for the music and scene. “The closing is bad for hip-hop. My fondest memory was always DJing in there. If you were an artist promoting yourself, Fat Beats was the place to do it,” said influential DJ and producer Pete Rock.
But that was then.
For the last couple of years Fat Beats has been struggling to stay afloat in the midst of a struggling economy, skyrocketing New York rents, and the shift into digital music. It’s a wonder how Fat Beats managed to stay open this long, outliving mega chains like Virgin Megastore, HMV, and Tower records. “Music has taken a digital turn, so we’re beginning to see some of the foundational elements like vinyl disappear,” says Raekwon. Despite Fat Beats’ retail issues, the online store’s digital sales of MP3s are growing.

“A lot of people who made up the community we had at Fat Beats moved on to Hollywood. They stopped scratching, using vinyl, and many just fell off, so the energy has not been there in the store for some time,” muses Abajian.

That may be true, but all last week Fat Beats was looking like its former self. The store was bustling with activity—with live performances from Immortal Technique, Rob Swift, Masta Ace, Pete Rock, J-Live and DJ Premier—as the crowds returned in full force to bid a bitter sweet adieu to this New York landmark and reminisce on its legacy. “Indie retail is something that is needed in hip-hop. Best Buy, Target, and Wal-Mart have a dominant presence in the market, and if they decide to pass you have nowhere to sell your record,” says Abajian.

“If it wasn’t for Fat Beats, I would have never had an outlet for music. They made me see that I can record music even if it’s not mainstream,” says Jise One, an MC of the now-defunct The Arsonists. The group reunited at Fat Beats on September 1st for a special performance. “It has been years since I last stepped inside. I guess now subconsciously I feel like I might have taken Fat Beats for granted.”
Therein lies the problem, according to DJ and writer Bobbito Garcia. “I really don’t want to hear any DJ say ‘Oh, I’m so sad Fat Beats is closing,” he says. One of the foremost international DJs, Bobbito has stayed true to spinning only vinyl. “If [DJs] converted to digital, or they download songs for free and subsequently stopped shopping at Fat Beats, or any vinyl store, then they’ve contributed to the problem.”

Nevertheless, Abajian is excited for what the future holds for his company. Fat Beats is now shifting its focus to their successful label, online store (where vinyl is sold) and Fat Beats Distribution. “We have our best releases at the label right now,” says Abajian. He is also currently working on plans to open a virtual store, The Last Stop, where he hopes to educate consumers on the history of the four elements of hip-hop: emceeing, DJing, break-dancing and graffiti. While hip-hop vinyl in New York will now, once again, be hard to come by, fans would agree that Fat Beats’ uniqueness lay not just in the indie gems they stocked but in the inimitable retail experience they nurtured
" BlackBook

Who would've guessed analog's demise!?

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

adidas Originals advert inspires a "bootleg of bootlegs"

Cool shit gets bootlegged. But, this is an audacious double-bootleg!

Bootleg #1: The soundtrack on the latest Adidas Originals advert was the cause of a group of vinyl trainspotters to start diggin' in the crates to discover the tune.

These "archaeologists" eventually found that it was the classic 'Why Can't There Be Love' by Dee Edwards and out it out on a limited-edition 7" vinyl. (It seems a remastered version also recently featured on Gilles Peterson's 'Digs America Vol 2' album. You gotta love the Brits! :) )

Bootleg #2: The vinyl was printed up on a "adidas Originals" record label. But, it seems it's an entrepreneur's venture and not one that is sanctioned by anyone in adidas HQ.

A strictly hip hop adidas advert (shown in the UK)

Collect them all The Dee Edwards 7" was followed up with another featuring Mulatu Astatke's 'Yegelle Tezeta.' The b-side has a mash up with nasty Nas' and Damian Marley vocals. Does it work? You decide if you can grab yourself a copy.

Dee Edwards' original

Dee Edwards' remixed (and bootlegged)

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Roy Ayers x Pete Rock - tribute in Paris

If you're in Paris this weekend you have to rush Revive Music Group’s tribute to the legendary jazz musician Roy Ayers!

How many classic hip hop joints have sampled and been inspired by Mr. Ayers musical genius? Here's a, probably incomplete, list on that says 70 artists sampled Roy Ayers. May be these are the ones that got caught?! ;)

I'm not sure when I discovered Roy Ayers, but X-Clan's debut 1990 album, "To the East, Blackwards" got me hunting down "Red, Black and Green"

This REVIVE DA LIVE series has taken years to produce and  HarlemStage presented the show this April in New York. Check out the video below. Now it's Europe's turn to get some vibes!

Roy Ayers Tribute / Speech  & Performance - 4.24.10 - Revive Da Live from revivemusic on Vimeo.

"For those who may not know, Roy Ayers is one of the top sampled musicians in hip hop. His music has influenced and inspired many producers that have in turn created anthems and legendary songs that continue to inspire the current generation of hip hop lovers. 
To bridge the gap, blue note recording artists The Robert Glasper Experiment featuring Chris Dave on Drums, Derrick Hodge on Bass and Casey Benjamin on Alto/Vocoder will perform sequences between Roy Ayers selections transition them into Pete Rock productions that were created from his musical influence.
We are pleased to announce special guest Stefon Harris will also be a part of this monumental tribute. The live reinterpretations and interpolations of both works serve as the conduit to understanding the harmonic relationship between the past and present." Revive Music Group

Thanks to Frolab for the heads up.

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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Hip hop recycles itself and inspires others

Back in July I wrote about Slick Rick's tune that Nas covered. As I listened to "Hey Young World" I caught the lyrics that were used as a hook in another rap tune.

Slick Rick and O.C's 12" vinyl covers

If you listen carefully, you'll find 100s of such vocal samples pop up in other rapper's tunes. I've chosen this example because the Slick Rick derivative is dope in its own right! And I'd never seen the O.C. video before YouTube, but I do have the 12" packed away in my collection the U.K.

Slick Rick "Hey Young World" (check out 1min 18secs)

O.C. "Time's Up" (check out the chorus hook)

Trivia Can you name which artist recycled O.C.'s own lyrics, "Rappers are in danger..." in his tune that became a big hit?

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Friday, September 03, 2010

Digger's Delight, DJ Muro in Harlem (My hip hop summer pt.5)

DJ Muro; Lord Finesse in the crowd

I've been listening to DJ Muro's mixtapes for a while so I planned my New York excursion to make sure I wasn't going to miss this "Digger's Delight" jam in Harlem, hosted by Tools of War.

Muro is a big man in the breaks world, so much so that Lord Finesse (D.I.T.C.) introduced Muro and validated him as the "king of diggin'!"

When I arrived in the park, Rockin Rob was spinning breaks. I don't know much about his (and Chuck City's) band "The Original Mean Machine" (not the same band released on Sugar Hill in 1981.)

Legacy Muro has been on the hip hop scene for over 20 years with a heap of recordings and mixtapes released. Since most of his music is inspired by overseas he has had many collaborations, despite being based in Tokyo. Lord Finesse, Amir & Kon, Gilles Peterson to name a few.

His latest collaborations include a dope 7" vinyl bag with Porter and a cool coffee table book of 7" single sleeve designs.

Here's Muro rocking O/D club in Tokyo in 2008.

Tools of War Each park jam has a different vibe and St. Nick's is my favorite park so far, although Crotona Park is where real hip hop lives. When you exit the B train subway station you can hear the beats thumping down above you. It's insane! Like the turntables and speakers are going to collapse on top of you!

Something for your iPod This recording from Old School Radio Hour gives you a front row seat at a Tools of War jam a couple of weeks earlier with Rockin Rob on the decks. Feel the vibe! Check out 7 mins into the recording...a crackly "The Original Mean Machine" tune! Dope!

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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

RIP: Fat Beats stores in NYC and LA closing

Fat Beats in New York and Los Angeles are closing

Fat Beats, the place Biz Markie and countless other hip hop heads copped their tunes, is closing this month after 16 years. May be the writing was on the wall when its Amsterdam store closed in back in 2007.

I was reminiscing about my first visit to Fat Beats New York in the 90s when Spike still worked there a few years after it had opened. And of course, I remember Amsterdam since I used to visit on occasion. Now I live in LA I have to say that I've only been in the store a handful of times. And that's the problem...record stores alone cannot survive on walk-in customers alone! 

Video from the 90s heyday of MTV...

Fat Beats 2010

Good news That's why Fat Beats will continue its record label and online retail store which has been doing well, according to reports. Fat Beats head honcho, Joe Abajian, has said he's going to build another (high rent) retail store in the future, but I doubt it'll happen...see my bracketed words. Everyone's online and everyone is going digital on some level. I buy vinyl, but it's rare.

But, there is space for a retail store, however the business model has to be right. Here's an example. I first discovered Turntable Lab (which is around the corner from Fat Beats LA) online. The experience is dope (preview tunes) and the selection is wide. The only thing I don't get was the face-to-face time. Then Turntable Lab LA opened. It has DJ equipment, books, clothing and of course vinyl from independent labels. The staff will always point you in the right direction and also uncover tunes you haven't heard on KCRW etc. But I've only been in a few times, but you know they do most of their business online and probably out of state and overseas.

The failure of Fat Beats stores isn't limited to hip hop or independent stores. There has been a sharp decline of stores on the high street, avenue and boulevard for many years. Tower Records used to have the prestigious Piccadilly Circus location. Virgin Records had the Sunset Blvd. storefront. Where are they now?

Tower Records, Piccadilly Circus, London

Last words
It's not too late to support your local independent record store and to support Record Store Day each year.
The closing of Fat Beats is just like one of my friends passing away. They promoted vinyl at its highest degree for the culture of good music and that makes it more difficult to say goodbye.” DJ Premier
Fat Beats New York will be closing on September 4th with Fat Beats LA closing shortly afterwards on September 18th. Special close-out deals are expected in-store and online at Fat Beats.

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