Written by Rafael Martinez
Unbeknownst, to the club going, finger snapping, ay bay bay hollering hip-hop fans, El-P is the architect of one of the biggest independent movements in hip-hop. El-P helped launch Rawkus Records in the minds and hearts of backpackers as part of the legendary trio Company Flow. When his relationship with Rawkus soured, rather than sign with a major, El-P stuck to his indie roots and formed his own label Definitive Jux. In the past seven years indie artist like Cannibal Ox, Aesop Rock, Mr. Lif , RJD2 and Cage have found a creative safe haven in Def Jux. While successfully running the label El-P has continued to develop his solo-career as emcee and producer, recently dropping his sophomore project I’ll Sleep When Your Dead. As reluctant as he maybe to take the title, El-P is a hip-hop mogul on the indie grind.
RAF: I know your touring in support of the album, how has life on the road been treating you?
El-P: It’s been good man, I’m a little exhausted, but I’m managing.
RAF: So everyone seems to have different ways of describing your music and production. It’s been called spacey, futuristic, Bomb Squad-esque, how do you see your music?
El-P: Well I really don’t man. I’m just a kid who grew up in Brooklyn, who fucking loved hip-hop all his life. I just don’t do it. Same way I don’t like to review other peoples’ records.
RAF: Aight (laughs), all your albums you paint this bleak picture of the world highly authoritative and sterile. Where do you see the world in a hundred years?
El-P: I couldn’t even imagine that – hopefully some sort of state of rebuilding, because I think we are headed for some sort of crash. But I couldn’t even imagine the world a hundred years from now. I am still trying to deal with New York City right now.
RAF: I wanted to get your thoughts on the Don Imus and Oprah controversy. I think while everyone is making this outcry, asking hip-hop to create a positive message, yet I know if hip-hop brings a political or empowering message I guarantee they would want hip-hop to return to the bitches and ho’s talk.
El-P: Well you know I agree, but I think the people who are rejecting the bitches and ho’s thing are not the corporate people (laughs). The corporate people love the bitches and ho’s thing. The people who are actually getting offended are actually and legitimately offended by the shit. On that note I am sure this will not make the article I do kinda feel like that whole thing let’s put more curse words on the reversal list and the bleep out list is kinda of like putting a band aide on an open jugular. It doesn’t really seem to be getting to the root of the problem. Its just kinda of funny to me everyone was supporting this shit until the second someone gets offended. I don’t get it. It has been offensive to so many people for so long. Why now all of sudden?
RAF: Let me ask you about your production process and when you sketch the new album are there certain images or feelings and emotions you couldn’t translate into music?
El-P: Well you know it’s getting easier for me. The more I learn about music, the longer I have been in this business, the longer I have been a producer – the translation becomes easier from what is in my head to my hands. Which is why I kinda feel this is my best record because that translation has become quicker, easier and a lot more accurate. For me I am never satisfied, I never think I am good enough, I never think the music is on point enough and I never think I am at the point where I want to be musically. But it’s not because I’m beating myself up or hypercritical. It’s because the more I see, the more I learn and get involved in music, I love it. I have been putting records out since 93, so I am just now starting to really understand what the fuck it is I am trying to do.
RAF: In the same vein are there certain things you feel shouldn’t put a record?
El-P: Well you know usually when I run into those situations – I force myself to put it on a record (laughs). Because those scenarios that are too honest or that your scared to put on a record that reveal something about yourself more than you want to, usually, that’s exactly what you need to be putting on a record. It seems like people are much more willing to put bullshit and lies on a record. That is exactly what I don’t want to put on a record. The stuff that is easier to put on a record, the stuff that won’t expose me and not make me feel uncomfortable that is the shit that needs to be left on the editing floor.
RAF: Going forward has it ever crossed your mind to complete flip the script and change the signature El-P sound? Similarly to DJ Shadow’s last album The Outsider where he concentrated on hyphy music.
El-P: I kinda follow my own heart – I don’t involve the fans, in the creative process. The fact is I do a lot of other projects outside of my record. This is only my second solo record. I’ve done jazz albums, film scores, producing rock records, doing rock remixes. So I don’t really feel I need to make some overt statement about my capabilities as a producer or flip anything. All I feel I need to do is follow my own shit. What the fans get when they follow me is they get a direction they get a confession from where I was at last time.
RAF: So the new album you have some rock collaborations Trent Reznor, Mars Volta and TV on the Radio, considering a lot of the rock/rap collabos have been so fucking awful, do you feel like its picking up a loaded gun?
El-P: I wasn’t afraid to do it, I was cautious about the way that I did it. Because of how tragically fucking bad it usually is when people do it. The thing is I am actually cool with these people. There is actually some sort of relationship there. Its not some bullshit – there is a real respect between everybody on the record. So I just kinda figured out a way to do it. For me I had to bring them into my world and not make it about the collaboration. I brought these people on because I heard parts on the record that I thought would be cool to have them on. Not because I wanted to create a record and they were willing to do a song with me and I made a song around that. I all ready had all of these songs and I just treated it like a sample. I looked at it like the art of sampling. Name me one classic hip-hop record from the 80’s to the 90’s that didn’t sample directly from a rock record? Shit, I’ll give you money. Basically to me it’s an extension of the whole breakdown and reconstruction of a genre, that’s what hip-hop producers do. For me if I found what Mars Volta sung on some record, I would have sampled that shit. A lot of people do the overstated collaboration, the collaboration should never be more important than the song, the idea.
RAF: Yeah I agree your approach as sampling is probably the best. I don’t think I have seen a rock/rap collaboration that was truly organic, where there was no tension.
El-P: I don’t think your right, I understand why you would say that but I treat it as sampling but they where genuine collaborations. I weaved into my music – I took the stuff apart I played with it. But there is a lot of common ground man – it’s not that big of a deal. Especially when you listen to Trent Reznor, to me he is not the biggest leap production wise. It is a leap to a degree. But most of that leap is in the minds of the people who define the genres from a critical stand point. When you listen to this dude’s (Trent Reznor) drums, that’s why a lot of hip-hop cats like Nine Inch Nails because of the bass and the drums – the shit is just savage. With Mars Volta – their structure, the effects they use the way go about there shit isn’t so impossibly different from some of the approaches I have taken. Most of the leaps and hurdles that have to be overcome when you do something like this is a) the way people perceive it and b) just making the shit sound good. It requires some thought and I knew I could pull it off.
RAF: So how do you feel your first solo album Fantastic Damage and I’ll Sleep When Your Dead relate to each other?
El-P: This record was written from the prospective of someone who’s been alive and shuffling around New York City for five years in the midst of all this bullshit. It really was about struggle. One man, one physiological prospective. Trying to wake up everyday and function like everything is still cool but everything isn’t necessarily cool. I think that’s the reality of New York right now. Shit man we are trauma victims a lot has gone on since then that has really sucked some of the soul, energy and life out of all of us. Whether or not we are admitting it, people are fucked up right now. I was fucked up personally, I’ve been through a lot of shit and this is what this record is about. It’s not about being afraid of the future or anything like that, its literally me trying to survive and walk through this city and still maintain sanity and life. A lot of my friends didn’t do that and didn’t survive. As far as future albums I don’t have a grand vision I just try to take snapshots and make it the most genuine shit possible.
RAF: I know you from Brooklyn, I was born and raised there myself and live a few blocks away from the Atlantic Yards project. This is gonna change the borough completely. Where do you stand on this?
El-P: I am pretty worried about it to be honest. I am not looking forward to it. The neighborhood I live in is going to be greatly affected by it. I am not going to front. All my life I have lived in Brooklyn and it’s always been a refuge, some sanity – in comparison. It didn’t get the Walt Disney makeover like Manhattan did.
RAF: It’s been about 7 years give or take since your record label Definitive Jux started. Back then did you see the label where it’s at now, are you happy with its direction?
El-P: I am constantly busting my ass, as we all are to ensure that it is a better label at all times. As always I think it is a work in progress. But yes I think we got a really good thing going and it’s mostly because of the amazing people who work there and because of the artists we work with. It’s been a fun ride – I still feel it’s got a lot of places to go. As long as it continues to make sense I will fuck wit it. I am sure one day eventually I will walk away from this whole business, you know and just do music. But in the meantime I have the opportunity to help cats help create a career for themselves. It’s definitely something I enjoy. From day one we constantly try to make our shit the tightest shit, the most transparent, the best independent label on the planet. I don’t know if we can claim that but we are up there.
RAF: It seems to me with Def Jux people have generally two reactions they either love or they don’t fuck with it. Does this bother you?
El-P: Well I think there are people out there who make up their minds on shit based on stuff besides the music. There are perceptions that have come, based on magazines that there is some sort of unifying theme or factor to all the music that is put out on Def Jux. Anybody can like our music or not like our music, but to say you don’t like any music on the label, even the music that has not even come out yet (laughs). But I kinda feel that’s the mood and vibe of fandom right now – people just draw hard lines. When I grew up people listened to rock ‘n’ roll or hip-hop, but a lot of motherfuckers listened to both. Now its I listen to this type of hip-hop or this type of hip-hop (laughs), its pretty ridiculous, I think anyone over the age of like 29 looks that at that whole attitude as silly.
Russell Simmons’ Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation’s Eighth Annual “Art For Life” Adds Forest Whitaker, Kerry Washington, Rev Run and Family and Many More Plus Designer Yellow Wardrobe for AuctionJune 29, 2007 at 3:25 pm | Posted in Hip Hop News/Press Releases | Leave a comment
Russell Simmons and Kimora Lee Simmons and Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation are pleased to announce Oscar®-winner Forest Whitaker, Tracy V. Maitland of Advent Capital Management, LLC and David G. Rosenberg of Unifund as honorees, and actress Kerry Washington as an Event Chair at this year’s ART FOR LIFE East Hampton 2007. Washington will join Damon Dash and Rachel Roy who were announced earlier as Event Chairs; Ivanka Trump and Antonio “L.A.” Reid are the Honorary Chairs. In addition Rush Philanthropic co-founder, iconic Hip-Hop artist and star of MTV’s “Run’s House”, Joseph “Rev. Run” Simmons, along with his wife Justine and children, Vanessa, Angela, JoJo, Russy (Russell) and Diggy (Daniel) will also be in attendance at this year’s event.
ART FOR LIFE East Hampton, which takes place on Saturday, July 28th 2007 at the Simmons’ East Hampton estate, is Rush Philanthropic’s primary annual fundraising effort to help thousands of underserved New York City children. Previously announced honorees include BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music, Inc.) and Judith Jamison of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Close to 900 leaders from the entertainment, arts, business, and philanthropic communities attend the event each year, which is highlighted by live and silent auctions. The event is one of the hottest tickets of the summer and sells out annually; last year’s gala raised almost $1.4 million to provide disadvantaged New York City youth with invaluable arts experiences.
“Giving every child the opportunity to develop into the most they can be is one of the greatest gifts you can give,” emphasized Kimora Lee Simmons. “Art For Life is an event that enables Rush Philanthropic to do its work, granting funds to much needed and very worthwhile programs for children who may have little else in their lives to look forward to. I am so proud to be a part of this event and a part of the great work Rush Philanthropic does every day.”
For the first time, this year’s theme “Not So Mellow Yellow,” will introduce the fabulous “Yellow Wardrobe” for the luxury auction. Clothing designer Rachel Roy, jewelry designer Lorraine Schwartz and shoe designer Guiseppe Zanotti, among other top fashion designers to the stars, have all signed on, each donating a special yellow item for the auction’s “Yellow Wardrobe”.
“As a designer creativity is important to me, and Rush Philanthropic embraces and supports the artistic inclinations of young minds. I am so happy to be able to lend support to this group by donating a dress. The Stacey Twist dress is a reflection of how a confident woman
dresses in the summer – colorful and effortlessly elegant,” shares designer Rachel Roy.
Iconic artist Francesco Clemente, is the 2007 ART FOR Life “Featured Artist”. Born in Naples, Italy, the self-taught expressionist and surrealist painter, who has worked on collaborative projects with Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol, will create an original piece of art, to be auctioned off at the event. A limited edition of the work will be produced and $30,000 Platinum Easel table patrons will each receive a signed and numbered print.
Platinum sponsor Land Rover is pulling out all the stops on one of the hottest, top of the line items in ART FOR LIFE auction history. Land Rover’s 20th Anniversary Range Rover, valued at $125,000 and one of only 40 vehicles of its kind built for North America will be offered in the Live Auction. This limited edition Range Rover features a 400HP Supercharged Engine, Brembo high-performance brakes, a custom exterior of white pearl paint, two-tone ivory/ebony leather and suede seats, custom engraved name plates, a custom matching instrument panel clock and an entertainment center that boasts a rear-seat 6-DVD changer. World-renowned Simon de Pury of Phillips de Pury & Company is sure to add excitement as the gala’s Auctioneer.
The ART FOR LIFE weekend will be preceded by two main events. Platinum Sponsor Land Rover, along with Russell Simmons and Rush Philanthropic will host a pre-party for VIP, celebrity and platinum level patrons on Tuesday, July 10th at Land Rover’s New York City show room. Attendees will enjoy passed hors d’oeuvres, cocktails sponsored by Silver Sponsor Ciroc Vodka and get to preview the 20th Anniversary Range Rover. Rush Arts Gallery in Manhattan’s Chelsea arts district will also host a VIP Art Auction Preview on Wednesday, July 20th. The Gallery will showcase 30-50 contemporary pieces that will be available for auction during the ART FOR LIFE event.
Funds raised through ART FOR LIFE will provide support for many projects throughout the year dedicated to reaching out to New York City youth through the arts. Each year three youth groups are selected as the event’s featured beneficiaries. This year’s groups are Friends of Island Academy, The POINT and Working Playground. These are just three of the over 50 programs to which Rush Philanthropic provides grants throughout the year. Proceeds from ART FOR LIFE will also support Rush Philanthropic’s own signature education programs; as well as provide support for Rush Arts Gallery exhibitions featuring the works of emerging artists of color; and help launch Rush East New York, an arts oasis the foundation will open in Brooklyn this fall.
Since its inception, Rush has provided grants to dozens of non-profit organizations, including Donors Choose, Impact Repertory Theatre, Urban Word NYC, Free Arts for Abused Children, Art Start, Studio in a School, Arts Connection, P.E.N.C.I.L., Brooklyn Steppers Marching Band, Brotherhood/Sister Sol, The Ghetto Film School, and the Northside Center for Child Development, and has served countless visual artists through the exhibitions and activities of Rush Arts Gallery and Resource Center.
Tickets to ART FOR LIFE start at $1,500 per person. For ticket/table purchases, please contact Haven LLC at 212.810.4490 or email ArtForLife@havenllc.com. For further information about Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, please contact Marc Eastwood, Development Associate at 917.229.7207, or via email at email@example.com.
ABOUT RUSH PHILANTHROPIC ARTS FOUNDATION
Founded in 1995 by brothers Russell, Danny and Joseph “Rev. Run” Simmons, Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation is dedicated to providing disadvantaged urban youth with significant exposure and access to the arts, as well as providing exhibition opportunities to under-represented artists and artists of color. While its primary emphasis is the arts, Rush Philanthropic is committed to the general well being of young people by considering a wide range of concerns. A 501(C) 3 organization, Rush Philanthropic fulfills its mission through three core programs: grants, exhibitions and mentoring. The Rush Community Grants Program annually provides direct funding to over 50 nonprofit organizations that offer education programming in all disciplines of the arts to New York City youth. Rush also runs two arts exhibition and education facilities: Rush Arts Gallery and Resource Center in Manhattan’s Chelsea arts district and the Corridor Gallery in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill neighborhood. Our Rush Kids Visual Arts Mentorship Programs use arts education to create a spark that fires the imagination and creativity of the urban youth we serve. The Rush Impact Mentorship Initiative allows the foundation’s leadership to reach out to young people by taking them behind the scenes at Rush Communications’ headquarters for in-depth Q&A sessions with Russell Simmons and executives in music, fashion, and creative-related professions.
The organization is currently in a fundraising campaign for Rush East New York, an 11,000 square-foot arts education and resource center in the East New York section of Brooklyn. The building was a gift from United Homes. Rush Philanthropic believes in the vital importance of lifelong exposure to the arts, nurtured in early childhood, and anchored in sustained, creative experiences throughout one’s life.
Written by Kim Reed
Okay guys first let me introduce Ben, talk about funny! This guy knows funny. His standup certainly isn’t for kids but nonetheless he is hilarious. I got the opportunity to interview him and just laugh. I tell you no lie, he is grateful for it all cause he can do it all! I’m telling you guys, Ben Glieb is an all around comedian. Check him out on Myspace.com and right here in this interview…
The Source: Hi Ben, it’s Kim from The Source, how’s it going?
Ben: I’m good, how are you?
The Source: Am good, first let me take the time to thank you for doing this opportunity.
Ben: You’re welcome!
The Source: What’s going on, what’s new?
Ben: Am here in Atlanta kicking it in my hotel room, on the internet, waiting on my show tonight.
The Source: How is the show looking tonight?
Ben: It’s looking real good. We got all kinds of people rollin out to come check out my stand up, fans of the show and fans of my act.
The Source: I would love to experience that, hopefully I will one day.
Ben: Where do you live L.A.?
The Source: No, I live in New York.
Ben: I may be doing some colleges out there.
The Source: I will defiantly look out for that. You started off doing hidden camera?
Ben: Yeah man, I started off in college, doing my own TV show called “The Gleib Show” that was hidden camera and news pieces and sketches. I also started doing standup when I graduated college, shortly after that, real quick, I met success in the L.A. standup scene and then I sold my show “The Gleib Show” to National Lampoon Network for like colleges across the country. I did my thing there, the show was hidden camera
The Source: That’s great. So how did the “Wedding Crashers” piece come along?
Ben: It was actually some good luck of mine. A good friend of mine who was on “Punked”, Owen Benjamin went to audition for it. He went in and so happens the casting director asked if he could recommend anybody else for the show and next thing you know…
The Source: That was a good lookout for you and an even better friend!
Ben: Yeah pretty crazy question to ask for someone who wanted the job himself. It was a huge looking out.
The Source: What was the best standup u did and where?
Ben: I like to perform on TV, I like to do the “Late Show”, that was great; you get to perform for a million people at once. It’s better than 200 people in Iowa, but as far as gigs… I don’t know. I like performing a lot, I like performing for ethnic crowds. I love performing at Latino nights, they go nuts. Performing in L.A., there were a couple nights I performed on the comedy two’s show at the improvs and I been on line up’s like in one night Dave Chappelle, Dane Cook, Sarah Silverman all in one line up.
The Source: Those are all really great comedians, being in that atmosphere what was it like for you?
Ben: It’s incredible; you grow up watching these people. It’ s pretty crazy watching these comics and all of a sudden you’re a colleague of theirs and you’re doing the exact same job and I follow these people. They say it’s hard to follow great people, and I followed all these people. I followed Chappelle, I followed Dane Cook, and it’s all the same time an incredible honor but it also legitimizes you like crazy. You work your ass off at the little workout rooms and open mic. Build to a certain point where you’re playing the big clubs and you stop and realize how far you’ve come. A lot of the times I’ll end up in the line up with all these stars whom I looked up to and that’s when you can’t help but take pause and look around and be like damn this is how far I’ve come already and I barely getting started and it gives you like this crazy fuel to keep going.
The Source: Do you have any major inspirations that led you to this point in your life, to allow you to pursue your goals and dreams? Who are the top three people that you can honestly say they’re the reason I’m going to do this.
Ben: Top three people have to be George Carlin, just a genius prolific comic. He comes out with an hour every year. Brilliant passionate shit! Eddie Murphy, I love Eddie Murphy, delirious and raw and all these amazing movies. Like I don’t just want to do stand up I want to act and write, direct, and produce and stand up. I’m already doing all that stuff. I had a movie last year with Charlie Murphy called “Bar stars”, and Eddie Murphy showed how to be so funny, brilliant less comedy but so charming and likable on camera. Then you get a big film career from it and become one of the top names in comedy. Third is probably Johnny Carson, because I always liked talk shows too.
Being able to put people to bed with just great talk show, where you get to introduce people to their favorite stars and chat with them. I think maybe I want to end my career in 30 or 40 years from now hosting a late night talk show. Johnny did it with such charm and humor.
The Source: Since you want to pursue acting, produce and direct, would you star in your own movies? Will you use big names?
Ben: The answer is simple I would like to do both. (Laughs) I’ve already written and directed my own “The Glieb Show” for Lampoon and we sold that to Fox last year. Lauren Michaels was producing it. I got a few scripts in the works for movies I want to direct and act in. I wrote them, but until I get those scripts polished and get a lil more “cash’e” in the industry, I’m very happy to just get parts in films with people I admire, you know? Being in the movie with Charlie Murphy was very legitimizing for me. He’s hilarious for real.
I was up for the lead role in a dramatic film where I was gonna playing this crazy, homeless guy who witnessed all this tragedy in his life. I got called in for that. Some people seen me on Wedding Crashers and you wouldn’t think from doing hidden camera comedy you’d be seen at that but, as much as the industry can be bullshit, there are some quality people out there who can recognize talent and can maybe spot something that you believe you can bring to the table. I didn’t get that movie but I got the call back and they were considering me.
I never even thought much about dramatic acting. Basically I just want to maybe seize those opportunities and just keep bringing my comedy and my performances to larger and larger audiences. For me it’s about getting people a chance to relax and take a load off, smile, and kick back. This world is so stressful these days. If I could make people think a little bit great but, if I can just make them laugh, that’s my #1 goal. That’s all I really care to do is just give them a chance to kick back and take their minds off their problems for a minute.
The Source: I’m pretty sure you met many people in the industry, who were the most inspiring to meet?
Ben: That’s a good question. Chappelle. He’s an icon in comedy. At the time his show was on the air and he was probably the #1 comedian in the country. I went up to him at the laugh factory and I thought he wouldn’t care to spend ten seconds with me and he was so humble I told him I loved his special and that I love the jokes he told about how he was with his kid and he was looking at his kid and said ‘you came from my balls man” I told chapelle that cracked me up and he was so touched by my compliment you could see that it meant a lot to him that I really appreciated what he did.
He looked at me and was like awe man really thanks you so much for saying that. That was a great lesson to learn for me. I also met Elton John and that was cool. He was about to go on stage to receive the lifetime achievement award. That’s a pretty self centered moment you’re getting an award for what he’s done, and I asked him if I could take a picture with him backstage. He was the nicest guy. He was like yeah of course let’s find a good backdrop and make sure you like the picture. I was like man this guy got his priorities right… I will take time out enjoy my fans.
New York Fashion Week’s hottest ticket, Fashion Rocks(TM), returns for its fourth year to the legendary Radio City Music Hall on September 6, 2007. Music’s A-list performers and the world’s hottest fashions will once again share the stage in a star-studded extravaganza celebrating the relationship between fashion and music. The concert will air the following night, Friday, September 7, 2007 in a two-hour special on the CBS television network (9:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT).The show, hosted by Entourage star Jeremy Piven, will feature performances by Aerosmith, Alicia Keys, Avril Lavigne, Carrie Underwood, Fall Out Boy, Fergie, Jennifer Hudson, Jennifer Lopez, Ludacris, Martina McBride, Santana and Usher.
“The synergy between fashion and music is even more pronounced now than it was when we first created Fashion Rocks(TM) three years ago, said Conde Nast Media Group president, Richard D. Beckman. “Each year the line between the two becomes increasingly blurred as more musicians launch fashion lines and more designers align themselves with musicians. Fashion Rocks(TM) 2007 will feature outstanding performers from both worlds who span the spectrum of musical genres and fashion styles and bring to life that special relationship.”
The Fashion Rocks(TM) magazine will also return this year. Slated to reach over 60 million readers and filled with even more editorial content, Fashion Rocks(TM) magazine will accompany the September issue of 17 Conde Nast titles. Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour and Contributing Editor Jonathan Van Meter will again take the helm as editorial director and editor-in-chief, respectively.
New to the scene is OBO, an international fashion production company. OBO will be producing the highly anticipated fashion segments that appear throughout the concert. OBO most recently produced the 2007 Victoria’s Secret fashion show, as well as shows for Zegna, Marchesa, Tommy Hilfiger, Chloe and Behnaz Sarafpour, among others.
Executive producers of Fashion Rocks(TM) are Anthony Eaton, executive director and president of Tall Pony Productions and Richard D. Beckman, president of Conde Nast Media Group and Kingdom Entertainment. Mr. Eaton is an award-winning video producer whose roster of accolades includes GRAMMY(R) Awards, Cable Aces and NAACP Awards. His work has also received numerous film festival honors.
Fashion Rocks(TM) is sponsored by five key advertisers: Chevrolet, Citi, Revlon, Dillard’s, and Nexxus.
Fashion Rocks(TM) is a production of Conde Nast Media Group, a unit of Conde Nast Publications which includes corporate sales, marketing, interactive and direct sales efforts for all of Conde Nast’s consumer magazines and websites. Conde Nast Media Group is recognized as an industry leader for its creation and execution of large-scale, integrated, multi-platform advertising programs and events.
Fans looking for more information on Fashion Rocks can log onto fashionrocks2007.tv
-by Charles “CZA” Sweet II
You know her from Sirius Radio’s “Cipha Sounds Effect” morning show. What you don’t know is that behind the angelic voice and scathing remarks she has had more of an influence on hip hop than the majority of rappers in it. Look in the rolodex of your favorite rapper and you might just recognize the name, and if you don’t, be sure to recognize the talent. Don’t let the soft voice fool you; this lady’s about her business because this is more than music.
Q. Tell us about how you got to where you are today.
A. I believe it was a combination of skill and luck. I interned for Wu-Tang Management and TVT records amongst others and when I finished school, I went to work for Wu-Tang Management and during that time, I actually had Eminem open up for Wu-Tang at a show in Staten Island and so that’s how I met his manager, Paul Rosenberg. Ever since then, we’ve been cool and he hired me to work at the clothing line and then he hired me to work at the radio station. I didn’t have any experience doing radio but they figured they would give me a try because I had a lot of connections in the industry. They thought I had a good personality and sometimes it’s hard to hire someone who’s already in radio because they have a set way of thinking and he [Paul Rosenberg] was like, “We’re going to mold her.” to fit the position that they wanted me in. Then they gave me the big speech about me being all sensitive and touchy about things. Even now people are sensitive and touchy about everything when it comes to like race and women. It’s at a really different climate right now. They thought I was going to take offense to every little thing, but I’m not like that. I think a lot of times people say things that they think would shock me but nothing really shocks me, so it’s funny to me. Trust me; I can come back even harder. I appreciate the fact that women who listen to the show like me because they think I represent for the ladies. When people say something that they think would offend me, I’ll just turn it around and make them look and sound stupid.
Q. What do you see yourself doing post-Shade 45? What’s next for you?
A. I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Doing my blog on Myspace has helped me out a lot so I would say that it has helped me out a lot that I can express myself that way and people will go and read it and leave feedback. It helped me realize that whatever I want to do, I have a built-in audience already for that. I want to write a book, and when I do, I know that there will be people who’ll know about it and I can promote all over Sirius. I have to take advantage of that. That’s my goal for the year, to write a book. A book like The Devil Wears Prada, I read that book and I feel like I could write a book better than that if I sat down and put my head into it.
Q. Would you ever do regular radio?
A. (Pause) Yeah. I would think so. I mean, there’s more money because we don’t have commercials, but with regular radio you get the benefits right away. People know you locally. With Sirius it’s different because it’s all spread out internationally. It’s not very often that I go somewhere and someone knows who I am. I appreciate satellite radio, and some people who do regular radio say that they couldn’t see me doing regular radio because I don’t watch what I say. I’m kind of an uncensored person and there are a lot more restrictions and regulations on standard radio. I might get fired, but I’d definitely try it.
Q. You have double duty as you do another show—supposedly a more risqué one. Tell us about that.
A. I have a show on Monday nights, it’s a female show—really a sex show and we interview people and get all into their personal lives. It’s me and Mia Rose, the music editor over at XXL. It’s called “Lip Service” and we really get the dirty, deep secrets out of people.
Q. Who have you had on the show?
A. We’ve had Gloria Velez, Carl Thomas, Tony Yayo and a whole bunch of other people. What makes our show different is that we have a bartender—Stoli sponsors it and everybody gets drunk. We had Nas’ baby mama on there, Carmen Bryan. Swizz Beats, Paul Wall, you know, just a whole mix of different people from different areas of the entertainment world.
Q. Hear any really crazy stories on the show?
A. Paul Wall. (laughs) He told us about how he jerks off all the time on the road, so much so that he got the name Jackmaster P. It’s some funny S—. He said he does it like 15 times a day. We had a dominatrix on one day and a guy got butt a—naked in the studio and she whipped him. She even put clothes pins on his testicles! It was so funny. We had callers that said they were into it. We had Fabolous on, and what we’ll do is bring in a couple King magazine girls or some video chicks and make them feel awkward. Gloria Velez told us about some of the things she would do to guys and we called up Joe Budden and we’d ask him how she was in bed and he wouldn’t answer. He was trying to be all cool but we could tell he was sweating bullets.
Q. Do you stream the show anywhere or is it subscription only?
A. We sometimes post up clips of the show on the Lip Service myspace page and we change it every week. Speaking of which, check me out at www.myspace.com/angelayee
Davey D: Hip-hop luminaries show commitment to social issues
By Davey D
Special to Mercury News
Earlier this week, a standing-room-only crowd descended upon the bar/spoken word venue called Bar Nun on U street in Washington, D.C., to listen to a hip-hop panel discussion called, “There’s No Problem We Can’t Fix.”
The event was put together to complement the “Take Back America 2007” conference – put on by the progressive Democratic group Campaign for America’s Future – several blocks away. That conference has drawn thousands of people, including presidential candidates and local politicians, to talk about the future of this country.
A large number of hip-hop artists, journalists and activists made their way to Washington and Bar Nun to weigh in on the discussions. Some notables: San Jose’s Shamako Noble, who heads up Hip Hop Congress; the Source magazine editor/activist Biko Baker; and popular artists such as M-1 of dead prez, Umi of the RBG Family, Grammy-nominated rapper Mystic and Mississippi artist Kamikaze.
Hip-hop organizations ranging from the Universal Zulu Nation to Hip Hop Caucus to the League of Hip Hop Voters to the National Hip Hop Political Convention (NHHPC) were also in the building.
Many in attendance at both the “Take Back America” conference and the Bar Nun discussion realize hip-hop has matured and has a sizable power base and resources. Though a lot of the fallout from the Don Imus controversy focused on hip-hop, the movement is alive and well and is determined to be a factor in the 2008 presidential election. If you don’t believe me, then ask some of those presidential candidates whose aides were taking notes at Bar Nun.
During the panel discussion, former Bay Area resident Troy Nkrumah, who chairs NHHPC, said it was important that we in hip-hop be on the ground, engaging the community to make sure we are all on the same page. Many people, he said, irresponsibly speak on behalf of the hip-hop community and make foregone conclusions that are way off base. For example, last year he and his organization conducted a survey in Oakland to determine the biggest issue affecting the hip-hop community. He, along with others, assumed that issues like police brutality and street violence would be at the top of the list. They were surprised to learn the No. 1 issue cited by young adults was health care.
Nkrumah noted they also discovered many of the people surveyed were taking care of sick parents or grandparents, or siblings who had chronic illnesses such as asthma. The caretakers, he said, had insufficient or shabby health care and rarely had enough money to buy medicine.
Dr. Roger Mitchell, who heads the board of the D.C.-based Hip Hop Caucus, supported Nkrumah’s observations and added that many from inner-city communities are suffering from mental stress and other afflictions often overlooked or downplayed. Problems associated with poverty and inner-city living, he said, take a toll on physical and mental well-being.
Nkrumah also noted that none of the presidential candidates, despite their lofty rhetoric about universal health care, has really addressed specific concerns of this generation, nor have any of them outlined a game plan. Those issues will be front and center at the 2008 National Hip Hop Political Convention, which will be held in Las Vegas, and Nkrumah hopes to weigh in on them.
Others in attendance spoke out about the war in Iraq and related issues – including torture and slavery, which they argue takes place in places not only in Guanta`namo Bay and Darfur, but right here at home in our prisons.
Another highlight has been talking with nationally known mix-tape DJs like J Period and DJ Chela, who organized the Bar Nun discussion. During the last election, Period – who works with several activists organizations – played a key role in helping register close to a million people to vote.
DJ Chela spoke about organizing with fellow female DJs and artists to form a collective called New Girl Order. She said it was important that women have prime seats at the table, and that they create a space to develop themselves as leaders.
If that wasn’t enough, a sold out concert with lines stretching down the block at the 9:30 Club was the place where all the above mentioned artists including dead prez, Mystic and Wise Intelligent of Poor Righteous Teachers who headlined and a host of others from around the country and in the DC area came together to address the issue of Torture and demand the US shut down Guantanamo Bay and restore Habeas Corpus. It was a beautiful thing to see so many people come out in force along with Amnesty International the ACLU and and hear each artist hammer home the key talking points about this important issue.
Davey D’s hip-hop column is published biweekly in Eye. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fresh off a nationwide tour, El-P has added a free performance to his schedule at a New York Urban Outfitters. El’s joined with Free Yr. Radio, an independent music campaign developed by Toyota Motor Sales and Urban Outfitters for a free in-store concert on July 14th at Avenue of the Amercias’ Urban Outfitters in Manhattan.
El-P joins an impressive roster of performers included in the Free Yr. Radio series, which takes place nationwide through July and features performances by The Rapture, Dinosaur Jr., Tapes N’ Tapes, and The Klaxons among others. The July 14th date is the 12th stop on the Free Yr. Radio tour. WNHU 88.7 FM will be co-presenting the free concert and will also give away a new Toyota Yaris to one lucky radio listener.
Visit www.freeyrradio.com now to print off an official invite to El-P’s free performance.
El-P released his new single “The Overly Dramatic Truth” from his latest album, I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead, for purchase on iTunes this week. See below for a direct link to the single.
Purchase “The Overly Dramatic Truth” on iTunes:
Listen to Smithereens from “I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead” (MP3)
Purchase “I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead” (with a bonus track) on iTunes
Watch El-P’s “Smithereens” from I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead
El-P Live in London c/o Dazed Digital:
El-P Live in Boston c/o Boston.TV:
El-P iMeem and exclusive photos:
atlantis: hymns for disco
When I first heard of k-os I wondered, “Who is that dude rhyming over that house beat?” Then I listened a bit more and said, “Yo, that kid rhyming over that house beat is killing it!” At the least, I can say I loved his debut album, Exit, which featured the single described above, “Superstar pt. Zero.” Now k-os has returned with his latest album, Atlantis-Hymns for Disco, but before we discuss his latest effort lets get you caught up to the album Joyful Rebellion, his sophomore release.
First off, he sings, produces and rhymes and is dope at each endeavor. His arrangements, samples, flows and cadences ride each riddum perfectly and distinctly on every album and song. Does he have a signature sound? If so, it would be good music. He promotes his philosophical positions like in Exit where he shows that hip-hop does not have to be in its current state, and then in Joyful Rebellion where he just drops all sorts of “I f*cking hate the current state of music for real but I love music” intimations (he never really said that but it felt like he was saying it) in a really soulful way. Based in Canada, k-os has tallied up numerous awards for his music and videos including, but not limited to, Best International Hip Hop Artist at the 2003 Source Awards, a Juno Award for Best Video of the Year and a Grammy nomination for Best Dance Song in 2003. That was Exit. Joyful Rebellion racked up three Juno Awards and he followed that up with a well-received DVD project. All that is said just to make sure you pay attention to him because now, we can talk about this album Atlantis-Hymns for Disco.
The album is great. It is better than the last two because with each album he reveals a different facet and grows as an artist.The music he makes is thick, light-hearted, heavy handed, torn, upbeat, down tempo, jazzy, show tune-ish, and catchy with healthy portions of singing, clapping and rapping. It is an exit, a joyful rebellion, with a floating-in-my-consciousness rock n roll sound that features sloppy drums, crisp snares, and gritty guitar riffs that are interpolated with cuts and scratches. It is art. Topic-wise this album sounds like the accompanying press release which is unusual. The press release is damn near a manifesto. In it k-os says, “to use your voice in the world is the greatest responsibility of an artist. Most revolutionary art ends up provoking classic ideals and it is these same classic ideals that become prisons if they go unchallenged.”
Songs like “Sunday Morning,” “The Rain,” and “ Valhalla” are stand-outs but the entire album grabs you and keeps you. Peep the “Sunday Morning” video link to his website www.k-osmusic.com. If you like that video/song and the other video/songs you might have just been put on to your new favorite artist of the year.
Not since Outkast has an artist or group grown and integrated music and life so seamlessly. Personally, I love this album and this artist’s perspective, integrity and commitment to being an artist at a time when many recording artists are not. I suspect you will too.
brook stephenson is the literary editor of Nat Creole but his knowledge expands beyond the written word. hit him up at email@example.com
Written by Dasan Ahanu
How often have you watched a music video and wondered where did that dance come from? Been at the club and left watching as a song comes on and everyone but you begins doing their version of the latest steps? You don’t have to feel left out anymore. MTV premiered “Dances From Tha Hood” on Sunday, June 17, 2007 @ 8:00pm. “Dances From Tha Hood” is hosted by dancer and choreographer TWEETIE and Executive produced by Sway Calloway, Sean Lee, Dave Sirulnick and Ocean MacAdams. A half-hour hip-hop special, it mixes the energetic vibe of a straight up basement dance party with fun instructional segments and user-generated videos of kids at home trying the latest hip-hop dances themselves.
TWEETIE has worked with with the likes of Jay Z, Destiny’s Child, N’Sync, Mya and Angie Martinez, just to name a few. She is a dance instructor at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and the Peridance Center. A native of the Bronx, TWEETIE used her experience at the Fiorella LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts and as part of All Stars Talent Show Network to catapult her to success. She can also be seen as a featured dancer in the Stride Gum Campaign and also appearing in the NIKE Women spring/summer collection and in the new IPOD commercial featuring Wynton Marsalis. Recently capturing national attention on the Oprah Winfrey Show teaching Gayle, Oprah, and the audience the latest dance moves, TWEETIE has prepared herself for her second major project with MTV. I was excited to talk to TWEETIE about her new opportunity.
I first wanted to ask you how did the show came about? I know you previously completed a short series of the same name for MTV mobile media, and I wanted to find out how that translated into the half hour show?
Hmmm, well Oprah helped. It was really great because it actually gave them push to say that I think we can really turn this into a show. That was really good. Working with Sway, who is my executive producer, and Sean Lee, they really realized that this girl is really good. I think they saw the Oprah show as well and they were accepting that we really needed to do this. I think that is what MTV were looking for because they kinda don’t have a show like this. Basically, I’m giving them that street credibility that I think MTV needs. That’s what I’m coming in on.
I wanted to ask you about that appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show. How was the experience? Going from having Gayle King in your class to having an opportunity to be on the show, how was that as far as opening up doors for you?
Oh my God, first of all that was amazing. I need to thank Gayle I don’t know how many times. That was really overnight. She came to my class that Monday at Alvin Ailey (American Dance Theatre) and by that Saturday I got an email asking me to be on the show. Ever since then it’s been non-stop love. People stop me in the street. They try to do the old man, which is one of the dances I taught on the show. They stop me on the train and they just smile at me on the train. I have a tattoo of a tweetie bird on my arm so they point at it and they go, “That’s tweetie, I know how to do the old man!” I mean, I went to McDonalds and it was really really late at night. It was like 11:30 or 12 at night because you know those fries, they be calling. Right. This lady and her daughter, she said that, “I just finished talking about you like a block away” and she seemed so emotional and so happy about it. I’m proud that it brought a lot of opportunity, but I also realize it wasn’t just me on that stage. It was me and the whole community, it was me and anybody who ever dreamed of being on the Oprah show or just talking to her. They felt like a part of them was on that stage with me and if that’s the feeling I give off, that’s amazing. I’m gonna try and continue to do that.
Speaking about the idea of the community being on stage with you. I know part of the show allows viewers to send in tapes of them doing the dance steps. How important was that element allowing the opportunity for viewers to be a part of the show?
Well, because I am an instructor and a choreographer I know they are going to want to know if they are even doing them right, to know if they have a chance to get seen. I think it’s a good idea because I need them to interact with me also. I can personally go online and comment on them. I’m a teacher and I want to know if they are getting it in. I really need to see it. It’s not like it’s a gimmick, I really enjoy going online and seeing kids or anyone put videos up on the site. It’s almost like I’m teaching class, even though they aren’t in the same room as me. You know, I still teach my classes and it’s good to know I can give off a feeling that will make them try it after watching the show and put it on the site. It feels good to have that interaction with people.
There has been some criticism of some of today’s dances. Some even calling it modern day buffoonery. How do you feel about the steps folks are coming up with and the negative connotations given to some of today’s dances?
A lot of the stuff may have a little something new added to it, they feel like their creating something new, but it’s recycled from when Hip Hop first started. One of the moves they have is called the freak nasty, but back then it was called the renaissance. So to me it feels like ok we’re doing this again and they may have added a little arms or a little something else, but you know I’m cool wit it. Some people may not agree wit it, but I’m like it’s what we used to do back then so what’s wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with them doing it again. There’s nothing wrong with having the music with it. Almost every song has a dance to it. Every single song and back then, when Hip Hop first started, you’d hear Biz Markie and you did the Biz. Right. When you heard certain songs you did certain moves. Doug E. Fresh, even he had his own dance going. Everybody knew the Doug E. I enjoy it. A lot of folks may not feel like it’s creative, but there are a lot of other things out there these kids could be doing. Instead they’re dancing and if that’s going to keep them out of trouble, then I’m wit that. I’m going to keep on supporting it. I love it.
Do you see this show leading to new opportunities? Seeing the success that you’ve had from Oprah to MTV do you think this show will open up new doors for dancers and choreographers?
Definitely. I definitely see more dance shows coming out but with more street credibility. There are dance shows out now but what we see on TV other people see it and are like that’s not what we’re doing in the hood. It’s stuff they’ve seen before in videos and they’re looking at it like we don’t do that anymore. I think there are going to be a lot more dance shows but with that raw essence of what Hip Hop music and Hip Hop culture is. If it opens up a door for someone else then so be it because this what we live, this is how we live. We eat, live, and breathe this all day every day. I think with this show, “Dances From Tha Hood”, it gives people a look at Hip Hop that’s not so negative. It can be made to be so negative and about these chics shakin their butts and it’s not about that. It’s for everybody. It’s for guys, girls, it’s positive, it’s for having a good time, and it’s a house party. I remember when house parties were about having fun, not about getting drunk, broken and everything. We’re just here to dance and it’s about who’s getting it in the best. I’m really feeling like a lot of dancers and choreographers have a great opportunity and you know what, I’m even willing to bring them on my show. Let them get their shine on. I’m all love to all birds.
Aight, now I see that you’ve studied multiple forms of dance. I also see that on the show you will be having different celebrities break down the dances in their videos. Is that variety and the breadth of movements that can be put together something that you are trying to highlight on the show?
Definitely. The artists that we have on the show will be breaking down their stuff to me. I love talking with the different artists because you get their opinions, their visuals as far as their concepts. I was out with Lil Mama and it’s just crazy because she’s doing the lip-gloss dance and she’s really like, “this is how it’s really done, you gotta rock wit it”. Then she’s got a new video with Avril Levigne coming out. They got a dance for that. I’m like wait a minute you got Avril Levigne to dance? So she showed me a little sumptin and they got a little exclusive dance going on with that. It’s interesting to see the artist doing their own dance to their own song. You get to see another personality from them because you always see them rhyming or singing, but don’t always get to see them get in there and get down. That’s funny to me and I enjoy it.
It’s interesting to me to see that you got started in an after-school dance program. I know a lot of people are trying to encourage more youth to get involved in the arts. I am wondering what’s your opinion on that and how your show could inspire more support for young people to dance?
Well, when I dance I call it dancing from around the way and around the block, but there is this great program called the all-star talent show network. I definitely grew up in that. We competed in it and it’s for dancers, singers, people that write poetry, people that play instruments, people that rhyme. I think more programs need to open up to the arts because it’s just not enough out there. If we can do anything to keep these focused and give them that support system, I mean it helped me a lot especially with school. Not only did I have a dance group in the talent show network I had one in my high school that we started. Even after we finished high school we continued that there and I don’t think people realize that’s a domino effect. So in these communities if you build these kids and keep their minds focused then soon they will pass that on. So when people watch my show and it gives kids a reason to feel encouraged, motivated, or their creativity just explodes through the brain I’m all for it. I hope to one day have my own dancing school and I know a lot of dancers say that, but I want to see an all Hip Hop dancing school. Usually at dancing schools you have ballet, modern, and jazz. Now I’m all for technique, I took technique in school, but I want an all Hip Hop school.
As a successful woman in Hip Hop and a woman who has a concern for the image of women in Hip Hop, how was it negotiating this opportunity and making it happen?
I definitely felt like my image was very important. I didn’t want to come out and feel like okay I’m this female and I need to show this, that, and a third. I didn’t want to have to do that. I wanted people to recognize me as a black woman of today and that yes I can handle this position and handle it professionally. Because sometimes they think she had to do certain things to get in that position and No I didn’t. I need them to know that I have skills and I need other females to see that you don’t have to take that role where you have to degrade yourself. We can make on TV to and you don’t have to lose yourself within this industry. So many females lose themselves because they feel the pressure of men or that if I do this, that, and a third I’ll get to a, b, or c. Or that they try to skip a, b, and c, and jump to q, r, and s. You know what? I had to work to get here and it’s possible. I come from the hood, I come from the Bronx and I’m still working hard at it. Hopefully it will change women who are 21 and older. Hopefully, this will motivate females who may not have a job, who have kids and are struggling, females who are going through some things, running away from home, or getting abused. Hopefully, watching my show will motivate them and make them feel a little better about themselves because for me music is my outlet. Whenever I’m going through something I turn on the music and let that negative energy out. So by watching my show, I’m hoping they can do the same thing.
Can anybody watch the show and start trying the steps you break down? Does the average person need to be in any special kind of shape?
Nah, Nah, this is for any and everybody. Anybody who has the courage to get up and get it in, let’s do it. Just like I got on Oprah’s show and you saw all those people get up in that audience and they were trying it, if they can do it you can do it to. There is no disclaimer or anything like that whatsoever. This is for any and everybody. This is for my aunt who is 67 years old and saying I need to teach her some steps. This is for the cops outside on the corner. This is for the messenger tired of taking them packages to the MTV office. This is for everybody. This is for soccer moms, agents who have clients, everybody babes.
Now how many shows in the series?
In the mobile series or the TV show?
In the TV show?
Oh, I can’t really give out that information. You just have to watch and see.
It looks like the mobile series is continuing also. Now where is the mobile series available?
It’s linked up with all mobile carriers and MTV on demand. You can definitely download that.
Now is there anything else you want the public to know about yourself and the show?
That I’m from the Bronx and I want to give a shoutout to anybody from the Bronx. Also I want to send shoutouts to the people that I’ve worked with like LL, Fergie, Ciara, and Mya. You can check me out in the new Mya video. The show airs Sunday June 17th at 8:00pm. I’m excited. I want to thank everyone who has supported me including MTV, my family, and my friends. Oh, and you will still see me in the clubs getting it in.
You can find out more about TWEETIE at www.myspace.com/birddance2. You can also visit the show’s website, www.dancesfromthahood.mtv.com. Be sure to check out the show and support TWEETIE as she teaches the world how to get it in.
Straight Outta Tampa Bay Florida hails TRINITY, a female emcee with a ‘Fresh Kinda Attitude’. Not only is this the aura surrounding this young star in the making, its the title of her latest mix tape offering hosted by ‘Mr Southern Smoke’, DJ Smallz. Packed with neck snapping beats and the type of tracks that makes your mama jump on the dance floor, ‘Fresh Kinda Attitude’ definitely caters to future fans and consumers by proving TRINITY’s lyrical prowess and ability to make good songs.
Having early influences such as MC Lyte, Run Dmc, Earth Wind and Fire, NWA, The Beastie Boys, Quincy Jones, and Scarface, TRINITY is able to combine the past with future to give us a fresh new sound. TRINITY became passionate about the sound of music early in South Carolina playing drums in a marching band, quickly realizing that music was more than a right but rather a calling. TRINITY then moved to the Tampa Bay area and then began to DJ at the age of 15. Shortly thereafter, TRINITY was introduced to Big Money Ced, a DJ at a local Tampa radio station, who became a mentor for TRINITY in pursuing a career in music and a career as a producer. Not only is TRINITY a rapper but she also produces all her own music. With the project “80’s Baby” on the way, TRINITY plans to take us all back to a time when music meant something. The lead tracks, “Move It” and “HUSH” urges fans to loosen their inhibitions and get back to the dance floor.
Be on the lookout for ’80’s Babies Volume 1 Party, Love, Money’ Coming Soon!!!
For Interviews, Drops or Exclusives
For more info log onto