Detroit Hip Hop is on the rise again, with a bountiful plethora of solo artists and groups paving a way and staking a claim in the 21st Century Hip Hop marketplace. And among them is The Regiment, the lyrically inclined take-no-prisoners Boom Bap Hip Hop-centric duo of Osi and IseQold that are helping to paint a more positive yet still unrelentingly uplifting vision of Hip Hop from Detroit that not only entertains, but also educates, motivates and encourages. I had the chance to listen to their latest album, Live From The Coney Island (a reference to the many independently owned mom and pop restaurants that are scattered all over the Motor City for those that don’t know), and I can say without hesitation that I was thoroughly impressed. The Regiment’s latest project has to be one of the most solid, engaging and cohesive albums I’ve heard in a while from the Hip Hop genre: not littered with a bunch of songs that don’t fit together, and not necessarily an over intellectual concept album, either. Just straight up raw Hip Hop that’s not interested in fleeting stardom. It harkens back to 90’s era East Coast Hip Hop but doesn’t sound dated or preachy in the least, even with the positive swagger and spin. Definitely not the standard, run-or-the-mill Hip Hop music that we’re so conditioned to these days. The entire album is available for streaming and downloading on DJBooth.net, with production primarily from the Legendary Nick Speed. Peep the included link and check out just a few of the songs below. I’m definitely hoping to hear more music from The Regiment in the near future and beyond.
Berkeley, CA-based Bay Area native Coco Peila is more than just your standard, run-of-the-mill emcee. And as an indie artist, she has to be. The grind for independent artists is a real as it’s ever been. But Peila, a graduate twice over of Full Sail University, an educator, a world traveler, an event curator, emcee, poet, singer and feminist that embodies the long tradition of creativity, activism, inclusion and the progressive spirit of California’s Bay Area in her music, seems to take it all in stride. Recently featured as part of Hip Hop Historian Davey D’s “Three Dope Songs” series on his Hip Hop and Politics blog, and having dropped her independently-released freshman album last year entitled I Still Love Him Part 1: Misses Shoot ‘em Down, and I Still Love Him Part 2: Bad B!+@#es 101 tentatively set to drop next month, Coco Peila is poised to take an even greater stance in helping move the art and culture of Hip Hop and black music continuously forward. And judging from her latest single and video, “Misses Shoot ‘em Down”, she’s taking no prisoners in doing so. Check out the video below and visit http://www.cocopeila.com/ for more information, see videos and purchase her album!
In today’s installment, I take a look at a song from Rage that I’ve loved for a long time and that is one of my favorites from 1999’s The Battle of Los Angeles: “Calm Like A Bomb”. I hate to admit that I didn’t truly get hip to Rage until my freshman year of college. I remember purchasing the CD in the Oakland University Bookstore during my first week of classes in 2000 after seeing them perform on the MTV Awards and being amazed and somewhat disturbed their performance. It took me a while to get into Zack de la Rocha’s lyricism and Tom Morello’s guitar, but I eventually came around during a time when I was steadily growing out of my “Hip Hop and R&B only” phase to more varied sounds, more diverse music and a more mature palette. The Battle of Los Angeles is without a doubt one of the greatest albums I’ve ever heard and is filled with some of Rage’s greatest moments: “Testify”, “Born of a Broken Man”, “Sleep Now in the Fire”, and on and on. The whole thing is a hybrid of Hip Hop lyricism, West Coast punk rock, heavy metal, Funk, folk music and leftist political ideology, and it was the moment at the end of one millennium and at the beginning of the next when RATM was truly at their peak as a mainstream rock group. They were saying and doing things that not many others would dare to on a record. Even in the liner notes on the album for the song “Testify”, the record label felt the need to change the line “B*tch feel me” by de la Rocha to “please feel me”. But out of all of the tracks, “Calm Like A Bomb” is arguably the loudest, heaviest, boldest, most fearless, most cocky, most ear-drum wrecking composition on the entire album. The deep and plodding base line and quiet whisper instantly catches the listener off guard, giving way to Zack’s pissed off, arrogant scream of “FEEL THE FUNK BLAST”, Tom Morello’s beastly thrashes of his guitar, Brad Wilk’s destructive and earth-shattering drums and Tim Commerford’s heavy funk-influenced bass. The song could easily be used as a rallying cry at any of today’s many protests around the country, from Occupy Wall Street to the recent “March Against Monsanto” movements. After the second chorus is when things get really interesting, as Morello rips the listener a new one with guitar work that sounds like it comes from another planet. Overall, “Calm Like A Bomb” is one of the greatest songs from one of the greatest albums, created by one of the greatest rock bands of all time. After this, the band would release a powerful album of covers, but then unfortunately break apart. They have been very on and off as far as performing and getting back together in the last few years, and we probably shouldn’t hold our breath for new music. For now, just enjoy this rock/rap classic.
Here’s another video from Hip Hop duo Passalacqua out of Detroit, MI. They were the recipients of funding from the Kresge institute in Detroit and are going to be part of this five-day multidisciplinary celebration in the city celebrating visual, performance and literary artists among many others. Check out the video of Brent and Brian giving a peek into their musical world and all they’re trying to accomplish in Detroit in the video just below.
Check out this cool little video of a journey all the way from Detroit, MI to Austin, TX with a band of courageous, intrepid indie artists and some of their supporters/friends as they head to SXSW 2013. I got the chance to meet them and they’re really good folks. Although that’s not a surprise since they’re from my hometown. Only bad part is that I missed one of the pop up shows that some of the artists did down in Austin, as well as a house party, but hey, you can’t make it to everything at SXSW. Regardless, get a peek and do your research on the likes of COLD MEN YOUNG, PASSALACQUA, JAMAICA QUEENS and many more doing their thing up in the D.
One thing I think that’s needed in Hip Hop is dissenting voices: those that try to go beyond just what we see on an everyday scale. There are so many different messages out in the world when it comes to Hip Hop music and we don’t always have to hear just what we’re given. When we search for voices that are saying something a little different, we are able to grow. And one of my goals with this blog is to help give exposure to those voices. Here’s one: Tef Poe. I like this video because he’s bold in his beliefs and his statements. Check out what Tef is saying and gain your own perspective.
One thing that seems to be getting lost in terms of Hip Hop is the history and folklore behind it, more importantly, how it came to be. Hip Hop is a mixture of so many different aspects of black and Latino life in America: music, societal ills, political upheaval, urban culture, street art, loss of resources and gang culture. All of these things helped to create Hip Hop into what it is today. The new film “Rubble Kings” delves deep into that last aspect and looks like it will be a great history lesson for those that may not be familiar with the humble beginnings of Hip Hop.