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 2oo0 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 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 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 time and space. 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.
Ran into these guys at SXSW as well. Had actually had a few phone call and email conversations with them before, but it’s always better to meet in person. And the most impressive part is that they are making some extremely inventive and original Hip Hop coming out of my Hometown of Detroit. Real Talk. Check out the video below if you don’t believe me:
Time for some new music from a fresh voice that’s really killin’ it over on the East Coast. Met this brotha up in Brooklyn back in 2011 and we’ve been continuously connecting ever since. Check out the latest joint from Charmingly Ghetto. GET HIP!
Recently I had a friend that posted a Facebook status saying that she wished bloggers would post and support music from artists outside of their circle, and not from artists that are already on. Basically she wants bloggers to start giving other music a chance…so that’s what I’m gonna make an effort to do. Check out the video for the artist Koncept out of Brooklyn, featuring one of my Detroit brethren, Royce da 5’9″ for the song “Watch the Sky Fall”. I love how the female that is supposed to be Royce actually reminds me of some of his mannerisms. Peep it out!
“Better late than never.”
Apparently, those were the words of Nas on the recent announcement of the “Life is Good/Black Rage” tour, which will feature himself and the one and only Ms. Lauryn Hill. Upon first knowledge, this seemed like it would be a great pairing for some really great Hip Hop live shows. Think about it: Nas and Lauryn Hill have known each other for years, and have been collaborating at a minimum since the days of “If I Ruled The World”, the classic 1996 collaboration between the two music icons. And considering all of the amazing music that the two have produced since that time, it’s about time this tour has come about.
But then again, I also started thinking about the drama that has surrounded both Nasty Nas and Ms. Hill, especially in recent years. Both have had to face down Uncle Sam on charges of tax evasion this year alone, Nas went through a very public divorce from Kelis, beef with some of the biggest names in Hip Hop and lots of controversy surrounding the title of his previous album. On the other hand, Lauryn has had to deal with a public feud with former partner in rhyme Wyclef Jean, the break up of her relationship with Rohan Marley, and the public and fans growing increasingly frustrated with her musically erratic live shows and on-again, off-again promises for new music. And with all of that in the bag, it’s only natural that fans of both Nas and Hill could be skeptical of this tour and all that it can offer.
But hey, it should really just be about the music. So hopefully we as fans can look past all of the drama that two of our music heroes have faced to get to the music we know they can still give to us. Here’s hoping that’s the case.
Power 105.1's The Breakfast Club took the week off and compiled a best of footage collection from their whirlwind year. Most of the interviews are featured in full on the site, but here's a comprehensive look. Salute!