Via Mark Naison, professor of history and African American history at Fordham University:
I’m sure there are some folks who have never been to New York City who imagine that, on any given night, one can find a nightclub to hit where one can hear all kinds of global music and an inclusive environment for anyone—gay or straight, dancing along to it. But that’s not really true.
This is precisely why I became a huge fan of a monthly party called Que Bajo?! a number of years ago (2011) and attended it as much as possible. It was the one party where I could hear music from Colombia, Africa, Puerto Rico, hell, even funky beats coming out of Austin, Texas. Purely danceable stuff with guest DJs from across the United States, Europe or Latin America making a pretty diverse crowd dance all night long.
That party is now defunct but, luckily for us, its DJs are still out there working at a variety of parties. (Que Bajo?! co-founder Uproot Andy is back from touring in Brazil and will be playing in Brooklyn on Friday, July 7!)
The other founding DJ, Geko Jones, is now throwing a party called Ministerio de la Parranda. Thankfully, this party is continuing the work of providing a cool space for a diverse crowd to hear a “sancocho” of flavors from Latin America and beyond.
Here’s just 29 seconds of video from the party on June 24. In it, you’ll hear the BEAUTIFUL chords of an African guitar so often heard in Congolese soukous and Colombian champeta music. I had to stop dancing and hit record because, again, this music isn’t easily found in New York City, and I needed to share the moment, which came on New York City’s Pride weekend.
It was a beautiful moment and although I’m very sad to see Que Bajo?! go, I’m happy there are other spaces where one can enjoy such an atmosphere.
(Read my story about the new party in Sounds and Colours.)
I eventually discovered that I could take Lactaid pills with dairy, but they never made me feel good, and my beloved jerk room mate would make fun of me for being “lactarded.” I wanted to understand more about my body, so I started researching what lactose intolerance is — and I learned that while 10% of people with Northern European ancestry have problems with dairy, as much as 60% of our diverse US population at large has problems. But all Americans love eating cheese; on average we eat 34 pounds of the stuff every year.
What I realized was that Lactaid medicalizes, and stigmatizes, a common condition. If you’re lactose intolerant, there’s actually nothing “wrong” with you: it’s normal. So with Milksugar I set out to do two things: create a normal lactase enzyme supplement pill for normal people, and then also to… let nature in.
I think that big corporations believe Americans are too wimpy to knowingly eat cool Japanese mushroom pills that help them digest dairy. I have a more optimistic view of my countrypeople: I think they will like to know! Because nature is really, really cool!!
2) What’s the best thing about being your own boss?
Well, I can sleep in and stuff. Also I can entertain myself with notions of earthly riches. I’m more inclined to think of myself as an entrepreneur than as a boss. It’s a distinction that makes a difference. I’m terribly impulsive; I don’t command myself, so much as I am drawn forward by curiosity and vision. In that way, I am a servant.
And that’s the best part — the freedom to pursue the dream!
3) What’s one of the hardest things?
Well, I’m not a rich kid, or in possession of vast savings, so there’s been some financially tight moments. How terrible — I have had to live off rice, and sometimes recycle my better-remunerated room mates cans for beer money. Oh, woe is me (I’m joking, although having money to go out is fun). It’s more seriously stressful to be late with the rent. Obviously, as a start up business with not too much sales volume yet I should worry about failure. But the truth is that I don’t.
In the back of my mind I have been preparing to do a project like this for awhile. I am very fortunate to have some truly amazing and inspiring friends, teachers, and investors who have walked similar paths. I wouldn’t be doing this without them.
The hardest task for me has been setting the correct expectations for myself, and remaining mindful. I can be very impatient, but changing the way an entire culture thinks about lactose intolerance won’t happen overnight.
That said, I think we can win.
Brooklyn rapper, Justin Bates (a Chicago native), tells me he often gets “You remind me of someone,” in regards to his sound. YES. Is it Red Man? I’m not sure. But one thing is clear: He’s got a GREAT voice.
Obviously, he’s a great lyricist, too, or I wouldn’t be sharing his latest track, “All On We,” produced by Madwreck. I dig the soulful intro, and again, can’t say enough of Bates’ voice. This song is very reminiscent of 90s New York hip hop for me!
And check out this video for his track, “Turn The Music Up,” from 2012.<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/20853720″>Justin Bates "Turn The Music Up"</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/javiergoin”>jG Films</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
A little over a year ago, Natalia Linares (the digi-femenista/music manager/publicist) behind conrazón invited a small group of people for a private concert at her Staten Island apartment featuring an independent artist, Norvis Jr.
I’d met him (real name Nelson-Mandela Nance) a couple of times prior to the performance, but I wasn’t familiar with his music. I had no idea what I was in for.
Not only was I blown away by his unique brand of electro-soul, but the intimacy of the performance coupled with the ‘zone’ he was in signaled to me that I was witnessing something special.
Since then, Norvis Jr., a native of Dallas, TX. now living in Brooklyn, N.Y., has performed at a handful of New York City venues, but now he wants to take his show on the road with a spring 2015 tour. Listen to him here (he’s got a great speaking AND singing voice), and then support his Kickstarter (and its hilarious video displaying his healthy diet!) here.<p>
“Ahora estoy llenando estadios…” (Now, I’m filling stadiums.)
— Raka Rich on the track.
The “bilingual East Bay-flava’d banger,” produced by one of my favorites architects in the game — Nima Fadavi, is where the genre is going to keep going, folks. Get on it.
And it’s not just Spanish. Hip-hop is global game, and this is good thing for those who are sick of the same 10 artists we keep getting shoved down on throats on all mediums. (And, yes, I’m aware Jay Z and Drake are two of the 10, but that’s what makes this track special. Raka Rich, along with Shark Sinatra, Sin Que, and D.A.Go give this track a different flavor for sure.)
Also check out a new BASS-tastic track by Brazil/Brooklyn’s Zuzuka Poderosa. “Baile Crunk,” produced by Burt Fox, is just as hot as the hook proclaims:
Rio De Janeiro, Tennessee & H-town,
Rio de Janeiro, Atlanta, Miami…
Haven’t updated music news in a while, so here goes…
The Brooklyn-based psychedelic salsa band, La Mecanica Popular, have released a new video for their single, “La Paz del Freak.” Great song and I’m pleased I have a CD for my dad. The man loves his salsa. Always has. Check out the video, and read about the meaning of the song, on Sounds and Colours! And if you’re in NYC, check them out at Lit Lounge on the 21st.
My homeslice Christian Vera from Chicago’s SOULPHONETICS crew sent me a beautiful mix. It’s got some sultry Brazilian tunes in it and, to me, that equals love. Close your eyes, pretend you’re on a beach in Rio, and listen here. (Free download, too!)
In the wake of Isabela Raygoza’s great “20 Spanish-Language MCs Everyone Should Hear” article in MTVIggy this week, Christian Vera turned me onto a Puerto Rican-by-way-of-Chicago rapper, the Color Brown. I always appreciate an emcee who can rap clearly the whole song through, so lyrics are truly heard, so I’m a fan upon first listen. I plan to explore more, though. There’s a lot on his Soundcloud.
Start off with this track, “Exilio,” since it opens with the sound of the coquí, and that made me miss Puerto Rico.
Elvis Costello has released a new album with The Roots. I repeat: Elvis Costello and The Roots. Listen to this wonderful collaboration via WFUV.
Throwback Thursday. This remix by Uproot Andy shuffled onto my earbuds last night when I was walking my dog. “El Botellon” was released on Bersa Discos in 2008? Is that right? All I know is I always requested it the year I first met him, which I believe was 2011. (And he obliged. What a guy!) The track ever gets old.
Finally, I’m on a real soul kick. Charles Bradley! Lee Fields! Take me to a Daptones party! (Or the next best thing. Charles Bradley and more at Williamsburg Park on the 2oth.) Watch this 2011 performance of “Why Is It So Hard?” from a live session (backed by The Menahan Street Band) on KEXP in Seattle. Phew! Deep lyrics.
Among the many things I love about my job at Fordham University is that I get to deal with academics on a daily basis. Sometimes, I sit in on their classes. One of the most interesting professors is Mark Naison, professor of history and African American Studies.
For as long as I’ve been here, he’s taught a very popular, hard to get into (due to it filling up very quickly) class called, “From Rock & Roll to Hip Hop: Urban Youth Cultures in Post War America.” It’s a class where music is heard (the rock & roll and soul stuff is GREAT) and special guest musicians give performances and mini-lectures. It all makes me wish I was an undergrad!
You can read some media coverage of Dr. Naison’s class, as well as his alter-ego, “The Notorious Ph.D., below. (Yes, Dr. Naison is known to rap.)
Brooklyn, the Remix: A Hip-Hop Tour (via New York Times)
Morrisania Melody (via New York Times)
Notorious Ph.D., aka Fordham Professor Mark Naison, raps against gentrification in the Bronx (via Daily News)
Meet the Notorious Ph.D.: Mark Naison (via Gothamist)
Check out the syllabus for the Fall 2013 semester here (bold emphasis mine):
From Rock and Roll to Hip Hop: Urban Youth Cultures in Post War America
Dr. Mark Naison
Since the late 19th Century African Americans have exerted a powerful influence on the development of American popular music. Forms of musical expression developed in African-American communities have been reinterpreted and marketed to create the modern music industry, shaping the development of Tin Pan Alley, the Broadway musical stage, the record industry, the modern dance band, and music radio.
Until the end of World War II, racism and lack of capital kept African-American artists and entrepreneurs on the margins of this activity, denying them access to commercial venues that would reward them for their creativity and create a national audience base outside the black community. Only a handful of Black artists -Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, Marian Anderson, Paul Robeson- had large enough followings outside the “race market”- the section of the music industry targeted to blacks- to make them truly national figures In post World War II era, however, the terms of this cultural interchange began to shift. Civil rights victories, north and south, black migration to urban areas, and the opening of new economic opportunities in industry and government employment set the stage for a new relationship between blacks and the music industry. As radio stations in major cities began to tap into the growing African-American market, black music of all types-gospel blues, swing, rhythm and blues- began to hit the airwaves.
The newest of these genres, rhythm and blues, a urban music that fused sweet harmonies and powerful dance beats, sparked a musical and commercial revolution by attracting a huge underground audience among whites. By the early 1950’s, “black” music radio from Memphis to Los Angeles was attracting hundreds of thousands of white listeners, most of them under the age of twenty five, and sparking an unexpected growth of record sales for artists who had only aimed for the “race market.” In several cities, white disc jockeys decided to tap into this new youth audience by incorporating rhythm and blues into their formats and got such a huge response that they made it the centerpiece of their shows.
Calling it “rock and roll,” they marketed it as youth music rather than black music and looked for white artists who could play it to supplement the already established black stars. This marketing strategy was brilliantly successful. By the early sixties, rock and roll had become the musical language of a generation of American youth, crossing racial and cultural barriers that had never previously been bridged by the music industry.
Though white entrepreneurs and artists made the bulk of the profits in this billion dollar business, scores of black artists cracked into national markets that had previously been closed to them and shaped the musical tastes of millions of young whites. Chuck Berry, Little Richard, the Drifters, the Shirelles, the Coasters, Lloyd Price, Fats Domino, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, to name a few, were central to the early success of rock and roll, and their influence would later be built on by Motown artists like the Supremes, the Four Tops and the Temptations, and soul singers like James Brown, Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin. The terms of cultural interchange in this music were shaped by the site of its creation; the post-war metropolis. Rock and roll was the product of a long economic boom that brought blacks into the center of the industrial economy and placed them in close proximity with the descendants of white and latino immigrants. On street corners and in school gymnasiums, in clubs and theaters, in radio stations and recording studious, African-American artists and entrepreneurs mingled with musicians, producers and songwriters of other nationalities.
In the earliest days of rock and roll, the sources of creativity flowed upward from city streets, but as the music became more popular, the recording industry was taken over by media conglomerates, removing its experimental, grass roots atmosphere and separating it from its African-American roots. By the late 1960’s and 1970’s rock and roll had become typecast as “white” music, identified more with its white suburban following than its African-American originators; while African-American artists moved into niches in the music market where a modified urban sensibility still prevailed- funk, disco, soul, and pop. However, African-American and Latino youths, trapped in decaying neighborhoods savaged by disinvestment and government neglect, found themselves disfranchised by these musical developments.
In post-industrial cities where vacant lots, shuttered factories, and decaying schools marked the boundaries of crushed hopes and declining opportunities, young blacks and Latinos, supported by a small number of adventurous whites, invented a new music that fused verbal improvisation, scratching and back beats and fragments of previous musical genres into a jarring, densely rhythmic, compulsively danceable mix. Played in community centers and schoolyards, house parties and small clubs, the music initially attracted little interest from recording companies or commercial radio. But its extraordinary popularity among urban youth soon caught the attention of neighborhood promoters, who began recording the music, and hip audiences in the largely white downtown “punk” scene.
By the early 80’s, hip hop or rap, had started to crack into mass markets and commercial radio, even though most established professionals didn’t regard it as real music. But the music accurately expressed the sensibility of people who had been left out post-industrial social order or who were rebelling against its mores. Hip hop, despite fierce skepticism and opposition, not only survived, but exploded becoming the most commercially successful musical form in the world by the mid-90’s, defining not only the sensibility of urban youth in the United States, but young people of various backgrounds all over the world. Once again African-American cultural creativity, forged in an urban setting, had redefined the musical tastes of a generation.
In the course that follows, we will examine how the sensibility and musical creativity of urban youth, in two very different historical periods , inspired musical revolutions which transformed the tastes of entire generations, crossing boundaries of race, gender, nation and social class. How could this happen twice in fifty years? What does this say about the racial/cultural dynamics of post-war American society? About the connection between African-American culture and American culture? About race and gender dynamics in the culture industry? About the role of women in musical forms which emphasize an insurgent, eroticized masculinity and turn women into objects of desire and/or contempt? About how rebellion can be marketed, coopted and turned into an instrument for material gain?
To get at these questions, the course will use music, film, and literature as well as historical writings on the music industry and contemporary urban life. To add depth to our portrait, we will also explore musical countercultures of international derivation particularly punk, reggae, salsa and reggaeton, and look at how folk music and jazz periodically invade and occasionally shape popular musical forms. We will also explore how these musical forms become internationalized and how they are being brought to life today in new ways in nations around the world.
We have a graduate assistant working with the class, Melissa Castillo Garsow, who will give a few lectures and presentations on the globalization of hip hop. At various points in the class, people involved in the creation of the music we are studying will come to class to perform or talk about their work. There will also be an opportunity for students in the class to perform their music, inside or outside of class. We draw no line between musical creativity and musical analysis. Both are welcome in our classroom.
Rebee Garafolo and Steve Waksman Rockin Out: Popular Music in the USA
Peter Guralnick Sweet Soul Music
Alice Echols The Scars of Sweet Paradise: The Life and Times of Janis Joplin
Nelson George Hip Hop America
Murray Foreman and Mark Anthony Neal That’s The Joint
Jay Z Decoded
I. An Overview of Popular Music in the US: Garafalo and Waksman Rockin Out, Introduction
2. Some Antecedents of Rock and Roll: Garafalo and Waksman, Rockin Out, chapters 1 and 2, Rock and Roll, Race, and the invention of the “Teenager:” Garafalo and Waksman, Rockin Out, chapters 3-5 Echols, Scars of Sweet Paradise, chapter 1
3. Soundtrack to Social Revolution, Soul Music, Civil Rights and the Rise of the Counter Culture: Guralnick, Sweet Soul Music, 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10, 11 Echols, Scars of Sweet Paradise, 2-7 Garafalo and Waksman, Rockin Out, chapter 6
4. Black Power, White Flight and the Resegregation of Popular Music: Guralnick, Sweet Soul Music, ch. 12 Echols, Scars of Sweet Paradise, 8-9 Garafalo and Waksman, Rockin Out, Chapter 7, Mid-Term Examination
5. The Rise of Hip Hop: Creativity and Destruction in the Post-Industrial City: George, Hip Hop America, chapters 1-2, Foreman and Neal, That’s The Joint, selections Mark Naison “The Morrisania Roots of Hip Hop Culture” (article sent on internet) Mark Naison “From Doo Wop To Hip Hop” (article sent on internet)
6.. Caribbean and Latin Influences in Hip Hop Culture: Foreman and Neal, That’s The Joint, selections, Class Presentations/Lectures by Melissa Castillo-Garsow
7. Images of Rebellion: MTV, Music Videos, and Commercialization of Rap: Garafalo and Waksman, Rockin Out, chapters 8, 10 George, Hip Hop America, chapters 3-4, Foreman and Neal, That’s The Joint, selections
8. The Crack Epidemic and the Rise of Gangsta Rap: George, Hip Hop America, chs. 5-10 Foreman and Neal, That’s The Joint, 11, 17, 26, `44, Jay Z Decoded
9. Hip Hop Wars: Gender, Sexuality and the Politics of Contemporary Rap: George, Hip Hop America, chs. 11-18 Foreman and Neal, That’s The Joint, selections
10. The Globalization of Hip Hop: Foreman and Neal, That’s The Joint, selections, Class Presentations/Lectures by Melissa Castillo Garsow
Stream the EP in Full at FACT Magazine
Buy it on iTunes!
– NPR’s Alt Latino’s ‘Mad Musical Scientists’
About the EP via FACT Mag:
On her Carioca Bass EP, she has collaborated with Bay Area producer Kush Arora on a pair of baile funk tunes that use the genre’s everything-in-the-blender ethos to subwoofer melting effect. The title of ‘Seda’ (Portuguese for “rolling papers”) is a play on words, as Zuzuka meditates on the criminalization/legalization of pot over a club-rap grinder. ‘Psicodelia’ owes more to baile funk’s Miami bass tradition, with Zuzuka rapping about fireworks that are actually blasts of favela gunfire.
Chicago, IL – Fri, Feb 8th | Beauty Bar
San Francisco, CA – Sat, Feb 9th | Tormenta Tropical @ Elbo Room
Brooklyn, NY – Fri, Feb 15th | Public Assembly | Tickets
Born in Vitoria, Brazil, ZUZUKA PODEROSA grew up in Rio and spent her formative years in the West Indies. She later moved to Brooklyn, NY, to study jazz vocal improvisation and work at her poetry. For the past few years, she’s been building up the underground Baile Funk, Moombahton and Global Bass scene in New York.
The EP is produced by the Bay Area’s Kush Arora. Kush Arora has walked the line between culture, experimentalism, and percussive bass music for the last 15 years in San Francisco and beyond. With over 10 discs to his name and countless singles, all shades of Dub, Garage, Dancehall, and Indo-Caribbean influences merge into his unique futuristic sound.
“She sounds dangerous, intense, unhinged, and different and more experimental than the baile funk, carioca, and tropical bass vocalists I hear out there. She has an amazing stage presence, uncompromising attitude and intense energy that she pushes forth, and her willingness to experiment outside of the small box of samples and traditions from the Brazilian electronic movement. She has that knack to take people, propel them into motion to get down and forget about the world, but lyrically she’s not all fun and games, which is very important to me.” – Kush Arora
Tracks on the EP are remixed by:
Jubilee: Though now splitting her time between Miami and Brooklyn, XLR8R’s “artist to watch” Jubilee will always be Brooklyn’s bass sweetheart. Known for her rambunctious combination of upfront bass music, UK house, and tropical flavors, she has become a surefire remedy for ailing dancefloors around the globe.
Sonora: Sonora Longoria, is a producer of Latin and third world/global bass music who resides in San Antonio, Texas. The “cumbia child” Sonora has accomplished quite a few projects with global artists, one being for his “Remezcla” EP series where he takes on remixing and recording with carioca bass diva Zuzuka Poderosa.
Nego Mozambique: a Brazilian expat living in Toronto, who has been in the electronic music scene for more than ten years, performing live acts of his own compositions, mash ups and remixes, and also creating soundtracks for TV and movies.
Others include: Vancouver’s HXDB, Chicago’s Chrissy Murderbot, Miami’s Burt Fox and CEE.
‘Psicodelia‘ is an upbeat track featuring Zuzuka rapping about fireworks at a party that are, in fact, gunfire and bombs in one of Brazil’s favelas.
‘Seda‘ is a play on words. Seda is Portuguese for rolling papers. In this song, Zuzuka touches on everything sexy about the drug while advocating for its legalization as there are “worse things happening to people because of its criminalization.”