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.