Pushing the Tracks: “VIVA PALESTINA” by Sacramento Knoxx

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By: Sacramento Knoxx

“What the world is witnessing is a colonial regime using its deadly power to crush a people’s will to resist.” -Lulu Palestina, Palestinian poet from Oakland in the Bay Area.

I have been doing an artist residency with SOUL (School Of Unity and Liberation) as a cultural worker interning at AROC (Arab Resource & Organizing Center). This instrumental is a part of a collection of cultural work we are collectively producing out here in the West Coast. This instrumental is mixed with speeches and chants from the marches, demonstrations, and protests held in San Francisco led by the Arab Youth in the bay area with amazing support from various organizations and communities of color building solidarity and joint struggle against imperialism as this current project of colonialism in Palestine continues.

When an injustice to humanity is going on and you sit silent, you are taking the side of the colonizer who is perpetuating the oppression. In this case, I’m making loud ass beats and disrupting the avenues of the internet and social media with messages of love and resistance and education to what is happening to human beings across mother earth. This genocide taking place in Palestine is not a war. With the media lying, fabricating, and co-opting the narratives of the people it is important we all tell our own narratives and be self determined in this liberation movement. Even more so, as artists, and as we build our cultural resistance, it is important to create, educate, motivate and inspire the masses to make collective action. Part of my creation is the production of cultural work of media, creative design, music, film & video, poems, spoken word, and rap.

As we continue to unplug people from the matrix with our actions, education, and art, we have to look at the larger picture, and make these connections of our tax dollars that are being used to maximize profits of the oil companies through military weapons, ammunition, equipment, and stores that help with the genocide of Palestinians as Israel is the foot soldier for U.S. Imperialism. Colonization always involves the violent taking of land and the extraction of natural resources, which is the current port area in the Mediterranean Sea next to Palestine with the Zionist occupation. That in turn is connected with private prisons, the criminalization of black & brown communities from the “war on drugs,” dehumanizing Arabs as terrorists with the “war on terrorism,” using “border security” to increase the dehumanizing process and repressive control of “undocumented” peoples in their indigenous home of occupied Turtle Island, and the violent process of gentrification happening in our current communities.

Israel receives $4 billion in “aid” from the United States each year. This money is being used to commit war crimes against the Palestinian people in Gaza.

“600+ Palestinians killed, 3,460 injured, 18,300 have taken refuge in UNRWA shelters, and 43% of Gaza is under evacuation orders/no go zones.” -BBC 

This is a historical moment for humanity that will determine if conditions get better or are made worse for people of color and the oppressed.

This is a deliberate campaign to terrorize and break the Palestinian will for self-determination, resistance, and freedom. When our future generations look back at this moment and question us with “what did you do during that horrible part of history?” I hope that we can all say that we stood united, around a vision based on the principles of dignity justice and the liberation of all Palestine.

“We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.” -Nelson Mandela

More info: 

In San Francisco, an energized crowd of over 6,000 people flooded and shut down Market Street this past Sunday. This comingSaturday, July 26th, as Israel continues to massacre Palestinians and the Palestinian resistance fights back, the Bay Area is mobilizing to show its support for justice and humanity.

Saturday, July 26th, 1pm

Justin Herman Plaza, Embarcadero BART Station, San Francisco

https://www.facebook.com/events/1480712518836310/

VIVA PALESTINA! 

End US Aid to Israel!
Stop the Attack on Gaza now!
End the Apartheid State of Israel!
Free all our political prisoners!
Solidarity with the people of Palestine.

Knoxx is an Ojibwe/Anishinaabe & Xicano MC, music producer, motion picture artist, multimedia designer, & cultural worker.

With 7 years of foundation in latin jazz, swing, funk, blues, and indigenous music, IshKote Nene also known as Sacramento Knoxx, has brought a hybrid blend of performance & engagement within the digital media arts & the hip hop arts to audiences across Turtle Island & globally through digital spaces! 

Through his multidisciplinary artistry, his creations inspire, educate, heal, motivate, engage & reach youth & elders alike in communities of color. Being a prominent music artist from Southwest Detroit with his cultural stories of love & resistance, raw hip hop sounds, and evolving style, Knoxx is a radical composition of a free soul.

“Music Is Medicine”, as Knoxx says, and through this work, his narrative provides a voice for creative expression of identity, love, and healing as his musical pieces creatively challenges & bravely confronts many social ills faced by many communities. As an emerging national artist, @Knockzarelli seeks to leave a beautiful blend of melodies that are harmonic to the next 7 generations for the world through arts, music, and culture. 

 

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Bonus Cut Poetry: “On Being Vegetarian” by Abby Conklin

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This is Bonus Cut Poetry, a series that features original poems by Bonus Cut staff, artists and YOU! In this series, our mission is to bring people together in poetry, share stories and display wonderful artistic pieces. If you would like to have your poems in the next Bonus Cut Poetry installment, just email us at bonuscut@gmail.com

This installment features Bonus Cut’s own Abby Conklin.

On Being Vegetarian 
By: Abby Conklin 

I took pliers and a nut cracker
to a lobster for the first time
the night of my twenty-second birthday.
Turned out more violent
than I’d thought it would, shattering
the bone-red carapace in order
to stab at freckled meat
with forked needles so sharp
they stuck me too.  Shards
of shell flying, guts clumsily
leaking onto paper plates.
Scrambling to keep the claws clear
of the intestinal green gunk.
“What’s the white stuff sheathing
the meat, Mum?  Fear turned lactic
acid?”  “No, Abby, we’re different
from lobsters.  Mammals
are different.”  She gripped
the tail, slit its tender belly up
the middle.  As if gutting
its legs hadn’t done job enough.
I held its abdomen, its head, while
she worked, torn-in-two spider
from the bottom of the ocean.
Felt dragged at by the heft
of the creature’s life turned
unbearably hot, tightness
moving bile through my chest.
I ate the tail slowly, pulling
white shreds free and trying
them in butter; congealed
yellow costuming in ramekins.
I couldn’t taste the animal
I was eating, but I kept chewing,
swallowing,
appearances.  Went home,
slept badly.  The next night,
there were haddock filets
for supper.

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Album of the Week: “THE PUZZLE episode one THE BIG GAME” by Lewis Parker

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Lewis Parker
THE PUZZLE episode one THE BIG GAME
The Word Of Dusty Vinyl, 2009

Gus’ Thought

Talking specifically about hip-hop culture, the United States is a special place because it originated here. As we know, hip-hop spread all over the country, each region incorporating its own particular flavor and style to the mix. At this point hip-hop is a phenomenon that has taken the world by storm. Being in the United States, we get to enjoy all the artists (good and bad) that come from the birthplace of the culture. This means it can be difficult to branch out and hear sounds that come from different places. If you are in search of some hip-hop from outside the United States, check out British producer/MC Lewis Parker.

From 2011, Parker’s The Puzzle (Episode One): The Big Game is brimming with British bravado. From a production standpoint, Parker’s work here feels complete. Nothing was left out and it captures his style, just how he intended. From song to song, the music swells with horns blowing full out, guitars strumming on the low end, energetic drum loops and woodwinds that are perfectly layered on top. Tracks such as “Man Up,” “Dirty Money” and “The Big Gamble” all incorporate these elements, giving the album a feeling of retro, cinematic grittiness that would be in line with your favorite 007 film starring Sean Connery. This secret agent aura is only reinforced with the lyricism of each track. As Parker spits on “Say It’s Just A Game,” “Ain’t nothin’ changin’ with that/ Countin’ the cash stack, having a flashback/ Thinkin,’ ‘Damn, wish she had my back’/ Up in the club/ Cool cat, tilted hat.”

In the end, Parker’s smooth sound permeates throughout the entire record. It’s sleek, sophisticated and most importantly; suave. However, the thing I love about The Puzzle (Episode One): The Big Game is that it sounds different than most of what you’ll hear coming across the hip-hop airwaves in the United States. It’s always good to try new things and in this case, the music of Lewis Parker is a very good thing indeed.

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Bonus Cut Films Presents: An Interview With Raphael Downes

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The hip-hop scene in Lansing, Michigan is an interesting one. It seems to rise and fall with the student population that comes and goes every four years from Michigan State University. There are also MCs, producers, DJs, B-boys/girls and graffiti artists that were born and raised in Lansing, developing their craft within the Capitol area.

Raphael Downes is one of these MCs, having been in the scene from the days of Respiration at Mac’s Bar. When you watch him perform and listen to his music, you can tell that rapping is something that comes natural to him. However, its also something that he’s worked on, which has to be done if you’re serious about making a career in music. During a freestyle, he gets open with the best of them. On stage his persona is nothing short of infectious.

Raphael is a man of faith. There is the religious side to him, something that drives his everyday life, as well as his belief in hope and being positive. These themes are deeply rooted in his music and are the essence of hip-hop; speaking on your truth and experiences. There are references to raising his daughter, living paycheck to paycheck and how good it can feel to build on even the smallest of victories during the day. Raphael’s project, The Bridge, will be released in the near future and incorporates these ideas.  With the superb production of Ozay Moore and KuroiOto, The Bridge is supported by a strong percussive foundation. Guest appearances by James Gardin, Jahshua Smith and Red Pill only add to an already solid effort by Raphael. The allure of The Bridge is that it’s not about buying into a certain set of values. Instead, The Bridge is about hope and survival, no matter what the circumstances might be. This is something that people do all over the world everyday. We may come from different places, but that doesn’t mean we can’t relate to each other.

Recently we were fortunate enough to sit down with Raphael and talk about how he got involved in hip-hop, his love of literature, the All of the Above Hip-Hop Collective (AOTA) and what went into creating The Bridge.

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The Happenings: Talib Kweli and the Hip-Hop Defense of Palestine

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By: Daniel Hodgman

“Let’s get free just like the Palestinians!” –Black Star “RE: DEFinition (Live at Club Nokia 9/22/2012)”

Let’s Get Free Just Like the Palestinians

The quote above is a reworked bar from Black Star’s song “RE: DEFinition.” Playing to a packed Club Nokia in Los Angeles in September, 2012, Talib Kweli and Yasiin Bey switched things up during their live set of the song and pronounced to the crowd, “Son we way past the minimum, entering millennium/ Let’s get free just like the Palestinians!” (The original line is: “raps will hold a gat to your back like Palestinians”). It was, in one swift and dominant showing, one of those “bigger than hip-hop” moments, and with two of the most conscious MCs out there in Talib and Bey—not to mention Beat Junkies creator and mastermind J Rocc behind the 1s and 2s that night—the message was clear that hip-hop was at the defense of Palestine.

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Experiments in Hip-Hop Part One

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By: Justin Cook

The aesthetic of hip-hop is ever-changing—it in and of itself is a global experiment, living and breathing through a million MC’s. That’s what made this a difficult article to write. Originally, I set out to track the history and evolution of “experimental” hip-hop music. I soon found almost all artists worth fucking with challenge the industry in their own way, and it’s difficult to define what exactly “experimental” hip-hop is. Artists have experimented lyrically and sonically with hip-hop since its inception on the streets of New York. Some do this through live instrumentation, psychedelic/electronic beats or tempo changes. Others do it through interludes, elaborate transitions or by simply being a member of the LGBTQ community. In this day and age if you’re not a Top 40 rapper, you will probably be labeled as “experimental” or “alternative.” So I came up with a compromise. I’m going to highlight some of my favorite scientists of sound, who continually push hip-hop music into the outer dimensions, and break down what makes them so incredible.

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Album of the Week: “Thirty Eight” by Apollo Brown

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Apollo Brown
Thirty Eight
Mello Music Group, 2014

Daniel’s Thought

Apollo Brown is one of the most cinematic producers of our generation. Painting pictures on MPC murals, the way he can fluctuate his sound to varying projects while retaining his patented style is one of the greatest accomplishments very few producers achieve these days. From the blue-collar sound and feel of Ugly Heroes, to the gritty slam of Dice Game, to his re-working of Adrian Younge’s Twelve Reasons to Die, every project Apollo embarks on is an individual branch on his overall tree of sound. Like any branch from a tree, there are characteristics that are shared among many of the other branches, but also characteristics unlike any other branch hanging on the tree.

Thirty Eight is his newest project, and as it crackles and spits, clear-cut imagery and cinematic sounds burst from the record’s framework. “All You Know” rattles with Apollo’s coveted hard-hitting boom-bap and intense sound cuts (this time a quick synth one-hitter), but it also twinkles and rattles as if it’s playing along to a Great Gatsby-like car chase. On “Dirt on the Ground,” the production is layered into typical Apollo Brown fashion, with repetitive samples ooh’ing and ahh’ing throughout the track, but there’s also an added background buzzing that makes the song accompany the visuals to something like Road to Perdition. The album’s big surprise, “Felonious,” glides smoothly under a rush of synth pads and a cool and collected guitar melody that shows us what tricks Apollo Brown has hiding for us at every turn.

So yes, with Thirty Eight you’ll hear the quirks and familiarities Apollo Brown is known for. But you’ll also hear new and intriguing sounds that he is unleashing for the first time as an overall ode to 70s Blaxploitation soundtracks. Much like any tree and its branches, Apollo’s discography has all the features you expect to hear and new ones sprouting with each branch.

Gus’ Thought 

There is no question that over the years, Apollo Brown has established himself as one of the most consistently bangin’ producers in hip-hop. Whether he is making beats for a group (The Left and Ugly Heroes), an individual MC (Boog Brown, Hassaan Mackey, Guilty Simpson and OC) or an instrumental album, there is a cleanliness to his music that allows him to work in many different situations. While Apollo Brown beats have come to be associated with heavy sampling and hefty drums, he has still been able to create different sounding beats and adapt to the various projects he’s been a part of. There is certainly a formula to the way he does things and its a damn good one. His most recent instrumental project, Thirty Eight, showcases this. The predominant musical characteristics are recognizably Apollo Brown. However, he brings a completely new thematic element to this album that is much scratchier and rough around the edges.

Released in April 2014, Thirty Eight is more soundtrack-like than anything else, the music painting vivid scenes when bumped at the appropriate levels. The description of the record via the Bandcamp Page reads:

These are suites sounding from long barrels held by lone men lurking in grimy project hallways. Tinged with revenge and regret, shrouded in thick tendrils of hollow-point smoke, the songs have all the makings of an epic gangster tragedy. They’re also great when paired with anything Raymond Chandler.”

With its lack of lyricism, the brilliance of a well-made instrumental album is that it allows the listener to imagine. Brown’s Thirty Eight does this extremely well, creating a vast expanse of musical landscapes and potential stories. With blaring horns and a slow tempo, “The Warning” sounds like the build up to a drive-by shooting in 1940’s Los Angeles. “Lonely and Cold” could accompany a scene in a 1970’s Blaxploitation film set within a murky shipyard stacked with smuggled goods. The twangs of “The Laughter Faded” creates a terribly hollow feeling of despair and the loss of prosperity and good times as the title suggests.

With Thirty Eight, Apollo Brown has created an album that should be a welcome addition to the rotation to those that already support Apollo’s work as well as for those that aren’t as familiar. Using certain elements of his tried and true method of sampling while adding new textures and styles to his sound, Thirty Eight comes across as a much needed soundtrack to the Noir/ Mafioso/ Blaxploitation genres that are colorful and full of drama. The beauty of this record is that it allows the listener to create their own ideas and stories without abandoning Brown’s overall vision of the project. Additionally, Apollo Brown continues to demonstrate why he is one of the most dependable and skilled producers around.

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Bonus Cut Presents: An Interview With Lansing Hip-Hop Artist and Educator EssBe

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By: Gus Navarro

The first time I met EssBe, I thought he was a rapper. This was at the ULITT Conference at Michigan State University back in March and he was participating in a cypher workshop led by the incomparable Toni Blackman. His rhymes were on point and to be quite honest, I didn’t know any better. As it turns out, he is in fact a producer and member of the Lansing-based hip-hop collective, All Of The Above (AOTA). Although he has been making beats for over ten years, you probably haven’t heard of EssBe unless you’re aware of what’s going down hip-hop wise in the Lansing area. This is because he just recently released Bag Fries, his first official instrumental project. Spanning onlyThe first time I met EssBe, I thought he was a rapper. This was at the ULITT Conference at Michigan  seven tracks, Bag Fries is a project that demonstrates his varying production styles and abilities.

Not only is EssBe a good producer, he is a good person that is passionate about music and developing his craft. In this interview he speaks about playing pots and pans as a young one and then the moment when he first picked up a pair of drumsticks. From there we learn about the beginnings of his hip-hop production, something that he would come to work on obsessively, locked away in his room for hours on end. Bag Fries is the result of the work he’s put in over time and is something that he can bring back to the students he teaches at AOTA. It was a pleasure to sit down and talk about Bag Fries, hip-hop culture and Fruity Loops. With more music on the way in 2014, stay tuned to what EssBe has in coming down the pipeline.

Podcast

Listen to Bag Fries here

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