Tag Archives: Detroit

Bonus Cut Films Presents: An Interview With Jahshua Smith

jahshua

via blatpack.com

When Jahshua Smith (FKA JYoung The General) is on stage, he commands it. He makes you listen to his words and what he has to say. When he’s in front of an audience, he doesn’t hold back and you can tell that he’s doing something that he loves. As an audience member, it becomes impossible not to move your feet, throw your hands up in the air and nod to the beat. After seeing how polarizing and energetic he is on stage, you might assume he would be the same way off it. However, when you sit down and talk with Jahshua, he is one of the more quiet and retrospective artists we have spoken with. As one of the founding members of the BLAT! Pack, Jahshua Smith uses hip-hop as a worldview and applies it to the work he does within African-American history, teaching literacy skills to youth and the music he makes.

We held the interview at the Record Lounge, an independently owned record store on Division Street in East Lansing, Michigan. The store is exactly how you want a record store to be: there are crates of vinyl everywhere, and hidden gems lurk within the stacks as posters, stickers and flyers are plastered on every corner of the space. It’s the kind of place that you could spend hours on end. Having grown up in Detroit, Jahshua eventually left for the Lansing area to attend Michigan State University. He chose the Record lounge for the interview because as a student, it was a place he went to discover new sounds and hangout with friends.

We cannot thank Jahshua enough for his interest in sitting down with us and we look forward to our next encounter.

Many thanks to Heather Frarey, the owner of the Record Lounge, for allowing us to do the interview in her place of business.

Directed by: Gus Navarro
Production: Daniel Hodgman, Gus Navarro and Phillip McGuigan
Camera:  Phillip McGuigan and Julian Stall
Editing: Phillip McGuigan and Gus Navarro
Songs: “Obvious” and “Censored” by StewRat

 

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Pushing the Tracks: “May 14th Transformations” by Sacramento Knoxx

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When you think Detroit hip-hop, one of the biggest names that should never be forgotten is Sacramento Knoxx. As an activist, educator, producer, filmmaker, picture artist and musician, Knoxx is an individual that’s everywhere in the game. When he’s not teaching the youth or building his community, he’s working tirelessly in the studio, polishing off songs left and right.

As a producer, Knoxx is a mastermind. T. Love from Okayplayer called him a “mad scientist,” and to refute that claim would be stupid. Knoxx’s production is lush, with sounds hitting you on all sides. The construction of each track is carefully worked into a perfective state, and when certain tracks hit, they hit. His magnum opus, Rise of The Turtle, brilliantly showcases the work, detail and imagery Knoxx puts into his songs, and how creative he can get with the absence of lyrics.

“May 14th Transformations” is Knoxx’s newest cut. Having been released today (on his birthday no less!), “May 14th” is a spiritual ride into the hip-hop tao. It’s a commanding beat, while at the same time keeping everything calm and cool. The sampling is perfectly placed, with stuttering, bangs and a gliding melody. “Give a little back,” the sampled melody professes, and if you could find a silver lining it would probably be that, because Knoxx once again gives back and supplies it all.

Happy birthday Knoxx!

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Hip-Hop, Feminism and Community Engagement: The Women of the Foundation

via 5egallery.org

via 5egallery.org

By: Nicole DiMichele, Philip Mcguigan and Gus Navarro

Based in Detroit, Michigan, the Foundation is a women’s hip-hop collective that operates out of the 5e Gallery in Corktown. The 5e Gallery is a space where artists teach, celebrate and expand on hip-hop culture and how it can be used as a means of liberation for youth and adults alike. The 5e prides itself on being a safe space for everyone to come and learn about and hone their craft, whether it be learning how to MC, produce a beat or break dance. Despite the heavy emphasis on masculinity within much of hip-hop, the members of the Foundation work tirelessly as a unit to continually create avenues for women to make their voice heard and engage in community within the Detroit hip-hop scene.

We were fortunate enough to sit down with four members of the Foundation, Miz Korona, Nique Love Rhodes, Insite The Riot and Jaci Caprice. These incredible women could not have been more welcoming to us and gracious with their time. When you talk with them, it is so clear that they care for each other on a level of friendship that is grounded in warmth and love. It was an honor to be around that and to hear what they had to say about the various issues related to the art they produce and community projects they are a part of. In the interview we discussed various issues such as community engagement, education, gentrification, feminism and hip-hop, feminism and the ways in which these things related to their experiences within the Detroit hip-hop community. Based on this interview and our own visit to the 5e Gallery, it became clear that the Foundation is one of the only safe spaces for hip-hop artists that exists outside of normalized heterosexual and binary gender identities.

Given the continual drive towards gentrification in Detroit, the Foundation and The 5e Gallery are a vital piece of a community that was in existence long before the supposed rebirth of the city. Taking that into consideration, we feel that it is important to highlight the grassroots movements in Detroit that are doing important work, while at the same time lying in tension with the corporations and young professionals that are flocking to the city, ultimately perpetuating the marginalization of people, predominantly those of color, who have been living there for generations. Given our interview, we strongly believe that the corporate world and the grassroots world could work together to achieve a more sustainable movement to bring the city back. By combining the monetary resources that corporations have access to and the knowledge and experiences of the established grassroots movements, Detroit could be an example of a type of gentrification that is not oppressive or destructive, but rather inclusive and ultimately equitable.

 

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A Bonus Cut Feature: An Interview With Nique Love Rhodes

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By: Gus Navarro

About three weeks ago, Dan and I attended the ULITT hip-hop conference at Michigan State University. In its third year, the ULITT conference presents a unique opportunity to learn, collaborate and network with artists, educators and community activists that incorporate hip-hop in their work. We met Nique Love Rhodes after a session hosted by Sacramento Knoxx. She came right up to us, introduced herself and handed us each CD’s of Against All Odds, her album from 2012.

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Hip-Hop and Transformative Teaching for the Community: Bonus Cut Visits #ULITT2014

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By: Daniel Hodgman

On Saturday, Gus and I headed over to Brody on the campus of Michigan State University to attend the Urban Literacies Institute for Transformative Teaching (ULITT), an annual event that supports teachers, educators, students, youth organizers, activists and community leaders that engage in social justice and hip-hop pedagogy. One of ULITT’s most important missions is to explore critical issues affecting today’s youth, and through this ULITT uses spoken word poetry and hip-hop as powerful tools and a lens to explore language, privilege, youth development and community action. ULITT is held by CAITLAH, a campus program organized by one of the directors David Kirkland, dedicated to further understanding teaching and learning through the fields of arts and humanities. CAITLAH works with educators, students, families, communities and schools to better the advancement of language and literacy for life.

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Bonus Cut Films Presents: An Interview With Hir-O (Final Installment)

via blatpack.com

via blatpack.com

Omari Hall (aka Hir-O) is a producer from Detroit, Michigan. As one of the city’s rising hip-hop artists, Hir-O has branded his music with splashes of electronic swells, jazz, soul, live instrumentation and other realms of music that all come to form a cohesive hip-hop force. His projects with DaJaz1, Doss The Artist and Red Pill, along with his instrumentals such as The Voyage Home, reflect the true prowess and versatility of his work, and with future projects coming in 2014, Hir-O is a name you should remember.

Today we’re excited to bring you the third and final installment of our interview with Hir-O as part of Bonus Cut Films, a series that looks into the lives of various hip-hop artists across the globe that have impacted and shaped this culture for the better.

If you haven’t seen part one, you’re going to wanna do that. Click here to watch.
Part two you can view here. 

Below is the final installment of our Hir-O feature:

Film Credits: 
Writing and Script Design: Daniel Hodgman, Gus Navarro and Justin Cook 
Directed By: Gus Navarro 
Production: Daniel Hodgman, Gus Navarro and Phillip McGuigan 
Camera and Sound Design: Ian Siporin, Julian Stall and Phillip Mcguigan
Editing: Gus Navarro and Phillip McGuigan
Songs: “Commonwealth” by Hir-O / “Angel Outlaw” by Hir-O/ “Waiting On A Train (instrumental)” by Hir-O

Many thanks to Omari for inviting us down for the interview. 

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Bonus Cut Films Presents: An Interview With Hir-O (Part Two)

via blatpack.com

via blatpack.com

Omari Hall (aka Hir-O) is a producer from Detroit, Michigan. As one of the city’s rising hip-hop artists, Hir-O has branded his music with splashes of electronic swells, jazz, soul, live instrumentation and other realms of music that all come to form a cohesive hip-hop force. His projects with DaJaz1, Doss The Artist and Red Pill, along with his instrumentals such as The Voyage Home, reflect the true prowess and versatility of his work, and with future projects coming in 2014, Hir-O is a name you should remember.

Today we’re excited to bring you part two of our interview with Hir-O as part of Bonus Cut Films, a series that looks into the lives of various hip-hop artists across the globe that have impacted and shaped this culture for the better.

If you haven’t seen part one, you’re going to wanna do that. Click here to watch.

Below is the second installment of our Hir-O feature:

Film Credits: 
Writing and Script Design: Daniel Hodgman, Gus Navarro and Justin Cook 
Directed By: Gus Navarro 
Production: Daniel Hodgman, Gus Navarro and Phillip McGuigan 
Camera and Sound Design: Ian Siporin, Julian Stall and Phillip Mcguigan
Editing: Gus Navarro and Phillip McGuigan
Songs: “We Are Not Like Them (instrumental)” by Hir-O / “Best Rapper (instrumental)” by Hir-O

Many thanks to Omari for inviting us down for the interview. 

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