Tag Archives: the roots

The Return of Dave Chappelle and a Look Back at His Block Party

blockparty--638x366

Starting on June 18th and running through the 26th, Dave Chappelle will be performing in New York City for the first time since 2004. Over the course of eight days, Chappelle will be at Radio City Music Hall, reminding audiences why he is one of the great comedians of our time. While the first five nights will not soon be forgotten, the last three will be monumental. On the 24th, the program includes a performance by the Legendary Roots Crew. The following night, Chappelle will be joined by Busta Rhymes, DJ Premier and Janelle Monae. Finally, the one and only Erykah Badu will grace the stage as Chappelle’s return to NYC comes to a close. With these last three nights, the goal is to bring back the magic that occurred ten years ago.

In 2004, Chappelle set up and hosted an all-day concert in Brooklyn with some of the the most respected and explosive musicians in the business back then and currently. To name a few, Kanye West, The Fugees, Dead Prez, John Legend, Yasiin Bey, Talib Kweli, Common, Erykah Badu and The Roots were all there sharing the stage. The footage of that day was eventually released in 2005 as Block Party, a feature length documentary film written by Dave Chappelle and directed by Michel Gondry. Dedicated to the memory of J Dilla, Block Party gives us a glimpse into a day of hip-hop that was full of dope artists, great music, a loving crowd and an amazing concert. Whether you enjoy or dislike the comedy of Dave Chappelle, the man knows his music and how to bring artists together. In anticipation of his run at Radio City Music Hall, we take a look back at ten of our favorite hip-hop moments from his show on Comedy Central and from Block Party.

Continue reading

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Album Review: “…And Then You Shoot Your Cousin” by The Roots

the-roots-and-then-you-shoot-your-cousin-500x500

By: Pete Andrew

For Christmas 1998, my eldest sister purchased for me the Barenaked Ladies Stunt. It wasn’t my first album – that honor somehow belongs to Aqua’s Aquarium – but it sticks in my mind for one reason: though my sister bought me the whole album, rather than a single, I sat in my room for what seemed like weeks and listened to one song, “One Week, on repeat. By that, I don’t mean that I listened to it a few times before moving on to the rest of the album, popped out the CD in favor of another band’s album, went outside like a normal child, or even went to the bathroom. I stayed in that room and listened to “One Week” ad nauseam. It didn’t matter that I had to go to the bathroom – there were dresser drawers for that. It didn’t matter that I got hungry – I pulled up floorboards and chewed up those bad boys without hesitation. It didn’t matter that my other sister politely mentioned (with a raised voice and thinly veiled threats, most likely) that, hey, Pete, since the Barenaked Ladies put forth the effort to produce a full album, and my sister was nice enough to purchase it for me, maybe I should listen to the whole fucking thing before I die a mysterious death.

Alas, it seems evident that I am a member of the one of the first generations to largely eschew listening to albums in their entirety, choosing instead to export only my favorite songs to blank CDs or—now that I’m no longer twelve years old—iTunes playlists. I’m torn on this fact; on one hand, if an album doesn’t grab me from start to finish, why bother listening to the whole thing when I can get all I want out of it with four tracks? Conversely, many albums need the audience to consume them as a singular product in order for listeners to realize fully the project’s value. The album’s point becomes clearer when the listener commits to the album from onset to terminus. One’s understanding and appreciation for an album grows with numerous, full run-throughs.

To the surprise of absolutely nobody who has listened to The Roots, their newest effort, …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin, is one of those albums. There is no “One Week” or “Barbie Girl” (thank the gods), but at a succinct runtime of 33:22, one has no trouble getting from the opening notes (courtesy of the legendary Nina Simone) to the album’s concluding track, “Tomorrow,” which operates as, well, a “soul solo of sorts” for Newark’s own Raheem DeVaughn.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

The Mixes: The Valentines Day Mixtape

The_Wire

By: Daniel Hodgman

The Mixes is a Bonus Cut series that focuses on themed mixtapes. The purpose of this series is to share music in hip-hop, but also to share the ability to express feelings through mixtapes. The premise takes after Rob Sheffield’s book Love is a Mix Tape, but unlike his book, these mixes will vary in theme. Although I will have notes explaining why I included each song, the overall interpretation of the songs and the mixtape as a whole is on you. Music is fickle because it triggers different emotions, and one of the greatest feelings is determining your thoughts for specific music on your own. Although Bonus Cut provides The Starting Five, a weekly list of songs the creators are currently digging, The Mixes is an individual entity because of its focus on certain themes.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Exploring The Minds of Hip-Hop: The Bonus Cut Fantasy Draft (Part Six)

via consequenceofsound.net

via consequenceofsound.net

By: Harry Jadun with help from the Bonus Cut staff

Click here for part one.
Click here for part two.
Click here for part three.
Click here for part four.
Click here for part five. 

Fantasy sports has taken off. Due to the rise in technology and the internet, fantasy sports has not only become unbelievably popular in the United States, but also all around the world. Here at Bonus Cut, we have decided that we would take the concept of fantasy sports and apply it to hip-hop music. Instead of drafting wideouts and running backs, we’ve drafted some of our favorite MC’s and beat makers. The big winner in this situation is you. Not only do we introduce you to some of our favorite hip-hop artists and explain why they are relevant in hip-hop culture, we’ve also laced the Draft with dope tracks for your audio pleasure. With this draft, our goal is to pay tribute to some our favorite hip-hop artists and acknowledge the influence they have had on our lives.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Starting Five: 9/11/13

records

Every week, Daniel and Gus pick five songs to share called The Starting Five. This week, they’re personally sharing these tracks as a feature.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Bonus Cut Book Review: Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove

questlove-mo-meta-blues-715

Review by: Pete Andrew

Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove
By: Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Ben Greenman
Grand Central Publishing, 2013

The Roots saved me.

Years ago, when I was but an impressionable young man, my first tastes of hip-hop led me down the path of artists like Lil’ Jon and his merry band of Eastside Boyz, Da Backwudz (remember this song?), Trillville (a squeaking bed? How subtle.), and the like. In one’s formative years, one’s musical milieu is of the utmost importance, and at first I had only hip-hop’s dredges pumping on my portable CD player. But then an angel appeared in my life, taking the musical form of “Seed 2.0.” That classic Roots song served as the catalyst in my effort to get my hands on everything The Roots ever made or would make in the future. Through The Roots came a love for artists like Kanye West, who in turn led me to Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Common, Dilla, Slum Village and basically every other worthwhile hip-hop act I’ve ever enjoyed. When it comes to me personally – and I’m sure it’s the same or similar for many others – The Roots couldn’t have thought up a better name.

Needless to say, I’m a fan, and I approached the book as such. Hell, I even named my intermittently-updated blog after one of my favorite Roots joints.[1]  (This is my one plug, promise.)

When it came to my attention that the drummer of the Roots, Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson, had co-written a memoir of sorts, I had to buy a copy immediately. Hell, even if Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove[2] ended up as the worst book in recent memory, I can’t think of many people whose coffers I’d rather fill (assuming his coffers can only handle $20, that is).

Fortunately, Mo’ Meta Blues did not end up as the worst book I’ve ever read. Quite the contrary in fact; ?uestlove’s debut effort, co-written by Ben Greenman, serves as a comprehensive look at hip-hop from its origin to the present, as well as an in depth look at how The Roots – hip hop’s resident “gay cousin at a Bible Belt family reunion”—managed to remain relevant in the music industry for two decades when rappers typically come and go quicker than a premature ejaculator who hears his girlfriend’s father thundering up the stairs, wondering why a grown man is in his 16-year-old daughter’s room. Or, you know, something along those lines.

If you think about it, ?uesto grew up at the perfect time to write this book. He recalls exactly where and when he heard hip-hop for the first time:

“I was there when they premiered The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” on WDAS 105.3 on your FM dial. I was at home with my sister, and the two of us stared at the radio the whole time it was happening; it was our equivalent of the old radio drama War of the Worlds.”

Fitting that an individual whose group will one day be immortalized in hip-hop would have such a reaction to the experience, and Thompson recounts where he was and how he felt at some of hip-hop’s most crucial, trans-formative moments. Furthermore, as The Roots established themselves in the realm of hip-hop, ?uestlove and Co. had the opportunity to both meet and associate with countless musical artists, including some of the greats: Alicia Keys, Erykah Badu, Prince, Pharrell, Stevie Wonder. As an insider, he has gathered stories that only someone in such a position could. Jamming in the studio with Pharrell, being “friend zoned” by Alicia Keys – and hey, if you read this book for one storyline, ?uest’s multiple Prince encounters are must-reads. All I’ll say here is that, when reading ?uestlove talk about the one time he went roller skating with the artist formerly known as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince (aka “Prince”), it’s not hard to imagine him putting his feet on Charlie Murphy’s couch. Or slapping Charlie Murphy. Or really doing any of the things he’s alleged to have done to Charlie Murphy. Or doing cocaine.  You get the point.

Ahmir Thompson is a nerd, and he approaches Mo’ Meta Blues only as a music nerd would. “Nerd” is too weak, too dismissive, actually. Thompson has Rainman-level skills when it comes to his passion. His ability to retain as many artists, songs, albums and real-life situations with so many of the specifics—not to mention the many drum beats he’s got stored up in his iconic afro—is remarkable, and such a display enriches his story telling throughout the book. ?uestlove’s words evoke his readily apparent passion for all things music—for hip-hop, of course, but also for the music he experienced growing up in a strong Christian household in 1970’s and as a member of his family’s traveling band. And he’s dedicated his life to music and, more specifically, hip-hop. As ?uestlove goes through meeting Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter (MC of The Roots), in the principal’s office (another great scene of MMB), the forming of the band, touring, album drops, critical and commercial successes and disappointments (“selling-CDs-from-a-duffel-bag broke”), and working with Jimmy Fallon, the reader is struck with a strong sense of Thompson’s love for true hip-hop and a desire to keep it in its purest form. Arguably my favorite quotation from MMB speaks to that notion, and though it doesn’t actually come from ?uestlove himself (guest “speakers,” such as Roots manager Rich Nichols in this particular case, drop by the book from time to time to lend their thoughts and opinions to the project, which helps to give MMB a unique feel), I’m sure he wouldn’t argue:

“I figure it this way: when Sam Cooke sang ‘a change is gonna come,’ I didn’t foresee that change being one that would allow for niggas to be rapping about ‘busting bitches out wit dey super sperm.’”

When writing reviews, I try to find at least one negative. I won’t nitpick to an absurd degree, but there’s almost always something in art that’s imperfect. And because I’m the authority on these matters—I do have a Bachelor’s degree in English, after all—I strive to find it and point it out for the world to see, because apparently I’m incredibly insecure about myself in every conceivable way and to do so makes me feel better about myself. Anyway, the one place where the author loses me from time to time is in his “Quest Loves Records” segments, in which he outlines his favorite records from years past, predominantly from his childhood. While it’s certainly interesting to get a glimpse into Thompson’s past music life, I found the many lists of many artists (some of whom I’m entirely unfamiliar with) both a bit daunting and distracting. If I one day go back and acquaint myself to these albums, I’ll be happy he included them, but this first time around I just wished that he’d stick to the storytelling.

Still, if that’s my main criticism, chances are the book is pretty damn good.

I imagine the main question any reader wants a reviewer to answer also stands as the most obvious question:  Should I read it? Well reader, yes, yes you should. One should not take for granted the chance to read the words of a musical genius and one of the most widely celebrated individuals in the industry today as he speaks on all of the aforementioned topics, as well as race, ingenious ways to hide things from your parents, hip-hop names (including how he decided on “?uestlove”), DJing, the Roots’ beef with Notorious B.I.G. (who knew?), the creative subtleties of celebrity “walk-in” music on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, etc. All-in-all, this borders on a must-read for hip-hop fans.  If you’re a Roots fan, it’s an absolute must-read. Of course it is. You already knew that.

Without The Roots, who knows where I’d be in regards to my musical taste. Fellow Roots revelers, where would you be? Rocking snapbacks, popping molly and listening to Drake? Or perhaps Chief Keef, or whoever the hell current serves as leader of misogynistic, ignorant, misguided, drugged out, rudimentary bullshit rap.

So I say it again: The Roots saved us. ?uestlove, always stuck in the back and yet fully front and center, saved us, and Mo’ Meta Blues tells us how it all came to be.


[1] Not to mention five bowls back in high school.

[2] Shout out to John Irving.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Mixes: The Dice Raw Mixtape

mixtape_cassette-13651

By: Daniel Hodgman and Gus Navarro

The Mixes is a Bonus Cut series that focuses on themed mixtapes. The purpose of this series is to share music in hip-hop, but also to share the ability to express feelings through mixtapes. The premise takes after Rob Sheffield’s book Love is a Mix Tape, but unlike his book, these mixes will vary in theme. Although I will have notes explaining why I included each song, the overall interpretation of the songs and the mixtape as a whole is on you. Music is fickle because it triggers different emotions, and one of the greatest feelings is determining your thoughts for specific music on your own. Although Bonus Cut provides The Starting Five, a weekly list of songs the creators are currently digging, The Mixes is an individual entity because of its focus on certain themes.

Past mixtapes: The “Keeping a Current With What’s Current” Mixtape
Past mixtapes: The “Dreamin’ in Color” Mixtape

The “Dice Raw” Mixtape

Philadelphia MC, Dice Raw, has been in the game for quite some time. He may not be as well known as some other MCs out there but he always steps correct and comes to the table with bars. On August 19th he will release a solo album entitled Jimmy’s Back. This was inspired by Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow, which challenges the staggering statistics regarding the “War On Drugs,” the school to prison pipeline and the mass incarceration of African-American males. This is an important issue that is being addressed in academic scholarship as well as hip-hop. The goal of this mixtape is to feature some of Dice Raw’s best moments and highlight his growth as an MC unafraid to drop line after line, to a fearless artist that uses his music to provide critical social commentary.

Gus’ Picks

“The Lesson Pt. 1” –Do you Want More?!!!??!

“I guess you’re believin’ that I’m insane / When I’m taggin’ my name upon the train / I got so much pride, I got so much soul / With lyrics I make niggas stop, drop and roll.”

From way back, Dice is in rare form as he slays this track from start to finish.

“Clones” –Illadelph Halflife

“I train wack MCs, in camps like ex-marines / Why the fuck you think you went home and had bad dreams of horrifying things that your ass never seen before? / You traveled to the realm of Dice Raw / Where the clones get they domes blown with chrome microphones.”

Dude is not messing around with the metaphors on this one.

“How I Got Over” –How I Got Over

“Out on the streets, where I grew up / First thing they teach us is not to give a fuck / That type of thinking can’t get you nowhere / Someone has to care.”

On this one Dice somberly provides the lyrics for the hook, effortlessly complimenting the laid back groove laid down by The Roots.

“Tip The Scale” –Undun

“Gettin’ money’s a style that never plays out / Til’ you end up boxing your stash, money’s paid out / The scales of justice ain’t equally weighed out / Only two ways out, digging tunnels or digging graves out.”

Dice Raw’s development as an artist is on full display as he sings the hook and an insightful verse in which he discusses the challenge of avoiding incarnation.

Daniel’s Picks

“Ain’t Sayin Nothin’ New” –Things Fall Apart

“With CD’s, cassettes, no C.O.D.’s or checks / Straight from the old school, aiyyo Raw’s in full effect.”

Dice Raw’s delivery in “Ain’t Sayin Nothin’ New” is scratchy and scattered, but he keeps supplying kick-punching one-hitters that all the mind is focusing on is his ability to lyrically attack.

“5 Stages of Death” –Reclaiming the Dead

“16 to your back, you ain’t going to make it.”

Most of Dice Raw’s debut record is poor, and that’s not even a big knock against him, it’s just that he’s always been a wonderful piece to The Roots’ records (Dice Raw is to The Roots as Cappadonna is to The Wu). However, “5 Stages of Death” is a very interesting take on songwriting, and it’s here where we see Raw’s imaginative mind.

“I Will Not Apologize” –Rising Down

“Don’t blame the nigga, blame America, it’s all business / Acting like a monkey is the only way to sell tickets.”

Dice Raw throws color-blind racism right at your face without dumbing it down.

“One Time” –Undun

“Cause we all going down just like the subprime / Or a cheap ass half gallon of Ballantine.”

One of the smartest lines I’ve ever listened to. Either we’re going down like the mortgage crisis or a cheap half gallon of alcohol.

Make sure to stay tuned for August 19th and the release of Jimmy’s Back. In the meantime, watch this short documentary from Dice Raw that illustrates the challenges faced by convicted felons and the redemptive power of music.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: