Category: "music"

Jan/14
2009

Hello and happy holidays cyber-surfers,

It seems like the global attack on Hip-Hop has finally reached Europe’s shores. Over the last three months most of the radio stations have stopped playing Hip-Hop music and they taken the 24hour Hip-Hop station FunX off the air. The reasoning behind this blatant attack on the culture is, some girl got attacked and the attackers said they listened to Hip-Hop music. Apparently that was all the justification necessary to stop broadcasting Hip-hop on radio and television. To balance out this cultural whitewash and keep the masses at bay. The “powers that be” have provided a non-stop barrage of big-named performances from hardcore to pop. In the last month alone there have been concerts by Tha Game, Estelle, Public Enemy, Royce 5’9, D12, and many others. Out of all the concerts I’ve seen the best hands down was Public Enemy.

Chuck D and Flava Flav are true Hip-Hop legends, like the Rolling Stone is to rock music. They were performing some of those songs twenty years ago (in 1988) and still got BUSY!!! They ran thru an incredible two hour set backed-up by a six piece band, Jeru tha Damaja and DJ Lord displaying crazy turntable skills in between numbers. It was my first time seeing PE live and their showmanship was amazing. They performed every track live, Chuck D rhymed every line on time, and Flava was hyping up the stage with flying kicks and other acrobatics like he was eighteen. Chuck D pointed out during the show that without Flava there would be no “hypeman.” He was the first cat in a rap group to amp-up the crowd not with rhymes, but with pure hyper-active energy.

After the show I went in the Duivel for a quick drink on my way to a afterparty and sitting at the bar talking to this dark-haired cutie was Jeru tha Damaja. I had been drinking tequila shots with beer chasers the whole night with my homie and was SMASHED! (say it with me people and with feeling...Sum-Mash-eD!) so tried to keep the conversation short. He told me the audience was banana’s and Amsterdam was the best stop on the whole P.E. tour. By the time he started telling me about his mixtape dropping next year my drinks were ready and I had to bounce.

Another dope concert was Estelle from the U.K. and it was totally unexpected. My homie Luz said she was a fan so I decided to go with her out of curiosity. I gotta say, Estelle gave a good show. She gave a ninety minute performance running thru her older songs and new hits like “American Boy,” with a live band and back-up singers. The crowd was amped the whole show and afterwards they clapped and hollered for so long, she came back out and did one last song. (no rhyme intended)

The thing about having so many artists come to Amsterdam is you really get to see which artists have true showmanship and which ones come for vacationing. The new trend is for big-named artist to come to Amsterdam and charge 35 to 45 euros a show and only give a forty-five or fifty minute performance. Most of which consists of the drunk and high artist stumbling around on stage forgetting his own lyrics. Flava Flav was saying that as consumers we shouldn’t except artists coming here getting on stage acting whack, performing to a back-up track, and leaving. (I agree)

My man Biggs told me he saw the Fat Joe show a few weeks ago. (no rhyme intended) Here’s the breakdown of he show. First Fat Joe takes off his shoes and starts walking around the stage (why?... no one knows), then he spends ten minutes telling the crowd how great the weed is in Amsterdam. (When you’re paying to see a show you don’t want to hear the performer talking about the city’s tourist attractions, he can do that after. We live in Amsterdam, so we know how good the weed is, plus its available all the time.) Finally he performs for no more than fifty minutes rhyming to his own tracks. Not instrumentals, the actual track that you would hear on the radio. There were allot of angry people who left that show and that’s just one example of the unsavory behavior that artists try and pull here. To be honest, compared to a few I’ve seen and even more I’ve heard about, Fat Joe wasn’t that bad.

On the business side of things, I’ll be featured in the March issue of Underground Railroad Magazine (www.undergroundrailroadmagazine.com) along with my homie Misstrezz. I’ll have a full four to six page interview talking about music and life in Amsterdam, and Strezz was chosen for the “In the Spotlight” section. The magazine is in stores on the west coast and digital so grab a copy and tell a friend to tell a friend. The music is still moving but at a snails pace due to bouts of insomnia and writers block. Normally I would paint through it, but I ran out of canvas a few days ago and haven’t had a chance to buy any. Lately I’ve been to busy making EPK’s (Electronic Press Kits) and other preparations for Midem. Its been a busy month for business and the momentum doesn’t look like its going to stop....so everyone have a Happy New Year and party a little for me.

Until next we speak, Be well

Tha One an Only

Sep/24
2008

Deja Vu…it's like I lived this day before and didn't enjoy it. I'm sitting on my couch, fingers poised on the keys, prepared to divulge a bevy of literary debauchery detailing my actions over the last few weeks, but I remain motionless. There have been a lot of twists and turns in my tale and in an effort to diminish typing time I'll keep it brief.

Since we last spoke I've returned to Amsterdam, recorded several new tracks including "Grinding Muzik" the title off the new album, I talked about in a previous entry. Just like with "Ahhyoo" I put up the rough mix so you get the raw version, you can listen to it on my page. I also finished the track "Who Dat Be," featuring Sean P from the Boot Camp Clik, that is straight FIYA! The new project is moving along nicely, there have been a few stumbles along the way, but overall things are on schedule. The release date for "Grinding Muzik" is March 17th 2009 so mark your calendar.

My passion for videography has grown exponentially since I've returned from Rome. I watch vids on youtube and try new techniques on the daily. My latest project is making a compilation of mini-clips from footage recorded over the last five years. It's called the Vinumous Chronicles and they feature footage from Rome, Berlin, Miami, Cannes, Nice, New York, and other locations, three are currently uploaded to Youtube. I've traveled allot over the years and felt like sharing some of the experiences. If you're curious take a peek and if you like it, tell a friend to tell a friend.

On the personal side, I just celebrated my birthday on September 13th and it was a blast. I started out around 6 'clock meeting some friends for drinks at the Frisco Inn, this tiny watering hole near Central Station. I've talked about this place before. It used to cater to football hooligans serving strong beer, cheap pool and a diverse range of liquors. Nemo, Burgs, Conflict and a few other peeps came thru and we had a good time. After a few games of pool and shots we hit the Absinthe Bar for one glass of Spanish Absinthe. It was the first time drinking absinthe for Burgs and from the look on homies face he found the stuff vile. I had warned him in advance that it was an acquired taste, but for some people experience is the best teacher.

From there we hit the Bitter Zoet (Bitter Sweet in English) a popular nightclub that played an eclectic-mix of hip-hop, reggae and pop music until five am. We partied till closing, meeting various friends and associates along the way. Right before the club closed I got invited to an after party called the StopNiets (Non-Stop) in Amsterdam Noord. I was still lucid, rolling with Burgs and this model type from Spain named Mariluz, so we decided to check out the after party. Let me tell you the StopNiets, was off the chain!

The place isn't a nightclub it's a refurbished navel battleship, converted into three floors of bars, bodies and house music. The party was already in full swing when we got there and after forty minutes or so inside I needed a break. Sitting on the deck looking out at the ocean listening to Burgs and Mariluz make flirtatious small talk, I realized I was wasted. Not to the point of total annihilation but I was done, and ready to hit my couch for some much needed recuperation. A few seconds after I thought it, Burgs said it, and we bounced. Trying to get out of the StopNiets is much, MUCH harder to do than getting in. Picture a battleship then imagine that the inner chambers consist of long catacombs and walkways that are fifty or sixty feet off the ground, with thin railings. Each corner of the square shaped chambers have one downward staircase leading to the chamber below, all the way to the base of the ship. On the middle deck is two DJ's spinning house music through speaker so loud you can feel the bass shake the floor above. Under the pulsation of the strobe light the whole scene looked like a Staircase picture by MC Escher. Compound all this with being inebriated and you have a recipe for disaster.

We were all drunk and in unfamiliar surroundings so it took almost an hour of getting directions from people to wasted for words and roaming up and down floors before we actually made the great escape. Since then I've been to a couple other good parties but only one in as interesting surroundings. Last week I went to this underground party in an abandoned WW2 bunker. All the weapons and equipment was removed and squatters moved in with turn tables and alcohol…the people followed. The place was bananas, to get to the party you have to go in the middle of a park find a statue, then go into the bushes behind the statue, follow a trail that leads to the door of the underground bunker. Believe me it was a serious adventure, which for me didn't end until the next afternoon. But that's a tale for a different day. For now check out the new music and video blogs on youtube. If you like the new stuff post a comment and tell a friend to tell a friend.


Until Then, Be Well

Tha One an Only

Jul/27
2008

Hello blog fiends to keep this authentic I'm completely wasted and typing this is more laborious than I anticipated.

Anyhow I went to check the Rome club scene again tonight because yesterday was a failed experience since all the clubs were closed. Tonight wasn't much better, since most of the places I went to were closed also. Yesterday the 25th I was directed to attend clubs Distillerie Clandestine, Fake and club Goa because on Friday night they all play hip-hop, mixed with House and dance music. GOA is supposed to have some of the hottest DJ's in Europe and all three were closed! I ended up at some Irish Pub where they directed me to go to club Otteca cuz it was supposed to open and also played Hip-Hop, so I walked 3km from where we were to the club only to find it was closed to.

There I was, lost in a sea of Italians who had no Idea were to direct me and halfway back to the Irish pub I found this Reggae festival in the middle of a park that no one had bothered to mention. (From my experience you could ask ten people directions to a place and eight out of ten will give you a different answer.) It was live music and chill reggae vibes all night. The place was in the cuts near Via Lebetta and the highway. I chilled at the reggae festival until 5:30am because the metro started after five and I didn't want to be sitting at the station. The reggae festival was more live than I expected because they had artists from Egypt, Italia, Jamaica, Nigeria, and other parts of Africa performing, all night.

I got smashed off Italian beer, and around four am could barely make out what the host was saying cuz his accent was so thick. He spoke in broken English with a heavy Italian slur, it was kinda funny. All around me people were sparking weed and hashish like it was legal. Weed is Illegal in Rome but it seems like the law has a blind eye to it, cuz it's everywhere. Real weed costs about twenty euros and from what I could see looks like twenty euros buys you a half gram. I didn't see one cop or security the entire evening.

While roaming around the event I ran into some tourist from Naples who came for the Reggae festival. I met this girl named Akiko who was Japanese, raised in Rome, went to school in Berlin (so spoke) German and learned English while at school. She wanted me to attend a pool party for her Italian friend who just dropped a Hip Hop CD today. I was wasted at the time we spoke during the reggae festival so I wrote her number down her number but forgot one of the digits, so I missed the event. Basically the Italian number consists of ten digits but I only wrote nine. In my defense I was incredibly smashed say it with me folks (Sum-MASH-eD) at the time and trying to seem sober to hold a cohesive conversation with a Japanese girl who considers herself Roman, who went to school in Germany to learn English….yeah try saying that all in one sentence. Anyhow, I fucked up the number so ended up roaming tonight through passages unknown, near Piazza La Bologna to kick it.

I found club Random (that's really the name check clubrandom.it) by chance coming from San Lorenzo village. I call San Lorenzo a village because it 6 city blocks of bars and cocktail lounges for the college crowd. In the middle of all the bars is San Lorenzo street and on it you find A mix of hobos and college kids, mixed together like a finely stirred chicken broth. I find the fine amalgamy of innocence and corruption slightly intoxicating. I was asked for Hash and weed so many times I started to think I was a stereotype (exhibit A: the drug dealer). If I had actually brought weed and exstacy with me I would have made a killing. Most of the people sitting in the center of San Lorenzo were seriously wasted. I saw people geeking off everything from weed, hash, ex, acid and powdered heroine. Anyhow the bars of San Lorenzo closed at 2am. It seems that Rome has no liquor law so bars can serve as late as they like but most stop at 3am so the college kids can wake up sober enough in the morning for classes. This is all summer long so don't expect to find better unless you go to a discothèque, like I did.

Anyhow, I didn't have any drugs to peddle and wasn't into taking any so soon I got bored of the beer and pina colata shots and decided to go back to my hotel. I left San Lorenzo and started walking back to Piazza Balogna about 30minutes away. On the way found the random bar, this place played Italian Hip-hop mixed with African music and it was packed with black people of all backgrounds. I'm talking everything from African to almost white the Random club dance floor stays packed the whole night, I left around 4:30am cuz I was buzzed (still am) and I didn't want the cleaning lady doing the pop-up like she did this morning. Around 10am after I only had 3 uurs sleep from returning from the reggae festival the clean-up lady came in the room to clean my room. I have vague recollections of her seeing me butt-naked, dropping the new towels, screaming and slamming the door. I don't want a repeat experience today do I'm going to be out the room before she arrives…or at least sleep under some covers this time.

What can I say the situation is unique, Rome has its own style and if you don't fit into it you stand out. When I was walking back from therandonclub.it around 5:30am I saw people sleeping in their cars with the door open like they had no fear of being mugged. In New York they would have a wino with a dull razor to their neck asking for their wallet and keys. Apparently that's not a problem Rome. The whole experience had a 70's retro feel to it that I can't put in words. Suffice it to say that the American tradition of being skeptical of your neighbor vibe was absent tonight. Most of the crowd was more interested in partying than my nationality. I'm now back at my hotel my eyes feel like I have weights attached to the lids, I keep losing my train of thought and have written the same sentence three times. I gotta get some sleep! I'll spell-check when I wake-up.


Until then, Be well

Tha One an Only

Jul/22
2008

What's Poppin, my cyber-surfing, information hungry, technology addicted, myspace fiends.

Things have done a 180 degree turn since my last post and I gotta say I'm loving life right now. I've recorded three new tracks all of them are dope but it's the track "Grinding Muzik" that's my favorite. It has the same energy as "Its Vinum," but with more descriptive lyrics and a cinematic beat. The studio was fixed a few days after my last post, and I've been recording non-stop since then.

I finished editing the clip for the Misstrezz song "Hot" a week ago and now we're waiting for some post production CG (computer graphic) effects before it's posted online. The clip is a fast paced party anthem that fits the activities of summer. It's a mix of shows from Atlanta, Georgia, Utrecht, and Island Vibe parties at Club Poema. The clip tested my green screen editing skills and took allot of work, so I'm happy it's done. Now I can focus on my project 100 percent and hopefully complete two more video projects before the end of the summer.

I leave for Rome, Italy this Thursday July 24th-28th for a brief visit. It's going to be my first time in Italy and although I want to get some tracks done, I'm looking forward to playing the tourist. I'm going to visit the Vatican City, the Coliseum, and numerous other landmarks. In between playing tourist I'm going to get more footage for my next clip as well as more background footage for the DvD project. I'm basically going to roam throughout Rome and see where it takes me.

When I return to Amsterdam on the 28th I'm immediately back to work in the studio. I have five more songs that need recording and another two that need to be re-written. After my near "insanity" experience my motivation has been through the roof. I went from stressed-out and unfocused to writing and painting every other day. I've always painted and illustrated as a hobby because taking ideas out of my mind and manifesting them into reality helps me relax. I only work in acrylic painting because oil is too difficult and watercolor is too runny. Only recently has my art got to the point where I'm ready to sell my paintings. I know you want to see if my paintings are wack or not so I'll post some of the pieces online to appease your curiousity.

Til then, Be Well

Tha One an Only

Feb/09
2008

I just returned from my trip to Cannes for the 2008 Midem. The trip started out stressful but ended well. The initial stress came from my plane having a twenty minute delay out of Schipol Airport due to engine problems (that's not a confidence builder when you're about to catch a flight) which caused me to miss my connecting flight out of Frankfurt, so I was stuck sitting in Frankfurt airport for 5 hours waiting for the next flight. By the time I reached Nice Airport and caught a shuttle to Cannes, I had been traveling for twelve hours with no rest and little food. The irony is that a direct flight from Schipol to Nice is only two hours on the city-hopper plane. I choose the connection flight to save money and ended up losing something far more valuable ...time. Like the old saying goes, you can gain and lose friendships, love interests and millions in wealth. Time is the only resource that once spent cannot be replenished, so it is truly the most valuable.

Anyhow once I got to my hotel and organized my schedule to fit the Midem, I had a fairly successful trip. On the business side I (think) I solidified two physical distribution deals both with UK companies (Plastic Head Music and Hip Hop Village) and one digital deal with new global powerhouse ZooMoozik. I received allot of business cards and useless information from companies that want us to license their artists and I found it annoying that they didn't read that VR doesn't license unsolicited material. In other words, if we didn't ask for your music... then we probably don't want it!

The festivities were off the chain this year, like with the last two Midem I attended they had a few big name acts. Last year it was Chuck D, George Clinton and a few others. This year it was the Sugar Hill Gang (Hip Hop pioneers) and LL Cool J. Did you just read that right ... yes ya did...LL performed two days ago to a sold out audience at hotel Martinez. It was so packed that the security started cutting people off from leaving with the threat that if you leave you can't return.

Being the suave cat I am, I got a VIP pass and taped the whole show with my DvCam. Its funny how I got the VIP pass, cause I wasn't supposed to have one (they're mostly reserved for industry big wigs) but someone from Universal music saw my performance at the club " Le Balroom" earlier that night and liked it enough to hook me up with one. Goes to show that rocking the mic has its benefits. LL ran through a 30 minute set of mostly female friendly singles. At one point he even asked ten girls from the audience to climb on stage and dance while he performed "Doing It Well." The only time the catz in the audience got amped was when he performed "Rock the Bells," followed by "Mama Said Knock You Out," which is one of my all time favorite LL joints. Overall it was a good show and everybody left with a smile on their face.

If you read my Midem blog from last year you know I did a track with this group called Planet Des Zins a French group from Nice, Sud De Sale. Their front man is a cat named Gak and his producer is called Dope aka "Tha Dealer." Gak released his new album recently "Cést 10$ Khoia," which translates into for 10$ dollars (Khoia is a Muslim word for money) and this show was part of the promotion.

Dope is a well known producer on the French and US hip-Hop scene he used to go by the moniker "Uptempo" and has produced tracks for The Dipset, Lord Tariq, Supa Sayan Crew and various other artists. Since I get the love, plus I'm featured on the album (track number nine) along with other US artists Cory Guns and Punch Line, he offered me to do a small fifteen minute showcase in the middle of his one hour set. I didn't perform for the full fifteen minutes because he also had his homies Mr. Agaz and Kaine Millionaire there but I did ROCK the crowd.

I put it down so well that the director from the Ministry of music in Luxembourg asked when I could come there and perform. Gak recently signed a deal with DJ Whoo-Kid (50 cent DJ) to help start G-Unit France, so homie is doing his thing. You can check myspace/newgakcity to hear some of the album or goto youtube and put in Gak to see Whoo-Kid giving him a shout out from Italy and speaking a little Haitian French.

The weather was pleasant the whole trip and as I've stated in numerous entries the view from Cannes is spectacular. Since I've already gave a vivid description in the two prior Midem entries I wont regurgitate the same flattering dialog. This year like last year the NRJ awards (the French Grammy's) were held the same time as Midem so allot of US and French stars were walking around taking in the sites and shopping. I can't stress enough how this city is really geared towards the wealthy.

If you look in any shop on the Rue de Antibes you won't find clothing, shoes, or accessories under a hundred Euro. The food is also quite costly, since this is a tourist driven area most people visiting in Cannes dine out so the local restaurants and even fast food places like McDonalds, Subway, etcetera kill you with extravagant prices. Ninety-nine percent of the people here are either wealthy retired folk or young Nuevo-Rich. There's no wonder why the hold the film festival and all the big award shows and conferences here.

Since I know a little about the city I go off the tourist trail to the side streets near the wharf for my shopping. The street is called "Rue de Menage" (I spelled that wrong) it has designer apparel for one third the price. I didn't do allot of partying this year accept for Wednesday cuz it was the Midem closing party and I wanted to relax before my departure. I did do allot of video recording and taped me performing "Its Vinum" all over Cannes.

I'm going to use some of this footage for the "Its Vinum" clip that's will be shot when I return to Holland. From what I understand there has never been a US artist to shoot a video in Cannes, so I will be the first. It's been a positive trip but a long one and I look forward to getting some rest.

Until next time, Be Well

Tha One an Only