WBEZ | hip-hop http://www.wbez.org/tags/hip-hop-0 Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago hip-hop stars team up to teach kids how to write music http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-hip-hop-stars-team-teach-kids-how-write-music-108202 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/RHYMEFEST-KANYE_130726_JC (1).jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Kanye West and Rhymefest are collaborating on a free music writing program to assist at-risk youth on Chicago&rsquo;s South Side.</p><p dir="ltr">The &ldquo;Got Bars?&rdquo; program will teach young people how to write and record their own music over the course of 10 weeks. It&rsquo;s a collaboration between West&rsquo;s non-profit, Donda&rsquo;s House &mdash; named in honor of his late mother &mdash; and St. Sabina Church.</p><p dir="ltr">Donda&rsquo;s House Executive Director Donnie Smith said music writing helps the students, who will be between 15 to 24 years old, develop problem-solving skills.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Art instruction and particularly music instruction leads people to become better problem solvers, more flexible,&rdquo; Smith said. &ldquo;There are just so many outcomes that come from the study of music and particularly music writing.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">She said the program&rsquo;s targeting at-risk youth between 15 and 24 because there aren&rsquo;t enough activities for them.</p><p dir="ltr">Rhymefest, who&rsquo;s co-founder and assistant director of Donda&rsquo;s House, will help kids write and record music in a studio. The program also includes lessons about exercise, nutrition and life skills.</p><p dir="ltr">Donda&rsquo;s House will release an EP that includes the participants&rsquo; songs.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Lee Jian Chung is a WBEZ arts and culture intern. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/jclee89" target="_blank">@jclee89</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 26 Jul 2013 09:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-hip-hop-stars-team-teach-kids-how-write-music-108202 Wrestling with the moral dilemma of Chief Keef's art http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-12/wrestling-moral-dilemma-chief-keefs-art-104407 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chief%20keef%202.jpg" style="height: 620px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p>If, in the wake of the horrific happenings at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday, a soulless, amoral and blatantly sensationalist musician released an album glorifying the deranged mindset, unspeakably selfish and evil worldview and embrace of indiscriminate violence that led to the mass killing of 26 innocents, the condemnation of that dubious art would be instant and universal, regardless of whatever imagined merits it might have beyond its abhorrent subject matter.</p><p>On Tuesday, a 17-year-old South Side rapper born Keith Cozart but better known as Chief Keef will release <em>Finally Rich</em>, his major-label debut for the morally vacuous Interscope Records. The album is a bleak, nihilistic celebration of street violence, gang culture, drug use, disrespect for women and the worship of the almighty dollar above all humanistic conscience, arriving as Chicago nears the end of a year that&rsquo;s seen an epidemic of violent killings in African-American neighborhoods every bit as tragic&mdash;and preventable, if the political will was present&mdash;as those in Newtown, Conn.</p><p>This is not to equate the words of Chief Keef with the actions of the Newtown assassin. Yet neither can the lyrical messages of the Englewood rapper be dismissed as mere fantasy or &ldquo;street reportage.&rdquo; He clearly is on the same path of confusing the gangsta pose with violent gangster realities that infamously led to the deaths of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls before him, and which had become a pathetic, played-out cliché in hip-hop even at that time, a decade and a half ago.</p><p>A police investigation into <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/marcus-gilmer/2012-09/chief-keefs-taunting-tweet-has-him-hot-water-102220">Cozart&rsquo;s possible connections to the shooting death of fellow rapper and Englewood resident Joseph &ldquo;Lil JoJo&rdquo; Coleman</a> is ongoing. And today, Cozart will appear in Cook County Juvenile Court, where a judge will decide whether he will return to jail for violating the terms of his probation for a conviction on the unlawful use of a weapon&mdash;he pointed a gun at police&mdash;by appearing at a gun range for an interview with the Pitchfork webzine last June.</p><p>Like many media outlets, the formerly Chicago-based Pitchfork is nearly as complicit in the rise of Chief Keef as Jimmy Iovine&rsquo;s Interscope Records or the long roster of rap stars and others who&rsquo;ve endorsed the young rapper because of his &ldquo;authenticity.&rdquo; (The album features guest appearances from 50 Cent, Wiz Khalifa, Rick Ross and Young Jeezy, fellow Chicagoan Kanye West has remixed Cozart in the past and the track &ldquo;Love Sosa&rdquo; features in the videogame <em>Grand Theft Auto 5</em>.) The hipster Web site has been ordered by the court to turn over the unedited tapes of that gun-range interview, which it posted but quickly removed after Coleman&rsquo;s shooting, and it&rsquo;s fighting that demand by <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/archives/2012/12/05/chief-keefs-probation-the-ultra-lounge-shooting-and-more-music-news">citing its protections under the First Amendment and the Illinois Reporter&rsquo;s Privilege Act</a>.</p><p>On Friday, Pitchfork posted <a href="http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/17477-finally-rich/">a review of <em>Finally Rich</em></a> as laudable art, giving the album a brag-worthy rating of 7.5 on its vaunted 10-point scale. The logic of critic Jayson Greene is hard to follow: The album &ldquo;proves that Keef has a lot of potential&mdash;much more than his detractors might have hoped,&rdquo; he writes. Yet his descriptions of the artist&rsquo;s musical merits hardly are glowing&mdash;&ldquo;Keef mutters through a thick wall of processing,&rdquo; he notes of the rapping&mdash;and he&rsquo;s even less enthusiastic about the message. &ldquo;Chief Keef isn&rsquo;t a lyricist. At all. His lyrics on <em>Finally Rich</em> are almost entirely composed of rudimentary gangsta-rap boilerplate, which he treats more like a graffiti bomber than a rapper, tagging his beats with slogans meant for maximum impact and minimal scrutiny.&rdquo;</p><p>This critic&rsquo;s take: Chief Keef is a thick-tongued, mush-mouthed rapper with little grace and stilted flow who stumbles through generic, unimaginative, frequently plodding and numbingly repetitive backing tracks bragging with little imagination and forced conviction about his bad-ass self and utter disregard for anyone else in the universe. The cynicism is bottomless; in his view, one either exploits his own community or is one of the exploited. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m laughing to the bank/Ha, ha, ha/I&rsquo;m laughing at the slave&rsquo;s life/Ha, ha, ha,&rdquo; he raps. His attempts to shock with exaggerated tales of senseless violence were old decades ago, as noted earlier, already transparent by the time N.W.A lost Ice Cube and its political edge and gave us nothing but empty gangsta porn on <em>Niggaz4Life </em>in 1991. Forced to rate it on this blog&rsquo;s own scale, it ranks at exactly zero stars.</p><p>Of course, saying that carries the risk of being dismissed as clueless and chronically out of touch&mdash;a &ldquo;rockist&rdquo; (code for &ldquo;racist&rdquo;) who doesn&rsquo;t understand hip-hop culture unless it&rsquo;s of the positive (code for &ldquo;boring,&rdquo; &ldquo;feel-good&rdquo; and &ldquo;phony&rdquo;) variety that, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/battle-soul-chicago-hip-hop-102642">as noted here before</a>, previously characterized much of the rap music that brought the national spotlight to Chicago in the past, courtesy of artists such as Kanye, Common, Rhymefest, Lupe Fiasco and Kid Sister.</p><p>To be clear, as a First Amendment absolutist, I believe Keef unquestionably has the right to say anything and everything he chooses to say. Stifling that speech to any degree is despicable, whether it&rsquo;s the court going after Pitchfork&rsquo;s tapes, or police apparently <a href="http://www.redeyechicago.com/entertainment/music/redeye--keef-manager-comments-unfair-20121213,0,623106.story">selectively targeting the street teams</a> who&rsquo;ve plastered the South Side with promotional posters trumpeting the release of <em>Finally Rich</em>.</p><p>Yet, given that, critics need more urgently than ever to consider not only the strictly musical merits of a controversial artist&rsquo;s work, but the moral ramifications of the worldview it champions or espouses. To do anything less indicates the real failure to understand and respect hip-hop, which remains an art form where the words absolutely matter&hellip; and arguably now more than ever, as the Chicago body count piles up.</p><p>If, in the wake of the horrific happenings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, an artist glorified that violence, condemnation would be universal. And so it should be for <em>Finally Rich</em>.</p></p> Mon, 17 Dec 2012 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-12/wrestling-moral-dilemma-chief-keefs-art-104407 Rising rap star King Louie performs and talks about his upcoming album, his early days as a rapper and more http://www.wbez.org/blogs/mark-bazer/2012-04/rising-rap-star-king-louie-performs-and-talks-about-his-upcoming-album-his <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/kinglouie2.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>King Louie, one of Chicago's fastest-rising rappers, talks about his upcoming CD, <em>Dope &amp; Shrimp</em>, as well as about, well, dope and shrimp. Louie also talks about his beginnings as a rapper, his work ethic and more. Plus, he performs his viral hit "Too Cool." If you don't know Louie's music now, you soon will.&nbsp;</p><p>(Some adult language, so use headphones at work.)</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/kdXM94OPnSo" frameborder="0" height="315" width="560"></iframe></p><p>(The next <em>Interview Show</em> is May 3, 2012, at Union Hall in Brooklyn. Guests included writer Chuck Klosterman and <em>Delocated</em> star Jon Glaser. More info <a href="http://www.markbazer.com">here</a>.)</p></p> Mon, 23 Apr 2012 09:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/mark-bazer/2012-04/rising-rap-star-king-louie-performs-and-talks-about-his-upcoming-album-his Das Racist on the four elements of hip-hop, white wine and how they'd like to be described http://www.wbez.org/blog/mark-bazer/2011-07-15/das-racist-four-elements-hip-hop-white-wine-and-how-theyd-be-described-89 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-July/2011-07-15/dasracist_flickr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>With Pitchfork this weekend, a lot of the attention has been been on shock rappers&nbsp;<a href="http://www.oddfuture.com/en/">Odd Future</a> performing, but <a href="http://dasracist.net/">Das Racist</a> is the fest's rap group that would be on my must-see list (they perform tonight at 6:30 p.m.) if I didn't have to spend the evening saying, "No, you can't have/do that" to my 6-year-old son.</p><p>The threesome, which first gained attention with the song "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell" and has since released two mix-tapes (that is, free albums), are smart and funny and also physically strong and very good-looking. If I could use one word to describe Das Racist, it'd be rippling.</p><p>The group, which has its first CD, <em>Relax</em>, coming out sometime soon, performed and talked on <em>The Interview Show</em> when we recently did the show at <a href="http://www.unionhallny.com/home.php">Union Hall</a> in Brooklyn. Here for the first time is the video of their appearance.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/jVsgDnKMWmA" width="560"></iframe></p><h3 style="color: red;">IN OTHER NEWS . . .&nbsp;</h3><p>I'll be reading/performing at <a href="http://thepapermacheteshow.com/">The Paper Machete</a> tomorrow (Saturday). It's at 3 p.m. at The Horseshoe (4115 N Lincoln Ave.). It is FREE.</p></p> Fri, 15 Jul 2011 13:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/mark-bazer/2011-07-15/das-racist-four-elements-hip-hop-white-wine-and-how-theyd-be-described-89 Rubberoom Strikes Back: The reunion of Chicago’s hip-hop powerhouse http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-05-17/rubberoom-strikes-back-reunion-chicago%E2%80%99s-hip-hop-powerhouse-86646 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-May/2011-05-17/Rubberoom.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Before there was Kanye, before there was Lupe, before there was Common, there was Rubberoom.<br> <br> The guys from the Chicago hip-hop crew caused more than a tiny rumble back in the 1990s. Big beats, bold rhymes and an influx of rock and roll riffs were the group’s signature. They were on a serious upward path, but just as they were about to take off, they imploded.<br> <br> Four of Rubberoom’s original members have reunited, and will put on a show on Sunday at the <a href="http://www.abbeypub.com/last-rites-presents-rubberoom" target="_blank">Abbey Pub</a> in Chicago. And it’s not all old songs, they’ve got some new material waiting to come out as well.<br> <br> Aaron Smith (The Isle of Weight), Kevin Johnson (Mr. Echoes), Brian Hines (<a href="http://www.myspace.com/morph2meta" target="_blank">Meta-Mo</a>) and Jon Bostic (<a href="http://www.myspace.com/lumbablackwood" target="_blank">Lumba</a>) joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>, and spoke about the group's formation, break-up and eventual reunion.<br> <br> Rubberoom will also perform at the <a href="http://www.soundsetfestival.com/2011/03/official-2011-soundset-lineup-announced/" target="_blank">Soundset Hip-Hop festival</a> in Minnesota on May 29.</p><p>Check out Aaron and Kevin's other project, <a href="http://www.theopusonline.com/" target="_blank">The Opus</a>.</p></p> Tue, 17 May 2011 14:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-05-17/rubberoom-strikes-back-reunion-chicago%E2%80%99s-hip-hop-powerhouse-86646 Tag-team production crew The Opus performs http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-02-18/tag-team-production-crew-opus-performs-82519 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//The Opus.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>For nearly two decades, music producers Kevin Johnson and Aaron Smith have been joined at the hip-hop intersection of beats and samples. They started out in<a href="http://www.superbro.com/RubberRoom.htm" target="_blank"> Rubberoom</a>- one of the best-known crews of the 1990s. But just as Rubberoom was breaking big, financial realities and personal adversities derailed the band. Fortunately Johnson and Smith were already developing their production team, <a href="http://www.theopusonline.com/" target="_blank">The Opus</a>. As producers, they go by Mr. Echoes and the Isle of Weight, respectively.<br> <br> Friday night they perform at <a href="http://www.doubledoor.com/" target="_blank">Dre Day</a>, a hip-hop showcase at the Double Door in Wicker Park honoring the work of hip-hop legend Dr. Dre.</p><p>The Opus performed all hour for <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> and sat down with host Alison Cuddy to talk about their journey as part of the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/DJ"><em>DJ&nbsp;Series: A Spinning Season</em></a>. Their latest album, <a href="http://theopus.bandcamp.com/album/praying-mantis-plus" target="_blank"><em>Praying Mantis-Plus</em></a>, is out now.<br> <br> <strong>Complete list of music during The Opus segment:</strong><br> Music Button played before segment: The Opus, “Save Me (Void Pedal Remix)”, <em>The Save Me Remix Project</em><br> <br> <strong>First song performed live:</strong><br> The Opus, “Constellation Nine”, originally appears on <em>Praying Mantis-Plus</em><br> <br> <strong>Music played during interview:</strong><br> Rubberoom, “Born”, <em>Architechnology</em><br> Public Enemy, “Brothers Gonna Work It Out”, <em>Fear of a Black Planet</em><br> The Opus, “Serpent’s Fruit”, <em>Praying Mantis-Plus</em><br> The Opus, “Praying Mantis”, <em>Praying Mantis-Plus</em><br> Rubberoom, “Architechnology 9”, <em>Architechnology</em><br> <br> <strong>Second song performed live:</strong><br> The Opus, “Eons”, originally appears on <em>Praying Mantis-Plus</em></p></p> Fri, 18 Feb 2011 16:06:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-02-18/tag-team-production-crew-opus-performs-82519 DJ AMPM lives on music day and night http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/dj-ampm-lives-music-day-and-night <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//Picture 048.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In the a.m., DJ AMPM-aka Alycia Ryan-works at <a href="http://www.gramaphonerecords.com/" target="_blank">Gramaphone Records</a> as their hip-hop buyer. In the p.m., she spins everything from southern hip-hop to R&amp;B and old-school soul music. Friday on &quot;Eight Forty-Eight&quot; she gave a sampling of her sound throughout the hour. At the end of the program, <a href="http://www.mixcloud.com/djampm/" target="_blank">DJ AMPM</a> down with host Alison Cuddy to talk about what gets her turntables spinning.</p><p>DJ AMPM spins a couple of weekly residencies: Thursday nights she&rsquo;s at <a href="http://www.facebook.com/people/Barra-N-Elston/1739660584" target="_blank">ñ&nbsp;</a> in Chicago&rsquo;s Avondale neighborhood and Fridays she spins southern hip-hop and more at <a href="http://www.zentranightclub.com/" target="_blank">Zentra</a> on Chicago&rsquo;s near North Side.</p><p><strong>DJ AMPM Mini-Set:</strong><br />Sugar Hill Gang, &quot;Apache (Jump&nbsp; On It)&quot;<br />Bobby Byrd, &quot;I Know You Got Soul&quot;<br />Willie Hutch &quot;Brother's Gonna Work it Out&quot;<br />Showbiz and A.G., &quot;Party Groove&quot;<br />J. Cole, &quot;Who Dat&quot; (instrumental)<br />Slim, &quot;So Fly&quot; (instrumental)<br />Big Pun, &quot;You Came Up&quot; (instrumental)</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 21 Jan 2011 16:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/dj-ampm-lives-music-day-and-night