Monday, April 30, 2007

The Doobie U Be

Funkdoobiest was like Cypress Hill lite. They both had latin lead rappers, talked about getting high and shared the production talents of DJ Muggs. But while Cypress was known for their rhymes of violence and revenge, Funkdoobiest seemed to focus on the lighter side of things. Which made them cool to hang out with, as we found out in the Phono Booth in 1995.

Tomahawk Funk left the group after their second album. Funkdoobiest is still around and released a single last year.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

It's a Jungle out there

Opening for the rapper-of-the-moment at a hollowed-out former restaurant, The Jungle Brothers weren't at the height of their career when they appeared on Wavelength. After three albums, the pioneering rap group seemed to have its best days behind them. The days when they created an urban music hybrid, hip-house. The days when they made black medallions as popular as gold chains. The days when they made being yourself cool.

Those were the days.

It was January of 1997 when we met them. The Jungle Brothers were promoting their new album "Raw Deluxe," on Gee Street Records. The album would be poorly received and I still haven't gotten around to listening to it. Years later, the brothers have carved out niche in dance music scene and seems to be doing well with their record sales in the european market.

There's still some rumble in the jungle, however, as Afrika has recorded a track dissing some of the more prominent members of the defunct Native Tongue movement. Mike G can be heard on the Nas "Where Are They Now?" remix.

CRAIG: Yo, what's up, my name is Craig and I'm here with – the Jungle, the Jungle, the Brothers, the Brothers.

JBS: Yo, yo. What's up?

CRAIG: Let's get everybody's name real quick.

MIKE G: Mike G in the House

CRAIG: Dready Bear.

AFRIKA: Afrika, right here, What' goin on? People in Vee Ayy whatchadoin'?

CRAIG: Who's that layin' in the cut right there?

AFRIKA: Ah .. That's Sweet Daddy.

SAMMY B: Sweet Daddy, Sammy B from the Boogie Down, Jungle Brothers.

CRAIG: It's been a while since you guys have been on tour or had a record out. Whatchu you guys been doin'?

AFRIKA: Right now, we got a single out called "How You Want It, I Got It." We were just travelin' to Vee Ayy area, talkin' to people through the radio, goin' to record stores, signin' autographs ... Lettin' the people that's been showin' us love all these years meet us in person and givin' 'em back that love.

CRAIG: You talk about years. How many years has it been?

AFRIKA: It's been ten years, man.

CRAIG: Ten years. And now you're on your fourth album on your third record label ...


CRAIG: Explain to me what happened with the record labels.

AFRIKA: Actually, our first record was one the same label that this fourth one is on. So it's really been like ....

CRAIG: So you've come full circle?

AFRIKA: Full circle, yeah.

CRAIG: Mike, what is a Jungle Brothers show like? What do you do on-stage?

MIKE G: We just give the basics of hip hop. We got Sweet Daddy rockin' the one and two's, the turntables. Afrika and myself, we are the MCs, masters of the ceremony, keep the party amped and everbody swayin' and feelin' the good vibe. Runnin' through the hits ... JBs Comin' Through, Straight out the Jungle, I'll House You, I got it like that, I'm a Do Ya.

CRAIG: How have you changed over the years? A lot of rappers stay out for too long and try to catch up too quick and it doesn't work. So what have you guys done.

MIKE G: The mental is still the same. We just upgraded the production. The brothers be family men, now. We just keepin' it live.

CRAIG: Yeah. So what's up with the Native Tongue, I hear it's back in effect.

AFRIKA: Yeah, we try to bring the people's that Native Tongue flavor. We remixed the first single and put De La and Tribe on it, so we could get that Native Tongue flavor back out there let people know we still together as a unit.

CRAIG: So Afrika, on the new album, y'all gonna talk about Versace, watches, gold chains and mafioso stuff, huh?

AFRIKA: Nah. The mentality's still the same like on the first album. Positive messages. The brothers is comin' back more mature this album. It's more like groove oriented. Buy ya tape, put it in your car and have a nice little free ride with the Jungle Brothers, you know what I'm sayin'? Laid back beats, nice lyrics.

CRAIG: Who did the production?

AFRIKA: Jungle Brothers did production. Mike, Sam, Afrika, we all chipped in and put beats together. Another brother by the name of Gingy Brown did two songs. He's comin' up. He did some stuff for Supanatural, for all the underground heads out there that know him. D.J. Roc Raider he did the first single.

CRAIG: You said you did a cut with The Roots also?

AFRIKA: Yeah, we just put the icin' on the cake with The Roots. They blessed us.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Son of Bazerk's Half Pint Speaks

Known as Half Pint, she was 1/5 of the underrated rap group Son of Bazerk. Her high-pitched interjections brought urgency to the Bomb Squad produced tracks, similar to what her former babysitter, Flavor Flav did for Public Enemy.

Years later, she now answers to Ms. Jackson, as a teacher at Roosevelt High School in Long Island. Half-Pint shares memories from her colorful past as a member of a cutting-edge hip hop group.

How was the concept for Son of Bazerk brought to you?
The core of the group was already formed and a lot of the material done. It was Hank from the bomb squad who approached me one day when I was in the park playing basketball with my friends We were beating the guys as usual) He heard me talking loud (cracking jokes and so forth) and asked me if I wanted to be in a group I was like yeah whatever brushing him off cause I thought he was crazy. Then he told me who he was and what he did, still brushing him off when I looked it up from my music collection of PE and I just laughed. He contacted me the next day met my grandparents and told them his intentions and the rest is history.

Characterize your role in the group.
I was the Lynn Collins of the group to Bazerk's was James Brown .I thought our shows were the bomb as we all played off each other. Being on stage is the greatest high you can get. When we went overseas to Germany and France, we headlined our one show that was crazy we would do the entire album and then some. In Holland, we were apart of a weekend extravaganza, it was off the hook. The only thing I regret is not having any of our shows on tape. I also wish i had kept some other memorabilia.
On tour all the groups would stay and watch each other perform and then hang out afterwards. I remember sitting with Ice T off to the side watching Naughty By Nature (who was definitely hot) perform and he was explaining to me the excitement he got from watching the crowd get hype during each groups performance and how to read a crowd to give them want they want and make a show hot.

What was your first concert as a member of SOB like?
My first concert with SOB I believe we did the Apollo with PE, Rakim, we split time with Young Black Teenagers. It was crazy I never knew how a stage could impact a performance I loved it!! It was a little raw because it was like 7 of us 3 mikes. We all was supposed to dance but the guys really did get in to it so I danced with two dancers we had. One of them used to dance for LL cool J. The next time we performed I was ready and we had a nice routine set up. Overseas, we headlined several venues and it was hot to def I wish I had some footage from that.

What did you learn from touring with SOB and other hip hop groups?
Being on tour was fun. I got homesick because other than being at college an hour and a half away, I never really been away from home for an extended period of time. We had to rough it, with 17 in a van and no air conditioning in the summertime. Winnebagos [filled] with equipment, 11 people and no idea where we were going but it was fun. The tour with PE was the best I learned so much from them and the other groups (Fear of a Black Planet Tour) I think? It was us Leaders of the new school, Queen Latifah, M.C. Lyte Naughty by Nature, Kid N'Play, Fresh Prince, Geto Boys and Ice T.
It was nothin' but love on tour from day one they all treated me like a little sister and gave me much respect as I have much love and respect for them That was a pivotal moment in life.
When we came home that tour we began work on the 2nd album It was supposed to be titled "So many Tricks ..." We actually completed several songs including what was supposed to be my solo single "No Fair Ones."

Do your students know about your rap past?
I teach a history of hip hop class and yes, I tell the students about the small contribution to hip hop my group has made. They always wanna battle but the teacher remains the master even if the content has changed.

More to come ...

I've been Tagged

I'm usually not the one for internet and email games. But since a supporter of this blog asked me to participate, I'm playing this one. So, I think I'm supposed to post 7 songs I'm digging right now ask 7 other bloggers to do the same.

Here are my songs. Fellow bloggers, don't worry about getting called out in this post. The tag stops here.

Classic/Kanye West, Rakim, Nas and KRS-One.
Watch How It Go Down/Termanology
You Can't Turn Me Away/Slyvia Striplin
No More Dating DJs/Nick Holder
Gabrielle/re:Jazz feat. Alice Russell
Morning Child/4 Hero
Tears Dry On Their Own/Amy Winehouse

Now I can get back to prepping a very special post for later this week.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Sayin' Nothin'

Getting a national recording artist to appear on a local TV show usually took days of negotiation with record label, road managers and video promoters. Despite our honest attempts to do things the right way, sometimes we got left holding the mic. This is about some of those times.

The following artists never appeared on Wavelength. The majority of these rappers or their representatives neglected to fulfill prearranged agreements, for various reasons. At the D.B. Center, I have learned the relevance of forgiveness in a successful rehabilitation. So as soon as these people or their former representatives ask for it, they'll get it.

We never played with a Yo-Yo
Her road manager explained that the president of I.B.W. had laryngitis after putting on a lackluster show at Ivory's Uptown Lounge. I would have believed him is she hadn't been chatting it up with her girlfriend in the background. What up with that, Yo?

Ya Bad, Chubbs
The Chubbster put us off. After setting things up with his road manager, the rotound rapper kept me at bay with, "In a minute, G. In a minute," for about half an hour, as he chatted with a police officer. The vice-president of his record label apologized and sent a box of t-shirts. I'm still a fan ... of his music.

Apache really ain't sht
While I may not remember more than the title of his one hit, I'll never forget what went down with Apache. Mr. "Gangsta Bitch" hollered "No!" and left us standing on the curb as his van sped off. Other people may have forgotten Apache, but we won't.

Who missed the shoot? Grand Puba
Puba Maxwell was reportedly several hours late to shoot photographs for the cover of his album, so why should he show up for an interview or a concert on time? But this time, Puba wasn't late enough. As his van pulled in front of the nightclub where he was scheduled to perform several hours prior, gunfire erupted. Nobody got shot and nobody performed.

What What?
I cut out of my girlfriend's graduation party to go interview one half of the rap group CNN, Noreaga. His people never called back. Someone thoughtful at Tommy Boy apologized and sent me a jacket with their upside down dancer logo. It never fit quite right, but I still have it.