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The Mid-Week Beat: From Slick Rick to Mobb Deep – The Evolution of Rap

tumblr_mhfcf6wyEm1s3ctpmo1_500This week’s beat catches up with three extremely different, if not equally influential, rap entities.

It starts with two legendary MCs, thirty years in the game, then takes us to one of the more contentious and popular New York groups involved in the legendary “East Coast/West Coast” feud of the 1990’s and concludes with a film that documents the “thug life” that permeated 1990s hip hop culture.

For me, the most fascinating aspect of the evolution of rap is the prevalence of outlandish, unique and creatively brave artists that peppered the early years of the genre, and how the global success of hip hop in recent years seems to have resulted in, for the most part, artistic mediocrity.

Maybe I just don’t get “these kids today.” I am in my 40s after all.

Either way, it doesn’t matter which side of the fence you find yourself on, or if you prefer to occupy both, this is a good weekend for rap fans.

Friday, August 16th

Kool KeithBuffalo, New York

The amazing Kool Keith got his start in legendary New York hip-hop group Ultramagnetic MCs in the late 80s. He recorded three albums with the group before venturing out on his own and he quickly established himself as one of the most gifted free stylers in the game, and also the most unusual. In fact, a popular rumor circulated that he was institutionalized for mental problems.

In 1995 he transformed himself into the insanely genius Dr. Octagon and released his first solo single “Earth People.” His solo releases were highly acclaimed by critics and he would go on to record 15 solo records, the most recent being 2013’s Magnetic Pimp Force Field.

In 2000, he also collaborated with Ice-T, Marc Live, Black Silver and Pimp Rex to form the extraordinary Analog Brothers.

I was lucky enough to be able to see two of Dr. Octagon’s performances in person back in the day. One was the greatest hip hop show I ever attended, the other was absolute confusion and mayhem. One thing is certain, they broke the mold when they made this guy.

Carrying the torch into the 21st century as one of the most uniquely brave and outlandishly smart lyricists in hip hop, this kind of talent is rarer and rarer these days. He’s not so much into shouting about how much money he has as much as he is into weaving tales of intergalactic weirdness and “romantic” exploits.

Kool Keith performs this Friday, August 16 at Dukes Bohemian in Buffalo, New York. Click the link above to get tickets before they’re gone and witness this mad genius in person!

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Mid-Week Beat: Happy Birthday Macklemore!

macklemore-366287So, most of you probably know that us Seattlites are pretty proud of our hometown, hip-hop hero Macklemore and his recent success. Well, today, we have another reason to celebrate Mr. Ben Haggerty (Macklemore’s real name), it’s his 30th birthday today! I have a feeling that the 30s are going to be pretty kind to Macklemore. He’s certainly accomplished a lot for such a young man.

We’re proud of Macklemore’s DIY roots and love to see artists take their careers into their own hands as opposed to letting them be dictated by industry “experts” who are only interested in the bottom line. So, in honor of Macklemore and DIY hip hop everywhere, we decided to feature three independent hip-hop artists that are using Brown Paper Tickets for some of their upcoming shows and tours.

One, Oakland’s Del tha Funky Homosapien, is a bonafide legend in the independent hip-hop scene but let’s hope the other two can achieve the level of success Macklemore has, while still staying true to their DIY roots. Either way, it’s great to have hip-hop artists like these out there, challenging the mainstream and pushing the musical boundaries of the genre.
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Happy 52nd Birthday to the Discothèque

The discothèque has become such a major part of our nights out that we tend to think that they’ve always been around. But there was a day, long ago, when people would go out to dance to actual bands! When folks in the 40s would go to a club and listen to music, they weren’t listening to records, there was a group of living, breathing musicians in the corner cranking out their favorite hits. While many musicians will argue the fact that spinning records is as much of an art form as playing an instrument, the fact remains, people love dancing to records spun by a top-notch DJ.

DJ Heinrich and his rig.

Today marks the 52nd birthday of the discothèque. Like many origin stories, the discothèque came into existence largely by accident. On October 19, 1959, The Scotch-Club, a restaurant in Aachen, Germany re-opened as a dancehall. The owner didn’t want to hire a band so he used a record player instead. On the opening night, the audience was quickly becoming bored with the record player format so, Klaus Quirini, a newspaper reporter covering the event, took over the record player and spiced things up by announcing the songs, throwing in his own witty comments and encouraging the audience to participate in games. The night was a hit and word began to spread outside of town about Klaus and his unique record-spinning technique, making Klaus, unwittingly, the world’s first DJ. The Scotch-Club therefore became the world’s first discothèque and DJ Heinrich, as Klaus then became known, inspired others to follow suit. He even encouraged DJs to organize a workers’ union, turning disc jockeying into an official profession.
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