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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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Music >

Spit Take Saturday: Eddie Pepitone

Poster-art-for-The-Bitter-Buddha_event_main-317x470Welcome to Spit Take Saturday, courtesy of Brown Paper Tickets’ Comedy Doer Julie Seabaugh and her professional comedy criticism site The Spit Take. Julie’s goal with the site is to “elevate the public perception of stand-up comedy to that of a legitimate art form, and to enable comedy criticism be taken as seriously as that of theater, film, music, food, even video games. No a**-kissing. No bias. No mercy. Just honest, unfiltered, long-form reviews written by professional, knowledgeable comedy critics.” 

Every week Julie will select an entry from the site to be included on our blog and hand-pick some related events happening that week that she feels all you comedy lovers out there will appreciate.

So, without further ado, let us introduce you to this week’s Spit Take Saturday!


There’s an implication throughout “The Bitter Buddha” that comedian Eddie Pepitone, the subject of this documentary, is, well, bitter. Bitter that after a stand-up career that spans decades, he hasn’t achieved mainstream appeal or sold a TV show Seinfeld-style. That even though he’s beloved by modern comedy deities like Patton Oswalt and Sarah Silverman, it’s somehow not enough. Director Steven Feinartz begins his film with the assumption that in the five stages of grief – lamenting the loss of theoretical lucrativeness – Pepitone is stuck on “anger.”

Yet despite this narrative thread, “The Bitter Buddha” paints Pepitone as having completed these five stages. Lack of popularity is no longer an albatross around his neck. In fact, Pepitone has the uncanny ability to see the albatross around everyone’s neck, and talk them into taking it off. Pepitone is on “acceptance,” and laughing about it.
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Comedy >