Interview with Hiphop Journalist Adam Bernard - Monday, May 29, 2006
Renaissance man. It’s a phrase that isn’t used very often in 2006, but how else could one possibly describe Conscious, a man who’s an MC, producer, painter, poet, actor, Jask clothing model and internet entrepreneur? Very few people can say they’ve performed poetry for those incarcerated in our prison system and rocked shows with the likes of Hank Shocklee and Immortal Technique. Conscious, however, is that man, which is why I caught up with him this week to feature him as my Artist Of The Week.
Adam Bernard: You have been dubbed Hip-Hop's renaissance man. What does this mean to you and how do you go about living up to such a title?
Conscious: I think it's a responsibility to show and prove through my movements, but it’s one I am capable of. I basically analyze what my abilities are and try to exercise them thoroughly through the arts. I enjoy finding new ways to entertain, educate and empower individuals through all that I do.
Adam Bernard: What do you feel you gain by coming from so many angles?
Conscious: I can reach a much larger mass of people through being able to navigate various circles. Each circle will have its own communities with folks that don't cross over much into the adjacent ones, so by being in more of those communities I can not only reach additional folks but at times get portions of them to look into things that they didn't previously involve themselves with. Another reason is I do a lot because it opens up multiple streams of income. I have better sense than to sit around and think I'm going to be a millionaire over the summer by selling CD's hand to hand. I'm a multifaceted person, why not do what I'm capable of? One of the largest reasons why I do so many things to begin with is to show people that they can, too. It's unfortunate that some folks’ progress can be stifled by individuals that convince them that they shouldn't try to do more then one thing. Life is meant to be lived, enjoyed and experienced to its fullest extent. I'm not about to allow naysayers that have nothing to do with their own lives suggest anything to me about what I should do with mine.
Adam Bernard: Let’s talk music for a minute. You live in New York, a city that's flooded with MC’s and producers, how are you making sure you stand out from the crowd?
Conscious: I think for one I stand out for the fact that I truly am different, when it comes to my music I really don't sound like anyone else. I also have taken my business and research seriously where I'm doing things with a calculated, purposeful, approach. I've spent a fair amount of time assessing what tools this technological age has given us to market and network with and at the same time I realize my organic approach with people is just as important. I think my balance of those two elements gives me a great advantage. Sociability is also important. I also find that after getting to know people they tell me that they're not used to people that follow through with things, or people that call or email them up randomly just to see what's going on. I pride myself in not approaching people with an attitude of what can you do for me. I try to embrace people and offer whatever service I have available. The reciprocation factor is out there and these actions balance themselves out.
Adam Bernard: You have launched a number of websites. Why is it important to you to have such a presence on the web, and what can artists gain from having such a presence?
Adam Bernard: Quite simply maximizing, and offering different looks at interesting things that people may enjoy. From a business perspective it’s also testing the water to see what actually works. Similarly with pushing the envelope with art and entertainment, you want to offer quality and hopefully offer a lot of it. The bigger the presence the better the odds are of increasing your visibility.
Adam Bernard: Finally, what do you feel is the "next level" for you?
Conscious: I’m completing a few projects I have on the low and taking businesses that I have started from the 'self employed' stage to the 'business owned' stage. There's a vast difference. Also, creating situations that will enable me to employ folks. Aside from the business aspect of what I'm involved with I want to try my hand at theatre and a little stand up, two things that I'm actually nervous about. I know that I'm capable, but I think the responsibilities are much larger then with the other performance methods I've been involved with. I think doing stand up is even more scary then doing a stage play. At least with a play you’re sharing the stage and interacting with others, which takes some of the edge off. Sounds like I have a lotta nerve but I'm gutless huh?
Websites: iareconscious.com, FreeHipHopNow.com & Conscious Bootleggers
Blogs: ConsciousMe, Relax Star Vibe School & Growing Money Trees
Ringtones: Zingy.com & DecentX
MySpace Pages: myspace.com/conscious
1989 interview with De La Soul. Behind the scenes view of the group and their producer Prince Paul. Bonus footage of their album release party.
~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine,
All Music Guide
Sly Stone Biography
James Brown may have invented funk, but Sly Stone perfected it; his alchemical fusion of soul, rock, gospel, and psychedelia rejected stylistic boundaries as much as his explosive backing band the Family Stone ignored racial and gender restrictions, creating a series of euphoric yet politically charged records that proved a massive influence on artists of all musical and cultural backgrounds. Sylvester "Sly Stone" Stewart was born March 15, 1943, in Denton, TX, and raised primarily in Vallejo, CA, where he sang with his family's gospel group. After singing lead with a doo-wop group called the Viscaynes, at 16 he recorded the local hit "Long Time Gone," concurrently spinning records for Bay Area radio station KSOL. After studying trumpet, composition, and theory at Vallejo Junior College, in 1964 Stewart signed to local label Autumn Records, where he cut a series of solo singles in addition to serving as a house producer; there he helmed Bobby Freeman's national chart smash "C'mon and Swim" as well as sessions by the Beau Brummels, the Mojo Men, and the Great Society.
- Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide
Chuck D of Public Enemy was in Houston for a lecture at the University. We were lucky enough to catch up with him afterwards for a quick interview on Charles Snider Show.
late nite tv talk show airs in Houston on Channel 17 firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. www.myspace.com/chucksnider
September 23, 1926 - July 17, 1967
John William Coltrane was born on September 23, 1926 in Hamlet, North Carolina. At the age of three his family moved to High Point, NC, where young Coltrane spent his early years. His father, John Robert Coltrane, died in 1939, leaving twelve year-old John and his mother on their own. His mother, Alice Blair Coltrane, moved to New Jersey to work as a domestic while John completed high school. John played first the clarinet, then alto saxophone in his high school band. His first musical influence was the tenor saxophonist Lester Young of Count Basie's band. In June of 1943, after graduation, Coltrane moved to Philadelphia to be closer to his mother.
Blue Note Biography
Oxford University Press
This creative interpretation of John Coltrane's Giant Steps by new media artist Michal Levy is too cool each time I view it.
About the Project: Giant Steps
Graduation Project, Visual Communication Department, "The academy of Arts and Design,Bezalel".
When I listen to music I see colors and shapes and when I watch visual art I hear sounds.I wanted to express my sensing of shapes colors and music in this short movie.
I have chosen a short Jazz piece, which I have known for many years of my playing the saxophone: "Giant Steps" by John Coltraine. Coltrane made a major break through with his album "Giant Steps" in the year 1959. It was the first time in the history of Jazz music that someone based his music on symmetrical patterns, which stemmed from a mathematical division of the musical scale.
The structural approach of John Coltraineto music is associated with architectural thinking. The musical theme defines a space and the musical improvisation is like someone drifting in that imaginary space.
"Architecture is crystallized music". Goethe.
Duration of film: 2:15 minutes
Miles Davis is more than a jazz musician: he is a cultural icon, known even to people who can't tell bebop from fusion. That may seem strange considering that Davis made a career of defying the expectations of critics and audience alike, but it is just one more paradox associated with this mercurial artist.
Miles was born in Alton, Illinois on May 26, 1926. He grew up in East St. Louis in a middle class family, playing in his high school band as well as with several local R&B groups. He quickly became enamored of jazz, particularly the new sounds being created by Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. Davis' father sent him to Juliard to study music, but Miles didn't spend much time there, dropping out to play with Parker's quintet from 1946 to 1948. That proved to be a humbling experience at first, since Miles didn't yethave the chops to keep up with Parker's breakneck tempos and chord substitutions. He learned quickly, though, and grew immensely as a musician during his tenure with Bird.
Next, Miles hooked up with a group of musicians who were doing something completely different. This group included J.J. Johnson, Lee Konitz, Gerry Mulligan, John Lewis, and Max Roach. While all were excellent bop players, they were developing a style that was less volatile and more relaxed, which suited Davis' temperement. The arrangements crafted by Lewis, Mulligan, John Carisi, and Gil Evans added more uniqueness to the nine-piece group's sound. Davis became the group's ad-hoc leader, and the classic Birth of the Cool was the result.
The early 50s were an erratic time for Davis, mostly due to his heroin addiction, and he was a disappointing performer during this time. By the middle of the decade, however, he had cleaned up and formed his first quintet, comprised of Davis, John Coltrane, Red Garland, Paul Chambers, and Philly Joe Jones. This group became very popular and recorded several essential albums for the Prestige label: Cookin', Steamin', Workin', and Relaxin'. When the quintet broke up, Davis spent time collaborating again with arranger Gil Evans, resulting in great albums like Porgy and Bess and Sketches of Spain. He finished the decade out by recording one of the best known jazz albums of all time, Kind of Blue, with a sextet that included Coltrane, Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers, and Philly Joe Jones.
In the 1960s Davis put together a second quintet, this time utilizing Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams, and Ron Carter. The music of this group was more complex, moving through post-bop modal experimentation and eventually into some of the group improvisation and open forms of free jazz. Some of Davis' fans were mystified by the group's music, but it was uniformly applauded by critics, other musicians, and avid music fans eager for new sounds. The group's output has recently been collected in the 6-disc set The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings, 1965-'68.
As the 1970s beckoned, Miles realized that rock had replaced jazz as the music of choice for the younger generation. In order not to get left behind, he began to perform with an electronic band: electric guitar, electric bass, banks of electronic keyboards, and even an amplified trumpet. The sound was bubbling, dark, and dense, and it further alienated some jazz fans and many critics as well. There was no denying the power of the music Davis was producing, however: upon its release in 1970, Bitches Brew sold 400,000 copies, making it the best-selling jazz album of all time. The group included Chick Corea, Hancock, John McLaughlin, and others who went on to become mainstays of the jazz fusion movement.
Davis continued to perform and record throughout the 1970s and 1980s, continuing to perform with primarily electronic groups, often playing organ instead of his trumpet, and playing with his back to the audience. Some of the minimalist experiements he performed at the close of the 70s foreshadowed the ambient and electronic music that would become common in the 80s and 90s. Miles died on September 28, 1991, but his music, style, and collaborators all continue to influence not only jazz music, but popular culture as well.
In his brief four-year reign as a superstar, Jimi Hendrix expanded the vocabulary of the electric rock guitar more than anyone before or since. Hendrix was a master at coaxing all manner of unforeseen sonics from his instrument, often with innovative amplification experiments that produced astral-quality feedback and roaring distortion. His frequent hurricane blasts of noise and dazzling showmanship -- he could and would play behind his back and with his teeth and set his guitar on fire -- has sometimes obscured his considerable gifts as a songwriter, singer, and master of a gamut of blues, R&B, and rock styles.
When Hendrix became an international superstar in 1967, it seemed as if he'd dropped out of a Martian spaceship, but in fact he'd served his apprenticeship the long, mundane way in numerous R&B acts on the chitlin circuit. During the early and mid-'60s, he worked with such R&B/soul greats as Little Richard, the Isley Brothers, and King Curtis as a backup guitarist. Occasionally he recorded as a session man (the Isley Brothers' 1964 single "Testify" is the only one of these early tracks that offers even a glimpse of his future genius). But the stars didn't appreciate his show-stealing showmanship, and Hendrix was straight-jacketed by sideman roles that didn't allow him to develop as a soloist. The logical step was for Hendrix to go out on his own, which he did in New York in the mid-'60s, playing with various musicians in local clubs, and joining white blues-rock singer John Hammond, Jr.'s band for a while.
It was in a New York club that Hendrix was spotted by Animals bassist Chas Chandler. The first lineup of the Animals was about to split, and Chandler, looking to move into management, convinced Hendrix to move to London and record as a solo act in England. There a group was built around Jimi, also featuring Mitch Mitchell on drums and Noel Redding on bass, that was dubbed the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The trio became stars with astonishing speed in the U.K., where "Hey Joe," "Purple Haze," and "The Wind Cries Mary" all made the Top Ten in the first half of 1967. These tracks were also featured on their debut album, Are You Experienced?, a psychedelic meisterwerk that became a huge hit in the U.S. after Hendrix created a sensation at the Monterey Pop Festival in June of 1967.
Are You Experienced? was an astonishing debut, particularly from a young R&B veteran who had rarely sung, and apparently never written his own material, before the Experience formed. What caught most people's attention at first was his virtuosic guitar playing, which employed an arsenal of devices, including wah-wah pedals, buzzing feedback solos, crunching distorted riffs, and lightning, liquid runs up and down the scales. But Hendrix was also a first-rate songwriter, melding cosmic imagery with some surprisingly pop-savvy hooks and tender sentiments. He was also an excellent blues interpreter and passionate, engaging singer (although his gruff, throaty vocal pipes were not nearly as great assets as his instrumental skills). Are You Experienced? was psychedelia at its most eclectic, synthesizing mod pop, soul, R&B, Dylan, and the electric guitar innovations of British pioneers like Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend, and Eric Clapton.
Amazingly, Hendrix would only record three fully conceived studio albums in his lifetime. Axis: Bold as Love and the double-LP Electric Ladyland were more diffuse and experimental than Are You Experienced? On Electric Ladyland in particular, Hendrix pioneered the use of the studio itself as a recording instrument, manipulating electronics and devising overdub techniques (with the help of engineer Eddie Kramer in particular) to plot uncharted sonic territory. Not that these albums were perfect, as impressive as they were; the instrumental breaks could meander, and Hendrix's songwriting was occasionally half-baked, never matching the consistency of Are You Experienced? (although he exercised greater creative control over the later albums).
The final two years of Hendrix's life were turbulent ones musically, financially, and personally. He was embroiled in enough complicated management and record company disputes (some dating from ill-advised contracts he'd signed before the Experience formed) to keep the lawyers busy for years. He disbanded the Experience in 1969, forming the Band of Gypsies with drummer Buddy Miles and bassist Billy Cox to pursue funkier directions. He closed Woodstock with a sprawling, shaky set, redeemed by his famous machine-gun interpretation of "The Star Spangled Banner." The rhythm section of Mitchell and Redding were underrated keys to Jimi's best work, and the Band of Gypsies ultimately couldn't measure up to the same standard, although Hendrix did record an erratic live album with them. In early 1970, the Experience re-formed again -- and disbanded again shortly afterward. At the same time, Hendrix felt torn in many directions by various fellow musicians, record-company expectations, and management pressures, all of whom had their own ideas of what Hendrix should be doing. Coming up on two years after Electric Ladyland, a new studio album had yet to appear, although Hendrix was recording constantly during the period.
While outside parties did contribute to bogging down Hendrix's studio work, it also seems likely that Jimi himself was partly responsible for the stalemate, unable to form a permanent lineup of musicians, unable to decide what musical direction to pursue, unable to bring himself to complete another album despite jamming endlessly. A few months into 1970, Mitchell -- Hendrix's most valuable musical collaborator -- came back into the fold, replacing Miles in the drum chair, although Cox stayed in place. It was this trio that toured the world during Hendrix's final months.
It's extremely difficult to separate the facts of Hendrix's life from rumors and speculation. Everyone who knew him well, or claimed to know him well, has different versions of his state of mind in 1970. Critics have variously mused that he was going to go into jazz, that he was going to get deeper into the blues, that he was going to continue doing what he was doing, or that he was too confused to know what he was doing at all. The same confusion holds true for his death: contradictory versions of his final days have been given by his closest acquaintances of the time. He'd been working intermittently on a new album, tentatively titled First Ray of the New Rising Sun, when he died in London on September 18, 1970, from drug-related complications.
Hendrix recorded a massive amount of unreleased studio material during his lifetime. Much of this (as well as entire live concerts) was issued posthumously; several of the live concerts were excellent, but the studio tapes have been the focus of enormous controversy for over 20 years. These initially came out in haphazard drabs and drubs (the first, The Cry of Love, was easily the most outstanding of the lot). In the mid-'70s, producer Alan Douglas took control of these projects, posthumously overdubbing many of Hendrix's tapes with additional parts by studio musicians. In the eyes of many Hendrix fans, this was sacrilege, destroying the integrity of the work of a musician known to exercise meticulous care over the final production of his studio recordings. Even as late as 1995, Douglas was having ex-Knack drummer Bruce Gary record new parts for the typically misbegotten compilation Voodoo Soup. After a lengthy legal dispute, the rights to Hendrix's estate, including all of his recordings, returned to Al Hendrix, the guitarist's father, in July of 1995.
With the help of Jimi's step-sister Janie, Al set up Experience Hendrix to begin to get Jimi's legacy in order. They began by hiring John McDermott and Jimi's original engineer, Eddie Kramer to oversee the remastering process. They were able to find all the original master tapes, which had never been used for previous CD releases, and in April of 1997, Hendrix's first three albums were reissued with drastically improved sound. Accompanying those reissues was a posthumous compilation album (based on Jimi's handwritten track listings) called First Rays of the New Rising Sun, made up of tracks from the Cry of Love, Rainbow Bridge and War Heroes.
Later in 1997, another compilation called South Saturn Delta showed up, collecting more tracks from posthumous LPs like Crash Landing, War Heroes, and Rainbow Bridge (without the terrible '70s overdubs), along with a handful of never-before-heard material that Chas Chandler had withheld from Alan Douglas for all those years.
More archival material followed; Radio One was basically expanded to the two-disc BBC Sessions (released in 1998), and 1999 saw the release of the full show from Woodstock as well as additional concert recordings from the Band of Gypsies shows entitled Live at the Fillmore East. 2000 saw the release of the Jimi Hendrix Experience four-disc box set, which compiled remaining tracks from In the West, Crash Landing and Rainbow Bridge along with more rarities and alternates from the Chandler cache.
The family also launched Dagger Records, essentially an authorized bootleg label to supply harcore Hendrix fans with material that would be of limited commercial appeal. Dagger Records has released several live concerts (of shows in Oakland, Ottawa and Clark University in Massachusetts) and a collection of studio jams and demos called Morning Symphony Ideas. ~ Richie Unterberger & Sean Westergaard, All Music Guide
Written by Richie Unterberger
Looks like this is going to start off the Bjorkfest...! This blog loves Bjork! So get used to it !
This sequence was deleted from the original version of the film 'The Secret'.
In 2001, Gil appeared on a "Charlie Rose meets Bill O'Reilly" style BBC TV interview show called HARDtalk. Fascinating stuff as Gil gets asked point blank about his drug issues. Fascinating also in how brilliant a man Gil is no matter his state of mind, body, and voice.
Gil Scott-Heron stands as a towering figure of black popular music. With a masters in creative writing from Johns Hopkins, the writer, poet, composer, pianist, and modern-day griot is a true artist in an industry lacking true artistry.
Scott-Heron emerged in the early 1970s with albums such as What’s Going On and There’s A Riot Goin’ On. By 1970, there was a profound shift in the struggle for equality as the fight for civil rights gave way to the demand for Black Power. The Civil Rights Movement had lost its focus, being ripped apart by differing interest groups and ignored by a wartime US government. The voices of its leaders were silenced by jail or bullets.
Black popular music reflected this change. The voices on the radio stopped preaching brotherhood and togetherness and started reporting the facts, and the music got more aggressive. Leading the new attack was a new voice: articulate, uncompromising, and enraged. The voice held the light up to the country’s missteps and shook up an apathetic audience. The voice was Gil Scott-Heron’s. Scott-Heron was born in Chicago in 1949. He grew up in Lincoln, Tennessee and later the Chelsea neighborhood of the Bronx.
As a student, he admired the poetry of Langston Hughes and followed his footsteps by enrolling in Lincoln University. By age 20, he completed the novel The Vulture and the book of poetry, Small Talk At 125th & Lenox. The Vulture was an auspicious beginning, heralded by Essence as "a strong start for a writer with important things to say." In the 1970’s, Scott-Heron hooked up with Flying Dutchman records to produce several important albums including Pieces of Man and Free Will.
During the 1980s, for Arista label, Scott-Heron released twelve albums. Then, after a twelve-year break, he signed with TVT Records and released Spirits in 1993. The first cut of this album, "Message To The Messenger," is a warning to today’s rappers, urging them to take responsibility in their art and in their communities. Since then, he has played to sell-out crowds all over the world, performing at major festivals in England and the United States, including New York’s Central Park.
If this doesn't at least make you smirk, check yah pulse. Beatboxing Santas. From the minds of Beatboxer Entertainment members, Kidlucky & Shockwave. this is what viral video is made for!
The Big Bad Voodoo Daddy cover of Mr. Heatmiser from the Rankin and Bass classic "The Year Without A Santa Claus" set to the ripped video.