Sessions: Conscious ft. God's Chocolate

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:, & Conscious Bootleggers

Blogs: ConsciousMe, Relax Star Vibe School & Growing Money Trees

Ringtones: & DecentX

MySpace Pages:


De La Soul - De La Speaks

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.

At the time of its 1989 release, De La Soul's debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising, was hailed as the future of hip-hop. With its colorful, neo-psychedelic collage of samples and styles, plus the Long Island trio's low-key, clever rhymes and goofy humor, the album sounded like nothing else in hip-hop. Where most of their contemporaries drew directly from old-school rap, funk, or Public Enemy's dense sonic barrage, De La Soul were gentler and more eclectic, taking in not only funk and soul, but also pop, jazz, reggae, and psychedelia. Though their style initially earned both critical raves and strong sales, De La Soul found it hard to sustain their commercial momentum in the '90s as their alternative rap was sidetracked by the popularity of considerably harder-edged gangsta rap.
De La Soul formed while the trio -- Posdnuos (born Kelvin Mercer, August 17, 1969), Trugoy the Dove (born David Jude Jolicoeur, September 21, 1968), and Pasemaster Mase (born Vincent Mason, March 27, 1970) -- were attending high school in the late '80s. The stage names of all of the members derived from in-jokes: Posdnuos was an inversion of Mercer's DJ name, Sound-Sop; Trugoy was an inversion of Jolicoeur's favorite food, yogurt. De La Soul's demo tape, "Plug Tunin'," came to the attention of Prince Paul, the leader and producer of the New York rap outfit Stetsasonic. Prince Paul played the tape to several colleagues and helped the trio land a contract with Tommy Boy Records.
Prince Paul produced De La Soul's debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising, which was released in the spring of 1989. Several critics and observers labeled the group as a neo-hippie band because the record praised peace and love as well as proclaiming the dawning of "the D.A.I.S.Y. age" (Da Inner Sound, Y'all). Though the trio was uncomfortable with the hippie label, there was no denying that the humor and eclecticism presented an alternative to the hardcore rap that dominated hip-hop. De La Soul quickly were perceived as the leaders of a contingent of New York-based alternative rappers which also included A Tribe Called Quest, Queen Latifah, the Jungle Brothers, and Monie Love; all of these artists dubbed themselves the Native Tongues posse.
For a while, it looked as if De La Soul and the Native Tongues posse would eclipse hardcore hip-hop in terms of popularity. "Me, Myself and I" became a Top 40 pop hit in the U.S. (number one R&B), while the album reached number 24 (number one R&B) and went gold. At the end of the year, 3 Feet High and Rising topped many best-of-the-year lists, including The Village Voice's. With all of the acclaim came some unwanted attention, most notably in the form of a lawsuit by the Turtles. De La Soul had sampled the Turtles' "You Showed Me" and layered it with a French lesson on a track on 3 Feet High called "Transmitting Live From Mars," without getting the permission of the '60s pop group. The Turtles won the case, and the decision not only had substantial impact on De La Soul, but on rap in general. Following the suit, all samples had to be legally cleared before an album could be released. Not only did this have the end result of rap reverting back to instrumentation, thereby altering how the artists worked, it also meant that several albums in the pipeline had to be delayed in order for samples to clear. One of those was De La Soul's second album, De La Soul Is Dead.
When De La Soul Is Dead was finally released in the spring of 1991, it received decidedly mixed reviews, and its darker, more introspective tone didn't attract as big an audience as its lighter predecessor. The album peaked at number 26 pop on the U.S. charts, number 24 R&B, and spawned only one minor hit, the number 22 R&B single "Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)." De La Soul worked hard on their third album, finally releasing the record in late 1993. The result, entitled Buhloone Mindstate, was harder and funkier than either of its predecessors, yet it didn't succumb to gangsta rap. Though it received strong reviews, the album quickly fell off the charts after peaking at number 40, and only "Breakadawn" broke the R&B Top 40. The same fate greeted the trio's fourth album, Stakes Is High. Released in the summer of 1996, the record was well reviewed, yet it didn't find a large audience and quickly disappeared from the charts.
Four years later, De La Soul initiated what promised to be a three-album series with the release of Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump; though reviews were mixed, it was greeted warmly by record buyers, debuting in the Top Ten. The second title in the series, AOI: Bionix, even featured a video hit with "Baby Phat," but Tommy Boy and the trio decided to end their relationship soon after. De La Soul subsequently signed their AOI label to Sanctuary Urban (run by Beyoncé's father, Mathew Knowles) and released The Grind Date in October 2004. Two years later the group issued Impossible Mission: TV Series, Pt. 1, a collection of new and some previously unreleased material.

~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine,
All Music Guide


The Doors - Interview 1969

Sly Stone Interview

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.
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In 1966, Stewart formed the group Sly the Stoners, while his younger brother Freddie led his own band, Freddie the Stone Souls; soon the siblings merged the two acts, and with bassist Larry Graham, trumpeter Cynthia Robinson, saxophonist Jerry Martini, and drummer Greg Errico, Sly the Family Stone were born. After issuing their debut single, "I Ain't Got Nobody," on the local Loadstone imprint, the group signed to Epic to release their 1967 debut LP, A Whole New Thing; Dance to the Music followed in 1968, and generated a Top Ten hit with the title cut. Later that year, Sly the Family Stone topped both the pop and RB charts with the two-sided smash "Everyday People" b/w "Sing a Simple Song"; and with the classic Stand!, the band's music became increasingly politicized on standouts like the hit title track and "Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey." As the group's chief vocalist, songwriter, and producer, Stone pushed the envelope further with each successive release; and with the 1970 chart-topper "Thank You Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin," he essentially created the sonic blueprint for the funk and disco that dominated the decade to follow via a percussive groove propelled by Graham's pop-and-slap bassline.
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However, as the utopian ideals of the 1960s gave way to the paranoia and corruption of the 1970s, the celebratory sound that once epitomized Sly the Family Stone gave way to the bleakly unsettling There's a Riot Goin' On, a dark, militant masterpiece that yielded the hits "Family Affair" and "Running Away." Stone's grim world-view was due in no small part to his increasing narcotics problem, and he became notorious for arriving late to live gigs or missing shows altogether. Released in 1973, Fresh was Sly the Family Stone's last truly great album, and after issuing Small Talk the band unraveled, with 1975's High on You credited to Stone alone. As his drug problems and legal battles became public knowledge, efforts like 1976's Heard Ya Missed Me, Well I'm Back and 1979's Back on the Right Track attracted little interest, as did a subsequent tour with George Clinton the P-Funk All-Stars and a 1983 comeback effort, Ain't But the One Way. After a 1987 single, "Eek-a-Bo-Static," failed to even chart, Stone instead made headlines for a cocaine bust that led to his incarceration. Despite Sly the Family Stone being inducted into the Rock Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, Stone failed to make a substantial comeback in the '90s.
- Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide

Chuck D on YouTube Late Nite

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 for more information.
As the founder of Public Enemy, Chuck D. is one of the most colossal figures in the history of hip-hop, not to mention its most respected intellectual. He redefined hip-hop as music with a message, and his strident radicalism ushered in an era when rap was closely scrutinized for its content; although rap's primary concerns have changed over the years, its status as America's most controversial art form has only gotten stronger since Public Enemy hit the scene. Chuck D. was born Carlton Douglas Ridenhour in Roosevelt, Long Island, on August 1, 1960. His parents were both political activists, and he was a highly intelligent student, turning down an architecture scholarship to study graphic design at Long Island's Adelphi University. While in school, he put his talents to use making promotional flyers for hip-hop events, and went on to co-host a hip-hop mix show on the campus radio station with two future Public Enemy cohorts, Bill Stephney and Hank Shocklee. Under the name Chuckie D, he rapped on Shocklee's demo recording, "Public Enemy No. 1," which caught the interest of Rick Rubin at Def Jam. In response, the now simply named Chuck D. assembled Public Enemy, a group designed to support the force of his rhetoric with noisy, nearly avant-garde soundscapes.
Public Enemy debuted in 1987 with Yo! Bum Rush the Show, a dry run for one of the greatest three-album spans in hip-hop history. Released in 1988, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back was acclaimed by many critics as the greatest hip-hop album of all time, and was instrumental in breaking rap music to white, alternative rock audiences. Fear of a Black Planet (1990) and its follow-up, Apocalypse '91...The Enemy Strikes Black, consolidated Public Enemy's position as the most important rap group of its time. There were storms of controversy along the way, most notably Chuck D.'s endorsement of the polarizing Muslim minister Louis Farrakhan, and group member Professor Griff's highly publicized anti-Semitic slurs. But on the whole, Public Enemy's groundbreaking body of work established Chuck D. as one of the most intelligent, articulate spokesmen for the black community. He became an in-demand speaker on the college lecture circuit (much like his peer KRS-One), and was frequently invited to provide commentary on TV news programs.
Muse Sick-N-Hour Mess Age (1994) found the group's status slipping, and the following year Chuck put PE on hiatus while planning its next move. In the meantime, he released his first solo album, The Autobiography of Mistachuck, in 1996, and published the book version of his autobiography the following year. He reconvened Public Enemy for the soundtrack to Spike Lee's 1998 film, He Got Game, and the following year left Def Jam over the label's refusal to allow him to distribute Public Enemy music via free Internet downloads. Signing with the web-based Atomic Pop label, Chuck became an outspoken advocate of MP3 technology, and made 1999's There's a Poison Goin' On... the first full-length album by a major artist to be made available over the Internet (it was later released on CD as well). He continued his lecturing into the new millennium and made regular appearances on the Fox News Channel as a commentator. Even if Public Enemy never recaptures the popularity or vitality of its glory years, Chuck D.'s legacy is secure enough to keep him a respected voice on the American cultural landscape. Steve Huey, All Music Guide

John Coltrane Live Playing 'Naima': 1965

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Coltrane: Biographies
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.
After a yearlong stint in the Navy (1945-46), Coltrane began playing gigs in and around Philadelphia. During this time he became involved in drug and alcohol use, vices that would follow him throughout his career and ultimately lead to his death. In late 1949 Coltrane was invited to play alto sax with Dizzy Gillespie's band; the first recording session was on November 21 of that year. When the big band broke up in May of 1950 Coltrane moved to the tenor saxophone and played with Gillespie's small band until May of the next year. Coltrane played with Earl Bostic's group in 1952, switching to the band of his early idol Johnny Hodges in 1953. Problems with drug and alcohol abuse, however, forced Coltrane out of the group in 1954.
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Miles Davis called upon Coltrane in the summer of 1955 to join a group he was forming. The Miles Davis quintet's first recording was made in October of 1955, the same month in which Coltrane was married to Naima Grubbs. The quintet was comprised of Davis on trumpet, Coltrane on tenor sax, Red Garland on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Philly Joe Jones on the drums. It was in his years with this quintet that Coltrane's abilities were truly recognized and appreciated. In April 1957, though, Coltrane was again forced to take a break from playing to deal with his substance abuse problems; Davis replaced him with Sonny Rollins. He played briefly with Thelonious Monk in late 1957 before rejoining the Miles Davis quintet in January 1958. Coltrane played with this group until April 1960, when he set out to form his own group.
The John Coltrane quartet first formed in April of 1960 with Coltrane playing tenor saxophone, McCoy Tyler on piano, Elvin Jones on drums, and Jimmy Harrison on bass. It was during the first years of this group that Coltrane graduated from an above-average tenor saxophonist to an elite bandleader, composer, and improvisor. "My Favorite Things", the epic album featuring "Every Time We Say Goodbye", "Summertime", "But Not For Me", and the title track, was recorded in 1960. This was undoubtedly Coltrane's most successful and popular album, and granted him the commercial success that had eluded him thus far in his career. Perhaps due to this success, Coltrane's approach to his music began to shift during 1961-62, moving towards a more experimental, improvisational style. This "free-jazz" alienated many of the fans Coltrane had collected after "My Favorite Things", but at the same time expanded the horizons and definition of jazz. Among the more popular recordings of the quartet in the following years were "Africa Brass" (1961), "Ballads" (1962), "A Love Supreme" (1964), and "Meditations" (1965), as well as concerts recorded at The Village Vanguard (NYC) in 1961 and at Birdland, also in New York, in 1963. Coltrane's continuing desire to break new boundaries with his music, though, led to the end of the group in January 1966.
During the mid-1960's the turmoil in Coltrane's professional life was mirrored by disruptions in his personal life. In the summer of 1963 he moved out of the house he shared with his wife, Naima, and moved in with Alice McLeod. Coltrane had met Alice, a pianist, in 1960, and they had been friends since then. A son, John Coltrane Jr., was born to Coltrane and Alice on August 8, 1964; this was followed on August 6, 1965 by a second son, Ravi. A year later Coltrane divorced Naima and married Alice. A final son, Oran, was born to Coltrane and Alice on March 19, 1967. On July 17, 1967, John Coltrane died due to complications arising from his years of alcohol and drug abuse.
Other Biographies
Blue Note Biography
Oxford University Press

Giant Steps : In Flash Animation Form

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


Rahzel Beatboxing Short Documentary

Miles Davis Interview, 1982

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.

Jimi Hendrix... Interesting Exchanges...

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

Bjork: All Is Full Of Love

Looks like this is going to start off the Bjorkfest...! This blog loves Bjork! So get used to it !

The Deleted Intro: The Secret

This sequence was deleted from the original version of the film 'The Secret'.

Gil Scott-Heron Interview

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.

Beatbox Battling Santas!

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!


Mr. Heatmiser Music Video

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.

Snow Miser Song Year Without A Santa Claus

Heat Miser Song Year Without A Santa Claus

How the Grinch Stole Christmas - 1966

Little Man

The Blue Planet - Deep Sea

Part 1

Part 2


And we begin a new journey.