We can’t pay homage to Old School hip hop without mentioning the role played by Def Jam. Started by Rick Rubin in his NYU dorm (1984), and later joined by Russell Simmons, Def Jam quickly signed names like Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, EPMD and the list goes on. Issues concerning money, corruption, and personal disputes have befallen Def Jam throughout the years, but their early influence on hip hop cannot be ignored.

Below are two vids that bring it back to the early days. Enjoy.

Public Enemy – Don’t believe the hype

EPMD – The big payback

Note: I keep remembering kids in first grade screaming “Mama said knock you out.” Couldn’t leave it out. Ha.

LL Cool J – Mama said knock you out

So I just purchased tickets to the Sigur Ros show (September at United Palace Theater) from Ticketmaster. During my checkout process, I noticed that TIcketmaster slapped on their typical convenience fee which came out to be around $10 each ticket. Fine. Whatever. I’ll deal with their convenience charge since I’ve always wanted to see Sigur Ros in concert, but I do think a $10 fee for $50 tickets is insane.

While looking over the receipt again, I noticed another charge of $3.65 for an “Order Processing Fee.” I immediately began cursing: WTF!!! F*CK YOU, YOU BASTARDS!!! You have an online system, everything is automated, all you do it print my tickets and mail them to me. Is the $10 convenience fee not enough to cover paying someone minimum wage to place my tickets in an envelope and mail them? Why stop there? Might as well charge me for picking up the tickets that I already paid for, oh wait…Ticketmaster already does that. F*CK YOU.

Sorry for the rant. Sad thing is that everyone feels the same way about Ticketmaster, yet we still keep going back. Anyways, enjoy the show if you got tickets.

Expecting Fridays

June 27, 2008

Friday is my favorite day of the week, not because it’s the premature start of the weekend or because less people are in the office. But it’s when translations of the weekly mangas (Japanese comics) are posted to the internet. Most people outside of Japan have no understanding or interest in manga. I really can’t blame them, why would they spend time reading comics when they can watch Tila Tequila search for a man/woman or Jason Taylor dance his little heart out wearing a leotard.

Surprisingly, the popularity of manga (and anime) has been growing at a rapid rate. I would probably contribute this fact to the Pokemon generation but that saddens me. I’d like to think that the cultural mish-mash of America has alleviated the taboos and misconceptions alleviated with manga (and anime). Either way, it’s a great trend, and I’m a full supporter of it.

What many people don’t know, and are beginning to realize, is that  manga (and anime) is not for children in Japan. Granted there are titles that target children, but a majority of manga targets the older age group, i.e. 16-30 year olds. Beneath the black and white drawings are themes that relate to morality, love, loyalty, friendship, etc. If taken to heart, a person can definitely learn from the lessons taught in each chapter and story arc.

Anyways, if you’re interested there are definitely some great series that are ongoing right now. I’ve spent some time reading Naruto, Bleach, Full Metal Alchemist, One Piece, and Eyeshield 21. I would say that either FMA or One Piece is so far my favorite. Feel free to check them out at Onemanga while you still can.

By the way, sorry for the lack of posts this week. Spent all week painting an apartment.

I hope you enjoy this strip. I totally feel the same way at work, i.e. right now.

Once again, Sunday is among us, and it’s time for the weekly spotlight. My counterpart is traveling for the next week, so I’ll be claiming full responsibility for the blog. If it sucks, then “ouch.”

Anyways, back to the topic at hand. I recently noticed that we haven’t given respect to one of the greatest duos: Erik B. and Rakim. If I ever need reminding of what hip hop was/is/should be, I flip on one of their songs. Apologies for not finding a legit music vid of “What’s on your mind;” it’s a great song to listen to on the subway. I think the second vid makes up for it.

Erik B. and Rakim – What’s on your mind

Erik B. and Rakim – Dont’ sweat the technique

Check out this live clip of “Black Mags” from the Cool Kids’ set earlier this month at Knitting Factory. Even includes the segue into “Juicy” by B.I.G., which caused people to lose their shit. Should also give you a pretty good idea of just how packed the show was. Video is courtesy of one of our readers who goes by the handle DopeVideo88. Good looks!

Sega Genesis

June 18, 2008

If I had to pinpoint two things that remind me most of my childhood, I’d have to go with orange Flintstones Push-Pops and the greatest video game console known to man, Sega Genesis. For my money (read: allowance) it didn’t get much better than finishing the night’s homework to earn an hour of gameplay in the quiet comfort of my basement. Surrounded by stacks of cheat books for Mortal Kombat and NBA Jam, I’d go to work, fingers dancing across the sleek three button controller. On the weekends, my friends and I would engage in battle: NBA Jam tournaments, head-to-head races for rings on Sonic the Hedgehog, epic face-offs on Street Fighter and adrenaline-fueled match ups in countless EA Sports games. With Mortal Kombat alone we’d spend hours trying to master the damn near impossible “Fatality” codes. Remember how you used to have to enter the button combinations at warp speed? It’s partially due to that game alone that I can type faster than 30 words-per-minute.

Some might argue that Super Nintendo was the superior 16-bit system. This is simply not the case. What Sega may have lacked in graphics, it more than made up for in gameplay and breadth of game library. Talk about Barkley’s Shut Up and Jam, Earthworm Jim, Eternal Champions, NHL’s 94, 95 and 96 (!!!!), Road Rash, Lion King, Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker (!), Shaq Fu, Primal Rage, Triple Play Baseball…the list goes on. (If I’m forgetting any great ones, don’t hesitate to add on).

In today’s way-too-real realm of video games, Xbox 360’s and Nintendo Wii’s are flying off the shelves. Yet I’ll always prefer the simplicity of Sega to systems where I have to effectively play Twister to touch all of the buttons on the controller or have the dexterity and agility of an Olympic athlete just to be competitive. Plug in that cartridge, hit the “ON” button and let’s go. SEEEEEEEEEGGGGAAAAAAAA.

In a series that oozed ’80s nostalgia, the Celtics ousted the Lakers in six games to win their 17th NBA championship and first since 1986. The Celts consistently proved themselves to be the superior team and took game six by a punishing 39-point margin. All this despite myriad adversity: Paul Pierce’s knee, Rajon Rondo’s ankle, Kendrick Perkins’ shoulder, Ray Allen’s son’s illness, Doc Rivers.

I personally can’t stand Kobe Bryant and the Lakers and therefore rooted whole-heartedly for the Celtics. I was thrilled to see first-class players like Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen get their first rings and happy that Paul Pierce was able to redeem himself after a roller coaster career in Boston (a topic covered in detail in this week’s Sports Illustrated).

While I’m a bigger fan of the college game, I found myself particularly engaged in this year’s playoffs perhaps due to the intrigue of a Celtics-Lakers match up. The level of play was awe-inspiring at times, especially that of Finals MVP Paul Pierce who legitimately willed his team to victory. In Garnett and Allen, Boston also has two players that seem like respectable human beings, a rare find in professional sports these days. It’s frustrating when the marquee athletes in each major sport (Bryant, Bonds, TO) come off as complete assholes. Personalities such as these are hard to stomach and often deter me from enjoying the sport. When Boston was showered in confetti tonight, I could actually say that the good guys won.

It’s been two weeks since I spent $11.75 US to see the latest installment of Indiana Jones, and I think I’m finally ready to talk about it. The fourth film in the series arrived nearly twenty years after “Last Crusade” and with it came a predictable load of hype. Going into the film I had few expectations, if any. All I asked was that the film deliver 90 minutes of mindless entertainment, a modest request.

As my friends and I shuffled into the theater for an evening show, it immediately became clear that we were in for a long night. The theater was crammed with eager Indy fans and our party of four was forced to splinter off separately. Fortunately, I scored one of those lone captain’s chairs in the middle section. My mood was temporarily lifted during the requisite twenty minutes of previews, which included great trailers for The Dark Knight (can’t wait) and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, in which Bradd Pitt ages in reverse. Finally, the lights dimmed and it was time for our feature presentation.

I, like many of my fellow moviegoers I’m sure, was anxious to see what Indy would look like after all these years. Leave it up to Lucas and Spielberg to effectively deflate this anticipation by waiting 15 minutes before showing Harrison Ford’s face. In retrospect, this was probably a good idea. As the camera finally panned to reveal a 66 year-old Indiana, my worst fears were instantly recognized: dude is old. I’m not hating on Ford in anyway, he’s one of the great American movie stars, but it’s difficult to suspend disbelief when a supposed action hero is eligible for the elderly movie ticket discount. At one point, when Indy was leaping across wooden boxes, I feared that he wouldn’t make it. It was then that I realized I should have gone to see Ironman.

As for the film itself, I found myself constantly shifting in my seat and checking my watch. For one thing, Shia LeBeouf, added little character to his role as “Mutt Williams,” and Cate Blanchett’s accent as Soviet “Dr. Spalko” shifted amorphously between Russian and Scottish. I even found myself distracted by wondering how much Sean Connery was paid to have a photo of his character as Indiana’s father shown on screen. As the plot, or lack thereof, continued to evolve, the more discouraged I became. My frustration culminated at about minute 120 when a UFO emerged from beneath a temple in Peru. In all my years watching Indiana Jones I was under the assumption that he was a professor of history and archeology who daringly retrieved priceless artifacts of historical significance from the grips of evil. I never would have imagined aliens would play a role.

As I left the theater contemplating what I had just seen, I began to doubt my own imagination. Had I grown too jaded and cynical to enjoy a fun summer movie? I quickly suppressed these doubts…I love mindless entertainment and outlandish stories as much as the next guy. But when filmmakers insult the intelligence of the theater-going public as I felt Lucas and Spielberg did, I get a bit upset. If you have $11.75 to spare, go sign up for Netlifx and see this movie when it comes out on DVD if you really want to.

Calvin and Hobbes

June 16, 2008

Just trying to keep the streak alive.

Anyways, this strip made me laugh out loud at work…