Monday, November 28, 2005

Interview with Graffiti Legend: BURN1

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We're back on the grind again after a Thanksgiving day break from the vlog. This time I'm bringing you one of the Legends of NYC Graffiti Writers:BURN1. During this interview BURN gives his story as to how he became a Graf Writer, the origins of his name as well as touching on his days as an UpRocker. This interview was shot during the "Old School Day" event at 5 Pointz Graffiti Museum here in NYC. This is an excerpt from a much longer section to be a part of SKILLZ DVD Magazine, a project that I have been very passionate about since we began it.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Interview with Graffiti Legend: FARGO

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This interview was shot at "5 POINTZ: An Institution of Higher Burning" (Graffiti Museum in NYC). The event going off was "Old Timers' Day" and the legends were out in full force. My project SKILLZ DVD Magazine was there in full effect talking with all the Old School Graf Writers. This short clip captures a moment with Graffiti Legend: FARGO. He began his career in 1973 writing on the trains and still writes today. Sit back and enjoy a trip back in time with FARGO.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

"Hood Hoppin' with J Gutta" on Fulton Mall: Brooklyn, NY

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This video takes you to the legendary "Fulton Mall" with Hip Hop Artist: J Gutta of "From the Ground Up" Productions. "Hood Hoppin' with J Gutta" is a regular section of forthcoming SKILLZ DVD Magazine. Each issue J Gutta takes us to various hoods in search of the best rappers on the street. This time we catch up with "Braille Records" CEO Verbal Kent and his artist Jax 1 on the streets of Brooklyn. Both guys have some serious skillz and spit a few rhymes for the camera. Definitely a couple of guys and a label to be on the look out for.

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Saturday, November 19, 2005

A Visit to Shine's Barbershop in the South Bronx

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It was a hot night in the South Bronx when I took to the streets with J Gutta, Hip-Hop Artist from "From the Ground Up" Records, looking at spots for his music video shoot. We bounced over to a friend of his, Shine's, barbershop. This clip takes you into the legendary, "This Is It" barbershop and J Gutta gives you some insight into the neighborhood, kids and gangs and more.

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

A Visit to "Tributary Records" Recording Studio in the South Bronx

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This was an impromptu visit to the "Tributary Records" Recording Studio in the South Bronx. We were out on the streets one night shooting for the forthcoming SKILLZ DVD Magazine when we decided to drop in on Mohammad, the engineer at Tributary Records. Mohammad had Hip Hop Artist: Fugitive, in the studio that night and they both give us their perspective on Hip Hop today and today's labels. Fugitive spits a rhyme as well of the head at the end. Thanks goes out to "From the Ground Up" Records and their Hip Hop Artist: J Gutta for making this night a possibility.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

"Annual Melrose Projects Family Day" in the South Bronx

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This day was a truly high energy, slammin' fun time to be had by all in attendance at the "Annual Melrose Projects Family Day". There were DJs spinnin' on the wheels of steel, kids in the park dancing, parents outdoors cooking and sharing in this glorious energy. This moment takes you back to what living in New York City and especially the South Bronx was like back in the day. It was filled with family, joy and good times all poppin' off to a deep rooted soundtrack of Soul and Old School Hip-Hop. This video helps to capture and preserve some of what was this year's "Melrose Projects Family Day". A big thanks goes out to "From the Ground Up" Productions and Hip Hop Artist: J Gutta for helping to make this possible.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Interview with Graffiti Legend: BLADE

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Today's video takes you to a place when trains were filled with art and certain writers were viewed as "KINGS". One of these "KINGS" was BLADE and I was lucky enough to talk with him for a few minutes during the painting of one of his pieces this summer at 5 Pointz: An Institution for Higher Burning during a shoot for the forthcoming SKILLZ DVD Magazine. To give you an idea about who BLADE was in the scheme of NYC Graffiti Writers, here's a short excerpt describing the man himself.

"BLADE: King, master, visionary. BLADE is more than a graffiti artist. A remarkably pivotal figure in the history of graffiti. Blade's successes as a graffiti artist are myriad. BLADE's artwork has been extensively collected and exhibited for over twenty years and has participated in over 60 select solo and group gallery exhibitions throughout the world. BLADE has also been involved in numerous symposiums and appeared in hundreds of articles, television features, magazine and journal publications and catalogues. At the forefront of the subway graffiti movement in the 1970's, BLADE's work is not only recognized as significantly influential, but his lengthy career as a professional artist has warranted his worldwide notoriety and fame. Painting over 5,000 trains and evolving to new levels of subway and canvas graffiti, BLADE has had exhibitions at the Whitney Museum (2000), Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (2000), a 1991 show at the Musee National Des Monuments Fran├žois (Paris France), numerous shows at the Groninger Museum, and dozens of shows in Europe and Asia. On October 28, 1994, Blade was invited to the Groninger Museum to meet Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, as she was attending the prestigious institution's re-opening. His work is highly collectable."

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Monday, November 14, 2005

Interview with Drag-On of Ruff Ryders Records in the Studio

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This was another great day up in the "Y-O". The "Y-O", a.k.a. Yonkers, is home to Ruff Ryders Recording Studio where on this day we caught up with Hip Hop Artist Drag-On during the recording of his forthcoming CD. This is a short clip from a much longer interview coming soon on SKILLZ DVD Magazine. Here Drag-On gives a little of his history with the label, his battle with DMX and speaks on the state of Hip Hop today compared to yesterday.

Here's a short bio on Drag-On as taken from the "All Music Guide" and written by Stacia Proefrock.

"East Coast rapper Drag-On had a long and profitable history in the background of hardcore rap albums; contributing to projects like DMX's two multi-platinum albums, Ruff Ryders' "Ryde or Die, Vol. 1", DJ Clue?'s The Professional, and several compilations and soundtracks. In early 2000, he released his first solo album, Opposite of H2O, which brought him up to the forefront and showcased his talent for laid-back, slippery grooves and thug rhymes."

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Friday, November 11, 2005

Interview with "Wonder Mike" of "The Sugarhill Gang" with Live Footage in the South Bronx

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Once again I had the great pleasure of catching up with one of Hip Hop's Legends. This time is was with "Wonder Mike" of the legendary "The Sugarhill Gang". It was all part of the SKILLZ DVD Magazine. This footage and interview was captured at the "Annual Raising of Kings and Queens Day" in the South Bronx. The day was filled with Old School Hip Hop greats, fun times, great food and what else can I say. Check out this little clip. This is only a small section from the much larger project known as SKILLZ DVD Magazine.

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

"Old Timers' Day" in the South Bronx

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"Old Timers' Day" in the South Bronx was filled with excitement from legendary Hip Hop Icons on the mic and turntables to people dancing in the streets and park to a crazy "Old Timers' Day" basketball game with everyone over 40 kicking it on the courts. There was tons of action rolling all across the various parks and playgrounds on this day in the South Bronx. We had the great fortune of having J Gutta, Hip Hop Artist of "From the Ground Up Records" take us around and show us some of the good times going on in the South Bronx on this day. King Uprock and J Gutta even take on some young bucks on the basketball court and show them what Old Skool is all about. So if you've ever wanted to see what it was like back in the day, this is a solid glimpse into the past but shot today. It captures that Old Skool "In the park, before it gets dark" feeling of good times.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Interview with bBoy Perpie and bBoy Eric

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This video doesn't even begin to capture the energy that was jumping off on this day in a park in Queens. This is short clip of an amazing day created by SKILLZ DVD Magazine (a collaborative joint created by me: Lynn Lane and Javier Goin) and ZULU Nation, Chapter 9. In this clip you'll see a short interview with bBoy Perpie and bBoy Eric along with some solid bBoy action.

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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

"Annual Raising of Kings and Queens Day" South Bronx

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If you've ever wanted to experience one of the greatest times to be had in the South Bronx, then you need to check out the "Annual Raising of Kings and Queens Day" in the South Bronx. The day is filled with more celebrities than you can imagine. In the past couple of videos that I have posted you have seen the likes of Grandmaster Melle Mel, Black Miss, DJ Lightnin' Lance, Grandmaster Ant of the legendary group: "The Cold Crush Brothers". All of these clips came from this amazing day. Also on board were the Sugar Hill Gang, ODB's mother, Papa Wu of the Wu Tang Clan and many others. Sit back and check out MC Happy take the mic. He's a legendary pioneer from back in the day. This video is just a mash of a bunch of different scenes rolled over MC Happy to capture some of the flavor of the day.
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Monday, November 07, 2005

Interview with Grandmaster Melle Mel: Hip Hop Pioneer and Legend

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Grandmaster Melle Mel, a true legend and pioneer in the Hip Hop game, took a little time out during this amazing day of festivities in the South Bronx to share some of his thoughts and feelings about his past as well as Hip Hop today. This was shot during the Annual Raising of Kings and Queens Day festival. If you pay attention lightning and thunder go off at a perfect moment during this interview hosted by Hip Hop artist from "From the Ground Up" records: J Gutta. This interview is part of a series of interviews that I did for my project SKILLZ DVD Magazine that will be released in the next few weeks. The full interviews are all included on the DVD. SKILLZ is a joint project between myself, Lynn Lane, and friend and fellow filmmaker, Javier Goin.

A little bio on Grandmaster Melle Mel as taken from the "All Music Guide" and written by John Bush:

"Lyrical leader of the original Furious Five and founder of a splinter version of the group during the mid-'80s, Melle Mel wrote many of the legendary raps featured on Grandmaster Flash tracks. Born Melvin Glover, he and his brother Nate (aka Kidd Creole) (not the Caribbean dance-popster of the same name) joined up with Cowboy (Keith Wiggins) in 1978 to form the Three MC's, with production handled by Grandmaster Flash (Joseph Saddler). After Scorpio (originally Mr. Ness, aka Ed Morris) and Raheim (Guy Williams) joined up as well, the group recorded two singles (one as the Younger Generation and Flash & the Five) before they became Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five and recorded the magnificent "Superappin'" for Enjoy, owned by R&B legend Bobby Robinson.

One year later, the group began recording for Sugar Hill and scored on the R&B charts with the wild party jams "Freedom" and "Birthday Party." In 1982, "The Message" became an instant rap classic, one of the first glimmers of social consciousness in hip-hop, and Melle Mel was responsible for many of the cutting lyrics. The record's enormous success ended up fracturing the group, however, despite subsequent successes like "New York New York" and "The Message II (Survival)." Melle Mel wasn't happy about sharing composer credits for "The Message" (especially with Sylvia Robinson), and Flash sued Sugar Hill, citing Robinson's conflict of interest (she not only co-owned the label, but produced and managed the group). Though most of their beefs were directed at Sugar Hill and not inwards, Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five split down the middle, with Flash departing for Elektra with Kidd Creole (Mel's brother) and Raheim while Melle Mel stayed put and formed his own version of the group with Cowboy and Scorpio. (After a court battle regarding rights to the name, Melle Mel was allowed the use of "Grandmaster" as well.) Late in 1983, Sugar Hill released Melle Mel's "White Lines (Don't Don't Do It)," variously described as anti-drugs or pro-drugs, though the death of one of Mel's friends, a drug dealer, a few weeks before release caused him to add the parentheses.

Mel's best year came in 1984, when he rapped over Chaka Khan's platinum, Grammy-winning "I Feel for You" (the first exposure to rapping for mainstream audiences). He was also drafted for the rap film Beat Street, where Grandmaster Melle Mel & the Furious Five performed their new hit "Beat Street" (aka "Beat Street Breakdown") and appeared next to Afrika Bambaataa, the Treacherous Three, Doug E. Fresh, and Rock Steady Crew. Mel recorded a pair of LPs for Sugar Hill during the mid-'80s, then reunited with Flash and the rest of the original Furious Five for a 1988 LP titled On the Strength. It failed miserably in an atmosphere that was decidedly anti-old school, and neither of them recorded for almost ten years. A 1997 record, Right Now, paired Melle Mel with Scorpio, but also failed to sell. His new project, Die Hard, debuted in 2001 with On Lock."

Friday, November 04, 2005

Interview with Hip Hop Artist: BIG DUBEZ of the Sporty Thievz

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It was after a late night interview in Ruff Ryders' Studio doing interviews with my project SKILLZ DVD Magazine that we, myself: Lynn Lane and my partner in crime for the shoot Javier Goin, had the great opportunity to be invited over to BIG DUBEZ's, originially from the group: Sporty Thievz, studio in Yonkers for a late night interview and cypher that jumped off with some of his artists. This clip highlights a bit of the interview and then some of BIG DUBEZ spittin' some rhymes. It's definitely a solid night in his new studio as the talent was thick. They will always be remembered for their runaway major label hit "No Pigeons" which skyrocketed to the top of the charts.

The hip-hop trio Sporty Thievz comprised former Wrecking Crew members King Kirk (a.k.a. Thieven Stealberg) and Big Dubez (a.k.a. Safecracker) in collaboration with Marlon Brando (a.k.a. Robin Hood); signing to the Ruffhouse label, the group debuted in 1998 with Street Cinema. Marlon Brando was taken from this earth at far to early of an age from a tragic accident on a sidewalk in NYC. Big Dubez still pay homage to his friend every moment that he can. Here is a little excerpt from Marlon Brando, a.k.a. Robin Hood's obituary:

"The Yonkers, N.Y.-based Brando, who also went by the additional nom de hip-hop Robin Hood, died of internal bleeding after he was struck Thursday by a car that jumped the curb after hitting a median on Fordham Road in the North Bronx. He was 22 years old.

According to witnesses, Brando pulled a child out of the oncoming car's path before himself receiving the impact that knocked him to the ground. Brando then rose to his feet for a moment and then sat down complaining of pain and dizziness before he was rushed to a hospital, they also observed. The easy-going Brando was known as a charitable, spiritual, and good-natured soul to friend and colleagues.

"That's the kind of guy he was, real cool guy," said Lee "Leethal" Wren, lead producer for Doom Entertainment, who attended high school in Yonkers with Brando and collaborated on projects with the Sporty Thievz rapper for the Yonkers-based production company. "We showed Doom much love, ridiculous love. He told me that if there anything we needed from him to let know. We were about to have him work with my artists [Yonkers mic-controllers] Phil Blunts and Khoury Planet.

"All Marlon ever wanted to do was get on. When Khoury would see on the bus, that's all they'd ever talk about. He'd tell Khoury, you're gonna get on. It's not gonna happen in a hurry, but it'll happen."

Brando's Sporty Thievz kinsman King Kirk, aka Stealin' Spielberg, and Big Dubez, aka Safecracker, were reportedly devastated by the news of Brando's death. R&B crooner Kibwe Dorsey, who sang the hook on Sporty Thievz's 1999 runaway, major label hit "No Pigeons" and who recorded with Brando for the Yonkers-based do-it-yourself independent label Gold & Platinum Records, Dorsey's former manager Jumaane Driver acknowledged. Brando appears on Dorsey's underground hit single "Sunshine and Moonlight."

"It hit me real hard when I heard about it," Driver said. "Out of all of Sporty Thievz, he's the one I respected the most. He was a hard-working brother and he deserved better than what happened to him at Columbia [getting dropped with the group from the label]." "

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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Interview with DJ Lightnin' Lance: Hip Hop Pioneer

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DJ Lightnin' Lance is beyond what you would call a pioneer in the Hip Hop game. He was the first DJ to ever record a scratch on vinyl. The scratch was invented by Grand Wizard Theodore but the first time it was ever recorded was in 1980 on the record "The Live Convention". He gives the history it's recording and how it came about.

This interview was shot in the South Bronx at the 5th Annual Raising Kings and Queens Concert. It was an amazing day. Along side DJ Lightnin' Lance are Hip Hop Legends: Tre Dee and Grand Master Ant. Grand Master Ant was the original DJ of The Cold Crush Brothers.

Go ahead and leave a comment after watching the video.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Interview with Black Miss: Hip Hop Artist

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This interview with Black Miss, Hip Hop artist with Dice Entertainment, was shot this summer at an amazing outdoor event in the South Bronx. It was truly one of the greatest outdoor events I had attended this year. The music was lively with artist like Black Miss herself giving amazing performances. The food was spectacular with families set up all along the area sharing their goods. If you ever want to feel what it feels like when an entire community comes together to have a great time, visit one of the many gatherings in the South Bronx and you will see what fun truly can be. Everyone is accepted irrespective of race, creed, color or gender. It is a good time for everyone in attendance.
Black Miss gave an exceptional performance during the show and afterwards granted me this interview for my SKILLZ DVD Magazine project that I have talked about a few times during this vlog. After her interview she shows a little of what Black Miss is made of with a little spittin' of some rhymes. She is truly a Queen amongst Queens in the rap game.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Interview with Grandmaster Caz

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Sometimes I get the rare and great opportunity to interview one of the true Legends of Hip Hop. This time I was able to talk with Hip Hop Pioneer: Grandmaster Caz of The Cold Crush Brothers fame. This interview was shot in the South Bronx area known as the infamous Hunt's Point which was made famous in the HBO Documentary: "Pimps Up, Hos Down". This is a small clip from a larger interview that was shot for the upcoming issue of SKILLZ DVD Magazine that I am producing along with friend and fellow filmmaker, Javier Goin. A little more about the legendary Grandmaster Caz before we get into the video:

Grandmaster Caz, AKA Grandmaster Casanova Fly, whose real name is Curtis Fisher was born in the Bronx, New York and was a part of the hip hop group The Cold Crush Brothers. After seeing Kool Herc play at a party in the Bronx for the first time in 1974 he decided that was what he wanted to be doing and bought DJ equipment the very next day. Grandmaster Caz started by teaming up with his best friend DJ Disco Wiz (Luis Cedeno). He later would team up with JDL (Jerry Dee Lewis) and form The Notorious Two. Caz began incorporating rhymes in with his DJing and become known for being the first DJ to do both simultaneously. In 1978 he formed a group called the Mighty Force with Whipper Whip (James Whipper) and Dot-A-Rock (Darryl Mason). In 1979 DJ Charlie Chase (Carlos Mandes) from The Cold Crush Brothers asked Caz to help audtion MCs for his group which was really a way for Charlie Chase to trick Caz into joining the Cold Crush Brothers. JDL, Whipper Whip, and Dot-A-Rock were also part of The Cold Crush Brothers before Whipper Whip and Dot-A-Rock left to join The Fantastic Five.
The Cold Crush Brothers began gaining a reputation in the burgeoning hip hop scene in New York for their routines, most of which Caz was responsible for. Grandmaster Caz, who became known as the captain of the Cold Crush, also became well known for his lyrical ability. Around this time, Sylvia Robinson, who went on to found Sugar Hill Records, happened to hear part-time club bouncer and manager of the Cold Crush Brothers, Big Bank Hank (Henry Jackson) rapping to a tape of Grandmaster Caz while working at a Pizzeria. She asked him be the third member of a group that she was putting together called the Sugar Hill Gang. Hank accepted and, since he wasn't an MC himself, he went to Grandmaster Caz and asked him to borrow his book of rhymes which Caz gave to him, no questions asked. Caz figured that if Hank got put on, then he would put Caz and the Cold Crush on. Hank would use Caz's lyrics in the song "Rapper's Delight" which would become a huge hit in 1979 and is the first hip hop single to land on the top 40 charts. This was also the first time the term rapper was used to describe a person who is rhyming to music on the mic, who had previously been known only as an MC to everyone who was actually part of the hip hop scene at the time. Caz would never receive any credit or compensation for the rhymes that he contributed.
In 1982, The Cold Crush Brothers were featured in the movie Wild Style and would also be on the soundtrack with Grandmaster Caz doing the movie theme song. Caz released some records as a solo artist in the late 80's. He also released the song "MC Delight" in 2000 which finally sets the record straight about the disputed verse on "Rapper's Delight."
His latest Release is the 12"Single: "Move the Crowd" produced by his friend Torch aka DJ Haitian Star. (360°-Records/Roughtrade, Germany)