Back in something like 2006 DJ Cappel & Smitty had the genius idea to put the souls of Frank Sinatra and Biggie Smalls, both geniuses of their own genres, in a room together. The result was “Blue Eyes Meets Bed Stuy,” a perfect mix of Biggie’s smooth bass rap with Sinatra’s choral crooning, of Biggie’s usual chill vibe beats with Sinatra’s big brassy bands. Is the kind of sound you want for those days that you can’t really make up or down of, the ones that you just gotta glide through and go with.
Track 2, a mash-up of “Everyday Struggle” and “A Day in the Life of a Fool” is the truth.
So in the midst of the first bitingly cold days where the skies are still mockingly clear, as you zombie through your work day checking Facebook for a melange of international crisis news, hilarious gifs of evil pets, another opinion on Miley Cyrus, and yet another epic engagement story… maybe sign off and nod to this instead
After the world tragically lost visionary Run-DMCmember Jason ”Jam Master Jay” Mizell in 2002, founding member Darryl “DMC” McDaniels swore, out of respect to Mizell, that he’d never make new music. But DMC remains committed to the pursuit of social justice through the arts, and has ventured into (or rather returned to; turns out this king of cool has always been a bit of geek!) the world of comics with his new indie imprint Darryl MakesComics.
Fittingly, the first project from the imprint will be a graphic novel set during the height of hip hop glory in 1980’s New York, titled DMC. That’s right, DMC.The story will kick off with an alternate universe version of DMC himself, a universe where DMC never became a rapper, but instead fought for justice as a superhero. But DMC is only the first hero the comic will introduce, the comic promises an exciting cadre of diverse heroes who’ll bust up the typical hero paradigm, add a little color to the comics world, and switch up the style we’re used to. You can see for yourself in the preview of DMC#0 over at EW.
“People seem to forget that hip hop was always so evolutionary, and revolutionary.…whether it was a record, whether it was a graffiti, whether it was spoken word, whether it was a break dance, it represented those conditions that are continually the things that we fight for…The comic book is going to have the consciousness of what hip hop… is economically, politically, and socially relevant, if that’s the word.”
DMC #0was offered exclusively at NYCC earlier this month, but you can nab the whole first graphic novel when it drops in January 2014. In the meantime, satiate your taste for geeky-cool with this throwback…
Idris Goodwin‘s How We Got Onis more than just a play about hip hop, it’s a poetry infused hip hop album in itself. An album that tells the stories of 3 suburban hip hop geeks like interweaving verses overlaying an increasingly complex beat. Every act a track on the album, the characters evolving across them, occasionally laying down their own raps and at other times playing off each other or jumping in with a hook. The result is one seriously dope album.
The story follows Julian, Hank, and Luanne, growing up in the 80’s as hip hop is taking over urban centers nationwide, but these kids are from the ‘burbs, and though the suburbs were rocking to a different beat at the time, these youths were nodding to the beats of Boogie Down Productions and BigDaddy Kane as they struggled to find their own rhythm in a community that doesn’t quite get it.
But you don’t have to be a hip hop expert or an 80’s baby to get with the vibe of this coming-of-age story.
With an MC who calls herself “Selector” (played by Miranda Craigwell) smoothly “toasting” over the play’s scenes and beats, offering bits of insight into 80’s hip hop culture, even those who didn’t grow up to the sounds of beatboxing and dubs can get with the groove.
Selector first introduces us to Hank (Kadahj Bennett), who is the brains of the operation. With a true passion for hip hop, he’s got his lyrical genius down to a science. But he lacks significantly in the “cool” department. This is where Julian (Jared Brown) comes in, bringing the heart of the matter. With something of a troubled family life and a deep insecurity that expresses itself as bold confidence, Julian fits the bill of the hip hop poster child. Luanne‘s (Cloteal Horne) passion for rhyme brings the spirit, showing both boys how joy absolutely has to be part of the equation.Indeed, for much of the play, she even appears as a sort of apparition, briefly haunting the stage between scenes with a quick solo rhyme or two.
Spoken word poet and hip-hop playwright Idris Goodwin is a rapper himself, and his own passion for the music shines through these characters. Under the smart direction of Summer L. Williams the play boasts a stunningly visual rendition, at times of a hype local concert, at others of the simple mechanics of a private turntable session. In fact, in my favorite scene, Hank and Julian share the stage in a split scene, each engaged in private conversations with their fathers (as voiced by the multi-faceted Miranda Craigwell), and it’s staged such that the two scenes are physically and lyrically mixed like a couple of records on a turntable. Company One‘s production of this fun and poignant play captures the reach of hip hop’s influence and it’s impact on a generation.
Oh and did I mention the music is hot?
And if you’re like me, you’ll now want a little of this…
2 Mello pushes the boundaries of hip-hop and geek culture. I’d call him a hip-hop futurist. He self-describes as “geeky and proud of it, describing his childhood as being spent in lonesome bliss playing Super Nintendo games, watching dark science fiction films… 2 Mello’s artistic goal is to relate his obsessions with music and geek culture to his damaged connection with the real world and all its beauties and perils.” Fan the man: http://www.facebook.com/2mellomakes