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Great Ballers of Music – Mohammad Reza Shajarian

Kayhan Kalhor, Mohammad Reza Shajarian, Homayun Shajarian, Hossein Alizadeh: the Masters of Persian Music. From a concert in London in 2005 that I attended

The Living Legend.

The Unsurpassable.

The single greatest living singer, and possibly greatest singer in history.

We Ball Harder is not all about catchy, dancey pop music or the masterworks of Jamaica. Today we honor possibly the greatest singer in human history, Mohammad Reza Shajarian, of Mashhad, Khorasan, Iran. His voice is the most expressive I’ve ever heard, both on record and in concert.  His complete mastery of the vocal form of Persian classical music (radif) is second to none, but beyond the technical and artistic achievements is the intangible quality of his singing, which touches the depths of the soul. His longtime collaborator Hossein Alizadeh has stated that voice, rhythm, and melodic instrumentation are of equal weight in Persian classical music, but there is no mistaking that when Shajarian is in town, concertgoers want to see HIM foremost, despite how good his accompaniment may be.

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Hip Hop’s 40th Birthday with DJ Kool Herc

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More reasons New York kills every other city in the US – up there this weekend, and randomly find out that DJ Kool Herc (sometimes billed as Kool DJ Herc) was playing a free (!) party yesterday to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the birth of hip hop culture, which most agree occurred on August 11, 1973, in the party room at the now legendary 1520 Sedgwick Avenue apartment block in the Bronx.  This was his apartment building, and it was his sister Cindy’s back-to-school party, DJed by the 16 year old Clive Campbell, aka DJ Kool Herc. In attendance were none other than Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, and KRS-One, future giants of hip hop, as well as Coke La Rock, Herc’s buddy and hip hop’s very first standalone MC. Nearly everyone in attendance that night was blown away and there is no doubt that it was the defining event in the explosion of hip hop.

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Herc and a modern-day B-boy

Yesterday’s party, at the 5 Pointz graffiti and art center in Long Island City, was a tribute to the legendary DJ and his role as the father of hip hop music, as well as a throwback to exactly the sort of party Herc used to throw in those early days.  DJ Kool Herc created hip hop by extending and looping the breaks of hard funk tracks from the likes of James Brown, the Incredible Bongo Band, and others, creating what he called “the merry-go-round” – several minutes of intense beats that drove the b-boys and b-girls (a term he coined) wild and helped to develop breakdancing. You don’t hear this anymore, but it was clear yesterday that people still love it! Seriously gat-damn funky! Acting as MC was Marley Marl, a legendary producer and MC from the Golden Age of Hip Hop, responsible for massive hits by luminaries such as Eric B & Rakim and especially LL Cool J (he produced “Mama Said Knock You Out!”).

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DJ Kool Herc and Marley Marl

(Incidentally, Herc and his family are immigrants from Jamaica, where he lived until age 12. He’s been quite open about the Jamaican roots of hip hop – what he pioneered in New York as a teenager had been done for 15 years in Jamaica by the sound system DJs – playing special instrumental “versions” of popular songs, “chatting” over the track, and acting as their own hype men – driving dancers wild. Herc did all these things, albeit with James Brown cuts rather than the Paragons versions.)

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“To the beat y’all ya don’t stop!” – DJ Kool Herc (responsible for coining many of rap’s early shout outs

YouTube user pristafari has uploaded a series of videos from yesterday’s party, and for your convenience, I’ve made you a playlist of them, but here’s one of the best:

Long live Clive Campbell, DJ Kool Herc, and may the spirit of 73 live on forever!

Song of the Day – Faithless – “Insomnia (Monster Mix)”

EDM? EDC?

NEOPHYTES ALL!

Here’s the real sound of 1995, a rave anthem if there every was one. Wait for the synths to kick in around 6:30, now that’s a fucking drop.

PS – hi, good to see you too!

Song of the Day – Giorgio Moroder – “Racer”

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First off, I swear WBH is not turning into a music-only blog. Promise.

Secondly, while listening to epic synthman Moroder’s epic live set , one song stuck out, at once familiar and brand new – early 80s sounding with 21st century atmospherics. I could swear I’d heard it before, but couldn’t place it at all. Apparently I was so caught up in the hype of Random Access Memories that the fact that GIORGIO HAS A NEW SONG OUT!

Once again, utter ace, tip top. Just what you’d imagine GM to sound like in 2013. It’s actually the “soundtrack” to Google’s Chrome experiment, Racer. Google Shmoogle. MORODER IS BACK WITH A VENGEANCE AND THAT’S ALL THAT MATTERS. LONG LIVE GIORGIO!

Giorgio Moroder’s Live DJ Set from Brooklyn


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Disco, electro, and general dance music legend Giorgio Moroder (as in “Giorgio by Moroder”) recently performed at Deep Space in Brooklyn, apparently his first ever Stateside live DJ set.  It’s funky, old school, vintage synth heaven, with some Italo-Disco classics with a modern sensibility and persistent mid-tempo robotic dance beat. Hands down the most interesting DJ set I’ve heard since seeing Madeon a while back. Without this man there would be no house, no techno, no trance, no electro. And at age 73, he’s still got it.

Listen and download here!


Download link (right click and save)

 

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