Hip Hop’s 40th Birthday with DJ Kool Herc
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.
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!”).
(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.)
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)”
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”
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
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![audio https://jshare.johnshopkins.edu/cfranck1/Giorgio%20Moroder%20Live%20%40%20Deep%20Space%20%28First%20Dj%20Set%20Ever%29%20.mp3]
Download link (right click and save)
DAFT PUNK RANDOM ACCESS MEMORIES STREAMING ON ITUNES RIGHT NOW!
Open in iTunes, click listen. Enjoy.
Song of the Day – Daft Punk – “Get Lucky”
Because a full-length version* is finally out. Oh yes it is. They should call it “Get Funky”: dis shit NAAAAIIISTY!!!![audio https://jshare.johnshopkins.edu/cfranck1/Get%20Lucky.mp3]
*EDIT April 18, 11am-ish – this appears to be a radio edit, the full album version is about two minutes longer. So what? It’s still sweeeeet!
RANDOM ACCESS MEMORIES – DAFT PUNK – MAY 17th
Click for a funky preview!
Or 21st if you live in the Unfunky States of America. Daft Punk’s fourth studio album shall be released. And we shall party. That is all.
NEW DAFT PUNK ALBUM ON THE WAY! (also, Song of the Day by them)
Various online leakers have announced that a Sony online registration form now lists a full album’s worth of new songs by Daft Punk for release this year! 13 songs, nearly 75 minutes, recorded 2013. That’s all the info that’s out there, but all I can say is HELL YES! The gods of French house and fathers of modern electro are back!!!
This brings us to the song of the day, “Around the World/Harder Better Faster Stronger”, from Alive 2007 – a recording of their legendary concert at Bercy (near Paris), and one of the highlight tracks from the album. Recorded at the height of their influence (Justice, anyone?), it’s a Daft Punk only mashup, only the mashup was done live with racks of synths, midi controllers, and computers, so it’s really like instant remixing and mashing. Madeon probably wouldn’t be anywhere without this pure unadulterated electronic robot bliss:
Song of the Day: Death from Above 1979 – “Little Girl”
As a nod to the great nation of Canada, responsible for one the best breeds of dog in the world* and home to both my favorite city and brewery in North America**, today’s choon is from my favorite band from the Great White North, Death from Above 1979***. The best two-person band in history [eat it, White Stripes] – Jesse F Keeler (later of MSTRKRFT) on the most distorted, aggressive, riffy bass, and Sebastian Grainger on pounding drums and punky vocals. Formed in 2001, broke up in 2006, and only one killer full length album – but what an album – joyful, earsplitting noise in the best possible way. The band has reunited and is working on a new album, and I can’t wait. This one’s one of my favorites from the old days:
live in the pre-breakup days
the MSTRKRFT edition, a brilliant remix from Jesse’s next outfit.
*the Labrador retriever, based upon the St John’s water dog, from Newfoundland. I had a great one before, and just got a puppy today:
**Montreal. Really. Go if you haven’t been, it’s starting to thaw out. Also, Unibroue.
*** Or, just Death from Above, their original name. James Murphy, the overrated fuckwit behind LCD Soundsystem and manager of Death From Above Records engaged them in a legal dispute, and they chose to add “1979”, because, to quote Grainger, “1979 is the year of my birth, 1979 is the year of Off the Wall, 1979 is the year of The Pleasure Principle, 1979 is the last year of the last cool decade, 1979 is scratched into my arm, 1979 is scratched into my arm, 1979 is scratched into my fucking arm.” DFA’s reaction to James Murphy and his label also was the only thing on the band’s website for a while, and here it is, verbatim:
“FUCK DFA RECORDS FUCK JAMES MURPHY WE DECLARE JIHAD ON THEM HOLY WAR ENDING IN THIER [sic] DEATH AND DISMEMBERMENT… james murphy is a selfish piece of fuck that will burn in the flames of a specially dedicated rock and roll jihad. if i had the resources i would fly a plane into his skull.”
Rock on brother Jesse and brother Sebastian!
Song of the Day: “Tradicional a lo Bravo” by Tego Calderón
Like reggaeton? Like horns, congas, and traditional Latin-Caribbean sounding music? Like dancing and oddly catchy songs? Today’s song is “Tradicional a lo Bravo,” a huge choon from that Puerto Rican superstar Tego Calderón. Depending on where you are (in the Northern Hemisphere), spring is either finally here, or winter is in its final assault and you can’t wait for it to start getting nice. In the first case, celebrate with this jam, and in the second, escape to warmer climes, to a land of palm trees, rum, beaches, old forts, and dance halls.
The WBH Guide to Jamaican Music, part 2: The Golden Age – Rocksteady and Early ReggaeFor part 1: Ska, click here
Ska, which had completely dominated Jamaican music from the early 60s, couldn’t last forever. By mid-1966, a new sound was emerging, one that permanently changed Jamaican music forever: rocksteady, which lasted a mere month and a half or so before morphing into the earliest form of reggae, the name that has persisted till the present. These two forms together only lasted about six years, and while rocksteady is widely acclaimed as the golden age of Jamaican music, the official WBH opinion is that early reggae belongs in that era as well. In full disclosure, rocksteady and reggae up till about 1972/3 – stylistically very close to rocksteady – is arguably my favorite genre of music, leaning slightly more to the reggae side.
Following is the absolute best of the best that the island has produced, and dozens of brilliant tracks.
London 2012 Olympics Music Balls Harder
A proper WBH recap of the marvelous London Olympics is forthcoming, but before that, I want to address something that some may have overlooked: the FANTASTIC music of the Games, from the opening ceremony to the events straight through to the closing ceremony. Of course the opening and closing ceremonies featured the Best of British Music for the Last Fifty Years, and for the most part, did a pretty good job, with tons of classic rock from the Beatles, the Who, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, and more. Hell, British electronic legends Underworld were chosen as musical directors of the OC. But the choonage wasn’t limited to the start and finish: if you listened at quiet moments in the various stadiums, arenas, and other venues, there was a pretty banging soundtrack there too. Also, the official song of the olympics was a sick choice: “Survival” by Muse, currently the most talented and biggest band in Britain, and a song officially released the day it was chosen as the official song, not even a month before the Games opened:
For other great songs featured in the Games, follow the jump
Keep Celebrating: The WBH Guide to Jamaican Music, Part 1: Ska
It’s official – he wanted to be a legend, and he is. Usain Bolt just won the world’s first Olympic running triple-triple (or is it double triple?), part of the mighty Team Jamaica – Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, Yohan “The Beast” Blake, and Usain “Lightning” Bolt – that won the 4x100m relay today, setting a new, smashing world record of 36.84 seconds, a mere two days after Bolt became the first ever to get a double-double by winning the 200m. But this time, he had help from the rest of Team Jamaica, overall the fastest sprinters in the world. What an irie first week of Jamaica’s 50th independent year! It’s only fitting to keep the party going, so get out your Red Stripe, Ting, curry goat, and whatever else you want and have a good time!
It’s also the 50th anniversary, more or less, of Jamaica’s explosion onto the global music arena, and the two are no coincidence. What will be presented over several installments is a rough guide to the many styles that have gone on to influence musicians, rebels, and parties everywhere in the world since then – ska and the sound systems, rock steady, toasting (arguably the roots of rap) reggae in all its forms, dub, and dancehall, to be selective. You’ll get some brief history and description, but most imporantly, tons of fantastic music.
MADEON NEW SONG TEASER!
He’s awesome, he’s a genius, he rocks a mean dancefloor, he’s the bo-est selecta out there, and he only just turned 18 yesterday. You may remember him from the genius of “Pop Culture” last year. I saw him in concert two weeks ago, and he ain’t no mere flash in the pan. Madeon is the real deal. He just released this preview of his upcoming single today, and it is HUGE. Like, the electro/house equivalent of a summer blockbuster movie. Enjoy.
Little Boots’s New Album Headphones Getting Closer!
I’ve already briefly addressed it, but Little Boots’s new album, Headphones, is getting the finishing touches for release! By now a few songs have been released and a couple videos have been made:
Little Boots aka Victoria Hesketh is immensely talented, and by far the best of the crop of recent electronically-influenced pop singer-songwriters (such as La Roux, Lady Gaga, Adele, etc). If her upcoming album is as good as her debut, she’ll be a serious contender for a Great Ballers of Music honor. She has a fantastic voice,her songs are intelligent, immensely catchy, and usually quite danceable. If anything the new album seems even more dancefloor oriented. Favorites from the previous, debut album, Hands after the jump
LITTLE BOOTS’S NEW ALBUM DUE THIS YEAR!! Best news of the day by far!
Mindblowing: Madeon – Pop Culture
I just saw this and am in awe. Madeon, a 17 year old digital DJ on Youtube, is now officially God of Sampling Brilliance. He calls it a mash-up, I say that’s an injustice. This is rather THIRTY NINE songs with random snatches of each thrown in at one second and taken out at another, all creating a whole new and truly epic bouncy electro pop track. Like Girl Talk, if Girl Talk didn’t suck. Kudos to Madeon!
It also seems he’s done a pretty good remix of Yelle: