"That's what make Wu-Tang forever. If you don't plant seeds, it won't be forever. You have to give something back in order for something new to grow..." -- Masta Killa
In addition to my Wu-Tang Clan/ATCQ tribute roundup, you need to check out the Wu-Tang Clan’s short film For The Children: 25 Years of Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).
In conjunction with the YouTube channel Certified Classics, the film features Wu-Tang members RZA, Method Man, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Inspectah Deck, Cappadonna, Masta Killa and U-God reflecting on the cultural impact of their 1993 debut album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), which turned 25 years old today (Nov. 9). Also, Joey Bada$$, A$AP Ferg, A$AP Rocky and others share their viewpoints as well.
The short film was directed by Shomi Patwary who does a great job of documenting critiques from two generation of rappers about the influence Enter the Wu-Tang had on their lives. In our current times, there appears to be a generational gap between the rap veterans and today's new school of rappers. This film brings it full circle. In short, we have to teach the babies without preaching to them.
Days after the midterm elections, Ice Cube has released a new single that’s aimed directly at President Trump (aka Agent Orange).
The single, “Arrest the President,” features the West Coast icon spewing his vitriol at the president for his alleged collusion with Russia during his presidential campaign in 2016.
"Arrest the president, you got the evidence / That nigga is Russian intelligence / When it rains it pours / Did you know the new white was orange? / Boy, you’re showing your horns / They’re tryin’ to replace my halo with thorns / You so basic with your vape stick / Let’s go apeshit in the matrix," he rhymes on the song.
Listen to Ice Cube's "Arrest the President"
The song is not as venomous as his classic tracks about white supremacy on his landmark 1991 album Death Certificate. Songs like "I Wanna Kill Sam" and "Horny Lil' Devil" have a little bit more lyrical bite. Nevertheless, "Arrest the President" is a protest song that we need to hear more from our current rappers.
I'm happy that Ice Cube is back and he's ready to spit some truth to power. Ice Cube's tenth album, Everythang’s Corrupt, is expected to hit digital stores on Dec. 7.
If you want to hear two of Ice Cube's incendiary songs from Death Certificate - "I Wanna Kill Sam" and "Horny Lil' Devil" - click the link below. (I also included his fiery tack "We Had to Tear This Mothafucka Up" because it's vintage Ice Cube y'all need to hear.)
Today (Nov. 9) is a great day in music history - two classic albums that shaped and transcended hip-hop turned 25 years old.
On Nov. 9, 1993, the Wu-Tang Clan and A Tribe Called Quest released their seminal albums, Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers and Midnight Marauders, respectively, on the same day giving rap fans endless hours of head-nodding material.
Both albums offered two different musical compositions in rap. On Enter the Wu-Tang, veteran producer RZA delivered a cacophony of sounds that consisted of concrete-breaking beats and sampled vocals from kung-fu flicks. The album's unpolished production sounded like RZA recorded the project in his basement -- gritty and unfiltered.
Meanwhile, ATCQ had already released two classic albums - People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm (1990) and The Low End Theory (1991), an impressive accomplishment from the iconic group. Unlike Enter the Wu, the production on Midnight Marauders was polished as the rap trio continued their creative fusion of hip-hop and jazz. Lyrically, Q-Tip and the late Phife Dawg delivered inventive rhymes that dealt with their day-in-a-life circumstances growing up in Queens, New York.
Both are unadulterated classics and I'm not going to even entertain a debate on which album is superior, instead, let's enjoy them for what they are - timeless masterpieces.
"We at 25 years, we know we have arrived at our destination. We're grateful for everyone that’s been a part of this,” said RZA about the LP's 25th anniversary (via Billboard ). “When we said 36 Chambers, the word chamber was giving everybody an idea that you will go through different chambers in your life. It's many things that you have to pass through in order to master yourself."
The RZA also revealed that the borough of Staten Island, N.Y. (native hometown to most of the Wu-Tang Clan members) will recognized Nov. 9 as "Wu-Tang Clan Day."
On the internet, they are a slew of tributes and retrospectives on both of these albums. Check out the list below (click the link):
It might be too soon for holiday music, but I couldn’t resist not telling you about singer-pianist PJ Morton’s new holiday song and his upcoming Christmas album.
Although PJ Morton is the keyboardist for the pop band Maroon 5, as a solo artist, his musical style is deeply rooted in the soul songbook of Stevie Wonder. Case in point: His Grammy-nominated album Gumbo is a delectable listen (excuse the pun) of soul and R&B music. Songs like “They Gon’ Wanna Come,” goes full Innervisions in both its orchestral sound and introspective lyrics. He takes his Wonder influence a step further on “Religion” where he denounces terrorist acts done under the auspices of God, as well as on the reflective track “Claustrophobic.” You can stream his entire project here.
Next up on PJ Morton’s plate is his holiday album Christmas with PJ, which arrives at digital stores on Friday (Nov. 9). The eight-song collection features the 37-year-old musician’s unique reworkings of your holiday classics.
For example, the set’s lead single is his remake of Mariah Carey’s 1994 holiday mainstay“All I Want for Christmas Is You.” Unlike Carey’s boppier version, Morton gives us a Stevie Wonder-esque vibe with his rendition complete with Stokley Williams (from the R&B group Mint Condition) dueting with him and playing the drums.
In his music video below, we see old home movies of a young Morton and his family enjoying Christmas year after year. The visual is intercut with scenes of Morton and Williams performing in the studio.
Check Out PJ Morton's "All I Want For Christmas is You" Feat. Stokley
As for Morton's upcoming Christmas album, the singer-pianist re-flips several of your favorite yuletide ditties. For example, Morton remixes Donny Hathaway's soulful holiday song "This Christmas" into a joyous New Orleans bounce track. Along with bounce artist HaSizzle's energetic vocals on the song, it will no doubt make you want to shake your butt under the mistletoe.
“I went all the way there with the string orchestra and the horns on top of the bounce beat. I don’t think anyone’s gone that far, to have an orchestra over bounce drums," he told Offbeat magazine about the song. "But that’s me, though! That’s the dichotomy of PJ. A brown beat for Jesus’ birthday with a full orchestra on it. Come on!"
If you want to know how PJ Morton gets ready for Christmas, click the link below. Also, I included one of my favorite songs from his Gumbo project - "How Deep Is Your Love."
Don't sleep on PJ Morton. You can cop/stream his Christmas With PJ album here.
Can we please have a moment of silence for legendary jazz trumpeter Roy Anthony Hargrove.
The 49-year-old musician passed away on Friday night (Nov. 2) in New York. According to NPR, the cause of death was cardiac arrest. Hargrove's longtime manager, Larry Clothier, told NPR that he had been admitted to the hospital for medical issues related to kidney function; he had been on dialysis for many years.
Born in Waco, Texas in 1969, Hargrove was an enormously gifted musician who was discovered by iconic trumpeter Wynton Marsalis while he was still in high school. He would often sit with Marsalis and occasionally play sideman to his band. After high school, Hargrove attended Boston's prestigious Berklee College of Music but left after one year and began his musical career in New York.
Hargrove was a brilliant experimenter in jazz. He was among the first to incorporate elements of hip-hop music into his repertoire back in the early '90s when doing so was often frowned upon by jazz purists. He created the RH Factor, a collective of artists that included like-minded musicians like James Poyser, Jonathan Batiste, and Bernard Wright, among many others. Affiliated members included Steve Coleman and Greg Osby (both of whom are part of the illustrious M-Base Collective).
“I think that music is so spread out,” he explain to veteran journalist/historian Nate Chinen about the RH Factor in 2003 (via JazzTimes). “There’s so many different worlds within music to be explored. Why limit yourself to just one?"
"When I was going to school at Berklee I noticed that there were a lot of cliques that had established themselves. There’s group A, group B, divisions and then subdivisions," he continued. "Because in the funk world you would have the straight-up fusion cats, and then you have cats that play behind straight-up R&B, and then you would have gospel in the middle of that. And in jazz, you would have cats who only played like Bird, bebop. And then the Trane cats. And you would have the progressive guys who were more into original music. So it was wild for me, because I would just go in and out of each one of these. I just never believed in limiting yourself to one way of playing.”
Hargrove's creative Neo-bop sound can be heard on his 1990 debut album Diamond on the Rough and on 1992's The Vibe. These two albums are the precursors to the late Guru's Jazzmatazz series. Greg Osby's debut effort 3-D Lifestyles (1993), Branford Marsalis' Buckshot LeFonque project (1994) and Herbie Hancock's Dis Is Da Drum (1994) are just a few albums that followed in Hargrove's progressive lead.
But Roy Hargrove Presents The RH Factor: Hard Groove project is his visionary take on the jazz, soul and hip-hop fusion. Overall, the album is a meticulous jam session with Hargrove's fluttery horn riffs highlighting the band's infectious live instrumentation. Standout tracks include the jazz-hop-inflicted "Poetry" (featuring Q-Tip and Erykah Badu) and the soulful love ballad "Kwah/Home" (featuring Anthony Hamilton).
Hargrove's musical amalgam wasn't regulated to just hip-hop, he dabbled in different genres of music as well. On his 1994 album Blues 'n Ballads, he incorporated blues to his jazz compositions and on 1995's Parker's Mood, Hargrove teamed up with bassist Christian McBride and pianist Stephen Scott to pay homage to the father of bebop Charlie Parker.
Hargrove also delivered his beautiful trumpeting on other artists' projects. He performed on Common's 2000 album Like Water for Chocolate, as well as on Erykah Badu’s 2000 project Mama’s Gun and her 2003 effort, Worldwide Underground. He also contributed his brass arrangements on both D’Angelo’s revered albums Voodoo and Black Messiah.
Among Hargrove's accolades include two Grammy Awards -- one for Best Jazz Instrumental Album in 2003 for Directions in Music and Best Latin Jazz Performance in 1998 for Habana, his stellar Afro-Cuban album recorded in Havana.
After hearing the sad news of Roy Hargrove's passing, artists such as Questlove, Erykah Badu, Eric Roberson, Anita Baker and many others tweeted their condolences.
You can read some of their tweets below.
The Great Roy Hargrove. He is literally the one man horn section I hear in my head when I think about music. To watch him harmonize with himself stacking nine horn lines on mamouth 10… https://t.co/ytaw0i8RWV
I have no words over the loss of my dear brother of 31 years. We played on a lot of sessions together, traveled a lot of miles together, laughed a lot together, bickered on occasion - and I wouldn’t change our relationship for anything in the world. Bless you, Roy Hargrove.
R.I.P Roy Hargrove, King. Everyone speaks to your incredible artistry which can certainly never be denied but, I learned in watching you that the truly great consider others. You were… https://t.co/JZ1cbQpSoF