Thursday, February 26, 2009

Old School Cerritos Party for Mark Pulido

Thought it was all said and done with Obama? No, there is more political action going down. On Tuesday, March 3rd, the City of Cerritos (a suburb on the border of LA County and Orange County) will be holding an election for City Council. A good friend Mark Pulido (graduate of Whitney High in Cerritos, former UCLA Samahang Pilipino president/USAC President, and currently a member of the Artesia/Bellflower/Cerritos School Board) is running for a seat in the City Council and he needs our love and support.

Mark is a down brutha, and has many, many stories to tell about Southern California, Filipinos, hip hop culture, political activism, and community organizing since the late 1980s. One of my favorite stories is the legendary "Unity Jam" at UCLA in 1992 (correct me if I'm wrong), when a bunch of Filipino student organizations and mobile DJs jammed out to promote peace amidst ongoing violence.

Anyways, DJ Icy Ice will be on the wheels for the "Old School Cerritos" party, Mark's last event in lieu of his campaign. Here's the details:

Old School Cerritos Party for Mark Pulido
Thursday, February 26

7:00pm- ?

O Bar and Restaurant

South Street & Gridley, Cerritos, CA

Please join DJ Icy Ice for a special Old School Cerritos Party in honor of Mark Pulido for Cerritos City Council.

ALL 21 & UP ARE WELCOME who support Mark, especially, if you grew up in the area in the 1970s, 80s & 90s.

THIS EVENT IS FREE - Donations of any amount are appreciated.

Election Day is March 3rd. Please visit our website for more details about the campaign and to make secure online donations.

* SPECIAL INVITES TO: Alumni of Artesia HS, Cerritos HS, Gahr HS, Tracy HS, Whitney HS, St. Joseph HS and St. John Bosco HS. All SCPASA Alumni - Cerritos College, UCLA, USC, CSULB, UCI, CSUF, CSUN, LMU, Cal Poly Pomona, CSUDH, CSULA, UCSD, SDSU, LBCC, LACC, El Camino, Cypress, MSAC, etc. Friends from the old school Spectrum, United Kingdom, and Legend days."

What? Legend days? Yup, that's right up my alley way: "Legend" documentary.

Finally, I'm curious about what "Old School Cerritos" means. I imagine big hair, fishnet stockings, backspins, and freestyle music. But that's what I gather from the flyers and pictures collected for "Legend." These images are a decade or more prior to the formation of groups like Cerritos All Stars. I guess we can't downplay the importance (centrality?) of this quiet LA suburb in Filipino youth culture.

For now, perhaps this "Old School Cerritos" party is a documenting text in the growing historiography of Filipinos in hip hop culture.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Filipino vets bill passed: Now or Never?

"You would think he'd get love when he got to the States
Realized that all the promises they offered were fake

Denied benefits for Filipino veterans

Thousand miles away from home

Experiencing hell again."

-Kiwi, "Home"

"He left in late September

Said he'll be back in July
Now the child is askin,
'Mommy, why did Daddy have to die?'
She said, 'he fought for freedom'
But she knows its just a lie
Cuz her father was a veteran with benefits denied."
-Blue Scholars, "Back Home"

Lou Dobbs: "It's quite a shame that it's taken so long for our country to meet this obligation."

BakitWhy: "Pilipino Veterans Benefits Passes with Criticism"
VB2DC: "U.S. Congress Passes Filipino WWII Veterans Legislation"
FOBBDEEP: "Justice for Fil-Am Veteranos?"
LA Times: "Filipino Veterans to get long-overdue payment under stimulus bill"
Lou Dobbs: "Stimulus for Filipino veterans?" (video)
*New: Kuwento Kuwento: "The Filipino Veteran's Lonely Struggle"
*New New! BakitWhy: "JFAV and SAVE Respond to Veteran's Benefits"

We've heard Filipino emcees, poets, and visual artists using this issue as a staple when commenting on Filipino political issues. Perhaps many of us became "politicized" for the first time because of this very heated issue. But now that the bill addressing Filipino WWII Veterans service has passed (with the Stimulus Package last week), what's next? This all seems kind of anti-climactic, right?

Anyways, I'm sure many of you have been following the debate on the newly passed Filipino WWII Veterans bill that addresses the 1946 Recession Act that stripped the veteran status of Filipinos who fought alongside the U.S. as commissioned by the U.S. government. Filipinos were uniquely targeted in the Recession Act, as other countries also fought during the war alongside the U.S. but were still given U.S. veteran status and all its benefits. This occurrence is informed by the fact that the Philippines at the time just after the war was still under formal U.S. colonial rule.

Anyways, there is lively debate on whether the Stimulus Package passed by Congress and signed by President Obama sufficiently redresses the injustice done by the 1946 Recession Act. In an LA Times article, the provision in the Stimulus Package regarding the Filipino veterans is as follows:

"The bill authorizes a $198-million payout. Each Filipino veteran who became a U.S. citizen is eligible for $15,000; each noncitizen, $9,000." has some good analysis, especially in the "comments" section of the entry.

And VB2DC gives some very astute points regarding the debate. Here is a little snippet:

"Dissidents of the bill argue the following:
  • While the stimulus legislation recognizes FilVets for their service, some feel that it is not enough to rectify the 1946 Rescission Act which originally stripped them of veterans status, and that the lump sum payment is merely “crumbs” considering it only equals a little over a year’s worth of pension...
...Proponents of the measure express:
  • Timeliness of providing assistance to the veteranos as they are in their 80s & 90s. ...[A]t the congressional hearing in 2007, approximately 10-12 veteranos were in attendance. However, at the September 2008 markup hearing for the lump-sum bill, only 2 veteranos attended, sadly one of whom passed in December."
So these are the essential questions:

Is the recently passed Filipino Veterans legislation enough to redress the injustice inflicted by the 1946 Recession Act? And, if not, will there ever be a more sufficient bill that will pass?

Regardless if this bill fully recognizes and redresses the 1946 Recession Act, the Recession Act itself and the subsequent political movement of Filipino Veterans, community organizations, academics, students, and political groups stands as a testament and provides a teaching moment about the complex and dynamic nature of not only Filipino political issues, but the broader U.S. legislative process.

Where there is injustice, there is always resistance. So expect this topic--regardless of the new legislation--to still be expressed in the milieu of Filipino resistance art. In "Back Home," Geo may say, "I don't wanna keep singin this song," but it looks like artists will still keep singin this song, now with bittersweet tones.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Hip hip pioneer Nasty Nes in a hospital bed?

Hip hop pioneer DJ Nasty Nes--the Crazy Pinoy, the better half of Sir-Mix-a-Lot shows, and the first to bring hip hop to the radio on the West Coast--is laying on a hospital bed?

Yes, Nes made his acting debut last Thursday on the NBC series ER. I think he got punched in the face at a club or something, and swallowed his own teeth, yuck.

Anyways, if you want to learn about hip hop history, Nes is the man to go to. We honored him at 17th Annual FPAC last year, but nothing can really measure the impact he has made in the hip hop world. Pre KDAY (a famous hip hop radio station in the LA area; since last year is now defunct), Nes was there pumping rap into Seattle college radio. Pinoy roots in rap foreals.

Prometheus Brown
gives us a real Nasty gem with this KFOX Fresh Tracks (1985) mix. As always, Nes provides a hilarious dialogue as he battle scratches with Sir-Mix-a-Lot. Beware, there is a lot of 1980's-style scratching.

Check out Nes's webzine Rap Attack Lives. After many decades of dedication to hip hop, he's out there going strong for the culture. That's what I call the bidness.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: It's Butta, baby

KJ Butta flexin at Yuko Entertainment, home of the Cerritos Allstars Live Mix Show

Been lookin for good music? DJ KJ Butta always delivers the hot mixes. He is on steady rotation on my shuffle. Download his joints here.

As a native of Cerritos, CA (and now a transplant in NY), Butta was a major player in the Fil Am mobile DJ/turntablism scene in the 90s. His DJ crew Grand Groove was a dominant force in the area. He eventually united rival DJ crews to create the now internationally famous Cerritos All Stars. His 90s hip hop background is evident in his mixes. I think his music sensibilities stays true to a "boom-bap" 90s hip hop aesthetic, but he also interweaves it with a neo-soul theme. He plays John Legend, Platinum Pied Pipers, and Erykah Badu alongside Lootpack, Dialated Peoples, and Dilla. Honestly, half the artists he lays down on these mixes I have no clue who they are. That's why I'm spotlighting him because I think he has an ear for quality joints.

Pulling from the Cerritos All Stars website, here is a little snippet of his role in the creation of CAS, which produces probably the best, longest running online hip hop mix show:

"By the time the mid to early 90s materialized, the Cerritos D.J. scene was dominated by three groups: Audio FX, Grand Groove, Icon Events. The competition between the three groups was intense, and claimed more than a few lives. The future of Hip Hop looked grim, until D.J. Butta of Grand Groove decided to put an end to the silliness, and unite the three powerhouses. The troika put away their differences and united, behind the Funky President, becoming the Cerritos All Stars."

Butta was also the Director of Sales for the popular Mixwell fashion clothing and helped it become an international brand. So the next time you're at a hip hop event and see a fool wearin a Mixwell shirt, yup, Butta is the marketing mind behind that fashion line.

Butta is also compelling because he seems to bridge the deep-rooted Filipino mobile DJ scene with the newer radical, protest soundscape of current hip hop created by Fil Ams. He became exposed to the latter after he linked up with members of the poetry group Balagtasan Collective, a Pinay/oy troupe in LA which many of today's Angeleno artists grew (Kiwi, Bambu, Kat Carrido, Alfie Numeric, Johneric) out of. He evokes a variety of genres in the Fil Am hip hop tradition. Cleverly (almost subversively), he inserts a lesson-giving Native Guns, Bambu, Kiwi, and/or Blue Scholars track into his mixes. Oftentimes, especially with Bambu, Butta drops an unheard of, non-album track that I guess is only available on his mixtapes. I love, love, love the Bambu/Lauren Santiago on Butta's "Transitions Mix."

Bambu and Butta at Pop Burger in Manhattan

DJ KJ Butta spins at Pop Burger in Manhattan. Me, Boogie Brown from the Get Down, and Kristia from Doorknockers stopped by to say hi to him over the summer. Hooked us up with some burgers and drank. Roll through and see him every Thursday and Saturday night.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

[Re]Presentation of the Filipin@ American

The KabaCon is coming! If you're near Orange County, CA on Saturday, February 28th then swing by the 10th Annual Kababayan Conference at UC Irvine. The venue is at the Student Center and registration begins at 9:00am. Pre-registration is $3, day-or registration is $5.

The conference is titled "The [Re]Presentation of the Filipino American." Kinda sounds intriguing, no?

The conference's featured presentations:

"Hip Hop: The Filipino American Impact on Hip Hop culture, and Hip Hop's Influence on Filipino American Culture" with Bambu & Krishtine De Leon (EyeASage)

"The Historical Experiences of Filipin@ Immigrants in the 1920s-1930s" with Linda Maram (professor at Long Beach State and author of Creating Masculinity in Los Angeles's Little Manila)

"Pinoy Pop: Aesthetics and Style in Contemporary Filipino Culture" with Christine Balance (musician, member of The Jack Lords, writer for OH! Industry webzine, and professor at UC Irvine)

"The Current and Historical Portrayal of Filipin@ Americans in American Media"
with Patricio Ginelsa & AJ Calomay (Xylophone Films & Kid Heroes Production)

"Filipino American and Chicano American Migrant Workers Experience"
with Gilbert Gonzales (professor at UC Irvine)

"PCN: The Filipino American Cultural Phenomena Its Origins, the Subculture Created, and How It Has Become an Outlet for Original Expression" with Xavier Hernandez (SF State Graduate Student)

(Those are some long ass titles)

Conference Performances:

Rhythm Natives

Kuttin Kandi

Son of Ran

The line-up looks nice. And the keynote speaker? It's none other than yo boy talking about some mess: "Yes! The Rhythm, The Rebel! Filipino Funky Hybridity and the Magic Trick of U.S. Empire" (and that's not a long ass title?)

And, later on the very same day, you need to check out my man Tad Nakamura's new film, "A Song for Ourselves" in Little Tokyo. Tad chronicles the art, activism, and passion of the late, great Chris Iijima, who sang the songs of revolution during the Asian American movement in the 1960s. I like how Tad ties in the art of the pioneers like Chris with the hip hop of Filipinos today. By the way, Bambu, Kiwi, and Blue Scholars will be performing after the screening (what!).