Monday, March 23, 2009

Chasing Betty / Forming the Brotherhood

Remember this song? Did you know DJ Rhettmatic was a part of the group, Brotherhood Creed? A man of many affiliations I suppose. And interestingly, that's the Cerritos Mall that those folks are housing (the dance) in.

I'm telling you, the early 90s is coming back. The late 80s (via Kanye 'n em) is already here (minus the biking shorts), but can't wait till the Jnco, Cross Colors, unstrapped overalls come back. And those round glasses with the shades that flip up.

Now to the point of this post. I was listening to Cerritos All Stars Live Mix Show the other day, and they played a couple of songs with Betty Wright's famous "Tonight is the Night" sample. One of the songs was Brotherhood Creed's "Helluva," a Southern California jam back in like 1990 (?), not to be confused with "Heluva Good" the dip.
Maybe its Swedish?

Anyway, immediately after "Helluva" they played another song, and I can't figure out the artist. Like "Helluva," this song uses Wright's "Tonight is the Night" sample, but its a new song that came out very recently. Help me figure out who.

I thought it would be fun to try and list all the songs out there that sample the ever-so-popular "Tonight is the Night." Could it be the most sampled song (not artist) out there (Planet Rock should be somewhere up there)?* Whatever the case may be, help me "chase Betty" and add to this list...
"Chase Me"

Hip Hop songs that use "Tonight is the Night" samples:

1. Brotherhood Creed- "Helluva"
2. Lighter Shade of Brown- "On a Sunday Afternoon"
3. DJ Quik- "Tonite"
4. Color Me Badd "I Wanna Sex You Up" (incidentally, Wright sued them for royalties)
5. Candy Man- "Knockin the Boots"

(New) 6. Solo- "Heaven" (uses the same bass melody)

On a related note, I interviewed Ty (I hope that spelling is correct) from Brotherhood Creed back in 2006 in front of Zentro Bistro (now the O Bar) in Cerritos during Mark and Gloria Pulido's "Old School 80s" wedding anniversary jam. Below is an excerpt from that interview. Ty talks about Filipino involvement in the hip hop scene in Cerritos, the forming of Brotherhood Creed, and Miss "Helluva" Mexipina in the video! Try not to mind the crazy drunk 80s-generation Pin@ys in the background.

And the grand prize goes to anyone who knows where Miss "Helluva" Mexipina from the video is nowadays? Start searchin...
*I take that back. "Apache" is probably way up there.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Epic from East to West: Deep Foundation lays it down

This is an epic and visionary video for our Filipino brothas in hip hop. The homey CJ the DJ from Deep Foundation got me hip to the original "Children of the Sun" song during the summer. Shit was coo. But this remix video below is pure fire. Has a classic Wu Tang, tag-team emcee feel (and is a strong 7.5 half minutes long!). Finally, the East Coast (Deep Foundation hails from NY) and the West (Kiwi, Nomi, etc.) connect. And they even take it to the Philippines... Yankees fitted, Mike Dream murals, puffy jackets, Beatrock tees, fighting cocks, tricycles...the beautiful regional images abound. From coast to coast, shore to shore, can't wait to see what else these folks got in store.

With our powers combined...

Read more about it:
The Deconstruction of Kiwi Illafonte: "Video: Children of the Sun Remix" (with Kiwi's lyrics)

Bambu's Rants: "...all good.." (with shocking news!)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Rhythm and the Rebels: Rap's changing political engagement over generations

"Stay calm, there's no need for alarm
You say goodbye to your mom
And you're off to Vietnam.
You shoot to kill
Come back and you're a veteran.
But how many veterans
Are out there peddling?"
("Stop the Violence" by Boogie Down Productions)

In the song "Stop the Violence" (circ. 1988?) by Boogie Down Productions, rapper KRS-One opens the song by singing:

"One, two, three, the crew is called BDP. And if you want to go to the tip-top. Stop the violence in hip hop, why oooh!"

Mos Def of Black Star chanting the late 90s anthem

Ten years later, in the song(s) "Re: Definition" (and also "Definition") by Black Star, Mos Def sings:

"One, two, three, Mos Def and Talib Kweli. We came to rock in on to the tip-top. Best alliance in hip hop, why ooh oh!"

The lyrical sampling occurring between Mos and KRS-One is an homage technique that has been used in hip hop since its mythical beginning. Along with the aesthetic resonance that sampling allows, often the reverberations in content points to intentional recitation of form and content that shapes newer work. That being said, many of us who are fans of BDP and Black Star immediately notice the shared political engagement these artists weave into their songs--issues of drugs, self-love, political empowerment, conspiracy-laden critiques of the government and the elite, etc.

In 1988, a decade in which many young people in college today were not yet born, KRS-One references the war in Vietnam, an event which was still in people's consciousness during the 80s, especially in some instances when young men of color served and came back to be immersed in the bubbling hip hop culture. Yes, some people of the so-called "hip hop generation" are now in their 40s and even their 50s, and yes, some may have served in Vietnam. As an interesting side story, Rachel Maddow (MSNBC) was on David Letterman's show on Monday night. Maddow mentioned she used to host a radio show with Chuck D of Public Enemy, and suggested that Obama and Chuck D are roughly the same age. But I will talk about Obama in a bit. (For fun, here is Public Enemy performing on Jimmy Fallon's show. Still relevant baby!)

Chuck D on "DL Hughley Breaks the News"

Sometimes I ask some young people what they know about Rodney King and the 1992 LA Riots. I usually get blank stares. For hip hop during the 90s, the racial/class tensions related to the LA Riots (and notable boycotts in other urban areas) were near staple for the hip hop soundscape. In fact, gangsta rap preceded the 92 urban unrest. Therefore, hip hop's political environment reverberated along very different (and I'm not valuing it as "better" or "worse") themes than they do today.

Rodney King beating by LAPD, that ignited a generation's fire

With Black Star's late 90s hip hop anthems ("From the first to the last of it, delivery is passionate, the hole and not the half of it" whaaaat!!), I think that Black Star's generational cohort demonstrates a "bridge" that connects the 80s political canvas with the emerging millennium music. The chant "One, two, three..." exemplifies this bridge. To be certain, material from the 80s and 90s still echos today. Generations are never so distinct, but I think certain songs, groups, and anthems point to "road markers" that give character to various eras.

So, what can be said about the ending of the first decade of the millennium? What are the "hip hop political themes" of an Obama generation?

Some emcees, such as Bambu, take a cautious stance on our current era. He reminds us that we must always be critical of power, even if we identify with elite leadership. He rhymes, "Exact Change":

"Now a generation thinks we all act like Flava Flav.
Maybe they associate us all with that
Overlook it cuz a presidential candidate is Black.
Never mind the fact that prison numbers is ridiculous..."

...and also in "Like Us":

"I know what they really think about me.
A Black president will never change what Americans see."

Is Bambu correct in suggesting an Obama generation will not erase the "on the ground" race-consciousness/conspicuousness that people of color live through daily? After listening to so much hip hop before and after President Obama's election victory (from Dres of Black Sheep, to Nas, to Zion I), I am wondering if the resistant and defiant politics of hip hop of the 80s, 90s, up to the late 2000s are forming into something new. But what is it?

After we celebrate, breakdance on the floor, and pop bottles for Obama, will hip hop deploy those staple themes of defiance against the power elite? For hip hop, can there be a "Vietnam" or "Rodney King" in an Obama generation?

Let em have it.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Rest in Power Francis M.

I have to admit I don't know much about hip hop in the Philippines. I seem to focus exclusively on hip hop and Filipinos in the States. And, much like Kiwi suggests in his blog below, as a U.S. Filipino I have misconceptions about the "quality" of hip hop in the Philippines. I have much to learn and appreciate about hip hop there, and Francis M. looks like the dude I should (all Fil Ams should) get to know.

So it is very sad that he passed away today after a battle with Leukemia. I know its some dumb cliche shit to appreciate a rapper more when he's gone, but I think Francis M. is the one rapper in the Philippines to study hard, especially because his career has lasted so long, for more than two decades.

Many people in the States might not know, but there is a vibrant hip hop culture in the Philippines. The folks at SoulSonic can testify to that. So check em out and show love.

For now, here are some articles, including Kiwi's, to give you a little more background on Francis M.--his rich contributions to hip hop, to the people of the Philippines, and to life.

Francis M. and Kiwi in the Philippines, 2007

"...After that night, I remember going back and borrowing (okay, stealing) all of my homie’s Francis M songs. It took me a minute to figure out the tagalog, but I understood. These songs were about the people. The kababayan. Our struggle. And not just on one or two songs neither. And the youth I work with, who grew up to your music, when they speak of you with reverence and respect, I understand why. I would probably speak of Chuck D or KRS ONE in the same way. I would probably speak of some of our local elder activists in the same way..." CONTINUE READING

From SoulSonic:

"Francis Magalona passed away today at around 12 noon after battling Leukemia for almost 7 months. The whole hip-hop community is now mourning for the death of an icon. Condolence to his family and loved ones - SoulSonic" CONTINUE READING


"Francis M, a trailblazer of music and fashion in the Philippines, has passed away after an arduous struggle with leukemia. Known in his native homeland by the title of Master Rapper, Francis M (Francis Magalona) inspired strong patriotism among his country’s youth throughout a celebrated career spanning Hip-Hop, movies, fashion, and photography." CONTINUE READING

*New from Prometheus Brown (with music):

"Rest in Power, Francis M (1964-2009). A lo-fi tribute to The Man From Manila, the King of Filipino Rap. Ang lahat ng aking musika, dahil sa likhang impluensya ka. Isulong mo, isulong ko!" CONTINUE READING

*New new from Doorknockers:

"...Crowned as the godfather of Filipino hip hop, Francis M doesn't just get props cause he was the first to push hip hip into the mainstream. He gets props cause unlike everybody else he was on some truly 'for us, by us' shit." CONTINUE READING

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Bambu- tatted up on VIMBY

Daps from Thaswassup: "New video from my dude Bambu! This guy has more videos than Lil Wayne mixtapes."

Very true.

After getting a fresh tat from Dream Jungle, Bam spits an ill poem at the end of this video.

"Nothing in the world could prepare you for this.
Peace to the shoes off that Iraqi journalist.
You seen that shit?
That muthafucka cocked back and flung both size tens.
We need to get live like him..."


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Kaba Modern: 1992 to 2009

Step Up! A night of Pin@y dancers in Hollywood
Fil Am Famous: Is dance how we'll "get noticed"?
Guest Article: Filipino America's best dance crew

As a gesture to the culmination of the 3rd season of America's Best Dance Crew, I am posting a few photos (by way of Matt Nailat) from the Kaba Modern tryouts that happened on February 12 at UC Irvine. Choreographed hip hop dance has come a long way since 1992, when Kaba Modern was inaugurated. A whole chunk of this choreographed dance movement can be attributed to Kaba Modern--its origins, dancers, choreographers, and social spaces--hands down.

I first wrote about Kaba Modern on ABDC here. Since then, I have learned so much about the logistics and context of why there were no Filipino dancers included (look at the comments in the posting). Actually, the judges at the Kaba Modern tryouts clarified the situation sufficiently, and two of the Filipino dancers that were supposed to be on MTV were judges. Much props.


The founder of Kaba Modern Arnel Calvario giving a run down of Kaba Modern history before the competition tryouts begin.

The judges introduce themselves. Kimmy Maniquis, far left, coordinated for KM for 4 years in the late 90s and choreographed the dance scene in The Debut. Remember this?--->

KM coordinators from the past year perform two routines--one for males, another for females. Contestants then emulate the dances in front of the judges. Contestants prepared at KM workshops weeks beforehand.

These KM contestants mean business.

And the winners prevail: Kaba Modern 2009.

(Special thanks to Matt Nailat)

On a related note, this Saturday, March 7th is the Kababayan 35th Anniversary Gala and Scholarship Dinner at the Atrium Hotel in Irvine. Keep alive the Filipino roots in Kaba Modern yall! See you there!