HIP HOP TOUR: Afrika Bambaataa (Zulu Nation Founder) heading to Australia & NZ for 30th Anniversary Tour of Planet Rock


DJ AFRIKA BAMBAATAA AUSTRALIA & NZ TOUR
30th Anniversary Tour of Planet Rock

Auckland – Thursday May 9 @ Studio
Wellington – Friday May 10 @ Bodega
Melbourne – Saturday May 11 @ Laundry
Hobart – Sunday May 12 @ Republic
Canberra – Wednesday May 15 @ Transit Bar
Sydney – Thursday May 16 @ Oxford Art Factory
Brisbane – Friday May 17 @ Hifi
Perth – Saturday May 18 @ The Bakery
Adelaide – Sunday May 19 @ Sugar

TICKETS ON SALE: Monday 11 March

Named by LIFE Magazine as one of the most important Americans of the 20th Century, DJ AFRIKA BAMBAATAA is a musical visionary, DJ extraordinaire, living legend and founder of the Universal Zulu Nation – a collective of socially and politically aware emcees, DJs, graffiti artists and break dancers. With over 35 years trailblazin’ around the world, Bam, as he’s affectionately known, can almost single-handedly be credited for the urban music revolution – redefining music and culture as we know it today. In fact, Bam is the person responsible for coining the term “Hip Hop” in reference to this global movement.

The man behind Hip Hop/Electro Funk classic ‘Planet Rock’ over the years has co-produced and performed with the likes of James Brown, George Clinton, UB40, Fort Knox Five, Leftfield, Jungle Brothers and A Tribe Called Quest among many others.

Bam’s futuristic soundscapes became a major influence in the development of not only hip-hop, but have also been instrumental in laying the foundation for Breaks, Electro, Freestyle, Techno and House music. “Planet Rock” has become arguably the most sampled song in music history, having been remixed and sampled by the likes of Paul Oakenfold, Westbam, George Acosta, LL Cool J, Mariah Carey and countless others. Rap/Metal band Rage Against The Machine also famously covered Bam’s track ‘Renegades of Funk’.

Still extremely active, Bam continues to record, tour and educate, maintaining his status as a living legend and forefather of the art. In 2006, Bam was honored for his incredible achievements by American music channel VH1 at the annual ‘Hip Hip Honors’ show and in 2007; he was nominated for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. More recently, Bam accepted an appointment as visiting scholar at Cornell University where he speaks to classes, meets with students, community groups and performs the music he helped create and expand.

This is a not-to-be-missed opportunity to sample what a New York City Block Party is all about, live and direct from the Boogie Down Bronx! Be immersed in the knowledge of a master, icon and living treasure that is DJ AFRIKA BAMBAATAA.

www.zulunation.com
www.zulu61.com

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DOCUMENTARY: PLANET ROCK: THE STORY OF HIP HOP & THE CRACK GENERATION (FULL VIDEO)


Snoop Dogg

Snoop Dogg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Planet Rock

Planet Rock: The Story of Hip-Hop and the Crack Generation (TV 2011)

A look at the rise of crack cocaine in urban America in the 1980s and it’s influence on popular culture, especially in hip-hop music.

Narrated by Ice T

This documentary focused on the cocaine generation to the crack generation. It seemed that young African Americans living in poverty had no choice but to get involved in illegal drugs, either as users and/or as dealers. At first it seemed to be a cool and sexy drug, but then people start to get burned out and problems start. This film took a surprising turn when they focused on the law enforcement and political side to the story. For many, hip hop was the only way out of the drug game. They do focus a lot on the hip hop side and they go in depth about what they are rapping about. Many hip hop artists were drug dealers and now they rap about their past experiences. Most are still stuck in the drug game and have no way out besides jail or death. You get interviews from Ice-T, Snoop Dogg, Pepa, Too $hort, Freeway Ricky Ross, Azie, B-Real, RZA, Raekwon, and more. This documentary makes me think back on my favorites songs and I can find some hidden messages from artists such as KRS-One, Rakim, Ice-T, Kurtis Blow, Kool Moe Deep, LL Cool J, and more. This film was interesting and fun and I recommend it to anyone who is interested or ignorant about hip hop and black culture.

Featuring:

Too $hort
Michelle Alexander

B-Real
Mary Barr
Todd Boyd
Paul Butler

Cheo Hodari Coker

Barry Michael Cooper

Chuck D.

Sandra ‘Pepa’ Denton

Snoop Dogg
Azie Faison Jr.
Paul Foster

Nelson George
Michael Isikoff
Donald James
Harry Levine
Dan Lungren

Melle Mel
Betty Moore
Ethan Nadelmann

Richard Price
Raekwon
Freeway Ricky Ross

RZA
Malik Spellman
Robert Stutman

Ahmir-Khalib Thompson
Terry Williams
Corene Wilson

English: Mug shot of Snoop Dogg.

English: Mug shot of Snoop Dogg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NY Times: ‘The Heritage of Kraftwerk on Funk & Techno, Dec 4 09


By MIKE RUBIN
Published: December 4, 2009

IT was at a party in 1970 that Ralf Hütter first glimpsed the potential power of the Man Machine. Kraftwerk, the avant-garde musical group he had founded that year with Florian Schneider in Düsseldorf, Germany, was playing a concert at the opening of an art gallery, a typical gig at the time. Trying to channel the energy of the Detroit bands it admired, like the Stooges and MC5, the duo had augmented its usual arsenal of Mr. Schneider’s flute and Mr. Hütter’s electric organ with a tape recorder and a little drum machine, and they were whipping the crowd into a frenzy with loops of feedback and a flurry of synthetic beats.

As the show climaxed, Mr. Hütter recalled: “I pressed some keys down on my keyboard, putting some weight down on the keys, and we left the stage. The audience at the party was so wild, they kept dancing to the machine.”

Thus began a careerlong obsession with the fusion of man and technology. It would take four more years (and three largely instrumental records of electro-acoustic improvisation) before Kraftwerk heralded the coming of electronic pop on its landmark 1974 album “Autobahn,” and another four years before the members proclaimed themselves automatons on “The Robots,” the band’s de facto theme song from 1978’s “The Man-Machine” album. But even in 1970 the hum of what Mr. Hütter calls electrodynamics was buzzing in his veins.

“This rhythm, industrial rhythm, that’s what inspires me,” Mr. Hütter, 63, said. “It’s in the nature of the machines. Machines are funky.”

Few bands have done more to promote that once incongruous concept than Kraftwerk. Though its image shifted over the years from conservatory longhairs to Weimar-era dandies to stylized mannequin machines, it consistently provided a blueprint for the circuitry of modern pop music. David Bowie, an early adapter, channeled the band’s chilly vibes for his late ’70s “Berlin Trilogy,” and in the early 1980s synth pop groups like Human League and Depeche Mode followed suit.

Kraftwerk also became the unlikely godfather of American hip-hop and black electronic dance music, inspiring pioneers in the South Bronx and Detroit. Today Kraftwerk’s resonance can be heard in works as varied as Radiohead and the Auto-Tuned hip-hop of Kanye West and T-Pain.

“Kraftwerk were a huge influence on the early hip-hop scene, and they basically invented electro, which has had a huge influence on contemporary R&B and pop,” the techno artist Moby said. “Kraftwerk are to contemporary electronic music what the Beatles and the Rolling Stones are to contemporary rock music.”

Yet 35 years after “Autobahn” Kraftwerk remains relatively anonymous, thanks largely to a carefully crafted cloak of secrecy, one that an hourlong phone conversation last month with Mr. Hütter from Kraftwerk’s Kling Klang Studio outside Düsseldorf failed to penetrate significantly. On topics ranging from the band’s creative hibernation of the last quarter-century (only two albums of new material since 1981’s “Computer World”) to Mr. Schneider’s departure from the group late last year, Mr. Hütter was pleasant but revealed little. “It’s important for me that the music speak for itself,” he said.

This month the music should do just that with the release of “The Catalogue” (Astralwerks/EMI), a boxed set of newly remastered versions of the band’s last eight albums, beginning with “Autobahn” and including all of the records with the so-called classic Kraftwerk lineup: Mr. Hütter, Mr. Schneider and the electronic percussionists Wolfgang Flur and Karl Bartos. (Five of the remastered albums are also available individually.) Like Mr. Hütter’s infrequent interviews, “The Catalogue” doesn’t divulge much that fans don’t already know. There are no liner notes, no unreleased tracks, no digital mini-documentaries, just some additional photos and revised album graphics.

The music, however, is much more generous. The remasters render Kraftwerk’s glistening, icy textures even more shimmering and crystalline, the repetition more entrancing. “Autobahn,” for example, welds a bouncy Beach Boys harmony to the hypnotic 4/4 motorik beat pioneered by the German band Neu! (whose Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother were part of an early Kraftwerk lineup) to create a 22-minute synthesizer symphony evoking a pleasant highway drive. (A three-minute edit of the song reached No. 25 on Billboard’s singles chart in 1975, the group’s only hit in the United States.)

“For the first time, I think the music sounds the way we always heard it and produced it in our Kling Klang Studio,” Mr. Hütter said.

After “Autobahn,” albums like “Radio-Activity” (1976) and “Trans-Europe Express” (1977) further refined the group’s experimental pop sensibility. Borrowing from the German tradition of sprechgesang, or spoken singing, Mr. Hütter’s flat, affectless voice — sometimes treated with a vocoder to further dehumanize it — is an odd match for the band’s lilting music-box melodies. “What I try to do on the synthesizers,” Mr. Hütter said, “is sing with my fingers.”

But for some critics the group’s synthetic songs just didn’t compute. “Fun plus dinky doesn’t make funky no matter who’s dancing to what program,” Robert Christgau wrote of “Computer World” in The Village Voice. “Funk has blood in it.”

Such distinctions didn’t seem to matter to club crowds: New York’s downtown scene embraced the group. François Kevorkian, a D.J. at underground clubs in the late ’70s and early ’80s, would use Kraftwerk to blend tracks by Fela Kuti and Babatunde Olatunji into his sets. “What was really remarkable was that their music was getting played just as much at Paradise Garage as it was getting played at the Mudd Club, and there were very, very few records that had that ability to cross over between all the different scenes,” said Mr. Kevorkian, who would later work with the band on its “Electric Cafe” album. “Kraftwerk was, like, universal.”

Kraftwerk had long been a staple of the D.J. sets of Afrika Bambaataa in the South Bronx, and in 1982 he and the producer Arthur Baker decided to combine the melody from “Trans-Europe Express” (which Mr. Baker had noticed kids playing on boom boxes in a Long Island City, Queens, park) and the rhythm pattern of “Numbers” (which Mr. Baker had seen wow customers at a Brooklyn record store). The result was the pioneering 12-inch single “Planet Rock” by Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force.

“I’m trying to remember a record that created that much mayhem on the dance floor when it first came out, and I can’t,” Mr. Kevorkian said of the reaction to “Planet Rock.” Most early hip-hop songs were slow, “from 90 beats per minute to 110,” Mr. Bambaataa said. “We went to 130 beats per minute, and from that came Latin freestyle, Miami bass and all that.”

“All that” encompassed an entirely new genre, electro, which paved an alternate route for hip-hop. It’s hard to imagine the productions of Timbaland or the Neptunes without the innovations of “Planet Rock,” and its repercussions can still be heard the world over, from Bay Area hyphy to Brazilian baile funk.

The roots of techno wind their way back to Düsseldorf too. In Detroit the radio D.J. Charles Johnson — better known as the Electrifying Mojo — built a fervent following on the urban contemporary station WGPR-FM in the late ’70s and early ’80s by ignoring the rigid formatting of other local stations. He had fished a copy of “Autobahn” out of the discard bin at a previous station and soon acquired a copy of “Trans-Europe Express.” “It was the most hypnotic, funkiest, electronic fusion energy I’d ever heard,” Mr. Johnson said. Kraftwerk became a staple of Mojo’s show “The Midnight Funk Association.” When “Computer World” came out, Mr. Johnson played almost every song on the album each night, making a lasting impression on a generation of musicians.

“Before I heard ‘The Robots’ I wasn’t really using sequencers and I was playing everything by hand, so it sounded really organic, really flowing, really loose,” the Detroit D.J. and producer Juan Atkins said. “That really made me research getting into sequencing, to give everything that real tight robotic feel.”

Over the next several years Mr. Atkins, along with his high school friends Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson, would become the pioneers of techno, which Mr. May once famously described as being “like George Clinton and Kraftwerk caught in an elevator with only a sequencer to keep them company.”

Techno would eventually explode internationally in 1988, with raves in London and trance in Goa, India. Back in Detroit, “Computer World” would assume the status of a sacred text. Kraftwerk was “considered like gods,” said Carl Craig, a Detroit techno producer. “Black people could relate to it because it was like James Brown. It was just this kind of relentless groove.” Mad Mike Banks, founder of the Detroit techno collective Underground Resistance, said he considered the song “Numbers,” from “Computer World,” the “secret code of electronic funk.”

“That track hit home in Detroit so hard,” Mr. Banks said. “They had just created the perfect urban music because it was controlled chaos, and that’s exactly what we live in.”

For Kraftwerk it’s a civic connection that has come full circle. In the last decade Mr. Hütter has developed relationships with some Detroit artists he inspired, including Mr. Banks. It seems to be a kind of “brotherhood, like Düsseldorf and Detroit,” Mr. Hütter said, saying he’s fascinated “that this music from two industrial centers of the world, with different cultures and different history, suddenly there’s an inspiration and a flow going back and forth. It’s fantastic.

“All this positive energy, this feedback coming back to me, is charging our battery, and now we’re full of energy. It keeps my Ralf robot going.”

Indeed, compared with Kraftwerk’s near invisibility throughout most of the ’80s and ’90s, the last few years have seen a relative flurry of Kraftwerk activity. Laptops have allowed the group to take its Kling Klang Studio on the road, so it has been touring regularly, adding 3-D graphics to the live show this year. Now that “The Catalogue” is completed, Mr. Hütter has promised a new Kraftwerk album soon, which would mark the band’s first recording without Mr. Schneider. If Mr. Hütter has any reservations about working without his musical partner of four decades, he kept them to himself; perhaps robots are incapable of showing emotion?

“There’s so much to do,” Mr. Hütter said. “I feel like we are just starting.”

NY Times: 'The Heritage of Kraftwerk on Funk & Techno, Dec 4 09


By MIKE RUBIN
Published: December 4, 2009

IT was at a party in 1970 that Ralf Hütter first glimpsed the potential power of the Man Machine. Kraftwerk, the avant-garde musical group he had founded that year with Florian Schneider in Düsseldorf, Germany, was playing a concert at the opening of an art gallery, a typical gig at the time. Trying to channel the energy of the Detroit bands it admired, like the Stooges and MC5, the duo had augmented its usual arsenal of Mr. Schneider’s flute and Mr. Hütter’s electric organ with a tape recorder and a little drum machine, and they were whipping the crowd into a frenzy with loops of feedback and a flurry of synthetic beats.

As the show climaxed, Mr. Hütter recalled: “I pressed some keys down on my keyboard, putting some weight down on the keys, and we left the stage. The audience at the party was so wild, they kept dancing to the machine.”

Thus began a careerlong obsession with the fusion of man and technology. It would take four more years (and three largely instrumental records of electro-acoustic improvisation) before Kraftwerk heralded the coming of electronic pop on its landmark 1974 album “Autobahn,” and another four years before the members proclaimed themselves automatons on “The Robots,” the band’s de facto theme song from 1978’s “The Man-Machine” album. But even in 1970 the hum of what Mr. Hütter calls electrodynamics was buzzing in his veins.

“This rhythm, industrial rhythm, that’s what inspires me,” Mr. Hütter, 63, said. “It’s in the nature of the machines. Machines are funky.”

Few bands have done more to promote that once incongruous concept than Kraftwerk. Though its image shifted over the years from conservatory longhairs to Weimar-era dandies to stylized mannequin machines, it consistently provided a blueprint for the circuitry of modern pop music. David Bowie, an early adapter, channeled the band’s chilly vibes for his late ’70s “Berlin Trilogy,” and in the early 1980s synth pop groups like Human League and Depeche Mode followed suit.

Kraftwerk also became the unlikely godfather of American hip-hop and black electronic dance music, inspiring pioneers in the South Bronx and Detroit. Today Kraftwerk’s resonance can be heard in works as varied as Radiohead and the Auto-Tuned hip-hop of Kanye West and T-Pain.

“Kraftwerk were a huge influence on the early hip-hop scene, and they basically invented electro, which has had a huge influence on contemporary R&B and pop,” the techno artist Moby said. “Kraftwerk are to contemporary electronic music what the Beatles and the Rolling Stones are to contemporary rock music.”

Yet 35 years after “Autobahn” Kraftwerk remains relatively anonymous, thanks largely to a carefully crafted cloak of secrecy, one that an hourlong phone conversation last month with Mr. Hütter from Kraftwerk’s Kling Klang Studio outside Düsseldorf failed to penetrate significantly. On topics ranging from the band’s creative hibernation of the last quarter-century (only two albums of new material since 1981’s “Computer World”) to Mr. Schneider’s departure from the group late last year, Mr. Hütter was pleasant but revealed little. “It’s important for me that the music speak for itself,” he said.

This month the music should do just that with the release of “The Catalogue” (Astralwerks/EMI), a boxed set of newly remastered versions of the band’s last eight albums, beginning with “Autobahn” and including all of the records with the so-called classic Kraftwerk lineup: Mr. Hütter, Mr. Schneider and the electronic percussionists Wolfgang Flur and Karl Bartos. (Five of the remastered albums are also available individually.) Like Mr. Hütter’s infrequent interviews, “The Catalogue” doesn’t divulge much that fans don’t already know. There are no liner notes, no unreleased tracks, no digital mini-documentaries, just some additional photos and revised album graphics.

The music, however, is much more generous. The remasters render Kraftwerk’s glistening, icy textures even more shimmering and crystalline, the repetition more entrancing. “Autobahn,” for example, welds a bouncy Beach Boys harmony to the hypnotic 4/4 motorik beat pioneered by the German band Neu! (whose Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother were part of an early Kraftwerk lineup) to create a 22-minute synthesizer symphony evoking a pleasant highway drive. (A three-minute edit of the song reached No. 25 on Billboard’s singles chart in 1975, the group’s only hit in the United States.)

“For the first time, I think the music sounds the way we always heard it and produced it in our Kling Klang Studio,” Mr. Hütter said.

After “Autobahn,” albums like “Radio-Activity” (1976) and “Trans-Europe Express” (1977) further refined the group’s experimental pop sensibility. Borrowing from the German tradition of sprechgesang, or spoken singing, Mr. Hütter’s flat, affectless voice — sometimes treated with a vocoder to further dehumanize it — is an odd match for the band’s lilting music-box melodies. “What I try to do on the synthesizers,” Mr. Hütter said, “is sing with my fingers.”

But for some critics the group’s synthetic songs just didn’t compute. “Fun plus dinky doesn’t make funky no matter who’s dancing to what program,” Robert Christgau wrote of “Computer World” in The Village Voice. “Funk has blood in it.”

Such distinctions didn’t seem to matter to club crowds: New York’s downtown scene embraced the group. François Kevorkian, a D.J. at underground clubs in the late ’70s and early ’80s, would use Kraftwerk to blend tracks by Fela Kuti and Babatunde Olatunji into his sets. “What was really remarkable was that their music was getting played just as much at Paradise Garage as it was getting played at the Mudd Club, and there were very, very few records that had that ability to cross over between all the different scenes,” said Mr. Kevorkian, who would later work with the band on its “Electric Cafe” album. “Kraftwerk was, like, universal.”

Kraftwerk had long been a staple of the D.J. sets of Afrika Bambaataa in the South Bronx, and in 1982 he and the producer Arthur Baker decided to combine the melody from “Trans-Europe Express” (which Mr. Baker had noticed kids playing on boom boxes in a Long Island City, Queens, park) and the rhythm pattern of “Numbers” (which Mr. Baker had seen wow customers at a Brooklyn record store). The result was the pioneering 12-inch single “Planet Rock” by Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force.

“I’m trying to remember a record that created that much mayhem on the dance floor when it first came out, and I can’t,” Mr. Kevorkian said of the reaction to “Planet Rock.” Most early hip-hop songs were slow, “from 90 beats per minute to 110,” Mr. Bambaataa said. “We went to 130 beats per minute, and from that came Latin freestyle, Miami bass and all that.”

“All that” encompassed an entirely new genre, electro, which paved an alternate route for hip-hop. It’s hard to imagine the productions of Timbaland or the Neptunes without the innovations of “Planet Rock,” and its repercussions can still be heard the world over, from Bay Area hyphy to Brazilian baile funk.

The roots of techno wind their way back to Düsseldorf too. In Detroit the radio D.J. Charles Johnson — better known as the Electrifying Mojo — built a fervent following on the urban contemporary station WGPR-FM in the late ’70s and early ’80s by ignoring the rigid formatting of other local stations. He had fished a copy of “Autobahn” out of the discard bin at a previous station and soon acquired a copy of “Trans-Europe Express.” “It was the most hypnotic, funkiest, electronic fusion energy I’d ever heard,” Mr. Johnson said. Kraftwerk became a staple of Mojo’s show “The Midnight Funk Association.” When “Computer World” came out, Mr. Johnson played almost every song on the album each night, making a lasting impression on a generation of musicians.

“Before I heard ‘The Robots’ I wasn’t really using sequencers and I was playing everything by hand, so it sounded really organic, really flowing, really loose,” the Detroit D.J. and producer Juan Atkins said. “That really made me research getting into sequencing, to give everything that real tight robotic feel.”

Over the next several years Mr. Atkins, along with his high school friends Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson, would become the pioneers of techno, which Mr. May once famously described as being “like George Clinton and Kraftwerk caught in an elevator with only a sequencer to keep them company.”

Techno would eventually explode internationally in 1988, with raves in London and trance in Goa, India. Back in Detroit, “Computer World” would assume the status of a sacred text. Kraftwerk was “considered like gods,” said Carl Craig, a Detroit techno producer. “Black people could relate to it because it was like James Brown. It was just this kind of relentless groove.” Mad Mike Banks, founder of the Detroit techno collective Underground Resistance, said he considered the song “Numbers,” from “Computer World,” the “secret code of electronic funk.”

“That track hit home in Detroit so hard,” Mr. Banks said. “They had just created the perfect urban music because it was controlled chaos, and that’s exactly what we live in.”

For Kraftwerk it’s a civic connection that has come full circle. In the last decade Mr. Hütter has developed relationships with some Detroit artists he inspired, including Mr. Banks. It seems to be a kind of “brotherhood, like Düsseldorf and Detroit,” Mr. Hütter said, saying he’s fascinated “that this music from two industrial centers of the world, with different cultures and different history, suddenly there’s an inspiration and a flow going back and forth. It’s fantastic.

“All this positive energy, this feedback coming back to me, is charging our battery, and now we’re full of energy. It keeps my Ralf robot going.”

Indeed, compared with Kraftwerk’s near invisibility throughout most of the ’80s and ’90s, the last few years have seen a relative flurry of Kraftwerk activity. Laptops have allowed the group to take its Kling Klang Studio on the road, so it has been touring regularly, adding 3-D graphics to the live show this year. Now that “The Catalogue” is completed, Mr. Hütter has promised a new Kraftwerk album soon, which would mark the band’s first recording without Mr. Schneider. If Mr. Hütter has any reservations about working without his musical partner of four decades, he kept them to himself; perhaps robots are incapable of showing emotion?

“There’s so much to do,” Mr. Hütter said. “I feel like we are just starting.”