ART: Now You Can Take a Virtual Tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art with Nas & Rakim

Nas and Rakim are part of the NY Met's Hip Hop Project (photo via ambrosiaforheads.com)

Nas and Rakim are part of the NY Met’s Hip Hop Project (photo via ambrosiaforheads.com)

Hip-Hop and art have once again merged in an exciting way, thanks to the inventive mind of a graduate student. Regina Flores Mir is the brains behind the Hip-Hop Project, a program being implemented at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that allows visitors to navigate the various collections with guiding narration from MCs. Lyrics from songs by artist including Missy Elliott, Notorious B.I.G., Eric B. & Rakim, Kendrick Lamar, Nas, Queen Latifah, and more are used as keywords and then cross-referenced with the Met’s massive archive of art, providing listeners with a Hip-Hop-centric blueprint by which to examine and understand the museum’s collections.

hip hop project

According to the Hip-Hop Project’s website, “although the rap lyric may not be directly correlated to the art work in meaning, it allows visitors to see work that they may not have otherwise known existed,” allowing for the kind of accidental discovery that could inspire Heads to establish bridges between music and art in uniquely individualized ways.

As Kari Paul wrote for Vice’s Motherboard channel, the relationship between the lyrics and pieces of art in question aren’t necessarily straightforward, but are nevertheless engaging. “For example, in ‘Juicy’ when the Notorious B.I.G. says ‘fuck all y’all hoes,’ the Hip-Hop Project pulls up an ancient hoe artifact. Users can click on it and explore this work and others,” she explains. The Hip-Hop Project’s site allows users to experience the museum tour without a trip to the Met, simply by picking a rapper and delving into the lyrical matches to items available for viewing. Heads will also appreciate the website’s domain (www.rappersdelight.nyc).

article by Bonita via ambrosiaforheads.com

Kendrick Lamar Will Perform ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ Songs At the Kennedy Center with the National Symphony Orchestra

Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar (photo via theurbandaily.com)

A live band rendition of To Pimp A Butterfly is in high demand, and you’d have to look no further than Kendrick Lamar‘s performances on Stephen Colbert‘s shows to know why.

Lamar has been performing cuts live with a backing track, but that changes for one day later in October. The star will perform To Pimp A Butterfly songs with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center on October 20, according to the Washington Post. Nas performed with the orchestra last year to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Illmatic.

article by bjosephsny via theurbandaily.com

“Fresh Dressed”: 10 Reasons You Should Watch This Stylish Hip-Hop Fashion Doc

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Scene from Fresh Dressed. (SUNDANCE.ORG)

After flipping through the September fall fashion issues of my favorite magazines with black “It Girls” such as BeyoncéKerry WashingtonSerena and Misty Copeland on their covers, I’m unusually interested in clothes. All that paging through magazines got me wondering: Where are all the black-owned fashion brands? Yes, of course well-known black brands still exist. Tracy Reese and Byron Lars are two of my favorites.

Digging into the rabbit hole of black designers led me to Fresh Dressed, a fascinating documentary from 2014 directed by Sacha Jenkins about the foundations of urban fashion that features some of the biggest names in fashion (Dapper Dan, Andre Leon Talley) and hip-hop (Kanye West, Nas). And it conveniently airs on Vimeo on Demand. One late-night click on my PayPal account and I was immersed in the world of pre-gentrified New York and hip-hop’s early years, which started the urban fashion apparel market. Sweet!  Check out the trailer below:

Ready to take a walk down memory lane or learn the secret to how the brands so many of us wore in the ‘90s became hot (then not)? Check out Fresh Dressed. Here are 10 reasons the doc is worthwhile:

1. Unique fashion inspirations.

Customized leather jackets underneath denim vests—a fashion staple that was worn by street gang members who wanted to identify their affiliation—were inspired by 1969’s Easy Rider, a film about two bikers.

2. Jamel Shabazz photographs.

Brooklyn-born Shabazz spent the ‘80s taking iconic pictures of black street style and capturing the culture. His driving force? “[Black style] is interpreted around the world as just being fly,” Shabazz says in the documentary. “What I see is pride and dignity. I wanted the world to see [us] as something unlike they had seen before. That despite people’s condition, they were able to maintain a great deal of integrity and it is shown in the way people dress and the pride they take in having clean sneakers on.”

3. Random hip-hop fun facts. 

Before Play of the rap duo Kid ‘n Play was a rapper, he was a graffiti artist who used denim jackets as his canvas. “People would pay me to paint their names on their jeans,” says Christopher “Play” Reid.

4. Dapper Dan was more popular than Louis Vuitton (among black people).

The (in)famous Harlem designer and boutique owner was best known for merging hip-hop fashion sensibilities with the logos of European fashion houses, such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci. Think tricking out the upholstery of Big Daddy Kane’s car with a red and black Gucci monogram print or maybe a red leather Gucci sweatsuit for Bobby Brown. “I blacken-ized [luxury] fashion” Dan boasts in Fresh Dressed. “I made it so it would look good on us.”

Nas, a producer of the documentary, takes the boasting a step further:

“Dapper Dan was Tom Ford before Tom Ford,” says the rapper. “He had the foresight to do what they [luxury brands] started doing five years, 10 years after him.”

5. The genesis of fat laces in sneakers.

Before wide laces were sold ready-made in stores, sneaker aficionados had to create their own by taking the laces out of the shoe, stretching them, starching them and then ironing them.

6. Mayor’s closet. 

I’m not so into sneakers, but even I gasped looking at the walk-in closet of sneaker aficionado Mayor, who boasts of going 7.5 years without wearing the same pair of shoes twice. (That’s 2,737 pairs). He keeps his collection, which includes a significant number of Jordans, in a row of plastic containers that are as tall he is and estimates his collection is worth more than half a million dollars.

7. Rediscovering the Lo-Lifes. 

This was a well-known “gang” in Brooklyn, N.Y., that didn’t identify itself by colors but by fashion logos, one in particular: Polo. Its criminal activity was mainly shoplifting Ralph Lauren clothing from department stores, and status in the group was determined by who wore the most exclusive wares best. For some, such as Lo-Life leader Thirstin Howl the 3rd (yes, like the millionaire from Gilligan’s Island), fashion is really that serious.

8. Learning how Tommy Hilfiger became so popular among black people. 

Instead of offering endorsement deals to famous rappers, Hilfiger offered free clothes to the MCs—and in the neighborhoods where they came from. “Tommy Hilfiger would show up in the ‘hood and open up a trunk with clothes,” recalls Ralph McDaniels, who hosted the popular hip-hop TV show Video Music Box. “It was the drug dealer giving you a free hit. It was smart. He knew exactly what he was doing.”

9. That time GAP unwittingly spent $30 million on a FUBU commercial.

LL Cool J signed on to do a GAP commercial, but didn’t really believe the brand respected hip-hop culture, according to FUBU executive Daymond John. The rapper insisted on wearing a FUBU baseball cap in the commercial and even dropped a line that included FUBUs tagline, “For Us By Us.” “It basically became a FUBU commercial,” adds John. FUBU eventually became a $350 million business.

10. Learning that Tupac didn’t charge black people. 

At the height of his fame, Tupac took a meeting with Karl Kani in which Kani pitched him to star in an upcoming ad campaign. “I ain’t gonna charge you; you black,” Pac told Kani. “I don’t charge my people for nothing.” Two weeks later, they did a photoshoot … free. Kani credits Pac with introducing him to a global market.

article by Demetria Lucas D’oyley  via theroot.com

Nas To Fund Tech Scholarships for African-Americans and Latinos at General Assembly in NYC

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Nasir Jones aka Nas (photo via allhiphop.com)

Nas is partnering up with General Assembly to sponsor scholarships for African-American and Latino students, according to reports.

General Assembly, a vocational school for engineering and programming in New York City, is opening the “Opportunity Fund” to help bring diversity into technology.  Microsoft, Google and Hirepurpose will also provide monies for the project. Each company will sponsor different populations. While Nas will give scholarships to African-Americans and Latinos, Microsoft and Hirepurpose will provide funding for veterans and Google will give scholarships to women.“This is the start of what hopefully will be a contribution to what will be a more diverse and accessible community worldwide,” General Assembly CEO Jake Schwartz told the Observer.

This is not the first time Nas has had his name attached to an educational opportunity – in 2013 Harvard University created the Nasir Jones Fellowship in his honor.  It’s wonderful that he is continuing to foster higher education, this time in his hometown.

original article by Tanay Hudson via allhiphop.com; additions by Lori Lakin Hutcherson

Lauryn Hill, The Roots, A$AP Rocky, Janelle Monae and More to Perform at ONE Musicfest

(Image: ONE MusicFest)

(Image: ONE MusicFest)

Lauryn Hill, The Roots, A$AP Rocky, Wale, Janelle Monae & Wondaland, Raekwon, Ghostface, The Internet, Raury, SZA, Scarface, and many more will take center stage at ONE Musicfest festival in Atlanta on Saturday, September 12, 2015.

Over the last 6 years ONE Musicfest has pulled together the best of urban alternative legends and contemporaries for a unique experience through music and visual. And this year it gets even better, with ONE Musicfest in partnership with Live Nation, “pulling out all the stops with an outdoor music festival that the media says, can’t be missed, and attracting a generationally and culturally diverse audience. “

Beyond festival-goers having a good old-fashion time at the ONE Musicfest, Jason Carter, the founder of ONE Musicfest, told Black Enterprise.com exclusively, “I want people to walk away knowing that it’s possible for us all to share the same space. ONE Musicfest is a generational festival.  It’s nothing to see a 17-year-old enjoying music along with someone in his or her late 40’s partying just as hard. So many times I think that’s overlooked with festivals. Some people will say, “That’s a young persons festival or that’s old school.” But the way we set up ONE Musicfest is so different—people jump up and dance when they hear a classic New Edition song and in the same breath once they hear the first drop on Kendrick Lamar, they’re bopping their head just as hard.

“The other WIN for One Musicfest is how we’ve brought progressive urban music to the stage. You never see Lauryn Hill on the same bill as Big Krit, but interestingly enough they’re fans of each other, but never get a chance to celebrate each other’s music together. So when they get backstage, they’re snapping pictures together and sharing them on Facebook and Instagram.”

According to a statement released by One Musicfest, the festival will take place on multiple stages and will serve as the ultimate mashup of innovative urban alternative acts with over eleven hours of non-stop music. The festival will feature over 25 of the hottest global DJs whose music crosses over to all spectrums, local vendors, games, and interactive activities. One Musicfest is the only place to see this roster of incredible acts join together for One purpose  – which is to witness a wide variety of sounds, from rock to hip-hop, electro, reggae, funk, disco, house, alternative and soul while having your musical senses stimulated.

Founded by Jason Carter, ONE Musicfest has been one of Southeast’s largest home-grown, musical arts festivals to date including over 10,000 plus attendees. Carter has brought Atlanta music lovers the best and the brightest urban alternative acts performing in a welcoming, hospitable setting, creating an atmosphere where everyone can enjoy and discover music.

Previous artists include Kendrick Lamar, Nas, Jhene Aiko, Erykah Badu, Snoop Dogg, CeeLo Green & Goodie Mob, Santigold, Common, Method Man, Redman, Chrisette Michele, Amel Larriueux, Daley, Goapele, Joey Bada$$, De La Soul, Bilal, Quadron and more.

For more information, please visit www.onemusicfest.com and follow @ONEMusicfest | #OMF2015 | #ONLYOMF.

article by Kandia Johnson via blackenterprise.com

DJ Premier Signs On As Music Producer For VH1 Rap Drama “The Breaks”

Grammy Winning Producer DJ Premier to supervise music on upcoming VH1 movie "The Breaks" (Photo: xxlmag.com)

Grammy Winning Producer DJ Premier to supervise music on upcoming VH1 movie “The Breaks” (Photo: xxlmag.com)

According to Deadline.com, VH1 has announced production of The Breaks, an original movie about the Hip-Hop business set in New York City during the early 90s, that will serve as a backdoor pilot for a potential series. Christopher Edward Martin, better known as DJ Premier, multiple Grammy-award winning member of the seminal rap group Gang Starr, will serve as executive music producer and compose the score.

The Breaks is based on Dan Charnas’ non-fiction book The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop, which covers the rap from its infancy in the 1970s house party and park scene through the staggering financial and cultural milestones of the early 2000s. Set in 1990, the series will follow three friends from different backgrounds attempting to break into the business just as the art form became part of the pop music mainstream.

Given the setting, which happens to mark the middle point of the golden age of hip hop, the rise of gangsta rap, and the height of New Jack Swing, Texas native DJ Premier’s involvement is a huge advantage. In addition to his work with Gang Starr, Premier has been involved with some of the most influential and successful rap and R&B albums of all time, including works by KRS-One, Big Daddy Kane, Snoop DoggCompton’s Most Wanted, Nas, D’Angelo, The Notorious B.I.G., and Jay Z.

The Breaks follows VH1’s previous TV films, 2013’s CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story, and 2014’s Drumline: A New Beat, both of which saw great ratings for the network. Single Ladies, an original series which ran for three seasons on VH1and is now enjoying a fourth on Centric, started as a two-hour back door pilot. If successful, The Breaks could similarly spawn a full series aimed at the audience of other shows with soundtracks overseen by music titans, like Fox’s Empire, with music production by Timbaland, and ABC’s Nashville, which saw T-Bone Burnett as music producer during its first season.

The Breaks will be written, directed and executive produced by Seith Mann, whose previous credits include episodes of The Wire, Fringe, The Riches, Entourage, and Homeland.  In addition to his production work, DJ Premier is also the host of a weekly show on Sirius XM’s Hip-Hop Nation. Filming for The Breaks will begin in June, and the film is scheduled to air sometime in late fall 2015.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

FILM REVIEW: Nas’ Essential Contribution to Hip Hop Highlighted in Documentary “Time Is Illmatic”

Nas Time is Illmatic

It’s unlikely that hip-hop documentary “Time Is Illmatic” will have many showings as thrilling as its opening-night slot at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, where it preceded an impassioned live performance by its subject, the artist born Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones and better known by his stage name: Nas. Still, this brisk, stylish and extremely heartfelt portrait of Nas’ rise from the housing projects of Queensbridge to the heights of hip-hop royalty ably stands on its own, marked by an admirable focus on the man and his music rather than hype and hagiography. Sure to be embraced by fans (but also a fine primer for neophytes), “Time” should have a long home-viewing shelf life following additional fest and select theatrical bookings.

In his feature directing debut, the former graffiti artist and graphic designer One9 smartly avoids trying for a comprehensive career portrait of Nas, instead centering on the rapper’s humble origins and the making of his landmark 1994 debut album, “Illmatic.” Comparable in its impact on hip-hop to that of Jackson Pollock’s splatter paintings on the art world, “Illmatic” seemed a prodigal work, constructed of airtight rhythms and intricate rhymes, steeped in the violent realities of ghetto life yet far-reaching in its lyric and musical allusions (including “samples” that ran the gamut from jazz to Michael Jackson), as intimate as a diary while also serving as a very public statement of artistic intent. Nas was all of 20 at the time, and best known for his electrifying guest rapping on popular singles by Main Source and MC Serch.

Two decades later, Nas is close to an eminence grise, but the figure who appears onscreen for much of “Time Is Illmatic” appears humbled by his massive success and is quick to acknowledge those who helped pave the way (like the pioneering female rapper Roxanne Shante, who gave the teenage Nas an early break as part of her crew), as well as those (like childhood friend Willie “Ill Will” Graham) who were less lucky at surviving the Queensbridge mean streets. To this, the film adds a carefully selected mix of testimonials from friends, family members, artistic collaborators and assorted lions of old-school hip-hop. But save for a couple of fleeting appearances by Cornel West and Henry Louis Gates, “Time” eschews third-party critical analysis in favor of keeping the focus on neighborhood and personal experience, a cinematic “trip down memory lane” to complement the one Nas rapped about on “Illmatic” itself.

The pic’s first half devotes much of its energy to anatomizing Nas’ childhood and early performance career, with particular attention to his parents — the jazz sideman Olu Dara and his wife, Ann Jones — who raised their two sons (Nas and younger brother Jabari, aka “Jungle”) in a bohemian cocoon of art, books and music very different from the Queensbridge norm. After a brief childhood flirtation with the trumpet, Nas had already begun writing rhymes by age 8. Curiously, it was Dara himself, by then divorced from Ann, who persuaded both boys to drop out of New York’s public school system (where he believed they were receiving an inferior, resource-starved education) after completing the eighth grade. He wanted them to follow their entrepreneurial dreams, which was easier said than done in the New York of the pre-Giuliani, crack-besieged late ’80s and early ’90s.

Fans of old-school hip-hop will take particular delight in the docu’s evocation of the neighborhood rivalries and MC battles that played out in the form of tracks like Marly Marl and MC Shan’s “The Bridge” and KRS-One’s “South Bronx,” and helped to stoke the young Nas’ creative fires. (The opening cut of “Illmatic” featured a prominent sample of the seminal 1983 hip-hop feature “Wild Style,” also excerpted here.) Returning today to the old neighborhood, Nas reflects emotionally on the devastation wrought by drugs and gang violence and how, but for a few strokes of luck, he too might have become another victim.

In its second half, “Time” shifts gears to the recording of “Illmatic,” with Nas and his quintet of illustrious producers (Nas, Large Professor, Pete Rock, Q-Tip, L.E.S. and DJ Premier) offering insightful, track-by-track deconstructions of the album’s most enduring cuts: “Life’s a Bitch,” “One Love,” “The World Is Yours” and “It Ain’t Hard to Tell,” with its inspired sampling of Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature.”

The documentary occasionally reveals its multiyear gestation period in the variable range of video formats used to capture the interviews, but otherwise sports a polished, professional sheen.

review by Scott Foundas via Variety.com