"There's no way I can pay you back
But the plan is to show you that I understand
You are appreciated" -- Tupac Shakur
I apologize for not speaking of this on Monday or Tuesday. The news got out pretty late and unfortunately for me those are my two busiest days of the week. Nevertheless I was aware of the passing of Afeni Shakur (born Alice Faye Williams) at the age of 69 on Monday night at her home in Sausalito, California of an apparent cardiac arrest. With her passing the legacy of her son's estate and recordings, as well as the oversight of her own estate, now passes to unknown and possibly contested hands. Shakur had filed for divorce from Gust Davis shortly before her death, but judges who settle estates in North Carolina (where they previously lived) are not required by law to split estates 50/50 in a divorce - only to determine "what's fair." Since the divorce was not finalized it may be possible Mr. Davis takes 100% control. We shall see soon enough.
It's far more important to address her legacy as an activist though, as well as the influence she had on a young Tupac growing up, who was actually born Lesane Parish Crooks but renamed after Peruvian revolutionary Tupac Amaru II - a man who fought Spanish colonial rule in the 18th century. Even though his attempt to escape the shackles of colonialism failed, his example lived on past his death and informed other revolutionaries and revolutions. Afeni Shakur was very much a revolutionary. Famously she was a member of the Panther 21 who were tried and ultimately acquitted of several bombings in and around New York City - 156 charges in total. Throughout his young life Tupac grew up with and around members of the Black Liberation Army who felt the struggle against racism and disenfranchisement could only be progressed through an active (and often violent) campaign against the authority of the United States. To this date the sister of Tupac's stepfather Mutulu, the famous/infamous Assata Shakur, is living in exile in Cuba after a daring prison break in 1979 and being on the run for five years before leaving the country. These struggles informed both his politics and his worldview.
"And even as a crack fiend, mama
You always was a black queen, mama
I finally understand
for a woman it ain't easy tryin to raise a man"
Tupac's "Dear Mama" made it clear that it was at times a mixed blessing. Even though he may have exaggerated a bit for dramatic effect there's no doubt that Afeni struggled with raising a family and being a revolutionary, and that struggle may at times have gotten the best of her. The outpouring of affection in the song though is impossible to miss. No matter how he felt about her mistakes, he was grateful to her for the gift of life, and for the lessons that she was able to teach him growing up. During his lifetime he spoke frequently of her importance to him, even when he wasn't paying tribute to her in song, though it's significant that when he did it resulted in one of his most frequently played singles.
Rest In Peace/Power to Afeni Shakur - forever appreciated.
Whether it's a utopian or a dystopian setting, hip-hop music and culture is not afraid to explore our potential future through science-fiction. It's not at all hard to read the political and social upheavals pictured in the songs of artists like Del the Funky Hompsapien as allegories for our modern world which is certainly rife with strife in clashes over fossil fuels, ideological views, racial discrimination and intended and unintended consequences of social media taking over our lives.
Hip-Hop videos get the chance to explore those same themes with an added visual component. Rappers do at times get knocked for being unrealistic compared to the day to day lives of real people, particularly in terms of those who floss their conspicuous consumption, but the irony here is that the more fantastical the premise the easier it is to make it about our real life. Sometimes a hip-hop video can just revel in the robots and lasers for a bit of fun, but as I think you'll see from the ten selections below, these cinematic masterpieces have more to say than meets the eye.
It's time for another edition of The Hip-Hop Shop. Episode #373 is called Fully Loaded Floating Brass! Enjoy some new music from Illien Rosewell, Haddy Racks, Bankroll Fresh and Tableek among others! Follow us @RapReviews so you never miss a new podsafe free show - like The Drunk Train from Adam Bernard!
* Illien Rosewell - Floating Brass
* Haddy Racks - Fully Loaded Clip
* Bankroll Fresh f/ Playa G - Top of the World
* Neka & Khalo f/ Fountain, Maze Karoma - Runaways Part 1
* Tableek f/ Blaknerd - The Boom
* Project Pat f/ Bo Staxx - Knock Knock
* King Author - Life as a Target
* Devin Patrick f/ Lil Ru, Pastor Troy - Money Up
* Wordsmith - On the Come Up (I)
Chazmere Announces Self-Titled Album With Single "Hood Mornin' (Can You Hear the Woop 2)" featuring NIKO IS
Girlie Action: Announcing the June 10 release of his debut self-titled solo album, Hip Hop artist Chazmere sets the palette with the smooth new single "Hood Mornin' (Can You Hear the Woop 2)" with NIKO Is, the follow up to "Can You Hear the Woop." The inspirational track shows off the dimensions of the multi-talented musical artist as well as the caliber of the artists with whom he chooses to surround himself.
The sole member of the Colours of the Culture Collective living uptown, Chazmere spends quite a bit of time running between the Bronx and Brooklyn (where the main studio is located). Explaining the track, Chaz recalls, "After running wild doing the party and press thing in BK, Niko and I created this early the next morning at my home studio uptown. I'm an early riser - Niko, not so much. So I made this beat to wake him up. It worked. First thing we usually say to one another is of course, Hood Mornin'! This morning... no different."
Raised in the Bronx, Chaz Van Queen was exposed to the music of Sly Stone, Parliament Funkadelic, Stevie Wonder, Slick Rick, and Luther Vandross at an early age and cites DMX's "How's It Going Down" video as hugely influential in developing what he describes as the "establishment" of a "refined experience".
Chaz released his first compilation album with growing artist collective Colours of the Culture. Released under Talib Kweli's Javotti Media imprint, ROYGBIV: What A Colorful World was premiered by renowned music blogger John Gotty via UPROXX. Colours also includes NIKO IS, STYLES P, Talib Kweli, among others.
While many artists struggle to establish and identity, Chazmere is emerging invigorated and refreshed. His upcoming self-produced album, Chazmere, comes after years of experiencing and honing his creative process, finding the producer, songwriter, and recording artist delivering his most cohesive project to date. The self titled album finds the artist blending sleek lyrical cadence and savory production into a distinct sound all his own. When not creating his own music, Chaz Van Queen serves the music community as a teacher with his organization Building Beats. Chaz is a child of soul and funk, growing with hip-hop, channeling culture from the streets all over the world.
The self-released, self-titled album from Chazmere will be available June 10. Fans in the New York area can see Chazmere on Monday May 16 at Le Poisson Rouge for a special performance with The Sketchy Orchestra, featuring pianist and composer Misha Platigorsky and his string ensemble.
Joe: Known around Atlanta for having a bona fide persona and an ability to energize his peers in the streets, Joe Green's experiences growing up in the multifaceted city continue to mold and shape the future for the larger-than-life rapper and artists alike. Coming off the successful release of his DJ Scream-hosted mixtape King Kong, which featured collaborations with the likes of Que, Shawty Lo, YFN Lucci, DJ Plugg, Zaytoven, and more, Green keeps the streets fed with gritty visuals for the Debeck Beats-produced single "Whole One" and they come fresh out of the kitchen.
Video: Nick de la Hoyde - "Never Gonna Beg For It"
TA: Sydney, Australia based 22 year old singer/songwriter/rapper Nick de la Hoyde just released his official video for his new single "Never Gonna Beg For It". A fitting follow up to his previous singles, "Changing" and "By My Side," "Changing" comes as a result of Nick's ongoing collaboration with production duo and brothers Joseph and John de la Hoyde.
YIR: Last week in the year of 1995 the movie Friday was first released and we all loved it. For all the Friday fans out there, its been a lot of talk hinting to a new movie in the works. As we sit tight as the story unfolds, here's new music from Hiphop's emerging artist Rooftop ReP.
SOP: We’re Delaways, a producing duo based in the capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam. The duo is formed by two brothers; Justin Bernardus (25) & Fabian Bernardus (19). We blend the warmth of the classic soul and R&B with the precision sonics of the contemporary hip hop, trap and garage. Until now we’ve only made some remixes. This is our first original one, hope you enjoy it.