Young Fathers Explain the Meaning Behind "White Men Are Black Men Too"

Categories: Hip-Hop

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Young Fathers

Immediately after the debut album (Dead) from Scotland's Young Fathers won the prestigious Mercury Prize, the group took off for Berlin to record a vastly different sophomore album.

Blending hip-hop with a varied soundscape that brings in everything from drum 'n' bass to punk and psychedelic rock, Young Fathers began after 'G' Hastings, Alloysious Massaquoi, and Kayus Bankole met as teens in a basement dance club in Edinburgh.

"When we were on tour last year in America, the idea for getting back into the studio and recording again was bubbling in our heads," Bankole says. "Close to the end of the tour, we sat down in a café, and it was a general consensus we all knew in our heads we wanted to make something concise and with less words and simpler, not dumbed down, but more direct."

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What Mega Ran's April Fools' Joke Says About Arizona Hip-Hop

On Wednesday, one of the most successful Arizona hip-hop artists, Random (a.k.a. Mega Ran), spent the better half of the day fielding phone calls in regard to the "diss track" he released as an April Fools' Day joke.

The track consisted of a menacing beat that built up as Mega Ran called out a few artists. As the song peaked, Random aired his grievances with Arizona hip-hop and the song suddenly shifted to Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up." That's right, Mega Ran rick-rolled us all.

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Mega Ran Drops Diss Track Calling Out Arizona Rappers

Categories: Hip-Hop

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Hadouken straight to the face of Arizona hip-hop.

All-around bad-boy rapper Mega Ran has had enough of rappers in his hometown talking smack behind his back, so today, he released one diss track to rule them all, complete with art depicting a pen all but bleeding red ink.

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20 Years After His Death, Eazy-E Deserves a Spot on Rap's Mount Rushmore

Categories: Hip-Hop

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Peter Dokus
Eazy-E

For Eazy-E, the concept of gangsta rap was fully formed in his mind.

By 1986, the genre, which nobody then called "gang­sta rap" ("reality rap," please) had begun to sprout in L.A. by way of Ice-T's "6 'n the Mornin'," which was patterned after Philadelphia rapper Schoolly D's "P.S.K. What Does It Mean?" But there was no gangsta-rap label, and certainly no gangsta-rap genre.

Eazy-E was an unlikely progenitor. "I didn't know he rapped," remembers MC Ren, his future bandmate in N.W.A. "Ain't nobody know."

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The Stakes Might Be the Coolest Phoenix Band You've Never Seen Live

Categories: Hip-Hop, R&B

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Jeff Moses
The Stakes brought the energy up at Last Exit Live last weekend.

The atmosphere at Last Exit Live was just a little different than usual Friday night for the premier of The Stakes' debut record, The Stakes Music Vol.1. The jazz- and funk-infused hip-hop seven-piece brought the laid-back, chilled-out vibes of their music with them to south Central Phoenix, and it settled in nicely at the downtown indie rock venue.

Tons of bands have rolled through Last Exit and rocked the house. But for what may have been the first time ever, The Stakes came in and rapped it. "Rapped" may not usually be a verb to describe a band's performance, but I don't think there really is a better description of what Lord Kash, Zeedub, Holly Pyle, and their fabulous musicians did.

Of course, the music was hip-hop, and that was a big part of the atmosphere change at the bar, but it wasn't the end all be all. The members of The Stakes carry themselves with a certain confidence, a quiet cool that doesn't only turn on when they are up on stage, so they instantly change the mood of a room just by being in it. It just felt like a cool place to be.


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Hip-Hop Group The Stakes Are Highly Vested in the Battle for the Soul of Music

Categories: Hip-Hop

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The Stakes

"We try and make our music for anyone who can appreciate it, for people from all walks of life," said Zalamar 'Zeedub' Davis one of the two MCs fronting Tempe full-band hip-hop group The Stakes.

The Stakes' music blends the smooth tones of jazz with the heavier guitars of funk, the lyrical stylings of hip-hop and a distinctly contemporary R&B-type singer to make a uniquely Phoenix style of hip-hop that is as eclectic as the people making it.

This is a two-and-a-half year-old hip-hop group that early in their tenure making music was playing three-hour long sets at MIll Avenue's Caffe Boa. The talented funk and jazz musicians laid down intricate musical highways for Zeedub and his co-frontman Lord Kash to lyrically drive down full speed with socially conscious lyrics and above average wordplay.

The upscale Mill Avenue crowd weren't the only people feeling The Stakes, either. The jazz fanatics at The Nash in downtown Phoenix have also been quite accepting of The Stakes' brand of heavily jazz influenced hip-hop. In fact, according to Zeedub, many of his band members are regulars at the club, and when he is fortunate enough to catch one of them playing straight jazz he will still be obliged to jump on the microphone to lay down a few bars.

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Kanye West and Beck Should Kiss, Make Up, and Make Music

Categories: Hip-Hop

You might have heard by now that Kanye West had some things to say about Beck's Morning Phase winning the award for Album of The Year over Beyonce at last night's Grammy Awards.

If you haven't heard yet, here's a recap: As Beck walked up to the podium to accept the award, Kanye made a beeline for the stage, a la the infamous" Imma let you finish" Taylor Swift incident from the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, before spinning 180 degrees and returning to his seat, grin on face. But it wasn't all in good fun. After the show, Kanye had some words for the singer, saying Beck should "respect artistry" and give his award to Beyonce.

"I just know that the Grammys, if they want real artists, to keep coming back, they need to stop playing with us. We ain't gonna play with them no more," he said.

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Veteran MC Scarub 
Looks Back on a Life 
of Rhythm and Rhyme

Categories: Hip-Hop

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Kevin Wallace
Scarub, of Living Legends fame

Hip-hop has been an integral part of Armon Collins' life for a long time -- nearly three decades now -- but the music wasn't quite what brought him to the music.

Before Collins became better known as Scarub -- a speed-rap-proficient MC who rose as part of the well-regarded Los Angeles rap collective Living Legends -- he was a kid witnessing the ascent of a powerful young art form throughout the 1980s and early '90s.

"Moms and pops was listening to Anita Baker and Luther Vandross," Collins, 36, says, "and we were turning on the radio and listening to Kool Moe Dee, LL Cool J, [and] N.W.A."

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Why Wu-Tang's Shaolin Business Model Is Brilliant

Categories: Hip-Hop

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The music world is abuzz with Wu-Tang Clan's announcement yesterday that the single copy of the group's double-album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, will be sold, like a Rembrandt or a Rothko, at auction sometime this year.

It's a lavish production. The album comes "presented in a hand carved nickel-silver box designed by the British Moroccan artist Yahya," the group's website says. Inside the box is another intricately carved case, within which will be the actual disc. The music will feature guest performances from Cher, Redman, Carice Van Houten, and more, including FC Barcelona soccer players, whatever that means. (You can hear part of Cher's contribution over at Forbes; the 51-second snippet is the only part of the album that has been released.)

The winning bidder will get to do whatever with the 31-track album -- lend it to a museum, place it in a personal collection, release it online for free, melt it for scrap, whatever -- and if RZA was telling the truth when he said the group had received a $5 million offer for it, then the album will probably fetch a similar amount, possibly more, at auction.

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The Final Weekly Blunt Club in Photos

Categories: Concerts, Hip-Hop

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Photos by Benjamin Leatherman
The members of The Blunt Club onstage at Yucca Tap in Tempe on Thursday.
"Whoop! Whoop! That's the sound of the police!"

KRS-One had some major vocal backup on Thursday night at the Yucca Tap Room. As the bombastic boom-bap of the rap legend's 1993 single, "Sound of the Police," blares through the sound system of the Tempe rock bar, a horde of close to a hundred voices scream-sing the chorus in unison with hands in the air.

Mass sing-alongs to rap classics are a common occurance at The Blunt Club, but on Thursday night it seemed a bit louder and forceful than usual. It's not surprising, considering the crowd at the hip-hop night was significantly larger than normal and that it would be their last chance to do so at a Blunt Club, at least for the next couple weeks.

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