Tonight the Oddballs welcome Hip Hop artist Alyssa Marie, whose new album “Louder than Words” is available now on Bandcamp. Fresh from this weekend’s Freedom Rally on Boston Common, we’ll explore what drives this young talented lyricist and what’s coming next on the rap horizon. PRESS PLAY BELOW to tune in tonight at 8:30 to the one and only #OddballShow.
On the night of Saturday September 17th, 2016, I was fortunate enough to attend Erato’s 2nd annual Cosmic White Affair for a night of house music and dancing. The event was presented by the dynamic DJ duo known as The Couple’s Couple, comprised of DJ Dende and DJ Mystina, with The Underground Garden’sLiza Zayas driving the night. Described on its Facebook page as,”Deep Afro, Latin, Tech, Funk, Vocal, Disco, Soulful, Underground Music with Any and All sounds moving the DJs and Crowd,” the Erato movement has been gaining momentum in Boston’s night life scene over the past year and is growing steadily. Its success is certainly well-deserved.
Having chopped it up with The Couple’s Couple on a recent Oddball Show podcast, I felt a positive, refreshing energy and was intrigued. I enjoy house & freestyle music, but I don’t know it like I know Hip Hop. Despite my relative unfamiliarity, something told me I’d have a kick ass time at an Erato night. Surely enough, I had a blast.
Club Bohemia, located on Mass Ave. in Cambridge Massachusetts’ Central Square, played host to Erato’s Cosmic All White Affair. Mystina and Dende tag-teamed the DJ duties for the first half of the night, while special guest DJ Savuth closed out the show. Most of the crowd both obliged with the all white dress theme and danced the night away. The result was a constant glowing in motion effect, backed by top-notch DJs spinning hypnotic, groovy jams. It was poetry in motion on overdrive with black lights.
Much of the dancing blew me away, particular the break-dancing type moves. Despite house dancing (or really any dancing) not being my strength, I couldn’t help but to immerse myself in the night’s energy and dance joyfully. At one point I conveyed this to Liza, who kindly encouraged me, telling me I looked like a natural. I replied that I deserved an Oscar because I sure as hell didn’t feel like a natural. But I didn’t care that by comparison to most of the crowd, my six variations of a two-step were amateurish. I just enjoyed the moment. The positive vibes were infectious and it made for a hell of a night.
What I loved most about the Erato experience was the diversity and welcoming nature of those in attendance. Speaking to a few folks and observing how people interacted with each other revealed that Erato heads are a tight, open-minded bunch who genuinely enjoy each other’s talents and company. Their love of art, whether dancing, music, or poetry, along with their love for each other, permeated the venue. One couldn’t help but to at minimum appreciate its sincerity, if not outright immerse oneself in it. Again, I’m not a house head, but it was nice to be in a multi-cultural environment with folks as young as early their early 20s and as old as approaching 50, all vibing and letting loose. It was refreshing. It was a natural high. And it’s something I know I’ll do again in the future.
With that in mind, be sure to follow Erato on Facebook to stay abreast of upcoming events, including Return Of The Masques, with special guest DJ/Producer Beloved, on Saturday, October 15th at Club Bohemia. To quote its page once more, “ERATO is devoted to the remarkable elation moments of inspired action deliver. Inspiration is a driving force and this night is dedicated to the Open and the Striking.”
So regardless of your musical biases, be sure to check out an Erato night and become inspired. It’s sure to be a memorable time.
Before the book, the coffee, the hour of clouds and a bed unmade,
a panther takes her place before the mirror, black, glistening, dangerous.
She wants to be that kind of wanted, that kind of holy, muscled,
without past. The chair where she faced last year’s weather seems suddenly
too small for her, suddenly too comfortable. It was meant for the stories
of others, not her own. So she leaves to build her thighs to greater
dimension, her arms more than for the cradling of a novel, a baby, a man
who’ll ask eventually for pudding, soup, compassion, a place to cry. She leaves
to return as another, and to wait for dawn as if there were bamboo.
Photography by Alisha M. White
Carl Boon lives and works in Izmir, Turkey. His poems appear in dozens of magazines, most recently Two Peach, Jet Fuel Review, Blast Furnace, and Poetry Quarterly.
Alisha M. White, Ph.D. is an a/r/tist, teacher educator, and assistant professor at Western Illinois University. Her work revolves around disrupting constructions of ability, integrating arts into her research, and teaching future teachers the potential for using the arts in teaching English language arts.
Oh the Summer of music it has been! As suits my soul, it is the season of live music and I’ve gotten to see Phish, Billy Joel, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Playing Dead, and a few others over the past couple months. In addition to dancing in these aisles, I’ve also been hard at work on new JP Lime music for your eager ears. In the previous editions of A Peak Inside an Emcee’s Notebook, I’ve already shared lyric selections from ‘Professa Strange Vol 1’ which is nearly complete and will be making its way to you very soon. I’ve also been working on another musical side project with my friend D+ (aka Dave, to ye mere mortals). D+ is the bass player for a band called A Night on the Sun and a few months ago he reached out about potentially collaborating. He’s played in several groups, though never anything related to Hip Hop, and was eager to try something new. He messenged me rough recordings of a few basslines and I began writing. We had several jam sessions and in between Dave taught himself to compose drum beats on Garage Band. It is certainly an odd dynamic – two people, one live instrument – but I really like the flavor of it.
In an exciting development, we’ll be hitting the studio this Sunday to record our first EP. As a special preview, today we’ll be taking a look inside my notebook at some of the lyrics I’ll be laying down.
We turn first to a song called “The Underground”, a smoky track about the thundering rhythm that bubbles just below our everyday life.
The Underground, verse 1
There’s word in the street
There’s birds in the sea
That sing a simple song
That speaks to me
Of a time and place that may never be
Or may never have been, it’s hard to see
Hard to say
As the sentences decay
Tales past along
Like shadows on the wave of the cave
A marker on a grave
An etching on a stone
Yeah, Stories of the bones
And where they lay
Where the skeletons are buried
There are signs that say
10 There are certain messages that never fade away
‘Neath the sands of time
And the dunes of May
12 [:54] That spring to life from the dust and clay
From the rust and the must
The rubble and the rake
A rhythm coming up
Like a ripple in a lake
rising with a purpose
it bubbles and it breaks
It buzzes and [reverses]
Rips through the wake
Peak below the surface
Where it really lays
Underneath the dirt there’s [a brand new day]
16 So grab a shovel and a spade
Can you dig it?
Today on the Rap Flashback we remember the late, great, Tupac Shakur on the 20th anniversary of his untimely passing. With roughly 110 million records sold world wide and 5 number 1 albums, Tupac’s impact on Hip Hop and Pop culture cannot be overstated. His trademark was the soul that he put into everything he touched. It is because of that soul that his prestige remains strong.
Whether wearing bandannas, sporting stomach tattoos, elongating and emphasizing vowels at the end of bars (ex: feeeel meeee!), direct mentions of his name, songs, album titles, or direct quotations and/or para-phrasings of his lyrics, Tupac’s influence on current artists is still felt today. We all know his story’s highlights; from being raised by Black Panther, Afeni Shakur, to his revolutionary music, his Digital Underground days, his stint with Death Row Records, his friendship turned feud with Christopher “The Notorious BIG” Wallace, his TV appearances, and films. Countless choice words from everyone from Quincy Jones to C. Delores Tucker, Hip Hop contemporaries like Nas and Jay-Z, and newer artists such as J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar further solidify his legacy.
Described by Shock-G as “the hardest working man in Hip Hop, hands down,” the sheer volume of Tupac tracks and albums released since his death speaks to his unparalleled work ethic; something we can all learn from in the Hip Hop community. That he’s been gone for 20 years and many have yet to hear all of his music is nothing short of amazing. Additionally, his likeness, like his music, remains plentiful. Whether freelance or professional, or on murals all over the world, Tupac is often the subject of paintings and drawings. And of course, who could forget Hologram Tupac at the Coachella Live 2012 Festival?
With a Morgan Creek Productions biopic entitled All Eyez On Me complete, albeit delayed over song rights, and the recent announcement that Johnny Depp will star in Labyrinth as Russell Poole, the LAPD detective who investigated the murders of both Tupac and Biggie, it’s evident that Shakur’s visibility will remain strong in the coming years. Two full decades after his death, and Tupac is still a source of intrigue and entertainment for both his core fans and new fans alike.
A true Gemini, few artists have been able to balance sensitivity, nihilism, and activism like Tupac Shakur; and he did so in his poetry, his music, and on-screen as well. Who else has a library of work that includes poems like The Rose That Grew From Concrete and Can You See The Pride in The Panther, songs like “Brenda’s Got A Baby” and “Hit ‘Em Up“, and performances like that of the loves-struck “Lucky” in Poetic Justice and the nihilistic, gun-happy “Bishop” in Juice? Simply put, he did it all, and it seems like an injustice to try to sum up his accomplishments and importance in an abridged column.
With that said, as we salute Tupac Shakur and reminisce upon his legacy, we’ll leave you w/ a few memorable ‘Pac lyrics. Pour out a little liquor for the G.O.A.T.
“I finally understand, for a woman it ain’t easy trying to raise a man. You always was committed. A poor, single, mother on welfare, tell me how you did it. There’s no way I can pay you back. But my plan is to show you that I understand. You are appreciated.”
— from “Dear Mama”
“Why question my love? It’s so easy to see, without my family all I’m left with is a shadow of me.”
— from “Happy Home”
“Driven by my ambitions. Desire higher positions. So I proceed to make G’s, eternally and my mission is to be more than just a Rap musician. The elevation of today’s generation if I can make ’em listen.”
— from “Unconditional Love”
“So I’m askin’, before I lay me down to sleep. Before you judge me, look at all the shit you did to me. My misery. I rose up from the slums, made it out the flames. In my search for fame, will I change?”
— from “Who Do U Believe In”
“If I upset you, don’t stress. Never forget, that God isn’t finished with me yet. I feel his hand on my brain. When I write rhymes, I go blind, and let the Lord do his thing.”
September, October, and sometimes November… Each game matters much more than April, May, June… What happens before July isn’t remembered… But when Autumn nears, time to break out the brooms… ‘Cause with Playoffs at stake, what worse than defeat… Is an oh so embarrassing 3-0 series sweep… Fans cheer intensely so their team doesn’t lose… And of course when it does comes a chorus of boos… That fastball is trash if isn’t a strike… That catcher’s a scrub if he can’t call a game… If the shortstop can’t hit, that shortstop’s all hype… If the pinch-hitter whiffs, the coach is to blame… But hit a bloop single, “the man” you become… A line drive double means you are a star… Those 9th inning triples that drive in clutch runs… Ensure your free drinks all month at the bar… Home runs are iconic, grand slams are divine… A pitcher’s a God when he strikes out the side… A defensive gem sets the ballpark ablaze… A beautiful 6,4,3 double-play… When numbers are magic and blunders are tragic… When everything centers around The Fall Classic… Whether AL or NL we become believers… ‘Till the World Series is clinched, we all have Pennant Fever… Play Ball!!!