Throwback Thursday: Cold weather music edition

clay-brick

You are all probably wondering what the idea with the picture above is.

It is simple.

I am officially declaring that the word captured in this image become an actual temperature reading. Yes my friends I would like that when the thermometer plunges to a certain number that “brick” pops up. I know that I am not alone in using this hip hop colloquialism to describe extremely harsh winter conditions. As to the origins of this term those are up for constant debate as to when it was first used and what part of the United States it originated. Although I cannot lay claim as to exactly when this began I will go on record as at least saying it had to occur sometime in the early 1990s and it most certainly came from inner-city youth living in New York’s five boroughs.

With that said and done I will switch gears in this post ever so slightly as to not lose the overall winter theme on this Throwback Thursday. I just want to take time to focus on those musical gems of the cold weather variety. Those tracks who regardless of what genre the belong to make us think of tundra that is beyond frozen. Those songs that can also get you through the madness that is winter.

We all have our favorite classic winter songs. For the old souls in the audience “Baby It’s Cold Outside” may be up your alley. While classic rock fanatics still cannot get enough of Foreigner’s “Cold as Ice” a song that lyrically has nothing to do with a deep freeze. And then you have my personal favorites Lord Tariq’s “This Cold World” and Gang Starr’s “Mass Appeal” both are hip hop classics. However, neither has anything to do with winter themes of any kind when it comes to their subject matter. Nonetheless they are referenced as being winter tracks due to a Sammy Davis, Jr. sample hook (“The Shelter of Your Arms”), being released during the cold weather months and a video shot during cold weather. If you don’t believe me you can look and listen for yourselves.

So for this Throwback Thursday I will leave you with audio and video of these songs for your winter time inspiration. What are some of your favorite winter songs? You can let me know right here on this platform.

That is all for now. Try and stay warm folks. And always remember if you can’t, you must.

Music Monday: Mariko

Mariko continues to perfect her craft all around the New York City Subway System. Photo: Daniel Rivera

Mariko continues to perfect her craft in the New York City Subway System. Photo: Daniel Rivera

Hello everyone it’s the start of another week and you know what day it is out in the Twitterverse! Yes it is another Music Monday installment and you know I am going to bring you something that will please your ears and sooth that beginning of the week angst we all go through.

As many of you know I have a penchant for snapping photos and capturing video of street performers whether they are dancers of musicians. In this case this post will concentrate on the latter. And all of you know I have a knack for spotting talented individuals and showcasing them.

In this case I am specifically speaking of Japanese born pop singer-songwriter Mariko. Obviously she is not the first pop act to hail from the Land of the Rising Sun. We cannot forget the likes of Shonen Knife and most recently X Japan has hit the U.S. playing to crowds at New York Comic Con 2014. To those who question who she is although she does not have the lengthy resume as the aforementioned acts Mariko is not exactly a rookie.

She has performed at such venues as the LAUNCH Music Conference, The Yellow Phone Music Conference, The VANS Warped Tour and Summerfest. Mariko as also released 6-track EP titled “On With The Show” which she toured extensively to promote after its release in July of 2012.  Recently I had a chance to hear her perform during my travels in the New York City Subway System. It also happened that she was in town for a few club dates to continue her musical efforts.

But enough about what I know about Mariko. I want you the viewers of my blog to take a listen for yourselves. Here is some footage I managed to capture of her most recent subway performance.

Enjoy.

I hope you Monday gets better as the minutes pass on.

And remember if you can’t, you must!

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Music Monday: The Young OG Project by Fabolous

FABOLOUS

Hey music lovers you know what day it is!

It’s Music Monday!

And I have an awesome post for all of you. This is one record no one can deny liking. I am sure you got it as stocking stuffer last month but if that guy in the red suit did not give it you then he made a huge mistake!

What record am I speaking of?

I am talking about none other than “The Young OG Project” by Fabolous. Since it made its debut last month at number twenty-five on the Billboard Top 200 on December 15th it has been in steady rotation not only on rap radio stations both terrestrial and on the internet but on pop music counterparts as well . On Christmas day it peaked at number two. As of the eighteenth day of this month it is holding steady at number twenty-one. Not bad for its first thirty-five days of public existence.

New York News

The early success is not only much deserved but it has also garnered Fab some solid acclaim from music critics. And it is safe to say that it meets my stamp of approval. I cannot help but love “Gone For The Winter” and “Cinnamon Apple” featuring Kevin Hart.

What you’re getting is the same classic Fabolous mixed with his ode to the rap music of the early to mid-1990s that we not only grew up on but love and sorely miss. But let’s get real here the boom bap of the aforementioned decade never went away like some in the media would like you to believe. It has been here all along and has not only survived but outlasted trends in the music industry with regard to rap music. It’s sort of like how the entire culture shifts around Rakim. I know this and you my very educated audience know this as well. But enough with my musing over this topic before my words become a complete diatribe.

Just sit back. Listen. Then let your head nod.

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Thee Nine Three

Here’s some music for all of you that I came across last week. This comes from a six-man hip-hop group dubbed Thee Nine Three hailing from Hoboken, New Jersey. And if you know anything about rap and hip hop in general you know that Jersey has pumped out some heavy hitters over the past thirty years with regard to both the genre and culture. Although the single “Movement” has been out for a year the song is relatively new to me and you the visitors of my blog. I dig them and I hope all of you do too. Enjoy!

For more information on Thee Nine Three visit their website at www.theeninethree.com.

5 artists who should also have a crack at defining the sound of 2015

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Before the close of 2014 the BBC released its annual long (BBC Long List 2015) list of artists who they believe will not only dominate but define the musical landscape for the following year. This long list was republished by the folks over at MTV, yes a network that used to play music videos on its flagship channel. Although the list is one that is pretty eclectic in its own right I like many may not agree with it. I just like MTV and the rest of the music consuming public are also in eager anticipation of the short list to follow from the BBC. However, MTV put its two pennies in with one of their own (MTV’s 5 Artists Who Will Define The Sound Of 2015).

I again some of those artists from the BBC list made the cut. Yet I cannot help but respectfully disagree with them on it. Yes I know to each their own. So I came up with a list all my own based on artists I have either covered or have been on my radar for quite some time.

Now here are my five artists who should also have a crack at defining the sound of 2015. And if at least one out of the five crack the barrier I’ll still look like a genius. Hey, at least I’m being optimistic here not everyone can get two out of three like Meatloaf.

MTV’s 5 Artists Who Will Define The Sound Of 2015

1. Making Movies

Latin alternative fusion rockers Making Movies have managed to crack the top of my list because I can truly not only appreciate their music but also the band’s hustle. The Kansas City, MO based quartet is in the mold of a true working band. The self-described “road dogs” are currently on a North American tour which brings them to such places as southern California and Chicago. Not a bad way to start 2015 considering that about a year ago they released a stirring rendition of the Hector LaVoe classic “Aguanile”. The sound band has created is one all their own and it does not hurt one bit to have Steve Berlin of Los Lobos at the helm when it comes to production. Making Movies has made some considerable strides with regard to press recognition but I feel they are long overdue for break through success as are the artists following them on this list. Don’t be too surprised if you hear and see some new material from the boys this year that could and should be in heavy rotation.

For more information on Making Movies you can visit their web site at mkngmvs.com.

2. Bradd Marquis

What is there to say about Bradd Marquis? Well do you have a whole day? If not I’ll break it down in this read really quickly. Armed with powerful vocal chords and a deep sense of soul Bradd Marquis is on the cusp of reviving the R & B era of the early 90s of which he grew up on as a youngster. Last year proved to be one of growth for Marquis as he worked hard and received more recognition while pushing his album “Thank You”. Bradd is the kind of R & B singer who appeals to both male and female audiences. You can attribute this not only his awesome skill set but personality that exudes not only confidence but great humility. Kind of sounds like the Dark Knight when you come right down to it. That’s fitting for someone who is an avid fan of the aforementioned franchise. With all that said expect some big and bright things from Mr. Marquis with regard to live shows and new material.

You can purchase Thank You via ITunes and Amazon.

3. Neil Davis

If you don’t know who Neil Davis is by now and you live in New York City then shame on you. If you don’t know the singer-songwriter and you live outside of the five boroughs then you get a pass. Either way I’ll forgive all of you music lovers because you’re possibly being deprived of his talent for quite some time. The bottom line is the man is not only a gifted songwriter but has an awesome voice which has a slight amount of gravel that doesn’t compromise the use of his falsetto in his songs. Last year Neil continued to pepper Gotham with club dates, paid his dues with charity appearances and released the single “See You Again”. Knowing Neil the way I do he’s probably going to see this read and spit out what ever he’s drinking. Knowing him the way I do this will probably occur in front of his piano. I say this because he’s certainly crafting some tunes for 2015 that should make a dent in the charts. And that’s what I am anticipating some well-crafted pop music from Mr. Davis.

For more information on Neil Davis you can visit www.neildavismusic.com.

4. Pants Velour

Hmmmmm……Pants Velour?

What an interesting name! What an interesting musical concept! You want me to describe them? Okay let me be blunt here but with all respect due Pants Velour is what Black Eyed Peas could’ve been had they stood the course and not completely compromised its sound. Sounds a tad bit harsh you say? Well I’m not the only one on earth who feels this way. Take a listen to their four releases (Taxidermist, High In The City, The Quest for The 7 Jones and Fretless) and you’ll know exactly what I am talking about. Pants Velour is a hip hop group that fuses the culture with soulful R & B and a rather odd sense of humor in its music which fits right in with the Tommy Boy stable. Tom Sliverman loves to refer to his eclectic roster of acts as his “X-men” due to their personalities. I like to refer to them with as members of a different Marvel franchise. One that may look to avenge the musical landscape that has been polluted with fraudulent versions of hip hop music over the past decade beginning this year. Why not? They do have enough commercial appeal do get the job done.

For more information on Pants Velour visit them at www.pantsvelour.com.

5. Message to Venus

Alright earthlings! This just in! Message to Venus is a really good rock band! They may just very well be San Juan, Puerto Rico’s best kept secret not for too long. That may be due to their constant touring and building a core following which can be seen on all over social media that is steeped in the D.I.Y. ethic. Last year they completed work on their debut full-length album entitled Victims and Villains and launched an Indiegogo campaign where $11,000 was raised to help release and promote it. The also released the single “Hollow” to close out 2014. Let’s hope this effort carries into 2015 with a great measure of success.

For more information on Message to Venus visit them at www.messagetovenus.com.

My thoughts from ’93 until…

NirvanaIt was the fall of 1993, I was young and when I wasn’t following the dress code at 650 Grand Concourse I – like many of my generation – wore black. No, it wasn’t because I was in mourning. It was rather to best hide my chubby exterior and it was one of the cool things to do. But what was cooler than the attire that part of the year were the seminal albums that dropped.

Let’s face it my generation is the most completely spoiled of them all when it comes to music and overall pop culture. We had some great material to listen to. And if that wasn’t enough we were raiding our parents’ liquor and record cabinets with regularity. With both there was more than a little something for everyone.

With regard to the era I speak of this was the last shot many deem for truly classic material.

Think about it for a second. You had Souls of Mischief with “’93 til Infinity” plus Wu-Tang Clan released their first effort on the same day A Tribe Called Quest put forth “Midnight Marauders”. I remember the entire summer preceding the infamous release of “Enter the 36 Chambers” when the Wu received no love and respect throughout the city. Everywhere you went people called them Pu-Tang Clan. Mixtape DJ’s refused to play them as did radio station. Yet they persevered, earned their popularity and established a much deserved legacy that cannot be touched in the negative.

Man they really don’t fucking make records like these!

Speaking of the duplication of recorded material that cannot be achieved another album was released which was set to be the crown jewel of this class. Nirvana’s “In Utero” was the most anticipated of these records. It would also become known as sort of the swan song for the band as we all know what unfortunately occurred the following spring.

Recently the remaining band members Krist Novoselic, Dave Grhol and Pat Smear reunited with producer Steve Albini to re-master the record to commemorate its 20th anniversary as part of a box set. The package contains outtakes and rarities. It also includes the entire last taped appearance by Nirvana on American television, a New Years Eve concert dubbed Nirvana: Live and Loud. Now on the heels of this the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has announced the band as part of its list of nominees to be enshrined in 2014.

It’s a no brainer that Nirvana will get in right off the bat. How can they not? They’ve influenced a ton of bands in the past twenty years. Every single band has tried the loud quite loud dynamic in songwriting because of them. However, when it comes to the lyrical content no one can quite come close. Good luck trying that.

It’s safe to say that Nirvana was truly the band that left you wanting more. Of course they did, because they’d play for close to an hour then trash their gear to avoid encores. Today, twenty years later, we still want more and wonder what could’ve been.

As for me as a fan and reporter I cannot lie. I like everyone else would love to do press with the remaining members. For years I’ve compiled a list of questions for Dave, Krist and Pat. Some may have been asked before but I know one that hasn’t and I won’t release it until I get them live on-air.

When will this occur? Soon I hope. But who knows? Not me.

Crossing boundaries and colors with “Magic Trix”

20130508-115326.jpgLet’s say on one sultry day in San Juan, Puerto Rico Ani DiFranco, Regina Spektor and La Lupe all met up. They were introduced to the Pixies and Aphex Twin. All are trapped in the same space under the hot sun, were made to join forces and form a choir fusing their musical styles at the insistence of a director by the name of Eddie Palmieri. What would one get? What would be the outcome? The answer may have very well been found this past Friday night at the Cameo in Brooklyn, New York.

Xenia Rubinos, who hails from Hartford, Connecticut and is of Puerto Rican and Cuban ancestry, has lived in the borough for the past six years in order to pursue her dreams of musical success. The singer/songwriter looks to be well on her way and doing it on her own terms with the release of her debut album “Magic Trix” on the independent Bada Bing Records label. Rubinos performance at the Cameo was part of a party to celebrate the release of the record and it was met with a packed house full of die-hard supporters.

“It’s a really homemade record. Some of these songs are ten years old but some were written as recently as a year ago”, Xenia says of the album which was co-produced in her basement with drummer Marco Buccelli and engineered by Grammy Award-winner Jeremy Loucas. “Marco is a sound wizard and I would bring these ideas to him and we’d craft them. The record was all tracked live to give that sound as if we were playing live. Marco ran his drums through distortion pedals to get his sounds.  In the case of this record its best experienced live.”

As for the music it does display a wide range of musical influences which have enriched Rubinos life and career thus far. Xenia states that her father was a classical music fan who often took her to shows. And while she grew up on salsa and Afro Cuban jazz she developed a healthy appetite for other forms of music. Although she started out as jazz singer and composer being influenced by the likes of Mingus, Abbey Lincoln and the Bad Plus; she would eventually move on to create instrumental and electronic music.

Somewhere on artistic plain between bopping out to Bjork and head nodding to A Tribe Called Quest, Rubinos came to a musical epiphany that would cause the late Kurt Cobain sport a grin that would be the envy of the Kool Aid Man. “I fell in love with ‘Surfer Rosa’”, Xenia opined. “I felt I could relate to the Pixies and Minor Threat when I listened to them. It basically opened the doors for me. Thinking about music in terms of genre became useless. I saw how limiting that was since there’s so much great music. It’s silly and it doesn’t serve any purpose since there’s so much great music out there. I think of it as colors and different tastes.”

It with its authoritative vocals, 1970s Moog sound from the keyboard and Buccelli’s powerful percussive force “Magic Trix” has an appeal that goes across boundaries both ethnic and social. Anyone who attended the show at the Cameo can attest to this. Even hipsters in the crowd were shouting about the need to learn Spanish while in complete awe of the songs “Pan y Café”, “Prendas”, “Ultima” and “Los Mangopaunos” which served as an encore.

“I don’t want to be pigeonholed as a latin artist. I don’t feel I’m a latin artist. I consider myself to be a person making music”, declares Rubinos with regard to her craft and concerns of the growing investment in the “Trillon Dollar” Latino Media Market.  “My ethnicity is important to me. It makes me who I am. I do happen to be a Latina woman making music. But I’m not a Latin artist. I feel Latin media doesn’t speak for me or represent me because a lot of the cultural figures that are propagated and promoted don’t reflect me. I don’t hate it nor am I bitter about it. But there is more to us than that. These stereotypes such as Carmen Miranda with a banana on her head are stunting our growth as a people. I let my work speak for itself.”

If you have any questions, comments, or story suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at DanielRivera2424@gmail.com. Also, follow me on Twitter @DanielRivera24 and I will do the very same.

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