Wednesday, May 31, 2006

All We Care about Are Haircuts and Tennis Shoes

I figure we're going to need some standardized introductory disclaimer for this rampant linking, but that'll have to wait until the next Hip Hapa board meeting. In any case, here are a few spots for you to visit:

Chicago-area rapper Haiku had a release party for his second album over the Memorial Day weekend. Pick up his debut Brainstorms here, and keep your eye out for Blew, the new one. We'll review it if we get our shit together, and if we can get our hands on a copy.

One of my favorite sports blogs, FreeDarko, has more Adidas gossip today. Sorry, no Ray Fong fodder, but the subject does have an Asian name. What do you have to say, Los Angeles?

See you at the Abbey Pub this Saturday night!


Sunday, May 28, 2006

Revolutionary Radio

SALTY-ASS SOUR GRAPES!!!!!! That is how I feel on this beautiful holiday weekend right now. Instead of brining you a banging and inspired blog about a gem of a website I found three days ago, I'm just gonna give it to you plain. Why, you may ask? Because computers suck and the banging post was lost about fifteen minutes ago. I hate computers.

Anyways, check out bts radio. Its good. It has good music for you to enjoy. It has guest DJ sets from some quality artists from around the world - Kan Kick, Four Tet and DJ Mitsu the Beats just to name a few. Listen to this one by DJ Koga. I like it a lot. (I also like Che Guevara that's why I added his photo for no apparent reason other than the word "revolutionary" in the title of this post.)

Happy Memorial Day (that is the Holiday this weekend, right?).

Real Player required for listening.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A New Daddy Has Arrived

After a three-year hiatus, the long awaited album by Los Angeles duo People Under The Stairs finally dropped in April. Stepfather is twenty tracks of vintage PUTS that doesn't disappoint and makes their absence well worth the wait. I've often voiced to fellow hip hop heads my strong opinion that Thes One and Double K are the two most talented cats in the game today. This latest release is just further evidence that the two Angelenos are not only superior lyricists but absolute magicians in the production realm as well. Here's a glimpse at some selected tracks I currently have on heavy rotation.

Kicking off the album and getting fans hyped is the high-energy "Step In". Lyrically Thes One and Double K spit fire with a fast-paced frenzy of rhymes that come at you in a serious way. Thes shows us a little of his flow en espanol as well with "Seguimos con la onda nueva/ la bombetamax/ P elepe/ porque piraten los cds/ so accion..." "Step In" is a true party starter that gets your head nodding as well as your hips moving.

A lesson in rap 101 and nod to Black Sheep, "Pass The 40" has a stripped-down hardcore hip hop beat that screams for some street corner freestyle to accompany it. A base line you can cruise to with some ill scratching helps showcase the fresh rhymes reminiscent of shooting the shit with the boys on a porch or stoop somewhere. "Pass the 40 'cause my mother's not lookin'" speaks volumes as to the attitude, style and feel of these fundamentally-sound hip hop heads.

"Tuxedo Rap" brings alive hip hop of yesteryear when crews like Cold Crush ruled supreme. The beat has a 70s symphony funk to it with a violin sample used throughout. The syncopation of words and rhythms is reminiscent of classic MCees like Kurtis Blow, Grand Master Caz and the Almighty K.G. Also similar to these old schoolers is Thes and K's ability to tell stories and boast creatively of past rap glory.

The heartfelt "Days Like These" is a shout-out to all the loved ones that have shaped their lives and made them who they are today. From the strong women in K's life to the men from Thes' family who toiled in the fields, "Days" is a depiction of sacrifice and struggle and of the duo's deep appreciation for such efforts. The production sets a solemn and serious mood but keeps the head nodding and soul moving the entire time.

"Jamboree Pt. 2" paints the perfect picture of a weekend BBQ just winding down. It’s a jam that takes fans to that time of night when you've got a good buzz going from beer (and whatnot) and you begin bullshitting about times of old and the ladies you thought you had a chance with. The beat keeps the tone mellow and relaxed the way any good party should end.

Co-produced by Double K and the legendary George Clinton, "The Doctor and The Kidd" is a "rap" in the old school sense of the word. With his deep, rough voice, the genius that is George Clinton rambles some psychodelic knowledge and nonsense in an attempt to school us poindexters. George truly is "All looped up on that rap rhyme juice!"

Giving it up to the city they call home, "LA9X" is a tribute to Los Angeles and the great hip hop born in its streets. From the Pharcyde to Freestyle Fellowship, the two MCees reminisce over a smooth, light and dreamy track about the crews and the town that have inspired them. The perfect mood music to recall days of old and give praise to the City of Angels.

With a haunting chorus and an emotionally charged piano loop Thes and K get deep about relationships on "More Than You Know". The PUTS open up about forming stronger relationships with their significant others by learning from past mistakes, letting go of baggage and shedding fake facades. Thes and K share with the world the faults they see in themselves – as real as it gets in hip hop.

As with their last album, The P come through with a jammin' reggae infused joint on "Reflections". The wailing voice of Odell Johnson brings a spiritual rasta vibe to a funky beat that would inspire Bob himself. And like the pearls of wisdom Bob Marley used to impart in his music, "Reflections" speaks to the vices and distractions that can take control of our lives and lead us astray. Among the many jewels dropped on the song Thes One warns of "ignoring something inside/ like identifying with family, culture and pride/ you can't sell that inside of Walmart..." A revolutionary anthem for the ages.

With bass guitar that gets dirty like a porno flick (and I mean that in a good way!) I have to describe the track "You" as sultry and cool at the same time. This retro party song is a fun tag-team style rap between Double K and Thes One with well-placed scratch laced throughout. Evoking images of those great funk and soul songs from that era before hip hop, "You" could easily light up the dance floor at Odyssey 2001 and have those platform shoes pumping.

Enlisting the help of Crown City Rocker's one and only Kat Ouano, "On & On" rounds out the album in true PUTS fashion. As Kat works her magic on the keyboard one can envision a dimly lit bar with a jazzy cocktail in hand. And complementing this loungy-smooth beat is a flow that just goes... well... on and on. How good is this track you ask? In the words of Double K, "So good you can feel it/make a thief wanna steal it!"

A perfect melding of styles and sounds, Stepfather is a must-buy for fans of jazzy hip hop. With bass play that just grooves and drums that would make J Dilla proud, Thes One and Double K will have your headphones turned up for hours. From the beginning of the album to its very end, The P turn pure funk, soul, jazz and poetics into a hip hop masterpiece.

Labels: ,

Monday, May 22, 2006

Nice Hand Baby!

Ah yes... Nothing a poker player likes to hear more than the (above) words made famous by poker sensation Scotty Nguyen. Being a poker enthusiast myself I have wondered about the popularity of poker among Asian Americans and why so many seem to succeed at the hottest card game being played today. Though I have heard numerous theories from fellow Asian American poker players about why our communities love the game so much, the following link is an interesting look into whether we are getting the attention we deserve.

Asian Poker Players by Daniel Negreanu


Friday, May 19, 2006

Jackin' for Links

Caveat: This site does not intend to be just an amalgam of links to other areas of interest on Ye Grande Internet. Eventually, you can bank on Hip Hapa offering you the freshest of fresh content straight from the minds of your humble cyber-servants. But virtual nation-building takes much time and effort, so while we slog through intensive board meetings where we brainstorm on how to best lay out our manifesto without literally blowing your brain out the back of your head when our words of raw power hit your eyeballs... we still need to provide you with a reason to bookmark us, and spread the word that this is a spot worth visiting.

Today's gank move is off the World Wide Leader (the very outlet I meant to subvert last year with a now-dormant journalistic grassroots movement). In any case, peep this article on Asian athletes, which among other things will tell you how Timmy Chang got the shaft. Read it, and then go outside and start working on that three-step drop.


Sunday, May 14, 2006

Asian American Cinema: Eric Byler & Shawn Wong

Just wanted to drop in real quick with a link to my recent interview with hapa filmmaker Eric Byler and writer/professor Shawn Wong that's on IMDiversity's Asian-American Village right now. The interview page links up to the home page for their recent film release, Americanese, as well as to a review by Stewart Ikeda and an article by Shawn. Plenty of good reading - enjoy!

Labels: ,

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Drunken Conversations with Deuce Eclipse

With a tough week behind me and a full weekend ahead, I journeyed with some friends down to Club Game in Shibuya one night to checkout the always hype Zion I perform. Touring Japan with Zion during that trip was fellow Bay Area MC Deuce Eclipse. After watching the high-energy set (and after downing a few too many rum and cokes) I attempted to connect with Deuce and let him know that he wasn't the only Cali Latino in the house! Here, once again, is the entirety of that drunken conversation (or at least the parts I can remember).

Mix76: "Oye buey! What's up man?! Great show tonight!"

Deuce Eclipse: (Nodding his head.) "Thanks."

Mix: "So you from the Bay buey?"

DE: "Yeah ...Yeah..."

Mix: "Cool...Where abouts?"

DE: " San Francisco man... Hey checkout my CD man." (Reaching into his big bag of CDs.)

Mix: "Orale. Lived there all your life?"

DE:"Yeah. Born and raised in the City. So this is my latest [album] man." (Showing me the front and back cover.)

Mix:"Cool. I lived in the Bay for awhile man."

DE: "Alright." (With a slight nod of the head to acknowledge my lame statement Deuce quickly returns to pushin' the product.) "I sell you one for .... 1,000 yen man."

Mix: "Uhh... Alright. Only 1,000 yen , huh?"

Sensing how pointless my comments are becoming and how eager he is to hustle a few albums I begrudingly pull out the wallet and offer up the 1,000 yen. Then, as if we were on some street corner dice game or something, Deuce holds the 1,000 yen bill up to the light and with a discerning eye checks its authenticity! The whole time he's doing this I'm thinking to myself: A) haven't you only been in Japan two days, and B) when did you become such an expert in spotting counterfeit yen?! Disappointed from the "missed connection" but having passed the yen inspection I bid him farewell and headed over to the two mofos who truly get me... "Hey Bacardi ... Hey Cola."


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Not Sweating the Shop, Apparently

Last week, we posted a couple of thoughts on shoes and their weighty political significance. It seems that Ray Fong still illicits a reaction even after Adidas has pulled the Y1 HUF from the market... but the real response I wanted to provoke was with that image of the little girl. You know, the photo showing her slaving over those Nikes for pennies an hour? Well hey, at least that pair won't have some regretable racial caricature on the tongue. We should all be able to sleep better knowing that.

Alright, enough with the smarminess. I'm probably wearing sweatshop clothing as I type this. And I kind of doubt that the girl is making Nikes. Whatever. I just think it's sad that we get upset when it looks like our image is being harmed, but when someone gets harmed in the process of making our image, we don't get half as worked up.

It doesn't have to be that way. Not long ago, I saw a documentary entitled Grassroots Rising about sweatshops and workers' rights, and was pleased to find today that the filmmakers have a site that can provide direction to those who are interested in learning more about this kind of stuff. Please visit it here; some of the links are outdated, but there's still a lot of useful information worth checking out.


Brewed To Perfection & Always Smooth

Hip Hapa Japanese! Coming at ya soon in...


Monday, May 08, 2006

The Up And Coming

As always Hip Hapa strives to stay on top of all the latest in hip hop music and culture. This week we introduce a young producer coming straight outta the NYC via Gifu, Japan. Yaz Higashiya, chief beatmaker and co-founder of Old Souls Entertainment, has been serving down-tempo and jazz-laced hip hop tracks for the past couple of years now. Straying from convention, Yaz pursues his craft with diligence and a tireless imagination constantly searching for that perfect melding of sounds from various genres of music. Today's featured track entitled Demo 2 can be found on Old Soul's MySpace page along three other recently produced tracks from Yaz and labelmate Brian Boyle. Take a listen, critique and most of all enjoy.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Beyond Ray Fong

You probably know the story by now. Barry McGee, an accomplished hapa artist whose body of work includes a whole mess of graffiti, recently helped design a limited-edition shoe for sports apparel giant Adidas. That shoe – the Y1 HUF – featured Ray Fong, a cartoon character that is essentially the stylized self-portrait of McGee at a young age:

People were offended by this stereotypical and racist imagery, and the ensuing public outcry was loud and angry, resulting this week in Adidas pulling the remaining shoes from the shelves.

Now I agree with McGee’s defenders that art needs to be understood in context, but I stand with those who decry the dissemination of this kind of negative representation. I don't know if it's worth my trying to elaborate on this any further, since the issue is now fading. But I'll raise another issue that's related, one which I got to thinking about after reading a piece from another blog, where the author writes:

"Asian Americans, politically speaking, need to expend more energy on issues of urgent social justice import rather than getting perpetually hung up on the issue of negative images/stereotypes."

It made me realize that while we're talking about who designed the shoe, maybe we should also consider talking about who MADE the shoe.

What do you think?