Thursday, June 29, 2006

Diggin' in the Cybercrates: Internet Samples, Volume 3

On the regular, Hip Hapa hooks you into the sites and sounds of the virtual world, offering up samples to help you make the perfect mix of your netsurfing. If you find a gem that needs inclusion, let us know and we'll post it.

For those in the mood for more cool jazz mixes to get you through the hot summer try checking out Clubbity Radio. From live online broadcasts to their news articles and album reviews Clubbity has what you need to satisfy that jazz fix you've been craving.

Giving you the play by play of his adventures in Japan this summer is University of Chicago history graduate student Ryan Yokota. His blog, Yonsei Days, chronicles Ryan's trip back to his ancestral roots as he conducts research for his dissertation. Get Ryan's take on everything from the controversial Yasukuni Jinja to his simple yet compelling theory on ramen.

How do the fun loving party guys OG and Mix76 get around to all the hot spots when in Tokyo? Read this insightful article on the unsung hero of train lines in Japan, the JR Yamanote Line.

Ever wonder if musical genius runs in the family? Check out the Southern California DJ and producer who claims John Coltrane as an uncle, Flying Lotus.

And if you just couldn't believe what you heard on the Chocolate Swim EP, learn more about Adult Swim's partner in crime on that project, Chocolate Industries, here.


Sunday, June 25, 2006

Say It Ain't So, Oz

Given that this site is in large part dedicated to the celebration of hip hop music and culture, it might be reasonable to assume that the handle I'm using, OG, stands for Original Gangsta. From that assumption, I think it would be perfectly acceptable to conclude that I am a tool, by rule of context; to echo a sentiment voiced by the Geto Boys, real gangstas don't blog (with apologies to Chuck D).

It's therefore worth noting, for the sake of the almighty image, that I did not pick this handle because I see myself as holding shit down with the old heads 'round the block, regulating this Internet since the beginning like I'm some thuggish Al Gore. As acknowledged, that would be a little silly. So let's be clear: OG stands for Ozzie Guillen. He's the former shortstop and current manager for my favorite professional sports franchise of all time, the Chicago White Sox.

Oh, yeah, that handle makes a lot more sense... The acceptable conclusion now is that I'm not so much a tool, but more of a moron. Yet let me explain: I launched my blogging career with a site about sports, and so the pseudonym fit at the time. I've since made a transition, but you dance with who brought you, and I feel no need to discontinue paying homage to one of my childhood idols... although the situation has recently required a reevaluation, for a different reason.

It may have slipped your notice, but my cyber-namesake is in a little hot water these days. This past week, the Blizzard of Oz called local sports reporter Jay Mariotti a fag. Both the local and national media have called for his suspension, the league will force him to undergo sensitivity training, and White Sox general manager Ken Williams has even broached the subject of firing Guillen. I don't feel the need to add to this maelstorm here (although I'd like to give a nod to this eloquent take elsewhere in the blogosphere). Rather, I figure I'd use the opportunity to ask what we are to do when the people we look up to do the wrong thing.

It may be a cynical thing to say, but I feel like I've reached the point where I expect to be disappointed by pretty much any public figure who I respect. It almost seems like to arrive at any kind of achievement that results in wide-spread adoration, a person has to have a hidden immorality, one which is inextricably linked to the drive that propels him or her to success. The prime examples that spring to my mind are Bill Clinton and Michael Jordan, both charismatic and talented men whose voracious motivation led them to seize greatness while ignoring those tethers of the super-ego that bind other individuals to normality. Either that, or we all have our private ugliness, but it's just that those who stride out into the limelight are more likely to have theirs exposed.

Regardless, the question remains. Just because you anticipated that your hero has flaws doesn't mean you've figured out a way to deal with having confirmation. Unfortunately, it's late, and I need to get some sleep, so I'm going to cop out and leave you to answer it.


Friday, June 23, 2006


Holy Shiznit!!! I can't even believe what I stumbled across right now as I was surfing the web. I am absolutely flipping out (and those of you who know me understand how I like to flip out over inconsequential matters that only I find exciting)! So last night, being the Adult Swim nerd that I am, I was getting my fix of the Family Guy when I heard a fresh Mos Def track during a commercial break. Recalling that I found the beat fairly bumpin' I decided to head to the Adult Swim website today to take another listen that track and the others on the Chocolate Swim EP. After navigating through the site I finally came across the page where the free Chocolate Swim download was posted I began reading the album's track listing. As I got to the fifth track on the album I did a double take and then rejoiced! For there it was - the DJ Mitsu remix of "Ain't Right" that I had desperately been trying to obtain for over a year now. Mama mia!

Now let me explain to you the history of why I covet this track so much. About a year and a half ago for my birthday my boy O.G. hooked me up with the a hot joint by Chicago's very own Diverse. The album One A.M. was an instant classic in my book and it was definitely on heavy rotation in the iPod. I mean "Ain't Right" was like my subway anthem for a good six months as I wove underneath the streets of Tokyo on my way to work and school every morning.

So one day after school I decided to head down to Shibuya to pay my friends at the Jazzy Sport record shop a visit. I noticed that afternoon some new vinyl being displayed and was pumped to see that it was a Mitsu remix of Diverse's "Ain't Right". Immediately I had to hear it so Taro, Jazzy Sport's papa-san, was kind enough to pop it on the turntable for me. Needless to say I was hooked. Now because I don't own a pair of turntables (I know, I know... shame on me. What kinda true hip hop head doesn't have his own turntables?!) I requested a copy on CD in which Taro replied, "Nai yo (there isn't any)." A few weeks later I stopped by the shop again and ran into Mitsu himself who was warming up on the 1s and 2s for that night's performance. I told him how badass his remix was and asked if I could score a copy on CD. He said he would ask the distributor (or someone...I kind of forget???) for a copy and that he would get it to me.

Well, to make this long story short(er) I unfortunately left Tokyo before I could collect and I have spent the last year racking my brain on ways I could obtain the track. In fact, just two or three weeks ago I mulled over this very dilemma and had pretty much given up hope. That is until the brilliant minds (with impeccable tastes in music) at Adult Swim came through in the clutch and posted the Chocolate Swim EP. ARIGATO NE!

Oh! And if you like Chocolate Swim also checkout the Occult Hymn EP by Danger Doom.


Lt. Watada Update

Last Thursday we reported to you the story of Lt. Watada of the United States Army who made headlines by being one of the first active officers to publicly denounce the war and state that he would not deploy to Iraq with his brigade. Lt. Watada went through with his intentions Thursday morning by refusing orders to move to the nearby Air Force base to prepare for deployment. Lt. Watada’s attorney Eric Seitz stated, “This morning Lt. Watada has been restricted to base without any actual charges or proper process. By placing a complete gag order on Lt. Watada, the military has again shown that their first concern is silencing Lt. Watada's speech in opposition to the illegal war in Iraq. We will immediately challenge these highly questionable and improper restrictions." For more please visit

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Life is Art

For those of you who will be in New York City this summer be sure and check out the work of Japanese artist Pesu at ZAKKA. Pesu is a one of a kind graffiti artist that has developed his own signature style that is a must see for all you hip hop heads out there. The exhibit "Life is Art" will open on July 14th and run through August 6th. Opening night festivities will include music by DJ Monchan and live painting by Pesu himself.

And if you still cannot get enough of Pesu head over to The Madison Loft on July 1st and watch him rip the mic along side Mr. Metaphor at The Declaration of International Hip Hop.


Sunday, June 18, 2006

Diggin' in the Cybercrates: Internet Samples, Volume 2

On the regular, Hip Hapa hooks you into the sites and sounds of the virtual world, offering up samples to help you make the perfect mix of your netsurfing. If you find a gem that needs inclusion, let us know and we'll post it.

Klosterman on Danger Mouse in The New York Times? The definition of can't miss. Check out this great article on Gnarls Barkley.

Can't a rapper work the groupies without the whole Internet getting the deets? I guess not. Sorry Nas, you're exposed here.

California leads the way with more box-checking awesomeness. Props to Senator Joe Simitian for proposing “The Ethnic Heritage Respect and Recognition Act."

Despite the fact that he doesn't respond to our emails, we'll still link to Oliver Wang's post on Tokyo Drift, cuz it's easier than seeing the movie and writing about it ourselves.

Nope, it has nothing to do with anything we do on this site, but the ADP wants you to know about this deliciousness.


Thursday, June 15, 2006

Heroic Soldier

In case you needed more reasons to oppose the current war in Iraq, a brave Army officer out of Fort Lewis in Washington has just given us another. Ehren Watada of Hawaii, a First Lieutenant in the United States Army has made headlines recently claiming that he can no longer support the war because he feels that it is an illegal war of occupation. Watada has stated that he feels "that we have been lied to and betrayed by this administration." However, despite his courage in coming out publicly against the war, conservatives, as expected, have flipped out and have called for his head. Many of Watada's critics have been throwing around terms such as "court martial," "dissenter," and "deserter" to try and humiliate and scare Watada (and those who support him) into rethinking his decision to not deploy to Iraq with his brigade.

Its understandable why conservatives would lash out against a strong individual such as Watada - they're embarrassed! This war has been a joke since the beginning and its supporters are grasping for anything to rally around. One of the main arguments against Watada is that he chose to join the military and now he must live with the consequences of his actions. However, this conscious decision to join the Army does not weaken the importance of Watada's actions but instead makes them even more convincing. Lt. Watada was not just a kid who jumped into a foolish decision right away. After careful deliberation Watada felt that it was his duty as an American to help out in the war on terror. However, the fact that such a patriotic young American now opposes this war leads me to believe that there are many compelling reasons for his views. And, since Watada is an officer and on the "inside," he is clearly more informed about the war than the average civilian. Like his decision to become an officer in the Army, Watada has again made another careful and well-thought decision not to support the war in Iraq.

Critics have also complained that Lt. Watada is disobeying orders and that, as an officer, this is completely unacceptable. However, although it appears that Watada is disobeying direct orders, he is in fact living up to his duty as an officer of the United States Army. Watada stated that "It is the duty, the obligation of every soldier, and specifically the officers, to evaluate the legality, the truth behind every order - including the order to go to war." Lt. Watada has therefore fulfilled his duty as an officer by evaluating the military's involvement in Iraq and voicing his concern over its legality.

Furthermore, Watada's decision not to deploy with his brigade is not unfair to his fellow soldiers as many claim. Watada's actions are in fact very supportive of those soldiers already serving in Iraq. By refusing to deploy Lt. Watada is taking a very symbolic action to help end this war, an action that would bring troops home and out of harms way. Lt. Watada should be applauded by those wishing to come home soon to their families and friends.

I sincerely hope that Lt. Ehren Watada will go down in history with other great Americans like Fred Korematsu and Rosa Parks who defied orders and laws in order to fight the injustices of their times. Again, critics will point to the fact that, unlike Parks and Korematsu, Watada is a military man who is never suppose to disobey orders. However, this is what makes Ehren Watada's actions so significant and heroic. Though the war in Iraq has brought criticism from many (retired) military officials, including six generals, Lt. Watada is the only one with balls enough to voice his opposition while still active in the service. We salute you lieutenant!

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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Diggin' in the Cybercrates: Internet Samples, Volume 1

On the regular, Hip Hapa hooks you into the sites and sounds of the virtual world, offering up samples to help you make the perfect mix of your netsurfing. If you find a gem that needs inclusion, let us know and we'll post it.

We lead this first "official" links list with an invitation for you to join us on the space that is ours. Friendster, it's been a pleasure, but we're fickle like that.

In case you haven't seen it yet, we'd like to point out that The Roots currently have a special homage to Jay Dee on their site, with a bunch of downloads from live shows. Peep 'em.

Badass hapa hitman John Rain is back in Barry Eisler's The Last Assassin, the newly released fifth book in a series of electrifying international thrillers. Not only does Eisler always deliver a fun read, but he provides practical information as well, like how to kill with your bare hands or where to get a nice single-malt whiskey in Osaka.

Yeah, it probably deserves its own post, but for now, we'll note that Kip Fulbeck's The Hapa Project continues to enjoy a share of the limelight. If you were in LA this weekend, maybe you had a chance to drop in on the opening of the related photo exhibition at the Japanese American National Museum. It'll be up through October 29.

Finally, the Chicago Tribune rolled out their own recap of The Coup's recent show in Chitown. Does it stack up to what we give you here? You be the judge.


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Nisei Graduation

As high school seniors throughout the country graduate this week a few special ceremonies are taking place up and down the state of California. Walking with the Class of 2006 this year will be a number of Nisei (second generation Japanese Americans) who were forced into internment camps during World War II and unable to receive their high school diplomas. Such ceremonies have been taking place since the late 1990s but became officially supported by the California legislature when Assembly Bill 781 was signed into law in 2004. Introduced by Assemblymember Sally Lieber, AB 781 allows school districts to award diplomas to those Japanese Americans who could not finish their high school education because of the hardships they faced during the war. Through AB 781 and The California Nisei High School Diploma Project over 200 elderly Japanese Americans throughout the state have already been honored by their former high schools and dozens more will proudly don their caps and gowns this year. Minna-san omedetou gozaimasu!


Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Coup Comes to Chicago

Just about 24 hours ago, I was in the Abbey Pub over at Grace and Elston on Chicago's northwest side to see everyone's favorite hip hop revolutionaries, The Coup.

As expected, they put on a bangin' show, despite the fact that Pam The Funkstress was not around to tear up the wax (I later learned through their My Space Blog that she's only joining the tour for select cities).

Here's a quick rundown of the night:

The ADP and I roll in a little after 9PM. Not much later, the first act of the evening starts, a group named Royce who I've never heard of. The two MCs have decent flow, but I'm not feeling the band that's backing them up. One of the dudes on the mic pokes fun at the bassist's shiny silver jacket, calling him a baked potato. The ADP notes, "Future jackets via 'Star Trek' should stay in the past." We wait out the set over High Life and curry fries, watching with a mix of amusement and amazement that this group, despite their low profile, have accumulated themselves the rapt attention of a trio of chickenheads.

There's a short break before the next group, Abstract Giants, comes on. I've never heard of them before either, but they grab my attention with their first song. They have one more rapper than Royce, and their lyrical delivery is more integrated and practiced. Also, their band brings a sound which has more fullness to it, and I find myself enjoying the music, despite the distracting resemblance one of the MCees shares with that dude from Insync (or is it Backstreet Boys?). This guy performs in bare feet, prompting the ADP to comment, "It's just sad that some people can't afford shoes." Not far from the stage, the representative from Royce who teased his own bassist is working a chickenhead. You go, Royce.

During the ensuing break, I am happy to see the roadies bring up a couple of turntables. I like the use of live instruments and all, but sometimes you need to scratch that vinyl itch. The man on the wheels of steel goes by DJ True Justice, laying the tracks for T-Kash and some other cat whose name I don't catch. I definitely catch that they rep the Guerrilla Funk music label, since it's emblazoned on the backs of their jackets, and since they aren't afraid to name-drop labelmates Public Enemy and Paris multiple times. Regardless, the crew performs with plenty of energy, and I dig their style. Noticing another tenuous celebrity resemblance, the ADP kids that "Carlton Banks has gained some serious weight," and on a trip to the restroom, I observe that the dude from Royce is losing out on the groupie tip to some tall, skinny guy in a White Sox hat.

By the time The Coup gets on, it's nearly 1AM, and the crowd is pushing capacity of the small venue. The turntables have been removed, and a live band is back (2 guitars and a drummer). They kick things off with "Everythang," the first track on Party Music, and after the band belts out the first few bars, Boots Riley marches in to rawkus cheers and applause. He's wearing a black, long-sleeve button-down with bright flames stiched across the chest and back, and the afro looks like it could have four full inches to it. He shimmies and struts up and down the stage, spitting rhymes in that distinct drawl of his. The audience eats it up.

The set consists of 20 songs, roughly equal parts Party Music and Pick a Bigger Weapon, with a sprinkling of tracks from Steal This Album. On many of them, Boots is accompanied by a vocalist named Silk E, who does more wild gyrating than actual singing. The band plays some of the songs quite a bit differently than how they were recorded in studio, and a few of them are abbreviated versions. They come in rapid succession, with only a pause or two, like when Riley stops to give a plug to the Not Your Soldier cause. The group leaves the stage briefly before wrapping up with a two-song encore of "Ghetto Manifesto" (a personal favorite, although I'm disappointed that the "funky guitar" lick is absent despite the presence of an actual guitar) and "Wear Clean Draws."

The crowd filters out pretty quickly afterwards, and we have a chance to say hi to Boots back by the merchandise table. We compliment him on a job well done, and when I ask why they cut "Jesus the Pimp" short, he responds that we'd be there all night if they didn't. It's damn late as it is, so we take a final cell phone camera photo (I'll post it if the ADP can ever figure out how to send photos from his phone; trust me though, it's sweet) and bounce from the spot.

The final word from my companion: "Best hip hop show I've been to in ten years, including Dilated Peoples, Wu Tang Clan and Kanye West."

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Hip Hapa Mix Tapes, Part 1: DJ 40oz

The Hip Hapa Mix Tape interview series offers original Q&As with skilled artists from all across the hip hop universe. For the inaugural installment of this recurrent feature, we probe the mind of DJ 40oz (that's his logo below - you know you love it). He's the resident DJ at Streetside Bar & Grill on the west side of Chicago, a seasoned music journalist, and the ranting polemicist behind the website

Where are you from? Chicago, IL.

What’s your birth date? 07/31/1976.

When did you first become interested in hip hop music? Early 80s.

What was the first hip hop album you bought? Run DMC’s Raising Hell.

When did you get your first set of turntables? How much? What kind? Late 80s; used for cheap; not sure of the brands but they were belt drives without pitch control.

What equipment do you use now? 2 or 3 Technics 1200s and whatever mixer is handy.

How did you come up with your handle? I was 18 and thought it was a good idea to name myself after a cheap bottle of beer.

Who has influenced you the most musically? As a DJ, early Chicago house jocks, Premier, Z-Trip, Mr. Scruff; musically there’s way too many to list.

How big is your cache of records? How often do you dig? Approximately 2,000 records; whenever I have the cash.

What’s your favorite record in your collection? LOL – come on, that’s like asking which child is my favorite.

In your opinion, who is the best DJ of all time? This depends on factors, but for straight up rocking a party while innovating in DJ style and skill I’ll take either Z-Trip or Mr. Scruff.

In your opinion, who are some up-and-coming DJs? Angry Skinny, Amin Drinks.

Would you rather be in a studio recording or at a club performing? Performing.

What is your favorite nightclub to perform at? The Dugout in Athens, Ohio (RIP) and Red Dog in Chicago, IL (RIP).

What projects are you currently working on? DJ 40oz. Plays the Blues and the long overdue Hip Hops Volume 16.

Where do you find inspiration for new music? It comes to me in dreams.

What other hip hop artists have you enjoyed working with the most? Zion I, Del, Amin Drinks.

What artist would you like to work with that you haven’t worked with yet? DJ Premier the king of beats, Madlib the upstart gunning for the crown, and Jay Dee (RIP) the only other visionary on par with Madlib.

What are your long-term goals as a DJ? To continue playing records as long as electricity is ample and cheap.

What CD is sitting in your stereo right now? Right now I’m listening to a playlist including Gnarls Barkley, Beck, Spoon, Styrofoam, Phoenix, Get Him Eat Him, Islands, The Psychadelic Furs, Scissor Sisters, The Unicorns, The Talking Heads, The White Stripes, The Arcade Fire, The Dandy Warhols and The Bravery.