Mad Decent - Diplo - Check It

One of the most influential DJ's in Hip Hop in the 21st Century, Philadelphia's Diplo has a worldwide following. He began making mixtapes composed of indie rock/hip-hop/funk/(genres I can't even label). The first time I saw him live, he was opening for RJD2 in DC in 2004, mixing Lil Jon over Weezer.

Now, he collaborates and mixes the music of musicians from all over the world. Whether its club music in Baltimore, Favela Hip-Hop in Brazil, Cumbia in South America, or Reggae in the Caribbean, Diplo makes dope music and gives exposure to all types of genres worldwide.

Diplo started a label, Mad Decent, that has some great artists - especially Bondo Do Role from Brazil.

They also put out podcasts on Mad Decent Radio -- over 50 of them so far. #39 South Rakkas crew is a good hip hop/reggae mix to start with. There are track listings for all of the podcasts are on the website.

On top of that, Diplo has a charity endeavor in Australia where he teaches disadvantaged youth about music production and sells the MP3's on ITunes to fund the project - Heaps Decent.

Oh, and Diplo is married to M.I.A. So yeah, hes the man.

Zion I: From Futuristic Spiritual Grooves to Party Songs

Zion I's Mind Over Matter is hands down one of my favorite albums of all time. I've been hooked since my first listen to Silly Pudddy (click below) back in high school. In this age we all get caught up in doing the I-Pod shuffle, which is fun but takes away from the concept of an album as a whole. It feels like it was just yesterday that I would struggle to jam my CD player/walkman into my short pockets and never skip a track. Seldom, do we listen to albums from start to finish anymore, but MC Zumbi and producer Amp Live's Mind Over Matter is well worth that trip. If you're new to the Zion I crew do yourself a favor and sit back for 13 min and 48 secs to listen to the tracks below. Note: I will continue with Zion I's musical evolution over the next few days Correction: weeks. Stay tuned...

Silly Puddy

Revolution (B-boy Anthem)

How Many


All Natural and the Baby Bulls Be Stylin It

Chi-town's All Natural (Capital D and DJ Tone B. Nimble) have put their lyrical arsenal on display since the late 90s. They bring pure, intelligent and socially aware flow to the hip hop scene. The duo's love for Chicago and hip hop is evident in their music and their devotion to give other Midwest hip hop acts limelight via the independent record label they started from the ground up. Enjoy the clips.

From All Natural's Latest Effort


Muxtape's Rebirth

Like many music heads, I miss the original Muxtape that brought the idea of the mixtape to the internet as it enabled people to download MP3s off their computers onto a playlist. It presented an intuitive and addictive way to share music with friends. Then, back in August Muxtape as we know it changed overnight. My Mextape playlist URL redirected back to the homepage where the following message read: "Muxtape will be unavailable for a brief period while we sort out a problem with the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America).

Despite its fate Muxtape bounced back with a new format that invites artists to share their music with music lovers. The new Muxtape strives to achieve the following in the near future: enable bands to sell downloads, allow users to make mixes of music featured on the site and provide a space for labels to manage their bands. Check out Freaknomics Blog's take on the second coming of Muxtape.

In spite of its losing battle with the RIAA Muxtape has demonstrated its adaptability and remained true to its orginal mission: introducing people to new music and exposing deserving musicians. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Reggie Watts.


Lazy Sunday Nooner: Endless Jay-Z Remixes

This one comes from rising pop duo Chester French aka two dudes that formed a band their freshman year at Harvard. They created their debut album "Love the Future"(which came out on 4.21.09) in their dorm and have collaborated with the likes of the Neptunes, Talib Kweli and The Clipse. Check out their catchy single "She Loves Everybody" below.

Funkghost: The Grand Extravagant Update

On Friday I posted about Tampa's best kept hip hop secret: Funkghost. His Ultra Boogie High Life LP went largely unnoticed. Despite a strong cult folllowing, his music remains nearly impossible to find. In fact this morning marks the first time I saw the album's real cover and it naturally led me to streams of 2 UBHL songs. Enjoy:

Funkghost- Tampa International (single)

Funkghost- Instructions

HiphoPolitico will do its small part to revive an album that should satisfy far more eardrums. As Bob said "One good thing about music, when it hits- you feel no pain." A second good thing about music is that regardless of the release date a new listen is always fresh.


YNPN's 2009 Leaders Conference: Transparent Synergy

had the pleasure of attending
Young Nonprofit Professionals Network’s (YNPN) 2009 Leaders conference. On a whole, today’s sessions revealed the abundance of knowledge and enthusiasm among YNPN members from California to the District of Columbia and addressed the need for YNPN chapters to maintain a high level of transparency among one another.

I was especially inspired by YNPN San Diego’s story. Previously serving on Denver YNPN Board of Directors, Emily Davis embraced her new residence in San Diego by seeking to develop a new YNPN chapter. In March of 2008 Emily crossed paths with fellow YNPN member Heather Carpenter, who shared the YNPN San Diego vision. Emily actually came equipped with YNPN business cards, flyers and sign up sheets to a networking event orchestrated by Heather. Her farsighted initiative proved successful as that event alone recruited 40 people to the YNPN San Diego cause.

The duo’s infectious zeal and extensive nonprofit and consulting experience have paid off as a year after its inception, YNPN San Diego boasts close to 300 members and is on the verge of launching its signature Professional Development Series. Simply put, the development of the San Diego chapter is a testament to the idea that individuals can make a difference. Stay inspired San Diego!


Fluid Friday

Funkghost's classic Ultra Boogie High Life(UBHL) LP dropped back in 2000. Honestly, I can not put how good the CD is into better words than Urbansmarts.com's review:

So what now? Are you stuck in a place where the sun don't shine, and where the gritty concrete of the streets you walk on, prevent you from even thinking of better days, of warm glistening sunbeams tickling your skin, that have you chill back, have your sprits be heated up and lay your head on the smooth surface of a blanket that good moods give to you to find a moment of true relaxation? Man, rid yourself of these shackles and board the Funkghost ship that will carry you into the sunset.
With only 20,000 copies in circulation, UBHL is rarer than a half Jewish Mexican( that's me), no doubt one of the most overlooked gems in hip hop history. Even all mighty google can not rescue Funkghost's sophisticated lyrics and jazzyness from obscurity. Lucky for me, my roomate introduced me to Funkghost my freshman year of college. At the time I was studying in St. Petersburg FL and Funkghost was doing his thing in Tampa, only a bridge apart yet if it wasn't for my roomate he probably would not have been on my radar. And none of us in our circle (Beecher Boys for Life) ever got a hold of the original album.

Almost 10 years after UBHL (hard to believe) Funkghost is back at it again. Enjoy the first single off "Dirty But Sophisticated." If its any indication of what's to come in 09 Funkghost's second effort will be far flashier. Time sure flys by but Funkghost's sound does not tire.


Philly, The City of Mural Love

The mural to the right won 2nd place in a legal graffiti contest hosted by a public park "El Bosque" ( that had been a beacon for illegal graffiti) in Torreon, Coahuila, Mexico.
NYC has taken a hard stance on graffiti- putting an end to metro trains being entirely covered in spray paint, local media painting graffiti artists as deceitful criminals and undercover cops taking the streets as artists. On the flip side, Philly in responding to the spread of graffiti by providing legal space, has come to be known as the mural capital.

The city of Brotherly Love along with private foundations have poured millions of dollars into fostering community murals. Philadelphia’s Anti-Graffiti Network (PAGN) gave birth to Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program (MAP) in 1986. PAGN founder Tim Spencer hoped the development of MAP would encourage graffiti artists to take on other arts while MAP head Jane Golden had envisioned today’s reality. MAP’s success landed Philadelphia the Innovations in American Government Award in 1991. Since its launch MAP has produced over 2,800 murals. That figure becomes more impressive when one considers that the average mural created by MAP is about the height of a three story house, each costing approximately 10 to 15 K. MAP is among the largest employers of artists in the city, employing over 300 artists a year. In addition to attracting talented artists and tourists, the murals have actively exhibited Philly’s diversity, culture and history.

The rise of legal walls around the world raises many questions. Some of the key ones being: Has the emergence of legal state sponsored murals deterred illegal graffiti? How do these community programs decide who is invited to paint murals and the site of legal walls? What censorship restrictions are there on legal graffiti murals in terms of subject matter? The answers to the above questions are blurry yet the mission of community mural projects is clear: prevent illegal graffiti, encourage neighborhood activism, promote youth development and create a sense of identity and dignity among residents of a community.
In response to a few incidents of vandalism, my own college chose to take the Philly route by installing a “graffiti wall." Enjoy the clip touring Philly murals below.

Since Philly is on HiphoPolitico's mind (disappointingly I have yet to make the trip to Philly, that will change in 09) I included a video clip from the legendary Roots crew.


About Time: Reflection Eternal Part 2 in the Horizons

It appears that the Train of Thought that had come to a halt is finally back on track. A preview of what's to come later on in 09. Stay tuned for the long awaited follow up album "Trainspotting" from duo Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek.

Lazy Sunday Nooner: Soulful Émigré

Siji’s soulful conga drum filled “Yearning for Home” (the first single off his new album adéSiji) showcases his musical repertoire, delves into his experiences as an immigrant and is a prime choice for your Sunday listening pleasures. After a close friend insisted that his impressive album would be incomplete without an accompanying video, Siji acted swiftly and self directed his debut music video.

In Siji’s own words: “The concept of the video was to shed light on my constant longing for my ancestral homeland Nigeria where I grew up. It was thus crucial for me to convey the sense of nostalgia we immigrants come to feel when far away from that which we affectionately call ‘Home.’ For even though we have come to make our new homes away from home, there forever remains a deep sense of longing for that which we left behind.” Siji, a native of Nigeria, is the second born of twelve children. Prior to heading over to the States to further pursue his music career, he spent part of his childhood in London and Lagos. It’s an uplifting song, one that I am sure many immigrants can resonate with.

On a very unrelated note, as I type I am watching the opener of the Lakers Jazz first round game and former coach and current commentator Jeff Van Gundy made the case for Kanye West (sitting courtside) being a one-name wonder a la Kobe. He also referred to Lakers backup Shannon Brown as Kriss Kross and proclaimed that his “mind is locked into hip hop.” Nothing beats playoff basketball, good tunes and a corona in hand on a Sunday afternoon.


Kevin Beacham's Redefinition Radio

I was recently introduced to Minnesota Public Radio- The Current's (89.3 FM) outstanding "Redefinition Radio" led by creator and music enthusiast Kevin Beacham. Beacham, who goes by DJ Nikoless, shares classic hip hop and slept on underground gems with a growing audience from 11 PM to midnight on Saturdays. Simply considering the abundance of stations dedicated to playing oldies and classic rock and the obvious absence of classic and obscure hip hop radio brings the importance of Redefinition Radio’s mission to life. Beacham’s radio show distinguishes itself from others as it usually devotes the hour set to an educational theme- storytelling, Minneapolis based hip hop, sampling and tributes among many others. Furthermore, Redefinition Radio exhibits a flawless balance between tracks that make one want to reminisce and fresh tunes that may have flew under the mainstream radar. While hip hop puts off eternally young vibes, it has been around long enough that the efforts of historians such as Beacham are indispensable. Enjoy!


1. Kill The Vultures - "Rock Bottomless" '09
Instrumental: Lewis Parker - "Fake Charades" '98
2. M.F. Grimm - "Vultures" '06
3. UMC's - "Morals" '91
4. Atmosphere - "Little Math You" '08
5. K.M.D - "Boy Who Cried Wolf" '91
Instrumental: Theory Hazit - "Cry Wolf" '08
6. O Type Star - "I Wish, I May" '96
7. Kinetic Order - "Deconstruct" '92
8. Edikut - "Visionary" '09
9. Qwel - "I Forgive" 'Em
10. 1000 (a.k.a Shame Love Tempo) featuring Larry Milla - "A Man, My Brother, & Me" '99
Instrumental: Custom - "Summer Evening Cruise" '07
11. John Morrison - "Play (A Snake Headed Rainbow)" '09
12. Sims - "Rap Practice" '09
13. Ill Poetic featuring Eternia & Reef The Lost Cauze - "Souled Out" '09
14. Blu & Mainframe - "Mama Told Me" '09
15. Low Profile - "That's Y They Do It" '89
Instrumental: Dr Dre - "What's The Difference" '01
16. Digital Underground - "Same Song" '91


Graffiti and Public Space

“Graffiti belongs to everyone and no one. On a section of a condemned wall, I put up a graffito… a bank director stopped the construction work, had my carving cut out as a fresco and inlayed it in the wall of his apartment.”
- Pablo Picasso

Bomb It challenges one's perspective of public space. Since viewing the film I have not been able to look at barren walls and those dressed in graffiti the same way. Before Bomb It my brain merely decided whether I found a particular graffiti piece aesthetically pleasing or not. Now, a sequence of questions come to mind: Why was this particular space chosen? Did it vandalize anyone's private property? Does it bring joy or disgust to others?

At one end of the graffiti public space debate you have artists that contend they are reviving downtrodden oft-neglected neighborhoods; that they are simply expressing themselves. On the opposite end one will find "anti-taggers" that argue that graffiti is uncivilized; that communities are being taken over by incomprehensible violently innate messages.

One particular scene from Bomb It in which Barcelona natives Kenor and Kode
are shown painting the side of an abandoned building along a narrow Barcelona passage way underscores the graffiti public space debate for me. An angry store owner confronts them, gestures in disbelief and suggests that the two artists lick the paint off the walls. On the other hand, passerbys express their delight. Kenor and Kode candidly proclaim they are adding life to a dull street.

Where do you stand? Is graffiti street art a series of free outdoor museums or outright vandalism? An outlet for expression or a cry for attention? A peaceful venture or one that wages war on others' liberties. Or, like most things in life, does it depend on the 5 w's and 1 h- Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? One thing is for certain, just as the omnipresent jumbled letters, vivid colors, spaces, messages and icons featured in graffiti street art work take time and research to decipher the culturally dense art form's history, purpose, commercialism and impact can not be taken at face value.

Kenor and Kode in Action

Bomb It director John Reis's Director Statement sheds light on his motivations and thoughts on public space.

Barcelona Street Art!

202 Beatdrops: Real Hip Hop on U

Brought to you by Kimani Anku of the solSource Group:

Real Hip Hop on U is a new concert series focused on bringing dedicated Hip Hop artists to the heart of Washington, DC - U Street. In it's first installation, Real Hip Hop on U Vol.1 brings Skillz (formerly Mad Skillz) to the heart of the city performing live with his band. The general public knows Skillz because he has been blazin' the Hip Hop world with his Year-End Wrap Up since 2002 and the real hip hop fans know skillz because he's simply a dope MC. Real Hip Hop on U Vol. 1 happens Friday, May 1, 2009 at Almaz (formerly the Kaffa House) featuring Skillz with additional performances by M!das, Shaka, RAthe MC and The Package. Hosted by Asheru & Maimouna Youssef with DJ's RBI & MarcNfinit on the main level and DJ Mel B EZ on the upper level. Doors open 9 pm. Ladies free b4 11 and fellas $10 before 11.


202 Beatdrops: Graffiti Without Borders

"Art ain't about paint it ain't about canvas its about ideas, too many people died without getting their mind out to the world." - Thornton Dial Sr.

I came across the above quote while wandering around DC's National Portrait Gallery at the tail end of last summer. It has stuck with me. The fourth outing of The Historical Society of DC and solSource's Hip Hop Cinema series made the quote pop into my head again. I imagine that many graffiti artists can resonate with it.

On Saturday April 4th 2009 DC locals were treated to a screening of
Bomb It. Jon Reiss's thought provoking documentary traces graffiti street art history, shows how the art form has evolved in different parts of the world and prompts viewers to question what pertains as public space and what can be defined as art. While Bomb It is decisively pro graffiti it still gives opponents face time.The ambitious film covers ample ground as it was shot in 5 continents and draws on several themes that are omnipresent in graffiti culture. It left me pondering an array of themes:

  • The never ending debate on whether graffiti is art or vandalism
  • What is public space?
  • The capitalization of graffiti art.
  • The thrill that comes with "tagging missions."
  • Graffiti as a crime
  • NYC's vs. Philly's approach to graffiti
  • The widespread presence of graffiti in city slums.
The Black and White arguments on opposite ends of the graffiti debate are persusive however I myself idenitfy with shades of Gray. Over the next few days HiphoPolitico will explore these themes as it pays tribute to one of the four elements of hip hop: graffiti writing.

Enjoy another trailer of Bomb It as well as footage from the LA scenes.