Hip Hop is how I define myself. Hip Hop did not start in the late 70's. It started long ago, undefined, from several points around the globe culminating into what we now call Hip Hop. Hip Hop is a way, a feeling, a thought. This blog reflects my Hip Hop.

Thank you for paying attention.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Hue Dawn...

I don't review albums any longer.

Before Al Gore blessed us with the Internet, in-depth album reviews seemed necessary … because they were. You typically couldn't hear an album before it came out. Many moons ago, until mega-stores like HMV allowed you to preview CD purchases at their listening stations, you had to rely on the word of professional critics or family/friends who were privy to music before it was released. It was a time when having a great single and video was important. Nowadays, not so much. With digital vehicles such as Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Rhapsody, Tidal, Google Play, NPR, etc., you can stream and listen to entire albums days, and very often weeks, before their official release dates. Who needs reviewers any longer? You can make up your own damn mind.


Unfortunately what lies at the very foundation of the entertainment industry is still a need for solid, word-of-mouth type promotion and marketing. Potential listeners or consumers can't preview music if they don't know about said music. That's why I like to share music. Music is everything to me and nothing to others. But if I take my time to share something, it's for a reason ... or several. That being said, I long-winded that intro for one simple pitch: The Hue's Aurora.

My love for rap, downtempo, chillhop, electronica, nu-jazz and soul music based on familiar tempos knows no bounds. The Hue has dropped an album I have been waiting to hear for a long time. Not only have I been waiting for them to drop Aurora after hearing Slick (featuring Ladybug Mecca, formerly of Digable Planets), I've been waiting for this album. This is grown rap music. There are messages here. There is love here. There is solidarity here. The songs are full, musical and allowed to breathe. I appreciate songs from the 70's & 80's that were six minutes and longer. I blame disco, funk, Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind & Fire and a slew of other artists for that. The Hue have delivered an album that sits directly in that pocket. The shortest song clocks in at just under four minutes, the longest at almost ten. Aurora's songs aren't for the quit hit. They're for the long start-to-finish listen, for the intimate concert performance, for the serious chillout session. Aurora also hearkens back to a time when lyrics weren't unnecessarily hard or offensive and production was clean, sharp, tight and simple. Nothing here is rushed and you can hear it. I could type a lot more but I would rather you listen to the album and come to your own conclusion. The Hue have managed to balancing rapping, singing and instrumentation in a way that many groups haven't done recently. Their effort should not go ignored.

Listen to and/or purchase Aurora here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Kandace Springs Eternal....

Kandace Springs @ Rockwood, NYC 8/19/2014
It is no secret that I love good music. It’s also no secret that I love good LIVE music. I also love meeting those artists who are responsible for making good live music possible. Last night, I met Kandace Springs after her performance at Rockwood Music Hall on the Lower East Side in Manhattan. I am rarely ever starstruck but to say I wasn't would only serve to do Ms. Springs a disservice. Her cover of Sam Smith’s "Stay With Me" is one of my favorites from the past year. It's wonderfully recorded and easily just as good or better than Sam's version.

As she stroked the ebony & ivory during her 30+ minute set, Kandace kept my complete attention as she performed "Stay" along with other covers and original material. Much to my surprise, she sounded exactly like her various recording. That is a beautiful thing to behold in music’s current state of refined digital production where even the most average of singers can be made to sound angelic. Her vocals are smooth, warm and soulfully unapologetic. Her stage presence is a mix of hip-hop, jazz, funk and soul but none of those styles overshadows the others. She blends all of those things together evenly to create a very solid live experience which I highly suggest you catch in an intimate setting. 

Prince once said in a Tavis Smiley interview, “I am music.” I disagree slightly with his opinion. I think music is an energy that some are able to channel easier than others; a language that some people are able to understand and translate better than most. Kandace seems to be one of those people. She gives music a reason to exist.

I must note that her version of 
Runnin' REALLY made my night. #JDILLA

Check out her latest single below and be on the hear-out for more. She's the truth. TRUST.

As always, thanks for reading...

~ Bigg Russ

Saturday, November 9, 2013

November 9, 1993...

...and the world hasn't been the same since

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Let the man finish...

We human beings don't live in a completely humane world and that is unfortunate. We have been, are, and will continue to be our own worst enemy. We kill each other. We lie to each other. We step on each other. We cheat each other. We steal from each other. We do all types of terrible things to each other - without remorse - and consistently without fail. A quote I read recently which really opened my eyes to something I knew but never noticed stated, "The evening news usually opens with 'Good evening...' and then proceeds to show you why it is not."

Mr. Cee is caught in a whirlpool of shit. He's a Black male DJ with island roots who spins music with historically misogynistic and homo-sexually-feared based lyrics for an industry all but distributed by white hetero- AND homosexual men who apparently aren't afraid to make shit-loads of money from said music so long as everyone is happy. That's not a knock on them (for now) but that's pretty much how the world works. So long as the end justifies the mean, people will be comfortable on some level. In my humble opinion, the recording industry has LONG known who Cee was, inside and out. But hat is not his issue.

His issue is that he doesn't live with THOSE people. He only gets paid by them. Cee lives and most likely regularly interacts with people from HIS culture. The West Indian culture is NOTORIOUS for anti-homosexual rhetoric and feelings which has lead to public humiliation, shame and very often violence. This is not Cee's first time getting caught and the back-and-forth of his situation is frustrating to a fan of the music he plays because it removes the focus from the music. I've read many opinions being thrown around that he should just come clean and do what's 'right'. Well .... it's way to fucking easy to sit on the outside looking in and tell him - the man that's going through the problem - to just 'quit denying who you truly are' and 'free yourself'. As far as I can tell, he *IS* being free with himself. A little TOO free, if you ask me. (You shouldn't be getting arrested THIS many times in such a SHORT period of space.) We, the listeners from afar, are not 'his people' though. We're his fans and appreciators of what he does FOR AN INCOME. Whether we enjoy his talents or not SHOULD be the only thing that matters to Cee ... because that affects his INCOME.

We live in a very real world where Cee understands that stories as distracting as this tend to work on the side of the Universe which controls the negative forces. It's not like coming out as gay/bi is going to get him MORE spins on the radio. All it's going to get is people looking at him differently. And being looked at differently USUALLY affects your income NEGATIVELY. Rap music has inundated our ears for decades about keeping it real and there is nothing realer than making sure you keep making money to feed yourself and your family. He was keeping it real to himself and that's fine by me. He was shutting up to keep his belly full. Whom am I to judge?

Outside of whatever law or personal moral code he's broken with his wife, family and CLOSE friends, Mr. Cee did nothing wrong to ME ... except threatening to stop playing the music. His nickname is The Finisher and that's what I suggest we allow him to do ... finish his time on this Earth tackling his personal issues with whatever energy he's got left after blowing out the speakers.

Bigg Russ

Monday, September 9, 2013

Returning To Form...

When I started this blog, it was to rant/rave/share my views regarding rap music and any and all thinks pertaining to the culture of hip hop as I saw fit to discuss. Somewhere, along the way, I misplaced (not lost) my motivation to write. I say misplaced because I knew it wasn't gone entirely. I just knew I had to refocus. Eventually. Someday.

I haven't stopped loving hip hop, not in the slightest. My enjoyment simply became a lot more internal as the days passed after my last entry.  I found new music and did not care to share how I felt about it. I read stories, both funny and not, and did not care to discuss them. I simply couldn't find the strength to kill that end boss that kept me from saving my desire.

Thanks to some very special friends and occurrences over the past year, my desire to share is back. And that makes me happy. It should make you happy too because I've decided to expand my focus a bit from just hip hop. I'm going to start writing about other genres of music and art which I feel interacts or cross-breeds with hip hop on some level and shouldn't be missed. I look forward to sharing again. Thanks for being here.

Bigg Russ

Friday, August 31, 2012

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Untitled (...for Trayvon Martin)

So, a young adult - an openly gay, 21 year old Black man - admitted to me that he didn't know who Trayvon Martin was. He said, for lack of a better term, that he simply doesn't listen to or read the news because it's "all depressing" and "...why would I want to see that everyday?" After explaining to him what happened to Trayvon he did say that he heard of a kid getting killed in Florida but that was it. I explained to him that the news you RECEIVE must be filtered by YOU. I told him that it is simply unwise - in today's crazy world - to cut yourself from ALL news because you perceive it to be unattractive. I think he understood what I meant but at 21 years of age I don't expect him to get it well into his 30's.

My generation is in a very weird place because the struggle we just missed by a couple of years doesn't seem as real now. It was taught to us as history, something that happened 'back then' without fully grasping that some of us were actually products of that struggle. Many of us have nestled into a safe zone where our bank accounts have eased our fears, publicly, and our sense of accomplishment has outweighed our need to strengthen our self-worth. This truth has disabled our children. Some of us are doing so well or struggling against so many invisible adversaries that our children take it for granted. In this age of instant gratification, over-political correctness, and Matrix-like social interaction I feel we have collectively missed the point of being where we are in our lives. There are many exceptions to my feelings, of course. I know some children who are so in tune with their souls that they often reinforce my belief in reincarnation. On the back end, some of our children - and us - are so far off our center that we might as well be space debris floating randomly among the stars.

How can we solve this issue as well as our others? I don't know. There is so much one individual can do for so many. Although, I will always believe the best way we can handle a collective issue is by everyone doing the best they can - individually. We don't always need 'leaders' to help us find our way. Most of us know what's going on around us. Most of us have the wherewithal and power necessary to fight ... but we find that we don't want to be on the front line. We're consistently hoping that someone else will step up in our place to represent our problem. What we, as parents, fail to realize is that WE are supposed to represent our problems. We're not superheros but we have a responsibility to our children to feed them with as much knowledge as possible about who they are and what they can become.

The young man I mentioned earlier is my step-son. He knows who he is but I will not allow him to be uninformed and unprepared. At times, he can be naive about life, as most of us were at 21, but he's got a solid and at least open to hearing me when I rave and rant. Trayvon Martin's death was unfortunate and, by taking a look at George Zimmerman's profile, most likely unavoidable. The key to stopping this from happening again is knowledge. And I plan on sharing as much as I can...

Thanks for reading...

Bigg Russ