Monday, June 29, 2009

Billy Mays makes a pitch to the stars, RIP Billy Mays master pitchman.

What the fuck is in the water this month? In the past month we've seen Ed McMahon, Farah Fawcett, Michael Jackson and now master pitchman Billy Mays all die.
Apparently Billy was traveling on a flight that had turbulence. He was hit on the head (by what I have no idea) during the flight.. When the flight landed and seemed fine. Billy went home went to bed and never awoke. He was found dead that next morning. He was 50 years old. WHAT THE FUCK?
This sounds eerily similar to what happened to Natasha Richardson earlier this year.
So I guess threes truth to the saying don't go to sleep after you've been hit in the head.
Anyway RIP Billy May, master pitchman, late night infomercials will never be the same.

Update: Apparently Billy's death was caused by heart failure not head trauma.

Anyway RIP Billy Mays master pitchmen.

Don't front on that oxi-clean. That stuff works

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Gang Starr, Hip Hop's Greatest Duo Part 1

Respect the chain and star

As someone whose new to blogging , I've been a reader for years but never the balls to just sit down and create one, this year I finally got off my ass and made the time to start a blog and say what's on my little mind. Combat Jack With Todays Mathmetics is one of my favorite blogs I read. I first found out about him through , where he dropped a few great hip hop stories. My personal favorite is the one where he talks about pete rock not being a snitch. Run Pete run. His post are great well thought informative and a pleasure to read. Robbie Ettelson's is another blog/site I am a regular reader, this site has a treasure trove of interviews with pioneers, forgotten songs and of course on point commentary. I have a lot of respect for both sites. Keep putting in the work fellas. More people out there on the internets need to be schooled on what real hip hop is.

Recently Robbie created a post stating that MOP is the best rap duo. Combat Jack replied in hos blog that the best rap duo is EPMD. After reading both of their well thought out treatises and retorts I have to ask the both of them. Are you both out of your minds? How can you have a discussion about best rap duos without including Gang Starr?

(For the record Run-DMC is a group. Don't forget about Jay Master Jay R.I.P)

After reading both of you arguments about whose the best Rap duo while well they were quite well thought and informed I was was dismayed that in neither of your arguments did even you mention the magnificent Gang Starr. Could my eyes and ears be deceiving me?

The formation and early albums of Gang Starr

Gang Starr is a duo consisting of Guru (Keith Elam) and DJ Premier (Chris Martin).
Guru is originally from Boston MA, the son of a judge and has a degree from Morehouse College. DJ Premier is from Brooklyn and went to college at Prairie View University. Surprisingly despite their longevity Premier is not an original member of Gang Starr. Guru left Boston for New York and landed in Brooklyn, there he created the name Gang Starr as a group with fellow members Damo D-Ski and DJ Wanna B Down. The group signed to Stu Fines fledgling Wild Pitch records and put out the ho hum singles "Bust A Move" and "The Lesson". Premier was a DJ for a another group the Inner City Posse (ICP) going by the name of Waxmaster C. (remember those old school B-boy names). The two met up when Guru heard a tape of the ICP and asked Waxmaster C to become a part of Gang Starr. A few months later after ICP disbanded and the other members of Gang Starr went their separate ways all that was left was Guru and Waxmaster C who eventually changed his name to DJ Premier.

The Former Waxmaster C

One of the things that make Gang Star a great group is that the combination of great production and solid mic work. Premier is one of hip hop's greatest producers. His signature style of a two bar sample and a scathed chorus has crafted some of the best hip hop ever produced. Guru's voice and rhyme style is to some an acquired taste. He seems to sound his best when he's teamed with Premier. Guru's (Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal) monotone delivery and a take it or leave it disposition make for a unique persona. Guru's voice doesn't have the presence of a Chuck D or Busta Rhymes. While his voice may not be booming he does have a distinctive voice. You can never mistake Guru for any other rapper. Guru also isn't the best lyricist. You're not going to see him freestyle through a commercial break ala' black though on teen summit years ago. He crafts his rhymes. His rhymes are well thought out and straight to the point, no complex metaphors or similes just straight no BS heartfelt lyrics. The pairing of Guru's voice and Premier's production are what Postive K would call a good combination.

My first introduction to Gang Star was through an episode of Rap City, I'm not sure if this in the Da Mayor Chris' Thomas rein or when he left the keys to Prime and Prince Dejour. Their first video Words I Manifest looked like something . The melody was simple. (only later did i find out that Premier used a sample from a Night in Tunisia) Guru and Premier come off as a sort of street prophets with a mixture of righteousness and street swagger. They wore suits and made their video like they were having a rally. Guru even wore the obligatory Malcolm X type glasses.

On their first album No more Mr. Nice Guy , Guru and Premier had other songs like Positivity, the title track and the instrumental classic DJ Premier in Deep Concentration. It wasn't a classic album but still had some bright spots. In 89 hip hop was in it's knowledge era when groups tried to kick knowledge and appear that they were righteous. The years 88-90 were interesting years in that materialism was actually out of style. Out were huge gold chains and in were African medallions and Malcolm X politics. No More Mr Nice guy was put out by Wild Pitch who seemed to have their hand in the signing of a number of notable groups, (OC, UMC's, Main Source) releasing some great music and screwing them out of their money.

The real introduction I got to the current Gang Starr was the video Just to Get a Rep. Guru and premier didn't wear any suits this time. They played it straight street, jeans tims and hoodies. . By 1991 Gangster hip hop had taken it's place at the front of the stage in hip hop. It showed in the tone of that video. Just to get a rep is filmed in gritty in black and white it's a cautionary street tale , the rise and fall of a stick up kid who gets his comeuppance in the end. My favorite track on Step in the Arena was Check the Technique, check the string sample and then the bass drop, beautiful. It's what hip hop is about for me. That BOOM BAP!

Step in the Arena announced the appearance of the real Gang Starr. This time the image was a little more street oriented the rhymes more on point. They still dispensed that knowledge in spades on the brilliant Street Mininstry. But this time they were more street. Street knowledge was the term for the early 90's east coast hip hop. No more Africa medallions. No suits . No Malcolm X glasses .Just Gang Starr and their crew. Step in the arena was more mature album than No more Mr Nice guy ,the chemistry between Guru and premier is clearly better, sharper. The subject matter more diverse. On Ex girl to Next Girl Premier's use of the trumpet samples to create a track where Guru triumphantly tells hes ex that he's through with her. again mostly jazz but still hip hop. He and Guru go together like two MC's listen to his cuts on Precisely the Right Rhymes, he packs as much punch as Guru, simplistic but packed.

Although sales didn't reflect it at the time Step in the arena was one of the best hip hop albums of 1991.

Also Gang star began to step out into the world of motion picture soundtracks. their first attempt was a gimmicky little tune they threw together for spike lees Mo Betta Blues soundtrack called a Jazz Thing. Actually it's rather funky with Premier sampling a bass and Guru jazz name dropping like crazy.

If the Step in the Arena announced the appearance of Gang Starr 1992's A Daily Operation was a declaration of who they were. Even the cover is more revealing. Guru has cuts in his eyebrows and Premo is chillin, stogie in his mouth, taking a break from the turntables and a picture of Malcolm X rests above Premier watching it all.
A Daily Operation showed the evolution of Gang Starr as a group. While Premier continued to using ill jazz samples. His sampling was becoming more advanced and diverse his scrathes more precise. Premier even experiments with beats instead of using every beat to make asong Premier simply created beat interlued92 interlude was an appetizer for Take it Personal later this same track found it's way onto Heavy D's slept on Blue Funk on a track called Yes Yes Y'all .
Guru, whose monotone voice was called bogin seemd more confident on songs like Execution of a Chump and B.Y.S he in compete command.

From the first singe Take it Personal you can see that Guru and Premier are on some grown man shit. Guru's monotone voice and direct almost casual You know you fucked up attitude toward backstabbers, a constant theme in many other Gang Starr songs. A Daily Operation is also a more mature sounding Gang Starr , in subject matter as well as production. Tracks like Too Deep and Conspiracy where Guru kickin straight knowledge, the street tale Solilquy of Chaos, which contains one of my all time favorite hip hop quotable 'the stupid Nigga playoffs'. Even the relationship song ex-girl to next girl is almost a update of Step in the Arena's Lovesick

The track that real hip hop heads were sweating wan I'm the Man featuring Lil Dap form the Group Home, an offshoot of Gang Starr and an unknown deadlocked rapper named Jeru the Damaja of the Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
What makes I'm the Man different from the legions of posse tracks is the fact that the beat switches to match each MC's flow. Guru sets things off lovely with his no nonsense flow over a simple drum loop, Lil Dap who has got to have one of the most annoying voices in hip hop actually sound nice over what sounds like a remix of PSK by Schooly D. The star of I'm the man is clearly Jeru the Damaja. He absolutely rips the track and when he say's I'm the mothefuckin man, you know he ain't bullshittin.

Take Two and Pass, a term used by weed smokers to enforce smokers etiquette was probably one of the best odes about puffin on that green stuff from the 90's. When Premier scratches MC Shan's words I may write a rhyme, when I'm done get blunted you know that Gang Starr are clicking on all cylinders.

A Daily Operation is from beginning to end the best Gang Starr album. While their other albums may have better songs no other Gang Starr album works as well as a complete package. It's the type of album you can pop into the tape deck and let it play.

That's Part 1 of my argument for Gang Starr. Stay tuned for Part 2 of Williedynamites Gang Starr, Hip Hop's Greatest hip hop duo.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Good news ! Sade at work on a new album

I read recently that the elusive and always engaging Sade was at work in the studio on their latest album. They've even set up a website with some details here. This is their first album in almost a decade. Her last album Lovers Rock was released in 2000.
Hot shit am I all excited! Sade is one of my favorite groups, bar none. They(remember Sade is a band not just Helen Folsade Adu) have crafted a loungy, melancholy brand of British soul that's clearly their own. Sade is one of those groups that make albums every so often and when they are released it's like an event. Needless to say I'll be copping at least one copy whenever it drops.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Was there a curse on 90's R&B singers?

I was just working on a post about some of the forgotten 90's R &B groups and I found this

Now I'm definitely not one of those conspiracy theorists
but I gotta put on my tin hat for this one.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Happy Birthday Roscoe Orman

If you read this site I'll bet you're wondering who does a thirty something librarian do by the name Williedynamite. It's no that into glorifying the pimp lifestyle or that i have some secret wish to become a pimp. I have at no time in my life aspired to be a pimp. Well maybe when I was 18 or so for a couple of summers but that's another story.This is a review of one of my favorite movies Willie Dynamite. The review is kind of snarky but funny, but the good stuff is what's below on the page. There are some images, sound clips and even a video clip from good ol Willie himself. Good Stuff!
As you can tell I'm a big fan of this movie, not just because it's from the early 70's,. The main reason I dig (70's reference) Willie Dynamite is because of one reason Roscoe Orman. For years I only knew Roscoe Orman as lovable Gordon Robinson from Sesame Street then one late night watching cable I discover this masterpiece and the rest is history.Willie Dynamite was Roscoe Orman's film debut If you watch him in this film he gives over the top Willie Dynamite his fire but doesn't overdo and veer into caricature or mockery. When Willie D's On top of the world you an feel his arrogance and nonchalance. As he falls he portrayed as human you feel for him.
Briefly the plot of Willie Dynamite is is about a pimp by the same name whose near the top and wants more. He's a pimp on the move. He's got a fleet of the finest women. He's got cars, money and this great lamb coat. Things couldn't have been better for Willie. But Willie's about to hit a string of bad luck. Rally bad luck He's at got the police rival pimps and a reformed prostitute turned social worker all after him. He's also a mama's boy whose been lying to his mother telling her he's sales man. Each of them have the effect of chipping off the facade of Willie Dynamite by all converging upon Willie D at the same time. from all sides and they slice Willie D on down to Gordon and we are along for the ride. One of the reasons I felt this film separated itself from the majority of the pimp films from the 70's in that it treats Willie as a three dimensional character he's neither the hero or the villain. It also doesn't end the way you would suspect.
I always wanted to know what good ol Gordon did before he wound up on Sesame street, well Willie Dynamite could be called the early years of Gordon Robinson.
I salute You Willie D!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Most underrated mc's

Whose the best MC? It seems that every website/ blog has a poll as to who they think is the best MC and in almost all cases the list goes something like this.
1. Biggie
2. Pac
3. Jay-z
4. Eminen
5. Nas
Depending on where you're from east, west or south , your age <21>30 the list will vary. has created an NCAA style tournament of the greatest ever MC's. You can check it out here. To me lists of the best MC's is really hit or miss. A lot of is depends on your knowledge of hip hop. A hip hop fan from 2000 has a much different perspective than one from 1995 and so on. Personally I think that this best MC gets way too much attention. Who cares whose the best between jay-z, nas eminen tupac biggie or _____________ .(insert your favorite rapper here) Many of these so called best of list are usually a forum for the writer or magazine to champion who they think is the best MC and whoever you say it is there's gong to be legions that will disagree with you so I find these whole best MC debate rather trite and asinine. Also many of these polls wind up being popularity contests so that kind of skews the results.
I'd rather give some space to the MC's who are just as good but not as well known. The MC's that has had some success but not as much as their talent deserves. What follows are three imbeded youtube videos of underrated MC's. I chose these three from youtube because they give you three different musical perspectives on what MC's some people feel are underrated. I say bully for all three. While I may not totally agree on the lists I cosign with the original posters intent. There is more to hip hop than whose the best MC. Take a look and judge for yourself
My list will follow sometime soon. keep yourself tuned in.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

RIP David Carridine Kwai Chang Caine from Kung Fu

By now I think everyone who cares have seen the new that actor David Carridine was found dead in a hotel in Thailand. The details are sketchy and the investigation looks to be a clusterfuck. Was his death a suicide or something else. Either way my heart goes out to the carridine family.
I can remember my first days of watching Kung Fu. The little known show from the early 70's that catipulted David Carridine from journeyman actor to star. The show was basically about a fugitive shaolin monk who travels thought the old west in search of his half brother, armed only with his knowledge of Kung Fu. The show alternated from his current adventures to his dreamlike memories of his training in the shaolin temple with Master Po.
As far as action shows go this one was actually pretty lame. David Carridine knew very little Kung FU but that was't the appeal of KF at least for me. It was Caine's zen like demeanor and of course his ability to defeat any combatant using his skills. He also was a cool motherfucker. That was one of the traits of David Carridine that transcended the confines of a simple early 70's action television show.
Think about it that quiet unassuming guy who didn't want any trouble and was always pushed to fight against their wishes but kicks ass that was David Carridines personality and it was that gave Kung Fu it's appeal. Anyone who has watched more than one Shaw brothers martial arts film owes a debt to Carridine and Kung Fu for helping to make the reluctant, spiritual fighter a mainstay that it was for many action films. If you only know David Carridine from Kill Bill or that god awful second version of Kung Fu go to you tube and take a gander at some of the old Kung Fu episode clips.
RIP Davind Carridine aka Kwai Chang Caine from Kung Fu.

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Writer, librarian, citizen of the world.