Sunday, September 13, 2009

Get up Stand up Tour-Road to the Rhythms pt. 2

Get up Stand up Tour-Road to the Rhythms pt. 2

Im experiencing déjà vu as I write on another beautiful Brooklyn day.
There has been so much that 3P experienced on this tour, to date
the strongest . For those of you on facebook; to check the video, click
Straight Organics.

With Chapeau Rouge to that point feeling almost like the pinnacle, we began
the trip to Berlin, crazy early in the morning. Just to get a sense of that feeling though here is some footage from that show:

Prague to Germany went fairly smooth, despite a slight disturbance in the force. On one of the stops, German police came aboard to inspect passengers papers. I’m still not sure what exactly for, but another passenger told us its essentially border patrol. Needless to say in our car only three people were searched, myself and the Arabic couple. Touring while black I guess is a new one for me. We kept it moving and landed at the wonderful home of our peoples, Maria Kapix. “Mary-Land” opened up their kind hospitality to us once again. I cant thank Maria enough, beyond letting us crash, her generosity didn’t know any limits, we got you when you come to NY. This was my first time having a chance to rock in Berlin, and the feel of the city got me excited. Berlin is a multi-cultural city, with many different groups, religions, ethnicities living relatively in close proximity. Berlin has a real modern feel, concrete everywhere, (though not many skyscrapers) and a lot of movement, though people don’t seem overly in a hurry. Later on that afternoon, we actually had our first gig, the EOW outdoor jam at Alexander Platz.

We literally were on a run for the border after Chapeau Rouge, I myself chose to simply stay up. To that point, we might of had a collective six hours sleep in us. The scene at AlexanderPlatz was a serious wake up call. A steady crowd of about sixty or seventy people, passersbys, familiar heads (shouts to the three Maria's, and Navina, Marc Hype, DJ Sarah, Kemp Krew holdin it down...)and EOW heads filled this open air space under a clock that could've been a prop out of Brave New World. EOW Berlin is headed up by DJ Marc Bulet, an amazing DJ, organizer, and hip hop archivist. Along with Igadget, the two of them spun joints, and also "DJ'd" for the storm of artist there to perform. The format was very Sin-Sinesque as emcees were put down round robin style and at random. The live mixtape feel, kept the energy and vibe of the show moving, and hyped. Shefket, Amewou, Diamondog, Furious, BatKat, S-Rok, Alibi and many others along with collaboration from a youth organization GangwayBeatz rounded it all out. Olad Aden is the social worker running the organization, and he brought emcees and dancers from his programs. We are looking to get that Bronx to Berlin to Brooklyn connection going later this year.

One of the most impressive aspects of the show was the youth involvement. Berlin has a very vibrant hip hop/arts education foundation, although as Bulet pointed out to us at one point, several of the community centers these programs are running out of will be shut down. Even with the success that the culture has had in helping youth, the realities of economics still remain. The positive is that, Bulet, GangwayBeatz and others are still representing (Bulet himself a teaching artist, lecturer working with youth and hip hop culture). The Berlin community clearly has been around (having first been introduced to the culture around 1980-81 per Bulet, who like KRS-ONE can boast "I was there!") and it was evident in the styles. Furious, Shefket,Diamondog and Ali be in particular had such amazing timing, rhythm and flow. Its been great to hear artist who I may not be able to understand the literal language, but the skill and strength of their ability is obvious. Diamondog, actually is fam with my people from Nomadic Wax. An Angolan born emcee who migrated from Brazil to Germany, he is a global emcee. Rhyming in three languages, and going for his masters he probably can spit the fastest that I've ever seen personally live. The talent was crazy, and with the youth it was truly an amazing event.

Somehow after the event and debating on the next move we still were awake enough to do a run through of the show for the following night at Cassiopeia, (Oh yeah, Friday was a benefit and warm up!) We headed back to Bulet's spot in a neighborhood called Kreuzberg (named after "Cross Hill" which is the highest elevation in the area), a largely Turkish working class community. The history of Kreuzberg has similar parallels to a civil-rights era lower east side; protest, artists, squatters. Bulet gave us a brief history of his life living there, and of the neighborhood, even the current gentrification it is undergoing (sound familiar?) A husband and father of two children, it was great to see someone still fulfilling their dream. We ended up staying and checking out clips of influential German hip hop artists, and Bulet spinning tales of some of the exploits of he and his crew. The family atmosphere just seemed to be the norm while we've been in Europe.

Saturday night was Cassopiea and as I broke down to you in a previous blog, the place is ill. Tonight though, we were rocking with Smith & Smart, Berlinutz, John Robinson and Quazzar. Needless to say, the place was rocking. Smith & Start in particular had a mostly German crowd going bonkers. The interplay between emcee, DJ DJ/percussionist was dope. Quazzar, and John Robinson at this point goes without saying the level they bring it at. Its been a blessing building with truly dope artist who have a real appreciation for the music and the culture. Their success clearly comes from being on the humble, and tireless in putting in work. Whether its been them or J-Live we really got a glimpse of how to do it from these three, something to grow from. Once we got to the stage, the place was packed and hyped. Mission accomplished, I actually had to roll back home, on credible sources (Rabbi and Far) however the party didnt stop till Breakfast around 8 or 9 a.m.

Normally I'm down, but Sunday was our last day in Berlin and I was hoping to get a chance to really see the city. Plus, we were going to the studio with Bulet to try and lay down as many tracks as we could. S-Rok, Ali Be, BatKat and later on Diamondog all represented. It was actually real dope because Diamondog came with his people DJ Wordz and fam and brought a German BBQ right to us. In between writing sessions, their were freestyle ciphers outside being run off a car battery, Speaker, Grill and a ton of Schnitzel. I actually got Bulet to break it down a little...

Here is some footage of some of that Grafitti that is literally all around the community center. This is their wall of fame.

We ultimately ended up getting two tracks for the most part recorded. But there is more coming, also Furious and a few cats who didn't get in are laying vocals as well. Here is one of the joints Igadget got to finish. It features 3rd Party, BatKat on the chorus, Ali Be, and S-Rok:

No Means No (EOW Collabo NY/Berlin) by iGadget

My trip ended with a very late night session with Diamondog building on everything from KRS to the state of persons of color all over the globe. I continue to be encouraged and excited at the bond I share with brothas from other parts of the world. For me, it strengthens my belief that we are dealing with a worldwide struggle, for acceptance, for respect. Berlin as a whole has been a tremendous experience to witness their love of the culture, and the power that it has to bring so many like minded people from different backgrounds together. By Monday afternoon, I was back in Brooklyn. I'm still not sure words and pictures do justice what I felt and experienced over there. Get up Stand up was a true Award Tour. it again.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Get up Stand up Tour-Road to the Rhythms part I

Get up Stand up Tour – Road to the Rhythms part 1

As I’m writing this blog, I’m looking out my window in Brooklyn, Labor Day weekend. The sun is shining and after getting my thoughts clear enough through the nagging sinus cold and jet lag I want to wrap up what this amazing tour was, is and means. Again, for my Face Book People click this link to get the video Straight Organics

The second week of tour would prove to be are most rigorous. After the love fest that was Hip Hop Kemp Rabbi, Far and I got a van ride the few hours to Prague. We were greeted by Kuzhell and Loki and subsequently passed out for the day. Hip Hop Kemp took everything out of us, the last night with Marc Hype and Jim Dunloop was of historic proportions with the energy given and expended. Now, we were about to embark on a four show, six day excursion that would take us from Prague, back to Berlin. We woke up Monday morning refreshed (or so we thought….more on that shortly) and ready for our first rounds of promo, which began at Radio DJ with the lovely host Mary. The Prague leg of our week involved us celebrating the single release of Phillip TBC’s “Audible Thoughts” album on DaSka Records. Our history with TBC and DaSka records goes back several years starting with Rabbi’s first trips to Prague. Rabbi is the featured artist on the single “Czech Yourself” (I also have a track on the album, “We R Machines”, and Fresh Roots will be getting you the details on the release….) and for the next several days the mission was to get the word out.

Mary who is a talented musician in her own right (electric violin) did a great job of giving us not the standard fare of questions, and it was a very insightful interview. Needless to say, we made plans to rock with her on Thursday at Chapeau Rouge (Red Hat). After the radio session, we all split up as I made my way to do a Drum n Bass set with Ghonzales, aka “Honza” on Radio 23 at the Cross Club. Honza is the radio host for Radio Wave in Prague, and we had bonded on our last trip here. The Cross Club is a mix of the Matrix and the Borg. It has four levels that are decked out with moving lights and mechanical parts, with what looks like open board circuitry and tubing. Imagine the paneling taken off the inside of a spaceship leaving the wires, pipes, tubes and screws exposed, that is Cross Club.

Its always fun to rock Jungle, and Ghonzales had some nice atmospheric rhythms. The next goal is to get Black Opz overseas. From there I raced back to rock with 3P at “Freestyle Nandej” at Pantheon (the Prague version of Freestyle Mondays). Our boy Dowis had re-vamped Pantheon since the year prior that I had seen it (Farbeon went on tour with Core Rhythm in February and passed through while Rabbi and I were touring Brazil….). A flat projector screen in the main seating area, that had a video relay from the stage area, new art, fresh coat of paint and a hotter sound system were all pleasant surprises (see the Kemp video in the recap blog for a view of the spot). In the time we’ve been in Prague it has been clear that their fervor for hip hop is intense. It is a relatively young scene not only in age but within the culture itself. They are still hungry, and excited to hear dope flows, and raw beats. We were only too happy to oblige.

As the showcase for the evening, the stage was ours to rip apart. Prior to us performing, they had an open mic sign up were many of the up and coming talents in the city come to rock. The differences between the US and Czech versions of Freestyle Mondays (The legendary seven year open mic hosted, and started by our peoples Mariella, Illspokinn and the band the XO….) is that the DJ runs the beats, and it is not “cipher” style were the mic is passed. You have a two minute time limit, unless you are killing it, which then you get to keep rocking or if you are wack, a “stop” sign is administered and the mic is taken….(for those of you up on your hip hop history, the legendary Good Life Café open mic in L.A. was actually run in a very similar fashion…..) . The premier spitter of the night was a young fourteen (yes FOURTEEN) year old girl, by name of Sharkass. She had all the flows and the style. It is a challenge to make the Czech language sound super fluid over beats, and this young woman did so effortlessly. Needless to say she just might be a star on the rise in Eastern Europe.

Ever since my first trip overseas barely a year ago, I’ve become spoiled with the amount of love we receive. It reminds me of what I experienced being a young fan going to shows when I was in college. People are ready and willing to enjoy the music. This entire trip has been a great boost and reassurance that hip hop still has love in it. To see so many heads wiling out, jumping around, and really appreciating the effort, and energy we put in was humbling and inspiring, I have yet to feel let down any time I’ve touched down on foreign soil. Shouts to Laila (aka Mc Lady), Lucie, Dowis, Alesh and the rest of the crew, we ended up building with the heads in the spot and partying way too late. I personally got a chance to really build with some young heads from Italy and Bristol, England who spoke English. Shouts out to Finger Food and his crew whom I built with outside Pantheon for at least an hour, thank you for putting me up on some English cats and hitting me with your documentary.

So after what had to be the fourth night of late night rocking, partying and no sleep (till Brooklyn) I officially crashed. Thankfully the next two days were only a rehearsal and a couple of radio appearances but I ended up at Jaro’s on the couch nursing a pretty bad head cold and aches. I needed to make sure I was ready for the big show on Thursday, and for the rest of the trip, as we would do three shows in three days. Needless to say, the time to reflect and recharge was much needed , and by Thursday it was on to Chapeau Rouge.

Chapeau Rouge is a club that is in and around center city and again is a multi-level bar/club. They décor is very different from Pantheon and Cross Club in that it has a more old world feel. The lower level where we rocked was an intimate sweat box with a booming system and dope wooden floor. We even had a “backstage” again stocked with libation and refreshments (I really can get used to that…..). More of the same, and this might have been our best performance of the trip. Before us, however BeatBurger Band (Jaro Cossiga, Nasty, Ivan Hoe, and Andru, peace to Johnny 5) heated up the crowd with some classic interpretations of some early nineties dance classics (as Rabbi said, beatbox Jock Jams). The Beat Apetit crew has always shown they know how to throw a party, and the stage had already been lit by the time we got to it. There has been no question that the night was a success, and I will be putting together a very special show collage to show just exactly what I am talking about. Thursday was our last night in Prague, and the following morning it was on to Berlin for the final leg of the tour, stay tuned for part II.