Posted by novoscene on June 12, 2008
Oakland’s Hieroglyphics are on the bill for Saturday.
UPDATE: We just got the news that Saturday’s Paid Dues concert in Berkeley has been canceled. Find on more information on refunds on the festival website.
Underground hip hop heads rejoice-your time is here. As the 3rd annual Paid Dues Festival swings through Berkeley this Saturday, so come the legions of dreadlock sporting, Mos Def quoting, 50 Cent dissing, super lyrical MC’s and bedroom DJ’s that have followed the fest’s Pied Piper call for Real Hip Hop since it’s debut 3 years ago.
Armed with backpacks full of promo mix CD’s, bottled water, fliers for the next hot open mic night and an encyclopedic knowledge of rap history, they’ll descend on the Berkeley Community Theater for an afternoon of serious rhyme saying, beat breaking and head nodding courtesy of a line up that includes Mos, Rakim, De La Soul, Gza and Oakland’s Hieroglyphics and Blackalicious. Along with the Rock the Bells festival that takes place later this summer, the case could be made that Paid Dues is one of the best things to happen to hip hop since Black Moon first started rocking backpacks in the early 90′s.
The brainchild of uber MC Murs 3:16 from the Living Legends crew, Paid Dues is a national touring festival that celebrates the non-mainstream artist. The festival name comes from the concept of Paying Your Dues-grinding and hustling your way up from the bottom of the barrel to the top spot-from carrying the DJ’s crates and sneaking in clubs through the exit door to headlining Madison Square Garden. These are the artists you usually won’t find on MTV and KMEL but who play a critical role in promoting hip hop as a culture and not just a marketing tool for high end Vodka. They’ve amassed loyal followings through independent hustling, creating buzz on sites like Myspace and Imeem and generally working their asses off to get their music to the people-from pushing their product on the BART platform during rush hour to slipping promo CD’s into copies of local weekly newspapers.
Little Brother at Paid Dues 2008
While not always the case, underground heads are usually known more for a dedication to craft than cash and lean more towards the anti capitalism, left of center side of things than most of the artists found on KMEL and the latest Billboard top 10. This tendency has led to the branding of all underground rap as “Conscious” and focused more on social justice and everyday life than spinning rims and Escalades. And while artists like the aforementioned Mos, De La and Little Brother and are active in grassroots politics and organizing endeavors, they-along with MC’s like Supernatural, GZA and Yak Ballz are just as likely spit rhymes about lyrical murder or whacked our social observations as they are to drop a track supporting the democratic presidential nominee.
Chances are, if you’re a hip hop head, backpacker, activist rapper or the like you’ve already got your ticket and are on your way to camp out overnight next to the stage. But if you’re just entering the underground then this show just might change your mind about the culture and what’s really going down in the bedroom studios and freestyle ciphers around the country.-Kwan Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in 7. Profiles, Berkeley, oakland | Tagged: Paid Dues Festival | Leave a Comment »
Posted by novoscene on January 15, 2008
Danny Hoch is Taking Over
For the next month expect a lot of discussion about gentrification and consumerism over at the Berkeley Rep-folks moving in moving out, urban redeveloping and the take over of space-as hip hop theater artist Danny Hoch premiers his first solo show in 10 years.
The new play “Taking Over” grapples with the issues of displacement and gentrification in trademark Hoch style. Through a collection of 10 characters based on people he’s come in contact with during his 20 year stay in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the actor, director and Hip Hop Theater Festival founder dissects what happens when a neighborhood gets a facelift. Using the uncanny knack for mimicry first displayed in the 1998’s Jails, Hospitals and Hip Hop ,the voices range from the trust funded hipster to the militant rapper to the big budget developer.
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Posted in 7. Profiles, Berkeley, Hip, Hip Hop, Stage, Theater | Tagged: Berkeley Rep, Danny Hoch, Taking Over | 3 Comments »
Posted by novoscene on December 1, 2007
Slinging Words in the West
Theater goers, hoodstarz and music lovers all might want to check the Lower Bottom Players “NickelBottom 5 Penny Opera”, a series of short plays running tonight and tomorrow at the Eastside Arts Alliance.
The fivepenny opera plays on the concept of threepenny opera-a traditional Elizabethan style dedicated to working class and political theater.
Ayodele Nzinga, the show’s Artistic Director says the show is the result of her interest in fusing classical theater with modern themes. “I’m trying to bring together influences that you normally don’t see.”
Mack Dennis’ “Raising Sane” takes place in a New Orleans jail cell, where a former bus driver and Black Panther awaits trial on trumped up charges. Nzinga’s “Warrior Queen” is a moving account of the trials the West Oakland resident endured on her way to becoming a “North American Griot.”
Works by Lisa Marie Rollins, Mo Betta the Foster Child and The Turf Starz move from questioning racial identity and the adoption system to the pitfalls of making it out of the hood, either via success or a stretcher.
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Posted in 5. Weekend, 7. Profiles, Community, Hip Hop, oakland | Tagged: Ayodele Nzinga, Eastside Arts Alliance | Leave a Comment »
Posted by novoscene on October 23, 2007
The Talented Totimoshi
If you’re trying to look up the definition of Totimoshi in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, you’ll be stuck looking for a very long time. And if you ask one of the three band members to explain what it means, you won’t have much luck. That’s because Antonio Aguilar, Meg Castellanos and Chris Fugitt made it up. “It’s gibberish,” singer and guitarist Antonio told me. “It means absolutely nothing.”
The band was formed about ten years ago during the winter of 1997. When Meg began learning bass, Antonio was bursting with creativity and was beginning to write his own music and song lyrics. They had a rehearsal space on Telegraph across from the old Connoly’s and decided to end their shared participation in Valley Fever to form Totimoshi.
They describe their sound as “dark, heady rock and roll.” Songs like “The Dance of Snakes” serve as a testament by beginning with a heavy, thick bass line and an intimate, delicately coarse vocal entrance by Antonio. The breakdowns in the track are reminiscent of Isis or Mastodon which makes perfect sense. The latter was named as one of the band’s current favorites. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in 2. Tuesday, 7. Profiles, Booze, music, oakland | Tagged: oakland, The Stork Club, Totimoshi | Leave a Comment »