Tag: hip-hop

Star Slinger finds sweet spot between headphones, dance floor

Boston Globe, May 6, 2012 Even by today’s accelerated standard of Internet-amplified music fame, this one happened pretty fast. Two years ago, the producer Star Slinger was just Darren Williams, age 24 at the time, another provincial British kid messing around making beats, albeit with a degree in music technology from a college in Leeds. […]

Rapper Big K.R.I.T. serves rhymes caught in a time-honored tension

Boston Globe, April 29, 2012 There’s a juxtaposition you sometimes hear in hip-hop, a mood swing that throws the listener from heights of hedonistic excess to the depths of an artist’s soul-searching on life, loss, and the meaning of it all. Strip-club anthems might give way to raw expressions of despair, even laced with evocations […]

Best of 2011: Siddhartha Mitter

Soundcheck, WNYC Radio, December 22, 2011 This week’s year-in-review special continues with Siddhartha Mitter, a music journalist who contributes to the Boston Globe, MTV Iggy, MTV Desi and other outlets. Siddhartha Mitter’s list: Three Great Songs: Frank Ocean, “Novacane” Musiq Soulchild, “Yes” SBTRKT featuring Sampha, “Hold On” World Music that Isn’t “World Music”: Chamber Music (album) […]

From Seattle, with a clean slate

Boston Globe, November 4, 2011 Their new album’s title is a shout-out to 1930s Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein, born of their fascination with film studies. The songs are oblique tributes and reflections inspired by film stars, activists, political prisoners, Barack Obama, and … weedhead comic Tommy Chong. Two tracks are eulogies of a kind: one […]

Das Racist is not your typical rap story

Boston Globe, September 23, 2011 NEW YORK – Back in the day – that is to say, a couple of years ago – Himanshu Suri held down a suit-and-tie job channeling executive talent to Wall Street. That was before he became Heems, full-time rapper and music entrepreneur and one of two MCs in the absurdist […]

MC Ras Ceylon: One love from Sri Lanka to Jamaica

MTV Desi, June 6, 2011 “The Gideon Force was the regiment that kicked the fascists out of Ethiopia,” explains Oakland-based MC Ras Ceylon. The force, he says, resisted the Italian incursion against the Ethiopia of Haile Selassie, the emperor sacred to Rastafarians. It inspired the title of the latest mixtape from the reggae and hip hop […]

Giving GURU his due

Boston Globe, May 20, 2011 Edo G. remembers well the day when Guru set off from Boston for New York City in search of fame and fortune. Back then, in the mid-’80s, Guru was known as Keithy E. – the stage name of Keith Elam, son of a judge and a librarian from a respected […]

Wrecking crew: Odd Future

Boston Globe, May 8, 2011 “They say I’m immature, I say that they’re repressed.” It’s an eternal complaint of misunderstood youth, and, in this instance, a line from the wildly talented and at times deeply off-putting debut album “Bastard,” by the young and outre Los Angeles rapper Tyler, the Creator. The line also sums up […]

DJ Rekha: from the basement to the White House

MTV Desi, April 27, 2011 Ah, Easter in America. Chocolate bunnies and Easter eggs, kids running around the lawn — and bhangra? Yes! At the White House, no less. New York’s own indispensable Desi producer and all-around culture maven DJ Rekha has been seen at the White House a few times since Barack Obama’s election. Fresh back […]

Drawing “Attention”

Boston Globe, January 15, 2010 An aerial pan of the Capitol and Washington Monument opens the video for “Chillin,” the lead single from Wale’s debut album, “Attention Deficit.” To the song’s plump, bouncy beat, a sequence of D.C. images unfolds: Obama posters on hollowed-out buildings, street signs on Georgia Avenue, the football powerhouse Cardozo High […]

Raekwon’s second act

Boston Globe, December 11, 2009 NEW YORK – On a late Monday night in a Brooklyn industrial zone, with the damp chill of early winter descending, trucks clatter down deserted streets, and the rapper Raekwon settles in for a session in the place where he feels most at ease: the studio. “We had a day […]

Free to play all of who they are

Boston Globe, August 23, 2009 For years they’ve feigned split personalities, building their name and platform in jazz with straight-ahead trios or quartets, while nurturing their generation’s funk roots and mash-up aesthetic through side projects or hip-hop moonlighting gigs. But new albums out this week from vibraphonist Stefon Harris and pianist Robert Glasper, both among […]

Rapping on the door of opportunity: Kaysha

Boston Globe, May 31, 2009 “I’ve always had a double identity,” says Edward Mokolo, who raps, sings, and produces under the name Kaysha. And that’s a simple way to put it. Congolese by birth, French by education, American by affinity, Caribbean by adoption, Pan-African by choice, the 35-year-old Kaysha is a walking pop hybrid who […]

This one’s for Coltrane: GURU

Boston Globe, September 26, 2008 NEW YORK – They burned bright … and faded fast. Of the phenomenal MCs who lit up hip-hop in its late 1980s and early 1990s golden age, turning it from a regional novelty to the most influential arts movement of our time, few remain in the limelight. Rakim, KRS-One, Big […]

Nothing wrong with a little hip-hop nostalgia

Boston Globe, July 25, 2007 Summer is the season of nostalgia and reunion tours, and hip-hop is no exception to this pop music rule. Though hip-hop finds the bulk of its audience in the under-30 crowd, the genre has now been around for longer than many of its listeners have been alive; there’s no shortage […]

The hip-hop generation in Africa: Ghana and Ivory Coast

Afropop Worldwide, April 2007 Produced by Siddhartha Mitter. Follow link for audio. We explore the current pop music of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, two countries where elements of hip-hop and international pop music have grafted themselves onto local styles to create whole new genres-ones robust enough to not only take over the local youth culture […]

Rakim: It’s time for hip-hop to take a stand

Boston Globe, August 4, 2006 For lovers of classic hip-hop, tomorrow’s Peace Boston concert on City Hall Plaza offers a rare chance to travel back in time with some of the genre’s defining artists. The top draw is Rakim, considered by many the greatest rapper of all time. He’s joined by CL Smooth, Nice & […]

He’s busy representing

Boston Globe, June 2, 2006 CAMBRIDGE—It’s been a busy season for MC Kabir. The local hip- hop stalwart has just released his third album, “Peaceful Solutions.” He earned an item in last week’s New Yorker, and MTV’s South Asian channel has asked him to guest VJ. He’s about to get married. And, of no less […]

Ghostface has style and substance

Boston Globe, April 15, 2006 Not long after Ghostface Killah hit the stage Thursday night at the Paradise, someone in front reached up to hand the rapper a box. It contained a pair of sky-blue Wallabies, his fetish throwback footwear, and he beamed as he tried them on, the color enriching an already fruity outfit […]

Another Atlanta style shakes up the charts

Boston Globe, January 22, 2006 If you listen to urban music at all, chances are that you can’t get “Laffy Taffy” out of your head. With its goofy refrain (“Shake that laffy taffy”) and barely- there synthesized beats, the infectious first single from the album “Down for Life,” by Atlanta band D4L, is topping charts […]

Jean Grae stays true to herself

Boston Globe, November 29, 2005 “My name is Jean, and I rap. And I try to be really honest about it.” That’s how Jean Grae introduces herself. Grae, a favorite of the hip-hop underground, has made honesty the north star of her journey to recognition and, she hopes, commercial success. But despite three albums and […]

The world according to Mike Ladd

Boston Globe, November 20, 2005 It’s a twisty road to pop success. All hard work and talent can promise is recognition by a few peers and a place in the purgatory called the “underground.” From then on, it’s usually about either “going commercial” or simply persisting. But Cambridge-raised poet and producer Mike Ladd has found […]

With carefree spirit, he raps on the high life

Boston Globe, November 5, 2005 For years Houston has boasted as vibrant and creative a scene as exists anywhere in hip-hop. The Boston audience has been slow to catch on, however, whether because of the overweening influence of New York styles or because the viscous beats of the Texas metropolis are alien to listeners deadened […]

Hip-hop fest breaks through

Boston Globe, August 4, 2005 The year was 1989, and in the cities of the East Coast, hip-hop was happening. MCs squared off on street and stage, mixing wisecracks and social critique to the cutting and scratching of DJs and acrobatic moves of breakdancers in matching outfits and high- top fades. Countless records on fledgling […]