1. MK Asante
2. Questlove Discusses His NYU Class, Looks Forward to More Teaching
“I know just what you want.
Put it in a song, alright.”
— Kendrick Lamar
A Pentecostal preacher sanctioned me to make my first Gangsta Rap record.
“Tick Tock” is the first of five songs I wrote and recorded for Lifelines to Healing’s upcoming soundtrack. All five tunes are composed, produced and engineered by Austin’s Galvin “g. LeDaris” McKinney.
To be clear, Lifelines to Healing is not a movie, but a movement focusing on American gun violence and mass incarceration. Our soundtrack contextualizes this movement led by National Director Michael McBride, easily one of the most impressive guys I’ve met.
Pastor Mike — as he’s known at The Way Christian Center church in Berkeley, CA — is a San Francisco native with a contagious fervor for social justice in the name of Jesus.
Would a typical pastor commission a Hip Hop soundtrack for a nationwide inter-faith campaign to heal communities? It may be more likely that a preacher would rally against rap music instead of make a custom order. (more…)
That line from Bavu Blakes opens up a cut on Third Root & DJ Chicken George’s Mind Elevation mixtape called “Scholar MCs”. Never mind that a guest vocalist summed up our project in six words, but this line is Third Root’s mission statement and I have to give credit where credit is due.
A couple of weeks ago Blakes sent a text message asking me how it felt to be working on projects we wouldn’t have done 10 years ago. My initial reply was that it was a blessing to still feel inspired and curious. But as I thought more about his question, I realized that it’s not so much the music I’m making but the life I’m living, that I didn’t see 10 years ago. With that said, it makes perfect sense that I’ve re-dedicated myself to music through Third Root since our platform as a group is education, black/brown unity, cultural identity and revolution. I’m currently pursuing a degree to teach English, so my day -to-day thoughts and actions fit right into the music I’ve been making with Mexican Stepgrandfather (UTSA professor Dr. Marco Cervantes) and DJ Chicken George.
1. 40 is Good to Nas
2. Jay-Z, Bullitts Scoring The Great Gatsby
He doesn’t have a résumé. But Matt Sonzala spent his 30′s pushing Houston aka Texas rap from the underground into the mainstream, and then pushing Hip Hop farther into the cosmos as the main urban booker for Austin’s world renown South by Southwest Music Festival. With all the access this role afforded him from 2004 to 2012, he’s still glad he didn’t grow up with the internet.
As an advocate and reluctant gatekeeper, Sonzala gets paranoid about naming lists of artists he loves, because he’ll inevitably forget to name everyone he knows in every interview. This illegitimate son-in-law of John Peel also theorizes that every city needs actual humans airing their own playlists on something like a KDAY.
Bavu: How much has South by Southwest grown you up in the past nine years, pretty much the last decade, as you transition into your 40’s?
Matt: That job was kind of a culmination of everything I did. I never had one job. I worked with magazines, community radio, promotions, booked shows since I was 17. Getting in [South by Southwest], I got to see the inner workings of how it’s done for real, for real. I know a lot of people in the music industry through just hanging out, doing what I’ve done over time. I never got super close with them. I’m not, like, in the music industry clique, I don’t think.
But then when I got with SXSW, I had to deal with pretty much the entire industry. I dealt with a lot of international stuff I’d never dealt with before. Across the board [I dealt] with Hip Hop, from  dealing with you, Swishahouse, the young dudes… on up to the last year’s with Shady and all that stuff. I dealt with guys from Norway who’ve worked with Texas artists – all the way over there. I really got to see the business on a wider scale.
Pushermania founder Matt Sonzala is about the same age as Hip Hop. The Erie, PA, native who has spent about half his life in Texas is an ambassador and savant of Texas rap from a global perspective. Yet he’s also an ambassador and savant of global rap from a Texas perspective.
As Sonzala watched Hip Hop mature into an American institution, like jazz before it, he’s fully embraced the concept of artist as product. At this point, a Hip Hop artist is an underground and mainstream product, evinced by new artists signing major record deals on the strength of a debut single.
From Sonzala’s perspective, Hip Hop’s 40-year expansion is mostly related to the growth of the rap concert industry. He’s seen it grow from one-song club performances to big shows and tours. And as a certified Hip Hop pusher, that’s his favorite part.
Bavu: What comes to your mind when you hear the four words, 12 letters HipHopGrewUp?
Matt: When I hear the words HipHopGrewUp… I’ve grown up. I’m right there. I’ve seen it. I was into it when I was a kid and now I’m 40, about to be 41 years old. I’ve seen it progress through so many different things and it’s really crazy for me to think about. Can we put on a show and expect – like, the guys that we love… are a bunch of 40 year olds gonna come out? I think about that… is that what we’re still holding on to? I think HipHopGrewUp is real, but it’s still a kid’s sport to an extent, to me.
It’s great that the legends and pioneers still do it. That’s great, and they should – if the music’s in them – keep bringing it out. All the legends I loved then, I love now. When we were growing up, Hip Hop wasn’t supposed to survive. Hip Hop wasn’t supposed to be anything but some simple ass music in the ghettos or whatever, and now it’s everywhere – literally everywhere you go.
To me, Hip Hop has grown up and expanded a lot.
[ When we first received an advance copy of the League of Extraordinary G'z new EP The Plug, we respectfully declined the option to review it for two reasons. First, we know them well and have collaborated with them, which certainly creates a biased perspective. Second, this music may not resonate with our core readership i.e. The Grown. But after seeing the LOEG'z "League Gift" toy drive, we had a change of heart and took the challenge anyway...]