In my constant quest for new hip hop music I’ve seen one name come across my screen several times: Blue Scholars. Even though I’ve seen them mentioned by various underground hip hop fanboys, I’ve never given them a shot. I don’t exactly know why. Perhaps they were even on my todo list, I’m not sure. One of the members even appeared on CunninLynguists’ latest album, Strange Journey Vol. 2. The past few days I’ve decided to give them a listen and I have to say, I love what I hear. If you are as unfamiliar with the group as I was, let me give you a brief introduction. From their website:

Blue Scholars have emerged out of the erupting Northwest hip-hop scene with soulful beats, poetic yet political rhymes and a reputation for dynamic live performances. With two full length albums and 3 EPs, the group has become one of the top West Coast independent hip hop acts, known for their energetic and always entertaining live shows and a world view that blends the personal and the political, but unafraid to party in the process.

One of the problems with a lot of underground acts I come across is that they may have rhyming talent but have terrible beats. Or vice versa. This is not the case with Blue Scholars. Their beats are some of the best that I’ve heard in a while. Geologic’s flow matches perfectly with the fantastic sounds orchestrated by Sabzi. It’s a shame that there aren’t more acts like Blue Scholars hitting the mainstream. This is what hip hop on the radio needs to be. It’s also a shame that these guys have been around for a while and I’m just now hearing about them. I hope that I will see and hear much more from them in the future.

Two of my favorite songs come from their Oof! EP. Make sure you go buy their albums. You can buy then from their website or download them from Amazon or iTunes.

Blue Scholars – New People
[audio:04-New-People.mp3]

Blue Scholars – Cruz
[audio:06-Cruz.mp3]

You can also catch their video for HI-808 from the Oof! EP

Blue Scholars – HI-808 (Official Music Video) from Blue Scholars on Vimeo.

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I’ve been looking for some new music lately and asked my friends on twitter for some recommendations. That’s when @jessluther came to the rescue. She gave me some really good recommendations and now I’m going to pass them along to you. I’m posting three songs by two artists. I will give a few words of warning about the artists though: you might not like them at all. In fact, when I first started listening I wasn’t sure what to make of them, but the longer I listened the more I enjoyed the music. Listen and enjoy.

The first two songs are by Brett Dennen. He is described as a folk/pop singer-songwriter from Oakdale, California. He has been compared to Bob Dylan, Tracy Chapman, Jack Johnson, James Taylor, and Wynonna Judd.

Ain’t Gonna Lose You
[audio:11-Aint-Gonna-Lose-You.mp3]

Make You Crazy (Featuring Femi Kuti)
[audio:http://pieceofshep.com/audio/02-Make-You-Crazy.mp3]

The last song is by Sean Hayes. Sean Hayes’ musical sensibilities defy easy categorization. He’s considered a masterful songwriter and fingerpicker, playing everything from guitar to banjo to mandolin.

Hip Kids
[audio:http://pieceofshep.com/audio/04-hip-kids.mp3]

I saw a lot of hate last night in my twitter stream regarding The Golden Globe awards. Many of the people I follow thought that James Cameron and Avatar should not have won for Best Director and Best Drama respectively. While there were many good movies and directors this year, I do not think there is a case to be made for saying that Cameron/Avatar should not have won.

I understand that a lot of people don’t feel that Avatar was not a good drama, that the story was bad and the movie was just a big budget CGI-fest. For one, that really puts down the good acting by Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana. Secondly, while the story is a familiar one, how often have we seen the same theme in movies win award shows year after year. There’s a reason certain themes are portrayed over and over in movies: they are themes we can easily related to. Last, which has lest to do with the drama aspect and moreso for Best Director, James Cameron spent years trying to perfect a brand new technology in order to push forward the field of cinema. He directed every scene of that movie, instead of relying on secondary directors, because he was the only one (at the time) that could see the shot he was looking for using this new technology.

A lot of people were also criticizing Avatar for having a big budget and winning. Since when did all winners have to be indie movies that no one has ever seen (note: I love the indie genre)? Just because a movie has a big budget doesn’t mean that they are not award worthy. James Cameron has done an amazing thing with technology. He is doing what for movies today what Star Wars did 30 years ago. Why would he not be recognized for it? I really don’t understand the movie snobbery that took place last night.

On a side note, I love Robert Downey, Jr. but come on? Joseph Gordan-Levitt totally deserved the award for Best Actor in a Comedy.

image courtesy imwithcoco.com

In the late night debacle that NBC has created I’m siding with Conan. I think it is a huge mistake for NBC to put Leno back to his old time slot. Not only are they screwing over Conan but they are messing with the Tonight Show’s legacy. Leno should have bowed out gracefully. NBC is even worse for allowing Leno to fail at a prime time show, drawing viewers away from the Tonight Show, then telling him he can have his old time slot back. I hope Conan goes somewhere he is appreciated. I will never watch anything with Jay Leno ever again.

Comedian Patton Oswalt recently gave an interview while promoting his new movie on DVD Big Fan and he talked about the situation. He really sums it up quite well in the interview. The YouTube video has been removed but this quote sums up Conan and Leno perfectly.

“You almost want to take [Leno] aside and ask him: Why do you want this so badly?” said Oswalt. “Because you don’t do anything with it. Whereas Conan clearly wants the show because there’s things he’s dying to do with his writing staff and places he wants to take the show … Conan’s way better than he was at 12:30 p.m., so [NBC] keep your hands off.”

He goes on to say that Leno just wants to go and tell jokes. That’s not a bad thing, but he can do that anywhere. Conan actually cares about the Tonight Show’s legacy and wants to push that forward. He also points to Leno’s reputation as a nice guy in public but how he does little mean things when he doesn’t get what he wants and compares him to Richard Nixon. Conan has finally responded to this all. If you haven’t read Conan’s statement, I’ve posted it below. I suggest you read it now.

People of Earth:
In the last few days, I’ve been getting a lot of sympathy calls, and I want to start by making it clear that no one should waste a second feeling sorry for me. For 17 years, I’ve been getting paid to do what I love most and, in a world with real problems, I’ve been absurdly lucky. That said, I’ve been suddenly put in a very public predicament and my bosses are demanding an immediate decision.

Six years ago, I signed a contract with NBC to take over The Tonight Show in June of 2009. Like a lot of us, I grew up watching Johnny Carson every night and the chance to one day sit in that chair has meant everything to me. I worked long and hard to get that opportunity, passed up far more lucrative offers, and since 2004 I have spent literally hundreds of hours thinking of ways to extend the franchise long into the future. It was my mistaken belief that, like my predecessor, I would have the benefit of some time and, just as important, some degree of ratings support from the prime-time schedule. Building a lasting audience at 11:30 is impossible without both.

But sadly, we were never given that chance. After only seven months, with my Tonight Show in its infancy, NBC has decided to react to their terrible difficulties in prime-time by making a change in their long-established late night schedule.

Last Thursday, NBC executives told me they intended to move the Tonight Show to 12:05 to accommodate the Jay Leno Show at 11:35. For 60 years the Tonight Show has aired immediately following the late local news. I sincerely believe that delaying the Tonight Show into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The Tonight Show at 12:05 simply isn’t the Tonight Show. Also, if I accept this move I will be knocking the Late Night show, which I inherited from David Letterman and passed on to Jimmy Fallon, out of its long-held time slot. That would hurt the other NBC franchise that I love, and it would be unfair to Jimmy.

So it has come to this: I cannot express in words how much I enjoy hosting this program and what an enormous personal disappointment it is for me to consider losing it. My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of The Tonight Show. But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction. Some people will make the argument that with DVRs and the Internet a time slot doesn’t matter. But with the Tonight Show, I believe nothing could matter more.

There has been speculation about my going to another network but, to set the record straight, I currently have no other offer and honestly have no idea what happens next. My hope is that NBC and I can resolve this quickly so that my staff, crew, and I can do a show we can be proud of, for a company that values our work.

Have a great day and, for the record, I am truly sorry about my hair; it’s always been that way.

Yours,

Conan

Edit: I’ve thrown up a site in support of Conan. Download media to support Conan and contact NBC to voice your opinion. Team Coco – I’m with Coco