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Jonathan Sturgeon writes about the new Wu-Tang album

The CD is housed within two nickel-silver boxes that were hand-carved by a Moroccan artist and his team of ten workers over three months; there is only one physical copy of the album in existence; all digital versions have been destroyed; and bidding starts at $5 million. And we learned yesterday that Once Upon a Time in Shaolin will remain under copyright until 2103 — that’s 88 years.

and listening party

“The irony of it is that we did it for the fans,” said the album’s producer, Tarik “Cilvaringz” Azzougarh, who is himself a Wu-Tang superfan. He infamously dogged RZA so persistently that he became — loosely, controversially — a member of the Wu-Tang Clan.

I was thinking of Wu-Tang’s fans as I arrived at MoMA PS1 several minutes late. I had been told in advance that no recording devices would be allowed in the museum, including computers or phones. This of course meant a long line, but it gave me an opportunity to see who would be attending this once in a lifetime exhibition. I saw Ebro Darden (the programming director of Hot 97), Jace Clayton (DJ Rupture), a handful of familiar faces from the art world, and a gaggle of confused “fans” who had won tickets from Power 105. Invariably, intensely, hilariously: the radio fans smelled like booze. And one of them inexplicably mispronounced RZA, “R.Z.A.”

I like Wu-Tang, but this stunt isn’t about the fans.

winter breaks

My favorite jazzy hip hop group, Bop Alloy, released a new EP for the holidays. The album comes as part of their Kickstarter stretch goal for the last album, Another Day in the Life of. The new album is entitled Winter Breaks and can be downloaded from their bandcamp page.

According to the site, ‘Winter Breaks’ compiles 6 sonically vintage Hip Hop tracks. Producer, Marcus D handles the live instrumentation mixes masterfully while infusing jazz, soul and a pinch of Afro beat samples. Lyrically, Substantial touches on the personal, social, and economical effects of the Holiday season, using thoughtful lyricism, wit, and a variety of flows to paint a different portrait of Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year’s.

Best of all, it’s name your own price (but support good music and throw some dollars their way).

As an amateur historian and hip hop aficionado, I found the research of what day in history is actually Ice Cube’s “Good Day” fascinating. Murk Avenue breaks down the clues of Ice Cube’s It Was a Good Day to pinpoint the day.

CLUE 1:
“went to short dogs house, they was watching Yo MTV RAPS”
Yo MTV RAPS first aired:
Aug 6th 1988

CLUE 2:
Ice Cubes single “today was a good day” released on:
Feb 23 1993

CLUE 3:
”The Lakers beat the Super Sonics”
Dates between Yo MTV Raps air date AUGUST 6 1988 and the release of the single FEBRUARY 23 1993 where the Lakers beat the Super Sonics:
Nov 11 1988    114-103
Nov 30 1988    110-106
Apr    4 1989    115-97
Apr  23 1989    121-117
Jan  17 1990    100-90
Feb  28 1990    112-107
Mar  25 1990    116-94
Apr  17  1990    102-101
Jan  18  1991    105-96
Mar  24  1991    113-96
Apr  21  1991    103-100
Jan  20  1992    116-110

CLUE 4:
Dates of those Laker wins over SuperSonics where it was a clear day with no Smog:
Nov 30 1988
Apr   4  1989
Jan 18  1991
Jan 20  1992

CLUE 5:
“Got a beep from Kim, and she can fuck all night”
beepers weren’t adopted by mobile phone companies until the 1990s. Dates left where mobile beepers were availible to public:
Jan 18 1991
Jan 20 1992

CLUE 6:
Ice Cube starred in the film “Boyz in the hood” that released late Summer of 1991, but was being filmed mid-late 1990 early 1991 and Ice Cube was busy on set filming the movie Jan 18 1991 too busy to be lounging around the streets with no plans. Ladies and Gentlemen..

The ONLY day where:
Yo MTV Raps was on air
It was a clear and smogless day
Beepers were commercially sold
Lakers beat the SuperSonics
and Ice Cube had no events to attend was…

JANUARY 20 1992
National Good Day Day

Of course, it’s not that easy. Someone else has already set to disprove the day of January 20, 1992 as being the Good Day. 

blue scholars

One of my favorite underground hip hop groups over the past couple of years has been Seattle-based Blue Scholars. If you don’t know much about them, they are a duo comprised of producer/DJ Sabzi and MC Geologic. They produce really good socially conscious hip hop. Some of the themes that appear throughout their albums and EPs include struggles between socioeconomic classes, challenging authority and youth empowerment. Recently they announced that their forthcoming album, Cinemetropolis, would forgo a traditional record label release. Instead, they are signing to “the people.”

After weighing all options for the release of our third full-length studio album, Cinemetropolis, we’ve decided to forego all traditional channels and return to the independent approach that made Blue Scholars who we are. No record label. No marketing and distribution deal. No middlemen. No bullsh*t.

Instead, we’re going to sign a deal with the people. Specifically, you.

An industry-standard release leaves very little to the imagination or creative diversion. A set amount of singles, videos, and a tour, constantly negotiated by a contract that dictates the “life cycle” of an album. Thing is, Cinemetropolis is our most ambitious release yet, and we don’t want to stick to the script.

Our philosophy has always been to create our music and our media with creative freedom while still being able to sustain and grow ourselves. And at this point, we don’t believe that the tired music industrial model is necessary for people to pick up what we’re putting down. We don’t need to compromise our vision by ascribing to the “deal.” We believe the power of word-of-mouth far more than industry-induced hype, recognizing that it’s been the support of our fans and not what we’ve signed that have gotten us where we are.

With your support, we’ll be able to release Cinemetropolis to you directly. Those who pledge in this campaign will receive the digital album weeks before it’s actually released in June, and will get special exclusive-to-Kickstarter swag, not to mention be the first people to find out about when our Cinemetropolis singles, videos, and merch gets released.

Check out their Kickstarter video.

So, they group has created a Kickstarter page. Kickstarter is the largest funding platform for creative projects in the world. The premise is simple, donate money and receive stuff. What you receive from Blue Scholars depends on how much you donate. You can see the different levels here. Blue Scholars is definitely one of the most creative groups out there. You should kick in a few bucks and help them out. When you think about it, you’d be spending $10 for their album on iTunes anyway. Why not send it directly to them and get the album for free before it’s released? Sounds like a no-brainer to me.

Personally, I’m glad to see more and more musicians using Kickstarter. It definitely helps show that their music is appreciated and allows the musician to cut out middle men and release directly to the fans that support them.