May 31, 2012

[REVIEW] Gangstagrass: Rappalachia



RATING: 9/10 CHET BAKERS


The mark of great art is that it makes you think.  It makes you step outside of what you normally view as your "zone" and forces you to re-examine that.  This goes for all forms of art whether it's paintings, literature, film, music or whatever.   True examples of artistic achievement in music seems to be few and far between these days, although admittedly that may depend on where you look.  If you only look where you're used to looking, then perhaps you won't see all that you could. Experience all you could.

We have an idea in our head that we've allowed to work its way in that says "this is what I like.  I don't like that, and nothing can really shake me of that".  And when you do that you are inhibiting yourself.  You are limiting the enjoyment that you can get, the wonderment that you can experience.

Gangstagrass is a shining example of that.  Something that on it's face many people would reject it out of hand and dismiss it as something they can't get with. And that's a sad thing because it's really good.

Gangstagrass + Kool Keith performing "Western"
In a recent Interview Rench, the founder of Gangstagrass, mentioned that when you say "this is Bluegrass combined with Hip Hop", that many people will simply say they don't like that.  But if you let them hear it, then often you have people that are digging it and really grow to love it.

And I'm sure many people felt that way when they first heard the theme song that Gangstagrass did for FX's "Justified", for which they were nominated for an Emmy Award, called "Long Hard Times To Come".


When I was younger I felt like I could never enjoy country music.  And then I heard some Johnny Cash and loved it, I heard some Christian Kane music and loved it, and the same went for when I first heard the theme music to Justified.

There are many things to like about this album, from Rench's picking and singing, to the outstanding lineup of guest emcees and bluegrass/country singers and of course the painting inspired cover to the album.   One thing that stood out for me is that I had not heard of the vast majority of guest appearances on here.

A lot of cds have guest spots by the same old same old artists, but here you have several solid indie rappers such as R-SON, Nitty Scott MC, and Dolio The Sleuth, as well as hip hop veterans Kool Keith and Dead Prez, and a return of T.O.N.E-z who was a part of the last Gangstagrass album.  It also features vocals from Americana/Country/Bluegrass singers Brandi Hart (The Dixie Bee-Liners), Jen Larson (Straight Drive) and Kamara Thomas (Earl Greyhound).

MORE AFTER THE BREAK

May 24, 2012

Save The Historic Patio Theater (Chicago, Illinois)

This story hit me close to home, because I've always felt at home in a movie theater.  While health reasons has kept me from going like I used to, I used to love going to the movie theater and escape from whatever problems that ailed me in my life at the time.  I could always count on 90 minute or longer "Time-out" from the world where I could just get lost in whatever stories were being told on the screen.

In the late 90's when I was homeless in Charlottesville, Virginia I knew the manager at a downtown Regal cinema and he used to let me get in free whenever I wanted.  He knew I didn't have the money for tickets, and while I didn't get concessions or any of that, he let me go on in and watch whatever movies I wanted.

So there were days that I would go in and sit the entire day and watch every movie they had at the time, and some movies I'd see multiple times.  Because that was my escape.  My life was falling apart at that point in time and it seemed that everything was just crumbling around me.  There were times I just did not know how long I was going to be able to go on, and movies was always my escape.

MORE AFTER THE BREAK

May 23, 2012

Searching For Chet Baker Podcast #8

I'm back with the eighth entry into my Podcast series where I present you with a variety of music that I like and hopefully you like as well.  I try to mix in some indie artists with the more mainstream, because indie music right now seems to be the lifeblood of our music, uncompromised by the industry.  Note: the Bolded entries on the playlist are ones that are by indie artists.

So check this out and feel free to leave comments below on your thoughts.

Also shout out to the great Miami Kaos who is responsible for the amazing Podcast image that I have now.  I'll be going back and adding the cover to my previous podcasts as well.   Thank you, my friend, for your fantastic God given ability.

THE SEARCHINGFORCHETBAKER.COM PODCAST #8





01. Intro feat. K-Murdock
02. Playa - Don't Stop The Music
03. Amel Larrieux feat. The Roots - Glitches (Remix)
04. MegaRan feat. Ariano & Punchlines - The Constant
05. Timbaland feat. Ludacris - Fat Rabbit
06. Gangstagrass feat. Kool Keith - Western
07. Chali 2Na feat. Talib Kweli - Lock Shit Down
08. Camiliano - I'm For Real
09. Goodie Mobb feat. Esthero - Country Livin'
10. Big Pun - Watch Those
11. Missy Elliott feat. Aaliyah & Da Brat - Stickin' Chickens
12. Luniz feat. Shock G - We Got More
13. Shyne feat. Barrington Levy - Bonnie & Shyne
14. Puff Daddy feat. Twista - Is This The End?
15. Rick James feat. Lil Cease - Back In You Again
16. The Firm - Firm Fiasco
17. Madd Rapper feat. Beatnuts - Esta Loca
18. Notorious BIG feat. Bone Thugs & Harmony - Notorious Thugs
19. Raekwon feat. 12 O'Clock - Nasty Immigrants
20. The Flying Spiders - The Fire (Immolation)

CATCH THE INDIE ARTISTS FROM THIS PODCAST ON TWITTER

Follow K-Murdock
Follow Gangstagrass
Follow MegaRan
Follow Camiliano

May 17, 2012

Anatomy of a Sellout #2: Mayer Hawthorne Edition


This is the second entry into my series "Anatomy of a Sellout" in which I discuss musicians who are being labeled a "sellout" for whatever reason, and give my thoughts on whether or not they are indeed selling out.  To read the 1st entry on producer Timbaland, CLICK HERE.





Over the past week, a new video has been released by former Stones Throw Records artist Mayer Hawthorne, called "Henny & Ginger Ale".   The song, an Itunes exclusive bonus track off of his recent "How Do You Do" album, is a bouncy and infectious party jam, reminiscent of Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give It Up", that serves to point out two things that become abundantly clear by the time the three minute song is done.

MORE AFTER THE BREAK

May 16, 2012

RIP Justo Faison: Seven Years Gone, Today


Art by Miami Kaos
Seven years ago, today, Justo Faison passed away due to injuries suffered in a car crash.  Justo Faison should be a name known by all who love hip hop music.  If you're involved in hip hop in any way shape or form, you should know the name Justo Faison.  If you don't, you need to brush up on your history, because Justo played a major role in an aspect that many of you probably take for granted:  The Mixtape.  

Several years ago I was asked to write a piece to go in a program that would be handed out at the Annual Mixtape Awards show that Justo founded back in 1995.  Due to a lot of craziness that year's ceremony was marked by a lot of disorganization and various other unfortunate things going on.

As a result, I'm not even sure if my piece ever ran, as my contact never really got back to me on that, and things were just in such chaos that I just assumed it never did.   I'd asked a few times afterwards if it had been handed out, but I never found out.

Now today is the seventh anniversary of Faison's passing, and I thought I would post up the article in it's entirety exactly as I wrote it back then.   It's not my best work, but as the saying goes, "it is what it is".

Enjoy, and take a moment of your day to reflect on what Justo Faison meant to hip hop and how much he impacted so many rappers and DJ's lives.

=====================


THE EVOLUTION OF THE HIP HOP MIXTAPE


There’s a saying out there that has been popularized in hip hop culture of “It’s not where you’re from, it’s where you at”. As with any quote this could be taken different ways by different people, depending on your outlook. To me, it signifies that it doesn’t matter where you have been in your life. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in your life, it matters what you are doing right now. Not to let your past hamstring you from achieving your goals in the present, and in the future. This line has been recently showing up in the mobile phone ads with Fat Joe, as well.

However, in the aspect of historical importance, and knowing where you come from it absolutely DOES matter where you’re from. Knowledge is power, as they say, and knowing where you come from, knowing your history, helps you have a better understanding of where you are at right now. So with that said, I’d like to take you on a little journey with me. I’d like to explain the history of something that has played a vital role in the evolution of hip hop. The Mixtape.

ORIGINS

IN 1962 the pioneer of hip hop mixtapes was born. Who was this? Was it DJ Kool Herc? Grandmaster Flash? Afrika Bambaataa? Any one of the Furious Five? No. The pioneer of hip hop mixtapes was Phillips Company that was based in the Netherlands. In 1962 they released the very first compact audio cassette tape using a high-quality polyester to create the 1/8’’ tape produced by BASF. The next year the United States began the sale of the Norelco Carry-Corder dictation machine that would use this new cassette tape. At the time of this invention, there was no way Phillips foresaw the demand by the consumers for blank tapes for personal music-recording.

Now before I go on I should point out that there are two different types of mixtapes. The first is the private mixtape. This is usually intended for a specific person, or a private event. Then there is a public mixtape, also referred to as a party tape. This will often be of a club performance by a DJ and is intended to be sold to the masses. During the 1970’s DJ’s such as Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Afrika Bambaataa & The Soulsonic Force, DJ Breakout, DJ Hollywood, The Funky Four and Kool Herc & The Herculoids would distribute their recordings of their club performances on audio tape. They also would make customized recordings at very high prices for individual purchases.

The tapes could vary in length from 1 hour to three hours, and would cost anywhere from thirty to seventy five bucks a tape, more times than not on reel to reel, but as the years went by increasingly the recordings would be put on the cassette tape. During the 80’s as the mixtape became more popular, the eventual introduction of blank cds, cd burners and mp3 players would signal the demise of the mixtape. Purists lament the downfall of the cassette mixtape, which has been replaced with CDS. From a convenience vantage point, the CD is the best thing to happen to mixtapes if you think about it. The CD made it possible to put tapes out much more quickly, and you could put more music on the disc as opposed to a cassette tape. Plus the shelf life of a CD far surpasses that of a tape which can be worn out from repeated play over time. Not to mention the sound quality of the music was undoubtedly better.

As the years progressed, mixtapes became a large part of not just hip hop culture but music culture in general. There are groups set up on the internet dedicated SOLELY to trading mixtapes of either live recordings by bands, or just a “mix” of various tracks that they like and want to share. There are groups in various towns across the world that meet each week to share a new tape that each member has created. A quick search of the internet for “Tape Trading” brings up over 16.5 million results. And it’s not just hip hop music either, it’s rock, folk, jazz and spoken word just to name a few genres being traded out there.

Hip Hop Mixtapes gained momentum in the 80’s with an influx of DJ’s that would bring the “Exclusive” track. A track that perhaps they got from the artist or producer themselves, and it would be premiered on their tape. DJ’s such as Clue, Ron G, Spinbad, Kool Kid, Clark Kent, Kid Capri, Stretch Armstrong and others led the way in putting the hip hop tapes out there. You’d be hard pressed to venture up Canal street in New York without finding someone that had a mixtape table out. I first discovered mixtapes in 1995 at the Potomac Mills mall in Virginia, and then later to a larger degree in Charlottesville Virginia. A guy and his kid would set up a table every weekend under the now defunct local theater and had various bootleg clothing, hats and other clothing items, along with the newest mixtape and VHS release. I remember seeing his movies and thinking, “Wow…Deep Impact and He Got Game JUST came out…how’d he get them this quick? Man, them New York peoples be getting EVERYTHING before us.”. Yeah, that was a bit na├»ve I suppose, but I had just been introduced to the mixtape culture, and everything associated with it. I’d been listening to hip hop before that, but had never heard of a mixtape (although I always made tapes of songs on the radio, I didn’t know there was a whole culture out there based on exactly THAT).

INDUSTRY EMBRACES AND TURNS THEIR BACK ON MIXTAPES

In the 1990’s the music labels wised up to the idea that they could use these mixtape DJ’s to promote their artists. So they would send these DJ’s the “Exclusives” which were tracks that had not been released yet, or perhaps a song that was strictly geared towards creating word of mouth buzz for the new artists that no one really heard of. DJ Clue is one of the DJ’s that would get these exclusives, often from Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs and Bad Boy Records. The mixtape would drop and then everyone would be buzzing about this new Biggie track that was on the Clue tape, or in later years, people would buzz about this new kid Fabolous Sport, who would eventually drop the Sport and go by just Fabolous.

The labels began to use DJ’s as their own little marketing tool. Some would bring the DJ’s on tour with them, some would recruit a DJ strictly for their own label. That’s why you see some mixtapes from back in the day that seemed to be focused on one label. Some of Clue’s early tapes were 90% Bad Boy tracks.

 

However, with anything good there has to be something bad to come of it. The RIAA decided that this was violating copyright infringements and decided to wage war on the mixtape industry. Now, you would think that since the DJ’s were doing the label’s job of promoting their artists that they would back them up right? The labels would step up and strike a deal with the DJ’s – an OFFICIAL deal – or at the very least, contact the RIAA and be like, “this is cool, we’re working together”. You’d think so, but no. The labels sat by and watched as Mom & Pop “bootlegging” shops got raided and lives got destroyed. They sat back and watched as DJ’s were put out there as copyright violators, basically thieves, and did nothing about it. They reaped all the benefits of the arrangement with the mixtape DJ’s but did nothing to help them.

To this day, this type of thing goes on, but the DJ’s continue to work with the labels, and the labels continue to ignore them when it comes to RIAA. This needs to change, in my opinion. Some DJ’s are creating deals with the labels in which they will release official tapes such as DJ Clue, DJ Kid Capri and DJ Kay Slay among others to be released in stores. Other DJ’s are becoming “official” DJ’s for a label such as DJ Green Lantern who until early/mid 2005 was the official DJ for Eminem’s “Shady Records”, before inking a deal with Russell Simmon’s label.

JUSTO FAISON

Justo Faison was the best thing to ever happen to mixtape DJs and mixtapes in general. Mixtape DJ's helped elevate then-unknown rappers like Cam'ron, 50 cent, Fabolous, Joe Budden and others into more well known artists, thus leading them to getting deals. These artists could not rely on radio play, as radio stations aren't going to play artists that are not known, so it was left up to the mixtape DJ's to put the word out on the street that there was, to quote the Eagles, "A New Kid In Town".

DJ Kay Slay, The Drama King had this to say about Justo. “Justo was like a brother to me. At one time he helped manage me for free. Justo was the only person we had standing up for the DJ's from the heart"

Art by Miami Kaos
While the DJs helped out the unknown and little known artists, Justo focused his attention on mixtape DJ's and the mixtape game in general. He did this in part by establishing the Mixtape Awards Show, which paid respects and brought into the open the efforts of underground hip hop & R&B and reggae DJ's.

DJ warrior of the "Cali Untouchables" DJ Crew in Los Angeles sums it up the best. "Justo is a person that took mixtapes from the street to the whole world, and gave so many DJs their shine. He took something form the street level and created so many opportunities for DJs to reach an even higher level in the industry. He was the most effective person for mixtapes throughout the world."

Ten years ago, Justo established the mixtape awards to pay respect to the mixtape DJs out there. Now we are in 2006, and the mixtape awards have evolved greatly. Justo's plans involved them to hopefully find a cable network to broadcast the awards, such as HBO. This in the hope that the mixtape awards would be seen as an awards show on the level of other music award shows.

Unfortunately Justo will not be around to see that, should it happen. On May 14th 2005 Justo passed away after suffering a car accident in Richmond Virginia. The legacy of Justo Faison is well established, and you just have to ask DJ about who Justo was, and no doubt you'd be getting an earful of memories.

When the news came out that he had passed on, within 24 hours a whole slew of DJs had sent along their condolences such as DJ Clue, Kid Capri, 1st Lady El & DJ Lazy K of Murder Mamis, DJ Absolute, DJ Woo Kid and many many others. DJ Warrior put out the call for mixtape DJ's to pay their respects with a tribute of sorts for Justo.

"We should come together and do something for Justo in his honor and for his family, DJs wouldn't have any place to go and have a gathering yearly for the DJs. Because of him, so many of us DJs have gotten world wide recognition. He's a true legend and his legacy will carry on."

I, myself, never had the fortune of knowing Mr. Faison. In fact, I was never involved in the mixtape game other than a consumer, so I'm kind of sad to say that I never even KNEW of Justo, until the news came down that he had been in an accident. However, when the word came down, and all the DJs swarmed to pay tribute, and to make their feelings known, it was obvious that Justo was a man to remember. A man who dedicated his life to an art form, and was extremely wealthy in friends.

So the next time you pay attention to the mixtape awards, the next time you pick up a mixtape and hear the latest exclusive track you remember Justo Faison. You understand that Justo more than likely made it possible for that DJ, who's tape you're holding, to do what he/she did.

Justo Faison. Rest in Peace.

May 14, 2012

[REVIEW] The Oz/Wonderland Chronicles: Book 2

 RATING: 10/10 CHET BAKERS


I pointed out in my review of the first book that it is abundantly clear that the creators of the series, writer Ben Avery (The Book of God, George R.R. Martin’s The Hedge Knight) and and artist Casey Heying have a real true love of the source materials.   That it is impossible to have created something as wonderfully complex as this without that love.  Without that innate understanding of the characters.

And that is also abundantly clear with this extension of the series.  Book 2, comprised of "The Jack and Cat Tales" series follows a thought that writer Avery had, as he discloses in the "Previously on" section, whereas he wondered what would have happened had Tumnus come out of the Wardrobe.  What if Tumnus had come OUT of Narnia and INTO our world?  What sort of adventures/misadventures would he find himself getting into?

In this case, it's Jack Pumpkinhead and The Cheshire Cat who have teamed up with a friend of Dorothy (not to be confused with The Friends of Dorothy), Mae Mannering to explore the world.  To, as Mae puts it, "go where the road takes us".

In the meantime, in the aftermath of what is being referred to as "J-DAY", the climactic events of the first book where the Jabberwocky rampaged across Chicago, there are hearings going on demanding explanations, and bounty hunters on the loose for Oz and Wonderland citizens residing in our world.

See, when the Jabberwocky wreaked havoc, it opened up portals which allowed them to travel here to see what our world was all about.  When the Jabberwocky was defeated, the portals were sealed up, however many of the characters were still here.

And these hunters have been tasked to bring them back across the line to their respective worlds. However as with most things with this series, things are not as they seem, and there are many people with ulterior motives that are not perhaps alligned with everyone.

Jack Pumpkinhead's desire to come here to Earth was born out of an interesting thought.  All the humans that end up traveling to OZ  such as The Wizard and Dorothy, they all felt the need to eventually go home to the Earth world.  And while Oz was a "wonderland", Earth was a "land of wonders".

He felt like he needed to know what was so wonderful that it kept pulling the humans back away from such a magical place like Oz.  And so the book opens, ten months later after the events of Book 1 with some of the inhabitants of Oz and Wonderland stuck in our world unable to get back, and many not wanting to go back, and seemingly being hunted down, with Jack Pumpkinhead and Cheshire Cat roaming the city of Chicago, Illinois.

There are portals all over the country, but not all the characters are friendly like Jack and Cheshire.  Some have bad intentions, as is the case when some mermaids attack some girls in a park at a fountain.

As with the first book there are numerous characters from OZ that were not in the classic film "The Wizard of Oz", such as a favorite of mine, "The Patchwork Girl", who distraught at Jack's decision to leave Oz for our world, finds a portal and comes after him, not understanding the danger that was facing those who crossed over, and the danger that awaited her dear Jack.

Patchwork Girl had an Oz book all of her own, titled "The Patchwork Girl of Oz", and is truly amazing.  And when when I saw her taking part as a sidewalk artist in Venice Beach, it brought a smile to my face. If ever there was someone who was perfectly suited to performance art in Venice Beach it would be Patchwork Girl, who without bones in her body, is able to contort and twist her body into impossible positions, eliciting oohs and ahhs from the crowd, and gaining a lot of money via tips.

The storytelling is done in a non-linear fashion and jumps from from present day to events that preceeded "J-DAY" that clue you in on certain character's motivations, and even back to events happening DURING the rampage of the Jabberwock.

Another thing thing that I really liked was how each book was drawn in a different art style, and so the same character will be drawn differently in each section bringing a whole new sort of feel to it.  It's similar to what the Wachowski's did in their Animatrix series where they had 9 stories with 9 different animators, each bringing their own unique style and visual flairs to the project.  So some of them looked beautifully digital, others looked hand drawn, and so on.

I think this adds to the overall attraction of this series and points out, as if it needed to be, that it is a truly unique and wonderful series.

Like the previous book, this one is full of twists and turns and some genuinely shocking moments. Certain characters' fates are not what you would expect, and much like the first book there's a major character twist in the final pages that I didn't see coming, and left me muttering, "wait...what? oh wow."

Also it was interesting to see how they explained away the gigantic Jabberwocky running roughshod over Chicago after it was all over.  With the modern day press, it was easy to come away from the first book thinking "how are they going to explain THIS away? It'll probably be a massive government cover-up or something", as that's typically how these things are done.  However as with many things with this book, not everything is as you might expect.

While the cynical political junkie side of me thought "I'm sure Pat Robertson will find a way to blame it on Gay Marriage", it was shockingly enough not that at all.  And while the explanation in a way could be predictable, it's not exactly what you will probably expect.  At least it wasn't what I expected.

Avery teased in the introduction that there will be more stories, which is a welcome thought for me.  I absolutely adore this series and everything about it. I am not sure of the time frame for a new book, as this one is just now being released on May 22nd, but whenever the new stories come, wherever they takes us, whatever the adventures, I will be there.  And if you are a fan of excellent writing and art with a literary bent, then you'll be there as well.

In closing, I am forced to give this another perfect score.  I don't give perfect scores out often, but there's just nothing to be found wrong with this.  The storytelling and writing is just amazing, the artwork  is fantastic, especially a few pieces in the back from Matt Martin who's cover for Jack & Cat Issue 3 just blew me away,  and it had genuine surprises and thrills throughout.   There's nothing else you can really expect.

And clocking in at 184 pages this thing is packed to the gills with story, with bonus stuff at the end of the book such as character sketches, unused storyboards and alternative artwork.   Very cool all around.

The Oz/Wonderland Chronicles will be released on May 22nd 2012, and you can buy them from the official website which is linked at the bottom of the list of links underneath this.  Or by clicking HERE.


SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:






May 12, 2012

The Politicization of Christianity



Andrew Sullivan, a columnist for Newsweek and a longtime Catholic, was on CBS' Face the Nation awhile back and he was discussing how the rise in atheism, he felt, was fueled by the politicization of Christianity.  That many people had been turned off by how political faith had become.  When I first heard what he said I just sat back and exhaled and thought, "that's it.".


On another appearance on CBS' Good Morning, he said the following:

"When I go and see young people, their image of Christianity these days is one of judgment, intolerance and to some extent bigotry and politics," Sullivan said. "They associate it with one political party in this country, because of the fusion of evangelical and ultra-orthodox Catholics with the Republican Party. They don't see it as the message of Jesus, they don't see it any more as a message of love and forgiveness. They see it as a bunch of people trying to control their lives through political mechanisms. 

"Or, if they're in an evangelical church they're also susceptible to things like the 'prosperity gospel,' which is saying that Jesus told you to get rich. 

"There's so much bad religion right now in this country that I felt it was important as a Christian to say, 'This is not what I believe. This is not what many of my fellow Catholics believe. We want to return to the message of Jesus and the gospels, not these obsessive battles over contraception or gay marriage or these other, I think, political issues, where Jesus really, really avoided politics at all costs," Sullivan said. 

I've had a crisis of faith for a long time.  I've written about it several times on this blog and I kept battling back and forth between what I had always viewed my faith as being, and what my faith was now being turned into.  I didn't like how political my faith had become.  I'm somewhat of a political junkie and love reading about the various machinations going on and getting upset at this thing or that thing, but one thing that I've never enjoyed is seeing people take a faith that I've followed my entire life and turn it into a political weapon.

MORE AFTER THE BREAK

May 9, 2012

[INTERVIEW] Rapper Mega Ran talks "Language Arts", The Beastie Boys, Hologram Tupac and more!

I was fortunate to score another interview with the one and only Random aka Mega Ran.   Our interviews typically cover a lot of topics both hip hop and non, and this one isn't really that different although it's a bit more restrained than some of the others I've done with him.

Here we talked about comic books, video games, the Beastie Boys and how he broke the news to his mother that he was leaving his teaching career behind for a full time gig in hip hop, with a brief cameo by Hologram Tupac.

Read on for more!


SFCB:  So you caused a lot of concern recently when people felt that you were saying you were going to retire the name "Mega Ran".  Could you elaborate on that situation and what you meant?

RANDOM: I think that got a little misconstrued. I think I said that I won't make any more albums with the name Mega Ran in them-- meaning I won't make any more albums based on the Mega Man series. I just don't want to be known as a one trick pony. However, I'm not stupid, and there are probably more people in the world who know me as Mega Ran than Random, so it would be a bit foolish to totally abandon that. I used to try to separate and differentiate, like when I rapped about games I was Mega Ran and when I didn't I was Random, but it's just too  difficult to maintain that. Plus when it comes down to it, Mega Ran is a very much more google-friendly term than Random, although I do find it cool that when you google "random rapper," I come up first, haha. 

I'm also a huge fan of the Swedish chiptune artist Random (http://randomizer.se/) so I feel like out of respect, I should try to differentiate. So it will be Random aka Mega Ran for a while... But for the immediate future, there will be NO MORE new rap albums from me based on any Mega Man games. So sorry y'all. 


SFCB:  As many people who follow your career are aware of, you have gone from being a teacher in Middle School who rapped in your spare time, to someone who now pursuing hip hop full time.  You chronicled this in your web series "Life After Lesson Plans".

There was an interesting aspect to the whole thing that I hadn't thought of when you first announced the jump, but after thinking about it I realized how major it truly was, and that was you explaining to your mom your decision.  No matter what your age, your mom's still your mom and you want to make sure that she's cool with your decisions.

Talk about how that conversation went and what her thoughts on your walking away from the Education system and into a full time career with hip hop.

RANDOM:  Well my mother thought I was joking initially, I believe. She said "OK, whatever," and I walked out thinking this was much easier than I thought it would be. However, she later talked to me about it and said "You can do this music thing for the summer, but after that, I think you should get back in the classroom." I appreciated her advice, and told her that, and in an attempt to appease her, responded with, "alright, I'll try."

She knew that meant I was going to do what I wanted to do. She gave me the "You're a grown man" talk, then decided she was going to let me do what I had already made up my mind to do. Strangely enough, now that it's been a year doing music full time, she is super supportive of my move, even coming to shows and inviting the family. She hadn't been to any shows prior to me making this change, so it's awesome to see her out there cheering me on when I'm back in Philly.

SFCB:  Your new Kickstarter program is called, quite appropriately for a former teacher, "Language Arts".(READ PRESS AT BOTTOM OF THIS POST)  When I first saw the title I laughed because I hadn't heard that phrase in forever, since when I was in school.  It's weird how we often don't use that phrase in our lives, except in school.

Now your "Language Arts" campaign has just concluded, which involves not only an album but also a video game and a comic book, and you have raised four times what you were hoping for.  Talk about "Language Arts", and how this extensive project came about.


                                     MORE AFTER THE BREAK