Monthly Archives: September 2010

Rockers for Knockers – Fundraiser for Breast Cancer Awareness

This has been reprinted from the Moon and Pluto, I’m all up for a good cause. Give em some love.

In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, Ron Goss of Bandstand Atlanta is trying to help the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation raise some money through his project “Rockers For Knockers.”

So, if you’re a “rocker” and want to help bring awareness to breast cancer research, then you can purchase your  very own “Rockers For Knockers” T-shirt. ”

Shirts can be purchased here

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Featured Show of the Week

Dosa Kim: A Visual Storyteller

 

Dosa, can you briefly describe your background in art?

 I started as a freelance graphic designer. I did jobs for Nike, Coke, Cartoon Network ; I was the second runner-up in a citywide graphic design competition held in New York. From there I got into art and sold ideas rather than art. I felt selling ideas was more effective and honestly it was more of an introspective thing.

 My first piece was a black rabbit humping a white rabbit. It was a cutesy perspective, but meant to be about inter-racial relationships. As an Asian growing up and having lived in the south; I got both sides and perspectives. I intermingle with white and black social groups so I see it all in addition to my own cultural perspective.

 Were you formally trained or self-taught?

 As a painter, I was self-taught. As a graphic designer, I studied digital media at UGA and also studied at the Art Institute of Atlanta for a year before I dropped out.

 Where did you attend high school? Did they have a good arts program?

 I went to Roswell High School. Did they have a good arts program there – no, not at all. It was very lackluster. Most public schools have a terrible art system.

 My teacher knew I was generally talented, but never pushed me too far. In general, the youth have lots of content, but it’s not always visually appealing, their skills have to be honed. Now it almost seems as if comics or video games are the teachers of art culture to many young kids.

 Were the music and arts programs well received at your school? How were they perceived amongst other academic and extracurricular programs?

 To be blunt, it wasn’t a cool thing necessarily.There was no art club or artistic extracurricular activities. I can’t speak for what it’s like in high schools now, I’m 34. But it’s sad that arts programs were not and are not being pushed harder. It’s sad because we’re so connected to the web now and things are becoming very visual. Kids are coming into art schools now and they have no formal training or background.

As a culture, we respond to visual things. For instance, look at the Ed Hardy stuff and the whole skulls and feathers trend on tee shirts and other articles of clothing. That skulls and feather thing is being crafted by very talented artists. These are talented people whose doodles have evolved into master doodles and that’s it. That is the epitome of American art right now.

 For the most part, if you don’t give a kid a running start and show them there’s a future in art, something else besides skulls and feathers, that’s what they’ll do. It’s kind of bleak actually.

 Did you excel in your courses?

 I was pretty good at my graphic design courses. Yeah, I was pretty studious and stayed on top of my game when I was in art school.

 How important is it for artists to receive formal training?

 I can’t speak for everyone. Some people are super talented and will make it regardless of their schooling. But I really think you should know and understand technique and the artistic process from a more formal standpoint.

 Technique is just giving you a better weapon, a bigger and better gun. We’ve got lots of content in America, but no technique. It has to be married to the technique in order to make an intense statement. Like there’s a disparity between American art schools and art schools abroad.

For instance, you can look at what’s going on in China right now and what’s happening in their art schools. Their content matches technique and when this happens you get masterpieces. These Chinese artists are blending the formal techniques they’ve acquired in school with their own unique content to create very visual narratives. America has the content, but no formal technique.

 Look at graffiti for example. Kids do graffiti because there’s no other outlet. If I was a kid and knew there was no lucrative future in art, I’d tag everything. Graffiti comes from zero arts education in school, but it’s turned into its own culture and identity. However, we have to realize that arose out of a lack of training and a desire to visually express one’s self.

 What do you feel arts education can bring to students/aspiring artists?

 I personally think that colors and doing things through a visual medium is actually one of the most concrete things. We already use visuals to teach abstract concepts. Like when we teach simple math, 2+2=4, the teacher may use apples or some other fruit to illustrate the concept to the class. We need kids fleshing out their creative ideas and learning to trust their gut instincts.

 You see kids expressing themselves through art because it’s the only way to show what’s inside of them. There’s always the classic example of a child coming from a broken home or they’ve been molested and they portray through their art. You can see it in their pictures.

 Art is not like music, I feel visual art is even more open to interpretation and subjectivity. It’s a part of being human, our culture, what defines us. Ultimately, everything we do is to tell a story. Visuals are a narrative of our culture and society. It’s much more than a picture.

 Do you feel our local and state governments have taken an effective stance on increasing money for arts education?

 I have no idea. There was a time when Tri-Cities had a magnet school in Atlanta. Outkast actually went there and that’s how they linked up. You can tell from how artistic and confident Big Boi and especially Andre 3000 are. I do think that an environment like that contributes heavily to a person’s creativity and confidence.

 Cultures are remembered for the art they produce. We have very little to nothing of that right now. If we’re defined by consumerism, we’re being predictable robots and that’s not good. I still feel there is lots of talent and potential though. Let the creative and artistic kids grow. You have some of these kids failing math and science, but they’re painting Mona Lisas on their desks. That shouldn’t be rewarded?

The Mixtape: The End of An Era…Yeah Right!!!

 

I told myself this past month that I would not focus so much on the hip hop/urban genres. However, I reside in a city that is dominated by urban music and I love hip hop and rap music. I grew up around it and I feel I will always connect to the music in some form or fashion. I read something very recently about the current state of the mixtape and I want to address the author’s sentiments.

The article is called, “The Mixtape: The End of An Era?” and it’s by Cedric Muhammad (one of my music business idols). I did an interview with Cedric and you can read it here, you can also read his article about mixtapes here.

I have not coherently gathered all my thoughts, nonetheless I feel I must respond to Cedric and challenge him on his notions of how the mixtape is “dead.”

The mixtape is not dead. I would bargain that the mixtape is still the supreme marketing and promotional tool for the independent rapper on the streets. I confidently make this assertion and I do not want local and regional rappers operating at the lower rungs to feel the mixtape strategy is “outdated or inferior” to newer promotional strategies.

Cedric Muhammad claims that we are moving out of the era of the mixtape and moving into the era of the EP. More artists are inspired to make their own original music and release it to the public as opposed to ripping off someone else’s beats and melodies. Muhammad feels that the mixtape, “…as a vehicle to position and develop the career of hip hop artists – has reached the point of diminishing returns.”

This is a fallacy and I will tell you why. I want to speak to the local rappers, the guys at the very bottom of the totem pole. I want to be honest with these people. Urban music fans do not care about what you have to say. It’s that simple. No one cares about what you have to say on a record until you prove yourself. And one of the quickest and most efficient ways to bolster your street cred is by releasing mixtapes.

One can argue that Kid Cudi didn’t release a bunch of freestyles on his mixtapes and neither did Drake. That’s fine, but I’m sure both of those artists were in a position to be signed by a big indie (aka baby major label) or major label by the time you first read about them in XXL and Pitchfork Media (how do you think they got into these big media outlets in the first place?). So no, many urban music fans still do not care to hear about what local rappers have to say…until they have created an effective strategy and brand for themselves.

If I was a rapper at the bottom of the food chain, working a 9-5 day job to pay the bills and rocking out shows at night, I would want to gain the credibility and respect of my core community first. That means impressing local dj’s, fellow rappers and performers, concert bookies, anyone local and/or regional in my vicinity. How would I do this – well if I’m a rapper, I should be pretty confident lyric-wise right? I would be spitting freestyles over any new, popular and classic beats I could find. I would also record a select few original tracks and release it all as a free mixtape. The beauty of all this is that I could craft my brand by utilizing the mixtape formula and still give the fans a bit of my image and talent for free.

Something I would like to ask Cedric Muhammad is this. If the mixtape has reached the end of its era, why are artists like Clipse and Lupe Fiasco still releasing mixtapes and the Internet goes nuts? The last couple mixtapes dropped by these artists followed the same formula used by hip hop artists for almost two decades and it works. J. Cole is an up and coming rookie emcee who is using mixtapes as a vehicle and it’s worked for him. Curren$y released God knows how many mixtapes and he’s finally securing lucrative distribution deals and recognition for his album.

To Cedric Muhammad, I would argue that the mixtape is well and alive. If there are any diminishing returns, it’s because too many rappers are releasing garbage music. It’s not the mixtape’s fault, it’s the rappers who are releasing sub-par material and the fans are tired of it. It’s always easy to design your own route and create your own original music, but to take a classic beat like “C.R.E.A.M” or “Dead Presidents” and genuinely prove yourself lyrically – that takes talent.

 I feel too many rappers are using the “original ep formula” as opposed to the mixtape formula because it’s a cop-out. If someone asked Eminem or Fabolous to freestyle over an album’s worth of classic beats, they would never hesitate. They would not hesitate because they know they can bring a signature sound to any track, not just their own music. And let’s be honest, when a hot rap or hip hop song is released, most fans become more excited about the remix that is usually released shortly after. Fans gravitate towards hot remixes because you get the opportunity to hear different voices and styles on one record. For instance, Drake’s record “Forever” would not have received nearly as much attention if it was a solo record.

If you’re a rapper, don’t think you can cop out and release a bunch of “original” ringtone rap on an ep. Or at least don’t do this and feel as if your promotional strategy is superior because you’re releasing “new and original” music. Hip hop is about the beats and lyrics and if you can’t hold it down on your track and someone else’s track when you’re called upon, you shouldn’t be pursuing music professionally.

Do I feel the mixtape is dead? Hell no! The mixtape still serves an excellent tool to be used within an independent artist’s marketing plan. Think about it – rappers with no fan base can use their free mixtapes to gain the attention of music fans and earn respect in their local communities. It shouldn’t be either/or; release albums with original music and mixtapes at the same time! From a legal standpoint it makes sense too because if you’re giving the mixtapes away for free there is actually less of a copyright issue. If Jay-Z wanted to sue every emcee that spit on Dead Presidents,” he’d be tied up in court all day.

However I will say, mixtapes are not an effective source of revenue and Cedric Muhammad did a great job of illustrating that by alluding to the mom and pop stores that were busted for profiting off mixtapes. I feel bad for some of those small record store owners, but honestly no one should have ever paid for a mixtape. Why would anyone want to muddle through all the paperwork and legislation to get their freestyles copyrighted? Yuck, I’d rather worry about all the legal stuff for my album which showcases my original music.

October Show Calendar

 

Friday, October 1

It’s Elephants (last show, MUST SEE), Minor Prophets, the Mad Flight @ 529

Friday-Saturday, October 1-2

Devilneck Metal Fest featuring Music Hates You, Utah, Royal Thunder and more @ Caledonia Lounge (Athens)

Saturday, October 2

Other Sound Festival featuring West End Motel, Little Tybee, Tornado Town and more @ Star Bar

Monday, October 4

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Dead Confederate @ the Masquerade

Tuesday, October 5

Primus @ the Tabernacle

Saturday, October 9

Prefuse 73, Neon Indian @ 40 Watt (Athens)

Hip to Death, At Night, the Sneaky Hand @ Highland Inn Ballroom

Tuesday, October 12

The Sword, Karma to Burn @ Masquerade

Wednesday, October 13

Knaves Grave, Lookbook, the Prids @529

Thursday, October 14

Free Moral Agents, Odist @ 5 Spot

Pharoahe Monch, Skyzoo, Smif N Wessun @ Masquerade

Friday, October 15

Kenosha Kid, Chrissakes, Pride Parade @ Caledonia (Athens)

Monday, October 18

School of Seven Bells, Active Child @ the Earl

Tuesday, October 19

Wizard Smoke, Thrones, Christian Mistress @ 529

Friday, October 29

Massive Attack, Thievery Corporation @ Center Stage

8Ball and MJG @ the Loft

Letters Organize, Dropsonic @ Star Bar

Saturday, October 30

High on Fire @40 Watt (Athens)

These Sylvan Hills, Nerdkween @ Wonderroot

Sunday, October 31

Fiend Without A Face, West End Motel @ the Earl

Attention System @ Dragon Con 9.3.2010

There has been a lot of publicity about Dragon Con these past couple weeks, but surprisingly there is very little coverage about one of the main entertainment acts for that week. Local electro/darkwave act Attention System rocked out Dragon Con and here’s the proof.

Photos were taken by Rose Riot Photography

For more about Attention System, click here

Worth Checking Out – Last Relapse

Someone sent me a link to a new band called Last Relapse. They’re not bad, they produce your typical post-punk/alternative rock sounds. If you’re a fan of Faraquet’s poppier material, you might like this.

Last Relapse’s new album is called Machine and a portion of it can be streamed here