Photographer/filmmaker Brian Cross charts a musical map of the African diaspora in the Americas -- and opens new Summit Peek Gallery show tonight (6/2), "If It Fits in the Backpack: 10 Years on the Road with Mochilla"
Last year, Los Angeles-based production group Mochilla released Timeless,a trilogy film series documenting three concerts performed in L.A., early 2009. For these concerts, the photographer/filmmaker/DJ duo behind Mochilla, Brian Cross and Eric Coleman, shined light on three composers who have helped influence and shape hip-hop in different ways: the originator of Ethio-jazz, Mulatu Astatke; leftfield Brazilian arranger, Arthur Verocai; and a gutsy rendition of J Dilla’s beats crafted by Miguel Atwood-Ferguson with 60-piece orchestra. The films paint intimate portraits of musical exchange and live performance while paying tribute to some of the overlooked giants of the sprawling African musical diaspora.
In many ways Timeless is a culmination of themes explored in Mochilla’s films from the past decade. Their first project, Keepintime: Talking Drums and Whispering Vinyl (2001), and the follow-up live recording and DVD release in 2004, captured improvisational collaboration between L.A. hiphop producers and DJs, such as Madlib and J.Rocc, among others, with some of the powerhouse session drummers who inspired their sample-based work. Brasilintime: Batucada Com Discos(2007) also navigated the dynamic tension between an older generation of drummers, this time including legendary Brazilian percussionists, and the new school of analog producer/turntablists.
Is the Bay Area's experimental beat scene finally coming together? After a few years of lagging behind the explosion of beat conductor talent in Los Angeles, and suffering a steady exodus of potential down south, the Bay Area's time for creating a forward leaning psychedelia — composed from the bass-infused backbone of instrumental hip-hop — might have arrived.Read more »
A couple weeks ago I shot a long-winded email to former Bay Area DJ and producer Chief Boima. I had just finished speaking to Dun Dun of the Los Rakas crew for what eventually became this article, and he mentioned an upcoming EP with former Bay Area DJ and producer Boima. Now, if you don’t know about Boima, you need to get acquainted with the Banana Clipz digital funk on Ghetto Bassquake (for free download, too). It’s a joint instrumental album between Boima and Oro 11 of Bersa Discos that merges electronic architectonics with rhythms, melodies, and sound bits from the African diaspora. Enough of that, though -- Boima withstood my long-windedness, and after a couple exchanges, he did all the explaining. Read more »
MUSIC Last year was a big one for Los Rakas. The Oakland-by-way-of-Panama duo, Raka Rich and Raka Dun, have been hustling their frenetic Panabay stylings since they banded together as high school students in 2005. But on the cusp of their second mixtape, La Tanda Del Bus, the arresting diversity of their influences and musical ideas began to coalesce. The far reaches of the blogosphere and the streets took notice.Read more »
MUSIC Andreya Triana is a singer-songwriter from Southeast London, and Tokimonsta (Jennifer Lee) is a post hip-hop producer from Los Angeles' South Bay. Triana delivers soulful jazz vocals, forged from a personal and fragile source, and Tokimonsta crafts warm synthetic R&B beats with a driving low-end. Triana's music is sincere and confessional, Tokimonsta's amplified and playful. Read more »
I first stumbled upon Onra's music three years ago when I picked up Chinoiseries (Label Rouge), a sprawlinlg beat-tape in the line of J Dilla's blueprint for the future of hip-hop, Donuts (Stones Throw, 2006). But unlike the late Dilla's many lackluster imitators, Onra proves a worthy disciple. Read more »
MUSIC I'm bugging out. The evening has somehow melted into the early hours of the purple morning. Civilization II has sucked me into an imperialist warp zone on the buzzing computer screen. Pizza boxes litter the room. I've just started high school in Los Angeles and discovered the psychedelic powers of a magical herb that grew in Ziploc bags. My little spatio-temporal world has shifted.Read more »
If you live in San Francisco and pay attention to public art, you might already be familiar with the work of longstanding Bay Area graffiti crew Inner City Phame (ICP). Their prolific murals – diverse in style and magnetic in form – grace walls across the city. There’s a tribute to Malcolm X on Third and Kirkwood in Bayview-Hunters Point, featuring intricately crafted aliases free floating among inspired quotes. On a vibrant wall on the corner of 19th and Mission, comic book characters from Ironman to Dr. Evil swing between stylized names forged in cracked stone. An Azteca-themed mural up the street on 25th has a jaguar warrior getting down with the gods. And ICP also curates the street level walls of the Defenestration building on 6th and Howard (that old tenement hotel with furniture flying out of the windows), making a dynamic open-air gallery out of abandoned space. Wait, who said graffiti wasn’t art? Read more »