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Big Daddy Kane & Rakim
Thursday 10/08
Big Daddy Kane & Rakim @ The Howard Theatre
$29.50 / $35
Big Daddy Kane On September 10th, 1968, Bed Stuy, Brooklyn gave birth to one of hip hop's most lyrical, diverse, innovative, and trendsetting MCs. He is known by many attributes - Dark Gable, Black Caesar, and King Asiatic Nobody's Equal - but he is known to the world as Big Daddy Kane. This baritone-voiced, stylishly dressed MC was the first one to bring the "playa" element to hip hop, and along with Bobby Brown and Michael Jordan, he put dark skin back on the map. Kane was the first rapper to ever hold not one, but two sold-out shows at the world-famous Apollo Theater for women only. In the words of the late Big Pun, Kane is "not only a playa, he just crush a lot" - a reference to his rapid-fire, metaphoric battle rap style. Kane's influences are Muhammed Ali, Marvin Gaye, and his rap hero Grand Master Caz of the Cold Crush Brothers, but once dancers Scoob Lover and Scrap Lover join him on the stage, you can clearly see the James Brown and the Famous Flames influences as well. With several Gold albums to his credit, Kane has enjoyed a long career, including the releases Long Live The Kane ("Ain't No Half Steppin'" and "Raw"), It's A Big Daddy Thing ("Smooth Operator," "Warm It Up, Kane," and "I Get The Job Done"), and Taste Of Chocolate ("Hard Being The Kane" and "All Of Me," a duet with the late legendary Barry White). As a powerful figure in the rap game, he has also collaborated with many artists, including Public Enemy, Ice Cube, Heavy D, Patti LaBelle, and Quincy Jones. All of these accomplishments combine with a Grammy Award to make Kane a true hip hop legend. Rakim In 1986, Rakim started to work with New York-based producer-DJ Eric B. The duo—known as Eric B & Rakim—is widely regarded as among the most influential and groundbreaking of hip-hop groups, due in no small part to Rakim's technical abilities. The duo’s first single, "Eric B. Is President" was a success and got the duo a contract with the fledgling Island Records sub-label 4th & B'way. The duo’s next single, the smash “I Know You Got Soul,” sparked early debate on the legality of unauthorized, uncredited sampling when James Brown sued to prevent the duo's use of a fragment of his music. It also established Brown's back catalog as a hip musical mining ground for a new generation of hip-hop programmers. Their first full album, Paid In Full, was released in 1987. causing a stir in the hip-hop music world due to its novel sound, approach, and subject matter. Rakim pioneered a practice previously unknown to hip-hop called internal rhyming. Already an important aspect of traditional poetry, where rhymes could be found throughout the bar of a lyric which added to the rhythmic complexity of the song: "I keep the mic at Fahrenheit, freeze MCs, make 'em colder/The listeners system is kicking like solar/As I memorize, advertise like a poet/Keep it goin', when I'm flowin' smooth enough, you know it's rough." Instead of two rhyming syllables within two lines at the end of the lines, as we would find in the older hip-hop style displayed above, we have 18 rhyming syllables in just four lines. Rakim also introduced a lyrical technique known as cliffhanging and popularized the use of metaphors with multiple meanings. His songs were the first to really impart hip-hop music lyrics with a serious poetic device sensibility. Eric B & Rakim went on to produce three more successful albums, all now considered hip hop standards. Prior to Rakim, hip-hop music lyricism was usually rather simple from a structural standpoint and the ideas it expressed were easy and direct. Many hip-hop artists (both underground and mainstream) acknowledge a huge debt to Rakim's innovative style. He is given credit for popularizing the heavy use of internal rhymes in hip-hop—rhymes that are not necessary to the overall rhyme scheme of the verse, but occur between the endpoints of lines and stanzas, serving to increase the alliteration, assonance, and emphasis of the rhyme. He is also credited for the jazzy, heavily stylistic, seemingly effortless delivery of his lyrical content.
Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers
Sunday 08/30
Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers @ The Hamilton Live
$18 / $28
Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers' much-anticipated sophomore album, Loved Wild Lost, arrives Tuesday, April 21st. The band teamed with producer Brian Deck (Iron & Wine, Modest Mouse, Josh Ritter) on Loved Wild Lost and it’s their first time working with an outside collaborator. The result is their most compelling collection of songs to date. The richly layered sound forms the ideal foundation for Bluhm’s soaring vocals and increasingly powerful songcraft. Further color comes from San Francisco’s Magik*Magik Orchestra (Death Cab for Cutie, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, The Walkmen), whose complex arrangements serve to amplify the indelibly universal themes of Loved Wild Lost. “Loved Wild Lost is a sincere and sophisticated collection of songs steeped in tradition, but of its own time,” says Nicki Bluhm. “After three solid years of playing as a band across the country, we have had time to learn, reflect and grow. This album displays a departure into the deeper and more contemplative themes of people in transition and the struggle to retain the energy and optimism of youth as life becomes more complex.” “The longer something moves away from its inception point, the more it takes on a life and a narrative of its own,” adds Nicki’s husband and the band’s musical director, Tim Bluhm. “In these songs, I think you can clearly hear that happening; idealism and optimism losing control to the forces of inertia and a life of constant traveling. Happiness becomes an intention and love becomes a long-term study of oneself and of one another.”