Thursday, April 30, 2009

Journey Towards The Sun...The Rising Sun Quest

The Rising Sun Quest is a local MC I've known for a minute. I've heard his music and I can hear the growth in it. Very talented individual who has crafted his skill for over 10 years strong. According to Quest, he's performed many times in his hometown of Waterbury, CT and in venues such as Toad's Place, The Webster Theater, and Tuxedo Junction.

Personally, after listening to his albums, I wouldn't consider his style or music local. I think he definitely has the ability to go as far as he wants. I got the opportunity to chat with him recently about what's going on with him and his music. Check out the interview.

The Mad Bloggers: Where did you grow up?

The Rising Sun Quest: Waterbury, CT aka Brass City / Dirty Water. I lived on the south side of things but really chilled all over the city.

TMB: How long have you been doing music?
It feels like forever. I guess I started in 1993 but didn’t really get serious about it till '98 or so. It started on mix tapes over industry beats for a good while and then we invested in some recording and production equipment and it was a wrap from there. Early on I wrote verses but didn’t really focus on song structure at all. As time went on I developed the ability to create songs and saw the impact the right formula could have on people.

TMB: Is music your career or do you have a "day job"?
Music is my passion and I love it. It doesn’t pay the bills though. Getting people to spend money on a CD is like pulling teeth. So yeah, I do have a day job.

TMB: Where do you want to see your music go?
I would love for my music to be in the minds of all hip-hop lovers. So far I’m happy with the way my music has been received by those who actually have heard some of it. I’ve gotten the type of props that most MCs now won't get. People have told me that my songs have saved their lives or gotten them through tough times. That it truly relates to them and their situations. So for me, it’s all about reaching more people and showing them that there are artists out here that still do it for the love and not the money.

TMB: Who are your musical influences?
Well I’d say Nas, Big Pun, Canibus, Wu-Tang, Black Moon, and Redman just to name a few. 'Illmatic' to me was the perfect album and Big Pun's Capitol Punishment was the type of lyrical ability and delivery I strive for. I love all music though. Spanish music was a big part of my life growing up and R&B is a must when I need to mellow out and escape.

TMB: In your opinion, what's the state of music?
It is what it is. Music constantly changes but as we get older our perspective never changes, when it comes to music anyway. So it’s easy for us to reject the new trends and new artists. I’m stuck in the early 90’s and rarely do artists of today bring that type of rawness to the table. The music industry, on the other hand...awful.

TMB: What's the hardest thing you're experiencing that deals with your music?
Just how hard it is to be heard. I know I’m good at what I do and I know the quality of my art. Yet I’m still in Waterbury with my “day job” and it feels like I’ll never get a chance to show my stuff on the big stage. But I try not to focus on that and just continue to do what I do. I can’t just give up because the few people that do follow rely on me to be their escape from the flashy 'ringtone' rap.

TMB: What's your favorite part of doing your music?
The listeners who take in what I spend hours of my life working on. When somebody is really feeling my song I love it cause it's like I get to experience it all over again like it was brand new to me. Sometimes I get sick of my own stuff only cause of how many times I hear it before it's done. Considering I mix down most of my stuff I hear it over and over, but when I play it for somebody and see their reaction, it's truly all worth it.

TMB: What projects are you currently working on?
Right now, I’m working on an EP and I plan to have like 8 to 10 tracks on it. I got about six written right now and I have a few beats gathered up so I’m looking to get in gear with it real soon and try to put it out there by summer of 2009. It will be my 4th project. I have Stellar Evolution (10 tracks), Surviving Life (15 tracks), and Journey Towards The Sun (16 tracks). (According to Quest, the new music he's created is still untitled.)

TMB: Have you performed at any shows you consider memorable?
A lot of memorable shows, yeah, but more so due to the crowed being amped and not the headliners. The AFA Hip Hop Summits we put together are always live. I got to share the stage with Chubb Rock, which was dope. I remember doing a show with Evil Dee of Black Moon in Danbury, which was big. I performed out at EOW in Manhattan, which is a big Open Mic in the city and also recognized worldwide. Rocked the crowed and represented CT lovely, which felt great.

TMB: Any artists you're looking to collab with?
I’m willing to work with anybody but right now no names come to mind. Plus I wanna knock this next project out the box before I start building with heads unless of course a real notable cat is willing to work with me. It would be foolish to turn that down, you know.

TMB: Any upcoming shows?
Right now there is nothing big on the horizon. I regularly rock my crews open mic every third Friday of the month at Cousin Larry’s in Danbury. I got this B-Boy Jam this Saturday, May 2nd at Kriola's in downtown Waterbury, CT but I haven’t really booked anything. I’m trying to cut back on the showcases loaded with rappers and I'm looking to do bigger things if the opportunities arise.

Contact Info:

Music Links:

iTunes Link:
The Rising Sun Quest on iTunes

Music Videos:
Why I Write -

The Rising Sun Quest - Why I Write from Elasticbrand on Vimeo.

Rock to the Rhythm -

Rising Sun Quest - Rock to the Rhythm (Official Video) from SNARE (Jose Martinez) on Vimeo.

What I'm Watching Right Now...Robin Thicke

This song by Robin Thicke titled Dreamworld is an amazing song. He sings with passionate lyrics over such a smooth and soulful production. Feels like it takes you into the world he sings about if you listen with your eyes closed. Dude is nice. Official R&B music right here. Rhythm 'and' blues. The few verses that catch my ear make such a strong statement. Check it out...

"...I would tell Van Gogh that he was loved, there's no need to cry /
I would say Marvin Gaye your father didn't want you to die /
There would be no black and white, the world just treat my wife right /
We could walk down in Mississipi and no one would look at us twice /
That's my dreamworld, that's my dreamworld, it's more than a dream..."

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

TELL 'EM WHY YOU MAD: News from the Road or Just a Little Road Rage Part II

About a week ago I did a similar piece about some things that frustrated me while I was on the road (Part I). Again, I ran into a few things today and figured since I couldn't tell those folks, I would write about it here again. I'll probably do this every so often I suppose.

Hey big guy in the green Mustang... I know it’s a fast car but thanks for proving it to me again today. It was so awesome the way you revved the engine. How'd it feel flooring it and then getting stuck at a red light 10 seconds later? Clown.

Excuse me Miss driving the purple Pontiac Sunfire ... Nice Taz plate. Even nicer Taz stuff animals blocking up your back window. Those were nice Taz stickers on the rear windows. And by the way, nice Taz fire streaks on the side of your car too. So, I couldn't figure it out... you're a Looney Toons Taz fan? Right?

Hey, person in the tan Toyota Corolla... I found myself looking in front of you to see if some how we were in a funeral procession because you were driving so slowly. Nope, there was no hearse in sight. Your hazard lights weren't on either, so I don't think there was anything wrong with your car. So I'm really not sure what the deal was. Then you had the nerve to put me in an awkward spot cause I was constantly braking to avoid smashing into the back of your car because you were going like 4 mph. The guy that was riding behind me is probably blogging about me somewhere calling me the bad driver. Thanks a lot jerk.

Hey, old guy in the silver Hyundai Sonata... you kept your turning signal on for so long I never thought you were going to turn. When you drive like ten blocks with a signal on, the signal kind of looses its purpose. I mean it's like crying wolf. I was actually surprised when you finally turned. Thanks for the advanced noticed though on your turn 15 minutes later. Can never be too cautious.

No One Has Swagga Like ...

Are we really having this conversation? Seriously?! I wonder what this meeting looked like when they said they were going to include this segment. Had to be an awkward moment. Then they looked at the black guy in the room and probably said, "you got this right."

No doubt the President is a cool dude. Sure he chills on the sideline at a basketball game, tells jokes and appears on ESPN to go over his NCAA Tournament bracket and even talks about putting a court on the grounds of the White House. Yes, the President always appears cool, calm and collected. He's got that chill walk and is confident but do we need to use the term "Swagga" to describe it? And if we do, does a black guy have to intro the piece for CNN or be the resident expert on the term? And furthermore does the song "Swagga Like Us" need to be playing in the background. Pretty funny moment for CNN in my opinion. Talk about a news segment that went wrong.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A bit of sports... Is There a Better Starting Five?

A friend of mine posted these five as the starting line up on a dream squad: Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. This team is obviously based on these players at their prime and not if they suited up today. I thought that it was a pretty serious starting five. If you look at these players and their attributes and it's hard to argue that there is another starting five out there that would compare. Thought that I would post the team here and open it up for another five. Who you got? I'm down to start the debate.

What I'm Listening to Right Now... Melanie Fiona

Listened to Melanie Fiona yesterday after a post from Questlove on Twitter. She has some good, good music. Had to share it today. Check her out.

Check it... Peter Hadar

Peter Hadar must have grown up in a house listening to real R&B and soul music. You can hear it in the inflection of his voice and the soultry feel of his tracks. He mixes soul music with a little edge. The result is dope. This my friends is the definition of baby making music (be careful... haha). Perhaps it's the reason his EP, available on iTunes, is named "She's 4 Months". He definitely brings that heat in his music. When I heard Watermelon, I said to myself "uh, oh".

Check him out, he definitely has quality music.

What I'm Watching Right Now!

An older joint but worth the watch. Shad does his thing! Pay attention to the lyrics.

Why I'm Laughing ... The Three Day Rule

I don't even watch this show but came across this link. I don't know if heads wait three days or anything anymore (or if they ever really did for that matter). Most are probably throwing a text the next day. Thought it was a funny clip. Had to share.

What I'm Watching Right Now!

Adele is a beast. This video is dope. Enjoy.

Hometown Glory

Monday, April 27, 2009

Check It... Caits Meissner

Check out Caits Meissner, the twenty-four-year old multitalented individual, who calls herself a “cancer style, homebody, creative pushing, hard shell and soft underneath.” She’s dope!

Meissner, who grew up in a small town outside of Albany, New York credits the small town living for a part of who she is today.

“I believe folks that grow up far from cultural centers are a special breed,” she said. “We are forced to create our own magical existence in the middle of the distinct nothingness.”

Meissner moved to Brooklyn when she was 18 to attend art school and as she puts it, the rest is history. But the small town lessons remain.

“I've always made things and sought out what was not handed to me,” she said. “Must also be my pops for his undeniably fly taste in music and insistence on hipping me to the goodness.”

Meissner is definitely creative (she must have been put on to some fly music and goodness, because her craft shows it). Enter her MySpace page and you’re impressed by her spoken word. Then you should dig a little deeper and you’ll find yourself visiting several pages created by Meissner, which include her poetry and design work.

We reached out to her for a Q&A. Check out what she had to say.

The Mad Bloggers: How would you describe what you do?
Caits Meissner: Hmm, this is a tough one. I usually just use a lot of slashes, you know: poet / writer / performer / graphic designer / educator / music-maker. I'm still looking for an all-encompassing phrase (open to suggestions!) Really, I write. I take that writing and find places to publish it. I also speak it out loud on stages to audiences. And put it to music. I try to make sure what I create is honest. That is really my only requirement and the rest falls into place from there. Labels are hard because they keep you stagnant and stuck. Hasn't anyone ever told you that coloring outside of the lines makes the best pictures? Then again, labeling helps our brain process a pretty insane world. I think art breeds that insanity, but in a good way, and stretches our minds beyond the easily processed. So I suppose just being called Caits shall do.

TMB: How long have you been doing the spoken word thing?
CM: It must have been February of 2006 that I first stepped on a stage. It has only really been a blink in the grand scheme and it's funny how this stuff just starts to define you. "Well, I guess I'm a poet now..." Truthfully, I've been writing since I was able to hold a pen. That counts for something, too, right?!

TMB: Who do you work with?
CM: Many brilliant folks! My last EP showcased production by Afta-1, Young Raven and Jory Leanza-Carey from Broadcast Live, as well as singing from Yarrow of Lady OsoFly and the inimitable Honey Larochelle. I've collaborated with singer-songwriter Tomas Doncker and a whole slew of poets, too many to name. Currently I'm working on music with the aforementioned Yarrow, as well as MC Eagle Nebula. Just released a track on producer Just Plain Ant's album "Dig Deep," and have upcoming work with German producers Comfort Fit and Portformat, as well as Spain's The Aftermath. Working with singer Maya Azucena on a few joints. It's an incredible, ever-expanding list. I can't wait for you to hear it all!

TMB: Is this your career or do you have a "day job"?
CM: I have a day job, as many of us still do. Pretty blessed to tell you that my pay-the-rent work is something I'm also passionate about. I teach a few hours a week, elementary and middle school students, various multi-media art classes with a slant on academic skills and critical examination of the world. My kids provide endless inspiration and unparalleled joy. Plus, I get to sleep in late! I also freelance graphic design for various projects (holla if you need work). That’s what I have a four-year degree in. All is creative, fulfilling and challenging and adds back to my artistic life is varying ways. However, the jury is still out on what the summer will bring, so send on some positive energy, dear readers!

TMB: What's your inspiration?
CM: Love, heartbreak, friends, other poets, musicians and this terrible and fascinating city. I've answered this questions so many times and it's always the same: I find inspiration in the smallest things, peeling a morning orange, and in huge concepts, death, decay and spirituality. The goal is to approach life with an unabashed curiosity, and to try and remain open in the face of threat and be open to getting hurt as growth and fodder for your art. Keep feeling.

TMB: Who are your influences?
CM: So many people! Wow, where do I start? Let's do a "lately" list. The poets I've been reading lately are Yusef Komunyakaa, Roger Mitchell, Erica Miriam Fabri, Marty McConnell, Patrick Rosal, Hafiz and that's just the tip of the iceberg, really.

In terms of spoken word, I grew up inspired by folks like Sarah Jones, Gil Scott Heron, The Last Poets, Ani Difranco (don't laugh), Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez and of course, the brilliant lyricists I found hidden in my Dad's record collection. I was also a hip-hop obsessive and listened to copious amount of rhymes that influenced my early work a great deal. In fact, it's still inspiring me.

I'm lucky to count myself among a rich artistic community in NYC and beyond, where the friends I name dear to my heart also make music and poems that do something holy for me. Now, that's blessed.

TMB: What's your future plans with your craft?
CM: Ok, that's a hard question. I'd like to seriously work on more music, pursue publishing, tour more often, secure a manager/booking agent (know anyone?) and keep creating art that moves people. I just want to follow my heart and see what rises. Can't go wrong if you are following what directs YOU verses you always directing its path. Hard work with a little bit of faith.

TMB: You seem to be a real creative purpose, what other projects are you involved with?
CM: Hey! Thanks! I'm working on two separate collaborative hip- hop music projects at the moment, as well as my own tracks here and there contributing to other's albums and the like. There is a new-media publishing project being cooked up between a fellow poet/designer and myself. A collaborative tour in the works with poet James Caroline out of Boston (book us!) I'm also currently in the middle of the NaPoWriMo Challenge, where poets are challenged to write 30 poems in 30 days for April (National Poetry Month.) I intend on editing the work for release in chapbook format sometime in May. Look out for this.

TMB: How can people get your work?
CM: Hop on my myspace page to order my CD (or download it) and cop the chapbook. Folks can also email me, if they wish, at

For more on Caits Meissner, check the MySpace (

It Will... Stream of Consciousness

If you listen to this track and you're pissed when the joint reaches 1:37, then you need to get on twitter and follow @StrmOfConscious and tell dude to finish the track stat. When I first heard this track, I thought there was something wrong with the computer when it suddenly stopped.

He is in the studio currently working on his project, which is a good thing. He's working on some real and thoughtful tracks for the album. He's got that political Dead Prez vibe to his music. We have an interview on the way so you can learn more about the artist. But in the meantime, enjoy this track and join the movement to get this to the full length that it deserves. On a serious note, check dude out and look out for the interview coming soon!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

LeBron James & The Cavs Spoof The Heineken Commercial

Hahahahaha! I gotta say, that dude is hilarious. Gotta be the kid in him. I can hang with dude. He's a clown.

THE BRIEFING: K'naan Response

K'naan responded to the recent South Park episode via Twitter. Pretty dope response to what's going on, so we felt the need to repost here. We featured his point of view on the site before (A Different Point of View)

If you're on Twitter follow K'naan at Here's what K'naan had to say.

Just a few days ago, I was cracking up, laughing about the hilarious episode South Park did on Kanye. I often hold the creators of this show with a certain regard, for I believe, good comedy will from time to time, hold a mirror up to society's collective face. So that we may look at ourselves and burst out in laughter, even if the frowns of self examination follow. I gotta say though, Kanye handled it well. The homie and I have some mutual friends and I don't remember ever making a remark to anyone about his personal choices. Even when his presentation of his own ego swallowed him whole, I always found the honesty in his music more of an appealing focus. Now, what I wanted to write about isn't really Fishsticks, but honestly, who would have thought South Park would be the first major American TV program to do a real piece on the Somali piracy crisis?

First of all, they used real Somali voices, which is always a point of charm for the Somali people. We DON'T LIKE NOBODY PLAYIN ON OUR LANGUAGE!! Black Hawk Down was unbearable in that, it was like being told you were watching a true portrayal of the Bronx's early days of Hip Hop, except Cool Herc and em spoke with a German accent. 

The F*&#!! 

Secondly, they touched on the supreme lawlessness, poverty and humanitarian crisis facing the country. Cartman says "In Somalia, people have no laws, they have no rules and they never grow old" The response? The golden truth of the Somali tragedy: "They never grown old because they die before they're 30!"

They talked about the toxic waste issue which I have been quite vocal about. "Even the fish here are radio active" says Kyle. Could 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper or any of the supposably serious outlets not have looked into this issue? Should it take a witty jewish cartoon boy to make this statement? Well, I think the answer is: When fear grips the rest, comedy is where the truth is left. It happens everywhere. In Somalia, when political theatre was being suppressed, and serious poetry could not be composed to criticize oppression and inequality, the poets would use comedians to get the word out. 

So while we all find relief in laughter, I would argue that there is more to the chuckles than meets the ear. Because even pain is funny, so long as we're not laughing at it, but about it. 

South Park is not without its imperfections though. It seems the clever creators can also be guilty of the African stereotypes. If you look at the emotional moment of the episode, presenting the young Somali pirate's puzzlement over the American's fascination with lawlessness and piracy, he explains "my mother is dying of AIDS". Now while the disease is a major issue in some African countries, it's about the same of an issue in Somalia as it is in Greece. The reason for the comparison is that the two countries, Greece and Somalia, are roughly around the same in their population. The HIV prevalence rate for Greece is 0.2, while in Somalia it's at 0.5. Unicef estimates that in 2007, the number of people in Somalia living with HIV is 24, 000, Out of an estimated 11 and a half million people.


It's a relatively low number considering most of the new cases stem from high border crossing and mass internal movement. For greece, it's at 19, 000 out of its 11 million population. 

So Clearly the problem of AIDS in Somalia, isn't comparable to say that of Botswana, with its heart aching 23.9 prevalence rate for its meager population 

of 1.8 million. And while it's important to say something about the HIV problem in Africa, Somalia is the wrong country to profile it through. I suppose it would strike us all as odd, if some American sitcom, (during the warm and fuzzy parts where we all get our life lessons) made a remark about Greece's "AIDS problem". So is it acceptable to do so about Somalia because it's in Africa?

All in all, while a part of me wants to resist being vocal  about Everything Somalia, I can't help but speak on what I am most passionate about. One blogger said it best, "FatBeard is to K'naan like Fishsticks is to Kanye". 

We can all complain about the imperfections of major media outlets, but I wanna take a moment, to thank God for Jon Stewart, thank God for Dave Chappelle and thank God for South Park. 



Click to watch the full episode

Saturday, April 25, 2009

THE BRIEFING: Terrence Still Upset

Your boy Terrence Howard is still a bit upset about being replaced by Don Cheadle in "Iron Man 2".

He said in a recent interview, "Marvel made a choice, and it was a very, very bad choice. They didn't keep their word. They didn't honor my contract. They produced a great bounty with the first one but they put it all in the storehouse and you were not allowed in. They did the same thing with Gwyneth Paltrow, from what I've been told. They did it with almost everyone except Robert Downey [Jr.]. One of the things that actors need to learn to do is always stick together, one for all and all for one."

Wait, did he say "One for all and all for one"? Oh, guess dude thought he was going for the Three Musketeers movie. Nah Terrence, this is Iron Man. Good thing he has that blockbuster Fighting out right now! (riiiight). Terrence is falling into that Cuba Gooding boat and just taking whatever roles (both of these guys are talented but after doing some good movies, seems like they just accept any role that their agents sends over).

After reading about this interview, reminded me of that interview with Jamie Foxx about Terrence Howard.

A Second Listen... Shad

Shad, Canadian hip-hop musician, has been featured on the site before. After our interview with DJ Hyphen we were reminded of him. If you haven't heard of dude, give him a listen.

More info:

Music Playlist at

Friday, April 24, 2009

With All Due Respect...

I'm really feeling that new KRS and Buckshot joint, Robot. I wondered how other heads were reacting to it, so I scanned a few blogs and checked out comments. For the most part, heads were really excited about the single and the KRS-One and Buckshot project overall. I did come across one comment that I just couldn't agree with.

"KRS and Buckshot make an entire song about the state of the industry, and we are supposed to bob our heads and dance to this? Where is the rhythm, the groove, the swing in the music? Even their spoken parts sound like a lot of dry talk that happens to end up with rhyming words, but the soul of the poetry itself (if that's what they call this) is buried in this boring press-conference and history lesson. It's not entertaining anymore to make music about the industry. It's old. These MC's are old. This song is old. This press conference has been delivered over and over and over again. Let's make fresh and new music and move the people"

The dope thing about opinions, is that you can counter it with one of your own. With this comment it's just clear that the point of the song obviously went over the head of this listener. It's obvious dude is probably more interested in buying, listening and supporting crap. These MCs are old?! Woooow. KRS-One is a pioneer and is much hotter lyrically than a lot of the cats running around with a record deal.

Guess this guy loves auto-tune copy cat tracks. I mean, a little bit is okay. But every song it seems has a bit of that damn auto-tune. All of a sudden real singers don't get bought in and paid to do a hook anymore - not when the rapper can just auto-tune the chorus them self. I'll listen to this "press conference". I'll listen to them go after unoriginal heads.

You know how I realized dude just didn't get it? "...we are supposed to bob our heads and dance to this? Where is the rhythm, the groove, the swing in the music?" Yeah, because all tracks are suppose to be that instructional dance trash that fills the radio airwaves. Come on man.

What's your thoughts?

Music Playlist at

Hi, I'm Bill Burr and I Just Don't Give A F***!

You know what happens when you decide to make it a stay at home night on a Friday? You start channel surfing, finding out that there's absolutely not much going on in tv land. Hundreds of channels for some and still nothing. Then......out of nowhere comes Comedy Central to save your evening. Man, they do find them. I don't know about you but when I saw Bill Burr's Why Do I Do This? stand up special, I was so upset that I was watching it solo. Why? Because. You ever crack up so hard that you want to ask the person you're watching it with if they heard what you just heard so both of you can die laughing? Yeah. Bill Burr's a (bleeping) nut job. Insanely funny. Says things you only think. I must've watched this about 6 times. Hilarious each time. Go get it. Seriously. Haha. Here's a clip of him from his DVD special on pedophiles...

Purchase here at Amazon: Bill Burr - Why Do I Do This?

Dope Contest

Common is looking for producers to enter the remix contest for his track Gladiator, off that Universal Mind Control Album. Check the link. Dope contest.

Check out more info on the contest:

Q&A with Melissa Czarnik

Three years ago we launched The Mad Bloggers as a way to vent about the way we saw thing in the world. Then we began to morph and push music. Twenty-four days ago, we re-launched The Mad Bloggers, with a bit of our old sarcastic edge coupled with a desire to share real music and talented artists.

It’s because of commercial radio, MTV, BET and other commercial outlets that our site and other sites like ours can exist. I turned off the radio a few months ago because every time it was on, there was some new instructional dance garbage passing itself off as real music. Because of our discontent with mainstream music, we constantly comb the Internet for good, unheard of and mostly underground music. We then share it here with you.

Melissa Czarnik is one of those finds. She is one of the first heads that we spotlighted on our revamped blog in early April. I was immediately impressed with the emcee out of Milwaukee. To me, she has content and a lyrical delivery to back it up. Her music has something a lot of music on the radio is missing – passion. I’m happy to support real music. Melissa has an album out, Strawberry Cadillac, which is available on iTunes. Get that! Only $9.99.

Like I said, we’ve featured her music in the past but wanted to take an opportunity to do a Q&A and hear from the woman behind the music. Check out what she had to say.

The Mad Bloggers: How do you describe what you do? Like, would you consider yourself an emcee, poet, etc?

Melissa Czarnik: I consider myself a poet/emcee. I read a lot of poetry. I work at a destination poetry bookstore, Woodland Pattern Book Center, which brings in poets from across the nation and so I’m constantly surrounded by inspiring wordsmiths. I also grew up on hip-hop. Some of my favorites are Talib Kweli and right now I’m bumping that Diamond District like crazy. I mix the two together sort of naturally. I think the one thing that defines me, as poet/emcee, is that I don’t pay any attention to the rules of hip-hop (per say). That whole verse, chorus, verse, chorus thing ain’t really my thing. If I want to have a 24 bar poem that leads into a 16 bar verse that exits back into a 24 bar poem then that’s what I’ll do.

TMB: I know you're pushing the Spooky Love project right now for Eric Mire but what's the next project coming up for just you? How much time do you spend per week dedicated to music?

MC: I am working on my next album right now. I’m setting a deadline for late 2009, but I don’t want to rush it if it’s not ready but that’s what I’m aiming for. In terms of time spent working on music, I feel like all my free time goes towards working on music. Because when I’m reading, I’m furthering my vocabulary and my knowledge, which eventually ends up in my rhymes. When I’m listening to music, I’m constantly analyzing, “OK, what did I like about this, what can I borrow from to make my music better.” And in terms of writing, I’m always writing. Now whether it ends up in a song or not is one thing but like I always say a “line of rhyme a day, keeps the haters at bay!”

TMB: Shows, events that are upcoming and exciting?

MC: Actually yes! I have very exciting news, The Eric Mire Band, a jazzy, hip-hop, folk group that backs me up at my live show is releasing their first group album, “Spooky Love” on May 9th. I’m featured on a couple of the tracks so I’m extra hype on that. And Eric Mire, who is also my producer and guitar player, is coming with me to Europe at the end of May for about 10 days to try and do some international promotion and performing.

TMB: You're a female ... how does that play in hip-hop for you? (Woman in mainstream music often had to come off more sexual than talented for example) Do you see it as an issue in presenting who you are?

MC: I see it as an issue for women in general, more than just for me. I mean women in music often use their bodies to sell themselves. The problem starts with mainstream record labels putting a pretty face before talent. The next thing you know you got little girls growing up thinking all I got to do is look sexy, play dumb and I’ll get ahead in life. I think that’s why I look up to women like Ani Difranco, india.arie, and Lauryn Hill. Cause these are women who are talented, intelligent, and naturally sexy. I mean Lauryn Hill could rock a mini-skirt and some combat boots and be sexy as all hell, and yet kill whatever Pras or Clef were spittin next to her. Which actually brings me to your first question about being a female in hip-hop. I feel that I constantly have to watch my back cause it’s a male dominated game. I want to be strong, taken seriously, but at the same time I don’t want to hide my sexiness. I also want to make sure people like me for my talent and not for my body. So at one show I might be rocking a dress and the next show I’m in dickies, timbs, and a hoodie. But, I usually always got some sneakers on or some boots, cause you never know when you’re gonna have to take off running!

TMB: If there was one thing you could change about that state of hip-hop right now, what would it be?

MC: I would like to change the fact that most of the hip-hop you hear on the radio today is garbage, degrading, and mindless. I would like to make it so that in order to get on the radio, young emcees had to aspire to be uplifting and have heart.

Check it out:
Rue Lafeyette is one of my favorite joints. It’s a love song about Paris (not Hilton). It’s inspired by a trip Melissa took to Paris in 2004.

More on Melissa Czarnik,

Sneaker Documentary

Found this sneaker documentary by Justin Black. I thought it was a pretty cool feature. If you have a bit of time, you should check it out. It's an interesting look at the sneaker phenomenon.

Sneaker Documentary from Justin Black on Vimeo.

TELL 'EM WHY YOU MAD: Stuck in a Dumb Box

Question... to the designers of those new boxed looking cars, did you like playing with cardboard boxes as kids? I mean, that Scion was running things for a while with that box look (by running, I mean no one else had the nerve to do such an ugly design). Then it seems like an influx of boxed looking cars hitting the market - enter the Honda Element, that new Kia Soul (I'm still trying to figure out the use of hamsters in their commercial by the way), Ford has one and I recently saw a commercial for a new Nissan. All with that box looking design. They all seriously look like cardboard boxes with engines, wheels and windows. What an imagination. I would say, nice way to think outside the box but based on the recent designs, that's not really appropriate.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What I'm Listening to Right Now... Mr. Lif

Check out Mr. Lif ( Album is also available on iTunes.

Music Playlist at

I'm Lovin It

I don’t know if I’m just in the right spot when crazy things go down or maybe I’m always just paying attention and looking for wild stuff (so I can write about it later). Today while going through some pictures, I was reminded of this bizarre experience I had at a McDonalds.

A few months back I went to this McDonalds in a semi sketch area. It was one of the smallest McDonalds I had been to in my life. When we get in the spot we notice that they are attempting to shut down for the night. Kind of threw us off because the sign on the door said that they closed at 9pm and it was only 7:30, but whatever I suppose. Girl behind the counter is wearing a t-shirt (with no McDonalds logo) and a pair of jeans. Threw me off a little bit because I didn’t know that McDonalds had plain clothed employees. Perhaps she was undercover.

I proceed to order first. Everything seems cool after the second guy I’m with orders too. Well, this is until she starts telling us that they don’t have certain things anymore. Like, they are out of fries and you can only order certain types of burgers, there are no more Mc Nuggets and so on (I guess that’s why they were shutting down early). So the dude in the back that’s making up the orders yelled out to the girl to come to the back. They begin to argue. We can’t quite make out everything they are saying, but he’s pretty upset and said over and over, “you don’t listen.”

Dude finally walks to the front of the store. “Who ordered the quarter pounder with cheese?” My man who ordered after me, replied with, “I did.”

The guy begins to explain how they don’t have any more quarter pounder meat. Well, they do have quarter pounder meat but he doesn’t want to fire the grill back up and that takes a lot of effort, especially because he had just cleaned it he goes on to explain. Then he goes on with, “you can order like a fish sandwich or something.” Yeah, nothing about this spot said that you wanted to order the fish sandwich at all! So, my man said, “I don’t really want to do that.”

There’s a moment of silence. Then the dude said, “I have some regular meat that’s cooked up. I figure I put like three or four patties of those on there and that has got to equal like a quarter pounder.”

There is another pause. My man being ridiculous said, “then do it.”

This is what happens when you order food at a sketchy McDonalds. He put four between those two pieces of bread. He had to put it in a double quarter box.

Auto-Tune The News??? LMFAO!!!

Wooooooooooooow! I saw this. Laughed a little. Kept watching. Died laughing. Reeeeeeee-dunk-ulous. LOL! Check this out A.S.A.P.

Nat King Cole To Blu & Exile

Here's another old to new I'm posting for your musical pleasure. Again, Nat King Cole's When Sunny Gets Blue is such a classic in itself. You can distinctively hear the sample at the end of Blu & Exile's Blu Collar Workers. They put a very creative twist to it in my opinion. I love both. Check it out...

Music Playlist at

Music Playlist at

Fwd: Auto-Tuneless ... KRS-One and Buckshot's Robot

Robot, produced by Havoc of Mobb Deep, is the first track off of KRS-One and Buckshot's Survival Skills in stores August 25th on Duck Down Records. This is another one of those tracks that popped up in the email (thanks to our people at Mac Media).

Robot is real! They come straight at the current auto-tune trend and the copy-cat mentality of the craft. Remember Roger Troutman? KRS-One and Buckshot do.

This track is just an indication of a dope album on the way. According to the press release, "Survival Skills has confirmed features from Mary J Blige, Slug of Atmosphere, Immortal Technique, K'NAAN, Talib Kweli, Sean Price, Naledge of Kidz In The Hall, Smif N Wessun, Rock of Heltah Skeltah and Geo of Blue Scholars. Production on the album includes tracks from Havoc, of Mobb Deep, 9th Wonder, Black Milk, Marco Polo, Moss, Coptic, KHRYSIS! and Ill Mind."

Yeah, you can say wow now.

The track is available May5th on iTunes.

Music Playlist at

THE BRIEFING: Wait, So Tom's Not My Friend Anymore?

Many may or may not have heard, but reports indicate that many of MySpace top execs are out. Reports indicate that at the very least senior execs, including cofounders Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson, are among those that will be replaced.

Found this piece on the Business Insider. Interesting to bring on a former Facebook guy. Check out "The First Ten Things" list below.

From Business Insider

Reports say the new CEO of News Corp (NWS) social network MySpace will be former Facebook COO Owen Van Natta. Mahalo CEO Jason Calacanis, who's close with News Corp digital boss Jonathan Miller, probably knows whether this is true or not, but he says he can't confirm or deny it till Friday.

This has not, however, kept Jason from offering his opinion on what MySpace should do going forward, whomever its new CEO may be.

He's written a list of "The First Ten Things the New CEO of MySpace Should Do."

  1. Buy a search engine
  2. Admit Facebook is beating you on the Web and focus on owning mobile
  3. Double down on global efforts
  4. Parallel rebuilding of the MySpace platform
  5. Focus on Building a Huge Social and Casual Gaming Business
  6. Build a MySpace Virtual Currency
  7. MySpace should launch a full-blown email service with a partner.
  8. MySpace’s new CEO should build a team bonus program based on unique visitors and page views
  9. Meet with top members and run a gazillion focus groups
  10. Buy or build a network of high-value content sites

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

TELL 'EM WHY YOU MAD: Damn that Lack of Customer Service

Below is a slightly older post, back when we first started. But I had some poor customer experiences earlier in the day that reminded me of it. I started to write and then I figured I would just re-post the joint. Crazy how this was written in 2006 but still rings so true today.

Original Post, September 18, 2006

I was recently having an everyday convo with a friend of mine about customer service and how bad its gotten. We pretty much agreed that saying it's gone downhill would be an extreme understatement. Customer service is one of those skills that any human being should be able to have. It's not Rocket Science. Geez, it's not even simple Add and Subtract kind of math. But it is required when going for a position in a supermarket, mall or any kind of retail store. I haven't applied for a position in years where customer service is required but I'm sure the applications ask if you have any experience in it. So how are people getting these jobs but aren't qualified leaving us, the customers, feeling berated and confused.

My feeling is this: Customer service is dead! R.I.P.! Gone Fishing! On Vacation!

Now my question is this: Where did it go? Why aren't we fighting to get it back? What are we doing to reverse this epidemic?

Here's a paraphrased excerpt from my friend's email conversation:

"...Dude, mention how (expletive) annoying the (Retail Chain Store) is where I live .. that we still ride out of town instead of going to the one in our own town...because the people they got working there SUCK. You ask them a question and you want to say "I'm sorry. Am I interrupting your day by making you work? Yeah, my bad for not letting you finish your conversation with your homegirl (who, by the way, works there too) about how stank your baby daddy is and about the party you went to the night before...which everyone in the freakin' store knows thanks to your loud, rude, no work ethic having self." I'm saying, just making minorities look bad daaaaaaaaaamn!..."

Don't give me attitude, make angry facial expressions, or get mad at me because I need help. I didn't tell you to get that job. I didn't make you come to work. Leave all that negativity at home!

To put the question into a form that "most" young kids (who are the core of our customer service problem), WHAT'S REALLY GOOD?!?!

Fwd: KRS-One and Buckshot Freestyle

You just got to love the stuff that shows up in your email from time to time. Received a link earlier to a video from Tony Touch's show on Shade 45, where KRS-One and Buckshot were guests. While on the show they apparently free-styled for a ten-minute stretch. This is just part one (Click to View). KRS-One and Buckshot have a studio album in the works, Survival Skills, that hits stores in August on Duck Down Records.

Keeping it Real on Air ... DJ Hyphen

I came across DJ Hyphen and the Sunday Night Sound Sessions through my man O a while back. He put me on to this DJ out of Seattle that was doing a real dope show on Sunday nights, then emailing the mp3 out to folks who wanted it and posted it on his The Audacity of Dope website ( It took me a while to get on to what Hyphen was doing but eventually I subscribed to that mailing list and surely the emails started coming with the playlist and mp3 attached. It’s been a pleasure to hear some stuff from folks that definitely deserve radio play but aren’t getting it in the current scheme of things.

He spotlights the kind of artists that you have to either live in their area to hear their stuff or comb through MySpace music and other networking places to hear about it. Through his Sunday Night Sound Sessions, Hyphen and co-host J. Moore strive to give good music airtime. It’s definitely not the full amount of airtime that so many talented heads deserve but as Hyphen explained, commercial radio is a business.

I decided to reach out to Hyphen for a Q&A. He definitely keeps it real and insightful. Here’s what Hyphen had to say.

Where does "The Audacity of Dope" name come from?
The Audacity of Dope name comes from a play on Barack's 2nd book, The Audacity of Hope. I founded the blog in May 2008 as a home for our Sound Session interviews and episodes, which was also around the time I started working in a fellowship program for Obama's campaign. It seemed like a natural fit to tie my political interests with passion for music. Plus, I like that people have to spell 'audacity' to get to the page. Those who can't shouldn't be there anyway.

What's the inspiration behind the show "Sunday Night Sound Sessions" and why you do it?
Sunday Night Sound Session is the brainchild of myself and my co-host, J. Moore. It started when KUBE 93 approached us to take their Sunday night new music show into a new direction, preferably something a little more focused on the 'underground' side of hip-hop. Having hosted a college radio show for four years previously, I knew I wanted to make Sound Session similar to my Beats, Rhymes, and Life college program, but take it to a new level with the increased wattage. J and I are inspired on a weekly basis to give some shine to deserving artists that may not be getting the exposure they deserve through traditional media outlets. In other words, we support good music, across multiple genres, because most commercial media outlets are more concerned with turning a profit than promoting art. We understand that it's ultimately a business, but we think there should be more of a balance, and hopefully Sound Session provides some of that.

Why aren't there more programs like "Sound Session" on other stations?
There aren't more programs like Sound Session because the current business model with commercial radio doesn't allow it. Plain and simple, radio at this level is a business designed to make as much money as possible for large corporations. There's nothing wrong with that from a capitalist level, but from an artistic perspective, it's a huge detriment to the music. Large corporations sell hip-hop the same way they'd sell shoes or pizza. Whatever they can do to make money, they'll do it. This translates to media outlets across the country promoting the most base level human interests in their entertainment packages, which is particularly evident in hip-hop. If big budget action movies depend on explosions and flashing lights, hip-hop radio tries to sell sex, drugs, and violence. They're the easiest topics to sell because they require the least amount of education. When you have a rapper on our show talking about socio-economic issues and gentrification, you're automatically going over the heads of at least half of society. It’s sad but true. It all starts with education.

Who are three ill artists right now flying under the radar?
The first artist that pops into my head is my dude Shad ( He's insanely talented lyrically, makes great songs that everyone can relate to, and takes pride in his sound and his message. That's pretty much my criteria for who I want to listen to, and it's only a matter of time before he gets the recognition he deserves. Along those same lines, there's a MC from the Bay/LA named Tunji ( that I've known for almost a decade now. He's one of the most talented artists I've ever seen and like Shad, he takes so much pride in his music and what he represents. He's going to make some classic music sooner rather than later. Lastly...hmm...I'll throw a curveball and go outside of hip-hop. There's an indie pop/R&B group from Sweden called Little Dragon ( that makes some incredible music. I don't know too much about their story, but their music is a great mix of all the best elements of pop, soul, R&B, and even some hip-hop influences. I definitely recommend people to check 'em out.

Also, here’s a taste of the Sunday Night Sound Sessions. If you like it, hit Hyphen up and get on that mailing list.

Link to download the mp3 of the show -
(back up / streaming link -

Show #203 Playlist (4-19-09)
1. Crooked I & DJ Wicked – “Jackin’ For Beats 2009”
2. Pac Div – “Pac Div (What It Is)”
3. Nipsey Hussle ft. Slauson Boys & K. Young – “Roll The Windows Up”
4. Defari – “Show Some Luv”
5. Skyzoo ft. Wale – “Freshfest”
6. Grynch – “A Dream Undeferred” (Local Artist)
7. Chali 2Na ft. Talib Kweli – “Lock Sh*t Down”
8. Stepbrothers (Evidence & Alchemist) – “It’s Coming Down”
9. Big Pooh – “Rear View Mirror”
11. Asher Roth ft. Miguel Jontel – “His Dream”
12. B.o.B ft. Devin The Dude – “Gettin’ High”
13. Sharam ft. Kid Cudi – “She Came Along”
14. Chester French – “C’Mon (On My Own)”
15. Dyme Def ft. Saigon – “Pick Up Ya Flow” (Local Artist)
16. Jadakiss ft. Raekwon & Ghostface Killah – “Cartel Gathering”
17. Shad – “Get Up”
18. Outasight – “Even Say Goodbye”
19. Common Market – “Escaping Arkham” (Local Artist)
20. Kidz In The Hall – “I Got It Made (Reebok Classic ’09)”
21. U-N-I – “Lauren London”
22. Drake ft. Lloyd – “A Night Off”