Wednesday, November 30, 2011

We're Open!

My posts have been noticeably short these days. Here's why (Click the logo for more info!):

Tonight, we opened. Never have I experienced such a wonderfully accepting and responsive audience. And working on this show has felt as if I've stolen someone else's wonderful life.

If you have a chance to check it out, please do. We are having a great time with this one.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Reverend Tyson and General Colbert

I can't think of a better duo.

I'm pretty sure Dr. Tyson has been the most frequent reoccurring guest on Stephen Colbert's Colbert Report on Comedy Central. However, Stephen never has a chance to interview folks out of character, which is what makes this clip so fantastic. And as you will see, Colbert is just as brilliantly funny here as he is on his show. This is a wonderful interview.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Emcee of the Month: Murs

I've been debating with myself tonight. Should I look for Murs' most recent offerings or post one of his tracks that initially caught my attention? After skimming through a few clips (all of them impressive I might add), I felt it best to post this:

I first encountered this track while doing college radio at Louisiana State University in 2005. The format of the station was primarily indie rock with a little underground hip hop thrown in for spice. During one of my normal regular-rotation shifts, this song popped up in the mix. Now, most of the hip hop the station kept in the library was familiar to me. But I had never heard Murs' stuff before and I was immediately impressed. It had been a while since I heard an emcee as direct and unapologetic as Murs is here. And in relation to many of the cultural difficulties still facing the south, this song seemed especially appropriate.

Plus, it's super-fresh.


Friday, November 25, 2011

For Nerd Eyes Only

So, I get home tonight from our first preview of This Is the Week That Is (Come see it! It's great!) and begin the usual youtube surf session. As you may or may not know, if you cruise youtube long enough they will start suggesting videos for you to view. For tonight, I was given this:

So, you mean to tell me I can watch a show about science hosted by Jeremy Clarkson? Yes, please.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Rhymes of Our Lives (Thanksgiving Edition)

I am thankful to have heard this track.

There was a time before I bought the Soundbombing II compilation during which I only listened to two albums; The Score by The Fugees and ATLiens by Outkast. Once I realized hip hop could sound like this, I was hungry for more.

Thanks Com.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Little Engine That Could

I may be a car-loving, motorcycle-riding, gearhead, but I'm pretty sure anyone who appreciates remarkable engineering and craftsmanship will enjoy this video.

This guy has built what he claims is the world smallest V12 engine.

For the uninitiated, here's some info on the V12 engine configuration. It's basically just like the engine in your car, just with more room to let gasoline explode.

For me, the most impressive thing about this clip is watching him craft the engine pieces out of the raw metals he acquired. I've seen more than a few videos of folks cutting crankshafts in lathes, but to see one that fits in the palm of my hand is absolutely fascinating.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Where did THIS homegirl come from!?

All I know at the moment is that her name is Rocky Rivera and she kicks rhymes like an absolute animal. I'm off to investigate.

I wonder if we're looking at December's Emcee of the Month.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Emcee of the Month: Murs

A Bit of Context:

I like this cat's live feel quite a bit.

With the immeasurable availability of free downloadable music, hip hop artists must spend more time and effort developing who they are as live performers. It's simply the only way can still make a living as musicians. Even the most lucrative artists aren't selling much more than three or four million records per release.

Therefore, artists like Murs who are more than competent live performers stand more of a chance at success.

Lemme go check Murs' tour dates. I wonder if he's going to be in Philly any time soon...


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Emcee of the Month: Murs

Here's a really good clip of Murs performing at the South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas back in 2008.

Considering I just got home from two days of twelve-hour rehearsals, I'm going to hold of making any observations about this until tomorrow. However, I will say that judging from this video, I'm willing to bet Murs is quite the performer.



Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Rhymes of Our Lives

I honestly can't think of a bigger hip hop dance record than this.

I won't wax and wain about this song tonight. I have a 12-hour rehearsal in the morning and I need to get to bed. However, I will say that I do a pretty good Humpty impression if I do say so myself! So if you ever run into me at a bar or other appropriate social environment, and the moment is just right, I'll let you be the judge.



Thursday, November 17, 2011

Indulge Me

Today was a busy one. I changed a tire, recorded a video for a friend's voice/speech lecture, performed in a show, and wore a Superman costume. If you would indulge me, I'm going to allow myself a night to turn off my brain.

However, what I will say is that this song was the last thing I was singing to myself on my way home. Things are feeling good.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Big O Still Has It

Current TV may have been the best move for Keith. These are as good as they've always been.

I think my main man Special K has said about everything I would have wanted to say tonight. Excuse me while I try to get seven hours of sleep. I have to beat on a rusted Xterra wheel with a hammer tomorrow morning.


Monday, November 14, 2011

A Quick Thought on Precision in the Theatre

Recently, I saw a play at one of the larger theaters in town that solidified a belief I've had for quite some time now.

Let me start by saying I thought the play was very well done. It was a solid piece of engaging and important theatrical art. The actors were all incredibly available, their navigation of the stage was alive and purposeful, and the production values were first rate. I was impressed.

But not as much as I could have been.

Even though everything was seemingly in place for this production to be successful (And considering I bought the last ticket that night, success wasn't a problem.) the one crucial piece missing, at least for me, was a concrete sense of communal precision in the work I witnessed.

Let me explain.

As I watched the show, it became clear to me that I was observing a wonderful group of inspired and talented actors who were hindered by constraints of the modern approach to producing a piece of theatre. On average, the typical play is rehearsed for about four to five weeks. The actors meet on the first day; perhaps they know each other from other shows or they could be meeting for the first time. The play is read at a table, there is discussion of what it means and what's being said, then everyone goes home to begin memorizing lines and doing their individual work. From then on, the destination is opening night. The attention is given primarily to staging the show and incorporating the technical aspects of the production. And yes, there is time for continued discussion and debate, but that type of exploration can never outweigh the primary objective of opening the play.

However, there was a time in the theatre where instead of rehearsing for only four or five weeks, a company of artists would spend four to five months working on a play. Actors were given the time and space to truly explore the more nuanced and complex aspects of the script. More time was available to develop a common vocal and physical vocabulary that more appropriately served the ensemble and the production. The cast had the opportunity to know and understand each other's personal aesthetics with more depth and intimacy. All things considered, this type of rehearsal timeline always produces more consistent, inspired, and precise work. In fact, a friend of mine in New York just began a rehearsal process that is scheduled to take an entire year! Think about how good you could be at something if you gave yourself an entire year to practice it. Imagine how brilliant you would be.

This is a major issue in our current theatre culture. Too often are good performers from differing artistic points-of-view and training backgrounds thrown together and expected to "make the magic happen". Sometimes it comes together beautifully, other times it falls flat. And there are many gradations in between.

I say let's take the guess work out of it. Let's make well defined, precise, and penetrating pieces of theatre all the time. And for god's sake, let's give ourselves the time we need to do it.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Emcee of the Month: Murs

They couldn't find a tripod some decent lighting for this?

There are two more parts (here and here). Please have a look.

Obviously, I didn't choose to post this video because of the production value. Nevertheless, of all the interview clips of Murs I found this one is by far the most insightful. It's always fascinating to hear these artists give these kinds of accounts describing their thoughts and beliefs on their music and the surrounding society. So many times these interviews are unable to illuminate all but the most pedestrian elements of an emcee's inspiration. This is quite refreshing.

I'll have a few more thoughts on this interview tomorrow.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Neil deGrasse Tyson Takin' it To 'Em

I've been gone for a couple of days. Most of my energy recently has been dedicated to rehearsals for a show. Things are moving along incredibly well, but there has been little time for thought and reflection on ideas and topics currently occupying my interest.

So, allow me to humbly offer a bit of my science hero Neil deGrasse Tyson.

All this info on this particular lecture can be found here on the youtube page for this video.

I'll be back tomorrow with the Emcee of the Month.

Thanks for stickin' with me.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Heavy D: 1967-2011

Man, I really don't like these posts.

from the NY Times:

Heavy D, the smooth-talking and cheerful rapper who billed himself as “the overweight lover M.C.,” died in Los Angeles on Tuesday. He was 44.

The Los Angeles County coroner’s office confirmed the death Tuesday evening, saying that Heavy D had collapsed at his home and was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he died shortly after noon. The cause of death was not known as of Tuesday night, but the Beverly Hills police said that there was no evidence of foul play and that the death appeared to be “medically related.”

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Heavy D was one of hip-hop’s most popular and charismatic figures, a girthy slickster who was an eager seducer and was unafraid of the dance floor. He was the frontman of Heavy D & the Boyz, which became the first act signed to Uptown Records, the label that was integral in building the bridge between hip-hop and R&B.

Click here for more.

There are going to be many articles written by many people much more insightful that me, so I'll keep my commentary short. I'll simply say that Heavy D was a hip hop hero. He's one of the primary artists that helped develop hip hop from its raw beginnings into a resonant and sophisticated musical art form. He's one of those folks we never imagine losing, which is what makes his loss all the more difficult.

He will be dearly missed.

And since everyone else is going to post "Now That We Found Love", and since it's my favorite, enjoy Heavy D's "Big Daddy". Any hip hop slow jam mix should have this on it.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Uncle Shotsie

If I'm honest, the only reason I'm posting this is because I have the pleasure of seeing Uncle Shotsie everyday, and it's fun to post youtube videos of people I know. Having said that, this is my first look at Uncle Shotsie in all his brilliance. Dig those lapels, why don'tcha!?

Working on this show feels like I've stolen someone's fantastic life. I'm having a good time.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Hey Joe...

Thanks for the memories.

from USA Today

Joe Frazier, a tough, underrated heavyweight boxer from Philadelphia and one of the sport's fiercest competitors who spent a lifetime playing second fiddle to his nemesis, Muhammad Ali, died Monday night from liver cancer. Frazier was 67.

Frazier's death was announced in a statement by his family, who asked to be able to grieve privately.

Frazier was diagnosed with cancer in late September, said his personal and business manager, Leslie Wolff. He had made several personal appearances since then.

See more here.

Check out a bit of his highlight reel.

RIP "Smokin'" Joe.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Emcee of the Month: Murs

Murs may be one of the best rappers you've never heard of. In fact, I would go so far as to say he may actually belong in the No Wack Verses Club. Honestly, I've never known Murs to write anything other than outstanding stuff.

Here's a freestyle like you've never seen (for all of my folk guitar-loving friends).

This is going to be a good month.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Say What?

So the folks over at Bad Lip Reading have finally set their sites on the prime target, Herman Cain. I would advise against eating or drinking while watch this. You may spill it all over your keyboard.

What's funny is that Cain makes about as much sense in this video as he does in real life.

This is just magnificent.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

The McKellen School

Tonight, I'm going to spend some time writing (or at least, pondering) some material for my current project. Therefore, allow me to leave you with this.

Many people often ask me how I do what I do. This is about the best way I've heard it described.



Wednesday, November 2, 2011

One More Thing

Even though this is a new month, I couldn't resist posting what I discovered last night.

This is a hidden track on The Roots' first live album The Roots Come Alive. When I first heard it, my first thought almost exactly matched one of the actual comments under the video on Youtube.

Black Thought is simply scatting this stuff, and he's still more engaged than 90% of the emcees I hear!



Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Rhymes of Our Lives

Lords of the Underground - Chief Rocka

I'm going to be honest here. It took me a while to pick up on what these cats were saying. I mean, there's quite a bit in this song that makes very little cognitive sense. But then I heard Mr. Funke spit:

They don't understand how I feel about the funk/
I walk with the funk/
I talk with the funk/
I eat with the funk/
I sleep with the funk/
I live off the funk/
I'd die for the funk.

Somehow, that allowed everything to come together. It's funny how things happen that way.