Saturday, February 16, 2008

"Sacramento Kings Cheerleaders / Dance Squad : Photos / Pics"

So.... Here are those 'leaked' photos of the NBA's Sacramento Kings' Cheerleaders / Dance Team... I don't see what all the hubbub is all about, but hey. It is what it is! Enjoy. - Ace:)

Friday, February 15, 2008

"Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings to perform on David Letterman!"

This just in....

Sharon Jones & The magnificent Dap Kings will be performing LIVE on The Late Show With David Letterman this coming Monday, February 18th!

For those who are unaware, these people throw down! Sharon's vocals are smokin', and The Dap Kings' got a groove guaranteed to make that body move! FYI: The Dap Kings are Amy Winehouse's band when she does tour dates in America.

Anyway, don't miss it sucka! - Ace:)

**CBS Television.. Check your local listing.

"Chuck Brown is good to Go-Go"

from - by Wayne Gabel

Meet the Washington go-go innovator who learned guitar in prison and then gave his hometown its own syncopated soul

Chuck Brown doesn't know when to quit. That's not a character flaw — it's a trait that gave the world the musical equivalent of a marathon.

The 73-year-old guitarist and singer, dubbed the "Godfather of Go-Go," is still a man on the move thanks to the funk-based sound he created in the 1970s with his band, the Soul Searchers.

"Go-go music just keeps going and going and going," Brown says by phone from his home in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C.

To residents of the U.S. capital, Brown is as much of a local icon as the monuments that dot the cityscape. But outside of the greater Washington area, go-go's birthplace, the man and his creation have a lower profile. That's despite the props Brown has gotten from rapper Nelly, who's sampled his music, and other hip-hop stars he's influenced.

Aside from a flirtation with the international spotlight in the mid-1980s, go-go has remained a regional form of music. Significantly, however, it has showed few signs of losing ground to national trends.

"We're About the Business," a 2007 release that's available as an import in Japan, helps explain why that's the case. Produced by Carl "Chucky" Thompson, a former Soul Searchers drummer who's helmed records by Mary J. Blige and Busta Rhymes, the album incorporates hip-hop influences while remaining true to go-go's syncopated soul.

Some argue that go-go, with its horns and Latin-style percussion, is best experienced in concert. It's an opinion that seems to be borne out by the fact that Brown has issued umpteen live albums during the decade that elapsed between his latest disc and its studio predecessor. His Japan tour, which starts Feb. 16 in Tokyo, is his first since 1988, making it a rare chance to hear the real deal.

Go-go, as its name suggests, doesn't stop. Rather than pause between songs, the musicians typically fill the gap with timbales, congas and other percussion instruments as they segue into the next tune. It's a technique Brown began using to keep people on the dance floor back when he paid the bills by playing Top 40 covers. It was also a way to lessen the burden on his band.

Though urban legend has it that he came up with go-go because he despised disco, Brown remembers differently.

"It wasn't that I couldn't stand disco. It's just that I got so tired of playing disco because you have to keep up with the Top 10," he explains. "The work was so hard. Every week, they were coming out with new tunes. If it was a hit, we had to learn it."

Brown, who recalls playing up to 30 songs a night in those days, found a way of out of the grind. By having the band break into a percussion groove and engaging the audience with call-and- response chants between songs, he could stretch things without having to constantly update their repertoire.

"When we locked into that go-go groove, people liked it so much they didn't care how many songs we did," he says.

The beat that inspired the groove is one that Brown first heard as a child while attending church. He says the memories of "people jumping and shouting off that beat" never left him. He heard it again in "Mister Magic," the title track of a 1975 album by saxophonist Grover Washington Jr., whose music straddles R&B and jazz.

Brown slowed down the beat and topped it off with horns and Latin-style percussion. Mindful that audiences wanted to hear what they heard on the radio, he had to be careful about putting too much of himself into the music. But once he noticed the reaction of the audiences who frequented D.C.'s "cabarets" — social events held in venues such as hotels and fraternal halls — there was no holding him back.

"Everybody used to come to the cabaret with their suits and ties and their mink coats. They'd sit down, and most of them wouldn't dance until they had a few drinks," Brown recalls with a laugh. "But once we started doing that go-go beat, they'd come through the door dancing. I knew then it had caught on."

Brown, who taught himself to play guitar during a four-year stint for assault in Virginia's Lorton Prison in the mid-1960s, hit No. 1 on the U.S. R&B charts in early 1979 with "Bustin' Loose," a single that predated the so-called golden age of go-go. He charted again in 1984 with "We Need Some Money."

"I wrote that song in 15 minutes because I was deeply inspired — my pockets were empty," he says, laughing.

By the early 1980s, go-go had attracted the attention of Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records and the man who helped turn Bob Marley into an international star. His label signed go-go acts Trouble Funk and Experience Unlimited, and he was hoping "Good to Go," a 1986 film he produced, would make the sound a worldwide phenomenon. But it ended up as a poorly executed crime saga set to music.

"That movie sucked," Brown says. "I'm sorry I allowed myself to appear in it. It didn't have nothing to do with go-go — cars turning over, people shooting one another and all that crap. You come to go-go to have a good time, it'll make you move. When you hear go-go, you're going to feel it. That's the bottom line."

Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers play Feb. 16 (6 p.m. and 9 p.m.) and Feb. 17 (6 p.m. and 9 p.m.) at Billboard Live Tokyo; ¥7,500 and ¥9,500 (tel. [03] 3405-1133); Feb. 20 (6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.) at Billboard Live Osaka; ¥7,000 and ¥9,000 (tel. [06] 6342-7722).

"The return of the return of the DJ"

Ex-X-ecutioners form Ill Insanity and begin their crusade for the next DJ renaissance

Born from the ashes of New York hip-hop DJ supergroup the X-ecutioners and from a frustration with the current state of turntablism, Ill Insanity are on a mission to return the art of the DJ to its former glory.

Composed of ex-X-ecutioners Rob Swift and Total Eclipse along with younger inductee DJ Precision, the turntable trio have just released their progressive scratch music debut, Ground Xero, on Fat Beats, which includes among its turntable guests fellow former X man Roc Raida, plus Excess and DJ Q-Bert.

Ill Insanity's ongoing national tour, which stops in San Francisco on Feb. 21 for a performance and a workshop at Guitar Center and a party-rocking throw-down at Levende Lounge, seems less like a jaunt and more like a crusade to its three impassioned turntable ambassadors.

"This is the beginning of us taking the art form back," Rob Swift said, sounding something like one of the Marvel Comics heroes from which his original group, the X-Men, took their name.

"And I feel that we are putting it on our shoulders to show people that this is real creative music. And we are educating people about this art form because it seems to me like no one else is really doing it right now."

Speaking a few weeks ago at Swift's Queens, NY, apartment, which also serves as the group's recording studio and rehearsal space, the trio had gathered to mourn what they see as a creative lull in the art of turntablism and to prepare for its pending renaissance.

"Basically we were all bored with music, and that's what brought us together," Total Eclipse said. All three agreed that for several years now DJ battles, traditionally the barometers gauging the advancement of the turntable art form, have been in a decline. "There has been a really poor attendance at DJ battles for the past five years, especially here in the US," said Precision, the 2007 USA DMC Finals DJ battle champion. "And it's because the art form has slipped so much."

Part of this artistic stagnation, they believe, is because DJs of recent years have been satisfied with merely imitating instead of trying to innovate. "The younger DJs are too caught up with looking up to what came before, so they stop practicing when they master that trick that QBert or whoever has already done years ago," Swift said, "and consequently now everyone is sounding the same."

Precision jumped in: "And a lot of them don't even know the complete history of the DJ, like that Steve Dee created beat juggling."

In performance Ill Insanity's setup includes five turntables, three mixers, and computers to operate the Serato program. "What we are trying to do is to use the new technology without dumbing down the art," Swift insisted. "We have much respect for what came before us, still applying the

skills of Grandmaster Flash, party-rocking, and so on.... But we're saying, 'Let's do a 2008 version of what's already been done in the past.'

And as for the future of turntablism? Swift is optimistic: "There could be a kind of DJ revolution again. I predict that in a couple of years things will go back to the way they were."


Feb. 21, 6 p.m. performance and workshop, free

Guitar Center

1645 Van Ness, SF

(415) 409-0350

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

"The Police to make final round this Summer"

The Police will make one final trek around the US and Canada this summer, bringing to an end their hugely successful reunion tour.

The Sting-fronted trio will play another 20 dates in North America over May, July and August with as openers.

The jaunt, which kicks off May 1 in Ottawa will see the band play many cities they did not get to when they kicked off their reunion tour in May 2007.

Billboard says by the time the tour ends it will have made a massive $340 million.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

"Lookin' Good for Jesus Cosmetics Line pulled from Singapore shelves following complaints"

SINGAPORE (AP) — A cosmetics line that extolled the virtues of "Looking Good for Jesus" has been pulled from stores in Singapore after a number of complaints from shoppers, according to media reports Tuesday.

Promising to "Redeem your reputation and more," the product line included a "virtuous vanilla"-flavored lip balm and a "Get Tight with Christ" hand and body cream, The Straits Times said.

Wing Tai Retail, which manages the British retailer Topshop, removed the line late last month after receiving complaints.

"These products trivialize Jesus Christ and Christianity," it quoted Nick Chui, 27, one of the complainants, as saying. "There are also sexual innuendoes in the messages and the way Jesus is portrayed in these products."

One product has packaging with the image of Jesus wearing a bright white robe as he looks toward the heavens, while a heavily made-up blonde woman with an arm draped across his shoulder gazes dreamily at his face.

"Why would anyone use religious figures to promote vanity products? It's very disrespectful and distasteful," the report quoted 24-year-old accountant Grace Ong, as saying.

An unnamed Wing Tai Retail spokesman apologized to anyone who was offended.

Monday, February 11, 2008

"A little note for Natalie Cole"

So.... Natalie Cole sure had alot to say about Amy Winehouse, huh? Ms. Cole stated that Amy didn't "deserve" to win the Grammy Awards last night. Natalie also went on to call Amy "crazy", and remarked that "she needs to get her life together first, and then get the awards later."

Well, I think that Natalie Cole should keep her coattail-riding, grave-robbing, player-hating mouth shut, and concentrate on her OWN affairs. Perhaps take some time figuring out yet another way to raid her father's tomb, and LESS time shitting on someone else's success.

While I understand how Amy being blessed with such awards could be viewed as being awarded for bad behavior, it's my opinion that these bitter-sounding statements from Natalie Cole were inappropriate.

At the end of the day, Amy Winehouse has more raw talent in her faux beehive hairdo than Natalie Cole has in her entire body.

Anyway, that's my 3 cents on this subject. - Ace:)

"Smithsonian Recognizes Hip-Hop"

from - by Michael Tedder

Nearly 30 years after hip-hop first exploded onto the national music scene with "Rapper's Delight," the Smithsonian Exhibition has made the art form the subject of a new National Portrait Gallery showcase. The exhibit, RECOGNIZE! Hip Hop and Contemporary Portraiture, opened Friday and will run through October 26, featuring a mix of photography, painting, video portraits and graffiti murals.

RECOGNIZE! is the third in a series called Portraiture Now, which focuses on modern-day pieces. "We want to hold up a mirror to our audience," says Frank Goodyear, the Smithsonian's assistant curator of photography, "by showing portraits of living subjects by living artists."

Among the highlights is a portrait of LL Cool J by New York artist Kehinde Wiley. It is based on a famous portrait of oilman John D. Rockefeller and was first commissioned by VH1 for their 2005 Hip Hop Honors award program. Wiley also contributed paintings of Ice T and Big Daddy Kane. Other notable works include photographs of Common and Mos Def by New Mexico artist David Scheinbaum and video-based portraits by University of Maryland teacher Jefferson Pinder. Artists Tim Conlon and Dave Hupp contributed four large 1980s-style graffiti murals that illustrate graffiti's importance to the development of hip-hop culture.

The exhibition opened on Friday, and already has been a big hit for the museum. "I don't want to hype it, but it's been unbelievable," says Goodyear. In particular, he says a Saturday talk with Scheinbaum was so popular that "you couldn't pack one more person into the gallery." Family days and possible performances are being planned for the exhibit, although no information has been released as of yet.

"Amy Winehouse wins 5 Grammy Awards!"

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Trapped half a world away by the place she promised to never "go, go, go," a vibrant, exuberant Amy Winehouse dominated the Grammys on Sunday night, winning five awards and delivering a defiant performance of her autobiographical hit "Rehab" via satellite from London.

Wearing a sly smile as she performed for a small cabaret audience, Winehouse gave a sultry, soulful rendition of the hit that has defined her recent fall from grace. She looked just as coy as she sang the song "You Know I'm No Good" — almost reveling in the irony of her words.

But she looked dumbfounded when she was announced as the record of the year winner. She was immediately enveloped by her band, then her mother and father, who have publicly worried about whether their daughter — who just recently entered a drug rehabilation center after months of reported drug use, erratic behavior and canceled performances — would survive her demons.

In a major shocker, Winehouse lost the final award of the night, album of the year, to Herbie Hancock's "River: The Joni Letters."