Friday, May 07, 2004

Getting Rawkus
The rise and fall of hiphop record label Rawkus is covered in a fascinating article in the Village Voice (tip of the hat to O-Dub - he's got some extra questions on Rawkus over here).

Rawkus came up in the mid 90s with Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Pharoahe Monch and Company Flow - El P from the latter outfit eventually left Rawkus and started Def Jux, home to RJD2 (new album out May 18), Mr Lif, Aesop Rock, Cannibal Ox, and more.

"... Rawkus Records was founded on 10 g's in savings and a hazily idealistic notion about promoting progressive music. They tried drum'n'bass, electronica, and rock. They were not taken very seriously. But they could write a business plan, and they knew how to pull strings. So they tapped their old friend James Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch's kid. Pops agreed to invest in Rawkus even if it didn't have the gravitas. To get that, Brater and Myer would have to focus their vision a bit. They couldn't be all things to all genres. But they could be the only thing that mattered to you.

They got their first inkling from Company Flow. This was not true love—it was a marriage of convenience and opportunity. Orchestrated by abstract beatmaster-MC El-P, Co-Flo had little respect for Rawkus's business acumen or knowledge of hip-hop. But the Murdoch money was irresistible. Like almost every act that came to Rawkus, Co-Flo brought their own dream and asked the label to sell it: Funcrusher Plus. A few months later hordes of college geeks had an excuse for sitting sullenly in the back of the classroom: "Even when I say nothing it's a beautiful use of negative space."

Just prior to the label folding, after being bought by major label MCA (which was then swallowed by Geffen/Interscope, leading to the demise), they missed out on signing Kanye West. Bummer. If you want a local parallel, perhaps compare it to the shifting fortunes of Flying Nun, or more recently Kog Transmissions. NZ Musician did an excellent backgrounder on the Kog situation recently.

Thursday, May 06, 2004


Legendary reggae producer Coxsone Dodd dies.

"FOUR days after the City of Kingston honoured him by naming a street for his famous Studio One recording label, Jamaican music pioneer Clement "Sir Coxsone" Dodd died suddenly yesterday.
He apparently suffered a heart attack at his offices at 13 Studio One Boulevard, which, until last Friday's big civic ceremony in honour of Dodd, was Brentford Road. Dodd was 72.
In a statement last night, Opposition leader, Edward Seaga, a contemporary of Dodd in the music business in the 1950s and 1960s, described him as "one of the fathers of Jamaican music". He said that Dodd was "an extraordinary talent". Read more here, here and here.

What time is it?
TV2 repeated the insightful documentary Hiphop NZ on Tuesday night after the Comedy Festival Gala (did you see Benjamin Crellin doing Paul Holmes as Gollum? Brilliant). This doco originally screened last year, and with a NZ Music Month logo tacked on the front gave TV2 the appearance of giving a damn about local music, so good on em. Directed by Sima Urale (King Kapisi's sister), the final word in the show went to DJ DLT, talking about what hiphop means to him;
"Remember, hiphop is the description that a journalist had to sort of encompass a feeling, and put it into a word so that Joe Coffeetable could go there and trip with this journalist. So we gotta be very careful with how we label things.
"Hiphop is about 'what are you thinking now?' - 'Show me!', and let's see if I understand what you're trying to portray - it's life itself".


School Principal suffers loss of irony, humour bypass.
"The headmaster of Nelson College today called for a boycott of Farmers stores over "man-bashing" products advertised in their Mother's Day catalogue.
Salvi Gargiulo said he had received three letters from people disturbed by slogans such as "Boys are stupid: throw rocks at them" and "Stupid factory: where boys are made" printed on slippers and bags in the catalogue. He said it was time for people to stop finding humour by putting people down. "I think a lot of bashing goes on under the heading of humour, but it's not humorous. If you joke like that you condone it."

A consumer writes...
I've long been a fan of Wrigleys Juicyfruit chewing gum. I bought a packet at the weekend, and it now comes in a new funky, hip packaging. Gone is the distinctive logo, replaced with some 'groovy' typeface, and a note saying "now longer lasting", but it felt like the packet has got smaller.
Then yesterday, I bought an old-style packet of Juicyfruit from a gas station that still had some of the old stock, and what do you know - the old packet weighed 17g and the new, longer lasting packet is 14g - for the same price as the old packet. So this new redesigned labelling comes with a catch - you are getting ripped off. How can gum be longer lasting? That's subjective. I'm never buying Juicyfruit ever again. If you happen to know anyone who works for Wrigleys, can you find out why they are screwing their customers like this? Thank you.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Why Aston Kutcher is a moron
From allhiphop.com... "A prank from the MTV show "Punk'd" has reportedly gone wrong when host Ashton Kutcher and crew attempted to trick Black Eyed Peas into a fake arrest. According to published reports, the BEP entourage began fighting with the shows fake cops after the attempted apprehension within a brothel."
They may be making them cheesy crossover hiphop/pop hits, but damn, don't mess with those Black Eyed Peas.