Last September I blogged about the sale of an ordinary building on Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx. The address is special because it’s the place DJ Kool Herc invented Hip Hop. Whether or not you like the genre it’s an American invention that deserves it’s history preserved. The building has since been sold and as far as I can tell the new owners won’t be placing a statue on plaq to commemorate it’s past and importance.
Luckily we have some online preservation. The New Radio and Performing Arts with funding from the Jerome Foundation have launched Bronx Rhymes, an interactive map of Hip Hop’s Bronx birth. Take a look: http://transition.turbu…
“Up in the Bronx where the people are fresh there was one Dj who had to pass the test. And now he’s down by law and he’s ready to play that’s right y’all his name is AJ.” – AJ Scratch, Kurtis Blow
“Hip Hop was born in the South Bronx. Bronx Rhymes uncovers the history of Hip Hop in the borough by tagging historically important locations with rhymes. These rhymes illuminate the significance of the locations, and issue a rhyming challenge. Posters appear at each location and invite viewers to respond with their own rhymes via text message. This website is an evolving archive of the collected rhymes, a reflection of the community, and a way to reinsert the hip hop past into present-day South Bronx.” – transition.turbulence.org/Works/bronx_rhymes/
Take a look at the flickr set of posters: click here
Imagine getting a call from your local television station. Imagine they tell you a hip hop artist is coming in and they need you to work the board. Now feast your eyes above on what could have been that job. As much as I laughed my ass off watching this I can only imagine the audio producer (and television crew’s) reaction as this happened live. “Hey honey how was work today?” “Oh man…”.
Up in the Bronx gentrification has arrived. The borough is the last area near Manhattan where living space is still affordable and the middle class is moving there in droves. There is an average looking building at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue that was recently sold to new owners ready to flip it from old burnin Bronx to hipster cool. But this building has an apartment inside of it that is very special. This apartment once belong to a man named Clive Campell. Does this name ring a bell to you? It should because under his synonym DJ Kool Herc he invented Hip Hop.
How should NYC mark this spot? Should the new devolopers on Sedgwick Avenue be forced to honor the birthplace of an American musical style? I think so!
If you listen to my music every now and then you come across a song that could almost be hip hop. Songs like It’s Goes Like This and of course One Night in NYC are good examples. The reason? Well before I became a New Wave, EBM freak was into classic Hip Hop.
I used to break at my local bowling alley. I had pinstriped Lees and Puma’s with fat laces. I even had a white cap that said “Fresh” (unfortunately thats not a lie!). I have a giant Conion boombox which is the size of a car door (thats a photo of it today in my father’s office). I bought it at the Spring Valley flea market. Every Friday and Saturday night I recorded DJ Red Alert on Kiss FM and Marley Marl’s Rap Attack on WBLS. I still have a huge box of those cassettes waiting to become digital! The video above shows how popular breaking became and its infiltration into every suburb in America.
Even though I moved on quickly past the genre I’m glad I cut some of my teeth there. Learning hip hop vocal styles and drum machine programming at such an early age has really helped throughout my music career. You would be surprised how much skill goes into simple worded verses. How you can really change the feeling of the message by swinging your voice around. And drum machine programming…
So what got you started in music?
Cassette tape nostalgia. Rewind: click here
Beatsource for Hip Hop has launched: click here
There is a company in New York called Voxonic and they are doing something that completely blows my mind. They can take a vocal track from a song and change the audio into a new language. For example, the vocals from a English hip hop track can be made into French or Spanish in the artists original voice. The artist does not have to re-sing the song or know the foreign language! The results are amazing believable.
Take a listen to this clip “French/English/Chinese”:
I came across this company while listening to an interview with Arie Deutsch the Co-founder of the company on NPR.org. I highly recommend taking a listen. During the interview they play several more audio examples including Bill Clinton’s inaugural speech translated into Spanish: click here
Voxonic has developed proprietary patent-pending software, which transforms voices, making it possible to replicate any person’s voice in any language. Voxonic applies its “Voice Models” to transform speech from one person to another. All we need is a one-time, fifteen-minute sample of your voice. With that we will be able to present you saying what you want in the language of your choice. – Voxonic.com
For me this is one of those “wow they can do this now” moments. Imagine this technology built into your DAW? Another amazing fact from the interview is that Mr. Deutsch says the processing happens quickly in about the length of the source. So could this mean with a much faster computer we are approaching real time language translation? Voll giel!
I’ve been impressed with how well Beatport has been doing. It really is a strong contender for electronic music downloads. The web interface, designed with help from Native Instruments is snazzy. The Beatportplayer is a great way for artists with music for sale on Beatport to spread there songs on multiple websites. The company also really knows how to market itself with an affiliate program and Beatportal.com. If your a full on shopper at Beatport the Beatport SYNC player with Traktor mixing abilities is also a worthy download.
Sales from my own record label have been strong on Beatport only second to iTunes. Beatport has a good financial reporting web interface for labels called Baseware. Inside Baseware you have some good analytics, charts and info to reach your own personal account manager at Beatport.
So today Beatsource has launched. It’s exactly like Beatport but for Hip Hop and Urban music. If your producing this kind of music I suggest getting in early on. There is one section of Beatsource that has me very excited: Genres -> Old School.
In the 1980s I spent a good amount of time recording Mr. Magic and DJ Red Alert’s radio shows off Kiss and WBLS. I used my giant Conion boombox (the photo is my actual Conion in my father’s office) to record to cassettes. I have about 1000 tapes in storage but since they are all mixes I am still looking for complete versions of many of the songs. Just Ice, Mantronix, TLA Rock are some of the artists that come to mind. I will be a regular visitor at Beatsource. What I find most interesting is as I type this the #1 song on Beatsource is Jam on It by Nucleaus!