Johnny Ford Soothes & Shocks with Blues & Rock

His music is straight up — raw, real, and from the heart. His voice drives home the pain, love, and longing of real life in an era of polished, over-produced, pre-packaged culture commodities. Bitter, bold, and have the balls to cut the bullshit? Johnny Ford’s music and straight-ahead, no-nonsense live show will let you know that you’re never alone.
Give a listen at www.johnnyfordshow.com. He performs on April 21st at The Studio at Webster Hall with a drummer, bassist, and a big fat sound to blow your mind out and hit and heal your hardened heart.
Mixing elements of blues, grunge, and rock’n’roll, Johnny Ford tells it like it is. He mixed it up with City Circus in the interview that follows.

Ex-Marine, Microphone Fiend

There is an honesty, an earnestness, and a purpose to the music of the man Miles Megaciph. His style ranges from ominous treatments of topics gravely important to an uncanny ability to lyricize lightheartedly on heavy issues of life-and-death stakes. Megaciph has returned to his hometown NYC to mobilize his music on the New York club circuit. His efforts have equipped and empowered other lyricists as well — Mega hosts The Vital Movement, a weekly open mic at No Malice Palace.

Megaciph’s other-centered, community-minded outlook extends to his efforts in other arenas as well.  Superman Mega’ Clark-Kents for dollars and cents as a writing specialist and coach for high school students at Harlem Children’s Zone.  His non-profit, ThatsGoodness, seeks to pay forward to the people the good will of a socially conscious art movement.  Mega’ hosts his album release party on August 19th at Sullivan Hall.  Megaciph gave his time and energy recently to an interview with City Circus. [click to continue]

Rugged N Raw : A Real Rapper Ackshally (u know it — do ya research kid)

Rugged N Raw doesn’t play around.  That’s first and up front.  The man storms the stage and ballasts the beat, a master-blaster who’s quick with his tongue and fast on his feet.  He throws his weight around, his flows aren’t safe and sound — it’s high heat, chin music, when this homey takes the mound.  Rugged N Raw assaults the mic with an aggression augmented by aeons in the underground, putting forth quality product in the face of a negligent, backpedaling music industry still reeling and reconfiguring in the wake of the Net’s near-knockout punch.

Rugged hasn’t flinched.  Instead, he’s put the work in to establish himself as an independent force dead-set on a livelihood as a throwback rapper forward-thinking and at the forefront of an interdependent groundswell of artists-cum-entrepreneurs web-wise and well-connected.

He’s toured, put out music videos, and released records — all without a record label getting in the way.

R ‘n’ R took a moment to toss it back and forth with City Circus.  The interview follows.

[click to continue]

In the Post, Dated (do ya f’Allah?) — A Hip Hop Head’s RUTHLESS Review of Jay-Z’s Blueprint III

WARNING: The following review follows from a follower.  A crazy crony of crooners, out-of-tune salooners, and real-time rappers.  And he’s a fan first(?) ok.

Now that that’s out the way . . . this record is great.  What have you ever done?  You’ve become a hip hop critic.  What is that?  1 yaself.  And just get out og (sic.) here.  You heard.  Leave.  Stop tryna fool everyONE.  Go back to where you’re from and forgettabout tryna say something about hip hop.  Ok dunn?  Hip Hop ain’t never said shit about you.

See, that’s where this gets . . . interesting?  Because with interest came money — and with money, interest.  And who loves famous people?  Mostly most of us — that’s why they’re famous.  Yes, people loved Adolf, actually.  Cuz for them, he told the truth.  Ok.

You’re still with me?  Whattya wanna die out here?  Show me.  Challah bak, nigga one buddy.

Aight.  So this is a great record.  That’s out of the way and done.  No, I ain’t heard it in the club.  I heard it out car speakers in Downtown Manhattan, the Capital of “Eh” — with all due respect to Williamsburg — if there ever was one.  The Wizard of “Eh-” lives down there somewhere probably.

[to be continued …]

Beats & Rhymes Bang-Out with El Barrio’s Own BeatBoi Blues

He magnetizes minds with his microphone magic.  His beats burrow deep in the brain and bring about head-bobs almost as soon as they begin.  Classically trained, street-smart and savvy, his stage presence and poise parlay his talent into a powerful presentation.  He has the makings of a star.  He goes by the name BeatBoi Blues, and sat down with City Circus after a recent set at the Nuyorican Poets’ Cafe.  The interview follows . . . [click to continue]

Lupe Fiasco’s LASERS

Is Lupe Fiasco gay?

I mean, is he? (editor: I think not, actually).  Is this guy some sort of softy?   (ed.: no, probably not). Why would any well-respected hip-hop musician make such an album as his newest effort, Lasers? Unless they were gay. An album with no club banger about throwing money in the club. A full LP of personal feelings and political rhetoric. Who does that!? I haven’t heard lyrics this gay since ATLiens and Aquemini came out. There wasn’t even a comical interlude. Instead of telling us how nice his flow is or giving us punny punchlines, Lupe Fiasco gives his opinions on music industry politics and uses big words correctly. It’s all very off-putting.

So what can we do? Not assume that Lupe Fiasco is gay? Ha! His only saving grace here is the music. I love the music of the album. The music is strong and feral. Ferocious beats permeate every part of the album. With screeching synthesizers over club pop beats and yell rock choruses. You know? Like something a little Ke$ha-esque. Can’t go wrong there. So if you can try to ignore Lupe’s lyrics and just get in to the beat, you’ll love the album too.

-jaybo the eniggma


Up in the Cut with Chronikill

City Circus had the opportunity to cut it up with Chronikill, a group whose origins trace back to the much-ballyhooed boom-bap bonanza of 1990s NYC.  Chronikill evolved organically from the frequent freestylings of  ROX ONE and Charlie Cypher.  The group garnered attention from industry suits but chose to forge ahead independently. Along the way, Chronikill added Keyno Speeds, or Speedy, whose aggressive hype-man habits evolved into full-time rhyming.  The group now hosts a hip hop showcase that regularly draws a crowd. Chronikill’s uproarious interview follows . . .

[click to continue]

Model Minority

Model Minority is a rap group made up of D-One, Grand Master Chu, and Inglish, three veteran Asian-American emcees who banded together to create a group to represent the lifestyles of young modern Asian-Americans. Covering topics like academic pressure from parents (Overachiever) to Asian food (Asian Food Rap) to romance (What’s Your Name), audiences are sure to find something they can relate to.

The first rap group formed specifically to tackle the issues of growing up Asian-American, each rapper brings unique experiences to the table: Grand Master Chu has a degree in Philosophy from Yale, D-One started his own clothing brand, and Inglish has a budding stand-up comedy career.

Following in the footsteps of pioneers like The Mountain Brothers, Jin Tha MC, and Far East Movement, the trio also draws from artists like Eminem, Mos Def, and Jadakiss. With their entertaining brand of hip-hop lyricism, they have drawn comparisons to the “Wong Fu Productions of rap”.

The mixtape is for free download + streaming at http://grandmaster.bandcamp.com/album/the-model-minority-report

The lead single for the project is A.F.R. (Asian Food Rap), and the youtube video is available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_qhAOvTTuM

Mohammad Dangerfield :: January 2011

The album features a number of cameos including Immortal Technique, Poison Pen, Bad Sportt, Baron (Red Clay), PhaseOne (Bugnanas), Majesty, Swave Sevah, Decora (Readnex Poetry Squad), Kendal Good (Pardon the Stranger), and I.mpaq.

Production by DJ Static (Strong Hold/Talib Kweli/Rakim), Craig Rip (X Clan/Masta Ace/Wordsworth), I.mpaq, Asa Buchanon (Bugnanus), Remot (Mick Boogie/Kidz in the Hall), Iron Braydz (Immortal Technique), Chum (Poison Pen/M.O.P.), and C4 Sinistah (Nina B.), Budda Blaou, Gunzillah, DJ Insite, Not to mention turntable wizardry by DJ DP One and DJ Disco Wiz.

“Spiderman on Vitamins,” produced by Spills, is an exploration through artist Jesse Abraham‘s lifelong infatuation with hip-hop. The song has a tongue-in-cheek braggadocio style, as Jesse makes claims on various entities, both musical and otherwise. The track knocks like a club hit — Quincy Jones Jr. described it as a “definite banger” at the 2010 SXSW Festival — but displays the lyrical dexterity of a respectable emcee.  “Spiderman on Vitamins,” accompanied by its music video shot by Noisemaker Media, will act as the lead single off of JA’s upcoming EP, “One Day,” due for a March 1st release.

Jesse Abraham

Native New Yorker and true school alumnus Jesse Abraham approaches Hip Hop with energy, enthusiasm, and a sense of humor sometimes absent in an business often besotted by bravado and a music occasionally mired in machismo. Mr. Abraham’s love for the music shines through in his presence and perform-ance, and support for fellow artists. He graciously granted City Circus the following interview.

[click to continue]

Iron Lyon: From the Mix to the Mic


Iron Lyon steps to the mic with the pedigree of a purist. The emcee’s edicts trace a deejay’s descent through booms, baps, and true-school raps to arrive at the microphone fully versed in Hip Hop’s hallowed history, from old- to true- to new-schools — down to the uneasy, postmodern present, where Hip Hop stands at a precarious crossroads.

Iron Lyon’s music reinforces the values of authenticity, honor, truth, and unity that recall Hip Hop’s coming-of-age golden era. Lyon is here for Hip Hop, all of it, shouting out each element in introducing his debut offering, Time Capsule. The weight of his words and his heavy flow show that for Iron Lyon, Hip Hop is more than a job, an opportunity, or scheme — it is a Calling. A veteran of vinyl and DJ of NYC’s competitive club circuit, Lyon knows the stakes and the breaks, in terms of both beats and opportunities.

As a longtime mix- and scratch-master, Lyon takes the title MC seriously — he speaks to grace the beat, to add on to what is already there, and to motivate the crowds and lonesome listeners by speaking his truths. He may be an emcee emerging, but a new jack he is not. Iron Lyon’s style and lyrics reveal a deep love and admiration for those who have come before him.
The interview follows . . . [click to continue]

Rick Ross, “Teflon Don”

[Reviewed by Adrian Hopkins]

Look, I like Rick Ross’ music because I used to like professional wrestling.

Was The Undertaker a real undertaker? No. He wasn’t even a real wrestler. This is because wrestling isn’t real, it’s theater. Just like rap. Debating whether Rick Ross actually sold all the drugs he says he sold is a fruitless exercise. He actually makes this easy for us because in this album (and its accompanying mixtape) he schizophrenically says he is or compares himself to many people. Including his namesake (an actual ex-drug dealer who just lost a lawsuit he had filed against our protagonist for defamation), he also recounts Big Meech, Larry Hoover, MC Hammer, Albert Anastasia, John Gotti, John Lennon, Terrell Owens, and Scarface (presumably Al Pacino’s and not that of Paul Muni or Brad Jordan) among others.

Is he actually any of these people? No!

He’s William Leonard Roberts II . . . [click to continue]


The Roots, “How I Got Over”

[Reviewed by Z]

Ever since their watershed music-video “What They Do” and before that too, The Roots have approached (what’s become of) Hip-Hop from a rare vantage: the authentic.  “I deal with the real, so if it’s artificial, Let It Be,” raps Black Thought in The Roots refrain of strained love, “You Got Me.”

The Roots crew is at it again. In a cyber-era of constant partial attention, insta-hits, and manufactured, pre-packaged McMusic, the Roots take time to develop musical ideas through time and ask for poise and patience from its audience.  “A second is a minute, every hour’s in-finnit,” raps Black Thought on “Dear God 2.0.”  The Roots ask listeners to slow down, turn off the ever-present auto-listen, and listen actually, as if it’s the 1970s and we’re back from a bike-trip to the record store with some fresh vinyl for dinner . . .

[click to continue]


Reviews at Z OmniMedia


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