Saturday, May 31, 2008

Conversations With A Blogger

I know its been a while since I brought the interview idea about, but I have just been busy with a few things. I promise to get in contact with everyone who said they were interested in taking an interview. I apreciate the support, this was my first interview I ever did and it was a blast. Travis of able to send me the answers to the questions I had for him on the first day I sent them to him. If your interested in what he had to say check this out........

The Interview

->I would just like to start off by saying your blog is my all time favourite as far as reviews, interviews and music goes. After my first visit to WYDU I was inspired to start a blog of my own. So my first question is what inspired you to build a blog your own and what is the story behind the name WYDU?

Travis: Thanks, I appreciate it. It always makes me feel good to know that I inspired other people. One of the reasons I started this blog was to help other people. I’m not saying I’m Mister Know-it-All when it comes to hip hop, because there are many others out there that know more than I do, but I felt with my many years listening to the music, I was in the position to help keep the culture alive.

The first blog I ever discovered was Noz’s “Cocaine Blunts”, before that, I had no clue what a “blog” was. That was in February or March of ’05. I was basically flabbergasted at the old tracks he had on there. There were old Jay-Z tracks from ’85, Keith Murray tracks when he was known as Keefy Keef, just off the wall shit. Soon I started discovering other sites like Low End Theory, Ear Fuzz, Can I Get My Gat, Broke B-Boys, Vinyl Addicts and others. I was learning things I never personally knew about and at that time I thought I knew all there was to know about hip hop. Boy, was I wrong. Well as that summer went on, I started hanging out on the Cocaine Blunts boards, where I was able to get a lot of the albums that I had lost over the years, either through house parties, ex-tweaker friends or car break ins. It was all the out of print stuff that I honestly thought I’d never see again. It also put me in touch with other hip-hop heads that were as insanely crazy about the music as I was. So I was really feeling a renewed faith in the music and a strong desire to learn and read all that I could. Technically I started thinking about starting my own blog that summer (2005), but I didn’t think I could really hold my own and say anything interesting that people would want to read. Then when fall rolled around, a cat I had met threw the Masta Ace boards (yeah, internet boards are GANGSTA, POTNA!) by the name of Polarity talked me into starting a blog with him. I owe Polarity for finally making me start up WYDU. Polarity is cat from Australia, who is now a big rap star in the Aussie group Low Budget. Po knows just as much as I do, if not more and if you go back and read some of his posts, he is a better writer than I could ever dream of being. So whatever happens, I’ll always consider Polarity the co-founder of WYDU, if it wasn’t for him, I probably would have started a blog about polka music or some shit.

As far as the name goes, there is kind of interesting story behind that. Polarity and I both have kind of demented sense of humours. The first month when we were working on the template and thinking of some sort of path we wanted to take, we didn’t really have a name. Polarity suggested “Walk With A Kane”, which looking back it now, probably would have been just as good, if not better, than Wake Your Daughter Up. But I wasn’t feeling it, so during one of our brain storming sessions we were having over IM, he asked me to come up with some names. Of course, this is a late Saturday night for me, and I’m already a few “pops” into it by then. Thank god Polarity was smart enough to shoot down some of my suggestions. Some of them were:

"Don't You Wish Your Boyfriend Was Swass Like me"

Walk With A Kane

Kangol Hats and Shell Toes

Godzilla Meets MP3



Fuzzy Gerbils And 8 Tracks

Golden Age to the Aluminium Age

Raiders Of the Lost Tracks

The Juice Unit Syndicate (or any play on crew names)

A Mile High Down Under

Wake Your Daughter Up

Beats, Rhymes and Death

As you can see Wake Your Daughter Up won out. It's not that we were trying to be sick demented pervs...okay, maybe we were, but we thought it was a nice play on words since No Face's album was the kind of stuff we wanted to highlight, the rarer music out there. For what it was worth, "Don't You Wish Your Boyfriend Was Swass Like Me" was actually the first pick, but DYWYBWSLM doesn’t quit roll off of your tongue and kind of shot that down. Not that "Wake Your Daughter Up" is much shorter.

->Haha, thats an intersting story. Brew Rhymes With Crew recently had its first birthday, how old is WYDU?

Travis: Happy Birthday with that, a year is saying something. You are either incredibly bored or you really like working on a blog. The fact that WYDU is going on three years this October probably speaks volumes about me and what my life has become….haha

->Three years is respectable. I understand you changed locations and moved to a new city this past year. Whereabouts do you reside now and what was your hometown you grew up in?

Travis: Yikes, I always hate this question. I think people tend to concentrate too much on where people are from instead of what they know. If that was the case, then only Americans would know anything about hip hop and anyone outside of the states would be frontin’ and we all know that isn’t the case at all. I always agree with Rakim on “It’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re at”. With that said, I’m currently residing in the city I was born in, for better or for worse. I won’t come out and say it, I’ll just say it’s the third biggest city in the Pacific Northwest (no, not Spokane) with Seattle and Portland being one and two. It’s not that I’m embarrassed of where I’m from, it’s that I’d rather have people concentrate on what I know and what I can bring to the table. I’ve already had a couple issues with my current location since I’ve moved back. In Denver, where I formally resided, I had no problem hooking up interviews if a group was in town. The two interviews I’ve tried to schedule with artists touring here, both have blown me off. I don’t know if the locale had anything to do with it, but since one artist agreed to do an interview in Denver, but blew me off here, I kind of have a feeling it is.

I do hope to get back to Denver again by the end of the year, or possibly Seattle or San Diego. I’m kind of in a position that I need to be in an area with more connections to really accomplish what I want. My hometown probably isn’t going to allow that at this time.

->Was the hip hop scene big in your neighborhood growing up or was it something that was hard to come by?

Travis: I had a next door neighbor who was a year older than me and with me being an only child, he was the closest thing I had to an older brother. He started liking Run DMC when they had “Walk This Way” as their monster hit, and so did I. Little by little, a handful of neighborhood kids started listening to hip hop. This was in the late 80’s, like 87-90. We would listen to Public Enemy, EPMD, Kid N Play, Ice T, Skinny Boyz, Super Lover Cee & Casanova Rudd and a few others. Another kid and me were the ones that would always buy the tapes and everyone else would dub them from us. Sound familiar? Some things never change…haha. I started developing the nickname of Flavor Glave (my last name), then it went to Flavor, then finally Flav. I still have certain friends that call me that if they happen to run into me. As the 90’s started and grunge music became the next big thing, they all started listening to that, while I stuck to the hip hop.

I’m sure at times, I had one of the, if not the largest hip hop collection in the city. I can’t prove that, but there wasn’t many people bumping the kinds of things I was in those days. But in the overall sense of things, my hometown has always lacked any kind of hip hop scene. It’s trying to get something going, but I don’t think the organization is there just yet.

->Besides hip hop, are there any other genres of music you enjoy listening to? If so could you name a few groups or artists?

My mom was instrumental (no pun intended) in my appreciation for many different kinds of music. She played a lot of different kinds of music when I was a kid. Also the fact that I had my "white” non hip hop listening friends and my hip hop listening friends growing up has played a large influence in listening to different genres. That all equals out that I listen to just about anything other than country music (although I have some Garth Brooks somewhere on disc). These days, my second favorite kind music is “classic” rock, stuff like Tom Petty, Steve Miller, The Beatles, The Eagles, The Doors, that kind of thing. I’ll also listen to old heavy metal that my friends older brothers would listen to when I was growing up, such as any pre-black album Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth, or Suicidal Tendencies. In the early 90’s, I didn’t listen to anything but hip hop, so I’m still listening to a lot of the music I slept on back then such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains and that kind of thing.

The past couple years, thanks to blogs (Souled On gets the most props) and just a general interest in sample sources, I’ve got into a lot of the old Soul/Funk/R&B music. I’m big on stuff like Eddie Harris, Lyn Collins, Bobby Byrd, Gene Harris, Etta James and others. I’m enjoying a lot of that kind of music these days. Music is just an overall important part of my life, but hip hop will always reign supreme.

->For me hip hop is usually something I’ll listen to when driving to work, working out, drinking with my buddies or even writing an essay for school. When you are listening to hip hop what is it that you can often be found doing?

Travis : I go through my phases where I listen to nothing but hip hop. In the past, I’ve gone through two week periods or so that’d I’d listen to other types of music, but that hasn’t happened a lot lately. I think running the blog requires me to stay up on the new stuff and couple that with the fact that I still love my classic hip hop, I listen to hip hop pretty much all the time. I usually listen to the iPod to and from work. I’m fortunate enough to be able to listen to my iPod at work. Then when I’m working on the blog, I’ll usually have something playing. I love putting on hip hop when I’m playing my PS2 (too broke to afford the new shit) like Madden or MLB 08. Depending who I’m with, I’ll put on some hip hop before heading out or doing a “pre-game” warm up before hitting a show or going down town. So yeah, it’s a pretty major part of my listening habits.

->How old were you when you fell in love with hip hop?

Travis: Well, I first started listening to hip hop in 1986, but I’m not sure I’d say I was in “love” with it. I listened to LL Cool J, Run DMC, or Beastie Boys fairly non-stop from 86 on, it wasn’t until 1988 when I saw the first episode of “Yo! MTV Raps” that I went into the frenzy state that hasn’t really subsided since then. That was really the jump off point. I bought every artist’s album that appeared on that first episode. In 1988, I would have been fourteen or fifteen. So over half of my life, I’ve been into the music.

->My first cassette tape was a copy of Vanilla Ice’s “To The Extreme”, if you can remember what was yours?

Travis: I think I’ve killed to many brain cells to really remember. I dubbed “Kings of Rock” and “Raising Hell” from my next door neighbor, so I wouldn’t count those. The first purchase was either LA Dream Team’s “Kings of the West Coast” or the vinyl of Beastie Boys “Licensed To Ill”. I still have both of those original copies which is incredible in it’s own right.

->I really like what you did with the smile rays. How did you hook up with them and what do you think the future holds for “The Smile Rays”.

Travis: I’m glad you were feeling it. There were a couple negative comments about that, but a lot more positive than negative. Overall though, that was a fun week all around, something I really enjoyed. I believe in pushing music that I love and theirs is something that I’m really feeling these days. In all honesty though, the original plan I had was eMC week, the week that “The Show” dropped. My connection though is Punchline and it never panned out.

I can’t remember exactly how I discovered their music, it was either looking through my friends on Myspace, or I was looking at The AB’s myspace (aka Asamov) which Therapy is a part of. He is also the MC for the Smile Rays. It had something to do with me killing time surfing on Myspace. I started listening to their music that day and I was like “Damn, this is some great shit”, so I just kind of followed their career from afar. When they were named part of the Rawkus 50, I was pretty stoked, because I figured that’d give me a chance to hear more from them. They dropped “Smilin’ On You” as their Rawkus album, which would be my first ever digital purchase, something I hate to do, but that’s for another time. I would end up reviewing the album on WYDU last winter and if I remember right, Daisey, who does the vocals for the Smile Rays, stumbled across it and dropped me a line thanking me. Then Therapy, who is just a crazy funny dude, dropped me a line on myspace thanking me. I asked him if they’d be down to do an interview. After we played phone tag and rescheduled a few times, Therapy and I finally sat down and did a phoner this spring. Daisey and Bat had to pull out at the last minute, so I figured I’d hit them up later. I got busy and wasn’t able to transcribe Therapy’s interview, which was crazy long as it was. By this time, they were getting ready to drop the physical release of “Smilin’ On You”, so I figured since I wasn’t able to pull off the eMC week, they were probably my favorite group at the moment, why not have them for the week. The rest, as they say, is history. All three are great people, so it’s even easier to get behind the project when you really want to see good things happen for the artists.

->In the past you’ve expressed your love for the MLB, NFL and NBA, have you ever given the NHL chance?

Travis: For whatever reason, I’ve just never gotten gung-ho about the NHL. I can’t just set on the couch and watch a NHL game for whatever reason. I love watching hockey live though. My hometown has a minor league hockey team, which is a good time to go and watch, and I hit up a few Avalanche games while I was living in Denver. I know this will sound like coming off as a bandwagoner now, but I’m a Pens fan. My favorite baseball team is the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Pittsburgh Steelers are my favorite football team, so at a young age, I figured I might as well yell for the Penguins. I guess I lived in Pittsburgh in a former life. I started rooting for them in the Mario Lemiuex days, even if he did hit on my girlfriend at a celebrity golf tournament about five years ago. It’s good to see them get a prodigy in Crosby and go back to the Finals. I’m rooting for them, although I probably won’t watch a game.

-> I’m really pumped about the new album from Freddie Joachim have you ever followed anything from him?

Travis: I guess I’ve been sleeping on him. I have his promo “Tiger”, but I can’t recall listening to it. It’s so difficult to keep up with everything these days, even I need to read-up on what others are listening to and what they think is the “new” thing. I’ll have to check him out again.

->Their seems to be a lot of artists coming out who seem to be a little more positive in their raps and music such as Braille, Surreal, Kero One, Coice 37, Kev Brown and many more. Some people say that it shouldn’t be labeled hip hop. I completely disagree but how do you feel about it?

Travis: I think you can definitely be positive and still be considered hip hop. In fact, that’s what hip hop was originally based on, positivity, a way to escape the negativity of what was happening in the Bronx in the early 70’s. The artists you mentioned there, they are different, and there needs to be some kind of evolution, in both music and lyrics. But you also can’t stray to far from the tree, before it becomes something unrecognizable from the original source. So, yeah, I’m basically flip flopping myself on “when does it become something other than hip hop”? It’s hard to say. For a long time, I was against stuff like DJ Shadow, and even stuff like Kid Koala and the Deltron 3030 stuff. But, I’m able to accept the fact now that things can’t stay the same, just don’t lose the sight of what your original influence once was.

->I’m sure there is plenty more questions I could ask you, but I know you’re a busy man with the blog and all so I have one more question. Who will be your next president? I personally don’t like any of them but I think it will be John McCain. Who do you think?

Travis: It’s funny, a couple things I try to stay away from on WYDU is politics and religion. I actually have strong feelings on both issues, but I’ve learned to keep them to myself unless someone asks for my opinion, which you have, so I’ll give touch on it…briefly…hahaha. Anything, and I mean ANYTHING is better than that bozo we have in there now. The U.S. is in such a shitty place and it’s all because of Bush and his love for oil and power. That said, I hope to god it isn’t McCain. The country needs a change and while McCain isn’t Bush, I think he’d still keep us over in Iraq longer than needs be. I think this is a prime time for the Democrats to take advantage of the situation. I’m not saying they are the solution to all our problems, far from it, but I think Obama has the qualities to be something special. I think the U.S. government in general is on the verge of being in utter disarray, but I think Obama could right the wrong. Then again, I could be moving my ass to some tropical island and sell fruity drinks with little umbrellas to tourists before it’s all said and done.

As far as who I think will win? As long as the rest of the U.S. can out weigh the bible thumpers of the Southern states, I truly think Obama can pull off the win. If not, it’s going to be a long two years. Yeah, two years, because I just don’t see McCain making it through a full term as old as he is. Then let’s pray to god it’s not some wacked out Republican such as Huckabee or Romney that is his running mate.

->I couldn't agree with you more. Both Huckabee and Romney make me sick. The only reason why I think McCain will win is because he is endorsed by the former president. One can only hope he doesnt win, but then again its out of my hands. Thanks again for taking your time to do the interview; I look forward to seeing what WYDU holds for the future.

Bonus Question!

->I understand you are a fan of drinking beer. My favourite beer out here in Canada is a brew by the name of Sleeman. Have you ever tried it, if not which is your favorite beer out there in the states?

Travis: Nothing like a cold beer on a warm day, or cold day for that matter. I haven’t tried Sleeman, don’t think I’ve even seen it out here. Like hip hop, I like different kinds of beers in different situations. When I’m drinking some brews while working outside, sitting at a baseball game, playing volleyball or the such, I’ll usually drink what a lot of you north of the borders call piss beer, usually Coors Light. It’s just easy to toss down, since it’s basically water. I do like my Micro brews though and am always down to try a new brew whenever I have the chance and the money. For the longest time, my favorite beer was Fat Tire. It’s an amber ale that is tasty out of the tap. But the quality has seemed like it’s been slipping, either that I’ve drank so much of it that I’m just getting tired of it. I’ve long been a fan of Black Butte Porter, it’s a dark beer and I’m a fan of those. Lately though, I’ve discovered a beer called Hale’s Cream Ale that I’ve been loving. Problem with that though, is I can only find it in one place locally. So it’s been kind of a treat when I have it. Another great beer is Moose Drool, which is a brown ale, which is probably my favorite kind of beer. Good stuff, think I’ll got get a six pack now.

Friday, May 16, 2008

An Idea...

Ive been thinking lately, since I cant seem to score any interviews with any hip hop artists perhaps I could interview the owners of a few blogs out there. Im not sure what kind of response I will get but if your interested please let me know!

Peace & Thanks

New York City Lookin` Pretty

East Coast Hip Hop has always been a style of Hip Hop that I have enjoyed. Originating back in the 1970's theres no doubt in my mind the impact it had on hip hop was beyond extrodinary. From famous legends such as Lakim Shabazz, Wu-Tang, Pete Rock and Cl Smooth, ATCQ, Notorious B.I.G, Kool Herc, Grand Master Flash, Run DMC, Krs One and the unforgettable Eric B and Rakim New York has always had a big influence on "real" hip hop of today.

20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Eric B. & Rakim

Track Listing
1. I Know You Got Soul
2. Eric B. Is President
3. I Ain't No Joke
4. Paid in Full (Seven Minutes of Madness) [Coldcut Remix]
5. Follow the Leader
6. Lyrics of Fury
7. Microphone Fiend
8. Let the Rhythm Hit 'Em
9. In the Ghetto
10. The Punisher
11. Know the Ledge

Everyone knows the time line for hip hop goes quite a ways back. In the 80's however in my opinion is when artists really started setting the bar. Eric B and Rakim were a duo who really shot up in the charts throughout the mid eighties. Rakim is still one of my favorite emcees because to this day I cant really see any one being able to match his flow. I purchased this album a few years back and you best believe it is still in mint condition. The 20th Century Masters series is the best-selling single-artist line in music history and they did a great job releasing the best hits from Eric B and Rakim on the "Millennium Edition".

Lakim Shabazz - Pure Righteousness

This was an era when East Coast was the best of the best, hands down. Sure the West Coast blew up eventually but for me New York was where hip hop was at. Be sure to peep the running man in this live performance from Lakim Shabazz for Pure Righteousness.
Pure dopeness!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Stans, Hackers and Hip Hop!

Sometimes my mind gets caught up on to many things and I forget about the things that are most important to me. This blog is one of those things that I feel I neglect or sometimes do not take as serious as I should. Don't get me wrong, there are times where I just feel like shutting it down. I say this because the past couple of weeks have been tough over here (Site being hacked by a fellow blogger who I wont name, the hardest post with the most effort I ever put forth being deleted by that hacker,"stans" using my name on different blogs creating problems and visitors stopping by the site telling me my time is due and its time to move on like they were my dad and shit) so its kind of a no brainer why I would feel this way. But I have decided its time to get back to the visitors and let them know whats up with hip hop and "Brew Rhymes With Crew" as of late.

According to his blogspot Freddie Joachim has successfully released his first album "In With Time" under the Subcontact label!!!

Freddie Joachim's first album, "In With Time," will be dropping in Japan in Spring 2008 under the Subcontact label. With Freddie handling all the production, the album will feature artists: Choice37 (Untapped Sounds), Lauren Santiago, Jacewon, Aloe Blacc (Emanon/Stones Throw), Surreal (The Sound Providers), Son of Ran, Cypher Optics, Othello (Lightheaded), Blu (Johnson & Jonson/Sound in Color), Muneshine (Wax Reform), Profile (The Upstarts/Sound Providers), Latanya Lockett, and Therapy (The AB's/The Smile Rays). More info will be available regarding Europe, Australia, and U.S. release dates. Please check for updated information.

"The Crystals"

"That's What's Up"

1. Blue Sky Black Death & Hell Razah - Audiobiography

This album somehow slipped by me in 2007. Razahs Ladder is filled with bangers and features a ton of underground emcees. Audiobiography includes Shabazz The Deciple who along with Hell Razah are present members of the Wu-Tang affiliated group Sunz of Man. Blue Sky Black Death produced the entire album so be sure to peep this one.

2. Bonobe -If You Stayed Over (Ghost Remix)

I searched high and low on the net trying to find any little piece of information I could on Bonobe but came up empty handed. Ghost a well known DJ and producer from the U.K did the remix for this track and its brilliant. This track in my opinion almost has a Radio Head vibe to it, which is fine with me because I adore Radio Head. The album from Ghost entitled "My Soul Looks Like This" came out this past April and ever since its been on heavy rotation on my I-pod. Check the track and go from there.

3. The Waitress - Atmosphere

Long and anticipated. Thats what I have to say about the months I waited before someone leaked the new Atmosphere album . I have been a fan of Atmosphere for quite sometime, going back to when I really started understanding real lyricism. The Waitress is one of the tracks that really grabbed my attention on the new album "When Life Gives You Lemons..." because Slug has always been a great story teller. Some people call it "emo" but I call it spitting the blues. Don't let the critics get to you, this album is worth every penny.

4. Blue Sky Black Death - Listen Child

Young God and Kingston released their first full length instrumental album this past April and ever since it has seen nothing but fantastic reviews. This was my favorite beat from "Late Night Cinema". This particular instrumental starts off deep and questionable but soon comes into play and grabs you by the ear drums. With a few samples that sound eerily familiar this surely is a masterpiece of a beat.

5. Ayatollah - Louder

The month of April definitely saw some wicked albums from some great producers. Ayatollah was one of them. Ayatollah brings creative beats at a time where most producers in the game are making money off copying each other. Its nice to hear beats that remind me of classic New York times when hip hop was still hip hop. Louder is one of the beats that took me back to that era.

6. Buckshot & 9th Wonder - No Future

The formula is another album from Buck and 9th which was also released last April. This release left me feeling good but not great. After a few songs into the album it seemed to become a little repetitive and somewhat predictable. The production saw a high influence of soul which means 9th must've really flipped a lot of samples, so he gets my props for this. As for Buckshot his flow is still exceptional and his lyrics still bring a strong message . Make sure you check out "No Future" from Buck and 9th's new album "The Formula".

7. Blu Ft Donel Smokes Coss & Jontel - Maintain

There is no doubt in my mind that Blu is going to make it big time within the next couple of years. As a young emcee he shows maturity when it comes to other emcees his age trying to make it in the hip hop game. Exile keeps the beats appropriate with a sound that you don't hear to much now a days in hip hop. With tracks like "Maintain" there is a pretty good chance you will be hooked on Blu and Exile so make sure you hear this one.

8. The Upstarts Ft Grap Luva - Real definition

I was pretty hyped about "The Upstarts" on my last post and I still am. I'm not sure how many people gave this album a chance but if you haven't I highly recommend it. With featured artists such as Grap Luva and Kev Brown plus production by Freddie Joachim "The Know How" from The Upstarts does not disappoint.

9. Muneshine -Please Believe

Muneshine's latest album "Status Symbol" is definitely one that will make my top albums of 08' list. His production skills shine on almost every track and his flow is immaculate. This particular track was one that almost broke my neck. The beat for "Please Believe" matched Mune's emotional lyrics to a T. This album is a must have so make sure you check Muneshines new album "Status Symbol".

10. Mumbles - Here You Are

The first instrument I ever played was an acoustic guitar. I still own a samick and pick it up every now and then. Tracy McMillan a down-tempo singer pours out her soul on "Here You Are," and Mumbles matches it perfect with a simple acoustic-guitar sample similar to RJD2's "Ghostwriter." It's been a favourite of mine these past couple of weeks and I have a feeling most of you will enjoy it to.

So thats it for now. I will keep updating unless of course the site gets hacked again which I hope it doesn't, but unfortunately it is out of my control. Until next time, take it easy bloggers.