Recycled Rock N Roll

Recycled Rock N Roll

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Part V - Music

Here it is, another 1,000+ words of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. Just the same, I still should write an intro.

Often times when I interview artists they may say things that shouldn't be repeated. They don't always tell me to not repeat what I've just heard, but like any normal person I know when to keep my mouth shut and my typing at bay.

That's why, even though I have the .wav file of this interview, I'm not just publishing it. During the interview Layzie Bone and everyone else started to talk about a lot of what went down during the west coast vs. east coast hip-hop violence of the early 90's.

I figure they may not want anyone hearing about all that, so I left it out of the write-up and keep the .wav file someplace secure, just in case anyone thinks I'm fibbing.
Layzie Bone: Just like we were with Marvin Gaye and Michael Jackson and all that music our parents were into. We were bumping that. Now parents are playing our music for their kids. Its generational music.

All of the great artists have stayed relevant. Look at Miles Davis. People still listen to him. We were talking about how the real music lasts. Bands that are one hit wonders like some rap bands or metal bands are one hit wonders for a reason. 

Ta Smallz: Well, Bone Thugs has one of the biggest selling catalogues. Even without making a new record, they’ve stayed big. Somebody’s buying it.

I noticed that after 9/11 the political climate really affected the release of Thug World Order. It was a very different political climate than now. Do you think the current political climate is going to affect the release of your latest album? 

Layzie Bone: I think our album is very political according to what’s going on. It is very relevant. It is the news. The album that we recorded is today. You can turn on CNN and hear about it. It’s perfect for the political landscape right now.

But there’s less censorship. That was a big part of 9/11, but now we have a different political climate. 

Layzie Bone: We had the same message back then that we do today. But that kind of thing happens. Uni5 is just an enhanced message of Thug World Order. It’s more detailed, it’s more graphic but it’s exactly what’s going on.

You’ve got hungry little kids, you’ve got wars, you’ve got an economy in crisis, you’ve got a struggle and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony is brothers for the struggle. That’s who we are, talking about what’s really going on in life.

You’ve been around for a long time, and I remember in the early 90’s there was a lot of east coast vs. west coast going around in the rap scene. What’s cool is that when you talk about unity, and where Cleveland is, that’s where east and west comes together. My question is, do you think that’s changed? The east coast versus west coast mentality?

Ta Smallz: Last night Jay-Z did “New York” at the L.A. Nokia. That was beautiful. But back in the day there would have been someone outside telling Jay-Z, “You ain’t gonna sing ‘New York’ in L.A.” We’re not about that now.

Everyone knows that we have to come together and get out of the crisis that we are in. We need L.A., we need New York, we need Cleveland, we need Huston, we need everyone and find out ways to get up because we are about to sink. What with the economy and what we are all going through.

All that east coast, west  coast…it’s totally gone. It’s about making good music. You see that everyone is doing collaborations with everyone else right now. It’s not like, “I’m not going to get on his record, he’s from the west.” No. We need to do more of it. Please. It’s a way of showing gratitude and making a song together and just kicking it.

Layzie Bone: To be perfectly honest it wasn’t fun going to award shows and shit back then.

(Everyone laughs.)

Layzie Bone: You never knew what the fuck was going to go down back then. Back then when Tupac and Biggie and those niggaz was livin’, and they was playing…

You worked with both of them, too.

Layzie Bone: Yes, we managed to stay true through that whole ordeal. But it was not fun going to the awards shows during that east coast/west coast thing, and the media had a lot to do with that shit.


Layzie Bone: You know what I’m saying? They fueled that shit up when they could have put a different spin on it and brought unity and harmony back then. That was a whole other day and age. That was the real shit. Right now it’s quite cool. Young niggaz wearing tight jeans and partying and dancing with the tight shit on, my nigga’s glasses (referring to the eyeglasses worn by Ta Smallz) he’s wearing them and they're back…

Ta Smallz: I call them my thinkers, because we need to think and get our mind back. When you look a certain way, you feel a certain way, and then you act a certain way. I got a mind, I got a brain, and what I can do is not only help myself but help others by my actions. I have an idea that admiration beats intimidation. If you tell people that you admire how you do things, they will listen to you instead of trying to bully you.

That’s a very good point. I think that you are absolutely right about the media promoting the east coast versus west coast rivalry. The media responds to violence. That’s what sells. But now I’m glad that your music reaches both the east coast and the west coast. 

Thin C: I feel no dissension between the coastal regions due to music or hip hop or any of it right now. The thing is, what’s hot is hot. People are going to listen to the music they enjoy, regardless of where they come from. I don’t see any problems right now. What I’ve seen in the past few years is that the music has gone into a mature place where hip hop acts as a society. Oh, you still have your underworld, you know what I mean…

Ta Smallz: People are starting to feel a lot more comfortable in their own skin. One thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of hip hop artists are singing more. We were the first to say, “We’re thugs but we can sing and we can harmonize. We’re cool.” Some guys are like, “I can’t sing, I’m too hard to sing.” I think you have to be comfortable with who you are.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Remix Artist Collective - Music

André Allen Anjos is the mastermind behind Remix Artist Collective (RAC), a cadre of artists (including Andrew Maury out of New York and Karl Kling of Portland) who compose brilliant, dance worthy remixes from bands across the musical spectrum, including Tokyo Police Club, Bloc Party, Kings of Leon, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and more.

Anjos didn’t plan to create songs to end up everywhere cool, from nightclubs in Germany to the silver screen to HBO’s Entourage. “I never thought I would be doing it,” he says. “I kind of fell into making music and really like it. I think I just got very lucky.”

Music had always been a hobby to Anjos, but with college coming to an end he knew he had to find a real job, soon. “I was just two years away from graduation; I didn’t know what I was going to do.”

With the recession still raging, nobody was hiring, and the student loans weren’t going to pay for themselves. “The terror of the real world started to seep in, and I had no other options. I got into a stable financial situation by the time I was graduating, so the timing was perfect.”

The jolt of adrenaline proved to be a bolt of inspiration, and years later the young composer credits technology and the Internet for making it possible, mostly from contacts he made through email and social networking.

“Technology completely enabled me to do what I did . . . to make this whole thing happen. It just fell into place. I could just work and go to school in a small town, instead of a big city like L.A.”

Producing a successful track out of someone else’s song takes talent and technology. What’s essential for imagineering a successful club hit?

“For a proper remix, the most important thing is to not change the basic song structure. It’s vital to stick with it. After that, you can do what you want. Mess around with different sounds, chords, drumbeats, and go from there. It’s really a case-by-case thing.”

Having created more platinum-worthy tracks than he can shake two laptops at, what’s next?
“We’re getting into productions, film, TV . . . that’s really exciting because it keeps things fresh.” No matter how glamorous the music business can be, it can really drain you, but new projects energize the muse. “That’s the hard part . . . keeping ourselves entertained. If you are not having fun, it can be pretty draining,” Anjos says.

Lately the group has found inspiration in composing songs for critically acclaimed cable television dramas and motion pictures, including Holy Rollers with Jesse Eisenburg.

“I did some television stuff for Entourage, and another show called How to Make it in America. I think that’s going to be the trend for us, for a while.”

Those big bites of success has given the group a taste for film, so maybe fans will get a complete soundtrack sometime in 2012. Anjos is looking forward to it. “I’d be personally more interested in doing a full score for our next project.”

Remix Artists Collective at UCR’s The Barn, 900 University Ave., Riverside, (951) 827-2276;; Wed, Feb. 1. 8:30PM. $5 students, $12 non-student.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Part IV - Music

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the biggest freakin' interview I've ever done. Here it is 1,400 more words, and I still have four pages to go. Wow.

We had a great time during the interview, but by the end I could tell they had to get out of there. We were all checking our smart phones and doing quick text messages to the people we had to see later.

I've learned to ask a lot less questions, and to keep it down to just the pure, necessary details a reader would want: the latest album, the tour, and what the artists are planning for the future. After that I ask other questions to mix it up.

Still, things got very conversational, so you are getting an interview that's as close to the straight truth as you can get.
When you look at your careers, and all the things you’ve all done on your own, this is obviously a bunch of guys who have strong personalities and strong intelligences, and each person wants to do something differently, like fingers on a hand pointing in a different direction. But with Uni5 you’ve all come together, like a fist, and that’s a pretty significant event, for your fans. 

Layzie Bone: That’s what I've been saying about Bone Thugs for the last ten years. You take the pain, and then you come together and that’s a mighty blow. That’s so odd that you mention that, because it’s always been one of my analogies.

I’m sitting here thinking that today is November 23rd, 2009, and November 23rd, 1993 was the day that all of us came over on a bus to California with one-way bus tickets to make it. That was sixteen years ago.

That took an incredible amount of faith. Did you really think it was going to work out, when you got on that bus?

Layzie Bone: I woke up this morning and cherished the day because I always remember calling that day out. I told everyone, “Fuck this, homie, we have to go.” I borrowed some money and flipped a few things and saved up, and told everyone that we had to go. We stuck to it. And to sit here now, sixteen years later to this day, I really woke up with a whole ‘nother mind set today. There’s going to be sixteen more.

When I read about that it was very inspirational. You guys just went for it, and now you're here. That kind of story gives people hope. There is probably an artist in the middle of the country thinking, “How am I going to get out of here. How am I going to do this?”

Ta Smallz: My own mother came out here to do what Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and many people from the Midwest want to do and she got murdered trying to do that. So it’s ironic that I was out there, and now I’ve come out here to after meeting these gentlemen and then I get to fulfill my dream but also to fulfill the dream my mother had, so I think this was meant to be.

Well, you made it, you’re alive, right?

Ta Smallz: That’s what my album is about. Who Killed My Momma? is about how no matter how bad it gets you don’t have to go out and kill anyone, you can believe and make it.

Layzie Bone: But if they fuck with your money, bust their motherfuckin’ heads!

(Everyone laughs.)

Layzie Bone: Naw, I’m just playin’, I’m just having fun…

Now with this album, are you going in a new direction, are you sticking with your roots, because every album is a new creation, and some artists want to get experimental, but they also want to let the audience know that they are still real. What do you think the album is going to say?

Layzie Bone: I think people are going to say that Bone Thugs-n-Harmony stuck with their roots on 50% of the album, but they are also going to say that Bone Thugs expanded from where they were in the 90’s. We’ve grown but kept it in the family.

Thin C produced six of the tracks but you got DSP, ALT Hutton, Kind David, Post, so with that being said we kept it in house so we could grow. We dipped into a new thing we call the Uni-verse where all five of us could become one and share. We’re all doing our own thing but this is classic Bone Thugs but it’s also that new millennium shit, too.

A lot of reason why Bone Thugs became a very unique rap group is because you were very original. Thin C and Ta Smallz and I were talking about that earlier. How original bands influence later bands, whether it's blues, rock and roll or hip-hop. 

When people describe why they like Bone Thugs it’s because all of your voices would come together in harmony, in unity, and that’s a big reason why your band still has an original sound. Not a lot of groups did that, at the time.

Ta Smallz: Well, there’s a big difference between finding and discovering. Discovering is just, well, I discovered that box over there. But when Bone Thugs came in they invented a whole new style. So people just discovered that they can do the style that Bone Thugs invented. You see what I’m saying? But they are the inventors, they did something no one else did.

Layzie Bone: And to add to that our music is like right now. Everything on the radio…we’ve already done it. With our music is our collective experience, everything each of us have done in a collective effort. And when you listen to the radio all of that is just Bone Thugs. It’s everything we did in ’97 and ’98.

All of the music right now is just us back then. So now we’re taking that formula and mashing it all up so you might have Nelly doing it like Bone Thugs but there’s also that dude from Miami…nigga’s tight…Flo Rida…it might remind you of Bone Thugs but it’s different forms and fashions of what Bone Thugs does.

The five of us are bringing our characteristics together over the years but we’re also just giving you a layout of what’s on the radio, what they’re used to now.

You guys changed music forever. There’s no doubt about that. And there are a lot of bands that have sounded like you over the years. Are you proud of that, or do you feel like they ripped you off? 

Layzie Bone: No, it’s an honor to get ripped off. Because it means that what we gave to music can never be erased. It’s a place in time in history. And by history I mean that you can always refer to the records and see who did what first.

So by us being leaders in that category in can never be anything but a compliment because during Bone’s quiet time we had cats on the radio doing Bone’s style, which kept us relevant. So they allowed us to take time, restructure our music and come back to dominate our category.

When people listen to music they always go back to find the influences, whether its rock, blues, jazz or metal. So when people listen to what’s out there they are going to go back and find the influence. And they’ll say, “Oh, that’s just like Bone Thugs.” So they’ll buy a couple of albums and listen to you, and then go out and buy your new album.

Ta Smallz: I think the new album is that they switching up on the 16’s and doing stuff like that, but there’s a lot of determination. I did a song called “Let Yourself Go.” We put it on the album, on the single, and played it in the streets but it’s a whole new direction.

With the melodies we’ve put together it shows the smooth side of Bone, and the fans are going to love the record. 50% of it is old Bone but when you are an innovator you have to go out there and do new styles and I think they did that with the music, the melody and the beats.

When you are an innovator you have to keep innovating. But how do you think the world is going to react to the new album? It’s kind of scary, because in just one more month it’s out.

Thin C: I think that Bones fans are gonna love it, and I think that new fans are going to receive it for the simple fact that life right now is no amusement park, and the fact that Bone music has always been based on reality and what’s going on. I think that Uni5: The World’s Enemy is going to create a big draw.

Ta Smallz: You have to remember they’ve been playing for nearly seventeen years. Half of the fans in the crowd weren’t even born when they came out. They weren’t even around when “Crossroads” came out but they can sing it word for word. They’re reaching out to a young audience because the message is so powerful.

Layzie Bone: Just like we were with Marvin Gaye and Michael Jackson and all that our parents were into that music and we were jumping that. Now parents are playing our music for their kids and it shows its generational music.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Part III - Music

When I interviewed the band (well, some of the band, plus Thin C and Ta Smallz) I had just got my snazzy new iPhone 3 and had no idea how it worked, so I didn't trust the thing. Years later I still don't trust any of my iPhones (I'm on my second, right now, the iPhone 4 or whatever) but it certainly doesn't seem to trust me, either, so we're even.

Just in case the new fangled contraption didn't work, I brought my old skool, handheld, miniature Radio Shack tape recorder. Pure analog. I've had it since high school. Layzie Bone even commented on how I had brought two recording devices, and when I told him the story about how I wasn't certain about the new device he picked up the Radio Shack tape recorder and said, "Trusty rusty."

I typed this whole damn thing out playing the tape recorder, pausing and rewinding when my typing had fallen behind. It took a long time.

Now I'm smart enough to just listen to the key points that were covered during the course of the interview, and then just type that out, but at least you guys get to read all of this, right?

Part IV will be out, soon.
Let's talk about Uni5: The World's Enemy. Compared to all of your previous works, what are you going to accomplish with this new album?

Layzie Bone: We’re gonna take over the world (laughs). I mean, we’ve just come with a message in these turbulent times that even with all that’s going on in the world family really does exist…even though there’s tough times you can still have unity.

Uni5 also means that no matter what you do, the world will unify against you. You’re driving a nice car and someone is hating on you, feeling like you are some sort of Uncle Tom, but he’s also the world’s enemy. Or the president could feel like the world’s enemy because he can pull all these strings but even though he’s trying to figure out this bank situation, he’s the world’s enemy because they are unified against him.

But it’s also from a more spiritual aspect. It’s a good versus evil thing. I really feel like we’re bringing truth to the table…but Satan always wants to bend the truth and we feel like he’s providing a mirage of what’s going on while we’re street reporting. We’ve got folks hating on Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. We’ve got people saying that we couldn’t do it, but we’re unified.

There’s alcoholics and weed heads who told lies to try to defame our character, but the bottom line, the ultimate message of Uni5: The World’s Enemy is that it’s the truth against the world. We already understand that they’re going to try to break us up before we get started so we expect that, so we’re the world’s enemy, period.

We’re on some superhero shit. Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, that’s our name, but Uni5 is on some serious Superman shit. Superman meets Hulk Hogan slash Spider-Man, whatever, but the point is to unify and make the world, to change the world, to a degree where it’s a better world for our children. And if we can’t than we are ready to go to war, so deal with it.

I like how you’re saying that you can unify the world, but how it can also feel like the world is unified against you. 

Layzie Bone: Right. They don’t want to see the world come together and hold hands, so the world is like, “Screw you, I don’t like that person over there and I don’t like that person’s face…” so we’re hating on them but they are also hating on us because they don’t want to show the love.

Basically, you need destruction so you can have rebirth. It’s a topsy-turvy thing where you can’t have light without dark. If it was always light outside you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. So we’re trying to bridge that gap of understanding and when I say Bone is unified, we have an understanding of how we have to work together.

We may not see each other all the time…I got Bone Thugs Records, Krayzie got Thug Minds, Flesh is writing movies, Bizzy Bone is pursuing a whole lot of things, you know what I mean? So it’s a unification of grown men understanding each other.

Well, you’ve had a lot of decades in music, and that means you’ve come up with a lot of wisdom. So it makes sense that what you rap about now is different than what you rapped about in your 20’s.

Layzie Bone: Yeah, that shit is hot so don’t touch it.

But getting the whole group back together on such an emotional level must have taken a lot of work.

Thin C: I think with the next album an idea as powerful as the unification of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony is going to take work, like it took work to unify. Because the blessings you reap from something so massive working correctly are only going to come that way. It takes work to play the role that the artist has to play.

Ta Smallz: Bones' have been in the record business for a long time, and this album is about coming together and putting the ego’s out of the way because life is a song, and love is the melody. I think they’re setting an example because it’s different when it’s one man, but this is five different minds coming together. That’s showing a type of love that has to be respected, because it’s not easy.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The GOP Horror Election Show - Comedy

Every country has its seasons, and for Americans every election is a Season of Fear. It might be showing up to the polls to vote only to be disenfranchised by cold, calculating, partisan machinations,  or screaming in terror as you watch the economy slashed bloody by corporatist interests, every election season seems less like an expression of democracy and more like a prelude to a night spent naked in a gore-streaked charnel house, stalked by violent, gibbering, radioactive cannibals.

If Obama loses to Electoral College manipulation and voter disenfranchisement this year, which republican monster will end up with their appendage on the button, willing to nuke the American economy until it glows in the dark?

Our first malevolent monster is Rick Perry…

"Mr. President, you need to free up the employers of this country to create jobs...I'm a pro-business governor, I don't make any apologies about it and I will be a pro-business president…for EVIL!!!”

People talk about the “Texas Miracle,” but the only miracle there is that Rick Perry has brought economic ruin and bloodshed to Texas on a level comparable to an Old Testament God.

When told that 234 people had died on death row while under his reign in Texas, Perry’s voice thundered his approval with such passion and devotion audience members clapped…almost as if they didn’t have a choice.

Texas has an unemployment rate of 8.2% under Perry, although they did get a lot of federal, state and local job growth. Well, Lord knows how Texans enjoy some good ol’ fashioned socialism.

Manufacturing job growth under Perry? Down  11.6%. Construction jobs? Down 10.9%. Information jobs? Down 14.5%. That means that if you went to Texas a few years ago to make something, build something or think of something, chances are right now you are financially screwed.

His erratic behavior indicates that cowboy has been on the prarie far too long, and has plumb lost his mind. The natives call it “horse fever,” but I think it’s the first time in twenty years Perry has been around that many people who make less than seven figures a year.

Finally…a spoiled, dumb, rich Texan with big oil connections running the country and protecting us against terrorists? Yeah, right, that worked out last time. Run for your lives! It’s a sequel! It’s a sequel!

So he’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.

Our next creature feature is Rick Santorum. Oh Lord…another right-wing conservative, fundamentalist, religious extremist taking an axe to the civil rights of anything that isn’t a) wealthy, b) white, c) male.

"I voted no on repealing tax subsidies to for companies that move US jobs offshore…for EVIL!"

As hundreds were dead, dying or diseased after Hurricaine Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005, the zany Santorum rambled incoherently, in spite of the death and destruction, about “...people who don't heed those warnings...” and, “...tougher penalties on those who decide...” and, in a line straight out of Nehemeniah, “...understand that there are consequences to not leaving.”

Anyone who’d say anything that didn’t sound depressed or empathetic after such a horrible disaster that took the lives of so many Americans has obviously lost his damn mind, or is serving his own selfish, monetary interests…and doesn’t care if innocent people get in his way.

Sounds like Mitchum’s Preacher from Night of the Hunter to me!

Like most independent registered voters I like Ron Paul. I like the idea of Ron Paul. I agree with him on a lot of the issues. But let’s face it, as much as conservatives complain about a nanny government, someone has to tell corporations not to spray babies with radioactive mercury.

“It’s amazing that people don’t understand that the more the market is involved and the smaller the government, the lower the price, the better the distribution, and the higher the quality...for EVIL!” 

Without a strong federal government to keep the courntry running smoothly despite opposing interests, America would plunge into chaos and life would be a lot like The Road Warrior.

Except it wouldn’t be fuckin’ cool because a, Mel Gibson is racist and thinks the Jews started WWII (because it sure worked out so well for them all) and b, we hit peak oil ten years ago so by the time the country spiraled into mayhem, there’d be no oil, and therefore no gasoline.

Give me the little dog, give me the kid with the razor sharp boomerang, hand me a sawed off double barreled shotgun, but if I can’t have a raging 225 mph death race with souped-up American muscle cars to go with my atomic apocalypse, I’m just not interested.

Ron Paul wants to deregulate and cut and slash and burn down the government until there’s nothing left but you, me, a can of catfood (we ate the cats), nuclear waste-eating mutants and murder.

He scares me because I know right now, 25 miles from my home, demented monsters do want to set me on fire, and all that’s stopping them is 911. So I’ll have to put the brakes on libertarianism until the unemployment rate in America is somewhere near 5%.

The free market is great…if you are a corporation. But while big companies will work against each other to make a profit, they will team-up to screw over workers…and they’d really like you to not have the government to protect you.

Since it would only be a matter of time before violent, radioactive cannibals kicked in your door and ate and raped you, Ron Paul is The Hills Have Eyes.

When Romney smiles and speaks to the humans around him, his eyes get wider, his smile gets bigger, and he starts to move erratically, as if he doesn’t know how to really be a person.

"Corporations are people too, my friend." 
(This quote is pure evil.)

Romney is really just a vast array of corporate interests, disguised as a person. If you chopped off his arm, it would crawl away and become a Wal-Mart.

The fact that Romney is for and against abortion, for and against socialized medicine, for and against slicing people’s thumbs open and saving their blood to put in a petri dish to expose to heated metal in order to see if it’s a murdering extraterrestrial life form, and for and against any issue that might require him to take a stand on an issue is enough to make me cringe when I think about him running the country.

I’ll be honest. I’m not trying to make this a character assassination. I’m tryting to stick to the issues, but deep down inside, as an educated, independent voter, I am deeply concerned that should Romney win the election, he’ll suddenly smile too wide, let out a long, metallic drone, and pass out.

Medics will crowd around him to resuscitate. The cameras will record all the action. Secret Service members will freeze, terrified, uncertain, and then…

So, Anderson Cooper, do you think this is going to 
hurt his chances in the next caucus?

Even Kratuz Fitzhammer has to admit that if everyone saw that on live television, the Dow Jones Industrial Average would drop by 500 points, at least.

So you know who Mitt Romney is...

Herman Cain says he’s the CEO of Godfather’s pizza. You know what? The Godfather is one of my favorite films. Francis Ford Copolla, a courageous artist who created a masterpiece. Al Pacino, before he became Scarface for the rest of his acting career.

"Don't blame Wall Street, don't blame the big banks. If you don't have a job and 
you are not rich, blame yourself…for EVIL!"

There wasn’t a single damn pizza in the entire series, my friend. I even watched the director’s commentary on DVD, and they didn’t even so much as order a pizza. The Godfather has no pizza!

That makes Herman Cain a liar. Plus, I bet Godfather’s pizza doesn’t give it’s employees medical insurance. Finally, he even admitted he’s related to the Koch brothers.

Call me weird but Cain doesn’t look like he’s related to two caucasian billionaires, so there’s only one reason: he was put together in a factory out of spare corpses and any lame term a board of executives thinks conservatives would enjoy.

Then, they programmed their creation to be as pro-business as possible. Finally, they raised their dream candidate from the graveyard of dead financial theories using General Electric and voodoo economics. So Cain is...

One day, a woman named Michele Bachmann, who believed that women everywhere should have the same rights as men, despite race, color, creed, sexual orientation, religion or sound fiscal stability, went to sleep next to a mysterious plant from another galaxy.

When she woke up, she became:

What I mean is, she’s one of the pod people from Invasion of the Body Snatchers. When she talks, it’s like a series of G8 talking points spliced together with sound bites from the Fox News Channel.

She’s also one of those creepy religious types that always insist that they are religious. I mean, I’m religious, but I don’t go around chanting to strangers about it. What if I told you I wasn’t a cannibal? Ok, you’d buy it, right?

But what if I insisted, over and over again, that I wasn’t a cannibal. I mean, I went on about it, to the magazines, to the newspapers, on television, the Internet, cable, etc. After a while, you’d wonder if I was a cannibal, especially if my eyes stayed wide open all the time and I never blinked.

What I mean is, while I do believe Michelle Bachmann is a cannibal, I don’t believe she’s a Christian. She’s just a mouthpiece for the Tea Party, which is a mouthpiece for the Koch brothers, who are a mouthpiece for the corporate dominated Republican party, who are a mouthpiece for Satan.

"It's no big deal, I'm just hanging out here, all alone, keeping quiet. For evil."

He’s a Republican that votes for the same issue Republicans always vote for that just destroy the American economy.

But mostly, Jon Huntsman is just quiet. As Cain, Romney and Perry repeatedly jump on every grenade they can, he silently stays in the darkness, almost resting for the proper moment to strike.

Like the rest of the Republican party, despite the fact he technically works for Obama as an Ambassador to China, he’s still firmly committed to making sure that his boss is a one-term president.

So that means Huntsman is a public servant working for tax payer money, but isn’t actually doing anything except drinking deep from the coffers and growing stronger as his opposition is drained dry.

So he's Dracula.

When somebody told me Ginrich was trying to run for president, I banged my head against the wall to make sure it wasn’t the 90’s. What is with this deranged monster?

"You are not going to get job creation when you engage in class warfare because 
you have to attack the very people you hope will create jobs. By the way, I'M EVIL."

Nothing stops him. He repeats so much deceptive corporatist dogma that Goebbels wants to sue him for copyright infringement, and still he keeps coming.

Like him and the rest of the party he represents, it’s just the same old slasher flick. He wins a political office, kills everything in the budget that doesn’t benefit the millionaire lobbyists who put him there, and then in the third act he’s taken out by some scandal or election only to show up for another sequel.

Ginrich, retire. Go away. It’s over.

Every years hundreds of thousands of uninformed, undereducated, cheated drones watch the Fox News Channel, listen to Rush Limbaugh, think that the same CEO’s that poison children and torture third world workers that attempt to unionize actually gives a damn about justice, liberty, and anything that doesn’t make a profit, no matter what, so they go out and mindlessly vote for the candidate they are ordered to vote for, and the rest of us suffer for it.

 "People ask me, 'What are you going to do to develop jobs in your state?' 
Well, that's not my job as a U.S. senator…for EVIL!"
-U.S. Senator Sharron Angle, Tea Party favorite and experienced necromancer.

Steve Colbert once said, “Reality has a liberal bias.” I don’t have anything against Republicans, I just don’t like the uninformed ones. If you are a Democrat who votes for Nancy Pelosi because she is a Democrat, you are dumb.

But the Tea Party has proven over and over again that they don’t know that their entire movement is motivated by the Koch brothers. Like evil necromancers from a cheesy sword & sorcery flick, they manipulated millions of dollars to manipulate millions of soulless, racist, greedy, uneducated, selfish bigots…and the nightmarish horde ate everyone with a brain in the Republican Party.

There’s a few Republican politicians that are still holed up in an attic or a mall, armed to the teeth but deathly afraid that the Tea Party zombie horde doesn’t realize they believe in a) equal rights, b) maybe corporations shouldn’t control the government, and c) perhaps President Obama was, indeed, born in America. So they stay quiet, afraid of being labeled a moderate and ending up horrifically devoured by evil horde.

Plus, not to sound weird about this, but every Tea Party convention I’ve ever seen is so white it may as well be full of marshmallows. I have nothing against caucasians…check out my profile picture.

What's with those kooky glasses?
And what's wrong with his hair!!?

I’m an odd pale blue color, so I will always appreciate the kindness white people have shown me, but the Tea Party has pretty much proven, over and over again, that unless you are a really xenophobic, rich white man who belongs to one particular religion on a planet full of thousands of alternative religions and philosophies, the politics of the Tea Party probably aren’t for you.

Plus, if one bites you really hard, you get sick, die, wake up, and all you want to do is attack people who don’t support the Tea Party because they have braaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaains!!!

If Lady Liberty is a woman, Citizens United is a very hard punch in her right boob. Ever since this controversial Supreme Court decision, the untold billions of dollars have flooded the coffers of politicians everywhere…so politicians must be smarter than we think.


How much can you donate to a politicians to compel him to serve your interest? $100? $250? Well too bad, cheapskate, because JPMorgan Chase & Co. donated $808,799 to Obama in 2008. CitiGroup, Inc. donated $736,771.

$298 million dollars went to campagin contributions in 2010, half of it undisclosed, which means that the money could come from, a) terrorists, b) foreign countries who never were and never will be democratic, and c) the Joker.

...or maybe we're looking at a possible 3rd party candidate for 2012?

But the joke is, banks, corporations and rich people will always have more money than anyone else, especially if they team up and choose candidates that will represent their interests.

Sure, a politician could try to play honest and ignore donations from corporations that would gladly trade a healthy American economy for enough money to retire to Europe, but running commericals on Channel 1081 at 3:00 am (Pacific) is no way to get elected in the modern era.

With polticians so blatantly bought and sold by private interests the joke isn’t even funny anymore, it’s time to go all the way.

What disapoints me is the missed chance to explore a whole new iconography. The U.S.S. John F. Kennedy could be repainted a brilliant metallic crimson, with “Coca-Cola” emblazoned on the side. Abrams tanks could have advertisements for Exxon. Police department body armor could have Chase and Bank of America logos.

Maybe it’s happened already, and we just need a special pair of eyeglasses to see it, just like in the movie They Live.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Part II - Music

This is the second part of an exclusive interview with Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. The third part will be up tomorrow.
There are a lot of spiritual overtones in your music. Where does this come from?

Layzie Bone: It comes from being raised spiritually. My grandparents, parents, it comes from a spiritual background. Knowing that this world didn’t just show up here alone. Civilization didn’t just pop up out of nowhere. Spiritualism is giving thanks in our views. You know that to be creative you have to really be created. There’s an order of operation to be maintained. In our group we have a few different religions.

We’ve got Muslim, Jehovah’s Witnesses, but we understand there’s one Supreme Being, you know what I mean? All the rest we’ll figure it out later but we all agree God is real. There’s nothing that we don’t do that is no in his honor. We tell it from the street aspect, the club aspect but it’s all in his honor when we give that information out to the world. It’s a blessing in itself to be able to talk to a podium as big as the world.

Ta Smallz: It’s a blessing to even talk to you, to shake hands, to hug because it’s like I said before, unfortunately, my mother was murdered when I was 12 years old so I’m lucky to even be here. So I show thanks because the Lord saved my life. Through trials and tribulations I build self-esteem through self-expression. I want to show people what I’ve been through and how I made it because I didn’t make it here by myself. I’ve been through a lot, Bone Thugz been through a lot.

There’s a lot of that in your music. 

Layzie Bone: Music is from the heart.

Thin C: It was in our rearing. There’s a lot of that in our music and we never forget that. I can’t speak for all the others but in music we praise God for good and bad. All his works are in perfect measure so we don’t need to argue with him. We keep moving forward to accomplish our goals, but we remain close to family, you know what I’m saying? You try to be positive.

I’ve always felt that the roots of rap come from Gospel music, from southern music. A lot of that deals with spiritualism, from the very heart of it.

Bone Thugs-n-Harmony has done everything. You’ve been everywhere, you’ve seen it all. You’ve toured the entire world and your albums have gone multi-platinum. How are you guys able to stay grounded and just focus on the music?

Layzie Bone: The key to saying focused on the music is loving the music. You gotta love music more than you do the club. You gotta love music more than you do your new Bentley. For me, coming up with a new song is like driving a new Bentley.

But you gotta be loyal to the music. It has to come from the heart. Bone Thugs have stayed grounded because we never stopped living life. A lot of things came up for us. A lot of things we didn’t expect. But things just happen. To deal with that chaos, that fluctuating schedule, you gotta love the music.

How do you think the band has stayed real, where with a lot of bands it gets to their heads and they just go away or become a one-hit wonder?

Thin C: What I’ve learned about being with them is that for them, music has always been there. It was from growing up in the home, they always had it for them. But for new artists they haven’t had time to love and appreciate the music. So it’s easier for them to become unraveled.

Ta Smallz: A lot of artists are just water and stir artists. You just add an egg and his (Layzie’s) mom was a singer, my mom would sing, so all of us had a love for the music from the beginning. Even if I wasn’t making money, I’d be writing the music. I love to educate and motivate with my music, and the best records I’ve made were the real ones. Yeah, I’ve made the party albums but the best hits were the ones where I talked about what was really important, what was really going on.

I think audiences can tell when they’re being lied to. They know what’s real.

Layzie Bone: I’m so beyond all that. I’m not going to say we haven’t made money…I’m going to make money regardless because the Bones are already a brand. I’d do it regardless but we’re an industry in itself, and to be blessed to get paid for doing something we love is wonderful. We have a catalogue of music but I’d do it whether it was for profit, for a non-profit like a good cause, music provided a lot of avenues for us, man.

I think early on in the record industry a lot of artists were exploited. But now artists are able to help other artists. People who used to just write and perform have become producers, and they have a better understanding of what makes good music. But they know what it’s like on a street level, and they can give other people a way out.

Layzie Bone: Very eloquently put.

Thank you.

Ta Smallz: It used to not be like that. An artist could work hard but not be able to go anywhere. Now they have a better opportunity. I think artists who are real are going to get chosen. Audiences are going to pick the artist who is speaking the truth, even if they have a wide range of other artists to choose from, they’ll pick the one who is singing from the heart.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Rap Bastardz - Music

A long while ago the editor of Skinnie Entertainment Magazine called me one Thursday and asked if I could interview Jesus H. Christ of the Rap Bastardz over the weekend. I was totally down for it. I had a copy of their latest album, they were funny, and anyone who would be willing to name themselves "Jesus H. Christ" had to be worth talking to.

All that weekend, Mr. Christ and I played phone tag. I didn't have a cell phone then, so I'd call him, wait around the house, go off to run an errand, and then come back and hear a message from the man, apologizing for not getting back to me right away.

Days later we had done this six or seven times, and my deadline was approaching like a freight train. I wrote the article with all the zeal I possessed (and I did, the band is damn cool) and sent it off. A few hours later, the editor called me back, asked me why I wasn't able to talk to the band, and then told me he couldn't print the article.

So here it is.

Let’s get this out front- The Rap Bastardz can rap, well. When hip-hop isn’t rapping about getting paid, getting guns and getting rich, there’s always a sense of humor, whether it’s Digital Underground, The Beastie Boys, Ice-T or Eminem. That’s part of the appeal of Enimem…he doesn’t seem to take himself, or his image, too seriously.

The Rap Bastardz are far from serious. Their songs are twisted, demented, irreverent, and so humorously dystopic you wonder if they aren’t doing an impression of what most rap artists have become after too many albums, which is a bad impersonation of themselves. Nope, the Bastardz are celebrating the lifestyle as they see it, and if it isn’t for you, well, you probably worry too much about drive by’s and not enough about having a good time.

But their rap is as cool as cognac and as funky as George Clinton’s boxers. Their rhymes come out blues sax smooth, turning and tweaking English so much you rediscover the poetry that rap can produce…and then you realize you are bouncing to a song that celebrates bukkake and prostitution gladiatorial matches. There’s even one about paying for sex from the handicapped called, “Wheelchair Ho.”

The band works as a team, weaving their lyrics in and out like vipers racing, and each member of the band brings his own particular ingredient to the mix. Front man Jesus H. Christ leads the way to the party that The Rap Bastardz are launching, half game show host, half MC, just enough to unsettle you before The Grimm Reefer, with his low, suburban bass drawl eases in with the beat, until Soup2nutz and Flossy B jump in with their own talent. All of it is funny. If you have no sense of humor, stay away, ‘cause that’s the point.

Don’t forget the sex and weed. Brazen, oiled up, unsafe non-monogamous human intercourse is celebrated again and then some, while the smoking of that chronic, as well as the snorting of that blow, is presented in every lyric of every song. There’s also beer, particularly “Drink Nude Beer.”

Well, sex and drugs is what rock and roll is supposed to be about, anyhow.

The Rap Bastardz album, Four Swingin’ Dicks, has everything from west coast disco to east coast hip-hop, with enough 60’s, 70’s and 80’s funk references to keep you choking on the funny when you get the shout out.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Part I - Music

My idea of the perfect interview involves me not saying a whole lot while the artist gets to express their viewpoint with as much freedom as possible. I usually have to stick with what I call the musical interview trinity (the band's new album, the current tour, and either what they think about the city they are playing in, or what their plans are for the future), but I figure that a fan wants to read the band's words, not mine.

When I interviewed Bone Thugs-n-Harmony I ended up asking a lot of questions. We had a good time during the interview, and everyone there gave me a lot to work with, so by the time I was done typing it all out I ended up with more than 7,000 words.

The article only required 1,250 words, so I had to throw out a lot, which was a shame because Thin C and Ta Smallz were great people to talk to. Now that I have my own blog, I can post the entire, exclusive interview for fans to read.
On November 23, 1993 five guys with a dream took a one-way bus ticket out of Cleveland, Ohio to Los Angeles with the complete intent to get discovered, make music and become one of the most prolific hip-hop acts in the United States.

Sixteen years later they've played with every legend in the rap business, starting with Easy E, and their albums have been certified platinum and multi-platinum by the RIAA. When the Great Big Book of Hip-Hop is finally written, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony are sure to get their own chapter.

Bone Thugs-n-Harmony changed the game with melodic harmonies and a fast-paced delivery that could be as harsh as cordite or as sweet as honey, but whether they wrapped about violence, good times, bad times, getting by or getting high, they’ve always been true to their music.

Uni5: The World's Enemy, will be released on February 9, 2010. The entire group, including Layzie Bone, Crayzie Bone, Bizzy Bone, Wish Bone, Flesh and Bone will tour together to promote the album. Thin C and Ta Smallz will also join the band on the road.

Bone Thugs has been around for a long time. Your albums have gone platinum and multi-platinum in the last sixteen years and you’ve seen it all. How do you think hip-hop has changed since your first album?

Layzie Bone: The whole state of hip-hop has really been elevated to a whole ‘nother level with the introduction of the Internet and with everything being so viral. When I first started, it was just the tip of the iceberg. Now hip-hop is a global phenomenon…it’s taken over the whole world since when we first started.

Ta Smallz: The coverage used to be very basic, but now you can see it everywhere, in car commercials, to President Obama making references to hip-hop in his speeches.

Thin C: When hip-hop first started there was a lot of spiritualism from where people were speaking from. I think now that a lot of that has been lost. But that spiritualism is still expressed to a large number of people in a mass-scale.

Ta Smallz: I think it’s important as artist that since we are in such a position to speak to so many people, it’s our job to say the right things and talk about the right situations…to influence things on a positive level.
I noticed that a lot of your later albums focused on family a lot more.

Layzie Bone: Yes. But the industry has also changed in that the artists have a lot more power. Using the Internet, you can reach the globe. You can get your music on a large number of sites. Before we had to pass out tapes and send it out through the mail.

Thin C: Now you don’t have to hang up posters, you can just string something up on YouTube.

Ta Smallz: We used to have to pass out a whole bunch of fliers, but now you can just send out an e-vite.

Layzie Bone: But now an artist is not prepared for a long career. It can be very short-lived. Before you used to sign a seven album deal, now you are lucky to get a single deal. That’s why a lot of artists choose to be independent. My friend Big Bob always says, “TV is the new radio, and the Internet is the new TV.”

Ta Smallz: You used to have to get your music played on the radio. Now, you can just drop it on the Internet. Now you can put it out on MySpace, Facebook and let people hear it. You don’t need the big stations.

Layzie Bone: A prime example of that is Jennifer Lopez. She premiered her new single on the TV at the AMA awards. She didn’t have to premier it on the radio. The big companies premier their shit on the television. It’s been that way for a while.

Ta Smallz: Another thing is BET might premier something but at the same time drop it on the Internet. Before anyone has watched it there might already be a million hits.

Layzie Bone: That’s what I’m talking about because with the Internet I’m on the motherfucker like a drug. (Laughs) I’m on that all day.

Thin C: There’s a lot of advertising, a lot of self-promotion, you have that now with the artist because of the Internet. Before you had to go to a big company but now the artist can express themselves and get people to notice them.

To be continued in Part II.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Steven Blush Interview - Art

Steven Blush Talks American Hardcore

Steven Blush is the author of American Hardcore, a book that chronicles the rise and fall of the hardcore punk scene in Southern California from 1980-1986. The books was used as a basis for a documentary of the same name directed by Paul Rachman, featuring interviews and live concert footage of legendary puink bands like Black Flag, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bad Brains, Circle Jerks and Minor Threat.

70’s punk had hit America, splattering itself all over the place, energizing the youth and leaving the rest of the country with the feeling that something awful had just happened. When punk came back for another infection, SoCal youth was ready for the sickness, creating a genre that scared the mainstream and set the tone for future bands that the same aggression and hatred of the mainstream as their British punk predecessors.

Blush treats the subject matter with great respect. He’s created a work that could serve as a college textbook for scholars who want to explore the roots of punk, indie and rock today by following them deep into the hardcore American underground scene of the early 80’s. He captures the excitement and adrenaline of that lost era, but reminds us that the savage soul of the punk music lives on and is still with us even now.

How did you originally get into the punk scene and come up with the concept for American Hardcore?

I was somebody who was lucky enough to fall into it during the 80’s in Washington, D.C. My girlfriend was so hip that she had tickets to obscure punk bands playing downtown in underground clubs. I saw Gang of Four before they were big. I saw the Birthday Party and Bauhaus when they only had a dozen people in the audience.

I fell into it the subculture of punk through the radio stations, too. I remember booking the Dead Kennedy’s, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, GBH, setting up concerts at independent halls and venues. They didn’t last too long because some band would always destroy the place during a show.

Why did you choose to cover the punk scene between 1980 and 1986?

What I got from the scene was that it was an all-encompassing subculture. The indie rock music label started because of this. Youth Brigade started BYO. Bad Religion started Epitaph. This was an American version of punk that had a speed and aggression with an emphasis on speed. It was very different than the British version.

I’ve come to this conclusion: In history we talk about the post-WWII subcultures like hippies and beatniks. We should also include punk.

How do you think the punk music scene was a reaction to new wave?

Other punk bands like the Ramones got signed up, but they were at the top, but to be hardcore you had to be into punk and you had to be against what music had become, which was new wave. What happened was in the late 70’s was that you had this Ramones/Sex Pistols thing, and people were really revolted by it, the safety pins in your cheek, the spitting, the violence, etc. The music wasn’t respected by the industry.

What Sire Records did was create new wave, which was about promoting music, to treat it as a business, and they pushed punk in that direction. But there were kids in the hardcore scene who wanted punk. These bands became more of a youth culture where the bands dressed like the kids. It was a Lord of the Flies setup, where kids created a scene that was great at first, but then it went to hell.

So the early punk scene in Southern California wasn’t about selling out, but it was something more?

The music was the bloated reaction to the entertainment industry. Now there isn’t even such a thing as selling out. Now you can be hip and sell out. I don’t like to be the old guys who complains about music, but I find that a lot of kids today don’t want to be bothered with how hard it was to promote a scene years ago. How certain people took the burnt culturally, painfully, lives ruined because they wanted to have a scene of their own, so they pushed.

That’s how punk rock became strong, it was about meaning and intensity. We all watched the hippies sold out and there was this feeling that we’d do things different.  A lot of bands don’t even have a concept of selling out, now.

Do you feel that most modern punk bands have become so corporate that they would be unrecognizable by their punk ancestors? 

If you talk about the bands of yesteryear, I think they still mean it. Of course it’s not the same when a band gets together 30 years later, but hardcore never really sold out. I certainly feel that we have to be honest about what it is. As for younger bands, well, let’s face it, there’s a conformity with playing music that’s 30 years old. I don’t think there’s the same social movement.

Why did you cover the hardcore punk scene in Southern California?

I’m most interested in people who use punk as a way as an attitude, as a lifestyle, and not just because of the music. I feel that the hardcore scene has its roots in Southern California. It came from the suburbs, where kids were brought away from the city to a place of hyper conformity, and it just created this new breed of monster. If you went to a show you could get your ass kicked for dressing the wrong way.

It’s 100 % California lifestyle. It’s a rite of passage. Hardcore is being passed down to the children. I can’t tell you how many 45 year olds with punk tattoos showed up with their kids. I remember being in Appalachia and hearing fathers tell their kids to listen to "Simple Man" by Lynard Skynard. Now it’s "Mommy’s Little Monster" by Social Distortion.

How did the mainstream view the hardcore punk scene back then?

The mainstream hated hardcore. It took thirty years to be accepted, which is why it is to me an art form. It was dangerous, a walled fortress that you couldn’t penetrate. Back in the day there was no chance that record companies would pick up hardcore music.

Oh, you could talk to hipsters about 70’s punk shows about how rough it was, but 70’s punk changed the world. They were shocked and disgusted about it, but a small minority who were new to it were clued into the new style. The Sex Pistols and their whole notion of punk, that’s’ where punk started and that’s why it developed the way it did.

There seemed to be a lot more violence, back then.

Violence and danger was inherent to the excitement, the popularity, the interest in the scene. We talk about how things have become so sanitized. They try to remove hardcore from the violence, but a lot of it is just being flat out honest that you are ok with it. Slam dancing and stage diving was the reality of the culture.

Young, male, testosterone, angst, alienation and confusion. That’s what Southern California hardcore culture was about. It was a very violent scene. All of the people who are lionized, who pushed the scene, they were violent. They were into clearing house, starting over, ground zero.

Was it a youth reaction to politics?

I think the election of Reagan created a whole new mindset in America. We were all going back to the 1950’s. At the time you couldn’t articulate it clearly because it’s happening around you, you are young, but you know something is wrong. It all goes back to Reagan.

The fallout of the American Hardcore scene was the re-election of Reagan. There were rock against Reagan concerts and shows that protested the government, like today.

Do you believe that the spirit of the scene is still alive?

A lot of bands today can all trace their roots back to hardcore, so the spirit is still alive, at least when it comes to the spirit of “Do it yourself.” Its political roots are alive in disparate ways but the pioneers usually don’t get the credit.