Monthly Archives: December 2010

What A Great Year! (The 300th Post of 2010)

2010 has been a great year here at Silent Cacophony.

The First Season of Know Your History. 

It has been a lot of fun researching and producing these monthly radio shows focusing on the rich, cultural history behind hip-hop. I am quite proud of this first season of the show.

We have aired twelve original episodes this year. The seires is subtitled, “Your Monthly Dose of Hip-Hop Knowledge” since that is my goal with the program.

I look forward to bringing you a second season in 2011. We still have lots of music history to cover. I hope you have enjoyed the twelve episodes that have already aired on DOPEfm and hope you will enjoy the next twelve coming at you in the new year.

My First Winterlude

I had so much fun going to Ottawa and taking in one of Canada’s best winter festivals. I’m glad I finally got to do that. The ice sculptures were amazing. The snow sculptures were spectacular. The bed races were funny. And the fireworks were breathtaking. Hip-hop culture was even represented there.

If you get a chance to go to this festival, you really should go.

The Olympics In Canada

I got to run beside the Olympic Torch as it made its way across the country for Vancouver 2010. I got to see the Olympic Medals up close.

I even had a chance to meet and interview Gold-winning athletes and World Champion ice-dancing pair Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. My story ran in the newspaper as well.

I interviewed Gold-winning speed skater Christine Nesbitt too.

I never knew my blog and radio show would take me that far. I am honoured to have had all these experiences. It took my enjoyment of the Olympics to a whole new level this year.

Meeting My Favourite Musicians

I am still blown away by all the celebrities I met and interviewed this year. It was an absolute honour to sit down with Brother Ali for an intense and in-depth two hour interview.

I love Eternia even more after having met her and getting this amazing radio interview.

I talked to some Canadian icons this year; D-sisive, Saukrates, and Shad.

In fact, I did so many interviews that I can’t even list them all on this one post. Click on the Artist Interviews tab to read and download each one for free.

Script Frenzy

I took part in Script Frenzy for the very first time this year as well. I wrote a 100 page screenplay in one month and am really happy at how it turned out.

Chasing Content

I started a new monthly feature that gives us all a chance to look back at the best posts written last year at this time. We Chase Content together at the start of each month because there really isn’t any reason some that these great posts should get buried in the archives.

This year-end post is full of great links for you to click on and chase down that great content as well.

Teaching Tip Tuesdays

Every Tuesday is Teaching Tip Tuesday where I publish a tip that I hope fellow teachers will find useful in their classrooms. This series is quite popular. The posts receive lots of hits every week. We also have had a handful of guest posts. So far, we are 85 tips deep and won’t be slowing down in the New Year.

300 Posts in 1 Year

I published 300 blog posts this year. That is a new record for me. Stay tuned though as I will hit another milestone soon. We are slowly approaching the 1000th post here in Silent Cacophony. I can’t wait!

Thank You

  • To every reader who has ever visited the site. 
  • To all of you who have taken the time to leave comments.
  • To those of you who have left links to my blog on Twitter, Facebook, or on your own sites. 
  • To the guest posters (if you’d like to be one, contact me
  • And thanks for sticking with me throughout the year!
A Successful Year

All in all I would call 2010 a very successful year. I could never have done it without all of you. 

Happy New Year to all of you and all the best in 2011!

We All Deserve a Christmas Vacation

House decorated for Christmas. Jeffreys Bay, E...Image via Wikipedia

I’ve spent the last two days recovering from the holiday hubbub. I’m so glad that I have had the chance to just kick back and relax after all of the Christmas visiting, parties, and holiday functions.

I so needed that.

I think everyone should get a week off for Christmas. I remember that as a kid, the stores were always closed on Sundays. Boxing Day was a holiday and if you wanted to get some deals in the stores you had to wait until the 27th for “commercial boxing day.”

I’d like to go back to those days.

We can survive a week without having to buy anything, can’t we?

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just spend that time with our family and friends?

Christmas Day until New Year’s Day should be a holiday week.

If we all had a week off, we could spread out the holiday cheer instead of having to cram it all into two incredibly short days.

I could have one full day at my dad’s place. Follow that up with another full day at my mom’s. I could spend one day at my brother’s place. We could all have one evening free for our company banquets. We could go skating or toboganning.

Wouldn’t that be great?

Graffiti is Art

Hip Hop GraffitiImage via Wikipedia

I think the first time someone ever saw a permanent marker, they had a desire to write their name on the wall. It’s almost primal, that need to create on the surfaces available. We could get slabs of rock or canvases to write on and leave the walls of the city alone. However, there are quite a few people who can’t afford to buy those materials and would then be shut out from creating art.

Hip-hop is a common form of art because you can do it with pretty much nothing. If you have a marker or a can of spray paint, you can do hip-hop. If you have a microphone or a turntable, you can do hip-hop. That is one of the cool things about it.
It’s simple and cost effective to grab a marker and write your name on the wall. This is known as tagging. Writers would just write their nicknames on walls wherever they could.
Writers tried to outdo themselves by the style of lettering. The tags moved from marker to spray paint, which allowed writers to blend colours, bend the letters, and get quite creative.
A good tag is a work of art. It’s taking something as simple as writing a name and making it an artistic endeavor. It’s not a two-second scribble.
I, for one, don’t have any use for someone who writes, “Melissa was here” on the side of a park slide. The same goes for carving initials into a tree. That is not art!
Doing a tag takes time. You develop your lettering style so that your take is like a signature. People can recognize your style like how you can recognize the beat playing in the background today is a DJ Premier beat. It just has that something that is instantly recognizable.
Graffiti artists are the same way. You can recognize the style and not just the name on the tag. The original goal of tagging was to get your name known by throwing it up in as many places as possible. It didn’t take long for people to realize that it was easier and you could get a lot more done if you went to the train yards. 

The transit authorities didn’t like people breaking in to their yards and spraying up their railway cars. You can hear in the songs that we’ve been playing today that the artists would have to run from the cops. That’s because society doesn’t like graffiti art. It’s seen as a crime.

I really like seeing graffiti art and I know that I am not alone. Whenever I get stopped by a train, I’m not cursing. I’m looking at the art zoom by. There are some amazing pieces and tags on trains. The work is often big and colourful and has nice lettering styles.

After a while, there were so many writers out there that having a unique style was very important. There are quite a few people who look at the art though and can’t read it. Sometimes I can’t even read the work.  You just have to look at the piece for a while. It’s art appreciation.

To see some of the words, you really need to look at the letters and how the artists often bend them to the limits to the point where they are almost beyond recognition, almost. They might be coloured in such a way that makes it hard to see. For example, one letter might have four or five different colours.

Graffiti art doesn’t have to be like a logo. Although some logos are unmistakably influenced by the graffiti style.

Artists now give their work a third dimension, add pictures, and make their spray paint more elaborate than simple writing a word. This is what is known as a piece. When whole murals are done, they are referred to as bombs. It didn’t mean you were blowing it up. It meant that you were going to paint a big picture with words, letters, logos, etc.

Let’s play another song now. Let’s play Freedom Fighters by Promoe.

Doing a good spray paint job, and I’m not talking about touching up a car. I mean doing art with a can of aerosol spray paint. That is mad tough. The people who can do it are artists.

I don’t understand why people view graffiti as a crime and why they are so quick to buff out a piece. I mean who is really being hurt by spray painting a freight car? They used to be just boring cars that look a bit rusty.

I don’t think anyone stopped at a railway crossing would argue that the train looks any uglier with paint on the side than it did when it was just a long and boring piece of brown metal. Most people are just annoyed at being stopped anyway. It gives them something to look at. I know I like looking at the art zoom by.

I like to see graffiti art on a train, or under a bridge, or on an over-pass. Don’t you?

That’s a great song right there. That’s Looptroop “Ambush in the Night.”

I like all the comparisons to MCs there because just like rappers, graffiti artists don’t use their real names, obviously because it is illegal and they don’t want to get caught.

“Writers unlike rappers can’t go pop so they stay underground” – Nice lyric there!

It really is a shame that graffiti is seen as something that is bad because it gives the kids something to do. It lets them be creative and artistic. They are passionate about it as well.

I don’t see a problem with painting a train or a highway over-pass. On the flip side, painting somebody’s house or business is completely out of line. However, if you paint a back alley that isn’t seen all of the time, there really isn’t anything wrong with that.

I hope people wake up and see that graffiti is an art. 

It does not need to be combatted and buffed out all the time. 

It has its place.

We have already aired all 12 episodes of the 2010 season of this show. We will be bringing you a brand new season in 2011. Look forward to that. Stay tuned to DOPEfm to hear them first. It’s been taking me some time to transcribe each episode.

Thanks for tuning into this eighth episode. Remember you can download the shows and subscribe to our podcast for free to get all of the best in underground hip-hop, history segments, mix sets, and artist interviews. See you here soon for episode 9.

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Know Your History: Episode 8 – Graffiti

Welcome to Episode 8 of Know Your History, your monthly dose of hip-hop knowledge.

Today we will be focusing on graffiti art, which may prove to be a challenge because I can’t show you what we are talking about on this radio show (download this show for free, stream it with the player below, or continue to read it here.)

Graffiti Art is one of the four elements that comprise this culture that we love and hold so dear to our hearts here at DOPEfm.

We have DJs here all the time, Gamma Krush and Daddy J are mixing, cutting and scratching, and doing all the things that deejays do. We got MCs, the rappers that we are playing or interviewing.

The other two elements don’t make it on to a lot of radio shows. Breakdancing is obviously hard to see on the radio as well. Today, though, we will dedicate the entire half hour to that fourth element, Graffiti Art.
A lot of people see graffiti as a negative. They see it as a crime. They think that it is ugly or just plain vandalism. The truth is, that it is so much more than that. Graffiti is an important part of hip-hop culture and very important in rap music.
People have been writing on walls and surfaces since we were first able to walk upright and hold a stick in our hands to trace in the dirt. We have some great records of how ancient civilizations used and created art. However, graffiti as we know it, was started in the 1960s. pays tribute to graffiti with a very detailed history of graf. He breaks down the history of graf into different time periods as well. It’s an amazing site dedicated to all things hip-hop and I suggest you go and check it out if you haven’t already done so.
According to Davey D, the groundwork for graffiti as an artform and a movement was established in the 1960s in Philadelphia. I know some New York heads may take offence to that since New York was the birthplace of hip-hop culture. It’s undisputed that New York was the birthplace of the hip-hop deejay and emcee however.
Graffiti Art took hold in a few different places almost simultaneously. That being said, hip-hop does have a huge hip-hop culture and I’m not mad at all if they claim graffiti as theirs.
Graffiti artists are called writers because most of the early graffiti work was just words. The artists painted letters or words. Even today, with more detailed pictures and scenes being added, many artists still refer to themselves as writers. 
Two of the first writers from Philadelphia were Cornbread and Kool Earl. They wrote their names all over the city and the community started to take notice. The newspapers and press started to take notice as well.
Graffiti sprung up in New York at just about the same time. We’re not sure whether or not it migrated there. All we know for sure is that graffiti art started in the 1960s, which is interesting since hip-hop as a culture didn’t solidify until the 1970s.
As we discussed in earlier episode of Know Your History, graffiti art and breakdancing were both around before hip-hop culture per se. That is not surprising because all of the elements of hip-hop were around before what we can say is definitively hip-hop.
I can think of quite a few rap songs that have graffiti references in them. I’d like you to listen to the opening of Eminem’s Remember Me? as an example.
That’s not one of Enimem’s best songs. I just wanted to play the opening few bars for you. In them, you can hear someone shaking up a can of spray paint and starting to paint something. Eminem is referencing an important part of hip-hop culture in this song, which is really cool to see.
This next song is all about graffiti art. It’s called the Manhattan Project by Typical Cats.
Wow! That track was all about graffiti. A lot of hip-hop songs reference it but not too many songs are completely dedicated to the art.
Make sure you come back tomorrow to read the rest of this article on the history of graffiti art. In the meantime, you can listen to the show with the player below or download it for free.
Thanks for tuning in. This is Chase March and you better Know Your History. See you tomorrow!

Read Part 2! 

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A Baseball Bat, Golf Club, and Tennis Racket to Use in Your… Livingroom?

When I was growing up we had an Atari and then we moved up to a Commodore 64. I was playing games and doing some BASIC programming on both of these computers. My dad and my brother would play along with me. However, I don’t ever recall my mom playing a video game with us.

That’s why it was quite a surprise to see that she had bought a Nintendo Wii earlier this year. She wanted to get it so she could do some exercise and Yoga on it. She bought the balance board for it and called me over to help her set it all up.

So now, my mother and I play video games together. The strange thing is that I don’t even have a console of any kind at my place. I don’t play games on my computer either. The only place I play video games these days is at my mom’s house. Who ever thought I’d be in my thirties and saying that?

I thought it would be nice to enhance her gaming experience. So when I saw this in the store, I knew it would make a perfect Christmas present.

It comes with all sorts of accessories that the video game controller fits easily into. As such, you can easily turn your small television-sized remote control into a golf club, tennis racket, baseball bat,  or even a steering wheel.

We had a lot of fun playing the video games this week with these new toys. I tell you, it is so much nicer to be playing the golf game while holding something that looks like a golf club as opposed to the regular little controller.

My mom loves her gift and I know it will get a lot of use as the family gets together to play baseball or golf in her living room. (Again, who thought that I’d ever say that?)

I’ve told two stories now about gifts that I have given this Christmas.

Do you have any gift-giving stories you’d like to tell. 

Leave a comment below. 

I’d love to hear from you. 

Awesome Christmas Images

I found these great images online this Christmas and thought I’d post them all up here.

I so love that Santa Hulk one. How cute is that? Baby Wolverine is right on character too. Perfect! 
Stormtroopers watching How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Hilarious! 
The Fox Trot comic is for die-hard fans of the original Star Trek series. The red shirt security guys were always the first to go. It’s a little in-joke amongst fans and this comic did a great job of it. 
And of course, Amy Adams looks gorgeous, as usual. 
I hope you all had a great Christmas yesterday and that you continue to have a safe and happy holiday season! 

Best Gift I Gave This Year

About a month ago, I found the remastered DVD box set of Season 3 of the original series of Star Trek.

I found it in a cheap bin and couldn’t believe that it was priced at $19.99. When the show first came out on DVD years ago, I remember seeing it priced at $199.99.

I frantically searched through the clearance bin hoping to find the other two seasons. I would so love to own the entire series of the original, and still the best, Star Trek series.

Unfortunately, there only seemed to be one copy of the DVD in the entire store. I went to another branch of the store hoping to find it there but came up empty as well.

My dad is a huge Star Trek fan, and like me, doesn’t have cable television. I knew he’d really appreciate having all 24 episodes of Season 3 on DVD so I gave it to him as a Christmas present today.

We already watched a few episodes together and were simply blown away by them. This remastered collection is breathtaking. The colours are so sharp and vivid that you’d have no idea the show was shot about forty years ago. The special effects have also been brilliantly updated. The old phaser beams used to just show a green blob of light, now you can see the beam shoot out.

The new effects mesh perfectly into the show and don’t take away from the viewing experience either. I so love what they have done here.

The next time I go over to my dad’s, I’m sure he’ll have watched this season full over four or five times. He will probably beat me next time we play this…

Star Trek: The Game is a limited edition board game that combines strategy, trivia, and skill. My dad and I like to play it but our memories of the episodes are a bit fuzzy. Since we don’t have cable, we haven’t seen the old episodes in a while.

Next time we play, he will probably kick my butt on any Season 3 questions. So far, we’ve been pretty evenly matched.

Oh well, I know it was a great present and I know he’ll get lots of use out of it. Hopefully I’ll find another cheap copy of the DVDs somewhere. Maybe I can even find the other two seasons to buy him for a birthday present next year. To have the complete series would be so cool.

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Canadian Christmas Rappin’

Every year George Stroumboulopoulos assembles some of the best musical talent we have in this country for a special Christmas Eve broadcast of his talk show. This year is no different.

Tonight’s extravaganza features this amazing remake of Kurtis Blow’s Christmas Rappin’.

It really is a Christmas treat to hear Kardinall Offishall, Maestro Fresh Wes, Michie Mee, Saukrates, Buck 65, D-sisive, and Moka Only come together to remake this song.

I hope an audio version of this song is released soon. This could become my new favourite Christmas song.

George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight airs on the CBC at 11:00 tonight! Tune in to hear some fresh takes on your favourite holiday classics.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

In 1986 Rap Moved to Philly

Today we continue our coverage of Know Your History: Episode 7 – Rap Moves Out of New York.

If you missed Part 1 you can go back and read it now or you can stream the entire show with the player below. Don`t forget that you can download it for free as well.

Without further ado, on with the show!

In Philadelphia there was a DJ by the name of DJ Jazzy Jeff. One day his hype man fell ill and he needed a replacement for his show that night. As luck would have it, he met a kid by the name of Will Smith. They hit it off so well that DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince were formed almost immediately.

Together, they put out a record in 1986 called “Girls Ain’t Nothing But Trouble.” A year later that song was re-recorded for Jive Records and Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince came out with their first album “Rock the House” on Jive Records in 1987. Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith met in 1985, started making music together right away, and had a release in 1986 on Word Up.
This is the original version. It’s not the Jive Records version. Give it a listen and we’ll talk about it when we come back.

Pretty much all of the music we know and love from DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince is light-hearted and tame. They made a name for themselves by making fun and humorous story-rhymes.
While that early version of the song was a story rhyme and had its humorous side, it wasn’t so light and fluffy. It was cleaned up for the Jive Records release. The I Dream of Jeannie sample was made a little more prominent. However, this early version really focuses on the DJ. I like how DJ Jazzy Jeff was cutting “Trouble” over and over again in that mix.

It’s interesting to see how that early release was a little more raw both in the production of the record and the content of it. Which brings me to another Philadelphia emcee by the name of Schoolly D. He put out a self-titled release on Jive Records as well. This record is credited as being the first gangsta rap record.
Listen to PSK by Schoolly D and we’ll be right back.

Listening to that record, you can hear how it influenced artists such as Ice Cube, NWA, and Ice-T. Ice-T uses some of the same cadences and rhyme patterns in his song “6 in the Morning.”
Today’s episode of Know Your History focused on how rap became popular in 1984. The explosion of the culture was felt worldwide as hip-hop moved out of its confines of New York City to such far away places as Paris, France to more local ones such as Pennsylvania.
The three songs that we played today are all over the map, both figuratively and literally. We had gangsta rap, light-hearted comedy rap, and French rap. Rap is done in many different languages across the globe to this day.
Hip-hop is unstoppable.
I didn’t even touch base on the Texas scene. I wanted to play some Geto Boys. I could have talked about Boston, or Toronto. In fact, I will have to do future episodes focusing on these different regions and the unique sounds they brought to the culture of hip-hop.
New York and LA are still killing it. Hip-hop is definitely not going anywhere.
Thanks for tuning in to Know Your History. We’ve aired 12 episodes this year. I’m a little behind on transcribing them for you but will feverishly catch up so I can bring you the second season of the show in the New Year.
Until then, stay tuned for the monthly episodes on DOPEfm as this on-going series grows and develops. Thanks!

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Know Your History: Episode 7 – Rap Moves Out of NY

Welcome to Episode 7 of Know Your History, your monthly dose of hip-hop knowledge. 

You can stream this show with the player below, download it for free, or read this transcript. 

It’s important to remember that everything is built upon what has come before.

We take it for granted that we have samplers, laptops, and all of this fancy recording equipment and software.

However, back in the days when hip-hop started, all we had was a record player, a turntable. That was it. Someone brilliantly figured out that you could put two of them together, playing the same record, to extend the break beat. This effectively turned a turntable into a sampler well before samplers ever existed. We then had drum machines and fancy recording gear come out of that.
A lot of the fancy recording techniques that are done today in pop music, electronic music, rock music, or any other genre, are directly influenced by hip-hop. Some might want to argue this fact by stating that this technology may have come about anyway. Maybe so, but I think you need to recognize the early hip-hop pioneers for what they did and the influence they have had over time.
Hip-hop was born in New York. It originated in the Bronx in 1973 and it might have stayed there if it weren’t for some very popular groups
An interesting piece of hip-hop history revolves around two guys from South Africa, Clive Calder and Ralph Simon. Together they formed Zomba Music Group. They moved to London, England and founded Jive Records in 1978. They also opened a New York office and took a chance with rap music. They signed a group named Whodini. Whodini became one of the first commercially successful rap acts. This success led Jive records to shift their focus almost completely towards rap music.
If you go through your record collection, or mine, you’ll notice that pretty much all of the popular rap music from the early to mid-1980s was on Jive Records. Artists like BDP, Schoolly D, DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, A Tribe Called Quest all called Jive home. Jive records was quite literally owning hip-hop back then.
1984 was a landmark year for hip-hop. Rap music had been pretty much relegated to New York up to that point. That was where it was based. That was where it had been born as a culture. However, with the help of groups like Whodini, The Fat Boys, and Run-DMC, rap started to garner attention all across the United States.
Hip-hop was able to move over to the West Coast and rooted itself there. Local scenes popped up in Philadelphia, Texas, and in Atlanta. When I think about hip-hop outside of New York, those are the first things that come to mind. However, while doing my research for this episode, I was surprised to find out that when hip-hop got big back in 1984, it almost immediately skipped across the pond and landed in Paris, France.
Dee Nasty put out an album in 1984, Paname City Rapping. This is the title track from that album. It’s interesting to hear what hip-hop sounded like in France at the height of its popularity back in the early 1980s. .
Hip-hop got huge in 1984 and became a worldwide phenomenom. When I started researching for this episode I knew I wanted to look at Philadelphia in 1986. I was quite surprised to find this early recording from France. It just goes to show you the power hip-hop culture had and how quickly it spread.
Tomorrow we will look closely at Philadelphia and continue our coverage of the explosion of hip-hop culture on a worldwide scale back in the 1980s.

Remember to download this podcast for free. Become a subscriber to the feed as well. It’s completely free and you can get some great mix-sets, artist interviews, and hip-hop history segments. DOPEfm is your stop for all the best in underground hip-hop. 

Read Part 2 Now!
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Top 10 Albums of ’10

Here are my picks for the best albums of 2010.

10) Eternia & Moss – At Last

I really wish this album had made it further up the list. Eternia is a fierce emcee who consistently drops some amazing underground hip-hop. Moss is a rising star producer and has done some amazing work this year. Together, they have crafted an amazing album. Well worth the listen.

9) The Left – Gas Mask

Apollo Brown, Journalist 103, and DJ Soko comprise Detroit’s hip-hop collective, The Left. Together they produce straight underground hip-hop with no apologies. The beats are banging, the lyrics are sharp, and this album should be on a lot of Top 10 lists.

8) Shad – TSOL

Shad is an amazingly gifted and talented artist. He continues to top himself with every album he puts out. He has been received critical acclaim for years and is winning over fans across the world. The National Post even picked him as Canada’s Number 1 Rapper. I completely agree with that. This album is amazing!

7) Taylor Swift – Speak Now

There is something refreshingly honest and innocent about Taylor Swift’s music. I bought the deluxe version of this album and enjoy every song on it, even the bonus tracks on Disc 2.

6) Witness – The Everafter LP

This LP is only ten tracks long, but to me, it’s a perfect 10. Witness flows smoothly over jazzy and mellow tracks. It hearkens back to the early 90’s sound that we all loved from the Native Tongue collective. Like the short albums from Murs or Nas’ Illmatic, this album sounds perfect and didn’t need to be any longer than its 26 minutes.

5) Rakaa – Crown of Thorns

This is a solo album from Rakaa Iriscience of Dilated Peoples. It captured me from the very first opening beat and rhyme all the way to the end. Rakaa has an energy and passion for hip-hop that shines through on every track that he blesses.

4) Eminem – Recovery

I had almost written Eminem off completely. I’m glad I didn’t. This album is a return to form. It was refreshing to hear Eminem open up and be vulnerable. The album captured me from the opening few seconds and didn’t let me go. There are some great moments that made me laugh out loud, or cheer like I was in front of the stage marvelling at what he was able to do with a lyric. He is definitely one of the best wordsmiths the English language has ever seen.

3) The Roots – How I Got Over

The Roots organic hip-hop jazz sound has grown and developed over the course of nine studio albums. Their latest album is a sonic delight. The drums sound warm and there is piano accompaniment on pretty much every track. It is a sonically beautiful album with sharp lyrics. The Roots never fail to delight and amaze.

2) Kadyelle – Earthworthy

I hadn’t heard this album on my favoruite blogs, podcasts, or radio shows. That might be because it is an independent release from Australia and people might not want to hear a female with an accent doing hip-hop. But good music is good music and this is one of the best albums I have heard in a long time. Kadyelle raps on hard-hitting beats, she has something to say, and she does it with style. This is underground hip-hop at its best.

1) Dessa – A Badly Broken Code

This is a masterpiece. I don’t throw that word around too often but this album definitely deserves it. Dessa is able to mix singing, rapping, and poignant poetry in this impressive debut album. She has a beautiful voice, sharp lyrics, and an intense delivery. I haven’t been able to stop bumping this album since a reader recommended it in the comments of this blog. I will continue to bump this for years to come as well. Love it!

Just Missed the Cut

Tim McGraw – Southern Voice

While this album was technically released last year, it was one of my most-played albums of 2010. I love the playful lyrics and I especially like how he flips the phrase “It’s a Business Doing Pleasure With You.” He has an amazing voice and some great songs that I just can’t help but sing along to.

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Teaching Tip – Take a Break

Teaching Walloon at Ochamps (the benevolent te...Image via Wikipedia

Teaching can become an all-encompassing profession.

It is so hard to fit everything we need to do into the small amount of time we have at school.

Most teachers I know either come in early, stay late, or take work home with them. Many teachers actually do all three. 
I know that I have a hard time turning the teacher half of my brain off. I am always thinking about things I can do in the classroom.

I can look at a pile of junk and see materials for an art lesson. I can look at an image on the computer and be inspired to write a lesson plan about it. I can go to the library to get a book for pleasure reading and come back with three teaching-related books or resources. 

While this is all well and good, it is also important to take a break every now and then. 
School can wait. It can wait until January 3rd for most of us. 
Before I left the school on Friday, I made sure that I had written all of my lessons for the first week back. I did all of the photocopying, and left my room neat and tidy. 
I am now officially on break. I don’t need to worry about the first day back, what I’m going to do for art that week, or what unit of science I’m starting. Everything is all set. 
My teaching tip for today is – Take a Break!
If you haven’t already done so, take some time to plan your first week back now. Do it today and you won’t have to worry about it for the next two weeks. 
I’m following my own advice and will be taking a break from this Teaching Tip Tuesday series. I will still be updating the site but I won’t be publishing a new Teaching Tip until school starts back up in January. Until then I wish you all the best. Have a safe and happy holiday. 
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How Rap Got Popular – Part 2: Whodini & Run-DMC

We just played a track called “Friends” by Whodini that gets classified as an old-school track.

However, it is important to note that when that track was released, old-school as a genre or a term didn’t even exist.

Now we define old-school hip-hop as containing a simple drum pattern, a bass-line, and a few sparse sounds.

Hip-hop started with a DJ taking a drum solo from a record and looping it up to play again and again. This would form the entire basis of the song. The first rap records ever released featured MCs rapping over a disco breaks. Simple as that.

Hip-hop evolved and built upon that humble beginning. 

The Whodini track that we just played did change the music around. We heard different synthesizers and drum patterns in there and it was not just a simple loop.

Run-DMC took things a bit further.

Their first three records fused together the street sounds of rap with the hard guitar sounds of rock. It was a unique sound that could not be ignored. They release several more records over the years but it was these three records that were instrumental in the spread of hip-hop culture throughout the country and the world.

The Biggest Rap Record of the time.

Jam Master Jay liked to loop up records for the two MCs in the group to rap over. One of their favourite records was called “Toys in the Attic.” Run-DMC wanted to rap over the break of one of the songs on that record and put it on their third album, Raising Hell.

Run-DMC just wanted to sample that Aerosmith record. They wanted to use the sounds from it to create something new. But the producers saw something. They thought it would be a good idea to redo the song. The song in question was “Walk This Way.”

The record execs wanted Run-DMC to cover the record and to rap the original lyrics to it. Run-DMC were very reluctant to do it. But they did. Aerosmith came in to re-record the song. Steven Tyler resang the hook and what they created was nothing short of magic.

The song blew the original pretty much right out of the water. Most people prefer the updated song to the original. I know that I sure do.

The video is really amazing too. Both bands are practicing their songs in adjacent studios. Run-DMC turns up their music so loud that Aerosmith can’t practice at all. Steven Tyler uses his mike stand to smash through the wall and then starts singing the chorus because both groups had been singing the same song.

This is the biggest hit Run-DMC ever had. It also rejuvenated the career to Aerosmith.

This is hip-hop right here. Anyone who argues that this is just commercial music or that it is rock is completely wrong because this song built upon the foundation that hip-hop had already laid.

It’s really cool that Run-DMC had the guts to put this song out and to listen to their producers (Rick Rubin is an amazing producer) It’s just classic.

That was from my favourite album EVER from any genre. Run-DMC’s Raising Hell has to be one of the best records ever made, in my humble opinion. There is just something about it. The sound was unique and it was able to crossover and bring hip-hop to a wider audience.

The sound of that record was more accessible to a wider variety of fans. It was still hip-hop. It still used record samples  but they were replayed with a live band to give it an extra kick.

Another thing that made hip-hop become popular was a group that Run-DMC took under their wing. This group also used rock guitars and hard-hitting samples. They traded off vocals and pretty much did the exact same things that Run-DMC did on their records. The only difference was that these kids were white.

I’m talking about The Beastie Boys. License to Ill, their amazing debut album also hit a wide audience and helped bring hip-hop to a brand new audience.

Hip-hop really exploded in popularity because of groups like Whodini, The Fat Boys, Run-DMC, and The Beastie Boys. Their contributions to hip-hop should never be forgotten.

I truly believe that it is important to Know Your History! 

Remember that you can download this show for free or stream it with the player below.

Thanks for tuning in!
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Know Your History: Episode 6 – Rap Gets Popular

Welcome to the sixth installment of Know Your History.

This is the show where we explore the rich culture that is hip-hop.

You can download this show for free, stream it with the player at the bottom of the post, or read it here on the blog. Whatever you choose to do, thanks for tuning in.

One of my goals with this series is to trace the roots of hip-hop, to talk about where it came from and how it got to where it is today. Of course, today, hip-hop is a huge, global phenomenon. Almost everyone is familiar with rap music. It has stretched to all points on the globe, and people are familiar with its pioneers.

Rap wasn’t always this widespread.

The music started in one specific community at one point in time. As we discussed in a previous episode, the elements that comprise hip-hop all came together and solidified into a culture in 1973.

So how did rap music get popular? 

Hip-hop as a culture started from just building, from pretty much nothing. Building from two turntables and being able to deejay a party with two records playing the breaks. We added to that an emcee who would hype up the crowd. That built up to an MC would would actually deliver full-length songs, which led to the first rap recordings.

And then something amazing happened. Hip-hop shifted from the party-type rhymes to a more street, hardcore sound. Up until that time, there was no such thing as old-school rap. We take it for granted now that there is old school and that we have pioneers of the form. But the rappers back then didn’t call it old school. A lot of them still won’t refer to their sound as old-school.

Run-DMC have a lyric that says, “It’s all brand new, never ever old-school!”

Run-DMC signaled a new era.

Their music appealed to a very wide audience. In 1983 they put out a 12″ record. Prior to that singles were usually put out on 45s. Rap artists quickly embraced the 12″ single and this became the standard for all hip-hop singles.

12-inch records had an A-side which contained the lead single and a B-side which would contain a bonus song.

Run-DMC’s record contained the song “It’s Like That” on the A-side and “Sucker MCs” on the B-side. It was the B-side track that really showed what rap was capable of. The song had a harder, street sound to it. It was a battle record, where Run just ripped through any would-be MC. It’s a great record and has a edge to it like nothing else that had come before it.

A year later, Run-DMC came out with their self-titled album in 1984.

Run-DMC put out a trio of albums that really changed the game.

There was 1984’s self-titled record,

1985’s King of Rock,

and then in 1986 came the ground-breaking Raising Hell.

Let’s go back to 1984 for a moment.

1984 was a big year for hip-hop. 

It was a year that saw quite a few artists break out of New York city and get heard nationally. There were urban and R&B radio stations playing the songs. The 12″ records started to be passed around as well. Hip-hop was no longer relegated to New York City.

The Fresh Fest was a tour that hit 27 cities with some of the biggest acts of the time, including Whodini, Kurtis Blow, The Fat Boys, and of course, Run-DMC.

Whodini were one of the first acts to create a high-profile national following. They got lots of radio play. They were on Jive Records, which was a London-based label. That just goes to show you that already in the 1980’s, hip-hop was worldwide. We had labels in the UK putting out New York based music that was getting played everywhere.

This tour was so successful that six months later, the “2nd Annual Fresh Fest” tour

Whodini’s first 12″ was “The Haunted House of Rock” in 1983. It came out on coloured vinyl. It was florescent green. I’m proud to say I have it! It’s pretty cool. It was the first single from their self-titled debut album.

In 1984, they came out with an album called Escape and that’s when they started to come out with their hits that you are probably more familiar with. This is “Friends.”

Make sure you come back tomorrow as we continue our coverage of how rap became popular.

Remember that you can download this show for free or stream it with the player below. Thanks for tuning in!
Music Playlist at

Teaching Tip Tuesday – Art Attack

Art AttackImage via Wikipedia

Have you seen the television show Art Attack?

If not, you really should look for it. The show is a treasure trove for the elementary classroom. Host Neil Buchanan shares a passion for art and creativity that is simply inspiring.

Every week on the show, he goes through simple projects that you can make at home using readily available materials. He goes through each step of the process in a way that is quite easy to follow.

Buchanan also does some “Big Art Attacks” where he takes regular everyday objects and places them on the ground to create a picture or scene that takes up an entire room or football field. At the end of his build, we see the results of his work from an overhead shot. Every single time I see a “Big Art Attack” I am amazed by his creation.

The Art Attack website is phenomenal. There you will find step by step instructions for each project.

There are some great ones that you might want to do in your class this week for Christmas.

I have done the Christmas Cones craft a few times now with different classes. It is always a hit.

Countdown to Christmas is a good one too.

Spatter Blizzard and the project just above it use the same technique to simulate snow fall on the finished piece.

There are lots of great crafts you can do with your class on this site. Check out the show if you get a chance too. You can catch it on TVOkids here in Ontario.

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5 Lovely Ladies of Silent Cacophony

My first celebrity crush was Claire Danes. I was completely captivated by her when I saw the very first episode of My So-Called Life.

I also developed a bit of a crush on the fictional Erica Strange played by Erin Karpluck on the excellent television series Being Erica.

And then, of course, there was Black Widow from the latest Iron Man movie.

My next celebrity crush was Amy Adams.

And my latest celebrity crush is Amy Pond. She is the doctor’s new companion on Series 5 of Doctor Who. She is played by Karen Gillan.

Just today I realized that there are some interesting connections between all of these Lovely Ladies of Silent Cacophony.

Do you see them?

Claire Danes and Erin Karpluck are both leading characters in critically acclaimed television series.

I really love the character of Erica Strange. I was never that big a fan of Scarlet Johansson but there is something special about seeing her play the character of Black Widow.

How could you not love Amy Adams after seeing her in Enchanted? Seriously. And that ties into my latest crush as the name of the character she plays is Amy Pond.

And of course all of these lovely ladies happen to have red hair.

What is it about red hair that I find so attractive?

All I know is that these ladies are welcome here at Silent Cacophony any time.

December 10th Mixtape

Here is my latest mixtape.

You can download Side A here and Side B here. Both files will fit on one standard CD, or you can load them onto your MP3 player. Either way, give this tape a listen and let me know what you think.

I let this tape grow organically. I had a few songs I knew that I wanted to play but then I just got into DJ mode and never looked back. I selected tracks by what felt right to come next. I hope that you will see the connections between the songs as you listen.

I took the cover photograph myself as well. It really fits with the theme to this tape, don’t you think?

I’m really happy with how this tape turned out. I’ve been bumping it for a few days now. I hope you will too. Enjoy!

Music Playlist at

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Snowmageddon 2010

I’ve lived in Canada my entire life. I’m used to heavy winters and I’m used to the craziness that often accompanies the first major dumping of snow each year. However, I have never seen anything like Snowmageddon 2010.

It started off innocently enough Friday night. I woke up the next morning to find a light dusting of snow on the ground, completely unaware of what was to follow.

The snow started back up Sunday afternoon and it continued to fall for the next three days. It hasn’t completely stopped yet. The forecasters are expecting more snow to fall and in total some areas will see 140 cm of the white stuff.

Just to put that in perspective, a typical winter in London sees, on average, 200 cm of snowfall each season. That means we have already seen more than half a winter’s worth of snow, in only four days.

The city has been shut down since Monday. All of the public schools closed, the university and college closed, the public buses were pulled out of service, and people were urged to stay home.

I have kept the car in the parking lot since my little mishap Monday morning. I stayed home and heard a steady stream of sirens from emergency vehicles. I went on Twitter and announced that the outside world could wait. It was important for us to wait out the storm and stay safe.

This really is the most crazy winter storm I have ever experienced. I have never seen three consecutive snow days in my life, either as a student or as a teacher.

I`m hoping that things will be back to normal tomorrow morning and that this weather front will have moved on by then. I`m keeping a close eye on the weather reports and the news. Stay safe people!

Photo Credit: Dana Kathryn

5 Tips to Motivate Reluctant Students (Guest Post)

Every class is a mixed bag – some kids are naturally talented while others get to the top through hard work and effort; some are innately enthusiastic while the rest need a little nudge to get them going; and some are lazy even though they have brains, while others cannot be more than mediocre no matter how much they try.

To put it simply, academia is not for everyone, but since schooling is necessary to lay down a strong foundation for later life, some students have to be motivated to do what they’re reluctant to do, yet what must be done. As a teacher who has your students’ best interests at heart, here’s what you can do to help them find motivation:

  1. Help them identify what they can get out of it – if they’re reluctant to work on improving their grades, impress upon them the fact that grades are important if they want admission to the college and degree of their choice. This kind of motivation works for students who are ambitious and talented but a bit too lazy to work towards achieving their goals.
  2. Explain why it is necessary – most students question the wisdom of homework and other school-related tasks in and outside the classroom. The best way to motivate them to get these tasks done is to explain to them why they’re necessary in the larger scheme of things. When they understand why, it’s easier for them to get down to the task and do it willingly.
  3. Provide incentives – I don’t mean you must bribe them, just that the thought of a reward, no matter how small it is, helps push them towards their goal. If they’re reluctant to attend extra lessons (which they need in order to improve their grades), the promise of just four classes as opposed to five could work wonders in improving their attitude towards these classes and motivating them to attend whole-heartedly.
  4. Use the threat of punishment – the jurors are still out on the efficacy of this method of motivation, but the threat of punishment does help in certain kinds of situations. The punishment could be self-inflicted, like failure in an exam – telling your students that the test ahead is going to be very tough and that unless they study hard, they’re likely to fail, is a surefire way of getting them to start preparing immediately.
  5. Show them the shortcuts – there’s nothing like the easy way out when it comes to doing things. So when you show your students how to take a shortcut to success when they’re reluctant to do something, you provide them with the motivation to tackle the job without hesitancy. Their minds are now programmed to look at the task as “easy”, and this makes them want to attempt and succeed at it.

Motivation has to come from within, so when you’re attempting to motivate students who are reluctant to do what must be done, you must be able to tap something inside them and make them want to do it rather than force them into doing it. Willingness and acceptance of the task are aspects that play a significant role in the success of motivation.


This guest post is contributed by Mark Davies, he writes on the topic of Masters Degree Online. He welcomes your comments at his email id: markdavies247(@)gmail(.)com.

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