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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