Monthly Archives: January 2014

Battlestar Galactica: Season Zero

Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galactica: Season Zero

This story takes place two years before the mini-series that re-launched the Battlestar Galactica franchise.

The first third of this graphic novel moved a little slowly but then I got so invested in the story that I couldn’t put the book down.

This is the first Battlestar Galactica comic I’ve read since the original Marvel series back in 1979.

Battlestar Galactica Marvel Series

I found some of those old comics in mid 1980s and still have the first seven issues. of the series.

I used to watch the original series on television with my dad. We also watched Buck Rogers, and of course Star Trek.

It’s pretty cool to continue these stories in the medium of comics.

Create Visual Poems With Your Students

Here are a few visual poems.

Can you read them?

1. Follow the map.

Can Get Lost Poem

2. Connect the dots.

Connect the Dot poem

The first one is a map, of sorts. You have to follow the arrows to read the phrase . . .

“You can’t get lost if you don’t know where you’re going.”

I like that visual image a lot. It’s not quite a poem and not quite a drawing. I’m not sure how to classify it, other than it’s creative and it really struck a chord with me. It has something to say and communicates it in a way to engage the reader.

Isn’t that what poetry is all about?

The second one takes the map concept and mashes it up with a connect the dots puzzle.

“How I wish you spent as much time thinking about me as you spent trying to read this poem.”

Once again, this says more in the complexity of the word arrangement than what the words alone can convey. It’s brilliant!

I want to challenge my students to use words in creative ways by combining them with images such as arrows or dots.

It’s time to create some visual poems! 

Teaching Tip Tuesday – lessons, tips, tricks, and ideas you can use in your classroom.

Know Your History Season 4

Know Your History is a documentary radio series that I do once a month for DOPEfm Radio and The Word is Bond Rap Radio Hour.

I explore a different topic related to hip-hop music and culture every month. The show is normally half an hour long but I expanded several episodes to a full hour last year.

I fell a bit behind on transcribing the episodes for the blog, but they are all available as a free download right now. You can also stream them over at The Word is Bond.

Click on the individual episodes below to read the transcript and stream or download the show.

Thanks for listening

Know Your History – Season 4

Know Your History Season 4

Episode 37The History of Radio Broadcasting
Episode 38Hip-Hop’s Better Half
Episode 39 – Women in Hip-Hop Special
Episode 40Hashtag Rap
Episode 41 – Mother’s Day Special
Episode 42Metaphor Concepts
Episode 43Storytelling Rap
Episode 44 – Don’t Quit Your Day Job
Episode 45Back to School
Episode 46Haunted Rap Radio Hour
Episode 47Rest in Peace, Dad
Episode 48 – The Writing Process

You can download the entire season in this handy zip file.

Access: Random aka Mega Ran (Live Interview TODAY)

Random will be our special guest for this week’s live and interactive radio show.

This program is a partnership between Our ShowKevin Nottingham, The Word is Bond, DOPEfm, and Silent Cacophony.

Conshus runs the segment live on the radio in Florida on 91.5 WPRK and I join him via the magic of Google Hangouts. You can listen to the show online or watch the visual stream right here on this very page. We have a lot of fun tag-teaming these interviews for you.

One of the coolest things about how we run the program is the bonus content we deliver via the live video feed. When we play a song over the airwaves, we continue our discussion behind the scenes. And you are privy to it all. We basically hang-out and discuss hip-hop, artistry, song-writing, and anything else that comes up.

I hope to see you all there this weekend when Random joins us.

We get started at 5:30 EST TODAY (Saturday January 25th)

Winter Camping

Scouts Winter Camping
Winter Camping – Scouter Wally and the Venture Company

This is one of my favourite photos of all time and does it ever have a story.

My father had been involved in Boy Scouts for most of his life. He was a youth member and a Cub Scout leader before I was even born.  When I was old enough to join, I became a Wolf Cub as well.

There are several different age groups to get involved in Scouts and I have been involved in all of them, except for Rovers.

Beavers – 5 to 7
Cubs – 8 to 10
Scouts – 11 to 14
Ventures – 14 to 17
Rovers – 18 to 26

The photo above shows a winter camping expedition we went on with our Venture Company.

I’m the third person on the left in the horseshoe formation. You can see my dad addressing us right beside me in the background. The girl on the bottom right of the photo passed away about a year later. So, rest in peace to both her and my father.

We had a lot of fun trying to survive an entire weekend in one of the coldest winters on record. We hiked in to our camp site and made shelters to sleep in. We were roughing it, that’s for sure.

We learned a few important things that weekend.

Number 1 – Don’t leave your water in the water cooler jug

We really should have poured the water into some pots because it froze solid in the water jug. As such, we had no water on our site and had to hike several kilometers to get new water in the morning.

Number 2 – Protect Your Insulin

One of the boys had his insulin freeze as well. I’m not sure what my dad did to remedy that problem.

Number 3 – Stay Warm

Once you catch a chill, it is nearly impossible to warm-up again when you can’t get to a heated building. My gloves weren’t the best and my hands got so cold that I couldn’t move them at one point.

I don’t think I’m selling you on the idea of winter camping, am I?

It was a challenge, but we came out of it okay. We did something that very few people can say they’ve done.  We slept outside in temperatures that felt like -20 degrees Celsius with the windchill.

It was a weekend I will never forget. I’m glad we had an amateur photographer in our group as well. I so love that photo!

8 Tips for Young Musicians

Here are 8 tips you can use in your music classroom. I hope they will inspire the young musicians in your class.

I think using the term “young musician” is very important too. Some students won’t see themselves as musicians whatsoever. They won’t feel comfortable playing an instrument at first. They might stop trying. That’s where tip one comes in.

1. Believe in Yourself

“We choose to stop playing, or not to begin, because we don’t believe our music is good enough, which must mean we’re not good enough. And never will be good enough. Ever.”

Of course, this simply isn’t true, which brings us to Tip # 2.

2. Play Badly (At First)

“We must grant ourselves permission to play badly. Why? Because we’re supposed to play badly in the development stage.”

No one can play an instrument perfectly right away, and shouldn’t be expected to either. There is a learning curve and a process to becoming a musician. Play badly at first and play often.

3. Work Through the Material

Get it done first—get it right later. Turn your back on your inner prosecutor and declare each effort good enough for now. The defense rests.”

Keep playing and work through your method book. Learn some songs on your own. Don’t worry if it’s not good enough. Yet.

4. You Don’t Have to Master Everything

“Even superstars rarely excel in all areas; most of us compensate for weakness in one area with strength in another.”

Maybe you can’t sight read music very well. Perhaps you can pick up tunes by ear. Try playing a familiar tune without using any printed music. Learn musical elements step by step, but start with what you are good at.

5. Everyone is Creative. You are too!

“I believe that everybody is creative, and everybody is talented. I just don’t think that everybody is disciplined. That is the rare commodity” – Al Hirschfeld

Practice. Play regularly. With the proper discipline you will become a competent musician.

6. Put in the Work

“Without discipline, we may fail to seek out or recognize opportunity, what talent we possess means little. As Thomas Edison said, ‘Most people miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.’ Development represents the supreme act of discipline because it not only looks like work; it is work.”

It is work. But it can also be fun. Find something you like playing and keep working on it. Memorize your scales, work on specific songs.

7. Everything is Difficult Until It Becomes Easy

Ask yourself: What do I do regularly now that once seemed impossible? What made it possible? And remember that everything is difficult until it becomes easy.

8. Inspiration Can Come From Anywhere

The passages in this post came from a book on creative writing. I paraphrased them slightly to fit with the theme of music as opposed to writing.

creative-compass

As I read through the book, the above quotes really spoke to me. I immediately saw the connection between what writers do and what musicians do. I knew that my students could learn from these pearls of wisdom. I hope yours can too.

Teaching Tip Tuesdays – Inspiration and resources for teachers. Right here. Every week.

The Avengers Tripping Through Time

Avengers 1

Avengers: Volume 1 by Brian Michael Bendis, John Romita Jr, and Klaus Janson

This is a time travel story involving two generations of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. I was glad that I’d seen this animated film before reading it because it ties in rather nicely.

NextAvengers-DVD

In the movie, the Next Avengers are actually the children of our fallen heroes. They are battling an enemy that has pretty much decimated the Earth and it looks like they might now win.

In the book, the heroes are starting to reassemble, despite the warnings of a few who think a superhero team only encourages villains and creates more problems that it solves.

This book deals with the non-linear timey-whimey stuff that Doctor Who  does so well. It was a fun read and my first title for 2014.

Stay tuned for my reading log where I will keep track of every book I read over the course of this year. It will be my third year doing so. I really love having this record of what I read. I hope you will too.

Access: Has-Lo (Live Radio Interview)

Has-Lo will be our special guest for this week’s live and interactive radio show.

This program is a partnership between Our Show, Kevin Nottingham, The Word is Bond, and Silent Cacophony.

Conshus runs the segment live on the radio in Florida on 91.5 WPRK and I join him via the magic of Google Hangouts. You can listen to the show online or watch the visual stream right here on this very page. We have a lot of fun tag-teaming these interviews for you.

One of the coolest things about how we run the program is the bonus content we deliver via the live video feed. When we play a song over the airwaves, we continue our discussion behind the scenes. And you are privy to it all. We basically hang-out and discuss hip-hop, artistry, song-writing, and anything else that comes up.

I hope to see you all there this weekend when Has-Lo joins us.

We get started at 5:30 EST TODAY (Saturday January 18th)

Don’t miss it!

Know Your History 42 – Metaphor Concepts

Welcome to Know Your History, your monthly dose of hip-hop knowledge. Today, I want to start out our journey in 1995. That was the year that a member of the Wu-Tang Clan dropped a seminal hip-hop classic. The album is brilliant with banger after banger but there is one track that was so unique that people still talk about it today. It has even influenced other rappers to try doing the same style.

Hi, my name is Chase March and I hope you’ll stick with me for the next half hour as we look closely at name-dropping metaphors in rap songs. To explain what that is, let’s look at the song I’ve been teasing you with for a minute now.

This is “Labels” by GZA and you need to play attention to hear how seamlessly he incorporates the names of over 40 different record labels into the narrative of the song. It’s simply brilliant and it must have taken a long time to craft. This is precision to detail and it’s what you’d expect from a rapper known as The Genius.

GZA Liquid Swords

That’s is such an amazing song. It’s from the classic hip-hop album “Liquid Swords” by the GZA and it’s simply called “Labels.”

I wonder if you were able to pick up on every reference to record labels that he mentioned in that song. There were over 40 of them. The brilliance of the song is that he didn’t just list them. He didn’t merely throw nonsense rhymes in. He methodically weaved the names of those labels into the narrative.

People still talk about that song nearly twenty years later. In fact, Combat Jack recently tweeted that only 15% of the record labels that GZA name dropped in the song are still around. I knew the record industry had seen better days but I was really surprised at that number. So was a fellow hip-hop historian by the name of UpNorthTrips.

In an article for Get on Down (http://www.getondown.com/blog/2012/08/get-on-down-investigative-reports-breaking-down-gzas-labels/), he explores every label mentioned in the song, all 41 of them. He looks at the foundation date of those labels, their major acts, and whether or not they are still in business. And he comes to some interesting conclusions.

It turns out that 22 of the labels still operate. For those of you doing the math in your head right now, I’ll save you the trouble. That’s 54 percent up and running and 46 percent defunct. That’s a pretty telling number about the music business. 46% of those labels have gone out of business. Three of those labels had already gone belly up at the time GZA wrote the song but it does go to show the changing nature of the record business in this digital age that we live in now.

Of those 22 still functioning labels, only 3 of them operate independently. The remaining 19 fall under the umbrella of only 4 companies. Universal Music Group controls nine labels. (Def Jam, Mercury, Next Plateau, Island, Interscope, Bad Boy, Geffen, A&M Records, Loud Records.) EMI controls four labels (EMIRG [EMI Record Group], Virgin, Capitol, Priority.) Sony Music Entertainment controls three labels (Epic, Columbia, RCA.) And Warner Music Group controls three labels. (Warner Brothers, Atlantic, EastWest)

I really don’t like how the media outlets that we rely on for music on record or on the radio are owned by a handful of companies. It really makes you wonder about the programming we exposed to. But that’s a topic for another show. Let’s get back to the art of the metaphor-themed song.

Soda to Soap by Masta Ace is another great example. The title speaks for itself. In the first verse, Masta Ace is able to weave several different brands of beverages into his tale of romance. In the second verse, he takes a close look at the rap game by looking at detergents. I guess that sound pretty weird but it is a really cool song.

This is Chase March and you’re listening to Know Your History on DOPEfm and The Word is Bond. And this is “Soda to Soap” by Masta Ace. I love this song.

Masta Ace - Long Hot Summer

That was Soda and Soap by Masta Ace. A song where he is able to dedicate two verses to two very different metaphor topics.

In the first verse, he tells a romance story and interweaves all sorts of different beverages into his tale. All in all, he includes 16 varieties of pop including Pepsi, Coke, Minute Made, Fanta, and Canada Dry among others.

In the second verse, he changes the topic from soda to soap, hence the title of the song. In these 16 bars he includes11 varieties of soap including Ivory, Cheer, and Dawn.

Those brands sound bright and happy but it’s time to look at something a little darker right now. In this next song, there are over 20 brands mentioned and once again two different topics.

This is “Drink Away the Pain” by Mobb Deep where they name drop close to a dozen brands of alcohol. They are joined by Q-tip who goes the fashion route for his verse. I wonder if you can catch all the brands mentioned in this song. We’ll come back and talk about it in more detail in just a moment.

Infamous Mobb Deep

“Drink Away the Pain” by Mobb Deep is an interesting metaphor dropping song.

Prodigy starts out by mentioning a girl that he used to date. He then compares his relationship with women to that of alcohol. He notes how he started drinking Tanqueray and then moved on to Olde English, a brand of Malt Liquor that was primarily marketed in poor black neighbourhoods at the time.

He mentions how he loves drinking more than life. His partner in rhyme, Havoc, describes how alcohol has his brain in a headlock. It’s cool to see that they aren’t merely celebrating drinking and partying in this song. They are showing the negative side that is not often seen. And despite the title of the song, they illustrate how ineffective it is to drink away the pain.

The guest artist takes a completely different path in the song. He tells his story by linking all sorts of clothing brands into his rhyme including Tommy Hilfiger, Karl Kani, Walker Wear, and more. I’ve never been much for name brand fashion but I can admit to owning some Levis back in the day and I currently am rocking a North Face ball cap.

One thing I do every day though, is start my morning with cereal. I have a feeling this next artist does the same thing. This is LL Cool J “Milky Cereal.”

LL Cool J - Mama Said

Welcome back to Know Your History. Today, we’ve been looking at songs that are filled with metaphors built upon a specific topic. You just heard “Milky Cereal” by LL Cool J and it includes 10 cereal brands.

I start my morning with cereal every single day and can honestly say I’ve had every single brand LL mentions in that song. I mean who doesn’t love Frosted Flakes, Lucky Charms, and Cheerios, especiallt the Honey Nut variety.

Book of BIG

Ruste Juxx “Scriptures from the Book of Big”

This song features almost the entire catalogue of the Notorious B.I.G. Ruste Juxx works these song titles into his narrative; Gimme The Loot, Ready to Die, Suicidal Thoughts, Me and My Bitch, One More Chance, Machine Gun Funk, Warning, Big Poppa, Juicy, Get Money, and more.

Pretty Unbelievable! (see what I did there)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at metaphor concepts in rap songs for this edition of Know Your History, your monthly dose of hip-hop knowledge.

You can download the show for free or stream it with the player below.

KYH42 Metaphor Concepts