Monday, February 28, 2011

Dropping Science - Applied Intermediate Chemistry (Part 1)

Related to Elements: All

Using the Periodic Table of Hip Hop Elements as our guide, we can define various more complex compounds of Hip Hop.

More to come!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Big Treal - RUOK?

Related to Elements: Dope, Underground Hip Hop

Just making the most of my time while stopped for a train bumping tunes.

Seriously, why isn't this song anywhere?

UPDATE:  My droid video recording of the track was not doing this dope song justice, so I put the original audio source on this new youtube version of the video.   It's just a short snippet of the song, but you'll get the drift. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mad son: Fighting the Power Since Day One

Related to Elements: Money, Beef, Conscious Hip Hop, Hip Hop Journalist

To reiterate what's stated above, this is a Hip Hop Blog; all things Hip Hop. That being said, don't mistake this post as a political post. This is no stretch; the protests in Madison is another facet of Hip Hop in action. If you think fighting the establishment for justice and equal rights is not Hip Hop, you've never really listened to the words of Public Enemy, Boogie Down Productions, 2 Pac, The Coup, Immortal Technique, X-Clan, Paris, Poor Righteous Teachers, and countless others.

I'm not going to get into the politics of left vs. right, but it all boils down to hard working blue and white collar Americans, including our teachers, transit workers, social workers, and all kinds of other civil servants, standing in the cold, fighting for the well being of their families and neighbors. They understand that what happens in Madison, after all is said and done, will happen in other states, so the fight is well beyond personal, and it has far reaching implications.

The people that are out there on the street (like the photographer of these images and activist Mike Schrader) documenting and photographing this movement are genuine Hip Hop journalists. The participants present at this week long movement (whether they like Hip Hop music or not) are participating in one of the most fundamentally positive aspects of rap; shedding light on injustice, provoking thought, prodding for change through freedom of speech and non-violent demonstrations.

(Damn the Empire!)

These Americans are actively practicing the freedom given to them by our country's forefathers. Unlike the apathetic or compliant citizens that are also either directly or indirectly affected by Governor Walker's proposed Union killer plan, these activists are anything BUT lazy. On the contrary, while they may not be at work right now, they are working harder than anyone sitting at their desk quietly mumbling under their breath about the impact this will have on the future of our nation.

Show your respect! Even if you disagree with this movement, you should support our hardest working Americans and stand up for their rights to be heard.

(Police and Firefighters are exempt from the cuts... For now.)

(short clip) Youtube Video of the honorable Rev. Jesse Jackson

"Don't put the burden of the economic collapse on our teachers' backs!" - Jesse Jackson

More news on Jesse Jackson in Madison Protest.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

DIY - Simple Record Shelves Plans

Related to Elements: DJ, Crate Digging, 12" Single

All DJs and Crate Diggers know how difficult it is to safely store their records. Record shelves can be a great way to keep the records right at your fingertips, but the ones they sell online can be extremely expensive to buy and ship. Well, put on your DIY hat, adjust your tool belt for your winter waistline, and build it yourself! You’ll save yourself all a whole lot of money that you can wisely spend on records instead. You probably have all the tools you need to do this rusting away somewhere right now.


Tools and Supplies Needed:
The Basics:
  • Pencil
  • Tape measure
  • Carpenters’ Square
  • Saw (preferably chop saw or circular saw, but a hand saw will work too if you don’t mind sweating)
  • Power Drill
  • Pilot Hole Drill Bit (recommended, else tiny drill bit will work)
  • Heavy Duty Deck Screws 3.5” or longer (preferably self-tapping so they sink in better)
  • 2X12” Wood Boards (how many depends on size you want)
Optional: (If incorporating 7 inch shelves)
  • 1X7” Wood Boards (how many depends on size you want)
  • Narrow gauge screws or small nails or glue
  • 1” chisel
Optional: (If incorporating Stack Stoppers)
  • 1” Quarter Round corner wood (size depends on how many you want)
  • Velcro pieces
Recommended: (For that clean built in look)
  • Corner Clamps or a friend (these really come in handy for holding the wood during construction)
  • Wood Glue (if using center supports)
  • Sander\Sandpaper
  • Caulk (to fill in screw holes)
  • Paint (your color of choice)
  • Felt (cut to size of shelves)
  • Sharp Scissors (to cut felt)
  • Spray Glue (for adhering felt liner) (I recommend 3M Super 77)
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Paint Thinner (for cleanup of spray glue)
  • Beer (gotta have beer for a project like this)
Do the Math
First things first! Determine the size the shelf will take up in your room. Start by measuring the footprint you want it to take up (the total width) and write it down on the printable plans. Next measure the EXACT height from floor to ceiling. Measure twice, cut once! That height will be the total height of the record shelves as it uses the floor and ceiling to prevent it from tipping over and killing you. (But damn! What a way to die, right?) Now, write down the total height on the printable plans. With those two measurements you already have all you need to determine how many pieces of wood need to be cut at what size.

For Fans of Forty Fives
You can go with or without a 7 inch shelf compartment depending on your needs. However, make sure that you allow AT LEAST 16” or more height space in order to have enough room for both levels of 7” records. This depends on your ceiling height. For example, I have a low ceiling of 77” which leaves me the bare minimum amount of space needed to incorporate a 16” tall 45 shelf. If you have 79 inch tall ceiling you can have an 18” tall 45 shelf. The higher your ceiling is, the more room you will have for your 45s.
If you decide to incorporate this 7 inch shelf, do it in the top shelf space. Each standard shelf below it will always have 13 inches of space in between each shelf to accommodate slightly larger record covers or box sets.
Using the total height and total width determined and the formulas provided on the printable plans, complete your “Cut List” so you know exactly how much wood to buy and how long to cut each piece.
(NOTE: 2X12” lumber is extremely strong, which is great because records are extremely heavy. But it will bend in the middle if the shelf itself exceeds a 4 foot wide span, so if you plan on making it wider then that you will need to cut a few 13” support pieces of 2X12” to glue and screw in the center of each shelf span for added strength)

You’ll notice the base of the shelf is the full width of the shelf. This gives the entire shelf greater stability and gets the bottom shelf a bit higher off the floor.
After all of your wood is cut to size, it’s time to start marking the side pieces for easy shelf alignment. On both sides of each side piece (T1 and T2 on the printable plans) using your trusty carpenters square, clearly mark out where each shelf should be, again spacing out each 1 ½” shelf every 13”. (So it should get a mark in this pattern. 1.5, 13, 1.5, 13, until you get to the top shelf which is spaced again more then 13 depending on the height of your ceiling.) Ultimately the span between the top shelf (S2) and (S1) is the only span that will not be 13”.
Then with your pencil, mark circles where you want to drill the pilot holes. Space them out a bit, I’d recommend 4-5 screws per shelf side. Start drilling pilot holes. Keep the drill bit plum.

After each hole is drilled, you are ready to start constructing each layer from the bottom up. Corner clamps or friends really come in handy during this phase. So do those 13” support 2X12”s if they are cut perfectly they will hold up each successive shelf for you as you drive the screws in. Drill in each screw until the head sinks into the wood deeply. This will give it the most strength and allow you to putty or caulk over the holes when you are finished building it.
After each piece of 2X12” is in it’s proper position you should have a steady and heavy built-in shelf. Make sure the base is secured and it is snugly compressed by the floor and ceiling. If necessary screw it into the ceiling or floor or wall, make sure this behemoth doesn’t move at all.
At this point, if you want a utilitarian shelf only, without any of the fixin’s, you are done! However, I recommend you go on to the next step if you don’t want it to look unfinished.

Lipstick and Makeup
Caulk or putty the screw holes. Wait until it dries and sand until holes are invisible. Sand all surfaces lightly to get rid of slivers. Clean off with damp cloth, and paint it any color. Depending on how well the paint soaked in you may want to apply a second coat. If you really want to dress it up you can wrap a little trim around the bottom and molding around the ceiling, then it will truly be a built in.

Shelf Liners

This next step I highly recommend because it will prevent wear and tear on your records’ spines from simply sliding the records in and out. Cut pieces of felt to the lengths and widths of each shelf. (Use rubber gloves for this next part) Sparingly spray the back of the felt and the three surfaces of the wood that will touch your records (not the underside of the shelves obviously) with spray glue. Carefully adhere the felt to the shelf surface and quickly remove any wrinkles before the glue dries. It only takes about 30 seconds for the glue to set, so again a friend might come in handy for the longer spans. This is a messy job, you will definitely need paint thinner or mineral spirits to clean up afterward. If you are doing the 7 inch add on, don’t line the top shelf with felt until the next step is complete.
Optional 7 inch compartments
Depending on the span of the distance between S1 and S2 (again you need 16” minimum to proceed) cut your 1X7” pieces to fit using the formulas provided on the printable plans.

Starting with the vertical supports, (A1 and A2 on the printable plans) use your square and pencil to divide the wood into 4 identically sized quarters. Since the wood is 1” thick you’ll need to cut out an inch wide slot for the intersection of the horizontal run connection it makes. Repeat these same steps with the horizontal shelves. (G on the printable plans) Make sure your measurements are precise on these cuts or it won’t fit properly.
Finally, glue or screw them at their intersection and you have a sturdy little divider that slides right in place. Secure it with wood glue, adhere the remaining felt and it’s complete!

Stack Stoppers?

This will prevent your stacks of records from sliding apart at the bottom. Stick a little Velcro on the bottom of a 12” long quarter round piece of wood and it will stick to the felt bottom perfectly. As your collection grows, you pick it up and move it on down the line.
Well that is unless you want to build a beer holder for the side, if so you can get the plans for it right here.

UPDATE: 4-6-2011 

Money Saving Tip:
For those on a budget, instead of using one long 2X12" piece of wood for the base you could save a few bucks by building the base out of several 2X4" pieces.

Time Saving Tip:

To save a little bit of time and energy, before cutting any of the wood, paint it or stain it on a saw horse or work bench.  It's easier to paint several long pieces of wood on a bench then it is to paint the fully erected shelf.  Also, apply the felt before cutting the wood too.  It's easier to cut felt in one long strip then multiple sections for each shelf dimension.  Then after the wood is painted and felt applied, cut the wood and touch up paint as needed. 

Share your progress and pics of the finished shelves:
Mike sent me some pictures of his shelves he built using these plans.  Instead of painting them like I did, he bought higher quality wood and stained and added clear coat.  As you can see, it looks great.  

Thanks, Mike, for sharing these photos! 

UPDATE: 2-25-2016

I keep getting great feedback and photos of variations of these record shelving plans.  Please keep sending me your pictures of how it turned out, I love seeing them!   So thanks for the update Craig!

Craig Blackburn Jr's 2 Tier Record Shelf / Console Variation

Please keep the questions and pictures coming if you have them.  Thanks! - rchecka


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Definition of an Era: Old School Hip Hop 1979 - 1986

Related to Elements: Old School, DJ, MC, Golden Age

Old School Hip Hop is gone; dead and buried. Rest in Peace! Hip Hop scholars know that, part-timers know that, your mom knows that. Yet public perception of when Old School Hip Hop began and when it ended seems to be divided into two distinct schools of thought. For some it all boils down to their own personal experience, their age, what they were listening to back in High School. In other words, they take the egocentric stance that if they were bumping it in their ride on the way to the prom, it's Old School Hip Hop in their world. Then there are the other guys, those pesky sticklers of reality, who think that Old School Hip Hop was an specific Hip Hop era, the era that started it all, and it ended in 1986.

Q: "Wait, Why 1986?" "Why not 1984 or 1988? You saying Eminem ain't Old School!?"

It all started with element one; the DJ, specifically one DJ; Kool Herc. If Hip Hop was Christianity, Kool Herc would be Christ. And just like Christianity, only Herc and his apostles (the B-Boys and B-Girls and early MCs) witnessed Hip Hop's birth first hand. Prior to 1979, relatively speaking, this was a small group of lucky individuals who witnessed Hip Hop. Small pockets of trueschoolers consisting of aspiring Hip Hop DJs, MCs, graph writers, and their fans popped up in the early to late seventies in other urban areas, but it was unarguably Kool Herc who owned Hip Hop in the seventies, he was Hip Hop almost exclusively. (Help Kool Herc get well soon!)

That music, the artwork, and the street dance of the earliest Old School Hip Hop all contributed to a Hip Hop culture explosion that went global by 1979. Hip Hop literally went viral that year because for the first time ever, anyone with a record player in their home could witness Hip Hop with their own ears. '79 was the same year Fatback "King Tim III" (the first recorded Hip Hop vinyl record) dropped, and soon after the first rap hit single "Rappers Delight" by the Sugar Hill Gang blew up the airwaves. Finally, Hip Hop was accessible to the masses outside the Bronx. 1979 was the first year of Old School Hip Hop* for "the rest of us". (*Unless you were one of the "lucky ones" who witnessed Herc's now famous block parties first hand.) If you were one of the original B-Boys who saw it all go down in the beginning, Old School Hip Hop started back in your hood back in the early seventies, but for the remaining Hip Hop masses, it started with that one 12" single, or that other one, either way in 1979.

A: From 1979 through 1986, the recordings of Hip Hop music evolved fairly gradually. As with all music, there were many distinct sounding, noteworthy singles, and many of those records became widely popular despite the plethora of non Hip Hop artists jumping on the Hip Hop band wagon. Nonbelievers compared this Hip Hop music explosion to disco, something that everyone wanted to do until it became saturated nonsense; a self-imploding parody of itself that would die in one or two years. By 1985 the writing was on the wall about the inevitability of Hip Hop's drastic reinvention. Sugar Hill Records went bankrupt that year, and Beat Boxing pioneer Doug E Fresh dropped the gold record hit "The Show" proving that sometimes you only need a mic to make a good beat. B-Boyism started to go into a lull as kids started saying things like, "Breakin' is out". Graffiti also seemed to being falling out of popularity. Meanwhile, early innovative MCs, DJs, and producers ignored the naysayers as they continued to push the boundaries of the music form. The Old School Hip Hop sound was gradually dying as new techniques and new concepts in rhyme and rhythm emerged.

In 1986, the Golden Age of Hip Hop was just around the corner. Just as Old School Hip Hop exploded into the scene in 1979, it blew up again in 1986, particularly after the Old School pioneers Run DMC dropped the seminal "Walk This Way" video on MTV. This unheard of marriage of Rock N Roll and Hip Hop changed the music game drastically almost overnight. Ironically, the same naysayers that predicted an early end to Hip Hop were suddenly jamming out to Aerosmith and Run DMC, injecting that this one special song was a one-off exception, adding that Hip Hop would still die soon regardless. But 1986 was also the year the Beastie Boys released their first album "License to Ill", which was yet another sign that Hip Hop stereotypes were breaking down, rules were changing, the sound was changing. Suddenly it seemed more acceptable for white kids across the world to listen to urban music invented by (and to this day, still dominated by) black musicians. This drastic change marked the end of the Old School Hip Hop days.

Other Hip Hop game-changers that were dropped in 1986:

  • Eric B and Rakim - "Eric B. is President" (another unarguably relevant and distinct Hip Hop single.)
  • MC Shan's "The Bridge" (One of the longest running Hip Hop beefs ever sparked.)
  • Ultramagnetic MCs "Ego Trippin" (Golden Age pioneers' debut single.)
  • Schoolly D "PSK-What does it mean" (Independent MC drops what some call the first gangster rap single.)
  • Run DMC "My Adidas" (Rappers freely endorse a product out of love for the sneakers giving birth to the first name brand element.)
  • Just Ice "Cold Gettin Dumb" (Just Ice's signature rhyme flow over Mantronix's monster beats helps usher in the Golden Age of Hip Hop.)

In a nutshell, Old School Hip Hop began as an explosion. It started with a big bang in 1979. Yes, the fuse was lit by Kool Herc, prior to that when he built the bomb with his own two hands, but it blew up in 1979. Old School Hip Hop ended with an even bigger explosion when 1986 brought definitive Hip Hop game-changers, Run DMC and the Beastie Boys.

For those obsessed with reminiscing about the glorious Old School Hip Hop days, you can blame those two crews for personally killing Old School Hip Hop. Granted, after 1986 certain rappers may have held on to that distinct 'fun-loving' Old School sound from years prior, but soon they'd learn that Hip Hop was essentially a young-man's game filled with new fans ready for the New School of thought. Ultimately these same fan's helped usher in the Golden Age of Hip Hop by seeking out and dropping their hard-earned money on these fresh New School records.

The death of the Old School era is not something that should be mourned, but instead remembered and understood. It's important to respect the architects of Hip Hop, and educate and, of course, reminisce on it. But it's not mythical. Don't expect it to come back ever again. Hip Hop has always been about survival of the fittest artists, and about the youngest and freshest contributors to the culture. It's always going to evolve in and out of new directions or new eras. To the modern day naysayers; Hip Hop's built-in ability to adapt with the times is exactly why Hip Hop will never die. If you are one of those, you and your kind have been getting it wrong for the past 31 years, and as long as fresh creative minds keep getting born, it will continue to evolve long into the future. The Old School may be dead but the New School will live forever.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Artist Direct: Normskola

Related to Elements: DJ, Underground Hip Hop, Crate Digging, Independent

Due to the magic of search engines, one of Metrowax's favorite underground\independent MCs found one of his staple tracks in the Magic Stack Vol. 1 mixtape dropped yesteryear. He called up Metrowax looking for an established place to sell his remaining sealed copies of this 'must-have' extremely rare Indie Hip Hop 12" Normskola - Half Man (see discogs entry)

I was there, I heard it go down. Wade, the owner of Metrowax, was thrown off guard by this unusual call. I was in his stockpiles of records, looking for some overlooked Hip Hop, but I could tell by his tone that he was on an important call. After I pestered him for the skinny, he shot me the evil eye and whispered "I'm on the phone!" so I let it go.

Finally, after a bit more eavesdropping I realized Normskola was asking him to host a sale of some sealed copies of his best track. Of course he was honored by the proposal, and after a bit of back and forth phone tag they agreed on a 50/50 deal.

Ironically, half of the sale's profit goes to the Half Man himself. This is one of those rare ocassions when a DJ can buy a rare record knowing that the artist responsible for the work will benefit from the sale.

Read more at the Metrowax Blog and if there's still a few left, cop one before it's gone forever.

UPDATE: 2-5-11 - To be fair to all Hip Hop diggers, Wade's gonna restock this once a day until they are all gone, that way everyone gets a chance to buy a copy. First come, first served. As of right now, (2:00 CST 2-5-11) there is one in stock. Check back tomorrow if the cop one link shows out of stock.