Saturday, June 29, 2013

Star Wars Dubstep?

I try not to post single songs too often for many reasons -it clutters up the website and doesn't provide much of any substance to our readers. However, in this case, I will allow for it. I've always wondered if some producer out there would be able to get some subgenre of electronic music together and put some good beats to Star Wars. There were a few put out when the prequel trilogy was releaesed. It usually turns out really corny. I don't even like Dub Step like at all but this works pretty well.

Wu-Tang Clan - America

So here you go with something really, really different. This track "America" by the Wu-Tang Clan comes from an anti-AIDS compilation called America Is Dying Slowly. It was released in the mid-90s from the sound of it (Organized Konfusion is also on there).

A little forgotten treasure, I'd say.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


I've been talking about doing a Blood Is One videocast for quite a while - here is the first try at it. This is a project that collaborates with Seattle area rapper Dyllyn Greenwood - the series is called Hella Filthy. We're going to try to go even better in future attempts - better questions, better locations, better everything. Thank you so much again to Dyllyn for getting this project going in the first place - I think it will only get better from here.

BTW - a little note - the music being used in this post is "Lex Luthor" - a collab that Neema did with Crooked I of Slaughterhouse and Grynch. Neema also talks about that song in the video interview.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Review Of "The Clone Wars" - With A Few Ideas

A little note: I tried adding in some Star Wars images so that this article would be less wordy. It didn't work out. We have to go with this, I guess.

I received a copy of the fourth season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars for my birthday. I have only watched the series sporadically since the initial movie that came out but wow, was it good.

The character development in The Clone Wars is really good. Really good. While a huge level of Star Wars books and comic books delved in to the worlds that George Lucas created, when it came to television or movies we were usually stuck with what Lucas gave us. That meant being stuck with tacky lines like "I'm Luke Skywalker, I'm here to rescue you!" and "You are so beautiful..."

Both the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy are a bit one dimensional in that regard. The Clone Wars is really amazing - with the return of Darth Maul in Season Four, we get to empathize and go deep in to the backstory of Palpatine's first apprentice in a way we never got to even the most significant characters of the original trilogy (Despite the significance of Harrison Ford's character Han Solo in the original trilogy, we don't find out much about who he really is, how he became a smuggler, how he met Chewbacca, etc.).

There is development also of a series that would take place after 2005's Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and before the Original Trilogy and if Clone Wars is any sign of what is to come, that should be awesome. Unlike Star Trek, which gave us television shows in which to explore the universe that Gene Roddenberry created, we have been pretty limited in scope to what we get to see with Star Wars. As interesting as the world Lucas created is, we never really got to see beyond his limited presentation of it. With the sale of Star Wars to Disney, we will finally get to see others - who, to put it bluntly, may have better writing abilities - play around in his sandbox and present the worlds that Lucas created.

One of the biggest problems with The Clone Wars and what left me scratching my chin the most was the role of Ahsoka Tono. Ahsoka is Anakin Skywalker's padawan learner in the events leading up to Revenge of the Sith. The movies show us a twisted element of Anakin who, while childish and lovelike at times, is most reminiscent of something from A Clockwork Orange. Anakin helps to kill almost all of the Jedi once he turns to the Dark Side - since Ahsoka doesn't show up in the Original Trilogy, we must assume she is killed as well.

There have been many articles written about how the continuity mess Ahsoka presents should be handled - some presented ridiculous suggestions like that the Clone Wars series should not be "canon" ("canon" being a term for in the continuity of Star Wars). Since George Lucas himself is heavily involved in the series, that idea seems just really ridiculous and a bit insulting to people who have enjoyed this series.

The best idea, in my personal view, would be to have the films and this series overlap. Depict many of the events in Revenge of the Sith in the show - albeit from the point of view of Ahsoka. As Anakin's padawan and someone who trusted and loved Anakin, it would especially be heartbreaking for her to see Anakin fall the way that he did. Ahsoka either escaping, so that she could play a future role in Star Wars projects, or taking on Anakin in his full blown Darth Vader stage would be an amazing continuation of the saga.

A Q&A With Blogger Latanya Barrett

It looks like we have a Q&Aathon going here at Blood Is One. First journalist/commentator Michael Gural-Maiello and now here is a brief talk with Latanya Rene Barrett. Barrett runs a culture blog called Sprinkles and Booze, which tends to cover pop music, entertainment and often takes on a 1990s nostalgia POV. Barrett has been very successful for a blogger - she has contributed to The Huffington Post and successfully monetized her website. 

(BTW - A note to readers: I am very well aware of the weird color tones in this post. I didn't do it on purpose but I actually think it works well and wasn't really worth the effort of altering.)

Here goes with the questions:

What inspired the title "Sprinkles and Booze?"

I dreamt it! I literally woke up one morning and thought "Sprinkles and Booze" and told a friend that it was the first thing I thought of when I woke up. She replied with "That should be your blog name!" and I thought it was brilliant and meant to be. 

Sprinkles and Booze focuses alot on your personal views about music, fashion, etc. Is there anything you try to focus on in order to get the attention of other readers?

When I started Sprinkles and Booze, it was meant to be mainly a lifestyle/social blog. As I am advancing in my blogging career, other areas and concepts were born. For example, I am VERY much so into event planning and design. I will be focusing more on events and celebrating life as Sprinkles and Booze moves along. It will also have the lifestyle of a professional party thrower aspect. So it will in fact be a lifestyle blog that heavily focuses on celebration, living life to the fullest, and my views on the wacky but wonderful world we live in. 

What inspired the layout/design of Sprinkles and Booze?

I follow loads of blogs and there is an overall theme I love within all of them. I love colors, I love the easy to read layouts, and I love images that grab my attention. When coming up with the layout and overall theme of my blog, I went with something that was easy on the eye but interesting. I wanted the colors to suit sprinkles AND booze. I feel like it does it well without being over the top. 

Are you using your blog as a launching pad in to any other areas of life? How so?

Yes! My blog will be the brand and face of my professional party throwing. I will showcase anyone's event that I plan and will use it to give exposure to everyone else involved. Whether it be a caterer or a photographer! I love showcasing talented people because they deserve it. 

You've done podcasts with other bloggers through Huffington Post and also have a healthy array of advertisers. Was there anything particular you did that you think made you succeed in social networking online?

I talk...a lot. I would say I spent 80% of my blogging career talking to people. The more you reach out and speak to people one on one the more great opportunities come up. You never know who can help you and win. I firmly believe we are all in this together and as many people there are in the world there are that many opportunities. It definitely gives me the energy to keep on truckin' and living out my dreams. 

A Q&A With Awesome Author Michael Gural-Maiello

Buy Michael Gural-Maiello's new book Shuts and Failures!

Michael Gural-Maiello is an accomplished published author, as I will not in this interview, he has written for Esquire and Forbes and has encouraged Blood Is One in its growth and maturity as a website. He has just self published a book called Shuts and Failures, which is filled with material that apparently was rejected from the big publishers. Given his penchant for humor and pop culture and Blood Is One expanded its reach in the realm of pop culture coverage, it really seemed like a no brainer to do an interview with him. Maiello thought much the same thing so... Here goes! 

You're pretty accomplished of a writer - Esquire and Forbes don't exactly accept just anyone. Why do you think the material for "Shuts and Failures" wasn't accepted?

I don't feel like an "accomplished writer."  I feel like a practiced beginner.  I've been publishing journalism since I was 15, when I worked as a stringer for the now sadly defunct afternoon newspaper The Albuquerque Tribune.  I have published articles and essays and op-eds in a lot of venues, and I have a few published and produced plays, but I have never had the success I've craved writing fiction (short or long) and humor pieces.

Look, when everything was rejected you have to allow that maybe they suck. I did not want to foist refuse on people.  So I have performed most of these pieces in public forums, largely in front of strangers.  I made sure they worked in front of an audience and that I stood in front of that audience to take it if they flopped.  Some rejected pieces did not make the cut.  Some of them did, in fact, suck.

As for the pieces that did not suck but were rejected:

I've been told by a staffer at The New Yorker that it's never going to happen by me submitting to them.  They call you, is the line.  Why would they call me when they can call Lena Dunham or Simon Rich, who have names and real projects and are a draw?  Because I'm funnier, is why, damn it!  That, apparently, is not an answer.

As for McSweeney's -- I think it's heavy, heavy competition.  I love the Internet Tendency.  It cracks me up more often than not.  But they have seen, and receive, so much quality material.  The editor is friendly and encouraging, but hasn't said "yes" yet.

I guess not everything finds a home just because it works.  So, sometimes you make the home.

What made you want to put a Hulk action figure dueling it out with Elmo on the cover?

I don't see why most other books don't have Elmo being beaten up by a super hero on the cover.  The Eyes of T.J. Eckleberg could vaporize Elmo on The Great Gatsby.  Dr. Doom could have one of his robots crush Elmo on the cover of Paul Krugman's End This Depression Now!

I have a three year old son who discovered (um, okay, I showed it to him) the Super Hero Squad.  I started buying him the action figures.  But also, he had this Elmo, who I decided was evil.  Then I started taking pictures of various little heroes and villains fighting Elmo.  These all went on my Facebook page.  Finally, I needed a book cover and it just seemed like a great way to end that series of bad photography.

Also, you'd buy a book if Hulk said to, right?

How have your fans responded to this new book?

The ebook world is very crowded.  I'm thrilled to have found a small and supportive audience.  I am very confident that people will like Shuts & Failures if they'll give it a chance. Those who have taken the very short plunge seem not to be worse off for it.

Are there tips you have for writers or other professionals on moving on from rejection?

I wish I was that guy who moves on from rejection.  I'll be bluntly honest here.  It enrages me and I don't move on from it at all.  I go through periods where a whole other big green monster takes over.  I get very jealous.  One thing about the arts is that while you're trying to do it, you see everyone else succeed around you and you see people getting behind others.  In 2013, nothing goes unnoticed.  We know who everybody's parents are (pro tip: everybody is a Coppola).  We know if they grew up rich or not.  We know who is getting a helping hand and who isn't.  That's life, but it's infuriating, sometimes.

I don't think it's about moving on from rejection.  It's about not accepting it.  The pieces don't die in a drawer because somebody else won't publish them for me, nor will I stop talking about them.

Is writing for book publication more difficult than for magazine publication? How so?

At a magazine there are editors and copy editors and a whole apparatus that helps convince you that what you're doing has merit.  You propose the idea.  It's accepted.  You execute it.  It's edited. Maybe there's some back and forth.  With Shuts and Failures I hired Vook to actually put it into ebook format and the guy their told me how much he liked the content but, you know, I'm paying them so what's he going to say?  I was responsible for copy-editing, cover design, contents and all of that.  I used to write for a really good zine in the 90s called Aiding and Abetting and it was good because they avoided looking like it was amateur hour.  I really worried over bothering my friends to fork over $2 to get an electronic file full of typos in return.  If you're doing your own ebook, all the professionalism is on you.

But, from the experiences of my friends who have dealt with commercial publishers... should you be so lucky, assume nothing. They will copy edit the manuscript but you'd better copy edit it too.  You can't trust anyone to care about your own stuff the way you do.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pharoahe Monch "Black Hand Side" Music Video feat. Styles P & Phonte

It looks like this video from the brilliant Pharoahe Monch came out while Blood Is One was out of commission for over a year. Pharoahe's verse "Multiple skins but your blood is one" from his song "Shine" is the basis of this website as a concept and his last album W.A.R. was a really strong effort. I hope to see more from him in the future.

Shoutout To JFK

JFK - a solo artist, member of the group Th3rdz and founding member of Grayskul and Seattle rap network Oldominion - is grinding extra hard, promoting work with several groups at once. Be sure to go out and buy his albums, add him on Facebook and let him know his hard work is appreciated.

Behind Blood Is One

This post is an explanation as to who is behind Blood Is One and the concept behind the website. It will replace the original post on the subject.

The Staff/Contributors Behind Blood Is One:

Michael Powell/Orion - Powell has been doing music themed journalism for years - since the early 2000s. He has contributed to Seaspot Magazine, the Pacific Publishing Company,, the San Francisco Examiner, United Liberty and other publications. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from California State University - East Bay. He started in Blood Is One in late 2011 but started the process of relaunching it in early 2013 - the process of finding a new writing voice and a new voice for a fast changing rap world was difficult.

Jeff Abplanalp - Abplanalp is a friend of Blood Is One's founder, going back to 1999. He has designed most of Blood Is One's visuals - the banner, the layout, etc. He has been invaluable in getting the site back off the ground and has been on location during many of the website's video shoots.

Dyllyn Greenwood - Greenwood is a local rapper in the Seattle area. Greenwood is the brains behind Blood Is One's upcoming video projects and has a pretty healthy idea of what he wants to see hip-hop journalism look like. We're really excited to have him on board with us.

Keith C. Ancker - Acker was the founder's editor while working at Seaspot Magazine in the early 2000s. Ancker is a prolific writer who can bounce from music coverage to libertarian politics. Ancker's contributions so far have been top notch - we really look forward to having him on board for the long haul. No matter what his contribution level to this website ends up being, Ancker is integral to the site's existence - when the founder suffered a nervous breakdown, it was Ancker who lobbied him to get things moving again.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Electric Daisy Carnival

My friend Keith C. Ancker wrote this piece about the Electric Daisy Carnival - a big festival of electronic music in Las Vegas. The theme park element seems like a bit of a no-brainer - I remember going to Universal Studios in Florida when I was a teenager, it had much the same appeal of any good music concert - you're taken away from the bullshit of normal human life and in to a fantasy world of aesthetic and auditory fun. The festival itself is in Las Vegas, which is a giant adult theme park. Even if Vegas is deemed "Sin City" and is the home of a great deal of human vices, it really appeals as an escape from the sludge and dehumanization of most of human life.

I think the same elements are in festivals like Burning Man - human beings talk alot about growing up and shedding all the silly stuff they liked as a kid but they still seek out those same coping devices.

It’s a bit of an effort to describe to someone who hasn’t been there. No matter how incredible the words, no matter how many stories you tell, no matter how many outfits and costumes you show them pictures of, no matter how bright you tell them the lights were, no matter how loud you say the music was…it simply doesn’t convey the sheer magnitude of the sensory overload someone experiences at Electric Daisy Carnival(EDC). This is it. This is the biggest, loudest, most beautiful, shiniest party in the world.

For the three days over the weekend of June 21-23, the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, all 1,200 or so acres of it, will be transformed into an electronic music wonderland, a separate reality where the outside world simply does not matter anymore. Three hundred thousand-plus dedicated party people in every sort of outfit and every color of neon wig, kicking up a cloud of glitter & rainbows as they descend on Vegas for what promises, once again, to be an epic event. It promises the sort of transcendental experience that manages to reaffirm your faith that the world isn’t a bad place.

Far from being complacent, and relying prior years’ successes to satisfy the crowds this year, Pasquale Rotella, the owner of Insomniac, has promised and paid for an even more ridiculous weekend:

“It’s a $35 million show and the largest percentage of that money goes toward the production. We’re stepping it up and presenting things that you’ve never seen before. We’re creating an environment along the lines of what you see at a theme park — but on an even larger scale.”

As with last year, you can expect the over the top spectacle of hundreds of art installations, pyrotechnics shows, and carnival rides, games, performers and diversions. And music. A serious number of amazing sets from the biggest and best in the world: Tiësto, Avicii, Calvin Harris, and Armin Van Buuren are headlining, supported by Empire of the Sun, Skrillex, Major Lazer, Afrojack, Boys Noize, A-Trak, Rusko, Booka Shade, La Roux, AraabMUZIK, Richie Hawtin, Carl Cox, Knife Party, The Bloody Beetroots, Kaskade, Sasha, Steve Angello, Dillon Francis, Zeds Dead, Benny Benassi, Hardwell, Eric Prydz, Baauer, Wolfgang Gartner, Above & Beyond, Sander Van Doorn, Fedde Le Grand, Porter Robinson, Crookers, 12th Planet, Thomas Gold, Just Blaze, Flosstradamus…I can go on, but you get the point. Just about everybody you could want to see in 2013 is going to be there.

As incredible as the festival itself is, everything surrounding EDC has become an event of its own, with Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman pronouncing June 18-24 to be Electric Daisy Carnival Week. The parties, events, and spectacle of EDC will be running full power the whole seven days.

One of the more anticipated events is Bassrush’s invasion of Sin City. On June 20, they’ll be taking over Beachlife! At the Hard Rock Café & Casino for what will be a first: a drum & bass and dubstep day party leading up to the Bassrush Massive with headliner Andy C that night at the Orleans Arena. Consider it a heavy warm up for the weekend’s main event.

Another outstanding feature will be the three-day EDMbiz conference at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Kicking off Tuesday night with a networking party, and continuing the next two days with industry and artist panels, the EDMbiz conference is a must-attend for anyone interested in the business and culture of EDM.

In addition, well, Vegas is still Vegas. The city will be crawling with people who couldn’t get in, people recharging away from the main event, and people who just figured it would be fun to be there while all this was going on.

Expect to find big names and legendary acts popping up in the best clubs in the city. With that much talent in town, there are going to be some unbelievable shows going down. Crazy happens, like Knife Party and Afrojack deciding to join the Bingo Players on stage at Surrender last year, which as you might imagine, led to a energetic, amazing night for everyone lucky enough to be there.

And that’s EDC in a nutshell. Everything you love, every song you obsess over, every neon-lit dreamland of music & dancing, when you plug into the crowd and you’re all connected in that same incredible moment.

~~Keith Ancker

Friday, June 21, 2013

Kanye West's Cruel Summer

I may have to take back what I say about Yeezy. This compilation - Cruel Summer - that he helped put together last year is actually really, really good. His verses on "New God Flow" are pretty on point too. I'm not sure why his new album is such trash, though. Cruel Summer is for a hardcore rap audience, though - it's hipsters who buy his albums.


A little more - this is really nice:


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Grayskul - "Come On" - Zenith Coming Sept. 2013

New Eminem - Symphony In H

Content warning - this is very sexist.

Kanye West, Michael Jackson And Insanity

Life is hard. It is hard for everyone. It is even hard for celebrities. Despite quite a bit of monetary success and an illusion of security in that regard at least, celebrities often have serious problems - problems they may not have had while they were lesser known. The eye is always on them - making many celebrities develop image problems they wouldn't otherwise have.

Drugs invade their life - their newfound wealth allows for a drug temptation that they simply wouldn't be able to afford otherwise. People are jealous of them, there are demands from others that they never would have had while poor or middle class. The expectations of a repeat of whatever made them famous in the first place are very high. A mix of that and the loss of his mother in a botched surgery years ago seems to be plaguing Kanye West. Whatever it is, it's really bad. The music that Kanye has released to us is really bad in every sense of the word. People who went along with it should feel guilty for not intervening with a man who is obviously not well.

  My last essay on Kanye was pretty successful - even with a non-music audience over at the political website Dagblog. I got 226 views. People seemed to like it. I may be on to something here. Kanye West, with Yeezus, has released the worst hip-hop album ever made and possibly one of the worst pop albums in recent history.

 Alot of celebrities have problems. Elton John, Hulk Hogan, Halle Berry and Eminem all have admitted to entertaining suicidal thoughts or coming close to or even attempting it. The latter nearly died - his dark stage after losing his best friend Proof to a gun fight really sent him in to a dark world. Life is hard for everyone. 

But with Eminem is a significant difference from Kanye. If you search around for it, you can find alot of unreleased music that Eminem recorded while he was in "a dark place" - it leaked but never got officially released. Throughout all of it he talks about feeling like he's going crazy ("The Apple") or worrying about what his daughter would think. On "Going Through Changes," he raps about becoming overweight from binge eating but we never see pictures of that. While he may be a little nutty, he seems always to be keeping himself afloat to a degree. Kanye doesn't have this at all.

Maybe it's drugs? I'm not sure - Marshall was on plenty of drugs as well. Kanye seems unaware that he is becoming very strange. He seems unaware that people don't like his behavior. He seems unaware of many things. His appearances with Kim Kardashian look like he is in another world entirely. His bizarre and scary music isn't like the unreleased work of Eminem - it is more like the weird, scary work that Michael Jackson released starting with Dangerous like "Blood On The Dance Floor:"


 The titles are even similar - while Michael put out a song called "Blood On The Dance Floor," Kanye released "Blood On The Leaves" with his new album Yeezus. Both got ridiculously egotistical - while Michael literally had a statue of himself built, Kanye is making albums with titles like Yeezus and song titles like "I Am A God." Both were and are seriously mentally ill and somewhat unaware of it. MJ seemed to treat his problems with ridiculous levels of drugs - it's very possible Kanye is doing the same, instead of facing them head on and changing - the only real cure.

 Like MJ's "Blood On The Dance Floor," Kanye's new music is really creepy and uncomfortable to listen or watch to. It sounds like some sort of torture. Isn't torture illegal? Why did people go to jail for Abu Gharib and Kanye gets off putting out music like this? It doesn't have the entertainment value that creepy music like Rob Zombie, Nine Inch Nails or Marilyn Manson has. "Black Skinhead" sounds like Nine Inch Nails if Nine Inch Nails wasn't good. It's just creepy and scary.

 Someone in Kanye's camp would be wise to intervene. We need the Kanye who gave us "Jesus Walks," beat out 50 Cent in sales and produced hits for Dilated Peoples and Common back.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

That Doo Bop Sound: Remembering Miles Davis

Miles Davis really was one of the best musicians we've ever seen in our popular culture. Right before he passed away, when he surely was not in the best physical state, Miles produced this song "The Doo-Bop Song" - a song that miraculously took the best of his talent and made it flow in to the new, growing genre of hip-hop. Remember what came before.

Miles Davis knew what hip-hop is at its core - it is an outgrowth of jazz. Even if it's gone in weird directions, that is what it is at its center. Great rappers like Mos Def (now Yasiin Bey) have played on this - the sound of trumpets and horns actually flows in hip-hop as if they're designed to:


 I think alot of rappers and hip-hop artists know this on a deep level. Hip-hop as it was at its epoch is over - and maybe that is for the best. Rapping will never go away and will be a part of a more well rounded world of R&B. Nas seemed to get this with his album Life Is Good - Miles' horn would have been a worthy ingredient to his song "You Wouldn't Understand:"


The Field performs "Over the Ice" at Pitchfork Music Festival 2012

Madchild's Rebirth

Swollen Members is one of my favorite rap groups of all time, certainly from the Northwest area. There was a time when they were actually the most successful Canadian rap group - I never saw it but I heard about billboards for their albums spotlighting the Vancouver, B.C. skyline. Their height was somewhere in the mid-2000s - not much has been heard from them since that epoch. Back in 2003, they were producing songs with artists like Nelly Furtado.

Time has passed. During that time, it appears the main guy from the group, Madchild, has had some serious drug problems. This doesn't make him unique - Eminem, Macklemore and yours truly have all dealt with that - perhaps it's part of being bonafide in the rap world? Seattle rapper Carl Roe told me once about his rap efforts being derailed by drugs as well - it's a common problem. Whatever hell he went through, Madchild is back - for the first time as a solo artist. He has a mixtape up on DatPiff and has produced videos for at least a dozen of the songs. His YouTube account is vibrant and productive. 

Madchild actually lives up to his name quite a bit more in some of these videos than did as the Swollen Members leading man - his creepy stare in "Fuck Madchild" is really intense - with black and white editing that seems almost designed to make him seem off putting. The song itself introduces Madchild as not as polished as he may have been at the height of Swollen Members' success. There's no Moka Only or Nelly Furtado singing the hook and the intro where he seems off put when someone informs him he has to pay taxes shows that Madchild might be closer to loserhood than he was a couple years ago. You wonder if his name dropping Eminem protege Yelawolf is a hint at hoping to get back in to the rap game somehow.


Then there is the video, and this one is an actual video, for "Devil's Reject." It's a much different world than 2003 and one can now, if they have the resources, film a video that will go in any sort of direction without worrying about censorship and anything more than a few bad comments on YouTube. "Devil's Reject" is hardcore horrorcore - in the manner of songs like Eminem's "3 A.M." or JFK's "Paranoid." Madchild is naturally a gruff looking guy and the aging process, more tattoos and a weirdly successful attempt at appearing like Gary Ridgeway works in this video. Horrorcore is an absurd subgenre of hip-hop - somewhat like the equivalent of death metal. Please take it in jest and not too seriously.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Notorious B.I.G, Coolio, Redman, Busta Rhymes, Bone Thugs & More.. - Poi...

I really try to keep from posts that don't have much to say but this one is really amazing. I never knew Coolio flowed like this and certainly never saw him alongside B.I.G. It came from an account for "VintageHipHopSeattle" - worth following since the Seattle hip-hop scene is certainly on the rise.

Kanye West Is Deranged And Needs Help

This Kanye album, Yeezus, is some disturbing, deranged shit. I've listened to alot of music that is, to put it bluntly, creepy. I've seen Gary Numan and Nine Inch Nails perform. I saw Eminem when he was throwing blow up dolls of his wife out in to an audience. Marilyn Manson, Rammstein, all of that, but this is really disturbing music on a level of disturbed that those guys would never accomplish. Watch the video - it's hard to really describe how bizarre Kanye has become in words:

I listened to all of his album in its entirety. Kanye seriously needs some help. I have heavily criticized modern treatments for mental illness but that doesn't mean that mental illness is not real - just that the way we deal with and treat it is seriously flawed. Yeezus is one of the worst, most nihilistic albums I've ever heard. I didn't really know it was possible for our culture to go as low as to produce garbage like this but apparently it has.

One could say that there has always been a degree of nihilism in hip-hop as a genre and maybe that is true. Before, however, it had a tinge of hope to it - Tupac would rap about his mother, heaven, getting out of the ghetto, etc., 50 Cent was really pursuing "what's mine" - his materialism was a reflection of society's values, Eminem loaded some pretty vulgar stuff with humor, devotion to his children and a good musical sound.

Nothing about Kanye as he is now is good. His image is empty and void, with a dedication to a spouse he is obviously not very in to, his performances are bizarre - with haunted eyes and the presence of weird attire like a leather skirt. Some of the lyrics on here are genuinely offensive, and that's from someone who has listened to ALOT of rap music - "I'll put my fist in her like a civil rights sign" and another verse about being dead so get Tupac on the phone. I don't know the exact lyrics because this album is bullshit that I don't want to hear again.

Why this sudden shift toward darkness? Right after his 2007 album Graduation, Kanye West's mother Donda passed from botched breast augmentation surgery. The two were very close - he dedicated songs to her before her passing. Ever since then, Kanye and his music have gotten weirder, more demented and a bit more scary. I think he needs to take a break for his own mental health. Believe me, it does work - I did it. I spent well over a year only writing periodically and rethinking what I thought of myself and my relation to the world around me. Alot of people have. Life is hard.

No one will blame you, Kanye. Who knows - after a year or two totally out of the public eye, spent focusing on your newborn baby girl, you will come back the Kanye who made "Jesus Walks," produced Common's Be album and beat 50 Cent in a sales war. Fatherhood may give you a whole new world of artistic inspiration. With alot of your antics and album titles like Yeezus and song titles like "I Am A God" - it's pretty obvious that whatever is plaguing you mentally has alot to do with some serious self-absorption. A daughter is the perfect opportunity to stop focusing on yourself and focus on the needs of someone else. Just stop doing what you are currently doing.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Blood Is One Showcase: Kenan Bell Keeps It Going

Blood Is One worked with Kenan Bell when we started up back in 2011. Alot of stuff happened in my personal life that made that fruitful relationship cut short. Anyways, Bell's success moved on even as this site stagnated and as Blood Is One recovers, I thought it prudent to showcase what he has been up to.

"Like This" is not only a top notch song - Bell goes all out with an artful and creative video.

There's an element in religiosity in all of Bell's songs and "Dear God" recalls Kanye West's "Jesus Walks" from all the way back in 2004. Could we say Kanye style success?

A little more - "400 Degrees" is more traditional hip-hop with a touch of Bell's unique style:

To hear the music we did with him back in 2011, hear it is:

A little more:

Scarface Vs. Van She

I never would have connected Van She and Scarface but - call me crazy - that is the same beat isn't it?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Mos Def = Yasiin Bey?

I finally got to listening to "Yasiin Bey" - Mos Def's new alter ego now that he's Muslim (or something, he's been Muslim for years).

First thought: This is just terrible. What the hell happened?

It's unfortunate especially to see Malcolm X used in such a garbage music video.

But first thoughts aren't always right. It's not all bad. At all. Just really, really strange. Here's him rapping over a variation of what sounds like either the Kill Bill or a Clint Eastwood soundtrack:

Long intro but I have to admit - that beat is ridiculous. Again, it gets better:

It's a very mixed bag. It takes a bit to really get the hang of all of it because it sounds really different but Mos (I'm gonna keep calling him that) is still making legitimate hip-hop and pushing the genre to its creative limits:

He elaborates on his name change in this bit with the Brooklyn Philharmonic:

The big problem with his Yasiin Bey work, and it's been a problem with each of his albums since Black on Both Sides, is that it doesn't really sound like he is really putting much effort in to it at all. "Black Jesus," the only Yasiin Bey that looks like it has been formally released, is fun to listen to but there is no way it took more than a day to come up with this. Where are the thought provoking lyrics of "Beef" or "Mr. Nigga?"

Hot Women Eating Spaghetti: Grum - Can't Shake This Feeling

This video is brilliant. Not only is it a video for a pretty stellar house beat by Grum that features a bunch of attractive young women eating mountains of food, it ends with a sequence in which the irate father of one of the young women searching for his daughter and threatening violence along the way. He is really pissed that her career is now eating mountains of spaghetti on camera.

"C'mon baby we're going home. You people are sick!"
"What do you want? We have plenty of spaghetti!"
This is really brilliant.
Since/while you're reading, here's some dope music in the same vein:

Blood Is One Hip-Hop Showcase: Dyllyn Greenwood

For your listening pleasure, two songs by Blood Is One affiliated artists. First, Dyllyn Greenwood with "Answers:"

And then Haze Brown, fam of our own Heathen Miller:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Introducing Tanya Taimanglo - Romance Author and Pacific Islander!

Order The Secret Shopper for print or Kindle through Blood Is One:

Blood Is One is branching out! While we started out as strictly a hip-hop blog, I am hoping to expand our reaches in to various elements of popular culture. That doesn't mean the hip-hop element is gone, by any means.

The following article is an interview with Tanya Taimanglo - Tanya has been featured in the Pacific Daily News - the primary newspaper for the island of Guam. She is a professional author of romance stories and is currently based in Everett, Washington. Interviewing her was tons of fun - she is a very outspoken gal and I hope that more is to come.

You can purchase her work from or through the Kindle version:

Seen above: Writer Tanya Taimanglo enjoying an episode of Wonder Woman with the appropriate attire.

The article that Sandy Flores Uslander wrote about you in PDN talked about you like an old friend instead of the subject of a newspaper profile. Do you often find that your readers feel that sort of familial relationship from your reading?

Sandy is indeed a friend. We worked on various Chamorro culture projects while I lived in San Diego. I felt immediately connected to her, because she was half Chamorro like me and her mother is a revered artist on Guam, Judy Flores.

I feel that my readers of Pacific heritage do indeed feel a connection to me because many aspects of our culture are similar—family, filial piety and respect being some of them.

Chamorros may not be a well known people but Pacific Islanders, especially Hawaiians, are pretty well known and romanticized. Has that played in to your career as a writer? How so?

This is true, but it’s ever changing. The more our people get out there, find success, continue with creative endeavors, the more we can redirect that spotlight. Being Chamorro hasn’t been easy (living in Anytown, USA), but it’s my life and I accept it. I’m proud to clear up someone’s ignorance on our people. Yes, I get tired of someone saying, “Wow, Guam? How did you get off the island?” Or, “You don’t have an accent?” I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard this. I take it in stride now and just work to inform them. I’m also happy to share our delicious dishes. Have you tried my latiya? Tasty Guam dessert that gets me invited to parties.

But, Chamorros are everywhere in the mainland. We do many great things. I hope that my debut novel, Secret Shopper will make non-Chamorro readers curious, informed and entertained by our culture. I hope they find that in the search for love, we really are all the same.

Why the move to Washington state in particular? California is also mentioned in the PDN article - did you spend time there?

Indeed, we lived in San Diego, CA for 8 years. My husband is active duty Navy. He’s Chamorro too and my biggest supporter. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to hone my writing without the life he’s given me. We were friends on Guam at the age of 12, pen pals at 16 when he moved to California and then lost touch. When we saw each other again at the age of 28, well, let’s just say cupid did his or her magic. So, moving to Washington State last fall was a Navy transfer and our family embraced the change of scenery. Being in Washington has been liberating and given me more opportunity to write.

Before, my Navy wife life, I only knew Guam. I was scared to leave, but I feel that I’ve adjusted well after nearly ten years.

We met through the group "Guam Geeks Nerd Herd." What do you think makes you fit the description of "geek" or "nerd?"

I love that Shawn Mesa created the Guam Geeks Nerd Herd on Facebook. I love many pop culture icons and comic heroes, you know my idol is Wonder Woman. Imagine if I didn’t obsessively post Wonder Woman art on the page, we wouldn’t be conducting this interview now. I like how things like that work, one thing connects you to another.

I’m proud to be a geek, nerd, fangirl-- because, I appreciate the need to escape, the need to believe in a hero/heroine who can move mountains, because then it makes us believe that we can do the same. That belief is what fuels my writing. I love creating alternate worlds. I like creating my own heroes. Secret Shopper’s main character is Phoenix Lizama Farmer. Her first name is testament to my geekhood. I’m also crafting another novel called Wonder Summer with guess who as the focus. So, after I look into the legalities of actually using Wonder Woman in my book, I hope to release that in a year or so.

Before I left San Diego, I made it my goal to attend Comic Con. So I did that twice, in 2011 and in 2012. My brother, Sonny Chargualaf (illustrator of my other books, Sirena and Attitude 13) stands on the geek wagon with me and I was happy to have him attend in 2012. He met Stan Lee and Jim Lee and I relished in the joy in his face. If I won the lottery, I’d attend every Comic Con in every major city for the rest of my life. I’m happy in that crowd. Would a geek sit in a line for 12 hours to see her heroes? Yes. I did that. Twice. I’m a geek, hear me roar.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Rick Ross - Cult Membership Prevention Specialist?

A little something interesting. I follow a motivational speaker named Kevin P. Chavrous on Facebook - his posts tend to be aimed at the black community or at least coming from that element. He posted this strange tidbit:

Education Quote for the Day: "The best method for preventing destructive cult involvement is preventative education. If students and the public at large are more aware of destructive groups beforehand they may better understand and resist their recruitment efforts." ~ Rick Ross, hip hop artist
That's a really eloquent comment about cult membership and it makes alot of sense but uhh..... Mr. "U.E.N.O" isn't really a cult membership prevention specialist. That is Rick Alan Ross. Apparently the mix up happens quite a bit. Here's a piece from a Vice article about that Rick Ross:
Rick Ross is a cultbuster. He's spent the last 30 years squeegeeing mumbo-jumbo from the brains of ex-cult victims, from David Koresh's Branch Davidians to Kabbalists to the Black Israelites. It's made him a lot of enemies. But we're not on that list--we even hung out with him briefly a few years back. Scientology has the longest file on him of any of its critics. They once drove him into bankruptcy. He's had threats on his life made regularly, but if you phone his New Jersey office he doesn't even screen his calls through a secretary. Rick Ross (not this one) is hard as nails.
That's him:


Taking A Look Back At The Star Wars Prequels Part Two: Too Much CGI?

I know this website started out as a hip-hop site but I am slowly trying to transition it to pop culture. I'll change the banner fairly soon with less emphasis on hip-hop, etc. That doesn't mean the hip-hop element will leave - we are planning another mixtape - but I want this to be a website that will interest people of various backgrounds.

Alot could honestly be written about the Star Wars prequels - I could honestly write about it all day. I want to limit how I expand this essay and have the second and last installment only cover one element - the special effects.

My friend Larry, who laid waste to "Jorge" (what he calls George Lucas) in his blog, said that the "overuse" of CGI was a serious problem in these films. There is a whole sequence in Attack of the Clones where Obi-Wan Kenobi (played by Ewan McGregor) travels to Kamino, a mostly ocean planet where the native species has been enlisted to create a clone army for the Republic. It's interesting, though honestly this whole storyline would have made more sense to have started in Episode I instead.

The sequence itself where Obi-Wan talks to the clone breeders and views the clones being bred is just exceedingly unreal, a problem for nearly all modern science fiction. Everything is CGI - not just the aliens. The floor, the ceiling, things that would have been made from set pieces in the filming of the original trilogy. Is it less expensive to use CGI than to build a set? I can understand making Yoda or the background on Coruscant CGI but Lucas really pushes it in scenes like this. The whole thing looks like a video game and Obi-Wan, as a real human being, just looks totally out of place.

Meanwhile, one of the most emotionally powerful sequences of the entire trilogy occurs when Anakin takes Padme with him to Tatooine as he senses his mother is in serious danger.

There is a minimum of CGI, the amount you would expect in a film like this, but most of that sequence occurs on the spot in Tunisia. There is almost nothing wrong with that entire sequence - it connects Anakin with his son Luke's uncle and aunt, shows pretty bluntly the beginning of Anakin's descent toward the dark side and actually shows Anakin in the exact same environment (the set built for Luke's home in Tunisia for A New Hope was actually untouched after twenty years) that we see his son growing up in in A New Hope.

The contrast between Ewan McGregor's acting (as Obi-Wan) in the Kamino sequence and Hayden Christensen (as Anakin) in the Tattooine sequence shows perfectly that George Lucas had a fairly stellar array of actors but made the acting process very difficult for many of them. It's in a real environment with a very real, emotional plot line and actors to interact with that Hayden Christensen shines as Anakin.

An overuse of CGI may work in a cartoon like the Clone Wars series that came out when these films were done but the overuse of CGI in actual film (at least at this point in the technology) can really make these films seem cartoonish and unreal.

Despite all of that, the prequels and the spin off television series that came from them are a big part of the Star Wars canon. Some great scenes come out of them and they did enhance the overall Star Wars saga. Lucas was one of the first people to really make a modern science fiction saga with contemporary technology - his prequel trilogy definitely illustrates what can go well and what can go wrong with this technology. As I said in my last post, the J.J. Abrams sequel films are definitely worth looking forward to - there is so much to explore in the universe that George Lucas created.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Looking Back At The "Star Wars" Prequels

This article is an attempt at branching out. Blood Is One is still very much a hip-hop/rap website but much of our focus is also the larger world of pop culture. Expect more articles like this on the way.

Alot of hey has been made about the acquisition of Star Wars by Disney and by J.J. Abrams in particular. The new Star Wars films may look very different than what we have seen before and may play very different elements of filmmaking and storytelling than we have seen from George Lucas. I thought it would be good to explore Star Wars, particularly the prequels, in light of these new developments. Thank you to Larry Bernard for his rebuttal of a defense of the Star Wars prequels for the inspiration.

When reviewing Star Wars in its whole, I think its important to get out of one self and to try to get in to the mind of George Lucas himself. Lucas is a very interesting person - both strange and groundbreaking and really boring, ordinary and conservative at once. In his old age, he has began to physically look like a corporate tool - he is almost always seen, for well on twenty years or so, in the same dress attire with the same haircut and beard.

He does some strange and daring stuff with his films - and yet his films are also colloquial and cliched as hell. Moments of the Star Wars saga make you want to rewatch them literally thousands of times while some are so painful it is horrible to even watch them once.

Lucas is a man at odds with himself. As he said once in an interview with Jon Stewart, "Life is dualism," and he is certainly very much proof of that. His often strange revamping of the Star Wars trilogy, changing everything from the sound effects to the lighting for each new release, borders on Obsessive Compulsive.

The prequel trilogy shows this very well. Lucas seemed to be at odds with himself in these movies in dramatic ways. Certainly elements of continuity from the original trilogy are just flat out ignored - Leia's comment that she remembers only "flashes" of her natural mother is belied by the fact that Leia is literally swept up by another family right as her mother "dies of a broken heart" (a truly stupid end to Padme that belies a plot that is highly developed in other ways).

In contrast, other elements of continuity stay completely right on point. Whereas Leia's relationship to her mom is ignored, he spends a really good portion of Attack of the Clones focusing on the origins of Boba Fett - a character with a fairly minor role in the original trilogy but alot of fan popularity. While he is messing up the Leia/Padme connection, he shows really significant levels of transition in to the old trilogy - the return of the the Emperor's Imperial ship from Return of the Jedi, along with Star Destroyers and dialogue by Chancellor Palpatine that sounds like a mirror version of the dialogue from Return of the Jedi.

Some magical stuff does occur in the prequels - Anakin's story is pretty well told and, despite what many say, Hayden Christensen puts on a performance that is as good if not better than any Mark Hammill ever put on. Ewan McGregor does seem really like the ghost of Alec Guinness throughout much of Revenge of the Sith - most of the dialogue and deliverance seems in line with what we'd expect from Guinness. The element of confusion that feeds through the trilogy right up until the end fits with the confused message that Luke Skywalker receives regarding his family past in the original trilogy. In the scenes where they are together, Christensen and McGregor seem to play off each other both as friends and enemies - given that relationship, it's unfortunate we didn't see the two playing off each other more.

Peculiarly, Lucas actually tells much of the genuine story of the prequels - "the Clone Wars" - in a spin-off TV series that had two installations - the first being an animated "microseries" that came out after Attack of the Clones and another larger profit series that came out after Revenge of the Sith. It's really strange - those series actually develop the characters of Anakin, Palpatine, Padme and Obi-Wan in a way that the movies don't really even try to do. We see Anakin actually being the fallen hero he is described as in the movies but never really is (in the first series, he actually uses his robotic arm as a method to save an entire village and we see several meetings with Padme in which their romantic encounters actually have some juice and development to them) and we see some idea of who Padme is. These shows had big audiences but surely nowhere near as big of audiences as the actual films.

My friend Larry Bernard, who wrote the rebuttal of a rebuttal that I'm now rebutting, said that this is "lazy storytelling." Lucas is a filmmaker with some amazing concepts but he is very ethereal in the elements of how he delivers those stories. In the original trilogy, he usually had someone helping him along and guiding him - much of the character play of Empire Strikes Back is really the work of screenwriters who built off Lucas' vision.

One of the biggest hopes that J.J. Abrams' new vision with a third trilogy can provide will be that there will be real, believable character interplay, something so horribly inconsistent in the Star Wars Saga as a whole. J.J. Abrams has shown that in his work on Lost and Star Trek - though he has also had his share of lazy storytelling and plots that become incomprehensible.

Friday, June 7, 2013

A Q & A With Daniel Torok, Director Of "The Otherside"

Macklemore with Daniel Torok, director of the documentary The Otherside.

I spoke with Director Daniel Torok for this website's review of The Otherside in hopes of getting an explanation as to why Oldominion, a huge network of over two dozen Seattle rappers and producers, wasn't focussed on in his documentary. Torok seemed to like the review, even if it gave him a critical eye, and agreed to do a question and answer for the blog. Keep in mind that Torok is only one third of the production behind The Otherside - more information on the producers and directors behind the documentary can be found on the film's website.

Thank you very much to Daniel Torok, by the way, for taking the time out of a very busy schedule to answer questions here for Blood Is One and also for making his documentary at all. Here goes!

How did all three of you - directors and producers - become involved with each other?

Jeff and I were in school together, JR and Vinny were childhood friends. Me and JR were trying to set up a concert event for the Seattle Children’s Hospital with JR’s brother, Chris and my colleague, Jeff. The concert fell through due to time constraints on the bands involved…so it was cancelled before it was created. I then decided with JR to document the scene instead of the concert. And thus the doc was born.

Was there ever any talk of exploring the Portland hip-hop scene on film as well?

There was talk about Portland. One of JR’s favorite acts was Portland based, as well as Spac3man being from there. But we had absolutely no budget, which made filming very very difficult—which is also why we could not spend a lot of time interviewing the historical figures in Seattle hip-hop. If they were presented to us and wanted to work with us, we filmed them. There were a lot of people not interested in the project at first. Perhaps because I was in college…or maybe just because they didn’t know me, but we were semi-limited from the start.

Was there any hostility from film distribution companies to a hip-hop documentary?

We haven’t worked with any distributors, haha, so I have no idea.

What do you think makes Seattle hip-hop unique?
Seattle hip-hop is more musical. More notes. More technical. It has a rabid fan-base behind it, and the love of the city outpours through the fans and the music. It all sounds different (to some degree), and that’s a good thing.

I saw you are employed by NBC/Universal - did that help at all in getting a hold of the now very popular Macklemore? (Especially given his SNL performances.)

NBC came after. I was fortunate enough to befriend Ben and Ryan early on. Helped them as [much as] I could along the way while filming. Having a full Macklemore story was never the goal, but capturing the success he was seeing to start off with was. We got lucky by being there. The biggest factor in this however, was the notion that Ben and Ryan called me to come film. Whenever they had shows, working on new music, just hanging out in the studio…they called and/or welcomed us to join. They were the ONLY artists to do so. So if other artists complain about not being part of this project, or not having as much exposure as the #1 Billboard act did, well…my advice to them is make themselves more available to people that want to document them.

In other cases, like Grynch, who was around from the start…some of the footage was just unusable. And with no budget at that point we couldn’t keep going back to re-record the artists as the story changed from one thing to the next. It was sort of written as we went. It’s still being written, haha….that’s the best/worst part of documenting something current. It evolves…it changes.

Are there other elements of the Northwest music scene, hip-hop or music in this country in general you would like to explore in future work?

There are a lot of other elements I’d love to learn more about. As to what I would work on again, I’m not sure. I have a feeling this project, The Otherside, will continue to be fine-tuned and other artists will be added and/or removed to round this story out to the best it can be—again given the constraints on time and money.

Pictures of Macklemore and Daniel Torok used for this came from news coverage by KOMO News of The Otherside's premeire at the Seattle International Film Festival - read the full story here.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

More Of The Otherside: Boom Bap Project

For a second segment pertaining to Seattle hip-hop history, I wanted to focus a bit on Boom Bap Project. Boom Bap Project comprises of rappers Karim Panny and Destro, both members of the large Oldominion collective. Destro has continued his rap career as a solo guy - the last time I met with Karim was at a comic book convention in San Francisco, where he said he was doing work for a Filipino themed TV station. Of all Seattle hip-hop acts, these guys had some of the most potential - unfortunately a group effort only seemed to come together three times, with the last time being in 2007 with the album Shakedown:

Hip-Hop Old And New

I got this picture sent to me recently - it's pretty powerful, I think. From left, that is Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock, Eminem, Royce Da 5'9 & Ab-Soul. Imagine all of them on one track together!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

More Of The Otherside: Sleep Of Oldominion

As I reiterated a few times in the review for The Otherside, that documentary shouldn't be dismissed because it omitted the role of Oldominion - a massive network of Northwest area rappers and producers. However, because of Macklemore's sudden success, I really worry about some of these artists being forgotten in the larger narrative. When Oldominion is mentioned, there are artists who should be remembered, specifically guys like Sleep of Oldominion.

Sleep was one of the founding members of the hip-hop collective and is known widely for his solo work and his work with Josh Martinez in The Chicharones. His most significant solo effort was an album back in 2005 called Christopher. His Wikipedia entry is really well kept. Here's a taste of his most recent work:

Monday, June 3, 2013

A Review: The Otherside Documentary

Seen above: Geologic of the Seattle rap duo Blue Scholars, as seen in the documentary "Otherside."

The Otherside, a documentary about the growing and unique world of Northwest hip-hop, is an ambitious documentary. Northwest hip-hop is a very weighty topic - rappers from the Northwest are very similar to white rappers: they're a consistent part of the hip-hop aesthetic but there is still something strange about rap from the Puget Sound; it doesn't quite fit with what we are used to hip-hop sounding, acting or looking like.

Quite a bit of commendation has to be made to the filmmakers J.R. Celski (the Executive Producer), Dan Torok (the Director) and Vinny Dom (the Producer) for making The Otherside at all. The film came originally out of a fondness for the Blue Scholars, a positive rap duo formed in 2004 between rapper Geologic and producer Sabzi. Much of the film focuses either on Blue Scholars or, of course, Macklemore - the latter being one of the most successful rap acts in Seattle hip-hop history - even more so than Sir Mix-A-Lot, who of course makes many appearances in the film.

Oldominion, a loosely affiliated group of over two dozen Seattle based rappers and producers that encompasses a sizeable portion of the Northwest hip-hop world, was not even mentioned in this documentary - not out of anything malicious but because the filmmakers oddly seemed to have really never heard of them. The directors were obviously college kids (question and answer sets afterward showed that the directors and producers discovered Blue Scholars in middle school) and so it is quite a bit to ask that they know the entire gammot of Northwest hip-hop (they certainly brought a few acts in to their lense that this website has never heard of).

What was weird is that the entire Oldominion sect of Seattle/Portland rappers - encompassing projects like The Gigantics, Th3rdz and Grayskul - was apparently not even mentioned in the interviews - the highly successful Macklemore featured Oldominion affiliate Xperience all over his most recent album. The Oldominion duo Grayskul has been signed to Rhymesayers Entertainment, a major rap album, since 2004 and has put out a half dozen albums in that time period. Their success is at least on par with Blue Scholars. When myself and another crowd member mentioned Oldominion, the director said he "had never even heard of them" - it seemed very strange that Macklemore, Seattle super producer Jake One or Seattle rap journalist Larry Mizell Jr. would not even have mentioned the word "Oldominion" in interviews for a major documentary about Seattle hip-hop.

The logo for Seattle rap group Oldominion.

"Oldominion," being such a large network of artists, isn't really a solid rap group but an actual identity, name and logo for a large portion of the Seattle hip-hop community. For Oldominion to not be mentioned in a documentary about Seattle hip-hop is rather shocking.

Likewise, groups like Source of Labor or Black Anger aren't mentioned at all in the lengthy historical perspective that the producers take on and acts like Grynch, probably one of the most significant hip-hop acts, are just barely mentioned. Neema Khorrami, another one of the most significant current acts, is also not mentioned at all. As is Sonny Bonoho. The Facebook page for the film mentions that the film's trailer had to be pulled to "remove some artists that didn't want to be there, sorry for the inconvenience." When artists in attendance at the premiere were asked "to stand up" - almost none did. Seattle rap artists tend to be a pretty press friendly group - that artists would want to boycott the film seemed really strange.

I talked to Torok about this in an e-mail conversation and he told me this:

You were correct in stating that Oldominion wasn’t mentioned. We interviewed as many people as we could link up with and when other names came up, if it was unanimous, we explored those. If Oldominion was mentioned, it wasn’t mentioned in detail which didn’t give us the link to follow for the storyline. And of course really great artists like Neema were left out, but not maliciously. I live in NYC, JR in LA/Utah. It was really difficult to get people lined up for interviews on short notice (when I lived in Seattle I was in school full-time). At the same time, exclusion of the “rest” of Seattle’s hip-hop artists leads to one thing…more films that stem off of what we created. And that is awesome! It will give people creative control to follow up with things that were over-looked and or missed, or just plain out ignored due to budget and time constraints. Adding Oldominion, Grayskul, or even groups like Emerald Street Boys would have weighted the History section and left the rest of the film (current and future) feeling empty.

Whatever difficulties the film had, however, it is unfair to drop those on the young men behind this film. As was mentioned at the top of the review, however, it is ambitious that Celski and Torok even did this film at all. Even if the film is imperfect, what they tried to do is something no one has really done before. That certainly bodes well for them as directors and producers - original thinking will surely bring positive outcomes.