Culture & Politics

Hip Hop Chess Federation to Release Street Games Vol. 1 Mixtape

Street Games Vol. 1 will be available for free November 20 via the Hip Hop Chess Federation website. I've checked out some of the tracks and you may see some references to this being a mixtape album because, honestly, it's really an album in my opinion. Lots of solid work!

From the official announcement:

Street Games Vol. 1 mixtape will highlight the connections between music, chess and martial arts and their connections to unity, strategy and nonviolence. It is 100% curse free which making it an ideal teaching tool for urban education programs.

A Plus from Hieroglyphics hosts Street Games Vol. 1 and DJ Rob Flow oversaw the production. Additional production was provided by Ronnie Lee of the Seven Trees Music Center in San Jose as well as contributions by Mike Relm and Rhapsodist. Rakaa Iriscience of Dilated Peoples, Sunspot Jonz of Living Legends, Zumbi of Zion I, Black Knights, Quadir Lateef,  Jasiri X, Rahaman Jamaal, Asheru (Boondocks Theme Song), Tajai from Hieroglyphics are all featured on the HHCF compilation.

Additional wisdom illustrating the power of chess, martial arts and Hip-Hop  community is shared by authors Jeff Chang and Dr. Joe Schloss, Jiu Jitsu master and UFC coach Ryron Gracie and Women's chess Grandmaster Jennifer Shahade among others.

HHCF Founder Adisa Banjoko states:

"Street Games Vol. 1 was made with no budget. All of the rappers, engineers and producers gave their time and their art to make this compilation possible. This is a project done with love only. Neither the HHCF nor any of the artists involved will profit from Street Games Vol. 1."

"This compilation is a testament to the power of art over aggression. In it we illustrate life strategies through chess, illustrate triumph of patience through the pain and showcase wisdom beyond war. We are thankful to all the artists, martial artists and educators who helped bring this idea to reality. It was orchestrated with the hope that teens and young adults trapped in American urban war zones will be inspired to actualize their potential.”

For more music, check out Bishop Chronicles on SoundCloud.

For news updates, follow HHCF on Facebook.


Hip-Hop Chess Federation Founder Shares Chess Philosophy & Life Strategy



HHCF founder Adisa Banjoko shares the organizations philosophy on overcoming obstacles. Its part of their Live The Game summer camp. They are hosting an open house June 2nd in The San Francisco, Bay Area. For more information visit

Article: "What Is Art House?"

Genre names are needed for conversations and debates. More importantly, they’re necessary when searching for a particular style of music on the internet. I discovered dubstep for the first time when someone sent me a tune by Burial on Later I was desperately looking for artists on the internet with a similar sound by typing the term dubstep into Google. What I got was Rusko, Deadmau5, Skrillex and overproduced dubstep remixes of popular songs, pretty much the opposite of what I was looking for. Now, if I had typed in “post-dubstep”, things would’ve looked differently. The problem with the term “post-dubstep” is that it indicates that dubstep is over. Dubstep is far from that. The genre only exists since about a decade and it’s constantly changing and re-inventing itself.First and foremost this change manifested itself in late 2009 when The xx released their debut. They use silence as an instrument and from that moment everything was about to change. But why is silence so important, what does it have to do with arthouse and what the funk is arthouse anyway?Let’s get one thing straight, arthouse isn’t a genre we came up with, just for the sake of it. We’re not making something up that doesn’t exist, the term didn’t come out of nowhere. There is tons of evidence for the existence of a new genre, so in the following paragraphs we will explain the history, etymology sound and geographical relations. By the end it’s your decision, whether you’ll stick to your authoritarian “It’s all just music” anti-thinking or if you’ill acknowledge the fact that there is currently something very interesting going on in the music scene.   DEFINITION+ Arthouse: Arthouse describes the fusion between post-dubstep and alternative R&B. It can also be seen as an umbrella term for both genres. Artists: The Weeknd, The xx, AlunaGeorge, Rhye, Black Atlass, Active Child, DropxLife, Julian, JMSN, Evy Jane, Jamie Woon, Jessie Ware, Jai Paul, James Blake, the list goes on…  + Post-Dubstep:”A word used to describe music that takes the basic idea/sound of dubstep and takes it in a new direction, often making it more experimental and mixing it with elements of idm, hip hop, and trip hop, see also future garage and wonky”- Urban Dictionary  + Alternative R&BA progressive and experimental approach to R&B. It’s more complex and forward-thinking than commercial R&B.      SOUNDThe first question that arises is, isn’t alternative R&B and arthouse the same thing? Clearly not! You can’t say that artists like Jamie xx, James Blake, Blawan, Deadboy, Eliphino or Sibian & Faun make alternative R&B, simply because they take elements out of it. There is a difference between alternative R&B and music that is influenced by R&B. We’re talking about music that is influenced by R&B. “Okay fine, so let’s just call it all post-dubstep, why do we need another term like arthouse?”. Because there is a pattern, because it makes sense, because it works, because the term post-dubstep is invalid as previously explained. The amount of producers that take elements from dubstep and alternative r&b is ridiculous. Take a look at this: James Blake - CMYK // Aaliyah & Kelis sampleJoy Orbison - Hyph Mngo // Janet Jackson samlpleJames Blake - Bills, Bills, Bills // Destiny’s Child sampleBlawan - Getting Me Down // Brandy sampleDeadboy - Here // Destiny’s Child sampleGhost Mutt - Thouroughbred // Destiny’s Child sampleJamie xx - Far Nearer // Janet Jackson sampleSibian & Faun // Ashanti sampleJoy Orbison - Sicko Cell // Ne-Yo, & Drake feat. Page sampleFrench Fries - One Thing // Amerie sampleMele - Digits // TLC sampleDeadboy - Fireworks // Drake sampleKastle - Technique // Kelis sampleDebruit - Pony // Ginuwine sampleEliphino - More Than Me/ No More // Lauryn Hill sampleHugo Frederick - Family Affair // Mary J Blige sampleGirl Unit - Every Time (Kingdom Edit) // Ciara samplePrince Club - Love Jackson // Janet Jackson sample The list goes on and on and on, but let’s just stop here, I think you’re getting my point. When it comes to vocals that are beyond getting sampled and chopped up, the sound becomes less clubby more dark, melancholic, haunting, depressing, introverted, nostalgic, minimalistic and even dramatic.Best examples are The Weeknd, The xx, Rhye, James Blake and Evy Jane.The best way to describe the sound is how Burial described his own one in an old interview: ”It’s more about when you come back from being out somewhere; in a minicab or a night bus, or with someone, or walking home across London late at night, dreamlike, and you’ve still got the music kind of echoing in you, in your bloodstream, but with real life trying to get in the way. I want it to be like a little sanctuary. It’s like that 24-hour stand selling tea on a rainy night, glowing in the dark. It’s pretty simple.” Arthouse is all about atmosphere. The often melancholic atmosphere is created by using silence as an instrument. Burial, Mount Kimbie, James Blake and The xx are all perfect examples for that. Even the more “clubbier” arthouse producers have a simple and minimalistic approach to making tunes. Here two quotes on the importance of silence: 1.“We’re young, not deaf – Casely-Hayford know it, Press Free Press know it, Jayne Helliwell knew it, and The xx know it. They are part of a generation that understands the strength of silence and the power of whispering – that if you say something quietly, people have to lean in closer. Their music has become shorthand on TV shows, idents and events for a very specific kind of brooding, worried youth…While previous youth cultures have proclaimed to have the answers, the generation that The xx hint at are taking their time with the questions. ”Source: 2. “. And so there’s something genius about the way that Blake’s work is premised on an aesthetic of recurrent silence, the counterintuitive result being that the 40 minutes you spend listening to his album may be the only part of your day where you experience silence at all. To listen to James Blake is not just to hear something new, in the sense that the music here marks a clear and creative evolution from any of Blake’s identifiable influences, but also to hear something new, in the sense that Blake knows how to make his listeners receptive to his music through the strategic use of silence.”Source:       HISTORYThe first time post-dubstep and alternative R&B collided was when The xx released their debut album back in 2009. Thanks to Jamie xx the record has a strong Garage influence. Ruth Saxelby described it in the most accurate way in her article “What have The xx ever done for us”: “The xx have garage in their blood. You don’t need to second-guess their record collections (you can grab any of Jamie’s superlative mixes for that) – it’s there, in the sumptuous loneliness of VCR, the coiled epic space of Intro, the grinding delicacy of Islands. They’re the most important British band of our times, because they understand instinctively to the codes, expressions and sonic spaces of urban Britain and spontaneously create a new language. Their heritage is the anonymous broadcasts of pirate radio and unsigned whites, but they don’t just react – they move it on, they take it out, take it deep.” As for their strong R&B influence Pitchfork described it in the best way in their album review of “xx”: “Strongly influenced by modern R&B— the group made hay with an early cover of Womack & Womack’s “Teardrops”, while UK copies of xx come packed with their version of Aaliyah’s “Hot Like Fire”— the xx use a drum machine to complement their copiously tidy compositions. Unlike contemporary R&B fetishists Hot Chip or Discovery, who have clearly spent long hours internalizing Timbaland, the Neptunes, and other radio cognoscenti, the xx incorporate more abstract elements of the genre: a liberal use of bass tones and an unwavering focus on sex and interpersonal relationships.” In 2010 Mount Kimbie released “Crooks & Lovers”. Although the album doesn’t have a direct R&B influence, like “xx” and “Untrue” it’s another very important release for the development of arthouse. The most accurate description of Mount Kimbie is calling them “Burial on anti-depressants”. And like The xx and Burial, Mount Kimbie use silence as an instrument to create atmosphere. As you can tell it’s all very well connected. 2011 was the most important year for the development of arthouse.James Blake, Jamie Woon and SBTRKT released their debut albums, while Jamie xx remixed Gil Scott-Heron’s “I’m New Here”.More importantly The Weeknd’s “House of Balloons” trilogy and Frank Ocean’s “nostalgia: Ultra” came out. Those releases reanimated R&B and set a foundation for everything that is going to happen in 2012.There is a new breed of artists emerging mixing the sounds of post-dubstep and alternative R&B together. Those artists are the class of 2012, making arthouse the sound of 2012. I’m talking about AlunaGeorge, Rhye, Evy Jane, Black Atlass, JMSN, Hoüses, DropxLife, Jessie Ware and many more.Arthouse is soon going to “reach its climax” when Usher is going to release his next album (assuming that it’s as good as his recent single), this album, The xx’s second album as well as Jai Paul’s will change the game of R&B. Arthouse will most likely become mainstream. The eurotrash-Guetta-beat-making will die out and the sound of 90s and early 00s R&B will have a revival.All the new arthouse acts that are now in their beginning stages will release more material this year as well, all of this will make arthouse the sound of 2012. It’s inevitable.  ETYMOLOGYTimothy Hankins used the term arthouse for the first time in the context of music, in a review of James Blake’s debut album and Enough Thunder EP for The Daily Times: “I’m going to coin a phrase and call Blake’s songs “art house R&B.”” Blake’s music is electro-pop that is firmly rooted in R&B. His vocal stylings are smooth, inspired by Motown. Rhythmically, the songs lack the pulsing drive of R&B basslines, but they manage to have the same sway-in-your-seat quality of more standard R&B tunes.” Later on our contributor Antonio Rowe described The Weeknd as arthouse R&B  in our article “Next Big Things For 2012”: “Lyrically, his words match the druggy morning-after aesthetic of his songs, you can often hear Tesfaye discussing promiscuous, one-night stands and over consumption of drugs and alcohols amidst this slick, hazed art house R&B.” The music publication Pretty Much Amazing described AlunaGeorge, Rhye and Evian Christ as artstep:1. “the duo’s production blends the best trends of bass-inflected pop (that bubbling bass recalls recent hits from SBTRKT and Katy B and UK artstep (that stuttering, deconstructed drum machine)” 2.”seriously, what with that hyper-minimalist backbeat that’ll have you all psyched for some artstep drum machine skittering before Rhye go ahead and turn the tables completely into orchestral, horns-and-strings indie balladry.” 3.”Sometimes it seems like your run-of-the-mill UK quasi-ambient artstep (you can probably imagine those skittering, echoing percussion elements before you even press play…” The term arthouse is obviously a wink to the film genre and movie theatre. Here a short definition from Urban Dictionary: “Arthouse: A movie theatre that shows independant, noncommercial or foreign films. In the United States, most people like big, expensive movies with lots of explosions and violence. Any film that is made by people outside of the Hollywood production system, and that focuses on more subtle themes, tends to be called an ‘art film”. Arthouse in the film industry is an antithesis to Hollywood. Post-dubstep is known to be an antithesis to so-called brostep, as well as alternative R&B is known to be an antithesis to commercial R&B, both genres also have a more artful approach to making music.When looking at artists such as The Weeknd, The xx and James Blake, it’s apparent how aesthetics and images are also very important. Therefore using the term arthouse to describe these artist’s music, aesthetic and image makes perfect sense.  GEOGRAPHICAL RELATIONSLike our contributor Yeah Sara said, music is not about time and region anymore: “Hip Hop is not about time or region anymore as much as it is about timing and regional influences. Inspiration is coming from everywhere, from the past of ones own culture (cheezy R&B of the US 90s) or the present of foreign cultures (Grime, Dubstep of the UK).That’s why NYCs A$AP Rocky and his crew rap over drippy Houston beats. That’s why Tyler, The Creator is a rapping like a punk skater kid. That’s why Lupe Fiasco is rapping over Skrillex’ pseudo-dubstep wobble sounds. That’s why Rick Ross is successful: because we soak him in irony. We live half in the nostalgia of the mainstream, half in a transition to a digital craze.” Even though regional influences are not that important anymore, there are a few similarities when it comes to the geographical relations of arthouse.Most of the new artists that are considered arthouse come from Canada:1. The Weeknd, Drake (to an extent considered as arthouse), Julian, DropxLife, Rhye, Evy Jane, Black Atlass and Sibian & Faun. All of those artists have a very similar sound and aesthetic, the same goes for artists that come from the UK:2. The xx, AlunaGeorge, Jai Paul, Jamie Woon and James Blake. The latter have a much stronger garage influence, therefore the term artstep can be used as well.  FURTHER INFORMATION1. What have The xx ever have done for us?2. R&B: Past, Present, Future3. Hipster R&B x nappy-headed pop4. Arthouse tumblr5. Indie R&b tumblr6. Tim Jonze on shuffle: R&B7. Hipster R&B or Alternative R&B? 8. Pitchfork’s Grime/ Dubstep column on post-dubstep9. The Post-Dubstep Movement By K-Tron


"The first question that arises is, isn’t alternative R&B and arthouse the same thing? Clearly not! You can’t say that artists like Jamie xx, James Blake, Blawan, Deadboy, Eliphino or Sibian & Faun make alternative R&B, simply because they take elements out of it. There is a difference between alternative R&B and music that is influenced by R&B. We’re talking about music that is influenced by R&B. “Okay fine, so let’s just call it all post-dubstep, why do we need another term like arthouse?”. Because there is a pattern, because it makes sense, because it works, because the term post-dubstep is invalid as previously explained. The amount of producers that take elements from dubstep and alternative r&b is ridiculous. Take a look at this"

Full Artilcle

Article: "Indie Is Dead"

postdubstep:   Pop culture recycles itself. There is nothing new under the sun, and what was cool once will be cool again. This whole “indie” thing/scene/aesthetic/genre/style/whatever has been around for a while now and it’s become apparent that it’ll be a thing of the past sooner rather than later. Of course, it’ll only be replaced by some other sub-culture that will continue to gain popularity and prominence until it becomes so big that it eats itself, and all of the original devotees will move on to something newer and more exciting. Something that sounds like tomorrow.Each generation always has and always will rebel against the previous one. The free-spirited and peace loving rock music of the psychedelic 60’s rebelled against the past generation’s strict, close minded view of the world. The furious punk rock of the 70’s overthrew that optimistic approach in favor of a darker, faster, and angrier aesthetic that celebrated all of the simple and ugly things about rock music. New wave music of the 80’s took punk rock and refined it, enhancing it with crafty songwriting that nearly bordered on pop music. The 90’s ushered in grunge, which brought back the dirty standards of punk and made it grimier than ever before. In the 00’s, an amalgamation of all these sub-cultures hit its peak. The kids call it indie rock, and its expiration date is approaching.But what is indie rock, really? If a band was “indie” it just meant they were on an independent label. This definition no longer applies, however, as “indie” now refers to a specific sound. You see, there are an exponential amount of fantastic indie rock bands that have gone on to have great success in the mainstream while still retaining their artistic integrity. Arcade Fire, Modest Mouse, Phoenix, and more recently, Bon Iver are among them. Don’t get me wrong, it was extremely obnoxious having to hear the first 6 seconds of “A-Punk” being used as every naïve 16-year old girl’s ringtone for a good four month streak for me as well (a whole year after the song was released, too), but I didn’t let that ruin the band for me. I still think Vampire Weekend is one of the most enjoyable and important groups around right now, even if their sound isn’t the most original.Allmusic defines indie rock as “too sensitive and melancholy; too soft and delicate; too dreamy and hypnotic; too personal and intimately revealing in its lyrics; too low-fidelity and low-budget in its production; too angular in its melodies and riffs; too raw, skronky and abrasive, wrapped in too many sheets of Sonic Youth/Dinosaur Jr./Pixies/Jesus & Mary Chain-style guitar noise; too oblique and fractured in its song structures; too influenced by experimental or otherwise unpopular musical styles.” Of course, even this loose and interpretive definition isn’t a big enough umbrella to describe the many acts that could be classified as “indie.” Hell, there are people out there that think of Foster the People and Mumford & Sons when somebody mentions indie rock. Then again, these are also the same folks who have never heard of Radiohead (Yes, they exist. Try spending some more time in a small town devoid of any meaningful culture).One thing that does bring most indie rock musicians together is the past. There’s an almost unanimous agreement on the classic albums that have helped shape the sound; The Velvet Underground & Nico, Low, Unknown Pleasures, Surfer Rosa/Doolittle, Daydream Nation, Meat is Murder/The Queen is Dead, Murmur, Let It Be, Loveless, Nevermind, Slanted & Enchanted/Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, The Bends/OK Computer, Is This It, Funeral. This isn’t a fully comprehensive list, but I’d go so far as to say that you would be pretty hard-pressed to find an “indie rock” band that doesn’t owe at least some part of their sound to at least a few of the albums I mentioned.While it’s nice that so many different sounding artists can be so compatible, I find myself wondering what’s next. This indie “sound” has been kicking around for a good while now, and I’m in love with it. It’s what I grew up with it, and there will always be a place in heart for it. But let me propose this to you: instead of running it into the ground like it’s some sort of blockbuster film series or a popular sitcom, maybe it’s time we moved on to something newer and more exciting. It’s impossible to know what the next drastic change in our beloved guitar music will sound like, or when it will come.  It could be tomorrow, and it could be five years from now.Listen. I’m of the mindset that art is something that needs to constantly be pushing itself in different directions in order to move forward. Obviously, it’s impossible not to take some kind of influence from the past, whether it’s direct or indirect, but at the same time we need to be looking to the future for inspiration as well. I don’t claim to know for sure what’s coming up around the bend, but there is one thing I do know: when it hits, you’re gonna feel it. And it’ll knock you into tomorrow.  By Tucker Umbehagen You should also check out Tucker’s radical review of Lana Del Rey’s Born to Die. 

Excerpt From "Indie Is Dead" 

"But what is indie rock, really? If a band was “indie” it just meant they were on an independent label. This definition no longer applies, however, as “indie” now refers to a specific sound. You see, there are an exponential amount of fantastic indie rock bands that have gone on to have great success in the mainstream while still retaining their artistic integrity. Arcade Fire, Modest Mouse, Phoenix, and more recently, Bon Iver are among them." 

Full Article

Glassnote Records' Daniel Glass on 'Fantastic' Spotify, Monetizing the Stream



From a label perspective, what's your take is on Spotify so far?

I enjoy, appreciate and embrace anything that gets people to discover music. So I would say in the last 12 months, from the United States perspective, Spotify has been one of the most exciting places to discover music.

The traffic and the amount of action on Spotify is just fantastic. That's clear. The amount of people sharing music through their Facebook application on Spotify is great. The people who run Spotify -- Steve Savoca, Daniel Ek and Sean Parker -- were very sensitive to the North Americans, because they flushed out so many issues in Europe and the U.K. before it got to America. So, it's been really good what Spotify has done.

Full Article

Gil Scott-Heron: More Than a Revolution (Article)

Gil Scott-Heron: More Than a Revolution


"These popular misconceptions might have to do with his biggest hit. For all of its impact, "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" had the side effect of narrowing the memory of Gil's work. That tiny string of words wasn't a mission statement, just one small fragment of his message. And a tongue-in-cheek one, as well. The poem was heavy with bluster but weighted with wordplay. In it, Gil critiqued crass sloganeering, mocking everything from Agnew to Ajax campaigns. The bitter irony, of course, is that it became a slogan itself. "He was commercialized by the [current] generation," says Leon Collins, who lived with Gil in D.C. throughout the 60s and 70s. "That's been co-opted and exploited a billion different ways." As time passed Gil himself seemed mostly indifferent to these developments, though quick to clarify his original intent."

"[The revolution] is not all about fighting and going to war-- it's about going to war with a problem and deciding how you can affect that problem."


full article



Does Soulja Boy's Black [and Yellow] History Month Spot Reveal an Identity Crisis?

Soulja Boy, Keri Hilson & Ray J for Black History Month

Ok, I admit I'm not keeping up with Soulja Boy and I don't know what changes his fashion style's going through but, damn, don't he look like Wiz Khalifa in a Yankees cap?

[UPDATE: I swear I never heard about Inked and Tatted! Yeah, I may be out of touch, but I sense this sh*t! By the way, that's a redundant title, but I'm sure that "controversy" has been blogged to death, lol.]

Wiz Khalifa - Black And Yellow

I assume Music Choice's "I Am Black Music" Campaign will include a solo spot for Soulja Wiz, so we'll see what's up!

By the way, even though I'm white, every month is Black History Month at my house cause you just can't keep up with the reality of America without keeping up with black people. No, I'm no w*gger, I just know what's up!

Available on Amazon: Soulja Boy ~ Wiz Khalifa

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Wiz Khalifa: Green Carpet Concert Tour Schedule

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