warm brew

WARM BREW! Tracing their Footsteps…

     Warm Brew is quintessentially West Coast – the two are synonymous. Their lyrics, though, are anonymous. (you’ll never hear ‘em copy! Top Notch Baby! Never coming less, sky’s the limit, you gots to believe up in… the Brew!) Their songs are riddled with personal experiences, never boasting of falsified encounters, and mainly speaking of their growth amid the sea spray of the Pacific and the concrete edges of the greater surrounding L.A. county. Since their first EP in 2010 – Natural Spirit – they’ve purely embodied their humble, Ghetto Beach Boyz roots. Native to beautiful Santa Monica and Venice, CA, the trio consists of Manu Li (pronounced Manu “Lee” not Manu “L-eye!”), Serk Spliff(ton), and Ray Wright. Manu and Ray grew up together and met in middle school, I believe, the two later linking up with Serk in high school. Shout out SaMoHi, rivals of my alma mater El Segundo High. While Manu was contemplating a future in politics, Ray and Serk were respectively leading their football and soccer clubs to famed victory, Serk himself winning a state championship and Ray earning himself a spot on the Toreros football lineup (Univ. of San Diego).

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     This temporary split halted the trio’s progression, but upon Ray’s decision to return home they decided to channel all their energy and talent into sculpting a greater sound and presence in Los Angeles. Early on as a group they frequented backyard shows and house parties, wrecking shop and turning the hell up as per usual. Put that on hold…

     As a historian, I’ll be taking you through their discography, beginning with Natural Spirit. N.P (July, 2010), featuring the George Benson-Breezy track “Doin’ It Right”, is riddled with terrific samples, scratches, and lyrics that solidified the group’s recognition in the area. This project included Wright’s good friend, Espy, who produced and handled the keys on various tracks. Espy, your production is legit man, bravo. Give it a listen on: www.espy.bandcamp.com/album/natural-spirit As they put it, the album is, “Fun. It’s hard hitting, it’s devastating, it’s mind blowing, and it’s what we make. Straight hip hop, but always fresh and new. Ain’t no half steppin’ on this record.” Word to Big Daddy Kane, they weren’t bluffing. It smacks! My favorite tracks are: “I Know I Got It”, “Natural Spirit”, “Nineteen”, and an instrumental track that finishes off the album… “Now, Los Angeles”. Moving onward, the Brew’s sophomore release was Warm Brew the EP (June, 2011) in which the group diversified their portfolio and explored the realms of contemporary alternative hip hop, but nonetheless had to spring it allll the way back to Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik & Outkast’s famous “Crumblin’ Erb”, a 420 favorite, on their track “Boilin’ Bud (Dungeon Family Tribute)”. Peep “Tommy Pickles” as well. Here’s the album: www.espy.bandcamp.com/album/warm-brew-ep.

     In 2012 Warm Brew released a couple more albums: Kottabos (May, 2012) & Sippin All Day Last Night (December, 2012). Kottabos features a new array of producers including Al B Smoov (current DJ and extensive producer), DeUno, DJ Dahi, the TeQnitionZ, Danny Dee. The group maintains their lyrical fluidity, while experimenting further with tracks like “Get It,” to get that booty shaking, “Creep” where Serk and Ray get CrazySexyandCool to the classic “Creep” track by TLC, and a smooth track “DGPG” which the Brew wrecks on, inspired by The Alchemist’s “Tick Tock” ft. Nas & Prodigy. They get together with South Carolina natives OxyMoron on “SC 2 SC”, in which both groups with similar stories flow off one another tremendously. Check it out: http://warmbrew.bandcamp.com/album/kottabos.

Warm Brew

     Sippin All Day Last Night carries a similar vibe as Kottabos, another feel-good record by Warm Brew that opens up with birdies chirpin’ in “Hear Ya Say”. This album doesn’t get much recognition, and I’ve noticed that various articles on the group have overshadowed this album for one reason or another. Find it here: http://warmbrew.bandcamp.com/album/sippin-all-day-last-night. I view this album as essential to Warm Brew’s evolution. They mention how early on they were having as much fun as they could, making money, spending money, doing shows, etc. But as we see, the next album Warm Brew would release would go on to get them signed, and I find that Sippin All Day Last Night marks the group’s transition into professional work. My picks: “Hear Ya Say”, “Booze Cruise”, “World Wide International”, “Proper Amount”.

     Continuing on their ride, the group released, hah, The Ride (July, 2013) their longest release to date which included an array of features from familiar friends and new faces alike – vocals from Hugh Augustine, Natia, Azizi Gibson, along with production from Al B Smoov, The Teqnitionz, DJ Dahi, Danny Dee, Joe Brown, and Lord Quest. Their track “Wanna Get High” feat. Hugh Augustine would later earn them great recognition by L.A. native Dom Kennedy (see: From the Westside with Love: II) who had been recently holding it down for L.A. on the hip hop scene along with T.D.E. pioneer Kendrick Lamar. After hours of working together, vibing off one another during studio sessions, and getting to know one another more personally, Dom would have Warm Brew sign onto his independent label OPM (Other People’s Money). Here’s The Ride: http://warmbrew.bandcamp.com/ . My personal favorites from the album: “Good Morning”, “The Ride”, “Wanna Get High”, “Word”, “Lightbulb Effect”, “We Don’t Know”, “Loungin”… heck just listen through!

     The group took a bit of a break until releasing last year’s Ghetto Beach Boyz (January, 2015) under Dom’s guidance. They attribute the album’s fuller feel to his mentorship. He versed them on ways to create a body of work that, from beginning to end, holds up against, arguably, many of the hip hop albums that were up for album of the year (in which J. Cole took home the crown at the BET Hip Hop awards). That may be saying a lot, but this album solidified Warm Brew’s influence in the Los Angeles hip hop scene. They began to receive greater recognition, performing overseas in France (Paris I believe), while turning heads throughout the States. Through this all they have continually stuck to their roots, properly representing where they come from on each track. Over past albums, like Sippin, Warm Brew meddled with G Funk, a sub-genre of hip hop that was incredibly popular during the 90’s on the West Coast (Warren G, Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, that trio as 213, DPG, Dr. Dre, DJ Quik, Hi-C, 2nd II None, list goes on.) Their track “W$ Phonk” is purely G-Funk, from the synths, to Ray Wright’s Nate Dogg-esque crooning, to Manu Li’s playful and insightful (text your mother before others, straight up, she’s takes priority over most! It makes me chuckle, but he’s being real!) imagery. The track is golden. But personally, I prefer “We Can Do It”. The track is graciously layered, mellows you down into a distinct and smooth rhythm, and delivers humbled lyrics that reflect on the group’s journey up to this point. Perhaps “A1Day1” serves a better example of them holding it down for those who have stuck it out with them (including family, friends, a big finger to the naysayers), but “We Can Do It” is a living testament that Warm Brew has continually gotten it done, whether you’ve known it or not, and their business here is unfinished. Check out the album on Spotify, I confidently approve of each track, no half steppin’!

     Their latest album Diagnosis (July, 2016) is their first album under Redbull Records. They are actually the first hip hop group on the label, so props guys! The album is on the shorter side, but it serves as a teaser for their coming works, so don’t stress out. Nevertheless, they continue to deliver the goods, teaming up with Swiff D (who has produced for Schoolboy Q), Buddy, SiR (who is on the rise himself as well), and longtime friend Hugh Augustine. Hugh Augustine is also a terrific artist, I recommend his works (see Word is Bond, Massimo Ciabatta, Hurry Up and Wait). Hugh was featured on Isaiah Rashad’s latest album, Sun’s Tirade (see: “Tity and Dolla”)  which Al B Smoov also produced on (see: “Wat’s Wrong,” co-produced by Smoov). Warm Brew lets us know that they’re sticking to the path they view ahead of them: one of wide recognition, anxious and loyal fans, and further development. “Hallelujah” serves the purpose of thanking the one above for allowing the three, after years and years of hard work, struggling to make money, hopping from one job to another early on to save cash, to still be together after it all. They also pay tribute to L.A. legend Kobe Bryant [we’ll miss you Kobe :’( . Mamba forever ] who retired this past season with their track “24 Pivot”. You can listen on Spotify or on SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/warmbrew

Phew…

With all that being said, it’s safe to say that I’ve followed the group for quite some time and am anxious to see what the future has in store for Warm Brew. They have the ultimate potential to become one of the best hip hop groups out of Los Angeles, they have some great expectations to fulfill but I believe they can exceed them all. Best of luck for the future, Warm Brew. They’ve already been acknowledged by various esteemed L.A. hip hoppers like Dom Kennedy, The Alchemist, People Under the Stairs, and members of T.D.E. The future looks bright for them, keep your eyes peeled folks.

Warm Brew will be in Santa Cruz tomorrow night, get tickets online at http://www.catalystclub.com/ or Ticketmaster. I’ll be there mobbing with my crew, it’s gonna get rowdy. Also, check out their music videos which they’ve been coming out with throughout the years, just look ‘em up on the Tube! www.youtube.com or go to http://warmbrewla.com/westsidechristmas/

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Tune in to Beats, Rhymes & Life tonight – midnight to 1am – to hear some of my picks live on KZSC Santa Cruz, 88.1FM. Also stay tuned for an interview with Warm Brew I got scheduled. Peace!

– The Tone

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Why We Should Be Listening to the Female Voices of Hip Hop

Hip hop is uniquely powerful because it sits comfortably at the borderline between poetry and song. It bridges the gap between the two, and in turn contains the qualities of both song and spoken word.  Unlike poems (or any other word based message), music has the upper hand of getting caught in your head for long periods of time. This is a vital tool for those trying to spread a political message–– having the power to keep words in someone’s head is just about the best way to spread a political agenda. Just think, what if on the same day, at the same time, the whole world (including all the world leaders), had the chorus to Queen Latifah’s Black on Black Love repeating in their head? What about Salt n Peppa’s feminist anthem None of Your Business? Would political decision making be affected? Similar to poetry however, rap is much more lyric based than any other musical genre. Because of it’s fast paced nature, rap is able to squeeze an immense amount of lyrical content into a short two minute song. It is not tied to traditional song structures in the same way as other music often is, and in turn, rap can really pack a punch.

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With so much political power, hip hop is the perfect art form to be leading many of today’s revolutionary movements. It reclaims oppressive spaces through its loud, commanding, and aggressive nature, creating a genre of wildly popular music. Unfortunately, most artists in modern mainstream hip hop have very little interest in women’s issues. First and foremost rap addresses racism–– a critical issue for men and women both nationally and globally. Too often however, these political anthems are not intersectional. I’m sure most of us know the feeling of thinking we’ve found a great new rap song until about thirty seconds in when the artist starts describing how he’s going to force women to have sex with him. Suddenly your foot stops tapping and you’re not feeling as empowered as you were a second ago. Of course there are countless male rappers out there who don’t do this, but I think we can agree this is an all too familiar feeling for those of us who seek out rap in our day to day lives. Which is why, now more than ever, it is time for female hip hop artists to finally have their time in the limelight.

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It’s interesting to note that, generally speaking, female rappers are much more likely to include political lyrics in their songs than male rappers. There are many possible reasons for this, but one of them is simply that women have to work much harder than their male peers to get the mic in the first place, so are probably more inclined to say something that really needs to be heard. Unlike what was mentioned earlier, female rappers are consistently intersectional and most songs will engage with both gender and race, rarely choosing one. One of the most common threads in hip hop by women is the idea of ownership over their own body and sexuality, two things which are often portrayed as under male control in mainstream media. There is little more refreshing to me as a woman in the United States than seeing another woman stand up, take control, get angry, and rile up a crowd all while being sexy as hell.

With all of this said, now more than ever it is time for us, as hip hop consumers, to support and nurture female rappers. They stand strong in solidarity against sexist and racist rhetoric that is too often a structure for our society. Female rappers are a triple threat: they are women, they are usually people of color, and they refuse to be silenced. They are prepared and capable to be our generation’s revolutionary leaders––if only we would open our ears and listen to what they have to say! The hip hop industry has been paving the way to produce political leaders for years, it’s now time to give these women the platform for their own voices and a fan base to support them.

So where do we begin?

For starters, tune in to Queen Beats every Tuesday night from 12-2am on KZSC, Santa Cruz. (88.1FM or kzsc.org) Next, like Queen Beats on Facebook and stay updated with what women are up to in the hip hop industry: https://www.facebook.com/QueenBeatsKZSC/

Call in! Make requests! Enjoy! We are the generation that is going to give these women their space, so let’s start now!

*artists shown in included images– top: Alphamama, bottom: Akua Naru, featured image: Soom T

SHARON JONES

JAZZ CHARTS NOVEMBER

Hello all you jazzy listeners and KZSC supporters!

Here are the Jazz Charts for this week! Make sure you check out or jazz programming including shows like Clam Chops on Tuesdays at 12pm and Jazz Kitty on Saturdays at 12pm.

Peace and Jazz y’all.

Album Artist Year Label
True North Leslie Pintchik

2016

Pintch Hard Records
Otis Was a Polar Bear Allison Miller

2016

The Royal Potato Family
Astral Progressions Josef Leimberg

2016

World Galaxy / Alpha Pup Records
Day Breaks Norah Jones

2016

Blue Note Records
You & I (Deluxe Edition) Ala.ni

2016

No Format!
Shelter from the storm Barb Jungr

2016

linn rocords
Carolina Carol Saboya

2016

AAM Music
Harlem On My Mind Catherine Russell

2016

Jazz Village
Language of the Heart D’erania

2016

Everlove Music
Soul Eyes Kandace Springs

2016

Capitol Records, LLC

Listen to Morganic’s EVERY SHADE OF BLUE, MONDAYS 8:30 pm – 10 pm!

Rest in Power to Mose Allison & Sharon Jones.

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LOUD ROCK OCTOBER CHARTS

The spookiest season of the year is here! Perfect time for some charts of the best Loud Rock albums that have come out recently or are coming out soon! Blow out your eardrums and headbang along to these tasty new jams…

  1. Neurosis – Fires Within Fires
  2. 40 Watt Sun – Wider Than The Sky
  3. Subrosa – For This We Fought The Battle Of Ages
  4. Negura Bunget – Zi
  5. Truckfighters – V
  6. Pallbearer – Fear and Fury EP
  7. Blood Incantation – Starspawn
  8. Darkthrone – Arctic Thunder
  9. Brujeria – Pocho Aztlan
  10. Beelzefuzz – The Righteous Bloom

For doom metal fans, definitely check out Neurosis’ new album, especially the first track, “Bending Light.” SUPER heavy without using riffs as a crutch. Honestly up there with some of their best releases.

For those that like their metal faster, I would definitely recommend “Chaoplasm” off of Blood Incantation’s new album Starspawn. Death metal that immaculately balances raw aggression and atmosphere.

 

Catch DJ Catfish along with Firey Nairi Mondays 10 – Midnight on Cries & Whispers!

 

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BETTER LATE THAN NEVER: Outside Lands 2016

In San Francisco, the foggy summer is host to the annual Outside Lands concert, held every August in Golden Gate park. The event takes place over one weekend, starting on Friday and ending on Sunday and draws crowds who enjoy an eclectic mix of music. This year’s headliners included artists from Duran Duran to Chance the Rapper to Lionel Richie to LCD Soundsystem, J. Cole, and Radiohead. But one great thing about the festival is that they also feature a good mix of lesser known artists, many of which are from the surrounding areas. Not only does Outside Lands feature musical artists, but ever since the 2012 festival they have featured a full comedy lineup as well. This year’s guests included Sasheer Zamata, Fred Armisen and many more.

I got the opportunity to attend Outside Lands this year and was blown away by the incredible talent that could be found happening all at once. One thing I noticed was the vast variety of styles and atmospheres gathered by each performer. At the festival there were young groups of friends, probably high school aged, there were older couples, and there were also middle aged couples with their kids. This diverse mix shows just how wide-ranging the artists featured were and how really, Outside Lands has something for each person who attends. This also affected the atmosphere of the crowd at different shows, and created a somewhat stratified and distinct attitude at each performance. Each show garnered a specific crowd mentality, which is usually seen at single artist or group concerts but it was interesting to see the differences walking from stage to stage. I think a lot of this had to do with the attitude of the performer, and the music people came to the festival for, since as I mentioned the lineup was incredibly eclectic. To give a glimpse into this, following is a shortened list of some of the artists who performed each day.

On Friday the lineup featured artists such as Whitney, Marian Hill, Ra Ra Riot, Vulfpeck, Foals, Miike Snow, Låplsey, Duran Duran, Grimes, and J. Cole but my day ended with LCD Soundsystem, playing at the Lands End stage located in Polo Field at the West end of the festival. Saturday’s lineup included Years & Years, Vince Staples, Big Grams (a collaboration between Big Boi and Phantogram), Con Brio, Air, Sufjan Stevens, Halsey, Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals, Zedd, and Radiohead. On Saturday there was even a show by Bay Area hip hop legends E-40 and Warren G which was added a few days before the festival. Sunday’s lineup highlighted artists including The Oh Hellos, Snakehips, Third Eye Blind, Kehlani, Chance The Rapper, Major Lazer, Miguel, Lana Del Rey and Lionel Richie.One of my favorite performances was that of the band Con Brio, who played on Saturday, the second day of the festival. The energy felt by the performers was mirrored by the crowd as those listening took a ride from funky to serious to sexy and bold. Every member of the band was having fun and you could tell. The performance ended with a bang as the lead singer, Ziek McCarter did backflips for the crowd, each one fueled by more cheers and applause.

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Another great performance was by Anderson .Paak and the Free Nationals. While the atmosphere was a lot different at this performance, it was just as intense and felt by every person in the crowd. The atmosphere here was a lot louder and intense, which fit the music just as the other performances. I could feel the high energy of the crowd as Anderson .Paak started off his set solo with some fast paced beats. After the first few songs, his band the Free Nationals came out, and after another few he started to play the drums. The crowd was singing along and cheering throughout each song.

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Overall the experience was incredible and I can’t wait to see some of these artists in solo concerts or upcoming festivals. Outside Lands was a great opportunity to see the wide variety of music and how such a diverse lineup can bring people who might never otherwise be at the same show together. One of the huge takeaways from Outside Lands is that no matter what kind of music floats your boat, you can enjoy it with many others and maybe even find something new and out of your normal set to appreciate. I’m sure my feelings represent many others when I say I left the long weekend happy, tired, and excited for what’s to come next in the bustling world of music.

DJ vivs will be hosting That’s Fresh, Thursdays 10pm – Midnight, starting October 6th, 2016! Make sure to check out our new Fall 2016 schedule here!

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Truly “old skool” college radio.

On September 8th, Harvard University turns 380! So it is rather fitting that such a venerable institution would also have 8 decades of broadcasting under its belt. In 1940, the Harvard Crimson Network, WHCN, was one of America’s first college radio stations. In 1943 there was a change of call letters to, WHRV (Harvard Radio Voice). Then, on February 1st of 1951, WHRB was born. But it was not until 1957 that the Harvard Radio Broadcasting Company Incorporated acquired a commercial FM license at 107.1 (which was moved over to 95.3 a few years later).

With such a long history, it is no surprise that WHRB has some historic programs. Hillbilly at Harvard is a country music show that started all the way back in 1948!

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Then there is, Sunday Night at the Opera, which has been on the airwaves for over 50 years now. And it sure shows when you see the size of the station’s classical music collection; truly extensive and probably one of the largest of its kind among college radio stations.

Since 1994 WHRB has been in the basement of Pennypacker Hall, just a minute walk from the heart of Harvard Square. The hall was built in 1927 and Harvard acquired it in 1958. My guess is that the station has one of the most unusual lay outs in all of college radio. There is a small maze of corners to turn and short hallways to walk down, leading to unlabeled doorways. Behind most of these doors are rooms containing the separate parts of WHRB’s music library.

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WHRB publishes its schedule three times a year, and it has to be the most densely packed and well detailed program guide of any college radio station in the nation. We are talking the really fine print. Plus, each Winter and Spring feature “orgies” in which concentrated blocks of air time are devoted to a whole host of composers, artists, genres, subjects, concepts etc. It’s a tradition that is the stuff of legend. Back in 1943, as the story goes, an undergrad was so happy to have passed some rather difficult exams, he went ahead and played all 9 of Beethoven’s symphonies in a row. So, as a nod to this legend, the “orgy periods” are timed to coincide with major exams because the station actually gets short staffed with all the students out taking tests. Because, I have to guess, that graduating from Harvard is even harder than getting into Harvard.

Many thanks to Robby Erikson for showing me around the station.

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