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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.

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     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

Jazzy and Bluesy News

Hello KZSC listeners,

Here are some fun videos to get your week started off on a bluesy note…

Check back tomorrow for some jazz and blues charts.

Keep it bluesy y’all.

Santa Cruz County Art of Guitar Exhibit and Festival

There are many luthiers in the Santa Cruz area creating beautiful instruments, and handmade guitars are being exhibited during the month of February through March 15, 2014, as part of the very first Santa Cruz County Art of Guitar Exhibit and Festival. An assortment of instruments are on display at the R. Blitzer Gallery on the West Side of Santa Cruz, CA and you can hear these guitars being played at various venues in a series of concerts (check the main festival website for details). Performers include Jayme Kelly Curtis, founder of the festival, Kenny Hill, William Coulter, Muriel Anderson, Marty O’Reilly, and many more. The Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History‘s free First Friday of February event (2/7/14) will feature a Hill Guitar Company shop setup displaying how classical guitars are made, crafts activities for kids, a harmonics/physics demonstration and lecture by David Winters, guitar strap weaving, and many live performances by artists throughout the evening. A locally produced book by Jim MacKenzie and Renee Flower featuring photos and essays about local instrument builders has also been released in association with the exhibit.

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KZSC Jazz Charts 5/6 and Featured Artist Sarah Elizabeth Charles

All of the cats at KZSC have been enjoying a huge influx of the finest jazz in lieu of the recent JAM (Jazz Appreciation Month) of April. Now that April has ended, the fun hasn’t stopped in May and we continue to recieve tons of titles from our promoters!

Here, some of the most popular plays are listed:

1 ELDAR DJANGIROV Breakthrough
2 MARC BERNSTEIN Hymn For Life
3 HEATHER MASSE AND DICK HYMAN Lock My Heart
4 JANE MONHEIT The Heart Of The Matter
5 ANTHONY BRANKER AND WORD PLAY Uppity
6 LISA HILTON Getaway
7 MADELEINE PEYROUX The Blue Room
8 MICHAEL BLANCO No Time Like the Present
9 SARAH ELIZABETH CHARLES Red
10 MIKROKOLEKTYW Absent Minded
Among these is a very talented artist recently featured here at KZSC, and goes by the name Sarah Elizabeth Charles. Emerging from the vibrant jazz scene of New York City and producing through Truth Revolution Records, Sarah recently completed a tour of the west coast going through Seattle, San Francisco, Berkeley AND she even came up to our lovely little KZSCabin in the woods! Her recent recording of the album “RED” with her quartet is certainly something worth listening to. We completed a studio interview last week, which should air on my show Stirrin’ the Soup on Thursday 2-4pm.
Sarah has already played some of the greatest venues in NYC, including Dizzy’s, the Blue Note and the Iridium. Her expression doesn’t stop at RED- I’m told that there is more to look forward to the end of this year and the the following.As usual, the jazz/blues department at KZSC is committed to keeping things fresh…We are receiving nothing but the newest recordings from all over the country and we want to spin them for YOU! If you want to hear it all, tune into some of the great shows throughout the week:Your favorite kind of American folk music on American Spirit, Wednesdays 9am-12pm
A mix that contains non-GMO soul on Stirrin the Soup, 2-4 pm Thursdays.
See how it’s all related on Not So Distant Relatives, Fridays 2-4pm.
The finest women of jazz on Jazz Kitty, Saturdays 12-2pm.
Still want more??? We know you do. Check out the program schedule in the tab at the top of this page to see what else is cookin’.We thank you for listening, we thank the artists for swinging, and the promoters for mailing. Until next time.

Slam Dunk, Da Funk

Winter is not only a time for hot cocoa and new year’s resolutions – it is a time for NBA basketball.

The city of Santa Cruz is taking the NBA D-League by storm this winter with the Santa Cruz Warriors performing far beyond expectations and making league history.  Currently, the SC Warriors are number one in the West Division with a record of 9-4.  After winning their first game in the history of Santa Cruz before a sellout crowd, defeating the Bakersfield Jam 93-88, the Warriors were off to a great start to the NBA D-League Season.

In addition to their outstanding victories, Santa Cruz Warriors guard Travis Leslie has been named NBA Development League Player of the Month of January for games played in November and December.  The first honor of the 2012-2013 season is also the first of Leslie’s NBA D-League career.  On January 7th, the NBA D-League announced that Leslie will compete in the Showcase slam dunk competition on Wednesday.

For updates, statistics, and schedules of the Santa Cruz Warriors visit www.nba.com/dleague/santacruz.

Keep tuned in to Slug Talk every Friday from 5-6pm to hear all the latest news.

 

Santa Cruz Golden State Warriors

On November 2, 2012, the city of Santa Cruz made basketball history.  The Santa Cruz Warriors, the official D-League affiliate of the Golden State Warriors, made eight selections during the 2012 NBA D-League Draft, marking the first D-League draft in Santa Cruz history.

The first-ever selection by the Santa Cruz Warriors was awarded to 6’4’’ guard Travis Leslie from Georgia.  In the 2011 NBA Draft, Leslie was picked 47th in the second round by the Los Angeles Clippers.  During the 2011 season, Leslie played 10 games for the clippers and four preseason games this year.  The Georgia native averaged 14.4 points 7.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists shooting 49.2% from the field in his last year at the University of Georgia.  With his prior NBA experience and outstanding athletic qualities, Leslie will be a great asset to the Santa Cruz Golden State Warriors and will benefit from time in the D-League.

In addition to the likings of Leslie, the Santa Cruz Warriors chose T.J. Robinson, a 6’8’’ forward from Long Beach State, as the first pick of the third round and the second oveall draft pick.  Robinson averaged 12 points and 10.2 rebounds in 34 games his senior year.

In the following rounds, the Santa Cruz Warriors picked Faisal Aden from Washington State, Durrell Summers from Michigan State, Steve Tchiengang from Vanderbilt, and Darren Moore from UC Irvine.  In addition to the draft picks, two players from local open tryouts were chosen for the D-League team.  Japeth Aguilar, a 6’10” center from Western Kentucky who has played professionally in the Philippines, participated in open tryouts in Oakland. Arron Mollet, a 6’3” guard from Notre Dame de Namur who played basketball at Gavilan College and Del Mar High in San Jose, participated in open tryouts at Aptos High School.

The 2012-13 season will begin on Sunday, December 2nd at Reno, NV.  The Santa cruz Warriors will hold their first home game on Sunday, December 23rd against Bakersfield.

For more information on the Santa Cruz Warriors, visit http://www.nba.com/dleague/santacruz/