Hungry Lloyd Banks Leaves Audience Satisfied

By Dashaun Simmons

Some might say G-Unit isn’t much of a unit these days. With Game over on the West Coast still asking for a reunion, Young Buck drowning in tax troubles and sub par sales from each remaining member, times are tough. Lloyd Banks was actually dropped from G-Unit Records distributor Interscope in 2009, but he didn’t let that stop him. Instead Banks went back to the drawing board and pulled out the club smash Beemer, Benz or Bentley featuring Juelz Santana, and went on to earn a gold single independently. This paved the way for his latest release “The Hunger For More 2”.

For almost a full year Banks has prepared this new album dropping multiple singles to get back into the limelight through his new deal with G-Unit/EMI. It is an accomplishment for him to even have an album release show at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square at this point in his career. The audience was comprised of hood cats rocking fitted caps alongside fist pumpers with gel in their hair. All were in the house for some southside Queens hip hop. Banks’ opening acts were both relatively unknown to his fan base and to the industry at large. The first artist on the bill Theo Martins seems to be cut from the B.O.B. / Lupe Fiasco lineage. He does the same hop step that Lupe is known for on stage accompanied by music that ventures from traditional rap to crossover “Airplanes” type material. The crowd was NOT amused. He was booed offstage with no mercy. The second act Homeboy Sandman did little better to win the crowd. Sandman has created a respectable following in the underground scene in NY (or what’s left of it). He has an album out and can flow for days. However this audience did not care a bit about any of that. If your name wasn’t Lloyd Banks you needed to get off the stage. They let this Queens Homeboy know just that by tossing debris onstage during his performance. It wasn’t pretty.

A full hour after Sandman’s performance Lloyd Banks arrived on stage with DJ Whoo Kid on the 1s and 2s. As Banks and his unnamed hypeman began to rock, the annoyed crowd went right back to fan mode. Banks had the energy of a man on a mission. The mission was to get his spot back in the rap game; even if that spot was a number 2 slot behind a man whose popularity was falling by the second. You have to respect Banks for not resting on 50 Cent’s shoulders and going out on his own to make his projects work. Curtis wasn’t even at this show to support his artist. Banks however did take it back to the old G-Unit days by performing “I Smell Pussy” from their debut group album. The crowd ate it up as if Irv Gotti and Ja Rule were still viable opponents for Banks and his team. The performance of Banks’ debut single “On Fire” still puts the crowd on tilt like it just came out. The spotlight tonight was all on Banks…and well his laundry list of collaborators for the new album. Folks like Ryan Leslie, Red Café, Fabolous and crooner Jerimiah shared the stage at different parts of the night. New addition to the G.O.O.D Music label, Pusha T no doubt in town with his new boss Kanye (who was performing across town at the Bowery) popped in for two quick verses. It was good seeing so many artists supporting Banks and his new project. The songs performed from the new album ranged from mean mug street joints to lady friendly softer jams with a mix of club bangers thrown in for good measure. Banks isn’t straying far from the formula he knows.

When the track for Beemer, Benz or Bentley dropped the ladies went crazy. Juelz taking the stage in a fitted cap so low you couldn’t see his eyes didn’t hurt either. With the energy in the building already high Banks finished up with a song the whole place was yelling for all night, “Start It Up”. The posse cut features almost everybody in the rap world. You’d half expect DJ Khalid to yell out “WE THE BEST” at any moment during the song… but thankfully he doesn’t. Swizz Beats ran out on stage for this one with Pusha T taking Kanye’s spot in the lineup. It seemed like the perfect theme music for Banks breathing new life into his career. Start It Up indeed.


Rock The Bells NYC (Rock The Rich)

All Photos by Cochrane |

By Dashaun Simmons

At first glance the idea of shelling out a minimum of 100+ tax dollars on a hip-hop concert in a recession seems more than a little out of the question. However on August 38th scores of hip hop fans showed up on Governors Island in NY to collectively throw their hands in the air. Who amongst the working public could resist seeing A Tribe Called Quest, Wu Tang Clan and Snoop Dogg all performing their universally accepted (ask Lupe Fiasco) classics? The early arrivals were treated to golden age veterans Slick Rick and Boogie Down Productions (KRS – ONE). These two acts recreated their landmark albums The Adventures of Slick Rick and Criminal Minded respectively to a new audience. KRS-ONE tested these ticket holders a few times to see if they knew the lyrics to the many classic songs on his first album. Unfortunately concert goers able to afford this concert in this economy, weren’t necessarily the target audience for early BDP. To their credit they did appreciate the guest appearance of Buckshot, and Freddy Foxx playing the role of hype man.

Following BDP the question mark act of the tour Ms. Lauryn Hill took the stage with her band opening with Lost Ones. Since the beginning of the Rock The Bells tour folks have been skeptical of her return to the stage and looking for her to fail. Unfortunately this performance did little to shut up her naysayers. Backed by a somewhat loose band arrangement Lauryn flew frantically through her classic songs over unrecognizable rockish backdrops. The audience would get hype at the opening lines classics like Ex-Factor and Fu-Gee-La, but by the end find themselves lost in the unfamiliar territory. The sound during this set was terrible which didn’t help. The most memorable point of Lauryn’s set was when a barrage of star power emerged from backstage. Ms. Hill pulled everyone from Chris Rock (who was like a little kid on stage taking pics with his phone) to power couples Jay Z and Beyonce along with their counterparts Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz. However it must be noted Lauryn exhibited the energy of a true emcee on that stage. With a little work and maybe more preparation she could command the stage as she once did.

As the day moved on next up on the main stage was A Tribe Called Quest. For a group who broke up over a decade ago they haven’t lost a single step. Once Tribe emerged on stage you knew you were in the presence of showmen. These were gentlemen who take the art of performing seriously and entertain. They moved through their mid 90s classic Midnight Marauders flawlessly, although not exactly in song order. Phife and Q-tip played off each other so much, it seemed as if this group with once strained relations had forgiven all and were back to their days of asking “Can I Kick It”. Even the sometimes y of the group Jarobi was on deck. With the assistance of the mighty infamous Busta Rhymes and a true school graduate Large Professor this Queens crew held it down.

Wu-Tang quickly followed the Queens team and swarmed the stage with all living members of the group. The only new addition was O.D.B’s eldest son Boy Jones who looks and acts like his father. If you’ve seen one Wu show you’ve seen them all. The legions of fans throwing their Ws in the air showing who they came to see. You could make a game of counting how many fans had Wu-Tang tattoos on their bodies. If someone doubts the influence of possibly the greatest rap group ever, take them to a Wu-Tang show.

The headliner for the day Snoop Dogg, brought the old Death Row team to do his debut DoggyStyle.  Snoop, another performer who’s learned a thing or two about entertaining the crowd made it worth the wait for his midnight performance. From the multiple 40 ounces displayed on the stage to the interlude videos starring Snoop and his Dogg Pound crew, if you were a fan you were in heaven. All in all the NY fans were treated to a well organized show and got a proper bang for their buck.

Distant Relatives find a home in Brooklyn

By Dashaun Simmons

On a warm afternoon in Williamsburg, Brooklyn fans of both hip hop and reggae came together to celebrate a rare pairing. One half Brooklyn born, Queens raised street rap, the other half Jamaica bred, reggae royalty. On paper the pairing of Nas and Damian Marley seems too big to work. Both have huge fan bases and are very successful on their own. Also we have all seen what can happen when two genres try to do a full project together. (Best of Both Worlds anyone?) So it’s easy to give a side eye to this project. However these guys prove their disbelievers wrong and gave fans of both genres a reason to party together.

The line for entry (which started around 3:00) stretched three city blocks in anticipation. Ticket holding fans mixed in with a number of hopefuls looking for anyone willing to sell an extra ticket, were excited to sing along, dance and…maybe smoke some weed. Let’s be real here, this is at least a half reggae concert, and therefore weed should be expected like wool scarves being worn in the summer (this is Williamsburg still). The weed part of the evening was in a word interesting due to the large amount of Homeland Security officers ejecting random folks found smoking the modern burning bush. Who would have thought Babylon rules would be enforced at a concert with a Marley on the bill. I suppose this is the new New York. Yet, when early on lighters were tossed from the stage into the audience, it’s hard to make sense of the whole thing. Unfortunately random arrests weren’t the only thing this audience had to worry about. The show itself took 3 hours to get started. About two hours were filled with DJ sets by Hot 97 personalities Bobby Konders, Jabba and Peter Rosenburg. The audience ate up the old reggae tunes as well as the hard-hitting rap tracks played by both groups (except the swag rap segment which was met with boos and thumbs down literally).

As the sun began to set and the band took the stage you could feel the energy rise in the venue. Once the music for the opening for the track “As We Enter” started, Damian walked out to huge cheers making way for Nas to join him. The two of them destroyed their set, flowing back and forth as if they’ve been performing together for years. After doing a few songs from the Distant Relatives album, Damian retired to allow Nas time to commune with his fellow New Yorkers. During this set fans were treated to songs like “Represent” and “If I Ruled The World”. Amazingly, Nas remembered all the lyrics to his songs. This is a rare occurrence.

The Distant Relatives album is perfect for a sold out show like this. Songs like “Dispear”, “Nah Mean” and “Strong Will Continue” keep the crowd on their toes pumping their fists and shouting along with immense feeling. For a moment Nas lets his guard down after rapping about his ex wife’s possible infidelity during their marriage. He says he’s been “going through it” and the fans on this night feel him.

Damian’s solo set while longer than Nas’ was equally enjoyable. This was especially evident when he performed his father’s legendary song Exodus. You could feel history being made right before your eyes. The two performers finished off this intense show with a range of emotions from songs like “Count Your Blessings” to the beautiful “Africa Must Wake Up”. The audience fell completely under their spell following Nas and Damian’s every word from raising lighters to fist pumping and none of it felt forced or contrived. There was a true moment being had both on stage and in the audience. By the hugs and handshakes given throughout the crowd at the end of the show, it seemed that more Distant Relatives were found that night in Brooklyn.

Global Hip-Hop

The only Intl Hip Hop showcase at CMJ where acts from many regions around the world perform under one roof! Excellent talent- and US debuts for most of them…

Here’s a link to a mixtape we made specially for the event.

7PM Thursday, October 22nd


At Versaris- Spain

Alfaress- Morocco

Nomadic Massive -Canada

La Melodia- Holland

Phat Phillie- Croatia

Coolooloosh- Israel

DJ Boo on the decks

Hosted by Blitz The Ambassador


De La Soul 20 Years High and Rising | Nokia Theatre NYC

By Dashaun Simmons/ Mothergreen & h.k.m.

Photo’s by Shino Yanagawa (iPhone)

At the Nokia theater in New York City a celebration was going on last night. Some would say it was a show but I say a celebration. People from all walks of life came together to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of their album 3 Feet High and Rising. I have to say those boys Pos, Dave and Mase know how to put on a show. I mean when you have Bumpy Knuckles and Buckshot opening up for you, you already know what’s up. I walked in on Buckshot’s show after talking to a myriad of friends. He was straight killing the stage. The crowd was heavy into his show as he performed jams from the Enta Da Stage album. I was really excited when he did the first verse from his new single with KRS One “Robot”. I think the song has a lot of promise (yeah I said promise).

Next up was De La straight from Long Island. Plugs 1,2 and 3 came with it and really showed that they deserve such a long career. The show was full amazing moments assisted by the 10 piece band called the Rhythm Roots All Stars. The executions of songs I’m used to hearing on a CD were flawless. The energy level of these brothers who are all significantly older than me (and many of the new rappers on the scene today)put folks to shame. I particularly loved when they performed the songs Stakes Is High and BUDDY with stage assistance from Ali Shaheed Muhammed along with Dres from Black Sheep.

What was amazing to me is that the real stars of the show were the celebration attendees. The crowd was simply amazing. Thus the pictures chosen for this piece. I was fortunate to have a balcony seat and the view of the crowd rocking during the song “The Grind Date”. The scene was mesmerizing. Not to mention when De La performed Rock Box and to add insult to a microphone beat down brought DMC on stage to rip it with them people lost it. Hell I almost jumped out into the crowd from where I was. Even the grand wizard Prince Paul was on deck for the event. You could feel the love in the room and I can count the number of hip hop shows that gave me that type of feeling.

A + show, would view again.

Getting IN with Keys N Krates – LIVE!

By JwaStar/Fusicology Contributor

Hot time! Summer in the city and out on their journey through Fort Greene, Brooklyn is three musicians ready to create some extra heat on the stage. Fusicology asked me, JwaStar, to come down to BK and find the infamous Canadian trio, Keys N Krates rocking it out for The Stoop in Fort Greene Park.

I arrived to a slightly sunny disposition that turned partly cloudy yet was still packed with a calm crowd of blankets and beautiful people enjoying the weather and some good music. Far from old fashioned I was able to catch up with these gentlemen to try to figure out exactly what type of mash up of dopeness this was? Hmmmm I think we may find an answer in more ways than naught. Fusicology and JwaStar presents Keys N Krates. Enjoy!

(click for audio)

Intro & Background: KeysNKrates Part 1

Inspiration & Influences: KeysNKrates Part 2

Experiences and Point of Views: KeysNKrates Part 3

Jwastar, Jr Flo (deejay), Adam Tune (drums), Matisse (keys)

Check out Keys N Krates this Wednesday, August 12th, at Santos Party House‘s newest party, Gravity.

Maxwell’s Instrumental EP

I’m a huge fan of Maxwell and came across Melo-X’s new instrumental EP. Stamped of approval by Maxwell himself, check out the link for it below.

Maxwell twitters: MELO-X’s ‘THE INSTRUMENTAL EP’ inspired by the 1st installment of the BLACKsummers’night TRILOGY. 1st release ‘the HIGHEST’ 4rom OKAYPLAYER! MELO-X what can i say… in the immortal words of CHRIS DAVE.. killin killin… killin..