Concert Benefits DJ Kool Herc, Focuses on Health Care

24 02 2011

Friday, February 18, three of the city’s leading DJs performed at a benefit concert for hip-hop music pioneer DJ Kool Herc.  DJ Pillo, Apryl Reign and Mista Rare Groove headlined the affair at Main Event in downtown Cincinnati. The event was the second collaboration between the three artists as par of a regular show they have begun called “Selectas Choice.”

With the aid of both turntables and laptops, the DJs kept their audience dancing as they spun and scratched records all night from 10pm until after 4am. The set list drew from a variety of hip-hop, R&B and soul musicians including A Tribe Called Quest, Prince, Salt-N-Pepa, Cee Lo and the Jackson 5. Both the music and the cause attracted a lively crowd that included a few influential names in the Cincinnati hip-hop scene like musician Marvin Hawkins, author Kathy Y. Wilson and radio personality Perry Simmons.

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Tweeting from DJ Kool Herc Benefit Concert

19 02 2011

Friday night DJ Pillo, Mista Rare Groove and April Reign — three of Cincinnati’s premier DJs — performed at Main Event for their second “Selectas Choice” concert. This time they donated the proceeds to help hip-hop legend DJ Kool Herc, also known as Clive Campbell. The benefit concert was part of a nation-wide effort to raise money for his recent medical expenses.

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Winter Revolution: A Holiday Playlist for the Rest of Us

5 12 2010

“He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.”

– Luke 1:51-53, NIV (from “Mary’s Song”)

See the whole list on YouTube – A Holiday Playlist for the Rest of Us

1. Matisyahu – “Miracle”

The cover of the album "Handel's Messiah: A Soulful Celebration." Released in 1992 by Warner Alliance.

2.  Rage Against The Machine – “No Shelter”

3.  Patti Austin – “But Who May Abide the Day of His Coming”

(from the album Handel’s Messiah, A Soulful Celebration)

4. Stevie Wonder – “Someday At Christmas”

5. Flobots – “Whip$ and Chain$”

6. Kirk Franklin – “Revolution”

7. Tracy Chapman – “Talkin’ Bout A Revolution”

8.  Erran Baron Cohen (feat. Jules Brookes & Y-Love) – “Dreidel”

9. John Lennon – “Happy Christmas (War is Over)”

10. Anita Baker – “Christmas Time Is Here” (originally from A Charlie Brown Christmas)

11. Kanye West – “Family Business”

12. Donny Hathaway – “This Christmas”

13. Queen – “Thank God It’s Christmas”

14. Green Day – “Holiday”

15. Ben Harper – “Better Way”

16. Enya – “Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel”

17. Adam Sandler – “The Hanuka Song”

18. Common – “The Light”

19. U2 – “Peace on Earth”

20. Jars of Clay – “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman”

21. José Feliciano – Niño Jesus

22. Kurtis Blow – “Christmas Rapping”

23. Lauryn Hill – “Joyful Joyful”

24. Paul Simon – “Getting Ready for Christmas Day”

25. Will Smith Feat. K-Ci – “Will 2K”

Honorable Mentions — Some of my favorite holiday moments from TV and film

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Cincinnati Magazine »» The Dynamo of OTR: Cedric Michael Cox

6 10 2010

Check out my article about visual artist Cedric Michael Cox featured in this week’s issue of Cincinnati Magazine!

The magazine hit shelves this month and is available all over the Cincinnati area. You can also find it online here.

October 2010 cover of Cincinnati Magazine

The cover of the October 2010 issue of Cincinnati Magazine.

Here’s a little sneak peak:

◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊

Cedric Michael Cox is wide awake as he trots down the stairs of the Kennedy Heights Arts Center. He was up most of the previous night, preparing for an exhibition at the Weston Art Gallery, but the hours spent in his Over-the-Rhine studio don’t show. The 34-year-old seems as fresh and feisty as the kids waiting for him in the classroom of the old mansion on Montgomery Road.

Cox is managing 11 kids—three white, the rest black, like him. In blue jeans, with his dreadlocks loosely pulled behind his head, he doesn’t look like much of an authoritarian. With his easygoing smile and the fact that, at five-foot-one, he’s shorter than some of the preteens enrolled in “Camp Create,” you might mistake him for a cool older brother. But the kids know who’s in charge…

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Great artists that happen to be Muslims: Suheir Hammad

11 09 2010

There’s… adult language… in this. Viewer discretion is advised.

Palestinian-American poet Suheir Hammad is one of those writers that can take the wind out of you with the shear potency of her words.

She was born in Jordan to refugee parents who were expelled from Palestine. The family eventually settled in Brooklyn, New York, where Hammad grew up immersed in the hip hop culture blossoming in the city in the ’70s and ’80s.

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Great artists that happen to be Muslims: Mos Def & K’Naan

20 08 2010

I was flipping through the channels the other night when I stumbled across a couple of great re-runs of Austin City Limits on PBS. (As often as this happens, you’d think I would actually make a note of when Austin City Limits comes on and deliberately plan to watch it. And yet, I don’t. But that’s a blog for another day.) I had way too much fun singing along with the two artists that were featured that night — Mos Def from Brooklyn, New York and K’Naan from Toronto, Canada (by way of Somalia).

After the show was over it occurred to me that both of these inspiring artists are Muslims — people who, by association, are being unfairly smeared by way too many media voices right now. Perhaps fewer people would accept all the stereotyping and hatred directed at Islam if they were more aware of some of the Muslims they come across in life.

So I decided to highlight a few Muslim artists that have made significant inroads with American audiences. It’s my own tiny way of reminding people of the valuable contributions Muslims make to to our culture. So many Muslims are our friends and neighbors, not our enemies. Protecting their religious freedom under the First Amendment is really about protecting those freedoms for all of us.

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Defend Atlantis: Confronting climate change with J.R.R. Tolkien & the Flobots

19 05 2010
Sauron Defeated. 2002 Edition. HarperCollins. Cover illustration by John Howe.

Depiction of the drowning of Numenor. Art by John Howe. Paperback cover of Sauron Defeated, published by Harper Collins.

“Then suddenly… there came a mighty wind and a tumult of the earth, and the sky reeled, and the hills slid, and Númenor went down into the sea…”from The Akallabêth by J.R.R. Tolkien

“And survival hinged on the ascent by the humble… We let the altars die to keep our pulse alive.” – from “Defend Atlantis” by the Flobots

As I watch the suspiciously opaque “climate bill” flounder in the Senate, I find that my mind keeps drifting to the legend of Atlantis.

No, seriously.

The story of Atlantis has been retold scores of times by different artists since the days of  Plato. But my favorite by far has long been J.R.R. Tolkien’s version, as recounted in The Silmarillion, a collection of the histories that form the back story of The Lord of the Rings.

I’m also a big fan of hip-hop/rock band the Flobots. As I wrote in SPIN Earth a while back, their latest album, Survival Story,  has a lot to do with environmental justice, especially global warming. And they retell the story of Atlantis in their own way in their music.

The other day I had an epiphany about an important insight these Atlantis stories share. And you don’t have to be a fan of either to appreciate it.

Both the Flobots and Tolkien suggest that our environmental issues are about far more than politics or economics. In a very real sense, they say, the root of these problems is actually about idolatry — what some might call free-market fundamentalism.

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