New American Songbook

"In 20 years of listening to hip hop, its music and stories have never left me unchallenged or unchanged. Throughout its history—from Kool Herc to KRS and beyond—hip hop has told the story of America through the styles of noir, memoir, jazz and rhythm and blues, comic books and blockbuster action movies. It is everything we say we are, and those things we maintain we are not. This is the new American Songbook." - KMUW commentator, Zack Gingrich-Gaylord  

New American Songbook can be heard on alternate Mondays, or through iTunes.

Jazz and hip hop have always been a natural fit, although sometimes a kitschy one. Hip hop has always taken notice of jazz music, most obviously through prolific sampling, but jazz also comes up in the deep history of hip hop: the Notorious B.I.G. reportedly learned his flow, his style of rapping, by first learning bebop riffs and scat syllables from an older jazz musician.

Wikipedia

Somewhere in the vast pantheon of alternate universes and parallel worlds, there is an earth, much like ours, where Shaquille O’Neal is one of the greatest rappers of all time who for a brief period dabbled in basketball. It’s a world a little bit more ridiculous than our own, but nice in its own ways, gentler maybe, more enthusiastic.

In 1999, four New York City police officers shot and killed Amadou Diallo, a 22-year old immigrant from Guinea. Diallo was struck by nineteen bullets—the police had ultimately fired 41 times. It was a fatal case of mistaken identity: the police thought Diallo was someone else, he ran and they fired.

Danny Clinch

Location is more than latitude and longitude. Where you are is one part of it, of course, but how you are—and even more, how you are where you are—is also ‘your location’. I was reminded of this recently by two distinct pieces of music: the 1994 album ‘Illmatic’ by Nas, and Macklemore’s just-released song ‘White Privilege 2’.

rapgenius.com

‘Blackstar,’ the last album from pop star David Bowie, begs to be interpreted. Like many other Bowie albums, it carries with it its own mythos, and in the wake of his death, there is a sense of urgency to demystify the record, to glean some last message that must surely be embedded in the music. However, for hip hop fans, the task isn’t to decode but to distinguish—we already have a Blackstar and the question of what or who that is was settled in 1998.  

On Christmas Day, television viewers of the basketball game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors saw the debut of a commercial for a virtual reality headset. The ad featured LeBron James, of of the Cavs, lip-syncing the song 'Welcome to the Terrordome,' by rap pioneers Public Enemy.

Wikipedia

Rap super-groups—let’s say groups with three or more emcees—have been around since the beginning of hip hop. Most people are probably familiar with the Sugar Hill Gang, or more specifically, the one rap song that even your grandparents know:

bluescholars.com

Like all good religions, hip hop is obsessed with beginnings—the origin stories of both the culture and individual artists are enduring topics in rap music. These stories serve a dual purpose: to establish the credibility of the artist within hip hop culture, and to recall the past, often as a critique of the present.

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KMUW's Zack Gingrich-Gaylord celebrates the return of a master.

As we take another look into the New American Songbook, KMUW's Zack Gingrich-Gaylord revisits an example of how the poetry of hip hop is a lot more broad than some people realize.

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