10 Cool Photos of Public Enemy at the Art of Rap Show

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What would Hip Hop be like without Public Enemy? For many, Hip Hop would be a stale genre that died off a long time ago. Many like to reduce Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Professor Griff,  DJ Lord and the S1Ws and the team to just being a ‘conscious‘ rap group that gave this culture political swag.

Yes, while it’s true there’s no denying Public Enemy broke ground as a politically minded group, it should be noted they were by no means the first to drop science.  Nor were they the only ones to drop science, during the Golden Era in the late 80s, early 90s when they first hit the scene. Groups like KRS-One, Poor Righteous Teachers, X-Clan and Queen Latifah to name a few,  all came to the table with message oriented raps. Prior to them we had groups like Grandmaster Flash, Whodini, Run DMC and Kool Moe Dee who gave us songs to grow on…

What often gets overlooked about Public Enemy is their innovativeness on a number of fronts. First and foremost they elevated the art of sampling and created a style called cram sampling. They made music that was built upon layers and layers of sound that was carefully curated. The group would spend hours hunting down obscure records and then chopping them up only to have them buried under other obscure records they chopped up and buried.

Group members like Professor Griff, the Minister of Information would spend hours combing through speeches and archival footage that would layer be woven into each Public Enemy song.  This was on top of the cuts and scratches  done by team members like Johnny Juice, Terminator X and now DJ Lord.

All that was complimented with the booming voice of Chuck D which cut through the noise and the well timed vocal punches, adlibs and quick verses of Flavor Flav.  The group took sound in directions music hasn’t gone before.

The way they made records via their production team called The Bomb Squad which included brothers Hank and Keith Shockalee along with Eric ‘Vietnam’ Saddler was done so that you heard something different each time you listened to a song and album. Public Enemy made living breathing recordings which we havent seen the likes of to this day.

Once the industry evolved and put laws in place that curtailed sampling, Public Enemy flipped the script and started using a live instruments and to this day travel the world with a live band called The Banned which is headed up by Professor Griff.

Public Enemy broke ground by seeing the world as their stage.  There were others who came before them that broke ground internationally, but PE took this to new heights. They have long called  themselves global citizens with Chuck D constantly advocating for us to get passports and see the planet. The group has circled the globe on world tours over 100 times with no end in sight.  Each  country and city visited was never such in which the group stayed holed up in a fancy hotel, but instead these were grounds where they fostered strong relationships that have lasted over their 30 years as a group.

We haven’t even gotten into the major ground Public Enemy broke in terms of the internet. They pioneered recording and using the internet as a distribution platform.  They been on the web long before most even heard of the word internet.  On their 5th album Muse Sick-n-Hour Mess Age, Chuck D and long time friend Harry Allen aka the Media Assassin recorded a song which was actually a phone conversation called ‘Harry Allen’s Interactive Super Highway Phone Call to Chuck D‘ where the two talk about the future of music and how it would play out over the internet. What was said in that song recorded in 1994 has since come to pass with eerie accuracy.

The show Public Enemy put on the other night during the Art of Rap tour in San Francisco was one to marvel at as they showed and proved the heights Hip Hop has and can continue to make. There’s is no wonder why the group has been inducted into the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame. Below are photos I took as they got busy. Enjoy

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10 Cool Photos of Naughty By Nature at Art of Rap Show

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One of Hip Hop’s most enduring groups who over their 25 year tenure has delivered hit after hit is Naughty By Nature. Trigger Treach, Uncle Vinny (Vin Rock) and Kay Gee are in many ways taken for granted.

Perhaps its because they delivered some stellar crossover hits like ‘Hip Hop Hooray‘, ‘OPP‘ ‘Alright‘ and ‘Feel Me Flow’ that many have overlooked the fact that Treach is an incredible emcee with one of the best deliveries and flows in Hip Hop. He’s also a pretty good actor.

Many take for  granted the production chops of Kay Gee who has a knack for making memorable, sing along hit songs. he’s not only did it for Naughty By Nature but for other groups as well like:  Next, Queen Latifah, Jahiem and Kofy Brown to name a few. Many take for granted Vin Rock as the ultimate prototype of the Hip Hop hype man. He makes it look easy until you stand in his foot steps and try to duplicate.

Naughty By Nature has been there through the most challenging tribulations of Hip Hop from the days of the East West coast feud and PMRC censorship battles and its most soaring triumphs where Hip Hop was front in center in helping elect the nation;’s first Black president.  We salute them for their success. Below are photos I took during their Art of Rap Performance where they let it be known, after 25 years Naughty By Nature is still on the case.

Below are some of the photos I took of naughty By Nature and their dope performance the other night at the Art of Rap show in SF at the Regency Ballroom

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10 Cool Photos of Melle-Mel at the Art of Rap Show

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Here are some of the photos I took the other night of Hip Hop pioneer Melle-Mel at the recent Art of Rap Show in San Francisco. He and Scorpio formerly known as Mr Ness did a dope performance. Gotta salute them and give them major props for still going strong after all these years. At this point Melle-Mel has been on the scene for almost 40 years.. Let that sink in for a minute…

Folks should know about Melle-Mel above and beyond him being an original member of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5 . Folks should know Melle-Mel above and beyond him and the group being inducted into the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame.  Folks should know him beyond his hit records like; The Message, Beat Street and White Lines.

We should know Melle-Mle as the one who revolutionized rapping by changing the cadence and overall flow. Prior to Melle-Mel hitting the scene early rappers flowed in one of two ways. They either sounded like street hustlers who were talking in a slick, pimp like manner or they were sounding like radio disc jockeys puking on the mic.  It was Melle-Mel who  changed the cadence and  popularized the 4 count straight ahead rhyme flow used by most emcees today..

Melle-Mel is the one who personified the baritone big bass voice in rap. He’s the one who let us know how important the voice was and is in rap. Folks like Chuck D, Busta Rhymes and many more built off the big voice house that Mel built.

The brother was deemed the greatest rapper of all time by Kool Moe Dee in his book God on the Mic.

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10 Cool Photos of Ice T at the Art of Rap Show

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Great catching up with Ice T during the recent Art of Rap Show at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco. Many forget that Ice T who is featured on the TV show Law & Order is an accomplished artist who helped pioneer Hip Hop on the West Coast.  He is also a seminal figure in what many refer to as gangster rap.

Ice T is also groundbreaking in the sense that he is also known for his work in the rock arena for his group Bodycount who caused a lot of controversy in the early 90s with the song ‘Cop Killer‘.

During his performance at the Art of Rap Show Ice T put on an incredible show.  The man hasn’t lost a step. He also introduced us to a new artist who is the nephew of the late Crip founder Tookie Williams.

Ice T and talked briefly just before he hit the stage. He noted the importance of keeping Hip Hop alive and providing space for artists who bring well honed skills to the table. It’s for this reason he developed the Art of Rap Tour.

Below are some photos I took of his stellar performance.. Enjoy

Singer Joyo Velarde Represents Alongside Lyrics Born

Oct 12 2015 We recently got a chance to see Bay Area singer Joyo Velarde as she threw down some fierce vocals alongside her husband Lyrics Born during his recent show at the New Parrish. She’s definite showstopper and a powerhouse in her own right.. For those who are unfamiliar, here’s what her bio says about her:

If you lived in California in the 90s, chances are you’ve sung Joyo’s refrain in the shower. After the Manila-born NorCal transplant finished studying opera in Rome, she returned to the Bay Area, where she and future husband Lyrics Born recorded what would go on to be Solesides’ greatest hit, a little number called “Balcony Beach.” The song appeared on 1997’s Latyrx, a record that went on to sell over 100,000 copies worldwide.

As part of the seminal indie hip-hop label Quannum Projects – a group whose founders included Lyrics Born & Lateef the Truthspeaker, Blackalicious, DJ Shadow, Jeff Chang (Can’t Stop Won’t Stop/VIBE Magazine,) and Joseph Patel (MTV) – Joyo quickly found her place as “The Quannum Songstress.” In 2000 her first official solo offering – the jazzy and soulful”People Like Me” – was released on the label compilation Quannum Spectrum.

Definitely an underrated talent, Joyo Velarde is someone who we should be paying more attention to..Below are some of the shots I took of her during the New Parrish Show

-Davey D-

Below is a dope video put out by Joyo Velarde


Nas Rocks West Oakland

Sept 28 2015 Oakland was treated to Nas coming to Shoreline Park in West Oakland and reppin’ to the fullest. Each song he performed was done with conviction and left the crowd yearning for more. The Bay Area Vibez Festival will hopefully be bigger and better next year..Below are some of the photos I captured that day..

Oakland’s Blackalicious is What Hip Hop Has Been Missing

Chief Xcel and Gab leftIt’s been a long time, they shouldn’t have left you, with a strong rhyme to step to…It was 10 years ago that Gift of Gab and Chief Xcel aka Blackalicious put out their last album, The Craft. It was a dope album and left many of their fans wanting more.  That ‘more’ never came.

The group did a lot of shows and would occasionally tour, producer Chief Xcel was doing a lot of work with Grammy nominee Ledisi  while Gab dropped a couple of solo albums….but no new music was coming from them as a duo.  This year all that changed when they got back in the studio,  creative juices on fire and dropped ‘Imani Vol 1’. It will be the first in a trilogy of albums.

Imani album coverIn a recent interview done at the group’s West Oakland studio, they noted that its important to take time off, grow and then put out something that reflects their collective growth, creative inspirations and overall freshness. Imani Vol 1 does not disappoint. Some may say it’s the return of the boom bap sound. Others may say its the return of Hip Hop music with substance.. I say its the return of a damn good group who have 20 years under the belt, have gotten better with age and gave us what most will deem straight rewind material.  Imani is not an album filled with filler.  Each song resonates. Each beat leaves its mark.

Below is our recent Hard Knock Radio interview

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Earlier this month Blackalicious and their extended crew Lateef the Truthspeaker, Myron, Verse, Win Strong, Jumbo of the Lifesavas and special guests Fantastic Negrito and Kelly Finnigan of the Monophonics came together and did an incredible show at the historic Filmore. I got to deejay for the opening acts and take some cool photos in between. Here are some of the flicks.. enjoy

written by Davey D

Straight Outta Mexico- Oakland’s Raw G Catches Wreck

Raw G close upGina Madrid aka Raw G is a fixture in the Bay Area’s current Hip Hop scene who earned her stripes and position by doing what so many successful Bay artist have done before her, by grinding. In addition to being a dope emcee who has opened for everyone from KRS-One to Blackalicious to Ana Tijoux to Mobb Deep to name a few, Raw G also has her own promotion company called Steelo Entertainment. She learned early on, that opportunities arise when you create them and not sit back and wait.

Coming from Guadalajara, Mexico, Raw G is part of the first wave of pioneering emale emcees who laid down crucial ground work and opened doors for what has emerged to be a vibrant scene, south of the US border. There are scores of female emcees in Mexico who bring serious heat to the game. Artists like Jezzy P,  LeazzyVicky CXimbo, Rabia Rivera Dayra Fyah and Nina Dioz  to name a few.

Mujeres TrabajandoMany of these women including Raw G and fellow local/ Oakland emcee Aima the Dreamer are featured on a landmark compilation called Mujeres Trabajando which has morphed into a collective of the same name which translates to ‘Working Women’.

Raw G noted that Mujeres Trabajando has made major headway and as a promoter she has brought a number of the women from Mexico to the Bay Area to perform at jam packed shows.

Raw G never falls back and is forever hustling. The hard work has paid off.
Her new album Esperanza which means Hope is a masterpiece that reflects her evolution and love for Hip Hop culture. It also reflects her activism, as it speaks to important issues of social justice. All proceeds from her album are being donated to  International High School which services the immigrant community in Oakland. The first single off the album Sangre which means blood sets the tone for the album.


Recently Raw G kicked things off for the Blackalicious Show held at the Filmore in San Francisco. She came with a full band a incredible back up singers like; Naima Grace Shalhoub, Lila Rose and Emily Afton Moldenhauer all have their own solo careers. But that’s typical of Raw G, she’s all about trying to bring folks together to help get them exposure and additional shine.

Below are some of the photos I took of Raw G and her crew during their performance at the Blackalicious show. Enjoy

written by Davey D


Oakland’s Boogaloo Reunion BBQ : A History Lesson in West Coast Street Dance


Red gents raiseThe 5th annual Oakland Boogaloo Reunion BBQ  which took place in West Oakland’s Shoreline Park was an incredible and inspiring intergenerational gathering that provided much needed living history. There’s a popper’s picnic that takes place annually in Los Angeles at Griffith’s Park where they get lose and celebrate history.. This month the Bay Area let their story be told.

When most people talk about Hip Hop Dance, they think of what is known as B-Boying but commonly known as break dancing in the mainstream.  They think of people of doing elaborate spins on their backs or highly choreographed, robotic, strutting, clay-mation type movements that defy what many have imagined our bodies could do.

Most people think that  because the term Hip Hop is attached to these various dance styles that they’ve originated from New York City. In reality the dances known as Boogalooing, Roboting and Strutting  have their roots three thousand miles away in the Bay Area going back to the 1960s.  Their origins predate the birth of Hip Hop in New York in the 1970s.

Instead of bongo heavy break-beats that became a signature sound for early Hip Hop, the choice of music for many of the Bay Area’s pioneering street dancers was bass laden funk music.

If there was one thing that unbeknownst to folks from either coast that tied them together, it was James Brown. Early B-Boys in the Bronx were inspired by the moves he executed when performing songs like Get on the Good Foot. Songs like Give it Up or Turn It Lose and Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved were staple songs heard at early park jams. In the Bay Area the song of choice for early Bay Area funk and street dancers was Superbad.

There were no massive block parties in Oakland, San Francisco and Richmond which were the three main cities that were central to these dances during that time period.  Instead many Bay Area youth who embraced these dances showcased their skills at talent shows which were just as numerous in the late 60s, early 70s as block parties were in New York during the summer.

Deejays were few in number while hundreds of 3-4 member funk bands made up the musical landscape of the Bay Area. As  Will Randolph of the pioneering dance group the Black Resurgents noted, you might find 3 or 4 bands on every block. Some dance crews including the Black Resurgents even had their own bands.


Over the years thanks to popular TV shows like Soul Train and the later the Gong Show or key individuals moving from one place to another, the dances of the West Coast eventually became known to pioneering dancers in New York who incorporated them in their routines and by default became umbrellaed as Hip Hop.


Here in Oakland the 5th annual Boogaloo Reunion BBQ was held as folks from all over come out, and literally strut their stuff.  They showcase and celebrate the evolution of some of those original dances that were prominent in the Bay and Northern Cali as many like to note; the Day before Hip Hop. Today at the Boogaloo Reunion BBQ you will see early Funk style dancers, traditional Bboys and Bgirls and now turf dancers..


This year I arrived at the Poppers Picnic and BBQ (September 6) at West Oakland’s Shoreline Park, just as things were winding down, but managed to catch up with lot of folks and shoot some cool pictures that caught the good vibe and overall spirit of the day..Enjoy

written by Davey D

Oakland’s Zion I Crew Shows No Signs of Slowing Down

Zumbi sideDuring the recent Blackalicious show at the historic Fillmore Auditorium, the capacity crowd was treated to a stellar show from Zion I which has expanded its members to include founding member Zumbi Zoom, legendary Triple Threat deejay Vinroc long time South African emcee Dusk and emcee Deuce Eclipse who fronts the group Bang Dada…

As the group hit the stage and dropped song after song, it struck many of us just how deep Zion I’s catalogue is and just how long they been around. The Oakland based group formed in 1996 with Zumbi and producer Amp Live. They released their first album Mind Over Matter in 2000.

Their sophomore album Deep Water Slang was released in 2003 on Raptivism Records. Their third album, 2005’s True & Livin’ is one of my favorites. It featured  guest appearances by Talib Kweli, Aesop Rock, Gift of Gab, Del tha Funkee Homosapien and activist/ freedom fighter Fred Hampton jr.  It also contains one of their most popular songsThe Bay’.


The group’s fourth album, Break a Dawn, was initially only released in Japan in 2006, but was subsequently released internationally. Also in 2006, Zion I recorded Heroes in the City of Dope, a collaborative album with the Grouch, which Om Records released toward the end of the year.  They followed that up with the Takeover in 2009 and Atomic Clock in 2010, both were critically acclaimed.

Since 2010, Zion has released a a few more, albums, a number of mixtapes, live eps and scores of singles.. Their musi library is deep and that was apparent during their set at the Blackalicious Show.

A challenge facing many long time groups is they lose a few steps and struggle to stay relevant. Such is not the case with Zion I. They are as hungry as ever and have honed their skilled to near perfection.

Below are some photos we took from their excellent set at the Fillmore .