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

Melle-Mel Art of Rap-013

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.

Melle-Mel Art of Rap-020

Melle-Mel Art of Rap-021

Melle-Mel Art of Rap-048

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

Ice T on mic copy

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

Davey D Mix: The Beat Goes On…Till the Break of Dawn

Breakdown-FM-Davey-65-BrownLet’s not get it twisted, many of us are big fans of James Brown inspired breaks and the boom bap sound which was once a dominant hallmark within Hip Hop. This past week on my mixshow (Breakdown FM heard on All Day Play FM), I dug in the crates a little and reminded folks that the culture and music we know and love has many leaves and branches. It’s up to us to explore and engage all of them.

Below is a link so you can hear this Davey D Mix show along with a playlist of some of the songs I rocked.. Please enjoy, there’s more to come.

Turntable and mixer01-Motion Man – ‘Blah Blah Blah’
02-Scarface – ‘I’m A…’
03-Low_Profile – ‘Thats’ Why They Do It’
04-Eric B. & Rakim – ‘Eric B is President’ (remix)
05-The Trammps – ‘Rubber Band’ (remix)
06-Al Green w/Akshin Alizadeh – ‘Walkin’ 2gether’ (remix)
07-Eric B & Rakim – ‘I Ain’t No Joke’
08-DJ Nu-Mark – ‘Our Generation’ (Re-Edit) w/Ernie Hines]
09-Lord Finesse – ‘Return of the Funky Man’
10-Jean Grae w/ Jazzy Jeff – ‘Supa Jean’
11-Divine Styler – ‘Make It Plain’
12-Underground Mafia – Caught Up In The System
13-Gang Starr- w/Big Shug & Freddie Foxx – ‘The Militia’
14-Queen Latifah – ‘Evil That Men Do’
15-Mykill Miers – ‘Do the Math’ [Featuring Iriscience]


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

Download_Blackalicious interview 09-09-2015


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

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

Talib Kweli and Zakiya Harris w/ Elephantine Rip Stern Grove

Artist talk w/ Talib Kweli at Stern Grove

Artist talk w/ Talib Kweli at Stern Grove

San Francisco 08-16-15 In the words of Ice Cube.. ‘Today was a good day’ Two steller acts took to the stage and seriously rocked it at Stern Grove Festival. Oakland’s own Zakiya Harris and Elephantine along with Talib Kweli set a new bar for throwing down and leaving the stage hot… They did not disappoint.

It was an incredible show that started off with Talib Kweli doing an artist talk to a packed house. Yours truly moderated as we covered all sorts  of topics ranging from the recent passing of NAACP chair and SNCC co-founder Julian Bond on down to the passing of his good friend Sean Price of the group Heltah Skeltah.

During our conversation, Talib talked about the competitive spirit of Sean Price. He said every time they crossed paths Price would jokingly remind Talib, that he was the better emcee.

We talked about Talib’s recent trips to Ferguson and how and why he got involved. He noted that it was fellow artist J Cole who got him to come down. Once there, Talib was stunned by what he saw and has stayed involved and raised thousands of dollars for the family of Mike Brown and a number of organizations who are trying to bring an end to police terrorism.

Talib talked about the police killing of Sam DuBose in Cincinnati. He noted that Sam was good friends with members of his crew Hi Tek and Mood.  He noted that any one of his people’s could’ve been in the car with Dubose that day when police shot him in the head..

We also spoke at length about his creative process, ghost writing, regional flavor in Hip Hop and the importance of the Bay Area. Talib also announced the release of his new album which is available for free download called  F– The Money.

After the artist talk, we watched Zakiya Harris,  Tossie Long, Sólás Burke-Lalgee, and Elephantine rock the house in a major way. Zakiya has been working her craft for a minute, but over the past year she has taken things to new heights. Her singing is on point. Her emceeing is not to be toyed with. You will get your feelings hurt if you follow her band.

When Talib took the stage after a brief intermission he had the crowd standing the entire time as he went from one hit song after another. He too had a band that was pretty tight.

Was blessed to hang with these folks this afternoon..Below are some photos from the event

A Look Back at Consolidated & Their Song ‘Friendly Fascism’

Consolidated Friendly FascismThis song Friendly Fascism, comes courtesy of one of my favorite groups Consolidated, who released this song back in 1991 or 1992… The song back then was pretty powerful, although at the time it went over many people’s heads especially with the defeat of George Bush Sr and the election of Bill Clinton..

With the 92 election, many thought that the worse which was personified via 12 years of Ronald Reagan and Bush Sr were behind us…Unfortunately the fascist direction this country was headed continued just with a friendly face, starting with Clinton who was dubbed the ‘First Black President‘, followed by George W Bush who was dubbed a Compassionate Conservative and now Obama who is the target of daily racial attacks and threats which leads to many circling the wagon around him while he does serious dirt both abroad and here at home.. To be honest Ronald Reagan aka the Great Communicator with befuddling demeanor also fooled a lot of people which is why he was elected twice.

Consolidated Anyway if you ever get to check out the entire album Friendly Facism by Consolidated, its worth a listen. It was definitely ahead of its time.  Many of the topics covered and the lyrics are relevant today. If anyone ever went to their shows you will recall they were among the first to fuze multimedia with their stage shows.. After each performance they would hold impromptu town hall and discussions with the audience.. Depending on what part of the country they were in, those discussions could get pretty grueling as many would get angry by their messages..

Another nice aspect of Consolidated was their harsh critique of the entertainment and music industry. Some of what they said then may seem like old hat today, but back at the time many groups pushed to be on platforms like MTV and commercial radio. If you got on them, the last thing you wanted to do was dis them publicly.. Consolidated was relentless and was right on time with their critique..  I like this song below ‘Music Has No Meaning’ and appreciated being sampled in it..


Several years later, Consolidated teamed up another Bay Area  artist Paris, the Black Panther of Hip Hop to do this dope song Guerillas in the Mist...Love the way they smashed hard on Tom Metzger and the White Aryan Resistance ..


Raw-G Drops a Hard Hitting New Song ‘Sangre’

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 3.00.40 AMNo More War.. Love Flows Through these Veins… This is the hook to an incredible new song called Sangre from Oakland based artist Gina Madrid aka Raw G and singer Nikila aka MamaWisdom1. They represents a growing breed of artists who unapologetic about using their music to make hard hitting political statements.
Glad to see so many Oakland artists stepping up and doing incredible music that helps shift our thinking and get us to be more conscious.. Shout out to Raw G and Nikila for delivering an heartfelt song in such troubled times.. We Need more music like this.. ‪#‎salute‬


Thoughts on Cuban Hip Hop Being Used to Overthrow the Gov’t

Davey-D-brown-frameThere’s a been a lot of conversation about the recent revelations of Hip Hop and Hip Hop artists being via infiltrated through an agency called USAID with the goal of shaping opinions and sparking unrest to create a climate that would lead to the overthrow of the Cuban government. You can peep one of the many stories about that HERE—http://huff.to/1qMR5T7

In speaking about this case, I noted that far too many have fallen into the trap of seeing themselves and this music/culture as being unique in it being besieged, put under surveillance and being deemed a potential threat to those in power. Too many people saw the police collecting dossiers on Hip Hop as some sort of badge implying it was a reflection of power. Such assertions have been made without the context of history…

First its extremely important to note that this Government has always used culture and popular expression and mediums to undercut, destroy, marginalize, control, redirect a people and yes even help overthrow governments. What was revealed about Cuba is by no means unique. It may be unique for folks hearing about this for the first time..What we are talking about here is something that’s global..Cultural expression is serious biz..

I can say this in 2006, I went to Beirut and attended and participated in global conference on music and censorship. There I met folks who had spent many years in jail from all over the world because of their music and art which challenged those in power. You can read some of what was spoken about at that conference HERE

In order to understand this what folks need to clearly understand is that culture expression here in the US is often limited in how it’s defined. Many simply call it art. And art in the minds of many is luxury that is brought and sold and put on display to admire and debate. Our history and understanding of how we express ourselves has been erased or distorted. So instead seeing many types of cultural expressions (rapping, singing, dance, poetry, playing of music) as important and even primary ways of communication, we fail to see to see that the government sees what we do in that light..

Dr Jared Ball

Dr Jared Ball

With respect to Hip Hop as professor Jared Ball has long pointed out, its ‘mass communication’..Those in power have never ceded ground or allowed us to have too much independent control of mass comm outlets.

Second point, Hip Hop being infiltrated and aspects of it being compromised is one the latest cultural expressions in a long line to be compromised. In order to best understand this.. I encourage folks to go on-line and look up this video that came out in the 1970s with a former FBI agent named Darthard Perry talking about how the government studied culture, in particular Black culture as a way to control the people.. You can and should peep that HERE—http://bit.ly/1BKXWjM

For those who find this be a bit of a stretch.. I encourage you to peep the speech Dr Martin Luther King gave August 11 1967 to the National Association of Television and Radio Announcers about the role of culture, in this case music and Black radio deejays.. He plainly states there is no Civil Rights Movement without these deejays and the powerful influence of Soul Music, which like Hip Hop had its own challenges of being deemed unsavory, less than sophisticated and even violent.. (Folks living here in the Oakland, ask your parents or grandparents about James Brown being banned and concerts being shut down because he brought out the ‘wrong crowd’).. Check out King’s speech and the one given by Minister Farrakhan to a similar body of Black music industry folks 13 years later… http://bit.ly/1yNyLXO

Third point, Hip Hop being as popular as it is was undoubtedly going to be seen as something that needed to be derailed, distorted and used a s a tool of oppression vs allowing it to be used as a tool of liberation. Wherever large crowds are gathered, we have got to expect those in power to be sizing it up and trying to figure out how to economically exploit it and politically derail it..

Bob MarleyFrom icons like Bob Marley being followed and undermined by the CIA to the banning of the drums during slavery at Congo Square to Fela Kuti who specifically said his music was a weapon being attacked, to the Black Arts Movement being marginalized where the late Amiri Baraka and others called upon Black folks to use their poems and music as weapons and be in alignment with the Black Power Movements of the time, to French rappers coming under fire and accused of sparking the 2005 riots in Paris with their music to the way the US uses its radio arm Voice of America to undermine governments, we should be clear in knowing that obtaining and maintaining public space will and has always been a challenge. We should be crystal clear that if you can ‘move the crowd’ folks are gonna have their eyes on you…

What’s most interesting about this scenario is that in many so-called progressive enclaves, culture is still seen and treated as an after thought or sidebar to the movement. Perhaps that’s deliberate because those in power in on that side of the political spectrum like their counterparts on the right want to keep many in the back of the bus and not have a seat at the table.

cuban rappersThe solution to all this is to 1-fully understand the power of our culture. Martin Luther King talks about that in his speech. In understanding its power, one has to then move in a direction where you are not dependent on entities and individuals who fear or don’t respect our culture for affirmation, funding etc..

2-Recognize many aspects of our culture are indeed powerful forms of communication. If Hip Hop has this much influence that governments use it to move folks from point A to point B, then what role are we playing when we consciously produce it or consume it?

3-Check out an incredible book called Party Music by Prof Rickey Vincent who digs real deep into this topic. He talks about the impact the Black Panthers had on Soul Music and how cultural expression was challenged and seen as a threat by those in power and ultimately used to destroy facets of the Black Power Movement..

4-Read Jared Ball’ s Book..”I Mix What I Like!: A Mixtape Manifesto” where he meticulously details how Hip Hop Music has been colonized. It’s important for folks to understand the many forces at work to harness our expression.

5-Read Jeff Chang‘s book Who We Be the Colorization of America  where he talks about the wars, political attacks and commercialization around Art and Culture and the derailment of movements around the concept of Multiculturalism.

6-Look out for an upcoming book due out in February 2015 from Timothy Taylor aka Wise Intelligent of Poor Righteous Teachers that addresses many of these key issues.

Bottom line, we may take what we do culturally speaking for granted. We may think our songs and dances are no big deal.. But others are not. They study it, see it as a threat and know its potential to liberate and empower if left unchecked. ‪#‎staywoke‬.