Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Awesome Anime

All work and no play makes Vinum a cranky artist. So to combat the stresses of daily living I've been playing sports and watching some awesome anime. The series Freezing I spoke about in an earlier post just ended and to be honest the manga is better than the anime. 

I've got sucked into watching Hellsing Ultimate OVA cuz I liked the first Hellsing series and wanted to see if there was a difference. The new Hellsing closely follows the original manga. It's aggressive, violent, gory (guro style) and damn good action. Hellsing (The Holy Order of Protestant Knights) is an organization that investigates paranormal activity in England. They deal with Vampires, Ghouls and any other unnatural threat to the crown. 

The organization is led by Sir Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing, a tough masculine woman with a sharp sword. Their secret weapon is the first and most powerful of all vampires, the vampire king named Alucard. He joined the Hellsing organization after being defeated by Integra's ancestor Arthur Van Helsing over 100 years before the series takes place.

The Hellsing organization finds out the remnants of a Nazi group called Millennium still exists and are intent on reviving the Third Reich by creating a legion of vampires. Millennium, Hellsing, and the Vatican section XIII (section 13) Iscariot clash in an apocalyptic three-sided war that encompasses the globe. 

There are ten episode of the series but only the first seven are released. What makes it interesting to watch (aside from the big guns and monsters) is the dialog and real historical tidbits about  World War II, the Vatican and the Nazi's they use in the story-line.

The only downer in the series is how they throw in juvenile humor at points to lighten the mood and make the complex subject matter and gratuitous violence more digestible. In my humble opinion the story doesn't need the comedy cuz its a poor distraction from the plot. I posted the trailer and a compilation clip of the first 7 episodes combined below.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Street Anthems

A street anthem is a song with a theme and catchy chorus. The Lost Boyz were one of the pioneers of the street anthem. The 4 man collective of Mr. Cheeks, Freaky Tah (R.I.P.), Pretty Lou and DJ Spigg Nice made more street anthems than any other rap group at the time. Hit songs like Renee, Lifestyles of the Rich and Shameless, Music Makes Me High, Jeeps, Lex Coups, Bimaz & Benz, and Beast from the East kept them on the Billboard charts.

The group Naughty by Nature consisting of Treach, Vinnie Rock and DJ Kay Gee also produced numerous street anthems. They were one of the few rap acts who were able to balance success on the pop charts while maintaining their street credibility. Songs like O.P.P., Uptown Anthem and Hip-Hop Hooray propelled the group to super stardom and gained them a Grammy award.

The West Coast don of the street anthem would have to be Nate Dogg (R.I.P). There's not much I can say about the man that hasn't been covered in mainstream media and almost every news publication (Hip-Hop related or not). What I can say is his melodic voice made hit records and contributed to the success of artists Warren G, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Ludacris, Xzibit, 50 Cent and countless others. 

He was an irreplaceable talent and will be missed. Below I posted hits by Nate Dogg and other artists who have had street anthems over the years.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Battle Rappers

Battling has been an integral part of Hip-Hop since its inception. There were historical battles like MC Shan vs. KRS-One that paved the way for battles such as 50 Cent vs Ja Rule, Ludacris vs. T.I., Nas vs Jay Z, The Game vs G-Unit and countless others. 

It takes more than just a dope flow to be a battle rapper. You need a dope flow, witty vocabulary, descriptive rhymes, and subject matter that pertains to the person you're battling against. Out of all the MC's with battling skills Canibus is arguably one of the best. He came in the game spitting with industry heavy weights, The Lost Boyz, Redman, Eric Sermon and Keith Murray.

In 1998 he was propelled to the forefront of Hip-Hop for his epic battle with LL Cool J, who at the time was considered untouchable. The song "Second Round K.O." produced by Wyclef Jean was uncompromising and gained Canibus respect world-wide. The video featured former world heavy- weight champion Mike Tyson. LL responded with a few tracks but none were as lethal and achieved as much notoriety as "Second Round K.O". The battle was covered extensively on the Beef DvD series. Since then Canibus has went on to release several albums most recently "C of Tranquility". Like many artists his talent is often over shadowed by industry politics.

Below I posted some of the more memorable songs that came from battles that raged through Hip-Hop and shook-up the industry. Canibus "Second Round K.O.," Nas "Ether" Young Buck "Stomp remix," ft. Game, T.I. and Ludacris, 50 Cent "Wanksta," and Cassidy vs. Freeway the full battle.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Creative Minds

Another artist whose creative mind and unique style of work inspires me is Belgian painter Rene Magritte. He was famous for creating detailed and thought-provoking paintings. The intention behind his style was to challenge the observers' preconditioned perceptions of reality and force the viewer to become more aware of their surroundings.

René François Ghislain Magritte (1898 – 1967) was an incredible surrealist artist. Little is known about his early life. His mother committed suicide by drowning herself in a river when he was 13 years old. When his mother was found, her dress was covering her face, an image that has been suggested as the source of several of Magritte's paintings in of people with cloth obscuring their faces, including famous piece Les Amants (The Lovers). 

Later in life his style was influenced by Futurism and Cubism which was popularized by French artist Jean Metzinger. He also began sculpting using a variety of mediums such as bronze and plaster. Posted below are some of his more colorful and eye catching pieces.  




Friday, March 18, 2011

Gamer's Playground

I don’t play video games as much as I used to but when I do play I do it BIG. I like action games that are fast paced with a good storyline and excellent graphics. Games like God of War, Devil May Cry, Tekken, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and GTA (Grand Theft Auto) are examples of my style of gaming.

I’m a PlayStation loyalist only cuz I never brought an Xbox and I stopped buying Nintendo after the 64 bit. I'll admit I've seen some games for the game cube that look interesting but I still won't buy it. On my last adventure to the gamer's playground aka the toy store, where all games and titles are tested, rated, reviewed and criticized. I was fortunate enough to play a few titles for the PS2 and PS3 systems that I think are dope.

Below are games Bioshock 2 (part 3 is on the way), Call of Duty series (some are for PS2 but recent additions like Black OPS are only for the PS3 console), Final Fantasy 7 (the whole series is dope) and Dragonball Z Budokai Tenkaichi. If you like the show, you will love getting to play the characters. Check 'em out.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dutch Hip-Hop

One of the benefits of living in Holland is I'm in the mecca of cultural diversity. I know allot of people would argue that New York is that place but the Netherlands used to own New York. Which is why NYC has cities named Harlem, Brooklyn, Rotterdam and Amsterdam because its origins are here.

Although Holland is a tiny country it has enormous talent! Dutch Hip-Hop is a mix of US and European influences blended and twisted into their own style. Most of the older rappers here spit in English because they grew up on US Hip-Hop. The younger generation tends to spit in their own language (Dutch) so their people can relate.

Over the years I've worked with numerous Dutch artists and have shot video clips for MC's DJ Nemo and Gekke C (Crazy C). You can watch their clips under the videos tab or go to youtube. Below I posted clips from a few artists spitting in both languages. SugaCane aka Redlight Boogie, Mr. Probz, Deams, K.V. (Kleine Viezerik which means little pervert in English) and the group Opgezwolle. All MC's with talent and their own unique style. Check 'em out!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Speaking in Tongues

For awhile rap was busy with people adding new slang words or making up their own language. I call it speaking in tongues. Das Efx is the group that popularized this style. They went on to record tracks with Ice Cube and other influential artists that appreciated their music. Once it became exceptable to bend the rules of the language groups like the Fu-Schnickens (which at the time had basketball player Shaquille O'Neal as a member) started coming out of the woodwork. 

Most of the groups were whack plain and simple. There were a few groups and individuals who have successfully spoke in tongues and went on to sell millions of records. Below are videos from E-40, Das Efx, Camp Lo, Lords of the Underground and Digable Planets.