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KNOW YOUR ROOTS: MUSIC HISTORIES THAT WON’T PUT YOU TO SLEEP

You’ve heard of The Ramones and The Sex Pistols, but how much do you really know about punk? Or hip-hop? Or even reggae? Here’s some recommended reading for those of you looking to find out more about you favorite genre of music and learn some kick ass music trivia:

cindarellas-big-scoreCinderella’s Big Score: Women of the Punk and Indie Underground by Maria Raha – How many female punk rockers can you name? What about indie rockers? Contrary to what most “Best of” and “Crucial Album” lists would have you believe, the punk and indie scenes are full of women who can rock just as hard as the boys. How many women? Enough to fill a rather large book, actually. Raha gives lady rockers from the Runaways to the Raincoats the recognition they deserve. The back of the book even contains full discographies for many of the women profiled.

6a00c11413e997819d00e398b789cd0001-500pi1Please Kill Me : The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain – The story of the birth and death of punk from the people who were there. Unlike most histories, which focus mainly on the musicians involved, Please Kill Me includes interviews not only with musicians but also with venue owners, producers, managers, journalists and fans. While some of the people featured attempt to debunk the mythology surrounding punk’s explosion in the the music world, others try to add to it. This book makes it clear that punk, like most music movements, was about people who wanted their voices to be heard.

cantstop1Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation by Jeff Chang – At some point in my educational career, I realized that if I was going to major in music industry, I needed to know more about hip-hop. A casual listener, I didn’t know much about the origins of the music or the culture that surrounds it. Enter Can’t Stop Won’t Stop. While it’s clear from page one that this is as well-researched as any music reference book, it reads less like a text book and more like a page-turner. The reader gets a thrill from watching Chang piece together the political, social and economic climates that came together in a perfect storm to create what we know now as hip-hop culture.

roughguidereggaeRough Guide To Reggae by Steve Barrow and Peter Dalton – The title of this book is a little misleading. The Guide actually covers Jamaican music from the 1950s to the present day, running the gamut from mento to ska to rocksteady to dancehall. In addition to pictures and information on the genre’s stars, it offers recommendations of artists’ best records and records that best represent the genres. The Rough Guide music books are a great way to discover lesser-known but talented artists in a genre you are already a fan of.

HEY NOW, ARE YOU AN ALL-STAR?

Can you handle the Jonathan Papelbon face?

Can you handle the Jonathan Papelbon face?

Get yourself some peanuts and Cracker Jacks because it’s that time of year again: the MLB All-Star game! Tonight at 8 PM Eastern, the American League and the National League of baseball go head-to-head to determine who will have the home field advantage during the 2009 World Series. Maybe a few of you readers are lucky enough to have tickets to the game, but my bet is on most of you sitting close to the television.

If you’ve ever been to a major league game before then you’ve probably heard an array of theme music accompanying each player as they go up to bat. Their choices make for an interesting mix of all different music. That’s why we’ve put together this All-Star playlist of diverse, hand-picked songs by OurStage artists. These songs will get you ready for a good game or whatever curve ball comes your way this evening. Batter up!

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WANT TO OPEN FOR THE RUSS PARR BUS TOUR IN YOUR HOME TOWN? RADIO ONE AND OURSTAGE ARE GIVING YOU THE CHANCE!

Radio One's Russ Parr

Radio One's Russ Parr

Since 1996, Radio One’s Russ Parr Morning Show has helped launch the careers of urban acts like Soulja Boy, Yung Joc, Chris Brown, Ciara and DJ Khaled with its famous annual bus tour.   Every year, each stop of the tour draws a huge crowd by offering free, family-friendly entertainment while showcasing the best emerging hip hop and R&B artists for music fans. And now veteran radio DJ Russ Parr and his crew are looking for hot new talent to feature on each date of this year’s 9th Annual Back to School Tour. This is your chance to open up for the 2009 Russ Parr Bus Tour concert in your market! To enter the Russ Parr Bus Tour Contest, artists located near one of the tour cities listed below should submit a radio-friendly song into the competition channel.  Russ is counting on OurStage’s community of fan judges to help him scope out the best acts by voting for their favorite artists.  All fans who vote are automatically eligible for a chance to win a meet & greet at the Russ Parr Bus Tour concert in your city with some of this years Russ Parr Bus Tour artists!

This year’s bus tour will be making the following stops:

8/3 – CLEVELAND, OH – Cleveland Music Hall
8/4 – DAYTON, OH – Sinclair Community College
8/5 – CINCINNATI, OH – Music Hall
8/6 – LOUISVILLE, KY – International Convention Center
8/7 – WASHINGTON, DC – Warner Theater
8/10 – INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Indiana State Fair
8/11 – COLUMBIA, SC – Fenley Park
8/12 – RALEIGH, NC – Dorton Arena
8/13 – RICHMOND, VA – Richmond International Raceway
8/14 – FAYETTEVILLE, NC – Fayetteville State University

For more information on the Russ Parr Bus Tour Contest visit http://www.ourstage.com/go/russbustour.

ON THE ROAD WITH SANTIGOLD

santi

What does it say when Architecture in Helsinki asks you to tour with them? You’ve got indie cred. When Jay-Z and Kanye West come knocking? Street cred. When Coldplay and Björk want you on the bill? Global cred.

Suffice it to say that Santigold is up to her ears in credibility. The artist (real name: Santi White) blazed onto the scene like a technicolor dance party in 2008 as Santogold, later modifying her moniker. Mixing new wave with dance punk and dub, Santigold’s genre-bending music captured the imagination of audiophiles everywhere, and landed her in a triumvirate of rock ingénues alongside Karen O and M.I.A. Before supreme hipsterdom came knocking, Santigold was making a name for herself as a songwriter and producer, with credits on work by Spank Rock, GZA, Ashlee Simpson and Lily Allen. After enlisting the help of friends such as Freq Nasty, Diplo, Radioclit, M.I.A. and Chuck Treece from Bad Brains, Santigold released her self-titled debut on Downtown/Lizard King and became the new “It” chick, winning praise from Rolling Stone and Spin.

We caught up with Santigold to see how her U.S. tour was going. Here’s what she said.

Best show so far?
Sacramento. It was the second show of the tour, the first time we ironed out all the kinks and the show went smoothly, and therefore the first moment I felt relaxed about the new show. The sound was good, the crowd was great and I liked my outfit.

One thing you have to have on the road?
My own pillow, and a nice pair of slippers. Comfort is really important to me when I’m on the road because touring in general is so uncomfortable. It’s really rough, and I’m always having to worry about my voice, and taking care of myself. My pillow ensures that I can get a good sleep even on the crappiest bed, and my slippers make me feel cozy. It’s like bringing home with me.

If you’re playing DJ on the bus, what do you put on?
I have a bunch of mixed up playlists that I always play. They are how I wish the radio would be, just great songs of all different kinds, back to back.

Moment you look forward to the most at each show?
My favorite moment is the last song of the show, during the encore. The crowd is the most hype and I bring out Amanda Blank and Spank Rock if he’s there with us, and we have fun like it’s our own little after-party up on stage. It’s more playful than the rest of the show.

Current favorite song to play live?
I like playing the new song I did with Major Lazer called “Hold The Line.”

Favorite way to kill time on the road?
Watching movies.

Any show you’re especially looking forward to?
New York. I can’t wait!!

For more information on Santigold, click here. If you like what you hear, check out these likeminded OurStage artists:

MTV2 LOCAL MUSIC CONTESTS: WIN ON-AIR EXPOSURE WITHIN MTV’S BIGGEST MUSIC FRANCHISES

This summer MTV2 is searching for the hottest local talent across nine different regions in the US—and they’re looking on OurStage!  As part of MTV2′s Local Music Series, OurStage will be hosting regional competitions for Rock, Hip-Hop and Latin artists.  Three artists from each region will be selected from the fans’ Top 20 to duke it out for a chance to win on-air exposure within MTV’s biggest music franchises including the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, MTV2′s Rail N Rock and MTV2′s Sucker Free! Starting July 1st, artists located near Portland, San Francisco/Oakland, Boston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington DC and Los Angeles are invited to enter their best song into their local channel. New York City area artists can enter beginning August 1st. Accepted genres for each competition vary by region so be sure to check out your locale’s page to see if your music qualifies before entering! Check out all the MTV channels this summer on OurStage!

Visit www.ourstage.com/go/mtv2 for more information on rules and entering.

BREAKIN’: AN OURSTAGE BREAKDANCING PLAYLIST

Summer Heights High's Jonah Takalua busting a move

Summer Heights High's Jonah Takalua busting a move

Amongst music scholars, breakdancing is considered to be one of the four foundational elements of the hip hop culture in addition to DJing, MCing and graffiti art. With its humble beginnings in the Bronx  during the late 70′s at a time when gang violence ran rampantbreakdancing became an alternative medium for rival gangs to compete with one another. Hip hop pioneers such as DJ Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash selected records featuring catchy drum break sections and mixed them together in a continuous “loop” while their MC’s egged on the “B-Boys” and “B-girls” to bust their best moves. No doubt hip hop’s early DJs inspired several generations of electronic musicians and record producers, such as Fatboy Slim and Rick Rubin. Today, the torch is carried by some great artists on OurStage like Metermaids a hip hop duo who put their own spin on Sufjan Steven’s “Chicago.”

 

Feel like you’re ready to krush groove? We suggest you put on your best kicks and start the circle because it’s time for an OurStage breakdancing set!

A BEAT GROWS IN BROOKLYN

chrisfields1

When it comes to hip-hop, Chris Fields isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel. He’s just shining his rims to blind his competitors. The Brooklyn native enlists the help of heavyweights like Timbaland, DanjaHandz, Brandy and T-Pain on his new record, Phantom Muzik, and the results are potent. On the Danja-produced “I Am What I Am,” Fields comes out shooting over an anthemic synth beat: “I’m pulling words out the air like Bluetooth,” he raps, showing a knack for clever chest-thumping. “Come And Get Some,” another Danja single, serves as Field’s weapon of mass destruction. An organic drum beat and the rapper’s serpentine flow give way to a chorus of sirensit’s a club banger sure to burn rubber on the dance floor.

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OURSTAGE Q&A WITH TOM SILVERMAN (TOMMY BOY ENTERTAINMENT, NEW MUSIC SEMINAR)

tomsilverman_02Hip Hop pioneer, record producer and Tommy Boy Records’ founder, Tom Silverman has three decades of gold, platinum and multi-platinum records under his belt thanks to his work with such artists as Queen Latifah, De La Soul and House of Pain. But Silverman is more than a celebrated multi-hyphenate. He is also an industry architect who conceived the New Music Seminar; the music conference prototype from which events like SXSW were built. This music mogul is now reading the old music industry its last rites and ushering in the dawn of a new music era. OurStage sat down with Silverman and asked him to share his views on the past, present and future of the business behind the music.

KB: You’ve been a pioneer and producer of influential music since the early 80’s. What was the industry like when you first started out in your career?

TS: A question in relativism. To the neophyte ‘Tom Silverman’ it did not seem as big or daunting as it is today. But ignorance is bliss. I was able to break radical new artists and records with little money and little staff. I was able to get Urban radio play myself.

There wasn’t the Internet or cell phone. Fax machines were new technology. The computers that came first were big and clumsy and did very little. The kilobyte was the measure of the technologist. Music was recorded via analog. Drum machines and synthesizers were analog. We recorded on 2-inch tape and edited on half-inch tape. We pushed the limit of the technology we had from recording, to mastering, to marketing.

Rap was a spin-off of Urban Disco. Many of the early Hip Hop artists had Disco in their names. People forget that Rap was Urban Disco in the early 80’s and it was a statement against the corporate R&B that had ruled for so long.

Motown, Island, Chrysalis, Arista and A&M were independent labels.

KB: What do you think is the most significant change within the industry in the last five years?

TS: Last 5 years – The democratization of distribution (everyone can get distribution).

Last 10 years – The democratization of recording (everyone can have a studio).

Last 30 years – The mobilization of music with the invention of the Boombox—and more importantly the advent of personal music listening with the Walkman (a far more important invention than the iPod).

KB: From the perspective of Tommy Boy Entertainment, what has it been like to release music as an Indie artist amidst all of the changes within industry? How do you think these changes have impacted your major label counterparts?

TS: It sucks for independents. It sucks way more for the majors.

KB: How would you briefly summarize the current state of the industry?

TS: The current record industry is in the hospice on life support.

KB: Do bands get “discovered” any more? How do talented artists make it these days?

TS: Talented artists are getting stuck in the system now more than ever. Some bands are still getting discovered—but fewer each year—it seems due to the growing conservatism of traditional radio and the growing glut of releases.

KB: What is your advice to musicians trying to navigate the new waters of the music industry?

TB: Throw out the rule book. Differentiate your songs, recordings, image/statement and performance. Work harder on being better. Being a musician requires you to think about photos, videos, blogging and Twitter now. Get a business partner (either label, or manager or bass player) to deal with the flow of your creative to your fans— collecting and managing fans and monetizing your relationship with fans.

Artists interested in hearing more of Tommy Silverman’s insights are encouraged to attend the New Music Seminar in NYC on July 21st. For more information on this not-to-be-missed event, click HERE.

OURSTAGE ANNOUNCES THE WINNER OF THE RADIO ONE “ROC THE MIC” COMPETITION

Back in April OurStage, Radio One and Sony Music joined forces to bring you the “Roc The Mic So You Can Get it All” competition with Bow Wow. Artists from the Hip Hop Channel submitted their original songs to compete for a chance to see Bow Wow in concert in New York City and to meet with him and Columbia Marketing Executives from Sony Music after the show. One lucky fan voter was also selected at random to receive concert tickets and have a meet and greet with Bow Wow. Unfortunately, Bow Wow parted ways with Sony Music in the middle of the competition and was unable to select and meet with the winners.

CAUSE

CAUSE

Not one to disappoint, Sony Music decided to honor the fans’ top choice in the competition by selecting up-and-coming Bronx MC, CAUSE, as the artist winner. CAUSE will meet with Columbia Marketing executives to get valuable industry feedback. And since he didn’t want to let a fellow artist down, Bow Wow will help CAUSE on the promotional front.

OurStage’s Jay Schneider was able to sit down and have a chat with CAUSE about his work after informing him of his win:

JAY: How do you think meeting with the executives from Columbia is going to help you?

CAUSE: First of all, I appreciate the opportunity from OurStage. I think this could potentially really help; anytime you get a chance to meet executives and people who are really influential in the industryeven if they’re not there to sign youyou can always take away a valuable piece of advice.

JAY: You recently won a Billboard Songwriting award for your track “Banga” on which you gave production credit to a young, British producer named Murray Biggs. How did you go about first collaborating with Murray?

CAUSE: That’s a crazy story. With the album I recently put out called The New Golden Era at least 80% of it was recorded through online collaborationmostly with producers who I haven’t met. With that song in particular, I reached out to Murray through MySpacetold him I really admired his production. I told him I really liked a beat he had on his page and that I’d like to use it. He sent it to me and we emailed back and forth my vocals and his beat until it was done and the rest is pretty much history. So I’ve never actually spoken to him on the phone and I’ve never actually met him before, but we were able to create that magic through the power of the Internet.

JAY: After winning prizes from OurStage and Billboard, how do you feel about your career so far?

CAUSE: I feel like, until recently, I’ve managed to stay below the radar. Lately, especially with this prize, I feel like I’ve been breaking through. It’s only been about two years for me, so I’m still new in the game. There’s so many artist before me that took about five or six years to develop, but still have great careers. I feel like I’m progressing at a fast pace and that I’m starting to become more well-rounded. Earlier I had a lot of people respecting my music and songwriting, but I had to work on my live show. Since then I’ve been doing more shows and feel that the live performance aspect has gotten better. I feel right now that everything has come together really well.

JAY: Would you say that the evolution of your live show is the biggest change you’ve had since starting out?

CAUSE: I would say it’s a combination of that and building a team. Although I think building a team is more important since no one man can do this on their own. I have a bunch of producers nowI just got back from North Carolina after working with Sean Divine, who I consider my main producer right now. I’ve got my manager and a sneaker [apparel] expert. We all share the same unified vision.

JAY: If you could collaborate with anyone who would it be?

CAUSE: 45 King’s producerhe’s an amazing talent. In terms of hip hop artists I’d like to collaborate with, Nas. 45 King’s producer doing the backing with me and Nas doing the rhymes.
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If you’re interested in hearing CAUSE’s music be sure to check out his OurStage fan page! As for the fan winner of the competition, Sony Music rewarded Jerimiah C. of New Jersey with tickets to Beyoncé’s upcoming performance in Uncasville, CT in addition to giving him a Sony Xplod car audio system.

TRUTH SERUM

melo

The art of rap is a lot like the science of perfume. There’s the top note an initial punch to your senses that gives you your first impression. Then there’s the base note the depth of character that is perceived after the top note fades away. If your base note isn’t quality, then whatever you’re laying on top is pointless.

Melo Tha Truth has mixed up a winning concoction for hip-hop fans. He uses the usual top notes to grab your attention name-checking his clothes, his sexual prowess and his lyrical swerve. But underneath all that swagger you get real chops. “Akademiks,” a shout-out to Melo’s favorite clothing line, is a stripped-back track built on the rapper’s dexterous flow over a looping Middle Eastern line. “I’m That Shit” gets more aggressive, showcasing an epic beat that would do Kanye and Jay-Z proud. Melo’s hunger to make it past hip-hop’s velvet ropes is acute. “I’m ahead of my time like daylight savings / I belong in the sky, I’m a star in the making.”

Let’s hope the industry picks up on his scent.


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