Friday, August 29, 2008

Prague to Kemp to Holland to Berlin to Prague

If the subject is any indication of the kind of week it's been, then bear with me. This is the first time I've been able to sit at a computer sans the Internet Cafe clock running since last Friday. It has been an amazing and exhausting week that took us from Prague to Hradec Kralove for the mind-blowing Hip Hop Kemp, then to Den Haag and Amsterdam on 0 hours sleep. Farbeon and I parted ways on Tuesday, when I headed to Berlin to rock alongside Baba, Yako and DJ Kevlar at Casseopeia for Beatevolution, chill for 2 days with some fresh folks (shouts to Maria, MC Bad Kat, Eyesiss, Stef la Chef, B.SKi, Akrobatic) and catch lots of live music, live graffiti and breaking. Finally left Berlin on 0 hours of sleep this morning and headed back to Prague, where I'm DJing tonight with Tempe, AZ homey DJ Geehaad, and then rocking a double-booked day with Beatburger band tomorrow, first in Prague and then in Brno. Needless to say, I'd really dig on a shower and a pillow. Someday, someday...

I'm working on a much more in-depth recap of the insanity of Hip Hop Kemp and Berlin Part II, so in the meantime, check out the sick photos (courtesy of Far-tography) and the video of Farbeon and I rocking "Hustle" at the Vestax Hangar at Kemp (the whole festival is held on an abandoned Air Force Base).

For now, peace, love, endurance and self-assurance. All fatigue and fuzz aside, this is the time of my life. Much love to Farbeon. My brother, we made it. The road is long, hold your head up high... You may need to come back and extradite me in 5 weeks:) And Baba & Yako: you are gurus and laughing buddhas with an amazing haze around your Subphonik aura. Thanks for hospitality, skill-age and build-age. Kevlar and Pix: mi familia. If we run into each other anywhere else in the world we're gonna need to invest in the 269 European Annex.Till the next...

(Cue Young Hova voice)"I'm focused maaaaan!"



Stef la Chef, Eyeris, Akrobatic, MC Bad Kat, Rabbi D in Berlin @ Baambi

"Hustle" Live at Hip Hop Kemp, Hradec Kralove, CZ

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hip Hop You Don't Stop

The fact that I haven’t had a spare second to write (let alone sleep) is a sheer indication of the madness that has ensued since leaving France. Hip Hop, you don’t stop. After a lengthy foot tour de force of Berlin, with a rest stop to cypher with some kids and sell some product, we ended the night with a doner kebab and a mostly decent night’s sleep at the Hotel Karibum. Truthfully, Berlin was looking a bit glum and quite expensive after 1 day.

Day 2 in Berlin proved much more fruitful, enjoyable, and entertaining. We roamed the museum district early on, which is nearly all under construction. Then we caught up on our newly developed tradition of working in the internet café while draining Berliner Pilsners. We had been planning on checking out Beatevolution at Club Cassiopeia, and Far also caught wind of a Yarah Bravo “UNITY” show the same night. After logging some mileage, we managed to make the rounds and hit both shows. Cassiopeia was slow goings, as it was early, but what an amazing space. A graffiti playground, skatepark, two stages and an outdoor café. Bam. Hopefully we’ll make it back to Berlin this week to catch Baba & Yako rip it there.

The treat of the night was found at Bohannon, a live music club with a sick sound system in Alexanderplatz. The “UNITY” Tour is an all-female road show of international superstars, curated by Yarah Bravo. In Berlin, we got to check Marya from Italy, Stacy Epps from ATL, Miss Flint, Shania D and a slew of other amazing women. Then it opened up into a jam session, and Far and I got the chance to rock it alongside this amazing collective. A magical moment of coincidences and connections falling into place to result in a sweet night.

The following morning, we bought tickets for our 10:46am train to Prague at… 10:48am. So we caught the 12:46pm train to Prague, which is a beautiful ride through mountainous German countryside, past Dresden on the way. Upon arriving in Prague, we were tossed right into the mix at Pantheon with Dowis, where there was a graffiti installation opening Thursday night. We were able to chill, get acquainted with the newly minted “Pantheon” (formerly “Sabotage”) and ease into Praha. The rest of the Beat Apetit crew was already out at Hip Hop Kemp setting up shop…

On Friday, we slept in and had to rush to make a radio show appearance at Radio Spin 98.2 with Dowis and the big homey Alesh One. Had to get the promo in before the show at Pantheon that night with the Brooklyn posse. Baba & Yako arrived in the afternoon, and we all convened at Pantheon for the show. Very dope night, great crowd, ill sets from everyone and a lovely spin on the turns by DJ Kevlar.

So Saturday. We packed up again and headed out to Hip Hop Kemp, courtesy of Kuzellski. Now, Kemp is the second biggest Hip Hop festival in Europe, something around 20,000 people. It is held at an old Air Force base, with stages in hangars and people camping everywhere (“Kemp” = “Camp”). Based on those few facts, we were entirely unprepared for the scene upon rolling up. It is literally a Hip Hop playground. Music everywhere, breakdance battles, beatbox battles, 3 sick side stages, a huge mainstage, and incredible heartfelt Hip Hop energy and love oozing from every country in Europe. The crowd represents so many nations, and the performers do the same. Pretty unbelievable to have to travel to the middle of the Czech Republic to have to find an event of this magnitude and caliber, but, wow.

The Beat Apetit crew is holding down the Beatburger Health Food tent, with mad cyphers in the mix. The whole set is in effect: Jaro, Nasty, En.dru, Kuzell, Alesh, Ivanhoe, Johnny Typek… Deep. Over the course of yesterday, we rocked 3 different stages for about 3000 different heads, popping up on guest spots and beatbox cameos. Also got to check some very dope shows: Akrobatik and Mr. Lif, The Navigators on the main stage, and another slamming series of sets at the UNITY stage: Stacy Epps, Invincible, Eternia, DJ Shortee, DJ Sarah Love and Yarah Bravo. Simply bananas. As Farbeon keeps saying, if you want to see the avant garde in Hip Hop, you need to check these ladies for real. Big ups to Eternia for hooking us up with the mic at the UNITY stage, and maximum respect to Yarah Bravo for seeing her vision realized. Inspiron!

Well, this is merely my attempt to chronologically organize the insanity of the past 4 days (4 days, 5 days?). Today we will be holding down the Beatburger stage, catch the UNITY ladies on the main stage, check The Roots, and then rock the last sets of the whole festival over at the Vestax Hangar at midnight. Then Farbeon and I head directly to the airport in Prague to catch a 6am flight to Amsterdam! Not quite sure how this is all going to work out, but the power of Hip Hop and the strength of brother and sisterhood is getting us through everything.

Kemp Kemp and more Kemp,

Rebbe D

Definitely gonna have some time to edit all this incredible video footage in Amsterdam, so stay tuned for the Video Journal, Part II. And probably III with all the crazy HHK footage!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Video Journal Part I: BK to Stasbourg

Just gonna let the video (and my mediocre yet improving imovie skills) do the talking... Enjoy!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

8 Gold Medals later

If it weren’t for the river driven fresh air permeating Strasbourg (aka Bourgstras), I would be having a difficult time catching my breath. A whirlwind-crab scratch-freestyle cyclone touched down when we hit the cobblestone, and finally whirs to a slow hum tonight.

We hit the ground running on Wednesday night, chilling with the incredibly hospitable Turnableast Crew. Farbeon has been crashing with DJ Q, while I’ve been kicking it at DJ Rectape’s. The whole crew lives in the neighborhood Neudorf, within walking distance of each other. We woke on Thursday to plaster the town with party flyers and take the walking tour of Strasbourg, courtesy of l’homme extraordinaire Perco Loco. Before we knew it, it was time to pack gear for the soiree a La Grotte. And it ain’t called the Grotte for nothing. One of those straight dungeonous European clubs, underneath the street and sweaty as the man in the iron mask. The crowd filled in pretty quickly, and Turntableast rocked the party silly. We hit the stage at around 1:30am and did a full blast 40 minute set. Worked out some kinks, had Rectape hold us down on the decks, dealt with some sound issues… and tore it up. It was mostly a relief to get the first show out of the way, figure out how to read the foreign language crowd and test-drive some new routines. But enough about us…

The real treat was the turntable tactics on display by the fellas. One of Turntableast, DJ Nelson, is a 2007 & 2008 French DMC Finalist, and winner of France TKO Battle. Basically, this cat has the illest scratches I’ve ever laid eyes on. I mean, like, Q-Bert status. Riveting stuff. So, the crew rocked the crunk/club/booty bass dance party as we proceeded to get, um, toe up. Once the club closed at 4am, we kicked it backstage boozing, beatbox karaoke-ing, freestyling and building. After packing up and sneaking out through a back door (to avoid le police posted out front), we made it back to Rectape’s at 6:30am. And then hauled all the DJ equipment up the 3 floors to his apartment:) Good vibes go out to DJ Swa, whose car was towed and impounded by le flics. Po-po’s wreaking havoc everywhere…

So, rising Friday at 3:00pm, we met up with Rec’s homey Niko, aka Hon. Hon is a producer/AV engineer at a high-end studio in Keil, just across the Rhine River in Germany. We went to check out the lab and made studio plans for Sunday. And then just like that, it was time to re-pack all the DJ gear and hit the highway to Colmar, where we were booked to rock “Cimarron Lakside Soundsystem 2008.”

About 40 minutes into the countryside drive, it got a little nervous. Sort of like driving into the woods a la Brothers Grimm. The only directions instructed that the party was “avant le maison d’eau” (before the water tower). Okay. So we arrived to a pretty disheartening scene. It had rained all day, the party was not even close to set up, and it was 9:30pm. I will make a long story short and let the soon-to-come pictures and video do the talking. DJs didn’t start playing till midnight, the other live act was a French folk guitar rap act, and the keg tap was busted. Finally the beer started flowing, the merguez sausages were grilling and the peoples partied. By the time we hit the stage at 4:30AM heads were either slumped near the bonfire or hepped up on dancehall. Far and I hit them with a reggae-centric half hour that had the woods howling. After blowing the roof off of the outdoor party, the organizer walked back up to us with two microphones, nodded to the soundman, handed us the mics and simply said, “Freestyle.” So the cypher blazed until le matin, and for the second straight day, we saw the sunrise. The only difference was that we were 60 kilometers from home, and had to be at DJ Q’s radio show at 10:00am!

We pulled into Strasburg at about 8:00am, caught a shower, hit the boulangerie and rolled over to RBS Radio 91.9. Still 5 deep (Q, Rectape, Far, Perco Loco, Fred aka DJ Deriv and myself), we took turns passing out on the “couch of mysterious stains” until the needles dropped. Then Far and I did an on-air interview, rocked the freestyles, and I DJ’d a 30 minute set. Hotness for the underground broadcast radio. Afterwards, there was no option other than passing the fuck out.

Saturday night was our chance to give back to our divine hosts. I cooked a feast for the crew, and we chilled at Q’s, listening to jazz, eating, drinking and moroccing. Then we hit the Strasbourg streets deep along with Lyrics, DJ Nelson and Rom One (ill beatboxer) for a Hip Hop stroll. Strasbourg is a city with small town vibe, so every 4 blocks we ran into someone who someone knew. Without even trying, we found ourselves up at 4:00am again. But our timing was perfect to return to Q’s, eat leftovers and watch Michael Phelps win gold medal #8.

Semi-caught up on sleep today, waking at 1:30pm in the afternoon. We promptly met up with Niko and hit Time Code Studios. In a 6-hour session, we knocked out 3 tracks. Took an intermission to Niko & NoNo’s (his lady) house, where we were fed, overfed, and sensory satiated entirely. NoNo even called ahead to Berlin to hook us up with a hotel she recommended. Seriously, this girl cooked a fantastic feast, speaks fluent French, German, Spanish and English, and politicked U.S. foreign policy with us for 2 hours. Magnifique. When you guys come to New York, you are getting royal Rabbi D backyard BBQ treatment.

Back to the lab to catch the rough mix bounces. Outstanding session. Far and I did two tracks together over beats by Hon, one (tentatively) called “Timecode” (aka “Currency Exchange”) and another called (tentatively) “Yes He Is.” The first, we had been writing on for 2 days. The second, I devised the hook on Friday, and we full-on freestyled the verses, trading off and punching in on each other. Far also laid down the beautiful ode, “Shape My Life,” over a sensational sentimental track by Rectape.

So as I bed on Sunday, we have tomorrow to relax in picturesque Strasbourg. The plan is to edit some photos and video, and ready the multi-media tour update. We’ve got some incredible footage thus far, and I’m sharpening my chops on imovie:)

Nearly off to Berlin…

Bon soiree,

Schooly D

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Time Zonin': The Dollar vs the Euro

After a monstrous day of errand running, luggage buying, rapid packing and rushed departing, we made it JFK with Budweiser time to spare. As pictures and video can only partially illustrate, we have massive bags. As I would later find out, my two pieces of checked baggage ring in at 55 kilos combined. Lugging the luggage was a mere formality under the spell of adrenaline and optimism.

On the way out of NYC, we laid eyes up the fullest, brightest, most magnificent rainbow I’d ever seen. Simply breathtaking. A good omen?

The Air India flight was about what I expected, complete with chicken curry and mini-samosas. Smooth trasn-Atlantic journey, but, oh, that was merely the beginning of the day. Arriving at London Heathrow at 8:00hr, our next task was to change airports. We had to get to Stansted to catch the Ryanair flight to Karls-Bande, where we would then rendez-vous with DJ Rectape and T-Killa and drive to Strasbourg, just over the German border in France. The airport jaunt turned out to be a nearly 3 hour bus ride. Z’s all the way. Walking into Stansted was a like entering Ellis Island on a light day in 1898. Utter madness. Lines with no end, passengers yet no airline employees. Fortunately we had about 6 hours to kill before our flight.

We enter Stansted swinging.

Somewhere around hour 4 of time killing, I read some of the fine print on the Ryanair e-ticket. It is a “discount” airline, designed for the European day commuter, and built to royally screw anyone with over 15 kilos of luggage. Basically, the fine print read that the overweight charge is “12 GBP per kg over 15 kgs.” Considering I have over 55 kgs of shit, the “overcharge” was painful, to put it mildly. If you needed anything else to slam on the Bush administration, tack on the weakness of the U.S. dollar. Cringe-worthy prices. Big shouts out to Jacob from Ryanair. But be forewarned: “discount European” airlines can quickly become anything but cheap. If you have a choice, avoid Ryaniar at all costs. Real talk.

But we are here, all the merchandise made it overseas, and we’re readying to rock Strasbourg ce soir. Incredibly beautiful border city, across the Rhine River from Germany. Magical streets, lovely hosts. Turnableast crew is great peoples; it’s a dream realized to chill with global Hip Hoppers in NYC, then rendez-vous with them in their homeland. But, hey, that’s the theme of this trip.

“Summer Breaks” is taking on more meanings than I ever could’ve imagined…

Ciao for now,