BLACKALICIOUS (CHIEF XCEL AND GIFT OF GAB)
Between the collaboration of lyricist Gift of Gab and DJ/ producer Chief Xcel, Blackalicious helped establishing the San Francisco hip-hop scene in the early '90s. With funding assistance courtesy of Solesides Records, Blackalicious debuted with the single "Swan Lake" b/w "Lyric Fathom" in 1994 and the EP Melodica the following year. After contributing to the label showcase "Quannum Spectrum", the duo released their first LP "Nia" on the rejuvenated Solesides label, Quannum Projects. In April 2002, the new Blackalicious album appeared and it's called "Blazing Arrow" It's again a step forward since the NIA album. Many collaborations from the likes of Ben Harper, Zach De la Roca and Gill Scott Heron. 2003 - Chief Xcel will produced some tracks for theLifesavas album and there's of course the Maroons (Chief Xcel + Lateef) EP "Ambush" 2005; The new Blackalicious album will be released, as well as the Maroons full length "Ashé" Welcome to the future.
Luciano Nakata Albuquerque, born in Brazil to Spanish/Japanese parents, early on earned the moniker Curumin, a term reserved by indigenous Brazilians for their more precocious children. It was the 1970s in Sao Paulo, and with his older brother Curumin began his journey through the world's music, from Jorge Ben to Devo to Bebeto. By the time he was 8, he'd already formed his first rock band with classmates, with pots and pans substituting for a proper drum kit. Within two years he'd formed another band, this time an instrumental funk group called ZU. By the time he was 14 he was already a percussionist at Sao Paulo's top clubs. By 16 he'd taught himself to play keyboards as well.
Later on in his teens, Curumin enrolled at the prestigious music school Gaviões da Fiel, where he was exposed to the 40 year history of MPB ("Musica Popular Brasileira"), delving deeper into samba during the day, while learning outside school about the B-52s and Run DMC. Curumin and two friends quickly formed Zomba, a band devoted to Brazilian music and classic funk, replete with brass and percussion sections, but accompanied also by a DJ. Zomba were widely praised, spurring a resurgence of interest in the 70s sound in Sao Paulo. Clearly not one to be idle, this multi-tasker was also in a band called Toca with one Gustavo Lenza, which would prove to be the blueprint for Achados E Perdidos.
Cut Chemist has been recording and performing for over twenty years. He started dj’ing in 1984, at age 11 years old. In 1987 aged 14 Cut started recording with his friends including Chali2na. Cut first became known as a founding member of both the rap group Jurassic Five and the Grammy award winning Latin funk outfit, Ozomatli. Keeping his involvement with both groups in tandem with one another, Cut has developed a taste for music and rhythms from around the world while keeping his ethic for the hip hop tradition. His mix-tapes and remixes became critically acclaimed. His ‘chemist’ moniker was fully realized with his instrumental, Lesson 6: The Lecture. A musical journey that challenged hip hop production with music theory ideals.
Cut also found time to collaborate with DJ Shadow on what would be one of the worlds most sought after mix cd’s, Brainfreeze, soon to be followed by its sequel, Product Placement. Eventually Cut left both Jurassic Five and Ozomatli to pursue a career with Warner Bros where he landed his first solo LP, The Audience’s Listening in July, 2006. The title track was quickly placed for the first Worldwide Apple Nano commercial with Cut performing at all major US and European flagship Apple stores, while the single, The Garden became a favourite with taste makers and the single “What’s The Altitude” became one of the most viewed videos on YouTube.
In 2007 Cut Chemist supported Shakira on her Oral Fixation tour where he dazzled her audience with his selection of world music and a cut ‘n’ scratch audio visual presentation, something that no one has ever done before or since, garnering Cut Chemist with the reputation of pushing the boundaries of what a ‘DJ’ can do. Upon returning to LA he made a cameo appearance as the chemistry teacher in the academy award winning movie JUNO and will also be featured in another forthcoming Jason Reitman production, Jennifer’s Body.
Later in 2007, Cut concentrated on making marks in LA of the highest praises by headlining the Hollywood Bowl with long time friend and collaborator, DJ Shadow. there they began the year long campaign for the third instalment of their mix cd series this time entitled “The Hard Sell” which toured all around the world to sell out venues and Festivals.
DJ D SHARP
Just your Favorite DJ Savior! Josh Davis is his real name. Because he was highly impressed by the early forms of hiphop, he wanted to make something like that himself, even if it was without MC's. He became the founder of an instrumental form of hiphop, where the DJ is the main-person. Just like it was during the early days of hiphop. After releasing a few classic, and long-lasting EP's (IN-FLUX; 12 minutes - What Does Your Soul Look Like; 30 minutes), working with some other people (e.g. the Japanese DJ Krush), his debut album came out in 1996. Endtroducing.....It became a real monument. Not only it was very respected by hiphop-fans, the rock and jazz-world were amazed as well. Shadow found a way of telling a story, also without the verbal violence of MC's. In 1998, the amazing UNKLE / Psyence Fiction (a collaboration of people like Kool G Rap, Thom Yorke and Mike D) album came out. DJ Shadow produced the album together with former Mo'wax boss James Lavelle. Also, Shadow has been busy producing tracks for his Quannum-crew (Latyrx, Blackalicious), formerly known as Solesides. Fresh, progressive, music taking hiphop to another level. This resulted in some fine tracks on the QUANNUM - Spectrum album. Probably, the complete QUANNUM crew will start working on a follow up to the Spectrum album at the end of this year - 2003 (so after the upcoming releases by Lifesavas, Lyrics Born, Maroons). In June 2002, Shadow's new album was be released. It's called "The Private Press" and it's a killer album. Incredible production, perfect music. It's a step forwards from endtroducing and the UNKLE album. You can really hear how Shadow's producing skills are on this album. - The chase for the perfect song will never stop. Also in 2002, Shadow toured all around the world. His live set was incredible - Together with the stunning visuals, it was a perfect presentation of the music. 2003; DJ Shadow has finished some tracks for the upcoming Zach De La Rocha (former Rage Against The Machine) album and after the follow up to the Spectrum-follow upo (see above), there's gonna be Shadow's 3rd solo joint..... (this are all rumours, but from 1st hand) 2005; Welcome to the future. -
General Elektriks is the brainchild of RV Salters. A French national and keen vintage keyboard player, he initiated GE just before moving to San Francisco. Using a computer, his oldschool keys and a SM-57 mike, he started sewing together loops, Funky keyboard licks, ethereal melodies and digital tweaking. GE became a musical journal that followed RV through his move to Seattle, then back down to the Bay Area, Berkeley, where he currently resides. There, he started laying keys down for the Quannum crew. Quannums own Lateef The Truth Speaker and Chief Xcel returned the favor by guesting on GE. Consisting of 12 songs from the journal, Cliquety Kliqk was first released in France by Bleu Electric, then picked up by Compost for Europe and by Quannum for the US.
Aesthetically, GE is a project that refuses to land in a particular bin at the record store. A mix of vintage sounds, hip hop beats, noir riffs, dreamy vocals, cinematic arrangements and digital twinkle, Cliquety Kliqk embraces all of RVs musical addictions. Radically new yet strangely familiar, General Elektriks is like a friend that you meet for the first time but feel like youve known all your life.
GIFT OF GAB
A BLACKALICIOUS BIOGRAPHY...
Self-described "everyday brothers," the Bay Area native Xavier Mosley (Chief Xcel) met the San Fernando Valley native Tim Parker (Gift of Gab) at John F. Kennedy High School in Sacramento, California in 1987, and immediately struck up a friendship over hip-hop. As Tim (known as Gabby T) and Xavier (then DJ IceSki) began plying their skills in the area, they decided to become a crew. Although they separated after Gab graduated in 1989, they kept in close touch and decided in 1991 to become Blackalicious.
Joyo Velarde is currently on tour with Lyrics Born. Her debut/solo album is near completion and you will find it available via Quannum Projects in the spring of 2007. Her initial goal was to be a news anchor (for real!), but once those around her got wind of those pipes, becoming the next Connie Chung just seemed like a total waste of cabbage. After this native of Manila studied opera in Rome, she returned to the Bay Area, where she and her paramour LB recorded what would go on to be Solesides' greatest hit, a little number called "Balcony Beach." If you lived in California in the 90s, chances are you've sung Joyo's refrain in the shower.
Not content with mere studio stardom, Joyo began touring with the Solesides (now Quannum) stable - notably Blackalicious and Latyrx, honing her chops all the while. In between international tours that took her to Australia, Japan and Europe, she and hubby would hunker down and make "beautiful soul music," the purpose of which is twofold, but that's another story. From the Quannum omnibus Spectrum, Joyo emerged triumphant on such signature Shimura tracks like Hott People and People Like Me.
Next to emerge from the LB/JV El Cerrito bungalow was her first truly solo endeavor, which would prove to be her biggest yet. "Sweet Angels" is a lilting reggae number, well-suited for both a mint julip in the hammock out back or a late night club grine. The single was a massive success, and Joyo's performance of the song live would go on to be one of the highlights of the live Quannum experience. Anyone who's seen Lyrics Born perform over the last year will attest to the show-stopping nature of the track, which often elicits sisterly hollers from all the ladies in the house.
LATEEF THE TRUTH SPEAKER
Interracial hip-hop duo Latyrx - a combination of its members' names, Lateef the Truth Speaker and Lyrics Born - released an acclaimed, eponymous debut album (also known as "The Album") in 1997, with some production work from DJ Shadow. Later that year, the "Muzapper's Mixes EP" was issued; however, the only new release from the duo before the turn of the century was a remix collection, Muzapper's Remixes, which appeared in 1999 along with the reissue of the duo's debut. 2003 - Lyrics Born released releasing his solo album and Lateef wil released his EP under the name "Maroons" (Produced by Chief Xcel). Full length Maroons coming in 2005 Welcome to the future.
Lifesavas are (in no particular order):
VURSATYL (Marlon Irving)
JUMBO the Garbageman (Solomon David)
DJ Rev. SHINES (Ryan Shortell)
VURSATYL and JUMBO the Garbageman, the MCs and heartbeat of LIFESAVAS, were drawn together by fate and necessity. They first met playing basketball and rippin' freestyling sessions in Portland, Oregon city parks. Working different projects out of the same makeshift studio, their eventual mutual respect for each other led to an explosion of writing and performing songs and routines with JUMBO at the decks. JUMBO and VURSATYL gained local notoriety by playing a lot of shows as a last-minute duo, thereby becoming known to promoters as, literally, "lifesavers." Shortly thereafter, Jumbo's emceeing talents came into play when VURSATYL witnessed JUMBO "destroy" another emcee at a late night freestyle battle. With the addition of Rev. SHINES holding down the turntables, LIFESAVAS were born.
JUMBO and VURSATYL write and arrange all of the material, with JUMBO holding down the MPC and production while both VURSATYL and JUMBO apply lyrical and verbal pyrotechnics. Rev. SHINES, a walking musical encyclopedia in his own right, can tell you the catalog number, year of release, producer and artist of whatever might pass through his ears after hearing two bars over a weak-signal cell phone.
Chief Xcel from Blackalicious recognized JUMBO's distinctly angular, "pregnant" production style and VURSATYL's soulful emceeing pounding from a store stereo system while crate digging for vinyl in Portland. X soon tracked down LIFESAVAS and invited them to perform in San Francisco with Blackalicious where the rest of the crew from the artist-owned label, Quannum Projects (owned by Blackalicious, DJ Shadow, and Latyrx), was first exposed to their sound.
VURSATYL was invited to tour the world as a part of Blackalicious' live performance, covering backup vocals and elevating their sound with his vocal style of rapping and soul singing, an ability he honed as a youth, partly in gospel choirs and partly on the streets. Shortly thereafter, Chief Xcel offered LIFESAVAS a record deal from Quannum Projects. On his desire to work with LIFESAVAS, Chief Xcel said, "They're like the essence of hip-hop. They've got the same energy of a Pete Rock and CL Smooth - that's what attracted me to them. JUMBO is definitely going to be a force on the production end, as well as lyrically. We're really excited that they are part of the Quannum family."
"Hip-hop is divided and people are being forced to choose between what industry insiders consider 'hot' and what is important as far passing on the traditions, knowledge, and responsibility that hip-hop culture grew from. The culture has grown fast and furious. It went from the Bronx to Germany, from independent to big business. There have been growing pains," say LIFESAVAS, whose jobs would range from public outreach speakers advocating youth programs, to teachers, to doing voice characterizations for the Cartoon Network if music wasn't their profession. LIFESAVAS' thoughts on social and political responsibility in hip-hop can be summed up by a quote from their second Quannum single, What if it's True?: "You gotta stand for something even if you're sitting down." They see their audience as people that are still fans of "real" hip-hop. Their personal stereos are currently banging music from Common's Electric Circus, Mr. Lif's I Phantom, Chocolate Milk's Action Speaks Louder than Words, Beans, J-Live's All of the Above, Jaylib, Kim Burrell's Live, Sly Stone Anthology, and Dudley Perkins.
MAROONS (LATEEF AND THE CHIEF)
MIGHTY UNDERDOGS (Lateef and Gift Of Gab)
It all started in the early 90's at the Good Life, home of the West Coast underground hip hop scene. The boot camp for artists like Freestyle Fellowship, Kurupt, The Pharcyde, and Black Eyed Peas. Every Thursday night, a young cat by the name of Pigeon John would come out form the quiet streets of Hawthorne, CA to showcase his songs and skills. For the next several years, he grew and learned how to truly rock any crowd, whether it be hip hop or punk rock, he would adapt and relate to them with honesty. He was booed, he was praised and he was honed to become one of the most prolific MCs of his time.
In the recent years, he's been a part of the groups, Brainwash Projects and L.A. Symphony, whose albums, "The Rise and Fall of..." and "Composition # 1", have been named classic by the underground. He's been featured on many compilations and has been shone brightly on countless guest appearances. Pigeon John has also toured the U.S. eight times over, as a soloist and with L.A. Symphony. He continued to make moves with LAS by becoming a featured artist on the Yahoo.com/NBA summer tour, appearing in a two page Levi's adds in Spin magazine, and scoring a featured song in the movie "Get Over It", starring Kristen Dunst and Sisqo. Along with 6 LAS songs, Pigeon John's song, "Identity Crisis" can be heard on the XBOX games, "Project Gotham" and "NBA Inside Drive 2002". His independent debut album, "Pigeon John is Clueless" has sold over 11,000 copies out the trunk so far.
Now, in 2003, the future is here! PJ's 2nd solo album, "Pigeon John is Dating Your Sister" is making it's way to stores nationwide. In this project, he blends melody with rhythm, heartbreak with hip hop, and washes away stereotypes. His songs tie the ear down and enrapture the audience from start to finish. With influences from De La Soul to the Beatles, Pigeon John opens up a brand new sound that will relate to all. His lyrics come from the heart, his beats come from the crates as he connects with backpackers, cheerleaders, and punk rockers alike, with ease. His shows are stripped down and legendary, melding energy and humor- he is uncut, raw, and hilariously honest. He is defining his generation and is making music that is present, now, and destined to become the soundtrack to many lives. He is spearheading a new genre...stay tuned!
POETS OF RHYTHM
What sets the Poets apart from other bands in this emerging modern funk movement is that they have an undeniably distinctive voice. Nowhere on "Discern/Define" will the listener find a cover version of a funk standard. The Poets have created new standards, transcending current parameters. Their sound is fine-tuned, yet wildly eclectic, citing African rhythms, gritty rock riffs, psychedelic sounds and soulful melodies, all backed by that omnipresent funk backbeat. The Poets message is often spiritual and inspirational, yet most importantly, relevant to the present, with song titles like "Guiding Resolution", "We (as a Part)", and "Smiling While You're Crying." The Poets have that unique power of being able to depart from tradition in order to bring advancement to the music and entice unsuspecting listeners - yet still please the purists with home-cooked "Funk of Ages" values. Songs like "Ham Gallery", and "The Jaunt" show they can still rock a party better than ever, all with a sense of humor and a dash of off-the-cuff panache. The Poets music has catapulted them into the next era, raising the bar for up-and-coming groups within the newly emerging modern funk movement. The Poets of Rhythm are unanimously regarded by those same peers as the standard bearers. Why? One listen and you'll see why. It ain't hard to tell.
Salvador Santana was born in 1983 in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a Latin instrumentalist whose main instrument is the keyboard. He sings and loves spoken word, but piano and keyboard have always been his mainstays. He is also notably the son of ten-time Grammy winning guitarist Carlos Santana and poet/author Deborah Santana. His maternal grandfather, Saunders King, is an icon of American blues and his paternal grandfather, Jose Santana, is a legendary violinist and mariachi bandleader.Santana began playing piano at the age of five. He was instructed by Maria Miget. He later went on to study music at San Francisco School of the Arts High School. He took up playing percussion and found a niche with the tympani drum. He also played piano in the school's award-winning jazz band.In 1999, Salvador collaborated with his father on the Grammy winning track “El Farol” off smash album Supernatural.For higher education, Santana attended California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California.