12.31.2012

Celebrating 75 years of American...rap music?


"Listen close, I don't want you to miss
none of this here story, 'cause it goes like this..."

Yeah, yeah, KRS-One. The Bronx may be the birthplace of hip-hop music, but some of its precious "blueprint" appears to have come from the rugged suburbs of Virginia. That's right, Virginia. It was in the Norfolk suburb of Berkley that the gospel music act known as the Golden Gate Quartet was formed in the 'durrty' 1930s. Negro spirituals were this crew's specialty, but they were famously known for rocking the mic with a trademark brand of toe-tapping gospel, marinated in the secular styles of jazz, blues, pop and rap -- decades before rap even had a name! And to my ears, the Golden Gate Quartet's 1937 cover/remix of the Arthur Collin's song "Preacher and the Bear" seems to be one of the earliest and best examples on wax of a familiar sound that would come to revolutionize music four decades later, with the release of Sugar Hill Gang's "Rapper's Delight." Yowza! Talk about old school.

Submitted for your approval ... "Preacher and the Bear."


[Press-N-Play®] Golden Gate Quartet – Preacher and the Bear
[Press-N-Play®] Golden Gate Quartet – Mockingbird

  
Shout outs to Word Is Bond for the heads-up, and to the ever reliable Archive.org for an even better version of this song, as well as others by the Golden Gate Quartet.

12.12.2012

Twilight of the Twinkie

 Since the 1930s, the taste of Hostess snack cakes were an integral part of snack culture in America. Maybe nowhere was this more apparent than in the pages of comic books in the 1970s and '80s. In the full-page Hostess ads that were regularly featured, costumed crime-fighters relied on their wits – and the irresistible bait of Twinkies, Fruit Pies, and Cupcakes – to capture hapless bad guys. Odin only knows how many times Hostess snack cakes saved the day. And not just in the pages of comics but also in the real world, when appetites craved a cream-filled or a fruit-filled treat. In sweet remembrance of the Hostess Company, which turned off its ovens after an 80-year run in the snack business, YKFS brings you a few of those pulse-pounding pages. If you got lucky enough to get your hands on a pack of Twinkies before they were all bought up and posted on Ebay, I hope that you poured out a little milk on the curb for the dearly departed and savored every last crumb.


Click to enlarge






[Press-N-Play®] Blondie vs Fab 5 Freddy - Yuletown Throw Down (Rapture Christmas Mix)

Blondie, Fab 5 Freddy, Grandmaster Flash & friend + Chris Stein, NYC (1981)


11.26.2012

Top 20 Slept On Reasons Why Nicki Minaj Is A Geek Goddess

                                                                                  Jacked pic courtesy of Honeymag.com


TOP 20 SLEPT ON REASONS WHY NICKI MINAJ IS A MAJOR GEEK GODDESS 

By St. Paco

In spite of all of her richly deserved props (haters, baccdafuccup), Nicki Minaj has never received the credit that she's due for being a super sexy geek goddess on the DL. Thus, this stan astute listener is pullin' Ms. Nicki's Yu-Gi-Oh card to give all you 'Sheldons' twenty spine-tingling reasons why she is the slept on pinup queen of comic book hoarders, action figure fanatics, street-smart geeks and 'toon loving anime freaks.

Top 20 reasons why Nicki Minaj is a pinup goddess of the 21st century nerd herds:

1. Back in the day (meaning, three years ago) Nicki rocked a knock-off Wonder Woman costume in a photo used on the covers of her pre-major label mix-tapes, Harajuku Barbie and Beam Me Up Scotty.

2. The fact that she's 'brick' enough to fill out a Wonder Woman costume

3. The fact that she even had a mix-tape with the title Beam Me Up Scotty.

4. The fact that she has made countless references to the über fly Harajuku fashion district of Tokyo.

5. Nicki has proven that she has a mutant-like ability to speak in a rather (pronounced "rah-thur") convincing British accent, similar to hardcore Harry Potter cosplayers.

6. Nicki used the Barbie logo as the template for an eye-popping pink and white iced nameplate.

7. Nicki has rapped that she's a ninja, and that "Lil' Wayne is my sensei."

8. Nicki screamed like Godzilla at the end of that fire-spittin' verse on Kanye's "Monster."

9. Nicki's lyrics reveal a strong fixation with caped crusaders like Superman and his luscious lovely cousin Supergirl.

10. Lyrical exhibit A: "That's why I put that 'S' on my chest, and I'm gone."

11. Lyrical exhibit B: "I'm a comic book heroine."

13. Lyrical exhibit C: "Superhero by night, r-r-rapper by day." 

14. Lyrical exhibit D: "'S' on my chest, 'cause I'm ready to save him."

15. Lyrical exhibit E: "Put on my cape and hit the sky: Heroine." 

15. Nicki bragged that she's flyer than Darkwing Duck on Keri Hilson's "Get Your Money Up" remix.

16. Nicki boasted that her money's so tall that "my Barbie's gotta climb it" on Kanye's "Monster."

17. She stuttered like Porky Pig and said "that's all, folks" on Lil' Wayne's "Sweet Dreams" remix.

18. Did I mention that Wonder Woman costume?

19. Mattel Toys produced a one-of-a-kind Nicki Minaj Barbie, which places her on the topmost shelf of an illustrious glass case filled with action figures modeled after legendary hip-hop idols like Run-DMC, Public Enemy, Biz Markie, MF Doom, Ghostface Killah, Notorious B.I.G., and, um…MC Hammer. 

20. Nicki has more bifocal-fogging curves than Olivia Munn, Kristen Kreuk and Penny from Big Bang Theory combined.


[Cue Letterman audience applause]

11.17.2012

They drank Sprite and then formed like...



Although it was originally Method Man and the Wu-Tang Clan who coined the phrase "We form like Voltron," it was a different mix of hip-hop artists who starred in a series of Voltron inspired Sprite commercials in 1998. Today, we can only daydream how those TV spots might have looked – and sounded – if the RZA, Meth, Raekwon and the rest had been placed behind the controllers of Voltron's black, red, green, blue and yellow lions. Instead, but much to their credit, the marketing heads at Sprite assembled a crew of hip-hop artists who represented the East Coast (Afrika Bambaataa, Jazzy Jay, Fat Joe), West Coast (Mack 10), Northern (Common) and Southern states (Goodie Mob). The beats and rhymes were appropriately bubbly, and the campaign showed a sparkling effort by an advertiser to sample the mouth-watering flavors that can result when American hip-hop gets blended with a Japanese giant robot.

Submitted for your approval...the Sprite "Voltron" commercials.






10.28.2012

About #@$% time – The Ultra Seven Complete Series DVD box set is finally coming!!!


With the release of an über-affordable Ultraman: The Complete Series DVD collection from Mill Creek in 2009, many of us hoped that it would only be a matter of time before "Ultra Seven," the popular 1967 follow-up to "Ultraman," would also punch its way into the American marketplace. And now, according to August Ragone, author of Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters, this long hoped for collection is finally coming! December 2012 will bring fans the eagerly-awaited release of Ultra Seven: The Complete Series, a six disc collection from Shout! Factory. This striking boxed set will include all 48 episodes* of the Ultra Seven TV series in the original Japanese with English subtitles. Also included with the discs is a 24-page booklet on the making of Ultra Seven written by August Ragone, and a...special surprise bonus?! The release of Ultra Seven is slated for December 11th. Pre-orders can be placed today with the good folks over at Amazon.com($34.99 SRP). So grab a purple crayon, kiddies, scribble this baby down on your 'wishmas' list, and make sure to stay on Santa's good side from now until December 25th. If you can do that, then it's highly likely that Christmas this year will be incredibly mer–ultra.

*Batteries the controversial episode 12 ("From Another Planet With Love") not included.

10.27.2012

NOW SHOWING...

 
It's Saturday again, gang, and you know what that means? You betcha! It's time for Your Kung Fu Sucks! Grindhouse Cinemas™ to bring another installment of the Monsta Mashin' Matinee to your desktops! This month's creature feature is a showing of Korea's first entry into the daikaiju genre with the 1967 classic, Yongary: Monster from the Deep (aka Great Monster Yongary). As always, this Vintage Video™ is available as a free mp4 download courtesy of the fine folks over at Archive.org. But you're also more than welcome to watch it front-row-and-center at the YKFS blog. But do bring your own popcorn, Sno-Caps and Jujubees, please.


10.26.2012

Ghostface Killah & Adrian Younge give you "Twelve Reasons to Die"


In this hard-knock life of ours, there are three things we can always count on: death, taxes, and Ghostface Killah. And on November 20th, this ever reliable member of the Wu-Tang clan is dropping his 10th solo album, Twelve Reasons to Die. Produced in collaboration with Adrian Younge, the maestro behind the Black Dynamite soundtrack, and executive produced by Wu Abbot the RZA, you can bet your candy store money that this album will be on some next level $#@%. As such, in the direction of the next logical level, Ghostface (aka Tony Starks, aka Iron Man) is also launching a related comic book project in December! With Christmas right around the corner, the Twelve Reasons to Die album and comic book sound like they'd make great stocking stuffers for the Wu-fan who has everything–like you, me and everyone we know.

10.25.2012

Prelude to The Man with The Iron Fists - "The Encounter," narrated by the RZA

  
Eric Calderon and RZA, the creators behind the sights and the sounds of the smash hit Afro Samurai, brings to the web an artful-looking prequel to the Universal Pictures film The Man with the Iron Fists. Check out the YouTube exclusive video by clicking here.

Director: RZA 
Release: 11/2/2012 
Studio: Universal Pictures 
Website: http://www.ironfists.com

[GFM] Nat King Cole – Autumn Leaves

Grown folks music.

[Press-N-Play®] Nat King Cole – Autumn Leaves (English Version)
[Press-N-Play®] Nat King Cole – Autumn Leaves (Japanese Version)

The Enlightenment of 'Uncle Rush' in Forbes

      (Image Credit: ForbesLife)

"The Enlightenment of Russell Simmons" by Forbes Staff writer Hannah Elliot appears in the November 5, 2012 issue of Forbes Life. Read the entire article for free-ninety-nine by clicking here.

10.24.2012

Russell Simmons on stillness


"When Albert Einstein developed the theory of relativity, he was operating out of a state of stillness. When Biggie Smalls wrote his greatest rhymes, he was operating out of a state of stillness. When Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb, he was operating out of a state of stillness. When Gandhi went on his first hunger strike, he was operating out of a state of stillness too.
  Stillness is the fertile soil in which imagination is nourished, and ideas can grow to incredible heights. The stillness inside of us is a field of dreams from which we can reap our most abundant harvests."

– Russell Simmons

Source: Super Rich, pg. 32

10.23.2012

Soul Clap for Piano in D Minor

There's something deeply soulful about to the piano strokes of the appropriately nicknamed Soul Hug. It's hard to explain, but if you're the kind of listener who hears music deeply, then maybe no explanation will be necessary. Maybe you'll be similarly affected by the pure and simple sound of a solitary piano under the hands of a musician with a sincere passion for the instrument, and a knack for hitting just the right notes.

The nine original songs on Soul Hug's recently released Elepianote EP are mellow and sweetly melodic. If you're not in the right mindset for that today (or tonight), it's okay. Save it for when you need something in that vein, and nothing else in your mp3 player is doing it. And when that time does come, do what I did: Press play, lower your eyelids, and see where the music takes you.

As for me, I'm wandering into a hotel lobby in some strange city situated in the Pacific Rim of my frontal lobe. It's just after 2 AM when I push inside the nameless hotel through the brass-and-glass revolving doors. Once inside, my ears are caught by the warming notes of a piano that beckon to me from around a nearby corner. Following the sound, I'm guided to the doorway of a dimly lit bar.

Stepping inside the double-doored entrance, my eyes make out the dimly lit shape of a young, hip-hop-looking cat who's seated at a piano, twenty or so feet away. His head is wrapped in a brown wool-knit cap with its brim 'broken off' to the left. A lit Marlboro pokes out from the lips of a thinly haired goatee. His slim frame is garbed in a white tee-shirt and baggy Phat Farm blue jeans that flood down over the tops of wheat-colored Timberlands.

Like myself, the musician is also in town from someplace else far away. Needing an escape from the solitary confinement of his friendless hotel room, he took to wandering the hotel's hallways. Before long, he'd found the sanctuary that he needed in this darkened bar with a Wurlitzer piano parallel parked in a corner.

Mesmerized by the plinking of the keys, I slink into the cushioned booth just inside the entrance. As my eyes finish adjusting to the darkness, they reveal to me that I'm not alone here; hidden in the cushions of other booths nearby are a dozen more mesmerized listeners who were–just as I was–beckoned there by the warming allure of piano notes. 

A skinny little server saunters over and asks what I'll be having. I ask what the guy at the piano is drinking. "Thirty-year-old sake," she replies with a knowing smile. Slowly, I nod my head to signal agreement. And as she twirls her narrow hips to leave, I place a palm on the small of her spine, and ask that she also take a bottle to the wandering virtuoso with his fingers on the keys.


Soul Hug: ELEPIANOTE   

1. Love Note 
2. 月下美人 (Gekkabijin) 
3. Street
4. Three Color Of Night View
5. Kiss 
6. 侍 Samurai 
7. World Prayer 
9. Pirates of Legend  


Link courtesy of J-MP3 
• • • 
Thanks to Mr. Tang @ Word is Bond for the Soul Hug hook-up (by way of Otokaze).

10.14.2012

Freight train of thought


 Click to enlarge


Art: NG Crew (Fyse, El Mac, Equis), Tucson, 2001
Photos © 2002 St. Paco

9.30.2012

[Excerpt] Buddha in the Robot


Buddha in the Robot
By St. Paco

Ever since that giant protector of mankind known as Ultraman first punched his way out of television screens in 1966, Japan’s live-action giant robot shows have been immensely popular with audiences in Japan and around the world. In addition to Ultraman, other youth-oriented programs that featured over-sized super-heroes would find equal favor with an expanding worldwide audience. These include shows like Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot, the Space Giants, Super Robot Red Baron, Spectreman, and The Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.

From the time of my early exposure to imaginative shows such as these I was a fan–a big one. But, like everyone else in the target demographic who tuned in daily to follow their enormous adventures, I never gave much thought to the origins of Japan’s biggie-sized protectors. All I knew back then was that they captured my imagination like nothing else on the television. But recently, while paging through an out of copyright e-book on Japanese tourism downloaded from the Internet, I came across an aged photograph of a now barely remembered Daibutsu (Giant Buddha) statue that once loomed over Tokyo's famed Ueno Park. And though I had never seen it before, something about the expressionless giant with a comparatively small man standing in his palms seemed oddly familiar.

As you may have guessed from the picture (or from the obvious trail of bread crumbs dropped in the previous paragraphs), a connection was quickly drawn to giant robot shows. Just as those other giants had done when I was young, the super-sized statue put a judo hold on my imagination. But, more than that, the photograph also provoked me to ponder if there could really be a connection between such statues and those larger-than-life TV guardians of humanity.

War Machine

To be completely honest, I didn’t immediately begin contemplating the possible links that could exist between the giant Buddha statues of Japan and its giant robot TV shows. At first, my fertile mind was too preoccupied with untamed ideas about a computer generated movie, or a comic book, or even a limited-edition action figure modeled on the Ueno Park Buddha.

Oh, and yes, I do realize that such thinking is kinda' inappropriate, in that it's a representation of the Enlightened One and all. But if you have a good imagination, and you like giant robots, then you simply must admit that a massive mechanical man modeled after the statue would be pretty frickin’ awesome. I mean, look at him! He’s big, he’s bad, and even the curls popping out of his cranium look like they could kick some butt.

Within a few short minutes, I had roughed out a quick synopsis about a reclusive roboticist that I named Mori Masamune, who had built a giant robot cast in the image of the Ueno Park Buddha. This act was done as a gesture to honor the memory of his mother who used to visit the statue as a girl in the 1940s, before it was melted down for use in the Pacific war effort.

If that idea sounds good as a clever bit of fiction, it’s because it is rooted in historical fact.

During World War II, the bronze foundation, body and head of the Ueno Park statue were claimed under Japan’s Metal Acquisition Law, which mandated that various metals be turned over to the government for weapons production. Somehow the face of the Tokyo Daibutsu escaped destruction. Today, it sits enshrined in the park where the full statue once stood.

With my thinking cap still in place, several glorious titles for the CG movie/comic book/action figure project came to mind. But the list soon dwindled down to a ‘title bout’ between “Metal God One” and “Black Guardian Daibutsu.” As much as I liked the first one, though, the second really seemed to be the most fitting, since Tokyo’s long lost religious statue clearly depicted Buddha as a ‘brother.’

Heavy Metal

When the making of Tokyo’s Daibutsu was finished in 1660, it was just one of nine large bronze Buddha statues casting long shadows on the landscapes of Japan. The nation’s oldest dates to the 8th century, when a royal edict was issued that called for the building of Buddhist temples across Japan. The city of Nara was actually the nation’s capitol then, and the first and largest Daibutsu (52 feet) was completed there in 752.

Until about the 18th century, when an earthquake lessened their number, Japan’s other giant bronze Daibutsu statues could be found in temples located in the towns of Gifu, Echizen, Takaoka, Hyogo, Nikko and Kyoto. Japan’s second largest but most visited bronze Buddha was finished in 1252, and belongs to a temple in the tourist destination city of Kamakura.

Introduced by priests from China and Korea in the 6th century, India’s Buddhist religion quickly spread across Japan to become the second most practiced faith after Shinto, the native religion of the Japanese. Initially viewed as a dangerous rival to Shinto, the priests of Japan eventually authored a doctrine that would put the foreign faith on the path of harmonious co-existence with old gods of Japan.

It was in the 9th century that a philosophy called honji suijaku was developed in order to reconcile the ancient deities of Shinto with India’s more recently embraced buddhas and bodhisattvas (buddha-like saviors). According to this principle, the Shinto deities were considered the shadows or the “trace essence” of Buddhist deities, who were in turn viewed as the true forms or the “original essence” of all Shinto divinities.

It seemed that an understanding of the honji suijaku philosophy could be extremely useful in my attempt to discover possible links between ancient Buddhism and the giant robots of 20th century, an age when technology was like a new religion in Japan. What's more, the very existence of such a doctrine made it seem even more plausible that the super-sized saviors of modern television could also be reconciled somehow with the deities of Japan.

Or the ‘trace essence’ of their images at least.

Before trying to establish connections with Ultraman and the others, it seemed like a good idea to investigate yet another modern giant protector figure. One that might possibly have preceded the entry of the others into J-pop culture by way of the silver screen...


The YKFS management hopes that you have enjoyed this teaser excerpt of St. Paco's "Buddha in the Robot." The complete essay appears in the pulse-pounding pages of Kung Fu Grip! #5.

9.29.2012

[Rewind] Japanese Cartoon – In the Jaws of the Lords of Death


The year after Chi-town's Kanye West blind-sided pop music by freeing his inner torch singer on the critically acclaimed 808s & Heartbreaks, his West Side connection, Lupe Fiasco, let loose his inner punk rocker on the even more unpredictable In the Jaws of the Lords of Death. But, in contrast to Ye's clearly branded tunes, Lupe's guitar-grinding post-punk songs were clandestinely leaked to the web under the unknown band name of Japanese Cartoon. For weeks after the release of the first singles–which featured Lupe singing in a faux British brogue–the rapper even feigned as if he had nothing to do with the tracks. And though he wasn't exactly foolin' anybody, Lupe had managed to impress nearly everyone. In the Jaws of the Lords of Death gave new and old Lupe fans a splendid set of '80s flavored rock. It was cool music from a mysterious punk band with a famed front-man whose Grammy-grabbing forte is hip-hop. And yet, despite that successful genre-jumping accomplishment, Japanese Cartoon would ultimately turn out to be little more than a clever experiment by a brilliant artist who seems to bore quickly and threatens to retire from hip-hop often. Nonetheless, the project provided Lupe Fiasco (aka Lupin III) with a much-wanted opportunity to flex his creative muscles. It also gave listeners a chance to hear and see that when it comes to making music, Lupe is an Akira-like force to be reckoned with. – SP

[Press-N-Play®] Japanese Cartoon – Crowd Participation
[Press-N-Play®] Japanese Cartoon – Gasp

[:::Download:::] In the Jaws of the Lords of Death (2010)

9.28.2012

Masahiro Mori on the proper flow of learning


"To make water flow, it is necessary to create a difference in height, for water will flow only from high places to low places. In human society, we can increase the flow of nature by maintaining a low posture. 
  When you go to a scholar or an expert and ask him to teach you, the best way to ensure a flow of information from him to you is for you to practice humility–put yourself on a lower level than your instructor, so that his knowledge can flow down more freely. If you attempt to be his equal–to stand on the same level–you are not likely to learn much. Still less will you learn from anyone whom you hold in contempt."

– Masahiro Mori

Source: The Buddha in the Robot: A Robot Engineer's Thoughts on Science and Religion

9.26.2012

9.25.2012

[Book Report] Super #1 Robot

Super #1 Robot: Japanese Robot Toys, 1972-1982

The difference between men and boys is the age of their toys, and Tim Brisko's Super #1 Robot (Chronicle Books, 2005) showcases within its glossy pages a tantalizing taste of the candy-colored playthings that were once made for boys in Japan between 1972 and 1982.

That ten year time frame marked something of a golden age in robot toys, which were largely based on the towering titans of the animated TV shows of the day like Mazinger Z, Getter Robo, Brave Raydeen, Space Dragon Gaiking, Space Knight Tekkaman, Beast King GoLion (aka Voltron), Super Dimensional Fortress Macross, Mobile Suit Gundam, and others.

Boasting more than 200 pages of gorgeous color plates by photographer Tim Brisko, a fascinating 24-page essay by toy historians Matt Alt and Robert Duban, and a touching afterward by Bullmark Toys founder Saburo Ishiuziki, Super #1 Robot is the Christmas Wish Book you never had as a kid, and a compendium of classic robot toys that no full-grown otaku should be without. – SP


 1973 - Miracle Fighting Red Baron [Super Robot Red Baron], page 38

1974 - Great Mazinger [Great Mazinger], page 49

 1975 - Getter Dragun [Getter Robo G], page 75

1975 - Grandizer [UFO Robo Grandizer], page 85

 1976 - Combattra [Super Electromagnetic Robo Combattra], page 111

 1977 - Danguard Ace [Planetary Robo Danguard Ace], page 130

 1979 - Gundam Combination Set [Mobile Suit Gundam], page 165

1981 - Future Beast GoLion [Master of a Hundred Beasts: GoLion], page 188

Today - Meka Godzilla [Toho Kaiju], page 245

9.23.2012

Meanwhile...

 
Shogun Warriors #1: "Raydeen"
On my final day at the Phoenix Comicon this past May, a minty fresh copy of Shogun Warriors #1 found its way into the pile of bronze age beauties for which I paid one buck per book. [Colgate™ smile]

Published by Marvel Comics between February of 1978 and September of 1980, Shogun Warriors boasted the enormous exploits of a triumvirate of giant robots whose names and likenesses were licensed from Mattel Toys for use in comics by Marvel. The series ran for 20 issues and featured stories by writer Doug Moench and illustrations by artist Herb Trimpe.

As this first issue opens, the giant robot Raydeen, a "servant of good," is locked in an epic tussle with the equally enormous and polar opposite servant of evil, Rok-Korr. After having been stored away for unknown eons under a secret base in a remote part of the far east, it is Raydeen's first time on the battlefield and it is showing. Fortunately, this clash of titans takes place on the outskirts of the been-there-done-that-wearing-the-I-survived-t-shirt side of Tokyo.

Riding in the catbird seats of Raydeen's on-board control center are his three newly recruited handlers: Japanese aircraft pilot, Genji Odasu, African marine biologist, Ilongo Savage, and American stunt car test driver, Richard Carson. Before being abducted by aliens and tossed into the fray with Rok-Korr, the three were given a roughly 20-minute crash course on the art of robot rope-a-dope.

Despite landing a few well-placed blows and nearly putting the big bad guy down, team Raydeen is in over their heads. They have managed to lead the destructive Rok-Korr away from the city, though, and choose to try loosing him in the nearby mountains. After doing so, and seeing this as small triumph in an overall failure, Savage suggests a tactical retreat: He who fights and runs away lives long enough to sign up self-defense classes.

How and why were Genji Odasu, Ilongo Savage, and Richard Carson chosen for team Raydeen? Who are the Followers of Light and from what strange world do they originate? Whose big orange silhouettes are those flanking Raydeen on the cover? Who is Lord Maur-Kon and why does he wanna wreak havoc on our peaceful planet Earth? The answers to those questions and many more are to be found inside the pages of the first exciting issue of Shogun Warriors !

 Click to enlarge