1.29.2016

YKFS ranks the top 10 freshest and flyest and dopest and illest graffiti art record covers

Remarkably, despite its assumed importance in hip-hop culture, not very many record covers from hip-hop's golden age featured graffiti art. Those that did, though, offered fans of this art form living beyond New York's five boroughs some jaw-dropping glimpses into the amazing aerosol and pen & ink art being committed to the pages of black books, and to the surfaces of trains and walls during the early days of hip-hop. Ranked here for your perusing pleasure are 10 of the freshest and flyest and dopest and illest examples of "graff" on record covers.  

10. Sleeping Bag Records' Greatest Mixers Collection (LP)
Cover art by Gnome & Gemini/Gem7, 1985

09. Rock Steady Crew - Uprock (12" Single)
Cover art by Doze, 1984

08. B-Girls Live And Kickin' (LP)
Cover art by Akiem Irish, 1987

07. Rap's New Generation (LP)
Cover art by David Sims (Dawud Anyabwile), 1988

06. Mantronix - Needle to the Groove (12" Single)
Cover art by Gnome & Gemini/Gem7, 1985


05. Just-Ice - Back to the Old School (LP)
Cover art by Gnome & Gemini/Gem7, 1986

04. Kickin' Live Productions - The Brothers (12" Single)
Cover art by Akiem Irish, 1987

03. Jellybean - Wotupski!?! (LP)
Cover art by Seen, 1984

02. Wild Style Original Soundtrack (LP)
Cover art by Zephyr, Revolt & Sharp, 1983

01. Rammellzee vs. K-Rob - Beat Bop (12" Single)
Cover art by Jean Michel Basquiat aka SAMO, 1983


Finding yourself disagreeing with the order of these rankings? Some classical-leaning graffiti heads will probably balk at my pick for the #1 spot. Puh-leeze do feel free, though, to post your thoughts in the comments box and let St. Paco know how you would have ranked these classics. Or feel free to drop a line simply stating that this is really just the illest list ever (because it really, really is). Haha.

1.17.2016

Is a then-16 year-old J-pop star the long lost answer to a 13 year-old anime soundtrack mystery?




Beats Me

By Paco D. Taylor

It's fairly astounding to think that the violent, sexy, and sexually violent Parasite Dolls OVA (original video anime) was released way back in 2003.

What's astounding about it?

Well, for 13 astounding years now, fans of Kazushi Miyakoda's electronica-powered soundtrack for this anime have been left very much in the dark regarding the identity of the vocalist whose soulful, high-octane soprano is heard on "Get On the Beat," the anime's pulsating opening theme, and "Off," its brooding closing song.

That's right, for 13 astounding years.

But then, we should factor in the big, fat, relevant fact that J-pop recording artist Crystal Kay (born 1986) was just a sweet, 16 year-old girl when the very mature-themed Parasite Dolls was released.

Easy logic suggests that it was for a calculated reason – possibly a scandal  dodging one – that the then-high school student's name was withheld from the anime's closing credits and substituted with a curiosity sparking question mark.

That same pseudo-pseudonym was also used in place of a actual vocalist credit on the liner notes and packaging of the Parasite Dolls soundtrack, as well as on the CD single release for "Get On  the Beat."

And because of that, from the time of their release in 2003 up to the present, fans of the two tracks that boast Kay's distinctive vocal talents have remained surprisingly clueless.

Another factor in the confusion is the name "Michaelson" that appears in the closing credits, after the perplexing question mark. One of the main characters in the three-episode anime is Sergeant Reiko Michaelson, a tough as nails detective on the A.D. Police force.

That, however, is not the name of the singer featured on "Get On the Beat" and "Off." But on Last.FM, YouTube and other streaming media outposts, the two-dimensional cartoon character still gets credit for vocal performances by the living and breathing Crystal Kay.


When Parasite Dolls was released in 2003, the R&B and J-pop singer had two moderately successful albums notched on her belt. Both were released by Kay’s longtime label Epic Records, the label that licensed "Get On the Beat" and "Off" to the Parasite Dolls soundtrack.

That same year in Japan, Kay charted her first hit album with Almost Seventeen. But it would still be a few more years before her chart topping reach extended to the eardrums of J-pop fans outside Japan–Perhaps another factor that contributes to the astounding lack of recognition of Kay's vocals on the Parasite Dolls soundtrack.

As was apparent at the time, the OVA that inspired Kazushi Miyakoda's compositions, including those with Kay, were not intended for the 'Fullmetal Alchemist' generation. But today, seeing as how this very mature J-pop star is now 'Almost Thirty', it's well past time to clue in the CK fans about these hidden gems in Crystal Kay's discography.

J-pop music bloggers may also want to consider including the "Get On the Beat/Off" CD single as a soundtrack-related addendum to their CK music lists.

But maybe after treating themselves to repeat listens first.


1.08.2016

'Godzilla vs. Pooter: A Tribute to American International Pictures' in G-Fan #110 (Nov 2015)


My Cooley High/blaxploitation-infused article "Godzilla vs. Pooter: A Tribute to American International Pictures" was featured in issue #110 of G-Fan magazine (which boasts a gorgeous cover painting by artist Bob Eggleton). If you're lucky, you may still be able to snag a minty fresh copy from your local comic book shop. If not, the ever reliable Oldies.com still has 'em in stock. Updated: You can also order your copy direct from the publisher who, amazingly, offers cheaper shipping rates than Oldies.com–even with it comin' from Canada.