Posted tagged ‘manhattan’


January 25, 2011

As we’ve said so far during Chaz’s Arbitrary Top Ten List Extravaganza, 2010 was a pretty fantastic year for music. But many were shocked to find out last year that music actually existed outside of the internet! These music exhibitions, otherwise known as concerts, are mostly held so greedy old people can bleed other old people for cash. However, there were more than a handful of performances that were not only outstanding works of art, but ranks among my favorite moments of the year. So now join me and some grainy iPhone footage as we look back on the five best live acts I saw in 2010!

I liked the part when they did songs!

5) HOMEBOY SANDMAN (June 1st , S.O.B.’s)

Kicking off the summer right was Homeboy Sandman’s record release show at S.O.B.’s. Not only was everybody who’s anybody in New York Hip-Hop there, but at least half of the audience were real life warm-blooded supporters not afraid to have a great time. With easily hundreds of fans and friends there to celebrate the rise of The Good Sun, it was just as powerful to see Sandman make his way around the room and treat every person in attendance like the most important person there. But this is all secondary to an amazing career-spanning performance that featured as many new favorites as underground anthems the usually-fickle Manhattan crowd was happy to chant right along with. The clip above was my favorite moment of the show when I was (to my surprise) invited on-stage along with Kosha Dillz for a freestyle over Guns ‘n’ Roses’ “Sweet Child of Mine.”

4) SAGE FRANCIS (June 25th, Webster Hall)

But as June began with the end of one career’s beginning, it ended with another’s touring career’s end. Longtime favorite of mine, Sage Francis set the final performance of his Li(f)e tour to be at New York’s Webster Hall, and it was bittersweet to be there for that last hurrah. Backed by Free Moral Agents with songs spanning from 1997 (shockingly breaking out his reinterpretation of A Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick It” from his days fronting AOI) through his entire discography and closing with “The Best of Times,” it was a great goodbye to one of the most reliable live performers in the genre as he passed the torch to labelmate B.Dolan.

3) PACE WON (September 3rd, FatBeats) / RAH DIGGA (October 21st, Sullivan Hall)

I’ve probably listened to The Outsidaz’s Night Life EP more than any other CD in my collection, but they sadly dissolved when I was 15 so I was never able to see them. It was great to fulfill a decade’s desire to finally see two of the Outsidaz family live. As unfortunate as it was to see FatBeats closing, it gave us a great week of performances, the best of which was Pace Won. Performing a dream setlist of his most known singles and Outsidaz verses, along with plenty of anecdotes in between, it was a great goodbye to the Home of New York Hip-Hop. On a much happier note, Rah Digga’s performance was the highlight of CMJ. While she also ran through her most known singles and even a medley of her posse cut verses, her set ran the gauntlet of emotions as she seamlessly wove in her new material to an absolutely captivated New York crowd.

2) THE TOILET BOYS (June 14th, Le Poisson Rouge)

During my “Punk Rawk” High School years, there was no band I wanted to see live more than the Toilet Boys. Introduced to me by their ties to Troma Studios, I was never given the chance to see the fire-breathing glam rockers live as the Great White incident pretty much ensured they would never get booked again. So imagine my surprise when longtime friend and homie Ray Willis called me on a Monday afternoon to tell me that not only were the Toilet Boys having a surprise “dress rehearsal” reunion show THAT NIGHT, but it was FREE. At a price that fit my budget perfectly, I attended and felt myself step right back into 2002. The jam was awesome. The crowd roared like a lion. It really whipped a hyena’s ass. PLUS, I caught a t-shirt. What more could you want?

1) PRINCE (December 18th, Madison Square Garden)

Not unlike Mortal Kombat II, nothing in the world could have prepared me for this. As a child of the Twin Cities, I’ve grown up with the mythology of Prince as far back as I can remember. Of course, seeing the Purple One in our shared homestate is a near-impossibility and, even then, the setlists have reportedly been mostly new material. When he announced the Coming 2 America tour, I had to see it. Absolutely spellbinding. Words cannot express what a show this was, but this setlist might help make you understand. He gave it all and we took every bit of it. A great end to a great year.

He's writing about me!

So until next time…let’s agree to agree!

R.I.P. Fatbeats (J.I.L.S.)

August 25, 2010

The Last Stop for Hip-Hop

As you’ve probably noticed, there was only one update to our site last week. That’s because I’ve honestly been dreading having to write the following post. Continuing our series of Journeys in Liquidation Sales, it’s my sad duty to cover the closing of a very specific beloved hangout and record store known as Fatbeats. I have a lot of emotional investment in this place, so please pardon any diverting from our standard Popular Path.

On September 4th, 2010, the world famous record store FatBeats will close its door for the last time and Hip-Hop will have lost another Mecca. Granted, Hip-Hop is a youth culture whose consistant vibrancy has always come from new kids always doing something completely different from those who came before them, but FatBeats held the distinction of being one of the few locations that would acknowledge the past by looking to the future through the spectrum of a genuine love for the culture. With the ceiling covered with authentic first-run promotional posters of classic albums, the walls lined with classic and current vinyl releases and a special section devoted to autographed promo 8 X 10 of rap’s most celebrated icons and beloved unsung heroes, it was something of a living museum of rap music. The closest thing we have ever had to a Hip-Hop Hall of Fame, it became everything from a tourist destination to a regular hangout for just about everyone that passed through its doors.

Part of me still can't believed this happened. The instore, not the broken nose.

Many are citing its closing as a “sign of the times” and playing all sorts of blame games from the most prevalent “nobody’s supporting record stores” sentiment, to the bitter few complaining FatBeats “didn’t support independent artists.” The latter is a complete and utter fabrication as FatBeats carried plenty of local/underground Hip-Hop, but I’ll get into that in a bit. Most importantly, I want to address the former, and if you take nothing else from the rest of this article or don’t want to hear someone lament the loss of a place that meant a lot to them, please take the next paragraph as the definition of what FatBeats meant.

I moved to New York in August, 2004 where I lived in Washington Square Park. A Sam Goody has just closed, but there were 19 other music stores within a ten minute walk of where I lived including a Tower Records, a Virgin Megastore, a FYE and countless Mom-and-Pops. Six years later, FatBeats has outlived ALL but ONE. Now, think of these large record stores with billion-dollar conglomerates behind them who couldn’t stay afloat in the highest-priced rent area of the most expensive city in the country and realize that this comparatively hole-in-the-wall store that ignored what was popular to ONLY CARRY MUSIC THEY LIKED outlived ALL OF THEM by AT LEAST A YEAR. If that isn’t a sign of unbelievable support from a community, I don’t know what is. They followed an insane business model, which was to follow their hearts, and not only did it work, but it made them the last man standing. As sad as it is that all things must come to an end, the Last Stop for Hip-Hop is going out with the honor and respect that it deserves.

Now, if I may switch things up a bit, I’m going to spend the rest of this post sharing some of my favorite FatBeats memories, in chronological order.

– As I mentioned earlier, I first moved to New York in August, 2004. I moved here for school* and had my first day at NYU on September 7th. That evening, immediately after class, I set foot into FatBeats for the first time for a Rob Sonic instore. It was the release of his album Telicatessen at the height of my 18-year-old indie-rap fandom. Seeing how many artists I had spent so many years listening to back in Minnesota just casually walking through the front door and sharing the same breathing room blew my mind. Not only did I get to meet many of my heroes, I got to know many of the local rap enthusiasts and other NYU students that, to this day, became some of my closest friends. This is also where I met NYC favorite Creature who considered Fatbeats’ storefront his “office” as he educated me on everything there is to know about the scene.

Oh, hi me!

– Soon Fatbeats became the both my hangout as well as the place I would show whenever I would walk near it with anyone. I remember pointing it out during a first date with a girl on Valentine’s Day that year at a pizza place within eyeshot of it, describing it as “a hangout.” She said “It’s a record store, what do you do there?” “You know…rap things.” Those rap things would include two months later when I got to freestyle over an original Evil Dee beat at a Beatminerz instore. There’s somethings you don’t expect to do as an 18-year-old from Minnesota, and that one was pretty high on the list but FatBeats made it a reality.

– Unlike other record stores, Fatbeats didn’t really have a stage or artist area so in-store performances took place right in the middle of the store, allowing for a real one-on-one interaction with artists you really couldn’t get anywhere else. Over the years I got to watch ToneDef autograph my copy of his album by un-ironically filling up the entire cover art with his five-step plan/instructions for how Hip-Hop is to be evaluated and elevated over the next decade, hear first-hand about X-Clan’s Brother J’s admiration of the Kottonmouth Kings, see Brother Ali’s face light-up with the news his album was debuting on the Billboard 200 at #69, enjoy stories from Evil Dee about what a bitch it was to clear samples from overseas artists, pass along a message to Sean Price from the security guard at my dorm that referenced very specific people from the Brownsville project he grew up in, Pack FM demand that I leave the store for referring to a shot he took at Ja Rule’s ‘Blood in My Eye’ album as “disrespecting the g.o.a.t.,” witness C-Rayz Walz give an entire radio interview over the phone with his answers in the form of freestyle rhymes, have one-time Fatbeats staple Percee-P give me his phone number “in the event I ever become a blogger or music journalist and want to do an interview,” out-of-towners Zion-I being unintentionally super-early for their instore by getting there on time, and countless others that either are skipping my mind or that I could never print. (ask me sometime)

– But what I’ll most remember FatBeats for was when I had an instore there. Like I mentioned earlier, there’s a smattering of belly-aching from a few in the scene who think that because FatBeats never stocked them or their boys that they never supported independent artists. Truthfully, it’s because Fatbeats had pretty high standards and through its 16-year existence, you only really made it in the indieground when Fatbeats carried you. It took me three releases until they finally stocked me, and my instore on April 30th, 2008 I’ll always remember as one of the proudest moments of my life. I came to New York four-years prior with no friends, worked really hard and had finally achieved a lifelong dream. The turnout was the third-biggest of that year (only behind Q-Tip and Immortal Technique) and really felt like a graduation or a validation of what I had done over the past decade.

A very good feeling.

So thanks FatBeats for being the perfect idealized record store.

We give FatBeats a Five Out of Five

So until next time…let’s agree to agree!

*and stayed for the pie.

Jimmy’s No. 43’s Evening of Bacon, Chocolate, Cheese and Beer – Food Review

May 26, 2010

Photo courtesy NYMag, used without permission.

I’ve been in living in New York City, New York for almost six years now. During this time not only have I aged chronologically, but I’ve developed the types of tastes for things one has after trying a whole bunch of them. Since my 21st birthday in 2007, my favorite bar in the city and corresponding whole world has been Jimmy’s No. 43. Located on 7th street between 2nd and 3rd Ave in the island of Manhattan, Jimmy’s offers the city’s best beer selection in generous goblets at affordable prices. It’s always been the first place I suggest people check out when they come to the city, and it’s become the first place they mention on every return visit. When people tell me that they aren’t a “beer person,” I assert that they just haven’t had what’s commonly referred to as “good beer” and thus haven’t found the right one. Jimmy’s is where your proper beer type can be found. With such a history of being the best at what they do, imagine my delight when I was offered a chance to take part in their Bacon, Chocolate, Cheese and Beer Festival. Finally, I was going to have the same discerning taste from Jimmy’s beer selecting the best from the other three food groups. As you can imagine, this was all kinds of awesome.

Along with boasting beers brought by Brian Ewing of Twelve Percent Imports and Chocolates by Rhonda Kave of Roni-Sue’s, the evening was co-hosted by some of the foremost experts on these four building blocks of life. Handling the beer, chocolate and cheese side of things were NYCDAT members and world-reknown beer experts Mary Izett and Chris Cuzme. Both have judged countless beer competitions around the world and really know how to simultaneously entertain and educate even with the distraction of flavor perfection in front of us. Also hosting was meat mastermind and star of the Mr. Cutlets Show Josh Ozersky. Ridiculously charismatic, his bacon communication skills made each course especially galvanizing to the point where the vegetarian who accompanied me dropped her years-long meatless streak in the name (and taste) of the bacon excellence. Mr. Ozersky is the David Koresh of Cold Cuts and in one night made me feel like I had a BA in Baconology*.

The Four Elements of Awesome

Beginning the night was an explanation of what makes beer, bacon, chocolate and cheese great. Seeing as most of us would merely answer that question with “they’re awesome,” the hosts laid the basics out to understand what to look for and appreciate exactly what makes them so “awesome,” which was awesome. We started with the basic, familiar non-threatening Oscar Mayer Hearty Thick Cut. The Talib Kweli of bacons, it acted as a great control to test the variable bacons (variabacons?) over the course of the evening. Chasing it with the Detroit’s delightful Atwater Maibock beer (ABV 7%) it cleansed our pallets and set them up for more increasingly-perfect perfections. I know that may read like grammatically incorrect hyperbole, but this was a night of sampling the best examples of the best things in the world. It was the Met, the MoMa, the Guggenheim and Wrestlemania all rolled into one, converted to food form, and spread over the course of one enchanted evening.

Having been in New York for so many years (the majority of which I was a vegetarian) it was a nice surprise to revisit Iowa’s Vande Rose Farms Applewood Smoked Bacon. A midwest staple, the news of them recently going national should ring an alarm for anyone even remotely interested in waking up to a delectable “edible animal**.” This arrived with the first cheese of the night, France’s Saint-Andre Triple Cream and the Toria Tripel (8.5%). Each course was matched together exquisitely with beer, bacon, chocolate and cheese the complimented each other flawlessly. I awoke that morning not expecting to learn that traditionally the best bacon comes from a pig’s jowls, but after having Burgers’ Smokehouse Country Pork Jowl Bacon with Farmhouse Cheddar and Jevel Pilsener, I’m not only agreeing to agree but full blown testifying.

My favorite pairing of the night was Benton’s Smoky Country Hams Hickory Bacon (Tennessee) with Roni-Sue Chocolates’ Portly Fig Truffle and Hopfenstark LouLou Porter. The richness in all three was an amazing cornucopia to savor. After six wonderful combinations, the night came to a close and between the hosts, the atmosphere and the wonderful edibles, Jimmy’s has continued its standard of greatness through three more mediums. While I always recommend the intelligent unpretentious atmosphere (where else in New York can you affordably get the finest beers and enjoy them surrounded by wonderfully mediocre crayon drawings of elks while listening to Outkast’s ATLiens?) to everyone I can, this evening of Bacon, Chocolate, Cheese and Beer was truly something special. They announced plans to make this a monthly event, and I’d HIGHLY suggest you do what you can to be there.

We give Jimmy’s No. 43’s Evening of Bacon, Chocolate, Cheese and Beer a Five Out of Five

So until next time…let’s agree to agree!

*Something I would have majored in had I gone to NYU’s Galletin School of Individualized Study. Alas, the closest Tisch had was Cinema Studies.

**Josh’s words that I had to reuse. FUN FACT: This is what’s known as a “quote!”