Category: RZA

Lauryn Hill, Nas, Cypress Hill, Black Star, Mobb Deep to perform classic albums at Rock the Bells 2011


Traveling hip-hop festival Rock the Bells is taking a page out of the genre’s history books by focusing on a set of game-changing albums for this year's showcase.

Though still relatively downsized from lineups of the past, a who’s who of rap royalty, including Lauryn Hill, Nas, Cypress Hill, Mos Def and Talib Kweli, Mobb Deep, Raekwon and Ghostface and the GZA, headline the bill for the eighth year of the multi-city festival that begins Aug. 20 at San Bernardino’s San Manuel Amphitheater.

Continuing last year’s move to highlight influential albums, this year’s batch of headliners will take on entire sets from the albums that made them respected giants in the game: Hill performs “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” Nas tackles “Illmatic,” Cypress Hill will do “Black Sunday,” and fans pining for Mos Def and Talib Kweli to reunite as Black Star will be rewarded as they performs their 1998 self-titled debut album.

At a launch party for the concert at House of Blues on Tuesday night, the excitement from eager reporters was matched by the batch of performers who assembled onstage for the announcement.

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Twelve L.A. indie labels you should know: a primer


A consensus seems to be growing that Los Angeles is in the midst of a renaissance for independent music. In a recent Sunday feature, we set out to discover just how it is that while the major labels continue to suffer layoffs and severe sales losses, this city’s scrappy, savvy, taste-driven indie imprints have, in fact, been thriving. As a corollary to that, we’ve spoken to and profiled 12 of L.A.’s most active young labels, from artist-owned black metal powerhouse Southern Lord to chart-climbing indie rock outlet Danger Bird to progressive hip-hop imprint Anticon. Here’s hoping they’ll all end up in a GZA song some day.

Sargent House (Echo Park)
Longtime talent manager Cathy Pellow started Sargent House in 2006 with one artist: Seal Beach prog-punk band Rx Bandits, who were ready to call it quits after selling around 150,000 records through MCA/Geffen and, according to Pellow, "never seeing a penny." Today, her stable comprises "a middle class of awesome musicians," also proggily inclined, able to live off their earnings. She also manages a sister label co-run by the Mars Volta’s Omar Rodriguez Lopez.

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Wu-Tang Clan's 'The Swarm' festival comes to the Downtown Independent on Saturday

Image002 If you ask a certain subset of American male, aged 25-35, about the mythology of the Wu-Tang Clan, you're apt to get an answer as thorough as a history professor waxing poetic about the American Revolution.

After all, like George Washington at Valley Forge, the RZA was able to lead his clan out of the cold weather of Shaolin (Staten Island), shared a love of the initial "W" and could be aptly described as "first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen."

So it's little surprise that the painting above, commissioned by WAIL (When Art Imitates Life) would riff on Emanuel Leutze's famous portrait of George Washington crossing the Delaware. Depicting RZA, GZA, and Ol' Dirty Bastard in colonial regalia, the painting will be displayed at this Saturday's "The Swarm" film and art festival. Held at the Downtown Independent Theater from 3 p.m. until 2 a.m., the daylong celebration of the Wu will also include a screening of the ODB documentary, "Dirty," and performances from Wu-Tang satellite groups Black Knights and Birds of Prey (West Coast Killa Bees).

According to WAIL, "the painting, 'Victory Or Death,' comes in two collections. Prints in the 300-edition Legacy Series measure 40” x 30”, and all carry RZA’s signature and handprints, applied in acrylic paint. All are numbered and signed in order of generation, and each come with a RZA image disc and authenticity placard. The 60 pieces in the Monument Series come with all the features of the Legacy, but the pieces contain a total of 50 hidden elements to the Legacy’s 36. Moreover, the Monument clocks in at two times the size – a whopping 80 x 60."

For those downtown residents seeking piece and quiet this Saturday, they might be well served to protect their necks and prepare for the swarm.

-- Jeff Weiss


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