Hiero Day 2013

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Adrian Younge & Venice Dawn are proud be welcomed as part of this years Hiero Day Festival in Oakland, California, taking place this Monday, September 2nd at the Linden Street Brewery…

“‘Hieroglyphics Imperium are teaming up with Oakland-based Linden Street Brewery to present the Second Annual Hiero Day block party on Monday, September 2, 2013 (Labor Day) from 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. at the Linden Street Brewery, located at the Port of Oakland.'”

‘Hiero Day is a free all day music festival that features live performances by the legendary Hieroglyphics and other special guests, local merchandise vendors, food trucks, and interactive activities for all ages. Hiero Day celebrates and showcases the Bay Area’s diverse, innovative, multicultural, and multigenerational music movement in the heart of Oakland.’ – Audible Treats

- See more at: http://www.hieroday.com/#sthash.HSFBMqAZ.dpuf

Adrian Younge Presents Souls of Mischief

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Coming this September, from Soul Temple Records – the same company behind the production of “Twelve Reasons To Die” – comes a new concept album from the minds of Adrian Younge & Souls of Mischief entitled “There Is Only Now…”

Take a look at the album cover artwork, and stay tuned to this website for updates on the release of this new album.

Jay-Z Samples Adrian Younge & Venice Dawn for “Magna Carta… Holy Grail”

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We are very proud to announce that producers Timbaland & J-Roc have sampled two tracks from the 2012 Wax Poetics release Something About April for Jay-Z’s latest album, Magna Carta… Holy Grail. If you haven’t been caught up in the avalanche of marketing for the album provided courtesy of Samsung, Roc-A-Fella, Roc Nation, and Universal, we’ve went ahead and provided the streaming links to the tracks from MCHG, as well as the sample sources from Adrian Younge & Venice Dawn.

Purchase Magna Carta… Holy Grail here.

Purchase Something About April here, available on digital, CD, and vinyl formats.

“Heaven” by Jay-Z, Magna Carta… Holy Grail.

sample source:

“Reverie” by Adrian Younge, Something About April.

“Picasso Baby” by Jay-Z, Magna Carta… Holy Grail.

sample source:

“Sirens” by Adrian Younge, Something About April.

Adrian Younge x William Hart – “Enemies” (DJ Rhettmatic Remix)

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Adrian Younge and William Hart‘s Wu-ready single “Enemies” returns with a bit of a makeover thanks to DJ Rhettmatic, who delivers a ballsy take on the original. The remix retains the dirty sound, deep bass and dragging bpm provided by Adrian Younge and infuses the track with a bit of corner-creeping gangster thump – the kind of sound that goes perfectly with William Hart’s haunting falsetto. A few adlibs from Snoop and suddenly you have a heater on your hands that is likely to test the bottom floor of any good system, provided you’re inclined to blast this in your whip. The original recording of “Enemies” already pulls twice it’s weight as a clear standout on Adrian Younge’s‘Delfonics release and a sample source for Ghostface’s Twelve Reasons To Die. It would be pretty intriguing to hear Ghost spit over Rhettmatic’s take on the track. Check DJ Rhettmatic’s remix of Adrian Younge & William Hart’s “Enemies” below. PurchaseAdrian Younge Presents The Delfonics via iTunes.

Download Dj Rhettmatic’s remix here.

Twelve Reasons To Die Tour, Gramercy Theater NYC (2013)

venicedawn-81On May 13th, 2013, Adrian Younge, Venice Dawn, and Ghostface Killah (along with Killah Priest of Sunz of Man), brought the “Twelve Reasons To Die” Tour, now referred to by some as a faux Hip-Hopera, to the Gramercy Theater in New York City. For some, this definitely was one of the highlights of the two and a half month long tour (which began earlier in the year in Austin for SXSW). Both Ghostface & Adrian pulled out all the stops in order to showcase as best they could for the leading man’s appearance in his home town. The band opened up with an energetic 25 minute long set, introducing the sold out crowd to just what it was that the entity known as Venice Dawn was all about, and creating a segue into the material from the Twelve Reasons To Die album, which Younge described at the beginning of the show as a “journey” to which would end up in 1960’s Italy for the tale of Twelve Reasons To Die. The duo provided the addition of tracks like “Triumph” & “Impossible” (off of Wu-Tang Forever), as well as cuts from the recent Wu-Block LP, and supplied a long list of unannouced, extremely special guests artists which included none other than the appearance of the Abbot himself, the RZA. The group started off with tracks from the 2009 blaxploitation comedy, Black Dynamite, and quickly railroaded their way into tracks from 2012’s Wax Poetics release Something About April, plus instrumental cuts like “1969 Organ” off of 2000’s out of print LP Soundtrack to Venice Dawn. Below are two videos of the group in action as they opened the show before they unvieled the body of work that made up the Twelve Reasons To Die performance…

One of the first guests to make a surprise appearance on stage with the group was Masta Killa from the Wu-Tang Clan, who made his presence known on stage mere moments before his verse on “I Declare War” came up on the rotation. Bass player C.E. Garcia tells his account of the moment that he realized what was about to transpire: “One thing we have on stage is communication, whether it be visual or hand signals. I remember looking over at the edge of the stage and seeing Masta Killa edging his way up the steps and couldn’t believe what was about to go down. We were wearing (white) masks on our faces at this point, so I couldn’t really say anything; all I could do was motion over. I looked over at (flute player) Alfredo Fratti and gave him a head-nod like here we go… And that’s exactly what we did…”

The second special guest to share the stage with Adrian Younge & Ghostface that night was none other than William Hart of the legendary Philly soul group The Delfonics. Both William & Adrian had just recently completed an album on Wax Poetics Records called Adrian Younge Presents The Delfonics, and one of the tracks off that album made its way onto Twelve Reasons To Die as well, so it only seemed fitting that all three of the gentlemen should, at some point, take the stage together. And what better stage than in New York City.

photo courtesy of SeanJamar.com

photo courtesy of SeanJamar.com

photo courtesy of SeanJamar.com

photo courtesy of SeanJamar.com

Featured below is video of the live performance from the Gramercy Theater of the song titled “Enemies All Around Me” which appeared on both albums from Adrian Younge.

The appearance of the RZA, was also unplanned, and just as he did at the groups show at The Mayan Theater in Los Angeles, he stormed the stage to join his fellow Wu-Tang Clan member(s) to perform a few impromptu verses from songs from the band’s catalogue, including a freestyle rap to help hype the crowd as they neared the end of the hour and a half long set.

photo courtesy of SeanJamar.com

photo courtesy of SeanJamar.com

The RZA has been instrumental in the creation of the Twelve Reasons To Die record, and served as executive producer on the album as well. His enthusiastic support of the group while onstage in NYC helped fire the crowd up even further than they already were as the group neared the section of the Hip-Hopera where the Tony Starks character is murdered, and Adrian Younge asks for the audience’s assistance to help resurrect the man back to life in order to complete the end of the show. The first single from Twelve Reasons To Die was entitled “The Rise of the Ghostface Killah” — and featured here is the live performance of that song, complete with disciplines and all…

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“Cherchez La Ghost” quickly became a crowd pleaser, as well as the eruption of “Mighty Healthy” — at this particular performance, flute player & guitarist Alfredo Fratti played guitar on Ghostface’s back for a few moments before letting him whale away on his Gibson while he tweaked the effects pedal board from a few feet away. As you can tell by the crowds reaction, and the shear energy of the band, the act was well recieved:

The following are highlights from the Gramercy Theater show, shot by Sean Jamar of SeanJamar.com — Sean has been a long time collaborator with Venice Dawn, and has taken many wonderful shots of the group through the years. Special thanks to him, and all that were involved in bringing this show into existence and making it as enjoyable for the band and Ghostface & company as it was for the audience, as well as to all of those that took the time to document this event…

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The Rza and Adrian Younge are Supreme Mutant Beings by Wilbert L. Cooper

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The following article and interview was conducted by Wilbert L. Cooper, and originally appears at Vice.com; enjoy and gain some insight into the collaboration between the RZA, Adrian Younge, Ghostface Killah, as well as the team responsible for bringing the 12 Reasons To Die comic book to life…

One of the high points in my career as a journalist happened back in January, when I had the honor of chewing the fat with my hero and Wu-Tang Clan mastermind, the RZA. We were supposed to talk about a new Ghostface Killah album, featuring production from his protégé Adrian Younge, that RZA had executive produced and was going to drop on his then newly launched Soul Temple label. However, I hadn’t heard the album yet. And I had only found out I was slated to conduct the interview a few hours before I had to show up, which I did out of breath and a little bugged out. I was also woefully underprepared—I even forgot to bring a camera, so I couldn’t get a picture with Mr. Bobby Digital, something my entire family is still pissed at me about months later. Luckily, I did have my recorder, which was good. And I’m pretty sure I didn’t smell, despite having sprinted to the interview in what felt like a coat made of whale blubber on a peculiarly warm day for the dead of winter.

The album we talked about, which I finally got a chance to listen to and love a month ago, is called Twelve Reasons to Die. It hit the streets at the end of April and features Ghostface spitting a fictional narrative that falls somewhere between The Candy Man and The Crow. You should really listen to the record for yourself, but basically it details how a black gangster named Tony Starks, who works for the Italian mob, becomes the Ghostface Killah, a phantom assassin who avenges his death every time a mysterious vinyl record is played. As would be expected, Ghost’s rhymes are flawless, pulling you into a world where wronged gangsters can come back from the grave. But what’s most surprising about the record is the production, which Adrian Younge laced with live instrumentation and throwback techniques. The beats sound like Sergio Leone scores and Delfonics ballads—the latter makes plenty of sense considering the standout track “Enemies All Around Me” features William Hart of the famed Philly soul group.

I would’ve dropped this impromtu interview with RZA and Adrian a lot sooner, but I was hoping to get another chance to connect with RZA and possibly Ghost after I had time to digest the album and add a perspective with some hindsight. I’m still waiting on that one, if only so I can snag a picture of myself with RZA or Ghost throwing up the W and make my father proud. (Wu-Tang, for retired dads living in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, really is forever.)

So here is an old interview with a rap legend and a rising hip-hop star that is still definitely worth reading a few months after it was conducted, especially if you’re like me and you eat, sleep, and breath all things Shaolin. We talked about the collaborative process for Twelve Reasons to Die, what it’s like working with Ghost, and how the Wu-Tang Clan are actually mutants.

VICE: So, Adrian, just to start off, how did you come up with the concept of Twelve Reasons to Die?
Adrian Younge: Initially, Bob Perry, co-owner of Soul Temple with RZA, hit me up to ask me if I’d like to do a Wu-Tang project. I’ve always composed from the RZA perspective. My concept was always, what would RZA do if he was a producer in the late 60s? So, when he hit me up about doing that project, I was like, OK, this is too good to be true. Then he hit me up a few weeks later and I was like, “Yo, you’re serious? All right. Then we have to figure out a concept to make this important to people.”

Why make a concept record?
Adrian:
Whenever I’m creating, I ask myself why anyone should care. I figured if we came together and did something that was based on a story, it could turn into something more massive. I thought about it every day for a couple weeks and the story hit me. I planted the seed and the people around me helped to nurture the concept.

RZA: The concept is what attracted me to the project. I like to think conceptually when I make my music. When I see somebody producing in that same vein, I invest in that. You see a guy like Adrian, and you know that he has a future ahead of him.

Was there a moment in the process when you said, “Whoa, Ghostface is really putting his all into this?”
Adrian:
I’m a hip-hop dude, but I generally say that I left hip-hop in ’97. To me, at that time, it was making a shift I didn’t feel. I’m somebody who’s been trying to find a hip-hop album that gives me the same feeling the music did in ’97. To finally hear it and to have been the one to produce it is incredible. Ghost exceeded my expectations, and I always expected him to come with it. That, in turn, inspired me to do more and make it even better.

Adrian records a lot on analog equipment. What do you think about that in terms of not sampling, but using organic instruments to create sounds that are reminiscent of samples?
RZA:
Hip-hop started off from sampling certain parts of old records. The musicians who were making those old records weren’t coming from the hip-hop perspective. Now you have a new generation of people who’ve grown up on hip-hop, whether it was Wu-Tang or G-Funk or whatever. And they’re musicians, but they’re able to think in a hip-hop way. It’s great to see.

Has working with traditional musicians like Adrian showed you anything about yourself?
RZA: I noticed the stuff I sample on every album has an A-minor progression. That’s just what my ear is attracted to. I didn’t know it was an A-minor when I did it. But now now that we’ve got a producer like Adrian who is a musician, we can really attain the spirit that we want. And having all that old equipment is great. This guy is sitting on a lot of old toys. The only other people I’ve seen with that many old toys in the studio are the Black Keys. He’s able to create a sound that made those old records. I think it’s great for hip-hop.

Some might argue that what Adrian does isn’t hip-hop at all.
RZA: People think if we take the rappers off of a record, it won’t be hip-hop anymore. But I disagree with that. Say this was just an instrumental. You’re going to hear that soul you’re looking for. If we come back to a generation of people who don’t become musicians because they’re using their Logics and their Abletons and they don’t get that musician part in life, they’ll use this record as their sample base. It will come full circle.

That’s an exciting thought.
RZA: Yeah, as a musician myself, it’s fun to see a someone who can execute those ideas so I don’t have to. It’s a big relief to me. It’s like being a great dancer and wanting to see someone do the most incredible spin that you were always working on, just because you want the world to see it too. You get to a point in life when you aren’t break-dancing anymore, you’re choreographing dancers in movies. But you see a young guy come and he does that fucking Triple Lindy that you dreamed about. That’s how I feel right now.

Photo courtesy of Michael Thomas, http://www.miketphotog.com

Photo courtesy of Michael Thomas, http://www.miketphotog.com

Adrian, as a hip-hop fan, why not sample?
Adrian:
Hip-hop was started on the break. It’s about finding those breaks and those chords. I stopped sampling because my brain was going further than the chords. When RZA was doing his thing, he was finding all the ill breaks and creating weird changes that were syncopated and made sense. Now, I can make the entire sample myself and evolve it.

RZA: Right. And not just on the drum, but the music on top of the drum.

Adrian: Quincy Jones said that hip-hop mastered the drums. When I’m recording these drums, I record them as if they were made from the SP using different snares and different mics and different setups on the same songs. But it’s still all live. This process is pushing the musical and compositional component of a subculture and style of music that is dear to me.

Can you really go any further than where hip-hop has already been?
Adrian: Every generation declines. Hip-hop got to a point where it was getting better and better and it hit a pinnacle. Then it started to drop because it was getting into pop and becoming more of a dance thing. This record is something that takes it back to that passionate core.

You guys come from different generations of hip-hop. Was there something you learned from this experience that you didn’t know before the process?
Adrian:
One of things I’ve done with music is study why musicians are the best. When I got a chance to meet RZA, I’d ask him some of those questions. But I already had the answers for what I thought he did. Sometimes I was right, sometimes I was wrong and my mind was blown. It’s like he was helping me to sculpt my future and mold my thought process when it came to finalizing shit. He’s had 20 years of experience with this. I have not. I’ve learned a lot just by upping my game.

RZA: For me, making music has been a lot about searching—searching for the right sample to get that bell, searching for a digital keyboard that can play certain sounds. But to go back to his studio and to see all the analog equipment that made those sounds, I learned that if you want a bell then buy a damn bell. You’ve got a fucking mic. I work with a digital orchestra and I enjoy it. It has its benefits. But if you want organic sounds, 90 percent of the time a computer isn’t going to generate that. Trying to make all this music with the older equipment showed me you can stick to the organic way. You don’t have to change because the equipment changed. You can still use that same old shit. You can still go down and get the same musicians. I knew that, but I forgot it, and Adrian reminded me.

You’ve been working with Ghostface for a long time. In terms of this project, did you see anything different come out in him as an MC?
RZA:
Ghost is a dope MC—one of the dopest to ever touch the mic. But on this particular record, he reminded us that Ghost can get into any water and swim well. He killed it on the Kanye record. He killed it on the Wu-Block record. But on this one here, he kept a cohesive narrative. I don’t think he’s done that since Supreme Clientele. Even Supreme Clientele somewhere in the middle doesn’t hold the narrative. Cuban Linx was the first time a story was really kept all the way. It was Tony Starks and Lou Diamond and they were there all the way through. This is a return for him to a complete narrative from front to back… I’m going to give a quote about Ghostface that Quentin [Tarantino] said to me, “Two of the greatest writers in American music history are Bob Dylan and Ghostface Killah.”

Growing up listening to Wu-Tang as a young kid, I always looked at the different members of Wu-Tang as almost like comic-book characters. You all had such larger than life personas. Do you ever intend to tell the origin stories of other Wu characters you’ve helped create inside this universe?
RZA: As far as Wu and comic ideas, I’ve written something called Black Shampoo. In it, everybody’s a superhero and it touches on their own personalities. For example, everyone knows Meth is a weed smoker. In this story, some guys come and confront him at a table. They’re going to kill him. They’ve got guns pointed under the table. And he’s sitting there smoking this big blunt. The blunt flies across the table and knocks the guys back. That’s my imagination on how super he could be. Wu has always been something that’s real, but we always had this superhero idea about ourselves. That comes from when you you feel that you have the proper position in the world to be a supreme being. Or, instead of the supreme being, because there’s only one, the ability to be supreme amongst other beings. There’s a small part of me that says, “You know what, motherfuckers? We are mutants.” Think about it, Meth has smoked for 30 years straight and never been to the doctor for anything. Iron lungs, right? He must have iron lungs. Ghostface really has a ghost face. It’s hard to find him. It’s like he disappears.

What was it like actually turning this album into a comic book?
RZA: The trick that a writer needs to understand is, when you’re dealing with hip-hop, you’re dealing with concentrated language. It’s like concentrated orange juice. You have to add cups of water to it. If I say, “Camouflage chameleon / ninja scaling your building / no time to grab the gun / they’ve already got your wife and children” within two lines, all this shit has happened already. To make this a story, they have to stretch that out to a ten-minute scene. That’s one of the secrets of writing from listening to hip-hop and hearing the story and being able to extract it out. But the writers were good. I like what they did. They took the story and instead of making it from just one point of view, they did something cinematic with it. They made it a parallel story.

Your music’s always been described as cinematic. Has the process of working on The Man with the Iron Fists changed your process in general?
RZA: It has impacted everything. That was like the final education. It was definitely a college-graduation thing for me. I have my PhD in art right now, thanks to that experience. But the final, ultimate test is, can you beat death? So far, nobody has beaten the ultimate test. That’s a test for your ass. But doing a movie definitely comes close.

RZA, any advice you want to give to MCs and producers out there who want to be the next RZA or Adrian Younge?
RZA: There’s no limit to artistic expression. You just have to find that wavelength and ride that wave all the way to the shore.

Thanks, Adrian Younge and Ruler Zig-Zag-Zig Allah!

Buy Twelve Reasons to Die the album and the comic.

@WilbertLCooper

The Needle Drop Reviews “12 Reasons To Die” Tour In New Haven, CT.

Popular YouTube internet reviewer Anthony Fantano of “TheNeedleDrop,” paid a visit to the performance of the 12 Reasons To Die tour while it landed in New Haven, CT. a few short weeks ago on Friday, May 10th. Fantano articulately describes his experience at the show, and dissects the overall delivery and mood of the performance from the band and Ghostface Killah (along with Killah Priest) as a whole.  Take a look at his review of the show, as well as some of the footage that he was able to film while catching the act, as well as some of the stills he was able to shoot, featured below.

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Click here to view his entire gallery of photos from the show.

This is his review of the 12 Reasons To Die album released a few weeks ago: