Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Last night I snuck into a screening on the Universal lot to get a sneak peek of what I am sure will ultimately become historic at the box office. Like for many people here in Southern Cali, this movie is highly personal to me. Not just because N.W.A. was a massive influence for the hood education they unflinchingly provided to hip hop generation kids like me who were living outside the dark spectrum of their reality as young black men in Compton, but because later as PD of Los Angeles radio station 92.3 The Beat I worked directly with Eazy E, creating The Ruthless Radio Show, which helped launch the careers of both Bone Thugs N Harmony and now-legendary host Julio G, a mastermixer from KDAY.   Eric was just as smart, funny, charismatic, loyal and sadly in the end, tragic as he was portrayed in this film.  He had a major impact in my life; after all we made history on the radio together. But what I remember about him most was that he always had my fucking back, even when Suge stormed into the building and demanded I give him equal time on the radio station (for reasons he couldn't articulate beyond, Eazy has a show, I get a show-- he was also portrayed accurately) and I will never, ever forget that or diminish his importance in my world. RIP Eazy. You forever have my heart.

Straight Outta Compton casts a much wider net than simply being a biopic about the multiplatinum music group that changed rap music. The film speaks through the equally compelling story lines of its main influencers Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, and Eazy E  (who were so brilliantly cast, the portrayals are uncanny) to the group’s massive impact on popular culture in America—whether or not you bought their records. This was not just a rap group with some catchy songs, it was a cultural mindset among an entire generation, and the art they created became a tidal wave of change.

This film explains for outliers why we consider N.W.A pioneers—game changers not only for being the first to ring the alarm about the reality of police brutality, a daily hell for too many people of color, but of thoughtful resistance. We forget how this group stood up in the face of blinding backlash that rained down on them from the mainstream media and beyond, escalating to heights of our federal government in the late 1980s. “Fuck Tha Police” became a battle cry because it was the truth, and Cube said it best in the film: “Speak a little truth and people lose their minds.”

But there are also strong themes of brotherhood and friendship, coupled with the unstoppable force of genuine creative talent—despite multiple marauders who predictably invade the situation to fuck things up for the crew. The infamous villians in this scenario are manager and Ruthless Records partner Jerry Heller and later, Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight. (P. S.: Those scenes about the office environment at Death Row are not exaggerated even a little, and we strongly suspect you'll be shocked when you see it).

Straight Outta Compton is a powerful story about a movement, a movie that chronicles an exhilarating era of music evolution and best of all, the rise of West Coast hip-hop on the international stage. Absolute salute to director F. Gary Gray for an incredible job at the helm of this extraordinary film.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


CHVRCHES, the electronica trio out of Glasgow featuring vocalist (and award-winning journalist) Lauren Mayberrysynth-master Martin Doherty and guitarist Iain Cook, have a real hit on their hands with new single "Leave A Trace."  I have only heard about this band peripherally before they dropped this monster but I'm completely obsessed now-- and have been dutifully nagging anyone who will listen about it (as we all do when we love a song!)  My ears pin this as an Alt-crossover smash that could easily play on Pop radio because it contains the best essence of all those great New Order and Erasure records. Please believe that hook is subtle, but sticky. This one will go.

Thursday, July 2, 2015


Beats 1 revealed itself powerfully on its Born Day. Through the lens of its compellingly cool spirit animals—DJs Zane Lowe, Julie Adenuga and Ebro Darden—we experienced three uniquely different vibes, from region to sound, language and presentation.

Each was an expert hand guiding us through a new land, the DJ rocking a crowd while talking up the music they’re playing with unbridled passion and expertise. The coolest part as a new listener yesterday was realizing these were well-formed parties already in progress, but now going worldwide.....

Friday, June 12, 2015


Presenting mesmerizing soul in a #songsfromscratch collabo from Mr. Carmack along with Bay Area's Kehlani called "All In".  She is the truth; carves her own lane entirely with a refreshing new brew of real R&B plus way she sings... we live for Lana Tsunami because there is an emotional song vibe in her cool spirit that's on Sade levels.  The backstory is amazing and she is only 19.  Like Raury it's a maturity way beyond the years and without question an Artist To Watch. Seek out her mixtapes You Should Be Here and Cloud 19 if you haven't already.

Video piece on the collaboration below....

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


Apple Music is applying the winning playbook for subscription, as previously defined by HBO for broadcast TV and later Netflix for on-demand. The philosophy is simple: to retain subscription fees long-term the consumer expects total access to all the basic hits plus a load of excellent premium material that’s exclusive added value. Netflix even went a step further when producing their own original content and took a page from the music business by dropping full TV seasons like albums, thus changing the way people view programming with the “binge-watch.”

When you ponder Apple Music in the subscription landscape just think to yourself,  
“That’s no moon… it’s a Space Station.”

Thursday, June 4, 2015


Gotta keep it 100 and tell you that when first hearing of Evan Ross being signed as a recording artist, the news was met with an eye roll.  Nepotism is rampant in the entertainment business, and I have little patience for it.  The descendants of legends (in this case Diana Ross) have lots of advantages and connections, but are far from being guaranteed an inheritance of crucial je ne sais quoi needed to ascend; not to mention getting handed down actual talent. You'd better be special beyond super crafty at the Hollywood schmooze to break through in this day and age....

Monday, June 1, 2015


It's been awhile since I've encountered a song that lasers right into my heart like a first kiss and stays on repeat for weeks, eliciting the absolute need for me to learn every word so that I can sing along to it loudly whether I'm alone in my house or walking down street to the train station. But a soulful shy-girl from Ontario Canada named Alessia Cara has delivered an instant-cherish-anthem you have got to know about immediately.  The song is called "Here".......