Collaborating Authors

VH1's 'Hip Hop Honors' looks to '90s nostalgia

Los Angeles Times

A back lot at Paramount Studios shook from the bass of classic rap records pumping through speakers as members of the crowd picked up free bandannas, sunglasses and faux gold chains. The strip of brownstones and storefronts that often stand in for New York -- or whatever metropolis filmmakers see fit -- had been transformed into a Brooklyn block party on Sunday for VH1's "Hip Hop Honors." Since its inception in 2004, the event, which returned last year after a six-year absence, has feted the artists and movements that have defined and influenced hip-hop culture. This year's ceremony, which airs tonight at 9, eschewed artist-driven movements -- last year's ceremony, for example, saluted female emcees -- and instead focused on the 1990s. Set amid graffiti-marked buildings at the corner of Hype Boulevard and Drop It Like It's Hot Street, the special -- dubbed "Hip Hop Honors: The 90s Game Changers" -- paid tribute to famed music video director Hype Williams, Mariah Carey, Jermaine Dupri, Master P and comedian Martin Lawrence.


International Business Times

Nearly 15 years after his murder, Jam Master Jay's murder has been declared as a cold case, as reported by the Associated Press. The reports state that the New York police has acknowledged that their investigation into the killing on Oct. 30, 2002, has gone cold. Born Jason Mizell in Brooklyn, New York City, Jay was a legendary hip-hop artist known as DJ Jam Master Jay. He was a part of a groundbreaking rap group Run-D.M.C. Jay was already an accomplished DJ when he joined high school friends, Joseph'Run' Simmons and Darryl'D.M.C.' McDaniels, in their group, Run-D.M.C. in 1982.

RJD2's Atmospheric Sound

The New Yorker

Hip-hop producers have long had to conjure up a voice to build recognition: Dr. Dre and Kanye West learned to rap; Mike Will Made-It and Metro Boomin added sonic name tags to their beats. But in recent years amateurs have emerged at the fore via new channels. SoundCloud, the audio-hosting service, has provided young beatsmiths with a social network all their own, where they share mixes and build followings without the need for a rapper's endorsement, gaining micro-fame in the process. Policy updates suggest the company is smartly turning its attention toward this organic community: SoundCloud's founder and tech manager, Eric Wahlforss, recently explained to the German magazine Groove that the service would no longer terminate accounts for uploading copyrighted samples. Ramble Jon Krohn, who produces and performs as RJD2, didn't enjoy such luxuries, but his hybrid positioning as a producer and a commercial artist made inroads others would unwittingly follow.

Music Center throws a four-day hip-hop party, and Brazilian dancers of Compagnie Käfig lead the way

Los Angeles Times

The "Käfig" in Compagnie Käfig means "cage" in German, but the hip-hop dance company's founder, Mourad Merzouki, is determined to bust down the divisions between the humble city street and the rarefied concert-dance stage. Known for incorporating circus acrobatics, martial arts and contemporary dance, the barrier-breaking Franco-Brazilian company performs at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion from Friday through Sunday and is the focal point of the Music Center's "Four Days of Hip Hop," a slate of programs inspired by Los Angeles' rich history of urban dance, associate vice president of programming Michael Solomon says. "Four Days of Hip Hop" starts Thursday and will include a panel discussion on the evolution of L.A. hip-hop, roller skating during the Music Center's deejayed "Sleepless" party and vinyl trading at the Beat Swap Meet in nearby Grand Park. Compagnie Käfig will lead a free (and already-filled) beginners class in hip-hop dance on Saturday. "We really want to celebrate hip-hop and we want to have multiple entry points for people," says Solomon, who hopes that the programs will reach new audiences in the place where West Coast hip-hop was born.

Crunch Time for Kyle Abraham at the New York City Ballet

The New Yorker

On a recent Sunday, the modern-dance choreographer Kyle Abraham arrived at the David H. Koch Theatre, in Lincoln Center, to finish making a ballet. His client was the New York City Ballet, his deadline was Thursday, and the ballet--well, it's his first. "I'm playing a lot of inspirational music before I walk in the door," Abraham, who is forty-one and has a sincere, open face, said. He wore black sweatpants and a black sweatshirt. Holding up his phone, he shared what he calls his "Don't eff with me" playlist: Robyn, Prince, and "some hip-hop anthems that tell me, like, 'You can do it!'