3 Dope Songs from Kev Choice… A Bay Area Treasure, A Musician’s Musician

Kev Choice

Kev Choice

Shout out to one of the hardest working brothers in show biz… Its Oakland’s own Kev Choice.. Around these parts he’s a fixture as the classically trained pianist is highly sought after from by everyone from Boots of the Coup who he’s currently on tour with to Lauryn Hill.  The man does everything from write to compose to emcee and of course he does it with extreme funkiness. To put it succinctly  Kev is a musician’s musician.. The other day I got a nice video from him in France and decided to highlight him in the 3 Dope Song series..A little bit of background..

Back in 2009, Kev Choice launched the Daily Dosage music series to offer music lovers and fans a new song every 24 hours from Halloween until New Year’s Eve. Fast forward to 2012. During Kev’s European Fall Tour as keyboardist with The Coup, Kev launched the Daily Dosage: Euro Edition from Dijon, France. The second song recorded in this series — “Show The World” — was recorded in his hotel room in Dijon. The song carries the theme of showing the world what you have to offer, taking advantage of the moment, taking risk, and the challenges of seeking international fame. The song was produced by Kev Choice and features a sample from French composer and arranger Jean-Claude Petit.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CeRV4sjx-0Y&feature=youtu.be

About a year ago Kev Choice and long time SF based singer Martin Luther hooked up to do this heartfelt song called ‘Let It All Go’ The song pertains to dealing with everyday stress and struggles. Kev Choice plays a homeless person in the video, with the message being that no matter how bad things may be, it could always be worse. The video was shoot on location in downtown San Francisco by director Samm Styles and Brian Storm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjaLkB7hq5c

Below is one my favorite songs from Kev..Its an inspiring song called ‘The Best‘.. It was originally featured as one of his Daily Dosage offerings. Hopefully it leaves you inspired as it did me..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6e0Dn3D2oY

 

Hip Hop Pioneer Too Short Forms a New Band-Talks About the Legacy & Influence of Funk

Bay Area Hip Hop Pioneers Richie Rich & Too Short talk about the importance of musicianship & live bands within Hip Hop

When we talk about Hip Hop, its important  to note that every city and region has its own unique histories and pioneering figures. In New York we give props to Hip Hop’s forefathers, DJ Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash. They did the first parties, formed the first groups and developed the first techniques throughout the 1970s that laid the groundwork for those who came after. Here out west, 3000 miles away in the San Francisco Bay Area, we pay homage to pioneering figures Todd Shaw aka Too ShortRichie Rich, Freddy B and E-40 to name a few. Like their New York predecessors they too did the first parties, formed the first groups and developed some of the first techniques throughout the 80s that would influence future generations both nationally and around the world.

One of their signature contributions was laying down important blueprints on creating, recording and distributing music independently. The other important contribution from these pioneering artists was the how they used funk music and live instruments to develop the early West Coast sound.

Yesterday we caught up with Too Short at a barbershop around the corner from Mexicali Rose restaurant on 7th and Clay in downtown Oakland. Here he, explained that from the very beginning West Coast Hip Hop had live instrumentation. He noted that when he did his first recordings at 75 Girls record label, like everyone else they had a drum machine but it was complimented with someone playing keyboards, guitars or bass. There was no such thing as sampling for many of the early artists, Short asserted.

Short noted that he was in the tradition of many of his fellow artists and producers like E-40Digital Underground and pioneering producers KhayreeAl Eaton, Studio Tone, Tommy Foster & Danny McElroy, and Ant Banks to name a few, in the sense that they all played in high school or college bands. Short went on to explain that he started out as a drummer who played in the band at Fremont High School. He said he was also a pretty good ‘one finger expert’ when it came to keyboards and guitar. He named off a string of records including Freaky TalesDope Fiend Beat and I Ain’t Tripping where he played the background instruments.

Short added that the use of live instruments allowed early artists to maintain a funk sound that was desired by those who came up either listening or being directly involved in the hundreds of 3-4 man garage bands that existed prior to Hip Hop showing up in the Bay Area. “It was all about musicianship”, he said. Short pointed out that within every Bay Area Hip Hop group there is someone in the fold who can really throw down on the musician tip. It’s part of Bay Area/West Coast culture and our legacy. Short talked about the influence that groups like Tower of Power and Sly and the Family Stone had on early Hip Hop in the Bay.

Shock G of Digital Underground started his group as a full fledge band with a drummer and him playing piano photo credit: ani yapundzhyan

If folks really look closely at Bay Area rap groups you will find that many of them deeply rooted in band culture. I recall early Digital Underground shows where DJ Fuze would battle long time drummer Chopmaster J while Shock G also an accomplished musician would rock the keyboards as one of his alter ego ‘Piano man‘.

MC Hammer had a lot of early production done by Felton Pilate of Con Funk Shun. Later he would have huge bands at his live shows which included the original horn players from Earth Wind and Fire.

Before Paris also an accomplished musician made his mark as a political rapper, he started out as an artist who was moving in the direction of Prince.

Today artists like Boots Riley of the Coup not only have their own band, but recently teamed up with Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine to form Street Sweeper Social Club.

Again Bay Area Hip Hop is derived from the funk bands that proceeded them.

This was a point that was re-emphasized by Richie Rich.  He said that even though he doesn’t play instruments, he considers himself a musician because as an emcee he uses his voice and flows to play along with live instruments. He went on to add, that over the years he’s come to prefer rhyming with a live band because it allows him a lot of freedom to express himself and also be felt.

We spoke with both Too Short and Richie Rich about the new music venture that’s emerging from their camp. For those who don’t know, Too Short has teamed up with popular accomplished musicians Kev Choice and Martin Luther formerly of the Roots to form a band that has no official name as of yet. Also in the group is Silk E who many know as one of the Bay Area’s dope emcees, who often performs with Tony Toni Tone but as Short noted, she’s also an incredible singer.

During our interview Short talked about how the group has been able to bring such divergent sounds together and make it work. He pointed out Martin Luther‘s soul/neo sou/ and rock backgrounds. He talked about Kev Choice being a classically trained jazz musician who can ‘freestyle endlessly’.

‘He’s the exact opposite of me in the sense that he has super positive rhymes and spits rhymes about current events’  Short noted. But that’s what makes the group work.

Silk E rounds out the group  with her unique sound and approach

Dubbed Towne Business, their debut performance is scheduled this Saturday September 11th at the Mezzanine in San Francisco. Short noted this will be the first of many shows they plan to do in the Bay Area before taking it on the road.

Here our interviews with both Too Short & Richie Rich-click the links below

Interview w/ Too Short

Interview w/ Richie Rich

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

Interview w/ DJ Pam the Funkstress aka the Party Slapper

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We caught up with one of the Bay Area’s most enduring legends-DJ Pam the Funkstress. You may know her as the woman who holds down Boots Riley of the Coup as she gets busy on the turn tables.

Pam is a pioneer in the Bay Area Hip Hop scene. She started off back in the mid 80s as producer for a now defunct all female rap group. She still produces but has also become a stellar DJ who rocks parties weekly and a restaurant owner where she herself cooks the food. If that’s not enough Pam has been training with DJ Q-Bert.. Sit back and enjoy as she lets loose about her-story..

-Davey D-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaF4XwYqcH4

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

DJ Pam the Funkstrees the Party Slapper

DJ Pam the Funkstrees the Party Slapper