VINYL-ONLY TOUR HONORING AFRIKA BAMBAATAA’S INFLUENCE ON HIP HOP’S BEGINNINGS

DJ Shadow

I would consider Bambaataa to be one of the three biggest musical influences in my life, along with Grandmaster Flash and Kurtis Mantronik. He was a DJ with a vision and a sense of purpose, with a desire for social change.

His ability to embrace and incorporate all different types of music and art, and contextualize them with a hip-hop mentality, is what the entire culture is based on.

-DJ Shadow on Afrika Bambaataa in Rolling Stone

Music fans are in for a once-in-a-lifetime experience when turntablist masterminds DJ Shadowand Cut Chemist hit the road with a truck full of records form the personal collection of Universal Zulu Nation founder Afrika Bambaataa.

This has never been done before, definitely not on this scale. They’re HIS records, with his blessings. This isn’t just ANY copy of ‘X’ breakbeat, it’s THE copy, THE copy that started everything. Not just any records, the MASTER OF RECORDS’ records.

– DJ Shadow

The Renegades of Rhythm tour will unfold before the naked eye using only vinyl pulled from Bambaataa’s historic collection – over 40,000 strong and permanently archived at Cornell University.

DJ Shadow states on his website, “[Bambaataa’s] collection includes not just Soul and Rap, but also Soca, Calypso, Dub, Salsa…it’s obvious that this music was important to him, and it’s reflected in his own music.

“For example, when the Soulsonic Force is singing an African chant, it actually comes from a Manu Dibango record. That’s when being a crate-digger comes in handy – you have to be able to pick up on the references and reiterate them.”

DJ exploring Photo by Joe Conzo

DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist exploring Afrika Bambaataa’s record collection; photo by Joe Conzo

Continuing on his website,

Johan Kugelberg, who in 2007 established the Cornell Hip Hop Archive, and a member of Zulu Nation, brought the idea of this tour to Cut Chemist and DJ Shadow, and introduced the two to Afrika Bambaataa.

“Hip Hop ultimately is multi-generational and communicative, and an ongoing grassroots network” he says. “This tour will bring together hip hop fans over generations.”

Example of select vinyl cover from Bambaataa's collection; photo by Joe Conzo

Example of select vinyl cover from Bambaataa’s collection; photo by Joe Conzo

Sorting through the collection with this holistic aim in mind was daunting. “The first sort was to make sure we didn’t leave anything important behind. We definitely over-pulled,” adds Cut Chemist. To help them narrow their selections, DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist focused on the appearance of the records themselves, “It was pretty clear what he played a lot and what he didn’t. The sure-shots were covered with tape and the jackets were beautifully tattered; that made it easier after a while to pull records.”

“The program will be multifaceted,” DJ Shadow explains. “Bambaataa as artist, exploring the influence of his classics like ‘Planet Rock;’ Bambaataa as collector, and the genre-defining breaks he discovered; and Bambaataa as peacemaker and force for social change. He influenced an entire generation worldwide, so we feel a great obligation to get it right.”

Afrika Bambaataa

Afrika Bambaataa & his vinyl; photo by JoeConzo

Naturally, it was paramount to the two DJ’s that the tour have the full blessing and support of Afrika Bambaataa himself. “I call on all who love Hip-Hop to come out, see them, hear them,” says the Godfather. “My story is our history in DJing.”

The Renegades of Rhythm tour will use six turntables and a variety of real-time effects. “It adds another performance level, real-time sampling from the record that’s being played,” says Cut Chemist. Visuals for the tour will be supplied by acclaimed video director, multimedia producer and regular DJ Shadow collaborator Ben Stokes. The tour is produced by Jamal Chalabi andBacklash Management.

The tour may be rooted in a historic vinyl collection, but both DJs are quick to point out that people should not come to this expecting strictly an ‘old-school’ set. As DJ Shadow sums it up, “DJ Shadow + Cut Chemist + Bambaataa’s records + his blessings: it’s going to be epic. That’s all you really need to know.” Or, as Afrika Bambaataa puts it, “DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist are going to blow your funky mind.”

Renegades of Rhythm Tour with DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist

Monday September 22, 9 pm

Mercury Ballroom
611 S 4th Street, Louisville, KY 40202

Buy Tickets!

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Want to win tickets?

As you read above, Bambaataa’s work has been the inspiration for so many different styles of music. In the spirit of the tour, leave a comment discussing a song that has inspired you in some way.

The randomly-selected winner will be announced by Wednesday September 10th and will receive two tickets to DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist Present Renegades Of Rhythm Tour at The Mercury Ballroom.

The crowd at Boys Noize at the Red Bull stage at The Forecastle Music Festival 2013

Crowd at Boys Noize at the Red Bull stage at The Forecastle Music Festival 2013

The Forecastle Festival is located on the Ohio River, in Louisville, Kentucky. Being so close to the river provides an aesthetic that many festivals cannot match. There is a unique sort of charm in having a party by the river. Throughout the day, festivalgoers were sitting by the canal, cooling themselves off and resting their feet in the flowing water. Louisville Waterfront Park was the perfect setting for Saturday night’s festivities – after a brief interruption from the forces of nature.

A canal that runs through the festival site offered patrons a spot to cool off.

A canal that runs through the festival site offered patrons a spot to cool off.

Upon arriving at the festival, and trying to acclimate myself to unfamiliar surroundings, I was immediately informed by those running the festival that severe weather was in the area. For the safety of the crowd, all patrons were asked to leave the venue and take shelter in their cars. I delayed this process for as long as possible and managed to remain in the venue until everyone was allowed back in.

One of the many art installations that was added to throughout the festival by local artists

One of the many art installations that was added to throughout the festival by local artists

 

The weather caused a delay in the set times for the rest of the evening, but the festival organizers did a tremendous job of alleviating any confusion by displaying the adjusted set times on the screens that adorned each stage. The festival even handed out free tickets to people who bought one passes.

Once fans returned to the venue, TOKiMONSTA took the Red Bull Music Academy Ocean Stage, which was located under an overpass, giving the stage a grungy feel. TOKiMONSTA is a female electronic music producer from California. It was evident that festivalgoers were ready for a party. The crowd surged forward as she began playing poppy loops and dancing on stage in front of a checkerboard of LED screens displaying visuals behind her. Overall, the performance was akin to your average EDM DJ, danceable but not overly impressive. The performance peaked when she dropped, “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe,” by Kendrick Lamar. Although not my cup of tea, the crowd was quite enthused and it was amusing to watch her sing along to the song.
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After losing interest in TOKiMONSTA, I decided to head over to the Mast Stage, Forecastle’s main stage to watch Jim James. Although I have seen My Morning Jacket numerous times, I had yet to see the lead singer perform his solo work. I was not disappointed. Jim James, donning his signature long hair and beard, took the stage looking quite dapper in an open suit jacket and button up shirt. The band played softly as he began, “State of the Art.” The haunting vocals showcased the beauty that is Jim James voice and the crowd was instantly entranced. As the song climaxed, James was twirling around the stage as spikes of light provided visual stimulation behind him.

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The second song of the set featured James soloing on a stationary guitar at center stage. While he is best known for his vocal capabilities, he can also play a mean guitar. Next, James sang, “Know til Now,” while dancing around the stage clutching a golden bear. This must have worn him out because he returned for the next song wearing a towel on his head and playing saxophone. The rest of the set felt like a classic rock n’ roll show, drum solos and all. You could sense the hometown love throughout the duration of the set. It became clear that no one loves Jim James as much as Louisville does.

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As things were winding down, I decided to head to the Boom Stage to see The Flaming Lips. I had the pleasure of seeing them earlier this year when they came through Indianapolis, and I left quite impressed.  The show at Forecastle was nearly identical to the one I had previously seen. Nonetheless, the Flaming Lips’ production quality never ceases to amaze me.

Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips

Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips

Wayne Coyne seemed to be in good spirits throughout the show, trying to get the crowd to liven up. “During a Flaming Lips show, you are allowed to do what you want to do,” he said. He once again made jokes about smoking pot, shining the light gun into the crowd and encouraging people to smoke. He was infatuated with the fact that there was a highway above the venue and kept imagining a car crashing off of it into the crowd.

One interesting twist that I had not previously seen was the bands cover of, “Gates of Steel,” by DEVO, which began with an extensive drum introduction. Wayne Coyne stood on his pedestal singing lyrics as the entire stage was barraged by lasers.

This was, by far, the most heavily attended show by photographers.

This was, by far, the most heavily attended show by photographers.

Finally, it was time to head back to the Mast Stage to see The Black Keys. “Howlin for you,” the band’s first song of the evening started as I was making my way through the crowd. Although the band is comprised of only two members, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney, they brought along some touring musicians to add to their sound, giving the band a bass and keyboard when necessary.  Although I enjoy most of the Black Keys music, their live performance fell flat. They sounded restrained, playing at a lower volume than the rest of the bands that evening. I overheard people in the crowd yelling for them to, “Turn up the volume,” and I couldn’t help but agree. After a few songs, including an incredible version of, “Gold on the Ceiling,” which sounded better than the studio version, the band said they were going to play some songs as a duo.

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The band seemed more comfortable playing as a duo, launching into, “Thickfreakness,” off of the album of the same name, which happens to be my favorite of their albums. After a brief intermission, the band returned for an encore, playing, “I Got Mine,” which featured Auerbach shredding the guitar. Weary from a day of incredible music, I exited the venue as their last song faded off into the distance.
Words by Kenneth Spangler (above) and Chris Lucas (below for SCI late night)

Saturday Late Night: The String Cheese Incident

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The best part of the weekend was dancing in the front row at The String Cheese Incident‘s late night set at the Louisville Palace. These boys are definitely my favorite band out there, and there aren’t many opportunities to see them around here, as they don’t make it to the midwest very often. Instead, they perform “Incidents” across the country, but mostly in the western United States.

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As we walked into the Palace, I was amazed by how beautiful it was, and just by the fact that I was even there at the show. Nothing all weekend compared to the energy and professionalism that was brought to this show, and it will definitely be something to remember. The crowd, the band, the vibe, and the venue all summed together equated to the best show of the weekend.

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Photographs by Aaron Lingenfelter of Wide Aperture Images

 

To see more photographs from The Forecastle Festival 2013, click here