Talib Kweli | BET Experience: Acoustically Speaking | 6/28/14 [PHOTOS]



Hosted by the former Rap City and 106 & Park host Big Tigger, perhaps my favorite part of the BET Experience FREE Fan Fest was the intimate afternoon of performances at the Acoustically Speaking showcase. Taped live in front of an audience of not more than 300, the performances and interviews gave me an opportunity to “Experience” the sounds of some seriously talented, developing and established recording artists.

Each artist performed a short set of 4-5 songs. Each performance was followed by a one-on-one interview with Big Tigger. The performances and the interviews gave audience members an opportunity to really connect with each of the artists. It was truly a one of a kind performance experience.

The only rapper to perform at the Acoustically Speaking showcase was Talib Kweli, a Brooklyn-bred rapper who started his career collaborating with Mos Def as the collective, Black Star. Accompanied by two horns, a upright, string bass, keys and a guitars, his performance was filled an energy and vibrance that you don’t often get from hip-hop/rap concerts nowadays.

Perhaps one of the more eloquent rappers in the game, Talib Kweli’s interview with Bigg Tigger touched on some of the social topics that he is known to support, like the influence of hip-hop culture on society at large. The interview was as good as the performance, and trust me, the performance was fire.

Hopefully, BET will air the entire performance and interview at some point, but in the meantime, CLICK HERE to check out what video clips have been posted on BET’s website.

CLICK HERE to check out a collection of Instagram videos of most, if not all, of the songs Talib Kweli performed at this concert.

By this time in the day, my second (and last) battery pack was running on empty. My camera intermittently shut off while I was shooting this performance, and I didn’t really have time (or the battery) to set the camera to the right settings, so I shot with whatever setting my camera was already set at. I wish the photos could have been better, but I guess I’ll have to live with them. Next time, I’ll remember to bring a THIRD battery pack. LOL.


Cults | Twilight Concert Series | Santa Monica Pier | 7/10/14 [PHOTOS & REVIEW]

CLICK HERE to check out other acts performing a Twilight Concert at the Santa Monica Pier!


Headlining the first concert of the 2014 Twilight Concert Series at the Santa Monica Pier was the lo-fi, psychedelic, indie pop duo Cults. Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivian’s 60’s infused, experimental pop music received great acclaim in 2010 and 2011 with strong reviews by publications like NME and Pitchfork.

I was particularly attracted to their latest album “Static” (released in 2013) as it basically told the story of the duos tumultuous relationship, which ultimately didn’t last. The darkness and somber tones of the music and lyrics of that album, for me, is a great straight listen (meaning, you can press play on the album and not have to fast forward any of the songs).

However tumultuous their break up may have been, it was obvious that any personal antagonism between them had been squashed as there was no tension between the two while performing. In fact, the only tension I could sense was with the person working the mixing board as I could tell Madeline, perhaps, had a difficult time hearing herself. Was it just me, or were there no monitors on stage?

The Cults’ music, especially with their latest release, is quite intricate and layered with sound. And where the recordings delicately balanced the music against the vocals, with the vocals at times just hovering over the music, the mix for their performance had the music slightly overpower the vocals. For example, when the instrumentation was minimal, like on the verses of “So Far”, I could hear Madeline’s vocals just fine. But when there was a swell of music, it often drowned out the vocal performance.

Despite any hiccups with mixing, Cults powered through their set and performed all of their hits from both their first and second albums, and even returned to the stage for an encore. Having grown up in Southern California, they thanked the crowd and expressed their sincere appreciation for being able to perform back in their stomping ground.

CLICK HERE to check out a collection of Instagram videos of most, if not all, of the songs Cults performed at this concert.

CLICK HERE to check out other acts performing a Twilight Concert at the Santa Monica Pier!

Cults | Twilight Concert Series | Santa Monica Pier | 7/10/14 [INSTAGRAM VIDS]

CLICK HERE to check out other acts performing a Twilight Concert at the Santa Monica Pier!


Below are Instagram clips from most, if not all, of the songs from Cults’ set at the Santa Monica Pier as part of the Twilight Concert Series. Enjoy.

CLICK HERE to check out other acts performing a Twilight Concert at the Santa Monica Pier!

Free Concert Alert | Cults at the Santa Monica Pier | 7/10/14 [Preview]

Twilight Concert Series | Santa Monica Pier

CLICK HERE to check out the other acts I plan on checking out this Summer at the Twilight Concert Series at the Santa Monica Pier!

Whenever I have friends visiting Los Angeles during the summer and they ask me for suggestions, I always recommend attending a concert at the Santa Monica Pier. After all, there isn’t a much better way to spend a summer day/eve, at the beach with a picnic listening to some quality music.

For the past 30 years, the Santa Monica Pier has been hosting an extremely well-curated summer concert series known as the “Twilight Concerts”. This year, their line-up is as impressive as I’ve ever seen it.

On July 10th, the concert series kicks off with a critically acclaimed rock band from New York: Cults. This duo saw their music spread virally when they posted some of their music to their Bandcamp page sometime in 2010. Music publications like Pitchfork and NME have been gushing about their pop-rock sound, which led them to get signed to Columbia Records and releases their first major label, self-titled album. Having released their sophomore album, titled “Static” in late 2013, They have been touring in support of their debut album since, and are going to shine their sunny brand of pop-rock on the pier this coming Thursday. I, for one, am looking forward to checking them out for the first time.

Also performing on the pier, opening for Cults, is the band James Supercave. They are currently supporting their latest release, “The Afternoon EP” and their music is an eclectic mix of electronic pop music. Their lead singer’s voice reminds me of Modest Mouse’s lead singer, Isaac Brock, but their music feels more along the lines of a Passion Pit or Phoenix, with a rougher “rock” edge. As long as traffic doesn’t get the better of me, I hope to catch their set as well.

To see the full list of acts performing at the Santa Monica Pier as part of the 20th Annual Twilight Concert series, CLICK HERE.

Check out Cults on Facebook to learn more about them and their music. CLICK HERE to check them out.

CLICK HERE to check out the other acts I plan on checking out this Summer at the Twilight Concert Series at the Santa Monica Pier!

Talib Kweli | BET Experience: Acoustically Speaking | 6/28/14 [Instagram Videos]



One of the BET Experience Fan Fest events that I was given permission to cover was the Acoustically Speaking series. I had absolutely no problem with that. Scheduled from 2pm – 6:30, various artists performed a short set of songs “unplugged” followed by an interview with the host, Big Tigger. It was a taped event, so I’m sure that these episodes will be edited for broadcast. Based on who I saw perform, I can affirmatively say that each artist is worth tuning in for.

Being up close to the artist while they performed gave me the opportunity to take some really good pictures. Please follow me so you can get notified when they get posted.


Your Weekly Weekend Music Mix | 6/20/14 [NEWS]



Though her music career had been embroiled in contractual battles with her prior label, fresh off performing at South by Southwest and having inked a new deal with Atlantic Records earlier this year, it sounds as if JoJo’s music career is about to get some much needed major label support. I’ve always enjoyed her R&B infused pop music … and being easy on the eyes certainly doesn’t hurt. Follow her on Instagram: @translucentbrownsugar

KILLER COVER: Allen Stone covers Marcy Playground

Remember that Marcy Playground song “Sex And Candy”? I do. I first heard it on the radio at college. It was a HUGE college radio song. Allen Stone soul singer who is about to release his sophomore album, and he does a great job covering this song.

Here’s the original Marcy Playground track:

HAHAHAHA …. Just For Laughs

The POWER of Music! It seems like Terry Crews can do anything with his muscles … even make music.

OK Go with a NEW Ground Breaking Music Video

OK Go’s music videos are always amazing. The music video for their latest single, “The Writing’s On The Wall” is a both a sonically pleasing and visually amazing. And it looks as if they did it all in ONE take. Take a look.


Bjork to have a 3-D fusion of film and music exhibit at the MOMA! She’s always on the cutting edge of art, so it seems only fitting that she’ll have an exhibit at a prestigious museum.

A family named their twin boys Ghostface and Raekwon. Is this taking fandom to a new level … or Nah … lol.

Iggy Azalea recently scored both the Number One and Number Two spots in the Billboard Hot 100. A feat only accomplished by one other musical act: The Beatles. Now firming entrenched in the spotlight, commentary regarding her rise to the top has been steady growing.A professor from my alma mater, Cornell University, wrote one titled “The Conspiracy to Whitewash Hip-Hop”. An interesting read, for sure, but do you agree?

Enjoy watching music videos on Youtube? What’ll happen if your favorite band’s music is no longer available to watch? Well, it may be happening sooner that you think. Youtube hasn’t been able to work out deals with certain independent record labels, and music acts like Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Adele and others may soon no longer be available to watch on Youtube. A damn shame if you ask me.


Last week I posted a link to a Jack White show that I regretted missing. Over the weekend, I suffered from Jack White withdrawal when I kept seeing various twitter feeds explode with Jack White updates during his performance at Bonnaroo as it seemed to be legend … wait for it … ary. I was again heartbroken for not being at a Jack White show. See below and join in my sadness.

Your Weekly Weekend Music Mix | 6/6/14



Rita Ora is a British singer-songwriter who released her first album in 2012 and is currently featured on Iggy Azalea’s song “Black Widow” from the chart-topping album “The New Classic”. She is currently signed to Roc Nation and one can hope that a follow up album is forthcoming. Rita Ora is a babe. You should follow her on Instagram @RitaOra. And fellas … she’s newly single too!

KILLER COVER: Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan Covers Joy Division

I’m a huge Depeche Mode Fan. When I found this cover of Dave Gahan covering the Joy Division classic “Love Will Tear Us Apart” I lost my shit. Terrific cover.

Marvin Gaye Doesn’t Need Instrumental Accompaniment

The video below is a just the vocal feed of live performance. Who says you need instruments to sound good. This video proves that if you can sing …. you can sing. The first few seconds are silent (it’s just the vocal feed, so you can’t hear the introductory instrumentation. For your auditory pleasure, the a cappella track of Marvin Gaye singing “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”. You’re welcome.


It’s been quite an eventful week for the Beastie Boys. Earlier in the week, in a very classy and moving tribute, the Beastie Boys announced that they will no longer record new music after the death of Adam Yauch pka “MCA”. On Thursday, a jury in New York’s Federal Court found that Monster Energy violated the Beastie Boys’ copyright and now has to pay out a $1.7 Million judgement. I guess this case is proof that a one word email of “Dope” can’t constitutes a sufficient meeting of the minds for contractual purposes. LOL.

New video of Justin Bieber singing racist lyrics to one of his songs surfaces, and all I can do is shake my head in disgust. How many second chances do you give a kid who seems to have a sense of entitlement? Personally, I’m just tired of it.

Chris Brown was recently release from prison after serving part of a one-year sentence for violating his probation. He has vowed to change his ways. Personally, I hope that he’s being sincere about his proclamation. I like his music, and he needs to keep his ass clean and stay out of trouble and just make good music.

Pharrell announces that the new album he’s working on with Snoop will win Snoop a Grammy. He even went as far as to say that the album he’s producing for Snoop is even better than his own latest effort. If that ain’t high praise, I don’t know what is.


This 8 year old from Norway is AMAZING. Angelina Jordan got her “start” performing on (and winning) Norway’s Got Talent. She has a voice that is beyond her years, and it blows me away every time I hear her sing. Ugh. Simply marvelous. If her voice impresses you as much as it does me, you really need to follow her on Facebook and check out her other videos.

Terrace Martin’s “3ChordFold Pulse” [REVIEW]

terrace-martin-3chord-pulse It feels just like yesterday that Terrace Martin released his last album, the sublime “3ChordFold”. But ever the relentless, working musician, you knew that he had more up his sleeve, ready to share with the world. His latest release, “3ChordFold Pulse” is a follow up worthy of some serious attention.

Not only does he once again call upon the help of some of the highest caliber musicians around (Robert Glasper, James Fauntleroy, Thundercat, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, 9th Wonder and Ethan Farmer, just to name a few), but the album is a musical offering that, at least upon my initial listen, seamlessly covers the musical spectrum.

From the jazz elements in the title track “Pulse” (ft. Preston Harris) and “Its Yours” (ft. Robert Glasper, James Fauntleroy and Thundercat), to the soulful R&B vibes in “You and Me” (ft Preston Harris), “Come and Get Me” (ft. Wyann Vaughn) and All The Things (ft. Don Dolla), to the surprising blues offering in “Lets Go Get  Stoned” (ft. Snoop Dogg and Tone Trezure) to the jazz infused hip-hop of “Poetic Justice [Live in New York] (with Kendrick Lamar) and “Never Have To Worry” [Live in New York] (with Snoop Dogg) … this album has a little bit of everything.

Perhaps my favorite track on this release is Terrace’s live rendition of Herbie Hancock’s “Butterfly” which was recorded at the Del Monte Speakeasy, a show I was privileged to have been at, and features otherworldly performances from not only Terrace, but also Robert Glasper, Ethan Farmer, Marlon Williams and Ronald Bruner. It’s an amazing recording. I’m lucky that I’ll be able to purchase it to have in my collection for life.

Hey, Terrace? When are you dropping your albums on WAX?!?!? I NEED!

For some reason, I am unable to embed the media player into this post, so CLICK THIS LINK TO GET REDIRECTED TO THE DJBOOTH WEBSITE TO LISTEN TO THE ALBUM IN FULL.

A$AP Ferg | Coachella | 4/11/14 (PHOTOS)



After being ushered out of the photo pit for Grouplove, I decided to head over to the Outdoor Theatre in order to grab a bite to eat before setting up to take pictures of HAIM. A$AP Ferg was on stage bringing it with the A$AP Mob when all of a sudden I notice A$AP Rocky running on stage. In an almost instinctual motion, I started running towards the stage with my camera in tow.

Although photographers are typically only allowed to photograph either the first three songs or first 15 minutes, of an artist’s set in the photo pit, I somehow finagled my way into the photo pit and was able to take a few pictures of both A$AP Ferg and A$AP Rocky on stage together at Coachella.

Looking down at my watch I noticed that there was about 15 minutes left to his set, I decided to keep taking pictures until A$AP Ferg had donned a jacket that seemed to spray, streams of steam out of the sleeves. Considering that I had rented my lens, I decided that that was a good a time as any to leave the photo pit and grab a bit to eat. It was the first “special appearance” of an artist at the festival, and I think that one of the pics I snapped with Ferg and Rocky is a keeper. What do you think?