Tag Archives: hip hop

KRS-ONE Performs at the Shrine in Chicago (Review)

By Brand Gilliam

20150117_011724A high level of energy descended upon Chicago’s Shrine nightclub in anticipation for the arrival of the legendary KRS-ONE.

PNS (Molemen) commanded the turntables and kept the crowd at a feverish pitch playing golden era Hip-Hop and an onslaught of Reggae and Dancehall tunes while waiting for the show. Then, around 12:30 a.m., The Blastmaster aka The Teacha aka I Am Hip-Hop took command of the stage like Moses holding the Ten Commandments. A controlled chaos ensued as the 50 year old emcee and 28 year Hip-Hop veteran, Lawrence Parker, aka KRS-ONE, gave an adrenaline-charged 40 minute performance.

He kicked things off with a bundle pack of old school classics from albums Criminal Minded (1987), By All Means Necessary (1988), Edutainment (1990), Return of the Boom Bap (1993), KRS-ONE (1995), and I Got Next (1997). After about 15 minutes ripping the mic non-stop, KRS-ONE declared “Now I am ready to start the show”. KRS-ONE saw a fan in the crowd holding up a piece of paper which said Invaders; a Mexican empowerment anthem released in 2013.

20150117_011728From breath control to freestyle skills, crowd command, stage presence and song selection, his simple yet awe-inspiring performance was 100% on point. KRS-ONE frequently broke into off the dome freestyles which came effortlessly to him. KRS-ONE never lost the full attention of the crowd or the electrifying momentum that he had built on stage. The only down side about the performance was that it was only about 40 minutes long and that he and the DJ (PNS) did not seem to be on the same page when it came to the sound levels. Also he ended the performance rather strangely… he went to sign a fan’s album cover and just ran off stage. The fans were puzzled and did not know if the show had ended or not. The host came out and said that the show was over and about 5 minutes later KRS-ONE came into the crowd to take pictures and sign autographs.

KRS-ONE’s high power performance would put 98% of these so-called rappers to shame. I have been to a lot of rap show/concerts and the only other crew that I have seen equal and/or surpass the energy of a KRS-ONE performance is Public Enemy.

Overall the performance was an “A+”. Although the two and half to three hours of waiting in a packed shoulder to shoulder crowd… for a 40 minute performance with an abrupt ending was a “D-“.


KRS-ONE performed at the Shrine in Chicago on January 16, 2015

Photos by Brandy Gilliam

I Still Love H.E.R.….and so do I

By Wendy Simmons

Rap is a musical genre. Hip-hop is a culture. A culture that encompasses the art of music, dance, graffiti, and other forms of expression that resonant the sound of the urban community.

In the play, I Still Love H.E.R., a tribute to hip-hop, we learn its history while being highly entertained by music, dance and comedy. The use of H.E.R. is an acronym for Hearing Every Rhyme. The theater performance took me down memory lane as well as taught me a few things that I didn’t realize.

The play, created by Wendell Tucker, also stars him as LoveOne, an urban music radio personality. LoveOne decides to leave the music industry because he felt that the music with the most airplay was no longer as powerful and meaningful as it once was. On his last day at the fictional WHOP, he was determined to only air hip-hop classics. He, his co-host, and D.J. went as far back as playing old jazz musician Cab Calloway. This was done in order to show the roots of the music. As an array of music played, dancers and people depicting different artist hit the stage for exciting performances. There were tap and hip-hop dancers, as well as a lip licking LL Cool J impersonator.

While LoveOne conducted his last hoorah, he was abruptly joined by a woman claiming to be hip-hop herself.  Lady Hip Hop tells the audience that her origins are Jamaican, Egyptian, Caribbean, Asian, and mostly African American. However, most of us only think of the Boogey Down Bronx in New York as the birthplace of hip-hop.  LoveOne and Lady Hip Hop were able to combat against one another on the state of hip-hop at this time. They even went toe to toe on how Lady Hip Hop feels that LoveOne is abandoning her by leaving the music industry, thus leaving newer generations without an outlet for “real” hip-hop.

Throughout the play the characters discuss how new music artist like Gucci Mane, Soldier Boy, and Wakka Flaka Flame are misrepresenting the genre that many cherish. Therefore, the musical artist that were featured during the productions were those such as Common, Kanye West, Tupac, Biggie, McLyte, DMX, Public Enemy, Slick Rick, Lauryn Hill and more that are subjectively considered to be hip-hop’s finest. The play also discussed the many forms of hip-hop. Many assume that hip-hop is a straight road, when in fact it has many twist and turns. There’s spiritual hip-hop, political hip-hop, conscious hip-hop, women in hip-hop and even friendly hip-hop such as the sounds from Will “The Fresh Prince” Smith.

I Still Love H.E.R.did a great job condensing a huge cultural movement into just a few hours while inducing sympathetic emotions for LoveOne, who just wants to see hip-hop appreciated and not watered down for radio play.

On top of being extremely entertaining the characters also encouraged the audience to be interactive. We were expected to yell out lyrics to the songs that we grew up listening to on our Walkmans that are still in heavy rotation on our iPods today. The music made me jump to my feet, bob my head and sing along as if I were watching the real artists perform these iconic songs.

I was a little surprised to never hear hip-hop artist Common’s 1994 musical tribute to hip-hop, I Used to Love H.E.R., because I assumed that was the basis for this play.  But with so many other hip-hop classics being featured, I guess we can let that slide.

I Still Love H.E.R. was performed at the legendary Regal Theater on Chicago’s south side. The same theater where I witnessed Notorious B.I.G. perform One More Chance as a young child. The entire play put me in a nostalgic, yet hopeful mood. Hopeful that younger generations and hip-hop non-supporters will be able to one day enjoy and appreciate the music that helped to mold my generation.

Whether you love hip-hop or it makes you sick to your stomach, I Still Love H.E.R. is a definite must see. There’s no excuse for you missing this informative, argumentative display of raw, unadulterated hip-hop history. It will alter your idea of what hip-hop is. It will make you question why you ever doubted its impact on America and the world.

The performances and acting touches you and commands your respect for hip-hop. It’s a proven success which is why is it now headed to the great white way of Broadway in New York. Now more people can get the chance to witness an ode to a culture that has influenced a new world. Don’t give up on hop-hip, it’s still alive, and some of us used to and still love H.E.R.

I give this play $$$$…it’s worth front row seat prices.

Interview with G.L.C.

With Chicago artists finally getting their due, rapper G.L.C. is positioning himself to become the next big thing from the Windy City. G.L.C., born Leonard Harris, made an impressive debuted on Kanye West’s The College Dropout CD when he was featured on the song “Spaceship”; his follow up performance on “Drive Slow” proved he was a natural who could hold his own alongside rap heavyweights like T.I. and Paul Wall. Countless guest appearances and collaborations later, the 31 year-old rapper recently completed work on his debuted CD entitled “Love, Life and Loyalty”. UnRated Magazine recently got a chance to talk to G.L.C.  to learn about his past, present and future.

How did you get started in music:  Well, I got started at a very young age doing talents shows like in elementary school and park districts. Entered talent shows and I rapped LL Cool J raps, I did original raps, Ice-T raps, I won talent shows and I figured, hey,  I could do is something with this. A few years later met a guy by the name of Kanye West he was making beats. He was like 15 at the time, we were both very young. A friend of mine introduced me to him, said he makes some cool beats, went over to his crib, heard the beats, we had a lot of things in common, became good friends, and we began working together at a young age and still work together today.

 You’re name, G.L.C., stands for Gangsta L. Crisis how did you get your name: I got the name from growing up in a street organization as a kid. I was part of a street organization called growth and development. When I lived in the neighborhood that I lived in, my real name is Leonard and Leonard doesn’t sound real gangsta so they started calling me GL- like Gangsta L. The C, crisis is my rap name, it was my life story- I lost my mom at 12, lost my father at 8 months, I was diagnosed with diabetes at 14, I  just went through a whole lot of hardships throughout my life-I’m not going to say the average person, but 9 times out of 10, if someone had to endure the things I endured growing up, it’s no telling where you may end up.

My life was written off as a crisis they would say he’s not going to be able to do nothing. I took all these negative situations I endured over time and hey look at me now, its not that bad. When people hear the word crisis they assume that it’s negative, bad. I kept my name to show kids you can come from dire situations and street organizations and evolve into something better.

Working with Kanye, had he changed? How does it work, does he just call you and say hey I want to work with you: He and I, during the later part of our teens, we were in a group together called the Go Getters. With that group, we were able to penetrate Chicago radio which was unimaginable at that time for a local artist; we were in rotation on WGCI a Clear Channel station. We broke barriers back then. But the rap thing was moving kind of slow, so Kanye moved to New York, focused on beats, got on and when it was time for him to do his album, he was like GL lets go.  

But even before that he and his mom, they were very instrumental in me growing and developing as a kid. I lived on 87thStreet, it was kind of bad over there, teenagers getting killed, and I was going to funerals like every other month. His mom allowed me and a few other of our friends to go to the suburbs to get away from that, to focus on music and better our lives. Kanye believed in me, in my talent, he wanted to see me grow as well and he kept his word.

When you asked if he changed-yes, with success, it brings about change. You must evolve, it must be a reform. If anyone is being the same as they were 10 years ago, where’s the growth? With success comes responsibility, pressure, wariness, being aware of your surroundings, being judgmental of who you have around you; that’s what success forces you to do.

You’re working with all these artists (John Legend, Bun B, Twista) would you consider these artists your influences? Who are your influences: Coming from Chicago, Twista, Do or Die, Crucial Conflict, Common, artists that came before me, that showed me that you can sound like you’re from Chicago and you could be a Chicago person and not have to rap with different accents and act like you’re from somewhere else to get on.

I also looked up artists out of the south like UGK, Scarface, Eight Ball and MJG, OutKast. Even artists like DMX and Jay Z, artists that just came out and didn’t sound like anything else those are my biggest influences. It’s so easy to come into a game that’s over saturated with the same sound and do what everybody else is doing. When you come with something unique, either they love you or hate you, there’s no in between. Once you come with something unique you’re taking a chance with getting on beyond the music game. It’s different, something that people haven’t heard so there’s nothing that can documented or recorded that can say how people will perceive it, because it hasn’t been done before.

I believe life is about taking risks, taking chances. Everyday when I get up out of bed it’s like rolling the dice, trying to figure out what I’m going to do, get it done and present it to the world and through the grace of GOD, the things I have presented to the world have been very well received. I’m happy right now, life is good.

Your CD that’s coming out is entitled Love, Life and Loyalty. When can we expect hear it: I have a few distribution offers on the table but I haven’t decided who I’m going to go with and that’s because everyday my buzz is growing.  As an artist, you’re eager to come out and eager to have the world hear what you have to offer but I believe in the timing aspect of it all. It’s all about timing.

I’m sitting on a great body of work, but I have to have the right machine behind it, have that bag- that’s that money and you’ve got to have button pushers that like lets make this happen. Once I decide where I want to do distribution and the people are like I have to have that GLC-I have to feel the demand. That’s what I’m in the process of doing now and through the grace of GOD, everything is going accordingly. So hopefully sooner than later.

When the CD is available, what can we expect to hear? I noticed you have a southern influence in your sound and music, have you heard that before: Definitely, living in Chicago, being on the south side as well as the west side,  a majority of the people I’ve  grown up with or anytime I would go to New York, California, any other city, not in the south, people would say you talk country as hell, and I would be like, man, I’m from Chicago.  Just from being on the road, I know that Chicago is the only city in Illinois where people try to stray from their roots. My mom was from West Virginia and my dad was from Mississippi.

When I was a kid my sister sent me to the farm and I would wake up to roosters and I would shoot quail off the phone line and we’d be eating quail that night. Its rooted in me, I’m not trying to run from it. At the end of the day, I’m proud to be from Chicago.  Southern music is what I grew up on, it’s my favorite and I can relate to it, it’s my life. I go to cities like, Houston, Atlanta, Alabama and I feel like I’m home. I’m glad when people hear me they say his sound is like southern influenced, that means my father and mother are still alive and I came from them.

How would you describe the CD: The CD is complete and it is off the chain. It will take you into the life of GLC.  When they hear GLC, I am the epitome of Chicago, I am the voice of the city, the voice of pain, struggle, the voice of the city, visionary of the south side, a man of honor, a man of love, life and loyalty. Stories of love, life and loyalty, my respect for life. How I grew up watching hustlers taking care of their families and kids in the neighborhood. Seeing this guy being the most generous guy I’ve ever met regardless of the negative sides.

I tell stories of love, when you’re in the process of getting money, doing whatever you got to do to make it, you sacrifice getting money, hustling. Working a 9 to 5, punching a clock, doing whatever you got to do to make it.

I recently spoke with a local DJ, originally from New York, and he was surprised by the lack support among local artists, radio and DJ’s. What’s your take on the issue: Well, I feel like speaking on the problem adds to it. At the end of the day if I’m giving energy to that, that situation will only persist and continue to thrive. So what I did was instead of talking down on what’s going on in Chicago and how people don’t work together, I did features with over 100 local artists from Chicago. I don’t’ speak on it, I do what we should be doing, I lead by example. I don’t sit around saying this is what we should be doing.

Hopefully, the example I’m setting, people will follow because they’ll see and say hey here’s a guy whose been on T.V. and in magazines and he comes home and shows love to locals because its home. I was very, very blessed as well as surprised when I came home to Chicago and did a show at the Wild Hare back in May.  I was the headliner of the show and it sold out, people couldn’t get in and it holds 600 people.  I lead by example and look at what the result was I got a lot of love from the city.

I give energy to love as oppose to hate. Love will thrive-and that’s what I’m about-love, life and loyalty-that’s what I’m about. I give people something to be loyal to, some talk about it I be about it and being about it has given me excellent results, some times surprising results.

Since you’ve been in the music business for awhile, what are the good/bad things about the business: Negative things, people tend to sell their souls, as far as living a normal life and having a reserved life, your life is like the Truman Show, living in a scope. You’re on camera all the time.

The good things are that you have the ability to change your life as well as change the lives of people around you and you also have the ability to inspire others to follow their dreams. With my nephews, I instill in them to follow their dreams.  For me, this is all a dream, I was working in a clothing store and hustling, sitting at home bored saying I want to do that.

My nephew and his friend were playing a video game and his friend his name in the game as 50 Cent and I was like man, I want my name to be in a video game. Then, last year, I starred in a game called Blitzed League and I had two records on the game.

You gotta understand, if you believe, you can achieve. I’ve traveled the world, I haven’t joined the service or I didn’t go on an academic scholarship. I felt like Biggie when he said never knew hip hop could take me this far. Performing in countries where English is not their main language and these people are so appreciative, they love you and cry-man, I don’t know what could replace that feeling for an entertainer

People are like man, how you doing this and how you doing that, I tell them I’m a dreamer, I’m living what I dream. It starts with a dream, music has been a very good outlet for that.

Do you consider yourself a role model: I have no choice but to be a role model. That’s why when I do interviews, I’m not talking ignorant. It’s more important issues out here to be addressed. I want to show children its ok to be intelligent, street is cool but it will only get you so far. You’ll be a monster if you take all the things you’ve learned in the streets and apply them to the business world along with an extended and extensive vocabulary. 

Tu-Pac was the most profound speaker of our time and you could understand him, you didn’t need an urban translator. At the end of the day, try to do something that you love and try your best to make sure that it’s not something that’s detrimental to you.

Advice to aspiring artists: Figure out who you are-Do you. Figure out what your strengthens are. I don’t like it when I hear rappers and they have no idea who they are or when I meet them and it’s not the same person. When people talk about things they know nothing about, I know when you’re lying and when you’re lying, you’re insulting my intelligence. Don’t lie to me figure out who you are and do you. It may take some time, hey it did for me.  It didn’t happen overnight.

Upcoming projects: Working on a mixtape with DJ Don Cannon a popular producer from Philly, shooting a video with Mistah Fab out of Oakland for the song “Let the Pimpin Commence”; I have a new single with UGK entitled “Clockin Losta Dollars”. My album is produced by up and coming producers from Chicago, Keezo Kane who co-produced “Big Screen”, a song we did for the Negro League soundtrack, the Trailblazers and XCEL and it features Shawna, Rich Boy, Twista, T-Pain, Common, Kanye, John Legend and Really Doe.  And my website http://www. glcitymusic.com/.

For more information on G.L.C., visit: http://www.myspace.com/glc and http://glcitymusic.com/