Turn My Headphones Up – No. 6 (’94 Hip Hop)

In this episode it’s all about hip-hop joints that came out in 1994.


Outkast – Call Of Da Wild

The Notorious B.I.G – Everyday Struggle

Redman – Can’t Wait

Pete Rock & CL Smooth – In The Flesh

Digable Planets – Jettin’

Common – Nuthin’ To Do

Warren G – This D.J.

Organized Konfusion – Why

Saafir – Can You Feel Me

The Beatnuts – Hit Me With That

Jeru The Damaja – Brooklyn Took It

Gangstarr – Mostly The Voice

Nas – It Ain’t Hard To Tell

Please leave your thoughts below. You can also reach out via: Email – thebrotherslehman@gmail.com; Twitter – @BrothersLehman; Voicemail – (323) 455-4219.

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The Break – The New Black

In this episode KC, Chris, Toria, Malcolm, Tash, Leisha, Shelby, Darralyn and Jamie discuss the term “New Black”, talking to your kids about race, being culturally black and more.

Please leave your comments and feedback below, or you can contact us via Twitter: @BLACKISONLINE Facebook: Black Is Magazine Email: kc@blackisonline.com Hotline: (323) 455-4219.

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It’s THE JAM! Dilla All Day…

Welcome back to The Jam!
On this episode we discuss the legendary J Dilla. One of the illest musicians, who led the charge of great Hip Hop music from Detroit. Since his passing in 2006, Dilla has also been a bit of a polarizing figure since many people feel he is being praised a bit too much. We discuss our favorite Dilla tracks/beats, the politics of music, and the “what ifs”.
Other topics include: The Soulquarians, how Dilla can help you find a soulmate, the physics of Funk, Napster, and how to appreciate creativity.

Nia Andrews: Colours EP Available Now!

Last year we caught up with singer-songwriter Nia Andrews, and at that time she had completed penning a few tracks on Mark de Clive-Lowe’s critically-acclaimed album, Renegades. However, we knew Nia was at work on her own music project and we are happy to annouce its arrival!

Nia started her career in the music scene as an internationally touring background singer with heavy-hitters such as Janelle Monae, Lauryn Hill, and Common. She has penned vocals for underground phenoms including Blu, Joi Starr and Shafiq Husayn. Now with her debut EP, COLOURS, American singer/songwriter Nia Andrews is ready to take center stage.

From having graced the microphone behind Mary J. Blige or Bruno Mars at the Grammys, to leaving her raw emotion on the mic every month at a speakeasy in Venice or a smoky dive in New York (at the critically- acclaimed live-music event, CHURCH, by founder Mark de Clive-Lowe where Andrews is resident), the Los Angeles native heralds the many colors of her journey on her four-song debut.

Collaborating with Golden Globe nominated songwriter Andrea Remanda and producer Deron JohnsonColours emerged from a sequence of writing sessions between this dynamic trio of very different writers. Together they have created an emotive, unified sound. An avid fan of Joni Mitchell’s lyricism and the arrangements of Charles Stepney, Andrews’ voice divulges her soul, jazz and folk roots, balanced with the lyrical ingenuity of the greats she reveres.

It’s a unique palette of both power and vulnerability; Colours transports the listener with the dreamy world that it paints.

Track Listing:

1. Colours

2. Made in America

3. Notes on a History

4. The Lovers

+ Digital Booklet

Available now via BandcampiTunes and digital outlets worldwide.

The Fall of Black Music – Part I

You probably already have an idea as to where this article is going, so let me get one thing out of the way before I get to the point: I don’t hate all RAP and all Hip-Hop. The positive side of the music of Tupac Shakur has left an indelible impression on me, likewise the music of  Saul Williams, and much of what artists Talib Kweli, Common and some others have to offer. I remember being a young teenager and floating away from my adolescent angst to the reflective notes of Lauryn’ Hill’s “To Zion,” then dancing in my mirror to the rhythm of “Doo Wop,” also off the “Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” CD. I used to scan the radio to hear Aaliyah and Timbaland’s “Are You That Somebody,” (kept it on repeat when I finally got the CD–remember when it was still about buying the disc?) and I’ll be quick to admit that I was a pretty big TLC fan as well. I went through a definite Outkast phase, and have listened to my share of Jay-Z, Dr. Dre and so forth. I certainly know what it’s like to like and love RAP and Hip-Hop, and I don’t want to sound like those who revile it without ever understanding the appeal of the music. I was a kid of the ’90’s, a teen of the 2000’s, and it’s hardly difficult for me to remember how attached me and my peers were to the sounds of our generation.

Having said all this, I was listening day in and day out to Sam Cooke long before I ever remember hearing Ginuwine. And as much as I may have liked The Roots, it’s hard to remember them while you’re blaring Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. In terms of vocal talent, it’s hard to compare singers like Beyonce and Mary J. Blige to the likes of Nancy Wilson, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday (anybody want to put Rihanna and Nicki Minaj up against Aretha Franklin and Patti Labelle?). Obviously people are still aware of the great Motown era groups and artists like The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Smokie Robinson, and of course I could mention  the soulfulness of Al Green and the burning sounds of James Brown. If you dig deeper and go back further of course, you return to the days of song masters like Johnny Mathis, the pioneers of Rock and Roll such as Little Richard, and artists such as Sarah Vaughn and the  unforgettable Nat King Cole, for both of whom competence on the piano was a natural part of their musical arsenal (Nat King Cole was a great Jazz pianist well before he was widely known as a vocalist).

The list of great black singers and musicians from times gone by goes on forever, of course, but it get’s thinner as we come to our modern age of American music, until finally we arrive now at the point where real musicianship starts to look like a lost art. A big part of the reason for that is technological, and that in a couple different respects. On the one hand, with the advent of multitrack recording and drum machines in the ’70’s and 80’s, (along with all manner of synthesizers and artificial musical effects) it became increasingly possible to make music without the hassle of including musicians. So then comes disco, techno, and ultimately House, Hip-Hop and modern Pop. With the advent of these musical forms came the decline of, yes, musicianship generally with respect to popular music, but also a near elimination of the element of live recording in music. You may never have thought about it before, but consider the fact that in the entire history of recorded music all the way through the late seventies, everything you bought on a record or heard on the radio was a live recording of a live performance. There was no other way to make music. Consequently, musicians had to be very good. The tornado that was Jackie Wilson didn’t fake a note of “Say You Will,” didn’t redo a single phrase of the recording. He had to know how to breathe, how to sing the whole song flawlessly. The musicians in the James Brown band didn’t have the luxury of coming to the studio one at a time, recording their tracks by themselves so an engineer could paste them together later. They needed to be fluent in the art of playing together. But in my time an artist like Ashanti can be a plausible singing star because the burden of making quality recordings was not on her.

Of course there is another aspect of the technology dynamic that renders musicianship an optional quality, and that is the nature of our modern media and the importance of image. To be attractive has always been an asset for performing artists, but in the grand old days of American (and Afro-American) music it was not a necessity. Nancy Wilson was beautiful, of course, but that was coincidental…most people who heard her music didn’t know what she looked like. There were no music videos, certainly no Youtube, and unless an artist found his or her way to the Ed Sullivan show or later on to Soul Train or some such venue like that, people either knew their faces from their album covers or not at all. Nowadays attractiveness is almost prerequisite to fame and with female singers particularly. Beyonce is a legitimately talented dancer, and capable of giving a halfway decent vocal performance, but her body is every bit as important to her success. Likewise Ciara and the afore mentioned Rihanna and Nicki Minaj, whose public images are emblematic of the degree to which the “music” industry has been so overtly sexualized…and just how little any of it has to do with music as an art unto its own. I readily admit this is a problem with American music in general. But it is one that hurts the black community even more given the fact that music has long been the most powerful export of black culture…

Gil: A Video Tribute

“The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised, will not be televised, will not be televised.
The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
the revolution will be live.”

Gil Scott Heron(1949-2011); Godfather of  Hip-Hop. Poet. Activist. Bluesman. Jazz musician. Throughout his life, he was uneasily inhabited, but did not quite define, these labels. Instead, he crossed over these categories, forging his own identity while remaining committed to his beliefs and unique sound.  While he may be best known as a spoken word artist, to me, he is Hip Hop. The energy, the art, the verbiage that Gil Scott used is more Hip-Hop than a lot of rap music today. Scott-Heron’s influence over hip-hop is primarily exemplified by his definitive single “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” sentiments from which have been explored and used by various rappers, including Aesop Rock, Talib Kweli and Common. In addition to his vocal style, Scott-Heron’s indirect contributions to rap music extend to his compositions, which have been sampled by various hip-hop artists. Rappers and MCs has have borrowed liberally from Scott-Heron through the years.

Here is just a sample of his greatness, and its use in hip-hop music:


Artist: Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson

Track Title: We Almost Lost Detroit
Album Name: Bridges
Release Year: 1977

Sampled On:

Artist: Black Star
Track Title: Brown Skin Lady
Album Name: Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Black Star
Release Year: 1998
Producer: J. Rawls

Artist: Common
Track Title: The People
Album Name: Finding Forever
Release Year: 2007
Producer: Kanye West


Gil Scott “Comment #1”

Kanye West feat. Bon Iver, Alicia Keys and Charlie Wilson
- “Lost in the World”

Gil Scott-Heron – “Home Is Where the Hatred Is”

Kanye West feat. Common – “My Way Home”

Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson -
”Did You Hear What They Said?”

Gil Scott-Heron – “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”

Common feat. Bilal “6th Sense” (Produced by DJ Premier)


Gil Scott-Heron – On Coming From A Broken Home (Part 1) over Kanye West’s Flashing Lights