Busta Takes Center Stage While World Up Rocks from the Side!BY Iliana, July 20, 2012
Busta Rhymes headlined the 8th annual Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival on Saturday, July 14th, riddling an eager crowd when he called for his “two brothers” to come out from behind the stage. If the names Charlie Brown and Dinco D never rang a bell, they would after their well-applauded entrance. These “two brothers” are one half of The Leaders of the New School, a hip hop crew that began in New York City around 1989. Add in Busta and you’ve got two thirds of the New School crew on stage, reunited for the first time since their 1994 split – in front of the crowd’s very own eyes! Pastime collaborates with New School, A Tribe Called Quest, also reunited on stage.
As Busta and the crew sang A Tribe Called Quest’s old-time hit single “Scenario”, a wave of nostalgia pushed through the crowd. Although Busta is a Brooklyn native, New School started on New York City’s very own streets of Uniondale during more humble times. Yes, there was a time when these boys were not the commercialized hip hop beat machines we bow at the presence of today, but when they were mere experimenters. Donned without fancy white lab coats, but meddlesome curiosities, they tested and toyed with new beats and technologies fresh out of the up and coming hip hop sphere.
Busta says “Hello” to his hometown and the Brooklyn crowd
The Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival’s Family Day, held along with the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival’s Main Day, is designed to help the inspired youth that Busta and Charlie Brown once were remain active and creative with old school and new school hip hop knick knacks. Families could also partake in poetry and arts and crafts sponsored by various organizations, while performances by a step team and a family DJ event took to the stage.
WorldUp was there amidst the hustle and bustle, as per usual, teaching their interactive music production workshop, The Living Remix Project. Attending the workshop this year were mostly teens and young adults, as well as young adult mentors from Urban Art Beat. WorldUP’s Director of Interactive Music, Aaron Lazansky-Olivas aka “DJ SpazeCraft” taught interactive improvisational sound design & beatmaking. SpazeCraft used participants voices, live instruments & the Animoog app on the iPad to recombine and create a community piece of music. After, SpazeCraft performed live on the main stage only just 5 minutes after it was created.
Cultural Anthropologist Kesha Young has witnessed The Living Remix Project a number of times and said, “ The ‘The Living Remix Project’ allows children to rap, sing, play instruments or speak their minds. DJ SpazeCraft then samples all of their collective voices and creates a new track. This process of valuing children’s voices and allowing them to express themselves is empowering for the youth and helps them feel connected to a larger culture. This is a great way to include a traditionally marginalized population.”
WorldUp has been involved with the next generation of media creators, guiding them with tools and promoting their ideas and minds to larger communities, whether it be through digital or analog mediums, such as Ableton Live or human beat boxing.
SpazeCraft has been kind enough to chat with us about what went down at this year’s workshop. He talked about the various kinds of technology he uses, to how exactly the music was created. As SpazeCraft says, the process is “like flowers growing from between the cracks of concrete.”
What technologies did you use to engage the youth in learning hip hop at your workshop?
The technology I use varies depending on the actual workshop, but in this particular one I used Ableton Live, primarily, on a Mac laptop. The reason is because it’s extremely flexible; it gives you the opportunity to record individual sound bites and loop them individually. It allows you to record simultaneously different sounds one after the other without even stopping the actual song. It’s engaging for the youth because of these features. You don’t ever have to stop the song unless you want to. In addition to using the laptop, I use an iPad. For this session, specifically a program called Animoog. It’s a synthesizer keyboarder program with a visual graphic. Once you touch a key you see a visual of the actual sound and the wave form traveling through time. You can actually move that graphic and it will change the sounds itself. It’s another engaging way for kids to learn about digital literacy through music making and to see it in a scientific and visual format.
How does the song come about?
Most of the time we are sneaking the sounds in because there is a super huge sound system playing all day. We play music during lulls like flowers growing from between the cracks of concrete. A cypher organically manifested after we laid out the first beat. They started rapping around the sound system, playing instruments, and jamming to what was already started. Some of those young adults were beat boxers as well as instrumentalists and vocalists.I invited them to participate by recording their sounds into the main song. For example, a young lady said, “I have this melody in my head, can I sing it?” Boom! I recorded it and it was in the song. I also recorded a guitarist, then looped it and it was in the song without him needing to play his instrument throughout its entirely. I also encouraged him to do a guitar solo on top of the song. I even got Uncle Ralph McDaniels of video music box (the host of the event) to record a vocal snippet. How do you create a song within the 25 minute time frame you are given?In this workshop we had a time limit to make a song. The whole workshop itself took 25 minutes. It happens a little bit here a little bit there, and towards the end, we recorded most of the sounds and then I literally had to stop the free style cypher in order to save the work and take the laptop up to the main stage. I get their raw sounds and show them how to manipulate and affect it. What they are witnessing is not just them, but a professional artist tweaking and “remixing” their sounds.
I sprinkle my “SpazeCraftian” magic pixie dust and then it becomes something entirely new.
What is the significance in introducing children to this medium?
It’s a way to activate expression. We are providing tools and technology they may not have experience with in order to show them the uniqueness of technology coupled with the soul of the artistry. At the end of the day, however, a computer is only a tool and it will only be as useful as the creativity of the people who are using it. So, we are giving the young people a voice through sound and expression. You don’t necessarily have to create a rap or poem to express yourself or be activated. I don’t expect them to come out as producers, rappers or singers. I want to open them up to the idea of learning something new. Especially because there is no experience necessary to participate in this workshop.
“We are giving the young people a voice through sound and expression.” photo by Elizabeth Allen.
If they don’t become rappers or beat-boxers, what can they take home from this experience?
It provides the youth with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) skills, which is in alignment with 21st Century Standards Learners of the Department Of Education. Schools need to start working with interest-based pedagogy models. We are providing them with an alternative way to learn. Not a textbook, not writing something on the board, not memorizing X, Y, and Z. It’s interactive, whereas most subject matter is learned on your own. In our autonomous learning spaces we are providing them with a group environment so individuals can support each other. Schools are starting to embrace this idea and we are happy to be helping push this student-centric model of interactive learning forward.
Overall, we are helping the education system by offering alternatives to the run-of-the-mill learning environment.
WorldUp’s Director of Education, Trixie Cordova, and Inside Out Coordinator, Hannah Krauth, cheezin’ in front of the camera
To LIKE The Living Remix Project on Facebook, go to http://facebook.com/thelivingremix
Also, if you want to hear some of The Living Remix’s music, go to The Living Remix BandCamp page. The song from this year will be up soon!
For more info on DJ SpazeCraft, visit, http://sohnup.com
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