Album review – Yo La Tengo “Fade” – March 28, 2013

Album review – Yo La Tengo “Fade” – March 28, 2013

“Behind the Beat: Sludge Life” Crowrider – March 28, 2013

“Behind the Beat: Sludge Life” Crowrider – March 28, 2013

Wu-Tang Clan’s GZA Helps Bring Hip-Hip into the Classroom

GZAAs a founding member of one of hip-hop’s most eclectic groups, the Wu-Tang Clan, rapper Gary Grice (aka GZA, or The Genius) has made a career out of pushing at the boundaries of modern music, and of challenging audiences’ preconceived notions about what is to be expected from the work of an urban artist. However, one of GZA’s latest ventures might even throw some hardcore hip-hop fans for an unexpected loop.

During a December interview with popular astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson on Tyson’s radio show StarTalk, GZA expressed a strong interest in science and even impressed Tyson by possessing a very strong scientific vocabulary that was founded on a working knowledge of biology, physics and other subjects. Additionally, during the conversation between the two men GZA mentioned how such knowledge could be used to teach as well as entertain. And as it turns out, the rap icon wasn’t boasting.

Joining forces with Columbia University Teachers College professor Christopher Emdin, who also appeared on the aforementioned episode of StarTalk, GZA has helped create an experiment called Science Genius B.A.T.T.L.E.S. (Bring Attention to Transforming Teaching, Learning and Engagement in Science), which will focus on select New York City students’ creation of “battle raps” that must not only rhyme, but also be founded on solid scientific research. At the end of the semester, finalists in the experiment will be judged by GZA and have the opportunity to see their work published by RapGenius.com.

Watch GZA and Christopher Emdin’s appearance on StarTalk hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson here:

GZA is also putting such theories to practice in his own work. Verses on the rapper’s upcoming album Dark Matter, the title of which is inspired by the scientific phrase for matter that is hypothesized to account for a large part of the mass of the universe, refer frequently to such topics as the Big Bang Theory and feature repeated mentions of the stars, the sun, and the moon.

Whether such topics will be part of the show during GZA’s performance tonight at the Pearl Street Nightclub in Northampton is anyone’s guess. But as a hip-hop ambassador for education through rap, lucky students can rest easy knowing that The Genius is on their side.

GZA performs with openers Ratking, The Professors, and Roc Foxx, March 27, 9 p.m., $20-23, Pearl Street Nightclub, 10 Pearl St., Northampton, (413) 584 – 7771, http://www.iheg.com/pearl_street_main.asp.

For more information on GZA please visit https://www.facebook.com/theGZA.

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“Behind the Beat: Fun For All” Kids On A Hill – March 21, 2013

“Behind the Beat: Fun For All” Kids On A Hill – March 21, 2013

Album review – Various Artists “The Rising Cost of Livin’ High and Lovin’ Hard: A Tribute to Kris Kristofferson” – March 21, 2013

Album review – Various Artists “The Rising Cost of Livin’ High and Lovin’ Hard: A Tribute to Kris Kristofferson” – March 21, 2013

March Madness: Even Metal Guys Like To Ball

With all the “hoop-la” (see what I did there?) surrounding the start of this year’s March Madness tournament, another facet of the third month of the year has flown decidedly under the radar.

Dubbed, “The Month of Metal,” March is also celebrated as a time to appreciate, promote and buy music by metal artists like Metallica, Black Sabbath, Anthrax and more. Select record shops and online stores like Amazon.com are even holding special sales all-month long to encourage metal fans to purchase tunes from their favorite artists, but who realized there was a connection between metal fans/ bands and college basketball all along?

A certain air-guitar playing freshman for the Gonzaga Bulldogs, who are a number one seed in the NCAA tournament, became an online star in December for his actions during a game against Illinois. And who can forget the memorable Guitar Hero ad featuring Metallica and such iconic college basketball coaches as Bob Knight, Rick Pitino, Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski?

Watch the commercial for Guitar Hero: Metallica here:

Sadly, no team from Texas made the big dance this year. But metal and basketball fans alike can still throw up the devil horns with pride as they watch all 68 schools battle it out to become national champion. I know who I’m rooting for. Go ‘Cuse.

Plus, don’t forget to follow the Northeast Underground on YouTube and Twitter:

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Frampton Digs Radiohead

AmoebaCandyLogoSometimes a late-winter snow is a welcome respite. As a soothing comedown from the post-St. Patrick’s Day festivities or a restorative break from the post-SXSW music overload, Winter Storm Ukko has done a service today by allowing at least this writer a day of relative peace, albeit one that comes with a little bit of shoveling.

So, fresh in from the cold and equipped with an even fresher cup of coffee, just how has the Northeast Underground been spending the past few work-free hours? By listening to other people talk about their stuff of course.

Checking out the YouTube channel for the independent chain of music stores Amoeba Music, in particular the “What’s In My Bag?” series of segments, has been a frequent hobby of mine ever since I first learned about the videos. And being all tucked in on a snow day, what better time to comb through the playlists to learn more about the shopping predilections of a selection of music stars and other celebrities?

To wit, did you know that Peter Frampton digs Radiohead and that his daughter Mia is a big Jimi Hendrix fan?

Watch the video for the Amoeba Music’s “What’s In My Bag?” featuring Peter and Mia Frampton here:

Other trivia nuggets gleaned from watching “What’s In My Bag?” are too numerous to mention. But that’s only half the fun of watching the videos. The other half is discovering new groups, who may share your own taste in music and movies. So if you’ll excuse me, I just have to check out what the Canadian electronic band Holy Fuck has in its bag today. Here’s hoping for some songs about Mounties.

To learn more about Amoeba Music please visit http://www.amoeba.com/.

Plus, don’t forget to follow the Northeast Underground on YouTube and Twitter:

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