Filmmakers create movies. Bloggers report the news and shape public opinion. Explorers travel the globe, seeking out new cultures and sharing experiences. DJs and producers craft beats and tracks using an alchemical mix of audio artifacts and imagination. Rappers fashion rhymes and navigate the cadences of vocal delivery characterized as "flow."
Blue Scholars do all these thingsand a hell of a lot moreevery damn day. First and foremost, DJ/producer Sabzi and MC Geologic are a music group. They do the fundamental things bands have done for decades: Make records and play live shows. But those are just points on a plane, bright stars in Blue Scholars' ever-expanding universe. "It all revolves around using everything at our disposal to be good storytellers," says Sabzi. Chuck D famously likened hip-hop to CNN, but frankly, Blue Scholars make Anderson Cooper and company look lazy by comparison.
Blue Scholars informally call their music "cinema art rap," yet most folks will probably just hear it as smart 21st century pop. The duo is just as likely to take inspiration from the sugar rush of Empire of the Sun's feel-good hit "Walking on a Dream" (check out the "Empire Remix" of "New People") as from a classic Lalo Schifrin soundtrack. The roster of former Seattle Sonics or observations about Fox New commentators may provide the springboard for their next round of poetic musing.
Meanwhile, Blue Scholars are constantly churning out new missives as quickly as the inspiration hits them, disseminated via the Internet. Whether provoked by current events like the passage of Arizona's Immigration Law SB1070 ("Joe Arpaio," credited to Geo's alter-ego Prometheus Brown), or contemplating how the Future went from a sparkling wonderland of flying cars and personal jet packs to a post-apocalyptic wasteland shot in shades of ash and bone ("Paul Valéry"), Blue Scholars react to real events in real timewith music that sounds fresh because it is.
Since 2002, Blue Scholars have been based in the 98118, decreed the most ethnically diverse zip code in America by the 2010 Census. Like the greater Seattle region, that neighborhood embodies the multi-cultural miasma that spawned Blue Scholars, the joining of forces between an Iranian DJ/producer and a Filipino rapper. These are dudes who nourish their bodies with Vietnamese coffee, Ethiopian injera, and steaming bowls of ph. Thanks to music, they have mingled with guests at a party hosted by renown glass artist Dale Cihuly, and conducted workshops at a Colorado juvenile detention center.
"I feel very lucky," admits Sabzi. "So many people are in their own fishbowl, thinking they know what the world is, but never get the opportunity to see anything beyond their immediate environment. We've been fortunate to have had the opportunity to establish real human connections with people we've discovered aren't really any different from us, because music has broken down the superficial barriers that would otherwise keep us apart."
Blue Scholars actively contribute to the global community of artists and freethinkers in myriad ways. Drawing on Jamaican dancehall culture and the increasingly popular medium of artist mix tapes, Sabzi makes the instrumental foundations of all their songs available as individual riddims, to be adopted and adapted by whomever cares to use his beats. Meanwhile, every time they hook up with another artist, be it Seattle rapper Macklemore (Sabzi's reworking of his Emerald City celebration "The Town" extended the shelf life of an already hugely popular joint) or Los Angeles' Bambu, their network expands. New fans find Blue Scholars via new points of entry, and in turn, Blue Scholars discover more fodder for their imaginations.
Towards that end, and meeting more kindred spirits in the real world, Sabzi currently divides his time between New York and Seattle. How has that impacted Blue Scholars' creative process? Not at all. Even as students at the University of Washington, where they first met and began making music together, Sabzi and Geologic were using the Internet as an integral part of their routine. The former would make a beat, upload it to the server, his partner would download it and write rhymes and then they'd record together. They do the same thing today, just across bigger geographical distances.
Since 2002, the duo has become renowned live show veterans, rocking over 400 shows with the likes of Kanye West, De La Soul, Nas, Common, and supporting such acts on tour Zion-I, Hieroglyphics, and the Coup on tour. They've also played labor organizing conferences and youth-run community center shows, the main stage at Sasquatch! (2006 & '08) and Bumbershoot (2006), and in 2007 headlined their own Northwest Hip Hop festival, "The Program," which sold out five nights in a row. Their discography includes the albums Blue Scholars (2004) and Biyani (2007), as well as the EPs The Long March (2005), Joe Metro (2007), BUTTER&GUN$ (2008), and OOF! (2009).
But enough about the past. What are Blue Scholars doing right now?
Find out for yourself at www.bluescholars.com.
Bambu, from the city of Los Angeles, has been making his mark on the Hip Hop scene for almost a decade. His first album, "self untitled..." first saw the light of day on the 10-year anniversary of the LA Rebellion of 1992 and the climb has been forward since. Soon after releasing that first LP, Bambu joined fellow Los Angeles emcee, Kiwi and Bay Area transplant, DJ Phatrick to create the now defunct, Native Guns group. After the disbanding of the group, DJ Phatrick and Bambu continued to do shows around the country and eventually built a reputation as strong live performers. Bambu dropped his follow up solo album, "...i scream bars for the children..." in 2007 and "...exact change..." in 2008. His latest project, "...paper cuts..." dropped at the end of February, 2010 and has definitely solidified the emcee as on of Los Angeles' best. Up next for the politically-aggressive rapper is a mixtape with Hip Hop legend, DJ Muggs on the Soul Assassins imprint. In addition to music, Bambu spends his days with his family and out in the community organizing with People's CORE and Kabataang maka-Bayan, Pro-People Youth. If you happen to come across a flyer with Bambu and DJ Phatrick don't miss the opportunity to see them live.
1. Something More..2. I'm A Dreamer (Feat. Geologic & Thig Natural)..3. Missed Connections..4. Jaded..5. All Right (Feat. Tunji)..6. Take A Trip.. .. .."Not every album has to cut deep, and this EPa side projectisn't meant to be earth-shattering. It does exactly what it sets out to do, which is to be solid, to entertain, and to tide fans over until the next LP (already in the works) arrives.".... ..Katelyn Hackett.., ..Sound Magazine.. .. .."Give this and the other five cuts (all of which are produced by Boston-based duo Two Good Men) on the EP a listen. And then ask yourself whether you think Grynch has defined a way of being that reflects virtue of the kind usually only found in the sermons of a few select MCs, such as Talib Kweli and Cee-Lo?".... ..Kevin Capp.., ..Seattle Weekly.. .. .."As for Grynch, he continues his quest for hiphop honesty in a world that's entranced by the seductive illusions of big names, big money, and glittering girls with big butts. He describes what it's like to be him: a young and hungry rapper at the end of the first decade of the first century of the new millennium.".... ..Charles Mudede.., ..The Stranger.. .. .. .. .. .. .."A vibrant, thoughtful, and diverse record from one of our scene's most promising talentsa document that more than does justice to Grynch's now formidable rep as a lyricist and songwriter.".... ..Larry Mizell Jr..., ..The Stranger.. .. .."Grynch's sophisticated sophomore effort should further cement his reputation as a force in the local hip-hop circuit.".... ..Erika Hobart.., ..Seattle Weekly.. .. .."Self-effacing, no-nonsense lyrics are consistent through Grynch's many styles; "My Second Wind" portrays the King of Ballard as a uniter.".... ..Andrew Matson.., ..The Seattle Times.. .. .."Grynch's work sounds polished, strong and bold in comparison to other hip hop albums I've heard lately.".... ..Lauren Padgett.., ..Seattle Post-Intelligencer..
121 W. Main Street
Madison, WI 53703