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Archive for the ‘Music Performance’ Category
Freeway; Kosha Dillz
New Jersey native Kosha Dillz would never be mistaken for the guy Mos Def was referring to when he rapped the now infamous line, “some tall Israeli is running this rap shit.” Despite his Jewish wink-of-a-stage name, Dillz is not that tall — nor is he cashing in on hip-hop on the same plane as former Island/Def Jam exec Lyor Cohen. Not yet, anyway. The closest the unsigned MC with a penchant for rhyming in Hebrew has probably come to seeing a fat a$$ check is when he toured the Czech Republic last year — get it, Czech Republic — with former Roc-A-Fella rapper and practicing Muslim Freeway. Though the two come from opposite sides of the religious aisle, they were both there to represent hip-hop — as they will again on the HipHopDX stage at this year’s A3C Fest. With the cross-cultural connect already established, CL eavesdropped on a conversation between them in preview of the show.
Kosha Dillz: I actually had grown up listening to you when I was about 18, 19 and it’s kinda funny because as a teen, I had come from more of a street life, too. We were listening to Freeway, doing whatever we were doing in New Brunswick, N.J., and then I had gone away and done time. Then I came out as Kosha Dillz and I became this sort of Jewish rapper, kind of iconic figure for Jewish kids. And Freeway, you’ve been one of the more successful rappers that converted to Islam and traveled to Mecca. And now we’re doing a show together and having this interview. So I just think that’s kinda ill.
Freeway: Yeah, definitely.
KD: What made you make the switch from your old life to your current life?
F: Well, you know I’m from Philadelphia and it’s basically a predominantly Islamic community that I grew up in. My mother was Christian and my father was in something kind of like a cult — it was this thing called the Nation of Alkebulan. It was this church where we talked about the betterment of black people, you know. So I was raised on that. Basically my father was the man of the household, so we had to do what he said to do. But once I was old enough, I explored religion I realized Islam is the religion for me.
KD: Are a lot of people reaching out to you as far as you becoming more publicly visible the longer you stay with it?
F: It’s people that know about me being Muslim that follow my music, and it’s people that follow my music that aren’t aware I’m a Muslim. It depends on how deep they listen and how much they observe my music, you know. But I do get people that say they’re happy to see me doing what I’m doing, and I do get people that say I need to leave that music alone. So it comes from both angles.
KD: I went to Jerusalem to learn how to Yeshiva — kinda like when you went out to Mecca and made the Hajj, Jewish kids go and study with rabbis and scholars and that’s a good place for me to create a lot of cool music in Israel. Is there any place like that that you might go, like take six months off to go study?
F: I definitely have plans to go back to Saudi Arabia and perform another Umrah and a Hajj. And definitely, I’m sitting down and studying with some people.
KD: Do you think you’ll record out there?
F: Oh naw, I don’t think I’ll be doing any recording out there. The thing that I do when I’m out there is I try to talk to the kids in that country and let them know how blessed they are in the Holy Land. ‘Cause a lotta kids over there look at the things we’re doing over here and think that it’s better than what they’re doing. When, in all actuality, it’s better where they’re at, ’cause they’re right there in the Holy Land where the Kaaba is, they’re in the land where we pray to, they’re in the land where all the scholars are — whereas we have to travel 15 hours on a plane to get over there, you know what I’m sayin’?
KD: For sure.
F: Do you feel like you’ve got more to prove to fans who might prejudge you based on what they see?
KD: Yeah, I just don’t think that Jews have had the largest success at being dope MCs. I mean, [we] had MC Serch and [we] have the Beastie Boys. I kinda have a lot of barriers, but I think persistence, commitment and perseverance is something that I want to [use to] prove myself. I’ve always been in that boat — always being doubted when I step into the arena.
F: Yeah, that’s like me. When I first got in the game I was counted out. They told me wouldn’t nobody want to hear a whole album of my raps cause my voice is annoying. I heard all kinds of stuff: Like I was the first rapper with a beard, young guy with this, like, weird Islam — it’s a lot of stuff that I’ve overcome, so I feel you.
KD: I always like the odd-ball-out because I’ve always been the odd-ball-out. I was at Rock the Bells and RZA brought me on stage and people were backstage thinking I was like his lawyer or something. So it’s always like something to prove. Do you think you would ever go and study in Israel, because the Golden Rock is out there and it’s the third holiest site for Muslims out in Israel?
F: Definitely, if the opportunity presented itself.
KD: I think it would be really cool. Everyone really knows you out there because Israel’s really big on that level of hip-hop. You would be the most prominent figure from hip-hop and Islam to study there, so I think that’d be a really cool bridging the gap, and positive even for Israel.
F: That’s what’s up, man.
KD: Have you had a lot of Jewish friends, like just around the way?
F: In Philly it’s not really a lot of Jewish people. In my hood it’s either you’re Christian or you’re Muslim. I mean I’m sure it’s Jewish people there, but they’re not on the forefront like that so I didn’t really have too many Jewish friends growing up.
KD: Well I’d love to invite you over for a Shabbat dinner or something like that when you come out to L.A. If there’s anything you want me to find out for you while [I'm] in Israel, if I can help you get out there with some of the Muslim dudes — [the rapper] Shine’s out there studying, so we could get the whole thing going on, you know.
F: Definitely, I’m open to it so we’ll do it.
KD: Freeway, man, let’s build. Let’s try to bang out a joint and shock the world, you know.
See full schedule of A3C Hip Hop Festival performances, panel discussions and demos atwww.a3cfestival.com.
Have you heard of Jonny Lang? If you haven’t you are going to be blown away by his talent. I was able to photograph him at The House of Blues in January of this year. At only 30 years he has accomplished more than most do in a lifetime. I was stoked when I was contacted by his manager two weeks ago who said that Jonny loved one of the photos I took of him and that they wanted to purchase the photo. It is great to have people of this caliper appreciate and pay for my work and it was just last year I sold some images to RCA/Sony music label for a different group.
Jonny came to town last week where he performed at Red Butte Gardens. I was asked to shoot the concert and guess what everyone was wearing? A lanyard with my photo of Jonny on it for his official tour image! They told me as soon as I signed the contract they made the tags and are getting ready to use the image for Jonny’s official glossy as well! CHEERS!
Jonny Lang’s Bio
Jonny Lang started playing the guitar at the age of twelve, after his father took him to see the Bad Medicine Blues Band, one of the few blues bands in Fargo, North Dakota. Lang soon started taking guitar lessons from Ted Larsen, the Bad Medicine Blues Band’s guitar player. Several months after Lang began, he joined the Bad Medicine Blues Band, which was then renamed Kid Jonny Lang & The Big Bang.
The band moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota and independently released the album Smokin’ when Lang was fourteen. Lang was signed to A&M Records in 1996. He released the critically acclaimed multi-platinum Lie to Me on January 28, 1997. The next album, Wander this World was released on October 20, 1998 and earned a Grammy nomination. This was followed by the more soulful Long Time Coming on October 14, 2003. Lang also made a cover of Edgar Winter’s “Dying to Live”. Lang’s newest album, the gospel-influenced Turn Around, was released in 2006, and most recently won Lang his first Grammy Award.
In more than ten years on the road, Lang has toured with the Rolling Stones, Buddy Guy, Aerosmith, B.B. King, Blues Traveler, Jeff Beck and Sting. In 1999, he was invited to play for a White House audience including President and Mrs. Clinton. Lang also makes a cameo appearance in the film Blues Brothers 2000 as a janitor. In 2004, Eric Clapton asked Lang to play a the Crossroads Guitar Festival to raise money for the Crossroads Centre Antigua.
Does the name Vanilla Ice bring back memories of a time filled with fluorescent clothing, large hoop earrings, peg legged stone washed jeans, and of course big, big bangs? Well, don’t be fooled into thinking that Vanilla Ice is stuck in the 90′s. Yes, he is back and but with his come back he is not singing rap…Vanilla has a cool new sound. I think Vanilla is a wonderful performer…but what is he like backstage? Even cooler. Yep, he is one down to earth guy who puts everyone around him at ease. Enjoy the photos and the slideshow, but don’t fooled into thinking that “Ice, Ice Baby” is the only song Ice will be known for. Check out his new stuff here.
Here is a video from the night I shot Vanilla Ice performing. (You can see me in the bottom right hand corner of the frame photographing the show!)
Third Eye Blind is another group I was able to cover at Candlelight Serenade. I am sure most of you will recognize them as a really popular group in the 90′s. Also, Abraham Millet, the bass player for the band is really cool! Once again, thanks to Michael Mangum, the director of photography for the event, for asking me to be the backstage photographer with an all access pass for the day. Enjoy the slideshow!
I have a new favorite artist. Her name is Priscilla Ahn. One of the things that is so great about this girl is that she has become a star just by traveling around the country in her car with her guitar, harmonica and of course her haunting voice. One of her songs has touched me to the core, and I could NOT believe I had the opportunity to photograph this down to earth musician. I was asked by Michael Mangum, who was director of photography for Candlelight Serenade , to work as the backstage photographer with an all access pass for the day. Michael is not only one fantastic photographer, but has also become a very dear friend. To top off the coolness of the day, Nathan Pickett Films was also there as a videographer. He is putting together a killer promotional video for me and I am STOKED to share it with you. Patience dear ones, Nathan is wrapping up an insane wedding season, so as soon as it is ready you know I will post it! For the time being, enjoy the slideshow!
Nathan Pickett and Me capturing Priscilla Ahn on stage. Photo courtesy of Michael Mangum.
Photo courtesy of Michael Mangum Photography
What can I say? I am a huge Posner fan. This is the second time I have been able to photograph him. Go here to see the first set of photos. I was THE HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHER for this V.I.P. event. Make sure to check out 3Four Group and all of the cool events they have lined up. Chances are you will see me there as the photographer! Enjoy the pics!
I was one of four photographers with media credentials for Snoop Dogg’s concert in Park City, Utah this year. I have found that most people either love or hate him. Either way, there is no argument saying that he is a huge superstar, and I was there as a photographer for the event. Enjoy the slideshow!