Read About the Time B.B. King Played Rikers Island Right After Attica

Categories: Blues, History

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Photo by Andrew Youssef
B.B. King in 2012
Less than two months after the 1971 Attica prison riot, B.B. King played the Rikers Island juvenile detention facility, and Patrick Carr, writing for the Village Voice, was there to document the concert. "When King wound up his performance the prisoners were on their feet stomping and whistling and shouting their applause," Carr said in his piece, the full version of which you can read below.

B.B. King died Thursday at his home in Las Vegas. He was 89. The Times reports he had been under hospice care, though he was still performing up until October 2014.

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Hip-Hop Did Not Begin How You Think It Did

Categories: History

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To hear most people tell it, the history of rap goes like this:

MCs were originally rapping primarily to showcase their DJs. That is, until Sugar Hill Gang put out "Rapper's Delight" in 1979. It was the second rap record of all time, and an enormous hit, proving there was a market for rapping on wax.

From there, Kool Moe Dee battled Busy Bee and changed how rappers could rap, Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel put out "The Message" -- changing what rappers could rap about -- and Run-DMC released "Sucker MCs (Krush Groove 1)," which changed how rap could sound.

At the start of it all, of course, was DJ Kool Herc's 1973 block party in the Bronx, which effectively birthed hip-hop as we know it.

Those are the bullet points, but they don't answer the question: How did rapping get started in the first place?

See also: The History of Rap's Oldest Cliche

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Robert Christgau's Five Favorite Pazz & Jop Essays

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In 1971, the Voice hosted what music editor Robert Christgau then dubbed "the first and last annual Pazz & Jop Critics Poll," receiving 84 ballots (of which only 39 came from what he described as "legitimate critics," or "human beings with more access to print media than a lonely attack on Led Zeppelin III in a high school newspaper in Minnesota, which was one credential proferred") and splitting the results across two music sections. Who's Next won by a wide margin, its 540 points easily topping Sticky Fingers's 332 and Every Picture Tells a Story's 319. The prominence of legacy artists led Christgau to complain of a "creeping auterism" by which "fave raves of yore... are trotted out like so many Frank Tashlins to receive a great art award for their annual wheeze."

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Shitty Band Names: A History

Categories: History

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Timothy Norris
Portugal. The Man
It's widely known that band names, which once were mainly nouns and sometimes even gave you a sense of what the artist's music sounded like, have devolved into an apocalypse of in-jokes, cleverness, punctuation, and strange capitalization. It's almost impossible these days not to look at a festival lineup without feeling dumber for the experience.

But how exactly did the exercise of musical moniker application devolve into a no-man's land of pretentious cacophony? How did we get from The Byrds to 3OH!3? From the Rolling Stones to Fartbarf? Below, we trace the descent decade by decade.

See also; These Are the Worst Band Names in Indie Rock

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Controversy Surrounds Punk Plaque Hanging in Niagra

Categories: History

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Jessica Bard/Courtesy of the New York Hardcore Chronicles
Todd Youth with Agnostic Front in December 1983 at A7.
An unlikely crowd of middle-aged punks gathered in the back room at Niagra (112 Avenue A) on October 9 as part of the CBGB's Festival. Now a bar that attracts a mainstream, post-college crowd, Niagra was, on that night, home to a misfit '80s reunion for NYC punks, complete with Jimmy G. of Murphy's Law as the party's DJ.

Maybe unknown to tourists who take iPhone pics of the Joe Strummer mural on the wall outside, Niagra's back room used to be called A7, a room with a kitchen-tiled floor that was the birthplace of New York's hardcore scene.

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The Oral History of Mexican Summer

Categories: History, Labels

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Just a few of Mexican Summer's Greatest Hits
Over the past five years, Mexican Summer has introduced (or helped to introduce) bands like Best Coast, Washed Out and Kurt Vile. This weekend, to celebrate their five-year anniversary, they're throwing a two-day concert at Pioneer Works in Red Hook, with Spiritualized, Ariel Pink, Lansing-Dreiden, and No Joy all scheduled to play.

That's a pretty heavy list of big-name bands, and it's been an extremely successful five year run. On the occasion of the label's five-year anniversary, we talked to bands and label insiders to get a picture of how Mexican Summer got to where it is. We heard tale of fistfights in Sweden, beers in California, and why Ariel Pink only put out one single through the label.

See also: Meet Mexican Summer's Jess Rotter, Whose Art You've Probably Already Enjoyed

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Cos and Effect: The Bill Cosby Hip-Hop Samples

Categories: History

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MC Bill Cosby
This Saturday, September 7th at the Westchester County Center, comedy legend Bill Cosby will be performing his time-tested classic brand of stand-up. From the stage to the television to on record, The Cos has touched several generations with his many comedic gifts. His impact is clear even on the hip-hop generation, who've expressed their admiration through incorporating snippets of his work into their songs. In honor of Mr. Cosby returning to the area, here are our picks for the most memorable Bill Cosby hip-hop samples.

See also: A Very Long Conversation with Comedian Reggie Watts About Williamsburg, Touring with Conan, and Brian Eno Birthday Parties That Is Totally Worth the Read

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What's Up With Hip-Hop's Obsession With the Suzanne Vega Hit "Tom's Diner"?

Categories: History

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YC the Cynic
Last week, Bronx MC YC the Cynic unleashed his brand-new Oliver Eid-directed video for "God Complex," the debut single from his forthcoming Kickstarter-funded release GNK, produced entirely by Frank Drake. A notable element of the song is YC's incorporation of Suzanne Vega's "Tom's Diner" into his flow. A favorite tune of hip-hoppers for many years, we spoke to YC about his new video, successfully funding his album through Kickstarter, and his opinion on some of our favorite "Tom's Diner"-channeling jams.

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No Bigs, Just a Photo of Cheap Trick Reading Our Cover Story About NYC Metal/Hardcore

Categories: History, Rock

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Well, whatdyaknow? It's Cheap Trick photographed outside the i Heart Radio Theater reading a copy of our cover story this week, The Oral History of NYC's Metal/Hardcore Crossover. If you've not yet read it, you really should. Here, we'll link it a third time. No excuses. Go. Now. And while you're at it, check out these bonus classic photos from the story. Surrender.


See also: The Oral History of NYC's Metal/Hardcore Crossover
, 25 Classic Metal/Hardcore Photos from Louder Than Hell


Meet Music's Next Superstar: Shia LaBeouf

Categories: History

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Shia feelin' some feelings in a Sigur Rós clip
Last week, actor and LSD-enthusiast Shia LaBeouf and synth-pop duo Future Unlimited debuted the gloomy video for "Haunted Love" directed by none other than everyone's favorite Michael Bay leading man. LaBeouf has had many an odd foray into music video. From a thirty-minute musical of interpretive dancing to sad Icelandic piano music, let's look back at some LaBeouf deep cuts and no longer regret that his film Disturbia and Rihanna's song of the same name were not related.

See also: The Top Five Music Videos Directed By Razzie Award "Winners"

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