Heavy Rotation: DJ Vadim & Friends

one_self_2.jpgBeen peeping the podcasts of Ninja Tune stalwart and beatmaker extraordinaire DJ Vadim these last few days. Go check it out — the mixes are great, and so is the soundclash with beat maestro DJ Krush, and the Soundcatcher release party concert. Also, be sure to cop both last year’s One Self album, Children of Possibility, and this year’s Soundcatcher. They’re both top notch positive hip hop with a conscious edge.

Ild indeni

natasja_t.jpgDet er nu et par måneder siden Natasjas posthumt udsendte danske debutalbum I Danmark er jeg født udkom, og det står på ingen måde svagere, nu tragedien er kommet lidt mere på afstand. Tværtimod. Man aner konturerne af en klassiker. Et album, der med fintindstillet fornemmelse fanger sin tid og samtidig anbringer sig i dens forlængelse.

Således er åbningstracket “Ildebrand i byen” et veritabelt anthem for den danske reggaescene før og især nu, leveret med pondus af en af dens mest vitale veteraner gennem tiden og båret frem af en hårdtpumpet Pharphar-produktion garneret med gashorn. Før havde vi Bikstok Røgsystems fornemme “3 stks tøj”, men det her brænder igennem på et mere grundlæggende niveau. Natasja sender skud til scenens vigtigste spillere og bekræfter sine egne ord om, at det efterhånden skulle være sat på plads, at dansk reggae giver den gas. Pharphar selv giver sangen en bevægende subtekst i hvad der lyder som et posthumt indspillet vers, hvor han opregner hvad der sker i den danske dansehal og forsikrer, at Natasja vil han aldrig glemme.

Linkage: Japanese Film Treasures

Via Dirk, I was made aware of this archive and pointed in the direction of the classic films by Akira Kurosawa they have available for download, entirely legally. Hop to it — Ikiru and Rashomon are full-blown masterpieces, containing some of the great moments of the art form. Sanshiro Sugata is Kurosawa’s first film and an incredibly impressive debut at that. There is the marvelous scene of Sugata, the judo student protagonist, experiencing enlightenment looking at a lotus flower from a pool (pictured), and a stunning showdown sequence with drifting shadows at the end. Stray Dog is a tense big city drama of a conscientious cop, played by the great Toshiro Mifune, looking for his gun which is stolen from him in the first sequence. A great premise, executed with bravour. They Who Step on the Tiger’s Tail is another early work, which I haven’t seen, but now will.

Also, if you haven’t already done so, go download the free PDF of Ozu and the Poetics of Cinema, David Bordwell’s authoritative monograph on that other great Japanese master, Yasujirô Ozu. Bordwell’s one of our great scholars of cinema and a fantastic writer to boot. What are you waiting for?

Rap vs. Rap

Thoroughly entertaining to see hip hop legend KRS-One expound on how he admires Kanye West, but really feels 50 Cent a whole lot more, in this AllHipHop interview from the VH1 Hip Hop Honors show back in October. This is one of the people most fully immersed in hip hop culture, but this really shows how conservative this great innovator has become.

True to form, and invoking his by now classic terminological distinction (“rap is something you do, hip hop is something you live”), he emphasises the importance of originality, but in the same breath stresses the importance of keeping your eye at street level, if what you want to do is hip hop and not just rap. And his example of someone who’s doing this? 50 Cent! One of the worst no-talent hacks to reach the top of the pile in years. An emcee who’s just as much about business as Kanye and the ‘ringtone rappers’ KRS here warmly gives their due as money-makers but dissociates from hip hop. Talking about the ‘competition’ between 50 and Kanye, KRS laments how sales, once again, are used as a measure of success, but, uh Kris, do you remember who started that nonsense, said he would stop recording albums if he ‘lost’, and kept it going right up till the very end?

Diving In and Coming Up: Nick Bertozzi Interviewed

It’s been a busy year for Nick Bertozzi. 2007 saw two new graphic novels out from the New York-based cartoonist, both followed by extensive promotional touring including reading sessions, book signings and panel discussions at various conventions and book stores. Endeavours such as these of course reflect the growing interest in the graphic novel, and the continuous climb of the art form as a whole – and it’s a climb that in no small measure can be attributed to the bold experiments of Bertozzi’s generation.

Having largely discarded both the stylistics and the contents of genre-based comics, the avant-garde of today’s comic book artists have embarked on a seemingly boundless foray into the mechanics of what constitutes great storytelling and great art. Judging from his two new books, The Salon and Houdini: The Handcuff King, 37-year-old Nick Bertozzi seems to find at least part of the answer in historical events.

Rootsman Massive!

Bedre sent end aldrig! Danmarks bedste lydsystem vandt, efter et beklageligt uheld i 2005, endelig den titel de hele tiden skulle have haft, da Rootsman Hi-Fi vandt det andet Danske Soundclash-mesterskab d. 3 november. Ville have postet om det tidligere, men har ligget lidt underdrejet (og gør det fortsat). Hele aftenens program, optaget direkte fra lydpulten, ligger nu online, og er endda blevet opdelt i enkelttracks courtesy min mand GB, så download lortet og nyd lyden! Der bliver fame kogt op til kamp!

Reggae fans, go download this recording of the entirety of the Danish Soundclash Championship, which was held in Christiania, Copenhagen on November 3rd. Apart from being ruffness, it’s a great earshot of the hotter-than-ever Danish reggae scene 2007.

Image showing 2/3 of the Rootsman Hi-Fi Sound System, Ras Money and Marni, taken from their MySpace page.

John Romita Jr. Interviewed

Danish Comics collector and power-enthusiast Henrik Andreasen has just posted a short interview with one of the premier American mainstream artists of his generation, John Romita Jr., over at Sequential Tart. This interview originally ran in Danish in Rackham #5, and was the result of a collaboration between Andreasen and myself, with yours truly providing Henrik with a set of written questions that he took to San Diego in 2002 and used as the basis for the interview. Good to see it being given a new lease on life!

Art from the recently published
World War Hulk #5. Romita in full form, with great Janson inks and spectacular colour work by Christina Strain (plus some schlocky lettering in the sound effects). Pity the script by Greg Pak suffers from such poor plotting.

Hype: Maria Skov!

skov_1_t.jpgSadly, there are way too few female artists on the Danish comics scene, which makes it even more awesome to discover up-and-coming Maria Skov’s work. This girl is going places! A relative newcomer to the medium, she delves into it with a joy and ease that promises great things to come!

This is her new blog which features illustration as well as short comics. Enjoy!