(Image via Brandi Muffins, because we got firrre.)

Yooo! Iswayski here. Nice to meet you, loyal DA legions. I used to help /rupture out on Mudd Up!. But now that the show is a part of history and fondly remembered by the present, I’m going to use this here space as my new excuse to go hunting for strange and wonderful tunes. I’ll be here once a week from now on, bringing you a collection of heat, wrapped neatly into a fresh blog post for ease of digestion.
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This Saturday I’ll be djing between acts at The Apollo Theater’s Africa Now! Concert. Today, I had an interesting conversation with the Apollo’s director about the different African crowds in New York (last year they had Tiken Jah Fakoly to an enthusiastic crowd of Francophone African Harlemites), got a tour of the building, rubbed the tree of hope, and stood on the stage where every American black performer of significance in the last 100 years has stood. Besides the fact of my inclusion in the symbolic welcoming of a new generation of Africans into the folds of Black American history, touching the log (while the Apollo stagehand watched me unamused) is really all I needed.

Click through for all the info:

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[Simone Leigh video still – Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts as Stark Trek’s Uhura]

Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts’ book, Harlem Is Nowhere, has been nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award. Which is all kinds of awesome. She will be speaking at the New York Public Library in conversation with artist Simone Leigh *tonight*. (Simone Leigh’s solo show at the Kitchen involves a 10ft- tall video of Sharifa as Star Trek’s Lieutenant Uhura, and Old Money just released a new riddim called Uhura in honor of the first black woman in (representational) space — 2012 makes a lot of sense for an afro-astral revival; and remember – the original Uhura, Nichelle Nichols, is on twitter!)

Tickets for tonight’s conversation aren’t cheap but if you’d like to go, use the Secret Discout Code “FUTURE” when ordering tickets online, that’ll knock the price down quite a bit. I don’t call my monthly newsletter LOW INCOME TOMORROWLAND for nothing.

The Harlem Is Nowhere mixtape that Sharifa & I put together for Domus Magazine still bumps – COP THAT ISH NOW IF YOU HAVENT YET

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and thanks to always on-point Venus X for pointing out this great PBS clip with Sharifa and Tavis Smiley.

Watch Author Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts on PBS. See more from Tavis Smiley.

Next Monday, September 10th, I’ll be hosting a very special guest on my WFMU radio show: Venus X of Ghe20 Goth1k! Tune in from 8-9pm to hear Venus discuss shaking up NYC’s party scene with the groundbreaking Ghe2o Goth1k parties, her unique DJ/production approach, and — if we’re lucky — what it’s like schooling Shakira on dance music. I would embed this crazy edit Venus did last week, fusing old skool drum&bass to Islamic chanting, but Soundcloud isn’t happy at the moment, so here’s A$AP Rocky’s Peso — featuring a cameo by Venus. Harlem’s finest takin’ over:

And this Monday night’s radio is now streaming! I was (and remain) under the weather and the music reflects that — soft, strange, a bit dreamy:

Tracklist:

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Seems to me like a nice route through tonight is to begin by catching Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts reading from her new book at the New School [UPDATE: THE NEW SCHOOL IS CLOSED TODAY DUE TO SNOW, READING POSTPONED] and then make our collective way over to Made in Africa — whose special guest DJ, Akwaaba’s BBrave, will stop by next Monday‘s radio show.

Harlem Is Nowhere (the book: excerpt) is out now, two weeks after my Domus mixtape appeared. The New York Times reviewer read her work & couldn’t help but hear music (Auto-Tune no less!):

It reads, in fact, as if Ms. Rhodes-Pitts had taken W. E. B. Du Bois’s “Souls of Black Folk” and Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” and spliced them together and remixed them, adding bass, Auto-Tuned vocals, acoustic breaks, samples (street sounds, newsreel snippets, her own whispered confessions) and had rapped over the whole flickering collage. It makes a startling and alive sound, one you cock your head at an angle to hear.

Here’s a breakout jam from my Harlem Is Nowhere mixtape. The beat is an exclusive from Timeblind, low-slung, spacious, holding momenum in one hand and stillness in the other. Sharifa and I read excerpts from the 1941 edition of Rajah Rabo’s 5-Star Mutuel Dream book.

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This incredible publication listed pages and pages of things you might see, with accompanying 3-digit lottery numbers to bet on if you saw them. The lottery dream book simultaneously quantifies the mundane and wires it into a complex system of hope and mysticism, all with an eye on the money. Money the only thing that moves around a city faster or more completely than its number runners. Illegal uptown gambling created this fantastic by-product, these lean little snapshots of life on the street. This was Rajah Rabo’s landscape of possibilities. And so we receive a strange vision of what one might have seen, seventy years back. In many ways the quotidian is the rarest of all. The thing that gets lost first. So we read it. So we say it.

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DJ Rupture, Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, Timeblind – Rajah Rabo’s 5-Star Mutuel Dream Book

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Last but not least: if you are reading this and own or have access to a yacht, please let me know. We’ll only need to borrow it for a month or two. Thanks!

cross-posted to Mudd Up!

I just finished a new hour-long mixtape, made with writer Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts and inspired by the sounds of Harlem. The project is the second edition of the Cities Mixtape series by Milan-based DOMUS, a magazine focusing on design, architecture and urbanism. This mix is titled “Harlem Is Nowhere”, after Sharifa’s new book which, in turn, borrows the phrase from a 1948 essay by Ralph Ellison. You can stream or download the mix here, and read our write-up, which begins:

Once, a group of tourists were asked what came to mind when they heard the word “Harlem”: some said “music” and the others said “riots.” The connection between the two is a story for another time. This Harlem mixtape is born of our own free associations: For Rupture, Francophone songs sold by scowling Africans along 116th, or old soul and R&B memories being hawked alongside the now-thing bootlegs across 125th; for Sharifa, church sounds tumbling onto the streets and distorted strains of jazz heard from a boombox carted around by a wandering neighbor.

I’m in Washington D.C., here to give a keynote talk at World’s Fair Use Day. Participants include Das Racist, Larisa Mann, the Can I Haz Cheezburger dude, and the woman who runs the U.S. government’s Copyright Office. Assuming this isn’t a RIAA sting, it should be a solid event!

Right before D.C. I finished a new mixtape, made with Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, as part of Domus magazine’s City Mix series. This mix is titled “Harlem Is Nowhere”, after Sharifa’s new book which, in turn, borrows the phrase from a 1948 essay by Ralph Ellison.

She’s presenting the book (and mix!) at the Studio Museum in Harlem tonight. Event info. Sharifa’s a great reader. Domus will make the mix available soon & I’ll write more about it and the book then. HINT: Both Sharifa’s Harlem Is Nowhere and Daniel HernandezDown and Delirious in Mexico City are REQUIRED READING in 2011. Both books will be out soon and they’re both awesome.

Dutty Artz will release Lamin Fofana‘s debut EP What Elijah Said on September 21. Lamin has been steadily working on beats for the past few years, and he’s about to make a public birth.

When we asked him to describe the music, Lamin sent us this sentence: “Yet, he would refer to the Mother Plane, a mysterious space ship with superior beings, giant black gods or something like that, that patrolled the universe, keeping an eye on the devil and ready to rescue Black Muslims from Armageddon.” Sounds like sci-fi, but turns out it’s from the New York Times 1975 obituary (!) for Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad.

Everything is not what it seems, and this music’s mark of greatness is the way it so effortlessly calls for repeat listens.

What Elijah Said EP:

01 Happy 2010 // Dark Days Are Coming
02 “I will admonish you and give you absolution”
03 What Elijah Said // Eye on the Devil
04 Dance In Yr Blood

Artwork: Boy holding fluorescent bulb,  photo by Brendan Bannon, Dandora Dumpsite, Nairobi. 8/29/2006.   Hundreds of trash pickers scavenge the dump for food, plastic, glass, and metal. Areas of the dump smolder from a slow burn of plastics and detritus just under the surface. Local activist have attempted to close the site due to pollution concerns.

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Lamin Fofana  was born in the West African country of Guinea. When the political situation got bumpy, he moved to Freetown, Sierra Leone, where his routine involved listening to Goodie Mob and Organized Konfusion as well as attending Quranic schools/mosques. In 1997 Lamin’s family had to flee worsening conditions in Sierra Leone – losing friends, belongings, documents, a home. They spent several days crossing roads and bridges destroyed by rebels to prevent people from escaping. At the end of the year, Fofana found a new home in Harlem, New York, where he lives today.


Mickey finished his long awaited debut album The Achievement, and it’s coming out later this fall. The project previously referred to as The New Museum – a better album title – but a lot has happened since 2008 – some decent mixtapes and leaks, a Honda commercial, etc. “Paradise”, produced by Harlem’s own Precize, is queasy and there’s a nervousness about the whole thing, but it’s enjoyable.

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Juelz Santana f/ Yelawolf – Mixing Up The Medicine

Juelz Santana and Yelawolf echoing/channeling Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues”. If the rest of Born To Lose, Built To Win (his much-delayed third album– push-backs and title-changes) sound anything like “Mixing Up The Medicine” then it’ll be a decent album, but I doubt that after hearing that awful radio single/standard club number featuring Chris Brown.

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Pill f/ Freddie Gibbs – Run Up To Me

Pill continues leaking out great materials from 4175:The Refill which drops sometime this week — check The Educated Villains. He once again link up with Freddie Gibbs, and each time these two get together, the result is great.

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French Montana dropped  a new mixtape with DJ Drama last week appropriately titled Cocaine Konvicts/Gangsta Grillz. If you have been sleeping on French Montana and his partner Max B, wake up now.  They’re responsible for some of the most interesting mixtapes to come out of New York in 2009.  Beyond the horrific, nightmarish images, violence, drugs and guns— we all like some gun shot sound effects in our rap music, right? The sound here is remarkable, cinematic, moody, and funny.  French Montana was born in Morocco, and grew up in the Bronx.  I came across a footage/trailer for one of his Cocaine City DVDs sometime in early 2008. Montana was pretty much under the radar as an emcee (known more for his DVD business than for his mixtapes, Live From Africa, etc.) until sometime last year when he linked up with Max B (poor Max B is currently holed up in a jail cell somewhere in Hackensack, NJ pending a 75 years or life sentence.) The two began collaborating on songs, both of them rapping and singing over beats by Dame Grease and other less known producers.  Montana and Max released the mixtapes Coke Wave, Mac Wit Da Cheese (Montana), and Quarantine (Max B) this year.  “In The Morning” is from French Montana’s  Mac Wit Da Cheese mixtape and “All My Life” is from Max B’s Quarantine tape — easily two of my favorite rap songs of the year.  The tracks here should serve  introduction to Max & French. Both are at their best on these tracks, in my opinion.  The first leak from Cocaine Konvicts/Gangsta Grillz “Playin’ In The Wind” continues the Coke Wave tradition (Coke Wave 2) brilliant sing-along chorus with great/good enough rap verses.  French Montana recently signed a deal with Akon’s label Konvict Music. If only for a moment Akon would stop popping bottles with models and watching them drink, they’ll do a mixtape title Live From Africa part 2 or something.  Look for French Montana’s album next year, and pray for Max B.

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French Montana feat. Max B – In The Morning

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Max B feat. Mack Mustard – All My Life

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French Montana  – Playin’ In The Wind

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