The year was 1968. In Harlem and all over the world an uprising was occurring due to the major events that had taken place earlier in the decade. For African-Americans, it seemed like all hope had been lost. All of our prominent leaders had been either erased or shot down by mysterious forces.
Enter The Last Poets: A talented yet enraged group of young musicians and poets who with their politically-charged raps were on a mission to raise African-American consciousness by any means necessary! Although laced with serious lyrical venom, The Last Poets’ impact on pop culture alone would resonate for decades to come and would sow the early seeds for what would later become the juggernaut we know today as Hip-Hop music!
To call yourself a musician or an artist in today’s world and not be aware of The Last Poets and what they did for the music culture and American culture—period is an atrocity (in my opinion). You better do your research! And with all that is going on in the world right now, this is the perfect time to do it!
The Last Poets dropped their groundbreaking self-titled debut album in 1970 with very little promotion and marketing. However, due to the buzz that the group had already achieved from their peers in the music industry as well as in the streets, the album would go on to do well. ‘The Last Poets’ classic debut album forever changed the musical landscape and broke ground for spoken-word artists world-wide.
On May 19th, 2020 @ 7pm EST, we will be celebrating The 50th Anniversary with an epic livestream event! Video Music Box, UHHM and Seeds of The Last Poets presents: “Bridging the Gap: An Evening of Conversation w/ The Last Poets.” The virtual event hosted by legendary VJ Ralph McDaniels of Video Music Box will feature appearances from Rakim of Eric B. & Rakim, Chuck D of Public Enemy, Chubb Rock, Doug E. Fresh, Jessica Care Moore, KRS-1, Black Thought, Jadakiss and many more! You don’t want to miss this!
Just hit the link below to reserve your tickets for next Tuesday’s epic livestream event and enjoy the show! -xoxo #BrooklynGirlCode™ ✊🏾🖤🎵🎶
“Now when freaks get dressed to go out at night
They like to wear leather jackets, chains and spikes
They wear rips and zippers all in their shirts
Real tight pants or fresh mini skirts
All kinds of colors runnin’ through their hair
And you could just about spot a freak anywhere
But then again, you could know someone all their life
But might not know they’re a freak unless you see them at night, ’cause
Whodini who began to make a name for themselves in the music industry with their pumped-up stage shows and funkadelic wardrobe consisted of main lyricist Jalil Hutchins, co-vocalist John Fletcher (a.k.a. Ecstasy) and DJ Drew Carter (a.k.a. Grandmaster Dee). Although the duo released their self-titled debut album the previous year in 1983 which also featured the Halloween-themed song “Haunted House of Rock,” the group didn’t get the response they expected until the release of Escape one year later. Escape proved to be a fan-fave and would go on to sell one million copies in the U.S. alone! Whodini would also go on to set the trend for Hip-Hop artists being able to perform in large stadium venues after helping pioneer the Fresh Fest tour. The first Hip-Hop tour to play in a large colliseum nationwide.
Later on Whodini’s music would go on to be sampled by Hip-Hop mega stars Will Smith, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Nas and even the late Tupac Shakur. Whodini proved that they were a force to be reckoned with not just in Hip-Hop but all genres of music! Check out the video for “Freaks Come Out At Night” below and let us know when you catch a young Jermaine Dupri showing off his best break Dance moves!
“Nobody is making Soul music today. “Soul” meaning music from the soul. We consider this type of music “vintage music” because this is the music of the past and this music made you feel good. We’re creating this type of music right now. So, we’re the babies of the vintage music. We’re the Vintage Babies!” -DJ Dummy
If they’re not serenading the Sundance Film Festival crowd or performing for screaming fans at the popular Rockwood Music Hall in New York City, then you can catch the Vintage Babies somewhere making beautiful, compelling music that speaks directly to your spirit! Last month, Brooklyn Girl Code had the chance to sit down and speak with the Hip-Hop Soul duo consisting of Brooklyn’s own DJ Dummy and West Baltimore chanteuse Maimouna Youssef. Collectively, Maimouna and DJ Dummy have worked with several of the music industry’s elite including Common, Kanye West, Talib Kweli, De La Soul, Mos Def, DMX, Onyx, Das EFX, Raheem DeVaughn, The Roots, J. Cole, Trigga tha Gambler, Smooth tha Hustler, Group Home and many others. The duo recently spoke to Brooklyn Girl Code about Soul music, misogyny in Hip-Hop, what it was like being able to experience the Golden Era of Hip-Hop first hand during the early nineties and of course their self-titled debut album. The Vintage Babies are on a mission to save Soul music and we are here for it all!
BKGC: My first question is for Miss Maimouna Youssef. Do you see your growth as an artist from your 2011 album Blooming to your current release Vintage Babies?
Maimouna: My approach as a writer for sure, I feel like I’ve grown a lot. A lot of the songs for the Blooming I had written years before it had even come out. So, this is a more mature version of myself for sure.
BKGC: How did growing up in West Baltimore contribute to your music style?
Maimouna: That’s definitely where I learned to rhyme and understand just regular coming-up in the ‘hood politics and just how to relate to other people. I grew up in a house and my parents are the ones who put me on to Hip-Hop. My dad always listened to Public Enemy and my brothers always listened to Wu-Tang. So growing up they were the soundtrack of my life until I started buying my own music. And I can’t forget those Baltimore club tracks, too (laughs)! So, just the experience within itself.
“Misogyny is a part of American culture. You see how many people are being brought to the pulpit right now in every area from politics to journalism? The music is a reflection of the community. So, it’s (misogyny) in the fibers of this country.” -Maimouna Youssef
BKGC: Listening to the album it’s obvious that you’re big on misogyny in Hip-Hop. What can be done to change this? It seems like it’s in the fabric of the music.
Maimouna: I wouldn’t even say it’s in the fabric of the music. I would say it’s in the fabric of the culture. Misogyny is apart of American culture. You see how many people are being brought to the pulpit right now in every area from politics to journalism? The music is a reflection of the community. So, it’s in the fibers of this country. I’m sure it was brought over from Europe because at that time women were seen as the same as cattle. The first steps are really acknowledging that it’s a problem because if we don’t acknowledge it as a problem then we perpetuate the problem. Women can perpetuate misogyny. If they promote these type of misogynistic ideas to their sons then their sons become those type of people who feel like it’s okay to disregard or degrade women. So that’s what can be done about it. We can stop acting like it doesn’t exist and that it’s not a real problem and retrain ourselves and then our children.
BKGC: So, based off of that who is your favorite female Hip-Hop artist?
Maimouna: Um, I gotta say Lauryn Hill. You know I came up on Lauryn Hill. It was like God, my mom and then Lauryn.
BKGC: (laughs) In that order!
Maimouna: Yeah, ’cause you know my mom is a singer, too. She’s really the one that taught me to sing. I can’t even say I look at it like female emcees. I like who I like in terms of emcees. So, I would just say my favorite emcees who have personally effected my life are Lauryn Hill, Andre 3000, Nas, Jay-Z and KRS-One. KRS-One had a huge impact on my life as a child. So, yeah I would say those artists probably had the biggest influence on me as an artist.
BKGC: Do you and Common currently have something in the works?
Maimouna: We just did a show recently in Chicago. I worked with him on some writing for his last album and he’s also on the Vintage Babies album.
“I love being in the studio because I like to create what’s in my soul at that moment.” -DJ Dummy
BKGC: Okay so now I’d like to ask DJ Dummy some questions. Hi DJ Dummy.
DJ Dummy: How are you?
BKGC: I’m good. I didn’t know your career spanned so many years back. I can’t believe you worked with Group Home. That’s like the era of Hip-Hop that I’m from. Group Home opened up the flood gates for so many of the nineties Hip-Hop groups. What was it like working with Group Home? Were they the first artists you actually worked with back in the 90’s?
DJ Dummy: The first tour I ever went on was actually with Group Home. It was an experience because I was only 18 years old. I’m getting to travel the world with Group Home and yes that was like that era of Hip-Hop that I love so much with the Pete Rocks, the (DJ) Premiers, the Rzas. Those producers were killing the Hip-Hop game. Every record was made by them. So, to be around Group Home who were affiliated with Gang Starr at the time is how DJ Premier became one of my mentors. It was truly amazing to witness that at that young age.
BKGC: How did you get involved?
DJ Dummy: Group Home was on tour with Onyx and Das EFX and my brother was Onyx’s DJ, DJ LS One.
BKGC: Oh! DJ LS One is your older brother and he’s the one who brought you into the game back in the early 90’s?
DJ Dummy: Yes.
BKGC: Nice! So what do you enjoy doing the most? Battle deejaying, club deejaying, concert deejaying, directing music, or being in the studio?
DJ Dummy: It’s all different loves. I love being at the club because I love the fact that I can control anybody’s mood at any given time. If you’re having a bad day at work and you hear me deejaying at a party then you’re going to forget about that whole bad day you just had.
I love being in the studio because I like to create what’s in my soul at that moment. No matter what writer I’m with. Whether I’m doing a Hip-Hop song or an R&B song, all my tracks are stories already within itself without lyrics. I always make beats like that. Being in the studio is my outlet for my personal soul. As far as being on stage at a concert, I love hearing the live aspect of what I just created. I can’t say I love one more than the other. So, those are the reasons why I love my profession.
BKGC: So out of everyone that you’ve worked with, who was your most memorable?
DJ Dummy: Back in November at the Rockwood Music Hall performing with Maimouna.
“My top five artists? Number one is Pete Rock, by far number one. Then I would have to say DJ Jazzy Jeff, Big Daddy Kane, Jay-Z and Andre 3000.” – DJ Dummy
BKGC: Yes. That was an amazing show. I’m glad I was able to attend. Just like I asked Maimouna, who would you consider your top five most influential artists? The ones who inspired you the most to get into music and stay involved?
DJ Dummy: My top five artists? Number one is Pete Rock, by far number one. Then I would have to say DJ Jazzy Jeff, Big Daddy Kane, Jay-Z and Andre 3000.
BKGC: How did the both of you originally connect because it seems like it’s a perfect mesh. How did you guys come together and decide you wanted to form a group?
Maimouna: We met on tour. I was on tour with The Roots, he was on tour with Common. We always ended up on the same tour at some point. Plus, DJ Dummy had a radio show that he let me co-host with him and just act a fool on!
DJ Dummy: That’s what really started our real vibe connection. My morning radio show. The way that we vibed off of each other you would’ve thought that we were already a group and then I’ve always known Maimouna to be one of the most incredible singers that I’ve ever heard. I knew that she could rhyme her ass of as well! So at first, I had her doing work with other people and then I said you know what… “Let’s make a mixtape together!” It was all Maimouna’s idea to make the mixtape. Just the vibe from the mixtape made me want to create more music with her.
BKGC: Divine intervention. That’s what it sounds like to me. Maimouna, how did you initially get involved in music?
Maimouna: I recorded one song with Raheem Devaughn‘s producer Omar and then one of my high school teachers connected me with a publicist who connected me with James Poyser of The Roots and I started working with him and that’s how I got to go on tour with The Roots.
BKGC: How’d you guys come up with the name “Vintage Babies?”
DJ Dummy: That was the brilliance of Maimouna. It’s definitely a sound. Basically, what’s missing today is the soul from all of music. Nobody is making Soul music today and not “Soul” music meaning R&B. That’s not soul. “Soul” meaning music from the soul, emotional music. We consider this type of music “vintage music” because that is the music of the past. That music made you feel good. Even a song like “What’s Going On,” by Marvin Gaye, the way he sung it, it made you feel good. That’s Soul music. So, me and Maimouna came up with that. We’re creating this type of sound. We’re the young ones coming up creating this music right now. So, we’re the babies of the vintage music. We’re the Vintage Babies!
“Me myself, I’m working on a book. A guide for young women getting into the music business. Being a female band leader and what comes with that and just being a girl from Baltimore who’s touched every continent and what that looks like.” – Maimouna Youssef
DJ Dummy: 2018 is going to be more of a focus on the Vintage Babies. Both of us will be working with Common.
Maimouna: Me myself, I’m working on a book. It’s kind of a guide for young women getting into the music business. Like all the things I wish I would’ve known fifteen years ago. Lessons and advice that I’ve been given along my journey. Being a female band leader and what comes with that and just being a girl from Baltimore who’s touched every continent and what that looks like.
“I could’ve went with the biggest artist and I chose not to because I don’t like what they stand for. I’ve been working on tour since ’95. So, we’re talking 22 years now and this is all because of decisions that I’ve made. No, I’m not on the front cover of any magazines. But, my career has sustained and after 22 years I’m still here. Blessed.” – DJ Dummy
BKGC: This next question is for DJ Dummy. What advice do you have for young up-and-coming artists coming into the music industry? It’s not a glamorous industry. What advice do you have for the future Kendrick Lamars and J. Coles as far as staying involved and not giving up?
DJ Dummy: It sounds cliché, but I’m a prime example of staying true to yourself. I’ve been asked to go on tour with many artists. But, I don’t like their music so I didn’t go. I didn’t just take the check and go. Every artist that I’ve been on tour with or worked with, I was a fan of them. So, that goes to other rappers and other producers. Don’t try to make that hit record just because it’s popping right now. I could’ve went with the biggest artist that’s popping right now and I chose not to because I don’t like what they stand for. I’ve been working on tour since ’95. So we’re talking 22 years now and this is all because of decisions that I’ve made. No, I’m not on the front cover of any magazines. No, I’m not getting any producer of the year awards. But, my career has sustained and after 22 years I’m still here. Blessed.
BKGC: Any last words for the people?
Maimouna: Just buy the album. Don’t bootleg it. Don’t just stream it. Buy the album y’all!
DJ Dummy: Make sure to follow us because this is just the beginning and it’s going to be something so much bigger. We’re trying to make music that we know people need. There is a need for a certain type of music right now.
BKGC: Yes, your music is very spiritual. There’s no question about the spirituality that is present in your music. Your music is important!
BKGC: Thank you guys so much for taking the time out to speak with me. I wish you all the best in 2018. 2018 is going to be a big year for the Vintage Babies!
Check out the Vintage Babies latest self-titled debut album here and follow them on Instagram @thevintagebabies for new music and upcoming show dates.
Have you ever listened to TLC’s mega hit “Waterfalls?” Have you ever played your Stankonia CD by OutKastso many times that it just completely stopped working? Perhaps you’ve sung En Vogue‘s 1996 hit “Don’t Let Go (Love)” or Xscape‘s 1995 song “Keep It On The Real” at the top of your lungs so high that you completely lost your voice? If you’ve found yourself doing any of these things then more than likely you’re a fan of legendary Atlanta production trio Organized Noize. Organized Noize which consists of Rico Wade, Ray Murray and Sleepy Brown have been producing some of your favorite hits since the early 90’s. This past May 5th, the trio released their first collaborative self-titled EP, Organized Noize. The EP features appearances from Atlanta’s own 2 Chainz, Big Boi, Cee-LoGreen, Joi and others. Although the album only consists of seven tracks, Organized Noize did an excellent job of getting their musical point across. Consciously aware songs like “We the Ones” and “Why Can’t We” that tackle all the political and cultural tensions currently taking place in America in addition to psychedelic tracks like “Kush” and “Awesome Lovin’” where the trio show off their trademark sound would give any music lover a musical high. I had the huge opportunity to interview Organized Noize last week during one of their press days. We spoke about the group’s upcoming projects, their 2016 Netflix documentary The Art of Organized Noize and some other things.
Speaking with the three young men, you’re initially thrown back by their humility. I myself didn’t know Sleepy Brown was even a producer. All these years I assumed he was just a background singer/hypeman for legendary hip-hop duo OutKast. Many people are used to seeing Sleepy Brown alongside OutKast in some of their more popular music videos like “So Fresh, So Clean” and “The Way You Move.” So, after finding out Sleepy Brown was responsible for producing all this awesome music, I was truly impressed. However, after speaking with him it makes perfect sense. Sleepy Brown’s father, Jimmy Brown was also involved in music and was a lead vocalist in the 1970’s funk band Brick. Brown also credits his dad for being a huge inspiration in his musical career. Although Brown is often compared to the late great hip-hop artist Nate Dogg because of their similar jazzy, melodic song hooks, he tells me he doesn’t mind the comparisons at all and is actually honored. As far as musical influences, Sleepy Brown says Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes and the Commodores are his top three faves. Pretty decent top three!
Next up is Rico Wade who serves as a leader for the group and is also the most outspoken of the three. Rico Wade who can be seen wearing a mask quite often these days says that the mask represents his evolution in music and the group’s alternative style that is well known all over the world. When I ask Rico Wade what initially drew him to hip-hop music, he says that watching the video for “Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugarhill Gang and classic cult movies like Breakin’ and Krush Groove made him love the music and culture. Well thank goodness he decided to watch those films because without Rico Wade there would be no OutKast, Goodie Mob, Joi, YoungBloodZ, Slim Cutta Calhoun, Future and many others.
Rico Wade is the one who can be blamed for facilitating all these artists in his mother’s basement back in the early 90’s which is how the Dungeon Family got the idea for their name. Rico Wade was the one who gave all these talented people a safe place to express their feelings through hip-hop music. And since no good deed goes unpunished, the Dungeon Family eventually went on to sell 75 million plus records under Wade’s guidance. No big deal! Music Executive L.A. Reid also credits Rico Wade for introducing him to hip-hop music.
When I ask Rico Wade who his top three producers of all time are he names Quincy Jones, George Clinton and James Brown. Go figure since OutKast’s classic 1994 debut album Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik pretty much served as the group’s Thriller album in that it catapulted them to a much higher level in their music careers. When I ask the group what it was like producing and creating Southernplayalisticadillacmuzikback in the early 90’s and if they knew that the album would take off like it did, Rico Wade responds:
“We had to earn our respect. It was a time when Nas‘ song “One Love” (off his 1994 debut album IIImatic) and Raekwon were getting all the airplay on the radio. People weren’t used to hearing rappers with a southern dialect over hip-hop tracks. So, we had to convince the New York DJ’s to play our stuff.”
Wade’s perseverance paid off and OutKast went on to not only find a place amongst hip-hop’s elite but amongst all of music’s elite. But, it didn’t happen over night. Rico Wade’s influence was heavy and even spilled over to his close family members. A young hip-hop artist right out of Atlanta that went by the name “Future” wanted to excel in music like his older second cousin. Future went on to become a top selling hip-hop artist as well. The only negative repercussion of Future’s success is the heavy glamorization of drugs in his music (i.e., “Mask Off“) that Wade wishes would come to an end. Wade states:
“Future, that’s blood. But, I still feel like he can be more creative in his lyrics.”
Nevertheless, all eras eventually come to an end and with consciously aware artists like J. Cole, Chance the Rapper, Logic and Kendrick Lamar doing big things in music these days, we may see an end to all the “drug rap” real soon.
Finally is Ray Murray who just may be the most humble one out of the trio. Although he’s pretty quiet, he serves as somewhat of a back bone for Organized Noize. He also served as a mentor for Goodie Mobb member Big Gipp who credits Murray for teaching him the art of rap early in his career in the group’s 2016 Netflix documentary The Art of Organized Noize. In the documentary directed by Quincy Jones III, we also find out Ray Murray is a graffiti artist and when I ask Murray if he still does his graffiti when he’s not making music he replies: “What you know about graffiti?” When I ask Murray who his top three producers of all time are, he politely states, “Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Teddy Riley and Rico Wade.”
No doubt Organized Noize has already cemented their position in music history. However, they are not done. With new projects coming up soon including Big Boi’s new album Boomiverse which the trio executive-produced, these guys are back in business. In a time where everything is being recycled in music and originality is almost non-existent, it’s nice to know that Organized Noize is here to bring some creativity back to the game. Purchase the Organized Noize EP here and stay tuned for upcoming news from Atlanta’s legendary production trio via their website http://therealonp.com/. Keep up the awesome work fellas! ❤
Yassmin Abdel-Magied is not your average 25-year-old professional. She has already established herself as a successful mechanical engineer, author, youth advocate, political commentator (her exclusive TEDx video titled What does my headscarf mean to you? has garnered 1,948,952 views). Plus, she almost became an official Formula One race car driver due to her love for fast cars but decided to put that career on hold and focus on her Youth Without Borders foundation that she founded when she was only sixteen.
On our initial meeting in a small patisserie in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, Yassmin comes off as super humble. The vibrant colors in Yassmin’s Hijab or Kimar (head scarf worn by Muslim women) make the beautiful features in her face stand out even more. In addition to all this, Yassmin’s huge smile brightens up the already sun-drenched patisserie. After finally getting our coffee and finding two available seats, Yassmin and I formally introduce ourselves to one other. After speaking briefly about my Fencing career which Yassmin seems to be interested in, I begin to ask her a whole slew of questions. I’m the most impressed by Yassmin’s modesty. Although she has achieved a lot more in life than most people her age, her journey is one of endurance, patience and strength that started all the way back in her native land of Khartoum, the capital of Sudan.
Yassmin’s family, originally from Khartoum, migrated to Australia when Yassmin was just a young girl. When Yassmin and her family arrived to Australia in the early 90’s, they were one of only two Sudanese families in the region and had to acclimate to all the strange new ways of the Aussies. However, it was Yassmin’s mother, an architect herself, who always instilled in Yassmin to never forget where she came from. These words of wisdom would carry Yassmin through the more difficult times in her life.
The first question that comes to mind after engaging in conversation with Yassmin who seems so joyful and upbeat is — why mechanical engineering as a career? Yassmin obviously has the talents to be anything she wants but chose working on an oil rig as her full-time job (gotta keep your day job). Working on the oil rigs sometimes leaves Yassmin far out in the middle of the vast ocean for months at a time where she is often the only woman around several men. Once she explains to me that she comes from a family of engineers and architects and that the challenge of working on the oil rigs is what excites her, it starts to make more sense.
So now, the next question that comes to my mind is what does someone do to bring them joy and break the monotony of being away from family and friends for months at a time? “I love listening to music while I’m out on the rigs!” Yassmin replies boisterously. This makes perfect sense because if I know anything, it’s that music brings you joy no matter where you are in the world. When I ask her what particular artists she enjoys listening to, she shocks me when she answers that she adores popular 80’s singer/songwriter Tracy Chapman. The late 80’s was the time that Chapman was prominent in music and Yassmin had not even been born yet. I was definitely born and can recall this time clearly because I remember playing my mother’s Tracy Chapman cassette tape over and over again until the brown tape popped. However, Yassmin Abdel-Magied wasn’t even a thought when Tracy Chapman was on top of the charts, so this just goes to show how ahead of her time she is.
In addition to Tracy Chapman, Yassmin mentions Drake (of course), Janelle Monae, and a few other popular artists that she enjoys listening to, to keep her up while out on the oil rigs. She then asks me who some of my favorite artists are and I reply with the usual, Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z and Nas. I also tell her that I enjoy listening to all types of Trap music and that more recently I’ve been listening to Nigerian-American artist, Jidenna. After promising to exchange our favorite music playlists online at a later time, Yassmin wishes me well in all my future endeavors and rushes off to her next appointment. Still, the short time that we got to meet and chat about our lives over coffee in that small patisserie on a warm summer day in Brooklyn brought memories that will last a lifetime.