KEXP Suggests: Paul's Boutique Tribute in Brooklyn 11/16 + Exclusive Interview

Interviews, KEXP Suggests
Janice Headley

This Wednesday, November 16th, Brooklyn is stepping out to pay tribute to the Beastie Boys’ 1989 masterpiece Paul’s Boutique, an album that KEXP dissected last year. The event is being organized by the Hip Hop Loves Foundation, a non-profit based in New York with a worldwide reach, and a mission to "educate underprivileged people globally through hip-hop culture’s positive and unifying attributes." We had a chance to chat with the organization's co-founder Rene John-Sandy II about the event:

  • What drew you to choose this album, out of all the great hip hop albums throughout history?
  • The concept of the event developed stemming from a dear friend, Casey Hargreaves, who is an avid listener to the station. One day she brought to my attention the piece that you did on breaking down the album and the amount of samples on it. From there, I thought it would be an innovative idea to [organize] a tribute event and spin it into a fundraising event for the Hip Hop Loves Foundation. After discussing this with an advisory board member of Hip Hop Loves named Havana Joe, we felt it made sense to reach out to get the station involved, especially since it is a public radio station and can benefit from public support and funding just like our organization.
  • BeastieBoysPaul'sBoutiqueDo you remember when you first heard Paul’s Boutique?
  • I bought the LP from a Latin record shop in Spanish Harlem and brought it home to listen to it. Definitely felt it had a more mellow vibe then Licensed to Ill which took a sec to adapt to.
  • Can you describe the concept of the event? Kevin [Cole] tells us it’s an evening of killer DJs mixing the samples that were used in the album — will the DJs be doing this live? Will they arrive with their remix tracks already in hand, or is it more of an improvisation of-the-moment mix?
  • The DJs will play the samples from the album and mix them with other songs in their sets as well. It's such a diverse range of genres of music which will make this a really fun event. Hip Hop is like the "gumbo" of music, because when using samples you can have multiple genres of music in one song. There will be some great songs played from the hip hop "Golden Era." The DJ mixes will be done live and on a whim. This will be an EPIC event!
  • You’ve got a great line-up of DJs, including DJ Scratch, DJ Jon Quick, and Biz Markie, who went through his own sampling lawsuit in the early ‘90s by sampling the Gilbert O’Sullivan song "Alone Again.” How did you go about choosing the line-up?
  • The line up came pretty naturally through my relationships with everyone through the years. Biz and I really connected from the Spitkicker Tour and Crew. DJ Jon Quick is a long time friend, a member the Hip Hop Loves Advisory Board, and we collaborate on many projects. DJ Scratch and I became friends from when I managed Pharoahe Monch and he produced a few songs on the Internal Affairs LP and from there we built a solid relationship. We have some other goodies that will be present at the event as well.
  • What are your feelings on the early ‘90s crackdown on samples? Do you feel like it hurt the scene?
  • I feel it's a double edged sword situation. Once hip hop became really popular and it started monetizing in many facets of the culture, it was evident that this would come to age. In some cases it did hurt the scene because some artists really relied on samples. On the other hand, it did make artists become more innovative after the crackdown to start chopping samples and just making "original" beats. Unfortunately, when entities were getting paid for the samples being cleared, there are artists that did not see a dime from that because either a label or publishing company own all the rights to their music. It was a really fun time to hear the creativity how and where artists used samples.
  • You’ve also got legendary photographer Ricky Powell involved, often called the unofficial “fourth Beastie Boy” — can you tell us more about what he’ll have on display?
  • When myself and Havana Joe discussed the concept, we thought it would be a great idea to get some artwork or photography involved. Joe is connected to Ricky, and we'll have a slide show during the event, as well as possibly do a silent auction for some photos. The photos will embody a lot images throughout the Beastie Boys career.
  • Beastie Boys
    photo by Gregory A. Perez
  • We’d also love to ask you about Hip Hop Loves! What inspired you to found this non-profit organization back in 2009? What kind-of workshops do you offer?
  • Myself, Bahiyah Yasmeen Robinson, and Sebastian Bardin-Greenberg co-founded the organization. The concept stemmed from an idea of doing a concert in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. After further conversation and meetings, we decided that we want to do something more impactful in the community of Rio, so we decided to produce workshops based off the pillars of hip hop, sports, and arts, and use technology to connect youths globally. Our first workshop seminar took place in the favelas in Rio. Now it has expanded to where we have produced and facilitated workshop on four continents. We'd love to do them in all seven continents, and just have to figure out how to do so in Antartica!
  • Some of our workshops are: Emcee'ing, DJ'ing, Production Graffiti, Breakdancing, Hip Hip Recording, History of Hip Hop, Boxing, Capoeira, Kickboxing, Hip Hop Cardio, Basketball, Soccer (futbol), Photography, Art Mural, Yoga, Meditation, and more. Hip Hop is beyond music. It's a culture so you can create so much from it because of this.
  • You just launched a new podcast focusing on International Hip Hop -- can you tell us more about that? Does it have a single or rotating host?
  • Yes, indeed! It's called Global Love Warming. We play hip hop music from artists from all over the world, and some even rhyme in their vernacular language. We interview artists and other prominent figures to talk about what they are doing, and the impact they are creating in the global community. It's an exciting venture. There's so much great hip hop music that people just may not know about and we choose to bring that to light. The more people know more about one another, the easier it is for us to coexist on this Earth. Currently an episode is released the 15th of every month. You can listen to it on Dash Radio at 3pm Eastern Time / Noon Pacific Time. Also, it is posted on Soundcloud and Mixcloud. It's also being played via the Naboth Rizla app, out of Zimbabwe, Africa. I am the host of the show and Greg Schick who is a Hip Hop Loves advisory board member and founder of World Hip Hop Market, curates the music of this podcast. The feedback has been great for just being a month in. We are planning to rotate some Mix DJs.
  • What does the Hip Hop Loves Foundation have planned for the future?
  • There's a lot manifesting for Hip Hop Loves. Myself and some of the HHL Advisory Board members are traveling to Haiti over Thanksgiving weekend from November 23rd to 27th to bring supplies and support from our fundraising events.
  • We are in the process of completing a compilation called the Hip Hop Loves Compilation: Hip Hop 4 Haiti. So far, we have a collective of artists from forty different countries on the project. The artists are ranging from Michael MacDonald, Sheena Easton, Phife, Sadat X, Daddy-O from Stetasonic, DJ Scratch, Delta (Australia), Yusuf Salaam from the Central Park Five Jogger Murder Trial, Former NBA Player John Wallace, a Jungle Brothers "Straight out the Jungle" remix with all African emcees, Les Nubians, Lucille (Israel), Narcy (Iraq), and many others. The scheduled release date is May 18th, 2017, which is Flag Day for Haiti. Proceeds made from the compilation will go to HHLoves to fund the workshops that we do and especially to focus on producing them in Haiti. The other half of the proceeds will split between two organizations that are doing a lot of work to rebuild Haiti. Once the agreements are finalized, we will be able to announce them.
  • We are co-producing a an International Hip Hop Festival at Trinity College from April 7th to April 9th. The headliner will be revealed in the next couple of weeks. We will be facilitating workshops with a group of 100 kids from the Hartford area during that. This is being spearheaded by our advisory board member Greg Schick, who founded the festival.
  • We are scheduling another workshop seminar with youths at Darsham Refugee Camp in Ebril, Iraq, in a collaboration with UNICEF. We are in the developmental stages to launch workshops in London, Geneva, Jamaica, Atlanta, and Adelaide, Australia in the first quarter on 2017.
  • We are looking forward to creating a lot of transformation on the Earth.

The Paul's Boutique Tribute is this Wednesday, November 16th at Kinfolk [90 Wythe Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn] from 7:00 PM to 2:00 AM. Tickets are available online here.

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