Photo: Yoshitoshi Records
PREMIERE: Sharam Debuts "Exodus" Mix Featuring James Baldwin
"Dance music is and has always been about inclusion and acceptance. I wanted to celebrate that by shining light on James Baldwin's legacy as a writer and civil rights activist," Sharam writes in this exclusive, personal letter
At Coachella 2019, GRAMMY-winning house legends Deep Dish, consisting of Iranian DJ/producers Sharam and Dubfire, reunited for a set in the Sahara tent. During Weekend Two, they played Sharam's techno banger "Exodus," released a month later on his Yoshitoshi imprint. Now, Sharam revisits the track with a powerful 2020 update—a sample of one of author and civil rights activist James Baldwin's speeches—and reflects on the early house tracks that introduced him to other racial justice leaders as a young immigrant in America. You can pre-order "Exodus (Pin Drop Mix)" here.
When I came to America as a young kid I didn't know much about it, other than what I had seen on television in Iran—shows like "Sesame Street," "Fat Albert" or a few American movies that made their way to TV in Iran pre-revolution, which typically starred Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood. I also knew about Muhammad Ali, as my father and brothers used to stay up late to watch him fight.
When we immigrated to the U.S. and I started to attend school, I studied American history but didn't really grasp or understand much other than topical information because of the language barrier. My sole focus was to learn the language as quickly as I could, so the television became my best friend again, this time mostly MTV. I soaked up as much music as I possibly could. I would write down and track the MTV Top 20 countdown every week like a trainspotter to see how the songs did in the charts from week to week.
Pop culture was my pathway to learning about American culture and to understanding the language. I had an insatiable appetite for discovering new music, almost an obsession, which led me to become a DJ and producer. I recall a few tracks I came across in the record stores early on featuring the spoken word. These unique records started doing the rounds at the stores I frequented. Little did I know that those songs were serving as an educational device for me and so many others. I was introduced to Martin Luther King, Jr. and to Maya Angelou. Speech and poetry over house grooves. Those records were my entry point to learning about these great American historical figures. Those pivotal spoken word house records opened my eyes and ears to the civil rights movement.
Fast-forward to 2020 where awareness surrounding racial equality has witnessed a new awakening. I thought this would be a great opportunity to use the medium with which I was introduced to civil rights, to bring awareness to another civil rights titan James Baldwin, one of the great writers, orators and civil rights leaders of the 20th century. His poetry, novels and speeches brought to light the racial and sexual discrimination issues facing our society throughout his lifetime.
I'm honored to present this reworked version of my 2019 track "Exodus" featuring Baldwin's remarks from his famous debate with William F. Buckley in 1965 at Cambridge University about Race In America. His powerful words illustrate the divide in accomplishing the American dream, something that is still present in today's world and something that has resonated with me.
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As many of you know, house music means more to me than a craft or a career. To me, it is also capable of being educational, a source of inspiration and an exchange of ideas and wisdom. This Friday I'll be releasing a very special re-release of my track "Exodus" on @yoshitoshirecs , and I can't wait to share it with you. Proceeds will be going to Hampshire College's James Baldwin Scholars Program. You can find the pre-order link in my bio. Stay tuned for more details!
I hope this record can help shed light on his work and inspire others to discover his important work. I will donate all proceeds from this song to Hampshire College's James Baldwin Scholars Program, a fund which supports students who have great potential but who, because they have attended under-resourced and underperforming schools, might otherwise lose the opportunity to attend college.
2020: a defining moment for everyone who cares about equality in America and around the world. Dance music is and has always been about inclusion and acceptance. I wanted to celebrate that by shining light on James Baldwin's legacy as a writer and civil rights activist who has inspired many of today's great minds.
Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com
Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors
Pearl Jam's Mike McCready says "if you love music," record stores are the place to find it
Record Store Day 2019 will arrive on April 13 and this year's RSD Ambassadors are Pearl Jam. Past ambassadors include Dave Grohl, Metallica, Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P), and 61st GRAMMY Awards winner for Best Rock Song St. Vincent.
McCready was also the 2018 recipient of MusiCares' Stevie Ray Vaughan Award.
The band was formed in 1990 by McCready, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, and Eddie Vedder, and they have played with drummer Matt Cameron since 2002. They have had five albums reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and four albums reach No. 2.
"Pearl Jam is honored to be Record Store Day's Ambassador for 2019. Independent record stores are hugely important to me," Pearl Jam's Mike McCready said in a statement publicizing the peak-vinyl event. "Support every independent record store that you can. They're really a good part of society. Know if you love music, this is the place to find it."
With a dozen GRAMMY nominations to date, Pearl Jam's sole win so far was at the 38th GRAMMY Awards for "Spin The Black Circle" for Best Hard Rock Performance.
Pearl Jam will be performing on March 3 in Tempe, Ariz. at the Innings festival, on June 15 in Florence, Italy at the Firenze Rocks Festival and at another festival in Barolo, Italy on June 17. On July 6 Pearl Jam will headline London's Wembley Stadium.
Photo: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images
Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show
Dark punk legends to play first show with Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only since last year's Riot Fest reunion
There's big news today for punk-rock fans aware that the Misfits made much more than just T-shirts.
The massively influential punk band announced a special show touted as the "only 2017 performance in this world… or any world" and billed as "The Original Misfits" in Los Angeles at the Forum on Dec. 30.
This will be the first Misfits show featuring original singer Glenn Danzig and original bassist Jerry Only with long-time guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein since the band reunited for a pair of Riot Fest appearances in Chicago and Denver in 2016. Last year's Riot Fest gigs, which featured drummer Dave Lombardo, marked the first time in 33 years the original Misfits members played together.
"OK Los Angeles, you've waited almost 35 years for this, here's your chance to see the "Original Misfits" in this Exclusive L.A. only performance." said Glenn Danzig. "No Tour, No BS, just one night of dark metal-punk hardcore brutality that will go down in the history books. See you there."
Tickets for this "one night only" show go on sale Friday, August 25.
Photo: Anthony Harvey/Getty Images
Lady Gaga Steps In To Support Youth Impacted By Hurricanes
GRAMMY winner pledges support for those impacted by hurricanes this year through Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program
On Oct. 10 Lady Gaga announced she is devoting her $1 million donation in support of those impacted by the recent hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico and the earthquakes in Mexico, to a specific cause — the mental and emotional well being of children and youth.
Gaga announced on her Born This Way Foundation website she will support Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program, which uses a variety of tools to help young people deal with trauma in the wake of natural disasters.
"Through a curriculum that includes cooperative play, discussion, art, meditation, and mindfulness practices, young people learn to recognize and understand their emotions and develop healthy coping skills," Gaga wrote. "Tens of thousands of youth have benefited from the program since it’s development in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and Save the Children is working to bring it to hundreds of thousands more in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico."
The announcement came on World Mental Health Day, and the Fame Monster has invited all of us to step up and consider making a contribution to the Journey of Hope program to support to mental and emotional needs of children.
"Mental health is just as vital to our wellbeing as physical health. That’s true for each of us, everyday, but it’s especially important for those coping with disaster and recovering from trauma," wrote Lady Gaga. "We must do everything within our power to support the full, vibrant recovery of these communities, from meeting their immediate needs to helping them to rebuild sustainably."
Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards
Dreamville, Meek Mill, 21 Savage, Tyler, The Creator, and YBN Cordae all earn nominations in the category
The 2020 GRAMMYs are just around the corner, and now the nominations are in for the coveted honor of Best Rap Album. While we'll have to wait until the 62nd GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Jan. 26 to find out who will win, let's take a look at which albums have been nominated for Best Rap Album.
Revenge of the Dreamers III – Dreamville
Dreamers III, the third installment in the label’s Revenge of the Dreamers compilation series, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and achieved gold status this past July. In addition to a Best Rap Album nod, Dreamers III is also nominated for Best Rap Performance next year for album track “Down Bad,” featuring J.I.D, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG, and Young Nudy.
Championships – Meek Mill
In many ways, Championships represents a literal and metaphorical homecoming for Meek Mill. Released in November 2018, Championships is the Philadelphia rapper’s first artist album following a two-year prison sentence he served after violating his parole in 2017. Championships, naturally, sees Meek tackling social justice issues stemming from his prison experience, including criminal justice reform. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, his second chart-topper following 2015’s Dreams Worth More Than Money, and reached platinum status in June 2019. Meek Mill's 2020 Best Rap Album nod marks his first-ever GRAMMY nomination.
i am > i was – 21 Savage
Breakout rapper and four-time GRAMMY nominee 21 Savage dropped i am > i was, his second solo artist album, at the end of 2018. The guest-heavy album, which features contributions from Post Malone, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, and many others, has since charted around the world, topped the Billboard 200 – a first for the artist – in the beginning of 2019, and achieved gold status in the U.S. As well, nine songs out of the album’s 15 original tracks landed on the Hot 100 chart, including multi-platinum lead single “A Lot,” which is also nominated for Best Rap Song next year. 21 Savage’s 2020 Best Rap Album nomination, which follows Record of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance nods for his 2017 Post Malone collaboration, "Rockstar,” marks his first solo recognition in the top rap category.
IGOR – Tyler, The Creator
The eccentric Tyler, The Creator kicked off a massive 2019 with his mid-year album, IGOR. Released this past May, IGOR, Tyler’s fifth solo artist album, is his most commercially successful project to date. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, marking his first time topping the coveted chart, while its lead single, "Earfquake,” peaked at No. 13, his highest entry on the Hot 100. Produced in full by Tyler and featuring guest spots from fellow rap and R&B stars Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, Solange, and Playboi Carti, among many others, IGOR follows the rapper’s 2017 album, Flower Boy, which received the Best Rap Album nod that same year.
The Lost Boy – YBN Cordae
Emerging rapper YBN Cordae, a member of the breakout YBN rap collective, released his debut album, The Lost Boy, to widespread critical acclaim this past July. The 15-track release is stacked with major collaborations with hip-hop heavyweights, including Anderson .Paak, Pusha T, Meek Mill, and others, plus production work from J. Cole and vocals from Quincy Jones. After peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard 200, The Lost Boy now notches two 2020 GRAMMY nominations: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for album track “Bad Idea,” featuring Chance the Rapper.